Thursday, October 27, 2016

Experience of a Lifetime

October 24, 2016

Hello my wonderful friends and family! I have included many many more people on this email than usual as I have added basically everyone I saw on my email list including my family and friends, companions, MTC teachers, etc. As some of you may know I board a plane on Wednesday morning here in Lubbock, TX and will arrive in Boise, ID later that afternoon. Very bittersweet for me to know that my time is up and my life is moving on. However, I am very excited to start my life anew and be a greater disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ after learning and progressing as a full-time missionary for 2 years in the wonderful Texas Lubbock Mission!


It has been a whirlwind this past week. Surprisingly I have been doing very well emotionally. Like, super well. Every once in a while I get a bit sentimental while praying or something, however I have been happy and level headed nearly every day. The one time I did break down was during my departing interview with President Heap when he thanked me for my service in the TLM. That got me pretty good, but I hung in there. But man, its just crazy. I remember walking onto the MTC campus and sitting through class everyday with Elder May and having lessons that I look back at now and laugh at. I remember it was so incredible to be out on a mission and I thought it would never conclude because two years seemed like such a long time. I remember walking around Sweetwater with Elder Stringham being so overwhelmed and not knowing how I was going to be a good missionary because it was so difficult to learn how to talk to people about the gospel and teach them effectively. That literally seems like a whole lifetime ago. Its gone by so fast, but it seems like it was so long ago because of how far I've come and the different life that I have now then I had then.


As I have been reflecting a bit the past little while I have come to realize that the Lord has blessed me with the absolutely perfect mission. Sure, it was never a walk in the park as I faced many trials and hard times, however, in retrospect, it was perfect. I am so thankful for every area I've served in, every companion I've had, every person I taught, every person I even talked to, every moment of joy, frustration, and spirit, and every single struggle along the way accompanied by the joy and growth that followed. To all of my companions... thank you! You are the ones that I spent every one of those moments with and whether you know it or not YOU have had a remarkable impact on my life in some way. I love you from the bottom of my heart and thank you for serving with me and serving the Lord WITH me. You will forever have a special spot in my heart. I love you! Never forget that! To all of those others that added to the joy and wonder of my missionary service, thank you as well! I will never forget all those that I have met and worked with over the past two years!


I remember opening up my mission call on July 17th, 2014 to the Texas Lubbock Mission. I remember being very disappointed in the fact that I went to the last place I wanted to go. I always told people that I would be good with going to a state-side mission as long as it wasn't Texas. Sure enough, got called to Texas. And on top of that I was going to the absolute worst place in Texas. Not Dallas, not Houston, not San Antonio...... but LUBBOCK!!!!! Looking on the internet and map made it even worse. If you've ever looked at the United States on satellite view you will see a large flat brown area that covers the West part of Texas and the East part of New Mexico. The area is exactly the outline of the Texas Lubbock Mission.... basically. I remember getting to Lubbock and it was just as bad as I thought looking out the window of the plane and seeing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Then I got sent to a dinky dumpy little town called Sweetwater. I was praying for a one and done in Sweetwater my first couple weeks. But then, something happened. I started growing a love for that dumpy town called Sweetwater. After 6 months of serving in that place I was torn apart leaving it. I LOVE Sweetwater! The Lord then sent me to Lubbock, then Odessa, then San Angelo, then Abilene, then Hobbs, and then back to Lubbock. In every single place I grew the exact same love for it as I grew for Sweetwater. Every. Single. Place. I have no more love for any place than I do for the land in the Texas Lubbock Mission. The places that I served will always be where I learned the most important truths in life and will forever be home for me. Sure, home is in Kuna as that is where the family is at and where I grew up. But HOME is in West Texas. I left home to come out on a mission, and now I am leaving home to go back after my mission. I thank the good Lord every day for sending me here to The Lord's Mission! 


As I have thought about what I have accomplished on my mission, I remember mentioning something in my farewell address before I left that set the course for my mission. I said that I knew that I couldn't convert or baptize every person that I talked to or taught, but that I could share love with everybody. As I reflect, I think that is the greatest success I've had. I know that I have succeeded in showing love to all others that I have met and worked with. I pray that even those that closed the door in my face felt my love as I always tried to say "Have a good day!" to every person in a way that shared love and light. I believe that every one that I talked to and taught was left with a positive impression of us missionaries and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I pray that even through those small and simple means that some person will be brought to the restored gospel, when the time is right, because of the positive impression I left. I don't care if I ever find out about it, but I want others to come unto the gospel and I did what I could to make my interactions positive despite their hardened hearts.


