Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Week!


December 28, 2015

Hello my good friends and family! Well, I successfully made it through the week without dying. Which is a real concern for the people of West Texas right now! As you know, we had transfer calls on Saturday and I will be staying in San Angelo but will be receiving a new companion named Elder Andrus! However, West Texas is basically shut down right now. Apparently Amarillo got something like 4 feet of snow and Lubbock got something like 3 feet of snow. Don't know how legit that is, but I guess you could Google it. They say that New Mexico is in a "State of Emergency" and Lubbock is in a "State of Disaster". Or vise a versa. Whatever way around it is. However, I am down here in San Angelo where we got some gnarly weather yesterday that has left us with a little bit of slush and wet roads, which has shut the city down basically. hahaha Texans crack me up. We have sacrament meeting last for our ward and they sent us home after the sacrament was passed yesterday! Gotta love it! So while the rest of the mission is shut down this week we will continue on with our missionary work in our "old" companionships down here in San Angelo. Maybe one of these days we will get everyone shipped to where they belong. Its kind of a bummer though. Everyone else is getting sweet mission stories right now of being shut in by a blizzard in West Texas and the only story I get is doing missionary work with wet ground. Oh well, at least we get to work this week unlike everyone else! We at least have something to do! We shall see how the weather plays out for us in the coming days!



We had a sweet Christmas week! On Tuesday we took the trek over to Midland for the second annual Jingle Jam!!!!! It was a grand time! Holy cow! So much fun!!!!! The Jingle Jam is in three sections: Talent show, lunch, and then chapel talent/movie. The second I walked into the gym I was swarmed by people asking me to do something for the talent show. Elder Stringham came up to me and asked me to do a dance or something because not too many people were on the program and apparently the north half of the mission had a pretty boring talent show. So, I didn't have anything to do and couldn't come up with anything so I sat there content with not doing anything and was planning on just enjoying the show. Well, about halfway through the talent show they threw together a beat-boxing competition to get the energy level up since it was kind of dying out. Elder Stringham took over as the emcee because the normal emcee was in the competition. We got down to the final two beat-boxers and they told Elder Stringham that he needed to dance to the beats. So I yelled "DO IT ELDER STRINGHAM!!!!! DO IT!!!" and he responded by summoning me into a dance battle against him! Hahaha so after gathering a crew for myself and Elder Stringham gathering his crew we went at it! It was your typical father/son dance battle in front of 100 missionaries! In the end, after busting a few moves, Elder Stringham basically won because my name tag had flown off and he did a ceremonial "drop the tag" in front of me to end the battle. So, I think I lost...... but its hard to say. They never declared a winner. So we'll say it was a tie! Lunch time was beast! The Odessa 2nd Ward Relief Society always comes up big! I sat with all my Odessa peeps and some others and it was a good time. I miss my Odessa boys! They were a lot of fun to serve with and it was good to be reunited with them! Once we went to the chapel the performances started. Little did we know, the San Angelo zone had been signed up to sing "Angels We Have Heard On High". So we all found out that we were doing so when they announced it.... so it was a fail. We didn't practice at all, but taking that into consideration we didn't do too bad, I guess! And then after all the music we watched "Its A Wonderful Life". It was interesting at first and we were all severely confused, but we got it all straight and it ended up being a wonderful movie to feel the Christmas spirit! After the movie, President Heap blew my mind with some Christmas facts/information and then we had a good long mingle session before we all departed to our different areas! It was such a good time though! I'm going to miss the Jingle Jam next year!



Then the day after the Jingle Jam was pretty sweet too, kind of. After a regular day of work I embarked on an intense journey of 4 consecutive baptismal interviews! They were for Sarah (1st South's investigator) and her three kids. Sarah's interview was LEGIT! She is so fantastic! So prepared by the Lord and the gospel has had such a profound influence on her life! It was such a blessing to be the one to conduct her interview and hear her testimony and share with her a few words as well! Holy cow! What a blessing! Then her three kids were definitely interesting. The first one was her 10 year old daughter. That was regular. Besides the fact that I had to basically teach her all of the commandments. Then I interviewed the 11 year old son. That was actually an awesome interview. I got to see how big of an impact this has had on an 11 year old boy who is crazy and wild. But during the interview I had a couple pretty tender moments with the kid. He has been impacted so largely and positively by being taught by us missionaries! However, I had to teach him all the commandments just like his sister. And then after him I interviewed the 9 year old daughter who has ADHD. So, after 3 interviews I was getting pretty wiped out and then I had to interview another young girl with ADHD..... holy smokes. That was a patience tester. Plus, I had to, once again, teach her all the commandments basically. So, after well over an hour of interviews I was exhausted!!! But it was worth it! It was such a pleasure to be a part of their road to baptism and I am thankful to have been able to sit down with all of them and converse with them about it all! They were baptized a few days later on the 26th of December and it was a wonderful service! They had so many people there for the service and many many more wanted to come but were out of town for the holidays! Elder Cooper and Mangum did a dang good job with getting them involved with the ward and so many people are friends with them already! And then yesterday they were all confirmed in Sacrament Meeting (before they sent us home) and that was an amazing thing to be a part of as well as Sarah asked me and my companion to stand in for that! Once again, just like 4 interviews in a row, 4 confirmations was quite the feat as well. Brother Malit from the ward confirmed all 4 of them and I can't imagine what a blessing that was for him! Overall, it was an amazing experience to be a part of everything for Sara, Jonathan, Kathleen, and Julia!



Christmas was pretty good too! On Christmas Eve we were with Elder Mangum and Cooper playing Risk at about 9:00 when we decided we were just going to have a Christmas sleepover! So we went to our place and picked up all the stuff we needed and our Christmas packages and went and finished our game of Risk and went to bed. Then on Christmas morning we all woke up and placed the tiny little Christmas tree in the middle of the room and placed our presents under it and went to town opening them! It was so fun! We all felt like little children again! I am glad we did it with Cooper and Mangum too! That made it all that much better. They are the best! For Christmas breakfast we went to the Lunkley's for some crepes and then skyped at their place as well! Always a good time seeing the fam! However, after we skyped we were stuck at their place for another few hours because the other missionaries were here and there so we just sat and waited for them and then finally had Bro Lunkley take us home after 6 hours at their place. We are only supposed to be in a home for 3 hours, but they wanted us there more than they wanted us out so it worked out! Kind of frustrating though because we just had some miscommunication with the other elders. Then we went to dinner with the Crespo family. That was nice. Interesting, but nice. We left there by about 6:30 and then went and I laid on my bed and turned on some tunes and jammed out for like an hour and looked at some pictures and basically almost fell asleep. It was quite nice!



Other than Christmas festivities we actually were able to get some decent work in! We have been meeting with this old guy named Sam for a couple weeks and he is just your typical old lonely man who can't really grasp things real well. However he's coming along slowly. We've also been working with a couple others but nobody is coming along super well at the moment. Mac didn't get baptized this week obviously. He still has a ways to go. But his wife said that he is willing to set another date to work towards so he is just keeping the faith! The work this week should be interesting with it supposed to be transfer week but transfers not happening. So we shall see how it all plays out and see what work we can get done! But me and Elder Schroeder will be able to tear it up together for another few days! Also, funny note, Elder Schroeder is getting transferred all the way over the San Angelo 2nd South! Haha he is still going to be in my district so I will be able to bring him over for exchanges and tear it up with him in 1st North again!



Anyway, I hope y'all had an enjoyable Christmas week! I sure did! May the Lord continue to bless y'all in your many endeavors! God bless y'all!



With much love,

Elder Reed Ericson

Friday, December 25, 2015

Birthday Week!


Birthday Week!

December 21, 2015

Hello my friends! I know, I know... last week I said that I wasn't going to have p-day until Tuesday this week, but that was just a big miscommunication between the leadership so here I am on regular p-day! Boy oh boy, this past week was something else, I'll tell ya that much. Definitely had its ups and downs! And more specifically, started with ups and ended with downs.

 

The week started off well with a pretty rad district meeting on Tuesday. I pretty much just did tons of role plays/practice throughout. We I have a really young district and I realized that one skill that they need to learn early to benefit the rest of their mission is finding and more specifically just normal street contacting. I felt like the skill level in that aspect was a little low so I raked them over the coals with role plays and practice! It was a good time. I compared finding people to building a fire. Super cheesy, I know. But it worked. To build a fire you need some good logs (approach), some kindling (thought-provoking question), and then a spark (teaching/testifying) to ignite a raging fire! It isn't the best analogy, but it was the best I could think of. After district meeting we went on exchanges and so I went and tore up our area with Elder Mangum! Elder Mangum is the BEST!!!! He is such a beast missionary and such a good time! At the beginning of the exchange as we were biking away from our apartment he asked, "What do you want to work on today?" and I just replied "I just want to go to work!". And that is precisely what we did! We met some wonderfully pleasant people and ended up spending the entire afternoon in one area talking to so many people and having good conversations! Elder Mangum is the master at finding and just has a way of using the spirit of discernment to know what to say to people and what questions to ask. I don't know how he does it, but every person he talks to actually listens to us to a certain degree, which is insane. It was a good time. Lots of killer work to help our area out quite a bit! And then on Wednesday morning at 8:30 we went and raked and bagged 21 bags of leaves for someone! Holy cow, that was quite the chore for the two of us! It took us a good 2-2.5 hours to get done but we conquered! My hamstrings were shot however after our bagging all those leaves with our super effective bagging technique. Super effective, but not the most comfortable. Super solid exchange though. Probs one of the best I've been on!

 
With that exchange and all, we were tearing it up early in the week through Thursday. Lots of stuff going for us. Meeting lots of people, having some good lessons, making some good progress in our area, BUT THEN......... it hit. Everybody was dropping like flies. I woke up Friday morning and between the hours of 7am-9am I went from feeling fantastic to throwing-up. Turns out, Elder Mangum got hit as well at about 6am so me and Elder Mangum spent another day together wallowing in despair while our companions spent another day together. By early afternoon I had yacked three times and had it coming from both ends. And along with that my legs were super achy, my back hurt from lying in bed, my head hurt, and I was just super super fatigued. Elder Mangum was just as bad but wasn't yacking anymore. He got all his done with before he came over to hang with me. It was difficult to sleep because of the pain and chills and so I just basically laid there super uncomfortably all day long. I found out that the couch has more back support than my bed so I decided to sleep on the couch (don't worry, its a straight shot from my comps bed outside the door) and figured that along with taking some Nyquil would do the trick for me to have a good night. Well, by 1am the effects of the Nyquil were long gone so I woke up and was super uncomfortable, so eventually I got up to go to the bathroom and threw up again while sitting on the toilet. And then I had a repeat situation at about 5am. After that I took some more Nyquil and moved to my bed where I slept peacefully until about 10am minus waking up to the 6:30 alarm. I felt a little better on Saturday, which happened to be my birthday, but was still super tired and nauseous so we spent another day inside. I probably would have been able to make some visits if it wouldn't have been for having to either walk or bike to get places. So that pretty much put us in for the day. I was able to get some good sleep and rest however. I was able to make it out to our dinner appointment though, and that was legit. I didn't eat very much, but they understood. However, Elder Mangum tried to be a champ and power it down and it cost him big time as he was about to lose it for the next hour or so! Hahaha he was dying! He didn't mention it until we left but I could see it on his face! I felt bad, but I also thought it was funny!
We had dinner with the Peterson's and they are super legit! They are a young couple and he is a white boy from Idaho and she is from Sri Lanka! No joke! I have never met a Sri Lankan before until the other night! She is the funniest thing ever though! They had a Sri Lankan wedding in Vegas when they got married and they showed us the photo album of their wedding and it looked like the coolest thing EVER! Anyway, back to my sickness, I thought I felt good to go on Sunday, but then the longer church went on the more I had to second guess myself. Right before sacrament meeting (we have it last) I told Elder Schroeder that I didn't think I was going to be able to make it a go. So I stayed in again Sunday afternoon and got some more rest and felt better last night, but we had to get some weekly planning done since we didn't get it done on Friday. So that made three days in a row without going out to work. Which made our super awesome week into an ok week. Dang. I feel pretty good today though. Not 100% but pretty good. I told myself that I was never going to miss a full day of work unless I was super super sick, but then Friday did me in and then I just didn't feel up to biking/walking a round trip of probably 5 miles to make just a visit or two.

 
On the bright side, I think I lost some weight. The pants that I am wearing today usually have a nice snug fit to them and the second notch on the belt us usually perfect for a nice snug fit as well. But they are a little looser today than usual. And I think I may have lost a bit of chub from my face. So that's perfect timing because we have the Jingle Jam tomorrow and then a wonderful video chat with the fam on Christmas! So I will look slim and trim hopefully! Now I just have to keep it off!

 
Hmmmm, well, I'm 20 years old now. So that's cool. My birthday was a little uneventful so that blows but it could have been worse. I feel the exact same as I did when I was 19 so that's whatever. Maybe 21 will bring a new feeling of age and maturity. We shall see.

 
We may or may not have a baptism on Saturday. Its very largely up in the air. Mac is still going but its a long story. We are hopeful, but you never know with that situation. Also, Chase and Melody, who came to church my first week here, should be back in town today, so hopefully we can pick up where we left off with them. They were pretty solid. And then we have a number of other people who are pretty sweet who we've only taught maybe once so hopefully we can have the opportunity to teach them during this busy week!

 
Y'all are wonderful! Thank you for all the birthday and Christmas love you have sent my way! Keep the faith and fight the good fight!

 
With all my love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Christmas Spirit is Kicking In!


December 14, 2015


Well hello my good friends! What a week its been down here in San Angelo, Texas! Its truly a wonderful experience to be alive during this Christmas season, isn't it!

Our week was pretty busy! To start off, we had interviews with good ol' President Heap on Wednesday morning! When we got there we sat down and I had a nice chat with Elder Stringham and Elder Young (you don't know him) about the one and only Sweetwater! All three of us served there for no less than 3 transfers so we all knew the place pretty well and knew lots of people. It was a fun chat being able to ponder the early days of my missionary service in possibly the most dear area to my heart! Man, nothing beats that place! Both me and Elder Stringham would love to go back there because we would do things so much differently now! We had no clue what we were doing but dang did we work hard day in and day out! And then Elder Cardon and myself obviously didn't have a clue what we were doing because we started off with a total of 3 months of experience between us. Anyway, my interview was alright. Nothing too special. We talked about the struggle to find people (which I feel is pretty typical for us state-side missionaries) and also about how God knows exactly what we are doing so there is no need to worry why the work isn't booming when you feel like you are putting forth effort to work hard and improve. It was a good chat. Nothing beats a nice conversation with Pres.

We actually did quite a bit of teaching this week! We shared a sweet Christmas message with a media referral named Gloria who ended up wanting a Book of Mormon, so that looks promising moving forward. We taught our good friend Hector a couple times. We were also able to teach the 3 baptism age children of Sarah who is being taught by the other set of elders and they will all be baptized on the 26th! That was a fun lesson teaching 3 kids.... hahaha we made it through! We taught the Plan of Salvation to them, and by we I mean I mostly did. Teaching 3 talkative kids is pretty difficult to try to manage with two different people trying to teach. So, I took that one and holy smokes, I had to pull out all the teaching skills and working with kids skills. Wow. We had some good laughs though. We had a couple members who are the primary teachers for them there with us teaching them and we'd make eye contact trying not to die laughing like every 2 minutes! Oh man, I love kiddos. They are such a hoot! We taught 3 lessons the day we taught the kids! I hadn't taught that many lessons in one day in MONTHS! It was actually pretty dang exhausting! I went to bed pooped out that night! 

