Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas!

Boy oh boy, what a week! Definitely a different kind of week than I have experienced so far! I am going to try to go away from my day by day format this week. That means that I may not write as much. I may go a little day by day though just because this week was different.

 
The work was extremely slow this week because we had almost zero time to do anything. What the heck.... here comes my days in order...
 
On Tuesday we had the 1st annual TLM Jingle Jam! It was sick. We saw lots of comedic skits/talents, and lots of for real/serious talents. Pres. and Sis. Heaps' surprise to us was letting us watch the Saratov Approach! That definitely got the adrenaline pumping! The most intense video we get to watch would probably have to be The Testaments so that was quite a step up the ladder as far as intensity! They also surprised us by telling us that Elder Bednar will be coming on the 13th or 15th of January (I can't remember which one). So that is going to be legit as can be! We got all of our Christmas packages there and took them home to opened them up that night! I was thoroughly satisfied with them all! I have lots of treats now that I have to slowly partake of so that I don't overdose on sugar!
 
On Christmas Eve we were out until 6pm and then had to go inside for the rest of the night. We were out all day and tried to visit some people but nobody was outside and everybody we tried were gone or busy as always.

 
On Christmas day we went over right after studies to the Weldy's to eat with them and play games. It was a lot of fun! We played this intense new Uno game. I can't remember what its called but it was super fun and real intense! Definitely a step up from Uno and Uno Attack! We then got to Skype home! It was so lovely to see y'all! That hour went by way too fast! But it was super fun to see all your beautiful faces! That definitely made my Christmas Day wonderful! After that we just had to go home and sit around all night. We had a dang good time though! Sure, we got super bored at times, but we still managed to have a good time! I have some sweet videos that I will send home when I get my other SD Card. I think you will enjoy them. Real stupid, but funny. Heck, they may not even be funny. But whatevs. We also started our new workout program on Christmas! We have a push-up program that we have started and we also started doing stuff with the resistance bands that we have in our apartment. I can already see my body getting shredded!

 
On Friday we went back to work, but we spent the first 5.5 hours of our day helping Bro. Weldy replace the spark plugs on his car. I basically just stood there the whole time. I would say my moral support was above average. Also, I wore a short sleeve shirt around all day... on the 26th of December!!!!! It was close to 70 degrees and beautiful! But they say that every time that it gets real warm in the winter here it means that a cold front is coming. And that it did. So the last couple days have been chilly with chilly weather in the forecast!
 
On Saturday we went and saw Daina & Tommy for a bit. Daina is an excommunicated Jahovah's Witness and her husband Tommy is the funniest person ever! Daina has talked to missionaries in the recent past and so we stop by and talk to her for a few minutes here and there. But they invited us over for some mesquite barbeque in a couple weeks so I am pumped out of my mind for that!


 Sunday was a pretty solid day. Church went quite well despite only having 15 or so people there because everyone was out of town! I talked in sacrament meeting along with Elder Stringham. But it was nothing special. We talk a lot. But you can still feel the spirit and have good meetings with hardly anyone there! We went and visited Paul as well in the evening. We had visited him a couple times the past week and a half and he is doing much better emotionally because he has to go completely off alcohol to get his son back. So he has been smiling a lot and happy because of that. He has been able to focus on what we are talking about and actually think about it and not just have it go over his head and relate it to his son. But he is a really really slow learner. We have watched The Restoration video with him twice and read real simple things about Joseph Smith and The Restoration but he is still having a hard time comprehending and remembering. We went over what prophets were for about 10 minutes and he still doesn't have a very good understanding. So it is going to be a very long process with him.

 
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Birthday Week!

Why hello everyone! We had a pretty crazy week this week... well, in a way. In other ways it was just regular. But whatevs.

 
On Tuesday we went and saw this old guy named Roberto. Roberto has only one tooth, right in front on the bottom. So it definitely takes some concentration to understand him. He is a nice man but whenever we tell him anything gospel related you can almost hear a "WHOOSH" as the information goes right over his head. So we stopped by a couple more times during the week but we for the most part done visiting him. Its just a waste of time and he just makes the same comments every time we go so he is just stuck in mud. We will probably go and see him some time in the future but it was fun while it lasted.

 
On Wednesday, we were just sitting there studying in the morning like we always do, when all of a sudden the phone rang. I saw that it was from the Zone Leaders so I suspected that they were just calling to see how we were doing like they usually do once a week. So I answered the phone and the convo went a little something like this...
 
Me: "Hello this is Elder Ericson!"
 
ZL: "Hey Elder Ericson, how are y'all doing?"
 
Me: "Oh you know, just studying like we're supposed to be."
 
ZL: "That's sweet. Well..... did you guys here the big news?"
 
Me: "Uhhhhh.... no we did not!"
 
ZL: "Well.............you guys are getting a car!"
 
Me: "SHUT UP! ARE YOU SERIOUS?"
 
Elder Stringham: "SHUT UP!!! YOU BETTER NOT BE MESSING WITH US!!!! YOU ARE MESSING WITH US AREN'T YOU????
 
And then a whole bunch of that and the ZL telling us it was for real. So we did absolutely nothing for the last 1.5 hours of study time and then went and picked up our car at the church here in Sweetwater! We are kickin' it in a 2014 Jeep Compass. Its insanely weird having a car, and we are still trying to figure out how to use it the most effectively. But that was def a blessing!!! Anyway, we visited Paul that evening and we watched "The Restoration" video with him. For once it everything didn't go basically right over his head and focused on his son... and we discussed how he felt watching the video and he def felt the spirit super strong. He mentioned how he felt way different when the two bright guys came to the boy. So we had to explain how that was God and Christ appearing to Joseph Smith and helped him recognize that the feeling he had was the spirit testifying of truthfulness to him. Its still a new concept to him but he loved the way he felt and so now we have something to work with and build off of!
 
On Thursday it was Birthday Eve! We found this one guy sitting out in front of his house, a very old/poor house. His name is Dean and we found out that he is actually a member but has basically fell off the face of the earth. His records aren't in the branch or anything. He hasn't been active in years and years. He seemed like a nice guy and he showed desire to go to church and read the Book of Mormon that we gave him. We walked just a bit up the street and started talking to these two guys that we talked to a few weeks ago and they said that he was a raging alcoholic. Btw, side note, these guys are weird. One of them basically thinks he is a prophet and tells us about his revelatory dreams and such. Its good stuff. Anyway, back to Dean. We went back on Saturday to take him a white shirt that we had in our apartment, and he was drunker than you could even believe. He should have been passed out, thats for sure. But somehow he wasn't. He was way more drunk than I have every seen anyone in my entire life! Anyway, he didn't make it to church and we now have a very interesting case on our hands!

