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!

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