Monday, February 29, 2016

Holy Rollin'

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Road Tripping it Up!

February 22, 2016
Hello to the very best group of family and friends there could be! Ho-ly cow! It was an adventurous week for myself here in West Texas! Sure was a good one though, thanks to the good Lord and his grace!
I will start off by informing you about the main event of the week, my trip up to Lubbock for MLC! Well, for those of you who don't know (like all of you), San Angelo is a solid 3+ hours from Lubbock. So our adventure started by leaving San Angelo at about 7:00pm on Thursday night. And that means that most of the trip was driven in the dark. I was making the trek with Elder Young who is serving in a small town called Brady, TX which is about an hour southeast of San Angelo. Well, Elder Young and I figured that the fastest route would be for us to travel through Colorado City (which is in the Sweetwater Branch - where we both served) and then up through Snyder and up to Lubbock. Definitely the most straight shot route geographically speaking. Well, soon after getting out of town we found out that this route included nothing but a two lane road with a 75 mph speed limit. Also, to add to it, the road was pretty curvy and actually went through a bunch of hills and stuff (imagine that!). I realized that this was probably a bad idea after suddenly hitting a pretty good curve at a mere 80 miles an hour. Yikes. Oh boy, we knew we were going to be in for a good one! But it was no biggy, I found my groove on the road and got used to the handling necessary to handle the landscape. At one point Elder Young looked down at the GPS and saw that our estimated arrival time was going to be past 11:00............ crap. That's no good! So for about 30 minutes we were confused about life thinking that our trip was for some reason going to take 4 hours and have us arrive after 11:00. Luckily the gps was just on the fritz and was set an hour ahead for some reason, so our 10:00 arrival stayed true. Anyway, we had a DANG GOOD time. Holy camolie! Hahaha Elder Young is one of a kind! There is no one in the world that is like him! He brings up the weirdest conversation topics and we were both just enjoying life far too much. More than should be allowed!
Anyway, we arrived in Lubbock a little after 10:00 and walked into the apartment we were going to be staying at to see that there was already an extra companionship there. Sweet, 6 elders, gonna be a party. Well after about 30 minutes 5 more missionaries walked in the door........ nice, 11 elders in one apartment that only has two mattresses that belong to the original elders' beds. Luckily, 3 of the extra 5 left so we were left with 8 missionaries. So we all took our spots on the floor and began our attempt to sleep, emphasis on the "attempt". There was no sleeping. We were all quiet and attempting to sleep, but for some reason that floor wasn't doing it for us. I would be wide awake and be thinking about how I was probably the only one having a hard time sleeping when I would hear Elder Young toot and the other missionary roll around uncomfortably. At about 6:00 after a few morning sports alarms went off, I walked out to the main room (I was sleeping in the extra bedroom) to 4 WIDE AWAKE elders. I asked "Did a single one of you sleep at all last night?" and I got 4 jovial "NOPE!" responses! So, that was an experience. I have no clue how we all made it through MLC without getting drowsy, plus long drives home. But somehow the good Lord pulled us through!
MLC was LEGIT! All of my pals, including some old companions that I haven't seen in quite some time, were there and we got some sweet instruction about some new things they are going to be doing in our mission and received some good training on some leadership stuff. Nothing that would interest any of you non-missionaries. It was sweet though. And then our drive home was another experience of its own. Elder Young and I had a fun time and them nasty windy roads gave me another fit. However we arrived in safety. Plus, for dinner I had an 8 pack of double stuff Oreos and an entire bag of Cheetos. GROSS. That didn't feel good. I hate junk food but for some reason I still eat it. All in all, MLC was a memorable experience and I am pumped to tear it up with all of the instruction we received! Also, I forgot how amazing the flat land up in Lubbock is! You think it sounds ugly, but I just can't get enough of looking out over miles and miles of flat land with plowed fields with the sun setting on the horizon! I miss it! San Angelo is claimed to be "better looking" than the rest of West Texas but I beg to differ!
On Saturday we had an interesting opportunity arise. It seemed pretty normal but turned out to be interesting. We received a text from a member asking if we could go give a blessing to his friend in the hospital. So we went with him, and walked into the room and there were a couple people in there visiting with the lady. After a little investigation I realized that one of them was the preacher at the church that this lady went to! So, I was kind of hesitant to go ahead and offer her a blessing but I figured we needed to, even with her preacher there. She accepted, so I had to explain to her the purpose of the consecrated oil and anointing her with it, and then how the blessing was going to work. And then we proceeded to give her a blessing.... with her preacher there. Yikes. We just gave her a blessing and I had to focus on thinking about her and not her preacher being there. Afterwards he thanked us for doing it for her and he said he enjoyed being there because he had never seen that before. It was definitely awkward, but I just acted friendly and it all worked out well. As we were driving away I just got hit with emotion and the spirit. I have had a lot of sappy personal moments lately. I was just so humbled that the Lord trusts me to administer his priesthood authority. It is humbling enough to think about how he trusts me to let alone hold it, and then it just adds onto it when I have a chance to bless people and act in His place. I have had many other experiences like that recently. I had an opportunity to do some ministering to another missionary, one of my leaders at that, last week and I just sat there for a while after getting off the phone and just felt so much humbling gratitude that I was able to minister to a good friend of mine in a significant way. I have been learning a lot about ministering to others lately and how to use my God given gifts to bless others, and it has been a life changing experience for me!
On a different note, let me fill you in on a little bit about West Texas. So, we went and picked up some trash at a cemetery across the street from our apartment last week. We found a fence line that had a bunch of trash on it and went to work. However, this fence line was filled with every single possible plant that has any sort of thorn growing out of it in the entire world. Good gads! And I ain't talking rose bush type thorns, I am talking about heavy duty, metal like, barbed, 3 inch long, non-dulling thorns!!!!!! These things are monsters! There were like 5 different kinds of plants that all had lethal killers coming out of them! I got a smaller cactus thorn stuck in my finger (yes, I was wearing gloves, it went through them) and it hurt like the devil pulling the tip of that thorn out! Those things have no place in the world. Get!
As for the rest of the work this past week, we had tons of stuff to do here and there and I feel like we didn't get very much proselyting time. We didn't have many lessons and we hardly had any time to get out and find people. However, this week doesn't seem to have much on schedule so we should be able to go out and go hard! I am excited to just get out and let the people know about the good word! Because it is the truth and will change their lives!
Well I best be closing this! I hope and pray that y'all will be blessed in all your endeavors this week and that the grace of the Lord will attend you in y'alls lives! I love you and pray for you every day!
God bless ya!
Much love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Me with the twin buttes of San Angelo in the background. Didn't even realize they were there until after. Wish I could have gotten more centered....

