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, November 24, 2014

The longest letter yet!

Dearest Family,

Alright, alright, I guess I have been slacking on the letters. Sooooo here are the fruits of my repentance.

Elder Machado walking amongst the dead.
First, why on earth would someone as saintly as I fight with a companion?? Well, while we were planning at the end of a rather disappointing day, he said "Elder, I feel like I am doing all the work alone." I thought he was joking and asked why he felt that way in a rather sarcastic tone (looking back, it wasnt the most Christ-like thing to do). But he  continued to tell me about how HE is the only one doing contacts and calling the District Leaders and all this nonsense. As he spoke I realized that he was serious and after a 25 minute lecture he ended on "The only thing you do here is get us from appointment to appointment. You know the streets well." 

After one whole transfer here he still cant find his way around. I dont think I have ever been so angry in all my life. I asked him if he was finished and he said yes. And that was the last time I spoke to him that night. I knew that if I had spoken with him at that moment I would have said very hurtful and anger-induced things. I waited until the next day to  talk with him. I told him my side of things about how I am the one who has to gain the member trust because the members dont like  him, about how I am the one who has to gain the trust of the zone because he has lied to the other missionaries numerous times, about how I have to teach the lessons because he cant teach a lesson to save his life, and the list went on. It really wasnt as blunt as I have written it here but at the end he apologized and said that he was just really disappointed about that day and let it out on me. But I told him things that he needed to hear and after that moment he has respected me as a leader. He didnt respect me sooner because I was a new Zone Leader. But the fruits of my labors are showing. The zone respects us and the branch loves us. :)

Having 2 new elders here is interesting. One is about to end his mission in March and the other one has only been a missionary for 4 months and already thinks that he will be a zone leader next transfer. His pride is mind-blowing. But the house is very clean because Elder Machado and I crack down on them. So, all is well there!

My area is extremely hilly. Like I am gaining the best legs in the world. Combine that with the 90 degree weather with 70% humidity and that is my world for now! I took some pictures of the graffiti and the river here which I will send today!

The difficulty that we have here is getting people to church. Everything is very spread out and with all these hills going to church isnt the most appealing thing. Unfortunately, the members here are kind of apostates so the people here have a lot of things against some of the members. It is all we can do to get them to come. Investigators havent come in  nearly 6 weeks. But I do have good news for you!

Remember Julio from my days in Boa Esperança?  HE AND HIS FAMILY WERE BAPTIZED LAST SATURDAY! Actually his wife and daughter baptized a month ago but Julio was baptized last week! When I got that call I was so happy! Thank you for the prayers and fasts on his behalf. God answers prayers in his time!

Not something you find in Temple Square
Also, serving others is a great way to share the gospel. We made a contact with this young couple and when we went to visit them they had forgotten that we had a set appointment. So the husband was leveling the ground to put cement down. We put down our bags and helped him. It blew his mind. He could not believe that 2 kids in white shirts and ties were helping him with such dirty work. But let me tell you, after we finished we had the full and undivided attention and trust of him and his wife. What a spiritual lesson! They were hooked! My only fear is that that probably  arent married legally and we know that they like to drink soooo it is a uphill battle. God really helps us out every day. 

Also, the Conference talk by Carlos Godoy (the brazilian) is perfect. I really enjoy listening to his talk and the one by Jorg klebingat (in portuguese of course). They have helped me a ton as of late!

Austin - Working with Mark?? That is what's up! What exactly do you do?? That  sounds so fun. Photography is the bomb! Is it still the same teacher as when I had it?  He is a strange guy but really cool. Be really creative and do bigger and better things each time and you will succeed in that class! Love ya bro!

Cam - email

It's all about finding the sheep...
Lexi - Looks like you forgot  to write again! Those rubber band bracelets have been a huge hit here. The  fad just arrived here in Brazil and all the primary kids are crazy for those bracelets. Thank you for bringing a smile to the faces of kids you have never met! Love ya Sis!

Have a great week every one and I hope you enjoyed the epistle!

 Love you all!

Elder Zac Johnson

17 November 2014


Well, yet another week has past and I find myself struggling to find something interesting to tell to you haha This week we had a meeting all the way in Guarujá. Actually, the meeting changed location 3 times. Sometimes I wonder... anyways, it was so great to see some of the friends that I have made here! I really love to see everybody. I am pretty isolated way out here. We learned a ton in the conference and President told me that he has changed the reason why he puts missionaries where they are. He said that when the mission started, he sent all the problem missionaries to Registro just to make things a little easier but now he is putting awesome missionaries here (the other ones - not me :P) because he knows that we are capable of doing well under the challenging circumstances that we have here. So I was pretty humbled to here that. 

