Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry Christmas To All!!! 12-28-15

Wow - the weather has been really nice lately.  We had a 70 degree Christmas, which was awesome.  This is a very weird winter, according to the people here, but I am not complaining.  We also had a week full of service.  This transfer has flown by.  I can't believe there are only 2 weeks left until the next one.  My ponderize scripture this week is John 5: 30 which says, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." This is Christ talking with his apostles and I think it applies to me too.  It is humbling to remember that I can do nothing without His help and the things that He gives me.  I also need to stop being selfish or just thinking of myself.  I must “put off the natural man” (Mosiah 3: 19) and submit my will to the Lords and seek His will.  He has sent me at this specific time for a reason and a purpose that I am figuring out each day as I strive to follow His will.

Monday we went to downtown Nashville with a member from one of the other missionary’s last area, who lives here now.  We went to the Parthenon, which was cool.  It is an exact replica of the original Parthenon in Athens.  Then we went to this mural that says “I Believe in Nashville.”  Then we went to the strip.  We were followed for a bit by a creepy, drunk construction worker.  He asked us for money, but had no idea what we were saying.  Something was “off” about him, but we met the other Elders in a boot store and lost him.  We then went to lunch in a bar (yep – but not what your thinking) and had some live entertainment as well (music).  Then later that night we taught Devante again, which was a pretty good lesson on the Plan Of Salvation.

Tuesday we helped out at the Bishop's Storehouse again.  Then we helped a member dig a trench in preparation to start pouring concrete.  Later that night, we taught Devante and some of his cousins about the Restoration.  The spirit was so strong in that lesson and they all said that if they came to know that the Book of Mormon was true, they would all want to be baptized. It was sweet.

Wednesday we helped set up the concrete forms.  We had to go in early that night because the entire Nashville area was under a tornado warning.  We didn't get a big storm like some areas, but it was a little scary to think that there might be a tornado coming through.  We played a game called Redneck Life.  It's like the game Life, but redneck style.  It's fun.

Thursday we worked some more on the concrete project and then had a Christmas Eve dinner with the Bishop's family.  That was about it.

Friday was Christmas!  We got to Skype home in the morning, which was really fun.  Then we went to lunch at a member’s home with the other Elders in our ward.  Then we went to their cousin's home for dinner.  We had another dinner later that night.  We hit a possum on the way home.  We decided to take it home, skin it and put it in the freezer to eat later.  I do have to mention that my companion pretty much did most of the skinning part, since I don’t have much experience in that area.  The Robertson’s on Duck Dynasty would be proud that the possum didn’t go to waste.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but “Yes, we are having possum for dinner!”

Saturday we poured concrete into the forms we set up.  Then we had dinner with an awesome family and that was about it - nothing else to report.

Sunday I gave a talk on Feed My Sheep.  Most of it was taken from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk in the October 2013 General Conference entitled “The First Great Commandment.”  I encourage all of you to go read it or watch it again.  Later, we helped a member install a new water heater and did some tracting, with no luck.  The holidays stink as a missionary, teaching wise.

So my week was pretty good and it was filled with lots of good memories. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, full of gifts and remembrance of our Savior.  I hope you also have your New Year’s resolutions ready (that will mostly not be fulfilled, like every year -haha). There is one resolution that I want to keep 100% and that is to read the scriptures and pray every day.  I hope we can all do that this year.  The world is getting more evil and the only way to fight against it is with good.  Good always wins in the movies and books and life.  Just like Christ did against Satan. Satan tempted him and what did Christ use in defense? He used scriptures, which I found out this last week, were all located in the book of Deuteronomy. Reading our scriptures helps us learn how to build up a wall of defense almost like Captain Moroni built for the cities of the Nephites.  It is the best way to keep our thoughts and words clean.  They are a great tool and should be used like one.  I have learned a lot from some talks my mom has sent me from a guy named Hank Smith.  He is really good and funny too.  This has been a great year and I am looking forward to being able to spend this next year as a missionary too.  I couldn't ask for a better way to spend it.  Have a wonderful new year and congratulations to my cousin, Savannah for getting married this week. Wish I could be there. Good bye y'all.

Elder Ellison
Christmas District Meeting

1 of 3 Christmas Dinners - That's Right!

Roadkill - Possum For Dinner!

P-Day in Nashville

Parthenon in Nashville

Service Op - Setting Up Concrete Forms

A Week Like The Pioneers 12-21-15

This week we walked all over kingdom come.  It was really cold and windy too.  It is supposed to rain this week - I will take cold & windy over cold & rainy.  Luckily we have the car this week.  I have experienced a “first” this week.  For the first time ever I don't like and am sick of all the treats you get at Christmas.  I feel like I will be super fat after the holidays.  We are overloaded with goodies.  Ugh! 

