Monday, June 27, 2016

Feeling Transient

Zone Training Conference - #PlanB
This week has been pretty crazy! For starters, it's been HOT! I'm pretty sure that the daily high hasn't been below 110 all week! And the daily low has been in the 90's! Suffice it to say, it's definitely summer in Vegas again. But the heat doesn't stop the missionaries in the Nevada Las Vegas mission! Some of you have asked me if there are any guidelines on when our mission president says it's too hot to go out and work. After asking around, basically what I've heard is there's not really a set temperature. The guideline is basically that if one of you starts to get lightheaded or dizzy, you're supposed to take a 1/2 hour break, drink a lot of water, and then get back at it. Luckily though, the heat does seem like it's going to let up this week, and the daily high's will almost all be below 110. Which (it's kind of sad that this is now true for me) isn't that bad!

So, I don't know if I mentioned this last week, but a large majority of one of our wards is made up of students who attend a medical school located within our ward boundaries. This means that a large percentage of the people in our ward are young married couples who have a kid who is under 2 years old. This has definitely been kind of weird for me, haha. It's really bizarre to see so many people who are pretty much where I'll be in the not too distant future. It has done one thing for me though! It's made me really excited for when I get home. Not for the reason you're thinking though, haha. I'm just really excited for the chance I'll have to serve in a calling back home and really do everything I can in it. I meet so many people who are such great members of the church and really magnify their callings, that it makes me excited to do the same when I get home. I also think that a part of it is I feel really transient right now. Especially after making so many close relationships in Dolan and then being uprooted. I see all of the people in the ward who have such close relationships with each other and it's hard to think that I won't really have the permanency that allows relationships like that with other people for quite a while.  Pretty much everything just comes and goes every couple of months for now!
Elder Leakehe & Elder Excell -- Looking cool, feeling hot!
Kind of a unique thing about the area I'm in right now, is that we cover two different wards that meet in two different buildings at the same time. Normally if you serve in two wards, you go to church twice on Sunday and go to both wards, but that's not really an option for us. So what we have to do is we go on splits with our ward mission leaders and we each go to a different ward. It's definitely weird!

Another crazy thing that happened this last week is that a young man in one of the wards we're covering passed away. It's been amazing to see how the ward really wrapped their arms around the family. He was 19, and although he was kind of sick, it was really unexpected. I happened to be in the ward of the family that had their son pass away yesterday, and it was an interesting experience. It was a very spiritual, love-filled, and personal sacrament meeting. Being so new to the ward, I almost felt kind of like a stranger intruding on an intimate family moment.

Elder Leakehe

Last night, Elder Leakehe randomly got really sick! We're still not positive what it was. He basically had kind of a fit where he couldn't see for a while and was shaking. We think it might be an ear infection he had before the mission resurfacing. He's ok now though! It ended pretty quickly, and then he just had a bad migraine. He was ordered onto bed rest by Sister Snow for the rest of the night, and after a lot of sleep, he felt much better. Anyways, as a result of us having to stay in last night, our apartment is now VERY clean, I'm all the way caught up on my journal, and I even had some time to knit!

Anyways, this has been a pretty scattered letter with lots of stuff in it, so hopefully it made sense! I love you all very much and hope that you're all doing well! Have a blessed week!

Elder Excell

Q&A - 06/27/16
1.) Next Monday is the 4th of July. Does this mean that your p-day will change to a different day or stay the same? --Still on the same day. I think there's going to be something happening, but I don't know what yet.

2.) Picture requests: apartment inside and out, picture of you and your companion together, and whatever else you want to send me!! :) --I'll try! 
3.) What is the best thing about your new area? --I'd have to say the thing I'm grateful for most often is that we're not on bikes! ;) 

4.) How far away from the mission office are you now? How often do you go there? --We're pretty close, but it's not in our zone, so we don't really ever go there.

Monday, June 20, 2016

New, New, New

Hey everybody!

Well, my new area couldn't be more different from the old one, but I still love it! Dolan had older people, Green Valley has 20 year old newlyweds going to medical school. (That actually makes up a big part of one of our wards.) Dolan was pretty poor, this area is super rich. Dolan was a small branch, now we're covering two huge wards. The list goes on and on! 

We had a crazy thing happen this last week! The sisters in our district were in a car accident! They're both ok. They hit a curb going pretty quickly, and their tire burst. Then they tried to put the spare on, and didn't quite get the e-brake set, so once they had the tire off, the car rolled off the jack. This meant that Elder Leakehe and I came to the rescue! Thankfully, I now have a really big Polynesian companion who could lift the car while I put the jack back under! We got it all sorted eventually, and everyone came out of it ok. 

