Address

Elder Eric Johnson
2935 Waterchase Way SW Apt. #308
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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5/31/17 If only every day could be like that day

fam,

We had a small miracle towards the end of our last P-day. We stopped by Erica and her family, the person who called us out of the blue. She has been kind of side stepping us and we've never been able to meet with the whole family because all her older sons work and her husband works like 12 hours a day. We parked outside and the husband Constantino was working on the car.



 We talked with him for a bit and we asked if we could have a few minutes to talk. We talked about what we do and shared the first discussion. The little girls that are crazy in the lessons all played outside and the door was closed. The house was quite and peaceful and the spirit was so strong. Constantino was clearly feeling the same. We had our first peaceful lesson and put them both on date. At the very end right after Constantino said the closing prayer, where he asked if our message was true, the little girls ran in screaming.  Miracle haha. Sadly we stopped by twice for two different lessons with them that we set up and they are always side stepping us and having to leave for "something."

Wednesday was like I wished everyday of missionary work was like. We started the day with a really good district meeting and district lunch at Costco. We then had 5 lessons in a row. It was so good. We started by stopping by this old lady that's in the ward who recently moved. We shared some scripture and we talked about preparing for the temple. She shared this one really long story without giving us gaps to say anything, but the spirit was there so I can't really complain. We then stopped by another investigator and talked about what we expect of her to do. It was an okay lesson, but the thing is she doesn't really think about what we say. Beyond being able to say was we said back to us, the message isn't really touching her. We then stopped by a lady who has been hiding from us for the last three weeks. We finally got in her door and had a good talk. After that lesson we had a lesson with the Aguilar family. We shared the videos "patterns of light" by Elder Bednar. 

Elder Bednar's talk

It's all about receiving personal revelation. After that we went to our last lesson of the day with someone who used to be a member and wants to come back and her husband wants to learn from us. Super awesome lesson and the lady had been away from the church for something like 30 years and has some really bleak health problems. She shared her testimony and told us that a few days ago her brother gave her a priesthood blessing and that she knew the church was true. There is so much more to this story, but it was such a nice moment. If only everyday would be like that day. 

Thursday we had one of my best lessons yet, at least spiritually. We took the bus and walked to German's place. Arrived exactly on time. We walked in and asked him the baptismal questions to very bluntly see where he was spiritually and to specifically outline what he needs to know before he makes this covenant. He was so spiritually edifying. It was so rewarding to see how far we've come together. Once we finished the questions we all knelt down and German in prayer asked for guidance in choosing a date. The spirit was so powerful in his quiet house. He pulled out his phone. Opened his calendar, paused and looked at us and said June 24. Elder Waters and I looked at each other and said "you are going to be baptized on that date." It was so insane. We literally fight so hard for our investigators. 



Yesterday we had a great lesson with the Aguilars. We went though the baptismal questions as well. They are totally ready. They are feeling the effects of leaving behind coffee, but have a good replacement. Hot coco. We also talked about repentance a little bit. One of the baptismal questions asks if they are willing to partake of the sacrament every week and give service to their fellow church members. 90% sure it was a joke, but he asked if they'd be "cast out" if they miss a day. I think he was also slightly sensitive to that topic because they were out of town for the weekend and missed church, but he also was likely jumping off the repentance stuff we were talking about just prior to that question. The principle is God wants us to go to church. Obviously sometimes we can't. Since we got the Aguilars to church they've come without the need of reminders every week, with the exception of one day they were sick and this weekend they were out of town. We knelt in prayer to ask for a date, not a goal but a date to be baptized. We looked at a calendar, and almost picked a date. Natividad almost picked June 24 but something is keeping him from committing. We just need to dig some more. They even said they know its true and they will get baptized. On top of that they said that they talked with their friends about their church over the weekend. They are already missionaries!  



