Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013 Merry Christmas..."ponder about the gifts that the wise men chose to give"

Merry Christmas everyone,

     I don't know where everyone is that I am sending this too, but here in Connecticut it is in the 60's and raining so it will probably not be a white Christmas for us.  The weather around here changes so fast, last week we got snowed in after we went on a large Christmas temple trip.  It was a fun experience because just like when we got snowed in by the huge snow storm last year, we got to once again have a giant slumber party at some of the Elder's apartment in Massachusetts.
     Since I last emailed, we have seen a lot of little miracles that have been very fitting for this time of year.  Most of them being finding people that have decided that it is time for them to come back to God.  An example of this being our friend J’.  We had not met with J’ for quite a while and would call him on a regular basis to try to set up an appointment.  This had gone on for about a month until just last week when he called us and told us about how he had a little trouble and that he had fallen away from God a little bit. 
     He then said that it was time for him to come back now and that he was ready for us to help bring him closer to God again.  This time of year has also been a great time of finding for us as we have wandered the streets looking to do the Lord’s will.  We have found many members that have lost their way in search of it again and also we have found new people willing to hear the message we have to share.
     Like always we are cutting wood for people so that they can keep their houses warm during the winter.  Well I guess word got around because one of our members offered our services to her non-member friend.  We gladly accepted the opportunity to get in some good service and help out her friend.  We spent most of the day working with him.  In that time, I think we built a pretty good relationship and we asked him if his member friend had told him anything about the church.  He said that he has had questions in the past and that they had talked about it a little.  It felt so natural when we asked him if he would like to learn more.  He said that he would like that some time and he would also like to see us again to help him with his wood.  Hopefully we will have more to say about our new friend S’  in the future.
     From here I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and ask you to ponder about the gifts that the wise men chose to give to the new born king.  I would also like to thank everyone that sent me a package this Christmas I have never received so many packages at once, and it made me very happy to see how well all of you knew me by the things that were inside.

Elder Erb

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 12 09 "Dear Missionary Men"

Dear people,
    There is a saying out here in the East that goes like this, "If you don't like the weather, then just wait."  We have felt a little of that this week when out of nowhere we had temperatures in the high 50's.  It has hardly even snowed here so far.  So we had a little extra time on one of the warmest days of this week and went around trying to find some members the ward has not seen in a while.  Don't worry, I am getting to why this is all important. 

    Now if you had to guess, would you say that there would be people home at around noon on Thursday?  I didn't think that we would find anyone either but in fact every single house we checked at we found someone home, who was willing to talk to us.  I learned a little bit about having faith that the Lord will put people in your path when you are doing his work.

    So forgive me if I am retelling a story that happened in the past, but I can't remember if I wrote about it yet.  We ran into a member that had not been to church in over a year.  He told us that he was busy then because it was Halloween, but that he would like to have us over for dinner so that we could talk. 
    Well we came by for the time we set up to meet and we found something that in all of my time as a missionary I had never found before.  It was a letter taped to his door, on the front of which read "Dear Missionary Men."  The letter said that he was sorry that he had to cancel on us like this but he did not have our phone number or any other way to get a hold of us.  We thought it was really cool and kind of him to leave a note for us because most people just cancel without telling us or forget that we had an appointment. 
    Well we set up another time to meet with him and he decided that we should meet December 4th.  Now I do not think that December 4th is a special day but for some reason everyone wanted to meet with us on that day at 6:00 pm.  Elder Graff and I soon realized that we had a problem, because there was a ton of people that wanted to meet with us around 6:00ish on December 4th. 
    When missionaries have this problem they are allowed to split up with the members so that they can get all the work done they need to.  We had about 4 of these splits/hand-offs.  In the midst of all of these splits something amazing happened that we did not learn the significance of until Sunday
    A member named Brother Ax’ was going to pick me up from Brother Ay's house, the member we took to teach J’, to take me to visit the member who had left us the note.  He was already late and was about to turn back and go home when he decided that he would look one last time. 
    Just a little before this scene, Elder Graff and I realized that he might have a hard time finding the house and we should go stand outside and flag him down off the highway.  We were not out there long before he found us and we were able to go our separate ways and have an amazing night in several different places. 
    The member explained to me that the experience he had with us was nothing short of a miracle and that I do not understand the thoughts that went on in his head as he drove around lost looking for us.  Brother Ax’ then said that as he prayed for help, he found us there on the side of the road the very moment that he closed it in the name of Christ.
    I think I have talked enough about that story, and I can gladly say that the lesson with that member was worth the trouble and we will probably visit him again soon with Brother Ay. 

    I would now like to talk a little bit about what happened in a different lesson we had with the Creamer family.  Last time we talked about "who Jesus Christ is" and at the end asked them to pray.  When we went to follow up with what had happened we found something that was more shocking to them than to us. 
    So Sister Creamer had told us before that she did believe that Jesus was the son of God, but her son did not.  We asked him if he did what we asked and he then said, very confused, "I prayed to know if the things you taught last time were true, before I did, I did not believe it was true.  But when I prayed I felt that it made sense." 
    Those were not the exact words he used because he had a hard time explaining what he felt.  We had the wonderful opportunity then to testify of the Holy Ghost and how he is a person who can answer us in many different ways.  One of which is by bringing peace to our minds like the peace that he felt.
     I am glad that I have the chance to be here doing the Lord’s work.  I hope that I will never forget the joy that comes through service to my brethren.

Elder Erb

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11.25.2013 Greek Gods, Atheism, Catholics & Wicca

Nov. 25, 2013

Hi Family and Friends,

There have only been a couple of days since my last email so there is not a lot to talk about.  Most of the time we have been helping people move or raking leaves.  It seems to me that the leaves do not stop falling until the snow finally falls which is disappointing because we have to keep raking the same yards over and over again because it hasn't really snowed yet.

We did have the opportunity to meet with the C’ family since my last email.  The C’ family is awesome.  Side tangent time, out here in the East there are a lot of Italian people, and there is a simple rule whenever you go over to an Italian person’s house.  The rule is: they will feed you, and you will eat it, otherwise it is offensive.  

I first learned this rule after we visited an Italian woman early on in my mission.  We had already had two dinners for one reason or another and then we stopped by this woman’s house.  And of course as the rule goes we had to force down a third huge dinner.  Luckily now that I am a little wise in my age as a missionary I did not make this mistake with the C’s.  

Every time we walk into their house we hear, “hopefully you came hungry”, which is soon answered by an "always” from the two of us.  We had a good lesson with the C’ family this last time because it was the first time we actually started to teach something.  We had just barely gotten them to agree to take the missionary discussions on our last visit with them.  

My companion and I agreed that before we started the lessons that we should have an opening lesson about "Who Jesus is."  We felt this because all of the members of this family all have different religions and none of them really know anything about Christ.  It was amazing to me to see how willing they were to accept the things that we told them about Jesus and the things that he did for us.  I felt that they were all listening to the things that were said and that they truly would pray to know if the things we taught are true.

Something that I think is a great lesson from this is that you never know who will be interested in the gospel.  The member that introduced us to this family did not think that this would have ever gotten this far.  Despite this, in her desire to fulfill her role as a member missionary, she simply invited them to a ward activity. 

Never did she imagine this family whose current religions are Wicca, Catholic, atheist, and the worshipping of Greek Gods would ever be interested in the gospel, let alone take the discussions from the missionaries.  Now the family gets excited for our visits with them, and tells the member all about what we taught them.  You can never tell what the Lord has in His plans.

Elder Erb

Thursday, November 21, 2013

11/21/2013 Thursday "I would not give it up for any material possessions in this world"

Hello again,

     Man I am starting to slack on sending out emails every week.  We have just been very busy lately helping the other missionaries get around.  Since I last emailed, we have found 5 new people that are interested in the message that we have for them.  I realize that it has been a long time and there is a lot of stuff that I haven't talked about.  I am going to try to help you catch up so forgive me if I write about something that I have already written about.

     To start off with, the Asian couple that we were teaching left and moved to Washington D.C., which is just a couple of hours out of our mission boundaries.  

     We have been teaching J... more though.  I would like to take a couple of lines and thank the member that we brought with us to teach J....  We were trying to find someone that would get along good with him to bring to the lessons and I felt impressed that we should bring Brother A.  

     When I told my companion, who is still Elder Graff, at first he hesitated at the thought, but in time it grew on him.  As for how the lesson went, it was a total success.  Brother A is not a very deep thinking man but he has a testimony of the Gospel and as he talked about what he knew to be true the spirit filled the room.  It was funny, because he then started to talk about some things that would be rather strange to a person that knew as little about the church as J... does, but it did not matter because the spirit was there so strongly that there was nothing that Brother A... could say that could have ruined the atmosphere.  

     We asked him then if he would be baptized if he came to know the things were true and he replied, "while Brother A... was talking I felt something warm inside me, and I believe the things he said."  Even a semi-seasoned missionary like myself had a hard time keeping his cool until after the lesson.
     From this experience I learned how important it is for the members to go out with the missionaries.  While I am on the topic of member missionary work, we have had something very strange happen to us that I never thought we would run into.  

