Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 26, 2015

Hello my good peeps. What an interesting week it has been! Full of good things and just straight crazy things!
 
It sounds like this will be a killer week at home with Charles coming home and such! That will be such fun for y'all to see him and hear about his experiences in Chile! Tell him that I am sending my welcome home to him and that he rocks!
 
Well, as many of you hooligans know, we got transfer calls on Saturday night. So I will tell you how that went. So, President Heap calls all the zone leaders/new zone leaders first as well as all the new trainers of the newbies coming in. So at 8:45 we were just out walking around before we could go inside at 9 and the phone rang. Elder Stringham looked at it and said "Oh crap, its president!" Well, president told Elder Stringham that he was getting transferred to be a zone leader in Odessa. But before he hung up he said, "How did Elder Ericson's training go?" Elder Stringham responded that it went good and president asked if he could speak with me. Well, long story short, I will be staying in Sweetwater with a brand new missionary named Elder Cardon! You could say that I am nervous... not often at all do missionaries train directly out of training. But I know that the Lord has called me to help a very specific new missionary and I am confident that I will do a fine job and not mess him up at all:) So we go into Abilene tomorrow bright and early for Elder Stringham to catch the transfer bus and I will spend the day there and then get my new companion when the bus comes back down on Wednesday afternoon. I am quite sad to be leaving Elder Stringham. Your trainer becomes everything for you and I definitely realized that these last couple days knowing that he will be leaving soon. I will never forget the past 3 months and all the good memories we have together!
 
Now its time for my Texan food update. I think I mentioned Big Boys BBQ last week. Well, we went this week and it was quite amazing. I got ribs and brisket and it was just so insanely good! However, the portions were a little small. I believe my Big Boys meat is the first attached picture. Then on Thursday we went back to Blackland Smokehouse with Sis. Bishop and my life changed forever. I got the brisket this time instead of the pulled pork... oh man. And I got a better cut of ribs this time too with more meat on them. I'm telling ya, this stuff is something else. Big Boys is one of the top bbq places in Texas and Blackland kicks its trash. Plus, at Blackland you get way more meat for less money! I attached a pic of that meat as well. I literally won't be able to eat any meat when I get home because it just can't even compare!
 
It seems like our entire branch is in the hospital right now. Bro. Mermella, the guy who always took us to the store before we had a car, had a staff infection in his leg and its not looking too good. They might be moving him to Abilene here soon. We went to see him on Saturday evening and gave him a blessing and we definitely felt like he would be ok. But if something happens to him it would be tragic because him and his wife are taking care of 8ish young grandchildren and I don't know what would happen to them! Also, at church yesterday Sis. Green has to be taken to the ER by the paramedics. When she stood up she had this shooting pain in her head and she got "drunk" (thats what she describes it as... its quite hilarious). It happened before a couple weeks ago and they say that it is because her blood pressure is high and her heart rate is low. So she may have to get a pacemaker. We gave her a blessing as well. Its crazy how strongly I can feel the power of God working through me when I give blessings these days. The feeling that takes over your mind and body is just nuts. Its definitely a powerful experience each and every time now.
 
As far as teaching went this week... it was pretty solid. No crazy lessons or anything but we were able to meet with a lot of people.
 
We taught Erica the Word of Wisdom this week and it was a fun one! She needs her coffee to keep her awake and alert for work and class. So that has been fun to help her with! Haha she has kept a good sense of humor about it and always texts us complaining about it. But she is doing good and trying her best!

We are finishing teaching Larry everything getting it all cleared before his baptism on the 7th! We are just chunking out all the little commandments and ordinance stuff. Its always a good time going over to Larry's and he is basically one lesson away from being taught everything. Now I have the task of getting a baptism ready. So that will be interesting considering that neither me or my companion have any experience with that!
 
We didn't get a chance to meet with Paul this week. We meet with them Wednesdays and Sundays but they were busy on Wednesday and we were at the hospital all afternoon yesterday. But we are just taking it step by step with them.
 
Reynaldo fell of the face of the earth for a week because of the new job he got in Abilene that makes him work nights. We didn't know so we always went over there and nobody was home. But we met with him yesterday for a good hour plus (he's a talker... its so hard to get out of there) and he is doing good and still has potential.
 
We met with Jill again this week and we really hit what our purpose was and why everything we teach is important and then retaught the restoration. It was a good lesson but we're not quite sure how interested she really is. But we will keep trying and see if we can get the ball rolling.
 
We got a couple new investigators this week. We have this 16 year old boy named Mark and he is just the nicest kid ever. We sat outside on his porch in the cold while it was dumping buckets all around us! He is really interested and knows all about the BoM and even made some notes in the chapter that we gave him to read! We are way excited about continuing to meet with him!
Our other new is Raquel. I knocked into her when I was with Elder Johnson on exchanges and we finally met with her and shared a quick last half of the restoration. She is just super nice and friendly, but she made a comment about how she is just being nice to us because she knows what its like to go door to door and talk to people because she went out with her adopted parents who were JW's when she was younger. That was startling but she is accepting and willing to listen.
 
Also, get this... we have this family that is just a crazy situation. The missionaries taught this guy right before I got here named Tim (24 years old). He was way solid and even came to church but fell off the face of the earth. Then this week we went up and talked to this girl at the car wash named Alex (19) and she invited us to go over to her house to talk to her sometime about our message. So, as the week went on and after a few realizations occured, we realized that they were siblings but Tim had obviously moved out by now. BUT THEN, Elder Stringham has a brain fart and had a thought that this girl that had come to church with a member a number of times over the past year or so may have been the younger sister of those two (she is like 16). Well, sure enough, she is. So now we have three siblings that we have a relation to but not together. So this looks promising!
Well, its time to go. Wish me luck on my new adventure and I can't wait to tell y'all about it next week!
 
Love,
Elder Reed Ericson
 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Elder Bednar!!!!

I think I needed to wait to use the subject "Holy Cow" for this week! Holy cow! Crazy week!
 
First off, I hear that gas is super cheap in Idaho too. Gas was $1.70 in Lubbock this past week. So we'll see who comes out on top this week. The oil business here is collapsing because the price of oil is dropping off a cliff. They say that thousands of people are about to be laid off.
 
The Elder who served here in Sweetwater before me is the grandson of Jay and Nancy Noble! He has been to our ward a number of times with his family! I remembered his brothers name even! Mom, I think you may have actually had him in sunday school before! Its a crazy small world!
 
So the fun stuff for this week started on Wednesday. We had interviews with President Heap that morning and it was fantastic! I love the Heaps so stinkin' much and it was wonderful to sit down with Pres Heap for a little bit and talk about the work! Sister Heap was there and she was supposed to talk to us about morning exercise, but we think that she figured that we work out every morning so she didn't instruct us. Not gonna lie, we could have used it. But whatevs.
 
We went to this AMAZING place in Roscoe (in our area just outside of Sweetwater) for lunch on Thursday. Its called Blackland Smokehouse and it was just wonderful! You guys should just be so insanely jealous! I got ribs and pulled pork but I really made the mistake of not getting the brisket! Elder Stringham got it and he said that it was just a crazy party in his mouth every time he took a bite! So we are going to go back this week and get some more. But we are first going to try Big Boy's BBQ here in Sweetwater because that place is apparently even better than Blackland! It has made some Texas-wide lists for best bbq! Its going to be an amazing week for food! But my personal account will take a big hit, because we don't have enough mission money to afford it. Totally worth it though. Totally completely worth it!
 
On Friday we met with Elder Bednar!!! They told us to arrive about an hour and a half early so that we could mingle. So we had over 260 missionaries packed into the gym for over an hour and it was a great time! I got to see all of my few mission peeps! It was nice though because we were pretty much the only people that we all collectively knew. But we had a good time talking about our last few months together and it is fun to see how they have all grown just like I have! I can't really say to much about the meeting for a number of reasons. 1) There is just too much to say and I don't have time and 2) Elder Bednar told us not to tell our families a lot about what he said because he didn't want anything to be taken out of context. But to summarize it all up, it was amazing. Everyone left that place spiritually filled to the max! He didn't just talk to us but us missionaries talked about as much as he did. One crazy thing though was when he bore his testimony. When you hear "I bear you my apostolic witness..." it is like a shot through your heart by the spirit. Holy cow people. Its nuts. But one neat thing happened. He asked President Heap to stand and say a few words at one point. When President stands up to talk, the room always has a crazy strong spirit. This time was crazy though. We had an apostle of the Lord in front of us, but when President Heap stood up, the spirit multiplied by about 100x from when Elder Bednar was standing at the pulpit. When President stood up, you could have literally heard a pin hit the ground and your heart could have easily exploded inside of your chest. That man is no doubt the man called to be the president of the Texas Lubbock Mission and I would not be surprised one bit to see his name with Elder in front of it not too long after he is done here.
 
As far as the work went this week, it was a solid week! Not quite like last week but still really solid!
We taught Erica again a couple times and each time has been really awesome! She is having spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon and is truly progressing. Every time we see her she just seems to have a different and better light to her.
 
We taught Paul and Paul Jr. We are starting from step 1 and going slowly from there. We started the first night with teaching very simply about God and prayer. Then the next time we taught very simply about who Jesus Christ is and what he did. It will be a step by step program with them, but it is going good!
 
We met this man named Reynaldo during the week and we went back the next day and had a crazy experience! When we shared the first vision the spirit slapped him across the face and the next 10-15 minutes was just him sitting there just feeling the spirit crazy strong and looking off into the distance and sitting there with his eyes closed holding the Book of Mormon with an occasional testimony by us. It was crazy! But I don't know how well he recognizes what it all means. So that's the next step.

Elder Stringham has been medicating this past week because of his cold, so he goes crazy while he is asleep. Here's a couple lines from him while asleep at night.
"What? Haha! Is it the peanut butter? Give me the peanut butter! Dangit!"
"Lets go! Lets go! Lets go!"
Hahahahaha
 
Well, I wish I had more time. But I have seen so much growth this week and I feel the spirit crazy strong all day every day! I don't even know how to explain the process I am going through but just know that I am growing tons and learning so much about the gospel and the church and about missionary work!
 
I love you all and hope you have a good week!

Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

 District Meeting in Sweetwater.
 "This guy doesn't hear so good so we have to knock with a wooden meat tenderizer thing."

 A beer can Christmas tree.
 District meeting in Sweetwater.

 Having fun in the snow (ice) before Elder Johnson left.



A sheet of ice that we got off of our car.  It's like 1/4" thick.

Monday, January 12, 2015

HOLY COW

Well, this week was a week full of "Holy Cow". I don't even think that makes any sense, but whatevs.
 
To start off this week, gas here in Sweetwater is $1.91 today. A week or two back when it was still at about $2.15 here it was down to $1.85 in Abilene. So I am curious to know how cheap it is in Abilene! Also, I saw on a member's computer they had an article pulled up titles something like "Texas City Prepares for Boom of Bust". It was talking about Sweetwater and an oil boom. I have no idea what it said or anything. It was on Yahoo News so if you are interested you could check it out.
 
Anyway, this week was pretty sick. We taught way more than we ever have! I will give you a rundown of everything!
 
We taught Erica twice this week. The first time we sat outside in the cold because we didn't have an adult male with us so we couldn't go outside. It was a really good Restoration lesson thought despite the cold. A few days later we went back with Bro. Weldy so we were able to go inside. The lesson was kinda terrible. Erica's daughter is a menace and she tearing it up like a wrecking ball if you know what I'm sayin'. We set a baptismal date for the 24th but we are going to have to move that back a bit. Btw, for those of you wondering about setting baptismal dates. We set a date as a goal. So we will invite them early on with a goal date so that they have something to work towards. Then, if they are ready and have their answer by that date then we can go through with it. If not, we move it back.
 
We met with this man named Michael three times this week. He is in his late twenties and has a wife and a little kid. We found his wife out smoking on the front porch a few weeks back but when we went and tried them we ended up only teaching Michael out on the porch. The first time we met we had a rough Restoration lesson. He grew up Baptist and had a lot of interesting questions and was very stern with some comments. But he had some questions about the second coming and hell and stuff like that so we set up another appointment and left him 3 Nephi 11 to read. Well, turns out, the next day we went back and we learn that not only did he read 3 Nephi 11... but he STUDIED it with his wife! He learned how to use the footnotes and was cross-referencing with the Bible! His wife apparently is really worried because she hasn't been baptized and they spent some time studying baptism! So we answered some questions and taught a killer Plan of Salvation and set up another appointment and gave him another chapter to read. So the next night we went back and had another killer visit with him outside in the cold! We answered a lot of questions and talked about some stuff! He is a real nice guy and pretty smart. Butttttttttt..... he left on Saturday for at least 2 months for work. He does electrical stuff on the wind turbines and get shipped out for months at a time and then gets to come home for about a week before getting shipped out again! But he is taking his Book of Mormon and we are going to try to keep in contact with him and his wife while he is gone!
 
We continue to teach Larry. We met with him twice this week. He understands things super well and even went in during church with the branch president and the president told us that he is more than comprehensive enough to get baptized! So we are shooting towards the 31st with Larry. I'm tellin' ya, Larry is the man. He cracks us up!
 
We met with Jill, our neighbor on the other side of the wall. We went in and were going to teach her, but after a couple minutes before we even started teaching, her boyfriend and his friend that live there both left so there was no male left. So we just talked to her for a little bit after then left and then peaced out. She has punched on a couple of set up visits so she may get dropped soon. So we shall see.
 
We started visiting that old man named Roberto again. Not gonna lie, I don't necessarily enjoy going over there. He cooks peppers in his oven, which is supposed to make your house smell glorious if done right, but he doesn't do it right. And then you add the cigarette smell and make it like 80 degrees and it is just pure torture. Plus, that man is going to die soon. I kid you not. He said the doctor told him that his heart is like a balloon the way it inflates and deflates but he just keeps on smoking away. He isn't allowed to leave his house because of his heart... so he just sits at home smoking. Ugh. We shall see how he comes along. He doesn't comprehend anything... but we'll see.
 
We met with another girl we knocked into a couple weeks ago. She didn't have a male home so we just talked to her for like 10 minutes by the door about the Book of Mormon and set up a time we could come back. She has super potential though! So stay tuned on her!
 
On Wednesday night we were sitting outside of Larry's waiting for him to get home when we got a phone call. It was a strange number but I answered it anyway. Turns out, it was this guy that pulled over on the road one day and talked to the missionaries the transfer before I got here. They were never able to meet but he called wanting a ride to church on Sunday! Well, he didn't get out of bed on Sunday morning so he didn't come to church, but that was still pretty legit. Hopefully he can make it next week.
 
Also, we have started meeting with this lady named Atanya. She lives in the apartment complex right next to us. We just met and had a little Bible study this week but we are planning on starting to teach her this week! She is an absolutely awesome lady! I hope she is interested in our message because she would make a phenomenal member of the branch here!
 
So a couple of other highlights... we had district meeting on Tuesday here in Sweetwater, and we always get there pretty early so that we can get it unlocked and get the heater going and stuff. So I was just screwing around singing hymns very emphatically in the chapel with the microphone on. Well, I was singing "Nearer My God To Thee" when I didn't hear the sisters walk in. So I looked up and saw them standing in the chapel doorway just looking at me like I was a freak (which I am) and then just busted up laughing at me.
 
Our water heater went out on Monday night. So we had no hot water until halfway through Wednesday. We heated some water on the stove to wash our hair with but it still sucked.
 
I got to give Bro. Patton a blessing on Friday, which was crazy. He is probably one of the greatest men alive so giving him a blessing was one of the most humbling experiences I have had! Holy cow! Then on Saturday night I gave a blessing to the Weldy's daughter because she is sick. I have now given 5 blessings I think and have anointed for a few more. Good stuff right there.
 
I love this place so much! I don't want to leave Sweetwater! I will most likely stay another transfer but you still never know! I would love to stay another! These peeps are like my family now! This branch has so many awesome, unique people!
 
Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ICE!!!

Howdy peeps... I definitely had a different kind of week here this week! Lots of fun though!
 
I will answer Taco Carl's questions in this email. So, he asked about if we spend much time knocking doors and such. So basically our days are usually planned by the hourish. We usually have a person planned to go try to visit and then a backup or two. As we are walking/riding around to their houses, we talk to anybody who is outside. These people who we talk to outside are then put into our pool of people we can go try at a later date if they are interested at all and we usually try to set up a specific time we can stop by. If none of the two or three people answer the door then we usually spend the rest of the time walking/riding around finding people to talk to. But now that its cold, nobody is outside so we usually have to knock on a few doors here and there. And then throw in an occasional appointment with someone we have already met with (those range from 0-2 a day) and you have a normal day. And now with a car we basically do the same thing but we can just go try more people and get around faster. But we still try to be out on the streets as much as possible.
 
For dinners, we usually get fed once or twice a week. The past few weeks it has only been once a week because the Patton's have been busy with surgery and stuff. We would usually get fed by the Patton's after we did service for them on Friday's and then we get fed about 3 Sundays a month by the Thompson's because she is on call for work the other Sunday. The other days we just eat at our apartment for dinner. We have an hour for dinner so we usually eat and then E Stringham takes a nap (I used to as well) and I usually read an Ensign or something. For lunch, Sis Bishop feeds us on Thursdays and we go to this little place here in Sweetwater called Bee's. For the other days we just eat at our apartment. We also have an hour for lunch and we do the same thing as dinner.
 
On New Year's Eve we did have to go in early. We had to be in at 6pm. We had a lot of fun! We played "The Logo Board Game" for a couple hours. I won obviously. Totally slaughtered the competition. It was sick.

This week was crazy for a number of reasons! Our p-day on Monday was cut a couple hours short because we went to go help an investigator move. I think I have told you about her. Her name is Erica. She has lived in a trailer with this guy for a few years but finally was getting the crap out of there. That place was a mess. We loaded all her stuff up and helped her move it into her apartment. She had another friends there helping her. He is a way legit guy and lives in our apartment complex so we are hoping to see him around and hopefully teach him! Anyway, that moving job took up most of our evening and was def a little interesting.
 
We had district meeting on Tuesday here in Sweetwater. Nothing spectacular besides the fact that the weather was turning really bad. But anyway, after district meeting we started exchanges. The district leader stayed here in Sweetwater with me this week! So we went about and did the work. But here's the kicker, the roads were so bad that we were told to not travel back to Abilene on Wednesday. So instead of a 24 hour exchange, we had a 48 hour exchange! It was pretty sick! I learned so much from being with a different missionary and I really took a lot from that exchange! I am definitely happy I got an extra day! Another cool thing about my district.... we have an Elder that is a former Cosmo Cougar! He did some sick tricks at the Jingle Jam and it has been revealed that he was Cosmo!

 But the main story of this past week was the weather! From Tuesday through Friday we had real stinky weather. The thing about Texas cold is that there is ice in the air. I kid you not. There is ice in the air. I will walk outside and have a tiny layer of ice on my glasses in a few minutes! And everything just gets COVERED in ice! Like, thick thick ice! I have some really cool pics that I will send home with my SD Card once I get my other one back (btw, where is that sucker?). And its hilarious because nobody knows how to drive in it! There was one point on Wednesday when we were walking around when we stopped and just listened and we could hear cars/trucks from every direction with engines revving and tires spinning out! People would make it halfway up a mini hill and just be stuck and have to back all the way down the hill! We saw so many people just stuck in the middle of the road not going anyway! I wanted to just laugh my butt off every single time but I couldn't do it right in from of them! It was honestly like I was watching Comedy Central! I guess it could have been the same for us, but lucky for us we have a Jeep and we literally have zero problems in that thing. We tested it a little bit on some hills and that sucker it a beast! Almost zero slide! I only biffed it three times throughout the week, so I felt pretty good about that. Sure, I fell more than the people I was with, but I was proud of myself for only falling three times!
 
We taught a couple lessons this week. We met with Paul again and covered the same thing we covered the last two times. He is finally understanding prophets! Remember that one night that we called the cops on the people on the other side of the wall? Yeah, well we are teaching the girl now. She is real nice and friendly. We had a real good first lesson with her and we had a return appointment but their car was gone and nobody answered the door. The good thing about her though is that we always know if they are home not because there parking space is two spots down from ours and we can know if they are home or not! It was weird because I haven't taught anybody that we can actually have a legit lesson with. All the people we have taught need super basic lessons. But with her now and Erica we have two people that can actually think about things and comprehend! We can actually ask legit questions and get legit answers! Oh how glorious it will be!

 Anyway, that's all for this week! I hope y'all have a good one! I hear it is icy and stuff up in good ol' Idaho so be careful! It is all dry down here now but I wouldn't be surprised if we got some more ice sometime soon!

 Love,
Elder Reed Ericson