Monday, November 25, 2013

Week #58: Tamaulipas - 2

This past week was good, but had some stressful moments to be sure. I don´t have a lot of time to write (I´ve still got lots of stuff to write to some other people, so forgive my brevity). I had some stress this week, some tiredness, and one morning I asked for a blessing from Elder Carbajal. He kindly gave me a blessing, and I´ve felt a bit better. I started off pretty stressed, but doing well... And this past week was a bit stressful. The Lord was with us though, and he really helped us to escape dangers, temptations, and to be protected by the Spirit. One contact we did gave us the strong feeling of "No" even though he invited us to come into his house and visit him right there. We followed that impression, and didn´t go in, but we did get his address. We´ll see if we return.

I´ve been finding a lot of comfort and counsel in the Book of Mormon this week too. It´s been good and helping me out.

Yesterday we taught our first "new investigators." We contacted them on Saturday before the food (we celebrated Elder Carbajal´s birthday with some members) - they were contact #55 of the week, and we did 56 in total. If we hadn´t put forth that effort, we may not have found them. We both felt good about the contact, and we went to visit them yesterday to get to know them. We didn´t really teach much, but we got to know them - so in the future we´ll be able to teach more of the actual message. They seem like they could progress and be passionate about the gospel, but we´ll see. They remind me of Pablo y Paty.

Today we actually have free time. Thursday I´m off the offices for THANKSGIVING DINNER with the "Family" so that´ll be awesome. Sunday we´re off to a sort of "open house" at the Temple. Should be a good week. We have a great Ward Mission Leader now, very passionate and with a huge heart. It´ll be good stuff.

This week is Thanksgiving. I am very thankful for my family and the love which they give me. I am grateful for my friends and all that they do for me too. I am grateful to be a missionary, and that I have been able to learn and grow in the mission field. I am grateful that I still have time to learn and improve, and get more out of the my time here. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and the comfort it gives. I am grateful for many things, and I love you all! I am grateful for technology to write home. I am grateful for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, which enables us to keep going, be with our families forever, and one day live with Him and our Heavenly Father.

That´s it for this letter. I love you all!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week #57: Tamaulipas - 1

Well... The day has come. Actually, it came like a week ago (Tuesday). I have left the mission offices and have returned to the field as a "normal" missionary. Let me tell you, it`s been a bit tough, but it`s getting there.

My last day in the offices before transfers I went to the hospital with on of the office Elders so that he could gets some tests done over a two day period. Last I heard (today) he is still there and has a beard now. I guess he got some treatment done or something. But, it was a pretty good day. Kind of chilling with him, writing some converts, riding an ambulance to take him to a different hospital during the evening. Good stuff.

I think I`m a pretty emotional person sometimes. Today I`ve felt a bit emotional and had some hard times, but right now I feel pretty good. It`s a lot different being a normal missionary. It`s different not being with my friends at the offices. We really became a family of sorts, and I miss them. But, I`m doing okay. I`ll get to see them all at latest by the 28th of November (special Thanksgiving Dinner family reunion!) so that will be nice. Elder Cayetano (one of my current Zone Leaders and an ex-office Elder) told me that I would feel "trunky" for the office for about 5 days, and then I`d be alright. I`m still kind of there a bit, but that`s okay.

So, on Tuesday morning my replacement arrived at the hospital to take my place as "companion" during the studies, so I came back to the offices. However, the meeting where they announce the transfers had already taken place, so I heard about it from my friends. They told me that I would be training, and what area I would go to. I helped out with a few office things, then went to a training meeting for the Trainers.

After the meeting, we received our new companions. My companion`s name is Carlos Javier Carbajal Alarcón. He is from the state of Guerrero, en Mexico. He is 22 years old, and will be 23 within a week. So, my pattern continues strong. I have had pure companions from Mexico here in Mexico, and I either have "older" missionaries, or "young" missionaries. My companions had the following ages (more or less): 24, 19, 26, turned 19 while my companion, 22 (about to be 23). So, my next companion should be younger - haha. Elder Carbajal has sensitive skin, so he has permission to wear a hat and sunglasses (his eyes are sensitive too).

It`s been interesting to be a Trainer, and to be Senior Companion. It`s been hard. I`ve felt like a better missionary, but I`ve also felt more stress, more "What are we going to do?" since I am the one who needs to give the example and direct. I`m trying to be a good companion, but it`s hard. It`s definitely a change. Since I`m training, and Elder Carbajal is fresh from the CCM, we`re sort of "opening an area." The area already existed, but to put us here they pulled out both missionaries who were already here.

I know that the testimony I bore last week about companionships and everything is true. Sometimes, however, living it is a bit harder than solely testifying of it. We`ll see why we need to be companions in this area, but I know we are here for a reason. My companion was "supposed" to arrive last transfer, but didn`t make it. He made it this transfer, and we were put as companions. The Lord knows why He does what He does. I know that we need to be companions and to help eacother grow. I need to help him be the best and happiest missionary he can be. He actually kind of reminds me of myself when I was younger (and nowadays) in the mission field.

It kind of feels like I did when I was new to Mexico. Pray for me please. I`ll be praying for you. I`d like to share some verses with all of you that I shared with my sister. There is a song I have that bases some of the words off of it, and it really impacted me today as I listened to it for comfort and strength. Here are the words (emphasis added):

3 Nephi 22: 7 - 8, 10 "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kidness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer... For the mountains shall depart and the hills shall be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee..."

No matter what, the Lord will not forsake us as we serve Him. Even if "the world is falling apart," He will be there. He is constant. He is kind. He is loving. I know that I need His help to do this work and keep moving forward, and I pray for it. Always remember to keep your hopes up, and endure to the end. That`s what I`m trying to do in the tough times.

Don`t get me wrong, it`s not that tough, but it`s a bit tough. I`m sure it`s hard for my companion as well, if not even harder since he`s brand new still (he got to the Mexico MTC on October 31st, 2013). We just have to keep on working and never give up hope.

Have a great week. I`ll talk to you next Monday.

Much love, Elder Izak Thomas Erekson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week #56: Guadalupe (La Oficina) - 12 / The Offices - Week 36

Well, here I am... writing a letter to all of you one last time from the offices (at least that´s what it appears at this moment). I decided to go ahead and add a double title to this email, just to help add some perspective on my time in the offices. The time has finally come to head out.

It´s been a really good time for me here in the offices. I´ve had lots of fun, lots of great experiences, and met lots of great people. Last night we spent some time playing games and hanging out one last time before I head out, and that was pretty fun.

Things are going to be very different.

In the mission, transfers are a closely guarded secret. Once upon a time, everyone found out their transfers Sunday night (the Secretaries found out Sunday about 2:00), but with President Bird that has changed. Sunday night, the Zone Leaders pass the information to the District Leaders, and they tell the missionaries something along these lines: "Elder X is staying in the area. Elder Y is leaving. Pack your bags." Then, they pack their bags. Come Tuesday morning, at around 8:30 there is a meeting where the Assistants announce the transfers by area, and companionship. The offices are on the same grounds as a Stake Center, so the missionaries meet in the Chapel for this "Transfers Meeting." It´s pretty cool. I still haven´t had one where I was surprised, so this may be my first.

I say it may be my first since I don´t know if I´ll be there for it. You see, I´m accompanying an Elder to the Hospital so that he can get some testing done. It´s an overnight thing, and we´re heading in today. So, I don´t know what exactly we´re going to work out, but it could be that I don´t get to go to the meeting. It´s all good though. We´ll have a lot of down time. Maybe I´ll read, sleep, write converts and family and friends, or something. So, that´ll be good too. Plus, I´ve never been to the Hospital here, so that´ll be a first for me.

This past week we hardly worked our area, since we were so busy in the offices. Also, an Elder is going home for medical issues, but we really hope he´ll be coming back in not too long once he´s been taken care of. I worked a bit with him in our area one night, and yesterday we worked a bit. Other than that, we haven´t spent much time in our area. I said goodbye to Nahum last night. He´s a great friend; he´s a real inspiration and he´s got such a big heart and testimony. We´ll definitely keep in contact.

Elder Quevedo and I had some good times together for sure. I was able to learn a lot of things from him, and grow as a person and Disciple of Jesus Christ. I made some changes that were needed, and I feel pretty good. I´ve felt pretty calm thinking about these transfers. Who knows where I´m going, but I´ve felt good. New horizons and new adventures are heading my way. Life keeps going.

This has been a large chapter in my mission, but it´s time to move on to a new chapter. Of course there are things that I will miss, but there are things that it will be nice to get away from too. I won´t have thoughts or time spent on office things anymore - I´ll be more focused on my area, the work, and my investigators. I´ll be spending a lot more time walking and working, but that´s a good thing and I´ll get used to working "full time" again. A change of scenery is a good thing, and so is a change of companion (at least in the mission). Coming back to the offices will be weird though, since it was once my area. It´s basically been normal since even though I switched areas, I´ve still been coming to the offices almost every day. But, from now on coming to the offices will be different. Like a flashback, but totally different.

Well, I guess that´s it for now. In a week I´ll let you all know where I am, what I´m doing, and whom I am with. It´ll be a new adventure for sure. I bear my testimony that everything is in the Lord´s hands. He will put me where He needs me, and where I need to be. My companion will be who I need, and I will be who he needs. The Lord loves each and every one of us, and it´s up to us to recognize His blessings and love, His corrections and instructions, and His will and designs. May we all search for these things in our lives always.

I love you all, and wish you well. Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Week #55: Guadalupe (La Oficina) - 11

Things are going well for me here in Mexico. This week we had a bit of a harder time finding people, and we ended up teaching a whole lot more lesson of "retention" than we did to investigators, so that´s alright.

Hmm. Yeah, I´m not sure exactly what else to write. Got it.

The Lord is always watching over us, and directing things for our blessing and care. On Thursday after writing, we ended up without money. Elder Quevedo had been paying for the both of us as I waited to recieve my card, so that I could have money and pay him back. Just that evening, guess what showed up? My new card! We were able to go to the bank, get some cash, I paid my companion back, and all is well. The Lord really gave us a "tender mercy" that night. He is always there to bless us, but sometimes we fail to recognize the small and subtle blessings which He gives us.

Speaking of which, yesterday I read Elder Bednar´s talk "The Windows of Heaven" and it had a lot of good stuff that I was able to apply to myself and being a missionary. He talks about receiving a greater capacity to recognize blessings; a great capacity to endure; and other great things like that. It was a talk chosen by my sister for Family Home Evening study a few weeks ago, and I finally got around to studying it. It was a pretty good experience. I´l lbe reviewing and reading the talks from this Conference.

This week I taught Elder Quevedo a little bit of German. There is a sister in our ward who knows some, and he wanted to be able to say something to her in German. So, I taught him to say "Guten Tag Schwester. Wie Gehts?" German has been coming back to me, which is both cool and a waste of my time a bit. I´m here in Mexico, serving in Spanish, and I need to focus on that. But, it´s kind of cool to remember stuff. When I get back I´ll maybe look more into German and other languages, but for now: Spanish.

I feel more conversational this week. It´s kind of nice to be able to chat with people in "live time."

Love, Elder Erekson

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Week #54: Guadalupe (La Oficina) - 10

Another week has come and gone, and it´s been a pretty good one. It´s actually been of a week of "course adjustment" and repentance in some ways. Last week I was definitely feeling a bit down and not happy or super peaceful when it was time to be emailing, but right now I´m feeling better in general. Some of this has to do with the "course adjustment" I mentioned earlier. Being an office Elder (est. March 5th, 2013) puts me in front of a computer screen five days out of seven. Well, during many of these days, I´ve found time to go to the Church website and be studing different topics, themes, and other things like that, instead of dedicating 100% of my time to the office things that I need to be doing. Everything worked out fine, I got the stuff done, but it wasn´t the best use of my time by any means. So, I needed to correct that.

During one of my night-time prayers, I made a commitment with Heavenly Father that I would not study ever again during the office hours, for as long as He sees fit to have me in the offices. Since that prayer, I´ve been using my office time a whole lot better, and I feel less stress in the offices too, and in life in general. I´ve been more focused during my normal studies too on what I should be doing as a missionary and helping my investigators, and it´s been a good change. It was a necessary change.

Also, this will help me be ready for that future day when I am no longer an "Office Elder," and that day is fast approaching. By the time I write again I´ll be a day short of eight months as a Secretary. Sure, I´ve been in two areas, in three different positions, with two different Mission Presidents, and three different office rooms, (that list just tells you how long eight months is, doesn´t it?) and it´s been pretty great, but it´s been a long while. I feel kind of ready to move on to more "normal" things.

The Lord has been good to me. He has answered my prayers - sometimes He has answered within minutes. I have been greatly blessed being here in the offices, and there are still blessings that remain for me to tap into and receive, however long He leaves me here. In the meantime, i´ve got to work.

This week we had a ton of baptismal dates fall through (because they didn´t go to church). We started Sunday with like 8 or 9 people, and we ended with 2, but that´s how it is sometimes.

We also lost Julio as an investigator. He wasn´t fulfilling his commitments, so we told him: "Okay. If you don´t read before Saturday at 6:00pm when we come by, we won´t take you to Church this Sunday. Is that fair?" He agreed. So, when he didn´t read, we didn´t go pick him up, and we told him we weren´t going to come. We did, however, set an appointment for Tuesday to see him again. Between these times, we decided to go ahead and read with him, since it´s really hard for him to do it alone. When we get to his house, he tells us "Ya no vegan. No vinieron por mi el domingo." (Don´t come anymore. You didn´t come for me on Sunday." And we tried to talk to him a bit, but he was done. So... We lost him.

The rest of the week was pretty normal overall. Doing secretary stuff. Teaching lessons. Going to Church (it was nice this week; we got to patake of the Sacrament for the first time since before General Conference), that was good.

Well, I guess that´s it up to today. This morning we went to the Temple, then came back here to do some stuff in the office we needed to do, then we went to a museum, then came back here to write. So, that´s my life right now. We´ll see what happens next.

Take care all, and have a great week!

Love, Elder Izak Thomas Erekson