Monday, October 29, 2012

Can't wait to go to Philippines!

Dear Family,
Hey everyone! How are you doing? This week has been pretty good! Nothing too major. I'm starting to understand a lot more of the language. I am speaking about 6+ hours a day. We've made a goal anytime that we are in our classroom that we have to speak Hiligaynon so that's what we do now. So it's actually super fun and I'm getting a lot faster and a lot better in the language.
Most of you know I have 2 "investigators". One is now committed for baptism and the other just got FINALLY committed for church. The one that is committed for church was SO hard to get to pray to know if the Book of Mormon or the Church was true. He said that he didn't WANT to know because he was already getting criticism from his friends and his children because he has change churches a few times already. He was Catholic, the Baptist, and currently 7th day Adventist. Hopefully soon to be a member of the LDS Church. Anyway, then our teacher said that we were done with the investigator and he have us new ones. Then he told us that this was a real investigator that he taught in the Philippines. It's kind of hard to explain the story and he can't really even explain it and here's why:
       So, when my teacher, Bro. Stokes, was in the field he met this guy. He wanted to know more about our church. So he gave him a Book of Mormon and a Joseph Smith pamphlet. After that they met with him and taught him a little more. He'd read a lot of the Book of Mormon he never would pray about it. They'd say okay do it tonight, he said that he would, but he never would pray to know if it was true. So, Brother Stokes, or Elder Stokes, after about 3 lessons of him not following through with praying during the lesson said, "We're going to have you pray right now to know if this is true." Not too much our of the ordinary. However, here at the MTC he's used this investigator twice for role plays. Both times the missionaries have challenged him to pray right in the middle of the lesson! Elder Evans and I, and also the missionaries before us. Is that totally weird! Without even knowing the back story or what really happened with this investigator we did the EXACT same thing. I think it's awesome. Who would've known. Our teacher, Bro Stokes, said that they actually ended up dropping him because he never actually did come to church. He doesn't know what happened to him at all. Too bad he's in IloIlo somewhere or I'd go find him and teach him so more.
I had a really good Sunday yesterday. There was a lot of things that I learned. Oh... I sang in Sacrament by the way, if anyone wanted to know. I did an Ocapella quartet with 3 others Elder's. "Abide with Me, tis Even Tide". Super good song. We didn't do super hot though, someone didn't know what their notes were (in the tenor section), but that's okay. The spirit was there and that's what matters right?! Right! We plan on getting better at it and trying out for a devotional, which is in front of ALL the missionaries here.

Some really good information! I complete the Book of Mormon on Saturday! How cool?? In 6 weeks cover to cover! :) It's such and amazing book and so many things about OUR DAY can be learned from it. I love the Book of Mormon. And it is a TRUE BOOK! If anyone has doubts I'd direct them to the Moroni Promise because that's what it's all about. If you read this book, and pray about it, there is a promise given that you will feel the power of the Holy Ghost manifest that it's true unto you. So I encourage you all to do that.
Congrats to Rob and Brock on their mission calls by the way! That's totally awesome! And thanks for forwarding me Elder Nickell's letter :) Elder Bice has also written me back. So I have been in contact with them. Is there anyway someone can get me Jordan Allen's address? Also thanks a lot for sending me those pictures. They're are soooo cool. Elder Garner seems to be doing really well. Thanks so much for the package. I have TONS of food, so y'all don't have to send me anymore of that haha. Just send letters. I love hearing from people. It's so much fun to hear what's going on out there. How's Utah State doing by the way? I have no idea what's going on, well obviously.
We get a new group of Hiligaynon speaking missionaries on Wednesday. We're so excited. Right now there are only 18 that speak it here at the MTC and it'll be nice to get more of them. So we're pretty excited for that. We've made a goal to only speak Hiligaynon to them. So that's good and it'll get them to learn a lot faster.
I love y'all! I miss y'all like crazy! Hope the dog is okay. OHHHH I have a question. Y'all said you sent me some pictures, but that only picture I got was of Sam, Coach Simmons, and some other soccer girls and a police officer, does someone wanna explain that one? Or did I get a wrong picture. So just let me know :) Thanks so much! I love you. Be good. Keep reading your scriptures and saying your prayers! When basketball season rolls around I want pictures okay? Love you!
Elder Ellis
Maeser boys heading to the Philippines

Snagged pics from his mission president.  No transporting laws in Philippines?

Cab anyone?

Another choice in public transportation.

And another choice in public transportation.

Mission President prepares home for Christmas.  These are made out of  oyster shells.  They have named them Ammon, Aaron, Omni, and Himner.
He's supposed to collect autographs from all his companions throughout his time as a missionary.

Elder Evans & Elder Ellis

Elder Ellis loves mail!  I see he got his new tie.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Book of Mormon comes alive!

Dear Family,
It's week 6 here at the MTC. They count the first Wednesday to Saturday as a week. But in all reality it's only been like a month and a few days I think. So... I still have some time here. But it's been great so far! How are things back home. Thanks so much for all the letters I've received this week! It's great to get mail, honestly, it is. Nothing that big or great has happened this week. I feel I sort of say the same thing every time in my email home, but I honestly just do the same exact thing from day to our. Our schedule from week 2-9 is the exact same. Elder Evans and I are doing great! It's been a great companionship and tons of fun.
Someone ask, I think it was Mom if I had an leadership positions. And the answer is... NO! haha. I am senior companion, but that doesn't really mean anything here. I'm not older than Elder Evans either, I think they just did it by last names. Mom how was your cruise by the way?? I hope you had a lot of fun!
Right now I'm in Helaman 3. I finished Alma finally! So I'll finish the Book of Mormon some time this week. It's been an amazing read and I'm learning so much. It's like a real life book now to me, I can picture it in my head! I love the war chapters of course, and just thinking about how much planning and preparation went into to Captain Moroni's plans and such. The stories are amazing and they're meant for our day. In church yesterday our Branch President was talking about I think Mormon, and said that Mormon saw our day and they were not the people of his times. They were an industrious people and that the book was meant for them. THAT'S US! It's really interesting actually I was reading a chapter in Mosiah last week and it's all about corrupt government and leaders (as is a lot of the Book of Mormon) and I was like, "WOW!" That's totally our day. Just some insight on the Book of Mormon this week.
My scheduled departure is November 19. I believe it's a Tuesday. I won't have my travel plans for about 3 weeks though, so I'll let you know when I do get them.
Here at the MTC they do something called TRC. Meaning, Teaching Resource Center. BYU students pretty much come, they're all RM's, and they talk to us and we teach them just a basic lesson, and sometimes we just talk to them about the culture and things and what to expect. Well... this week was super interesting. Elder Evans and I walk in (it's all in Hiligaynon by the way) and we're like "Kamusta" (hello), Taga Diin Ka (Where are you from), and such like that. The guy looks at us like we're crazy and then we said something in English I think we were wondering how to say a word or a phrase. Anyway, this guy was like, I don't speak English. Elder Evans and I were sort of puzzled and then said, oh, where do you go to school? He said somewhere in Negros. THE Philippines, on my island. So he was pretending to be a Filipino guy. And so we totally didn't really treat him like one because we're not supposed too. This place is just so that we can practice our language and such. After the lesson he pulls us aside and proceeds to tell us pretty much how we're not where we are supposed to be in the language and that we pretty much were terrible. I was sort of upset because our language was actually GREAT! Then we asked well, "where should we be right now with the language?" He then said there isn't really a comparison because he learned Tagolog in the MTC so we're already further along than he was. So Elder Evans and I were like, "are you being serious?" This guy was getting mad at us and he even said we already knew more than he did when he was 4 months into the field. I was a little upset by this situation and it really ruined my whole day. But y'all know me, I got over it the next day and proceeded to have an enjoyable time.
The MTC mission president last night just changed the dress code from Summer dress to Winter dress... Now we have to wear suits, EVERYDAY! I have ONE suit! :) As does the rest of my district. We're supposed to get them dry cleaned, but I guess we can't do that now, so we're all super confused as to what to do. Also by any chance y'all wanna send me like 3 more ties? I have enough purple ones. I'm in need of like a red tie. Just wondering. There are people that go around and try and get me to trade my ties, I just tell them to go away. They're pretty annoying.
The temple this morning was FANTASTIC! So amazing. I love the temple. I'm so glad that they let us Missionaries go while we're here. It's so much fun and I learn so much each time. Mom and Dad, you have a copy of my blessing, go read the 2nd to last paragraph. It's amazing and I love it so much!
I know that this church is true. I'm so grateful to be a missionary! This is honestly the happiest I've been my entire life. It's weird, because there are certain times where I'm just like... ugh get me to the Philippines already! But then I know that we're here for a certain amount of time to learn things. Although they're cutting it by 1/3 now. So starting in Jan. I'd only be here 6 week. Grrr... Oh well though. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. He was an AMAZING man. I've started to study him more and wow, I can't believe a lot of the stuff that happened. This IS THE TRUE CHURCH. I love y'all. Hope to hear from you soon! If you Dear Elder me now, I'll get it tonight. Love you guys so much and miss you! Keep reading and praying!
Elder Ellis
p.s: I hope everything is going great. Sorry this email is sort of lame, there's nothing that big that happened this week.

Week 5---Half-way to the Philippines!

Dear Family,
The dog has no front teeth? That's a bit weird! Tell her to stop and get smarter. Thanks for sending me the picture of my car. Please don't sell it, haha, I really like it. Thanks for putting new headlights in, they look pretty cool! How's Sam soccer season going? Pictures looked good! Sydney, look good as well. Keep up the good work. Ashlyn, you never wrote me this week so I have no idea what's going on with you. Is volleyball over yet? And when does Basketball start? Y'all gotta keep me updated! So Mom is enjoying her time on a cruise? That's nice! Hope she has fun. I get to go to the Philippines for 22 months, so i'm not going to really complain much. Thanks for the letter that you sent of Elder Garner and our mission president. Elder Garner is if I remember right 6'0 so that would mean that I'm going to be taller than the mission president too! Hoo-ray! Also there is a Filipino sister missionary on our floor where our classroom is and she is all of 4'10. I asked one of the missionaries in my district who is native Filipino, but lives in Orlando now is that normal. He said, "YUP!" So it look likes I'm going to be a giant, big, white guy on this island. SWEET! The Lord IS looking out for me after all!
On Tuesday Elder Bednar came to the MTC and spoke to us about how we liked conference? He said, "I hear nothing really that big happened here, and that you weren't screaming for excitement or anything." I guess he heard rumors that the MTC went CRAZY when they announced the new missionary age. He also spoke on how to study and how to actually STUDY the Book of Mormon and modern day scriptures like Conference Talks, Ensign, etc. It was really cool to have an apostle of the Lord come and speak to us. With the new missionary age time at the MTC is going to be cut 1/3. That would mean, if I would've gotten here in January of 2013, I'd be gone in 6 weeks rather than 9. So I would be leaving like... next week sometime. That'd be amazing. Oh well. I'm here and learning what I need to be learning. It's super super fun!
Elder Evans and I are doing great. Our companionship is growing strong each day. It's really fun to teach people and prepare lessons. Even though the people we teach are already members of the church, the spirit is still there when we teach them. My Hiligaynon is coming along fairly well too! It's a hard language, some of the things don't really make sense. Like you never say "do". So like, "Do you need to use the restroom?" is said like this, "Need you the CR?" It's really weird how they put together sentences. Also, CR means bathroom, it stands for "Comfort Room", which... is super funny. But they just say the word CR. But it's going to be great once I actually am fluent. I asked a couple return missionaries I see around here how long it took them to be fluent and they said well in the MTC we learned Tagolog so when I got there I didn't really know much, so it took me about 9 months. One other RM said about 6 months. That's with no Hiligaynon background at all. So I'm going to guess about 4 months if I work at it really hard. I'm working hard here on it too, there's just a lot of other stuff that we have to do as well.
My MTC Branch is Branch 54. My Branch President is President Hodges. He's super strict on rules, so that's probably a good thing for me. The only negative side to my branch is that it's a Portuguese branch. Before we got here everything was in Portuguese. So we kinda through everything off. We still give our talks in Hiligaynon, but now they do the sacrament and prayers and things in English so we all understand. Anyone going to the Philippines is in different branch's. I don't understand why, that's just how it is. So I learned some Portuguese. Like, "how are you?" and "hello!". Not much, but it's fun to talk to some of the people in my Branch.
Chad Lewis came and spoke LAST Sunday. I think I told y'all. But he said that he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and now I want to sometime in my life. So that's a new life goal I have. Climb that mountain! He also told us to Marry UP! Meaning, Marry someone better than you! Dad, you've always taught me that lesson too! Weird huh?
So is everyone at home reading their scriptures? I'm now in Alma 29! Trekking on through. It's super good. I've never gotten more out of the Book of Mormon than I have right now. Also another things, I read my Patriarchal Blessing this week and I learned probably 100 new things. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I now know a lot more. This morning in the Temple it was completely different because my Patriarchal Blessing tells me certain things about the temple and WOW it was a completely different experience than I have ever had before.
Ashlyn, prepare yourself now for you mission. Read the scriptures and say your prayers, A LOT! Make sure to pay attention in seminary because there are a lot of things that I learned at Seminary that are very useful here at the MTC. I guess I'll be home before you actually leave on your mission so that's going to be pretty cool! I'll guess Africa right now for you okay? Portuguese speaking! :) That's my guess.
I honestly just want to get to the Philippines so bad right now. Every night before I go to bed and I'm praying I pray for the Filipino people I'm about to go and teach. I pray that they will be prepared to accept the message that they're going to be taught. I'm super excited and I'm chomping at the bit to go. My ADD is kicking in pretty bad this week, but I'm trying my hardest to keep it at a minimum.
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church on this earth. Restored by God and Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith. I know that as we follow the example of Christ and try to become like he is, we will have true happiness. I know that families can be together forever. What a great message that our church teaches. The Book of Mormon is the words of the Prophets and the words of God and as we read it those thoughts become our thoughts. Like in Isaiah 55 when it says, "My ways are higher and your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts". Well how to do get God's thoughts into our lives. READ THEM! We read his thoughts and his words! And then they slowly will become our thoughts. I testify that Jesus Christ lives and that he atoned for us. He felt EVERY single pain that we go through. Hurt feelings, losing a basketball game, sin, pain, sickness, everything. He knows what it's like. And as I've prayed I've felt that the knows what I'm going through and reassures me everything is going to be okay! It's an awesome feeling. I love this church! I love this work. I'm so happy to be a missionary!
Elder Ellis
P.S: Sorry no pictures this week, nothing really happened that was worth picture taking. Sorry :) Love Y'all!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Conference at the MTC

Proud to be a Missionary!

Dear Family

Hey guys! How is everything going? This week was pretty fantastic. So many things went on and so many new experiences.
Did everybody like conference? I loved it! Can you believe the new missionary age? Is that just crazy!!! Ashlyn can pretty much go right out of High School right? Well, I guess a little bit of time, but that's totally amazing. The MTC started cheering and stuff, it was pretty wild. Arizona is also going to have a lot of temples by the time they're done announcing everything. 

Elder Evans is an amazing companion. I'm so glad I have him, and I love him! We're super similar in every way and so we get along SUPER well. I just want to share an experience we had teaching our investigator this week:

 We're teaching this woman named Geneva. She was actually our teacher, but you here we pretend they're real investigators. So we're about to teach her and right before we do we decide to say a prayer. After we prayed we found that we prepared the wrong lesson and that we should teach her about Eternal Families and how we can be with our families forever. So we did. She was SOO happy and we found the Family Proclamation in Hiligaynon on, and printed it off and challenged her to read it. She was so excited and so happy about our message. We go back 2 days later for another lesson and a strange woman answers the door. We said that we were looking for Geneva. The lady said... "There has been a terrible accident, Geneva has died during child birth." She was 9 months pregnant. Elder Evans and I were like, WHAT!? And we were so sad. We went back to class and the teacher (who was playing Geneva) said to us that this was a real story. It happened to her on her mission while she was in Bacolod. She then said that Elder Evans and I were exactly correct on what to teach her. And we had no idea. We didn't know that she NEEDED that lesson that we taught her, we just felt prompted that's that what we should teach. We came to the conclusion that sometimes you only get to teach someone one time. What if you get transferred, what if they move, what about a terrible accident. I and my companion realized that this work is real. Every single bit of it. We need to teach with the spirit. And ALWAYS be in-tuned to it. 
Elder Evans & Elder Ellis

I honestly love being a missionary. Saturday session of conference honestly made me want to just get out of the MTC and get to the Philippines! I love the Philippines so much!!!! I'm so happy and excited to serve! It's going to be an amazing experience. 

I know that this church is the simbahan matuod sang Diyos. (True church of God). I love being a missionary. I'm almost to Alma right now in my scriptures, this week has been a little different with conference and things. Ang Libro ni Mormon nga and Pulong sang Diyos. (The Book of Mormon is the word of God). It really is and we can seek divine revelation from it. I hope that everyone is doing well at home. How's the dog by the way? 

Mom, my ADD is doing okay. I have to just walk around sometimes and my legs start going nuts, but it's been better than I thought it'd be. Sitting in class for 3 hour segments isn't fun, but you know what? I'm learning sooooo much! I'm learning how to be a man and how to help others. I'm not here for me. I'm here for the Filipinos. 

Another thing I learned this week is that if we don't serve as a missionary and answer the call of duty, the people that were set out for us won't be able to hear the gospel when they could've and it's going to be all our fault! There salvation could've been helped by us! And because we didn't answer the call, it's on our head. Kind of scared me! But hey, I'm here right? So why should I be scared. With the Lord all things are possible. I love you guys and I miss y'all sooooo much. It's super fun to get letters from you. This week, those cookies were great!, and thanks for the food you guys sent me. Courtney also sent me some snacks, so I've got TONS! Thanks :) I love you guys. Keep reading your scriptures and praying for all the missionaries around the world. We need all the prayers that we can get. This work is so fun. Love y'all and stay strong :)


Elder D. Blakeman Ellis

Missionary Work is tiring!

Had to have a picture with the map!

Personal Study time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 2: MTC Update

 Elder Garner & Elder Ellis
 Elder Summers & Elder Ellis
 Loves to study outside.
Temple day!
ADD kicking in!
Dear Family,

How's everyone doing? I'm doing good. MTC life doesn't really change much. Sorry about the email that didn't go through last week. I uploaded to many pictures. Yes you can email me at this address. I can read them. I just can only respond to families. If anyone was wondering. But how y'all doin? I miss you guys! Okay, well here's an update:

We taught an "investigator", she was native Filipino. Her family still lives there and she was a referral from Salt Lake Mission. We taught her everything and committed her to baptism, then it turns out she's a fake and she's actually a return missionary from the Bacolod Mission. She goes to BYU and is married. So kind of a bummer, but in the end it taught us how to teach. The language is coming along pretty well. It's super fun to speak it in places where there are people because nobody has a clue what we are saying. I've got a really cool district. They're super awesome and fun! And they make learning the gospel fun.

The food isn't anything special for those who are wondering. I know Ashlyn was. I can only write letters and access my email on P-day, so just so everyone knows that. Yes I do get ALL the Dear Elders. Thanks so much for sending them. And keep them coming. I love mail. Okay, here's how Dear Elders work; If you send them before noon, I should get them that night. If you send it after I will get it the next day. Also I can't read them till 9:30 at night when I return to my room. They don't deliver them on Saturday's. I don't know why that's just what they do. So I can't get anything, but hand written letters on Saturdays.

This week we've been learning so much HIligaynon. I sit in the same class for hours!!!! a day! Literally hours. In the same desk starring at the same walls. It's depressing sometimes, but honestly it's fun to learn all this stuff. My Branch consists of a bunch of Portuguese speakers and before that's what they were doing sacrament in, but since we got here they changed it to English for us. So that's a good thing because I don't speak that. Our branch is super cool, everyone is super nice here and very supportive. 

Thanks for the care packages! I love them so much. It's fun to get packages. And thanks for the butterfingers, I guess it's a good thing that I told you that was my favorite candy before I left huh? Oh I got a cupcakes from Courtney this week! They were soooo good. And also my district loves me now for that. haha. Kind of funny! My district is awesome. Everyone is kinda the same, it's weird. There's an Aggie in my district too! So it's nice to talk about. We've got some of the same friends. 

Well keep the packages and things coming. Nothing really changes in the MTC! It's the same daily thing, just more language. This week we start teaching new investigators, 2 of them actually. We don't start teaching till tonight, so I don't know how that's going to go yet. But the language is coming along pretty well! 

My 1st companion is Elder Moore, he's from Brigham City. Wrestled in High school. Is about 5'2. Not kidding. haha. My other comp is Elder Robertson. He's from Sataquin, also wrestled in high school. So it gets pretty heated about wrestled conversations sometimes. I just bring up basketball and they're like... huh? Elder Garner and I have the same gym time and we ball up all these other kids. It's super fun just because we know each other and how we play so we usually waste. There are some really good kids though. 

So you've been canning apples??? Are they good? Apple jelly won't do much for me. I can't really do anything with it. 

I love you guys. Keep sending letters :) I like getting them. Read your scriptures! I'm in Mosiah Ch. 6 right now. Started 2 weeks ago. Let's race okay? Ready....... GO!


Elder Ellis

p.s I'll try and send pics. That's why my email didn't go through last week. Tried to send to many.