Monday, April 22, 2013

#20 [Azua - 16] April 22nd, 2013

Wow! Thank you so very much for your love and emails and prayers. I seriously love hearing about everything going on back at home. Everyone sounds so happy.

We sang in church yesterday. It was either me speak, or me suggest that all of the sisters sing. So we sang :) It went alright. I still don’t like singing in front of people.

I heard a little about the bombs (Boston Marathon.) I had no idea what happened. I really think it is so odd how cut off from the world I am on this little island. I don’t hear ANY news. It’s kinda terrible, but probably a good thing. Just weird to think that life goes on outside of the mission.

Oh, so the other day, we had interviews, and they didn’t take our weight, so I don’t know how much I have gained. Might be a good thing, but who knows? I plan on losing any weight that I gain with soccer when I get back, or something of the sort. Also, Hermana Rodriguez talked about our emails. She said not to mention anything that would bring the family down. So it got me thinking, I hope I don’t say things that bring you down. I try to make them lively and somewhat interesting, with typos, of course. :)

I found this cool quote the other day: "Vice cannot stand one moment against Virtue’s uplifted arm" and I really liked it. I don’t know why, it just sounds cool. So remember it! :) Also, congrats on the Jesus the Christ. I just got to Chapter 20 today. It’s interesting. I liked learning about the apostles, :) they are so cool.

Oh, so get this. The other day, we were with A.... He had told us that he had something to tell us, and that he was excited for his baptism. But this thing kinda stopped him from baptism. So we ask him, and he’s like, "I don’t wanna be friends with H G, I want to be more than friends. I am in love with her." and he didn’t think he was doing the whole baptism thing for the right reason.!!!! UGH!!! How frustrating. We thought he was progressing so much, ugh. But yeah, so he’s not gonna get baptized anytime soon. We have to talk to him to make sure he really has a testimony and whatnot, we’ll see. I will let you know if anything comes of it, but it made H G really upset.

We were at a lesson the other day, and a huge wasp lands on one of our investigator’s legs, and he picks it up and just squishes it in his fingers. Grossed me out big time, some people.

Oh, so for H G's birthday – It was on Saturday the 20th. We had it all planned the week before. We woke up early and decorated her desk a little, giving her a crown and making her breakfast in bed. Then, we made a cake during breakfast for the devotional that we were having that night (it was more of a party, but we thought we would label it devotional) and then we ordered food in from a restaurant, delicious, and then me and H H went and decked out the entire house, while they went to English class, just to find out that the class bought her a huge cake. And by then, we went to pick up a huge cake that we ordered a few days ago, and we went to the devotional, and no one showed up for the first 20 minutes, so we ate the cake that we took (we also got chased down by a homeless man when he saw we were carrying a cake – THAT was interesting.) But at the devo, she was in a bad mood because no one came, and then K... and all of his friends came, and she cheered up and said she didn’t want anymore cake (but we had a surprise party at our house waiting) and so we went home, and she saw the cake, and we gave her presents, and yeah. K... gave her a gift, and that small light up flower out shined all of our efforts. Yep. That made her happy, and nothing that we did really mattered to her, but oh well. :)Yep, that was her birthday. Thank goodness it’s over. Now only 363 days!!!!! let the countdown begin.

So for some reason, ALL of the people here love giving us fruit. Everyday, me and HH come home with bags full of mangoes and bananas and platanos. It is ridiculous. The other day, A... and C... (the 2 guys that came to church - who came again and loved it and both have baptismal dates for the 18th of May) gave us like 20 lbs. of fruit! They had to carry it home for us because they are super sexist and didn’t think we could. Which I probably could, but it was a nice gesture of them. But yeah, they LOVE giving us fruit. No one gives the other sisters fruit, but EVERYONE - even people who we just contact. I don’t know why, but we will always have a nice supply of fruit. 

Well, this week was about as good as the others, not bad. Life is going on. The mission is great. People are changing. I am very excited about the baptisms that we have coming up. I have heard that they might make our girls train this next transfer, but I don’t think so. There are apparently 17 more sisters coming in in the next 2 weeks, so they might have to, but hopefully not, they are NOT ready. I wish I could say they are, but they can’t speak as easily. They have grown loads though. I am very proud of them. I have also grown a lot in the last 5 weeks of training. It’s tough to train, but worth it. I have learned so much about myself. There's stuff I want to change. It’s bad when you get annoyed with yourself, haha.

Well, I can’t think of much more to say. I love you all so much and am grateful for this opportunity to serve. Thank you for your love and support. I know this church is true and that the work will go on.

I am not sure when we will be calling on Mother’s Day. I have been told that they celebrate it on the 10th here, so we might do it then? Also, I have heard that if we want to skype, we have to do it on Monday. I have NO idea what is going on with Mother’s Day. It is in 20 days though. I have a paper chain. I am fairly excited about it. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) a little.

With the package ideas, I can’t think of anything. My shoes are holding up fine. I have been searching for rain shoes, because yesterday it rained a LOT and holy cow, I am glad I had the white rubber ones. We actually went on the roof and danced for a bit because we didn’t have an appointment. The streets flooded and it was awesome. But shoes, I don't know if I need any. I realized that I don’t have a red shirt, and that made me sad. So if you find one that is just light and not fancy or anything, I would be happy to take it off your hands :)

Well, I gotta go. I love you!! :) The church is true!!

Hermana Erickson 1

Thursday, April 18, 2013

#19 [Azua - 15] April 15th, 2013

FIRST OFF - HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACOB!!! :) I love you so much!!

Thank you for sending along Riss’s letters :) she sounds so happy. And she writes humorously, too. I wonder if that is some inherited trait from dad or mom. I almost died laughing about dad’s writing from Hawaii... so it could be him haha. I seriously laughed super hard when he talked about the bird poop and that he sniffed it. I still crack up while writing about it.

So this week was great. Before I tell you all about it, I am going to answer your questions.
    •    A..., still working towards baptism? Kinda. We went and asked him how he felt about it, and he was like, "good, BUT." and then he wouldn’t tell us!!! So he has something to tell us, but he won’t tell us what it is. It is super annoying, but still, once he tells us, we can just get it out of the way. Goodness, boy. But I don't think he’ll be baptized when we had him planned, but the fact that he actually accepted is quite a feat.
    •    How is the work going? Good!!! We found this new barrio (like village thing) down at the bottom of our area that we had never been to, and me and H. H. have been going down there lots. We contact everyone, and they are all quite receptive. So we have good prospects for that place, Villa Palmareja. (VIA- PALM-MAREHA how you pronounce it.)
    •    Are you in different wards/branches now? One or two companionships in a ward/branch? Nope, we are 3 pairs of missionaries in the same branch. They are so lucky to have 6 missionaries. :)
    •    Is H. G. doing better? Yes. They went to the capital and she is now completely healed, I think. She acts all better, so I think she is.
    •    Are they still teaching K...? Oh, let me tell you all about K.... So they are teaching him, and the other day, they were with him, and they told him that they had a few people getting baptized on the 4th of May, and then he was like, "I want to get baptized, I just don’t have a date." haha – so they put a date, and HE IS GETTING BAPTIZED MAY 4TH !!!!! I freaked out. Almost to the point of tears. I am so happy; haven't been this happy in a very long time. :) We have been teaching him since JANUARY! and now he is getting baptized. He asked his step-brother to baptize him. It’ll be special. I can’t even wait. :) :) :) :) :) :) And I am counting him as my baptism. :)

And about the thing with Sister P., you could just tell everyone that I am doing well. The Spanish is coming along. People now acknowledge me as ESPANOLA - so that is a big deal. It could be because I am dark, but I like to think it is because of my Spanish. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Thank you for the Hawaii update. I am so glad that you all had a fun time, and that my second package came.

Oh, the other day, I was randomly having a rough day, and it was awful. I don’t know Spanish super good, and the people are rude (one lady called me fat – or told me that I was fatter than when I first got here. I take it as motivation to workout and eat better... I just hope it isn’t true.) and I was just really having a hard time. Then I was reading letters and “dearelders” that you sent me, and they gave me comfort, and then I read Kelton’s, and laughed and thought of the blind sheep story that gave him comfort, and then I decided that I would ask you to write me a blind sheep story to help me in times of hardship :) So, could you maybe possibly come up with an inspirational story that wasn’t supposed to be inspirational? :) haha or just a funny story to read when I am depressed, or under the weather, or discouraged. Thanks :)

The other day while we were walking, these 15 or so kids stopped us and asked us to teach them from the Bible. So we sat down, and they were just gathered around us. We asked if we could sing first, so we started with a hymn. Then, they start clapping! We started laughing, and then stopped. They chanted for another, so we decided to pick a slower one, with not much of a beat (so they couldn’t clap) and we chose Nearer My God to Thee. It was going well, and then they found the beat, which I never noticed existed. After, some kid started stroking my feet. He was probably 3... and that was weird. So I moved my feet, and then they gave us HUGE bundles of flowers. They grow on trees here, and they wanted us to put them in our hair, so we did to humor them. I attached a pic. We had an appointment after, and wore the flowers in our hair. I felt very Mexican. H. H. looked normal... but I looked ridiculous. Our appointment wasn’t home, so we walked home. It made the night a little better :) I love children.

Speaking of children, one of our investigators,had her baby the other day. Anyways, we go to her house because her daughter tells us that she is home. So we walk in, and she’s just sitting with a bunch of her friends, NAKED. She had a robe on, but it was wide open. H. H. made fun of my reaction, but I think it was appropriate. She asked if we could come in and share, and I was like, "uh....uh...umm.... we actually just want to make an appointment with you.... uh....... is there.. um.. a better time?" and all of the uh and umms, I am looking around, trying to make eye contact and contact with nothing else... but people here have no shame. I may take up their not shaving, but I will ALWAYS wear clothes especially in front of my friends, and little children. Gross.

On Sunday, we had 4, yes, FOUR investigators come, and the other sisters had 4 as well!! The elders had 2, but still. :) We usually have FOUR with us three comp-ships combined. We had a guy from Villa Palmareja come, and he sounds like a Black Jesus – really. No one believed me, until they heard him speak. His name is A.... He is really cool. He has a baptism date for the 18th of May. The other day, we were teaching him, and his friend, C..., came and joined. They both came to church and LOVED it! They said they would return without fail. We also had S... and his "son" come. It’s about time.

The work is coming along. I am so happy to be a part of God’s powerful army. I know that what I am doing is the work of an Almighty God, and it cannot fail :) that always gives me comfort. I love this church. I love the gospel. I love telling people how happy it makes me, and seeing it change people’s lives. I know God knows me personally. I don’t always feel His guidance, but I know it’s there. I am not alone in this work, and He is behind all of the little things. I don’t feel like I have grown much over the past 4 months, but maybe I have. (not counting weight wise. Speaking of that - to totally ruin the mood - we have interviews on Thursday, and they take weight. Maybe I will let you know if I gain any :/ haha), but I know the church is true. I am so blessed to be a member. Thank you for raising me in the church and in such a great family. I think of the family every single day. You are the reason I smile and laugh. I talk about the fam-bam all the time. I think the other sisters all know you very well. :) I love you all. I don’t think I have more to say.

This church is true.

-Hermana Erickson 1

Thursday, April 11, 2013

#18 [Azua - 14] April 8th, 2013

Sounds like you are all having a fun time in Hawaii! But thank you for the update!! :) I am having a good time on my island, too. In case you were wondering :) haha

Oh! I LOVED conference!! Oh my goodness. It was all in Spanish, but I think I got some good stuff out of it. Even if I didn’t totally understand, I still felt the spirit pretty strong. I freaked out when they announced the CEDAR CITY temple!! We have been hearing rumors about a temple down there for quite some time. I am stoked about it. Also, there was a 70 announced that sounded like Jeffrey A. Erickson. (Not totally sure, because A and K sound the same in Spanish almost, and it might not even be the same name, but it made me laugh.) I am excited to get the Liahona - so I can compare my notes to the actual talks. I bet there are some that I wrote down that had nothing to do with the actual talk haha. But I am looking forward to reading them. :)

Ok, there are two things that I really liked about conference that I want to talk about. Neil A. Anderson talked about sharing the gospel and how there is always an opportunity to share the gospel. And I didn’t think I could’ve when I was home (or I just didn’t want to), but I want to challenge all of you, mom and dad especially, to try to share the gospel. Even if it is just by an email or facebook, just share it. There is nothing to lose. The people who don’t have the gospel have everything at stake, and if they don’t learn, they can't get salvation. So... it’s our job to share the light and truth that we know and have been blessed with.

Also, a lady quoted Pres. Monson about the POW who only had 25 words to say to his family after not talking to them for 2 years. I want to know what you all would say. Maybe you could do it for a FHE or something. Come up with something clever. BUT I WANT YOU TO REPORT BACK ABOUT THIS AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU ALL SAY – If it were to the family, and you were the one in the POW camp. Make sense? Good.

One random thought. I have been wearing my pedometer around constantly for the last 3 months and then on Sunday it stopped working, so sad. I think the battery ran out. I will have to look for another one here. I don’t know where I could find it, but I will look. It is a LR43 maxell. and about smartie size, but yeah, gotta find me one of those.

Last Monday, we played soccer, right? and I got sunburned! So I sent a pic of my new tan. It is pretty bad, but I look... not white!! :)

But back to your letter - mainly because nothing really cool happened this week.
I am glad that you heard from Riss. I still have not. Apparently she left a letter for me, and I don’t know if the elders are going to find it. So...we'll see. Also, the vitamins are still MIA, but whate’er.

Dex is going to Iowa?! That is where Brent is serving. I just got a letter from him, so happy.

It’s weird to think that all of my school guy friends are going to be coming home in the next few months. I got a letter from Ryan Lesser, and he only has 3 months left. Probably 2 now, by the time I got the letter, but wow!!!

I celebrate my 4 months this week. I don’t know if we’ll do anything. I will probably eat a lot of food. Like I have been lately.

The Work here is moving along. We invited everyone we met to conference. We even invited a pastor to come, and gave him an invite, but no one really came. So sad. We had ONE person come that we have been teaching, and she is a less-active. She saw session one, where they talked about the importance of the sacrament, so that was good :) but we even passed by the others and tried to get them to come, even calling them, right before, but no, no soap. WHY DON’T PEOPLE COME TO CHURCH!?!?!? It drives me absolutely nuts. They understand the importance, and that they need to come, but they just don’t. It makes me feel like I am just wasting my time, because if they don’t come to church, they can’t get baptized, and that is our sole purpose - invite them to be baptized. So technically, we’re not failing, they are. We are inviting super a lot – they just don’t follow through.

Although we have been teaching a family for a long time, G... and J. They haven’t ever come to church, and they never read the pamphlets, but the other day, we gave them a BOM, and they have been reading that. I really hope they progress. They are very special. They already feel Mormon, so that is good sign.

Herm H’s wallet got stolen the other night. I guess she set it on the counter, and we paid and then turned to find it, and it was gone. I have been lucky to not have any thief problems.

Training is fun. I enjoy it. But it is hard. She relies on me so much, and it makes me rely on the spirit so much more. Because a lot of times, as I have been teaching lately, I just speak, and I have no idea what I am saying, or even how I am saying it. So I probably have a shocked face as I speak, but I know it’s the spirit. I definitely cannot do this on my own. That is the biggest thing I have learned from training. We don’t clash totally, just a little. I am trying to help her have fun. She admitted to me before that she probably doesn’t let herself have fun, so I said to myself, "challenge accepted," and I am going to help her with that :) I am excited. She’s been learning a lot of Spanish. She has an edge on me because she looks like she can speak. People still don’t totally believe me when I tell them I speak, but they believe her. She also noticed how I get more attention because I look American, but whatever, no big deal.

Remember A...? Well, we committed him to baptism. He finally accepted a date. This was one of the lessons that I was just speaking, and it was all making so much sense, and it just clicked. He has never accepted a date before, so we are working with him a lot. I just want him to be baptized. He means a lot to us.

We had a great Zone meeting on Friday. We talked about consecration and such, and how we need to consecrate ourselves to the work. I have been trying to do that, but I can’t think of anything more to do. It’s frustrating. Do you know of any good talks about it, or any ideas?

Heather - I remember when I swallowed my first Advil. I was probably your age, and I had just as hard of a time as you did. Mom and dad, do you remember? We were at a ward campout :) haha, good times.

Is Hawaiian shaved ice better in Hawaii?

But just so you know, I have been thinking of you all a lot lately. I hope you are having a lot of fun. I love you all, and I miss you lots :) I am reminded every day of the blessing of eternal families.

I am hoping that we can all talk on Mother’s Day - in 34 days. I wanna make a chain. I am stoked beyond belief, but just beware - I might just cry the whole time. This mission thing has made me emotional. But I love you. I have to go now, my time is up. Thank you for loving me and accepting me for being weird and telling you random stuff about the mission.

