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

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

2/27/17 White shirts, Spanish, Bellybuttons, Cubans

Family and friends,

It's been a pretty good week and an interesting week.

We volunteer at a food pantry run by some church in the area. We basically just cleared out a bunch of expired food. We had three hours of service planned, but we did all the work in just over an hour. Some nursing students came in a little after we finished and asked if they could practice taking our blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It was really fun talking to people our age and in English. One of the nurses taught me how to take blood pressure levels.  I'm basically a doctor now.

Two days this week we did exchanges. The first day we went out with our district leader, Elder Waters. We knocked doors for a little bit, with no success. I think one person on the whole side of the street opened their door to say they weren't interested. Elder Waters and I just talked for a little bit. He is from Portland and was home-schooled. He also has 12 siblings. That night a ward member bought us pizza. We met him at the place, but he was late. This group of old people were talking about us very indiscreetly. One said, "You can always spot Mormons by their white shirts." We just kind of laughed to ourselves, but we should have talked with them. Oh well. The next morning I wasn't feeling that good. I had really bad stomach cramps and almost threw up. I was getting worse and worse, and then I asked Elder Guerrero to give me a priesthood blessing. That turned my symptoms all around. We later went to CVS and I grabbed some meds and am feeling much better now.

Exchanges with the zone leaders were really good though. We taught a lesson with a recent convert that was interesting. It was really hard to stay focused because he kept talking about League of Legends and how he is in the top 10% of the world. We compared the water cycle to testimonies. The sun evaporates the water (our testimonies) and we have to do a few steps to replenish that water. By reading the scriptures, praying, and going to church we grow the volume of water we have. 

After the lesson we knocked doors for a little bit. Elder Medina, the zone leader, was with me and he only speaks English. We talked with a few people, all English speakers, and picked up a two potentials. We ran into three people who didn't speak English: A man from Bosnia, someone from Vietnam, and a latino. We gave ITL cards to the Bosnian and Vietnamese man, but the latino guy let us in. That was way awesome. I talked with him with moderate success. I basically told him who we are, why we talk to people, asked him about his faith. I understood most of what he said which I was pretty proud of. I also told him we have friends who speak better Spanish than I can and would love to talk with him more. He said yes and said he would come to church next week. We grabbed his info and left. It still surprises me when people will actually open their doors and talk with us for a few minutes. When we were leaving The man quoted something from the bible and said something about it, and I literally did not get a single word.  I just replied, "Si, es verdad" smiled and left.  Haha oh well.

One of the days this week we checked up on a less active kid. He let us in and we invited him to come to church and taught a little lesson. The lesson was 50% Spanish and the rest was English. It was a decent lesson, but the kid's little brother who was probably 5 years old kept trying to play with me, and the TV in the back room was on but muted. I was not really into the lesson, his younger brother kept taking my stuff and trying to play Pokemon with me. The kicker was the 5 year old didn't speak English and he would listen to me when I said, "I can't play right now," in my best Spanish.

Elder Guerrero and I don't have that many investigators, and we had to drop two this week. They are both Dominican and are basically impossible to understand. Our investigator said she doesn't want to change her faith, because she has been Catholic her whole life, but she feels that she knows what she has to do, but won't do any of our commitments. Her husband is on the same page as her. We, more accurately Elder Guerrero, taught a really powerful lesson about faith and how sometimes we need to just act and demonstrate our faith. We shared a few scriptures and left. They asked us to pray for them, and they told us they always feel something different when we are around teaching. We told them we want them to know that they could call us at anytime, and we would love to see them at church, but we can't see them every week. After that lesson we checked up on someone who lives with them who also is taking lessons from us. He is basically a perfect investigator, he just hasn't been to church in a while. It was already late when we went over to where he was, so we basically just invited him to try to make it to church every week. He said yes which was really awesome, and we set up a ride for him. We also got him on a baptismal date, April 8. When Sunday came around he was there for the entire time. He seemed to have a really positive experience. Our branch is pretty small but they fellowship really well.

