Elder Christensen and I had a pretty decent week, although it felt like it was pretty long. The work in this area is really picking up. We have four progressing investigators which is more than we have had my entire time spent here, and we set a baptismal date with one of our investigators! Planting seeds all day, every day!
Tuesday was a rather somber day for Elder Christensen and I, which I will explain why in just a second. We had District Meeting (henceforth known as Elders Quorum meeting, since the sisters have been cast out of the zone by fire and brimstone) and Elder Mallory was discussing with us how to better find people to teach. At the end he shared with us a rather sharp and chastening scripture in D&C 60:2-3, "But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man.Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them. And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have." Man, hearing that sure made me feel inadequate. I certainly could be better about opening my mouth more to people on the streets. I definitely pass up a lot of people that I could be trying to share the gospel with. That's something I need to promptly fix. Well, on to the depressing portion of our day. We found out that our investigator, David Smith, died two weeks ago. David, was very sick like my dad. He had chronic pain and had trouble getting out of a chair, let alone come to church. His health conditions prevented him from being baptized, which is something he has wanted to do for a long time now. Now he will finally be able to do it! Brother Hilt said David's family gave him permission to be baptized for him in the temple a year from now, so we are all very happy about that. But until then, his spirit will be taught about the gospel and his body will be taking a much needed rest in Fresno, where he will be buried. God knows His children, and what they need when they need it. This principle was retaught to me by us resolving David's concern last time we taught him, which was about enduring to the end. I guess he needed a little bit more comfort during this process that was coming to a close for him.
We also learned on Tuesday that Elder Richard G. Scott died. I can't believe we have had three apostles pass away all within the short time between General Conference. Heck, all have been during the time I have been in Lakeport. I am on the edge of my seat to see who is called to fill those big shoes left vacant. This next General Conference is going to be amazing, I know it! I can't wait to hear the last bit of wisdom shared by living prophets that I will hear while on my mission. Like my Mission President shared in his weekly letter this week: "This coming weekend, we have the tremendous blessing of receiving counsel from prophets, seers and revelators. I recommend that you not simply “hear” the messages given. Rather, prayerfully ponder and apply them to your missionary service. Come to conference with challenges and questions, an open and humble heart and a desire to bless God’s children and improve your missionary service." In short: we get out what we put in. If we want an incredible revelatory moment from conference, then we need to put in the effort to receive one. So everyone start preparing for conference!
On Wednesday we did service down in Clearlake with the Highlands elders. We were helping the Highland ward's Bishop's wife with some projects around her house. Elder Raban and Elder Christensen worked on deconstructing a gate to a horse corral while Elder Mallory and I searched for the spot where an underground pipe was leaking. There was this big patch of mud underneath a bush that the bishop's wife wanted us to investigate to find where the leak was coming from. Well, I mentioned how it would probably take a us a while to find it, then I proceeded to lift the edge of the bush up, and lo and behold, water was coming out of the ground! Boy, did I feel accomplished! So we dug until we found the pipe, and of course the water started shooting in the air as if we struck oil. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay for the entire pipe repairing process, but we did get to help a little. So I'm just that much more knowledgeable with pvc piping, which, considering how much I knew before, is still not that impressive.
We had dinner with Dennis and Vessa Wednesday night. I left them with a dinner message about a talk given by Elder Scott, which I felt was appropriate considering the news we received the day before. In the talk it encourages us to demonstrate and exercise our faith by reading the scriptures, praying, and having family home evening, which is what we also encouraged them to do, specifically to have family home evening every Monday. So they committed to do that after tomorrow when we help them move into their new house. I think having that set family time will be immensely good for the family, especially Dennis.
There are some days when I wake up and just have the feeling that I am going to have to drag myself through the day. On Thursday I woke up with that feeling. That morning I was sooo unenthused at the thought of that day. I am not sure why, but I just had a feeling it was going to be rough going, but we ended up getting a lot more done than I thought we would. We had another lesson with Richard Bennett. After that, we drove to Lucerne, and we taught Jake Anderson-Turner and his sister, Cheyenne, who is a member, with Brice Beare as a member present. Last time we went over, we explained our purpose as missionaries and this visit we taught them about the Restoration. We have to teach very simply because Jake has some learning disabilities, and is just overall not really familiar with God in general. So we have to take the teaching veeery slowly. Even with his limited understanding of God and Jesus Christ, he wants to be baptized and have a closer relationship with them. So Jake is the one who we set a baptismal date for - November 9th. He actually chose the date, which is also his birthday. I really think that helps when you and your investigator choose a date for them to be baptized that holds significance to them, like a birthday or anniversary. That way they are more motivated to make their date because it's their only chance to make the date that's important to them unless they want to wait a whole year to try again. November 9th will definitely mean a lot more to him than some date that he views as some random day that we would try to help him to reach.
