Monday, January 26, 2015

Two Mormons, a Pagan and a Satanist.......

Elder Ellis did not send an explanation of why he is wearing a skirt.

Congratulations mom! I'm so happy that you got the job! Proud of you!

This week wasn't as eventful as others. We picked up a lot of investigators but other than that, not a whole lot happened. One of the more exciting things that happened was our Half Mission Conference with Elder Nielsen. I learned so much from it. He's the first general authority that has spoken to our mission that wasn't there to tell us how inadequate we are. Elder Aidukaitus and Elder Falabella have come in the past and that was the focus of their talks, but with Elder Neilsen, I was able to receive much personal revelation for myself. He told us to read the conference talk, "Bear up his Burdens with Ease" by Elder Bednar and it taught me so much after going over it again. It goes into detail about the Atonement and how it has two parts - it's composed of both redeeming and enabling power. I can email home the notes I took on my iPad if you so please.

So funny story time, or at least I think it's really funny. Elder Chan and I were looking for a potential investigator in an apartment complex and we came across three people sitting in front of where this person we were looking for should have lived. We started talking to them and asked them if the person still lived there and they said she moved out a while ago. I then asked them if they needed any service done for them and explained how we are always looking to help people as volunteers from the church. One of the guys says, "No I'm good, personally, I'm a satanist." And the girl next to him told us she's a pagan... Well the first thing I thought of was this was the perfect intro to a joke, "Two Mormons, a pagan and a satanist walk into a bar..." The second thing I thought was: "Well, that's great and all.... but that doesn't really answer my question. Do you want me to mow your lawn or what? I didn't know being a satanist excluded you from having your gutters cleaned." I had to restrain myself from cracking up right there.

We picked up a Chinese investigator. His name is Mike Chan, at least that is his English name. No idea what it is in Chinese. We met him Wednesday morning and he came to a church activity that night. Not only that, but he read from the Book of Mormon we gave him and asked if there was a way to donate to the church. So Elder Chan taught him about tithing. He's so ridiculously solid. Only problem is, he doesn't speak English! So our plan is to try teaching him some English as we teach him about the gospel.

Well, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting for the first time on my mission. I think it went pretty well. I'll send it home so you can all judge for yourselves. We also were able pick up a part member family. The three sons are nonmembers and have been taught EVERYTHING, so I'm not sure why they haven't been baptized, but we'll fix that.

Sorry my letter was uneventful but things should pick up pretty soon.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, January 19, 2015

An Ellis Promised Land and an Apartment Purge

Elder Ellis did not send home an explanation about this photo. Any guesses? 

Hello! (Insert Grandpa's voice when he answers the phone)

Good day, family, friends and beloved associates. Another week rolls by and I'm nearing the end of another transfer, which went by far too quickly, as they always do. Two more weeks to go.

I don't think I've mentioned it before but there are tons of Ellis' in this ward. That was the first thing everyone said to me when I initially arrived in Napa. This information actually preceded the Kansas jokes, so that was refreshing. All I know is I have reached the Ellis promise lands. If I had to take a guess about why the Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years, (which I don't need to guess considering it's clearly outlined in the Bible) it would be for what I found in Napa. My people. Such a union between Ellis' calls for much jubilation. No need to send for me mother, for I am home now.

So Elder Chan and I have had a really good week! We managed to get a lot of service in which is always good. We try to volunteer at Salvation Army at least once a week and managed to help out a little while on exchanges with the 3rd Ward Elders. Elder Blackhurst and I were together, and while we were there we made 130+ sack lunches that they handed out to homeless people in town. And in each of those sacks was a sandwich, also prepared by us. I have never made more sandwiches in my life than I did that day. I feel like the amount of food I prepared should qualify me for some scholarship at the Cordon Bleu culinary college. We also volunteered with 2nd Ward and helped serve food to homeless people. Elder Chan served people bread, a member from 2nd Ward served salad, Elder Moua was in charge of handing out deserts and Elder Sutterfield and I poured people beverages - one of which was coffee..... so I'm not sure how I'm going to explain myself out of aiding and abetting Word of Wisdom issues at the judgement seat.

We managed to get a ton of work done this week. Elder Chan and I met with a few less actives and managed to see quite a bit of success. One in particular was a women who hasn't been to church in many years. Elder Chan and I had this game plan of how we were going to commit this women to pray with her nonmember husband everyday and inevitably come to church. After we showed her a video about prayer, we discussed it with her and inquired to see how her personal prayer was going, which, to our surprise, she informed us she was praying daily. We then started to investigate her scripture reading habits, and again she made known unto us that her reading is progressing well. We were starting to run out of commitments to leave with her! I decided to cut to the chase and tell her she needed to come to church and before I could name several reasons why she should, she said, almost enthusiastically, she would attend church. Really? It was that easy?! I mean I'm glad she's willing to come back to church, but if it was that easy then why the heck is she less active!? But she ended up not coming to church so I guess there's still a little work to do there. Knew it was too good to be true.

We have a half-mission conference coming up and an area seventy, Elder Nielson, will be coming to speak to us. I always love these little mission conferences. They get me psyched for General Conference. Makes me think of the book of Mosiah and what King Benjamin's address looked like. I can practically see it now. The camera starts to ascend while getting different shots of King Benjamin's tower, while the typical conference narrator voice says, "Welcome to the 1st Semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Prehistoric Saints." At least that's how it looks in my head whenever I start reading Mosiah. There is something that concerns me about this half-mission conference in Fairfield. Elder Nielson will choose random missionaries to interview and random apartments to inspect for cleanliness. The possibility of a general authority choosing to interview me is quite unnerving.... and the possibility of a general authority deciding to inspect my apartment is horrifying. I wouldn't say our apartment is dirty, buuuut it's not something that would hold up against the strict evaluation of a man who has more priesthood power in his pinky finger than I have in my whole person. So today is devoted to purging our whole apartment.

We finally had someone come to church! I have learned a very valuable lesson from my rant about lack of church attendance in my last email home. It is this: if you are faced with frustrations in life, complain and whine about it to everyone who will listen. That should fix it, and if it doesn't it'll sure make you feel better! One of our investigators named Ivan, who Elder Chan and Nichols found while we were on exchanges, came to church yesterday. He really enjoyed it. The only setback about his situation is that he's going to jail soon for speeding. He may or may not have been going 150mph....But when he gets out we are totally going to baptize him. He's so solid, and reads everything we tell him to. He's progressing really well and if it weren't for the whole jail thing I could see him being baptized in a couple of weeks.

I'm doing super well and I'm excited to be serving the Lord in his vineyard, or at least the vineyards of Napa. Have a great week everyone!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, January 12, 2015

Venting and a Brass Snake

Wow, Mom, that was quite an email about the 11th anniversary of Grannie's death. What an awful idea for a new line of cards: "Death anniversary".  I can see it already, "Your husband has been dead for 10 years.... Congratulations?" What an incredibly depressing thought, mother. Not to mention you invested enough time to calculate a statistic relating to Grannie's death. Nothing but sunshine and rainbows on your end, huh?

Moving right along.....I went on exchanges with my zone leader, Elder Contla this week. We had way more fun than we should've. Elder Contla and Elder Francom are the first Spanish zone leaders I've had, so it's a little different than I'm used to. While we were on exchanges, we contacted a lot of Mexicans, which is the norm here since I'm in Napa, but this time we could actually talk to them -  Elder Contla speaks Spanish! I'm a little envious of Spanish missionaries, because when we contact people in English, a lot of them give us the "no English..." routine. But the look on their faces when Elder Contla would go off in Spanish. Priceless! He also taught me some taught me some Spanish, which will be incredibly useful here. We also had Zone meeting this week and it was a really good one. We received many new goals, like the challenge for everyone in the zone to get 20 contacts at day for a week straight. So far the whole zone has been getting the 20 so far. On Wednesday Elder Chan and I talked to 65 people, taught 5 lessons, and invited 5 people to be baptized. I'm really proud of us because we went SUPER hard and talked to EVERYONE we saw.

I believe Elder Chan and I can be likened unto Moses and Aaron. Elder Chan is so full of knowledge and wisdom but sometimes can't always convey his message. So that's where his Aaron comes in and helps the translation along. Having a foreign companion is always entertaining.

Alright, I'm all fired up and ticked because no one came to church this past Sunday! We frequently remind and invite people throughout the week to come to church. We also took the initiative to go early in the morning and knock on a less active's door, the Medina's, who are trying to get more active. We asked them to come to church and also give a ride to their neighbor who's investigating. They said they would. Then we went and knocked on their neighbor's door, and the 16 year old daughter answered and we told her she had a ride to church and to tell them when she was ready. She said she would. And we even called a new investigator on our way back to church and told him to come to church and he said he would. Despite our best efforts NO ONE CAME TO CHURCH! Are you kidding me, people?! It's really frustrating to try to help a person do something that's so simple, but will benefit them so much, and more often than not, it's so simple that they don't do it. I can't imagine how immensely irritating it must have been for Moses when he made the brazen serpent for the children of Israel. "Okay guys, you were all just bitten by random flaming snakes, which, if unattended, will kill you dead. But check it out, the Lord said all you have to do is literally just look at this brass snake on a pole I made and you'll totally be fine. How easy is that?" "Nah, thanks anyway, Moses, but I think I'll look everywhere except at that pole." What!? Are you serious? Just look at the snake! Just come to church! It's the little things that matter! Alma 37:6 "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise." Prayer, reading scriptures, church attendance - all these things our Heavenly Father has told us to do. They are small tasks, not because they lack in importance, but because Heavenly Father knows he can't give us some outstanding job if we don't even crack our scriptures open. Okay, I'm done venting. This wisdom was brought to you by Elder Ellis.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Meeting a Kansan and a Struggling Zone

Building a campfire out of birthday candles with Elder Nichols (while on splits)

A roaring fire!

A monument to 9-11

Elder Nichols bonding through ASL

Happy New Years!

2015! Wow - not sure how that year went by so quickly! Probably the fastest year of my life, but I think my mission helped accelerate the days a little. Hope everyone had a fun New Year's Eve! On my New Years Eve Brother Moore (one of the counselors in the Napa Bishopric) introduced me to his non-member friends who lived in Overland Park, Kansas! I was so excited! Normally people tell me that they lived in Missouri, or have great grandparent who grew up in Wichita, or have DRIVEN through Kansas before. THOSE DONT COUNT PEOPLE! It was really fun meeting someone actually from Overland Park! They told me they lived off of Quivera, and I actually know where that is!! So this is how Utah missionaries feel! After meeting Bro. Moore's friend, our night ended pretty quickly since missionaries have to turn in early to avoid all the drunks. So we went to the Branigan mansion to hang out with the 3rd and 2nd ward Elders. It was a really fun day.

It's crazy - I can remember what I was doing last year on New Year's Eve. At 9 pm on Dec 31st, 2013, Elders Morely, Meiners, Whittingslow and I were beatboxing and dancing in the apartment like no one was watching! Good times in Crescent City!

Elder Chan and I had a lot of success this week and picked up four families to teach! One of them we tracted into. We knocked an entire complex and the last door we knocked on we met Melissa and John. Before we knocked on the door I happened to look through their window and in between their blinds I saw a shelf of bibles. So I was glancing over the bibles and I saw a Book of Mormon sitting on the end! Holy moses! "Knock, Elder Chan! Knock like your life depends on it!" So we did, and John answered the door and invited us in and was super open to listening. They said they are looking for a church and are not sure why there are so many churches that say different things. Of course from there we taught them about the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith and committed them to read from the Book of Mormon. When we went back to teach them, John got a little weird... I'm not sure he's all there. But we were able to teach Melissa and one of our recent converts who came with us bore a really strong testimony and did a fantastic job. We'll have to visit a couple more times to gauge the accountability level in the home. Not entirely sure there.

We also contacted this guy named Devon while service tracting. At first he wasn't really interested in talking to us, but as we walked back up the street he stopped us and we started chatting it up. He asked us how many people actually accepted our help and we told him not many. He then started asking us questions about the church. They were really good questions but he asked us them in a really screwed up way. He asked us questions about creationism, polygamy, heaven and hell, why people are born into crumby situations. He had some pretty genuine questions, he just wasn't very eloquent about asking them.

We got a call one night from a man named Brian and he told us he wanted to have a meeting with us, which is normally something to get excited about but we recognized the name and looked him up in the Area book. Sure enough he was in there, and it informed us that all he wants to do is Bible bash with missionaries. And just as quickly as it was laid, his ambush was foiled. Although we decided to indulge his request and went to his house to meet him. He quickly began to barrage us with scriptures and concerns. He persisted that the Book of Mormon taught doctrine supporting the Trinity and provided a scripture to support his hypothesis. We quickly slapped him with spiritual knowledge and disarmed his concern. But as we are well aware, people with the intent to bash are never satisfied with a solid scriptural rebuttal to their concerns. Nevertheless we moved on to the next topic. He is very persistent that the grace of God is all that is necessary for salvation, and that works are irrelevant. The scripture he used to support this is Ephesians 2:8-9, which is the typical source that people use in order to support this particular opinion. I quickly, and with a surprising amount of sass, said: "Well James seems to think works are pretty important. I mean he only repeats 'faith without works are dead' like 3 times..." And proceeded to introduce my evidence of James 2. The entire second half of the chapter is about how crucial works are. Needless to say, he disregarded the proposed evidence and introduced his own distorted interpretation of what James was implying. Neither one of us budged on our positions, but considering performance alone, I believe we were victorious.

My whole zone is struggling. Every companionship seems to be having trouble in some way except for Elder Chan and I and the zone leaders, (although their problems are trying to fix everyone else's problems). So it's kinda bummer that everyone is having such a hard time. But Elder Chan and I are doing really well and this is probably the most successful area that I have been in since I have started my mission.

Sorry this email is so late! Got really caught up in playing basketball today. Right now I'm at the house of one of the families we picked up and they are feeding us steak for dinner! Heck to the yes! The husband is pretty funny. To give you an idea of his sense of humor, he came into the family room with our drinks and walked back into the kitchen saying to his wife, "I can't remember which glasses I put the vodka in, yours or theirs..." Claps and pats all around!


Elder Hayden Ellis

Christmas Devotional Pictures

All-Mission Christmas Devotional
My MTC companion, Elder Christensen
Companion reunion - Elders Christensen, Chan and Kimball (and Smith hanging out)
Elders Choffin,  McFadden, me and Tehran
My bud, Elder Mallory
Elder Corn
My favorite greenie, Elder Guthrie
The Samoan Sensation, Elder Gasu
Elder Haynie's (center right in Santa hat) posterity - I'm his daughter.
Elder Hacking
Hermana that came out with me (the second time)
Elder Meiners and his ugly reindeer tie
Elder Merrell - I love this guy so much!
Sister Pollter
Elder Teisina
Elder Heil, aka Johnny Bravo