Wednesday, January 29, 2014

74th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Snow Storms and Stuff       written Jan 27, 2014

Snow is decidedly not my friend these days. There were only six of us who didn't go to the transfer meeting last Tuesday. Me and Elder Mason and the four sister missionaries. That was also the day of a huge snowstorm. When there is that much snow falling from the sky, there really isn't that much we can do. We had lunch with a member, we followed him through the snow to this Chinese buffet. That was pretty baller. There was just so much snow.

We were supposed to have English classes that night, but nobody came, assumably because of the storm. Elder Mason wanted to go visit Hermán that night, so we headed over there to chat with him. We sat down, just the three of us and had a frank discussion with him, which was really good. We more or less just asked him if he actually wanted to learn or if he just met with us out of courtesy. He kind of told us it was more out of courtesy. We took the hint and stopped pushing things. I thought he looked really uncomfortable, so I decided we should talk about video games to lighten the mood. He loved it. We chatted for some ten minutes about various things and by the end of it, he seemed to see us more as friends than as those weird white dudes who come talk about Jesus. Which I consider progress. He may not be interested now, but maybe once he's more settled, he'll be willing to come to some activities or maybe even come to church one day.

Wednesday was the snowy aftermath of the storm. We didn't get out in time to help shovel any snow because we had a number of meetings. By the time we were free, most of the shoveling was already done. So we decided to just knock doors instead. I went with Elder Richardson and we all split up and went our various ways. We didn't have too much success, but one door answered and before we even said anything, he told us to come in because it was too cold outside. So we go inside and it turns out the guy is from El Salvador. His wife was there, cooking dinner with their daughter in law. They have five children, all boys. They also had their first grandchild there with them. It was a sweet family. They were happy to sit down and listen to us for a moment. The guys name was Alfonzo. His wife wasn't super keen on it, but was polite enough to listen. She told us that they are very Catholic and have no plans of changing anytime soon. But they appreciate young people trying to preach the word of god, so that's why they let us in. Even so, Alfonzo still said we could come back on Sunday afternoon. We left him with a pamphlet about the Restoration.

When we came back on Sunday, his wife wasn't there, but Alfonzo sat down with us. He had read the whole pamphlet and said he liked it. So we reviewed it and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. We asked him to pray to know if it's true and to come to church. He said he would definitely pray about it and would come to church if he didn't have work. It was a really cool lesson. I hope Alfonzo figures this out and actually prays like he said he would. He seems to have a very sincere heart about it all.

In other news, we had a hot chocolate giveaway event again. We kind of made way too much hot chocolate, but we managed to give away a good amount of it. I think it might have gone over better, but it started snowing again about halfway through our event, so that didn't help much. It was still fun though. After that, we managed to get dinner with a member. Always a plus. He is from Peru and he brought us some Peruvian chicken and salad from a restaurant. It was a solid dinner. Nice way to warm up after standing in the cold for so long, too.

Sunday was a missionary day at church, apparently. Three missionaries gave talks, the sisters sang a song, accompanied by me, and we gave the opening and closing prayers. I gave a fun talk about how to gain a
testimony, people seemed to enjoy it. I also played the piano in primary and Elder Mason and I taught primary. We were told to teach about the creation and Adam and Eve and were given no prep time. That was an adventure. The tale of Adam and Eve is a complex topic for adults, let alone kids ranging from age 4 to 10. So we drew fun pictures and we talked about our favorite animals and our favorite fruits. It worked out in the end. Though it was an adventure, every moment.

This week should be fun, we've got a couple of things lined up and we're going to have a big family home evening activity on Friday, so hopefully that brings some new faces in. Love you guys, hope you all have a great week!

Elder Erickson

Friday, January 24, 2014

73rd Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Another Transfer Down          written  January 13, 2014

So the adventures continue, here in Patchogue. We got the week started off with a fun dinner and a lesson at the Ibarra's. They have us over pretty much every Tuesday for dinner. It's great. Then we teach the young man Hermán that lives in their house. We ate some delicious rice and pork with some Guatemalan tamales. Can't go wrong there. We reviewed some of the Restoration with Hermán and tried to help him understand the significance of the restoration. Sometimes the toughest part about teaching someone is helping them understand that we're not just another Christian church. That the story of the Restoration is either true or it's not. And that if it is true, we need to act on that knowledge and do something about it. I'm not quite sure if Hermán quite gets it yet. But we'll get there eventually. We're going to teach him again tomorrow and hopefully clear up some more questions.

Wednesday we started up district language study again. The sisters requested it and I love teaching it, so I volunteered. We had it every day this week, it was a lot of fun. I just pick a different grammar concept every day and explain it with various examples and whatnot. That night we got to have dinner with the ward mission leader. He took us to this sweet place that seemed like an imitation of Chipotle, but with cheaper burritos. Can't complain about that. Then while we ate, got to ask him all of my Spanish questions. It's always super helpful to ask native speakers for help. That was my language study for the day. Then after that, We went and taught English classes. This new guy came who already knows English pretty well, but he needs to fine tune some things so he can pass the GED. So I took him aside and taught him a personal English lesson. That was a lot of fun. English is a weird language. He is a way cool guy and seemed willing to come to church, so hopefully we can meet with him at some point.

Thursday we had a small miracle. We combined English and Spanish districts to go knock doors together. I was with Elder Ligman and we knocked the first door. He took it and did the approach in English. She said we could come in and share our message. We were shocked. On our first try? Her 17 year old son was home, so we could go in. We sat down and she looked kind of Hispanic, so I asked if she speaks Spanish. She said yes and that she hardly knows any English. Wait, what? So I took over and taught her the restoration solo. Elder Ligman can understand Spanish pretty well, but he doesn't speak very much. She seemed somewhat interested. She told me she has met with all sorts of missionaries from lots of different churches before. She was willing to meet with us again, so that's a good sign. Hopefully we can get back there this week and teach her some more.

Friday we had another exchange. This time I was with Elder Coca, the district leader's companion. He is a way cool guy. We taught a lesson to one of the guys I taught with Elder Richardson last week. We also got to teach a recent convert named Josué. He is maybe 16 years old and I am really impressed with him. Especially for not having much support at home, he really has a good understanding of the Gospel. It's incredible. We taught him about temples and he's going to go do baptisms for the dead in a couple of weeks.

Saturday morning I got asked to play the piano for a young women's event. They were welcoming in the new girls and we scored free breakfast for me playing two songs. It was a great deal. We went out and looked people up during the evening and then we met up back at the church at 8 because they needed us to clean the chapel after a baby shower. So we scored some leftover treats from the shower and then frantically cleaned the church from 8 until 9. Always a party.

Sunday was the big day of the week. One of the missionaries in the English district, Elder Weser, is waiting for his visa to head to Brazil. He finally got it, so he leaves today for Brazil. Elder Weser is a really good singer, so he wanted to do a big concert for his ward before he left. He organized a number of things and yesterday was the big day. He had three performances in the program and some speakers. I was the piano player for all three of the songs. It was a lot of fun. They invited both English and Spanish wards, so there was a pretty good turnout. Elder Weser did a really nice job.

So that's about it for the week. It brings the transfer to a close. Our whole district is staying the same, so we all get six more weeks of good times here. It should be fun.

Elder Erickson

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

72nd Epistle From Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Warming Up!           written January 13, 2014
The week actually got started on Monday for a change. Usually Monday evenings after p-day aren't too productive. There are family home evenings going on and nobody else seems to have much interest in meeting with us for whatever reason. But we were going around looking up some potentials and we decided to knock on another entrance to a house where one of our potentials lives. This guy answers and we asked if he would be interested in listening and he invited us in. He told us he needed to talk to his wife first, so we waited for him. He came back and said she was busy, but he had a few minutes. So we sat down and taught him the restoration. He wasn't super intrigued by it, but he listened and said we could come back to talk more. That's always a plus. Hopefully we'll be able to get back over there this week and talk more with him and his family.

So that got the week started off. That was the first new investigator we've found since I got here. Things are moving along. Tuesday we had dinner with a less active family in our branch, the Ibarra family. They live in a house with a bunch of other Hispanics too. They brought one young man to the Christmas party last month named Hermán. He is 16 years old and just moved here from Guatemala. We talked with him and asked if he wanted to learn more. He said that he would be willing to listen to our message. So after dinner with the Ibarras, we sat down with Hermán and explain the restoration. I'm not sure if he quite understood the significance of it, but he enjoyed listening and is willing to listen to more. We talked with his mom too and she is going to meet with us next time. That would be sweet if we could teach them both together.

The other fun day of the week was on Friday. I was I an exchange with my district leader, Elder Richardson. He is a way cool guy, so that already made it a good day. But that night we had an appointment with someone, so we called a member to come with us. When we got to the appointment, the guy we were going to meet with wasn't home. But some other Hispanic guy answered the door. We asked if he was interested. He was willing to give us five minutes and walked out the door. So we said a prayer right there and taught the first lesson. He wasn't super interested, but I just liked that we taught the whole lesson on his doorstep. He said that we could come back, we'll see if that ever happens. After that, we headed over to look up another potential. They were home and let us in. We sat down with this guy and started teaching. Things were kind of crazy in the house, people were walking around, kids were yelling; it was distracting. But when we started talking about the apostasy, everything suddenly calmed down. And then his friend randomly came over and sat down to listen. Apparently he had met with missionaries before and had even been to church a few times. So that was a sweet night.

