Monday, April 28, 2014

Loving Service and Your Mom

Our newest convert A*****, with Elders Kimball, Ellis, Makoni and Smith
Hello people from home and beyond!

So this week was a week of service! Have any of you ever heard of CDA? It's the California Dental Association. Definitely look it up - there was a news report done on it on Friday, I believe. We had a service project with them, that included the Fairfield, Vallejo, and Napa zones. For three days CDA was giving out free dental care to everyone that walked in. It's really incredible everything they did. They did extractions, fillings, cleanings, dentures, and even a couple of root canals, etc, all for free! One didn't even need ID! You literally just walked in, they kept track of you with a clip board, and would get all this work done on you, then you would walk out! So what could the missionaries of three different zones possibly add to this mighty workforce? Well of course we dove right in and started pulling teeth! That's a lie, we did no such thing. But we did serve as escorts and assistants. All patients needed to be escorted everywhere they went. Imagine 1,500 people walking around, having no idea where they are suppose to go, many of them doped up for pain, and many of them confused because half their mouth is gone. It would be catastrophic. So we would take the patients from place to place, make them feel welcome, provide casual small talk, all that good stuff. And we did this for 12 WHOLE HOURS, we worked from 5 am to 5 pm on Friday with the Vallejo zone, and Napa took Saturday. It was so much fun but incredibly exhausting. My job at first was to be the exit enforcer, which entailed forcing people to use the proper exit! The set up CDA had was very organized and systematic. So people couldn't be walking around wherever they wanted after they had their work done. Also they didn't want people coming right back to get more work done or more medication, so that was also a concern. There was a small gate near the building where the surgeries were getting done that people had to exit from. Well many people did not wish to do that, since it was muddy and wet, (from the pouring rain that I had the pleasure to work in all morning) or because it was far away from where they parked - I heard all sorts of excuses. But those were the rules on the table, so trying to convince people to use this measly looking gate, that lead to nothing but mud and puddles was an interesting experience, to say the least. Most people were more than willing because they were so grateful, but there were a lot of people who were quite stubborn, and I had to get authoritative on them! I was pretty much a glorified bouncer. After that I became a regular escort so I took people to the stations they need to go to. It was cool, and it was great publicity for the church! Most of the volunteers I talked to that weren't missionaries were members of the church. I had quite a few discussions with people about the church and I actually taught a lesson to someone about the Book of Mormon, and told him he should read it. There were many great missionary opportunities here. Unfortunately no one thought to bring their camera, so I don't have pictures of this event, but they have a website and a Facebook page that have lots of photos of it. It was a wonderful experience, and I was really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this event. During the entire thing I was just so happy! I was also cold and wet, but that couldn't bring me down. I love service so much!

I'm so exhausted, this week was a long one. We hardly had any lessons this week because everyone we normally teach bailed on us. We spent most of our time walking around and tracting. We found quite a few potential investigators, so that's good, and we also found a less active home that Bishop Clawson has been trying to get into. He was actually told that the members there moved, so he had stopped going by there. It's a good thing we found them! It was funny, when we knocked on the door and the mother answered and invited us in, we were slightly hesitant.... People never invite us in! Something is suspicious about this! Then when she called us Elders we were like, yep! She's a member. Then we told her we would come by later, and she told us we should bring the home teachers by too! Yeah, we got it! She's a member! It's was pretty funny. We brought it up in ward council and the bishop was quite surprised, but happy nonetheless.

Well, we had a baptism on Saturday. It wasn't mine and Elder Kimball's, but it was the other Elders in our ward, Elder Makoni and Elder Smith. Her name is A***** and she's 21 years old. She actually wasn't being taught for that long before she decided to be baptized - I think like a month and a half ago they started teaching her. It was a really great baptism, the spirit was so strong during it, and she had a lot of nonmember family that was there. Elder Kimball and I gave the missionary moment during the baptismal service, so hopefully we touched someone's heart. Brother Graham baptized her (the Graham's are the family we watched conference with and had Easter dinner with) and Elder Makoni confirmed her yesterday. After the baptism we went to the Beverly's home (they are another fellowshipper family for A****) for an after party. It was a great opportunity to get to know her relatives and for the members there to introduce themselves and show her family that's she's in good hands. A***** is going to do just fine in this ward since she's got a huge support group here. Fellow shippers are soooo important. People need to know that a ward is more than a group of people you go to church with. A ward is a family. There is a promise in our mission, and I'm sure it's a universal promise as well, that if we have every set lesson in a member's home, we'll double our baptisms. Which is totally true! And it's not just true for people investigating the church, but for members too. If you see someone at church you don't recognize, then go introduce yourself! Make a new friend, we can never have too many friends. You never know what a simple hello could do for someone.

