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!