Unemployed in China. Can the Priesthood Help You Get a Job?? How we coped.

Updated: Jul 27

2014 年 5 月 11 日

May 11, 2014. Sunday. 9:15 am.


Today is District Conference in Chengdu, China on Sunday. We already had our Saturday meetings here at the Weaver’s home. We arrived in Chengdu on Friday and went to our hotel first and spent the night there, and after breakfast checked out and came over to our friends, the Weavers.



Doug Weaver is the District President of the CCIDD, and his wife Melisa is the best! She is the most hospitable woman and we really do love her. She has been so helpful and kind and so has her husband. We feel so welcome here at their home. Elder and Sister Gong were also there, presiding at and leading the district conference (a district that included all of mainland China not in Shanghai or Beijing). There I am, in the back, the tall one, and unemployed in China at the time (a scary proposition to say the least, I needed a miracle).


That afternoon, the District President Doug Weaver and another brother did give me a priesthood blessing about my lack of employment, to help me get gainful employment. It was three months before that materialized, but it did come. In a grand way.

(more on this later)


from left to right: ??, ?? , Adam, Sis. Gong, ??, Elder Gong, Jaylene, Audrey, Christa, Grant, Emily, Pres. and Sis. Weaver.


This weekend is special. Audrey is going to speak today, and she is prepared and will also sing a little song “My Life is a Gift” after her talk, or as part of her talk. But this weekend is also very special because of our having a General Authority here, and his wife, Elder and Sister Gong. They came to the house Saturday afternoon a couple of hours before the 3:30 Priesthood Leadership Meeting they held for all presidencies, but I was also invited to attend because I happened to also be there in the house, and so that was really nice of President Weaver to extend that invitation to me, because I truly needed it and benefitted from the spiritual experience and the things that Elder Gong shared.


There was a story that Elder Gong shared in this Saturday meeting that related to my situation of needing a miracle to find a job. The story he shared was about miracles and the priesthood, and he shared it most soberly and by the Spirit, and I received it by the Spirit that it was given. I was literally hanging on the edge of my emotions as I listened intently, carefully, and soaked it in, letting my faith grow from it. Here is the story, a true story.


A leader of Young Men had taken his young men out on an activity to the special place in Hawaii where a lava rock formation formed a hole where water would spout or erupt out of it as each wave came in and the water channelized and created a spectacular display. The boys were told not to go near it, because it was dangerous, and everyone who had ever previously fallen into this or swam in it had not survived. The water takes you out too far and you eventually drown. One boy fell in. Another boy thinking he could rescue him jumped in after him to save him. The priesthood leader was extremely worried and distraught because he knew the history of what happens when people get in these waters. To his amazement, a third young man who had a life-saving merit badge etc. also jumped in thinking that he had to save them, and could help.


The YM leader called out to God, and said “God I will do anything, only help me know what to do to save these boys.”


And the man felt impressed to raise his right hand to the square and command the waters to be still… and the waters did cease to be in turmoil. The young men were in still waters now. Then all of a sudden two waves formed which formed a V that brought the boys into a funnel like motion and it pushed them all towards the shore line, and the rocks, and the YM leader knew that he had to go down there and rescue them. He did and caught each one as they came in, and helped them to safety.


Each of the three were helped up. But the boys had their clothes and wallets with money earned from a summer’s work on the shore. But the YM leader felt the strong impression to leave it and get up to safer heights immediately. The boys complained that they would lose all their money. But the YM leader felt even stronger that they must move immediately. Right after that a large wave came up and completely submerged the clothes and money and sucked it all back out into the ocean, and that’s what would have happened to them if they had stayed. The power of the Priesthood. The story is called “One Afternoon on Maui”a New Era story (Elder Gong just told me that as he sits here also on the couch just before our Sunday meeting will start.)


After Elder Gong had shared this story, he also related it to the power that the Priesthood has, to do anything, including getting a job (which he actually said and turned towards me for brief second), and that’s when it hit me. I need that kind of faith to get this job. I need not doubt. If an ordinary man can calm an ocean by the power of the Priesthood, if that’s what he is impressed to do, then I can do more to get the job I need to stay here in China and continue this work that my family and I are currently involved in doing.


Moroni 7

And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.


The second story that Elder Gong shared that had to do with miracles, was in the evening session, in which all of our kids were privileged to attend. It was about Nephi preparing just ONE single arrow, and then asking his father where to go look for food. ONE arrow, that was his faith. I thought of my attempts to get a job at Ford in China, and thought then of my ONE arrow and how I have one shot to get this right, but with faith, I won’t miss. The symbolism is tremendously awesome.