Door knocking is always a little interesting. This week we had two funny/interesting experiences. The first was with a group of Africans, where only one of them spoke English. About half were Baptists and the other half were Seventh-Day Adventists. The Old African women sat on the couch with us and their 15 or 16 year old daughter translated. They didn't really listen to us and we didn't really get a chance to talk about who we are and what we could do for them. It was also really confrontational. They were asking us how we can have more scripture and how is it not adding false doctrine to the bible. We talked about how God has always worked through prophets and how the Bible is more of a library of teachings of prophets and wasn't a book written all together. We also touched on how we have to give the book a try, and test it for ourselves, because the only place we can get spiritual truth is from the Lord. It was really hard to not be confrontational back, but they invited us back lol. The other was a Cuban atheist and his Seventh-Day Adventist wife. I got about 60-75% of what his wife said in Spanish, but I got maybe 5% of what the Cuban said. He talked so fast and cut words like nobody's business. I kind of just sat in silence while Elder Guerrero talked. Towards the end Elder Guerrero turned to me and said "I don't know, what do you think Elder?" That caught me a little off guard, because the last few minutes the Cuban guy was going off, Elder Guerrero told me in English that he had asked two questions. The first being did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons? The other being when we are in heaven how do we know who people are? I told his wife, who translated for me, in the Bible, it says we were created in God's image, so the better question is does God have a belly button. That really changed the atmosphere of the "lesson" and it was much more friendly, because he thought that was funny. The other question I said the scriptures don't really talk about any of those questions but that I think that if we look different in heaven for whatever reason, we would just know who people are. We got an invite back, and Guerrero said if we come back we need the lesson to be a little more calm. I'm pretty sure the Cuban was on something though. He grew out his pinky fingernail fairly long as if to snort stuff more easily. Either way, when we come back to both of those people, it will be interesting.

We had two really good dinners this week with members. The first was with the Rosales family. It was our Car fast day, which is a day in the week we go without our car, I don't know why and it kinda sucks a lot. We had a ride set up to pick us up from door knocking but they came way late and we had a lesson between door knocking and dinner. Everything went long, and we showed up an hour late to dinner........ That wasn't good. But they let us in and and graciously hosted us. I felt a little bad about that, but they were really nice. They gave us these amazing tacos with homemade tortillas. 

As we ate, Hermana Rosales talked with us. She talks really fast but really clearly, which I've found to be a rare combo. I was able to follow along, probably getting 80-85% and was able to accurately guess another 10%. She talked about conversion. I shared a point that the first generation Mormons on my Mom's side took the lessons for I believe 19 years before they joined. She was impressed that I was able to follow along and add something of value to the conversation. The other dinner was with a member named Andre who is from Guatemala. Last week we talked with a guy who kept talking in Mayan. Turns out the language is called Mum, but is a Mayan language, and Andre speaks Mum fluently. He taught us some words and it sounds pretty sweet. We are going to try to get him to come out with us on a lesson with the guy who also speaks Mum.

Elder Johnson

Monday, February 20, 2017

2/20/17 First week in Michigan

Family and friends,

The last day in the CCM was kind of lame. I spent the time with one of the districts we were pretty close with. The day started off alone which felt weird. After I dropped my companions off at reception they didn't tell me what to do so I just went back to our house. My companions left at 2 and 4am and I said goodbye at both times. I met up with the missionaries I stayed with for the rest of the day at breakfast. The day was pretty typical. I packed the rest of my stuff and brought it to the dorms where I would spend the night. They were pretty funny. We talked for a while and a few threw all the mattresses into one room and started wrestling. Three of the six missionaries wrestled in high school, and one of them wrestled in college. It was entertaining to watch.

The next day I left for the airport at around 3 a.m. That was rough, because not only was I alone once I walked into the airport, but I got through security super fast. I was 2.5 hours early to my gate and was worried that if I slept I would sleep through my flight getting called, so I didn't really get much rest. I just sat dozing off a few times, and reading the scriptures a few times. About an hour before my flight was to start boarding, a missionary coming home from Paraguay walked up to me. He thought I was going home, and was surprised when I told him I was headed to Michigan for my mission. He had pretty good English, but we talked in Spanish for a little bit. My flight from Mexico to Atlanta was really good. I sat down and almost immediately fell asleep. A man named Carlos sat next to me. He was flying to Kentucky for work. He breeds pure bred horses for Polo. We talked for a little but I couldn't stay awake. I passed out and slept all the way to Atlanta. Traveling to Michigan was easy. The line for customs in Atlanta wasn't too long. I got to gate 5 minutes before they boarded. Sadly no one sat next to me on the last two flights, so I didn't make my goal of handing out a Book of Mormon to someone. I got to Lansing and arrived with 9 other English speaking missionaries. The AP's are massive guys, one whose name is Elder Johnson as well. Apparently there are 4 other Elder Johnsons in the mission, and one left yesterday.

The next day I got my trainer. Elder Guerrero. He is from Las Vegas and Spanish was his first language. The guy's a boss, it's also his 4th month so he is also super green. My first night we taught a lesson to a member, which was in English. I also got my driving privileges immediately because Elder G doesn't have his driving privileges. We will have a car for our whole mission and we are about to get a new Chevy Malibu 2017. Our next day we taught our first lesson in Spanish to a less active member. It was pretty good and I was able to talk a little. We just talked about the 10 commandments and fasting. That night we played indoor soccer with some of the members in the stake center. That was a ton of fun. I was expecting to get killed by all the Latinos, but my companion and I scored a bunch of times. We also picked up a possible investigator named Borrus that day.  I think we will be teaching him on Wednesday this week. Saturday we did some door knocking and picked up a potential in Spanish. We also taught a lesson with a less active member. We talked about temples and how she can be sealed to her family. She had a son pass away a few years ago and we talked about that and she seemed really happy. Elder Guerrero said he has taught her for months and has never seen her that happy. That was a great lesson. That night though we got a text from the Branch president for our branch. He asked me to speak for 15 minutes on temples and temple covenants. The best part is I've never given a talk in English that long.

Sunday came around and was pretty great. In the morning we knocked doors in this really Hispanic area. We had some interesting experiences. This little latino man in his 20's or so welcomed us in. He asked us about coffee, tea and alcohol, so we talked about the Word of Wisdom. I was excited because this was one of things I can actually talk about in Spanish so I explained where it comes from and what it means. The little man was looking at me and trying to hide a smile. As I was talking I was thinking what is about to go down? I asked him what he thought about what I said and he walked up, grabbed a bible and opened to a bunch of scriptures about prophets giving commandments and asked where in the bible it said any of this. I knew what he said but didn't know how to answer in Spanish. Elder Guerrero opened up to a scripture in Deuteronomy that says God has always worked through prophets and talked about Joseph Smith. The little man was kind of fighting with us. It was really weird. I think he called us false prophets, but I'm not sure lol.

After we left his home we saw this family walking by. They were going to the park and so we talked with them for a little. Turns out the adults were brother and sister, but they came off really rough at first. The brother was kind of yelling a little bit, but once we got to the park we were able to really connect with these people. Also side note, it was really funny, when we were walking to the park this lady turns around, sees us, then takes her kids and left. Carlos and Delia, the people we found on the street, we really interested in what we had to say. Elder Guerrero taught  a really powerful lesson on the restoration, and I was able to talk a fair amount in the lesson. Carlos and Delia were also super nice. They seemed to really like the fact that I was learning Spanish and were like teaching me some cool Spanish stuff and helping me with some words I kept forgetting. We gave them a Book of Mormon and will be meeting with them again.

After that we went to church. I gave a 10 minute talk that turned out pretty decently. The branch is pretty small, only about 60 people. Everyone seems really nice, and there are also some white people there who go because they speak Spanish.

Im excited to be in this area.  And it looks like I'll be here for awhile. This is the only Spanish branch in the mission. There is one other Spanish companionship here and they've been here their whole mission

Lastly my address is

2935 Waterchase Way, Apartment #308, Wyoming, Michigan 49519

Friday, February 17, 2017

2/17/16 Eric and his trainer and the Mission President and his wife

Elder Johnson with his trainer Elder Guerro

Elder Johnson with President and Sister Jacobson

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2/15/17 Arrival in Michigan

Now the work begins!   Eric arrived in Michigan today.  We are eagerly waiting to find out where his first area will be. We are also hoping that he didn't lose his suit jacket. . .

Thursday, February 9, 2017

2/9/17 Week 6 Almost finished at the CCM

Fireworks in Mexico City

Family and friends,

Week 6 is real. Five more days in the CCM. Tomorrow we start our infield orientations. It lasts all day. Yesterday we also got our travel plans for leaving to our mission. I leave early Wednesday and will be the last person from our group that came in. It's weird, everyone we knew is already basically gone. Our service activity is welcoming the new, English speaking missionaries, and at this point I've welcomed nearly every American and English first language missionary in the CCM. It's kind of a weird feeling because everyone we came in with is gone, and I might not see  a lot of these people ever again.

Our buddies who came in a week before us are all gone. Most were going to Chile, but two went to Missouri. They left yesterday. That was Elder Hoyt and Hunt. They were polar opposites. Hoyt is 6 foot 6,  is super loud and was in the army. Hunt is maybe 5 foot 9 and religiously played Zelda. They were awesome together though, it was hilarious. Our last meal together they talked about how their first lesson was basically sitting in silence and like half-way through saying "Dios nos ama."  

This week we started doing "missionary as progressing investigator." It's kind of interesting pretending to be someone who is learning about the church and what we are all about. You learn a lot putting yourself in other people's shoes. It was my turn to teach yesterday. We are assigned groups, so we teach one on one. Yesterday I also started to have a sore throat that was progressively getting worse throughout the day, to the point to where I almost couldn't talk. My lesson was rougher than normal but I was able to slowly get through. I can talk now mostly, and my throat isn't killing me anymore, but yesterday I was going through the cough drops like crazy.

Saturday we had TRC again. We've done it every Saturday for the last 3 weeks or so. We taught two lessons. The first one was over skype and was super rough. We talked about the Book of Mormon, but we had a really poor connection so we couldn't hear the other person and she couldn't hear us. The call also dropped like 4 times. It was funny, but we got through. Our next lesson we taught face to face with someone who was baptized a year before. We started with getting to know who she was and after a few minutes we said an opening prayer. Through the window on the door our teacher gave us the signal to wrap up our lesson, so we just bore our testimonies and said a closing prayer. The lesson was probably 5 minutes long. The lady was really nice to us and spoke in a way that we could easily understand her. As we left the room we could smell throw up in the hall. Luckily we were done, but one of the Elders in Sister Clayton's district mid- lesson vomited. He said he woke up that day feeling slightly ill, but in the lesson it came faster than he could react. Luckily he didn't throw up on anyone, but our teacher Hermana Gonzales was fighting mostly unsuccessfully to hold back laughter.

Sunday was a awesome day. It was fast and testimony meeting. I don't think I've ever fasted a full 24 hours, and it's not fun. It started Saturday at lunch and went to lunch Sunday. Our day started with the branch council meeting. It was pretty standard and I talked about how our district is bonding really well and the companionships that were struggling are doing much better now. I also talked about how we had our best lesson this week. President Bennet was in our branch meeting, and he had me dissect our lesson and find out why it was better than our other lessons. After we did that he talked about how commandments shouldn't be followed because we fear the punishment but because we love God. He also said that God wants to bless us, but the only way we can receive those blessings is if we follow his commandments. Our good lesson, we taught basically following that flow of ideas and it was a much more powerful lesson.

Testimony meeting was especially good. My district was in charge of the sacrament. I passed with President Bennet while Elder Pearson and Elder Henriksen blessed the bread and water. I've never seen a presiding officer pass the sacrament, but it makes sense. In Mathew or Mark, Jesus talks about leadership. I don't remember the exact wording but he says something along the lines of how the leader should be the one providing the service instead of leading. During the sacrament the presiding leader normally gets the sacrament first, sitting next to Bennet before the meeting started I had a thought to ask him what I would do in this case. I figured he would take it last as the passers normally would, and he said it reminded him of a story. During the testimony segment he bore his testimony and told a story about how he was at a Sacrament Meeting with a few apostles. He talked about how the apostles all took the sacrament last because they were also helping with the sacrament and were there to serve others. Our branch president also bore his testimony and quoted Chance the Rapper which was a little funny. He started his testimony with "I know this isn't really mission appropriate, but there is this line in one of Chance the Rapper's songs I really like." I cant remember the line, but it was something about worshiping. Later on basically all of our leaving district bore their testimonies. It was a super powerful meeting. You can learn a lot of Spanish in 6 weeks, it's almost unbelievable. Elder P bore an especially good testimony. He talked about how before he was a "rebel" and wasn't going to go on a mission and never prayed about if he should or not. A few weeks before he started his mission papers he received a really powerful prompting that he needed to serve a mission and he ignored it. It wasn't until the fourth time that he started his papers. He said that everyone is on their missions for a reason and it's to bless the lives of others. He then went into more detail about why he is here which I won't share.

Sunday evening there were a ton of fireworks for Constitution day. I was able to grab a few pics.

I don't think our district's afternoon language teacher likes us, she does an OK job hiding it. After the district in our zone left they left a bunch of stuff in their room, including some nice chairs. Before class with the teacher who doesn't like us, my companions and I grabbed those chairs and rolled them to our room. We sat down and she immediately told us we have to put the chairs back in the room we got them from and that those chair were only for teachers, but the thing is there are chairs in each room for the teachers but these where not them, and I kinda told her that. I probably shouldn't have but she was wrong and I wanted my comfy chair. She then said it's against the "rules" and at that point I knew I wasn't going anywhere. We put the chair back in the room we got them from. The kicker is after we put the chair back we were talking with one of the MTC supervisors, Hermana Sanches, who is maybe 5 feet tall and super nice. I asked her if it was a rule and she said it wasn't, but that teachers just don't want missionaries to play with the rolling chairs. Our intention wasn't to play with the chair, but to have more comfy chairs, but our teacher wasn't having any of it. I wouldn't have been annoyed if I was just straight up told that. If you make up rules you just back yourself into a corner. That was the only annoying thing this week

We still have yet to get in trouble for not having a perfect room. We've even talked to Hermana Bennet but she hasn't brought anything up. She was in our Branch council meeting as well and she off- handedly said she doesn't check missionaries rooms on their 6th week so I guess we are in the clear. I guess the lesson learned is that if you ignore problems they go away haha.