                       Elder Young and I before we departed back to San Angelo. Fun times.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Jesus take the Wheel

February 16, 2016

Well hello my good friends and family! How great it is to be here in San Angelo, Texas right now! Mainly because its like 72 degrees right now, which is perfect, but its always good to be anywhere in the service of the Lord! But this week was definitely a little bit more eventful than last week! I literally had nothing to talk about last week, but this week was fun! I am going to be all over the place this week so just enjoy!

To start off I would like to tell you of an annoying habit I have gotten in to. So, I say the phrase "very good" ALL THE TIME to people! Its gotten so bad that we were talking to an older man and I had asked him how he was feeling and he went on to describe all the pain he was in. And of course, after her was through describing all his pain, I replied with "very good"! Haha so he whipped a "No! Its not good!" back at me! Oh man, I felt bad but I went on to describe my problem and he got a good laugh out of if! And now he makes fun of me saying "very good" all the time. But I am trying to stop saying it. I am catching myself saying it now and so I am able to stop myself before it comes out. So hopefully I can kick that habit soon!

I was nearly killed this week while riding with a 90 year old man. He took us out to dinner and we were on a main busy road and turning left onto another road. We were in the left hand turn lane and waiting to turn left with a red light. And then all of a sudden he just drove right out there and turned left onto the other road as if he had a green light! YIKES!!!!! I think he was thinking he had a "yield" or something because he went right after a line of cars drove past going the other way. And this happened after he pulled straight through some "Do not enter" signed going into a parking lot going the wrong way. Wow, what a night that was! Those were just two of many frightening instances! However, he is a great man and I quite enjoyed the company and the fajitas that I ate for dinner!

