Those Who Have Gratitude Are Content


Well, I don’t feel like I have much to write today.  Sorry I’m a day late.  We had to stay in the house for three days because of the elections here. So I guess that’s why I don’t really have much to write. We haven’t done much the past few days.  But the past week we got to see a bit of the really crazy side of Honduras.  In Cofradia it’s pretty peaceful, so we didn’t have much of a problem, but I don’t know about other places.  

I just want to share a small quote I heard in a multi-zone conference we had recently.  It’s by Jeffery R Holland. He said that missions aren’t easy because salvation isn’t easy.  It was never meant to be easy.  The Savior didn’t have it easy so why should it be easy for me?  Typical Elder Holland, just blowing my mind. So I have thought about that.  The mission is hard.  People don’t want to listen, and I remember he also said that we get just a tiny taste of how the Savior felt when the people didn’t listen to Him. That is so true.  I cannot begin to imagine all that the Savior felt, but I know it’s hard, just from what I have experienced.  I know that this quote will also give me strength when I have hard days.  I can think about how the Savior had His mission which was indescribably difficult. And then I can think about how He accomplished his mission, and I know that will give me strength to accomplish mine.  

I just want to talk a little about tithing.  The pamphlet we give people explains that when we pay tithing, we learn to be happy with what the Lord has given us, and trust that he will provide enough for us.  That was something I never thought about. It definitely is true that those who have gratitude are content. And that is something I’ve learned here as I’ve realized what a good life I have had. I need to continue to be grateful and look for the little things!  Our mission president actually talked about being grateful at our zone conference. He talked about how we should all make a list of 100 things we are thankful for.  And yet again you were right on topic.  Love you mom and I’m so grateful for you!

I’m so thankful I have two years to be a representative of Jesus Christ, to really learn the scriptures and the gospel, and share it with others. I’m so very thankful for all that I have learned so far and that I have 20 more months to keep learning!  And I can’t believe how fast these past months have been.  I don’t want to go home and I promise I’m not worried about that.  I’m so thankful for my companion that can help me improve my Spanish, and that he wants to work hard.  I’m so thankful for our house that has running water and electricity.  I’m thankful for the members that feed us and that I never go hungry. I’m thankful for the scriptures that I can read and learn and feel the spirit and receive revelation. I’m thankful I have the opportunity to talk with my Heavenly Father through prayer.  I’m thankful for our investigators and for all the people that have given us the opportunity to share the gospel. I’m thankful for the priesthood and the opportunity I have to hold it and to serve others with it.  I’m thankful for my family more than I can explain, especially my parents.  I’m so thankful for the way I was raised and the things I was taught. Without my parents constantly prodding me before my mission, I don’t think I would be here. They are so amazing and I now realize why they do the things they do for me. And I feel bad I was such a turd before my mission.  I’m thankful for my leaders at home that helped prepare me for this mission and I’m so thankful that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. I’m thankful that I have a Savior who atoned for my sins, so I can return to live with God again, if I am righteous.  I’m thankful for the modern day prophet we have to guide us.  I’m thankful for so much, and I’m not really a good writer, so I can’t describe them all.  But that’s all I have right now. Love you all and thank you for being my family!  Have a good week! And buy a dog!

Elder Ollis

A New Companion, and It Turns Out We Both Studied Charity


Sunshine and Rain in Paraiso 

To answer Sydney’s questions about my area…the houses are either cement or corrugated metal and wood.  A lot of houses don’t have windows.  Having a washing machine is for people that are well off.  People throw their garbage in a pile and burn it.  Most roads are dirt.  It’s always hot and humid and rains a little in winter. When it rains the people go inside and sleep or drink coffee because it’s cold.  Motorcycles are popular. Moto taxis are used a ton and school buses are frequently driving around as the city buses. There are tons of different churches and people put religious stickers all over their cars.  We are surrounded by mountains…. and the light every morning on the mountains out our window is awesome.  My camera doesn’t do it justice. I will try to get a good picture for you sometime….  Corn is a staple here, rice is very common and chicken is the most popular meat. We have corn tortillas with every meal.  Dogs, chickens and cats run free in the streets. Lizards and frogs are common too.  The people are really uneducated so it’s hard to teach and we have to teach simple lessons. They are also pretty poor. Kids run around naked pretty often, which is a little odd. I have a ton more I could share but, that’s all for now.

…We had transfers and I have a new companion, Elder Reyes. The first day was pretty rough and I couldn’t believe how sad I was about Elder Rivera leaving. But my new companion is from Guatemala and he’s awesome. He lived in Utah for his sophomore and junior year so he speaks a little too much English for my liking, but we are working hard and my Spanish is getting better.  He has five months here and I have three.  We are both eighteen so we are really inexperienced, but we are working like crazy.  He’s really good about talking with everyone and that has helped me grow more confident in my Spanish and talking with people.  I’m exhausted every night.  Elder Amezcua and Chuqisala had to tell me to go to bed one night because I fell asleep kneeling by my bed.

…Mom, I just want to say, that for the past three weeks your topic of choice has been something I learned in the week.  Service and charity, it’s like we have phone calls Sunday night and talk about these things and coordinate them.  Love you much and so glad you’re my mom!  So, this week I got a new companion. In my personal study one morning, I was studying in Preach My Gospel about how to begin teaching investigators. There were scriptures beginning with Moroni 7:46 and to the end of the chapter, and I read it and my study took a whole different approach.  These scriptures are about charity. I learned that I need to have more charity.  Charity suffereth long, beareth all things, endureth all things.  Right now in this area, I need to have charity and bear through the challenges we are facing.  Charity is also the pure love of Christ, and that is what I need to show towards my investigators. I learned a few things from these scriptures and told myself that I would have more charity this week; that I would smile and be happy at all times so these people can see what the gospel can do for them.  I also had been skimming through Preach My Gospel and the section about serving and I read over it too. I prayed for opportunities to serve people this week.

A Week of Service
Then we began companionship study and my companion asked what I studied. It turns out we both studied charity.  We talked about charity, and we both made a resolve to look for opportunities to serve people. God really does answer prayers.  We helped a man move some metal out of the back of his truck and then gave him a pamphlet.  We helped a couple move their belongings into a new apartment.  We have a return appointment with them.  I know that as we serve these people they will see our love and they will be more open to the gospel.  I know these opportunities were an answer to my prayers. As I’ve tried to smile more to everyone and really tried to show my love for these people, this week has been so much better.  Things right now are awesome. My new companion loves working and we are working hard and talking with everyone.  I feel so much more comfortable talking to people. The Spanish is slowly just unfolding in my mind.  

This week was also pretty challenging because I had to show my new companion the area. Turns out I don’t know the area really well.  There are no addresses here in Honduras, so it’s really hard to find places.  Also, my old companion didn’t show me half of our assigned area.  We learned we have another area to go teach in now and that doubled what I thought was in our area. It’s pretty sketchy too.  We walk down in a ravine, over a river and then back out. It looks like something out of The Jungle Book.  We won’t be going there at night. But we met some investigators that the previous companionship had been teaching and they are close to baptism.  So right now, I’m just loving this mission.  

We are working hard. I can understand almost everything right now and I’m still learning more.  It’s awesome here! I’m so tired at the end of the day, and I love it.  I have faith and hope that a few of our investigators will be baptized soon, and also that the ward will get more involved in this work. We are working on getting the branch to have ward councils and missionary coordination meetings.  I have hope that this will work, and the work will move much faster and progress into something better. I love this work and I’m so glad to be here.  I can’t believe it has been three months. Time is flying.  I’m so thankful to be here. That’s all for me.  
Love, Elder Ollis

Dad, you have been an amazing influence in my life. You have taught me so well.  I now realize why you did some of the things you did with me the last few months before I left.  I’m so glad that I have the dad I do and that you are so strong in the gospel and willing to serve. You are an amazing example.  I’ve learned how to work because of you.  My only wish is that I would have listened more to you…I’m so glad I get to come home and help Thomas prepare for a mission.  I’m so excited for him….  You are an amazing dad, and honestly when the time comes I will try to be a father like you. I love you so much and I miss you a ton.  But I’m so glad for the things you are doing at home with school.  Happy Birthday and don’t forget your colonoscopy! 
Love, Elder Ollis

Try to Have Missionary Goggles for Yourself


(We asked Elder Ollis a lot of questions this week, so I have compiled excerpts from his emails to each of us)

My Shoes Need Shining
…I’m feeling better now, so don’t worry about that. Whatever I had has passed.  We have enough water to drink, and sleeping is great, just wish I could get a little more.  I have some time to exercise in the morning, I just don't like getting up earlier to do it.  We have four elders in our house so it's hard to get ready in the time we should be ready.  I really need to exercise though, I think I'm already getting fat….. My clothes are doing pretty good, just getting less and less white as the washings go by.  And yeah, I need to polish my shoes and my others look about the same.  It’s because a plow thing came by on the streets after the rain and scraped everything flat then it rained again so the streets were all muddy.

… I love hearing that you are trying to be a good member missionary.  That’s so important. We don’t have that here and it makes things really hard.  Continue to share the gospel and don’t be afraid to do it.

… This branch, and quite frankly the church here in Cofradia is really unorganized.  Our branch is difficult.  We don’t really even have a fully functioning branch.  There aren’t enough people to fill all the callings, especially priesthood holders.  There is no ward council and now we don’t have a ward mission leader.  There are no home teachers.  Members aren’t particularly interested in being missionaries and helping.  But I love it here nonetheless.  It’s hard.  But as the prophet Joseph Smith learned, “all this will be for your good.”  I know that this is for my good.

…I just want to share that this gospel is awesome and that we need to live it and make it a part of our lives.  We always have to be seeking to progress spiritually.  We can only go forward or backwards, there is no stalling in the middle.  There is no other way.  Please always remember that. I would encourage you to find something more than just work and to always seek to progress spiritually.  This is the time to prepare to meet God and to seek to build the kingdom of God on earth.  That is what we should always seek first in our lives, and should be our ultimate goal.  When people say that missionaries have missionary goggles, I think that is what it really is. Missionaries have that constant view of helping people to prepare to meet God by inviting them to come to Christ through faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end and building the kingdom of God on earth.  That is their goal and view each day.  As we do this, the Lord will take care of all we need. He knows us and what we need in our lives. Try to have the missionary goggles for yourself.

A Typical Morning in Honduras
I’m so happy to be here. I can’t tell you how awesome this experience has been and I honestly can’t see life any different than it is right now.  I love you so much.  Really thanks again so much for the package and the conference talks! 
Elder Ollis

The Lizard in our House

With My Five Weeks of Experience, I Received a Lesson in Patience and Humility


I think I’ve said this about every week here, but this week was one of the hardest in my life. At the beginning of the week, I was really frustrated with my companion and our companionship. I hadn’t really said anything up to that point, but I wanted some things to change.  So naturally, me being me, I wanted to go and yell at him until he listened. There were a few problems with that plan, one being I can’t do that in Spanish yet, and two, I should always love my companion and be humble.  Being humble was the key, and I was missing part of it.

I approached my companion and was thinking about all the things he was doing wrong and what I was going to say to make him change, and I hadn’t given a thought about what I needed to change. I was humble enough to not yell at him, which was good. So the conversation began, and he just sat and listened and agreed that there were a few things that needed to change. And then, with my five weeks of experience, I received a lesson in patience and humility.  My companion explained to me that I needed to accept the fact that sometimes we don’t do everything on our schedule and that things change according to circumstances out of our control. Just like the fact that we can do nothing if people don’t want to listen to our message, we can do nothing when our schedule needs to be changed.  

My idea of mission work had been working hard by walking rapidly to each appointment and moving as fast as possible, just working like mad all the time.  Now I guess that’s not a bad plan, but as I really thought about it, I realized that if I try to work like that and follow the schedule exactly, I will continually be disappointed because we will never be able to keep a fixed schedule.  It’s impossible.  I will always strive to follow the study schedule exactly, but when we are out on the streets, things will always change. My companion, with his 18 months of practice in this kind of patience, really taught me something.  

I had been wondering how to fit everything a missionary needs to do into one day. And you can’t do that.  That is why we are here for two years. We have to take things day by day and plan what needs to be accomplished for each new day. If it changes, it changes.  Now I can still work as hard as possible and I’m planning on it, but I know now that I can’t try and pack everything into one day.  Sometimes we can’t do something one day, and sometimes an appointment doesn’t work out, but we can’t change that. But thank goodness I have 600 plus more days to accomplish that one thing we didn’t have time to do one day because our lesson went long, or to return to those people who weren’t home when we went to talk to them.  Basically, I learned that forcing a schedule on missionary work is like biting off your own hand.  Its impossible and it only hurts you (or your missionary work).  

If we are truly striving to be missionaries that always have the spirit as a guide, as we should, then we would know that if the spirit says to do something not on the schedule, that you follow that prompting immediately and with no doubts whatsoever. You follow the guidance of the spirit in the lesson so that you can help your investigators.  And if the spirit says go for forty minutes when you planned for twenty then you better listen.  That is why we can’t have a “schedule” for missionary work.  We can have a plan, and we should have one each day.  But it is only a rough sketch of how our day might go.  

So, after that things really started improving this week.  I wasn’t anxious to always be moving like before, and me and my companion are really starting to work together. Our lessons are continually improving. This week I really tried to listen and feel the promptings of the spirit during lessons, and on the streets, and I was able to recognize those promptings a little better.  That is something that I need to always improve on. My companion and I (that’s for Grandpa Ron) have really tried to plan more for our investigators’ needs in our daily and weekly planning.  And I’ve seen things improve as we’ve done that.  We got another investigator to commit to a baptism date, which really surprised me honestly, and things were improving.

Then on Friday night we were walking to an appointment, and all of the sudden my body just got really tired. I stopped for a second and I remember saying to my companion that I felt just exhausted, like when you have a cold.  It was really weird. I felt myself start to get sick.  Then three hours later, I had a fever of almost 103 and my head felt like it was being run over by a truck. Now I don’t really know if that’s bad for a fever, but I felt terrible so I think its bad. That night was rough.  I asked for a blessing from my companion and I was able to sleep through most of the night. The next day, my temperature kept jumping between 99 and 102 or so all day, and every time I moved my head it felt like my head was in a trash compactor.  So we rested for most of the day and then went and invited most of our investigators to church.  That was brutal.  My body was completely wasted and I honestly didn’t know if I could walk back to our house at the end of the day……So again I asked for a blessing and prayed very hard….Sunday rolled along and I was able to make it church. 

And the highlight of my week- 8 investigators at church!  I was so happy, mainly because one of our investigators, the one we committed to baptism who hadn’t attended yet, had come and he stayed for the whole meeting. After church we went home and rested again and my fever broke.  We went and visited some of the members who gave me some soup and some medicine. The members are awesome here. They have taken good care of me.  They got mad at my companion for bringing me to church.  But how can I miss church when I teach people they should go to church every week.

But anyway, the conclusion was this.  The past week, we had no power in our area.  When we went to the member’s house that was to feed us lunch, she couldn’t cook anything.  So our lunch was bread and butter.  I ate all my lunch, and was absolutely starving still, so I bought a bag of bread and a bag of butter and ate almost all the bread for lunch.  Apparently that has clogged up my intestines somehow and that’s what made me sick. Its not constipation, just trust me I do not have that problem.  So all this because I’m always hungry and I eat too much.  Serves me right.  So that was the diagnosis of one of the members we talked to, who is a nurse.  I feel like it’s probably true since I feel like I have a giant brick in my lower stomach. So right now my stomach is a little unstable, and I can’t really eat anything solid. Basically I can’t eat really much of anything until this plug in my plumbing gets unstuck. Only liquids or soft foods, like soup and oatmeal.  I had been worried about if I was gaining weight here. Problem solved. 

Things were hard this week, but I’m so glad for the things that I have learned and the things that are improving. I’m thankful to be here in Honduras. There’s no snow, but I can deal with that because there are more important things to do. This gospel is true and I have seen it change people’s countenances and lives. I’m so glad I was raised in it and that I have the opportunity to provide the chance for people to accept it….Mom, I love it here. It’s so hard, but this is so awesome. I’m so glad I’m on a mission.   That is my short testimony for this week. Love you all, miss you all.
Elder Ollis