Address

Elder Eric Johnson
2935 Waterchase Way SW Apt. #308
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, November 13, 2017

13 November 2017

Tuesday we think we drove by a hostage situation. We decided to knock in a newer area we aren't normally proselyting in and we came up to a bus that was stopped. Two cop cars pulled up super fast and pulled out rifles pretty fast. 




I think we were there as it was unfolding because nothing was done really to secure the area. At this time we were still chilling at the red light and four other cop cars pulled up surrounding the bus. Light turns green and we take the left turn signal and there were about four cops at the rear of the bus. One with a riot shield, two cops at his shoulders, rifles pointed at the bus and another behind with a handgun. It seemed pretty intense. Luckily we didn't hear any gunshots so it hopefully wasn't all that bad.


Wednesday we had a great trade off. A few days prior we picked "G" back up and he kind of has the same problems he had when we dropped him. We asked him to read the introduction and the testimonies in the front of the BoM and pray to see if what he read was true. We called him to confirm and he said it wasn't for him and that he wasn't sure about the BoM, he still allowed us to come over to talk about it. Elder Guerrero and I were together and in our morning planning we really felt that there wasn't a much we could plan for in advance and that we should just come in and rely 100% on the spirit. We talked with G for a few minute trying to find were exactly his concerns where. He hadn't prayed and he was self conscious about asking for rides. We talked about that. The spirit played a huge role in that lesson. We finished talking about how everything relies on if the BoM is true. The cool thing is that the spirit can tell us things to do and show us what to share, Elder Guerrero demonstrated that when towards the end of the lesson he brought up how families can be eternal. This power given to Peter to bind things on earth and heaven (mathew 16:18-19) is the same power families are able to be together after we die, and was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith and is available to all worthy people to seal their families. That's awesome, but its even cooler because unbeknownst to Elder Guerrero, G told us or last visit about how a few of his family members had passed away in an incident in Mexico. The Spirit is a revelator and was able to tell Elder Guerrero what should be shared. The spirit is truly key to any conversion. We use the spirit to guide our work, but it's essential that anyone we share anything with has an understanding of what the spirit is, what he does, how we can feel his presence. He reveals truth, gives comfort, is a guide and our job is to learn how to recognize him and follow his directions. 

The "F" family is doing well. They've been on date and were able to come out to stake conference this Sunday. It's really kinda crazy that literally every time we put someone on date who seems sincere everything starts going wrong in their lives. It's like someone doesn't want them to be baptized. Without going into details I haven't seen more things fall apart in anyone's life. It's even been stressful for us. We had three lessons with them this last week focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and actually receiving the strength they need to pick up everything that's been falling. It was intense. We walked into their taco shop and they were kind of freaking out. They spent like 30 minutes just unloading everything and we were just sitting there thinking, I have no idea what to do. We were able to share something that invited the spirit into their taco shop and they were visibly feeling better after. 

Saturday we had a mission conference with President Russell M. Nelson. 




As we walked in the chapel we were able to shake his hand and he is super old. He definitely is 93. It was like two hours and the first 45 minutes, a member of the area seventy and his wife shared their testimonies as well as Elder Bennett of the General authority 70 and his wife shared their testimonies and Sister Nelson. Among other things, the general theme was choosing an eternal companion which was a little a typical for a missionary meeting, but it was really good. Elder Nelson stood up and jokingly said "I've never been with a group of missionaries and heard so much about marriage! You're not supposed to be thinking about that! You're missionaries, but did you get the message?" He spoke on a few things and was really lively and funny. One thing I liked was the miracle of the BoM, translated in 68 working days from an unknown language while under persecution and moving two and from I think two states, and adds nearly another 40% of holy scripture to our canon. He then went into how it translates and flows perfectly into Egyptian and some other things. The last 30 minutes were opened to questions and his answers were quite impressive. 

A good week.

Monday, November 6, 2017

6 November 2017

fam,

Tuesday was quite the day. When you have the trust of someone and you trust them, missionary work becomes so much more easy. We invited the Francos out to a church tour. We arrived like 30 minutes before to prep the building, clean a little and to make sure there weren't any surprises. We normally open the baptismal doors but this time I felt that we could just open it when they get there. I didn't think much about that and kept prepping a few other rooms. The tour was really simple but powerful. Once they arrived we obviously started with a prayer and then walked into the chapel. We talked about the importance of the sacrament and why it's a commandment to take the sacrament weekly. We showed them to some other places in the church and ended up in the Relief Society room which also has the baptismal font behind two large doors. It was already nice and the spirit was already there as we talked about the different things that happen in the church but when we opened the door to the font there was as if a tangible wave of peace entered as the doors opened. We just kind of stood there for a few moments. We sat down and had read a simple scripture and had a real frank conversation. Having a relationship of trust and openness with the people we work with is super important. Unlike most investigators, we've known the Francos for a fair amount of time which really helps us be super bold and loving. We laid out everything on the floor about what needs to happen before Hno. Franco gets baptized. It was super awesome and we set daily and weekly goals with them as well as a baptismal date for December 23. We've had a few lessons with them since then that have all gone super well in their taco shop before they've opened. It's been so awesome because we teach a great lesson and they feed us a great meal right after.  


Thursday we had zone conference. It was really good as usual. We were all given a new pass-along BoM and commissioned by our president to read the BoM in 50 days, highlight every reference to Jesus Christ, His words, His Attributes and doctrines and principles taught by the BoM. Blue is the color I chose for references to Jesus Christ and there is so much blue already. I'm on page 90 or so and you can't find a page without it. 

Also exciting news we picked up Santiago! It's been like three or so months but he is our buddy who went to Mexico seeking witch doctors. Crazy stuff, he said Mexico was absolutely terrible, but on a brighter not he seems to be doing better physically. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

30 October 2017

fam,

Monday was a pretty good day. It was the third day of constant rain and we were on foot for all our proselyting time. It was fun and we actually had some pretty good opportunities to talk with people. As long as your feet stay dry you're pretty much fine in the rain. We stopped by the Franco families taco shop and had a good little lesson with them. We walked in to set up a lesson with them and they had a question on why we go to church on Sundays instead of Saturdays. We answered that question and they started asking some more questions that aren't really important doctrinal questions, such as why is Christmas celebrated in December. I think they started to think we had all the answers, we don't. It was fun though, they enjoyed the visit and gave us some good horchata and we left. It was pretty late and we had a brisk walk in the rain to make before we had to be in our apartments. 

This Saturday we had a branch party that was pretty good. We had like 120 people come out. It was really good but it was super hectic. There as practically no time to really talk with people because it was just presentations and dances. We still set up a few lessons. Every member we visited and we asked they bring a friend, brought a friend which was really good. Elder Magalei and I both represented Samoa with our lava lavas. We also made something called musubi, its a seaweed wrap with rice, furikake, spam, and eggs. Pics below. Lava lava pics will be sent separately by Elder Weston, hopefully today. 

We had a good conversation this week. We talked with this one guy who was sitting listening to music and he saw us and said, "Mormons?" We talked about a few things. It was really funny because we were talking and he said something about how other pastors and religious people throw "test style" questions at him to check his knowledge and that he always gets the answers right. Anyway we were having a really good conversation and he paused and asked if he could ask a weird question. He asked us what we thought about angels and their role and purpose. A weird question I've never been asked and I remembered what he said about test questions and threw the question back at him and he couldn't answer it. 

We all laughed because we  remembered the whole part we talked about "test questions" and how they really don't help anyone. We talked a little more about the BoM and he asked us to read him some things out of the BoM. I luckily had my personal set and flipped through just racking my brain for something good. Alma 37:31-37 caught my eye and we read it to him. Its really good and after we read this to him he just stood for a moment and said "wow.... I didn't think anything like that would be in that book." A crazy guy once said something funny to us but has some true application. He said "The golden plates probably weren't golden, they were probably plastic, but the words......... the words were what were golden." 

Regardless of how the Book of Mormon is displayed or explained it won't really mean anything if people don't first read the word, ponder, and ask in prayer if it is true.  Alma 37 is just a passage in the Book of Mormon and there are many people who will read the BoM and not get anything out of it. When we read with real intent we open our hearts to the spirit which then through the thoughts and feelings that come to us tells us the truth of whats in front of us. 

The guy we talked to wasn't quite ready for formal sit down visits to really test out what we share with people, but just being willing to read or listen to the words in the Book of Mormon allowed him to have a spiritual moment. In reading through Preach My Gospel this week in one of our companion studies we came across a line in chapter 5 that I really liked. Moroni 10:3-5 shares a few steps we can follow to receive answers to our prayers. One of them is that we ask with real intent, meaning we intend to act on what we get. 

We try pretty hard to get people to read in the BoM because that's basically the only physical evidence of the truth of our message. Everyone already has a bible or a knowledge of what that is, and Preach my gospel made a point that we must not only pray with real intent but also read with real intent. Like I said before there are people who will read the BoM and not be Mormon by the end of the book. The biggest problem would likely be a lack of real intent in their reading. Joseph Smith said that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." To see real change you have to put some effort into bringing your life into accordance of what it teaches, and thus by the promise in John 7:17 you can know if its of God or not.

Sunday was really good. I'm normally playing the piano but Elder Magalei and I have been switching off recently which has given me an opportunity to translate during sacrament meeting. It was super fun, slightly challenging. We had three speakers and the first girl lost her voice and read a talk very quietly, monotone, and without pauses. It was rough, I couldn't even come close to word for word translation so I took the few puzzle pieces I could and made some things up haha. No one would know is the funny thing. The other two talks I could hear well, so those went smoothly.   

After quite a bit of effort Elder Magalei got an answer to what we are to do with the one of our families. Basically we are passing responsibility to a few members and focusing on just reading with them and helping them understand the BoM.

November 11 President Nelson as well  as Elders Randall K. Bennett and Daniel F. Dunningan of the seventy will be visiting the mission. I anticipate some sweet things are gonna happen.






Monday, October 23, 2017

23 October 2017

fam,

Monday we had an amazing lesson with this girl we met. We met her on this one street as we were checking up on a former investigator. It was pretty late and really dark and this teenage girl just walks walks up to us from behind and tells us how awesome it is that we love Jesus so much that we are knocking doors in the hood this late. It was pretty funny, we talked for a bit and it turns out she thought we were JW's. We got a return appointment. Come Monday we have our appointment. Everything went so perfectly. There has never been a better lesson, the Westons were with us and literally it was so powerful. First lessons can be a little tough, at least for me. They tend to be slightly awkward. The new people don't really know how the relationship is going to be defined and I'm not the most personable person there is, but it flowed really naturally. 

Later that day we had the Aguilars. Still with no idea how exactly we were going to go about having the visit we walked in. We had left a commitment that they really had been struggling with, which was to study something from the scriptures everyday personally and as a family and have family prayer. They weren't super clear about how it went, Natividad left it with "we intended too." We talked about that for a bit and Elder Magalei asked Natividad if he would be baptized. Unfortunately he said no, so there really isn't much more we can do. The whole thing kind of confuses me. Natividad talked with the branch president about this situation and told him some things we kind of knew through our own pondering on the situation and from what we can see. He also asked some of the members that are their friends to talk with his mother-in-law who isn't supportive in anyway to help her open up. We ended the lesson with testimonies and I felt to share Ether 12:6 and D&C something something:10. Basically we left our last visit with a you've got to make a choice because we can't continue much longer, we left them to read the introduction to the BoM to read again. It's really unfortunate, the spirit was so strong in that home that night and if they won't take that step we've truly done everything we could. 