Oh PS, Herm G didn’t have an ameoba. She was feeling sick the other day, right before conference, so she had to go to the capital and it turns out that she has 2 parasites, a urinary infection, and a kidney infection... so... yep!!! But she and her comp missed conference, sadly. But at least she is feeling better.

Anywho... I love you to the moon and back. :) Have a blast in Hawaii!!! be safe!!! :)
ox ox ox :)

-Hermana Erickson 1

Another PS, can you send Riss’s email to me? She hasn’t told me anything :(

#17 [Azua - 13] April, 1st, 2013

Hello!! Thank you for your letter - I enjoyed it very much. I love that dad sends us a play-by-play of the day. Just like it's always been. It makes me happy :) Thank you, dad, for writing so much, you are very funny to read. Maybe that is where I get it from. OCTOBER BIRTHDAYS!!! :)

Also, congratulations to Jacob for becoming a Bear Scout!! What an accomplishment!! yay!!

As far as the vitamins that Riss apparently left, I don't know if she did. I haven't heard anything about them. So... I hope I get them. I was looking forward to those, and being healthy. I need to work on that. Tomorrow, I will start doing 45 push-ups in the morning, instead of 40. I hope my arms can handle it. If not, they will learn. haha.

I am surprised that you haven't heard anything from Riss or her president, how odd. I hope she is alive.

Yes, I am alive, and I am training! It is so weird! My new companion is 21. Her name is Hermana H. It is REALLY hard for people here to say. Also, it is hard for Americans to say too. I can barely say it. But she is from Springville. She is pretty cool. She doesn't understand my humor, so that could be the most annoying thing, but other than a couple things like that, she's cool. I am learning to love her more every day. She left a month before Riss, so she spent 6 weeks in the MTC here, and can't speak Spanish very well. We make sure to try to split the lesson up evenly, and she does well. She makes me a proud mother; haha.

Hermana G's companion is from Chicago - and she is 19. She came here not knowing Spanish either, but studied real hard in the MTC, and knows quite a lot. She can't understand much, but she can speak. She sounds totally gringa, but still. They are both very sweet. It is super weird having two more sisters in the apartment.

We had to split our area up, and we really didn't know how to. Because most all of our investigators are in the bottom half of our area, and so we both wanted that area, just because. We didn't tell the new girls anything about the area, and we held a house prayer to figure out which area to get. We all prayed, and HG's daughter (comp) felt good about the top half, and mine felt good about the bottom, so that is what happened - so we got most of the investigators. YAY! Which was a miracle - because I have confidence with them, and maybe I wouldn't have had so much with the new people, who knows? But yeah, we have been working pretty hard. None of them came to church, but K... did, and he WAS in our area still (the bottom half,) and then on Thursday, we walk by his house, and he's MOVING! I was in shock. I couldn't say anything. It was terrible. And he was moving like, 2 hours away. BUT it was still in our rama, so that is good. He just won't be our investigator. His sister is in the other sister's area, so they get to teach her, and sometimes he is there. Then, they asked him why he didn't want to get baptized, and he said it was because he was moving, and he loved our branch and didn't want to get baptized and then leave. So...he might be getting baptized soon. We can only hope and pray. I love him. He is the greatest.

When I first started training, I was super nervous because I hadn't really done a lot of talking - Herm G always talked, and didn't really give me the chance to. So, I had like 0 experience with anything, but I prayed a lot, and wow, I felt so confident, and the lessons went really well. I think the people respond really well to me. They told me that I sound native. A lady on the bus asked me if I was Latina :) that was a compliment. And people are starting to think I am Spanish, from Spain, yahoo!!! I apparently sound awesome. It is all the help of the Lord. I am nothing without Him. Thank goodness I have Him though.

How was Easter at home? Hopefully better than it was here. They celebrate Semana Santa here, so they party all week long. They don't even mention Christ. In church, I don't think they mentioned the resurrection at all, which made me miss home a little bit. They always focus so much on Him, and here, all they do is get drunk all week, especially on Sunday. Super sad.

But I love you all very much, I hope you have a great day, and enjoy your trip to HAWAII!!!

I know the church is true. I am so grateful to be speaking Spanish, and to be receiving many blessings due to my service. I hope the family is getting the blessings too. :) love you!!!!!

Also, enjoy general conference!!!!! ox ox ox
probably way too much love,

Hermana Erickson 1