So this week’s ponderize scripture comes from my daily reading and for some reason it stood out to me so I thought I would ponderize it.  It’s a little odd because it doesn't seem like a scripture that would catch your eye, but it did. The scripture is Luke 11: 9-10.  "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened up to you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." So it is pretty simple, which may be the point. I think we get the idea that in order for us to ask God things or receive answers, it has to be really hard and complex, but it doesn't.  This scripture is written twice in the Bible.  I wanted to break it down a little.  Ask. I thought that it was interesting that it was capitalized even though we all know that it shouldn't be based on its placement in the sentence. Asking is a very key part. The Lord wants us to ask for things. It is the only word that is capitalized in this scripture which may hint towards its importance. If we ask for things, we are going to be given an answer.  Now our part is to ask, His is to answer, and then ours is to accept the answer, no matter what it may be.  Seek. We can ask for things all we want, but the Lord isn't going to just give us the answer on a silver platter. We have to go out and do the work and search for the things we want, and then we will find it.  We need to stop being lazy, even if our searching is mostly on our phones or computers, and do some work. We also need to show our obedience. He is not going to bless us with things we want, if we aren't obedient to what He has asked of us.  Knock. I think this goes along with seek.  When we knock we are right there at the door, and there is always going to be a light on in God’s house with someone there who will always answer.  So we ask for things, which leads to seeking and searching them out, which leads us to the door where we knock.  I think the knock at the door usually comes at the end of our journey.  When we knock, we have showed the Lord that we have made the effort and worked to find our answer.  Then He will open it unto us.  Sorry this was a long explanation, but as I have been asking for things, I have seen that my questions have been answered through this process.  A lot of it comes from reading the scriptures.

Monday was P-day and we played basketball and two-hand-touch rugby. We then went on exchanges for the night and I went to Springfield, which is the other half of our ward, with Elder Ihler who is also from Idaho too.  He is from Malet, or something like that.  About 45 minutes away from Pocatello.  We had a couple lessons with two guys who are really close to baptism.  We had a good time on the exchange.

Tuesday we went to the Bishop’s storehouse and exchanged back.  We then tracted a bit and found one potential investigator. We then went out with a member to have a lesson with Amanda, but she wasn't there when we showed up.  She didn't get back until we were about to leave, so that was a bummer.  We did get to talk to somebody while we were there who may be interested in learning more.

Wednesday we contacted a few people, but they all said to come back another time.  That is the one thing that sucks about the holidays.  Everyone is so busy that they don't have time to listen.  Most of these people tell us to try back after the holidays.  That is 2 weeks of nothing, so we are hoping we will at least get to have a few lessons.

Thursday we tried a lot of people, but again, no luck.  However, later while we were walking to our dinner appointment, a lady pulled into her driveway nearby and started walking towards us.  My first thought was that she was going to offer us a ride, but she asked me if we had a phone number.  So then my next thought was that she was going to get mad or turn us in or something.  I gave her our number and then she told us that she had a friend, named TJ, that wanted our phone number.  So that was cool because we got a referral just from walking an hour to dinner. Our dinner was with Springfield Elders as well and it was an early Christmas dinner at a member’s house, Sis. Durham.  They gave us a bunch of goodies and a stocking full of gifts.  My favorite was a reindeer Christmas tie.  That was so nice of them.  I also got my package from home today.  I got Nanaimo bars, which I was super psyched about.

Friday it was freezing cold.  It evened snowed little flurries in the morning when we helped some members clean out their basement.  We didn’t have any luck the rest of the day until right before dinner.  We had a lesson with a member’s grandson, which went well.  He told us he wants to learn more, so we are going to meet with him some more.

Saturday - not much to report on except for another cold day.

Sunday we had church and no luck the rest of the day.  It turns out that I am giving a talk next Sunday though.  It is supposed to be about 10 minutes long.  Oh Boy!  The topic is Feed My Sheep, which is a good one, but I think it could be a little tricky for a missionary to give it because it may come out sounding like I’m lecturing or shredding into the congregation about doing more missionary work.  Even though there is always room to improve, I’m hoping it won’t come across like I am criticizing or judging at all.  I know I will find a way to be able to talk about the things the Lord wants them to hear. 

So that was my week. I hope your shopping, planning and gift wrapping has all gone smoothly, but also full of remembrance of the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  I wish you all a merry Christmas and a safe holiday for those of you in snowy conditions.  Boy, I am NOT going to miss that this year.  I think Christmas is supposed to be in the high 60s for us, which will be nice.  Haha. Talk to y'all next week.

Elder Ellison

Pre-Christmas Dinner
Rockin' The Christmas Ties!

Meetings & Warm Weather 12-14-15

This week was full of meetings and really weird, unusual, (not going to complain) warm weather. We had two days in the low 70s.  It was crazy, but awesome.  I know it’s really cold back home right now.  So my ponderize scripture this week is Jermiah 1:19 which says, "And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee."  Of course, I see this scripture as focusing on being a missionary.  There are a lot of people, here in the Bible Belt especially, who fight against us any way they can.  They want to harass and discourage us.  They try their best, but they never really succeed because I know that the Lord is with me.  He is helping me every day.  I also think of this scripture in a "regular" person context as well, meaning that the forces of the adversary are tempting us and fighting us every day. We must remember that they cannot prevail when the Lord is with us.  As we look towards Him every day and pray to Him and read our scriptures, we are fortifying and strengthening our walls and armor of protection against them and they shall not win.  There will be many days when our faith and strength will be tested.  If we have not properly prepared ourselves by doing what is most important and what is right, then we will fall and will not have the strength to continue the fight and the adversary will win.  But we can always regain our strength and push through and win in the end, just like a real hero always does, if we start to do those things we knew we needed to from the beginning.  I know that as we pray every day, read our scriptures, go to church, continue to strive to exercise our faith, and look towards God for that extra strength, we will overcome those evil powers.  We will be that hero that stands courageously and boldly in the end, and we will know that it was only by the help of the Lord that we accomplished it.

Monday was P-day and it was really fun being able to play basketball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, and pool with a bunch of other Elders.  We then went and had a Family Home Evening with some members, which was really good.

Tuesday we went to the Bishop's storehouse and helped out there for most of the day.  We then helped out our landlord wrap some gifts.  We had a good conversation about what we believe and were able to answer some of her questions.

Wednesday we had Zone Conference.  We all got "black boxes" installed in our cars which monitor our driving.  We also had a Missionary Christmas Party after the trainings.  I did learn some awesome ways on how we can share the “A Savior is Born” video in our efforts.  I have been wondering how I can better incorporate that in my finding efforts.

Thursday we had a couple lessons.  We taught a lady who wants to get baptized, but just needs to get married.  However, she doesn't know when her boyfriend will be on board with that, so it could be a long wait.  Then we contacted an older, less-active couple.  We shared the video with them and gave the lady a blessing.  We then had dinner and shared the video with a recent convert and investigator.  We had a pretty good day today.

Friday we did lots of service.  We helped our landlords a ton today.  We started out finishing the gift wrapping and then went and helped a member change his broken Christmas lights on his roof. Then we went back to our landlords and helped them with a plumbing problem.  Everything was clogged and we tried to figure it out.  By the end of the night, a plumber had to come and he found roots in the pipes from one of the trees.  We got those out so now they can fix the problems they caused. 

Saturday I got to Skype in and see Mike get baptized.  I wasn't allowed to watch the actual ordinance (mission rules), but I was able to talk with him and watch the program.  I am so happy for him!  Later we used the A Savior Is Born video while tracting and found 2 potential investigators.  We also had showed it to a family, who ended up being in the Area Book.  We didn't know until afterwards, but we watched the video then had a Restoration lesson.  Unfortunately, they weren't interested in learning more.  I got to be honest and say that I used to like the old Christmas video better, but I have come to love it this one too now.  If you haven't watched it, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  It is awesome!  Share it with your friends and family as well.

Sunday we had church, which was good, and then later, we had dinner with the manager for the Nashville Tribute Band.  He and his family are really cool.  They told us about a Christmas light show at a house that was synced to music so we went and saw it afterwards.  It was pretty cool.

Hope everyone is doing well.  Just remember that no matter what gifts you get this Christmas, you have already received the greatest gift of all and that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We need to always remember Him each day.  I encourage each of you that read this blog to take time out of your busy schedule and try to find someone that you can serve, even if it is just a little thing.  I know that it will make you happier and the person you serve happier as well.  Hope you all
have a good week.

Elder Ellison
Mike's Baptism - That's Me Skyping in on the iPad.

Zone Conference & Christmas Party

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I'm the New President Living in White House! 12-7-15

So I have been transferred to the White House.  White House, Tennessee, that is.  My new address is 103 Heritage Dr. White House, TN 37188.  My new companion is Elder Mortensen.  He is from Star Valley, Wyoming.  He has been out 14 months.  He is pretty cool.  Unfortunately we don't have a full-time car, which sucks.  We share a car with some other Elders and switch every other week.  It's a bit of an adjustment – since we are on foot for an entire week.  My feet hurt, not to mention that we don't have as many lessons or get to see as many people.  Luckily the weather wasn't too bad Thursday through Sunday.  Only Tuesday and Wednesday were really cold.  So my ponderize scripture this week is Alma 27: 18 which says, "Now was not this exceeding joy?  Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness."  So leading up to this scripture, Ammon and his brethren were traveling back to Zarahemla after their missionary service and met Alma on the way.  Ammon's joy was so great he fell over and colapsed.  I have been thinking about how I can get to the point where I can feel that great of joy – the joy that comes from God.  I have come to realize that I must be humble and not have pride in myself, but I must remember that everything I have is from Him.  Also to be truly penitent means to be repentant.  When we become truly repentant of the sins and mistakes we have made then we open up more room to receive blessings that will help us to feel this kind of joy.  I am still trying to change myself so that I can experience that joy they talk about in the scripture.  I feel joy sometimes, but it can grow to so much more.
The Patterson's - They are awesome!
John & Tracey

Monday was my last day in Dickson so we did the only thing there is to do in Dickson, go bowling -haha.  Then we went to the Patterson's for dinner.  We went to see Branden and Kassie, then John and Tracey.  That was my last day as a “Greenie.”  Sad day.

Tuesday I was transferred to White House.  I am now in the Madison zone which has a bunch of Elders.  That means P-days will be awesome and we will be playing ball together.

Wednesday we had our District Meeting and I got to meet my new district.  We then biked all day and saw a less-active member.  Later we taught another less-active member and his wife, who isn't a member.  We kind of rushed that lesson because we had a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader and he is pretty cool.

Thursday we walked all over.  We didn't teach anyone, but we got a “potential” while tracting.  We will see how it goes when we return to see him.  We got locked out of our apartment because the keys were inside, but Elder Mortensen used a card to open the door.  It’s a comfort to know it is so easy to break in.  Haha.  I then got to meet our landlords and they are really cool and nice.  I also added Pig’s Brain to my list of “weird foods I ate on my mission.”  It tasted and smelled like mushy tuna and it was as bad as you would think.  I didn’t know what it was before I tried it.

Friday for most of the day we helped our landlord change the brakes on his son’s car.  I was zero help because I had no idea what to do, but I learned a lot.  Now I kind of know what to do.  We tried to see some people later, but no luck.

Saturday we went and helped an older lady put up her Christmas decorations.  Then later we walked a ton trying to see people.  We then went and heard the Nashville Community Choir sing Handle's Messiah.  It was good.  I also learned that one of my investigators from Dickson, Kerry, most likely got “antied” by her family over Thanksgiving, so she stopped seeing the missionaries.  Bummer.  However, Mike's baptism is next Saturday.  Hopefully I will be able to go back to Dickson to see it.

Sunday I said the opening prayer in Sacrament Meeting.  We had no luck later as we tracted.  We saw a less-active member that night and we’re hoping she comes to church next Sunday.

Well that was my week.  Not much happened, but that is OK.  I was told that this area does a lot of service, which I love.  This week I have really come to know of the power of reading the scriptures.  They can truly change and bless your life with more happiness.  Reading the scriptures everyday is one of the simple things we can all do to help us know God's will.  They bring happiness, joy, peace, and knowledge into our lives as well.  When we are doing the simple things, such as reading, praying, and going to church, everything else just somehow falls into place the way it needs to.  I have a strong testimony of these things and know good stuff happens if we do them.  I leave my testimony with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Hope you all have a wonderful week and remember that our Savior is the greatest gift of Christmas.  He is more important than any material 
gift we could ever receive.  I pray for all of you.  I hope you all find true peace and happiness and find ways to look beyond yourselves to help someone out in some way this Christmas.  Until next time.  Goodbye y'all.

Elder Ellison
Elder Mortensen & I - We live behind the house with the boat in the driveway.

                                                                Eating Pig's Brain

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Training Complete! 11-30-15

Leap of Faith  :)
I have officially been out for 3 months now and am no longer “in training.”  Crazy how time just flies by!  My ponderize scripture this week was Alma 37: 37 which says "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down with the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks to God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."  First thing I learned was that with no matter what the case may be, we need to ask God what we need to be doing or choosing.  He will always direct us in the right path with the most good and benefit for us.  Second, I learned that by the end of the day, we need to leave our troubles or anything else that might be on our minds, with Him.  When we do that, we receive comfort and a sense of peace and calm.  Third, I learned that we must always show our gratitude and thanks to God, every day.  Not just dutiful repetition, but with sincerity.  He has given us everything we have so I doubt we could ever run out of things to be grateful for.  I tend to focus just on the big things, but there is soooo much more.  When we do all these things, He will bless us and lift us up higher. 

Monday we went bowling again for a couple hours and I beat my high score with a 169.  It was also the highest of the day.  I was the only one to beat Bro. Patterson as well, twice.  So that was P-day. 

Tuesday we taught Mike the Word of Wisdom and he just has a couple things to get over, but he has a strong desire to make those changes so he can get baptized.  Then we talked to a guy who is totally against the government and has some crazy theories.  It is worth noting that he may have been a little drunk when we talked to him and he might also be a little crazy too.  He likes Glenn Beck though, which is awesome. 

Wednesday we went and talked with Monica about the importance of church.  We probably need to go over there when we have somebody who speaks Spanish because she doesn't really understand us very well.  I am beginning to think she may not really know why we are there.  Later that evening, a member drove us around.  We went to dinner with Kerry first and taught her the Plan Of Salvation.  We are praying that she feels comfortable with the baptismal date we set with her.  Later we contacted 2 referrals that were way out of town.  We had a good conversation with one of them.  We talked about God’s plan and tried to comfort her because her husband had passed away a couple months ago.  We did the best we could, but only the Lord can do it the way she needs it.

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  We started the day by going to the Christian Faith Center church to help them hand out dinners to people.  We then went to the Patterson's around 1pm and ate there.  I made sure I didn't eat too much because we had a second dinner appointment to go to later.  On the way to our next dinner, we stopped by a less-active member’s house and she was actually home this time.  We went in and got to know her and her husband.  They were super cool.  Afterwards we went to the River’s home around 6, but we didn't end up eating until 7:15 because the turkey wasn't done.  This was the first Thanksgiving that I wasn't stuffed to the brim, although I was extremely tired.  It was a good Thanksgiving.

Friday we went over early to Bro. Vincent's house and helped him put up his Christmas tree and decorations.  He has a ton of ornaments.  He has some cool ones from the Hallmark store.  After that, a member drove us around all day.  We were able to see 3 less-active members.  One of them said they were going to be at church this coming Sunday.

Saturday was Transfer Calls and I am getting the boot.  I am being transferred out, while Elder Wardle stays to train a new guy for his last 6 weeks.  I am so sad to leave Dickson, but I know I am needed somewhere else to help build up the kingdom of God.  I find out where I'm going and who my new companion will be on Tuesday.  It rained all day and so tracting was fun
😐😐.  We taught John that night and shared The Hope of God's Light video with him because it kind of fits his situation.

Sunday I got an early Christmas gift from Bro. Vincent which was a tie and some banana bread - yummmmm.  There was like, no one at church today and we only had one investigator.  I guess that's what happens with the Holidays.  We taught Mike some more and had to reschedule his baptismal date for next Saturday because he still hasn't quite overcome some of his problems yet, but he is making big improvements.  I am so happy for him.  I gave him a blessing for strength and comfort.  I hope to be able to come see him get baptized.  That night we went to the Church of God of Prophecy.  It was their district meeting or something and so there were more people than usual.  It wasn't as crazy as it can be except for one part at the beginning when one lady was speaking gibberish (“in tongues”), but that was it.  We then went and had dinner with the Valdez family. They are super cool.  I hope that she gets baptized during my next transfer at some point so that I am around to come and see it.  We then went to the hospital to give a blessing to a lady who had broken her ankle and was getting surgery the next day.  I sealed the blessing.

Well, Dickson has been good and I am going to miss this place and the people here as well.  I hope to be able to come back someday after my mission and visit all the cool people I meet in all my areas.  I know however that I am needed in another place and that I am going to learn more from my new companion (the “Greenie Buster”).  I will send my new address in next week’s email.  I hope that as the Christmas season is now upon us that we will all be able to show forth the Light of Christ that is within us by being able to serve or share our testimony with at least one person. We need to always look for those opportunities and take advantage of them.  We get them a lot more then we may think.  Have a wonderful week everyone.

Elder Ellison


My Last District Meeting

Santa's Helpers - Bro. Vincent's Tree