Thursday, September 29, 2016

Craziness All Over The Place 9-19-16

Well this week, we had a lot of interesting, weird, awesome, crazy things happen.  It is still super hot over here - like still in the 90s.  If it keeps this up, our winter will be really warm again.  I sure hope so.  I also want to say Happy Birthday to my brother, Porter!

Monday we went up to Dayton and went hiking to a dried-up waterfall that is just cliffs now.  Some investigators of the Dayton Missionaries took us.  It was pretty cool and different than most P-days.

Tuesday we had Zone Conference and it was awesome.  We got some great tips on ways we can help ourselves to avoid thinking negatively or getting discouraged, to be more effective in our studies, and how we need to apply all the aspects of finding, not just one way.  We were introduced to 2 different new ways to find. They have not been added officially yet and we don't know when or if they will be, but one is social media.  So we might be on social media at some point in the future.  We also talked about the Spirit and how it works and how to recognize it.  It was a great Zone Conference.  After, we had a lesson with Olivia and Rebecca and we answered some of their questions from our last lesson.  We also had a lesson with Jarvis and went over the Plan of Salvation.  He is really progressing and we set a baptismal date for him on October 15.

Wednesday we saw a guy named Phillip.  We taught the Restoration and had a great lesson with him, but then later that night he called us and dropped us.  During that lesson though, he asked us if we believed in aliens.  Elder Thomas said, “Yes……” not knowing where he was going with that.  He then proceeded to tell us that a few months ago he had been abducted by aliens almost every day for a month.  He said they stuck needles into different parts of his body and told him something that he would only remember when it was time to say it.  He also said he heard something about the year 2021, but that's all he remembers being told.  Elder Thomas and I had no idea how to respond to that so, after a long, awkward pause, we moved on with the lesson.  So that was interesting.  Later we met with the Jaqueline and Letia’s family again.  We talked about fasting and how it can help us receive answers to our prayers and receive help and guidance from God.  It was a pretty good lesson for the most part.  We were riding over The Walking Bridge after dinner and saw the Young Men playing Ultimate Frisbee in the park down below so we went to say hi.  They invited us to play and when people looked over, they saw a bunch of people dressed in athletic wear and then they saw two business looking guys in white shirts and ties playing.  I was sweating so much after that.  It was fun though.

Thursday we did a lot of finding and clearing up our Area Book.  Later that night we played basketball with an investigator and a young man from the Branch.  We are hoping to get a bigger turn out next time.

Friday was weekly planning and then we went out to find people.  After a while of that, we had another lesson with Olivia and Rebecca.  We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we were getting to the principle of baptism, Elder Thomas just “drops the mic on them” and asked them to be baptized without explaining what it was.  It was pretty funny to me and it totally caught them off guard so I tried to back-up and explain what it was and what we were asking them. They agreed to "put a pin in it" on Oct. 22.  Even Rebecca agreed which is awesome since she wasn't interested in that at all to start with.  She also said that she is wanting to move back towards religion and this is a good way to do it.  Olivia says that this is something she wants to do, her only problem will be telling her family.  They are both doing awesome.  Later we had a dinner and a lesson with a 9yr old girl.  Her mom is a less-active member and wants her to take the discussions.  Let me just say, this girl has the shortest attention span I have ever seen!  She also is a little annoying (sorry), but that is for us to learn patience and kindness.  It was a serious struggle to barely get through trying to explain about our loving Heavenly Father, families, and prophets.  At one point I looked at Elder Thomas, indicating it was his turn to teach a little, and he looked at me like a “deer in headlights.”  He started teaching, but had no idea how to teach a 9yr. old or keep her attention.  I eventually took over, but I could just see he had no clue what to do.  That part was a little funny, but we can work on that.  Later that night, we were in the church (which is about 30 steps away from our apartment) and we were planning.  We then heard a big bang and ran down to the intersection nearby.  We saw a Domino’s Pizza car with its rear bumper ripped off and a motorcycle behind it on the road with some people trying to turn it off.  Then about 10 yards away from the bike was a guy rolling on the ground and grunting in pain with people trying to help him.  He had hit the Dominos guy as the Dominos guy was turning.  We helped some other people move the bike off the road.  That was one heavy bike because we were struggling and there was about 8 of us trying to lift it.  The 911 crew came and we watched for a bit until they took the guy into the ambulance.  We suspect he broke some ribs and maybe a leg too, near his shin.  So that was interesting to be a part of and it was good that no one was seriously mangled.

Saturday we went with our Branch Mission Leader, Bro Smith, to see Dean.  He hasn't been feeling well the last few weeks so we wanted to see him.  He shared with us a bunch of his feelings on why he thinks he is not feeling well and everything he was sharing and the solutions he was finding all led back to one thing; attending church.  We helped him understand that the Lord will bless us when we obey and then we gave him a blessing.  Then we saw just Jacqueline afterwards and had a great lesson with her.  We helped her to see that after baptism, nothing we did in our past matters, it is a new start.  I just love that part.

Sunday it rained like all day.  After our 2 churches, we had a couple lessons with some investigators. That's about my week.

So I meant to write about this last week, but forgot.  So last week, we were knocking doors and we knocked on this one lady’s house.  We told her who we were and a quick message that we share with everyone.  She said she didn't have the time and wasn't interested, but she said to us, "Thank you for reminding me of Him today."  That really hit me.  I have never been the biggest fan of tracting.  I think it's awkward (but you come to love some of those moments the more you have them), it's hard to get people interested, and it is the least effective way to find people to teach.  I know, I know…..I am planting seeds for down the road, but that doesn't help too much.  However, when this lady said that to us, I thought, “There is a lot more to this than just planting seeds and asking people to listen to our message. We are actually helping people remember our Savior for at least a split second during their crazy busy day.”  That gave me a new way of looking at not just tracting, but everything we do as missionaries.  My mind set has changed completely and all it took was one lady’s comment.  My purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ and if it helps them remember Him during the day, no matter what their beliefs are and no matter if they will change them or not, then my purpose has been fulfilled.  I am still working on loving it, because sometimes it is hard to face rejection every day, but I love it more than I did before and that will hopefully change my energy that I give off.  The best part about the statement that lady made, is that it doesn't just apply to me, it applies to all of us.  We should strive to live in such a way that people literally see Christ through us, and in so doing, they too will be reminded of Him for at least a split second.  The more we show forth our light of Christ within us, the more happiness, peace, and good there will be in our lives.  I know this to be true and say it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Car Rides - That's All I'm Going To Say
Payback For The Car Ride Photos

Hike To A Dried Up Waterfall - Pretty Cool

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A True "Biking Missionary" 9-12-16

So this has been a great week with lots of different experiences. We had some awesome lessons and had some sweet spiritual experiences as well.  This area is really great.  The work is always increasing with the people here.

Monday we hung out with another District and played ultimate Frisbee at the local park.  It was super hot and we were sweating a ton.  After P-day, we had a lesson with a lady named Vennita.  We just got back in contact with her and went over the Plan of Salvation again.

Tuesday we had a lesson with Olivia and Rebecca, the girls that go to UTC.  We went over the Plan of Salvation and had a pretty good lesson with them.  They had some questions that we are going to go over and answer at our next meeting.  Then we biked out to a lesson with a guy named Jarvis near the Georgia border.  On our way out there, I became a true “biking missionary.”  We were riding through a traffic light, which was green for us, and some cars were parked in the turn lane on the other side.  As I passed those cars, a dump truck did not want to be patient and wait for room to get by safely.  He plowed on through and BARELY missed me.  My front tire started to scrape the side curb and then it just caught.  I went over the handle bars.  I basically flipped over, landed on my shoulders, and rolled, but I never let go of the handle bars so my bike came up and over me as well.  I bumped my knee and my ankle hurt after the adrenaline wore off.  I might have hurt my thumb at some point as well, but I have no idea how any of those things happened.  I also got a huge grass stain on the shoulder of my white shirt.  Don't be mad mom.  Luckily there was no sidewalk on this part of the road so I miraculously landed on grass.  I was super itchy after that because of the mix of sweat and grass.  I definitely was watched over with safety because it could have been a lot worse.  Anyways, we got to Jarvis's house and we went over the Restoration with him.  It made sense to him and he even accepted a soft baptismal invitation.  We swung by the border to take a picture.  We got back and went out with the YSA Elder's Quorum President whose name is Jared.  He just got back from Indonesia on his mission about 6 months ago.  We were going to a less-active member’s home for a dinner appointment.  His name is Chris and he served a mission in Seattle.  Before we got there, we told Jared that we were going to share a message about the Book of Mormon.  He said he wasn't sure how Chris would take it because he is a little “iffy” on religious things at this moment in his life. Chris is a super cool guy and we had a great dinner.  When it came to the message, I was trying to find something that I could share instead of the Book of Mormon message, but nothing was coming to mind, so we stuck with the original plan.  Let me just say, when the Spirit directs you toward something and leaves no other thoughts in your mind except for that one idea, then make sure you follow through with it.  That was one of the most spiritual lessons I have ever been in.  It was so strong.  He was involved and we asked him what he liked from the Book of Mormon.  Jared gave a powerful testimony and challenged him and his girlfriend to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  It was so cool.

Wednesday we had District Meeting.  Then we had a lesson with a guy named Zack.  He is the one that has been coming for a couple years.  He wants to be baptized and so we asked him to pray about a date that would work for him.  We then had a lesson with Jacqueline and Letia and taught the Law of Chastity.  That was about it for today.

Thursday we mainly just tracted all day long.

Friday we met with Zach again.  We taught him the Restoration.  It was a pretty good lesson and he wants to make a change in his life.  Then we tracted again for the rest of the day.

Saturday we tracted again all day and it was super hot.  We knocked on a guy’s door and he gave us money to go get something cold to drink.  So we rode over to the nearest “not sketchy” gas station to get a slushy.  Well, it still was a little sketchy because we totally witnessed a drug deal go down.  That was a first for me.  We also had a couple people ask us for money.  Well we saw the family again and went through the Baptismal Interview questions with them as they are getting closer to their baptismal date.  They are doing awesome.  We asked them to make sure to get their own confirmation that this is what God wants them to do.

Sunday we had a good day.  We were expecting a few more people to come to church than actually did, but it was still a good day.

Well I just want to expound on my thoughts from earlier on the Spirit.  I know that if I had not listened to that initial prompting to go forward with the lesson we prepared because of my own thoughts of wanting Chris to like us and be happy and not uncomfortable, then we would not have had such an awesome spiritual lesson like we did.  We should always listen to the promptings which we receive and stick to them.  If we are told to go do something right then, we should immediately act upon it no matter what the circumstance.  President Monson, our living prophet on the Earth today, had an experience where he felt like he needed to go to the hospital, but he was in an important meeting.  So he waited until the end and then ran over there.  A man had been calling for him just before he died.  Ever since then, Pres. Monson has never put off a prompting from the Spirit.  He said that he wants to make sure the Lord knows that if He needs something done, he will run that errand for Him.  We all should live our lives in that way and have that attitude so that the Lord can trust us with His errands that will bless His children.  The promptings of the Spirit are very special and we should treat them as such and not put them off, even if it’s not good timing. The Spirit will never lead us astray and will always direct us in the ways of good.  I know this to be true and I am very grateful that I can be guided by the Spirit at all times and that He can be my constant companion.  I leave you these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Ellison

Bicycle Accident - A Few Bruises & a Grass Stain - Could Have Been A Lot Worse
Missionary Life

Livin On The Edge - Georgia Border
Coolidge Park
"Blue Boy" @ Coolidge Park

P-Day with 2 Districts

View From the Top of Our Church Building

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Life of a Trainer 9-5-16

So this week was transfers. I got to find out who my little “greenie” would be. I am serving with Elder Thomas from Payson, Utah.  He is really cool and super willing to talk to people.  He definitely fits in here in Tennessee.  It hasn't even been a week and he is doing a great job.  He loves sports, but only one problem; he is a Utah Ute fan.  I guess I will just have to look past that -haha.  We had a great week so let me tell you all about it.

Monday we went to the church building in Hixson and played games and also went on a little hike to a rock quarry.  Later we had another dinner out on the mattress of one our less-active members.  She is a single lady so we are not allowed to go inside.  She doesn’t have a table that can be moved outdoors, so she pulls out an old mattress and we use it for our table.  It may be unconventional, but we don't care and are grateful for the meal and the hospitality.

Tuesday was our last day as a trio.  We went to see a guy who used to be a member and wants to rejoin the church again.  We also saw Jacqueline, Letia and their kids.  We went through the story of Nephi and his family with them which is where they are at currently reading in the Book of Mormon right now.  Later we had dinner with a member who told us her conversion story, which was awesome.  It was so cool to see how it all played out for her to join the church.

Wednesday was transfers.  We drove down to Knoxville to get Elder Thomas and then drove back.  When we got back, we had a lesson with a YSA guy named Zack.  He has been coming to church for 3 years now, but couldn't get baptized because his parents wouldn’t let him.  So now that he is an adult, we are teaching him and it is already going well.  Elder Thomas even made a few comments during the lesson for his first time.  We then biked over to Travis and taught him about fasting.  We asked him to fast tomorrow and then the next day at work, ask if he can get his work schedule changed.  We later went tracting and that was about it.

Thursday we had weekly planning.  We then did a lot of finding and tried to see some people, but no luck.  We were able to see Sisters Morgan and Valles.  We are trying to get them to come back to church.

Friday we did some service in the morning for a non-member friend of a member in another Ward.  It was pretty good.  We then rushed from that to District Meeting, after which we had an awesome lesson with two girls going to UTC, the local college in downtown Chattanooga.  They just showed up randomly at church and said they were interested in learning more.  So we met with them and taught them the Restoration.  We answered their questions and we had a great discussion with them. We then biked pretty far away down near the Georgia border.  We tried contacting a couple potentials and other investigators we had.  We contacted a referral and are going back this next week to teach him.