Throughout my service I have grown an undeniable testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church that he leads, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Its true. Its all true. President Heap asked me what I was going to take home from my mission that didn't go in my suitcase, and I simply said, "a testimony". The Lord could bring about his purpose and complete his work without 18-20 something year olds. He doesn't need me. However, he took the opportunity to allow me to be broken and ultimately walk away from my mission with a strong conviction of HIS truth. I was HIS investigator! I would gladly die as a martyr in defense of the truth that has been brought forth with the restoration of the gospel. You name it.... the nature of God and Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, modern day prophets, eternal families, etc. I could never deny the truths that the Lord himself has taught me. If there is every a doubt that Reed Ericson has a testimony, let me clear that idea up today. I KNOW. Its all true. And I give all the praise to a loving God who was merciful enough to learn things line upon line, precept upon precept. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered, bled, and died for ME and for YOU! I know that he is ready to succor me and you in our infirmities and strengthen us in our weakness. I know that there is a God in heaven who loves us perfectly in a way that we cannot comprehend, and that it is his work and his glory to help us become like him. I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of God. And along with being the word of God it is the most powerful account of his word that we have on the earth today. The book has power. I have seen people's lives completely change because they simply opened up the pages and read! And along with that I have felt such a strong spirit every time I testify of that book. Especially lately, I am basically moved to tears whenever I share the book and testify of it. I know with absolute assuredly that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Kingdom of God on earth, and only through it and the ordinances performed by the restored priesthood authority of God can we live WITH God and be LIKE him. I know that the Lord brought his work in these latter days through a young man, Joseph Smith. Though imperfect, this man helped bring forth the marvelous work and a wonder in these latter days. It is true when said that Joseph Smith has done more for the salvation of mankind than anyone save the Savior Jesus Christ. I know that all the keys of the priesthood are on the earth today and are held by President Thomas S. Monson. I know that because of the power that has come into my life as I have received ordinances that can only be done because of priesthood keys that he holds and exercises. All it takes is for me to see a picture of that man for the Holy Ghost to testify to me that he is a prophet of God and the chosen president of the Lord's church. Its all true. 


I also thank the Lord every night for the opportunity that I've had to serve with my amazing mission president, President Heap. If there was any one reason that I was sent to the Texas Lubbock Mission, it was to serve with President Heap. He told me that when I got here and I thought that was kinda weird, but after two years I have seen that claim come true. He has truly helped me and many many others become greater disciples of Jesus Christ. He has taught me so many amazing truths that help me understand and in turn apply the gospel. His perfect love has been a strength and support to every missionary here in his mission. I couldn't ask for a better mission president than him. He has been perfect for me and for the other missionaries in our mission. He will prove to be a savior on Mount Zion for all of his missionaries! I love him and will love him forever!


I thank each one of you for your love and support over the last two years. You are one of the many reasons that I've had such an uplifting experience that will forever prove to be life-changing. No prayer goes unanswered, and I know that the Lord surely reached out and blessed me as a result of your prayers. So from the deep feelings of my soul, thank you. I love you and pray that you may receive many blessings for your love and care for me and for many others! 


Well team, I've said enough. I wish I could better share the feelings in my heart, but I am just a man. I pray that the Lord blesses each of us in the tumultuous world. Our brother, Satan, is having a hay-day out there and only the Savior and his gospel can bring us the protection that we need to truly endure to the end. May we all continue to rely on him and his grace to pull us through the tests present and ahead. HE WILL COME AGAIN!!!! 


GOD BLESS YA!!!!!!!!!

