Monday, May 26, 2014

Transfers and a New Companion

The Graham family. One of my FAVORITES. Spent General Conference, Easter, and Mother's Day with them! 
Hey everyone!

Well, I had a great week! We set 2 baptismal dates in one day with our investigators. We set one with E***** and M***** and it's going so well with them. Both the dates are for June 14th. E***** has been having some minor difficulties lately, and she's been struggling a little, but she is working through it and she's not letting it stop her. She even recognizes that Satan is going to hit her the hardest when she's just about to reach her spiritual high point and when she's closest to the truth. But like I said, she's powering through it and she has a testimony so she's not quitting! Go E*****!! And M**** is just breezing through, he's having no problems at all! Unfortunately we've just recently discovered his age and will have to pass him along to the Young Single Adult Elders since he may or may not fit in that category... sigh... I really want to keep him! In a perfect world I could just ignorantly pouch their investigator and no one would be the wiser! He's such a awesome guy, but you know what they say: "If you love something let it go, if they love you they will come back," or something sappy like that. But we have definitely been seeing some success lately. We have been working really hard these last two weeks. It's crazy how much we've been tracting so much! But transfers are almost over so we're going hard as Moses! 

Speaking of transfers, we got doctrine on Friday. I'm staying here in Fairfield and Elder Kimball is going to Woodland. My new companion.... his name is Elder Gasu (the G is pronounced as an N), and he is a 6'4, 300 lb Samoan, so this will be interesting. He is one of Elder Kimball's previous companions so he's been telling me a lot about him, plus I've heard about him throughout my mission. This could go either way... I could either love this next transfer or not so much.... We'll see what happens! But as one would expect from the description given, this boy eats a lot... so my ward is in for a surprise! Oh, but something I'm really excited for is who is replacing Elder Makoni in the other companionship in my ward. Elder Call!! My first district leader! Hooray! I'm so excited. He was also my MTC companion's (Elder Christensen) follow-up trainer, so we'll have that to talk about too. Mom, in case you need a little more back ground on who Elder Call is, please refer to your Skype profile picture. That's Elder Call. So I'm really excited to serve in the same ward as him. We also have two greenies coming into our zone, in fact both them are going to be in my district. It reminds me when I was green and fresh of the plane - it actually wasn't that long ago so it's not too hard to remember. I'll do my best to be the best influence I can be on them. I know it can be hard being new on the mission, luckily it wasn't too hard for me, but I know it can be really difficult for most so I will make them feel welcome!

Well, this week has been pretty busy. I went on exchanges with Elder Merriam, my Zone Leader, on Tuesday. I was his last exchange! He is going home this transfer and will probably be on a plane heading for Utah tomorrow. I'm going to miss that guy. I look at him and see him going home, and think how far away stepping foot on that plane home is (not that I'm overly eager to be home) and think thats a long ways away, but then I think that I've already been out 6 months and then that blows my mind! Sometimes it's hard to think I've already been out for 1/4 of my mission... it really is mind boggling for me.

Well other than transfers there's not a whole lot going on. Sorry my emails haven't been very good lately. I feel like I have less and less time to email home. I feel so rushed all the time. It's something I'll work on. But I love you and I appreciate all the support I get! It definitely makes things easier.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

P.S. Good luck in Vancouver, Elder Pace! WEST COAST KILLIN!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mountain Biking and a Missionary Farewell

Hey Mom,

Well Fairfield is pretty on and off when it comes to the weather. One week it will be in the 90's and the next it will be in the low 70's. I need some consistency! Tracting in 90 degree weather is truly dreadful, and trust me I've been doing plenty of that. Tracting has gotten so much easier for me - I use to be terrified of knocking on a random persons' doors and trying to share the gospel with them, but after doing it for 2 full transfers, it's not a big deal anymore. Turns out, I don't care if people don't like me, or if the sign says 'no soliciting', I'd rather do what I know makes Heavenly Father happy, and not a dinky plastic sign.

Well, on Monday we went mountain biking! I borrowed my bike from one of our members, Brother Amado (he is dating and fellowshipping my investigator, E******). It was so much fun - at least the downhill part was. On the way up was a pain, and we did a lot of walking our bikes, but when we got to the top and started our way down we were soaring! I'm surprised I didn't crash and die! We were taking corners pretty fast. I didn't even know I was good at mountain biking, which can be measured by leaving the trail unharmed. So I was pretty pleased.

There was also an event in Fairfield where police officers from all over Northern California come and compete in bike competitions. It was so cool to watch. We heard all the commotion from our apartment so we had to check it out. There were a ton of cops there going through obstacle courses on Harleys, BMW's, Kawasaki's - you name it. There was also a lot of other stuff going on like canine unit demonstrations and tons of police vehicles that you can go in and check out,(which explains the picture of me sitting in the back of a police vehicle - I couldn't resist getting a picture). Of course we used the police event as an excuse to talk to people, but to be perfectly honest, we mainly wanted to be there to watch.