This kind of thing unfolded over a few days, but one day we were knocking on a street that I felt guided to from our morning planning session. We met one guy and talked a bit and set up a lesson because he was going to work. We continued knocking the street because we had about an hour an a half before our first appointment. We got through nearly the whole street that day with no other success. I figured that was the guy we needed to talk to so I wasn't that annoyed. Our lesson came and he wasn't there after we confirmed so we kept knocking the street. We were on our third to last house and we turn the corner and there are 4 Hispanic guys drinking. As we walked up to them one said to another "you talk to them you're bilingual," jokes on him. We talked a little in English but no one even looked at us except the guy who spoke English. We dropped into Spanish and they all turned in their chairs and gave us attention. We asked if they had some time to listen to us and they all agreed. It was weird but we said an opening prayer and everything. We bore witness that we knew what we were teaching is true and that they could as well, as well as a big portion on Christ and repentance. It turned out that one guy had met with missionaries in Texas. We got everyone's contact info and a return appointment with all of them. It was a really interesting experience because normally it's super awkward walking up to a group of people but I was comfortable and we were able to invite the spirit to our lesson. At the end when getting one of the guy's contact info he apologized for drinking in front of us. I love it that the spirit can tell us what is right and what is wrong. There is a scripture in Mosiah 5 it says that "they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." That guy felt the spirit and knew that what he was doing was wrong without us saying anything. 

Repentance is real and powerful. 

If those guys are willing to actually meet with us on the times we set, I foresee a lot of success. The hardest thing is getting people to actually have the first lesson. We will meet people and they'll say all kinds of things but when it comes down to it most people flake. It's all about supporting the members to find those people who are prepared. 

The Lord is blessing our area like crazy. Alma 13:24


THE BOOK OF ALMA
THE SON OF ALMA
CHAPTER 13

  24 For behold, aangels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.


Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017

The view from our apartment in Wyoming
Fam,

We had an odd week.

We spent a bit of time knocking on Tuesday after all our lessons planned fell through... We knocked in a new area because we were a little tired of the area we've been knocking. It was in this nicer area so it was mostly white. We didn't get in a door the whole street and only two people opened to say they weren't interested without giving us a chance to talk. At least it was a nice day.  It was actually slightly warm and I had a white shirt I re-hemmed into a short sleeved shirt so it was decent. On our way back to the car we saw a guy selling door to door. We made eye contact, but he was trying to make a sale, and I could tell we both were debating whether to talk to each other because we both were trying to talk to people (haha). He didn't finish the sale before we passed him and got in our car, he walked over and he was like "Elders?" and turns out the guy's from Richmond up here doing summer sales and served an LDS mission in Cancun, Mexico. He asked if we had a lesson and we had one so we brought him with us, because why not? We talked a little and headed to the lesson. The lesson fell through but it was so funny, I don't think there is another church in the world where you can make friends anywhere in the world so easily. There is a talk by Brad Wilcox about what you get by joining the Church that's pretty good and from my confirmation bias very true. 

report on the talk

We had two really good lessons with the Aguilar family. I think they're finally understanding baptism. It's a covenant with God that you're going to do your best to follow his direction. Baptism isn't something for once you know everything or are perfect. If that were true no one besides Jesus would've been baptized. Our next visit we are going to put them on date and I think they will commit to truly be baptized then. They are super ready. They're basically already dry Mormons, they feed us like once every other week or so and are more active than some of the members. We had a dinner with them this week and shared a really short message. We showed the new restoration video that's like 5 minutes long. It's awesome, I believe I've mentioned it before, if you haven't seen it, it's called something like "Ask of God, Restoration." After the video Natividad and his wife just kind of sat in silence obviously in deep thought. The spirit was so strong and he just looked at us and said "wow." Reflecting on it now we probably could have put them on date then.  Still learning. 

View the video "Ask of God"

That same day was kind of a roller coaster. 

