Monday, July 25, 2016

It Strikes Again!


July 25, 2016

Hello my good friends and family! It was another good week down here in Abilene, TX! We have a lot of good work going on and its been pretty fun! I guess I'll start off by giving you a weather update. It hasn't been raining at all lately so the humidity is going way down and everything is starting to dry up. It has been quite nice. However, the green landscape is starting to turn into a brown landscape in some aspects. Yay.

 
I will hit the subject of my email first, I guess. Remember how we baptized Larry Garcia in Sweetwater and later learned that he was a member of the church? And remember like 4 or 5 weeks ago when I mentioned that lady that we taught two times, invited to be baptized, and then learned that she was already a member? Well, it stuck again! Twice in one transfer! We have met a couple times with a lady named Tiffany, who is an inactive member that we found on the street, and her supposed non-member husband, Don. Well, we went over on Wednesday evening and as we sat down Don says, "Before we start, let me tell you this. If you go to the church in Midland, you'll find my records there. I was baptized back in probably about 1994 or so in Midland!" Well, his wife was absolutely floored along with us! They have been married for 5 years and a couple of those years she was fairly active in the church. However, after he was baptized he fell away and went through some pretty serious alcohol abuse and such for a number of years. So he said that after talking to us and talking about baptism he was sitting in his truck (he's a truck driver) and started to recall his baptism! Oh man, it was classic. His wife said, "You'd think that's something you would tell your wife!" Hahaha he had no recollection of it until the other day! Classic. So, throw baptism out the window, time to focus on the temple!

 
Btw... I feel no bueno right now. I got sick yesterday afternoon. It was one of those feel fine one minute and you’re in bed an hour later after throwing up things. So I am a little bit loopy right now. I may have to keep this a little short.
 

Yesterday we sang in sacrament meeting in our ward. Us and the 3 sister missionaries! It was quite the experience. We sang "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul". I was planning on just standing on the end and singing softly, however Elder Moschetti was singing the tenor part at one point of the song and it was messing me up apparently because I couldn't hear the others sing. So, I had to stand closer to the microphone than I desired. However, everybody apparently thought it was dang good. We were getting compliments all throughout church about it. I just had to keep telling people, "That was the first and the last time I will ever sing in sacrament meeting!" Which is the darn straight truth. I will not let myself be allowed to be volunteered to sing in such a meeting ever again.

 
Funny story, we met two people on one street that didn't believe in God! We knocked into an atheist and an agnostic within a few minutes of each other! It was an experience unheard of in West Texas!

 
Well, as far as the work goes, its going well! We currently have two baptismal dates (hopefully they don't turn out to be members, too) and a nice pool of people to teach! We have been raking in tons of less-active/recent convert lessons as well. In fact, that has probably been our most successful area of work this transfer! I realized the other day that the Lord blessed us this month with miles so that we can get around everywhere we need to! We have 1600 miles a month and when you throw in a 360 mile round trip to Lubbock and a possible second trip, plus a 200 or so mile trip for transfers... we are left with basically nothing. However this month we didn't have any long trip! So we have been blessed with a lot more freedom in our planning and our ability to get things going around here. However, next month could be difficult for miles, so we shall see how that goes if I'm still here.
 

Alrighty, I'm done trying to use my brain. I'm super tired and hungry. I hope y'all have a blessed week! May the Lord be with us as we strive to follow him!

 
God bless ya!

Loves,
Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Good Lord's Pullin' Through

July 18, 2016
 
Hello my wonderful friends and family! It has been a fantastic last week or so here in Abilene, TX! And, on top of a good week, it has been relatively decent weather! And by decent weather I mean we have had weather in the low-mid 90's along with humidity that is lower than it was a number of weeks ago! It hasn't been raining too much so its starting to dry out a little! In fact Saturday morning we were talking to some peeps outside and I wasn't even sweating! However, I am usually sweating a decent amount... but it ain't as bad as the near 110 degree weather that most of our mission suffered through the past week or two.

To start off our week we went out to the homeland, Sweetwater, to attend district meeting there! Always good times driving through that place. It seems like a dream when I think back to those days. After the meeting we decided to go out to the one and only Blackland Smokehouse. As we were deciding where to go, I bore powerful testimony of the place, and promised many blessing for the other missionaries who would partake. However, they all ordered weird stuff that didn't live up to the promises I made. Plus, even on my part who spent more money than I should have on 1.3 pounds of meat, I was very disappointed in their brisket. They fell short. Usually that stuff is a party in your mouth every bite you take, but it wasn't as tender and flavorful as it usually it! So, that was disappointing. Better luck next time.

I went on two different exchanges this past week. One was with Elder Newberry who is serving out in Sweetwater (I brought him into my area) and the other was with Elder Major who is one of the assistants. The assistants gave us a choice of doing exchanges in either their area or our area, and apparently we were the only companionship that chose our area! Kinda weird. It was really good though! I think it was good though to have them here. It made out exchange about us and our area and we were able to get more out of the exchange we feel! With Elder Major we were able to do some good finding and teaching, and were able to discuss many things about the work we are doing in our area and it helped a lot! He's a good guy. Elder Newberry and I had a good exchange. We were able to do some service and even got in a couple less-active lessons which allowed us to have some good teaching opportunities. However, I don't think I conducted a very good exchange. I learned a lot about how to do some things better and needing to adapt things to the missionary I am with. I always enjoy exchanges though! It is always good to work with someone else and to be able to teach and learn in a different way than usual. Its good stuff.

Yesterday was pretty sweet. We went to our ward for sacrament meeting and half of sunday school before jetting off to the YSA building. It was high councilman Sunday and the high councilman didn't have anybody to speak with him. So Elder Despain (senior couple who are CES institute missionaries, also serve in YSA) called and asked if I could speak and if Elder Moschetti could sing. You bet we will! I was told the assignment was speaking on "Choices" by President Monson, but as I sat in our wards meeting I soon realized that it was no longer the subject when the high councilor talked about testimonies and testimony meeting. Well, I showed up to YSA and just gave my quick talk on choices. It was real good stuff. I thought I was going to be sharing the topic with the other guy so I made sure to not talk too much about what Presidetn Monson said and prepared some other stuff about choices. I talked about the choice that we made in the pre-earth life to follow Christ, and the things that we were taught and knew at the time the led us to make that decision. And I then taught those same things very simply in relation to us learning them here on earth, and how they enable us to make the CHOICE to follow Christ. I talked about the knowledge of where we want to go (Celestial Kingdom), what we would have to go through to get there (opposition, natural man, etc) and the gospel plan that enables us to overcome that. I learned a lot actually thinking about it! And then I slapped down a few quotes at the end about the importance of our choices and blessing the lives of others and said "amen". I can honestly say that I quite enjoy speaking at church. I would take that over an instruction at a zone training any day! And then after my talk Elder Moschetti sang "Come Thou Fount" with Sister Despain accompanying him. Which for those of you who don't know, that is Elder Ericson's fave song ever. And it was a beautiful performance. Good meeting. Oh yeah, I got volunteered by the sister missionaries in out ward to sing in sacrament meeting next week along with the three of them and Elder Moschetti. I'm planning on singing very quietly on the side. I don't like getting volunteered for garbage like that! No sir!
Also yesterday we went and ate with the Elder & Sister Despain for the second time in the past week or two. Might I say that they are basically my favorite people ever! Such wonderful spirits, great goofy humor, and such great examples to look up to! I am very blessed to be able to serve around them here in Abilene!

The Lord sure blessed us this week with people to teach! I taught more lessons this week than I have ever in a week on my mission! I dare not say how many we taught (if you want to know you can ask me, but I don't want it to be about the number and don't want it compared to other missions). However, we were able to find a lot of success in less-active and recent convert lessons. We were able to get in with a lot of people and had some good impacts made! And we also found a handful of people who have been prepared by the Lord for us to meet! I think we ran across four new investigators (which hasn't happened around here in quite some time) and had some really good experiences with them. I will relate a few experiences briefly. Well, a month or so ago we ran into a less-active lady outside who wasn't on the records or anything. Well, we randomly stopped by one night and we visited with her and her non-member husband for a bit. I thought her husband was just going to peace out, but stayed and ended up talking more than any of us! And then before we left his wife asked if we could come by to teach him, and he was all for it. So we went over again on Saturday morning and had a good talk with him. We didn't get to the actual "lesson" part as we had planned to teach the restoration, but we set everything up perfectly for the next visit and he is even good to be baptized once we answer some questions which are very answerable! We also had two knock-ins. We were let in by two different people that we just knocked into and had some good lessons! So things are looking like they're going upward!

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I best be closing up here. I love y'all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I surely feel it all! Keep on fighting the good fight!

God bless ya!

Mucho amor,
Elder Reed Ericson
 
 
Elder Reed is 3rd from Right...
 
 
 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Temple!!!

July 11, 2016

Well hello there my good friends and family! This past week was a good one! It seemed very short, however. Feels like we hardly worked! And I feel like there isn't much to write about, so my apologies...

The highlight of the week was going to the temple on Saturday! There was a girl from Odessa who Elder Moschetti taught for a long time and that I knew well that was getting endowed prior to leaving on her mission next week, so we went up for that! We had some saintly members that volunteered to drive us up there, despite not being able to attend with us (recent convert... not endowed yet). God bless them! The session was packed with tons of missionaries! She has gotten to know just about every missionary to go through Odessa in the past year so there was a lot of us that attended! I think there were 13 elders and a former missionary (all elders because Odessa was "Brodessa" for a while... it has a set of sisters now though). Also, I saw people from like all of my old areas there as well! I saw the branch president from Sweetwater in the dressing room, I saw the bishop of Frenship Mesa outside the temple, I saw some members from my ward in Odessa who were there unattached to the sister going through, and there were two couples from San Angelo that were in our session as well! Fun stuff! Plus, I had 3 former companions and my current companion there among others that I have served around in my districts! So it was just a lot of love to be had! It was wonderful to see Sis Downey go through the temple though! It is amazing to see people's lives change so much because of the gospel! Seeing someone go through the temple after being converted to the truth is so amazing to see. Definitely makes you know that there are people out there who are in need of great blessings in store. 

Lets see here, we were able to go on some exchanges on Wednesday/Thursday. I had the privilege of going with my boy Elder VanWeerd! That kid is just the most wonderful kid ever! We had a good time. I learned a lot from the exchange! Not things that I thought I was going to learn in any way, but there was learning nonetheless! Elder VanWeerd is good at talking so I was able to learn a lot of things from stuff he talked about. Haha I love that guy! He will forever be a classic missionary friend! Well, I thought I was going to have more to say than just that about the exchange but my words are running dry. 

As far as the work went this past week we didn't have tons of fruit. We had a part-member family feed us and the wife (member) had high hopes that her husband was ready to take the lessons and stuff. But that didn't work out like we planned. Just not the right time, yet. Sweet family, though! Very much so enjoyed being at their house. We had a less-active guy in the ward refer himself online requesting some missionary visits, so we have visited with him a couple times and its been super! His name is Casey. He got baptized probably about 5 or so years ago and didn't stay active for very long at all before he stopped coming to church. His wife is very against the church as a southern baptist so there were some issues there that caused things to go downhill. However, he wants to come back! So we've had a couple good visits with him at the church and he was even able to come to sacrament meeting yesterday after dropping his wife off at her church! So he is committed to coming back! We also have a couple that moved down here to the ward from Lubbock. They are recent converts of a little over a year. They moved down here probably nearly 2 months ago but haven't been to church. However, we finally found their house and visited them and they asked us to commit them to come to church! So we did, and they came yesterday, finally! They are some of the most legit people of all time! So wonderful. They even moved out of Lubbock to Slaton (small town outside of Lubbock in a Lubbock ward) to help with the missionary work out there. However, they moved, and projects came upon them with their house and stuff, plus work, so they "got lazy" and haven't come to church. And guess what the sunday school lesson was yesterday..... keeping the sabbath day holy! And they are also looking to get endowed and sealed soon, and guess what the priesthood lesson was on.... the temple! Its interesting how things work out sometimes! So they are well on their way to the temple now!

As for investigators, we pretty much are starting to run dry. We have this one guy named Sunny, who I have talked about briefly in the previous months. But we were able to get in and teach him again after not teaching him for like a month. It went superb. He talked about how he felt like how we teach the gospel is the right way and that what we teach is the truth. Rock on, sir. Rock on. So we committed him to be baptized on the 6th of August! However, there seems to be a lack of accountability there. Appointments seem to fall through every time, leading to weeks of not teaching him. And he already basically punched our appointment for yesterday morning right after a really good lesson two night before. So, we may have to have a what I like to call "Mom talk" with him! LOL. I love those things. So much fun!

Anyway, thats about all I got for y'all this week! Life is good down here in Abilene, TX! I am surely enjoying myself down here. Working hard and learning lots! I hope y'all have a wonderful week full of wonderful blessings from the good Lord himself! May we strive diligently to fulfill his purpose for each of us!

God bless ya!

Much love,
Elder Reed Ericson
 
 
                                               Elder Reed is back row - third from right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

God Bless America


July 5, 2016

Well hello my good friends and family! Always a joy to be able to write to you each week! This past week + a day has been pretty eventful. Well, eventful enough, I guess. But nevertheless a wonderful week of missionary life!

 
To start off, I guess the highlight of this past week was zone conference on Thursday here in Abilene! It is always wonderful to be gathered together with a bunch of missionaries for some good instruction. One of the assistants gave a brief instruction on "The Miracle of the Book of Mormon" in which we covered the miracle of how it was brought forth. And then Pres Heap threw down a sweet instruction about the Book of Mormon titled "Unveiling the Book of Mormon". Basically the best thing I've ever heard about the Book of Mormon. We took a look at the first two books (1 Nephi & 2 Nephi) and how they are basically the greatest things ever. There was so much there that its hard to even write out what he taught about. Basically about how the story of Lehi is the story of every investigator we ever have, how the first book of Nephi is about how God reveals things to man and about how he still speaks today, how the vision of the tree of life is perfectly amazing, how the first book of Nephi is all in preparation for the doctrinal discourses in the second book of Nephi that help us understand life, why we have all those Isaiah chapters in there, and a bunch of other stuff that was just pretty darn intense. Oh man. Its so true! From my experience reading the Book of Mormon lately I have just found that it teaches so many different things. In fact, it teaches EVERYTHING. Every single little principle or doctrine of the fullness of the gospel is found in there! Its incredible how it all works together. And to say that a man with a 3rd grade education wrote that... come on. Lets be for real, here. NO. WAY.


Anyway, I also instructed at zone conference. It was interesting. I actually had some pretty good stuff I wanted to cover about working with members. However, I was asked to invite a member to come and share their expectations of the full-time missionaries in helping them with their missionary work. Well, I had to reach out to a different ward to find a good member to invite, and I thought it was going to be solid. But apparently I didn't make it as clear as I should have what I expected from her. So, I had 30 minutes to instruct and she took about 15 minutes after I had already gone about 10 minutes. So, I had to fly through all my good stuff that I really wanted to emphasize and wasn't able to really hit anything home that I wanted to. Plus, I had to cut out a couple things, including the role play, and I still went 10 minutes over. Yikes. But, they said that I did well under the circumstances. Apparently most of the member invites for the other missionaries instructing at the other zone conferences made things interesting as well. So I wasn't alone! Also, get this. We had one of the best zone conference meals I have ever had... we had some really good Filipino food! However, it didn't exactly go along with the American theme that they had going on with the table pieces. But hey, go America, and go Filipino food!

 

We also had zone training yesterday just a few days after zone conference. We decided it would be a good way of getting the missionaries off the streets annoying people on a national holiday. That went a lot better. I thought that I was done crying as an instructor, I have stayed dry for quite some time now. But NOPE. There Elder Ericson was with tears running out of his eyes in the last minutes of his instruction. Darnit! But hey, I love my missionaries! After zone training we had a party of minor proportions. Elder Moschetti and I went and bought some hamburgers and hot dogs and stuff to go with in the morning. So after our meeting we let people make their own burgers (we brought quite the plethora of seasonings) and just had a good time. We also played Phase 10 for a while after eating, and I did miserably. Ugh, so frustrating. There just isn't much you can do sometimes with that game besides have faith that your going to get the card you need. And I lost my faith over the course of a couple rounds and I was toast after that! So that was a failure. But it was a wonderful time being with all of the elders and sisters in the zone! I left the church last night with a heart full of love and appreciation for being able to serve with them!

 

We got a nutso media referral a couple days ago. hahaha this lady was CRAZY!!! We got a text with all of her information and whatnot so I gave her a buzz, and I will just say that most of the conversation was her talking about who knows what with the phone on mute on our side! I tried early on to just cut in and say goodbye and hang up, but this lady literally just talked right over me like I didn't say a word. So finally I just put the phone on mute and let her talk for like 10 minutes, then she basically said goodbye, but before we could finalize that our conversation was over she went off for another 10 minutes with the phone on mute! Good times! She was a weirdo. Very odd lady. We sent her info on over to the missionaries who actually cover where she lives, and apparently they had already gotten her information and had visited them the day before. They said that she talked for a solid 45 minutes straight and didn't even care about them butting in. So finally the elders and the other dude that is related to the lady just started talking together and ignoring her.... and she eventually got up and left! Hahaha! Good stuff!

 

We were able to have a lot of less-active/recent convert lessons this past week! We even met a random lady who is a member of the church while out finding. We had a good chat for 10 minutes or so. She is a convert from Utah somewhere down near Richfield, and had a daughter murdered by her boyfriend a few years back that pretty much knocked the faith out of her. Real sad story actually. But, this lady had a lot of light about her even though she mentioned that she still struggles with PTSD and other things that take a mental toll. However, she knows its time to come back to church so that she can get some more help with the spiritual side of things. Very wonderful lady. I quite like her. We also had another less-active refer himself out of the blue requesting a missionary visit. He was baptized like 4 or 5 years ago or so and fell off after not too long. And he wants to get back into coming to church despite his wife being very anti him doing that. But we met him at the church about an hour after we called him and had a nice visit and little lesson! We also met again with that lady named Erica who we taught as an investigator before finding out she was a member when we invited her to be baptized. She was having a very rough day when we had our appointment so our lesson plan went bye bye in a hurry and we spent a few minutes trying to help her out a little and then left her with something to read to hopefully lift her spirits! Also, there is a recent convert in the ward that recently moved from the sisters area to our area. His name is Prince and he is an African refugee. But holy cow, what a man of great faith! He has a lot of struggles in life, but he just puts his faith in God! He lost his wife a couple years back to some sort of sickness (they were already in America) and struggles taking care of his two daughters still at home and working a lot making not a ton of money. But man oh man does he have faith! After our closing prayer last week after our visit with him last week I just wanted to give the man a hug, so I got up and gave him a big hug! Great man! Those are just to name a few people who we worked with last week! Still trying to get some actual investigators who make it past more than a lesson or two, but it'll come!

 
Anyway, I have a few more things I could talk about, but I need to close this up! I love y'all! I hope you had a wonderful Independence Day and pray that you receive the grace necessary to go about doing good this week!

 
God bless ya!

Much love,
Elder Reed Ericson

Friday, July 1, 2016

"Do you want to go to Hell?"


June 27, 2016


Heeeellllloooooo my good friends! It has been a very busy last week down here in Abilene, TX. Very busy indeed. Definitely lots to keep my mind occupied.



Well to start of I will tell you why this email is titled the way it is so that you don't have to worry about me chastising you the whole time you read this. It ain't about you, its just a funny story. Well, Elder Moschetti and I were walking down the street on like Wednesdayish, and the phone rang with President Heap on the other end. So I answer normally, "Hello, this is Elder Ericson!"

President Heap: "Hello son, this is President Heap! How are you doing?"

Elder Ericson: "I'm doing well, President. I'm pretty warm right now, but nonetheless doing well!"

President Heap: "Well, let me ask you something... do you want to go to Hell?"

Elder Ericson: "No sir! I do not desire to go to Hell!"

President Heap: "Well son, let this be a lesson for you for the rest of your life. Its a lot hotter in Hell than in Abilene, TX! You don't want to live with that for eternity do you?"

He then went on for another few sentences, but I was too busy laughing to catch his words. Good stuff. President Heap always has something like that up his sleeve! Nobody is better than good ol' President Heap!



Anyway, he was calling us about a call he received from a lady in Phoenix about her non-member friend who lives in Baird (20 miles east of Abilene) whose house flooded and needs some work getting stuff cleaned out. So we went out on Thursday and got some work done. The house flooded a month ago, but no clean up company/organization would come to help. In order for this one company to come do work there needed to be at least 10 houses that got at least 18 inches of water. However her house and one other house were the only ones to get 18 inches. So they didn't receive any help. Her husband is gone for work most of the time, and she has lupus, and a special needs daughter. So their ability to do the work themselves is limited. The city did bring her a big dumpster to throw stuff out in, and they only have it until today, so time was limited. It seems like some others have come to do some work already, but she needed some more help! So we went out and took out a section of fence, and then worked on tearing out some vinyl flooring for a couple hours. Also, this house seems to have been a smoker house for years and years and years. So needless to say our truck still has a nice aroma to it after driving home in our nastiness. It was some good service though. We only got a portion of the vinyl flooring up so we were going to go back out on Saturday to try to get more flooring up, but she said that her uncle or someone like that said that he can get a vinyl floor remover thing that will make it so they can just pull it right up. Well then, I'm glad we spent 2+ hours on the floor trying to get that stuff up when it could have been that easy! Its alright though, we did some good work for them! We did a lot of other service this past week as well. Since we had some other stuff going on we only set a goal for 6 hours. But then things just happened and we ended up with 10 hours with just Wednesday and Thursday! So that pretty much took up most of our work time.



We did have an interesting lesson however. We taught a lady named Erica and her daughter Victoria on Tuesday evening. That went well. Good stuff. We then set an appointment for Thursday night. So we went and we taught. At the end of the lesson we extended a baptismal invitation, and then it was our privilege to hear that she was baptized into our church quite some time ago up near Lubbock.......... I got a pretty good kick out of that one! We had a member with us and he found great joy in that experience! Hey, at least she mentioned it before she got baptized, unlike my good friend Larry from Sweetwater! We're still legends for baptizing him for the second time. And I'm quite proud of it! We for sure followed the spirit telling us to baptize him!



We had a pretty legit MLC on Friday. We had all the district leaders there as well, which was fun! MLC is always fun to get to see a lot of friends! Especially when the district leaders come! I saw tons of former companions and others that I have served around and are good buddies with! I have been blessed to serve with some amazing people! I am definitely thankful to be called to the Texas Lubbock Mission for many reasons, and all the missionaries that I have grown to be friends with is one of them. A lot of the training was very mission leadership oriented, so nothing you'd care about. However the last instruction of the day was from President Heap, and it was titled on the agenda as "Doctrinal Presentation". Holy cow. When you see that with President Heap's name by it you have a cow. Insane stuff is about to happen. He did an instruction of the scattering and gathering of Israel, but he kept it to his allotted time of 30 minutes. So he just gave us the brief outline of the happenings, but it was still pretty sweet, and then gave us a print out of his slides and told us to study the rest ourselves to learn more. I wish he could have had an hour or so, that would have been mind-blowing stuff. But it was still interesting some of the stuff he talked about as part of it all! It was a good day!



Everything is going well down here. We have a lot of good plans and such for this week to hopefully get things going around here. Elder Moschetti has come in with a lot of new ideas to use and hopefully things will work out for us! Just gotta keep on fighting the good fight and do the work of the Lord in the Lord's way! This coming week we will have Zone Conference here in Abilene, and I have been asked to instruct again. Two zone conferences in a row. I don't like this. But hopefully I'll be able to do some good training on working with members, which I have been assigned to instruct on! Definitely something we are trying to improve down here to help the work!



Well, that'll be it for me this week! I love y'all and pray that y'all have a wonderful week and a blessed Independence Day! God Bless America!!!!



God bless ya!



Much love,

Elder Reed Ericson