Saturday we helped a less-active member move in the morning.  We came back and had lunch and did some New Missionary study.  Then we went and contacted a bunch of potential investigators.  Our goal this transfer is to clean up that part of our area book.  Nothing came from it except being able to do a little clean out.  We then had another lesson with Jacqueline and Letia.  We taught them the Word of Wisdom and they seemed pretty willing to stop doing the things that don't go along with it.  We then had to bike pretty far to get to our dinner appointment at the home where we eat on the mattress.  We ended the night with a correlation meeting with our Branch Mission Leader in the YSA.

Sunday we had church like usual for most of the day.  Some of the members were down in Louisiana helping the relief effort to clean up after the floods.  The YSA didn’t have hardly anyone.  The congregation was about 6-8 YSA and the other half was the four missionaries and three investigators. We only met for 2 hours because of that.  Zack and the 2 girls came.  Their names are Olivia and Rebecca.  We had time to go and teach people afterwards because we ended early and Zach, a different investigator, asked us if we could come over right then.  So we got to see him after almost a month of not connecting with him.  Last time we talked with him he said church wasn't his cup of tea, but this visit he said he is going to come again and we didn't even bring it up.  It was awesome!  We will meet with him this next week sometime.  We did some knocking on doors, but no luck.

So in District Meeting, the training I gave was on setting goals since it was the beginning of a transfer and the beginning of a mission for a couple of them.  One of the things Preach My Gospel tells us to do when we are setting goals is to pray and follow the Spirit.  This applies to all goals.  Every single one of us have goals and dreams and we can make them a reality by putting forth work and effort. We first need to start out by writing them down.  We can have goals, but if we don't write them down specifically, we will forget them or change them to something easier.  That's why we follow the Spirit when we set a goal.  It needs to be something that is reasonable and attainable, but it needs to be something the makes us stretch.  There is NO GROWTH in our comfort zone.  Goals are to make us better.  We also need to make sure that we are reflecting on these goals regularly so we can always be thinking of them and they don't just get lost in the wind.  Reflecting on them regularly also helps us check our progress and makes us accountable.  If we have followed the Spirit with a goal we set, then the “natural man” will try and make us not do it because we may want to be lazy.  By being accountable, we may guilt trip ourselves so that we truly will do it.  If anything, we can also be accountable to God because He helped us set those goals.  Once the goals are written down, we need to make a plan.  How am I going to accomplish that goal?  What am I going to do to make it happen? If we can do these things, then we can reach all our goals.  I know that each of you can do it!  I am cheering you on.  In our District Meeting, we all took time, prayed, and then wrote down some personal goals.  I would like to encourage you guys to do the same.  I know it isn't New Years and all of your resolutions were probably broken a long time ago, but now is the time when we can start over - but with God's help this time.  Reflect on the goals you set at least once a month, week, day - whatever you feel like.  We can all reach our goals so that we can improve ourselves, but remember, it won't happen by us just sitting there waiting for it to happen.  It is going to take work and effort on our part and sometimes it may require us to do things we don't necessarily want to do.  We may also be tempted to say that we will do it tomorrow.  NOW is the only time we have and we never know when NOW will end, so let's do the very best we can with what we have right now and then make it a little better each day.  I know these things to be true, and I have the faith that we can all do it.  I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison
My Little "Greenie" - E. Thomas

The Whole Gang - Love These Guys!
It's Not Easy Going Back and Forth, But We Make It Work
Last Day of the Trio

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Year, A Transfer, And The Lord's Miracles 8-29-16

HOLY COW!  This week was pretty awesome.  I will tell you, all about it later. We have Transfer Calls Monday morning and then Transfers on Wednesday.  I for sure will be going to pick up a new companion so we can get back to doing the normal missionary work.  I will tell you at the end what happens since we haven’t received the Transfer Call yet.

Monday started out like a normal day and then out of nowhere I got a call in the morning from some random guy named Peter.  He told me he wanted to learn about the church and eventually get baptized.  We met him that evening and taught him the Restoration.  He had a super cool story of how he had gotten to this point.  He said he was in a “reading mood” and the way he was talking, it sounded like he might have the whole Book of Mormon read by our next appointment, which is next Monday night.   So he was super awesome.  Then at lunch I got another call from another random guy named Jason. He was also interested in learning and joining the church.  We were supposed to meet with him a couple times this last week, but every time we got stood up, which was unfortunate.  And then later that evening around 5:30, I got another call from a guy named Andrew who said he wanted to come see what the church was about.  All of these guys called during P-day.  It was great.  Other than that, we just hung out with the other Elders in the District.  Some other missionaries in another District came to tour downtown so we hung out with them for like an hour.

Tuesday we did some service by helping people get some apartments ready for refugees to move into.  Then we just tried to see some people throughout the day.

Wednesday we had District Meeting.  We also got Elder Leahman back.  Afterwards we had a lesson with Dean and we went through the baptismal interview questions because he wanted to know what he needed to do to be baptized.  He is praying himself to know what day he should baptized on.  Then we saw Jacqueline and Letia and we read some of the Book of Mormon with them.  Later we met with Travis and we tried to help him figure out how he can get his work schedule changed so he can come to church.

Thursday we had lunch at a member’s home with Jacqueline and it was really good.  Then we went up into the Hixson area and did some contacting and had a lesson with one of their investigators.

Friday was my 1 year mark.  In celebration, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings.  That was fun – I’ve never been there before.  We then went and tried contacting people some more.  Later that evening, the Hixson Ward and another Ward had a softball game and we went and played a little.  It was really fun.  I had some sweet plays too.

Saturday we went out as Branch Leadership and invited a bunch of the less-active members to come back to church.  It was pretty successful.  Then we went and we had another lesson with Jacqueline and her kids.  All of the kids that are 8 or older have accepted to be baptized as well.  It is really awesome!  The Lord has been pouring out blessings upon this area like crazy and it is awesome.  Later that evening, we walked around downtown and on The Walking Bridge.

Sunday was a good day at church.  We had 8 investigators at church.  We were expecting around 15, but 8 is still good.  In the family branch we had a total attendance of 107.  When I first got here we only had around 60.  So things are going really well in the branch.  Can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for this area.  We had dinner with the Elders Quorum President and some of their friends.  They have a really nice view at their home.  Well, not quite as good as a mountain could give you, but still good.  It's funny.  All the people out here call their hills, mountains and my companions, who are from Utah, and I look at each other and start to laugh.  They haven't seen nothing!

So we got transfer calls this morning and I am staying obviously, but will also be “training.”  I will be getting a new missionary.  Should be fun.  Pretty nervous about it, but I know we will do great things.  I get to meet him Wednesday morning at Tranfers.  Hope everyone has a great week and a fun Labor Day weekend.  Until next time.

Elder Ellison

One Year Celebration with E. McLoud & E. Leahman
Jacqueline & Crew

Downtown Chattanooga Mural

Funny - We Better Be Careful

The Walking Bridge
District Photos

More Lame District Photos

Friday, September 9, 2016

One Crazy Transfer! 8-22-116

This is our last full week of the transfer and we have had more crazy things happen.  I am back to having only one companion, Elder McLeod.  Elder Leahman left Tuesday evening and will be gone for about a week.  Last Tuesday a missionary in another area in our Zone was crossing the street and somehow got hit by a car.  We don't really know the whole situation yet or how it happened, but I do know that the car was going about 25mph - so not super fast.  The missionary is going to be OK, but he got cut up and was taken to the hospital to get stitches.  He will recover in the mission home.  E. Leahman is filling in for now.  A different missionary, who was recovering from surgery, is better now so he will come replace E. Leahman in a week or so.  Another Emergency Transfer - haha. That’s about 3 now.

Monday we played some games at the church and scared the pants off of the Elders in our District. We told them that we wouldn't be there when they got there, but we would unlock the church for them so they could have Wifi.  We got a weird Ferris wheel music box from one of the Sisters and took it up to the church building’s attic, which is pretty creepy.  Our church building used to be a home for soldiers during the Civil War, which adds to the drama.  So anyways, we were upstairs being quiet and then after 10 minutes we make running noises and slammed the attic door.  We hid up in the attic and start playing the Ferris wheel music at the top of the stairs.  We were still able to scare both Elders, just at different times.  It was so much fun!

Tuesday we had a Zone Training Meeting.  It was boring for me since I had heard those trainings already at MLC earlier this month and I listened to my companions go over what they were going to say and how they were going to present the training.  Still good, just a little boring because I knew all the answers and couldn't participate much.  Afterwards I went to the Signal Mountain area for exchanges. I was with Elder Westberg, who also switched missions with me. Not too much happened.  He is a Spanish missionary so I was hoping we could teach some Spanish people, but no luck.

Wednesday we did some service in the morning and then we exchanged back.  We went and had a lesson with Jacqueline and Letia.  It was pretty good.  We read through 1 Nephi 1 with them and explained what was going on.  Later we got in contact with a family who had been investigating the church, but for the last few weeks have been either gone or busy.  We just stopped by and got there right when they got home.  We went over the Restoration with them and answered questions.  They seem promising.

