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.

Monday, August 21, 2017

8/21/17

Fam, 

Life is good mid transfer. Last P-day we got an email from a former missionary in our zone who just got home and is now married. It only took him 21 days after returning which is a little insane. The previous transfer we heard of someone engaged after 4 weeks and I thought that was fast haha. 

This week we did a lot of finding work. We knocked and visited many former investigators. It's always a huge testimony builder when we prayerfully pick out a few names and visit them. This last week we caught about 70% or so of the people we chose as they were walking into their homes. That is such a huge blessing because no one likes people knocking on their doors and people are far more open when we just talk with them on the street. People get the false idea we are trying to sell them things when we are on their door step. Also we look like the migra (immigration) which is really unfortunate. 

We had two exceptional lessons this week. 

The first was with Pedro again. We had a lesson where were going to talk about the importance of the BoM and the bible. Normally he doesn't open up very much but this time he did. He expressed some confusion over why we need the BoM. He said from what he has read that it teaches basically the same stuff as the Bible, which it does. There is a really good quote I wish we used and knew about when we walked into that lesson. 



President Ezra T Benson said "It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called “the words of life” (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance." 

Most of our lesson was just testimony of the Book of Mormon and it was awesome. Hopefully that was what Pedro needed to start progressing. Quietly at the end he told us that he needed to start reading and praying more. 

The Book of Mormon is a powerful book of scripture that has made me who I am and is continually helping me become a better person. I know its true because I've read it and have felt the confirmation of the spirit of its truthfulness. There is no other way to gain that witness than by reading the message it contains and asking if it really is true with a willingness to make the necessary changes to live in accordance to its principles. 

The other lesson was with the Aguilar family. The last few lessons we've focused a lot on understanding the spirit and recognizing it. We've given them little booklets to write little experiences they've had. Gilda had to leave to pick up their son from work, but Natividad had a few stories to share. He talked about the peace he felt as he read through the BoM at work during his lunch break, he also mentioned that he felt something nice as he was praying about his family the night before. Natividad is definitely ready to be baptized but his wife isn't quite ready to take that step quite yet. She has only said she hasn't felt like she has received a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the BoM. I'm not certain but I think she is just holding something back. Progress is slower but hopefully something changes soon. 

We had interviews with the President this week. It was really good. We had quite a bit of time compared with the few I had with the previous Pres. We just talked about how I've been doing for almost 30 minute, it was pretty nice. With Elder Barrows leaving it's going to be interesting to see what happens to our district. Apparently there were two elders coming in next transfer, which would have meant Elder Rencher and I would train, but sadly one went home from the CCM. Elder Guerrero is coming up on his year mark so he is the closet to leave. Also he has trained before (me). Elder Rencher trained Elder Barrows, which leaves me being the only one who hasn't trained yet. We'll know what happens in about 2 weeks. The new elder is Elder Magalei from Utah and he is Polynesian. I'm not sure which MTC he is in.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 14, 2017

fam,

It's the worst when people you teach disappear without explanation. Carmen won't call us or pick up our phone calls and we've stopped by a billion times. So she is either dead as an investigator or dead dead. Either option isn't all that great, but the lack of information kind of sucks. Oh well. 

Chris and Caryn have been dropped as well. We taught the plan of salvation and it didn't go so well. Interestingly the first few minutes were really spiritual and about midway through the lesson Caryn started to throw down. Caryn's Pentecostal side started to come out and she started to get loud and finger pointy and it drove away the warm comfort that came with the spirit as we talked and bore testimony about the simple doctrines. Chris was quiet and I think he could feel the difference. She kind of devolved and started pulling up a bunch of nonsense. At first we were contesting a few of the points she brought up, but then she started making some bogus accusations and mis-quoting scripture. She made a few points that I had actually studied that morning and was totally ready to throw down on. She kept going and going and admittedly I was just waiting for a moment to push myself in. As I was sitting there, scriptures in hand, just waiting for that moment a thought came to mind which said "I know you can, but don't, just sit quietly." Thought ignored, I was still pulling out scripture just ready, completely ignoring that obviously I shouldn't bash back and two she wasn't in a position where she would be willing to be proven wrong and make an actual change. The thought came back and Elder Rencher looked at me and shook his head knowing what I was feeling. So we sat quietly. That was unfortunate. Some real mean things were said that day to us. We said a quiet prayer, apologized for any offense we may have caused and left and drove to our next appointment in silence. They were so close to opening up. We tried so hard.

On trade offs this week I had an amazing lesson that taught me an important lesson. It was with a man who had left the church 15 or so years back. We basically just talked with him to see what his story was. He was baptized and was really faithful for many years. He did a lot of member missionary work, later serving in various callings including a counselor to the branch president. After a few years he said he just missed a week of church. 


No one said anything to him and that week turned into two weeks. According to him he was still reading his scriptures and living all the commandments, he just missed church. Still no one seemed to wonder where he went so two weeks turned into three, four, five and eventually turned into years. No one reached out to him, no one said anything. He slowly drifted away from the standards of the church, later starting to drink and smoke. The same happened with his wife. He told us a few really cool stories about what brought him back to church. He said he knew the church was true; he just didn't feel like he had to go to church or that anyone really missed him. Eleven years after he took up smoking he was driving in the car with his son. He said his son told him to stop smoking because it was going to kill him, but he contested and said he would be fine. He started to open a pack and had a cigarette in his mouth and as he said, a literal voice other than his own or his son's told him sternly "This is your last, you will not smoke ever again." He rolled the window down and tossed it out and told himself, "I will never smoke again." He drove home more than a little stunned. At another time, he was going through his house looking for something he had lost and stumbled upon a pack and with out thinking habitually put it in his mouth and was about to light it when the voice came back, this time telling him "If you smoke this cigarette you will never leave this habit." Stunned, he pulled the cigarette out of his mouth and purged his house of all things tobacco related. He said to us "Smokers always say that the first few days are like going through hell, but Elders, I was in complete peace." In one day he stopped smoking with no side effects. A few days later he showed up to our branch. His story reminds me of a story in the Book of Mormon found in Alma 47. Read it because due to lack of time I can't write a good enough explanation. Anyway Lehonti is "poisoned by degrees" and dies leaving the evil guy he put in second in command whom he thought he was in charge of and in control of, but in reality he didn't and he died likely thinking he was still control. Poisoned by degrees is the interesting phrase. If you get a lethal dose of poison you're going to know something is up, the kicker is if it's slow, like really slow you don't see the consequences immediately. The same is with the gospel. God knows us perfectly and loves us and commandments are not made to make us like puppets where God just wants to see what he can make us do, they're here to help and protect us. The guy we talked with fell away from the church through small decisions and his children never really got taught the gospel.  They are basically adults now and are completely uninterested in the gospel. It's amazing that he is back. It's even a miracle. But if he had avoided those little decisions that slowly took his family and himself away from the church he could have been through the temple and received the many blessings found there with his whole family. Also home teaching could have completely stopped that all. Home teaching is also SO important holy cow. That's another letter in itself. That lesson was awesome though. He just bore his testimony for like 40 minutes and it was epic. 

Other points from the week 

Elder Barrows got his Brazilian VISA! He leaves on the 4th!!!


I made two ties this week that turned out awesomely, more on the way.

August 7, 2017

fam,

Long week. The first week of the transfer is always so long. We also had like no food because the P-day to P-day was super long and the proximity to the end of the month meant we didn't have a bunch of money. We had a lot of burgers this week...

The last two Sundays were really good. The first we had the Aguilars as usual but also Carmen. Carmen had a really good time from what it looked like. She has two young kids who came to Primary with Elder Rencher and me and they really enjoyed the songs and everything that goes on. Carmen had to leave for work during the third hour and they came out of Primary with huge smiles on their faces. 


In the following lessons we talked about their Primary experiences a little and that really sat well with Carmen. A lot of her motivation is to help her kids be better than she was/is. Once you know why someone needs something or what they need, teaching becomes so much easier. The Gospel is for everyone but can be hard to apply in your life if you don't have something pulling you to it. Christ said it best, "they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance." 


This week we did a fair amount of work with former investigators. It was great. We had two days in a row where we prayerfully picked people out to go visit from the old records and we caught nearly all of them as they were walking into their homes. Most weren't really interested in us coming back but one let us come back a few days later. The guy is a non-practicing Pentecostal and we talked about our message. He had a really good memory because he met with missionaries like two years ago. They had three lessons and he remembered the one chapter they left with him to read. He talked about why he didn't believe our message and by the end of our little visit he left it with "I like the Bible a lot and won't read the BoM." He didn't want us to come back which was unfortunate but even though he wasn't willing to try we left on good terms. I left him something to read in Mathew 21 to read which has a great parable about God sending servants to work in the vineyard and something else in the Book of Mormon. We left with a prayer and as we got in the car Elder Rencher saw through the door the guy opening up the BoM and starting to read. That's great but also unfortunate because I would want to come back and follow up on what he did but he asked us not to come back. Not everyone will accept our message, but not very many people accepted Christ when he taught.

Two highlights of the week 

The first was our lesson with Chris and Caryn. They were out of town for a little bit so we weren't able to pass them off like we planned. I don't like holding on the English people because they get attached and it makes the transition to the English Elders much harder. We planned to finally pass the first lesson with them, but they haven't had a solid enough foundation for us to feel like we could move on. We had a warm welcome as usual and after talking for a bit opened in prayer. Chris said something that sounded like he may have read all the way up to Third Nephi but I didn't notice at first and I failed in following up to make sure. He probably just read the first few chapters of Third Nephi, but still that's awesome. He kind of got off on a tangent on the whole day and a half of light prophesy coming true and then the new star in the sky at Christ's birth and at first it was hard to tell if he was bringing this up as some attempt to prove the BoM false but it turned out that he really really liked it. He kind of geeked out about that for a few minutes. That was funny. Caryn had some questions about that, mostly because she didn't read. Her questions were good and sincere for the most part in the first half of the lesson. We planned on going through the plan of salvation but with no time left, mostly because we had very little time to begin with, we decided to share something short. We read through the first 5 verses of Moroni chapter 10 and covered that again. We bore testimony on the BoM again and Chris and Caryn seemed touched by what we said.  That warm good feeling that always comes with the spirit was there and I could tell Caryn was feeling the same thing as we shared how the BoM has affected our lives. After that there was a little silence and Caryn was clearly thinking, but in a different way than before when she was contesting the points of doctrine we taught them. She asked us if she could ask us two questions. We told her we really had to run but we would love to hear them anyway and give answers when we would come back. She asked us, "Why do I need the BoM if I'm already saved?" and "Why do you need to teach me the plan of salvation if I've already come to Jesus Christ and been saved?" Two really good questions. The spirit has been working really hard with her the last few days and she has a whole new demeanor. It's been really interesting to watch her the last few visits we've been with her. I really hope she allows the spirit to continue to work with her and that she really starts to progress. They have been such a great example to me in the importance of the spirit. Caryn tried to pull the Bible on us to prove us wrong but couldn't, which for the most part only means we've done our homework. You can make an appeal from the Bible that nearly every church is correct and all the others are false, but with the spirit you can't do the same. The spirit testifies of truth and is the single most important factor in conversion. 

The other Elders also had a baptism this week! This kid named Diego had a great service yesterday. I played the piano as usual. We came extra early to practice for the special musical number I was going to play and Elder Barrows was going to sing and one of the English sisters was going to sing as well. They sang a duet of A child's prayer in Spanish, it came out so well. We also had great speakers and like 50 people show up, many of whom weren't members. We started about 40 minutes late and I started the prelude 30 minutes before it was supposed to start. Mistakes were made. (editorial note: sounds like Pres. Monson). The piano seat was really hard and after an hour of prelude I was dying, not to mention the hour and a half of practice we had before that.