Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lubbock Swag


May 26, 2015

Hello everyone! It was a fun week here in Lubbock! I don't have too much time today so I'll cut right to the chase!
 
So, I totally ran and won a 5K yesterday! The church put on a memorial day 5K so almost all of the missionaries here in town ran. They had to postpone the race from 9 to 10 because of lightning and ended up cancelling the race altogether at 10. Well, President Heap said that the pioneers in the Willy and Martin handcart companies endured much much worse so he decided that we would do a TLM run! So, with nobody else there, we took off running in the rain and lightning! I stayed towards the front for the first mile or so. One missionary was super determined and took off like a jack rabbit. I was running with two other elders and we made our way up to about 3rd place behind a single missionary and another dude that was running with us that wasn't a missionary. Well, at about the mile mark we passed up the single missionary and started to gain on the other dude. At the halfway turnaround point I ditched the two missionaries I was with and decided to take on the other dude. So I ran right next to him for like 30 seconds before he died and I was all of a sudden all by myself! I finished the last half of the race all by myself with a pretty solid lead on everyone! I ran the (not quite a full) 5K course in a little over 23 minutes with about a 30 second lead on everyone! Not too shabby. I wasn't even very tired when I finished. I felt quite nice. My shins hurt a little but that was it! I forgot how to mentally and physically run a race like that so I didn't push myself like I used to be able to. Plus, I had to dig deep into my soul to motivate myself to keep kickin' butt. But anyway, it was a lot of fun! Everyone was drenched to the bone after the race and everyone was in good spirits unlike a typical 5k when everyone is ticked off at life. Gotta love that 5k life. 

 
The weather has just been super stormy lately. There seemed to be a low pressure system all week last week. Apparently El Nino happened this year so it’s been cold and wet. We have hardly been into the 90's and most days are 70's-80's. Its just been perfect temperature. So if it doesn't rain it is just very pleasant! I thought I was going to be in scorching hot weather by now but I have had very few hot days so far! I can't complain!

 
Well, I got two “aggressive drivings” this week. One was because I wasn't paying any attention and almost ran a red light and had to apply the brakes very firmly. Got dinged for that. The other one came going through and intersection going to the 5K yesterday because the intersection sucked and was all bumpy with dips and stuff. So stupid. I shouldn't get an aggressive driving for going 5 under through an intersection in a city. Oh well, my driving record is pretty clean still. I don't think I'm even close to becoming a yellow driver. I think I am pretty safely a green driver! 

 
Not much else happened this week! We did get taught by this JW. We taught him the Resto a couple weeks ago which was proceeded by him teaching us about the last days. Then we went back and he taught us about how we cease to exist when we die and some other stuff. He pretty much just dominated the convo. We backed him into a corner a couple times with some questions but he would just talk for about 10 minutes at a time. It was really hard to get out of there. We were there for a long time. We told him we'd stop by again to share some stuff about what we believe about what happens when we die, so we'll see if we even get around to that. Real nice guy though. Also, we have a less-active lady who is married to a non-member. He has finally started to open up to missionaries more in just the last little bit, especially since I've been here, and he has brought up something about there being three heavens to his wife and he was extremely surprised when she told him that our church teaches about that. Apparently he wasn't very happy at the fact that she never told him about that. So, we had an appointment for yesterday for dinner and a lesson, but they had a small emergency and had to go somewhere so they cancelled. But there is tons of potential there to get the whole family to church! We taught a whopping 4 lessons this week! I can't even think of where all those 4 came from... some of them were more formal than others. That's the best week I've had in Lubbock so far!

 
So, some good food updates for y'all. I have found that city food isn't like the small town food. Most of the time members just feed us regular good meals instead of mouth party meals like in Sweetwater. Also, I went to a place called Brian's Steaks last week and had the Texas Tornado burger. It was crazy good. It has a THICK patty that is made with cheese and jalapenos. It was fantastic! Also, the lunch buffet at Double Dave's Pizzaworks is amazing as well! They have these pepperoni rolls that are like heaven on earth. And their desert pizza is amazing. Best pizza buffet I've experienced by a long shot! 

 
Anyway, that's all I have for y'all this week. I hope y'all have a good week! I have a long list of peeps I'll be praying for from this past week! Y'all know who you are! I can't express how much love I have for y'all and I thank you so much for all your support and prayers on my behalf!
 
Love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CONNECTIONS


May 18, 2015

Hello my peeps! (I feel like I use that to start every single one of my emails but whatevs). Still kickin' it here in Lubbock, Texas, obviously. I don't know where else I would be but I am still kickin' it here in case you were wondering. 

 So this week was just full of flipping Idaho. Holy cow. We helped a guy move into our ward here from Meridian. His parents live in Melba and he said that he's pretty sure his father is the high counselor over our ward. His name is Curtis Hoagland. He knows quite a bit of people that I know from around town. I don't think his parents would have been in our ward when we were out in Melba though because he said they live on the south part of town. We also had another family move in (I may have mentioned them already) from Nampa. Also, we went and helped some old people in another ward move down the street in the little housing complex that recently (a year or two ago) moved from Nampa. So I basically just get to talk about the Treasure Valley all day every day. It’s pretty sweet. 
 

So, I finally had the experience that all TLM missionaries have at some point of their missions. I got the car stuck in mud! I turned right one street too early driving South, so I took a left on the next road to head South again. Well, this road was a dirt road, and we had a couple storms earlier in the week. So the road wasn't the greatest, but it was mostly dry with just some muddy spots that weren't even that muddy at all. But then, we approached a muddy spot that was a little bit more daunting. I stopped before we got to it and decided to scout it out and think about what we were going to do. Elder Jones kept telling me we would make it through, which was contradicting my thoughts about not making it through. But I decided that if I stayed to the left side we would be able to make it through alright. Well, I was dead wrong. That mud was a lot thicker and wetter than I thought... so we got stuck. After trying to maneuver the car out of there with a little bit of reverse and forward action I decided that just wasn't going to work. There were some peeps up the road and across the road that we were originally intending to get to waiting for their son to get off the bus. I walked over to them because I thought they were just sitting there laughing at us and I thought they could probably get us out with their Dodge Nitro. However, he had gotten stuck the day before and had to get a wheel replaced because of it. But they came over once their son got off the bus and helped me push the car out of the mud, with Elder Jones in the driver seat because he refused to get out and push. So I had some pretty mud caked shoes and some good mud splatters all over me! It happens all the time here. The other elders in our ward got stuck the same day we did and you hear stories all the time. I'd say that the percentage of missionaries that go home without getting stuck is very low. Even sisters get stuck all the time and have to push themselves out of the mud! And Zone Leaders in their trucks get stuck too! It’s just part of the TLM lifestyle! I am mad that I didn't get a picture though! Still ticked about that.

 On Thursday night there are rumors that a tornado hit Wolfforth and headed east into Lubbock. But we only heard that from our district leader and nobody else said anything about it, so I don't think it actually happened. But still, that storm was pretty crazy for a little while. The lightning is pretty sick, not as sick as I would like to experience up in the Panhandle but still pretty cool. And the thunder isn't as loud as it is at home, which is weird. I think it’s because of the acoustics in the valley or something. But I feel like Idaho storms aren't that much weaker than Lubbock storms.


Cool fact, Lubbock has the highest density of churches, per capita, in the country! They are everywhere! And I also hear that Lubbock has the highest percentage of active religious people in the country as well! So that def doesn't make missionary work any easier!

 We got together and had a "New Ward Order" planning session with the other elders in the ward as part of our weekly planning session on Friday. We have been thinking of ways we can get more involved with the ward here. We have a number of good ideas to get us involved more and we just need to make them happen! I feel like here in this ward we are just missionaries, and we need to strive to have the relationship with the ward where we are part of it and not just assigned to it. We have specific plans for our visits to members’ homes, plans to get more involved with the youth and mission prep, and plans to just be more interactive while at church. Hopefully by the time I am done here we have this "New Ward Order" whipped into place! 

We still aren't teaching very much. We continue to go over to Gerald's. He is kinda crazy though. He didn't like a lot of the things we told him the other day and it’s so hard to try to get anything really going because he will add a thought and then just go off about his life and who knows what for like 10 mins. So it’s difficult, but he has a much more open mind now that he had previously! We also continue to visit the Delwestes. That's pretty much out of our limits now. Luckily we have a professional teacher as our bishop. He is the institute director here in Lubbock so we have some good resources! We did tons of service though this week. We met our 10 hour limit by Friday, but things came up on Saturday and Sunday that we couldn't just leave hanging so we went an number of hours over, which is fine because we are told to go over if the help is truly needed. And it was. Our service was greatly needed and appreciated!
 
I hope y'all have a great week! I love y'all and feel your love and prayers and I pray for y'all too!

 Love,
Elder Reed Ericson
 
Elder Reed with kittens in first picture and second picture is of a camel spider he found while doing service (apparently it is small compared to some of the spiders he encounters) - wait...10 legs?!


Monday, May 11, 2015

HOWDY Y'ALL


May 11, 2015


Well hello my friends. For some of you it has been a week since you heard from me. For others, it’s been less than 24 hours. So let’s get this party started. Actually, there won't be much of a party this week. I am kind of running out of things to say these days. My emails will probs be getting shorter and shorter. Plus, we actually have things to do here so we try to keep it to an hour. Whereas in Sweetwater we had absolutely nothing to do besides clean and nap so we just emailed until we were done with our emails that we had to do. We didn't waste time on the computer, but we would take a little extra time to expound our weekly emails a little bit. 

 
Well calling home yesterday was a hoot. Sorry I had nothing cool to talk about. It was good to talk and all but I just wish I had something cool to talk about instead of boring missionary stuff. If we had more time Elder Jones could have convinced you to live the Law of Moses, but we didn't have enough time. He obviously doesn't believe we should live it because of obvious reasons, but he can make a dang good debate out of it. It is quite hilarious! He is so quick and clever when debating such topics and no one even stands a chance, even when they are debating that something is right when it is so obvious that its right and Elder Jones is debating otherwise. He has a gift! It’s quite entertaining! But it was good to see y'alls faces! And Happy (late) Mother's Day to Mother and all you moms out there!

 
We had Zone Conference on Thursday and it was pretty dang solid. The Assistants instructed a lot about planning. It’s a point they have been talking about for a long time but it is something that we need to change about our missionary character. It’s so easy to schedule a day out. Super easy. But planning a day is much more difficult. They talked about the process of plans, goals, and visions and how we need to use the process properly to plan to achieve our goals which in turn will build upon each other to accomplish our vision. President Heap blew our minds some more. He instructed about how we can be successful missionaries. Which is based off of our commitment to missionary work. He talked a lot about how he gives zero care about our numbers. He doesn't care if a missionary goes home with zero baptisms. He said about baptisms, "It’s not a way you receive recognition in the Texas Lubbock Mission." Now, taken out of context this all sounds crazy, but in context it is all so inspired and beautiful. Another wonderful quote from him, "Elders and Sisters, if you're worried about you work, you're worried about the business model, not the people you're working with." He mentioned the "business model" a lot and how missionaries get stuck in it a lot when that's not what we are here to do. This isn't a business, its a conversion process for us and for other individual people that we work with. Anyway, I hope that made sense. 

 
There has been a lot of rain lately! Which means lots of mud! We have tons of dirt county roads in our area so our car has gotten pretty dang dirty the last couple weeks. I just wish like a million times a day that I had a beastlier vehicle that didn't belong to the church so that I could just drive through all the wonderful mud pits. Unfortunately I drive a church-owned Toyota Corolla and that probably is one of the last vehicles that I would take through a nice big pit of thick sopping mud. This mud is way better than anything I have seen in Idaho. Way better. We actually had a pretty good storm on Friday while we were at the food bank! We were working near the dock where they load food for people who come to pick it up and one of the workers came in and told us to come outside to see something. There was a funnel cloud really close just right in front of the food bank and you could see a number of them in different places. They weren't very bad at all and would need a lot more to turn into a tornado, but it was still kinda creepy. We were on tornado watch all day that day. Tornado watch is basically nothing. It’s not even a tornado warning. When there's a warning you should be worried a little bit but we have been on tornado watch here and not even received any storm. We are at the bottom of tornado alley and tornados aren't too common here. But if you go a couple hundred miles north you are in the hard core tornado zone. Up towards Amarillo and up in the panhandle is where it gets crazy! So it’s not too crazy dangerous here in Lubbock but you never know when something could fly in and hit!

 
We had some pretty good lessons this week! We had a really good lesson with a less-active family. They all bore powerful testimony and there were some tears on their part. It is just such a good environment for lessons. It is quiet with no distractions and then are very good at sharing deep thoughts and bearing testimony. We are trying to get the male of the house to the temple but right now there are some road blocks that we honestly probably won't be able to help him get through completely. He really needs the bishop for this one. We also blew this man's mind. His name is Gerald and we meet with him all the time. Like, a few times a week. Usually he just basically talks to us for an hour about his life (his life is not the greatest... long story). He has been an "investigator" for years but we busted out a little dose of the spirit and some stuff he had never heard before and he went from completely disregarding the Book of Mormon and thinking Joseph Smith was stupid to being super open to everything. It was pretty sweet. We also taught a JW.... that didn't go anywhere. We just talked about the last days with him after a Resto lesson that went nowhere. So that was fun.

 
Anyway, it’s time for me to go! I hope y'all have a good week! I love y'all so much!

Elder Reed Ericson

Friday, May 8, 2015

PICTURES!!!  Presented by Elder Reed's mom.


                                                   Favorite place to eat in Sweetwater.
  (I am not including his pictures of meat on a plate from every angle.)


Elder Reed with Sister Green.


                             Elder Reed with Delilah.  (She likes to sit by Elder Reed at Church.)


                                                                Mustang Bowl.


             His caption that was included with the welcome to Sweetwater sign:  "sickest pic ever!"


                                           I'm guessing West Texas is pretty dang flat...


                    These cacti show up in a number of pictures.  They must be everywhere!


This picture is on the bulletin board at the Church.  Elder Reed (on the right) sent the newspaper clipping to us that included this picture.  It was their "booth" at the Taste of Sweetwater.


                                                State flower of Texas:  Blue Bonnet


                    Elder Reed said he wasn't sure what this was at first.  They are called Ginnies.


                                                   This is Elder Reed with the Weldy's.


This is Elder Reed with Dianne.  She was sobbing when he was transferred out of Sweetwater.


Thanks for watching.  Take the time to drop a note to Reed.  I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.  His e-mail and address are on the right side of the blog. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Service Service Service!


May 4, 2015

Well hello my good friends and family. Another week down here in Lubbock! 

So last week I mentioned service but wasn't able to expand at all. So I thought I would tell you some of the things we have been doing. We go to the food bank once or twice a week. That is great fun for some reason. I don't really know why packaging and sorting food is fun, but it is. My first time going I got to roll up two layers of bacon and package it, so that was the best smelling service I have ever done! Usually when we go there is us, the other Frenship elders who we go with, and then another set of missionaries. They try to have it so that there are missionaries always there. We also have helped with a community garden. We went and helped put in a pathway but we aren't helping with that anymore because it is on the East side of town and they don't need as much help anymore. We also have been getting quite a bit of member service. We built a chicken coop, pulled weeds, etc. We also got to go and clean the outside of the temple last week as well! I wiped down any granite that people sit on. That was pretty fun being able to help clean the Lords house! And after we were done cleaning the maintenance man took us up into the attic part of the temple and also up to the roof. And then, we went to an even higher part of the roof! He almost took us up to just about as high as we could go but he decided not to take us up there: (I didn't get any pics on my camera unfortunately, only on our phone. 

 
The work here in our ward is SLOW. It is difficult to find people because of the way neighborhoods are so spread out and there are just a lot of dirt county roads with some houses scattered down them. We are trying to think of ways we could find more people to work with but every idea that we have ,or Preach My Gospel has, needs people to invite to do certain things. And we are having a hard time with finding those people. I haven't taught a lesson really yet here. We have visited with some investigator-ish type people but it wasn't a true teaching setting where we teach a lesson. More of just a nice visit with them asking us some questions but not really wanting to hear a lesson. But we stay busy with service and also having to drive around getting to different areas to try to make visits and find people. So it’s not like we just wander around lost all day, we usually have something to do. And it is almost impossible to bike in this area. They are starting to push for more strict bike days on Thursdays, but we will have to talk to Pres Heap about that because biking will be too dangerous for us. Our area is a lot of thinner roads with people cruising 50-70 miles an hour down them. Plus, we would have to bike about three times as much on those roads or baron dirt county roads than actually riding through neighborhoods and such. So we are going to get that figured out!

 
The ward here is basically full of Idaho and Utah Mormons who just happen to live in Texas. It seems like everyone isn't from here. So it is very much like a ward that I am used to at home. Not saying that wards down here are any different, but Texans are a little different than Idahoans. But here it’s just a bunch of people that are like the people you would come across back in Idaho or Utah. I really enjoy the people of this ward! Lots of really awesome people! I don't know the ward too well yet but I am meeting more and more people!

 
We get fed a lot more as well. We usually get fed 3-4 times a week compared to 2 on a pretty good week in Sweetwater. I already see how it is making my food stretch longer and I don't have to spend nearly as much money! I love being able to come back to the apartment to relax and have dinner but I am getting more used to this getting fed thing!

 
We should be able to go to the temple soon! We literally live like a half mile away from it. We live on the east side of a main street and the temple is on the west side of the next main street to the east. And since we are in Lubbock we are able to just go whenever we can instead of trying to get members to take us! So we have tentative plans to go with a couple other missionaries here pretty soon. FINALLY I CAN GO TO THE TEMPLE!!!!

 
We do meet with this less-active guy who is trying to get back to the temple. His wife is now fully activated but he is still just not doing what he needs to. He wants to be reading his scriptures more and fast regularly but he hasn't read since I have been here and he hasn't been to church either of the two Sundays. We visit them every Friday night and try to help him get going on what he needs to do, but he is being stubborn. Real nice guy though. He is from the Philippines and went on a mission there as well. He knows what he needs to be doing but just isn't even though he wants to. Ugh. 

 
I had some dang good food this week! We went to Rudy's for Elder Jones' 20th birthday! Rudy's is another bbq place! That place is AMAZING!!! Better than Blackland Smokehouse! But it is more expensive than Blackland. At Blackland I could get a three meat plate with 1.5 lbs of meat for about $14 but at Rudy's they sell it by the 1/2 lb so I got 1/2 lb of moist brisket and 1/2 lb of ribs for close to $17 bucks. So that will be a once a transfer type of thing! It is so worth the money though!!!! I need to bring y'all down here someday so that you can experience the beauty for yourselves!
 

Well I hope y'all have a good week! I pray for y'all every day!

 
LOL,

Elder Reed Ericson