September 9, 2010

WOW.....this is quite possibly Elder Aaron Ellis' last email home before he arrives in person!!! We are so excited!!!!

Well, here's the letter:

So this week was another good one like all the weeks of being a missionary. We had the Baptism of Francisco Garrastegui.

He is a member that was baptized many many years ago but all of his information is missing. The missionaries have been working on finding it or figuring out what to do for the last year. and Nothing. so i was tired of it and we made the arrangements and did everything to get him baptized and we did it. My clothes finally came out of the bag. Because he's about my size and he needed clothes. =) They got wet.

Then the next day we had a talk with the mom of our investigator Francisco. He is a great guy that we are teaching. Four years ago he lost his son and job and many other things all at the same time and from that time forward he has been kind of crazy. He understands well and is a great guy just has some nervous ticks. Their are some members that think he doesn't need baptism but we went through the Church handbook with the branch president and he said that he feels we should baptize him he has been coming for the last few months. I was tired of waiting on others to do their job so we scheduled everything and set his baptism up for this Saturday. He is pretty funny and i will tell you more about him when i get home. But he asked that i baptize him. So i will be performing the first baptism outside of the temple in my mission. Woohoo! Cool experience. I am very grateful for my companion. I would have been completely fine with someone else baptizing him. We sat down with him and asked who he wanted to baptize him and he said that he wanted it to be one of us two. my companion then said. Elder Ellis deserves to have this experience because he is going home next week. My companion is a good kid. He's got his quirks but he is a good Elder. We have the interview for tomorrow and then at three the last baptism of my mission. on my last Saturday of the mission! Awesome! so this transfer we doubled my baptisms that i have up to now received. That's hoping that everything goes well.

Shoes.... So my Hush puppies have lasted the whole mission. but this last week. the side just blew out. so i went and bought some 10 dollar shoes. The shoes lasted for a week and then blew out even worse than my others. I had some super glue and tried it on my hush puppies. WORKED! Whoohoo! so I'm still going in my hush puppies. They have lasted almost every day of my mission. Very few times did i wear the others i sent home. I didn't like the style and weren't as comfortable to walk in as the hush puppies.

I was able to buy two hammocks yesterday for the price of one. the man saying i was getting a good deal but i got it about normal pricing. and bought some other little puerto Rico memorabilia (sp?) and will buy some more this next week. i don't know how much time i will have next week because they haven't giving me any information. I did hear that we will receive the opportunity to go to El Morro. So i will have some good meditation time there.

I haven't been able to sleep very well lately due to anxiety and my face is breaking out a little. i am mostly nervous about work when i get back. I don't know what to do. But i am working hard and not "slackening my hand."

I have actually made a goal to read the book of Mormon again before i finish. WHOOOOOO Hard. I am finishing Jacob right now. that so much reading for me. I read so slow. but i am doing it. I need to read to Alma 30 by the end of the week. and then before next Thursday somehow read all the way to the end. I will do it. I am learning a lot.

But also we had a conversation with a member and he said that we had mentioned something that wasn't doctrine. We looked it up and studied it and in 15 minutes found the answer and learned so much more as a companionship. It was a great learning opportunity.

Well see you soon. if i don't write next week i will see you and tell you many more adventures. =)

NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.

September 1, 2010

I have been praying since I started the mission that a hurricane would hit so I could do service. =) HAHAHAHA. It was only about 4 hours that it hit here. Very strong wind. The cell phone service was very weird. I believe it was because of the cloud cover. But Awesome! I got a video of some of it. Awesome. Right when the big winds started. I hope the one from Africa comes up here too. =) that would be awesome. I was so excited when we got the tail end of Earl. AWESOME!!! Trees flying all over the place and breaking and falling and rain like crazy. It is an awesome experience. Now if Fiona hits we will be out of power for almost 2 weeks. The rest of my mission. =) If I come home stinky. Please still love me.

All the houses are made of cement and our house has a house on top of it. So the winds would blow or neighbors away before it blows us away. =) it’s really just awesome that’s the only word I can put to it. As we walk down the streets we pick up branches in the road. But nothing big. We were talking with the branch president last night and he said the last time the hurricane George hit the missionaries went to clean up and someone called the police saying the Mormons were breaking trees. =) So we are just sticking to simple stuff until it gets worse.

My companion still hasn't come back because of the hurricane so i am still with elder Rivera. He's so trunky and it makes it hard for me to not be trunky. But i am really just trying to work just like any other day.

This last week on Monday we saw a man that we have taught many times before. When we saw him he was smoking and always says Mis hijos Cristo esta conmigo. Ando con cristo como con cristo duermo con cristo. As he was saying that I felt to be honest and tell him the truth.

