Address

Elder Eric Johnson
1830 R W Berrends Drive SW Apartment #2
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.

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.  

27 November 2017

fam,

We meet with the Francos like three times a week. It's pretty great. We've had a series of really good lessons with them and they are progressing decently. Unfortunately, December 23 won't be met. Marco wants to be baptized but there are some things we have to work on and they have to work on before baptism that will likely take some more time than we have so they took themselves off date. We were able to talk about everything going on and set some goals to keep them progressing. On another day we went over to learn how to make tortillas and horchata. First off they both turned out so good. The members and the people we work with keep their recipes under lock and key, although "recipe" is a pretty loose term. Cooking here is more like "a little this and a little of that" with zero measurements, I took loose notes. The tortillas were pretty hard, probably took me about 10 tries to get the pressed masa from tortilla press to grill, the darn thing kept tearing. They also gifted us a tortilla press. We have already put it to good use. 




Tuesday was good. I had a good trade off with Elder Rencher. They have an investigator getting baptized who is finally getting baptized. She is so awesome. I remember my very first trade off when I met her and thought she was a member. Her situation didn't allow her to be baptized but after many months of working hard she was able to get away from a bad situation that wouldn't allow her to be baptized. The interview process is really simple. There are a set of defined questions that are designed to make sure the person who wants to be baptized understands what they are doing and are willing to live according to the standards by which they promise to live by. President Brennan came to give the interview and I "translated". It was pretty great. We walked into the bishop's little office and President Brennan just asked me to do the interview, he added a few questions and then we closed in prayer. All went smoothly.  

Friday the church launched "Light the World". I'm really impressed with how it has turned out. I wasn't in the loop last year but apparently it's pretty similar. The basic premise is that you do some type of service every day leading up to Christmas to help people remember why we celebrate Christmas and get people in the true spirit of Christmas. It's based on 25 different things Christ said or taught and the video the church put up is stellar. 


Unfortunately the Westons return home on the fourth. They spoke in church on Sunday and it was really good. They are both such good examples. They definitely make me want to serve a senior mission when I'm old. Elder Weston shared an insight that I liked in his talk, he said that church is a tool and the gospel is the way of life. A lot of people tell us that the either don't believe in religion but believe in God or don't believe in organized religion. Their point makes a little sense if the only reason you go to church is to study the bible and or go to some social gathering. The sacrament is why we go to church. It's the way we can recharge our spiritual batteries for the week and receive forgiveness for the sins from the previous week and recommit to be a little bit better the next week. We then take what we learn in church and apply it in the coming week. Application of the gospel is crucial. If you don't apply it, it is of no worth. Alma 41 makes an interesting point on application. 

My Book of Mormon reading has been going pretty well. I'm coming up at the end of the Book of Alma. I don't think I've read through the war chapters so fast. There is no doubt that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It's super awesome. No one can dictate a book of this level or close in under 90 days (or at all) while having other responsibilities like raising a family, protecting said family from mobs, moving from state to state and other crazy stuff like that. Aside from the confirmation of the spirit of its truth there is no other explanation for such a book. Yes, it's different from the Bible. No Revelation 22:19 is not referring to the still uncompiled Bible, and yes God can reveal more of his word and has through living day prophets and the Book of Mormon. Read it and study it daily. It's pretty good. 

-eric 



Monday, November 27, 2017

20 November 2017

fam, 

We had some really good lessons with the Francos this week. We were in our area for part of the trade off and Elder Rencher and I had a family home evening with the family. We really had no idea what we were going to do as we walked in because we didn't like the plan we had worked on. We opened with the video "Mountains to Climb" watch the video and talked about what happens when we try to make positive changes in our lives. Every time we try to come closer to God and make a serious decision Satan really tries to stop whatever progress might be made. We made an analogy to hurricanes. Living the gospel maintains your position in the eye of the storm. Simple things such as offering honest prayers where we talk with God, studying the scriptures and going to church keep us centered. It was really good and we finished with Uno. It was cut throat. 


Thursdays and Fridays we have our morning lessons with the Francos. We taught them the Plan of Happiness and the Word of Wisdom. We had a member come with us who had quit smoking. We had planned to have dinner with them the night before to prep him for what we wanted him to do. Unfortunately that was canceled so as we walked in and we told him he had 2 minutes to tell his story. We sit down, offer a prayer, explain briefly. 

What ensued was an elaborate 25 minute play of him explaining and acting out the story. It included obviously the missionaries knocking on his door, near death experiences, doctors telling him he had three days to live days after his wife "prayed that he would be smitten with something that would teach him a lesson." The Francos seemed to like it, it definitely side tracked our lesson but the spirit was there and it was funny. 





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