Monday, December 31, 2012

Week #11 - No Longer in Colorado...

I've got some GOOD news, and I've got some "bad" news:

I guess you have NOT heard by now my current situation, seeing as I haven't received any emails mentioning it. As you can tell by the subject line (if you noticed it), I am no longer in Greeley, Colorado.

On Wednesday, very shortly after I emailed you, we listened to a voice-mail from President Toombs. To sum it all up, I found out I was leaving Greeley the next day. Elder M. was going to be re-paired-up with Elder N., his trainer for 12 weeks, just prior to being my companion. He had expected to keep us for at least a transfer (until about January 28th), but they called and said they were ready for us. He did not know at the time that if he had put his foot down, as it were, he could have kept us. The thing that matters, is that he did not do that, so here I am, no longer in Colorado.

We drove to the Greeley Stake Center, where I dropped Elder M. off with the Zone Leaders, and drove with two of the Mission Office staff members. That was a bit after 7:30 (about 7:40 or so...). We drove to the Mission Offices about 45 or so minutes away, and were there for a little bit, before driving to the Denver Airport to catch our plane flight for 11:38. Our plane was delayed for a bit, but we go onto it. On the way over I got to sit next to a woman named Maya, and we talked about the Church. I gave her a pass-along card. MAYBE she'll look up the missionaries in the future. It was a good opportunity. Actually, I got coffee spilled on me - twice. The stewardess was trying to hand Maya her coffee, when she spilled a bit on me. Then, when Maya grabbed it, she spilled a bit on me too. It was alright though, no like burns or anything like that. So, yeah.

Arriving at the Salt Lake City Airport (this time as a returning missionary, sort of) we got our bags, and joined a group of other "visa waiters." One of these was Elder B., who had come from Las Vegas to receive his visa too. We rounded up the Elders, and then drove to the Mexican Consulate. While there I got my picture taken, signed for my visa, and then we waited. We learned that a few Elders would leave the next morning for Mexico, a few went back to the field (Elder B. included), and some were going back to the MTC. I found myself in that last group. We got food after a while, then waiting for some other missionaries, then we drove back to the MTC. Sometime after 9:00 we arrived at the MTC - again.

I was assigned a temporary companion (Elder J. K. A.), and roommates (Elder O. and Elder S.). The three of them had temporarily served in the Nevada Reno Mission, I believe. The next day (Friday) we learned our traveling arrangements, and Elder A. reported to the Travel Office to leave on Saturday morning at... 4:00 AM. Elder O. and Elder S. reported the same day at 11:30. This left me without roommates, or a temporary companion. I've been with a District in my old Branch (Zone). They had an open bed, and I've stayed with them since - need to go to Scheduling to find out official arrangements sometime today. The Elders in this District are pretty cool, I enjoy this group. Elder L. and Elder Macf. (who went to Timpanogos and is close friends with Elder M.), Elder S. and Elder W., Elder D. and Elder L., and Elder S. and Elder S. and Elder S. (the Zone Leaders). So, those are the Elders I've been going to class with, and spending time with. I've played a "member" in a few of their lessons too, it's been pretty good.

So, here I am with some extra time to prepare for my real mission. Oh, yeah. I leave on Thursday. I will be reporting to the Travel Office by 3:00 AM I believe. Yeah, that early. I will be flying from Utah to Texas, and while I'm in Texas I'll have a few hours (almost three) until my flight to Mexico. So, I'll call sometime between 8:45 and 12:30 or so (Utah time). Something in that window. So, yeah. You will get to hear from me sooner than we thought.

So, the "bad" news is that I'm not in Colorado, and therefore, I did not receive your mail (I got the first joint letter you mentioned). I also did not receive either package. Hopefully they can send it back home to Utah without much fuss. Sorry about that! Sorry you didn't find out earlier, before you sent that package. I was thinking I would leave for Mexico on Thursday and would call home, but I never did call home, and I came here to the MTC. Hopefully it doesn't cause you too much trouble. Thank you for the thought anyway, of sending me my jacket, and whatever else you sent.

I hope that you are all doing well, and enjoying life. Enjoy the end of the year, and be ready to have a great 2013. Next time you receive an email from me, it'll be international. I'm getting off now, but I am sending some pictures too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Week #10 Merry Christmas!

