Monday, December 24, 2012

Week 5: Zone Conference

Dear Family and Blog Mates,

MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope that everyone is having a great Christmas. This time of year is for remembering the things that matter most to us in our life. Since I've been on my mission, it's been pretty easy actually. I'm been very blessed to have the family that I have and my amazing friends and for all their support. I couldn't ask for better friends and a better family. Y'all are amazing and great. Thanks for preparing me in the way that I needed to be to be here in my life right now. I miss you guys so much, especially during this Christmas season. I think about the times that we've had at the Cabin every single year, snowmobiling, especially with Dad. Those are my favorite rides, just hitting up the whole mountain.

For now though I'm on an island, which is weird. Do you remember that time we were in Hawaii for Christmas? Yeah, it's like that. It's hot, not cold. Raining, rather than snowing, and the Christmas music is all American stuff, there is some Tagolog Christmas music, but other than that it's all Mariah Carey and David Archeleta. This week people have been really busy with working and things to try and earn money for Christmas dinner and things like that. We've decided to try and visit as many people as we can on Christmas and just give a spiritual thought. It's my Christmas Eve right now and it's sort of nice that it's on my P-Day. We've been singing Christmas songs and working today. Cleaned the house that we live in, it was sort of dirty, but it's clean now. Thanks so much for package #1!!! I loved it! The Christmas Tree is all set up, the stockings are hung and there's one present under the tree. Package #2! Thanks for it. I'm not sure what it contains yet, but I'm excited to open it! By the sound of me shaking it, there are M&Ms, but I knew you'd send those because you know I love them. So we'll see tomorrow I guess. Today we have so many dinner appointments for Christmas and I'm really excited, but I've been doing really good with my weight. I hope Christmas doesn't screw it all up.

Monday was Zone Conference. It was super fun because we got to go to Bacolod. I was like, YES, AIR CON! However, I froze to death Monday night. It was soooo cold that I couldn't sleep from 4-6am. I was just too cold. Since we're in the Philippines and we just sleep with sheets because it's too hot to sleep with anything more, so I was really cold. You asked about me talking at ZC. I just had to share my thoughts about it afterward. It was super fun and I learned a lot. I also learned I need to study the Christlike Attributes more in the Preach My Gospel, because I"m really bad at those. Patience being one of them, but y'all know I'm pretty bad at that.
Cadiz Zone Conference

My A.D.D hasn't been bad at all here. Even though I'm still new, it hasn't been bad. Speaking of time I can't believe I've been gone for 3 months, then at the same times, I'm like, gosh only 3 months, it's weird. Time is playing with my head. On Monday night after ZC training that we had, we got the mail. YES! MAIL! I got package #1, 2 Dear Elders from Courtney, 1 from Hayden, 1 from Mom, and 1 from Dad. And a letter from Elder Bice. Let's just say that was a great day. Thanks for all the encouragement that you give me. It's amazing to hear from you. The Dear Elder's take about 10 days to get here, but by the time I get them, I have no idea how long that takes. I have to wait till the Elder (Elder Couple) Missionaries bring the mail to us, so it just depends on what they do because it could be a week or could be a month. I'm pretty close to Bacolod actually, which is where they live, so if I get transferred somewhere else, who knows how long it'll take. It's okay though! It's just really nice to get mail from people. Also Mom, President Lopez says you and Elder Garner's Mom are his #1 Facebook fans. So congrats!

What did she say?

Something really good that happened this week is that the Demandar Family got sealed in the temple! How amazing. It was so nice to see them after they got back from that. I asked Sister Demandar how it was and she said that it was the best experience ever. They went to Cebu. It was a ward temple trip. So it was really cool to hear about that. The temple is so important and so hard for a lot of members here to go, but I know that it's possible for them to go. I can't wait to get sealed in the temple. How great a blessing that is from God to be with the ones that you love for ALL time and ETERNITY! That's just so awesome. What a wonderful gift that we have. The temple is a fantastic place. I wish that we could go, but I understand that we have work to do here and so it's not possible. It'd still be really nice though.

Last P-day Monday, I'm sitting in Mang Inasal eating Lunch and Bed of Roses comes on. Love that song! Dad will get a kick out of that huh? Which is weird because that song isn't like super famous in America from Bon Jovi, but I've heard it twice here.
This week I was also riding a Tricycle and two Agi's (Gay's) were talking about me. One said I was Guapo (good looking) The other said that he needed to respect me, so I was laughing pretty hard at that.
We got three new investigators this week. Pretty cool! We also got 3 people that haven't been to church in a long time to come back for Christmas. Just sharing simple scriptures about how church will help and things is really great! 2 Ne 27 vs 30 I think, I'm not sure, it's marked in my scriptures because I use it a lot, and tabbed; but it talks about being a God of Miracles and that God doesn't change. If God did miracles back then, he can do them now. Which is True! So we've been having a lot of less actives come back to church because of just simple scriptures. It's been super fun!
I hope that you've gotten all the letters that I've sent home. Only a few, but that's what I can do. I've sent pictures to you. I hope that you get them. Also I see that you've seen some on facebook, so that's good!
How's everyone doing back home? How's y'alls Christmas? Going to the Cabin? Nobody has said anything about it, but I hope that you're going to have fun. We're going to bowling for P-Day. I wanna save some stuff for skype tomorrow so I'm not going to write everything. I love you! Can't wait to see y'all tomorrow. It's going to be fun. I'm so excited. Make sure the whole family is there. haha. Love you again. Be safe and good. The Church is true!
First hamburger in 3 months

Heading home with the loot!

Learning all he can!  If you see Elder Garner, then you see Elder Ellis.

Cookies from Sister Lopez

Filipino food


Monday, December 17, 2012

Faith is Essential

Dear Family,
A couple of items of business first. Wow, sorry Elder Clubb on the medical release. That must be super hard. Everything will work out though. Happy Birthday to Courtney! 20! I can't believe about the Connecticut thing... that's super scary. Also congrats to the Blue and White of Utah State!!! WHOOOO! Okay, back to the missionary things.
Our ZL's had a baptism on Friday so they asked permission to switch Zone Conference to later date because it was a wedding/baptism, so Zone Conference is today and tomorrow.  What an eventful day for those two.  So we're going to Bacolod later today, so that should be fun.
I've had a lot of up and down days. Some days are amazing, then some days are just not so good at all. So here we go:
Mission Christmas party food


P-Day. Emailed y'all and did all that fun stuff.  Later I went and got the best haircut of my LIFE! The straight edge EVERYTHING! So my hair looks super awesome right now. We were going to play basketball, but then all the "Agi's" where playing volleyball so we couldn't play so we just talked. Later that night we went to the Perez family for FHE. That was fun. I actually encourage you to have FHE every week on Monday nights. The reason why is because it brings families closer together. The games that we play here are super cheesy, but they are so much fun, so just look up some games on the Internet. Always play games and always have food every Monday. It's something that I'm going to do with my future family. Every single Monday, have FHE. It's awesome and I love it.
We had a district meeting and that was super fun. We got some ideas on how to get more of our members at church, so that was good.  Later I went on exchanges where I got put with our District Leader,  Elder Bermudez, who is a great missionary. His area is Manapla. It's north of Victorias. It's also where Elder Garner lives, so I got to have a sleep over with him for a night which was fun. Manapla is right on the beach--Super, super pretty place! My language was AWESOME! I taught some principles about scriptures. The spirit was super strong in our lessons and it was super nice to learn a couple of things from him.
Exchanged back to Victorias. Nothing really that big happened Wednesday EXCEPT we've got our two investigators committed for a baptismal date. January 12! WHOO! We're hoping all works out there so that it can happen on that day. We keep praying.  We also did another FHE for a family. Their son reported to the MTC on Saturday. He's going to the Laoag Mission. He was our Ward Mission Leader. His Dad works all over the world, but currently he's been stationed in Angola, Africa so we got to meet him, I'm not sure the last time he was home. He's fluent in English, Portuguese, and Arabic?? I think.  He was way cool to meet.

Honestly, I think his day nothing happened. We worked our pants off and only got 3 teachings. Our area is quite large and so we do spend a lot of time walking. I've lost some weight, noticeably, so it's been good walking everywhere and sweating to death. That's pretty much Thursday. I did teach a pretty good lesson on faith. I've found that I need to have more faith. I've been lacking a little bit in our investigators, but also in myself and being here, so I've been doing a lot of studying about faith and how I can use it more. It's been a blessing.

Our Ward Mission Leader had his farewell today, so we worked and then went and said goodbye to him. He's a great guy, so it's hard to see him go. He helped us out a lot, but he's needed somewhere else right now. He'll be a great Elder.

Again, worked all day and nothing really big happened; however, I did teach about Faith again. I've found that when I was studying about Faith that I can use it in my lessons with investigators too, so that's been really good. The lesson I taught about it must have helped because they hadn't come to church since I've been here, then on Sunday, they were at CHURCH! YEAH!

I fasted today. I fasted for a few reasons, but one of them was help in the language. During my fast, during companionship study I was supposed to invite Elder Doverte (who was pretending to be an investigator) to pray--invite to pray about our message or just in general. He said that my language was great and amazing. I didn't really think it was, but I guess it was so I've been blessed a little bit.  I'll continue to pray for the gift of tongues. It'd be nice if there was a nice dictionary in this language. Oh well I guess......
Missionary ornament given to us from Courtney (he does look like Blake)!

Here's some other things I want to write and let you know:

1. Your homework assignment is to read Mormon 5:15. And report.
2. Ellis in Illango mean "to change your clothes" hahaha
3. I talked to an American this week. He's from Michigan, but married a girl from Victorias and they're visiting. haha. He's a pretty big Catholic though... so I tried to teach him a little about our church, but he wasn't very receptive. That's okay though. We were supposed to meet for a reason, you never know right??
4. I'm American, so we get some pretty cool opportunities to teach people in the street. People just look at me, then we go talk to them.
5. I've also finished the Book of Mormon! :) For the 2nd time since my mission. I finished it on the 16th! :) The Book is true. Read it and pray about it. It'll change your life!

I love y'all! I miss you like crazy. People here love American music. It really messes with my head sometimes when I just hear a song and it makes me think of home. Now I know why they don't let us listen to music here you know?? haha. Don't worry. I'm following all the rules :) Be safe. Merry Christmas!

Elder Ellis

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wild Birds and Boxing

Dear Family,

This week has been pretty fun. I guess y'all heard about Typhoon Pablo. On Monday we were doing a family home evening at the Perez family house and they had the news on the TV. It's in Tagolog, so I don't really understand it that well. All I heard was Typhoon and Philippines. I asked Elder Doverte what was going on and he said that there was a Typhoon coming. I was rather excited because I remember all the Hurricanes that we've been in and things, but then I realized that we have a lot of members that the storm would effect them and their houses; so we were a little worried. At first the storm was a signal 1. Then it moved up to signal 2 and then later 3. On Tuesday is started raining, but nothing really that bad. The Typhoon was supposed to be here on Wednesday. So we were thinking that this is just the front of the storm. So we were in Canetown (No. Bacayan), just like an outskirt town, kind of hard to describe. Our area is HUGE. So we were out there and it's far from our house. We walked back to the main road and got a tricicab, went home. It continued to rain and we were really worried for the next day because that's when the storm was supposed to be here. We woke up Wednesday... NO RAIN! Clear skies. Since we don't have access to really any news or anything we just were like, huh... okay. So that's the Typhoon Story. 
I still have not received my Christmas packages. The only thing I got was a Dear Elder from Mom, which I don't know when that was written and a letter from Courtney from Nov. 4. (I actually got them today). Hopefully this week when we go to the mission home for Zone Conference I'll get them. That should be fun and I'm really excited. They have Air-Con there, so I'm actually really excited for that! We leave on Friday at 6pm and we come back Saturday at 12pm. Not sure the exact plans that are going to happen while we're there, but it should be fun. 
I keep a weekly log in the back of my planner of things that I want to write home about so here are some stories of the week and things that I wanted to remember to tell you:
   I was a little confused on the writing other missionaries rule. You can't write other missionaries in OUR mission. So I CAN write the other missionaries. So if you could re-tell their mothers or who ever you told, that I CAN write them. Thanks so much. 
   If I could please have another SD Card. A 16Gig card. Please :) My 8G is filling up a little faster than I thought it would and I can tell that I'm going to need a bigger card and some more room. So please send one if you will. You can even put it in an envelope if you want and just tape in the the center somehow and I'll get it. 
   On Tuesday we were trying to find some inactive members and here, it's hard to explain how addresses work, because there aren't really house numbers. You go to an area and ask people where these people live. So we go up to a brother and we ask, "Can we ask you a question?" His reply was, "WE ARE BAPTIST." IN ENGLISH! Which usually show they are rich and educated, in some cases. It's just funny because we asked in Illango and he responded in English. We said, "Sir, we just have a question, but since you mentioned religion, we'd like to share our message with you" So we shared the Restoration, Lesson 1, really briefly. That was just funny to us. 
   Dad, I think one time you mentioned Jack Fruit to me from Jamaica, they have it here to, but they make into like sauces and stuff, so I haven't really eaten it yet, it's just a GIANT FRUIT!
   I had a 5 year old give me the "bird" this week. That was funny, right in front of his momma. Oh well...
   While we were teaching a family in Bo Palma on Thursday a bird flew into their house. Their son caught the bird and then they kept it. I have no idea what they were going to do with the bird, but they were just holding it. I took the opportunity to hold this wild bird. I thought it was super funny. I'll send you some pictures home with that. I still don't know what they did to the bird. I've just never held a wild bird before because Mom said they have diseases. 
   Also one night I was riding on a Tricicab and this man asked where we were going. I told him. Then he said, you speak Illango? I replied, I understand more than I speak, but I'm working on it. He then said how long have you been here. I told him 2 1/2 weeks. He said, "WOW!" For that little of time you can speak very well. I then said, "Yes, I'm actually a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, have you ever talked to the missionaries before?" He then told me he lives near the Stake President or something, that was sort of hard to make out. So I gave him the Restoration pamphlet with our phone number. It was a way good experience for me because I actually understood him, and he me. So I was really happy. 
   We have a couple that is committed for baptism! HOO-RAY! We're working on some things with them, Word of Wisdom and they need to get married. It's just hard here in the Philippines to do that, most people just live in, so they said they want to, but we've got to work with them first. 4 weeks with WoW problems and church 4 consecutive times and we're good to go. So we pray everyday that all can go well with them and that they can get married. It'll be a great blessing to their family.
   I really am enjoying the experience here that I can pee anywhere. Doesn't matter day or night, just off the side of the side walk or road or sugar cane field, just go. It's culturally OKAY! :) So that's gonna be some adjusting when I come home haha. I'll probably end up getting arrested or something like that. 
   Also this week we were walking in Canetown to our Bishop's house and I was called out for by someone. I said, "yes?" and they said, "We'd like a picture with you." I just laughed! I was like, "Sure you bet!" Being the only American in Victorias is pretty fun, but it's weird haha. That and I'm the only American in my house I live in. So it's really fun at times. 
   On Saturday we went to a place called Pusod Gamay, which is an outskirt of Canetown. It's really hard to describe this, sorry. We were out there and we contacted a referral that we had received. We walk into the house, I introduce myself and we converse with the family for a little bit. I sit down and then I glance to my right. There is a casket! With pictures, Jesus Crosses, and flowers. I wasn't that shocked, but then I said to Elder Doverte, "there's a dead person in here!" He later explained to me that that's how they do it in the Philippines. So, yes, what do you think we taught? The Plan of Salvation of course! 
   Also on Saturday it poured rain. I was soaked from head to toe, neither Elder Doverte nor I have an umbrella, they're like 500 pesos, which isn't that much, but we just haven't had time to buy one I guess. And it hasn't rained that much. It's not the rainy season yet, but we were SO wet! So much fun. 
   Sunday was also an interesting day. So I don't know who knows who Manny Paquiao is, but he's a Filipino boxer. Anyway he had a big fight on Sunday against Marquez. The whole Philippines is going nuts over this fight. It's the 4th time they've fought. I just hear this from members and people. So the church is right across the stress from the plaza. And the Plaza, they have a large screen TV that they show movies on every night. However, they decided to show the fight on the big screen right during church, so there were people everywhere! All up the street, on the lawn of the Church, watching the fight. Paquiao lost by knockout and the whole country is sad. I guess he's really big. I've heard his name before, but never really watched boxing. So after church we went to work. We went back out to Bo Palma, to the same family I held the bird at.  We go and their Dad and friends are totally wasted. They've been drinking a lot apparently. We taught them the restoration and their dad starts crying. He starts saying that he's not good and he's not setting a good example for his kids and things like that. It was really nice to hear that, but I don't know what is true or not and if he really has a desire to change. His wife is a member, but he's not. But he did bare his testimony to us about Joseph Smith; so we're going to go back there when he's sober and we'll see what happens. It was a good experience though. 
   Also last night on our way home from a dinner appointment, we were stopped by another drunk person that wanted us to teach him. He gave us anything we asked for including his phone number, which we RARELY get. However, he doesn't live in our area so he's going to have to be a referral to the other Elders. 
   This week has been good. Just want to let y'all know that the Church is True. I wouldn't be out here right now if I didn't know it was true. I have a testimony of that. I know that it's true and that the Book of Mormon is also true. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God! Through him and through God and Jesus Christ we have ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ. I love you and miss y'all. Keep praying for me. I can feel your prayers when times get rough. Thanks for all the support. Hope you have a fantastic week.

Elder Ellis

Monday, December 3, 2012

Praying for the Gift of Tongues

Dear Family,

This week has been pretty good. You're probably wondering how the language is coming and I'm here to tell you that it's coming, but coming at a very slow pace. I can understand some people, like my companion, but here a lot of people that I haven't a clue what they say. And then I look at Elder Doverte and ask, "So... what did they just say" So it's pretty good. This language is rough. There's a lot of shortcut's and words and things, that I still haven't gotten a clue about. So I think it'll take me longer than I actually thought, but I pray for the gift of tongues every time that I pray, so I hope that this language kicks in pretty soon. All is well though, I have faith and the Lord takes care of his missionaries right. I wouldn't be here if the Lord knew that I couldn't learn this language.

Happy Birthday to Ashlyn and Sam! Tell me about your dates before you go on them because I need to approve. To all the boys who take them on a date, remember I know all things and if something happens I've got connections in Utah still, so don't think because I'm gone all is well. I've honestly slept like a ROCK here! I haven't had a problem sleeping one single bit, I honestly come home, we do daily planning, I write in my journal and then I crash! So it's pretty crazy. Then I just repeat. So, I haven't had a problem sleeping here at all! Dad was asking how my journal writing is, so I'll just let you know. I write in it every single night. About 2 pages. So yes, my memories will last forever! Another thing that was asked about my weight. Yes, I know that I'm too big haha. However, I'm not going to tell you how much lose because I want to surprise you when I get home. So that'll be fun right? So maybe you can tell in pictures that I send home, but as for now, I'm never going to tell. Also, Ashlyn there's a song that is famous here that you need to Youtube. It's called "Gangnam Style". It's in Korean I believe, but it's a cool song and it has a cool dance. I already know the dance, well sort of. I'm not allowed to watch it, but I learn from other members and missionaries. I went to a birthday "party" this week for a member and there all the kids said that I look like Santa! I'm not THAT fat right? But to Filipino's I'm a pretty big dude. I get called "Tambok" (meaning chubby) all the time. It's soooo funny! But once I get my 6-pack, They won't be laughing. Your packages haven't come yet, the only thing I've gotten since I've been here is that first package from Courtney. So hopefully soon I guess? I don't know. I don't know what even goes on, I just work.

Okay, now for the missionary portion of the letter. We walk miles and miles a day, not really even joking. Riding on Tri-ci-cabs is starting to be fun I guess, they're super cheap to ride and they'll take you anywhere. This week we taught a part member family. Most of the family is baptized, but the son isn't. So we're teaching him right now. He came to church this week and we were super happy! So amazing! We had 4 investigators at church this week. We still don't have any committed for baptism, so we're hoping that we can teach a little better, well at least for me because I can barely speak, so I'm working on that. Some members at church this week told me when there was some Elder named Elder Jensen here he had so many people at church. About 40 more than there is right now, so that sort of made me feel a little bad, but I'm not compare myself. I'm here to work. Since we walk a lot it gives us a lot of opportunities to talk to a lot of different people, we hand out pamphlets that explain pretty basic what we teach, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Plan of Salvation. So it depends. I'm not that good at talking to people, so I'll usually start talking and then just let Elder Doverte take over because I don't know what is being said to me. But again, I'm learning. I'm actually having fun while working. It's weird and hard to explain, but things are sort of fun sometimes while working! Elder Garlick, one of the ZL's that lives in my house, he goes home tomorrow, so after he leaves, guess who's the only white guy in the whole city of Victorias! THIS ELDER! So that's going to be really fun! We've tried really hard to get a lot of less actives, and part members at church. It's tough, but I know that it's possible. We've tried to point out the blessings that come from going to church and how you can receive revelation at church for yourself and your family. This work is super hard, hours are long, it's hot, sweaty all the time. My face is getting really beat up too just because I sweat so much, but hey, you wanna know something? I'm super happy doing it. The members here are amazing in Victoria's. We get fed a lot, surprising actually. So it's super good. I love the food here, It's different. I've actually eaten fish a couple of times now and it's not that bad. I used to really hate it, but I've learned to like it. One of the members made a stuffed fish the other day, like Dad does the stuffed Turkey. It was super super good! So don't think I'm starving here or anything okay?


It's super hard to email pictures home, so I'm super sorry about that. I'm going to have to print them here and just send them to you. We email from a computer store, so who knows what can happen and I don't want anything to happen to my pictures you know, so I'm going to just print and mail some home. So expect some within the next month. (haha... Month) I can't believe how much time it takes to get stuff to the U.S from here.

I love y'all! Hope everything is going well back home. If you want anything just start making a list, I can get some really cheap stuff here, like pants, shirts, etc. So just let me know. I miss y'all so much. Especially with Christmas coming around the corner. I hope y'all have so much fun in Island Park snowmobiling without me. :( I'll be preaching the good word. Merry Christmas! Hope your packages come :)

Elder Ellis