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