Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Native American Dance and a Zombie Nerf Gun War

Elder Frodsham is a hotdog

Elder Ellis likey! Assassins Creed hooks!

Getting back to my Kansas roots and baling hay

Getting ready for our p-day activity

Happy week 6!

Hello everyone! Might I begin my letter home with an abrupt exclamation - GENERAL CONFERENCE WAS AMAZING!!! Hrmph, now that I got that outburst out of my system, how's everyone doing? I'll talk about my feelings of conference in a little bit, we must abide by my established emailing protocol and take it one day at a time.

Last Monday for p-day we had a very last minute planned and impromptu Nerf gun war in the church cultural hall. But here is the kicker! Since we only had two Nerf guns, which is not sufficient for the preferred Nerf war, we arranged a zombie first person shooter instead! So we had one or two persons with a gun vs everyone else who was a zombie. It was terrifying. At one point you have so much adrenaline pumping you forget your life is not actually in danger. It went pretty well considering it was a last minute decision. We set up obstacles, basically just tables and chairs, in the gym and turned the lights off, so it was really freaky. It's just you, a flashlight, a Nerf gun, and room full of people trying to kill you. It was so much fun. I was nominated to go solo vs everyone else and see how long I could last. So my standing record is 11 minutes! We even went as far to acquire a GoPro and use that to chronicle the chaos. Unfortunately, it was too dark to see anything, but we are going to make some improvements and do it again today for P-Day, although this time we have guns for everyone, the Highlands Elders will be there too, and it will be more planned out. So I'm really excited.

On Tuesday we followed up with our Native American investigator, Leo, on whether he is reading the Book of Mormon. To our great joy, he has been reading it! He asked us about the beginning of the Book of Mormon concerning the testimony of Joseph Smith, and how he saw an angel who led him to some plates which he translated by God, etc. He brought up a common concern people have about Joseph Smith which is how this story is far fetched and difficult to believe. He even went as far as to compare it to the TV show Ancient aliens. Now something that I personally don't understand is why people constantly put a cap on what God is capable of. Anyone who believes in Christ (Leo included, him being a Catholic) should be able to believe that Joseph Smith was led by an angel to ancient scripture. If someone doesn't believe Joseph Smith's story because they think he was lying and none of it actually happened, well then that's one thing, but to say something as miraculous as him conversing with the Lord, being led by an angel, and translating holy script is far fetched and couldn't happen, and then go on to tell us the bible is the word of God, that I can't wrap my head around. All kinds of miracles happened in the bible! People say that Joseph Smith couldn't have seen God and His Son, Christ? Well Stephen did. And not only that, but Moses chatted with a bush... so that right there shows the Lord can talk to His prophets in any way, shape, or fashion he wants, including in person. An angel appearing to Joseph Smith is hard to believe? God often used His angels to carry out His works, whether it was to declare glad tidings, or warn of danger to come, or even just to comfort and support His children. If you examine the different appearances of angels in the bible, something like one revealing additional scripture finally to be brought forth isn't hard to believe. And Joseph Smith interpreting an ancient language? The way I see it is God is fluent in all languages. If He is able to confound the tongue of man, like He did at the Tower of Babel, than He is able to expound words written by man, inspired by Him, to a man. As I explained this to Leo it made more sense to him and his doubts (concerning this particular topic, of course) dissipated. But I want to bare record that I know miracles have happened since the dawn of this earth. Seas have been split, donkeys have spoken, and the dead have been raised. And just as miracles have happened then, they continue today. The Master of miracles has not ceased His work, and the account of Joseph Smith is nothing short of a miracle.

Well I hope you enjoyed my soap-boxing. I guess I am still in the General Conference spirit!

We had a pretty rough day on Wednesday, but to be honest, this whole week was pretty rough missionary work-wise. All of our appointments cancelled on us, much like the rest of the week. I swear it's as if they all discuss with one another which week they wanted to synchronize their cancellations! The only good thing on Wednesday is that I did get to relive my boyish youth growing up on a farm in Kansas (that's a lie, I don't even know what a farm looks like) and bale some hay for the ranch family we do a lot of service for in Clearlake. I've baled hay twice now on my mission, both of which were here in Lake County, so it's safe to say I have mastered the art and am now ready to use a combine. Later that day, we had a member, who is a recent returned missionary, come on splits with us to see our investigator with a baptismal date. Well considering our luck, it wouldn't make any sense if they were home for the appointment, which they weren't. But maybe that was a good thing since I was not impressed with our returned missionary's behavior at all. Basically, all he did was stand on a Rameumptom and tell us how he was an amazing missionary and baptized thousands and how his mission is way better than ours and how he was foreordained to be a zone lead.......simmer down, Hoss, and just try to relax. Now who am I to declare someone else as prideful, but that being said,  I have been given an example of how not to act when I return home.

We drove to Ukiah on Thursday for a training seminar by President Wright, the AP's and the Tech Elders. While we were there, President Wright told me that my NEW-new release date is now the 18th of December because the Church doesn't like flying missionaries around during the weeks of Christmas and Thanksgiving since it's so busy at the airports - which is the same reason I stayed an extra week in the MTC since it overlapped Thanksgiving. The training was pretty good. It was all about better working with ward members and finding more people to teach, both of which I could work on.

