Monday, April 10, 2017

Guided By The Spirit 3-20-17

Some pretty cool things happened this week regarding the Spirit.  Each experience is different in it’s own way because, well, the Spirit works in many different ways.  Also, a quick note; we have another investigator on date for baptism on Apr. 8.  This man, Lee, has been investigating for 13 years now and has finally come to have a testimony of the Restored Gospel.  He knows and accepts everything so we are looking forward to it.

The first thing I want to share with you happened last Friday.  I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with a newer missionary who is in my District, Elder Battad.  He is a great guy who is still learning the ropes, but will be a great missionary.  We had a rough-ish day and had experienced quite a bit of antagonism.  Some of it was stupid little things like people told us that the picture of Christ we wanted to give them wasn't Him and how He didn't look like that.  We received a lot of criticism in general and were even asked if we would join a Baptist church.  When we tried to answer the question, the man kept interrupting us until he shut the door in our faces.  It was a little bit of a discouraging day because we had done so much finding and had only found one new investigator (which was still great of course).  However, at the very end of the day we had an amazing experience.  

We knocked on the door of a man in his 60’s who lived alone.  We introduced ourselves and said why we were there.  He said that we should probably move on because he worked for a Christian radio station for 7 years and had talked to many different preachers.  He said he would always ask questions that he wanted answers to, but no one was ever able to do it.  So I said, "Well sir, I guarantee that we will have answers to your questions that no one else will."  So he said fine and asked us a question we would all like to know and have a better understanding of:  Where did God come from?  Did He just appear or what?  Well, we told him unfortunately that is one question we don't know the answer to.  He said, "See, you can't answer my questions."  I said we can answer a lot, just not that one.  So he decided to give it one more try before we left.  He asked us, "If God is such a loving Father, then why would He condemn one of His children to Hell forever?  That's like a parent telling their child they can't leave their room forever."  So I explained the whole thing, mainly because Elder Battad hasn't had too much experience with this yet and didn't know how to go about it.  I told him about our belief in the three Kingdoms of Glory and how a loving Father in Heaven provided a way for us to live in a wonderful place that will be comfortable to us.  I explained a lot more about it, but it was a 20 minute conversation so that’s a lot to write.  In the end, we were able to answer his question, which was awesome and I tried to see if we could come back and answer more of his questions.  He declined the offer so I tried giving him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet that I used to teach him.  He said that we might be short one sometime so we should not give it to him.  Well, both Elder Battad and I knew he was worth it and we would never be short one so I left it on his porch anyways.  Haha - I'm so sneaky.  

Afterwards as we were walking back to our car, Elder Battad said that he could feel the Spirit and that he had learned a lot from that experience.  I knew when I looked back on it that it was not me doing the talking, but that the Spirit was working through me.  I don't think I even had to pause or use a filler word, which definitely means the Spirit was there because that is something I am constantly working on.  

Another great experience we had was with the Drake family.  I was leading the lesson and before I even started it, we were already discussing a principle of the gospel that the family definitely needed to hear, especially the daughter.  We talked about the principle of forgiveness.  The commandment is to forgive everyone, no matter who they are or what they have done.  We also need to forgive ourselves for anything we have done.  That one can be hard, but it is doable.  We then lead into the Plan of Salvation and incorporated the Atonement and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  This is another example of how the Lord will direct these lessons the way they need go to so it can benefit His children.  The daughter has had a trouble with keeping her commitment to read and when I followed up this time, she couldn't remember what she had read, but she did read and she said it was one of the best night’s sleep she has had in a long time.  So cool!  Another great experience of the power of the Book of Mormon.

Lastly, we had a Zone Conference, which is always awesome, but was a little boring for me this time because I had already heard the trainings in our MLC meeting, but I still learned some new things.  President Griffin was finishing his training and he had pointed out an Elder that was going home and talked about how fast your mission experience goes.  That impressed upon me how my time is coming to an end here in a few months.  I reflected upon my mission so far and thought about the time I have left.  I want to leave it all out on the field with no regrets at the end.  I want to make sure every day I work so hard that when I lay down in bed at night, I know that I did everything I could for my Savior that day.  I have had a glorious time so far and it only gets better.  I don't know if I have ever felt so happy before.  Even with the frustrating bad moments it is still good.  I have learned things I never would have learned before.  I still have a lot to learn and I look forward to that too.  The impression I got was to make sure I keep doing my best each and every day.  This is the third way the Spirit works; through the impressions and revelations you receive that will help you and will give you that motivational push you need.  The Lord wants you to do your best and He will help you with that through the Spirit.

Quick note: there is a lot more meaning to the hymn Nearer My God To Thee.  If you want to learn more, go study Genesis 28 and compare the lyrics with those verses.  You also might need to do some study on the story in that chapter.

I leave these things with all of you whom I love in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Tracting In The Rain
Helping some Senior Couples Move a New Apartment in Our Zone

Lunch After the Move

Tracting With E. Battad

Name That Tune

Friday, April 7, 2017

Exchanges For Days! And Dates! 3-13-17

So this week I am going to switch up my weekly email and see how it goes.  To give a little briefing; we drove to Knoxville twice this week.  We had 2 exchanges with the Chatt Valley Elders and the APs.  We also have a family on date for baptism April 1st.  No, it is not an April Fool’s joke.  They are an awesome family.  A little funny thing though about them.  We have had about 5 lessons with them in the past few weeks since I have been here and I have only got to teach them for 1 of those.  It's just the way it goes when we have exchanges and team up splits with members.

So some cool things happened this week.  On Tuesday we had a lesson with the Drakes.  I was going to it with a member and I had no idea what I was supposed to teach for the lesson.  We said a prayer and during the prayer I had the thought to do a testimony meeting.  The husband and wife are members and the daughter is not.  The wife is recently baptized so we are working with both of them.  We started out by reading Alma 7 and then we started talking about baptism.  I asked both of the parents what it meant to them to have the gospel in their lives.  They both gave good testimonies and so did the member I had with me.  We turned our focus more onto the girl at this point and we talked to her about some of her concerns.  In the end, I was able to bear my testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon.  It was one of the most powerful lessons I have been in.  The daughter is not quite ready, but I think she felt something and made some progress.

Another thing that happened this week was when I was watching the Youth Face to Face with Elder Holland and President Eyring.  They talked about prayer one time and I took some of the things that they said and applied them.  I have tried to say my prayers by kneeling upright.  Not leaning on or over anything.  And before I even start praying, I sit there and wait until I feel ready to approach the throne of God.  Then at the end of my prayer I stay kneeling upright for a time, just listening.  Having my mind clear and just trying to focus on the Spirit and any impressions I receive.  The first time I did this I saw a huge change and I have done it ever since.  A lot of times we say our prayers and then just move on.  A prayer is a conversation and it isn't much of a conversation if we just talk and don’t listen for a response.  We talk and then He talks.  I encourage all of you to try it.  It makes a huge difference.  I would also encourage you to take a question you have to church and pray about it during the Sacrament and then listen to the talks and lessons given.  I did that for a question I had and during the Sacrament I received my answer through the scriptures.  A scripture came to my mind after my little prayer and it was definitely the answer I was supposed to receive.  Church is the best place to receive revelation.

I love you all and leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

Learning to Play My Ukelele

The District

Nice View


E. Leahman Returned for a Visit

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Building Up Trust 3-6-17

So this week was a little bit of a rough week.  We had some good things happen, but it just didn't seem like we had much going for us this week unfortunately.

Monday it was only our District at the church for P-day.  We played a bunch of different games and sometimes had jam sessions on the ukuleles and the piano.  That night we tried a few people, but nothing was going.  We did have a cool experience though.  We had to watch our miles on the car while we tried a former.  It was the last person we were going to be able to try before we went home.  He wasn't home, but his neighbors were moving.  It was dark and late and so we went over to see if they needed help and sure enough, we were able to help them move some of the bigger things.  It was cool to see how the Lord provided us with something to do because we were out trying to work.

Tuesday we had District Meeting.  It down poured that day too.  We haven't had a rain like that in a long time.  Well God is good because the rain stopped right as we started proselyting.  We saw Clyde and read from the Book of Mormon with him.  After him we did a bunch of finding and found a few potentials.  That night, since we are now covering the YSA, we went to Institute which was super good.  It was really awesome to see a few people from back when I was here the first time.

Wednesday was an interesting day with lessons.  We had 3 lessons that were more about facts and information.   We had 2 lessons where we used one of the Official Declarations from the church in each one.  That afternoon we went with the Senior couple to see a couple YSA members.  That night we went to our recent converts and had an awesome lesson based off of 2 Nephi 31.

Thursday we did a lot of finding, but had a super cool experience though.  As we were tracting, we came to a four way stop.  Elder Smith asked, "Which way, boss?"  I said, "Press forward."  So we kept on going straight, but before we got to the first house, I had a thought, "No, we need to go right."  I am working on following promptings, even if it might just be my thoughts, but it is something good.  So we went right.  Well nothing really happened the whole 2 hours we were tracting until we accidentally knocked on a member’s home.  We talked briefly and said a prayer with them.  After the prayer, the husband said, "I know why you are here. You can help give my son a blessing."  His son was sick so we got to give him a blessing.  It was super cool because in the blessing he was told he would be feeling better in a couple days and this Sunday the whole family was there.  It was super cool.

Friday we did exchanges with the Dayton Elders.  I was with Elder Charles.  We did finding all day.  Highlight of the day; I got the cops called on me again and we got kicked out of a neighborhood for soliciting even though we aren't solicitors.  We left before the cops arrived.

Saturday was another lame day.  We weekly planned.  Then we drove to downtown Chatt to contact some YSA, but nothing happened.  It was in the projects, but since it didn't work out, we went to my old apartment.  We went and walked the Walking Bridge and the streets of downtown.  Felt like home.  It was funny to see that when we were walking in the projects, I was not walking through with the confidence I used to have.  It's weird how that went away after being gone 3 months.  As we were walking through we passed some kids playing and a little girl yelled and pointed at us, "CRIMINALS!"  That was pretty funny.  Also, not racist in any way, just for your information, the projects in Downtown Chattanooga are all black people.  So she probably called us that because we were white or maybe just for fun.  Boy, after being in the projects and driving through the streets that I used to bike everyday, I sure do miss that area and the wonderful people there.

Sunday we are back to the all-day church now that we have the YSA.  My old investigator Olivia was there so that was cool to see her again.  We had a Linger Longer afterwards.  I also got to see former Elder Leahman again.  He came back to tour his mission with his parents so that was really cool.  That was about it for this week.

Well, to talk about my title briefly, this week may have been rough and hard and trying and testing, but it was all things for the Lord to see if He can trust us with someone He has prepared right now. We will keep working through the tough times, but we know that this is how the Lord builds His trust in us.  The same goes for all of us not just in missionary work.  The Lord puts us through things to see what choices we will make based on what happens.  If we can keep pressing forward and keep the faith, then we will be rewarded with blessings.  So DON'T LOSE HOPE!  If you start to lose hope and maybe make wrong choices, always look to the Savior for help and He will give it to you.  I love you all and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ellison

We Made A Jesus Wall

The Walking Bridge At Night
My Old Apartment

Selfie Status:  Missionaries

Saturday, April 1, 2017

18 Months, Oh Boy! 2-27-17

Well, time has just flown by.  I have now served the equivalent of a Sister Missionary’s mission.  I am ready for these next 6 months and it is going to be a lot fun and hard work.  My goal is to not start dying off at the end, but to be sprinting through to the finish.

Monday we had P-day with our District and a couple other Elders came down too.  We just did a bunch of fun stuff except we started it off by doing the Tampico challenge.  The challenge is to be the first one to finish a gallon of Tampico.  [Mom's Note:  DO NOT try this at home - most people don't realize it is dangerous and can actually kill people - For Real!]  Well, only a few got somewhat close and those few either puked or almost puked.  It was hilarious.  That night we had a Restoration lesson with a lady named Makeeta (pronounced Markeeta).  Then we had to stay up super late to plan our trainings for Zone Training Meeting.

Tuesday we had Zone Training Meeting.  We also, because of his new schedule, had interviews with President Griffin.  It was a quick one for me.  So I gave my first training and I was so nervous.  Doesn't help that I was not at the training where they were taught about the things I had to teach.  Plus we didn't train on anything doctrine related, it was just on the Mission President's new schedule. Then we had a District Leader meeting after that, but we did get a perk.  It was Sister Griffin's birthday so at lunch we got some birthday hugs.  Well after that we cleaned up and then went and got some ice cream.  We did some finding and then did splits.  I went to a less-active’s home for a Home Teaching visit.

Wednesday we did a bunch of "former" clean up.  Then we had a lesson with a guy named Chester.  It went pretty well.  Then we went and had a lesson with the Drakes.  We watched the Restoration video and then talked about it.

Thursday we did weekly planning.  Then we just did a bunch of finding.  At the end of the day we helped the Drakes move into their new place by moving some furniture.  Also today I got my shoe bit by a Chihuahua. That is the closest it has gotten to getting my skin.

Friday we did exchanges and I went with Elder Clavin.  We started out with a pretty good lesson with a guy named Samuel.  Then we did some tracting.  After lunch we headed out to the Drakes again to move in some more stuff for them.  Since it was so far out, we did some tracting while we were there, but it did not bring forth much fruit.  Seeds were planted, but that was all.  In the ending we had much more success when we got 3 potentials in about 30 minutes.

Saturday was a boring day.  We started out helping someone move and then most of our day was spent putting together Stake Correlation numbers.  At the end of the day we had a lesson with a less-active that is in the YSA.  We just shared a quick thought and got to know her, especially now that we cover the YSA.  I'm excited to get them back.

Sunday we had church and had a couple people show up.  Then later we tried to stop in on some people, but no luck so we went to the Church of God of Prophecy.  They were having a cultural event so it was just a bunch of singing and dancing.  It was pretty good, just not something you would see in the chapel of our church.  Afterwards we talked with some of them and they were really nice people.  They even gave us a welcome at the event.

So my thought today is going to be brief.  It is a quote that came from Elder Smith's training he did by himself in Zone Training Meeting.  He was talking on happiness and this is a quote he came up with on his mission.  "Success never brings lasting happiness, but lasting happiness always brings success."  I hope that sticks with you as much as it did to many of us.  Have a wonderful week y'all.  I love you all.

Elder Ellison

Moving a Bed Redneck Style - Yeah, We Helped

E Smith and I Riding in Style