Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Lasts" Happening Real Fast

September 24, 2016


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!

Love,

Elder Reed Ericson

Monday, September 19, 2016

Crazy Days



September 17, 2016

Hello hello hello to all you wonderful people! Holy cow! Elder Ericson's life is crazy. Not really that crazy, but crazy. And it’s not really ongoing craziness either, basically just a week full of crazy. But hey, I like crazy sometimes.


Holy cow. To start off the week we had a nice big batch of new missionaries make their way to Lubbock! My goodness, I love new missionaries so much! They are the greatest! This batch is particularly stellar, with hardly any deer in the headlight looks like you usually get! I had the privilege to sit down across from all of them and have them sign a couple of things and discuss their driving records, certify them as drivers, and give some further instruction on a couple of things. That was quite the wonderful experience! I got to see one on one the light that all these young people have fresh out in the field! I was pretty proud of myself as well, I cranked through those interviews like nothing. Usually they take forever to get through, but Elder Ericson got them in and out of there like a champ. I think I had completed all 26 missionaries (over the course of Monday and Tuesday) before most of the other interviewers got through 20 or so. Everyone was very impressed because apparently the vehicle ones usually take forever. But we made quick work of it! People have been saying that I need to just stick around and fill my assignment for another year, and I just tell them to find me a wife and we will serve a junior couple's mission together. So far I haven't gotten any leads so it doesn't seem to be working out. However, Elder Heppler did have one person that he said he could get (basically as a joke), and I felt weird so maybe I shouldn't go that route. But, don't worry fam, I won't be pulling a year long extension for a junior couple mission. I just don't think we can work anything out fast enough:) ANYWAY, enough of that garbage.


It was fun eating with the new missionaries as well. We all ate dinner together at the church and I got to be the designated "old missionary" at my table with a bunch of greenies. They were just firing off questions and pumped about everything. It is hard sometimes though because everything has to be positive for them. So they ask questions that I may only have an answer that isn't super positive, but I had to answer honestly and just blow smoke about some things, but also make it positive. It was fun though! They just look up to you a ton as an older missionary and want to learn from you! Also, on Tuesday night we had 6 of the new elders crashing with the four of us. So we had 10 missionaries in our apartment. What a blast! We had a few kids that were a total hoot. My goodness, I remember my first night and we were all quiet and anxious. But dang, these kids were just loving life. We had to keep telling a couple of them it was time for bed because they were just having a good time with life. Good for them! 


Another sweet perk during those couple days was that we got to join them for the traditional lunch at Blue Sky on Wednesday before they departed for their areas! Holy camolie! I didn't even know how good Blue Sky was! I had a double bacon cheeseburger with guacamole, grilled onions, hickory sauce, and something else that I can't remember. Oh man, this stuff is for real. And them suckers ain't small either. I was a very happy man walking out of there along with a nice full belly. This stuff blows your gourmet burger joints (Red Robin, etc) out of the butcher house. 



Unfortunately, with new missionaries coming in, that means that missionaries were also going out. So I had to say goodbye to some good friends! Luckily it wasn't that hard because I know that I'll have a lot more communication than previous in a bit. But that was interesting sending people off that were always part of my same "generation". When it really got me though was Tuesday night writing in my journal. I haven't felt too bad at all regarding the fact that I am getting down to the end, but I got hit Tuesday night with the reality of it. So that was rough. Ever since then it has been more difficult. I realized that I don't want this to be over and that I wish I had more time to learn and grow and apply things. Satan has been working on me a little bit trying to make me think that I haven't grown enough and that I didn't do enough with my time. It has been harder to recognize the growth that has occurred than to look at the growth that is still to be had. Especially since things aren't as easy spiritually and such anymore. I have to work harder to be where I am supposed to be. A member mentioned on Sunday that what you are able to do while in the office is a great indication of what you will be able to do when you go home. That was an interesting perspective that I liked! So I have thought about that and it made me try to find more time to study and stuff. 



Something pretty dang cool that I got to do this past week is that I got to drive a brand spankin' new car off the lot! Oh man, that was something else! We went to go pick up the last of the new car batch that we have received a few months ago, a 2016 Nissan Altima. Long story short, we lost the use of our car the day before because of this and that (don't have time to tell the story) so picking up the new unit was perfect timing! So we have been driving that pup around lately. And it super nice because it doesn't have a tiwi box in it to bark at me when I start going too fast. It’s actually pretty weird. It’s super easy to speed because you don't have tiwi barking at you when you get going too fast. Luckily I haven't gotten trashed by a cop yet. I'm trying to drive within the legal means but I'm just so used to tiwi that it’s hard not having him there! Also, I have driven by myself a number of times now! It was SUPER weird my first time! It’s been nearly two years since I was last driving by myself! But this past week I drove a few times completely solo! It was sketch, but super fun at the same time!



