Monday, July 6, 2015

Meeting the New Mission President and a Miracle

Sophie spending some bonding time with her cousin, Elder Ellis

Happy Sixth of July!

Elder Stephenson and I had a really good and eventful week, as opposed to the last couple of weeks which were a little slower. There were some bad parts, just like in any other week as a missionary. I was super bummed to read about President Packer, but I wasn't surprised. We are going to have a new line up in the Quorum of the Twelve pretty soon, which is weird since we haven't had a change since Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin died in 2008. It's going to be a change up, and maybe an adjustment, but we mustn't forget that whoever is chosen is chosen of God. Regardless of our fondness of President Packer and Elder Perry, whomever fills their shoes deserve our sustaining just as much as their predecessors.

On Tuesday I went on exchanges with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Mathusek, who is from New Jersey (don't worry Stephen, I made fun of him for the both of us.) Going on an exchange this transfer was pretty refreshing, since there are only sisters in my District, and exchanges with them is widely frowned upon, so obviously we avoid it. Elder Mathusek is quite an interesting character, but he is so funny and we get along very well. I've never actually had a bad exchange before. I always have a lot of fun on them, even if I assume differently going into it, and I always walk away loving that Elder more than I had prior. That's something my mission has taught me a lot about, through exchanges and various companions, is that you can learn to love anyone, despite how different they are or how much you think you will dislike them. There is something to love in every single person, you just have to find it and build upon it. And if you can't seem to find something in a missionary or companion that you can love, remember that they are just as much on a mission as you are, and right there is something that's deserving of your love.

Well earlier that day for District meeting, Elder Stephenson and I basically taught a zone meeting since the other District Leader was sick. Everyone was in our District meeting and our Zone is so small that we had only an additional four people. That's another thing my mission has helped me grow in - I'm not afraid to teach in big groups of people or talk in public anymore. (Now Bishop Lusty, that doesn't mean you have the green light to peg me with any more Sacrament talks besides my home coming! After that I'll be good for a little while before I'm ready to give another talk. Don't get any ideas...) That has been a great blessing to me that some of my stage fright has dissipated. Missions truly do prepare you for the rest of your life!

So our miracle for this week was meeting Dave and Natalie. On Wednesday we weren't able to drive up to Upperlake like we normally do since we were asked to help out with a baptism that was happening that day, so we decided we were going to try to find a list of people in Lakeport. While I was doing a little bit of Facebook work, Elder Stephenson came across some names of former investigators that we should try to go see. As we were driving to our first stop, I saw the name 'Dave' out of all the other names and felt like we should go to see him first. We didn't at all feel like we were being led to him - we thought we were just going about our normal stuff that day. Well, when we knocked on his door a woman answered. She looked sad was not looking too good. We asked if Dave was home and she turned into the house and called out "Dave, the Mormons are here to see you". The way she said it made me think the worst and right then we were thinking, "Oh jeez... this probably won't go well...." Well this man who had no shirt on and was covered in tattoos came to the door and looked just as sad and beaten down as her. He stepped outside with the woman and they had us sit down outside on their porch. He asked us, "Why did you stop by today of all days?" We told him that we wanted to know if he was interested in learning about God. He then asked, "But why today?" He then began to inform us that he had said a prayer just an hour and a half ago asking God for help and direction. He went on to tell us how he had wanted to die, and so did Natalie. We were just shocked to be there at that time, and they were even more astounded that we were there. Dave had gotten so low in his life that he felt like there was nothing here for him. He has kids, but he has just been beaten down in life so much that he is losing hope. Natalie, too, had prayed for help just before we got there, but neither of them knew the other had prayed so that was really powerful for them as well. When we showed up and they saw we were sent from God as an answer to their prayers, they were just blown away. They both started to cry at the thought that God was aware of them. We went on to bless their home and help them know God loves them and he is very aware of their trials. It felt so good to be an answer to a prayer. We had a second lesson with them a couple of days later and it was a lot more chaotic and less effective than the first. There didn't seem to be any focus from them in the lesson and they were asking so many random questions during it. They also didn't come to church yesterday when they were originally adamant about attending. They have a lot of potential but I guess it all depends on how much this answer from God means to them. We will see how it goes!

