Monday, March 28, 2016

Peace Out San Angelo!!!

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Easter Power!

March 21, 2016

Hello! It is a sunny spring morning here in San Angelo, Texas! It has probably been a little bit more "springy" down yonder than it has been for the majority of you up in the more northern region. However, it has been a little chilly this past week. And I hear that it was pretty dang cold up in the Lubbock area the last week. Some missionaries went to the temple on Saturday and they said that it was in the 30's! Hace frio! Thank heavens I was sent down to the warm part of the mission for winter! Hopefully I won't have to bear the brunt of the boiling heat down here once summer rolls around. Not looking forward to that. Send me up to the panhandle or the mountains of NM for that! Anyway, this past week was a good week. I look at our key indicators (numbers) and it was borderline one of the worst weeks I've ever had, but I have learned that numbers don't mean anything here in the Texas Lubbock Mission and I am able to look back on many good things that happened!

To start off, I'll drop a little line about the Easter Initiative. We have seen that video now like a million times. At first it seemed like the same thing that we've had for the past 4 initiative videos. A lot or our "initiative work" comes with members after a meal. And members have all seen every single video and this is just another of the same it seemed like to them and there is not much excitement or anything. However, Elder's Quorum yesterday really put it all together for me. There are a few unique things to this video that we always like to talk about when showing it. One of which is the layer of family history that is brought up with it. It shows the young adults holding up pictures of their deceased family members and it takes it from a feel good video and gives it a personal touch. I always just think of those pictures being of my own ancestors and family and it gives me great thanks for the atonement and the resurrection!

There are other things that stand out to me when I watch it, but that is the main one. But yesterday in Elder's Quorum we had probably the best lesson I have ever had in church on the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the teaching of Howard W. Hunter. Holy cow. Bro Williams went so hard. I have always known and realized that the resurrection is by far the most important part of the atonement. In fact, I remember Grandma Ericson last Easter mentioning in an email that Christmas wouldn't mean anything without Easter. That has always stuck with me, but Bro Williams lesson really just helped me understand and grasp the concept in a new light. He actually started from the back of the lesson (the resurrection) and then worked back to the beginning of the lesson (being saved from spiritual death). A quote from Bro Williams, "Without the resurrection, the gospel is just a bunch of feel good stuff." How true that is! Even the unimaginable suffering that Christ went through literally has zero significance had he not risen. "Well that's cool that Christ saved you from your sins...... well...... cool. Glad it made you feel happy now because that's all it is. Temporary relief until you die." But thanks to the resurrection, the relief that he brings to us from our sins and all our other negative feelings and emotions MEANS SOMETHING. Thanks to an unconditional effect of the atonement, the conditional effects of it play an eternal and significant role in our lives. So now whenever I watch the Easter video (which he showed in his lesson) I see it in a new light. They mention "finding new life in Jesus Christ" a lot and that means something much deeper to me now. The 2 minutes of pure simplicity touches me deeply. Hallelujah!

Anyway, enough of my rambling. There are not too many notable things that happened that have much significance to you. We did go on exchanges on Wednesday/Thursday which were interesting. We ended up pulling a much longer exchange than we were originally planning on because we didn't have too much time to work on Wednesday. For exchanges now we just have all 4 missionaries working the leaders' area in two different companionships, which is an interesting experience compared to the old way of splitting up into two different areas. Thursday afternoon I was able to go out with Elder Johnson and we did some solid work. Taught a sweet lesson to one of their investigators. Interesting story there. He and his family are from Micronesia. He doesn't speak super duper English, but enough to understand and get things. However they got him a Bompayan Book of Mormon, so when we read scriptures he reads it in Bompayan and we read in English. So that was pretty sweet.

We also walked and biked a ton and talked to a lot of people. It was weird, their area seems to have way more people outside than our area! And you would expect the social and economical aspect of our area to bring a lot more people outside than their area! Oh well, we work with what we have. So we did some solid work all afternoon and had some dang good discussion about mission related things. Good times with Elder Johnson. (Random note: a man was here in the computer area at the library that I am sitting in and was talking to the worker. The worker answered his question and the man said "God bless you" and walked off! I love Texas!) On Wednesday night during our exchange we went and had dinner at the Lunkley's (same family that had us for Thanksgiving and Christmas) and it was one of the most legit dinners ever! He went Cajun style on us! Holy cow! We had a couple different kinds of Cajun sausage, gumbo, jambalaya, a seafood boil with shrimp, crab-legs, corn, potatoes, and then some lemon meringue soda to top it off (which tasted like a mix of lemonade and cream soda - dang good stuff). Oh dang. So dang good! Bro Lunkley can throw down some good grub! And then we ended it up with splitting a caramel something pie into fourths and chowing that down. It was amazing. And then after dinner we just had a grand old time with the Lunkley's. Probably were there a little long, but we learned some great life things from them! Most times we go over there they teach us a lot about relationships, marriage, etc. which is ultimately what we are preparing ourselves for out here. President Heap even says that his first priority is the make his mission a good experience for his family, and then his second priority is to prepare us to be good 1.husbands, 2.fathers, and 3.leaders in the church. Top two priorities. So a good lesson on relationships and marriage at the Lunkley's once a month can't hurt. They used some great analogies that were hilarious but perfect and I learned tons!


Saturday was a good day of work for us! It was a really nice day (on the cooler side of nice), so we literally walked from 1:00-5:30ish with a few small breaks and talked to lots of people and contacted a couple sweet former investigators! It was good to get out and actually have people to talk to! And the good Lord blessed me with only minor aches in my knees! Usually when I go out and walk for more than an hour or so my knees ache but I went for quite a while and felt relatively good all day! And then we had dinner with the one and only Blinn family after that so it was just overall a sweet day in San Angelo! Hopefully now that it is getting into spring time people will actually migrate outside. We have had lots of really nice weather but nobody seems to want to enjoy it. But now that it is officially Spring maybe people will switch gears in their heads! Other than all that, not much to report on with lessons or teaching. We had a few less-active lessons but that was about it. Granted, we were out of our area for a couple of good work days, so that probably had a big impact on that.

Well my loved ones, we're fixin' to get out of here. So I will close this one off for the day! I love y'all and hope that you can ponder the wonderful atonement of Jesus Christ this week and particularly the his resurrection and the amazing unconditional gift it is to all of us!

God bless ya!

Elder Reed Ericson

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Hand of the Lord

March 14, 2016

Hello my friends! Another week in the books! Time is flying way too fast! March is halfway over and I am a week away from being out for 17 months! Dang. Next month will be my 3/4 mark. Its crazy to think that time is winding down so fast. It will be over before I know it, which is scaring me a little bit!


This week was interesting. I feel like the work here in San Angelo was just dead all week. It seemed like days just happened with nothing in them. Part of it was the weather. We had a wet week with a couple days of lots and lots of rain. Already being a little disabled with transportation being in a bike area, you add rain to it and it now puts you on foot since you don't want to get drenched by riding through puddles that are necessary to ride through. Usually walking gets you a good chance to slow down to talk to some people, but when its raining there ain't nobody to talk to! And you can't just spend time knocking on doors because you are trying to get to a place that you know you can sit inside and visit with someone! And then when they aren't there, you must embark on your trek to the next place. So it was interesting. Those days were long but we were able to avoid getting soaked to the bone, thanks to rain jackets! This week looks to be sunny and bright all week with a little bit of clouds towards the end but not a high chance of rain. So we should be good to go! Cloudy but no rain is what I like to see!


Last Monday evening we stopped by this young brotha named Trey. He had stopped us from inside of his car to talk to us a few weeks ago. We went in and sat down in his house and had an interesting convo. In fact, the Jehovah's Witnesses beat us to him by a couple of days so he already had some religious literature there with him. So we gave him even more before we left! He talked on and on about some weird stuff that he has going on. He believes in the law of attraction where if you look at yourself in a certain way then your body will do what you are imagining it. He said that he lost a lot of weight doing that and right now his teeth are in the process of straightening up! Seemed legit. However he seems to not have a very good attention so we shall see how it works out with him. We haven't been able to see him again so I am looking forward to seeing how a follow-up visit will go with him! However, the JW's beat us over there for a follow-up I'm sure. And he will probably show them the Book of Mormon and stuff. So looks like we have a classic JW vs. Mormon show down on our hands! Although we will only share what we believe and not get in a JW showdown with him. We'll have to keep it real. Should be interesting!

We had a ride in a sweet new mini-van! There is a young couple in our ward that fed us a few days ago on a night that it was raining. The other elders couldn't give us a ride home so we asked them for a ride. Sure enough, we got to hop into their SWEET mini-van. I felt like I was riding in a 23rd century spaceship! That unit had everything you could ever ask for in a vehicle! I huge GPS screen on the console, sweet front seat/console design, a mega-wide flip down tv screen, trash baskets, crazy back seat buttons/controls, middle seats that slide back and forth to create more room or less room, and anything else you could possibly imagine! Ugh..... I just want a mini-van so bad now! #DreamCar

I had what are called "Idaho Tacos" for the first time in my life! Sis McMunn made them for us for dinner and blew us Idaho boys away with something that we should have been so familiar with already. However, somehow me in all my Idahoaness had never had the term or meal Idaho Tacos revealed to me! So, imagine a taco, a regular delicious taco. But now, replace the tortilla or shell with a potato. Boom! There you are! An Idaho Taco!!!! You just cut the potato open, slice it up a little/much it a little, and throw on your taco toppings! I was a little skeptical at first, but it turned out to be wonderful! Y'all best be getting ready for some real Idaho food from Texas when I get home! Also on a food note, I almost divulged into some Ramen Noodles that were left in my cupboard by the previous missionary when I got here. I have yet to give in to the Ramen temptation in the last nearly 17 months, and I don't plan on eating them in the next 7 months. I want to be able to say that I served a full 2 year mission without eating Ramen a single time! So I held strong to my inner commitment and did not partake, even though I was suffering from some serious munchies and I had no food to munch on and Ramen sounded really good. I hope to be able to report that I didn't eat Ramen a single time when I get home! Be ready to ask so I can be accountable to you!


Church was pretty sweet yesterday. It was fast Sunday for us since we had stake conference last week so we had testimony meeting for sacrament. Testimony meeting is always beast here in Texas. It kinda weirds me out sometimes when I think about sitting in testimony meeting back home through lots of silence and lots of kids. Here you have one adult after another getting up to share their testimony with silence on rare occasions. You can literally go a whole meeting with having no more than like 10 seconds of silence. Plus, they have some way of keeping the kids down. I think they give them opportunities to do it in primary or something. And you don't get any long stories or nothing like that. People go up, bear sincere testimony about things they know to be true, and sit down and give the spotlight to the next person. Every once in a while you get a brief story, but nothing more than a minute or two and its usually concise and to the point! Its fantastic stuff! Its interesting how the culture of the church is just a little different down here. The church is still definitely the exact same thing, but it has a little different feel to it sometimes. I love it! I can't really put it all into words in an email, but you will hear it all some day.

After church we were about to head out the door when a Sister in the ward came running over and said that her son wanted to be there and stand in on his Aaronic Priesthood ordination! We don't know the family too well, even though they are super awesome. I have only been over to dinner twice at their place, but I guess we sometimes have a super positive influence on people when we have no idea we do! The kid had plenty of family there for his ordination as well, so it wasn't like he was stretching to get people to stand in. But it was touching to know that he desired to have us there! I was honored!

I finished the Book of Mormon yesterday after church! This time reading through it I highlighted all the mentions of deity. Everything from "God" to "he". It was an interesting study. At times I would be marking a something on every single like and others I would go pages with only highlighting a couple. Overall, what I realized was that the Lord was at the center of everything the entire time. There were times when he was obviously the direct center of everything (the times when I was highlighting a something on every line) and then there were times when he was indirectly the center of everything (those pages where he was hardly mentioned). I think those pages where he was not mentioned a whole lot are the ones we can learn the most from. Lately I have been realizing just how much of a hand the Lord has played in my life over the last 20.5 years and back into the pre-existence, and it took me a long time to realize that it was him and not just happenstance. The Lord does more indirectly in our lives than he does directly. We think, "Oh, the Lord did this....." far less than we should. But we just don't recognize how involved he really is with us. He literally does everything. And I could see instances in the Book of Mormon where prophets would hardly mention him because of the kind of text they were writing, but the Lord was at work regardless of the lack of mentioning him in text. Very interesting study. And it was sweet too. I knelt down after finishing it to ask once again for a reaffirming witness of the book, and as I was about to pop the question I could feel the Spirit blowing up inside of me and then when I popped the question the Spirit popped as well and it just felt real good. Real good indeed. That was easily the strongest answer to a prayer asking about the Book of Mormon I have ever had! Yes! It is true!!!!!!!

Well team, its time for me to close up on y'all. You mean the world to me! I thank the good Lord every day for such wonderful family, friends, and everyone else that I associate with! May you recognize more fully the hand of the Lord working in your lives this week and give him thanks for the many wonderful blessings he gives you every minute of every day!

God bless ya!

 Con Mucho Amor,

Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, March 7, 2016

Heatin' Up

March 7, 2016

Hello to the best people in the world! My wonderful family and friends! Y'all are truly the greatest bunch of people to know and love that a missionary in West Texas could ask for. Much love to ya!

Sooooo, this week was pretty sweet. Lots of pretty sweet stuff happened! But first off, I would like to make a mention of the gas prices around these parts. I don't know what the rest of y'all are paying, but gas was recently $1.39 throughout San Angelo! Not too bad for us gas consumers. However, those prices are quite unfortunate for the economy down here since the oil industry is what the economy runs off of. But, I don't have to worry about all that stuff so its whatevs.

This past week started off with a pretty sweet District Meeting. As a mission we are going back to the fundamentals and so now all of our training meetings are assigned one of the lessons from the 12 week training program for new missionaries. So as one who loves to make something out of district meetings, this was a little difficult for me doing my first DM on the "fundamentals". However, it was a wicked success. The lesson was on "the role of the holy ghost in conversion". So I tried to help everyone understand the role of the Holy Ghost in their conversion. I gave some time to sit in quiet and ponder the experiences in our lives that have been most influential in our conversion and the role the Holy Ghost played in those experiences. Holy cow. I started off slow, but by the end of the time I was jotting stuff down all over my paper that have been influential to my own conversion. And then when it was time to share, we had some tears flowing. Ugh, yes. I love it. It was sweet seeing my missionaries have such spiritual and emotional experiences. So fantastic! I was thankful for the experience for myself as well! I was brought very low thinking about my life and the experiences and events that have led to my own ongoing conversion and it made me recognize the hand of the Lord in my life throughout the last 20+ years! He really has been at work the entire time, even though I had no recognition of it!

We were able to have some really good experiences with people this week. Our good friend Sam is doing a fantastic job with his smoking! He is down to virtually nothing compared to where he was at when we started visiting with him! It is always wonderful to sit down with him because he feeds off of our presence and it is always humbling to know that my presence alone is a great strength to him! He is wonderful.

And then our good friend Bobby who is a member but less-active is down to an average of one cigarette a day which is a huge improvement as well compared to where he was at not long ago! We have been teaching him some short missionary lessons to get some practice and he just sits there and feels the spirit so strongly even with the simplest message! He is fantastic as well!

We also had a good week with Andrew! He had hit a downward slippery slope a couple weeks ago, but we did our best to get him back on the right track, and he had been doing awesome since then! We went over on Friday night and he wasn't feeling very well at all. He even had to go puke about 10 minutes in to our visit. Plus, his young son was there, and the TV was on keeping his son’s attention. So there were just tons of distractions. It just felt off. So after he went and puked, we administered the priesthood through a blessing and left him to rest. Even after giving the blessing it just felt like a visit filled with commotion. However, he texted us the next day saying that he felt a ton better and was able to enjoy his weekend with him son! He said that it was a big testimony builder for him and that he is ready to move forward more! Yes! Solid stuff right there!

We also have been meeting with a returning less-active named Casey. Casey was baptized about 5 years ago or so but fell off pretty hard and fell back into some addictions and stuff. He had a court trial the day we met and he got ok news, however when we all sat down he started to cry and expressed how he didn't feel worthy of being loved. Not by God, by his family, by us, etc. Wow. That was definitely a moment where you just pray that the good Lord will pull it all together for you. After sharing some of my favorite scriptures and discussing some more, he walked out of there with a bit of a smile on his face. Heart pincher right there. Then I saw him yesterday at church and he seemed to be doing wonderful! Helping light come into people and seeing the change in someone in such short amount of time is the most wonderful thing in the world!

On a down note, the sweet family we taught more than a week ago went down the poop-shoot. We went to our appointment on Monday night and found a letter on the door from them saying that they discussed our last visit for a long time and decided that we should disregard all future visits....... and also left all three Book of Mormons next to the door in a box. It was very nicely worded and they thanked us for our visit, but it was just weird. We had such a killer first lesson, and then it just went from mountain high to valley low in just a couple days. However, we did all that we could and did our job, so there is nothing to be upset at besides the blessing of eternal life for them. But I can't be mad at myself or our companionship because we did our job!

We were out knocking a few doors on a street we never get over to the other day right before we were about to head in for dinner, when a sweet black dude walked across the street and after a few lines of conversing invited us to come play some hoops with him at the park with three covered basketball courts! Haha it was sweet! At first it was just us, then another dude joined and we started to play some 21, and then a few more people showed up so we had a pretty good game going before we left! And just for the record, I was wrecking all of them. I had 14ish points before I left and I think the closest person had about 6 or so, if that. Apparently they get a pretty good game going pretty much every night over there, so we are planning on going one evening this coming week and hooping it up with them! They are sweet dudes! They were super nice and fun fellas. Hopefully we can teach them the gospel eventually!

We also had quite the Stake Conference experience this weekend. Holy cow. We drove up to Abilene on Saturday for the stake leadership meeting at 3:00. They invited all the missionaries and asked President Heap to provide the majority of the training. Holy cow. He went hard. He instructed on the doctrinal purpose of missionary work, which is a pretty regular, "heard it before" topic. But he tore it up and I got so jacked to share the gospel with people! He is just a master teacher and can say the same basic things as someone else but the way he presents it just really hits home and he knows how to make it actually get into you. After that meeting we had a meal provided by the stake, and then we had the adult session at 6:00. After the adult session we left and stayed the night with some elders in Abilene.

And then the next morning we had the general session at 10:00 in Abilene, then flew back to San Angelo for the San Angelo session at 2:00! Holy cow! So much stake conference in two days! Wiped me out! However it was wonderful to see a number of people from Sweetwater! I forgot how wonderful the members in Sweetwater are! And my highlight was seeing my good friend Dianne! She was so happy to see me and I was just as excited to see her! She is the greatest! Some of them had to look at me for a second to recognize me however! I don't wear my glasses much anymore and my hair is a lot different and my suit makes me look different as well. I miss that place!

Speaking of stake conference and President Heap, he gave a pretty sweet talk about the language of prayer. Once again, "heard that before". But no, you haven't heard it from him before. He emphasized the usage of the word "might" among others. His whole point was "words matter" and how we use words that restrict us from blessings because God respects our agency, and he can only bless us according to what we say in our prayers. The first time I heard the talk I thought it was a bit critical, but then the second time (in San Angelo) it was just sweet and made perfect sense. He backed it all up with revealed prayer in the scriptures and also prayer from prophets in this dispensation. You couldn't make the argument that it was critical at all because he backed it up so well! He read the entirety of Gordon B. Hinckley's prayer he gave as part of his address in the October 2001 general conference, which was a month after 9/11. Go and check it out and take a look at how it was a "prayer of faith"! I have already had a huge change in my prayers after hearing his talk (twice) and only after one night and one morning! I find myself praying with much more faith by just changing the use of my words!

Anyway, I need to get going! Y'all are the best! Much love goes out to you wherever you may be as we continue in our discipleship! Have a blessed week!

God bless ya!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Reed Ericson