Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Reporting Live From Knoxville, TN 6-6-16

I will start by putting an end to your confusion as to why my heading says Knoxville and not Nashville.  I found out on Thursday that the Cookeville Stake, of which I am currently serving in, is leaving our mission to join the Knoxville Mission. This will give the Knoxville Mission 6 stakes within its boundaries so it can qualify for a temple eventually.  The catch though, kind of, is that all of the missionaries currently serving in that Stake will be moving missions as well.  I will no longer be serving in the Tennessee Nashville Mission.  I will now be serving in the Tennessee Knoxville Mission, or for my case, the Tennessee Mission.  This will come into effect June 15.  It is a sacrifice on our part to leave our mission and our friends in it, but it is all part of “hastening the work” of our Lord.  The reason they are doing this now is to coincide with the transition of the new Nashville mission president.  Nashville Mission’s new president will start the beginning of July so they are moving us a week or two before that.  So that was some big news for us.  I will now be going more eastward, switching time zones by an hour, and will have the chance to serve in North Carolina and Virginia, on top of Kentucky and Georgia.  It is going to be an interesting adventure.  So other than that big news, my week was fairly normal, except for a few awesome things.

Monday we went fishing.  I almost dragged in a 10lb+ catfish.  I reeled him in all the way to the bank and then he broke my hook off.  It was huge!  Then later we finally got to see Emily after about a month of trying.  We taught her some of the commandments and the cool part was that she is already halfway through the Book of Mormon for her second time.  She is marking her favorite scriptures too.  It was awesome!  She even went to Girl’s Camp this week too.  I also found out last week that Roger finally got baptized on Saturday.  I am so pumped for him.

Tuesday we helped at the Food Bank like normal.  Then we saw Jim and while we were talking, Elder Christensen felt prompted to tell him that he could receive an answer to his 4 year-long question this week. We don’t know what it is, but we know he can receive an answer.  We made sure he understood that it would only happen if he had faith, with no doubt and that he would need to have a desire to act on whatever the answer will be.  We shall see Tuesday if he ever got his answer – I hope he does.  Later, we had a lesson with Frankie.  We went over the Baptismal Interview questions with him and talked about each one to make sure he understands it. We also reset a date for him to be baptized on June 24.

Wednesday we helped the Smiths stack hay bales. That was fun because it was like being back on the farm.  We then drove up to the Kentucky border since it was 2 miles from where we were at.  I unfortunately didn't get any pictures though.

Thursday we had Zone Meeting and interviews.  So some awesome things happened in addition to us changing missions.  I first had an interview with Sister Andersen, while my companion was with President.  She is super awesome and has a huge, strong testimony.  Then I had an awesome interview with President.  I had written down a couple questions that I wanted to ask him.  One piece of advice he gave me was that as I continue on my journey to get to know the Savior, I should pick one of the gospels that talks about His mortal ministry and get to know who He was, what He did, and how He did it.  So that is something I will be starting to do and I encourage each of you to do the same.  It truly is important that we get to know our Savior and who He is.  Then later, we were at the Book of Mormon study class and we got a call.  The girl on the other end tells us her life story and how she was given a Book of Mormon and once she started reading it, she never put it down.  We were pretty pumped.  We haven't met her yet, but hopefully we can this week.

Friday not much happened worth mentioning.

Saturday was another day of nothing worth mentioning.

Sunday we had church and later that night was awesome.  We got to go to a live concert in Sparta with the Nashville Tribute Band as they sang from their newest album, Redeemer.  It is worth checking out.  So before the concert, they asked all the missionaries to go to this room where we got to meet the band and talk with them.  We also said a prayer with them and took some photos.  I was able to see a member from my last area who is their manager.  So that was cool.  The concert was pretty good too.  The Spirit is so much stronger live than off the CD even.  It was an awesome experience.  My companion knows half of them from other areas so I was able to talk with them a little more than most people.  They are super cool.