We had some annoying water issues this week at our apartment. One night the water went out for a little while before it came back on before bed. However the next morning we woke up to no running water! Turns out, a water line busted out by the street coming into our apartment complex and left the entire complex without water all night and into the afternoon the next day! So we had to pack up our stuff and go take showers at the other elders’ place. And then, two mornings later, our shower was making funny sounds when the hot water was running, so once again we had to pack up our stuff and trek on over to the other elders’ place once again. On the bright side, we still temporarily have the car that we've had for the last week or two. So it wasn't too big of an inconvenience! Thank heavens I'm in America where we have hot water that flows like a hot spring into our shower! There are definitely perks to being an American missionary! God bless America!

We were told of a sweet service opportunity for Thursday afternoon early in the week. We were told that a senior care center needed some helpers for their Valentine's Day party. Heck yeah, I'll hit that place up! It was kind of awkward for a bit but it got much more comfortable. At first they just started playing some oldies jazzy music and had an open dance floor. Might I add that nearly everyone was in wheel chairs. So we all "danced" with people for a little bit. We basically just pushed them around and held their hands and moved them back and forth. However I asked this nice lady named Martha to dance and so we danced for just a minute and I ended up just sitting with her and visiting for well over 30 minutes. She was delightful! We talked about this and that and just had a good time! It got to the point when she asked me to guess how old she was because she said that I probably would be surprised with how old she was. She looked real good and healthy so I guessed 86 at first. She said that she was a few years older than that. So I guessed 89. Once again, she was older. At that point she just told me that she was 101 years old!!!!!! I couldn't believe it! I sat there and argued with her over her age for a minute because I was so shocked! Hahaha she was wonderful! She is my new buddy! Anyway, after the party concluded most of the seniors just stayed in the big room we were in and one of the workers asked if we wanted to sing some karaoke to them. Y'all know me, I can't pass up a good karaoke opportunity! So me and Elder Johnson threw down a few oldies tracks, quite pitifully might I add, that really seemed to bring some joy into our senior friends! Heck, the lady in charge even invited us back for more karaoke whenever we pleased! So we may be going back when Elder Johnson and I go on exchanges!

We had a crazy experience on Tuesday I believe it was. So on Monday evening I wanted to plan some good ol' knocking into our schedule. Elder Andrus was opposed but I was persistent because we have actually had a little bit of success knocking lately. So after taking a little break in the shade because we were both dead tired, we embarked on our knocking journey at about 4:30pm. First door, nothing. Second door, nothing..... so I thought. For some reason I just kept standing there waiting and waiting much longer than I normally wait. Finally, the door unlocks and opens and a man comes out and stands on the porch with us. I create some good friendly conversation (my knocking approach) and we eventually got talking about his family after a couple minutes. I asked him some sort of question and he responded with, "Well I'm actually a Mormon!". Ok, sweet, knocked into an inactive member. That's cool. Well, come to find out, this man, Bro Stephens we will call him, had been inactive for 35 years after being very active (branch presidency callings) and being sealed in the temple to his first wife. But the cool thing was, he said that the night before he was online trying to figure out what ward he was in, where he met, and who the bishop was so he could get into contact with him. However he decided to wait for God to tell him it was time to get back into church. Well, less than 24 hours later we randomly knocked into him. It was crazy! It is so amazing to see how the Lord uses us and it is truly humbling to recognize that the Lord is using you as a powerful tool in his hand to help people! Did I feel "impressed" to knock that day on that street? I didn't think so. I just wanted to knock because it seemed like it would be sweet to knock. And that street was near our dinner appointment an hour later and was right by a nice shady spot that we took a little break at. I never felt an "impression", however because I was living worthily and righteously the spirit's impression came in just "random ideas" that seemed like a normal decision. I have seen that as the way that the spirit works with me most. I haven't had one of those "I know there is somebody on this street we need to find" feelings on my mission, however I have had many "eh, let’s turn here, this street looks nice" type of "impressions". I have found that it is a life-long journey trying to figure out how the spirit works with us individually. There will never be a point in my life when I have it figured out. However I do have the ability to better recognize him and better follow promptings that I know I am getting. And it would have taken me a heck of a lot longer to do that if I hadn't been called to serve!