Elder Stephenson and I were able to help out with a baptism for the Southwicks, whose 8-year-old son was baptized on Wednesday night. I always love baptisms and having a role in them. It's a life changing moment for someone and their family and playing a small role in the ordination is an honor. The two of us were asked to be the witnesses and we shared a last-minute missionary moment (we had no idea we were even going to be asked to assist in the baptism until five minutes before it started, and we also didn't know we were going to do a missionary moment, but fortunately I've gotten pretty good at being put on the spot while I've been out here.) Also, we were invited to stand in the circle for the confirmation, which is always a special honor for me.

We had a really good day on Thursday. Usually Thursday is our Nice and Lucerne day and we actually found a lot of people to come back and teach this week. One woman just yelled at us while we were walking past her and she asked us when she could make an appointment with us. We went and met this one man who lives in Lucerne, named Robert. Robert is a native American who used to meet with missionaries. He let us in and we talked to him about the Book of Mormon, and he had some misconceptions about it. After we explained it, we invited him to try reading it again and he said he would, so we are going to go by and teach him again next week.

The Lake County and Ukiah Zones had our meet'n'greet with President Wright and his family in the Ukiah Stake Center on Saturday. He is such a spiritual giant, and a scriptorian like you wouldn't believe. He knows the scriptures, handbooks, and Jesus the Christ down the page number. It's insane how smart he is, and he is also so incredibly happy. He will be a really loving and efficient mission president. Sister Wright is nothing like Sister Alba. She's not as energetic and whimsical as Sister Alba, but she is loving in her own way. I don't see her calling us her little "Lambies" anytime soon, which is kinda a bummer. #Lambie4life. They also will have two of their kids living with them at the mission home, which is really weird. I'm sure it's stranger for them to be living with their parents who preside over a mission. Well, I talked to President Wright about when I will be returning home and he will look into it and get back to me. So my concern has been filed and soon I will get some answers. Stay tuned!

I have developed such a strong testimony in fasting, especially fast offerings, since I've been out here. I was really slacking the first half of my mission with fast offerings, but after the last General Conference when Elder Eyring spoke on members donating fast offerings and I was rebuked by an apostle of God and the spirit, I started paying fast offerings. Afterward, I once again got rebuked in Zone meeting for not paying a DECENT fast offering. Since changing my ways and paying a honest offering, I've seen the miracles that come from it.

Malachi 3:8-10
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

It's not even our money to begin with, so we are expected to make a small sacrifice and give a little bit back to the Lord. If we do we will be blessed - that's a promise. Lesson learned!

I've been learning so much on my mission, like what kind of member I want to be when I go home, but more importantly, what kind of priesthood holder I want to be. I've seen and met many people on my mission, some that I admired and some that weren't very impressive at all. All of which have helped me learn who I need to be when I am home. If a mission does anything for you it's teach you who God expects you to be for the rest of your life.

I met a member that lives in Modesto, and I told her I had a friend, Elder Moore, who is serving there. I showed her a picture of him and she says she may have seen him before but she will keep an eye out, just in case.

Yeah, Mom, I do know who Sister Majors is, but I only talked to her probably one time. She is one of the sisters that took over my area in Cordelia 2nd Ward! And yes, Brianna is correct, she is very short. Haha!

Well, that's my week! It was chocked full of good stuff. My Fourth of July was pretty mundane as a missionary, which basically consisted of us going to Ukiah and watching people in the neighborhood shoot off illegal fireworks. So that was fun, I guess. I hope everyone had a great 4th! I love you all and remember not to do anything I wouldn't do!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

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