Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Week 70 - Merry Christmas

Hello everyone. I'm writing from the office here after a pretty normal day. We are just walking in after eating some 2$ hamburgers from some Venezuelan immigrants. 

So I loved the call home yesterday! Despite having lots of technical stress (thanks to Ecuador internet), it was nice hearing your voices and being reminded that I still have a super cool family that loves me. Topics were good, I liked the questions and hearing from you, and all of it was good. Also it is really fun that we will be talking in May which, without a doubt, will be here before we know it. Life moves fast, I hope you're all really enjoying it!

I also loved Christmas. Elder Castagno and I set up the tree early with lights and snow flakes. We have had Christmas music on since Thanksgiving. We had been eating desserts and stuff every night. We borrowed a crockpot from another mission house and made a cake in it and stuff. Two nights ago we made a pumpkin pie. We even got little gifts for each other. I guess it just felt really meaningful how we celebrated a little here and a little there through the whole month until the actual day came and it was so fufilling. Not to mention I have been studying so much about Christ. It was a really special Christmas.

Also last week I dressed up like Santa for a contacting activity. It was weird but cool. I didn't like how a bunch of kids kept calling me Papa Noel and then they would just look at me like I was going to tell them something magical. Truth is I didnt know what to say hahaha. I guess I didn't think that through. 

I have been impressed with how miracles come through diligence and perfect obedience. I've mentioned that we are in one of the hardest sectors, but we haven't been bored at all! We have filled every hour with something really productive and are seeing huge progress in every facet of the work. The last baptism here was more than a year ago, but we have someone ready who should be baptized in the next two weeks.

In the office I continue being really busy. I am working on a big project organizing the housing guarantees and also there are lots of little things that are keeping me super busy. A couple of missionaries have lost their cards and stuff, I dont know,  I am always busy. 

In the nights I have been thinking a lot about New Years resolutions and stuff. I have lots. Maybe I'll share next week? I don't like when missionaries say "oh when I finish, I'm going to go running every day" or "when I get home I'm going to be so loving towards everyone." I don't like it because I don't think those things ever really happen like that. I think we have to start things now in the mission if we want them to carry over. Habits don't start from nothing like that. In the mission there is a term "the sexy-six" referring to the last 6 months before going home when all the Elders try to eat healthy and get in shape (it rarely happens like its talked about.) Anyway, maybe I won't be so involved in the fitness goals like that, but I am definitely going to use the last 6 months of my mission to set some awesome goals and make some epic habits that I'll be able to carry over for the rest of my life.

I love you, family. Again I loved the call and Im so happy that you all are related to me <3

- Elder Ericksen

Other tidbits:

  • The Christmas phone call home was a real blessing for our family despite considerable technical difficulties and it becoming an audio-only call. Adam struggled with English which his siblings throughly enjoyed and talked about a lot today. Come August he may not be able to speak English at all.
  • They had arranged for a member to come in the Santa suit but he had a last minute schedule change and Adam had already promised he would wear it if it fit...which it did.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Week 69 - A Week to Christmas

Hello family and friends. It’s great to be writing you now, after a good day. Things have been crazy busy at the office. We are doing lots of reports and budget analysis for year end.
Our tree is up. Elder Castagno and I have been sitting around it and chatting about life and it’s been extra fun. I feel the Christmas spirit a lot this year, and I am really thankful for everything and very happy to just help others. Last year I definitely felt the spirit but it was a little more humbling and solemn.

Our Christmas plans are not yet solidified but we are working on them. We will have p-day on Christmas day Monday next week. I’m pretty happy about that because we will get to be with more missionaries and hopefully do something really fun! I’ve realized that back home I had such awesome friends…like beyond normal quality, I think. We were all so loyal to each other and we all had one anothers’ backs. Here sometimes, for whatever reason, there are flaky moments and lots of changing plans which I don’t like. I miss guys like Mitch, Hussein and Kanoa. There are many others but they’re top of my mind. A solid plan that we do have down in the agenda is that we are invited to lunch with our Chilean neighbors that cook excellent food and I’m so happy about that. We will be going over there on Sunday the 24th after Church.

I’m looking forward to the skype call home next week. Think of some good questions to ask me. As much as I love telling stories about what I am learning and experiencing, I’d love to hear from you. 

I love you all so much!

