Monday, December 26, 2016

365 Days to 365 People 12-5-16

Hey everyone.  I'm emailing this week from soaking wet Bristol, VA.  It has been raining so much here that there have been flood warnings across our whole mission.  It's been crazy!  We finally got the rain we have been missing all Summer and Fall.  Also, next Monday, our P-day will be moved to Wednesday due to a Half-Mission Conference with Elder Neilson, President of the Missionary Department and in the presidency of the 70.  We are going to be meeting with him for most of the day so that is what is happening next week.  Well you probably want to know about our week which was decent and the reasoning behind my subject title so let’s get into it.

Monday we sat outside and froze with the sisters as we played a bunch of board games.  I also got a haircut which was probably the best one I have ever gotten from a Great Clips.  Not much else happened that day.

Tuesday we do service at a member’s farm each week.  We picked strawberries and then started pulling up the stakes that hold up the tomato plants.  They have a huge field of them.  We work there with the Sister Missionaries too.  Towards the end, we took some of the rotten tomatoes that are everywhere and started throwing them.  Elder Anderson and I had the stakes and so we played Babe Ruth for a bit.  Yes, we did get sprayed with tomato juice in the face when the stake and tomato made contact.  After lunch there, we went back and showered of course.  We later tried to see some potentials we found last week, but no luck with that.  That evening we went out with our Ward Mission Leader and saw a couple less-actives. 

Wednesday we went and saw a lady named Miss Rush.  She has been meeting with missionaries for almost 4 years now.  She feeds us and takes good care of us and in return we teach her our beliefs to help her understand more.  After that visit we met with some investigators named Dakota and Chris. We mainly just fellowshipped and got to know them a little better.  Chris can make huge rings with his vaping.  It’s pretty cool actually.  Too bad he will have to give that up if he joins the church -haha.  That evening we had a Book of Mormon class at the church.  I would really like to get some non-members to it to help them learn more about it.

Thursday we had District Meeting which was pretty good.  That afternoon we tracted for almost 4 hours.  For the first 2 1/2 hours no one was home, wanted to listen, and some wouldn’t even take a Light the World card.  It was starting to get dark and when it is dark, people are winding down. That’s usually not the best time to knock doors, but we had such a pitiful first part that we were determined to make the end of it count.  Still, no one was interested, but we handed out triple or more of the cards than before.  So that ended our work on a much better note and I count it as a success for the day.

Friday we weekly planned.  Later we had to refill the car with fuel and get some air in the tires.  After about 4 different gas stations that either were out of service or didn't have the type of gas we needed, we finally found one.  This is where my title will somewhat make sense.  At one of the gas stations we stopped at, an older gentleman came over and started talking to us for a few minutes.  We gave him a card and he thanked us, like most people do out here, for what we are doing.  He told us that we should be grateful and happy if we are able to help one soul that day and sometimes we may not even know it.  He said to just think; if we helped 1 person a day for a year, that is 365 people we have helped.  Wow!  What great insight on that!  There really is a success every day with at least one person.  It also goes along with the Light the World initiative of helping just one person each day and to continue doing it even after Christmas.  You too can help at least 365 people in a year.  Later we met with a man named Don.  He is an older gentleman - like in his 80’s old.  I will just say that cleaning is ESSENTIAL!  His house was not the worst one I have been in, but to describe it, the moment you open the door a wave of rotten mold mixed with urine smell rushes over you and you don't get used to it - even after an hour.  Boxes and clutter are everywhere with mice climbing all around.  Yes, I really did see and hear the mice.  My appreciation for clean living continues to grow over my mission.  And just remember, that is not the worst I have been in.  We saw a couple more people that day, but not much else happened.

Saturday we went out with some of the Priesthood of the ward and tried to visit a few less-active men.  We then saw Miss Rush again.  We had a good gospel discussion with her.  After her we met with Josh and Kara.  We originally were going to meet Josh, but Kara just came and joined in.  She is actually way more interested than he is.  He was a little too focused on the football game.  I will just stop and say that my self-control to not watch sports has grown, but it takes just about all of my strength to not look - haha.  Anyways, we taught the Restoration and invited them to our Ward Christmas Party on Saturday. 

Sunday we had a great Testimony Meeting at church.  Later we had a lesson with David and then got to watch him and Sister Young get married.  We later visited with the Fonsecas and then played a couple games with them. 

This week I just want to take a moment to express my love for this work in which I am involved.  It kind of occurred to me that I love being a missionary.  I love serving the Lord and being able to share my testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ with people every day.  Even the bad moments or weeks, I love it.  Back when I was still somewhat new to mission life, I easily could have gone home after my time was up and been fine.  As I think now, it is a little bit of a scary thought that one day down the road, I won't get to be doing the things I am doing now.  I know that I can still be a missionary even when I am home, but it will not be the same.  The joy I get to feel each day as my companion and I get to help people and see their lives change is indescribable.  I love being a missionary and having this chance to devote all of my time and efforts to serving the Lord and fulfilling His work and the plan He has for me each day.  There is nothing I have done in my life up to this point that is greater than this.  I have come to learn and know what it means to love the work and people.  I know that this is the true and full gospel again on the earth and that we can gain eternal salvation with our loved ones and Father in Heaven again through the sacred ordinances performed by God's proper authority.  These are my thoughts and feelings that I wanted to share this week with you all and I close in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Tour Of His Bristol Missionary Apartment
I Ask Him To Video All His Apartments Just So We Can See Where He Lives

Friday, December 23, 2016

Light The World 11-28-16

Well quick little note - I did not go to Bristol, TN, but just across the border to Bristol, VA.  We cover both, but we live on the Virginia side.  So my new companion is Elder Anderson.  He is from Denver Colorado.  I'm finishing his training and he is a pretty fun guy.  So this week has been pretty good.

