Monday, April 25, 2016

I Love Serving in Dolan Springs!

Q&A - 04/25/2016
I know I send a lot of pictures of sunsets, but
the sunsets here are all so good!

1.)  Transfer week is just around the corner.  You have hinted that you think you'll be leaving Dolan Springs.  How do you feel about that?  When will you find out for sure if you are staying or going?  -- I definitely have mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand, I love this place so much, and I feel like I've put so much effort into making it into a productive area, and now just when it seems like we're getting ready to see all of the fruits of our labors, I might be leaving.  But that being said, me being here for the results isn't really the important part.  The important part is that I was able to spend time with all of these amazing people and help bring them closer to Christ.  And even though I know that I'm going to miss this area, and it seems impossible that I'll love my next area as much as this one, I felt the same way when I left Haven. It's so weird to think about the fact that all of these people that I didn't even know 5 months ago are now such a huge part of my life that I'll have to leave soon.  But I know that the Lord will send me to wherever it is that I need to be and that I'll grow to love the people there every bit as much as the people here!

2.)  Since transfers will happen the same week that you'll get to call home for Mother's Day (yes, that's just around the corner and I'm just a tad bit excited about that!!), do you think you'll be able to give us a time to expect your call next week when you write or will things be too much in the air? Just whatever is easiest and best for you!  We can plan around it!  -- I honestly have no idea about how it's all going to work out.  I'm super excited too though! It seems like the Christmas call was just yesterday, but here we are again already! 

3.)  We've heard rumor that you have a general authority coming for an upcoming mission meeting. Do you know who it is and when is the meeting?  -- I meant to tell you guys about that last week, but it must have slipped my mind while I was emailing.  It's true! We'll have an apostle coming to visit our mission and it's going to be Elder Holland!  Everyone is so ridiculously excited to meet him and to learn from him. It's going to be a pretty big deal, and the Las Vegas West mission will be there as well, so it's going to be close to 400 missionaries that will  be there!  We're not allowed to take any recording equipment in with us like phones or iPads, but from what I understand there will be a picture taken by a professional photographer of the whole mission with Elder Holland and I'm sure that will be sent home.  We also found out that he wants to take the time to shake every missionaries hand and get to know them briefly, so that will be amazing too!

4.)  What was the best part of your week?  -- We had some really good lessons this last week!  I'll tell you about one of my favorites.  One of the lessons we had was with a woman named Anna. I'm not sure if I've told you guys much about Anna and her family.  Anna is probably in her late 50's, and she is currently the guardian for 4 of her grandchildren.  They're the ones that we had a bonfire with last week. In addition to those four kids, pretty much every other kid in Dolan Springs spends a lot of time at Anna's house and she takes care of all of them. Anna is going through some really hard times right now.  She's going through court to gain permanent custody of the kids instead of just temporary custody, and that on top of taking care of the 4 kids plus all of the other kids being around all of the time has her really stressed out. Her and her 4 kids have been working towards a baptismal date of May 7th, but it's looking like they won't make that date because Anna's been struggling with getting to church because they have no car and she's always busy with other things. The member that was out with us for the lesson, Brother Powell, is a convert to the church. He joined the church about 13 years ago, and he had a lot of the same concerns that Anna has been going through.  He shared his testimony of the way he overcame those struggles and how much the church has blessed his life since he overcame those things. The spirit in that meeting was incredible, and by the end of it, both Brother Powell and Anna were in tears.  It's such a blessing to be able to see the peace that comes from the Holy Ghost enter people's lives, and see it begin to change them.  You can literally see the change come over people, especially in their eyes.  I'm so thankful for the chance that I have to play a small part in helping other people bring that peace into their lives!

5.)  What are you looking forward to in the week ahead?  -- Definitely the visit from Elder Holland.  I know that it's going to be so amazing to actually be in the same room with a spiritual giant like him and to be able to hear the things that he's been told by the Lord to share with us!

Hey everybody!

I've already told you about a lot of the stuff I was going to write about.  I ended up writing about most everything in the Q&A my mom sent me this week.  I guess she knows the right questions to ask!

There is one really cool experience that I haven't told you about yet though!  I'm not sure if I mentioned last week, but one my responsibilities as a district leader is to interview the people that other companionships in our district have been teaching before they are baptized and make sure that they're ready.  Needless to say, it's a bit of an overwhelming responsibility! I had the chance yesterday evening to have my first baptismal interview.  I was definitely nervous about it, and spent a lot of time praying to Heavenly Father to magnify my efforts so I would be able to ask the right questions and make the right decisions to make it a spiritual experience for the person.  I was also extra nervous because this interview would be a little different than most: because of the distance between all of the areas out here and the fact that the sister's who had been teaching the person needed the girl to be interviewed soon so that she would be able to make the date that she had been preparing for, the interview had to be done over Skype! Anyways, it turns out that all of my nerves and fear were unfounded, because it ended up being one of the coolest and most spiritual experiences of my mission so far.  The girl I interviewed was 16 years old, and she just had the sweetest spirit and was so prepared and excited to be baptized.  It's really hard to explain, but being involved in the baptismal process, in this new and different way, allowed me to be able to see it in a completely new light, and was an amazing experience.  I'm so thankful for the chance that I had to interview her and to be able to feel of the spirit in the new, unique, and amazing way. 

I think that that's all I have time for this week! I love you all so much and am so grateful for all of the love, prayers, and support!  

Elder Excell 

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Desert is Blooming!!

General Conference at the Dolan Springs chapel was pretty crowded! ;)
Spring has sprung! Dolan is full of
desert flowers!
First off, Dad, I never got the chance to tell you last week because of all the craziness, but Happy Birthday!  I know it's not quite as exciting to have birthdays when you get older, but I hope you had a good one nonetheless! 

It's been another really awesome week! 

On Tuesday morning we met a lady who is really awesome! She told us that even though she wasn't a member of our church she believed almost everything that we believe. She's going through some really difficult health challenges right now, and she said she felt like we were an answer to her prayer. We had gone there on what seemed like a whim at the time, but I'm sure was the spirit! 

Then on Wednesday, we went to the temple with the Pikes! It was so great of them to take us up! It's such a blessing to be able to go to the temple and feel of the spirit there.

We also had a lesson with a family called the Gosser's. They're a really great family, and it was a really great lesson, but the most notable part of it was the ending. Someone walked into the house carrying a dead snake! We've had half the branch hunting snakes for us so that we can get snake skins. We have a member who is willing to make them into belts for us! 
A family we're teaching had a bonfire after our lesson!

Zone conference was also this week. They installed new boxes in our cars that measure our speed and other things, so it will definitely take us a little bit longer to get to Kingman from now on… haha. 

I love spring flowers in Dolan!
Also at one point, we went to a members house, to teach them a lesson and they took us out to see their animals. While we were there, the wife sensed that one of the roosters was feeling sick, and then it died suddenly in her arms! It was crazy! 

One thing I've learned recently is some callings are extended to people because they're the best person for the job.  And other callings are extended to people because it's the best calling for the person, and it's giving them a much needed chance to learn and grow. 

I love being a missionary and I absolutely love the people here! 

As always, thank you for all of your love and support! Love you all!

Elder Excell

The Pike's took us up to the temple this week!  It was so nice of them!
Q&A - 04/18/2016

1.)  I'd love to hear all about your exchange to Golden Valley! --My exchange in Golden Valley was awesome!  It was with Elder Ryder, and he's one of my really good friends out here!  We came out at the same time, and were in the same district for the first two transfers of our missions, so it was really good to see him again and catch back up on old times!  We also had some really good talks about a lot of things.  One of the big emphases in the leadership of this mission is the idea of building future leaders. It's basically the idea of, if you were to go home right now, who would you want to take your place. Is that person ready to be a leader? How can you help them to be a leader?  Elder Ryder has some doubts about whether or not he's ready for the responsibility, but we had some really good talks about it.  He has so much potential, and I was glad that I got a chance to help him see some of it!
2.)  When you go on exchanges, does Elder Aitchison stay in Dolan and work with the companion of whomever you are exchanging with?  Does that missionary stay in your trailer then and sleep in your bed and you stay in his apartment and sleep in his bed?  I don't know a whole lot about how exchanges work.  --It varies from time to time.  Sometimes the other missionary will come to our area and I'll go to theirs, and sometimes it vice versa. When I went to Golden Valley, Elder Leakehe and I swapped spots, so I slept in his bed and he slept in mine. 
3.)  When you have district meetings and other training meetings, what does Elder Aitchison do?  --For district meetings, Elder Aitchison is a part of the district, so he would be there whether I was the district leader or not.  In district meetings a lot of times I delegate things like giving trainings on certain things or reporting on certain things to other missionaries.  As far as other meetings go, like zlc (zone leadership conference)  sometimes Elder Aitchison and the other district leader's companions will go to another room and do whatever they want, or sometimes they'll sit in on the meeting. It just depends on the time. 
4.)  What is your favorite thing about serving in Dolan Springs?  --The people!  Actually, maybe the beautiful scenery...  or maybe the interesting experiences...   I just don't know!  I love it all!   This is such an amazing area, and the work in the area has been growing by leaps and bounds!  We currently have 5 different people with a baptismal date!  and many other promising prospectives!  Unfortunately, there's a very good chance that this will be my last transfer in Dolan Springs, and I'll miss out on a lot of the stuff we have coming up, but I'm just grateful for the time that I've had to serve here and meet all of these amazing people!
An outside view of our trailer. 

It's been raining in Dolan!  A LOT!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Day at Urgent Care

Sorry that this is late and short!  I only have about 20 minutes for emailing today!  

This morning we went on a short hike with the Elders from Golden Valley.  It was a lot of fun!  Unfortunately, Elder Ryder slipped on a hill and got a pretty deep gash in his leg!  He's doing fine now, but because of the fact that he wasn't really in any kind of shape to be able to drive, and his companion Elder Leakehe is from Australia and isn't allowed to drive here, Elder Aitchison and I ended up splitting up for the day so that I could drive Elder Ryder to the urgent care and Elder Aitchison could go with Elder Leakehe to take care of some errands we needed to run today.  Anyways, long story short, Elder Ryder and I spent most all of the day at the urgent care and picking up some prescriptions at the local pharmacy, so I haven't had any time to do much of anything today!  

I promise I'll catch up on writing next week, but for now, just know that I love you all and that I'm so grateful for all of your continued love and support!

Love you all!
Elder Excell

Monday, April 4, 2016

Early Mornings and Great Days

Hello to all my favorite people! 

This last week has been really good! I started out the week by going on exchanges with the zone leaders! Their area is down in Lake Havasu City, which is really beautiful! It's all built right on the side of the lake and has lots of really nice houses. 

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but one of my zone leaders right now is Elder Green! For those of you who don't remember, he was my district leader my 2nd and 3rd transfers! It's been really cool to spend time with him again! 

It's been a pretty rough week for waking up early. Because of how far apart everything is out here, sometimes it can be pretty rough. There were two separate occasions this week where I had to be awake before 5 AM to be able to make it to meetings on time! Back home, I didn't really mind waking up early that much, but it definitely changes your outlook when you realize that there won't be much chance to make up that lost sleep for the next year and a half, haha. 

As I'm sure most of you know, General Conference was amazing this weekend! For those of you reading who don't really know what General Conference is, it's the chance that we have twice a year to hear from a living modern-day prophet and apostles who can give us additional counsel meant for our day! It's such a blessing that just like the children of Israel had Moses and other prophets to give them additional guidance and help them grow closer to Heavenly Father, we also have prophets on the earth today who can help us! I'll include a few of my favorite things from some of the talks that were given over the weekend!  
  • Central to the gospel of Jesus Christ is the Father’s plan of salvation for the eternal progress of His children. That plan, explained in modern revelation, helps us understand many things we face in mortality. Opposition in the difficult circumstances we face in mortality is also part of the plan that furthers our growth in mortality. All of us experience oppositions that test us. Some of these tests are temptations to sin. Some are mortal challenges apart from personal sin. Some are very great. Some are minor. Some are continuous, and some are mere episodes. None of us is exempt. Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become. The Church in its divine mission and we in our personal lives seem to face increasing opposition today. Perhaps as the Church grows in strength and we members grow in faith and obedience, Satan increases the strength of his opposition so we will continue to have “opposition in all things.” Through all mortal opposition, we have God’s assurance that He will “consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2). We have also been taught to understand our mortal experiences and His commandments in the context of His great plan of salvation, which tells us the purpose of life and gives us the assurance of a Savior. -Dallin H. Oaks  (Note: see Q&A below for obvious reasons why this talk meant so much to him)
  • May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus.  May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. -Thomas S. Monson
I loved conference!

Mom, I like what you said about "spiritual doldrums".  There will be times on my mission where I feel like I'm doing the same good things I was doing before and still being obedient and everything, but for some reason, the experiences don't seem quite as life-changing and the spirit that I feel just isn't quite as vivid as other times.  I guess it's like you mentioned being told in your interview; it may be a test from our Heavenly Father to see if we'll still keep living the gospel the way we know we need to, even when things aren't quite as exciting.  Like Elder Holland taught us, "Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever." 

Thanks to all of you for your continued love and support! I love you all so much! 

Elder Excell

Q&A - 4/4/2016

1.) What's your plan for p-day today? I'm always curious to know what you like to do when you have free time. :) ---We're emailing at the chapel in Dolan Springs today, and then we'll probably head down to Kingman to do some shopping, and play sports with some other missionaries.  After that we're going to be going on exchanges, so I'll be going to Golden Valley until wednesday when we exchange back at district council.

2.)  Do you have as many dinners with members in this area as you did in Haven or do you cook for yourself a lot? What is your favorite meal to cook?  ---We still eat with members just about every night.  There are lots of families out here that feed the missionaries every week!  We have dinner with the Clausi's every Sunday, dinner with the Sander's every Tuesday, and dinner with the Pike's every Wednesday.  The member's here take very good care of us!

3.)  Did you watch all the sessions of conference at the church or did you watch any with members in their homes? Did you end up having any investigators that wanted to watch with you?  ---We watched all of conference at the Dolan Chapel.  We did have a lady that we're teaching show up! It was actually a pretty big miracle!  She's been struggling with life a lot lately, and one of the big things that she's having a hard time understanding is, why, if God loves us so much, why is he making her go through so many trials. She showed up to the Sunday afternoon session of conference a little late, but came in just in time to hear Elder Oak's talk that was all about the purpose of opposition in our lives! That, combined with the other amazing talks from that afternoon, really made a difference for her!