We got shined and canceled a bunched before and had a really crazy lesson with this lady. She asked us a bunch of crazy questions, it was super weird though. She kept asking what seemed like leading questions but turned out to be sincere. At the end she told us other pastors and preachers she has talked with told her that Mormons are evil. I asked her what she thought and she said we "probably weren't" haha "but looks can be deceiving." She also talked about the Illuminati and a bunch of other crazy stuff, including a really cool out of body experience she had that changed her life. 

We had a lesson with an eternigator a few days ago who has met with missionaries for like 7 years. His teaching record is like 7 pages long. We just talked about the Book of Mormon and he had almost no idea what it was. He thought it was about Joseph Smith and a bunch of stuff like that. It is so important for anyone who is learning about the church to have a solid foundation.  Without that you will not learn. The next step is to read. Cover to cover. The Intro, title page, and testimonies of the various people who assisted in translation/transcription or the early restoration of the church helps understand where it came from and why it's important. The stories are good, but the stories are not why we have any of the scriptures. The precepts, principles, ideas conveyed and the spirit you feel as you look and pray to receive an answer are what's important. If everyone truly understood this instead of just knew that, missionary work would be so easy.   

Saturday and Sunday were really good. We got called by a referral we got from some elders and they asked if we could come over asap. We did and got a pretty good long anti session. The whole time I was thinking about the times that the pharisees would ask Jesus questions and the bible would say that they asked tempting Jesus. Elder Waters fell into the various traps and the lesson became really contentious. It's never worth answering truly leading questions. We are here to teach and help, not argue and bible bash. The guy was a jerk and was yelling at us as we left. It's kind of nice at the very least not speaking the same language, because its really easy to ignore the dumb things people yell at us sometimes. I really like the line "but Jesus held his peace" (Mathew 26:63) because reacting to what people do to you is a choice. If you don't give them anything they don't have anything to take.

Bienvenido is still working on his apartment. We had a lesson with him and we went over the story in Mosiah 24. It was a decent lesson. It's kind of fun teaching him because nobody understands what he says and he is this little old man. Halfway through the lesson he quietly just walked off and slowly opened the closet and spent like 5 minutes reaching for something. The Westons came with us and we all just made eye contact because everyone was confused. Turns out he remembered he had some ties to give us. He didn't say anything, he just got up and left and brought us some ties. We thanked him for the ties and continued with the lesson. I can't wait until the next life so I can talk with him and finally understand him and hear the stories I'm sure he has. At the end he kept trying to say Book of Mormon in English, It was really funny.  

some pics as promised :




our pet squirrel who stops by every day around 9am

Monday, May 15, 2017

5/15/17 "Missionary Work Is Good Work"

fam,

What a week, its like it keeps on getting better. Today hits 3 months in the field and I'm past 4 months total. Crazy. Time just flies. 

I know I've been pretty bad at actually sending pics, I'll work on it this week. Probably.

As expected Elder Waters is my new companion. I picked him up from the other apartment in the district last Monday. He's about my height, from Oregon, has almost a year under his belt and is a really good missionary. 

This week we had a few really good lessons. German is doing well. He is on date for baptism for the 27th. I think he can do it. We talked about his testimony and he really has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. He has been having some troubles with "evil presences" that make him feel really bad and scared. We've been working on this, and it's definitely something interesting. We followed up with him on the Word of Wisdom and he hasn't smoked since. He cut that habit cold turkey, the power of the priesthood is real. When we first asked how he's been doing on that commandments he responded by saying "I've been really struggling..(looks down).. I just am really trying to cut back on soda." We may have hit the avoiding unhealthy things a little too hard, the Word of Wisdom is all about staying healthy. When German mentioned he was struggling with soda I could see Elder Waters smiling. I knew exactly what he was thinking. Look up something along the lines of "we invite they commit we follow up - law of chastity German" and you'll see. It's from the district and is pretty funny.