     So you are probably thinking that those members that haven't come to church in a while probably would not be doing missionary work.  Well apparently this is not the case, because 2 of the 5 people I talked about at the beginning were found by such members.  I cannot relay to you the strange excitement that comes when you get a call from a member that has gone astray and they say, "I have a person that I want you to teach and I want you to help me come back to church so that I can help them."

     Which leads me to the next person I wanted to talk about, G....  So the member that found him is named Brother F., and Brother F. has not been to church in a long time.  But he made friends with G. after Brother F. fell out of a tree and was recovering in the hospital.  He called us up and told us that G. needs our help really bad and that he knows that he needs the Gospel in his life.  When we met G. we soon realized what the problem was.  

     So for anyone that does not know this, missionaries tend to have this strange spirit about them that makes anyone that is talking to them realize what the Lord wants of them and why they are falling short.  Now I am not going to explain everything that is wrong with our good friend G. but I will say this, he is like a man who has lost God in his life.  

     He spent his life searching after the things that he thought would bring him happiness, but he lost it all in a second and now we are trying to help him find out what will really bring him happiness.  Now G... is not and was not a bad guy, in fact he is a great guy who is wealthy, has a nice house, has a nice car, and yet all those things no longer bring him happiness.  Because there is no makeup of material possessions in this world that can bring someone lasting happiness, only the Gospel can do that.
     I am not going to try to fit anymore in this already giant email.  But I am grateful to be here helping these people and that I have the opportunity to be a tool of the Lord’s.  I can honestly say that I would not give it up for any material possessions in this world.

Elder Erb

Monday, November 18, 2013

11/18/2013 Waiting for a message

We haven't received any message from Elder Erb for a few weeks now.  When we do, we'll post it!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

10/28/2013, Tuesday. Service, Service, Service and Teaching

Oct. 28, 2013
Hi people,
     I am alive although I haven't written an email the past couple of weeks.  Our P-days have not been ours for the past couple of weeks.  A lot of stuff has changed since I wrote last, hopefully I can remember some of it.  To start out with I can explain why our P-days have been so busy.  We got a brand new car recently because it was time for the church to sell the other one.  It is a 2014 Toyota Corolla, and it was awesome when we got it because we got new miles for the month as soon as we got it.  This has affected our P-days because we have had to drive around some of the other missionaries now that we have a ton of extra miles.
     Funny though, with all these extra miles, I had to bike anyway.  I went on exchanges the first day we got the car and went to Warwick which just happens to be a biking area.  It was fun to bike around because it always made me feel accomplished at the end of the day.  Unfortunately it was while I was in Warwick that we were going to meet the Asian couple again so I did not get to see them this time around.  They are doing very well though and they learned about the power of prayer.
     Most of what I have been doing for the past couple of weeks is helping people get ready for winter which includes chopping wood, cleaning up fallen trees, splitting wood, and of course raking thousands and thousands of leaves.  We spent 8 hours raking the leaves off one person's lawn.  I am not sure if I mentioned this last fall, but I never realized what a chore raking leaves is until I came out to the east.
     We had an innumerable amount of those small miracles this week that testify of our loving Heavenly Father’s role in this work of salvation.  So many that if I were to write all of them, you would probably not read this email because it would be so long.  But I will talk about one.  A man called us up last week and asked us if we could come and bless his home.  We honestly had no idea who this man even was before we met him.  After we blessed his home by the Holy Priesthood which we hold, we taught him about the simple truths of the restoration.  He said that there was a lot to take in and that he would have to pray to know if it was true.  And we promised him that he would come to know of the truth if he had the desire to follow Christ.  This man’s name is J____  and I will probably have more to tell you about him in coming weeks because he called us back after the appointment and told us that he wants to meet with us again and learn more.  I know that our Heavenly Father led our new friend J_____ to the church and that all the other small miracles that we experienced these past couple of weeks have been because of His infinite love for us, his children.  I thank you for your prayers concerning me and those that I teach.  And I know that Heavenly Father has blessed me because of those prayers.
Elder Erb

Friday, October 25, 2013

10/25 No words and an anniversary

We haven't heard anything from Elder Erb since we posted his last letter.

On another note, just yesterday morning, 10/24, Elder Erb began the second year of his mission.

Thank you for your prayers and support and letters!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 9, 2013 General Conference--messages heard and applied

Hey family and friends,

     What a wonderful conference we had.  Conference is so meaningful when you are on your mission.  I think it’s because you are on the front line in the war against Satan.  I feel like there was so much that the Lord was trying to tell me that I didn't have enough time to write it all down before the speaker would move onto the next topic.  Unfortunately I missed most of the last session of conference because we were helping one of the members with car trouble.  It’s funny how obstacles will jump in your way right before you are about to do something that you know the Lord wants you to.  I felt that this poor member needed our attention at this time though.

     In terms of what we did the rest of the week, I need to give a little background.  Most of this week I was not even with Elder Graff, my companion.  This is because Elder Graff is our District Leader which means it is his job to interview people for baptism.  Well we had two people that needed to be interviewed for baptism this week and they were very far away.  So to save on miles we decided that it was best to go on a bunch of miniature exchanges and trade missionaries for a while so that Elder Graff could interview everyone.  Aside from General Conference, Elder Graff was here for only a day this week.  This meant that I was in charge of the area for a week.  Don't worry the area is still in one piece. 

      Speaking of which the first thing we did was went to do some service at a members house.  So these members are trying to clean their house and make it safe so that DCF will allow them to have custody of their grandchild.  They took the advice from last General Conference and "asked the missionaries" for help.  It was mostly cleanup of their back yard and moving everything into either the burn pile or the dump pile.  After we got enough wood together we started burning everything.  It was a good time and we got a lot of work done, which resulted in a clean yard and a 20 foot fire.  The members said the fire lasted for three days, which was perfect because on the fourth day we came back and made another one.

     Aside from burning down the East Coast we got the opportunity to teach V... a lot this week.  It is a lot easier now that we have our car because we do not have to make the hour and a half trek to his house to teach him.  We decided that it was important to let V... know that although he is not quite ready that we are trying to help prepare him for the commitment of baptism.  It was a very strong lesson that the Spirit helped with.  After the lesson, Elder Fabrizio, the elder that was with me at the time, told me that I said some things in there that seemed to be perfect.  It was funny that he said that because I felt the same way about the things that he promised and taught V....  

     We also were able to meet with the Asian couple this week.  In our lesson with them we felt something strange, the way I can describe it is as a connection between us and them.  They think of us as their teachers and yet they are comfortable enough to tell us about very personal struggles and questions in their lives.  I think the strangest part of it all is that we have the answers to all their deep questions.  We probably do not explain our thoughts nearly as well as we should be able to but they still understand everything that we are trying to convey to them.  They see us as messengers of truth and it gives me a zeal that makes me want to help them with all that I am.

     The last story I have to talk about from this week is probably the most spiritual of them all.  I have come to learn how nothing in the Lord’s eyes is coincidence.  While we were going about looking for members that have not come to church for a while we stopped at a house.  Elder Graff said "Oh this house, trust me we do not want to go there."  Now I would like to sound like I was being led by the Spirit here but in all actuality I was thinking in my head, "I bet I have seen worse than this house."  So I convinced him that we should go inside. 

     And to our astonishment it was actually cleanish.  Well we talked with them for a while and she told us that her mother was in the hospital and that she was actually going to try to get a hold of us soon so that we could go give her a blessing.  We said after we left we would go there and she told us that it was a huge blessing that we were there and that she had had a hard day and did not know what to do or if the Lord loved her.  Then she said that every time she thinks that, the missionaries show up at her door. 

     After we left her house we headed to the hospital and met her mother.  She had been waiting for us to come by and told us that she had thought about joining the church before but knew that she had to repent first.  We asked her if she would like a Book of Mormon to read while she was in the hospital and she accepted it gladly.  She then told us about her testimony of the truths in the Book of Mormon and how it has helped her in her life.

     Well I don't think I have anything else to talk about, and I am running out of typing time so until next week.

Elder Erb

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sept. 30, 2013: We got our keys back!

Hello there,
"While we were biking…"  Just kidding, as a matter of fact most of the time we walked this week.  We just got the keys back to our car today right before I typed this.  A week without the car has been a very fun and exciting experience.  We saw it as an opportunity that the Lord had given us to exercise our legs a little and also to do some of the good old door knocking work. Tracting actually went fairly well.  One of the people we went to talk to came out of their house saying we are not interested and you can go away.  But it just so happened that we had actually come to this house because we saw that they were selling natural honey at a very low price.  
It was amazing to see her attitude change so quickly once we told her.  She immediately apologized and showed us her honey and the sizes that they sold.  We told her we would come back a different day to buy some because we didn't have cash on us. She invited us to come back sometime to help them around the yard and maybe talk to them.  
It just so happens that they thought we were the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but once they found out we were Mormons they remembered some friends that they had in the past that were Mormon.  It is always amazing to me how many people mistake us for the Jehovah's Witnesses.  I kind of feel bad for the Jehovah's Witnesses too, because every time someone finds out that we are not them they are a ton nicer and friendlier to us.
Because we did not have our car, we were not able to visit the couple from China this week like we planned.  On the other hand we got to spend a lot of time with V....  V... is our investigator that is married to a member and whose daughter was just baptized last week.  Fortunately for us V... only lives about an hour walk from our house so we went to visit him about every day.  Normally that might be too much but he actually needs the company right now.  V... had to have surgery on his shoulder this week because he tore his tendon.  In our visits with him, we have been able to talk with him alone a lot about what he needs to do to become closer with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately there is not much more to talk about.  Most of the time we spent this week was used getting to where we were trying to go.  I have been able to better relate to the revelation that says "But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief." D&C 61:3.  
I have better realized my calling in understanding how it is important to talk to every person that I can come in contact with in these short two years.  Not one soul of a child of God is more important than another.  They are all great in his eyes and it is my responsibility as his Elder and servant to serve and teach them.  That is just something I have learned lately and it is applicable to you as well.  Build up the kingdom in your communities, and life where you stand.
Elder Erb
[emphasis added]

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sept. 23, 2013, Monday

Sept. 23, 2013
Dear people,
     This week went by so fast.  I find that the busier you are the faster the mission goes, which is sad because it is when you are busy that you are having the most fun.  To start off, I want to pick up where I left off last week about the media referrals.  So for those who don't know what a media referral is and did not read last week's email, it is a referral sent to us by Salt Lake.  

As we were going about contacting all of our media referrals, one of them found us.  One of our members brought their neighbors to church and they just happened to be people that requested us to come by their house and give them a Book of Mormon.  They are a young couple from China and they happened to be in Utah and took the tour of the temple.  There they met a nice young missionary that was also from China.  They got to talking and were interested in knowing more about what we believe as a church.  

Now to explain this couple, simply they are golden.  They do not want religion pushed on them, but are just searching for truth.  We shared with them the restoration and asked them if they would pray to know if it was true.  At the end of the lesson they explained to us how they were worried that we would try to force them to join our church.  

They told us that for some reason they felt comfortable talking with us about their questions and that the commitment we left with them did not scare them off because they felt comfortable around us.  For me, it helped me realize how important it is to have the spirit in the lessons.  I believe that the spirit opened up their hearts so that they would feel comfortable asking questions around us.

Speaking of the spirit, we had a cool once in a life time opportunity just the other day.  So we had a baptism on Sunday of a young girl we taught.  Normally in a convert baptism they are not confirmed until the following Sunday.  But because her family can only make it to church every other week we had to ask permission to get her confirmed right after the baptism.  

After the baptism, we asked her father, ..., what he thought.  He said that he felt very happy about what had happened.  So ... is not a member, yet.  I feel comfortable saying 'yet' because he wants to be a member.  When he came to church the first time and the Elders Quorum President asked him if he was investigating he quickly answered, "No I am not investigating the church.  I have full intent to one day be a member."  Although he wants to be a member, we will have to work with him a little to get him ready to make the commitment of baptism with the Lord.
Speaking of the baptism, we invited one of the Elders who was here previously to participate in the baptism.  Unfortunately while he was here, he took our car keys to get something out of our car and then took them back to his area with him.  So we will probably be without a car for most of this next week which should make things interesting.  So don't be surprised when next week's email starts off with, "While we were biking."
Elder Erb

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Boston, Massachusetts Mission Area Map

Elder Erb's mission area for the 
Boston, Massachusetts Mission.

Sep 17th, Tues. Ashford, Connecticut

Ashford, Connecticut

Hi there,
   I am trying not to make it a habit of emailing every other week but that seems to be how it is happening.  Last Monday I got really sick and so I did not feel up to sending out an email.  Most of the things I will be talking about are from last week because this week we all played the sick game as I passed around my cold to everyone in our district.  So back in it time when I wasn't sick, I got to meet an investigator of the church named J...  J.. is from the Philippines and has a super strong testimony that the gospel is true.  He has a slight problem with drinking coffee, but he knows that he has to give it up because it is what the Lord wants him to do.  While we were teaching him, he told us of the scripture that his testimony was built upon.  He said that the Elders assigned him to read Helaman 3.  Now for those of you who have not read Helaman 3 in a while I will let you know it is one of those chapters that is very long, drawn out, and boring.  He said that it was boring him to the point that the spirit testified to him this, "Who would make this boring stuff up?"  And he said that in that very moment he knew that Joseph Smith did not make up the Book of Mormon, but that it was truly written by inspiration from God.  Unfortunately I will not have any more stories about J... unless we go to see him get baptized.  I say this because it just so happens that J... is moving to the Manchester Ward.  Luckily, since that was the last ward I served in, I told him some of the people that he should go introduce himself to so that he does not feel out of place in his new ward.
     Although we lost J... to the Manchester Ward, it just so happens that we actually got someone from that ward as well.  One of the less-active members that we were working on bringing back moved out of the ward while I was there before we could help them.  Well I guess the Lord had something that he wanted me to tell them because soon after they moved I got transferred into their ward here in Ashford.  Their name is the K.. family and we re-found them and started working with them.  It just so happens that the Lord already started working on their hearts before we got to them because they told us about how they have goals of going to the temple together.  We asked them if they were reading their scriptures and they told us that they are currently racing to see who in the family can finish the Book of Mormon first.  They asked us if we could help them with family home evening because they did not think they were doing it right.  I was happy to let them know that I just so happen to know how to do family home evening after helping the G.. family figure it out.  Hopefully it will be a lot easier now that we will be doing it in English instead of Spanish.
     The last cool thing I wanted to talk about is we got a break from walking and riding our bikes all over the place.  This is because we got 7 media referrals.  This is a miracle on its own because 7 media referrals are more than I have gotten in my whole mission.  Media referrals are so special because the miles you use to find them do not count as part of your miles.  So we have been using them to get out into some of the farther ends of our mission and then spend the day out there.
     Well I happen to be running out of time again.  But I will have a lot of people to talk about next time that we are working with.
Elder Erb

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sep 9, 2013, Tues

Dear friends,

Elder Erb has a cold now so we don't have a post for him this week. Please pray for him to get well soon. Thank you all for your support and love.

Aloha, Mike and Shelly.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sep 3, 2013 (transferring to Ashford Connecticut)

Sept. 3, 2013

Hey guys,
     So I did not send out a message last week so I will explain some of the stuff that happened then too.  I want to start off with the dinner we had with the S’ family.  So the S’s are members that we had been trying to find for a long time to no avail.  Well we finally succeeded and they were very happy to see us and invited us to come back for dinner.  As we left they gave us a bunch of cherry tomatoes and some cayenne peppers.  We kind of put the peppers out of our mind until a couple of hours right before we were about to go visit that family.  We decided that we had to at least try them before we went to their house for dinner so we can tell them how they were.  

     They were hot, really hot.  I was fine after a little while but Elder Griffin got a stomach ache almost immediately after eating it.  Well after he got better we went to the dinner which was really good and then we were told to do something we had never heard of before.  After we had finished eating they told us it was time for us to sing for our food.  

     Elder Griffin and I looked at each other very confused and asked them what they meant.  Brother Shienberg told us that some of the sister missionaries in the past told him that we are supposed to sing for our food.  After much persuasion we sung the song "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." We decided to sing this to them because just a couple of nights earlier I found out that I would be leaving Manchester soon to serve in another area.

     Well I am now no longer in the great area of Manchester anymore.  Now I am in the Ashford area, which just so happens to be the area right next to Manchester.  So I may have mentioned how much of a foresty area my last area was, the difference here in Ashford is now it feels like we are travelling in Jumanji.  My new address is now 149 Ashford Center Rd. Apt. C6 Ashford, Connecticut 06278 and if you were to Google this address you might just find a bunch of trees in the middle of nowhere.

     Although I have been here for 3 1/2 days there have been some crazy cool experiences that have happened.  So both of these stories happened because we have been walking.  And although I am not in a walking area we have no miles because we have to use our miles just to get to meetings because we are so far away from everyone else.  So my new companion, Elder Graff, and I were walking to a less-active members home when all of a sudden a car pulls off the road in front of us and the man inside asks us "Hey are you the Mormon missionaries?"  We said yes and he told us that he heard that we do service and he wanted us to come by some time to help him with some stuff.  We said we would love to, but then he stopped us and said the real reason he wants us over is because he wants to go over some of Smith's writings with us.  He told us about how a friend of his gave him a Book of Mormon and he started reading it and was interested and confused about some things.

    Now at this point we were just trying to keep our cool so we didn't scare him off, after he left Elder Graff and I had to make sure that it all really happened.  So we made it to the member’s house, but unfortunately they were not there.  So we then started to walk to the next less-active’s house.  On the way there we found a gas station, and by this point Elder Graff was pretty thirsty from walking all day.  So we went in to buy some drinks.  

     While we were figuring out what we wanted a man walked in and said "Well what do you know it is the Mormon missionaries."  We started talking to him and it turns out that he had met with the missionaries a long time ago and for one reason or another stopped.  We asked him if we could come by some time and talk with him about religion and he said that would be fine if he could feed us and buy our drinks for us.  We ended up taking him up on his offer and told him that we would call him on the day he told us to.

     From this experience I learned how much preparation the Lord puts into each person so that they can be ready to find the gospel.  Many people might think that we were in the right place and at the right time and they are right but what I do know is it was not because of luck that we were there.  We met these people because we were doing what the Lord wanted us to at that moment in time.  Which was walking on the street in the sun, because we have no miles on our car.  I hope that as I spend more time in this area that I will be able to tell you about how these two appointments go.  Until then.

Elder Erb

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Mission President and his wife

Mission President Daniel Packard and Alison Packard

Mission Presidents in our church are usually called for three years.  This means that President and Sister Packard should be Elder Erb's mission president for his entire mission.

Daniel William Packard, 43, and Alison McBride Packard.  They have four children and are from the Heritage Oaks Ward, Los Altos California Stake. Brother Packard serves as a stake seminary teacher and is a former counselor in a stake presidency, stake Young Men president, stake mission president, high councilor, bishop, Young Mens' president and missionary in the California San Bernardino Mission.  He is also a partner and attorney with the firm, Packard, Packard & Johnson. He was born in Beaumont, Texas, to Bernard E and Sarah Packard.

Sister Packard serves as a secretary in the Young Women's program and is a former stake public affairs director, Young Women president, counselor in a Relief Society presidency, seminary teacher and missionary in the Uruguay Montevideo and Texas Fort Worth missions. She was born in Ogden, Utah, to Charles Brent and Jane Ruth McBride.

Thanks to Elder Berthelson's website for this biographical sketch.

Aug 29, 2013 - Note of transfer

Elder Erb is being transferred.  This means his direct mailing address will be changing.  Letters will still get to him when sent to the mission office address provided in the upper right hand portion of this blog.  That address is: The Massachusetts Boston Mission, 182 W. Central St. Suite 203, Natick, MA 01760.

Thank you for all your prayers and written support of this good missionary! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Aug. 19, 2013

Song: Two Years

A note about last week's letter:  In case you are a little slow like me, Jace was really saying that the Mission President was teaching them about the importance of good etiquette, not good edict.

Aug. 19, 2013
Hey everyone,

     I have a bunch of stuff that I want to talk about this week.  I just don't know where to start.  I guess I will start the way I normally do by talking about how we fixed a car this week.  So I know that I mentioned that we completely fixed Brother B...'s car.  And it is still fixed, but we did such a good job that one of the members in a different ward wanted us to fix their car too.  So we fixed his locking system on his door on the driver’s side.  We must be getting better at fixing cars because we planned for it to take two hours but we finished it in one.
     Alright I'm done talking about car stuff now.  The thing that I really wanted to talk about is the exchange that we went on this week.  So this week I went to my zone leaders area. For those of you who do not know what zone leaders are, they are the people above the district leaders, who are the people over us.  Anyway, the zone leader I went with was named Elder R..., and we went to his area while Elder G... stayed in our area with Elder R...'s companion.  That area is Hartford, Connecticut. While I was in Hartford I learned that 94% of the people there are African Am...n or Hispanic and that the remaining 6% is everyone else.  We stood out so much while we were walking around finding people, it was impossible not to notice us as two white guys in white shirts walking down the street.  So as we were going about, we were looking for people in the ward that have not come to church in a long time.  Sounds easy enough until you realize that all the people we were trying to visit lived in complexes.  This made it fun because we had to keep finding new ways into the buildings.  We learned that using a credit card really can open a locked door, that holding the door open for someone can also mean that you are holding it open for your companion as well, and also that most people will let you in if you tell them that you were sent by a Bishop.
     While we were going about doing this, we had a couple of strange, gross, and awkward situations.  With one we went to what looked like a nursing home to find a man.  We talked to the officer at the main floor and told him that the Bishop had not seen one of the residents for a while and wanted us to check up on him.  He then went on the computer for a moment and then said "hmm, that's what I thought.  I am sorry, but the guy you are looking for has been dead over a year."  At that point things were getting a little awkward and I said "I guess that’s why we haven't seen him at church for a while."  Luckily we had a good laugh with the guy and went on our way.  Now for the strange one:  We went to a complex and rang to be let in and as we were standing there we started to hear noises above us.  We looked up and heard the noises louder and the ceiling panels were moving up and down.  The best part was when we both looked at each other and both said at the same time, "rats."  Now for those of you that don't like gross stuff or thought that the last story was the gross one you might just want to skip to the beginning of the next paragraph.  So we went over to a lady’s house from Portugal to follow up and see if she kept a commitment that Elder R... had left at a previous appointment. While we were talking, her cat came over and we picked it up and started petting it and continued to teach her.  As Elder R... was petting the cat that was now on his lap, he suddenly turned to me and pointed at its face.  At the first glance I did not see it but then all at once I saw the millions of tiny little bugs scurrying in and out of its fur and eye lids.  The best way I can describe it is as if it was a horror movie made real.  Luckily the bugs that were on it only infect animals with fur so we are good, but it was still really gross.
     So the last thing I wanted to talk about was the ground breaking for the soon to be Hartford Connecticut Temple.  I have never seen a ground breaking ceremony before and this was a big one.   President Monson himself came down and broke ground to begin the construction of the new temple.  It was a great experience and something that probably most of the members of Connecticut have been waiting for a long time.  I will probably need to come back after my mission to see the temple once it is finished.  I cannot wait for the temple and the blessings it will bring to this area.  Until next week…

Elder Erb

Aug. 12, 2013

Aug. 12, 2013

Hola familia y amigos,

     As you may have guessed from my Spanish we saw the G... family again this week.  For those that do not remember, the G... family is the family with the daughter that was baptized a few months ago and the father that baptized her.  We have not been seeing them as much lately because we have wanted them to have the opportunity to do family home evening on their own.  Well we showed up for this one to see how it is going for them.  We found that it is going even better than we had imagined and they do it every week on their own.  When we went there we talked about "arrepintimiento" or repentance.  We did not make it very far into the lesson before the spirit filled the room and the true purpose of this message came into view.  Brother G... admitted to us that in his work situation that he has been having a hard time lately and has been faced with a great amount of temptation.  We talked about what he can do to avoid this temptation and what he should do in order for him to repent so that he can no more have the desire to do that thing.  It has been amazing how far we have seen this family come, and how much they trust us now by allowing us to help them bear there burdens with them.  This has been a huge testimony builder for me on the importance of family home evening and how it can help us with our spiritual progression.  My mother is probably laughing her head off reading this because of how much I used to dislike family home evening before my mission.
     We had the opportunity to hear from our Mission President and his wife this past week and they felt inspired to share a message with us that is something important for every missionary to know.  The reason I share this with you is because I wish that in my time preparing for a mission that I had paid more attention to this.  The message was on how as representatives of Christ it is important to have good edict.  I remember before going on my mission that we had the missionaries over for dinner once in our ward.  During the meal they seemed pleasant, kind, and well-mannered as far as I could see, but after they had left my step father pulled me aside and said when you go on your mission you need to have better manners than that.  I was confused and asked him what he was talking about and he explained that one of the missionaries had used his knife to get some food that was stuck in his teeth.  I did not think it was a big deal but it bothered him.  I realize, now that I am out here, what a problem this poor edict caused.  Because this Elder did something that made my step father uncomfortable, my step father was unable to take the missionary seriously as a messenger of Christ.  Because of this my step father may have not been able to have felt the spirit of the message that they brought with them making this elders appointment much less effective.  During this we were told never to be late to appointments.  Unfortunately though, the meeting went on much longer than everyone could have planned, making us late for our dinner appointment.
     The last thing that I can think of is that I finally, for the first time in my 9 months of being on my mission, have been given the opportunity to leave my area to proselyte in a different area.  I got to go to the area next to mine for a day and do what I could.  It was a fun opportunity because it was the first time in a long time that I was able to be with an elder that was younger, mission wise, than myself.  We had a lot of fun and visited a lot of people that are friends with members in our ward.  One of the people we saw was Bob.  Bob is a friend of Ma, the lady whose garden we weeded.  Bob in fact was introduced to the church by Ma.  Bob is a very active member and has been attempting to get Ma to come back to church for a long time.  So we talked with him about ways to get her back to church.  And we decided that he should invite Ma to the ground breaking for the Connecticut temple.  This is a huge event because the Connecticut temple was actually announced 20 years ago and this is the first step to start the construction on the Lord's House.  So we are hoping that will motivate Ma to come back.
     Well that is mostly everything that happened this week.  Next week we should have some good news with Tim our only investigator who we are seeing next week.

Elder Erb

Clarifications: Step father was not in the room to see the knife-as-toothpick incident.  He was told about this after the missionaries left.  He then encouraged Jace (Elder Erb) that he remember to practice good etiquette when on his mission.  Examples are important.  E.g., Alma's counsel to his son Corianton about the power of one's example remains valid today.  Mike/step father