Friday, December 30, 2011

The Wall Street Journal: "From American Idol to Mormon Missionary"

Our blog has recounted the stories of Sid Going and Will Hopoate, two young athletes who interrupted promising rugby careers to serve missions. Now, American Idol runner-up David Archuleta recently announced that he will leave his music career behind for two years while he serves a mission for the Church. The video of his announcement is posted below. He has not announced whether he has already received his call or where he is going. Who knows, maybe he'll end up in Oklahoma City with Elliot.

Today's Wall Street Journal has a good op-ed piece on David's decision to serve a mission. Written by Allison Pond, herself a former missionary who served in Rostov-na-donu, Russia, the op-ed describes the experience of being a missionary:
For Mr. Archuleta, age 21, life is about to change considerably. He'll trade a life of stardom for the rigor of waking up at 6:30 every morning, studying scripture for a couple of hours, then working 10-hour days teaching interested people in their homes and taking on other community-service projects before falling into bed exhausted. He'll also join the ranks of other prominent Mormons who have served missions, including Mitt Romney (France) and Jon Huntsman (Taiwan), Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings (Spain), and actors Aaron Eckhart (Switzerland) and Jon Heder (Japan). 
Missionaries serve on their own dime, swearing off dating, entertainment and even most Internet activity. There is relatively little direct supervision; they have at once rigid structure and significant autonomy. They work in pairs, reporting weekly in writing to a mission president, an older man called to serve a three-year stint.
Sister Pond concludes her piece with a perspective on David's preparation for his mission and the experience that's in store for him:
Because of his time in the spotlight, David Archuleta may already be more grown up than the average 21-year-old, but a mission will challenge even him. It will put him in the company of hundreds of thousands who, by the end of their missions, have firsthand experience with the biblical injunction to lose their lives and thereby find them. 
The full op-ed can be found here, and a related story from the Church website can be found here.

David will undoubtedly be a great missionary wherever he serves. We'll keep track of this story and see where he is assigned.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Woody Guthrie's archives to reside in Oklahoma

Woody Guthrie, the Dust Bowl Troubadour, is one of Oklahoma's favorite sons. Born in Okemah on July 14, 1912, Woody became a prolific singer-songwriter whose Oklahoma roots colored his artistry. Speaking of his hometown, Woody said:
Okemah was one of the singingest, square dancingest, drinkingest, yellingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, shootingest, fist fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of our ranch towns and farm towns, because it blossomed out into one of our first Oil Boom Towns.
Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, described Woody:
Woody Guthrie is the greatest American folk singer/songwriter of all time. His art is deeply connected to Oklahoma's people and its history. It reflects the Oklahoma experience, from mobility and immigration to diversity and the longing for a sense of community. Whether it was the Indian forced onto a reservation, a farmer looking for new land or an oilman driven to find one more gusher, Woody gave voice to their hopes and dreams.
Oklahoma fans of Woody got some great news yesterday, when it was announced that the George Kaiser Family Foundation purchased Woody's archives and will move them from his daughter's home in New York to Oklahoma. The Woody Guthrie Center is expected to open in late 2012. The center will be housed in the Mathews Warehouse, a building in downtown Tulsa being converted into space for museums and arts organizations. The archives include:
  • Guthrie's original handwritten copy of "This Land is Your Land"
  • Original musical recordings
  • Nearly 3,000 song lyrics
  • Rare books by and about Guthrie
  • More than 700 of pieces of artwork, letters and postcards
  • Manuscripts and personal journals
  • More than 500 photographs
  • Handwritten songbooks
  • Guthrie's annotated record collection
  • Personal papers detailing family matters, Guthrie's World War II military service and musical career
  • A research paper detailing Guthrie's mental and physical deterioration from Huntington's disease
And what would be the point of a story about Woody Guthrie without examples of his music? Enjoy two of his great songs after the jump.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Elliot's December 27 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot, a day later and a lot shorter than usual. We had a great phone call with him Sunday so he didn't have a lot of news to share in the email. Only one more phone call to go (Mother's Day), then home in August.


I forgot my camera! I'm on exchanges with Elder Gonzalez today. All of the libraries were closed yesterday so I'm emailing now. But yeah I forgot to take my camera with me so sorry I don't have pictures. Next week for sure.

It was great talking to y'all on Christmas! I'm glad to know that everything's going well. And I appreciate the gifts! The watch works well mom and I like everything else too.

I don't know how much more there is to say than what we talked about yesterday but I appreciate all of the support and love! Have an awesome week and New Year!

Love ya!

Elder Elliot

Monday, December 26, 2011

Oklahoma bowl games

NCAA bowl season is upon us and the major Oklahoma teams are in some big games. Let's see what's in store for Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Tulsa.

Oklahoma State was edged out of the BCS national championship game by Alabama by a mere .0086 at the end of the regular season. Thus, despite having already lost once to number one Louisiana State University, number two Alabama will play LSU for the mythical national championship and OSU will play number four Stanford on January 2 in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

Oklahoma finished at number 14 in the BCS standings and will play Iowa on December 30 in the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.