Thursday night Elder Christensen and I had dinner at the Jones' house with our investigators, Brenda and Chase. I was surprised that Chase and Brenda accepted the invitation to dinner since they didn't even know who the Jones were. But they really hit it off and Sister Jones was the MVP of the lesson. She did an awesome job fellowshipping and befriending them! We are going to have our lessons with Chase and Brenda at the Jones' house from now. Members are so key to missionary work. It's so much harder on us when we try to do it by ourselves. Remember that everyone! The full time missionaries need the member missionaries!
Friday was pretty slow this week. We had the normal weekly planning thing that took three to four hours, which is average. I think I've done a pretty adequate job of keeping trunky thoughts out of my emails, but allow me to diverge briefly from standard email protocol and propose one trunky feeling I have. I am so excited to not have to weekly plan every week anymore. Planning every second of every day is so tedious and mind numbing. Don't get me wrong, being able to plan around my schedule is definitely a valuable life lesson which I will utilize in the future, but I'm more of a spontaneous person. I kind of like flying by the seat of my pants and see what happens. If a friend of mine were to come up to me and randomly say, "Hey, I am going to New Zealand tomorrow, wanna come?" The first thing out of my mouth would be, "what time is the plane leaving?" Now that example may be a little out there, but I do like the spontaneity of life. So I am looking forward to not having such a tight schedule anymore. Well, after a few hours of my brain rotting from planning, we decided to take a break to commence our Elusive Elders plan! There's something in our mission called Secret Sisters and Elusive Elders, which is just the missionary version of secret Santa. My zone decided to do it this transfer and we had the Zone Leaders this week. What we did was we broke into their apartment (and by broke in I mean their roommates, Elder Wilkes and Elder Cote let us in) and left surprises throughout their apartment, like bags of popcorn, mug cake mix, and a pitcher of horchata. We left clues in the form of scripture verses to guide them to where everything was hidden, like: "no unclean thing can enter the kingdom of God," we hid something in their shower, and: "feast upon the words of Christ," we hid something in their kitchen cabinets by their food, etc. So it's pretty safe to assume we totally won this week Elusive Elder-wise. Friday night we had dinner with my recent convert, Bob Lininger, and his wife. Buuuut, first he took us for a ride in his '75 Chevy convertible! I felt like a somebody! I felt like a big shot, like Kennedy. Ya'know...before he got shot... Well I digress. We had salmon for dinner; I love the Liningers, I can always rely on them to make awesome seafood for us. Wow, all I did in this paragraph was complain about planning and talk about fish... Sorry for wasting everyone's time with this one.
There were a lot of people who came up to me throughout the week to give their condolences about my father. I've really appreciated the support and love people have been showing. I just want to assure everyone that I am doing well and my missionary service has been minimally affected by my Dad's passing. I've been able to stay focused on the work at hand. It's obviously been hard, but it's nothing that I can't handle, or rather nothing the Lord hasn't been preparing me to handle. Considering my how my life has been so far, the Lord has definitely taken it easy on me when it comes to trials and tribulations.
We went to try to see Brother Prior on Sunday. This is probably the third time he hasn't answered his door this week. We are getting concerned, especially because this time we tried opening his door, which was unlocked, and we went into his house. He wasn't home and there was a bag on his table indicating he was in the ER this week. He cannot live by himself anymore. The bishop is going to get serious and call Adult Services and get Brother Prior the help he needs. That night we had a lesson with Natalie. Unfortunately, she didn't read any of the Book of Mormon like we committed her to do last time we saw her, so we began reading with her in chapter one of 1 Nephi. And boy was that a struggle! There were so many distractions! Her baby, Preston, on her lap kept trying to eat her Book of Mormon, and crying when she wouldn't let him. The motion sensor light wouldn't stop turning off. And her daughter Angie was bouncing off the walls! But we managed to get through what we planned to go over and hopefully she will do her part and keep reading. She will never know if this church is true if she doesn't find time to sit down and read the book that binds the entire church together!
Well, to end our Sunday night we tried, and failed, to go see an investigator, Adrian, who we passed off to the Spanish missionaries that we visit once in a while. When we started heading back to our car, we saw how many stars were out, not to mention the lunar eclipse (and we saw some shooting stars, which I have never seen in person before! So that was pretty cool for me!). So we may have gotten a little distracted, but it helped remind me how beautiful the Lord's creations are. There's no way all this happened by accident. It was carefully created by an infinitely and eternally loving Being.
Well, that was basically my week. I hope everyone has a stellar week and happy conference everyone!
Love, Elder Hayden Ellis