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, March 13, 2017

3/13/17 Jails, dog walkers, polygamy, immigration and people getting ready for baptism

Family and friends,

Every week is better from the last. Every day we meet interesting people I don't think I would have ever talked to, and we've definitely had some small miracles this week.

Monday was fun. We knocked doors and met some interesting people. We normally struggle getting into people's home from the doorstep in order to teach a lesson, which is understandable, but we had an awesome experience with this mid 20's black guy. He was a little hard to understand, but Elder Guerrero and I talked to this guy for a few minutes. We taught him about repentance and that God can help him with the things he said he was struggling with. He seemed openly touched by what we were saying, and he talked about how he used to be in this gang and the life he had that was destroying him on the inside. He talked about the horrible things he did and how it changed him for the worse, and that after he got out of jail he has been working to put that behind and clean himself up for the daughter he had before he was incarcerated. 

The spirit was there and I'm certain he felt the power of what we were talking about. Elder Guerrero and I taught with more unity than ever and it was perfect. It was a little crazy. We both testified that through the atonement we can really come back from anything we have ever done, and become the people we want to be. It was a great moment, but at the same time once we left, we knew we had to pass him off to the English elders who cover the area we were knocking in. 

Tuesday we had a little miracle. We were getting ready to go knock doors and were sitting in the car. We said a prayer to find someone ready for our message as well as some other things. Literally the second we were stepping out of the car, someone pulled into the driveway of our first house. Elder Guerrero and I looked at each other, laughed a little and walked over to the lady. We talked with her and she talked about the miracles she has seen in her life, it was a pretty nice experience and she was really open to listening to more about what we had to say. 

Wednesday we had trade-offs again. I went with Elder Rencher. We did a fair amount of door knocking that day. We talked with this lady who was walking her dog for almost 10 minutes. It was a little funny, because she never stopped walking, but after a minute or so I realized she was in a hurry so we just walked with her. Really an awesome lady, we talked about how we are here to become more like our father in heaven and that that doesn't mean going to church on Sunday and then going crazy the rest of the week. We were able to pick her up as a potential. 

We knocked some more doors and found a lady who said she already read the Book of Mormon. That got me so excited, in my head I was thinking of all the crazy stories of people who randomly find the Book of Mormon, read it, pray about it, and find out on their own its truthfulness. I asked her what she thought about it, and she said it was alright, she just hated the part where it said that men had to have multiple wives. That was a little more than surprising because the Book of Mormon actually has a chapter that talks about the evils of polygamy when it isn't commanded of God (Jacob 2). If she didn't slam the door on our face before we could say anything of value it would have been awesome to actually talk more about it.

That same day we had a lesson with one of Rencher's and Water's investigators who has really been progressing. We just talked about baptism and its importance, showed one of the bible videos about Jesus' baptism, and walked her through the baptismal questions. 

Video depicting Jesus' baptism

Going through the questions was SO cool. She bore her testimony multiple times, and I was just sitting there loving every second. The Gospel has changed her life so much. She talked about how she has always had doubts about God and when the Elders found her, taught her, and invited her to both read the Book of Mormon and follow the promise/challenge found in Moroni 10:3-5 she found all the answers she was looking for. It was incredible to see that there are people out there ready to hear the word of God, and that truly their only barrier is that they don't know where to find it. 

Friday we stopped by a less active teen we have been working with. We didn't plan on teaching him anything but were just planning on seeing if there was a time we could come back and talk more. We walked in and he was happier than I've ever seen him. He has been to church the last three weeks and has started praying again. 

(This link has very helpful FAQs about attending LDS church meetings and you can enter your zip code to find the closest meetinghouse.  Visitors are welcome!)

He talked about things he has been struggling with. As a missionary I've never felt more guided by the spirit. We were sitting with this kid, and all these ideas kept coming to me to tell him, and we had an powerful conversation about repentance with him. He said he really has felt a difference now that he is coming back to church. We read through Ether 12 which is pretty awesome. My favorite part is verse 27 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (italics added). It's super rewarding to watch people's testimonies grow and watch them feel the truth of what we talk about.
Chicago, IL LDS Temple
Saturday was by far the best day. We got permission to go to the Chicago temple with the branch. Our branch is pretty small, only around 60 people are there each Sunday. Saturday we had nearly 40 people go. It was such an awesome experience. We were planning on doing everything you can do in the temple, but everyone showed up late in the morning so we lost about an hour of temple time. We were able to do an endowment session and baptisms. We missed the start time of the Spanish session, but the temple president was able to switch some things around and created a new Spanish session just for us. The temple is such a powerful place. The spirit inside and around is like no other place I've ever been, it truly is the house of the lord. The nearest temple to our area is 3.5 hours away, and many of the branch members go once or even twice a month, which is at a considerable sacrifice to many based on the economic status of much of the branch. It really is inspiring. 

Sunday we learned some interesting things about the new executive orders and laws surrounding illegal immigration. Everyone is really nervous and just scared about getting deported. Turns out one of the Catholic churches in the area has been working with illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, which is great, but have told everyone who is illegal to not open their doors to anyone they don't know. That kind of explains a lot. When we knock areas with a lot of Hispanics, we never get a door open, and this has happened in the past two weeks or so. It's pretty sad. People are just scared.

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