Address

Elder Eric Johnson
1830 R W Berrends Drive SW Apartment #2
Wyoming, MI

Please send letters or packages by First class or Priority Mail via U.S.P.S. so they can be forwarded to him.

Monday, January 8, 2018

January 8, 2018

fam,
District Meeting
Add caption
I LOVE Mexican food!


Tacos de lengua: still not my favorite




With the Saturday P-day last week the week started off with church getting canceled due to poor weather conditions. It really hasn't been that bad though. Yes, it's been chilly with the temperature typically in the single digits and dropping below zero at night and in the mornings. But during the day it's not that bad. Sunday was also not bad at all. The sun was out and it was a "warm" 15 degrees. 

Church being canceled was extra aggravating because that morning we had a pretty big miracle. We met with a former investigator who had dropped Elder Rencher and Guerrero a little while ago and called us out of the blue asking us to come over. We met with him and he explained what's been going on with him. Turns out his sisters home got raided and a few of his family members are most likely getting deported. It was an unfortunate story but touching in the same way. Any time people go through big trials, like this clearly is for him, one has to make choices: Move closer or move away from God. He moved closer. He started living the commandments he apparently said he would never do, has listened to a good portion of the BoM, and his prayers have become heartfelt. The change really has been impressive from the little I saw beforehand and it was touching when he shared that "this was the first time in [his] life where he really needed God and He hasn't left [him] alone." We committed him to come to church with us the same day, something he said he likely would never do, and to start meeting with us regularly again. He said yes. It was pretty great up until church got canceled. He was doing a fundraising activity this last Sunday so we should get him next Sunday so it's okay.... sort of. 

This last Sunday was really good. We've still been meeting with the Francos and recently committed them to come to church. With the craziness of the taco shop and their personal finances that's been really tough. I think they understand why church is important and they seem to have a true desire to attend but have told us they don't feel comfortable closing Sundays or opening late..... yet. We compromised and got approval from our Zone leaders to attend the English ward with them in the morning and it was great. It was my first English service in a year and it was weird. English at church and English talking about the gospel just sounds weird haha. That's an interesting change. The family, with the exception of Marco, speaks pretty good English and they might decide to attend in English because it just works better for them. Juliana also really wants Marco to learn English and she sees it as an opportunity for him. We obviously don't want to pass them off and we want them to be able to stop working on Sundays. Going to church when they won't be working is a short term solution that I would prefer they wouldn't take. Long term solutions take longer but likely will stick better and that's what we are pushing. 

Sunday we also visited with a family we don't have the opportunity to visit very often. Due to the tough situation in which they live, going to church has become very difficult. In the last year I've seen the whole family at church twice. Even with all the obstacles they face in their life their home is one of the most amazing homes I've ever been in. When we visit with people, we can typical tell how they live the gospel, not by anything they say or anything they do, but by the light that they have in them and/or by how you just feel around them. Although humble, their home emanates with the spirit in a way almost incomparable to any other home I've ever been in. We had a short visit with them, but it was just so good. Definitely a goal I'd have for my future home.

Lastly the address I sent last week is correct, but we are in Apartment #2. Hopefully that didn't through anyone off, our mailbox says "the church guys or Elders" so hopefully I got everything.

Next Pday is Saturday.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

December 30, 2017

fam,

Monday was good. Skyping was fun. Unfortunately we didn't have a full P-day and were out working at 6pm. It was kind of blizzardy outside and no one was outside. We stopped by a few people and distributed some presents given to us to pass out by our branch president.  

Tuesday is when things really began to happen. This week has been consumed by two occurrences. Tuesday was a clear and snowy day and Elder Magalei and I were making our way to visit with someone we met a few days prior. I was driving. The street we were driving on has a few streets that flow into it off of some actually steep hills. Unbeknownst to us, someone was coming down the hill at a speed where they couldn't stop. They ran or slid through a stop sign in front of us leaving us with little to no time to react or divert any momentum. We only saw them about a second and a half before we collided, but with the amount of snow on the ground there wasn't really anything I could have done to avoid the collision. We collided and all airbags blew. Obviously we came to a quick stop, but the first thing we I noticed was a considerable amount of smoke in the cabin. A little jumpy on adrenaline Elder Magalei and I both jumped out of the car pretty quick thinking it was going to burst into flames or something crazy like that. Only later did I realize it was likely the airbag charge. 

Once we were out of the car we noticed the other car was gone. I was a little disgruntled thinking it was a hit an run. We then called the police and our vehicle coordinator. I thought I had a good idea of putting all my warm coats in the car for emergencies but turns out when you smash the hood in, and the trunk doesn't have a physical key or lever or even a latch in the cabin you can't access any of your stuff.... what a design flaw. The other car came back about 15 minutes later and the first cop came another 20 minutes later. The crash took place just outside Wyoming city limits and when the Wyoming cop got there he basically asked if we were okay and then dipped out pretty quick. We exchanged information and these two sketchy SUV's pulled up and were kind of eyeing us and giving us some angry looks from the other side of the street. It was a little worrisome but luckily they left when the Grand Rapids cop came. Not sure what was going to happen with the people in the SUV's but it definitely was sketchy. 

Our car had to get towed but we were fine. All our stuff was still locked in the trunk, but our zone leaders graciously came to pick us up and get us out of the cold. The zone leaders then dropped us off where our car got towed to and we waited there for a while. After a little over an hour they said they couldn't get into the trunk which contained all our warm cloths and missionary materials so we were definitely crippled from that. Elders Rencher and Wall let us borrow some warm clothes and we were outside for the rest of the day.






Wednesday we got dropped off at the dealership, where our car got towed to and spent an hour there trying to break into the car without breaking anything more and without tools. The bigger problem was the guy who would help was busy, so we had no access to tools beyond what I had on me. (Editor's note:  if you know Eric, he's pretty handy). Eventually he was able to join us and using a thin pole pushed through a gap in the seats was able to release the physical lever on the inside of the trunk. That took a sizable chunk out of the day and then I had to fill out some church forms to report the accident. A fun day. 

The other item that has taken so much time this week was that with Elder Wall going home with a group of missionaries finishing their missions, Elder Magalei and I had to clean out our apartment to move into the other Spanish apartment. We packed and cleaned and then moved everything over. Elder Wall got picked up by the transfer van at the church at 7 pm. We had one appointment after that and then we began to unpack. Now with all the Spanish elders form the branch together our area has become the size of the stake. Technically I'm still in my first area, it's just like twice the size now, same amount of miles, but that's okay. Also I'm back in a Trio. It's still weird. 

Teaching in a trio is very different. It's much more relaxed because instead of the teaching being on two person's shoulders, it's now on three. 

December 30, 2017

Fam,

Two days to Christmas countdown. It's going to be so weird to skype haha. 

Tuesday we had a great trade-off. I went with the soon to be late Elder Wall. We had a good long day of finding planned. We were able to get a few miles in of walking through Little Mexico which was fun and more or less productive.

Wednesday we got a call from someone we talked with about two weeks prior. We met this lady after we got stood up at an appointment and were walking around seeing if there was anyone in the area we could talk with. We started talking with her and offered some service and were able to rake her lawn. We had a good conversion with her and shared Light the World with her. She asked us if we could help her to deliver some Christmas packages with the community organization she represented. We jumped on the service opportunity and met her at this random retirement community. It turned out to be really fun. We delivered hams, pastries, and Christmas packages to a bunch of people.  

The same day I also felt inspired to study "Living water" as found in the scriptures. Throughout the simple study I was thinking about spiritual self-reliance. My favorite scripture from that study was found in D&C 63:23 which says "But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life." 

Obedience is prerequisite for most of the blessings in the gospel, but what I found interesting is symbolically the well of living water source is from within someone. One can go to church and have to appearance of being spiritually powerful.  However, more important are the little achievements one does privately. Gaining a strong testimony or praying daily is not something public, but these things are personal achievements that lead to large and important consequences. Once you stop doing the little things it's like you stopped watering a plant. It doesn't immediately die but will slowly loses its strength and withers. Your faith decreases and you lose the understanding or testimony you may have at one point had. We had a great experience this week catching a member who is going through some trials with their faith and we were able to read with them. Just reading with members can be surprisingly important to helping members build their faith. 

Zone conference was Thursday. It was really, really good, as usual. President Brennan's remarks are almost always the highlight. He spoke on angels and their role in God's work as well as miracles. He pulled examples from almost all the standard works including, the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine & Covenants. It was really interesting and he made the point that God works in one way and that doesn't change. We also watched clips from the Christmas story film "The Nativity." It was really interesting but the acting was not that great. On top of the acting the Angel Gabriel was a little freaky. Elder Wall made the joke that when people have angelic experiences they tend to be scared at first and that this was why. 

