Monday, December 30, 2013

Holidays and Alien Abductions

Greetings Family and various associates!

So I had a pretty good Christmas, but unfortunately the go-to gift for a missionary is cookies and lots of candy... which is awesome at first, but after a while you just open a gift hoping for a fruit basket.... (oh and Tammie, thanks for the Tupperware of cookies, I got it when I was still excited about cookies so don't worry. Soooo should I send the tupperware back? I'm not really sure what the protocol is at this point.) It was weird being away from home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas but it wasn't too bad. I've adapted to Crescent City pretty well (yeah, with the beach it wasn't all that hard.)

Well the work is progressing here in California (and it's going to speed up a lot more when Elder Moore gets here! I'm sooo excited! I managed to make a fool of myself when I read about it because I was celebrating like an idiot). We have 3 baptisms coming up - we don't have a date for any of them but we're working on that. They all want to get baptized so the hard part is out of they way.

There are some really colorful people up here... I've had more than a couple people come up to us and start a conversation with us that seemed normal at first. That's how they lure us in. Then they start talking about being abducted by aliens, and because of this, they plan on mind controlling all the world leaders to wage war on the mantis men..... We just sit there and nod... and think about how we can lead this conversation to the Restoration, which isn't easy at all. In addition to the colorful people there are a lot of really great people up here too.

Well I hope everything is going well for everyone. I can't believe it's already been a month. Next week I'm going to have to lead out, so I'm going to be in charge of everything. That will be.... probably disastrous... so we'll see what happens. I'm doing very well up here and the work is hastening! There's a lot of wheat up here and I'm going to find them! Sorry for how short this letter is but there's just no time to email here! Well, I love you all!

Love, Elder Ellis

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Baptisms and a Pit Bull

Hey family!

Thanks for the gift mom! It's so cool. I'm the envy of all oil vial carriers everywhere. I also got your s'more care package as well, so that's something Elder Whittleslow and I can bust open on Christmas! On Christmas we're going to see what Santa brought us, have a meeting with DAN, then we're just going to look for service opportunities. Afterwards we have a couple of dinner appointments. It's going to be an interesting day, that's for sure.

The Santa Rosa Mission devotional was really cool. We all brought a gift to put in a pile and everyone came over and took one. My gift was the ugly vest I was wearing in the picture that I'm fairly sure I sent you.... but I later found the Elder who got my gift and he was wearing it and seemed to enjoy it. I got a pen, but ti doubles as an ipad pen too, so that actually came in handy.

This last week has been insane - we had 3 baptisms on Saturday, and one on Sunday. Three of them were children of record, but one was a women that Elder Whittleslow and I have been seeing. Her name is Jenette Flores and she is such a honey badger. She is just awesome! It was so cool seeing her make these changes in her life and have this desire to follow Christ's example. Funny story: on Friday we went to see her and have a quick lesson with her before her baptism. We were talking about the gift of the Holy Ghost and the different ways it can help her. So as we are sitting there, listening to the member that was present talk about times how the spirit prompted him to be in certain places or to do certain things, and as he is talking Jenette's pit bull (mom, it's awesome up here! There are pit bulls everywhere!! I've seen like 8 of them, and I just revert to an 8-year-old every time I see one. It's awesome) who had been fed multiple pretzels at this point comes over and puts his head in my companion's lap and vomits all over his legs and back pack. Then I looked over at Jenette and told her that was an example of what happens when you don't heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost. It was so funny. But after that, we couldn't get back to focus on the lesson. I tried to keep it going, but she had to leave the room with Elder Whittingslow to get him cleaned off, so I just turned to her inactive husband, A****, and started teaching him. At first he didn't even like missionaries and wouldn't let them in, but after seeing the change in his wife and how much happier she has been he's warmed up to us. Well yesterday we got a text from Jenette saying that A**** said he wanted to come back to church! Us coming over so frequently and sharing lessons have softened his heart and he wants to get back to church. It's so awesome!

We're always busy, and it's pretty exhausting. We have so many people we visit. I've really liked all of the people I have met.....some of them are just a little... interesting, to say the least. Oh, I've actually met Brother R**** and had a conversation about it already. He's a pretty cool guy.

I will call you around 11:00 am to get your Skype address and then I'll Skype you. Sorry, but 11:00 is kinda the time we scheduled for it. I'm really looking forward to seeing you all, even though I talked to you, mom, just a couple of weeks ago. I'll have a lot to tell you on Christmas.

Love you all! The church is true.

Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, December 16, 2013

Missionary Life at the Beach

Hi everyone!

Yep, I'm at the beach! It's really strange waking up to the sound of a fog horn and seals barking. So it turns out I'm really out of shape. We go jogging every morning to the pier and by the time I get to the end of it, I've already died a little bit inside. But then we get back to our room and we lift weights, which I'm a little better at. My companion, Elder Whittingslow, and roommates are pretty awesome. And Sister Seely told me you talked to her, Mom, so I already know that you're a creepy cyber stalker... I've known for a while now...

Crescent City is awesome! For the most part, people are really friendly and are pretty open to listening to our message. There are a lot of meth heads, smokers and whatnot, so the Word of Wisdom is a pretty popular lesson to teach. Yeah, but it's great here! The first day I was here we taught three lessons. In the first one, we talked to a man named Brother Douglas and we discussed the plan of salvation. He had some really good questions about the spirit world and temple work. He and his 11-year-old daughter want to get baptized, but he just had shoulder surgery so he's putting it off for a while. (We're going to talk to the both of them again tonight.) Then after we left Brother Douglas, we contacted someone by the shore. He wanted to know which was more important, works or grace. We said both, and he said it sounded like the true gospel to him. It was awesome! That night we had a lesson with a guy named Emilio. We talked to him about faith and I invited him to be baptized. He said no, like he's done so many times already, but it was still awesome. It was so much easier than I thought it would be.

I'm in a bike area, so I had to buy a bike here, but I found one that was dirt cheap. It was like $60 and it was pretty much brand new. It was used once so they knocked 35% off. The blessing are pouring in already! It's been a month since I've driven a car and I feel like when I finally get behind the wheel of one, I'll just sit there clueless, wondering how I make it move. But the weather is so nice here I don't even mind being on a bike.

So I'm learning some awesome missionary vocab. Honey Badger: someone who is just awesome beyond words. B-Dog: Beautiful daughter of god. Celestial parking: pull through parking space. And when DAN (daily afternoon nap) comes by to visit, it's a pretty exciting thing. He hasn't come by since I've been here, but I'm hoping he'll show up.

Well, I'm doing very well. I'm out of time, so this email is going to have to be shorter than normal but I'll do better next week. Tell everyone I didn't email this week I'm sorry and I'll get them next week! I was experiencing some technical difficulties and lost most of my email time, but I'll leave you all with this:

Inline image 1

I have more pictures that I'll send eventually... but I figured this one took priority. How does everyone like our thrift shop vests!?!? (My companion is the one in front....being a cat....)

Well, I love you all! Again, I'll post more pictures and try to write everyone I missed next week.

Cordially and with highest regards,

Elder Ellis

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving in the MTC

Hey Mom!!! 

Where to start…. so much has happened. Well first of all, Elder Christensen and I are the new  leaders - that's why we are staying a week longer than normal. We are going to meet the new arrivals today, show them the ropes, make them feel welcomed and whatnot. The last package you sent me, with all the food, I’m going to take that to their rooms tonight as a "welcome to the neighborhood" gift basket thing.

It’s really cool, we are pretty much the grey-haired veterans now. Oh and yes, that KSL news report about the MTC was us and I was definitely a part of that. It was amazing! We were making bagged casseroles for children in Utah. Apparently one in five children here miss a meal and go hungry. Our goal was to make 350,000 bags of food... and we made 350,280 bags. It was so amazing! That was probably the first Thanksgiving I got the warm fuzzies in my tummy that weren’t a result from too much gravy. I think they went around and filmed the first group and I was in the second one. But when you watch it, just imagine me holding the bag under the funnel, because that's what I did most of the time. It’s harder than it looks! We were working at lighting speeds. My table alone made over 900 bags! We were only 280 over our goal, so if one table was slacking off then we wouldn't have made it. It’s cool to think about that - everyone worked so hard. Oh, and Elder Russell M. Nelson gave a devotional that day too! As soon as he walked in, everyone got spiritually slapped. You could feel the Spirit fill the room instantly. It’s to be expected from an apostle though. Oh, and last night Elder M. Russell Ballard was supposed to talk, but since it was snowing really hard he couldn't make it so Elder Bruce C. Hafen came instead. He gave a really good talk. 

Well, we have a lot of classes…. just hours and hours of classes – it’s brutal. Elder Christensen and I role play a lot and practice talking to each other for when we have investigators. We're getting pretty good at it. We do the same thing with our teachers. We set appointments with them and teach the persona they take on. Last night was awesome. (I feel the Spirit just thinking of it.) We talked to a TRC investigator yesterday (someone who volunteers to come to the MTC and be taught - they could be a member who is acting, a recent convert, or an actual nonmember). We were supposed to do one last week, but he was a no-show, so this was more or less the first person we taught that wasn’t one of us or our teachers. Anyways, last night we had a woman named Belinda, who has ZERO knowledge about Christianity, doesn't even know who Jesus Christ is or what the Bible is. We talked to her for an hour and, long story short (I’ll supply details later, but I’m being rushed now), we got her to commit to reading the Book of Mormon and to pray too, which is apparently a big deal around here since she is a really hard investigator. I hear only one other companionship had success with her and committed her to do something and the TRC people (I don’t know their official title) were astounded that we got her to do that. But it was easy for the most part! You just have to get to know her! It was really awesome, even though she is probably an actor, but it was still so exciting, Moments like those make all the failures worth it.

Things are really great! I get lonely sometimes, but I always power through. Give my love to the family for me. Tell Gianni to put his tooth under a pillow and tell Stephen to hang in there. I still can’t send pictures so I’ll send them when I’m in the field. Just one more week!

Well, I’m being rushed so we can go do laundry. Love you all!

Love, Elder Ellis