Thursday, June 30, 2011

The drought in Texas and Oklahoma continues

The drought that has plagued Texas and Oklahoma, which we've covered previously (here and here), continues.  According to a story from yesterday's Wichita Falls' Times Record News, this is the worst drought this century.  Farmers are losing their crops and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 213 Texas counties as primary natural disaster areas.
Local longtime rancher Robin Pinkman said the area farming community is in "horrible, horrible shape" — the worst he has ever seen.
"I got a friend who owns a cotton farm that if you put your hand in his dirt, it feels like powder or flour," he said. "You can pull dirt up and see the original cotton seeds planted a long time ago, because they just never germinated."
Another recent report, citing the U.S. Drought Monitor (see image and table below), explains that most of Texas is suffering from either severe or exceptional drought conditions.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 50 percent of the state remained in what is termed an "exceptional" drought, which means a once in 50-year occurrence. More than 90 percent of the state was experiencing either a severe or exceptional drought. Only parts of north central and northeast Texas were not at least abnormally dry as of May 31.
It may not be the worst drought ever, but lifelong farmers throughout the state are telling Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents this is the driest they've ever experienced.


Read more after the jump.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot hot hot!

Earlier today, Elliot wrote that it is hotter than hot in Wichita Falls.  He wasn't kidding.  According to, the current temperature (at nearly 5:30 p.m.) in Wichita Falls is 108!  It adds that it feels like 105, if that's any comfort.  The website includes the ominous warning, "Dangerous heat index. Outdoor exposure should be limited."  We hope the missionaries are taking it easy there today.

Tomorrow's forecast is for a much cooler 102.  Break out the winter wear!

Elliot's June 27 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


Well that's a bummer about Travis! Every now and then something like that happens to a missionary and it's way lame. Let him know I love him though and I hope his foot heals quick!  [Travis Beach (pictured here)  is one of the great missionaries from Newhall First Ward and a great friend of the Adair family.  He returned this week from his mission to Houston, Texas, after suffering a severe injury to his foot.]

So being in Texas feels 100% like a whole different mission. It's hotter than hot** and we don't have a car, but I prefer not having one. Being District leader is a bit stressful, but isn't too bad. It just means a few more responsibilities. I have an awesome district so that helps out. We have 6 Elders as well as a senior couple, so it's an 8 man district. And apparently we're getting another senior couple this next month so it'll be 10 people! That's a large group, so I just hope everything goes well. My companion is Elder Joel Andersen from Orem, UT. He's a good guy and I think it'll be a good transfer together. This area had a baptism and confirmation Tuesday/Sunday, so that was really cool to be there to participate in the confirmation. They have a lot of success generally here in Texas so I'm excited, and the ward is great. It's been crazy getting adjusted to a new area every 12 weeks, but generally District Leaders stay in an area for 3-4 transfers, so I should be here for a good amount of time.

This week was a bit hectic. The Elders in Burkburnett had their car totaled, and they don't even technically live in their area, so we're trying to work out getting them a car and they're having to rely a lot on the help of rides from members. Fortunately our senior couple, Elder and Sister Parker are able to help them get to Wichita Falls for district meeting. And transfers was an all day ordeal as well. We didn't get back to our apartment until like 8:30. Then for a few days straight some members of the ward needed help moving... so it was all a bit loco. But the time that we were able to go out and proselyte was great. We taught quite a few lessons, including 4 yesterday, and the area is looking like it has a lot of promise, so I see good things happening here. There's also a lot of old Spanish work to go through, there used to be a branch here, and the ward is excited to get that moving forward. Apparently there are a ton of less-active, part-member spanglish families that just need a bit of help, so there should be a ton of work to do, which is always good.

Well I love y'all! Que pasen una buena semana!  [Have a good week!]

Con amor,

Elder Elliot Adair

**  Check out today's heat advisory for Wichita Falls after the jump.  It looks like a scorcher today in north Texas.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Deseret News: "Son's honorable return from Mormon mission brings with it sweet blessings"

Long-time fans of BYU Cougar football will certainly remember Vai Sikahema (pictured with the Y banner).  As a freshman, Vai returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the 1980 Miracle Bowl (here's a great highlight video).  After serving a mission to South Dakota, Vai returned to BYU in time for the 1984 national championship season.  He later spent several years in the NFL, where he played for the Cardinals, Packers, and Eagles, twice securing a spot in the Pro Bowl, mainly as a return specialist.

Brother Sikahema recently contributed a story to the Deseret News, in which he captures what it means to be the parents of a missionary.  His son, Leonard Trey, returned this week from a mission to London.  Leonard Trey was the third missionary son of Vai and his wife, Keala.  Brother Sikahema's words will resonate with missionary parents.

Few things are as satisfying as seeing your sons return honorably from missions. When they were infants, I didn't bless them to be college grads, although they're all destined to be, nor did I bless them to become CEOs or NFL players. I blessed them to live that they may serve honorable missions and marry in the temple. Their missions now complete, we're confident they'll follow LJ's example and marry in the temple.
I recently read a quote from Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen that being a Mormon missionary "is the hardest job in the world." If it's not, it's pretty close to the top. And because it was such a seminal and life-changing event in my life, we've been single-minded in preparing our sons to be missionaries.
Our logic was this: If we could help get them on missions and if they did it for the right reasons, we wouldn't have to ever worry about their college major, their chosen vocation, work ethic, job security or unemployment, whom they'd marry or where they'd live and raise their family, or their commitment to God and country. Nothing else could help them be enormously successful or help them deal with disappointment, failure and rejection. A mission would prepare them for all of that.
Brother Sikahema concludes his thoughts with a description of the reunion of a return missionary and his family.
Into the wee hours of the morning, we stayed up and heard of Trey's extraordinary experiences in England, the wonderful people he met, his many companions from whom he learned so much and to whose parents we are so indebted. Leonard Trey regaled us with stories of the gifted leaders who taught him important lessons and the people he taught the gospel to that will sustain him throughout his life.
We laughed till our sides hurt over the memories of growing up together in NFL towns throughout the country and the little quirks unique to being a part of our family. It was a slice of heaven. Through it all, my wife Keala and I reveled in what is truly one of the most gratifying moments in LDS parents' lives — the reunion with faithful sons who have served their missions honorably and with distinction.
It's much too early in Elliot's mission to begin thinking about his return (only 13 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days to go!) but we remember well the day our older son Keith returned home and look forward to the same wonderful reunion with Elliot.

And just for fun, enjoy a video of a 2009 interview with Brother Sikahema after the jump.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Deseret News: "Mormon missionaries return to Sendai to help Japanese rebuild"

The Deseret News recently posted a story documenting the return of Church missionaries to Sendai, Japan.  We've posted several stories about the impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami on missionaries serving in the area (here, here, here, here, and here).  It's great to see that conditions have improved to the point that missionaries have been allowed to return.

Interestingly, the story features Elder Patrick Hiltbrand, a missionary from Idaho who was previously featured in an news blog story.  The Deseret News story tells of Elder Hiltbrand's return to Sendai:
Thursday, three months after being trapped on the second story of an LDS Church meetinghouse while water from a massive tsunami consumed the city below him, Hiltbrand returned with others from the Sendai Japan Mission to help rebuild this community.
"It is a weird feeling to realize the last time I was here cars were piled up on top of each other," said Hiltbrand, who is from Pocatello, Idaho. "It feels good to be able to serve people and help people where I was able to see what happened to them."
The first order of business for the returning missionaries has been to provide much-needed service to the devastated region:
The first day back in Sendai, the missionaries attended a mission conference. The next day they did what they had wanted to do since the earthquake and tsunami; they returned to the disaster zone and started cleaning up.
Thursday was their second opportunity to service tsunami victims.
The story tells of another young American missionary's experience in returning to Sendai:
"It is good to get into the areas that have been damaged and to come and help people," said Elder Blake Ovard of St. George. "It is good to restore and take care of some of the damage that has been done."
He added, "We are thankful to be back and doing what we can do. We could do this everyday and be happy with it."
Watch a related video after the jump, courtesy of KSL News.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Elliot's June 20 email

Here's the latest message from Elliot.  He's off to Texas!


I'm getting transferred! I'm going to the Wichita Falls South Area in Texas. I will be serving as District Leader and my new companion will be Elder Anderson. So that's gonna be a huge change for me. I really have no idea what to expect but I'm sure it'll be awesome!

Sounds like y'all had a good time in Utah. [We were in Orderville, Utah, for the Adair family renuion.] And Alyssa should be excited for BYU, it's awesome. I just hope you survive girls camp! [Lori and Alyssa are off to girls camp for five days this week.]

Me and Elder Nield had a pretty good week. We taught Tiffany, one of our baptismal dates, and her friend Robert. She's really progressing quickly and has already read the whole Libro de Mormon. We caught up with a few investigators that have been tricky to meet with these past few weeks. The work is really going along in this area. Elder Nield's been an awesome companion. I'm bummed a bit to leave, but hey, that's the mission. There are a lot of awesome people out here who I've really come to love, and I just try my best to help them!

Well I'm fixin to get going here in a minute, sorry for not sending pictures! I just forgot my camera today. But I love y'all!

Elder Elliot Adair

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unto All the World: "The Book of Mormon Testifies of Christ"

A central purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ.  (Title page to the Book of Mormon.)  The Church has produced a video with testimonies of the prophets and apostles affirming the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and its message of the divinity of Christ.  From the Church website, Elder Perry explains:
The Book of Mormon “tells us of the plain and precious truths of the gospel,” says Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In its pages we learn of “the reality and divinity of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for all mankind.”
Elder Holland adds:
The Book of Mormon offers a safe harbor from despair, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches, through the “power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times. ... That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.’” For us to receive the “fullest measure of peace and comfort,” he says, we must embrace “the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies.”
Finally, President Monson urges all of us to develop our own testimonies of the Book of Mormon:
“If you have not read the Book of Mormon, read it,” President Thomas S. Monson urges. “If you do so prayerfully and with a sincere desire to know the truth, the Holy Ghost will manifest its truth to you.”
Enjoy the video after the jump.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Elliot's June 13 email

Here's the latest message from Elliot.  It sounds like he had a great week.


Wow the Pioneer trek [the Valencia California Stake youth, including Elliot's sister Alyssa, went on a pioneer trek this past weekend; see some pictures here]. I'm glad to hear y'all had a good time. It's looks to me like Bishop Cannon [Elliot's previous bishop, pictured] had the right idea though, driving the truck instead of pushing a cart.

I got your package dad, thanks! And mom - I'm actually doing fine on contacts, I still must have 5-6 boxes of them left.

So much awesomeness happened this past week that I don't even know where to start. On Monday night we had a few appointments fall through, so we went and followed up on some people we had met the previous week. One of the 5 or so people we had given a Book of Mormon to the Tuesday before had read the whole thing in two days, which just doesn't happen. Ever. So we set up to come back the next day and had a super awesome lesson. She knows the Book of Mormon's true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and she's excited to get baptized on the 16th of July! She's now introducing us to family and friends and has experienced so much happiness just these past few weeks that she wants to share it with everyone. During Friday night I had a dream about a person that we had tracted into on Thursday. In the dream she dropped us and said she wasn't interested. She lives in Purcell. On Saturday we were working up in Noble, and things fell through later on, around 7. I felt so strongly that we needed to go see this girl though. She really had been on the back of my mind all day. So I told Elder Nield this, he said "Bold moves make winners," and we were immediately headed to her house. The teaching environment wasn't exactly perfect; the ac was blowing super loud and super cold right on me, she was with her boyfriend who didn't seem too interested, and her dad was just hitting the road to go out and party for the night. But we taught anyway. They both started getting more and more interested as the lesson went along, we were testifying and explaining how it had blessed our lives and how it can bless theirs, and when we invited them to be baptized they both said yes! Those were just a few of the experiences from this past week, but so much happened that was all so great. I love this work. I love being guided to know who to see and what to say. I even love knocking doors in 100 degree weather. 

Everything's going good! My only hope right now is that I don't get transferred again!

Love you all!

Elder Elliot Adair

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New pictures of Elliot and the Oklahoma tornadoes

President and Sister Taylor posted a bunch of new pictures on their blog Saturday, including a picture of Elliot when he first met his current companion, Elder Nield, and one of Elder Nield and the Taylors.

The Taylors also posted a few pictures on their blog about the May 24 tornadoes.  We've recounted the story of the tornadoes previously (here, here, here, and here).  What we really wanted to see was a picture of all the missionaries huddled together for safety in the women's restroom at the Moore Stake Center.  And here it is!  It doesn't look like anyone is terribly concerned, thankfully.

And here's proof that Mazzio's really does deliver pizza in the middle of tornadoes.

There are a few more pictures of the day of the tornadoes on the Taylor's blog.  We really appreciate them keeping us up-to-date on the activities of the Oklahoma City mission.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mormon Messages: "Mormon Missionaries: An Introduction"

The Church recently posted a new Mormon Messages video all about missionaries.  It features several missionaries and provides a great introduction into the purpose and mission of these young men and women.  Enjoy the video.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Elliot's June 6 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot, including his own account of the recent tornadoes.  We were correct that he was in meetings at the Stake Center in Moore, OK (pictured), when the tornadoes hit.  Glad everything turned out ok.


So sorry I didn't send y'all an email this past week! The library here in Purcell was closed from like Monday to Thursday, and when we finally got a chance to come Saturday it wouldn't let me log on. But yes, I did survive the tornadoes. It was really crazy.

It was last Tuesday and we had the LTM [leadership training meeting?]. My companion, Elder Nield, was with another missionary in Norman while we were in the Moore Stake Center. After lunch, we were about to get restarted with meetings when President Taylor told all of the District Leaders to call all of the missionaries and make sure they're okay. Then he had us all head in to the girls bathroom, I guess it's the safest room in the Stake Center. We waited it out for a little while until he gave us the green to go to the hallway right outside. Mazzios, incredibly, still delivered the pizza, even with the tornado sirens going off and everything. President was watching really closely with the radio and just looking outside to see if we needed to go back in the bathroom. I guess one of the mission trucks lifted a bit off the ground and it got real dark, prompting President Taylor to yell, "Everybody. get in the bathroom, NOW!" It was epicly intense. But it didn't kill all of us. Some places got wrecked pretty bad though. We've helped clean up in areas around Newcastle. Our missionary work is still moving forward, President doesn't want us using all of our time to clean which is good. But yeah. It was crazy.

This past week, along with proselyting we helped gut, clean, and prepare a pig for our ward's luau. It was gross but awesome, and tasted super good. We had one of our investigators with a baptismal date come to the last hour of our church meetings (he couldn't come to the rest because of work). But he enjoyed it a lot. He said he wants to go to the temple and is very excited about all of the message that we've shared. He still has a way to go, I'm sure, but it's awesome. My English is becoming more Okie-fied every day, like this morning when I accidentally said, "I ain't never had to done that yet." I'm also learing the proper uses of "yonder," "out yonder," and "over yonder."  So life's good.

I got your package mom, thanks! I've already eaten like half of the gummy bears and used most of the gift card. I haven't gotten ("ain't gotted" in Oklahoman) the stuff you ordered yet though dad, but hey that's okay.

Thanks for everything! I hope you have an awesome time in Utah and with school winding down and everything.

I love you!

Elder Elliot Adair

Newhall First Ward Missionary Newsletter

Here is the most recent Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter from Sister Connie Hollingworth.  We really appreciate her putting this together every month!  Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Missionary reports on the Oklahoma tornadoes

We're looking forward to hearing more from Elliot about the recent tornadoes, since we didn't get an email from him last week.  But we did find a couple of reports from other missionaries in Elliot's mission, Elder Woolley and Elder Ellsworth, via their blogs.  We think Elliot was probably with them at a meeting in Moore, Oklahoma, on May 24 when the tornadoes hit.  In his last email, Elliot's companion, Elder Nield, reported that he would be working with a different missionary that week since Elliot would be attending meetings.  Then when we read Elder Woolley's blog and Elder Ellsworth's blog, we put the pieces together.  Both of them were attending meetings at a stake center in Moore, Oklahoma, with the mission president, so we concluded that's likely where Elliot was also.  Everyone was fine, and it turns out that the safest place to hide in the building during a tornado is the women's restroom!  We hope there's a picture somewhere of a group of missionaries and their mission president huddled together in the women's restroom for safety.  And we also learned that the Mazzio's pizza guy delivers during tornadoes.  Talk about a great advertising campaign.

Elder Woolley's blog includes a few pictures and describes some of the work he and other missionaries did to help with cleanup efforts.  It's great to see the missionaries out performing service like that.

And from the adjacent Tulsa Oklahoma mission, we also found a report from a missionary, Elder Swanger, about the tornado that hit Joplin.  You can read it here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Parker Strubhar of Piedmont, OK, at the National Spelling Bee

A few weeks ago we posted about Parker Strubhar, an eighth-grader at Piedmont Middle School in Piedmont, Oklahoma.  Parker's claim to Oklahoma fame was his victory at the recent Central Oklahoma Spelling Bee, which qualified him for this week's Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. 

Parker started out the national competition in terrific fashion.  Of the 275 competitiors who qualified, Parker was one of only 41 who advanced through the first three preliminary rounds.  He performed well on the first round's written test.  Then, in the second and third rounds, he correctly spelled orfevrerie and Meiji to qualify for the semifinals, which are happening today.

Sadly, Parker was eliminated in the fourth round this morning, falling victim to the word "staffage."  But he did a great job representing his school and his home town, which was hit particularly hard in the recent tornadoes.  Congratulations, Parker!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pictures of Carlton Reininger

We received two new pictures of Carlton Reininger from his mission in Argentina.  He looks great, and has even learned how to make empanadas, a favorite food from that part of the world.  Elliot's dad ate a lot of them in Paraguay.

We appreciate Carlton's parting advice to Elliot:  "PS.And tell Elder Adair to try not to fly away during a visit with one of his investigators."  We don't think Elliot flew away in the tornadoes but suspect that things must be pretty chaotic where he is.  Thus, no email this week.

Enjoy the pictures of Carlton after the jump.