Tuesday ended really well. I can't remember how much I've told about the Fanco family, they own a tacoria that's really good and give us free food, and want us over every week to eat. They are a part member family but are totally inactive. We've really not had much success with them up until Tuesday. A few days prior the husband sat down with us and asked "Elders I want to get baptized, how do I do that?" Pretty good question. We talked about that and set the return appointment for this day. Elder Magalei started off our lesson by asking the husband why he wanted to be baptized. It really set the tone because he just bore a sincere and powerful testimony that really bore witness to his sincerity. We spent the lesson talking about everything that we will do and that they must do. We've invited them to church before but they've told us they can't not work Sundays because how small their tacoria is, and after a lot of prayer we had an idea that we presented to them. We set up a multi-step baptismal plan for them where they first pay tithing. Tithing is an ancient law and the Old Testament has a bunch of good scriptures on the blessings of that. We shared those with them. The idea is once they pay tithing faithfully they will receive the needed blessings to come to church and once they are coming to church he will gain the strength to quit smoking. We promised some sweet blessings and they accepted. The only problem is we haven't set dates for each step. Hopefully we can do that, the goal is to bring everyone back into activity because this process really will likely take the whole family so that they can all keep the Sabbath day holy.  

Thursday we had a good district meeting. We've been working on jump starting member work in the two Spanish areas. The idea was proposed to split up all the active members between both companionship ignoring geographic boundaries when it comes to the member work. We accepted this idea and have been putting it into action. Our side is destitute of active members so this helps us out SO much. Basically what we have found is that members want to share the gospel; they just don't. They don't take the steps to leave their comfort zone to invite a friend, teaching by example only goes so far but that's the mentality everyone has. I can sympathize though, missionary work is not natural for me at all. Success is in the invitation and you don't need to be the best of friends with someone to invite them to the gospel. We invite everyone we can and we basically don't know anyone. D&C33:7-13

This last Sunday was funny. The story starts the day before I picked up Elder Magalei. We were out walking around on a particular street and started talking with this guy drinking on his porch. We had a little lesson with him and set a return appointment. Elder Magalei and I come back and one drunk guy turns into three drunk guys. The only good thing about that lesson was was that they gave us some good apples. One of the guys was really knowledgeable in biblical history and was just there to teach us without giving us any space. It was pretty annoying because there were some key things that he had wrong but we had no space to do anything. We left without any intention of coming back. Sunday morning 9am we knock on this nice lady's door on a completely different street with the Westons. We walk in and I make eye contact with her husband who was just chilling on the couch and we both kind of made the *a shoot not again* face at the same time. Turns out the guy who antied us is married to this lady we talked with a few days ago. The lesson wasn't quite as bad but he still behaved mostly the same. He kept going and going and going and we were kind of just taking the monologue to the face but Elder Weston wasn't too happy about that. He slightly interrupted and asked some question that the guy didn't know the answer too which allowed us to put in a few points before he took back over. His wife wasn't too happy about what her husband was doing and she told him to basically shut up and let us share what we came to share. He didn't like that very much and kept going until he said something about Abraham that was wrong and Elder Weston corrected him and kept going with that idea that isn't found in the bible but in the Pearl of Great Price in the Book of Abraham that gives a greater understanding of the sacrifice of Isaac. We were able to regain control and end the lesson. We actually set a return appointment for in our own church building and we will have another family.


This Sunday the package of lava lava's came in. Mines sweet. no pics, my bad.

Some news, Some changes are coming to missionary work, we will be having a full mission conference on the 11 of November in Lansing with someone from either the Quorum of the 12 apostles or first presidency. We've heard of some world wide changes but we have also had some allude to some Michigan specific changes, we will have to wait to find out.

The Zone leaders had a baptism last week, some one grabbed a pic of the missionaries in the Wyoming ward, AP's, and the Spanish elders with us which will hopefully keep him a little quite. We wouldn't have done that, but the wife really seemed interested and was not happy her husband T-Boned our visit, also the spirit said to so we did. Hopefully third times the charm. Its pretty easy to gauge peoples sincerity within the first few minutes of any visit. I hope he opens up, listens, and gets converted so we can laugh about our first two visits.

This Sunday the package of lava lava's came in. Mines sweet. no pics, my bad.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

14 October 2017

Michigan-Lansing Mission

fam,

I think I have yet to send out a notice for Saturday P-days. General rule of thumb is there is one every 6 weeks. Something is going on with scheduling. I don't really know anything, but this transfer was only 5 weeks and the next will be 7 weeks. 

On Monday I discovered the Joseph Smith Papers, the first 60 podcasts were quickly downloaded. We've been listening to the podcasts in our car and it's been pretty interesting. It basically goes in depth into certain aspects of church history and what we know based on the documents surrounding Joseph Smith. I would definitely recommend listening to it. 

More information about the Joseph Smith Papers

Weekly planning is one of the tough things of missionary work. I might get a little too into it and it might go a little too long sometimes. Basically what we do is we go in and plan out what we are going to do with all the people we are working with and try to map out what we want to teach and how we teach it. We had a lesson planned a few days ago for a family that got canceled. We basically spent an extra two hours just planning for that lesson and after all our plans nothing felt right. Our planning was concluded after an answer to prayer I didn't really want. The scripture D&C 100:6 came pretty strongly to mind, which says, "For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say." Missionary work really shows Gods trust in us, I've got a long ways to go. 

Mary texted us out of the blue. That was a miracle, we had been trying pretty hard to re-make contact with her and nothing was working so we were starting to back off and were about to send an ultimatum text asking her for a yes or a no and then we made contact. We talked over the phone and she told us everything that's been going on. To keep it short, it's not good. Luckily the gospel is true and if she opens up and lets the Gospel change her life, great things will follow.      

Our Zone leader got called to be the new AP (Assistant to the President) this transfer. That isn't terribly significant but the last two AP's got called to Lansing immediately after going on exchanges with me, I'm dangerous. It's a good thing I can't do an exchange with myself!  

Monday, October 9, 2017

9 October 2017

We had a fun trade off on Monday. I went with Elder Guerrero and we taught one of their investigators Santiago, he has a colorful language. We stopped by to confirm for their appointment the next day and he invited us in to read a little with him. As we were talking with him about what he thinks and feels about what we have shared we found some gaps in his understanding of prayer. Prayer is crucially important to what we do as missionaries because our goal really is to help people form a relationship with God and prayer is one of those ways. People, if they pray, tend to only give thanks but prayer is more than a way of giving thanks for our many blessings. Through our prayer we can find guidance and ask for specific blessings. Often times people don't have faith in the often repeated "ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." We told Santiago that when he prays he should not only ask questions and for blessings but also spend time listening and searching pondering about his questions. This is because as it says in D&C 8:2 that we will by told in our heart and in our mind what to do by the holy ghost. 



Wednesday we drove down to Lansing for a mid training conference with President Brennan. It was okay. There was a portion where the new missionaries went off with the President and all the trainers went with the AP's and had a discussion on how the training is going and what we could do to improve. That was the highlight of the trip and there was a lot of really good advice shared there. Later that day something new happened to us. This one potential we picked up, who we thought was really nice, started to anti us over text. It was definitely different. He was asking us the typical leading anti-questions and told us we had a certain amount time to answer the questions. We just told him we aren't that good at tests but took just over the prescribed time to send that response. He kind of blew up our inbox so we just took a step back and moved on. 

Saturday we did service for one of the members in the morning. We ripped out a carpet and then prepped their hardwood floor to be refinished to the best of our abilities without power tools. It was a good opportunity to get to know the family and we were able to get a referral off of it. We went home, changed into our proselyting clothes and went up to the address we were given. No one was home, but a few houses down there were some Hispanic guys a few houses down siting outside. We went over to talk with them and had a really good discussion. Turns out one met with missionaries in Texas. When people want to talk with us is clear because the conversation actually flows naturally. When people ask questions it's normally pretty clear if they are there to really learn or there to argue or test us. In this moment we got some really good questions they were seeking to learn. We basically taught the restored gospel in its entirety in 45 minutes. We covered major parts of every single lesson as well as nearly all the commandments we teach people as they progress to baptism. It was actually a lot of fun, we weren't the ones who moved the conversation to these points. It was the conversation that naturally moved to these. Unfortunately I didn't step back and let Elder Magalei lead out but aside from that it was really good. We kind of hit a wall at the end because one of the things one of the guys kept bringing up is that you can't really ever know what is really right. 

Our point as missionaries isn't to convince or demonstrate through rhetoric that our message is true but really help people find that out for themselves, so the idea that you can't really ever know is a serious problem that people tend to have. The main problem is people lack the faith to actually ask and seek and knock for their answers, that or they are also complaisant with not knowing for certain. Very basically our message is that God called a prophet in our days. We even have pretty good evidence, the Book of Mormon. Everything relies on the BoM, because if it is true we have a prophet today leading and guiding our church who has restored things lost or changed and that that prophet can and is revealing great and important things pertaining specifically to us in these days. 

One thing I've learned is that every member in this church is so important. 1 Corinthians 12 sets it up pretty clearly. The church is like a body and while every part of your body has different jobs and responsibilities, each part is important. No one is paid for their labor in the Mormon church yet everyone is asked to participate. As a full time missionary the commandment found in John 6:27 is pretty easy to live because that's literally all I do. The priesthood responsibilities given to those who hold it really would fix basically all the problems people ever face. I think people tend to under estimate the importance of simple things we are asked to do, such as home teaching or visit teaching. 

Every person I've visited doing less active work has shared similar stories that would never have happened if people had home teachers doing their job. I like the true and slightly amended counsel given by President Gordon B. Hinkley which says that every member needs three things; a friend, a responsibility, and to be nourished by the good word of God. It's not an exact quote, but in the Saturday morning conference Sister Oscarson basically shared that sometimes the most important service we can do is to the people around us. Home teaching is so important. Something our district has focused on for awhile is real growth. Real growth builds the church through convert baptisms but also by building stronger members. For the branch to grow into a ward we need the members to actually be doing missionary work. That is because if a ward is doing that, the members build their testimonies as they build the size of the congregation. It's a win win. 

Sadly most members in the church aren't doing any form of missionary work outside of their family. I heard about a study that found that only around 10% of the church (not counting full-time missionaries) were doing missionary work of any kind. The mission veil is thick, but I think the name Christopherson should be related to that study. Gordon B. Hinkley in a conference a few years ago extended the commandment to double convert baptisms. We are given the assurance in 1 Nephi 3:7 that there is always a way to fulfill the commandments from God and there is a way to accomplish what has been said and it involves the help of every member acting in faith. 

-eric

We love our ducks, the majority of our bread we buy gets feed to them or the fish. 


2 October 2017

Fam,

This week was a really, really good week. It's a little redundant but literally every week is so good.

Monday we were present for the setting apart of two missionaries, one of which is leaving from our branch. He is the second missionary this branch has thrown out into the mission field and everyone has been super excited for him. The setting apart was not really long, but the stake president shared a short message about his own missionary service in Portugal and I spent the time reflecting on my almost 9 months as a missionary. It's been super rewarding even though it definitely hasn't been all that easy. Being able to share spiritual experiences with people is by far the best part of missionary work as well as being there for people when they most need us.

