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 Herm├ín 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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

81st Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Carrot Cake Imposter written March 17, 2014

Another week of adventures in Long Island. It just doesn't stop.

We finally got to meet with the Briseno's again last Monday. Unfortunately, Brother Briseno wasn't there, but with still met with his wife. We brought a recent convert in the branch with us. His name is Josue and he is about 16 years old, from El Salvador. He's a funny kid. He tries to teach me a bunch of slang from El Salvador, then Elder Mendez keeps telling me that everything he taught me is ridiculous and doesn't mean anything. It's hilarious. So we bring him with us and we taught a sweet lesson about the Atonement and how to utilize it. Afterwards, she went to get us something to drink and Josue starts telling us that we feel like naranjas secas when we teach. That means dried oranges. He called us dry oranges. We still have no idea what that means. We laughed and laughed about it. It was so random for him to come out with that. We had a good time with Josue, he's a fun kid.

Moving on from there, we had a zone conference the next day. Nothing too profound there, but it was fun to see people from the zone. Later that day, we taught English class again. We're pulling like 20 people to each class now. It's pretty awesome. We've been trying to meet with people individually, but it's not working out too well. So this week we're going to teach the restoration on Tuesday and pass out Books of Mormon to everyone on Wednesday. It's going to be a party.

We had a number of appointments this week and it seems like everybody wanted to cancel on us. We did a number of lookups on Thursday and Friday, but to no avail. On Friday evening while we were looking for people, we found a street that looked pretty Hispanic. We decided to knock a few doors. We met a couple of people who said we could come back. Then we met a woman who was cooking when we knocked the door. We chatted for a moment. She said that she had met with sister missionaries before and that we could come back another day to talk with her. Then she told us to wait a moment and she went away. She came back with two cups of some hot liquid that she gave to us. We thanked her and left. We tried the drink. It tasted kind of like arroz con leche, or rice milk, but there was something off about it. After the initial arroz con leche taste, you got hit with a strong taste of black licorice. It was gross. I tried to appreciate it, but the black licorice flavor was just too gross. We poured it out once we got home and it looked like arroz con leche, but there were like these funky herbs at the bottom that gave it a nasty smell and the gross taste. Shame. The woman was from Ecuador, so I asked a guy from Ecuador at church on Sunday. He said it's some drink called morrocho and that he loves it. Hopefully she doesn't give us more when we go back to meet with her.

The next day we were on exchanges, so I was with Elder Ozuna. He's straight from the Dominican Republic. We had a number of things set up for the day and we decided to speak in only Spanish all day. We didn't make it quite all day, but pretty much the whole day, so it was good practice. While we were eating lunch, we got a call from Elder Coca that a member from the singles ward was getting married at the chapel that day and the missionaries were invited. So we headed on over to help set up and stuff. Apparently this was super last minute and very small. The bride is from London and her parents couldn't come out, so it was just the groom's family and the missionaries and they Skyped in the parents. I luckily had that book of classical music for the piano, so I played some prelude music for them. It turned out to be a very nice event.

We got juked at our two appointments in the afternoon. We knocked some doors and looked up some less actives. Nothing too exciting. We did get to eat some pupusas for lunch though, so that was a plus. In the evening, there was a baby shower for a woman in the branch. They invited the whole branch to come, so we went for the free food. We helped set up and we mingled as they played all the babyshower games. The downside was that we had two people who said we could come back after 8 on Saturday night, so Elder Ozuna and I had to leave just as dinner was served. We snagged a plate and headed off. And on top of that, when we showed up at their houses, nobody was there. It was a sad moment for both of us. So to salvage the night, we headed down to the beach to look at the full moon over the ocean for a few minutes. Elder Ozuna was happy because it reminded him of his island back home.

The adventures continued the next day. Not too much happened at church or in the afternoon, but we had dinner with a member that night. So we show up, and when we got there, they were still making it. The daughter had a bunch of carrots and was using a peeler to peel them. She had a pretty decent pile of carrot slices and some peeled carrots on a plate. We figured they were going to put it in a salad or like a soup or something, I don't know. We ate dinner, rice and beef soup. Pretty normal stuff. Then the wife announces we're going to have postre de zanahoria, or carrot cake, in English. I was pumped. I love carrot cake! But then I started thinking. Wait. The daughter just peeled the carrots like a half an hour ago. And I never saw her make a cake or anything of the like. I tried to rationalize it, maybe she likes making carrot cake and was just getting ready for another one. Then she pulls a bowl out of the fridge. She sets it on the table and what do we find inside? Sliced carrot, mixed with raisins, covered in condensed milk. Her husband and daughter were so excited about it. Elder Mendez and I looked at each other with a mix of bewilderment and fear. It was super weird. It didn't taste bad, just kind of uncomfortable to eat. Very chewy for some reason. Worst carrot cake ever.

