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, February 5, 2018

January 29 and February 5, 2018

January 29, 2018

Wednesday was pretty good. We had interviews with President Brennan. I really enjoy interviews, especially if they take us out to lunch. We are the smallest district in the area and the last two times he scheduled us for a time where we could grab lunch before the next district came in, perks of being a Spanish only district with only two companionships. It got exciting when we carpooled to the nearest chick-fil-a We were in President's car following the zone leader's car. Light turns yellow and the ZL's drive through and President totally gunned it through a red to stay behind the zone leader's car. It was pretty funny. Luckily no one was at the intersection but still. He apologized.

Friday we stopped by my very first media referral. Carlos Rodriguez, asked for a Bible and a Book of Mormon. We stopped by and knocked the door and no answer. Knocked again and still nothing. But as we were leaving this old guy yells out to us to come back. We come back and he asks us if we had some time to talk for a minute. That was an obvious yes. It was pretty interesting. He had us open the Bible to Acts chapter 8 and we read 1-23. He then began to scold us about how we didn't have authority to do the things we did. Authority comes from God and we only went to a seminary and got a fancy diploma saying we were priests. He called us phonies. It was pretty funny actually. He wasn't in the mood to listen even though we told him that we were two representatives from the only church that agreed with him. One thing I found interesting is that he said that authority comes from the Holy Ghost. That's where we parted our common ground. Now in the Old Testament, Aaron got his priesthood from Moses by the laying on of hands. In the New, the Apostles got their authority from Jesus, and the Apostles chosen after Christ's ascension received that authority from one who already had that authority from Christ. In the book of Mormon it's the same when Christ came to the Americas (3 Nephi 11). I'm not sure why people think that's changed if they believe authority matters....Even with just a Bible it should be clear that things have not changed or shouldn't have. That is why I'm so grateful that the Fullness of the Gospel was restored through a living prophet bringing back the full power and authority to lead and guide God's church, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is lead by those prophets and apostles. We left the guy with a pamphlet and a return appointment a week later. He has with him a pamphlet explaining how God has not changed and still runs his church "built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (Ephesians 2:20)

Saturday we had a great lesson with Santiago. It was super funny. We had planned to read with him about baptism. We read the baptism of Jesus in the New testament and 2 Nephi 31. It turned out to be really spiritually powerful. As we closed our visit he started talking about his JW pastor friend he also is meeting with. That isn't ideal but I'm not terribly worried. He talked about how he was confused about the differences between all the different churches. He also brought up the things his JW Pastor teaches him that he doesn't like and are just confusing. Santiago was like "Everyone talks about a God of love, but how can that be true if he only will save 144,000 people?? I mean, I'm for sure not one of those! Also why not 150,000?"  Santiago is a lively guy and really is straight forward with everything. He said what we teach just sits with him well and the other pastors really just confuse him and what they say doesn't sit right with him. 

We always go to the Branch leadership meetings and but yesterday they got a bit heated.  They proposed what could be called a "Branch Mission Plan".  The plan is supposed to help us turn the branch into a ward.  There has always been a big problem getting people to church in our branch.  Many people can't drive, and even if they can they don't have a vehicle.  There are some families that drive four cars just to pick up four car loads of people.  The branch presidency proposed that we rent out one of the Catholic cathedrals downtown to hold our meetings so that, we can get more walk-ins, people can bus to the church (which they can already do at the perfectly good LDS chapel we already have), and so that we can be more like all the other churches and have a place to meet downtown.  It did not go over well.  I think they had good intentions, just a bad plan.  The Primary President gave a powerful testimony about how when her family lived in Columbia they had a two and a half hour trek to get to church, and they same journey on the way back.  She spoke of how that had strengthened her testimony and the blessing her family had received from that sacrifice.  She said that the members don't need to sacrifice anywhere near as much, and that they would be greatly blessed for doing so.  They also threw down on the idea that it was impossible for some people to get to church without a car.  Kind of needed because it really is just an excuse.  I loved one thing the Relief Society President said, responding to the idea that we should move downtown just like all the other churches.  "You can't compare us to other churches because we are the only true one." It was a good point. I really just think one of the counselors got antied pretty bad from someone and was a little frazzled. Also side note, a chapel burned down somewhere north of here and they petitioned to build a new chapel and the church said no. Apparently the church won't be building more chapels in Michigan until activity goes up.... crazy.

