Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Return Part 1

This will be part 1 of a 3 part series (most likely) in which I talk about my experience returning home from my mission! This blog post will basically be a "weekly email" for my last couple days after I sent home my last email. The next part will most likely cover my plane rides and my arrival home, with the last part covering what it has been like as a recently returned missionary and all the ups and downs that come along with that. Enjoy! 
Btw... I haven't proofread this or anything.... I just threw it down and posted it. So, forgive me for any mistakes or lack of creativity.

Well, here I am again, one last time (I guess part 1/3 of "last time). I have been thinking recently about, well…… life….. and thought that I would write one last blog post about coming home and what life has been like as a fresh as could be RM. I hope that you will enjoy this as much as my previous 105 weeks worth of emails. If you thought that all of them suckers were long, then get comfy because I highly doubt that I will even be able to finish up this unit tonight. We shall see. Also, I feel as if I have lost some of my missionary flair so my entertainment as far as some things go may be lacking. I am trying to pump “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” into my ears on repeat to get that special spirit back. But, for some reason the tears ain’t flowing like they did back in the day driving around with Elder Brighton Lund (shoutout to Elder Lund). Still love this song. “Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wondering heart to thee.” Ugh. Yes. Preach it MoTab. Aaaannnndddd just restarted it for round 2. Anyway, I’ll move on.

I will start with where I left off from my last email in the mission field. I think I emailed Monday morningish so we can pick up there. Emails were a wreck. I walked into the library and a sister that came home with me was already balling. I knew I was in for a rough one. I survived, but not without a few tears along with my final words as a full-time missionary. It was really hard to put into words all that I wanted to. As you are preparing to go home you are filled with so many different feelings and emotions and it’s impossible to put it into expressed terms. But I did the best I could despite my inability to say what I wanted to share. Anyway, moving on. Oh yes, my last p-day sports will be next up on the docket. HO-LY cow. So frustrating. I couldn’t hit a dang shot. No joke, it was probably the most frustrating activity that I have participated in for a long time. What a way to head out, huh? But then, right at my moment of despair, I went off like LeBron in the 2016 NBA Finals. I hit 3 threes and a few other sick shots on consecutive trips down the floor. My team went from worst to first just like that. I went nuts, my team went nuts, and pretty much the entire gym felt like an NBA arena for a bit. I got the party started and kept it going with some serious celebration antics. Pretty sure I had Sister Muir in tears at one point laughing so hard (shoutout to Sister Muir). I just couldn’t contain myself from letting all of my frustration go in the form of celebration (does that make sense?). So all in all, still left pretty frustrated, but the frustration was relieved after going off like an All-NBA 1st teamer for a few short minutes. Nobody cares about the rest of p-day.

Tuesday was crazy as well. Last full day as a missionary. My wonderful mission son, Elder Cardon (shoutout to Elder Cardon), who is serving as an assistant to the president, called me Monday night at about 9:00 and asked if I could help with transfers the next morning by driving some missionaries down to a town two hours away and then drive back. SURE DUDE, whatever you need me to do. In all honesty I was happy to do it, however it did make my day quite a bit more exhausting. (After listening to a variety of MoTab songs I now have “Amazing Grace” by BYU Noteworthy pumping far too loud into my ears… I am surely feeling the Holy Spirit now… good times, huh, Elder Lund?) (Shoutout to Elder Brighton Lund, again) (not sure if I am using these parentheses in the proper phonetic way, but whatevs) Before I began my drive down to Snyder I had to say goodbye to my last companion, Elder Hawes. I love Elder Hawes so so so much. Its hard to put a “favorite companion” title on any one companion, but he can be in the group of companions that all get that title. He was such good companion as a departing missionary. He was supportive of my end of mission sorrows without even purposely doing so, kept me laughing and enjoying life, and was just a great great friend to have over the course of my last couple months. He received the assignment to be taken away from his labors out in the streets and sit in the office for me. That’s it. The Lord needed him to be with me so he pulled him in with me. Also, I had the privilege to teach and mentor an increasingly motivated missionary at a critical time of his mission and had the privilege of seeing that young man grow and develop into a great missionary. He makes me proud. So that was a sucky goodbye (shoutout to Elder Hawes). Anyway, my drive down to Snyder and back was nice despite the added craziness. I had a wonderful opportunity to drive down some good young men and was able to converse with them about their new areas (old areas of mine) and about life. On the way home I had the opportunity to drive with just Elder Olmos with me. Elder Olmos is such a remarkable young man. He hasn’t been out in the field for too long yet I felt like he had been out for a year and a half. We were able to talk about some of the challenges in our missionary assignments and a lot about being good companions and how to help missionaries in our stewardship. Throughout the trip I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I was going to no longer have such precious times like these with my fellow servants. There is something special about the relationships you build as a missionary, both with your fellow missionaries and with the “normal” people you serve. Your relationships are built up from a foundation of righteousness and a common focus of love and service. There is nothing like it. And I recognized that my couple hours with this incredible young man were going to be my last one on one time I would have with a full-time missionary. God bless him and his current and future endeavors in the service of the Lord.

Once I returned to Lubbock I had crazy this and crazy that for a bit, but you don’t care enough about it to read about it. Eventually we made our way to the mission home for games, dinner, and a secret activity that I do not know how much I will be able to say about, just for the sake of secrecy. From the get-go it was just surreal to be in the mission home as a departing missionary. I don’t really know how to describe the setting that evening. There was a very exciting reverence and peace despite the fun and laughs that occupied our ears throughout our time there. There was just something special about being in the mission home with all of the wonderful elders and sisters that you have served with for 2 years/18 months. You had 15 young people in one room that were filled with the special spiritual light that had taken so so long to develop. I felt like we were a spiritual family sitting their together. Oh how I dearly love my fellow servants in the Texas Lubbock Mission. Oh how I love them. At one point after eating President and Sister Heap gathered us all together and sat at the head of the room for our “secret activity” that has truly been kept a secret. To protect the secret, I won’t say too much, however I will say that it was some of the most powerful couple hours of my mission. President and Sister Heap counseled us on a number of things, and the whole time you could just sense the powerful love that they had developed for each and every single one of us. The love that I felt was so emotionally draining and the counsel that they gave us was engrained into my mind because of the immense love that it was shared with. Everything they said was accompanied by their love (obviously, I know, I already said that) but also a powerful spirit. The Holy Ghost was no doubt working on overdrive to help me receive yet another witness that what I had been taught as a full-time missionary was going to change my life. I have to credit President and Sister Heap for teaching me much of what I learned. They were truly sent to me by God. I will never be able to repay them for the impact that they have left on my life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. President Heap will sit as a Savior on Mount Zion for me and many other people that have been honored to be under his priesthood stewardship. I could not even imagine anyone ever coming close to fulfilling their calling as MY mission president better than he did. He and Sister Heap are the most amazing examples of disciples of Christ that I have met, and I will forever remember them for their love and care. God bless you, President and Sister Heap!

Tuesday night was my last night in Lubbock. It was pretty crazy. I didn’t think I was going to be able to sleep. But luckily I slept alright. I think I was able to sleep because my entire being needed to shut down for a bit to recover from the twisting and stretching that had been done to it over the previous day. It felt like I was awake for most of the night, but I remember dreaming a lot throughout the night and all of a sudden Elder Moschetti came out to wake us up (shoutout to Elder Moschetti). So I don’t really know what happened that night. It’s still a little confusing. I had heard a number of mentions about your last prayer as a missionary in the previous years, however you have to experience it to really know what its like. I had to wait a little bit to let everything settle down and get quiet and for the lights to get shut off before I kneeled down at the couch to let ‘er rip. I’m not even going to try to describe what it was like. There were a lot of tears, and a lot of deep emotional pouring out and thanks given.

Wednesday morning started out as a disaster!!! I woke up and was the first one to hop into the shower, because I know that I have to go first because it takes me FOR-EVER to get ready, just ask one of my companions. Anyway, I was fixin’ to hop in the shower when I found that I didn’t pack my flippin’ razor in my night bag!!!!!!! So here I am, about to hop on plane to go home, aaaaannnnnnddddd I can’t shave. Using someone else’s razor was out of the question because that is like, terrible for your skin. So I was left razorless. I ran out to the family room area and expressed my dilemma to the boys. Nobody seemed to have the resources to help me. I was done. I wasn’t getting on a plane until I was clean shaven!!! And then…… Elder Evans (bless his heart… shoutout to Elder Evans) came strutting out of his bedroom for sure at least 87.4% still asleep and went into the bottom drawer (I had already checked the cupboard and such) and pulled out a bag of disposable razors with 1 blade…………… sooooooooooooo, do I just take the risky route and not shave, or do I take the risk of using a single bladed disposable razor???????? Well, I seemingly had no other choice, I was going to hitchhike down to the nearest Walgreens and buy me a new razor. Kidding. Totally kidding. I used the single blade razor. It took me about twice as long because I had to rinse the razor after ever ¼ inch of skin/whiskers, but I made it through. I bet nobody even noticed. Hah. Or, everybody noticed and didn’t say anything to me about my terrible shave job. Thanks for having my back, elders…. NOT!

Well, it was then time to head off to the airport for our final departure. Man, I was doing rather well. We got there, pulled all of our luggage out of the trailer (oh yeah… I had an issue with my luggage weight while weighing them at the mission office… luckily the other elder flying into Boise had plenty of extra weight for me to stash some stuff in his bags), and headed on inside. We eventually all got our tickets and bags checked, and were off to the security line. Random note, who thought that there would be a good amount of people at 6:30am in the Lubbock airport? Not me! I thought that place would be empty besides us. Anyway, the last wrenching goodbye then took place as we reached our last switchback in the security line. I didn’t want it to come. I wanted them to have a mess up with their security system that caused us to get stuck in line for a long time or something crazy like that. But surely I reached the switchback in the blink of an eye, and President and Sister Heap were right there in front of me. I was about to say goodbye to the two people who changed my life. I hugged President Heap, I had too much to say to him that nothing came out of my mouth. Just silence. He expressed his love for me (in more ways than just his words, you could feel it in his soul) and released his embrace. Then came the Sister Heap handshake. Love ya, Sister Heap. Btw, if you happen to read this, why don’t we get to hug you at the airport? I really wanted to hug you! That wasn’t the end though, I still had my boy Elder Cardon and one of my dear former companions, Elder Moschetti, left to hug. Elder Cardon hadn’t cried yet, I surprisingly hadn’t cried yet (somehow my tears were all blocked up for the Heaps), but as I made eye contact with Elder Cardon the twinkles came to both of our eyes. Elder Cardon was my companion for my 3rd and 4th transfers of my mission and he was fresh out of the MTC for those transfers, so we had some nice growing pains together. However, we went on a long hiatus from serving around each other for a long time until I worked in the office my last two months all while he was serving as an assistant to the president. So we hadn’t grown super close together because of such a long time apart, however there is a special sort of love that grows between a trainer and a trainee regardless of if you recognize it or not. Back to the story, we embraced, and once again my words were blocked, just tears this time. Elder Cardon finally got a, “Thanks for training me” out of his mouth amongst the tears, and I just told him I loved him. As we released our embrace I looked at him and told him that I was proud of him and who he has become. Love that man. He is one of my heroes. Then on to Elder Moschetti. I don’t think he was crying either… but he didn’t last. I was already crying so the tears just kept on coming. I think my time with Elder Moschetti was amongst the best 6 weeks of my mission. I learned a ton in those 6 weeks and I love that man for all that he did that taught me how to be a better missionary and companion. So, that was a kicker as well.

Well, we all made it through security and gathered together on the other side to give one last cheer to our beloved friends on the other side of the security business. Once we all got our stuff back together we all gathered in a group, and waited for the leading 1, 2, 3, and gave one last “HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!” shout (quietly-ish of course) and went on our way down to our gates with nothing left to do but to hop onto a couple of flights before arriving back at home.

I don’t know if I ever gave a shoutout to President and Sister Heap. SHOUTOUT TO PRESIDENT AND SISTER HEAP!!!

Elder Hawes and I

The party van of departing missionaries!
Traditional TLM start/end at the temple pic!
(photo cred: Sister Heap)
Fixin' to eat some grub
(photo cred: Sister Heap)
Eatin' some grub
(photo cred: Sister Heap)

Waiting at the airport

Just busted through security

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Experience of a Lifetime

October 24, 2016

Hello my wonderful friends and family! I have included many many more people on this email than usual as I have added basically everyone I saw on my email list including my family and friends, companions, MTC teachers, etc. As some of you may know I board a plane on Wednesday morning here in Lubbock, TX and will arrive in Boise, ID later that afternoon. Very bittersweet for me to know that my time is up and my life is moving on. However, I am very excited to start my life anew and be a greater disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ after learning and progressing as a full-time missionary for 2 years in the wonderful Texas Lubbock Mission!


It has been a whirlwind this past week. Surprisingly I have been doing very well emotionally. Like, super well. Every once in a while I get a bit sentimental while praying or something, however I have been happy and level headed nearly every day. The one time I did break down was during my departing interview with President Heap when he thanked me for my service in the TLM. That got me pretty good, but I hung in there. But man, its just crazy. I remember walking onto the MTC campus and sitting through class everyday with Elder May and having lessons that I look back at now and laugh at. I remember it was so incredible to be out on a mission and I thought it would never conclude because two years seemed like such a long time. I remember walking around Sweetwater with Elder Stringham being so overwhelmed and not knowing how I was going to be a good missionary because it was so difficult to learn how to talk to people about the gospel and teach them effectively. That literally seems like a whole lifetime ago. Its gone by so fast, but it seems like it was so long ago because of how far I've come and the different life that I have now then I had then.


As I have been reflecting a bit the past little while I have come to realize that the Lord has blessed me with the absolutely perfect mission. Sure, it was never a walk in the park as I faced many trials and hard times, however, in retrospect, it was perfect. I am so thankful for every area I've served in, every companion I've had, every person I taught, every person I even talked to, every moment of joy, frustration, and spirit, and every single struggle along the way accompanied by the joy and growth that followed. To all of my companions... thank you! You are the ones that I spent every one of those moments with and whether you know it or not YOU have had a remarkable impact on my life in some way. I love you from the bottom of my heart and thank you for serving with me and serving the Lord WITH me. You will forever have a special spot in my heart. I love you! Never forget that! To all of those others that added to the joy and wonder of my missionary service, thank you as well! I will never forget all those that I have met and worked with over the past two years!


I remember opening up my mission call on July 17th, 2014 to the Texas Lubbock Mission. I remember being very disappointed in the fact that I went to the last place I wanted to go. I always told people that I would be good with going to a state-side mission as long as it wasn't Texas. Sure enough, got called to Texas. And on top of that I was going to the absolute worst place in Texas. Not Dallas, not Houston, not San Antonio...... but LUBBOCK!!!!! Looking on the internet and map made it even worse. If you've ever looked at the United States on satellite view you will see a large flat brown area that covers the West part of Texas and the East part of New Mexico. The area is exactly the outline of the Texas Lubbock Mission.... basically. I remember getting to Lubbock and it was just as bad as I thought looking out the window of the plane and seeing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Then I got sent to a dinky dumpy little town called Sweetwater. I was praying for a one and done in Sweetwater my first couple weeks. But then, something happened. I started growing a love for that dumpy town called Sweetwater. After 6 months of serving in that place I was torn apart leaving it. I LOVE Sweetwater! The Lord then sent me to Lubbock, then Odessa, then San Angelo, then Abilene, then Hobbs, and then back to Lubbock. In every single place I grew the exact same love for it as I grew for Sweetwater. Every. Single. Place. I have no more love for any place than I do for the land in the Texas Lubbock Mission. The places that I served will always be where I learned the most important truths in life and will forever be home for me. Sure, home is in Kuna as that is where the family is at and where I grew up. But HOME is in West Texas. I left home to come out on a mission, and now I am leaving home to go back after my mission. I thank the good Lord every day for sending me here to The Lord's Mission! 


As I have thought about what I have accomplished on my mission, I remember mentioning something in my farewell address before I left that set the course for my mission. I said that I knew that I couldn't convert or baptize every person that I talked to or taught, but that I could share love with everybody. As I reflect, I think that is the greatest success I've had. I know that I have succeeded in showing love to all others that I have met and worked with. I pray that even those that closed the door in my face felt my love as I always tried to say "Have a good day!" to every person in a way that shared love and light. I believe that every one that I talked to and taught was left with a positive impression of us missionaries and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I pray that even through those small and simple means that some person will be brought to the restored gospel, when the time is right, because of the positive impression I left. I don't care if I ever find out about it, but I want others to come unto the gospel and I did what I could to make my interactions positive despite their hardened hearts.


Throughout my service I have grown an undeniable testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church that he leads, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Its true. Its all true. President Heap asked me what I was going to take home from my mission that didn't go in my suitcase, and I simply said, "a testimony". The Lord could bring about his purpose and complete his work without 18-20 something year olds. He doesn't need me. However, he took the opportunity to allow me to be broken and ultimately walk away from my mission with a strong conviction of HIS truth. I was HIS investigator! I would gladly die as a martyr in defense of the truth that has been brought forth with the restoration of the gospel. You name it.... the nature of God and Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, modern day prophets, eternal families, etc. I could never deny the truths that the Lord himself has taught me. If there is every a doubt that Reed Ericson has a testimony, let me clear that idea up today. I KNOW. Its all true. And I give all the praise to a loving God who was merciful enough to learn things line upon line, precept upon precept. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered, bled, and died for ME and for YOU! I know that he is ready to succor me and you in our infirmities and strengthen us in our weakness. I know that there is a God in heaven who loves us perfectly in a way that we cannot comprehend, and that it is his work and his glory to help us become like him. I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of God. And along with being the word of God it is the most powerful account of his word that we have on the earth today. The book has power. I have seen people's lives completely change because they simply opened up the pages and read! And along with that I have felt such a strong spirit every time I testify of that book. Especially lately, I am basically moved to tears whenever I share the book and testify of it. I know with absolute assuredly that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Kingdom of God on earth, and only through it and the ordinances performed by the restored priesthood authority of God can we live WITH God and be LIKE him. I know that the Lord brought his work in these latter days through a young man, Joseph Smith. Though imperfect, this man helped bring forth the marvelous work and a wonder in these latter days. It is true when said that Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of mankind than anyone save the Savior Jesus Christ. I know that all the keys of the priesthood are on the earth today and are held by President Thomas S. Monson. I know that because of the power that has come into my life as I have received ordinances that can only be done because of priesthood keys that he holds and exercises. All it takes is for me to see a picture of that man for the Holy Ghost to testify to me that he is a prophet of God and the chosen president of the Lord's church. Its all true. 


I also thank the Lord every night for the opportunity that I've had to serve with my amazing mission president, President Heap. If there was any one reason that I was sent to the Texas Lubbock Mission, it was to serve with President Heap. He told me that when I got here and I thought that was kinda weird, but after two years I have seen that claim come true. He has truly helped me and many many others become greater disciples of Jesus Christ. He has taught me so many amazing truths that help me understand and in turn apply the gospel. His perfect love has been a strength and support to every missionary here in his mission. I couldn't ask for a better mission president than him. He has been perfect for me and for the other missionaries in our mission. He will prove to be a savior on Mount Zion for all of his missionaries! I love him and will love him forever!


I thank each one of you for your love and support over the last two years. You are one of the many reasons that I've had such an uplifting experience that will forever prove to be life-changing. No prayer goes unanswered, and I know that the Lord surely reached out and blessed me as a result of your prayers. So from the deep feelings of my soul, thank you. I love you and pray that you may receive many blessings for your love and care for me and for many others! 


Well team, I've said enough. I wish I could better share the feelings in my heart, but I am just a man. I pray that the Lord blesses each of us in the tumultuous world. Our brother, Satan, is having a hay-day out there and only the Savior and his gospel can bring us the protection that we need to truly endure to the end. May we all continue to rely on him and his grace to pull us through the tests present and ahead. HE WILL COME AGAIN!!!! 


GOD BLESS YA!!!!!!!!!

With all my love,

Elder Reed Ericson
SEE Y'ALL ON WEDNESDAY!!!!!!!! WHOOT WHOOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I wanted to send some good mission closure pictures.... but my SD card reader doesn't work anymore as of a couple weeks ago. So these are from Elder Hawes.
So here is a sweet-o picture of the Lubbock Temple that we took out proselyting (its in our area). And then the other picture is one of our district pictures from our last district meeting. I had the idea of doing an awkward Elder/Sister picture and this was one of the products. Elder Hawes needs to work on his awkward face.... well, so do I. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Press Forward, Saints

October 17, 2016

Hello hello my wonderful friends and familia. Thank you for all of your prayers on my behalf lately. I know that there are many things in this world that y'all need to pray for that are far more important than me, but I definitely feel uplifted and strengthened by the Divine as he has reached out and blessed me as a result of your faithful prayers. So, thank you. 


This past week was mostly just wonderful. I got frustrated a few times here and there about a couple things, but overall the Lord has been blessing me.


To start off, the highlight of my week was Mission Tour with Elder Keetch. The Lord surely answered some prayers with that. We had to go to the mission office to do something for a missionary that was going to be at the special mission leadership meeting with Elder Keetch on Sunday afternoon, so we decided to self-invite ourselves to the meeting as well. We had to leave after about an hour and a half, but that was plenty of time to be uplifted by the Spirit and have some prayers answered.


