Thursday, September 29, 2011

General Conference

The October 2011 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints begins Saturday, October 1, at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City (pictured).  General sessions will begin at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday and Sunday, and a priesthood session will be held at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday.  Information about the conference, including instructions for viewing or listening to the sessions on the internet, is available here.  The conference can also be viewed at many Mormon chapels and on local cable television systems.  This is great opportunity to hear from President Thomas S. Monson (pictured) and the other general authorities of the Church.

For those not familiar with General Conference, here is a recent article from the Washington Post's "On Faith" column, "Why do Mormons hold 'General Conference'?"

A year ago, Elliot got to sing in a missionary choir at the Priesthood session of General Conference.  You can see pictures of him here and here.

Favorite stories on Elliot's blog

We reported yesterday that Elliot's blog had reached 20,000 page hits.  Much like a sitcom that creates a flashback show of favorite scenes on reaching certain milestones, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the most popular stories on the blog thus far.  It's nearly impossible to predict what stories will get the most visitors and what stories will be largely ignored.  Either way, we enjoy posting the stories and seeing if anyone reads them.  So, in true countdown fashion, here are the ten most popular stories on Elliot's blog through today.

Elliot was in Clinton in western Oklahoma for about three months earlier this year, with Elder Gonzalez and Elder Kimber.  This was a fun post, with little tidbits about Clinton and the surrounding area, and lots of pictures.

This post was really just a picture of Elliot and a friend from home, Justin Peacock, when they were serving in the MTC together.  Justin is now on his mission in Mexico City.

8.  Mormon Messages: "Book of Mormon: An Introduction"

We have posted numerous videos created by the Church and posted on the YouTube Mormon Channel.  This was a video about the Book of Mormon, with a message from Elder Jeffrey Holland.

7.  Elliot's new area: Wichita Falls, Texas

Elliot has been in Wichita Falls since late June, with Elder Andersen, Elder Jacobson, and Elder Lang.  This post tells all about the city and includes one of my personal favorites of the entire blog -- a video clip from King of the Hill that depicts in hilarious fashion the fierce rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas.

6.  Bats, space shuttles, and high school football

This was an odd little story about some unexpected consequences of the ongoing drought in Texas and Oklahoma.  Apparently people are fascinated with the more than a million bats that live under a bridge in Austin!

5.  Oklahoma City Museum of Art: "Passages"

"Passages" is an amazing display at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art all about the history of the Bible.  The display will be open for just another couple of weeks, until October 16.  Our story included some spectacular pictures of some of the items on display.

4.  Tornado in Joplin, Missouri

In May of this year, a devastating tornado hit Joplin, about 250 miles from Purcell, Oklahoma, where Elliot was then stationed.  There was a lot of tornado activity throughout the region at about the same time but, thankfully, none near Elliot.

3.  Hallelujah Chorus: Flash Mobs and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Shortly before Christmas 2010, Elliot's sister Alyssa participated in a flash mob performance of the Hallelujah Chorus at a local mall.  In the spirit of the season, we compiled a bunch of YouTube videos of other similar performances around the country, and that proved to be a popular attraction.  Plus, how can you go wrong with a Peanuts cartoon and a video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?

2.  Missionary service: The story of Sid Going

We never dreamed this would be such a popular story, probably because we're rather ignorant about rugby.  We posted this because it was a great story about a young missionary, Sid Going, who chose to serve despite a tremendously promising professional rugby career.  The punch line of the story is that, after his mission, he became one of the all-time greats of the sport.  Our little story became a hit with rugby fans all over, including from Elder Going's home of New Zealand.

And finally, by a huge landslide, the most popular story so far on Elliot's blog is . . .

1.  Tornado tales

We posted this story on April 16 of this year after a series of storms and tornadoes hit Oklahoma, causing two deaths and a lot of property damage.  The story includes a really cool night time picture of a tornado illuminated by lightning bolt.  But the story didn't really take off until about a month later when, on May 24, powerful tornadoes hit western Oklahoma and Oklahoma City, bouncing all around Elliot's area of Noble-Purcell.  Elliot's dad was a nervous wreck all day, monitoring the tornado reports on the internet emergency radio channel and in a local news chat room.  That afternoon, the blog story exploded, getting dozens and then hundreds of hits as people searched the internet for news about the tornadoes.  Ultimately, the story reached nearly 10,000 page hits.

And there you have it, the ten most popular stories on Elliot's blog through approximately 13 months of his mission.  Less than eleven months to go!  Stay tuned . . .

Page hits and Tucker's Onion Burgers

Our little blog about Elliot's mission to Oklahoma City started with its first post on August 10, 2010, the day he was set apart as a missionary and the day before he reported to the Missionary Training Center.  We've had a lot of fun with the blog since that very first post.  We've posted Elliot's weekly emails and occasional pictures, stuff that we found interesting about Oklahoma and Texas, stories and videos from the Church, and whatever else struck our fancy.  And somebody must be reading, since earlier this evening we had our 20,000th page hit!  Now, in the world of blogging that's not a very big number but it's more than we ever expected.  Thanks for reading!

And since you probably didn't visit the blog to read about page hits, here's a fun story about a cool new restaurant in Oklahoma City, Tucker's Onion Burgers.  Converted from an old Texaco service station, Tucker's is a haven for burgers, fries, salad, soda, lemonade, and shakes.  Their specialty is, of course, onion burgers.  What's the story behind onion burgers, you ask?  From Tucker's website, here's the answer:
The humble beginnings of the Oklahoma Onion Burger lie in economic necessity. In the 1920s, a smattering of cafes in Western Oklahoma sought ways to stretch beef further in their menu offerings. Cooks found that ground beef pressed with a pile of thinly shredded onions not only tasted good but helped cafes stay profitable as the Great Depression loomed. Soon, diners and cafes all over Oklahoma were serving fried onion burgers, and they have been a staple ever since.
The Onion Burger capital of the world is nearby El Reno, OK, where three famous diners inhabit a three block radius--serving delicious fried Onion Burgers to throngs of eager patrons. Every May a festival is held in honor of the onion burger, and a team of volunteers produce an 800 pound Onion Burger for festival goers.
The El Reno Fried Onion Burger Day sounds like a hoot, especially with an 800 pound onion burger!

For Elliot, Tucker's is more than happy to include jalapenos on his burger.  We'll have to check with him to see if he can find his way to Tucker's when he's in OKC.

Enjoy this video about Tucker's.  Watching it made me very hungry.  And here are more pictures of Tucker's.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Elliot's September 26 email and picture

Here's the latest message from Elliot, and a new picture too.

Hola familia,

I love that chapter mom. Romans 8 is really one of my favorite in all of the scriptures. In fact I just opened up to that chapter and it had a little card as a bookmark in it. I like verses 16-18, especially 18 which says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." That's strong words: our sufferings aren't worthy to be compared to our goal. Pretty awesome I think.

Well I hope y'all are adjusting alright to a quieter home. Is Alyssa enjoying college so far? I hope so.

I'm doing pretty good. Elder Jacobson and I both got sick for a few days this past week. It wasn't super bad, but a number of the ward members had it. We still had a good week though. On Saturday we biked 32 miles. We had to go see all of the Spanish people that the other Elders in WF had run into because I'm the only Spanish missionary. It was a lot of biking, and my legs are a bit sore, but it was fun. I don't plan on ever doing it again though haha. Too much.

President Taylor came to our ward this week. He spoke in Sacrament meeting and gave an incredible talk. He spoke about missionary work and more specifically about the Doctrine of Christ, which is what he always talks about. But it's the most important thing to understand. It's faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism (sacrament) and other covenants, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. A lot of my study on the mission has been dedicated to understanding more fully these principles and ordinances. It really is the key to salvation. I'm just here to help people understand this and apply it in their own lives.

Adrinne is still doing well. We're just trying to pinpoint a day for her baptism within these next few weeks. Her faith has grown so much. It's so awesome to see how humble and willing to change she is, and how much the gospel has already helped her. She's awesome.

This week I'm gonna be heading up to OK City for a 2 day LTM [leadership training meeting]. It should be really cool as always. I hope y'all have a great General Conference weekend!


Elder Elliot Adair

Sunday, September 25, 2011

TV news interview of two Memphis area missionaries

I happened onto this video of a news interview of two Mormon missionaries in Memphis. It presents a fairly realistic picture of everyday missionary life and is not staged or heavily produced. They're not perfect, just a couple of young missionaries doing their best as they carry the message of the gospel to the people of Memphis. Enjoy the video.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Members return to church following Bastrop Complex fire

An Austin, Texas, news website, YNN, recently interviewed members of the church who were displaced by the massive Bastrop Complex fire.  It's a great story of faith as members returned to church after the fire, which destroyed the homes of many members, including a couple who have been called to serve a mission in Russia. 
Sheryl Storm and her husband are preparing to spend more than a year in Russia as missionaries. She says losing everything in the fire will make that easier.

"My concerns were for my house and some of the things and they're gone. I'm free, I'm totally free. When I come back, I have infinite possibilities," Storm said.
I can't post the video on the blog but you can see it and read the story here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Elliot's September 19 email and picture

Here's the latest message from Elliot.  It looks like he finally got his dad's haircut!  As to what he's eating, I have absolutely no idea.  Leave your guesses in the comments section.


I got the package mom! Thank you so much. I wore the tie that you gave me to church yesterday. Also, yes the strawberry stuff you gave me all melted together, but it was definitely still very good. And the Subway gift card is perfecto! Y el CD!

Man it's nice to be in Texas. It's weird. This is officially the longest I've been in an area. It's good, because this is a great area and the people are awesome. Plus, it rained this week! We had some crazy storms roll through. A lot of lightning and thunder.

This week was kinda tough though. My companion's bike was out of commission every day besides Sunday. We finally got it back from the shop Saturday night, and then he got a flat Sunday morning. On Saturday we walked 5-6 miles to an appointment that ended up falling through anyway. But we still had quite a few good things happen.

Adrinne is doing really well. We visited with her a few times this past week and she wants to get baptized very badly. We have a few challenges to overcome, but she has had such an incredible increase in faith that I don't think anything is gonna get in her way. She's so awesome. We hope to be able to do anything we can to help her out. We have a few other things that are moving along pretty well too. So I'm happy.

I love y'all!

Elder Elliot Adair

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Missionaries continue to provide service in Japan

I love stories of missionary service, and there have been many such stories in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.  A pair of recent reports (here and here) document the service rendered by a group of 80 missionaries who helped to restore a Shinto shrine in Tagajo, right outside Sendai.
The Yawata Shrine had been devastated by the tsunami with cars washed into the grounds, the shrine flooded, and sacred relics scattered and destroyed. Eighty missionaries from Tokyo spent the day clearing out the debris and salvaging the shrine's treasures.
Their service did not go unnoticed by local religious leaders.
When Moriyasu Ito at Meiji Shrine saw the pictures of the service project in Tagajo he was overwhelmed and contacted the Church, which has had a long-standing relationship with the shrine. A priest who has responsibility for international affairs at the shrine, he has studied at BYU and lived with an LDS family in Provo, Utah.
He exclaimed, "Even we have not done anything to help the shrines in Tohoku. We want to know why the Mormons have done this."
At the invitation of leaders of the Mejia Shrine in Tokyo, missionaries and their leaders had an opportunity to explain why they render such service.
President William S. Albrecht of the Japan Tokyo Mission introduced eight missionaries who had worked on the project. Each of the missionaries spoke before a group of around 50 priests and employees, describing the feelings they had while working at the Yawata Shrine. Warmth, gratitude and happiness were a consistent theme in their remarks. During a question-and-answer session, Meiji priests asked why the missionaries chose to go on a full-time mission. The missionaries discussed their personal motivation for taking time out of their lives to give service to Christ.
Sister Cindy Grames, a full-time missionary who directs Public Affairs in the Asia North Area with her husband, Elder Conan Grames, explained, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has great respect and appreciation for Meiji Shrine and its clergy. The Yawata project was an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between our two religions as well as lend a helping hand to a friend. The Shinto religion epitomizes the culture and beauty of this great nation. We were pleased to help."

msnbc: "Texas drought worsens from 'abysmal'"

A recent msnbc story, Texas drought worsens from 'abysmal', reminds us how bad the drought conditions are in Texas and surrounding areas, including Oklahoma.
"Texas conditions continue to deteriorate what little they can from abysmal," the U.S. Drought Monitor stated. That was due to drought expanding into "the southeast, central, south-central, Big Bend region, and extreme south around Brownsville."
The drought conditions have combined with extreme, record-breaking heat in Texas, to create conditions that resulted in the extraordinary wildfires that ravaged the state.
From June through August, Texas suffered the hottest three months ever recorded in the United States, according to the National Weather Service. And the 12 months ending on Aug. 31 were the driest 12 months in Texas history, with most of the state receiving just 21 percent of its annual average rainfall.
This link depicts the progression of the drought over the past twelve months.  Elliot's mission, which encompasses the western half of Texas and northern Oklahoma, is right in the heart of the hardest hit areas.

After the jump, see how some Texans are dealing with the drought conditions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oklahoma State Fair opens Thursday

Who doesn't love a good state fair?  Rides, attractions, deep-fried cotton candy on a stick -- what's not to love?  Well, if you're in Oklahoma City between September 15 and 25, you're in luck, because the Oklahoma State Fair opens tomorrow.  There will be great rodeo action, featuring the Xtreme Bulls Tour.  And musical acts galore: Easton Corbin, the Oak Ridge Boys, the Eli Young Band, Leon Russell, Candy Coburn, Lee Brice, AllStar Weekend, Sanctus Real, the Elvis Extravaganza, the Texaco Country Showdown, En Vogue, the Village People, and the Centennial Rodeo Opry.  While you're there, you can visit the City of AGtropolis, get a taste of old Oklahoma with the Centennial Frontier Experience, and experience the Barnyard Birthing CenterDisney on Ice will perform, and there will be an array of other special events and competitions.

But what's the best part of any state fair?  No, not the rides.  It's the food, obviously!  I love this list of fair food facts:
The Oklahoma State Fair has three different types of Corn Dogs:
  • Regular
  • Poncho Dogs (made with a sweeter and fluffier batter)
  • Waffle Dogs (made with waffle batter)
Each year, at the Oklahoma State Fair, our food vendors serve:
  • Almost 900 unique food items
  • Over 20,000 funnel cakes
  • Almost 200,000 corn dogs
  • Over 4,500,000 ounces of ice cold drinks
Foods that you can find on-a-stick at the Oklahoma State Fair:
  • Frozen Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake
  • Deep-Fried Creole Sausage
  • Deep-Fried Cheese
  • Alligator
  • Chicken
  • Steak
  • Chocolate-Dipped Cookie Dough
  • Mac N Cheese
  • Deep-Fried Manicotti
  • Cheeseburger
  • Deep-Fried Mashed Potatoes
  • Foot Long Chocolate-Dipped Rice Krispie Treat
  • Funnel Cake
Yum!  I think you can gain weight just from reading the list of deep-fried specialties.

After the jump, you can see a map of the fairgrounds and a video of a news report.  Enjoy the fair!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Elliot's September 12 email

Here's the latest message from Elliot.  He's staying in Wichita Falls for at least six more weeks and loving it.


Transfers! I'm staying! This'll be my first 3 transfer area and 2 transfer companion. I'll be staying in Wichita Falls South with Elder Jacobson, Elder Lang will be opening a new area, Wichita Falls Central and will still be in my district. We're gonna have the youngest, largest, and according to President Taylor, the most solid district in the mission. There will be 8 Elders and 2 senior couples. We're gonna have 2 greenies, a missionary on his second transfer, and 2 missionaries on their third, me and Lang who have been out for 13 months, and Elder Duke, 18 months. In a lot of missions this would be 2 districts and therefore a zone, but I'm excited. I have a lot cut out for me but that's a good thing. I'm so glad to be staying in Texas. I love this area. We have good work going and should see great things happen here these next 3 weeks.

This past week was hectic. I went on exchanges with the Wichita Falls North Elders, Duke and Jacobs on Wednesday, exchanges in Burkburnett with Elders Guinto and Heyland from Friday to Saturday, and then went to Lawton with the APs (Elder Frampton and Elder Timoteo), Elder Kimber and Elder Duke from Saturday to Sunday to teach soldiers at Ft. Sill. It was so busy but pretty awesome. I was able to make some visits with the North and had some good lessons. I conducted a baptismal interview for a 12 year old investigator in Burk and was able to go to the baptism which was awesome. And then I taught the message of the Restoration to a group of 15 soldiers by myself at Ft. Sill on Sunday. It was way intense and tough, but a good experience. I felt the Spirit very strongly as I taught them and hopefully it sunk in for them too. I committed a few of them to baptism, though not with a specific date. Our investigators back in my own area are doing well too. We had an awesome Family Home Evening with Adrinne and her son came to church for the first time with her this past Sunday (though I wasn't there for it). But things are going really well. I'm excited for the work and am grateful for the opportunity to be here. 

I love y'all!

Elder Elliot Adair

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mormon Messages: "Finding Hope - 10th Anniversary of 9/11"

On this tenth anniversary of 9/11, take a few minutes for this video account of a survivor, a member of the church who describes the events of the day and the effect they had on his life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

President Thomas S. Monson reflects on 9/11

The Washington Post has published a series of "On Faith" commentaries, featuring columns written by prominent religious figures as they share their thoughts and reflections on the tenth anniversary of September 11.  One of the columns, "9/11 destruction allowed us to spiritually rebuild," was authored by President Thomas S. Monson.  He wrote:

If there is a spiritual lesson to be learned from our experience of that fateful day, it may be that we owe to God the same faithfulness that He gives to us. We should strive for steadiness, and for a commitment to God that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. It should not require tragedy for us to remember Him, and we should not be compelled to humility before giving Him our faith and trust. We too should be with Him in every season.
The rest of his column can be found here, and here is a Church news release about the column.

Other "On Faith" columns featured in the Washington Post have been authored by Desmond Tutu, T.D. Jakes, Feisal Abdul Rauf, Donald WuerlKatharine Jefferts Schori, Mark Driscoll, Karen Armstrong, Deepak Chopra, and Yasir Qadhi.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Elliot's September 6 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, a day late due to Labor Day.  There's also two pictures after the jump.


It's not 110 outside! It doesn't even feel real, but it's awesome. Now we just need rain. I haven't really been affected by the fires. We can see some smoke though from the one near Lawton, but it's all pretty far away from what I can tell.

I really am enjoying being in a 3-some. In some ways it's challenging, and doing some things takes longer than if it was just 2 of us. It's so fun though. We'll be together until at least next Wednesday, when we have transfers. I really hope I don't get transferred again, but judging by my track record there's a good chance. I love Texas.

This past week was tough but good. Quite a few things fell through and quite a few tires got flat, but that happens. We have finished teaching Adrinne all of the lessons now, and she seems pretty excited about all of it. She's so awesome. It's been so cool to work with her, see her faith grow, and just have a good time about it. We're planning on going bowling for family home evening sometime this week. We have a few other investigators that are going pretty well right now too. We have 3 appointments tonight with investigators so it should be cool. I'm excited for the work and just trying to stay strong during this middle stretch of my mission.

This past week we went to an investigator's house on the far northeast side of Wichita Falls, which isn't the best area. We knew there was a path next to the Wichita River so we tried to find it instead of riding back on the streets. We ended up getting on a mountain bike trail on the wrong side of the river, but it was so sweet. We were still able to talk to a few people and had a super fun time, but it made me think about how you always go biking, dad. It was pretty cool. We can go ride in 11 months.

Love yall!

Elder Elliot Adair

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, Ian Loveland, CJ Norris, and Carlton Reininger.  We really appreciate Sister Hollingworth putting this together every month!  Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

9/11 Memorial Performance Featuring Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Tom Brokaw

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square will present a special 9/11 memorial performance of Music & the Spoken Word on Sunday, September 11th. Celebrated news anchor Tom Brokaw will join the Choir as a guest narrator. The program will highlight how Americans have risen above the loss and grief of 9/11/2001.

The program will present, in music and word, how that tragedy—and other challenges faced by everyday Americans—have bound our nation together, and inspired us to lead lives of deeper understanding, appreciation and purpose.

Mack Wilberg, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, said:
As much sorrow and grief as came from 9/11, there have also come positives. In this program, we wanted to show how the indomitable American spirit turned a tragedy into a triumph of coming together and caring and serving. The message of this show is that—as individuals and as a nation—we can find healing and strength in adversity, and literally rise above all the negatives.
"9/11: Rising Above" will be broadcast on Sunday, September 11th on approximately 750 stations and networks in the US and Canada. A large number of these (including many NBC network affiliates) will be carrying a Music & the Spoken Word program for the first time. Airtimes and station information can be found here. The program will be streamed live on the internet on BYU-TVBYU-Radio, and KSL and can be heard on SiriusXM Radio channel 143.

More details may be found here and here.

Mormon Messages: "The Book of Mormon: A Book with a Promise"

We have featured stories about the Book of Mormon on Elliot's blog a couple of times (here and here).  Here is another video about the Book of Mormon from Mormon Messages, featuring an address by Elder Craig C. Christensen, "A Book with a Promise."  Enjoy the video, and read the excerpted portions of his address after the jump.