 
Friday was my BIRTHDAY!!! It was pretty uneventful. We have one interesting event that day, but it has zero significance to anything so I am not going to waste time writing it all out. We did however go back to Allen's Buffet for dinner, you know, the place we went and had killer fried chicken and mac and cheese last week! The Patton's couldn't stay to take us to dinner so they just gave us some money to go get some. Lesson learned: Allen's Buffet is amazing, but is much more of a once a transfer kind of deal. It is just a lot to handle and having it two weeks in a row was a little much. But if I ever come back to Sweetwater, I will for sure be hitting that place up!
 
We got to go to the dump on Saturday. We were doing some service for this lady that lives by the church and she needed to take a load to the dump. So that was pretty legit. I love the dump! It's a cool place.
 
Sunday was just a whole bunch of awesomeness! The branch went crazy on Secret Santa stuff this year so we helped a lot with that... and we got some sick ties and socks from some members! The Thompson's gave us sweet Christmas ties and cool socks and the Patton's gave us some cowboy ties! So I have a legit tie to represent my time in West Texas! For dinner we went over to the Thompson's like usual... and we had briskett again... its just so good, people. So so good. I just don't know how people here in Texas make such good meat. It just blows my mind! So that was basically the best thing ever.

 
Anyway, I hope y'all have a Merry Christmas! Mi familia, I will see y'all on Christmas!

 
LOL (lots of love),
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fried Chicken

Well my good peeps, I never got around to telling you that I was almost for certain that I would stay in Sweetwater with Elder Stringham for another transfer. I guess I never got around to it. You have two transfers of training and almost always you will stay in the same area and with the same trainer. So yes, I am still in Sweetwater with Elder Stringham! We are excited because we have a lot of goods things happening here! It took over a month to get anything really good going, but we have it going now! It should be a successful transfer! The progress that I have seen in just six short weeks is crazy. I am 50 times the missionary I was when I came out into the field and I still have a number of big jumps ahead of me until I get to the point when it becomes smaller jump after smaller jump. So I am excited to see what another six weeks will do to my work! I am also becoming my own missionary. Your first few weeks out you pretty much do whatever your trainer does and say the same type of things they do. But I am at the point where I am starting to do things my own way and become Elder Ericson and not Elder Stringham Junior.
 
On another note, gas is about $2.25 here right now. Granted, we never have to buy gas because our bicycles are gas free, but its still something for you to be jealous about.
 
I love filling you in on all the big events of the week, and I have found that just going day by day is the easiest way for me to do that. In the MTC, whenever something cool would happen I would write it down and then at the end of the week I had just a list of cool things. But out here I have to just go through my journal before I come to email and write down things that happened day by day. Its not the best format, but it will do for now.
 
On Tuesday, we had an interesting bike day. Firstly, I was riding down the sidewalk by the high school and I was looking straight down at my back tire. I was going really slow, but all of a sudden, I came to a very sudden complete halt and I felt some pressure on the front of my helmet and a few other places on my body. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. And when it dawned on me what happened, I was completely shocked at what had just occurred. Yes, I ran into a big light pole! Hahahaha I laughed for about 5 straight minutes after!!! Nobody saw, there were hardly any cars, but it was one of the funniest things that has happened to me! Anyway, later that night we were out on our bikes and Elder Stringham went up and over a curb, and as he came down the other side of the sidewalk thingy, his back tire popped and went completely flat in a matter of seconds! So instead of going on with our work for the night, we just walked back to our apartment (we were pretty close) and spent the next good while fixing his tire. Luckily, we were able to fix it with his tire repair kit that he has, because that could have pretty much put our work here to a halt for a few days, and that would have been no bueno.

 
On Wednesday we went and visited with this guy who is 88 years old and had a "spell" about 4-5 years ago that wiped his memory! It sounds a lot like a stroke, but who knows. Anyway, he is athiest and won't change, so we just sat and talked with him about whatever for about 40 minutes. That was interesting. While we were teaching Larry that night, we both felt the spiritual prompting that he can get baptized. We spent a lot of time wondering if it was right to baptize him, and we both felt a very obvious answer that it would be good to do that. The only problem now is getting him to quit smoking, so that should be interesting.
 
On Thursday I received my birthday package, and so I went ahead an opened that sucker up! The food/treats were top notch! And the CD's were top notch as well! Unfortunately, none of the Lindsey Stirling CD is mission appropriate, so that stinks. But I still love having her CD at my desk!

 
Friday was a fuuuuuuuun day!!!! Oh boy, def the most interesting day of my mission so far! We totally sat down at the park with some Jahovah's Witness pioneers! They had talked to the missionaries a few months ago and the missionaries asked some questions that they wanted to answer for them. So they wanted to meet with us. Anyway, we went in with an open mind of what was going to happen. One of them was in her 20's and then her mom came along with her. We asked them some questions about their beliefs and let them talk to us about all their stuff. And then it was our turn and the younger one actually had some pretty good questions and was actually interested in learning more about what we believe. Her mother was def on another page! We could hardly get two sentences out without her interrupting us and talking about how bologna it all was. Elder Stringham was biting his tongue so hard, it was actually quite hilarious to look over and see his face! He said he had about 3 scripture lined up to disprove their religion, but we were good boys and let them bash us without bashing them. What I learned from this is how crucial learning by the spirit is. You can prove things back and forth using the Bible, but when it comes down to it, the spirit teaches you truth. And that is something that the JW's don't believe in at all. I think it is so wonderful that our church stresses finding things out for yourself, and much more often that not, you find out through the spirit that what is being taught is true. I couldn't think of a better way of actually knowing truth than by studying and having the spirit testify to you what is truth. Also, on Thursday night we went out to Allen's Buffet with the Patton's. On baby, best fried chicken I have ever had and hands down the best mac & cheese on the planet. Holy cow people. So dang good! So that was basically the best thing that happened this week!
 
On Saturday we had a memorial at the church for a guy that died this past week that used to live in the Sweetwater Branch. I don't have time to tell you about it. But look up "Cameron Alldredge" and you should find some news articles. Crazy stuff. Also, look up his brother "Tje Alldredge"....
 
On Sunday we had dinner at the Thompson's again, like always, and it was a good one. Both food and conversation. For dinner we had homemade crock-pot lasagna. Oh boy was it good. We had two other men from the branch over for dinner too and the conversation about Shelby and his conversion was amazing. They were such a big help and I think that Shelby is getting closer and closer every week. Hopefully I have more time next week to talk about him. Its very interesting. I pray hard every night that he can recognize his answers and take the next step!
 
Anyway, thats all for this week. I gotta peace out. I always struggle with time these days. Darn it. I wish I could tell you more! I love you all!

 
Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, December 8, 2014

RIBS!!!!

Well, another week down here in Sweetwater! Its crazy to think that I am almost done with my first transfer! It has flown by so fast!

