Monday, April 29, 2013

Week #28: Laureles (La Oficina) - 8

Dear everyone,

This has been a pretty good week. First off, I have news to share with all of you: we have an Apostle coming to our mission May 20th, 2013. Anyone want to guess who doesn´t already know? Now is the time before I tell you who it is. Okay. Time´s up. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is coming to our mission to speak with us.

Some more news "en cuanto de" this topic - I will be singing in a small missionary choir for the event as well. We will be singing Himno N° 98, "Conmigo quédate, Señor" - which is the Spanish version of "Abide With Me; ´Tis Eventide." So, that´s a pretty cool thing. I´m singing with Elder Stewart (one of my current Zone Leaders) as an Alto, but an octave lower, unless I´m mistaken. It´s pretty cool. We sound pretty good too at this point.

This week we had a baptism of a family. It was my first ever full family baptism, and my first baptism from start to font too. All of the other people I´ve helped teach I came in part-way, but with this family we started teaching them together from the start, and yesterday we had the blessing to baptize them.

I got to baptize the father, and Elder Capiz baptized the mother and their daughter. He said, shortly after we finished his ordinance, that he felt "something" in the water, but he couldn´t describe it. When we met them (they were past investigators who had been visited before, but this time was their time) and they accepted us. The truth is that the hermano was baptized, but his record doesn´t show up, so he got to be baptized again. I´ll tell more about our experiences with them to my family, maybe today, maybe at a later time. It was a good baptism, and many members came.

Afterwards we ate and the food was pretty good. We ate some chorizo and ptotato tacos, which were fried in oil, and we added some sour cream and an asian chili sauce that reminded me of eating sushi with my friends. It was pretty tastey, but by the end I was filled up, and for me when I´m more full, food sometimes loses some of its flavor. So, yeah. Good stuff though.

I´m progressing through my new journal - last night I had a lot of time, so I wrote six pages about the baptism, the family we baptized, our experience with them, and all of that. I was looking through my other journal, and I couldn´t find any direct mention of them. I still might have written something, and can look further, but it lacked for sure. I´m glad that I went ahead and wrote a lot last night, then later saw that I lacked information. Last night I basically told the entire story with them - important stuff anyway. I´ll go ahead and continue my admonishing to write in your journals - don´t let anything deter you.

A while back I was listening to a lecture on President Spencer W. Kimball, and the speaker spoke on how he always wrote a lot in his journal, and openly about his feelings and stuff too. When they were going to write his biography, he gave them permission to use his journals - I don´t remember how many, but a lot. I think the speaker said because of this, and the personal way he wrote, and about his feelings at times of his life, it was a rich biography, or something. Anyway, with this in mind, I encourage each of us to write more openly about our feelings with our journals - think of how we feel, write about the important things, faith-promoting things. I think he also spoke of "ackowledge your weaknesses, but dwell on the good moments" or something like that. So, I encourage you to write in your journal.

On Tuesday we learned some new information as far as the whole mission-division thing goes. For those who don´t know, my mission will become two missions as of July 1st I believe. We´ll change from being the Mexico Monterrey East Mission, to being the Mexico Reynosa Mission, and the Mexico Monterrey East Mission. So... yeah. I don´t know where I´m going to end up, but I do know that I´ll be here in the offices for a least a while longer. We have "cambios" on May 28th, and I´ll be recieving a new companion in order to train him to do what I do. Then, a few weeks later - four of the eight secretaries will head off to Reynosa area for the other mission. We´ll see what happens to me, eh?

I just got back from eating with Hermana and Presidente Walker, a new missionary, and the other three secretaries. They told us how they met, and we visited as we ate. It was pretty good, I enjoyed it. So, once again - to all, have a great week!

It´s been a pretty good week for me, and I hope you all have a great week too! Take care!

- Elder Izak Thomas Erekson

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week #27: Laurels (La Oficina) - 7

Well, it was just a week ago that we had the "cambios" - the transfers. Looking back, it was a long time ago, but only a week ago. This week has been pretty full as far as that goes, and it´s been a bit hard, but I´m doing pretty well right now.

The problem with the washer is that somehow the hose no longer connects to wherever it was once, so the water that drains (e.g. the dirty water) has been spilling out into the ground. And to add to that problem, the drain doesn´t work, so instead of cleanly draining away, we have to move it outside. The hose has fallen a few times, and today I taped it to the sink it drains into, so we´ll see what happens. So, that´s adventure.

Something I´ve been doing, is typing up my journal. I´ve been compiling my emails too. I need to add more, I only have the first three right now on the file.

A couple of weeks ago the ward did "New Beginnings" as Sacrament Meeting. It was pretty good. Then later Relief Society did a program for the anniversary, and I liked that. They sang a song that was pretty cool. Maybe I´ll look it up and tell you the name... Also, I like the song "As Sisters in Zion" and the "EFY Medley" if you´ve ever heard it - good stuff. It uses that song, "We´ll Bring the World His Truth" and part of the Young Women theme put to music, it´s pretty great.

I think I might just do what you said about learning hymns during my mission, I think I might work on learning some four-part songs. I was playing a bit today and last night with my hymnbook. Anway, we´ll see how that goes.

Elder Holland is coming May 20th.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Week# 26: Laureles (La Oficina) - 6

Dear Everyone:

Last night we had some adventure here in the offices. We were up really late. There was a mishap with a washing machine, and we had to clean up the water. We started moving it toward a drain in the floor, but that was not draining at all. So, that meant we had to move on to other plans. We started moving the water to the door, and sending it outside. It took a while, but we got it all ready and good. So, that was a bit of adventure.

Hmm... Well. With the advent of being able to write to people through email, I´ve been getting lazier with my general letters. Sorry about that!

I´m going to finish my six-month mark this Wednesday, so that´s cool. I´ve bitten a good chunk out of my mission, but I still have plenty of time to improve, grow, and strengthen my testimony. That´s my goal. I am also almost finished with my first journal - going to have 6 months even. I like things organized like that. Then, of course, I´ll start another one. So, there´s my weekly spiel on journal-keeping. Just... Keep it. Cool.

My friend shared this with me:

"One thing that I wrote to my mission president that I really think is true is this:

It wasn't until Peter lept from the boat that the miracle of him walking on water was able to happen. I think too often, I like staying in my little safe boat, too afraid to show the faith to give it all the Lord. But we can't see miracles until it's all in His hands. We cant just ease away from out boat into the water. We need to just jump. I'm really going to work hard for this, because it makes so much sense. I need to trust in the Lord completely, and just leap from my boat. He won't let me fail.

No matter what kind of hardships you are going through this next week, and on into the future, just remember whose work this is and that He wont let you fail..."

Today we have the "cambios" - there may or may not be (there are) 19 Americans, and 7 other people. So... 26 new missionaries today. I tell them about "La Brújula" [The Compass, a mission newsletter] which I make, and tell them to send in their records on time, and to call me with questions about if somebody is already a member or not. That´s about it. I don´t do much. And... I help the other secretaries with stuff. The mission opened 9 Areas (and a Zone that was absorbed into another is now its own Zone again). One area divided into two also.

And yes, Presidente Walker is going to do double-duty during May and June. [He was sustained as an Area Seventy at General Conference.]

I am staying where I am, so we´ll have to see if I leave the officies in the end of May, or if I get a new office assignment in one of the two missions in July. We´ll see.

So, I´m approaching the Six-month mark in just 2 more days - this miércoles. Time flies in some points of view. Christmas was more than 3 months ago.

Lately... One of the foods I like is "Albóndigas" - it´s been eaten a few times, and it´s like what you make, but not a soup. When I first had it here (now I´ve got like 3 or 4 times) it reminded me of home, and that was nice. Tostadas (beans, meat, lettuce, cheese? one time. Those were tastey. And... Campechanas. I eat them too much, it may be. They´re so good though.Well, a campechana is a flour torilla, with beef, trompo (which is some kind of red, tastey, meat) and cheese. Sometimes I add some baked potatoes, and there´s some tastey green spicy salsa too (it´s a sauce). And grease. They´re tastey.