So that was my week.  I want to add my testimony to the message shared at the concert we had this evening.  I know that Christ lives and is coming again.  I know that He is our exemplar and that if we do as He asks and as He did, then our lives will be so much more.  We are trying each day to be our best and we should be trying our best to be what the Savior would want us to be.  He is our Redeemer and Savior and I love Him so much.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Doing a Little Bee Keeping Out Here
Dinner With Bowling

Last Meeting With The Andersons

Saying Goodbye to Nashville Mission

Last Nashville Zone Conference

Nashville Tribute Band Concert

"Hallelujah" by Us and Cloverton

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Idaho Power!!! 5-30-16

Well this week has been fairly slow.  Usually that's how most of the first week of transfers start.  It was blazing hot though.  Friday I remember it being so humid that I was sweating just standing there.  It was crazy.  Tuesday I got Elder Christensen.  He is from Idaho Falls.  He has been out one transfer longer than me.  He is pretty cool and we have a lot of similar interests.  He wants to be a Chiropractor as his career which is cool since I've been thinking about that too.  He likes sports too and some other things.

Monday was P-day and we went and said goodbye to some people for Elder Smith.

Tuesday was transfers.  We got a nice pancake breakfast from Brother Miller before we left.  Then that took up most of the day since it is a 3 hour drive just to Nashville.

Wednesday we had District Meeting.  On the way back we had an hour added onto our drive because of traffic.  We then helped the Millers out.

Thursday we did some contacting and had a couple lessons.  That was about it though.

Friday we did some service for a couple people.  We did some weekly planning and then later we drove about half an hour away to visit a less-active family.  Their 9 yr. old girl wants to get baptized too.

Saturday we visited some less-actives.  Then we went and helped the Hodgsons build an electric fence for their horse.  I only got one small tick on my knee.  It looked like a freckle -haha.  Luckily it hadn't buried in yet when I found it.  We also found 2 turtles, alive, and a king snake skin, but no snake.  Darn it.

Sunday not too much happened.  We finally saw the Ramirezes.  Frankie wasn't there though.  He didn't get baptized because we couldn't meet with him to finish teaching him everything we needed to.  So we are going to have to reschedule.

Well this week wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't horrible either.  There are things throughout each day, that can brighten it up.  It's the little things that we should notice each day that we should be grateful for.  It's that time where we should smile at least once a day.  So take time each day to be grateful for something and let your Father in Heaven know.  Also look for something through each day that will put a smile on your face and make at least one moment, a great one.  Even if that means you take a moment to go read a joke or watch a comedian or remember a funny moment in your life.  As the world is growing darker, whether that's in terms of spirituality or whatever, we need more light and that light is happiness.  That's our goal and what our Heavenly Father wants is for us to be happy and be happy forever.  I hope you all can find joy in your life, even in the hard times, and make your life GREAT!  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

I was thinking turtle burgers. Any one else agree?

🎶They see us Rollin, they hatin.🎶
This is a Dulcimer - Name that tune?

It Comes To An End 5-23-16

So the end of this transfer is here upon us again.  Elder Smith is being banished to Illinois to be with my mission brother Elder Andrus.  I will be staying here and receiving Elder Christiansen who is coming from the other Illinois area.  It was a good transfer and it sucks that things like this have to end, but there is always something new and exciting just around the corner.  This last week was a bit chilly because it rained a ton and more is still to come.  But we aren't getting nearly as much as the people in Texas.

Monday we didn't do too much.  At night we went to the United First Methodist church in town because they were having a revival.  It wasn't too exciting so we left early.

Tuesday we started out at the Food Bank as usual.  Then we went on exchanges with our Zone Leaders.  The reason for it was because we were not getting the amount of lessons they were hoping for the week.  So I went down to Cookeville with Elder Adams.  We tried contacting a lot of former investigators.  That is basically what we did all day.

Wednesday we exchanged back at District Meeting.  We later went and saw Frankie.  We gave him a children's Book of Mormon to help him with his reading.  That way he will be ready when his baptism comes.  We have it scheduled for this week, but we may have to push it back a week because we will be cramming to get everything in.  We then went and helped some members at their inn.  They then fed us dinner.

Thursday not too much happened today other than we had dinner with an investigator.

Friday we weekly planned which is always fun.  Not.  Later that day we had dinner with Skott and had an awesome lesson with him.  He has a couple things he needs to do on his part and then he will be baptized, no doubt about it.

Saturday we had apartment inspections.  We passed with mostly flying colors -haha.  Just a few minor things.  Then we got our transfer calls.  That was about it for today other than Elder Smith wanted to start saying goodbye to some people.

Sunday I gave a talk in church as I mentioned last week.  It was on "What does it mean to bear testimony?" As my conclusion to this blog post I will copy it onto here.  I think and hope it went well.  Then we said goodbye to a few more people and that was our day.

So here is my talk:

So what does it mean to bear testimony? I'm sure each of us will have a thought or opinion on what they think it means to them individually.  In a talk by Elder John K. Carmack of the Seventy, he answers this question for us.  He says, "What does it mean to bear testimony? A testimony is an open declaration or confession of one’s faith.  To bear is to give or bring forward.  So as I bear testimony, I am giving a declaration of my faith.  Most of you would gladly bear testimony if called upon.  I wish we could yield a minute to each one of you.  The real power of the Church is not financial or political, but the quiet testimonies of it’s members.”  For him, it is declaring your faith that you have either come to know or something that you believe in.  Now even if you may not know something, believing is still a key part.   Elder Holland said, "belief is a precious word, an even more precious act..."  We must believe something to be true before we can know it is.   Once we have these two key components of our faith, then we can share it with others.

Now we all may have a testimony, but what is it that we can do to strengthen it, make it grow?  Well, in True To The Faith under testimony it says two things, "Your testimony will increase as you share it.  Do not wait for your testimony to be fully developed before you share it.  Part of a testimony’s development comes when it is shared.  In fact, you will find that when you give what you have of your testimony, it will be returned to you--with increase. 

Testimony Bearing
“In Fast and Testimony Meetings and in conversations you have with family members and friends, you may feel prompted to share your testimony.  In such instances, remember that you do not need to share a long, impressive discourse.  Your testimony will be most powerful when it is expressed as a brief, heartfelt conviction about the Savior, His teachings, and the Restoration.  Pray for guidance, and the Spirit will help you know how to express the feelings in your heart.  You will find great joy as you help others share in the hope and assurance the Lord has given you."  So how do we help our testimonies, and I would add faith, grow and strengthen?  We must act upon it and share it.  President Hinkley used the analogy that if his arm was in a sling, his arm would become weak.  But if he uses it regularly, then the muscles in his arm will grow and develop.  In 2 Timothy 1:8 it says, "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord...: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;"  In Moroni 1:3 he tells us, "And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ;"  Don't be afraid or ashamed of your testimony because it isn't good enough, it's not big enough or strong enough.  True to the Faith tells us not to wait.  Your testimony, no matter where it is at in the stages of development, is good enough.  By sharing it, it only enhances your development. Be like Moroni, steadfast and immovable in the fact that I will not deny the Christ.  Christ told us to follow him.  Doesn't that mean in all aspects?  He bore testimony numerous times, so why don't we do the same?

Throughout my mission my testimony on testimonies has grown.  When I was back home, I didn't bear my testimony as much as I should have.  As a missionary I bear my testimony A LOT!  Back when I was in 7th grade, I had a friend that I would not have even thought would be interested in the church.  One day we were on our way home on the bus and we got on the topic of church.  Another friend of mine in my ward was there as well and we were able to share a few of our beliefs with him and then we invited him to come to church, just to check it out.  He said yes, to my amazement.  He started coming after his first visit almost every week.  That experience was probably my first true missionary moment.  It was really cool to see that even though I thought he probably wasn’t even close to being interested, he was.  You never know who it will be or when.  If we invite someone that we think will probably say no, we don't know how it could turn out. They very well could say no, and that is ok.  Or, they could be like my friend and surprise us and say yes.  A testimony is truly a precious gift that our Father in Heaven has given us to have.  A testimony is our greatest tool.  It, along with our faith, is something that no one can take away.  When you bear your testimony, no one can deny it or argue with you because it is your belief and eventually is something that you know.  In Preach My Gospel there is a quote from President Monson that says, "Regarding one’s testimony, remember, that which one willingly shares he keeps, while that which he selfishly keeps he loses..."  So don't keep your testimony to yourself and hide it, but let it shine forth to all who see you.  Preach My Gospel also says that sharing your testimony often is the most powerful way to invite the Spirit and help others to feel of it as well.