 
On Monday we attempted to keep following the Christmas lights again and really hoped for another crazy story. But....... nothing. So we stopped following the Christmas lights. So just an update on that.
 
On Tuesday we had District Meeting here in Sweetwater and then went to lunch at Pizza Hut and ate their lunch buffet. Which btw is kinda a rip-off. The pizza they put out isn't even close to their good pizza. Real cheap and crappy. Anyway, we did exchanges and Elder Stringham went to Abilene with our district leader and I stayed in Sweetwater with the dl's companion. His name is Elder Cruz-Garcia. He is from southern Mexico and has been a member for three years now. He has only been out for 11 weeks so we were just killing it as two newbies. We had a good time together and it was awesome to see how much different of a missionary I was when I had to take charge of things. I was a completely different missionary in a really good way! I would get excited as we were walking up to people and just all sorts of good things were going for me! We walked for a total of about 6-7 hours that afternoon. Its safe to say that my legs were cooked. Good gracious. He hates bikes so we just walked it all day. Definitely a solid workout. I have done some 4 hour walking sessions before so far, but when you do a 4 hour walking session before dinner and then walk for another 2-3 hours after dinner (with some breaks for two different visits) is a whole other ballgame. But I felt like the pain in my legs/feet was a good pain because I was doing the Lord's work!

 
On Wednesday, we had a couple cool/funny things happen. We were out walking and trying some people, and we walked past these apartment thingies and heard some kids and a parent inside. We walked another 20 meters or so when Elder Stringham turned around and decided he was going to knock it. Turn out, the lady that lives there with her three kids is a member who hasn't been to church in quite some time and is related to members of the ward. Long story short, she should be coming to church here in a couple weeks with her kids! We then went and visited Larry that evening. Larry is the mentally handicap guy, I think I told you about him last weekish. Anyway, Larry had to go to the ER on Tuesday because his constipation led to some hemorrhoids! He was very open about the experience and it was so hard not to laugh my butt off! Anyway, we were going to set a baptismal date with him, but it just didn't feel right so we are holding off on that for now and are trying to figure out what needs to be done for him. The branch president gave us the ok to baptize him, but we are still figuring it out.
 
On Thursday, well..... nothing happened all day. It was one of those days.

 
On Friday the only events that happened were us visiting Sister Green like always and visiting Diane. Sister Green, as always, blew us away with her prayer. Holy smokes people. I have never, not once, in my life felt an actual power just slapping me in the face while someone was praying in any sort of setting like we were in. At Diane's we had a great time! Diane was being extra funny and whenever we did anything against her liking she would send us to the "doghouse" which means we had to go stand in the corner facing the wall! Haha I had to go like three times! Good times, good times. Also, Sweetwater Football played in the state semi-final football game. They hadn't lost a game all season and had made it all the way through the 64 team playoff to get to the semi-finals. So that's pretty legit. They lost by one touchdown so their season is over, but there's still pretty legit. 
 
On Saturday we went out and visited the Patton's and did some service for them. Brother Pattons knee is all sorts of messed up and they have lots of stuff that needs to be done around their place. We wish we could go out there more often but without a car we can only make it once a week when they come and pick us up. As we were leaving Colorado City headed back home, Bro Patton stopped and we waited for the Christmas parade to start... so we made the time useful and went out and handed out a few cards to people waiting for the parade as well. The parade was interesting. I don't have time to tell all about it but I have a video of the entire things that I will send home sometime so you can watch. And I am pretty sure that they upped the dose on his pain killers so Bro Patton has been absolutely hilarious lately as a result, so that just made this interesting parade all the better!

 
So now we get to the title of my email. RIBS. We went over to the Thompson's for dinner who fed us the briskett a few weeks back. Oh baby. Shelby (the male) was telling us how he wasn't very pleased with his ribs because he can't use his wood burning grill during the winter so he had to use his gas grill. But they were easily the best ribs I have ever sunk my teeth into. They were pork ribs, not beef ribs, and were oh so amazing. Be jealous people. Be jealous. Mother, you would get along with Sister Thompson very well. Good times over at their place.

 
Well, I'm out of time for this week. So long, my friends.
 
Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Following the Christmas Lights

Wassup my good peeps?! Another week down here in the TLM! I have been here in Sweetwater for a month now!!! Isn't that crazy! It has been absolutely flying by... everytime I blink my eyes I am laying in my bed falling asleep for the night.


 
On Tuesday we were supposed to have District Meeting in Abilene, but instead we had a mini Zone Conference instead with all the districts in our zone. President and Sister Heap were there and they introduced us to the new "He is the Gift" initiative that the church is rolling out for the holiday season. It officially started a couple days ago and we are pumped to see what this will bring and the successes we will have from it. I don't know if the video has gone around the internet yet, but it will for sure go viral pretty soon here. The whole focus of the initiative is to focus this Christmas season around Christ and spread the message of Christ with everyone. It has been going great so far and I can't wait to see what it will be like by Christmas!


 
On Wednesday, we saw our first miracle that started a trend of miracles. We finally got a member to come out with us to a lesson, but the person wasn't home so we just went back to the members house and got our bikes and took off. Instead of going where we were originally intending to go, Elder Stringham saw some Christmas lights down the road and wanted to check them out. So we did. We got to the Christmas lights which were at the home on the corner of two streets, and I turned and started heading up the road a little ways when I realized that Elder Stringham was not following me. I turned around and he had just stopped in the intersection and pulled out his planner to see what we could do. I turned around and went back to him and after about 5 seconds of standing there we heard a "help" coming from the little overhand/garage area of the house with all the lights. We saw an older lady sitting there on the steps so we ran over and saw that her hip was all sorts of messed up! So we called 911 once again to get an ambulance there. As I was standing there talking to her, she said that she had been there for about 30 mins and that she had just been praying that someone would come by and help her. I told her that we pray many times a day to be put in the path of someone that needs our help in any way possible and that we were 100% the answer to her prayers! Anyway, that was a cool miracle that happened because we followed the Christmas lights!


 
On Thanksgiving we went over the the Patton's who are an older couple that are in the branch. They came and picked us up and when we got there we watched Bro. Patton and his son skin a deer for like an hour. So that was sweet. The food was pretty good, nothing special, and the other people that they had over were pretty sweet, but nothing special. It was a nice day, but nothing like Thanksgiving with the Ericson's! That's pretty much it for Thanksgiving. Oh, we celebrated Stringham's 21st birthday that night (his birthday was yesterday) with some birthday cake that he got sent to him by his family. So that was pretty swag.