The Agelars are doing well. We aren't quite sure what they need. We had a really awesome lesson planned where this one member family was going to come and share their conversion story and what made them want to be baptized into the church. They canceled! We had a lesson and we just talked about what they need, what they know, and what we can do better to help them out with. It was a good lesson but not half of what it could have been. The language barrier is real. Luckily my Spanglish is real. In that same lesson I learned a new word, eskypiar which means to Skype, spanglish as heck haha.

The last week we had a few weird lessons.

The first one was with one person we've meet with twice. We knocked on his door and there was nothing. We knocked again and he opened the door and said hold on then closed the door and  disappeared for a minute. His son then walked around back and we were invited through the back door and had a lesson in his basement. It was pretty sketchy and we asked him if he had his BoM. He went up stairs to grab it. Elder Waters turned to me and was like "do you always have lessons down here?" For some reason he didn't want us upstairs like normal. Elder Waters asked for my leatherman that was in my bag "in case something [was] about to go down." Nothing happened. We're still alive haha. 

The second was with this lady who just got home from the hospital and was way drugged up. This was off a door knock and her husband didn't want to talk to us but said his wife would. We shared a really good restoration based lesson with her, but she was going out of town the next day for a few weeks so we didn't exactly pick her up as an investigator. That was such a weird lesson. We asked her if she wanted us to come back because she obviously was way out of it on the pain meds she was taking. It was a great lesson. She said she felt something good and peaceful about what we said. 

Last and certainly not least. We knocked into this guy and he opens the door and lunges at Elder Waters who just stood and didn't flinch. The guy had a steak knife and did a fake lunge towards Elder Waters' stomach. He backed off and smiled and we kind of stood in silence for a few seconds. I had my hand on my knife thinking what the heck just happened, what are we going to do, how do you even come back from what just happened. Turns out the guy was really nice, he invited us in and I was pretty hesitant to that, but after discreetly moving my knife to front pocket in hand status we walked in. Bol is from Sudan and is in his twenties and really curious. We mostly talked. We covered so much with him because he had such good questions. After we walked out of his house I kind of realized how awesome missionary work is. It's so fun.   

Almost forgot. Mothers day we got to skype home. When we pulled into the place where we were going to skype Elder Waters and I were talking about out ice cream cravings. After skyping with the fam we walked to the car. I forgot my planner so we walked back in and as we were walking out again one of the family was like "hey do you guys like mint chip icecream?" I was like "who doesn't??" and they gave us a bunch of ice cream. Sometimes God answers the prayers we don't even ask.   

Lastly on our way home that same day I felt like we needed to stop by a member who was struggling and hasn't been to church in a few weeks. It was a near perfect way to end the night. We knocked on his door and I realized we had no idea what we were about to do. Someone else invited us in and he came out we we visited with him. Without going into specifics there's something that is making him feel "unworthy" of going to church. We talked about a really good analogy of an eclipse. The moon is so small compared to the sun, but every once in a while the moon will eclipse the sun. The sun is still there, but this tiny thing has made it seem like the sun is gone. We still have our testimonies and beliefs in what was good, we just let a question, doubt, concern, or fear become so big we loose sight to all the things we no for certain. We then talked about Enos 1 in the Book of Mormon and read a few verses. It was such a nice lesson. We read verse two of Enos and I asked him if he was willing to fight through this. Totally lead by the spirit, it was such a good lesson. He said the closing prayer and it was so sincere and nice.

Missionary work is good work.     

Saturday, May 6, 2017

5/6/17

fam,

We had a few small miracles this week. Well any time someone invites us in on a door knock is a miracle and that happened a few times this week but we had some slightly larger ones. More on those later. 

Elder Guerrero is being transferred out. My training is near over. Our district is a little different. As time progresses, I'm realizing that more and more. We see our whole district almost every day, if not everyday. We had zone P-day Monday and everyone does stuff all together and our Spanish district kind self-segregates. I guess that's a symptom of a few things, part of that being we are the only Spanish elders in the state. Also everyone stays for about a year in this area, typically 5-8 months on each side of the highway, so we all really get to know each other.  

Wednesday was interesting. We kind of offended a ward member. We had just had district lunch after district meeting and we were all in a slight food coma after eating at this really good taco place and this lady calls us and says the food is getting cold and asked where we were. She didn't sign up on the food sheet so we had no idea what she was talking about. Sadly we went over and ate a little bit anyway. The problem was that we didn't eat a normal quantity because we were all already full. She said a few things. We shared a really nice spiritual message that turned into spiritually filled testimony meeting so we left on mostly good terms. People are just too sensitive sometimes.

Later that day I believe we had a lesson with German. During our last lesson with him he talked about giving up cigarettes and how he always feels guilty and down after he smokes them. We gave him a Priesthood blessing and he committed to not smoke again. Our next lesson with him he said he was walking to the store and was checking out and out of habit asked for a pack and an audible voice told him not to, he realized what he was doing and put them back. That was one of the miracles. German is awesome and fun to teach. His lessons really just show me the power of the scriptures. If would just all learn to "feast on the words of Christ" (2nephi 32:3)  we would learn and grow so much more and so much more easily.  

A few of the people we are working with are not doing as well as they used to be. One lady we teach really struggles to retain what we tell her. The weird thing is we will teach her, ask a lot of questions to see what she thinks and comprehends but the next visit it's like she doesn't remember. The Spanish barrier is real. We've been thinking pretty hard about what we can do to help her and praying but we haven't quite figured it out...yet. One of the problems is she has way too many distractions, kids won't sit still, people are always leaving, and she bought baby ducks that free range in her house....which is fun.

The Agelar family (Natividad's family) is doing well. We showed them the restoration video as part of our lesson and the Rosales family was with us. We just talked about the video and receiving answers to prayers and their doubts. It was a really good lesson and the Rosales's shared their testimonies. They want to get baptized, they are sincere, they love church, and the members love them, it's working out pretty well for them. In our lesson with them it came out that a member had invited them to dinner, one invited them to a baptism for one of the youth today, and another member invited them to family home evening. 

The last miracle happened yesterday, but started two days ago. We pass off a lot of referrals because we cover a lot larger area than the English elders, so we teach a lesson and pass them along to the elders that cover that area. Two nights ago we found someone and called the elders for that area and they gave us two referrals from their area that same night. In our morning planning session, we didn't plan on visiting them that day. There where a few reasons for this, the first being that one didn't have a name, second that both didn't have phone numbers, and lastly, referrals that we get from other elders are typically people who don't speak English but have positive reactions when they try to say Jesucristo. We felt like we could/should visit them. The alternative would have been knock high street. Well, turns out there was a shoot out/ murder on the corner of High and Granville at the time we would have been there. So that's fun. I knew our area was kind of rough, but I didn't think it was broad day light murder rough. Spanish people are far nicer than any other group of people though, so we will be fine.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

5/1/17

Last week I left off that we were about to have pupusas, they were great. The members here are always giving us great food, and we are getting fed really well. Based on our branch's small size we get fed by the same people almost every week or ever other week, which I'd imagine is a pretty big burden for some but we are so grateful. We had a lesson on trade offs with one of the recent converts who was talking about the many miracles that have come because of what she does for us. 

I found a true hobby shop near our apartment. We stopped by on P-day and just looked around. Didn't really do much there, but bought some materials to build a blowgun and some darts.

On exchanges we taught a lesson with some of the investigators in the district leader's zone. One of the lessons was with a young couple who are planning on getting baptized pretty soon but are living together out of wedlock. We talked with them on the Word of Wisdom, but about half way through the lesson we started talking about their plans on baptism and living the law of chastity. Turns out they decided on getting married which is super cool.

Natividad and his family are still doing well. We set a new date and committed them to continue reading the scriptures and praying to figure out what they should do. Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting, and a bunch of people shared testimonies on receiving answers to prayers and how much their life has been blessed by the gospel. It's so cool that people are being led by the spirit to share certain things that directly answer the questions of our investigators. 

Last week we had three really powerful lessons with the Agelar family. The Westons were able to come out to two of them, and are such a big help. As of right now my language skills are at the level that I can teach and not a whole lot more. Sustained small talk is really hard, so it's really nice to have the Westons with us because while they help teach they connect really well with everyone. In those three lessons the family expressed that they weren't quite ready to be baptized but are doing what they can to be ready. In those lessons we could see that they were feeling the soft comfort of the spirit as we taught and discussed the things we were talking about, which was super rewarding to see. Jose their son is really opening up to us and stays in the lessons. Aldo is tough though because he just wants to play with his 3 year old brother. The mother-in-law isn't on date, but she is a much tougher nut to crack. She will just leave lessons and not come back.  I'm not sure what's going on there, but we always invite her back. Our branch is kind of awesome. Their family, like I said, came to church and were early and I talked with them for a little bit. They sat down and a few members all swarmed them. This is their third week in a row and the members are so excited. They are being welcomed in so well.

We had two other investigators at church: German, and Tony. German is a boss and like I said last week is really sensitive to the spirit. He was really enjoying church, but I could see he was slightly uncomfortable. There is a good talk by Gordon B Hinckley in which he talks about how new members need three things, one of them being a friend because they need someone they can ask questions and have guidance because Mormons are weird (paraphrasing). This is so true. German has said that he feels slightly out of place because there aren't that many people his age. He is so awesome though and already has a strong Christian foundation of Christ, the power of repentance, the bible, and has even told us that he really believes the Book of Mormon truly is scripture and that Joseph Smith was a prophet called by God. The spirit has testified these things in his heart and he knows they are true, but he just needs to be socially converted. Members are vital to this stage for all people who are looking at our church honestly and openly.

One thing I love about all the scriptures is that one of the most repeated ideas is that we can receive answers from God. James 1:5 is pretty clear and that's what we really try to emphasize with people. Think, ponder, pray. Anyone can receive guidance when they ask for it. We had a lesson with an English speaking women we knocked into, where she told us a story that she was about to be evicted and lost all governmental support and that everything was about to come down on her. She told us that she prayed all night for help and in the morning she opened up the Bible and the verse she opened up to said something about "trust in the lord and he will protect you". The spirit told her and testified to her heart that everything was going to be okay, so she trusted the Lord. She said she sees people struggle and she watches as they turn to everyone else except God, and they really lose out of the support they could have if they humbled themselves and asked. We had a great lesson with her, and it was one of those times when you wish you didn't have to pass her off to the English elders. 

Bienvenido is doing alright. We had a lesson with him on Sunday. We talked about keeping the Sabbath day holy and what that means. We shared the 10 commandments and a scripture in Isaiah that I can't really remember the location. He committed to go to church, but shared how tough it is at home. Apparently he is getting a lot of anti there and doesn't feel like he can do much in that apartment because of that, but also said that he has been sneaking in reading the Book of Mormon when they sleep though. We got some great news though that he might be getting a new apartment at the end of this month so he is going to be much more able to meet with us which will be great. 

Lastly the other elders are teaching an interesting guy we found knocking outside a member's trailer. Jose told us he had a dream where he saw three levels of heaven and saw his wife in the highest one, saw Jesus talking with his wife about him, and was led around by an angel in a white robe. Turns out he had another dream and told the other elders about it. He was talking with an angel in his dream and the angel told him that the Elders were telling him the truth and that it was the true church. Elder Rencher, Waters, and Barrows were pretty excited and then Jose said the Mormon church is the true church, but then he said that there are more than one true church out there. His reasoning was that if there was only one true church there wouldn't be space for everyone. I love that that is his reasoning haha. You meet a bunch of interesting people when you spend time knocking doors and trying to actually talk with them.