Friday, October 25, 2013

Week #53: Guadalupe (La Oficina) - 9

This past week I hit my 1-year mark as a missionary of Jesus Christ. It was a pretty normal day overall, but I was able to finish my second six-month journal, and I finished reading the Book of Mormon all the way through (I´m not the fastest reader, so I felt good about reading it this year) and I´ve started it again.

I´ve learned some cool stuff about the Book of Mormon this first year, and already starting the second year I´ve learned more. The Book of Mormon is a great book, with a clear message and spiritual power to witness the truth unto us. I need to remember that and really treasure and use the Book of Mormon the most that I can, in my studies and in the lessons too.

The first year of my mission was a good one. I was able to receive a stronger testimony of many parts of the Gospel, a greater understanding, and I feel good about my service. I have plenty of room to improve on, but I´ve got about a year to work on that. There isn´t a better day than today to start improving, overcoming weaknesses and challenges, and becoming a better person. Right now I need to focus more on the work, doing my job, strengthening my faith in order to help others with theirs, and becoming more Christlike.

So, as far as the new family we met last week, we had a bit of a bump in the road yesterday. We went to have our lesson with them, and the father told us there had been a change of plans. His father-in-law didn´t like that they had people over to the house (it´s his house that we visited them in), and we were told that we were kind, that they liked the message, but that we could not continue visiting them there. We chatted for a little bit, and we might start seeing them in the chapel, or the missionaries where their house is might start seeing them. For right now, we´ll just have to see what happens.

We went with a past investigator this week and we invited her to be baptized. She accepted, but we´ll have to keep working hard to help her understand the message and the Book of Mormon, along with going to Church. She said she was going to come, but did not this week. We have a lot of investigators with baptismal dates, but helping them attend Church and progress is our challenge.

It´s starting to get colder now, and darker earlier. We wake up in the mornings or at night now, and it´s cold. So, that´s cool. It was like that when I got here in January, so that should be what I´ve got to look forward to for the next few months, until it gets really hot again. But, it was a pretty nice climate for a while this week.

Elder Quevedo got a pretty good photo of me in my new suit on my year-mark day, but I think it´s a bit blurry. If it´s not any good for a portarit, Mom, let me know and we´ll get a new one. I realized after the fact that it looked a bit blurry, so that´s not good. I´m sorry if it´s too blurry, and I´ll definitely get a new email.

What else can I talk about? I feel a bit tired mentally and physically right now. I need to get some more energy, pray to the Lord for His help and comfort and strength. I know that the Lord loves us and helps us. He is there to help us with what we need to do, and has great patience with us in our weakness. We should always trust in the Lord. With Him at our side, we can do all things, "...for I know that the Lord provideth a way..." (1 Nephi 3:7).

I think that something which I need to do is look back at old journals and reflect on some great spiritual experiences which I have had as a missionary. That can help me get the energy I need. I invite all of you to read back in your journals, emails, or whatever it be that has your great spiritual moments, and to reflect upon them; thank the Lord for these moments, and remember these "Holy Places" as Sister Ann M. Dibb called these moments in our lives, and "be not moved" (Doctrine and Covenants, section 115). The Lord will help us remember His love when we need it most, which is always. Please remember me in your prayers, and I´ll pray for you as well.

Have a great week, and be strong! I love you!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week #52: Guadalupe (La Oficina) - 8

As I write you all I´m starting to feel a bit better. I´ve been a bit sick for like two weeks now, and Sister Bird told us to go and buy some pills (Elder Quevedo has been sick too), and I took one this morning. The problem is, I took it on a basically empty stomach. Oops. Just before we went out to eat, my stomach started hurting me a ton. When we went out to eat, it hurt. It´s been killing me, but right now it feels better. Still not totally 100%, but it´s better.

So, on to more important things... This week we had some issues getting out and working well in our area. We were pretty busy with office stuff, and we definitely lost some time that we should have used better. But, the Lord still poured out many blessings on us.

A few weeks ago Elder Maxwell told us about a house that he learned about on his street (that´s an area right next to our area, and he was my old District Leader until this latest transfer when he finished his two years). Elder Quevedo and I ended up going there and checking it out, and meeting with the representative of the owner, and we really, really wanted this house. We kept going to talk about this detail, or that, with him and we ended up having to ask President about it.

Instead of having a boiler it has an electric heater on the shower head, which wasn´t acceptable with Presidente Walker. We talked to President Bird about it, and he was funny. He told us: "Well, you´ll just have to look for another house. You have 20 minutes to find a different house, and if you can´t, you´ll just have to go ahead with this one." So, we ended up getting this one. It is SUPER nice. It came with furniture, Air Conditioning, and it´s just a great, clean, nice little house. It´s awesome. The Lord really blessed us with this house. I´ll load up some photos of it.

Yesterday Rocío was baptized by Elder Mills. It was a pretty cool experience to come back to Laureles and see old people again. Last week I got to see Pablo and Paty, I´m not sure if I mentioned that last week... Maybe it was this very past week. I´m not sure right now. It was pretty nice to see them though. It was nice to see Rocío too. Lots of missionaries were there yesterday. The Assistants, Elder Ramírez and his companion (it was nice to see Elder Ramírez), Elder Mills and Elder Miller, and Elder Quevedo and I. I got to give a little talk about the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Rocío seemed to appreciate it. She was all tears and happy to be taking this step. It was a pretty cool day. So, Elder Ramírez and I were able to see her make it to baptism. I´ll have to send photos next week of her baptism.

The Lord also blessed us by letting us find some new investigators last night. Our week was pretty awful as far as getting out and working is concerned, including on Sunday. We went looking for some new investigators with Nahum (who isn´t leaving on his mission just yet for medical reasons) and we were looking for one "Rubén." On our way to that house, Elder Quevedo stopped by the house of an old referral that we didn´t find and stopped looking for a while back.

He stopped and was like, "Why am I here?" Nahum said, "Just go ahead" or something like that, to encourage us. So, we went ahead and knocked on the gate. A man came out of the house and we started to talk to him. We asked for his wife, and he told us that she wasn´t there. We started to contact him, and I was in the middle of talking to him, and I said something like, "...and we´ve love to share this message with you and your family." I stopped there, without adding anything like, "When can we...?" He told us he was alone, and that he was very "preguntón" (prone to ask lots of questions), and we went in. We went ahead and started teaching the First Lesson, "The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

We kept it going and under control, and then his family showed up. We started to share a bit with them, and finished up the lesson. He and his wife and their two kids accepted to be baptized, as long as they receive an answer from the Lord that it´s true. They have a goal for the 7th of December. He actually asked us, "Why so far away?" and we explained about how there needs to be preparation, etc. They seem pretty good and hopefully they progress. It was really an inspired contact, talking to him and teaching him. It was a great way to end our week, and the Lord really blessed us.

Today I got a new haircut, and it looks pretty good. I´ve been needing one. I´ll be sure to take a nice photo in my new suit and with my haircut on Thursday to commemorate my 1-year mark. It´s been a good year. I feel pretty good about where I´ve gotten so far, but there´s still a lot to improve. It´s nice to be getting along, and it´s nice to have more time to get more out of my mission. I think maybe next week I´ll try and spend more time reflecting in my letter on the year I´ve had in the mission field. It´s been pretty good, and looking back it has definitely gone by fast.

I think we might go to a Zone activity sometime soon. I´m going to wrap up the general email. I love you all and hope you have a great week. Take care, and enjoy every moment of your lives. Remember the Lord and His love for each of you. Pray to Him for help and strength. Read the scriptures. Write the important parts of your life. Write the little things.

Nice choice on the Elder Dube talk for our Family Home Evening. I´m at a point like he was in the story. I need to keep focused on looking forward and working well. Thank you for all of the support you´ve all given me this year and in my entire life. I love you all!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Week #51: Guadalupe (La Oficina) - 7

This was a pretty crazy week. I already wrote about what happened during the transfers, since last week I got to write on Wednesday instead of Monday, so I´ve got like half of the week already written.

The rest of the week was not eventful. We were super occupied with stuff in the offices and other things like that. Some news: our mission now has 7 Zones, and the names have changed too. Before, we had 6 Zones. They´ve changed from the names of the stakes (at least in part because they are no longer divided by stakes) to Christlike Attributes. The zones changed as follows:

Andalucia = Templanza (Temperance) Los Ángeles = Diligencia (Diligence) Apodaca = Obediencia (Obedience) Libertad = Esperanza (Hope) Moderna = Paciencia (Patience) Paraíso = Caridad (Chartiy)

and the new Zone is called Humildad (Humility). So, it´ll take a little tiny bit to get it all registered in mind, but it´ll be good. I like it. The rest of my email will be more decicated to the other big event from this week: General Conference.

I was able to see each session of Conference, but in Spanish. It really is a miracle and a blessing that the Spanish-speaking people of the world can hear conference in their own tongue (even fulfilling prophecies) but it´s really more of a second-rate version of Conference. I´ve been able already to hear a few things in English, but this week I´ll be focusing on that (since I have the blessing and opportunity to be in the offices, and able to hear Conference whenever). I´ll give each session a good listen in English this week.

---- One the moments that really stuck out to me was when Elder Holland spoke. He spoke on depression, and overcoming things like that, and as he closed he went a bit more general and spoke of people with disabilities.

He testified with great power of the glorious resurrection that will come to all of us. The translator started to choke on his words and cry, and as he spoke I too was deeply touched. I found myself thinking of my brother Jakob. He is happy, and we are greatly blessed to have him in our family, but the words of Elder Holland, and imagining Jake in the glorious resurrection - perfect, and "free at last," I was pounded by the Spirit and I wept. I imagined him being able to freely converse with me, and I cried.

I had the great blessing this morning to hear him speak in English today before emailing, and I was able to understand his words better. When he got to the part at the end as he testified of the Resurrection, I thought again of Jake and wept again. It really is a great talk, especially that end part for me. The Spirit powerfully hit me both times I listened to it. I love Elder Holland. ----

On Sunday (after Conference) we met some new investigators who seem to be really good prospects. A young man in our ward (named Nahum) is their friend, and he thought of them after the Conference. When we stopped by, the woman (who had just had a baby) accepted to let us come into her home to visit her and share with her. We were just outside though, since the man was taking care of the baby. When we shared the lesson with her, near the end, the man came outside and heard just the end part. She said the closing prayer. After she prayed, we invited her to be baptized for November 23rd, and him as well, and they accepted (at least she really did). She said that she DID feel something, and that since Nahum was such a good friend to them she accepted to let us in. We focused on how the family can be Eternal if we follow the Gospel plan, and she really wants her family to be eternal. It was a good lesson and we´ll see how things go for them. Their names are Sergio and Laura.

I had other moments that were good, that gave me counsels I needed, and it was good. I´ll be studying this session a lot more (as Elder Hales told us). He was looking good, wasn´t he? On his feet again. That was nice. I feel like I got more out of this Conference in ways than the last one. I neglected to review that one well enough, so that was part of the problem. Last Conference, one of my favorites was Sister Ann M. Dibb´s talk. A year ago was great too.

When Elder Dube spoke on looking forward, not backward, I thought a bit about, "Look forward during the second year" or along those lines, since I´m about to hit my 1 year mark as a missionary. It´s been good, but I´ve still got tons to work on and a bit over a year to do it. I feel good though.

I hope you´ve all had a great Conference Weekend, and that you get to review the talks in a good way to strengthen your faith and love for the Gospel and the Savior.

I´ll go ahead and wrap up with that. Keep going strong, write down the Spiritual impressions you receive, and your daily events in your journals. Keep records. I love you all and wish you well. Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Week #50: Guadalupe (La Oficina) - 6

This past week has been pretty good for me. As far as working in our area, we had some good moments, but the week overall was lower than we´ve been doing lately. But, we were pretty busy with other stuff, so that´s what can happen sometimes. We went and did a service activity for our investigator Julio. He is an older man whose house was very dirty. We spent basically the entire afternoon (from like 5:00 to 8:00). We cleaned out his kitchen, his bathroom (yours truly helped with that one) and the main room, the front entrance too. It was pretty good. A bit gross at moments, but definitely great to do, and it helped him. Elder Quevedo gave him a haircut and a shave (I kind of helped a bit with the shave) and we found his glasses and I fixed them, so he can read now! It was good stuff. Later in the week... Well, on Friday the 27th, my birthday package got here! I was so happy that it made in one time. It only took three weeks to make it here, so that was pretty great. I opened it the next morning, on my 20th birthday, and it was great to receive a package. Thank you family for the letters, treats, and music to listen to!

I spent the rest of the day at the offices helping to prepare for some stuff for the transfers and the new houses we´re opening up. We opened 7 more houses this transfer. We just keep on growing.

So, now that I´m 20 I´m not a teenage anymore. It´s been good being a missionary. Sister Skinner called to my attention the fact that I gave my "farewell" talk a year ago on Monday. A year went away. It´s been a good year. Pretty soon though, I´ll have a year in the mission field. That will be cool.

On Monday it was super chill, since it wasn´t our P-day. In the past, I was always scrambling to write while I could, but this week not so much with that problem. Also, Elder Quevedo took over almost all of the responsibility of being the Executive Secretary, so I was chilling and not stressing much at all.

Tuesday, however, was different. I had people asking me for stuff, materials; I helped out with moving things for new houses, and other stuff like that. It was pretty good, but a bit crazy. It was nice when everyone left and it was just us here at the offices. We spent the rest of the day here. We could have probably left and worked well, but we stayed here. I got to see Rocío and Charlie again, since they had an appointment with Elder Mills and Elder Miller. It was pretty nice. We ate afterwards, and Rocío had a laugh attack when she saw an old school I.D. of Elder Miller. It was pretty cool and fun. She´s on track for her baptism on October 13th, 2013.

This week coming up is conference, so that´ll be good stuff. I plan on listening to the Relief Society Broadcast before then. This week we´ve got the Leadership Council tomorrow, then Friday I think Immigration for the new missionaries, so that´s good stuff. I guess I´ll kind of wrap up this email. I´ll attach some photos.

OH! So, on Saturday before my birthday everyone in the offices surprised me with cakes and they sang to me. It was nice of them, and I didn´t expect it. Later, we went out to eat at Chili´s. It was fun and nice of them. We ate some tasty carrot cake, and I took the traditional Mexican "Bite" out of the cake, and Elder Quevedo pushed my head into the cake. I didn´t really get dirty, but there was a funny result. But yeah, it was a pretty good week overall. Not perfect, but pretty good.

Well, I love you! Take care all!

Love, Elder Izak Thomas Erekson

P.S. Wow, as I looked for pictures to attach, I realized that I forgot to talk about going bowling on Monday. It was a ton of fun. I almost won the second game, almost. It was a pretty fun day. I enjoyed it. I´ll attach some photos.

P.P.S. As the Materials Secretary, I work with the mail of the mission, and the materials of the missionaries. So yeah, good stuff.