I mentioned the scripture in Corinthians that our body is a temple for the Holy Ghost and that he could not possibly walk with Christ nor have Christ with him unless he was being obedient to Gods commandments. He said that his faith was different that he believes in a Christ that is merciful and that is always with us to help us. I mentioned that Christ being a perfect resurrected being can only be in places that are clean and only be in places where the hearts are pure. That Christ does love us is merciful but we need to do our part to reach his standard he has set. He looked at me very strangely then my companion opened his mouth and said in a very gringo accent. I cannot speak Spanish very well but Christ did come to this earth. He died for you and as we obey he will forgive our sins. I know that Christ is waiting for you to turn your life around.

He was quiet for a few seconds then said. Wow. This kid spoke the truth.

It was a great learning opportunity of how much I need my companion.

Then we went to the caverns. It took an hour to get there on bike. A lot less than I thought it would. We got there and started talking to a man from Chicago. I heard a thud and looked over to a little girl sitting with a cat on her lap. =) The cat on her lap gave birth to a stillborn so this dead little kitten fell onto the ground and the little girls skirt had blood all over it and she didn't really understand what was going on. Then all these people came and started taking pictures of it. =) Mainly American tourists. It was weid how everyone came to take pictures of it.

But then we got into the caves. Awesome. then as we finished the tour we came out of the caves to get on the trolly and the trolly driver took a curve to fast and the wheel was hanging over a small little cliff. We had to wait about 30 minutes for them to get a mechanic and bring a jack to get us out of the cave... I wanted to go up with my companion and move. It would have been so much easier doing it by hand. Three men could have done it easy.

Then as we all got on and the trolly started driving up the little curvy track the tires started screeching. And we started going backwards. The people got really scared because we were going backwards towards the cliff. =) And the man started yelling DONT HIT THE GAS JUST LEAVE THE BRAKE ON. So he stopped and then we all got off and started walking. Then we finally got to a flat area we all boarded again and started, the tires still screeching but we made it slowly. Then we rode our bikes back and were laughing the whole way for what had happened. Then we showered and went out to go work and heard some music. And then looked to where the music was coming from. We saw a Gordita on her second story balcony shaking trying to dance to the music. It was hilarious. Again we started laughing up a storm.

Then on Sunday night we were walking and a car stopped and waved for us to come over. A family from Tennessee. Great people. They said they had talked to the missionaries there in Tennessee and would love for us to visit them. We went over and on the way we got hit with the front of the hurricane. BAM! Rain pouring. We got soaked in seconds and kept walking. Walking almost a mile in pouring rain. Cars swerving into puddles to get us wet. =) then we arrived dripping wet and started to talk with them. They have been investigators for three years. but haven’t been baptized because they aren't married. Their daughter was baptized when she was eight but they aren't. We talked about obedience to Gods commandments. She said that they have learned a lot on this trip. She got dengue fever. Lost her wallet and so couldn't return without her license. Waiting for a new license her husband lost his Job, their son stepped on some glass and cut his foot open. and so they have had much time to think and were talking because they saw us walking one day and wanted to talk to us so turned around to follow us and we had entered the post office to get my package and couldn't find us. Then Sunday night they saw us again. Great lesson. We invited them to not ask when they should get married or if they should but rather to have the strength to do it. Then we invited them to go to church this Sunday when they get back in Tennessee. They promised they will. They testified of how much their lives have changed as members of the church. They hadn't been going for six months and a ton of things have happened. They promised they will go.

Then they offered us a ride and so in the car we kept talking and he called his bishop. He promised the bishop he will go to church. And he said. Bishop, things are turning around, we are going to come back to church and we will start to do things right.

AWESOME experience. I more than anything am excited to come back to my culture. Come back to my people and teach the Gospel amongst my brethren. I Love my country I love my people more than anything. I Love these people but nothing replaces home.

I am excited to keep working and keep having great experiences.

I Love you all! "Cuidesen" that is how the puerto ricans say it but in spanish its cuiden se

August 25, 2010

so. This week. Interesting.

Since friday we went saturday to Mayaguez to listen to Elder Anderson of the 70 he talked a lot about how the Carribean presidency letter that was sent out stating that missionaries in this area are going to need to elevate their spiritual level and obedience higher than we have ever raised it before. saying that this area the missionaries need to think of themselves as more than Baptizers and Temporary visitors but a part of the branch and a key role in the growth and strengthening of the branch that we go to. I have felt for a while that that is really my mission here. As i helped Ramonita in vega baja return after 25 years out of the church and here from other elders that she is stil attending. knowing that Brother linares who as well hadn't been to church in years came back and now all go to church. Doing service for Roberto who as well hadn't come to church visiting him regularly trying to help him leave the alcohol and many other things that destroyed his life. Hes now coming to church starting the sunday i left vega baja hasn't missed hardley any sundays. Here in Lares a return missionary that hasn't come to church in more than 5 months and has promised us he will come to church this week and next. In arecibo helping recent converts continue strong and continue teaching them till they went to the temple. in San nicolas 5 of the previous investigators i had found and taught have been baptized. In curacao teaching sister Rincon to prepare and not lose hope to be baptized when the opportunity allows. Helping Yenny come to the waters of baptism and see her be baptized.

I have not seen a whole lot of direct successes but i know my work has been of great benefit. I have two baptisms in which i saw them get baptized. My white clothes have stayed in their bag since the DR but i consider my mission a great time of learning and growth. as i have mentioned many times before i feel as though i have extended my family throughout the world. As preach my Gospel says in the very beginning the Restored Gospel is the only thing that will bring peace to different nations and will bring all races and cultures into unity of faith. I know that to be true.

I am now with Elder Rivera. He ends with me. we are two old stinky missionaries and president sent him here so we can help get a young man on a mission. That is our purpose in this next week do everything possible to help him realize the importance of the mission. We went to aguadilla the other day and had district meeting with President and the assistants. I dont know if i agree with all that was said and expressed and i will explain more after the mission. but i am more than willing to be obedient and continue striving and giving more and more of what i have making myself tired and wearing myself out in the service of the Lord.

I am very grateful for this change becuase i have learned a lot. The ways of president Alvarado are a little different but i will be obedient.

we had a great meeting with the branch president yesterday. we showed him the sheets that came out last year about new converts and recent converts the action list of their progress. We are going to start working harder on this. I really want to leave this area as i feel i have left all of my others. I honestly feel i have help people come back and helped them in many ways.

August 18, 2010

To all who follow these weekly letters of Elder Aaron Ellis: Just want you to know that today we received Elder Ellis' itinerary for his return home.

Wow!!! These 2 years have really flown by but we cannot wait for him to come back home!

Aaron arrives on Thursday September 16th at the Portland International Airport at 6:41pm via Delta airlines. You are welcome to come greet him at the airport with us if you feel so inclined.

August 18, 2010

This fabulous week

Well. Since last Wednesday after we finished with our email and other p-day activities we started our ride out for San Sab. San Sebastian. We rode our bikes all the way from here to there then got a taxi then from there we went down to Aguada. When i got there i wanted so bad to go see Madeline one my first baptisms in my mission. We did. I put my hand out and she hit it out of the way and gave me a big hug. It was great to see her. But as we walked into her house her boyfriend walked out saying. I go to one church and I won’t confuse myself, and left in a very angry mood. I was shocked and immediately knew why she wasn't going to church anymore. We talked and she was pretty defensive and one of the Aguada Elders there said something that kind of offended her and it made me a little frustrated I only wanted her to feel the Spirit testify of what she needed to do. I invited her to read the Book of Mormon and she said she couldn't make that promise to me. It made me very sad. Then Thursday we were at Ponce and met with president and elder Vinas of the seventy. Great meeting that testified of things I had earlier mentioned to my zone leaders. I felt that they were kind of micromanaging the work. They had different ideas then Elder Vinas explained it very clearly and to me i got the answer.

Then yesterday we had district meeting it went well. Then after last night the Zone leaders called me and elder Knudsen told me that while they were in district meeting they were surprised because many of the points I was bringing up they had just heard from Elder Vinas and they asked each other wait a second did we share that with him yet? How does he know that?

It was a good moment helping me feel like a successful missionary.

Sorry we are going to the Mayaguez Zoo today. Woohoo!

No time.

August 11, 2010

SO this last week much time was spent on a special assignment from president. We were told by president to wake up early in the morning and talk to people taking their kids to school. They were all in their cars and we didn't really see much success. They just all dropped their kids off and yeah. But something we did do was split up with some young men in our branch. i went with the younger one and my companion went with the older one. It was a great learning experience for both of them and the older one told us yesterday. "you guys were right its so much better to share the gospel with friends. They understand you better and listen better" YEAH that was awesome to hear. I hope he takes us to more friends. While i was with the younger one. He just didn't really understand our purpose as missionaries and we started to tok. =) he got tired fast and would sit down while i was talking to people or walk around the street and it made it hard for the people to pay attention to us. so i decided it wasn't the most effective method. We saw an old lady and normally i ask if we can enter and talk to them. This time i just went in. and sat down. He didn't know that that wasn't normal. so he just followed me. We sang for her and talked a little. She didn't really understand. So i asked her a question about prayer. She said don't you think God has so many people to listen to that he wont listen to me. in that very moment i felt such a strong confirmation that GOD LISTENS TO ALL PRAYERS. no matter how pretty how simple how extravagant. I know he listens. and i testified to her that i know that God loves her. i testified that what she was feeling was God telling her of his love for her. as we left she said. God does listen to our prayers doesn't he. nice old lady. don't know how much she understood nor cared but i felt like she learned something and i know the young man learned something as well.

