Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Victorias!

Dear Family,

Hello! I'm in the Philippines now. It's nice to be here. As you know yes it's hot, humid, rainy, all of the above. Besides that point it's really nice here. I'm in the northern part of the island; Cadiz Zone. My area is Victorias. I'm serving in the 2nd Ward. Our area is quite huge. There's sooooo many houses! I love it here. I live in a two story house, no AC, has a ref and stove, we sleep on the floor because it's too hot upstairs, so we bring our mattresses down to the first floor. It's sort of like our living room. Our house is very dirty, but I've been told it's one of the nicest houses in the mission. It's exclusively for missionaries. A member owns the house, so we see him often.

Thursday was my first day here (in the mission home). President Lopez let us sleep in because we didn't start our training meeting until noon. However with the time change we still got up at 6am. So we got up and got dressed and things. The mission home apparently just got renovated, so it was very nice. Air-Con and all! For breakfast we ate fresh mangoes, bananas, banana bread, cinnamon roll, and MILO :) So good! Then I was handed a package from Courtney haha. Every one's like, "you already have a package" SO FUNNY! So thanks Courtney for the package! Then we walked around the barangay (or neighborhood) and saw what it had to offer. It was hot haha. Then we went back to the mission home and ate Thanksgiving. Turkey, potatoes, pretty much standard Thanksgiving food. No stuffing, we had rice instead LOL!

After Thanksgiving I got assigned my companion. His name is Elder Doverte. He's from Luzon, which is northern part of Manila area. He does speak English, so that's been a blessing honestly. My language is okay, I'm understanding more each day, but I can't really talk much. I can talk, but the only problem is I don't know what they say back to me, so it's a bit weird. Thursday he showed me around Victorias and I really liked it. Nice city. Okay, nice in terms of 3rd world. But still, I like it here. Elder Doverte is 26. A convert to the church at age 19, so he's a really great guy. Fluent in Illango and Tagolog. So it's nice to have him around. I'm a lot taller than most people here! Kinda cool, but I do stick out like a sore thumb.

Friday was my first full day. Woke up did all the good missionary stuff, during the first 12 weeks you get an extra hour of companion study for language and practice teaching lessons so we left the house around 1. We went to a place called Ditching. SOOO Far away. My Tri-ci-cab it's about 15 min. And Dad, it's like Jamaica... no rules on the road. I usually ride on the side of the cab, not really inside. It's too small for my American legs. We taught some recent converts out in Ditching and then went to Cane Town. Yes, a lot of Sugar Cane! The whole island smells like fire! So, I think Dad can relate a lot to it. Friday night we talked with the ward mission leader, His name is Jon. He's 19 and leaves for a mission in 1 week to Luzon, up by Manila. His mom served a mission and speaks English. The people here are shy to speak to me in English because they think that they are going to speak bad or something. Honestly right now I don't care. I love people who speak English to me.

Saturday was another good day. I was a witness at a baptism. It was really nice. The spirit was so strong. So that was fun. Then we went to the plaza because I had to buy some soap and shampoo. So that was fun. It was super hot, so I bought a sprite. Instead of giving me the bottle, they put it in a zip-loc "ish" bag and then gave me a straw to drink out of it so they could reuse the bottle. So that was interesting. After that we went and taught some more. Tracting isn't allowed here as you know, so we teach a lot of inactives and part-member families. That was fun.

Sunday was Sunday. Our church starts at 8:30 (Priesthood) so that was fun. There was 7 people in Priesthood including Elder Doverte and I, so that was interesting. They sing so loud though, so the spirit is super strong there as well. Then we had Sunday School. They try to teach in English, but sometimes they can't really say what they're trying to say, so they just Speak Illango. I understand some of it. Then I spoke in Sacrament. In Illango. Just my testimony and introduced myself. So that was fun. The members here at SO NICE! True Latter-Day Saints. Not fake ones. They're so nice! SO nice! I've been fed like 4 times already. One of them was fish, and we know how I am with fish... so I just prayed that I wouldn't throw up. So that was a blessing I didn't. But I ate what was on my plate. Oh, the head was still on it and everything, so that was nice :) Last night we taught the Demandar family. They're planning on going to the temple in 2 weeks to Cebu. They don't have electricity in their house so we taught by candle light, so that was fun. Great experience. I was able to share a scripture with them in Mosiah 2:6 about the temple and how to be focused on the temple. So that was a great lesson.

So some things that I want to share. The first night I was hear I saw a woman "feed" her baby. I knew it was going to happen sometime I just didn't think on my first day. Tapos, I like the no TP thing :) 3rd, when I got here we have zero investigators and as of right now we have 3! So that's awesome :)

I really love it here! The people are great. The food actually isn't that bad, except that fish, but that's okay! I'll get used to it. Everything is good and dandy here in Victorias. It's supposed to be the nicest area... so I'd honestly hate to see what the other areas look like you know? For who ever is reading this Elder Garner is in my district! I'm sitting next to him writing this email. So that's pretty cool I've finally got to see him. Tomorrow is district meeting so I'll get to see him tomorrow too. He's the Zone Nurse LOL! NURSE! HAHAHAHA! So that's good. I'll try to send pictures but I'm not sure... we'll see what I can do.

If you could add 2 people to your emailing list for me that'd be great. The first if Adams Stokes ( and the next the Sister Scott ( They were my teachers at the MTC. Sister Elwood was the first to teach the Demandar family and so it's cool that I've heard of her before now and now I get to sit in her home and talk with her.

Thanks for everything family. Your support is great. This is honestly so much fun! :) Hard, but fun!

Love y'all SOOOO MUCH!

Elder Ellis

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving with a new Trainer

  Study Time  

Must study before they eat

New November 2012 Batch

Thankful to the President and Sister Lopez and all the senior couples for providing Thanksgiving!

Elder Ellis & Elder Marble enjoying their first Thanksgiving in the Philippines
Time to meet the trainers

Elder Ellis & Elder Doverte

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

First letter from Mission President

Dear Brother and Sister Ellis,

We warmly welcome your missionary, Elder Douglas Blakeman Ellis , to our Philippines Bacolod Mission. He arrived safely and in good spirit.

My wife and I will love your missionary as our own child. It is my desire to assist your missionary to reach his missionary potential.

Kindly take note of the following:

1. You may add me as a friend on Facebook (Marlo Oliveros Lopez) to give you a photo perspective of our mission. I should be posting pictures of our missionary soon.

2. The postal service here is not very reliable. Packages may not be able to reach its destination.

3. The first 90 days is usually the most difficult period of his missionary labors. I encourage you to email our missionary consistently and include uplifting and encouraging messages from the family members.

4. I need your assistance in encouraging our missionary to be exact in his obedience to the mission rules. Obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings miracles.

Our heartfelt gratitude for sharing your missionary with us. I promise that I will take good care of him . Aloha!

President Marlo Oliveros Lopez

Arrival in the Philippines

Dear Family,

 I've been given a sec to write really quick, so that's what I'm going to do. I made it safely and all is well! This place is amazing! So much SUGAR CANE! All is well and everything is fine. We all had to pay for additional baggage fee's so if you see 100 bucksish pop up on my account that is why. I don't know what time it is back home. It's 4:15pm here right now. So you're probably sleeping :) Love you guys soooo much! Hope all is well. I'm going to like it here a lot. It's hot, humid, and smells like fire everywhere from burning sugar cane, but I couldn't be happier. I know this is the place the Lord has sent me to be. So here I am. Now it's time to get some work done. I spend tonight in the mission home, tomorrow I have training with my trainer, then I get to go to work. So happy. Super happy in fact. Love y'all! island!

Can I help you?
Bacolod-Siley airport

Can I take this jacket off now?  It's a little hot here.

Do I have everything?

New recruits

Sister Lopez, Elder Ellis, & President Lopez

New Foreign MTC missionaries arrived! Nov 20th
All the luggage arrived too.  Blake's is far right with silver.

First meal

Now I see why Filipino people are small...look at the portion size.

Elder Ellis

Monday, November 19, 2012

And We're Off!

Dear Family,

Kamusta pamilya ko? Tani Maayo gid. I'm good over here. Well, I fly out today! I'm super excited. This week has been great. A lot of boosters that are getting me ready to go to the field. Sam Nickell sent me a package. Courtney's family sent me a bunch of food! That was great... and cookies. Oh cookies. Okay, so I wonder if you guys actually think about this, but a lot of missionaries gain weight here at the MTC because we eat and sit, study, sit, sleep, repeat, with an 50 min of gym a day. So at the end of TWO MONTHS... I've only gained......... 2 pounds. Most elders gain like 10-15, there's one in our zone who gained 30. So I'm rather proud. I worked super hard at gym so that I wouldn't gain weight. haha. I spent a lot of last night packing and I get all day today too to write and pack and make sure everything is good to go. I hope that all is well with y'all. The Lord will take care of me, so don't stress out too much.
Angel Moroni

Practicing getting water from the rain gutter

Elder Ellis, Brother Stokes, and Evans
Elder Ellis & Evans--temple day

Elder Evans (his visa didn't come through yet, so he has to stay a little extra time at the MTC.

Elder Carlson from Logan

I'm going to miss my companion a lot. Elder Evans and I have become super great friends and I can't wait to go back to school and be friends with him again. Nothing that big really happened this week. We had an all day workshop called "In Field Orientation" and that was just... super fun. Not really, but I understand what they were trying to say. It's just sort of like things we already learned and a recap of the MTC experience. I'm super excited to get to my island though.
I leave the MTC at 4:30. I'm not sure exactly what happens. Oh... I almost forgot to tell you. So you know how my district is half IlloIllo and half Bacolod. All the same language just an island apart. Well, only the Bacolod Elders got their Visa's. So happy! So my companion isn't leaving today and neither is half my district. I'm traveling with a bunch of Elders and a few sisters going to Tacloban and Manila and Quezon city though. And some Japanese Elders and Sisters too, so there's going to be quite a few of us on this plane. I'm super excited. I'm actually excited to talk to y'all. So I'll do my best to call. I bought a calling card here for $5 that I should be able to call international with, so I'm going to try and use that if I can to save you some money rather than call collect. Hong Kong is going to be interesting.
Elder Johnson (Holladay, UT) and Elder Ellis

Elders Ellis, Mariano (Cebu), and Evans


So I hope that all is well back home. I don't have much to write and I want to be able to say things to you tonight. So I'll hopefully be able to call in SLC and LAX. The international terminal in LAX is nuts, so I hope that all is okay. Some elders here got like pay as you go phones sent to them and they're just going to ditch them once they get to Manila. So I might be able to use one of the Elders and just use my calling card on it because I know to call from a payphone with it has an initial charge that's pretty high. All will be well though. I'm not worried and neither should you be.
What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving? Anything fun? HEY isn't there a basketball game tomorrow? Tell the guys I said good luck! Nate sent me a letter and it was really good to hear from him. I also got all your letters that said not to read them until I was on the plane, so I shall do that. I'm not sure what they say, maybe if I did I'd have more to write.
I love you guys. Thanks for everything you did for me here at the MTC. I'm going to miss you so much. I already do miss you. But I'm needed in the Philippines! So I'm so excited! I love you all and I know y'all will take care. Be good. and Mom, don't worry about me :) I'm going to okay! :)

Elder Ellis

MTC District with Brother Stokes from Stafford, VA

Ugly tie day!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Last Week at MTC!

Dear Family (and whoever else reads these things),
How is everyone doing?? I'm doing fantastic! I've got my flight plans! Ready... here you go:
     I leave Salt Lake City (Delta 1211) at 8:30pm! I arrive at LAX at 9:28pm (in Cali time). I leave LAX (Cathay Pacific Airways 881) at 12:05am(November 20) and arrive in Hong Kong at 7:40am(November 21). I literally skip a Tuesday! From Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific Airways 901) I leave at 9:30am (November 21) and arrive in Manila at 11:15am. I leave Manila (Philippine Airlines 137) at 1:55 and get into Bacolod at 3:15.
I'll hopefully call you from SLC, but I might be rushed for time because we leave the MTC at 5:00pm I think. "ish"... But If not SLC, definitely LAX! Are y'all sending me a calling card?
So there you have it!!! I'm going to my Island Finally!!! :) I'm super stoked!
Okay, so Ash made Varsity!!!! HECK YEAH! That's my sister right there! You must keep me updated on her season, have her email me, that's allowed ya know :) I'd be nice to hear how her season is going. Sam... what happened at Futsol? (Is this Maeser or Celtic) And y'all already went Christmas shopping? That's crazy... you've always done that though. Congrats to Brother Halladay on the win! Ash created a memes page! That's sooooo cool!!! I haven't gotten anything from Sam Nickell... what is she sending me? I guess today is a National Holiday or something, so NO MAIL! That's the worst day ever! My p-day and there's no mail. This is the 2nd time that's happened since I've been here. Oh well :( Tomorrow I guess.
Okay, so if anyone write me and dear Elders me, FRIDAY! Is the last day that is possible. No dear Elders on Saturday and Monday.  Our district leader leaves in the morning because he's in the IloIlo mission, so there's no way to get mail. So anything sent to me need to come by Friday. Or, just email me. That's okay too.
If I might make a request: There was a backpack, a black one, not being used that was in the basement. It was brand new and I asked whose it was and everyone said they didn't know. May I have it please?? I want to travel with a backpack because I can put more things in it. So if that's possible thanks so much :) You'll be getting a box sometime this week from me with some stuff in it that I don't need so be prepared for that :)
Okay, this week its really been the same. Just getting a little nervous, but not too much actually. I'm getting quite excited. I'm trying as hard as I can at the language and it's really been good. I bought a Book of Mormon at the Bookstore, just the hard back one, and I'm gonna try and place it while traveling, we'll see what happens there. I'm not sure what's going to happen once I get to Manila, so don't worry about me, hopefully I'll email you or something and let you know I'm okay, but I'm not sure on that. Just know that I'll be fine and the Lord will take care of me. I'm in Alma 30 right now in the Book of Mormon. I had my exit interview with my Branch Pres. yesterday and he said I'm good to leave... thank goodness :) haha.
Will someone give me an update on Elder Garner? I still have yet to get anything, except pictures (thanks momma!) So just let me know. I wanna know how he's doing with the language, investigators and the culture. Thanks a million for everything y'all do! Wish me luck. I'll be able to email next week so if you can't write me before Friday, email me and I'll get it next Monday.
The Church is true! It really is! Jesus Christ lives! I love this gospel. I love y'all! Be good and safe okay? Put in some prayers for me if ya would, I'd appreciate that! Love you guys!
Elder Ellis
This is what happens when you have ADD and you've been cooped up in the MTC for 8 weeks.

First snow as a missionary!

Rock Star or in pain?

Cool Elder!

Closest thing to a snowman in the MTC.

Snowball fight anyone?
Philippines Bacolod Mission :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Travel Plans Coming Soon!

Dear Family,
This week has flown by and I'm not sure really what to say. It's difficult because I think I know what to say, then I get to the computer and I have no clue. The language is good. I'm just keeping on going through with it. It's fun actually now because I'm starting to get a little better. I can usually say what I want here at the MTC. I've challenged myself, made a goal, and wrote it down (because that's the biggest part) to speak only Hiligaynon. There was a point last week when I went for about 4 straight hours of speaking it. I know that I can do it, it just gets really hard when there is something that I want to say so bad, but I'm just not sure how, then I say one thing in English, and then... more English comes out. So, right now I'm going to try and do Hiligaynon only.
How is everyone at home? Mom, sorry about the Halloween issues at school. You know how parents are there. Just do your best and ignore them. I mean, Halloween isn't really a holiday, it's a tradition. So no big deal, you should be okay :) Glad to hear that all the sports are going great! Fun to see you guys doing so well. Basketball should be starting soon right? Ashlyn, sit in a chair and dribble the ball between your legs without looking. It'll help with ball control and knowing where the ball is without seeing it. That was a good thing that I did, also the spider drill. Youtube it and that will help you as well. Sam, do you do winter sports? Or is futsol starting up soon? How's Syd's gymnastics going?
Well, I should be getting my travel plans sometimes this week. Probably Thursday or Friday. I'm super stoked and can't wait to get to the Philippines. I have no idea what to expect, but I know that the Lord will take care of me. My prayers are getting a lot better and I'm learning more and more each day about myself. I love this work. Yesterday in fast and testimony there was an Elder who said that our job is probably the greatest job that we can ever have right now! I was thinking to myself, YEAH! This is a super amazing job. Then last night when one of the members of the District Presidency spoke, he said that we missionaries now are going to be the ones that are going to train the upcoming missionaries! I'm pretty excited, but I guess we'll see how that goes.
Does anyone know how Elder Garner is doing? I have no contact with him, so if someone would let me know that'd be great. This morning in the temple I saw Bennett Forward! I was in the locker room and I was like, DUDE! How you doing? Anyway, it was good to see him. Also this week one of my Utah State buddies got here and I ran into him, Greg Jensen, well Elder Jensen now. It's really nice to see friends in here making great decisions to serve the Lord. I"m glad that I made the decision and I wouldn't have it any other way.
So last week I told you that I finished the Book of Mormon and I've already started over. I'm in Alma 4 now. Hopefully will finish by the time my plane lands in Manila. The Book of Mormon is great. It's also a great tool. Something I learned this week about the Book of Mormon is that before Joseph Smith was given any other instruction on what to do, he was to translate the Book of Mormon first. I never knew that, but it makes sense! The Book of Mormon is so essential to our investigators. Also, I never read 1st Nephi like the way I was taught on last Tuesday. They said, your investigator is reading 1st Nephi for the 1st time; What are they going to learn? Well, when I broke it down: Faith, God gives us Prophets, God is real, Visions, Revelation, Families are important to God, ETC. ALL IN THE FIRST CHAPTER! I never looked at it like that before and it makes a sweet difference!
This church is true. I know that it is true. Jospeh Smith was a true prophet. This week as well I've learned that it's a pattern in the Book of Mormon (and in Church History too) that before great blessings come there will be trials! That's so amazing to me because well, it seems like there is a trial everyday here! It's a lot different than what I expected. It's amazing, but sometimes, I just get the feeling that I want to leave and go to the field so bad, RIGHT NOW! At least it's a good thing, not really a bad thing, but I hope you get my point. I love you all. Hope that you are doing well. Thanks for the packages and the books and my Book of Mormons! They'll be a big help. Keep sending me letters if y'all want too :) Palanga ninyo sang ko. ( I love y'all)
Elder Ellis
Laundry, letter writing, and spinning boards on heads!  What missionaries do to pass time on P-day!

Elder Ellis' Halloween costume.

Marking all the Doctrines of Christ scriptures.
P.S My MTC teacher is from Stafford Virginia. He was in the Fredericksburg Stake... His name is Adam Stokes. I don't know if Dad knows anyone from Stafford that was Stokes. He's now a BYU student. Pretty cool guy!