|At the Oakland Temple|
|Me and Elder Christensen at the Oakland Temple|
|Me enjoying my new vacation suite! Ignore the children, they came with the vacation bundle.|
|The Westover family recently and temporarily moved into the ward while Brother Westover teaches at the|
University of Lucerne for a couple of months before moving back to Utah.
|I'm making chicken nuggets! Finally I have a future in working at McDonalds|
|More food pictures|
I had such a good week. It was way more productive than last week (which shall be henceforth known as the week that shall not be mentioned) and quite a few miracles happened over the last several days.
We had our temple trip which was kind of a surreal experience for me because I only have one more temple trip left now on my mission. It's exciting but also a tough pill to swallow. I love going to the temple - it always fortifies me spiritually. The 3 hour drive to and from the temple is a little rough but who am I to complain? We are so blessed to have temples so close that you can drive to in mere hours. Some people live in a location where they are only able to go to the temple once in their lives and it takes them several days, thousands of miles, and a lot of money to pull it off! So 3 hours is nothing. Now, all this being said, I'm pretty excited to get back to Utah where there is a temple on every street corner!
We had district meeting on Wednesday since Tuesday was a temple trip. I taught about obedience and I had an Elder in my district, Elder Coursey, teach about sacrifice (and he did a fantastic job, I might add). This was one of my last district meetings this transfer, and I would assume in this area. I would say it went rather well. We had these Nerf guns (and some off-brands) that we borrowed from the Sainsburys who live across the street. I actually used the bolt-action sniper rifle as a visual demonstration in my lesson. I drew the moon and some stars on a whiteboard and told Elder Coursey to hit the moon. Well the off-brand non-Nerf sniper wasn't very powerful so he stood about 10 feet out and aimed directly at the moon but it fell short. So I taught that the key to hitting the moon, or hitting our goal of baptism, is that we have to aim higher than our target. We have to aim higher in our obedience. Sometimes we try to give the bare minimum in our efforts. We try to give just enough to barely squeeze by and still hit our target. But this simply won't suffice since the Lord has asked for all we have and all our efforts. This might seem like a pretty steep request, if it weren't for the Lord offering in return all He has, and what He has is far greater than anything we could possibly give. I know we have to aim higher than what we are trying to hit, not only be obedient to the Lord's commandments but also to have a good attitude about it. As we do so, we will be able to hit our target, but not the target we want to get, or may think we want to hit, but where the Lord wants us to hit.
After district meeting I went on exchanges with Elder Snow and we did a lot of service. We helped one of our members, Sister Crites, move into Lakeport. Well she wasn't moving in but her husband was. It was pretty exciting for her since her husband has had to live in Colorado for 5 years, so it's been a long time since they have been able to live together. Reunited and it feels so good! After that, we did more service helping a less active member move a car engine. We decided to be smart about it and tied a harness around the engine and then hooked it to their quad and, with much effort and a lot of pulling and pushing from us, they dragged it to where they wanted it. We also leveled out the ground so they could put a pool in their backyard. It was a day of service, but Elder Snow and I were able to teach our Hispanic friend, Adrian. We had a pretty good lesson with him and we downloaded the gospel library on his phone so he can have the Book of Mormon in Spanish, which we got him to read some of it. We passed him off to the Spanish missionary's so now they can teach him in Spanish and all of it will make a lot more sense to him.
Thursday was a really productive Nice and Lucerne day. We taught 5 lessons - maybe that doesn't sound impressive but that's pretty good for Lake County! We were able to teach Patrick Minihan about the priesthood, which he is well on his way to receiving. We also finally met with a less active named Chyanne that we have had trouble getting a hold of. We found her (after several weeks of knocking her door with no luck) sitting outside on her porch with a group of people. So we sat down and introduced ourselves and started talking to them and they all bombarded us with a ton of questions, in a good way. We have a return appointment for next week and are trying to get Chyanne and her brother Jake (who isn't a member but told us that he wants to take the discussions while we come by to visit Chyanne) a ride to church because they both want to come. So we picked Jake up as an investigator and that's more work to be done here in the Lakeport Ward. #winning!
On Friday Elder Christensen led out with the weekly planning and he did a pretty good job. I believe that when I leave next week (at least I strongly believe I will be transferred) he will do a good job of leading the area out. Elder Christensen is a very good missionary and I am not worried about how he'll do after I leave. We had a lesson with our young investigator, Ki Morales. Last time we were over, we invited him to ask his parents if they approved of him being baptized, but unfortunately his parents said no. It's pretty sad that his parents are going to hold him back from being able to do that until he is 18 - assuming he still wants to by that age. I am really grateful that my dad allowed me to be baptized when I was 8 years old or I am sure my whole life would be very different. We also had a lesson with Natalie, but unfortunately we didn't get very far. We asked her if she prayed about baptism and she expressed concern of how big of a commitment it is. Just when I was about to testify to her that the blessings of an eternal family far outweigh the effort put in, her baby threw up on her... So that put an abrupt end to the lesson. We will have to try again next week. Darn it...
On Saturday we finally got a hold of our investigators, Annie and James! We were teaching them pretty consistently and then they randomly fell off the face of the earth! We hadn't been able to get in touch with them in a couple of weeks. We lost contact with them right after we fasted with them to help them quit smoking and then they disappeared, so we were a little concerned that they started smoking again. Sometimes we can forget the Lord doesn't need us to further His work and He can do so whether we stop by their house or not. Annie told us that she still hasn't smoked since she stopped, so that was a miracle right there. That moment helped remind me of the power of fasting. We then had a session of Stake Conference that night and my baptism, Bob Lininger, was mentioned by President Engstrom in Conference! Yay! He then talked about how little activity our Stake has - only 400 out of 3,000 members are active. That's so incredibly sad. And I'm sure many of them were active and solid members at one time. It just goes to show how easy it can be to lose yourself and fall away from the Church. When the scriptures say how strait is the gate and narrow the way that leads to eternal life, they're not joking.
We had another lesson with Annie and James on Sunday and taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ, which went pretty well - they seem to be understanding everything. I can't wait for them to move out of the nightmare of a home they live in now (their landlord is not nice and is demanding rent when he refuses to turn on their water and power, so that's stressful for them), get married, quit smoking for good, and be baptized. I hope I'm at least informed of it before it happens so I can Skype in for the baptism this time. That evening we went to see Brother Prior and he came out to greet us by abruptly announcing to us his big discovery that he has dementia... "Brother Prior, we know you have dementia, there was never any question of it." "Oh jeez, well thanks guys... Come on in." Never a dull moment with that man. So that visit we focused on writing down lots of reminders for him so he doesn't forget to do daily things, like eat breakfast or brush his teeth (which we discovered he hasn't done in a good long while nor does he even own a toothbrush... Don't worry, we got him one). I'm still eagerly waiting for Adult Services to help this man because he certainly can't live on his own anymore.
Today for one of our last p-days (although it's the last for Elder Mathusek and Elder Snow since they are going home next Monday) we are going to drive down to Middletown where the Sister's area is and play some sand volleyball and do some grilling! Elder Christensen and I are going to bring the venison steaks we received from Von McPherson and cook us some deer! We shall see how my grilling is.
Well, other than transfer doctrine being revealed to us on Friday, that's about it for this week. It's weird I have already spent 3 transfers or 4 1/2 months in this area. So according to the pattern my mission has followed, it's time for me to be moved. We shall see where I am sent next. Wherever it is, I'm excited to go there because I know that there is something I need to do or someone that I need to meet that will help my personal growth. In the beginning of my mission, I thought that areas I'd serve in and companions I'd serve with would be placed in my path for me to fix or improve - that the Lord would put them in my life so He could work through me to better them. That may be true in some cases, but I've learned that my mission has done more for me than I have for it. That in reality the Lord has placed me in areas and around people that have fixed and improved me. I am really seeing the scripture Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 fulfilled as the Lord has worked with that one soul so closely, only to realize that the one is me.
Love, Elder Hayden Ellis