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, September 25, 2017

25 September 2017

fam,

As for missionary work, this week was a little rough. In summary, two sick days + zone conference + a trade off= not a lot of proselyting time.

Monday Elder Magalei was sick so we quickly did our shopping and he slept almost all day. Later that day we had a lesson planned with Mary. It was really good. We talked about the importance of having our own spiritual experiences through Going to church, Praying, and Reading your scriptures (CPR). When we planned for the lesson we felt to put her on a really ambitious baptismal date and mid way through the lesson we extended that invitation and she said yes. We explained a little about what baptism entailed and gave her a warning that Satan doesn't what her to progress and to expect things to come up that will make her progression harder. Mary has been progressing really well. Some things she has told us during our last few visits is that while she has been reading through the Book of Mormon she has completely lost the desire to smoke, an addiction she has had since she was 14. She also has a strong desire to return to being close to God. She says her fear is she wants real change but feels if she slips up and falls back into old habits she would be hypocritical. We emphasized how the spirit has a way of helping us have the strength to really change. I think we set a pretty good foundation of CPR.  

Some one in the branch needed a visit so we got up and out. They needed a blessing and we had a member who is leaving on a mission on Tuesday to japan administer. It was a really sweet experience and the spirit was really strong as we were there. 

Tuesday came around and I woke up really sick and took a day. Elderly couples are literally the best thing ever. We called up the westons and asked them to cover for us. They picked up and had a great time at a Noche de Hogar and an investigator lesson we had planned, allowing us to recover in our apartment all day. 

Wednesday we had a great zone conference. Our zone conference this week was really good. We had Elder Snow from the quorum of the seventy come out on Wednesday. He talked with us on the steps of conversion into the gospel. He came with the reported numbers kept track by the mission and talked about the individual needs of our areas. It was really interesting, but nothing really too crazy or interesting. Towards the end of the conference we got a call from Mary, remember we told her that things tend to pop up when people start to try to change their lives for the better, turns out her family doesn't like us and wants to kick her and her daughter out. It was a pretty sad phone call but we were able to set up something for the next day to talk with her. Come the next day we had a lesson at the church which was just awesome. We have her a tour and ended with hymn in the chapel. She really liked the tour. 

Saturday was Elder Magalei's first real tough day. We had a relatively stacked day and everything canceled mid morning after we planned. We had just visited with everyone we could the day before and met with most of our investigators the day before so we were confined to basically find all day. Elder Magalei picked out a street to hit and we knocked for quite a while. The street was pretty white which typical means a tough crowd, and it was. 

Sunday I spent a good time talking with Natividad. We just talked about his family and church for a few minutes. He brought up that he watched the women's conference that was last Friday and said he really liked it. He also mentioned that the talks were really good, that the organ was massive, and the conference center is gigantic and was completely filled.

LDS Women's Conference 2017

I don't know what we are going to do with him and his wife, but we haven't felt like we can drop them which keeps us in a weird limbo of trying to figure out what each step needs to be. We haven't felt good about asking him and his kids to get baptized without his wife, who isn't progressing anymore. We have been asking the ward members and leaders to visit them without us and talk with them. 

Next Saturday and Sunday is going to be awesome. General conference is a spirit filled weekend that happens every 6 months where we can listen to the prophets, apostles and other leaders of the church and receive their direction.

Hebrews 1:1-2 
Ephesians 4:10-15

Monday, September 18, 2017

9/18/17 New companion, Service Project


1) Elder Magalei and me




2) Fog in our exciting parking lot





3)"skyline" of Grand rapids 




Last P-day in the afternoon we had a small miracle. We felt like we should go visit one of the families in our area so we drove to their home after confirming they were okay with us coming by. The family has some crazy kids and so we offered a prayer that taught me a simple lesson. We simply asked that the kids wouldn't be as rambunctious as they normally are and then walked in. Once we said the opening prayer we had a simple message centered how God is our loving Heavenly Father by using the scripture John 3:16 and what he wants from us in return using the scripture Omni 1:26. Never have the kids been so peaceful. The spirit was so strong in that home that night it was amazing. God really answers prayers. Our prayers shouldn't be designed to change God's will, because first of all they can't, but many times he is just waiting to send us certain blessings on the basis that we ask for them in faith. That lesson was a pretty humbling experience for me because as we walked out and I just felt like why are we not always doing this?

Monday was transfer day and I picked up Elder Waters for the few days we were together. He is also training so we worked in the my area up until Thursday. He has served English speaking for the last two transfers and was able to jump back into Spanish pretty easily.

Tuesday we had one of the more interesting lessons I've ever had with someone new. As we were walking into an appointment he ran up to us and asked who we were and set up an appointment with us. Come Tuesday we knocked on his door and he came out. We talked for a few minutes and asked if we could come in and share a message. He hesitated for a second but invited us in. He had us sit down on this couch and there was this other teenager just passed out on the couch. The guy who invited us in tried to wake him up but was to no avail. We asked if there would be another place we could sit down that might be better but he said no. We talked for a few more minutes and opened with a prayer. The lesson was kind of off and we weren't really getting any participation of any kind. About 10 minutes later we heard this car come to a skidding halt and park in the yard and some yelling coming from outside. The guy we were talking with jumps up and the guy outside is just screaming for the kid we were talking with yelling out threats and other unflattering things. At this point the kid we were with was rightfully acting pretty nervous and without saying anything walks out to this guy. Elder Waters and I kind of look at each other like "what the heck is going on and what can we do." We looked out the window because the yelling continued to make sure this kid wasn't getting beaten up or anything and we saw this bigger guy yelling some stuff at this kid and we hear him mention that cops are on the way. The kid runs back into the house where we are and tries to wake up the kid still passed out on the couch telling him that they have to go right now but to little avail. We asked him if everything was okay. He told us that maybe we should come back another day haha. The car in the yard shoots off and we walked out of the house to our car thinking what in the world is going on. We came back a few days later and he didn't say anything about what happened so it couldn't have been too bad haha. The life of an Elder.

Thursday Elder Waters and I went out to pick up our new companions. That morning we had a significant amount of fog which made the trip a little exciting.  Once we arrived at the Lansing stake center we had a bunch of really good trainings and meetings. President Brennan can be pretty inspiring. Later that evening we had a few lessons set up and my new companion Elder Magalei did really well. We walked into the Aguilars home after spending a fair amount of time prepping together for this lesson and once we said the prayer our whole lesson plan didn't feel right so we tossed it and did something completely different. I was really impressed that day one of in field Spanish he was able to completely pivot and turn on basically no notice. We had a really good lesson on faith and shared a few scriptures out of Alma 32 and a scripture in Joshua 4 I think. We've only spoken Spanish together which has been pretty good.

Saturday was the first day I really wished I had my camera. There was a stake service project up in Big Rapids that we got a ride up to. We did a trail clean up and it was really beautiful. We were planning on going with the youth and the leaders, so at 5am we arrived at the Young men's leader's house. We jumped in his van and went to the three homes of the youth in the branch and no one was awake to go, so we returned to his house and had breakfast and then he loaded up his own family and we went up. Big Rapids is about an hour away and we had two really good conversations, up and down, on the needs of the branch and the need for greater member support in the missionary work. We've had pretty poor support from the branch and it's really hard to get things moving. We listened to two really good talks this week about missionary work, the first is called "every member a bird doggier" and I can't remember the other one. Basically nothing works if the ward or branch doesn't support the missionary work.

Once we arrived at the service project we were immediately given gloves and a Mormon helping hands vest and thrown into the back of a pick up truck and dropped off about a mile away. There we removed brush and picked up a bunch of trash. We were right next to a really beautiful river bend and we spent a little bit of time watching the geese fly in and make their landing approaches to the river, it was quite and peaceful.

-Eric

9/9/17 Training a new missionary

fam,

Estoy embarasado con un hijo! (missionary play-on-language-lingo saying that he's going to be a trainer)

Well I'm going to train these next two transfers. That will be fun and a definite growing opportunity. I'll be serving with Elder Waters again for about 2.5 days before we drive down on Thursday to Lansing to pick up our new companions.

Two of the people we picked up on the long day of street contacting seem really promising.

To preface, missionaries have a rule that says we aren't allowed to be in the same room alone with someone of the opposite gender. This week we slightly got wrecked on that rule, so we taught a fair number of people outside.

The first was Paty. She came up to us on the street from behind and asked us who we were. We told her we were the missionaries from the church and talked with her for a while. We talked about modern day prophets and the other awesome things we share with people and set up a return appointment. Our first lesson with her was less than ideal. We pulled up outside her house and it was just pouring down and like 50-60 degrees. She didn't have a man home and was really sick. She still really wanted to meet with us, so we met on her porch outside. It was cold and rainy and we shared the first vision and BoM pretty quickly and she looked like death. Aside from the less than ideal conditions she asked some good questions and we set up a return appointment.

The other was Gabby. Her lesson was mostly in English, but she also didn't have a man home so we met outside. Luckily it wasn't raining. In Michigan in some of the poorer areas, the homes are often split up into multiple apartments so that like +4 families live in these small-medium sized homes. She lives on an upper level apartment of one of the same style homes and there was a pretty sketchy walk way going up to the door. We sat on three chairs on this sketchy landing and shared the message of the restoration. It's always awesome that the spirit accompanies us at each of our visits that we have with sincere people. Depending on the lesson I always try to ask why people invite us back or allow us to come over and this lesson was one of those lessons. She told us as we walked up to her and talked with her that she felt something and figured it was a sign. She then explained to us the stuff she has been going through and she felt she needed to straighten things out. It was super cool she shared that with us.

The other new person we picked up we had two lessons with in the last few days. Her name is Mary and also mostly speaks English. We might be passing her off which is unfortunate. Her family doesn't want to meet with us but she really does. Our first lesson was outside on the grass and it went really well. We committed her to pray about what we talked about and read the introduction. We came back like two days later and had a really, really good lesson. We had to re-cover most of the Restoration lesson because she didn't really grasp everything but at the end she really understood. We read a few things in the Book of Mormon to answer her question on "why do bad things happen to good people." At the end we covered why the BoM is so important. The last paragraph of the Introduction to the BoM explains this, it basically says that if the book of Mormon is true then the Church is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet and we have living day prophets. We asked her to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon is true. She did and paused for a moment after she asked in her prayer. She told us she felt joy and a warmth as she asked the question. We explained the spirit again and reconfirmed the commitments we left with her. We will know what happens with her most likely this Monday. Monday we will have a lesson at the Weston's house with the other elders that cover that area speaking English and she will hopefully decide then. Fingers crossed. Also during that lesson her three year old daughter was outside with us and was trying to destroy the lesson. She was throwing rocks but we were able to divert her attention to building a rock structure to keep her mom attentive and the kid from distracting the lesson, it turned out really well on all fronts.

We actually got a member referral on Thursday so we immediately went to go find this person. We got super vague explanations on which house it was and were told not to use their name which was a little sketchy. We walk up to this door and knock and this tall black guy who doesn't speak any English slowly opens the door and softly says "come" in a thick accent. At that point it was pretty clear we were at the wrong house, but we went in anyway. He tells us to sit and points at a couch and disappears. We sat for a moment in silence and he comes back out with his son. The guy tells his son something and then the son translates in broken English and asks us if we were there to teach them about the bible. We said yes and also mentioned the BoM. The Dad said something to his son, who then said "what day do you pray." Turns out they wanted to know when we go to church and we told them Sunday. They all sighed and looked down. Turns out they were Adventist, but they still invited us to come back today. So we will hopefully have a lesson with this family from Rwandan who speak basically no English. It's going to be super fun. We have the 20 minute restoration video that has a bunch of different languages including french which was their second language. Haha that will be fun.

Also the weather is already slightly chilly, we've been in the 60s with mornings in the 40s. I anticipate a fairly cold winter which will be nice to a certain extent.

Monday, September 4, 2017

September 4, 2017

fam,

I think we turned the tide on the Aguilars. It didn't feel right to extend a baptismal invitation but we had a really really good lesson. One thing that is hard to do but so worth it is to have lessons in members homes with investigators. 




Members homes often have a really good spirit about them that helps our lessons. We need as much help as we can get. We invited the Aguilars to the Westons home and watched the 20 minute restoration video and read some really good scriptures. The spirit was really strong as we read through some of the parts we did. We focused on repentance and receiving answers to our questions. Part of the lesson we read through 2 Nephi 26:23-30. 

23 For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
24 He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
26 Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.
28 Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.
29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfareof Zion.
30 Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish.

For the first time in a little time I think something actually touched Gilda during the lesson. After we shared our testimonies on Jesus Christ and the gift of repentance we offered a kneeling prayer where we invited Natividad to offer the prayer and to ask if the BoM is true. As we knelt and Natividad offered an amazingly sincere prayer you could just feel the love of the savior as he humbly asked. In church the next Sunday Gilda had Natividad bring Leo to Primary which seemed like an attempt to remove distractions from church time. Leo who is 5 would normally stay with his mom.  

On Tuesday we had a really funny lesson with a member. We are teaching her sister and we visited with her so that we could tell her what we wanted to do with the lesson later that week so that she would be ready. After we covered what we planned for that later lesson we read through the Joseph Smith Testimony that is right before where the BoM actually starts. About mid way through she stops and kind of solemnly say "Elders I have a question." She then unfolds this huge story about how when she was living in one place and then just completely leaves all of her possessions because she was bored. She said she loaded some things she liked into her car and drove to another city leaving a house and a car to see if she would like the new city. She left everything because obviously if she didn't like it she could just come back. About a month later she decided her old home was too far away so didn't bother with anything there. Fast forward another few years the same thing happened again and she just picked up a few things and moves to Michigan. She told us nothing has ever happened to her and it's been like 50 years and she is a little embarrassed and a little scared to go back and see what has happened to the two houses she left. Some people ha ha. With a chuckle she asked if she was right with God. We told her we didn't have any authority to say anything on that and directed her to the branch president. 