 
On Saturday, we had our second Christmas light miracle! We went out walking at like 8 and we just went up behind our apartments. We looked down a street and saw some Christmas lights and decided that we should follow them. We didn't expect anything, but thought it would be fun because of what happened a few nights before. After we passed the house with the Christmas lights, we saw a younger lady trying to catch her dog. She said that her ex-husband was supposed to show up any minute with her young child, so she couldn't afford to go on a dog hunt. So we told her not to worry and leave it in our hands. So we started running after this dog, and this dog was just cruising down the street! We are both out of shape like no other, so we had a fun time running about a 1/2 mile chasing this dog down before we got it corralled and caught! We took it back to her house and we are now hoping to teach her at some point!


 
On Sunday, we had a potluck after church with all the leftovers from Thanksgiving. So we had lots of yummy food for lunch for free! But the highlight of Sunday came from.... you guessed it.... following the Christmas lights. By this point we knew something good was bound to happen. We really didn't think anything would, but we had a good time laughing about all the miracle possibilities. This one took a little longer to develop though. We turned down a street on our bikes to go check out the lights, but just kept on riding for another minute or two in the complete opposite direction than we were originally going. To make a long story short, we talked to a lady that was actually baptized about 20-30 years ago and has no clue that she is actually a member of the church. But the crazy part is, the senior missionary couple that taught her lives down the street from Elder Stringham in Utah and he grew up in the same ward as them and is super tight with them! In fact, just last week he got an email telling him to find her and talk to her! We talked to her for a long time and she has forgotten a lot about what we believe, which is kinda weird. She had no clue. But we are going to start visiting with her and hopefully get her back to church!


 
So the number one thing we learned this week is to FOLLOW THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!! We literally have "Christmas Light Finding" down in our planners for tonight and probably will for the rest of the week!


 
I love you all! Have a great week!


 
Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pictures!

 
{Note from Elder Reed's mom:  I had to pick and choose some of the pictures that were on the memory card.  This represents a pretty good mix of what was on the card.} 
 
 
 
 
My District (MTC) meeting the Branch Presidency selfie.
 

 
Picture with Elder Austin Gorton (MTC) good friend from Kuna.
 
 
Our whole Zone with President Laney on our Sunday walk around the Provo Temple.
 

Elder Dobie and I at choir practice (MTC).
 


I took a charge!  Offensive foul on the missionary on the bike.  (MTC)







Preaching to Samuel Smith.









"Twinsies" with Samuel Smith.


 Elder May (MTC companion) on the right with Brother Ditto (middle).

 
Most of our Zone (minus the Sisters and newbies) with Brother Cena. 
 
 

Our District (MTC) with President Laney.


Our Zone with the newbies.


Last group pic with my District at the temple.


A few of the newbies with Elder Layne (far right) before heading to the transfer bus. (Lubbock, TX)


The moon in Sweetwater.

 
The train was stopped across the tracks to switch drivers.  Prime opportunity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A note from Reed's mom --

Elder Reed Ericson has transfers on December 16 and 17th so his address may change.  If you are planning to send a package, we have been instructed to send it to the mission office:

6310 114th Street
Lubbock, TX 79424

Also, if you are interested the mission president's wife has a blog for the mission.  There aren't any pictures of Reed on there, yet.  You can bookmark the site and check it occasionally.

http://davidandmaryheap.blogspot.com/


See below for Elder Reed's latest letter from Sweetwater, Texas.





I Can't Think of a Title - Parts 1 and 2

Howdy y'all!

Another week down here in Sweetwater! It was a good week of learning and awesome experiences! But I would like to start of with a funny story from last week that I forgot to tell you about in my last email.
 
So we were biking down the road, and we were straight cruising for some reason. We usually ride pretty slow so we can talk to people, but we were riding pretty fast. So there I was, minding my own business on my bike, when all of a sudden, two cats shot out from behind a dumpster on the side of the road like they were being chased by a huge dog. One cat decided to be straight stupid and run straight at my bike. So, with my going rather fast, I could not react, and the cat got straight up drilled by my back tire! I did not see it, but Elder Stringham said that the cat got like a foot of air and did some sort of flip before falling back down to the road and gingerly running off! Hahaha it was awesome!


 
On Tuesday we basically had no luck all day until about 7pm. We were walking past these apartments that are rather creepy apartments and two guys were standing there and one called us over. He said that his friend that was standing right there with him was having a really hard time and that we should talk to him. This guy's name is Paul and his wife recently took off and took their 9 year old son as well. So we stood and talked to him for about 10 minutes just trying to give him hope and comfort. I did most of the talking, which that was the first time that has happened. Normally I don't say much. But it was awesome to be able to give someone that was in serious need some hope and peace. But the other man standing there said that a few days prior, he was driving down the road and saw us silhouetted in the sunset as he drove and he just thought about how cool it was that we go out every day and bring people closer to Christ. That def pumped me up about the work!


 
On Wednesday we went to Abilene for Zone Training. We were challenged the night before by our district leader to go into the training with a question in mind. So we decided to go in with the question: What do we need to do to improve our area? And oh boy, the training delivered! We decided that we needed to go back to the fundamentals. And we saw instant results just that evening! We had some really good conversations with some people out on the streets! At one point, we rode right past this couple that looked like they could be about 18ish. They looked a little rough, not the people that you would get excited to talk to. But we were about 20 meters past them when Elder Stringham turned around and started talking to them. Well, we ended up sitting down on the curb and taught them "the restoration". The male was super engaged answering and asking questions. They gave a soft commit to baptism and we gave them some Book of Mormon reading to do. The boy even asked it he could read more than what we gave them to read. Well, to make the rest of the story short, we haven't been able to get in contact with them since. They won't answer phone calls or reply to texts... but maybe one day they'll come around. On Wednesday night we went over and visited some members who are slightly less-active, and they gave us TONS of food!!!!! They were just cleaning stuff out and they just put all sorts of things in a big bag for us to take home! We had a nice pig out that night before bed! It was the best night ever.


 
On Thursday, we had an interesting time. Elder Stringham's bike was having some issues so we would leave to go out and work, and then have to return after just a couple minutes and go out on foot. Then we had to go across town so he just got on his bike and just ride it anyways, but after a couple minutes we ended up making the walk all the way across town instead. He spent forever that afternoon trying to fix his bike and we even took dinner at 3 so that he could just work on it. Long story short, it was a simple as can be fix. So that was hilarious to watch him discover that!

 
On Friday we went to visit Sis. Green again, like always. She was sick but wouldn't not read with us! She came out and even insisted on taking her turn reading despite a nasty cough! She just has the most amazing faith in the world! We gave her a blessing and she said that she could just feel it go down through her and she knew she would be fine. Quite honestly, her faith is so strong that she didn't even need a blessing! Holy cow, that stuff is stronger that you could imagine! We then got picked up and went out to Colorado City to do some service for some members out there. They are older and have a ranch/farm thing. Not very big, but they still need help. One thing I learned about this trip was that the people out here are prepared for the apocalypse. Hahaha we learned all about how this area is going to be the best place to be when everything bad happens! They have it all thought and planned out how its all going to go down and how the terrain is going to help them! Its crazy stuff. I'm telling you, these peeps are crazy.