HSR or High Speed Rail in China had tunnels, bridges, and numerous structures built to precision
Grant Johnson on HSR job site at tunnel entrance

It turns out I eventually shot my one arrow for what turned out to be an even more impressive and unlikely job, working exclusively in the heart of China's HSR projects with Chinese only workers, as well as participating in the strict protocol of the ongoing high level Communist Government meetings on HSR, working out on the construction site projects as the Chief Site Engineer on a 70 km section of China's new High Speed Rail construction (bullet trains) in Beijing / Shenyang in northern China. More on that later.


So if the power of the priesthood is strong enough to calm the ocean waters, to save those boys from peril and death, it is strong enough to make things happen that need to happen no matter the circumstance. Trusting in the power of the Priesthood and the power of God to make things happen that need to happen. If the Lord wants and inspires me to work for Ford, to apply for a job at Ford, then that will be according to the will of the Lord. But just like the Brother of Jared never got the Lord to fix their language problem UNTIL he ASKED, it never would have happened otherwise. Same with me, until I apply to Ford for the right job, it never was going to happen (turns out there was no "right job" with them).


Essentially, two miracles need to happen. 1) You need to get the interview opportunity (that came after fasting and prayer by my wife unbeknownst to me, but it was not what I expected, it was not Ford. It came out of the blue). 2) After you get the interview, then you need to nail the interview with exactness hitting a bullseye. Reel it in, and they will give you the job. When that ultimately happened for me, but with a different company who actually gave me an interview, an all Chinese company, a huge Chinese engineering company with connections on the biggest civil engineering projects in all of China.. High Speed Rail! I knew it was the miracle that was supposed to happen, the one arrow, even though the whole process of being unemployed prior to that was extremely stressful and extremely unpleasant. I watched as our bank account drained down nearly to zero. In the process though, I grew much closer to the Lord, and He took me to the very edge of my faith. I had to leap and stay the course. More on that later.


Back to District Conference. Something really special happened Saturday night with our whole family, and especially the children. When sister Gong spoke, she had all of the children gather together into a circle (it was only our kids and Dallin Weaver) and then she asked them questions.


"When have you felt the Holy Ghost?"


Jaylene was first and shared her experience of how the Holy Ghost guided her in a miraculous way when lost at the water park.


Across from the temple there was temple patron housing which we utilized and we did go to the temple too
Johnsons outside Hong Kong Temple May 2015

Adam was next and shared about his experience at the temple in Hong Kong where he felt the Spirit at the temple, and how warm it made him feel. He went on and on about it, and I wish I could have recorded it so I could remember it. It was special, he was just 11, and I am sure that all who heard it were impressed with how spiritually sensitive he was talking about the temple.


Emily followed and shared about her time when she was struggling with her testimony of wanting to know things are true, and doubting, but then she had a talk with me and her faith was strengthened and she felt the power of the Holy Ghost. Dallin was next and shared how the Holy Ghost helped him when he was lost.


When Sister Gong was done, Elder Gong took over and picked up where she left off, and continued to talk about the experiences that the children had just shared. He asked Christa and I if we had known about these experiences before (while the children were still sitting there and he proceeded to sit down next to them). Christa first walked over and shared how she felt, and then I did… I remember saying that I had not heard about Adam’s experience before, but was touched by it and felt the Spirit while he shared it. I also shared about how I felt the responsibility of a father as Emily shared her experience of how she was strengthened by talking with me. Then Christa and I went back to sit down.


But Elder Gong spoke a little more and then called on Adam again to explain what he had just said about how he felt in the temple, and as Adam stammered a bit and struggled what to say, but then Christa got up and went over to him, helped him stand up and then go over and sit down next to Elder Gong.


Then Adam was able to hear the question repeated again, and then Adam got to explain again to Elder Gong about his feelings with the Holy Ghost while in the Hong Kong temple (see photo above).


