Monday, August 3, 2015

A Wildfire and a Drought in the Apartment

The sun during the middle of the day, covered with smoke

Me and Elder Christensen

It's an honor having a winery named after me

Elder Frodsham eating Elder Christensen's "Greenie" breakfast

Catching a chicken so it's wings can be clipped

Me and my friend, Earl

Hola mi familia y amigos!

So some crazy things have been happening this week. It might be up in the top five most unexpected and insane serious of events of my mission. But I'm enjoying every moment of it!

On Tuesday at District Meeting I taught about having a good work ethic. That in the grand scheme of things, these two years are such a short season and we need to make the most out of the time the Lord has given us to work in His service. It's so easy to allow yourself to get lazy, especially when you are working so often and doing the same things over and over. It can get repetitive and easy to lose motivation to work, but we have to remember that we as missionaries, and everyone for that matter, will stand accountable to God for how we spent the valuable time he has given us, and I don't want to tell Him that I wasted it. So that's one of the reasons I keep trying my best to press forward and not give up while in His service......or ever, for that matter. Just because you're not a full-time missionary doesn't mean you haven't been given valuable time to perform your labors (Alma 34:32). So something we decided to do in our Sunday leadership meeting last week was make Zone challenges for the zone to strive to meet. It's important to have goals to work toward so one has a vision of what they are aiming for. When you have defined goals, it's easier to not only track your progress but also meet your goal. Our goal this week was for the entire zone to collectively get 500 contacts. There are some missionaries in our zone who don't try that hard so I don't think we made our goal. I am not trying to just throw them under the bus, because Elder Christensen and I could've done better too, but it's hard when not everyone is on board and trying to work, especially when you are counting on them to step up their game.

After District Meeting I went on exchanges with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Frodsham. It's cool since I was there in the San Rafael zone when he was a greenie, and now he's my ZL. He is such an awesome and loving guy. We had such a good day, not to mention it was a super busy day of unadulterated craziness. We had 3 lessons, one of them was with my recent convert, Bob Linginger who then fed us dinner. It's a bummer since he isn't coming to any of the meetings other than sacrament. Next lesson we have to teach him the importance of the Priesthood and its role in being able to have an eternal family. Hopefully we can get him coming to more of church from that lesson. We also had a lesson with Annie and her boyfriend James, who both want to be baptized. We taught the plan of salvation, but focused on how Satan is going to throw everything he has at them to stop them from being baptized. Not a minute after we finished the closing prayer, there was an aggressive knock at the door from their landlord's nephew, yelling at them because they got a restraining order against him for walking into their apartment whenever he wants. Also, he refuses to turn their power and water on so the landlord was also probably mad that they told the sheriff about that. Basically the fruits of the confrontation was that they might get evicted - which brings us back to satan throwing everything he can at them. Then to finish the day we had a lesson with Dave and Natalie, and we recommitted them to pray about baptism and whether God wants them to do that or not. So we will see whether they recognize the answer or not next time we go by!

The next morning we had breakfast with the Tipton's and Elder Frodsham stole Elder Christensen's "greenie meal" where the member makes everything the color green. I totally forgot they were going to do that when they offered to feed us breakfast during the exchange, so we had his greenie brekky! Sorry Elder Christensen!

Elder Frodsham and I had the opportunity to do service for this potential investigator family that we found through knocking on their door a couple of days prior. It's awesome how grateful they were. It really is true humility to take help from two random strangers that knock on your door offering free yard work. I really respect someone who can swallow their pride and take help like that.

While there is a drought in California, we had a personal drought in our apartment this week. The water in our apartment was turned off because the water bill wasn't paid. For some reason, the billing information was not being sent to the mission office, which it should have been. We did receive a courtesy notice on our door notifying us of the impending nightmare that would soon befall our apartment, but we weren't able to call the mission office immediately, and they ended up turning our water off on Wednesday. Warning: The following events may not be suitable for all audiences, viewer discretion is advised. We have had no water to brush our teeth, shower or use the bathroom, so we have had to travel to the church every day to do all those things, minus the showering - we have had to go to members' houses to do that. Many members heard of our plight and offered us their shower. They are so supportive but it's kind of pitiful to beg to use someone else's shower. We have a good attitude about it, I mean our water being shut off is really more of an inconvenience than anything else, but we do joke around about our situation, like how we've never before felt so homeless in our lives. I realize how incredibly ridiculous that sounds, but just having to think, "hmm, I wonder how we are going to use the bathroom today..." and how we have to go to public places to brush our teeth gives us this feeling of being homeless (except for the food, electricity and comfy beds). Elder Christensen and I started to joke that everything that went wrong throughout the week was to be blamed on our lack of water. "If only we had our water on, then that tract would've been successful!" But finally our struggles are over! After 5 long days of a drought, we finally have received water in our land! When we discovered this we literally started rejoicing and praising God. We are so happy to be able to shower in our own apartment again!

Elder Christensen and I are having the best time together. He's so funny and sharp; he's an absolute riot to be around. We are a lot alike in many ways so we don't have any problem getting along together. It's crazy how much I have loved every single one of my companions and have enjoyed my time with each of them. Some of them were harder than others, and maybe we didn't always see eye to eye, but I'm pleased to say I have had a pleasant transfer with every companion I've had. I am not sure if I just keep getting super blessed by getting awesome companions or maybe I've just learned to have more of the Christ-like attribute of love for others. Either way, we have so much fun together it's stupid.

There has been some crazy stuff happening in Lake County this week. There is a huge wildfire that started on Wednesday by Lower Lake and has been ravaging the entire area. It has apparently burned through 18,000 acres and is one of the fastest spreading wildfires California has seen. The smoke is so bad it can be seen from space. Even though it is happening in Lower Lake, which is 30 miles away, Lakeport is getting its fair share of the action. The smoke and the ash somehow traveled all the way across the lake and found its way to us. We went into the church to weekly plan with blue skies and came out 3 hours later with the strong stench of a campfire permeating all of Lakeport, ash falling out of the sky and a smokey haze covering the land. In fact there is so much smoke and ash in the air, it nearly blocked out the sun. It wasn't even sunset and the sun was red and easy to look at because of all the smoke in the air. It's kinda a bummer that the beautiful sight we beheld was a result of thousands of lives being shaken up by this massive fire. It's insane in the membrane over here. You can see a huge plume of smoke rising in the distance, accompanied by a red glow from the roaring fire on the other side of the mountain. I thought they were containing it, but apparently it doubled in size from roughly 2,200 acres to 4,700 acres. We keep joking that God has smitten this land with hellfire and brimstone because of the wickedness of this land, like Sodom and Gomorrah. That's what you get for not paying tithing! Or maybe he is just trying to destroy all the weed here. Who knows? One thing is for certain though - things are getting crazy here. Fire trucks are all over the place. It's pretty exciting in a terrible, awful, disaster kind of way.

Elder Christensen and I have had so much service this week. It has been fantastic. Service is definitely one of my favorite things about missionary work. We had 10 hours of service this week, 3 of which were from community service. We helped set up for this fundraiser called "Grillin on the Green" and set up the chairs, tables and the tents for this barbecue competition. It was overall good, except we didn't get any food from it. :(

So I've had a really good week. It's been chaotic week, with no water and half the county burning down, but it has still been a great week. I'm enjoying the time I have left in Lakeport and I'm learning a lot while I'm out here. For example my culinary skills are improving greatly. I have undertaken the challenge of preparing a halibut. This will truly test my primarily chicken-based cooking abilities. I will let you know how it goes!

Well it's about time that I wrap it up this week, but I wish to leave you with wisdom that I have learned while embarking on this adventure. My parting words to you are the following: Gentlemen, do NOT shave your armpits ever. It is the most scratchy and dreadful experience you will ever suffer through in this life and the one to come. Unless you want to try out for the swim team or a man has a gun to your head commanding you to do so, you are not to participate in such activities. If you have the burning desire to reach out to your feminine side, or try to understand women more, I recommend watching "Dear John" or several hours of The Bachelorette, but avoid this activity like the plague. 

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

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