 
On Saturday it POURED on us!!! We were out when it started to dump and during the most ferocious part we ended up talking with a girl as she was walking to her house and she actually has a lot of potential. So that was cool how even though the weather was nasty, the Lord still puts us in people's paths to help them! After we got done planning at about 10pm... we heard some nasty bangs on the wall between us and our neighbors. And then the yelling came, and more banging, and more yelling. Well, we called the cops. It was pretty crazy. I don't know if we are allowed to do that, but I am pretty sure we may have saved that ladies life, so it was totally worth it. They about destroyed the wall that separates our apartments! It was crazy stuff! Domestic violence is no joke people. I was so scared for that lady but I hope they got it all taken care of.

 
They had the primary program at church on Sunday! It was the best! We had 20 primary kids from our tiny branch! It's crazy how many kids we have! I felt the spirit so much when they were singing! It was the best primary program that I have ever witnessed! After the program we had a high council speaker, and he ended up being a sweet big black guy that could easily play the role of a reverend in a high profile movie! He was legit! His talk was legit too!


 
All in all, it was a good week and I am learning and growing! I love you all and I feel your prayers and love every day!


 
Con mucho amor,
Elder Reed Ericson

***Part 2***

I forgot to add something really important in my email. You can insert it for my blog.
On Sunday night we went back and met with Paul (the guy we met on Tuesday night) to see how he was doing. He invited us in and we spent an hour with him just talking with him and giving him hope and comfort. There were a number of times when I could see a little tear coming from his eye. I felt the spirit so dang strong the entire time and you could see the spirit working within him giving him hope and peace. He has his court trial today to see if he gets his son, which is all he wants, and you could see that the spirit was giving him comfort that everything would work out. At the end, we asked if we could kneel with him in prayer. He agreed, and we asked if he could say a prayer. He told us that he had never said a prayer in his life, so I asked him if he would like if I said a prayer first, followed by him saying a prayer. He agreed, so I proceeded to say a short and simple prayer. We knelt there for a few silent seconds before he started praying. He was just pouring his heart out to God. It was so amazing and I felt the spirit so strongly. It was a pretty short and simple prayer, and after he said "Amen" we just knelt there with him as he kept his head bowed and you could just tell that the he was feeling a strong dose of the spirit working within him. He told us to come back on Tuesday to see him again and to meet his son (hopefully he will get his son). He is a great man, although he may look a little different, and I hope and pray he finds happiness and peace. We are going to try to start teaching him and his son this week as well and we think he will find great comfort in the church and this gospel!

Monday, November 17, 2014

COLD!!!!

Hello peeps!


So I have just one order of business before I go on and tell you about my week. There is a mission blog maintained by Sister Heap. You can probably find all of our arrival pics and stuff on there plus some other stuff. It is: davidandmaryheap.blogspot.com


So last Monday we started to see the fruits of our labors. We taught a family of children (no parents) that are all really interested. There is a 12 year old boy who has actually been to church like 4 times, a 14 year old girl, a 9 year old boy, and a two younger kids. They really love us coming over and teaching them and ask a lot of good questions. The only problem is, we won't baptize them until we have taught the parents everything as well. There are a set of parents, another adult female who is the mother of one of the younger kids, and a grandma living in the house. The other adult female actually seems pretty interested. We have been over to teach them three times this week, and the last time we went she was busy while we were over there, but she would walk by and stop and listen for a minute and even came in and bowed her head for the prayer. So we are hoping that we can start teaching her as well and so that she can be a support to the younger ones. We also visited with another lady who is just awesome on Monday. We weren't able to teach her because of some circumstances, but she has a good faith in Christ and is really interested in learning more. She said that she had actually met with missionaries before. She met with them like twice a week for a few weeks, but then both of them got transferred and she never heard from them again. So we are excited about her, but we haven't been able to make it back to teach her.


On Tuesday we had Zone Conference in San Angelo. They combine the San Angelo zone and Abilene zone and have one zone conference for the two zones. We heard from both of the assistants, and then Sister Heap and President Heap as well as our individual zone leaders. Everyone just killed it. It was awesome! President Heap talked about teaching, preaching, and healing. We as missionaries get really good at teaching and preaching, but we really need to learn how to heal people. He teaches from the scriptures just so stinkin' well, its crazy! I have never met someone that reads between the lines as well as he does! I am excited to learn more from him over the rest of my mission!


On Wednesday we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked. And to make it better, it was in the 20-35 degree temperature range. We stayed pretty warm because we bundled up like crazy, but there is no way to bundle up your face, so I thought I was going to lose all the skin off my face that night. But my face recovered nicely once we got inside! But even through the cold, Elder Stringham and I were able to keep a good sense of humor the whole time and laughed pretty much the whole day. There was literally nobody to talk to outside so it was kind of a long day, but we survived and we had a good time.


On Thursday we started our new push for service! We are now allowed to get 10 hours of service a week (it used to be only 3 hours) so we went and cleaned out a members van and other assorted chores for a couple hours. We are hoping all of our service will bring in some good referrals, so hopefully the people we do service for will start sending us some names of people to try! Oh yeah, it was like 30 degrees on this day as well. Great fun.


 
On Friday we went and visited the old black lady in the branch, Sister Green. I mentioned last week that we go read with her every Friday. But one thing that I took from our visit this week is that we can all make our prayers more sincere. Sister Green's prayers are absolutely unbelievable! She doesn't really use the proper prayer language that we all use, but she just had such a heartfelt conversation with God and it is such a beautiful thing! I realized that even though I pray sincerely, I sometimes lose a little sincerity because I try to make it proper. Sometimes we just need to lose ourselves and pour out our hearts and not worry about giving our prayer in the "proper" way.


 
On Saturday we helped with the stake youth service project. They transcribed the cemetery here in Sweetwater. They took over 2700 pictures that will be uploaded along with the peoples information to findagrave.com. Uncle Quin should be pretty pumped about this project! After the project we went out to work. We walked for 4 straight hours in the cold. We estimated that we walked around 10 miles or more. I slowly started to feel just a little sick throughout the walk but nothing serious. We had a late dinner appointment at 7pm, and as we were sitting at the table waiting for dinner, I started to not feel good at all, and by the time the prayer was over, I looked at the food and I knew that I just couldn't eat it. They told me that I looked really pale, so I went and laid down on the couch. We were at the Weldy's, who we visit a couple times a week, so we know them really well. They are such nice, funny, good people. But when we were about to leave, I stood up and got my bag and was standing by the door, and I felt a little funny around my stomach but I knew that I had always felt that and I would just cover my mouth for a second and it would just go away. But it didn't go away..... and it came pouring out if you know what I mean. Yes, I threw up for the first time in years and years and years! They have like 7 dogs that all run around inside, so they are used to cleaning up stuff like that, so I honestly couldn't have picked a better place to lose it at. They were so great! But after puking, I felt like much better!


