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

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