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.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

3/25/17 Wards/Branches, Baptism, Racoons, Malibu

Family and friends,

Apparently our last P-day in each transfer is on a Saturday, idk I don't make the rules, but here we are.

Elder Rencher, from our district has been keeping statistics on church attendance during the past few weeks. This last Sunday was a little crazy based on how many people showed up. In order from my first week until now, church attendance was 64, 58, 67, 80. A few members brought their friends, and we had more less-active members than ever. Sadly, the member's friends live in the area of the other companionship in the district. That Sunday the idea of the Spanish ward was planted into our minds. Apparently the branch has grown significantly over the last year. When it started, only around 13 people or so would show up every week. We average around 5 times that now. Last night Elder Guerrero felt really strongly that we were called specifically to this mission to build and turn this branch into a ward. We used the little free time we had to set some goals and outline what needs to be done to make this goal. 

Find out about wards and branches here

From what we know, we need 15 worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders who are willing to fill the church leadership positions. We are currently at around 9. The most important thing we can do is strengthen the members and get their help in our mission efforts. Strong members build strong members. There are a few men who are mostly active that we can work with to make this goal happen. This is the benefit of the area I was called to, this is the only Spanish branch in the state so I'm staying for quite a while. The president was at the baptism we had today and talked about the progress this branch has had. When I first got here 6 weeks ago he also told me that I'll be in this area for more than half my mission. So while it seems like a lot of time, there is a ton of work to be done. This week we set some insane weekly goals. We'll see how that goes. It truly feels like the Lord wants a strong Spanish ward.

So like I said we had a baptism today. It's been along time since I've gone to one, which is too bad, because the spirit was so strong. We are working on Latino time, so it started almost 40 minutes late, and people were filtering in slowly almost the whole time. Berta was working with the other missionaries, and we weren't able to get any of our investigators out to it which was too bad. We invited everyone we met this week. A few people talked and it really was a great opportunity to see how far I've come in Spanish, I understood 95% of what was said, but missed a few jokes. I also translated a little for the zone leader and Assistant to the president that came to our baptism. 

Monday we had an awesome lesson with our Golden Family. I'm pretty sure their last name is Soreano, but I'm not sure. We found Natividad walking to a park to play soccer with his son. We had a really great lesson with him where we talked about the restoration and I led out that lesson. The spirit was pretty strong, and we could see that Natividad felt the same. We gave him a Book of Mormon and asked him to read the intro and Joseph Smith's testimony. He said he would. We taught another lesson with him on Thursday. We brought the Rosales family with us and we talked about the Plan of Salvation. We had them teach a little and they gave testimonies on how the gospel has changed their lives. The Rosales family just clicked with Natividad and his wife, We really hope they will come to church tomorrow. Our lesson also on Thursday Natividad was talking about when we first talked to him he saw a light in us and felt something in his heart that was different. In the lesson I was thinking, what the heck that's so freaking awesome. He went on to say that when he was reading the intro, and the lessons we've had with him he feels that same thing. Elder Guerrero and I were looking at each other thinking this isn't happening. Natividad is so ready. We haven't put him on a baptismal date yet, but he is starting recognizing the spirit and is reading the Book of Mormon with an open heart. It is so cool to watch people accept the plan God has for them.

That same day we had a lesson with a less active who's husband we were able to pick up as an investigator. We talked about the restoration with him and he really is starting to show a little interest. He comes to church but is a little hesitant to join another church. He seems like the kind of man who isn't going to make a decision without knowing all he can know, which is awesome especially because he is finally showing interest. We had an Hermana from the branch come with us to the lesson and she taught really well. I asked how the message of the restoration of Christ's church has blessed her family and she gave a really nice testimony on how she can receive guidance to raise her family and the blessings that come from it. The less active lady that was there went on this tangent that I was only able to get the theme of, which was something about her daughter and a picture that shouldn't have been possible, we brought the lesson back, and Pedro really seemed receptive to what we said and also really felt the spirit. We finished the lesson and Hermana Sifontes gave a really powerful testimony on the Book of Mormon, it was crazy. 

Members are such powerful examples and when they bear their testimonies it's incredibly powerful. We left with a prayer and commitments to read the intro and J. smiths testimony.

Introduction to the Book of Mormon

The last three nights we've been woken up by an intruder. The first night Elder Guerrero woke me up thinking someone was breaking into the apartment. We live on the third floor and the noise was coming from our balcony. He grabbed my flashlight and we saw a raccoon pulling aside the plastic siding and trying to dig through the 2x4. 

I checked the damage that morning and there is a solid 6 inch diameter whole behind the siding into our wall from the outside. In our studies in the morning we started hearing the little guy walking around above us which was a little funny. We really need to report this. The next day in the early morning around the same time, not thinking straight I had the bright idea to poke him with our broom and scare him away so that he wont come back. He hissed really loud at me and started climbing down really fast to come and get me. I closed our glass door and he clawed at it for a minute and retreated like a little coward. Our apartment is on a little man-made lake and we have a bunch of wildlife that stops by. We have a squirrel that comes by for bread at 9 am every day, and the lake we have outside our balcony has a bunch of geese and ducks.

Thursday we got the news that we won a 2017 Malibu like we wanted. We are going to go pick it up next week. Elder Guerrero and I switch who drives each day, but as long as we don't move our car fast day I'll be driving it back from Lansing. I'm excited for that. 

Also some bad news. Our investigator who's son died is kind of stuck in the Dominican republic. He only brought enough money to get back and was robbed at gun point and was attacked. From the little we know he is doing well aside from the being stuck part. Our missionary phones wont call out of country so its really hard to impossible to contact him, but Luckily he is with family and should be back in two or so weeks.

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