Elder Zachary D. Johnson's Mission

Elder Zachary D. Johnson's Mission
Elder Zac Johnson has been called to serve in the Brazil Santos Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and wants you to share in his adventure! "Take the leap with me."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Brazil: Week 1

Well this place is nuts. Too much has happened that can fit in this email. Since arriving i´ve had some of the best food i´ve ever had, sweat more than I ever have, hardly have drank enough, seen the worst poverty ever, seen the most humble people, been treated with unrivaled kindness, and have been so loved I can not adequately describe it. 

The people here have nothing. literally nothing. We had lunch (the big meal here) with the ward mission leader´s family. His son´s prized possession was 2 stacks of business cards. Every store he goes in, he gets a card. He handled it with more care than a mom does a newborn. BAM, humbled. I´ve had people who live in shacks give us glasses of cold water, that they save for weeks to buy. We work in the favelas (slums/shanty towns) and the people there are so humble. There is an investigator family here that I just love. They have an 7 year old daughter that calls me her american. Yesterday we had lunch with a member family and a couple nonmembers and there was a little boy who was 9 or 10 who realized that I couldn´t speak well and can only really understand when people talk slowly. So, that´s what he did. It wasn´t insulting but rather caring. He wanted me to feel like a part of the group. He showed me the greatest example of including others. we live right by the church building (one block south) with 2 other elders. one of them, elder lopes, is so awesome. He has really helped me a ton. My comp speaks no english so yes, this has been a long week.

My birthday  was the greatest one i´ve ever had. We spent all day in the favela, teaching people. We teach the first lesson every single day. It was so hot but i´m not sunburned (actually getting a tan WHADDUP). at night there was a concert here so the bus ride home took almost an hour instead of the usual 20 mins. But we got off a stop early and walked right past our street. I asked elder olivera what we were doing and he said that we were going to stop at a members house real quick. it was pretty late so i was like ummmmm okay. When we got to their tiny cramped apartment, the lights were off and there was a cake with candles there. The other elders had set this up during the day (easy to do when you can´t understand the freaking language haha) and they were there with this young family. it was a surprise party! Needless to say, I was speechless! I had mentioned that the 25th was my birthday my first day here and they remembered. In broken english, elder lopes asked me, ´´Did you think that we forgot your birthday?´´ This family had nothing, lived in a slum, and they made me a huge birthday cake. How many times can one be humbled in one week?!?!?!?!

I love it here. Slowly I am understanding more but it is coming very slowly. I get stared at a lot because I am the only american people have seen in a long time. Elder Goldade is in my district so that rocks. But I´m so happy to be here and i have nothing to complain about. my area doesn´t have any mosquitos so I´m still alive! Though, i wouldn´t mind some snow.

I´m super sorry about the short call. my flight out of tucson was delayed taking off. I´m pretty pissed about that. I hope you guys aren´t too upset at me. 

I´m doing really well here but the language is extremely hard for me. It´ll come in time. Oh, my 3 month anniversary is in 3 days! Isn´t that nuts?

Enjoy the cold weather!! miss you guys a ton!

Love you guys, 

Elder Johnson

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Letter From Sister Cabral

Dear Brother & Sister Johnson,

We were so excited to welcome your great son to our mission last Tuesday! We are so glad to have your son serving here in Santos. We will keep you updated periodically on how he is doing. We will do our best to take extra good care of him.

Here is some information about our mission:

We welcomed 16 new missionaries to the Brazil Santos Mission this past Tuesday -- 11 elders and 5 sisters! They received training, were interviewed by President Cabral and had dinner at the Mission House. Transfers were next day and the missionaries met their trainers and took a taxi out to their new areas. Elder Johnson will be trained by Elder Oliveira. He has been assigned to serve in the Enseada 2 Ward  of the Guarujá Stake. I attached some photos of your missionary.

We were very impressed with how dedicated and prepared this new group of missionaries is. We know that they will do a terrific job building up the kingdom of God here in Santos. We will do our best to take great care of them. We have our own missionaries son and youngest daughter who are serving in Tennesse Knoxville Mission and Panama, Panama City Misison, so we know how you are feeling.

