Monday, January 25, 2016

"Pope for go"

Hello all!

A little background on my area: I am in the Colonial Heights/ Mt Tabor area in the Portland Zone. It is in he southernmost tip of the mission. This area is known to have some...interesting things to write in your journal everyday. There is a motto in this city - "Keep Portland weird" -and that is definitely the case. For example, we met this man and started talking to him about prophets. Then he was like "Oh yeah! I'm one! I'm actually the pope! Yannow, the one in Italy is just the Pope for Show, but I am...I am the Pope for Go!" Haha! Also in sacrament meeting, someone played a harmonica solo for a special musical number. In Colonial Heights, there is a huge number of less actives, around 500 people. Both wards have about 50-100 people at sacrament meeting and I got to help bless and pass the sacrament in both meetings. Also, the Colonial Heights building was built in the 1920s and it is SO COOL.

Oh and the "we" in that story is me and my new companion, Elder Clarke! He's been out for eighteen months and according to every single person I've talked to, he's the best guy on the mission- And that is true! He's really obedient and knows his way around. Everybody loves him and he talks with power too.

We live in a small cottage apartment in the center of Portland.  Please don't send mail to me here, send it to the mission office and they forward it to all of us.

Elder Eric P. Sims

Washington, Vancouver Mission
2223 NW 99th Street
Vancouver WA 98665

I've gained some weight.  I’ve had to loosen my belt. I've done sort of an "eat whatever is in front of you because everything else is new and food is comfort" type of thing, on top of no exercise. So I am changing that this week. I bought some turkey, bread, string cheese, lettuce, carrots and cottage cheese and almond milk so I should be doing better. I've eaten at two members homes and he first night we had soup in a bread bowl and the next night was homemade cheeseburgers. The members are REALLY nice and take very good care of us. 

Elder Clarke and I are doubled into this area, which means that we were both transferred into it. So we have just spent the last couple of days going through the area book and trying to visit everyone. I've got some practice knocking on some doors and teaching some discussions but for the most part, we've just been in the car driving to different homes.

I got a haircut today and it looks pretty nice. GreatClips asked for my number and then they asked if my address is still 95-1144... And I was like ouch. :) I haven't been homesick this week, but it definitely has been hard. I am still getting used to the schedule and I am really tired all the time. But the AP's said If you are tired, it means you are doing something right. If you are weary, then you need help.

The trip from the MTC was fast. We woke up at three in the morning and went on the train to the airport. Then we flew to Portland where we met the presidency and AP's. I love President Anderson (1st counselor to President Taylor). I got to meet Sister Taylor at dinner time. [Mom edit:  President Taylor was in the hospital after having surgery after his heart attack. He is recovering well at the mission home and plans to continue his mission!]

These iPads are SO GREAT. There is an area book app where it has all of the information and planners for us. It is really nice compared to trying to read someone's handwriting on a traditional area book. Also, I am able to listen to any general conference talk I want to in the Gospel Library app. After every lunch break we have, I turn on a talk.

We also email on our iPads. I can't read your emails during the week, but I have all P-day (10 AM to 6PM) to write you guys. But I can't "chit chat" either, like send short emails back and forth.

I am doing great. I know that there is no better thing I could be doing right now. The first week on the field has felt like an eternity and it's been hard to transition from easily cruising at the MTC. It's funny, I thought the MTC was hard haha. Every night when I crawl to my bed, I thank my Heavenly Father so much for giving me the strength to get through another day. I feel your prayers and I know I am being strengthened through Christ and his atonement. I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth again and the only way to find out if it is true is following Moroni 10:3-5. Read the Book of Mormon, and ask with real intent, willing to act upon the answer you get. Love you all. 

- Elder Sims

Eric and his companion

Eric in his ward building

Eric's apartment is part of this home

This is the general area Eric is serving in currently

Thursday, January 14, 2016

WEEK ONE (plus one day!)

Like I said before, our Preparation day was on a Thursday and they didn't give it to us last week because we were brand new. So I AM SO HAPPY TO WRITE HOME NOW. <3

The first few days of the MTC felt like years. But they were so much fun! I have learned so much and I am super excited to be in the field in FIVE DAYS. I am grateful for the experiences I have had here because they have all caused me to humble myself before the Lord and grow. 

Helpful tip to future missionaries: Please obey the rules and schedule as much as possible, they are inspired and put there for a reason and I promise you that you will be blessed. 

The food here is great! I have tried to stay reasonably healthy and it is paying off! I haven't gained any weight yet. (Desperately knocks on wood) 

THANK YOU SO MUCH for the dearElders and packages. All of them have given me MUCH comfort and support. I have so much food in my dorm, including a 2lb bag of sweedish fish and Ritz crackers. Those wil always remind me of the MTC now haha! MOM THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE MINTS. I needed some badly because gum is not allowed. Grandma, I got your package yesterday and have already eaten like half of the loaf. hehe 

Gym time is so much fun. I have played a lot of basketball and I have been doing REALLY GOOD at it. Thanks dad for all of those times when we shot hoops on teaching me how to play. (BTW I am trying to type really fast on a crappy keyboard so forgive grammar and spelling.) 

My district is great! We have all really bonded and I feel like all of the sisters are like big sisters to me. The Elders and I have all REALLY bonded and we all are like big bros. My companion, Elder Wilde is great at giving me support at the low times and he always has the funniest things to say. 

Devotionals are SO COOL. And on Tuesday, ELDER ANDERSON FROM THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE CAME. He was so cool and he simply talked about the Gospel. Sometimes the simple things are the most important! On Sunday we had a Preisthood Devotional with Elder Neilson, a seventy over missionaries for something and he gave a REALLY good talk on revelation. LOTS OF GOOD NOTES. Speaking of notes: Try taking notes on sketchbook paper! It is so cool so see where your mind takes you if you draw or write whatever and wherever the spirit wants you to!

One of the most important things you'll learn at the MTC is how much you don't know. You learn to rely heavily on the Spirit and to prepare lessons. My teachers have been great at allowing ourselves to learn by the spirit.

Our TRC (investigator) visits did not go well. He argued a lot with us and Elder Wilde and I got super lost. We didn't get to teach much. I started to get a lot of feelings of inadequacy and was putting myself down, then I realized that sometimes this will happen. So far, I have only "role played" or seen only perfect examples, and sometimes, people are not ready. Also, Elder Wilde and I could've done a little better job at preparing but it was our first investigator ever and we are brand new. And I have learned a lot.

I KNOW my Savior lives. I know that he provided us with a way to get back to our Heavenly Father through His sacrifice. I know that hard work pays off. I know there is little comfort in the growth zone, but little growth in the comfort zone. I love you all so much and I would love to get letters from you all. I am leaving the MTC on Tuesday morning at 3:30 AM to go to Vancouver so the next time I write you will probably not be until next next Monday. Love ya'll!

Elder Sims

Friday, January 8, 2016

Quick Update


The first five minutes were a huge rush and all crazy but everyone was very nice and pointed me in the right direction. My companion is Elder W. and he is great! He also loves computer science and he has a couple of apps on the app store. There are two other Elders in my district Elder P. and Elder J. I have been assigned to be the District Leader which is awesome and I get to pick what our opening song is every class :)  Another one of the assignments of the district leader is to pick up the mail and deliver it. Since I got assigned yesterday, I have only picked up the mail today, but I am not allowed to open my mail or pass it out to anyone until tonight. So I feel really bad because everyone in my district knows I have it and they are really desperate to hear from home. :)

These first few days have felt like a few weeks. I am not homesick at all!! I love the experience of living on my own and taking care of myself. The food is great and I have been able to resist the temptation of eating donuts and cookies with every meal. I always try to incorporate as many vegetables as possible. Oh by the way, DO NOT DRINK THE ORANGE JUICE.

I have met a lot of people from Hawaii here so that's nice!

On our first full day, our teacher didn't show up, so we kind of had to teach ourselves. It was SO AMAZING. We knew we had to study the Book of Mormon as a district so we dissected a chapter for a whole hour. The spirit was SO STRONG and our district really grew together. 

I love how much the Spirit has testified to me of Jesus Christ. I love the strength and love of my district. I have realized the power of prayer and know Heavenly Father listens and answers us.  I have to go now, this is only a little update. My Preparation Day is on Thursday of next week and they didn't give it to us this week because we are new.