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

Aug. 5, 2013

Aug. 5, 2013

Hi guys,

     So I have some good news about that car we were working on.  As of this week it is officially completely repaired.  It’s good news because now I don't need to email about it anymore.  This week was a fun week, and I say that because it was full of something that missionaries love, surprise service.  The reason surprise service is so fun is because you don't have to do anything to prepare for it at all, it actually finds you.  We started off the week with Brother B...'s car again and everything went exactly according to plan, which we didn't plan for.  With our extra time we went and checked on what Ma was doing.  For those that don't remember who Ma is, it is ok, it has been a while, she is the lady who's garden we helped weed.  Well she also needed our help last minute to prepare her house to be available to rent out on the 8th.  So we helped her move all of the heavy stuff out of the house or to the first floor.
     With some of the other surprise service opportunities we had I was better able to understand the difference between doing what you think the Lord wants you to do, and what the Lord actually wants you to do.  An example of this was when we were about to go to an appointment to teach a less active member.  Right before we left we got a text from him telling us that he would not be able to meet with us today and that we would have to reschedule.  Before we could even think about being bummed out, we got a call from a member asking us if we can help a friend of his move into the ward.  At the move we got to meet a nonmember that was helping us that was from Egypt named Z....  Although we only talked to him for a little while when we were moving furniture, the conversation of religion extended into the lunch conversation which led to the discussion of some key principles of our beliefs as Mormons.
     Another amazing opportunity we had to serve was at a blood drive held at our church.  The blood drive itself was being put together by a less active member named N....  Whoever thought of this idea was a truly inspired individual.  N... is about 23 and hasn't been to church in a long time, but after receiving this assignment she attended church every week for about 2 months straight trying to get volunteers and people to donate.  We were asked to come and help people make sure they got to the rest area safely after they had donated.  The blood drive was a huge success, not only was there a huge turn out from the ward, but more amazingly there was a huge turn out from people living nearby and nonmember friends and relatives of the members.  This was perfect because it gave us the chance to talk to a lot of nonmembers in a comfortable and casual environment.  But I have to say that probably the best part of the drive was the challenge that I made with N....  So N... wanted one of us to give blood.  My companion Elder G... could not give blood because of his medications.  Elder C... another elder was there but could not because he is from Brazil.  And so it came down to me.  I had never donated blood before so I decided to get something out of it.  We agreed that if I gave blood that N... would have to come to church for the next 4 weeks.  And if I tried to give blood but did not qualify that she would only have to come the next 2 weeks.  Unfortunately I didn't qualify because I have gone to Greece in the past year but hopefully I will have the chance to redeem myself in the next blood drive in November if I am still here.
     Alright I know this email is getting long, but before I go I wanted to at least talk about the second picture.  So this picture is of my meal that I had at the Saldivar family's house.  The Saldivar family is from the Philippines and so this is what we had for dinner.  It was a lot of fun hanging out with them and the nonmember friend that they invited over.  Unfortunately that friend went back to the Philippines for vacation but he told us that when he comes back that he would like to meet with us.  Well that's all I am going to try to fit into this email.

