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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New pictures of Elliot

President and Sister Taylor posted a bunch of new pictures on their blog. Here are several that include Elliot. 

Elliot's May 21 email

Here's the latest email from Elliot. He's moving from Lawton to Oklahoma City, likely his last transfer of the mission. He's due home August 16!


Well I'm having a bit of a rushed p-day with having to head out this week so sorry if my email isn't too long today. Transfers are this Wednesday and I'm heading up to the OKC 4th Central area. I'm a little nervous and a lot excited to go back to a Spanish area. President also told me that I'm going to be the district leader so that makes it a shotgun-train-district leader assignment. Should be fun! I'll miss Lawton though. This has been a good area and Elder Teisina's been an awesome companion. But that's part of the mission. The Lord puts us where he needs us and only for how long he needs us there.

All of my district I'm going to is Spanish and we're all in the same branch. There will be me and my companion, 3 Hermanas, and another companionship of Elders. It should be a really fun time. With the exception of me and Hermana Turner, the whole district is young in the mission. There will be 2 brand new missionaries and the rest have been out for 7 months or less. I imagine there will be a really good excitement there. I hear the work in the Spanish areas is taking off right now.

Well I gotta run! I love y'all and I'll talk to you next week!


Elder Elliot

Monday, May 14, 2012

Elliot's May 14 email and pictures

Here's the latest email from Elliot, with several pictures after the jump. Check out the pictures and play the "guess where Elder Elliot is" game. With a little bit of educated guesswork, it may actually be possible to figure out where each picture was taken.

Hey family!

It was great talking to y'all yesterday! I hope you enjoyed the dinner dad and Alyssa made for you mom and that you had a great dia de las madres. I'm glad to know everything's going well back home and that I'm almost an uncle now. I hope Kim's doing alright!

So there's not really much news besides what I shared with ya yesterday, but I promised we'd play the "guess where Elder Elliot is" game. So I'm going to send a handful of pictures and you have to figure out where it was. All of them will be in southwestern Oklahoma but will be in different towns and stuff. We did quite a bit of traveling our zone this past week. Hope you have fun!

I love y'all! Have a great week!

Con amor.

Elder Elliot

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus is Baptized by John"

  13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stilwell Strawberry Festival

Stilwell, named for the creator of a railroad empire, is the county seat of Adair County in eastern Oklahoma, far outside of the boundaries of Elliot's mission. Too bad, because this coming weekend Stilwell will host a great event -- the 65th annual Stilwell Strawberry Festival.

The festival will have all kinds of fun activities. Early Saturday morning, runners will lace up their shoes for A Run for the Berries, with 5k and 1-mile run options. There will also be a parade and live music performances, including Susie McEntire, choirs from Stilwell High School and Middle School, and the Stilwell Community Choir. At noon, the winner of the Strawberry Queen Pageant will be crowned. Throughout the day, the Tired Iron and Standing Tall Antique Tractor Club will put on demonstrations on Division Street, and there will be a carnival, a horseshoe contest, and arts and crafts. Sounds like a great time.

But the most important part of the Strawberry Festival is the strawberries, of course. Despite last summer's extreme drought, which reduced this year's strawberry crop by as much as 50%, and a frost early in this year's growing season, festival organizers have assured that there will be plenty of red, ripe, strawberries. A number of local growers will have strawberries for sale at the festival. The festival will feature a strawberry recipe contest at noon, with champion strawberry awards and an auction at 2 pm.

As a huge fan of strawberries, I know where I'd like to be Saturday. For now, however, I'll have to be satisfied with a trip to the local farmers market while I dream about Oklahoma strawberries. Here's some great coverage of the strawberry festival from the Tahlequah Daily Press and a feature from the Oklahoman about Mother's Day strawberries, along with a video featuring a fun strawberry pizza. Delicious!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Elliot's May 7 email and pictures

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


For Mother's Day is it alright if I call at 7:30 my time (5:30 your time)? [Time for the last of our twice-yearly calls!] That'll work well for me and hopefully will give you enough time for all of your church meetings. I'll plan on calling then.

So big news: President Taylor called me yesterday and told me some transfer doctrine. I'll be training a new missionary in the South Spanish Branch! I don't think I am going to be in the same area as at the beginning of my mission, but I'll be in the same branch. I'm so excited. Transfers aren't until the 23rd of this month, but there is a meeting for the trainers this Wednesday that'll I'll be heading up to Moore for. I'm definitely going to miss Lawton but I'm excited to go back to the South and speak Spanish. I wonder how well I can speak though after not being in a Spanish area for like 15 months. It'll be fun.

In other news: Elder Franco got moved out just as suddenly as he got moved in. There was an opening in El Reno so he got moved to fill in. Definitely miss him, but that's part of the mission I guess.

Things are fine here. We have a baptism this next week on the19th which is exciting. This area has been consistently going well the entire time since I got here. The ward is great and really supportive. I finally feel like I'm at the point in my mission where I have a general hang of things. Maybe that's why God wants me back in a Spanish area, mix things up a bit. But I just want to hold nothing back for this last little stretch of the mission. It goes by so fast.

Well I love y'all and look forward to talking on Sunday!


Elder Elliot

Sunday, May 6, 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, Adam Martin (his first appearance in the newsletter since he recently reported to the MTC in Brazil), JK McKeon, CJ Norris, and Carlton Reininger.  We really appreciate Sister Hollingworth putting this together every month!

Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.

HuffPost Culture: "A Female Episcopal Priest Visits a Mormon Temple"

We recently posted a story about the Kansas City Temple open house here on Elliot's blog. This morning I ran across a story from the Church Newsroom about an Episcopal priest and theologian, Danielle Tumminio, who wrote of her experience at the open house in a Huffington Post column. I thought the column would be worth sharing because it provides an interesting and well-written perspective on a non-Mormon's experience in visiting a temple, particularly from one who is a religious leader and teacher. Here is an excerpt from Ms. Tumminio's column:
It was in these rooms, and the final Celestial Room, where I caught a glimpse of God. 
You see, as part of our final stop on the tour, our guide took us to a room with a mural of the Missouri countryside painted by a local artist. The room had earthy colors, browns and greens and rows of cushioned seats. This was the first instruction room. From there, we took a step up -- as if ascending closer to heaven -- and entered a second room, similar to the first in shape and size but all white. This was the second instruction room. When we left that room, we took another step up and entered the Celestial Room, a space designed to give those who sit in it a foretaste of heaven. 
It was a simple room yet ornate at the same time, all white with sparkling crystal chandeliers, large mirrors, and plump sofas and chairs reminiscent of those that must have existed in Joseph Smith's day. Our guide asked us to be silent and said we were welcome to sit wherever we liked and take a moment to pray. So I sat down on a sofa that seemed to envelop me, folded my hands on my lap and closed my eyes. 
Like Dante, who saw God face to face but had no words to describe the encounter, I have few words to describe what I felt in that moment. But I can say this: While it did not convert me, nor did it make me want to be a Mormon, the silence and peace I felt reminded me of the many other times I've felt close to God, whether in an Episcopal cathedral, in a clear, warm ocean or in my ratty old car. And because of that, I came to understand why temples exist and why they are so important to Mormons across the world.
Thanks to Ms. Tummunio for sharing her experience. Please read her full column here.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus Turns Water into Wine"

 11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

El Reno Onion Burger Day Festival

This would have been a very good day to be in El Reno, Oklahoma, about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. Today was the official El Reno Onion Burger Day Festival. The festival features all kinds of fun activities and shows, including several performers for the kids -- the Lincoln Honor Choir, Sponji the Clown, Maddox Ross, Kailyn Jolliff, and others -- and several more for the adults -- O Fidelis, Jeremy Fields, Sour Milk Babies, Deer People, Jenny Simms, and Johnny Cooper. That should be enough entertainment to satisfy pretty much everyone!

Of course, the highlight of the onion burger festival is, naturally, onion burgers. There will be onion burgers for everyone, hundreds of them in fact. And there will be the onion burger of all onion burgers -- an 850-pound monstrosity over 8.5 feet in diameter.

We learn a bit about the history of onion burgers and the El Reno festival from the festival's blog:
The Burger Day Festival is a tribute to the fried onion hamburger, cooked daily in El Reno since the early 1900’s. In Hamburgers & Fries: An American Story, author John T. Edge describes the history of El Reno’s fried onion hamburger. Edge tells of Ross Davis who owned and operated the Hamburger Inn on Route 66 in Downtown El Reno. Davis began making fried onion hamburgers in the twenties during the depression.  Since onions were cheap and meat was expensive, Davis would add a half shredded onion atop a five cent meat patty and smash the burger with the back of his spatula. It made the burger look bigger, while adding a tremendous amount of flavor.
 * * * 
It was decided that this Fried Onion Burger Day Festival would revolve around the cooking of the World’s Largest Fried Onion Hamburger. Canadian Valley Technology Center was contacted to design and construct the equipment needed to cook this monstrous delicacy. The technology center created two major apparatuses, a twelve foot convection oven and a ten foot circular grill that could grill, rise, flip and lower a hamburger patty. The hard part was done. An invitation was given to all boys who had ever worked for one of the fried onion burger diners. The invitation was to receive a free burger day t-shirt in exchange for helping to cook the big hamburger. The event was developed and to be run by volunteer labor.
So, what does a giant onion burger look like? Here's a picture from a past festival. Looks delicious!

The Oklahoman: "Jesus House launches new 'adoption' program"

The Jesus House in Oklahoma City is "an inner-city, non-denominational Christian outreach to the homeless, near homeless, addicted and mentally ill." According to its website, its mission is to "spread the love of Christ by providing food, shelter, clothing and assistance to those in need. We serve Oklahoma City’s needy with integrity and in a manner that exemplifies our commitment to the love of Jesus Christ and biblical principles of stewardship." I don't know much about the Jesus House but it sounds like pure Christianity in action.

Today's Oklahoman features a story and video (below) about a recent block party at the Jesus House designed to kick off a new community outreach program offered by the shelter, known as "Adopt-A-Block." From the article:
Rick Denny, Jesus House executive director, said the gathering was a first for the homeless shelter. The shelter offers a multitude of services to the homeless, such as food baskets, but its main program is designed to help homeless men and women who are mentally ill and suffering from addiction. 
“We have a lot of homeless who are here, but the target of this event is the neighborhoods, Orchard Park and Westlawn Gardens,” Denny said. “Those two neighborhoods were what we wanted to focus on.” 
He said the block party served as a fellowship gathering to help Jesus House staff members and volunteers build relationships with some of the people living in the Orchard Park neighborhood and Westlawn Gardens residential area, formerly known as the Mulligan Flats area. Denny said Jesus House staff members and volunteers plan to visit the homes of their neighbors on Saturdays as part of the Adopt-a-Block program, to identify which individuals and families may be in need of the shelter's services and resources.
This looks like a great program, especially since the resident-guests of the Jesus House volunteer their own time as they serve others in the community who are in need.

Enjoy the video.