Monday, August 31, 2015

Staying in Lakeport and Baby Goats

Awesome district picture with us lifting our beloved Zone Leader, Elder Frodsham, in triumph!

A baby goat/future Greek gyro

Our district

Beach volleyball

Brother Prior

The Crites

The Liningers

Patrick Minihan

The Olsens

The Southwicks - the best burger I've ever had came from this man's grill

Hi everyone!

I would like start off this weekly report with a humorous joke. "So the past, present and future all walked into a bar; it was tense." Alright, now that I have removed all doubt that I am an idiot, here's how my week went!

District meeting was on Tuesday and it went alright considering I hardly had any time to teach my segment about doctrine of Christ. I asked Elder Snow and Elder Christensen to teach as well and they didn't leave me with much time. But that's okay, it didn't really bother me. I would rather allow others the chance to get better or more comfortable teaching in crowds like district meeting. Elder Christensen did a very good job and he seems to be more comfortable teaching in settings like that, so that's good. That will probably be the last district meeting I conduct since this next transfer I am not the District Leader. I'm sure my next DL, Elder Wilkes, whom I love dearly, will ask us to teach segments, so I am not off the hook quite yet!

On Wednesday we had a zone service project down in Clearlake and helped out a member family on their ranch. Finally I was able to release my inner Kansas boy and get down to my roots! At first when we got there, I don't think they really had anything for us to do, so we just watched some teenage girls ride their horses around the riding arena. As they were doing some laps, they yelled that they needed some rodeo clowns to hop in the barrels that they were doing figure 8's around... So needless to say, I heeded the call along with Elders Mathusek, Frodsham and Mallory and we each hopped in a barrel! So there we were, standing in barrels while these girls rode their horses around and in between us. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Too bad no one had a camera when it was happening. After a good while of messing around, we finally were summoned to the horse stalls for some poop scooping, which ended up falling on the shoulders of Elder Mallory and I while everyone else played with baby goats. So after one wheelbarrow was filled to the brink with horse excrement, they had me walk one of the baby goats on a leash while the stall was cleaned. Now I want you all to imagine me being given instructions by a ten-year-old girl to walk a baby goat around on a leash and follow it WHEREVER it goes. Then, proceed to imagine me following these directions to a tee. I faithfully shadowed that ADHD goat everywhere it went, even to the point where it was almost trampled by a horse, but that's a story for another day... So just to summarize: I was a clown for an impromptu rodeo, shoveled my weight in defecation, humbly (at least I tried to) took ridiculous orders from children half my age, and took a goat for a little walky where it almost was stomped to death by a large stallion. Not sure if this was a successful service project or not... But at least the owners of the ranch were satisfied with it.

Thursday was our productive day, like every week. We were able to teach our new investigator in Lucerne, Jake, and also his sister, Chyanne, who is a member. Jake had some pretty good questions, like how can he develop a closer relationship with God, and when he does, how will he know that he did? We explained to him baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. After we explained the importance of being baptized by proper authority, Jake said that he wanted to be baptized and he assured us that he would read the Restoration pamphlet and start reading the Book of Mormon with his sister.

We also taught the recent move-in (who I talked about a week or so ago) named Rueben, along with his mom, Crystal. Crystal is also a member and has lived in Lucerne for a few years. She's not active, but expressed her desire to start coming to church again. She told us she didn't even know there was an LDS church here in Lake County. I have heard that concern a lot actually. Just like it explains in D&C 123:12 "For there are many yet on the earth...and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it--" there are non-members who are kept from the truth because they don't where to find it and there are members who don't go to church because they simply don't know where the building is! So we encouraged her to put away her nervousness and hesitations about getting active again and just come back to church. And she did! She and Rueben were at church on Sunday! We will go by weekly and read the Book of Mormon with them to help them understand it better.

Thursday evening we had dinner at the Pockrus's house. We had chicken Alfredo and it was delicious, but that's not the point I am trying to make, so disregard that. Something happened that really built my testimony about the promise in D&C 33 that says, "open your mouths and it shall be filled". Sister Pockrus is a fairly recent convert to the church and she had a question about the Word of Wisdom. I guess she didn't fully understand it to be a commandment as opposed to merely suggested living. Her question was why we have to quit smoking before we are baptized and why we can't just quit afterward. I guess she has talked to many people about this before, including a Mission President, and never received an answer that resonated with her. So without thinking, I told her that the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity are two sides of the same coin. Transgressing the Word of Wisdom kills our body while transgressing the Law of Chastity dulls and damages us spiritually. I shared with her my knowledge about the soul, and how the human soul is made up of both the spirit and the body (D&C 88:15). So since both the spirit and body constitute a living soul, any harm we inflict to our body by smoking, for example, or to our spirit by breaking the law of Chastity, we are literally killing our soul. That's why, among other reasons, we are required to live the Word of Wisdom. When I finished I was amazed to hear Sister Pockrus tell me that I had answered her question. Her question came out of nowhere and I didn't have time to collect my thoughts, but I just found myself talking and the spirit took over and did the rest. I know that as we hearken to the counsel in D&C 85:84 which says, "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man" we truly shall be given in the very moment what we need to say by the spirit.

For the first time since I've been on my mission, transfer information was brought before us on Saturday instead of Friday. The votes are in and the area that Elder Ellis will go to next is..... Still Lakeport? Yep, that's right, I am going to stay here in Lakeport for a total of six months. To be completely honest, I was not pleased to receive this information. In fact, the word "distraught" comes pretty close to describing my feelings when I received the news. It's not that I don't like this area; I absolutely LOVE this area, but six months is a long time to stay in any area. I never wanted to have a 6-month area anywhere - I mean that's 1/4 of my mission in one place! Not to mention this means I am going to get trunky transferred and only have 6 weeks in my last area so I will hardly have any time to get adjusted to the area before I return home. So, I was a little ticked when I heard I was staying. Maybe a little overwhelmed. Were jokes made that God had forsaken me? Perhaps. But after a little while of being sore about it, my rationality began to sink in and I started to think how dragging my feet and complaining about it wasn't going to help at all. For some reason, the Lord still wants me here, whether it's because there is something He wants me to do or something He wants me to do better, and he's giving me another chance. I'm not sure, but I do know that whether I like it or not, this is where I need to be. Then that night I read a quote that only confirmed my feelings: "The only zone on your mission you should never want to be in is your comfort zone. If you are in your comfort zone then you aren't growing and progressing. Get out, try harder, reach farther. Trust in the Lord and stretch, that is when you experience the most growth. Recognize what we were sent here to do and then go and do it. We weren't sent here to watch Netflix, watch fireworks, be comfortable, etc... Do whatever needs to be done to grow so that when you look back on your life, the Lord will have no reason to ask you why you didn't try harder." I never want to hear the Lord ask me why I wasted all the time He gave me to work out here. So regardless of whether I am happy to be here or not, I have work to do. I am grateful for a God that loves me enough to not give me what I want, but what He knows I need, whether I am initially happy about it or not.

Well that's basically my week. I still don't know when my release date is, but at least I got President Wright working on it, so hopefully we will know soon.

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

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