Friday, January 6, 2017

Merry Christmas! 12-26-16

Merry Christmas to everyone!  I hope it was a good one and full of love and happiness.  What a blessing it is for us to get to have a chance to specifically stop and celebrate the birth of our Savior.  We had a fairly good week even if it wasn't as eventful as most weeks.

Monday we just played some board games and had a little fun.  Not too much happened.

Tuesday we worked at the Richard's farm as usual.  We are taking down their tomato plants and pulling starts out of the ground so they can be ready to re-till next year.  Later we had planned to go tracting and as we started, we talked with a guy for an hour and a half.  We gave him a Light the World pass along card and then that led into a huge discussion about the gospel.  As we shared some of our beliefs with him, he didn't agree and turned more into bashing on those beliefs.  He told us to get rid of the Book of Mormon because we didn’t need it.  Then he shared a great personal story that I thought showed why we need it, but he didn't make the connection.  He also tried to tell us that we were told erroneously that the Bible talks about the Book of Mormon and wouldn't believe us when we said that we found that out in our own study.  He also wouldn't believe that we had found the gospel was true for ourselves, but that we had basically been brainwashed and told to believe it.  He said that we needed to pray and find out for ourselves, which we tried to explain that we already have.  He told us that we had been deceived.  By the end of this conversation, I was a little frustrated and starting to get mad.  I was almost ready to walk away without another word.  Needless to say, we ended the conversation and moved on.  We later had a lesson with an old guy in his 80’s that was super nice.  He wasn't interested in learning, just liked talking to us.  He was a funny guy and we definitely needed that.

Wednesday we drove down to Morristown, TN to have a Christmas Conference with our Zone and the Cumberland Zone.  It was super fun.  We were told the Nativity story, but with extra facts we didn't know and it helped us get a new perspective on it.  We had some lunch and then played dodgeball.  That was super fun!  I got nailed right in the mouth and boy, did my face tingle for a little bit after that one!  After that we got to watch Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens and it was pretty good.  I'm glad our Mission President chose that one instead of some cartoon.  When it was over, we helped clean up and traveled back to our areas.  We had about a 2 hour drive.

Thursday we did a lot of finding.  That was most of our day.  We even handed out 40 Light the World pass along cards.  In total we handed out 109 cards for the week.  Then in the evening, we drove to the Marion area so that I could interview one of their investigators, a 14 yr. old girl, for baptism.  She got baptized on Christmas Eve.

Friday we did some weekly planning.  Then we had a lesson with a less-active and we shared the Light the World video.  We did some finding and then had a lesson with a guy named Travis.  He is working on becoming a member of the church.

Saturday we did some service for a member and they took us to lunch afterwards.  It was raining all day, but luckily it was just misty.  We did some finding until we couldn't proselyte anymore for the evening.  We went over to the Filetti's home and had dinner with them.  As one of their traditions, they have a few different canned foods to try.  I tried them all which was; oyster, calamari, squid, and sardines in hot sauce.  All of which were not too bad.  We had some fun for the rest of the evening and then had a spiritual thought.  The dad reads the Nativity and combines both sides of the Bible and Book of Mormon - what was going on in both places at the time of the birth of Christ.

Sunday was Christmas so we opened some gifts in the morning and then went to church.  This whole day was almost exactly the same as last Christmas.  Rainy in the morning, then warm, but overcast for the rest of the day.  It got up to 60 degrees, which I loved.  Afterwards we had a lesson with our investigator David.  After that we had some fun and dinner with a few member families.  Then we got to do the fun part of Christmas:  We Skyped our families.  It was really fun!  My grandma was there too, which was cool.  We had lots of good laughs.

Well, that has been it from my end.  I wish you all a happy New Year. I also wish you good luck on making and keeping your resolutions.  If anything, try to actually accomplish one of them and let it be towards doing good in the world.  Until next time.

Elder Ellison

Investigator David

Christmas Eve With This Awesome Family

Christmas morning - opening gifts half asleep

Skyping Home

TKM Sweatshirts - A Gift From Pres. & Sis. Griffin

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Feeling Like Riccardi 12-19-16

So I know that not everyone will understand my title, but there is a letter that was written by guy who was Riccardi's missionary companion back in the 90s.  He tells all about his experiences and how bold he was.  You will just have to read the Riccardi Letter to understand it.  Also, this email will be a little shorter than the others because P-day was on Wednesday this week.

Wednesday we went and spent P-day with a bunch of other missionaries and went to a jump park.  It was a pretty cool place.  Then we just hung out at the church.

Thursday we did a lot of finding and had a couple lessons with some new people.  It was freezing cold too.

Friday we did some weekly planning.  Then we went and helped a manager at Chick-fil-a move apartments.  He is a pretty cool guy and he knows a few members of the church that got us in contact with him.  Afterwards we had dinner and games at a member’s home with another part-member family.

Saturday we met with Miss Rush and then we went to a YSA activity we were invited to.  We were able to talk to a non-member who was there and share a little bit about our church with him.

Sunday we had church. Then we went and had a lesson with David about tithing and fast offerings.  Ok so now for the RIccardi moment.  Late last night we got a referral and so we called him after church and set up an appointment for later that afternoon.  We went over and met this guy.  He told us he wanted to join the church because his girlfriend said she was going to be married in the temple. During our conversation, we realized that may be the only reason why he was interested instead of actually wanting to learn if this was true.  He started to tell us that we were wrong and some of our answers to his questions, which were spot-on, were not good enough for him.  He eventually ended up bashing on our church and how we are no different than any other church.  In the end, I was the most bold I probably have ever been and told him something I have never told anyone before.  I told him that he was not ready for the full, restored gospel.  He would be at some point, just now he wasn't and that is ok.  We would not be back to see him again, but invited him to continue to pray, study, and search.  I said it very boldly, but as polite as I could.  He told me that if I did that to anyone else, I would get cussed out.  He told us that his door is always open and that he thought we would be back next week to learn “truth.”  I told him that we would not, but we appreciated his time and questions.

I would just like to share my testimony that has continually grown through much study and prayer.  I do know that this is the full and true gospel that has been restored to the earth in this modern day.   Throughout the world there are pieces of the gospel.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has all of the pieces put together.  We have a prophet on the earth that leads us today.  His name is Thomas S. Monson.  This is Jesus Christ's church.  He leads it.  The Book of Mormon has been brought forth to help us understand the teachings in the Bible even better.  It is a second witness and teaches that Christ is our Savior.  We have been taught all of the sacred ordinances that can bless us and help us return to our Heavenly Father.  I have come to know these things to be true though my own study and then asked the One who knows all.  My answer to that prayer came through a warm, good feeling of the Holy Ghost.  I cannot deny the answer that I knew I had received.  Now I am out here to help others come to know these things to be true for themselves.  I pray the Lord will show these people to me and if I find those who are not ready yet, then I will try to help them continue on their journey towards God.   God has a plan for all of us.  It is a perfect plan.  We need never fear if we are to have faith in God.  Put Him on your team and trust Him and you will never fail because He never fails.  I leave you with these things in the name of our Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

P.S. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.

The Bird Likes Me

Random Mural

Angry Face

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The First Flurries 12-14-16

This email will be a little longer due to the extra days because of our Zone Conference.  This week was full of snow, exchanges, and learning. 

Monday we just hung out with the other missionaries in our District.  We played board games and sports. 

Tuesday was a great day.  We started out working at the Richard's farm.  We helped clean out some of their storage sheds because it was raining.  Later we did a bunch of finding.  We were looking for this one less-active in a trailer park, but they had moved a while ago.  The guy who lives there now is named David.  We talked with him for a while and had a great conversation.  He had a great story of how God has helped him in his life recently.  He got emotional in front of us too.  We asked him if we could come back and share a message that will bring him closer to his Heavenly Father and he said we could.  Later we met a less-active who started out a little rude then changed.  She became very nice and even said she wanted to come back to church.  She called us Sunday morning saying she still wanted to come, but was super sick, which was a bummer.  We then met with one of our investigators.  We first went in planning to teach the Restoration, but as we started, I asked how he has seen God's hand in his life?  His answer took the whole lesson in a different direction and we learned so much more about him.  Now we can better teach to his needs. Today was again, a great day.

Wednesday we met with a guy named Travis.  We are trying to encourage him to come to church.  We then met with Miss Rush and had a good gospel discussion with her.  Her only thing is that she doesn't want to find out if these things are true yet - so we are not too sure what to do to help her. Later that evening we had Book of Mormon class.

Thursday we had District Meeting.  The Zone Leaders came and we had exchanges afterwards.  I went to Johnson City with Elder Simmonson.  He is from Grace, ID.  He has been out just a couple weeks more than me.  We did some finding and then had a lesson with one of their investigators.  We also helped one of their neighbors put up her Christmas lights.  It didn't look too bad at night.

Friday morning we were in studies, and I looked out the window and I saw these huge flakes of snow falling from the sky.  It didn't last too long and nothing stayed on the ground.  That morning we went tracting and it was really cold and windy.  There were really little flakes of snow too.  So later we exchanged back and we did some more finding until we had to do weekly planning. That night we had a lesson with an investigator and her less-active husband.  It was really frustrating for both Elder Anderson and I - we ended up dropping them since they don’t really seem interested in learning right now. 

Saturday we saved the lives of some chickens and ducks.  We went to a member’s home in the morning to do service and as we went to let out their animals, a light had fallen onto a bag of shredded wood and it started to burn.  When we opened the door, it was extremely smokey.  We are lucky we got there before the animals became rotisserie chicken and roast duck.  That afternoon we went out with Tyler who is a senior in high school.  We saw an investigator named Don and had a good lesson on the Spirit.  We saw a few other people that afternoon.  That night we had the ward Christmas party.  We had a couple investigators show up, which was awesome.  We had more people there than we do for Sacrament meeting.  Hopefully those people that don't normally come to church will start coming. 

Sunday we met with David and they fed us dinner.  We shared the Bearing our Burdens Mormon Message.  That was about it for our day.

Monday was an awesome day.  We got to learn from Elder Neilson of the 70 who is one of the heads of the Missionary Department.  I learned some really awesome things from him, his wife, and President Griffin.  First was President Griffin.  He took the allegory of the vineyard in Jacob 5 and made it into a parable and compared it to us and how the Lord sends us to where we need to be and who we need to be with for a specific reason.  We also are sent there at specific times or else our experiences would be completely different.  We are there at those specific times because it will be something we need to learn at that point in our life and service.  Then Sister Neilson talked about companions and how we can get along with them better.  It also is helping us learn how to spend the rest of our life with our Eternal Companions.  Elder Neilson first talked about how we are assigned to labor.  When choosing someone's mission call, one of the Apostles will pray and receive revelation on it.  Sometimes we are assigned to the mission, but he said that sometimes we are assigned to the Mission President and his wife.  For me I think that maybe I was sent to the Nashville mission for some specific reasons and then when the Apostle re-prayed over my assignment to switch Missions, I was assigned to the Griffins.  Still trying to work that one out.  He also taught us that our job as missionaries is to help connect people to Heaven, to help them receive revelation on their own through the scriptures, prayer, and coming to church.  He said that if he was to give us another name, it would be Inviters.  He told us that if he was to look up what words we used the most on our mission, one of them should be "will you...?"  He taught us on what we can do for finding and we were able to figure out some of the most effective ways to find people to teach.  Another thing I learned was that this gospel is a forward-looking gospel.  God doesn't reflect back on past mistakes and sins and nether should we.  The thing that stuck with me the most though was his comment about fear and faith.  He told a story about an Elder in his mission when he was serving in Finland and he told us that when fear is present, faith is gone, but when faith in Jesus Christ is present, fear can never exist.  That got me pumped and wanting to exercise more faith.  Fear only comes from the adversary and the only way to overcome it is to have faith that the Lord will help you.  As my dad would say, "F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real."  So that was about the extent of our meeting and so it was really cool to learn all of these awesome things and be re-energized and uplifted in the work.

Tuesday we went to the Richard's farm again.  Later we did some finding and handed out a ton of Light the World pass along cards; even when it was dark, rainy, and cold. 

So what has become of the world today in the holidays?  We all can see that everything is now more commercialized and we are forgetting the true meaning behind what we are celebrating.  If we break down Christmas, we get Christ and mas.  Mas in Spanish means more and so we need more Christ.  That is partly why I think the church came out with this great service program entitled Light the World.  We are all focused on getting other people gifts which is good, but do we remember to give our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ a gift?  When we serve others, we also serve God.  Serving others can be the gift we give to Him and to show our love.  It doesn't have to be anything big or complex.  Simplicity is key and even God delights in plainness.  It doesn't matter who it is either, the thing to remember is to just do it.  Show forth the Light of Christ within you and then we will have more Christ, not just during this time of the year, but always.  These things I leave with you in the name of He whose birth we celebrate now, Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

District & Zone Leaders 
NASCAR Bristol Speedway

Miss Rush's Dog

McKay Opening His Christmas Package Titled "Joy To The World, Nanaimo Bars Have Come"