Along with that, I had a pretty cool experience reading the scriptures this week. I happened to be in the infamous 3 Nephi 11 during personal study one day. I read the verse where Father announces His son, "in whom (he) is well pleased". I really started to think about how Father feels about me. Is he pleased with my work? So, after a few minutes in thought I said a little prayer in my heart asking him directly if he was pleased with me. Once again, I didn't get that "overwhelming feeling", however I felt a small feeling of peace throughout my body. Boom, answered prayer. I found great comfort in that answer to my humble prayer. It gives me courage and faith to keep pressing on! However I do recognize my constant need to improve and progress. For a moment I was like, "Sweet! I'm good to go!" but I soon realized that he was pleased with my effort to improve and not just where I was at. You take away my effort to improve and that approval probably goes away. But for me that was an awesome example of how the scriptures can bring us personal revelation and guide our lives. It wasn't a big experience, however small experiences like that are what build us up and help us keep going.

Well, that will be it for me today! I love the work of the Lord! There is no greater place that I could be than San Angelo, Texas helping with the gathering of Israel! And only because of the Lord's grace am I able to be the missionary, disciple, and priesthood holder I need to be to fulfill my purpose on this journey and my mortal existence! The savior, Jesus Christ, lives!

May God bless y'all in your many labors and endeavors this coming week!

 Con mucho amor,
Elder Reed Ericson

                                                   Reed and his 101-year-old friend.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Keepin' It Real in San Angelo

February 8, 2016

Why hello my good familia y amigos! How is life? This week was pretty boring, not gonna lie. We stayed busy all week but I feel like I have nothing to write about. Which is weird, because I seem to always have SOMETHING cool to talk about. So we shall see what my fingers type as directed by the spirit!


Well to start off I can give you an update on my basketball skills for the millionth time. After a nice cold streak of sucking it up, I have found my groove on the hardwood again! For the last 3 months I have played zero defense and just shoot threes like its my day job. And that style of play doesn't really work when you can't hit a three for the life of you. BUT, last Monday and another morning this past week I decided to play defense for once, and my stroke from the outside became deadly once again! Plus I have been much more versatile offensively! I actually drive and pass now too! But we shall see what the coming weeks have in store for my bball skills. But I thought I'd fill you in as always!


Dang, I am really struggling to think of other things to write about. We helped in Primary yesterday! We were sitting gospel principles when the primary president walked in and said that she needed the help of the elders! So I shot up out of my seat and peaced out to primary, because lets face it, primary is way more awesome than adult classes! So we got to sit with the CTR 4 kids during sharing time and that was quite the experience. There were two kids that were on one. One of them was actually pretty funny but the other one was being a total brat to me. He kept on sticking his tongue out at me and saying pretty dang rude things to me when I tried to get him to settle down! Good thing his dad happened to be there because the kiddo gave the talk. So his dad came and sat behind him and kept him a little more under control. Good heavens. Those little ones are crazy! Their teacher actually showed up before they went to class so we stayed in primary and sat with the 9 year olds! They were a good group! We are good buds with one of the kids in that class because we eat at their place quite often, so he sat next to us and we had a good time! I miss primary so much! It was so fun to sit in on sharing time and listen to those kids sing their hearts out and share their testimonies! It was super powerful to hear those kiddos belt out "I am a child of God"! And they understood what they were singing too! I hope I get to work in Primary some day! Good times!


We didn't have too much productivity with the work this week. It seemed like things just didn't happen. I guess we really didn't even have much time to work out area until Wednesday afternoon however. We had p-day, and then on Tuesday we had district meeting and district lunch, and then we went on exchanges with the zone leaders. They are doing this new thing where they have all four missionaries go to the leaders' area to work for the day. So we didn't work our area at all on Tuesday and then not until later on Wednesday. So things started slow. We had our typical visits with Mac and Andrew which are always good. We had some pretty sweet lessons with them! Oh yes, and we had a SWEET visit with our old friend Sam! We've mostly just been helping him with his smoking and giving him support and encouragement but he started asking tons of questions the other day! We went over there at like 3:45 and he wanted us to stay there for the rest of the evening! However we finally got out of there at like 5:15 or so! He just started ripping off tons of questions about the second coming and millennium! Hahaha super fun conversation that we had! But all of his questions and answers really seemed to help bring him peace and comfort! It really hit the spot for him! We told him a LOT of information so we had to just cut it off and leave the rest for another time, even though he wanted us to stay for hours and hours! What a fun guy! Good ol' Sam! We also contacted a sweet-o less active member and a couple other pretty sweet people but nothing has come out of it so far. Hopefully this week we can see things start coming together!


My district meeting was pretty sweet this week! This whole transfer I have been working hard on getting the principle of accountability drilled into my missionaries heads! The whole goal is to help these young missionaries be better able to teach repentance through understanding repentance better in their own lives. So I have been doing a lot of things with them to help out with that foundation of understanding. And the principle of accountability is crucial in learning repentance! I could go on for days about all this but I figure that you don't care too much. Anyway, our last two district meetings have just been huge accountability sessions. The first one was pretty good but this past one was LEGIT. Such good stuff happening! I could see so much progress made in these young men and their understanding of it all! Plus, I am working on changing the culture of district meetings in our district and hopefully it spreads to our zone as well. I have really worked on making our meetings more efficient and more of what they are supposed to be. Because I feel like district meetings have become something different than what they are intended to be. So that's been sweet. All in all its been a good time with the boys in my district! However, they are closing one of the areas in my district so I will be down to just my companionship and one other set of elders, AGAIN! Haha that's what I had in Odessa as well! I enjoyed having an extra set of elders for a couple transfers, but I guess it wasn't meant to be!

Well I best be closing up! I hope y'all have a good week! May God bless you in your adventures this week as you hold to the iron rod and stand firm in your faith in Christ! His grace will never fail! I pray that his guiding hand may constantly be on your back directing you through this perilous world we live in! In fact, I was sitting at my desk a week or two ago at night before I went to bed and I could just hear sirens going on for a long time. It made me think about how crazy this world is and just how much commotion is in the world. It made me think about just how important it is to live the gospel to its fullness and to share our light with others! So be a light in the world! That is the single most important missionary work you can do!

God bless ya!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, February 1, 2016

I bet it's warmer here than there.

February 1, 2016

Well hello my good amigos y familia! What a joy it is to email you today! This past week was pretty good. I can't complain.

Starting with yesterday.... all four of us elders here in the San Angelo 1st Ward gave talks in sacrament meeting! Bishop asked us last week if we could talk on "missionary work" so we had quite the broad assignment. But with all four of us talking we all were supposed to keep it under 10 minutes which is quite the difficult task. I spoke third, and the first two speakers went over time so I didn't expound on anything too much. Which was actually pretty sweet. It kept things powerful and to the point. That was a sweet talk! Not gonna lie. It was pretty sick. Everybody had a fit about our talks. Good heavens. It was a mob of people coming up to us after sacrament meeting thanking us for our talks and our testimonies. Like, mobs. It was nuts. People need to take a chill pill around here. But, they were pretty sick so it makes sense. I started off by ripping off a decent sized memorized quote from Gordon B. Hinckley that just brought the spirit, and then I got a few laughs, and then I commenced to throw down and ripped off some sweet memorized quotes throughout the talk. Its so much fun. I haven't spoke in church since I had a solid 10 minutes to prepare in Sweetwater when I still had no clue about anything in life. That talk to this talk was like night and day. Its always super good to see sweet improvement like that! Other than church, yesterday was legit. We went out and worked in PERFECT weather all afternoon! It was a gem of a day! And it being Sunday and a beautiful day, the citizens of San Angelo were all out in fenced in backyards making delicious smelling food. Nothing beats the aroma of charcoal or mesquite smoke cooking beef. Ugh, I almost died. Plus, our dinner appointment cancelled on us so after smelling that for a couple of hours we got to our apartment and I made some tater tots doused in butter and salt. Usually I have something actually pretty sustaining and more nutritious but I didn't have anything prepared. So the tater tots that I found in the freezer that have been in there since who knows when were good enough for me.

We had another good couple visits with Mac this week. And get this, Mac admitted that he knows the Book of Mormon is "mostly true"....................... hahaha come on Mac! How do you know its only "mostly true"! He is just too stubborn to admit that he knows its "all true"! Oh man, I had a good laugh when he said that its "mostly true". He loves his stubbornness. At his baptism the stake president gave the talk on baptism, and to start his talk he mentioned how he had to look up the "phobia" word that means "fear of going to heaven" because that's what Mac had for a long time! Hahaha and then in sacrament meeting the next day the high councilman started off by mentioning that he thought about having Mac go up during his talk to share his testimony, but he said that the phrase "one miracle at a time" hit him hard! Oh man. I love Mac! He is so fantastic and stubborn. As Sister McMunn says, "He is a Missouri mule (he's from Missouri). And I say that because I can't use the other word with y'all here! You are STUBBORN sweetie! So so stubborn!" One of these days he'll admit its all true. But as of now we can only wait.

Funny story. At dinner the other night we were sitting there chatting after dinner and I had a mint in my mouth. We were with a young couple in the ward and the husband started singing some T-Pain to his wife. It was funny, so I started laughing, and the mint that was in my mouth went shooting down my throat but didn't make it very far down before stopping and getting stuck. I started coughing but nothing happened. So I then said something out loud with no problem whatsoever despite a mint being stuck in my throat. So I proceeded to pour some juice into my glass because I thought that juice would wash it down without fail. Well that didn't work. So I then proceeded to kinda but not really throwing the mint up onto my plate along with some other stuff that looked interesting and slimy from my throat! It was hilarious! Thankfully the members were dying laughing the whole time so it was all good! But, it was an experience.

We got some sweet new investigators this week! There were some people that Elder Mangum and I talked to forever ago that we have never been able to meet with. We have contacted them a couple of times but never actually talked to them. Well, we were riding our bikes a little down the ways from their house when I looked down the road they lived on and thought that we may as well stop by their place. Eureka. She welcomed us in and we chatted it up for like an hour about life. Very good conversation. Her husband was just in the front yard cleaning up Christmas decorations so we just left the door open and sat right there on the couches. After a while of good good discussion she started to ask some questions about us and what makes our faith different than the other gajillions of faiths around here. So we shared the Book of Mormon, and gave a brief rundown of the Restoration. She seemed to really enjoy it and made the comment that she had "a lot of reading to do". Wonderful lady and her husband is wonderful as well! Great great people!

The new investigators have been a whee bit low here in San Angelo but things seem to be starting to pick up here! We have talked to some good people this past week and things seem to be picking up now that the weather is nice! We also visited Andrew a couple times and had some really good visits with him. He is doing super well. He has been taught everything multiple times before in past years and "lessons" aren't doing him any good. He talks a perfect amount to where he talks about 50% of the time and then we and our member presents chime in and teach him good stuff. We also have a "lesson" in mind that we try to incorporate into our comments. For example, we made a lot of comments that referred to the Plan of Salvation in our first visit this past week, and then last night we incorporated the first principles and ordinances of the gospel into our comments. It has been a dynamite way of doing it! That way Andrew is getting these things applied directly to his life. We aren't teaching him a lesson, we are applying the gospel to his life. I think he is actually getting it this time around!

Well my good friends, life is good. I can't complain. The weather is nice, the people of San Angelo are nice, the ward is nice, the work is nice, and the apartment is just alright, but I can deal with that. May the Lord bless y'all in your many labors and duties this week! Continue on the path of discipleship and let the grace of the good Lord mold you into the person you want to be for eternities!

With love,
Elder Reed Ericson

This picture is Sis. McMunn, Mac, and myself at the grand event.