Merry Christmas from Samoa

Note: The family got to speak with Doran on Christmas Day. Internet access, and thus Skype, are luxuries in Samoa, so we had to use a real live telephone call…or calls, as we were disconnected 4 times. It was sweet to hear Doran’s voice, but whether we get to speak to him or just read his email/letters, it is the assurance we feel from the Spirit that confirms he is in God’s hand that is more than enough. The following is Doran’s weekly report from Monday, December 22, 2014.

Talofa lava! Christmas creeps closer and thank you so so so so much for the packages! I got both the Christmas and that small one at the same time! Those Samoan Articles of Faith cards and whatnot are great! And the photo album for the Christmas story is awesome too! I looked up all the scripture references to help explain them if needed. The kids love it though! Mostly I just ask if they know what the picture is about or who is in it. It’s a great message to share though! That Christ came into the world to perform the Atonement and that He still lives today!

So what to talk about for this past week? Well this week we had a split with the Zone Leaders! It started Tuesday night and lasted till Wednesday evening. It was great! I split with Elder Malaeulu from here on Upolu. He’s got about 6 months left. It was great though. That day we tracked down some people that he knows (some kind of distant relatives or something) so hopefully we can track down their records and get them to church. And then we found out that some people in one of our wards don’t have baptismal records. So this past week starting Friday night we’ve been teaching them all the lessons so they can be baptized this Saturday! We’ve had a lesson Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then tomorrow. They’ve been coming to church for years so it’s not like they’re truly investigators. But hey, we’ll do what we can to help out and get some people into the font. Haha. It’s two women that really want to go and be sealed to their families. Their goal is to get to the temple by June to complete that. Hopefully they’ll remember to invite us to come along! It’s a special thing to be able to be sealed as a family unit for all of eternity. I’m so thankful for my family. Especially when I’m missing all of you this Christmas season. So back to the Split. At 6:00 that evening we had some baptisms for records and they wanted Elder Vaai to do it. So Elder Suiaunoa came, dropped off Elder Vaai and I got to go with him to do a baptismal interview for the AP’s (Assistants to the Mission President). The interview took place at Pesega 5th Ward’s ward mission leader’s house. Pesega 5 is the English speaking ward and the AP’s proselyte there. The ward mission leader was an AP in Melbourne just a bit ago. He asked me to share a spiritual thought. So I’m there in front of the 3 AP’s (one is leaving and training the new one so there’s one more than usual), my zone leader, a former AP, and the girl that just got interviewed for baptism. And in English! After all this time trying to get spiritual thoughts down in Samoan! Haha needless to say I was a bit nervous. So off the top of my head I just shared a scripture I came across one day studying. Alma 7:15-16. It talks about entering the waters of baptism, forsaking sins, and then staying with the testimony that we receive. Then I just bore my testimony. Needless to say I think I did pretty well. I felt the Spirit, I think the others in the room felt it as well so that’s good! That was my slightly scary experience for the week. Just like the advice Dad gave me this week.

Start scaring yourself. Explore the edges. Dip your toe in the bold, the outrageous, and the unthinkable. Seek out and have adventure. “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Biter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful.” -Ernest Shackleton, Explorer.

Being out on the mission has definitely scared me on more than a few occasions. Not so much for bodily harm. just intellectually and with interpersonal relations. Mom did a good job getting me out of my natural shell with talking to people but I think I regressed a bit with the whole not speaking the language deal. It’s tough. Especially when you’re telling people that what they’re doing is wrong and that they need to change. Haha it’s not that fun. Luckily I can hide behind the badge and my calling as a faifeautalai.

Hope all is well this week as Christmas approaches! I love you! I’m happy my Christmas week will be white with baptismal clothes! Keep on keeping on!

The following is an email from Doran’s companion and trainer, Elder Vaai:

Hey Momma Erickson! I just wanted to write you and the family to express my feelings of gratitude for raising such a handsome young I love this Elder.. I just hope we stay together for a little while longer because next week are transfers but we heard rumors that your son might be training…that makes me feel good, it means i did something right lol but i also wanted to thank you, papa Erickson, and the kids for the presents! thank you very much! Merry Christmas!! Love you guys!!

Elder Vaai
aka. Elder Erickson’s favorite companion

Exchange between Becky and Doran:

Becky: Hello my firstborn son. Christmas is almost here and I am thinking of you as I see all my nativities out and Mary holding her baby boy. I can’t help but remember the wonderful day I got to hold my first son. You have been a blessing to me, your dad, and our family. I hope you are feeling some of the Christmas spirit this year. I cannot seem to get into the mood. Perhaps it is because you are gone and this is the first time I am experiencing the separation. We have done all the right stuff, tree trimming, gifts, lights, caroling, candy, decorations, music recitals etc. and still I feel a hole in my heart. Perhaps now that school is out and the kids are home the spirit of Christmas will descend upon me. It was especially hard today at church to see all the college kids home. I spent Friday in the temple. I prayed for you the whole time. You know I put your name on the prayer roll every week!? I read that you recently got to go to the Samoa temple. How was that? My love for the temple is increasing The more often I attend. I finished my college classes. Had to take a final if you can imagine that! I start second-half of book of Mormon and math on January 5. Crazy, eh?  Tonight you will really be missed. We are having a huge family Skype call. Perhaps you received my note. It will be fun to see everyone in North Carolina and Utah and here and have all share in our talents across the miles. Too bad we can’t get Finland and Samoa on the call as well :(. we cannot wait to talk to you in person in just a few days.

Doran: I know what you mean about not really feeling the season. Far away from home, not understanding what people are saying all the time, 80+ degrees all the day. It’s tough for it to feel like Christmas. Almost all of the “feelings” I associate with Christmas are non-existent here in Samoa. Cold, love for family, smells of peppermint and pine trees, the pleasure of wrapping up in a blanket or sweater, etc. Haha if I wrapped up in a blanket here I would start sweating even more and I would just bleh.. Haha you know how it is. That’s a good idea about the massive Skype call. Hopefully the technology cooperates. And hopefully that doesn’t happen with your call here. Shouldn’t though. You’ve got a pretty good source for international stuff. Congrats on college classes! Book of Mormon part two is awesome! I love that 2nd half. And the family we live with do have a laptop and whatnot. There’s just no internet access. There is like no wi-fi and the only good internet is at the church (which we’re not allowed to use) or at internet cafes and there aren’t any in our area. So bummer. I hope my package gets there though and wasn’t seized by customs or something. There’s not much in there. Just a few things for you guys to check out. Love you lots. Haha LOL (lots of love). 😉

Just another day of visits, featuring Elder Vaai

Just another day of visits, featuring Elder Vaai

Kids love taking pictures so if I ever need to distract them from bugging their parents while my companion talks to the adults this is always a good one.

Kids love taking pictures so if I ever need to distract them from bugging their parents while my companion talks to the adults this is always a good one.

The result of that visit with those kids.

The result of that visit with those kids.

Could be deep meditation or prayer or 6 hours of Church where you don't understand much from the pulpit's hard to say.

Could be deep meditation or prayer or 6 hours of Church where you don’t understand much from the pulpit microphone…it’s hard to say.