Monday, July 28, 2014

Harvest Blessings and Meeting the Yano's friend

Happy Monday!!

Okay, first of all, that picture-thing you are all doing with hilarious. I'm in a public library trying not to laugh at all the different things I'm doing!! My favorites are playing cards with Gianni, (after seeing this one I had to use all the will power I have to stifle my laughter,) and going inner tubing with Ashley, Katie and Ryan! I look forward to seeing more things that I do while I'm on my mission!

Well, the big thing that happened this week was my third zone conference! This one was by far my favorite and most spiritual. President and Sister Alba and the AP's, Elders Balaich, Greenwood and Bettridge, (who has been my zone leader 4 out of my 6 transfers, so it's strange to think of him as an AP now.) I'm not really sure what was different about this zone conference that made it hit me so much harder than the others, but I took a lot more away from this one. One of the things they talked about was the Harvest Blessing, which is something new my mission is trying that has seen a lot of positive results in other missions. It's an inspired and special House Blessing. Normally when we bless a house, we just pray in a person's home and pray for the individuals in it. Now with the Harvest Blessing we have certain words we are asked to say, so it feels a lot more like an actual blessing, and then we proceed to pray for each individual and their specific needs. I learned about it last transfer, but they really reiterated it in zone conference. I haven't done it yet, so Elder Meiners and I really need to step our game up and make it happen. It really invites the spirit into a person's home in a way they have never felt it before.

So the work is going pretty well here, but we really only have two real investigators. L****** is one of them, who I have talked about before, but she came to dinner last night and I got to know her really well. Something really cool about her is she works as a makeup artist for a lot of different movies! Just to name a few: The 3 Prequels of Star Wars (she did the makeup for a lot of the alien characters), The Nightmare Before Christmas, Free Willy, (worked on the whale), Howard the Duck, Pirates of the Caribbean (made the Pirate ships and flags look authentic,) and the Incredible Hulk. Plus, she worked a lot of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and they were pretty close throughout it. So I'm indirectly a pretty big deal now. L****** and I are probably going to go to the premiere of the new Star Wars, VIP section. The world is our oyster! :-) Our other investigator is T******, and she is just desperately wants to be a member of the church, but she just doesn't have the faith yet. It's weird - she believes in Jesus Christ and God, but she finds it hard to believe that she will ever see her family again after she dies. But she always finds herself attracted to the Church, so she wants us to pray that she will be able to believe what we teach her. I'm really excited to teach her some more!

Okay, so I was going to share the cool story of meeting Sis Kendall who is very close friends with the Yanos... but she took the liberty of doing that for me! But it was really cool meeting her! I introduced myself and where I was from to someone who walked into church with her yesterday, and after they left she came back and asked where I was from again. She then asked if I knew the Yanos and i think to myself, "No, sorry I don't know th-wait a minute, I actually do know them!" Missionaries around me find connections with so many people because everyone is from either Utah or Idaho! So I really enjoyed talking to her about a wonderful family who we both know! So that's my crazy encounter for the week!

Yesterday during Sacrament Meeting a lot of the Young Women gave talks because they just got back from Girls' Camp. They all talked about how great camp was and how much fun they had and how spiritual it was - all the usual stuff. But then one of them said something that really hit me. She was telling us something our bishop said to her while they were at camp. She said "Jesus Christ loves all of us so much, that despite all the pain and suffering he went through for us he would do it all again, even if it were just for one of us." That hit me like a freight train. I want to say how grateful I am for my brother and savior, who did what we couldn't do on our own purely out of love for us. I love Christ because he loved me first and did the unthinkable. He is my caring shepherd. I testify in his name, Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Whacking a Cat and an Emergency Transfer

Hey Mom!

This week absolutely flew by.... I don't even know where all the time went! Novato is really nice and I am so excited to be here! There are so many interesting places to go and explore here. Elder Meiners and I cover the south part of Novato, and there's all sorts of extremes here. We have really nice areas, we have ghetto areas, (according to Elder Meiners, but after being in Fairfield and living on Dana Street, I know it's really not THAT ghetto,) we have rich neighborhoods that are built on a lake and can launch a boat from their backyards, and we have some trailer parks. We have it all! Well there's not a lot going on in my area as far as investigators go. Apparently the missionaries before us didn't really do much work so our area needs some fixing. Hopefully I can assist with that while I'm here.

