Wednesday, August 28, 2013

52nd Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

A Slow Start    written August 26, 2013

This was the first Sunday with our new bishop. Things aren't magically perfect, but the wheels of improvement are definitely in motion. Ward council still resulted in a lot of pointless arguing, but at least the bishop took control and gave out assignments. If people will actually do them, we will get things moving again. It will be great.
The party got started last Tuesday. I had an exchange with one of the zone leaders. Every transfer the district leaders have to go on an exchange with one of the zone leaders. I was with Elder McDonald. It was a pretty uneventful day. We did the usual missionary stuff. It was interesting because he is an English elder and I'm Spanish. So he would talk to English people and I would talk to Spanish. We only had one lesson that day, but I just taught it. It went pretty well. He tried to keep up with our conversation, but the guy we were teaching liked to talk really fast. I was struggling to keep up, so McDonald didn't have much of a chance. It still went well though. He gave us some deli sandwiches that were super tasty. It was a great day.
Wednesday we went to visit a family that we dropped from teaching a while back. We found out that the mother had recently had a stroke, so we made them cookies and went to see how she was doing. She was in bed, so we chatted with her husband for a bit. They were very grateful to us for the cookies, it was nice to take them over to show that we still care about them.
Thursday was my year mark! Hurray! There was a practice that day for a big musical event in Queens. Four people from my zone were asked to be in it, so we all traveled out to the practice. It's funny how long it takes to get from Brooklyn to Queens by train. It's ridiculous. But we went and practiced and we're going to perform at a food court in Queens in September. It should be fun.
Friday we finally had a much needed interview with Brother Cuevas, the now 1st counselor in the bishopric. He has been placed in charge of missionary work, so we met with him and discussed what we were going to do in the ward with missionary work. It was really helpful. That's where we finally finalized English classes to start on September 3rd.
Saturday we had the year mark celebration. There's another elder in my district, Elder Goates, who was in the MTC with me. So it was both of our year marks. And it was one of the sister's 6 month marks. So we all went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. It was awesome. There is nothing like a party at Buffalo Wild Wings. The day continued when we had a meeting with the ward mission leader and he randomly decided to bring us a pizza for dinner. Such a great day.
So things are going well. Not immediately better, but definitely looking up. And what more can I really ask for?
Elder Erickson

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

51st Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

New Bishop    written August 19, 2013

Yesterday was a glorious day. We finally got a new bishop! Things are finally going to start moving in this ward! Now we just need to get English classes going and we would be unstoppable!
Not too much happened this week. We had a number of appointments and they managed to all cancel on us. Not entirely sure how that happened. But that's just mission life. We did manage to throw a semi-successful movie night on Friday though. We had a number of members come and brought a bunch of food. We watched Wreck-It Ralph. I only saw bits and pieces, but it looks like a very cute movie.
The coolest part of this week took place part on Saturday and part on Sunday. Elder Goates and Elder Adams had a baptism for a young man named Kevin they have been working with. He is only ten years old, but he is a sharp kid. His mother is a less active member who hasn't come to church in a number of months. Kevin had only been to church a couple of times, but he loved it and wanted nothing more than to get baptized. They had a neighbor who is an active member named Sister Bonilla. Every Sunday since the missionaries first met with Kevin, he has gone over to Sister Bonilla's house every Sunday morning to knock on her door and get a ride to church. He has been showing up an hour early every week because he is so excited to go to church.
So the elders taught him the lessons and prepared him for baptism. His mother also wanted him to get baptized. Although she still had not been to church yet. The baptism was on Saturday and the mother came with her sister and her sister's kids who are also less active members. The baptism went well, Kevin was excited, there was lots of food afterwards. On Sunday he was confirmed a member of the church. When I interviewed him for baptism, he asked me how to know if you are feeling the spirit. I told him that was a very good question. I discussed with him how every person feels it differently. It might come as a feeling in his heart or good thoughts to his mind, or he might just feel happy. He would have to figure it out on his own. After sacrament meeting, Kevin came up to me. He told me that after he got confirmed, he was praying to Heavenly Father. And he felt a warm feeling in his heart! He was so excited to tell me that he now knows how to feel the spirit and so now he'll be able to follow the gift of the Holy Ghost when it tried to tell him things. On top of that, Elder Goates talked with his mother, who came to church. She told him that she felt something at the baptism that she hasn't felt in a long time. And she has come to the conclusion that she needs to come back to church. She said that she knows this is where she needs to be. She even paid tithing for the first time in a year yesterday. 

It was just really cool to see things work out for this sweet family. I'm excited to see the two of them in church every week. And we even got an appointment to have dinner with the mother's less active sister this week, so hopefully we'll get her coming back to church soon too.
That's the inspiring story for the week. The church is true and the Gospel changes lives. That's the key to missionary work. It wouldn't work any other way.

Elder Erickson

Friday, August 16, 2013

50th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

The Hammer of Thor     written August 9, 2013

The week started off pretty slow because of transfer meeting on Tuesday.
There was a leader's meeting afterwards that took up a lot of time. Nothing
too exciting at transfer meeting. Our whole zone stayed pretty much the

Things got exciting on Wednesday. Elder Goates managed to set up four
appointments in between the hours of 6 and 7:30. So they called us to see
if we could set up some splits to make these appointments happen. I went
with Elder Adams and we first visited a less active family. That was a very
sad visit. They are good people. But when I finally got down to asking them
why they stopped coming to church, I was not prepared for the flood that
was coming. He went off. He talked for about 20 minutes straight about all
the hypocrisy and back-biting of members at the church. He had beef with
the bishop, with the missionaries, and with the members. And it was all
legitimate too. There may have been other factors as well, but everything
he told me sounded pretty believable for our ward. I apologized for the
actions of people in the past and tried to explain to him that the church
is perfect but the people are not. He told me that he knows. He says that
he doesn't have anything against the doctrine of the church. But if the
people are going to act like this, then he doesn't want any part in it. He
said that he might come back someday. But right now he's just not sure what
he needs to do.

So as Elder Adams and I contemplated that visit, we headed to our next
appointment. And on the way, we found a film crew up on Flatbush Ave. As we
walked by, one of them asked us if we wanted to be on TV. Well obviously we
said yes. They were from the History Channel and they asked us to walk
down the street and then walk back towards them. So we went off. And
as we walked back, this dude came up to us in a lab coat, dragging
this box behind him. He stops us and asks if he can ask us some
questions. The camera was still on us, so we were like sure. He pulls
out a rubber bike tube and asks if he had a giant slingshot made of
these, what would be a cool thing to launch with it. We were not
prepared to come up with ideas for things to launch. And he didn't
really explain why we were launching it. It was confusing. But we
threw out some random ideas. The best one we had was to launch a
cornucopia of food. He actually wrote it down in his idea book. Then
he left. We talked to the film crew afterward and it turns out the
idea they're looking for is to launch a giant paper airplane. Like we
were going to think of that.

Not too much else happened for the rest of the week. We had a fun ward
party on Saturday afternoon. They all met at Prospect Park and we had
a bbq and played soccer. There was a surprisingly good turnout and we
had a fun time with the ward.

The real party was on Sunday though. Saturday evening I got a call
from the bishop. It turns out one of the speakers for Sunday dropped
out and he asked if one of the missionaries could speak. I asked if
anybody was interested in speaking, nobody volunteered. That meant I
was up. I was kind of frustrated with it at first. But then I saw a
golden opportunity to finally make things happen in this ward. So I
crafted a baller talk. I talked about the mission vision and about the
scripture in Isaiah that talks about strengthening the stakes and
lengthening the cords of our tent. Then I told them that things really
aren't working right now. We can only do so much without your help.
And we really need your help. Then I began to talk about all the
things that need to start happening in the ward before we will see any
success in missionary work. In essence, I declared myself the son of
Odin and then dropped the hammer of Thor on the ward. It was awesome.
It's funny to look back to a year ago in the MTC when we would freak
out about having to write a three minute talk every Sunday. And know
I'm pulling out 15 minute condemning talks. I have come a long way in
the last year.

I was worried about offending people, but the bishop told me that the
ward needed this and thanked me for it. So hopefully we start to see
some improvements or at the very least some changes around here. But
until then, we'll just keep chugging along. It's all we can do. Until
next week.

