Monday, March 30, 2015

HEATIN' UP!


March 30, 2015

Well hello everybody! It is good to be with y'all again today! This week was a fantastic week and one of the best weeks we've had around these parts for a while!

Well, this email will be kind of the "jumping all over the place" type. So be prepared.

One reason why this week was good was because we were always pretty busy and had productive stuff to do! The weather is finally permitting us to be on bikes any day that we want so we try to bike as much as possible now which makes the days seem super productive because you are always being productive while you are riding the streets! So that was one reason. Another is because we are finally teaching a few people, so stay tuned for that. Also, our mission is making a big push for service so and it was perfect because we had a couple extra service opportunities pop up this week!

Anyway, wanna here about a crazy miracle? So, Bro. Mermella has had some messed up kidneys. He had to go to dialysis three times a week and sometimes even more for over a month. Just a week or so ago the doctor told him that his kidneys had zero chance and that the only way  for him to survive was for a transplant, and those aren't exactly easy to come by, and he would have had to lose tons of weight for that too. But late last week he went into dialysis and the doctor told him that his kidneys are healed and he has been released from dialysis!!!!!!!! HOLY COW PEOPLE! I hope you realize how amazing this miracle is! The man was basically gonna die and now he is healed! The power of the priesthood and prayer is so so strong!

A few days ago we had the chance to sit down with a man at his house. For the sake of confidentiality that is all I am going to say about who he is. Anyway, we started talking to him and very quickly he started talking about his marriage/relationship problems. As missionaries we aren't really allowed to give any kind of advice like that, so we just encouraged him and his wife to do what we can preach to people, like pray and read scriptures. So we talked to him (more like he talked to us) for quite some time about this stuff. But what I got from this experience was that I realized that he trusted us and as a result the whole time we were talking to him I just felt so much love for him and his wife. It feels so amazing when you know someone trusts you enough to sit and talk to you about what he was talking about, especially when you are a 19 year old boy who knows nothing about life. For some reason that experience has stuck with me the past few days and I am so happy that I am in a position where people can openly talk to me and share their lives with me. I also have thought a lot this week about how I just really love the interactions with people. Don't get me wrong, sharing the gospel is cool and all, but the moments that I get to just interact with people and sit down and talk with them, whether it be with a random person on the street, someone we know, or someone just at church, make this experience worth it for me!

We went on exchanges with the zone leaders this week! They have just been going on exchanges with random companionships lately an apparently it was our turn. But I stayed in Sweetwater with Elder Cutler, who is a crazy fitness fool. We went and worked out in the morning at the track. We did a pretty sweet workout with some running mixed in. And by we I mean he. I did two sets of the workout and almost threw up, so I just ran a few more laps and called it quits. He did like 7 sets of the workout.......... he's insane. He is in crazy good shape! Like, 20x better shape than I have ever been in my life! He is a state champion wrestler from Utah and is just one of those workout nuts.


On Friday we were able to go out to Colorado City and help Dutch Verschoor finish some stuff around his house before he leaves for good. That man is funny! I wish I would have had more opportunities to be around him outside of church because he is a fun one to be around! The conversations you have with him can only be had with him. We talk about crazy stuff, man. Crazy stuff. I realized I don't even have time to write about anything we talked about because it would take me too long so this paragraph is not unimportant. But whatevs. We went to the Patton's after that and we got to go out and check out their baby horse! That was fun! That little rascal is pretty fun!

Teaching this week was good! We taught Melissa and Troy again. Melissa is awesome and is still just really interested in learning. Our visits with her are pretty informal though. She always asks us questions and we get off track talking about stuff and have to real it back into the lesson. But I enjoy our lessons. We taught Troy again as well. If it wasn't for Elder Cutler we probs would have had a no bueno lesson but Elder Cutler saved us and it went really well! We also taught another guy named Leno. He grew up in a mormon community in Nevada. He is Catholic and said he isn't interested in changing. We taught about the last half of the Restoration and left him with some pamphlets to read. He said he would read them and see if anything sparks an interest to learn more. But he is a really nice guy and so hopefully he reads and finds something he likes!