Well, we had some really great discussions this week. One of them was with our investigator M****. He understands everything we teach him! It's awesome - he is a sponge and absorbs everything. He understands the Book of Mormon and says it makes so much sense to him when we read it with him. When we give him the pamphlets to read, he reads them before we visit him again. He reads over it and understands it so well, and he has so many questions and comments when we come back. So it's really nice to see that he reads and retains what he learns. We invited him to be baptized and he wants to and is excited to be, so we are going to set a date with him next time we see him. We also had a really good lesson with E**** on Wednesday and we resolved a lot of her concerns. Most of them pertained to her mom who passed away when she was younger. She is really concerned about her, and she wants her mom to be saved too. When we told her she could be baptized for her mom she was really interested and excited to hear that. She really wants to be baptized for her. She also really likes the fellowshipping and how friendly the ward is. It's very different from her church, that barely acknowledges the fact that she isn't coming to their church anymore. It just goes to show how important ward fellowshipping is. By the time the lesson was over, after she had prayed for the first time, she was asking us when she could be baptized. It was so great! I was on a cloud the whole lesson! So she's going to think about it more and we will set a date next time we see her.

Elder Kimball and I went to an after party for a missionary farewell yesterday. We were invited because there were nonmember neighbors that were also there, so we talked with them for most of the dinner. Sister Bennion gave a really good talk during sacrament meeting, but It was a little condensed because her father, who spoke before her, went over by 20 minutes. The bishop had to step up and tell him to wrap it up. It was super funny because Brother Bennion really doesn't care what people think, so he ignored him and kept going!! He's so funny. The whole thing reminded me of my farewell. That feels so long ago! But it's only been six months. It's crazy to think how quick time is flying by. Well Sister Bennion is leaving Wednesday to head to the MTC and from there she will go to the Phoenix Arizona mission! I love going to farewells! I get to re-experience the excitement I felt when I was getting ready to leave for the MTC.

Thanks for sending the package, Mom! Did you also send Grandpa's institute notes or is that coming later? If you send them later can you also include the institute manuals with them? I'd like to have paper copies of them as well, but I'm not sure where to get them here.

Well, transfers are almost here and we find out what is happening on Friday. It's likely I'll stay here and get a new companion, but you never know. Sorry this email is a little bit shorter, but I find myself with less and less time to email each week! Love you all.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Oakland Temple and Adam and Eve

Happy Mother's Day to everyone! I hope everyone's Mother's Day was as good as mine! It was so great to Skype home to my family! It feels like time has just flown by since I've left, I don't feel like I've been gone for as long as I have been.

Well, my birthday felt like a normal day. I had to keep reminding myself that it was my birthday! It was a pretty uneventful P-day and all we did was shop and walk around the mall. It was our "no fun" p-day. We went to the temple this week and the mission rule is that you can't use the P-day before going to the temple for recreational purposes. So no basketball or anything like that. We ended up just walking around the mall all day. That was kind of dreadful. We spent 45 mins in a hat store.... Who needs to look at hat's for 45 mins!? But I was overruled by my companion and the other two Elders we were shopping with. C'est la vie.

Elder Kimball and I went to the bible study again and we started talking to these three guys that were there, named Chancy, Nick and Harry, and I got into a conversation with them. We started talking to them about Adam and Eve, and their role, and our life on Earth. They think that Adam and Eve could've stayed in the garden forever and we could've been there in paradise forever. But that's not true! We're here to learn and gain experiences! There was no learning or experiences in the Garden of Eden. Plus it's also important to recognize that they couldn't have had kids there, so if they stayed there then we wouldn't be here! We got into a discussion about that and we threw some scriptures at each other. It'd be nice if they believed in the Book of Mormon, then it be so much easier to teach them! I showed them Isaiah 29 and told them it's talking about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, but of course they have a different interpretation of it. We set up a time to come by their house and talk with them some more, so that will be interesting.

Well we had a great lesson with one of our newer investigators, M**** Z******. He is so golden. He reads what we give him, and remembers it for the next time we come back and talk about it. We've been reading the Book of Mormon with him, (which is another thing he's been reading on his own time,) and he really likes it. He makes comments about it, things that stand out to him in it. For example, he commented on how Nephi, being the younger brother, had to stand up to his older brothers and keep them in line and how hard that must've been for him to do. So I was happy to see that not only does he love reading the the Book of Mormon, but he also defends it when he talks to his mom about it. He tells her that we do believe in the bible, how they complement each other, and how much easier the Book of Mormon is to understand. We then invited him to be baptized and without hesitation he gave us a firm yes. We plan on setting a date with him next time we visit with him. Needless to say, I'm pretty psyched!!

Like I said earlier, we went to the Oakland Temple and it was PACKED. There were three different missions and five zones from our mission there. I have no idea how we managed to fit. A lot of them weren't supposed to be there - either they were late for their actual appointment or they were early. I can proudly say that we were there at the time we were suppose to be there. We were legitimate! I took a lot more pictures on my camera so I'll send those home later. I always love going to the temple. Luckily I have three temples that my mission goes to!