Well, that's about all I have time for this week - still trying to get settled in a new area, but I love you all!

Elder Excell

Q&A - 06/20/2016
1.) How is the heat in your new area affecting you? -- I'm definitely sweating plenty. Thankfully we have a car, so I think I'll survive! 

2.) Are you back to riding a bike? -- Car! 

3.) Tell us about your new companion.  -- Elder Leakehe (lay-a-Kay-hay) is awesome! He's a really hard worker, is happy all the time, is really funny, and is really good at beat-boxing! 

4.) How many wards are you assigned to work with? -- We cover the Castleridge and Shadow Canyon wards.

5.) We'd love to see pictures of your new apartment and hear all about it. -- We live in Henderson, so it's all really posh! Especially compared to Dolan Springs. I'll try to send some pics for next week.

6.) How are you feeling about your new area? -- I really love my new area! Obviously I'm not going to love it in the same way that I loved Dolan Springs on my first week here, but I think I might someday if I'm here for a while. The members are really awesome! And there's so many of them! Henderson is about the same member density as Idaho and Utah. There are lots of awesome people in this area too! We already found 10 new investigators just this week, and one of them is super golden and going to be baptized on July 16th!  His name is Malik.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Saying Farewell to the People I've Grown to Love

So today's letter is going to be a little different.  I'll explain why in a minute.  First off, news about transfers!

It turns out that we guessed right, I'll be leaving Dolan Springs early tomorrow morning.  I definitely have some mixed feelings about it.  I do really love Dolan Springs and there are a lot of people that I will really miss.  There were a lot of hard goodbyes this weekend.  After being in a small town with a small branch for so long, it's started to feel like I'm really a part of the town, like there are some real relationships that have formed, and I know that it probably won't happen quite that same way in any other area that I go to. I'm sure that I'll meet new people that I love and care for, and that I'll love my new area, but I don't know if there's another place in this mission quite like Dolan Springs.  

That being said, I'm super excited for my new assignment!  I'll be serving in the Green Valley Stake in Henderson!  And my new comp will be an elder that I served around a lot while I was out here in Dolan: Elder Leakehe! He's a really cool guy, so I'm really excited!  And Elder Aitchison will be training someone in Dolan Springs!  He's going to do an awesome job with it! 

So now I'll explain about why this is a weird letter.  The letter itself will be pretty short, because I've got a lot of pictures over the last few days, and I've decided I'm going to send them all with descriptions of the people and hopefully a few good stories with each!  We'll see how it goes.  

For now, just know that I love you all!  

Elder Excell

This is Randy Warner!  I think I've mentioned him before.
He loves drum corps and boards dogs.
The Winningham family.  One of our favorite less active families we
worked with.  They've been coming to church lately which is awesome!
This is Brother and Sister Stevens.  Everyone just calls him Grizz though!
--The Lei's were given to me by a Hawaiian member of the branch
to bid me farewell!
This is Brother Ford!  He went out with us all the time and would always
drive us everywhere.  One time he was out with us for almost 8 hours!
The Pikes and their grandkids.  Hailey is the little girl on the left who
was baptized recently!
Ray and Sandy, the desert nomads I mentioned several months ago!
Betty.  One of our favorite investigators.
The Saccomanno's.  They're the only young couple in our branch.
The Miller's.  She always called me "extra large" (for XL - Ex-cell) - :)
She was kind of like my adopted grandma!  :)
The Clausi's.  They fed us dinner every single Sunday!
The Nelson Family.  The mom, on the left, and the son are
getting baptized this Friday!

The Larsen's
Vinny, Annika, Serenity, and Brandin.  They are some kids we've been teaching!
They're awesome!
The Stafford's.  They were one of my favorite families!  Brother Stafford has done everything.
From Paramedic to Radio Host to Roadie for Aerosmith.  He's awesome!
The Sanders.  They fed us dinner every Tuesday!  He was our branch mission leader.
The Barker's, the Petersen's and the Kindl's.  Julie was baptized a few months ago!
The Gosser's and the Sanders.  Probably my favorite family of investigators ever!
I will definitely come back and visit these guys eventually!

Q&A - 6/13/2016
1.)  Are you staying cool in the summer heat?  --Doing my best to stay cool! Dolan Springs is actually one of the coolest areas in the mission because it has a higher elevation, but It looks like I'll be moving back to Vegas where it's about 10 degrees hotter on average than it is in Dolan.  Also, I've heard from a few people that Vegas actually pays off the weather companies to lie about the temperature being lower than it really is in Las Vegas so it doesn't deter tourists.  It definitely sounds like a conspiracy theory, but I think it might be accurate.  I need to find myself a good way to measure the heat for myself I guess! 

2.)  What are you most looking forward to in the week ahead?  --The new area!

3.)  How will you be spending what may be your last p-day in Dolan?  --The usual mostly.  We'll go to Kingman for the last time and probably visit a few more people in the evening!

P.S.  It's good to hear that you guys are trying to dwell on the positive about selling the house.  That really is the most important!  One of the most important Christ-like attributes is faith, but I remember hearing Jeffrey R Holland say that if you can't manage faith, then hope is the next best thing. There's a lot of power in hope.  Just think of the man who told Christ, "Lord I believe, Help thou my unbelief."  Keep working at it. Know that I love you and that I think you're amazing!  Thanks for everything! 
Love you!
Some hummingbird feeders that one of our investigators makes.  She makes them all
from raw materials!  They are really cool!

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Names On My Chest

Hey everybody!

This last week has been a good one! We had a cool experience on Saturday! We heard from some other missionaries that an investigator that Elder Aitchison and I taught for several weeks and set with a baptismal date who moved to Vegas before that date got baptized this Saturday! We were able to skype into the baptism so that we could watch! It was really cool to be able to see him make that step and the spirit of the meeting was amazing, even through Skype.

I've been putting s lot of thought into a certain scripture this last week or two. Helaman 5:6-7.
  • 6 Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.
  • 7 Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.
This is the prophet Helaman speaking to his sons Nephi and Lehi. He named them both after some of their ancestors who were great prophets. And like it says in the scripture, he did so in hopes that they would live up to their example. There's a story that's told by one of our modern day prophets, George Albert Smith that I like…

“One day … I lost consciousness of my surroundings and thought I had passed to the Other Side. I found myself standing with my back to a large and beautiful lake, facing a great forest of trees. …

“I began to explore, and soon I found a trail through the woods which seemed to have been used very little, and which was almost obscured by grass. I followed this trail, and after I had walked for some time and had traveled a considerable distance through the forest, I saw a man coming towards me. I became aware that he was a very large man, and I hurried my steps to reach him, because I recognized him as my grandfather. In mortality he weighed over three hundred pounds, so you may know he was a large man. I remember how happy I was to see him coming. I had been given his name and had always been proud of it.

“When Grandfather came within a few feet of me, he stopped. His stopping was an invitation for me to stop. Then--and this I would like the boys and girls and young people never to forget--he looked at me very earnestly and said:

“‘I would like to know what you have done with my name.’

“Everything I had ever done passed before me as though it were a flying picture on a screen--everything I had done. Quickly this vivid retrospect came down to the very time I was standing there. My whole life had passed before me. I smiled and looked at my grandfather and said:

“‘I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.’

“He stepped forward and took me in his arms, and as he did so, I became conscious again of my earthly surroundings. My pillow was as wet as though water had been poured on it--wet with tears of gratitude that I could answer unashamed.

“I have thought of this many times, and I want to tell you that I have been trying, more than ever since that time, to take care of that name. So I want to say to the boys and girls, to the young men and women, to the youth of the Church and of all the world: Honor your fathers and your mothers. Honor the names that you bear, because some day you will have the privilege and the obligation of reporting to them (and to your Father in heaven) what you have done with their name” (“Your Good Name,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1947, 139).

A mission is a very unique opportunity. It's one of the few times in life where I'll have a chance to bear my family name on my chest every day, and I hope that I'll be able to answer like President Smith, that I can be proud of the things I've done with that name. And there's another name that I have a chance to wear on my chest every day on a mission. The name of Jesus Christ. And although the name on my chest might be a little more obvious than on some others, all Christians bear the name of Jesus Christ. I hope that I, and everyone else, can live worthy of the name of Jesus Christ that we bear and take upon ourselves at baptism, so that at the end of our lives, we can answer unashamed, "I have done nothing with your name of which you need be ashamed."

I love you all! Thanks for all of your support!
Elder Excell

Q&A - 6/6/2016
1.) We are starting to get down to the wire on upcoming transfers. Should I send your shirts and whatever else from this point to the mission home just to be safe? Or will your Dolan address still be a safe bet for awhile longer? --Probably better send stuff to the Mission Home address.

2.) Speaking of transfers, what is your gut telling you this time? Any guesses?  --I'm guessing that I'll leave, but that's what I though last time, and here I am, so who knows!

3.) Do many people from Dolan, that you'd like to stay in contact with in the future, have Facebook or will you need to find other options to stay in touch?  --Some have Facebook, some I'll have to get emails, some don't have emails, and some don't have cell phones, haha. It will be interesting to stay in touch with some of them!

4.) You've been serving as a missionary now for ten months! Does that seem crazy to you??  --It does!!