Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Expiration Dates

Hey everybody!

This last week has been really good! We have a couple of great baptisms coming up! The first one is Katrina. She is the girlfriend of a member of our ward, and is so prepared! She's been reading the Book of Mormon and is starting Mosiah! She even set her own baptismal date!  There's also a couple of kids in a part member family named Katie and Kyle, and they've been learning about the gospel. They're both a little crazy, but it's cool to see how they get more peaceful when they're at church and learning about the gospel.

Something happened that made me realize that my time as a missionary is coming close to an end.  At the beginning of my mission, I would look at the expiration dates on food, and I had a longer expiration date than just about everything. But over the course of my mission, there are starting to be more and more things that I expire before they do. It started with the canned food, then stuff like peanut butter, but now it's starting to be juice and tortillas that last longer than I do! Pretty soon it's going to be eggs and milk and bread that have a longer expiration than I do!

Elder Holmes and I have been cheffing it up!

I've also had a revelation of sorts this last week. I was listening to a talk that was given by a former mission president, and he talked about one time that Elder Bednar visited their mission, and for an entire hour, he did nothing but a question and answer portion about the atonement. He said that that was the most important thing that he wanted everyone to understand, and the more I've pondered on it, the more I've realized that I need to know more about the atonement. I definitely have a testimony of it, but if there was ever one doctrine that I would want to understand backwards and forwards, it would be the atonement! I'm anxious to spend my study time to learn as much about it as I can. I'm so grateful for the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and want to understand it even more.

I love you all!
Elder Excell

Elder Holmes writing down our weekly plans
We gave the refugee kids some knock-off light sabers
we found.  They love them!
Some exclusive Thai  restaurant a member took us to. Apparently it's
one of the most famous ones west of the Mississippi!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Quick Letter Home

Hey, this will have to be short because I'm running out of battery! I forgot to plug my iPad in last night! 

This last week has been good! We met lots of great people who seem really prepared! We met a man who had previously been homeless for 23 years, but just recently got into a home about a year ago. He's been wandering around Vegas going to different chapels for the last 15 years, and knows a ton about the gospel, as well as about half of the bishops and stake presidents in the valley! 

Elder Holmes and I are really excited to be staying together and work hard until the end! 

I hope all is well back home! I love you all!
Elder Excell
Surprise Text Message Picture from Lexi,
a convert baptized in August 2016 by Elder Wightman
who was a member of the Temple View Ward where
Elder Excell served.  We love getting these surprise
greetings from the good people of Las Vegas!
Q&A -- 5/22/17
1.) Best moment of the week?  --  We had a really cool chance to go to a family search library in our area for a proselyting activity! It's one of only 14 in the world, and it's really huge! Our investigator Angela is really interested in family history, and was able to find some information about her long lost grandfather! And we even got to learn how to do family history better ourselves! I found a couple of names to reserve!

2.) What are you most looking forward to in the week ahead?  --  It may not be in the coming week, but I just found out about it recently. For missionaries who will be departing soon after President Snow leaves, he won't have time to do departing interviews with each person, but if you can get together a group of 4-5, he's going to do some group departing interviews where he'll give all of the advice he normally gives in departing interviews!

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Few Pictures After Mother's Day

Our District!
Q&A -- 5/15/17

1.) Do you have lots of new missionaries coming into your district this transfer? Does that mean any additional responsibilities for you when you do get new missionaries? -- Not really, other than making sure they make it to their new area ok.
2.) What will you be doing today for P-day? --  We visited a member and he showed us his massive collection of Star Wars action figures, haha. (Notice his awesome He-man shirt - haha)
3.) Are phone calls home a boost for you or do they tend to make you nostalgic and homesick? I know they affect people differently...  --  This one was kind of weird. Normally I feel sort of sad afterwards, but his time I didn't really feel that way at all. It will just be a little while before I see everyone again!
I'm sending a video of Elder Holmes and one of our new little friends.  We like hanging out with them a lot!

Sometimes we get random homeless people staying outside the chapel.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Pictures from the Field

97 degrees compared to blizzards in Idaho
Hey everybody! 

First off, the weather report. I had heard from my Mom last Monday there had been a small blizzard in Rexburg, and just thought I'd help everyone to appreciate the weather contrast!  It actually jumped up over 100 for the first time this year last week! The crazy thing is, in another month or so, 100 degrees will be a nice cool day! Almost even scarier is the fact that when the temperatures dipped back in the low 70s for a day or two, I wanted to start wearing a jacket! This next winter might be difficult.

In other news, I've started frequenting the Hispanic food carts that roll around Las Vegas! They come in all shapes and sizes, from big white vans to big carts somehow fastened to bicycles. But they all use the same old fashioned bike horns to get people's attention as they drive around. If you hear honking, you know there's one close! My two favorite options are the mango on a stick, or the elote, known to white people as street corn, or ghetto corn. They smother the corn in this stuff called crema that's kind of like mayo, and then cover it in butter, Parmesan cheese, and chili powder. So good! The mango is cool too, but I'm not a fan of getting everything on it. Who would want to ruin a perfectly good mango with chili powder and hot Sauce? But it is cool that they peel it and cut it into a cool shape right in front of you!

This last weekend was a baptism in Robindale! His name is Eric Ridenour, and I think I've mentioned him before. It was really cool to get to see him finally be baptized! Neither of his parents are members, but his step mom is. It was so cool to see both of his parents here to support him though! And his dad even gave a really nice prayer at the end of the baptism!
Eric and all the missionaries who taught him
It was also really cool to see some people from Robindale! I didn't get much of a chance to say goodbye when I left, so it was good to see everyone!
Robindale friends: Landon, Brice Cook (aka the Big Cookie), and Amber

I'm sending some pictures of us with our African friends. The last one is of them with a member who came to let them ride their horses for FHE! It's been quite a struggle to remember all of the names. Here are a few: Theogene, Mitamba, Rehema, Fazila, Ajebu, Abebo, Kabango, etc. They're so much fun though!  I really like spending time with them!

It's been another great week in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission! 
I love you all! 
Elder Excell

Q&A -- 05/08/2017
1.)  I might be getting a little antsy, but have you been given an official release date? Have you gotten travel plans?  --  I just found out on Saturday ( I was having a temple recommend interview with President) that my official release date is July 19! No specific travel plans yet.  Those will probably come about 6 weeks before.

2.)  When you forwarded the email from the Sister in the office who arranges travel, I noticed that one of the questions was which airport you'd like to fly into. I'm curious, how did you answer that?  --  I answered Salt Lake.  I'm looking forward to taking a drive through Logan Canyon on the way home!

3.)  So, our Mother's Day call!!!!!  What time works best for you?  --  4:00 (5:00 your time) should work for me and you should be home from church by then.  Let's plan on that.

4.)  What event from this past week will you want to remember for a long time?  --  Eric's baptism!  More details in the letter.

PS - We visited a pawn shop today that you might recognize!
It's in our area. Cool p-day sightseeing.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Street Art

Hey Everybody!

I'll start with the funny, then move to the crazy, and save the spiritual for last.

So Monday night, we were visiting an investigator, but were interrupted by a couple people asking to borrow our car jack. We agreed to let
them use it, even though we are in an interesting neighborhood. We had to stay there while they were using the car jack, and ended up being there till about 9:30 PM. They started borrowing it at about 8:30 PM. There were a couple of funny things about the experience. First off, ghetto people are just funny to be around. They're always doing crazy things! Secondly, they were doing a very bad job of jacking up the car. They kept trying to put it on a plastic part of the car instead of the place that you are supposed to put the jack. I didn't really feel like I had the street cred to tell them that they were doing it wrong, but luckily, the Tupac impersonator from the other day came over and had plenty of street cred to solve the situation!
Sending pictures of some of the street art we've found.
There's tons of it everywhere. It's pretty cool!

Sunday was crazy yet again this week! We had 17 people at church again! That's actually starting to be kind of normal, but the way that they all got there was the crazy part! 12 of the people who were at church were families of African refugees, and although we have been getting them rides the past few weeks, the ward isn't really very financially stable, so we’re trying to find more sustainable options. The plan was for this to be the first week that we would walk to church with them. We saw them Saturday, and told them that we would come by at about 10:00 Sunday morning and walk together. However, we dropped by the church just before 10:00 to drop off our suit coats, and we found a large crowd of them standing outside of the chapel! With language barriers, we spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out how in the world they got there already.  They said someone had given them a ride, but we hadn't set anything up for them. Eventually, we found out that they had started walking without us, and that a member had seen them, picked them up and brought them to the church! That combined with some other crazy things, made for an interesting Sunday!

The spiritual highlight for the week happened with a woman who we are teaching. Her husband had passed away a couple days before, and she was in inconsolable grief. She was in tears most of the time we talked to her, but we shared a lot of scriptures from the Book of Mormon and talked about where we go after we die.  We testified to her about eternal families. I don't know exactly what will happen to her as far as investigating the church, but what I do know for sure is that she felt the spirit comfort her that day, and was able to feel the love of the Savior. 

I’m having some very memorable experiences!

I love you all!
Elder Excell

Q&A – 5/1/2017
1.)  I was amazed at the number of people you had attend church last week. Do you feel that this week was as successful?  --  Well, we had 17 again this week, so I'd say it was still pretty alright! There are still about 10 others who were supposed to be there that weren't though, so we'll keep working harder!

2.)  Best moment of the week?  --  Probably when we took 10-15 minutes to just toss a football around with some of the refugee kids. They're all really awesome people, and it's funny how certain things you don't even really need to communicate very well in order to create a bond!
They're painting our apartment today!  I don't know if you can tell by the
pictures, but it could really use it.  The walls are almost more black
than white in some places. Haha!  Hence, we've moved everything
to the middle of all the rooms.