On Sunday, they cut church to only two hours! It was sweet! people here can't drive in any sort of icy conditions and there was supposed to be some snow at noon, so they ended church at 11 so that everyone could get home! A member took us home, and not without even warning us pulled into the Whataburger drive-through for lunch. Hahaha when we got home Elder Stringham was so ticked at him for taking us through the drive through and making us break the sabbath. Direct quote from Stringham, "The commandments aren't a buffet line! You can't just pick and choose which ones you want to follow!" hahaha I spent the first 20 minutes after we got back just laughing at him freaking out. We then went out and started walking the streets in the 20 degree weather. Right as we got outside, the snow started falling and we ended up with a good thin layer covering the ground. The funny thing is, Texans just have no clue how to handle anything other than dry roads so they drive like 10 mph even with the tiniest bit of snow on the ground!


Anyway, that's all I have for this week. I love you all and I thank you for all your prayers and support! Also, how rad is it that Kevin will be here in Texas with me???!!!!! I was thinking about him all week and I was so pumped to hear he has been called to Houston!!!
 
LOL (lots of love),
 
Elder Ericson

Monday, November 10, 2014

BRISKET!!!!

Well to start off, I am sure you all are wondering where and who I am serving with. Mother and Father, I sent you a letter with my experiences on Monday and Tuesday and where I am serving. But idk it sounds like you haven't gotten it yet. You probs will today. Anyway, I have been assigned to serve in Sweetwater, which is in the Abilene Zone. It is about 1.5 hours Southeast of Lubbock. My trainer is Elder Travis Stringham... he's a BOSS. I love the guy. He is from Utah and went to Fremont High. We've had a good time so far.

My address is:
1701 Hailey #19
Sweetwater, TX 79556
 
Anyway, final report from the MTC... the MTC was the greatest thing ever! I miss it every day! It was so awesome to be around 1500 missionaries every day! I grew to love my district and zone and I have lots of memories from that place! I learned a lot and its sad that we only got 12 days there! But it was time to move on to bigger and better things!

On Monday we got up at 2:45 so that we could report to the travel office at 3:35. That took a while to go through the line to check out and get our travel stuff. So we ended up leaving the MTC at 4:40 and they took us to the Frontrunner which took us to the airport. We went from SLC to Dallas/Ft. Worth which was a fun flight! Us 13 missionaries in our travel group were spread out throughout the plane but I got lucky and sat in a group of about 6 of us. We flew right over Cowboys Stadium which was real cool! It dwarfed the baseball stadium that was right by it (pretty sure it is where the Rangers play)! We then took a tiny plane to Lubbock. I ended up falling asleep and when I woke up we were getting close to landing. I looked out the window.... and there was literally nothing. Nothing nothing nothing except for flat land for miles and miles. Turns out, the city was on the other side so I was looking away from the city. We got picked up and taken to the mission office/church for hours and hours of sitting through training. We didn't get out of there until 8:30. It was rough. But I really loved our group of new missionaries and it was great to become good friends with them all. I ended up staying at the apartment of one of the Zone Leaders in Lubbock, Elder Layne, with a few other new elders. Elder Layne is the freakin' man. At about 9pm that night, there was a downpouring of rain. It was insane. And it wasn't like Idaho where it stops after 5-10 minutes. This downpour lasted until 10am the next morning. And there is hardly any draining system in Lubbock so by about 9:15 the roads were rivers. It was pretty legit. On Tuesday we got up and had more training at the mission office, and then they split us up and sent us out with missionaries for the night. My group got to go give a blessing to a lady at the hospital, which was cool. Also, one of the sisters that I came here with is from Boise and graduated from Mtn. View this year. Anyway, I need to move on.
 
Well, Sweetwater was a car area, which most areas are. But some elders in Midland needed the car since they are cripple, so we are now a bike area. Which would be fine, however we are now close to if not the largest bike area in the country and probably up there in the world rankings as well. Our area is about 75x45 miles. There are a number of outlying towns that we cover... but not anymore. So we walk and bike EVERYWHERE! Its been fun... I'll leave it at that.... Plus, it is dark by like 6:30 and we don't really think we are even allowed to be on bike after dark. But we do anyway because we have to. As far as the work and teaching. There is almost nothing to report. I have been here since Wednesday afternoon, and I haven't taught a single legit lesson yet. We taught a lesson to a less active family, which was basically for practice, and we gave a lesson to the family we had dinner with last night. So that's been a little weird, but we are hoping to get this place hopping soon. Basically all of our work has been just out on the streets finding people to talk to and going around in the evenings trying to contact the people we found in the streets in past days. And they are either not home or just don't answer the door. So as far as actual missionary work goes, I don't have much to report. We have a couple people we are excited about that we will hopefully get in and teach, but nothing yet.

Some random Texas Lubbock Mission news, we should have Ipads by the end of the year. So thats cool. Also, apparently the mission will be getting split into two missions next summer. We are the second largest mission in the country and have 260 missionaries, which is an insane amount. And this is one of the few missions in the country and basically everywhere where the baptism rate is actually going up. Baptism rates are dropping worldwide, but not in the TLM!!!

As you saw from my subject, we had some dang good brisket yesterday. The people we ate with are an interesting family. The wife is a member, but not temple worthy, and the husband grew up baptist and has been coming to church for over a year and even pays his tithing and everything. But he hasn't gotten his answer yet to know he should be baptized. We call him an eternigator! They don't have any kids but have some girl living with them that is in her 20's. But the brisket was so dang good.... oh man. Simply fantastic.

Our branch here in Sweetwater is interesting. There are about 40 or less people at church every week. And a lot of them aren't your typical Idaho/Utah mormon families. So its cool to see that mormons are diverse too!
We visit an old black lady named Willie May Green every week and read the BOM with her. She is hilarious! We also visit with an old lady named Diane, who is only 7-8 years old mentally. We read the picture scripture stories with her. It is great fun.

Other than that, I don't have much else to tell y'all. It has been really slow the last 4-5 days. Hopefully this coming week we can get in and teach some lessons!

I love you all! I am sorry if I can't send you a personal email back! We only have 1 hour and so I have to basically do everything as fast as I can on here. But I read all of the emails I get and love hearing from all you!

 
Love,
Elder Ericson

Friday, October 31, 2014

What a great week!
I have a TON to tell you so I may be a little all over the place, and this will probably be really long, but forgive me! There were many things that I forgot to tell you last week so this week I have been writing things down to remember. I am going to start with the important/spiritual things first and see how far I get.