 But, the most intense teaching for the week was with good ol' Mac! Holy cow!!!! Our lesson on Thursday was intense! Let me tell you a little more about Mac. He has been going to church for about 50 years now. He has made a lot of progress lately in actually diligently and sincerely looking for an answer. But, he just doesn't know how to feel the spirit. Yes, for most of you you'd think this would be easy to help him with. But you have never met Mac. But everything lately has been leading everyone to the knowledge that he needs to get baptized off of faith that things are going to work out for him and that he'll "receive his answer" after he is baptized. Everything is pointing towards it needing to happen like that. EVERYTHING. So, we read some sweet scripture with him on Thursday and had like a 2 hour lesson with his wife there finally. And after all that, apparently he said some pretty interesting/good things in his prayer that night that we were told privately, so I cannot tell you. His wife, who has been having stress and anxiety about him getting baptized for years said that she has felt at peace after that lesson about everything. But then, on Saturday we went over again, and it seemed like it had all died off. Ugh. The missionary life. It is just full of ups and downs. Apparently when Mac gets baptized his service will be held with a full chapel filled up with people! I feel pretty hopeful that it'll happen soon though. There are so many other things that are just pointing towards a fairytale story unfolding in front of us soon! I just keep praying hard for it to happen!

 Some other amazing news.... BLUE BELL IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So yeah, Blue Bell is back! Blue Bell, for those of you who don't know, is like the best ice cream on the planet that is only sold in selected places in the United States. It took forever to get over here to West Texas because they got it into all the bigger cities first, and the entire Western half of Texas has like 10 people in it so it took forever. So naturally I bought a 1/2 gallon tub of Cookies n' Cream today! They don't have all their flavors rolled out yet though so flavors were limited to maybe 6 or so flavors. Which is nothing compared to their normal array of flavors. Blue Bell is like a religion down here. Heck, I have pondered practicing Blue Bellism. Its one of those things where you can practice both Mormonism and Blue Bellism because all Blue Bellism requires of you is to eat a lot of Blue Bell ice cream. Which, that is kind of contrary to the word of wisdom so I'm not sure if I could practice Mormonism fully because I would be not following the principle of the word of wisdom to the "T".... but I'll figure it out.

Speaking of food, I had fried catfish last week. Dang good stuff. I ain't one to enjoy fish but I totally dug that stuff.

Also, one last note, which I'm sure the fam will be made aware of soon... but p-day won't be until Tuesday next week because we will be having the SECOND ANNUAL JINGLE JAM on Monday!!!!!!!!! I LOVE THE JINGLE JAM! I am so pumped! So yeah, I'll fill you in about that next week!

Well I hope y'all have an amazing week full of the spirit of Christmas this week! Its weird to thing that I will be 20 years old by the end of the week! Life is just flying by! God bless y'all!!!

 With much love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, December 7, 2015

Feelin' The Christmas Spirit


December 7, 2015


Why hello my friends! Another week down here in San Angelo, TX! The weeks keep on flying by and the months are flying by too! It felt like the couple months before my year mark went a little slow but its true that once you get over the hump you just go cruising right down a hill! Its kind of freaking me out a little bit.

 
Anyway, it was an alright week down here. Nothing too special going on. Just the regular stuff. But I have thought about a few things this week that were pretty sweet. So, let me begin. As we were out doing our thing on Thursday-ish morning I started to think about the true joy of missionary work. And I realized that it is just being a light. I have found that the true joy of this work is being able to talk to people and bring a feeling of joy to them. I love when I have an opportunity to visit with someone and just talk to them about who knows what when you know that they need someone to just talk to. For example, this past week we had two examples of such service. Earlier in the week we stopped by Grandma Cats house. She let us in and we spent about 15 minutes of our day talking to her about her holidays and her family, and then also her cats. She took us on a tour through her very cluttery house and showed us all the hundreds of hundreds of cats she had decorating her house. This is a lady who has lived by herself for nearly 20 years now and I could feel a sense of joy coming from her just because of the fact that two young men visited her and put a smile on her face. Did we teach her or share anything with her? No. But those were 15 minutes of our 8 hours of proselyting that were more than well used to be a light in someone's day. Another example was from Saturday. On Thursday evening we went and visited a man named Hector and, well.... he was super drunk but we taught him anyway. Super hilarious visit. We were having a good time with him! Anyway, we went back Saturday afternoon and he hadn't started drinking yet and was sober. Right from the get-go you could tell that he was just down in the dumps and it was pretty evident that that is his whole life. He lives alone, and his mother and him just fight every day. So, we sat there and talked to him for about an hour about this and that, made him laugh a few times, and were his friend and a light in his life. After about an hour we shared the Restoration with him and he definitely understood it a lot more than the previous time a couple night earlier. So that was good. But, a lot of missionaries would consider that a waste of time to sit and talk to this man for an hour before teaching him. But, I felt much satisfaction and knew I did my part as a disciple of Jesus Christ by taking some extra time to be a light in his life. I see a lot of missionaries that are too focused on the work that forget to stop and take a minute to think about what this is all about. Its a ministry, not a business. And I know that my mission has been the amazing experience it has been because I've focused on being a light in people's life. So, that is what I have had on my mind this week and realized that is the reason for this experience being so wonderful!

 
Anyway, another thing that has been prevalent to me this week is very simply the New Testament and how it just shows that the church is true! Good heavens! I feel like every day during personal study I read scripture after scripture in the New Testament that are just right on! My goodness. The Epistles of Paul just preach to the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! Having a knowledge of the restored gospel also is a big part in being able to understand what is being taught by Paul. There are doctrines that he teaches that are clear to me because of what I have been taught about them previously and so those scriptures only confirm what I have been taught! Ugh, its so dang good. I have a cow every day during companionship study going on about what I read concerning the Epistles of Paul! Its a good time.

 
We were able to attend the San Angelo 1st Ward Christmas Party on Saturday morning! It seems like most of the wards down here are going to morning breakfast parties instead of the evening ham dinners. Both Odessa wards were doing that and it seems like that is the trend in San Angelo as well! It was pretty awesome because it was something different than the same old same old ward Christmas party that we've all been to a million times! I definitely wish I could have been at the Odessa 2nd Ward Christmas party this year because this ward is just so dang big that we were just kind of there. In Odessa we would have been a part of the party! But I can't complain. It was an hour and a half on a Saturday morning and I got free breakfast that was actually pretty dang good. But that's something to think about for anyone who is a part of a ward council for the coming years... a morning ward Christmas party with breakfast and pajamas!
 

Also, another random note. I realized that my legs were getting big again this week. I have been having a little bit more difficult time with my slim fit suit pants and also I realized that I can power up hills like a champ again like I did in Sweetwater. Biking in Odessa wasn't quite the same leg building exercise because it doesn't take much effort to bike on extremely flat terrain. So, that's both a plus and a negative. A plus because I am getting stronger legs but a negative because my suit pants are getting a more restricting in the quads when I sit down or tie my shoe or lift my leg up for anything. We'll see what the future holds for my legs and my pants.

 
We were able to teach a few lessons this week. We continue to visit with our eternigator Mac. He is pretty much just on his own timing now. There really isn't much we can do to help him out besides be there to help answer his questions from what he read in the Book of Mormon and discuss things. His teaching record is like, way too long. Like, it shouldn't even be allowed for one person to be taught as much as he has. We also were able to teach Hector, who I mentioned earlier. Our first lesson he was super drunk so it was just a hoot and a half talking with him and joking around with him. And he obviously didn't recall anything or understand anything so we just taught him the same thing a couple days later and it was actually a pretty good simple lesson. Hopefully we can keep catching him at sober times and that he'll actually have the ability to comprehend things. He is a super nice fella and he needs some hope! We also went over to take the sacrament to this old guy in the ward that hasn't been to church in a while because of some health stuff. I think he is forgotten about by the ward so we took the initiative to get it approved by the bishop to take the sacrament to him after he mentioned that it would be nice earlier in the week to us. Also, this dude is a convert of about 10 years after a long time visiting with the missionaries. So, we walk into his house and he had a dang cigarette in his hand! So, no sacrament for you Brother Bobby! But we just talked to him and shared a scripture with him that led to another scripture that then let to yet another scripture and so on. Then after like 6 scriptures I put them all together for one super simple powerful message! And right after this he had a few friends/family show up and he let them in and said, "Sit down. These boys are warm!" and told us to continue! Not wanting to add even more scriptures to this already long line of scriptures we pretty much just reviewed everything and then left. The message really seemed to hit him hard though and help him out! He mentioned how powerful it was and how it really got him thinking about things! So that was sweet!

 
Well, I best be closing this puppy up! But I love y'all and hope y'all have a wonderful week as we get hot and heavy into this Christmas season! And if you haven't seen it already check out the secondary Christmas video! I'm sure everyone and their dog have seen the "A Savior is Born" but go to christmas.mormon.org and scroll down and watch "A World Without a Savior"! I think that it is way better than the other one and more powerful! Definitely gets you thinking! That has been the video that we've been sharing with people over the main video and have had a lot of good discussions with people about the topic!

 With all my love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Fun!


November 30, 2015

Well hello my good friends and family! What a fun Thanksgiving week it has been for us all!

So yes, Thanksgiving in San Angelo, TX was super tight! We started off the day with an awesome Turkey Bowl football game! It was pretty crazy. Lots of people, small field. But then some of us split off and played with some random dudes that came in a small group that are just visiting here from Lubbock. That was a fun game though too! It was good to get out and play a little pig-skin! I learned that I am really slow. Still faster than everyone else out there playing, but slow. I was trying to run but I just have no pop in my step anymore! My strides are a lot shorter than they used to I think. I feel like my legs are moving fast but I just ain't covering as much ground. So, that's depressing. Anyway, after our fun game of football we went over to the place of the other elder's in our ward and cleaned up a bit and played some Mormon Risk. Hahaha Elder Mangum crossed out all the nation names and renamed them with scriptural places! And then he named all the nations of troops different scriptural groups. So that threw a twist on it. Not really, it was the exact same thing.... but it was fun. Anyway, after I had basically destroyed my own army by myself................ yes, I am so terrible at Risk................ we went and had a plate of food at their neighbors place. They live in a duplex house and their neighbors across the wall wanted to feed us. So we went over at 12:30 and ate a plate. It was alright. But then, and 2:00 we went to the Lunkley's (he's the elders quorum president) with our ward elders and the Spanish elders and had a pig out! Holy camolie! They spoiled us! They had more delicious food than I've ever seen in my life! They had two dang good hams, a turkey, some amazing funeral potato type stuff, insane rolls, some orange jello stuff that was off the chain, and just everything you could ever think of. Plus, on top of that, they gave us each our own bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider! Oh man, it was a dang good time. So much deliciousness and so many laughs. I was definitely taken care of for Thanksgiving this year! And then after spending a few hours at the Lunkley's we went home with the other elders and me and Elder Cooper took a nap while the other 4 elders played Risk. And then we finished the night off at the Mauer's house (some older couple in the ward) for a chess tournament. Well, I thought I was going to win my first game of chess ever. But, Elder Cooper (who is TERRIBLE at chess) kept on barely escaping me and somehow came back to beat me. Sad day. And then he beat me again like 15 minutes later but I didn't even try that time around. I was more focused on my small plate of thanksgiving scraps that I was eating. So, I am still winless at chess.

 
Also, update on the basketball skills. I suck. I went on a tear for a few weeks but I have officially lost all skill. We played last p-day and I was terrible and then we play with the elder's quorum on Saturday mornings and I played terrible again. After going on a 3-point shooting tear I now can't shoot a 3 for the life of me. So, just an update on that. Thought you might be interested.

 
Wednesday through Saturday though (minus Thursday) was basically terrible, however. I don't even know how many miles we walked. It got rainy on Thanksgiving and then on Friday it got cold along with the wetness. So Friday and Saturday were near miserable. We didn't have any lessons with our investigators because they were all gone/busy with Thanksgiving and trying by former investigators has been a bust so we just walked and talked to the zero people that were outside and knocked on some doors to at least talk to someone. However, nobody answered their doors for us. We did talk to one dude on Saturday afternoon for about 30 minutes, but it was in his doorway. He was standing in the door frame and we were outside. And it was cold so I don't know why he didn't let us in to talk. Oh well. He was about the only person we talked to from Wednesday through Saturday for more than 10 seconds. So my legs have taken a major hit this past week. We would take breaks though and sit on park benches or something every hour or so to let our legs take a break. Those actually help a lot! But despite the leg and foot pain we had a good time and kept good spirits! We were able to laugh and have a good time together which made the hours go by faster! So that's a plus. It really wasn't all too miserable. I'm ready for this cold front to get out of here though. Things won't be as bad.

 
Things picked up for us a teensy little bit yesterday. We taught our first lesson of the week! A member invited a friend of his to church and his friend came and then we went over and shared a lesson with him at the member’s house later in the afternoon. However, this friend of his is kinda nuts. He seems pretty fried from drugs and stuff. I don't think he understood a single thing from our lesson. And he just became nearly homeless and doesn't have a job or anything so who knows how long we'll be able to meet with him. But hey, I'll take a lesson with anybody over walking for another hour any day!
 

Oh, I just remembered someone that we met on Wednesday that was really interesting. So we walked past this house and it had tons of cat stuff in front of the house. So, naturally, being the type to always knock on the interesting looking houses that have potential for a good time talking to someone weird, I went and knocked on that door and a 92 year old lady answered and said, "Are you who I think you are?" and then reached up and grabbed a very old looking book from a shelf right next to the door. This book, coincidentally, is copy of the Book of Mormon from the year 1920! Inside of it was written the name of the missionary who gave the book to her and a small note, and then also a little note with the names of some missionaries that ran into her a couple years ago! So we talked to her for a few minutes and wrote our names on the note along with the other missionaries’ names from a couple years ago! She said that she's read the whole book but she never joined the church or anything. So we told her we would come back and visit her again sometime! She told us that people call her Grandma Cats so that is what I'm planning on calling her! I think she gets a thrill out of being called Grandma Cats!
 
Anyway, that will be all for me this week! I hope y'all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday and hope you have a wonderful week as we continue on into the Christmas holiday season! I love you mucho!
 
With much love,
Elder Reed Ericson 


West Texas is so bizarre. This is a catfish head fence. I don't even know. We just ran across it while on exchanges.

Found this bull wondering around San Angelo. So I tamed it and posed for a couple of pics with it!


Monday, November 23, 2015

Tearin' Up San Angelo


November 23, 2015

Well hello my good friends! It has been a fun week of new stuff for me down here in the great Texas Lubbock Mission! Its always an adventure getting used to a new area and all the fun that comes with that!



I will first begin with before I left Odessa. I hit money this time around getting to see all the people I wanted to see! Unlike Lubbock where I struck out! But Monday night was fantastic! We went and had dinner with the Noyes and after which I shared a sweet scripture with them that led to an intense discussion between Bro Noyes, Spencer (their nephew), myself, and then Tayton trying to follow along! We went off on the topics of creation, time, elements, eternity, the last days, etc. Haha nobody was able to follow it besides us so there was a side conversation that started between the rest of them. But, that was one of the sickest conversations I have had in a long time! It was a dang good time! I'm going to miss the Noyes family! They were so good to me. I think they are now second on my list of houses that I have spent the most time at behind the one and only Weldy's from Sweetwater! But that's because I had an extra 6 weeks with the Weldy's. We had some powerful lessons in their home teaching Mark and shared some wonderful dinner table moments with them! Good peeps. It was a rough goodbye saying goodbye to Odessa! Even harder than that was saying goodbye to Elder Despain! Nothing is like leaving your son in the hands of another person to take care of them and groom them! He will do good though! He has the potential to be a total rockstar! I am expecting great things from him! Pulling out of the apartment complex though was pretty terrible. I almost broke down but I kept it together like a man! I had some dang good times in Odessa!



San Angelo is pretty nice though! There are a lot more trees and hills than I've seen in a long time! Sweetwater was about as hilly as this place but the trees are more bountiful here! I actually saw my first river in over a year this past week! The Concho River runs right through our area! YEAH!!! Its getting low though so it may not be around for too much longer:( But I have actually gotten a bit of a leg workout biking around this place with all the hills! And by hills I mean West Texas hills. They still ain't that big. Oh yeah, I am in a bike area again. Typically only one companionship in a ward has a car if the ward is all city and no major outlying towns. We share the ward with the zone leaders who obviously have a vehicle so we whip around on the bikes! I enjoy it though! However, it is starting to get cold and it is much more difficult to go out and get to all the places you need to be and be productive when its cold. Finding people becomes much more difficult. So we are thinking of ways that we can combat that as a zone. We shall conquer. The ward here is HUGE! After serving in two smaller wards this one is a drastic difference! There are SO many people! Its a typical Idaho/Utah ward! And a lot of the people in the ward are young Air Force couples that are stationed here for a short time. But then again there are a lot of older people and others too. There is just a lot of them so you get a little bit of everything! It is a fun ward though! Elder Cooper who was in Odessa 2nd Ward with me is in the San Angelo 1st Ward with me now and it seems like he still like Odessa 2nd Ward more but talks this ward up a lot too! And I have met some really cool people and had a pleasant time at church yesterday so I am excited to be here!



My companion, Elder Shroeder is pretty beast. This is only his third transfer but he seems like he's a seasoned vet. Super mature but super funny and goofy too! We've been having a dang good time! Its been fun though because he still has a lot to learn and he already seems to be learning a lot from me and how I do different things! It will be fun to watch him grow! He is from Sandy, Utah which is no surprise. You just can't run away from them missionaries from Utah! He is also very closely related to someone extremely famous and awesome but I will keep that on the down low for now.... so you'll have to wait to figure that one out. Hehe. I don't think he likes tons of people knowing, so maybe I'll tell you when I get home in 11 months!



We have some sweet people we are working with down here. We have a man named Mac who is 80 years old and married to a member. He has been meeting with missionaries for YEARS but accepted a baptismal date for the first time a couple weeks ago! Apparently he is sincerely looking for answers for the first time now as well. We had a good lesson with him my second day here and it was pretty dang good! I don't think he had heard some of the stuff we threw at him and it seemed to really help him understand what he's looking for. So hopefully he continues to make progress! I also taught my first lesson to this couple named Chase and Melody. They came to church on Sunday for like their fifth time, however we just taught them their second official lesson. So I don't really know how that all lines up. But whatevs. We taught a killer Plan of Salvation. I hadn't taught that for months so it was fun to teach a real powerful Plan of Salvation to them! They are pretty solid. They will be out of town both Saturdays that we were shooting for their baptism but they accepted the invitation to prepare for the 26th of December! So we'll keep making progress with them! I also have gotten into some sweet doctrinal discussions with some peeps out there in the streets of San Angelo. It's kinda annoying actually. You just can't get through to some people. I have been thinking about how I can have good conversations but keep it from getting into a doctrinal discussion that doesn't go anywhere. Its funny though, there is always a moment or two where something that we say hits them and you can tell they feel something, but they just don't know how to react to it. Its frustrating when people don't understand the spirit. But whatevs.



Also, Elder Preisler from Melba is in my district! He's a good kid and loves just going out and talking to people on the streets! He was on my basketball team our first morning here (he is fresh out of the MTC) and we tore it up! Not gonna lie, I have been tearing it up. Last Monday was sick and then we played only one time this week and I continued my fire. I have been dropping bombs on people. Like, pulling up right in their face and dropping deep 3's on them and then I have been improving getting to the rim and finishing with the defense right there...  something that I was never able to do in high school! Dang, I've been consistently making sick shots. I've been shooting probably well over 50% on my 3's and they ain't the wide open type! Dang, I'm so good. Jk. I'm not that good. But then again, I am. Not nearly as good as Elder Despain though. That kid can ball up like crazy. Like, he's whacko good. He can hit a shot from anywhere within 10 feet of the 3 point line like its nothing. That kid..... I'm tellin' ya. Dang good.



Anyway, its a pleasure to be in San Angelo! I am expecting the work to be pretty good here! Still probably much much slower than a lot of places around the world but faster than Lubbock, Texas and Odessa, Texas! So it should be a good time! We shall see how it all unfolds! But I am happy to be here!



I love y'all and hope y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am excited for double Thanksgiving meals! Holler. Enjoy the company of family and friends and may the Lord's presence always be with you as you share those wonderful moments with each other!



Lots of Love,

Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, November 16, 2015

Peace Out O-Town


November 16, 2015

Well, this week has been a whirlwind for me! Lots of stuff happened!

To start off, yes I will be leaving Odessa tomorrow afternoon and will be going to San Angelo and serving in the 1st Ward with Elder Schroeder who has just finished his training! So he is fairly new. I have heard good things about San Angelo! It is actually green and has some trees and actually has a couple small rivers flowing through it! I haven't seen one of those in a year! And I hear the people are really nice there. So it should be good. However, I am kinda/really ticked about leaving Odessa. G-whiz I love Odessa now! More specifically I am going to miss the Odessa 2nd Ward! It is my favorite ward that I've served in so far! I have been blessed with some of the best wards! I am kinda bummed too because I really wanted the spend Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas here in Odessa but I will have to roll with what I have.

I think I figured out transfer emotions too. After one transfer you don't really care if you leave or not. After two you would really like to stay to get to know everyone better. After three you are dying to stay because you love the ward and area so much, and then after four transfers you don't really care what happens because you have spent a long time there and you know it’s time to leave, but you love it enough that you wouldn't mind staying another transfer. So, after three transfers in Odessa 2nd East I was just praying I stayed for another transfer.... but the Lord has different plans. And I'm down with whatever the Lord needs me to do so I'm alright! I have had more luck with seeing people to say goodbye however! In Lubbock I struck out. NOBODY was home to say goodbye to! But I haven't missed anyone here! So that’s been nice! There were some not so fun goodbyes but nothing I can't manage. I'm gonna have a hard time tomorrow though with leaving. Leaving your trainee is like getting punched in the stomach. Even though he drove me crazy at times and we weren't necessarily best friends, that one will be interesting. Hahaha Elder Despain last night was pumped to be done with training. I had to stay up late to get some packing done, so he was counting down the minutes until his training was over. We were both still awake in bed at midnight and he yelled, "I'M DONE WITH TRAINING!!!! YEAH!!!!!!" Hahahaha so I reminded him that I'm still senior companion for the next day and a half and that shut him up. Haha jk. He laughed. It was a good one! But, ultimately, I hate getting transferred. It’s so annoying. Like, no joke. You have to say goodbye, pack, then learn a new area, a new ward, a new companion, a new city, a new zone, etc. It’s so annoying, but it’s part of the job!

On Saturday we were able to go to the temple with the Lynch's who are in our ward! It was a good day! I always enjoy the temple and it’s hard not to so that's cool. A cool little note about that.... there was an old lady (probably in her 80's) that was going through for her own endowment! It was super cool to see! She had her oxygen tank and everything with her. It was touching to see someone at the tail-end of their life be able to go and make sacred covenants! It’s never too late! I think she was baptized about a year ago as well (it had to be at least a year) because there were a lot of sister missionaries there that have served in Eastland where the lady is from including a sister that recently finished her mission that came back. So that was a cool thing to see! After the temple we went to Chuy's Tex-Mex Restaurant and ate some dang good food. I got the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom enchilada! It was DANG good. It had some amazing yellowish/green sauce that they were drenched in that was amazing. I thought it was going to be super duper hot but it was just dang good. And here in Texas they are humble enough to call their restaurants "Tex-Mex" and not "Mexican" because they KNOW that they ain't serving authentic Mexican food. Tex-Mex is flipping good though! SO good. But most places they just call them Mexican Restaurants when it ain't really a Mexican restaurant. GO TEXAS!!!!! Texas pride is a real thing too, in case you haven't notices. Its no joke. People here are nuts about this place.

Hahahahaha here's a funny little random note for you. Yesterday was my year anniversary from the day that I threw-up at the Weldy's house one like my second week in Sweetwater! Classic story! Now that I'm over a year out I sometimes read my journal from exactly a year prior and I did that last night and started dying laughing after the first sentence. Oh man, that was a good one. Never gonna forget blowing chunks all over the Weldy's floor and Jace having to clean it up! Hahahahaha!

I was able to ordain Mark yesterday after church! That was awesome! I love doing stuff like that. Its always so powerful conferring the priesthood to someone and blessing them with things to help them grow in the priesthood. I was honored to do it. I also didn't even know that I was doing it until like 2 minutes before! Mark had mentioned Elder Despain doing it last week but he just mistakenly said that because apparently everyone besides Elder Despain and myself knew that I was doing it! It’s nice to be able to have things like that thrown upon you last minute and not even have any worries because you know you got it. Elder Despain was having a cow worrying about it all night and all morning and then he didn't even do it! Hahaha he freaks out whenever he has to lay his hands on someone’s head now because the first person he was part of a blessing for died a few weeks later. But, I was the one to give the actual blessing. Haha he just anointed and I gave the blessing. So now he thinks everyone is going to die that he lays his hands upon! It’s so funny! But he has a good streak going now so he's starting to forget about the fact that he's a killer. Hahaha good times!

Another cool thing from this week, we met and kinda taught a dude named Joseph Smith! We were knocking random doors a few nights ago and we knocked on a door and an old black lady answered and she asked what we were selling. We responded that we were just missionaries and we talk to people about Jesus, and she let us right in because "My husband is sick and hasn't been to church in years! He needs all the Jesus he can get!" hahaha so she just told us to go ahead with our thing, so we taught them the Restoration and all. It was fun. I don't think they have a clue what we really told them but Jesse (the lady) seemed to enjoy it and she just loved us, but her husband was a nutcase. We offered him a blessing and he started going off about how we need to show him proof in that book that Joseph Smith healed people, and he went on about Old Testament this, New Testament that....... I don't even know what he was talking about. He was making no sense. Hahaha. And I don't think he could grasp the concept that the Book of Mormon wasn't a book about Joseph Smith. Oh well, Elder Despain and his new comp get to go over there again! However, here's something cool. Jesse is like, SUPER big into politics. As we were walking out I saw on a table in the doorway a picture of President Obama, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton all together in a picture with a personal note written under it thanking her for all her contributions to the Democratic Party. And she told us that she and Hillary Clinton go WAY back! I think the real shocker here is that I ran across a Democrat in Texas!!!!! They are extremely rare and extremely hard to come across! However, I did it! I found one! She is one in a million down here in Texas!

Well, I'm fixin' to wrap it up for the day. I am so thankful to be out doing His work right now and ever so grateful for the things that the Lord is teaching me every day! I love y'all and hope y'all have a blessed week! Ugh, that's totally a Texan thing to say... "Have a blessed day!". I am wondering what I will sound like when I go back home to Idaho. I hope people like listening to Texan.... cause you're gonna get an earful of it! God bless y'all! Dangit, there goes another one. Whatever. I'm out.

With all my love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, November 9, 2015

Service!


November 9, 2015

Well hello to all of you this fine day! We had an interesting week full of this and that. Seemed a little all over the place but it was good!

To start off, I saw a Gabe look-alike the week before last! I saw the little dog getting walked by its owner and I stopped and asked if it was a Shih Tzu & Lhasa Apso mix and the lady said yes! I have seen a number of look-alikes but they are always either Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso. But this one was spot on! I always know that its not a Gabe because they never have the right tail. They look similar in coloring or face but the tail is never a match. But this little guy had the tail! He was such a fun little guy! I played with him for a minute or two as I conversed with the lady about Gabe and her dog. What fun! Gabe is the best!

Btw, I'm gonna be all over the place this week.

So, I've had so much darn candy this past week and I still have so much left. Its disgusting. I can feel it every day. Unfortunately I don't have enough self-control to not sit down and eat a delicious candy bar. Ugh. On the bright side, I am adding on nicely to my Tootsie Roll and Starburst wrapper chains on my wall! But I am ready to just get over this candy phase and get back to the truly good stuff. I need it. However, I think this candy has helped me lose weight. So thats a plus.

I went on two exchanges this week. One with Elder Nebeker (in my district) and then with Elder Moschetti (my zone leader). So I feel like I did no work in my area this week. They were good exchanges, but it feels unproductive because you aren't in your own area so you feel like your work means nothing! And then you throw on 14 hours of service this week and it seems like we didn't do any work! Most of our work came in the evening after dinner but it gets dark so dang early now so our evening work is super unproductive because nobody wants you going to their house after dark and nobody is outside. However I really enjoy doing service so it was a good week! We did our usual service at the Presidential Archives and the Ellen Noel Art Museum and also helped with painting a members house that they needed painted ASAP. So our days were full with service and activities!

I also read two books this week! I read Gordon B. Hinckley's "Way to Be" in like 2 hours sitting at the Art Museum. It was a pretty good read. Nothing special. But definitely motivating and a good message for a young guy like me trying to figure life out! I also read "Mafia to Mormon" while sitting inside with a sick Elder Jewett in 2.5 hours. It was an amazing conversion story! Probably the best conversion story that I've read or heard on my mission! He was a man who was involved in tons of dishonest dealings and making millions of dollars on scams and under-the-table deals. And then, the missionaries showed up and the rest is history. But even the story with the missionaries was crazy. Dang. Good read. That book is like TV for missionaries!

I had one of the best meals I've had in a LONG time the other night! We had dinner with a member who served his mission in Jamaica so he made us Jamaican Jerk chicken which was like, the best dang chicken I've ever had! He smoked some jerk marinated chicken legs over apple wood I believe and it was just insane chicken. My lips were basically raw from the spice but it was nothing that was difficult to power through! He also made these little fried bread thingies called "festival" or something like that and some rice cooked in coconut milk. Both really really good. And then to top it off he made this Jamaican drink that was to die for! I can't remember what it was called, but I couldn't get enough of it! It was definitely something that I haven't had on my mission and its up there with the best!

Another bit of news. Permian High lost to San Angelo High on Friday. So their undefeated season went down the drain. Oh well. Everyone seems to be distraught about that. Darn it, Permian! They will probably still make it pretty deep into state, but they ain't undefeated no more!

We had a killer lesson with Mark on Monday! We were going to teach the Restoration because we haven't retaught that yet, but we only made it to the second point in the lesson before everyone was crying. They were wanting to listen to the Conversion Story of Bill Carpenter because it is super relatable to Mark, but we went with the Resto instead, but then after we got the tears rolling we decided that the conversion story was perfect for what we were talking about so we diverted from the plan and we listened to that. It was pretty sweet. Maybe one of these days we'll get around to getting a full lesson in before we all turn all soft and mushy. Gosh, I need to work on that. We also had an appointment with Dustin and Rose but Rose had to work that night so we weren't able to visit with them this week, and then the majority of our week was service and me being out of the area on exchanges. However Elder Despain talked to a few people in our area on exchanges that said we could come by again. So hopefully something works out with them.

Well, I need to go finish up some stuff before we head out! But I love y'all! I hope and pray that the Lord will guide you to many wonderful things and experiences this week and continue to lead and guide your lives! He loves YOU! And I do too!

Lots of Love,

Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, November 2, 2015

Party!


November 2, 2015

Well its been a pretty eventful past week down in Odessa, Texas! Full of fun and lots of hard work, which is always satisfying!

First off, I heard some seriously sad news on Friday. I heard that Sis Willie Mae Green from Sweetwater passed away! I will actually tell you the story of what happened. So, a couple months ago I thought that I would write her and Dianne little letters and send them with some pictures and have the missionaries in Sweetwater take it to them. Well, I procrastinated for a while but I finally got it done and sent off. Apparently the elders in Sweetwater got everything in the mail and took it to Sis Green in the hospital either that day or the next and then she passed away within a few days. I can't remember when exactly she passed, it might have been the next day, it may have been a few days. I can't remember. However they said that she LOVED the letter and picture and was so pleased to receive it! It warmed my heart to know that my stuff got there in time and that she found such joy out of it when she was in her last moments of mortality! Ugh, she was the best! I won't ever forget Willie Mae Green! However it is comforting to know that she is taken care of now. She didn't exactly understand everything about the basic doctrines and whatnot, but I am sure her mind has been enlightened and that she is finding great joy in having a full knowledge of the gospel! She was always so worried about going to hell too! Haha it was so funny! We always had to tell her that she was amazing and that she didn't need to worry but she was always just trying her hardest to not "go down there with Satan". I can't wait to sit down and converse with her in the next life!

I learned all this information from the Sweetwater elders at our Mission Tour on Friday. The whole south half of the mission gathered in Midland on Friday and then they did the north half of the mission in Lubbock on Saturday. It was a good meeting! Elder Foster from the Seventy was here to instruct us and teach us. He was pretty good. He talked a lot about getting out mission to where it becomes a "missionaries help members" mission and then went on about something about prayer and this and that. He never really made a solid final point with that one. It was good, but it just never really got hit home. However, I learned a lot from him and am excited with where we should be headed as a mission! He also introduced this new plan that the church has made for the Southwest States area and it will involve a lot of member/missionary interaction and the vision is the have 20 new wards in our mission in a year from now. They will be introducing the plan to the members in a special broadcasted stake conference this coming Sunday and then it will be implemented immediately! I am excited to start working on it! It was funny though, when Elder Foster was instructing about his new plan, people would ask a question and Elder Foster would ask President Heap to answer and he would stand up and go on for a minute, and then call on someone else that had a question and then start to answer that, but then at a point Elder Foster would basically have to cut him off and take over again because it was supposed to be him that was talking about the plan. However I think I learned more from President Heap in his few moments answering questions than the rest of the hour of Elder Foster. It was fun to watch. He just teaches things and explains things so well and it just so captivating when he speaks that when Elder Foster takes over again it just like a snoozer. Ok, not really. I actually enjoyed Elder Foster probably the most out of all the general authorities that have been down here! He was a good guy and had some good stuff that he taught us! Funny thing about him and his wife... so as we departed the chapel for lunch they shook all of our hands and asked us where we were from. They are from Rigby, btw. So when I shook Sister Fosters hand and responded with "Kuna" when she asked me where I was from, she pulled me in closer and said, "I think your school is playing my grandson's football team tonight in the state playoffs" and then gave me a funny competitive look! So I agreed and said "Yeah, I think thats correct" and departed with a "Go Kavemen!" Gotta keep that Kaveman pride going down here in West Texas!

Saturday night was sweetness! We attended the Odessa 2nd Ward Halloween party! Oh man was it a blast or what! Haha I barely recognized some people! Some peeps went all out this year on their costumes! But it was a good night full of awesome people, awesome costumes, and awesome games. In fact, all I heard about leading up to the party was about how the missionaries participated in a couple songs of Just Dance the year before and how it was funny to watch them, and then all I heard about at the party was about how we needed to go and dance........... so I did. And I'm like the coolest missionary to ever go through Odessa 2nd Ward now. No joke. Not really sure if we are allowed to participate in such activities, but it was a great tool for member/missionary relations! Haha! I LOVE the Odessa 2nd Ward though! Such great people! I wouldn't mind staying here a while longer and continue to help the ward out!

Also another cool thing that happened in our area this week was the Permian High vs. Odessa High football game! My goodness that place was packed!!!!! There were SO MANY cars up at Ratliff Stadium! We went "finding" up there for like 30 mins before we went in for the night because the rest of the city was shut down and it was completely dark and nobody likes us after dark. It was sweet. That stadium is insane. Good ol' West Texas high school football! Nothing beats it!

We did a lot of hard work this week in our area, but haven't seen much success. Our investigators Dustin and Rose are reunited now! Dustin just got out of jail on like Wednesday night (a few night early). We were expecting to just drop by and talk to Rose for a few minutes at the door because our member present wasn't able to go last minute. So, we knocked on the door and Dustin answered..... it was one of those "What the?!!!" moments! But they are doing super solid and are ready to go all in and just kill it in the gospel and church. So we are planning on setting a goal of December 19th for them to be married and baptized by. So I am really hoping that all works out. For those of you who don't know, my birthday is December 19th so I am hoping for a white birthday if I stay another transfer here in Odessa! They are out only investigators right now. I thought we were going to pick up a couple people/families this week but it just didn't happen. But we are continuing with the grind and are continuing with the work and trying go get something going here.

Alrighty, its time for me to go bye bye! I love y'all and feel your love every day! Remember to always have a smile on your face and be a light in somebodies day! You never know when someone is in need!

Lots of Love,

Elder Reed Ericson

Gettin' Over the Hump!


October 26, 2015

Well hello everybody! It is a beautiful Monday here in Odessa! And by beautiful I mean a little chilly... but I can manage. This past week was a little crazy as you can imagine! Let me expound.

Well as you know I had a huge hump to get over this week! My goodness. Quite honestly the only difficult time was Monday night. Yes, I know, my hump day wasn't until Thursday.... however, Monday was the 19th of October so I laid there in bed knowing that in exactly a year I would be spending my first night at home in Idaho! Good heavens, that was quite the shocker! However it was short lived and I got over it in no time! Then Thursday came around.... oh boy! It was actually pretty good. Well, it wasn't good at all but it was all just funny to me! I'll tell you more about that in a minute! It was an interesting day mentally though. Just knowing that I was a year done was exciting, but then I would realize that I am only half way done, and I am basically just starting over again and doing what I just did for a second time. The thoughts of "I'M NEVER GOING HOME!!!!" came every once in a while... but those really aren't too bad! I enjoy it out here and I have seen how much I have grown and I am only excited to see what another whole year will do for me! Its quite exciting to think about! The only reason why I'd want to come home would be to apply what I have learned into normal life! I am actually really looking forward to that. I am super excited to have another year to learn and grow and then to take it all home and just be awesome and apply everything to my real world life!

So, what made my day interesting was my epic BIKE CRASH!!!!! Hahahaha it was sick! We were riding down a road (the name of the road would mean nothing to you) that wasn't very wide and had a good amount of cars going both ways. Elder Despain was in front of me and rode up onto a cement driveway type thing that was probably lifted about 2 inches up from the road. Well, I naturally tried to do the same thing, but for some reason my tire didn't get up over the lift and my tire just skid along the lifted cement. I was leaning and was in the motion of taking my bike up over the cement lift so when my tire didn't go up my bike and myself went flying right to the ground as I was riding probably between 12-15 mph, which isn't all that slow! I ate it hard!!! And there were lines of cars going both ways on the street!!! On the way down I was sure I was going to get back up with blood and dirt all over and in lots of pain... BUT, I had like zero pain! It was sick! All I had was a tiny cut on my left hand, a little scrape on my right elbow, and the outside of my right shoe looked destroyed but it was nothing my shoe wax stuff from Dillard's couldn't clean up! So back to the event itself. I popped right up from the ground and just hopped on my bike and loudly yelled "Dude that was sick!" and started riding away until Elder Despain stopped me because one of my bike lights fell off! Turns out there were a lot of things that went askew on my bike that I needed to tend to, but nothing that actually caused damage! But talk about an adrenaline rush! WHOOOO! I made it a whole year without crashing on my bike and then it happened to me twice actually on the week of my year mark! I also fell over on Tuesday night but we were both basically at a stop so it wasn't bad. Not worth telling the story at least.

Also on Friday the Lynch family fed us for a late year-mark celebration. On Monday they texted us and asked what I wanted so I requested steak... so they asked what kind I wanted, and I naturally answered ribeye because its just the best darn steak you can get. So, Friday night we went to the Lynch's and I had the best dang steak I've had in my life!!!!!!! Oh man. Just, oh. It was so dang good. I gobbled up all 16+ oz of that steak like it was candy on Halloween... but it was way better than Halloween candy! It was just... just.... so good that I can't even describe. Such good marbling and a solid amount of fat that just gave it the most amazing flavor. And it was cooked so dang good. I'm telling you, you ain't never had a steak like that. And then after dinner we worked it all off by playing a game of 3-on-3 football in the street in which I tore it up. And by tore it up I mean I had some sweet moves and tore down the sideline/right by the curb for some sweet touchdowns. Still got the speed! We only played for like 20 minutes though before it got dark. It was fun though! I wish we got to play more 3-on-3 football games in the street but unfortunately that's not really a thing that people do. Oh well.

We have been working hard on trying to get some people to teach. We have made contact with a few formers and met some new people on the street this week that invited us back. We had a couple people tell us we could come back on Saturday but we got caught up with a serious moving job on Saturday so we weren't able to get to them. We are continuing to build a solid foundation and I keep feeling that things are about to start happening here! Its just like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode one week! So hopefully we get some of that explosion this week! Other than that the missionary work has been the same old same old this past week. Nothing new. But hey, that's West Texas for ya!

I love y'all and hope y'all have a good week! I am thoroughly looking forward to another year to learn and grow down here in the Texas Lubbock Mission and serving the West Texans! Peace out!

Much love,

Elder Reed Ericson

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hello


October 19, 2015

Well hello to y'all once again on this wonderful Monday! We had a pretty good week this week and had some pretty sweet stuff!

First off I would love to tell you about Zone Conference that we had on Wednesday in Midland. Dang it was good. Well, President Heap was good. The assistants were kinda "eh" but it was actually good stuff that I needed to hear. But anyway, back to President Heap. Before lunch he gave a sick instruction about the Book of Mormon! I saw that he was gonna be talking about it and I had high hopes, but he exceeded them! He went hard on how the Book of Mormon is the tool that is gathering Israel. Holy cow, he made it so amazing! He basically told us that next time somebody asks us what makes our church different or unique that we should ask them what their church is doing to gather Israel, since the Bible talks about the gathering is Israel in the last days SO MUCH) and then told us to expound unto them how the Book of Mormon is what is doing that and told us what that’s all about in an amazing way. THEN, after he already outdid himself he closed off the conference by blowing minds up with an INSANE instruction about the sacrament! Oh, my gosh. Just when I think he can't outdo what he did the previous time he blows everybody's minds once again with something else insane. He got DEEP into the sacrament. About how the sacrament table is the tomb and also the altar. He based everything off of Moses 1:39, Matthew 26:26 (JST), Matthew 27, and then of course Moroni 4&5. With Moses 1:39 he talked about how the sacrament emblems represent immortality and eternal life and said some crazy stuff about that. And then with Matthew 26:26 (JST) he emphasized how Christ broke the bread before he blessed the bread and how important that was. And then with Matthew 27 he related it to how we are each Barrabas each and every week and how we are the guilty ones who should be the ones being crucified on the altar, but then how Christ steps in at the last moment when the sacrament prayer says "and witness unto thee" to take his place on the altar and save us week after week after week. Then he made the point that if we don't let the sacrament change us we are letting this man who has done so much for us and who we love so dearly die in vain each and every week that we don't let it change us. The way he teaches though is so dang powerful! He is a master teacher. I have never met anyone that can teach even close to the way he teaches. He just interprets the scripture in such an amazing way and expounds on things so incredibly. Every time he teaches the spirit just slaps you across the face and you feel like you know everything there is to know about whatever he's teaching about. But then you forget half of it because you just can't recreate what he says in your notes or your thoughts.

We had some sweet fun at the Art Museum this week as well! Usually we sit at the front desk for 4 hours and do nothing but this week we went at a different time and helped guide some 3rd graders on their little field trip! It was so fun! They had two galleries open and then a classroom so there were three places to rotate through and there were 6 stations with activities in both of the galleries! So basically we just told them when to rotate and helped them with their stations. But it was so fun! They are funny little humans and always crack you up! I was just laughing at them when they were standing in line waiting to enter into the building! I guess I just really like 3rd graders and am entertained by that age group extremely easily... but they are for legit like the perfect age to be fun! We were supposed to do two different sessions, however the school went on lock down before the second group could leave so we only did one group of them :( But I can't complain.

So some other interesting news... our mission family is super legit now! My son, Elder Cardon was called to be a Zone Leader this transfer! Our family is just royal right now with my father, Elder Stringham, as AP and my son as a ZL. Then I guess I'm just cool and stuff so that's what I have to add to the family! Anyway, just wanted to brag about my family. Maybe I'll train Elder Despain up unto the ways of his forefathers. We shall see how that turns out.

Oh yeah, we did another service project at the cemetery on Saturday. And by "another" I am referring to the one that I did in Sweetwater like the second week on my mission. Well, I highly highly doubt that you remember what came along later that night after the first time I did service at a cemetery on my mission........ it was totally the day that I literally blew chunks all over the Weldy's floor!!!! Hahahahahahaha classic! So anyway, every night at the end of last week I felt like I was going to wake up sick the next day. So before I would go to bed I would down some Vitamin C and also in the morning. So, when the Bishop called and asked us to go help I was extremely worried that history was going to repeat itself!!!! I just knew that I was going to puke somewhere that night on somebodies floor. BUT, I survived. I did feel a little iffy that night after dinner but I went out and hopped on my bike and went to work and had a sweet night of work! We actually went to talk to this one guy we talked to a few nights prior that we left a Book of Mormon with and he came out on Saturday night and handed it back to us and said that he read quite a bit of it and that he was just going to stick with the Bible. However, we worked some magic over the next 15 minutes and that man walked inside when we left excited to immediately read and pray about it! Ha! Heck yeah! We used a little bit from President Heap's instruction about the Book of Mormon and bore some strong testimony and he came around! The spirit really went to work on him! Hopefully he actually follows through! We plan on going to visit him tonight so we will find out!

Well, I gotta go! I hope y'all have a fantastic week and hope that God has great things in store for y'all this week! I love you all!

Oh yeah, Thursday is my year mark! PARTY! Dang, time has gone by so quick! I feel like I've already progressed so so much and learned so so much that I could go home accomplished so it excites me to know that I am only half way through and there is just that much more in store for me to learn and so many more ways for me to progress! I am sure it will go by quick though... maybe too quick! Wish me luck as I embark on the second half of my journey starting Friday!

Lots of Love,

Elder Reed Ericson