Monday, February 24, 2014

Facebook and Chincillas

Dear Beloved Ones,

YES! Hallelujah! Goodbye Kansas (and sadly all the wonderful people who live there) and hello Mormonopolis! I want to thank everyone who helped out with my family's move. I feel kinda guilty (and also super relieved) that I wasn't able to help out with the move, although I would think being on a mission is a pretty good Doctor's note that gets me out such activities. But to be fair, I've had my own share of helping people move. I believe I'm up to seven move in's/out's I've helped out with. If there's one thing to be said about the Mormon character, it's probably a compliment to their packing skills.

Well get excited everyone! I have a baptism on Friday! WHOOOOOOO!!! GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAL!!  I'm pumped! Also..... I have a baptismal date for another investigator on April 5!! CIAO BELLA VITTORIA!! Her name is M****** and she is one of the investigators I spoke of earlier. And we cannot forget about K****** who will have a baptismal date after Friday. This I humbly promise. And M******* father, T****, also wants to get baptized, so now he has an incentive to hurry that process up! If he wants to baptize his daughter, then he needs to quit smoking and do it soon! We're going over to their house tonight to help conduct a family home evening. I might be getting transferred soon... so I might not be able to see those other 3 baptisms happen. I get transfer doctrine next week so I'll know if I'm staying or if I'm leaving by next Monday. But hey, regardless if I get transferred or not, next transfer I'll be a Facebook missionary! LA CHIESA È VERO!!! It's going to be awesome! I won't be a Greenie missionary anymore and I'll be done with my first 12 weeks!

Well this week has been pretty good. Being a bike missionary I've been able to personally experience all the delights of Crescent City weather. For those of you who don't know, it rains here... quite a lot. But on Wednesday my zone leaders came up to go on exchanges with us and I went with Elder Balaich. We were going to the part of our area that is further away, so we got to use their car. Well Elder Balaich's drivers license expired, so I got to drive his Chevy Cruise. I miss cars.... they're so nice... Well we went and saw some of our potential investigators that haven't been seen in quite a long while. Some of them weren't interested, some of them weren't there, and one of them had actually died months ago... that was uncomfortable. Elder Balaich: "Excuse us but are you Jerry?" Man: "No I'm not." Me: "Oh, well is he home, or did he move away?" Man: "He's dead." Me: "Um come again...?" Man: " He died in January, I'm not related to him, I'm just renting the place." Elder Balaich: "Oh that's too bad... Soo do you have a faith in Jesus Christ...?" Man: "Go away." And that was the end of that. On a different note we did manage to give a blessing when we went to another potential house.... but it was to a chinchilla... now by blessing I mean we just prayed for it. It didn't look so hot and she said he was dying. She was crying and we asked her if Christ was standing there with us, what would she ask him. She said to let Whiskers live. So we figured the least we could do was pray for it. But it did open doors for us to return because I asked if it would be okay to return and see how he is doing and she said that would be alright. So if anyone is wondering how Elder Ellis is doing, just remember I'm out here working hard and blessing Chinchillas! 

Well this next week is going to be really exciting! Congratulations to Ky for his mission call! Vancouver Washington! Rock on! We'll be serving pretty close together. We'll only have an entire state separating us. Pesky Oregon.... Well, I leave you with much love.

Now I close my epistle.
I am Elder Ellis; Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Baby Shower and a Drug Mule

At the Medford, Oregon Temple

Hey everyone!

 Okay... so I'm just going to start this email off with something pretty heavy. Brace yourselves because I have a mild confession to make. My companion, Elder Haynie, and I might of been an accessory to a drug deal.... but it was completely accidental! Allow me to explain. Elder Haynie and I were riding our bikes around 7:00 pm, and we had no set appointments and were thinking of who we could see. Then a Hispanic gentlemen rides up next to us on his bike and we strike up a conversation. His name was Juvano, and he said he couldn't talk to us for long since he was on his way home and he had to carry two bags back on his bike. So, us being the stupid but service-loving missionaries that we are, offered to carry one of the bags to his house so we could talk on the way. He cheerfully agreed and Elder Haynie grabbed a bag and we started following him and talking. Well we quickly learned he just got out of jail.... which wasn't fun for us to discover. But we brushed it off and assured ourselves that he definitely needed the Gospel in his life. So we start talking about the name Mormon and where we got the name from, and we told him about the Book of Mormon and he seemed fairly interested. When we got to his house he told us to wait outside and he went in. As soon as he went inside the smell of drugs and cigarette smoke hit us like a freight train... So we were just standing there... reflecting on the potentially bad decision we just made. Elder Haynie looked at the bag, and asked me what I thought was inside, and I told him not to look! If we didn't know what was inside, then we couldn't be held accountable! So Juvano came back out, grabbed the bag and said there was someone who wanted to talk to us. He sent out his friend, Josiah, to talk to us. The conversation was short but to the point. He called us Jehovah Witnesses, yelled at us and slammed the door. We just stood there, telling ourselves that there was no way that just happened! Well a couple of days later we were talking to one of our less active members we're teaching named Y*****, who also happens to be one of the six police officers in Crescent City. We asked him if he knew a Juvano and Josiah and he told us he had arrested them a couple of times and they have a history of drug use. So we told him what happened and (after laughing at us for being so easily played) told us we need to be more careful. So the moral of the story is that sometimes a missionary's desperate desire to help becomes idiotic. Oops.

Well on a brighter note, I was able to attend the Medford temple on Thursday, and it was a really awesome. The temple is so tiny and adorable - I just want to pick it up and put it in my pocket and take it home. We met some Elders there from the Eugene Oregon Mission and I forgot to ask them if they know an Elder Blair! I also got to go to a surprise party and help out with that, and a baby shower in the same day. So that was pretty awesome. I've never been to a baby shower before.... Lots of women there talking about stuff that was way over my head and trying to guess baby food flavors... I just summarized the whole thing right there. We tried talking to people but of course no one was focused on what we had to say.

Well we just taught M***** again yesterday. We're almost done with all the lessons he has to have before he can get baptized. We're so close! I'm so excited! K*****, another one of our young investigators, is also super close. He really wants to see a baptism before he's comfortable setting a date though so we will take him to M******'s. We also talked with D*****, another person we're teaching, but it seems to be going nowhere. She just doesn't understand repentance and doesn't understand a broken heart and contrite spirit. I feel like everything we say just bounces off her. I don't know what's going to happen there.

Well, mom, thanks for the package! The cookies are really good. Probably my favorite part about it.  I can't believe every thing that's happening back home. So much is happening and my life is on pause for 2 years, it's just a weird feeling.

Well I love you all! Try not to be too critical of the fact that I accidentally became a hardened criminal out here.

Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, February 10, 2014

The First Vision and a Kiss

Hey everyone!

Wow, this last week has been ridiculously eventful. Well ,first of all, we picked up two new investigators and they are pretty solid. The first one we met was a women named N****, and although there was 3 noisy kids and 7 dogs, the spirit was strong. She was happy we came by, we taught her about the restoration and she started crying and said we were a god send. We invited her to be baptized but said she probably wouldn't, (don't worry, it'll happen) but she said she would read the Book of Mormon and said she would come to church with her multitude of grandchildren. Unfortunately, she was unable to make it this last Sunday, but we'll make sure she gets to church next week. The other investigator was a women named T*****. My comp, Elder Haynie, went on exchanges with our district leader, Elder Corn and they found her. Long story short, they went to a less active's house and she was there. She was really interested in what we're allowed to do and what we can't, so they taught her about the word of wisdom and she said it made a lot of sense. In fact ,she told us she was already trying to quit all that stuff anyways, so it was perfect!

Wednesday was incredibly slow but it was an important lesson for me. I was on exchanges with Elder Vang, and after lunchtime, before we could go out and get anything done, he started feeling sick and didn't feel well enough to leave the apartment. So he wanted to nap for a couple of hours and then see if he felt well enough to go work. I was all for it - a chance to take a break was a stellar idea. So we slept a couple of hours and I woke up feeling pretty bad. And at the end of the day we hadn't taught any lessons. Normally when I get home I'm exhausted, but I have that sense of accomplishment that gets me up in the morning the next day. I didn't have that sense that night. I believe that was Heavenly Father telling me that I need to stay busy. To sum it up, a tired missionary is a happy missionary.

Well on Thursday not a lot happened since we were weekly planning. That normally happens on Friday but we had zone conference that day so we weekly planned early. So basically on Thursday we sat in a chair all day and tediously planned out our upcoming week. But that night we went on splits with the bishop's second counselor and the elders quorum president, President Sanders. I went with him to a part member family, the D******'. Well Brother D***** and his daughter M****** are some of our investigators. In fact, Brother D****** was my very first lesson I taught when I got here. Well both of them want to get baptized but unfortunately Brother D***** had shoulder surgery that he's recovering from, which will take several months, and M****** is incredibly busy. Well something we've been working on with him is to accept help from the ward. They don't have enough money to pay all the medical bills they have and the physical therapy he's taking. By the end of the month they will be in trouble. So we have been pestering them to take financial support from the ward, but he's kinda prideful, (that's the marine in him) and would like to take care of himself. So Pres Sanders just threw down on him and was brutally straightforward with him. We want to help him before he falls flat on his face. But that's what he needed to hear, and I think he might take us up on the offer. We haven't been able to see him in a long time but we're planning on getting a lesson with M***** soon. Fingers crossed!