Here's to another week of adventures and hopefully good food.

Elder Erickson

Saturday, March 15, 2014

80th Epistle From Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

NEW COMPANION         written March 10, 2014

This week has been a blast. On Tuesday I said goodbye to Elder Mason and welcomed Elder Mendez to Patchogue. He is a really cool guy. He is from Los Angeles and his parents are from Mexico. They pretty much only speak Spanish, so Elder Mendez speaks it really well. I think my vocabulary has doubled in just the last week alone. He's been on his mission for about 15 months, so we're both pretty old out here. The other new missionary in our district is named Elder Ozuna and he is straight from the Dominican Republic. So now our district is unstoppable when it comes to speaking Spanish.

We've been more or less up to the usual things. Teaching English class on Tuesday and Wednesday. People are enjoying it, but few of them are interested in the church. That's okay, they may gain interest over time. We did a bunch of door knocking on Wednesday and met a number of people. Now it's just a matter of continually going back and hopefully finding a time to meet with them.

We met up with a less active family on Thursday night, the Diaz family. We taught about divine worth and how no matter what has happened in our lives, we're still children of God and can always repent. It went well, but they still didn't come to church. We'll just have to keep trying.

Friday we got to teach Hermano Ventura and his wife who isn't a member. She made us a huge dinner of chicken and rice and salad, then we sat down to talk. He would really like her to get baptized, but nobody is quite sure how she feels about it. She won't ever open up to anyone. We tried to talk to her about how she can get an answer about baptism, but she was very quiet and wouldn't answer most of our questions. She is a very nice woman, she's just very shy.

Saturday was spent mostly looking for people. We knocked a lot of doors and looked up a lot of people, to no avail. We had a good time though. I got to knock doors with Elder Ozuna and learn some Dominican sayings. Grano a grano se le llena la gallina el buche. Take it for what you will.

Sunday was a nice day too. Church went well. I got to translate for another speaker from the stake. Translating on the stand is always an adventure. It was cool though, because I had Elder Mendez on the front row and if there was ever a word I didn't know, I would just ask him. Nice to have native speakers around. Later, we had dinner with a member family. We got chicken sandwiches, El Salvador style. Which is essentially shredded chicken, cabbage, beets, and romaine lettuce. I really enjoyed them. After that, we visited a less active family and they gave us a salad that was really just chopped up cucumber, tomato, and almonds. I feel like a salad should have lettuce, but apparently cucumber and tomato is all you need. Whatever. It was still pretty good.

And here we are today. We've got an appointment set up with the Briceno family for tonight, so hopefully they don't cancel on us again. Things are going well, the weather is warming up, and I'm learning lots of Spanish. Life is good.

Elder Erickson

Sunday, March 9, 2014

79th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

End of Another Transfer               written March 3, 2014

Transfer calls came on Saturday night and I will be getting a new companion on Tuesday! It's been a good run with Elder Mason here, but it's time for someone new. We're only losing two people from our district, Elder Mason and Elder Richardson. They will be missed dearly here.

Last Monday we got invited to a family home evening with a member family. Every week they invite a bunch of people over and have a lesson and a treat. I haven't been to a normal family home evening like that in a long time. It was a good time. We weren't in charge of anything, we just showed up, added some comments to the lesson, and enjoyed cheesecake and orange juice afterward. Can't go wrong there.

Tuesday we were supposed to meet with the Briceno family again, but they ended up canceling at the last minute. So we headed over to help out with English classes instead. Always a good backup. There are some new people coming, we've hit an all time record of twenty people at the classes. And yet every person we've tried to meet with and teach has stopped coming. Funny how that works. All we can do is move on to new people.

Wednesday I had an exchange with Elder Richardson. It was only for part of the day though, so by five, I was back with Elder Mason. There wasn't much to do in the afternoon, but we cooked up some baller lunch and we unsuccessfully looked up people. We did an activity where we walk down Main Street and have to hand out three book of Mormons to people along the way. It worked, we gave out the books, but nobody was particularly interested in it. At least they have the book now and might read it out of curiosity. Back with Mason, we had dinner with the branch president and then headed back for the church to teach another round of English classes.

Thursday is our usual day for a knocking blitz. It was horrifically cold that night. We went out and tried, but after about twenty minutes of freezing rejection, we headed in for a break from the cold. The rest of the night was spent looking up former investigators. Some of them are from a couple of years back, and don't live there anymore, others are never home, but they have all had contact with missionaries before, so it's always a good thing to look them up.

Friday we had a branch game night at the church. We invited all of the English class students and two of them actually came! It was fun to have them there. The sisters organized some minute to win it-type games for us all to play. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. Ice cream and cookies for dessert, it was a complete party. We didn't have the best branch turnout, but those who did come had a good time, so I'd say it was a success.

Saturday was pretty much more of the same. We helped clean the church in the afternoon and then looked up some people we've worked with before. We met a couple of new people, but nobody very interested. We ended the night with milkshakes from McDonald's. Best way to end a day, in my opinion.

Sunday was largely uneventful. Someone thought it would be a good idea to have branch council after church on fast Sunday. I recommend not doing that ever. Nobody is happy to be in that meeting at 4:30 in the afternoon when they haven't eaten all day. But the show must go on, so we sat through the meeting for another hour. There was some nice
coordination about the next game night and we discussed doing an Easter Concert, so it was a good meeting in the end. We were just very hungry the whole time. We finished up the night by visiting some people so Elder Mason could say goodbye.

And that brings us to today. New companion tomorrow, we just need to get some solid appointments set up so we're not endlessly looking for people. So hopefully this week or the next we can get cruising again.

Elder Erickson

Saturday, March 1, 2014

78th Epistle from Elder Kaleb Erickson serving in Patchogue, New York

Concerts and Good times written February 24, 2014

It was the week of the Belle Harbor Concert 2.0. You might remember about a year ago we did a Restoration concert in Belle Harbor. It was a big ordeal back then, I was in charge of the music and Elder Walton ran the rest of it. We had a bunch of performers from all over the mission come in NAND it was a fun event. I got a call in January from Elder Lavelle, asking me if I would help with another concert. The goal was to do a Plan of Salvation concert this time around. I was again put in charge of the music, so I called up all of my performing peeps. We had eight songs in total and they wrote a script with people speaking in between the numbers.

We had a dress rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon, so everybody headed to the mission office. Some of the songs weren't quite ready yet, so we went through what we had, then I stayed to help some people out their songs. It took up most of our day, especially since it's a pretty far drive from where we are to the mission office.

The concert was on Sunday afternoon at 4. A rough time for missionaries, but apparently a good time for Belle Harbor. We had to miss our branch, so we went to the English ward to take the sacrament. It worked out because I got to play the organ for them. They were very excited to have someone playing for a change. We had to leave by 1 to pick up another set of missionaries and get there by 3. There was lots of frantic last minute setup and issued transporting the other performers, but it all worked out in the end. Everyone performed really well. There were maybe 60 people in attendance and probably some 20 of them were nonmembers. Everyone seemed to have a good time, so I'd say it was a success. After it was all over, I played some postlude music and transitioned into music from Frozen. There were some young kids there that thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was a lot of fun.

So that all went well. We had two other cool events this week. The first was when we met with David. He was the guy from English classes who randomly came to church last week. We got to meet with him after English classes on Tuesday. We explained the restoration to him and he seemed to think it was alright. We gave him a Book of Mormon and asked him to read and pray about it. He said he would. We met again on Wednesday with him. He had actually read the first chapter of Nephi and really liked it. That was sweet. We asked him why he came to church and he said because he wants to change his life. Wow. That's incredible. I asked what he wanted to change. He said that he had made a lot of mistakes in his life and he wants to leave them behind and live a better life. Well good news David. There's this sweet thing called repentance and baptism, you're going to love it. We committed him to try to repent and he agreed to get baptized eventually. He just wants some more time to learn about the church first. He didn't make it to church this week, but he seems very sincere about wanting to change and sounds willing to change. We'll see how things go with him.

The other fun event was our branch temple trip on Saturday. We have been working with a less active member, Hermano Ibarra, who hadn't been to the temple in a long time. He got his temple recommend last week, so we got to go with him to do baptisms for the dead. Every companionship in our district had a less active or a recent convert going, so we all got to go on the trip. It was a really nice trip with all of the members there. We had to leave super early and drive into Queens, then hop on the subway to make it to the temple in Manhattan. Made for quite the adventure.

So in the end, it was a great week. Successful concert, fun temple trip, and a new investigator. Can't go wrong there.

Love you guys!
Elder Erickson