Some Good, Some Better: 8 Months Out

March 16, 2015

Note: Here’s my letter from March 16, 2015. Last week our entire district/stake had no Internet connection. Just a bonus of serving on the back side of Upolu.

This week was something else for sure. First, let me thank Mom for the drawing from Thomas of him planting stuff in the backyard. His handwriting and motor skills are getting so good! Hopefully his handwriting doesn’t turn out like mine ha ha ;). Thanks also to Rachel for the Vanilla-roma car air freshener. Although I am still hurt you crashed the truck that had 15+ of those things on the rear-view mirror. It’s nice to have simple reminders of home like that here in Samoa. Especially one dealing with scent.

It’s been proven that scent and memory are closely related due to the proximity of the nerve receptors of the nose and the hypothalamus. #appsychreview. If only I could have the scent of gasoline and freshly cut grass to bring back many sweet memories from our lawn business days (haha NOT!). Also thank you so much mom for the money and stamps! That money came at just the right time and will get put to good use. Anyways, I hope all of the rest of you are stellar and I guess no news is good news ;). (Hint: Write a Missionary, huh?!?)

So this week started off with Stake Conference back here in our district. President Tolman came and gave a great talk (in Samoan) that got lots of positive feedback from the members here. The aim of his talk was reaching out to members and asking them to not encourage us to break rules (watch TV, listen to music, stay out past 9:30, leave our area, etc.). He also asked the members to be patient with the missionaries who are trying to learn Samoan and to try and help us out as we attempt to immerse ourselves in a new language and culture. To be honest, there are some that really bag on those of us who can’t speak great Samoan. Samoans are very proud of their culture and language and they’ll say to us, “Wow, how can you not speak Samoan? It’s such an easy language! Why didn’t you study it in school?” and in my head I think: “Really? How good is your English? It’s so easy to speak English and they teach it in your school.”   Funny how what is hard for one is not hard for another!

We then got a ride back to our house with President and just got to chat and voice some concerns that have popped up since both my companion and I are fairly new and still have trouble understanding people. That night we received a call from the AP’s (assistants to the president) that go around and do splits with Elders saying that President wanted them to come and do a split with us this week! So we shuffled some plans around and got ready for them to come on Wednesday.

Wednesday came and I got the opportunity to go with Elder Moe (from Hawaii with less than 2 weeks left) while Elder Seumanu went with Elder Wengert (from Arizona and was Elder Seumanu’s trainer). We got a lot of work done and it was a great opportunity to learn from both of them. We had great studies in the morning, awesome visits during the day, and an insightful inventory at the end of our split. So I guess at the end of each split they do an inventory with the companionship highlighting strengths and weaknesses that they’ve noticed during the course of the split. When we did this, they started by saying that there really wasn’t anything wrong with our companionship. They liked the way we ran our studies, the way we interact with people in their homes and on the street, and just the spirit that accompanies us. This was a shock to both Elder Seumanu and me because I’m sure there are heaps of things we could work on and improve. Elder Moe said that he especially liked how I was fearless and teachable during the split. He said that he liked how even though I don’t understand everything I throw myself out there and try to have a conversation to the best of my abilities. He also liked that I used a Samoan proverb that he’d taught me earlier during language study. “E le ma’a e pala, ae e le pala le tala”. It translates to “Rocks decay, but stories don’t” and means that even though we may have heard something before we still need to pay attention. Just because we’ve read the Book of Mormon once doesn’t mean we’re done. There is always something to learn. I really like this saying coupled with one of Dad’s: “Life is about telling better stories”. So anyways we think we left a really good impression on the AP’s.

Thursday through Saturday were nothing special. Just more visits and trying to find some solid investigators. But then yesterday, Sunday the 15th, they split one of the wards we cover! We had no idea and actually attended the other ward to make fafaga easy right after church. But when we got back to the chapel in Siumu we found out that the Siumu Ward split and now there is the Maninoa branch. So now on top of our massive area we have a new branch to worry about and try to help develop into a ward. We were completely caught by surprise! It’s just crazy how many things are happening around Elder Seumanu and me and all we can do sometimes is sit back and enjoy the ride.  So with transfers this next week it will be interesting to see what happens. I’ll keep you updated of course.

I apologize for not sending this on the actual 16th of March. Our entire district/stake/backside of the island had no internet access. Such is life here in Samoa. So pray someone can work some magic and finally fix the internet. Ever since I’ve been here in my new area there hasn’t been internet in either of the two chapels in our area. We’ve always had to leave and go to another chapel to try and get some email time. Haha crazy crazy.

I love you all so so so much. You’re an inspiration to me every day. Thanks for all that you do. Alofa atu. Oh yeah, today is my 8 months mark exactly. 8 months!! Crazy how time flies when you’re having fun. I mean doing the Lord’s work ;).


Elder Erickson