Monday, February 23, 2015

A PLETHORA OF WEATHER


Well everyone, it’s that time again. I am sitting at this computer emailing y'all.

I don't have much to say today. Not too much happened this week. Our week was pretty much going to try potential investigators and on the streets finding people. We tied my career best for finds in a week. Except my previous best was during "He Is The Gift" and finding was a little different. We could count people we knocked into as finds so we knocked a lot. However this week we were just able to talk to a lot of people outside because it was nice all week. Also, I don't know how many missions use "finds" as a key indicator. But we have to really emphasize that area of our work here in this mission. We can mark down a find if we talk to somebody, without knocking on a door, and share a unique doctrine (prophets, BoM, restored church) and invite them to do something (we usually just ask if there is a good time we could come back to share our message). Sometimes you have a good situation where you can share a mini message right there on the spot. But that is hard to come by. Usually people are busy and you only have a short amount of time to get a find out of it. So that’s that. So hopefully in the coming weeks we can turn some of these peeps into investigators! But this week we didn't have much success with that. We tried a lot of people we have talked to in the previous weeks, but nobody was home or answered their door. In fact, I don't know if we taught a single lesson this past week besides Larry. But we had some good conversations with people but no lessons.

On Tuesday we went on exchanges. I stayed in Sweetwater with Elder Johnson. I went on exchanges with a different Elder Johnson a little while back. So different guy. We had a good time and were able to put some good miles on the bikes! It is always fun to go on exchanges to just get a fresh feel for a day. They are just a ton of fun! And on Tuesday night we did a killer 20 minute ab workout! It was sweet! We went hard! He played volleyball in high school and is pretty legit. He played club ball and everything. He is from Las Vegas and he went to a high school where men’s volleyball was a big deal. He says he wants to play at Utah Valley and probably will because he knows the coach pretty good there and they have talked quite a bit. So that's cool.

On Tuesday night we went out to visit a referral we had gotten. You know, the one who we went on an 80 mile round trip to go see? Well, she lives like 8 miles away. Not bad at all. She lives out on this pretty cool land out in the country. They have over 300 acres of ranch at their house and then another 1000+ acres back a little ways to the east. It’s a pretty cool place out there. Her daughter married a returned missionary and that son-in-law’s little brother is on his mission right now and she gets all of his emails and stuff. She is a really nice lady and VERY talkative. Holy smokes. She said she is going to invite us to lunch at her place sometime so that we can have a visit. I'm pretty pumped for whatever food she is going to make us!

Cool story. So we were riding our bikes back to the car one day, and I decided to go a different route through some small streets with not very many houses on them. We never ride down those streets so I thought we should just for the heck of it. Well, apparently I was inspired on that one. I saw a lady in a motorized wheelchair in her yard just sitting there. I asked her if we could help with anything and she said that we could help her get unstuck from the mud! She is paralyzed from the waist down and she had been stuck in the mud for about two hours! The spirit inspires us to do things sometimes that are just random thoughts like, "let’s go down that road because we never ride down it". Cool stuff.

Now for the subject of my email! This week was beautiful all week! It was like 70 degrees and just perfect weather. However, I think Thursday or Friday it got up over 80 degrees so it was a little hot. But then, yesterday morning started off at 41 degrees before church. After church it was 36. After lunch it was about 30 and by dinner time it was 25 degrees! And this morning it is 20 degrees with a layer of snow/ice on the ground! Crazy stuff!

As far a teaching goes. Not much. We visited Erica for about 45 mins one night when it was nice outside. We didn't teach her at all but what she needs right now is just some good stable people to visit with that are good examples for her. So that’s what we are.


We also visited for about 30 minutes with this man that we actually met a few months ago. We found him sitting on his steps in front of his house a few days prior and he said that he had actually read half of the BoM before. He is a really nice guy and so he said he was off work on the weekend. So we stopped by. We couldn't teach him anything because he pretty much talked for the whole 30 mins... I feel like that happens a lot these days. But this guy is 66 years old and looks like he is a 40 year old in crazy good shape! Its nuts!

We keep on meeting with Paul and little Paul. We have officially ran out of things to teach them that won't go straight over their heads. So we are repeating stuff now. Nothing new there.

And we are still just teaching Larry his post-baptism lessons. Nothing new there either.

Now time for food! On Thursday Sis. Bishop took us to Buck's Steaks and BBQ. I had the New York Strip steak that cost $27. YUMMY!!!!! And then last night we were visiting with some Mexican less-active members in our branch and they invited us over for dinner on Friday! So that is going to be amazing stuff! I haven't had any authentic Mexican food yet! Also, I realized that the reason that I always run out of money at the end of the month is because we never get fed. Most missionaries get fed almost every dinner and some get lunches a lot too. Well this week we had one lunch provided for us and no dinners. So I have to buy a lot more food than the average missionary. Plus, if you want to eat anything decent at all... you have to spend a little extra money to get something that will sustain you. I actually bought a bag of chicken last week. Well, that put a major dent in my monthly allowance. But I am trying to eat a little better meals but it is hard to when you are on $135 a month. And that doesn't go very far when you have to buy soaps, razor blades, etc., and also buy 25ish dinners and 25+ lunches and 30 breakfast and a few snacks to munch on when you are out working. Anyway, that’s that.

I hope y'all have a good week! Keep it real.

Love,
Elder Ericson

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

BRANCH CHAOS


Hello my good peeps, another week down here in Sweetwater. They just seem to fly by in the blink of an eye!

Sorry to say, there isn't much to report on this week. Not much happened. It was one of those weeks. But the cool thing is, every day is enjoyable and goes by fast. It seemed like nobody was ever home (aka their car wasn't home... I am aware that some people just don't answer their doors for us). Plus, there weren't too many people outside this week to talk to. We talked to a few people for a significant amount of time, but the conversations were not exactly related to our purpose as missionaries. But we met some cool people and had some nice interactions with the people of Sweetwater.

One cool story, we got this media referral early this week. Media referrals are ones that come from Salt Lake. So we found the road on the map, and it is way da heck in the middle of nowhere! I kid you not. So we headed out there and made it to the road and drove up and down it about four times trying to figure out which house it could be. Long story short, there were like three houses and they were mostly vacant. So we started to head back when we realized from the map that the road actually continues on at a different spot. So, we turned around and ended up going down this sweet dirt road way out in the country of West Texas for like 7 miles. Well, our referral didn't live out there, I learned today that it is actually not too far from our apartment on a different road by the same name. But as we were out there in the middle of nowhere, we ran into this SWEET ranch! It had the big ol' gates and stuff. We couldn't see the ranch house at all but we could see some of the land that the cattle graze on and there were a bunch out there! I have some pics but I forgot my camera today. Apparently those puppies are pretty common out here. Go figure. By the end of the trip we had gone about 80+ miles. So that sucked. But it was totally worth it. Thank heavens we have a Jeep though!

On Friday we went out to Colorado City for some stuff. But we stopped by our branch president’s house to get something signed. Well, I thought we had been there for about 30 mins or so visiting with them, but I looked down at my watch and we had been there for an hour and 20 minutes! He was reading us Jeremiah 50 and 51 and talking about how it is talking about our day and Babylon being America. It was very interesting because that man has been all over the world for all sorts of stuff and knows a lot about all those countries and was able to make sense out of it. But, once I got home and read it for myself, I came to the conclusion that it was indeed talking about actual Babylon, not modern day America. But he also talked about his time spent as a Green Beret and all of his CIA stuff. He even busted out the scrapbook type thing that his wife made about all that stuff. Holy cow, people... that man is one of the most interesting men in the world. There was so much cool stuff in there and he talked a little about some of the missions he went on and stuff. He has had a crazy crazy life. And I totally believe all of it because I saw a bunch of proof in that scrapbook thing!

So now to the title of my email. Our branch is about to get hit by a tsunami. It already has some stuff going on, but there are some situations coming up that could rock this branch’s little world. It is so sad. It seems like there are just problems shooting up. People with severe medical problems, some family problems that are about to occur, we are short on priesthood and we are needing a lot of priesthood to fill callings coming up here soon. It’s just crazy. I am having a hard time even caring about the missionary work here because I just want to help the branch, but there is nothing that us missionaries can do and a lot that not even the other people in the branch can do. It sucks because there is just nothing we can do and I just want to be able to help so bad. But we have to focus on what we can do and move forward with the work here!

Teaching wise this week, it was slow. We taught only a couple lessons. And only one of them was legit. And he wasn't even interested at all, so yeah. But we stayed busy all week. We had our referral adventure for a couple hours one day, we had zone conference all day on Tuesday, and we were out in Colorado City and helping with the continuation of that project back in Sweetwater all afternoon on Saturday. So we had lots to do!

Oh, this is kinda gross. So we have some rats in one of our walls. They only make noise in the morning while we are studying and they are only in this one spot. But, still kind of nasty. Our apartment complex is really good about bugs and stuff though. They come around every once in a while and ask if there are any bug problems in our apartment and will take care of it is there is. We have yet to have bugs inside. So that’s good. I have heard missionaries talking about cockroaches in their apartments, so let’’s hope I never get stuck in one of those!

Now for the food update! I had a first this week!!! I had chicken fried steak at Skeets Texas Grill! We went there with the Thompson's on Saturday after our little project. So that was solid to get it for free. We also went to Allen's Buffet again this week. It’s the place with the really good fried chicken and mac-n-cheese. There are lots of other things there, but I basically get a plate of fried chicken and a plate of mac-n-cheese. It makes you feel sick for a while and I had to take a break three times that night to take care of business, but it’s so worth it. And we used the money that mom sent for us to get "milkshakes". I'd take Allen's Buffet over a milkshake any day! This place is something else when it comes to food!

Well, sorry there wasn't much to report on this week. Maybe this next week I'll have some crazy stuff to tell you!

Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, February 9, 2015

Baptism


Well, everyone... another week in the books. They just keep flying by in the blink of an eye! Hey, that rhymed.

So, interesting story. Well, it may or may not be interesting. We shall see. So, I believe it was Thursday morning when this happened. I was sitting there doing my personal study, and I just started letting my brain go off. I was probably completely zoned out for about 10+ minutes thinking about track since track season is coming up super soon. Which btw, I am just baffled that it was a year ago that my senior track season started! It is hard to believe! Anyway, I wasted a good bit of time just completely not even studying at all. But then I decided that I needed to stop wasting time and start studying again. So, I cut off my thoughts and started to read out of Preach My Gospel. I realized the second I switched my thoughts to missionary work and not track that I just felt so much more peaceful and happy. It made me realize that all the joy I got from track wasn't true joy. It was pretty close to true joy, but it wasn't. Sharing the message of Jesus Christ and his restored gospel and church brings true joy. It is a different kind of joy though. In track I could smile and be pumped because I was happy. With missionary work, you just have a really good feeling deep inside of you that is so peaceful and comforting. Part of it could have been because I don't look back on my high school track with complete satisfaction. If fact, sometimes when I think about it I just feel... not really bitter... but I get a little bit of that kind of feeling. But it has made me realize that there are many more important things in this world that can bring more happiness than things like that.

Anyway, Larry's baptism went good. It was definitely an interesting one, but it happened! We had everything planned and ready to go and it all looked good. But then, about 45 minutes before the service was supposed to begin, the branch president called and said that they were just getting out of the temple in Lubbock because of some miscommunication. He actually went with Bro. Weldy to do his endowments. So that's cool. Well, Lubbock is like two hours away. But he was presiding and conducting and his wife was supposed to give a talk on baptism. And also, the Patton's were supposed to give the prayers, but they were unable to make it as well. So there were five people there besides Larry and us missionaries. The branch president told us to go ahead and do it without him. So I conducted and possibly presided (not quite sure it I did or not).  And then Sis. McCollum who you don't know did the little talk on baptism, and we just threw together some prayers. And we had to baptize Larry twice because his foot came up out of the water. But Larry was pumped! On Wednesday when we asked him who he wanted to baptize him, he thought about it for a few seconds and said, "Let’s let the new guy do it!". Oh man, you should have seen the look on Elder Cardon's face! Hahaha it was classic! So Elder Cardon baptized him and I had the honor of confirming him, which was a pretty dang powerful experience. Confirming someone and giving them the gift of the Holy Ghost is pretty nuts!

On Tuesday we did exchanges with the Zone Leaders. So I stayed in Sweetwater with Elder Schouten and we just straight rocked it! We were on fire!!!! The Lord was putting people in our path left and right and we were just going after it! He raised my game up a lot! It is crazy how good of a missionary you can be when both of you are just going for it hard core! It was just so much fun talking to every single person even if they were halfway in the door and didn't want to talk to us! We definitely saw some miracles from it! And when you literally talk to every single person regardless of the circumstance, the Lord just puts people in your path because he knows and trusts that you will talk to them. We biked all afternoon and just had a blast doing the work! It sure lit a fire under me to keep up that level of work. But it is hard to do it without two people. So that just makes it crucial that I push Elder Cardon to do it. And on Wednesday morning we got up and hit the pavement for a 20 minute run! It felt pretty good! I haven't ran for a while so it was nice! My push-ups are pretty beast though. And I can bike all day every day if I needed to. Even biking up hills is a cake-walk.

Sis. Green is doing better. She may have to get a pace-maker on the 19th. She came outside and read with us on Saturday, so that was a good sign. But she wasn't able to make it to church on Sunday. Bro Mermella is home now too after two weeks in the hospital. He still has to go in for dialysis three times a week though. But he is getting stronger even though his kidneys are shot.

As for teaching...

We gave Erica a blessing this week. We had the Thompson's go over with us and we had a good visit. She is dealing with a lot right now and isn't progressing very much. And we don't want to just dump a bunch of new stuff on her and overwhelm her with even more commandments to follow. They will bless her a lot, but the timing just isn't right. So we just gave her a blessing to help her with everything and give her some peace and comfort.

We have a few new people we began teaching this week. One is named Jordan. He was first talked to before I got here and I have talked to him a number of times but it was always a "bad time". But he sat with us on Tuesday and we had a pretty good lesson with him. So we'll see where that goes.

We started teaching this guy named Ruban. He is only 21 and really wants to grow his relationship with God. It was almost a miracle how we found him. It was definitely not a coincidence. We taught him the Resto and he is just super solid and potentially golden. But we have yet to meet with him a second time.

We also met with this lady who is friends with some members in our branch. She just moved here from Dallas and decided to come to church with her friend. So we went and answered some questions she had about our church and stuff. She has some solid potential. She is a single mother with two young kids. Always in need of the church in that situation.

One lady that lives with Dianne says that she is ready to join the church and be baptized. She in an interesting one. She has said some creepy things to us already and its almost like she just wanted to date us. We're not quite sure how it will all work out, so we'll see about that. She came to church and Larry's baptism, so she is sure dedicated to our church already.

We met with this less-active guy yesterday. He is 22 and hasn't been to church since he was 17. He came once a few months ago, right before I got here, but that’s about it. He is a really nice kid and he could really use the church to stabilize him right now. He has a real desire to come back and really liked us stopping by and giving him a BoM. So that is our reactivation project right now.

We also talked to this guy named Joe. Correction, he talked to us... for 55 minutes. Ugh, it was painful. 55 minutes and we probs said a total of about 10 words. And there were no pauses to say that we needed to leave. It was no bueno.

 Now for the food update! Well, there's not much of an update. We went to Blackland with our entire district on Tuesday. Sis. Bishop told us to let her know when we were having district meeting so that she could take us all out there. So we did. But, apparently meat prices are going up so we think they are having to get cheaper brisket so the brisket wasn't as good. Still better than anything you can get in Idaho, but not quite as good as it has been. Other than that, we really didn't have anything crazy good this week. We did have brisket at the Thompson's yesterday, but they cook it differently. Still pretty dang good, but not quite the same. They always have some dang good food though!

Alrighty peeps. Time for me to go. Have a wonderful week! I love y'all!

Elder Reed Ericson
                                                    
                                                            Larry & Elder Ericson  (above)

                                               Elder Cardon, Larry & Elder Ericson (below)

 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Well, this week was full of change!


On Tuesday morning we drove on in to Abilene to drop off Elder Stringham so he could get on the transfer bus. That was not an easy task. I just barely cried, which was pretty good, I'd say. I got most of my crying out on Sunday and Monday night. But it wasn't easy saying goodbye to him. We had some good times and got along really well!


My new comp is Elder Cardon, straight from the MTC. He is from Southern California and he is 21. So both of my comps have been 21 years old! He went to school at BYU-I for three years before coming out here. He is a good kid and we have got along well. He isn't as outgoing as Elder Stringham but is really focused coming out of the gate! So thats been good! But it has been much different taking the lead in EVERYTHING. I had to plan everything this past week, drive everywhere, contact all the people we already know, and be teaching along the way. It has been good for me though because I am so focused on the work now. Since he doesn't really know about the people we are working with it is up to me to figure out what we need to do to help them. So I am constantly thinking about how we are going to help the people we are working with and also just always thinking about the task at hand. That has been a really good change for me and I am excited to see how much more growth I will have in the coming months! It has been a little overwhelming at times. Thursday was a little overwhelming at times, but nothing I couldn't handle easily and nothing compared to what I know my comp is going through being fresh out of the gate. And last night I was a little frustrated because I was having a hard time thinking about what we needed to do to help a couple people. But that is what prayer and study is for so that should all come to light! But I have been doing pretty good handling all the change and I can already see tons of growth in just a few days!!!

I made a goal with myself on Wednesday night that I will read the Book of Mormon this transfer. I am already close to the end of 2 Nephi. Don't be too impressed. I started a little bit into 2 Nephi. But it has been fun to read it every lunch and dinner time instead of doing who knows what!

One thing that we have started to do is contact former investigators. That has worked pretty well! We have two people that have told us to come by this week. One of them was super solid when they were being taught and still has tons of potential I think so stay tuned for how that goes!

So, church this week was rather crazy. We have had rather low attendance in January, usually 30 something people. But yesterday we had like 55 people at church! That place was packed! We had people show up to church that I have never seen before at church! One guy is this return missionary. He is like 28ish and he has been completely inactive for a number of years. He showed up yesterday to talk to the branch president about how he is really feeling the guilt of everything over the past few years and wants to start the process of getting back! I am super excited to hopefully be able to help him out in any way we can! He said that there has been times when he has sat outside the church for a while feeling embarrassed to come in and never got the courage to walk in. But yesterday he did! He got a very warm welcome from the people that knew him and they were introducing him to just about everybody that he didn't know. It was almost too warm of a welcome if you know what I mean...

So, wanna hear something creepy? Well, here you go anyway. Sis. ___'s house in infested with cockroaches. It is NASTY!!!!! Like, so many cockroaches. Ugh, it was the nastiest thing I have ever seen. And I feel like she is clueless that they are there even though I saw like a million of them in there. EEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!

Well, time for the teaching update. We didn't really teach too much this week. We taught Paul and Paul Jr twice but they were both just like 10 minute lessons, if that. We finished teaching everything to Larry and he is all ready for his baptism on Saturday! We met with Erica, but it was a rough visit because of some distractions and she has a lot of stuff going on in her life right now. But I have something up my sleeve to whip out next time we visit. Stay tuned for that. We also met with a couple other people and read the Book of Mormon with them. One of them, Atanya, has some wicked potential, but we are just taking it one step at a time with her because of a few reasons.  But I am looking forward to continuing to meet with her! We also finally made contact with Reynaldo, and he once again talked to us for over an hour. Emphasis on the "he talked to us" part. Literally people. And we also have started to work with the Weldy's on getting to the temple. So we have set a goal with them to work towards and hopefully we will get to go with them!

Alrighty, now its time for the most popular segment of my weekly email! The Texas Food Update!

This week was decent. In Abilene on Tuesday I went to Chicken Express with Elder King, who I was staying with overnight. Missionaries eat free there so that was nice! They have insane chicken strips that you dip in this special gravy! Oh boy was it good!

Also with Elder King, we had some left-over Filipino food! My goodness, that stuff might beat out the bbq I've been having! It was mazithra noodles with bacon and shrimp in it with these absolutely lights out pork ribs and pork kabobs! Its was something else! And it was just left-overs too!

Then yesterday we went over to Daina (you know, the disfellowshipped JW) & Tommy's place for some french dipped sandwiches. They were heavenly. I don't know what it is about food down here, but its just something else. They just know how to make food differently than anywhere else!

Sorry for the really scattered email! It was just a ton of different stuff packed into one email. But whatevs. At least you got the food update. That's all that matters, right?

LOL (Lots of love),
Elder Reed Ericson
                                                                  
                                                                  West Texas!


                                                      Saying goodbye to Elder Stringham.