Side note there are two new elders in the CCM going to the DC south mission and one went yesterday. The one that went yesterday I played ultimate with a few times and I think his name was Elder Andrus, but I don't think he'll ever be in the Arlington ward being that he is serving Spanish speaking.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2/2/17 "Solo Español" stickers, "Los plátanos de oro", Mexico City Temple

Enroute to the Mexico City Temple

Mexico City LDS Temple

View of Mexico City (probably from the temple)

CCM District at the temple

Family and friends,

I'm about halfway through my 5 week. Speaking Spanish with latinos is the fastest way to humble yourself over your Spanish skills. I can understand most things our teachers tell us the first time, but speaking with latinos is a whole new ball game. Our district's goals for this week included speaking with latinos more often, and it really shows you how far you need to get to speak quickly with confidence. I was in the bathroom during a break and an Elder walks in and I said hi. He said hi and asked where I was going on my mission and how many weeks I've been in the ccm. I told him and he asked me a few questions and I had no idea what he said. I asked him to repeat what he said, every word he said ran into the next and was basically impossible to understand. Our teachers are super nice, and our morning teachers annunciate really well and make it easy to understand them. Our afternoon teachers separate words well, but are harder to understand. This week we got "Solo Español" stickers on our name tags. Basically we should only be speaking Spanish, and we are not the best at doing that... the stickers are a badge of honor though, because you get them in your last week or two.

Sunday was pretty good. I thought I was in the clear for not speaking because I wasn't in the first group of 3 speakers. After that first group of speakers there was a special musical number by one of the districts. It was a duet of "A Childs Prayer." Hermana Doogle (I believe) and Elder Hoyt sang. Our "chapel" [probably a classroom or meeting room serving as a chapel on Sunday] has a step up that is about a foot tall, and the podium is also on that step. Hermana Doogle is around 4 foot 11 and Elder Hoyt is 6'6". So when she stood on the step, she was still significantly shorter than Elder Hoyt. It was relatively funny, and it was all because they only had one sheet of music they needed to share. After they sang, the branch president called 3 other people to talk. I was the first one in that group, luckily I actually wrote a talk. My topic was on the Christ-like attributes of charity and love. In Elders quorum we talked about praying always and having a prayer in your heart. One of the elders gave a personal story about his preparations to serve a mission. His stake president told him he wouldn't submit the papers until he rebuilt his relationship with his brother. He didn't go into detail, beyond the fact that something had happened and they stopped talking. He said he prayed that night on what he could do, and a few weeks later he was home for the weekend. When the brother left he felt like he needed to just give his brother a hug. A few days later he said he was studying at like 3 a.m. and his brother called him. The spirit was so strong when the elder was talking about how they both forgave each other, it was a really awesome class.

My alarm clock has been acting a little funky, it runs slow sometimes and fast others. On Monday my alarm didn't go off, but luckily I woke up at 7:20 and woke my companions up. We missed 90% of our breakfast but were able to get dressed fast enough to get something. I later found out that one of the batteries came out of position and turned the clock off....I might need a new clock.

Our morning was spent in the Mexico city temple. It's the biggest temple outside the U.S., and it is one of 5 where the angel Moroni is holding the golden plates. Also fun fact, if you accidentally say "el oro plátanos" [which means: "the gold bananas".  The correct Spanish term is "planchas de oro"] in a lesson your fake investigator will not be able to hold back laughter. Luckily I didn't find this out for myself, one of the other companionships in our zone found it out for us. 

The temple was a great experience. Wearing headphones was odd, but it was good that it was in English and not Spanish. There is a segment in Preach my Gospel that talks about the language of the spirit crossing literal language barriers and that is very true. There were parts of the temple ceremony that were not translated into English, and it was still a very spiritual experience, that was particularly interesting.

No obvious gun shots this week, just tons of fireworks. All hours of the day people are launching off rockets, not even mortars. You can watch them fly up with their trail of flames, and blow up in a big circle. It must be cultural, because they are also launched off when it's daytime. The ccm is in a pretty rough part of town and there isn't a ton of space to launch off rockets, so it has to be especially sketchy.

Tuesday we welcomed a new district into our zone. One of the Hermanas is from New Zealand. Her calling is both as a missionary and as a nurse, which is cool. Also her travels took over 30 hours, but because of the direction she flew, she arrived in the US at the same time she left New Zealand.