Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Days Go By


September 21, 2015

Well this week was interesting... haha some interesting stuff happened! First and foremost we no longer have a car! Our temporary use of the car is now over. We found out Tuesday that they would be taking it on Friday evening! So, Friday came around and we no longer have a car! So starting Saturday we are now officially a bike area again! I don't mind it too much, I like to be out and about all day, it makes you feel extremely productive! Plus, the weather has cooled down a bit this past week so it wasn't too bad the last couple days! In fact it was quite pleasant! So it will be a good 2 weeks to finish this transfer out on the bikes and hopefully we can continue with good weather to accompany us! #Pray4WestTexasWeather

Well on Thursday we went to our service at the Presidential Archives, and guess what!? They were having a press conference for the start of Constitution Week! It really wasn't that cool, but hey, its not too often that you get to attend a press conference for the start of Constitution Week! So we took a break from our work and they had us go watch the press conference for which took maybe a little over 30 mins and then they fed us some cake and then we were back to work in the back room. So that was exciting. Fun fact about that place, right behind the building is the childhood home of George W. Bush. I believe he lived there most of his childhood after H.W. moved there right around the time that W. was born. So Odessa is basically famous for lots of stuff. Also, another interesting thing from the press conference, apparently Texas has a Pledge to its flag. Haha they did the Pledge of Allegiance for the American flag and then adjusted slightly to face the Texas flag and did the Pledge for that one.... Texas pride ain't no joke. A number of people during the press conference mentioned how proud they were to be an American, AND a Texan!

Some other cool random stuff. In the last week I have seen a 1A and a 2C Idaho license plate! What are the odds of that?! I saw the 1A one on Tuesday afternoon and then I saw the 2C one last night! Crazyness! There's Treasure Valley peeps all over down here!

We had some pretty good lessons this week! We taught Mark again last Monday and we had a really good lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and committed him to the 10th of October for baptism! We are excited to keep working with him. He has great faith and a desire to KNOW for himself. He is lacking a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon but he has had many other spiritual experiences at church and on other occasions that he is feeding off of! We also had a sweet lesson yesterday with a young couple. The guy is a returned missionary of a few years who has fallen off track quite a bit but is wanting to get back on track and is working on that. He has a girlfriend that is interested in learning and finding the truth for her. We were able to go teach them yesterday with our Bishop. We had lunch with the bishop's family right after church so we had him go with us. I guess we had no other choice because he was our ride home.... but it was a solid lesson with a good spirit to accompany us! We are obviously focusing more on the girlfriend, but it is a good opportunity to help the guy feel the spirit and remember the testimony that he already has inside of him!

Another funny story.... so, one of the traveling assistants was down here for a couple days this past week with our zone leaders. They had gone over to teach this guy who smokes like a chimney and it left his clothes smelling absolutely awful! So he needed to put his pants in the wash obviously. So he did so, but was left without any pants! So Elder Spencer who is about 6' had to wear Elder Moschetti's pants who is about 5'6". Hahahaha it was the funniest thing I've ever seen! They were showing about 4 inches of ankle and he had a hard core perma-weggie! Oh my goodness, I didn't have my camera or else I SO would have gotten a picture to send home. And he went out and proselyted for a few hours I think wearing those! He had a good sense of humor about it though. I mean, you have to in that situation. He had some funny stuff to say about his situation!

We have a new ward-mission leader. I don't know if I've mentioned that yet. He is a huge body-builder, so he is just yolked out of his mind! He is down here working in the oil business but he is from Canada so he speaks with a little bit of Canadianness. Holy cow is he funny! He went out to a lesson with us earlier in the week and was just super blunt and said the funniest stuff. We have dinner over there at least once a week now too and you never know what conversation you're going to get into. Super guy though. And awesome family. His wife is legit as well. I am looking forward to continuing to work with him. He has a fire to get stuff going in our ward and do something different! Also, once they find a house to buy, he had a full gym set of equipment and we will be able to work out in the mornings with him. But who knows when that will be. I may be gone by then!

