Thursday, August 14, 2014

101st Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Golfing and Good Times written on August 11, 2014

We are finally back down to just two of us here in Patchogue. Well, two elders at least. Now it's just me and Elder Morrell and the two sister missionaries. Elder Van Mondfrans had a good last run here. He went out in the blaze of glory that he wanted. And by that, I mean it was a quiet event without much fanfare. He was working up until the last hour, just like he dreamed. We did our epic three way split, like we usually do on Tuesday nights. I stayed to teach English class and the other two went out with members to teach. Elder Morrell didn't have much success and he was back by 8. But Elder Van made all sorts of things happen and wasn't back until 9:30. He was a champ.

The next morning we took him to the mission office and the APs took him to JFK with some other missionaries who were going home that same day. It was pretty simple. We just said goodbye and drove back to Patchogue. Not much to it. It's pretty different without him, but it's good. It's a lot calmer with only two people instead of three. And there's not as much going on in lessons now.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it last week, but there is a new member in our branch. He is from Honduras, he's 26 and he's a return missionary. He came here to study and work for a while. He doesn't have much to do in his spare time, so he is always asking to come teaching with us. We took him to visit the Araujo family. They have been investigating for a long time and haven't really gotten anywhere. They've been to church three times since I started in Patchogue. It's a big family, they have four kids under the age of 18. We took Allen to visit them and he connected with them really well. The parents thought he was way cool and he was chatting it up with them the whole time. They didn't end up coming to church this week, but they made a good friend with Allen. So hopefully if he can keep coming with us to teach them, we'll finally get somewhere with them.

He also came with us all day after church yesterday. We had some appointments set up and he just came with us to all of them. Some fell through, so we just looked up people nearby. It was a really sweet day. We taught four lessons with him in three hours. That's not bad at all. We even found a new investigator for the sisters. We were doing good work with Allen. He is good with people and is Hispanic, so other Hispanics love him. We're excited to keep working with him.

The other big event of the week was a multi-zone less active blitz on Saturday evening. They brought three zones of missionaries together in an area called Bay Shore to split up and look up less actives there. We all got mixed up with different companions and they gave us a list of people to go find and instructions on what to do. I got paired up with a member from the Bay Shore ward, Brother Engleby. He was a pretty cool guy. We didn't have too much luck with the less actives, but I met a number of Hispanics and got their info for the Spanish missionaries there to go back another time. It was a lot of fun because there were a lot of missionaries at the event. I got to see a lot of my friends from other areas. Elder Hart was there and so was Elder Spencer and some people I knew from Midwood. It was great. We all went to Taco Bell afterwards to celebrate the good times.

This morning we went golfing with our branch mission leader. He works landscaping on a way nice golf course, so he told us we could come golf for free. We have been talking about going for months and we finally went today. It was a lot of fun. I'm not very good at golfing, but Elder Morrell and Sister Keele are. We would all hit a ball and then we would play whichever was the best hit. It made it easier to keep up with everyone because we weren't really competing. I'm still not very good at golf, but I think I got a bit better by the end of the day. I'm glad we finally went, Julio was excited to see us there.

And thus begins the last week of adventures. We've got some good things planned, it should be a good week. I'm returning my ipad tomorrow, so I'll be out of the loop and back to carrying normal scriptures all the time. Should be good.

Love,    Elder Erickson

100th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Parties and Good times Written August 4, 2014

Another week down. This was Elder Van Mondfrans' last full week with us. He's got two days left. Wednesday morning, we're going to drop him off at JFK and then it's just me and Elder Morrell for the last week and a half. It's going to be an adventure. It always is.

We didn't have a ton of appointments this week. We had lots of things set up, but we also had lots of things fall through. We had our classic three way split on Tuesday evening. I stayed with Julio to teach English again and the other two went out with members to find people. It wasn't a roaring success, but they met with one or two people. I had fun teaching English again. I always have a good time there.

We had our zone leader exchange on Wednesday. The district leader is supposed to go on an exchange with the zone leaders once a transfer. So Elder Morrell went with one of the zone leaders to their area and the other zone leader stayed in a trio with me and Elder Van Mondfrans. It's funny how different it felt without Elder Morrell there. We really only had two things happen that day. There was an older woman in our branch from Argentina who moves out to New York every summer to live. She had to go back home early, so she called us to have us over for lunch one last time before she left. She is a very nice lady. She doesn't know how to cook beef, but insists on feeding us hamburgers every time. So we always go in and make sure that she cooks them for long enough. She's sweet, I'll miss her. Our other appointment for the day was with the Romero family. This was my first time meeting with them. They are interested in learning English and are willing to listen to a spiritual thought afterward. It's not my favorite setup because you know they only really want to learn English. But at least they're willing to listen and maybe they'll get something out of it. I still enjoy teaching people English, regardless of whether they want to learn how to pray or not.

Thursday was the day of our departing interviews with President Calderwood. So we had to drive out to Queens in the morning to be at the mission office. The interview went well. There wasn't much to it, he just kind of asked about my plans for the future and encouraged me to continue reading and praying every day. I guess that's really the most important to do. On our way back, we stopped to visit with somebody that Elder Van Mondfrans knew from Queens. He took us to a restaurant and we had some Peruvian chicken. It was great. Nothing like some sweet Peruvian cuisine.

One of the sister missionaries here, Sister Shreeve, had a birthday on Thursday. But we were all super busy on Thursday, so we decided to have a surprise party for her on Friday. I baked her a chocolate cake and wrote her name on it in frosting, we got her favorite pizza and soda, and we decorated the Relief Society room for her. She was not expecting anything, so it was a fun surprise.

There's a member in our branch named Luis Flores. He is a very nice guy from El Salvador. He doesn't have much and he only recently moved here. We've been visiting him for a while. He doesn't have a white shirt and tie, so we got one for him and took it over on Friday. I have never seen somebody so excited to put on a white shirt and tie. It was hilarious. We showed him how to tie the tie and he was so happy, checking himself out in the mirror. We left and we saw on Facebook a few hours later, he had someone take a picture of him and put it up. He was so proud of that shirt.

Saturday we had a pretty cool day. We took a young man in the branch out teaching with us. He's actually the only young man in the branch. Josue is his name. He's 16. We taught him, then we went and got pupusas with him. Then we took him to meet with a guy who recently moved into our branch. This guy is a return missionary from Honduras. He stopped going to church for a while, but now he's decided he wants to come back. He was really excited to meet with us. His only problem is that he doesn't have a car and lives a 20 minute drive from the church. We helped him find a ride and he even brought his nephew to church the next day. That was cool.

Not too much happened on Sunday either. It was my last testimony meeting in New York. Elder Van Mondfrans and I both made sure to get up and give our testimonies. It was a really nice meeting. I played the piano and translated for primary again. We didn't have any investigators come to church, but we had two less actives that we hadn't seen in a long time, so that was awesome. The only other big event from Sunday was meeting with Stalin. We are getting back to meeting with him regularly. He's a fun guy to teach. We taught him about the Doctrine of Christ. He always listens intently and asks really good questions. If we could just get him to read and pray and get him to church, I think a lot of his concerns and doubts might be resolved. So now it's just a matter of helping him act. We'll get there someday.

And that's the tale. Only two more weeks of good times here. It will be very different without Elder Van Mondfrans. But it will be good. A little change never hurt anybody.

Love,    Elder Erickson

Sunday, August 3, 2014

99th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Moving Parties... written July 28, 2014

Not too much happened this week. It was still a pretty good week though. We didn't teach a ton of lessons, but we made some good things happen. We started off the week with dinner at our branch president's house. He wanted to make us dinner because Elder Van Mondfrans and I both had birthdays the week before. It was a solid dinner of pork and rice and he shared some scripture about how getting older entails getting wiser and how we need to keep progressing in the Gospel. I don't know. I didn't really get where he was going with it. It was kind of him though.
We had more of teaching English class splits on Tuesday. I stayed to teach with Julio and the other two went out with he branch president. We were hoping to get three members to come so that we could each be accomplishing something. Hopefully we'll be able to pull that off this

We had a lot of appointments fall through this week. It meant lots of looking up people and lots of trying to set up appointments for next week. We met a few new people. All very nice people, but nobody is particularly interested. We'll keep trying with them though. Nobody really of note to mention.

There were three big service events for the week. First one was on Friday evening, a member in our branch was moving. We got some people together and headed over to help her out. She had a ton of stuff and lived in a basement, which made for some tricky maneuvering with some
things. But we managed to get everything into the truck. Elder Van Mondfrans and I had to leave before unloading because we had a lesson. But we left Elder Morrell with Julio and he helped finish the move while we taught. The lesson went alright. His name is Jose Molina. He's not a member, but his wife is. Very nice people. He is always willing to listen and talk, but he's not a huge fan of the Book of Mormon. He loves the Bible so much that he isn't particularly interested in trying a new book. But he still comes to church every week and he recently started reading the Book of Mormon with his wife. We'll see how it goes.

The next day was our big car wash. I guess the branch did one a few years ago and wanted to try it again. We set it up from 9 to 12 and had a big barbecue afterward. We did a bunch of advertising with flyers and posters in Patchogue. They didn't bring anybody in though.
Our biggest draw was our advertising team on the side of the road. We had three sister missionaries and a bunch of kids from the branch out holding signs to get people to come. I went out and ran moral support to keep everybody excited and cheering. It was a lot of fun. We
managed to bring in 8 cars from the street. Not bad for two hours of advertising. We didn't really get anybody interested in coming to church from it, but it was a fun event and we met some very nice people. The barbecue afterwards was way good too.

Right after the barbecue, we headed over to help another woman with a move. She was a friend of a woman in the branch and needed some help. So we all went over. There were lots of things and not very much room in the rental truck. We did some mad Tetris work and managed to get a lot of it in. We still had to make a second trip though. We had to leave, but some other missionaries were able to come and finish up for us. We left to go visit an investigator that the sisters are working with. Her name is Beatrice and she has a 6 year old daughter named Brenda. Brenda apparently came down with a really bad sore throat and was in lots of pain and very scared. So we went over to give her a blessing and to help calm her down a bit. I first met Brenda back in December, so she and I are homies. She was very scared about it all, so we stayed and I chatted with her for a while to help keep her mind off of it. They were planning to take her to the hospital, but ended up taking her to a clinic the next morning. She's doing alright now. She's a tough little girl.

Church wasn't too eventful yesterday. The big event of the day was that Taylor got the priesthood. We've been trying to make that happen for a while, so it was nice to finally have it take place. Taylor asked me to do it so it could be in English. Presidente Mejia apparently had other ideas though. He decided that he would do the blessing and I would translate it into English as he went. That was interesting. It would have been fine, but he would say so much at a time that I would forget parts of it as I went. It all worked out though. Taylor felt good about it, so that's all that matters.

This is our last week with Elder Van Mondfrans. We might have some more moves coming up this week that we're excited to help with. It's definitely going to be an adventure.

Love, Elder Erickson

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

98th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Birthday Week Written July 21, 2014

It was a week full of birthdays. Elder Van Mondfrans' birthday was last Monday. So we celebrated with him by playing handball for a few hours. Then a family in the branch decided to throw a barbecue for him. They had just bought a new grill and were looking for an excuse to put it to good use. When they found out there was a birthday to celebrate, they invited us all over. It was a solid event. They cooked all sorts of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, chicken; it was awesome. They had a bunch of cupcakes that they made into the shape of a 21 and when they found out my birthday was coming up too, they decided to sing to both of us. So we both got the birthday celebration and it was a very nice event.

The next day we got to do splits with members again in the evening. Tuesday is the day that we are in charge of English classes. And I love teaching them. So our new tradition is to split up with Julio every Tuesday. I stay with Julio to teach the classes and Elder Van Mondfrans and Morrell go out to try to find people. It's a solid team. I really enjoy it. The trio isn't bad, but it's nice to have a break from being around two people all the time.

We taught a lot of people this week, but nothing was really too exceptional. There were just a few stories to mention. I mentioned them last week, we are teaching a husband and wife named Danny and Francisca. They're very nice people and willing to listen and ask questions about what we teach. It's fun to teach them because they really try to understand what we're talking about. And they're funny people too. They have the sweetest one year old daughter. She is always smiling and laughing while we're teaching. They are a great family.

On Thursday night, we did splits with Julio again. This time, I went with Elder Morrell and Julio went with Elder Van Mondfrans. Elder Morrell and I headed over to teach the Fajardo family. We are teaching them English in their home and then we share a lesson with them afterward. They are a really funny family too. We weren't sure how interested they are, so our original plan was just to introduce the Book of Mormon and ask them to read a few pages in it. But when we introduced it, they had all sorts of questions. So we ended up teaching the entire lesson on the restoration. It wasn't the most coherent thing we've ever taught, but it got the main points across. They are from Ecuador, so I asked them about a food called cui. It's a food that they eat mostly in the inland, mountainous regions of Ecuador. Cui is pretty much guinea pig. I've always wanted to try cui. I've heard lots of good and bad things about it. When I meet people from Ecuador, I always bring it up, hoping to try to score some cui. They all raved about how great it is. Elder Morrell says that it's nasty, so everybody laughed about that. I made a joke about how the cui are "bien cuidados" and it brought down the house. By the end of the night, they told us they were going to make cui for the next time we come back. Heck yeah.

Cui cooking on the Stove
We went back on Sunday evening. We taught them English, shared the short movie on the story of Joseph Smith with them, then it was time for cui. The mother had cooked up a big pan of it with some potatoes and corn and rice. Elder Van Mondfrans had never tried it either, he was excited too. Elder Morrell was pretty nervous, but agreed to have some as well. It was actually pretty good. No regrets. Not the best meat I've ever had, but it was still pretty good. Lots of bones and the skin was not the tastiest. But it was pretty decent. Check that off the bucket list.

Serving with 3 in the Companionship... after the Cui Meal
Friday was the big 21st for me. It turned out to be a really nice day. I made the whole district go to McDonald's for lunch with me and I made everybody stay for an hour to talk and enjoy free refills. It was a lot of fun. Later that night, we had two lessons. One was with a part member couple named Carla and Jose. Jose isn't a member and he is not super keen on reading in the Book of Mormon. We read Alma 32 with him about the seed of faith. I kind of took over the lesson and made some sweet comparisons about trying new things and how we will never know if something is good until we try it. He seemed to really understand it and by the end of the lesson, was willing to give the book a shot. It was pretty cool. The other lesson was with the Araujo family. They have been on and off with the missionaries for some 5 years now. They just aren't willing to keep many commitments. They have been to church twice in the 8 months I've been here. We taught them about the importance of faith and works and how you need both to make it in life. It was a good lesson. I didn't think they would actually come to church, but by some miracle, they were there on Sunday. The parents and three kids all came to sacrament meeting. I guess they weren't really planning on it, but the mother felt like they should go. And there they were. It was really cool.

We had seven investigators at church yesterday. That's insane. I've never seen that before. It was a miracle. Danny and Francesca came, so did Carla and Jose, and the whole Araujo family. It was an awesome day at church.

So things are still chugging along out here. We have a plan to go on triple splits tomorrow. I'm going to teach English with Julio and the other two are each going to go teaching with a member. It should be fun. We also have a free carwash coming up this Saturday. That one will be interesting too. We'll see how it goes.

Love, Elder Erickson

97th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

All About Threes Written July 14, 2014

It has been a whirlwind of a week. Three is a lot of people to hang out all the time. It's always a party with us. And we're always on the move. I already dubbed us with nicknames from Top Gun. So you know it's good.

It was a melancholy start to the week. Last Monday was Elder Mendez's last day here. We played handball in the afternoon and visited a few people in the evening. We hooked it up with Subway for dinner with Hermano Ibarra and we ended the night visiting our dear friend Julio. We were kicking it with Julio when we got a call from the sister missionaries. Apparently there was a mistake in the transfer calls and Hermana Vasquez was being transferred on the next day. She didn't find out until late Monday night. She had no time to say goodbye to anybody. She was very sad to hear that news. Elder Mendez and I knew she needed some comfort food, so we ran to 7-Eleven and got her some of her favorite chocolates and took them over on our way home. She was very appreciative that we would do that for her. She was doing okay by the time we got there, but everyone was still sad to see her go.

Tuesday morning was a very sad day. It was hard to say goodbye to Elder Mendez. I've been his companion for so long, it was really weird to think that he wouldn't be there the next day. So we lost three people from our district, Elder Coca, Elder Mendez, and Sister Vasquez. We lost all of our Hispanics. Elder Coca is half Bolivian, Elder Mendez's parents are Mexican, and Sister Vasquez is Peruvian. Now we're all pure gringo.

Patchogue District Celebrate 7/11 Day - Free Slurpies
Transfer meeting was pretty uneventful. Not too much happened. Elder Van Mondfrans and I were placed in a trio with Elder Morrell. He is a way cool guy. I remember when he came in the mission, he was in my zone. He has been out for 19 months, so he has some solid experience under his belt. He is our district leader here and Van Mondfrans and I are just the lowly helpers. It's a pretty good balance. The new sister who came in is Sister Shreeve. I don't know her as well, but she was trained by Sister Franklin, who I served with in Midwood. Sister Shreeve is pretty cool so far, I think she's a good addition to the Patchogue family.

So the first night, Elder Van Mondfrans stayed in the mission home with all of the departing missionaries. He is going home four weeks into the transfer, so he went to the departing missionary testimony meeting there. This meant it was just me and Elder Morrell for the first night. We had a sweet drive home and got back just in time to help the sisters teach English class. The next morning we drove out to pick up Elder Van Mondfrans and really start the trio adventure. We visited a number of people throughout the day. Both of our teaching pools are combined now, so we have a lot of people to choose from. There's nobody really progressing very fast, but there are lots of nice and interesting people that we met with. One notable family was Jose and Carla. Carla is from El Salvador and Jose is from Puerto Rico. Which means we can't understand anything he says. I'm not entirely convinced he was speaking Spanish the whole time. They are very nice people though. She is member and he is not. He's not super convinced about the Book of Mormon, but he's willing to listen and ask lots of questions. And he came to church, so that's always good.

That first night was fun because we realized how easily we can go on splits with members now. Elder Van Mondfrans had some appointments that night, but we also had to teach English classes. So we called up our main man Julio. He stayed with me to teach English and the other two went off to the appointments. It was a sweet deal. I'm looking forward to three more weeks of that.