Thursday we weekly planned and then we had a lesson with two people who are members of the R-LDS church.  It was kind of interesting.  They believe that she has the Priesthood so that might be a difficult conversation.  Then we had lunch with a less-active member.  It was a good lunch, but crazy weird.  She spoke in tongues when she prayed.  She prophesied to us and she said that she was "teaching" us.  She said that when the spirit comes over and speaks through her, she just couldn't stop it.  I don't know what spirit she was feeling, but I wasn't feeling it.  So that was an interesting experience.  We then tried to contact more less-active members on our way back to the apartment.  We needed to pack up our stuff and head back to the Hixson apartment.  College kids were everywhere too, getting unpacked into their new living places.  So lots of new “prospectives” to share the gospel with.

Friday we did some finding and it later started to dump rain.  Like the streets were flooding and there were spots where you hydroplane.  Luckily Chattanooga is just hills after hills so water doesn't just build up over the entire road.  Then we had another lesson at Jacqueline and Letia's.  They read chapter 2 and even read more.  They said that as they read, it just pulls them in and they just want to move on and read the next chapter.  It is so awesome!  We finished reading chapter 3 with them and described what was going on.  They said they are going to come to church this week too.  We then went and did more tracting.  No luck, but funny experience.  We knocked on this one door and this 20 year-old kid came out and talked with us.  He wasn't interested, but he accepted a pass along card so we moved on to the next home.  There was a big American flag that hung there and kind of hid us where we were standing on the porch.  So the guy we just talked to next door comes back out and we see him.  He looks around, up and down the street, and then says, "Where did they go?"  As he goes back inside, we hear him say to his roommates, "They just disappeared!  Mormons are scary!"  We laughed pretty hard after that.  We thought about going back to that guy’s door and saying something like, "We heard you were looking for us."  He probably would have gotten freaked out.

Saturday we did a lot of finding; less-actives, potentials, and formers.  Then later we had a lesson with a guy named Dean.  He is preparing to be baptized.  We had a date for next Saturday, but had to change it because we haven't had time to finish teaching him everything we need to.  Then we had another lesson with a family we contacted this week.  The mom wasn't there this time, but we went over the Restoration from Jospeh Smith and explained the Book of Mormon.  We committed them to be baptized Sept. 24 when they come to find out this is true.  The dad asked us how we found out it was true, so we shared our experiences and tried to show him that we had to do the exact same thing we were asking him to do.  Later it started to dump rain again.  While we stopped by a less-active member’s home, we were in the rain less than a minute from the time we got out, knocked on the door and got back to the car.  We were soaked from head to toe.  Later that night we went and walked over The Walking Bridge and then into downtown.  There was a huge “Welcome to College” party/carnival that we walked by.  We also got a high five from a random guy.  It was pretty fun.

Sunday we had church again, obviously.  Jacqueline and Letia came with all their kids, which makes about 10 people total.  Dean also came.  So it was a good day for church.  All of the kids asked me after church when we were coming over again, which was awesome.  Dean told us after Sacrament meeting that he wanted to be baptized and asked what he needed to do.  So it was a really good day.

One of our lessons in church this week, which is pretty awkward when you are having it in the YSA because no one is married, was on Eternal Marriage and Families.  All families can live together forever.  That is one of God's greatest gifts to us.  He has provided a way for us to do that.  In the temple we can be sealed to our families forever through the Priesthood keys.  The Priesthood is the power that Christ gave Peter in Mathew 16: 19, "19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  That is the exact same power we have today that can be used in the temple.  The temple is a very special place with so many blessings.  It is a place that we can get a spiritual recharge or receive help with something.  We all need to make it a regular habit of going to the temple.  The Branch President said yesterday that if we as members are not renewing our recommends, then that means we aren't going to the temple.  We NEED to go to the temple.  A Stake President out here had the motto of "Every member, every month."  He wanted every member of the church to be going to the temple at least once a month.  For people out here, they don't have the luxury of being able to have a temple 10 to 30 minutes away.  Some have to drive 2 hours or more to get to the closest temple.  My Stake President back home asked us to double our attendance at the temple.  So if you were going once a month, go twice a month.  Once a week, go twice a week.  The blessings from the temple are not just for us alone, they are for those who have passed on and didn’t have the opportunity to accept Christ's gospel.  They are our ancestors and our family.  We need to show them that we care for them, love them, and want them to receive the same blessings we have.  We also need to make sure that we stay worthy to be able to go to the temple.  When I have the capability of going to the temple again, I want to make it a regular habit to go.  More happiness and blessings on this side of the veil and the others will come into our lives and the lives of our family here on earth and in heaven.  I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Learning to Play the Guitar

Scaring the Pants Off the Other Elders

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Monday Already? 8-15-16

So this week flew by and was just a blur.  We had a lot of exchanges and District Meetings, but we had a pretty great week.  We set some baptismal dates for September with a couple investigators too.

Monday our District walked around downtown Chattanooga.  We took a couple pictures and ran into a few homeless people.  One guy was passed out drunk and a few others around him looked like they were going to jump us.  It didn't help that we were under a bridge and no one could see us down there, but we made it out.  Later we did some finding and tried to see a couple people in Hixson's area.

Tuesday we went to a District Meeting and did exchanges.  I got to go on the exchange with Elder Alston, who was in my last District and switched missions with me so that was fun.  We went to dinner, had a lesson with a non-member, and went over the Restoration.  It was a pretty good lesson.  We then helped a lady out who is on bed rest with twins.

Wednesday we had our own District Meeting and then we had a couple awesome lessons.  Travis set a baptismal date for Sept. 17.  He was a referral a few weeks ago and has prayed about the Book of Mormon and believes it to be true, which is awesome.  Later we had a lesson with a less-active member, which was awesome.  We talked about the Atonement and shared Alma 7: 11-12.  She really liked it.

Thursday we went to another District Meeting and then I went on an exchange with Elder Park.  He is from Nampa, ID.  We worked in my area for this exchange.  We had a lesson with two sisters named Jacqueline and Letia and their 8 kids.  We had a lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we committed them to be baptized on Sept. 24.  They said they would and before we left, all of their kids wanted their own copies of the Book of Mormon.  They are awesome!  We then went tracting and found a couple new people to teach.  We went and worked in Hixson's area after that and then went back to my apartment.

Friday we were able to go to a harder section of my area called Lookout Mountain.  It's hard to get to because we are on bikes and it’s a really long ride.  Don't let the name “mountain” fool you though, its only up on top of a big hill.  People may call them mountains out here, but they are only hills.  We contacted, or at least tried to contact some less-active members up there and then did some tracting. Not really any success that day so after that we drove back to Hixson and did some tracting there.

Saturday we did more tracting in the earlier hours of the day.  Then Bro Smith came and got me and we went to my area for an appointment with Jacqueline and Letia.  We read through 2 Nephi 31 with them.  When they opened the door, all of the kids had their Book of Mormons in hand ready to go, which was awesome!  They sit there during the lesson and are quiet and really pay attention.  At the end of the lesson we helped them recognize that they were feeling the Spirit and how they can have that feeling always.  They said they wanted to come to church too.  Then we went back to Hixson where I got dropped off.  We went and knocked on doors for the rest of the evening.

Sunday we had church and Jacqueline and about 6 of the kids came.  We also had another investigator at church too.  It was a great day at church!  After church was over, I went up to Jacqueline and the kids and asked them how it was.  She said she liked it and the kids did too.  I even heard one of the kids ask her if they could come back next week.  That pumped me up.  I then went to the YSA branch for church, again.  Nothing too exciting happened for the rest of the day.

So I want to share a scripture with you that I came across in my studies this week:  Alma 46: 15.  It says, "And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come."  As I read this, I asked myself a couple questions.  Am I as faithful as I should be?  Am I a true believer in Christ?  I took upon me the name of Christ when I got baptized into His church by the proper Priesthood authority.  The thing is, am I as faithful as I need to be or should be?  On my mission, I meet a lot of people who have lost their faithfulness.  It is sad to see how they struggle and suffer because of that.  Our faith should be so strong, that we will never falter and fall away from the church.  So, what is a true believer?  I think a true believer is someone that does whatever Christ wants them to do.  It goes back to one of the other questions from a previous post, do we believe in Christ or do we believe Him?  We may have faith in Christ, but the stronger thing to do is to believe Him and follow through.  Do what He asks, no matter the situation or how it is going to make us feel.  We may even be made fun of for our choices to follow our Savior, but a true believer will do it no matter what and will remember that they hold Christ's name upon them.  We all need to make sure we are doing the things that help our faith continue to grow and we need to make sure we are being true believers of Christ by following through with action.  Faith is an action word.  I close these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Ninja Warrior Training - I was even weighted!

District Outing

Gotta Love The New Polyester Pink Tie!

Psych 100 Clues - Not the best one I've seen, but still...

