Monday, May 2, 2016

Unexpected News for Transfer Week!!

This week has been absolutely crazy!  We'll start with the thing that everyone has been asking about: Transfers!  Well, Elder Aitchison and I received some pretty unexpected news on Saturday morning: WE'RE BOTH STAYING!!!  We're both super excited about it!  Elder Aitchison has definitely been one of my favorite companions I've had so far and I'm super excited to get the chance to serve with him for another transfer!  We have some big plans for the coming transfer, and hopefully several baptisms! It was definitely a pretty big surprise for both of us. So much so in fact that I had already told a couple of members that I was probably going to be leaving and started getting some pictures with people. Oops! Guess that's what I get for assuming! There are a couple reasons that we were so surprised. The first one is that by the end of this next transfer, I'll have been in Dolan Springs for 6 months!  Although it's not unheard of for people in other areas to stay for 4 transfers, or even as long as 5 transfers in some extreme cases, it's been unheard of in Dolan Springs for at least the last year or two!  Also, it will mean that Elder Aitchison and I will be staying together for 3 transfers, which is the longest We've ever heard of a companionship staying together! Normally president doesn't keep companionships together for more than 2 transfers. We figure either we're doing something really good, or we're doing something wrong and still have stuff left to learn! haha.  

Now onto how crazy this week has been!  It was crazy for a couple of different reasons.  On Wednesday, Elder Aitchison and I drove to district council and afterwards we exchanged with the Golden Valley Elders, Elder Ryder and Elder Leakehe.  Elder Ryder and I stayed in Dolan Springs and had a really productive couple of days, and then on Thursday night, Elder Leakehe and Elder Aitchison came up to Dolan.  The Golden Valley Elders spent the night on Thursday, because we all had to drive up to Vegas the next day anyways for the big multi-mission conference. Then Friday morning, we all drove up to Vegas for a visit from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Lynn G. Robbins!  That was so amazing! (More on that in a minute)  Then after the mission conference was over, the four of us drove all the way down to Kingman to be briefed on a mini-mission that the Kingman stake was putting on the next day.  For those of you who haven't heard of them before, basically what a mini-mission is is a chance for the youth go out on splits with the full-time missionaries for the whole day and get a feel for what  a mission is like.  They do everything from waking up at 6:30 and coming to the stake center to have personal and companionship study with us to proselyting with us for the whole day. So on top of all the other craziness of the week, I didn't really even see Elder Aitchison all of Saturday because we were on splits the whole day!  Then we drove back down to Kingman that evening to be there for a closing testimony meeting for the mini-mission.  It was only the youth that bore their testimonies, but it was so cool to hear how spiritual these young people are!  

Elder Holland was amazing!  I empathize a lot with the Nephites in two different ways after his visit.  Both are from 3 Nephi 17.  The first is from verse 5.  -- "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them."   I definitely feel the same way the the Nephites did. After having such profound spiritual experiences with someone who was so in tune with the spirit, I was hoping that it would last a little longer than the 2 hours that it did. 

I also empathize with verse 17.  -- "And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father."  It's so difficult to put into words today the amazing things that the Nephites heard, even though it was obviously one of the most incredibly spiritual experiences they had ever had.  I feel the same way. It seems like anything that I say to try to sum up his words just won't be the same.  Suffice it to say that it was an amazing spiritual experience that has changed the way that I look at missionary work and life in a lot of ways.  

Like I said at the beginning, It's been a crazy week!  I'm so grateful for all of the love and support that you all give me, and also all of the prayers!  I love you all very much, and just want you to know that I'm so grateful for this opportunity that I have to be out here serving the Lord in this unique once in a lifetime way!

Elder Excell

Q&A - 5/2/2016 (and a few other random thoughts) :) 

Dad wants to know: How have you been doing with your new tracker in the truck? I wondered if it would go off with some of the rough roads you guys have to go on. Does a major pot hole bounce throw it off?  --The tracker hasn't been too bad.  We were pretty worried that it would be really fussy with all of the rough roads, but the people say that they calibrate it for individual areas, and it seems like whoever calibrated it had been through Dolan before and knew what it was like!  The box actually doesn't recognize a lot of the roads that we go on as roads either, so it isn't too terribly strict about the speed limit in certain places.

Also, I really liked what Dad said about his lesson in High Priests.  (My high priest quorum meeting yesterday was awesome. Evan Harrison taught and it was on Elder Bednar's talk from October about the teachings of the prophets and apostles who had recently passed away. Very cool lesson. Very cool talk.)  That was a really good talk. And Evan Harrison is pretty awesome too! I'll always remember him quoting the story about the kids making fun of Elisha for being bald, and Elisha sending the she bears after them, haha.  (2 Kings 2:24) That didn't keep us neighborhood kids from giving him grief though. ;) 

Dad also mentioned that he's already mowing the lawn and that you must have gotten too much fertilizer on it last fall because it was nearly a foot tall and took him forever to mow.  Well, it might surprise you to hear that I actually really wish I could have been there to cut the grass, haha!  Me and Elder Aitchison were talking just the other day about how we miss mowing the lawn and the smell of grass.  Green grass is something that's definitely in short supply out here! I'd love to have you send me a picture of our house with the green grass!

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