Wednesday, August 27, 2014

25 August 2014

Yeah, so I'm not excited about the coming of fall…AT ALL! It's already getting pretty cold here, it rained 5 days in a row and was nearly a constant downpour. The streets flooded a little and it was really cold! I will be needing winter clothing soon.   Folks here say that it starts snowing near the end of September, sometimes sooner. (Fantastic!) I have been asking everyone what they recommend to combat the cold and everyone pretty much just says layer up, and use wool if possible. My companion recommends “smart wool" (I don't know exactly what it is but it sounds like the fabric is made differently than other wool fabrics of lesser intelligence?) Our ward mission leader told us about these gloves made by the Hutterites. He said it's the warmest pair of gloves he has ever owned. It's some kind of leather with sheep skin/fleece on the inside (kind of like Ugg’s for your hands, I guess) but they can be pretty pricey, and often have a six-month wait time because they are so popular.  He also suggested I check the thrift stores here which are known for receiving items from wealthy land owners in the area who donate very nice and stylish clothing that is often practically new/gently worn.

Speaking of the wealthy, I’ve learned a lot of wealthy people own land here…the director of  the Terminator movies, the owner of M&M Mars (candy), and a lot of British nobility and royalty, all land owners here.   As a result, polo is pretty big out in this neck of the woods.

I did find my CTR ring! I hadn't seen it in almost two weeks, but yesterday I was laying down on my floor stretching.  I looked under my bed and there it was! I checked there previously several times and didn’t see it, so maybe it was hiding in my bedding…who knows?  I haven't had the chance to fix my bike handle bars yet, but we don’t use our bikes a lot so it’s been ok.

I am really enjoying the time we spend doing family history work and I wouldn't mind getting more family info.  I was able trace one of our Scandinavian lines back a long way…shows we’re related to the Ragnar Lodbrok (also spelled Lothbrok or Lodbrog) and his son, Bjorn Ironside described in Old Norse poetry and several sagas (like the recent series, Vikings, on the History Channel).  If accurate, HOW COOL IS THAT?!?  (Yes, Dad, I now think Bjorn is a cool name.) I also found a picture of grandpa with his mother and siblings on  It was really neat to see! I was able to link the info from that website to the family search stuff provided by the church. You should all set up an account on Family Search if you haven't done so already, there is some really cool stuff on there!  It’s so interesting, I was able to trace one of our lines back to Adam and Eve four different times.  Shows, we are related to a lot of royalty, from France, Germany, England and Scandinavia.

Here's a funny story for you guys:
I got attacked by a freaking swarm of hornets today...we were helping this guy take town a fence so he could get his tractor to the forest behind his house when we noticed a bunch of hornets flying in and out from under the hood of his snow-mobile. So he grabbed some hornet/wasp/bee spray, handed it to me and said, “I'm terrified of them, so you go get em!" I was like, "JAIL NO!" I tried to pass it off to my companion but he wasn't having any of it. So, calling upon the recent knowledge of our hearty Scandinavian heritage, I “viking-ed up” and sprayed all the ones on the hood, which didn’t didn’t make them at all happy (but the ones I got with the spray did slowly die)!  Then he was like, “Ok, I'm going to lift the hood up so that you can get the nest, if there is one down there.” Before I had time to think, he lifted the hood and 15-20 hornets came out. I started spraying those things like crazy and they started coming after me so I sprayed the nest and ran. One got me, it really hurt, but there was no sting mark, do they also bite? So yeah, I probably looked like the tourettes guy on YouTube that runs around the yard yelling,”BOB SAGGETT!" Probably the freakiest thing I have ever done!

For P-Day, our district went spelunking (cave exploring) or as the locals call it, “caving.” It was really, really cool! Also pretty scary at times, we went down really far and had to squeeze through holes that were just slightly bigger around than I am. I didn't have a problem with them, I slipped right through.  So I took advantage of the fact that being small was actually good in this situation and began taunting the others that if they weren't so tall/big they could fit through more easily. (They make fun of me all the time about how small I am, so I got a little revenge today.) We were exploring in the cave for 5 hours. We found two waterfalls, and several underground streams that lead to the Tongue River. Kind of sketchy down there at points, but overall, a great time (besides, how can I be afraid with the blood of Ragnar Lothbrok coursing through my veins)! I'll send some pictures soon.

So grateful for all of these experiences, your support and love, and the Lord’s many blessings.

Love, Elder Erik Ras.

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