Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving and Waterboarding

Only in California......and in Colorado

On our way to the departure devotional

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving this week! I'm not really sure what my plans are for it. I think the Glens might be feeding us, but other than that, I don't think we have anything special planned.

This was a really rough week for us. I feel like we didn't accomplish much, although, I was able to give quite a few blessings this week. I am so grateful for the Priesthood authority that has been restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It's an amazing gift we have been given to bless the lives of those around us.

Our last District meeting of the transfer was Tuesday and, I must say, it got a little out of hand. We asked two departing missionaries in our district, Elder Hansen and Elder Walpole, to teach. I should've known better than to have two dying missionaries teach in their last district meeting because one just awkwardly talked about contacting people and it was evident he didn't prepare at all, and the other just had a bunch of activities for us to do with no real spiritual application at the end. Then Elder Dean took a long time in his part, leaving me with only two minutes for the lesson I prepared with a commitment at the end. This failed attempt at a district meeting gave me another example of what to aim for and what to avoid when I prepare a lesson in Elder's quorum in the future.

After district meeting, Elder Dean and I went on exchanges with Benicia. I was with Elder Walpole in my area - it was his very last exchange on his mission. The two of us did some finding in search of potential investigators in my area book. We primarily worked in parts of my area that I am still not familiar with. There is still a lot of my area that I haven't worked much in yet, like a place called the Crest. Apparently it's the most ghetto and dangerous area in aIl of Vallejo, so I for sure need to explore that place a little before I leave; don't worry, I'll be careful! I would definitely have to say that out of all my areas, Vallejo is the most fun place to talk to people.

Before we started the exchange, Elder Rasmussen and Elder Dean tried to convince me to allow the exchange to be extended several hours so Elder Dean could accompany Elder Rasmussen to Sacramento for a doctor's appointment because Elder Walpole didn't want to go. What the heck? Absolutely not! There's no point whatsoever for my companion to leave the mission boundaries! After badgering me a little while, they gave up and we exchanged back as scheduled. Now it's a difficult thing to stand firm and it's much easier to drift along with the current, but Heavenly Father needs us to build our firm foundation upon Christ and be not moved. That's something I have learned on my mission, whether it's gently correcting people or just saying no to what is wrong, sometimes you have to stand strong for what you know is right. I hope I'm not making this sound really cheesy, but it's a lesson I've learned out here. I know in the past I would've just told them to go for it to avoid standing out and being the bad guy, but if we can't stand our ground to every gentle breeze that wants to move us, then how will be able to stand against the adversary when he "shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you..."? (Helaman 5:12)

Friday we had a lot of service that consumed all of our time for weekly planning. First, the entire zone went down to Benicia to help the Sister missionaries move out of their apartment and into a new one. While we were loading their stuff into a moving truck, all the missionaries going home this week drove to Fairfield to have departing interviews with President Wright. My departing interview will happen closer to the time I actually go home.

The Zone Leaders told us that night they received an email from the AP's pertaining to how transfers are to be done from now on. I believe the change is occurring to align or mission with how other missions operate, but we will no longer be told where we are going or who our companion is when we receive transfers information on the last Saturday of the transfer. All we are told is if we are leaving or not. The transfer devotional in Santa Rosa the following Tuesday will be the new day this information is revealed to us. So needless to say, the missionaries are not happy about this change because that means we have to wonder where we are going and who we are with for another three days; which doesn't sound too bad, but when the next six weeks depends on this info, one tends to get rather anxious.

We did our weekly planning on Saturday because of the tons of service we did the day before. While we were finishing our planning, we received transfer information from the ZL's which informed us that Elder Dean is getting transferred. That totally caught us off guard. We both thought he was going to stay a total of six months here and we would get a third companion since I am leaving in the middle of next transfer. So now I will be leading out this area and trying to show my next companion(s) around as best I can in three weeks.

Elder Dean used Sunday as an opportunity to say goodbye to members, which comprised most of our day. But something really strange happened that I've only heard of in the past. While we were at the Beard's house saying goodbye, Brother Beard asked Elder Dean to give him a quick haircut and I took a trip to the imagination station and played action figures with their two boys. Elder Dean got a call from the APs saying he doesn't need to pack up all his stuff because he is getting transferred to some other area in Vallejo. We were completely stunned. In-Zone transfers never happen; I've only heard of occurring maybe twice before. And this will be the third time Elder Dean will serve in Vallejo. His first area was Vallejo 2nd ward for 4 1/2 months, then he spent 4 1/2 in Vallejo 1st ward, and now he will finish his remaining three months here. We are still not sure which area he is going to serve in. It'll either be Benicia or 2nd ward. We are leaning toward Benicia since he hasn't served there before, but who knows at this point? The unexpected had already happened repeatedly this transfer so we have given up trying to make predictions. I am glad that Elder Dean is still going to be in the zone. Regardless of our disagreements at times, we are good friends and he is a good missionary. Last night he mentioned he wants to do better than he has lately, so I was really happy to hear that.

I received a Facebook message from my friend, Von, in Lakeport and she told me that Elder Christensen may have to go home soon to get his tonsils removed. I asked her to tell me more of his situation but she hasn't answered back yet. So all I know is my beloved greenie may or may not be home or going home soon. Well, my trainer went home and came back, I went home and came back, and now Elder Christensen may go home and hopefully will come back; I guess it's hereditary.

Well this was the final stretch for many of the missionaries in the Vallejo zone. We have six missionaries that go home tomorrow; one of which is premature for medical problems. This is definitely the oldest Zone that I've ever served in. Admittedly, I am a little sad that I don't get to return home with the missionaries I began this adventure with and do the the big airport welcoming scene, but I'll get over it. Even though I miss my family and friends, I know the Lord has me out here longer for a reason; whether it's something I need to help teach someone or something that I still need to learn.

Well now I am off to a departing missionary meeting for everyone going home this transfer is going to. I am glad I was still invited to it by President Wright even though I won't be getting on the plane tomorrow. I'll stay the night in Santa Rosa and then bring my new companion(s), whoever he/they may be, down to Vallejo. We will see what happens!

Love you all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Elder Hayden Ellis

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