Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I Love Dolan Springs!

I love the sunsets here!
I know you mentioned that you were worried about how I'd feel after our FaceTime on Christmas Day. Don't be nervous, I don't feel homesick! It was nice to see you guys, but it wasn't hard for me to snap back into missionary mode and jump right back into work!  

On another note, Zack makes a crazy good Santa! Didn't even recognize him at first! 

Since we just spoke, there is not a lot to tell but here is a little more about my new area... 

From what we can tell, his area lies within the purple
boundaries where Dolan Springs is in the center.
I love Dolan Springs! It's definitely a big change though. My last area, even though it had some ghetto spots and some differences from home, was for the most part, a normal middle class suburban neighborhood. Dolan is very much not that, haha. We cover a huge area and spend a lot of time driving. The people out here are very poor, but also incredibly humble and willing to share everything that they have. I mentioned last week that there is one paved road in Dolan. Well, what I didn't know, is that all of the dirt roads are really rough! I'll include a video of us driving down one of them. (He must have had problems sending it or forgot because we didn't get it.) It's a pretty average road for Dolan. There are some that are better, but also some that are much worse. This is about all the time I have this week. I'll try to send more next week!

I love you!

This skull was hanging in our trailer when I arrived so we decided to give him some Christmas cheer and gave him some holiday antlers!
Some of the goodies we received for Christmas!

Q&A - 12/28/15

1.) What kind of pickup do you drive? Make and model? Manual or Automatic?  --Silver Nissan Frontier. Automatic 

2.) What ways did you find to make Christmas meaningful to you this year? --The "12 Ways of Christmas" that you sent was really great for that!  I liked focusing on the ways of Christ! 

3.) What is your favorite thing about Elder Andersen?  --I honestly just love everything about Elder Andersen, haha. He's a really easy person to like. 

4.) Where do you go to get WiFi on P-days?  --The stake center in Kingman. 

5.) How are you? Are you still struggling with a cold? Are you happy?  --Very happy! And just about over the cold!

The Berryessa's
The Martin kids
Keith and Pam

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!!

FaceTime with our Missionary!!
We were able to spend nearly 45 minutes with Ty today via FaceTime!!  He looks and sounds wonderful!!  How grateful we are for his willingness to serve!!  We love him!!

"Out of Valley" Zone Christmas Activity - Notice Elder Summers from Highland 7th Ward in the back on the left!  How cool is it that they got to spend Christmas together?!?

We Received an email in the morning with these fun pictures from the Hembrick's. It appears they opened their home to the missionaries for Christmas!! Thank you for your kindness!!
Elder Excell and Elder Andersen

Monday, December 21, 2015

Postponed P-Day

Ty sent us a very brief email to tell us that his P-Day has been moved to Friday this week so that they can enjoy Christmas Day off. He told us to expect to get a FaceTime call from him between 5:00 and 6:00 that day, and we can't wait!  He also asked me to let any of you that wrote him Christmas messages  or emails this week know that he appreciates them so much and he will plan to write to you on Christmas Day.

As his parents, we are so grateful to each of you for the continued love and support you show to our son!! Thank you and Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Homeless" Missionary

Me and Mr. & Mrs. Claus - AKA President & Sister Snow! 
Transfers! It looks like I'll be getting the axe after all! I'll be going out of valley! That's mission speak for Arizona. The place I'm going is called Dolan Springs. It's right above Kingman Arizona, which I tell you because it might be hard to find on a map otherwise, ;). My new area actually covers five small towns, and is one of the biggest areas in the mission. It'll be about as different from a biking area as you can get, because this area actually has a truck so as to be able to navigate all of the washes. (There is only one paved road in Dolan Springs). The missionaries in the area average about 3000 miles a month! I'll be living in a trailer, which according to Arizona state law, means I'm technically homeless! Didn't think that would come up on my mission! Haha!  The area is also very poor. The reason I have all of this information about the new area, is it's actually the area that Elder Dixon came from right before we met! Not much news on the new companion though. His name is Elder Andersen, and he's been out 2 transfers longer than I have, but that's about all I know! Also, apparently I'll be able to receive letters and packages at the mailbox in Dolan, because the mission office doesn't want to have to send all of the mail from the middle of Las Vegas that far south. All in all, I'm really excited!
Elder Dixon and I wearing a LOT of leather.  It was given to us by a wonderful less active family, but we're still not sure why!
As far as this last week goes, it's been really good! We had the chance to go to the temple with one of our members, which is always so amazing! If there's one thing I miss about being in a mission, it's not being able to go to the temple whenever I want.

