Monday, August 29, 2016

The Work is Moving Forward Like a Flash Flood

Hey everybody!

I'll start off this letter by talking about the craziness that happened Monday night last week. After P-day was over, and we went back out to proselyte, we got a ton of rain! There was a pretty major flash flood that happened in North Las Vegas as a result of it! It was definitely an adventure! I'll try to send some videos. Elder Branning and I had an interesting time trying to make sure that the rest of the zone was all safe.
Flash flood in North Las Vegas
Our gate was broken after the storm.  It literally got bent open by the water flow.
We had a couple of big breakthroughs this week with some of our investigators! One of them, I've already told you about in the Q&A section. The part member family that we are working with is named the Eddie and Melinda. In addition to them coming to church for the first time in over three decades, we had another exciting thing happen with them this week! We've been having a hard time meeting with Melinda lately, because she's been sick. But we've still been meeting with Eddie pretty consistently. And this last week we were able to catch both of them! We had plans to go over the family proclamation with Eddie, and it just so happened that Melinda was able to sit in as well. We were a little nervous about this at first, because the two of them are not currently married, and there is a lot of stuff in the family proclamation about the importance of being married. But over the course of reading it, we actually had a really cool experience! By the end of it, Melinda and Eddie were asking if we would marry them, if they would and could be sealed in the temple, and were very excited to come to church! We've planned a tour of the temple grounds with them for this week, and they are very excited about it.

We also had another miracle with a different part member family. The names of these two are Eric and Eva. This was the first chance that we had had to meet with them, and they are both fairly new to the ward. They have only been living here for about a month. Eric has been a member for about four years, and Eva has never expressed any interest before in going to church but since she has met Eric and they have moved in together, she has been very interested. The meeting we had this last week was one of the first ones that we've been able to have with them, and we were just expecting a pretty standard first visit. We didn't have much time with them, so we decided to just read from the Book of Mormon with them. We read a story about when Christ visited the Americas and blessed the children. By halfway through it, Eva was in tears and the spirit was incredibly strong! We invited her to be baptized and she accepted!

We have two baptisms coming up this weekend. One of them is in this area, and her name is Jaden. She's a 12-year-old girl, whose family are members who are looking to get back into the church. It is been very cool working with them! The other baptism is in Dolan Springs! It's going to be hard to get down there, but I'm hoping that I will be able to make it! The name of the investigator is Betty. She was one mine and Elder Aitchison's favorite investigators, and she is being baptized this weekend! She asked Elder Aitchison and I to do the baptism and confirmation!

It’s been a great week, but that’s all I have time for today.  Know that I love you all! Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Excell

Exchanges with Elder Butcher.  He was one of my old district leaders who went home last week.

Q&A - 8/29/2016

1.)  Are you feeling any better about things this week? Being a leader is hard sometimes!  --  I'm feeling lots better. We were able to sort out a lot of the problems really quickly. It was mostly just that day that was stressful. I got some really good advice from President Snow in his email to me, and some equally good advice from dad!

2.) How was your time with the AP's? --  It was really great! I was with Elder Seranilla in the APs area. They work in YSA ward, so that was different but exciting. Elder Seranilla also served in Dolan Springs, so we had a lot of good conversations about that. We also had a lot of good conversations about how the work is going in the zone as well as in the mission!

3.) What do you have in common with Elder Branning? What is your favorite thing about him? – We both love to sing, we both have a very similar sense of humor, and we enjoy a lot of the same things. Elder Branning is very smart, a great leader, and hilarious. He does some great impressions! I'll try to send a video of him at the talent show we held at the Christmas conference on last year.

4.) What happened this past week that you consider a success? -- We had a great couple, that we've been working with, come to church this last week. The husband has been less active and hasn't come to church in over three decades, and his wife is not a member. They came to church, and really loved their experience there! For many years, he was on the do not contact list. We just happened upon him and his family one day, and the ward has been amazed with the progress they've been making! We've definitely been very blessed to get to know the family!

Flash Flood in North Las Vegas from Traci Excell on Vimeo.

Monday, August 22, 2016

We Love Member Missionaries!

