May 16, 2016
Well hello my good friends! It is once again wonderful to write y'all and talk about my adventures down here in West Texas! This past week was very busy but nonetheless a fulfilling week of serving the Lord!
The week started off with basically the easiest transfer day ever for us. Thank heavens! Usually transfer day is hectic and long with tons of crazy confusion and stuff, and usually takes us well into the evening until we are relieved of managing it all. However, showed up to the church at like 9:00 and were out of there at 3:00 with not too much to worry about! I pretty much hung around all day at the church with different people just waiting for a car or two to show up and get the incoming missionaries sent back off. Good times. Elder Lund had to take a nice trip to Big Spring and back, but I basically just sat around. It was actually rather relaxing. Not too often do you get time like that as a missionary!
Along with transfers, they closed down two of the areas here in Abilene, which takes us down to only 6 companionships including us! So we have the privilege of going through the apartments closing. Holy cow! Greatest thing ever! We've found so much sweet stuff! The first time going through one of the apartments we filled the back seat with sweet stuff to take home for ourselves! And we haven't even gone through the other apartment yet so I am thoroughly looking forward to scoring some sweet items from that place. You can just find the most random stuff in missionary apartments. Its so weird. But so fun. We brought home Play-Do, sweet sweaters, some good treats, some jammin' cd's, and that’s just to name a few. We haven't even brought the comfy recliner chair home yet. That will most definitely be a nice addition to the two couches and recliner that we already have!
We had the privilege of going up to Lubbock for Mission Leadership Council on Friday! It was legit. President Heap is absolutely amazing! He spent a good while instructing us about "principles". You always think about missionaries and all of the "rules" that we have. Its true, we do have a lot of things that the Lord asks us to do as missionaries. However, President made it very clear that we do not and will never have a single "rule" (as far as spiritual matters are concerned... still thinking about the temporal matters though) either on our missions or at home. Not one single rule. The Lord will never give any rules to govern us. He only gives us principles to live by and lets us govern ourselves. Rules don't allow us to govern ourselves, don't leave room for us to follow the spirit, and put up parameters for our progression. You put yourself in a box when you follow rules, and there is no progression outside of that box. Ultimately, this allows us missionaries and followers of Christ to truly learn to follow Christ. It leaves us more room to make decisions based upon our spiritual knowledge and what the spirit teaches us, and to learn spiritually and not carnally. That is what President Heap's mission is about. Helping us learn to govern ourselves and become converted. Not for us to convert other people, but to convert us. A member of the first quorum of the 70, Elder Foster, told a stake president in Lubbock that the Texas Lubbock Mission has the lowest rate of missionaries going home early out of all 20 missions in the North America Southwest area. And that's because he teaches us the principles of things, and lets us govern ourselves. That usually leads to missionaries often times going through times of waywardness because they don't yet understand the principles of the gospel. However, through experience they always learn the principles and are more converted should they have been following rules the whole time. President Heap said that if we had 1000 convert baptisms this year (which we only had 200 something last year), and he lost 5 of us nearly 200 missionaries to inactivity after our missions, the 1000 convert baptism don't mean a thing to him. Anyway, that was just a nice long babble about principles and how amazing President Heap is. And the thing is too, that he taught it all from the scriptures and from teachings of modern day prophets. Just like he always does! The rest of MLC though was sweet. Nothing you non-missionaries care about because it has to do with functionings of our mission, but it was sweet too. Plus, it is always super good to be around a bunch of really good missionaries! Definitely boosts you up!
We met a sweet brothah in the 'hood this week named Sir Jason. Yes, you can't forget the "Sir" hahaha! His dad thinks that he is royalty or something so he called his son Sir Jason instead of just Jason. Def not royalty, unfortunately. I was pretty sure I had come across Sir Jason and some of his friends on exchanges with a different missionary the previous week, but they just stared at us and didn't respond to my trying to be nice, so we kept walking. But, this time around, he was just sitting by himself, so I decided to give him a second chance. Oh boy, that was the greatest decision of my life. Hahaha Sir Jason was SWEET! I asked him, "How are you doing, brother!" and he popped right off his bumm and told us to ask him stuff about Jesus. What made this character so funny is his use of the word "smooth". Hahaha he would say "Oh bro, thats smooth some real stuff right there, man!" and of course the "I'm smooth gonna go smoke all sorts of weed"! We actually had a really good conversation about some pretty deep Plan of Salvation doctrine that really hit him good and made him think. He was actually a really good thinker and had a nice layer of spiritualness to him. However, we went back yesterday and he said that he threw the pamphlet we gave him away and doesn't really care to learn anything. So that was sad. We couldn't do much to save it. However, he was a little sick yesterday, so I said, "Dang you're smooth sick today today?" and he responded, "No bro, I'm straight sick. You just can't be smooth sick." hahaha Sir Jason! I'm telling ya, this guy is something else! Good times. I love the people we meet all the time! They keep life interesting.
As for the rest of the work. We have actually been able to teach this guy named Mark a few times. He is super legit. Dang solid. He has been praying to find truth and he soaks up everything we teach him! The only problem is that we have very slim margins of time to meet with him during his day because of his work schedule, but we're making it work out! We are looking forward to hopefully getting him a baptismal date this week to get him moving along more! We also have been keeping up with Nick who was baptized when I first got here! He is doing super well! Their family has had a lot of road bumps since he's been baptized but they have been hanging on strong through the whole thing and it has only built them stronger! He and his wife (returning less-active) have their eyes set on the temple! Nick has changed so much through his conversion process! It is such a joy to watch! Other than them, we don't have too much going forward right now. We have gotten some new investigators lately, but it seems to be difficult to teach them a second and third time. So we just gotta keep working hard!
Well my good friends, I love y'all and pray for y'all every day! May the good Lord bless you as you continue to press forward in faith! His grace is sufficient!
God bless ya!
Elder Reed Ericson