Friday we had the first practice for "O Holy Night" with the Reed family. I'm accompanying them on the piano (this makes the editor of these blogs VERY happy) and it sounds pretty good. Turns out when you ask someone if they can count when they don't have a musical background and don't realize that you mean beats in a measure when it's 6/8, they might be slightly offended. Oops haha.  

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017

Fam,

Two days to Christmas countdown. It's going to be so weird to skype haha. 

Tuesday we had a great trade-off. I went with the soon to be late Elder Wall. We had planned a good long day of finding people to teach. We were able to walk a few miles through Little Mexico which was fun and more or less productive.

Wednesday we got a call from someone we had talked with about two weeks prior. We meet this lady after we got stood up at an appointment and were walking around to see if there was anyone in the area we could talk with. We started talking with her and offered some service and were able to rake her lawn. We had a good conversation with her and shared "Light the World" with her. 

Light the World---learn more about it (great videos and ideas for making Christmas more meaningful)

She asked us if we could help her to delivered some Christmas packages with the community organization she represented. We jumped on the service opportunity and meet her at this random retirement community. It turned out to be really fun. We delivered Hams, pastries, and Christmas packages to a bunch of people.  




The same day I also felt inspired to study "Living water" as found in the scriptures. Throughout the simple study I was thinking about spiritual self-reliance. My favorite scripture from that study was found in D&C 63:23 which says, "But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life." Obedience is prerequisite for most of the blessings in the gospel, but what I found interesting is symbolically the well of living water source is from within someone. One can go to church and have to appearance of being spiritually powerful, however more important is the little achievements one does privately. Gaining a strong testimony or praying daily is not something public, but these things are personal achievements that lead to large and important consequences. Once you stop doing the little things it's like you stopped watering a plant, it doesn't immediately die but will slowly loses its strength and withers. Your faith decreases and you lose the understanding or testimony you may have had at one point. We had a great experience this week catching a member who is going through some trials with their faith and we were able to read with them. Just reading with members can be surprisingly important to helping members build their faith. 

Zone conference was Thursday. It was really, really good as usual. President Brennan's remarks are almost always the highlight. He spoke on angels and their role in God's work as well as miracles. He pulled examples from almost all the standard works including, the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine & Covenants. It was really interesting and he made the point that God works in one way and that doesn't change. We also watched clips from the Christmas story film "The Nativity." It was really interesting but the acting was not that great. On top of the acting the Angel Gabriel was a little freaky. Elder Wall made the joke that when people have angelic experiences they tend to be scared at first and that this was why. 

Friday we had the first practice for "Oh Holy Night" with the Reed family. I'm accompanying them on the piano and it sounds pretty good. 

(That is the reaction from Eric's Mom and blog editor about him playing the piano!)

Turns out when you ask someone if they can count when they don't have a musical background to know that you mean beats in a measure when it's 6/8, they might be slightly offended. Oops haha.  

December 18, 2017

fam,

False doctrines everywhere. We had probably my most intense trade off Tuesday. Just about everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. We lost our phone at a lesson in the morning and then later on in the day before we had to leave for our other planned lesson for the day we realized we couldn't find the keys. We tore the apartment apart looking for the keys until we decided to pray and figure some things out. We prayed and meditated for a minute and I felt that the other Elders had walked off with our keys.


Listen to the spirit when it tells you things because I didn't, and he is always right. We continued to look and look and look to no avail. After another 20 minutes or so I felt the same thing again and listened this time. We knocked on our neighbor's door and used her phone to call the other Elder's phone only to find out that the Elders actually had walked off with our keys by accident. The highlight though was a very in-depth T-boned lesson coming from a member explaining that Mexico City was the city of Zarahemla from the BoM. It's not. One thing I struggle with is stopping people when they really shouldn't be talking in lessons. 

We've been enjoying many days of snow in a row. We had about a foot after a few days. Surprisingly, Wyoming has not done hardly anything with respect to snow removal. There was no attempt of any preventative snow build-up measures. There were plenty of plows removing snow in parking lots but nothing from the streets. We had about 5-6 inches on the roads. The Malibu, while a comfortable, good-looking car, does not perform all that well in the snow. Unfortunately Elder Magalei slid our car into another car. But it's only a small dent and no one was hurt. 

Thursday we had our district meeting, interviews and lunch with President. It was a really good morning of meetings. Lunch paid for  by someone else is always a great thing. I also got the word that I will most likely transfer out of my first area next transfer. We'll see. I'm interested to see what's going to happen. Elder Wall, the former zone leader/English missionary serving with us, is going home mid transfer so we will be trio-ing for a little bit after the 28th. I anticipate either a trio for the next few transfers or else Elder Waters is coming back. 

Saturday the other Spanish Elders had a great baptismal service for someone they were teaching. The Branch Christmas party was right after which was fun. We were actually able to do some good missionary work during the party. We had two investigators come and it was pretty enjoyable. Branch parties really represent. We get way more than Sacrament meeting attendance at our parties. 

Sunday we had a great first lesson with someone we knocked into. The day before we spent some time door knocking and everyone we talked with we were able to set a return appointment which was miraculous. We got there and she basically carried a drunk friend into their house which was awkward but once things settled down it was actually a great visit. Near perfect actually. It's really nice to be able to invite the spirit into people's home for two reasons. First and most important, people need to first feel the spirit. Then they can act in faith on that feeling.  Second it really helps smooth out any imperfections in our teaching. For some reason I had this weird vibe that the lady was already a member. Unrelated but she found out about the church from "Johnny Lingo" and "The Other Side of Heaven". Super random. Haha. 



Monday, December 11, 2017

11 December 2017

fam,

The first week of the transfer always feels so long, but it was pretty good.

Both Sundays between the last letter have been super good. Our Ward mission leader stayed in church long enough for us to have a good chat with him. He has been gone for over 12 weeks. We look forward to working with him. 

Also an Elders Quorum President has been called! That was a huge step. We've literally had that spot open for 7 months. He is a super busy guy though: Full time student, full time employee, full time dad, Gospel doctrine teacher, and branch clerk. I'm not sure how he sleeps, but he is a great guy. Priesthood keys are super important to have and actively used in any unit.

Monday we had such a good lesson with Griselda. Things where slowing down. The rest of her family wasn't home when we came by. Her dad isn't interested at all, so far, but he was there so we were still able to get in. We shared scriptures out of 3 Nephi 11 when Jesus appears in the Americas, truly one of the most powerful sections of the Book of Mormon in my opinion. We read verse three and we talked about the spirit for a minute. We asked when she felt closest to God. The spirit was so strong in that moment and she just opened up about a bunch of stuff going on in her personal life. Some tough things are going on that makes her feel like she can't be baptized. It was such a good moment. PMG (Preach My Gospel--manual for missionaries) says that people progress best in a family. I don't know about that. It's probably because we just don't teach very many families, maybe three since I've gotten here.  But I don't think Griselda would have opened up like she did in front of her family. 

Wednesday we got our first dose of snow. It snowed a little over the next three days. Right now there probably is like three inches on the ground or so. I kind of hoped Michigan would be like Hoth in star wars, but it really hasn't been that cold... yet. 





This last Sunday was fantastic. Elder Guerrero got invited back to talk, which was odd. He talked on the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was great. One of the best parts of missionary work is to see people start to feel the spirit. As Elder Guerrero stood up to talk the congregation was really loud. It was after the sacrament had been passed out and the late people were filtering in which made the room pretty loud. Everyone had settled and a minute had passed and it was still a dull roar. When I feel the spirit, it first is manifested by a clarity of mind and then normally follows by a warmth or feeling of goodness. As I listened, these feelings came and I could tell other people were feeling the soft nudging of the spirit as well because the chapel became silent, even the little kids became quiet. People focused in as thoughts were shared on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and how we can use Christ's grace to then help us change and become better. The Book of Mormon has a lot more teachings on the sacrifice of Jesus which are infinitely valuable. Truly that is its primary purpose. I'm almost at the end of our 50 day challenge and there is so much in there. 

We also knocked into another pastor this week. Not sure what's going on. It was a little fun to talk with him though because he kinda made a big deal and before he really could say much I mentioned something along the lines of "thanks for being so nice to us, normally pastors just want to bash, argue or try to prove we are wrong by the Bible and that's not what we are here to do, " which I think changed how he talked with us. We talked for a minute and left on good terms. We unfortunately didn't get a return appointment. 

Sunday was also weird. I did my first exchange with a non- missionary. Elder Magalei went with a member to an appointment we had set up right after church and I stayed with another member to help with the Christmas program. We said goodbye and went our ways. It shouldn't have been that weird but it was super weird haha. 



Saturday, December 2, 2017

2 December 2017

fam,

Monday was a little tough. We had two lessons planned for the afternoon of our P-day which was good but they didn't turn out all that well. We finally were able to receive a referral on our side from a member and things were looking promising. She came to a ward party we had for the departure of the Westons and we were able to talk extensively. 

Come Monday, the member friend, a few minutes before the lesson was planned to start, sent us a warning that the grandma was going to be at the visit as well. I didn't think much of it so we continued with our plan. We walked in with the Westons and were just talking with the family and it was really nice. We said the opening prayer and were talking about what we do as missionaries, what they should expect and started sharing points about the restoration. 

I really don't like it when people T-Bone our lessons. It's really unfortunate. The grandma really doesn't like Mormons. We meet a few people like that. The problem is that it's really hard to get back to the lesson when someone just has no desire to listen. Our purpose very simply is to present a message and ask people to try it out and check it with scripture and more importantly ask God to see if it's true.  He can't and won't lie and will tell everyone the full truth. So it's important that people just don't take our word for anything we say. The grandma wouldn't listen and just wanted to bash. The upside is she doesn't speak English so we dropped into English for a minute to set up another time to meet with only the lady who wanted to meet with us. Moral of the story is follow all warnings. Any time spent where someone is just ragging on us is time wasted. 

Tuesday was the follow-all-spiritual-promptings day. It gets dark here pretty early which is really unfortunate 2 Nephi 26:23 and makes our job a little harder. We had arrived at our 8pm appointment just to be told they were about to leave. We walked back to our car and felt that the back up that we did have planned wasn't really the best thing we could do. We couldn't really figure out what we were supposed to do so we prayed. We simply asked if there was something better that we were supposed to do than what we had planned, and then thought about it for a minute. 

As I prayed I felt we were supposed to go to a fast food restaurant around the corner but didn't really know why. Elder Magalei didn't really have any ideas and so we went. We walked in and sat down trying to figure out what the next step was. I was confused and sat thinking. Elder Magalei was deep in thought and I asked what he thought we should do. He said he saw something in the restaurant that reminded him very clearly of a specific home we had knocked through a few weeks before and that he felt we needed to stop by. We left and knocked on the door. This lady walks out and we were talking with her and turns out she had just had family die in Puerto Rico and that the next day she would be flying out to go help the family. We were able to talk with her for a few minutes and left her with a prayer. It's really nice to be able to receive that guidance from the Holy Ghost that God is often times just waiting to give us. We just have to ask for it sometimes. I truly know God listens to and answers our prayers.

Wednesday we kind of got on the Francos for not having read since our last appointment. A few days prior we had talked with a member who had served her mission in Honduras. She shared with us an object lesson she used with people who had struggled to read in the scriptures between visits. The problem is most people don't have an interest in reading the scriptures. They either admit they don't understand what it says before they've even read or believe they don't have the time, and without that interest, it's hard to make that change. The truth is there is so much in the scriptures, you just have to open them up. What you do is you make this hypothetical situation where the person is going to die the next day and they have an opportunity to write a letter to their kids as advice. You spend a few minutes writing out all these ideas you might have or bits of advice. At the end of the specified time you make the connection that God, our Heavenly Father, has written his counsel and guides to living a happy life in the scriptures. How would you feel if your kids ignored your letter? Would you want your kids to read and study what you said? If our life is a test, the scriptures are basically the cheat sheet on doing well. 

Transfer calls came in yesterday, thus the Saturday P-day. Still here. I made the realization that I'm going to hit my year mark in the same area I was trained in. Time is too fast. Our now former zone leader can speak very limited Spanish and for his last transfer is serving in our district! Elder Guerrero is going to Zone lead the best zone in the mission (this one) and Elder Magalei and I are staying together for at least one more transfer.

Friday we met with this brand new family. It was kind of weird, not gonna lie. We've had like a bunch of days of everything falling through and not a lot of luck and we came into this home and had a great lesson. It's normally a little tough with more people but everyone was very attentive, responding thoughtfully to questions, and there were almost zero distractions. The tricky thing is when there are multiple generations in lessons. What normally happens is the grandparents can't speak English, parents speak a little or none, and the kids are almost exclusively English but I think we did a good mish-mash of spanglish. 

Friday we had our best lesson with a Pastor ever. Normally they just want to fight or test our biblical knowledge which is really just a huge waste of time, but he was super humble and really nice. Instead of bashing with us he let us share the restoration with him. He couldn't accept that God continues to reveal truth to living day prophets or that God could reveal more of his word but there was zero contention. The Old Testament teaches us a lot about prophets and what they do. Moses is the easiest example in how he lead, received revelation for the children of Israel. It's cool to think that today we have someone guiding all who will listen with that same power and authority.