Elder Erb

July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013

Hello people,

     I don't have a ton to talk about this week.  This is mostly because it was so hot here this past week that no one wanted to see us.  It was so hot that people weren't even willing to stand outside as we served them.  Instead I am going to take some time and talk about some things that happened right before my last email that I did not have enough room to talk about.
     We had an awesome opportunity a week ago when a member invited us over for a neighborhood barbecue.  This was awesome because we are always looking for opportunities to meet people and to eat some food.  And the barbecue was the perfect solution.  Luckily for my companion we were on exchanges and I had a different Elder with me at the time.  This was good because Elder G... hates seafood and we had steamers.  Steamers are clams that have just barley been cooked and are still intact and are attached to their shells.  Although it looked really gross, they were actually very good.  In addition to the amazing food we also got to have some very good conversations with a lot of nonmembers.  Many of which told us that we should give them a call when we need food or just stop by sometime when we are in the area to talk to them.  Little do they know that as missionaries we are always in the area.  Fact: when a missionary says they are in the area it actually means, we came here looking for you because we felt inspired to meet with you.
     An example of this is this week when we went to visit a member that just moved into our ward.  His name is Brother M... and he is from Haiti.  Brother M... has been inactive for a long time and we felt that we should go welcome him to the ward.  When we got there we managed to catch him in the small margin of time that he was actually home.  He told us about how he wants to be coming to church and doing what he knows is right.  But that his job will not allow him to do it.  We set up an appointment to meet back with him and told him that he should do all that he can to get close with God until He provides a way.  During our next meeting with Brother M... he started off by telling us that God had answered his prayers and that a new shift was made in his job so that he will be able to go to church Sunday.  He told us that he knew God had answered his prayers and provided a way for him to do what he knew was right after he had done his part by preparing himself for his prayer to be answered.  I am glad to say that Brother M... came to church this past Sunday and we will also be meeting with him and his family this week to help them bring the gospel back into their lives.
     Alright I have one last story I want to share from this week that was exciting.  Do you guys remember the G... family?  They are the family that we have been working with to help them start family home evening and become more active as members.  Well they have been doing very well, so well that Sister G... was asked to give a talk.  This was good except Sister G... can't speak English very well and that on top of the nervous factor might not have been the best.  So we brought a member by to help her with her talk in any way she needed help.  When Sunday came I was anxious to see how she would do.  She got up and started giving her talk in Spanish.  At first the ward got a little confused at what was happening.  After Sister G...'s talk, her home teacher, Brother W..., stood and said,"Hello I am Sister G...."  He then proceeded with her talk in English and it was one of the best talks I have ever heard.  It was cool to see someone that I have been working with so much have grown so much and come so far in the gospel in such a short time.
     I hope all of you can grow in the gospel and be able to experience that great change in your lives through the atonement.  I know that this change does not only have to come to those that are struggling but for anyone no matter where they are spiritually.  I thank you for being supportive of my decision to be on a mission and serving the Lord in whatever way I can.

Elder Erb

July 17, 2013

Wed. July 17, 2013

Hello there,
     So I want to start off with saying that I am sorry for not sending out a message last week.  There is a funny story behind that too.  So we were told by our Mission President to start emailing in the family history centers during P'day.  He told us to do this so that we could be next to our companions and protect them while they are online.  So we got the keys so that we could go do it and everything was going good until we locked the keys inside the church right before we started emailing.  We were unable to get back into the church until after P'day ended at 6:00.
     To make up for my lack of an email last week, I will be talking this week about stuff from both weeks.  To start off with I want to talk about my companion a little more.  So I haven't talked much about him yet so far because I was worried that he was just going to be transferred because of my recent record of keeping companions no longer than a transfer.  So his name for a quick recap is Elder G....  Elder G... is super funny and I say this mostly because he is a huge nerd.  I don't feel bad saying this though because he is very proud of his nerdiness and it has come in handy on a couple of occasions.  An example of this was this week when we went with a member to help an older woman "fix" her computer.  I say "fix" because the main problem was that it was not plugged in.  Well after we pretty much rearranged her entire living room trying to get the computer to an outlet we hit another problem.  There was a password on the account.  We asked her if she knew what the password was and she said "A what?"  We took that as a “no” and Elder G... turned to me and asked "Do you think it is alright if I hack into this account?"  Well we fixed her computer and everyone lived happily ever after.  We had a good laugh about it later.  I am glad to say that Elder G... will be staying for at least another transfer, so there will probably be more stories to match this one.
     While I am talking about cool stuff that we have done, I think I mentioned last week that we have been fixing cars as part of our service.  Well it has mostly been one car in particular and it is a car that belongs to one of our members, Brother B....  So I wanted to talk about this because it is a miracle that we have worked on his car as many times as we have and it still functions.  Better than that, it is actually improving with each of our visits.  Now usually he just YouTubes what we should need to fix the problem and he tells us what to do.  We have been able to successfully fix Brother B...'s AC system, brake system, replaced the spark plugs in his engine, changed his battery, and have of course changed his oil and filter.  I remember that we gave up one of our P'days to finish working on his car and after about 4 hours we stepped back and noticed that we had taken out at least a third of the engine.  Then we rushed to get it back in when it started raining.  My companion and I believe that Brother B...'s car is like missionary cars, they all run on faith.
     I also wanted to talk a little about T....  Now it has been a while since I last talked about T... so I will refresh everyone's memory.  T... is the less-active member who called us up out of the blue one day and asked us if he could buy us something to eat.  Well T... then had to go to New Jersey because he had to serve his time for being in the reserves for the marines.  Well we saw him recently while we were hanging out with his family for the 4th of July.  Now a little something about T..., he is one of those people that is super social and makes anything funny.  We got to talking with him and then we decided that we should go golfing with him on P'day.  Now I don't know much about golfing but after that P'day I learned something about it.  You don't need to be good at golfing to have a fun time golfing.  So we went and T... brought a non-member friend named M... and it was a blast.  T... was the only good one out of the four of us.  T... for some reason could not grip his club very well and so it would always go flying out of his hand whenever he hit it.  And I had a hard time making contact with the ball.  Most of the time you could see a huge mound of dirt go flying after I hit.  To help M... get out her anger from not doing very well we would drive crazy all over the golf course collecting all of the balls that we hit the wrong way.  Elder G... and I determined that to be the best P'day of all time.
     Well before my email gets too long, I'm going to stop.  I will probably talk about some other things we did these past two weeks next week.  Thank you for your letters and packages and I hope that you all had a great 4th of July.