And finally, in a match-up of an Oklahoma team against Elliot's own school, Tulsa will play BYU in the Armed Forces Bowl on December 30 in Dallas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Los Angeles Dodger Christmas in Midwest City, Oklahoma

Much to his father's dismay, Elliot has always been a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. One of the Dodgers' star players, Matt Kemp (who recently signed an eight year, $160 million contract extension through 2018), is a native of Midwest City, Oklahoma. Midwest City is a suburb of Oklahoma City, about 10 miles as the crow flies from Moore, where Elliot is currently serving.

The hometown hero paid a Christmas visit to Midwest City yesterday afternoon. As reported by The Oklahoman, he stopped at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, where he packaged meals and made a $10,000 donation. Later, he distributed coats that he purchased for children at the Riverside Mobile Home Park. He also bought and distributed toys to 140 kids at the FaithWorks ministry.

"He is one of those people who never forgets who he is," said Jim Tribble, youth minister at the First Baptist Church of Midwest City. "(Success) hasn't changed him any. He is still the same ole' Matt. He loves people and is quick to say hi to people and helps anyone who needs it."

Matt added:
"I am blessed to be in the position that I am," Kemp said. "I am in a position to give. This is where I come from. This is the city that made me. It's just something that I wanted to do, to give back to where I came from."
And his generosity doesn't end with the Christmas season. He has promised a donation of $1,000 to the food bank for every home run he hits in 2012. I hope he hits 70 (but only when he's not playing against the San Francisco Giants)!

Enjoy a video report of Matt's visit to Midwest City after the jump.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from Elliot, Elder Soto, and Elder Karl!

What a great Christmas card from Elliot, Elder Soto, and Elder Karl! Matching pajamas?!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Elliot's December 19 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


I got the package this morning! Its so hard for me to not open it. I actually even had Elder Karl open it so he could look at it but I didn't see and he didn't tell me. I love Christmas! I think I'll call around 3ish if that works for y'all.

And that's cool that you heard from Adrienne! I didn't know she was heading to SLC. That's way cool that she met Elder Ballard. I need to write her and see how everything is going.

Jan was baptized this weekend! I'd send a picture but I forgot to bring my memory card reader today. It was a really nice service. She had to be baptized 3 times though because the first time her toe came up and the second time her dress did. Still nowhere near the record of 8 times someone had to be baptized that I've seen on the mission. It was so apparent in her countenance what the gospel had done for her in her life. She just seems so much more peaceful and happy now. We're excited for her and she told us her goal now is the temple.

Speaking of the temple, I'm going to have an opportunity to go this Thursday. A convert in Noble will be going for the first time and asked if I could be there. I'm super excited. His name's Bryan and we took him out teaching quite a few times when I was there. He had probably the coolest, most dramatic conversion story I've ever heard. So that's a pretty sweet Christmas week gift.

This past week was really great. We have 4 new baptismal dates for the 14th and 21st of January. We also went to a really awesome Native American themed Nativity Play [link to 2003 photos] at the Glorieta Baptist Church on Saturday night. It was a lot of fun. I also went to Midwest City with Elder Garner on exchanges and got to interview one of their investigators, Clifford, for baptism. His uncle baptized him on Saturday. It was just a really awesome week. Things are looking up and the work is moving forward greatly!

Well I love you and will talk to y'all on Sunday!


Elder Elliot

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mormon Messages: "Wise Men Still Seek Him"

And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 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.
And when we find him, will we be prepared as were the wise men of old to provide gifts from our many treasures? They presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are not the gifts Jesus asks of us. From the treasure of our hearts Jesus asks that we give of ourselves: "Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind." (D&C 64:34)

Merry Christmas from Elliot and the Adair Family

Monday, December 12, 2011

New pictures of Elliot!

Courtesy of President and Sister Taylor's mission blog, here are several new pictures of Elliot and other Oklahoma City missionaries.

Zone Leader Council (November 30, 2011)

Elders Franco, Hansen, Phillips, Soto, Elliot, and Loosle

Elliot and several others

Elliot and several others

Elliot and several others

Half the mission (but I can't find Elliot!)

Elliot's December 12 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.

Hola Familia!

Can you believe that yesterday was my 16 month mark? That's 2/3 of my mission. It's going by super fast now.

This past week was fun. It's fun being companions with Elder Karl and Elder Soto. There's never a dull moment and we get a lot of work done. We got 6 new investigators this past week so it'll be exciting to see where that goes. Elder Karl is from Alberta, Canada and has been out I think for 10 months now. He's a solid missionary and hopefully we can stick together for 2 transfers.

Jan is getting baptized this week! She passed her interview last Saturday and we're gonna have the service this coming Saturday. She's excited and so are we! She asked Elder Soto to confirm her which will be great for him to do on his last week in the mission. I'll be sure to send pictures.

I've been think about the Christmas present and I'm kinda stumped! I don't think I particularly need a new suit and now I'm leaning towards either sunglasses for when I'm driving or a watch. Ties? I don't know!

Anyway, I'm doing well. The work's really moving forward. We're trying to get a bit more energy and motivation going in the zone. There's so much potential here and I'm seeing the Lord hasten his work.

I love yall!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter

Here is the most recent Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter from Sister Connie Hollingworth (pictured), with reports from Elliot, Javan Hatch, Kyle Hill, Ian Loveland, JK McKeon, CJ Norris, and Carlton Reininger.  We really appreciate Sister Hollingworth putting this together every month!

Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oklahoma History Center: "Oklahomans and Infamy"

Tomorrow, December 7, is Pearl Harbor Day. In recognition of the many contributions of Oklahomans to the World War II effort, and in remembrance of the USS Oklahoma, which lost 429 crewman 70 years ago, the Oklahoma History Center will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor with an exhibit that opens tomorrow, "Oklahomans and Infamy."

In an announcement on its Facebook page, the Center described the exhibit:
Although there weren't any Japanese planes that attacked the state of Oklahoma, many Oklahomans experienced the devastation those planes unleashed on that part of the world. With this new exhibit, Oklahoma and the Day that will live in Infamy, we hope to tell these important stories so that succeeding generations will remember tyranny and its effects in the hope that it will not be repeated. 
Some of the artifacts on display are a Japanese flight suit and naval uniforms, artifacts from aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack at Pearl Harbor, and letters from a bereaved mother to her son that she would never see again. The exhibit will also feature several interviews with veterans of Pearl Harbor, Wake Island and the Philippines.

From The Oklahoman:
Artifacts on display include a Japanese flight suit and naval uniforms the museum has had in its collection but never before displayed. There are many items that went down with the USS Oklahoma, including the brass letters spelling "Oklahoma" that once were attached to the outside rear of the ship. Also part of the exhibit is a salvaged steering hull. 
"This ship hull was actually one of the aft steering wheels," [director of exhibits David] Davis said. "You wouldn't have seen it, but it was there in case the bridge was disabled." 
Also featured with the hull is "one of the, if not the last, U.S. flags that was flown on the ship," he said.
So, if you happen to be Oklahoma City, be sure to stop in at the History Center for what promises to be a terrific display of Oklahoma history. And even if you can't get to the exhibit, be sure to check out three videos about the USS Oklahoma after the jump.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Elliot's December 5 email and picture


Things are going really well here in Moore! Shaun [pictured below] was baptized yesterday. It was a really cool service. Everyone in our Singles Branch stayed. The entire Relief Society room was full and people were standing in the back to be there. His friend who referred him to the church was the one who baptized and confirmed him and it went well. Elders Soto, Clements and I taught the Doctrine of Christ while they were changing and that was really cool too. All of the Book of Mormons we had to give to the members there to give to their friends were given away. This is good because when Elder [L. Tom] Perry came a month ago he challenged our branch to grow to 100 members, and I believe it can happen.

The Bedlam Rivalry Game (OU vs. OSU) was the most important thing to Oklahomans this past week. Saturday was kind of rough for missionary work because of it. Either no one was home or no one was answering the door. There's a field behind the church in a neighborhood that has two flagpoles, one with an OU flag and the other OSU, and on Sunday morning the OU flag was half-mast. People mentioned it during testimony meeting. Half of the people at our Ward Christmas Party took off 15 before 7 to watch it. As you drove down any street you could see in most windows the game on TVs. On Sunday it seemed like most people were deflated by OU's big loss. Football is a big part of life out here.

[Redacted stuff.]

Transfers are this week!  Elder Soto and I are gonna get Elder Karl as our next companion. We'll be 3 together until Elder Soto goes home on the 20th. I'm excited. Elder Karl was in my district when I was in Noble and he's way awesome. It should be a lot of fun.

Well I gotta run. Love ya!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Presidency Announces "Life of Jesus Christ" Bible Video Website

One of the highlights of tonight's First Presidency Christmas Devotional was the announcement of the launch of a new "Life of Jesus Christ" Bible video website.

From the LDS Newsroom:
In addition to reading scriptures from the Bible about the birth of Christ, President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor to President [Thomas S.] Monson, announced a new website — The intent of the newly completed video vignettes featured on the site is to give a better understanding and appreciation for the life and ministry of the Savior Jesus Christ. (Read more about the Bible Videos on the Church News and Events website.) President Eyring said the videos will bring “feelings of light and the joy of angelic visitations that marked Heavenly Father's gift of His Beloved Son as our Redeemer.” 
The videos were filmed at the Church’s recently completed Jerusalem Motion Picture Set, located 56 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah.
In introducing the new collection of videos, President Eyring said:
Like the scriptures which these short films follow faithfully they may seem to you quiet. Your faith and the Holy Ghost will create the emotion these world-changing events deserve.
release from the Church described the background and purpose of the videos.
The project will yield more than 100 vignettes portraying the life of Christ, taken directly from the text of the King James Version of the Bible. Over time, each video will be posted to along with the scriptural text from which it is taken. The goal is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ by assembling one of the finest collections of Bible videos in the world. 
“We intend for these videos to be used freely by individuals, families, and groups,” said Elder Lynn G. Robbins, Executive Director of the Media Services Department. “We want to help our own members strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ, and we offer this freely to other churches who may wish to use these videos in a similar way. The message of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be shared as widely as possible throughout the world.”
* * * * * 
The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos website is intended to provide members and their families with a new and meaningful way to learn about and share the teachings of Jesus Christ. Through these videos, individuals can explore biblical environments, watch scripture-based stories come to life, view slideshows, and discover additional insights into biblical accounts. 
The first video, "A Gift to the World," was shown at the Devotional. You can also see it below. We will post additional videos here on Elliot's blog. Enjoy.

