Monday, August 10, 2015

A Sad Kitty and Shrimp Kabobs

 I love this picture so much because my face is so happy (and kinda of creepy) and the cat
just looks so depressed. The contrast between my joy and the cat's sorrow is almost artistic.
We tracted a guy who was restoring this old porsche
Holding hands with my #1 girl Braylin! This girl is crazy about me! She walks up and gives
my legs hugs and yells at me across the chapel calling me "Dada"
I had a long talk with Braylin, telling her that I needed my space, but it's not clicking.

Hello all,

[insert creative intro paragraph here]

Our Zone conference was really good. It was all about improving the way we contact people and introduce them to the gospel. I know it can be really easy to get into a robotic pattern of how we talk to people, and we start to lose our drive to REALLY share the gospel. The Zone Leaders talked about not being complacent with mediocrity and not just trying to survive in our mission, but striving to thrive in our mission. I think they did a very good job with their preparation. Also, we made our goal of getting 500 contacts this week! Somehow we managed to scrape together 501 contacts. Not sure how we pulled that off, but we did it! The next challenge is to get 40 baptismal invitations as a zone. That one will be a little tougher but I'm confident we can do it, even if we just barely make it. These challenges have really helped me have something visible to try to strive to reach. It has helped me get back in gear and go harder in the paint.

We went tracting and talked to two really awesome guys who both accepted a house blessing! One of the guys had a Navy SEAL trident on his shirt, so I asked him if he was a SEAL. He told me he wasn't but that he worked with them. So of course that led to a conversation about my dad. It was a very pleasant conversation and he said we could come back another time.

On a less pleasant note, we tracked into this women who was SOOO MAD to see us. Holy Moses, she was hostile - spitting straight venom at us! She told us to go away and mocked us for saying we were servants of Jesus Christ. Then when I stayed there, kinda bewildered by the cruelty we were receiving, she told me to stop staring at her and that she had already found Jesus Christ. As we were walking away trying to suppress the bitter feelings that were starting to well up, I wondered how someone could claim to be committed to Christ when they can't even keep the commandment to love one another. But hey, who am I to give her a hard time? I walked away with some not so good feelings toward her just like she had some not so good feelings toward us. Normally I am pretty good at keeping a good attitude toward people who just straight up persecute us, but for some reason she got to me. Just goes to show I still have a lot I need to work on.

Last week we received a referral from Elder Green in Ukiah, the missionary I replaced here in Lakeport. He texted us saying a women by the name of Dianne in Lucerne wants us to come by and meet with her. So we called her and she seemed pretty friendly. We set up an appointment to come by on Wednesday and she blew us off. So we will try again this Thursday and see how it goes.

On Wednesday night we had dinner with a nonmember who loves missionaries, Von, and her family. They always feed us quite well when they have us over. We had shrimp kabobs and I was happy the rest of the night! You'd think I would get more seafood in California since it's on the ocean, but oddly enough I ate more seafood in landlocked Kansas. Maybe members here have the mindset that missionaries don't enjoy delicious marine food. This causeth my heart to sorrow. Von's family gave us a ton of meat to cook so I'm improving my cooking skills again! We got some pork chops, which I cooked up that turned out really well. We also were given a lot of venison which we brought over to Chris' house and we cooked up - it was awesome! I'm a venison convert for sure. I am actually impressed with how far my culinary prowess has evolved from Top Raman to various meats of deer and pig.

On Thursday we were talking to Richard Bennet about the Book of Mormon and how it really is the only book that was written specifically for the people in this day and age to help us come closer to Christ. It's totally true. The Bible has been used by everyone since Christ walked the earth, even the Nephites used it. But the Book of Mormon was saved for us in this day. It applies to the people now more than any other book, and that's why it can bring us closer to God than any other book. I'm grateful for the fully restored truth we have available to us.

So, in other fun news, Nice is on fire. And also the Rocky fire is 70% contained last time we heard but a new fire has started right where the old one was and it's spreading almost as fast. So I have no clue when this place is going to stop burning to the ground.

We had an awesome lesson with Natalie, our investigator. Dave wasn't feeling up to a lesson since he had a long day at work, but Natalie came out to talk with us. We sat on her front porch and talked with her about her job a little. She is an IHSS worker, and of course that segued into a topic about Brother Prior and how he needs help (we found out that night that Sister Tipton got ahold of his father and progress is being made to getting Brother Prior some sort of assistance). She told us a little bit about her family and how there have been problems there relating to poor health. We started talking about how everyone has family problems and how the gospel can bless families and that they can be eternal. We followed up with her about whether she has been praying about baptism and if she has received an answer from God. She told us she has been seeing some signs that God wants her to be baptized. She was at work one day and found a whole bunch of Joseph Smith papers at the bottom of her client's closet. So that's a sign if I've ever seen one. Plus we always stop by the day she's thinking about us, so she's been noticing that as well. We briefly went over the gospel of Jesus Christ and gave her the pamphlet for her to read. Next time we go over we are going into more detail about the gospel of Jesus Christ and commit her to baptism. Not sure what the plan with Dave is anymore, but hopefully he follows her lead when he sees the gospel working for her.

I just found out this week that Ashley Alexander is having another baby! It's pretty exciting news. I love babies! They are just like little people but they poop themselves more. It's weird how we found out before anyone else. They hadn't even told all of their family and somehow a schlub like me (I threw a little bit of Yiddish in there for you grandpa, just to keep you interested) was told about it. So just in case more people read my blog than I think, I am just going to leave it at that. #babyboom

So things are starting to settle down here a little bit. The fire is expected to be extinguished by Wednesday. As of yesterday, it was 70% contained, which is stellar considering they were stuck at 5% for at least a week. The firefighters here are making a lot of progress and the community doesn't fail to recognize it. There are signs all over that people make saying thank you to the firefighters. They are like celebrities here. I can't imagine what it would be like if people loved missionaries that much - everywhere we walk people wave at us and are genuinely happy to see us and we would want for nothing! Oh wait, there is a place like that, it's Utah... I guess I'm so battle hardened over here I forgot there was a magical place like that! Haha! All joking aside, we are really well taken care of here. The Lakeport members are wonderful people and really jump to the aid of missionaries whenever we may need help. When our water was out last week we had so many invitations to use the members' showers whenever we needed to. The love is being felt here in Lakeport Ward.

The work is actually going pretty well here. Maybe it's not on fire right now, (well it technically is, but you know what I mean) but I see this being a really fruitful area in a few months to come. It's pretty good now but I see a lot more potential for the people here. We have two guaranteed baptisms coming up with James and Annie. They have their roadblocks that they will get past with time, but they have such strong desires to be baptized, so I know it will happen very soon. Also, I see Natalie taking the plunge; Dave is kind of in the air at this point but I think when he sees Natalie showing desire, it will help him to figure out what he wants to do. So that's possibly two more. Not to mention we have gotten a few referrals that seem promising. One active family, the Easthams, want us to teach their 10-year-old special needs son the lessons. He isn't really accountable for baptism, but they were told by the bishop that if he wants to be baptized then of course he can. So she might have us over to teach the him the discussions. That will be cool for the family to have done.

I don't think I have much more time left in this area, so I have determined that my job here now is to build up the area for missionaries to come. That's the role I feel like I took in Napa as well. I have already seen this area improve greatly during the time I have been here. So I am going to keep working and apply a lesson I learned in scouts when it came to a campsite: "Leave it looking better than when you found it." Well, that's how my week looked. I have a zone conference tomorrow in Ukiah and I have to be there early for a leadership meeting with all the DL's, ZL's and STL's. I'm not sure what will be discussed but we shall see!

Love you all, and remember that in all that you do, give 100%, unless you're donating blood.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

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