On Sundays, I usually play the piano for sacrament meeting. It's not a very big room, and I like the piano, so I usually ignore the organ. But this week, one of the notes on the piano was really out of tune. Painfully out of tune. And it was the G, so it gets played a lot. I couldn't handle that, so I switched over to the organ. I forgot how fun it is to play the organ. I'm out of practice and I need organ shoes to really play the pedals efficiently, but it was still a fun change. I'd still really like to get that note fixed on the piano though. I can do way more with the piano than the organ.

And that's the tale for this week. Looking forward to meeting with Hermán again and we have a family home evening activity this Friday that should be a lot of fun. And on top of that, the weather has been warming up! It doesn't get much better than this!

Elder Erickson

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

71st Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Snow Day!        written Jan 6, 2014
It has been a cold week out here! It started on New Year's Eve with a light sprinkling of snow. Not too much. Just enough to welcome the way for the big storm on Friday.

New Year's Day is always an interesting time in the mission field. Because we're supposed to go out and work, but most people are still partying. We tried to organize both districts to do some street contacting on Main Street, but it was almost like a ghost town there.
We walked around for about an hour, talking to the few people who were around, at which point we decided to go knock some doors. After we finished a street, we were all cold, so we ended the event with a nice chill session at Dunkin Donuts for hot chocolate. Always a good time.

Thursday was another interesting day. Because there was a blizzard on the way. Which meant that people were busy trying to get settled down for the storm. We got both districts together again for some door knocking action. We figured it might be a good time to find people at home since it was so cold outside. It was a decent theory at least. We still met some very nice people though.

When we woke up on Friday, the snow was still falling. It was terrible. We got a call that we weren't allowed to drive because of the snow and bad driving conditions. So we hunkered down and waited for the snow to stop. The other elders showed up at our pad, they walked in the snow. We had some lunch together and chilled. When the snow stopped falling, we went out and shoveled our car out, then we headed out to go do some service for people. We picked an area where we knew there was a decent number of Hispanics. We walked around for about two hours. Not many people were willing to accept our help, but we were able to help out a woman from Guatemala that we knew. She was shoveling out a car that was halfway free already. So we helped her finish up. She lives in the same house as the members we visited on Christmas Eve. She was the one who made the tamales for us. I joked with her that this was repaying her for the tamales and she told me that she would make us as many tamales as we wanted if we helped her with the snow. We'll have to keep that in mind for the next snow storm.

Saturday was a sunny day with lots of snow on the ground. One of the missionaries in the English district organized a free hot chocolate stand, so we went and helped out with that in the afternoon. Everyone else was busy, so it was just the four of us handing out hot chocolate for two hours. It was a good time, we even managed to give out a few cards.

Sunday was the first day of our new church schedule. We now start church at 1 instead of 9. It is an interesting change. And with branch council after church, we left at 12 and didn't get home until like 6. Talk about a long fast Sunday. It was good though. We tried to look some people up in the evening, but had no luck. Such is life.

Hopefully now that the holidays are over we can get some things going. It's just a matter of time and patience, I figure. Love you guys!

Elder Erickson

Thursday, January 2, 2014

70th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

The Year of New York        written Dec 30, 2013

Tomorrow will bring an end to the calendar year of my mission. The one year of my life that will be entirely spent on my mission. Only part of 2012 and part of 2014, but 2013 was the year of New York City. And I must say, it was a good one.

The Christmas Eve mission conference was a great success. All of the songs went well, we had a nice lunch, and I got to see all of my friends for Christmas. Can't ask for much more than that. I think it was more fun to see everybody than to hear all the music and stuff. We took pictures with each zone and with the whole mission.

December 24, 2013  Entire NY NY South Mission
December 24, 2013  Zone Picture - Elder Erickson on the right....
This was a slow week. My companion is and has been sick all week. So there were a number of times this week when we would just go home and he would sleep. I don't mind that, it just means that we didn't visit or teach very much this week. We spent time getting to know the area in Patchogue, New York.

In other news, I'm putting together another concert for January. I got a call from my friend Elder Lavelle in Far Rockaway. He wants to put together another concert like we did last year, but this time about the Plan of Salvation instead of the Restoration. Thankfully, I'm only in charge of music. He's taking care of the script and the organization. I just have to find musicians and arrangements. I love it. In the past, I've had to work with whoever was nearby and could make it to the event. Since the concert will be in Far Rockaway or Belle Harbor, I can do whatever I want. There are no limits this time around. I'm only calling the best. Or at least the people I think are the best. This concert is going to blow people's minds. There's another elder in he English ward that shares the building with us here, named Elder Veser. He's putting together a Restoration concert for this area and asked for my help. I'm apparently playing 5 numbers for that one. That should be fun. I just hope the two concerts don't fall on the same day. That would end poorly.

Also, the shoulder bag works great. I wish we walked around more so I could utilize it better, but I still like it. Thanks for sending that.

Love you guys! Thanks for everything!

Elder Erickson