Monday, June 30, 2014

Cleaning Up the Neighborhood and a Blitz

Hi Everyone!

So I have one more week of this transfer.... how crazy is that...? This is by far the fastest transfer ever. I feel like I just sent the email home talking about my new companion, Elder Gasu. Well I find outon Friday if I'm staying or not, which I'm really excited about. I have really mixed feeling about transfers. I want to stay and I want to go. I want to go to a new area and meet new people but I'm definitely going to miss the people I've met here. There is a very good chance I'm leaving but my Zone Leader, Elder Johnson, foreshadowed that I might stay. They are trying to talk to president and get as many missionaries to stay here as possible. So who knows what will happen. I'm a little worried about where I would go if I did transfer... I've had two great areas so I figure I'm in for a rough area soon.

So Elder Gasu and I hosted a Blitz on Saturday which, by the way, I'm never going to do again. It is so much work and super irritating to organize. A blitz is when the entire zone goes to one area and does work there for an hour. We had everyone come to our area and gave them all assignments and sent them on their way. But we kept forgetting that a lot of people in our zone can't drive and we put a lot of them together, so we had to make some changes along the way. Not to mention many were late to it and many had to leave early so it was a pretty complicated and tiresome process. On the bright side, we got a lot of work done from it and it definitely helped our area which is struggling right now. Finding people is pretty difficult here but we make do with the cards we're dealt, and we have fun while doing it.

Of course we had more service this week! Most of the zone helped do some community clean up. Funny part is we were cleaning up Dana street. That's my street! It's about time we made my ghetto all pretty and presentable. It's funny, before we started, all the other volunteers were a little nervous about going there and they were talking about how bad the street is. Psh, I see that place all the time, that's my home away from home. I really haven't seen anything bad happen there. It's not as dangerous as people say. They were worried about finding guns and syringes on the ground, but just like any other neighborhood, the most dangerous thing we found lying around were cigarette butts. Then we had a barbecue and someone went around knocking on all the doors inviting people to come out and join the party, so we had a lot of people come out and join in the merriment.

Well there are some crazy things happening at home. The whole Ordain Women scandal is getting ridiculous. Children, Kate Kelly is not a role model. I think it's interesting that the First Presidency had to come out with a statement specifically directed to her group.

It's weird to see how much happens in the world while my life is on pause. One of my friends is leaning towards going on a mission while another is truly struggling and just feels completely alone. It's hard to be away from everything that is happening back home, but I know what's important is what I'm doing now. All that stuff can wait till I get home. I'm grateful to be here and I wouldn't trade it for anything, despite how hard it may be sometimes. I know Heavenly Father is proud of my service, and of all who decide to labor in his vineyard. That knowledge is what keeps me going even through the less than desirable moments.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Service and Nostalgia

Hello family!

So I've had a pretty eventful week. I've found that this transfer has been a transfer of service, we do quite a lot of it. We did a lot before but now Elder Gasu and I have it almost everyday! Which is good, I love service, but that's what it feels like the theme of this transfer has become. Elder Gasu, the other Elders and I participated in an emergency move, that we found out about from our Bishop 30 minutes before it happened. Luckily we were really close by when we were called so we were able to jump in and start helping. That was a two day project, but we were able to get everything out of their old house and into storage. They were pretty grateful, even though they had been a little reluctant at first to ask for help. Once they realized they couldn't do it alone, they were happy to have us there.

The youth in this stake and in the Woodland and Vacaville stakes had a dance festival called "Brave" on Saturday as a part of their Youth Conference. To paint a picture of what it looked like, it's a lot like what the youth did for the temple dedication of the Kansas-Missouri temple. They would perform a dance and then in between routines they would show a video of someone bearing their testimony about the Gospel, or how they were able to share the gospel with someone. They've been practicing the dances for months and they made their own outfits for it too, which I attempted to assist with. I can go up and knock at random houses and talk about God, but I'm virtually useless when a skirt needs to be sewn. But I was able to be more helpful at the festival! Elder Gasu and I only were able to see the dress rehearsal because the rest of the time we were in the back helping make the food for the after party. I figured that I've been to enough youth activities where the members graciously provided food, not to mention being fed all the time on my mission, and it was time to return the favor. So we were in the back making cheeseburgers and hotdogs while they dancing. Then afterward there was a pool party that everyone went to, (everyone except for the missionaries of course, that wouldn't be good.) It was a really successful event, and there were a lot of non-members there who really enjoyed it. Plus the youth had fun, so that's pretty important too. It was really weird being there because I felt like I should have been dancing with them! Sometimes I forget I'm not classified as a youth anymore. Everyone there seemed to agree with me, since I was in service clothes people kept mistaking me for a dancer and telling me to go certain places or to get dressed since my dance was coming up. Then they would see the name tag and apologize but I thought it was pretty funny. Even though I only saw a small piece of their youth conference this year, I can tell it was awesome. It made me a little nostalgic of when I went to youth activities like that, and it wasn't even that long ago! All I can do now is help other people be able to enjoy such activities. Mom, you would be proud of me, especially with the calling you have now, because I helped (the spirit) convince a less-active Mia Maid in our ward to go to Girls Camp this year. So at least I can help other people enjoy such activities while they still can!

So something that was not so good that happened this week is my church building was burglarized! Someone broke in at the beginning of this week and took all the TV's and the router, so that means no more wifi, (and as an online missionary, we took quite a blow there.) I think the most disappointing part about it is that all the Books of Mormon were untouched...Really guy?!! You are going to break in and take everything in sight but the Word of God isn't worth making a second trip to the car?! Ridiculous! I think our Bishop put it best when he said, "This person broke into a church and he saw pictures of Jesus everywhere and then still took everything? What kind of person does that?!"

Well I can't believe my time in this ward is almost up. I'm on my 5th week in the transfer, (which came waaay to fast) and this is my 3rd transfer here, so it's more likely than not I'll transfer out to a new area. Staying here for a 4th is pretty uncommon, but there are some missionaries in our zone that are on their 4th, so who knows. I'm seriously going to miss this ward. I love everyone here so much! From the Bishop all the way to Primary, I love all the members here. That's the hard part about missionary life - getting super attached with a ward just to leave it. I know there are still good things to come, but it's still hard to leave a missionary-minded ward like this. I have developed a friendship with just about every family in this ward. I even have a different handshake with almost all the youth here! It's going to be tough to move on but I know I'll meet more great people in my next area! I'm so grateful to have been able to serve in this ward and to serve my mission here! #CASRM #Cordelia2nd #loveyouall


Monday, June 16, 2014

Fathers' Day and a Greenie

Elder Ellis and Gianni - November 2014

Happy Father's Day Gianni! I love you and miss you. I appreciate the example you've been to me and support you have shown me. I'm grateful you came into our lives and I'm proud to call you my dad.

Now that I got the sentimental stuff out of the way I can get on with the rest of the letter! Well I very much enjoyed my Fathers' Day! We had only half a lesson in Elders Quorum and then went and had ice cream sundaes. Although I am most certainly not a father, since I have been set apart to a higher calling of a missionary I have certain Keys that I hold that grant me access to delicious frozen treats. Then to top off the night, I had dinner with my favorite fam, the Grahams! They are so funny and they always sign up to feed us on holidays. Easter, Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, and they even had us over for General Conference! Elder Gasu and I wanted to do something for Brother Graham for Fathers' Day, since the family is always so good to us, so we made him a card and I gave him one of my ties that, after consulting with Sister Graham, said he would like. Elder Gasu is quite artistic, and is very good at graffiti art, so he made a really cool card with their name graffiti-ed on it. We also volunteered to do the dishes with their kids so they could relax, which doesn't happen much. Well, he loved the gift and they greatly appreciated the service so I feel quite accomplished.

So we had an exciting week. I've had two Seventies come and visit us in the last week! We had a half mission conference and Elder Falabella of the Quorum of the Seventies came and told us we are bad missionaries because we aren't getting any baptisms. Well, he wasn't that direct about it but that's more or less what he said to us. He told us that we can get more baptisms by helping turn our converts into missionaries. He gave us the example in the scriptures how Alma converted King Lamoni, who then went on to share the gospel with many people. It was a good talk but what made it even better is that he didn't call anyone to come up to share the talks we were suppose to prepare like we thought he was going to. I thought for sure he was going to call on me since we all went up one by one and introduced ourselves to him. When he got to me he asked me if i was related to the Elder Ellis in the Quorum of the Seventy, which was the exact same way I was picked out to teach the restoration to the congregation in my first Stake Conference. So that mildly concerned me -  if I'm asked to speak I'll do it, but if I can avoid looking like a fool in front of a great multitude of people, that would be preferable. But instead of having people come up and speak he just asked people to raise their hands to share something they learned from reading the scriptures about Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. Good thing too, because I accidentally grabbed a note a little girl wrote me instead of my talk, so had he called on me I would have had to gone by the spirit and winged it! Since half the mission was there I was able to see a lot of people I've been able to serve with or around. I saw Elder Kimball and Elder Haynie and a lot of other missionaries I was happy to see. Elder Haynie brought me tidings of great sorrow, because after I left Crescent City, Bro. D******, who was my very first lesson and who had a baptismal date by the time I left, started smoking again. I was bummed to hear that! I love the D****** family and was sad to hear that they are still struggling. On the bright side, one out of three of my investigators with a date got baptized! For those of you who can remember all the way back to my first letters home, K****** C*****, who was one of my first investigators was baptized! This brought me great joy to hear.

Something else that was interesting was I went on exchanges with Elder Bishop, who is one of the brand new missionaries that was assigned to Fairfield this last transfer. It reminded me a lot of when I first got in the mission and went on my first exchange. Well since we were in my area and we didn't have any appointments planned, we spent most of the day contacting. And frankly, I learned I'm a lot better at contacting than I thought, since I was the only one who did any contacting that day. Elder Bishop was silent whenever we went up to talk to people, which is understandable since he's new, but it just pushed me to be better at contacting. Especially since I wanted to be a good example for the greenie so I tried even harder to talk to everyone we saw. Id say it helped prepare me a little for being in charge, since this was the first time I was paired with a missionary that was less experienced than me. We had a fun time together.

Well, I just wanted to wrap things up with my testimony on fathers. Although I am not a father, I have seen the importance of them from a different viewpoint in my life. I know how needed they are, and how much it blesses a family to have a worthy priesthood holder in it. I also know that we have a Father in Heaven, and I know that He loves all his children. He wants us to be happy and to meet all His expectations He has for us. Our Heavenly Father wants all of us to someday return to Him, and He will be waiting with open arms. That is why I am in California today, to share this message with people and help them change so they can accomplish this ultimate goal. I know this work is important and the blessings that come with it are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stake Conference and Being Bold

Hey everyone!

Stake Conference was this week, and needless to say, it was spectacular! Elder Bowen from the Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke at conference, that was pretty cool! If I remember correctly he speaks in the Mormon Message "Reclaimed." Well he gave an Awesome talk on missionary work. He actually made it more of a discussion, so he asked questions for the congregation to answer and he also answered questions. Our investigator, E*****, was able to make it there too! She has been hearing everything she needs to hear lately. It's been working out perfectly! We'll just be sitting in Gospel Principles class or in Sacrament meeting and someone will say something that addresses one of her concerns perfectly. Well I really enjoyed Stake Conference. We had some awesome speakers. It was so much better than my first Stake Conference when I got called up on the spot to teach the first lesson in front of EVERYONE! That was a less than desirable situation. 

Well I have some unfortunate news about E**** - she doesn't want to get baptized till September! That really bums me out!! I won't even be in Fairfield for that long! The reason she wants to hold off for that long is because she wants her boyfriend, Brother A******, to baptize her. Which is great, that's exactly what I want to happen, but as of right now he's not ready to do so. It's going to take him a couple of months before he can. So I'm not going to be able to be at the baptism! This keeps happening to me. I had 3 baptisms coming up in Crescent City, one of them was Tony Douglas who was my very first lesson on my mission. So I would have really liked to have been there for that! I mean it's not really about me.....what's important is that they do get baptized, but I wish I could stick around long enough to actually be there for them! Though the good news is that we're going to start teaching our investigator, D*** R*****, again. We haven't been able to teach her in a long time since she injured her back, and she wasn't in any shape to sit down for a lesson. Now that she's feeling better we are going to start teaching her again.

So working with Elder Gasu is going really well. Really the only problem is that he sleeps a lot, and doesn't always want to work. It can be hard to stay motivated to work when I have to drag someone with me, but that's really the only problem in the companionship. He is really good at contacting, and he makes it a lot of fun. He is a lot more bold than Elder Kimball is. We have a goal for this transfer to invite more people to be baptized in contacts. We don't really have a number, I guess it's just overall to extend more invites. We have a plan to go up to a group of people and say "Are y'all talking about baptism over here?! You all want to be baptized don't you? We can help you with that." We'll see what happens there! We are counseled that we need to be a lot more bold, and it doesn't get more bold than that!

Well, it was a slow week, so not a lot happened. We have a half-mission conference coming up this week, with Elder Falabella coming to speak. We each have to have a 3-5 min talk prepared about Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah, just in case we are randomly called on to speak. This will also give me an opportunity to see a lot of people I know that I haven't seen in a while, so I'm pretty excited!

Well I love you all! I'm glad to hear that things are going well back home. 

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, June 2, 2014

A New Companion and Tracting a Rapper

Elder Ellis with Sage the Gemini, a rapper from Fairfield.
Elder Ellis and his new companion Elder Gasu.
Bonjour famille et les amis!

So this week has been simply awesome! Do you all know why…? Because Elder Gasu is the best! We have been having so much fun together! I was really nervous when I emailed last week because Elder Kimball, who used to be companions with him, told me a lot about him, and made it sound like it was going to be a rough transfer... He said that Elder Gasu would get here and take my stuff, sleep all the time, and snore like a grizzly bear, (just to name a few things,) and so far none of these things have been a problem. Well he does sleep a lot, but that's not really a big deal. Elder Gasu and I just have a lot of fun together, we always make sure we are having a good time while we work. He's so outgoing and he doesn't care what people think of him, which makes for good contacting. He's also a stellar teacher and he really knows how to teach simply so people can understand. He's been out for 14 months - he actually came out at the same time as my second companion Elder Haynie. I'm really liking this transfer.

So this week has mainly been me showing Elder Gasu around the area. Since I'm not driving I have to be able to direct this guy around all the time. So that's really helping me learn the area too, since I still don't know it very well. We've also been going around and introducing him to people in the area, like our members and investigators. So that's what this week has primarily been used for. BUT we did have quite an interesting experience on Saturday... So my first transfer here, one of the missionaries in my zone told me that a well-known rapper lives here in Fairfield, whose name is Sage the Gemini. Well Elder Kimball and I went and checked out his house, at least the house we were told he lived at, but we only looked at it, we didn't go see if he actually lived there. Well remember how I said Elder Gasu is outgoing? Yeah as soon as I told him Sage the Gemini MIGHT live there it was set in stone that we were going to go visit him. Elder Gasu loves Sage and was determined to meet him, so I agreed to go knock on his door. I mean what's the worst that can happen? If we're wrong then we just tract a random door, we do it all the time. So on Saturday we drove to his house and were sitting out front devising a plan. We agreed we would treat it like a normal tract and just introduce ourselves and talk to him like we would anyone other house in case he didn't actually live there. So we go up and knock. No answer. We knock again. No answer. Normally when knocking on doors we only knock twice and leave, but Elder Gasu was determined, so we did what missionaries only do in certain circumstances... We knocked a third time. And then somebody answered the door... *Brief silence* Elder Gasu then blurted out,"Oh my gosh, do you know who you are? You're Sage the Gemini!!" Sage answered the door himself and started talking to us. He is such a great guy, he wasn't at all what I expected. We talked to him for a little while and then he invited us into his house! So we met his family and talked to his friends a little while. He showed us his recording studio and his massive 5 ft by 10 ft TV, which was ridiculous. Then we went back outside and talked some more. He told us about his friend who is a Latter-day Saint, whose name is Zoram (which is a Mormon name if I've ever heard one,) so that was probably the reason he answered the door and talked to us instead of one of his guards with a gun to our faces. We got a picture with him and he said we could try to come back again assuming we can catch him. We actually came by at the perfect time, we made it at the very small window of free time he had. Definitely the coolest tract of my mission so far. Check that off the bucket list.

And to top the week off I got to go to primary during church! One of the primary teachers had to leave the last hour of church and he asked us to watch his class. An opportunity to go to primary class instead of Elders Quorum? Heck yeah, I'll do it! I had a great time! Elder Gasu and I watched the 8-9 year olds and pretty much all we did was make sure they didn't kill themselves and get them to sing along to the songs they were practicing, and what better way to lead than by example. So I sang my little heart out in primary class, and I regret nothing, (as a missionary I lost all pride and dignity a long time ago which is beneficial because you can't hurt what you don't have.) I was delighted to find that I still remembered a good amount of primary songs, like the Hello song, and the birthday song, both of which we were able to sing that day. It was one of the more entertaining days of church I've been to in a while.

Well that was more or less my week, again most of it was Elder Kimball and Elder Makoni saying goodbye to the people here, and Elder Gasu and Elder Call meeting the people. But there were definitely some highlights. Well to finish wrapping up my email I could sing the Goodbye song, but an email simply would not do my primary skills justice, so we'll have to settle with a mundane one.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis