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