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

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