Monday, June 29, 2015

The Albas Depart and Defending Traditional Marriage

A little piece of Kansas here in California

Elder Chan and me

It was so great seeing some of my favorites.

Saying goodbye to President and Sister Alba

God Bless America!

Happy almost Fourth of July!

So Elder Stephenson and I have had yet another rather slow week. It seems like we are slowly losing our investigators and have less and less people to teach. So as a result, we are doing a lot more finding and a lot more knocking doors. Which ultimately means we are out in the 100°+ heat nonstop, so that's fun... But we need to clean out our Area book more and take out the people who aren't interested so it's not so cluttered for the next missionaries.

We had another lesson with Vincent, and our plans were to drop him since it seems he only wants to talk to debate with us, but we ended up having a really good lesson. And by good lesson I mean we straight up confounded him with the spirit! His doctrine really didn't make any sense and he contradicted himself a lot. We taught by the Spirit when we discussed the importance of baptism and obedience. It was funny, we shared the scripture where Jesus taught Nicodemus about being born by water and the spirit and Vincent claimed that being physically born from our mothers womb was what he meant by being born by water.... Um, what? Did you just Nicodemus us? So we shared the rest of that scripture with him where Nicodemus asked Jesus the same question. It was a solid lesson and Vincent actually did more listening this time than talking and the spirit was strong. So we decided not to drop him. He ended up coming to church yesterday and stayed all three hours. I know Vincent felt the spirit, because I felt it strongly. All the talks and lessons that day seemed to all be geared toward his concerns. It's funny how the Lord works. I know if he keeps coming to church and reading the Book of Mormon he will start to gain a testimony of what we teach.

We had our all-mission conference on Wednesday which was the last time we saw the Albas. It had a really sad and almost somber atmosphere about it, but it also was very lively and exciting too. I'm going to miss the Albas so much. They have such strong testimonies and have been amazing leaders. I am so grateful for their service and dedication to the Lord's work.

One of the bummers of the week was that we had to drop our investigator with a baptismal date, Dennis, because he just wasn't progressing. We have been meeting with him for a while and have tried everything we could to help him build enough faith to take that step of baptism, but he just isn't willing to do it. We have been reading with him in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 2, which is all about agency to keep the commandments, and we ultimately have the decision to follow God or follow Satan. We boldly and lovingly testified to him that God is reaching out to him and needs him on His side, but he gave us a lame excuse, (and I've heard some fairly decent excuses pertaining to this particular subject, and his definitely did not make the cut,) as to why he isn't ready to be baptized and said he needs time to think about it. So we told him to tell us when he is ready and we would be back but until then we won't stop by regularly. We did a pretty good job and kept good feelings between us. Normally I'm really bad at dropping an investigator. I feel like I'm breaking up with them. "Really, it's not you, it's me. I hope we can still be friends." But we did a really good job! Hopefully he is ready for baptism at some point, but all I know is we've done everything we can so it's up to him now.

There were some interesting things that happened this week. One thing was we drove to Cloverdale to get Elder Stephenson's back adjusted. The drive there was sickening. If you're bored with nothing to do, check out the road, Hopland, that connects Lakeport to Cloverdale. That road is messed up and you will know what I mean when you see it. I don't get carsick anymore but that drive jacked me up almost the rest of the day.

So another interesting thing that happened was that we saved a life this week... that was a pretty solid plus. One of our less actives and the member we help a lot with his technology incapabilities, Brother Prior, had a low blood sugar attack. We happened to be there at the right time when it happened. Out of nowhere he started sweating like crazy and got really delirious and weak. Luckily Elder Stephenson knew he had diabetes and knew what to do so we got him food and water to get into his system. He wouldn't have known what to do if we hadn't been there and would've gone in a comatose state and probably died. So Elder Stephenson and I have been working on getting him in-home care. That's a work in progress. I'll keep everyone updated on how my friend, Brother Prior is doing.

MY INVESTIGATOR IN NAPA, DANIEL HERERA, GOT BAPTIZED! THE JUBILATION I FEEL IS OVERWHELMING! He had some blockades that would've stopped most people but he is so solid that he persevered and was baptized. The only problem was no one in Napa told me it was happening and I wasn't able to skype into it because I found out a week later! I was so frustrated but so happy at the same time! So that's one of my victory stories of the week.

Well, some more sad news was the Albas left for home today. It feels like a piece of this mission died with them! I've had them for almost 19 1/2 months. But I am excited for President and Sister Wright, it's almost like we have a fresh start in our mission. So that will be cool and I am looking forward to it. This week was a week of many mixed emotions.

Even though the law of the land has changed, the law of God remains the same. While maintaining respect for all people and whatever life decisions they choose to make, I am steadfast in my support for traditional marriage, which is ordained of God. And even though I seem to be on the minority side of the matter, I add my testimony to that of Paul, in Romans: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." I am not ashamed of God's law, and His plan for His children and for marriage.

Hope everyone has a great week! Love all around!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Golfing off Volcanoes and Poison Oak

We found them!!! Really?! No one ever thought of checking the materials center???

Hiking Mount Konocti -an inactive volcano

Happy Father's Day!

Happy fathers day to all the fathers out there!! I'm grateful that I have such an amazing Stepfather, Gianni, who has been an example to me. We didn't always get along but I'm glad he's in my life and a father to me. A speaker in sacrament read almost the entire song of "Cats and the Cradle". I almost broke down sobbing. That song always gets me.

So Elder Stephenson and I had a really awesome District meeting. We had the Sisters, Sister Bear and Moore, teach about a phrase I made up, "spiritually loitering", or wasting time in our missions, and we taught about our "spiritual headlights". We compared our spiritual headlights to being bold, and when we turn our brights on we are being overbearing. It was actually a pretty good lesson and came together really well, which was really good since one of the AP's was sitting in for it. I shared a scripture about boldness, it's Proverbs 28:1 - "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion." So I declared that our District was thence known as the Lake County Lions! And we shall be bold as such. My Zone Leader, Elder Mathusek, who was there, liked the idea and adopted it for the zone. So from of my idea, the Zone's theme is now the Lake County Lions. Whoopee.

Scratch that last email that was talking about how cool Vincent is. It just took him a while for the crazy to kick in, (you'd think I would be better about spotting these people after serving in Napa, home of the crazies.) He had some very disturbing and twisted ideas about doctrine, like about repentance and our purpose on earth. It makes me so grateful to have the fulness of the truth.

So we have had a ton of meetings this week, one of which was a tech training in preparation for us getting Facebook back. So now we are a Facebook mission again! We have been on and off Facebook for the longest time. I think it's finally going to be a permanent thing again, but we'll see. We also had our last interviews with President and Sister Alba before they go home. President Alba gave us some counsel about one of our investigators, Dennis, about what to do with him. He doesn't want to be baptized and just wants to hover where he is right now. We told him, (lovingly of course,) that if he isn't baptized he cannot enter into the kingdom of God and can't be sealed to his family. As suggested by President, we offered to do a fast with him that he will get an answer from God pertaining to if he needs to be baptized but he didn't even want to do that. It looks like we will have to drop him. Really bummed about it but maybe it will give him enough time to have the Lord work on him. In Sister Alba's interview with us she just told us to prayerfully seek a righteous wife. That was more or less her main counsel for us.

This week has mainly been a TON of tracking and finding. We have been cleaning are area book like crazy! No success so far but at least it won't be so cluttered for the next missionaries.

Hey mom, remember when Stephen almost walked to school without pants on in elementary school? Just a random funny thought I had earlier in the week.

So I've seemed to have been afflicted with the dreadful plague known as poison Oak. I have a rash on my face, neck amongst other places. I call it my Job-affliction. I have NO idea how I got it but it has been one hellish nightmare. So many people have been giving me a bunch of medications and sprays to help with the rash. I'm feeling the love amidst the feelings of agonizing itching, weeping and gnashing of teeth. Send some prayers my way that my face will be fixed!

The all mission conference is on Wednesday, and then the Albas go home soon after. It is going to be so strange to not have the Alba's around anymore. I've served with them for 19 months so it's going to be quite a shock when they finally return to Georgia. That being said, I am excited to have President and Sister Wright join the mission. I'm stoked for the mission conference to see all my mission homies. Reunions are always so much fun. Hopefully my disfiguring rash goes away by then.

