Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter

Sister Connie Hollingworth prepared another ward missionary newsletter, with excerpts from recent letters or emails from all the ward missionaries, including Elliot.  You can see a copy of the newsletter after the jump.

Oklahoma sports report

Here's a slightly tardy report on the outcome of one of the Oklahoma-related college football bowl games.

The Golden Hurricane traveled to Hawaii where they played the BCS No. 24 Hawaii Warriors on December 24 in tne Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.  Hawaii's offense was great (550 yards and five touchdowns), although they also threw five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.  Hawaii also left their defensive unit at home, as the Golden Eagle had 531 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in a 62-35 trouncing (video highlights).  Tulsa junior Damaris Johnson had another great game, finishing with 326 all-purpose yards and a career record 7,796 total yards.

Don't forget to watch OSU in tonight's Valero Alamo Bowl, where they will face the unranked Arizona Wildcats in San Antonio, Texas on ESPN.  Game time is 6:15 p.m. PST.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Elliot's December 27 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


It was awesome to talk to you all on Christmas too. It was nice to hear all of your voices and to know you all are doing good. I hope you have a great New Years too!

This past week was a bit slower work-wise with having a cold and Christmas and everything, but it was still great. Yesterday especially was awesome. We taught like 5 lessons and really had a great time at church and everything. We have investigators (who can't get baptized yet because of issues of getting married) that go to church every Sunday who are just really solid and will definitely be great members of the branch when they get everything straight. In Gospel Principles class Yolanda (the wife) was sitting there studying super hard the Gospel Principles book, reading and writing down every scripture and asking questions. She reads the Book of Mormon very often and writes down questions about anything she comes across that she has questions about so she can ask us when we come over. Then during the Priesthood meeting Jose (the son) walks in and says "We need someone to come to Primary." The person conducting says "Okay, I'll be there in a minute," to which he says, "no, now." Everyone laughed and joked around about how he's a future bishop. So me and Elder Whipple went to the Primary and talked about why missions are important and we stayed for a minute to just listen in. Our investigators' children were answering all of the questions and participating and it was great. Jose told me after church that he can't wait to get baptized. I can't wait either. They're so awesome and mean so much to me.

Anyway, I'm feeling just about 100% better after being sick and am gonna go play basketball again soon, but I love you all and miss you and appreciate everything you do for me!


Elder Elliot Adair

Saturday, December 25, 2010

An audio message from Elliot!

We got to talk to Elliot today. For those unfamiliar with Mormon missions, the rules he has agreed to live by for the two years he will be in Oklahoma permit him only four phone calls home -- Christmas and Mother's Day. Of course, we have weekly emails, letters, pictures, and packages, but no visits at all and only four phone calls. So today's phone call was a very special occasion for the family. Lori, Alyssa, and I got on the speaker phone at home, while Keith and Kim joined in via Skype on the computer. We talked for a long time and loved it, except the part when we had to hang up. We thought it would be fun to share a little bit of Elliot on the blog, so we recorded a very brief message. I hope the link works. If not, leave me a comment and I can email the file to you you. Merry Christmas!

20101225_Message_from_Elliot1.wav - Christmas message from Elliot - BADONGO

Friday, December 24, 2010

A new picture of Elliot and a message from his branch president

We received a text message from the branch president where Elliot is serving, along with a picture of Elliot in his natural habitat -- the dinner table.  It was a great surprise (especially since we were in grocery store when we got it!).  We're glad to see he is doing well.  Here is the message from President Espinoza and the picture of Elliot.

"I am President Espinoza from sixth branch where your son is serving. We wish you a merry Christmas and we are thankful for your beloved son and we take care of him as you can see in the picture!!!!!"

Merry Christmas from Elliot and the Adair family!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas message: "They Gave Up Their Christmas"

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."  Matthew 2:11.

We are often told that the spirit of Christmas is giving.  The members of the Spanish ward in Madera, California, in the beautiful San Joaquin Valley, have taken this message to heart.  I will let the video tell the story but it reminds me of the goodness of the Hispanic people, of their dedication to the Savior, and their unselfish labor on His behalf.  They understand and live the spirit of Christmas.  Elliot is blessed to work with such great people as a Spanish-speaking missionary.  Enjoy the video after the break.

A Christmas message: "Look to the Light"

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." John 12:46.

We share this video at the Christmas season as a reminder that there are many who remain in darkness, who are seeking the truth, searching for a better path, and praying earnestly for a message and a messenger.  The message of the Christ child, that He was born under a new star to bring light to those in darkness, is the message Elliot is delivering to the people of Oklahoma.  We are grateful for Elliot's devotion and service as he shares the glad tidings of the season.  Please enjoy the video after the break.

Oklahoma City: Home of the American Banjo Museum

Oklahoma City is a classic American town, a great example of what middle America is all about.  I fell in love with it long before Elliot received his mission call there, dating back to the days when I spent a lot of time in Oklahoma for work.  But I never discovered one of OKC’s true treasures in all my visits: the American Banjo Museum.  What a great place!  Located in the Bricktown entertainment district of OKC, the ABM bills itself as a world-class facility honoring the rich history, vibrant spirit and unlimited future of the banjo.  It houses over 300 banjos, dating back to the earliest instruments developed by slaves in the old south.  Visiting a banjo museum may not be high on Elliot’s list of preparation day activities, but I may have to twist him arm to pay a visit and tell me everything.  I’m fascinated with it.  After the break you’ll find a few pictures and a video of the museum.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus: Flash Mobs and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir [2X Updated]

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without an inspiring rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus.  Elliot’s sister Alyssa recently participated in a “flash mob” rendition of the classic Handel piece at the Valencia Town Center mall.  A similar performance tonight at the Roseville Galleria here in Sacramento was shut down by the Roseville fire department and police.  Despite the authorities’ Grinch-like attitude (ok, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since the crowd apparently was huge), the singers managed to perform the song in the mall courtyard before being dispersed by the authorities.  What fun!  [UPDATE: Today's Sacramento Bee tells a little more of the story and includes a brief video.  More coverage, including video and pictures, here, here, here, and here.]  These flash mob performances are happening all over – Alabama, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Canada, and who knows where else.  While not entirely spontaneous, these performances revive the true spirit of Christmas, frequently in the place where society so often loses that spirit – in the shopping frenzy at the local mall.  It’s great to see the focus on the Savior during the season of His birth.

Another UPDATE: There's so many of these flash mob videos on YouTube, including in Oklahoma City and Valencia.  Also: Cleveland, Orlando, Seattle, Manchester, CT, Arcadia, CA, Dallas, Toledo, Edmonton, Scottsdale, AZ, Charlotte, NC, and Pleasanton, CA.

For a less spontaneous version of the Hallelujah Chorus, after the Peanuts comic and after the page break you can see a great performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Enjoy.

Elliot's December 20 email

Here’s the latest email from Elliot, the last before he calls home on Christmas.


Merry Christmas! This Christmas season has been pretty fun so far. These past two Sundays we went caroling as a branch to members as well as investigators and it's been awesome. I can't say that it's the best sounding caroling ever, but it's fun and I feel really brought the Navidad spirit to more people. Then afterwards we went to a member’s house for dessert tamales and hot chocolate and for some reason some of the members took pictures of me eating tamales. I'm not exactly too sure why, but they all got a good laugh out of it so I guess it's good. Maybe just something about a Gringo eating tamales. Either way I thought it was funny. Good times.

So I'm going to call home on Christmas Day, is it okay if I call around 1 my time? I think that makes it around 11 back home if that's okay.

Everything is all well here. Our family that is going to get baptized is still on for the 1st, and we're teaching them tonight and we're just gonna keep praying that it all works out. They're awesome so I'm sure it will! Other that that the work is still good and we're just bracing for winter and apparently ice storms? I sure hope not.

Well my time is short today but I'll call this week so I'll talk to you soon!

Feliz Navidad!

Elder Elliot Adair

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oklahoma sports report

Time for another Oklahoma sports report, especially since the college football bowl season started today.  All the major colleges we've featured in past reports are headed to bowl games, so it's a good year for football in Oklahoma.  And let's not forget BYU!

After the regular season ending loss to OU, OSU dropped to number 14 in the BCS rankings and was selected to play in the Valero Alamo Bowl, where they will face the unranked Arizona Wildcats on December 29 in San Antonio, Texas. 

With its win over OSU, OU moved up to no. 9 in the BCS and played in the Big 12 championship on December 4 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  In classic Sooner-Cornhusker tradition, the teams battled to the end, but Oklahoma prevailed in 23-20 victory.  The Sooners are now no. 7 in the BCS and will play the unranked Connecticut Huskies in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on January 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

Contrary to my earlier report, Tulsa's football season is not over.  The Golden Hurricane received an invitation to play in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, where they will play BCS No. 24 Hawaii Warriors on December 24.

Brigham Young University Cougars

True, BYU is not in Oklahoma but Elliot is still a Cougar, so we need a report on the great BYU victory in today's New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.  The Cougars handily defeated the unranked University of Texas El Paso Miners, with a final score of 52-24.  It was a nice way to finish the season after a heart-breaking loss to Utah three weeks ago.


The Thunder are now 19-8 and lead the Utah Jazz by a game in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference.  OKC has a five-game win streak, with road victories over the Timberwolves, 111-103, and the Hornets, 97-92, followed by home wins over the Cavaliers, 106-77, Rockets, 117-105, and Kings, 102-87

First Presidency Christmas Devotional

With Christmas just a week away, I thought it would be good to share some messages of the season.  The central purpose of Elliot's mission in Oklahoma is to share the message of the Savior - His birth, His life, and His atonement.  This time of year is a great opportunity for Elliot to share that message.  First, here is a link to the Christmas Devotional presented by the First Presidency of the Church (pictured).  This is an annual event and always an inspiring evening.  (You'll want to scroll to the bottom of the page to pause or mute the Christmas music if you're going to watch the devotional; I also added a page break so the devotional will not automatically play unless you click on the link below.)  Stay tuned for more Christmas-related posts.  And while the Adair family is very much looking forward to Christmas, we're equally excited to get a phone call from Elliot on Christmas day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pictures of Elder Carlton Reininger

We have so many great missionaries from the Newhall First Ward scattered all over.  Carlton Reininger is one of our favorites (actually, they're all our favorites).  Carlton and Elliot went to the same high school, swam together on the high school swim team, coached opposing neighborhood swim teams, and were in the MTC together, where they both sang in the General Conference MTC choir.  Carlton is serving in the Argentina Mendoza mission.  We see copies of his emails and have received a few pictures of him.  I thought it would be fun to post a few recent pictures.  The first is him walking off the plane in Argentina.  The next two are of him at a baptism and him with his current companion, Elder Porras from Peru.  Take a look at the pictures after the break.  Enjoy!

Elliot's December 13 email

Here’s the latest email from Elliot.  It sounds like he’s doing great and enjoying his area.  And from the “it’s a small [Mormon] world after all” department, Elliot met one of the greatest missionaries ever, Elder John Sorenson.  John, aka Sorby, was my companion in Caaguazú, Paraguay, back in 1984.  Caaguazú was a remote town (“remote” accurately describes most of Paraguay outside of Asunción) in the center of the country.  We had a great time serving together and I’m delighted to know he and Elliot have met.  You can read Elliot's email and see a couple of new pictures after the page break.  (About the pictures: I compress them for the blog.  If anyone wants better digital versions of the pictures, leave me a note in the comments.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mormon Channel Video: "A Light Unto All: A Christmas Gift"

Here is a great Christmas video from the Mormon Channel on YouTube.  Seeing a group of young missionaries deliver the story of the birth of the Savior and sharing their testimonies reminds me that Elliot is doing exactly the same thing for the folks in Oklahoma City.  (You might want to scroll down and pause the music playlist at the bottom of the page.)

A note from your editor

Friends and family,

We hope you're enjoying Elliot's blog.  Elliot set it up before he left and asked us to maintain it by posting his emails, letters, and pictures from Oklahoma.  In the four months since he left, I have expanded the blog a bit by including posts about Oklahoma, the Church, Elliot's friends on missions, and a few other topics that I fear are only interesting to me.  I hope you’ll forgive me if you think I’m straying too far from the purpose of the blog, which is to keep you up-to-date about Elliot and his life as a missionary.  But hopefully the other posts add flavor to the experiences Elliot is having, things like pictures of inflated gorillas in the snow or sports reports about Oklahoma-based teams.  And if you do or do not like something in particular, you can always let me know in the comments.  As a new feature, I will occasionally include videos from the Mormon Channel on YouTube, starting in the next post with a great Christmas message delivered by a group of international missionaries.  Thank you for staying in touch with Elliot through this blog.  We hope you will feel welcome to visit often.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Snow in Oklahoma City

Yes, it's snowing in OKC -- not exactly a blizzard and nothing compared to Elliot's freshman year in Provo, but it's a start.  According to one source, OKC gets snow eight days a year on average.  I found these pictures taken just this evening and couldn't resist sharing them, especially the one with the giant inflated gorilla at a used car lot about 15 miles from Elliot's apartment.  I have no idea why they have a giant inflated gorilla but I like it!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Elliot's December 6 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.  It's starting to look like winter in Oklahoma City, with a chance of snow tomorrow.  He talks about riding his bike in the cold, and with the possibility of snow, it reminded me of the famous picture of Andy Hampsten riding in heavy snow over the Passo di Gavia in the 1988 Giro d'Italia.  Hopefully that won't happen to Elliot!  Here's his email.


So an odometer would actually be a really cool present to me. I bike so much daily and I've at times tried to total up just how far I ride, which is often around 20+. Now that its getting colder it's getting way harder to ride a bike though. Going to church at 7:45 in the morning with very chilly winds is a fairly painful experience, but I just gotta bundle up!

I'm still doing just fine out here. We put up a 4-foot Christmas tree up in our apartment, a very nice addition to the Christmas music, thank you very much! A lot of people here in Oklahoma already have their Christmas lights up, and it might snow tomorrow, so it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Next week we're even going caroling with some members of the branch, so that'll be awesome too. I might just go sing Christmas songs at every door I go up to from here on out. I figure maybe people will open the door and we can tell them a bit after we sing, because I hear that very few people will answer their doors in the winter. I'm really excited that I'll be able to call on Christmas! I'll let you know what the details will be closer to the 25th though. And this past Friday we had a Temple conference for our mission, so I was actually able to attend a session, which was very nice. It was so great to be able to kinda shed the worries and stresses of the mission for a while and enjoy the peace at the temple.

The work out in the Southwest side of OKC is going very well still. The two that I told you about with a baptismal date are still on for the first, and they even want us to make a trip with them to visit the temple! We've met some really interesting people this last week and even when I really don't know them at all or even when they don't care for us I'm often amazed by the love that I know God has for them, just a little bit of which I'm able to feel. I guess that's kinda like that "Compassion" talk, which is a very good one by the way. We had a very successful week, talked to a lot of people, and handed out a lot of Book of Mormons. The mission just gets better as you learn to forget about yourself and do work. I've had more fun too.

I hope everybody is happy and well and that you all enjoy Shaun's wedding! Say hey to everyone for me!


Elder Elliot Adair

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter

Sister Connie Hollingworth prepared another ward missionary newsletter, with excerpts from recent letters or emails from all the ward missionaries, including Elliot.  You can see a copy of the newsletter after the jump.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More on the Oklahoma City Temple

I previously posted about the Oklahoma City temple.  I just found an article from the July 2001 New Era that talks about the reaction of local youth in Oklahoma and Michigan to having a new temple nearby.  The Oklahoma City portion of the article is pasted below.  (I hope the Church doesn’t come after me for copyright violation!)

A Temple of Our Own
Matthew Baker and Laury Livsey, "A Temple of Our Own", New Era, July 2001, 20

How exciting is it to finally have a temple near where you live? We’ll let the kids in Oklahoma and Michigan tell you.

Four years ago, the Church had just dedicated its 50th operating temple, the St. Louis Missouri Temple. Four months after that temple was dedicated, President Gordon B. Hinckley explained in the October 1997 general conference that after prayerful consideration, the Church had decided to begin a plan to construct smaller temples that would have “all of the facilities to administer all of the ordinances.  They would be built to temple standards, which are much higher than meetinghouse standards. They would accommodate baptisms for the dead, the endowment service, sealings, and all other ordinances to be had in the Lord’s house for both the living and the dead” (Ensign, Nov. 1997, 49).

Since that historic announcement, members in many areas of the world have begun to experience the blessings of temples that are nearby and convenient.

Last year, the Boston Massachusetts Temple became the Church’s 100th operating temple. Since then, many other temples have been announced, dedicated, or are being built. The New Era recently traveled to two areas—Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the day the temple there was dedicated, and Detroit, Michigan, after that temple had been dedicated—to see how these temples have affected the lives of the youth in the area.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oklahoma religion news: Court enjoins Sharia law amendment

I previously reported on Oklahoma's State Question 755, a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by Oklahoma voters in November that would prohibit courts from relying on international law or Sharia law.  The prior reports are here and here.  Perhaps I am only person interested in this story but I find it interesting and at least remotely relevant to this blog since it deals with the intersection of law and religion and is happening right where Elliot is serving. 

On Monday, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the constitutional amendment from taking effect.  Her opinion states that the Oklahoma measure unfairly "conveys an official government message of disapproval and hostility toward his [Muneer Awad's] religious beliefs, that sends a clear message he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, thereby chilling his access to the government and forcing him to curtail his political and religious activities."  The opinion adds: "While defendants contend that the amendment is merely a choice-of-law provision that bans state courts from applying the law of other nations or cultures - regardless of what faith they may be based on, if any - the actual language of the amendment reasonably, and perhaps more reasonably, may be viewed as specifically singling out Shariah law, conveying a message of disapproval of plaintiff's faith."  The author of the legislation is reported as saying that Judge Miles-LaGrange is exactly the kind of "liberal activist" his legislation intends to stop.

The injunction will remain in place pending further actions in the trial court or an appeal to the Tenth Ciruit.  The Oklahoma Election Board has vowed to appeal the court's order.

Oklahoma sports report

Here's another Oklahoma sports report.  Football bowl games are just around the corner and Oklahoma teams will figure prominently in some of the major bowls. 

It was a big week for the two Oklahoma powerhouse football teams.  OSU played at home in Stillwater against OU in an annual game they refer to as "Bedlam."  The teams have been playing since 1904.  OU holds a big lead in the series, with 82 wins to OSU's 16, with 7 ties.  Wikipedia reports a story from the 1954 game where mobsters threatened and paid off a cook to slip laxatives into a soup eaten by many OU starting players, causing them to fall violently ill in the days leading up to the game.  OU was victorious in the end, but their 14-0 win did not cover the 20-point spread they had in their favor.  True story?  Hard to say but it adds to the legend.

Saturday's game was huge, since OSU came in ranked no. 10 in the BCS standing, with OU close behind at no. 14.  At stake was an opportunity to play for the Big 12 championship and a better bowl bid.  The game lived up to the hype.  OU prevailed 47-41 in a thriller, which included a fourth quarter when both teams scored two touchdowns apiece in a 92-second stretch.  OU quarterback Landry Jones passed for 468 yards and four touchdowns, including touchdown passes of 86 and 76 yards just 29 seconds apart in the fourth quarter.  With the win, OU moved up to BCS No. 9, while OSU dropped to BCS No. 14.  OU will play BCS No. 13 Nebraska for the Big 12 championship on December 4 in Arlington, Texas.  OSU will await the bowl selection process.

In a defensive struggle (cough, cough), Tulsa eked out a 56-50 victory over Southern Miss (no, I did not get the football score mixed up with the basketball score).  The teams combined for 1,197 total offensive yards.  Unfortunately for Tulsa, its playoff hopes required not just a victory over Southern Miss but also a loss by SMU.  SMU refused to cooperate, defeating East Carolina and advancing to the C-USA championship.  Tulsa's football season is over.

Since the last sports report, the Thunder won three games and lost two, falling a game and a half behind the Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference.  Last Monday, they beat Minnesota 117-107, followed by a 111-103 loss to Dallas two days later.  They then defeated Indiana 110-106 on the road before being edged in Houston 99-98.  Returning home, the Thunder defeated New Orleans last night, 95-89.  Thunder forward Kevin Durant still leads the NBA in scoring, averaging 27.3 points per game, a slight drop from his previous average of 28.0.  Guard Russell Westbrook is having a very good year statistically, ranking high in league standings in assists (7th), double-doubles (6th), efficiency (5th), points/rebounds/assists (2nd), scoring (7th), steals (8th), and (sadly) turnovers (4th).