April 18, 2016
Well hello there my good friends! I got some good stuff to talk about... well... kinda... so I ain't gonna beat around the bush too much and get right into the goods!
So I will hit the subject of this email before I move on any further. Well well well, this guy got pulled over on Friday afternoon driving out of Lubbock on our way back to Abilene!!!!! So stupid!!!!!! So, our speedometer on our truck is off by 3-5ish mph when going high speeds, so everything is based off of what the GPS is telling us. ALSO, we got good ol' Elder Tiwi who barks at us whenever we hit 5 over. And in the trucks it is a consistent 5 over. Some cars don't bark until 7 or more but the truck is a consistently 5. So, I was rockin' cruise control at 78 (speed limit 75) and my friend Elder Tiwi hadn't barked at me a single time to slow down. So, when the police on the other side of the big freeway turned his light on from the side of the road and drove through the grassy/weedy middle median thing, I was thinking he was just doing some other sort of business despite being the only car in my general vicinity. Well, sure enough, I pulled over to the side of the freeway, and the police car pulled right up behind me!!! That dude hopped right out and came up to the window and told me that they clocked me going over 80!!!!! I was about to call "bull" and go on to prove him wrong and make him feel like a dingleberry because I have proof of not going over 80 with my good friend Elder Tiwi tracking everything I do behind the wheel, but he quickly said that he was just going to give me a warning. So, instead I played nice-guy and got off real well with him. But, the cool thing is here in Texas, that even though it was just a warning, he gave me a little "official warning" slip and had me sign it for their records and then one for myself. So I proudly have my official warning hanging on my wall now!!!! Take that officer! He was kind of a jerk. Real stern and asked questions and didn't let me respond. Not a fan of that guy. I will have to pray for more charity or something.
Another fun note for the week. I went through and counted the churches in the phone book for the Abilene area (which is Abilene of 100,000 and a few other small towns of 10,000 or far less) and I counted 300 churches!!! And that’s just the churches in the phone book. Literally it is common to be standing on the side of a street and clearly see 4 churches. Its nutso. This place is widely considered the "buckle of the Bible belt"! The term "there's a church on every street corner" is turned into "there's a church on every street corner, AND in the middle of the block"!
We had zone training on Tuesday, which was a first for me to conduct and instruct. It was a solid training. The fundamental for training was "teach people, not lessons" so we focused a lot on teaching skills. Pretty simple stuff, but I felt like all of our training and role playing was very beneficial and there was lots of good discussion about the skills that I think will be very applicable! I instructed on "how to begin teaching" and really focused on having impactful immediate impressions on people to open up more personal teaching later on. I have found that to be very important in working with people! And now after two straight weeks of instructing on a larger scale I will be taking a break of more than a month before I do it again. Which is nice. I love instructing and leading role-plays, but doing it all the time as a district leader kinda started to get boring to me. So, this is a nice change of scenery for me.
We were able to head up to Lubbock on Thursday morning for exchanges with the assistants all day and Friday morning! Holy cow! So much fun! We were there along with the Midland Zone Leaders so we split off into two trios to work. I went with Elder Stringham and one of the Midland elders!!!!! It was fun to relive the glory days. Although it was way different and not much reliving because there was a third one of us. But still fun. It was a crazy day. The assistants cover Texas Tech campus so we worked all day on campus! In the process we taught 4 lessons throughout the day, which I don't think I have ever done on my mission! It was fun to teach with Elder Stringham again, because we are both so much better than we were over a year ago! We had some fun lessons though! Super solid. However the biggest envy of working on Tech is the finding work. It so crazy and fun! You basically stand there or sit there in the open place right outside the library where tons of people are, and you just have to go for it! You literally just sit there, and when someone walks by who seems like a good target, you say, "How's it going?" "Good." "Hey could I ask you a question?" "Sure." "And then rip off a thought-provoking question that pops into your head and run with it! Its crazy! But so fun! I had a couple interesting conversations! We didn't get to go out and contact very much but the little time we did have was fun!
We did have a precious moment during one of our lessons. We were teaching these two hard core non-denom girls in the library when our discussion led to testimony of the Book of Mormon. They asked us how we received our answer to if the Book of Mormon was true. Elder Stringham went first, then they looked at me and said that I was next. I started off with talking about reading it before my mission but never really receiving a solid answer. Then I got to the time of my mission, and realized the situation at hand with Elder Stringham right there, and it hit me what was next in my story and it was time to start holding back tears. I will tell you the story that proceeded this moment.
Well, it was within my first few weeks on my mission, and we were teaching a stick-figure girl drawn on a piece of paper taped onto our couch. I was the one teaching about the Book of Mormon, and I said something about knowing that the teachings of the Book of Mormon were true but not so much all the little details. Elder Stringham and I had a nice little chat and he told me that we couldn't do anything for people unless I knew that every little thing in there was true. I remember him talking about knowing that there were elephants there and all. Well, over the next couple days I spent time thinking about it and praying about it, and one day I was reading in the Book of Mormon and it was just undeniable that everything in there was correct. And I remember the night when we laid in our beds super late talking about how our testimonies had grown so much on our missions, and I remember just bearing testimony time and time again about this and that, the Book of Mormon being one of them. Well, going back to our lesson, I had to share an abbreviated version of that with those two girls. I looked over at Elder Stringham a couple times and he wasn't crying, but his eyes were red and there was moisture in his eyes, and I had the same thing as well, but didn't cry. So, that was fun.
Anyway, I am starting to run low on time here. But, let me press on. We stopped in Sweetwater on our way home and worked with the elders there for a little more than an hour! It was fun to work in Sweetwater again! Still know that place like the back of my hand! However, I realized how much of a dump that place is. Definitely thankful to have served in cities since leaving there. I definitely like the cities better. However, still fun going back and serving there for even just an hour or so! It’s weird to think that I served there! It feels like me serving there was just a dream I had or something!
I do have another funny story about a dude we ran into yesterday who pretty much threw down on us. No time for the whole story. But he talked to us for like 5+ straight minutes about how Joseph Smith was this and that and how our doctrine is this and that. I was planning on kindly saying "Hey, thank you for strengthening my testimony of my faith" as I shook his hand to leave, but I'm pretty sure the Spirit bound my tongue in the moment because nothing came out. Definitely got bailed out by the spirit on that one! Haha I just left with a big smile on my face over his naiveté. If you only knew sir what you just said and how it contradicts everything you believe in..... people in Texas are fun! Great fun!
Anyway, I gotta jet! I love y'all and hope y'all have a blessed week! May the good Lord bless you as you go about sharing joy to the world!
God bless ya!Loves,
Elder Reed Ericson