Wednesday was a mission Christmas conference, which was really amazing! I was able to see a lot of friends from around the mission, and learn a lot from the trainings that were given!

The last few days have been crazy trying to say goodbye to everyone, and pack. I've come to love the people of this area so much, it's strange to think that I didn't know anyone at all here 4 short months ago. But I know that I'll love the people in my new area just as much, and that it's the place the Lord wants me to be!

I'll be sending some pictures of some of my favorite families in the ward, and hopefully a few more from tonight next week!
The Hudman's

The Pierce Family

The Russell's

Sister Royal and her daughter Rachel

Me and Bishop Marshall
I haven't sent my ponderizing thoughts home in a while, but I especially liked the scriptures I chose this week! They were the scriptures referenced in a conference talk I recently read by President Monson.  
  • ·         John 15:8 "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." This says that all we have to do to glorify God is to "bear much fruit" or have many good works.
  • ·         3 Nephi 18:24 says, "Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up--that which ye have seen me do." As we do the things that Christ would do, we glorify him. If you are living your life the right way, people will notice the kind of person you are and start to wonder why you're that way, and that's when they can start to see that it's because of Christ. The first step is to be an example!
  • ·         1 Peter 2:12 "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."  Some people won't ever recognize your good works in this life. But even though they might call you an "evildoer" if you continue to live the gospel, someday they will recognize your actions for what they were.

I love you all so much! Merry Christmas!
Elder Excell

One of our favorite billboards in our area! Not sure what the quotes mean, but it can't be good!

Q&A - 12/14/15

1.) If my memory is correct, you were supposed to find out about transfers this weekend. We are anxious to hear what you found out!! Will you be staying in the same area? Will Elder Dixon still be your companion? 
2.) How do you feel about your assignment for the next seven weeks?  --I'll answer the first 2 in the main letter. 

3.) What are your plans for our Christmas Day phone call? Will we be speaking on the phone or will you be able to FaceTime or Skype? How long will we have to chat?  -- Either FaceTime or Skype. I'm supposed to keep it to 30-40 minutes. Not sure on a time yet. I'll have a better idea next week! 

4.) Did you receive our Christmas package? I'm sending #2 on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. Hopefully, you'll get it next Monday. :)  --I got the first one! I may have a new address for you to send the second one to, ;). 

5.) What are you looking forward to this week?  --The unknown!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The True Spirit of Christmas

This week's letter will be short, because I'm not very prepared this week, and they've started asking missionaries to really focus on keeping their email time shorter.  They have extended it from 1 hour to 2 though, so I'll still have plenty of time to email as long as I'm more prepared than I am this week!

We had interviews with President Snow this week!  We have them every 3 months, and It's always so great to be able to meet with him!  He's a great man, and always has a lot of good advice!  

Exchanges this week were really good!  For those of you who don't know, exchanges are where you essentially switch companions for 24 hours.  It's a great chance to learn from other missionaries and to mix up the day to day routine a little bit.  On this exchange I was actually in an area that has a car, which is something I no longer take for granted! All of you people driving cars instead of riding bikes or walking, take a moment to be thankful for it this holiday season!  

I've been thinking a lot this last week about what the true spirit of Christmas is.  I think President Monson said it best when he said that "All we need to do to find the true spirit of Christmas is remove the last syllable, and it becomes the spirit of Christ."  I've been loving being able to focus more on the savior at this time of year, and I always love to see everyone else be just a little bit kinder and a little bit more generous. 

I'll be sure to be more prepared next week so that I can write a longer letter!  I love you all!

Have a blessed week!
Elder Excell

Q&A - 12/7/151.) Is the bleach in the bottle to kill the cockroaches or to clean up after the kill? (This made us laugh!!) --The bleach is for the kill, haha.  Probably not the most humane response, but I've never felt an overabundance of empathy for cockroaches.

2.) We loved your thoughts on learning to be happy in the moment instead of waiting for the next big thing! What are some of the simple pleasures you took time to enjoy this week? --I love the sunsets in Las Vegas!  I've been appreciating the cold a lot too!  On exchanges this week, I was in an area with a car!  That is something I hope I never take for granted again! haha.