Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Santa Snow and his Reindeer!
(aka STL's - Sister Erickson & Sister Underly,
and AP's Elder Excell & Elder Wightman)
Hey everyone!

Another great week in the mission field! This last week, we had Christmas conferences here in the mission! We had 3 different conferences: one for the southern part of Vegas, one for the northern part of Vegas, and one for the people out-of-valley! It's been so cool to go around the mission and see all of the missionaries! (I'll include some pictures of me with some past companions.)  The conferences have been great! The basic lineup has been that we start with some announcements and videos from the office staff. Then after that, Sister Snow talks about the birth of the Savior. We then give a training centered around the life and example of Jesus Christ. Each of the zone leadership teams for each zone then give training about one of Christ’s miracles, and how ideas from it can be applied to missionary work. Then, President Snow trains on the death, resurrection, and legacy of Jesus Christ. There have been some really cool spiritual experiences during these conferences! This is the Snow's last Christmas conference in the mission, so it's been pretty emotional for them as well. After all of the trainings have been given, we have lunch (provided by the stake relief society of whatever stake we happen to be in), then a talent show, and then President dresses up like Santa Claus and takes pictures with everyone! There have been some great talents over the last few days! Some are really talented, and some, their talent is just to make people laugh, but they're all great! This year, President added a little something extra to his Santa Claus routine. We spent some time Monday night building a sleigh out of cardboard and wrapping paper. Every year, Sister Snow plays some Christmas carols on the piano, and everyone sings them before President comes in. This year he made his entrance by sleigh! We got to be the reindeer! (Hence the antlers with all the pics of past comps, haha). It's been a lot of fun!
Elder Dixon
Elder Andersen
Elder Aitchison
Elder Branning
Elder Tupou
One unique thing about doing zone conferences is that we give the same training multiple times throughout the mission. It’s been kind of cool, because it's given the message a chance to really sink in with me. In our training, we've been talking about the reasons that Christ did what he did. Everything that Christ did, he did because he loved other people. And every aspect of Christ's life was centered around others. He never had a selfish thought, even at times in his life when it would have been so easy to do so. I think we all have times in our lives when we're hurt or upset or something else, and we want nothing more than to focus on ourselves. It's our natural reaction to those circumstances. But in Christ's life, even when things were most difficult for him, he chose to turn outwards and serve others. As I've pondered on this, it's given me an increased desire to serve others and do so out of love for them! I'm so grateful for the opportunity that this mission has been for me to be able to focus completely on serving others! I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ and his selfless example, especially at this time of year. So this Christmas season, take the opportunity to go out and serve someone! It's an easy time of year to get absorbed into all of the different things that you have to do, but I promise, as we focus on others instead, it will bring us so much happiness!

I love you all so much! Merry Christmas!
Elder Excell

Building Santa's Sleigh
Video of Santa's big entrance pulled by his 4 new reindeer:

Santa Snow from Traci Excell on Vimeo.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Staying Busy, Staying Happy

Elder Wightman and Elder Excell
Hey everybody!

This last week has been great! There were a couple of things that happened that were pretty cool.

For one, in one of our exchanges last week, we exchanged with the Elders in the Kingman/Lake Havasu zone! This meant that I got to go back out-of-valley for a day to Lake Havasu City. A lot of the exchange was just drive time, but it was still really great. And best of all, the half way meeting point that we chose to meet at was Dolan Springs! It brought back so many memories to be able to revisit that place. I was almost on the verge of tears the whole time! I love Dolan Springs so much, value the time that I spent there so much, and can't wait for a chance to take friends and family with me some day to go and visit it! 

The other cool thing that happened this week is I had my first MLC as an assistant. It went really well! It was a shorter MLC than usual, and the main focus was presenting the 2017 mission vision to the mission leadership. We've been putting a lot of time into coming up with the 2017 mission vision, and it was cool to see everyone's reactions to it! I'm excited for the chance to work towards it! I won't mention it in this letter, because it's technically still top secret and hasn't been fully announced yet. Wouldn't want it getting leaked, haha.

In answer to some of your questions about Elder Wightman, he's from Rexburg, he came straight out of high school, he did a lot of track and field, he loves peanut butter, and he's one of the happiest people I know! He's always smiling, haha. Because of our assignment, he's really serious a lot of the time, but he's actually a huge goofball, so we get along great!
Mission Office
I've been really loving my time in the office! We have a lot on our plates, and we stay super busy, but we've still got time to proselyte, and we still find and teach a lot! This last week we revised the mileage budgets for the whole mission, went on two exchanges, prepared for and had MLC, had several meetings with President Snow about different things, and still had time for a bunch of Christmas miracles!

One of my favorites from this last week was finding Jaeleen. As you know, we're in a YSA ward, and sometimes it can be hard to find YSA investigators. We had an awesome miracle though! We were on our way to an appointment, and saw an older lady getting in her car. We stopped her quickly and asked if she would like missionaries to come by sometime. She said she was busy right now, but that we should go talk to her daughter. She told her daughter to come outside, and she ended up being YSA age and really interested! Now she'll be at church this Sunday! It was so cool because talking to someone, who we could have easily let drive away because they were in a hurry and not YSA age, led us to an amazing new investigator!

Well, that's all the time I have for today. Love you all!

Elder Excell

Our Apartment

Monday, December 5, 2016

Working Hard and Loving It

Hey Ma and Pops!

I've got just a little while to write, so I figured I'd better sieze the opportunity!

This last week has been crazy!  I’ll tell you about the first part of the week just to try to give you an idea of what's gone on. The first week of the transfer is always extra crazy for the AP’s so we’ve been running non-stop. Every Monday morning, we have a meeting with President and Sister Snow, as well as the Mission Sister Training Leaders. (One of the MSTL's is Camry Erickson from Pocatello!) We discuss the state of the mission for a few hours, and then President and Sister Snow take us out to lunch. We were able to do a few normal p-day things, and then we went to proselyte in the evening.  Each night, there's a lot of stuff that needs to be done in the office. For example, putting together agendas and preparing for meetings, managing miles for the mission, and all kinds of other administrative things.

On Tuesday, we took the departing missionaries to the temple, had a meeting for all of the new leaders in the mission this transfer, and then had a departing testimony meeting for all of the departing missionaries. It was all back-to-back with no time in between! Then, after the departing testimonies, there was a "last supper" for all of them at the mission home. We then went out and proselyted in the evening.

On Wednesday, we dropped off the departing missionaries at the airport, and then picked up the new missionaries coming in. That came with its own challenge, because they all came in on different flights, at different times, and some of the flights changed part way through the day, and we were running around to different terminals trying to find missionaries. It was definitely an adventure. We spent some time at the mission home while all the new missionaries were being interviewed by President Snow and then helped to get everyone to their new areas. It was a busy day, but I really liked being able to help all the new missionaries.

And, that’s just the first part of the week! There are tons of things that keep us extremely busy every day, but I love it and am happy. 

Thanks for all you do for me!  Love you lots!

Q&A - 12/5/2016
1.) Is it hard for you to go to testimony meetings for departing missionaries? Does it make you trunky or does it just make you want to work harder so you can depart with no regrets?  --  I actually really enjoyed it.  Definitely more of the second one than the first. It's really cool to be able to see other missionaries finish their missions, and it definitely gives me a strong desire to work hard so I can go home with no regrets!

2.) Did you get your bike moved? I'm guessing you're not really using it much these days. Do you have a good safe place to store it?  --  Yep! My bike is in my new apartment!

3.) Do you get to work pretty closely with the senior couples who work in the mission office in different capacities?  --  Yep! There's a couple of different senior couples that we get to work with. There's the Brewsters, who are in charge of vehicles and phones; the Kalmes's, who are in charge of housing, and Sister Addington, the secretary for the mission office. Also, Sister Stubbs and Sister Stephens, who are in charge of baptismal forms and referrals.  I really like working with all of them!

4.) Favorite moment of the week?  --  New Leadership Training.  That was on Tuesday.  It's the chance that we, here in the office, have to train the new district leaders and sister training leaders.  It was an especially spiritual meeting for me, and I felt like I was really able to make a difference for some of them, and inspire them as leaders! At least I hope I did!  I really want to do all I can to help them. That's definitely one of my favorite things about being in the office now is that I get the chance to build up and train others.  Anytime I get to work with individuals on a personal basis, I like that the most! Although, I also really like some of the administrative stuff that we do in the office as well.  I've always really liked working with computers, and this gives me an opportunity to do some organizational stuff there as well.  All in all, I'm really loving my new assignment!