Monday, March 31, 2014

Blitzes and Walking Away from Rap

Hello mother and beloved associates!

I'm so glad everything is starting to work out! And it only took a little under a year! What stellar progress!

Well I'm doing pretty well myself. I'm sooo pumped for General Conference! If a mission was like school, and p-day was recess, then General Conference would be field-day!

I already told Gianni to be on the look-out for a family I am teaching called the Amados. This family is related to the Seventy, Elder Carlos H. Amado, who is suppose to speak at conference. Elder Kimball and I are teaching the Amado's son and Brother Amado's girlfriend. J*****, the son, wants to get baptized but his mom won't let him, so that's the only problem there. We've taught A***** the first lesson and she's really interested so we'll see what happens there. Well I digress. The point is that the Amado family said they were going to General Conference to see Elder Amado speak. I think that is so cool! So if you happen to be there and miraculously see them, go say hi! They are such a wonderful family.

Well I believe I'm going to watch Conference at a members' home... If not, I'll see it at the Stake Center. I'm super excited. We're promised that if we watch conference with a question in mind, our question will be answered. So I'm definitely going to take that offer and go with it!

To answer your questions, Mom,  I don't really talk much with my old companions. The only reason that I know Elder Whittingslow is returning to the mission field is because I talked to him on Facebook. Since he is not presently a missionary, that's acceptable. We can't use Facebook to talk to other missionaries in our mission. I haven't talked with Elder Christensen (my MTC companion) since after my first transfer, and that was only briefly. I miss that boy. Well, I'll have plenty of opportunities to see them, so I'm not real worried about it. Elder Kimball and I butt heads every once in a while. It's definitely the toughest companionship I've been in so far, but I guess that's not saying much since my first three were so great, (brief, but great). Don't get me wrong, Elder Kimball and I get along for the most part, but there just are those things about each other that really tick us off. Like we were contacting last week and we started talking to some gentlemen in a garage who were quite the fans of illegal substances. And that was what a majority of the conversation consisted of, was them preferring to use the aforementioned substances rather than do something productive like, I don't know, come closer to the god that gave us life? Then it moved to them talking about how Joseph Smith wasn't a prophet and were trivializing all that he did. Well we told them that if they wanted to know they had to read the Book of Mormon and find out for themselves. One of them said he would read a page if we listened to some raps that I knew wouldn't be appropriate. So when he started playing them (and sure enough, wildly inappropriate) I walked away and told him to have a good one. I'm not going to bargain my values for something I know to be wrong. Elder Kimball got mad at me, saying we should've stayed and given him a Book of Mormon. But I felt good walking away, so I know I did the right thing. Again, we get along most of the time, but sometimes we get on one anothers' nerves - something we need to work on.

Well, mom, I'm pretty sure the email to delete the XBox Live account is your old email. And my shirts still fit fine. I haven't gotten that big yet. But the other night I did rip my suit-pants trying to pick something up off the ground... I think it's because I leaned under the table in an awkward way to pick up the spoon - at least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself. But to be safe, last week I started to do P90X with one of the other missionaries every other night. Sooo,  I appreciate everything you send, mom, but to play it safe maybe send less sweets and make it a once in while thing.

On Saturday Elder Kimball and I went on exchanges with our district leader, Elder Welch, and his companion, Elder Higinbotham. I went with Elder Higinbotham in my area and I got to drive our 2014 Ford Fusion, so that sat well with me. It was a really fun exchange, though I did spend most of it consoling him. He essentially had an emotional breakdown because his directions got us lost and I went 30 miles over our mileage allotment. I felt bad for him. He was really stressed out. (Mom, imagine Stephen at a rock concert. That was more or less his anxiety level). But we had fun on our exchange. He's really pretty good at contacting. We met a man who had been taught by the missionaries before and he knew that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and had accepted the invitation to be baptized. But the missionaries stopped coming by because his wife scared them off. He doesn't live there anymore so I referred him back to the missionaries of the area. So that was awesome.

