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!
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.