Heeeelllllloooooooo everyone! First things first, I love y'all! This past week was something else. A lot of ups and downs, that's for sure. I'm usually not the roller coaster type of person, I'm usually just along for a pretty straight shooting fun ride, but the coaster has been rolling around in all sorts of twisties and loopies.
The beginning of the coaster was probably Wednesday when I had my last Zone Conference in the Texas Lubbock Mission. The conference was pretty good, in fact I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a lot of buds there and for sure felt inspired by it all. Plus, the food was dang good, so that's always a plus! However, along the high riding roller coaster of Zone Conference is the portion for departing testimonies of missionaries going home. You always think about giving your departing testimony as a missionary, and then all of a sudden it happens and it hits ya right across the face. President Heap instructed on some killer stuff right before a short break that was followed by testimonies. So as President Heap was wrapping up his instruction on "Words Mean Something" I knew the time was drawing closer. Then the break happened. So I got up and went wee-wee before returning to the chapel to sit there and wait. Well, we all gathered back together and the Elder conducting announced the departing testimonies, and when he announced my name I had the big twinge in my chest and almost lost it. But I kept it real. There was one sister missionary and then I was the first elder to go. So when the sister stood up and opened her mouth I nearly lost it again. But I kept it real. She said "amen" and sat down and I got myself up and walked up to the front of the chapel. I knew I was toast, I don't stand a chance of holding back tears for things like that. So I said, "For those of you that have been to my district meetings and zone trainings, you know that I cry. So bear with me!" And at that point the tears were coming. Long story short, I cried at the beginning but did surprisingly really well for the last half.
There is always a problem with departing testimonies being long mushy stories but all of us kept ours really short and bore testimony and didn't tell stories or give advice. There was some advice from a couple, but we all kept it short and real. So I stood up, shared my love, bore testimony about the things that matter most and a couple reasons I know them to be true, said "amen", and sat back down. One of the things that I mentioned a number of times as well was that "you" (referring to the missionaries) were one of the reasons that I knew those things to be true. I had 7 companions there (current and former) including my two mission sons, who are both prime examples of the grace of the Lord changing people. So that was a pleasure to have them intently looking into my eyes while I mentioned that I know the Savior lives because of what he's done for them. So anyway, there is my sob story for the day. There may be more, so it may be the first sob story of the day. But Zone Conference as a whole was pretty sweet. I have found that just being around President Heap is such a huge boost to life. Holy cow. I don't know what it is but just being in a meeting with him makes you feel good. He also instructed on his expectations of our missionary work. He apologized to his "young friends" for not having his expectations high enough regarding finding and baptizing. A mission presidents love + expectations drive the work, and he said that his love for us has never wavered, but he said that he has had to repent and raise his expectations and have more faith, which he said that he has developed and is still developing more and more. Dang, that was powerful. I wish I would be here for follow up zone conference on this one to see what he does to raise our own expectations.
Also during zone conference I got word of my first severe accident as the vehicle coordinator. So that's been great. Luckily the sisters are alright, however the car is totaled. And to make it worse, it was the sister missionaries fault. However the sister has been handling it like a champ and she has been super duper good at getting everything in that she needs to. I've gotten calls from church people, insurance people, and even law people that the church has hired to help her. And she has been doing everything and getting everything into all those people that she needs! So good on her! I had to send her a text yesterday thanking her for her good work! I thought she deserved it, plus, she could probably use all the boost she can get right now. Luckily I haven't had to do much for it at all. The insurance and law firm people have been working with her directly so I'm just chillin' as for now, however I have gotten a few calls about it from some people. It was kinda weird how it all worked out on our side as well. Missionaries are to call the vehicle coordinator and President Heap/Sister Heap immediately if they have an accident, however I was sitting in zone conference listening to someone talk when I heard my name from behind and looked back to see Pres Heap summoning me. He asked me if particular sisters had talked to me, and I said "no", and he said that they had gotten in a serious accident the previous night and that the car was totaled and all. Then he departed as he accepted a call from them, and then they called me an hour or two later. So it was a little frightening hearing about it from him like that. Luckily both the sisters weren't injured. The car can be replaced, but lives can't be!
Anyway, back to my roller coaster. Thursday was probably one of the hardest days I've had. We spent a ton of time getting moved into our own apartment, which we finally got after crashing with 4/5 elders for the last 5 weeks. It was sure fun, but we needed our own place! So we basically spent all of our day doing that aside from a little bit of time working in our assignments. But Thursday night I was having it rough. We spent a long time assembling my new desk (which is super legit by the way) and I just had time to think about life and I was losing my mind. I just felt totally lost as a missionary. I realized that I was stressed because I feel like I need to make things happen for myself personally asap before I'm out of time, but I just couldn't seem to find the time to do it. I just felt helpless in a sense. I felt like I hadn't fulfilled my potential because I hadn't had the opportunity to get out and work on it at all, and that I was just wasting away. It was terrible. I was straight about to call President Heap to get a boost. So Friday morning (yesterday) I decided I was going to get things straight during my study time, so I read my chapter out of the Book of Mormon as always, and then I went to Preach My Gospel ch. 1 "My Purpose". There is a section on what a successful missionary is, and there are a list of bullet points in there that help you know if you are successful. So I went through one by one and recorded how I have been successful in those ways, and I realized that I have been successful in many many ways! It helped a ton!
And then yesterday we were busy all day until our evening proselyting time, so I had my mind occupied, and then we were able to go out and make a couple visits before the night was over, and it just helped me get back on track! It felt good to just get back to missionary work! We talked to President about doing our full studies until 10 instead of being in the office at 9 and not having anything to do all day, and then also he recommended before I even asked that we should go out and work when we have slow days. And now that our apartment is settled we should be good to go and it will help me a ton! We have done full personal and companionship studies the last couple days, and now our apartment is for the most part settled (besides my dresser I still have to finish constructing) and so that's out of the way! So this coming week I should be rolling high! Even just after yesterday and then some good studies today I feel like a champ, so all is well.
Anyway, we had a good dinner and visit with the bishop the other day. That went well. Good guy. And then last night we visited a couple in the temple presidency and that was nice. Pres Curtis taught seminary and institute for like a million years so I asked him some Old Testament questions and shared a scripture that related to our conversation from the Old Testament. Its always fun sharing scriptures with people you know for a fact know the scriptures way way way better than you! I read from Joshua 3 and then he went on the talk about Joshua 4 and on. Good stuff. Our ward mission leader and our bishop want us to spend our little proselyting time trying to visit members in their homes and getting to know them. So sounds like thats what we'll be doing from now on!
Well team, I'm fixin' to get headed off this thing sometime soon. It has been a pleasure to address you this day! May the good Lord bless you throughout your week! I love y'all and thank you for your support and prayers!
God bless ya!
Elder Reed Ericson