So we tracted into a less active mother and daughter by accident and it probably made it onto my top 5 most awkward lessons list. They invited us in, (they are over 45 so it's okay,) and we sat there uncomfortably while they told us their many problems and basically told us they sin and enjoy it. But since we are getting better at being bold with people we just straight up told them that's not okay and God doesn't look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Even though their thoughts on keeping the commandments hasn't changed I'm getting better at being bold and correcting people. I've never been good at these things before but I know that's how Heavenly Father would speak to us, lovingly and boldly, so that's how I must strive to do as well. Lake County Lions!

So mom, you weren't able to use our girls camp video? Don't worry, we found another use for it. We told a member at dinner about the videos we made for girls camp and she asked for them to use at her girls camp. Great, not only is there the possibility of corrupting the young women in the Tooele Stake, but I was able to double my quota by ruining the Ukiah young women as well.

Today for preparation day we hiked Mt. Konocti, which is an inactive volcano with an elevation of 4,000 ft. in Kelseyville. It was probably about a 3 hour hike, round trip. It had the coolest view at the top! So we had to take advantage of the opportunity and we brought up golf clubs and balls to hit them off of a VOLCANO! I don't want to hear anyone tell me I don't know what's it's like to do that ever again! Cross that one off the bucket list! Well that's pretty much my week. It was good overall but it was also slow. But the next couple of weeks are going to be absolutely packed and crazy! I'm looking forward to it picking up a little. Well I hope everyone has a great week! BYE!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Baling Hay and More Baby Animals

Baling hay 

My chap stick melted in the 100 degree temperatures and I clearly didn't handle it well.

My take on "Horton Hears a Who"

Elder Stephenson and I getting lost in Nice

The latest installment of Elder Ellis with cute baby animals

Hello everyone!

Well this week was pretty slow, I'm not going to lie. Elder Stephenson and I have tried to do a lot of finding but to no avail. So a little bit rough of a week but it's all good. Hope your expectations aren't too high for this letter!

Well, my new companion is Elder Stephenson, and I love this guy so much! He is from New Hampshire, and is the only boy out of five kids. He goes home in July so he doesn't much time left. We have concluded that we indeed are brothers. We are always laughing, we like to work out, we have the same interests, (he's homeschooled so he's just a little off), but I love him! He can't spell worth a dang, but I'm sure that has something to do with the homeschooling, (just kidding!) We also are both very adventurous. We bought frozen dragon fruit and made smoothies. Clearly we live on the edge.

We got a media referral named Vincent and when we went to contact him and he was surprisingly receptive. Normally media referrals aren't even remotely interested, or claim that they never requested missionaries to begin with, (which is ridiculous considering we didn't get their phone number, full name and address on accident). But Vincent was super welcoming and so was his father. His family use to live in Lehi Utah so they are very familiar with the church and missionaries. The father actually had many employees who left to serve missions. We had a very good conversation with them, but right now we feel he wants to learn more for educational purposes rather than a desire to come closer to Christ, but I'm sure that will change when he starts to read the Book of Mormon and comes to church.

So District Meeting went really well - it's really not that hard to prepare district meetings.

We have to go to Cloverdale to a chiropractor to have Elder Stephenson adjusted because of his back problems. I have no idea when that will be, but it should be sometime soon. I seem to get a lot of companions with medical problems. This, and then there was Elder Eccles of course, who is the most broken young man I have encountered while out here - ingrown toenails and insomnia for days. He was a medical disaster. But driving to Cloverdale will be wonderful and quite possibly scenic. We also have an all mission conference coming up, interviews, the Albas departure and much training, so it'll be a busy next couple of weeks.

We had a day full of service on Saturday. We helped a random family move in, and we helped a family bale hay.... It was a lot more interesting than it sounds I promise!

So since I'm a straight up mama's boy, I complied when I was asked by my mom to make a short video about serving a mission to show at girls' camp, and it was so incredibly hard! Elder Stephenson and I took a while to finally get our act together and make this video. We were struggling on not messing up and trying not to laugh for too long. Elder Stephenson and I have made a lot of videos so far, but when we are trying to make a serious video it's when we struggle greatly.

Well, not the most interesting week. Everyone in the mission has been charged to double their efforts this week. It seems the mission is kinda starting to get complacent with mediocrity. I'm not implying I haven't been guilty of this at times, but it's important to remember why we are here and to stay focused.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Baptism and a Beloved Companion's Departure

Bob Lininger's baptism

Part of the Lininger Family who attended the baptism

Me and Elder Yepez at the baptism

Killing my companion, Elder Yepez
My Zone

Hi everyone!

So this was a sad week for Elder Yepez and I since it was his last one in the mission, but it also was an amazing one since we were able to see Bob get baptized. It was full of very mixed emotions as you can tell.

I'll start with the happy one: Bob Lininger was baptized on Wednesday. Heck to the yes! It was such an amazing day and it went by without a hitch. I'm so grateful I was able to be a part of this experience and it seriously was the most incredible baptism I've ever been to (except my own of course). It was a very spiritual and tearful experience for all his family that was there. It was amazing to see one more step taken for this family to be sealed to each other for all of eternity. It's incredible for me to see someone who is 85 years old be baptized. I think I've only met one person who was baptized older than Bob, and that was a 90-year-old women in Fairfield. I've met so many people around that age that think it's too late for them, but Bob is a perfect example of God's love and patience for all this children. He has prepared Bob for 54 years for that moment on Wednesday. He never gives up on us and always wants us to come home to Him. Bob wanted to be confirmed the same day as the baptism while he still had family in town. So after the baptism they had a special musical number by the great-grand children, and then the confirmation. At first there were only three Melchizedek priesthood holders from his family who were in the circle, but Elder Yepez and I were called over to stand in the circle as well, which was really special for me. Wednesday was a very humbling day for me. After the baptism his family kept coming up and thanking us for helping Bob get baptized. I remember thinking about how little I actually did in this process. Elder Yepez and I met with him everyday for two weeks, in contrast to the work and preparation that took place by the Lord and Bob's family over the space of 54 years. So I was really more of an innocent bystander who was just lucky to be there for it. The Lord just had me in the right place at the right time to play a small role in a much bigger plan for this family.

Even though there was no indication in my last letter, the transfer is over! Elder Yepez left me today and he actually returns home tomorrow. We commemorated the occasion by burning one of his suits. Considering the pyro I am, it's surprising I haven't been burning articles of clothing to celebrate certain milestones in my mission. The fact that I only own one suit right now probably explains why I haven't been in a burning frenzy. It was a pretty emotional goodbye, primarily for Elder Yepez. He has very mixed emotions about the whole situation, which is very normal. He is excited to go home and see his family, but he is leaving two years of his life here, and a lot great people he has met. I know it will be the same for me, but I bet it will be even worse. I'm going to have a really hard time - very conflicting emotions will accompany my return home. Well, I am going to miss Elder Yepez - he has been a very good companion and friend to me. I don't know how many of my companions I'll be really close to after my mission, but he will definitely be one of them. Well, enough about the sad departure stuff.

I bet you are all wondering about the other half of transfer doctrine! My new companion is Elder Stephenson. I've only talked to him a couple of times but I've heard a lot about him from Elder Whittingslow. I replaced Elder Stephenson in Crescent City way back in my earlier days. Right now he's a Zone Leader in Davis area and he'll be a Co-District leader with me (oh yeah, I'm a District Leader now by the way.) Really the only other thing I know about him is he was homeschooled. Oh, and one more thing, he's going home in six weeks! I'm killing ANOTHER missionary! I've never heard of someone sending two missionaries home in a row. What are they trying to DO to me?! The struggle is so real. I'm not really sure what to expect from Elder Stephenson, so we will all find out together but I'm pretty excited about it. I'll be a good transfer, and if it's not, I'll make it a good one.

We will be having an All-Mission Conference on the 23rd for the Alba's departure a week later. Then President and Sister Wright will get here on the 29th, so not much time left before that happens.

Like you said in your email about the Salt Lake City Mission, Mom, my mission is also losing a lot of cars. I think Salt Lake takes an average of eight cars each transfer. But there are some areas that have to have a car in it so they won't take all of the cars away. We are definitely noticing the car drought that is sweeping the missions.

Well that's about it for this week. My invitation for all of you is to google a "Pomsky".  Isn't it cute? 

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

Monday, June 1, 2015

Losing a Fish and Preparing for Baptism

I tamed the ADHD beast! The little fur ball was like this for 20 minutes. He was totally
under my power.
Elders Yepez, Ellis, Francom and Kimball
Oakland Temple
Our tiny little zone! Top row: me, Elders Kimball and Francom. Botton row: Elders Smittenaar, Merrell, Hacking,
Akhmetov, Yepez, Sisters Bear and Haefeli


I've had a very busy week of teaching the almost-baptized, Bob Lininger, so most of this week was focused on him.

We went fishing on Monday with Chris Alexander. I was quite confident before, but now I am positive - I am terrible fisherman. I caught absolutely nothing the entire time! The only fish I was close to catching was one that Chris hooked and then leisurely gave me the pole. So right there it already doesn't really count as my catch since Chris did most of the work. But on top of that, once I reeled him in all the way, I didn't pull him on the dock quick enough and he jumped right back into the water! They didn't let me live that one down. Even Chris' 5 year old son caught more fish than I did. At least I'm better at being a fisher of men than a fisher of fish.

We've had a lesson with Bob nearly everyday this week. He has really grown on me since we've been teaching him. We've been joking that he is better off than us since his baptism will wash away 85 years of mistakes and ours only took care of 8 years. He isn't too keen on praying yet, but he did say the closing prayer at the end of the lesson on Tuesday. He told us it was one of the first vocal prayers he has ever said. Even though he had written it down on paper and it was only 3 sentences long, you could feel the spirit strongly. He even started getting choked up during it. Think about it: three sentences doesn't leave one with a lot of time to get emotional (especially when one factors in the "Dear Heavenly Father," and "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen" parts) so it was a pretty immediate reaction. Bob did the same thing in his interview with Elder Francom. He brought a prewritten prayer but it was so powerful and he began to cry during it. I <3 Bob.

We had a temple trip on Tuesday. We left at 6 am and embarked on an incredibly long and arduous drive to the Oakland temple (if you look at Calistoga Road, the one connecting Santa Rosa and Clearlake, you'll know what I mean by arduous drive.) Temple trips like that always make me feel grateful that it was only that far, and that we have so many temples so close to us instead of making a several day trip to go to one - although it was nice to drive through Napa to get there. The temple was great as usual. I always feel so carefree. The temple is truly the best and most spiritual place on earth, the second being the home. I am truly grateful for the temple. Without it we wouldn't be able to be sealed to our families for all time and eternity.

It was Elder Yepez's last District Meeting on Tuesday. He is so incredibly trunky. So this is what it's like to send a missionary home! Some bummer news is that Elder Yepez's family isn't coming to pick him up from his mission anymore. That was the original plan but they had to change so now Elder Yepez has to fly home. Personally I'd rather do that than get picked up. I want the plane experience! But he was pretty excited to get picked up by his family so that's a bummer.

Bob Lininger passed his baptismal interview and he has the green light to be baptized on Wednesday! He is so funny. When we gave him the baptismal questions yesterday to prep him for the actual interview, he was having trouble remembering the lessons, like law of chastity, Word of Wisdom, etc. So I wrote down a summarized version of each lesson for him to study over before the interview. When we saw him yesterday at church and asked him if he went over the questions and was ready he responded with a "Dang right!" and proceeded to his seat. He also jokingly reminded us if it didn't go well and he failed he was going to tell our zone leaders we didn't teach him well and throw us under the bus. He is hilarious.

In regards to your question, Mom, about what makes a good Ward Mission Leader, here are my two cents. My best ward mission Leader was definitely Brother Pike. He was very dedicated in his calling and would have us call him every night and report to him how our day went. He hardly ever missed a Sunday missionary correlation, and whenever we didn't have a dinner or there was a cancelation, he would have us over for dinner. He just always made time for us and was always missionary minded. As long as Bro. DuClos just gives it his all, he will be a good Ward Mission Leader. There's a reason the Lord call him to such an important job.

Well that's been our week, mostly teaching Bob Lininger, but it's worth it to see him get baptized and eventually go to the temple with his family. It's sad to hear the news about Elder Perry. Mom, I saw your email while looking for something the Tech Elders sent during a tech training and it was a huge bummer on my day. But I know he did his job here and the welcome home he's getting must be incredible. I'm so grateful for dedicated apostles and prophets who lead and guide us back to our Heavenly Father.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis