February 29, 2016
Hello my wonderful friends and family! What a wonderful life we live! I have been marveled recently at all the amazing blessing, mostly small, but some big, that the Lord bestows upon us each and every day. How thankful I am for all that I have!
This past week was pretty busy for us. It seemed like we didn't ever just have slow time. The highlight of the week was going to the temple on Saturday! We arose dark and early (4:20) so that we could be ready to get picked up and drive to Lubbock in time for the 9:00 session. I just hate mornings so much. I know they say that you get used to getting up at 6:30 on your mission, but I have not found that to be true. I feel like it just gets more and more painful staying diligent to that principle. But we're making it happen, somehow. Anyway, the ride up to Lubbock was rather uncomfortable. We rode up with Bro Lindsey (our sweet ward mission leader) in his Toyota 4Runner. Big and tall Elder Cooper got the front seat and the rest of us crammed into the back seat. And all being tired and basically passing out at points of the drive, we had some interesting body positioning going on back there. Arms here, head there, legs over yonder. Yeah, it was an experience.
The temple was full of awesomeness! We went through the 9:00 session, and then after the session we went and helped with the youth baptisms and I did confirmations! It was sweet though because both Sarah (the other elders recent convert) and Mac both went for their first time! So it was an exciting day for them! Well, Mac didn't seem to have too much emotion about it all, but I know he had light boiling inside of him waiting to burst out! For confirmations we did tons of Croatian names, so that was interesting. However, I was rather impressed with how well I pronounced most of them without much stumbling over them. I think I got that from Carl (dad). He seemed to do well with pronunciations! But it was awesome to be able to help with so much work in the temple. I seemed to have a little bit different mind-set this time, as I was able to focus more on what we were doing for all of those many people. It truly is an amazing work that the Lord has us do in the temple. His plan for all of us is absolutely remarkable! Thank God for the Atonement and the opportunity for ALL of us to be exalted!
We had a sweet storm last Monday night. We were outside our apartment door watching the show when what seemed like three nuclear bombs were dropped down the road! HOLY. COW. I basically stood still thinking the world was coming to an end for a few seconds before I realized what had happened and ran inside like a little girl! Hahaha! So freaky! But so legit! We got quite a bit of rain from that storm (actually a LOT of rain) so San Angelo is in the process of greening up real nicely right now! Things have been greening up for the past few weeks but it took another step forward with all that rain!
We played some sweet dodgeball with the young men on Wednesday! We met a returning less-active at the church at 7:00 and when we got out at about 7:50 the young men had already begun playing an interesting form of dodgeball, so we joined in! We joined half-way through our first game so I had no chance of winning because I was trying to figure out what the rules were for this game. We were playing in the chapel overflow area so it was quite the crammed game of dodgeball. However, we moved to play in one half of the gym after that first game, and I totally dominated! Them young men had nothing on me! Haha jk! It was sweet though destroying those young men with my shirt, tie, dress pants, and dress shoes. They didn't know what hit 'em!
We keep having less-actives coming to church out of nowhere. At church yesterday we had 3 there! It is always awesome to see people who have fallen off a bit (or a lot) have a change in desires and thirst for the blessings of the gospel again! It is interesting how everyone has a different story as well! Nobody fell away for the same reason, and nobody had the same events happen to drive them to come back! It is so interesting how each of us live very different lives, and all need to learn different lessons here in mortality, but all have the same eternal goal! It definitely gives me a great appreciation for the life I live and a testimony builder that God is there every step of the way because he knows what experiences I need and what lessons I need to learn to prepare me for the eternities!
We had some good experiences with teaching/ministering opportunities this week! We hadn't been able to meet with our good friend Andrew in over a week leading up to Saturday night. He was doing so good with praying and reading and making positive changes in his life, and he was feeling the blessing so much! However in the week or more that we weren't able to see him because of things coming up on his side of things he hit a downward slippery slope! In fact, he said that he almost called us and told us that he was done learning and didn't want us over again. Luckily, he didn't. We showed up and we let him talk for a good while and just get things off of his chest, and then we were able to discuss things with him and that man was smiling and pumped by the time we left the door! It is always so humbling to see what kind of an impact we can have on people who are struggling. Those are the times that I am most thankful to be a missionary!
Same thing with our good friend Sam! Sam is the old man we had been teaching and visiting. We decided that Sam is just not capable of being "taught" because of where he is at, however we still get over there to see him at least once a week if not more and discuss his life. Sam has been trying to quit smoking and is making some killer progress! He told us that he wished that we could just spend the greater part of the day with him because he would probably be done smoking in no time! He always says that he almost called us because we needed to get over there because he needed our presence. Another example of an opportunity to minister to others that truly humbles me and makes me thankful for the calling I have.
We had another opportunity to teach a family of 3 on Friday! We had talked to the husband/father of the Williams family out on his porch earlier in the week for 15 minutes or so and set up a time to come back on Friday night. It definitely seemed like another, "If I'm here you can talk to me" type of deals, which usually turn out to be nothing but a punched appointment, but I felt pretty good about this one and had some good faith going into it. Sure enough, they were waiting for us when we got there! Apparently he had gone inside after talking to us and had a good lengthy discussion with his wife about religion and the gospel which they hadn't discussed in quite some time. They told us ALL about their conversations (it took a while) and all of their concerns and questions about things were answered perfectly by a wicked lesson on the Restoration! We walked out of there two hours later leaving behind three people who just had all their concerns and questions answered for the night and three people super willing to learn more and find truth! It was sweet!
New investigators don't come around these parts in plentiful numbers so it was sweet to teach a family of three that was legit interested! We will be returning to their home this evening for another lesson so it should be a good time! Funny thing about that lesson the other night though..... I totally cried a little bit. Ugh. I haven't shared the restoration in quite some time to real people who are learning about it for the first time, so after I shared the First Vision and took a nice long pause to let the spirit work, I began to testify real strongly and it got me! I am becoming quite the spiritual softy. I seem to get emotional over things these days. I was reading D&C 121 about the rights of the priesthood trying to memorize it during studies, while on the potty, and nearly started crying. I just can't seem to be man it up these days when it comes to spiritual things. But hey, its pretty sweet when you are testifying with tears. Real powerful stuff!
Anyway, somehow I made it through describing my softyness without even getting a little teary, so I must be having a good day of manliness.
Well I will leave you with that on this fine day! I love y'all and hope that the good Lord blesses y'all as you go about being a light to others!
God bless ya!
Elder Reed Ericson