I bought myself a tie with my card last week - forgot to send a picture in the email, will send it a new version of the email for everyone. I got a haircut this morning, I look pretty good. The picture is from this morning itself, so yeah.



Elder Izak Thomas Erekson

Monday, April 8, 2013

Week #25: Laureles (La Oficina) - 5

Dear Everyone,

This past weekend was General Conference, and it was pretty good. Seeing as I am in the offices of the mission, I was able to listen to a few things in English. Actually, the truth is that I was able to have listened to it all in English (but, in our personal interviews President Walker responded that it would be better to watch it with investigators in Spanish - and we had some of a family for Sunday Afternoon, but I listened to it all in Spanish). I took notes bilingually, and it was pretty good. Also, between a few sessions on Saturday I listened to the General Young Women´s Broadcast, and it was good. Really, I liked it. Everyone who is able to listen to it online, I recommend you do so. Really.

Sister Dibb spoke on the 2013 Mutual Theme: "Stand Ye in Holy Places, and Be Not Moved" and spoke of how "Holy Places" can also be moments in time. The idea that moments of peace, testimony-building moments, can be "holy places" and that we are to stay in them. She spoke of Joseph in Liberty Jail, how it was a "holy place." She spoke about writing down our "holy places" that we had reflected on as she spoke, and I followed her counsel and wrote an experience I had neglected to write down as I was nearing the end of my time in the MTC - shortness of time with packing and all. Now it´s preserved in my journal, so that when my memories fade, it will be there - and I can revisit that "holy place."

Reflect on your "Holy Places" - your holy moments in time. Write them down. Review the ones you have written down. "Stand ye [in them]... and be not moved." Remember what the Lord has done for you, and write specifically about it, you don´t know how it can help you later as trials come. Maybe you do.

Elder Holland´s talk also stood out to me. I have grown to like his talks more as I´ve been here. He spoke of if our faith is weak, or lacking, we can have hope and continue, and not give up what we already know. Remember what you know, and don´t worry too much about what you don´t. And, "ask for help." He spoke on many examples, and I liked his talk. It applied to me personally. What else can I say? It can be connected to what Sister Dibb said - stay in those "holy places" - in the testimony you have already gained. Do not give up the fight.

Connecting to those two talks, there is a Fireside by Elder Holland that is on the computer here in the office, I´ve listened to it at least twice I think... In it he speaks about how we need to not retreat when the troubles come, not react as the Children of Israel at the Red Sea, but remember what the Lord has done for us, and press forward. He reads and talks about Moses 1, and how Moses remembered and was true to what he had experienced, and we should too. These three talks go hand in hand, remember what you have learned, felt, and experienced, be true to it, and don´t let trials or doubts overcome you.

Hmm... What else? Well. Michael got his mission call, and he´s going to ARGENTINA. We´re going to be able to speak Spanish together! It´s pretty awesome. I was happy as I read the email from him. Good job, Michael! Enjoy Argentina, Spanish, and being a missionary (in a while, but still...)

I got letters from Aunt Beqi and Grandpa Tom that I really liked, especially from Grandpa Tom - he shared a testimony-building moment from his mission, it was good.

That´s that for the general letter. Take care everyone!

- Elder Erekson

Monday, April 1, 2013

Week #24: Laureles (La Oficina) - 4

Dear everyone,

I hope that you are all doing well, and have had a good week. Thank you for the emails which you sent me, and I´m glad to have been able to read them. Please, keep sending me mail. I appreciate it, it´s nice to have.

I have some good things to share with everyone this week.

After I finished emailing last week, I continued listening to a recording entitled "Conversion of a Catholic." Therein a man tells his conversion story, and I started listening to it, enjoying it, and being entertained at times too. However, I only listened to part of it the night before last Monday, so after writing I decided to finish it. That was when the real power came and hit me.

