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Hell Michigan & a Baptism

July 16, 2012


Missionary Erik Book of Mormon in Hell

Erik Preaching in Hell, Michigan.

So last Wednesday I spent a day with another missionary in Chelsea. When we met the next day to switch back to our normal companions, we met in Hell! Yup, Hell Michigan. I’ll attach the pictures.

Saturday went really well with the baptism and everything. We had a lot of non-members show up as well because there was a Child of Record baptism that day as well which was cool. I felt kind of like we were stealing an easy baptism because the girl we baptized was only 9, but the spirit at the service was awesome. There is a spirit at convert baptisms that just isn’t at Child of Record ones. After the confirmation on Sunday, there was just a different attitude all around in the ward. Everyone just seemed really happy and we had 3 members give us new referrals right after sacrament meeting. It was really cool. Hopefully this baptism will help spark the ward and lead them to even greater missionary work.

Erik Bigfoot Sighting in Hell

There’s a Bigfoot loose in Hell…Michigan!

Other than that things have been pretty much same old same old. Michigan is in a REALLY BAD drought this year. It looks like Nevada out here just with more humidity. Our emergency preparedness guy in the ward told us that all of the farming is really bad. The farmers are already calling the corn and apple crop a complete failure this year. The only thing doing ok are blueberries. But Michigan is a HUGE corn supplier for the nation and the corn sucks this year. It grew way to fast and had to little of water. I’ve seen some of the corn they are already harvesting and it is really small. Only about half as big as it was last year. It’s pretty crazy.

Last night we got invited by a member to go to the beach of a local lake. We couldn’t swim or go on the boat or anything but we had some awesome food. They cooked these BBQ ribs that were amazing! The Howell ward has some pretty awesome cooks in it and they feed the missionaries pretty dang well. Another member is having their mom come up from Mexico and stay with them for a little while and they told us she’s an amazing mexican cook so we’re definitely going over there for a dinner.

Well, I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying summer. I can’t believe I’ve been out a year and I can’t believe I’ve already been in Howell for almost 5 months. It’s crazy!



4th of July in Howell

So the 4th of July was pretty insane! It’s weird hearing firework explosions without any mountains around. The mountains make them echo and sound really deep. In Michigan it just sounds like you’re in a war-zone! We went down to Thompson Lake where a Member’s family lives and hung out with them and their son’s family and two non-members. We just sat on the shore and roasted hot-dogs and smores while all the boats on the lake launched off fireworks. It was really cool because only the rich and retired people own homes on the lake so they all bought the really expensive fireworks. There was one house that kept shooting this one that was like an artillery shell!. It would shoot really high and then explode with just a “bang!” that felt like you were getting punched in the stomach. It was pretty cool. We’ve had SOOOO many members offer to take us out on their boat’s lately it’s crazy! It’s been really tempting too but water sports are outlawed in the missionary handbook so we can’t… they all say to come back and visit and we’ll go out on the lake then but we will see.

We have a baptism that we’re 99% sure will happen this week for our nine year old investigator. It almost feels like cheating for a convert baptism because she’s so young but rules are rules I guess. Hopefully it will help spark the ward and lead to more convert baptisms in the future. We have a couple really hopeful investigators that are really close but just won’t live that one last commandment. That’s been the story of my mission though so I guess I’ll keep trying to find a solution. We have been getting more and more support from the ward council and Bishop lately. I’ve made it my goal to show the ward council that Elder Mayfield and I are competent missionaries that know what we are doing. So I’ve been giving highly overly detailed progress records and copies of investigator teaching records (both of which have received comments from other missionaries that they’ve never filled progress reports out so fully). We’ve also showed them that we actually care about things in the ward by being involved in ward council discussions. I’ve had companions in the past (I won’t name names) that fall asleep in ward council and Sacrament meeting and I know that doesn’t help. For district meeting 2 weeks ago I lead a 30 minute discussion on how, as missionaries, we can’t afford to look bad at church by falling asleep at church or not being involved in classes or ward council. If we expect our investigators to come to church and have a spiritual experience, then WE need to come to church expecting to have spiritual experiences instead of looking at church as a 3 hour break for the week. I’ll probably never attend church the same way again after my mission.

The other big news this week is that Elder Mayfield’s family is moving to Wyoming and he is not happy. :(   Apparently Texans are very proud of being from Texas. Who would’ve known?



Service Projects in 102 degrees, 90% humidity‏

Erik all sweaty from moving

Erik covered in sweat after a service project.

This week was crazy busy for us. We had 3 people call us with service opportunities and we took them all. On Wednesday we helped a memberfamily take their last load of stuff from their old house to there new house. He had a TON of wood that we needed to haul and it was really heavy
because it was all Oak and American Cherry. He had a portable mill come and
cut those trees down and turn them into boards for $600. We asked him how
much the wood would be worth if he sold it, and he said it’s about $10,000

On Friday we had another move with a family that I have been trying to get
a lesson with for a long time. They were moving everything out of 3 storage
units and hauling it to there new house. They had some WAY heavy stuff too.
The father had this cool way to move his fridge too that I helped him with.
It’s called the ‘forearm forklift.’ Basically it’s two orange straps (made
of the same material as the straps we use on the Jeep top) that have loops
on both ends. You put the straps under the fridge then put your arms
through the loop and brace your hands against the fridge. Then all you do
is stand up and extend your arms straight and the fridge goes up fairly
easily. It’s a pretty cool system because you can move almost anything with
just two people. The only downside – blood blisters. I took a picture of
how beat my ams were after we moved it so I’ll attach it to the email. It
doesn’t hurt at all, just looks cool haha. I’ll also attach the picture of
how sweaty I was after the move. That’s not water, that’s sweat.
In just the month of June alone, I have helped 5 families move. Luckily
though the two families we moved this past week are staying in the
ward boundaries so our ward won’t shrink at all.

We’re not having a ton of luck with our investigators right now. Everyone
is sill kind of at a stand still except for the 9 year old girl we’re
teaching. She’ll be getting baptized on July 14 so everyone in the ward is
pretty excited. The Bishop and Stake President got together this week and
redid the ward mission plan and it looks like it will be a lot better now.
In Elders Quorum yesterday, the president went over the new mission plan
with the group and we came up with some good ideas in how to implement it
and hopefully get some new converts and some less active members back to

Well I gotta bail but I’ll try and write a letter to you guys this
afternoon too. Hope everyone is having an awesome week and fun summer!



Balloon Fest June 25th, 2012

Erik At Howell Ballon Festival

Erik At Howell Balloon Festival 2012

So probably the biggest event that went on this week was Balloon fest. I only took a few pictures of it because I didn’t want to look like a tourist, but I’ll be sure and send them home. There were TONS of people at this thing. Like if you took all the people that attend Strawberry days events and made them all go on the same day, that’s how many people were at balloon fest. Main street was empty and lots of stores actually closed because nobody was shopping, they were all at the high school.

Parking was insane. Luckily because we’re missionaries we were able to park at our church which was only a few blocks away from the high school. We had talked to a member of the ward who was on the committee that put together balloon fest about what we could and couldn’t do as missionaries there. He told us we weren’t allowed to just hand out cards, but we could walk the festival grounds and if people talked to us we could share the gospel or whatever we wanted with them. We ended up seeing a lot of members there and they introduced us to their friends. We also had a lot of people approach us from different wards. It was cool because EVERYONE was watching us. I think it was a pretty awesome publicity move and hopefully it makes people more open to listening to the missionaries when we knock on their door. We also ended up opening the church parking lot for public parking. We had a lot of people park there because we were the only parking lot out of all the churches schools and fields that didn’t charge for parking. But we did leave pass along cards on windshields and passed out pamphlets and stuff at the front of the church.

Other than that, our week was pretty much business as usual. The weather here has been absolutely horrible. Upper 90s with 90% humidity almost all last week. I’ve just gotten used to being sweaty and sticky all the time. This week I’m kind of missing Utah –the weather sucks, there’s no mountains, skiing would be  a joke because the tallest “hill” they have is shorter than the bunny hill at Brighton, the roads are horrible–which is ironic since Michigan is the auto capital of the world, and the crime rate is ridiculous. I do like the Michigan community programs and the festivals are really well done and there are a ton of them.

Other fun news this week, it turns out that GM put out a recall on the 2012 Chevy Cruze we drive so now we have to get that taken care of. I had to call the dealer and find out what was wrong. Nothing major, they’re just replacing a shield at the bottom of the engine that will make it so when we change the oil, it won’t get all over the car. But on top of that, our front brakes are making a weird squeaking noise that sounds like we’re running over a puppy whenever we stop. The car only has 5000 miles on it!! But I guess I shouldn’t expect anything more out of a GM car –haha. But in all reality I like the Cruze a lot. It has been my favorite of the mission cars by far.

We’ve been having more and more help from members in the ward recently. Elder Mayfield and I set a goal to have a member with us at every investigator lesson we have. It has been paying off so far. Our investigators are getting good fellowship with people in the ward and the members in turn are feeling more involved in the work. Last Sunday we had maybe 10 people ask us about the progress of different investigators.

Well I hope everyone is doing well and having an awesome summer. Thanks for all your letters and everything! I’m trying to write everyone back ASAP.

Love, Erik



My Companion from Texas 6/18/2012 Letter

So this week was good all around. The great news is that all of our numbers are back up now that I’m back in Howell 24/7. And as a district we had the highest numbers I’ve seen since I became the District leader. It was a pretty sweet. They took the two sisters out of the district and we got 2 awesome Elders in their place. In one week they almost doubled the best week the sisters had last transfer. It was really cool.

This week we put an instigator on baptismal date for June 30. She’ll most likely make it. She was just a Child of Record that didn’t get baptized when she turned 8 last year and now that she’s 9, she’s considered a convert and we’re teaching her. We have the primary president involved too to help us teach everything. Preach My Gospel is more focused towards adults, so we’re deciding just how much she needs to know about things like the law of chastity and word of wisdom. But it will be nice for Howell to get a baptism and maybe that will spark something in the ward.

Other than that, not a whole lot has changed. We have one investigator still all ready for baptism. All he has to do is get married to his girlfriend or one of them has to move out. They already call each other husband and wife so I don’t know why they just don’t go down to the courthouse and sign the paper! We’re bringing more and more members to his lessons and the ward is going to assign him home teachers soon. Other than that, he comes every week and we don’t have to worry about anyone fellow shipping him or anything because everyone already loves him.

We’ve had some high temperature and high humidity days out here lately. It’s not as bad as it was in Illinois, but it still gets pretty bad. I try and avoid tracting in the sun and heat if it’s possible.

Well other than that, not to many new things are happening around here. Hope you guys are doing well and I’ll talk to you next week!

The Brighton-Howell MIssions Combine 6/11/2012

Hey family! I hope everyone’s doing well! Congrats again on the Marathon! That’s pretty amazing to win it let alone finish it!

This week ended up turning out great despite the added complications of covering 2 areas. We ended up teaching 12 lessons in each area for a combined total of 24 which was pretty amazing. Plus we had 3 people attend Brighton’s sacrament meeting and an investigator attended Howell’s again.  The Stake President came to our sacrament meeting too and gave a really good talk on missionary work. He met with the Bishop earlier this week and they reorganized the Ward Mission plan and came up with good ideas. I had another good talk with the Bishop about how to build this ward’s faith and confidence. He told me that the problem with Howell is that most members are very content with where they’re at as a ward —–which is exactly what Elder Wenzel and Adair told me too. The Bishop said that when Howell and Brighton split, the Howell ward was basically categorized by 3 main families and those families have always been kind of the ‘popular’ group of the ward.

We had a great Ward Council meeting too and I really tried to uplift the rest of the ward council to set an example. What’s really cool is right in the middle of Ward Council, the Primary President gave me a good referral! I know if we can just get 1 baptism it would be the spark that makes the ward explode!

As for me, I’m doing well. It was a really difficult week for me especially at the beginning. I’ve watched so many missionaries that I’ve served around and become friends with, go home this transfer and my last companion was a breaking point for me. I really felt like he was starting to do better but I guess I was dead wrong. I had a good heartfelt prayer to the Lord a few nights after he left. I think it was the first time I ever really had to pray to the Lord for comfort. This transfer has been a lot of stress for me with the added responsibility of being District Leader, planning all the lessons, running all of companion study, weekly planning and starting all the lessons, and on top of that watching good friends go home.

Plus I’ve had the Zone Leaders and Bishop on my back because of how low our numbers have been. It was tough because I wasn’t allowed to explain to them what was going on so they all just thought I was a bad missionary —haha. (But everyone’s up to date now and the Bishop wrote me a big long apology letter)  I had to tell the Lord that I can’t go it anymore; I’ve done all I can on my own and I need him to make up the difference. Being in the Brighton mission, I immediately found out how much the current Elders were going to try and rely on me for my experience.

I finally had a companion study with them and I told them that they have to lead this area. I just couldn’t do it all anymore.

After that prayer and heart to heart with the Elders, I had a much better week. This past weekend was awesome and probably one of the best weekends of my mission.

So I figured this week that If I’m going to make this ward explode, I better not challenge the members to do anything that I wouldn’t ask my own family to do! So you just got roped into to Elder Rushton’s mission; Congratulations!!!

So here’s my commitment, share the Gospel with someone by the end of June. Whether it’s handing out a BOM, or inviting someone to check out, just do it! The Ann Arbor Stake President gave a really good story about how he didn’t know anyone he could share the gospel with, but then he invited the cashier at a gas station to hear the lessons and she accepted and now she’s on baptism date for July! So I’m not even going to ask you to do it; I just expect it from the most awesome family in the world. So help my missionary work!

Another talk in sacrament yesterday was on repentance and how missionary work is a step of repentance. Missionary work ‘hides a multitude of sins.’ Go figure. So I’ll check up with you next week ;)

Well I’m running out of time because of the looooong letter I had to write President Holmes. Last Monday when we were at the mission home, Sis. Holmes asked me how I was doing and I told her I never want to see their house again– haha.   (I’ve been there too much with Elders going home)  I said ‘when I go home, just take me from my apartment to the plane!’ All that house has is bad memories!—HA HA!

Well I hope you all have an awesome week! I’ll try and write you another letter this week.



6/4/2012 Time to Re-Build Howell

This week was a pretty awesome week for us! We had Zone Conference on Thursday which was a really good spiritual boost that I needed, and also a good reminder for things I need to do better. Plus it’s always fun to hang out with my missionary friends I haven’t seen in awhile!

The best miracle we had this week happened on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday morning we got a call from someone who is in the singles ward. She told us she had a friend in Howell that she talks to alot and they got on the topic of Mormons. She wanted to give him a Book of Mormon, but didn’t have any spares so she called us. We got in contact with him and just briefly talked about the Book of Mormon on his porch. We set up an appointment for Tuesday and gave him a chapter to read before then. We showed up for church Sunday morning and he was there waiting outside for us! We didn’t tell him about church, invite him to church or even leave him the address and he still showed up! It was easily the fastest I’ve ever had an investigator come to church after we meet them. It was definitely a reminder to me that we need to invite EVERYONE to church and not just the ones who have been investigating for awhile.

Other than that our week had a lot of ups and downs. We had 4 people really committed to church and we called them all on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to remind them. I really thought that this was finally the week we were going to be able to get a lot of people out to church. I got in contact with 2 of the 4 on 8:00AM Sunday morning and they both said they were going to come. And then they didn’t… go figure.

We had a good meeting with the Bishop last night. He had a meeting with the Stake President and they discussed the ward mission plan and what they can do to build the ward. The Bishop relayed that information to us and we had a good talk about what we all need to do to help the ward grow. We all agreed that the Howell members in general have become lazy as of late and the Bishop thinks that it’s because the ward has suffered a lot of disappointment in missionary work. In the past year and a half Howell has had 3 baptisms. And the last baptism turned out horribly. The girl was baptized on Saturday, confirmed on Sunday, and by Wednesday was completely anti-Mormon and threatened her husband with divorce if he ever went to sacrament meeting. So yeah, fun stuff.

At the beginning of this transfer I really stressed working with members to the district. It took about 4 weeks of serious member missionary work in Howell, but it is finally starting to pay off. We have gotten about 4 referrals specifically from members in the ward and 3 of them turned into solid investigators. The Bishopric has done really well lately by setting an example to the rest of the ward. The Bishop gave us 2 referrals and the first counselor invited us over to his house to teach his neighbor.

My companion has been making a TON of progress in the past week. I’ve had him be the one to start leading the lessons and that has been helping him a lot I think. Also, we have been planning the best we ever have been this transfer, and we’re having a lot more fun together. It’s always fun when your hard work starts paying off.

Things are going well in Howell. I really hope I get to stay another transfer ;)

-Elder Rushton



Memorial Weekend -email from 05-29-2012

Hey Family!

Last week was a low numbers week for us because of all the traveling we had to do. We still had a pretty decent week though despite all the time we lost.

Our best investigator has a baptismal date, but he was gone for the weekend so he wasn’t able to come to church.
Some of the things we teach the investigators take a little time to be acted upon, but when they finally decided to give it a try they are amazed at the difference they feel.

He has an awesome testimony of the Book of Mormon, Sacrament Meeting and all the other commandments we have taught him.

I left him a talk to read.  The talk I left his is “Why All the Rules?” by Elder Richard L. Evans from the 1971 General Conference. It is a really great talk that I have left with investigators and less actives before.

As for me, I’m doing better this week. I’m not as stressed out as a I was last week and I think part of that came from just assigning my companion to do some specific tasks instead of trying to do it all on my own.

Not too much else has been going on. We have a few really hopeful
investigators that are really close to baptism. I miss you guys! Have an awesome week!


Work, Work, Work! 5/21/2012

This week was an ok week for us. Our numbers were lower but we had some great things happen. We had an investigator family come to church which was great! The wife is a long time inactive and her husband and daughter are non-members. They got married about 3 weeks ago and are really making progress! The husband is on baptism date for June 9 and I really hope he makes it. They had a great time and were really fellow-shipped well by the ward. We hopefully will have 3 baptisms in June so keep your fingers crossed.

We’ve been doing some great work with the members in our ward. We have gotten a lot more referrals lately and there are a few members really working to find people for us to teach. The bishopric really took the initiative and started inviting people. We have 4 new investigators just off the bishop and first counselor. Then in priesthood meeting, the bishop called everyone out and said we need to start working harder as a ward. It was sweet! We are also working with the Bishopric to help increase the wards home-teaching numbers too which should help.

I’ve been really stressed out this past week. Like I told you earlier, I feel like I’m doing pretty much everything. Most of the planning, most of the teaching, all the phone calls, and plus all of my district leader responsibilities (planning district meeting, reporting numbers, helping 4 other missionaries etc). Let’s hope the next week will be better. Thanks for your prayers!

Other than that, everything is going well. I have really good relationships with the ward now and I have a couple members that I love and they love me. One family in particular likes me a lot and always wants to have us over. The only problem is that they’re clear on the edge of our area! But I’ve really loved most of the ward so far. Now we just need to get them teaching with us and finding people for us.

Well, I hope everyone at home is doing great. Thanks for the letters and pictures and everything. Love you guys and I’ll talk to you next week!


Good Old Howell

(Erik got to call Mom on Mother’s Day!  It was great to hear his voice!  Several of the mission companions Erik has known or served with have recently returned home early for a variety of  reasons.  Erik said he is feeling really good himself, it’s just hard when these kinds of things happen.  He is getting used to filling out all the reports and making the phone calls he needs to as District Leader. He also mentioned that he getting to know more members of the ward in Howell and that has made it easier to get referrals from members. We told him to keep up the good work and we will pray for him and his mission !)

Letter from 5/24/2012

It was good to talk to everyone yesterday! But like I said, it doesn’t feel like it’s been 5 months since I called home on Christmas. 

It was a pretty stressful week for me with all the missionary drama going on.  It’s tough to watch missionaries that I consider really good friends go home.  But even with all the stuff going on, we were still able to have a pretty good week.

We have one really solid investigator on date for the 26th of May. He already counts himself as a member of the ward and everyone in the ward loves him too. He got a little discouraged about a week ago because he went to a Christian community service center and they tried to talk him out of being baptized. He’s really excited to be baptized and has been telling everyone he knows to come to his baptismal service. But when he told that Christian center he was going to be baptized, they tried really hard to talk him out of it. But he is doing much better now and was really happy that he came to church yesterday.

 Last week we had some pretty crazy rain storms. There was one thunderstorm that came through that dropped 6 inches of water in 30 minutes. It was crazy! We were driving home and I had to pull over because I couldn’t see anything because that rain was so thick. Plus it was dark which didn’t help. When we finally got home our whole parking lot was pretty flooded. Then a couple days ago we had a storm come through that had a tornado watch on it. Howell wasn’t in any real danger though. 

Well I don’t know if I have much more to write about. I think I pretty much told you guys everything on the phone yesterday. Hopefully I can do something to help the mission keep the missionaries here in the field! 

Well, hope everyone is doing well. It was good to get to talk to everyone yesterday. Love you guys!