Monday, August 22, 2016

Last Week of July 8-1-16

We have had some crazy stuff going around here lately.  We just found out that my companion, Elder Porter, is getting an Emergency Transfer.  The reason being is because we cover a Young Single Adult branch and since he has been here awhile, he has started to flirt with some of the girls.  It was getting out of hand so I told the Mission President about it and he is moving E. Porter out.  I'm just kidding.  He is getting moved out, but that is not the reason.  An Elder in a different area is going home early and so E. Porter is going to take his place.  I will not be getting another companion in this area until the next transfer.  I am getting put in a trio with the Zone Leaders and we will be covering two areas.  Sound familiar?  Yep, I get to do it again haha.  So we will make the switch Tuesday morning - should be an interesting 4 weeks.  Other than that, not much is going on. Lucky for me it wasn't as hot this last week and it even rained a little, which cooled things off occasionally.

Monday we had P-day and we just played a bunch of games with the other missionaries.  Later we went tracting and found a couple potential investigators.

Tuesday we tracted in the morning and talked to a lady named Dorris.  She seemed pretty interested and so we left her with a pamphlet and set up a return appointment.  We then went and found a referral who is not active.  Her mom referred us to go over there and give her a blessing.  We had a pretty good discussion with her too.  Later we contacted another referral named Travis.  We shared the Restoration with him.  The cool thing was that he called us and asked when we were coming over.  So that was pretty good.  We then went and saw some less-active members that were nearby.

Wednesday we had District Meeting.  Then we did some tracting later.  We helped a sister in the Branch move later that evening and one of our investigators was there helping too, which was cool.  It was super hot that day so we were all dripping sweat by the end.

Thursday we visited a couple investigators, but nothing happened so we tracted for a while.  While tracting a lady, pretty sure she was drunk, came up to us and said, "I know those are your bikes down there.  Are they?  I need to have one.  Can you give me one?"  We told her that we couldn't do that and our church won't allow us to either.  Then she said, "Well, where is your church so I can go get a bike?"  We told her the general location of, "it's downtown."  She then told us that she was going to go over there and get a bike.  So that was an experience.  It is almost like the cruise I went on down here because I have seen numerous people drinking alcohol at 10 in the morning.  It's crazy!  Well anyways, later we had a dinner with a member family and there was an investigator there.  We had an awesome discussion on the Book of Mormon.  He has been reading and taking notes on the Book of Mormon all on his own.  It is awesome!

Friday we weekly planned.  Then later we met with Dorris again.  She read some of the pamphlet and we shared a little more of the Restoration.  We talked about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  She had a question about where we go after this life.  So we gave her Alma 40 to read to answer that question.  We then went out with a member and were only able to visit one less-active family.  Everyone we tried either wasn't home or had decided they weren't interested anymore.  Well that's the mission life.  That night I had the opportunity to call some of the missionaries in the Nashville mission, which was cool.  I didn't know the missionary personally, but we had an investigator call us and tell us he wanted to learn more about the church.  He wanted the missionaries to be there as soon as possible, but he is in their area so we referred him to them.

Saturday we went out with a member and we just tried to find a lot of less-active members on his home teaching list.  We tried some of our investigators also, but unfortunately nothing happened.  We then visited some less-active members and had a good discussion with them.  It was kind of needed, not only for them, but a little bit for us too.  Later we had a lesson with a guy named Tyrell.  We were going to share the Restoration message, but as we started, he shared some of his story.  The whole time I was just thinking, "Give him the Book of Mormon to read."  So we talked and then gave him one.  So that was pretty good.

Sunday we had church all day again.  I gave a talk in the YSA branch.  It was on Elder Bednar's talk last conference about always retaining a remission of your sins.  It went well.  After church we went out with a member to some of our appointments.  They weren't available at the time.  So, because it was a teenage boy that took us, we went tracting with him.  No success that day though.

So this last week we showed a lot of people a 2 minute video of President Monson talking on gratitude.  In it he says that we should always pray and express our gratitude, and when we do so, it helps us to see even more blessings in our lives than usual.  We always focus on the bigger blessings, but do we notice the small ones as much?  There was a girl in my seminary class one time that said she would write down 3 blessings a night.  She noticed after a couple months of doing so, that she was thinking of things that she never thought she would think to be a blessing.  We have things in our lives that we take for granted.  We have so many blessings in our lives because our Heavenly Father loves us so much and wants to bless us.  We should all work on being more genuine in our prayers to our Heavenly Father and expressing exactly what we are thankful for in our lives.  When He sees that we truly are grateful for the things we have been given, He will bless us with more.  I know these things to be true and that gratitude is an amazing gift we all can feel.  I close these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Chattanooga Central District

Chattanooga Apartment Tour

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Chattanooga Sauna 7-25-16

So imagine that you are in this really nice sauna.  The temperature and steam is perfect.  You are just dripping buckets of sweat over your whole body.  It just feels wonderful and amazing.  Now add in a cycling machine and that is what it feels like all day long here.  I carry like four water bottles that have been frozen overnight.  Our area is downtown Chattanooga.  It's not as nice as I was thinking, but it's my first area in a bigger city and not in the sticks.  We don't have a car either.  We bike everywhere and sometimes ride the city bus.  We cover two branches.  One is a regular branch.  The other is a YSA branch.  So I found out that all of my mail and packages should go to the mission office first so they can send them to exactly where I am just in case of transfers, emergency transfers, etc.  The address is 11320 Station West Drive Suite #101, Farragut, TN 37934.

Monday was my last P-day in Jamestown.  When we received the transfer calls, I was surprised that I was leaving because everyone thought that Elder Christensen would go first.  So in order to save miles for them, we stayed in Jamestown and just played ball at the church.

Tuesday was my last day working at the Jamestown Food Bank so I was able to say goodbye to them. Afterwards, we went and visited a few people so I could say goodbye and get some pictures.  I wish I had more miles and time to go see a couple more, but I was able to call the ones I missed.  Went and did service at the theater that night for the last time too.

Wednesday, Jimmy took us down to Knoxville in the morning.  We took a Cookeville/Nashville missionary picture for our last one altogether.  Then we got together with our new companions and took off.  Elder Porter and I had a 2 hour drive down to Chattanooga.  He has been out for 4 1/2 months and is my first companion that has been out less time than me.  He is from Gilbert, AZ and is pretty cool.  To me he looks a lot like Tanner Ririe.  So for my first day, I had some time to unpack for a bit and then we went out with a member.  We had a couple of lessons that were pretty good then we got some dinner at Krystal's.  I am going to do my absolute best NEVER to go there again.  The food was nasty and I woke up in the middle of the night and almost threw it all up.  It was so bad!  I felt so sick to my stomach all morning until I could finally eat some breakfast.  I felt so much better after that.

Thursday we did some weekly planning.  Then we went tracting almost all day.  We didn't find very many people that were interested unfortunately.  In this area I was told that it is like a new investigator gold mine. We get new investigators at least once a day, which is awesome.  Latter we went out with our Ward Mission Leader to do some Home Teaching.  We also gave a lady (who is a sister of a member) a blessing of comfort. She was going to be flying to Indonesia that next day for her son’s wedding.

Friday I was able to meet our District at District Meeting.  Afterwards we went on the bus to a place where we helped some people move in furniture for some refugees.  We then went out with another member, but didn’t have any luck finding people home.  We went tracting after that.  We found a few potential investigators that we are going to see again.  Then we had a dinner appointment with a member.  We have a new rule where we try to have a non-member, less active, or recent convert at all meal appointments.  We didn't have anyone so we decided to try and find someone.  We went over and to a less-active family’s home. They had already eaten dinner, but said they would still come with us for dessert.  It was cool to see that we were blessed by obeying a rule that could be pretty easy to just push aside.

Saturday we had an investigator come get a tour of our church building.  He came earlier than expected, but there was a member there who knew who he was and was able to give him the tour.  Later we went and had a lesson with a roommate of one of our potential investigators.  It was a pretty good lesson on the Restoration. We tried to catch a couple people at home and got soaked at one point because it rained as we were riding our bikes.  It only rained for the short time we were on our bikes.  That was fun.  I can't complain though since I prayed for rain so that it would cool things off a bit -haha.  God definitely answers prayers.  We dried off quickly and later went tracting.  We tracted for about 4 hours so we could reach our goal of 14 “finding” hours.  We didn't have much success, but we were able to help out these girls we talked to.  They weren't interested in our message, but we asked if we could do anything for them and one was like, "Yeah. Hold on." She came back with a weed eater and a mower so we quickly mowed their front yard.  It was fun.

Sunday we had CHURCH!  Because we cover two branches, we go to both services on Sunday.  We go to the family Branch first at 9 a.m. and then we go to YSA at 1 p.m.  We don't have any time to eat in between so I was starving by the end.  It was really cool though - normally it is hard to get people to make it to church, but we had 2 investigators say they were going to come and they actually did.  We had arranged rides for both of them and it all worked out great.  Later I had the "fun" opportunity of collecting numbers from my District.  Then we got a call from some sisters in the North Carolina, Charlotte Mission.  A member in their ward told them to send missionaries over to her daughter’s home to give her a blessing.  We will hopefully be able to see her this week.  Her mom is hoping that something like this will help her daughter start coming back to church.

This week I was thinking about member missionary work.  Even some of our lessons in church this week were about helping others.  We are told that as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, every member is a missionary.  We have promised God that we will devote our time, talents, and efforts to helping build up His kingdom.  We have promised God that we will serve and reach out to those around us, that we will share the gospel with everyone.  It can be scary, but it is completely worth it.  As we do missionary work, we feel a certain joy come more and more into our life.  I know that as a missionary, I just feel good doing this work every single day and even during the frustrating times.  It does get frustrating and discouraging sometimes, but to know that I am doing what the Lord has asked me to do is an even more overpowering feeling of happiness.  There is an article in the July Ensign entitled, Thank You for Introducing Me to the Gospel that I really like.  It talks about missionary work and tells about a man and his family who were at a Stake Conference.  The leaders were talking about missionary work and they were told that the Lord has placed certain people, who were ready to hear the gospel, within their circle of friends.  This man and his wife believed that to be true so they made a list of about 10 names of people they knew that might possibly be interested in the gospel.  They fasted and prayed a lot over who would they should focus on from their list of names.  They came up with two men that the dad worked with.  He asked the first guy, but he declined his offer.  He was at work later and his wife called him and asked if he had asked the second man.  He said no and his wife told him that she will wait on the phone while he goes right now to ask the man if he would like to hear about the restored gospel.  He went over to his friend and asked, "Bruce, did you know I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?"  He replied with yes.  "Would you be interested in learning more about the church?"  Bruce said he would.  Over the next few weeks, Bruce and his family would come over for dinner and meet with the missionaries.  They were baptized into the church not too long afterwards.  The first man they invited came to the Baptismal service and he was impressed by it.  Bruce approached this same man at work and asked him the same question the previous man did.  This time he said he would and a little bit later he joined the church as well.  This great example shows a few key things.  One is the fact that the Lord really has placed people in our lives that are ready for the restored gospel.  It is our part to go find them and follow the Spirit’s prompting.  Two, Satan will make it seem like a scary thing.  When the man approached the first guy, it was pretty easy, but with the second man, he had fear and hesitated.  He was scared to do it until his wife asked him to go do it right then.  I would like to ask each of you to take the challenge in this story and come up with a list of names of people that you know who might be interested in the wonderful message of the restored gospel.  Fast and pray over your list of names and then go and act.  It might be scary, but worth it.  It can be just a simple question like the man in the story.  The Lord has promised us that He will place the words which we should speak into our mouths.  I know that you all can do it and will be blessed for your efforts.  You also will feel of the joy that comes from doing missionary work.  I would love to hear back of your experiences with this challenge.  I leave you these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Can you believe I planted this corn?

E. Porter
Frankie and his little brothers

Miller Family

The Turtons