Thursday, August 30, 2012

Elder Erickson - the Mission Begins 8-22-12

                                              August 22, 2012   LAX  with Boarding Pass

                                                     Last Farewell from Kaleb's Parents

                                               Elder Erickson awaiting TSA Security Check
August 30, 2012   1st Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson in the MTC Provo, UT
Hey Mom and Dad!
Well I finally survived until my first P-Day. It's been quite the adventure here. I have a hand-written letter enroute to you guys, but I'm not sure when it will get there. I sent those other two letters a week ago, I can't believe they only got to you on Tuesday. Which reminds me, using Dear Elder to send letters is awesome and I actually get them when you send them instead of like three days later. I'm not sure what's wrong with the mail, but it's crazy.
Anyways, from the moment we get to the MTC, we hit the ground running. We have a class that we do all our learning and stuff in. This is also our district. My district has eight elders and three sisters. Or hermanas as we call them. Everybody is very nice, we actually have a really good district. We were originally assigned two teachers to teach us Spanish and how to teach the Gospel. Apparently full immersion in a language is the best way to learn it, so the teachers only speak in Spanish. It was a little bit much at first, but I quickly got used to it. Thank goodness for my three years of Spanish in high school. I take back everything I ever said about Mrs. Tamoto's class. She actually taught me quite a bit, I just didn't realize it until now. It's amazing how much I remember from her class. I wish I could say it's because of my good memory, but I'm going to have to give full credit to the gift of tongues here. Even though that might sound a bit cheesy since I've only been here a week, but there's no way I could learn so much about Spanish without the help of the Lord.
As I mentioned earlier, we really did hit the ground running. We really started classes on Thursday and started teaching our first mock-investigator on Friday. I know, right? I was so scared for the first lesson. I've been here two days and they already expect me to teach a discussion? What is this? What did I sign myself up for? But I went in with faith and the Lord blessed me. It was rough, but I managed to get most everything across that I wanted to. My companion was so lost, it was almost funny. He had no idea what we were talking about most of the time. Our investigator's name is Rafael. The first meeting with him didn't quite go as we had planned. We weren't really prepared with exactly what we wanted to teach him, so that was a little frustrating. After walking out of the room, my first thought was how much I needed a Dr Pepper at that point. But alas, it could not be so.
It's cool though because we had to teach him again on Saturday. Hurray for lots of teaching opportunities! This time we were more prepared, but the only problem was that I hadn't quite figured out the concept of working with my companion yet. My companion is a way nice guy, but the fact that I have to be with him ALL the time makes him bother me a lot. That and I find that I oftentimes hate working with people. I guess I'll have to get over that pretty soon. But as a result of this, I kind of went lone wolf on the lesson. I tried to put the team on my back, if you will. And it was alright. I taught him about the Gospel of Christ and he seemed fine with it, but when I invited him to be baptized, he said he wasn't sure if the church was right for him. The one good thing about the baptism invitation is that I have it memorized, so it's perfect Spanish. Always a plus.
So that was Saturday. Oh, I forgot to mention that I was made the District Leader on Thursday night. People kept telling me how busy I would be. I find it's really not that difficult. I make sure everyone knows what's going on, I pick people to say the prayers, and I go to boring meetings twice a week. Not really much to it. It's kind of exciting to be in charge of the whole district like this.
On Sunday, I was asked to accompany for an elder in my district who sang Nearer My God to Thee in Sacrament Meeting. We didn't practice much, I just kind of went in and threw in some fancy chords and arpeggios. My father taught me well, it turned out really nice. Sunday was a pretty cool day, not much happened. Lots of talks and a devotional in the evening.
Monday we were back to teaching Rafael though. It was game time. I actually worked together with my companion. We had our whole lesson planned out about the Plan of Salvation. We were going to baptize this man, no matter what it took. So we started, we went through our lesson and nothing. He said he believed in it all, but he wasn't sure if the church was true still. Then I noticed the Book of Mormon on his desk. I felt like I should change gears entirely. The spirit was helping me out here. I asked him if he was reading it and what he was learning. He talked about some stuff really fast that I didn't really understand. Then I asked him if he thought the Book of Mormon was true. He said he believed it was. Now we were golden. My companion explained to him that if this was so, then Joseph Smith must be a prophet of God. He agreed. And if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, then this was the true restored Gospel of Christ. He said yes. Then I busted out the baptismal invitation. Perfect Spanish, (because that's all I can really say perfectly in Spanish). He told us that yes, he would be baptized, if we would help him prepare.
I have never been so excited for anything in my life. It didn't even matter that it was fake, I still felt like it was a real experience. We told him that we would help him prepare and that we would come back to teach him more about the church. It reminded me of that scripture, If ye shall bring but one soul unto him, how great shall be your joy. I felt that on that Monday afternoon. Didn't even matter that it was all practice. Now we're teaching him more about the commandments and whatnot to help prepare him. I think we get a new investigator next Monday, so I'm excited about that. The whole experience helped strengthen my testimony not only of the power of the Spirit, but also of the gift of tongues too. Because I was pulling out words I had no idea I even knew in there.
Most of the rest of the MTC is pretty basic. Wake up, gym, breakfast, study, class, lunch, study, study, dinner, class, study, bed. That's a pretty typical day. I have never studied so much in my life, it's insane. But I'm learning a lot and I'm feeling more and more ready every day to head out to New York and get started on the real thing.
Anyways, my time is about up here, so I hope all is well at home. I miss you guys a lot and appreciate all the letters and things you send me. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Elder Erickson

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Adventure Begins!

I head out tomorrow to the Missionary Training Center. I'll be there for two months, learning how to teach the gospel in Spanish and all sorts of good stuff. My flight leaves at like 7:45 in the morning, so getting up for that will be fun. I report at 12:50 and then the adventure really begins.

Each week, when I send my email to my parents telling about my week, they're going to put it up here so anybody who cares can read about what I'm doing.

If you'd like to write me while I'm in the MTC, my address is:
Elder Kaleb Julian Erickson
MTC Mailbox # 243
NY-NYCS 1022
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

I would love to hear from anybody willing to write to me. My address will change when I get out to New York, so I'll have my parents update it on here as needed.

I am very excited to be able to teach the people of New York and I hope I'll have some good stories to write home about!

In the meantime, here are some pictures from the open house last Sunday.