Anyway, that's all I have for y'all this week! I hope y'all have a good week ahead of you and always remember who you are and what you stand for! I love y'all!

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, September 14, 2015

Odesssssssaaaaaa


September 14, 2015

Well hello everyone. Just for a warning, I have no plans about what I will be talking about today. Usually it takes me a little bit to go through and see what I did the previous week and write it down so I remember. Everything is just turning to mush in my mind so I can never remember what happened the previous week. I really right now have no idea what I am going to say in this next paragraph so I am just stalling and hoping that something comes to my mind as I sit here typing away...........................................

Well, I decided to just go ahead and start a new paragraph and let the spirit guide. Well, this past week was a little more difficult. We had a number of punched appointments and we tried by people like crazy and nobody was ever home to answer their doors. Like, they were legit not home. No cars, no lights, no sounds. We got like 6 media referrals last week because they went through and are cleaning out the referrals in the mission office and just sent all the old ones out again that didn't have updates on them. So, we thought we were going to be busy visiting them but that turned out to be a bust. Ain't nobody ever home and ain't nobody ever answering their phone. We also spent a lot of time trying to contact less-actives in our area because we have like a gajillion of them but that has been a total bust too. Sheesh, there are so many less-actives in Odessa. They say that if most of the people on the 1st Ward's roster actually went to church they would go from 1 to 3 wards! They have 32 pages of roster and a pretty weak ward. We don't have that many, I think we have like 19 pages or so. Anyway, it wasn't bothering me too much, I am used to not really having too much to do to fill out your days, but Elder Despain has been having a hard time with it. What we need is more potentials which means more finding which means walking/biking around talking to people. Its no biggy for me, I can go out and find all day if I needed to, but for a new missionary that is difficult. I remember those 2 hour long finding sessions in Sweetwater when I first came out... they were death. So I am trying to find out how to balance our days so that we can be productive and get some finding in but not go out and find for chunks of time. Which isn't too hard to do. Pretty easy actually. We just have to work through a few things.

Our teaching has been going well with the teaching that we do have. We were able to go teach this kid named Mark on Tuesday right after emails. He is basically a family member of the Noyes family in our ward. He is 19 and is "converting to Mormonisn" after having bad experiences in a different church. He is solid as can be. We were able to teach him the Plan of Salvation and are teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ today, which I am pumped about because I love that lesson. Its just so rockin'. Also, we are continuing to meet with Rose. We talked to her and we are going to start teaching everything over from the start. She is basically ready to go but with Dustin (her boyfriend) in jail there are some hold-ups of sorts. But she is legit. Super good spirit about her. Remember that crazy dude I mentioned last week that we went and taught? Yeah, well we went back this past week and taught his daughter who seemed to be more of the reason that they requested a visit. But, before we taught her we had another LONG crazy conversation. So, let me expound the story unto you. So this man is like 40ish. He has this weird thing with Ukrainian girls. He has spent over $90,000 on Ukrainian girls in the last year or two. Like, straight up. He even went and fought in the Ukrainian army for a few months not too long ago to show his loyalty to them. So, as of now, he has this like 25 year old Ukrainian girl that looks like a supermodel that he is engaged to....... ok. Super weird, right? Well, his nephew who is probably mid-late 20's also has some Ukrainian girl that he is engaged to........ ok. This is getting really weird, right? Well get this, his 14 year old daughter has this 14 year old Ukrainian dude that she is "dating"......... huh. Ok. They showed us a picture of this 14 year old dude. He's is an absolute monster. Like, biggest muscles I have ever seen on someone under the age of like 18 years old. Anyway, the father and the nephew are trying to explain "love" to these Ukrainian girls. Apparently the Ukrainians only think of love as an emotion and not as an action or anything. I could go on for days about the details but for the sake of time, we don't need to go there. So, these people are just going crazy trying to figure out how to teach these Ukrainian girls what "love" is. Oh my goodness...... they could go on forever. They have been on this extensive search to find out exactly what love is according to the Bible, so they have been out talking to preachers and stuff and trying to get it all figured out. And they were so thankful to have two "prophets" in the house with them to help them figure this out! Hahaha we ain't no prophets! We taught you about prophets three days ago, dude! Anyway, we came to the conclusion after a total of like over an hour that love is an emotion that you can express through actions. I actually like that definition.

Anyway, along with teaching all these peeps. Elder Despain is making some good progress with his teaching. He definitely has had WAY more opportunities to teach his first three weeks than I did. I think I had one lesson my first three weeks.... he's had quite a bit and he is definitely making strides! We also have opportunities to teach Michael and Aiyannah the recent convert lessons so we have had lots of additional opportunities with that.

Well, I really just can't think of anything else to talk about this week. Oh yeah, I thought of one. I was able to give Michael the Aaronic Priesthood at church yesterday and ordain him to the office of a Priest! That was pretty cool! I had never done that before so it was a good experience! I definitely love being able to use my priesthood to bless others! There is no greater feeling than being able to know that I am righteously exercising my priesthood and am worthy and ready to exercise it whenever it is needed! In fact we had a cool experience with that last Monday. We were all hanging in one of the other apartments, and most of the elders were playing an intense game of Risk and they were getting a little loud and a little out of control. Its what happens, no knock on them. However, I was just sitting to the side trying to get our new phone all set-up, and another one of the brand new elders was in the room laying on his bed. We got a phone call saying that a blessing was needed at the hospital, they were all so involved with their game of Risk, so I took Elder Nebeker with me to go give the blessing. I was very thankful that I was ready to be called upon at any given moment to exercise my priesthood, and have Elder Nebeker ready as well. We didn't have to invite the spirit or anything because we already had it with us and were ready to be called upon. It gave me a good perspective about how I need to be like that my whole life. Obviously I am not going to be boring or anything, but I need to be always ready to be called upon in any situation, because I'll never know when my authority is in need.

Well, hopefully I have some fun stuff to talk about next week! But for now I will be ending this email! I love y'all and pray for y'all every day! Have a fantastic week full of fun and joy!

With all my love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hello


September 8, 2015

Well I had no idea what to put as the title of this email... so I ended up just putting "hello" in the subject line. I need to work on my creativity. I wonder if there's a Mormon Message about that. I wouldn't know, because we don't have ipads yet, and we don't know when we'll get them. However, they did promise all the new missionaries that they would get them at some point. So, we are still waiting on that.

Anyway, it was a good week down here in Odessa, Texas! Tons of stuff going on for me. It was quite the week. To start off, I had my second District Meeting today after having my first one last Tuesday. Not gonna lie, they were two dang good district meetings! It was awesome to see the spirit guide me as I prepared to instruct my district. For my first one I had nearly an entire instruction planned out by Saturday and then I had an idea to do something else so I switched it up and it was awesome! We are supposed to instruct off of what we talked about in our special "District Conference" with Pres Heap and the assistants a couple weeks ago, so I instructed on having a vision of what you want to be and become on your mission, and I really focused on how Satan is going to do everything he can to stop you from achieving that vision. The spirit just gave me some awesome ideas and it was a powerful message that I truly learned a lot from preparing and instructing. I obviously started crying at one point, and I almost had a couple of the other Elders crying too. Gosh, I'm such a cry baby. And then today I almost cried, but no tears came out so I did solid. Today I instructed about humility and grace and the process we need to take to receive Christ's grace, and how it is the only way we can have the power and authority we have to have in order to fulfill our calling as representatives of Jesus Christ. I was really worried about today because I only have three other people in my district without the zone leaders and two of them are new missionaries, so I didn't think I was going to have very good participation but we had a lot of participation and awesome comments to work with! It was a solid meeting. It has been a blessing to be able to prepare for and instruct at district meetings. I learn so much being able to study and apply what I learn preparing and then help others learn and apply the same things!

On Friday I was able to go to Mission Leadership Conference in Lubbock. Usually its just the zone leaders and sister training leaders that go once a month to the MLC but they have been having the district leaders go every few transfers, so I was able to attend that. It was an awesome meeting. There were tons of my peeps there too so I had the pleasure of conversing with a bunch of old friends. It was good stuff. They talked a lot about leadership and some other stuff that y'all don't really care about, but I was able to learn a lot and took a lot away from that meeting!

The Lord has blessed us tremendously over the last week! While I was at MLC my companion and another elder on exchanges had a sick lesson with a 19 and 14 year old that are friends of some members in our ward. They basically live at the member's house. So they had a super powerful lesson with them and we are going over there again in like 45 minutes to teach them again. I am pretty pumped. So there's two solid investigators. At MLC I was given a referral from the mission office for a man and his 14 year old daughter. So we went over there on Saturday afternoon. The daughter wasn't home, but we had an interesting conversation (and by conversation I mean we listened to him) for like 30 minutes and this guy seemed like a wing-nut. Holy cow we couldn't get this man to shut up or even let us say something without cutting us off. But then he asked what "Mormon stuff" we had to share with him so we shared a very simple Restoration and blew the roof off the house with it. It was amazing to see how the spirit changed this man in just a couple short minutes. He went from talking like crazy and seeming just on a buzz to super calm and peaceful as we shared the last part of the restoration about Joseph Smith and all that fun stuff. He is pretty solid and it sounds like his daughter was even more interested than him. We have another appointment tonight with them so I am excited for that! We also taught this man from Vietnam on Sunday. Haha that was fun. It was hard because he doesn't have that solid Christian background that we are used to down here in Texas where EVERYONE knows Jesus. So that was a good learning opportunity for Elder Despain and I. I had to go back and teach a lot of stuff a second time and talk about the words he isn't familiar with and explain things very very simply. We were able to have a good talk about adjusting teaching for different people and was a good learning experience for us. And on top of all that we still have our other people we are working with and are going to have a busy week teaching them and also trying to get more investigators with our solid potential list we have.

All in all I feel like I am just starting to learn what this missionary thing is all about. Over the last month or so I have been starting to see things differently and am starting to flip the page in my missionary work. It seems like this is usually about the time of my mission that missionaries start to really figure things out. And I am starting to see it big time. I have just been learning how to go all in. Obviously I have worked hard and "understood" what I was doing and my purpose as a missionary for a long time now, but there is a certain switch that gets flipped "on" after a while and that switch has a finger on it and its on its way to getting flipped into the "on" position! I called Elder Stringham last night (because I can and he told me to call him) and we had a good talk about it for a while. He said that he went through the same stuff about the same time that I did and he was just so proud and full of joy about his "son". I love my mission "dad". He also challenged me to start to really think about how this is going to affect my life when I get home and to start to make specific plans for life after the mission. Obviously its not making plans to make me trunky, but he said that this is a time to figure out the rest of my life and what the Lord wants me to do. So I now have that challenge on me and I will be able to start thinking about that and report back to him what I have thought of.

Funny story from MLC. So I was sitting to the right of Elder Johnson (you know, from Frenship Mesa and who is in like a million of my pictures) and Elder Cardon was sitting on his left. They were instructing us on the new cell phones we are getting (we are switching from Sprint to AT&T) and how we will need to use Bluetooth to transfer over our contacts. So the senior missionary instructing us asked who knew what Bluetooth was and like everyone raised their hands because everyone our age knows what Bluetooth is. Well, Elder Cardon hates technology so much. Like, I had to force him to take the phone. He had a phone at home but he used the same phone for like 6 years and he left his phone at home half the time. So when that question was posed everyone raised their hands... except Elder Cardon, who went on to pose the question, "What the crap is Bluetooth?" in his typical naive "I hate technology" tone of voice. Elder Johnson and I DIED laughing. I know, I know. That story was pretty lame. But, that was like the highlight of my week. I stinkin' love Elder Cardon. I had lots of laughs at that conference... good times.

Well that will be all for me today! I hope y'all have a good week! I love y'all and pray for y'all every day! That was a lot of "y'all"..........

Mucho amor,
Elder Reed Ericson