Tuesday, February 18, 2014

77th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Never Ending Winter    written February 17, 2014

It just doesn't stop, apparently. I'm so done with all of this snow.

Here's the tale for the week. The English classes are still going well. As usual. We have some new faces coming, which is always fun. None of the people we've met with in the past, but that lets us talk to some new people. We also had interviews with President Calderwood this week. There's a set schedule for them, but they always go over somehow. We also met with the AP's to get more training on how to use our iPads more effectively. I'm still not very convinced on the iPads. But I think thats because I did so much of my mission without them. I guess I'm part of the old and dying generation of missionaries. So those took up a lot of our time.

Thursday we had a giant snow storm come in. It was ridiculous. So much darn snow. There really wasn't much we could do, so we went out with two other missionaries and visited members to shovel their snow. We worked for two hours and cleared out two houses, then we were freezing cold and tired. It kept snowing pretty much all night and the roads were terrible, so we couldn't do much more that day.

On Valentine's Day we had a zone training meeting out in Riverhead. Then we had a meeting with our branch mission leader. We tried to look up some people, but to no avail. We ended up with dinner at a member's house. We had never been to their house before, so it was an adventure. We had the classic chicken, beans, and rice combo. With some Kool-Aid to the side. Can't go wrong there. It was a solid way to end the day.

Saturday we had an activity in a different area. We went to a neighboring city and we were supposed to help them give out free hot chocolate. But by the time we got there, it was starting to snow. So we ended up just holding up signs on the side of the road to get people to see us. We were out there for about an hour and we got a decent number of honks from people. Not many people on the street to talk to, but at least people are noticing us. We went out to dinner with a member later that night. He took us to this sweet Hispanic/Portuguese restaurant. It was really good food. We got hooked up. By the time we finished there, the snow was really coming down. The roads were too rough to do much, so we turned in.

Church went well. We had a nice surprise when someone from the English classes actually showed up! His name is David and he even stayed for the full three hours. It was baller. I talked with him and we're going to meet with him on Tuesday to teach him about the Restoration. Later that day, we went to take the sacrament to a woman in the branch. She just had a baby, so she couldn't make it to church. We ended up staying and visiting with them for a while. Neither Mason or I knew them very well, so it was fun to get to know them better and enjoy chatting with their family.

The Lighthouse on Montauk, NY
And this morning we had a fun adventure. We all got up at 4 and drove out to Montauk on the very end of Long Island to see the sunrise. It was very very cold, but definitely worth it. You don't see a sunrise like that very often.
Enjoy your week. Love, Elder Erickson

Awaiting the Sun's Arrival
Just as the Sun hits the Horizon

Growing in Strength
Now Bringing in the Warmth

76th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchoque, New York

FROZEN written February 10, 2014

This was a pretty slow week. Not too much going on, cold weather, lots of snow; people were just not having it this week. But that's okay. Surprisingly, we still had a decent turn out to English classes this week. Usually when it snows and is super cold, people don't come to the classes. Yet for some reason, everybody still came this week. So that was a nice surprise. People seem to be enjoying them and learning things. The phrase of the week was "English is weird" and we all say it every time we have to learn a tricky concept. The people we've been teaching didn't come this week, so hopefully they come next week.

We did some classic door knocking this week. Not too much success, but we met some kind people. I find that the colder it is, the less likely people are to let us in. We can't really do much about it but keep trying. We met with a less active named Danny and his wife and kids. The two kids are ages 7 and 5, they are the sweetest kids. Their grandma brings them to church every week because their parents don't go. I know them from primary, so we chatted with them for a bit. This was the first time we had met Danny's wife before. We sat down to teach them about how obedience brings blessings. Elder Mason taught the lesson and he did a good job, but she just wanted to argue with us about hypocrisy and how she doesn't think certain things should be. We tried to explain that everyone has their own agency, but if we just follow the teachings of the Gospel, it will all turn out well. She wasn't really having it, so we eventually just wrapped up the lesson. If you want to argue and find problems, you'll find them. But they don't really get you anywhere.

Friday we had a number of things set up with various people to come by and teach them. And yet somehow they all managed to fall through. We had a nice surprise though. We went to look up someone we had talked to before. Some guy answered the door and told us he had no idea who that person was. We told him we were missionaries and asked to share a message about Jesus Christ with him. He told us to come on in. We chatted for about forty five minutes and taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. He seemed a little skeptical, but told us he was willing to read and pray. He asked some really good questions too, it was a good lesson. We're going to meet with him again this Thursday and try to get him to church.

We also met with the Ventura family again. We were hoping to teach his wife again, but things were distracting with their two year old son and she wasn't really paying attention. We talked about the importance of the scriptures and encouraged them to come to church. They said they would, but didn't end up coming. It happens. Life throws all sorts of distractions at us.

Sunday was our branch conference, so we had all sorts of stake people there. It was odd to see so many white people in sacrament meeting. It was a good meeting though. We even had food afterward. Apparently the dinner after branch conference is a tradition out here. I think it should be a tradition everywhere. We looked up a bunch of less actives during the evening, but nobody was home. Nothing new there. Just another week in New York. Life is great, as always. We just need to reconnect with some people this week and we'll be back in business.

Elder Erickson

Friday, February 7, 2014

75th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

My Super Bowl Party              written Feb 3, 2014

This was a good week. Elder Mason and I have been companions for eight weeks now. We were given two less active families to work with. And this week, we managed to get both of them to church. That is what I call a good week. Here's the tale.

Monday night we had a tentative appointment with the Briceno family. We had kind of set it up, but it wasn't super set in stone. We just drove over in hopes that they would be there. And lo and behold, we were in luck. I had never met with the Bricenos before. Elder Mason had only been over there once. So we sat down with the father and got to know him a bit. Then his wife came in and we got it know her too. He is a firefighter in Manhattan from the Dominican Republic. She is from El Salvador and is apparently related to people I worked with back in Midwood and in Far Rockaway. So that was kind of funny. They have two kids, a five year old boy and an right month old daughter. Super cute kids. Really cool family. She is a return missionary, she served in San Bernardino back in 1994. We chatted with them for a while and taught a lesson. They told us they want to be more active in the church, but it's difficult with work and the kids. They said they wanted to bless their baby in church this Sunday though and that her father was going to come from a neighboring ward to do the blessing. Well fair enough, it's a start of getting hyphen regularly back to church. Hopefully we'll be able to meet with them more and keep working with them.

The next day we were in charge of teaching English classes again. I took our friend Antonio aside for the advanced class again. He wanted to work on reading and comprehending English better. I don't really have any English books for him to read, so I pulled out the simplified Book of Mormon. It worked out because it was pretty much at his level of comprehension, but there were still words he didn't know. Afterwards, I asked him to stay for about ten minutes and we taught him about the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy in Spanish. He said that he would be willing to read it and pray about it. We met with him again the next day and he had actually read what we asked him to. That was awesome. We taught him about the restoration, but he had two of his kids with him and they were tired, so we didn't get all the way through. I told them we would set a timer for ten minutes so they could get home soon. They were sweet kids.

Thursday I was on exchanges with the district leader, Elder Richardson. We had to drive into the mission office to take care of some things, so that filled up most of our afternoon. In the evening, we knocked some doors and then we visited less active number two for the week. This time it was the Ventura family. He is a member of some twenty years and his wife is not a member. They also have two young kids, a nine year old daughter and three year old son. The mother wasn't home when we went over, but we met with Brother Ventura. He is a super nice dude. We talked about baptism and about enduring the end. Based on his responses, he knows all of this is true and he knows what he should be doing, he just kind of lost sight of it for a bit. He asked us to start teaching the lessons to his wife because he wants her to get baptized too. And he said that he was going to start coming to church every week. So I would consider that a successful night as well. We also finally found out what time is good for him so we can start visiting him more regularly.

We organized a fun family home evening activity for the branch on Friday evening. Elder Mason and I taught the spiritual thought on the Brother of Jared and do the sisters organized a bunch of games for everyone to play. It was a ton of fun, everybody had a good time. Nobody really new came, but it was one of our first times doing an activity like this. As we get more consistent, people will start bringing their friends.

Saturday was kind of a bummer because I woke up sick. The seminary teacher here asked for our help in setting up an activity that evening, so we went just to help her out. Thankfully, there were other missionaries around too to help out because I was pretty useless. The activity went well, though I'm not exactly sure what it was for. It was just kind of a random seminary appreciation night. Never a bad thing, I guess.

The whole week was worth it on Sunday though. We were supposed to go teach Brother Ventura's wife in he morning, but I was not feeling well at all. So we called the other missionaries and Elder Mason went with one of them while the other stayed with me. The lesson went okay, they said. But most importantly, when we got to church that day, both of the families were there. It was so great. The Venturas with both kids and the Bricenos with both kids and extended family for the blessing. It all went well and we had a lovely testimony meeting. I was still feeling sick, so we went home after sacrament meeting so I could rest. But hey, it was still a good day.

So that's the first step. Now it's just keeping them coming to church and getting them to the temple. The work is just getting started.

Elder Erickson