Monday, October 12, 2015

Leaving Lakeport and Embracing Vallejo

This is Moose - he's grown quite a bit since I held him as a pup

Happy transfer doctrine Monday!

Hey everyone! This is your favorite Santa Rosa, CA Missionary (and if I'm not, then you greatly need to reevaluate where your loyalties lie). Well this week was, yet again, a tough week for missionary work. You're going to receive another letter about how all our appointments bailed on us and we hardly taught anyone. Just a warning.

I know I may sound like a broken record, but I am going to say it again: We are still getting cancelled on by all our appointments. It's so frustrating that we can't get a hold of anyone. This is like the third week in a row that we've been flaked on by everyone. We have set appointments with Jake and Cheyenne on Wednesday and Thursday in order to get Jake ready for his baptismal date of Nov. 9th, but we haven't been able to meet with him since we set the date weeks ago! We drove up in front of his house, said a prayer, and by the time I was finished I looked up, saw him standing there, and rolled down my window to be told to come by the following week. They do that to us pretty often. He isn't going to be able to make his baptismal date at the rate we are working at. Also to add to the unfortunate news, we may or may not have been dropped by our investigator, Brenda. Chase texted us and said she is feeling unsure about whether she wants to keep investigating the church. In my experience when investigators randomly drop you out of the blue it's because they don't understand something about the church that scares or confuses them, and once you explain it to them, their concern is resolved and you get right back to teaching them. So hopefully we can meet with them at some point and talk to Brenda about why she's feeling hesitant to continue learning. The rest of our day in Upper Lake and Lucerne was spent trying to find some referrals we have gotten from members and also from Salt Lake, but to no avail. That night we finally had a lesson with Brother and Sister Crites after a month of them flaking on us. We are pretty disappointed with how they, especially Sister Crites, are doing. We were assured by Sister Crites that when her husband finally got here he would help get her to start coming to church again and quit smoking. So far all that's happened is Brother Crites has started smoking and she still doesn't come to church. I don't know how much more we are going to stop by in the future.

We had a rather hard day on Thursday. That morning I felt a strong prompting to ask Elder Christensen some questions on how he is doing. I've just had this feeling of uneasiness about him for a little while now; the feeling being especially strong that morning. It's incredible how the spirit can speak to us if we are willing to listen. When I asked how he was he broke down and told me how he was struggling a lot being out here, and how he hasn't been feeling happy on his mission. He said how he was worried about things changing at home, and although he likes being a missionary, he doesn't feel like he's really happy out here. Elder Christensen has trouble opening up to people so he never told me how he was feeling until then. We skipped studies and had a long talk that morning. I could feel the Spirit guiding me on what to say to best help him. The Spirit knows him a lot better than I do, so it's a pretty safe bet to go with what the Spirit prompts me to say opposed to what I think will help. I gave Elder Christensen a blessing of comfort telling him the Lord knows his worries and will bare him up throughout his struggles, which is true for all of us as we keep the Lord's commandments. He will not leave us comfortless through our trials as long as we rely on Him. I also had do something that I definitely do not enjoy, which is to correct misconduct. I don't like correcting people because it makes me feel like the bad guy coming down on them, but it's so important that we do. If we notice someone under our stewardship making a mistake and fail to say something to them, not only is the sin on the head of the person who didn't speak up, but it also shows how selfish that person is because they are more concerned about what the other person thinks of them over spiritual progression of the one making the error. Does that make sense? In short: never be afraid to lovingly correct someone's spiritual mistakes because if you don't, the Lord will also hold you accountable for it. His mistake wasn't anything too serious or I wouldn't be telling you all, but I did need to address it to assure it wouldn't be a problem in the future. I was afraid of how Elder Christensen would handle it, but if those being chastened see the love behind it then they have no reason to get defensive. Well things started getting better for us during the rest of the day. After awhile I was able to cheer him up and the mood was a lot happier. Even though all but one appointment fell through, we managed to have good attitudes throughout it. Oh, and something else noteworthy happened that night. Joey Sainsbury brought by $110 of gift cards bought by the Beare family for us. I have a fantastic ward that has taken care of me these last six months. Lakeport Ward has a special place in my heart. These people have been so good to me and I'm definitely going to miss it when I'm gone.