Last week I forgot to tell you about my teachers, and there are four of them. For our morning glass we have Sister Merriman. She actually pole vaulted in high school and she served in Los Angeles. She is super nice and loving and I really enjoy having her. I feel like there are better teachers, but I am still grateful for her and learn a lot from her. For our class in the afternoon we have two teachers, Brother Mitsvotai and Brother Ditto. They are both pretty good teachers and I enjoy being in class with them. But our evening teacher is the interesting one. His name is Brother Cena. He is from Italy, and served in London and is now studying at BYU. I started a joke that he is in the mafia, and it caught on pretty well and we talk and joke about it all the time. I just really hope he doesn't figure out that we say that about him anytime before we leave! Hahaha he already thinks I am a total idiot because when we were on a five minute break I was out in the hall knocking on the bricks in the hallway hoping to open up a secret chamber that leads to a golden investigator! He thinks I am a freak, but he is a good teacher. 

I joined the MTC Choir!!! Last Sunday they had Choir practice, so me and two other elders in our district went to practice. Because Elder Dobie is a bass, I decided that I was going to be a bass, which turned out to be the sweetest thing ever! We had practice Sunday night before the Sunday night devo, and then on Tuesday evening before the Tuesday night devo, and performed at the devo on Tuesday night. We sang "Lead, Kindly Light", which I had never heard before but is one of my new faves. The Choir instructor on Sunday really talked a lot about the lyrics of the song and applied them to us and it made me love the song even more. So that was a whole heap of fun!

After the devo on Sunday nights, they show a number of different films/recorded talks and we were told many many times to go to "The Character of Christ". We were thinking that because people hyped it up so much that it was going to be a let down when it wasn't as good as we thought it was going to be... but we were so incredibly wrong!!! It was a message by David A. Bednar at the MTC a few years ago, and through the whole 1.5 hours, I probably didn't listen to a total of about 30 seconds. It was one of the most interesting and inspiring talks I have ever heard in my life.... actually, scratch that. It was THE most inspiring talk I have ever heard. I am pretty sure you can find it online, it will be worth an 1.5 hours, I promise!

We have been teaching our teachers, who act as an investigator. It is really hard to teach them for a couple reasons... one is because we only have like 10 minutes to give the lesson, and another is because it is really hard to see them as an investigator instead of our teacher that is just acting. So those are always interesting lessons. But we also have TRC, which is where we get an investigator that is honestly usually a member, but sometimes they are not.

Elder May and I got a guy named Zach, and he is in his early twenties and moved out here to be with his brother at BYU. His brother is a member but he isn't (they are all at least acting as a non-member). We have 45 minute lessons with them in the evening from 7:45-8:30. We get four lessons with them. Wednesday night with Zach was an incredible experience. Let me set it up. Before we go to TRC, we have an hour of doctrine study and then about 45 minutes of Zone Teaching. For doctrinal study our district accidentally went over the Word of Wisdom instead of what we were supposed to do, which was a review of the last three lessons. We then went to Zone Teaching, where we join with the other districts on our zone and practice teaching. So instead of teaching one of the previous three lessons, our district taught the Word of Wisdom because that is what we accidentally prepared.

So we show up for our lesson with Zach, and to make a medium story short, he asked about the freaking Word of Wisdom before we started our lesson, which was on "The Restoration". So, having just practiced the Word of Wisdom, Elder May absolutely killed going over the Word of Wisdom for about the first 10 minutes of the lesson. We then somehow perfectly transitioned into our lesson on "The Restoration". I was giving the first half of the lesson, and before we went in there, my thoughts were scrambled and I was worried about how I would do. But the spirit took over and I totally nailed the first half of the lesson. Elder May took over for the last half, and he was just feeling it too and did an awesome job. The spirit was cookin'. Right at the end, Elder May pointed out how Heavenly Father called Joseph Smith by name, and how significant it was that he did that, and how he knows each one of us. I jumped in because I wanted to testify of that. And lo and behold, there I was, crying, testifying of Heavenly Father's love. And even though I was crying pretty hard, the spirit was just carrying words out of my mouth and I was able to give such a strong testament of His love. As I was talking, I could see emotion coming into his eyes, and I could almost see some extra moisture around his eyes, aka he was on the verge of crying. So that was sweet. 

We got him to pray at the end, and it became evident to us that he was really just meeting with us because he wanted to know what we believed more than wanting to use the information to make a change. So, for our next lesson we skipped lesson 2 which is "The Plan of Salvation" and went on to lesson three which is "The Gospel of Jesus Christ". We felt that lesson 3 would hopefully change his outlook on listening to us. Which it totally did! Elder May was brain fried by that point of the day, but he was able to give the first half of the lesson pretty well and Zach was really learning by the spirit. Then it got to my turn, and I was really worried because my mind was jumbled and I didn't think I knew my points well enough. But the spirit took over and was just putting words into my mouth and I totally dominated the last half of the lesson. I invited him to be baptized, and although he wasn't quite ready to commit, it got him thinking A LOT! We got him to pray again, and the change from the previous night was evident. He now has a desire to know of the truth and really wants to know if what we taught him was true. We are hoping that tonight we can commit him to baptism! 

One thing I have been struggling with is the fact that I have learned throughout my life to love people for who they are, and accept their beliefs and faith. I have seen it in some of the lessons with our teachers that I want to just be their friend and not push the gospel on them. So I have been working on that. 

We got to go to the temple this morning, and Brother Mitsvotai told us last night that while we were in the Celestial Room to ask Heavenly Father what he has in store for us. So that's what I was thinking about when we were in there. I looked up and saw a picture of Christ, with his arms open. At that moment, I remembered something that was said at the devo on Tuesday night. The question was, "Is Christ your best friend?". As I thought about it, I realized that as I help others come unto Christ and fall into his open arms, I can do the same as well, and in turn develop even more of a best friendship with him. I picked up the Book of Mormon and started reading it, and I ran across a scripture that fit this perfectly. It was 1 Nephi 13:37. It says, "And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at the last day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon mountains shall they be." I thought it related perfectly to what I was thinking. 

Our Branch President is absolutely incredible. His name is President Laney, and he knows just about everybody and their dog. He knows cousin Loyd, and he knows people from our stake and was at our stake conference when Pres. Beus was made Stake Pres. He had connections with almost everyone. And he is the craziest scripture mastorian EVER. He literally has a scripture for everything you ever say and know the book, chapter, verse, and where it is on the page. It is literally absolutely insane. 

Y'all mention how Abby said that I saw Melissa on my first day here. Yes, I did, and I have seen her and said hi like every day since. I also saw Paige Peterson a few times as well. So I have seen as many of Abby's friends as my own friends... so shoutout to Abby's friends!!!

