Monday, March 28, 2016

Did You Think To Pray?

This week has been really great!  

On Tuesday, Elder Aitchison and I went to the chapel early in the morning to unlock the chapel, because that's the place where all of the missionaries going back and forth between Vegas and "out of valley" meet.  Then Elder VanSlyke and I went down to Kingman for a zone leadership meeting, and to skype into a new district leader training that was happening up in Vegas.  Skyping in was definitely a little weird, but I learned so much from both of them!  

We also helped some members move their sheep this weekend!  I'll try to send a video of the adventure! 

I learned something interesting in studies the other day about prayer. The Bible dictionary has this to say about prayer, 

  • "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."  
I've really come to appreciate the fact that prayer is all about aligning our will with God's, and I also thought it was really interesting that there are certain things that he wants to bless us with but are conditional on us asking for them!  

I'm also super excited for general conference this weekend!  I know that conference is an amazing way for us to receive revelation for our personal lives! 

I love you all!  Thank you for all of your support!

Elder Excell

Q&A - 3/28/2016

1.) What are some of your responsibilities as District Leader? Are you enjoying the added responsibility?  --As a district leader, I'm in charge of leading district council, going on exchanges with other elders in my district, and gathering people's key indicators for the week.  I'm also supposed to follow up with people over the phone every couple of nights to see how their week is going and help them set goals and then follow up on those goals.

2.) How many missionaries are in your district? And, does this mean that you'll be asked to go to leadership meetings or is just zone leaders that go to those?  --We have one more set of elders in our district as well as a set of sisters. The elders cover the Golden Valley area, and the sisters cover part of Kingman.  I'll go to some zone leadership meetings every couple of weeks, and once a quarter there's a mission leadership conference, but other than that it's mostly just the zone leaders.

3.) General Conference is this weekend!! What are your plans for being able to watch it? Where will you be? Do you have any investigators who are interested in watching with you?  --I'm super excited for conference! It seems like just yesterday that I was watching with Elder Dixon in Warm Springs.  We'll be watching the broadcast from the Dolan Springs chapel.  We don't have anyone set up to come watch with us yet because of how easy it is to watch at home.

4.) When is the last time you were able to ride your bike? Is it pretty much just stored away in your trailer for now?  --I haven't ridden my bike since Warm Springs.  There are lots of Goat Heads (really big thorns) on the roads here, so our tires would go flat almost immediately. 

5.) Do you have enough money? Do you have to pay for gas from your mission money or do you have some sort of allowance for gas to travel in your area?  --I'm doing fine!  We have a gas card that covers all of our vehicle things, so we don't have to use our MSF money for that.

6.) Are you happy and healthy and do you know how much you are loved?  --

Monday, March 21, 2016

I'm Staying in Dolan!!

The Chloride Parade - It's easy to see why we took 2nd place!!  :)

Hey everybody!

Sending more pictures from our hike to Supai!
First things first, (I was kicking myself for not doing this the week before, but I guess I'll have to settle for the week after) Happy Anniversary to my parents!  27 years is a long time to be married, and I'm so grateful for the example that they've set for me about how to have a good relationship, work through the hard times, and enjoy the good times when they come around!  I hope that when I get married someday, I can have the kind of relationship that they have!  

I do have a little more time today, so hopefully I'll be able to spend a little more time writing all of you! I think I kind of get how Dad is feeling about being released as bishop. A calling like that just becomes such a big part of who you are that you kind of forget who you are without it!  It's already weird for me to think of introducing myself to people as Ty instead of Elder Excell!  

We had an interesting experience while we were teaching the other day!  We've been teaching the grandkids of some of our favorite members in the branch lately!  Being around so many old people, I had forgotten how much I love  talking with and teaching little kids! They're so innocent and full of the spirit. I've never heard prayers more filled with the spirit than that of a little 8 year old kid that is earnestly preparing to be baptized.  Part way through me talking in one of the lessons, the little girl just blurted out, "I want him to baptize me!" and pointed at me!  I was really touched!  

We had transfer doctrine this week, and there's some big news!  I'll be staying in Dolan Springs with Elder Aitchison, but I've been asked to be a district leader!  I'm definitely feeling a little overwhelmed and under-qualified, but I'm so glad that I've been given this chance to learn and grow and serve my fellow missionaries!  There have been two big things that keep running through my mind as I think about my new assignment.  One of them is a scripture in Phillipians 4:13, which talks about how we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.  The other is Henry B. Eyring's talk from this last general conference's priesthood session.  He talked about how as long as we do our best to fulfill our calling, the Lord will magnify our efforts! 

"I learned this from meeting an elders quorum president in a stake conference years ago. In the conference there were more than 40 names presented of men who were to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The stake president leaned over to me and whispered, “Those men were all less-active prospective elders.” In amazement, I asked the president what his program was to rescue these men.

He pointed to a young man in the back of the chapel. He said, “There he is. Most of these men have been brought back because of that elders quorum president.” He was on the back row, dressed casually, his legs stretched out with his battered boots crossed in front of him.

I asked the stake president to introduce me to him after the meeting. When we met, I told the young man I was surprised by what he had done and asked him how he did it. He shrugged his shoulders. He obviously didn’t think he deserved any credit.

Then he said softly, “I know every inactive guy in this town. Most of them have pickup trucks. I have a truck too. I wash my pickup where they wash theirs. In time, they become my friends.

“Then I wait until something goes wrong in their lives. It always does. They tell me about it. I listen and I don’t find fault. Then, when they say, ‘There is something wrong in my life. There just has to be something better than this,’ I tell them what is missing and where they can find it. Sometimes they believe me, and when they do, I take them with me.”

You can see why he was modest. It was because he knew he had done his small part and the Lord was doing the rest. It was the Lord who had touched the hearts of those men in their troubles. It was the Lord who had given them the feeling that there must be something better for them and a hope that they could find it.

The young man, who—like you—was a servant of the Lord, simply believed that if he did his small part, the Lord would help those men along the path to home and to the happiness only He could give them. This man also knew the Lord had called him as elders quorum president because he would do his part.

There will be times in your service when you won’t have the remarkable and visible success of that young elders quorum president. That is the time when you will need to be confident that the Lord, knowing you would do your part in the work, called you through His authorized servants."

I definitely have felt the truth of these things over the last few weeks, and I know that I'll continue to feel the truth of them as I take on this new assignment! I'm so thankful for all of your love and support, and I know that your prayers strengthen me every day!  I love you all!

Elder Excell

Q&A - 3/21/16

1.) I'm sure you'll give us details in your letter, but where will you be laying your head at night by the end of this week?? Will you be staying in Dolan or headed to someplace new??  -- Staying in Dolan! More on that in the letter! Same mailing address!

2.) I've been meaning to ask you about your piano solo in church from a week ago. What song did you play and how do you feel it went? (Not gonna lie, I miss my Sunday afternoon private concerts!Heavy black heart Maybe the next time you either play or go practice at the church, you could record on your voice recorder app and send to me!! I'd love that!!)  -- I think it went really well considering that I don't really have the practice time that I usually do.  I'll see if I can work something out with a recording for you!

3.) What was the most disappointing thing that happened to you this week?  -- We actually haven't had very many dissappointments lately!  I'm probably jinxing it, but right now life in Dolan is good!

4.) What was the best moment of your week?  -- We met a really cool lady in Meadview who's been going through some really hard times this Friday, and we invited her to church this sunday, and she came!  It might not seem like much, but a lot of times in missionary work the people you think will come to church don't, so it was cool to see someone actually come the first time we asked!

Our favorite signs in Chloride - some great wisdom here!

Monday, March 14, 2016

And the 2nd Place Winner in the Chloride Parade Goes To...

I don't have much time to write today! We spent most of our morning helping unload a tractor and move a shed for the branch. 
Some members in our branch and their two-day-old
baby lamb.