Having an Elders Quorum president in our branch is SO nice especially when combined with the new format for third hour classes. Last Sunday was on the Sabbath day. It was a pretty fantastic lesson and was actually spiritually satisfying, not a very interesting topic but taught in such a way the spirit was there in abundance. For a portion of the lesson we read Genesis 2:1-3 and discussed why God rested on the 7th day. After all isn't he all powerful? Why would he take a rest? It was a really interesting discussion. 

February 5, 2018

We had another lesson with Carlos Rodriguez. A light refresher from last week was that he tried to anti us with basically the doctrine from our church, interesting. Our lesson was slightly eventful. Friday we got a few inches of snow and it was slightly cold. We knocked on their door and were graciously let in. Our last visit was on the porch. We sat down and were joined by his English speaking wife. We talked for a minute and he seemed pretty excited to see us. Out of no where this tiny Chiwawa charged around the corner and was just ferociously barking and jumping at my feet and ankles trying to bite. Never have I seen a more furious dog in my life. I stuck my boot out to separate me from this demon and it kept jumping at me trying to get around the shoe. In my head I was thinking this wasn't ideal. First off, I'll never let a dog actually bite me and this thing was going for the kill. The wife kindly added that the dogs were nice and never bite but in my head I was thinking how much of a shame it would be if I actually had to kick this dog to stop it from doing the very thing it "never does." Small chew marks where left on the toes of my boots, but it's fine. Once we said a prayer and that dog was carried off things calmed down a little bit. We actually were able to teach a little, emphasis on a little. His understanding of the Bible is actually impressively accurate, some false doctrine but nothing so wild. He misquoted a few things but the doctrine was near correct. He ranted a little about tithing and how churches nowdays are businesses. Impressively he knew and understood the doctrine of what Jesus did during the three days between his death and Resurrection. The understanding of those three days between the death and resurrection comes from like one verse in the Bible, a doctrine clarified by virtue of the restoration, but still impressive. Side note apparently you can buy faith in other churches, that bothered him deeply. It was a good visit but he didn't read, won't let us teach much, kind of antis, so we really can't do much there and I'm sure the bite marks will buff out.

Tuesday was trade off day. I went with Elder Magalei again and it was a decent trade off. We did some good service at meals on wheels and had a few good lessons. Nothing too crazy. When you've been companions with everyone in the district already being someone's companion just feels like an extended trade off. 

Sunday church was canceled. We woke up to 7 inches of new snow which was pretty, but unfortunate. We went through our studies and right as we were almost ready to leave we got the cancellation text. With that much snow our travel times are significantly increased. The Ford fusion preforms so much better in the snow than the Malibu did. All wheel drive is superior in every way to the front wheel drive the Malibu had. 

Wednesday we had a really good lesson with the Sarmientos. Our last visit Daniel said he wasn't ready to ask God whether it was true or not, but he consistently reads and really is fun to teach. We teach something and we obviously do our best but he'll check his understanding by making analogies that teach the same principle that on the spot are better than the stuff we to bring to lessons. It's pretty impressive and really helps our teaching skills. The lesson was really spiritually powerful and I think he now is way better equipped to get an answer from God. In that same lesson his wife, who normally is really quiet and seems to focus more on the care of their two year old, opened up and talked about how she had been reading and asked God and immediately got a really strong answer of the truthfulness of the BoM. We talked about baptism but couldn't set a date quite yet. I suspect they'll be on a solid date pretty soon. 

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