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