Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Just so you know, this letter may be all over the place because I'm in the middle of moving from one building to another. Our Branch Presidency wants the whole zone to be in one building to make it easier on them and to have more unity in our zone. So forgive me if what follows is a whole stream of nothing.
This week has been one of the best! Elder Keenan and I are making a lot of progress in our lessons. We've dramatically changed the way that we plan and study and so far we like we what we see! We're still teaching our teachers as investigators—Frère Smith is Rimas, and Soeur Thompson is Lyze. We extended the invitation to be baptized to both this week and they both told us that they would think and pray about it. I honestly cannot wait until I get to teach real people in Montréal! Frère Smith challenged us a while ago to pray for the people that we will teach, that they will be prepared to receive the Gospel.

I got a package from Stephanie and Todd with the most delicious homemade granola bars! I meant to write a letter to them today, but moving has been so time consuming! So thanks a bunch to the Santiago Family! I heard that Grandpa Pedersen had eye surgery a few days ago. I sincerely hope that everything went as planned! And congratulations to Todd and all of Vivint. It was wonderful news to hear that 3One3 went smoothly! One of my favorite aspects of the Gospel to teach about is families! I am so thankful for the Plan of Salvation and the knowledge that we have that families, through the power of the priesthood and the blessings of the temple, are an eternal unit.
On Saturday night I met with the Zone Leaders for a quick interview to see how everything was going. It seemed a little odd because I had been interviewed the night before by my District Leader, Elder McKechnie. I didn't think much of it and then just before sacrament meeting started Brother Mangum from the Branch Presidency asked if he could talk with me for a second. I was made District Leader! I wrote a lot of my thoughts in my journal so you'll have to look out for that, Mom. I know that my experiences prior to coming on my mission have prepared me for this. So for the past two days I've been working extra hard to make our district stronger. We've set a few pretty ambitious goals together to really get us ready for the field. I am so happy that I get to serve with these Elders! I really do love every one of them! So here's the breakdown for the week: (I didn't have much time to get everything together, so if this is choppy just play along!)
Wednesday: We taught Lyze in the morning! Elder Keenan and I both think that this has been our best lesson yet. Our French was pretty spot on. But more importantly we felt the Spirit and we know that Lyze did as well. It was a really moving lesson for her and she made some good progress. (These lessons, along with all of role playing activities, have become so real to me. If anything, we are teaching a member of the church true doctrine, and regardless of whether their salvation is on the line or not, the Spirit is there and we all feel it.) Elder Pilling and I played volleyball with the Tahitian district. That was so much fun! I had a really good discussion with President Zimbleman about a scripture that I found and he had me read "The Grandeur of God" by Elder Holland from October 2003. If any of you haven't read that talk I would absolutely suggest reading it. And even if you have, it would be a good idea to read again and gain a better picture on the loving nature of our Father in Heaven.
Thursday: Thursdays have become a favorite because we get to do PVL all day as a zone and TRC in the afternoon! PVL-ing has been such a help! One of the goals that we set as a district is on October 1st to drop English almost completely and only use French. I can't wait to see how that turns out! In TRC we met the coolest old man ever! He speaks 10 different languages! 10 languages! English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Ukrainian, Russian, Dutch, and I think Polish? He showed us an app that he uses on his iPad—it's the Book of Mormon in all 10 languages. It has 10 columns, each one with a different language. I can't wrap my mind around that...
Friday: We taught Lyze again in the morning and she said that she still needed a little more to think about baptism. It was Nicole Tucker's birthday and I sent a letter to her, I hope it got there in time! We studied a lot and worked hard all day. (I'm just about out of time...)
Saturday: We did our weekly planning and got everything planned out down the smallest detail. I absolutely love planning now! We have every minute of every day mapped out almost a full week in advance! I wish that I had that skill in school—it would have helped so much! We taught Rimas in the afternoon and had our best lesson so far with him! Lots of French, food, and studying.
Sunday: I was called as District Leader. We attended the 3 o'clock session of the Brigham City Temple Dedication which was amazing! What a great time to be in the MTC! We'll get to watch General Conference here as well! I went to my meetings and got a lot of advice and teachings on how to be the best leader possible. I've served in multiple presidencies before but never have I been in charge. There are a lot of responsibilities that I have now and I am looking forward to doing my best! We heard from Spencer B. Allen of the Missionary Department in the Church. He gave a great message about the power that we have as missionaries.
Monday: We taught Rimas in the afternoon. Our lessons didn't go at all as planned but it was still great. We ended up teaching about the Gift of the Holy Ghost instead of the Priesthood. It was what the Spirit wanted and what he needed! We had a good workshop on mapping our progress as missionaries and mapping the progress of our investigators.
Tuesday: We went to the Temple this morning! Always a blessing! We packed up and did laundry and have started to move into our new building. I'm looking forward to the devotional tonight!
Well, that's all the time that I have! I am having the time of my life serving the Lord! I would encourage all of you to fall in love with scriptures—spend time reading from them with specific questions in mind! I promise that you will receive answers to your questions if you give the scriptures enough time and attention and follow promptings. There is nothing better that you can do to improve your life than keep the commandments and follow the teachings of the Prophets. I am so excited for General Conference! Do everything that you need to be prepared to listen and receive personal revelation during that weekend.
Elder Ellis

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



Mom! You are the best! Thanks for all of the black licorice! You should've seen my face when I opened the package. This week has been great! I've learned so much and come so far! We're basically half-way through our stay at the MTC! I'm trying my best to make the most of every single day! My district is the greatest group of guys that I've ever met! I am having such a fun time learning alongside them. We are a very diverse group of Elders! We have a Scottish Elder, Elder McKechnie, (our District Leader) who is absolutely hilarious. A Canadian, Elder Pilling, who is basically fluent in French already. Elder Willden is from North Carolina and is also very good at French. Elder Grant is from Salt Lake as well as Elder Schultz. Elder Keenan is from Chicago. Elder Wright is from Wyoming. Elder Christensen is from Logan. Elder Olsen is from Meridian. I love all of these Elders! It will be exciting to hear from them over the next two years. Half of us are going to Montréal and the other half to Paris.

This week Elder Keenan and I were called as the Zone Computer Trainers. They must have read my bio... I laughed a little on the inside when they extended the calling. I went from teaching One-to-Ones at the Apple Store to teaching the Sunday Program Outline at the MTC. What goes around comes around. Oh, and apparently I sleep-talk? This morning Elder Wright gave me a list of everything I said. Most of it was just noise, but I said "toujour, chaque jour!" (All day, every day.) I said something in French in my sleep! Ah! I can't get over that! The gift of tongues is real! We've been studying so hard this past week! Here's an overview of what I've been up to:

Wednesday: A new group of Elders came in! It seems like the groups have been getting a lot smaller. The MTC feels really empty right now. There should be a lot more in two weeks, though. I had a goal to only say 200 words in English all day and the rest had to be in French! It worked pretty well. We taught Lyze about the importance of prayer and the role of prophets first thing in the morning. It was a great lesson! In class we talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation. That became our focus for the rest of the week.

Thursday: I had the opportunity to do something really cool in class. My teacher, Soeur Thompson, had asked me the night before to come up with a investigator to be so that in class she could demonstrate teaching the Plan of Salvation. I based my character off of a friend back home and really felt the Spirit as she taught me in front of everyone. It was a completely new experience to me. The Plan of Salvation really is the plan that God has for us. It is amazing how simple it really is. Elders Schultz, Christensen, and Willden left to San Fransisco in the middle of the night to pick up their visas, so Elder Wright joined Elder Keenan and me all day. We taught TRC that night and the funniest thing happened (TRC is Teaching Resource Center, basically just members and RMs who speak French come in and we teach them.) We taught an older lady about the importance of charity when we serve and I asked her what she associated with "l'amour" (love.) She looked really confused and a bit shocked. I then said, in French, "maybe your heart?" And she started saying, "Do I look like I'm dying? I'm still here, am I?" We got so confused and then I started thinking. I had pronounced it as "la mort" which is death. So I had just asked an lady, probably 75 years old, what she associated with death and asked about her heart. It was pretty funny but I fixed it as soon as I realized what had just happened. I'll never mispronounce that word again!

Friday: Lots of French again! I limited myself to 100 words that day. I went over by a bit, but that's okay. We studied the idea of teaching an entire lesson by only asking questions. It was so hard! But I learned a lot about asking good questions. Frère Smith couldn't make it to class so Frère Blosil filled in for him. He taught us so much about French that we hadn't covered! He helped me clean up a lot of my pronunciation and worked on my accent with me. We are going to start meeting every other day to go over small things in French. I read something cool in Preach My Gospel about following up on commitments with investigators. Elder Holland said, "You should be devastated when your investigators haven't read what they said they would."

Saturday: I got letters from the Young Women back home! Thanks for all of the encouragement! I think Austin hit his 19 month mark today! I can't believe that! And I'm almost a month out already! I made a cool badge for PVL that I wear most of the time now so that no one will speak English to me. I had a few awesome hits in volleyball that night! It's such a relief to be able to play every day!

Sunday: I gave the sacrament prayer in French! I will never forget that! French is such a beautiful language! I am having so much fun learning it. We heard from W. Tracy Watson, the Proselyting Director for the Missionary Department in the church. He told a really cool story about how the church handled the "Book of Mormon Musical" situation. I wish I could tell you more about it but I'm basically out of time. Oh! We got news that we'll be watching the Brigham City Temple Dedication here at the MTC.

Monday: We taught Rimas. He's coming to church. We invited him to be baptized and he said he's not ready yet. I bore my testimony of the importance of baptism and he said that he'll pray about it. I said goodbye to another group of Elders and Sisters that I have been playing volleyball with. I'll miss them!

Today: We went to the Temple this morning! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to go there! I'm looking forward to the fireside tonight!

I love all of you! Thanks for the letters! Make sure to read from the Book of Mormon! I'm studying King Benjamin's address right now to get ready for General Conference, so if you need somewhere to read from you can start there! Here's to another great week!

Elder Ellis

Friday, September 14, 2012



If my guess was and is correct, the iPhone 5 has been announced! While that is wonderful news, I would ask that no one send me any information, pictures, or opinions about it and/or any other news from the event. I am trying my absolute hardest to submit myself, including my thoughts and desires, to the Lord and to the marvelous work to which I have been called. Please respect my request! I have only two years as an official representative for the Lord on the earth—it would destroy me to know that I did not devote myself completely to the work. I'm sure great things will happen over the next two years, but I can assure and guarantee you that nothing that Apple, nor any other company, can conjure up or create is greater than a single minute of my mission.

Merci Beaucoup!

Elder Ellis

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I woke up this morning and couldn't believe that it has already been three weeks! Time flies when you're on the Lord's errand! I tried especially hard this week to use every second of it wisely. It really is amazing what can happen to your life when you decide to devote a little more. I promise that if you take the time to consider what the Lord has done for you each day, you we be blessed. I know that because I've seen it in my own life. The power of prayer is just that—power! In Preach My Gospel (which, by the way, I swear will be a Standard Work someday. That book is inspired! A member of the Twelve commented on it saying that it was "printed on this side of the veil, but written on the other.") it says about prayer: You can pray at any time and in any setting. That is true! Just imagine offering up a simple prayer every hour of the day! In that way I am jealous of the religions where that is common practice—to give prayers all throughout the day. But we can and we should!
This last Sunday we said goodbye to 45 French missionaries from our zone. We got to do something unique to the Church in French. There is a beautiful hymn in the French hymn book, no. 179, that isn't in any other language. I would highly recommend listening to it! So they sang that to us for the closing hymn. It was sad to see so many of them go—I've looked up to a lot them! They've taught me so many things about French and about the Gospel. Our hallways will be a little quieter at least for three weeks until we get more French missionaries. At that point, I'll be where the older missionaries were when I got here! It's so funny when a new group of missionaries comes in because everyone just peppers them with advice. I remember on the first day I was here, every single person I walked by had something to say about the "MTC Timewarp" or "Don't drink the orange juice" and so on... I try my best (and I think I might have made myself promise at one point to never pepper others with advice) to welcome them in gently.
Oh! Before I forget! Jessie Marquis wrote me but I lost her letter and so I don't have her address! I put the letter that I wrote back to her in the envelope with your letters, Mom and Dad. (So Jessie, if you are reading this on my blog, comment with your address so my parents can send the letter along.) Thanks for the letters and packages everyone! Every night I know I can count on someone to send something. And thanks for the "get well" wishes! I'm feeling 100% better! Elder Keenan and I have started running again in the mornings which is such a relief to be up and moving again! My voice is back, minus my falsetto, so singing is restricted to baritone. I'm singing at the devotional tonight! So we'll see if my voice holds up or not!
This week was great. It was fast! But definitely great!
Wednesday: I had a goal to speak as much French as possible. It was hard but I pretty successfully stuck to it! I think I may have mentioned this before, but I've started to think quite a bit in French. When I go to bed each night I can hear French rolling through my head. It's the weirdest thing. Uncle Derek told me that would happen, but I didn't think it would come on so quickly! (Oh! I never sent him a Happy Birthday card a while back! If you're reading this, Derek: Happy Belated Birthday!) Wednesday night we taught Lyze about prayer. It's tough because she doesn't quite believe in God yet, but we committed her to pray! I went back to gym for the first time and played volleyball! I love volleyball so much. But it seems like that is everyone's fall back sport. Meaning, if you don't want to play anything in the MTC you play volleyball. Which adds up to very crowded courts and some pretty slow games, but that's okay. We have fun anyways.
Thursday: Our zone set a goal to make every Thursday "PVL Day." (PVL being Parle Votre Langue, or Speak Your Language.) So I got to speak all French for two days in a row! It really helps me to do that because I have been keeping a little notebook with all of the words that I didn't know how to say throughout the day and then I go back at night or during language study and learn all of those words. My vocabulary has grown quite a bit because of that! It's amazing what a little dedication and determination will do when trying to accomplish something. We had a good lesson from Frère Smith about praying for the people we are going to teach in Montréal. We are so incredibly lucky to have him as a teacher. I'm not sure if I've told you about him yet? But I'm short on time already, grr..., so I don't really have time to. Just know that he is the greatest blessing to have here in the MTC!
Friday: We, irreverently, translated "Friday" by Rebbecca Black into French and sang it at lunch... I did learn a few new words from it! We played volleyball at the sand courts and I had three really good hits! The Samoans like me because I can set for them. We taught Rimas and Lyze—preparing for two lessons in one day was tough! When we followed up on the commitment we left with Lyze she surprised us and said that she had prayed morning and night each day! She offered to say the closing prayer. That was amazing.
Saturday: Mom, did you write the cleaning staff and tell them that I also clean toilets like a mad-man as well? I got booted off of mirror cleaning and put on toilet duty. It wasn't too bad. (I'm short on time...) Great lessons, great food, and great Spirit.
Sunday: I already told you about the Elders and Sisters leaving. Great meetings all day. Great fireside at night—I wrote about it in my journal so you can read about it sometime later.
Monday: It was a Monday! Need I say more? Food, study, food, study, study, sleep.
Today: Wrote a few letters, did my laundry (didn't lose any socks!) and we're going to dinner and the devotional after this. I think we're going to watch the CES Fireside, which Frère Smith told us was amazing! You guys should watch it.
I love all of you! I am so happy right now! Every morning when I put on my name tag I have a little moment.
Elder Ellis

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Bonjour tout le monde!

You won't believe what happened today—I lost another sock. Oh well, I guess that means I don't have an extra one anymore. But Mom, you should send me a few more pairs of those ankle socks you bought me! That would be awesome. Gold star goes to Mom, by the way! I love all of the packages I am getting and everyone is raving over your handwriting on the packages and envelopes. It's good to see that you guys are learning French alongside me! Speaking of French—the gift of tongues is real! I am so blessed to be a missionary! There are things happening in my life at the MTC that are not possible without the help of the Spirit! I'm doing my best to record everything special that happens in my journal. I haven't missed a day so far and I don't intend to!

This week was a little difficult for me because last Wednesday night I got really sick (like the same thing that happened a few years ago, but this time at least I knew I couldn't have penicillin. The doctor here is really nice. He said I might be developing tonsillitis, though, so we'll just have to keep an eye on that. And there is a growth on my shoulder that he wants to check next week. (But don't worry! I'll be fine!) Today is the first day that I have felt any better. It was really hard because I wanted so badly to be in class, and so I would push myself to get to class but it wasn't helping with the recovery process. I felt really bad because when I had to miss class, Elder Keenan did as well. I tried not to miss a lot but yesterday, my instructor, Soeur Thompson, pulled me to the side and told me that for almost the entire duration of her mission she was sick because she never gave herself enough time to heal completely. She told me that I wasn't allowed to come back to class until I was all the way better, so yesterday I stayed in bed all day. Which actually turned out to be quite the blessing because I cracked open the Missionary Reference Library and read "Our Search For Happiness" by M. Russell Ballard all the way through. It was an amazing book that I suggest all of you take the time to read. There is a certain simplicity about the way he explains the Gospel that is just amazing! I have never read about the Atonement or the Apostasy in such a logical way. It made sense in my mind and my heart, like all spiritual truths should. But worry not! I'm getting better, and tomorrow is looking like a great day!

Wednesday: We taught Robert again! It was a great lesson. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation. I have the greatest time breaking down the Gospel in simple bit-sized pieces to teach (and then breaking them down even further to translate into broken French.) He took the lesson really well but struggled on one thing—the location of the places in the plan like the Spirit World, and the Celestial Kingdom. So imagine how hard I tried to explain to him as simply as I could, without getting into too deep unproven doctrine, in French. That was an amazing experience for me because for about five solid minutes I could speak French without a hitch. But as soon as I taught him that and we could move on, I had a hard time finding words again. That night, I got really sick.

Thursday: Elder Keenan and I visited the medical center after our first class and I was told to go back and rest for a few hours. That night we met as a district with some of the Branch Presidency and had an amazing discussion on the magnitude of our call. I think that day I got a package from Mom with a talk in it called "The Fourth Missionary". I've read it twice now! What an inspired talk! I'm so glad that I read that at the beginning of my mission. You were right mom, it will forever impact the way I serve!

Friday: This was probably the worst day (as far as my health is concerned—everyday is a great day as a missionary!) I had completely lost my voice at this point from coughing so much. That proved pretty difficult in participating in just about everything. I started writing down what I wanted to say! It was pretty fun, I felt like The Visitor in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. But I did go through an entire writing pad... they're pretty cheap at the MTC Bookstore, though, so it wasn't a big deal. I woke up, not even kidding, like twenty times that night. I had a cool dream, though. Mom, you can read about it in my journal one day.

Saturday: We had a service project at 6, so we had to wake up early for that. And like I said, I didn't hardly sleep at all and my voice was just barely coming back, so it was really hard for me. But I pushed through! We cleaned our whole building and I got put on mirror duty for all four floors. Luckily, I have the best Mom in the world who made me a pro at cleaning mirrors. I think I'll be doing that job for the remaining 7 weeks (and not by choice!) In order to keep Elder Keenan in class as much as possible I started eating cough drops like a sumo at a buffet. Dr. Brown had me called down to the front desk, though, because he wanted to start putting me on medications. This is the highlight of the week—the medications were at Rite-Aid in Provo down by Maceys on Bulldog, so Transport had to take us down there. As we got there, he told us that he was going to have to turn around and pick up some other Elders, so we would have to wait there for about 15 minutes. Those were my first 15 minutes in the real world, as a real missionary, with a real nametag on. I immediately felt the weight of responsibility. There we were, out in the open as representatives of Jesus Christ. I wanted so badly to make a contact! Everyone we came across at Rite-Aid greeted us with a nice "Hi, Elders!" It was like we were celebrities!

Sunday: Church was great! We had a great testimony meeting! It was all in French (our branch always is) so I had a hard time picking up a few of the words that were being used by the more senior Elders and Soeurs. (1 minute... I'm getting better.) The meetings were all great. I felt a little better.

Monday: Had to spend all day in bed, per Soeur Thompson's request. Read "Our Search For Happiness."

Today: Wrote this. Did laundry. Ate food.

I love all of you! Keep your heads up and focus on Christ!

Elder Ellis