Elder Ericksen

PS – How was Star Wars?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Week 68 - Light the World

This was a festive week. We had the mission Christmas party, which was so special. We spent all day talking about Christ and lots of emotional, spiritual things during the morning. After that we had a break and started in on the gift exchange and games! I got that weird looking blue doll thing. I don’t know what it is or what it does and, to be honest, I think it ended up going home with someone else at the end of the day.
We played an awesome game on charades (sp?) and that was fun. I drew lots of interesting things like Spiderman and Otavalo during my turns but it was all funny and tons of fun. Elder Morton and I had a really good guessing connection going on.
Other photos have to do with the “Ilumina el mundo” campaign we are focusing on right now. We baked and frosted a bunch of cookies and then went to a bus station to pass them out and spread Christmas love. We had some really interesting conversations with all different kinds of people. While we were there, a bus rolled up at the red stoplight and we asked to board and share our cookies and a message with everyone. The bus driver said yes after taking a cookie for himself - it was all around awesome.
The new faces in my photos are Elder Aquino – a super cool guy from Paraguy – and Elder Welch from Tulcan who is back with me here now in the office! It is awesome. The girls and other two dudes are the rest of our district. The burgers were from the Chilean neighbor who lives above us. They were so good, oh my!
Today’s p-day activity was epic. We went to the Teleferico and hiked and explored all around the mountain. It’s an amazingly beautiful place and was a wonderful experience. For reference, Cayambe is taller which should give a pretty good reference about how tall it really is the day we went up there. We now want to go climb to the top of that mountain (Pichincha). After hiking we went to SUSHI!!! It was so good! I was really in denial about how much I had been longing for those flavors. I’ll be going to Japan within a few years if anyone wants to tag along. 
I love every day I’m having out here and I can’t express enough about how everything I’m doing has helped and purified me. I also love you all of course and hope that you’re all well. 
Much love,

Elder Ericksen

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Week 67 - The Value of Good Influences

Great news! Elder Castagno (pictured right of Adam above) is my new companion!!!!!! It has been amazing, like living with my best friend. We have a big Christmas planned out and are trying to buy a Christmas tree. We have been eating the Christmas cookies and loving life. I’ll send photos next week.

This past week was crazy week a.k.a. transfers week. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t get way stressed out, because I did for a little bit. We went to the airport like 3 times dropping people off and getting everything all situated and sleep hasn’t been a thing this week. People were in our house all week, which was fun! I had to ship off a really good friend, Elder Vela, and that was super sad, but I know he’s doing well and is happy to be continuing his life back in Texas. 

Its Quitofestival right now and its been crazy in the streets. Not normal crazy, Latin America crazy. People ride around on these big open bus rigs and sing, dance and drink. It’s really lively. Today we saw a little parade. It’s also mango season. I promise there is nothing like the flavor of a ripe mango...it’s indescribable. We can get 4 for $1 US dollar haha.

This week I just want to share that I love the gospel. One reason Elder Castagno is such a good friend is because he’s such a good influence on me. Every day has been a lesson about how we always need to do the right thing, and that it needs to come from within us to mean something. It so remarkable how our natures can change, I see myself wanting to do good and wanting to be better everyday about things that really didn’t call my attention in the past. I feel so happy about that.

We are doing lots of stuff with the light the world campaign and it feels so good! There is a woman who always sits outside the office, working for a parking company and she always looks so sad. Yesterday I went up to her and said "I always pass by you and we’ve never met...what is your name?" We talked for a moment and gave her a pass along card and I said that I hoped she had a good day. It was so genuine, I don’t know, I just felt so happy and good afterward. Christ lives and he fills us with light as we try to be disciples of Him.

I love you and hope you have an excellent week. Merry Christmas. Let’s all love Christ and His church.

- EE

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Week 66 - Ecuadorian Thanksgiving!

Well I started a letter but wasn’t able to finish. We’ve had lots of elders in our house this week for some meetings and we have been super busy getting things ready for transfers next week (a.k.a. crazy week). Oh and we’ve also been super busy preparing for Thanksgiving!
So happy thanksgiving everyone! We are just finishing our lunch and let me just say it was amazing. I hope you can tell from the photos…lots of food and lots of fun with the best of friends. Today we woke up at 6 am to go play our Turkey Bowl at this park called Parque Bicentenario. Look it up, it used to be the old Quito airport but now they’ve converted it into a big park with lots of bike riding space. Super epic.
After the park we came back and started cooking. I was in charge of the cheese potatoes and I made a banana cream pie. I succeeded wildy haha. It was perfect. We bought all the stuff last week and it just all came together amazingly. It’s been a great p-day!
Other big highlights...the ward talent show last night. Oh goodness how can I even describe. We put on three acts as the missionaries, including the singing of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” with modified mission lyrics. LEGENDARY.
I am really happy. I feel great all around. Elder Moon is leaving so I’ll have a new companion starting Monday. It will be great whoever it is.
So how are all you guys? How was thanksgiving? The food looked great!
I love you all, have an amazing week.

- Elder Ericksen

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