Elder Eric Johnson
2516 Normandy Dr. SE Apt. 304-C
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

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

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