With all my love,

Elder Reed Ericson
SEE Y'ALL ON WEDNESDAY!!!!!!!! WHOOT WHOOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I wanted to send some good mission closure pictures.... but my SD card reader doesn't work anymore as of a couple weeks ago. So these are from Elder Hawes.
So here is a sweet-o picture of the Lubbock Temple that we took out proselyting (its in our area). And then the other picture is one of our district pictures from our last district meeting. I had the idea of doing an awkward Elder/Sister picture and this was one of the products. Elder Hawes needs to work on his awkward face.... well, so do I. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Press Forward, Saints

October 17, 2016

Hello hello my wonderful friends and familia. Thank you for all of your prayers on my behalf lately. I know that there are many things in this world that y'all need to pray for that are far more important than me, but I definitely feel uplifted and strengthened by the Divine as he has reached out and blessed me as a result of your faithful prayers. So, thank you. 


This past week was mostly just wonderful. I got frustrated a few times here and there about a couple things, but overall the Lord has been blessing me.


To start off, the highlight of my week was Mission Tour with Elder Keetch. The Lord surely answered some prayers with that. We had to go to the mission office to do something for a missionary that was going to be at the special mission leadership meeting with Elder Keetch on Sunday afternoon, so we decided to self-invite ourselves to the meeting as well. We had to leave after about an hour and a half, but that was plenty of time to be uplifted by the Spirit and have some prayers answered.


To start off the meeting President Heap just threw down on walking with the Lord and doing things his way. He taught out of Moses chapter 6 about Enoch. I honestly don't exaggerate when I say that President Heap is probably one of the most amazing gospel teachers in the world. I am honestly not exaggerating. I haven't talked to a single person that has been taught by him that would contradict that statement. Everything he teaches is just so powerful, clear, and just runs right into your spirit and heart and inspires you so much. So that was sweet. I don't really remember what Elder Keetch started off with but I remember something that really hit me in the feels. He said that Satan works so hard pushing you back from the front trying to keep you from being who you want/need to be, and then he will realize that you are making good progress and then he will flip around and start pushing you from the back and give you an unrealistic expectation of perfection that then pushes you way way too far forward. I just sat there and said quietly, "TRUE". Other than that I don't remember too much from that meeting.


We had to leave after about 30 mins of Elder Keetch to go to an appointment for our zone leaders. That was dramatic as well. But nothing worth noting. Just a very religious middle aged black lady ripping off questions about the church and our doctrine. I think I had too much fun. Anyway, we had our north half of the mission meeting on Tuesday. Tuesday was quite frankly one of the greatest days of my mission. Just a very special day. The meeting was so darn good. President Heap went off again about the missionary handbook and how it is a book full of life principles and promised tons of blessings for our life if we learn them. It was so intense. Once again, he just knows how to teach. It was an inspiration for me to keep up with living the Lord's principles when I get home that I have learned as a missionary. It’s interesting how the spirit teaches you to your needs. That instruction from him I'm sure taught many different things to every individual person. Elder Keetch was super awesome as well! I really really liked him!!! He is just a good guy and he said things that were clearly inspired because they were direct answers to prayers. Just a good guy.


He talked about some missionary work stuff, but then after lunch he just talked about how we are good and successful missionaries even when we don't think that we are. He shared the story of a man that he taught and baptized on his mission in Germany that was the only person that he baptized during his two years. He shared how he had stayed in touch with them for just a little bit but eventually lost contact and by the time he went home didn't even know if the man and his member wife were even active still. He said that his whole life that he sometimes questioned if his mission was successful or if he failed because of just one person getting in the water, but was strengthened by knowing that he did his very best. He said that it was hard for him to get emails from his son who served in Africa with huge groups of people getting baptized all the time. In fact, he said that one of his replies to his sons email one week was the simple 4 words, "Tyler, I hate you." But then he said his entire perspective changed during general conference last year. Elder Anderson gave a talk and talked about some people in Africa that were the beginners of the church in the Ivory Coast. They moved back to the Ivory Coast and started a Sunday School there, and now there are 8 stakes and 27,000 members in the country. The man who was a native to the country that moved back to start the church there..... of course was the man that he had baptized in Germany over the course of his mission. He said that he couldn't believe his ears when he heard Elder Anderson say their names.  Elder Keetch said that he didn't even know if they were still active or not, yet they had started such a remarkable growth and the man is actually now serving as a temple president. It was dang good.


Anyway, I was doing good just enjoying mission tour, and then the closing hymn came along. I got wrecked. We sang "Press Forward, Saints" and that is one of my favorite hymns. Well, we started singing and I was all in until we got a couple lines in and the tears started coming. I stopped singing to get my emotions under control, but then all I heard was well over 100 missionaries singing so powerfully as I sat their quietly. I was just thinking about how great of a blessing it has been to be a missionary and to have the special association with so many amazing young people that I have grown to love so much through the service of the Lord. Well, that got me worse than singing. So I had to take an extra moment to get that part under control. I eventually started singing again softly, but once again my emotions prevailed. I had to stop and listen and go through the same process. Then I started singing again, and when I was defeated once again by my emotions once again there were only a few lines left, so I just listened. Oh man, I got wrecked. Those were my first tears.


Later on I was in the office waiting it out. I said goodbye to a few people most likely for the last time, but it wasn't bad at all. But I knew that I was going to have to give me last goodbye to my son, Elder Despain. Oh man, I was done for before the time even came. He eventually was ready to leave and we were in the office. So I just told him to come with me and we went to the relief society. We got in the room, the door shut, and we embraced each other. I started to cry a bit but just barely, but then he said in a sincere tone that I've never heard come out of his mouth, "I love you." That got me for good right there and then we had some private exchanging of words and just stood there for a bit hugging each other. We eventually un-embraced and looked at each other with teary eyes and said our final words before I walked out the door in front of him and forced myself to not look back. I walked through a group of people, mostly sisters to get right back into the office which was filled with a bunch of sister missionaries........ and I remind you that I still have tears streaming down my face. I got a few "Awwww!" and some other female reactions. I didn't know where to go so I walked into my vehicle office which had a bunch of elders in it. So I stood there in the corner for a second before feeling too weird and walked back to the doorway of that room. As I stood there I was still obviously recovering, and some sister asked "Awww! Did you just say goodbye to a companion?" So I just shook my head and said "yeah" as they all looked at me all sentimentally. It was weird, but I kinda liked it. Not gonna lie. Later some sisters brought it up again and said that they actually were walking outside with Elder Despain right after we said goodbye and they asked what was going on and he told them, and the sisters told me what he had said about me and I would have been a goner again but I kept my cool this time. Man, I love that kid. It’s been incredible to see how far he's come. I love him just as if he was my real son. Ok, that's probably a lie, but I have no clue what having a child is like so I have nothing to compare to. Anyway, some other good stuff happened but I have already said enough.


The office life kinda blew this week. It has been weird handing everything off to someone else. I don't have too much to say. Nevermind, I do. Mission Tour was super good for me to recognize how much I have actually enjoyed that assignment. I was able to meet a number of people that I had talked to a number of times on the phone but never actually met. That was really fun. It was fun to just see how much I have actually done in service through my assignment. I gained a different perspective on it. It was just fun to see all the small relationships that I was able to gain because of everything. I don't know how else to describe it all. There is more to say but I don't know how to say it. It was good.


Anyway, the other days on the office were different. The Cayton's were here all week so we've been getting them up to speed. It has been difficult to give up everything that I have worked on. It’s hard knowing that many things I did are now in the hands of someone else. Plus, I basically chime in and show Elder Cayton things here and there and just dink around the rest of the time. I go and talk to Sister Byington (secretary) or Elder Byington (finance) and just have a chat with them. I occasionally sit out in the main office lobby type deal in a chair and read something before being interrupted by someone. I even moved it to the floor for a couple of naps when things got slow. Its been fun. Elder Hawes has been working all day with Sister Cayton, but I haven't had to work as much with Elder Cayton. But I have to be there because Elder Hawes has to be there. But I have certainly enjoyed the Byington's company the last week. They are some of the funniest people ever! You would never guess it, but they are crack ups! They live in Logan and they said that they want to have me and others over for dinner on Sundays! I'm totally down.