As I listened to him talk about his trials, he shared about how while his father (who had totally rejected him after his decision to be baptized) was deathly ill, he wanted to go home. The day he was to go home, his mission president called him and told him that the Lord wanted him to serve 6 more months, and he was like "How can you ask me to do that?" and he hung up the phone. He talked to his family, and learned that his Dad (who was comatose I believe) came to for a bit, and said he heard a voice, assumed it was the Lord, and he was told to stop contending against his son´s religion, and to tell him to stay in his mission. He called the President back after this, and his President was apologetic for his insensitivity, but the Elder stopped him and explained what had just happened.

His President listened, then said to him something along the lines of, "I don´t know how I can keep my promise to you. I can only extend your mission 3 weeks..." and the Church was only extending about two months too... But a few weeks later the Church announced that missionaries could serve a full 24 months if they desired, so he did.

In the last month of his extended mission, he and his companion taught an elderly woman, and she was baptized after reading the Book of Mormon. She also learned about Patriarchal Blessings and wanted to receive hers, so she got everything arranged and received it. The Elders visited her every day, and she called them once to say that "It came!" They were going to visit later that day I believe, but she insisted they come sooner. They went, and she told him (the speaker) to read her blessing. He declined, saying she should. She asked again, and he declined saying it was personal, for her, and not for him. She insisted, and told them that she could not read. Her eyes had stopped being able to read 15 years earlier. She could not read. When she received the Book of Mormon, she could read it, and she knew it was true - she said she had received a power from the Lord to be able to read that book, and as soon as she finished reading the entire thing she could not read anymore, she no longer had this power. He accepted to read it to her.

As he read he came to a part that told her that she would have been baptized 25 years earlier, had the Elder who accepted his mission call actually gone and served. The Lord had prepared for her two more missionaries, who, for the sacrifices which they had made, were worthy to deliver the message to her. He continued testifying of the exactness and importance of where we are called to serve as missionaries. It is not random, it is not "this mission lacks people..." It is inspired by the Lord, and we go to the area where there are people we will mesh with, and be able to work together, and the Lord prepares people for us. I have heard this before, and thought on it a bit, but as I listened to it here, I wept a bit. It was very powerful, and very good.

I know that I have been able to see the Lord work through us, in trying to find and help his children. Sometimes I get down, doubtful, or whatever, and I just need to remember the spiritual experiences which I have been blessed to have. If I had not decided to fill this call to serve as missionary, I would have missed out on these experiences. The Lord places us where we are for a reason. He helps us, leads us, and guides us. He loves us and wants to help us be happy. Even when we are "slow to remember" He helps us and loves us. If we could all pray for help, and remember our spiritual experiences, confirmations, and lessons, it would be good. I am grateful that I have kept a journal every day during my mission, and as I now approach my six-month mark, I am able to look back and reread the blessed experiences the Lord has given me. A journal is a source of power, a witness of the truth. I have reviewed some things this week to try and help strengthen my resolve and testimony. I encourage each and every one of you to review your past experiences in your journal, if you have kept one. If not, start today to keep one. Every single day. I am grateful for the experiences I have written in my journal, and I am also aware that I have failed to write some experiences as well. With time, these memories can decay until they no longer exist. The importance of keeping a journal, in real-time, is highly important. It can be a treasure and a help for you, and for your families, descendants, and whoever else may have chance to read it. Seriously, write in your journal, especially if you are doing something worth remembering, like serving a mission, getting married, or whatever it may be. Seriously. Today. I´ll go ahead and get all missionary on you all: WILL YOU WRITE in your journal every day, starting today?

Okay, so that´s that. This week we also had a baptism. A convert of my companion Elder Capiz was able to baptize his mom and sister. It was pretty good.

Also, I think I´m tanner than possibly I have ever been, I don´t know for sure. I think that´s this week´s email to the general public. Take care of yourselves!

- Elder Izak Thomas Erekson