That same day we went on a blitz, which is where all the missionaries in the zone go to one area and try to find people for that companionship to teach. I hadn't been on a blitz until I got to Fairfield since Crescent City was so far away from everyone else and it was impossible for us to participate in one. This is the second blitz I've been on. The first one wasn't really noteworthy. We went to Rio Vista and didn't really find anyone for the Hermanas to teach. But this time I went to the Fairfield 2nd's area with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Merriam and we just tracted in the rain like nobody's business. We met this old Catholic women from the Philippines and she was really nice. She is also a guaranteed baptism. We talked for a while and it went well. She's open to have the missionaries come over. We gave her a pass along card with the SLC temple on it and we started talking about temples and she said how beautiful she thinks the temples are. We invited her to be baptized she said yes. Then we prayed and the spirit was so strong she started crying. To top it off, after we left the house we prayed to know what we should do next, and we felt prompted to walk down this road that didn't have any house along it, and it was raining so there was no one to contact, but we did it anyways. We walked for a little while and still didn't understand why we decided to go the way we did. We could've stayed in the same neighborhood where all the houses were and kept tracting but for some reason we were told to walk down a road that had no houses. Well we came to this private apartment complex-looking place called Paradise Valley. The reason we knew it was a private facility was because of the gate and security station in the front. So we decided to try to go in. I figured we would be stopped, but we decided to be bold and persistent like good missionaries are! We started awkwardly meandering over and sure enough the security guard came out and told us we couldn't go in. He told us that it was a retirement home and we had to be there to see someone specifically. Well we did the only logical thing to do at that point.... we went over and started talking to him! He's a really cool guy. His name is Gabe, and he goes to the college across from the ward in my area and I invited him to come sometime and said he might check it out. Though we didn't know why we went there at first, we trusted there was a reason we felt like we needed to be there and we met a great guy. Follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I testify that he won't let you down.

The church is true, the book is blue! I love you all. Enjoy General Conference!

Love Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fellowshipping and Guns

Hey Mom,

I'm glad you finally got the pictures! Cause trying to send them on the computer just wasn't going to work... I have some more that I took last night on my iPad. Gianni will really appreciate these. I had dinner last night with a member and her son who owns some antique guns. I felt like a kid in a candy shop! Almost all of them are unfired and all of them very unique. One of them is a magnum 500 - when I saw it, all I could think of is when Jim was telling me how he broke his thumb firing one of those bad boys.

Regarding your experience attending your new ward in Tooele, a ward that fails to fellowship is going to struggle. As a missionary, finding fellowshippers for investigators and new converts is pretty essential. I remember last transfer I was talking to an investigator who has attended church several times was talking to me about how no one came up and introduced himself or made him feel welcome. I was so irritated when I was told that. That wasn't a deal breaker for him and he still came to church, but it's so important for people to feel welcome. It's tough to join a new church full of people you don't know so you need to make them feel welcome and wanted.

Well I got awesome news! My papa is coming home! My trainer, Elder Whittingslow, is coming back to the mission in May! I'm so excited. I'm not going to be an orphan anymore! I was so bummed when he went home. He is such a great missionary. I'm really glad he's coming back. But it'll be super weird since he was at nine months out when he left and he can't come back till May, so he'll go home just three months before me, and he came out way before I did.

Well my studies have been getting a little more intensive. I've started reading Jesus the Christ. When I read it I feel really smart but really stupid at the same time. I hardly understand what Talmage is saying in it! When it does make sense, I feel like a champ. I also read this talk the other morning that was given by a mission president in '95 that talks a lot about the second coming. My mind was completely blown afterwards. I'm always looking for more things to study. I really love the institute manuals - there is some really awesome study material in there that I can't get enough of!

Well I've been doing really well. I've had some really good lessons this week. I taught the plan of salvation to our new investigator, D****. She really didn't understand a lot of it, primarily about Adam and Eve, since she's been taught different for so long but she really liked it. And when she prays afterwards it is so sincere. There's just no way she isn't getting baptized. Absolutely no way. We also picked up a new investigator named A***** and we taught her the restoration and answered all her question. She use to be a Jehovah witness but she doesn't like their excommunication process so she doesn't practice anymore. So hopefully we can teach her regularly.

Well I'm being harassed to get off email and play some Frisbee so I got to get going. I'm so psyched that Elder Moore and Elder Hamrick are both on the west coast! I'm so psyched that we all ended up so close together (albeit Elder Hamrick is going to Brazil soon...)

Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, March 17, 2014

Coffee Ice Cream and Oreos

Hey Everyone,

This week was pretty tough - it seems there's no one to teach here! There's been a lot of rejection happening and I try not to let it discourage me. It's just tough not having people to teach! We do have a pretty solid investigator named D***** and she's about as golden as it gets! She is so excited to learn about the gospel and we taught her on Friday about the restoration and she loved it. She really liked the idea about the priesthood, really liked that Joseph Smith saw Christ and the Father, believes he is a prophet and believes the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I invited her to be baptized
and she said probably. But with how the lesson went and how excited she is about the next lessons...she's getting baptized. There's just no doubt.

Mom I need Aunt Marge's email or address. I don't have them so I can't write her till I get one. Also I'm just going to mail my camera memory card home so you can get the pictures, so I need your address. I'm tired of trying to email them. You'll have it soon. And I don't get Parker's and Landon's emails, so please forward those to me.

Well I forgot to write about it in last weeks letter but while I was in Crescent City I got to do some really fun service! I helped a member demo their house! I didn't do anything too extreme but we took
out the crown molding and knocked out light fixtures. We pretty much tore down everything from the wall. I also got to take the doors down and rip the frames off. All that time I worked for Jeremy hanging doors I didn't get the opportunity to break and tear stuff down, so it was a nice change of pace from the norm.

I want to thank you for giving the Eggens the pink sauce recipe! It was soooo good to have some familiar food! I knew it right when I saw it and I think they were disappointed when I walked over and asked if it was pink sauce - took away the surprise factor of it. Speaking of food, I had a funny experience at dinner a couple days ago. So my companion and the other two elders in our ward went to dinner, and it went well. Solid members who fed us some desirable meatballs. And we had lovely dinner overall. Then they went to get dessert. They came back with bowls of ice cream and some Oreos and my heart was filled with delight! Then Elder Makoni and I took a bite... and we looked at each other... these members... just fed missionaries.... coffee ice cream... WHAT? We didn't know what to do! Is that breaking the word of wisdom or is it just hot beverages? We had a debate about it later. But who feeds a missionary coffee ice cream!?

Well Facebook is good but as soon as I got it I received about 50 friend request from Filipinos. So that was weird. Apparently they love missionaries so they always friend all the elders on Facebook. Facebook is an interesting teaching tool. You find a lot of interesting people so it's like regular contacting but much faster pace.

Well I'm doing well. Fairfield is different than Crescent City but it's a good adjustment. I just need to find people to teach and it'll get so much better!

Love, Elder Ellis

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fairfield and Facebook


So Fairfield... what is to be said about Fairfield??.... Hmm, how about we start with the fact that I have no investigators!! What?! What is the meaning of this! We have one progressing investigator. That's it. Man, this place is dry! Well I guess I need to work some of my magic and get us more people to teach! We spend most of our time finding and contacting people. At least I'm not on bike anymore and I get a little bit of a reprieve from that. Though I don't think I would mind riding my bike here. It's really pretty. And the people are really awesome in my ward. I'm just going to summarize it up in a few simple words.... I'm going to get fat.... there it is! I threw it out in the open! I'm not happy about it, but it's just going to happen. If it weren't for the fact I go jogging every morning, I wouldn't stand a chance.

Well my new companion, Elder Kimball, is a pretty solid guy. We get along pretty well, though he can be pretty quiet at times. And let me tell you, this boy doesn't find me nearly as funny as he should. It's criminal. It's pure injustice to my sense of humor. We're working on it, but he better offer up a chuckle every once in a while or there's going to be problems.

I finally got Facebook, as many of you already know. I have graduated my days as a Greenie! It was surreal being at transfer meeting on Wednesday, and seeing all the newest greenies and just thinking I was there 3 months ago... less than that, actually. Well I haven't been able to actually teach on Facebook yet, since I'm pretty much just getting started but I'm pretty excited to start talking to people. It's awesome since we can also Skype people. Contacting on Facebook isn't any easier than normal. We pretty much just type, "friends of friends", or "people who are not my friends" and just start messaging people. and we always get the "uhh do i know you...?", or told to go away. But sometimes we get someone who isn't afraid to talk to some random, but well dressed stranger on Facebook. Then we just take it from there as normal contact. It's pretty much no different from regular contacting, except we get more time to think about what we want to say.

Well speaking of Uncle Robert, I have an Elder in my district by the name of Paul Teisina who is from Bountiful who said he had a football coach named Bob Larsen. Ringing any bells Uncle Robert? I'm not sure if you did any coaching, but if you did then you are probably this man.

What?! Mom you cant just drop an apostle bomb on me like that and not tell me who it was! Was it Holland? Eyring? ......was it Peter...? I need to know! Oh and mom, before I forget, where did you get my vial customized? My comp wants to know. By the way, I was just told by the elders that live next door that they got my package, so thanks mom!

Well I'm not used to being around so many other missionaries. Up in Crescent City I was pretty isolated and there were only 6 of us. But now I'm around so many that our P-days are huge! We just went to this arcade place called Scandia, and played some laser tag. My team won, naturally. It was so much fun. Although the work is a little harder here in Fairield, I really like the area. There's a lot more to do and certainly a lot more people to talk to. Well I'm going to wrap it up but I bear gifts.... PICTURES!! You know the ones I was suppose to send months ago? Well I love you all! I'll see you all on Facebook!

Love Your Elder,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Seeing Potential and a Transfer

M***** baptism - my first official baptism!

Friends! Family! Salutations!

So I had my first official baptism on Friday! VITTORIA! M****** got baptized and then confirmed yesterday. I was soo happy! His uncle was able to make it and baptize him. I'm glad he was able to be there to do it, it meant a lot more to M****** that someone he looks up to was able to baptize him instead of some random missionary. I stood in the circle to confirm him, which in itself was a privilege. And yes, dear mother, I took pictures, but my email time is already short enough as it is! So I will send them when I get Facebook in a week or so. 

I'm so psyched that Elder Moore is in the MTC now! Fresno is about to get rocked! It's so cool that Elder Hamrick and Elder Moore are in the MTC at the same time. I'm pretty jealous! The only person who I knew in the MTC was a girl I knew from my EFY company. But I met some amazing people there, so that was a great opportunity for me!

Well I've been pretty sick lately since I've been biking around in the rain all the time. It just pours buckets of rain and we're riding our bikes in it! It must be a ridiculous sight to see us riding our bikes without handlebars, just cruising around singing to ourselves, in the pouring rain. But I will have a car pretty soon. I'm being transferred to Fairfield tomorrow night. I have mixed feelings about this. I'm excited to meet new people and to be in a new area, but I'm going to miss the people I've met and I'm going to miss living so close by the beach. Here's my address mom - I know how much you enjoy Google mapping where I live. 1242 Dana Dr., Fairfield, California. You're an expert when it comes to creepy surveillance. I'm not sure what the apartment number it is yet, but I'm sure you can figure it out. You excel in such things. Well I don't know much about the area I'm going to, but I know I'm getting a car and my comps name is Elder Kimball. Elder Haynie has said positive things about the area. I will actually be near other missionaries! I won't be banished anymore. I will live near more than 5 missionaries! That'll be really weird.

Well yesterday at church it was fast and testimony meeting and the D***** family was there. They are a part member family that we've been seeing. (Brother D***** was actually my very first lesson I taught on my mission.) So they were there and both of the D***** girls got up and bore their testimonies and it was such a special thing for me. Elder Haynie and I were freaking out when M***** got up. And when A***** got up after that we were just fighting not to jump up and dance around. It's just so amazing how much you love people on your mission. After meeting someone for only 10 minutes I've learned to love them so much. I just see the potential in them, and who they could be if they had a little help. If I come home from my mission having gained only one thing, it would be that - just developing a sincere love for people.

Well this week was a little less eventful than normal - the baptism and transfers being the main things. Right now my life is just packing and getting ready for my new area. We have a lot of appointments and dinners coming up in the next couple of days. Since I'm leaving, people really want to eat with us or have us come over. Then I have to embark on a 6-hour car ride to the mission home. I'm trying to get excited about this but it doesn't seem to be working. Well I'll email my new address in its entirety when I know what it is. Love all around!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis