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. 

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