Monday we got the transfer calls.  Then we went to the Chattanooga Zoo with a few other missionaries.  It was pretty fun.  Later that night we had a lesson with Zack.  We talked about the Priesthood and the different Priesthood auxiliaries in the church.  It was a pretty good lesson. 

Tuesday we met with Olivia and Rebecca.  We talked about how we don't have to know everything to show our faith and act upon it.  We are hoping Olivia was able to talk with her parents when she was home so she can reach the date she set for baptism.  Later we went and did some more tracting.  We also stopped by to see how Jarvis was doing and so I could say goodbye.  He gave us some sweet potato pie that was really good.  Funny experience we had as we biked over:  We are working on talking with everyone we see and as we were riding our bikes, we saw a guy in his driveway that was wearing a black shirt, some camo pants, and boots.  So Elder Thomas, being a hunter, stopped and asked how he was doing and if he was getting ready to go hunting.  He responds with, "What the *!?%$* does that mean?"  E. Thomas said that he asked because he looked like he was getting ready to go hunting and said that he was a hunter himself.  The man responds with, "I *!?%&* hate hunters! I'm a *!?%&* vegetarian!"  We then said "Oh, OK.  Well, have a good day" and left.  I'm pretty sure that guy just woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day.  We just laughed it off – that just did not go as planned.  Later that night we went out with Bro Smith.  We went and had a lesson with a referral and it went pretty well.  Hopefully he will follow through and progress in the gospel.

Wednesday we set off for transfers.  We had to be there earlier than most of the missionaries because Elder Thomas needed to go to Trainer training.  So I got to chill with some of the other early missionaries.  Elder Mcleod was there, mainly because he is now AP, but I got to talk with him a little bit.  There were a couple other missionaries I knew and so it was good to see them again.  Once transfers came in, I saw a few others I knew as well.  I also saw Elder Christensen again. I then got to meet Elder Anderson.  I also met Elder Thomas's greenie, or my “grandson,” Elder Myers who is also from Boise.  We then headed off back to our new areas.  We stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch before we left Knoxville.  Then we set out for another 2 hour drive back to Bristol.  Later that day, we went to the hospital to give a blessing to an investigator's dad.  We gave him a blessing and he was crying afterwards and was so thankful.  We offered to give the husband and wife blessings of comfort as well.  After those three blessings, the Spirit was just so strong in there.  We had a great time with them.  We are hoping that we can start working with them a little more.

Thursday for Thanksgiving we got to go to a Turkey Bowl that morning.  I was so pumped.  It was only us and two other families so we played 4v4.  Even though it was small, it was really fun.  We then went home and changed and headed off to a part-member home.  We ate and then played some games with them. We had to leave and go to our next appointment, which was at another member’s home and we ate there too.  Then after that we went to our last appointment with two recently returned missionaries who are married and their families and friends.  We ate there too and that one was a little more difficult to finish the plate.  So that was my Thanksgiving this year.  Luckily I was feeling better this year than last year when I got sick.

Friday we had District meeting.  It is much different than my last District because my last one had 5 companionships and this one just has 3.  Later we did some tracting and found a few people to go see again.  After our finding, we had a lesson with a less-active member and his non-member wife.  It was a frustrating lesson for me.  It was a great lesson, but just frustrating because they were pretty stubborn and didn't want to really go to any effort to get answers to their prayers.  She said that she is waiting to be guided by God on which church to go to.  She doesn't want to leap ahead and make a mistake which is understandable, but you can still go to different churches without joining them.  So I asked her, "How do you know which church God wants you to go to if you don't go to any?  Won't you get an answer if you are there or after you went you prayed about it?"  It’s hard for God to guide us when we refuse to act and just sit back and wait for something to happen.  I looked at her husband as she responded and he was just smiling and nodding because he agreed with me.  I thought that was pretty funny.  There were a lot of other things that I wanted to say, but didn't because I didn't get the chance.  We are going to continue to help them and work with them. 

Saturday we went and did service in some really cold weather as we helped a member with her "farm."  She has a few chickens and ducks and then we just do other miscellaneous chores around the yard.  Then we helped a less-active move a couch into his apartment.  That was an interesting adventure.  Then we went out and did a lot of less-active hunting.  We found a few new investigators as we went because I'm working on talking to everyone.  Some of these people were outside and I went up and just started talking to them.  So I'm glad that was improvement from even just a week ago.  We were able to share the “Light the World” initiative with some of the less-actives as well.  We even shared it with the Bishop here.  He loved it and we told him about how they can possibly get a temple built here in the near future if temple attendance starts picking up.  He got super excited at the possibility. 

Sunday I got to meet the ward and it’s about the same size as the White House Ward. There are a lot of really nice, cool people here.  Later we had a sweet lesson with one of our investigators that afternoon.  He is currently working towards being baptized.  There isn't a date set yet, but we are working on that. 