Let’s see here. I am pretty stoked to be a district leader for my last transfer. I had a nice little break and now I have one last shot to put everything I have learned as a leader to play! And it’s super weird because we have two trios of sisters in our district and that’s it. So, Elder Ericson will have sisters in his district for the first time on his mission and there's 6 of them. They even split the district this transfer because of a couple new areas. The last couple transfers Elder Dilling had four companionships of sisters in his district and that was it! He was oftentimes referred to as "The Relief Society President" hahaha!!!! Good stuff. But now we have half of the Relief Society. It has been super good so far though! I have already seen growth in myself as a leader and already seen myself apply some things that I wish I would have done better at in previous assignments. All of our sisters are wonderful missionaries and it is a pleasure to work with them all! 



Also, our compadres that we live with are training a new missionary in a trio. The kids name is Elder Fernandez and he is the biggest champ ever! hahaha he's been cracking us up all day every day! He is from Queens New York and is Peruvian. Holy cow he is so legit! He always refers to his "ghetto slang" which is hilarious stuff, and has been introduced to a whole new world outside of New York! He has so far mowed his first lawn in his life and also is learning to ride a bike! They told stories of his first bike day that night and it was so funny listening to his near death experiences! So, after almost dying the whole day, they went to the church parking lot and practiced riding bikes for a while before the night was over! Hahaha I love that kid! 



Well team, I'm fixin' to close this up. It was a busy week full of work and fun (I actually had something to do all day most days) and I am looking forward to another good week! May the good Lord bless you in your efforts to live righteously in this perilous world! He has set the path and we must follow!



God bless ya!

Love,

Elder Reed Ericson
Picture:   #QuadSquad of Canyon West!  (Elder Reed in light blue tie.)




Sunday, September 11, 2016

Mega Van


September 10, 2016

Hola amigos! Its me again. I feel like I have tried to come up with stuff to say at the beginning of these emails for like 22 months now so I will skip that part and cut to the chase.

I really don't have much to say this week. My work in the office was pretty darn slow. I'm just waiting for someone to get in an accident or something to give me something to do. And I totally do not legitimately want that to happen because that means one of our missionaries would be in danger and the church would have to drop some mad dollars to repair the vehicle.... BUT, I do sometimes think about the fact that it would give me something to do. I did do a few things this week, however when you think about the fact that I have 8 hours a day for 5 days to do these things, there is a lot of dead time. Basically the sweetest thing I did this week (which I am actually pretty stoked about) was certifying myself to drive the mega van and then using it for a number of things! Oh heck yes. That thing is sweet! We have a 12 passenger Chevy Express 3500 out in the parking lot that we use for different things, and I started driving that unit this week! I had to use it for a few different things and had to get its oil changed. So that was basically the greatest thing that happened to me. That sucker is high quality. It shoots onto the freeway like nothin'!

Aside from the mega van, my work was just about nothing else. I had a few more hilarious phone calls from sister missionaries about aggressive driving violations from TIWI. That was classic. I thoroughly enjoy taking those phone calls! Make my day every time! Also, it is super fun knowing all the transfer info for people! We have administrative authority for the program the mission/church uses for missions so we can check out the transfer board. People will talk about transfers and I just sit there laughing on the inside because I know exactly what's happening to them. It’s great stuff. Pretty sure it’s driving Elder Schofield and Cook crazy because they know that we know but they know that we can't say anything that we know. It’s quite fun. 

As for our proselyting work, it’s been alright. Elder Cook and I go together every evening and it has been a pleasure to be out with him! We have bonded pretty hard the last week! He opened up to me about some stuff right as our evening started one day and then the rest of the night was just hard core bonding. Oh man, I love that guy! Super thankful for the #QuadSquad! Elder Cook has been a pleasure to work with, Elder Hawes is a champ, and Elder Schofield has been a hoot to have around as well! It’s been a treat! Unfortunately, we may be moving into separate places in the next week or so. Not quite sure on the details. I know that we will be moving, but where to is a question. However, I did hear some talk from the finance office across the room from our office that there is a possibility of us staying united in a in a member’s basement! So we shall see!

Anyway, Elder Cook and I were able to get a couple new investigators this week! Canyon West is a wee bit shy of investigators at the moment. The week before we got here they taught a gajillion lessons, but they were all to basically two people who were preparing for baptism. Now, those people are baptized, and it’s back to square one. But, we did meet up with a young couple named Andrew and Emily this week and they are super sweet! I don't know what it’s been with me lately, but I've been teaching a lot of couples lately, particularly young couples! I basically NEVER taught couples and families until I went to Hobbs and they started to flock like geese to Elder Ericson and his companion, and then here too! It’s been weird, but I LIKE IT! Its way more legit. I used to not like teaching multiple people, but its way legit now that I have control over basically all teaching situations. Also, Elder Hawes and I (Schofield and Cook were gone doing something else out of town) knocked into a long lost member of the church near campus last night. That one keeps on finding me as well! I ran into them all day in Abilene and then I found my first one here! Apparently God likes to use me to run into long lost members of the church! The guy was pretty sweet and was stoked to see missionaries, but he works full time and is in grad school, so we may never see him again. Hopefully so, but there's a good chance we won't. Anyway, ummmmmm............ that’s about it. 

 

Ummmmmmmmm............................................... idk what else to say. It’s pretty chilly today. Don't know where it came from. It’s probably down into the 50's. Last night at 3:00 I was awoken by some gnarly thunder and lightning. I peeked out the window right at the head of my bed and watched the rain dump and the lightning shoot and listened to the wind howl and the thunder roll for like 5 minutes until I decided that it wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last storm I would see in my life. So I plopped back down and zonked for the rest of the night.

 

Well, I'm officially out of things to say. I’m fixin' to start transfer 17 out of 17 on Monday! Crazy. Time is ticking down! I love y'all and hope y'all have a blessed week!

 
God bless ya!
Love,

Elder Reed Ericson

P.S. Just send mail to the mission office now as I will be moving sometime soon. I will get whatever is sent right when it arrives.

6310 114th St

Lubbock, TX 79424

Monday, September 5, 2016

Another Week Down

September 3, 2016

Hello everyone! Well another week has flown by like nothing and the weeks left are getting few. I have been in the single digits for a few weeks now which is weird. But that's the way it is so there's no fighting it. I don't like seeing missionaries who pretend they aren't going home soon when in reality they are. I feel like they're just tricking their minds into something that's not real and then when reality does hit its intense. I just tell myself not to fake myself into thinking I'm not going home and its been going well for me. I like working hard and getting things done, but at the same time I'm not getting freaked out about going home. Its been a nice balance. There has to be a good balance between preparing to go home and not getting trunky!

The past week has been interesting. The first few days were a little crazy with lots of stuff because the Heppler's were getting ready to peace out of here and get back home. So things just seemed a little bit hectic. However, the Heppler's last day was Wednesday and then things have settled down big time after that! I spent a large part of my first solo day getting my work area organized along with the regular daily stuff I have to do. I basically filled a whole trash can with papers and notes that were lying around. But I now have my desk/work area nice and clean and organized which is helping the work tremendously! Things were pretty difficult before because you would have to try to find things that you needed and dig through piles looking for things, but now all the junk is gone and its super easy to keep everything straight! So what seemed like a crazy job has proved to be much more simple the last couple days now that everything is organized!
 
Wanna hear a funny story about what I thought was a "lost car incident"? Well, I'm gonna tell ya. I got an email yesterday morning from the insurance claim adjuster saying that the repairs/maintenance for one of our vehicles were approved and to schedule repairs. Well, I went looking through my neat pile of vehicle folders that were preparing for sale and I couldn't find this vehicle. So I went looking through our program on our computer and I could not find this vehicle in our system! So I called the insurance guy to check to make sure that it wasn't a mistake and that he got the correct mission and the correct VIN number and everything. Sure enough, he sent all the correct information. UGH! SOOOOO, I call our repair people at Paint Doctor and they sure enough didn't have this vehicle there, and the lady was looking through trying to find it on her computer and she couldn't find it!!!!!!!!!!! So here I am, second day on the job, and I have a vehicle that is nowhere to be found.......... however, right at my moment of despair, the lady from the Paint Doctor found records for that vehicle from back in May! I ended up finding the folder for this vehicle and all of the dates were from end of July/August. So do you feel the mess I was in here? Luckily the Paint Doctor lady figured out that they did the repair back in May but they had some problems with the estimates and insurance and they ended up not getting all the insurance and payments taken care of until just yesterday. However, the vehicle hasn't been in the mission since June! So, that was one head scratcher that I had to deal with yesterday. It was quite a stressful 10 minutes.

Something super fun about my assignment is dealing with the sister missionaries! Oh my, its so funny! I had a sister the other day call me about a few "aggressive drivings" she had received that day, and it was the greatest phone call ever! "I promise you Elder Ericson that I'm a good driver! I'm just not used to the traffic in Midland, its super scary!" She then went on to explain how she was basically personally offended that TIWI would give her those violations. Oh man, I had a good laugh with her/at her. And then another time I was on the phone with some sisters about something and they were driving in their car and had it on speakerphone when I heard a "check your speed" warning coming out of TIWI's big mouth. "Ohhhh myyyyy goooosh!!! I heard that!" is how I responded and they had to run in circles trying to explain that one! Hahaha it super fun! I get a kick out of it all!

By mid-week I was super exhausted! We have to be at the office at 9:00 and then we basically were working straight through until like a solid 5:30 with no breaks or nothing. I would chow down some lunch somewhere in there and just keep working. And then we would get home and leave to go to a dinner appointment soon after and then not get home until 9:00. So I was basically getting no breaks all day long. I wasn't super with it in the evenings at all! However, now that I just spent some time organizing things, my days are way more simple. I take myself a nice solid lunch break for 45-60 minutes and just chill and watch videos and read articles on the church websites, and then peace out of there promptly at 5:00, and then actually get a break before we have to leave to go somewhere! So its been super nice the last couple days. Actually pretty enjoyable! Spiritually it has actually been a little rough. I felt like I kind of hit a plateau in Abilene for a while, but then in Hobbs I got myself fired up again! I got my testimony alive and burning, and I was doing the Lord's work for him! I was feeling good, that's for sure! However things got difficult when I came here. I just wasn't as alive and burning spiritually and alive in my missionary work as I was. So I've had to figure things out, and I'm getting there!
 
We've been to the temple twice in the last few days so that's been a boost! We went on Wednesday with a recent convert in the ward to do baptisms and confirmations, and then we went just this morning with a less-active lady who Elder Hawes knew from a past area that was getting endowed! (Side note: this is my second time living just about a mile away from the temple! Score!) So especially this morning was a boost. And then I've just been trying to get more out of my prayers and my short study time, which is sometimes difficult. And then last night we were out doing our work and we were doing a little project when at about 8:25 decided I just needed to knock on some doors. So, we knocked on probably about 8 doors or so before we walked back to the car. We only had two older ladies answer the door and they weren't much of the kind talkative variety. But I felt better after just knocking on a few doors!

Also another note to make, at the start of the transfer, so after another week or so) we will be getting our own area. They are splitting the ward into two areas. So we will take Canyon West South and then the other elders will take Canyon West North. Canyon West South is where all the preachers live so it will be a good time! We don't do very much work in the south part of the area currently, and the missionaries never really do because its just not worth working down there. But hey, it will be perfect for us just working for a couple hours every evening!

Anyway, its been a good time with the #QuadSquad together in Canyon West! We have gotten ourselves together most of the way. We actually shut up at night pretty close to bedtime. Mostly because we are all just tired, but we've figured things out. It is quite the good time though! I will never forget my three weeks I will spend with the #QuadSquad with Elders Hawes, Cook, and Schofield! Let's go!!!!

Oh my goodness, almost forgot to add this in. I totally just signed my name and then it dawned on me. I had a super duper wonderful ribeye steak on Monday night! Oh man, that sucker was a solid 16 oz or so of goodness. We ate over at the Lowder's house who is a famous family in the missionary world! They are one of the main people getting taught on The District 1 that is one of our missionary training videos. In fact, my friends and I watched all of The District episodes together the summer before we left, and when Sis Lowder (who wasn't a member at the time) was being taught Kevin (my cousin) started crying!!! Hahaha I told her that story before we left and she got a kick out of it! They are super awesome! I laughed a ton that night!!! Probably my fave people in Canyon West so far right with the Fehoko's (a sweet Poly family whose son plays at Tech)!

Well friends, that's about all I got for you today. It is gameday here at Texas Tech where I am currently at so I am fixin' to get my Red Raider spirit goin' strong! Go Tech!!!!!! And I hear that my Broncos are putting a whoopin' on right now as well! But the best team of all is the Lord's team! Go Jesus!!!!!!! Let's go get 'em!!!!!!!! I love y'all and hope y'all have a wonderful week! 

God bless ya!

Love,
Elder Reed Ericson