We drove down to Clearlake on Friday to help the Highlands elders, Elder Mallory and Elder Raban, with some service in their area. We baled some more hay on the Lease's ranch. But this time the hay literally weighed a ton. We needed a tractor to move those things. Our job was to wrap a chain around the bales and attach it to the tractor so it could lift it up and Brother Lease could drive it over to where he was storing them. At some point during the endeavor of securing the bales with the chain it got dropped on my foot. Not the bales, of course, but the chain. If a bale of hay that size fell on my foot, I would have had to get it amputated. The chain fell on my toe and for a while I was contemplating whether it broke my toe or not! Chains are heavy! Don't ever believe the movies where they whimsically toss a chain like a lasso; those things weigh a lot! But my toes fine, it just hurt like nobody's business. After we managed to move all the bales where they needed to go, and Brother Lease took us out to lunch, we adjourned to the Highlands ward building to weekly plan. I'll be the first to admit that it's pretty hard to be focused in making plans for a week you're quite confident you won't be around to execute. So Elder Mallory and I weren't at all helpful in the weekly planning process (especially since Elder Mallory is going home tomorrow. Our greenies were left with the task to plan the upcoming week. That night we had dinner with them at their members' house. His name is Steve, or known by the missionaries that serve in that ward as Crazy Steve. He was definitely an interesting character. Aside from what I had heard about him prior, what tipped me off that his elevator didn't go all the way up was the first thing he started talking to the four of us about was his excessive use of Acid and LSD back in the day. He was a Hell's Angel biker gang member so that's some impressive accolades right there. And he explained to us, in detail, how we are being visited by extraterrestrials who are here to warn us of our imminent self-destruction. Not only did he start to use visual resources of tv shows like Ancient Aliens and other documentaries about aliens to support his claim, he also cited Joseph Smith to back up his proposal. Not sure how he pulled that one off. Now I believe there are additional planets that are home to other children of our Heavenly Father, but they are certainly not bug-eyed little green dudes. We wouldn't have stayed there so long if he hadn't freaked out and started yelling at us whenever we told him we had to go. The four of us eventually just stood up and started walking to the door and that was the end of that nonsense!

We were in Clearlake again on Saturday for another big service day. We helped with cleaning out the rest of the clothes donations out of the church that no one came and collected. Again, we had a ton of people donate with hardly anyone accepting donations. So the Highlands Elders, some members from the ward, and Elder Christensen and I spent some time taking all the left over clothes and putting them into a Deseret Industry pod to be hauled off and distributed to other people who need it. Finally their church is liberated from random piles of clothing and they can have all three hours of church now! Afterward we headed over to one of their investigator's home and gave her a hand with some jobs around the house she needed assistance with. She did something that bothered me, that many other people we meet do as well, and she called us by our first names. I don't like that. We only have so long to bear the title of "Elder" before we go back to our first names, so show some respect for the calling we hold and address us by what you see on the name tag! Ok, I'm good now. Venting mode ON [OFF]. Our next stop was at the Highlands Ward bishop's house. We helped out with some small projects they needed some aid with. But none of you want to hear anymore about random service I've been doing.

It's time to get to why we are all here. We got the call for Transfer Doctrine while at the Highlands bishop's house. And the big news isssssss.....I'm staying in Lakeport! It'll be a struggle staying here for 7 1/2 months but I know I can endu--just kidding I'm going to Vallejo!!!! Wooooooh!! I am so excited! What's even cooler is I am going to Uncle Nate's old stomping grounds! I am going to Vallejo 1st Ward and apparently my area is huge. I also cover American Canyon. According to Elder Wilkes, who served in this area before, I have the most dangerous area in the already ghetto town of Vallejo. So everyone pray I don't get shot! I am so stoked for this next transfer. Vallejo is an area I've always wanted to serve in. I'm not so sure about my companion though. His name is Elder Dean. He isn't know for being the hardest worker. He is the missionary who replaced me in Novato when I went home and he is also the one who shut down that area for bucketing, or hanging out, with members for hours on end. So we will see how things go with him. I'll be a co-District Leader with him. I am so excited for this next transfer!

Well that's the big news of this week! I'm off to ghetto Vallejo! I'm definitely going to miss this ward and area. The people here have been so good to me. Bishop Tipton assures me that I have a place to stay at his house when I come back with my family in April. People weren't happy on Sunday to hear I am leaving - I guess people are just used to having me around here. Well, the next email I send will be from deep in the ghetto, probably being held at gun point. Love you all and have a great week! 

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

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