Monday, November 14, 2016

Homecoming

Hello, everyone! I hope and pray that you've all been having a wonderful week, and that you've been able to see the Lord and many of His tender mercies in your life. I know I certainly have. :) This week, however, has been quite different from my previous weeks, breaking the routine quite a bit. Long story slightly-less-long, here's the gist of things:

Getting Sick
About 2 months ago, I started getting really sick. I believe I mentioned it a bit in passing, but I didn't mention that I was vomiting multiple times a day, and that it didn't stop over the week or two that the doctors assumed it would. I got a lot of medical tests done, but there was a lot of waiting, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot not being able to do much missionary work. There wasn't a lot of anything really staying in my stomach. :)

Getting Help
Over the course of about 7 weeks, I tried to meet with a doctor or a specialist or get this or that test done, et al. Over that course of 7 weeks, they tested for multiple things, all of which came back negative (thankfully), but only really shed light on what it was not rather than what it was. The first time I got my blood results back, actually, they just said over the phone, "everything looks normal, so you're all good." Which would've been nice, but my symptoms kept persisting.

Getting Worse
As time went on, my health started to come and go in waves, ever decreasing to being virtually incapacitated. I started off being able to do some lessons but no finding, to a couple of lessons, to maybe one or two lessons, to having a really difficult time even waking up at the right time in the morning because my sleep was very interrupted. My mental/emotional health started to suffer a bit as I had something I deemed to be akin to "learned helplessness" as I couldn't really do much of anything, especially not social things. Missionary work is a pretty interpersonal endeavor, so, while I tried my best, I could still just do less and less. All this time, my companions were wonderful and patient with me, helping me along the way even though I wasn't able to do much.

Getting A Call
On Thursday morning last week (Wednesday for all across the international dateline), I got a call from my mission president saying that he felt (which means Heavenly Father impressed him) that I should return to the United States to get some perhaps expedited care as well as quality time with my family. I had been really open with him and my family about how I was feeling and how it was wearing on me, though I tried to emphasize the positive. I kind of saw his proposition coming, because I had felt quite bad for so long, but the details of his decision shocked me; he was going to arrange for me to go on a plane on Saturday- just two days later. I got to meet with all my previous companions in the Vietnamese program to say goodbye, and it was really nice of president to approve of that although we made it to the mission home a little late.

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Getting Home
I woke up around 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning in Melbourne, Australia, spent about 35 hours on a plane or in airports, and arrived home Saturday Afternoon at 1:20 p.m. How's that for time travel? I was greeted by my wonderful family, and I was released as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So, I'm not really Elder Erekson anymore, but we're exploring my options for the future of that. We have to start off by finding out what the medical problem is first, though, so it may be a while before much information is available in that regard. :) I'm feeling a lot better emotionally because I don't have the worry about needing to do missionary work while I physically can't (which I did try to ignore a couple of times... not the best idea, but blessings still came. :) ), and I get to spend time with my family. I've been sleeping a bit better than I have in weeks, so I feel like this is truly where the Lord wants me to be right now. I don't understand all of His plan, nevertheless, I know that He loves His children, and that all things He gives us will be for our good. :)

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Getting Mail
So, yeah! I'm not sure how much longer I'll have this email while I'm at home, so if you want to be sure that you can reach me, I can be reached at Lukas.Erekson@gmail.com. I'm also home in Orem, now, so if you're around, it'd be great to arrange a time to meet when things get a little less crazy with my stomach. If you had my number, I should be getting it back soon, so hey, there's that!

No matter what happens ahead, I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father for the wonderful mission He allowed me to serve. I've grown so much under His tutelage, and I hope and pray that that can continue even as I continue to apply and become all that He has taught. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I bear testimony that He lives and he guides His church today through His living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and that the Book of Mormon is His word, and is often the means by which He communicates with His children. He loves us all. He loves me. He loves you. I love you! Have a wonderful week, and we'll talk soon!