The Saturday afternoon session of conference was one of the moments we were there for someone. As we walked out of a member's home there was a group of like 15 people outside drinking. We said hi and kept walking. Someone ran out from the group and just randomly started talking with us. We asked her how her day was going and she broke down and explained to us that someone in her family had died and that their family has been drinking to forget their problems. We shared about God's plan for us and how through the gospel of Jesus Christ all can return and live with God in our families. She asked if we would pray with her and we offered a prayer in the streets and left after taking her information for the English elders to visit her. The Church is so good and the doctrines we have are perfect. The gospel really is the only way that we can find true happiness in this life.

Tuesday we did a ton of service for one member. He called us up and asked for our service and obviously we said yes. He graciously gave us a ride because he lives so far away and that's expensive when you have limited monthly miles. The other elders were there with us and we spent a few hours moving this massive play set. That thing was sooo heavy. The member also went the whole 9 yards mounting the play set in the ground. It was worth it though. We did member service, had an opportunity to do some good manual labor, and he fed us some great pizza. 


Wednesday we had a member meal that was really good. It was with a member who lives in the other Spanish area and I hadn't really known her all that well. We have a rule that we can't be alone with anyone of the opposite gender and half way through her friend who was eating with us left, so we relocated to the porch. For our spiritual thought we asked her about her conversion story and it was really good. Being in a branch where everyone over 25 or so is a convert we get opportunities to hear some really good stories. I won't go into specifics but she mentioned that she had gone inactive a few times and I asked her what kept bringing her back. She mentioned the spirit and love she felt in the church, and once you really have an opportunity to feel the Savior's love not much else really is worth much. Truly living the gospel changes lives and brings a peace that stays with you through any trial that is thrown at you. I think Doctrine and Covenants says it best in section 25:10 when Christ says "Verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better." The gospel really is just a better way of life. 

Thursday we had an awesome lesson with Griselda. Sadly we really haven't been able to have consistent lessons with her, but she has been doing her homework. She has had some consistent miracles with the BoM that makes our job pretty easy. She has a baby daughter who always goes to sleep when she wants to read the BoM. Like every time. 



It allows her to be in an environment that is conducive to the spirit, namely quite and peaceful. During our previous lesson we taught part of the Plan of Salvation, God's plan for us in this life, but didn't finish it and left her with Alma 42 to read. We didn't feel that finishing the Plan was what Griselda needed. 

We had the idea to ask her to think about the questions she has about life, the gospel or anything about religion so that we could spend a lesson figuring out what is on her mind and what kind of gospel needs she has and then answer those with the BoM. It turned out really well. I was a little nervous, because she could have thrown anything at us. In that lesson we talked about what God expects of us. We talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ which simply consists of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. We had a member with us who shared a really good analogy of taking steps of faith and their importance in this life. It was a really powerful lesson and we invited her to be baptized. She said yes but when we wanted to set a date she said she wasn't ready for a date. She told us she knew the BoM was true but there still is a lot about the structure of the church she doesn't quite understand yet that she wants to understand before getting baptized. The member with us brought up the question of what she needs before she takes this step. He pointed out that there are a few steps that she needs to take and then some obstacles that people tend to put in front of them, such as not knowing everything about the gospel or church, not being perfect, or other not being willing to take steps of faith. We left her with the commitment to watch General conference this weekend and think about what she needed and then we could help her out on those. 

Friday and Saturday we had a trade off with our zone leaders. It was super good, our zone leaders are bosses. We basically knocked all day which sucked but we talked with a few people. Sadly we were about 20 minutes late to our member meal that day, that was caused by some guy who really didn't like Joseph Smith. We kind of just stood on his porch as he threw some dirt at us that didn't make a whole lot of sense but we just took it. We asked him if he had ever read the BoM or prayed about our message and obviously he said no. John 7:17 states that to know if something of God you have to act and do it to see, there is no other way. There is another one somewhere in the end of the new testament that is better for moments like that, but I can't remember it off the top of my head. The member dinner was a slight culture shock with some white people. When I got asked if I wanted more and I politely declined and they actually accepted my answer, it was really weird haha. 

Conference was really good. I think Saturday morning was my favorite session but I'm out of time. You can watch all the talks on LDS.org and we were asked to review all the talks. 

Choose a conference session to watch.

Also Natividad is doing well





Monday, September 25, 2017

25 September 2017

fam,

As for missionary work, this week was a little rough. In summary, two sick days + zone conference + a trade off= not a lot of proselyting time.

Monday Elder Magalei was sick so we quickly did our shopping and he slept almost all day. Later that day we had a lesson planned with Mary. It was really good. We talked about the importance of having our own spiritual experiences through Going to church, Praying, and Reading your scriptures (CPR). When we planned for the lesson we felt to put her on a really ambitious baptismal date and mid way through the lesson we extended that invitation and she said yes. We explained a little about what baptism entailed and gave her a warning that Satan doesn't what her to progress and to expect things to come up that will make her progression harder. Mary has been progressing really well. Some things she has told us during our last few visits is that while she has been reading through the Book of Mormon she has completely lost the desire to smoke, an addiction she has had since she was 14. She also has a strong desire to return to being close to God. She says her fear is she wants real change but feels if she slips up and falls back into old habits she would be hypocritical. We emphasized how the spirit has a way of helping us have the strength to really change. I think we set a pretty good foundation of CPR.  

Some one in the branch needed a visit so we got up and out. They needed a blessing and we had a member who is leaving on a mission on Tuesday to japan administer. It was a really sweet experience and the spirit was really strong as we were there. 

Tuesday came around and I woke up really sick and took a day. Elderly couples are literally the best thing ever. We called up the westons and asked them to cover for us. They picked up and had a great time at a Noche de Hogar and an investigator lesson we had planned, allowing us to recover in our apartment all day. 

Wednesday we had a great zone conference. Our zone conference this week was really good. We had Elder Snow from the quorum of the seventy come out on Wednesday. He talked with us on the steps of conversion into the gospel. He came with the reported numbers kept track by the mission and talked about the individual needs of our areas. It was really interesting, but nothing really too crazy or interesting. Towards the end of the conference we got a call from Mary, remember we told her that things tend to pop up when people start to try to change their lives for the better, turns out her family doesn't like us and wants to kick her and her daughter out. It was a pretty sad phone call but we were able to set up something for the next day to talk with her. Come the next day we had a lesson at the church which was just awesome. We have her a tour and ended with hymn in the chapel. She really liked the tour. 

Saturday was Elder Magalei's first real tough day. We had a relatively stacked day and everything canceled mid morning after we planned. We had just visited with everyone we could the day before and met with most of our investigators the day before so we were confined to basically find all day. Elder Magalei picked out a street to hit and we knocked for quite a while. The street was pretty white which typical means a tough crowd, and it was. 

Sunday I spent a good time talking with Natividad. We just talked about his family and church for a few minutes. He brought up that he watched the women's conference that was last Friday and said he really liked it. He also mentioned that the talks were really good, that the organ was massive, and the conference center is gigantic and was completely filled.

LDS Women's Conference 2017

I don't know what we are going to do with him and his wife, but we haven't felt like we can drop them which keeps us in a weird limbo of trying to figure out what each step needs to be. We haven't felt good about asking him and his kids to get baptized without his wife, who isn't progressing anymore. We have been asking the ward members and leaders to visit them without us and talk with them. 

Next Saturday and Sunday is going to be awesome. General conference is a spirit filled weekend that happens every 6 months where we can listen to the prophets, apostles and other leaders of the church and receive their direction.

Hebrews 1:1-2 
Ephesians 4:10-15

Monday, September 18, 2017

9/18/17 New companion, Service Project


1) Elder Magalei and me




2) Fog in our exciting parking lot





3)"skyline" of Grand rapids 




Last P-day in the afternoon we had a small miracle. We felt like we should go visit one of the families in our area so we drove to their home after confirming they were okay with us coming by. The family has some crazy kids and so we offered a prayer that taught me a simple lesson. We simply asked that the kids wouldn't be as rambunctious as they normally are and then walked in. Once we said the opening prayer we had a simple message centered how God is our loving Heavenly Father by using the scripture John 3:16 and what he wants from us in return using the scripture Omni 1:26. Never have the kids been so peaceful. The spirit was so strong in that home that night it was amazing. God really answers prayers. Our prayers shouldn't be designed to change God's will, because first of all they can't, but many times he is just waiting to send us certain blessings on the basis that we ask for them in faith. That lesson was a pretty humbling experience for me because as we walked out and I just felt like why are we not always doing this?

Monday was transfer day and I picked up Elder Waters for the few days we were together. He is also training so we worked in the my area up until Thursday. He has served English speaking for the last two transfers and was able to jump back into Spanish pretty easily.

Tuesday we had one of the more interesting lessons I've ever had with someone new. As we were walking into an appointment he ran up to us and asked who we were and set up an appointment with us. Come Tuesday we knocked on his door and he came out. We talked for a few minutes and asked if we could come in and share a message. He hesitated for a second but invited us in. He had us sit down on this couch and there was this other teenager just passed out on the couch. The guy who invited us in tried to wake him up but was to no avail. We asked if there would be another place we could sit down that might be better but he said no. We talked for a few more minutes and opened with a prayer. The lesson was kind of off and we weren't really getting any participation of any kind. About 10 minutes later we heard this car come to a skidding halt and park in the yard and some yelling coming from outside. The guy we were talking with jumps up and the guy outside is just screaming for the kid we were talking with yelling out threats and other unflattering things. At this point the kid we were with was rightfully acting pretty nervous and without saying anything walks out to this guy. Elder Waters and I kind of look at each other like "what the heck is going on and what can we do." We looked out the window because the yelling continued to make sure this kid wasn't getting beaten up or anything and we saw this bigger guy yelling some stuff at this kid and we hear him mention that cops are on the way. The kid runs back into the house where we are and tries to wake up the kid still passed out on the couch telling him that they have to go right now but to little avail. We asked him if everything was okay. He told us that maybe we should come back another day haha. The car in the yard shoots off and we walked out of the house to our car thinking what in the world is going on. We came back a few days later and he didn't say anything about what happened so it couldn't have been too bad haha. The life of an Elder.

Thursday Elder Waters and I went out to pick up our new companions. That morning we had a significant amount of fog which made the trip a little exciting.  Once we arrived at the Lansing stake center we had a bunch of really good trainings and meetings. President Brennan can be pretty inspiring. Later that evening we had a few lessons set up and my new companion Elder Magalei did really well. We walked into the Aguilars home after spending a fair amount of time prepping together for this lesson and once we said the prayer our whole lesson plan didn't feel right so we tossed it and did something completely different. I was really impressed that day one of in field Spanish he was able to completely pivot and turn on basically no notice. We had a really good lesson on faith and shared a few scriptures out of Alma 32 and a scripture in Joshua 4 I think. We've only spoken Spanish together which has been pretty good.

Saturday was the first day I really wished I had my camera. There was a stake service project up in Big Rapids that we got a ride up to. We did a trail clean up and it was really beautiful. We were planning on going with the youth and the leaders, so at 5am we arrived at the Young men's leader's house. We jumped in his van and went to the three homes of the youth in the branch and no one was awake to go, so we returned to his house and had breakfast and then he loaded up his own family and we went up. Big Rapids is about an hour away and we had two really good conversations, up and down, on the needs of the branch and the need for greater member support in the missionary work. We've had pretty poor support from the branch and it's really hard to get things moving. We listened to two really good talks this week about missionary work, the first is called "every member a bird doggier" and I can't remember the other one. Basically nothing works if the ward or branch doesn't support the missionary work.

Once we arrived at the service project we were immediately given gloves and a Mormon helping hands vest and thrown into the back of a pick up truck and dropped off about a mile away. There we removed brush and picked up a bunch of trash. We were right next to a really beautiful river bend and we spent a little bit of time watching the geese fly in and make their landing approaches to the river, it was quite and peaceful.

-Eric

9/9/17 Training a new missionary

fam,

Estoy embarasado con un hijo! (missionary play-on-language-lingo saying that he's going to be a trainer)

Well I'm going to train these next two transfers. That will be fun and a definite growing opportunity. I'll be serving with Elder Waters again for about 2.5 days before we drive down on Thursday to Lansing to pick up our new companions.

Two of the people we picked up on the long day of street contacting seem really promising.

To preface, missionaries have a rule that says we aren't allowed to be in the same room alone with someone of the opposite gender. This week we slightly got wrecked on that rule, so we taught a fair number of people outside.

The first was Paty. She came up to us on the street from behind and asked us who we were. We told her we were the missionaries from the church and talked with her for a while. We talked about modern day prophets and the other awesome things we share with people and set up a return appointment. Our first lesson with her was less than ideal. We pulled up outside her house and it was just pouring down and like 50-60 degrees. She didn't have a man home and was really sick. She still really wanted to meet with us, so we met on her porch outside. It was cold and rainy and we shared the first vision and BoM pretty quickly and she looked like death. Aside from the less than ideal conditions she asked some good questions and we set up a return appointment.

The other was Gabby. Her lesson was mostly in English, but she also didn't have a man home so we met outside. Luckily it wasn't raining. In Michigan in some of the poorer areas, the homes are often split up into multiple apartments so that like +4 families live in these small-medium sized homes. She lives on an upper level apartment of one of the same style homes and there was a pretty sketchy walk way going up to the door. We sat on three chairs on this sketchy landing and shared the message of the restoration. It's always awesome that the spirit accompanies us at each of our visits that we have with sincere people. Depending on the lesson I always try to ask why people invite us back or allow us to come over and this lesson was one of those lessons. She told us as we walked up to her and talked with her that she felt something and figured it was a sign. She then explained to us the stuff she has been going through and she felt she needed to straighten things out. It was super cool she shared that with us.

The other new person we picked up we had two lessons with in the last few days. Her name is Mary and also mostly speaks English. We might be passing her off which is unfortunate. Her family doesn't want to meet with us but she really does. Our first lesson was outside on the grass and it went really well. We committed her to pray about what we talked about and read the introduction. We came back like two days later and had a really, really good lesson. We had to re-cover most of the Restoration lesson because she didn't really grasp everything but at the end she really understood. We read a few things in the Book of Mormon to answer her question on "why do bad things happen to good people." At the end we covered why the BoM is so important. The last paragraph of the Introduction to the BoM explains this, it basically says that if the book of Mormon is true then the Church is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet and we have living day prophets. We asked her to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon is true. She did and paused for a moment after she asked in her prayer. She told us she felt joy and a warmth as she asked the question. We explained the spirit again and reconfirmed the commitments we left with her. We will know what happens with her most likely this Monday. Monday we will have a lesson at the Weston's house with the other elders that cover that area speaking English and she will hopefully decide then. Fingers crossed. Also during that lesson her three year old daughter was outside with us and was trying to destroy the lesson. She was throwing rocks but we were able to divert her attention to building a rock structure to keep her mom attentive and the kid from distracting the lesson, it turned out really well on all fronts.

We actually got a member referral on Thursday so we immediately went to go find this person. We got super vague explanations on which house it was and were told not to use their name which was a little sketchy. We walk up to this door and knock and this tall black guy who doesn't speak any English slowly opens the door and softly says "come" in a thick accent. At that point it was pretty clear we were at the wrong house, but we went in anyway. He tells us to sit and points at a couch and disappears. We sat for a moment in silence and he comes back out with his son. The guy tells his son something and then the son translates in broken English and asks us if we were there to teach them about the bible. We said yes and also mentioned the BoM. The Dad said something to his son, who then said "what day do you pray." Turns out they wanted to know when we go to church and we told them Sunday. They all sighed and looked down. Turns out they were Adventist, but they still invited us to come back today. So we will hopefully have a lesson with this family from Rwandan who speak basically no English. It's going to be super fun. We have the 20 minute restoration video that has a bunch of different languages including french which was their second language. Haha that will be fun.

Also the weather is already slightly chilly, we've been in the 60s with mornings in the 40s. I anticipate a fairly cold winter which will be nice to a certain extent.

Monday, September 4, 2017

September 4, 2017

fam,

I think we turned the tide on the Aguilars. It didn't feel right to extend a baptismal invitation but we had a really really good lesson. One thing that is hard to do but so worth it is to have lessons in members homes with investigators. 




Members homes often have a really good spirit about them that helps our lessons. We need as much help as we can get. We invited the Aguilars to the Westons home and watched the 20 minute restoration video and read some really good scriptures. The spirit was really strong as we read through some of the parts we did. We focused on repentance and receiving answers to our questions. Part of the lesson we read through 2 Nephi 26:23-30. 

23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfareof Zion.
30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.

For the first time in a little time I think something actually touched Gilda during the lesson. After we shared our testimonies on Jesus Christ and the gift of repentance we offered a kneeling prayer where we invited Natividad to offer the prayer and to ask if the BoM is true. As we knelt and Natividad offered an amazingly sincere prayer you could just feel the love of the savior as he humbly asked. In church the next Sunday Gilda had Natividad bring Leo to Primary which seemed like an attempt to remove distractions from church time. Leo who is 5 would normally stay with his mom.  

On Tuesday we had a really funny lesson with a member. We are teaching her sister and we visited with her so that we could tell her what we wanted to do with the lesson later that week so that she would be ready. After we covered what we planned for that later lesson we read through the Joseph Smith Testimony that is right before where the BoM actually starts. About mid way through she stops and kind of solemnly say "Elders I have a question." She then unfolds this huge story about how when she was living in one place and then just completely leaves all of her possessions because she was bored. She said she loaded some things she liked into her car and drove to another city leaving a house and a car to see if she would like the new city. She left everything because obviously if she didn't like it she could just come back. About a month later she decided her old home was too far away so didn't bother with anything there. Fast forward another few years the same thing happened again and she just picked up a few things and moves to Michigan. She told us nothing has ever happened to her and it's been like 50 years and she is a little embarrassed and a little scared to go back and see what has happened to the two houses she left. Some people ha ha. With a chuckle she asked if she was right with God. We told her we didn't have any authority to say anything on that and directed her to the branch president. 

In our zone conference last week we heard that Elder Snow of the quorum of the Seventy is coming to our mission for a few days which will be fun. President Brennan has been getting us really ready. As assignment we have been told to do a good amount of things in preparation including listening to each talk he has given at the various General Conferences he has spoken at.

 We also had a really good Family home evening a returning less active family that just moved to our side. The Westons were with us and we had a pretty good lesson. 



At the end we were eating some arroz con leche and we were talking with the wife about their goals. She mentioned she wanted to get sealed to her husband who is also returning less active, so hopefully we can jump start this goal with them! The only problem is that they have a kid and both work and their work schedule like so many Hispanics here which is that one parent watches the kids until the other gets out of work and the other goes in and they switch. We'll make it work.



We had a lot of success street contacting this week. Our area has like one consistently Spanish populated area and we spent like 5 hours walking around and talking with people. We picked up more people in one day with return appointments than anything I've done before. Hopefully something comes out of all that work. Street contacting is better in every way than door knocking, but there isn't a whole lot in this area where we can actually do that well. The only true good way to contact is through the members.

August 28, 2017

fam,

This week was pretty good. Missionary work in our area slightly got wrecked due to us having trade-offs with the other Elders and a multi-zone conference at the end of the week.

Zone conference was interesting. We had missionaries coming in from the Kalamazoo zone as well as the Lansing zone. The mission isn't reimbursing miles for zone conferences so they kind of got wrecked pretty hard. 



Overall it was a really good conference, we were able to participate in a bunch of really good training by various mission leaders. The one that impacted me the most was when the zones split off and were trained by the our Zone and Sister training leaders. We talked about when Peter walks on water, which interestingly only shows up in one of the gospels. 



The leaders took it another way but what really hit me and what I spent the whole time thinking about was the effect of Peters focus on that story. Jesus asked Peter to come to him and that's what Peter did. He had the faith to act and because of that he literally walked on water as it says, "to come to Jesus." When we focus our lives on that process of coming to Christ we can do those things that we assumed we couldn't, we just have to have that faith to start. It wasn't until he looked away from Christ and noticed everything going on around him that he sank but the second he called out for help Jesus immediately grabbed him. That last part reminds me of a really good scripture in 3 Nephi 10:4-6 

Tuesday we had a really good trade off. I went with Elder Barrows. We had two lessons that day. The first one was with a contact they made which fell through. Sadly they didn't open the door. It's no fun when you know they are hiding inside. It's not like we bite or anything. After that we actually had a pretty good time knocking. It's always super awkward when you walk up to the door and the person pulls out of their house in their car, but when it happened we were able to flip it around. This lady called out to us saying that was her house and that she was leaving. We ran over and asked if we could give her our card. That's an easy way to get a conversation going because you just take a good moment to write your info on the card and your companion can start talking with the whoever you are with. We shared something small with her and got a return appointment.




 Later that day we had another lesson. We had planned to visit with this lady and drop her due to lack of progression. We walked in with the Westons and started talking with her. Elder Barrows and I both felt like the lesson we planned was not what we were supposed to do. So while Elder Weston talked with the lady about either Bees (avejas) or Sheep (ovejas), both sound very similar in Spanish, we found a chapter and then began to read with her. I really had no idea what we were going to do after we were done reading. We picked a chapter to read with her and without knowing exactly what we were doing just kept going with it. We would pause and talk a little about particular verses but nothing really focused on a specific point we wanted to cover. We were coming to the end of the chapter and the whole time I was just praying for some kind of guidance to steer the lesson in. God answers prayers and in the last verse of the chapter the testimony I have in that principle was reconfirmed and strengthened. I was still way nervous but in that moment I felt like I needed to ask a question about faith. After that we really had a good lesson.

I'm not really sure what we are going to do with the Aguilars. We had our best lesson ever with them. We watched a video from what I think is called the "Because of Him" series. It's a series of videos the church put out about Jesus that are pretty good. We talked about Jesus Christ and bore testimony on the power of repentance and the spirit there was just so strong. It was really awesome and in my testimony I learned something really interesting. As I was sharing my thoughts the idea came to mind and I shared that we get answers to our prayers in the same degree we plan on acting on them. There are other factors but that's what I shared in that moment. Natividad and Aldo are ready. They have testimonies of what we've shown them and are doing what they should such as reading and studying the scriptures daily, the problem is if Gilda won't. I doubt Natividad will take any more steps without the companionship of his family in everything that follows. If we can't put them on a date, I'm not sure what we are supposed to do with them. It's evident that Gilda is holding something back but we haven't been able to find what's going on, and if she won't share we can't help.

Omni 1:26