Elder Erb

July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013
Dear family and friends,

    Wow this week went by in a flash.  It goes to show how the harder
you work on your mission and the more fun you have, the faster it goes
by, which is kind of depressing.  We have a youth from our ward,
Y..., that will be heading out to report to the MTC this Tuesday to
prepare for his mission to
California.  We hope that we will be able
to reactivate the rest of his family while he is gone.  We actually
had a great opportunity to meet with his father this past Thursday at
Sam's farewell party and got to talk with Brother Y... about his own
mission to
Chicago.  It was good to hear him talk about some of the
spiritual experiences and fun times he had on his mission.  We also
found out while we were talking with Brother Y... that he speaks
Spanish.  So hopefully we will be able to use him when we go and visit
the G... family.
    So unfortunately I don't have very many spiritual experiences to
tell about this week.  This is because we spent most of our time
serving this week.  Now I'm not sure what it is like serving in other
areas but here it is super fun because
Connecticut is all foresty.
This means that all the stuff we do involves either moving boulders,
doing work in a garden, cutting down trees, or other wood work.
Fortunately for us we got to do all of these things this week.  First
we got to cut down some trees then cut them down to a reasonable size
to be carried and then stack them.  This was funny because the most
important part of stacking wood is the ends of the pile.  You have to
stack it with a bunch of pieces that are all similar in size and
shape, then stack them in a particular way.  Luckily this family did
not put this on us and instead thought it best to do it themselves for
us.  Then of course as we are about a little more than half way done
with stacking them, the end gives way and they all roll off.  In
moments like those the best thing to do is just to laugh.
    We also got the opportunity to serve the Nobles, a less active
family, in there yard.  They have a horse, an
alpaca, and a bunch of chickens.  We had to go help them because the
horse and the alpaca run across the ground and remove a lot of dirt.
This is all fine until the septic tank's pipes start to show.  So it
was our job to shovel dirt back into their yard to cover up the pipes.
I got to be the one that went in and shoveled the dirt in under the
horse’s coral, with the horse in it.  Luckily the horse was nice and
wouldn't freak out as long as I moved really slowly.  Despite my super
slow movements, we still finished relatively quickly and my
companion and I got to go and chase some of the chickens around catching
them.  That ended with me getting pooped on by one of them, I guess
they did not like being caught as much as we liked catching them.
    The last service project I have time to talk about is when we
weeded this less active woman's garden, we call her Ma.  We
help Ma with her garden sometimes when we have free time because she
can't bend over anymore and she told us that she will give us some of
her vegetables.  So we were going to go and have her come out so we
could talk to her while we pulled her weeds.  But she was asleep and
so we decided to do it anyway.  The challenging part was not the size
of the yard nor the amount of weeks but it was a game of not to pull
the mystery callalu plant.  Callalu is a special Jamaican radish, and
none of us knew what it looked like.  So we started and decided that
when we pulled out something with a bulb in the root we would just not
pull anything else that looked like that.  We found one that might
have been it and then continued being extremely careful not to touch
the supposed callalu plant.  By the time we were almost done she came
out and was surprised that we had done so much and then she asked why
we left some of the weeds.  We said we thought they were the callalu.
And she said that we did not have to worry if it was or not because we
had actually pulled it all out the very first time we went to help
her.  My companion and I then got disappointed because now we will
never be able to taste the mystery callalu plant.
    Well that is all the service stuff I have time to talk about this
week but we did lots of other stuff as well.  The miraculous part of
all of this is that after all this time in the woods I have not gotten
a single tick.  So knock on wood the Lord will continue to protect me
this way as well as in others.

