Monday, July 30, 2012

Elliot's July 30 email and pictures

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


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

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

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

Love ya!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bible Videos: "Jesus Heals a Woman of Faith"

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

2012 Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie

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

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

Justin Peacock returns home!

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

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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Elliot's July 23 email

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


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

[The family stuff has been redacted.]

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

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

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


Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 22, 2012

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

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

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

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

The other seven religious wonders in the CNN story are:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Elliot's July 16 email and pictures

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

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

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


Elder Elliot

Monday, July 9, 2012

Elliot's July 9 email and pictures

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


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

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

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

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

Love you!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 8, 2012

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

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

Howard Council: Lawton's legendary saddle maker

This story represents what I love about Oklahoma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 2, 2012

Elliot's July 2 email

Here is the latest email from Elliot.

Hola mi familia!

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

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

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

I love y'all! Gracias por todo!

Elder Elliot

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Newhall First Ward missionary newsletter

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

Enjoy the newsletter after the jump.