To start off the meeting President Heap just threw down on walking with the Lord and doing things his way. He taught out of Moses chapter 6 about Enoch. I honestly don't exaggerate when I say that President Heap is probably one of the most amazing gospel teachers in the world. I am honestly not exaggerating. I haven't talked to a single person that has been taught by him that would contradict that statement. Everything he teaches is just so powerful, clear, and just runs right into your spirit and heart and inspires you so much. So that was sweet. I don't really remember what Elder Keetch started off with but I remember something that really hit me in the feels. He said that Satan works so hard pushing you back from the front trying to keep you from being who you want/need to be, and then he will realize that you are making good progress and then he will flip around and start pushing you from the back and give you an unrealistic expectation of perfection that then pushes you way way too far forward. I just sat there and said quietly, "TRUE". Other than that I don't remember too much from that meeting.


We had to leave after about 30 mins of Elder Keetch to go to an appointment for our zone leaders. That was dramatic as well. But nothing worth noting. Just a very religious middle aged black lady ripping off questions about the church and our doctrine. I think I had too much fun. Anyway, we had our north half of the mission meeting on Tuesday. Tuesday was quite frankly one of the greatest days of my mission. Just a very special day. The meeting was so darn good. President Heap went off again about the missionary handbook and how it is a book full of life principles and promised tons of blessings for our life if we learn them. It was so intense. Once again, he just knows how to teach. It was an inspiration for me to keep up with living the Lord's principles when I get home that I have learned as a missionary. It’s interesting how the spirit teaches you to your needs. That instruction from him I'm sure taught many different things to every individual person. Elder Keetch was super awesome as well! I really really liked him!!! He is just a good guy and he said things that were clearly inspired because they were direct answers to prayers. Just a good guy.


He talked about some missionary work stuff, but then after lunch he just talked about how we are good and successful missionaries even when we don't think that we are. He shared the story of a man that he taught and baptized on his mission in Germany that was the only person that he baptized during his two years. He shared how he had stayed in touch with them for just a little bit but eventually lost contact and by the time he went home didn't even know if the man and his member wife were even active still. He said that his whole life that he sometimes questioned if his mission was successful or if he failed because of just one person getting in the water, but was strengthened by knowing that he did his very best. He said that it was hard for him to get emails from his son who served in Africa with huge groups of people getting baptized all the time. In fact, he said that one of his replies to his sons email one week was the simple 4 words, "Tyler, I hate you." But then he said his entire perspective changed during general conference last year. Elder Anderson gave a talk and talked about some people in Africa that were the beginners of the church in the Ivory Coast. They moved back to the Ivory Coast and started a Sunday School there, and now there are 8 stakes and 27,000 members in the country. The man who was a native to the country that moved back to start the church there..... of course was the man that he had baptized in Germany over the course of his mission. He said that he couldn't believe his ears when he heard Elder Anderson say their names.  Elder Keetch said that he didn't even know if they were still active or not, yet they had started such a remarkable growth and the man is actually now serving as a temple president. It was dang good.


Anyway, I was doing good just enjoying mission tour, and then the closing hymn came along. I got wrecked. We sang "Press Forward, Saints" and that is one of my favorite hymns. Well, we started singing and I was all in until we got a couple lines in and the tears started coming. I stopped singing to get my emotions under control, but then all I heard was well over 100 missionaries singing so powerfully as I sat their quietly. I was just thinking about how great of a blessing it has been to be a missionary and to have the special association with so many amazing young people that I have grown to love so much through the service of the Lord. Well, that got me worse than singing. So I had to take an extra moment to get that part under control. I eventually started singing again softly, but once again my emotions prevailed. I had to stop and listen and go through the same process. Then I started singing again, and when I was defeated once again by my emotions once again there were only a few lines left, so I just listened. Oh man, I got wrecked. Those were my first tears.


Later on I was in the office waiting it out. I said goodbye to a few people most likely for the last time, but it wasn't bad at all. But I knew that I was going to have to give me last goodbye to my son, Elder Despain. Oh man, I was done for before the time even came. He eventually was ready to leave and we were in the office. So I just told him to come with me and we went to the relief society. We got in the room, the door shut, and we embraced each other. I started to cry a bit but just barely, but then he said in a sincere tone that I've never heard come out of his mouth, "I love you." That got me for good right there and then we had some private exchanging of words and just stood there for a bit hugging each other. We eventually un-embraced and looked at each other with teary eyes and said our final words before I walked out the door in front of him and forced myself to not look back. I walked through a group of people, mostly sisters to get right back into the office which was filled with a bunch of sister missionaries........ and I remind you that I still have tears streaming down my face. I got a few "Awwww!" and some other female reactions. I didn't know where to go so I walked into my vehicle office which had a bunch of elders in it. So I stood there in the corner for a second before feeling too weird and walked back to the doorway of that room. As I stood there I was still obviously recovering, and some sister asked "Awww! Did you just say goodbye to a companion?" So I just shook my head and said "yeah" as they all looked at me all sentimentally. It was weird, but I kinda liked it. Not gonna lie. Later some sisters brought it up again and said that they actually were walking outside with Elder Despain right after we said goodbye and they asked what was going on and he told them, and the sisters told me what he had said about me and I would have been a goner again but I kept my cool this time. Man, I love that kid. It’s been incredible to see how far he's come. I love him just as if he was my real son. Ok, that's probably a lie, but I have no clue what having a child is like so I have nothing to compare to. Anyway, some other good stuff happened but I have already said enough.


The office life kinda blew this week. It has been weird handing everything off to someone else. I don't have too much to say. Nevermind, I do. Mission Tour was super good for me to recognize how much I have actually enjoyed that assignment. I was able to meet a number of people that I had talked to a number of times on the phone but never actually met. That was really fun. It was fun to just see how much I have actually done in service through my assignment. I gained a different perspective on it. It was just fun to see all the small relationships that I was able to gain because of everything. I don't know how else to describe it all. There is more to say but I don't know how to say it. It was good.


Anyway, the other days on the office were different. The Cayton's were here all week so we've been getting them up to speed. It has been difficult to give up everything that I have worked on. It’s hard knowing that many things I did are now in the hands of someone else. Plus, I basically chime in and show Elder Cayton things here and there and just dink around the rest of the time. I go and talk to Sister Byington (secretary) or Elder Byington (finance) and just have a chat with them. I occasionally sit out in the main office lobby type deal in a chair and read something before being interrupted by someone. I even moved it to the floor for a couple of naps when things got slow. Its been fun. Elder Hawes has been working all day with Sister Cayton, but I haven't had to work as much with Elder Cayton. But I have to be there because Elder Hawes has to be there. But I have certainly enjoyed the Byington's company the last week. They are some of the funniest people ever! You would never guess it, but they are crack ups! They live in Logan and they said that they want to have me and others over for dinner on Sundays! I'm totally down.


Last Saturday we went out to The Shack BBQ. Holy cow, that place is packed on Saturdays. But as we were rolling through the parking lot I saw some people getting into a car with an Idaho license plate, so I rolled down the window and asked where they were from. They are from Twin Falls and turns out they were in town so that one of their kids could get baptized with their cousin who lived here in Lubbock! We talked to them for a minute, went and parked the car, and then on our way in there was the whole crew there waiting to talk to us and take our picture. I was kinda weirded out. Yo, I'm a missionary, not a celebrity. Anyway, they were all super nice and friendly and we talked to them for a few minutes before I shewed them off and we went inside. I was kind of ticked that they didn't pay for us to eat, what kind of a member of the church are you? You take pictures of the missionaries outside the place and treat them like celebs but you don't pay for their meal????????!!!!!!!!!! COME ON!!!! Totally kidding, but for reals I was a little confused about that. But as I stepped up to the counter to order my meat some random dude walked up from his table, slapped his card on the counter, and said "these guys are on me" and then walked off back to his table. He cleaned up his table, came and signed the receipt, shook our hands, and peaced out the door. Didn't get his name or nothing. God bless that man! Anyway, I know you are more concerned about how the meat was. I got pork ribs, fatty brisket, and jalapeno cheese sausage. I was a little disappointing this time around. I guess I just have a very high standard of barbecue these days. People say that The Shack is the best place in town. But I've had better at Blackland Smokehouse. The Shack has very very very tender meat, but I just didn't get the same explosion of flavor in my mouth like I do with Blackland Smokehouse. Oh well, life is rough.


Wow, I feel like I've been typing forever. I should probably get done here soon. We worked on Saturday in the afternoon. It was the first time I've done missionary work before like 6:00pm in like 2 months. It was pretty sweet. We should get out this coming week a bunch, so I should be able to finish off tearing the streets of Lubbock up! Let's go!!!! I love knocking so much these days, so we will probably just be knocking when we aren't doing service or anything. Heck yeah. One funny story that I won't tell in detail, I threw down on a guy that pretended to not speak much English, and told us that in his perfect English. I said it very nicely, but I basically called him out on it and told him that I knew that he spoke English. He seemed to take it well. I ain't taking people's terrible excuses anymore. Oh man, I decided to finally go for it, and I think it went well.


Well everyone, I really need to close this unit up. I love y'all and thank you for everything! I absolutely love the Lord and his gospel and am so thankful to be called to serve in the Texas Lubbock Mission! May God bless us as we press forward in this world of commotion! Press Forward, Saints!!!


God bless ya!


Elder Reed Fuller Ericson

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Cotton Fields and Sunsets

October 8, 2016

Hello once again all my wonderful friends. It feel like I was emailing y'all just yesterday! Probably because I was.... basically. I mean, it was like 5 days ago. And by my standards these days, that was yesterday. Anyway, it was a wonderful week. I don't know what made it wonderful, but sometimes things are just wonderful, you know.

First things first, I will give you a glimpse into the cheesy life of a missionary. So we did p-day last Monday right? So that meant that we did p-day with all the other missionaries for the first time in a while. Well, we all went to a park type place to play some stuff because the church was closed for stupid carpet cleaning so we couldn't go and play ball. Anyway, we played some ultimate football for a little while and then just kinda hung around for a bit. At one point, however, a massive game of "pull down the socks" broke out. So basically you had a bunch of elders running around this field trying to pull each other crew socks down to their ankles. Stupid, right? I bet you are thinking that sounds like the stupidest idea of a game you have ever heard. But I am here to testify that your perception of this game is dead wrong. Greatest game I've ever played. I basically just chased Elder Schroeder down (former companion) and we just stood there with our hands on each others shoulders keeping our ankles away from each other until one of us would shoot in for the socks. I wrecked him a couple times. He almost got me, but somehow I whipped out every bit of athleticism I have left in my body to avoid getting "socked". And then at one point I escaped Elder Schroeder with some nimble moves only to be attacked by like two others before I even got up off the ground. I don't remember what I did, but I remember I pulled some super quick move and then was somehow up on my feet running away not even knowing how I got up on my feet so fast. I was very proud of myself and was very pleased with the athleticism I used. Don't know where it came from, but it was super sweet. So anyway, I would love to invite anyone and everyone to a big game of socking when I get home. Its so on.

My vehicle assistant, Elder Dalley, who is a senior service missionary who lives here in Lubbock, took us out to lunch a few days ago. The first place he mentioned that we could go was Longhorn Steakhouse. Before he made any other suggestions I said, "Let's go!" and started walking out the door and he and Elder Hawes followed without argument. Elder Dalley recommended the filet, but I had to go with the 18oz bone-in Outlaw Ribeye. Good choice. I probably would have tried the filet, however you could only get a maximum of 10oz so I wasn't up for that garbage. No way, I need more than that. I love going to eat with people who have money and literally encourage you to get whatever you want. Its wonderful. I think all of our steaks were over $20. Life will be rough when I go to college and people don't spoil me. But hey, life is rough. Anyway, Elder Dalley is quite possibly one of my favorite people. My goodness, I love that man! He is a ton of fun to have around and he is a wonderful man! He has served in just about every calling in the church. You name it. Bishop, Stake Presidency, Temple Presidency, Young Men's President, etc. The only thing he said that he hasn't really had is being called as a primary teacher. But that'll come. Apparently they make jokes in stake meetings about making sure he receives every calling before he dies because he is basically close enough. In fact, the other senior service missionary in the office came in and was telling Elder Dalley that despite his age he's still been praying for him to be the next stake president. Elder Dalley wasn't having anything to do with that. He said he's too old. I guess we'll see. Anyway, that's my good friend Elder Dalley.

Speaking of office senior missionaries, the finance guy is Elder Byington, and him and I have had it out for each other the last week. He always comes in and gives us a hard time, so Elder Ericson decided that he isn't gonna take it and leave it anymore. I get in and talk smack to him every chance I get. I usually try to ruin his day within 5 minutes of me getting to the office. "Elder Ericson! I don't want to hear it! Your just as bad as me these days, and that's BAD!" Hahaha its been a good time. Whenever I have a business question for him I have to say, "Elder Byington, this is a business item and has nothing to do with our personal relationship so please excuse the politeness." The Byington's are so great. Such fun to work with them! Sis Byington is absolutely hilarious. She always says stuff to people out in the main office area and Elder Hawes and I just quietly bust up laughing in our room. They are the greatest!

On Tuesday Elder Hawes and I got to take a sweet road trip down to Snyder and back. I got a call at about 4:00 from the sisters saying that they locked their keys in the car............ yup. And get this, when we got there and got in the car, they were still in the dang ingnition! Oh my. Bless their hearts. It was fun though to take a spur of the moment road trip down to Snyder and back. Its about an hour and a half down there and then an hour and a half back. Then throw in getting through town, waiting for them to call us back to tell us where their car was, getting to their car, driving it to their place, and getting gas (and Cheetos and lemonade for dinner), our trip was lengthy. We left at like 4:15ish or so and got back at about 7:45. Great fun! After serving in West Texas a road trip like that is nothing. Unfortunately, I've made the trip between Snyder and Lubbock a million times so it was nothing new. It is right in the middle of Lubbock and Abilene so it was just another trip. I think I counted and I decided that I had driven from Abilene to Lubbock and Lubbock to Abilene about 18 times. I love that drive, very scenic in my eyes, but it would have been cool to see something new! However, when we got back into Lubbock, we found some killer cotton fields and got your typical "the field is white, all ready to harvest" photos. Classic. It took me 23 months, but I finally got some!

So, we were supposed to have a mission tour with Elder Keetch from the quorum of the 70 this past week. They had an MLC meeting scheduled for Wednesday, south half of the mission in Midland on Thursday, and then north half in Lubbock on Friday. However, we got word on like Tuesday that Elder Keetch got a new assignment from President Nelson to take care of in Salt Lake instead of coming to Lubbock those days. However, he was still scheduled to come down for the Lubbock North Stake Conference on Saturday/Sunday. So ours got cancelled. It was dramatic. AND THEN, we got word on like Thursday that the mission tour was back on for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday! So I will have my last (and only my second) mission tour with Elder Keetch on Tuesday! I don't even really get all jollied up for members of the quorum of the 70. They are great men and all, but if I am to get instructed by somebody for 3 hours I would much rather have it be President Heap. But, I am still looking forward to having Elder Keetch here and it should be a good time and I should learn some good stuff!

I gave my last district meeting instruction yesterday in replacement of the mission tour. That was kinda sad. I hadn't done a district meeting in a long time so it was fun. I believe I had sisters in one of my district meetings in San Angelo while Elder Ramos was stuck in New York doing Visa stuff, but the rest of my many district meetings were all elder meetings. So, yesterday I had 5 sisters (should have been 6 but one of the sisters was super sick and at a members house) and Elder Hawes. So it was quite the change of scenery. Even in Abilene we only had one set of sisters in our zone so I instructed mostly elders. But it was super fun though! They were being super funny yesterday and I laughed more than I probably ever did with my all elders districts! It was an interesting district meeting to prepare. Right at the end of my last stint as a DL we started to do all of our trainings on fundamentals from the 12 week training program. I only did a couple of those instructions and I had done so many district meetings that I literally spent 5 minutes preparing them and they were pretty bomb. But I was actually struggling putting together something for "We invite, they commit, we follow-up". However, the good Lord pulled through once again as I sat in deep pondering on Thursday night. He told me that I needed to basically just focus on the invitation to read the Book of Mormon. So to start off I posed a series of questions that pertained to the faith that we need to extend commitments, and also the role that the investigators faith plays in receiving invitations. But then I spent the rest of the time focusing on the invitation to read the Book of Mormon. It was pretty good stuff. I think that it was actually super applicable and was something that will be a benefit to them and that they will remember! I always try to make things applicable when I instruct, and I think that I accomplished that task yesterday.

Anyway, I am now probably officially done with instructing, so that is super sad. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a lot through instructing and I hope and pray that my thoughts and words as directed from the spirit and carried to them by the spirit have helped the missionaries that I have had stewardship of over the months. But, time to move on. It surely has been fun. I have learned a lot having a bunch of sisters in my district this transfer. I don't really know how to describe my learnings, but I know that President Heap was inspired in the reorganization of the districts in our zone and in the structure of our district! I believe that it will help me a lot in later times!

Well peeps, I'm fixin' to get out of here and go eat lunch (we were just told to go to one of the church buildings to eat some... the good Lord pulls through again). I am trying to make "fixin'" a part of my vocab before I go home, but it hasn't been going to well. I am really quite sad about that one. Elder Despain uses it like a champ and I am super jealous. Y'all is in the vocab pretty well by now, but there are some others that haven't caught super well. Sad. ANYWAY, I hope y'all have a good week! I love ya!

God bless ya!

Elder Reed Ericson

Elder Reed and companion in a cotton field.

Elder Reed and his companion in the office.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It’s Been a While

October 3, 2016

Holy cow team, it’s been a while. I felt like I had a whole new world full of email topic opportunities with the additional 2 days I had between p-days. My goodness. Anyway, this past week was pretty good, I guess. Nothing too crazy happened but life was good nonetheless. 


Let’s see here. I will just tell you of a few things that were pretty sweet. On Sunday evening one of the wards here in Lubbock put on a musical program that was a tribute to the Prophet Joseph. We attended and I wasn't expecting too much from it. I was expecting your typical po-dunk try-hard musical program that doesn't turn out very well with a whopping crowd of about 10 people. However, we showed up and I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly crowded parking lot and a chapel full of people. In fact, they had to open up the partition to the gym at the beginning of the show. The music stuff started and it was actually pretty good. They put on an actual program. They had the spotlight things coming from both sides of the chapel, and it actually seemed like I was at a real performance. The music was pretty darn good and there were a couple of darn darn good musical numbers throughout. Their last song was obviously "Joseph Smiths First Prayer". HOLY. COW. That song is sung all the time but my heavens they performed that song like I've never heard it! HOLY. COW. It was SO intense. There was a projector sitting right by the pulpit the whole time and it wasn't used at all so I was wondering why it was there. But then the organ (which they hadn't used all night) started playing bell chimes, and then the singing started along with a video of Joseph Smith. The video went right along with the song perfectly and it showed Joseph being attacked by Satan and all. Then, the screen went completely black for a second. And then of course, a tiny dot of light appeared at the top of the screen that slowly enlarged as the song hit the intense part. BOOM. My entire body was overcome by the Holy Ghost in a way that I don't think I have ever felt it in my life! My entire body from head to toe was feeling intense tinglies and had a nice good buzz going on throughout. I felt like my spirit was being taken away to some heavenly place. My goodness people, Joseph saw what he saw and is a prophet of God. I will never forget that experience. Good on ya, Monterey Park Ward choir. Good on ya. They tore it up.


We had Zone Training on Tuesday last week. The training was just another zone training, but my goodness I got to experience the Elder Despain/Elder Ericson family at work! It is crazy how in sync we are with each other. Every comment he makes is just spot on in my head and half the time I'm thinking it before he says it, and then he experiences the same thing that I do! In fact at one point we both had our hands raised to comment on something and I got called on to go first. I delivered an original comment that was probably something that most of the missionaries have pop in their heads. You know, just a good solid comment. Then they went to Elder Despain, and he just puts his hand down and says, "I was going to say the exact same thing as Elder Ericson so nevermind." Heck yeah, son. We just see things the same, which is really funny because when I trained him we definitely did not see many things the same. So it is fun to see it happen now like a year or more later! I'm proud of the missionary he has become! He has come a long way. Plus, he makes me laugh more than just about anyone in the mish so its just a jolly good time. 


Funny story about Wednesdayish night. So we took our dinner hour from about 5:45 to 6:45 right? Well, by about 6:10 we were both in bed ready to zonk out for a nice nap before our work commenced. So we set an alarm to get up and all 3 of our phones had sound on. Pretty safe huh? Well, I woke up randomly, looked at the clock, and it said 8:20. No kidding. So I checked out my phone and I had a missed call, a voicemail, and a text message. All came in with sound on. I woke up Elder Hawes and he checked the other 2 phones and one had 2 texts that came in and the other one had a text or two I think. Plus, he checked the alarm and sure enough it was sure as heck must have gone off. It wasn't set wrong or anything. So, we concluded that we must have really needed that good of a nap since we slept through all that. So we didn't feel bad at all. It was a darn good nap too. I felt rejuvenated for sure. However, it kept me up late so then I woke up tired and had a crappy morning. But, that is beside the point.


In between sessions of general conference on Sunday we needed to go to the mission office to get two of the assistants certified to drive the mega van since they couldn't drive it yet. So we were on our way to the office when they called and told us to come to the mission home for grilled cheese. Oh yes. We totally went to the Heap's and had grilled cheese for lunch between sessions! But the Heap's don't play around with their grilled cheese. (I just took an hour plus long break for our office meeting... but I am here to resume). These things were no joke. My grilled cheese was potato bread, sharp cheddar, sharp white cheddar, black forest ham, and grilled onions. Oh yeah. So good. I feel like I have been revolutionizing my life as far as grilled cheese goes lately. Lately I have been doing my normal honey wheat with garlic salt and parmesan, and then cheddar and pepperoni. These things are lights out, but these grilled cheese at the Heap's were far more deluxe than what I make. Nonetheless, I can't eat a normal grilled cheese anymore. It’s just not the same.


General conference was good. I know most of you watched it so I'm not going to recap it all for you because that would be pointless. You already know what talks were dynamite. However, Elder Cornish came up big for us missionaries. I think we all enjoyed that one and it helped us all a lot. And, I just love seeing President Monson get up and speak despite his weakness. He is a champ. I love watching him walk out after the sessions and stop and wave to the crowd and give thumbs up to everyone. What a guy. 


I have been working on "My Plan" this transfer. My Plan is the program that the church has put together to help prepare missionaries that will be returning home. (Elder Evans just caught a snake right outside the door of the office. Sweet stuff. Sis Heap was freaking out over the tiny thing. She hates snakes. Super funny.) Each week you spend an hour on the computer going through making visions, goals, and plans so that you can go home and have the path set to continue on in your progression in life. The first week I recorded the spiritual truths that the Lord has taught me and the Christlike attributes the Lord has helped me develop. The second week I made a one year vision and some goals. And then this past week I made plans for "Continued Discipleship". The last couple weeks have been really good because I have been able to realize that my progression in life doesn't end after I go home. I have been able to recognize that there are so many opportunities to grow and learn and continue on in my progress. It actually gives me a ton of confidence going home knowing that the good part of life is only beginning. I know that it will be challenging and not as easy as being a missionary, but greater work and more effort will only bring greater growth and progression. So it has been good. I think this week I will be making plans for education and career and then the week after will be dating and marriage. So I have a lot of fun ahead of me. We shall see how this goes.


Anyway, I guess that will be it for me today. I don't have too much else for y'all. Thank you for all of your continued support and prayers! I feel it! Keep the faith and carry on with the many joyful things of this life! I love ya!


God bless ya!


Elder Reed Ericson

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Lasts" Happening Real Fast

September 24, 2016

Heeeelllllloooooooo everyone! First things first, I love y'all! This past week was something else. A lot of ups and downs, that's for sure. I'm usually not the roller coaster type of person, I'm usually just along for a pretty straight shooting fun ride, but the coaster has been rolling around in all sorts of twisties and loopies. 

The beginning of the coaster was probably Wednesday when I had my last Zone Conference in the Texas Lubbock Mission. The conference was pretty good, in fact I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a lot of buds there and for sure felt inspired by it all. Plus, the food was dang good, so that's always a plus! However, along the high riding roller coaster of Zone Conference is the portion for departing testimonies of missionaries going home. You always think about giving your departing testimony as a missionary, and then all of a sudden it happens and it hits ya right across the face. President Heap instructed on some killer stuff right before a short break that was followed by testimonies. So as President Heap was wrapping up his instruction on "Words Mean Something" I knew the time was drawing closer. Then the break happened. So I got up and went wee-wee before returning to the chapel to sit there and wait. Well, we all gathered back together and the Elder conducting announced the departing testimonies, and when he announced my name I had the big twinge in my chest and almost lost it. But I kept it real. There was one sister missionary and then I was the first elder to go. So when the sister stood up and opened her mouth I nearly lost it again. But I kept it real. She said "amen" and sat down and I got myself up and walked up to the front of the chapel. I knew I was toast, I don't stand a chance of holding back tears for things like that. So I said, "For those of you that have been to my district meetings and zone trainings, you know that I cry. So bear with me!" And at that point the tears were coming. Long story short, I cried at the beginning but did surprisingly really well for the last half.

There is always a problem with departing testimonies being long mushy stories but all of us kept ours really short and bore testimony and didn't tell stories or give advice. There was some advice from a couple, but we all kept it short and real. So I stood up, shared my love, bore testimony about the things that matter most and a couple reasons I know them to be true, said "amen", and sat back down. One of the things that I mentioned a number of times as well was that "you" (referring to the missionaries) were one of the reasons that I knew those things to be true. I had 7 companions there (current and former) including my two mission sons, who are both prime examples of the grace of the Lord changing people. So that was a pleasure to have them intently looking into my eyes while I mentioned that I know the Savior lives because of what he's done for them. So anyway, there is my sob story for the day. There may be more, so it may be the first sob story of the day. But Zone Conference as a whole was pretty sweet. I have found that just being around President Heap is such a huge boost to life. Holy cow. I don't know what it is but just being in a meeting with him makes you feel good. He also instructed on his expectations of our missionary work. He apologized to his "young friends" for not having his expectations high enough regarding finding and baptizing. A mission presidents love + expectations drive the work, and he said that his love for us has never wavered, but he said that he has had to repent and raise his expectations and have more faith, which he said that he has developed and is still developing more and more. Dang, that was powerful. I wish I would be here for follow up zone conference on this one to see what he does to raise our own expectations.

Also during zone conference I got word of my first severe accident as the vehicle coordinator. So that's been great. Luckily the sisters are alright, however the car is totaled. And to make it worse, it was the sister missionaries fault. However the sister has been handling it like a champ and she has been super duper good at getting everything in that she needs to. I've gotten calls from church people, insurance people, and even law people that the church has hired to help her. And she has been doing everything and getting everything into all those people that she needs! So good on her! I had to send her a text yesterday thanking her for her good work! I thought she deserved it, plus, she could probably use all the boost she can get right now. Luckily I haven't had to do much for it at all. The insurance and law firm people have been working with her directly so I'm just chillin' as for now, however I have gotten a few calls about it from some people. It was kinda weird how it all worked out on our side as well. Missionaries are to call the vehicle coordinator and President Heap/Sister Heap immediately if they have an accident, however I was sitting in zone conference listening to someone talk when I heard my name from behind and looked back to see Pres Heap summoning me. He asked me if particular sisters had talked to me, and I said "no", and he said that they had gotten in a serious accident the previous night and that the car was totaled and all. Then he departed as he accepted a call from them, and then they called me an hour or two later. So it was a little frightening hearing about it from him like that. Luckily both the sisters weren't injured. The car can be replaced, but lives can't be!

Anyway, back to my roller coaster. Thursday was probably one of the hardest days I've had. We spent a ton of time getting moved into our own apartment, which we finally got after crashing with 4/5 elders for the last 5 weeks. It was sure fun, but we needed our own place! So we basically spent all of our day doing that aside from a little bit of time working in our assignments. But Thursday night I was having it rough. We spent a long time assembling my new desk (which is super legit by the way) and I just had time to think about life and I was losing my mind. I just felt totally lost as a missionary. I realized that I was stressed because I feel like I need to make things happen for myself personally asap before I'm out of time, but I just couldn't seem to find the time to do it. I just felt helpless in a sense. I felt like I hadn't fulfilled my potential because I hadn't had the opportunity to get out and work on it at all, and that I was just wasting away. It was terrible. I was straight about to call President Heap to get a boost. So Friday morning (yesterday) I decided I was going to get things straight during my study time, so I read my chapter out of the Book of Mormon as always, and then I went to Preach My Gospel ch. 1 "My Purpose". There is a section on what a successful missionary is, and there are a list of bullet points in there that help you know if you are successful. So I went through one by one and recorded how I have been successful in those ways, and I realized that I have been successful in many many ways! It helped a ton!

And then yesterday we were busy all day until our evening proselyting time, so I had my mind occupied, and then we were able to go out and make a couple visits before the night was over, and it just helped me get back on track! It felt good to just get back to missionary work! We talked to President about doing our full studies until 10 instead of being in the office at 9 and not having anything to do all day, and then also he recommended before I even asked that we should go out and work when we have slow days. And now that our apartment is settled we should be good to go and it will help me a ton! We have done full personal and companionship studies the last couple days, and now our apartment is for the most part settled (besides my dresser I still have to finish constructing) and so that's out of the way! So this coming week I should be rolling high! Even just after yesterday and then some good studies today I feel like a champ, so all is well. 

Anyway, we had a good dinner and visit with the bishop the other day. That went well. Good guy. And then last night we visited a couple in the temple presidency and that was nice. Pres Curtis taught seminary and institute for like a million years so I asked him some Old Testament questions and shared a scripture that related to our conversation from the Old Testament. Its always fun sharing scriptures with people you know for a fact know the scriptures way way way better than you! I read from Joshua 3 and then he went on the talk about Joshua 4 and on. Good stuff. Our ward mission leader and our bishop want us to spend our little proselyting time trying to visit members in their homes and getting to know them. So sounds like thats what we'll be doing from now on! 

Well team, I'm fixin' to get headed off this thing sometime soon. It has been a pleasure to address you this day! May the good Lord bless you throughout your week! I love y'all and thank you for your support and prayers!

God bless ya!


Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, September 19, 2016

Crazy Days

September 17, 2016

Hello hello hello to all you wonderful people! Holy cow! Elder Ericson's life is crazy. Not really that crazy, but crazy. And it’s not really ongoing craziness either, basically just a week full of crazy. But hey, I like crazy sometimes.

Holy cow. To start off the week we had a nice big batch of new missionaries make their way to Lubbock! My goodness, I love new missionaries so much! They are the greatest! This batch is particularly stellar, with hardly any deer in the headlight looks like you usually get! I had the privilege to sit down across from all of them and have them sign a couple of things and discuss their driving records, certify them as drivers, and give some further instruction on a couple of things. That was quite the wonderful experience! I got to see one on one the light that all these young people have fresh out in the field! I was pretty proud of myself as well, I cranked through those interviews like nothing. Usually they take forever to get through, but Elder Ericson got them in and out of there like a champ. I think I had completed all 26 missionaries (over the course of Monday and Tuesday) before most of the other interviewers got through 20 or so. Everyone was very impressed because apparently the vehicle ones usually take forever. But we made quick work of it! People have been saying that I need to just stick around and fill my assignment for another year, and I just tell them to find me a wife and we will serve a junior couple's mission together. So far I haven't gotten any leads so it doesn't seem to be working out. However, Elder Heppler did have one person that he said he could get (basically as a joke), and I felt weird so maybe I shouldn't go that route. But, don't worry fam, I won't be pulling a year long extension for a junior couple mission. I just don't think we can work anything out fast enough:) ANYWAY, enough of that garbage.

It was fun eating with the new missionaries as well. We all ate dinner together at the church and I got to be the designated "old missionary" at my table with a bunch of greenies. They were just firing off questions and pumped about everything. It is hard sometimes though because everything has to be positive for them. So they ask questions that I may only have an answer that isn't super positive, but I had to answer honestly and just blow smoke about some things, but also make it positive. It was fun though! They just look up to you a ton as an older missionary and want to learn from you! Also, on Tuesday night we had 6 of the new elders crashing with the four of us. So we had 10 missionaries in our apartment. What a blast! We had a few kids that were a total hoot. My goodness, I remember my first night and we were all quiet and anxious. But dang, these kids were just loving life. We had to keep telling a couple of them it was time for bed because they were just having a good time with life. Good for them! 

Another sweet perk during those couple days was that we got to join them for the traditional lunch at Blue Sky on Wednesday before they departed for their areas! Holy camolie! I didn't even know how good Blue Sky was! I had a double bacon cheeseburger with guacamole, grilled onions, hickory sauce, and something else that I can't remember. Oh man, this stuff is for real. And them suckers ain't small either. I was a very happy man walking out of there along with a nice full belly. This stuff blows your gourmet burger joints (Red Robin, etc) out of the butcher house. 

Unfortunately, with new missionaries coming in, that means that missionaries were also going out. So I had to say goodbye to some good friends! Luckily it wasn't that hard because I know that I'll have a lot more communication than previous in a bit. But that was interesting sending people off that were always part of my same "generation". When it really got me though was Tuesday night writing in my journal. I haven't felt too bad at all regarding the fact that I am getting down to the end, but I got hit Tuesday night with the reality of it. So that was rough. Ever since then it has been more difficult. I realized that I don't want this to be over and that I wish I had more time to learn and grow and apply things. Satan has been working on me a little bit trying to make me think that I haven't grown enough and that I didn't do enough with my time. It has been harder to recognize the growth that has occurred than to look at the growth that is still to be had. Especially since things aren't as easy spiritually and such anymore. I have to work harder to be where I am supposed to be. A member mentioned on Sunday that what you are able to do while in the office is a great indication of what you will be able to do when you go home. That was an interesting perspective that I liked! So I have thought about that and it made me try to find more time to study and stuff. 

Something pretty dang cool that I got to do this past week is that I got to drive a brand spankin' new car off the lot! Oh man, that was something else! We went to go pick up the last of the new car batch that we have received a few months ago, a 2016 Nissan Altima. Long story short, we lost the use of our car the day before because of this and that (don't have time to tell the story) so picking up the new unit was perfect timing! So we have been driving that pup around lately. And it super nice because it doesn't have a tiwi box in it to bark at me when I start going too fast. It’s actually pretty weird. It’s super easy to speed because you don't have tiwi barking at you when you get going too fast. Luckily I haven't gotten trashed by a cop yet. I'm trying to drive within the legal means but I'm just so used to tiwi that it’s hard not having him there! Also, I have driven by myself a number of times now! It was SUPER weird my first time! It’s been nearly two years since I was last driving by myself! But this past week I drove a few times completely solo! It was sketch, but super fun at the same time!

Let’s see here. I am pretty stoked to be a district leader for my last transfer. I had a nice little break and now I have one last shot to put everything I have learned as a leader to play! And it’s super weird because we have two trios of sisters in our district and that’s it. So, Elder Ericson will have sisters in his district for the first time on his mission and there's 6 of them. They even split the district this transfer because of a couple new areas. The last couple transfers Elder Dilling had four companionships of sisters in his district and that was it! He was oftentimes referred to as "The Relief Society President" hahaha!!!! Good stuff. But now we have half of the Relief Society. It has been super good so far though! I have already seen growth in myself as a leader and already seen myself apply some things that I wish I would have done better at in previous assignments. All of our sisters are wonderful missionaries and it is a pleasure to work with them all! 

Also, our compadres that we live with are training a new missionary in a trio. The kids name is Elder Fernandez and he is the biggest champ ever! hahaha he's been cracking us up all day every day! He is from Queens New York and is Peruvian. Holy cow he is so legit! He always refers to his "ghetto slang" which is hilarious stuff, and has been introduced to a whole new world outside of New York! He has so far mowed his first lawn in his life and also is learning to ride a bike! They told stories of his first bike day that night and it was so funny listening to his near death experiences! So, after almost dying the whole day, they went to the church parking lot and practiced riding bikes for a while before the night was over! Hahaha I love that kid! 

Well team, I'm fixin' to close this up. It was a busy week full of work and fun (I actually had something to do all day most days) and I am looking forward to another good week! May the good Lord bless you in your efforts to live righteously in this perilous world! He has set the path and we must follow!

God bless ya!


Elder Reed Ericson
Picture:   #QuadSquad of Canyon West!  (Elder Reed in light blue tie.)