Monday, September 29, 2014

Skyping a Baptism and Upcoming Transfers

Transfer Doctrine has come and gone! And the big news is that I am staying and Elder Meiners is leaving to go to my old stomping ground in Fairfield! He wasn't quite fortunate enough to be able to go to Cordelia 2nd Ward, but he is going to the Hmong branch. Going to the Hmong branch is a dream come true for him since he went hard at studying Hmong when we were in Crescent City together, so he'll do well there. My new companion is going to be Elder Corn, who I think will be coming here from Winters. I already know Elder Corn - he was my second district leader after Elder Call in Crescent City. I've noticed I've gotten to a point in my mission when I already know most people that transfer into the zone before they get here. I've been around long enough to meet a lot of people and make a lot of good friends, as opposed to 8 or 9 months ago when I didn't know ANYBODY except for the five Elders I was around in Crescent City. Elder Randall is also leaving and is heading to Napa and Elder Huff is coming in his stead. I'm going to miss Elder Randall - he's been a good friend to me since I've been in Novato. He goes home in December so it's probably going to be the last time I see him in the mission unless he comes back to take my companion and me out to lunch like he said he would! Elder Corn and I will be an interesting companionship. I'm not sure how it's going to go but I'm going to be optimistic about it.

So I had a fantastic day on Saturday! My investigator in Fairfield, Elise, was baptized! I'm so psyched for her! I was pretty bummed out that I had to leave the area before she was baptized, because she was ready while I was there but there was a good reason why she wanted to wait so I had to accept the fact I wasn't going to be able to be at her baptism... or so I thought! Earlier in the week Elder Kimball, who was my companion for a majority of the time I was teaching her, told me that her baptism was on Saturday and asked me if I wanted to Skype into the baptism with him, and of course I said heck yeah! So we were able to "be there" for the baptism, and it truly was a special experience for me. Not only did I get to see familiar faces that I really miss, but I remember Elise when we first started teaching her and seeing her now and how far she's come is amazing to be a part of. She had so many good questions and thoughts, and she definitely worked Elder Kimball and me hard and made us do a lot of thinking, but she finally came to the conclusion that baptism is important and something she wanted in her life. I'm so happy for her and grateful that Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of her life. By the way, Mom, during the baptism I was told by an anonymous source that Sister Graham is coming to visit you, which is so cool! So you dropping this little "secret" to me is not new information. I have my sources too. :)

Like I promised last week, I was able to help set up for a baptism yesterday for the Stickles family. It was for their daughter who just turned 8. So I was able to attend four baptisms in the last two weeks, which is definitely a record for me!

Well, General Conference is coming up! I am so excited! I cannot believe it's already that time of year again. I feel like it wasn't that long ago that I was watching it with the Grahams at their house. Elder Jeffery R. Holland promised that, "if we teach by the spirit and you listen by the spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you." I promise that if you take a question to General Conference and diligently seek for an answer during it, by the spirit and through the words of our prophet and General Authorities, you will receive an answer. I'm so grateful for modern day Prophets and Apostles, and for the guidance and counsel they convey to us. It truly is a blessing from our Heavenly Father.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Oakland Temple and a Cyst

Hi Mom!

So transfers are coming up! Can't believe how quickly this one went by! We find out what's happening on Friday. Our prediction is that Elder Milne and I stay in Novato and that Elder Randall and Elder Meiners leave. Although we could be wrong and I could leave and Elder Meiners stays for 6 months. But the only way that could happen is if he trained a new missionary, which could happen since we have 27 new missionaries coming to our mission next transfer! That's a lot of greenies, so we need a lot of trainers! That might happen, but more likely than not, I'll stay here another transfer. But one thing we are sure of is that either Elder Meiners or I will leave, because it wouldn't make sense for both of us to stay together for three transfers. So by Tuesday next weekI will have a new companion!

So I've been having some medical problems. I've developed a cyst on my tailbone which has virtually made sitting normally and sleeping on my back impossible. I've had it for a couple of months, but it hasn't gotten really bad till this week. I noticed it when I got to Novato and it was slightly painful and wasn't that big but after a while it got even smaller, so, taking after my father, I ignored the medical problem and figured it was fine. But this week it came back with a vengeance and was the size of quarter and immensely painful! I called the mission nurse who told me to set up an appointment with a doctor in Santa Rosa and gave me his information for me to give him a call. Well, it turns out that I'm awful at setting up doctors appointments. I called the number and starting talking to the secretary who answered the phone and quickly it dawned on me that I forgot the doctors name. So when she asked me who I was trying to set up an appointment with and listed three different names, I had no idea what to say! I figured I had nothing to lose at that point so I asked her, "I can't remember what the doctor's name is, but which one of them specializes in cyst removal?" And she promptly told me none of them do, so I apologized for my blunder and might have mentioned, "well... this is awkward.." at some point. Then we both came to the mutual agreement to hang up the phone. So I'm going to have to try again later. Although the cyst has once again assumed its small and less painful state, I'm trying to fight the Ellis in me that wants to forget about it and assume it's fine. I'll have to break character and make that appointment.

Well this week we were able to go to two baptisms, one on Friday and the other one on Sunday. The first one was a member's daughter in our ward who just turned 8. We were invited to attend to assist with the preparation, like filling the baptismal font and setting up the chairs. Then, Elder Meiners and I were asked to be witnesses for the baptism to make sure it was done correctly. The girl, who had formerly procrastinated her baptism due to being nervous and unsure about it, left the baptismal fount and when asked how she felt, told her mom she felt happy. It's amazing to see the change that comes over people when they take small steps along the Iron Rod. Even at such a young age, she decided that baptism was a commitment she wanted to make and she already feels the blessings and joy come from her decision. The other baptism was for one of the Spanish Sister's investigator, and we went because we invited one of our investigators to attend and she showed up! So even though it was a Spanish baptism, and there was quite a few things lost in translation, she still enjoyed it and felt the spirit. So we need to go see her and teach her again while she still remembers the feeling! And we have another baptism that we need to help out with coming up this week! Love it!

We went to the Oakland temple which is always a great experience. The temple is the absolute best places to have questions answered! I know the temple is the House of the Lord, and because of it we can be sealed to our families for all time and eternity. I have such a testimony of the temple and know of the importance of doing work for our ancestors there.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bunkers and Redefining Tracting

Touristy picture at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Myself, Elder Minkler, and Hermana Wickline posing dramatically for the camera.

Pitch-black selfie with Hermana Billat.

On top of a World War II bunker.

At the bottom of an old World War II  bunker.

We went exploring in a hidden bunker where a lot of people go to graffiti the walls, so it was like walking through a ghetto art gallery!


The jellyfish that we found washed up on shore that I took a bite of.
Saltiest thing EVER. Not a overly pleasant experience but I've never
been a picky eater in the past.

Elder Randall buried his legs in the sand up to his knees so Elder Merrell and I took
the opportunity to take some hilarious pictures 
with him.

Somehow Elder Milne broke my chair, so this is my study station now! 

Hey Mom!

It's the start of week five! Hard to imagine that we get transfer information in a week. It will be interesting to see who my next companion will be. I feel like Elder Meiners and I just became companions but it's been 3 months already! On top of it all, I've been in Novato for a while now and will soon be in a new area again. It's not easy to wrap my mind around it all.

This last week was a little slow, and we weren't able to see many of our investigators. Everyone here is busy all the time and it's really difficult to catch people when they are available! But we were able to visit some less active members that we haven't been able to see since I've been here, so that was progress. Also something exciting that happened was the Elders Quorum and the missionaries helped move in a family (I'm pretty sure we help people move at least once a week - we already have another one planned for this next week, so by now I've gotten pretty good at it) who are not members of the church, which is uncommon here. Apparently a friend of the family is a member of the church and he called ahead and asked us to assist. Normally people are so unwilling or untrusting to accept help from others, especially for something like moving, so I was really glad we could help out!

I went on exchanges with a missionary in my district, Elder Chan, and he is easily the most effective missionary in my mission. He is from Hong Kong so already people want to talk to him, but he's just so bold and real with people that he can talk to and teach anyone. We went tracting for a while and he can get into anyone's house. Sometimes he will just walk right in and start talking to them about what they are watching on TV or just about whatever and they will just let it happen. Then he will teach them a lesson! If I tried randomly walking into someone's house they would call the police on me. I think he can get away with it because he's Chinese and because he doesn't give them an opportunity to call him on it - he'll just walk in and talk to them like he belongs there. He redefines what tracting is. I definitely learned a lot from him!

Well it was another pretty slow week. Like I mentioned earlier, we didn't really get to see our investigators this week, but on the bright side I learned how to play my first song on the piano! "Mad World" by Gary Jules, I'm pretty sure that his name at least. I'll send a video home of me playing it sometime in the future!

Now, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you a man fleeing from a bear. Enjoy.

ʕ •ᴥ•ʔ       ε=ε=ε=ε=ε=ε=┌(; ̄◇ ̄)┘

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Elder Ellis' Roadtrip to Phoenix

My dad and I drove down to Phoenix for the weekend to attend my nephew's baptism. Of course we took Elder Ellis along for the ride.......

Hayden loves road trips

Hayden loves putting on lipstick

Hayden loves the Big Baby (Rylen)

Hayden loves sleep overs

Hayden loves Hello Kitty

Hayden loves baptisms with his Uncle Nate and cousin Ashton

Hayden loves hanging out with the Phoenix elders

Hayden loves going for a walk with cousin Addison

Hayden loves playing SWAT with cousin Ashton

Hayden loves watching football with Uncle Nate and cousin Carter

Hayden loves going to a tea party with cousin Kennedy

Hayden loves pretend tea and oranges

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Meeting a Kansan and Eating Jellyfish

Hey Mom!

It's hard to believe we're already in September. My companion, Elder Meiners, hit his year mark this week, and in two more transfers I'll follow suit. It really doesn't feel like I've been at this for almost a year. I look at the four brand new missionaries in our zone and feel like It wasn't long ago that I was in their position! Well, it really wasn't that long ago, but in mission life, pushing 10 months is getting up there in age. I'm starting to feel pretty old in my mission! One of the new missionaries graduated high school three months ago. That's pretty weird for me since I'm used to being the youngest in my zone. I can't even begin to imagine what the next year is going to feel like.

We'll I had a really cool run in with a fellow Kansan! Elder Milne, Randall, Meiners and I were helping a man move into his new house. He met the Spanish missionaries down in San Rafael and they helped him pack up his truck and then sent him our way to assist with getting the truck unloaded and everything in his house. If my mission has taught me one thing, it's how to load and unload a moving truck! I'm being prepared for the rest of my life here. So I jumped in the truck and started handing the other Elders boxes to take inside and that became my job for the rest of move. It gave me an opportunity to talk to an old man by the name of Bob who was "supervising" the project. He's a really funny guy, and certainly not afraid to hand out praise, sometimes for silly things. I'd pick up a box and place it on the tail gate of the truck for the other Elders to come get and he would give me a hearty "Good job!" or "perfectly executed!" I never thought I could feel so good about myself for something like stacking boxes! Although after he said it continually for 45 mins, the compliments started losing their luster. But after talking to him for a little while I discovered he is from Kansas City, so we had a lot to talk about there! It was nice to reminisce about the Kansas barbecue and the thunder storms. Normally the only conversations about Kansas I have are about tornadoes, farms and how I'm not in Kansas anymore.... So this was definitely a nice change of pace! The other service project we did this week was helping a member get a ton of wood in a chipper and cutting down a lot of vines and unnecessary foliage hanging from a tree. I was on the "vine disposal team", and naturally we were equipped machetes. Nothing better than slicing through an inch thick vine with one swing. That's satisfying... Unfortunately, I went too hard and ended up stabbing my thigh on the end of a down swing. So I left that project with a war wound! It's not that bad, just a small cut but let it be known that blood was shed for the sake of service!

Sorry for not mentioning it in my last email, but keeping track of everything I want to send each week is really tough and sometimes I leave stuff out. Yes, Gianni, the beef jerky and salmon were really good! And of course the Martinellis paired with it made it the best food care package I've ever gotten. Nothing makes a missionary happier than sparkling apple cider and dehydrated beef!

Well a couple of things happened this week, probably one of the biggest things was the announcement from President Alba that the mission is taking a break from Facebook for a while to reevaluate and get reorganized. I'm fine with this; I find I don't really use it much anyways. Facebook can be really distracting while you're trying to work and for a lot of missionaries it's just an hour break to relax and watch videos of ice bucket challenges. So, for an undetermined amount of time the Santa Rosa mission is going to be off Facebook and Skype, which is kinda sad since that was one of the main things that set us apart from the other missions. We were the first IPad and Facebook mission, but after a while people start getting casual about using these tools so it'll be good for us to take a break. We also had interviews with President (that's when we took all the First Presidency pictures) and we had Zone Conference, which was like any normal Zone Conference but this time we watched a really powerful video about the Atonement, which I will send home on a flash drive. It isn't made by the church but it really explains what the atonement was like for Christ and for His Father in ways we all can understand. Sometimes the Atonement can be a hard concept for people to grasp. It explains what it must've been like for Heavenly Father to allow his Only Begotten Son to atone for the sins of mankind. John 3:16"¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I recommend watching it. I think it's called, "For God so Loved the World" or something like that. Powerful video! I plan on showing it to our investigators. On top of it all, we have a temple trip coming up! We didn't have one last transfer, which is when we would normally have had one but the Oakland temple was closed so we put it off for this transfer. And that's coming up in a week. So a lot is going on right now.

