Sunday, February 21, 2016

Seeing The Tear Stains On The Plates 2-15-16

So this week turned into a really good week.  We had 13 lessons this week.  Our teaching pool is starting to grow slowly, but surely.  We also froze on multiple days when we didn't have the car.  My face and fingers were numb.  It sucked when we were tracting.  The wind is the only part of it that is bad.  Other than that it was good.  We have transfer calls this Saturday so I shall see if I stay or head off somewhere else.  Transfers are next Tuesday as well.  My ponderize scripture this week was Doctrine and Covenants 84: 85 "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure upon your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man."  So while ponderizing this scripture, I obviously saw the main part of knowing what to say in the very moment, but there was something that I noticed that was a little better.  It is right in that second line about treasuring up the words of life.  The words of life are the scriptures.   When we treasure up the words of life, we not only continually read them like we are supposed to, but we memorize them.  When we memorize the scriptures, they will be on our thoughts regularly.  They can be there immediately to get rid of an evil thought.  We will constantly be rehearsing God's words to us throughout the day.  In a devotional about temptation I have heard, it talks about how Jesus, when he was tempted three times by Satan, said three scriptures to counter Satan's attacks.  He had memorized these scriptures and when evil and temptation came from Satan and he said them, Satan had no power over Him.  Satan couldn't do anything in response because he was subject to those words because he is subject to God and those are God's words.  So I have been working on not only reading and studying, but also memorizing scriptures that I can use to kill temptation when it comes.  I encourage all of you to try it as well.

Monday we didn't do too much on P-day.  We did have a great lesson though for family home evening.  We shared the "Hope of God's light" video and talked about the importance and why we need a Savior.

Tuesday we did some service on the farm in the snow with the other two sets of Elders in our district.  We are now rotating missionaries around the zone to go to Bishop's Storehouse so we don't go as often.  Later, we had a heart-breaking lesson with Devante.  He told us he wasn't interested anymore and didn't want to be baptized.  Our hearts were just breaking throughout our entire conversation.  His grandma, Sister Cousin, was so devastated.  I feel really sorry for her because she wants her whole family to come towards the gospel and yet she and her husband are the only ones.  I know though that if she has faith and keeps setting a good example, her whole family will one day be living together in the gospel.  We then had a lesson with Roger on the Word of Wisdom.  He had no problems with it really, except coffee, but he said he would give that up.  He is just awesome.  Then we saw a couple less-active members afterwards.

Wednesday we did exchanges.  Elder Ihler came here and I went to Springfield with Elder Draper.  He is from Alaska.  We had some good times.  He is pretty cool.

Thursday we tried people all day, but no luck.  We exchanged back later and then went over with our Ward Mission Leader and had a lesson with Roger.  He hasn't had coffee since our last lesson.  We went over some more commandments.  Then on the way back, we were driving on a straightaway in a convertible Jaguar.  Our Ward Mission Leader works for a Jaguar mechanic shop so he gets to drive a bunch of sweet cars to make sure they are working right or figure out the problem etc.  I will just say it has a very tiny back seat.  I had to lay across all three seats to fit and it was still snug.  Luckily it wasn't too cold tonight because he put the top down and then went from 0 to 65 in like 5 seconds.   It was so cool!

Friday we found a potential investigator during tracting and then we helped Bro. Cousin with his car for a bit.  Then we went out with Justin and contacted some referrals and one of them wants to learn more.  This family is Latino and they love soccer, which is awesome.  They were really nice too.

Saturday we had a very powerful lesson with Bro Blaylock.  We bore our testimonies multiple times and you could just feel the Spirit in the room.  We had asked him if we could reveiw the discussions with him and so we went over the restoration.  We then tracted for a long time and found 2 potential investigators.  It was cold, but luckily no wind.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day.  There was a snow warning during church so church was cancelled.  It didn't even snow really.  It was mainly just really cold rain.  We were just laughing about that for the whole day.  So because church was cancelled, we went to another church.  We went to the First United Methodist Church.  It was good.  We then did a bunch of walking, froze our butts off, and had no luck, unfortunately with anyone.

Well this week I have been listening to some talks by Hank Smith and John Bytheway.  Each of them are great funny speakers and teachers.  In these talks they share all these great scriptures and some of them I have read before and didn't notice some things the first time.  In one of the talks it says to read the scriptures so that you can see the tear stains on the plates. Another one goes through and talks about what you would do if you got to meet all of the prophets who wrote on the plates.  I have recently thought about that a lot.  I want to be able to see the tear stains on the plates and get to know these people individually and know how they felt as they went through these experiences.  My scripture studies definitely could be better.  I may not be super focused and fall asleep sometimes or whatever the case may be.  So I made a goal to change it and do better.  I have started this week to really focus in on what I'm reading.  I imagine myself right there with them going through these experiences.  I imagine myself even being them and writing these things down.  I imagine how they felt as they wrote down their feelings.  I think about how the people were, whether they were evil at this time and how sad the prophets felt for them.  Or how much happiness and peace they had because the people had it too when they were looking towards God.  Since I have started doing this while reading the scriptures, I always have a different feeling then when I read any other book.  That feeling is the Spirit, and since I have changed the way I have read my scriptures, I have felt the Spirit so much stronger as I read.  I can actually picture myself right there with them.  It is my goal and hope to be able to feel somewhat the same things that these prophets did.  I hope to be able to feel those feelings as it talks about the way their people were in such a way that I can feel like they were my people, my brothers and sisters.  I encourage each of you to look at the way you are studying your scriptures and think, "  Could I be getting more out of these things than I am?"  When I see today’s Prophets and Apostles recount a scripture reference, they tear up many times.  They have “seen the tear stains on the plates” and know who those people were and what they felt.  I know that by doing this, the Spirit will be stronger and will teach us more, and we will come to have an even greater love for God, the scriptures, and the much more.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.  Have a good week everybody.

Elder Ellison

Pre-Mission Photo With A New Caption
Steele Honey - The Best In The World!  Thanks Steele Family!

Valentine's Day Package And My New Pink Hearts Tie = LOVE

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies From Home - Yuuummm!

Farmhands At Work Again

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Go Missionary Work! 2-8-16

So this last week we had very few lessons, but most of the ones we had were good.  We added up our solid investigators during weekly planning and we have 4.  4!  Some people have dropped the lessons and we are having a hard time finding new people to teach.  It is really frustrating.  It is hard to find people who are interested in the Lord’s message and who will take the time to truly seek Him in their busy lives.  I was really frustrated towards the end of this week because we make a lot of plans, but nothing seems to go through.  Then we are just sitting there thinking, “What do we do now since all of our plans have failed?”  I have been praying really hard that soon the work will start picking up again and we will start finding a lot of new investigators.  This is just a down moment in the work and it will always pick back up over time, in the Lord's time since this is His area.  So my ponderize scripture is Genesis 39: 8-9 "But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"  So this is Joseph talking to Potiphar's wife.  I got this scripture from a talk by Hank Smith called Temptation Killers.  Through this whole thing Joseph recounts everything that he has been given by Potiphar and then instead of saying sin against Potiphar, he says against God.  I like how it starts out with “but he refused”, and then finishes with asking how can I sin against God?  This is something we should all have engraved into our hearts and minds so we can remember those very powerful words in times of temptation.  When something comes up that is evil, we can say these words in our heads immediately and then be able to turn away from it.  Satan and his followers are all around us, tempting us left and right.  We will all fall into some of these temptations, but we will fall into less of them if we think of these words.  As we read the scriptures and look towards Christ, we can jump over those holes of darkness, as well as have the strength to "rock climb" our way out of the ones we have fallen into.  Our Savior gives us the strength we need to overcome these things because He knows how we need to do it.  It comes in many different ways, but it is always there.  We just need to humble ourselves enough to ask for help as well as recognize that we need it.

Monday not much happened although we did chase a skunk.  Yes that's right, a skunk.  Maybe not the smartest thing, but we did and luckily it ran away from us and didn't spray us.  But that was the first one that I have seen that was alive and not squashed into the pavement.  So it was pretty cool.

Tuesday we worked in the Bishop’s Storehouse.  Then later we tracted into a guy named Robert.  He let us right in and we both prepared ourselves for the imminent bashing because this never happens.  But luckily nothing happened and he was a really cool guy.  He even offered to buy us pizza  while we talked, but we politely declined.  We had a great conversation and then he showed us what he did.  He took us into his back shop which now I was like, “Oh boy, we just shared all this and now he is going to just come down hard core.”  But my fears diminished as I saw what was inside the shop.  It was tons and tons of baseball bats.  He said he had over 10,000.  He sells them to companies.  It was pretty cool.  It also rained a ton that night and we got soaked head to toe.  We walked in sopping wet at the end of the night.

Wednesday we had District Meeting and after that we tried to contact a former investigator.  As we were walking on the road, some people called us over because they thought we were JW.  We were there for like 30 seconds and when we started walking away, a cop pulls up with his lights flashing.  He opened his door and asks us what was going on?  We said they just called us over and that was it.  He then went over and talked to them while we went on our way.  Not a minute later, about 7 more cops/firefighters/ambulance all showed up at this one house.  We were so curious as to what was going on that we passed by about 4 more times to see, but nothing went down as far as we know.  It was pretty crazy.  Later all of our plans fell through so we went to a Wednesday night service at Christ's Church.  They weren't too crazy and the sermon was good, just boring.

Thursday we got to work on the farm.  We mainly did inside stuff because it was a little chilly outside in the morning.  Later we taught Devante the Gospel of Jesus Christ and set a baptismal date with him.  We set it for February 20th.  It was so sweet.  Then we went right after that and taught Roger the same lesson.  It was good except he was a little tired.

Friday we went out and tried a few people with a member, but had no success.  We did have one lesson with a less-active member, but that was it.  It was a very boring evening.

Saturday we had no lessons, so nothing to report.

Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday, which I am super bummed that I couldn't watch.  Also happy 17th to my sister.  So Roger came to church today which was awesome and he is planning on coming next week too.  We then went to a Church of Christ evening service so we could avoid getting destroyed by football fans.  All of our other plans fell through again.

This week, like I said earlier, has been a little frustrating, but I know that just like on a jump, you have to go downhill first before you can spring up far beyond where you started.  I know and have faith that in the Lord's time, things will spring back up and we will have much more success.  Our investigators we have now are awesome, the frustrating part is that there are so few of them.  I know we will start seeing changes here shortly.  This is just a trial that I am having which is teaching me some things that I need to know at this time such as patience and trust.  There are many more, but those are the two big ones that I see.  This is the Lord's area, and I know that He is going to take care of it and His people.  Just like you see throughout the scriptures, the people aren't always ready at certain times, but then some start to listen.  Just remember that in your own life.  When things go down, they will always turn back up in time if you stay on the Lord’s side.  I love you all and hope you have a great week and a happy Valentine's Day Sunday.  I wonder who my valentine will be this year?  Oh yeah........ The scriptures.  Good bye y'all.

Elder Ellison

Batter Up!

Just A Lizard On My Shoulder - No Big Deal

Friday, February 19, 2016

From Cold to Hot! 2-1-16

Well this week was completely opposite of last week.  We had snow until Monday morning and then Friday through Tuesday we were in the 60s, and I am not complaining one bit.  It is really weird to think that in January and February you can have 60 degree weather.  But this week has been good and full of spiritual highs and awesome lessons.  My ponderize scripture is Alma 44:3, "But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ.  And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith."  In this moment a general, Captain Moroni, is talking to the Lamanites.  I thought of this scripture as if I would be saying it to someone, or even Satan himself, who is trying to tear down my beliefs, hopes, and faith.  My testimony, and yours, is and should be, the strongest thing we have. When we have a testimony, it is something that we know or believe is true.  It is because of this, my testimony, that no one is going to destroy my faith.  I know, especially as a missionary, that the Lord is with me and it is because of my continually growing faith in Him.

Monday we played games and emailed with the Springfield Elders.  Later that night we had dinner and Family Home Evening with the Cousins like usual.  The lesson we taught started out by having them choose someone to do anything they wanted them to.  The catch was when we read their requests out loud, we flipped it so they had to do it instead of the person they chose.  The funniest was that one of the girls wanted her cousin to feed the dog a piece of rib meat with his mouth.  Well that backfired on her major -haha.  It was hilarious!  The moral of our message was to be good examples and don't ask people to do things that you wouldn't want to do yourself.  (Mathew 5: 14-16, ye are the light of the world)

Tuesday, sadly, we only had one lesson, but it did go well.  Not much else happened except we went on an exchange with Bro Cousin, which fell through because the lady wasn't home for our appointment that night.  Darn it.  When we got back, the Cousins had made pork belly for dinner, which was pretty good.