So if you haven't heard, the new Christmas season initiative is entitled “Light the World.”  On there is a sweet 2 minute video about our Savior.  The whole point of this event is to get everyone involved with serving others and brightening up someone's day.  There is an advent calendar that goes with this for every day of December.  It gives ideas each day of how we can simply serve someone else. There are videos to go with each day as well for 25 days with over 25 ways.  This is just the start.  The point is to get everyone in the habit of always helping others. If we lose ourselves, serve others, and not focus on ourselves as much, we will have more happiness.  There is no greater light than the Light of Christ that is within each and every one of us.  "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which art in Heaven."  As the world gets darker and darker, we need to be the ones that turn the lights on in other people's lives.  As we turn them on in other people's lives, we turn them on in our own lives during the process.  I encourage all of you to go check this out and to get involved with this great, simple event.  If you do, the Spirit of God will be in your life more and the people you serve will be so happy and because they are happy, you will be happy as well.  I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

My new address is 847 Old Airport Rd. Apt. 7 Bristol, VA 24201

3 Generations - Me, Son (my Trainee), Grandson (my Trainee's Trainee)
Chattanooga Zoo

New Companion - E. Anderson 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Week of Improvement 11-21-16

So this was the last week of the transfer. My time here in Chattanooga has come to an end. Elder Thomas is going to be staying to take over the area and he is TRAINING!  In other words, I am getting a “GRANDSON!”  I am so proud.  I am also going to “follow up” or continue to train another missionary in Bristol, TN and VA.  I have been told that a Geico commercial was shot there.  If you see the one where the gecko is walking down the middle of the street and says, "on this side is Tennessee and this side is Virginia," then that's where I'm headed.  I will be serving with Elder Anderson.  He has only been out for one transfer (6 weeks).  So this week it was warm for most the week and almost got to 80 one day and the very next day, it was windy and about 55.  I almost cried.  I'm glad I don't have to ride a bike during the winter though.  We did get a lot of rain one night so all the smoke from the fires has gone down.

Monday was super fun.  Some of the missionaries from the District came with us to an indoor jump park.  It's a big trampoline place and the best part - it had some Ninja Warrior type stuff.  It felt so good to do flips and climb on stuff again.  After that we met up with the rest of the District and had a breakfast dinner.  Our mission president, President Griffin, came and we had interviews afterwards.   We talked about different things.  Turns out, I have the same personality type as him.  He told me some stuff about that and things we tend to do and ever since then, I have looked back and noticed how I do some of those things -haha.  We also talked about goals and he told me a little bit of what will be happening with me at transfers.  He played a song at our last Zone Meeting that was really good so I asked what it was.  He said it was called “Roads” by Chris Mann.  He said that Chris has some other good songs as well.  I would suggest checking him out.  So that was an awesome time.  We had a lesson with Zack while we waited for our turn for interviews.  We had to postpone his baptismal date because he wants to make sure his family will support him in his decision and also give them time for it to sink in.  So we are still working with him on that.

Tuesday we had Zone Conference and we had some really good trainings.  We got trained on how to use the new Christmas initiative the church is putting out on Friday called Light The World.  One of the Assistants did that one and during it, they had us prepare to role play if we were to contact a referral off of it.  President Griffin gave us a character and situation to prepare for and then after we prepared, he called Elder Thomas and I up to do it in front of the whole Zone with him as the “referral.”  So that was really nerve racking.  We didn't do horrible, but we definitely weren't ourselves.  We then reversed and he did it to us.  Man, do I have some work to do!  We later had a training by President Griffin.  His training was on repentance and sacrifice.  He talked about how repentance needs to be a true change of heart.  And for us as missionaries to have the Spirit with us more powerfully, he listed 6 things that hinder us which were: Disobedience, Fear, Passion, Pride, Sarcasm/Negative Attitude, and Laziness.  He then asked us to go home that night and write down 1 or 2 things in each category that we would be willing to sacrifice and give up.  He wanted us to fast about it the next day and then for the next 40 days, we are to work on letting go of those things we wrote down or improving upon them.  It was a really good training.  Afterwards, we did exchanges with the Signal Mountain Elders and I stayed in the area and received Elder Hoch for the day.  He is a Spanish missionary so we went and did finding in part of our area that has a lot of Latinos.  Both of us got 2 possible investigators that day for our areas. 

Wednesday we exchanged back and then we went finding that day.  We contacted a lot of people in our Area Book and some referrals.  We also went by Jaqueline and Letia’s house since we haven't seen them in a while.  We only saw the kids and got to play some kickball with them for a few minutes. Man, I miss those kids!  We saw Hayden that night also and we taught her about the Restoration of the Priesthood.  It was a bit of a struggle teaching her, but we eventually got through it.

Thursday was our weekly planning day.  We went and tracted for 3 hours afterwards with no luck.  We found one potential on the bus though.  We did run into a Jehovah Witness that thinks our church is racist and tried to prove us wrong.  His “doctrine” didn't even make sense.  Then, two doors later this guy from a Presbyterian church first words to us were, "You guys don't believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  We both looked at him with a confused look and said, “Yes we do.”  He wasn't interested, but he did say, "I'm glad I spoke with you guys."  So that was good - some people have the strangest ideas about Mormons.  We laughed about it a bit because our church literally has Christ's name in it, it was on our name tags, and the pamphlet we showed had a picture of Jesus Christ.  Later that day we had dinner with our Branch Mission Leader and then tried to see one of our investigators.  He was sleeping when we arrived so we talked with his sister who is a returning less-active member. 