I have almost no time today to write! This is starting to seem like a
pattern since I've been a zone leader. It's funny, because I feel like
I'm doing more than ever, but I have less time to tell you guys about

One cool experience this last week is that on Sunday we were
planning to try to give a Book of Mormon out in priesthood meeting for
someone to give to a friend and have them report back on how the
experience went. After we explained the challenge, we asked who wanted
to volunteer this week. I've tried this in the past, and usually it's
kindof a struggle to get people to volunteer. When we asked this time,
we had tons of volunteers! So many that we had to go out to our car
and grab a nearly full box of BoMs. We gave out the whole thing to
people to give to their friends! That's almost 40 copies of the Book
of Mormon! This is a great ward that's very missionary minded. The
bishop especially likes us. His name is Bishop Nelson, and for some
reason, he loves us way more than any previous missionaries. He's a
great guy! 

Sorry for the short letter this week! Love you all!
Elder Excell

Q&A -- 8/22/2016

1.) Did you get your car fixed? How long did you have to go without? -- It's fixed. We were only without for about 24 hours, and most of that was p-day. 

2.) When is your next zone conference? How often do you have them? Does a zone leader have additional responsibilities during zone conferences? I would guess so, but I just honestly don't know very much about how mission leadership works. -- We have zone conference every 3 months. And every 6 weeks that's not a zone conference is interviews with the mission president where we receive training as a zone also. And about once a month we hold a ZTC (zone training conference) where just the zone leaders and sister training leaders give training to the zone.

3.) What are you most looking forward to in the week ahead? -- We have exchanges with the AP's! It'll be my first exchange with the them, and it should be really cool.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What a Difference the Book of Mormon Makes

Today has been a pretty crazy p-day! There was something wrong with
our car, so we had to take it in today, and it turns out that they
won't be getting it back to us until tomorrow! So we had to catch a
shuttle for the 45 minute drive back to our area, and we'll be doing
some interesting things to get around until we can get it back, haha.
But the work must go on!

Although it was a good week overall, the weekend was definitely pretty
tough. We had a lot of people that we were planning on having at
church on Sunday, but when we started making calls on Saturday night
to confirm with people, they started dropping like flies. It was a
pretty frustrating night. We made this video clip to demonstrate.

Frustrations from Traci Excell on Vimeo.

And on top of that, we learned that one of our most solid investigators, who had a baptismal date for next week, has had some things come up that are going to force us to push his date way back. I can't really say much about why, but suffice it to say we had a frustrating evening Sunday. 

But other than that, we had a pretty good week! I'm still loving it here in north! We had a very spiritual lesson with some investigators named Trevor and Katrina this week! One of the things that made it so spiritual is the fact that Katrina took the time to read the Book of Mormon before we came. It may sound like a really simple thing, but it amazes me how much of a difference it makes! Previously she hadn't really been very interested in our message, but as she exercised faith in Moroni's promise at the end of the book, her heart was softened and she invited the spirit into her life! Now she has a baptismal date of September 17! 

I don't have too much time today, thanks to our long trip to the Toyota dealership, but know that I love you all! 

Elder Excell 

Celebrating Hump Day by disposing of a ratty tie and well-worn shirt! Before and After!
Q&A - 8/15/2016
1.) Are you starting to feel a little more comfortable in your position as zone leader? Do you feel like you have enough hours in the day to do it all? -- I'm starting to feel a little more on top of things. I'm definitely learning a lot about time management.

2.) Do the members in your new area keep you pretty well supplied with dinner appointments? --  The members in Sunrise Terrace are great, just like everywhere else in Vegas! We have dinner provided for us almost every night.

3.) Do you have laundry facilities in your new apartment or do you have to go to a laundry mat? -- We have our own washer and dryer.

4.) Is the "ghetto" a term of affection that the missionaries use to describe your area, or do the people living there refer to it that way as well? Or, is it kind of like "old town" Pocatello and just a way to refer to an area of the city? -- I guess it's partly an affectionate missionary term, but it's also used by the locals pretty frequently. I guess the best alternative word I can use to describe it is sketchy. We definitely spend a lot of time in places I probably wouldn't have before my mission, haha.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Loving the North Zone

Hey everybody!

It's been a really good week this week! Elder Branning and I have been loving the north zone! There are just so many humble people here who are prepared to hear the gospel. 
Elder Branning and I with Sister Snow at interviews last week!
Holding kittens at a members home.
One of our favorite investigators is named Michael. He's 15, and he's the best. He's had a really rough life growing up, and always talks about how a year ago, if you asked him where he thought he would be in 10 years, he probably would have told you, "6 feet under with a gun in his hand." He was involved in a lot of gang violence all through his young years. But this Sunday in sacrament meeting, he stood up and shared an amazing testimony about how he's been able to change through Christ. He's going it be baptized on the 20th of August! 

We also have several other baptisms lined up! There's a couple named the Lacey's. The wife is a less active member who is about to have a baby, and the husband is going to be baptized on the 27th of August! He's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He likes to find stuff in junkyards and on the side of the road, and bring them home. And then he just gives it away! And he finds some really nice stuff! Like this suit jacket! He offered, and I was tempted, but decided I wouldn't have much use for it, haha.

There's lots of other people that are doing really well, but I only have so much time. Before I close though, I've been studying a conference talk this week that has had a huge impact on me. It's from President Uchtdorf, and it's called "On Being Genuine."  If you have some time, I highly recommend it.

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

Apartment Pictures - (After a GREAT deal of cleaning today.
It was a little dirty when we got here.)
Q&A - 8/8/2016

1.) As a zone leader, are you the one that now travels to the mission office to get everyone's mail and packages to deliver to them? I've never been real sure just how your mail delivery system works in the mission. -- I am now in charge of the mail! It definitely takes some time out of our p day, but someone has to do it, and I'm glad of the chance to serve!

2.) What is the best thing about your new area? -- I've always wanted to serve in the ghetto, and now I am! There's just so many funny things that happen every day and the people are so humble.

3.) How do p-days in this area differ from other areas you've served in? -- One interesting thing is that our zone only covers one stake. Normally, only half of the zone comes together for pday sports, but because it's all one stake, the whole zone gets together for sports!  Also, now that I'm a zone leader, we have a weekly meeting with us and the sister training leaders for he zone to discuss things. Also, the mail! Other than that, it's pretty much the same.

4.) Did you celebrate your year mark in any particular way this past week? How? -- I haven't yet, but I'm planning to burn a shirt soon! And I also missed out on burning my tie at 6 months, so I figure I'll do both together!

5.) Do you feel that your new area is safe or are you ever nervous when you walk around? Honest, please. Don't give me the "protecting mom" answer!  I really would like to know. I know that you're being smart and will be protected, I just wonder if you feel a difference between this area and others you've served in. -- I feel very safe! There are definitely sketchy parts, but everyone really respects the missionaries for the most part.
A book written by one of our members. I thought certain people might find it interesting!
Especially the mention of a certain Max Excell!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Not Enough Hours in a Day

Hey everybody! 

I'm loving it up in number one north! That's what we've been calling the north zone! It's really great up here! 

This weeks letter will have to be really short, because it's been so crazy! Hopefully next week will be better. 

I love the new ward! The members are great. We've already received some great support from them! 

Our apartment is definitely a little run down, but not too bad! We did come in after the double transfer with very little food though, haha. The cookies I received in my package last week became a staple food item! Thanks Ma!  It's all better now that we've had a chance to shop though. 

We have a lot of great investigators, and a lot of baptisms that should be coming up soon! 

Sorry this is so short! I love you all, and hope that you're doing well!
Elder Excell

Q&A - 08/01/2016
1.) Excited to hear about your new area!  -- I love my new area! It's definitely different from Green Valley! It's very poor, and for the first time in my life, I'm a minority! It's very heavily populated by African Americans and Hispanics. And it's pretty ghetto! There are lots of humble people here though! 

2.) What are your responsibilities as a zone leader? --There are a lot of them! Just so far this last week I've had
several zone leadership meetings, been to a stake level council to
plan a missionary family history event, attended 3 different district
councils, put lots of thought, discussion, follow up with the district
leaders, etc. into what the zone needs to be successful, and more!
Life's crazy! Even pday! We've had a bunch of extra stuff to do
today, hence the short letter, but hopefully it will be better next

3.) With these new responsibilities, do you find the time to teach near as much as you have before?  -- We still find time to teach! We just have to be really effective
with our time. Even though this last week was crazy with the double
transfer, we still taught 11 member present lessons, 17 other lessons,
and found 10 new investigators! We stay really busy! 

4.) Do you still have a car to drive? -- We still have a car. 

5.) Do you use your bike very much anymore? Are you able to store it inside your apartment to keep it safe? -- Not really, but you never know when I'll be sent back to a biking area! 

6.) What is your favorite thing about your new companion? -- Lots of things! He's really funny, does great impressions, is a
great missionary, and has already taught me a ton! I'm so happy to be
with him!
Hey Pops! I just noticed that our apartment has a Raiders toaster 
that makes Raiders Toast! It make me think of you!
Look how good Elder Excell is at making "donkey" eggs! He's learning to cook like a pro!