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, July 24, 2017

24 July 2017


Monday we cooked again with the Aguilars. I'm not sure I'll be able to replicate what we did, but we made dessert empanadas which were really good. We basically feasted. 

As a family, the Aguilars are still progressing. Natividad is really where he needs to be and has progressed a lot, but as a family we think they lack a strong foundation on Christ. They still read as a family and know and have a strong foundation in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith being a prophet. What they need is a stronger foundation of Jesus Christ and everything he did but more importantly why it's important. Anyone can say Christ died for us, but once that sinks in you won't change all that much, commandments stay rules and testimonies don't really grow.

We had an unfortunate lesson with Enrique. He is slipping back into what his progress record has shown for the past five years. He says he wants to change but won't do the last few things we asked him to do to help him in that process, so not a whole lot we can do. Everything about receiving a testimony in the gospel is by experimentation. To know if the Book of Mormon is true you have to read it with an open heart and pray about it. God will not force anyone one way or another.

On that point we had an interesting lesson with the two people who speak English we've taught a few times. We haven't felt like we could pass them off like we normally do because they are just not at that point. Chris and Caryn have been really fun to teach because they come with hard earnest questions. That's starting to change though which is really unfortunate. We had two lessons with them over the last few days and Caryn just picks things apart. Her idea is to compare everything with the Bible, which isn't bad but the ultimate test of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is not if it lines perfectly with everything in the Bible and contains nothing new. The spiritual witness from the Holy Ghost is the key to everything. Our first lesson this week was really good. We covered the importance of the Book of Mormon and answered all of her questions, the spirit was there and we were able to have a good time. She said she will do some research on the Book of Mormon so obviously I told her there is a ton of anti material out there and most is flat out wrong and the rest is twisted half truths. I read the line in the Joseph Smith history that says that Joseph's name will be known for good and evil around the world and also told them to read the first chapter of Nephi. 

We came back a few days later and they said they read alot. Interestingly there was a visible difference between their two countenances. Chris was reading the Book of Mormon on the porch as we pulled up and almost looked like he was glowing. He looked way better than the day before and Caryn just looked angry. I didn't think much and we started talking about how they were doing. After they prayer we asked them what they read. Chris said he read the whole book of Moroni, I thought that was funny and asked why. He said that our last visit we answered the majority of their questions from various chapters of that book so he figured it was important so he read it all and really liked it. Caryn said she read all of First and Second Nephi and said there was good bits of advice about Joseph Smith in there and that she had some concerns about some of the incorrect things she found. In my head I though, "Oh so you didn't read..." The Book of Mormon is not about Joseph Smith, and anyone who reads the first line would know that. I didn't call her on it though. We talked with Chris first and he talked about how everything he read so far is really good. He thoroughly outlined what he learned and said that nothing struck him as wonky. He said that Moroni 8 actually confirmed a lot of things he has thought about and that he thinks the Book of Mormon is true. He pulled out a few bible scriptures that he liked that affirmed a few points he liked. We moved to Caryn and asked her which points she didn't like. She opened up her phone and read out of an anti website. "The Book of Mormon teaches xyz while the bible very clearly teaches abc" kind of stuff. So we opened to each individual verse she was "worried about" and oh my gosh anti material is so dumb. We just went verse by verse. She wanted to so we let her. Every single point she brought up we answered with scripture and testimony. We were able to for the most part keep contention out of it, but she was really pushing so it wasn't super easy. She then asked us about the necessity for baptism and tried to catch us in a lie. I didn't want to but the spirit said to so I did and mentioned baptism for the dead and how there is a way for everyone to accept that ordinance in the next life, this was the only contentious part of the whole lesson. She pointed at me and in an elevated voice said, "okay that is not scripturally based." Not going to lie I sighed a bit. The killer point is that it's not mentioned in the Book of Mormon but it is in the Bible. We opened up to the verses in Corinthians and First or Second Peter and read them together. 

The Bible is a great book of scripture, don't get me wrong, but the spirit is far more important than anything. The spirit has all truth and through him we can know that truth. We told them we can answer all their questions with scripture but it's through the spirit that we really know what the truth is. Chris understands and has done what we asked. I turned to him in the lesson and asked him what he thought and he thinks the Book of Mormon is true but that he wants to know more about the prophecies of Joseph Smith. It took me a minute but I pulled out one from the Doctrine and Covenants that I knew. I also told him my testimony is not in the prophecies of Joseph Smith but by the spirit I feel when I read the Book of Mormon and other books of scripture. I worry for Chris. He won't progress if his wife won't let him. There is a big gap between their spiritual progression and that is a hard ravine to cross. 

Also interestingly if Caryn actually read like she said she did, Chris added something important to the lesson. He said, "together they are Readers Digest." He explained that by saying she can read a whole book in a day and he goes slow and ponders things. If Caryn told the truth it's important to notice that just reading the Book of Mormon isn't sufficient. Moroni 10:3-5 says we need to read ponder and pray. Key terms being ponder.

I spent more time on that than I should have and am near out of time. They have one lesson for us to turn Caryn around. We will see what happens.

We had a crazy powerful church tour with Carmen. Like my most powerful lesson possibly. Pathways was going on and I was worried that was going to mess the tour up but it was better this way. She met a few people and got an in-depth explanation of the program and how awesome it is. We then finished with the Bible video of Jesus' baptism. It was awesome. We talked about baptism and bear testimony and we asked her if she thought this was the path God wanted for her and she said yes. It was a powerful moment and we put her on date. I think she will actually make it. We had a good lesson on the Word of Wisdom and she said she is coming to church. In our WoW lesson in her closing prayer she said she knew the Church and the Book of Mormon was true. Hopefully everything lines up like it seems to be. 

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