Address

Elder Eric Johnson
1650 R W BERENDS DR SW apt 6
Wyoming, MI 49519


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

Monday, April 30, 2018

30 April 2018

Fam,

As missionaries we use the full canon to teach people the gospel and often times the Book of Mormon is much clearer than The Bible. One of the differences in the translation of the Book of Mormon and the Bible is that the BoM only has one degree of separation with respect to translations from the original documents, while The Bible has a few more. The result of the differences in times these books have been translated is made manifest by their clarity. Monday we had our most recent visit with Antonia. Last week she expressed her fear of death and this week we were able to come back and answer her question. Alma 40-42 are pretty awesome chapters that address a few aspects of the plan of salvation. We chose to read out of chapter 40 and substituted Antonia's name for when it says "my son" which made for a pretty awesome experience. We were able to teach very simply the doctrines of the Plan of Salvation and we were all able to feel the spirit. It was a fun lesson and at the end Antonia added that she really enjoyed the lesson. 

Wednesday we had a lesson with a kid named Fernando. Well, I say kid but really he is our age. We can hardly meet with him because of how hard his work schedule is. He is an example of what happens when people have a glimmer of real intent. He works 18 hours a day 5 days out of the week and 12 the other two days. I'm not sure how anyone could do something like that, but he'll still meet with us for a few minutes here and there. This week we were able to teach him about fasting. He really wants to find a better working condition so that he would be able to come to church. We planned to fast and pray with him to help him in that process. 

I'll be moving apartments this week. Not an area change but we're moving to a newer and nicer apartment! Our apartment has been owned by the church for about 15 years and has never been updated and will be nice to have a nice new apartment. We'll be moving out tomorrow and the next day and I'll send the new address later today. (4/30/18:  the blog address on the top left is updated)

23 April 2018

fam,

Monday was a good service day. We spent a good amount of time with Cezar doing service and reading the BoM with him. Last Sunday we had a wind storm that tore a good portion of the fence down. Monday we were able to head over to help him out. It was a super easy fix, but it was a little sketchy. Instead of fixing the broken fence the right way, as in re-potting the fence posts into the ground, in an attempt to lower costs we just tied the fence to his neighbors metal fence on the opposite side of the fallen fence. Why are there two fences pushed up against each other? I don't know, but it'll hold pretty well. 

Tuesday we meet with Antonia, this Mexican grandma who is really sweet. We just had had a really good lesson with her the week before about modern day prophets and today we were going to share a few principles on the restoration and finish with some words from President Nelson. We watched the Mormon Message video where he recalls a story of some near death experience he had in an airplane. It was a nice moment and at the end of the we asked what she thought. She didn't speak for almost two minutes. Not sure if there was some kind of mis-communication or she was thinking about something we waited in silence not wanting to break the moment. After two-three minutes of quiet looking down she broke the silence asking what happens when we die, which opened up a really good opportunity to teach to her needs. It's always rewarding to have had followed a lesson plan and be able to see that it was actually pretty darn inspired to the needs of the individual. She also told us a hilarious story about how she used to study with missionaries from another church. She said she posed a similar question and when they tried to answer she felt like, "[they] were just as lost as I was!" The best part was how much of a break through that was for our teaching her. 

Wednesday we had a good visit with the Sarmiento family. They are living the Word of Wisdom! As we followed up Daniel added a little story. He was in work and a co-worker said something along the lines that they weren't feeling well. Daniel, after having read an old President Monson talk he found on service, offered to grab something for the guy. The Co-worker lit up and asked him to grab him and another guy coffee as they gave Daniel the money. Daniel said he was thinking, "wow, day one and I try to do something good for someone else and it instantly turns in to being tried!" At this point he has already obligated him self and jumps in his truck and drives to the store. His co-workers gave him money to get one for himself as well. He gets to the store and buys two cups, puts them in the cup holders and heads back to work. "Elders, you could just smell the coffee as I drove back! It smelled so good, but I didn't break" It was a good lesson and in this same lesson it turned out that they started to get into the BoM more than they have had before.

Fansisca and the Francos are small business owners and the church has a super good program for self-sufficiency that we introduced the two to. The self-sufficiency classes cover a pretty wide range of material, but we showed them the one on starting your own business. The video was introduced to Fransisca then we moved to teaching Diego her son. 

Watch it before moving on. 
https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-06-1620-dont-kill-the-chickens-part-i?lang=eng

Francisca was at the table with us but wasn't really paying attention because we were teaching Diego in English. We were reading in Hebrews 11 and explaining some questions Diego had. Our of no where Francisca out of no where bursts out "BUT WHAT SHOULD MARIA DO??" Her curiosity just about killed her and we watched the other 2 videos of the 3 part video series

parts 2 and 3
https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-06-1630-dont-kill-the-chickens-part-ii?lang=eng
https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-06-1640-dont-kill-the-chickens-part-iii?lang=eng

April 16, 2018

fam, 

The eternal first week of the transfer has been pretty good. Working in a trio for the third time is pretty fun!

Saturday night we had stake conference. The benefit of having a senior couple in a district that also has a trio is that splits become very easy. The missionaries aren't invited to the Saturday session of stake conference for some reason but in the morning we got called upon to do some English to Spanish translation. To cover our plans we already had I went with the Pectols to translate while Elders Magalei and Rencher covered our lessons. I was pretty nervous but as soon as we started the English to Spanish just flowed way more naturally than the Spanish to English I've done before. It was pretty exciting. Only one of the speakers gave us a written talk but she was likely nervous, because she talked so fast, and didn't really follow her prepared remarks. The only way to describe how it felt was like you're on a roller coaster that doesn't stop and you're doing everything you can to follow but no matter what you do you feel like you're about to fly right out the side. I would definitely do it again, I just hope the people listening to my translating understood what I attempted to say haha. 

Sunday we had a great visit with the Francos. We offered to dedicate their home and they accepted the offer. We invited the branch president and his wife to accompany us and it turned out really nice. The spirit was pretty strong in their home that day and Marco is making really good progress.

This past Saturday we had an interesting lesson with the Sarmientos. We had planned to teach the Word of Wisdom. We ate dinner with them a few days prior and left with them the pamphlets and our goal was to be in and out in under 30 minutes. It's a simple lesson and it can be hard to keep things short and brief with them. The family read and understood really well and basically taught us, or really reviewed what they read. We talked about how we eat healthy and we abstain from coffee, alcohol, tobacco, tea, and illegal drugs and discussed the blessings. Daniel interestingly focused a lot more on the things we do instead of the things we don't and would subtly move things back to what we do when we would bring the conversation back to making sure he knew what not to do. He really liked the Word of Wisdom but I reflected on how he was moving the conversation and realized after a moment he was taking that time to work the whole thing out in his mind, really trying to make sure that it was what he wanted to do. He knew we would make him commit to a yes or no at some point and he wasn't quite ready. We slowed things down to meet that need and by the end of the lesson we threw away all the stuff they had that was against the word of wisdom. It was a good moment and really highlighted the need to focus on the individual. Christine, his wife, already committed to live the Word of Wisdom before we even arrived but Daniel needed to really work things out. 

This Sunday started off with a huge disappointment. We got a call pretty early informing us church would be canceled and asked us to make sure everyone in the branch new. We still hadn't opened any of the blinds of the apartment and basically ran to a window to see what had happened outside that would warrant canceling church. It was slightly cold and we only had a light sprinkling of snow and were pretty seriously disappointed. We continued with our day and at about 10 am it started a really heavy freeze rain. We were out visiting with a member when it started and we came out of their apartment and there was a solid inch of thick slush/ ice on the roads and our car. We had a few miles to drive to get back to our apartment but it sure was the slickest road conditions I've ever driven on. It was pretty sketchy but we made it back to the apartment safely. The county trucks plowed and salted the roads a few hours later which thankfully made them drive able.  

April 7, 2018

Fam,

Looks like I forgot to say this was an end of transfer P-day. Officially we are going to be a trio for another transfer, but we are getting a new elder in 6 weeks and another in like 12 weeks.

Preach my gospel defines an Investigator as someone who has received at least one principle found in chapter 3 of PMG and has accepted a return appointment. Elder Magalei, Rencher, and I were all talking about how the PMG definition sets a pretty low bar on the people we teach. Continuing on that thought we were thinking about the people we've all taught and how very few would actually be someone who was investigating the church and searching for truth like you'd imagine an investigator might do. Tuesday we had a lesson with Jose and Tamara. Jose had a super cool experience with The Book of Mormon as he read through it in like 2 weeks while Tamara on the other hand really hasn't caught the same spirit that Jose had. We really have been focusing on helping those we teach become true investigators of what we share with them, and with that same spirit we talked with Tamara and what she needed to progress. As you really focus on what individual needs and not worrying about making sure they understand everything you want them to understand you really find more needs in the people we work with. Tamara talked about some specific challenges she works with and some of her fears and we were able to have a super productive lesson with her. Hopefully by setting better expectations with the people we work with it will help people progress better. 

It can be really hard to have a resounding faith in someone you don't have a rounded understanding of their character. Part of the Restoration of the Gospel, maybe even one of the most important aspects, is a much greater understanding of the importance of Jesus Christ in the context of the plan of salvation. One of our investigators, while he has a really deep understanding of many aspects of the gospel really lacks in his understanding of his relationship with God. We had a really fantastic lesson with him Wednesday where we talked about that need he had. We planned a lesson around that idea and as we walked in and were talking with him he asked, "Why is Jesus Christ so important aside from him having died for us?" which was exactly what we had planned! That was pretty cool. Elder Magalei read John 3:16 with a slight reiteration. For God so loved the ___ family, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It was a super cool moment. This investigator is a talker, but when the spirit is really strong he quiets down and you can almost see the things we teach actually stick to him. We used that moment to talk about what he needs to do to come to a full and strong knowledge of the truth, specifically by diligent seeking and prayer as well as paying attention to moments when he felt the influence of the spirit. He finally has been praying. It was a good lesson.  

April 2, 2018


fam,

We've been back in a trio. We've been covering both Spanish areas since Tuesday afternoon. The best part was being able to go back to the people I taught on that side. Thursday morning we had a really fantastic lesson with the Francos. They mentioned that they had recently made the decision to close their taco shop on Sundays from here on out. It was pretty sweet to be there when they mentioned that. That lesson made it clear the role of the Holy Ghost in the conversion process. We encouraged them to close Sundays so they could come to church and taught the blessings and did everything we could to invite them to do so. It wasn't until they received their own spiritual witness that that became something of importance for them and then something they would actually do. Stake conference is next week, but after that they'll be joining the branch!  

Conference was insane! We watched nearly every session with a different investigator. I think the highlight was Sunday morning. The Sarmiento family couldn't watch the sessions as planned but could watch a non-live session with us at 7pm. This let us pick and choose what we were going to watch which was super good. We chose the first and last talk from the Sunday morning session to re-watch with Daniel and his family. Daniel has had some hesitancy to pray about the BoM but with the lesson we had with him we talked about how to pray and how to recognize answers to prayers. He had that on his mind as we watched the first and last talk of the Sunday morning conference. After the session we talked about what we each liked. From what he shared it was clear that he finally figured out and understood that prayer typically is a process. He really liked the line that was mentioned that no matter what we are only ever one prayer away from a loving Heavenly Father who is ready and waiting to answer prayers. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

26 March 2018

fam,


We had some good experiences this week. A part of the missionary schedule is weekly planning. Its a struggle sometimes. 2-3 hours of planning + goal setting is tough. Our weekly planning day was pretty nice outside and we live in an apartment building that flows into a little wooded area. Best weekly planning decision I've ever made was to go on a walk and plan in the woods on a fallen down tree. Our planning was much more fun and we were also accompanied by 12 large white tail deer.


Elderly missionaries are pretty awesome. I think they play a super important role that we can't always fill being 18-26 years old. We ate a dinner with a less active and her family was in town. They're from Honduras and prepared some delicious fried plantain topped with some ground beef, cabbage, and some pico-de-guyo, and a tomato sauce. After the meal Sister Pectol turns to me and asked Elder Magalei and I, being as we were on trade-offs, if she could share the spiritual thought. Hermana Pectol doesn't speak spanish, so I translated for her. It really was a touching moment. People tend to look towards older people for advice as they've definitely just had more experience than a 20 year old missionary can have. Sister Pectol shared a really simple thought that very clearly was exactly what the Honduran sister needed to hear and the spirit made that abundantly apparent. Its really good we've only had fantastic Senior couples serve in the Spanish branch because they're such good examples and really make me want to go on a senior mission. 

Santiago probably is one of my favorite people we are teaching right now. I've learned a few things from the short time I've taught him. The first time I meet him was on a trade off with Elder Guerrero a while ago. In that lesson he was drunk, vulgar, and crude but wanted to listen and was interested in what we had to share. Time goes by and eventually tells the missionaries never to come back, ever. He wasn't sure if Joseph smith was a prophet or if the BoM was the word of God, oh and he definitely didn't want to give up coffee or alcohol. Fast forward a few months he calls us asking us to come back, that was back when we were a trio with Elder Magalei. He had been reading bit by bit and was working on giving up coffee, his language was significantly cleaned up and he just looked a lot better. We've been teaching him for like 2 transfers and as of late he finally knows the Book of Mormon is true. Truly he is a really good guy. The problem is he just has a problem with about everything related to commandments and actually obeying them. The Book of Mormon has helped him make a lot of changed is his life already just by reading it with real intent. Even though he really struggles with alcohol he knows what changed he has to make and more or less how to move forward, and we've really been with him every step. The next big step for him is involving his wife more. He has been super hesitant to involve his family because of really bad experiences he's had in other churches, but at this point he has gained enough of a testimony to know its something he wants to involve is family in. Santiago is super hesitant and his wife doesn't like us...yet. The whole process so far really has shown me that, first off sin isn't a good thing, but if we're trying our best God will know and see that and bless us for that.     

We also saw lamb of God this week. Super inspiring! We went to Kalamazoo for the performance. Throw back to last year.

19 March 2018

Elder Sterling Fillmore at the Chicago Temple during his mission in the Michigan Lansing mission. He was one of Eric's YM leaders.





fam,

This week was pretty interesting. On Thursday we had a really good member lesson with the Miranda family and had lunch right after. Well right before I left for my mission I got a note from a former young men's leader by the name of Sterling Filmore saying that he had also served in this same mission. I later forgot about that message but it all came back into focus when during our meal Hma Miranda starts joking and pulling out old photos of past Elders that served in the branch. She's just throwing us photos as she's talking about each on and I saw one with a face that looked familiar. Looking closer I recognized the Elder to be that same Youth Leader I had! It was pretty funny and we grabbed a photo. 

Wednesday we had a good zone leader trade off. We'll as good as a knock-a-thon can be. I think the last three transfers we've been moving away from the very well set and ingrained mission tradition of only using knocking as the mode of finding. It's been pretty successful as we are almost entirely working through members, though slow, we teach more solid people. The added blessing is not having had knocked a door in like two transfers. With Elder Clark we knocked for like 6 hours and just about everyone we talked with did not speak English. We even were in a nicer area but like two people spoke English. We got invited into this one home and just could not communicate with this guy who was about our age. We grabbed his information and asked if he wanted to learn English. For the fourth time we just could not understand his name and asked him to write his name in our planners. The plan seemed good up until he wrote his name in a non-English alphabet haha. Luckily it's not my area. 

Friday we had a miraculous lesson. Teodoro is an awesome guy who has been coming to our branch since I've been here. Finally he is getting baptized. He was being taught initially and once he was ready he for baptism his future wife got pregnant and didn't want to get married until after the baby came. Well the baby came and we had a dinner appointment with them with full intentions of setting wedding dates and baptism dates. We had no idea how but felt like it was the right thing. Half way through our dinner appointment the Relief Society president shows up and joins us. Apparently they called her and asked her to stop by to reserve buildings for their wedding, baptism a few weeks later for Teodoro, and the baptism of their oldest daughter a few weeks after that. So things went really well. I'd say my most productive dinner appointment yet. We set goals for him to get the priesthood in time for him to baptize his daughter and to go over the missionary lessons one more time. I think the wedding is planned for July if I remember right.