Monday, September 15, 2014

2014 09 15 Elder Jace Erb completes his mission and returns home to us on October 24th.

2014 09 15: "You are the first ones I've let in."

Sept. 15, 2014

Hey again,
      A lot has happened over a short period of time.  We went from what I thought was being busy to being too busy for us to stay together most of the time.  When this happens as missionaries we can go on splits with worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders and they act as our companions until we return with our assigned companion.  Lately we have been so busy though that even with these splits, which happen about every other day, we have still had to let many important things go undone.  It is great to see that this has happened though as we thought that when all the people went away after the summer ended that so would all our work.  Fortunately for us though it seems that the opposite has happened and we are now busier than ever.

     With the summer ending, many of the people we were teaching left the area, but in the new fall season we have found many that have come out of the woodwork and blown in with the eastern wind.  One such person is a woman that we brought back to the church close to when I first came to the Cape.  Back then she told us, "I have seen many missionaries in the past but you are the first ones I've let in."  I think that is a good example of how the Lord prepares people, but I still do not understand the workings of the Lord.  Near the end of the summer this woman, because of certain circumstances, became the legal guardian of her granddaughter.  This granddaughter upon her first visit to church was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  The Spirit testified to her that this was something that was good.   Since then she has been meeting with us to prepare herself for baptism.  If the story sounds too good to be true it gets better.  She has been inviting friends to church and to activities at church and they have also felt that Spirit of the Lord in both the church services and also in the church activities.  This coming week we have the opportunity to testify to this young woman and her friend, who we have met many times, about God’s marvelous Plan of Happiness for us.  It is for this reason that I still do not understand all the workings of the Lord by our small and simple acts.

     On a slightly different note, my companion and I have had a very interesting experience happen.  We both are now the Branch Young Men's President and Scout Masters.  And here I thought that I was safe from other callings while on my mission.  We have had to do a lot of stuff to fulfill these callings that I never thought I would do on my mission.  This coming weekend my companion and I will be going on our first camping trip as Scout Masters.  The following week we will be taking the youth to the temple as they go to do baptisms for the dead.  I have now discovered how much I have learned about managing from my Mission as we take on this new assignment.
     Well that is all the time I have for today.  I hope that you always take strength in the Lord in all that you do.  Turn to him both in times of trial and also in times of joy.  Make Him a part of all your life.

Elder Erb

Monday, August 11, 2014

We, in unison, testified boldly of the Lord Jesus Christ 2014 08 11

Aug. 11, 2014

Hi there,

     I won't try to summarize everything I missed, but I would like to bring you all up to speed on what has happened recently.  Elder Kerr and I have been busy spreading the Spirit of the Lord all over Cape Cod.  We were teaching many people and preparing them for baptism while they were here for their short summer stay.  We, in unison, testified boldly of the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel that we might bring them to know of the plan the Father has in store for them.  We saw our small Branch grow in the spirit and we became a crucial part of the workings in the Branch even to the point that they were going to give us callings.  But the Lord had a different plan in mind.

     It started with a call from President Packard (our mission President). He said, "Elders it is time for the dream companionship to come to an end.  Elder Kerr, the Lord has called you to be a Zone Leader in the Boston Massachusetts Mission and Elder Erb, the Lord has called you to be a trainer.  We thank you for the work that you have been doing out there on the Cape."  And so the Elder Kerrb team, as the members of the Brewster Branch called us, was put to an end.  Then there were a lot of goodbyes with all of those that we were teaching. The end of all the goodbyes was our own goodbye where we did what all good companionships should do to bond together - make crêpes.

     Enough about Elder Kerr though, my new companion is a very motivated and hardworking missionary fresh out of Utah.  Hopefully, as time goes on I will have some stories to tell you about him but seeing as we have been together for only a couple of weeks there is not much to talk about yet.  He says that as a new missionary, he has been having a lot of firsts.  I try not to think about the fact that all of his firsts are many of my lasts.  It came to my realization how long I had been out when I watched the Elder that trained me go home.  For now, that is all I've got time to write - until next time.

Elder Erb

Saturday, July 5, 2014

"I love the work...."

Dear Friends and Family,

     So I am finally messaging again after a long absence.  We have been so busy lately we haven't had time to even take our full 'P' day.  Although we have not been able to teach B---- very much, we have been able to teach our mini-motorcycle friend and he has made a lot of progress.  He is already telling us how he wants his friend to come down and baptize him when he is ready.  Despite the moves of several of our members out of the branch, our small Branch's chapel is starting to fill up not only with nonmembers but also members that have not been seen for a while.
     In the last three weeks we have been able to be a helping hand of the Lord in bringing back many members into the fold.  I would like to talk about a couple of them.  One is a member that has moved recently from another ward nearby in Rhode Island.  He called us out of nowhere one day and asked us to come over and give him a blessing of healing.  
    Upon arriving the man was so filled with the Spirit that he began telling us how much he has missed the feeling of the Spirit in his life and that he knew he had to come back to church starting the coming Sunday.  He then told us that he needed a blessing so that he could live long enough to be able to make it to the Temple in Boston and re-commit to the covenants he made in the Temple.  
    During our time there, he explained to us that he has never seen the Boston Temple and that he has been away from the church for over 20 years.  Since this initial visit, he has come to church every week, faithfully, with a bright hope and beaming testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.  In addition, he has been sharing his testimony with all those that he comes in contact with and those that live near him and has invited many people to come with him to church.
     Now if this is not a lesson that it is never too late for anyone I don't know what is.  But, in case you are not convinced yet, there is another person I want to tell you about.  This person, like the last, is also a member that has not been to church for a long time.  
    He may not have lived the most Christian life before he was a member, as a member of the biker gang 'The Hell's Angles', but when he found the church and the effect the Spirit had on the missionaries that taught him, he said to himself "There is something here."  
    Well, he joined the church but then got addicted to smoking again and felt that he did not want to be a hypocrite and not do that which he believed.  So, like so many others, he decided that he would stop coming.  Then, much later, we find him and he tells us about himself and his situation.  Basically to the point of saying that he knows it’s true but that he needs to stop smoking.  We talked about it and he came to the conclusion that now is the time for him to stop, go back to church, and get a calling again in the Branch.  
    We had the opportunity to give him a blessing as well to help him take strength from the Lord in his righteous desires.  Now he too has been coming to church faithfully and even sharing that which he knows to the point where he cannot be silenced in his sharing of the gospel with his friends and neighbors and even those that we bring to church such as our mini-motorcycle friend.
     I am running out of time and this message is already pretty long so I will have to hold off on the other recent opportunities we have been able to have.  I love the work though.  And I know that Christ lives.  And with this knowledge it compels me, my companion, and also those I have talked about and many others to share His gospel with the world.

Elder Erb

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 06 10 keeping on keeping on

We wanted to let you know Elder Erb is ok.  His emails are typically now brief to his mother just to let us know he's doing ok.  Thank you for your interest.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 04 14 -- 31 hours of service--and no ticks!


Hello everyone,

     Wow how time flies when you are having fun.  I am not even sure if it has been 7 days since the last email.  The weather over here in our little vacation spot was great this last week.  It was sunny every day which was great because we did lots of service and the weather made it easy for us.  
    We recently had training from one of our leaders on how doing service is very important for finding people to teach.  We just laughed at it.  The reason being, that this last week we did a total of 31 hours of service.  To explain how we pulled that off, I have to explain that another set of Elders joined us this week because the Sister Missionaries needed to borrow their car to go to a meeting. 
    So we decided that we should just double up our area for a week until the other Elder's got their car back.  With all this service in this nice weather we are now ready for the summer time with our well- developed tans.  Only one out of the four of us got sun burned after the multiple service projects - the longest lasting 12 hours.  
    More miraculous than the fact we didn't get fried is the fact that none of us got ticks after all the time we spent raking leaves, cutting branches, and landscaping out in the woods this week.
    Unfortunately all the lessons we had this week cancelled on us so I don't have much more to talk about.  Hopefully next week I will be able to talk about our new investigators after we meet with them on Tuesday.  
    Thank you everyone that remembered my Birthday and I also send my Birthday wishes to all my family members that have had their Birthdays this week and in the week to come.

Elder Erb

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 04 07 Back to Massachussetts

April 7, 2014


     I finally managed to find some time to write.  The work was starting to pick up in Ashford and we were finally able to fill our schedules with appointments instead of tracting.  The entire ward was also beginning to turn their minds to missionary work and what more they could be doing in preparation for the visit from our mission president on the 30th of March.  And then I got transferred on the 26th....
     I guess I get to say that I left Ashford in a good condition.  I am now back in Massachusetts but I guess that our Mission President likes me near the border of the states because he put me about as far south in Massachusetts as possible.  So far so that you can hardly say that we are still connected to Massachusetts.  My new area is the cape of Massachusetts
     For those that don't know what the cape looks like it looks like an arm that is flexing out in the ocean.  We cover everything from the bicep to the fist of that arm.  Out of the 3 other sets of missionaries that are in the nearby area, or district, two of those sets are on the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.  I'm starting to get that beach feel again out here seeing the ocean all the time.
     So a lot has happened in the two weeks of me being here.  As the temperature is starting to get warmer again everyone is starting to migrate to their summer homes here, which means we have got a lot of work to do.  My new companion's name is Elder Kerr.  People say that our Mission President has a sense of humor for putting us two together with our names so similar.  It’s always entertaining to have people call us the wrong name.  We both get along really well together.  Some of the things that we have done together so far are make crêpes for companionship inventory, make a giant bed that takes up our entire room to sleep on, and make a dry erase desk.  We have begun to say that we have so much unity that everyone wants to be in our area, since we have had three exchanges with other missionaries since being here.  It’s either that or the fact that we are serving in a widely known tourist attraction.
     Our main goal right now is to increase the amount of active members in the area.  The reason for this is because we have about 46 members that attend services on Sundays in our little branch.  And 6 of them are out on Nantucket.  So we have been going around and meeting all the members that don't come regularly.  We have had a lot of success and have begun to teach quite a few people this way. 
     As we were doing this we were called by our district leader asking if we could help with a crazy task.  He explained that a member's horse had died that morning and that they needed help burying it.  And so we spent the next 4 hours digging a horse sized hole, pushing a 1,000 lb. horse into a hole, and then burying it.  We were pretty sore after that night.
     I am short on time so I have to go but until next week.

Elder Erb

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2014 04 06 stick to your task till it sticks to you

2014 04 01, Tues  Elder Erb continues w/the work of the Lord. Since his 2/24 email this is his most recent.  Note that he's been transferred.  He's moved from Connecticut back to MA.  If you get a chance, please send him a note.  His birthday is this coming Saturday.
I don't have a lot of time today to email, a lot of stuff has happened that I will explain in the email next week.  Till then I just wanted to let you know that I got transferred and my address has changed.  It is now 355A Main St. Dennis Port, MA 02639.
Elder Erb
2014 03 25, Tues
2014 03 18, Tues
2014 03 11, Tues
2014 03 03, Tues 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I have begun to see missionary work in an entirely new light, 2/24/2014

Feb. 24, 2014

Hello again,

    It has been crazy the last couple of weeks.  We have been hit with snow storm after snow storm.  But finally we are out and about again.  Over the last month or so a lot has changed and happened.  I talked a little about J_____ our promising friend last time I emailed.  He was our friend who we explained we had the perfect lesson with.  We eventually asked him to be baptized on Easter Sunday and he accepted.  That was about three weeks ago, since then he has decided that he does not want anything to do with the church and that everything we believe in is false. 
    I do not bring this up to discourage anyone, but rather to prove a point.  It is a principle that I feel has been stressed greatly in recent by all of the General Authorities.  It is that Satan does not rest.  The only way to combat this influence from him is by our efforts in service to the Lord. 
    I strongly feel that there has been so much of a push towards missionary work, not only for the missionaries, but for the members, because we need the blessings that come from it to fight against the influence of the adversary.  In the last month we have seen many miracles and been led by the hand of the Lord.  But also in this time we have seen people fall away that I never would have thought would have.
     I would give the same advice to prevent against this as we gave to our friend Brother H_____ the other day.  If you want to find truth you have to go to the source of all truth to find it.  Brother H_____ is one of our investigators that I may have talked about in the past.  But that was a long time ago, so I will tell you about him again. 
    He is the husband of a member that has met with the missionaries for a long time.  When we started meeting with Brother Hunt he did not know if there was a God.  He said that there could be a God, but he just didn't know.  He now knows that he has seen influence of a divine being in his life, and because of this he knows there is a God.  The things that led him to this conclusion are things that will lead everyone to the same conclusion.  Prayer, scripture study, and church attendance although it seems so simple, it is the hardest thing in the world to get someone to do.  But that is what is required for a person to build a testimony.
     I have begun to see missionary work in an entirely new light because of recent events.  Before I used to see it as something that has brought me happiness and I wanted to share with the others to bring them happiness.  Although this is still true, I now realize it is more than that. 
    These people that don't have the Gospel are vulnerable to Satan's influence.  They need the promises and blessing that the Gospel has to offer if they are to have a chance to resist the evil influences of the modern day world.  These people need divine help if they plan to remain pure and clean.

Elder Erb

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"nothing short of a miracle" 2013 12 09

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

"How is it that you believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet?" 2014 01 25

Jan. 20, 2014

Hi again,

     I am going to apologize now and say that not a lot has happened this past week.  You can say that we have been at the mercy of the fellow members of our ward this past week because we only have 150 miles left for this month.  Luckily however we have learned how much we can rely on the members of this ward to help us out when we are in a pinch.  I was surprised to see how many members were willing to help us in our time of need over the past week.  Although, for the most part, most of the lessons we had planned fell through, I know that the members that helped us will still be blessed for the time and gas they used to help the Lord's missionaries.

    I don't want to make the week sound like a total waste; however, we were able to meet with all of our investigators that vanished during the Holiday season.  Many of which have now come to realize more fully the need of the gospel in their lives now that they have felt that spirit, and had it leave them.  It is always amazing to me how quickly the knowledge of the gospel will depart from a person if it is not constantly nourished by prayer, scripture study, and church attendance.  It is proof to me of the quote by Elder Eyring stating: "Great faith has a short shelf life."

    Before I end, I want to tell you about a new investigator that we picked up this week.  His name is J, and he was a name given to us by the system.  We set up a time to meet with him at the church so that we could answer his questions about the church. 

    We arrived, showed him around the church, and talked about the chapel and the sacrament and some of the pictures hanging on the walls in the hallways.  We sat down for the lesson on the couches in the foyer and he asked his question.  He said very sincerely and humbly "How is it that you believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet?" 

    I have been asked this question before.  We explained to him the restoration.  We talked about truth and how we find truth in this life and what is required of us to receive answers from Heavenly Father. 

    He then asked us how to find truth, and we gave him the Book of Mormon and told him to read it and to pray.  The spirit was there as me, my companion, and a member from the ward sat there explaining the message of the restoration straight from our testimonies. 

    As I said, we have been asked this question before, but I have not had it asked to me in this way.  When he asked it was as if he had begun to have the desire that it was already true.  He explained to us how he wanted to hear the rest of what we have to tell him and that he feels the Lord has been guiding him through his life to this church with his questions and his thirst for truth and understanding.  I would like to end this email by saying that miracles do not cease.

Elder Erb

Monday, January 13, 2014

Strengthening others to follow the Savior, January 13, 2014

Jan. 13, 2013

Hello again,
So it’s a brand new year with a new companion.  The reason I did not email last week is because nothing really new happened.  Right after my last email, we got a message from our Mission President telling us all to return home and prepare for a huge storm that was coming.  This ended up throwing off the schedule for all the missionaries to get their new companions. 
As a result, I got to spend some more time with my beloved companion, Elder Graff, as we were trapped in the house for the next three days.  We started the fun by cleaning out the bathtub so that we had some fresh water in case all the pipes froze in the storm.  Although I think we did an awesome job cleaning it, I am glad that we never had to use that water.  It is weird having that much time to do nothing.  It did not take very long before Elder Graff and I got bored out of our minds. 
When you go from doing so much all the time with not enough sleep to doing nothing all the time with too much sleep it really throws you for a loop.  We were glad to get back to work after it ended and gained a new appreciation for doing the work of the Lord.  I have learned that it is not the number of hours you sleep that gives you energy to do the work, but it is God that gives you the energy to do His work.
I am happy to say though that I do have my new companion now and he is great.  His name is Elder Calvert and he used to play for BYU's basketball team.  He has been out for under a year and is learning the area pretty quickly which is kind of scary because if he learns it too quickly there might not be any more use for me here and I might get transferred out. 
We are both glad that the holidays are finally over because now we can meet with all our people again.  As missionaries, we find that during the holiday season no one wants to meet with the missionaries because everyone is either out of town or spending time with their families.  Most people just tell us to come back in January.  Now that it is January though hopefully we will be able to have a ton of new opportunities to share the gospel.
So I do happen to have one story from this week about a member we went to visit that has had some struggles coming back to church after her long absence.  She told us that she did not feel worthy coming to church because she was breaking the Word of Wisdom.  She said that she knows now that she needs to be following them but that she does not feel right going to church while she is still sinning. 
These are the things that we said to her:  We told her that church is not for the perfect, that just as Christ came into this world to save the sinners from their sins, so, too, is church a place for the imperfect to come to purify themselves.  We told her that if only perfect people went to church you would find all our church buildings empty.  We then explained to her that church is for those that realize they are not perfect but are doing what it takes to make themselves better.  The reason that I share this story is because not always do the people we teach humble themselves to the words we say.  But this member did and because she did she received the words which we spoke into her heart and it changed her.  Even to the point where her fears of coming to church vanished and they were replaced with faith.
I am sorry to say this but I don't have any more cool stories from this week.  I am not sure if it is because nothing out of the ordinary happened this week, or if it is just because I am so used to all the crazy things now that it has all of a sudden become normal.  But I thank you all for the examples you set and the name which you bear.  And I hope that you do not forget the name you bear but that you wear it proudly and righteously.

Elder Erb