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Lord Provides A Way 8-8-16

So this was a crazy week, but we had some awesome things happen.  It was also the first week of the “trio.”  It's fun to be back in a trio again.  I am now with the Zone Leaders Elders McLeod and Leahman.  They are both from Utah and they have both been out for 18 months or more.  It's pretty fun because I get to be a part of their Zone Leader lifestyle and see what they do.  It's pretty interesting, though trying to cover both areas is so much fun to figure out, especially on Sundays.

Monday we had our last P-day with Elder Porter.  We hung out with the other missionaries and just played a bunch of games.  Then Elder Porter packed that night.

Tuesday we got up early and we drove down to Knoxville to transfer Elder Porter.  We then went to MLC (Missionary Leadership Training).  Usually only the Zone Leaders go to that meeting so I felt way out of place.  It was cool to see some of the missionaries that switched missions with me.  We then came back, I packed all of my stuff, and we took it over to the Zone Leader’s apartment.  After that we headed out to a lesson with one of their investigators.

Wednesday we had interviews with President Griffin.  That was fun.  After that we had District Meeting.  We then went and worked in my area for a little bit.  We had a lesson with a guy named Travis and it went pretty well.  We taught about the Plan of Salvation.  We extended a soft baptismal commitment and he said yes to that.  We then went and did a little bit of tracting.  We had a lesson with another guy named Zach, who is pretty cool.  He is looking for the truth right now and he said he would come to church this Sunday.  Later we found a couple new investigators while tracting.

Thursday we did Weekly Planning.  Then we went back to my area and did a lot of tracting.  We found another new investigator.  Then we went back to the Hixson area and did some finding there too.  We also had a lesson with some less-active members.  It was a good lesson, but then when we were just chatting with them, I started to fall asleep.  It was bad!  I would notice my eyes would be closed longer than normal and I would immediately open them up again.

Friday we went to another District and went to their District Meeting.  Then we did exchanges with them.  We worked in Hixson's area the whole day and we did a lot of finding.  One of the coolest things was on one of the houses - they had pineapples everywhere, meaning welcome.  Then when we got to the door, their doorbell was a pineapple and looked exactly the one on a Psych episode. I was so pumped. I wished I had gotten a picture of it.  We did more tracting and finding for the rest of the day.

Saturday we exchanged back and we met up at Walmart, where we saw a super nice Ferrari.  It was sweet!  Once we got back to our area, we went tracting some more, but everyone was watching the Olympics so they didn't want to talk to us.  We then met up with my Ward Mission Leader and he took me back to my area where we went to visit some people.  We were also able to contact a referral we got that day.  We tried a few other people, but only got into one less-active member’s house.  We had an awesome lesson on the Book of Mormon and the scriptures.  Then we met back up and went tracting again.  We met a guy who was super rude, mean, and totally put down our beliefs and religion.  Some of the things he said contradicted themselves and he didn't know what to do with some of the answers we gave to his questions because he thought we were going to say something false.  He was a little nice toward the beginning, but by the end, he was just plain rude.  He told us to get rid of that "lie" (The Book of Mormon) and that if we were going to believe it, then we can take that lie off of his property!  I was pretty tempted to start walking at that point.  We bore our testimony to him about certain things and how we came to know that it was true.  Then he said that the spiritual witness we had was false and wasn't of the Holy Ghost.  We eventually agreed to disagree and walked away. 

Sunday we had church and then had church again with the YSA Branch.  On Saturday I gotten a call from Zach saying he might not be able to make it since he was in Atlanta and didn't know when he would be back. We had a ride set up for him and everything.  Then Sunday morning I got a call from him saying he was back and wanted to come.  I was so pumped!  I called his ride back and he brought Zach to church.  When we were having the testimony meeting, Zach raised his hand and asked if he could go up there.  I was so excited when I heard that.  He gave an amazing testimony and when he sat down, I couldn't keep from smiling with joy because "that was my investigator."  I can't wait to see his progression in the gospel.  We had a Break-the-Fast after church and had a bunch of yummy food.

That rude guy we spoke with on Saturday told us, “We should take off our name tags and throw them in the trash.  That isn't who we are and we don't need them to go and bear testimony of Christ. The only reason we are out here on a mission is because we have been indoctrinated by the church, parents and our family taught us that's what we do, and we were pressured into it.”  Well, I bore my testimony to him as to why I'm out here and I would like to do the same for all of you.  I am out here because I want to, because I chose to.  It has nothing to do with that other garbage he said.  I love this gospel.  I love my Savior and I am doing what He has asked; feed my sheep.  This gospel has changed my life and I want to help others receive it too so that it can bless and change their lives as well.  I wouldn't be out here if it wasn't true and right and good.  That is why I am out here and I leave you with this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison
MLC Training with my former Nashville Mission buddies

My new companions (in white shirts) - E. McLeod & E. Leahman (standing)

Learning Kenpo