Well most p-days we just go to the stake center and play basketball, write letters and email. But sometimes we go to this place called Scandia, it's kinda like an arcade place that has go-karts, laser tag, and batting cages. We haven't been there in a while. There's definitely a lot more to do here than in Crescent City.

Way to go mom! Good job making friends. And all it took was food, I mean that's how you won me over.

I'm sooo excited for Mother's Day! Can't wait to Skype home to the family! Youth of the world! Hearken unto my voice! Love thy mothers! It's actually a commandment! You are literally obligated to do so. Isn't that neat? I miss my mom so much. I appreciated her when I was home, but not to the extent I do now! She had to take care of me, not to mention tolerate me, for 18 years! That's a tall order! Happy early Mother's Day everyone! I love you, Mom!

Love Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, April 21, 2014

#Because of Him and Easter

Me and Elder Stoddard

Happy Easter everyone!

My Easter was really good! If any of you haven't had the opportunity to watch the "Because of Him" video at I highly suggest you do it. 

Yesterday there was a Easter program that the choir has been rehearsing every week to sing in. The missionaries had actually been attending all the practices but we missed the last one and apparently they made some really big changes so they invited us not to participate.....which was fine by me, because it sounded a lot better than it would've if I had joined in! There were also some really great talks given in Sacrament meeting. One of the talks was given by Brother Clark, who, when it comes to church-related doctrine, is probably the smartest man in all of California. His calling is actually to go to Salt Lake City for one week every month and just to study. That's all he does the entire week - just study the gospel. I do laundry at his house on Mondays, which is where I am right now as I write this, and looking around his house, his book collection is substantial, to say the least. But I digress. So Brother Clark gave a talk about Christ's resurrection (of course) and he did such a good job. I felt like I was at General Conference again. And what made it even more exciting is that one of our less actives, S****** R******, who hasn't been to church in over a year, was able to make it. Also our investigator, E***** A******, came too. Although she's pretty regular about coming to church, it was an exceptionally good Sabbath for her to attend church because the talks and the lessons we had that day were pretty much everything she needed to hear. In Gospel Principles the lesson was on the priesthood organization, which is something she needs to understand. Last week I taught the class about the priesthood overall. I'm quite proud of myself (in the most humble and modest way possible of course) - I've gotten much better at teaching since I've been on my mission. When I taught the lesson last week I had zero preparation of what I was going to say and talk about. At most, I just read over the lesson plan but I didn't think of what I was going to say - I just dove right in and started teaching. And of course there were things I could've done better but overall I think I did a really good job. I am certainly a lot more confident in my teaching then at the beginning of my mission. Oh there I go again, digressing and whatnot. I do apologize. Well to top it off, we had dinner with the Graham family, which is the family I watched conference with. I adore the Graham's. They are one of my favorite families here! They take good care of us. They gave us little Easter gift baskets, like missionaries need to eat any more junk food... But I've been able to keep the weight off - jogging every morning and the occasional P90x really helps keep me in good shape.

Well the new missionaries came in this last week. Elder Smith is Elder Reece's replacement and Elder Makoni's new companion. He's a cool guy, and I like him. He's almost dead though. He's done with his mission in August, so it's closing in. He might be getting a little trunky, but so far he's focusing on the work. And we also have a new district leader. Elder Hurd replaced Elder Welch. I'm going to miss Elder Welch - he's been my favorite district leader so far, but he went to the Ukiah zone, so I'm not going to see much of him for a while. But Elder Hurd seems like a good guy. He's strict, and will throw-down in an instant, but he's a good guy. Also, Elder Walpole transferred in. He's one of the missionaries I came into the field with. He is 26 years old... good golly! But all the more power to him for coming out! And Elder Bettridge transferred in too. He was my first zone leader in the Eureka zone, and now he's my zone leader again! He's really funny and loves to have a good time, though he is a hard worker. As opposed to his companion, Elder Merriam who is also a hard worker, but he's also very serious about it. He wants to get stuff done. This is actually his last transfer, and so far no trunky symptoms, at least not that I've seen. He's trying to go out strong. It'll make for an interesting companionship.

I've been learning a ton about the scriptures, and have had multiple opportunities to share what I know. I've had several conversations about the Bible this week, and luckily all of them consisted of stuff I actually knew about! So I put up a good illusion of knowing what I'm doing. A couple days ago Elder Kimball and I were talking with this elderly women and her daughter that we visit every now and then. Well the mother studies with the Jehovah Witnesses, so every time we go over she tries to prove to us that Jehovah is God. Well this last visit she was trying to show us in the Bible where it says that. And they have a ton of Bibles - they have a King James, Catholic, Jehovah Witness, and so on. I remembered something in John 8, which is where the women is taken in adultery and the people wanted to stone her, but Christ says to them that those of them who haven't made a mistake before, throw the first stone. Well the Jehovah Witnesses have completely omitted that from the Bible. That chapter starts at verse 12 for them. Well I showed that to her, and used the other Bibles for comparison and it got her thinking. She said she would ask the Witnesses she meets with about it. I was really glad I had remembered that. I'm also going to go to a Bible study with one of our investigators. His name is K*** N***** and he really loves everything we say, except when talk about the Book of Mormon. He doesn't believe that Christ ever was in the Americas. That's something we'll need to work on. I'm really nervous about the Bible study. All of those people know a lot more than me, so if they decide to bash then.... that'd be no good....

I was able to participate in an Eagle service project, where we picked up trash off side street next to a freeway. We managed to gather over 1000 lbs of trash and the occasional perplexed glance from oncoming traffic in the process. We supposedly have a big service project coming up later this week that takes place in Vallejo! It's a three-day project that includes the Fairfield and Vallejo zones so they are going send us over in shifts. I have no idea what we're doing but I'm really excited about it!

We are still working on our investigators. E**** is sooo close to baptism! She was able to attend a double baptism in a another ward with us and she said she liked it. One of the people who was baptized was a women in her 90's. I've never seen that before! Everyone was a little more nervous than excited when she went under.... It was so great Elisa was able to make it, and things started making sense to her, like the importance of the sacrament (she's an ex-Jehovah's Witness and their sacrament service are a little different than ours... I hope you all don't think I'm just picking on the JWs cause I'm not, I promise!) So the baptism was really good for her because things started to click and make sense.

Well everyone, remember our Savior, in all times and in all places. Remember what He went through for us, and most importantly remember why He did. I know that our redeemer, Jesus Christ, lived and died for us. I also know that He lived again, and that He broke the bands of death. And Because of Him, so will we. #BecauseofHim

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Staying in Fairfield and the Bible

Me and Elder Reece

Hey Mom!

Yes! Finally! It took you guys forever to settle in - jeez! It took forever to finally make the move from Kansas to Utah! But we finally made it!

Well transfers are occurring as of now. I'm staying in Fairfield with Elder Kimball, which might be tough. The two of us aren't always the best of friends but I guess I still have something to learn from him, perhaps tolerance. I just hope this next transfer is my last in Fairfield, primarily because it's about to get HOT here. Don't want to be here for that! I would've liked to be in Eureka zone right now. My MTC comp, Elder Christensen, and my man Elder Hansen are there now, and I covet everyone else there because they get to serve around them! I love those two! I've hardly been able to see them since the MTC! Right now I'm in a trio with Elder Makoni, my Tongan brother. It's only for a couple of days till his new companion gets here. His last one, Elder Reece, died this transfer. By died I mean he went home. He was so trunky, he was ready to go home and everyone knew it. I hope to avoid being that eager to leave when I'm dying.

Well this week has mainly been a transfer week. The anticipation, people leaving, going home, all the goodbyes. So that was what this week mainly was. But we did have some sweet lessons. We taught a new investigator and we did a little on how to begin teaching. We just started off trying to make him feel comfortable. It went really well. We talked a lot about the Bible. I was surprised at how much I knew about the Bible. Those institute manuals work wonders. Earlier that day we had a contact that we talked to about the Bible, and he asked us questions about the creation and I just happened to answer them first before Elder Kimball. Luckily I knew them. But Elder Kimball didn't understand the questions so he looked confused and the guy threw down on him. He kept telling him that he doesn't understand God's word and he needs to study more. He told me that he liked me. Even though he was a little crazy, I still was kinda flattered. But mainly we've just been doing a lot of contacting and tracting - just trying to find people. We got a few referrals for other companionships but we haven't really found any potentials for us though. But some sisters got us a few referrals so we'll go over and see them later.

Oh my gosh... A shooting in Overland Park? Nothing bad ever happens in Overland Park! I mean c'mon, It's Overland Park! That's really crazy. Things are pretty bad here but we don't need a ton of street smarts. Just don't bother people on Dana Drive. But even then, they know who we are and don't care if we give them a card with Christ on it. So it's not that bad.

