Sunday, November 29, 2015

Almost Done! 11-23-15

Man, I have only one more week until I am no longer in "training."  Crazy!  Transfer calls are this Saturday and I'll find out where I'll be for the following 6 weeks, so if you are planning on sending anything by mail, wait until I know for sure.

It has gotten really cold the past few days with the wind chill.  My ponderize scriptures are now personal ones I am doing.  I must give credit for last week's scripture reference to Elder Jacob Smith. The scripture is 1 Samuel 15: 22.  It is a scripture that I will be looking over probably for the rest of my life.  It says, "And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of the rams."  To obey is better than sacrifice is what mainly stood out to me.  Especially as a missionary you are blessed for your obedience.  That obedience is to the laws and commandments that God has given us.  They are there to guide us and help us because He knows what's best for us even when we may think otherwise, but if we obey them then we will be blessed and protected and everything will work out.  As a missionary we have many rules.  It is hard to keep every rule and be exactly obedient, but it is possible and we do our very best to keep them.  Those rules are there to protect us and to help us to have the Spirit with us continually and always.  I have definitely seen the blessings that have come from being obedient and I have seen the opposite side of them.  When we go to bed too late, we are really tired the next day, even to where we may not have put in our very best effort as we should have.  I know that being obedient is one of the hardest, but one of the best commandments we have been given.

Monday I got my first haircut since arriving in Tennessee.  Other than that, we just chilled all day. That night we went and saw a part-member, less-active family with Br. Rivers.  I shared with them part of the story of Great Aunt Rose.  It is a very good talk from President Uchtdorf at the last conference that I encourage everyone to read. It teaches about how we can be happier and focus on the positive things in life by having faith, which then leads to hope. We then did exchanges with our Zone Leaders and I stayed here in Dickson with Elder Rivera.

Tuesday the 17th - Oh boy, we all need to watch out - haha. (It's a Psych thing for those of you that didn't know). We taught Monica, well, Elder Rivera taught Monica 95% of the time because he speaks Spanish.  He grew up speaking it so he helped out a lot with helping her understand etc.  I just mainly stood there and looked good haha.  Later that night we had a couple interesting things happen.  We were tracting and we knocked on a door and the guy said that he would talk to us if we didn't use "that" book and only the "true" Bible.  Well then, we might need an interpreter who can speak ancient Hebrew - haha.  So then later we were going up to a house and we were only a few feet away when Elder Rivera just stopped suddenly and said, "I don't feel like we should knock here."  I got the prompting just then to stop also.  As soon as he said those words I immediately felt like something was up with that house, but didn't know what.  So we just turned around, left and knocked on the neighbors next door.  They weren't interested, but we asked them if they knew of anyone who would be.  They told us, "You can try them (pointing to the neighbor's house we had just left), but you might want to take a gun with you."  I am so grateful for the prompting of the Spirit which told us to leave because if we didn't, who knows what would have happened.  I learned from Elder Rivera that I need to pay closer attention to what the Spirit is telling me because I tend to walk fast and I wasn't too focused on what it was trying to tell me until E. Rivera said something first.  After that we went and saw John and Tracey.  Tracey wasn't feeling good, but John wanted to take a break from his studies and so we sat outside and talked for an hour and a half.  He opened up to us about his feelings towards religion and how he is searching for truth.  The Spirit was so strong as we talked.  We shared with him many things and he said he would come to church this Sunday (he didn't come, but he said he would be able to next week).  For the first time since being out here, I almost started to tear up as we were talking with him.  I bore my testimony to him of what I knew was true and that I knew he would know of this truth as well through earnest prayer.  It was an awesome experience!

Wednesday we exchanged back and then we went with Marcus to see Mike.  He set a baptismal date for Dec. 5, which he prayed about and felt good about.  We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We then went and saw Kerry and had a good lesson with her.  We finished up the Restoration lesson with her and answered a few of her questions as well.  I invited her to be baptized when she came to know the Book of Mormon is true and she said she would.  We saw Branden and Kassie and they committed to read 2 Nephi 2.  I really hope they follow through and read it.  They are awesome people and I would hate to not be ale to continue teaching them anymore if they are not willing to do their part.  Heavenly Father wants to answer our prayers and teach us truth, but we have to do our part as well.

Thursday we walked most of the day because our truck was getting the last dent fixed.  Luckily it only took a couple of hours and not a few days this time.  We didn't have any lessons today -bummer.

Friday we tracted a bunch, but no luck.  We then had an awesome lesson with the Valdez family.  She doesn't know a lot about religion so we taught simply and explained it in detail.  Nick expressed how although he has a good job (manager at the Nissan's dealership in town), a family, and a home; he should be happy, but he is not and he knows something is missing.  He recognizes that it is the gospel and he wants to someday be able to baptize his kids and be sealed forever in the temple to his wife and family.  It was an awesome lesson.  I shared the First Vision part of the lesson and it was the most spiritual and best way I have ever said it so far.  A few weeks ago, I had shared it with a man we taught when Marcus was with us and he said that I was too stiff and looked like I was just saying it from memory.  Since that point, I have tried to figure out how I can say it more with the Spirit instead of just by memory.  By watching the Restoration video a lot, I told myself that I need to say it with more feeling and as if I am Joseph Smith remembering it and experiencing it.  So that's what I did.  I really think that it helped portray his experiences better so people understand how he must have felt during that time.  So later today I got a letter in the mail from Hermana Nelson, who is in the Las Vegas mission.  It was a letter saying that when she saw me in the MTC, she knew I was her "eternal companion."  I was like, "What?!"  I don't even know you and I'm on a mission!  Even the ladies who I don't know me can't get enough of all this now - haha.  I was freaked out for a minute, but then I realized I have friend from home in the Las Vegas mission also.  Nice prank Elder Branden Hales.  I am so going to get him back!  I have to admit, it was pretty funny though.

My "Love Letter"
Saturday we helped Sister Carlson with some things in her home because she had surgery a few weeks ago and couldn't do much because she can barely walk.  We then went and helped a lady move into her new home.  After that we didn't have any lessons at all.  All of our people that we went to see weren't home or didn't answer.  It was a bummer, but those nights happen, I guess.  I also heard the song "Fields of Gold" in Wendy's. (We sang that song in choir this last year).  Good memories!

Sunday we had 4 investigators at church and we taught Mike half of the Commandments.  We had a good lesson with him.  It is awesome to see him keep progressing.  We also taught Kerry and just shared with her the 5 minute First Vision video.  The Spirit was really strong as we watched that.  We had dinner later at the Palmers.

That was my week.  Hope everything is going well for all of you.  I pray for you guys constantly.  Keep listening to the Spirit more and it will guide you throughout your life.  Take time to read the scriptures and pray too.  Those things are so important and valuable to our progression in the gospel. Love you all and miss ya.

Elder Ellison
This Ninja found himself a sword - for training purposes, of course.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Learning A Lot This Week 11-16-15

So this week our Area Book app had an update.  However, once it was updated, we could no longer open the app or use it for a couple days which made life hard. We couldn't look up any addresses or put in lessons or anything.  My ponderize scripture was Mosiah 18: 19 "And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets." Out here on a mission, we teach a lot of people.  There are also a lot of different churches with many different beliefs.  For us, we only teach people the things which the Lord and the prophets and apostles have taught us.  Just like this scripture, we also need to listen to the prophets and apostles and do what they have asked. When we do those things, we are blessed with opportunities to share them with others as well.  We all need to pay attention to those opportunities that come into our path and then take advantage of them by sharing the gospel.

Monday for P-day we just chilled all day and then at night we found 3 new investigators.  After that we went and played Phase 10 with a member and her boyfriend who goes to the Church of Christ.  He has Down syndrome, not super bad, but a little and she has some mental problems because of an accident she had as a baby.  They are great and we had fun.

Tuesday we tracted into a lady that was interested in our message, but we haven't been able to catch her at home since then.  Small world though, the people we had dinner with knew a family of a kid that I played soccer with.  So that was pretty cool.

Wednesday we had Zone Conference with Elder Zwick of the 70.  It was almost all day.  I learned that I need to build my foundation on Christ, read from the Book of Mormon every day for the rest of my life, keep my teaching shorter, simpler, and inviting the Spirit at the same time.  I also was reminded that the past is the past and I need to look more to the future with faith as well as gaining strength through the Atonement.  I also need to make sure that I don't spiritually plateau.  I need to pray with faith, sincerity, respect, kindness, love, and more earnestly.  The spirit was so strong at this conference and I learned a lot.  We went and saw Anthony and tried implementing what we learned today as we taught him the Restoration.  We did it and the Spirit was so strong as we taught and testified.  It was awesome!  Also, on a side note, apparently there was a tornado warning tonight. Yikes!
Franklin Zone Conference
Thursday there was no tornado, thankfully.  We had a good day though.  We taught Mike the rest of the Plan of Salvation and then I asked him if he would be baptized and he said yes.  We had been praying about a date and we were kind of thinking Dec. 5, but we gave him a calendar first and asked which day he thought he would be ready and he said Nov. 28.  We asked him to pray about the 2 dates and then tell us which one he felt was the right one.  We found a few potential investigators while tracting and then went over to see a less-active part-member family. They are awesome. The Father went to the same high  school as elder Wardle 6 years before him. They said they would come to church, which they did, and we have a lesson set up with them for this week and a dinner appointment for next week.

Friday I had my first gyro. (Just for clarification, they are pronounced yero, but I will always call them jiro.)  They were delicious.  We taught a lesson to a guy (total redneck type) that some sisters asked us to go see.  He has been going to Bible School and was interested in learning more about what we believed.  We weren't sure what to expect.  So we started teaching him the Restoration and all through the lesson he would bring up Bible verses totally not related to what we were talking about.  I just did not feel the Spirit at all during the whole lesson.  Like always though, I felt the Spirit as soon as we were able to tell him about the First Vision.  He was kindly “bashing” with us a little, but he was really scattered so it didn't work out too well for him.  He had a hard time understanding how the Book of Mormon isn’t adding to or taking away from the Bible like the scripture in Revelations talks about.  We were trying to explain to him what the scripture meant, but it was no use – he wasn’t listening, just wanted to argue.  We still gave him the Book of Mormon and told him to read and pray about it.  After that we Skyped a family named the Bitzers. Elder Wardle taught them in a past area and they are like his second family.  I finally got to meet them and they are super cool.  We skyped them because they were going through a rough time right now so we were just giving them some support.

Saturday for most of the day we helped our Ward Mission Leader move his parents into their new house that they just built.  Later that night we went to a wedding reception.  We then went and gave a guy a blessing who was in the hospital.  He suffered two minor strokes. He is luckily mostly fine, he just can't feel anything with the tips of his fingers, but still usable.

Sunday we had 4 investigators at church.  We had a healthy “lunner” which was nice for a change. We went and saw a few people with a member and then that night went to the Church of God. There were only 2 other people in the congregation besides us and the preacher.  One of the two people was his wife.  Really small and they didn't do anything too crazy like what we see sometimes.  Our iPads finally got fixed and we had to fill everything back in for a while.

That's my week. Hope everyone has a good upcoming week and hopefully some of you have some missionary opportunities that you take advantage of this week as well.  Miss ya and I pray for you guys all the time.

Elder Ellison
Driver is holding a sign out the window that says, "Jesus Says Forgive" - too funny!

First Haircut in the Mission- go Sports Clips!

Mad skills, but there must be a hole in my racket!

Back in the saddle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Week of Lessons 11/9/15

So this week was good.  We actually had a few days in the high 60s, it was nice.  We had a lot of lessons with people too.  My ponderize scripture was 1 Timothy 6: 17. It says, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives to us richly all things to enjoy."  My thoughts are that God gives us everything.  Everything we have is because of Him.  So if we are blessed with riches or anything else, we should not boast or be proud or puffed up in ourselves.  Those things are blessings and He can take them away as quickly as He gave them.  We also should use them to help others.  God gave them to us for a reason and that is to help out our brothers and sisters.

Monday was P-day and we did our normal stuff and then went fishing again.  I was the only one to catch 2 fish, but they were small so we only kept one of them.

Tuesday we taught Monica a little bit and extended a soft baptismal invitation.  Then we taught a daughter of a member who is getting baptized in a month.  That was about it.

Wednesday I was in charge of our area because we did exchanges.  Elder Jorgenson came to Dickson to join me.  We had to drop Brenda as an investigator because she isn't focused right now on the commitments she makes to learn and gain a testimony of her own. Then we tracted and got “anti-ed” by a guy who went off on us and then referenced Jude verse 3 saying that’s why he thinks we don't have the full gospel.  I think he got his scriptures mixed up because that one is referring to Jude writing to his brothers and sisters in the gospel that share a “common salvation” and how they need to defend their faith.  So I don’t really know what he was talking about.  Oh well, I know this church is true and that it is the full gospel and I am out here looking for people who are interested and ready to hear it.  Then they can make up their own minds about it after they have taken the time to learn and pray about it.  Later, we went out to Waverly and saw Michael with Bro. Rivers. I also got to drive for the first time since being out here.  It was awesome.

Thursday we switched back companions.  We then went out with Marcus and taught Mike.  We taught him the first half of the Plan of Salvation.  We did that same lesson 2 other times that day.  It was a good lesson with him.  That night we went and saw a less-active member and just checked to see how she has been doing.  Then we rushed over to the church to see another less-active member and taught him the Plan of Salvation.  And the last lesson we had that night was with John and Tracey, also the Plan of Salvation.  They had lots of questions and I think they understood, but they made it a little more complicated for themselves.  They thought it was really deep and difficult, but it wasn't.  It is a simple plan that Heavenly Father wants all of His children to understand.  Other than that, we had a good lesson with them.  I got told I looked 15 years old by a lady we tracted into and 16 by the less-active we taught that night.  Haha.  It was great - I take it as a compliment.  It just means I will look young when I am really old - haha.

Friday we tracted into 2 new investigators.  We are going back next Tuesday to see them.  We also helped some members clean the church that night.  Later, we tracted into a non-practicing LDS guy which was interesting.

Saturday we got up early to go help with Habitat For Humanity.  It was our ward's day and we helped build this lady's house.  We put up doors and painted.  Those days on the farm with all that painting and staining sure helped out, although I think half of the paint got on me instead.  It was on my pants, shirt, name tag, hair, face, arms, and shoes.  It was everywhere.  That took up most of the day and then we went to see a less-active.  He had a sweet Afro.  He had grown up LDS, but started to reject God after his father died.  He has recently started changing his life around and turning back towards God.  It was awesome and he has some crazy stories.  He has been through a lot.  We then went to go see another less-active, but she was asleep with her baby so we talked with her boyfriend instead.  A lot of his thoughts and ideas relate to what the church teaches.  I think we will start teaching him soon, hopefully.

Sunday we taught Michael about service at church during the third hour.  We also had the primary program that day. Later, we tracted for a bit and the first door we knocked on said to come back later because he was sick. He may have been trying to get rid of us, but we said we would come back – so we will.  Then we went to an 8 year old boy's baptism.  After that we went to the Christian Faith Center church.  The minister was kind of funny and then some weird, crazy things happened towards the end.  I had one of those “this isn't right” feelings inside while I was there.  He asked us if he could pray for us, but we declined because we didn't want to get involved with all that stuff that made us feel weird.  We left as soon as we could.

Well we had a good week with lots of good lessons.  I just want to say that I know this church is true.  I know that the Lord blessed us each day.  I know that this gospel changes people's lives for the better.  I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ.  I know that he was called as a prophet of God and that he restored Christ’s church back onto the earth again.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God on the earth today and that he, as well as the twelve apostles, receive revelation to know how to better move this work forward and bless the lives of many.  I know that Christ atoned for my sins so that I can repent of my sins, change, and live with Him and my family again forever.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I have felt the Holy Ghost confirm to me it’s truthfulness.  I am so grateful to be a missionary and called to serve among these wonderful people.  I know that God has been preparing many across this world to be ready to hear His gospel.  I leave these things with you guys in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison
Habitat For Humanity Service

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Gospel Isn't A Trick, It's A Treat! 11/2/15

So this week there isn't much to report.  We have had a lot of rain this week.  It rained 3 days in a row at the beginning of the week.  It is leftovers from the hurricane that just went by.  I still haven't experienced a true Tennessee rainstorm, according to Elder Wardle.   We had some good things happen this week.  Our ponderize scripture this week was Psalms 31: 14-15, "But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me."  I think this scripture means that the Lord has a plan for us and we need to trust in that plan.  Even though it may not seem like it is what we should be doing, there is a reason He has told us to do it.  Just like Christ said, "Not my will, but thine be done."  If we surrender to His will and do what he asks of us, then we will be blessed in many ways.  It is all up to the Lord's time and all part of His plan.

Monday was Pday and we went bowling all day with Bro Patterson and Marcus. I got a turkey again for the second time. I still got my butt whooped though.

Tuesday we sorted shoes at the Help Center. Then we went with Marcus and taught a guy named Mike. He is trying to figure out his path in life right now. We had a great lesson on the Restoration with him. We then went and helped Sister Rivers with her visiting teaching.

Wednesday - We haven't had a lot of lessons so far this week, but we did get to have a lesson with a less-active member.  It was a crazy lesson, but at the end we showed the First Vision from the Restoration video and the Spirit was so strong from that.  It was awesome!

Thursday we volunteered at the Help Center again with the shoes. They have a mountain of shoes that we just try and find matches to.  We went to find a referral, but she moved so we ended up teaching the lady that lives there now.  We will see where that goes next week.  Then we taught Kerry again.  We finished up the Restoration and had a great lesson with her.  She even said she would be at church again. (She was).

Friday we got somewhat “antied” by a Church of Christ guy.  He asked us if we were married because we were Elders and we said no.  He tried to find some scripture in the Bible to prove we need to be married to be called an Elder, but never could.   So that was interesting – I still don’t know what he was referring to.  Then we taught a kid named David.  He is a member, but he is the only one in his family that continues to try.  It's sad because he has no support at home.  We had fun playing Scripture Pictionary with him.  He seems to have some kind of learning disability, but he knew more of his scriptures then we thought he did.  

Saturday, Halloween, we went to the Humane Society.  We had a lot of extra miles so afterwards we drove way out in the boonies to see a referral who requested a Bible.  We saw where Loretta Lynn's house is.  She is an old country singer I guess.  Then we saw Michael for a few minutes and he had made major improvement on his addiction – we were so excited for him.  He is so closed to being able to be baptized.  Then we went to the ward party.  I went as Elder Wardle.  My favorite costumes were a family who dressed as Studio C characters.  I loved it!  We went in early – mission rules say we aren't allowed to drive after 6pm for safety purposes.  So we just chilled for the rest of the night.

Sunday we had 3 investigators at church and we gave 2 blessings as well.  I gave one of them.  At night we went to a Church of Christ service.  After that we went to Shaun and Taleda's.  We taught them about the Book of Mormon and he told us that since we have been coming over and he has been reading it, he has quit drinking.  I was so surprised and happy.  It was awesome!  I was able to bear my testimony to them about the Book of Mormon and the church. We are hoping they can make it to church this Sunday. It was a great way to end the night.

Hope everything is going well for everyone. Talk to all of you next week.

Elder Ellison
Halloween Costume - Went as Elder Wardle