Monday, February 27, 2012

Elliot's February 27 email and pictures

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


This week I am heading out of Moore and going to Lawton. I will still be a zone leader and my new companion will be Elder Grover. This is going to be a pretty exciting change I think. They are splitting up the mission zones from 5 to 8 zones meaning we have less stress as zls in worrying about 10-14 missionaries instead of 22-28. The Lawton Zone is pretty cool. It covers my old area in Wichita Falls and their massive district to the south, Altus to the west and Lawton on kind of the east boundary. I'm really excited to be able to head back to WF on exchanges and stuff. It should be fun to be in the country again, I always hear good things about Lawton.

There's not a whole lot of news from this past week. Because I was able to find out about transfers in the meeting on Thursday I was able to say bye to everyone here in Moore on Sunday for the most part. I'm definitely gonna miss this area. There are some great families here. It was very good to me for sure. We found 11 new investigators this past week so I hope everything keeps going smoothly for missionary work here.

We went biking at Stanley Draper again this morning! When I get back I'm gonna have to go mountain bike riding with ya dad. Its a lot of fun, especially the jumps. But nothing too crazy.

I have muchas fotos esta semana! I hope you enjoy them. I have yet to get my roll from the bombing memorial developed, but when I do I'll send those out.

I love y'all!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, February 26, 2012

South Coast Today: "Serving as Mormon missionaries is humbling experience"

I ran across a recent article from the South Coast Today, a Massachusetts newspaper. It's a great discussion with four young missionaries serving in the area: Elder William Otavio DaCosta of Sao Paulo, Brazil; Elder David Souza of St. Louis, Missouri.; Elder Andrew Larsen of Preston, Idaho; and Elder Joshua Thorn of Park City, Utah (pictured, left to right). The experiences they describe are very typical, with lots of challenges and lots of rewards. Thanks to South Coast Today religion editor Linda Andrade Rodrigues for presenting a fair and interesting look at the lives of these young men.

You can read the article here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Elliot's February 21 email

Here's the latest news from Elliot.


That's good to hear Brian is on a mission! [Brian Molina is a former member of Newhall First Ward whose parents recently moved back into the ward. Brian is serving a mission in Australia.] It's been way long since I'd ever seen him but that's definitely good news.

And that's a very busy Sunday mom! 9 hours is a lot. I know for me Sundays used to be the most relaxing day of the week but out here it's the craziest day. We just go non-stop it seems. But that's good as a missionary.

This week was pretty good. We have 2 investigators that are progressing pretty well right now. Their names are "Joe" and "Jane". Joe is dating a girl out in Choctaw and has been going to church for the last 2 months or so. He had a very spiritual experience with Moroni's promise (Moroni 10:3-5) at church and really knows this is what God wants for him in his life. We have him scheduled to be baptized the 24th of this coming month so that's good news. We also have a baptismal date with Jane, his cousin. She's started reading and is enjoying it so far. Other than them we've been running into a few brick walls lately. One of our investigators moved out to Newcastle and another to the north side of the City, and it seems like the rest of everyone has been sick lately. But things are still going well!

Yesterday we went to the National Bombing Memorial in downtown OKC with the Lusk family. [Check out this prior blog story for more information about the memorial.] It was so nice of them to take us. It was a very powerful experience to say the least. So many people were affected by the bombing here in '95. It's really a terrifying thing. The memorial is very beautiful though, and a great tribute to all who were lost. I took a ton of pictures, but all on my Canon AE-1, so I need to get the film developed and I'll send them next week so y'all can check them out.

I'm not sure what to do about apartments and classes and everything! I think I'm going to talk to President Taylor and see if he can help me know what to do to make the mission to school exchange smooth. I'll let you know. We have a meeting on Thursday where we'll find out what's happening at transfers, so I'll talk to him.

I love y'all! Have a great week

Con amor,

Elder Elliot

Also, here's the OKC Redhawks Stadium in Bricktown with the Spanish District at the bottom of the photo.

"It's All About Birds" Visits Moore

We recently did a story on the blog about the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Center, founded in 1983, is
a leader in avian research and conservation and has conducted intensive, conservation-oriented, ecological field research on declining grassland birds, developed and applied techniques for the reintroduction and monitoring of Southern Bald Eagles, managed the successful captive breeding of endangered species and performed bird surveys across the world. In addition, the Sutton Center boasts several educational outreach programs that reach tens of thousands of students and adults each year.
It's been fascinating to watch the Center's bald eagle nest cameras and to stay current on the various birds being cared by the Center via its Facebook page. The Center performs a tremendous service for our feathered friends.