Wednesday we didn't have too much.  We got a ride back from District Meeting with Springfield, except they had to get their brakes changed so we had to wait a bit.  Then later all of our appointments had to reschedule, which sucked.  So that was our day.

Thursday we had Zone Conference, which was the best one I have been to so far.  I definitely felt the Spirit super strong during the trainings that were given.  I learned so many things that were said and from the Spirit.  The Spirit was trying to teach me something during the Sister Training Leader's message.  They told us their topic, but it was hard for me to simplify it into a heading on my notes so I just wrote something down and didn’t think too much about it.  They then asked us to make a new note and ask the question, "What does God want me to know?"  So after that training I was just skimming over my notes I had taken that day and saw the heading that I had just thrown down.  It read, "Love makes a good leader."  (I would change that to a great leader.)  I read that and was so amazed.  It is definitely something that I have been trying to work on continually, just loving everyone.  I feel like that is what I needed to learn most of all that day - it stood out to me most of all.  Later that night we went out with Justin and had an awesome lesson with one of our newer investigators named Roger Grayson.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation.  We all bore our own testimonies throughout the lesson and I just can't wait to see how he progresses.

Friday we did weekly planning and then had a lesson with a less-active member.  We read and discussed 2 Nephi 2 which went well.  I really hope we figure out how we can best help him.  That was all we had for today.

Saturday it got up to 64.  We went out with our coats in the morning and by lunch time, we were just sweating.  We didn't use our coats the rest of the day.  Nothing happened until the evening.  We had a dinner and a lesson with the Holcombs.  We had asked her to have questions for us and she did, except we think during her research she read anti stuff because that is what her questions were mainly on.  I still haven't experienced a ton of anti, but Elder Nimmer was able to answer all the questions really well.  It definitely will help me later.  We then had another lesson with Roger.  It is awesome to see that a lot of his beliefs go right along with ours.  We had prayed earlier and felt like we could set a baptismal date with him.  So we asked him if he would be baptized on February 27.  He said he would, which is awesome!  He doesn't know 100% it's true yet, but he said the answer he got was to keep searching, which is what he is doing.  That date is the Saturday after transfers, so we shall see what happens.

Sunday we didn't have too much going on except church of course.  It was another warm day.

So even though we have a small teaching pool and aren't teaching very many lessons at the moment, we are still having great lessons with the ones we do have and the people we are teaching are awesome.  The work has grown a ton as compared to last transfer.  I believe that it is due to our desire to be more obedient.  My District Leader told me last night when I was reporting our numbers for the week, that it has gone from 0 in most of the categories to way more.  Our goal is to be teaching about 15 lessons a week by the end of the transfer.  I know we can do it through the help of the Lord and by putting our trust in Him.  We are continually striving to change, do better, be more obedient and I can see the changes that are coming over time from doing so.  I love this work and I love the Lord and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I hope you all have a wonderful week and have fun with the Super Bowl, Go Team.  I can't wait to tell you guys about the miracles next week.  Peace out y'all.

Elder Ellison

Feels Like Summer - E. Zimmer & I

I'm "Psych"-ic - I Love It!  Thanks Shalie!!!

Good Times While Getting The Brakes Fixed

Zone Conference

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow! 1-25-16

So this week was crazy. We did some major replanning and we froze our tootsies off.   We also had an amazing miracle this week that I will talk about later.  So my ponderize scripture was Doctrine and Covenants 100: 5-6 which says, "Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say." As a missionary this scripture gives me such great comfort.  All the Lord is asking me to do is go out and open my mouth and preach His gospel.  One thing that stood out to me is how it says that I need to speak the thoughts that are put onto my heart.  Usually I speak the thoughts in my head, but when I thought about this I realized that I am supposed to have these things engraved upon my heart.  I need to be speaking from my heart, not just from my mind.  When it comes from my heart, people will be able to feel my sincerity and the true meaning behind my words.  I also love this scripture because down here in the Bible Belt, we get a lot of “anti” thrown at us and run into a lot of preachers from many different churches too.  When they speak to us with their well-trained words and try to stump or confuse us, it is hard to know how to reply sometimes, but with the Lord's help, we are able to stand firm and bear testimony when needed.  In verse 7 it says that we will have the words we need if we speak in His name with meekness and solemnity in heart. This is His work and we must be humble enough for His direction and help.

Monday we didn't do too much really.  We just chilled in White House.  It is harder to make it down to Madison now that we have to switch the car on Wednesdays.  The Elders we were trading with got replaced with Sisters.

Tuesday we worked at the Bishop's Storehouse for most of the day.  Then we went tracting.  We had a fun dinner with a family as Elder Nimmer and they recounted hilarious experiences from when he was here in this same ward earlier in his mission.  Tonight we are supposed to get a huge snowstorm overnight of about 1" of snow.  People were freaking out down here  -haha. That's nothing!

Wednesday we had a Worldwide Missionary Devotional from some of the General Authorities.  It was really good.  One thing that stood out to me the most was Elder Dallin H. Oak's comment about how we need to pray for help during our mission so that we may be able to fulfill everything we were supposed to and not have any regrets at the end.  That is something that I definitely want to make sure doesn't happen for me.  I know it won't if I make sure to work hard everyday.  Later that day we got “antied” during tracting.  So that was fun.  It was worth it though because just a couple doors down we had an awesome Restoration lesson at a doorstep with a guy.  He seemed pretty interested so we are hoping to be able see him more.  We did get a snow storm, but it was just a little “dusting”.  Also, I finally get to start driving. YES!!!

Thursday was an OK day, but the night got way better.  We tracted for 2 hours and didn’t have any luck the whole time.  We got into a slight bash, very minor, with a preacher.  None of his comments made any sense.  Later that night though, we experienced a “miracle.”  We were contacting some people and when we were done, we still had 2 hours to fill.  As we started heading to the store, since we had ran out of food, a family’s name came to my mind.  We stopped by on our way and they were finally home (we had tried multiple times before).  We went in and were making small talk, just trying to get to know them.  We ended up talking with the dad alone for a while and he shared his whole story with us about the church and some questions that he has had.  95% of the talking was him, and we mainly just listened.  The Spirit was definitely there while we talked.  He told us that while we talked, some of his questions, after 12 years of searching, had finally been answered.  We didn't do anything really except say a few things here and there.  It just clicked for him and we knew that it was the Spirit teaching him.  He told us that he has never talked with missionaries like this before and that he was finally more receptive.  Towards the end, his teenage son was there and he asked him if he wanted to come to church this Sunday.  It was so cool to see the Spirit touch this guy and help him through his questions.  Afterwards, we were lucky enough to get to the store for some food because of what was to come....

Friday we had an actual, major storm.  Our area was hit the hardest.  We had ice in the early morning, but then for the rest of the day, we had a full-blown snowstorm.  At about 9:45am it was at 8" and by the end, it had gotten up to a foot.  We were told to stay inside and only walk to people who were close by.  Luckily we had the Cousin family nearby, so we went over and had a lesson and dinner with them.  So that was our day.

Saturday we couldn't drive due to the amount of snow so we walked.  We taught a guy we had tracted into and had a great lesson with him.  The questions he had and things he shared with us were exactly what we were there to teach him about.  We went tracting afterwards and during that, some guys were riding their ATVs on the icy roads and doing cookies.  A news channel came and interviewed one of them so we walked right behind him as the camera was filming.  People will see us missionaries on the news now - haha.  It was hard not to look or smile or whatever, to be noticeable.  We wanted them to interview us so we could tell all of Nashville of our wonderful message :).  We then had dinner and a lesson with the Holcombs, a part-member family.  We talked about the blessings that come from the temple. We think that lesson may get her to start thinking about it a little more.

Church was cancelled Sunday because of the snow.  It finally started melting a little and we were able to drive the car today, very carefully of course.  We just tried contacting people the whole day, but had no luck.  We did have to come in a bit early and park the car because the roads were getting pretty icy.  Mom don't freak out, I am fine and safe -haha.

So that was my crazy week.  The huge storm definitely made it feel more like home.  It was pretty funny because we wanted to help people shovel their driveways, but we didn't have shovels and everyone out here either has 1 cheap one or nothing.  The snow helped us – we knew people were home if there were no tire tracks in their driveway.  I definitely soaked my feet and froze them walking in it all day though.  But my week was good and I have no complaints.  Hope y'all had a good week as well and I look forward to writing you next week.

Elder Ellison
Snow - Yes!

8 Inches - Later It Got Up To 11 Inches

Bad Idea!

Snow Soccer

A Little Snow Won't Stop Us!