This week was mostly getting to know people. It seems like we'll probably do some more of that this coming week too. There weren't too many really notable events. We met with a really cool family on Saturday, the parents are named Danny and Francesca. They are both Catholic, but listened pretty intently to our lesson. They even asked a number of questions too. They said they couldn't make it to church this wen but would be there for sure the next week. The other event of note was that we met up with a less active named Luis Florez who took us out to eat pupusas. It was glorious.

Church was good yesterday too. We didn't have a ton of people, but I got called up to translate for a speaker from the stake high counsel. That is always an adventure. He had a copy of his talk that he gave to me so I was able to look at some of it ahead of time. But he also liked to deviate from the script and tell personal stories. Great for an interesting talk, bad for your translator struggling to translate your English idioms into Spanish. It was fine though, people in the audience helped me out. In other news from the day, Germany won the World Cup. It was so disappointing. Not as disappointing as Brazil losing 1-7 to Germany, but I was still sad that Argentina lost. The other disappointing thing is that now we have one less conversation topic with people. If only there was always a World Cup playing. It would make conversation starters so much easier.

Love, Elder Erickson

Sunday, July 13, 2014

96th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

World Cup Disappointments    written July 7, 2014

This was my last week with Elder Mendez. We got word that he's going to be transferred tomorrow. I'll be staying here for my last six weeks. The first four of those weeks, I'll be in a trio with the other missionary here, Elder Van Mondfrans. He goes home after four weeks, then it will be me and the third missionary for the last two weeks. It should be an adventure. I'm sad to see Elder Mendez go. We've had a lot of good times together. He's helped me out and taught me a lot over the last four and a half months. But I guess he's needed somewhere else now. Both of the sister missionaries here are staying as well. 

Elder Kaleb Erickson and Elder Mendez in Patchogue, NY
So now, it will be the trio and the two sister missionaries. That's our whole district. Kind of weird. One of the sister missionaries, Sister Keele, has been here with me since I got to Patchogue. She and I were both sent to Patchogue at the same time, but she was just starting and I was coming up on 18 months. After this transfer, she'll be the missionary that I've served with the longest, for nine months straight. Crazy.

This was a heartbreaking week for the World Cup. Every team I rooted for lost this week. It was horrible. Worst of all was the US vs Belgium game. We had dinner at Burger King that day so that we could catch the end of the game. It was so close. I thought we had it for sure. We had to teach English classes right after that. I was wearing my American flag tie to represent my country. The lesson for the day was talking about your feelings, so it was perfect to talk about my devastation. We all laughed together and I made everybody say in English that Belgium was a terrible country. They all thought that was hilarious. It was a fun class.

On Wednesday we scored the best lunch ever with a member in the branch. We ate with the Cortez family and she decided that since it was really hot outside, we should eat cold cut sandwiches. I thought it was a great plan. She had all the fixings. Delicious bread, ham, roast beef, turkey, four kinds of cheese, lettuce, bell peppers, it was incredible. I had three of them. I was in heaven. Later that day, we went over to visit our friends Nancy and Agustin. They were both happy to visit with us for a bit. We taught them about keeping the Sabbath day holy and they said that they were willing to come to church in two weeks. So that was pretty exciting. Then they ordered pizza for us for dinner. That was great too. You can't be mad at free pizza.

Our fourth of July was a pretty fun event too. We didn't have much going on in the afternoon. We had correlation with the branch mission leader and he decided to make us hotdogs to celebrate. Then we headed over to visit the Cortez family again and they had a big party going on. They made a bunch of food; rice, veggies, hotdogs, steak, tortillas, guacamole, pies, it was all incredible. We pigged out, then watched as all the kids lit off little fireworks. There was a lot going on. It was a huge family event, so there were a lot of people there. We just watched and ate and chatted with people, it was nice. It was a good fourth of July.

Saturday was fun because we had a bunch of service to do again. We helped a woman in the English ward with a move. She needed help packing a bunch of stuff into a storage box. It was an intense game of Tetris, but we made it all happen. Then we went over to visit a sweet Argentinian woman who comes to live in Patchogue every summer. She is an older lady and can't do too much work, so we raked all the leaves in her yard for her. She made us chicken and rice to repay us. It was very kind of her. We worked there for about three hours, it was a solid event. The rest of the night we were supposed to go to a firework show with Julio, but he ended up not going, so we went to visit him and his son at his house. Julio is our branch mission leader, by the way. He's a really cool guy.

Sunday involved Mendez going around to visit with people one last time. It's always sad to say goodbye. Even though I'm still staying, it's sad to see people sad that Mendez is leaving. They're going to miss him here. We had a baptism for an 8 year old girl in the branch yesterday too. It was a nice event. Sister Keele and I put together a special song for her, I played and she sang Where Love Is. It turned out really nice. It's nice when baptisms go smoothly.

So the new adventure will begin tomorrow. It is going to be a big change. Three is a lot of people. It should be good though. I'll keep you posted.

Love,  Elder Erickson

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

95th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, NY

The World Cup Brings People Together   written June 30, 2014

This last week started off pretty slow, but things started happening as the week went on. Not every day can be a big adventure. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty uneventful, mostly just teaching English classes in the evening. We've got a few new people coming and it's fun to bring up the world cup during the classes because everybody always has an opinion on who's good and who's not and who's going to win. I'm loving it all.

Thursday was a fun day. Elder Mendez had a trip to the temple and so did one of the zone leaders, so I went on an exchange all day with the other zone leader, Elder Broadbent. We had some fun adventures together. We started off by meeting with Taylor at Starbucks again. It's always funny to meet there because people look at us weird. We taught him about the priesthood to prep him for receiving it soon. He seems pretty excited about it. He's still killing his new job as a salesmen. He recently tied a record for the third most sales in one day. And he did it two days in a row. Solid. Guy is a champ.

We didn't have a ton going on after that, so we drove around and tried to look up people during the afternoon. The most exciting part was when we found out that the US was moving on into the semi finals of the World Cup. They lost to Germany, but Ronaldo pulled through for us, beating Ghana so we could move on. Thanks Ronaldo, you're the best. We didn't have too much success with finding, but Elder Broadbent wanted to go talk with his landlord about something. They live in the second floor of a house. On the first floor live a retired husband and wife. We stopped by and the husband, Rich, had apparently just bought some new fish for his salt water aquarium. He still had them in bags and was slowly introducing them into the water. I guess there was a high difference in salinity, so he had to slowly introduce them into the tank so that they didn't get sick. I was fascinated. Elder Broadbent talked with his wife about temples and family history and I talked with Rich for the next hour about his salt water aquarium. I had no idea how much care and maintenance went into these things. The fish were really pretty too. They were called yellow tangs. He had one, but he bought three more so that they could have a school. He had thirteen fish total in the tank and there were a bunch of coral in there too. I don't think I'd ever want to own a salt water fish tank, but it was cool to learn about and see the fish.

We left from there to go help a family in their ward with a move. There wasn't a ton to do, but we still got free hotdogs out of it for dinner. After that, we headed over to try a Hispanic guy that they had been teaching. He spoke alright English, but there is no Spanish unit in Elder Broadbent's area. If he wants Spanish services, he has to make a twenty minute drive to our chapel. But Elder Broadbent wanted me to speak Spanish with him to try to explain some things more clearly. We sat down with him, he was from Lima, Peru. He didn't want to speak Spanish with me at first, but I wouldn't speak English, so he eventually moved over to Spanish with me. We discussed the Book of Mormon with him. He insisted that it was just a book. We debated how to know whether it was more than a book or not. We got into some interesting discussion about whether organized religion is good or bad and how to deal with the necessity of tithing and funding in a church. He has had some bad experiences with churches taking money and isn't keen on giving money to any more organized religions. In the end, he agreed that God does answer prayers and was willing to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It was a cool lesson and I felt good because I taught it all by myself. Elder Broadbent understands a few words here and there, but he doesn't speak Spanish. So I felt like a hero afterwards.

The next great adventure was on Saturday. I had another exchange with the district leader, Elder Coca. We didn't have a whole lot planned on that day either, so we went out to put up flyers for our English classes. We decided to park our car and walk down the street to hit up all the businesses we could. It ended up being really fun. We walked past an Italian ice cream shop and a few members were just pulling up. They stopped us and insisted that they buy us some ice cream. So we stopped and chatted with them for a while. Then, while we were placing flyers, the game of Chile against Brazil was coming to a close. We saw bits and pieces in the difference stores as we walked. Then, we happened to be in a soccer store right as they were starting the penalty kicks. So, of course, we stopped and watched with the workers in the store. We were all rooting for Chile, so it was a disappointing end. But it was fun to be in this store and cheer with these other people. The World Cup, just bringing random people together on a Saturday afternoon. The last fun thing that happened was that as we were getting back to our car, a woman stopped us and told us she was looking for the Mormon church. She had just moved here from Mexico and didn't know where to find the church, but she recognized us as missionaries. We chatted with her a bit and got her phone number to get in touch with her and visit her sometime. She wasn't sure if she could make it to church the next day, but hopefully the next week she'll be able to come.

It was a fun exchange with Elder Coca. It led up to Sunday. There wasn't much happening on Sunday either. The fun event from the day was that we got invited over to have dinner with a family in the branch, the Usma family. There are a bunch of return missionaries living in New York right now, all here for the summer to sell pest control. Some of them have come to our branch because they served Spanish speaking missions. The Usmas invited them over to share dinner with them and they decided to invite us too. So we all chatted and enjoyed some lasagna and salad. It was great. It's interesting that these guys all only have knowledge about one culture from their missions. They were in that one country and learned about that one culture. But I've been exposed to a bunch of difference cultures out here. I don't know any of them very in-depth, but I know a little bit about a bunch of different countries. It's pretty cool.

And that's the tale for the week. It was a good week. This is probably my last week with Elder Mendez. We've been together for a long time and we're probably being split up at the end of the transfer next week. It was a good run though. Hopefully we'll have a good last hurrah this week.

Elder Erickson

Monday, June 23, 2014

94th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

World Cup Adventures     written June 23, 2014

There's really not too much to report on this week. We had very little going on. Notable lessons were that we got to meet with our friend Stalin Lenin again. He seems to be doing well. He gave us a thorough update on the World Cup and how that's progressing. It's always interesting to talk with people about it because they know so much about it and they always have opinions on all of the big teams. It's funny because all the people here root for their home country and for the United States. Gotta cover all of your bases, I guess. It was a sad tie against Portugal last night. I thought we had it for sure. We happened to be at a member's house for the last bit of the game and saw the goal in the last thirty seconds. It was heartbreaking. I don't even care that much about soccer and I was disappointed. I've been hanging out with too many Hispanics lately, I think.

Aside from the World Cup, we also read with him in the Book of Mormon. He always has lots of questions, I love talking with him. He's not meeting with us out of obligation, he actually wants to learn these things. He asked a lot about Adam and Eve and about Cain and Abel and about evolution and science. Then we got into questions about the afterlife. We gave him a brief rundown of the Plan of Salvation, but we had very little time, so we're going to redo the entire thing this week. He was loving it though, he wants to know more.

We also met with our friends Nancy and Augustin again. They had a friend over when we showed up, so we all chatted about the World Cup. Good times there. Then we shared a message with them all about service. They're interesting because they enjoy listening to us, but aren't very excited about actually doing anything we ask them to. We'll have to keep working with them.

We looked up lots of people and knocked a number of doors, but to no avail. Saturday was the summer solstice, so I organized a trip to 7-Eleven to buy Slurpees to celebrate the start of summer. We got four other missionaries to come, so I consider that a successful summer solstice party.

The main event of the week was on Sunday when Taylor received the gift of the Holy Ghost. We couldn't meet with him during the week, so we met with him before church and taught him about the difference between the presence of the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then, in sacrament meeting, Presidente Mejia confirmed him a member of the church. It was a sweet moment. The rest of church was largely uneventful, though we did get sucked into teaching primary again. We were told to teach about the children of Israel receiving mana and dew every morning. We were supposed to fill 45 minutes. I managed to draw that out for 20 by some miracle, then Elder Mendez just played hangman with them for the rest of the time. It worked out. Then, after church,
our branch mission leader, Julio, threw a barbecue at his house for the missionaries. Julio is so great, he made us a bunch of burgers and hotdogs.

And now we're back to searching for more people to teach. The weather has finally calmed down a bit. Now it's just humid and hot all the time, wonderful. Better than the bitter cold and snow though, I can't complain.

Elder Erickson

Monday, June 16, 2014

93rd Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Taylor was Baptized!!    written June 16, 2014

There were two big events this week. The first one was on Wednesday. A member of the seventy, Elder Nielson, came to visit our mission this last week. So we had a big multi-zone conference on Wednesday with him and his wife. It was an all day event, we left at 8 and didn't get home until 7. Granted, that included stopping at Taco Bell for dinner on the way home. A nice end to a sweet meeting.

He talked about a lot of different things. He had stuff prepared, but apparently he just went off the cuff on a lot of things. He gave us a talk, his wife gave a talk, President and Sister Calderwood both talked, then we had lunch, then returned for like a group workshop by all four of them. It was all really good, I really enjoyed it. There were two musical numbers and I accompanied for both of them. Sister Franklin sang If You Could Hie to Kolob and Elder Hooper played a cool arrangement of Redeemer of Israel on the violin. Both turned out really well.

That night we taught English classes. After the classes were over, Sister Usma, from our branch, came and talked with us. We had a Father's Day party coming up on Friday and she wanted us involved in some of the activities. She wanted us to perform a Father's Day monologue. She showed us a video of these two people in a classroom and one of them is pretending to be a father and he is lip-syncing to a Spanish monologue. We thought it was going to be a comedy of some sort, but it was really depressing about how the father always has to play the bad guy and enforce all the punishments and how he's so sad about it. It was terrible. So we told her we'd do it, but we want a different monologue. We said we'd go look for one on our own.

We hit up the library the next day. There's nothing. At least that we could find. No Father's Day monologues, we couldn't even find a Father's Day skit. So I decided that I'd just write my own. How hard could it be? I started writing some ideas and jokes down and I thought I had a pretty could skit. That night, we visited a less active, Janet, and I read her my script to see what she thought. She was brutally honest and told me that it really wasn't very good. I was a little offended, but I took her ideas. That night, I looked over it again and I realized that she was right. It just wasn't put together very well. So I went back to the drawing board with her ideas in mind. And it actually turned out really well. It involved a brother and a sister debating what they should do for their dad for Father's Day. They can't think of anything and their mother tells them that their dad will be here soon, so they better keep thinking. Then the dad comes in and they admit that they can't think of anything to do for him. He helps them come up with some ideas, but they still can't settle on anything. In the end he tells them that the best Father's Day gift is having them as his kids and they all go off to play soccer in the park. I asked the sister missionaries to help us out and Elder Mendez and I played the other two parts. It turned out really well, people loved it. We got a recording of it, but it missed the first two minutes or so. I'll send it when I get a chance.

The last big event for the week was Taylor's baptism on Sunday. He was baptized after church and the whole branch was there for it. There are a bunch of college kids who have moved to New York for the summer to sell pest control. Taylor managed to get a job selling it with them, so he knows a bunch of them. Some 15 of these guys he works with showed up for his baptism. It was so cool to see all these people come out to support him. Most of the program was in English so that he could understand it. His Spanish is getting a lot better, but the English was nice because it was all meant for him. Afterwards, we had nachos and fruit salad for refreshments. That's my kind of refreshments. I've never had nachos after a baptism before, but that needs to be a more common thing.

And that's the tale for the week. It was a good week. The next step is getting Taylor confirmed with the gift of the Holy Ghost next week and then to get him to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. Here's to another good week of adventures!

Love,    Elder Erickson

92nd Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Big Decisions      written June 9, 2014

We had our exchange with the zone leaders to start off the week. Normally, the zone leaders only exchange with the district leaders and the elders who are training new missionaries. But since there are only three other companionships of elders in our zone, they decided to do an exchange with us as well. It was kind of frustrating because we had a bunch of stuff set up for Monday evening and Tuesday morning, but I exchanged over into their area and Mendez stayed here to take care of things. So I was with Elder Morse in an area called Terryville. It's funny because they are an English area and have no Spanish unit in their building. Our area, Patchoge, actually covers all of their area as well. We just don't go up there too often because it's so far away from our chapel. So I never really left my area. We had dinner on Monday night with their ward mission leader and his family. He and his wife are both involved in the nuclear power business, so obviously I asked them all about it. It was fascinating. We had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation with them. But the three year old needed entertaining, so I took care of that while Elder Morse taught the lesson. The classic missionary tag team.

The next day was largely uneventful. We tried to visit some less actives all afternoon, but nobody was home or interested in talking with us. It happens. We exchanged back at about 6 in the evening. We then headed over to visit with our friends Nancy and Augustine again. We had dinner with them and tried to have a lesson on how to feel the spirit. It went alright, but somehow we ended up getting off track a lot. It's difficult to keep a single topic when you have three separate adults involved, all with their own ideas, thoughts, concepts. We left them with some goals and we're going to check up on them this week.

Wednesday we had a training session all day in Rego Park. It was to give us guidelines for how best to use Facebook as a proselyting tool. It was an alright meeting. It took up most of our day and we got home just in time to teach English classes. Those are still going well. We need new people to come, but since the weather is warming up, everybody is working.

On Thursday we had a sweet lesson with Taylor. We couldn't meet with him for very long, but we went over in the morning before he had to leave for work. Things were a little rough for him on last Sunday, but that morning, he was happy as a clam. There are a number of return missionaries who have moved into our branch for the summer while they work as salesmen. They talked with Taylor last Sunday and hooked him up with the same job. And apparently he has just taken off and is working magic. He's no longer worried about covering rent and he told us that he's been thinking a lot about things. And he's decided that he wants to serve a mission after he gets baptized. He know that he has to wait a while, but he feels like this is what he needs to do with his life while he still can. We're really excited for him. This Sunday is the big day. Jesus has since made other decisions, so it will be just Taylor this Sunday. But hopefully we can work with Jesus too.

On Friday, we had another exchange. This time I was with Elder VanMondfranz. He was my first friend in the MTC and now he's here as Elder Coca's companion. It was so fun to work with him all day. Back in the MTC, we had a tradition of getting nachos every Saturday night to celebrate making it through another week. So, of course, we ended the night with nachos at Taco Bell. It was great. We didn't accomplish anything spectacular during the day. Mostly lookups that weren't home or interested. But we had a good time anyways.

Saturday was a classic service day. We helped a guy remove a bunch of dry wall from his house and then helped him empty it all at the dump. It took a while and he bought us McDonald's afterward, so that was totally worth it. Later that day, we had a birthday party for Jesus. Maria invited us all and they had a barbecue and a cake. The whole family was there and the missionaries, it was a really fun time. And Elder Mendez got to barbecue, so he was happy.

And that's about it for the week. It was a good week. The big news is Taylor's new decision to serve a mission. I think he will be a great missionary. The next step is this Sunday. Hope you guys have a great week!

Love,   Elder Erickson

91st Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

So many Cancellations Written June 2, 2014

This was a week of cancelled appointments. I don't know how it happened. It was like everybody got together and set up a club to cancel on Erickson and Mendez. We managed to make some things happen, but it was ridiculous.

We had to start the week off with some sad goodbyes. It was Elder Ozuna's last p-day in the mission. We didn't do too much that day, we mostly just hung out with him. His two years were up and he was headed back to the Dominican Republic. We met up again on Tuesday morning to say one final goodbye and take last pictures with him. It was sad to see him go. He was crazy, but we'll miss him.

We met up with Janet and Ruth again, the less active and her friend. When we got there, she had questions about how we can know that our church is true. Which worked out well because we were planning to discuss the rest of the Restoration with them. First though, they made us dinner. Which happened to be fried tilapia. Elder Mendez and I aren't the biggest fans of fish, but we did what we had to and we picked those bones clean. That's the worst part of eating fish like that is trying to avoid all of the bones. They're so darn sharp. Anyway, after the fish, we taught the lesson and it all went really well. Ruth seems less interested, she has to work on Sundays and isn't interested in trying to get them off. But Janet loved it all and is ready to pray and get an answer about the Book of Mormon. Always exciting when people are ready to act on what we teach.

Thursday was the day when everything fell through. We had four appointments set up and by 9 in the morning, all of them had cancelled. We wandered around, trying to find someone to meet with, but nothing was working out. We only managed to talk to one family, and that wasn't until like 8:30 at night, so all we had time to do was set up another appointment for next week. Still good to make that happen though.

Friday didn't have much going on either. More things fell through. The upside is that dinner didn't fall through. We met up with a family in our branch at a Hispanic restaurant and they bought us pupusas for dinner. That was really nice. They were good pupusas too. They got us flan for dessert. I'm not the biggest fan of flan, but it wasn't too bad. For not liking it very much, it was good flan.

The biggest event of Friday was that we purchased our epic turkey. Elder Mendez and I decided that we should have an epic week of turkey. There was one on sale for a dollar a pound at the store, so I bought a 20 pound turkey. It seemed like a great deal to me. On Saturday, we put it in a big pot full of orange juice to let it soak for 24 hours. Then we cooked it up on Sunday morning so it would be ready for dinner when we came home from church. It was glorious. And this week we don't need to do any shopping because we have turkey to eat all week. It's the best plan ever.

Saturday we finally had a lesson come through. It also involved dinner, which is a nice bonus. We had dinner with Maria and her younger brother Jesus again. She made a delicious rice and sausage combo for us, it was way good. Jesus wasn't super keen on having a lesson, so we had to kind of sneak it up on him. He kept waiting for us to say okay we're going to start the lesson now, but we never did. We just kind of started talking about things. The lesson was all about forgiveness. He was not happy about it at first, but once we got going, he got way into it. He and Maria both were loving it. It went well in the end and Jesus agreed to come to church the next day as well. He had been before, but it was nice to have him back again. He had a baptismal date at one point, but it fell through because he stopped coming to church. He has since decided that he'd like to get baptized again. There's still more to teach him though and we need to make sure this isn't just a whim decision. I think he's more sincere this time though, so we'll see how things go in the next few weeks.

On Sunday we got to see a baptism in our branch. The other elders have been working with a guy named Jose Ruiz who finally took the leap and got baptized. He is a good guy who started looking into the church because his girlfriend in Texas is a member. He wanted her to come see his baptism, but she couldn't make it. It was still a nice event though. It was right after church, so we had most of the branch there. That was pretty cool. The rest of the day involved enjoying our epic turkey and going to visit our old friends Nancy and Augustine. They live with a less active family in our branch. We visited with them for a while and tried to teach a lesson on the importance of scripture study. It kind of fell apart because everybody started arguing about hypocrisy in church. But I think we managed to pull it back in the end. I'm not sure. We're going back over there on Tuesday for dinner, so we'll have another shot.

Lots of things are happening here, regardless of the cancelled appointments. The sisters have a baptism coming up and we have potentially these two with Taylor and Jesus. June is a big month for the Patchogue Branch. Now we just need this beautiful spring weather to hold off on summer for a bit. That would be nice.

Love,     Elder Erickson

Sunday, June 1, 2014

90th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Traveling by Foot and Cadillac written May 26, 2014

We had a hilarious adventure to start off the week. Elder Coca managed
to lock his keys in his car. The only spare was in the mission office.
His companion had a trip to the temple the next day, so he was going
to pick up the spare when he was there the next day. In the meantime,
Elder Coca is going to be on exchanges with another missionary who has
a bad knee, so he can't walk very far. He wasn't sure what he was
going to do all day without a car, so we volunteered our car to them.
We only had one appointment in the afternoon and English classes in
the evening, plenty of time to get around by foot.

So at about noon, we gave them our car and we got started walking.
Luckily, it was a beautiful day. We walked for about an hour and a
half to get to the appointment. It went well, we met with that less
active woman and her nonmember friend from last week. We taught them
part of the restoration and they fed us a baller dinner of rice and
chicken. Then we got started walking back to the church. We got there
just in time to teach the classes. We checked out our route afterwards
and we clocked just over ten miles in total that day. It was so much
fun. I miss walking in the city all the time. It was a nice throwback
to last summer in Brooklyn.

The next exciting event was our lesson with Taylor on Friday. He
didn't want to bother his roommate, so we met him at a Starbucks
nearby. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and he really liked
it. I began to discuss potential options to find him a better ward or
branch to attend where he might have more support. I listed a number
of options and even suggested that maybe he wait a bit until he's in a
better situation. He responded by asking me when he could get
baptized. He's been to church enough, he could technically get
baptized tomorrow if he wanted. He told us that he's decided that he
really needs to do this and so he's going to get baptized. He said
he's prayed about it and it feels like the right thing to do. So we
looked at a calendar and set a baptismal date for the 8th of June.
We're all very excited. We decided to celebrate by going to Checker's
for lunch. He drove us there in his '93 Cadillac. That was such a
sweet ride.

Saturday was a cool day as well. One of the Sister missionaries here,
Sister Vasquez, has an aunt who lives in the area right next to us.
Her aunt's brother in law is in the hospital for some problem with his
legs. Sister Vasquez's mom called the aunt and asked if she wanted the
missionaries to come give the brother in law a blessing. So the
sisters called us and we went with them to the hospital to give this
guy a blessing. He didn't have much going on, and Sister Vasquez asked
if he wanted to hear about our message. He said sure, so we started an
epic, four missionary lesson. It's just so many missionaries teaching,
it gets a little crazy sometimes. It went pretty well though. He said
he would read the Book of Mormon and was willing to come to church
when he got out of the hospital. The aunt showed up by the end and
also said that the sisters could come by and share their message with
her. It was a cool experience, especially for Sister Vasquez.

Lasted that day, we met with our old friend Stalin Lenin. We haven't
been able to meet with him in a while, but we finally got back over
there. We shared the restoration with him and he ate it all up. It's
so great to teach people who are actually interested and who ask
questions to try to understand better. Stalin had no shortage of
questions, it was a really fun lesson. He was busy this Sunday, but
said he could come the next week. I think he'll actually read the Book
of Mormon too, he seemed sincere about it.

And those are the adventures for the week. Transfer calls came in,
Elder Mendez and I are staying here for another six weeks at least.
Only twelve more weeks of adventure, so I better make the most of it
while I can!

Elder Erickson

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

89th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Tales from the Week written May 19, 2014

We had a few really cool events this week. The first cool event of the week was a lesson with Taylor again. Last Sunday, there was a lesson on the Word of Wisdom that was kind of poorly done. Taylor was there and there were lots of questions from various people about all of it and few of the questions got very good answers. So we decided to do a recap of the lesson with him when we went over. I had all sorts of examples and stories ready to give to him. We started chatting about it and he seemed fine with everything. I asked him if he even had issues with any of the things we're not supposed to drink. He told me no, that he's fine with it all. Oh. Well I guess we don't need all of these stories and examples then. We still had some time left, and he told us that he wanted to read from the Book of Mormon about the part when Christ comes to the Americas.

So we flip on over to 3 Nephi and we took turns reading. We got through the whole thing and he said that it was a cool story. Then we discussed the things taught and the lessons learned from the chapter. Of course, we brought up baptism again and asked him if he had prayed about the Book of Mormon. He told us that he had and that he got an answer. He told us that he was sure the Book of Mormon is true because he had prayed about it multiple times and gotten the same answer every time. That was an incredible moment. That has happened so rarely on my mission that whenever it does happen, it is truly a miracle. We asked him about baptism and he said that he does want to be baptized, he just has some concerns. He's unsure about a support system in the church. Which is awesome that he's thinking about this because usually the missionaries are the ones most concerned about it. His concerns are definitely legitimate. There isn't anybody his age in our branch, except for his girlfriend, who is going to leave for a mission soon. He doesn't have any family support or support from his friends. It's a tough situation all around. But the important thing is that he knows the Book of Mormon is true and he wants to be baptized. It may not be here and it may not be for a while, but at least he's got an answer from prayer.

The next cool event was on Saturday. We had another all day service day. We started in the morning, raking leaves again for a less active family. We raked for some three hours, then we moved over to the church. It was our turn to clean the chapel, so we helped the branch mission leader and one other member to clean up the chapel. Then they made us lunch, that was sweet. To finish up the day, we headed over to the Ventura's house. They were having a birthday party for their three year old son. It was a big family event, so we went over early to help out. And we scored some carne asada and hot dogs. Totally worth it.

And the final story happened on Sunday. We didn't have anything to fill our evening and were dreading three hours of looking up people and knocking doors. Then, I got a Facebook message from a missionary in the ward next to us. He told me that a woman had showed up to their ward who lives in our area and she wants to go back to church and wants the missionaries to visit her. Sweet. We got her number from him and gave her a call. She was free that night, so we had something to fill up some time. We went over and she was very excited to have missionaries come visit. She was baptized in El Salvador, but since coming to the United States, had stopped going to church. She told us that she had felt something and knew that she needed to go back to church. And she had a friend living in the house who was interested in learning more about God as well. Awesome. She had a question about what is a testimony, so we threw together a lesson on testimony and she and her friend both loved it. They both agreed to come to church next week and to meet with us again to learn more. And to top it off, they gave us some pupusas to eat for dinner. Best lesson ever.

So things are moving along over here. Slowly but steadily, people are progressing. And I think as long as the slope is positive, then we're all good.

Love you guys!
Elder Erickson

88th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Short Update written May 4, 2014

Since I talked with you yesterday and told you most of the tales, this will be a short email. And this week wasn't very busy anyway.

We're still struggling to try to meet with John. Every time we have something set up with him, he's not there when we show up. We wait and chat with his parents for 30 to 45 minutes, then he still hasn't shown up, so we tell them that we'll have to come back another day. He's done it three times now, so we're going to have to figure something out with him.

We had an exchange with the zone leaders this week. Normally, the zone leaders only exchange with the district leaders and with brand new missionaries on their first transfer. Elder Mendez and I are neither of those things. But we're also the only companionship in the zone that isn't one of those things. And they thought that it would be fun to do an exchange with us anyway. It was kind of annoying because neither of the zone leaders are Spanish missionaries or know any Spanish. So it basically meant that I was a solo missionary all day with this dude following behind me and asking me what people were saying. It wasn't bad, just kind of annoying. Not to mention the whole had to teach English class all by myself. Whatever, life goes on. Hopefully we don't have to exchange with the zone leaders anymore after this.

We also had an exchange with Elder Coca and Elder Ozuna. That was the day of a big zone training meeting that lasted like six hours. After that, Elder Ozuna and I got go to have dinner with the Elder's Quorum President and his wife. Then we taught a guy named Jose Ruiz who the other elders have been working with. He is a very nice guy from El Salvador. His girlfriend is a member in Texas and he became interested in the church because of her. He'd like to get baptized, he just struggles to get work off on Sundays. He's already had all of the lessons, so we just went and read out of the Book of Mormon with him. And he shared a glass of mango juice with us. Sounds like a great trade to me.

The only other big event of note (other than calling mom, of course) was the Mother's Day party that the branch held on Saturday evening. We were in charge of an hour of entertainment and games for after dinner. A half hour before the event, I was asked to be the emcee for it all. I thought the branch president was joking, but apparently he was not. I was handed the microphone and asked to introduce the first game before dinner. Well okay then. So I told a quick story about my mom to introduce the game, then we played the game. It was like pin the tail on the donkey, but instead we played pin the baby on the mother. Then we had dinner, followed by more stories and more games. I ended by playing the piano (per request by a member multiple times). It turned out to be a really nice evening and everybody really enjoyed it.

And that's pretty much the tale for this week. Hope you had a great Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

Elder Erickson

Sunday, May 4, 2014

87th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Family Home Evening in Patchogue           written April 28, 2014

It's always nice to start off the week with a family home evening. It's great because you get to interact with a fun family and it fills up your Monday evening. There's nothing better than that. We got to have dinner with the Cortez family again and then we shared a lesson and some ice cream with them. Sister Cortez made these baller tacos for dinner. They were awesome. Elder Mendez and I went to town on those because for whatever reason the kids were uninterested in tacos. How could you not be interested in steak tacos? Whatever. I got to use a lesson that Tina sent me in the mail. It involves a bunch of pictures of animals on popsicle sticks and you show them to the kids and ask what sound that animal makes. They all love making the animal sounds, so they all get involved. Then the last one is a picture of a dove and is labeled as the Holy Ghost. Then we discuss what sounds the Holy Ghost makes and how it whispers to us and tells us to do good things like helping our mom and being nice to our little sister. That was a clutch lesson by Tina. She is a champion. It went over like gang busters, everybody loved it. Even the mother told us that was a really good lesson. So all credit goes to Tina for that one.

Tuesday was back to the normal grind of trying to look people up in the afternoon and finding nobody home, then returning to the church at 7 to teach English classes. We also managed to score dinner from a member at 6. She made us the classic chicken and rice, but threw in a curveball with some mashed potatoes. Didn't see that one coming at all. It was all tasty though, so no regrets. Nothing particularly new at English classes. Although we have some new people randomly showing up, so if we're lucky they might be interested in meeting with us. We'll find out this week.

Wednesday was tough because I started coming down with a nasty sore throat, cold, fever combo. I'm not exactly sure what it was. But it wasn't a good time. I slept most of the afternoon and managed to make it out for dinner with our branch president at 6. He made us the classic chicken and rice combo as well. His son-in-law is the elder's quorum president, so we had dinner with the two of them. It's always nice to chat with them together and hear what they want to accomplish so we can help them out. The elder's quorum president is brand new, he was just called last week. I think a new person is much needed here because we only have like four people in the elder's quorum, so new faces are always welcome.

Thursday was a really cool day. There's a girl in our branch named Estefenia. She's 19 and she recently started dating a guy named Taylor and he has been coming to church with her for a few months now. Taylor doesn't speak too much Spanish, but Estefenia's mother only speaks Spanish, so he has been picking it up so that he can talk with her. And he comes to the Spanish branch every week, so he's kind of surrounded by it. He's Christian and always willing to listen to spiritual thoughts and whatnot, but never wanted to sit down and take lessons from the missionaries. I have asked him before and he told me that he was content to just listen in church and at family home evenings and such. Fair enough, you do your thing bro. But then last Sunday, Estefenia came to me and told me that he wanted to meet with missionaries on Thursday at 12:30 and gave me his phone number. Awesome. We called him up and got his address and headed over. He lives with one roommate in this way nice apartment in the middle of a golf course. His place is all decked out too, with fancy artwork and various other trinkets. I guess his roommate is an aspiring artist, so they have a whole art station and his paintings were all over the place. Taylor made us some peanut butter pancakes for breakfast as we chatted and got to know him a little better. Then we sat down to chat. We had interviews with President Calderwood that day, so we had to set an hour time limit on our visit. I thought that was a little extreme, there was no way we were going to fill up an hour. Boy was I wrong. He told us that he had some questions for us, so I asked him what they were. It turns out his question was that he wanted a rundown of what we believe. Well cool. That's what I do best. So I commenced arguably one of the greatest explanations of the Restoration that I've ever given in my life. It was so much fun. Elder Mendez and I went to town. I haven't taught a lesson in English in almost a year, so this was great. I'm pretty good at Spanish, but I can't express myself the same way I can in English. I was able to give all sorts of examples, details, stories, comparisons, it was awesome. It all went really well. He ate it all up too. It was cool because I didn't have to wonder if he was comprehending all of the things I threw at him. He's comfortable enough with us to tell us if he doesn't understand something. The part he enjoyed most was when we discussed how the Book of Mormon can answer things that are unclear in the Bible. He wanted examples, so Elder Mendez and I took off. We gave him five or six different vague scriptures in the Bible and the answers in the Book of Mormon. He was really interested in that. It's a good thing we set the hour time limit or we would have been there all day. He committed to start reading the Book of Mormon and to pray to find out if it was true. And he came to church on Sunday. We're going to meet with him again this Thursday, so hopefully that one goes as well as the first.

Friday was another slow day because sickness struck again. I was feeling well enough to make it to one appointment in the evening with the Ventura family. It's always an adventure over there. There's so many kids running around that it's hard to get anyone to listen to anything we say to them. And every time we invite them to church they just say they're going to come and then they don't come. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out something with them soon.

Saturday we got to do some more service. There was a family in the English ward that needed a trench dug out around their above ground pool. So we got all the missionaries there and we made short work of that trench. We finished in about an hour and they ordered us pizza to thank us. We finished up the night with an appointment with another member in our branch, Brother Ibarra. We were supposed to have dinner with him and his family, but apparently his wife and daughter were at some stake Relief Society thing. So he just took us to Subway. Can't go wrong with Subway.

And the week and my sickness finished up on Sunday. Church was nothing new. I got roped into teaching primary again somehow. We learned about temples this week and we all drew a picture of the Salt Lake City temple. That lasted about fifteen minutes. The rest of class was spent playing tic tac toe and hangman. Whatever keeps these 4 five-year-olds entertained for forty five minutes. We made it to one appointment that night, but I was just not feeling it, so I went back home and chilled with Elder Coca while Elder Mendez went out with Elder Ozuna. He had been sitting around with me while I was sick for so long that Coca took the hit and let Mendez go out. It was kind of him.

So here we are, finally healthy again. Ready for another week of good times and the branch talent show this weekend. We're involved in like four numbers, so it should be a party.

Love you guys!
Elder Erickson

Monday, April 21, 2014

86th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

La Semana Santa      written April 21, 2014

This email is called la semana santa not because it was a particularly holy week, but just because that's what the week of Passover is called in Spanish. Kind of cool, I think.

Anyways. This was less a holy week and more a week of weddings and concerts. So there were some definite adventures this week. The craziness started with the transfer meeting on Tuesday. There were lots of changes made to our mission's organization this week. We got a new stake out here, the Lynbrook Stake. It used to be the Lynbrook District, and from what I understand, it was the last district in the continental United States. And it was finally made into a stake last Sunday. There were some other wards moved around to make it work. So now our mission consists of the Brooklyn Stake, the Woodside Stake, the Lynbrook Stake, and the Plainview Stake. This meant that they had to reorganize some of the zones in our mission too. When I first started my mission, we had 9 zones total. Then, a year ago, there was some reorganizing and we ended up with 10 zones. That was a big deal. As of Tuesday, we now have 12 zones. The lower number zones are furthest west, with zone 1 being Staten Island and the west of Brooklyn. Zone 12 being the tip of Long Island in Riverhead and Hampton Bays. In Patchogue, we're zone 11. So we're pretty far out, but not the farthest. We also got a new sister in our district. She is brand new from the MTC. Her name is Sister Vasquez. She was born in Peru, but moved to the United States when she was 10. She is a nice addition to our district.

Wednesday was mostly uneventful except for we had dinner at the church before teaching English classes. We had a special Dominican dish called Nino Envuelto. I guess it's mostly reserved for big events like weddings and such. It's just stuffed cabbage. It was pretty good. I don't know that I would call it my idea wedding dish, but it was pretty tasty.

We had another interesting dinner experience on Friday. We went over to the Ventura's house again. We were unannounced, as usual. Because if I ever call to set something up, he just tells me "Mucho much busy hermano." So now we just show up on Friday evenings and they're never doing anything. His wife was cooking something and we were chatting with brother Ventura when another couple walked in the door. Apparently they were expecting guests. They were both very nice people and the woman went in to help cook dinner. We figured we were crashing some kind of get together, but they had already set a plate for us, so we decided to stay. They were all very excited about the meal. The two men told us that this was a special meal in El Salvador that you only eat on el viernes santo. Which is Spanish for Good Friday. They said it was called torta. But not like the regular kind of torta, which is like a sandwich. This was a special torta. But they wouldn't tell us anything else about it. So we go sit down at the table and there is a bowl of soup for each of us. And inside the soup is what looks like a piece of cornbread. It looked like chicken soup. It seemed a bit odd to me, but whatever. Chicken soup with cornbread in it. I took a taste and noted that the broth certainly did not taste chickeny. That's when I realized that there was an entire piece of fish baked into the corn bread. This torta revolves heavily around fish. Darn you El Salvador for loving fish. That was the grossest soup ever. All you could taste was fish. It was soaked in the bread, it flavored the broth, it was terrible. Luckily they had a bunch of watermelon and they had tacos available too. I managed to eat all of the bread and the fish, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish all the broth. I couldn't hang. Elder Mendez pounded it all. He was a champ. He didn't like it either. I fail to understand how this meal is a treat for people in El Salvador.

Saturday morning we got recruited to do some service at somebody's house. It was a member in our branch, but he was helping out some friends of his. Elder Ozuna told me that it was going to be like Hurricane Sandy cleanup, but I didn't believe him. We got there and they led us down into the basement where we found a large pile of crumbled drywall. I would recognize the scent of asbestos and mold anywhere. It was just like old times. We threw on some masks and gloves and got right to work. Elder Ozuna and I are the only ones in our district who were around for Hurricane Sandy. So we were loving the whole time. They were expecting it to take upwards of three hours to clear out all the debris. We had it done in a half hour. We don't mess around when it comes to hauling drywall. It was great.

Back in Elder Mendez's last area, there was a part member couple that he worked with. The man was a member, but the woman was not and they weren't married either. He worked with them for a while, then he got moved out here to Patchogue. His old companion kept working with them and finally got them to set a date for the wedding. So on Saturday we got to head back into the city to celebrate a boda. Which is Spanish for a wedding. I checked out some wedding piano music from the library and I got to play some nice prelude for the event. And then I played the wedding march from A Midsummer Night's Dream as the bride walked down the aisle. It was pretty cool. After the ceremony, the DJ took over and played all the Latin hits. There was a ton of food. Three large trays of chicken, four trays of rice, each with a different style of rice, and three trays of salad. It was epic. That was quite the party they threw. Elder Mendez was really excited to see all the members from his last area, so we had a good time.

Easter Sunday was the big day of the concert. Church was largely uneventful. One of the members, Sister Cruz, was very kind and made all of the missionaries an epic taco bar so we could have a nice Easter dinner after church. It was delicious. There was all sorts of set up to be done for the concert, so we worked on that. When the time came, we actually had a really good turnout. Almost all of the branch was there. We even had some non members come too. All of the musical numbers turned out well and all of the speakers did a great job. There wasn't much to it, only six songs and four speakers. But it turned out really well and people seemed to enjoy themselves. So I would say mission accomplished.

And to finish it off, we got up early and drove out to Montauk to see the sunrise again. We got an invite from another district of missionaries, so everyone decided to go. It was a good time. Except for the whole getting up at three thing. It was much warmer this time, though, so I would say that the whole event was much more pleasant. And now we're back to normal life. The next big event is a branch talent show in the beginning of May. That will be interesting. Missionaries keep getting volunteered for things, so it may turn into the missionary talent show. Which will still be a good time.

Love you guys!
Elder Erickson

85th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Adventures in Patchogue    written April 14, 2014

We got to visit with the Briceno family again on Monday evening. We just showed up at random, so unfortunately her husband wasn't home. But we still talked with her about how to recognize the spirit. We had some sweet tag team efforts going on as I entertained the five year old kid and Elder Mendez did a large chunk of the conversing. It works out well.

Tuesday and Wednesday were largely uneventful except for English classes. Not too much new going on there either. We're starting to dwindle in numbers so we need to get some more advertising out there. It's also interesting because we've invited all of the regulars to church and to meet with us and none of them are interested. So we need to get new people coming who might have some interest in it.

We didn't have any exciting adventures until Friday. We were supposed to go meet with the Ventura family again, but they ended up not being home. So we went to look up some less actives and some former investigators in the area. We went to one house of a less active and asked if they were home. The girl told us they had moved. So we asked if she was interested in hearing our message. She said we could come back another day. And when we asked for her name, she had the same first name as one of the people in the family. Which makes me think that the family still lives there. We'll find out when we go back. The other interesting encounter was at the house of a former. This old white dude answered the door. I asked him if Blanco or Flabian was there. He starts going off on how he hates illegal immigrants and anyone who isn't American born doesn't deserve to live in his country. He went on for about five minutes before he told us that we better leave. Elder Mendez had already started backing away. It was hilarious.

Saturday we met with a new investigator. The sister missionaries are teaching someone in a house where a number of people live and they met a guy named Stalin who seemed somewhat interested. They gave us the address so we could try meeting with him. We went over and he invited us right in. We sat down and it turns out his middle name is Lenin. His name is Stalin Lenin. He said that his dad really liked Russia. I thought that was the funniest thing ever. Stalin was very willing to listen to us, he is a very nice dude. I tried to make a joke about how his father loved Russia, but our Heavenly Father loves us. I thought it was a great joke, but Stalin was unimpressed. Shame.

Later on that day we were looking for some potentials we had met earlier. It was Saturday evening, so a lot of people were having barbecues and parties or just hanging around outside. We met this guy on his front porch, named Daniel. My man was definitely a bit drunk. Probably more than a bit. But we talked with him and found out a bit about him. He told us he used to go to church all the time, but he stopped when he came to the United States. He said he really misses it
though and needs to do more for God. Elder Mendez asked him what he would do for God and he said anything. So I asked him if he would give up drinking. He said he really wanted to. I told him we would help him with it and that we would start right now. I pointed to his half empty bottle and asked if he was willing to pour it out right there. He
hesitantly agreed to it. Then he watered the plants with some Heineken. We told him we'd come by on Wednesday to help him get started. He seemed excited about it. We left him a card with the day of our appointment written on it so he has a chance of remembering it. We'll see how committed he really was.

Sunday was your average day in a small branch. I played the piano for primary, then translated for sharing time, then got roped into teaching the five year old class. We learned about the gift of the Holy Ghost. For like five or ten minutes at least. The rest of the class may or may not have been spent playing rock, paper, scissors and a few rounds of bubblegum. Classic games. After church we headed over to look up a referral from Brother Ventura. He sent us to his uncle's house. We have been by before, but never found anybody home. We got lucky this time and met with the uncle's wife and daughter. Very nice people. She didn't seem overly interested, but was willing to listen and said we could come back again. And then we finished up the day by visiting with the Ibarra family. They shared some raspberry and orange sorbet with us and we chatted about the word of wisdom. They also gave us half of a papaya because I had never tried on before. Turns out I'm not a huge fan of papaya. Luckily Elder Mendez likes it a lot, so we're good there.

And that's the tale for the week. This was the last week in the transfer and the call came that Elder Mendez and I are both going to be staying here for six more weeks. So the adventures will continue.

Love, Elder Erickson

Thursday, April 10, 2014

84th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Conference!     Written April 7, 2014

We got the week started off with another fun family home evening at a member's house. They fed us an interesting dinner of spaghetti, baked clams, and chicken parmesan sandwiches. I had never had a baked clam before. I'm not sure that I'm a huge fan of it, but it was alright. We taught the lesson on faith and then we had a baller dessert of ice cream. You really can't go wrong with classic ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Our Tuesday was a fun adventure too. We spent the morning helping out the other elders move their house. Their old house was pretty run down, so we helped them move into the new one. Then afterward, we went to try out the new breakfast menu at Taco Bell. It was good, but I felt a little let down after all of the hype about it. The little packs of syrup are definitely a good addition, though. Later that day, we got invited to have dinner with a member of the English ward. It was a complete accident. His wife told him to invite over the next missionaries he saw, and he happened to see me. So he invited us for dinner. We had steak, potatoes, green beans, corn, zucchini; it was quite the meal. We finished up the day with teaching English class.

Wednesday was a pretty slow day. Not too much going on. We were supposed to have a lesson with Nancy and Augustine, but when we got there, they were headed out. So we met with Herman and Ramiro instead. We went over half of the plan of salvation with them. They seem to understand it pretty well. We decided to stop about halfway through and head over to English class. We weren't planning on it, but it's a good thing we did because the sisters were running late. It was their turn to run the class, but something happened and they got caught up. We didn't have a key to the building, but we chilled with the people who came outside and I ran a little conversation group while we waited for them to arrive. It was kind of fun.

The party got going again on Friday. I had an exchange with out district leader, Elder Coca. He is a fun guy, we had a good day. We got to have lunch with a member at their work. They own a business where they do fabric designing. Their kids work their too and they all ate with us. The kids are members, but they are all less active. Apparently they are a pretty high end establishment and made a big deal of talking about some of their richer clients, including how they had to turn down being on an episode of The Apprentice because "they just weren't giving them the time they needed to really put together some good designs." It was kind of ridiculous. Later on, we met with the Ventura family again. We didn't know they were going to serve us dinner, so Elder Coca and I had already made a dinner of chicken, rice, and egg. Then we show up and they give us each two full plates of rice, beans, fish, and salad. It was a rough battle, but we managed to clear off most of it. We shared a message about General Conference and Agueda was willing to give the closing prayer. That was a first. She has been so quiet and reserved every time we've gone over there. Never participating in lessons or wanting much to do with us. But this time, she was joking with us, making conversation, participating in the lesson. And her closing prayer was a huge step. I wondered whether she would ever pray for us. And here we are. It was cool.

Which brings us to Saturday and Sunday for general conference. There really isn't much to report here. We pretty much just chilled in the chapel and watched conference for two days. It was great. I really recommend it. Between the Saturday sessions, some members came and cooked up a bunch of pork and we had pork tacos. Between the Sunday sessions, we had some rice and meat combo. Then after it was all over on Sunday, we had dinner with another member and hooked it up with some baby goat. That was interesting. It tasted pretty good. Goat, rice, yucca, and tostones. Classic Dominican goodness.

And that's about it for the week. It was a good one, especially the nice break of just watching general conference. This is the last week of this transfer, so Elder Mendez and I are just hoping to stay together for at least one more here. We will see how things go.

Love you!
Elder Erickson

Sunday, April 6, 2014

83rd Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Back in Brooklyn     written  March 31, 2014

This was a week full of concerts and good times. We got invited to another family home evening last week. We were asked to teach the lesson, so we brought this object lesson about making time for God in our lives. It was a cool lesson. There was a lot of Spanish thrown around at this event. I was kind of lost at points with four or five people all trying to talk over each other. It was insane. At the end we had some Columbian desserts. There were Columbian empanadas and some interesting cheese bread. We got cups full of this hot drink made from sugar cane, or panela in Spanish. It was pretty rough. They thought it would be a good idea to bring out a chunk of condensed sugar cane and have me eat it with a stick of cheese. Apparently that's a tasty snack in Columbia. I have to admit, I would not recommend it for an after school snack. We ended the night with a round of charades. It was a fun night.

Nothing new with the English classes, but on Wednesday I had a dress rehearsal for the concert this week. It was at the bottom of Brooklyn, so we had a decently long drive ahead of us. It was fun to see all my friends again at the rehearsal. I played for three people, Elder Goates, Sister Franklin, and Sister Blosil, all of whom I served with in Midwood. So it was cool to see some friendly faces. The rehearsal ended at six and on our way home, we stopped by to visit a member that Elder Mendez knew in Brooklyn. She was kind enough to take us out to a Dominican restaurant for dinner. It was delicious, we hooked it up with some carne frito and tostones and morir soñando to drink. A meal fit for Dominican kings.

The next day was our break before the concert, so we headed over to find Nancy and Augustine. They weren't home, but their son Hermán was, so we decided to try teaching him again. He has changed a lot since Mason and I tried teaching him before. He was willing to listen and he opened up about how God and church had helped save his life in El Salvador and how he wants to return to church. We had a really nice lesson and taught him how to pray at the end. I think if he actually comes to church with his parents, he'll find the same feelings here that he did there.

Friday was the big day. Things got off to a rocky, late start, but went really well overall. It was a lot of fun to play in a concert again. Especially one that I didn't have to organize, but I only had to play in. That was sweet. We missed dinner, so on the way home we stopped at a Little Caesar's right next to Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Of course, we had to sit down in the park and enjoy our pizza while we admired the Manhattan skyline. You just can't pass up an opportunity like that.

Our Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning the church with some members. Then they made dinner for us afterwards. That was sweet. Some pork, rice, corn, and yucca plant. It was a decent meal. After that, we headed over to a less active's house, Hermano Ventura. He wasn't home, but we met with his nonmember wife and had a cool lesson with her. She is very shy and doesn't like to talk much, especially when her husband is home. So she actually opened up to us this time, which was cool. We almost got her to pray, but then Hermano Ventura came home and she shut down again. Maybe next time.

Sunday we had a baptism in the branch. Her name is Maria, the sister missionaries have been working with her for a while. She gave up smoking and coffee in two weeks, like a champ. It was really impressive. She is a very nice woman, I'm glad she's making good changes in her life. Her parents and her younger brother and sister came to see the baptism too. It was a nice event. After church we had lots of meetings, then we managed to get over to see the Ibarra family in the evening. We visited for a while and enjoyed some jamaica drink, which is apparently hibiscus flower seeped in water with sugar added. It's an interesting flavor, but I like it. Then we taught a lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I've never really had much participation from the Ibarras before, but they were way into this lesson, so that's
always a good thing. It was a nice evening.

And we're back to a normal week without random trips to the city. The next big event is the Easter concert I'm planning to do here in April. So it's time to get to work on that.

Love, Elder Erickson

Saturday, March 29, 2014

82nd Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Spring?    Written March 24, 2014

So this was the week of preaching to the English class students. We had a pretty sweet setup. There were roughly 20 people there on Tuesday night and we had four missionaries. So at the end of the class, the four of us taught the first half of the lesson on the Restoration, then handed out pamphlets on it to everyone. We continued the lesson on Wednesday by finishing the teaching, then handing out a copy of the Book of Mormon to everyone in the class. Some people were interested, some were bored. There was one guy who came back after class and asked more questions about the book. He happens to live in the same house as another member.

So on Thursday evening, Elder Mendez and I headed over to their house to try to visit with them. His name is Augustine and his wife's name is Nancy. Turns out they're the parents of that kid Hermán than Elder Mason and I tried to teach once. They were happy to sit down with us and even shared some hot chocolate and pan dulce. Which is a welcome treat on a cold night. We went over a bit about the Book of Mormon, then we watched the Restoration video with them. They both enjoyed it and had a number of things to say about religion feeling the spirit. Both commented that they want to learn more and seem to like our church. We invited them to be baptized and they agreed that once they get an answer about the Book of Mormon, they would consider baptism. 
We wanted to get them to church, but it was Stake Conference this Sunday, and it was a good half an hour drive away.  So they're going to come next week. Still a really cool experience though, all stemming from the English classes. What's cool, is that since Elder Mendez and I have taught them English for a couple of weeks now, they already trust us and treat us like friends. We don't have to try to establish trust while we're teaching, it's already there. So now we just have to teach and help them understand.
The rest of the week was full of other important things that needed to be done, but weren't necessarily missionary related. Wednesday afternoon we had to go into Queens for a doctors appointment. Elder Mendez had cancer when he was 15, so he had to go in for a check up. It all turned out well and we even got to stop by a deli in the area where Elder Mendez knew the owner and we got some free empanadas.

Friday I had my 3/4 mark temple trip. It was a month late due to crowding issues, but it was a good group I got to go with. The senior couple who came with us took us on a detour through Central Park. That was pretty sweet. It was a nice day, albeit a bit windy.

That's it from Patchogue this week.

Love, Elder Erickson