Elder Erb

Jun 24, 2013

Jun 24, 2013
Hello everyone,
     Wow it’s been a long time.  While I wasn't paying attention, three weeks snuck by me.  Since then a lot has happened though.  Many of the less-active members that I talked about last time who were "thrown into our path" have made a lot of progress in coming back unto the fold of Christ.  It is a grand and spiritually fulfilling experience to help people come back under the effects of the atonement as they come back to a remembrance of the covenants that they made with the Lord during baptism.  There are miracles to be had in less-active work that are as amazing and as life changing as work with nonmembers.  We have also started to see a change in the ward from this work.  As we are bring back lost members we are also bringing back long lost friends to the members of the ward.
     There is a huge importance between the relationship between a ward and its missionaries.  As the ward has begun to notice our effort in the service of the Lord many of our members have begun to also wish to serve the Lord and help us where they can.  This has opened up many new and useful opportunities for us to come in contact with more people.  An example of this is when long time inactive members started showing up at church.  From this the counselors asked us who we were also working with.  This conversation led into a discussion about people that we could not find or that we were unable to get a hold of in the past.  Then he looked over the names and started spouting out names of people that knew and were still in contact with these people.  Some of them were also names that he had recognized.
     I have come to a realization of something very important this last week.  Before now I always was trying to think of ways to ease in the topic of religion with those that we meet on the street or those that we might come into contact with by other means.  I have come to realize how simple it actually is to introduce the gospel to those that have no idea or even to bring it up with a long time inactive member.  There is a secret to how to introduce something that you care about so much with someone you care about.  The secret is you need to do it with love.  I was talking with a long time inactive member the other day who had fallen away from the church.  His name was Adje, and in our conversation with him he mentioned how he had the day off today from work.  It was in that moment when I stopped him and asked him, "Adje, if you didn't have work today why didn't I see you at church."  This simple phrase could have the potential to cause people to take offense and close up.  But because I asked and truly wanted to know and help him instead he opened up to us and told us his troubles.  Adje is now on a path that is leading him closer to the Savior, and hopefully in time we will be able to help him through his struggles and get him back into the fold.
     Thank you everyone who supports me in my decision to come here and preach the word which has brought great joy to me in my life.  I also thank you for your prayers for I have felt the hand of the Lord in my struggles these past three weeks.
Elder Erb 

Jun 4, 2013


Hi family and friends,

     It’s transfer week again and I'm sorry to say that our zebra companionship of awesomeness is now coming to an end.  ElderB... is going to be serving in
Charlestown Massachusetts in the area where the movie "The Town" is about.  For those that are counting, this is my 3rd companion that has left in the past 3 months.  The reason I bring this up is because all the members are thinking that I'm way too tough on my companions and they keep having to get traded out for new ones.:D
     Last week I mentioned how we are working with a less active family named the G...s to help them with home teaching.  Since then tons of less active people have been moved into our path to the point where you could say that the Lord is throwing them at us.  The other day we were going about doing missionary stuff and we get a call.  The call is from an inactive member named T... who we have never met before asking us if we want to go eat with him sometime.  We, being eager and hungry missionaries, jumped at this opportunity to both be fed and to meet with this inactive member.  T... is an awesome guy who is in his mid 20's.  He is one of those people who would give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it.  He told us that it is time for him to start coming back to church and that he would like to take us golfing on one of our "P" days.  After we warned him that we were not good at golf, he reassured us that it was ok because he is bad at golf too.
     Another example of people being thrown into our path recently is the less active recent convert that we waited outside the door for about 3 weeks ago for 30 minutes.  As I explained, it was one of those times when everything went right until the very end when we ended up not seeing her.  Since then we have gone to see her about 4 times without being able the find her at the appointments we had set.  On our last attempt we went back with the member that we had brought and were talking about things and then all of a sudden he says that he should call a Sister in an area nearby to say goodbye.  This was because he remembered he did not have this sister's number after she got transferred and that she was going home soon.  Eventually we got ahold of her and they started talking and it came up that we had just come back from trying to meet with Sister M..., the less active, with no success.  And then a miracle happened, the Sister we had called was the Sister that led Sister M... to the gospel.  She then asked us for her number and made an appointment with Sister M... for us and the Sisters to meet her together tomorrow.  This time we did get to meet with Sister M... and she was happy to see us and she wants our help in bringing her back to church.
     Well I am running out of time to write but I thank you all for keeping me, and the other missionaries in your prayers.

Elder Erb

May 28, 2013

May 28, 2013
     Another week gone in a flash.  The time goes by so fast now I fear that next thing I know I will be done.  Luckily someone reassured me that I was still Y... on my mission when we saw some RM's from this mission at the temple yesterday.  It made me feel like I was still Y... because they were both missionaries that had been released before I had gotten here.  Which brings me to what I learned in the temple this time though.  It seems that every time I go through I learn something new and this time it was something I can talk about so I would like to share it.  I learned how little we know and how much we may never know in our earthly existence.  Along with this I learned that this is ok.  This was exactly the thing I needed to learn because as my companion and I have been helping others to teach and share what they know about the gospel, I have caught myself in the trap of going over in my head all the things that they are doing wrong and could be doing better.  I started to think in the temple about how our Heavenly Father must look upon us.  Despite how little we know compared to Him, I could never imagine him pointing out all the mistakes we make.  Instead I can see Him encouraging us and always waiting patiently to give advice when and as we seek for them.
     With this topic of me not understanding things, we went and saw the G... family, our Spanish speaking family, this week.  As I may have explained before, we are helping them start family home evening.  It was all in Spanish.  :P  I think I counted a total of 13 words that I understood.  Luckily my companion was able to understand the lesson and help me to answer when I was asked questions.  It is also helpful that we are there so that we can help the parents know what things should be different that most other members would consider common knowledge.  The family home evening night, despite the fact I did not understand anything, was amazing and fun.  And I got to try an interesting new food that was really good and I will make again.  It is called "crazy corn", it is where they put fry sauce, ketchup with mayonnaise, on the corn and then cover it with Parmesan cheese.  My companion and I ate 5 ears of corn.  :D
     Luckily I was able to give back to my companion with his mastery over the Spanish language when we went to go see a man named A... with a member.  A... is from Ghana and Elder B... could not understand him at all with his heavy accent.  I could understand him fine though and it felt good to be able to be giving back to Elder B... for a change.  A... is a less active member that actually served a mission and has a strong testimony of the church.  Luckily A... is super nice and funny and isn’t easily offended.  I felt like I could be very blunt with him and we could still have laughs afterwards.  Hopefully I will be able to tell you about something cool we did next week because he said that he likes us and wants us to come back on Saturdays to do stuff with him.
     Well that's all the cool stuff that I can remember from this week.  Sorry I can't remember everything from the week.  Thanks so much for all of your support and prayers for me in this cause.
Elder Erb

May 21, 2013

May 21, 2013
Hi again,

     It’s been a great week this week.  So now that the sun has come around it’s getting warm... really warm, maybe even too warm at times.  This is great because it just so happens that people in New England get a lot nicer when the weather is warmer.  We went tracting this week and almost every person we met greeted us and listened to us until we were done.  Unfortunately people still say the common phrase "I'm all set" no matter what the weather is like.  Now that things are warming up, more opportunities for us to help people have also arose.  An example of this is when we helped a member in our ward move.  We had a huge turnout of members and even some less active members come to help with the move.  Funny story about the move is about a member that we brought with us who we have been working with for a while.  So because I misunderstood the time that we were going to start the move at, we ended up an hour off schedule.  Now for those that have helped move you might be thinking well coming an hour late to a move is fine.  This is true, except we showed up an hour early!  Luckily they were mostly ready for us and it went fine, it was just kind of funny when we showed up and no one was there.
     While I'm on the topic of this member we brought with us I would like to talk about him.  His name is Bro. G... and he is the father of the Y... nine year old girl who was baptized not to long ago.  We have been working with all of them trying to reactivate their family, and have been successful.  As of a couple of weeks ago they are officially active members, Yay!  The reason I am talking about them this week is because we have been seeing them a ton after Elder B... got here.  This is because they all speak Spanish as their first language and we did not have much success in communicating with them before now.  But because of our zebra companionship of awesomeness, we are now working with them to get family home evening happening in their home every week and helping them to read their scriptures every night.  We also have got to know Bro. G... very well because after he helped us with the move he thanked us and asked us if he could get us some food and then if we could hang out with him for a while.  We ended up spending most of the day hanging out with the whole G... family.  To explain what a zebra companionship is, it is a companionship where both the elders speak different languages.
     Well I don't have much else to talk about so I will just finish with some random funny stories this week.  The first one is about a recent member who has over time become less active slowly.  We decided that it would be a good idea to go and see her.  When we did we could not go in because there was no male in the home and so we rescheduled an appointment and got her home teacher to come with us.  So everything was good and the member came on time and we all knew what we were to go over and all the stars were aligned just right.  Then we knocked on the door and her son answered and said he would go get his mom.  Unfortunately this is how the story ends because we sat there for 30 minutes waiting for her.  The funny part was when the member we brought said that he thought he saw her around the corner and then duck and hide.  
Next funny story is about my companion during our district meeting.  So we meet once a week as a district to train and collaborate.  Our District Leader thought it would be a good idea for us to role play some problems we have when we visit with members.    The best part about it was that Elder B... and I got to be the members with one of the sisters in our district.  We decided that Elder B... would be a hyper 7 year old, the sister would be his aunt, and I would be an 80 year old man.  With a set up like this what could go wrong?  :P  We got really into our roles. I was completely deaf and the missionaries had to yell at me to hear anything.  Elder B... at one point in the lesson slowly started to tip over on his chair and we all watched as he slowly crashed to the floor.  This awesome experience was a testimony to me how by the weak things the Lord works miracles among the world.  I hope you all let the Lord work through your weaknesses and trust in him with all your heart.

Elder Erb

May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013
Happy Mother’s Day!

     So yesterday all the missionaries were given the great opportunity to speak with their families.  That goes to show you how important Mother’s Day really is because the only other day we get to call home is on Christmas.  Now that I have been in the mission through this grand holiday, I can see the huge reason of its importance.  During the wonderful talks given this Sunday on the subject my mind was turned to the scripture of Alma 57:47-48.  For those that are not familiar with this scripture it is talking about the 2,000 sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's who took up arms against their enemies to defend the rights to liberty and protect the oath that their fathers had made with the Lord.  During this point in their battle with the Lamanite army, while they were leading them into a trap, they felt impressed to turn back and enter into a situation that would put their lives in danger.  Despite the fact that they were all in their youth because of their great faith in God and in the faith which had been taught to them, by their mothers, they went to the aid of their Nephite brethren.  From the faith that they showed in this circumstance and the zeal they had in obeying the words of their mothers as a result of this battle none of the 2,000 sons were killed during this battle because they knew that the Lord would protect them as their mothers had taught them, and they had faith in the words of their mothers.
     These youth understood what it meant to "honor your father and mother".  And to honor them does not only mean to listen to them, but it also means to bring honor to them.  I have been thinking about how applicable this is to everyone as we need to bring honor to our parents who are in heaven.  Sorry that this email was a little preachy I guess it’s just because Mother’s Day was just yesterday and the feeling hasn't worn off yet.  I love you all and hope that you had as good of a Mother’s Day as I did.

 Elder Erb

May 6, 2013

May 6, 2013
Hola familia y amigos,

     How’s my Spanish?  There is a reason I ask and I will get to that in a moment, but first I need to start off by saying that it has been a crazy week.  I guess the Lord decided that I needed more practice driving and the reason I say this is because I have mostly spent the entire week driving really long distances.  And, on a semi, related note I have good news and bad news.  So the bad news is I am not training anymore ;C because my greenie had to go home for a while.  Now that the bad news is out of the way, on to the good news.  So the good news is my new companion Elder B....
     Elder B... is a very seasoned missionary that will have been out for a year in a week.  The reason I asked how my Spanish was is because he is a Spanish elder who is from Honduras.  He is super awesome and funny.  I feel a little bad though because he got taken out of the Spanish program to be my companion.  I told him that if he teaches me Spanish then he will get back into the Spanish program.
     This past Saturday Elder B...'s Spanish was really useful in the baptism of V....  V... is a nine year old girl who speaks both English and Spanish fluently.  The reason my companion’s Spanish helped was because her father who was performing the ordinance does not understand English very well.  It really helped to calm him down when my companion was able to speak with him in his language.
     Alright now it’s time for a random funny story we just had.  Because of all the driving that had to be done we are now drastically over on our car mileage for this month even though it is only the sixth day of the month.  With this in mind, we decided to do some street contacting, which means we were walking around talking to people on the street.  While we were doing this, some guy calls to us from his window and tells us that he wants to talk with us about religion.  We go to his door and he knew exactly who we were.  This is strange because everyone mistakes us for the Jehovah's Witnesses.  Anyway the first thing he asks us is about how we as a religion view gays.  Now you might be thinking that it all went downhill from here, somehow it did not, but it turned into a good discussion about God's plan for us and we talked about a lot of key doctrinal points.  He said that he likes the things that we said and that we should come back some other time to talk with him.  I hope that he meant what he said by liking the message, instead of just liking the messengers.
     Well thank you for supporting me in the cause as the Lord’s servant.  I thank you for your prayers concerning me and my companions in this work.  I hope that you can all have this same joy as you spread the gospel in your own areas.

Elder Erb

April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013
Dear People of the real world,

     As I explained in last week’s letter, I now have a new companion who is fresh out of the MTC.  His name is Elder C... and the first thing I have to say about him is... He is a stud!  I am supper fortunate to be a trainer to a greeny that has a desire to be here and has the ability to learn as easily as he does.  Greeny is a new missionary, I felt like I should explain this because I heard that they refer to them by different colors in different countries.  I now see and understand how the new missionaries are different than the ones that have been out for a little while.  He is like a sponge and is absorbing knowledge like crazy right now, kind of like a baby does.  Elder C... is luckily not one of those missionaries that thinks he knows everything and trusts in my experience... which is kind of a scary thought actually.
     Speaking of scary thoughts, because I am a trainer by default, I am the driver.  I have not driven in 6 months!  On top of that my first destination in the car was to travel back to Manchester Connecticut from Belmont, Massachusetts.  This was a testimony to me of the power of prayer.  During the drive up to Belmont we got to pass through my old area.  It was weird because I still remembered everything and where people lived and I kind of missed the area.  I think the reason I felt this way was because after spending all my time, energy, and talents serving them, I was blessed with charity for the people in the area.  Unfortunately it always seems like you don't realize how much you love something like this until it is gone.
     Alright I'm done talking about my old area, now to my current area.  When Elder C... and I finally got back we did not have anything planned and so we did what any hungry missionary would do and looked for a pizza place.  Because we are very short on miles for this month, we decided we should walk and in the process got lost.  Let it be known that us getting lost was completely my fault and not poor Elder C...’s fault.  Anyway, in the process of us being lost we happened upon some interesting people.  We ran into a lady looking for an ice cream shop that was as lost as us.  We got to talk to her about who we are and the church a little.  We ran into a less active member who greeted us warmly and told us if we ever need his help he would be there for us.  And then, last but not least we ran into a guy who is married to a member and goes to church every week with his wife and kids.  We just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Funny how missionaries always do that.  He flagged us down so that he could use our phone to call his wife.  We got to talk with him for a while and he is a super nice guy that loves his family.  We talked about his religion and ours until his wife came and he told us that we should come by some time.
     Alright I have one last funny random story before I go.  So we received a name of a less active member that has not been to church in years from a member after this super amazing spiritual lesson we had that I will probably talk about next week.  So that night we went and visited her.  We knocked, she opened the window to see who it was, I waved and said "Hi".  Then she did not answer.  We decided we should go back the next day anyway just because it was late when we stopped by, we happened to catch her as she was heading out on the back of some dudes motorcycle.  They stopped, pulled off their helmets and we introduced ourselves.  This is how the conversation went;
she said,"This is my fiance."
he said,"No I'm not."
she said,"Yes he is, we have been engaged for two weeks."
he said,"No we haven't."
she said,"We have been seeing each other for 6 years and that we have had a rough time lately and we are getting back together for the first time in a couple of months."
he said,"That's what she thinks."
Now this went on for a really long time and we decided that before we become their relationship councilors that we should leave.  We laughed about this so hard later, we must have come at the worst possible time ever.
     Thank you for all of your support for me out here.  I love you all.

Elder Erb

April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013

Hola family and friends,

     So nothing much has happened here.  You know except for a bomb going off and harming people in the Boston Race!  Luckily none of the missionaries got hurt even though there were many of them down there at the time, including our Mission President and some of his family.  You might be asking, "Well how did this affect you all the way down in Connecticut?"  We, along with the rest of the mission were assigned to stay inside and not do anything.  This was sad because we love doing missionary work, but we took advantage of the situation and decided that there is strength in numbers so we camped out at our zone leaders’ house for the day.  During our down time, I managed to read through the book of Alma, Heleman, and most of 3 Nephi.  I never realized how many hours there are in a day.
     I let transfers sneak up on me again.  I am not leaving, my companion is.  In his place I am going to be training a brand new missionary.  After I got over a couple of mixed feelings of astonishment, nervousness, and fright, I decided that I should let my father, or trainer, know that he was soon to be a grandfather.  I realized after being away from my trainer and with other missionaries that I was a very hard missionary to train.  It is similar to the feeling most people get when they have been away at college or on their own for a year and then realize how much their parents have done for them.  It is very fitting how we relate to one another in the church and on the mission by names that are found in the family.
     Oh yeah!  That reminds me, I'm officially old now that I'm 20.  I would like to thank everyone that remembered my birthday.  I say this because I almost forgot it myself and would have if the Sisters in our district didn't surprise me with a cake the day before the 12th.  For all those that were worried if the letters and packages got to me by the 12th, I will put your minds at ease by telling you that they did get to me, on the 13th.  It was actually really funny, because I didn't get any letters or anything the 12th, and then got 5 letters and 3 packages on the 13th.
     I thank you all for your prayers and thoughts toward me.  I am sorry that I do not have more to talk about this time.  I love you all and want you to know that this transfer I have learned more than anything else that putting your faith in the Lord will never let you down.

Elder Erb