Monday, April 30, 2012

Elliot's April 30 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


Things are good in Lawton this week, besides it being super humid and hot for most of the last week. We've had quite a bit of success here lately and have another baptism coming up on the 19th of May for an unbaptized son of a convert of a few years. Their whole family came to church and we're really excited for them! It was cool how we found them also. Elder Franco was on splits with a member and Elder Teisina and I had some extra time. I remembered trying to visit this family a few times but never really being able to sit down with them. But I thought we could try to stop by. When we got there they told us that earlier they were talking about coming back to church and how they missed it a lot in their lives. It was definitely cool that we stopped by when we did. We have quite a few other people we've been teaching who are doing well also. It impresses me often to see the faith demonstrated in the lives of these people, and I'm proud of the progress each one of them makes.

I'm not 100% sure what's happening with transfers yet dad. It sounds like my chances of opening Weatherford are dropping, but one of the APs dropped that there's a good shot for me to go to the north side of OK City and shotgun (both missionaries are new to an area) train a new missionary in Spanish. I'll likely find out on Wednesday when we have our Zone Leader Council. If I don't know where I'm going I will for sure know if I'm staying Zone Leader or not. I'll let y'all know.

You guys should be hearing from either President or Sister Taylor within the next few weeks about my flight plans, if you haven't already. Elder Grover was 1 transfer ahead of me and I know Sister Taylor called his parents last transfer to ask them what airport they wanted him to fly in to. And I'll give you guys a better idea about what time I'll call home on Mother's Day next week. I'll talk to my companions and we'll work it out. It sounds like later on might almost be best but I'll tell you for sure next week. Last phone call home of the mission! That's scary!

Well I'm glad to hear everything's good at home! I love y'all and am grateful for all of the support you've given me.

Con amor,

Elder Elliot

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mormon Messages: "Waiting on Our Road to Damascus"

The scriptures tell the story of Saul, later Paul, who experienced a dramatic transformative event while traveling on the road to Damascus, when the Savior spoke to him. (Acts 9.) Speaking of this event in his April 2011 General Conference address, "Waiting on the Road to Damascus," Dieter F. Uchtdorf explained:
There are many others who, for different reasons, find themselves waiting on the road to Damascus. They delay becoming fully engaged as disciples. They hope to receive the priesthood but hesitate to live worthy of that privilege. They desire to enter the temple but delay the final act of faith to qualify. They remain waiting for the Christ to be given to them like a magnificent Carl Bloch painting—to remove once and for all their doubts and fears. 
The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed.
Elder Uchtdorf concludes his address with an invitation:
Do not doubt. Remember, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29.) God loves you. He hears your prayers. He speaks to His children and offers comfort, peace, and understanding to those who seek Him and honor Him by walking in His way. I bear my sacred witness that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on course. We have a living prophet. This Church is led by Him whose name we bear, even the Savior Jesus Christ. 
Brothers and sisters, dear friends, let us not wait too long on our road to Damascus. Instead, let us courageously move forward in faith, hope, and charity, and we will be blessed with the light we are all seeking upon the path of true discipleship.
The Church recently produced a Mormon Messages video with excerpts from Elder Uchtdorf's address and interviews of two members who describe their own personal conversion experiences. That video is immediately below, followed by the full video of Elder Uchtdorf's address. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Church News: "Oklahoma tornado, second time around"

The tornadoes that recently hit Oklahoma took the greatest toll on Woodward, Oklahoma, where six people died and many more were injured. But that was not the first time Woodward has fallen victim to a powerful tornado, as we learn from the latest issue of the Church News. In a story published Monday, we meet Bonnie Reid (pictured), a member of the church who survived the recent Woodward tornado, as well as the 1947 tornado that took the lives of 107 Woodward residents.

Sister Reid fared well in the recent tornado. A resident of the Grace Living Center, she was quickly ushered to safety by a nurse at the center. 1947 was a different story, however:
After the tornado hit Woodward about 8:40 p.m. on April 9, 1947, gas lines started blowing up. Soon, she said, "the whole west side of town was ablaze." 
Her house was spared from serious wind damage, and homeless relatives began knocking on their door. 
"I had 29 people in my house that night, part of them I didn't even know," she recalled. 
Another knock brought a request for all able-bodied men to help search the rubble for survivors. 
She recalled that her husband, who had fought in World War II, "said it was the worst thing he had ever been through."
The Church News story tells of the experiences of other members of the church in the recent tornado, none of whom was injured. The local chapel suffered only minor damage while houses across the street were destroyed.

Let's hope that's the worst of the bad weather for this year!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kansas City Temple Open House

One of the central messages Elliot is sharing in Oklahoma is that families can be eternal and the role that temples play in helping our families achieve that goal. While attendance at temples is restricted to members of the church, they are open to everyone before they are dedicated. The newly-constructed Kansas City Temple is currently open to visitors, so if you happen to be in the area, don't miss this great opportunity to tour a Mormon temple.

CNN did a lengthy story on the Kansas City Temple open house, "Taking a rare tour of a Mormon temple," including the following video.

And here is a Mormon Messages video about the open house.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Elliot's April 23 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot and some new pictures after the jump.


This past week was definitely one of the better weeks of my mission. "Jane" was baptized and confirmed on Saturday. It was a great service with a sweet spirit to it. Her whole family was able to come and support her and it was awesome. I'm super excited for her and for the faith that she has.

I went down to Wichita Falls on Friday and got to see Adrienne. She is doing so well. She met a guy in Utah and they're planning on getting married in May and then sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in either November or December. She's actually going to be moving to Sandy, UT. I am so proud of her. We prayed so hard that she would find a guy to get sealed to and now it's happening! She's great.

So between "Jane" getting baptized and seeing Adrienne, it was a sweet week. It was one of those weeks where I know all of the effort and energy I've put into my mission paid off.

Sorry my email isn't much longer, I'm short on time right now. But I love all of you! Congrats on graduating and the new firm!


Elder Elliot

Monday, April 16, 2012

Elliot's April 16 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, along with three new pictures after the break.

Happy 50th dad! And congrats on the new firm. How's the first day going? What's the firm's name again? [Hinson Gravelle & Adair LLP opened today.] This, I'm sure, is a big week for ya, huh?

The storms this week blew by us here in Lawton with really no incident. We had some ice-cube sized hail come down on Friday but then nothing really after that besides a lot of wind. That's crazy about Woodward though. It wasn't in my area when I was in Clinton, they have their own branch. But I have a pretty good chance of heading back up to western Oklahoma next transfer. They're opening Weatherford up as its own area. President told Elder Measom, the district leader in Clinton, that the missionary who will open that up is someone who is already familiar with the area and speaks Spanish. I definitely fit the description. That would be pretty cool I think.

Our week here was pretty alright. We had to postpone "Jane's" baptism to this coming Saturday because her mom wasn't going to be able to make it to the confirmation yesterday. She's already passed her interview though so we're good to go. We found some new people to start working with this past week and things should keep going well with the work here.

Elder Aisake Teisina is awesome. He's from Bountiful, Utah and has been out for about 13 months.  Elder Jose Franco, originally from Guanojuato, Mexico but relocated to McKinney, TX about 7 years ago, is legit also. I think it'll be a good transfer together. They're fun to be around and both really good missionaries.

Well I'm doing alright here. I hope y'all are doing good too! Have a fun time at the graduation this week! Felicitaciones hermano and Kim!

Les quiero!

Elder Elliot

Oh and last week we went to the Holy City of the Wichitas. It was pretty fun. Here's a picture of Elder Franco, Elder Grover and I being fanned by Elder Olsen. As well as a couple other photos I thought you might like. Disfruten!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Elder Britten Schenk returns home

Three weeks ago, we featured a story on Elliot's blog about Elder Britten Schenk, a missionary in Brazil who suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a bus. We've followed Elder Schenk's blog ever since, monitoring his slow and steady progress. It's been gratifying to see him begin to return to health through the tremendous efforts of medical staff in Brazil and the emotional and spiritual support of his family, friends, and fellow missionaries.

Today, we learned that Elder Schenk has returned home! Today's blog story describes a wonderful reunion of a return missionary and his family, although certainly not under the usual circumstances. There will undoubtedly be much more medical treatment and therapy for Elder Schenk, but it sounds like he's an incredibly strong young man with a great family. We're sure everything will work out well for him and we wish him and his family all the best.

An old picture of Elliot

We found an old picture of Elliot today and thought it would be fun to share it on his blog. This morning, Elliot's mom was putting together a poster describing appropriate dress for the upcoming LDS Prom. She went to the prom's website and found the guidelines, which were accompanied by pictures of youth who attended past proms. She was shocked to see that Elliot and his date, Lisa Petot, were pictured as an example of appropriate prom dress! We think the picture is from the 2007 prom. He looks a lot different now, especially with the missionary haircut.

Tornadoes hit Oklahoma; missionaries safe

The severe storms forecasted for Oklahoma on Friday and Saturday did not materialize as expected, thankfully. But Oklahoma did not escape unscathed. A powerful tornado struck Woodward, a town of about 12,000 located in northwestern Oklahoma about three hours from Elliot, shortly after midnight on Sunday. Five people lost their lives in the Woodward tornado and ten others are reported in critical condition. There are reports of extensive property damage. NewsOk has the latest developments on Woodward (including the video below) and promises further updates.

The Woodward News has additional coverage about the tornado:
Five people are known to have died in the tornado, 2 people southwest of Woodward near the Tangier area and 2 children at the Hideaway Trailer Park. Another person died at the hospital, officials said. 
There was a late report of a missing 8-year-old girl, but officials believe she was located safely in Ellis County. 
Injuries were estimated at 20, "about half of those are critical," City Manager Alan Riffel said. Reports of injuries varied from lacerations to broken femurs to life threatening conditions.
The Woodward News also provides an online slideshow documenting the destruction left in the wake of the tornado. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the Woodward tornado.

Other tornados touched down in various parts of western and central Oklahoma over the weekend, including Norman, Mustang, and Oklahoma City. NewsOK has extensive coverage of the weekend's storms.

We received another report (below) from the mission office, confirming that all the missionaries are safe, including the senior missionary couple assigned to Woodward. Again, we're grateful that mission leadership is watching over the missionaries and keeping us advised.
We’re happy to report that all our missionaries are safe and well.  
The storm was less severe than forecast except in Woodward, Oklahoma where a large tornado nearly quarter-mile wide caused five confirmed fatalities, massive damage and injuries early this morning. We have a Senior Missionary couple there; they are fine. 
Thank you for your faith and prayers. 
Elder David Luke
Office Staff

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New York Times: "At Age 19, From Utah to Uganda"

Yesterday's New York Times featured a lengthy article describing the experiences of Mormon missionaries serving in Uganda. Many young missionaries are mentioned in the story, beginning with a 19 year old missionary from Salt Lake City, Jared Dangerfield.
LAST summer, Jared Dangerfield was simply 19, skateboarding the streets of suburban Salt Lake City, plugged into the Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu. He had just wrapped up his year at Utah State University, where there was a girl he liked to make laugh. 
Memories of college and family are kept in a photo album his sister gave him when they said goodbye, but it is rarely looked at. 
“Little time to remember home,” he says. “We kind of have to stay away from the world.” Gone are his friends. Gone is his given name. The next time he will see his mother’s face is 2013. Until then, he is Elder Dangerfield, as it says on his name tag.
That is the common experience shared by all young men and women who choose to serve missions for the Church, whether in Uganda, Oklahoma, or elsewhere. They give up two years of their lives (one and a half years for the women) and travel to destinations not of their choosing to serve a religious mission at their own expense, while most of their contemporaries are working, going to college, and pursuing other life goals.
It is certainly a time of sacrifice. Missionaries are slingshot into an intensive, airtight and sometimes lonely schedule of prayer, Scripture study and door-to-door proselytizing six days a week, 52 weeks a year. They are to abstain from virtually every earthly pleasure — not just the usual temptations prohibited under Mormonism, like premarital sex, alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, but also magazines, television and music not sanctioned by the church. They can call home two days a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day. (When suicide bombings ripped through Kampala during the 2010 World Cup, killing more than 70 people, including an American citizen, the missionaries still were not allowed a call.) E-mailing, through a secure Internet server, is for Mondays.
While the article focuses on the missionaries, it also describes the interaction they have with native Ugandans, including a recent convert to the Church, 29 year old Joseph Kagodo.
For new converts like Mr. Kagodo, the values of the young proselytes are as compelling as any set of religious beliefs. Indeed, Mr. Kagodo says the details of Mormon doctrine were confusing for him at first — do they believe only in the Book of Mormon, or in the Bible as well? (They are meant to complement each other.) But in a land where many aggressively preach the word of God and worship tends toward the enthusiastic, he appreciated that the Mormons lived as they taught — quietly, humbly. 
“I found what I wanted,” Mr. Kagodo says. “It is the way of life. I’ve met many other Christians who would be very comfortable just saying they are born-again or what, but their character does not depict it.” 
“For me,” he adds, “the fact that nobody pushes you, but asks you, and read the Scriptures, and just keep the gospel, that matters a lot.”
Thanks to The Times and reporter Josh Kron for providing a good snapshot on the life of these missionaries in Uganda.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tornado watch in Oklahoma

It looks like it could be a bad weather weekend in Oklahoma. Yesterday's NewsOk carried a story about a tornado that hit Norman but did not do significant damage, although this cake shop didn't fare too well. This morning, there were reports of a small tornado that touched down in Mustang. So far, we're not aware of anyone being hurt in the storms, and we're grateful for that. The weather reports (see first video below) do not bode well for the rest of the day, and the national news reports provide rather daunting news (see second video below), so we'll keep praying for the safety of everyone in the area (including Elliot!)

Last night we got a nice note from the mission assuring us that all of the missionaries have been accounted for and are safe. We appreciate how well they take care of our young men and women while they are away from us.
Dear Families,

This note is sent in behalf of President Nolan Taylor.

We are happy to report that all of the missionaries serving in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission are safe and accounted for and that there have been no injuries due to the storms and tornadoes that have hit this area. 
There was a slight break in the storms, but they have regenerated and are currently passing through various parts of the mission. We will give you another update in the morning.

Tomorrow is forecast to have even stronger storms. We are continually sending texts to your sons and daughters to let them know of storms heading their way. We will keep you updated with statuses tomorrow as the storms pass through.

As always, we appreciate your faith and prayers.

Elder David Luke
Office Staff

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Oklahoman: "Ken Burns brings 'The Dust Bowl' to life"

Filmmaker Ken Burns, known for The Civil WarBaseball, The War, and many other historical documentaries, has produced a new documentary on the Dust Bowl, the name given to the region of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico devastated by dust storms in the 1930s. Today's Look at OKC features a story, "Ken Burns Brings the 'Dust Bowl' to Life," describing the documentary, a four-hour movie that will be aired on PBS in November. Excerpts of the movie will be shown this month at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

From the story:
The massive dust storms peaked on April 14, 1935, a day that became known as Black Sunday. Towering columns of dust choked out the daylight, reducing visibility to a few feet in areas throughout the Dust Bowl. 
“A young itinerant singer found himself in Pampa, Texas, in the midst of Black Sunday ... and everybody all around him, God-fearing Christians all, were certain that this was the end of the world,” Burns said. “And so he looked up and wrote down a song called ‘So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh.' His name was Woody Guthrie.”
The documentary features interviews with 26 survivors and the written accounts of two women who lived through the Dust Bowl:
“Unlike any other story that we've told,” Burns said, “this is almost completely a bottom-up story, told by the folks who experienced it, their own memories. That's what makes this particularly special for us.”
I hope to be able to catch the documentary when it airs. In the meantime, here is a news report with Burns' commentary and associated video. Below that, don't miss the video of Woody Guthrie's "So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Elliot's April 9 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, with several pictures of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum after the jump.


Happy Easter y'all! Hope you guys had a good one. We did here. We had two super awesome, huge meals and had like 3 other members come bring us food. Everyone here is so nice and helpful. We also visited with "Jane" yesterday and she said she wants to be baptized this Saturday! I'm really excited for her. So that's what we did yesterday. Oh and I sang in the ward choir haha. I hope it still sounded okay.

This past week was pretty cool. We had our zone leader council this past Wednesday and picked up a third companion, Elder Franco. The mission is growing right now and there are a lot of companionships of three missionaries right now. This coming Wednesday Elder Grover will be leaving to Moore, my last area. My new companion will be Elder Teisina. I don't know him too well, but he seems like a really cool guy and I think it will be a lot of fun.

I got the package thank you very much mom! I do appreciate it. I already ate all the See's Candy and I plan on wearing the tie this upcoming Saturday.

And good luck with the new firm dad! I know things will go well for ya.

So I'm all registered for classes. I'm going to take Calc, Chem, Nutrition, PD Biology and a New Testament class. I'm trying to keep all of my options open so I can decide exactly what I want to do when I get back. But I got that taken care of.

It took nearly forever but I'm gonna send you the photos I took from the bombing memorial. [Elliot went to the memorial on February 20.] Hope you enjoy!

Love ya and have a great week!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bible Videos: "He is Risen"

 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Bible Videos: "Jesus is Resurrected"

 8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.
 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus is Laid in a Tomb"

 57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimath├Ža, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus is Scourged and Crucified"

 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus is Condemned Before Pilate"

 1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
 2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

Monday, April 2, 2012

MTC Choir sings at General Conference

Elliot's experience singing in the MTC Choir at the October 2010 General Conference is one of the highlights of his mission. His parents loved it because we got to see him! We posted pictures of that experience on the blog (here and here). So it was fun to see another MTC Choir sing at the Saturday afternoon session of this past weekend's General Conference, knowing that missionary parents were straining to spot their son or daughter singing in the choir, just as we did a year and a half ago. And this MTC Choir had a rather well-known member: Elder David Archuleta, the American Idol star who recently entered the MTC before heading to an undisclosed mission in South America.

Here's a picture of Elder Archuleta, followed by videos of the three numbers performed by the MTC Choir. Enjoy.

"Glory to God On High"

"Lead, Kindly Light"

"Praise to the Man"

Elliot's April 2 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot.


General Conference weekend was sweet, huh? Two of the talks I particularly like were Elder Andersen's and President Uchtdorf's. [The first two pictures to the right are from Elder Andersen's talk. The third is from Elder Uchtdorf's talk. Both talks can be viewed below, after the jump.] I really like the questions asked by Elder Andersen: Does my life reflect my love for the Savior? and What does Christ think of me? Those are definitely points to ponder about. I hope that He thinks of me well and accepts my service I give Him. But I also hope that through Him my capacity to love and work will continue to expand so that I can be a better instrument in His hands to help others.

I'm doing good here in L-Town. I'm really excited about the progress "Jane" and "Joan" are making. "Jane" is not for sure when she wants to be baptized just yet, but she did say she wants it to be this month. She also asked me to baptize her which will be a sweet experience for me. Her testimony is really developing and it's been fun to teach her. And "Joan" is doing well too. We taught her the Plan of Salvation this past week and it really brought her a lot of hope. She's out of town this week but is set for her date to get baptized on the 10th of May.

It started getting hot this past week though. This will be another super hot summer I'm sure. That's okay; it'll get me in shape to go running and biking with you after the mission.

I'll be registering for classes tomorrow! I'm going to sign up for a couple of science classes as well as probably calculus so that I can keep my options open. It's crazy how suddenly this is all coming up. It's funny too when people ask how much time I have left. I tell them, "About four months" and they say something like, "Oh wow, you don't have much time left." Then they ask Elder Grover, and he says, "About three months." It's pretty wild. Just this past Saturday I started my D&C challenge. I'm reading a section of the Doctrine and Covenants everyday until I finish my mission. I'm reading it from back to front. So today I read Section 136, also meaning I have that many days left.

Thanks for all the support! Good luck with starting the new firm dad. I know that's exciting and I hope it brings a lot of success. And I can't think of anything in particular that I need sent out, mom. But I always appreciate the packages and the gift cards!

I love y'all mucho!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mormon Times: "Moving beyond full-time proselyting missions"

We've learned a lot about the variety of non-traditional Church missions as we've written about Elliot's traditional proselyting mission. Several months ago we featured a story about Church-service missionaries, where members of the Church can serve missions of varying lengths, performing service in many different ways, frequently while living at home. More recently, we learned of the inspirational story of Elder Sterling Wyatt, a missionary from Logan, Utah, who served a mission despite physical limitations. I think it's great there are alternatives to traditional missionary service for those who need some flexibility.

Today's Mormon Times includes a video interview of Joel Moriyama, director of the Church-service mission program. It's an interesting look at service missions, and includes some discussion of Elder Wyatt. He explains that 22,299 members donated 9.9 million hours of service in 2011. Enjoy the interview.