A Bonus Letter from Erik:

Because last Friday was New Year’s Day, and today is his Prep day (day off) he is able to write another letter for the blog. Enjoy! I love this one especially.  ~ Erik’s mom

Eating Taiwanese food made by a member of the church from Taiwan/

This Sunday, the five investigators at church came from Vietnam, Bolivia, Nigeria, Iran and China and as I sat amidst them, I was overcome with an overwhelming gratitude for my mission. Not just for the fact that I am serving a mission, but for my specific mission, the Sweden Stockholm mission where I have this wonderful opportunity to teach, serve and befriend people from literally everywhere. It is quite a unique mission in that sense. I am just so thankful past any description of emotion yet created in the English or Swedish language, for this eye opening, heart opening, life changing experience. I’ve met the most sincerely kindest people from the furthermost edges of Asia, to the heart of Africa, to the southern tip of South America. I have someone from nearly every single continent as a close friend.

I want to dedicate the rest of my life seeing this world and meeting it’s lovely people. Humans are good. They genuinely are good. We can get hung up on the 5% who are evil, or the 25% that foolishly follow that 5%, or we can put that all aside and just appreciate the sheer light in the world. Why is it that humans are naturally good? It can’t simply come from nurturing and cultural expectation alone, because someone had to start being good in the first place to teach goodness to others. It has to be a transfusion of nurturing with our nature. Many people call it different things but I call it the light of Christ. I firmly believe that all of us has a fraction of Christ inside of us, an internal piece of his love and kindness that, when we allow our subconscious to be unhindered, gives us daily impressions to do good, to have charity, to have compassion, to serve others!  Sometimes, we fill our minds with trash that can cover up the portal of our inner light of Christ, but when we keep ourselves free from garbage, we have the potential to be disciples of Christ, in the sense of following his example of love, every single day.

We change the messages weekly.
This is not a gift that is limited to any race, or social class or religion. You can be muslim, jewish, buddhist, christian, hindu, toaist, atheist, or any other belief under the beautiful moon, and have this inner desire to be like our Saviour, Jesus Christ, regardless of belief in him. The most sincerely selfless and giving collective group of people it has been my pleasure to fall in love with would have to be Persians. They will give you everything. Of course this is a stereotype, for there are plenty of ungenerous Persians, just as there might be  violent Buddhists and alcoholic mormons. But, as a generalization, these people are just good to the core.

It will be different when I have to return to predominately white America. Americans are wonderful, when they aren’t too loud, but cultural diversity is a fuel for your mind. When you are around too much of just one culture you are stagnant. When you learn and participate in many diverse cultures, you expand. We should not be all just one culture our entire lives; one viewpoint as it is like looking at the world through a key hole. We need to learn and absorb the gold from every culture. By doing this, our sight improves and eventually we can have a 360 degree view of the world.

Sick day. 
Yes, there are flaws to every culture and every person but there also is something beautiful about every culture and nearly every person and something we can gain from them when we leave our hobbit holes and associate with the strange outside world. I can acquire the Swedish open mindedness and civil respect for others, the Persian generosity, the Syrian hospitality, the Ghanan unfailing optimism, the Jainist ahisma to improve my respect and care for all creatures of God’s creation, the Buddhist mindfulness to clearly look at life properly, and the Balkan devotion to family. All that is good comes from God. This is not limited to one religion or one group of people. This entire world has lessons to teach us and goodness to give. As we are open to absorb them, to let their lives touch us, step out of our safe suburbs and see the world beyond our cozy lives, we will be blessed.

The greatest example of love and goodness that ever lived was our older brother, the Saviour and redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ. As we follow him the best we can, we will find true everlasting peace and happiness….and just as I said earlier, there is a piece of him in all of us, so as we seek to find the Christ in others, learn from the goodness he has taught the world through inspiring others, from all four corners, our lives with be even further blessed and filled with more beautifully diverse colours than the canvas of our existence, should we remain closed to the world. I love my work here, I love all  those I serve with and get to serve.

Much much much love,

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