And we have a ton to do here. There were 19 batisms here and only 1 is active. But the field is white (though slightly sunburned) and ready to harvest! This will be a great transfer and there are only good things ahead!

Austin - You cant like every single teacher that you have! Teacher problems build character ;) What will you be doing for your eagle? It better be better than benches... HA. Life in Brazil is the bomb, though pretty hot. I go to bed really tired every night :D

Cam - email

Lexi - Hey sis! I hope you are doing great and that school is the best ever!

Have a great week!
Elder Zac Johnson

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

10 November 2014: A Week of Firsts


Well, I have had a week of firsts. 

This week I had my first "fight" with my companion. He was frustrated with our situation and decided to take it out on me. I literally said nothing back. I was pretty proud of myself. Though, I spent the night thinking hard about the things he said and realized that it was just a stress-induced mess of nonsense that he had said. So, the next morning, I sat him down and gave my side of it. I haven't really been able to see how much I have changed/improved (as far as character goes - portuguese I am basically fluent) but that morning I had an experience with patience that I was really happy with. We worked everything out and spent this week the most united we have been all transfer. 

The other first was that this has been my first transfer working directly with Sister missionaries. What a joy it has been! The power that follows obedient and focused Sisters is amazing. In other zones, the sisters have been iffy but this transfer has changed the way I look at sister missionaries. We have had 3 here in my area but one was transferred. So that brings me to the transfer news.

For the first time on my mission I stayed with my companion. So, it is almost guarunteed that I will be here until my birthday and I am actually okay with that. I love this area and even though we have a ton of challenges, it is a joy to work here. We will receive another set of Elders in our house (so 6 missionaries in one branch... yay) so the cleanliness of our house is about to take a severe blow. Hopefully there wont be too many problems.

Austin - There are better places to work than Maxfit :D Try one of the golf clubs. Driving around rich people in golf carts could be mad fun. That is what everyone in my grade tried to do. Or try to find something different and challenging. Enjoy the new COD. It is on sale here for R$500...

Cam - email

Lexi - How do your teeth look without the braces??? I never got to see you with braces in person... haha that is sad. You are going on a cruise? That is news to me!

Love you all!
Elder Zac Johnson

03 November 2014: HUMP DAY


I was glad to see that ou all had a great Halloween and were able to celebrate with the Elders of the ward. We had some crazy Halloween shenanigans (which was the cause of me almost throwing out my back... but that is a story for another time). Oh my word, that t-shirt was the best! One of the elders from my group (Elder haygood) got the same shirt from his family and so next time I see him, we are gonna wear it and take a picture together! Thank you so much!
Elder Machado, Sisters Rueda, Silva & Fernandez

Well this week we were not able to do a whole lot of teaching this week due to the massive activity that the Sisters planned for Friday. It was a ton! Nearly three whole days were dedicated to this Halloween party. We had a budget of R$1000 but we spent R$703 so I was happy about that. But we had to cut, glue, hang, inflate, tie up, lift, and slide a ton of stuff just to make it happen. I will send some pictures in another email.

But the party was a huge success. We had about 120 people there and about 85% were not from the branch or members at all. We had games, music, and a ton of food.
Hump Day Pizza

The night before the party, I hit my one year! We ordered a pizza and that was about the extent of my celebrating. I am such a party animal, I know.
Can you believe it?

Well, I would like to close this letter with a couple comments. I am super happy with how much I have progressed thus far, and I really have been blessed this past year. I was able to read my journal from my first 134 days and there are some big changes. There is still a ton that I have to improve on and that is the hardest part but it will happen. Being able to improve is one of the greatest gifts that the Atonement of Christ gives us. The Atonement is so much more than just paying the price of the sins of the world (though, that is a major part of it). Change is real and urgent!

One year down, one to go.... On to the next!

Austin - That is so lame. At least now you can get a better job and have the chance to progress! Unfortunately, you can't really "move up" at maxfit, but look for another place that has advancement opportunities. We all have bad weeks but they always come before the good ones! Keep up the good work!

Cam - email

Lexi - 4 teeth in 2 weeks??? You are almost toothless! Do better than I did with retainers... Actually use them:D It is really important, and although it is annoying, you only have to use them at night when you are sleeping! I hope you had a good week and eat a ton of candy for me!

I love you all!
Elder Zac Johnson

Sunday, November 2, 2014

27 Oct. 2014: A lesson on God's will

Hello Fam,

Well, this week I have learned a lesson on God's will. It is interesting because I had read multiple talks on the subject, and to see if I learned anything, God tested me. And the test is still going on haha. But more on this later.

This week we were able to visit the family who is sending a missionary to Montana. Let me tell you, it was the most spiritual lesson I have ever participated. We answered all their questions and after the first vision, tears were shed and a spiritual bomb was set off in that little room. The Spirit even gave the sister an answer right after we recited the first vision. We like to give a little pause between "Hear Him" and explaining the vision, and wow the Spirit does work in that space. It was a really sacred experience, one that you'll have to wait until a later date to hear about :)

The very next day, we taught a mother and a son who were obviously passing through some difficulties. And after another super powerful lesson, the Spirit did the rest and really changed the whole situation. Unfortunately, she is a school teacher and had to work the elections yesterday, butttttttttttt God knew that. So, we had lunch at the District President's house and he had to vote after we ate. He just so happened to go to the same school where this mom was working with the Sisters too. They talked to her, and invited her to the Halloween Party (yeah, it is called a party here not some fall festival nonsense haha) we will have on Friday. She accepted, even remembered our names, and called US this morning asking for another visit as soon as possible. Miracles are real.
My Zone
But, even after these super spiritual experiences, none of our investigators came to church. Not even one. So, we will not be able to meet the mission goal of every missionary baptizing this month. Yeah, I was angry and confused. But then all those talks on God's will came to mind along with the Mormon Message by Elder  Christofferson about the Gardener. 
The Branch

So, I am learning humility. Slowly but surely haha.

Austin - Goodbyes are hard, but now is your time to help some of these young men who really dont have anybody. Yes, you may not like them, nor do you have to. But you have to love them. It is the essence of the gospel! Please write Cullen every week. He may not have a lot of home support, so make the extra effort to write him too. Love ya bro.

Cam - email

Lexi - Hello favorite Sister! That movie is pretty popular here, did you like it? All the girls at my school read that book. What is it about?? You are going to be mom?? How scary ;) I miss Don! You cant be a picky eater in Brazil! You eat some strange things! Love ya!

I love you all! I hope you guys have an awesome week!

Live the life :D
Elder Zac Johnson

20 October 2014


Sounds like you guys have all had an awesome week! Full of parties and surprises! I hope YOU are keeping a journal. These are times worth remembering!

This week has been good, though very tiring. We have worked hard and summer is arriving very quickly. Wow, it is hot. Also, Elder Machado and I had to have a talk about time management and other small issues. We are getting along, but we are learning patience!

So the whole mission has a goal for every missionary to have a baptism and i'll just say that our faith is being tested. We have some possibilities but we are in need of a miracle at this point. And I think we were blessed with one.

Yesterday after the meetings a family walked in and nervously came up to me and asked me a thousand questions about the mission. They have a son who moved to Utah to live with his uncle, got baptized, and leaves for his mission to Montana in December. I answered all their questions, calmed all their fears, and this humble family thanked me profusely. They passed us their address (they live in another city in our area) and asked us to visited them along with a promise that they would come on time for next weeks service... all without me asking. I think they were the answer to our fast and prayers. We will see what we can do this week for them!

Be happy. It is the best thing ever :D

Austin - GO BIRTHDAY PARTIES. I am glad you had fun, and it sure sounds like you have some classy friends. That is a good thing! It reflects a lot about who you are and the impact you have on your friends. Congrats dude.

Cam - email

Lexi - I laughed so hard at your email! I love the way you word things. You need to write me every week! How are you losing teeth when you have braces?? I am a little confused on that point. But no, I dont know what it is like to "have 5 boys from school like me." Thankfully that has not been a problem of mine :D But you should learn to not tell mom about loose teeth ya goof! TRAVIS RAN INTO A POLE?? What a stud haha

So, I found out that my companion has silk pjs.  Then I discover that he had 2 pairs
There is nothing more attractive than Brazilian Silk PJs and Fake Hipster glasses.

Love you all so much! 

Elder Zac Johnson