If you want to follow the mission's  Facebook group, you must invite me to your group (SCabral Missão Santos ) and I'll invite you to our mission's group (Missão Brasil Santos). I try to update it every time I'm with the missionaries with new photos. The p-day in our mission is on Mondays, so you should be getting your first email from your missionary then. If you wish to send letters or packages, the mailing address for the mission is:

(Put the full name of your missionary here)
Av. Dona Ana Costa, 414 - sala 24 - Gonzaga
Missão Brasil Santos
Santos - SP - Brasil

DO NOT DECLARE what you are sending, JUST declare as  MISSIONARY'S SUPPLIES.

We are very blessed to be in Santos to help build up the Lord's kingdom. We thank you for sending us such prepared, worthy and dedicated missionary. We pray that your family will be blessed while you have a missionary serving full-time for the Lord.

If you need anything, let me know, please.

Best regards,

Sister Cabral

Missão Santos - Sempre Fiéis

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Video overview of Santos, Brazil

Disclaimer:  This is a tourist department videobook showing some of the beautiful areas in Santos, Brazil.  It is also in Portuguese.  However, it does give you an idea of the area Elder Johnson will be serving.  It will also be interesting to compare his photos over the next 21 months to those sights within the video.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thanks for the memories, Arizona!

Quick post from Elder Johnson's father:   Earlier this evening, Elder Zac Johnson boarded his flight that would take him to Dallas/Ft. Worth and then on to Sao Paulo, Brazil.  13+ hours of flight time, plus an hour long bus ride and our son will be in Santos, Brazil.  His mother and I would like to thank President and Sister Killpack, the members of the Camino Principal Ward who fed our son, and the missionaries who have become life-long friends to our son, Elder Onti and Elder Daniel.  We would especially like to thank, Elder Netane.  Elder Netane was Zac's trainer and exceeded all of our expectations, hopes and prayers.  Thank you for being such a good Elder, a great friend, and someone our son can always look up to.  He loved you very much and is saddened by his departure.

Friday, January 17, 2014

It's Here!!! It's Here!!!!!

I got my visa and I leave for Brazil on Monday! My flight leaves at 4pm here so expect a phone call monday afternoon/evening! It's crazy how it all worked out!
We got to go to the Gila Valley Temple on Wednesday and after we got out, I saw that we had gotten a text. It was from the guy in charge of money. It said: "Hi, I didn't know Elder Johnson was leaving monday. So elder johnson should take out $20 of the $40 that I put on the card and I will delete $40 on the next load." As I read that, my heart stopped. I'm leaving Monday?! That can't be right! So I called him and said that I had heard nothing about my visa. "Oh, crap... I shouldn't have told you..."
Well 15 minutes later I got a call from President Killpack and he told me that they had recieved my visa and that I would be leaving on Monday. Wow.
So I was kinda glad I opened my package from you guys. Thank you SO much. You guys really went above and beyond. I don't know why I'm so lucky! I hope you guys haven't sent anything recently because I don't know if I'll get it.
Besides the visa news, I had my first "bible bash" experience yesterday. These two pentecostal guys came up and chewed us out for a solid 45 mins. I was so frustrated. Finally I asked if we had changed their minds. "No you haven't." "Well you haven't changed ours either but it was great talking with you so good bye!" I replied. "One last question, please," asked one of them. "Will we see you in heaven or will you see us?"
Now, what I said wasn't very Christ-like but I had to say it. "Well, you guys are a bit older than us, I imagine you'll get there first so I guess we'll see you there!" They were stunned by my response. They walked away, having wasted their time and seeing us leaving with smiles on our faces and talking with someone else. Bible-bashing is lame and a total waste of time.
Well, I think that's it for this week. I'll be calling monday night so get excited :D
Love you guys!
Elder Johnson

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 11: Not feeling so hot..in the desert.

Well, this has been the roughest week of the whole mission. We had to drop our investigator so now we don't have anyone taking lessons at this point. Laziness killed our investigator. She would not work at all to gain a testimony and honestly, the gospel takes work and effort. Everything that lasts in this world and the next requires work. THEN on thursday our WML fed us Papa Johns anddddddd I got food poisoning! YAY! I threw up 8 times in the night and it was not fun :) But it's all good now! Better to have that happen now than in Brazil! Even though I felt queasy and only got 3 hours of sleep, I was up at 6:30 and tracting all the next day. I didn't come on a mission to sit on my butt and do nothing! The weather here is so nice and I keep hearing about the ice storms that are nailing the East coast right now. Any of that get to you guys?
Elder Holland cancelled last second on us! So, we heard from Elder Jim L Wright instead and it was really good! For having to talk to a room full of missionaries who were expecting Elder Holland, he did a fantastic job and I learned so much about work and staying focused!
Yes, this week was tough but I still love the mission. You meet all sorts of people and there is none of that Southern Hospitality here. I miss that the most! You say hi to people and they just keep on walking! Lameeee. I'm glad you guys liked the photos! Yeah, those guys are crazy and I love them to death. I'll do my best to send more before I leave!
Austin - TWO EMAILS IN ONE WEEK I THINK I"M GONNA DIE. haha just kidding. Bro you have got some great goals (don't lie, I know your KD sucks :)). Keep working hard in school! It'll pay off, I promise! You are doing a fantastic job, just keep it going for one more semester!
Cam - email
Lexi - How have you been?? I was given a picture by this little girl in our ward and it reminded me of all the times you did that to me when I was home! I miss ya tons and I hope your braces aren't killing ya!
Well, next week I think you'll be hearing from me on tuesday because next week is the end of the transfer, so we'll see if I move or get a new comp or stay here!
See you tomorrow,
Elder Johnson

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week 10: Tucson

Hey fam!
So, I don't really have any crazy stories this week. I am sending home my 1st memory card and there is a video of me talking in the end so watch that! Honestly, this has been a pretty good week.
My first apartment
We haven't found any solid investigators though. Heather's date got moved to the 25th so my first convert baptism could be on my BIRTHDAY! How cool would that be?? But I would like to share a little thought with you guys:
Elder Netane and me

In Alma 27, Alma experiences joy so great that he falls to the earth in thanksgiving. The very next verse asks us to try to be "humble seekers of happiness." That phrase really stands out to me. I'm all about happiness so I was wondering how I could be that. My mission president gave us a thing called the Fourth Missionary (read it, it is awesome). In it, the guy gives a definition of what happiness really is. Happiness is having righteous works AND righteous desires. Now, how do we have righteous works? I have started the D+C this week (on Section 47, whaddup!) and the Lord constantly gives us the answer: Keep my commandments. The answer is obedience. It all comes down to the things we view as "boundaries" are actually things that keep us safe! Watch the Mormon Message from Elder Holland about "Staying in the Lines." Rules are just like the string of a kite, without the string that "holds it back," we can't rise to our highest heights. I can promise you that obedience brings true and lasting happiness. Temporary pleasure or happiness is not real happiness. Real happiness shouldn't have to go away! When we are happy, we stay happy! When we are obedient, we are happy. Remember the verse in Mosiah 2: Remember the BLESSED and HAPPY state of those who keep the commandments of God.
The answer is right there! So, Austin, Cam, Lexi: Listen to Mom and Dad. Listen to the things you learn in church. I promise you will be happier. Life is supposed to be happy. Make it that way.
Love you guys and just wait for the memory card to get there. It is awesome!
Miss ya tons,
Elder Johnson

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas in Tucson!

Skype Visit!!!
Making gingerbread houses with the Evans family!

Well, another good week here in AZ! Christmas was amazing and i'm so grateful to have spent it out here! Here is my story for this week:
So, we were walking down the road with spirits kinda low because this atheist pulled out all this anti-mormon literature and was just chastising us. We pass a house that had a ton of orange trees, like 7 or 8. A lot of houses have orange trees but these were loaded with oranges! So, Elder Netane goes up to their door to ask if he can pick an orange. The lady comes out with two grocercy bags and, in broken english, told us to pick some. So we picked 4 each but that was not good enough for her! She ended up filling both our bags (about 35 oranges each) and was super excited that someone wanted some of her oranges. In HORRIFIC spanish, Elder Netane said that we were Mormon missionaries and she said "I know, I know, I Jehovah Witness." We got Christmas oranges from a J-Dub. Isn't that awesome?! Her kindness was so incredible! Sometimes people put their differences aside and really are kind to others.
Austin- Great talking to ya bro! Enjoy the TV but remember what is really important. Stay focused on the good stuff! "Lay up treasures in heaven."
Cam- emaillllll
Lexi- It was awesome to see ya! You are lookin mighty fine in those braces! I miss you so much and good luck in school this next semester!
Miss you guys a ton!
Ate o proximo tempo,
Elder Johnson