Alrighty, to end this already long email... I will tell you just one joke from our joke fest a couple nights ago in our dorm. This is from Elder Dobie...
Did you know that diarrhea is genetic?
It runs through your jeans (genes)!

And one other funny story. So Elder Dobie snores really loudly. So a few nights ago at about 11:15 (its lights out at 10:30) Elder Dobie was snoring super loud. So I said just loud enough for all those still awake because of his snoring to hear, "I am literally going to kill Elder Dobie tomorrow!" And directly after I said that, he completely stopped snoring. I didn't say it very loud at all, and he had zero recollection of hearing anyone say anything when I told him about it the next morning! So I felt pretty cool.

Ok, I will quit boring you. I could go on with more things, but I shall stop.
I love you all!

Elder Ericson

Sunday, October 26, 2014

2 Down, 749 To Go!!!


Hello all!
Boy, the MTC is definitely an experience! We pulled up about 15 minutes before my scheduled drop-off time, so I thought we were going to have to wait a while to get dropped off. But as we passed through the gate, they told us we had 2.5 minutes to say our goodbyes! So the final goodbye was a little crazier than expected. But as I was walking away down the sidewalk with my host, I just felt pumped up to be at the MTC. We were sent through a bunch of rooms and received our badges and other information. My host then directed me to my room to drop off my luggage, which is on the third floor of building 12M. That probably means nothing to you, but whatevs. As we were walking to my classroom after that, there were tons of missionaries outside, and I ran into  none other than Elder Austin Gorton! I sprinted to him and gave him a nice big hug!  We then went to my classroom, which is on the fifth floor of building 18M. About halfway up the stairs, I realized I was going to be in real treat having to walk up to the fifth floor like five times a day. When we got to my room, I was the only one from my district there, so I sat and talked to our teacher for a while. The rest trickled in and I met my companion, Elder Colter May. I will talk more about him and my district later. For about an hour we just sat around and started filling out our daily planners with our schedule and then went to a meeting with all the new missionaries and the temple presidency. That lasted about an hour and then we went off to dinner. After dinner, the day got rough. The enthusiasm and adrenaline died off and everyone was feeling down and a little worried. Talking to other missionaries that have been here longer, they all say that the first day is super rough but only gets better, which I am experiencing myself! Each day gets  better and better!

Alrighty, back to my companion and district. My companion is from Bozeman and was actually in the home ward of our mission president in Lubbock. He is going to Lubbock along with me. We have eight of us in our district, with 3 of us going to Lubbock and the other five going to Baton Rouge. At first, no one was talking at all.... except me of course. I thought I was going to be in for a long two weeks! But by yesterday they started showing their personalities more and it has been great fun. My companion and I get along real well. He is one of the more outgoing ones in the district so I can be more of myself with him. He ran cross country and track in high school, so we are going to put in some work here at the MTC and whip ourselves into shape! He is going to try to walk on at Weber St. when he gets home so I will be able to keep in touch with him later on down the road. I really think that they put work into giving us companions. Everyone is paired with someone that is somewhat similar to them. And that goes for the entire MTC. You hardly ever see kids that look like they are opposites. In fact, there are these two missionaries that literally look exactly alike, same stylish haircut and anything! I see them everywhere! I can't help but laugh every time!

There are six of us in our room, and the other two Elders in our district are in the room next door. The dorms are sort of interesting. I see some places that are total parties and just crazy, but then there are other places that are much more under control. Our area is much more under control. Our Zone Leaders, who are in the room next door, say that our Zone has always practices obedience. They make sure that at 10:15 when its supposed to be quiet time, that its quiet. And then 10:30, lights out. We haven't had the lights out before about 10:40 yet because we are usually finishing writing in our journals and such, but we are working on it. But even after we get our lights out, you can hear voices and yells and banging around for a long time! Last night there had to have been noise until at least 11, which is frustrating to hear because you want them to be obedient and you are happy you are, but at the same time you'd like to be a part of the fun!

I am learning a lot! We have really worked on learning to look at our investigators as God would and focus on what God needs them to hear. It sounds simple but is actually really quite tricky. One thing that is good is that both my companion and I are able to think a little deeper than most of the others and have a little better understanding on that part. I think that really helps us be able to look into the investigators needs. We haven't done any teaching yet. We have spent most of yesterday and today working on getting a plan ready for teaching our investigators, which we will start tomorrow. We have two investigators we will teach and will teach one of them five times and one of them only two times over the next week and a half. I am confident in our ability to teach them. And yes, they are fake investigators, so that takes some pressure off. One thing they are really pushing on us too is our purpose as a missionary, which is to invite others to come unto Christ through faith in Jesus Christ, repentence, baptism, and enduring to the end. It is interesting because each teacher or leader we have teaches it a little differently and makes us look at it at a different angle. So that's been interesting to see the different views on it. 

Abby, this will be really funny for you, but there is an Asian kid in our district that reminds me a lot of Anthony! At one point he said that he knows that he is supposed to serve in the Baton Rouge mission because he just really loves black people! And he is on the top bunk and doesn't have a ladder, and it is so funny when he climbs up there because he is so short! Last night he ate like half a jar of cheese dip, and then realized he really shouldn't have done that because he is lactose intolerant! He has said some other hilarious stuff, but I don't want to bore you. What a guy. Another kid in my district is like a bookstore master. He knows everything about that freakin' place. He knows everything they have behind the counter that you have to specifically ask for to buy and everything they sell off the shelf and everything in between. In two days he spent almost $30 bucks at that place, and everything is super cheep there so that is quite the accomplishment. Speaking of cheap stuff at the bookstore, they have the exact same shoulder back that I have, and they have it for $58. If you remember, I spent over $100 on mine! Freakin' rip off.

One last thing, I have seen Elder Coleman Merrill, my friend from track camp friend from Lubbock, two or three times now. Today he told my me that when we fly into Lubbock not to get discouraged because it is just awfully ugly! So that was a nice pick-me-up.... And one last thing about A-Gor, he is getting chunky. He says he's gained 10 pounds but I don't think he's weighed himself in a while. He is going to get huge in Italy!

Well that's all for this week! I have P-Day on Friday so I will have one more here at the MTC before I leave!
I will hopefully send some pics in a separate email...

LOL (lots of love),
Elder Ericson

Pictures on the day of Reed's farewell - 10/19/2014


Bryce, Maren, Reed, Bryce E. Kevin, Doug, FR: Elsina, Abby, Bethany, Malea, Angeles, Grandma, Grandpa

Boise, Idaho Temple 10-11-2014gran

Grandpa, Grandma, Reed, (mom) Katy & (dad) Carl

1 + 1 = 2 people wondering "What are you doing?"