Saturday, November 18, 2017

Week 65 - Busy, Busy...

Hey family,

It's been in interesting day. I feel like I'm doing and experiencing more now more than ever but I'm communicating less of it. There just isn't much time to write.

We had a great P-day today. We went to a little watercolor museum and looked at the pictures intensely. I wish I was more artsy haha. I will try harder when I get back. After that we went to a members house where they gave us some very delicious lasagna, actually. I was surprised. After that we went to a park by our house and played frisbee. After writing we are going to buy food to make a Thanksgiving dinner and stuff. All in all, a great day. That's what I needed.

So Elder Moon will be leaving next week with transfers and I'll be all alone. I'm kind of nervous but I'm confident that I'll be receiving lots of help when I need it from above. All good.

I don't know... I'm doing well. I'm stressed about college and feel bad that I haven't been able to write more. There is no free time. I'm always up to the brim on things to do. This week I'm making a video for the Elders that are going home and get everything all organized for that. This last week elder moon and I made the mission christmas card. I'll send a copy. It's pretty cool.

I love you.
- Elder Ericksen

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Week 64 A Little Reflection

Dearest Friends and Family,
I’ve pondered quite a bit about what I want to share with you when talking about my 20th birthday.  And well, I have decided to just make a list of a few highlights and then after that I want to share some feelings.  It’s interesting that a week has now gone by and I am sitting with the perspective of looking back on the week.  I think it should help me get my point across to all of you.
Birthday highlights
  1. Elder Castagno:  This guy is awesome seriously.  When I woke up at 6:30 am like always, we got a text that he and Elder Cruz were outside.  We opened the door to find them standing there with hot Almohabanas (those buttery Colombian biscuits that I love.  Who knows how Elder Castagno figured out how to make them)   I was happy eating well.  Later we got dressed and went to work on our duties in the office.  I was sitting there on the computer looking at a financial report about mission credit cards, when all of a sudden, I  hear exciting chanting and laughter rolling out of the elevator as Elders Morton, Chevariaga, Cruz and Castagno come skipping and posing with cinnamon rolls.  We all loved it.
  2. President and Hermana Murphy: The excited moment calmed dow briefly and President and Hermana Murphy arrived and brightened up the moment more.
  3. Saca La Resaca:  Walking in they wished me a happy birthday and President announce that it’s not often that the office celebrates a birthday and that eh wanted to take us all out to lunch to a crowd favorite Saca L Resaca.  It is a coastal food restaurant and the name makes a reverence to getting rid of a hangover.  I am not sure what it means, but we all loved the food.  I am realizing that everything I have to say is about food.  I am sorry.
  4. Before ending my discussion of events I need to tell you about the amazing cake and song I had this year thanks to  Hermana Murphy.  It was very different than last year if you recall the photo of me sitting on that little bench with my set purchased cake.
Anyway, my feelings.  All in all this year was much less humble/simple than years past.  I really didn’t feel so out of the norm and I loved it!  I was so surprised and full of joy all day long and I will certainly never forget it.  All that being said, when I got home I was feeling different.  I felt relieved and really loved, but in the same instance I felt like the  kid who gets and A on a group project for just being part of the group even though he didn’t really do anything for it.  I felt like some sort of memory wanderer.  Stuck between to objectives.  I felt like I don’t matter or at least I shouldn’t matter.  Right now in these 2 years, I am not here for me.  It is the other for right now.  Another example:  Technically, I supposed to be writing essays for college and that is so well off and not part of of my brain.  It feels so against the grant be thinking of that far off time. At this point I would rather just going on living day by day here in Ecuador.  But life goes on.  I love guys.  This weeks let’s get everything done that we to, but also really focus on what is important.  Talk soon
Elder Ericksen

Other news
Today was another fun pday we went back to the woods and made a fire and cooked hotdogs with avocado and played more of that mountain cricket game. Ive been really enjoying it! We also had a baptism today which it always fun. it was a 9 year old girl. we got the mom to start going to church again and then she wanted us to teach her daughter and so we baptizes her. All good stuff.

If you look closely you can see the Grandpa Phil’s patented paper airplane being used even in Ecuador.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Week 63 - Well Don't Get Excited...

This has been the busiest week of the mission and I didn't get a chance to write. Here's a quick summary for my favorite people:

We had a visiting Area Authority 70, Elder Falabella, come to the mission and I was responsible for arranging so many things - mainly meals and catering and, wow, so much stuff. Our preparations paid off  and I was glad when it was over. His wife also accompanied him and it was all so awesome.

Today was P-day but it was consumed by our monthly leadership council meeting with the leaders of the mission. We secretaries and assistants went to the mission home early and prepared a big pancake breakfast for everyone before joining the meeting. It was a fun event. We finished around 2 and spent the remainder of our p-day bowling (in our suits) at the Quicentro. It was a BLAST. I will never stop repeating how much I love being with the best mission friends here in Quito.

In other news, I'm 20 now. I'll capture some of my thoughts on my birthday in my letter next week...just know that it was an awesome day! Hermana Murphy made it so special -- she baked me a cake!!!  I was so, so surprised and super happy when I saw it! She really is the best. In our council meeting today, a sister missionary who is going home next change expressed her appreciation for the love of Sister Murphy. I feel the exact same...she loves us all so much and its so apparent in all that she does for us.

So I need to go buy some groceries. I love and miss you all so much!!! Have a great week!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Week 62 - Adjusting to Office Life

Dearest friends and family,
Well everyone, I’m not in Cayambe anymore. By now you’re aware I've been transferred to a new area and given a new assignment. I thought I’d use this week’s letter to fill-in the little details in fun way by talking about the differences:
  • I’m no longer a district leader. I have been called to serve as the mission finance secretary. It’s very different. I work in the mission office here in Quito. I’m really only there for four days of the week because Elder Moon and I have the goal of getting our office responsibilities finished quickly so we can get back to our area to work.
  • My new sector is not rural. It’s in the city and a much wealthier part of Ecuador than anything I’ve seen before. The people in the area aren’t extremely warm, but we are teaching a few of them. There aren’t any dirt roads here in my area. In fact, there isn’t really any dirty anything. My shoes don’t get dusty anymore but they will surely wear down a lot in the coming months.
  • I went from one excellent house in Cayambe (the best I had seen) to an even more excellent house here in Inaquito. It’s large with several bedrooms and bathrooms. There are three showers and extra bunks to “hotel” other missionaries when they come to Quito – for example when old missionaries go home and new ones first arrive. We even have a Jacuzzi tub and an oven, which is something I haven’t seen in a long time.
  • Something very new is the fact that I’m now assigned to my first gringo companion. I’ve come to know many Peruvians and Bolivians, but now I’m with a new friend. He is very smart and is teaching me well the things that I need to do and we get along splendidly. His name is Elder Moon and he is from Idaho.
  • This is interesting. In the beginning of my mission I started super faraway in Esmeraldas. After that I was sent to the other extreme of the mission, even farther from Quito, which eventually included the opening of Colombia and all that fun stuff. Cayambe brought me closer to Quito and Otavalo. And now I am right here, in the center of it all. All come to us, every thing is directed to us, and we send it out to everyone else from the office. I have also loved being so close to Pres. Murphy. It’s been interesting observing how he handles different situations that come our way and I have come to appreciate and know even more just how truly qualified he is to be here, leading and guiding us in our efforts.
  • I have one last point of contrast for you. We no longer have mamitas to help us with lunch and laundry and things. This is because we live pretty far away from where we work and our schedules vary so much, it would be a heavy burden to coordinate and meet needs on both sides. To compensate for this, I receive a slightly larger allowance to buy our lunch. Hearing this at first I thought it might be fatal to my diet, however that is not true at all! I’ve actually felt really good about being able to pick my lunch and when I buy there’s no obligation to eat the entire mound of rice they’ve given me like there would be when eating with our mamita. My favorite Quito restaurants so far? Tropi burger, Menestras del Negro, and Saca La Resaca.
I’m really quite satisfied with the balanced routine Elder Moon and I have set up and I feel as though we haven’t had to ignore any responsibility being a normal missionary and the finance clerk. I am happy, healthy, and learning so much. It’s a great time to be alive!
Elder Ericksen
Other tidbits:
  • Today was a great P-day. We are all kind of broke so we basically just worked out a plan to go hike a hill and then we played a game called "Rocky Mountain Cricket." I’m not sure if it’s a real thing or if it’s just made up but I had an awesome time! Personally, I am really enjoying having p-day on Saturday and being with such awesome missionaries here in the office. 
  • Other than that, life moves on. I’m in-charge of quite a bit and I get calls at weird times throughout the day from people with questions. Yesterday I organized a huge lunch in Otavalo and another in Quito because a general authority is coming to the mission and we want them to eat well. Logistics is kind of hard, haha. The missionaries seem to be happy because we are getting them their money on time. That has been fun. I have lots of ideas and its great talking to President and hearing his input. I know I’ve talked about this a lot, but I really respect him.
  • On Tuesday Elder Moon forgot a password for a bank website and so we called and talked to some people from Bank of America in Tennessee. So that was odd, haha. I don’t know why, but when I was saying goodbye I said something like: "Have a great day and, if you can, eat some peecaan pie." I felt so dumb; it just slipped out. I was just trying to be funny. 
  • Aside from being Financiero, I’m also a missionary and we are working really well in our area. We are teaching this Venezuelan man who knows the Bible better than anyone I’ve met, its crazy. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation and a question came up about where we came from before being born on Earth. I start turn pages to go to Jeremías 1:5 and before I could get there he quoted the scripture and left me pretty open-mouthed. The mission is cool. In other news, we had a lesson with a former communist from Cuba. Talk about an interesting conversation.
  • Elder Chavariaga would love a tie from the USA. I don’t know if that would be possible but likes colorful and covets everyday that flowery one you sent me.
  • Finally, did you see the photos of the Lady and Stalin wedding??? How amazing! I cried. Like seriously bawled. I love that family so much. (Lady is the adult daughter of the Lopez family from back in Tulcan. Lady and her sister were baptized near the first of the year followed by their parents. Adam adores this family. See Weeks 35 and 36 for more background.) Congrats to Lady and Stalin!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Week 61 - Seek Higher Ground

Dearest friends and family,
It strikes me as remarkable how much nature and our surroundings can teach us if we’ll notice. Call it the product of living in a variety of small cities out in the countryside for the last year, or call it enlightenment from being absorbed in my own thoughts as my feet pound the dusty roads or broken pavement all day long, but I have felt my eyes alighted, my nose filled with new sensations, and my ears tapped into a life-line of living, breathing lessons going on all around me, every day.
So we made it to the volcano Cayambe this last Monday and WOW, let’s just take a moment here to explain why this is a perfect example of what I’m trying to share. The 6 of us were climbing around the base camp and the air was super thin, so we weren’t really talking too much between us, which left me deep in thought without even really realizing it. As I looked back down the mountain I could see the sharp tree line where the denser forest suddenly gives way to small shrubbery-like plants and eventually thin mosses and flowers growing out of cracks among the rocks. I marveled how the weaker plants and trees are left-behind as only the strongest and more properly adapted plants are able to grow at the much higher altitude. It’s like these plants burst through into a better level, where they can live and breathe, free from distraction of the less suited plants. It got me thinking how we need to be like these plants. We have to leave behind those things that aren’t suited for higher-quality life and break out into our own little space in the free, new air.
Even just the altitude itself – and all that has to do with acclimation - teaches a powerful lesson about life. We arrived at the base camp refuge house where we found lots of climbers doing little drills and testing out their ropes and gear. It must be a necessary part of preparing for the climb to the top to camp out for several days at the refuge house where the altitude is 15,000 feet to let your lungs get the hang of breathing air that barely counts. I was very happy to be there to say the least, simply because of how fresh and unrestricted the destination was. I will definitely be returning one day but with intentions of seeing the summit. Sitting there, taking a little rest at the refuge house, I reflected on vivid memories of my first few weeks of acclimation to the mission. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. However, now that I have my lungs I’m climbing at faster rates than I’ve ever imagined, pushing for the summit. And it seems that the thin air has become invigoratingly sweet to me. It fuels me and cleans me and reminds me of the challenges that I have already overcome. It also helps me keep fresh and present in my thoughts the true necessity of allowing yourself to become acclimated to your surroundings, since climbing without acclimation would be fatal.
We finished our adventure on the mountain at around 10 AM and made our way back to the truck soon after. We found our driver sleeping but we woke him and started the trek back down the mountain. Not long after the shocks on the rear axle of the truck broke on some rocks in the road, leaving us stranded in the rain, which quickly turned into fierce, heavy hail. Thank goodness it doesn’t hail often in San Diego because, wow, it really hurts! To lighten his load, we paid our driver and continued to walk down the hill while cars passed, unable to climb any further because of the weather conditions higher up. Some very nice people from Quito offered us a ride back to the town of Cayambe and we squeezed into the rear compartment of their Hyundai. While squished back-to-back against Elder Cuevas, I asked him if he felt ready to finish his training and be a normal missionary. His reply brought feelings of relief that I have done a decent enough job as his trainer. He said he has really enjoyed his training, that the time has flown by, and that he had learned more in the past 12 weeks than he ever imagined he would. He said he felt ready. And I know he is ready. He has the attitude to be a rugged and well-prepared plant capable of shooting up well beyond the trees.
Let’s be rugged and well-prepared plants. Pay attention to nature and I promise it will teach you something.
Lots of affection,

Elder Ericksen
Other tidbits:
  • This letter is almost 2-weeks old as Adam is now working in the office in Quito and wasn’t able to write until yesterday (Saturday). Look back 2 weeks in the archives if you’d like to see photos from their adventure up Cayambe.
  • I was pretty sad leaving Cayambe, to be honest. We teach the Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class and at the end I announced that I was leaving and all of my alumnos started crying. It was pretty depressing. They wanted to go outside and take photos and lots of other ward members came out as well (see photos). Bleh…leaving is the worst! There’s a photo of Elder Cuevas and I standing with about 10 people outside...that represents the fruits of the labor from the last 3 months of working in Cayambe. All of them were baptized or soon will be. Very emotional.
  • Quito is way different than anything I have ever experienced here in the mission. My companion, Elder Moon from Boise is great, and I’m here with some of my best friends, Elder Morton and Elder Castagno. It’s like a dream come true. Its funny Elder Castagno and I have followed each other all around the mission haha. I hope my Spanish doesn’t weaken too much being around all these gringos haha. Castagno, Morton and I are working on a plan to ride motorcycles from Alaska to Argentina when we get home. I love these guys.
  • Today we all went to a science museum for p-day. I got to see some parts of the city that are very Spanish looking in the colonial sectors and Old Town. Quito is beautiful. There are no dirt roads and nothing is really that dirty. Everyone has cars. We live in an area called Iñaquito and President Murphy lives one street or so over from our sector. The people in our area are pretty cold, but the ones we are teaching are really intelligent…one is a doctor and she takes notes during the lessons. We are definitely not in the campo anymore. J
  • The secretaries tend to stay in the office for 4 transfers so I’m expecting to be here for the next 6 months…it will be like April when I leave. Crazy!
  • I love you all so much. I am happy and getting my hang on all this new stuff. I miss you all! Have a great week!
Rescued off the mountain

Saying goodbye in Cayambe

Waiting on planes at the airport - at 3 in the morning - Johnny Rockets in Quito who knew?

More goodbyes

The tongue is out - it's still little kid Adam in there