As far as food goes, it wasn't a crazy week for food.  Dutch Verschoor did smoke some teriyaki chicken which was way good. Mesquite pretty much can make any meat taste amazing. Its great stuff! We also had a potluck after church yesterday! Those are always good! It wasn't anything special, but hey, free food. I love being in a branch where they can just have everyone stay after church and have a meal! Holla!

Well, I hope y'all have a good week! I love y'all!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, March 23, 2015

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE


March 23, 2015

Well hello my good friends. It’s that time of week again where is sit down at the computer and spit my brains out with random nonsense. Just kidding. It’s random, but not nonsense.... usually.

Well I was trying to think about a subject for this email, and that subject randomly came into my head. Don't really know how it applies, but I did think of something that kinda applies. So we are getting these little black boxes attached to the inside of our windshield from the insurance company. Apparently they monitor your driving and tell you when you are driving unsafely. I think that you can then save on insurance for good driving. Well, I have a feeling that this may backfire on them. Sure, we drive carefully and all, however we are still 18-21ish year olds driving out on the road. We are bound to have to slow down quickly or swerve to not hit a dog or something (or deer... that happened to me a couple weeks ago. Big ol' deer went flying across the road at night. I had to put the brakes on pretty dang hard. It was pretty sweet). So this should be interesting. At least we will be much more accountable to go the speed limit since they can track our speeds and such. In fact, one of our zone leaders got pulled over for going 14 over on the freeway a few weeks ago! Hahaha! Don't worry, I don't speed in mission vehicles! So that’s cool. Speaking of cars. So we had to get one of our tires repaired about a month ago because it had a nail in it. And then today that same tire had to be repaired again because there was a nail in it. And on Thursday we had to go get our windshield replaced because it had a crack in it. And then last week our car told us that it needed an oil change. So Jeepy isn't being very kind to us right now. Ugh.

Anyway, other interesting/hilarious news. Last Monday we got a call from one of the assistants and they told us that they had been notified by the church after they sent our baptism report in that Larry is already a baptized member of the church! Hahahaha! He told us that he had been baptized twice before in Big Spring, which is just an hour or two down the road, but didn't make the connection. Which is weird, because me and Elder Stringham prayed a lot to know if we needed to baptize Larry or not and we both got a very distinct answer to go ahead and do it! So we must have done it for a reason. Not sure what that reason is, but we did. They told us that it was totally fine though and said, "Good reactivation effort guys!". So I was pretty pumped about that.

We had a pretty good storm one night last week. It started raining pretty good after we came inside for the night, and as I was lying in bed with my eyes open for a few mins I saw a sharp flash of light coming through the blanket that covers the window that is right above my bed. And then just a split second after the lightning came the sharpest roar of thunder I have ever heard! Back at home we would get some pretty good thunder that shook the whole house, but that stuff was deep sounding. This was a really sharp crack that basically shook the apartment! It was nuts! And I am right against the wall to the outside of the apartment and am right underneath a window so I got a pretty good feel of it! That was the only lightning or thunder for the night, which was odd, but I woke up at 4:30 to some lightning and some pretty good thunder. Apparently we are getting to the time of year where we'll get some pretty good thunder storms around these parts. I am PUMPED!!!!

We had interviews with President Heap this week. My interview went pretty well! Our zone leaders didn't tell us to prepare anything and said that they hadn't heard of anything for us to prepare for, so we just went unprepared for anything. But come to find out when I sat down with President, we were supposed to prepare to share and teach him something we've studied in Preach My Gospel recently and then also teach him something from the scriptures. I did a pretty beast job for not preparing anything! And usually with interviews he just has the same interview over and over again and they usually aren't very long. But I was in there with him for over 20 minutes, compared to other missionaries who sometimes only go about 5 minutes. So we had a good visit and I feel pretty special that I got a little bit more of an interaction with him that most. He is the man! He is no doubt called of God to do the work he does!

So just a few funny quotes from the last couple of weeks over at Dianne's. So she has a friend that has been coming with us for the last month or two. Two weeks ago when we were over there, I sang something, can't remember what it was, and she just said, "Oh gosh... you sound like a sick cat." hahahaha! And then last week we were talking about something, can't remember what, and she looked and pointed at me and said, "I'd like to see this one as a woman." hahahahahahaha! I died with laughter. And for those of you who don't remember who these people are, they live at a house for special needs people so they all have different types of disabilities. Its great fun going over there! I have so many funny quotes from here in Sweetwater! I even started a quote book. So far it has about a million hilarious Bro Patton quotes, but it will get some diversity here throughout the rest of my mission. I just am not quite sure if anywhere else has anyone like Bro Patton! That man is FUNNY!

We got two new investigators this week! Finally. Both are interesting cases. One is this guy named Troy. He says that his relationship with Jesus Christ is just about as good as it can get right now and that nothing can make it stronger. We may be having a lesson on humility with him soon. Some people just amaze me. And then we taught this other lady named Melissa and she is just really interested in learning about different religions but not big into practicing organized religion. She is a really nice lady and gladly accepted to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. In fact, when we showed up, she was sitting on her porch reading a book about Islam! So she is just very interested in learning stuff so hopefully she can find truth! We also are teaching a girl in our branch who is turning 8 this week. Her mom wants her to learn everything and have "more Jesus" in her life. Haha her mom is hilarious.... anyway, so that’s fun teaching an 8 year old. And then we have the usuals that we teach including mainly Larry and Paul. We mostly just go over and visit Erica these days but are trying to add some teaching into it. She had just stopped doing anything we invited her to do and such but she needs good solid friends to talk to so we fill that role and add some spiritual stuff to it.

Now for the food update. Pretty solid week this past week! I had my first chicken pot pie! It was quite delicious! Sis Hunt is famous for her pot pies and I got to partake of one! Very good! We also had Mahi-Mahi at the Patton's! Boy was that good! I haven't had too much fish but Mahi-Mahi is apparently one of the best fishes to eat! It was blackened with some sort of cajun spice that basically made you cry and not able to breath when you were in the kitchen while she was cooking. But it tasted amazing so the tears were well worth it. We also had homemade lasagna at the Thompsons. My goodness was that amazing as well. I have always been a store bought lasagna kind of guy but this stuff blows it out of the water! And yes, I have had store bought lasagna recently. I have bought a few like two serving sized lasagna's for dinners. But this homemade crock-pot lasagna is unreal. Also, we will be helping the Relief Society with their booth at the Taste of Sweetwater event here in a couple weeks. This thing has been described as "a buffet on steroids" by the local newspaper. All the local restaurants go and give away free samples of food. They said that we would get a free meal ticket so I am pumped to have endless options of amazing Texas food!

That's all for this week! I hope y'all have a good one and may God bless you as you go about your days doing good!

Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Thursday, March 19, 2015

RATTLESNAKE ROUND UP


March 16, 2015

Well to start off, we didn't go to the Rattlesnake Round-Up. But, this place was poppin'. There were THOUSANDS of cars early Saturday afternoon here in town! Our church building is right down the street from where they have the Round-Up so there was just a huge line of cars on the main road that our church sits on! I literally just didn't know what to do Saturday. The rest of the town just felt dead. It was actually pretty normal for a Saturday, but knowing that there was a crazy even happening in another part of town just made everything feel dead. So that was interesting. The big attraction though was the carnival. That place was packed! On Friday afternoon the Round-Up parade went right past the church so we just sat on the lawn with our branch president and his wife to watch it. It was LAME. It was like 5 minutes long with nothing very exciting. Kuna's parades kick its trash.

We've just had beautiful weather the last week or two. It’s been right around 70 degrees every day and some days there is a nice pleasant breeze to enjoy as well! I am enjoying it while it last because it’s going to be scorching here pretty soon!

 

On Wednesday we were out biking for just a little bit before we went to Larry's when my back tire went flat because of a goat head. As we were walking the bikes back to the apartment (we were close luckily) we walked underneath a tree and a bird up in the tree decided that it needed to excrete some waste. So it decided to do it right on my head................. luckily I was still wearing my helmet though! I had thoughts of taking my helmet off but decided that I may as well leave it on so I didn't have to carry it. Looking back I can honestly say that the spirit was telling me that. My thoughts were def not normal thoughts when thinking about that. So thankfully I followed its impressions and didn't get bird crap on my hair/head!

One afternoon we rode past the track on our bikes. It looked like they were having combined middle school/high school practice. The throwers were right next to the road and one kid yelled over "Nice bikes!" in a sarcastic voice and then they were talking about us and laughing. I just said "Thanks dude! They are pretty nice!" and just laughed and thought, "Dude, you don't even know. Let me come to track practice some day with you and we'll see who's laughing then. I'll even throw shot put with you to make it fair...". Kids these days.

We knocked quite a bit this week. We tried to locate some areas where we didn't think had been hit very much by missionaries. We found some pretty good potentials that hopefully let us teach them later when we try back. We haven't had any success with any of them yet. We did run into some pretty interesting stuff though. We started talking to this one man, correction... he started talking to us, and he was nuts. He was going on and on. Well, long story short, I was working him for a period of about 10 minutes (we were standing there for like 45 minutes) just asking him some sweet questions and actually had him at a loss for words a couple times. It was pretty sweet. However, it got the a point where he started talking about conspiracy theories and crap and we just lost him so I got us out of there with some smooth escape skills. Escape skills are very useful and luckily I have gotten pretty good at getting out of situation where people are just talking and talking and talking and talking! Another cool knocking story... we were up knocking some more rich area houses when this lady came to the door. She was very nice and said she was familiar with our religion because she wrote a paper about it for school. I asked her what school she went to and she said TCU. So I naturally brought up how I am from Boise and a BSU fan and we had a nice quick chat about the rivalry we had for a couple years. Go Broncos!!!! Unfortunately TCU was really good this past season but whatevs.

Our new branch president has been great so far! We had branch council yesterday and it was a very productive meeting! We hadn't really had one of those since I have been here but good things are in store for the Sweetwater Branch! I am excited for the next 5 weeks and who knows if I'll stay longer after that. But it should be good!

On Friday we went out to the Patton's and we painted their little garage thing! I know that "little garage thing" isn't very descriptive... but whatever. It’s just a little garage that doesn't even fit a car in it. It is just made from tin but has wood finish and corners. So we spent about 2.5 hours painting and got it all done! It was great fun! I am a beast painter! One of the best around, I'd say. Sis. Patton's brother is in town visiting as well and he reminds me of Uncle Quin! So shoutout to Uncle Quin! You da man!

Teaching this week was slow. We did the usual people like always. We did run into this guy though that I talked to one of my first weeks here that we were never able to get a hold of again. He was super interested back then, but when we taught him on the spot outside he didn't seem very interested anymore. Which is sad. But we are continuing to find new potential investigators but we have just had problems with them opening their doors when they come back! Its been a goal to try to teach more on the spot but that is hard to do most of the time. But we have some real solid potentials that we can hopefully teach this week!

I had chicken fried steak for the second week in a row this week! This time it was at the Patton's and it was way good! Better than last week, and last week's was pretty dang good too! I love Texas food!

Well I hope y'all have a good week! And good luck to my boy Kevin as he departs on Wednesday for the MTC and then to TEXAS!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Reed Ericson

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Days Go By


March 9, 2015

Time keeps flying by! Officially another transfer down! I guess I will just get this out of the way early, I am staying in Sweetwater to finish training Elder Cardon. I am hardly even training him anymore... we are basically doing training together. Hahaha we still work on stuff and I take the lead for "training" stuff but he is hardly a young buck anymore and my level of knowledge isn't too crazy above his! So we have been learning and growing together! It’s been good!

Well this week was a pretty regular week. I went on exchanges on Tuesday and went to Abilene. And our district leader in the Spanish Branch so I got to practice mi espanol a little bit. I'm pretty rough these days with espanol... I did alright though. Except I accidentally said "gracias" the spanish way with the "th" instead of the "s" sound like a million times. I had to correct myself every time so that they wouldn't think I was an idiot. Oh well, I was never harmed. Which I don't think they cared one bit but whatever. It was weird though, we got fed both lunch and dinner in Abilene. That was an odd experience for me! But it was a good exchange with Elder Cuessy aka Elder Cosmo. Also one other cool thing from Tuesday is that at district meeting while our cars were being inspected we were drawing our home states on the chalk board and one of the sisters drew Hawaii and said that she was from Oahu. I mentioned that the old football coach from my high school went to Kahuku High School and apparently that’s just right down the road from her school. Turns out, she apparently knows Lee Leslie somehow. I will have to investigate a little more on how she knows him.

This week was full of trying like a million people. Since it has been cold we haven't been able to find new people. So we wrote down the names of tons of former investigators that had "try back later" on their teaching records and wrote down the names of all the less-actives that lived in Sweetwater that didn't have a "they hate us" by their name. Oh, and we also wrote down names of like 20000000 former potential investigators to try as well. Well, we had almost zero luck with that. Hahaha! We did knock into a pretty interested lady up in the really nice houses. So we are going back this week and hopefully will be able to teach her entire family! That would be solid!

On Wednesday night we went in to teach Paul with zero precipitation but cold weather. 20 minutes later when I opened the door to leave the ground was covered in snow and it was just flying down out of the sky! It wasn't your normal snow though, this stuff was more like white sand on the ground! It was really weird stuff that I have never seen before! It has warmed up now and it is supposed to stay warm for the rest of the spring, so that’s good!

They had a farewell get together for the Verschoors on Friday night at the church since they are moving today, so we went for a while. When he shook my hand goodbye all he said was, "Elder, see you in Adam-Ondi-Ahman!" and then we joked about how all the missionaries that have passed through Sweetwater in the last couple years will all just pile up in their guest bedroom if/when we go there for the big day. The second coming is all the rage with these people down here. I probably get into a conversation at least a few times a week with people on the streets about it and then sometimes it comes up at church too. People don't seem to be worried about it though so that’s good, even though I know for a fact some of them need to be a little more worried about it. Hahaha

We had stake conference this weekend. We went into Abilene on Saturday night for the adult session and on Sunday. The topic picked by the first presidency for the adult session was an interesting one. I can't remember if you have had stake conference or not but if you haven't you will soon find out. Then on Sunday the topic was daily prayer and scripture study. Very simple but VERY important and I think a lot of people got a lot out of that meeting! President and Sister Heap were there and both only talked for a few minutes. Pres. Heap blew it out of the water and everyone was just sitting there like "What just happened?" I went to the bathroom after the meeting and the stake president came into the bathroom and started to talk to me about him and said that he hears missionaries all the time say how their mission president will be an apostle someday but really have no idea what they are talking about. But he said that Pres. Heap will no doubt be a very high leader of the church someday sooner rather than later! I just hope they let him finish his time up as mission president!

Another tidbit of info, we are the only companionship in our zone (11 companionships) that wasn't changed this transfer! So that’s pretty crazy! My zone really hasn't had tons of changes while I have been here until this transfer!

We didn't teach much this week. Just a few small lessons to people you already know about. So not much to report there. But we were able to stay busy with stuff and that’s the important part. Time goes by fast if you are always doing something. Sometimes the evenings go by a little slow because the people we planned to visit fall through but they aren't too bad at all. 

I had my first homemade chicken fried steak yesterday! It was very yummy! The Thompsons were amazed that it was my first time ever having homemade chicken fried steak and always tell me I am food deprived when we talk about meat. I just tell them that nobody has food like that in Idaho and that a lot of the good meats down here are smoked and people don't smoke meat in Idaho very much!

Anyway, I hope y'all have a good week this week and are able to have continued good weather up at home!

Love, Elder Reed Ericson

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

COSMO

March 2, 2015
 
Hello my dear family and friends! Another crazy-ish week here in Sweetwater! We only have one more week left of this transfer and it has just flown by like crazy! If feels like it started last week!
So to hit on the subject of my email... I have known this for a long time but never told y'all because I just never thought about it. But, my district leader is a former Cosmo Cougar! He went to BYU for a year before he came out and spent that year dressed up in a Cosmo costume. Obviously he isn't supposed to tell anyone, but his mom told Sis. Heap and then she basically told everyone in the mission. And since we all knew he confirmed it and has talked a little bit about it. So that's pretty cool.
Wanna hear something really depressing. So some weeks I let myself get a treat to enjoy throughout the week. Sometimes it is a roll of cinnamon rolls, sometimes it’s a box of Nutty Bars, and this past week it was a pack of Oreos. However, much to my displeasure, when I got home and opened up the pack, I realized that I had purchased single stuffed Oreos...................... I. Was. Ticked. They are hardly even Oreos. You hardly even can tell there is any cream there! So that blew chunks.
As far as the weather goes... this past week was pretty nuts. It started out cold. In fact, when we got back to the car after emailing last week it was 16 degrees. It got a little bit nicer over the next few days and then another storm came through and it has been around 20-30 degrees the last 4 days or so. Apparently the weather men straight up say that there is no way for them to predict the weather and the forecast apparently changes every couple hours. We've heard that there is supposed to be another storm on Wednesday but we've also heard that it is supposed to warm up during the week. Nobody knows. They even cancelled church yesterday, so that was weird. So we just had a regular day of work.
Another cool thing, we knocked one of the rich streets in town. Missionaries never go back there because there is never success with them. But we had nothing else to do when it was like 20 degrees outside so we went and knocked out a street with a bunch of really nice houses! It was fun... a couple people were nice-ish but had zero interest. Plus, my "what are you doing to prepare yourself for the second coming?" approach was a total bust. I thought it would be pretty fun, and it was, but people don't seem to be worried about preparing themselves for it. Whatevs. I'll have to come up with another clever approach and see how it does.
We actually got to teach some peeps this week! We did our usual teaching with Larry and Paul. But we finally were able to contact and teach Ruban who was last mentioned a few weeks ago! He really wants to build his relationship with God and even after a terrible lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (well, he didn't know it was terrible) he asked us when he could get baptized! So we set a goal date of March 28 so we'll see how he comes along. I think he has a long way to go but we can get him there!

We also got two new investigators! We talked to this guy working on his car late in the week two weeks ago and he just said to come by Thursday at 4ish. So we did and just expected for him to not be there because he seemed zero interested when we talked to him and usually those people will just give you a time to show up and them not be there. But we showed up and he was expecting us! He even has his wife come and sit down with us around the kitchen table and we had a really good Restoration lesson with them and they had lots of really good questions for us afterwards. Their names are Conse and Jessica. They set up another appointment without us even really asking and even mentioned setting up a third appointment but weren't quite sure when they could do it. So they are super solid! And they have two little kids, but they aren't baptism age. But they are a family and those are the best to teach apparently.
Also I told you about that returned missionary a couple weeks ago that showed up to church. Well, he hasn't showed up since and when we went over to the house he was staying at they said that he wasn't staying there anymore and he didn't respond to any texts. But, I called him on Thursday evening and started to leave a message when all of a sudden I was receiving a call and it was him calling us before we even were able to leave a message! So we are going to go see him this week! That was a miracle!
As far as food goes, we had a delicious Mexican meal on Friday! I totally forgot that they do meals differently. So we sat down (just us missionaries) and started eating this soup stuff which was really good. It took me about 30 seconds to remember that it was just the first course! I was confused for just a second as to why that was what we had for dinner. But then we were brought some homemade flautas that were REALLY good and then had some really good pumpkin roll stuff for dessert! It was my first authentic Mexican meal out here in Texas and it was fantastic! They are pretty awesome people and I really hope I get to stay another transfer because I am just starting to get to know them... and they mentioned us coming over for dinner again... and we are getting pretty tight now.
Anyway, that's all I have for this week. I hope y'all have a good one! I love y'all!
Elder Reed Ericson
 

Pic #1: Sweet icicle from right outside our apartment


 
 
Pic #2: I really regret not knocking on this house. That would have been a good story....