Well Sunday was a good day because we had an investigator come to church! We haven't even met with her yet but she had a friend bring her. She and her son are looking for change in a big way. So I can't wait to meet them both and start teaching them!

Sorry that this email is really late! I just had a super crazy P-Day that involved the beach, rock climbing, taking a bite out of a jelly fish, (fun fact: jelly fish that wash up on the beach are not for eating, they taste like pure, concentrated salt. Awful!) and urban exploring in some bunkers! I took so many pictures so I'll send those next week.

I love my mission, I love my friends, I love my family, and I love my Heavenly Father! Till next week!

Love,  Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Fiji Mermaid and Cannolis

A paper mache Fiji mermaid.

Elder Milne and Elder Ellis with the Fiji mermaid.

Alessandro and Elder Ellis

Aunt Mary and Elder Ellis with homemade cannolis

Elder Ellis getting some hammock time while Uncle Davide cooks pizza

Hey Mom!

First of all congratulations to my Uncle Nate for his promotion! I don't know what all those fancy chef words mean, but it all sounds pretty prestigious! I'm happy for you, Uncle Nate, you deserve it! And mom, I was dying from that Chopped episode you told me about! So funny!

Elder M***** isn't the easiest guy to live with but he's a lot better than people led me to believe. I seem to be the only one that actually gets along with him, but I'm really making a concentrated effort to see the best in people and not let little stuff bother me. So I'm not sure if I'm getting really good at that or if he's just easier to live with than I anticipated, but either way it seems to be working! I went on exchanges with Elder Kimball this week, (I can't remember if I mentioned that he transferred to my zone, but if not, then I'm letting you all know now!) and that was really cool. We had a chance to talk a lot about Fairfield and what happened after he left. Good news that he revealed to me: my investigator, E***** is still well on her way to get baptized this month! I'm so excited! I hope President will allow me to attend her baptism. There's a rule that you can go to out-of-zone baptisms if they are less than 30 mins away, and from here to Fairfield is like 50 mins... so I doubt he will, but maybe if i ask nice enough...

So one of the pictures you sent really confused me, since I looked at the pictures before reading the email. I was wondering why some toddler was holding a picture of me, then it clicked that it was little Ale! Holy Moses, he got big!! And he's already walking around?! I was so bummed out to find out I missed his first steps! Of course while serving a mission for 2 years I was well aware that he was likely to figure out how legs worked, but I was really banking on the possibility that he didn't feel like he had anywhere to be in a hurry and not learn how to walk till he's 3 years old. That was a bit of a stretch. Davide, the backyard looks amazing. I can't wait to try out that pizza oven! And I miss Mary's cannoli's! Those are SO GOOD. I remember making those my personal reward when I got Ale to be happy and fall asleep!

My mission is trying something new that I am very excited for! It's call and its going to be a way for the mission to find more service opportunities for us missionaries! Hopefully we'll find some big projects - like the tri-zone one in Vallejo that I was in where we helped CDA give free dental care to people. That was the coolest service project I've ever been a part of, so hopefully we can find more like that. What's interesting about it is that during the projects that we'll be assisting with, we aren't allowed to proselyte; its strictly service. So I'm really psyched for that to start up; service is one of my favorite things about missionary work. I personally think it's the best way to get people to open their hearts to you and to the Gospel.

So we had a really cool Sacrament meeting yesterday that I really enjoyed. It was like testimony meeting but the difference was we had one speaker who talked briefly on hymns and how they are prayers from the righteous to our Heavenly Father. Then the ward members were invited to come up, share their favorite hymn and then we sang a verse of their choice together. It was a really great idea and tons of people went up one after another to have us sing their favorite hymn. I wanted to go up but so many people were sharing theirs, that there was literally no time for us missionaries! So I'd like to take the opportunity to share mine now. My favorite hymn is probably number 259, "Hope of Israel". The reason I love this hymn so much is because it reminds me of the importance of missionary work, whether by full-time missionaries or member missionaries, is especially in these latter-days. The work of Salvation is hastening (D&C 88:73) and is being preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (D&C 42:58). We all need to get involved in this wonderful work! Something I'd like to invite everyone to do is to share their favorite hymns and why they like them! Whether you want to tell someone in the family or share it on Facebook, I know hymns are a great way to invite the spirit and that Heavenly Father hears every one of them you sing.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis