Thursday, October 31, 2013

61st Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

A Return Visit to the Rock written October 28, 2013

The week started off with another exchange. As district leader, I'm supposed to do an exchange with each member of my district every transfer. And I kept putting this one off until the last week for whatever reason. It wasn't too eventful of a day. I was with Elder Hellewell, Elder Goates' companion. He is from Linden, Utah, and he came out at the same time as Elder Spencer. He was actually in the same MTC district as him. He and I taught a lesson to their investigator, Alberto that night before English classes. It was a pretty cool lesson. We taught the Plan of Salvation and at the end, we committed him to be baptized on the 17th of November. He was kind of hesitant, so I told him that I wanted him to simply pray about that date and discuss the idea with his Heavenly Father. It didn't mean that he was committed to the date, but that he would discuss it with someone who knows exactly what he needs. And he liked that idea. He's going to report back on the prayer in their next meeting. Hopefully that goes well and we can make that happen in the next couple of weeks. 

Elder Kaleb Erickson at 5 Points in Queens

Wednesday was the most successful day of the week. We went out again with Elder Brodowski, one of the Brazilian missionaries. We didn't have any appointments, but we went out to try and look up some old names. We found a guy that we had met a while ago at some soccer fields. He told us we were welcome at his house any time, so we dropped by. His name is Oracio, he is a way cool guy. He had a copy of the Book of Mormon sitting underneath his coffee table. We chatted for a while and got to know him. We invited him to church and asked if he would meet with us again next week. He was hesitant about church, but told us we could come back for sure. Then he asked us if he could have a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon. Well of course! He didn't come to church, but hopefully the lesson next week goes well and we can start working with him and his wife. We also met with another family that night. I knew very little about them, but when we got there, we found out that the father is the nephew of a woman in our ward and they have met with missionaries before. They weren't too pumped about learning more, but we invited them to our ward party on Friday and they were really excited about that. Then they gave us hot chocolate and bread. Sounds like a success to me.

On Friday, we had the greatest ward party of all time. It's called Noche de Hispanidad. Which means Hispanic Night. And it is the best idea ever. Essentially, everyone shows up and brings a food specific to their country, then we have a giant potluck dinner. It's absolutely incredible. Granted, it started like an hour and a half late. But it was amazing. We ate so much. I'm going to make a bold decision and say that all-around, the best table was the Dominican table. They had the best stuff overall. Though each table definitely had their gems. It was just a fun night of food and good people. The missionaries decided to bring green jello as our contribution to the party. I thought it was rather fitting. They also had some native dances from Mexico and Ecuador and one member from El Salvador sang a song that he wrote. It was a really great night.

Sunday was the fun trip back to Far Rockaway. I guess to celebrate the one year mark since Hurricane Sandy, they wanted to do a big event where everyone gathers on the beach and holds hands in a big chain and they take a picture of it and have a small program to say hey we're the Rockaways and we're coming back after Sandy! Or something along those lines at least. We had to leave right as church got out to make it down there. And that was going to be a push to try to make it on time anyways. It's about an hour trip by bus from us to the Rockaway Peninsula. We made it there about 20 minutes late. Bummer. But I was there with my whole district and 4 of the 5 of them have never seen this area before. So I took them for a small tour of the best sights on Belle Harbor. Which essentially include the beach, the Manhattan skyline, and the sunset. And it was a great moment in all of our lives. It was beautiful out there. We were there for maybe 45 minutes, but it was a really nice visit. I even found a family that I helped a year ago. They don't remember me, but I talked with them for a bit and found out how they are doing. They said it's still a struggle, but they're not giving up. They keep fighting every day and they will get their house back to normal soon. That's the Belle Harbor spirit I remember. There are some great people out there.

So it was a good week. We found out on Saturday night, that I will be here for one more transfer. I'm staying for one more round with Elder Spencer. So we're going to make it a good run here. See if we can start making some good progress with the base of people that we've created. It should be a fun transfer.

Elder Erickson

Thursday, October 24, 2013

60th Epistle From Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

The Funky Week     written October 21, 2013

This week was funky. We had President's interviews last Monday, so that switched our p-day to Tuesday. Which in-turn just threw off the whole week. But it was still a good time.

We got to work with another Brazilian visa waiter on Wednesday. We had a number of people to visit and somehow it turned out that nobody was home. Not one of them. So we ended the day at Taco Bell. Not a bad substitute. Disappointing, but it happens. We gave out some English class advertisements along the way, so it went well.

Thursday was an interesting day because my companion had his temple trip. And Elder Goates' companion also had his temple trip. So Goates and I got to be companions for a day again. Those are always fun days. It was a pretty slow day, but we had a good time just chatting about life. The other missionaries taught English class that night while we went to an appointment. But that one cancelled as well, so we ended up coming back to help out for the last bit.

Friday I had an exchange with the zone leaders. Because I'm district leader, I have an exchange with them once a transfer. So I went over to their apartment and stayed the night while one of them came to our apartment and stayed there with Spencer. It might have been a more exciting event, except the zone leaders were prepping for a big less-active blitz the next day. And since I was in their area, I spent most of the day helping him put together these papers and assignments to hand out to people. Not a bad time, just not the most exciting. Somebody's got to do it, right? We had a correlation meeting that day with our ward mission leader. Those usually end poorly. But last Friday, we had the most successful correlation meeting I have ever seen in this area. It was a miracle. He wasn't angry with us, he didn't repeatedly tell us things to do better, he actually told us that we're good missionaries. And he bore this sweet testimony about how grateful he is for all the missionaries and how we're going to be blessed and our families as well. It was really cool.

Which then brings us to Saturday. All of the missionaries in Brooklyn came to our area for the epic less-active blitz again. We did it in the morning this time. We actually found people for a change, so that was exciting. Of the 6 houses we knocked, we found people at 5 of them. I call that a good day. The rest of the day involved playing soccer with some members and an investigator and visiting with a less active member.

Even though it wasn't the most exciting week, it was still a good one. I always enjoy my time with the people here. It is fun to work with people and see them progress over time. Life is good, hope all is well with you guys.

Love you!
Elder Erickson

Saturday, October 19, 2013

59th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

New Investigator Week      written October 15, 2013

I know. What a great title. It's been roughly four transfers since I had a new investigator at church. What up. It was a good week.

Things got started with a fun exchange with Elder Goates. He and I have been friends for a year now, ever since the MTC. And it's just fun to walk around Brooklyn with him. Not a whole lot happened that day, but we taught a bomb English class that night.

Wednesday involved doing service at Prospect Park and another round with a Brazilian elder. Those are always an adventure. It was a different elder this week. He was a bit more gung-ho about his Portuguese and the guy we visited really struggled to understand him. It was still a good time though. We also visited the Quispe family, a super-less active family we've been trying to get to for a while. He is from Peru and he speaks super fast Spanish. It was just to give this elder a taste of what it will be like when he gets to Brazil. These people will talk so freaking fast and good luck understanding them. He was chill about it though, it was another successful night with a Brazilian visa waiter.

Thursday was the big day. We had a huge meeting with all of the missionaries in Brooklyn and Staten Island. And the AP's introduced us to Facebook. It's weird. We're supposed to use it for proselyting here and among our non-member friends back home. But the purposes behind it were very vaguely explained. And a lot of the rules of it were poorly explained as well. So I feel like a lot of it will be experimenting and trying to figure things out as we go. It will certainly be an adventure.

That was also the day we first met with Samuel. He is a guy who has been coming to English classes. He asked me for a Spanish Bible. I was more than happy to hook him up. When I gave it to him, I asked if he would come meet with us to hear a special message about Jesus Christ. So we met with him on Thursday before English classes. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and explained how it works with the Bible to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. He seemed to like it and told us he was already planning to come to church that week. We were so pumped about it. He showed up to church about 15 minutes late, but he brought his cousin and he loved it. He thought the whole thing was great. He didn't stay for the full three hours, but I'll take what I can get. We've got another lesson with him tonight, so we're really excited. Hopefully things go well with him.

Friday we had a very interesting experience. We have been teaching the Castro family for a while. I'm pretty sure I mentioned them last week. We go over there every Friday to meet with Eddie and Rosie and sometimes with their son, Jeremiah. But we went overon Friday to meet with them and they told us how glad they were that we came. They hadn't really ever said that before, so we wondered what was up. It turns out that Rosie had recently lost her job and they were having some legal issues with their son because he's adopted. But because of all the stress and whatnot, Rosie was really having a tough time and she had gotten sick. So we listened to all of their woes and then we shared D&C 121 with her, my favorite when trials come around. Then we gave her a blessing. It was cool because after we finished she told us that she already felt better. It felt significant to me because I felt like I had actually helped somebody after we walked out of their house. I felt like I had made a difference in their lives that night, no matter how small. And even though it was probably more from the spirit and the blessing than anything, I was still there and helped Rosie and Eddie feel loved. Eddie then came to church this last Sunday. The first time he has come since February. If that's not a miracle, then I don't know what is.

Saturday was fun because we got to travel out to another area to help them out with a singing street sweep again. Singing on the streets of Brooklyn and talking to random people is always a good time. Then Sunday brought in the end of the week. It was so cool to see Samuel at church with his cousin and to see Eddie and Rosie together for the first time at church. It was just a great day overall. Even though ward council went long and accomplished nothing, it was okay in my book.

So life is just grand here. Every companionship in my district now has at least one investigator. We haven't seen this for like five or six transfers here now. This is incredible. And looking back, it's amazing to see how far we've come in just three transfers. From a less-active bishop and a bishopric that did nothing and wouldn't let us visit less-actives or teach English classes. We now have a great bishopric that runs ward council every other week. We teach English classes three times a week. And we even have less-actives coming back because of our efforts. We really have come a long way here. Even though we may not be baptizing anybody, these things had to be done before anybody could be baptized here. And I'm happy to have played a role in laying the foundation to make it possible in the future. Thanks for everything and I love you guys so much.

Elder Erickson

Monday, October 7, 2013

58th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

Conference!                    Written October 7, 2013

Well it was another week of funky weather here in Brooklyn. Mother Nature needs to make up its mind already. Courtesy of climate change, I managed to come down with a cold last Tuesday. So that was super fun. Luckily we were just teaching English classes that night, so I was able to rest while Elder Spencer helped out with teaching.

I was feeling mostly better by Wednesday evening, which was important because we had a really cool lesson that night. In our mission, we just had a bunch of missionaries come in who are supposed to go to Brazil. But their visas haven't come through yet, so they were reassigned to serve here until they get their visas. We have two of these visa waiters in the English district in our area. They are both in trios, although one of them got put with an English companionship and the other got put with a companionship that teaches entirely in Haitian Creole. Not super convenient for somebody who's trying to learn Portuguese. I question why that was done. But no matter. I felt bad for this guy, Elder Miller, always struggling to understand what was going on in Creole. So I talked with their district leader and I got to take him out teaching with us on Wednesday night. The original plan involved Elder Spencer going with a member, so that Elder Miller could have a chance to not be in a trio. But that fell through, so we just went all three of us to the lesson. I had Elder Miller plan the whole lesson and teach it in Portuguese. It was really cool, the less-active member we taught understood probably 80% of everything he said. And the stuff he didn't understand I just translated into Spanish for him. It was awesome. And I can understand Portuguese too! That was cool, to hear a different language and yet I can just kind of pick out what he's saying. It was just a cool night altogether. Elder Miller was so happy because he understood what was going on for the first time since coming to the mission field. We have since made it a Wednesday night tradition. We're going to alternate with the other visa waiter too, but we're going to get these guys a chance to start teaching in their assigned language for a change. I think it will be a lot of fun.

Moving on from there, we also had a cool day on Friday. We have been working with the Castro family for a while now. The mother got baptized last January and the husband got baptized about a year ago. She still comes when she doesn't have to work, but he has since fallen back into working every Sunday. He hasn't come to church since like January. We have been going over there every Friday to visit with them. They are a really cool family and it's always nice to visit with them, but we had kind of run out of things to share. You can only tell a person that he needs to come to church so many times before it gets pretty old. So we decided to switch up our tactics and talk about conversion instead. That was last week's lesson. We got to eat dinner with them this week, which was way tasty. Brother Castro sure does know how to cook. Then we pulled a complete audible on our lesson. We had something completely different planned, and we ended up talking about how to feel the Spirit for an hour with them. It didn't feel like a lesson, so much as a friendly discussion. And Brother Castro has never participated so much in a lesson before. It was awesome. He actually engaged in conversation with us for a change instead of just us teaching. And at the end, he even asked us a question about how he can help a friend who is struggling. He has never once asked us a question or asked us for help. This was the greatest lesson ever. After months of visits, we have finally managed to gain his trust. I don't know what changed. But I am so glad that it did. Hopefully we'll be able to start making some real progress now with him.

Those are the fun stories from the week. The rest of Saturday and Sunday were pretty much all consumed by watching conference. Although what a great conference it was. I quite enjoyed it. Our ward threw a food party in between the two sessions on Sunday. It was epic. All the members brought a bunch of food and we had the English ward combine with us to have a sweet lunch. No better way to celebrate conference than epic amounts of food.

Things are going well out here. We're just chugging along. The transfer is only halfway over and I think we're still going to do a lot of good before the end of this six-week run. Love you guys and hope all is well!

Elder Erickson

Friday, October 4, 2013

57th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Brooklyn, New York

The Week of Sukot written Sept 30th, 2013

It was a fun week here in Brooklyn. Granted, we really don't have much to do with the Jews and we didn't participate in the week of Sukkot in any way, shape, or form. But it was still fun to walk around and see all of the Sukkots in the street. I like to see when fast food places have them outside that way they can still have Jewish customers. Genius.

So the English ward in Midwood has a list of some 750 less active members that the Stake President is really concerned about. On Wednesday there was an epic less-active blitz organized with all of the missionaries in Brooklyn. We had 70 missionaries in this area, all looking up these names for the English ward. Everybody was split up so we all had new companions for four hours while we searched. It was a lot of fun. I got to be companions with an old friend of mine, Elder Hernandez, and we just went out and looked up addressed. We only found one person on our list, but she happened to be from Puerto Rico, so she spoke Spanish. We chatted for a bit, but she didn't want anything to do with our church. It may not have been a successful night for us, but other people had some pretty good success. I just had a fun time wandering around Brooklyn with Elder Hernandez.

On Friday we had a full night of teaching, it was great. We have kind of made it a tradition to go every Friday with a member in the ward. His name is Miguel Aparicio, a 25 year old return missionary from El Salvador. Way cool dude. I think I've written about him before, but I can't remember. He teaches us Spanish and we teach him English. It's a great deal. But we went out with him and we taught three lessons to less-active members. It was awesome. That's my kind of missionary night.

Saturday was interesting as well because Elder Goates and Elder Hellewell both got sick throughout the day. So the day started with me going with Elder Hellewell to find a referral way in the outskirts of our area. Then, by about 5, he had gotten sick too. So Elder Spencer and I took over their appointment for the night. We went and taught some kids who are members but their parents aren't. They go over every week to help keep the kids solid, so we got to visit for a change. And we got some good Dominican food. Can't go wrong there. After that, we had just enough time to hit up our other appointment with a less active member who is now taking the temple prep classes to return to the temple! I am so excited about that. I've been trying to get him to take these classes for a while, so I'm glad this is finally working out.

That's about it, currently. Not too much going on out here. We finally got our first new investigator from English classes. He was looking for a church to join and Elder Goates and Hellewell taught him the first lesson. It went well and he wants to meet with them again, so we're excited about that. Hopefully he is the first of many to come.

All is well here, hope you guys are doing well too. Thank you for your love and prayers!

Elder Erickson