As I watched that exchange, I was so impressed with Christa. I thought what an excellent spiritual mother Christa was, to get up and go over to strengthen and nurture her son like that, with a gentle loving smile, and get him to succeed rather than fear, and it was a great experience to watch that. Elder Gong paid a lot of attention to Adam that night, and the next day too, and also at the luncheon after the conference. Maybe its because I'm the dad, but it seemed to me that he seemed to really see something special in Adam who was about to receive the Aaronic Priesthood in a month or two, and I noticed how he seemed to be preparing him for receiving the priesthood soon. It was so interesting to see Adam paying such intense attention to Elder Gong, and that’s because Adam was so in tune with the Spirit, as were his sisters. Adam at the young age of almost 12 was very close to the Spirit and read his scriptures regularly. The next morning, Elder Gong also got the email addresses of Adam and Emily before the Sunday conference session started..


From my journal:

"We just got to have our pictures taken with the Gong’s and the District Presidency. How privileged it was this day to have had such an experience, I am at the edge of tears just thinking of how blessed we are to have had this opportunity not only to come here, get a blessing, hear great talks, and to be invited to have lunch with them yesterday, and to feel their love. It was a spiritual feast, and its not even over. There is so much more coming, we have the main Sunday Session coming up. I am going out now from my room to sit and enjoy the prelude."


Audrey spoke at the main meeting.

Audrey giving talk

She followed President Weaver and gave a talk on Baptism and following Jesus. She also sang a song perfectly, “My Life is a Gift, My Life Has a Plan” and sang in perfect pitch. She was excellent in doing that and edified the meeting. She did awesome. She didn’t get nervous, and she sang the song without any fear at all. She did absolutely excellent, and you could feel the Spirit especially as she sang the song. It was a perfect little part of her talk. After she sang, she spoke a little bit more and then closed. She was really prepared, and she did really really well. Here is a video I made a few days after, since I could not record her during the real conference, it just is not appropriate. But this is her talk and the song she sang:



A Spiritual Recharge.

Living in China with your family can be lonely on some levels. We were lucky to have a big family and five or six of our children with us. We could easily believe and feel we were on an adventure, if not a vacation. We got to explore and experience so many new and unique things in our lives. But when it comes to employment, becoming suddenly unemployed (the company I worked for did not renew my contract as promised, so all of our plans were turned on their ear) in China can be unnerving. A very loud "NOW WHAT??!!" rings in your head and you don't have hardly any options. That was the condition I was in, and to a much lesser extent, my family, at the time we went to this District Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the CCID district (Central China International District). I needed a spiritual boost. I needed a blessing. We obtained all of that and more at this conference.


Children sing "I am a Child of God" at CCID District Conference

Adam said of his Sunday class with kids his age, that he really missed being with other people his age. Yes, even Adam and Emily and our other kids had to deal with the lack of that, peers that speak your own language. They only had each other, our family.





The High Speed Rail car we rode

As we rode home on the bullet train 300 km back to Chongqing from ChengDu, it was surreal. We were headed back to our apartment with no concrete answers. Just a future journey of faith we were about to take. What great timing the District Conference was, it was at the outset of our trial of faith, which was about to begin.


Reality started kicking in. Our apartment had a rent that was no longer being paid by the company. Now the whole bill was on us, to the tune of $2000 per month. A Chinese friend helped us negotiate it to half, but when we moved because we got a job, the landlord insisted on back payments, even though that was never the agreement. She had power over the foreigner whether to cooperate on paper work, etc. The other reality was that my Type-Z working visa was immediately canceled, and so we had to get tourist visas for the whole family. It meant plane rides, hotels, and a trip to Hong Kong outside of mainland China. It meant a whole lot of risk and money down the drain. Thousands were spent on that initial trip. Since tourist visas only last 30-60 days, we had to repeat.


Dealing with the China Consulate in Hong Kong was random, and that is another story. We had to fast to overcome one of the most stressful and stunning experiences of my life, our life, getting locked out of China and our apartment there with all of our things and all of our money in those banks, with no way forward to get back in. Our way forward came by way of MIRACLE through fasting and an extraordinary sequence of events, another story.


With all of these experiences and the sequence of miracle after miracle, is there any doubt, or rather, there is no doubt in my mind that staying in China for another year was going to be a great experience for our family. It was the will of the Lord, although others would not have agreed. Both Christa and I felt it, that there were experiences yet to unfold that would challenge our faith, make new friends, and experience more faith promoting things while in the awesome land of China.


Have Miracles Ceased? Behold I Say Unto You, Nay.

Moroni 7

26 And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.

27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?

28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.


Next up: A story of 3 months of lengthy arduous prayer, almost giving up, fasting by Christa, a random phone text job offer, an interview, and a miracle: Landing a huge job!






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