In our zone conference last week we heard that Elder Snow of the quorum of the Seventy is coming to our mission for a few days which will be fun. President Brennan has been getting us really ready. As assignment we have been told to do a good amount of things in preparation including listening to each talk he has given at the various General Conferences he has spoken at.

 We also had a really good Family home evening a returning less active family that just moved to our side. The Westons were with us and we had a pretty good lesson. 



At the end we were eating some arroz con leche and we were talking with the wife about their goals. She mentioned she wanted to get sealed to her husband who is also returning less active, so hopefully we can jump start this goal with them! The only problem is that they have a kid and both work and their work schedule like so many Hispanics here which is that one parent watches the kids until the other gets out of work and the other goes in and they switch. We'll make it work.



We had a lot of success street contacting this week. Our area has like one consistently Spanish populated area and we spent like 5 hours walking around and talking with people. We picked up more people in one day with return appointments than anything I've done before. Hopefully something comes out of all that work. Street contacting is better in every way than door knocking, but there isn't a whole lot in this area where we can actually do that well. The only true good way to contact is through the members.

August 28, 2017

fam,

This week was pretty good. Missionary work in our area slightly got wrecked due to us having trade-offs with the other Elders and a multi-zone conference at the end of the week.

Zone conference was interesting. We had missionaries coming in from the Kalamazoo zone as well as the Lansing zone. The mission isn't reimbursing miles for zone conferences so they kind of got wrecked pretty hard. 



Overall it was a really good conference, we were able to participate in a bunch of really good training by various mission leaders. The one that impacted me the most was when the zones split off and were trained by the our Zone and Sister training leaders. We talked about when Peter walks on water, which interestingly only shows up in one of the gospels. 



The leaders took it another way but what really hit me and what I spent the whole time thinking about was the effect of Peters focus on that story. Jesus asked Peter to come to him and that's what Peter did. He had the faith to act and because of that he literally walked on water as it says, "to come to Jesus." When we focus our lives on that process of coming to Christ we can do those things that we assumed we couldn't, we just have to have that faith to start. It wasn't until he looked away from Christ and noticed everything going on around him that he sank but the second he called out for help Jesus immediately grabbed him. That last part reminds me of a really good scripture in 3 Nephi 10:4-6 

Tuesday we had a really good trade off. I went with Elder Barrows. We had two lessons that day. The first one was with a contact they made which fell through. Sadly they didn't open the door. It's no fun when you know they are hiding inside. It's not like we bite or anything. After that we actually had a pretty good time knocking. It's always super awkward when you walk up to the door and the person pulls out of their house in their car, but when it happened we were able to flip it around. This lady called out to us saying that was her house and that she was leaving. We ran over and asked if we could give her our card. That's an easy way to get a conversation going because you just take a good moment to write your info on the card and your companion can start talking with the whoever you are with. We shared something small with her and got a return appointment.




 Later that day we had another lesson. We had planned to visit with this lady and drop her due to lack of progression. We walked in with the Westons and started talking with her. Elder Barrows and I both felt like the lesson we planned was not what we were supposed to do. So while Elder Weston talked with the lady about either Bees (avejas) or Sheep (ovejas), both sound very similar in Spanish, we found a chapter and then began to read with her. I really had no idea what we were going to do after we were done reading. We picked a chapter to read with her and without knowing exactly what we were doing just kept going with it. We would pause and talk a little about particular verses but nothing really focused on a specific point we wanted to cover. We were coming to the end of the chapter and the whole time I was just praying for some kind of guidance to steer the lesson in. God answers prayers and in the last verse of the chapter the testimony I have in that principle was reconfirmed and strengthened. I was still way nervous but in that moment I felt like I needed to ask a question about faith. After that we really had a good lesson.

I'm not really sure what we are going to do with the Aguilars. We had our best lesson ever with them. We watched a video from what I think is called the "Because of Him" series. It's a series of videos the church put out about Jesus that are pretty good. We talked about Jesus Christ and bore testimony on the power of repentance and the spirit there was just so strong. It was really awesome and in my testimony I learned something really interesting. As I was sharing my thoughts the idea came to mind and I shared that we get answers to our prayers in the same degree we plan on acting on them. There are other factors but that's what I shared in that moment. Natividad and Aldo are ready. They have testimonies of what we've shown them and are doing what they should such as reading and studying the scriptures daily, the problem is if Gilda won't. I doubt Natividad will take any more steps without the companionship of his family in everything that follows. If we can't put them on a date, I'm not sure what we are supposed to do with them. It's evident that Gilda is holding something back but we haven't been able to find what's going on, and if she won't share we can't help.

Omni 1:26