Hey friends and family!
Well since it's only been half a week since I last emailed, not as much happened that I can report on, but hopefully I am still able to keep you all interested!
On Thursday Elder Dean and I went on exchanges with Vallejo 2nd ward missionaries, Elder Hansen and Elder Seastrand. I was with Elder Seastrand in my area. Elder Seastrand is a brand new missionary from Mesa, Arizona, who loves to dance. He's a really good kid and I like him a lot. I give some major props to him because he has a lot of health problems but he didn't let that be an excuse of why he could not serve a mission and came out here anyways. That's pretty admirable, in my opinion. When I asked Elder Seastrand at the beginning of the exchange what he wanted to work on improving the most, he told me that he wants to get better at opening his mouth, because he gets really nervous and quiet in lessons or when talking to people on the street. Well I can oblige him there since a majority of the work in our area is finding new people to teach and cleaning out our area book. We went and visited a lot of potentials on our list of people to see. We had some success in our finding and was able to give out two Book of Mormons. The first was to a man named Robert who said we could come back the next day, and actually followed us out to our car and asked us for a book, so that was pretty cool. The other Book of Mormon we gave out was to a women named Nina that we contacted outside a house of a potential we were trying to see. We went up and talked to her and she told us she was baptized in the church but now studied with the Jehovah Witnesses. After chatting about what we do as missionaries, I brought up the Book of Mormon and offered her a copy. At first she was hesitant and brought up some common concerns about how we view Joseph Smith and whether the BoM takes the place of the bible, but after we resolved those inquiries she accepted a copy. Sometimes people aren't interested just because they don't understand it.
Elder Seastrand and I had two lessons that day, one was with someone named John, who is kinda crazy. While I was teaching gospel principles last week about how families can be together for eternity, he brought up his desire to have a wife and a concubine and tried to justify why it should be okay. So that was interesting, but the lesson with him went alright. The other lesson that we were able to teach that night was with Patricia and Adrian. We discussed the gospel of Jesus Christ with Adrian and he understood it all pretty well. We are going to push back Adrian's baptismal date by a week since there were some appointments with him that were missed, so to make things less stressful for us and them we changed his baptism to the 14th, but it's till going to happen. While we were there Patricia told us she has been in a lot of pain lately due to her health problems. I suggested to her that we give her a blessing at the end of the lesson and she accepted. After a little bit of encouragement and persistent nudging, I convinced Elder Seastrand to seal the anointing and give the blessing. Even though he was reluctant and nervous to do it, he did a pretty good job. I remember my first couple of blessings I gave. They didn't go to well. I remember my first ever blessing was in Crescent City to a man named Paul Cappell. I asked to do the anointing because it's easier, but I realized soon after I anointed him that I didn't know how to transition the blessing to the second person who seals the anointing and panicked and ended up just giving him the whole blessing by myself while saying none of the words that are necessary. They gave me an "A" for trying, but it didn't go well at all. I am pleased to say I've come a long way since then.
After our planning meeting on Friday, we went to pick up dinner from a member who signed up to feed us that day. Her neighbor used to meet with missionaries and is in our Area book, but we didn't know that when we were walking up to the house. He was outside and when he saw us coming he got mad and yelled at us to go away because we knew he is not a believer in Christ, but believes in Satan. So that was uncomfortable for everyone, especially for him when he realized we weren't there to see him.
And then later that night when we got home, we discovered that we got pranked by the Spanish Elders, Elder Perez and Scow. They broke into our apartment and took a bunch of our stuff and did other stupid things like put peanut butter and petroleum jelly on the door knobs. Elder Dean didn't handle it well and flipped out because he thought they stole his boots, and being from a ranch in Alaska, he really cares about his boots. So he started interrogating all the missionaries he thought committed the crime. It got so bad that he made us drive over to the apartment of the actual culprits behind the prank and demand our stuff back and, when they refused to return our possessions, seized and kidnapped their own possessions. Things have been getting way out of hand in this zone and I don't know how to get it under control!
Saturday was a surreal day for me because I realized that exactly a year ago from this day I was home in Tooele already released from being a missionary. It definitely does not at all feel like it's been a year since I had to pack my bags and get on a plane for Utah, nor does it feel like a year has passed since I was last with my family. It goes to show how little time we have to serve the Lord full time and just how quickly it all goes by.
Our whole zone had service in Benicia helping a member cut down trees and clear a ton of ivy in their backyard. A tree that the members were cutting down almost fell on top of their house and more importantly on us. Elder Dean took a video of the event so all can witness how we almost died.
Halloween was a really hard day to be an effective missionaries. It's not like we can go tracting or finding that day because people are expecting Trick-or-Treaters. Not to mention, our mission President wanted us all in our apartments by 7 pm so we didn't have much time during the evening to get any work done. It's not like we could've done much since no one wants to talk to missionaries on a holiday, especially when they are expecting cute little kids dressed up as Frozen and Star Wars characters.
I really try not to make every email home about me complaining or about what's wrong with my companion, but I feel like a lot of our days consist of me trying to get Elder Dean working. He sleeps so much it's ridiculous. Not only did he go to sleep early on Saturday since we got home at 7 pm, but we also got an extra hour of sleep from daylight savings and still the first thing he did upon getting home after church was get undressed and fall asleep. I normally fall asleep too after fast and testimony Sunday, but that's because we are instructed to pray for an hour on these days and I generally can't make it through the whole hour without dozing off. I am sorry for all the negative emails everyone. I do love Elder Dean and he can be a really good missionary when he tries to be, but I am just struggling with him right now. The time in my mission where I need a strong and hard working companion the most, I feel like I am dragging both of us along.
The Castillo family had us over for dinner on Sunday night. They are primarily a Filipino family, excluding the mom who is white, and have four young, super cute kids. The oldest child, who incidentally is a boy named Hayden, upon discovering that my name also hails from the Hayden lineage, invoked the law of those with identical names, thus making us best friends. So the entire dinner consisted of pleas for my attention. "Hayden, look at this!" or "Watch me jump on the trampoline, Hayden!" His three younger sisters also adopted the habit, so I was being frequently summoned simultaneously by four children, all beckoning to me by a name I almost forgot I originally was known by before Elder. It took me a few times before I realized that by 'Hayden' they meant me. I love kids so it was a fun dinner.
That night we had our Sunday night Leadership meeting. We were told by the zone leaders something that I found rather disturbing: someone in the zone feels like they are being bullied. NEVER should a missionary feel like he or she is being bullied or excluded by his peers. We are servants of the Lord and are far above that kind of behavior, or at least we should be. I really hope that nothing I have done or said has contributed to him feeling that way. I know what it's like to feel excluded by your social circle; those were some rough years for me growing up. I never want to make someone feel the same way I felt for so long.
Most of the zone went bowling for P-Day today and I got a not-so impressive score of 85, so that really cemented in my brain that I suck at bowling. There was a power outage while we were bowling, so that was interesting; totally ruined our already rather pathetic game. It's been raining pretty hard today and the other missionaries told us they heard lightening on their way to the bowling alley, so I'm quite pleased with that. California has been in dire need of rain throughout my entire mission. Also of note today, one of the missionaries in this zone, Elder Perez, is getting emergency transferred to Eureka zone. The Assistants to the President didn't tell us anything else concerning the move, like who is coming or what area he is going to be in, so other than the fact that he is leaving, we know nothing.
Sorry if my letter is boring. I am trying to highlight some of the more notable events but most of the work here consists of me trying to get work done while Elder Dean drags his feet, so keep me in your prayers, please.
Love, Elder Hayden Ellis