My First Mission Christmas was as follows:

So, we got to talk to each other on the phone. Our original plan was to have breakfast at a member's home, but they called and canceled on us, so that did not happen. We continued to do studies, and whatever I think until we headed over to grab lunch at the home of some members. When we got there I had rice, tamales, some bread, and some juice and milk. There was a member already over visiting, and then more people came over to visit. After that Elder M and I drove to an area where we were going to drop by some potential investigators, to visit them or whatever. People either did not answer, or were like, "Oh, we're about to leave" or something along those lines. In that same place, there was a family of investigators who we dropped by to visit. We started off singing a Christmas hymn to them, when we were invited in to eat. So, we got to eat another meal.

The mail was pozole, with tamales and some soda. The night just before we had eaten some different pozole(soup with some meat, and large corn [hominy?]), with tamales. I did not have any tamales at that home, and the pozole was a different kind - not as spicy. Oh, and apparently it had some menudo meat in it. It was fine to me, I just ate it with the rest of the food. Didn't even know until later. So, it wasn't like REAL menudo, but I did have some. We visited with them, talked a bit about Christmas and stuff (the wife's brother and his family were there visiting, so we got to eat and visit with them too. After we wrapped up at their house, we left to go to the car.

I think we tried to visit some other people maybe? I'm not sure. Later, we arrived at another member home to have food. The two sister missionaries in our Branch, Sister E and Sister F, were talking with their families when we arrived. We were in that room with them while they talked, and then we had dinner. It was... Pozole, and I think there were (MAYBE?) tamales there too. Also, the same type of soda from the meal before. So, we had some of that, and bread, and it was pretty good. I liked it. That meal I added some avocado to my pozole, and it tasted pretty good. I also ate a big chunk of onion, for fun, for a good story type of deal. So, yeah.

After that we went caroling to a house of a friend of the member who fed us (with some of her family?) and sang a bit. Later, the four of us missionaries went and caroled a bit more - one house that invited us in had tamales on the table, and the same soda. Maybe it's a Mexican, Christmas tradition, these specific foods and drinks. So yeah, it was a pretty good Christmas overall.

Hopefully you had a good Christmas back at home with Grandma, and were all safe and happy.

Also, I'm going to talk a bit about my companion Elder M:
Elder M's family is originally from Peru, but they are converts to the Church. He joined when he was about 10 years old. He actually went to the same High School as me, graduating two years ahead. We actually listened to or at least know some of the same bands from back before our missions. He's a pretty nice Elder. So, yeah.

Alright, I'm going to finish this week's email. Have a great week, enjoy the rest of the year, have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Week #9 Welcome to Denver

I'm doing pretty well over here in the Colorado Denver North Mission. So, I'm emailing tonight, since I did not get to yesterday. My P-day is still on Mondays, although next week I will not (probably) get to email, since it's Christmas Eve and the library we are at right now will be closed on that day. However, it should be okay, since I get to call you on the next day.

Before I forget, here is the address of the Mission Offices (that you send stuff to me with) -

Elder Izak Erekson
Colorado Denver North Mission
1250 Main St.
Broomfield, CO 80020

The offices will forward mail to me about a day or so after they get it. As far as packages go, they need to be US mail I think, (maybe First-class?) they're the only ones who let them forward it - otherwise I'll only get them when I'm there. Whichever you want. Thank you for all of your love and care over these past two months family! I was a spoiled Elder at the MTC - so many goodies.

So, my plane flight went pretty well. I ended up meeting those two other Elders who were on my flight, visited with them a bit and this fellow from Australia originally who was traveling on business. He was a pretty nice person. On the actual flight I sat next to this woman from Hungary, who had been spending time in the US to visit her family. She had seen the missionaries, and visited Temple Square, but did not know a lot of things about the Church. We talked about the Church over the hour (not constantly) and I gave her a pass-along "" card which was one of a few which I received from another Elder. It was pretty good, she was pretty kind. One thing that she said, if I understood her right, was that she was supposed to leave the day before but had car issues (both cars which had been working would not start) so she flew yesterday. And sat right beside me. I don't know if it will change anything in the long run for her, but I hope I at least answered some of her questions, cleared some things up, and who knows - maybe she will talk to the Missionaries and feel something? I don't know. We'll have to wait until the end to know what happened. However, maybe something did happen, and will affect her. Her story was unique, placing her in those exact circumstances. The Lord guides us in all that we do in life.

Okay. So, something which I have not yet talked about is my new companion. His name is Elder S.M. He is a "native" Spanish speaker, but it's not exactly what I was thinking. I was kind of thinking he might be from a foreign country, and that it would have some difficulties. However, he has lived in the United States for quite a while now. In fact, he went to the same High School as me, but he didn't graduate the same year. I was grateful we at least had something in common. So far he seems pretty nice. A pretty happy or whatever Elder. President T said that he has "Greeny Fire" or whatever, still wanting to work or whatever. We'll see what I can do to help us out, and push us in the right direction. We haven't worked yet, like, really, but we have eaten with members, and did some service too for a couple of hours or so today. We're going to go get some dinner after this mailing session. Time is approaching its end. We usually eat our own lunch, I guess, and have dinner with members, but today was an exception to that. We might get some teaching done tonight, after English Class. Day Two in Greeley, Colorado (I think that's how it's spelled).

So, I'm going to start wrapping up this email. I'm doing pretty well so far, I should be here for at least a transfer, but we shall see what happens. The Mission is real now, real people. Not "investigators" but people, investigators, members, etc.

Before I left the MTC I got to briefly talk with Elder C, and I saw him shortly after that. Hopefully things go well for everyone on their own missions. I've only got about two minutes left on my mailing time now.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Travel Update

We just heard today that Izak is being temporarily reassigned to the Colorado Denver North Mission, while awaiting his visa to Mexico. (The rest of his district is also being temporarily reassigned--one we know of is going to Ohio Cleveland, another to Nevada Las Vegas somewhere) Izak flies out Monday, December 17th in the morning. We'll be getting him a few warm sweaters, as he was packed for a mission in a very warm climate. Interesting note: Laramie, Wyoming is in that mission. (Izak's dad used to live in Laramie--went to junior high there) We'll find out next week what area he will get to serve in. He will be speaking Spanish.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Week #8

Alright. So, today I received some news as to my traveling arrangements. Last week we received our "Travel Plans" and we were all (except Elder Ch) set to leave on the 17th of December to Mexico. However, VERY recently - less than an hour ago - Elder H and I learned that there were problems. We went to the Travel Office and learned new information. Everyone is staying at the MTC as of now to wait, except for Elder B and ME, who will be reassigned temporarily this week. They said that "Thursday evening" or so, I should know where I'm going. I may or may not still be leaving on Monday. We shall have to wait and see.

Just like Dad about 22 years ago, I am going to be reassigned (probably) before making it to my final, permanent Mission. So, that's going on. This means that any family packages, since everything is up in the air, should be sent to make it here before the weekend. Next time I get the opportunity to write home, I will let everybody know what's going on with my new plans. Whatever happens, the Lord's hand is directing it. The Lord is shaping us, guiding our course, and in charge of everything. So, that's the traveling news. If I had written anyone an hour ago, I would have said I was going to Mexico on Monday, but, now we all know better.

Now, as for this week, it has been hard - with good moments too. However, as I have had these challenges this week, praying for more charity, patience, and help, the Lord has blessed me. The struggles which I have had this week have helped bring me closer to the Lord. Sometimes we forget to rely on Him as much as we should. This Sunday I had good experiences: Elder H and I were one of the companionships which was to give a lesson this week. The topic was "Faith in the Atonement." The Atonement is more than Christ suffering for our sins, and our infirmities, and our sicknesses, and so on; the Savior's Atonement is a gift which gives us the help of the Lord's GRACE. "His Grace is sufficient for all things" I feel might be somewhere in the scriptures, but I don't know where. However, the point is that His GRACE, and the ATONEMENT are there to always help us, lift us, and enable us to do things which we cannot do. I've shared this week multiple times about Corrie Ten Boom's experience with forgiveness - it was talked about recently in conference, and I read the book about her (written by her?) also. I also talked about the Pioneer woman quoted and spoken of by Sister Linda K. Burton in the Relief Society meeting. When I was reading from her talk, I got emotional. Another thing I talked about, I learned about in my Priest's Quorum from Brother Gilliam I believe. The Savior and Our Father do not love us because of what we do, although sometimes He and Heavenly Father are pleased with our actions, but they love us DESPITE what we do. They love us perfectly.

We are NEVER, EVER alone, if we rely on Him. I was having some moments of sort of self-pity or self-righteousness, or whatever, this week (yesterday too). And some worries. However, everything is fine. I am here, experiencing these things. Another instance of His love showing itself to me, was when I had a song about His love in my head a bit, and the thought for the meal was something along the lines of, "Remember that the Savior loves you." After seeing that I walked into the cafeteria, heard my name, backtracked and saw Elder C [good friend from home] briefly. It was a blessing from the Lord. Really, we need to recognize His care for us in all that we do. For our Sunday Devotional, BYU Men's Chorus came and sang to us, and some of the members spoke of personal experiences. One shared about a family that walked two miles in the freezing cold (coldest day of the year, about 15(?) below 0 in New York) to come to Church, in relation to having an Eternal Family. This story, other things said, and some of the songs had me blubbering a bit - tears, etc. I was blessed to have a tissue (which I decided not to throw away earlier) to help me take care of myself. The Lord has truly blessed me. He loves me. He is there to help and care and comfort me. He is my Lord, my Savior, my Christ. Heavenly Father and the Savior are there for me. Although this week has been hard, I have felt gratitude for the Lord. He has blessed me. Sometimes we have struggles, so that we can turn to the Lord, learn, and grow.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week #7

This past week has been pretty good. I'm going to highlight some of the best parts of the week for me:

I had been having some questions / doubts / worries, and I received Grandma Sandy's letter for me from Thanksgiving. Remember how I mentioned Elder Holland's granddaughter singing "If The Savior Stood Beside Me" last week, and how it affected me? Well, without even knowing about it, Grandma Sandy wrote me about the very same song - they're singing it in her Primary Program. It helped serve as a witness to me - a reminder of the feelings I felt just a few days earlier - of the Savior - and it has helped me. Witnesses help strengthen us. It was a good witness for me. Some people could brush something like this off as coincidence, but (something like this was said during one of our Devotionals) "There are no coincidences with the Gospel." Something like that. And, it's true. The Lord blesses our lives with everything He does for us. This week I have been blessed by His loving hand, His guidance, and have received answers to prayers. Meeting my friends at the Temple was an example of that, how He guides everything for us.

I got the opportunity to go and be a "New Missionary Host" this week, and it was pretty cool. I was there, waiting, hoping to see Elder Casper, Elder Channell, and Elder Talbert (I had actually prayed to see them) and I was sort of "drafted," so I left with that group. However, as I was leaving I thought I saw the Casper family waving at me (and MAYBE saw Elder Casper through his car window) and I waved back - it was them I found out later when I saw Elder Casper a couple of days I believe later.

When we got there, the staff member started telling us something like, "I know you wanted to help with the new missionaries, but the automatic dishwasher in the cafeteria is broken..." but he was joking - it was actually to help with some "internationals" who had arrived the night before. He asked if there was anyone who was "fluent in Spanish," and I volunteered, I said something like "I'm not fluent, but I'll try." It was a good experience. I got to help host TWO Elders at once actually. Elder A from Spain (who hardly spoke any English, so it was cool to get to be there talking to him - he complimented my Spanish, maybe part of that was being nice, but...) and Elder R from England. It was a good opportunity. If I had not gone when I did (I was on an exchange with Elder Burton for a while that day) then i may not have been pulled out to help in this instance.

After helping those two Elders, I ran back to continue helping with the incoming Elders. The Elder I got to help out next was named Elder R (or something like that). I helped him get his luggage to his room (I didn't do perfect with my assignment, but...) and his stuff, then we headed to his classroom. Lo and behold, when we arrived there I saw his companion, and guess who it was? Elder CHANNELL! It was pretty great, to be able to see him, and in such roundabout circumstances. Everything fell into place for the Lord to answer my prayers, and I was able to very briefly visit with him before running off to help some more (there weren't any other people to help, but that's okay). It was a good experience, and the Lord was kind to me. He watches over us. He helps shape our lives and guide them, in everything which we do.

Just as when Joseph was sold by his brothers into Egypt as a slave resulted in the salvation of the peoples of Israel, and Egypt, the Lord guides our lives. Being called to serve in the Primary, in order to have that connection with Grandma Sandy; and our letters talking about Primary, and songs; all helped me to receive the letter which helped strengthen and comfort me, and helped me to see the Lord's hand in my life. Deciding to shine / clean a bit my shoes, iron my shirt, and when we left resulted in me seeing my friends on Monday. Deciding to "host," serving where I did, being called to where I did, and little circumstances helped me receive an answer to my prayers. The Lord blesses and guides us. We need to have faith in Him, love Him, and serve Him. We need not "doubt" or "fear." We are under His watchful eye. He loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to be our Savior.

Some changes have happened:
  • Elder C L (in another District in our Zone) went home because of medical problems - it is part of the Lord's plan, and it was part of His plan that we was here when he was.
  • Elder S received his Visa, and left this morning. We no longer have him with us. He was called to be one of the new Zone Leaders with his companion Elder C, who is now in a "trio" with Elder G and Elder B (Elder G and Elder C are the Zone Leaders).
  • I am the new District Leader - I pray that I can be effective, and a proxy for the Savior with my District - to help lift, edify, and take care of them. To help strengthen them. When President Monson talked about visiting the lonely in his address during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional I had some thoughts / ideas of how to serve them / how I should serve them. I want to be a servant, to help them. I've prayed and will continue to pray for help and guidance with this.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week #6 - Thanksgiving at the MTC


So, I don't know everything that has been going on, but I guess Mexico elected a new President, and they've changed their visa policy. I've heard of an Elder who received his visa, but with the change no longer has it. Now, I don't know 100% about what the visa situation is, but I do know that even before this Mom heard about somebody who served months state-side before finally making it to Mexico, so we shall see what happens for me. I could see me staying some extra time here at the MTC. Part of me kind of wants to. I think it would be cool to be here for Christmas. We might even have an Apostle come and speak (Elder Bednar came last Christmas - which was on a Sunday). This year Christmas Day is on a Tuesday, which is a Devotional day anyway, but even if it weren't (it is on Tuesday, right?) they would maybe make an exception and have one of the Twelve (or even the First Presidency) come and speak. They did for Thanksgiving. More on that later. I think I may get to call home before I leave the MTC. If I am here on Christmas, as you know, I won't get to call home that day. However, it would still be cool to be here that day. I'm alright serving state-side for a few months, but I still want to eventually make it to Mexico. We shall see what the Lord has in store. Dad, you had visa problems of your own (and I tell the story), so if I do it's like what happened to you. It would be ironic if I was re-assigned to Spain, but that probably won't happen.

So, the Apostle who came to speak to us was... ELDER HOLLAND:
Elder Holland and his wife, and some of their family came and spoke to us, and shared their time with us for Thanksgiving. Sister Holland spoke of a missionary experience she had once, some of their grandchildren either performed (one granddaughter sang "If The Savior Stood Beside Me" and it had me teary, it was good) or bore testimony, and Elder Holland talked about how blessed we are to live when we do. We get to live in the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" - the time that all have looked forward to. He talked of prophets of old, and the Apostles; about how they must have looked forward to our day, knowing that they were playing a losing game in their time - that they would lose, but that finally we would win. WE will not lose, but they did. Every other dispensation fell away into Apostasy, even the one in which the Savior Himself established His Church upon the earth. He talked about not knowing "why," but that we are blessed. He also talked about how the mission: "This IS real life!" or something like that. "This is as close to the Savior as you will ever be..." Something along those lines. We should not just go on a mission, but become missionaries. We should CHANGE, and be different people, better people - better disciples, when we return from our labors.

We had a goofy little program, performed some service, and watched a movie. We got to watch 17 Miracles - and it was good. It was the first time I got to see it. There were many moments where I was either on the brink of tears, or had some tears. One of those moments was spoken of during the most recent General Conference - when a pioneer woman found two old "sea biscuits" and through her faith in the Lord, and a miracle, was able to feed her family. Well, I'm running short on time. It was good though.

Also, today while going to the Temple, Elder Harrop and I ran into two of my friends: Jordan and Bean! We visited with them for a bit, and it was good. Bean actually showed me the picture. They both have the same tie I bought (I've worn it every Wednesday) - and Michael at least is getting one too. It was nice to see them, I was glad to get to visit with them. It was a blessing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week #5

Earlier this week we had a lesson that did not go that well... I pretty much dominated the lesson, and did not really apply it well to our "investigator." And yes, they are real people who play investigators, and we teach them. The two we teach are actually our normal teachers. Anyway, for the next lesson we had (that same day) we did better. Elder H actually did most of the talking, sharing a personal experience for a lot of the time. Our subsequent lesson with that investigator went well too. Although, tonight is our first time teaching again to the investigator we did not do so well with, so we shall see how we can sort of repair that lesson with him. Good news is that both of them have baptismal dates to prepare for, but we'll see how they progress. A lot of this week has actually applied to the fact that we need to not just teach the lessons, and not just focus on fixing their needs, but a good balance where we are to apply the lessons to them. It can be written this way, the different approaches: Teach the investigator. Teach the lesson. Teach the investigator the lesson. We need to follow the plan, unless the Spirit directs otherwise, and apply it to the investigators.

Yesterday I was on an extended "split / exchange" with Elder S. We went to choir, then time after that, then dinner, then the fireside, then sort of during the video even after we refound our companions. In fact, during the Devotional we were recruited as last-minute "Ushers." We helped fill in seats before the devotional. Our whole district is going to usher next Sunday, so we got in a bit of experience before that. The video which we watched was The Mountain of the Lord and I thought it was pretty good. One thing I liked from the film was where "Wilford Woodruff" said something along the lines of "If you believe in the Savior, you already believe in proxy work" (he was talking about ordinances for the dead). In case you don't know, which you probably do, the film was about the building and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple.

You remember those Missionaries who met the new Elders and Sisters as they arrived at the MTC? Well, next week I want to be one of them (November 28th). That means I could be the "Host" for Jordan, Joe, or Craig. That would be pretty cool, to be the one to see them, and guide them for a little bit. Or at least to see them as I helped somebody else. So, we'll see how it all goes. I'll let you know in two weeks.

We did not in fact, get an Apostle. However, this Thursday for Thanksgiving we're having "one of the Twelve" I believe. I think if it were Elder Scott, or Elder Nelson, or maybe Elder Anderson, that could be pretty cool. Any of them, but still... I'll let you know next week how it was. We're also going to be doing some kind of service that day. And maybe a fireside too? Fireside and a Devotional perhaps, basically.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week #4

Hey everyone! Thank you for the letters, and the package! Thank you for your kindness, and for the Christmas gift as well. Hope everything is going well for everyone back at home.

So, first off - I forgot my camera until we already arrived at the laundry place - sorry! No pictures this week... I got a picture yesterday of me in Dad's/my trench-coat and his Mission Tie. Dad, before next week I WILL get that picture in front of the big map, and I will upload it, along with other pictures for all of you. Sorry again, at least the blog has some of my words, right?

Hmm... where to start... This week has been pretty good overall. Although, some of the studying has been lacking. Our planning, and follow-through, and focus on our "investigators" was weak for a while. Our "investigators" are doing alright - we even gave one of them a baptismal date. The problem is, we need to make sure we can teach everything in time, go with his needs, and also make sure he is keeping commitments. It's not a real, real investigator, so... I think it might be alright to write about them? Real ones I believe you're supposed to either not give a lot of details, or names, or whatever.

What else? In case I didn't mention them before, we've heard from the following members of the Seventy: Elder Larry Echo Hawk, Elder Don R. Clark, Elder W. Craig Zwick, and... tomorrow is our fifth Tuesday - it could be an Apostle. I guess they come every six or so weeks (maybe?) and this Tuesday is that mark. The last one was Elder Bednar about two weeks before we got here. Yep. It would be cool to get an Apostle, or member of the First Presidency. So, we shall see, and I shall let you know next week if we got one. If not this week, maybe the next?

Okay. Yesterday Elder H and I stayed after the Devotional to watch the film The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd. It was good, I'm glad that we watched it. I got teary-eyed multiple times: during parts when the Savior healed people, when he arrived in the Americas (maybe?), and when he was blessing the children (I felt some), and at the end when "Jacob" is describing Him to his father, and when the Savior addresses the blinded father by name and heals him. Yep. It was good stuff. Also a bit of emotion during a primary song we sang before the devotional.

Today, as on every P-day, we went to the Temple. As we were finishing, one of the workers there stopped to talk with me. I'll share more sometime with the family at least, but as we finished he said something like, "I don't know why I stopped to talk to you...". I wrote about it in my journal, and some of the things he said were things that, if I can remember and hold true to, can help me be a strong missionary.

Alright family, and friends, I'm off very shortly from the email. I apologize once again to people who have not received a letter from me (or in a while). This week I plan on at least writing to Jordan, Grandma Terry and Grandpa Tom, and Grandma Sandy. That means, sorry Savanna, and Bean (no reply yet from Michael for the short reply I sent him).

Everybody have a great week! Stay strong! Pray often! Pray for me too? Enjoy the snow! It's Christmas(y)!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week #3, letter to Mom

Dear Mom, I hope things are going well back at home! Throughout the week I have also found some things to help me with my testimony. One good one happened today, within the hour in fact. There is a gym here where you can use turn-bikes, walker-things, and lift, and some other stuff. For the past Mondays I've gone to it with my companion. We bought ourselves earbuds to listen there. There are five televisions showing videos and a movie produced by the Church. Today I watched multiple of those videos, and had a good emotional response/experience. One of the videos was of President Hinckley sharing the story of the dollars and the shoes. With that video I got emotional--kind of thought to myself about how it's not just the story but him that helped. I believe I watched another snippet of something, then I switched over to a video about "living apostles" or however, and there were President Packer, President Eyring, President Uchtdorf, and President Monson testifying of the Savior. My emotions... I was holding back tears type of reaction. And President Monson said something along the lines of "...He is at the helm of this work" or something-- and I think I might have felt emotion at him saying that. I offered a prayer of thanks to the Lord for this--maybe after another video--this video describes what the Savior did, and suffered for us, to music, and I was still fighting tears, would look away, think of the previous video, and look back with emotion. At the end, President Monson testified of the Savior's resurrection. I am grateful I saw what I saw of those videos, felt what I felt, and ... One thought which has occurred to me involved "relying on the Lord" and not on man, or the Spirit, not just information. This has been a good experience. I am grateful for that. I need to try to remember and later be able to "...feel so now." That experience was a blessing just in time to share with you and the people back home. I hope you're well--I'll pray for you. Keep praying for me. Be strong in the gospel. Thank you for your prayers, love, and letters, and treats. I bought a "Conference Magazine" today, so no worries on sending me one of those. Love you Mom. Elder Izak Erekson

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week #3

In case I don't write to any of my friends this week, I'm sorry! Have yourselves good weeks!

My companion and I get along well-enough, but we could improve on strengthening our companionship. He and I have some differences. Today I felt like maybe I was causing him some grief. My kind roommates helped us out, but I still caused us to miss breakfast. Here's the story:

I was late getting ready this morning, so I put the black ink or whatever on my shoes, was in the hall ironing my shirt, when it was time to go to breakfast. My companion was fretting or whatever, so my roommates, Elder B and Elder M finished off my shoes for me - kind of them. They left, and we were still too late for breakfast. We could have made it in, but the doors were closed, and it was after closing time. We have cards we swipe, and I don't know / think the machine would have taken them at this point. So, we went to the store. We went to the Temple afterwards, and on our way back others went to lunch, but my companion and I went to our room and did the scheduled "personal study." He complied, but maybe he wasn't totally happy about it. So, yeah...

Speaking of kind Elders. There is this one Elder in our District named Elder S (P.S. - he knows Skyler T, he even roomed with him. Dad / Mom / whoever, tell Skylar we're in the same District?) He receives many packages from his mom / family, and he comes and shares with us. Like, often. Almost, if not every, night when we aren't fasting, he comes. Elder S is a nice guy. When I got treats from home I said something like, "Now I can be charitable like Elder S" or whatever, and Elder B (I believe) later told me that Elder S heard me and had a huge smile when I said that. He and I have gone to choir together, and to perform with the choir on "splits" or "exchange" - our companions haven't gone to it, so...

My time is running short. Sorry I haven't told you a ton about the schedule yet. It varies by day, but: We wake up at 6:30 or so, have like 30 minutes to prepare, have about 2 - 3ish hours of different types of study, 6 (technically) hours of class time (including language, training, study, and teaching "investigators") every day but Sunday, and eating, planning. The last hour of the day (9:30 - 10:30) is "Personal time." Sorry that's brief.

Have a great week everyone! Keep me in your prayers? Thanks!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Week #2

In only twelve days at the MTC I filled up an entire notebook. Yes. That's right. An entire notebook. The thing is though, that it's been filled, but... Last night we watched an MTC Devotional given by Elder David A. Bednar entitled "The Character of Christ" from Christmas Day, 2011 (I believe). In it he talked about how instead of "turning in" during hard moments, etc., the Savior turned, "out" to help others. That has to do with the charity I ask you to pray for me prayers. Before he dove into the talk deeply, he talked about taking notes - and it's also something which Elder Mena has talked about to me - that if we "try to jot down every little thing, we won't use those notes", something like that - along those lines. He spoke about the "Large Plates," and the "Small Plates." One of the things which I can work on is listening for the Spirit, seeking inspiration. I did that kind of thing a bit last week during the first Sunday Devotional, but I could improve in that regard. In relation to all of this, during one of my online assessment things, one of the things it talked about was stopping while reading, and thinking. I could be more receptive to the Spirit, and learn to slow down. Listen for insights, instead of jotting down every little word or lots of phrases. The little notebook I received is a blessing - thank you for that. The fact that my other one is full, and that I am going to try a different approach, the smaller book should hopefully suffice and allow me to focus on the Spirit, and more important points. That was a sort of small moment, a side-track ish, of Elder Bednar's talk. His talk was more fully about "conversion" and "putting off the natural man." Being more self-less like the Savior, less selfish like ourselves. "This is how we become converted." Something like that, or whatever.

One insight which I got from his talk involved the night of the Savior's betrayal. After Peter cuts off the guards ear, the Savior heals him. Elder Bednar spoke about His "turning outward" or however. One thought that came to me was along the lines of this: the Savior just suffered through the Atonement in the Garden. He had felt all of the pains of everyone (that was all during that part right?), and He had perfect compassion for that guard. As Alma 7 (I think) talks about all of the things which He took upon himself for us, He knew the pains of everyone. The Savior knew exactly how that guard felt. Even amid all of the suffering which He had just felt, the Savior had perfect compassion on that soldier. He knew what it felt like to have his ear cut off like that. He "succor[ed]" him - He ran to help him as it were. The Savior loves each and every one of us. Not only did He have compassion on that guard, He knew how he felt, and He took care of helping him in his time of need. The savior succors us. (In the Spanish translation of the Book of Mormon, where the English says "succor" - which means "to run to" or whatever - according to note I wrote in from a Seminary teacher I believe, the word it uses is "socorrer" or something like that, which is more directly related in that language to its relative "correr" - which is "to run." He loves us.

Another thing along this line, is that in His time of suffering and pain, instead of quitting to help Himself feel better, and end His suffering, the Savior continued to suffer for each and every one of us. He, as Elder Bednar said, "turned outward." He atoned for each and every one of us. Our loving Heavenly Father allowed His perfect Son to suffer for us.  Imperfect, weak, us. They both love us and want us to return to live with Them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

1st Week MTC

A quick run-down of the week:

Wednesday (Day 1):

After I was dropped off I was taken to get my name tag, my handbook, my key and other stuff. Then we proceeded to make our way through the MTC to my apartment/room. I got to choose my bed (although at least one already had luggage on it), and I got a lower bunk bed.  Similar to how I had my bed arranged at home, I have my pillow located so that when I sleep, if I am on my right side I face the wall. It's pretty good. My desk is right across from it. I share the desk area with Elder M (who isn't my companion). My companion shares the desk with him.  My seat is the closest to the door to our room, so sometimes I scoot so that the door can be passed through/opened - similar to sitting on my computer back at home with our laundry room. It's been pretty good.

Anyway, back to the first day. After dropping off my stuff we went through the Bookstore area to get my stuff (Spanish scriptures, learning materials, etc.) then made my way to the classroom. After doing some basic Spanish stuff we went to the lab. I received a little envelope at the beginning with my tags, etc. which had the name of my companion and room, classroom, etc. but I did not meet my companion until after some orientation stuff in the lab. When we did meet, we came to find out that we both have the exact same suit, and our birthdays are one day apart - he is right ahead of me. His name is Elder H. The rest of the day was filled with stuff, orientation, etc. We sang and the MTC President and some others talked to us.

I room with Elder B, Elder M, and my companion Elder H. Our District has eleven people in it. There were supposed to be twelve of us (six companionships) - but one Elder from Mexico was moved up to the higher class, so we have a trio in our District. In about two weeks or so (?) we're losing about half of our district to the Peru MTC - that includes our District Leader Elder T. Then District 4B will be only six people. So far it's been pretty good. Elder T interviewed us (being the District Leader and all) on Saturday I believe and it went pretty well.

Thursday (Day 2):

More stuff happened this day... We're pretty busy. It was either on this day or Friday that we locked ourselves out of our room. Yes, that is right. None of the four of us had our keys or MTC cards with us. So... Elder B borrowed sandals from our District Leader and he and his companion Elder M went tothe  front desk with at least one Zone Leader I think.  It was an adventure.

Friday (Day 3):

Stuff happened today. Maybe I'll give some more info next week... or in a letter or something... Today we had our first lesson with our "investigator." Elder H didn't get much of a chance to talk, I was talking a lot.

Saturday (Day 4):

We taught our second lesson to our first "investigator." Elder H and I were more balanced as far as who got to talk in this lesson.

Sunday (Day 5):

Sunday was a pretty good day. First we had Priesthood, then later in the day we had sacrament meeting (and I understood a lot of the talks, and some stuff in the hymns too). I'm leaving some stuff out, but that's okay. My time is running short to write on here. We get 30 minutes each Preparation Day.

Moving on to some good stuff from Sunday: went to choir practice with an "authorized split" with a different companion, Elder H decided not to go to choir. It was great. The director kept stopping and sharing spiritual insights. The song talks about the Atonement. Afterwards the four of us who went to choir shared with our District (twice because there were Elders who came in later) about what we learned, and other things about the Atonement. I talked about John 3:16 and a related story of a video we watched in Seminary. It was good. Different insights different sharings.

During the fireside there was a special musical number, and during the meeting I got some spiritual insights / ideas, etc. At the end when we were singing about being Missionaries. It was a good day. Afterwards, we watched a devotional from Elder David A. Bednar from (I think) April 2009 about recognizing the Spirit. It was a good day.

Monday (Day 6):

That's today. I'm getting off. I'll write you next week.