On Friday went to zone conference down in McKinnleyville. It's always refreshing to see other missionaries, especially since we're banished up here in Crescent City. Well we got there and President and Sister Alba were there with the AP's and they just started teaching us, like they've done with all the other zones. Well we started role playing about the First Vision, and was teaching with my comp and it got to the point where we recited Joseph Smith's own words. So my comp looks at me to do it and I was like, "Alright, bring it on." (After being called on to teach the first lesson and not knowing the First Vision, I felt like I should probably know it!) So I recited it, we finished the role play and all was well... Till afterwards, when President Alba started walking around complementing companionships that did well and he walked up behind me and said, "... And this young man knows the First Vision now!" He put both his hands on my face from behind me, shook my head to and fro and then kissed my forehead... And I just sat there amongst the laughter, with an indifferent yet defeated look on my face, wondering how it came to that...

Well Sunday had to be the most eventful day of the week. We had soo many people come to church. Our baptismal date, M***** came, and our recent convert,  J***** also brought her best friend A*****, who we've been trying to teach (that one was the most amazing church attendees I've seen since A****** has never set foot in a church before! It was so awesome!).  A***** has had a REALLY tough life... So seeing her come to church was phenomenal. We also had a young man that just randomly came in. He's like in 8th grade and he just walked in, completely unexpected and uninvited, which was sooo sick! He said he was going to come back next week too. D**** and T***** W***** also attended.... Now the thing about them is D**** hasn't been to church since the mid 70's and she wants to come back to church.... But she's a little.... unhinged. She has some mental instability issues, and some combative tendencies. Now her husband, on the other hand, is the opposite. He's an investigator and wants to get baptized with his wife. So we've been working with them to get them to church. Well D***** had an emotional breakdown at church and we had to go all Dr. Phil and calm her down. It was just a crazy day. We also had a member move into the ward the other day and we helped him move into his apartment. Then we helped him move out of that one, and into a better one. So since we helped him out, just like he promised, he got us a referral! Welcome to the ward, Eddie!

Well, I'm soo excited to hear things are going so well at home. Things are going really well here. Just pray that this next week is going to be as good, if not better, than last week! Well, that was my week.

Remember: the church is true, the book is blue.

Love, Elder Ellis

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tough Week and a Single Crab

Hey Everyone!!

Urgh!! It was a tough week for me. We went to see so many potential investigators in our area book because they haven't been seen in a long time, but none of them answered the door! That happened two days in a row. We must have knocked on 20 doors and we didn't have any luck at all. We would just get home at night and sit on our beds and wonder what we got done that day! Plus the people who actually did talk to us and told us right to our faces that we're wrong. That kinda gets discouraging, but you just need to look them in the eye and bare your testimony, which I've gotten to do to a couple of less-than-friendly people. Oh well - those days happen. It'll pick up this next week. But the investigators I'm talking to now are progressing. M******* has a baptismal date for the 28th so get excited!!

I know all about the Super Bowl since we had dinner last night with a member who was having a Super Bowl party. The other elders and I ate in the kitchen, but we could hear everyone cheering and yelling, not to mention them coming in to get food and telling us how aggravated they were.

I'm so glad the house is getting sold! It's about time! I think it's funny they are making you pick up sticks or they can't make a deal - they must have seen how desperate we are and decided to milk it for everything they can. I'll take a room in the basement in the new house.  I'm not going to occupy it for a long time so you can do whatever you want.

So last week on Monday after emails I went crabbing with Elders Vang, Corn, and Haynie and a less active member named H*****, (whom Elder Haynie and I gave dating advice to last night which was super weird but hilarious at the same time.) Anyways we excitedly threw our crab net into the water with the bait and realized that, very much like fishing, this was going to take a while. So we decided to go get lunch. Unfortunately during lunch, H***** had to leave because she was late for class at the university she goes to. So just like that we lost our resident crab expert! We went back to the pier not really expecting to catch anything when we pulled our net up. We like to go contacting by the pier and we see people crabbing all the time.... it's pretty uneventful. So we didn't expect much, but when we pulled up our net up we found that we caught a single crab.! We just lost it.... we were so excited that we were jumping around and celebrating (luckily no one was around to watch the pitiful sight of four guys doing victory dances at the sight of a crab.) But then it occurred to me that we had to throw it back since there are some very strict crabbing laws here. If you catch one that is the wrong color or isn't in season or too small, etc, then you can get ticketed for like $200! So we start frantically trying to get this crab off the net, which he was holding on to with every leg he had. We also had to avoid him grabbing us with his mighty kung-fu grip. It took us 10 minutes and 4 panicky Elders to get him to get him back into the water... which was an even more pitiful sight than when we caught him.

I can't wait for everyone to get out here on their missions too! So hurry up! Well I'm out of time. I'm being pestered to hurry up so we can get to the beach, so I've got to go. Love you all!!

Love, Elder Ellis