President came to our area and talked about the young men needing to be the ones who pass and bless and prepare the sacrament. That same week i had told them in a fireside that we wont have missionaries leaving from this branch until the Aaronic priesthood performs their duties that the lord has trusted them with. it was a great fireside and the members liked it. But then president Alvarado said the exact same thing when he came. It was great.

Yesterday as we passed by that young mans house he said. I have been assigned to bless the bread each week. =) IT is awesome. It made me so happy on Sunday to see them fulfilling with their responsibilities. They were all their preparing and they did everything. There is a lot for them to learn as youth but it has begun. What a great joy it is to work with youth.

So we were contacting on Wednesday and ran into a less active here in Lares. He went on his mission and came home early and was very active for a while then something happened and has stopped coming. We saw him and talked to him and i asked him about his testimony of the Book of Mormon. he said i have one but it will be gone soon. we told him how sad that made us but just kept talking to him. asking him about his mission and he loved telling us all about his stories and experiences. He also told us that he was writing a book. as he explained to us the plot of the story it seemed very similar to the book of Mormon and i told him that and he said. well i guess i cant leave all things. I told him i would love to see him come back to church and he said he will before i leave. Asked some questions about temples and masons. I was grateful that i had learned a little more about them and about Joseph smith being one and was able to help him understand the process of revelation. He told us he will come back. It was great. i told my companion that it totally reminded me of the song How to save a life. the story behind that song is fabulous. I invite you to look for it online and watch it. The story behind how to save a life.

they talk about how you just need to be a friend.

Then this week i read a quote by Joseph smith saying that we need to reach out to people and just help them. Not judge them. just like the phrase. They don't care how much you know till they know how much you care.

That was a great experience.

We also made some delicious pizza. While we were haciendo compras last week i asked my companion elder do you have pizza sauce. he said yeah there is some in the house. we got home and when i went to make the pizza. NADA. so we made it with BBQ sauce. it turned out alright. it tasted good. =) well

i love you and hope you have a great week.

August 3, 2010

As we look through and study the points of focus and doctrine that they taught to us i am seeing and know that the lord guides this work. I have felt many times that he really is directing us here.

Last night i was contemplating my mission and how little i have understood till now and how little i still understand. and how much different my mission would have been if i would have learned and payed more attention at the beginning. I was thinking about the idea of asking to extend to be able to prove myself or make up for my faults or something. I thought about the two options ask for an extension or go with what i was given. I began to pray. I asked first about asking for an extension. I felt an uneasy feeling. confused. then i contemplated and asked about following the plan. and i felt peace and felt the confirmation. Throughout the morning preparing for district meeting i was wondering why i had received that answer and almost doubting because i was really feeling like i need to make up for my mistakes. Then in district meeting while sharing my testimony with the other missionaries i received a simple impression and memory about Zions Camp. If they never would have gone against or been brought to an all time low or made mistakes i don't think it would have been the same experience preparing them for the future. My mission is not even close to being a regret. I have worked hard. My mistakes and my weaknesses have prevented me from accomplishing many things here in the mission. But i know that it has been a learning experience and sometimes we need to miss out on blessings to open our eyes. to learn and grow. The tree that suffers the most wind has the deepest roots (or gets blown over =) ).

That simple thought brought peace to my troubled heart. Zions Camp. What a rich piece of history that the lord has blessed us with. I feel like i have passed through this small little part of My own Zions Camp and and striving to get the most out of it. I know this church was organized to make us happy. and i find so much happiness each and every day by learning about the Lord. I am working on my weaknesses striving to be a better missionary and disciple of Christ.

This week we taught the first English class here for them. It went very well but the had a baby shower right after so the didn't let me finish my class. =\ i was bummed.

SO walking all around Lares i have thought and felt. hmmm i must be losing quiet a bit of weight i am sweating more than normal. i was looking all over for a scale. i found like 5 but never had a quarter to us them. I finally in subway for lunch yesterday found one and my companion gave me a quarter. =) i with anticipation emptied my pockets took of my shoes and walked up to the machine. Stood in place deposited the quarter. thinking maybe I'm at around 180 or so. I waited as it told me it was calculating my weight. i thought calculating? is it weighing me in pieces or what? Then finally the weight popped up on the screen...WHAT??? I'm huge. =) i cant keep eating so many carbs and starches. That's all they give us here. Rice and potatoes. rice and beans. rice and this rice and that. rice and bananas. =) no i am not upset at all just now know i am getting more muscular =) i wish. =)

Well that was our week. A lot of learning opportunities. Chuggin along. i bought some new razors =) gillete pro-glide. Whew nice shave.