Friday we met with Olivia and Rebecca.  We read some scriptures with them and also talked to Olivia about telling her parents about her baptism over the break.  We then went and contacted some referrals.  We met with Dean for a little bit and told him he needs to start coming to church again.  Afterwards, we rode by a man’s house as he was taking leaves.  We stopped to give him a Pass Along card and he started to bash with us a little bit.  Most of the things he was saying we agreed with, but he had this deceptive idea that we thought Joseph Smith was God.  He tried to quote some scripture to prove it, but didn't know where it was.  He even tried to tell us at one point that there were 6 chapters in the Book of Malachi.  It was really interesting because I have never had people in this area bash with me except for these past two days. 

Saturday we did some tracting in the morning and found a new investigator.  We then helped the Relief Society with their project and made a couple ornaments.  Afterwards, we went and did a bunch of finding.  We found a couple less-actives home.  One said she wanted a ride for next Sunday and one said he would come this Sunday if we called to get him up.  Later we saw Jacqueline and the kids again.  They have just been going through a busy time, but we played with the kids for a couple minutes.  We are just trying to show that we care and are still thinking about them.  We later met with a guy we tracted into last week.  We talked about a bunch of stuff and gave him a Book of Mormon.  He said he would read it.  He also said that if he ever feels like he needs to do something or that something is true, then he will go forward with it.  Oh boy, is he in for a surprise when he starts reading!  He is currently searching for a testimony of Christ, so hopefully we can help him out. 

Sunday we just had a lot of church.  I gave a talk in the YSA on repentance and forgiveness.  President Griffin pretty much helped me write my talk from his training session and he didn't even know it -haha.  After church we met a less-active and talked with him for half an hour.  He was just sitting outside trying to find it in himself to walk into the church building.  He said he is just lost right now and so we tried to help him.  We are going to watch the Restoration video with him Tuesday.  Later we went and visited Central Church of Christ that is just down the road from us.  It was a shorter service than normal because they were having a dinner fellowship thing after it. 

Today, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I just want to say what I am thankful for:  loving family and friends, the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the opportunity to dedicate 2 years to serve God fully everyday, sports, a mission president that helps me grow and become a better missionary, the blessing to live in the free country of the United States of America, missionary companions who teach me things that they may never know they taught, the strangers I get to talk to every day and come to love, a living prophet and twelve apostles to lead us in today's crazy world, a Savior who went through everything for me personally and for everyone else, and a loving Father in Heaven who watches out for me each day and has provided me with all of these things I mentioned and more.  I leave these things with y'all in the name of Him who made it possible, Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Jump Park

District Breakfast Dinner

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hey, Are You Single? 11-14-16

So this week was a pretty good week.  I had to wear my sweatshirt like everyday though, which is no fun because we all know what is coming.  It also has been really smokey down here because there are 4 fires that are surrounding us somewhat.  Now when I say fires, it is not like the west.  These are just like overly big bonfires, not ones that are burning hundreds of thousands of acres – at least not yet anyways.  So a lot of people have told us we should go in soon because of the smoke and we are just like, this is like we are camping back home.  It's a little funny how much they freak out about these little ones.  The reason they are having them at all is because of the drought.  Chattanooga is 20 inches less than normal and so when people throw their cigarette butts while hiking, it starts a fire because it is dry.  They also caught an arson that caused one of them.  Also Transfers are next week.  I know, right before Thanksgiving.  We find out Monday what the verdict is and I am guessing I will leave because I have been here for 3 transfers and I am finishing training E. Thomas, but we shall see.  So that's about it here, time for the week.

Monday we just chilled with the other missionaries and also watched an Elder burn some pants for his 18 month mark.

Tuesday we started out and had a lesson with Olivia and Rebecca.  We reset Olivia’s baptism date for Dec. 10.  So that is going to be awesome.  We then went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders and I went to the Harrison Bay Area with Elder Jepperson.  He is an awesome guy and super fun.  We had a great time.  We did “finding” for the whole afternoon.  We talked with this old guy at the end for about 30 minutes.  He is from the Seventh Day Adventist church and who was really friendly and nice.  We were joking around with him and then just started asking about things like what he believed in and then he started to ask us.  As we got further into our conversation, he got more argumentative and was trying to prove his side right.  He wouldn't let us answer his questions completely before he would interrupt and try and prove our unfinished answer wrong.  He needs to “see” things have happened, like a prophecy being fulfilled that came from a prophet, in order to know they are a prophet.  We started to get a little irritated and finally just stopped answering him and said we were leaving.  He was trying to prove our beliefs wrong, while all we were doing was trying to talk to people amicably about Christ.  So that was a fun time.  Other than that experience, it was a pretty good day and we had a lot of fun.  I learned a lot from E. Jepperson - he is going home next week.

Wednesday we had District Meeting and then we just went and tried to do some finding.  We knocked on a couple sorority and a fraternity houses.  Those are always exciting because you never know what you are going to get.  At the fraternity, as we were walking up to talk to one of the guys, he puts a big thing of chew in his mouth.  Afterwards we were both like, “Well, there goes your teeth.”  We found a couple people from our tracting that are possibilities, but nothing too amazing so far.  We had one guy tell us it was good we were doing it today because the world is going to need it now after the election.  The person he wanted didn't win apparently- haha.  We just laughed afterwards.  Lots of people have asked what our thoughts are on the election results or have said something like, “You must be happy with who won.”  We have always said, we don't know too much about either side since we don't watch or listen to the news.  All I can say is that the people have voted and now all I can do is just pray for him and hope he does a good job.

Thursday was a fairly good day.  We got a potential investigator through a Bible referral.  She said we were an answer to her prayers for God to send someone with the gospel to her.  She also was very unbalanced from being drunk, so we shall see how we can help her.  We taught a potential investigator the Restoration.  She seemed to agree with a lot of the things we shared.  We later met with Zack and taught him about Tithing and Fast Offerings.  It worked out perfectly because that's what one of our lessons was on in church the previous Sunday so that helped out.

Friday we weekly planned.  Then later we contacted some referrals and potentials and had some pretty good lessons from it.  One of them was a lady named Deanne who wants to search for religion because she grew up in a town that was so small that everyone went to the same church –the only one there.  We had an awesome lesson with her.  We later had a quick little lesson with Hayden where we went over the First Vision again, but with a video this time.  She got distracted a lot which was a little difficult, but she seemed to have grasped it a little better with a video this time.

Saturday we did some finding and we found a guy named Robert who had learned a little bit about our church 15 years ago.  We are going to start meeting him.  We also knocked on the door of a girl who had just moved from Tullahoma.  She was a member and didn't know where the church was.  To figure out which branch she should go to (the family branch or the singles), I asked her (because I couldn’t think of any other way) in the most awkward way, "So, are you...uh... single?"  We had a good laugh afterwards because that is something you don’t usually hear missionaries say.  It was a little weird, I’m not gonna lie.  Come to find out, she was single so we directed her to the YSA branch haha. We then tried a lot of people, but no luck and we also found a couple potentials later through tracting.  Later that night, we had YSA Missionary Correlation meeting.  Before the Sister Missionaries got there, luckily, I bent down to grab something and... I will just stop and say that when you are biking for a while, your muscles in your thighs and behind grow and sometimes you don't even realize it until later when you have something happen like... totally rip my pants - right down the seam in the behind area.  It was about a good 18 inch rip.  I made sure it was hidden during the whole meeting - so that was a nice experience.  It's a good thing there is a member that has offered to sew anything if we need it because I NEEDED IT – BAD!

Sunday we had Stake Conference.  Our Mission President spoke and during his talk, he called all of the missionaries to come and stand in the front in a big row.  As we stood there and he spoke, the Spirit was just so strong.  As we looked out across the sea of faithful saints, we could see a couple of them crying.  It was a really cool experience.  We talked with him afterwards and he said that his plan was to get them to feel the Spirit and to shed a few tears.  It was awesome because he told these members that they were looking at today's modern-day Army of Helaman.  There were many other great talks as well during the conference -one of the best I have been to.  We then went with our YSA mission leader, Tyler, to his home for lunch.  His mom had cooked a real authentic Southern meal.  It was her famous homemade fried chicken (which was really good), baked beans, potato salad, pickled beets, and rolls.  It was pretty good and I was so full I almost puked it up.  They are a really awesome family.  We then later had a dinner with some other members.   They had invited a few other people over and so luckily we didn't have to eat too much because we were still full and this was only a couple hours later.  Boy was this day filling!

So my thoughts today are a little bit directed towards judging others and comparing ourselves to others in regards to the gospel.  We should not compare ourselves to others on the way they are living the gospel.  We shouldn’t judge others because they don't live the gospel the way we think it should be lived.  The gospel is unique, just like everyone else.  The way the gospel works for you, is the way it works for you, but it will not look the same on any other person besides yourself.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to do the best we can to live the gospel and to do it the way it works for us.  Now, that doesn't mean that we can say, "Oh it works for me to go boating on Sunday."  We need to be doing our best every day to improve how we live.  If we don't pray as much as someone else or we don't read as many chapters in the scriptures as someone else, then that is still OK.  The fact of the matter is, is that you are doing what works for you and it is still good enough.  It is all good enough as we put forth our effort to do our best.  As we focus on Christ and do our best for Him, He will bring us together as brothers and sisters in the gospel without judgments or comparisons.  I leave this with y'all in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Oooops - I ripped my pants.
Another Whoops - Panorama Error - Either That Or I Have A Big Freak Head!

District Photos

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Back To The 80s 10-31-16

I was super happy this week because we were back in the 80s.  It felt so nice.  I wish all of you guys in the colder areas could feel this because it is fantastic.  We also had a great week of missionary work and teaching people.

Monday we went and played disc golf.  That was pretty fun.

Tuesday we had Zone Training Meeting.  It was really good.  We got to learn how to work with the members better and how to set and reach our goals or vision.  President Griffin also taught us why we have rules and what they can do for us.  He played a song for us that I am going to ask the name of so I can get it back home.  After that we headed back to our areas and got to work.  We did some finding that was close to campus, so we talked with a few college students.  We also knocked on a Fraternity and a Sorority house.  Only the Frat house answered.  We also accidentally tracted into a religion called the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  They were just starting their service and they invited us in and we got to watch and listen for a few minutes.  They invited us to come for a dinner and gave us "coupons" for a free meal at their restaurant.  They were super nice.  We talked to one of the guys a couple days later and he said that him and some of the other members used to be Mormon.  So that is pretty cool. 

Wednesday we did a lot of tracting across the river and we found a couple potentials and new investigators.  We then had a dinner and lesson with the 9 year-old.  It was an all right lesson.  After that I took Elder Thomas to his first non-Mormon church.  We went to the Church of Christ, Scientist.  There was hardly anyone in there.  The reason for “scientist” is because they say it is the study of Christianity and Christ.  The lady that started their church also wrote a book about the parallels to science and the scriptures.  Out of this book, there was a statement this lady wrote that said, "There is no error in science."  Elder Thomas and I looked at each other with a confused look on our faces because the answers to science now are different than they were a year ago and will change again in another year.  I'm pretty sure science does have error because it isn't a set truth.  Anyway, they also had testimony meeting and we sat there for 30 min. while 3 of the 6 people that were there gave a quick testimony.  That was some serious silence and quiet.

Thursday we met with a couple investigators and also contacted some referrals.  We also decided, since we were in the area, to go stop by Jarvis's house since we hadn't seen him in a while.  He was HOME!  However, he had gotten some bad news on Tuesday after two weeks of tests and lab reports.  He has some serious health issues that I won't go into, but he needs prayers.  He told us that he does want to be baptized and he needs to be, but he just doesn't know when he will be able to because of this news.  So we are going to work with him on that.

Friday we met with Olivia and Rebecca.  We went over the importance of scripture study.  We then did some more tracting across the river.  After that we had dinner with a member and we had vegan spaghetti.  It was pretty good.  We then went to a lesson at a less-actives home and talked about tithing. 

Saturday we did some weekly planning.  After that we went to a 20 minute wedding of two of the members in our branch.  Both are fairly new members too so it was cool.  I wish I got the picture we were in, but maybe I will get it at some point.  We then saw Yetta and we taught her the Plan of Salvation.  She really likes the things we teach her and how we teach it so she can understand it.  We invited her to a soft baptism commitment and she agreed.  She is going to be doing some surgery soon and after that is when she will be able to start coming to church and then eventually get baptized.  She has so much faith that she will be healed.  Afterwards, we did a bunch more tracting around campus and knocked on another Fraternity and they took a pamphlet.  Hopefully that will go somewhere.  We found a lady named Gracie and we are going back next week.  Towards the end we found a college girl that said her two roommates would be here Sunday and they all could use a message about Jesus.  They unfortunately weren't home when we went by Sunday, so we will have to try again another time.

Sunday not too much really happened.  Nothing too exciting other than church.

So I will share with you one of the things that I learned this week.  This thing I learned deals with trust and love.  We can all love someone whether it be romantically or just as a loved one.  These loved ones can include family, friends, leaders, etc.  We all have at least one person in our lives that we love this way.  Love brings a bond between people.  We can also develop Christ-like love for people.  Even people we don't even know.  As I go out and meet people every day, I continually think to myself, "Wow! I love this person."  And all of that is coming just from talking with them and I don't even know them.  As this love grows stronger and into a bond, we start to grow trust.  Trust is much more than love.  As we love someone and get to know them, our trust in them grows.  There are many people in my life who I have this trust in and it all started as I grew to have love for them.  This trust builds an even sturdier bridge.  To know that you can trust in someone to do something or say something or confide in is amazing.  As family we should be able to trust each other.  A self-dependent family is one that doesn't have that trust in each other.  Friends can trust in each other for shoulders to cry on or to know that they will always have that friend to back them up no matter what.  Leaders can have trust in us to do the right thing and to do the things they would want us to and we can trust in them to not lead us astray.  Trust is something that is earned over time and starts as we love one another.  We can still love someone, but may not trust them.  This can be a struggle in some situations.  That is why trust is super important in any relationship, especially in one where there is love for one another.  As we trust others, we don't have to worry about whether they will turn on us behind our backs or not follow through because love will be there.  They will not have those desires, but will only want to help you.  These are just some of my thoughts as I learn about trust being an important part of a loving relationship.  I leave these things with y'all in the name of the one who loved all of us first and enough to be our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Flashback to the Beginning of His Mission

The Yellow Deli 11-7-16

So one of the highlights this week was going to this restaurant called the Yellow Deli. I will explain about it later. We also had some exchanges and tune ups this week. Not much else to say here so let's get on into it.

Monday was Halloween and because we couldn't go out and proselyte, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings or B-dubs.  Not much else happened.

Tuesday we met with Rebecca and Olivia.  We are trying to help Olivia with her questions and concerns right now.  We then went and just tracted a bunch.  Not much came from it, but in all reality, maybe a lot did.  We helped people remember our Savior Jesus Christ for just a little bit of their crazy day.  So for dinner we had been given coupons to have a free meal at the Yellow Deli.  It is run by a religious group called the Twelve Tribes.  They are super nice and also have some really good Root Beer.  If anyone has seen Atlas Shrugged, they kind of live similar to that -all living together in a community and each person contributing.  However, there are some differences too.  It is more like a way of communism and all share 3 different homes and all are required to work at the Deli.  But they are some of the nicest people ever.  Some of them even used to be Mormon.

Wednesday we went on exchanges and I went to Dayton with Elder Thwaits.  We first helped a less-active lady by reading the scriptures and helping her understand the principles it was teaching as we go.  We then tried a few people, but nothing came of it so we went tracting for a little bit.  We then went to the Seminary class and helped out with the lesson this week.  That night we had dinner and I cooked up some chicken on the stove.  It tasted great, but not until after we fanned out the smoke from the detectors.  When I say I smoked out that apartment, I smoked it out!  I walked out the front door and when I was outside I looked back in and you could see this haze of smoke throughout the whole house.  It took a lot longer than normal to clear out because their home has really high ceilings and so all the smoke was getting trapped up there.  It was pretty funny.  I didn't even burn the chicken either so I don't know what happened. 

Thursday we switched back and then we went to go get Elder Thomas his Patriarchal Blessing.  Somehow he managed to come out here without one so we went and got that done.  We later met with Jarvis and we talked about temples and family history with him.  It went well and we had a great lesson.  He also got some good news that his health issues are curable since they caught it early.

Friday we had a nice little adventure.  While on exchanges, my gear shifter broke off while the other Elder was riding it so we had to go fix it.  A member knew a good place to go and took us.  I thought I was going in for a new gear shifter, but it soon turned into a new gear shifter, new brakes (because my brake pads were completely gone and it was now medal on medal), a new pedal because one was broken, my spokes readjusted, an odometer added, and a well-lubed chain (because it had no lube on it whatsoever).  This just goes to show how much I know about keeping up my bike and how much I rode on the mission haha.  The nicest part was that all of this was given to me at a discounted rate, like WAY cheaper than normal, and then member paid for the whole thing.  I was so grateful for such nice people.  I know God will bless them for it.  I will just say, my bike now rides smoother than ever haha.  I guess that's what a bike is supposed to feel like when I ride it.  After we got back, we spent most of our day down in some ghetto part and tracted.  We found a couple potentials to go back and see.  A member came tracting with us, which is always super cool. 

Saturday the Branch Missionaries were in charge of cleaning the building so we did that in the morning.  We then went to go see a potential and taught her a little bit of the Restoration.  There were a lot of distractions during our lesson so it was a little rough.  We went tracting the rest of the time, but didn't have much luck.

Sunday we had church and then a Break The Fast dinner with the YSA. 

So this last Saturday, when we were tracting, a very nice lady came out and wasn't interested, but as we gave her a pass along card, she told us to stay handsome and beautiful and that she could see Christ through us.  That was a boost to me and made tracting a little bit better.  It made me think, if we are living our lives in harmony with the gospel and the commandments, then the light of Christ will shine brighter through us.  Never in my entire life have I ever been told, "I can see Christ through you, or you just have this spirit that radiates off of you," than on my mission.  Even though it was never mentioned to me before, I hope that it was still there back then and I hope and plan on it being there in the future.  No matter if anyone says something to us or not, we should always be living the gospel so that Christ can shine through us and others will see that.  When they do, it might spark questions like, "how are you always so happy or how do you just radiate light?"  Then that is when we can have missionary opportunities to share what we know and how they can have that same feeling.  So we all need to make the changes necessary so that others can see the light of Christ through us in this dark and evil world.  This I leave with y'all in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Tyler - Crazy YSA Mission Leader
Engels Stadium - Where Babe Ruth played and they filmed the movie "42" 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Breaking Out The Sweatshirts 10-24-16

So this week, we had to wear our sweatshirts a little.  It was windy, dark clouds covered the sky, and looked like it would rain but didn't.  However there wasn’t any sun so 67 degrees felt way colder than it really was.  We had 2 days in the 60s this week.  I do not like what is happening.  Why does it have to be cold?  Well, I guess I will just have to live with it.

Monday we went and got haircuts at a barbershop in town.  We got some interesting looks since we were the only white people in there, but we didn’t care and they did a good job.  They didn’t shave any lightning bolts or jersey numbers into the side of our heads so it’s all good.  :)  After that we just chilled until the end of the day when a YSA member came and we did some slack lining.  So that was fun. 

Tuesday we met with Dean for a little bit and tried to see when we could meet with him again.  We talked with his sister afterwards and tried to help her as well.  Some of her issues are a bit out of our league, but we did the best we could.  Later we did some finding and contacted referrals.  We then went with Bro Smith and saw some members of the branch and we even gave one of them a blessing that her foot would be healed.

Wednesday we had District Meeting and later we contacted more referrals.  We then headed to a former investigator's house and as we pulled up, she was outside yelling at some people and they were saying something about a gun.  Needless to say, it was bad timing so we left since things seemed to be in control at the time and went down the street to Jacqueline and Letia's to have a lesson with them.  As we were there, we saw cop car after cop car go down that road to that lady’s house.  We have no idea what happened, but hope everybody is OK.  We had a great lesson with the family about the importance of church.  They have a lot going on, but we are trying to help them so much.  They are still working on a date they can get baptized.  After that lesson we saw a less-active and talked about the power of the Book of Mormon.

Thursday we did some weekly planning.  We then had a lunch with a crazy less-active again.  After that we had another lesson with a guy we haven't seen in a long time.

Friday we met with Zack and went over the 10 commandments.  He is still working towards baptism, even though it is a little ways off.  We then met with Rebecca and Olivia and went more into detail of keeping the Sabbath day holy.  We then headed to see Dean again, but he was sleeping and we ended up talking to his sister again.  She had a much different presence about her than when we saw her a few days ago.  Later that night, the Sister Missionaries asked us to meet with one of their investigators named Shantez.  He has a hard time remembering the things they teach so they wanted to get our opinion on how to teach him or help him better.  It was a pretty good lesson and he remembered a lot more then we were expecting.  We talked about a lot of different things and we even taught the lady that drives him around. 

Saturday we contacted a Bible referral and we ended up talking to her for an hour.  She lives in one of the three projects in our area and it was much nicer inside then we thought.  She said she was going to come to church Sunday, but never showed up.  Then we went and did a bunch of finding and tracting.  Right before we went to dinner we were tracting and we met a lady named Margaret.  She doesn’t know much about the gospel and doesn’t have much education, but she wants to learn and said she would come to church, but never showed.  We are looking forward to teaching her though.  We then had dinner and taught the 9 yr. old girl.  It was a much better lesson than the last couple times.  It will definitely be a process and a long time before she can get baptized though.

Sunday we had the Primary program at church.  Not much else happened though.

Well that has been my week. Can't believe October is already coming to a close.  Time flies when you’re doing the Lord's work.  And there will be much more joy in the world if everyone can have faith in Jesus Christ.  So share Him with everyone.  There was a scripture I read out of the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 18 that is Jesus talking to the people and He says that because they have seen Him and know who He is, they must now share it with everyone.  If they do not keep this commandment, they will be victim to temptation.  The same goes for us.  It is a commandment to share the gospel and if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  I says these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

These Are All Over the Side of the Road - Not Sure What They Are, But They Are Sticky Inside - A Fruit Maybe?

Welcome Mat - Ha Ha

Well Done 10-17-16

So it was the start of our new transfer.  I am still here in Chattanooga and still serving with and training Elder Thomas.  So far we are still getting 80 degree weather which is super nice because who likes the cold?  Not me.  We had a pretty good week. 

Monday we went up to Hixson for our last District P-day.  On the way up there we stopped by a less-actives home and gave a blessing to his non-member wife.  Later we played some beach volleyball.  That was super fun.  We also played tag on the playground.  We still aren't too old or too big for that - haha. 

Tuesday we saw Olivia and Rebecca.  We read out of the Book of Mormon with them and helped them understand the story and what was going on.  Later we went and worked up in the North Shore area across the river.  We met a really nice lady.  She firmly believes that we were an answer to her prayers and that us showing up on her door right then was God’s way of telling her that this is the path she needs to take.  Her name is Leslie and she is the wife of an investigator we have only seen a couple times.

Wednesday we went to a less-active’s home to help her assess some damage to her house and see what needs to be done.  We later tried to contact some people in our area book.  We met with John and Adina.  We read a chapter out of the Book of Mormon with them.  They are friends of some members.  After the lesson, the members took us to eat.  After we got our fill of pulled pork sandwiches, we went to contact a referral.  This lady’s name is Pam and she is really nice.  We dropped off a Bible for her that she had requested and within a couple minutes of talking to us, she opened up and just started to cry.  We read a couple scriptures that could help comfort her in her situation and she asked us when we could come back.  We were to go back Saturday morning, but she wasn't feeling well.  We will reschedule.  That evening we met with Zack.  We went over the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson.  It was kind of a review for him.  He is going out to Logan, Utah for Fall Break to visit a friend.   We looked at the weather and it is supposed to be rainy and cold almost the whole time.  We wished him good luck.

Thursday we met with Rebecca and Olivia again and went over baptism and confirmation of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  We talked about where they were at and in the end, we asked them to pray about a date they can be baptized on.  We won't get to meet with them until Friday because it is Fall Break this week.  We came back and did some weekly planning.  That night we had a good lesson with Venita.  Our Branch Mission Leader, Bro Smith, came with us and we reviewed the Restoration.  She had some good questions and we were able to answer and clarify them.  She has some things that she will need to work out over time, but she seems like she will move forward in the gospel.

Friday we had District Meeting and we got to meet the new people in our District.  Two of the areas got whitewashed.  That means that they took both missionaries in those areas and replaced them with two new ones.  In our District, I am the second oldest in terms of being out the longest.  That is so weird to me.  After District Meeting, we went over to the Rossville area and met with a guy named Gerald.  He is a super nice guy.  Right now he is only curious about what we believe, but we are hoping that he feels the Spirit and his desires change.

Saturday we met with Yetta again.  We went over the Restoration with her.  We left her with the commitment to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  She is such a wonderful lady and it is really sad to see her in the condition she is.  Just try and imagine only skin and bones and that is what she looks like.  She can't weigh more than 80 lbs.  That night, the branch put on a fish fry.  We had a pretty good turn out and we had two investigators come.  It was at a park and there was a bunch of things to climb on at the playground and so I was over there doing a little American Ninja Warrior training.  Felt good to do something like that again. 

Sunday was an OK day.  Great that we had church, but we didn't have anyone that we are teaching come to church.  Fall Break was the excuse for the YSA, but not sure about the others.  A little disappointing but that is OK.  That is just how it goes sometimes.

So I would like to share a scripture with you guys.  It's 2 Timothy 4: 5-7, "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.  6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"

This scripture is pretty famous and one of the last things the Apostle Paul wrote.  This can also apply to us though.  We all are part of the ministry to teach others about Jesus Christ.  The two main keys are to endure to the end through everything we face and to be diligent and continue to work hard.  If we can do these things, we will be blessed and be able to say like Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."  We will have worked hard, endured to the end through all our hardships, stayed strong in our beliefs, and shared them with others.  If we can do this throughout our lives and missions, and make it to the "end", then we will be able to hear and feel the words from our loving Heavenly Father, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  Oh how glorious it will be to hear such praise from our God.  We can then know that our efforts were enough, they were cherished, and that we were able to show God how much we loved Him by feeding His sheep.  I leave these things with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Shoe Insoles Completely Destroyed - Evidence of Hard Work