Well this week is a bit of a short one since it's just all messed up with transfers but things will slow down again next week and it'll get back to normal. I love you, mom! Looking forward to the Skype home on Mother's Day! Till then just try to endure.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, April 7, 2014

Conference and Defending the Faith

Bonjour tout le monde!

So I had a pretty busy week! My mission, as most of you know, has a culture of high expectations, which means much more is expected of us. My mission president wants us to contact 20 people, have 3 lessons, and one baptismal invitation a day. Well, this can be very hard to accomplish sometimes, especially in my area. My area is pretty dead for the most part. In the Cordelia area, it's a ghost town, and there's never anyone on the streets or home during the day... It's kinda ominous. So getting contacts can be hard sometimes, and we only have 3 investigators, so there are some days we don't even have lessons. But this week we decided to go all out and spend a lot of time finding people. So on WednesdayThursday and Friday we were tracting and contacting and we contacted at least 21 people each day. We were pretty proud of ourselves, (and by proud I mean in the most humble and gracious way of course.) We found quite a few referrals for other areas but we didn't really find people when we contacted in our area, so it was just a day of helping other companionships.

Well one of the days we were contacting, Elder Kimball's friend, Korbin, who is going on a mission soon, messaged him on Facebook and told him he's in Cali for spring break and decided to come see him... So he did. It was super weird. Elder Kimball told them that they shouldn't come, but they did anyways. They found us while we were out contacting and we started talking to them. I had Skyped with Korbin's family my first Sunday here, so I actually knew them a little.. It must have been really weird for Elder kimball, after being out for 7 months, seeing so many familiar faces. I thought it was funny that while we were talking to them, the Bing street maps car drove by and recorded the experience. (Mom you can look on Bing maps and in Cordelia do the street view on Oakwood Dr and you can see the church I go to and if you go further up the street see if you can find me with a group of people. We posed for the camera so we shouldn't be too hard to notice. Don't be too impressed with my soap boxing because those are all members.)

Well I've had some awesome lessons this week! We taught A*****, one of my 'gators, about the BoM. We read the first chapter of Nephi and it really helped her understand the purpose of another testament of Jesus Christ. She's a guaranteed baptism - she's so solid. I also had a lesson with D*** R****, our other solid 'gator. We taught her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She loved everything we taught, but she's not ready for baptism yet, She said she wants to "be in love with the Gospel" before she makes that commitment, which is good that she isn't taking it lightly. She told us she's really excited to get the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that's definitely a good sign. She was the one that watch the general women's meeting and she loved the togetherness and sisterhood that she saw there. I think she also watched conference. We invited her many times to do so and she was really excited about it but I haven't heard if she was able to watch it or not. I'm sure she did though. She LOVES learning more about the church.

Well I thought conference was awesome! I think the Ordain Women protesting group is hilarious. Men and women each have equal, yet different responsibilities. Women protesting and demanding the prophet give them men's responsibilities is like us protesting to be able to give birth... It's just not going to happen. Well the conference talks were so good. I loved how there was a bit of a theme of defending our faith and standing up for what we believe in. As missionaries we do that all the time. President Monson's talk on courage reminds me of his talk 'Dare to stand alone'. I love that one! We are going to be persecuted for what we believe in. The truth is always going to be rejected, and those who speak it will be persecuted with it. The best example of this is Jesus Christ, who never spoke an ill word, who was the epitome of truth and righteousness and yet he was still rejected, as well as all those who followed him. So when we are ridiculed and criticized for our beliefs, we have to have the courage to stand alone and defend our faith! But luckily, we are never are alone. Since Christ suffered for us by himself, we don't have to go through the hardships of earth life alone! I find great comfort from this.

Well it's hard to believe that I'm almost done with this transfer. I get transfer doctrine on Friday, so I might get a new companion. I burn though those pretty quickly - at least that's the pattern so far, so I might have somebody new. We'll see what happens. There has been some crazy stuff happening in Fairfield. There was a double shooting earlier in the week, not far from where I live. And I just so happen to live on one of the most ghetto streets in the area. Lots of bad stuff happens here even though you wouldn't think that just from looking at it. But I did see someone get arrested in front of my apartments the other day. Whenever I tell people where we live they always say the same thing, telling us to be careful and how they can't believe we were put there. So that's a little disconcerting. Well, I haven't given any talks yet and I can't really think of any pictures to send home this week but I'll keep pictures in mind for next week. And by next week I should have a few pictures to send home since Elder Kimball might be leaving so I'll definitely have some by then. Next Monday I'll know what's happening.

I just want to say I have the best job in the world and the best mom in the world. I'm feeling pretty blessed right now.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis