Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elliot's Home!

It's hard to believe that, after two seemingly very long years, Elliot has finally returned home! Here are a few of the first shots of him as he arrived at the airport to meet his parents, his sister Alyssa, and his grandparents Cliff and Darla Munson. His brother Keith, sister-in-law Kim and her family, and new niece Addie will arrive over the weekend. The Adair house will be a very full and happy place.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Elliot's August 13 email

Here's the latest - and FINAL! - email from Elliot. We'll see him this Thursday when he returns home from Oklahoma. Again, he and Carlton Reininger will speak this coming Sunday, August 19, at church in Newhall. Everyone is welcome and invited. Here are the details. And here's Elliot's final message home.

Wow, I can't believe that this really is the last week. I have loved my mission so much. I have learned so much and grown a lot, and I love the people here. I can't believe it's been a couple days longer than 2 years now that I entered the MTC. You never think at the beginning that it'll end. You get to the middle and you practically can't remember life outside of the mission, like that's what you've always done and that's what you'll always do. Then you get to the end and it doesn't feel real. In the moment it goes by so fast, but looking back I can see all of my areas, all of the people I've met and taught, all of my companions, all of the great times and all of the challenges. I have no idea how it all got crammed into two years. It was like a lifetime of experiences on fast forward. I'm so grateful for all of it. It's definitely changed who I am for the better and I hope that I've been able to help some of God's children along the way.

It's definitely true that I have mixed emotions and feelings at this point, but I feel at this point I've done what was my duty and now's the time to go back and apply everything I've learned out here to normal life. I can't say that I'm sad, but I for sure will miss this. Oklahoma will always have a part of me. But I'm super happy and excited that I'll get to see y'all! I'm excited for what's to come and hope to make the most out of whatever life puts in front of me.

See y'all soon!


Elder Elliot

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Faye Hansen - Ms. Senior Oklahoma

Here's a great video and NewsOK story about Faye Hansen, the reigning Ms. Senior Oklahoma from Calumet, Oklahoma, about 45 minutes northwest of Oklahoma City. Ms. Hansen, some 80 years young, won the competition in July by impressing the judges with her ragtime piano skills. She will compete for the national title in October in Atlantic City. She keeps her musical skills fresh by playing every Sunday at the First Christian Church in Calumet, and also plays at nursing homes and the Clinton Veterans Center in Clinton, one of Elliot's first areas.

Stories like this about good people like Ms. Hansen remind me why I've always loved Oklahoma. I'm glad Elliot has had the great experience of spending the last two years there. He'll be home Thursday!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One last picture of Carlton Reininger

As I posted Elliot's email and pictures on the blog yesterday, I realized that those were likely the last images we'd see of him before we see him at the airport next Thursday, August 16. And then I got a picture of Carlton Reininger from Argentina, who will return just one day before Elliot, and realized that would be the last picture of Carlton as well. We've featured Carlton on the blog several times. He and Elliot received their calls on the same day and opened them together, were in the MTC at the same time, will return one day apart, and will speak at the same church meeting on August 19 (details here). So we certainly have a soft spot in our hearts for Carlton. Here's the last picture of Carlton from Argentina, and we look forward to seeing him in person very soon.

Elliot's (and Carlton Reininger's) homecoming address at church

For those not on Facebook, here are the details of Elliot's homecoming address. Carlton Reininger will speak at the same meeting. Everyone is invited to come hear them speak and share their experiences on their return from two-year missions to Oklahoma (Elliot) and Argentina (Carlton).
  • Where: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 24915 Peachland Avenue, Newhall, California 91321 (map below)
  • When: August 19, 2012, 1:00 p.m.
  • Who: Everyone!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bible Video: "Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes"

 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Elliot's August 6 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, along with four new pictures, including two that show the temperature in Oklahoma City. 120 at 1:38 p.m.! And 109 at 8:44 p.m.! It's a little toasty there. And this may be the last real email we get from Elliot. Next Monday, he'll only have two full days left in Oklahoma, so we may get a brief message, or maybe none at all.


No I can't believe it's August mom! Isn't that wild? These weeks are starting to feel like days. This past week was very literally a blur to me. But very hot. I think God's turning up the refiner's fire for me here at the end of my mission haha.

Oklahoma's good! I hadn't heard anything about fires here [we posted about them on the blog, here and here], but I did definitely smell smoke outside when we played tennis this morning for our work out. But I'm fine. We really had a good and eventful week. Probably the highlight of all of it was when the Hermanas [sister missionaries] had a baptism on Saturday. His name's Santiago and I'll be sure to attach a picture. He actually asked me to confirm him which was a way cool experience. Sometime's its intense to see how much opposition is thrown at people right before they get baptized. He definitely saw a lot of it these past few weeks but he stayed strong and he was so happy. It was great.

Sounds good about the homecoming talk. It's true that I've had to wing quite a few talks and lessons over these past two years, but I'm definitely going to make sure I'm ready for this one. And I saw that you asked about my favorite hymn - I like Come, Follow Me [link to music player app].

Well have a great week! The first picture is Santiago with the district. The next picture is of me and my district after my last district meeting, mourning my passing from the mission life to the next life. Classic. Then we got a few examples of how incredibly hot it was this past week.

I love y'all!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mormon Messages: "The Value of a Full-time Mission"

Elliot has just ten days until he returns from his two-year mission to Oklahoma. We have seen him change and grow over the past two years, as the experiences he has had as a full-time missionary have helped to shape him into the man he is today.

Serving a mission is unquestionably a life-changing experience, as the young European men and women featured in this video will soon learn. They share their thoughts as they prepare for their own missions, and express the same excitement, nervousness and anxiety that all aspiring missionaries must feel. Enjoy the video.

Updates on Oklahoma wildfires

Updating yesterday's story on the blog, here are additional news reports from Sunday morning about the Oklahoma wildfires. Certain of the fires are not too far from Oklahoma City, but they are not near Elliot's area and there has been no word from the mission office.

video platform video management video solutions video player - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wildfires raging in Oklahoma

Wildfires that began Thursday and Friday continue to rage across central and western Oklahoma, as temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees for 19 consecutive days. It reminds me of my experience in the late 1990s as I attempted to drive to Oklahoma City from Ponca City in northern Oklahoma. I had to detour nearly to Tulsa to avoid a wall of flame that stretched for many miles across the central part of the state. High temperatures and drought conditions have created ideal conditions for these fires.

Several pictures, news stories and videos are posted below. We've heard nothing from Elliot's mission office but will post again if we do. Based on the news reports we have seen, the area where Elliot is currently assigned does not appear to have been affected.

Dozens of homes destroyed in Oklahoma wildfires

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fires destroy houses across the state Friday

Oklahoma wildfires: Homes burned, residents evacuate as more than a dozen fires burn in Oklahoma

Monday, July 30, 2012

Elliot's July 30 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, along with several new pictures.


Glad to know everything's going well back at home. That's exciting that Addie is going to be blessed in the same Sacrament meeting that Carlton and I are speaking. And we're singing haha. That is going to be a packed meeting but that's awesome. I'm excited.

Things are good here on this end! We had a really fun week. The Branch asked us to teach Kimberly, an 8 year old daughter of recent converts here, the lessons before she got baptized. Her baptism was this past Saturday and it was a really cool experience. Definitely a very sweet Spirit. We also have had some very good lessons. 2 of our investigators tried to come to church yesterday but ended up by accident in the church across the street. Whoops! We saw them last night and they're really excited about everything we've taught them. So I'm happy and doing well.

And I got some pictures today to send! The first is lil' busta, my rubber duckie that's been my flying companion on my bike for about the last year. The next is me. Then we got Hno. Mauro and his daughter, Kimberly, at her baptism. And last is me and Grimaldo. He helps us out all the time. He's great and I like his glasses.

Love ya!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus Heals a Woman of Faith"

 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

2012 Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie

This October some great bluegrass pickers will gather in Guthrie for the 16th Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival. Headlining the festival will be Vince Gill, who performed in the inaugural event in 1997 and again in 2002. A host of other great acts will perform, including:
And many more. If you happen to be in Oklahoma October 4-6, this is a can't-miss-it event. For ticket information, click here.

For some fun background information about the festival and its founder Byron Berline, check out this NewsOK report. It tells the story of Mr. Berline's efforts to track down a young tenor by the name of Vince Gill, randomly dialing all the "Gill" listings in the phone book until he finally found Vince's dad. That began a long personal and professional relationship that continues today. In the picture above, Vince is seen accepting an award on being inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, presented to him by his friend and fellow Hall of Fame Member, Mr. Berline. Enjoy the story, as well as this news video about the festival, featuring Mr. Berline. And don't stop scrolling down, where you find video performances by Vince Gill, Hunt Family Bluegrass, and Beppe Gambetta.

Justin Peacock returns home!

Justin Peacock is one of Elliot's friends from Valencia. Justin and Elliot were briefly in the Missionary Training Center together way back in August 2010, just before Justin left for his mission to Mexico. We posted a great picture of the two of them here on the blog. And we've been keeping track of Justin via his own blog.

Justin returned from his mission last week and spoke today in church. As you can see from this picture with his parents, it looks like everyone is happy to have him home! (Only 18 more days until we'll be posting a similar picture of Elliot's homecoming!)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Elliot's July 23 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot. 24 days to go!


Okay, I'm going to get at your questions first while I'm thinking about them:

[The family stuff has been redacted.]

I can't really think of a whole lot else I'm going to have to do when I get back. Have you set up an appointment with the President Carlson for the Thursday I get back? The only other thing that's coming to mind is that I'm seriously gonna need some In-N-Out as soon as I get in haha. Like probably before I even get back to the house. No joke.

Things are still awesome here in OK City. Still working hard, we found 10 new investigators this week and set a couple of baptismal dates. It was really a fun week, despite the heat. My companions are super rad and I'm loving it. I also got my flight plans this week. It's crazy to think how little time I have left, so I usually just don't think about it. I feel I've got only a few weeks left to show my love and appreciation towards God full time, so I'm just making the most out of it. I love these people out here and I'm just trying to do what I can to help as many of them out the best I know how.

But I'm doing great! I'm glad to hear everyone's doing good.


Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"So you still think God is a merciful God?!"

Forgive me from straying from the usual topics of Elliot's missionary blog. In addition to posting Elliot's weekly emails home, I usually focus on stories about Oklahoma, missions and missionaries, temples and other church topics, and occasionally other tangentially-related topics. I strive to stay away from controversy, politics, and tragedy. But it's hard to ignore the recent horror that happened in Aurora, Colorado. I don't suppose there's any way to make sense of such unimaginable events, and I won't pretend to do so here on the blog. I will, however, share the thoughts of a survivor of that night, a Christian woman who attended the movie with her husband and children. On returning home from that night, she sat down to document her thoughts, focusing on the question, "So you still think God is a merciful God?!" A portion of her answer:
“So, you still believe in a merciful God?” Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way. 
Yes, I do indeed. 
Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.
She later adds:
Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4 [King James version]
God is always good. 
Man is not. 
Don’t get the two confused. 
We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.
The full blog post is available here.

CNN: Salt Lake Mormon Temple One of Eight “Religious Wonders” in U.S.

CNN recently featured the Salt Lake Temple in a story, "8 religious wonders to see in the U.S." Describing the temple and its construction, the story explains.
Only temple recommended Mormons may step foot inside the structure, which is used for special instruction and ordinances, such as celestial marriages. But the view from outside the temple is inspirational enough.
The Neo-Gothic building, which was dedicated in 1893, took 40 years to construct. Except for some of its hardware and glass, the temple was built completely of native materials. With five floors, six spires -- the tallest standing at 210 feet -- and a granite facade, the structure is definitely imposing.
Here are a couple of videos of the Salt Lake Temple. The first is a series of exterior shots set to music, and the second is a video of a scaled model of the temple showing the interior.

The other seven religious wonders in the CNN story are:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Elliot's July 16 email and pictures

Here's the latest news from Elliot in Oklahoma City. And for anyone who's curious, we are now at 30 days until he returns home!

Well, I had a good week! We had some cool finding experiences again and had some really good lessons with a couple of our investigators. This weekend I went to Ft. Sill with the Assistants Elder Phillips (my MTC comp) and Elder Cook. It was a lot of fun. We had some extra time on Saturday night when we drove down to Lawton so we went to Mount Scott and read scriptures. It was really nice to have some meditation time to contemplate everything I've learned out here and how it'll apply to my everyday life. I love it. And I got some pictures. At Ft. Sill I got to teach a soldier all of the commandments. It was a really cool experience. He was so willing and ready to receive the gospel and is looking forward to being baptized in a few weeks.

I'm doing well.  I hope you guys are having a great week!


Elder Elliot

Monday, July 9, 2012

Elliot's July 9 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, with a couple of new pictures.


Things are going well here in OKC. My new companions are Elder Christian Anderson from Danville, CA and Elder Matt Fales from Cody, Wyoming. They're both awesome missionaries and I'm super excited to be serving with them. I think this will be an awesome transfer. We're still in the same area- OKC 4th Central, and its going well. We've had a couple of our investigators go out of town this past week but we have a lot of people we're trying to teach and follow up with.

This past Wednesday was transfers and it was wild. Elder Grover and Elder Kimber (both former companions) went home and so did a handful of other missionaries I've served around. Its crazy how fast it goes, and that's why I'm so glad to be serving with Elder Fales and Elder Anderson who are both young missionaries. Not that I would have become unmotivated to work hard for my last 6 weeks if I wasn't with them, but their energy and enthusiasm are contagious. I just love this work. Every single day I get to see the Lord's hand producing miracles, and it brings so much happiness that I think is comparable to only very few experiences in life. So why slow down? I'm just living the dream.

I also got a couple pictures from transfers-the first is my 4 hijos (trainees) in the mission and me (left to right-Elder Anderson, Elder Jacobson, me, Elder Nield, and Elder Orellana), and the second is me with the hermanas in my district from last transfer (Hermana Garcia, me, Hermana Goodfellow, and Hermana Turner).

I'm glad to hear things are going well and that you're able to go meet Addie mom! That's exciting! I hope y'all have a great week!

Love you!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bible Videos: "The Calling of the Original Twelve Apostles"

 1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphæus, and Lebbæus, whose surname was Thaddæus;
 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Howard Council: Lawton's legendary saddle maker

This story represents what I love about Oklahoma.

Elliot's last area, Lawton, is home to Howard Council, a legendary saddle maker who has been making beautiful saddles - one at a time - since 1950 at his shop on 2nd Street. The picture above is from his earliest days in 1950. His saddles have been used by 12 rodeo world champions and by country music star George Strait (pictured), among many others.

Mr. Council was recently featured in a KSWO report, which describes his decades of experience. From the story:
Walk in the door and you're back in time when quality meant Made in America, made by hand, and it's still being made by Howard. He made his first saddle in 1950, after he taught himself how to do it. He doesn't know how many he's made since then, probably more than a thousand but one thing's for sure; world champions love his saddles, especially calf ropers.
"I made saddles for 12 World Champions, and between them they won 25 World Championships. And then World Champion All Around's, I've had 20 of those, well 20 All Around's have been won on my saddles. Trevor Brazile, who is the current world champion All Around, has won 9 All Around's just by himself."
But saddles aren't the only works of art that Mr. Council creates. He is also a self-taught painter, and both his saddles and his paintings are featured at an exhibit at the Museum of the Great Plains.

Mr. Council's philosophy is best summed up as follows:
Back at the shop the walls are littered with a who's who of calf ropers, barrel racers and National Finals Rodeo Contestants. Most people call them customers, not Howard. 
"We haven't made a lot of money but we've made a lot of friends, I call them friends. Customers, but friends all over, literally all over the United States and Canada even."
That sounds like the Oklahomans I know. Good people, honest, hard-working people, dedicated to the work they do and the people they serve. I don't know if Elliot ever had occasion to see Mr. Council's shop, a small building with a large horse on the roof. It would have been a great place to visit.

And finally, here's video about Mr. Council from KSWO. Enjoy.

KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

My San Antonio: "Moms of Mormon missionaries bond together"

Missions are probably the hardest on the mothers of young Mormon missionaries. It's a challenge to send a son or daughter away for 18 to 24 months, often to a remote corner of the world, with only a weekly letter or email and twice-yearly phone calls to fill the void after some 20 years of nearly constant contact. But as a missionary leaves, a bond develops between the parents of missionaries, as we share stories and experiences with other missionary parents. We have several other missionaries out from our ward currently, and we enjoy talking with their parents and reading reports about their experiences, including in the ward missionary newsletters that we have shared here on Elliot's blog.

A group of moms from Mesa, Arizona, have taken that experience to a new level. Several missionary moms (pictured) gather monthly to share their experiences and lend support to each other. From a recent story in My San Antonio online:
"We come together once a month to get connected with moms," said Debbie Forrest, whose son, Aaron, is serving in Spain right now. "It's inspirational for us. Sometimes a missionary is having a tough time. We're supporting each other. It's tough as a mom when you hear your son is struggling and you can't even call him. You get an email, but that's not enough."
Another missionary mom, Kim Riches, put it this way.
"Nobody told me how really hard it is on the mom," she said. "You know it's hard, but it's really hard. You wouldn't have him anywhere else, but it's really hard."
And while much of the support these moms provide to each other is emotional, there is a lot of practical support too.
"With the moms group, whenever someone has a question - someone once needed to figure out how to send a package - one of the other moms has had experience with that. Whatever question you have or whatever issue you're facing, it's such a support because there is someone who understands and can figure out what to do," Kim said.
It's a great story about being a missionary mom and well worth the time to give it a read.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Elliot's July 2 email

Here is the latest email from Elliot.

Hola mi familia!

Aprendi lo que va a pasar ["I learned what will happen"] for transfers. I am going to be with two other missionaries, but Elder Orellana is leaving. In addition to training a new missionary, I am going to get Elder Fales. I don't know a whole lot about him, but I've heard good things and I'm excited. I know that this will be his third transfer, and President Taylor expects me to have him ready to be senior companion and lead the area by the time I leave. I think this should be a lot of fun. I am a little bummed to see Elder Orellana head out though. He's a great missionary.

I got the package [shirts and socks!] - thanks a ton. I am surviving the heat. This summer doesn't fully compare to last summer so far. I've been drinking a lot of water and getting in somewhere cool periodically though. The Hispanic culture is so kind and giving: every person we visit gives us a water bottle when we get there and another for the road. So I'm doing well.

I love being out here and I love this people. Serving a mission is so fun and so rewarding. I've learned so much out here, but one lesson that has been sticking out to me lately is how much God loves all of us. When I talk to someone, I try to think, "God loves this person just as much as He loves me, and He wants this person to be happy." Seeing His hand in missionary work and in the lives of others has really opened my eyes to see all that He has done for me as well. Definitely has helped me have more gratitude.

I love y'all! Gracias por todo!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter

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

Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

George Clark, WWI Comanche Code Talker

In March, we wrote a story on Elliot's blog, Comanche National Museum to honor Code Talkers, about an upcoming exhibit at the Comanche National Museum. The exhibit tells the story of members of the Comanche Nation who served in WWI and WWII. Transmitting messages in the native tongue, these Native American patriots served their country and protected their fellow soldiers by speaking in a language the Germans were never able to understand.

Today, KSWO ran a story about one of the WWI Code Talkers, George Clark. On Thursday, Mr. Clark's nephew, Albert, donated a 48-star American flag that belonged to his uncle to the museum, which prompted the news coverage. The story tells the interesting history of Mr. Clark and his role in establishing the Code Talkers:
In 1918 George was one of only 4 Comanches to use their native tongue to send messages the enemy couldn't decode, but before The Great War.
[Albert:] "There were two or three Choctaw boys who were in the same outfit, sitting and talking to each other in their native tongue. An officer came by and heard them talking. The thought came to him that these boys talking in their native tongue, the Germans wouldn't be able to understand it." 
The Germans never did figure it out. Messages were never decoded in Choctaw or later in Comanche. Even though they couldn't vote until 1924, four World War I Comanche Code Talkers served their country and saved lives, and George Clark was one of them. The Germans tried to learn the language and actually sent spies to the United States to try to break the code. 
The story of Mr. Clark, one of the earliest Code Talkers, will be a great addition to the exhibit at the museum. Unfortunately, Elliot is no longer serving in Lawton, the home of the museum, so he own't have a chance to see the exhibit. It must be fascinating.

Enjoy the video report of the KSWO story.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Elliot's June 25 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


Good news-I'm going to train again! Elder Phillips (my MTC companion who is one of the Assistants now) called me last night to tell me the news. So I'll for sure be spending the last 6 weeks of my mission here in OK City and I'll have another new missionary. No news on whether or not Elder Orellana is going to stay. It seems very possible that he and my new missionary will both be here this next transfer and that they'll stay together after I leave. Whatever happens, I'm pretty excited. A lot of missionaries never have the opportunity to train, but I'm blessed enough to train 4 new missionaries. It's so fun. I also found out that I will no longer be a District Leader, so I'll be able to just focus on my companion(s) and the area. That'll be a nice change since the last 9 transfers I've either been a DL or Zone Leader.

Oklahoma City seems a little deflated after getting knocked out quickly by the Heat. We just stopped in at Academy and everything Thunder related is half off. We went to Brick Town/downtown to see the set up for the Finals last Monday. It was pretty cool. I have it all on film so eventually I'll get that developed.

But life's good! We set a baptismal goal with the guy I told you about last week that we found. We also found a lot more new people to teach and have been having fun even though it has been getting so hot lately. I just want to finish out strong and give it all I got. The Lord has blessed me with so much more than I deserve and I want to show him my gratitude. I'm grateful for the enabling power of the Atonement to make more out of me than I could ever make out of myself, and I want to make the most out of the opportunity I have in front of me right now.

I haven't gotten the shirts yet, but the office sometimes takes a week or so to get packages through. I did get the Target gift card though and that is very much appreciated! I already put that to good use. So thanks for that! Hope you guys have a great week!


Elder Elliot

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus Declares He Is the Messiah"

 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Napa Valley Register: "Missionaries on a mission"

Last Sunday, the Napa Valley Register featured two stories about missionaries serving in California's wine country. Elders Jace Felix and Ty Mair, both from Utah, are currently stationed in Napa. The two stories, "Missionaries on a mission" and "Walking with the missionaries," describe their experiences. The latter story in particular provides an interesting and detailed look into a fairly typical weekday as the two missionaries seek to contact members of the community who may be interested in learning more about the Church.
On a recent weekday afternoon, after referring to a city map marked in numbered sections, Felix and Mair set out to go “contacting” in a quiet northeast Napa neighborhood. 
Arriving by car, the two parked on a side street, hopped out of their vehicle and strapped on two black backpacks. 
They wasted no time. Holding copies of the Book of Mormon and introducing themselves as Elder Felix and Elder Mair, the two men earnestly knocked on doors, poked their heads into open garages and generally chatted up anyone they saw. 
For the most part, Napans were welcoming to these two strangers in their midst.
The story then describes the missionaries' encounters with various people, some positive, some less so. But the story provides a very realistic look at a typical day in the life of a missionary, and probably very typical of the experience Elliot is having. Both stories are worth a read.

53 Days Left

Of the 735 total days that Elliot will be gone on his mission to Oklahoma, only 53 remain. We try not to get too excited about his return, since that will just make us crazy. And we certainly try to avoid reminding him how little time he has left, since he needs to stay focused on what he is doing and not worry about what he will do when he returns home. But we're obviously excited.

We recently received his travel itinerary from the Church. He returns August 16. For those who like to plan ahead, he is scheduled to speak about his mission experience at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 19, at the LDS chapel located at 24915 Peachland Avenue, Newhall, California (map). Everyone is welcome. His friend Carlton Reininger returns just a day earlier from his mission to Argentina and will speak at the same meeting, so it should be a great day.

Jabari Parker: Basketball Phenom, Mormon, and Future Missionary?

We've posted a couple of stories on Elliot's blog about young men who excel in sports and are then faced with the decision whether to serve a mission. Our two stories featured rugby stars Sid Going and Will Hopoate, both of whom elected to serve missions. In Elder Going's case, he returned from a mission to Canada and became one of the most celebrated stars of New Zealand's All Blacks team. Elder Hopoate is currently on his mission in Australia, so we'll have to wait to see about his professional rugby career.

A similar story is currently developing. A young man from Chicago, Jabari Parker, is being hailed as the top high school basketball player in the country and a sure thing for the NBA. He was recently featured in a lengthy cover story in Sports Illustrated, which called him "the best high school basketball player since Lebron James." But the subtitle of the story points out that "there's something more important to him than NBA stardom: his faith." Jabari is a Mormon. The Sports Illustrated story points out:
The backpack that Jabari Parker takes everywhere contains all the expected items: a pair of Nikes, socks with the NBA logo, basketball shorts, T-shirts, Icy Hot gel, a couple of rolls of athletic prewrap, and an iPod loaded with rap and R&B. But there's also a paperback copy of The Book of Mormon. Jabari belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. "Basketball is what I do," he says. "It's not who I am."
The story acknowledges the difficult decision Jabari will face at the end of his freshman year of college: enter the NBA draft, with the potential to make the astronomical salaries available to young stars, or risk that future to serve a two-year mission for the Church, where he will be unable to train seriously or play at a high level to maintain his skill level.
Eyes might be on him most of all at the end of his freshman year in college, when he has to decide whether he will declare for the NBA draft or—like thousands of other Mormon men who turn 19—embark on a two-year mission to spread the faith in the U.S. or a foreign country (page 67). In 2010 the president of the church, Thomas S. Monson, called missionary service "a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much." 
Missionaries do not return home for two years. They aren't allowed to have a job, attend college classes or pursue other personal interests. In Jabari's case, that would mean a two-year hiatus from basketball and conditioning, possibly jeopardizing a brilliant NBA career.
Whatever decision Jabari makes, what is beyond question is that he is an extraordinary young man, and not just because he's a 6'9" budding superstar. Another excerpts from the SI story:
Jabari wakes up each morning at five and says a simple prayer, thanking God for another day. By 5:30 three days a week he's off to church for Bible study. Jabari's bio on his Twitter page features a favorite maxim from his basketball idol John Wooden: You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one. "I realize why I'm in the position I'm in right now," says Jabari. "It's not because of me. It's because of God."
It's a great story of a great young man. It's nice to see such good coverage, done fairly by a member of the Church, Jeff Benedict. There is also a companion story in the same edition of Sports Illustrated, To Serve Or Not To Serve?, which discusses Jabari's decision and talks about others before him who faced the same decision. Both stories are well worth a read.

The Oklahoman included a brief summary of the story about Jabari, Faith and Hoops: Check out Sports Illustrated. And most recently Jabari was interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America. The video interview is below.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Elliot's June 18 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot. There are several new pictures after the jump.

Happy Father's Day dad! I'm glad to hear you had a good one. You deserve it.

This past week was pretty good for us. We had Temple Conference which was nice. The north half of the mission went up to Surrey Hills and got to go to the temple and have other meetings. President Southward, the OKC Temple President, and his wife also spoke to us which was way cool. We also had Stake Conference Saturday-Sunday. President and Sister Taylor spoke at that as well as President and Sister Southward. So I got to hear a ton of great talks and trainings this past week.

We had quite a few good lessons this past week. We feel like a few of the people we're teaching are really sincere and have a lot of potential. So there's a lot for us to do right now. Yesterday we also had a really cool finding miracle. Yesterday was hot and humid, not atypical for Oklahoma. We were working hard and trying to follow the Spirit but we just weren't really having much success. We were hot and pretty tired and decided to start biking over to try to visit one of our investigators a couple of miles away instead of continuing to work the street we were on. As we were going I felt like we should take a different street than usual. When we turned on the street I thought we needed to get off of our bikes and knock just a couple of doors, contrary to what we wanted to do. When we go tracting we don't knock every door on the street, unless we feel that's what we're supposed to do. We try to discern by the Spirit which houses to try. Elder Orellana felt we should go to one house. We introduced ourselves to the young man at the door who at first seemed like he's not taking this too seriously. It turned around really quickly. We introduced ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ and how we were there to pray for him and ask the Lord's blessings to be with him. He accepted the offer for us to pray with him. We asked if there was anything in particular he would like us to pray for, and in response he told us about the tough times he was going through. He got into some rough things down in Dallas when he was a bit younger but changed his life around, became a Christian, and left his street gang, and cleaned up his act. He had just barely made it to OK City and had to come because Dallas was just not a good place for him any more. We prayed very specifically for him and his family. Afterwards he had tears in his eyes and the Spirit was so strong. We testified of the power of the Atonement to change lives and cover our mistakes. He was very moved and gladly accepted to have us come back by and teach him. It was such a great experience and it shows me that God is mindful of all of us and is definitely guiding us in this work. That brings me a lot of happiness.

I have pictures to send y'all! I'll attatch them to this email. Also I have a bit of a favor to ask. If I remember correctly we had like 3-4 extra short sleeved shirts that we bought before I came out. If that's the case, do you think you might be able to send them out? That would be super nice to have now that it's so hot. Thanks!

Have fun at girl's camp mom!


Elder Elliot

Saturday, June 16, 2012 Video: "Why Mormons Send Missionaries Around the World"

I ran across this video on, on its Missionary Work page. The video depicts several missionaries from around the world as they describe their purpose and experiences in serving their missions. I enjoyed it and thought it would be a good video to share on Elliot's blog, as it gives insight into the experience is having.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Religion News Service: "For Mitt Romney and other Mormons, missions are a ‘refiner’s fire’"

I ran across an interesting story on the Religion News Service written by Daniel Burke. Despite the title of this story, it's not really about Mitt Romney (and certainly not about politics). Instead, it's an insightful piece about the experience of being a Mormon missionary.

Mr. Burke introduces his story with a brief discussion of Mitt Romney's service as a missionary, and quotes him as saying:
“On a mission, your faith in Jesus Christ either evaporates or it becomes much deeper,” Romney later said. “For me it became much deeper.”
The story notes that some 57,000 missionaries are currently serving missions throughout the world, with more than a million Mormons having served since the inception of the Church in 1830. Mr. Burke describes their shared experience:
Most Mormon missionaries endure a grueling regimen of prayer, study and proselytizing. They put careers and college on hold and move to mission fields where rejection is the norm. Some have been beaten, mocked, caught in gang crossfire, even killed. Romney himself was in a serious car accident and roughed up by a team of soused rugby players. 
And yet, many Mormons say their faith flourished during the mission, as they discovered a genuine joy in sharing the gospel and encountered one of spirituality's central paradoxes: by surrendering the self, you often find it. 
“In a lot of ways serving a mission is like going through a refiner’s fire,” said Rob Skidmore, who recalls bicycling in 100-degree heat and dodging paintballs fired from passing cars during his mission in Las Vegas from 2004-2006. “It’s an arduous process, but in the end all of the impurities have been burned out.”
The story is well-written and fair, and worth a read. You can find it here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elliot's June 11 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.

Hi familia!

That's so cool that you ran into Patrick Spiker. I got an email from him so I'm gonna get back to him after y'all. I'm definitely pumped to be living near all of them from the SCV as well as some missionaries here that are going to live in Liberty Square. That's crazy to think that he's back now. Its also crazy to think that today is my 22 month mark. Can you believe that? It goes by too fast. Everyone out here sees me as the old guy in the mission now haha.

This past week was pretty good. We're just trying to keep working hard and get things moving. Our investigator who came to church last week actually left town for the next 3 weeks, but we've been keeping in touch with him. We also have 2-3 appointments set up for every single day so we should have a good week here. I also went on exchanges with Elder Grover which was fun. He and Elder Andersen (both former companions of mine) are my ZLs and it's been cool. So it was a good week until yesterday when I came down with some kind of a 24 hour stomach virus. I pretty much just laid down all day after church and took it easy. I'm feeling a ton better today though, so no worries.

Today I think we are going to go to the science museum here in OKC which should be fun. I'll be sure to tell you about it next week!

I love y'all!

Elder Elliot

Monday, June 4, 2012

Elliot's June 4 email and pictures

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

I'm an uncle! That's so awesome. Tell Kim and Keith I say congrats! I'm so excited to meet her when I get back! [Keith (Elliot's older brother) and Kim were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Adelyn Ruth Adair, on June 1.]

This past week was extremely eventful. On Tuesday we had definitely the craziest storm out of all the ones I've been through here. We were teaching a family we found the week before and right at the end of a great lesson it started pouring. We were on our bikes about 4 or 5 miles from our apartment and they told us to hold off and see if the rain didn't die down. A few minutes later we start getting hail somewhere between the size of golf balls and tennis balls with a ton of wind. The man of the house we were teaching ran out in it to move his truck underneath a shed and in the process got hit in the hand by hail which bruised it up. They turned on the weather channel and being the only one who spoke English in the situation I translated for them. Apparently a tornado touched down west of OKC somewhere. A couple minutes later the tornado alarms went off which was tied with the tornado LTM last spring in intense-ness. About 5 or so minutes later everything calmed down and the other Elders in the branch, Charlesworth and Hernandez, came and picked us up and we went to the church. We pretty much rode out the storm there until 11 at night or so when we got a call that it was safe to return home. It was wild.

This past week was pretty awesome. We set 3 baptismal goals and had an investigator at church. He had an awesome time too. He had been visiting with the missionaries in Indiana for about 3 months but then moved to our area like 2 weeks ago. We met him like 8 days ago when we were walking down the street. He was like a block down from us on a side street and when he saw us yelled, "Hey amigos! Venganse! (Hey friends! Come over here)" He had never gone to church before in Indiana but Saturday he texted us and said he wanted to come. He had such a great time. The Spanish Branch here is awesome because like 95% of them are converts and many of them have had similar experiences. He bore his testimony in Sacrament Meeting of God's love and how important families are and how we need to love our children. Everyone was so nice and welcoming to him and he loved it. We went by later on and he was still smiling.

I'm with you guys on eating healthier and stuff. Today I bought a lot of fruit and healthy foods to eat. It's definitely easy to get out of shape out here but I've been doing better here lately. Also I've been cutting back on soda and how much I eat in general.

Anyway I love yall! I took some pictures of my district [above] and some of the damage from the storms [below].


Elder Elliot

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A great weekend of bike racing in OKC and Moore

What a fun weekend this must have been in Oklahoma City and Moore. First, the inaugural Oklahoma City ProAm Classic took place on Saturday. Some 500 cyclists raced in different categories on the streets of OKC, just north of downtown, in a criterium-style race. A total of $25,000 in prize money was available to winners, mainly in the elite events held later in the day. The Oklahoman carried a story about the event, along with some great photos (one of which is posted here).

Then, on Sunday, the city of Moore, where Elliot was assigned for several weeks, hosted a criterium known as the King of Moore. Moore Monthly provided coverage of the race, including photos and video. I can't embed the video on the blog but here's the link and one of the pictures is below.

I don't know if Elliot was aware of either of these races. Saturday's race was just outside his current assigned area, so he probably wouldn't have been able to see it in any event.

Bible Videos: "Jesus Teaches Nicodemus about Being Born Again"

 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Oklahoma 2011: Hottest. Summer. Ever.

Elliot picked a most inopportune time to go on a mission to Oklahoma. You may recall that we wrote several stories for the blog about the incredible temperatures and drought experienced last year in Oklahoma and neighboring Texas. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) And now climatologists are reporting that last summer in Oklahoma (not Texas, as previously thought) was the hottest ever recorded in the United States:
In the new tally by the National Climatic Data Center, Oklahoma's average temperature last summer was 86.9 degrees, while Texas finished with 86.7 degrees. The previous record for the hottest summer was 85.2 degrees set in 1934 — in Oklahoma. 
"I'm from Oklahoma, and when you talk about the summer of 1934, there are a lot of connotations that go with that," said Deke Arndt, chief of the NCDC's climate monitoring branch in Asheville, N.C. "That whole climate episode — the Dust Bowl — that is a point in our state's history that we still look back to as transformative." 
Yet the summer of 2011, "was warmer than all those summers that they experienced during the Dust Bowl," Arndt said.
It really was remarkable to watch the weather reports from last summer. The 46 consecutive days of 100+ degrees in Wichita Falls where Elliot was assigned is hard to imagine. And it had a huge impact on local ranchers and farmers:
For Oklahoma rancher Monte Tucker, last summer was a breaking point, and it didn't make him feel any better Friday when he learned about his state's new dubious honor. 
Last summer felt like "opening an oven after cooking bread," said Tucker, who ranches in Sweetwater, in western Oklahoma. "We basically got up right about sun-up and did all we could until 11 in the morning, and we basically shut down almost 'till dark and kind of started up again. 
"I don't want to do it again, I'll say that much," he said.
The good news for Elliot is that this summer likely will not match the temperatures of last summer, and he'll be coming home in mid-August.

Elder Britten Schenk leaves the hospital

We saw some great news last week from the family of Elder Britten Schenk. We have posted a couple of stories about Elder Schenk here on Elliot's blog (here and here). He was seriously injured back in March when he was hit by a bus while serving his mission in Brazil. His family has written about his recovery on their blog.

On May 31, the Schenks posted the news that Elder Schenk has been released from hospital and allowed to return home. What a great day that must have been! Please read the story here and check out all the fun pictures, one of which I have posted here. Congratulation to Elder Schenk and his entire family, and best wishes to him as he continues with therapy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Elliot's new apartment in Oklahoma City

In today's email, Elliot told us about his new apartment in Oklahoma City. I managed to get a screen shot from Google Maps. Looks like a nice place!

Elliot's May 29 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot, a day late due to yesterday's holiday. It sounds like he's happy in his new area, back in Oklahoma City, where he likely will stay until the end of his mission in August.


So this past week was pretty awesome, not gonna lie. I never realized how out of place I felt being in the country until I came back to the heart of Oklahoma City. And my area is all city. We live at NW 39th St and Amelia in an apartment (can't remember what they're called) and our area is about 2 miles east to west, from Meridian on the west to May on the east. Our southern border is Reno and to the north we don't really have a boundary line, but we rarely head that direction. It's a super small area relative to the others I've been in, and I'm on a bike which is sweet. And there are tons of people everywhere.

My new companion is Elder Roberto Orellana. He's originally from El Salvador, was baptized in Taylorsville, UT, but came to the mission from Dallas, TX. He's solid. He was baptized 5 years ago by Noah Hartsock, who was either a forward or a center for BYU's basketball team when I was there if I remember correctly. [Noah is from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and served his mission in Salt Lake City. His senior season on the BYU basketball team was 2011-12.] He's spent the last 4 months or so going out with the APs from Dallas and definitely came here prepared from day 1. We really wanted to jumpstart the area so we just got to work. We had a ton of miracles and ended up with 16 new investigators, many of whom seem solid. So we're excited for the area and I'm super glad to be back in a Spanish Branch.

Well I'm sitting here watching my time on the computer wind down. I love you all and glad to know everything's going well. I'm excited to be an uncle soon!

Les amo!

Elder Elliot

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bible Videos: "Mary, the Mother of Jesus"

  26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

Recent Temple News

We've posted many stories on Elliot's blog about temples, including, most recently. the open house at the new Kansas City Temple. In the past couple of weeks there have been several stories on the Church website about the development of new temples, so I thought it would be fun to compile those stories here. Click on the links to the titles of each story to read more, and enjoy the photos and videos embedded below.

On Sunday, May 6, President Thomas S. Monson dedicated the Kansas City Temple. He said this “stately and magnificent temple in the lovely part of the country, really the heartland of America, ... will shine as a beacon of righteousness to all who will follow its light — the light of the gospel, the light of the Savior.”

The Kansas City Missouri Temple is the Church's 137th temple worldwide, 67th in the United States and second in Missouri. The temple will serve some 45,000 Latter-day Saints in 126 congregations throughout Kansas, Missouri and small portions of Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Video: Kansas City Missouri Temple Dedication

Video: Kansas City Missouri Temple Cultural Celebration

The Church broke ground for the new temple in Provo on May 12. The temple will be built on the site of the Provo Tabernacle, which burned in December 2010. The building was originally constructed from 1883 to 1898 at a cost of $100,000 and was a historic treasure for the Church. It was also a community gathering place for meetings and cultural events. One such popular event was Handel's Messiah sung each year at Christmastime in the tabernacle.

President Jeffrey R. Holland spoke at the groundbreaking:
What an absolute stunning site! It is a picture-perfect day in Utah County. The temple site is filled with faithful people making history. . . . You can tell people Elder Holland was downright giddy today about the temple groundbreaking.

The Church recently released renderings for two new temples first announced at the October 2010 General Conference. The proposed plans call for the Hartford Connecticut Temple to be built at 1024 Farmington Avenue in Farmington, Connecticut (map). The Indianapolis Indiana Temple site (in the city of Carmel on the southwest corner of the intersection of W116th and Spring Mill Road (map)) was announced in January 2011. Renderings of both temples are below.

Hartford Connecticut Temple

Indianapolis Indiana Temple

The new temple in Manaus Brazil opened to the public on May 18 for an open house, following a media tour on May 16. It will remain open to the public until June 2. The temple will be formally dedicated on June 10 in three sessions. The dedicatory sessions will be broadcast to congregations of the Church within the temple district.In conjunction with the dedication of the temple, there will also be a cultural celebration featuring music and dance on June 9.

The Star Valley Wyoming temple, first announced at the October 2011 General Conference, will be constructed east of U.S. Highway 89 on the Haderlie Farm property south of Afton, Wyoming. It is the first temple in Wyoming and will serve members living in the western part of the state, who now travel approximately 1.5 hours to Idaho Falls and Rexburg, Idaho, for temple services.

“We truly believe this new temple will be a great asset not only to members of the Church but also to the people of the surrounding community, who will benefit from the peace and beauty a temple brings,” said Jerry Hansen, local spokesman for the Church. “Temples are where members participate in the highest sacraments of our faith — where we make and renew promises to God and to our families.”

Once construction of the new temple begins, it is expected to take approximately two years to complete.

What do Mormons believe? Are they Christian? How do they worship? Those are a sampling of questions answered by a new exhibit in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (Mormons) visitors’ center in Washington, D.C. The visitors’ center, which draws thousands of people each year, is adjacent to the Washington D.C. Temple.

“If people are going to ask questions, we need to do everything we can to give them the answers,” said Elder Don Olsen, visitors’ center director. “The Church has many resources to provide people with answers to their questions. We have a beautiful exhibit space and decided we should use it to help in that effort.”

The exhibit, entitled “We Follow Jesus Christ,” will be on display at the visitors’ center through the end of August. It provides answers to 24 questions about the Church that seem to have captured most people’s interest.