Today I discovered that staff from the Center recently visited Moore Central Junior High (Elliot is currently working in Moore) to present an educational program for students, "It's All About Birds." The event was covered in separate stories in The Oklahoman and the Moore American. From the Oklahoman:
Sutton Avian Center lead trainer Ryan VanZant showed off a bald eagle, a road runner, an owl and a hawk, among others. The show is about fun and learning. The fun included a gray parrot that expressed his dislike for the University of Texas, and a hawk that flew narrowly over the heads of students.
And then there was the crow who snatched a dollar bill from the upheld hand of a student in the crowd. I'm sure he was glad to get it back!

It sounds like a really fun event for all the students. Check out the news video below to see some of the action.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bible Videos: "Parable of the Good Samaritan"

The Church has released another in its series of Bible videos. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37, tells the story of a man on the road to Jericho who is beaten and robbed by thieves, and then cared for by a merciful Samaritan man. The full scriptural account can be read below, after the jump.

President Thomas S. Monson, in his address, Your Jericho Road, reminds us that "there are hearts to gladden, there are deeds to be done — even precious souls to save. The sick, the weary, the hungry, the cold, the injured, the lonely, the aged, the wanderer, all cry out for our help." He continues:
Each of us, in the journey through mortality, will travel his own Jericho Road. What will be your experience? What will be mine? Will I fail to notice him who has fallen among thieves and requires my help? Will you? Will I be one who sees the injured and hears his plea, yet crosses to the other side? Will you? Or will I be one who sees, who hears, who pauses, and who helps? Will you? 
Jesus provided our watchword: “Go, and do thou likewise.” When we obey that declaration, there opens to our view a vista of joy seldom equaled and never surpassed. 
Now the Jericho Road may not be clearly marked. Neither may the injured cry out, that we may hear. But when we walk in the steps of that good Samaritan, we walk the pathway that leads to perfection.
Enjoy the video.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mormon Messages: "Your Day for a Mission"

One of my favorite stories on Elliot's blog tells of the experience of Sid Going, the promising young Australian rugby star who chose to serve a two-year mission for the Church just as his rugby career was poised to take off. You can read Elder Going's story here.

The Church recently produced a Mormon Messages video of Elder Going's story. It's a great video, again based on the account of his life as told by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the April 2011 General Conference.

Enjoy the video.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Elliot's February 13 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


It snowed last night! So we woke up and had a snow ball fight of course. [Check out the video below of the best snowball fight ever.] Its really not a whole lot of snow, and I bet it'll be melted away by tomorrow, but still fun. Today we plan on just doing shopping and play some soccer & basketball at the church. Nothing too exciting but we're not supposed to be going too far today due to, not terrible, but not ideal road situations.

This week was cold but good. Definitely was bundled up all week but we still had pretty good success. One cool experience was on Tuesday. We went to an appointment with a new investigator but didn't catch them around. So we had some time and decided to start walking around the apartment complex and see if there were any doors we should knock. So we start walking around looking for the right doors to knock. We kept on seeing this woman around and we felt like we needed to talk to her, but we were always either talking to someone or too far away. So we kept on going until we decided to switch where we were at in the complex. The first door we knocked we found her and her husband! He let us in right away and talked to him. He's from Honduras and she's from Mexico. He had been baptized in Belize but hasn't really been to church in over a decade and she's not a member. So we are now teaching them and are gonna do Family Home Evening and dinner with them and their kids this Friday. Pretty exciting! And I get to use espanol.

This coming week we have zone conferences, and ours is on Wednesday. It should be a really good meeting. Elder Karl and I are doing a training on goal setting and accountability. I hope it goes well! Our zone has been doing really well lately after training on setting goals then making plans a month ago so hopefully this will bring that training full circle.

So everything's going good here. I don't know if I told you, I think I forgot, but a few weeks ago I got my left knee checked out by a doctor. It had been giving me pain for a while. She said that it was damaged cartilage under the knee that has been catching with my knee cap wrong. She gave me a brace to wear when playing basketball and stuff and said that sometime down the road I would want to get a minor orthoscopic(?) surgery to cut away at the cartilage. It doesn't hurt so bad that I would want to do that now on the mission and be down for some days. Not really a big deal. I'm trying to get back into better shape now to take some pressure off of my knee now.

I'm glad to hear everything's good and normal back home! I love ya!



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Six months to go!

On August 11, 2010, Elliot (pictured with Elder Soto) reported to the Missionary Training Center in Provo. He has now been out exactly eighteen months. Since arriving in Oklahoma in October 2010, Elliot has served in Oklahoma CityClintonNoble-Purcell, Wichita Falls (Texas), and Moore with Elders Phillips, Ortiz, Whipple, Gonzalez, Kimber, Endicott, Nield, Andersen, Jacobson, Lang, Soto, and Karl. It's been great to keep up with him through his emails and the blog and we're looking forward to six more months.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy birthday, Josephine Myers-Wapp

Josephine Myers-Wapp was born 100 years ago today, February 10, 1912, in Apache, Oklahoma. A resident of Lawton, Oklahoma, she is the oldest living member of the Comanche Nation. Her birthday was celebrated today at the Comanche Nation Elder Center in Lawton.

But Ms. Myers-Wapp is famous for much more than merely living a full century, in itself no small feat. From her biography on the Oklahoma Arts Council, we learn that she is an artist, a teacher, and an expert in Native American traditional art. Another source briefly recounts her life experience:
The turning point in her life came when the Bureau of Indian Affairs established an art education program at the Santa Fe Indian School, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, a curriculum was designed to educate American Indians as art teachers and place them in American Indian boarding schools. Mrs. Wapp entered the program, choosing fiber and traditional arts as her major areas of study.  After completing her education, she taught arts and crafts at Chilocco (Oklahoma) Indian School. In 1963, she joined the faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, where she taught American Indian traditional arts and culture. Mrs. Wapp was involved in all aspects of arts including native dance. She helped coordinate a dance exhibition at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City featuring IAIA students. She retired from teaching in 1973 to focus on creating traditional and contemporary Finger Weaving. Her creative work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and the Middle East. She has received many awards for her artwork and teaching and has influenced thousands of people with her extraordinary talent.
In an interview conducted by a local news channel just before her birthday, Ms. Myers-Wapp said: "Art, we really can't live without art. I think art is into everything. What we wear, what we do. Everyday, it's almost in everyday life." The video of her interview is below, along with a couple of examples of her weaving. She is a true Oklahoma treasure.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Missionary Training Center turns 50

The Missionary Training Center recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in a devotional held on February 2. Speakers at the devotional included Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. From a story in the Deseret News, Elder Nelson shared a little bit of the history of the MTC:
"For many years in the 20th century," Elder Nelson recounted, "newly called missionaries had received some preparatory instruction at the Missionary Home in Salt Lake City. On Dec. 14, 1961, 14 elders assigned to Argentina and 15 elders assigned to Mexico moved from the Missionary Home to the newly created Missionary Language Institute on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo."  
Those missionaries walked the four-mile distance from the Hotel Roberts to the BYU Alumni House for instruction, Elder Nelson related. "With very little fanfare, formal language training for missionaries was thus begun in this dispensation."
More of Elder Nelson's remarks can be found here.

The Deseret News article included some great pictures, which can be seen here. Here are three that brought back a lot of memories from my two months in the MTC way back in March and April 1983. Those classrooms look exactly the same!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Elliot's February 6 email and pictures

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

It's been a sweet week. Everything just seems to be falling into place. We had 9 new investigators and set baptismal dates with 3 of them. Members have been introducing us to their friends, people are coming to church, and everything's just going really smooth.

My birthday was super fun! I woke up to all of my roommates singing happy birthday, didn't eat because it was fast Sunday, went to church, went to a baptismal service for a couple of guys that are in the Spanish Branch, visited with Jan and the Holdaways, ate dinner at Sister Brown's house (breakfast for dinner, aw yeah) and then taught Angel, one of our investigators who has a baptismal date, which was sweet. At night I celebrated with the roommates by eating brownies that Sarah sent me [Sarah Kron, one of our favorite blog followers!]. It was a very cool birthday. Today's Elder Karl's b-day and we kicked it off by going mtb riding at Stanley Draper again [a repeat of last week's p-day activity]. There were some sweet jumps and stuff. We got some good videos. I'm pretty sure just about everyone who went crashed at one point or another, but everyone's good. Elder Karl taco-ed his front wheel pretty good though. Next we're off to Bricktown to see the sights and stuff. It should be sweet!

Love ya!


A new picture and video of Elliot!

Elliot and Elder Karl paid another visit to the Randy Lusk family in Moore. Brother Lusk previously sent us a couple of videos of Elliot and Elder Soto at Thanksgiving. He wrote to us again today and sent a picture of Elliot and Elder Karl celebrating their birthdays, as well as a short video of Elliot showing off his musical talents! Enjoy.

Sunday, February 5, 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, Javan Hatch, Kyle Hill, CJ Norris, and Carlton Reininger.  We really appreciate Sister Hollingworth putting this together every month!

Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.

Mormon Messages: "Jesus Teaches a Samaritan Woman"

Here is another of the Bible videos produced by the Church. This video tells the story of the woman of Samaria who encounters Christ at Jacob's well. The great promise made by the Savior to the Samaritan woman is found in John 4:13-14:
  13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
  14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Speaking of this promise, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said:
As at Jacob’s well, so today the Lord Jesus Christ is the only source of living water. It will quench the thirst of those suffering from the drought of divine truth that so afflicts the world. The words of the Lord to ancient Israel spoken by the prophet Jeremiah describe the condition of many of God’s children in our own day: “My people … have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out … broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” [Jeremiah 2:13] Too many of our Heavenly Father’s children spend their precious lives carving out broken cisterns of worldly gain that cannot hold the living water that satisfies fully their natural thirst for everlasting truth.
Enjoy the video. And you can read the full text of the story from the fourth chapter of John after the jump.

Happy Birthday, Elliot!

Today is Elliot's 21st birthday! This is his second and final birthday on his mission. In his last email, he mentioned that his current companion, Elder Karl, will have his birthday tomorrow, so they're having a big birthday weekend. They're being well-fed, today by the ward Relief Society President and tomorrow by President and Sister Taylor, so it should be a great birthday. And I'm sure Elliot would appreciate having the Chipmunks sing to him on his birthday.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Research on Religion Podcast: "Allison Pond on Being a Mormon Missionary"

About a month ago we posted a story about American Idol star David Archuleta and his decision to serve a Mormon mission. The primary source for that story was an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal written by Allison Pond, a Deseret News editorial writer. Sister Pond is a former missionary who served in Rostov-na-donu, Russia.

One reader of Sister Pond's WSJ article was a gentleman named Anthony Gill, Ph.D. Dr. Gill's CV indicates that he is a professor of political science at the University of Washington, and also a senior fellow with the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. After reading her story, Dr. Gill conducted an interview of Sister Pond about the experience of serving a Mormon mission. The interview was recorded and published today on the Institute's website. You can listen to the podcast of the interview here.

A related story in the Deseret News describes the interview:
Pond clearly and articulately explains her decision to serve a mission, life in the church's Missionary Training Center, the fears she encountered during her first day of street contacting in Russia and the positive overall experience her mission was for her — including some fun missionary moments. She also speaks about the unique religious world she encountered in Russia, as well as the benefits of her mission experience in her own life. 
"Missionaries are asked to do nothing less than defend a theology, which is really staggering when you think about it," Pond says during the 63-minute podcast. "None of these missionaries have been to divinity school. None of them have devoted their entire lives to this. It's just something they really believe in and they want to share ... and they rise to the occasion to become someone different and more converted."
It's a terrific interview, with great insights into the day-to-day experience of serving a mission, and well worth the time (slightly over an hour). Thanks to both Dr. Gill and Sister Pond for sharing it with us.

And since she's now been featured twice on Elliot's blog in just a month, here's a biography for Sister Pond, with a photo, from The Mormon Women Project:
Allison moved around quite a bit growing up, living in 16 houses by the age of 16 and attending kindergarten and first grade in Mexico City. She completed high school in Littleton, Colorado, and still thinks of Colorado as home. Allison received a BA in Journalism from Brigham Young University and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Georgetown University. She has lived in Russia several times as a teacher, a missionary and a fugitive from cubicle life. Allison loves good novels, staying up late and extra sharp cheddar cheese.  
Allison is an editorial writer and columnist for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah. She previously worked on public opinion surveys about religion and politics at the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC.