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