Last Saturday we went out to The Shack BBQ. Holy cow, that place is packed on Saturdays. But as we were rolling through the parking lot I saw some people getting into a car with an Idaho license plate, so I rolled down the window and asked where they were from. They are from Twin Falls and turns out they were in town so that one of their kids could get baptized with their cousin who lived here in Lubbock! We talked to them for a minute, went and parked the car, and then on our way in there was the whole crew there waiting to talk to us and take our picture. I was kinda weirded out. Yo, I'm a missionary, not a celebrity. Anyway, they were all super nice and friendly and we talked to them for a few minutes before I shewed them off and we went inside. I was kind of ticked that they didn't pay for us to eat, what kind of a member of the church are you? You take pictures of the missionaries outside the place and treat them like celebs but you don't pay for their meal????????!!!!!!!!!! COME ON!!!! Totally kidding, but for reals I was a little confused about that. But as I stepped up to the counter to order my meat some random dude walked up from his table, slapped his card on the counter, and said "these guys are on me" and then walked off back to his table. He cleaned up his table, came and signed the receipt, shook our hands, and peaced out the door. Didn't get his name or nothing. God bless that man! Anyway, I know you are more concerned about how the meat was. I got pork ribs, fatty brisket, and jalapeno cheese sausage. I was a little disappointing this time around. I guess I just have a very high standard of barbecue these days. People say that The Shack is the best place in town. But I've had better at Blackland Smokehouse. The Shack has very very very tender meat, but I just didn't get the same explosion of flavor in my mouth like I do with Blackland Smokehouse. Oh well, life is rough.


Wow, I feel like I've been typing forever. I should probably get done here soon. We worked on Saturday in the afternoon. It was the first time I've done missionary work before like 6:00pm in like 2 months. It was pretty sweet. We should get out this coming week a bunch, so I should be able to finish off tearing the streets of Lubbock up! Let's go!!!! I love knocking so much these days, so we will probably just be knocking when we aren't doing service or anything. Heck yeah. One funny story that I won't tell in detail, I threw down on a guy that pretended to not speak much English, and told us that in his perfect English. I said it very nicely, but I basically called him out on it and told him that I knew that he spoke English. He seemed to take it well. I ain't taking people's terrible excuses anymore. Oh man, I decided to finally go for it, and I think it went well.


Well everyone, I really need to close this unit up. I love y'all and thank you for everything! I absolutely love the Lord and his gospel and am so thankful to be called to serve in the Texas Lubbock Mission! May God bless us as we press forward in this world of commotion! Press Forward, Saints!!!


God bless ya!


Elder Reed Fuller Ericson

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Cotton Fields and Sunsets

October 8, 2016

Hello once again all my wonderful friends. It feel like I was emailing y'all just yesterday! Probably because I was.... basically. I mean, it was like 5 days ago. And by my standards these days, that was yesterday. Anyway, it was a wonderful week. I don't know what made it wonderful, but sometimes things are just wonderful, you know.

First things first, I will give you a glimpse into the cheesy life of a missionary. So we did p-day last Monday right? So that meant that we did p-day with all the other missionaries for the first time in a while. Well, we all went to a park type place to play some stuff because the church was closed for stupid carpet cleaning so we couldn't go and play ball. Anyway, we played some ultimate football for a little while and then just kinda hung around for a bit. At one point, however, a massive game of "pull down the socks" broke out. So basically you had a bunch of elders running around this field trying to pull each other crew socks down to their ankles. Stupid, right? I bet you are thinking that sounds like the stupidest idea of a game you have ever heard. But I am here to testify that your perception of this game is dead wrong. Greatest game I've ever played. I basically just chased Elder Schroeder down (former companion) and we just stood there with our hands on each others shoulders keeping our ankles away from each other until one of us would shoot in for the socks. I wrecked him a couple times. He almost got me, but somehow I whipped out every bit of athleticism I have left in my body to avoid getting "socked". And then at one point I escaped Elder Schroeder with some nimble moves only to be attacked by like two others before I even got up off the ground. I don't remember what I did, but I remember I pulled some super quick move and then was somehow up on my feet running away not even knowing how I got up on my feet so fast. I was very proud of myself and was very pleased with the athleticism I used. Don't know where it came from, but it was super sweet. So anyway, I would love to invite anyone and everyone to a big game of socking when I get home. Its so on.

My vehicle assistant, Elder Dalley, who is a senior service missionary who lives here in Lubbock, took us out to lunch a few days ago. The first place he mentioned that we could go was Longhorn Steakhouse. Before he made any other suggestions I said, "Let's go!" and started walking out the door and he and Elder Hawes followed without argument. Elder Dalley recommended the filet, but I had to go with the 18oz bone-in Outlaw Ribeye. Good choice. I probably would have tried the filet, however you could only get a maximum of 10oz so I wasn't up for that garbage. No way, I need more than that. I love going to eat with people who have money and literally encourage you to get whatever you want. Its wonderful. I think all of our steaks were over $20. Life will be rough when I go to college and people don't spoil me. But hey, life is rough. Anyway, Elder Dalley is quite possibly one of my favorite people. My goodness, I love that man! He is a ton of fun to have around and he is a wonderful man! He has served in just about every calling in the church. You name it. Bishop, Stake Presidency, Temple Presidency, Young Men's President, etc. The only thing he said that he hasn't really had is being called as a primary teacher. But that'll come. Apparently they make jokes in stake meetings about making sure he receives every calling before he dies because he is basically close enough. In fact, the other senior service missionary in the office came in and was telling Elder Dalley that despite his age he's still been praying for him to be the next stake president. Elder Dalley wasn't having anything to do with that. He said he's too old. I guess we'll see. Anyway, that's my good friend Elder Dalley.

Speaking of office senior missionaries, the finance guy is Elder Byington, and him and I have had it out for each other the last week. He always comes in and gives us a hard time, so Elder Ericson decided that he isn't gonna take it and leave it anymore. I get in and talk smack to him every chance I get. I usually try to ruin his day within 5 minutes of me getting to the office. "Elder Ericson! I don't want to hear it! Your just as bad as me these days, and that's BAD!" Hahaha its been a good time. Whenever I have a business question for him I have to say, "Elder Byington, this is a business item and has nothing to do with our personal relationship so please excuse the politeness." The Byington's are so great. Such fun to work with them! Sis Byington is absolutely hilarious. She always says stuff to people out in the main office area and Elder Hawes and I just quietly bust up laughing in our room. They are the greatest!

On Tuesday Elder Hawes and I got to take a sweet road trip down to Snyder and back. I got a call at about 4:00 from the sisters saying that they locked their keys in the car............ yup. And get this, when we got there and got in the car, they were still in the dang ingnition! Oh my. Bless their hearts. It was fun though to take a spur of the moment road trip down to Snyder and back. Its about an hour and a half down there and then an hour and a half back. Then throw in getting through town, waiting for them to call us back to tell us where their car was, getting to their car, driving it to their place, and getting gas (and Cheetos and lemonade for dinner), our trip was lengthy. We left at like 4:15ish or so and got back at about 7:45. Great fun! After serving in West Texas a road trip like that is nothing. Unfortunately, I've made the trip between Snyder and Lubbock a million times so it was nothing new. It is right in the middle of Lubbock and Abilene so it was just another trip. I think I counted and I decided that I had driven from Abilene to Lubbock and Lubbock to Abilene about 18 times. I love that drive, very scenic in my eyes, but it would have been cool to see something new! However, when we got back into Lubbock, we found some killer cotton fields and got your typical "the field is white, all ready to harvest" photos. Classic. It took me 23 months, but I finally got some!

So, we were supposed to have a mission tour with Elder Keetch from the quorum of the 70 this past week. They had an MLC meeting scheduled for Wednesday, south half of the mission in Midland on Thursday, and then north half in Lubbock on Friday. However, we got word on like Tuesday that Elder Keetch got a new assignment from President Nelson to take care of in Salt Lake instead of coming to Lubbock those days. However, he was still scheduled to come down for the Lubbock North Stake Conference on Saturday/Sunday. So ours got cancelled. It was dramatic. AND THEN, we got word on like Thursday that the mission tour was back on for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday! So I will have my last (and only my second) mission tour with Elder Keetch on Tuesday! I don't even really get all jollied up for members of the quorum of the 70. They are great men and all, but if I am to get instructed by somebody for 3 hours I would much rather have it be President Heap. But, I am still looking forward to having Elder Keetch here and it should be a good time and I should learn some good stuff!

I gave my last district meeting instruction yesterday in replacement of the mission tour. That was kinda sad. I hadn't done a district meeting in a long time so it was fun. I believe I had sisters in one of my district meetings in San Angelo while Elder Ramos was stuck in New York doing Visa stuff, but the rest of my many district meetings were all elder meetings. So, yesterday I had 5 sisters (should have been 6 but one of the sisters was super sick and at a members house) and Elder Hawes. So it was quite the change of scenery. Even in Abilene we only had one set of sisters in our zone so I instructed mostly elders. But it was super fun though! They were being super funny yesterday and I laughed more than I probably ever did with my all elders districts! It was an interesting district meeting to prepare. Right at the end of my last stint as a DL we started to do all of our trainings on fundamentals from the 12 week training program. I only did a couple of those instructions and I had done so many district meetings that I literally spent 5 minutes preparing them and they were pretty bomb. But I was actually struggling putting together something for "We invite, they commit, we follow-up". However, the good Lord pulled through once again as I sat in deep pondering on Thursday night. He told me that I needed to basically just focus on the invitation to read the Book of Mormon. So to start off I posed a series of questions that pertained to the faith that we need to extend commitments, and also the role that the investigators faith plays in receiving invitations. But then I spent the rest of the time focusing on the invitation to read the Book of Mormon. It was pretty good stuff. I think that it was actually super applicable and was something that will be a benefit to them and that they will remember! I always try to make things applicable when I instruct, and I think that I accomplished that task yesterday.

Anyway, I am now probably officially done with instructing, so that is super sad. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned a lot through instructing and I hope and pray that my thoughts and words as directed from the spirit and carried to them by the spirit have helped the missionaries that I have had stewardship of over the months. But, time to move on. It surely has been fun. I have learned a lot having a bunch of sisters in my district this transfer. I don't really know how to describe my learnings, but I know that President Heap was inspired in the reorganization of the districts in our zone and in the structure of our district! I believe that it will help me a lot in later times!

Well peeps, I'm fixin' to get out of here and go eat lunch (we were just told to go to one of the church buildings to eat some... the good Lord pulls through again). I am trying to make "fixin'" a part of my vocab before I go home, but it hasn't been going to well. I am really quite sad about that one. Elder Despain uses it like a champ and I am super jealous. Y'all is in the vocab pretty well by now, but there are some others that haven't caught super well. Sad. ANYWAY, I hope y'all have a good week! I love ya!

God bless ya!

Elder Reed Ericson

Elder Reed and companion in a cotton field.

Elder Reed and his companion in the office.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It’s Been a While

October 3, 2016

Holy cow team, it’s been a while. I felt like I had a whole new world full of email topic opportunities with the additional 2 days I had between p-days. My goodness. Anyway, this past week was pretty good, I guess. Nothing too crazy happened but life was good nonetheless. 


Let’s see here. I will just tell you of a few things that were pretty sweet. On Sunday evening one of the wards here in Lubbock put on a musical program that was a tribute to the Prophet Joseph. We attended and I wasn't expecting too much from it. I was expecting your typical po-dunk try-hard musical program that doesn't turn out very well with a whopping crowd of about 10 people. However, we showed up and I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly crowded parking lot and a chapel full of people. In fact, they had to open up the partition to the gym at the beginning of the show. The music stuff started and it was actually pretty good. They put on an actual program. They had the spotlight things coming from both sides of the chapel, and it actually seemed like I was at a real performance. The music was pretty darn good and there were a couple of darn darn good musical numbers throughout. Their last song was obviously "Joseph Smiths First Prayer". HOLY. COW. That song is sung all the time but my heavens they performed that song like I've never heard it! HOLY. COW. It was SO intense. There was a projector sitting right by the pulpit the whole time and it wasn't used at all so I was wondering why it was there. But then the organ (which they hadn't used all night) started playing bell chimes, and then the singing started along with a video of Joseph Smith. The video went right along with the song perfectly and it showed Joseph being attacked by Satan and all. Then, the screen went completely black for a second. And then of course, a tiny dot of light appeared at the top of the screen that slowly enlarged as the song hit the intense part. BOOM. My entire body was overcome by the Holy Ghost in a way that I don't think I have ever felt it in my life! My entire body from head to toe was feeling intense tinglies and had a nice good buzz going on throughout. I felt like my spirit was being taken away to some heavenly place. My goodness people, Joseph saw what he saw and is a prophet of God. I will never forget that experience. Good on ya, Monterey Park Ward choir. Good on ya. They tore it up.


We had Zone Training on Tuesday last week. The training was just another zone training, but my goodness I got to experience the Elder Despain/Elder Ericson family at work! It is crazy how in sync we are with each other. Every comment he makes is just spot on in my head and half the time I'm thinking it before he says it, and then he experiences the same thing that I do! In fact at one point we both had our hands raised to comment on something and I got called on to go first. I delivered an original comment that was probably something that most of the missionaries have pop in their heads. You know, just a good solid comment. Then they went to Elder Despain, and he just puts his hand down and says, "I was going to say the exact same thing as Elder Ericson so nevermind." Heck yeah, son. We just see things the same, which is really funny because when I trained him we definitely did not see many things the same. So it is fun to see it happen now like a year or more later! I'm proud of the missionary he has become! He has come a long way. Plus, he makes me laugh more than just about anyone in the mish so its just a jolly good time. 


Funny story about Wednesdayish night. So we took our dinner hour from about 5:45 to 6:45 right? Well, by about 6:10 we were both in bed ready to zonk out for a nice nap before our work commenced. So we set an alarm to get up and all 3 of our phones had sound on. Pretty safe huh? Well, I woke up randomly, looked at the clock, and it said 8:20. No kidding. So I checked out my phone and I had a missed call, a voicemail, and a text message. All came in with sound on. I woke up Elder Hawes and he checked the other 2 phones and one had 2 texts that came in and the other one had a text or two I think. Plus, he checked the alarm and sure enough it was sure as heck must have gone off. It wasn't set wrong or anything. So, we concluded that we must have really needed that good of a nap since we slept through all that. So we didn't feel bad at all. It was a darn good nap too. I felt rejuvenated for sure. However, it kept me up late so then I woke up tired and had a crappy morning. But, that is beside the point.


In between sessions of general conference on Sunday we needed to go to the mission office to get two of the assistants certified to drive the mega van since they couldn't drive it yet. So we were on our way to the office when they called and told us to come to the mission home for grilled cheese. Oh yes. We totally went to the Heap's and had grilled cheese for lunch between sessions! But the Heap's don't play around with their grilled cheese. (I just took an hour plus long break for our office meeting... but I am here to resume). These things were no joke. My grilled cheese was potato bread, sharp cheddar, sharp white cheddar, black forest ham, and grilled onions. Oh yeah. So good. I feel like I have been revolutionizing my life as far as grilled cheese goes lately. Lately I have been doing my normal honey wheat with garlic salt and parmesan, and then cheddar and pepperoni. These things are lights out, but these grilled cheese at the Heap's were far more deluxe than what I make. Nonetheless, I can't eat a normal grilled cheese anymore. It’s just not the same.


General conference was good. I know most of you watched it so I'm not going to recap it all for you because that would be pointless. You already know what talks were dynamite. However, Elder Cornish came up big for us missionaries. I think we all enjoyed that one and it helped us all a lot. And, I just love seeing President Monson get up and speak despite his weakness. He is a champ. I love watching him walk out after the sessions and stop and wave to the crowd and give thumbs up to everyone. What a guy. 


I have been working on "My Plan" this transfer. My Plan is the program that the church has put together to help prepare missionaries that will be returning home. (Elder Evans just caught a snake right outside the door of the office. Sweet stuff. Sis Heap was freaking out over the tiny thing. She hates snakes. Super funny.) Each week you spend an hour on the computer going through making visions, goals, and plans so that you can go home and have the path set to continue on in your progression in life. The first week I recorded the spiritual truths that the Lord has taught me and the Christlike attributes the Lord has helped me develop. The second week I made a one year vision and some goals. And then this past week I made plans for "Continued Discipleship". The last couple weeks have been really good because I have been able to realize that my progression in life doesn't end after I go home. I have been able to recognize that there are so many opportunities to grow and learn and continue on in my progress. It actually gives me a ton of confidence going home knowing that the good part of life is only beginning. I know that it will be challenging and not as easy as being a missionary, but greater work and more effort will only bring greater growth and progression. So it has been good. I think this week I will be making plans for education and career and then the week after will be dating and marriage. So I have a lot of fun ahead of me. We shall see how this goes.


Anyway, I guess that will be it for me today. I don't have too much else for y'all. Thank you for all of your continued support and prayers! I feel it! Keep the faith and carry on with the many joyful things of this life! I love ya!


God bless ya!


Elder Reed Ericson