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Medical Tests & Pictures

Hello, all! This week has been pretty fun, but we've had a lot of meetings and a few medical tests. I got to eat radioactive eggs, have my stomach scanned for about an hour and half (a gastric emptying test), and meet with some of the other Vietnamese Elders! I don't have a lot to say this week, but here are pictures! :) 

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Jesus is the Christ. Thomas S. Monson is His prophet. This is His true church, restored by Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Restoration. I know that this is true. Have a wonderful week! :) 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Of Such Is The Kingdom

Hello, everyone! I Hope that you've been able to have a blessed week and can continue to see the hand of the Lord in your lives! May His grace always attend you. :) 

The Lord has blessed us this week to enjoy the company of His innocent children. The words of the Savior come to mind when He said, "suffer the children to come to me, for of such is the kingdom of God." This week, we were able to work with a lot of children. On Tuesday, we saw the baptism of a 9 year old boy with Autism, and the sweet love and spirit that surrounded everyone who got to witness the service. As he was baptized and confirmed, the power of godliness was certainly manifest. The next day, we were able to visit a less active family at the request of Bishop, only to find out that one of their children hasn't been baptized yet. As we taught about the Restoration and testified of Jesus Christ as our Brother, Savior, and Friend, it was a miracle to see his eyes light up in surprise. "He's really MY brother?" He seemed to say. At the end of the lesson, we committed the family to read from the Book of Mormon, and we gave the little boy a brand new copy of the Book of Mormon as a gift. From what we gathered, he's not too much of a reader, but he took and held that sacred book of scripture like it was precious. It was wonderful to see how precious it was to him, what it meant to him, although only 9 years old. Truly, children are able to feel the spirit strongly.

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In addition to those teaching appointments, we were able to have another lesson with Elmey, the 9 year old investigator scheduled to be baptized in 2 weeks. We had a fun lesson on taking care of our bodies as temples of the Lord, teaching the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. As though the Lord would only have us teach children this week, we were asked to give the sharing time for primary on Sunday! We taught a fun lesson on prayer, and taught how we can talk directly to Heavenly Father and He will listen to us. The kids responded to our questions with great faith, and I could tell they were happy to be able to talk with our Heavenly Father directly, to know that He answers our prayers and loves us very much. I know that children are capable of feeling the spirit so strongly, and they can express in their simple way profound truth. I've found that what the Savior did among the Nephites still happens to us today; He looses the tounges of children that they can utter even greater things than we have imagined. Their faith is so simple, so trusting, and so inspiring. That we may all have the faith of little children and inherit the kingdom of heaven is my prayer, and my hope, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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I pray that you can have an excellent week and can continue to become more and more Christlike until the perfect day! :) My health is still not the best, but the Lord is certainly helping me a lot. :) I love you!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Enduring Well

Hello, everyone! I hope and pray that you are all having wonderful spiritual experiences, writing them down, and remembering the Lord's hand is in all things. :)

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For the past 7 or so weeks, I've been feeling pretty sick. I've felt sustained by the Lord, for sure, but I have also felt quite weighed down at times with the physical/emotional burden. Being sick has given me a lot of opportunity to reflect and to listen to General Conference talks. I've listened to a few particular talks from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, and as a recurring theme in my studies and in listening to conference, I've learned a lot about the principle of endurance. In Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a promise that all his trials and afflictions will be for but a small moment alongside the promise that if he "endure(s) it well, God shall exalt [him] on high." I've thought a lot about what it means just to endure, endure to the end, and to endure well. Time and time again, the scriptures promise us that the ultimate reward for endurance is eternal life with God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son. I've learned a lot about the different kinds of endurance this week, however. Often, we think of enduring as taking on life's challenges as they come, each new event bringing with it a new solution and a new triumph. But, as Elder Maxwell reminds us, enduring is not just a "promise to go to a Nineva, but also a pledge to stay at our present post." The people of Alma the elder understood their submission their reliance on God, and that helped them to be able to endure all manner of afflictions, to hush their fears, and to feel their loads lightened as they depended on the Savior, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Part of the enduring I've been learning about is more of the latter described by Elder Maxwell. Although I do not understand all the reasons why I've been sick for so long, or what exactly the Lord's purposes are for me, I have pledged to come here, and I have pledged to stay at my present post, doing all that is within my power to help Him in His work. Sometimes, that means being still to conserve energy for other appointments. Sometimes that means stepping beyond my comfort zone and stretching myself to do at least a little bit of His work. Either way, I've seen His hand in it, and I know that I am in His watchful care. I know that the Savior endured all things, and that if I, and we all, rely on Him, then we, too, can endure all things. I know He lives. I know He loves us. I know He is with us.


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I hope and pray that you can feel His love. :) Have a wonderful week! :) 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tim-Tam Slam

Hello, everyone! I love you! I hope and pray that you are doing well and feeling the Lord's watchful care! :)

This week, Elder Doan and I were able to do a lot of good things together. I was able to show him a few fun Australian things, like his first tim-tam slam, and he has been able to improve his missionary cooking skills (of which he's really proud!) as he adjusts to missionary life. He's been learning more about missionary life, what it takes, and how to bear a great testimony. He got to speak in church for the first time, and he did an excellent job! We also got to meet our mission president for interviews, which went fantastic! It's been a fun week, but not one without its challenges. 

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Earlier this week, someone that we were helping to prepare to be baptized decided that she wasn't ready to commit to learning more about the church, living the commandments, and getting baptized. She's not even sure she wants to pursue the church further. This was really unfortunate timing, it seemed, because we only had one more lesson with her before her interview and everything seemed to be going wonderfully. However, as Elder Oaks reminded us in the last General Conference, people learn on their own time and in their own way. As we discussed with her about her growing testimony in the Savior and the great things that she learned from the church, she shared time and time again about all the wonderful and useful things the gospel has given her. Unfortunately, even after all of that, she decided to use her agency in a way that turned her away from entering the waters of baptism and covenanting with our Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, as we left that lesson, I did not feel burdened in my heart. The Lord helped me to feel comfort and assurance. Not only did we do all that we could to give her a clear choice, but I'm confident that she will come back to the church. The biggest thing, she said, that she got out of the church was repentance, and how we can be made perfect through Jesus Christ as we try. As a missionary, I can think of no greater take-away for investigators than to know that they have a Savior who loves them and has given them the wonderful gift of repentance so that one day, we can answer the question, "can I be good enough? Can I live with Father again?" with an ultimate and resounding yes. I testify of Jesus Christ's redeeming love. I know that He has given us repentance, the chance to grow and improve, so that we can become more like Him and ultimately receive eternal joy. No matter the trial, challenge, or even joy that we feel in this life, I know that there is just greater happiness to come through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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BIG thanks to Holly for taking us out for Pho! :) 

I pray that you all have a wonderful week! I love you! : )

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Meet Elder Doan! :)

Hello again! Another week, many much more adventures! We got to watch Conference this week (it was amazing!!) and I got to meet my new companion, Elder Doan! :)

Elder Doan is from Vietnam and is an excellent Elder! His English is great because he lived in America for a few years, and even attended BYU. His missionary attitude and skill is also great becuase he served a "mini-mission" in Vietnam for a whole transfer! He's already helping me a lot with my Vietnamese, and I've been able to see first hand how goldens truly bring miracles. We've had an incredible week. Although it was full of meetings, Conference, and getting our bearings, Elder Doan's willingness to go out, work, and talk with people about the restored gospel helped us meet 5 new investigators! One of his first experiences GQ-ing led us to a home of 4 people who are willing to learn more about the Savior and the Restored Gospel. He's hard working, diligent, and willing to learn and improve!

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What struck me in particular about this General Conference was the sheer amount of talks focused around the Doctrine of Christ, or one specific aspect of it (particularly repentance). It seemed that one talk after another just emphasized the 5 steps that our Savior has given us to become more like Him, cleansed from sin, and all that our Heavenly wants us to become. I'm grateful for the wonderful ways that the apostles and leaders of the church reminded us to pray and repent with real intent. I'm so grateful for the reminders that I have in my life to apply the Doctrine of Christ in my daily life and in my missionary work. I know that by following the Doctrine of Christ- Faith, Repentance, Baptism/ Covenants, the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End- is truly the pattern of living that will bring us the most happiness not just in this life, but also in the life to come. Heavenly Father has inspired His messengers to teach us about these things that we may have Eternal life and live with Him again. I pray that we can all review and re-commit to the wonderful things we have learned and felt this General Conference, organized and orchestrated by our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

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I hope you all have a wonderful week and can see the hand of Christ in your lives! I love you!! :)

Ps. I tried to give myself a haircut on Monday... it's not too bad, right? :) 

Concerning my health:
This week was one of the most rewarding weeks of my mission in terms of building confidence and testimony! That being said, this week was also probably one of the most stressful on my mission. I put a lot of pressure on myself to help Elder Doan love missionary life and work. Fortunately, the Lord has blessed us both to be able to have a good week and to enjoy all aspects of missionary life as well! The stress is a little daunting at times, but I've been able to rely on the Lord and apply the messages in the scriptures and in General Conference a lot this past week, and it's been one of the most rewarding weeks on my mission as well. My sickness, unfortunately, isn't much better, but thanks to priesthood blessings, fervent prayers, and the Lord's mercy, I haven't been incapacitated this week, so I've been able to show Elder Doan golden mornings, being on time for appointments (including finding appointments) and giving my all to work. My cold has gotten a bit worse, and my stomach isn't much better, but we're going to see the specialist on Wednesday, so I pray that all will be well then.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Transfers, Training, and Testimony

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all well. :) I Love you! How was General Conference? I know that these leaders are truly called of God. This week was a full week, and it ended with transfer news; I'll be training a new missionary from Vietnam for at least the next 6 weeks! I don't know his name yet, but it's a very exciting opportunity! I'll be sad to see Elder Marshall go, but I know that the Lord directs His work.

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This week was also full of many miracles for our companionship. We were able to meet up with an investigator and set a firm baptismal date with her for the 22nd of October! She is very excited and eager to reach this date. She wants to be a member of the Lord's true church, and her main concern is just that she doesn't quite know everything- something I'm sure we all can say! Fortunately, the church is a system established by the Lord to help us to learn and grow. One of the major purposes of the church (and this life) is to help us learn and gain experiences. The Lord doesn't do this by thrusting everything upon us all at once, but He often works "line upon line, precept upon precept." I'm confident that the spiritual experiences that she's been having are helping her to realize the truth as it is although she may not yet understand all the stories nor remember all the names of the prophets.

This experience has also taught me a lot about how I need to trust in the Lord when I don't know everything. I'm not sure why I'm feeling unwell, especially in this time of big transition during transfers when I'll begin training a new missionary, but I know that the Lord loves me and will guide me. We had a family home evening at a members home the other night with a recent convert, an investigator, and an active member, wherein we were able to have our very own "fast and testimony" meeting. As I bore my testimony of trusting in the Lord no matter how much information we may (or may not) have, He will be able to lead us and direct us for good. I'm grateful for the time to reflect on the ways that He has already directed me to where I am now, and how I trust that He is doing so now even though the pathway is yet unclear. I'm grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who will take us where we are and make us so much more as we trust in Him. I'm grateful for the wonderful members, investigators, and missionaries that are helping me to grow and progress at this time. I know that the Lord's will is for each of us to learn and grow, and the best way we can do that is if we first learn and master the ability to trust Him in all our doings, not depending so much on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that He loves each one of us, and that His hand is always outstretched, leading us along the path that will ultimately return to Him. I testify that as we listen to His chosen leaders, the prophets, seers, and revelators sustained at General Conference, we are truly following the voice of the Good Shepherd, who will only direct us for good. I'm excited and nervous for the challenges ahead this transfer, but I know in whom I can trust, even Jesus Christ, in whose name I share my testimony, amen.

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Have a wonderful week! I love you all! :) 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Conference is Coming!

Hello, everyone! I suppose for you all in America, conference has already come with the women's session, but we still have to wait a week here in the land down under. :) I pray that you are all doing well and are happy! :) 

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Last P-day, we made a cake! What do you think?

This week, I've been really grateful for the modern prophets and apostles that we have and all the wonderful men and women leaders of the church. I had the great opportunity to be able to review all the conference talks from last April before this coming conference session (which the sisters will get to start next week with the women's session) and to reflect on how well I've applied the counsel given, find new insights, and once again be touched by the wonderful spirit of conference. As I was reading, I had the Holy Ghost testify to me anew the wonderful reality of this church; it is Jesus Christ's church. He is at the head. He has called and chosen many capable, wonderful servants to be familiar with His doctrines to be able to expound and explain the scriptures so that we can know how to face the challenges of our day. God will never leave us out in the cold. He will always seek after us so that He can place us on His shoulders and carry us to His (and our) heavenly home. I know that these things are true. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and that he has been called and chosen to be the leader of this church under the direction of Jesus Christ in this day and age. I love his admonitions and counsel concerning using one of God's greatest gifts, agency. I know that decisions determine destiny, and through the scriptures, worthy leaders, and the Holy Ghost, God has given us all the tools necessary to be able to make the right choice in face of any temptation or trial.

I hope you can all prepare for conference and be ready to receive revelation from these great leaders!

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I pray that you all have a good week. I love you! :) 

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Week, New People, Same Sick... New Blessings!

Hello, everyone! I pray that you are all well, happy, and abounding in the grace given us by our Lord, Christ. :)

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We had a really productive week as far as meeting with people goes. We were able to catch up with one of our old investigators and help her really progress more towards baptism. She has received many of the lessons, and I've really seen how it's given her greater peace and direction in her life. Unfortunately, there are still some concerns and stressors going on in her life that are beyond our control, but I know that by teaching her how to find her answers and strength from God is the best way that she can face her challenges and be prepared for whatever comes. The members have been absolutely wonderful with her, and this week, we really focused on helping her have concrete fellowship and connections with the ward. Certainly, she is remembered and numbered among the people of Springvale ward although she has not yet been baptized. I'm very grateful for their loving fellowship and reaching out to her. Likewise, I'm grateful to God for the privilege and opportunity to help her come unto Christ. She's expressed her gratitude to us missionaries, but both me and my companion acknowledge that every positive thing has been a result of her interactions with the Spirit and allowing the Atonement to come into her life.

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My hair did interesting things this week, but I think it looks alright.

We've also been able to meet with a couple of new people! One new person is a Vietnamese international student who enjoyed hearing the message about the Restoration, and agreed that if it were true, it's one of the best things he's ever heard or could know about! He will be praying to receive his own witness of the truth. Likewise, we met with a man from Chile, who, although he was raised somewhat Christian, was very curious as to how our church viewed certain things. As we were able to explain the history of Apostasy and Restoration, I know that he felt the Spirit touch his heart. I pray that as he continues to learn, greater resolve and commitment will come from this brother. The investigator who is 9 years old is still doing very well, but she needs some help with what we call "Prayer self reliance." She knows that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father "came from the sky" to Joseph Smith, but she still needs help to know what to say when she prays. Elder Marshall and I have a fun activity planned for this week to be able to help her with that more. 

Unfortunately, I've still been feeling pretty sick this week. I started to feel a lot better last weekend, but it hit me again hard this past Thursday. Fortunately, though, this time it's been less daunting, and we've been able to get a lot more work done than last week. I'm grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who watches out for His children and gives his sick missionaries the portion of the Spirit to be able to sustain them as they teach and testify of His Son. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and therefore this great work that we are in, His work, is the greatest work that I can be a part of at this time in my life. I'm grateful for the opportunity to stretch and to grow and to meet all of His wonderful children to help them and bless their lives even more.

I hope that you have a wonderful week and can see the blessings in the midst of trials and adversity. Remember, God doesn't give us anything that we cannot handle (1 Cor. 10:13, or thereabouts. :) ) He loves you. I pray that you may feel that. Have a wonderful week! Love you! :)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Despite Illness, The Work Goes On

Hello, everyone! I hope that you are all doing well and that your prayers to God are not only sincere, but edifying. :) I love you all! :) 

Unfortunately, for most of this week, I had a bad stomach bug that kept my companion and I from doing too much. I'm feeling a lot better, but I'm sad about all the work that we missed out on because I wasn't able to serve. On the bright side, I'm refueled with great motivation and a testimony that being obedient and going to work is what truly brings a missionary happiness, not being stuck at the flat.


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Because you don't want pictures of sick me (nor did I take any) here's what my companion gets up to with some cups and my stuffed wombat, Wolly! :)

Despite the illness, however, there were several spiritual highlights this week! I got to go on exchanges with Elder Finau, who's in his last transfer. I can tell that he's really given himself to the Lord and His work, and it's inspiring to be around someone so experienced, obedient, and faithful. He actually stayed an extra transfer, so he shared with me that had put in 120% last transfer, which he had assumed to be his last. Despite the bit of a burnout, he's determined to continue to give his all until the very end, the actual end of his mission. He's a great example of enduring, and the things that I've learned from his testimony and skills will stay with me as I try to develop similar capacities. 

Among other highlights were finishing the Book of Mormon, being able to recognize and develop gifts of the Spirit that my Heavenly Father has given me, and attending the temple. Not only were we able to attend a wonderful session at the temple and receive answers and revelation, but my companion and I were honored with the privilege to help clean the temple afterwards. Heavenly Father helped me just enough to be healthy during the temple and during the cleaning. I felt great peace as I helped clean up the Celestial Room and the Sealing Room, and the thoughts of eternity and hope rested on my heart. I'm grateful for God's temples. They are truly His houses on the earth today to allow us to commune with Him and perform ordinances, sealed by His holy Spirit under His priesthood, to live with Him again some day in eternal happiness and joy.

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New scripture case for my mini scriptures! I still have my old one, but these fit my small ones more. :)

I know that this church is true because I have received a witness from the Holy Spirit. I know that the priesthood of God is back on the earth, and therefore all the ordinances performed by it are under His power and are for eternity, even as He is. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and I share this with you in His holy name, amen.

I love you all! Have a fantastic week! :) 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Praying Rests the Weary

Hello, everyone! I pray that you've had a good week and that this next week will be looking even better! :) 

This week was comprised of a lot of sweet experiences in prayer. As part of district meeting, there were a lot of good trainings and lessons from the district, and I was able to lead a discussion/roleplay of revelation through prayer. Although I wasn't too sure how it would pan out, I tried an activity that I thought might be able to demonstrate how to teach investigators how to pray in a way that they can expect to receive answers. Because of the guidance of the Spirit, the Spirit flooded the room, and I learned a lot about the nature of prayer and asking for things from our Heavenly Father. The more specific and direct the question, the more specifically and directly He can answer us. I not only learned more about how to teach prayer, but also how to improve my own personal prayers. Being able to apply that and to help investigators speak more openly and candidly with our Father in Heaven is helping me to develop a greater relationship with Him as well.

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I've been able to testify to a few people this week the power of prayer. Particularly, I got to share with a less-active member something that strengthened my love for prayer. I realized that in my life, when I have struggles or I'm unhappy, my prayers are usually not very good. It's when I start to have more meaningful, heartfelt prayer that I begin to see improvements and the Spirit can start to work with me. This less-active member had not been praying in previous meetings, and we were a little skeptical about whether he was praying on his own or not. However, after the lesson with him on prayer and being able to testify to him, he committed to redouble his efforts to have meaningful prayer, and he ended the lesson with a good prayer, too!

I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be taught by the Master Teacher. I'm grateful for the chance to be able to talk to Him any time, any where. I know that He loves us. I know that He listens to us and wants us to help us. I know that we can come to him with specific requests, questions, etc. and that He will answer us. Prayer can take a lot of work, as we learn from Enos, but it is always more than worth it.



I'm looking forward to another good week. We have some good potentials we're working with, and the primary child is progressing quite well (she doesn't think there will be any sharks in the baptismal font anymore)! We're excited to continue to work with her and to help other people come unto Christ. I know that He is preparing people all around us and giving us each a chance to share in this great work with Him.

I love you all! Have a fantastic week and look for the miracles! :)

Elder Erekson
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Ps. We had adventures making American Kool-Aid in Australia thanks to an awesome ward mission leader! :)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Back in Thatch


Hello again, everyone! I pray that this finds you well, happy, and abounding in the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! :) 

This was the first week back with Elder Marshall since we've been in the MTC together about 11 or so months ago. It's amazing to see just how much we've both changed but also how similar we still are to who we were. Definitely, we're more skillful, motivated, and diligent missionaries, and it's wonderful to be able to work with him out in the field. We've been getting along well, and since he's been in the area before (about 8 months ago), a lot of members still remember him, and we've even started working with a former investigator who recognized him on the street! 

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The biggest miracle this week would have to be with one of our investigators. Last week, she told us that she needed a break from the lessons because she just wasn't sure if things were moving too fast or if this was the right path for her to take, etc. We respected her decision, but I was still sad that she was very close to coming unto the Lord through baptism, so she was definitely in our prayers. We also invited a couple of members who know her a little bit to combine in prayer for her and for her to be able to recognize the peace and love that comes from the gospel. Miraculously, within 2 days of inviting other members to put in their faith, she called us back and told us that she would love to continue learning and even join the church! She enthusiastically came to the baptism we had on Saturday (for an 8 year old member) and loved it. She also attended the stake conference session. Because of this and many other experiences, I know that the Lord not only answers our sincere prayers of faith, but He often gives us answers that are more wonderful than we could have previously thought of! His ways are truly higher than our ways, and He loves us very much.

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In other news, last P-day Elder Roberts and I constructed a temple wall; a wall consisting of all the temples on LDS.org! That's over 150 operating temples, plus a few announced/planned temples. We're blessed to be able to have so many places in which to worship the Lord! :)

We also had another investigator who is primary age attend the baptism on Saturday. It's very fun trying to teach her because I never quite know where the lesson is going to go. I feel like being able to work with her is helping me a lot to develop more creative teaching skills and also to make things more simple and fun. I'm grateful for that. I've definitely seen how I've improved as a teacher over the course of my mission, but I'm still eager to hone my skills and improve all the more. I hope to be a capable instrument in the hands of the Lord.

Have a fantastic week, and remember to look for God's grace in your life! I promise that you will find it. It's always there. He is always there. :) I love you!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Priesthood Power


Hello, everyone! This week was a fantastic week, full of priesthood and big news! I hope you're all doing well and seeing the Hand of the Lord in your life. :)

This week, we were privileged to take part in a baptism for Kim, a wonderful new member of the church! The baptismal service on Saturday went really well, and the spirit of the Lord was abundant. Because of close coordination with our great ward mission leader, everything was arranged before hand, the speakers were all there, and we had a pretty good turn-out from the ward to support him. The only problem was the baptismal font was a little cold, but Kim was just happy to be able to be baptized. His friend, Barclay, who is preparing to serve a mission, had the blessing of being able to perform the ordinance for him. Yesterday, we got to participate in his confirmation and priesthood ordination. There are a lot of new things for him to learn, but the ward and us missionaries are ready and willing to help him through this transition and continual progression. It was a really testament to me about the true joy that comes from the gospel just before his baptism when he was simply beaming with excitement.

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Sunday was a great opportunity for us to participate in many priesthood ordinances. Along with the confirmation and ordination, Elder Roberts and I also got to participate in several priesthood blessings and administrations to the sick. It was astonishing, because earlier this week and even that morning, I was praying to Heavenly Father for opportunities to exercise and strengthen my capacity to use the priesthood. He certainly answered my prayer many-fold! I'm so grateful for the restored priesthood authority, through which we can experience the power of godliness through ordinances. I know that the priesthood of God is truly on the Earth, and it's in His restored church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

We're continuing to work with our current investigators to help them progress more, but we anticipate it may take a little bit longer for them to feel ready and to be truly converted. We're excited to work with them! We recently started teaching another referral from the ward, this time a little sister of a recent convert of about a year. She's excellent! However, I don't have too much experience teaching children, so it'll be a big growing experience for me. We're excited to meet with more people the Lord is preparing for us!

It's been a really good week, and I'm very grateful to have been serving with Elder Roberts. He's a great missionary. I'm very excited for him to be training a new missionary in a new area (my old area, too!); I know that he's more than capable, and the Lord will magnify his efforts! It'll be interesting to be with Elder Marshall again. We were companions in the MTC, but this is the first time that we'll be companions out in the field. Given that we've both spent a bit of time in this area, I anticipate it'll be a smooth transition to just get to work, and work hard. The coming weeks have a lot of change, but I'm excited for it!

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I hope that you can feel the power of Godliness in the ordinances of the priesthood. I love to hear about your spiritual progression and experiences! Have a great week!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hello Again

Hello, again! I love you! :) My camera is half good, half meh. It's starting to behave itself more lately. :) I hope you're having a fantastic Sabbath! :) 
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At the beginning of the week, we said good-bye to Elder Rands. He was Elder Roberts's trainer, and we lived in the same flat during the beginning of my mission, so we were rather close to him. It was really nice to be able to spend some time on exchange with him and Elder Howell, both great missionaries that have taught us so much and continue to set good examples for us in the mission. It was sad to say goodbye to such a great missionary, but I know that he's going to continue to do amazing things, and I'm excited to hear more about his post-mission adventures.

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Elder Rands is in the middle! :)

Mid-week, we met with Kim, a referral from a member. He is a downright miracle. Apparently, he's been taught by missionaries before, and he has a girlfriend serving a mission at the moment. He's been investigating the church for a while, and he contacted us because he is interested in getting baptized and becoming a member of the church! He's been to church the past 5 weeks, and because he's already received a lot of the lessons and we've reviewed everything with him, he is scheduled to be baptized this coming Saturday! It's certainly a miracle, since the first time we actually had a formal lesson with him was this past Wednesday, but he's progressing quite well! We're excited to help him make the sacred covenant and to become an active member of Springvale ward.

We also were blessed with the opportunity to teach a new investigator who is Vietnamese! It was incredible because Elder Roberts met him at the station a week ago. Shortly thereafter, I ran into him at the station as well, and he agreed to meet. We had a great lesson with him wherein we testified about the Restoration of the gospel, and he asked really good questions about ways he can better develop his relationship with God. It was refreshing to be able to give a lesson in Vietnamese, and I've seen how the Lord has blessed me and Elder Roberts to be able to continue to improve in the language although we haven't been teaching a lot of Vietnamese people. Truly, the Lord watches out for us!

The weekend was wonderful because of Zone Conference (thank you again) and the mini-mission in Maroonda(?). The mini-mission is when they get to stay with us full time missionaries for Friday night, all day Saturday, and most of Sunday until just about the afternoon. We were able to each have a mini-missionary with us on Saturday and Sunday, and it was a good privilege to get a lot of good work done in the area and introduce the youth there to missionary life. Brother Page (my mini-companion) was excellent and really eager to dive right in and to improve. They're both going to make great missionaries in the future! The lessons we had during the mini-mission were really good, and I think that the youth were able to have a really good experience. 

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Brother Page is the far right, Brother Chen the far left. :) 

The Lord is truly blessing us, and I'm very grateful for your prayers and your faith. I know that Jesus Christ directs this work, His work, and that the Lord will help us as we reach out to Him. I pray that you have a fantastic week and can see the miracles! I promise you that they are there. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Miracles Left & Right


Hello, everyone! I hope your week has been full of good experiences and testimony building studies. :) I love you!

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We had a plethora of amazing miracles this week. The members in our ward are really eager and willing to hasten the work of salvation! It started out on Monday, when we had dinner with a nice active member family. We were feeling a bit exhausted because although it was P-day, we were still out and about doing things. Before going in, we said a prayer that we could help the family come closer to Christ. We were surprised to meet a man out front whom we have never met before. He told us to just go in, and we met the family we had planned to have dinner with- plus a couple of guests. The mother of the family had invited several members of her family, less active, non-member, and member to participate in our dinner and discussion, and we were pleasantly surprised to find a new investigator that very night! We were able to schedule with one of the non-members who has been really eager to come to church over the past little while. He has some complications with his back, but once we get to meet with him more and help him understand more of the wonderful blessings of the gospel, he will be very strong. We also had a good zone meeting where a member of another ward gave us some good, practical advice on working with members.

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(My camera is being a bit rubbish lately... it's doing the weird pixelation thing.)

Another miracle involves the investigator who loved church last week. You may recall that finding her was a miracle in itself (she was a self referral to read the Book of Mormon), but greater things were to come. She adored church and really wanted to meet with us again. As per norm, she had some questions for us. She asked a little bit about pets in heaven, and a complicated question about the Fall, but we were able to give her good answers and she was very accepting. Finally, she asked a question that absolutely floored us. She prefaced it with, "So, I really loved going to church, and I like what I've been learning with you guys..." and then blew us away with, "what do I have to do to join your church?" We talked and testified about baptism and confirmation for the remission of sins, the logistical side of going about that, and talked about how that was our purpose, to help others make those sacred covenants. However, before we could fulfill our purpose to invite her to be baptized, she asked "Can I do that? Can I be baptized and join your church?" Elder Roberts did a good job at asking her questions to make sure that her intentions were not just social, and she has a baptismal date for this month! She had another great time at church this week, and she's excited to be able to learn more and she does a fair bit of research on her own (on LDS.org). She's already listened to a couple of talks by President Monson and is trying to read the Book of Mormon. Truly, Heavenly Father is sending us amazing miracles.

Truly, the Lord does give us miracles today according to our faith and diligence. Sometimes, they're easy to recognize, like with the ones I've shared today, but often, they are really quiet, powerful manifestations of the Spirit that lets us know that God loves us. I know that He is sending us angels to bear us up every day, and as we pray to recognize them, He will reveal to us the wonderful plethora of blessings that we are not yet aware of. I know the church is true, and I share my witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I pray that you all have a wonderful week and can see the miracles of God in your own lives. I know that He wants to bless us, He wants us to be happy and successful, and He wants to let us know that He is there. :) Have a great week! :)