Wednesday, June 24, 2015

December 17, 2014 . . . Welcome Home Son

"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, 
I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord."  - Mathew 25:21

 Welcome Home Son...we love you so very much.

"A Mission is a voluntary act of service to God and humankind."
- Elder Russell M. Nelson

"You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove
 instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make."  
- President Gordon B. Hinckley

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The End

Well here we go.

Hey everybody!  How's it going!?  Things here in beautiful Aracaju are just dandy as usual.  This week my companion had to go to a meeting and sadly enough I wasn't invited.  So what was it that I did?  One of the ward kids was my companion for the day.  It was pretty sick.  We studied and worked together.  I taught him a lot about missionary work and he taught me a lot about how to fight Muay Thai!!!  We had a good division and it was just a splendid ol' time.

So I've got some exciting news to tell you all.  You won't even believe what I'm about to tell you.  I hope you're all ready because here it comes...

I can do a pull up!!!!!!

You heard it here first everyone!!!!  Elder Tanner Johnson has accomplished an impossible task, lift himself up with just the strength in his arms.  I'm very thrilled that I've accomplished this goal.  After a transfer of practice and a great professional trainer (Elder Eddington) I have done wonders.

Side Note:  It sounds like I'm in the middle of Vietnam being raided by the Viet Cong.  Today is "Nossa Senhora da Conceição," a very popular holiday for Catholics/Macumbeiros, and I just happen to be sending this email in a Lan House just right outside the Cathedral of Aracaju.  Side-Side Note: a firework just blew up on the ground 15 feet from me.  Apparently this holiday is celebrated with many explosions of bombs.

There was an advantage to having this holiday though.  Because of the holiday, the zoo was open on a Monday and we got to go again!  We also got to climb up on top of the largest hill in all of Aracaju and we got to see everything.
That's a very steep hill.

I must testify that God loves his children.  This week we were going to have to walk from "A Barra Dos Coqueiros" to the center of the city.  For those of you who don't know how long that is.  Look at this:


And it was like 7:00 at night.  We were about to cross the bridge when this bus stops, which was going to exactly where we needed to go and here's the miracle, it opened it's back doors for us to get in.  When a bus stops you normally have to enter through the front doors where you pay.  In our case, they let us go in through the back doors for free.  THAT NEVER HAPPENS.  Just goes to show you that good people do exist.  Here's the thing though, that was the second time that happened to us.  God truly does love his children.
Morros do Urubu

Well here I am.  I would have to say that I have very mixed feelings about writing this letter.  I got to go back and visit Soledade today and see a lot of the members.  It was super weird because I went to say goodbye to everyone and they all thanked me for my work.  It's a very weird feeling being here writing my last email.  I never thought that I'd actually get to the end.  When the missionaries bare their farewell testimonies at zone conferences they'd always say, "Man you think you're never going to get to this point, but time goes by quickly."  I normally responded that with a sarcastic "pffffffffff!!!!!  Yeah right!!!!  That's easy for you say!"

And now I'm here...

Man it passes by so quickly....

I will be completely honest, I'm going to miss this place so much.  It's been an amazing two years.  It's very gratifying to look back and think about all that I've been able to accomplish.  My main feeling is of gratitude.  I'm so thankful for this time I've had.  I'm so thankful for the people I've met and helped.  Mostly I'm thankful for what the Lord has done for me.  Coming out on the mission, I thought that I'd be able to repay the Lord back for all that he'd done for me.  I quickly learned that even when I try to repay it back, He blesses me more than I deserve.  It's been an amazing ride.  I know for sure that this gospel is true and everything that goes along with this great and wonderful church is 100% true.  To say otherwise would make me a liar!!!  Thank you all who've helped me and supported me during these two years.

I know a lot of my emails home have been filled with many jokes, sarcasm, frivolity, and all manner of lightheartedness.  I feel like that's just how my personality is.  I firmly believe that we have the choice to be happy and find humor in all.  This life was meant to be enjoyed, so let's have some fun while we're at it.

I guess that's it for now.

The church is true, without a doubt.
Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.
God lives and speaks to us.
Jesus Christ is the savior.

Simple truths worth knowing.

-Élder Johnson

Knockin' on doors.

It says, "Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord."

I had no idea pomegranates grew here in Brazil and we have a tree full of them in our backyard.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Sergipe Heart

Actually, that's a dirty lie.  It looks absolutely nothing like Christmas around here.  Some people have taken to hanging up Christmas lights and putting up a tree here and there, but it's not fooling me.  I don't know, I feel as if the whole "Christmas Scene" is ruined by the palm trees and burning heat.

We've had to buy some mosquito coils for our house.  We burn them to keep the mosquitoes away at night.  The smell of the coil smells a lot like camping!  We've come to put it in our room and room has a very outdoorsy smell to it.

So this week was Thanksgiving.  Since this year I'm passing Thanksgiving with an American, we celebrated Thanksgiving like all good patriots.  We made some food and ate our feast at the chapel.  We even hunted our own turkey (a rotisserie chicken at the store) and cooked it ourselves (reheated it in the oven) and had a wonderful supper!

Me and my companion have been on the search for Tereré (a Brazilian drink).  It's very hard to find here in northeastern Brazil, but it's not impossible.  We found a store that sold it last week, but alas they were out and only had Chimarrão so we bought that instead.  This week we became very serious Chimarrão addicts.  We've just been going nonstop all week.
My new cuia.

We had a baptism this week!  We baptized a man named Venício.  He's a security guard that teaches Kung Fu and knows Ninjitsu.  He gave us some Ninjitsu lessons the other day.  He taught me the death punch so that's pretty neat, right?  It was really cool to baptize him.  He lives a little bit outside of the city where there really aren't any members, but he's really wanting to get his family active in the church and is super excited to spread the gospel up there.

So the church has launched their new ad campaign "He is the Gift" or as they say in Portuguese "Ele é o Presente". We've received instructions to spread the campaign everywhere.  We should be getting some fancy new "Ele é o Presente" materials this week and we have to keep track of how many people were found and baptized through the campaign.  So here you go!!!  Doing my part.  #Sharethegift

As to my comment about other people being trunkier for me than I am for myself.  Well I guess that means I'm just still pretty focused.  To me I'm just doing the same as I've always done.  I'm not the one to be really counting the days and just sit around thinking about how excited I am to go home.  Don't get me wrong, it'll cool and fun and all, it's just I've still got a few more days left so I want to make them great.

Well that's it for now.  I'll send my last email next week.  Love you all!!!!

Elder Johnson


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's Great To Be In Aracaju

Missão Brasil Maceió

I forgot how much I love this place.  I'm so happy to be ending my mission here.  My companion is awesome, the members are sick, and the work is going great!!!  I truly am a very happy camper.

It's nice being down here in Aracaju again.  I've seen quite a bit of people from my past areas down here.  One of my baptisms even called me the other day when he found out I was down here.  I do believe that everyone else is far trunkier for me than I am for myself.  There are a few members of the ward who like to countdown the days for me.  Every time I see them they always yell the number of days that are left at me.

The only thing that is a little discouraging is our house.  It seems to have a problem with being invaded by insects.  I have a ton of mosquito bites.  We got invaded by these weird flying ants the other night.  We were just minding our own business, making tapioca, when we noticed a rather numerous swarm of giant winged insects flying around our house.  We got to battle stations and we slayed many bugs.  Heaps upon heaps have we slain with our sandals. 

Other than that our house is super convenient.  We can literally see the church from our house and every Saturday they have the Feira right out front so we can get a ton of fresh food for cheap!

So one of the cultural things about the church down here that is different from the USA is "Chá Missionarias," which means "Missionary Shower."  A few days before someone leaves on a mission all of their family and friends get together to throw a party for them.  They have a message, a few people give speeches, and people give presents to the soon-to-be missionary.  It's kind of like a baby shower, but instead of there being bottles and baby clothing, people give shoes, ties, and what not.  We went to the Chá Missionaria of a member of the ward who was soon to be leaving on a mission.  We gave him a tie.  It was really weird though, here was this guy who was just about to start his mission and there I was at the very end of my mission.  It brought back memories of my last few days home.  Super weird.

This week was the church's sacrament primary program.  It was super funny.  It's basically the exact same thing as the primary program back home, except the kids are a little more enthusiastic.  

So we should be having a baptism this next week.  The man we're going to baptize is a security guard who was once a soldier.  He teaches Kung Fu and is a master of some other type of martial arts.  He was trying to explain to me what this unknown fighting style was.  Apparently it's designed to control the assaulter and not physically maim the person.  He demonstrated it on my companion.  He started twisting his arm willy-nilly and demonstrated a nice diaphragm gulp (no he didn't punch my companion, he just showed him how to do it.)  Pretty cool I guess.  We'll be baptizing a man whom I'm pretty sure can kill me in less than six seconds.   #sick

I'm all out of stuff for now.  Have a great week everybody!

-Élder Johnson

This guy's house is literally 10 ft. x 10 ft. and he really wants to sell it.
  How do I know?  Because there are about seven For Sale signs on the front door.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The End of The Beginning of the End

Santo Dumont, Aracaju
Well here we are.  I have officially entered my last transfer of my mission and I'm going to end it where I began in Aracaju!!!!  I'm currently in the Santos Dumont 1st Ward.  The Area is humongous!  It takes up a good chunk of the city and little bit of another city.  The Ward here is awesome!   The members always ask to go and do splits with us so I can't really complain can't I?  They even mark baptisms for us!  I'm really not joking, we had an investigator come to church this week and the members convinced him to be baptized.  The members have given me a nickname however.  Everyone here has started calling me Sheldon, from the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”.  Apparently I look a lot like him.  My companion is Elder Eddington, from the far and wild land of Payson, Utah.  He's super cool, he was actually trained by Elder Rutledge and I was companion with his trainee, Elder Schmidt.  We get along great and have some pretty sick conversations.

So there's this part in our area called Barra dos Coqueiros, which is a neighborhood on the other side of the Sergipe River.  There's this enormous bridge you have to cross to get over, which is about a little bit more than a mile and half.  We walked it yesterday.  We weren't looking forward to walking it because we thought it was going to just murder us with exhaustion.  It actually was pretty cool, had a nice view, and was a very therapeutic walk.  There were a bunch of guys fishing on top of the bridge; I don't know how they did it because it's at least 100 feet from the river to the bridge.

Quick side note.  On my last day In Jacintinho I saw the most ridiculous house in the world.  This guy had built his house out of fragments of plywood about the size of a small bathroom and put it up on stilts about 6 feet off of the ground.  The house was literally smaller than any bed I've ever seen.  It probably wouldn't have looked so silly if he hadn't hung up Christmas lights.

So this week we got to help a lady move.  We moved her from her house into an apartment building, up three flights of stairs, with no elevator.  How did we do it you might ask?  Miracles happen all the time.

I met a guy this week who is 73 years old, has at least 25 kids (all from different mothers), and currently has three girlfriends.  How this man attains such a feat I have no idea.

We got locked out of our house the other day.  We forgot the keys in the house just as we shut the door.  It was all very disheartening.  We tried everything to get in:  we tried to jump a wall into our backyard, we tried to break the lock with a hammer, but alas, all had failed.  I eventually got in because we found a way for me to slip through the bars.  I guess all of the weight I’ve lost really helps.

So we were teaching this guy this week.  We had to end the lesson early because he said he had to go visit his friend in the hospital.  Apparently his friend had stolen R$150,000 from a bank in Bahia and then fled to Sergipe, got mixed up with the wrong set of people, and got shot twice in the head.  I'd have to say, that man sure is a trooper!  Still alive and kick'n 'til this day!

Our Sunday lunch was very interesting.  We had churrasco, (Brazilian barbecue), which was absolutely amazing.  Then I tried something called mocotó which is cow foot.  It had a really strong and different taste.  I also tried grilled chicken hearts.  The lady that was making them shove a very large toothpick full of the into my hand and ordered me to eat.  In all honesty, it was pretty good.  Don't knock chicken hearts until you've tried them.  They're just a bit chewy.

All right, I wrote a lot this week.  Everything is going well in Aracaju.  Oh how I've missed this place.  This area is probably one of my favorites so far.  Love you all, have a great week!

-Élder "Sheldon" Johnson

???  Sheldon from Big Bang Theory ???

Monday, November 10, 2014

I'm A Boy Scout


Well I got the call last night.  Looks like my companion and I were transferred.  To where I was transferred, I know not.  I guess my last transfer on the mission will be in a different ward.  This next transfer is short too.  It's only 5 weeks instead of 6.
Tchau Ala Jacintinho!
The most Brazilian view in the world.  Jacintinho.

In other news we had a baptism this week!  We baptized Felipe, who is a member’s nephew.  We had his uncle baptism him and we were able to have a ton of people at the baptism.  Probably because we did a combined baptism with the other ward, but it was all really cool.  Yay Felipe!!!!
O Batismo do Phellype

Yesterday at church I got the good old, "Hey the person who was supposed to give a talk didn't show up.  Can you give a talk?" order from the ward secretary 2 minutes before church started.  It's all cool though.  It appears that after 6 years of Boy Scouts I managed to learn something (Be Prepared) so it was no problem at all.

In other news this week we got evangelized.  By whom you may ask?  By some people who belong to some church from South Korea.  Apparently their prophet had a very similar experience to that of Joseph Smith.  We went over to this lady's house because she asked us to stop by because she wanted to hear our message.  We stopped by the other day and what started as us responding to her questions turned to her teaching us a 2 1/2 hour lesson about the teachings of her church.  She told us that their prophet, who died, will return in 2020, but before his return there will be a great catastrophe.  She told me it was important for me to know this because when I go to the spirit world I'll remember what she taught.  I think she might have predicted my death.  I guess I'm in good hands however because she told me that their prophet said that what the Mormons teach is true.  She was pretty cool.  I learned some things about other religions I didn't know before.

Yeah I guess this email will be kind of short this week.  I'll send a lot of pictures.  You can now all play the "Where in the world is Elder Johnson" game until next week.  Until next time! 

-Elder Johnson


This is 100% pure grape juice.  It's like wine, but it's not.  It's super strong and it's super good.

Based on the shirts my parents send me, I'd say they are far more trunky than I am.

My mission has turned me into a very serious person.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Missionaries Gotta Do What Missionaries Gotta Do.


So it has come to pass that the sickness that I had came and passed.  Last Monday I was starting to feel better, that was, until Wednesday when the sickness came back guns a blazin'.  Apparently my ailment wasn't too thrilled about the idea of being EXTERMINATED!!! So it decided to give itself one last try to defeat me.  But alas, I came off conqueror and vanquished said sickness.  All I had to do was go to the hospital one more time and I was all chip chop chip ready to go!  They gave me the weirdest shot that I've ever gotten in my life.  They had this huge syringe attached to a little hose that they poked into my arm and they let a hefty amount of medicine enter my arm.

Sicknesses aside, this week was pretty great.  We were able to get a lot done and we should be having a baptism this upcoming week.  The area is super cool and I'm enjoying my time here.

There was a challenge that I had the other day.  I tried to order pizza by telephone.  This was the conversation I had with the lady on the other end:

ME:   Hey, I'd like to order a ham and cheese pizza.
LADY:   Oh sorry sir, but we don't have that kind of pizza.  We do however have a cheese and ham pizza if you'd like.
ME:   ... Yeah I think that'd be just fine.
LADY:   Is that the pizza you want?
ME:   Yes.
LADY:   Is that the pizza you want?
ME:   ... Yes.
LADY:   Is that the pizza you want?
ME:   Yes, that's the one I want.
LADY:   Are you sure you want that pizza.
ME:   YES!!!!  I'm pretty sure that's the pizza that I want!!!

Patience.  Elder Johnson.  Patience.

This morning I got to play basketball.  For some missionaries this isn't that big of an event, but it's something pretty rare to be doing down here.  We played with some people at the church and then we played with a bunch of firemen.  The firemen were pretty good.

So we had Ward Council Meeting yesterday.  We were discussing the upcoming baptisms and how to plan for future baptisms.  The Relief Society President told me how she had attended a baptism about a year ago and how it was really well done.  How the missionaries had made invites, programs, and that the meeting went over very well.  *-Begin of GH Moment-  Guess who those missionaries were?  It was me and Elder Araujo in Viçosa.  I knew when I got here in the ward I recognized this lady.  Turns out she's the aunt of Maciel one of our converts in Viçosa and was there at the baptism.  After she said that I told her it was me and my companion who did that baptism.  I walked out of the meeting feeling very smug about myself.  -End of GH Moment-

So one thing I learned this week is the importance of preparing to use the priesthood.  I was inspired by the fact that Ephraim Hanks would wash his hands before every blessing he gave and did some other things to prepare.  I thought it would be a wonderful idea to really prepare to perform a gospel ordinance.  This week I was invited to perform a baptism for the sisters in my district.  Their investigator had asked me to perform the baptism.  So I got to thinking that I should try some things to really prepare for the ordinance.  Turns out it made all of the difference.  I was able to perform the baptism and the spirit was so strong.  The girl that I baptized got super emotional before and after and didn't stop crying for quite a bit of time.  When I got out of the changing room one of the sisters turned to me and said, "What did you do to her?" That comment scared me a little bit because I thought I had did something wrong, but it turns out she was just joking and that the girl was just really happy.

One of the members of my district received a revelation for me this week.  They said they had a dream I was sitting at a desk and a bunch of women were standing in line to marry me.  They were just taking turns signing marriage forms.  As interesting as that dream is I don't find it to be a very probable thing to happen.  I think the whole polygamy thing is a no go for the church.

So that's about it for now.  My week was pretty great.  I'm doing great.  Mom, I will not tell you how much I weigh, how much weight I've lost, or anything of that matter.  You're going to see me here in a few weeks and yell, "Tanner!  What did they do to you!?" Missionaries gotta do what missionaries gotta do.

-Élder Johnson

P.S.  *Brazilian Missionary Lingo explanation.  GH = Gloria dos Homens = Glory of Men.  To say that a mission is "GH" (pronounced G agá) is to say that the missionary thinks a lot of himself and is super prideful and whatnot.

P.P.S.  Apparently "No Shave November" is a no go on the mission.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Am Not A Happy Camper

Well actually, now that I'm thinking about it, the title should be called "I WASN’T A Happy Camper FOR 4 DAYS OF THE WEEK" but alas, it seems a bit long for a title.  We will get to the reasons why this camper wasn't too thrilled this week in a bit.

So this week I got my Visa renewed YEEEAAAHHHH!!!!!!!  Yep, finally got that out of the way.  When did my Visa expire you ask?  It expired in March.  Why wasn't it renewed?  Because my Visa sat in an office in Brasília for about 7 months.  So that means that I've been here illegally in the country for 7 months and that they finally decided to renew my Visa when I have less than 2 months left here.  #Beauracracy 

Mother, you probably wont like this next part too much, but I'm going to write it anyways.  You've been warned.

So it was really great that I renewed my Visa on Tuesday because Wednesday night my companion and I were afflicted with a plague.  When I woke up the next day moral plummeted as I started to feel really sick.  Fever, body aches, and abdominal pain.  We held down the fort until we needed to get to the Sister's area to do a baptismal interview.  We did the interview and came back and we got back and I died.  I just layed down in bed and tried to sleep, but alas sleep was fleeting and the pain was intense.  I didn't sleep the whole night and I couldn't keep down anything I drank or ate.  The next morning I went to one of the hospitals and they told me I had a good old fashioned case of food poisoning.  They hooked my up to the IV and hydrated me right up!  Gave me a prescription and I was on my way.

Well all was well for a while until I started feeling worse so later that night I went to a different hospital and they were able to hook me up with some sweet meds.  From then on I got better, slowly, but now I'm all good.  It sure wasn't the most pleasant experience in the world.  This camper wasn't the cheeriest fellow in this outdoor extravaganza, but it's all over now.  It allowed for some good time to think and reflect and ponder the deep questions of life.  So I was able to learn some things through my sickness.

Well that's it for now.  Nothing really happened because I was inside the whole week basically because it was rather difficult for me to move.  Whatever.  I'm over it now.  Let's be optimistic!


-Élder Johnson