Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A new picture of Elliot

President and Sister Taylor posted a bunch of new pictures on their blog, mostly of new missionaries arriving in Oklahoma and others traveling home. They also posted a couple of pictures of zone meetings, including this one of Elliot from a January 4 meeting.

January 4, 2012- Zone Leader Council
Elders Hansen, Phillips, Olsen, Ali'ifua, Atkinson, Cook, President Taylor, 
Duke, Nordstrom, Kimber, Adair, Karl and Frampton

Monday, January 30, 2012

Recent pictures of Carlton Reininger in Argentina

It has been a while since we shared pictures of Carlton Reininger here on Elliot's blog. Carlton and Elliot spent several years together in the Newhall First Ward and at Hart High, received their mission calls on the same day, and were in the Missionary Training Center at the same time. Carlton is currently serving in Lujan, a southern suburb of Mendoza, Argentina, in the shadow of the Andes. Mendoza is over 600 miles due west of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is much closer to Santiago, Chile, than to Buenos Aires. And it's the middle of summer in South America, so there was no white Christmas for Carlton.

Here are three recent pictures of Carlton. He looks like he's having a great experience.

Elliot's January 30 email and pictures

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


Tell Alyssa happy belated birthday from me! I can't believe she's 19 and I can't believe I'll be 21 on Sunday. That's poquito loco. I'm excited for my b-day. My birthday is Sunday and Elder Karl's is next Monday so we're pretty much gonna have a 2-day celebracion. Sister Brown, our Relief Society President, is gonna have us over on Sunday and President and Sister Taylor are having us Monday. It'll be mega sweet. And I got the presents thank you very much! I like the sweater and tie! I wore them yesterday to church.

[Family stuff redacted.]

This past week was crazy. We spent a pretty good amount of time on Tuesday preparing for all of the trainings we gave during the Leadership Training Meeting Wednesday and Thursday. The meetings were very excellent. While there we broke off into zones and we had a super powerful zone mtg. We talked about the happiest experiences of the mission and what led up to them. In all of the experiences, faith, diligence, and obedience on the missionaries' part were central to the spiritual experiences the missionaries had. It was a booster shot of faith for me for sure.

[More stuff redacted, sorry!]

We should have a pretty good week coming up. We have Zone Leader Council on Wednesday which is always a good meeting. Our investigator, Tanner, is going to get Sundays off from now on so I'm excited for him as well. We have a lot of other people and families we're starting to work with so hopefully more things get rolling.

I love y'all! Have a fantastic week!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mormon Times: "The Unique Temple Square Mission"

Mormon missionaries serve in missions located all across the United States and around the world. As of May 2011, there were 52,483 missionaries serving in 340 missions, with another 8,583 service and humanitarian aid missionaries serving in various locations. But there is one mission that, despite its less-than-exotic locale, is unique among them all. That is the Temple Square mission in the heart of Salt Lake City, where sister missionaries welcome visitors from around the world in their native languages. And there are no young men missionaries serving on Temple Square, only sister missionaries.

Mormon Times recently produced a segment that focused on the experience of sister missionaries serving in the Temple Square mission. I can't embed the video here on the blog, but here is a link. You can watch the entire Mormon Times episode, or just the segment on the sister missionaries by clicking on "The Unique Temple Square Mission" link to the right of the main video. It's an interesting perspective the experience of these wonderful sister missionaries. Enjoy the video.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bald Eagle Nest Cameras from Oklahoma

Courtesy of the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville come some fascinating bald eagle nest cameras in Oklahoma. I can't embed the videos directly here in Elliot's blog, but here is the link. There are a total of four cameras, with two cameras focused on a nest at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge near Vian, Oklahoma, and two looking at a nest from Sooner Lake north of Stillwater, Oklahoma. The nest at the Sequoyah NWR includes two recently-hatched baby eagles, and you can frequently see them being fed by their parents. One of the cameras provides spectacular close-up shots of the nest and the babies, at least when they're not covered by mom. Or is that dad? Who can tell?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mormon Messages: "He Lives: Testimonies of Jesus Christ"

This short Mormon Messages video features Thomas S. MonsonHenry B. EyringDieter F. Uchtdorf, and Boyd K. Packer as they bear powerful testimony of Jesus Christ. President Monson declares:
He is our Savior. He is the Son of God. He is the Author of our Salvation. He beckons, “Follow me.” He instructs, “Go, and do thou likewise.” He pleads, “Keep my commandments.”
Enjoy the video.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Elliot goes mountain biking!

In today's email, Elliot described his mountain biking trip to Lake Stanley Draper. Knowing how much he loves biking, he must have really enjoyed that little adventure. Here's a couple of pictures of Elliot and Elder Karl and their bikes, followed by some information about where I believe they rode. Finally I found several videos on YouTube (courtesy of maxboost83) of the trails where they rode.

Here's a link to the Lake Stanley Draper, which is located on the southeast side of Oklahoma City. This map shows the various trails at the Lake Stanley Draper Mountain Bike Park, which is maintained by the Oklahoma Earthbike Foundation. Oklahoma City's website has additional information about the trails.

Here are the videos.

Red Trail

Orange Trail

Yellow Trail (Part 1)

Yellow Trail (Part 2)

Log Bridge

Elliot's January 23 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.

Hola amada familia mia!

This past week was pretty awesome. Shaun, who was baptized here a little while back, got the priesthood a week ago and passed the Sacrament for the first time this past Sunday. It was so cool. He also said the opening prayer to Sacrament Mtg. We went over last night to visit him with our Elders Quorum President and it's incredible to see his faith strengthen and testimony grow. We taught him about the priesthood and what the blessings and responsibilities that come with it are. [See the video below.] He seems really excited to be able to serve others with this authority he now has. He's great. Seeing how strong he's becoming so quickly in the church is for sure a testimony strengthener for me.

This morning we went mountain biking with Bro. Elliott out by Lake Stanley Draper, east of our area. It was a lot of fun and I only crashed once. We went about 11 or so miles with jumps and tight corners and trees and stuff. It was great. I love getting chances to be outdoors having fun on p-days. It takes the monotony out of playing basketball, but I love basketball.

I'm not too sure what I want for my birthday! But if you send a package out, do you think you could send me out my hard drive? I want to be able to put my pictures somewhere so I don't have to worry about space or anything. I'd very much appreciate it!

I have to get running here pretty quick, but I love you! Thanks for all you do. I hope everything's going well and that you enjoy your new calling dad!

Con amor,


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mormon Times: "Sacrifice and Mission Service"

A couple of months ago, we posted a story about Will Hopoate, an Australian rugby star who interrupted a promising - and lucrative - rugby career to serve a mission. Elder Hopoate is now serving a full-time mission in Australia and hopes to resume playing rugby when he completes his service in a couple of years.

Tonight, I found a video on Mormon Times, a feature of KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, that features Elder Hopoate. Much of it will be familiar from his "I'm a Mormon" video that we posted before. But there's also an interesting discussion with a former mission president who explains the mission experience and the transformative effect it has on the young men and women who choose to serve. Unfortunately, Mormon Times doesn't make it easy to embed its videos here on the blog, but here's a link to the December 4 episode. You can watch the whole episode, or skip straight to the six-minute segment on Elder Hopoate by clicking on "Sacrifice and Mission Service" immediately to the right of the video. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Elliot's January 17 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot, a day later than usual because of yesterday's holiday.


I saw you said you haven't been getting my emails. I forwarded the last few to you so hopefully you get those. Let me know if you don't. I'm not sure why they're not going through.

I'm doing good here in Moore. Our whole zone had a great week. I don't know how, but our mission has had goal setting and planning backwards up until just recently. We would historically make plans for a given day and fill in number goals for things like lessons, new investigators, etc. based on those plans. That's the way everyone was trained and that's the way I trained too. So we had a Specialized Training Meeting this past week and we taught everyone to set goals and then make plans. That just makes sense right? You don't just go to school and take random classes and hope to make a career out of it. You begin with the end in mind. We saw such a dramatic improvement in all areas with just that simple, common sense change. So we're excited for the rise that'll happen here.

This week was definitely a good week. Elder Karl and I have had a goal to hand out a Book of Mormon before lunch which is usually a more slow time of the day. It's been pretty cool because we got 2 new investigators from it last week. We've been having quite a few members come out with us too which is awesome. One of our investigators, Tanner, is doing really well. His grandma is a member in our Moore 2nd ward and he moved into town recently looking for work. He has some history with the church with a lot of his family being members and really wants to know if what they believe is true. He's been coming to church the past month and a half and has told us that he's feeling really good about what he's been reading and learning. One chapter that meant a lot to him was Alma 40, which talks about the resurrection and the next life. On Sunday we taught him at his grandma's house and he smashed all of his cigarettes which was way cool. It was a big moment for him. He knew he didn't want smoking in his life and felt that if he quit he would get closer to God. It was a way awesome lesson. He's great.

I'm doing well out here! Say hi to everyone for me if you go up to K&K's baby shower. [Redacted stuff.]

Les quiero!


Elliot's January 9 email

Here's Elliot's January 9 email. Somehow we did not receive it last week so he re-sent it today.


What do I want for my B-day [February 5]? Oh man I'd have to think about it. I'll try to come up with something.

This past week was pretty good. We had our Zone Leader Council on Wednesday which was great. We learned a lot about accountability and goal setting. We got some great ideas that I think will help us to rise and see the vision of what can happen here. We're doing a Zone Meeting tonight after P-day applying much of what we learned so hopefully that goes well.

Things in our area are going pretty well. We had quite a few appointments fall through which isn't too abnormal but it was a bit tough. But we got 6 new investigators, one of which had gone to mormon.org and asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon. He and his family are studying different religions right now and looking for one that fits them. We're going back to teach them this week so that should be good! One of our investigators we've been working with for a while is heading back to Ecuador tomorrow which is sad but she promised to go to the church that's 2 blocks away from her home there. She'll be coming back to OK City later on in the year to visit the Lusks.

Things are going well. We're enjoying a lot of help and direction from both Bishop Peterson and President Bellows. They pointed us to a few families and people to visit so things should really pick up even more here soon. And that's what's up. We've also been meeting with a few of the auxiliary leaders who are very much helping us out as well.

This past week I ate so much spicy food. It was awesome. The Churchs on Monday fed us tacos and Bro. Church had some hot sauce made out of Ghost Peppers. It tasted really good but it was so stinkin' spicy. I think I drank like 2-3 glasses of milk afterwards. [Check out the video below.] I also went to a restaurant with the EQP [Elders Quorum President] of the Single's Branch, Jordan, and got some "Inferno" Chicken Strips. Again, very good tasting, but very spicy. Good times.

Well I hope everyone's happy and doing well in MI and CA! Tell everyone I say hi.

I love y'all!

Elder Elliot

Here's a video from one of Elliot's dad's favorite shows, Man v. Food, featuring Adam Richman as he fails miserably in a challenge to eat ten ghost pepper-seasoned hot wings in 20 minutes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Prophets of the Restoration"

The Church website includes a video with the testimonies of each of the modern-day prophets, from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, most in their own voice. From the website:
Since Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ ushered in the Restoration of the gospel and re-established the Church, the voice of the President of the Church has been a witness of divine, eternal truth. Although the means by which the prophet’s voice is heard has changed through the years, that voice has always been a clarion call to come unto Christ. A video and an article now provide an opportunity to receive the words of every President from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson.
It's good to hear the voices of the prophets, as far back as Wilford Woodruff in 1897, as he shared his testimony "into a talking machine." Enjoy the video.

Grey Snow Eagle House in Perkins, Oklahoma

Today's Oklahoman features a great story and video (below) about the Grey Snow Eagle House in Perkins, Oklahoma. This eagle rehabilitation facility was created and is run by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, with funds from the Tribe and from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the Tribe's website,
The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma developed an eagle rehabilitation program to protect injured eagles and increase community awareness of wildlife and Native American culture. The Bah Kho-je Xla Chi (Grey Snow Eagle House) was completed in January 2006 through funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) and the Iowa Tribe. . . . 
As of November 2011, the Grey Snow Eagle House houses 35 non-releasable eagles (7 Golden Eagles and 28 Bald Eagles) which are cared for by an Aviary Manager, 6 staff members and volunteers.  The aviary manager is a USFWS certified eagle rehabilitator and an Iowa Tribal Elder. The Tribe has successfully rehabilitated eight Bald Eagles and released them back into the wild.  To date, the Iowa Tribe has received +6700 visitors from around the world.
The website is terrific. It includes bios of all the eagles currently at the facility, including EetodoLuckyHin TugaPete, and Woody. They have also compiled several videos showing eagles as they are released from rehabilitation. And there are a bunch of pictureseagle facts, and other links about eagles and the rehabilitation facility. Information about visiting the Eagle House can be found here.

The story in the Oklahoman features Victor Roubidoux, wildlife manager for the Eagle House. I love his description of the eagles:
“All day long, they'll just sit because we're here and they know when we leave at 10 after 5,” Roubidoux said, adding that there are cameras in each of the various flight cages and mews. “When we leave, they'll get down and they'll be crunching the green two-liter bottles. We have tennis balls in there, they'll be playing with those. Some put one under each talon and walk on them.  
“They'll do all that when they know we're not here. Just like a bunch of kids, when the parents are gone, they're out playing.”
Mr. Roubidoux adds:
“They have their own personalities,” he said. “They'll have their off days. They get up on the wrong side of the perch, I guess, just like we get up on the wrong side of the bed. They'll be grouchy and gripey and then the next day, everything is OK, they're sitting by each other being real social.” 
You can follow the Grey Snow Eagle House on its Facebook page. I'm adding this to my list of amazing places to visit when I go to Oklahoma.

Enjoy the video.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fire at the Los Angeles Temple

Early Tuesday morning, fire destroyed a house under construction on the grounds of the Los Angeles Temple. The 4,000 square foot structure was to be the home of the mission president. According to a story in the Westwood-Century City Patch, the fire broke out at about 1:00 a.m. and was extinguished in about 30 minutes.
No one was injured in the fire and no other buildings were reportedly damaged. The affected building, a residence for the mission president, is about 4000 square feet, located behind the temple and the visitors' center. Some of the residence's frame still stands, blackened by the flames. An adjacent building, a residence planned for the temple's president also under construction, was not damaged as much. Most of it still stands.
A Los Angeles Fire Department House of Worship Task Force, part of the department's counter-terrorism unit, was dispatched to the scene for an arson investigation, but that is the standard response for any fire at a religious site, said Matt Spence of LAFD. It is not known whether electric equipment was at the construction site at the time, and an estimate of the cost of the damage is also not available.
There are many news reports of the fire (Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, LA WeeklyDeseret News, CBS LA89.3 KPCC, KSLBYU Universe), all with virtually the same information. We're glad the damage was mostly limited to the single structure and that no one was hurt.

Here are three videos of the fire available on YouTube.

News & Star: "Mormon Missionaries Aiming to Save Souls in Carlisle"

Courtesy of the News & Star comes a news report about a pair of Mormon missionaries serving in the United Kingdom, about 300 miles north of London. Elder Nathan Jensen of Utah and Elder Benjamin Harris of Idaho, pictured at right, are featured in this brief article from the city of Carlisle, home to about 100,000 residents in the northern part of Cumbria. It's great to see the missionaries featured in the media, near and far.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Claremore, Oklahoma: Home of Will Rogers and other fun stuff

A recent NewsOK story highlights the town of Claremore, Oklahoma. About 150 miles from where Elliot is currently assigned in Moore, and about 25 miles from Adair, Oklahoma, Claremore is the home of Will Rogers, Patti Page, and Lynn Riggs. Let's see what makes Claremore stand out among Oklahoma towns.

Will Rogers Memorial Museum

Claremore's main claim to fame is as the birthplace of Will Rogers. According to his website, Will was born in 1879 on the Dog Iron Ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what later would become Oologah, Oklahoma, just a few miles from Claremore. Today, you can visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, where you can watch movies, shop in the museum store, see a collection of western art featuring Will, and check out a series of movie posters. And if you can't get to Claremore, you can always take a virtual tour of the museum, which is really well done and allows you to see virtually all of the museum and its grounds. And here are a few memorable Will Rogers quotes:
  • Remember, write to your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write to him.
  • Democrats take the whole thing as a joke. Republicans take it serious but run it like a joke.
  • You could keep politics clean if you could figure out some way so your government never hired anyone.
  • What this country needs is more working men and fewer politicians.
  • I don't tell jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
  • I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat.
Finally, enjoy this video tour of the museum.

J.M. Davis & Arms Historical Museum

Another great place to visit while in Claremore is the J.M. Davis & Arms Historical Museum, the self-described largest private gun collection in the world. Named for a gun collector who settled in Claremore in 1917, the museum houses a truly amazing collection of firearms, artifacts, steins and statuaries, and outlaws. Here is a video tour of the museum:

A few other Claremore highlights

Don't miss the Route 66 Nut House while you're in Claremore. No, it's not the state mental institution. It's a great place on old Route 66 to buy all kinds of goodies, including nuts, candy, fudge, salsas, and other tasty treats.

Then there's the Shepherd's Cross working farm and Christian mission in Claremore. As the following video shows, the purpose of the farm and mission is to teach about agriculture and how it relates to the Bible.

Something I'd love to see in Claremore is the Belvidere Mansion, a three-story mansion built by John Bayless starting in 1902 and completed by his family six months after his death in 1907. According to one source, the mansion is noteworthy not merely for its historic significance and famous tea room, but also because it's supposed to be haunted:
Over the years, numerous people have reported that John Bayless and other members of his family, however, still continue to "reside” in the beautiful old home. These allegations tell of unexplained noises, actual sightings of hazy figures, toilets that flush by themselves, hot and cold spots, and feelings of being touched by someone when no one is there. On several occasions paranormal groups have investigated the old mansion, seeming to find the most paranormal activity on the second floor. There, psychics have "seen” children playing, as well as "meeting” a distressed John Bayless, and a distraught young woman who  allegedly committed suicide when she lived in the building as a tenant in the 1940’s.
The Lynn Riggs Memorial in the old library building honors the great Claremore playwright who in 1931 penned "Green Grow the Lilacs," a play about settlers in Oklahoma's Indian Territory just outside Claremore. You may think you've never heard of it, but it was the play on which Richard Rodgers and Aaron Hammerstein based their 1943 huge musical Broadway success, "Oklahoma!" And here's the well-beloved title song from the 1955 film adaptation:

All in all, there's a lot of great reasons to visit Claremore!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Elliot's January 3 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


Happy New Year! For New Year's Eve I went to bed at like 9:45. We had a normal proselyting day until 5 when we were told to be back at our apartments. So played some games in our apartment until we decided to go to bed early (its not too often you get to do that on the mission). We meant to get up at 11:58 to celebrate the new year for a few minutes but I think we all slept through the alarm. Oh well. And then we had church for 6 hours on New Year's Day after which we had dinner with the Lusks which was fun. We were told not to go door-to-door or just drop in on people that day but we had some appointments set up that went well.

The work is going well here. We have quite a bit of new investigators that we're working with, a few of whom came to church this past week. It'll be nice to have a full week to be working again for sure. So often I'm out of my own area working with other missionaries in their area. But that comes with the zone leader assignment and I'm okay with that. This past week I was able to go to my greenie area and meet up with one of the families that I had been teaching while I was there. The missionaries are gonna start working with them again.

I have a ton of pictures that I'm sending with this email. [We only got one!] Included are playing Santa's helpers to all of the missionaries in our zone, going to the temple with the Komers, making Christmas breakfast with Elder Karl, driving around with the Woods looking at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve and Jan's Baptism. Hope you enjoy them!

The Church is true!

Love ya,

Elder Elliot