So being companions with a district leader normally means I go on a lot more exchanges. Thing is, we only have two companionships in my distinct besides us, and one of them is a sister companionship and of course we can't go on exchanges with them. So the Elders in my district are Elder Chan, who is from Hong Kong, and Elder Slaughter (not the best name to have when talking to strangers who already are hesitant to talk to us,) and he came out to the mission field at the same time as me. Well we were on exchanges with them and I was with Elder Slaughter in his area, and we were hanging out with the other two who live with him, Elder Choffin and Hansen, and getting ready for bed since it was already 9:00 pm. Well we just got done planning and Elder Choffin realized he got a missed call from President Alba, which is terrifying by the way. President Alba is a busy man, so he only calls when he has to, and 9 times out of 10 it's bad news. It's never "Hello Elders, this is President Alba, I was just calling to let you know that I found a big bag of money and was wondering if you wanted to go halfsies on it?" No, nothing like that ever happens. So we were a little nervous when we called him back. When we called him we were told that Elder Slaughter was getting ET'd (emergency transferred) to North San Rafael zone to replace a missionary who was going home for medical reasons. It's sad since I know the missionary who is going home - he was in my district in Fairfield and he definitely was struggling out here, so it's good he can go home and get things sorted out but it's sad to see him go. Elder Slaughter wasn't super happy to go, especially at the beginning of the transfer. I can't blame him - I can't imagine the craziness that comes with an ET - they hardly ever happen.

So the next day while we were on exchanges we had dinner with a member and there were 6 missionaries there which is pretty crazy. There was the 4 of us and 2 sisters. Well we had a really nice dinner and we were heading back to our cars when we saw this black cat creeping towards us, like it was about to pounce on us. We were wondering what the deal with this cat was when we saw a bird in front of it. The cat swooped it up and started heading back to its house. One of the Sisters lost it. "NOOO! You cant do that!! That is so mean!! Leave it alone!" She chased that cat down all the while one of the Elders with us was trying to explain the food chain to her and the circle of life and whatnot. When she caught the cat she proceeded to whack it on the head till it let the bird go.

Well the work is going really well here, although people are really not interested in talking to us for the most part since they already have everything they need. They are all pretty well off so they think they don't need God in their lives so talking people is pretty hard when they always brush us off, but we love it here and I'm enjoying every moment of it!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Elder Ellis' Excellent Adventure

When a son or daughter leaves for a mission, there are many things they miss back home, like family vacations. The following pictures are our effort to include Elder Ellis on our recent trip to a cabin in Heber, Utah.

Uncle Aaron kicking off the family reunion with a prayer for Elder Ellis (or perhaps a nap).

Elder Ellis checking out the cabin.

Family dinner with Elder Ellis.

Watching TV with cousin Katie.

Horseback riding.

Playing foosball with Uncle Mark and cousin Ryan.

Trying out a cowboy hat.

Listening to Sophie's Chinese vocabulary with Grandpa and Aunt Heather.

Snuggling with Uncle Aaron and Aunt Heather.

Playing Phase 10 with Gianni.

Driving to Deer Creek Reservoir with cousins Ashley and Ryan.

Using Grandpa's CPAP machine to get a good night sleep.

Making French toast with Aunt Kym.

Getting a hug from cousins Sophie, Ashley and Ryan.

Doing yoga with Aunt Heather.

Getting ready from some water fun with the cousins.

Bagging some rays on the beach.

Hanging with Uncle Mark.

Taking time out of the fun to preach the Gospel to some random people on the beach.

Taking a power nap with Gianni.

Watching a movie with cousin Ashley.
The cousins eating whipped cream. Elder Ellis used to love this as a young kid.
Going to church with Mom and Grandpa.

I think Elder Ellis had a great family vacation this year. He smiled the whole time and never complained once! Love you, Elder Ellis!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Stalking and a Transfer to Novato

Elders Sacco, Ellis, Meiners and Randall in Novato, CA

Hello from Novato!

I am sooo stoked to be here in the San Rafael south zone! I love everything about this place! Not only is the weather so much nicer than it is in Fairfield (Hallelujah), but there's a lot more things to see and things to do here. I'm really excited that I'm in an area again that has beaches nearby, so I am absolutely going to take advantage of that today!!! We also have the Golden Gate Bridge in our zone, so the missionaries here like to go to there for P-Day. It'll be like good old times with Aunt Kym, Uncle Mark and (displeased) Stephen!

Well Mom, I'm impressed but not surprised that you already know my address, but for those of you who aren't certified in stalking, my address is 708 Lark Ct, Novato, CA 94947. Since we're on the subject of my mother knowing an odd amount of details about my mission; how did you know Elder Christensen got transferred? But yes, I was able to see him on transfer day! I was pretty excited - I haven't see that boy since Christmas! His new companion is my favorite district leader I've had so far, Elder Welch. That will be an awesome companionship and I'm really excited for them!

So some details about my new area... I live in a four-man apartment, which is really exciting. Four-man pads are so much fun! I live with our zone leaders, Elder Sacco and Elder Randall, and I love those two - they are so much fun. We also go to the same ward as well. I've never been in a two-man ward. All three of my areas have had two companionships in the wards I've gone to, which is pretty uncommon. Best of all, I am in a car area, so I can continue to procrastinate the day I get a new bike. We really don't have any solid investigators right now, so we are going to spend a lot of our time finding people. That really doesn't bother me since I have a good companion to go contacting with. Elder Meiners is a really fun missionary and I'm psyched to be with him. Funny thing is this is our second time being companions. In Crescent City, after my trainer Elder Whittingslow went home I was put in a trio with Elder Meiners and Elder Morely. So he is my first real companion that I have served around (with) before we were put together. 

Well I'm so excited to be serving in this area! I really like the members here, at least the ones I got to know on Sunday. Cordelia 2nd Ward in Fairfield has ruined me for the rest of my mission because they spoiled me too much! My expectations have skyrocketed after being there! But I'm really excited to get to know the Novato 1st ward better and develop some lasting friendships here like I did in Cordelia. I have more to say, but I''m a little rushed since I'm using a library computer and my time limit is almost over. I'm doing really well, and I'm really excited for this new slate to work on! I'm grateful for all the support people have been giving me, and I'm really grateful for the friends I've made since I've been out here in California. I know they will last for years to come.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, July 7, 2014

Saying Goodbye and a Flash Mob

The Wright Family in the Cordelia Ward, Fairfield, CA.

So I had a crazy week, a lot has been happening lately, especially on the 4th of July. First off, we had sooo much food, it was crazy how much we were fed. We went to a block party at our Bishop's house for breakfast, and he pretty much had the whole neighborhood there so it was a good opportunity to talk to some of his neighbors. Bishop Clawson is the best; everyone loves him. He brings the fun to any conversation, and his laugh is so infectious. He will think something is so funny while no one else does, but everyone will be laughing just because he is cracking up. Of course all his neighbors adore him and we had some really good contacts from it. After we left the Bishop's house we went to a barbecue in Suisun. We met the guy who invited us at the community service project when we cleaned up Dana Drive. He wanted all the missionaries in our zone to come to it because he was really impressed with all of us when we helped clean up my street, Dana Drive. It just goes to show that we are always being watched by those around us, and we are setting an example to them, whether it's a good one or not. The barbecue was across the street from this festival-like thing. I'm not really sure the correct words for it, but it had stands set up and it had some rides and games. Something I thought was especially funny was one of the things you could do there was get into this big, plastic bubble, like a hamster ball, and run around in a pool. Watching people struggle to stand up in that ball, let alone run around in it, was good for a couple of laughs. There were so many people there and we had multiple opportunities to talk to people.

By far the best thing that's happened this week was the Flashmob my whole zone was in! We went and did that after we left the festival/barbecue in Suisun. For those of you who don't know, a Flashmob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression... at least that's what Wikipedia says. Well we decided during zone meeting to do a flashmob in the middle of the mall on the 4th of July, and we also invited a lot of people to be there on Facebook. So at 1:50, we all rendezvoused at our predetermined stores and waited till exactly 2:00. Then the trio of Sisters in our zone went and stood on the staircase and started singing the Star Spangled Banner. Then the rest of the zone quickly left their hiding places and started singing along all while my companion, Elder Gasu, walked to the middle waving the American flag. It really took people by surprise, and frankly, might have scared some of them. But after the initial shock, people caught the drift and removed their hats, placed their hands on their hearts and sang along! Then we quickly started to sing "God Bless America" to wrap up our flashmob. The people there thought it was great, we received many comments from people about how much they appreciated us doing that, and it was a great way for us to talk to people. It was actually put on Youtube if you want to watch it. It's under "LDS missionary flashmob" or something to that effect. You could Probably throw in 4th of July to narrow it down even more. I know I'm briefly in one of the videos depending on which one you watch, so have fun playing Where's Waldo!

Well it's official - I am being transferred. Goodbye Cordelia and hello Navato! I'm sad to be leaving all the wonderful friends I've made while staying here, but I'm happy and excited to be going somewhere new. I am going to be in the Navato 1st ward, and I'm going to be companions with Elder Meiners, who is a missionary I shared an apartment with in Crescent City so I already know him pretty well. He is now District Leader so that will be interesting. I don't know my address yet, but I'll get that to you all next week. I'm really pumped that the Golden Gate bridge is in my zone, so I'm definitely going to get some pictures there ASAP. I hear a lot of good things about Navato so I'm really excited about this change. I'm just trying not to leave my heart in Fairfield at this point.

Well sorry it took a while to email today. I've had been packing with Elder Mallory, a missionary I live near, for a while then we got an unexpected call asking to go give a blessing to a dying man in the hospital. It's been a pretty crazy day. But I love you guys back home and I'm keeping you in my prayers. I'll get my new address to you soon.

Love, Elder Hayden Elis