Dad's being released as Bishop?  That's definitely going to be really different!  I imagine it will be a lot like the feelings I have about coming home from a mission, lots of mixed emotions about the good times you've had, but also the relief of having a little bit of a break. I'm also curious about who the next Bishop will be, but also not speculating. ;)

I guess the biggest news for this week is that we marched in a parade in Chloride! It was tons of fun! We handed out Books of Mormon, talked to lots of people, and even watched a gunfight!(don't worry, it was staged!). We even somehow won a second place trophy for marching in the parade! 

Transfers are coming up this next week, and I'm excited to see what happens. After the 2nd transfer is sort of the time when it could go either way.  I could stay.  I could go.  It's pretty unlikely that I'll ever serve in California, because everything outside of Vegas is one zone, and it's pretty uncommon to serve twice in the same zone.

I'm sorry this is so short!  I love you all and hope that you have a great week! 
Elder Excell
The trailer we helped to tin foil!

Q&A - 3/14/16

1.) Since you have a washer and dryer in your trailer, do you do laundry throughout the week or do you still try and conquer it all on p-day?  --It just depends on the week and what kind of crazy stuff we have going on!

2.) Do you still cut your own hair? Do you give haircuts to other missionaries still?  --I still cut my own hair.  I don't really cut too many other missionaries hair right now, but still occasionally.

3.) What was the highlight of your week?  --We marched in a parade!  More about that in the letter!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Hiking Supai

These last few weeks have been crazy! Now we're cramming two p-days into one so this may be short.  
First off, our hike to Supai! We left Sunday evening and spent the night at the Peach Springs Elders house.  We woke up at 5 AM the next morning, and drove an hour or so to the canyons trailhead.  Hiking was beautiful, but really hard! We did the math, and it was 24 miles overall, with lots of elevation!  The falls were absolutely beautiful!  
Some of the beautiful waterfalls we saw

The Supai Chapel
I'm not sure how much I’ve mentioned this in the past, but there are lots of interesting people and Dolan Springs. We started keeping tallies of certain things we find interesting such as number of people who've died and come back to life and people who have accidentally been shot in the stomach! (seven and two respectively, in case you were wondering).  In fact, we met a lady this week who, according to her, has been baptized by immersion by the Pope, met with Gordon B Hinckley and the 12 apostles, and has had a vision she's had confirmed by all of them.  At one point, she invested $30,000 into a mineral hot springs so she could bottle water and give it to old people in nursing homes with cancer, because apparently there's a big problem with old people who have cancer not getting enough water... Like I said, lots of interesting people!
We also had stake conference this weekend. All of the talks focused a lot on charity and service. It made me think a lot about 1 Corinthians 13:1 - "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."  No matter what it is that we're doing, if we’re not doing it for the right reasons and with love for those around us, it all becomes meaningless. I'm so grateful for the chance that I have to be here on a mission and show my love for others through service to them and sharing the gospel with them!
I’m out of time.  I love you all and I'm so thankful for all of your support!

Elder Excell
Me, Elder Boudousquie and Elder Van Slyke
Q&A - 3/7/16

1.) Obviously, we want to hear about your adventurous p-day last week! --It was so amazing!  I'll talk more about it in the letter!

2.) Am I OK to still use your Dolan Springs address? How many weeks until next transfer? The whole six and seven week thing has got me a little mixed up! :) --Transfers are on March 22. I'm not so sure if I'll stay or not, so if in doubt, send it to the mission office address! 

3.) Is it starting to get toasty there?  --Not too bad yet!  We're enjoying the brief but beautiful spring of Northern Arizona, and temperatures are staying mostly in the 70's!

4.) When was the last time you had the opportunity to play the piano? Have you been able to play the organ at all?  --I play at district council and zone conferences pretty frequently!  I haven't had much chance to play the organ lately!  I have been asked to play a piano solo in church this Sunday though!

5.) This question came up at Dad's fireside last night and it made me wonder what you'd say - what are you glad that you did or wish you'd have done to prepare for your mission? --I'm glad that I spent the time reading the Book of Mormon!  Having a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon has helped me so much!