On Friday we assisted the move of the Wiggins family (who moved to Nice during my second transfer here) and helped them load a truck that was bound for Freemont. Before we left the church to head over and help them, we grabbed a food order to deliver to a reactivating member per their request. The member was out of town so she told us to leave it with her neighbor who would get it to her when she got home. That's all fine and dandy, but she told us the wrong neighbor at first... So we went and talked to the neighbor, telling them we are delivering the food order for Crystal, and even though they were super confused they still let us in and see the food on her table. Well I told Elder Christensen to call Crystal and confirm that she let her neighbor know that we were coming, because the neighbor sure wasn't expecting us. Well, turned out she messed up and gave us the wrong neighbor, so we went over to the other side and she was expecting us. She told us it's a good thing we didn't leave the food with the other people because they just would've kept it. Bullet dodged! Later that night we taught our young investigator, Ki, who we read the children's Book of Mormon with, which he is almost finished reading all the way through! Then he tried to sell us cookie dough for his schools fund raiser...umm, no thanks buddy, but thanks for the offer.

We had an awesome day on Saturday! First of all, General Conference was amazing! I am so grateful we have such inspired leaders to teach us the things God wants us to know this very day! I think some of my favorite talks from the first session were Elder Holland's (I was practically crying by the end; I know, I am a mama's boy), Elder Hales' advice to youth; "we don't marry perfection, we marry potential", this is good advice for my future wife when she is considering me as a candidate. Also, the talk by President Uchtdorf about not over-complicating the gospel. "Tell a man there are billions of stars, he will believe you. Tell somebody that there is wet paint on a wall. He will touch it just to be sure", that's so true it's sad. Those were a few of the talks that I really liked from the first couple of sessions on Saturday.

Something pretty cool that happened in between the second session and the Priesthood session was we went to a Native American dance with our investigator, Leo. Like I mentioned in previous emails, our investigator, Leo, invited us to come see this dance. It was fascinating to be a part of. The Natives who live on this reservation hold two big dances a year which, incidentally, fall on our General Conference schedule. When Elder Christensen and I got to Leo's house, we headed over to where the dance takes place. It was in this area that looked like a trailer park. In the middle of the park was this big, circular, wooden building that had an opening in the top where smoke was coming out. This is where the dance took place. After waiting awhile and talking to people outside (one of which was actually a member, so we talked to her about Conference and about Leo, and how she has seen a change in him since we have been meeting with him), they were finally ready and let us in the circular building. Inside there was a lit fire pit in the middle with straw with mats along the wall of the building encircling the fire. There was also about seven small wooden pillars around the fire that were holding the ceiling up. As we sat down before the dance started, Leo started telling us some of the do's and don'ts of the dance - like how you are only allowed to walk counterclockwise around the fire. We sat just to the right of the doorway, so if we wanted to leave we would have to walk toward the fire, circle it, and then head out the doorway. And that's another rule: it's disrespectful to leave during the middle of a dance, which was the reason we were late to the Priesthood session later on. So the whole dance is broken up into four different dances, each dancer wearing head pieces with different colored feathers representing different things. The headdresses were pretty crazy looking. Imagine a hat made of long, dead grass, longer in the back, kinda like a mullet, and protruding out of it are approximately 40 arrows with colored feathers on the end forming a semi-sphere in front of him. So his head basically looked like a pincushion. It's hard to describe but it looked super dupes weird. I'm sure he could hardly see out of that thing. Each dancer danced roughly eight dances, each lasting a minute or so, before he was rotated with another dancer, dressed the same but with a different quantity and color of feather. While they were dancing, the people sitting along the edges could and were encouraged to dance as well. They would throw pennies at the feet of the dancers, which was good luck, and then they would dance too, which is really just stomping your feet to the beat of the drums. On top of that, the only thing needed to know while dancing is that men hold their hands down lower and women hold theirs up higher. Well we didn't know of its simplicity when we were given a handful of pennies and Leo leaned over and said, "looks like your expected to dance!" We were obviously a little hesitant. Then Leo stood up and said, "Just watch me first and see if it's something you're comfortable doing. You don't have to but... Well, you do have eyes on you." So right then it was over. Challenge accepted! So we did what anyone would've done in our place; we got up the next dance and we danced our hearts out! And, again, by danced I am still referring to the aforementioned rhythmic stomping to clapping and a drum beat. So nothing too difficult like what we initially thought. We stayed for three of the four dancers, the third being forced on us because apparently the black feathered one is special, so they didn't want anyone to leave for that one and closed the door before we could escape to the Priesthood session. There wasn't anything different about it other than the feather color, so we just witnessed the same thing we were seeing the whole time. But it was still a cool experience! I felt so cultured after it. So on my mission I have attended not only two different Catholic masses but a Native American dance, and I joined in the dancing, so I don't want to ever hear someone call me close-minded! #crossedoffbucketlist

We watched the Sunday morning session of Conference at our bishop's house with him and his wife. I am excited to see what our new apostles bring to the spiritual table. Although they can't fill the shoes of our beloved friends, President Packer, and Elders Perry and Scott, they have been called by God to this sacred offices, so we must sustain and support them - not that I think people will have trouble doing that. Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund are more than qualified for the job and I'm looking forward to hearing more from them in the future! A talk that I really loved in the later session was by Elder Keetch about the barrier. So many people think the commandments and the church are restrictive but they are actually a safe guard against the gaping jaws of sin. "The gospel is not weight, it's wings."

Well that was my week. Tons of cancellations, General Conference and dancing with Lamanites. Also, transfers are coming up as I indicated in my salutation. It's hard to believe six weeks have passed by so fast. As much as I didn't want to stay here, I have seen the good come from it and it definitely didn't feel like six more weeks. On Friday we shall see where my final area is. So by this time next week, I'll let you know where I am going next. Well, I don't want to make any promises since I was so sure I was leaving last transfer and I stayed. But we shall find out on Friday night! Love you all! Don't forget that General Conference doesn't mean anything unless you apply it to your life after Conference is over. #ponderize

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

1 comment:

  1. I love your spiritual insights and humor. Thanks for sharing your mission life!