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, February 24, 2014

An important lesson learned.

Dearest Family,

How is everything? Is it getting any warmer? It is still hot as always but we have had a lot of rain this week! 

Well, this week has been quite the week! However, I only really want to talk about a principle of missionary work for me that has been very prevalent this week. One day this week we had 6 lessons. SIX. We spiritually kicked butt. But it was the contrast of two of the lessons that was interesting. One of our lessons was a street contact we made and the Spirit was not there at all. The guy was distracted the whole time and his neighbor was blasting this screaming preacher the whole time. And I could not say a correct sentence to save my life. It was horrible! I was struggling so bad to say basic things. We ended that lesson then headed to one with our progressing investigators. There, we had the spirit. We taught a lesson about how the atonement helps us through our trials, which we didn´t plan on teaching. I was saying things that I hadn´t studied. The gift of tongues was there. And after we left, I was back to my regular speaking abilities. In the D+C it says that ´´if you don´t have the spirit, you shall not teach.´´ That is not a commandment that you will not teach, but it is saying that the people you are trying to teach will not learn. 

Here in the mission field, the spirit is everything. Even when you feel prompted to talk to someone and they say no. You just planted a seed for a future missionary opportunity later in their life. 

So, always strive to have the spirit in your life. How can you always have it with you? Obedience. That is the key. That is the secret. In fact, it isn´t a secret at all. It is a heavenly promise repeated over and over in all the standard works. So... Vamos!

Austin - Keep it up! You are rocking it. I´ve gotten several emails from members back home about how well you are doing. You are doing everything right but that doesn´t mean temptations won´t come. Be prepared! It is always when we are doing things right that the hardest temptations come!

Cam - We have an investigator that is your Brazilian twin. Literally he is a clone of you. But he is doing his best to spiritually find himself. I hope you are doing all you can to grow yourself spiritually. His name is Junior and he is 12. You should hear him pray. He prays for each family member individually that they will have better lives. So, Cameron, keep your focus! If you need to reevaluate your priorities, then do so! Change is a great thing!

Lexi - Well, here you would die because there are no chick-fil-a´s here! There are a ton of mcdonalds but they are expensive!!!! (a combo meal is about 10 american dollars!). Thank you for making all those bracelets! They will be a hit here! 

President Cabral is in the process of deciding what we will do if (most likely when) there is a riot due to the World Cup. There will not be any games played in the mission boundaries but my area shut down yesterday because everyone was watching the São Paulo v. Santos game. It is the big rivalry here in soccer.

One of the nights this week I just looked out at the city and was just so grateful to be here and for the rapid improvement of my language. I truly know that faith and attitude is everything. Have an awesome week!

Elder Johnson

Monday, February 17, 2014

Opa, Familia

Dearest Family,

Well, this week was kinda crazy. I had to travel to Santos with another new american elder.... just the two of us... in the biggest city in our mission... it was an adventure. I had to do that twice to finally get registered with the police here so I finally have my Brazilian ID (which is just a piece of paper haha). But the real cool thing happened on Saturday. 

Zone Conference (yes, my eyes are closed)
Zone Conference
I went on an exchange with Elder Lopes, who is a complete stud. We were trying to teach as many of our investigators as possible to get them motivated to attend church. As we were walking down the street this old man came up to us and repeated 3 times: ´´Homens de Deus, vêm para esta casa la´´ (Men of God, come to this house over here). He led us to a random house where we met José, his sister, Eloi, and her son. The woman is around age 55. Turns out, she had this thought of ´´I need to attend the Mormon church this week´´ and when she saw us on the bus earlier in the day, she prayed that we would find her home. Well, this old man answered her prayer! Through conversation, we discovered that her son was a less active member! She wanted to be baptized with him but she wasn´t married at the time and was living with her boyfriend so she couldn´t be baptized. Now, she is single and after teaching the first lesson, we invited all three to church. After we returned home, we realized that her son, Jeferson, was on a list we had made of less actives that we felt needed a visit. His name was chosen after much prayer and we had no idea it was him!

Sunday morning came and we didn´t know what would happen. Eloi and José came! In fact, we had 3 other investigators come to church! Afterwards, Elder Lopes and I asked if she wanted to be baptized and she said yes! We taught her the word of wisdom and gave her her own copy of the Book of Mormon. Honestly, this whole experience was a miracle. Miracles happen on every exchange. This is a fact. I would rather have a miracle experience like this than be able to speak well at this point. It was a great blessing and I am so grateful for it!

The language is still crazy hard. I have moments where I can deliver a message flawlessly then 20 mins later, totally butcher the next lesson. It isn´t exactly encouraging but I would rather be here than in Tucson. Patience, patience, patience, right?  Positivity is what I´m focusing on haha Elder Rocha always asks if I´m happy and I just reply ´´Sempre´´.  I made a sign last night that I put on the wall by the door.  "PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY" So now when I leave, I'll give it a smack and try to speak this fetching language.  #GoIrish #missionaryswearwords.

 My companion is great, but he is difficult to talk to. I talk best with Elder Lopes. There is a huge language barrier between me and everyone. But the little kids here love me. All the 10-13 year olds love me for some reason haha. I haven´t missed a day of journal writing and I´ve almost filled journal #1. I´m super pumped for that.

Oh, Brazil fun facts: 

1. You can´t flush toilet paper here. Count your blessings!
2. Milk here comes in cartons and is irradiated so it isn´t refridgerated in stores, or at all for that matter. I haven´t had milk in a month. Count your blessings!
3. It rained for the first time since the day I arrived on saturday. We went out in the rain and just sat there at night. It was so refreshing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sempre Fiéis

Beleza? I hope so! I don´t really envy the snow that you guys have had. Although it is pretty hot here and I sweat buckets, I don´t sunburn so it is bearable! Not sunburning must be the gift of the spirit that I was blessed with, not the gift of tongues!

When I was having a particularly difficult day in the MTC, brother Paulich took me into another room and we had a little chat. After our talk, we both came to the conclusion that my lesson that I need to learn from the early part of my mission is to learn to have patience with myself. I did much better after that chat but ever since I got here it feels like there is this pressure to be fluent now. I don´t know. But I have spent hours and hours on my knees and in the scriptures (i have finished the D+C, pearl of GP and started the OT this week). I also read ´´our heritage´´ last night and something stood out. Lorenzo Snow (i think it was him) went on a mission to hawaii at age 16 and was fluent in 3 months. The author said that was the gift of tongues. The way that I have been viewing the gift of tongues has been completely wrong. I thought of it as this immediate transformation but it isn´t. Ignorance of youth huh?

Yesterday, Bishop pulled a fast one on us and asked all the missionaries to speak in church. It´s a good thing sacrament meeting is 3rd hour here! So I gave a short talk on faith and miracles. It was a miracle that I got through it haha. Now half the ward thinks I can understand portuguese and the other half doesn´t. One of the young women in the ward calls me ´´Elder não endendi´´ (Elder I don´t understand). Isn´t that nice? But all is well and I am understanding more and more each day. We clapped outside of a random door on friday (you don´t knock in Brazil, you clap and yell. it is pretty fantastic) and this lady answered the door. She was smoking and had a prosthetic leg but after we taught her the first lesson, she committed to baptism and to come to church that sunday. And she did! Even when we told her that she would have to quit smoking and drinking coffee, she said ´´No problem, I need to stop both anyway.´´ So, she is slated to be baptized the 19th and I am so stoked! We are also teaching a 13 year old and we are trying to get his dad to listen in but he is a bit stubborn. We have a couple more people that we have had for a while but Satan is hard at work. All one family has to do is get legally married and they can be baptized but the mom took the money that they have been saving and used it for a down payment for a new house. ÇALSKDJFAHGAGHUIAEGIERG. We´ll see what happens!

Lunch is the big meal here and they stuff you to the brim. I eat really well. The brazilian diet is very balanced. We hardly buy food because we are given left overs all the time. most of our money goes to the buses. We take the buses a lot and after a while, it gets pricey! I´ve been thinking about buying a cheap guitar here but I don´t know if I will. 

I am loving brazil and can understand more of the jokes and funny stories. Old Brazilian people are my favorite people in the whole world. They are so sarcastic and blunt. One old guy in his 80s had me in tears!
I hope you all are doing well! Enjoy school and work :)
Bom trabalho,
Elder Johnson

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Roller-Coaster That Is A Mission

Yeah, this week was hard. The beginning of the week was the worst. It all revolves around the language. It has been a particular struggle. Almost the entire ward thinks I can´t understand a thing, which is super fun. But therein lies my problem. I had been studying portuguese so that I could have conversations with the elders and other people. On thursday I only studied vocab for the lessons and both the lessons and the conversations went better. Though, it is still hard. I can´t really understand anyone. I know that I was called here to speak Portuguese but that doesn´t mean that makes it any easier. I realize that I have only been here for a very short time but when you can´t understand anyone and you hardly have an idea about what is going on, the days pass by very slowly and it honestly feels like I´ve been here forever. And with that, able to understand people. 

Besides the difficulties, Brazil is a beautiful place. Everything is just gorgeous. I have seen some of the most stunning landscapes and had some of the best food I´ve ever had. Today we went to a waterfall up in Bertioga with some other missionaries. It was sooooooo awesome. We took a bus, a boat, and a train just to get to the trail. From there we hiked through the jungle to a waterfall! 

Yesterday, I went on a split with Elder Lopes and the Bishop´s wife to visit one of her friends. Before we could give her the message, she burst in to tears and told us that she had been praying about what she should do to better follow Christ. She had gone to church that morning and felt nothing. But she came back and prayed some more and she said that she just needed to wait. Then we came to her door with a message about Christ. We got a return appointment and everything so it is super exciting! Also, Elder Oliveira and I might have a baptism soon! We are so close to baptizing a mom and her daughter but the mom needs to marry her ´´husband´´ first. Marriage licenses are super expensive here but they are willing to sacrifice it to be baptized! The husband is a less active member so the ward is really excited to have a new family!

You don´t have to worry about me eating well. The members here set us up! You´d think that after two straight weeks of beans and rice that I would be sick of it but I love it! We had a Brazilian BBQ on saturday with the Bishop´s family and it was heavenly! Nutella is super cheap here (3 american dollars) and cereal is super expensive (about 8 american dollars). Needless to say, my morning diet has changed a lot.

I´ll try to send some pictures here soon. The computers are just really slow.

This week:

1. our bus got hit by the same car twice in 10 seconds. Almost led to a fight between the drivers

2. I´ve seen more doggy love than I care to ever see ever again

3. I got watery cement thrown on me from a roof of a house. It was an accident but cement nonetheless.

4. Brazilians can´t catch to save their lives but are all beast at ping-pong

5. I am refered to as Gringo, Branco (white in portuguese), Americano, or just plain Elder

6. Conversations got so much easier to understand once I figured out that the word ´´cara´´ (pronounced cada) is the portuguese word for dude

7. The bishop´s wife knows how to pick locks of gates and unlock cars with a hanger. She saw my face and said ´´Está Brasil´´ (it´s brazil).

8. You might live in a favela but you have satellite TV and subwoofers and speakers in your car that fill up the whole trunk. And you blast it all night. 

9. only in Brazil do all the men wear speedoes and all the women are 300lbs and in bikinis.

10. our neighbor opened the door to his apartment in the nude. No one knocked on it, he just thought he needed to open the door. I did not need him to open the door.

Love yall and enjoy the snow!

Elder Johnson