Your testimony is yours and it should be something that we WANT to share with everybody.  Now as a missionary, we commit people to doing things and so I want to commit each of us to make a more conscious effort to find places where you can bear your simple, but powerful testimony.  It should be fairly easy for us to find opportunities to bear our testimony because we are in the South.  I have heard numerous times of people being asked, “What church do you go to?”  Right there is a perfect time to share with them our testimonies.  Elder Holland tells us in Preach My Gospel as well that when we are talking with other people, something they say will always highlight a principle of the gospel to which we can bear our testimony.  I know that this is God's work here on the earth and that it is hastening.  There are many of our brothers and sisters who are lost or searching for the truth and it is our job as members of this church to help them and find them.  To share what we know is true and can bless their lives.  We have been asked to share it and Wlder Eyring even says it is a covenant that we have made to share it.  I know that as we reach out willingly and with a true desire, we will be blessed in our efforts and we will find our brothers and sisters who the Lord has prepared for this amazing gospel.

I know this gospel has been restored in it’s fullness and that we have all of the parts of Christ's church.  I know we are directed by a loving prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and by the 12 Apostles who love us dearly and care for us.  I know these things because I have prayed and searched, and because of that, I have had a confirmation from the Spirit, that warm feeling, to know that this is true.  I am so grateful to be out here serving a mission.  I am grateful for this chance I have to serve with all of you at this time.  I close my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Ellison

Boo Hoo!

Just Your Average District Photo

Peanut Butter Energy Bites From Home - Yum!

I Feel Revived! 5-16-16

So this week was pretty good.  We had more lessons this week than normal, so that was good.  I also can't believe this transfer is almost over already.  We only have one more week.  We find out on Saturday what will be happening for our next 6 weeks.  I will let you all know what happens next week.

Monday was P-day.  We went fishing.  We caught and released a ton of blue gill.  The highlight was being able to Skype home.  I got to do it the day after Mother's Day because my parents were flying home from a vacation trip.  It was really fun to be able to see my family again.  I was lucky enough to have a bonus family member there.  My grandma was there watching my siblings while my parents were gone.  So it was really cool.

Tuesday we helped at the Food Bank.  Then we had 3 lunches.  We were so stuffed!  Our last lunch we ate a ton and right after that, we had to move a couple couches and stuff.  I felt like I was going to puke just a little, a couple times.

Wednesday we drove to District Meeting and there was a big downpour and we were going 85 on the freeway.   A member was driving and you could barely see the semi that was right next to us.  It was pretty sketchy, but we survived.  Later we had a lesson with Adam.  We finished the Plan of Salvation with him.

Thursday was OK, but got better in the end.  We set a baptism date with Frankie for May 28 so we are planning for that.  Later we went to the Canaan Independent Baptist church.  They had dinner and a service.  This wasn't a normal one.  It was a “revival.”  Their main preacher ran down the aisle at one point.  They then had a guest preacher from Georgia too.  There was a little “anti” towards us.  They would look straight at us sometimes when they would say certain things.  Afterwards, we were getting into the car and the guest preacher came out and stopped us and told us he was grateful we came and then it turned in to a half hour bashing session.  We were able to shut down the things he said and sometimes we would ask him something or tell him something that he would just push aside because he didn't have an answer for us.  The best part was Elder Smith and I were unified during the whole situation, we backed and supported each other throughout the whole thing.  When we testified multiple times throughout our discussion, he would get shifty instead of his usual “try to look straight into your soul” gaze.   He couldn't respond to us bearing our testimonies of what we know to be true.  Towards the end, we ended again with our testimonies.  I told him, "We will believe what we believe and you can believe what you believe, but I will say, I have prayed about it and I KNOW it is true and there is nothing that will shake me from that."  Our testimonies silenced him once again and then we departed.

Friday we weekly planned.  We then went and helped Bro Miller plant some corn.  Later we visited a couple less active members.  We had some time and the preacher had invited us to come again for their last night and so, we went.  We were expecting a ton of “anti” because of our discussion the night before.  We still got “anti,” but definitely not as much as there would have been if we weren't there I think.  After the service, the preacher only said, “Thank you for coming” to us.  He didn't attempt to try and "convert" us again.

Saturday we helped Bro Flake cut up the rest of his tree.  Then we went and had dinner and saw some less-actives in a farther out part of our area.  We were in the Eastern time zone for most of the afternoon.

Sunday we had church.  Which was good, obviously.  We tried to see some people, but not much happened.

So from our experience Thursday evening, I saw that when you are testifying of something you know to be true because you have found out for yourself, there is nothing anyone can do to say your wrong.  What you KNOW to be true, is something that is special to you.  Everything can be taken from you at this very moment and yet, there are two things for sure that no one can take from you; your faith and your testimony.  When you share your testimony, your faith grows.  When you share your testimony with faith, it strengthens others and they can feel of that same Spirit of truth that you felt when you came to know of these things.  It is kind of ironic that I am talking on testimony because I was asked to speak next Sunday on "what does it mean to bear testimony?"  I may talk about it next week as well, but we shall see what comes to my mind as to what I should write.  All I can invite you to do is SHARE YOUR TESTIMONY!  It is a wonderful thing and in this day and age, the world NEEDS it more than ever.  Every testimony that is shared, helps.  Have a great week everyone.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

The Irrigation Boots Are Back!   Planting Corn
P-Day Fishing - Lots of Bluegill

A Little Chilly 5-9-16

Well we had a couple days this week that were all the way down in the low 50s, high 40s.  It was crazy.  I didn't think I would be wearing a sweatshirt again until next October.  Other than that we had a decent week.  I am super bummed and may or may not have shed a couple tears Friday when the Captain America movie came out, but I will manage somehow.

Monday not much happened except for a huge thunderstorm.

Tuesday we did exchanges and our District Leader, Elder Cushing, came to Jamestown with me.  Elder Smith went down to Cookville.  Elder Cushing is a Spanish speaking Elder.  We did a lot of tracting because our plans fell through, unfortunately.  We were able to share our message with a few people, but no one was really interested.  We knocked on one door and the guy, I don't think he heard the knock, came out and said to us, "Gosh dang it. Get the %*# out of here.  I hate Mormons!"  So that was pretty funny actually.  He kept watching us whenever we were by his house -haha.  I want to know what happened to him to make him hate Mormons.  Anyways, later we had a lesson with Frankie and shared the Plan of Salvation with him.  We also invited him to be baptized.  We are going to set a date in our next lesson.

Wednesday we exchanged back after District Meeting.  We then had a lesson with a recent convert who is 9 years old.  The lesson had the Spirit at the beginning and then it was driven away right after the prayer when the kids got a little crazy in the house.

Thursday we helped the Turtons with their trees that had been cut down.  We also had a lesson with Sister Kennamore.  She wants to get back into the church, but she has one crazy life right now.  She also has the mindset that people are plotting against her so that is why she can't come back to church.  The good thing is that she is determined to come back when she can.  She will also have to be rebaptized, that's why we are teaching her.

Friday we did some more service with the trees.  Not much else happened though afterwards.

Saturday we changed the Turton's car tire because it got a flat after an accident Bro Turton was in.  He is ok. Not too much damage to the car I don’t think.  I guess one of those lifted trucks came and one of it’s tires just rode up onto the car then slid off the side and bent the rim.  Later we tried contacting a couple people, but no luck.  Then we went and helped Bro Miller with his chickens and gardening.  It's nice being able to do a little farm work again.  I even got to lift a hay bale this week.

Sunday was good. I didn't Skype home because my parents were traveling home on planes from a vacation, so I will get to talk to them tomorrow.  That was my week.

I was looking through some of my saved scriptures today during church and two of them stood out to me.  The first is Moroni 1:3, "And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life." This is a “insert my own name” scripture.  The second is 2 Timothy 1:8, "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;"  I thought about both of these scriptures.  Timothy is telling me to not be ashamed of my testimony of Christ, and Moroni says that I will not deny the Christ.  I just want to add my testimony, as I am not and never will be ashamed of it, that Jesus is the Christ.  I know He lives.  There is nothing that will make me deny it. even if it is life or death.  Even if I died because of my testimony, I know that it is through Christ that I will live again.  My testimony may be small and simple, but this is it:  I know He loves me and knows who I am.  I can't wait for the day to come when I will get to lay my eyes upon His face and be able to tell Him face to face, thank you.  I know these things are true and I ask each of you who will read this to never be ashamed of your testimony.  Be proud that you know Christ lives and is your Savior. Share it with everyone.  I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

A Slow Week 5-2-16

Well this week was pretty slow. The highlight of the week was our Zone Conference.  We also had a couple thunderstorms.  They are not like back home.  Both Elder Smith and I woke up in the middle of the night to the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard.  It sounded like a gun shot, but louder.  It was crazy.  So my ponderize scripture this week was Ether 6: 3, "And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness." These lights in our life are the scriptures, church, the prophets and apostles, and any other good thing.  We have these things so we don't cross the great waters, life, in darkness.  They light up our path so that we can see where we are going and see where the finish line is.  We should take advantage of this blessing to have these lights in our lives so that we are never lost.

Monday we did a little service, but not much else.

Tuesday we helped out at the Food Bank again.  Then we had a lesson with Jim.  We mainly talked about food storage.  We also talked about finding our answers through prayer.  He is starting to understand that, but the only problem that we see is that he wants his answer given to him and won't take action.  You may have the faith when you pray, but you will rarely get an answer unless you have done your part in figuring out what you think the answer is first, then asking and acting upon the prompting you receive.  I realized during one of our lessons with him that we may not be getting our answers because we are afraid of what the answer might be.  We may get an answer, but because it may not be the one we want, we won't follow through and act upon it. Until we truly have that desire, we won't receive our answers.  Faith means to act.

Wednesday we didn't do too much.  It was a slow day.

Thursday we drove all the way down to Smyrna.  It was a 2 1/2 hour drive.  We had to spend 240 miles to get there and back.  It was our last Zone Conference with President and Sister Andersen.  It was really good.  The trainings were awesome too.  I definitely have some things to improve on.  Where I felt the Spirit the most was in the testimonies of all the missionaries that would be going home this transfer or the next.  They concluded with the Andersen’s.  It was just an awesome way to conclude that Zone Conference.  I found out, because my old zone was there too, that Roger had a date set for Saturday, but he left town again so they are having to push it back some more.  It was good seeing some old friends again.  That was our day.  I don't have any of the pictures from it yet, but I hope to get them soon.

Friday not much happened.  We had a lesson with a 9 yr. old boy who will probably be baptized in a little bit.  He is an unbaptized son of a member.

Saturday we had Stake Conference.  It was on faith.  It was really good.

Sunday we had Stake Conference again and our stake got spilt.  We are now the Cookville Stake.  Then later we had a lesson with a recent convert.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation.  It was a pretty good lesson.

Well this transfer is just flying by.  I also can't believe that the month of April has come and gone.  Well not much for me to say right now so I hope you all have a great next week.  Talk to y'all next week. 

Elder Ellison

Some one needed CPR while getting ticks pulled off. It was a matter of life or death. We almost lost him -haha.

E. Smith & I Returning From Zone Conference