The First Presidency Christmas Message and Tonight's Christmas Devotional

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following 2011 Christmas message:
There is no better time than this very Christmas season for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ. It is the time to love the Lord our God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves. This joyful season will bring to each of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree in which we have turned our minds, feelings and actions to the Spirit of Christmas. 
May this Christmas season be a time of prayers for peace, for the preservation of free principles, and for the protection of those who are far from us. Let it be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings. 
We testify of the living reality of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ. He is indeed the way, truth, and the life (John 14:6).
Tonight at 5:00 p.m. PST, the First Presidency will give their annual Christmas Devotional from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. You can see the devotional on KBYU-TV or online or listen to it on BYU Radio.

And here is a video of President Thomas S. Monson's address at last year's Christmas Devotional.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Battle of Oklahoma

The Battle of Oklahoma took place yesterday -- a violent, brutal, and occasionally bloody battle for Oklahoma supremacy. It wasn't a battle of words or weapons. Instead, it was a battle that involved what matters most in Oklahoma: Football!

Yesterday was the annual clash between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the University of Oklahoma Sooners. As is usually the case, the game had national significance, as both teams came into the game ranked in the top ten, the Cowboys at number 3 and the Sooners at number 10. Also on the line were the Big 12 championship, bowl game opportunities, and, most importantly, Oklahoma bragging rights for an entire year for the winner.

Naturally, a game between two intra-state rivals and football powerhouses is guaranteed to be a hard-fought, close contest decided in the final seconds, right? Not this year. Breaking a string of eight consecutive losses in the Bedlam Game, and clinching the Big 12 Conference title for the first time in decades, were the Cowboys in a rout, as they manhandled the Sooners by a final score of 44-10.

The big football question remains: Will OSU's huge victory vault them past the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and into the BCS national championship game against top-ranked Louisiana State University Tigers? Cowboys' coach Mike Gundy thinks they should:
I don’t think that there’s any question that Oklahoma State should play in the big game. People told me at the coffee shop that they were giving me a hard time about mentioning other schools last week. I want to clarify myself that Oklahoma State hadn’t earned the right to talk about a game past the conference championship game, because we hadn’t won a conference championship. Our staff, including myself, talked to our football team every day about winning a conference championship. After what they accomplished tonight and the way they did it against the No. 10 team in the country, I don’t think there’s any question they deserve an opportunity to play for it all.
At a minimum, the Cowboys will play in the Fiesta Bowl, and the Sooners will certainly go to a top bowl game.

The Oklahoman has extensive online coverage of the game, including video highlights and pictures that you can seen after the jump.

Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame

Muskogee, Oklahoma, is home to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Since 1997, the Hall of Fame has been honoring the world’s most notable talents whose gifts and musical styles are as breathtaking and diverse as the Oklahoma landscape.

And while Nashville may be the home of country music, Oklahoma has produced its share of great country artists, as well as many others from various musical genres, including the following examples of the many inductees to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame:

Unfortunately, Muskogee is outside the boundaries of Elliot's mission so he will not have a chance to visit. I know I'd love to go.

And what's the point of a story about musicians without music? After the jump, check out some great videos from Vince Gill, Woody Guthrie, Roger Miller, Charlie Christian, Merle Haggard, Patti Page, and the Cherokee National Youth Choir. Fun stuff!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Elliot's November 28 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


Yeah Brother Sorenson got special permission from President to give y'all a call while I was there. I figured you might have been heading back from Utah at the time. It was pretty cool though being at his house and talking to him and everything. They're a way nice family. And he has some cool mission stories.

And I'm glad you got the videos! I've been trying to learn a little bit of the piano but I'm not very good. I can play the right hand okay. And don't worry about the story mom! That's actually a really long time ago now and I haven't really had anything like that happen since. No more guns pulled on me lol. [Check out the videos we got yesterday to understand the gun story.]

I'm doing well out here. Shawn has passed his baptismal interview and will be getting baptized this Sunday! Another investigator is doing pretty well too. We're having to push her date back a few weeks just to make sure everything's ready but she is doing well. We just need to finish teaching her the lessons. We're trying to find some more new investigators now so that we can still have people to teach after they get baptized. The work's going really good though and that makes me happy!

I'm glad you guys had a good Thanksgiving weekend! I did too. For Thanksgiving we played football with the Taylors, went to Shawn's baptismal interview, had a huge lunch with the McReynolds, took a nap (we weren't allowed to proselyte), went to dinner at the Grays with Shawn, and then stopped by the Jankas' house to visit a bit. It was way fun but I ate too much food. I was so stuffed haha.

This week we have a Zone Leader Council on Wednesday and Temple Conference on Thursday. Between that and the baptism we should be pretty busy. We're also going to be getting another companion for a week. Elder Curtis is going home a week early for some family stuff so we're getting Elder Clements. Then we'll probably be in another threesome the 2 weeks after because Elder Soto is going home mid-transfer on the 20th. Can you believe transfer calls are this Sunday already? This is going by way too fast.

I'm happy and well! I'll think about some Christmas presents. Maybe a new suit? I'll let ya know.

I love you!

Elder Elliot

New videos of Elliot!

I found a great surprise in my email last night: two videos of Elliot! He recently had dinner with the Randy Lusk family in Moore, Oklahoma. Elliot is currently serving in the Lusks' ward, the same ward attended by the mission president and my mission companion, John Sorenson. Brother Lusk has a photo studio (Alpha-Omega Productions) and was testing a new camera in his home the evening Elliot and Elder Soto went for dinner. Brother Lusk shot a couple of videos and sent them to me last night. With his permission, I've posted them here on the blog. It's great to see Elliot!


Elliot and Elder Soto singing!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mormon Messages: "Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them"

"Men's hearts failing them for fear . . ." (Luke 21:26.)

This video recounts the harrowing experience told by Elder Russell M. Nelson as the plane in which he was traveling caught fire. It's a powerful story of the peace that comes through the gospel. For those of us who are weak in the heart, fearful in the heart, he teaches us to be patient with ourselves and allow the Lord to make up the difference as we fall short of our goals and aspirations. Enjoy the video.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Elliot's November 21 email and picture

Here's the latest from Elliot in Moore, Oklahoma.


Is the LA auto show going on? It was always way fun going to that. Next year? [Elliot always loved to go to the LA Auto Show. Here's proof.] And I've always wanted to attend the temple in Spanish. That'd be cool for sure. We were told not to during the MTC so I haven't had the opportunity to yet.

This week was awesome! Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with meetings most of the day, but they were good meetings. Then Thursday I wet to Wichita Falls to baptize Adrienne! It was a super spiritual experience. The service was great and it was cool seeing everyone again. Friday I went on exchanges to the Spanish Central area with Elder Christenson (one of my roommates in the MTC). We taught some good lessons and had dinner with the Ramirez family who had me over for Thanksgiving a year ago. Also on Friday I interviewed Amparo, one of their investigators, for baptism. It was the 6th interview I've done and the first in Spanish. I was nervous going into it but soon Spanish just started coming back to me. I love doing interviews. She was baptized on Sunday by Elder Phillips and Elder Soto confirmed her. On Saturday morning, Elders Christenson, Whipple, Garner, and I went to a flea market in Midwest City. They've recently started setting up a booth there and its pretty cool. We got a lot of referrals for our zone and it was fun. On Sunday we met up with Shawn and we're still one for his baptism this coming Sunday, so assuming his interview goes well that'll be awesome. Our other progressing investigator, Jan, is still on for the week after so hopefully everything works out!

Good luck with the temple class! That's exciting. I hope y'all have an awesome Thanksgiving! Say hi to everyone for me.

Love ya!

Elder Elliot

P.S. In the picture is Elder Lang, me, Adrienne, Elder Jacobson, and Elder Talbot

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mormon Messages for Youth: "Practice, Celebration, Dedication: Temple Blessings in El Salvador"

I really enjoyed this Mormon Messages for Youth video about the recently-dedicated temple in San Salvador, El Salvador. The video demonstrates how a temple can affect the lives of all, young and old, and it was fun to share the experience of three youth as they participated in the dedication and celebration of a new temple in their home country. We've included several stories about the importance temples on Elliot's blog (here, here, here, herehere, and here).

More information about the El Salvador temple may be found here, including the text of the dedicatory prayer offered by President Henry B. Eyring, a news report about the dedication, and more photos of the temple.

And here's some facts about the El Salvador temple, also from its website.

  • The El Salvador Temple is the first temple to be built in El Salvador and the fourth to be built in Central America, following the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple (1984), the San José Costa Rica Temple (2000), and the Panamá City Panamá Temple (2008).
  • The architectural design of the El Salvador Temple, which features graceful arches and conches throughout, is inspired by the Spanish colonial architecture of the region.
  • A motif of the Flor de Izote (pictured) — the national flower of El Salvador — is used throughout the El Salvador Temple including in the art-glass windows and mahogany wood from Honduras and nearby countries. The limestone flooring is from Israel.
  • The El Salvador Temple was dedicated on the 84th birthday of the president of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson.

Enjoy the video.


Here's another video about the dedication of the El Salvador temple.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oklahoma State University women's basketball suffers tragic loss

On January 27, 2001, ten members of the Oklahoma State University men's basketball program lost their lives in a plane crash while returning home from a game in Colorado. We remembered their loss here on Elliot's blog.

Tragically, history has repeated itself, this time for the OSU women's basketball program. Yesterday afternoon, head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash on a recruiting trip to Arkansas. Also killed were former state senator Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula. The Oklahoman has extensive coverage on the accident and on the lives of those lost in the crash.

We echo the words of OSU President Burns Hargis:
The Oklahoma State family is devastated by this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Kurt Budke, Miranda Serna and the other victims.
News coverage:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Elliot's November 14 email

Here's the latest news from Elliot.


Actually if  I could get a few more boxes of contacts that would be nice. I think I still have 2 or 3 boxes but that probably won't last all the way until the end of the mission.

And I didn't know JK got his call! Iowa, huh? [JK McKeon of Newhall First Ward spoke in church yesterday before leaving on his mission to Iowa.] Maybe ya'll had told me that. But that's cool. Does he report this week?

This week I'm going to Texas to baptize Adrienne! Ella va a ser bautizada [she is going to be baptized] on Thursday and she asked if I could baptize her and President gave me permission. I'm super excited.

Me and Elder Soto both got pretty sick this past week and were out for most of Friday and Saturday, but it was still a really productive week. I also had the opportunity to do 2 baptismal interviews, the 4th and 5th I've done, which is one of the coolest things to do on the mission. I'm gonna be conducting another interview on Friday this week, only it'll be my first in Spanish so I'm kinda nervous. My Spanish feels pretty rusty, but I'm sure it'll be another cool experience.

We also have a couple of investigators with baptismal dates here in Moore. One is going to be baptized on the 27th. He's way legit and we've taught him most everything. Another investigator is supposed to get baptized on December 3rd. We have to help her overcome a few challenges before then but she really has a desire to be baptized and has been coming to church these past few weeks. Life is good here. The members are excited, we're excited and things are looking up. We have a dinner every night from now through the first week of December, so I'm getting taken care of. Everyone here is way helpful.

This should be Bro. Sorenson's number [my old missionary companion]. We're having dinner with the Sorensons on the 26th.

This area is fun. It's cool being in a 4 man apartment. Our other 2 roommates are Elder Curtis, who was in my district in Wichita Falls, and Elder Clements, who is a relatively new missionary. There's always something funny going on and always someone to talk to. This zone is the most concentrated in the mission. Pretty much every P-day the whole zone gets together to play sports or games or whatever. This past week we went to the park and played football and I think we're going to the park again to play that and kickball. It's cool seeing everyone when in a lot of other zones you don't see all of the other missionaries except maybe once or twice a transfer. Also, we got a Christmas tree. Never too early to have a Christmas tree.

So everything is sweet out here. Hope y'all have an awesome week!

Love ya!

Elder Elliot

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two missionaries killed, one injured, in Texas accident

We were saddened to learn of a tragic accident yesterday evening involving three Mormon missionaries. Two of the missionaries, Elder Trevor Reinhold Strong, 21, of Taylorsville, Utah, and Elder Derek Jason Walker, 20, of Fairfield, Idaho, were killed when they were struck by an automobile while riding their bikes in Donna, Texas. A third, Elder Zachary Todd Harris, 19, of Huntsville, Alabama, was seriously injured in the accident. The latest reports indicate that Elder Harris has been released from the hospital. The three occupants of the vehicle fled the scene on foot. The driver turned himself in this morning, while the search for the two passengers continues.

The Church released the following statement about this tragedy:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the missionaries involved in this tragic incident. We pray that they will be comforted as they mourn the loss of their loved ones, who served others selflessly as missionaries.
We also extend our thoughts and prayers to the Strong and Walker families, whose sons dedicated their lives to a service they loved. We also pray for the full recovery of Elder Harris.

As parents of a missionary serving not far from these young men, we cannot imagine the pain the loss of a missionary son or daughter would bring. Words do not provide meaningful relief. But the knowledge of the Lord's love for us may ease a loved one's suffering. We know that He suffered all things for us, that He might strengthen us in our times of need.
 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
(Alma 7:11-12.) The Savior's mercy will undoubtedly be with the families of these fine young men.

The Church has published a statement on missionary safety on its website.

News coverage can be found online:

Pictures from the LDS Church News may be seen after the jump.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Will Hopoate: Rugby star, missionary, and a Mormon

History has a way of repeating itself. A few months ago, we posted a story on Elliot's blog about Sid Going. Sid was a rising rugby star in the early 1960s, and he was also a member of the Church. Faced with giving up a promising (not to mention lucrative) professional rugby career, Sid chose to serve a mission for the Church in Canada. At the completion of his two years of service, Sid returned home to New Zealand, where he renewed his rugby career, played for the All Blacks rugby team, and became one of the legends of the sport.

Flash forward 50 years. A young Australian named Will Hopoate is a rising rugby star. His team, the Manly Sea Eagles, recently won the Australian National Rugby League championship. Like Sid Going before him, Will is a member of the Church who has opted to leave professional rugby for two years while he serves a mission to Brisbane. Will already has a contract waiting for him on his return with the Parramatta Eels, but that's an uncertain future two years off. We hope he will have a very successful mission and return to a rugby career like Sid Going.

Sid and Will met shortly before Will left on his mission. They both spoke to youth at a meeting in Canberra. Speaking of the decision to serve a mission, Sid said:
If I didn’t go, I don’t know if I would’ve have had the career I did. I came back a much more mature person, knowing the goals and directions I wanted to go. It was the best decision I made at the time, and I’m sure Will will feel the same. I think the decision is the best decision he could’ve ever made.
Will added:
I was never the most obedient child, but I have found that if I put the Lord first in my life, everything else just falls into place. Everything just takes care of itself ... He blessed me to play first grade, He blessed me to play State of Origin, He blessed me to play in the finals ... In my heart and soul, I know that those things are blessings from God.
Here is a great "I'm a Mormon" video from Will that tells his story.

And here are several examples of the tremendous media coverage about Will and his missionary service:

Elliot's November 7 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, with pictures after the jump.

Hey familia!

Earthquake!!! I sure did feel it in Moore. It was actually a pretty intense one. We had Elders Nield (my first son in the mission [meaning Elliot was Elder Nield's first missionary companion in Oklahoma]) and Doyle staying over for Stake Conference. We were sitting in the living room (all 6 of us) when we heard what sounded like the neighbors blasting some bass. Then all of a sudden everything started shaking. Elder Soto sprinted out the door, down the stairs and across the street while everyone else just took cover away from anything big that could fall. It was pretty funny. It made me think of the '93 Northridge earthquake [actually '94] when we were all under the table eating Cheetos. Good times.

This has been an awesome week for sure. Elder L. Tom Perry came to our Stake Conference which was super cool. He gave a couple of way powerful talks, with much of it pointing to both the Doctrine of Christ (4th Article of Faith) and the blessings of temple attendance. I got to shake his hand and talk to him for a bit. His witness of God and Jesus was way powerful.

We have 3 people with baptismal dates right now, 4 people came to church, and the ward is very excited about all that is going on. We've been busy between all that is going on and our responsibilities as Zone Leaders, but it's sweet. And Adrienne is going to get baptized next week! I'm going to see if I can get permission to go back to Texas to baptize her. Either way it's way cool.

As a zone leader I get to drive a truck, and I love my truck. I ll send you a picture!

Things are going really well here. The work is sweet and I'm excited to be able to help out in this work of extreme eternal significance.

Les amo!

Elder Elliot Adair

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New pictures of Elliot

President and Sister Taylor posted some great new pictures on their blog, including several with Elliot. The pictures of Elliot are from a November conference of zone leaders, probably in the Oklahoma City area. And we also get to see his new companion, Elder Soto. Enjoy the pictures.

November Zone Leader Council
Top: Elders Cook, President Taylor, Phillips, Ali'ifua, Atkinson, Olsen and Duke
Bottom: Elders Soto, Elliot, Frampton, Hansen, Linford and Kimber 

Elders Ali'ifua, Elliot, Frampton and Hansen 

 Elliot, Elders Soto, Frampton, Hansen, and Cook (?)

 Elliot, Elders Soto, Frampton, Hansen, and Cook (?) 

 Elder Soto, Elliot

Elders Cook, Kimber, Ali'ifua and Elliot

Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter

Here is the most recent Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter from Sister Connie Hollingworth (pictured), with reports from Elliot, Javan Hatch, Merisa Hicks, Kyle Hill, CJ Norris, and Carlton Reininger.  We really appreciate Sister Hollingworth putting this together every month!

This will be Merisa's last contribution to the ward newsletter. She returns home this week. It will be great to have her back.

Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.

Mormon Messages for Youth: "Book of Mormon: Messages from Heaven"

This is a great video about the Book of Mormon. It features the testimonies and experiences of a group of youth from Eastern Europe, who committed to read the Book of Mormon for 20 minutes a day and record their thoughts and impressions in a journal. Hailing from Bulgaria, Russia, the Czech Republic, and Armenia, these youth are great examples of the power the scriptures can have in our lives.

The video also contains brief excerpts from addresses given by the Prophet Thomas S. Monson at the April 2011 General Conference, "Priesthood Power," and by Elder Henry B. Eyring at the October 2011 General Conference, "A Witness," as they bear testimony of the importance of the Book of Mormon.

Enjoy the video.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Oklahoma's rockin' again!

Elliot is getting his share of earthquakes in Oklahoma! Early on Saturday, a 4.7 shaker hit in central Oklahoma, along with a series of smaller aftershocks. Then, less than an hour ago, a 5.2 quake hit about 40 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, near the town of Sparks, Oklahoma, and was felt across a wide area. Another report puts it at a 5.6. It will be interesting to read Elliot's email on Monday to find out how strongly he felt it in Moore.

Update: USGS just upgraded the quake officially to a 5.6. A Twitter comment says that's the biggest in OK history. And now there are reports of significant damage in Lincoln County, where Sparks is located.

Update: Here's a video report from msnbc about the earthquakes in Oklahoma.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Elliot's apartment in Moore, Oklahoma

Elliot sent us his address, so I was able to grab a screen shot of it from Google Maps.  It looks like a very large complex and an upgrade over some of the places he has lived.

A new picture of Carlton Reininger

Carlton Reininger's weekly emails from Argentina are always great to read. And he sends lots more pictures than Elliot! I especially enjoyed today's picture of Carlton and his companion making sock puppets with an Argentine family. Doesn't he look great?

Elliot's October 31 email

Happy Halloween!

Wow that's terrible what happened [we lost a member of the Newhall First Ward in an accident]. I don't think I really knew them too well, or if I did I can't remember, I hadn't been to N1 all that much my year before the mission. But I'll definitely keep them in my prayers. That's the hardest thing to go through I'm sure.

Well I'm in Moore now. My companion is Elder Carlos Soto from Chiapas, Mexico. He's awesome. He's towards the end of his mission (he goes home December 20) and is a great missionary. I've already learned so much from him in just these past 5 days. I'm really excited to be serving with him.

And I'm excited about all of what's going on here! We cover Moore 2nd Ward as well as OKC 7th Branch, which is for all of the young single adults in the area. It's sweet. We have 2 investigators with baptismal dates for the 19th of November, so that's something to look forward to. And Elder L.Tom Perry is coming to our Stake Conference this week! I couldn't have come to the South at a better time. Being a Zone Leader is new and challenging, but it's good. We're setting up some practical ideas and goals for moving the work along in all of the areas. It's tiring, and a lot of work, but that's a good thing and I can feel my capacities growing.

Brother Sorenson is in my ward! [My missionary companion in Caaguazu, Paraguay, and a really great guy!] El era tu companero en la mision, verdad? Hable con el ayer y el me relato una historia. [He was your missionary companion, right? I spoke with him yesterday and he told me a story.] He told me about how you were in the Miami Airport and they asked for your visas, which none of you had. So you called Salt Lake and they told you to just get on the plane. He said he had no idea how y'all got on but you did! [I don't remember any of this but if Sorby says it happened, it must have happened!] I'm super excited to be in his ward. Maybe I can get some more stories off of him. [Oh no!]

Our apartment is way nice. We have 4 missionaries in it which is fun. The address is [redacted], in Moore. I'm in President Taylor's ward, and live pretty close to him as well as the APs [Assistants to the President]. I should be here for at least a few transfers and am very much looking forward to it!

Life's good!

I love y'all!

Elder Elliot

Oh and that's me and Mike Oseletto in the picture. He took care of me while I was in Texas. [He must have forgotten to attach the picture. We didn't get it.]

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Welcome to Moore, Oklahoma, Elliot's new area

Elliot is now in Moore, Oklahoma, his new area and the fifth area where he has served since leaving the Missionary Training Center. Let's see what we can find out about Moore.

Moore is a city with approximately 55,000 residents, located midway between Oklahoma City to the north and Norman to the south.
According to the Moore Chamber of Commerce,
Moore was founded during the land-run of 1889. The early settlers came on train, horseback, wagon and some on foot. According to local historians, the town’s original name was Verbeck, as designated by the railroad company. However, a railroad employee named Al Moore, reported to be either a conductor or a brakeman, lived in a boxcar at the camp and had difficulty receiving his mail. 
He painted his name – Moore – on a board and nailed it on the boxcar. When a postmaster was appointed, he continued to call the settlement Moore. When the town incorporated in 1893, the name was legalized.
Moore is the home of a couple of people you may have heard of.  Country star Toby Keith (pictured) hails from Moore. So does Danny Cooksey, who joined the cast of Diff'rent Strokes toward the end of its run. Major league baseball pitcher Michael Hinckley grew up in Moore (although it looks like he is looking for another shot at the big leagues after being cut by the Toronto Blue Jays in June).

There are lots of places to eat and things to do in Moore, which is the home of Andy Alligator's Fun Park. with go-karts, bumper cars, a 32-foot climbing rock, Bayou Blaster bumper boats, batting cages, and more. I hope Elliot gets to eat at Van's Pig Stand, the oldest Bar-B-Q restaurant, owned and operated by the same family, in Oklahoma.

And then there is Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers:

Moore has three high schools, the Moore Lions, the Westmoore Jaguars, and the Southmore SaberCats, five junior high schools and 23 elementary schools. And Elliot, who loves photography, would undoubtedly enjoy the Oklahoma School of Photography in Moore, a private, family-owned school that trains students to succeed in freelance photography, graphic design, studio ownership, or employment with a company in the graphic imagery industry.

The City of Moore publishes a monthly newsletter with local news and information. You can read the November 2011 newsletter here.

You can find out lots more about Moore on the city's official website and through the Chamber of Commerce. We'll look forward to hearing all about Elliot's experiences in Moore, starting tomorrow with the first email from his new area.