Monday, December 31, 2012

PHOTOS




Caroling in the metro with some of the YSA

Winter wonderland!

Snow removal....Canadian style!

The Eiffel Tower I made out of streamers! I had just given blood earlier that day (that's the sticker on my shirt) so I had to take a lot of breaks while making it!

We played Settlers for Christmas.  Elder Heder won that game!

Cars?

The set-up for the Christmas party

Me, Elder Baker, Sister Lopez, and Sister Nilsen.  The YSA Missionaries.

So much snow!




A cool little alley!

Me and my winter gear!  Those are my new boots.

EIGHTEEN


Bonjour tout le monde!

Happy New Year! I am so surprised at how quickly this year has gone by! I've done so much and come so far! A quick look back on the year and then the week that just passed! Let's see... I started the year off at BYU in my winter semester. I received my mission call to Montréal Canada in April! I finished working at BYU Broadcasting where I was blessed with a job that I loved! I stayed for the spring semester with my great friend Nathan Fronk (Yo Nate! Write me! Someone tell Nate to write me!) I had a wonderful summer getting ready for my mission and hanging out with the best of friends. And I left on my mission on August 22! And the rest is history! (Well, actually the rest is below this letter, but... you know what I meant.) 

So, as for this last week! Elder Baker and I had a great week coming back from what we called our "Christmas Break." (We had a semi p-day on Monday, Christmas Tuesday, p-day on Wednesday. So I just barely sent an email home on Wednesday so there won't be too much to update you on.) It's still a little hard to find people to teach because all of the students that we were teaching have either moved back home, to another apartment, or have finished school and disappeared! But we know that with the Lord's help and with diligence we can do anything! We've worked extra hard to make up for the lack of people to teach and have had some great experiences! I'll start off with what we've done since Wednesday and fill in before that if time permits.

So on Wednesday it was Boxing Day (Canada's Black Friday) and President Cannon was nice enough to change our p-day to then so that we could take advantage of the good deals and get some shopping done. I finally bought some nice boots! I had just been walking around in dress shoes—not a good idea! So I bought these really nice boots that were on sale for a pretty good deal (they're Helly Hansen I think...) And just in time, too! The next day was a record setting snowfall! I'll send some pictures along so you can see just how nuts it was. We ate at Five Guys—so good! We helped the YSA clean the chapel at night and I quickly sent off an email home!

Thursday we woke up to a major blizzard! It was amazing! I've never seen so much snow! I guess it's finally winter here in Canada! The Zone Leaders, Elder Heder and Elder Reid, drove us to the church for our district study. It was nice because almost all of the districts on the island came to the church for their district studies so I got to catch up with a few of the Elders that I haven't seen for a while! After our district study we quickly ate and then one of the companionships came into the gym where were eating and asked for some help getting their car out. Little did we know that for the next two and half hours we would be digging cars out of the snow! It dumped about 3 or 4 feet in a few hours and every car was absolutely packed in! We only had a few shovels so I grabbed one and got to work! I think at this point it would be appropriate to thank my dad for having me and my brother dig the hole for our trampoline—apparently I'm pretty good at clearing snow. Thanks, Dad! Because of the snow all of our appointments cancelled on us because they couldn't get onto or around the island. Caitlin was stuck in Ontario and everyone else couldn't get out of their front doors! So we went looking for some good French buildings to knock because the work in the French side of things has been pretty slow—we teach students and all of the universities require you to know English (except one) and so the students want to practice their English. So we went knocking around the one university that's all French and found a pretty big building full of students. Well, it should've been full but most apartments were empty. We found a nice guy named Charles who we talked to for a while about the need for a restoration and he ended up inviting us to his church! We finished knocking and then went home and had some of the yummy hot chocolate that my mom sent us.

Friday felt like we were running errands almost all day! We had our weekly planning session at Laurier and kept having to stop to do odd jobs for the office missionaries. I absolutely love them! They are so much fun to work with! They are two senior couples, the Conways and the Arhets. We are at the office (which is the top floor of our church building at Laurier) almost every day and each time I walk through the door both of the sisters pull out their list of questions for me. I teach them how to send emails and how to copy and paste and every sort of computer question there is. It's quite fun, actually! We spent a little more time digging and clearing out snow to take the seats out of the mission van. We finished our planning and then called my cousin, Katie. On Christmas my mom had told me that my cousin and her husband were planning on coming up to Montréal to visit and that they wanted to take us to lunch. President Cannon said it would be okay so we called to make some plans. We met Phil at Subway and he gave us sandwiches for cheap! I feel bad each time we go there because we walk out with having payed next to nothing for our food and it feels like we just robbed the place! We went to check the mail for one of the YSA, Amaru, who is waiting on her mission call (which she just got today! We don't know where she is going yet, though!) So obviously, the mission call wasn't there. We weren't going to have enough time to knock as much as we wanted if we went back to the building we found the night before so we decided to knock a street close to where we live. It was crazy! It was like a ghost town! All of the students are gone and we saw maybe 10 people on the streets the whole night, and remember, we live right in the middle of downtown so it was nuts! We decided to knock a few of the nice houses on the street because we knew that the families would be home even though they don't fall into the age range we are supposed to teach. (That is a weird thing to me—as YSA Missionaries we are only supposed to teach people from the ages of 18-32. I don't like having to limit the people that I share the Gospel and so regardless I always make sure to share as much as I can and then we pass them off to other Elders.) We met some great people but they were all busy doing things with their families—which is not a bad thing! The idea of the family in Québec seems to be falling apart. The history of the area with the Catholic church is really interesting. If you want a good history read, look up some of the recent history of Québec!

Saturday started off great! We had a lesson with Stephanie, who Elder Baker has been teaching since July. Her story is absolutely amazing and I wish I knew it well enough to share. Basically, she has been ready since July to be baptized but her parents, sadly, only see the Church as large scheme to get her money and so they won't let her be baptized. We have been working with them and finally were able to have a formal lesson in their home with President Cannon. We made sure to help her mom realize the sincerity of the message and understand the importance of the Gospel in her daughter's as well as her own life. President Cannon explained the Gospel in such a simple and clear way. He is an amazing teacher and great example and leader. I'll always remember that lesson—I learned a few important lessons myself. After the lesson we met one of the less-active members we have been working with for a while named Françis at the Grande Bibliotheque at UQÀM. He wanted to go grab a pastry at Tim Horton's (basically Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts but a million times better.) We were able to have a great conversation with him about the importance of prayer and the scriptures in our daily lives. But during the lesson, my cousin Katie called and we just barely missed the call. She called again a few minutes later and picked up the phone and said "hello" and all I could hear was the phone being hung up! We knew from the conversation the day before that they were planning on being around Old Port so we left there as soon as the lesson with Françis was over. We walked around the old cathedral, Notre Dame, and China Town for a while hoping and praying that we would run into them. We never saw them but I was glad to be able to see the oldest part of Montréal! Amaru called us and told us that she had just made it back to the island and needed her keys and told us that she wanted to help us go knocking (she is going to be such a good missionary!) So we met up with her and went by our friend Asli's apartment with Amaru. We had such a great lesson with her about the Book of Mormon! She told us that she didn't want to disappoint us but that she was interested in what we had to say. I told her that the only way she could possibly disappoint us was to listen to us without trying the things we taught for herself. When we give commitments to people we are providing them an opportunity to learn for themselves and receive the blessings of the Gospel. She told us that she would read and always try the things we asked her. That takes faith! After the lesson Amaru had us come to the restaurant she works at for dinner. I had some delicious manicotti! (Mom, don't worry. Yours is still the best in all of the world!) 

Sunday was interesting! We started off by going to the church that Charles invited us to... I don't know how to talk about this experience. I do not mean to offend or belittle in the slightest. It is a strong belief in our Church, in fact so much so that it is included in our "Articles of Faith" that "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." We met Charles at a metro stop and walked with him to church. There were about a hundred people walking with us and I started to realize what we were going into. We walked into a very large building that resembled an events center and it hit me. There was a stage and flashing lights and stadium seating and a band playing. Everyone was really nice and happy to see us but got a little fidgety when they saw our tags. The church (all in French) started with singing about our Savior in a very uncomfortable way. They were talking a lot about money and the need for tithing and I started reading the pamphlet they gave everyone which was basically a listing of events the church was holding that all cost hundreds of dollars. The whole time I was just in awe at how the people were being misled and blinded by a very nice and eloquent man they called their pastor. He was claiming to heal people on stage and that he was talking with Jesus right then and would have these one sided conversations in the air and told everyone how the church needed tithing. He was very crafty about the way he did it. It was really sad, honestly. I had a great time there and seeing the way other people worship and getting to know other people but man—I was just absolutely shocked to see how far the honest and simple truths of the Gospel had been taken and twisted. Yes, tithing is important, in fact so much so that it is a commandment. But the prerequisite to that is that the tithing is being used by the Lord's own Church and watched over by His chosen leaders. I wanted so badly to walk to the front, stand on the stage and show the congregation what they were missing. To spell out the simple truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I cannot say how badly I ached to do something! I am almost upset that I let it happen in front of my eyes. Anyways, we thanked Charles for bringing us and thanked everyone we met for being so kind to us and then left to our meetings. I was so happy to be asked to pass the Sacrament that day and reflect on the glorious responsibility it is to hold the Priesthood. It meant so much to me. I am so glad to know that amidst all of the confusion and turmoil in the world there is truth. There is light and there is peace. It is within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The peace and joy that have felt in my life can never be taken away knowing that I have a Father in Heaven who loves and cares deeply for me. So much so that He gave His Son Jesus Christ to provide a way to overcome our sins and be forgiven and made clean so that we can live in peace. He has given us His plan which cannot fail because of His Son who did not fail! Christ has overcome all and we can as well! Let the Gospel change your life and I promise you that it will. You are never too far out of reach for God to bless you and bring you back. Have faith enough to act on the promptings you feel and I promise you will be blessed. I am so happy to be sharing this message with the people I come in contact with each day. 

Thank you for your support in your letters and kind words! I am having the time of my life out here! To all of my friends who are serving or preparing to serve—may God bless you in your efforts! Stay strong and carry on!

Avec l'amour,

Elder Ellis

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

SEVENTEEN


Joyeux Noël tout le monde!

I hope that Christmas was just wonderful for all of you! You know, this was my very first Christmas away from my family! But we weren't all that far away, really. I was blessed to be raised in a family who knows and understands the meaning of Christmas, so as I upheld family traditions and remembered the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I could feel them close by. Oh! That and the fact that I got to Skype them!! It was so good to see my family still surviving without me!

Okay so here's the deal. Today is Boxing Day in Canada and that means that the Apple Store was packed and no one was at the mission office and the backup library we use was closed. I am finishing this email on one of the YSA's laptops but we need to clean the church. I hate not being able to tell you about my weeks here but I just never get enough time to do my emails. Here are a few quick highlights of my week:

I celebrated Christmas for the first time away from my home and family!

I donated blood for the first time... cool experience! I set a goal to donate 10 times on my mission!

I finished the Book of Mormon again on Christmas Eve! The very first time I finished it was on Christmas Eve back in 2005 (I think...) so it was fun to be able to do it again!

I built an 18 foot Eiffel Tower out of streamers for a YSA dance themed "A Night in Paris."

Alrighty, I have toilet duty so I need to get cleaning! I promise we'll make some changes on p-days so I can start writing some decent emails. Thanks for all of the letters and Christmas cards you've sent me! I really do appreciate each one that I get. I'm trying my best to write back! 

Elder Ellis

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A MESSAGE



Monday, December 24, 2012

SNOWMISSIONARIES


Monday, December 17, 2012

SIXTEEN


Bonjour tout le monde!

Mom, the Christmas card looks great! I was a little worried that was holding you back since I haven't taken the picture yet. I love the picture! Speaking of pictures (and because I have only 10 minutes—we have a few Elders coming to stay with us for the Christmas party tomorrow and we have to get over to Villa Maria for a zone activity in a bit) I'm just going to send some pictures and maybe a couple captions.

The very first picture I took in Montréal


First day at the Mission Home

Halloween with the YSA

Look at the architecture here!


We've found our own ways to access Google here...

Metro performers

Thanksgiving Dinner!  (L to R:  Rachel, me, Elder Baker, Guillame, and Caitlin!)

"Sax Guy"

Poutine!  This stuff is the best!

At a Zone Study.  My shirt is just a little untucked...that's not fat :)

Caitlin made us cookies and we wanted to take a super awkward photo

A clothing exchange with the YSA

Long crazy story...but somehow I ended up with JDawgs sauce and I put it on everything I eat

Our Christmas Tree

I love all of you! Thanks for the letters and kind words! Merry Christmas!

Elder Ellis








Monday, December 10, 2012

FIFTEEN


Bonjour et Joyeux Noël!

Hello from Montréal! Well, as of this morning it has just started to snow! I hear that Utah is looking nice and white! I am so excited for Christmas (understatement of the decade...) I don't know if I've already written this but I'll be spending this Christmas Eve with a good friend, Phil. His family has us over for dinner once a week. I love them! I'm especially excited because there is a chance that we might be able to attend Christmas Mass—something that I've always wanted to do!—at the huge cathedral here called St. Joseph's. Then I'll be spending Christmas Day with the Glowa family! Christmas has always been such a big deal to me! I was writing Nicole earlier last week trying to explain just how much fun I have had during this season in the past. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for always making it mean so much! I am so sorry about the last two weeks and my lame emails! Let's get into this last week!

Last Monday ended amazingly at Family Home Evening with the YSA. We met a wonderful girl named Kayla who came with her friend April to the activity. She seems really interested and already has a lot of friends at the YSA. I am so grateful to be working with them! The activities that we have throughout the week are such a great way to introduce the Branch along with the Gospel to our investigators. 

Tuesday was busy! Elder Baker and I had to run to the store to pick up a few things that we forgot to buy the day before for the apartment. We are trying our best to make more of our own food to learn to cook better and be more healthy. Mom, you should send a few more of your delicious recipes! We met Cedric at Lotto Québec (Québec's main lottery company) because he wanted to show us his office and give us some music for the upcoming Christmas concert. I'll write more about that later. It was weird being in that building because it honestly felt like being in enemy territory! I couldn't help but laugh walking around in the halls—we kept getting funny looks. Afterwards we grabbed lunch with Elder Baker, Elder Smith, and Phil before they left to their new areas. We went to a place called Boccadio's, a really good Venezuelan restaurant, and got a big basket of beef empanadas. We got to the office and Sister Arhets asked me to run over to their apartment and "fix their internet" for them so Elder Baker and I went over with them to see what we could do... It was so messed up. But I got everything working and she gave us some really good candy-cane ice cream. It seems like just about every week I am going to someone's apartment and fixing something for them. President Cannon should just have me be the tech-guy for the mission! That night after knocking, Asli invited us to her final concert at McGill! We went and it was amazing! She played a harp duet and there were violins and cellos and ah! It was just amazing! We are trying to set up more frequent lessons with her—finals have been keeping everyone busy it seems!

Wednesday was transfers day! One of Elder Baker's companions came over in the morning to say goodbye before he left for home and we had a fun little reunion down in the lobby of our building! Our building is so nice! It honestly looks and feels like a 5-star hotel! I absolutely love living downtown!! We took Merianne, a less active in the YSA, to an employment session with Elder Aloi to see if we could possibly get her a new job that would allow her to come to church on Sundays. While we were at the chapel we practiced some of the music that Cedric had given us. We got to meet the new Sisters! (The YSA now has Elder Baker and me, and Sœur Nilsen and Sœur Lopez.) We are so excited to work with them! They'll be able to bring a whole new energy to the YSA! The Zone Leaders wanted to grab lunch with us so we went to a little pizza parlour. After knocking we went to sports night with a few of our investigators and I dominated—as always :)

Thursday we had our Zone Study and I got to meet a lot of new Elders from other areas that had just come in. We did a few fun role-play activities and talked about establishing our "Mission Culture." It was one of my favourite meetings so far! We went knocking after having lunch together, and found a great building! I'm sure that knocking is super different here than any other area in the mission because you can knock a single building for a week and never a single block in a month! We try to spread out as much as we can, though. Phil invited us over for dinner with his mom and sister, both non-members. On the way out to his house, I had a wonderful conversation on the bus with a kid about my age who loves hacking. It was funny because I struck up the whole conversation based on a sticker I saw on his bag—the Linux penguin. I really have been prepared by the Lord to do this work and to talk to the people that I have. There are some people that I've run into that I honestly feel like no one else could touch the way that I can. I don't mean to say that out of pride or anything of the like—we are all unique! We helped Phil move some furniture around his house because of the remodel that they're in the middle of. We had a great night with them!

...I just looked at the time. I have to run! AH! The best parts of the week were coming up! Sorry, I guess I haven't acquired the skill of writing good letters like my brother has! I'll do my best to finish this week's experiences in the next letter or in a letter home.

Bises! (In France it means "kisses!" but here it means "lots of love!")

Elder Ellis

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FOURTEEN


Bonjour tout le monde!

Okay, I am so super sorry that you're going to get two really lame emails in a row. This morning we were asked to help move one of the new senior missionary couples into their new apartment and it ended up taking all day. I have to get going to Family Home Evening with the YSA in a bit (technically, P-Day is over but we were told that we could still take a few minutes to send an email home) so I'll try to get as much in as possible! I won't be able to do a day by day breakdown so I'll just throw in some of my favourite memories of the week.

Well first off, I didn't get transferred! I'll be staying with the YSA for this transfer! I was so happy to hear that I get to keep working with them. I've made a lot of amazing friends here and they are all so excited to help in the work! I got my first "in the field" haircuts. Let’s just say that at the end of the day my 5 o'clock shadow is longer than my sides...Okay, it isn't that short but it is definitely the shortest I've ever had it. I asked one of the missionaries in our building to give me a haircut because he does them for everyone and I figured it must be for a reason! He had me pick out the length and I told him 22mm on the top and 19mm on the sides (the regular numbering system isn't in use here for some reason?) He did the top and then moved on to the sides and the second he started cutting I realized something was wrong. He looked really nervous and I saw a longer chunk of hair than expected fall to the ground. He ended up using the 9mm instead of the 19mm--and then tried to fix it by going shorter and shorter. It's okay, though. It'll grow back before I see everyone in 2 years!

Let's see, what else? Oh, I am coming close to finishing the Book of Mormon for the first time in the field! I've been putting more focus into reading it each morning lately and I've found that it has helped me immensely! For the longest time it never occurred to me why my days seemed better and my mind worked more efficiently after reading the Book of Mormon. I would always explain it in lessons with investigators by not explaining it--let me explain. It's easy to say, "For some reason, my days are just better." But the smallest chase will lead to the simple truth which is: by reading from the Book of Mormon, the Book of books, you receive a portion of the Spirit. You'll remember that in the Doctrine and Covenants that Spirit is Light (84:45) and again in D&C 93:37 that Light and truth forsake that evil one. I don't know about you, but the root of every bad day I've ever had in my life has been "that evil one." Why not forsake him? Here, take this list of synonyms of “forsake” and make it personal. Why not [desert,|leave,|leave high and dry,|turn on'e back on,|cast aside,|break (up) with,|jilt,|strand,|leave stranded,|leave in the lurch,|throw over,|walk out on,|run out on,|dump,|ditch,|can,|abandon,|relinquish,|dispense with,|disclaim,|disown,|disavow, discard,| wash one's hands of,|give up, drop,| jettison,|do away with,|ax,|ditch, scrap,|scrub,|junk,|forswear] the evil one? My personal favourite is leave high and dry. Read your scriptures each and every day and I promise you that you can (insert your favourite synonym here) the evil one from your life. And I promise that your days will be better, your time more well spent, your mind opened up to the will of God for you in your own life.

Mmmk, I've got to get going. Next week I will do my absolute best to write a proper sized email!

Je vous aime tous!

Elder Ellis

Monday, November 26, 2012

THIRTEEN


Bonjour tout le monde!

In 1 one week there are 7 days; in 7 days there are 168 hours; and in those 168 hours there are 10080 minutes; which breaks down to 604800 seconds. The point is that I've loved and cherished each and every one of those seconds this week! I've grown so much and learned a thing or two as well!

I don't have much time today to write a decent email detailing the past week but I'll give it my best shot! First things first, The Westovers! This past week was Thanksgiving, and seeing as Thanksgiving for the Ellis family is synonymous with Thanksgiving for the Westover family, I obviously thought about them quite a bit! I got a nice letter from Hailey a week ago (Hailey, I'm going to try to write you back today!) Then just a few days ago I got my copy of the November Ensign and the first thing I see is my sister-in-law (ha! I had to!) Brooklynn staring back up at me! That was just about as cool as me sharing the front page with President Monson! (Ellis-2 Westover-1! Now's your time to shine, Brian, do something nuts and get in the news! I'm still waiting to hear the results of the golf trip in Houston! Kidding, love you guys!)

Monday ended unexpectedly! After I finished my last email, Elder Baker and I went and played basketball and volleyball with the rest of our zone. We were supposed to have a lesson with Caitlin before FHE started but she didn't show up and we were a little worried because we couldn't get ahold of her. We didn't stay for FHE because we didn't have any investigators there so we decided to go the hospital to see Steve again—great news! He was discharged and sent home! The power of Priesthood blessings is real. Just as we were taking the elevator up to our apartment we got a call and heard that Caitlin had been assaulted in the metro while defending someone with a disability! I was so worried. The Branch President was at the hospital with her and she told us what had happened. I am so humbled to be in the position to "teach" someone who so clearly understands what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Caitlin is the real teacher it seems like. She has so much faith and her heart is right. I can't wait until the day she gets baptized—I pray each night that her parents will come to an understanding with her. 

Tuesday was great! (I can only give one point from each day, I'm really stretching out my time.) I had Thanksgiving dinner with some of the YSA at Caitlin's house. She was feeling a lot better and made one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I've ever had!

Wednesday we were really busy with appointments. We had district study and talked about service. We had an investigator come to sports night and he seems really interested! The Concordia Elders took us home that night and we got all the way back home just to find out that I had left my bag at the church! They took us back to the church and told us we'd have to ride the metros back home. I got my bag and we got into the metros just in time to see one of the YSA. She told us that she had prayed we would run into her because she is working on her mission papers and there have been some hang ups with the medical side of the things and she wanted a blessing. We were able to give her a blessing in the laundry room of our building with the Chinese elders. I am glad that I forgot my bag that night. The Lord works in mysterious ways to answer the prayers of others. A lot of people get hung up on learning to distinguish the voice of the Spirit in their lives. I've learned to not worry about that so much—as long as we are striving to serve and we are worthy, He will use us. Just act on the promptings you receive when you receive them.

Thursday we met with a less active member and she referred us to her brother. (Times up!)

Friday we met with another less active and taught about scripture study.

Saturday was great! 

Sunday was Sunday—the best day of the week!

I am so sorry about this super lame email. You can just trust me that it was an awesome week!

Elder Ellis