Well, I love my Mom, I love my family and I love my friends. I appreciate all of the support you have given me while I've been on my mission.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, May 5, 2014

Being Spit Upon and Splits

Hello everyone!

So a lot happened this week... And it's only uphill from here! We have so much going on next week it's ridiculous, I think we have like two normal work days. We have a zone meeting, a temple trip and Mother's Day - all sorts of stuff going on.

Well, this last week has been super interesting for contacting. Let me tell you all a little story of my worst contact ever. I can laugh about it now, but at the time it was immensely unfortunate. Well on Monday night of last week I was contacting with Elder Kimball around 8 pm. We didn't have any appointments that night so we were trying to get our 20 contacts. We ran into this crazy women we see every now and then. It was like the third time we've seen her and whenever we run into her she starts yelling at us, "WHERE'S YOUR LITERATURE TODAY!? WHAT DO YOU GOT FOR ME!? WHERE'S YOUR D&C? WHERE'S YOUR PEARL!?" And every time we contact her, (well more like she contacts us,) she takes our Book of Mormons. She does this whenever she sees missionaries so she's probably snagged quite a few by now. So it was the first time I've ever hidden a BoM from a contact. We started playing dumb, asking her if she still had the last ones she took and then she started making all these weird hand gestures. Then she walked away. When we noticed there was no body where we were walking we decided to turn around and try a different way. So we were walking in the same direction as the aforementioned crazy women. Well she stopped at a cross walk and waited for us to catch up to her then she walked over to me and got right in my face. She told me the devil was calling me, and started speaking in tongues (my definition of speaking in tongues is if it's not English and it's not Spanish, then it must be in tongues). So she started speaking in a language I didn't recognize and said I haven't figured it out yet, then we had a staring competition for five seconds and she proceeded to spit in my face! She then promptly fled into the night... I just stood there for a little while.... Trying to figure out what had just happened. The worst part is she may be a smoker. Regardless, she does not brush her teeth, cause it smelled awful. So I went home and scrubbed my face repeatedly.

Well now that you're all thoughly grossed out, let me share a highlight from my contacting this week.

Friday night I went on exchanges with my district leader, Elder Hurd, and we also decided to contact in the same area the "unfortunate incident", as it now shall be called, occurred. But the only crazy women we ran into was someone who is mad at the church, so she just ranted for a while and went on her merry way. After that we contacted this man named Devon, who told us that he's a member of the church, but he's having a rough time right now and is currently homeless. So we brought him to the nearest church building which happened to be just a few blocks away. When we got there he asked for a blessing, because he's been pretty sick lately and he was just in a really bad place at the time. So we gave him a blessing right there behind the church. The spirit was really strong afterward. And it was such a tender mercy that we found him because I had other plans that night that fell through and I couldn't think of what else to do other than contact. So I know we were led there. After that we walked around till 9:30 looking for the mission home for people who don't have a place to sleep at night. We managed to find it after much needed directions from an ambulance driver and got him a place to stay. It was a great feeling to help him out in his time of need. Elder Hurd is going to contact the Fairfield 3rd Elders, whose bishop is in charge of handling these situations. I hope everything works out alright for him.

Something else that happened was that we got to go on splits with the priests. It was cool we each got a priest and also a member to drive us to our appointments. We pretty much just had home teaching appointments to go to. I went with a teacher actually, whose name was D****** and he's a little on the quite side. It was a really fun visit and I tried my best to keep it lively and have fun with it. D****** was quiet and didn't say much (not that I needed him to, I just really was hoping he was enjoying himself,) but after we met back at the church he told Elder Kimball that he had a lot of fun - much more than he thought he would. Success! That was what I had hoped to accomplish with that visit. If I managed to help him decide to go on a mission, even a little, then I'm happy with that!

Well while I was on exchanges with Elder Hurd we went to a funeral service for a member in Cordelia 1st ward, whose name was Barbra Gillespie. It was one of the happiest funerals one could go to. People laughed more than they cried. I never got to meet her but from what her family said about her she is an incredibly kind and loving person. Much was said on how Christ-like and wonderful she was. People also talked a lot about what kind of grandmother and mother she was to her family, and it got me thinking (even more than I already have been lately) about my mom. So I couldn't help but get up and bare my testimony yesterday on the very topic of mothers. On an unrelated topic, our dinner appointments have skyrocketed in the last 24 hours! Just kidding, but a lot of women in my ward came up and thanked me for my testimony, so I managed to touch somebody with my testimony!

Well unfortunately our investigator, E**** is feeling a little bit pressured and wants to slow down with lessons, which kinda bums me out. But she stills wants to learn about and understand the Book of Mormon, so that's good. Our plan is to just read the Book of Mormon with her and explain as we go, taking it slowly so she doesn't feel pressured. We haven't been able to see our other investigator D*** lately which really stinks, but we'll catch her sooner or later. I really hope she'll be able to make it Friday.

Well, sorry it took me so long to get this emailed! I spent the whole day walking around the mall, watching Elder Kimball browse stores. But c'est la vie. Well I'm so excited for this week! I hope everyone's as excited as I am! I love you all!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis