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