Elder Erickson

Sunday, August 11, 2013

49th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

Quick Update     written August 5, 2013

There's really not too much to report this week. It's the end of another transfer and we're headed into another transfer. Where hopefully we can finally get the ball rolling with missionary work in Midwood Spanish.
Our quest to re-activate people in the ward continues. We met with a less active from Honduras last week. People from Honduras are the best. He made us baleadas. Which are a Honduranean food. It's essentially a flour tortilla with mashed beans, cream, and cheese on the inside. But they are incredible. He likes to throw chiles inside of his baleadas, that was a good call too.
We continue to work with Efrain. We had a break through, then we suddenly lost it all. We met with him on Thursday and had a really cool lesson with him. He was confused about a number of things, so I convinced him to kneel with us and ask a prayer for direction. He did and we waited a bit to receive an answer. Afterwards, he told us that he felt something different this time. He wasn't quite sure what it was. But it felt like when he takes the sacrament. I brought up baptism again and he was willing to consider it as an option. He committed to go home and pray again about getting baptized in this church. We thought that all was well. But then when we met with him again on Sunday, everything had changed. He had an entirely different thought on the whole matter. And no longer was he willing to put baptism on the table as an option. It was a really disappointing lesson. We may have to drop him this week because he more or less told us that he doesn't have an open mind to accept the story of Joseph Smith. It's really sad, but hopefully he'll figure it out someday.
I think the best part of the week was on Sunday when Ramon Luna passed the sacrament. He's the young man in the less active family we've been working with. He just received the Aaronic Priesthood last week and it was so cool to see him passing the sacrament. The Luna family has really come a long way since I first met them.
Life is going well out here. The work is slow, but it's starting to progress. This Tuesday is the start of a new transfer. We're only losing one of our two sisters here. We will miss her, but it will be fun to have somebody new in the area. Aside from that, we're all staying the same. I'm excited for another transfer with Elder Rodgers. He is great, I couldn't ask for a better companion.
Here's to another transfer of good times!
Elder Erickson

Sunday, August 4, 2013

48th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

City Life...   written July 29, 2013

So life continues here in Brooklyn. Really not very much happened this week. We had probably three events that were notable during the week.

The first was on Wednesday evening. We had another lesson with Efrain. We have been working with him to try to help him understand the importance of praying about the Book of Mormon, but for some reason he's afraid to do it. So we explained why it's important to know this, why his past baptism and spiritual experiences were important and how he needs to act if he ever wants to receive new knowledge. It took a lot of discussion, but by the end of it, he finally seemed to understand the fact that he needs to act. That he needs to do something if he wants to get any answers. He agreed to go home and pray about the Book of Mormon. We were going to meet with him after church yesterday, but he didn't come. So we need to get back in touch with him to follow up on it. Hopefully this Wednesday we can finally sit down with him and progress some more.

Friday was the next adventure. There's a member in our ward named Hermano Corzo who invited us over to have dinner. His wife is not a member and he wanted us to meet her. So we went over to find his house. And this woman answers the door. She's white and is speaking to us in English. Not super weird, because Hermano Corzo speaks some English too. She tells us how sorry she is because Corzo isn't home right now and she doesn't know when he'll be back. We told her that was fine that we could just wait for a bit. So she decides to start talking with us while we wait. It turns out this is Hermano Corzo's wife. And she doesn't speak a lick of Spanish. Which is weird, because Hermano Corzo really doesn't speak English that well. And this woman is crazy. She is telling us about how her house is haunted and there's all these demons living in the house and they try to impersonate people she knows. She liked to compare her house to the horror house in Amityville. She was going off on this stuff. Then Hermano Corzo came home. He joined us as she continued telling us about how their house is haunted and how she really wants to move. Elder Rodgers and I weren't quite sure what to do. We just sat and listened. She also kept telling us how she really wants a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup because the chocolate and the peanut butter combination is really healthy for you. She is insistent on that fact. It was unreal. It was like a scene from a movie. This woman must have talked for a half an hour. We didn't know what to do, so we just kept listening. Eventually Hermano Corzo was like, hey we're going to go have dinner, so I'll see you in a half an hour. Then he left, so we followed. We went to a Mexican restaurant and had a nice dinner with Hermano Corzo. It was quite the adventure. We're not really sure what to think about it all.

The last of the good times was on Saturday with the baptism of Sheyla Luna. We have been working with the Luna family for a while. They are a less active family in the ward. Sheyla just turned 8 last month and didn't know what baptism was until we came and explained it one day. The cool part about it all was that the family started coming back to church and the father was able to baptize his daughter and confirm her. I was worried about the ward not supporting the baptism, but it turned out that quite a few people came. It was a really nice event. I gave the talk about the Holy Ghost and it was so cool to see this father confirm his daughter a member of the church and give her this wonderful gift. It wasn't a convert baptism or anything, but I'm simply happy for the fact that I helped this family progress in the Gospel together. We're now working with them to help the family get sealed in the temple within the next couple of months. I love the Luna family, they are great.

Anyways, that's more or less what's going on in the world over here. Things are progressing slowly with our bishopric, but hopefully we'll get our new bishop in the next week or so. Then things will really get going. It will be a party.

Elder Erickson