August 3, 2015
Well hello everyone. It is good to be with you this week! Pretty fun week this past week, I'd say. So allow me to unfold it unto you in this email.
Well first things first, the week started off with a fun exchange with our beloved district leader, Elder Benson. What a character. We had much to talk about and I don't think we had silence the entire time. He came over to our area with me and Elder Bench because he loves living the trio life. Which indeed is the best missionary life to live. Nothing beats a trio. Good stuff. But we did like, absolutely nothing on the exchange. After district meeting we went to lunch, and after lunch we changed and rode out bikes over to do some service. The lady we had set up service with wasn't even home so we rode back. By the time we got back and changed we didn't have time to do anything before we got picked up for correlation at our ward mission leaders house up in the north part of our area which is a little bit of a drive. After correlation we didn't have any time to do anything until we got picked up for dinner. And after getting dropped back off at home after dinner we hit the pavement and only had about an hour left of work and so we decided to go try to see someone, but on the way Elder Benson needed to take an emergency bathroom break, so we stopped by the house that the Spanish elders live in which is in our area. By the time we were done with that it was time to walk home.
The next day we went to go see someone who wasn't home and by the time we walked there it was time to walk to Wing Stop for lunch and then the exchange was over. Some days just end up being like that. Btw, we eat free at Wing Stop. A member owns the Wing Stop here in Odessa so we eat there like twice a week usually. It is right by our apartment too! The zone leaders a long time ago tried to make a rule that you could only go once a week but the member that owns it got mad at that rule so they dissolved that rule. So we eat like kings. We also can eat for free at this barbeque place. But it ain't that good. The location closer to us here on the east side only lets you get sandwiches and it has to be after 2pm. The one on the west side of town lets you get whatever you want at any time of day and has better meat. But its too far away. You win some you lose some, right?
Oh yeah, cool story. We now have a vehicle!!! They had the Jeep from Abilene Spanish sitting at the church here in Odessa because it is one of the older cars that the church is taking away. Well, it sat at the church for three weeks just waiting to get picked up by someone, and they finally let us drive it for a few weeks until they take it away! So we no longer have to get rides everywhere and have freedom! And we have a gold mine up north in our area that we haven't been able to get to at all so now we can drive up there to do work! However, I know the danger of letting a car inhibit your work. So, I conducted a good solid chat that night after we got the car about how we need to use it as the tool that its supposed to be. We need to make sure we are out on our bikes and feet as much as possible. Having a car is dangerous. You see a number of missionaries that abuse it and just drive around all day wasting time. So I made it very clear that we are going to use it as a tool and not our mode of transportation. Gotta throw down the hammer sometimes, you know.
Last night we had kind of a sketchy experience. I thought I would have had more sketchy experiences but I have had very little. Only one in Sweetwater that wasn't even that sketchy at all and now only one sketchy one here. Which is surprising, because Odessa is supposed to be sketch. Well last night we went out finding at about 8:15 after a lesson to a nice middle-class "cookie cutter" neighborhood. We saw two people outside right on a corner of two streets that join together. So I waved and asked the dude on the left but he just gave me a little wave and was already kinda walking into his garage. So we went and talked to a sick black dude straight ahead of us. We talked to him for probably 20+ minutes. Solid guy, we are going to see him again next Sunday evening. Anyway, as we were walking away from his house back to the car the first dude that I said high to was sitting near the sidewalk in front of his house. I looked over at him and he waved us over and started talking to us. I got a creepy vibe as we approached him so I made sure that we stopped with a little distance between us and him. He started to ask very specific questions about the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ, and the "nation of peace" that is supposed to be built in our country when Christ returns. He asked things that people don't really know about our doctrine. I felt uncomfortable the whole time and was paying very close attention for the spirit to tell me that we needed to leave. Something about this guy's eyes and body language was unnerving to me. He also was holding something in his hand up to his mouth the first time I said hello to him, and I think that device was in his pocket when we later talked to him. And he was holding a small yellow legal notepad with some numbers on it when we talked to him the second time. Elder Bench took over answering questions and he said later that his mind was very clear and the words were just flowing from his mouth when answering this man's questions. Finally my heart started beating faster and my breath became a little shortened and I knew that it was time to jump in when I could to get us out of there. He asked another question about what kind of body Christ would come back in when he returns and I jumped in and said that we needed to get going but could come back but he insisted that we answer his question before we leave. So, Bench gave a good answer, and then this man said "well I'll shake your hands before you leave" so we shook his hand (you're never supposed to not shake hands in those situations) and walked off. He seemed a little warmer when we shook hands and gave out departing words, so that’s encouraging. Bench said that he got more of a creepy feel from his house but not so much from him, and I got a creepy feel from him and not so much his house. And Wrathall just felt a little uncomfortable. Bench wanted to drive past his house on his way out but he said that he just couldn't really do it and his hand just turned the wheel down a street before we got to his house and Wrathall soon later mentioned that he had a very clear thought that we shouldn't drive past his house. So, we don't really know what happened last night, but we do need to go back to see his neighbor a few doors down on Sunday so we will ask our friend about his crazy neighbor and play it from there. And our friend is jacked and was in the military and stuff so we have some good physical protection and we have all protection when it comes to evil spirits and what not. We are going to try to not go by that area in the evenings when its a little darker and we will only talk to him if he's outside during the daytime. Its also good to not ignore and turn your back to people like that. You always need to talk to them and act friendly and warm by shaking their hands and stuff. He wasn't too terribly creepy though. Just unnerving. Fun stuff though. Luckily I have served in safe places so far on my mission. A lot of missionaries around the world have those experiences every day.
We have been continuing teaching Michael and also Dustin and Rose. Michael bore his testimony in church yesterday! It was pretty dang good! He'll be baptized on the 15th. Dustin and Rose had kinda a crazy week and we only saw them one time, last night. I also taught this 12 year old girl named Aiyannah for the first time yesterday afternoon. Her parents are members but her mom is inactive and lives in Andrews (just a ways north of Odessa) and her dad lives here in Odessa (and he only has the kids on weekends) but they go to Midland for church because he goes to the mid-singles meetings which meets with one of the family wards in Midland. So, we are teaching her because they live in our ward but she will be baptized in Midland into a Midland ward. She has now been taught everything and is a really smart girl! She remembers everything and understands really well. She was going to be baptized on the 15th as well but because of work schedules and different events she won't be baptized until August 27th... which is after transfers. So we shall see what happens there. But we should have a good week this week! Being able to get up north will be huge for us and we will be able to get more going in our area!
That will be all for me this week. I love y'all and I always feel your prayers and support! If you can be ANYTHING, be KIND!
Lots of love,
Elder Reed Ericson