March 28, 2016
Hello everyone! It is a beautiful Spring day here in San Angelo, TX! And yesterday was a beautiful Easter Sunday! What a wonderful time of year it is!
Well, as said in the subject line, I will be headed out of San Angelo tomorrow and headed just up the road to Abilene! I will be serving in the Abilene 1st Ward with Elder Lund! Elder Lund is THE BEST!!!!!! Hahaha he is going to be a blast to work with! We will be serving as the Zone Leaders as well! I was really hoping to stay in the San Angelo 1st Ward or go somewhere new that I haven't been before. I have never served in Abilene but I have been there many times and been on some exchanges in Abilene as well. In fact, when we went up to Abilene for stake conference a couple weeks ago I made a comment a few times about how I wouldn't mind serving in Abilene. Well, I think the Lord heard that! So we will see how it goes. Out of my five areas, 3 will be in the Abilene Stake! It's a good stake with an absolutely wonderful stake president so I don't mind!
However, I am extremely sad to leave San Angelo! This has been an incredible place to work. I had always heard good things about San Angelo; however, it always was just the place way down in the southeast part of the mission that seems to be off by itself. So getting called here was interesting, but I soon found that it was wonderful. I have honestly served among such great people in any of my past areas. It seems like every single person that I associate with, whether it be on the street, at church, at the store, and really just anywhere, is a great person and very friendly and nice! I've never been really treated like dirt here and even when people aren't interested in the missionaries talking to them they are always very nice and will at least talk to you for a minute about this and that. I wouldn't say that southern hospitality is all that its claimed to be, but in San Angelo it is!
The San Angelo 1st Ward was absolutely amazing to serve in as well! At first I was extremely intimidated by the size of the ward, since I had gotten used to smaller wards. But holy cow, once I got acquainted with the people my intimidation had turned into lots of love! All the members are so good to us and wonderful people. Our meal calendar is usually pretty full with lots of different families and we never seem to have any awkward dinners or anything of the sort! Everyone is so fun to be with. They also know that we are missionaries first, however we always also have a dang good time and have lots of laughs and such and get off on weird tangents! They have been so good to me!
As for things I have learned while here in San Angelo, there have been many! This has probably been my most influential area for my personal growth so far! One of the greatest lessons I have learned here is the principle of accountability. Accountability truly can change lives and change the way you look at yourself and whatever you are involved in. Learning how to account to my leaders and the Lord has truly changed the way I view my mission and the importance of it. It has changed the way I take every single day and my mind set is changed as I do so. I have been able to improve on things that I have long struggled with and my desires to improve more and more has been enhanced!
Another life changing thing that I have really learned here in San Angelo is what it means to be a priesthood holder. I have had many opportunities to administer the priesthood through blessings and to minister as a priesthood leader in the mission, and those experiences were building blocks to my understanding of the doctrine of the priesthood and what it means to hold it. And as I have studied the scriptures as well I have learned much about what holding the priesthood means. Some of the most significant parts of scripture for me have been D&C 121:34-46 as well as much of Prophet Joseph's writings in Liberty Jail. I have memorized that section in D&C 121 and it is frequently going through my head and helped me understand the doctrine of the priesthood. And then through studying the beginning chapters of the Old Testament in Genesis I have gained a better understanding of my role in the Plan of Salvation. There are many key words, phrases, and doctrines in those early chapters speaking of the creation, Adam and Eve, and our early ancestors down to about Abraham that truly teach much about the priesthood and the most important duties that I and others have as bearers of the holy priesthood. President Heap says that his #2 responsibility behind his family is to prepare us to be good husbands, fathers, and priesthood leaders, and I believe that he is helping me do just that along! Although what is really doing it is the Lord and the Holy Ghost! But in San Angelo my eyes have been opened further to these things.
Another profound thing that I have come to understand better is the role of my Father in Heaven in my life. I have had many "pondering" experiences throughout my time here in which I have recognized the Lords hand in many ways. Some of the more prominent "ponderings" have been when I pondered events and things in my life that have led to my present conversion, and the role the Holy Ghost played in it. I was able to recognize just how often the Lord did HUGE things for me in my life, even when those huge things seemed like happenstance. Another one was when I pondered the most powerful prayers I have ever offered and what made them so powerful. I received some sweet revelation from that as well! I feel like half of my studies are spent sitting there staring at the wall in deep thought. Which can get me in trouble sometimes, because that usually at some point turns into me thinking about who knows what. But hey, its good stuff.... usually.
I have also developed greater Christ-like attributes here. Along with all of my ponderings and my learning of accountability I have recognized appendages of my weakness (the natural man) that are falling short of Christ-like. I have learned more fully my god given gifts and how to use those in a more Christ-like way. That has been a very interesting one for me! Once you begin to understand your gifts it leads to a process of learning how to apply those more fully, which is the tough part! However over the last couple transfers I have felt an increase in my ability to express my gifts and use them to bless other people. That has been wonderful to see. I can only hope to continue to grasp and apply those things in which my Father has blessed me with to bless others!
I have also seen an increase in my ability to relate to people and show love to them. Don't really know how that happened. I have always been able to do a good job at that, but I have seen an increase in the application of that. I have felt like I have been able to develop a deeper connection to the people I have acquainted with here than anywhere else. What a blessing!
I have had many other wonderful experiences here that I will never forget! Working with the infamous Mac and being here for him getting baptized was something that will last with me forever! I have memory after memory of just getting shut down time after time by him in their family room! Hahaha good times! I will forever remember the moment he said "Well, I guess I need to get baptized..............................................................................." and then the following weeks of disbelief by every single person that knows him! And then his baptismal service that filled the chapel and all the amazingness of that experience! Something I will never forget. I will never forget knocking into Richard who had been inactive for 35 years and told the Lord the night before that he was waiting on him to tell him it was time to go back to church. I will never forget those nights sitting in Andrews home helping him down his path of repentance. I will never forget Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Lunkley's, and all the fantastic dinner appointments at their place! And I will never forget all the hilarious rides in the truck with Elder Cooper, Mangum, and Johnson! Just a bunch of dang good, memorable times!
Anyway, as you could tell, I like San Angelo! But it is time to move on to Abilene, which I am excited for! But it is now time to fare thee well! I love y'all and hope y'all have a blessed week! Thank you for all of your prayers of support and know that I always appreciate them and pray for you as well! May the good Lord bless you as you go about sharing your light this week!
God bless ya!Much love,
Elder Reed Ericson