Never Been More Thankful to Live in a Poor, Dangerous, Strange Country in My Life!


Well, this week went by really fast, and I found out I have changes coming.  I’m a little saddened by that because this area has been my home for the past four months and the work is really picking up. My companion and I have been working much better together, and I have tried to work harder and be more obedient, and as I’ve done that, I’ve really seen the blessings of the Lord.

We have found some wonderful families and people that have opened up to our teaching.  A few weeks ago we had some baptisms and one of my worries was how we were going to find [other] people, because in my mind, after the baptisms we had nothing.  We had no progression investigators and few investigators at that.  I knew we were going to have to dig in and start working harder to find people, which would’ve meant a lot of contacting, which I really don’t like to do. It’s not very effective and I can’t really speak to people that well either, so... I also kind of hit a real low in the past five months of my mission and I was really frustrated with a lot of things.  But the past two weeks, I’ve really tried to be exactly obedient, more humble, and I’ve tried to work harder.  And with a bit of help from the Lord, my companion and I are doing great.  I have seen the Lord bless me as I’ve tried to be a better missionary.

I have related a few experiences of people that I believe were prepared by the Lord. I’m glad to say we’ve had a few more pop up.  I just want to share how awesome the familia Espinal are.  They are a recent convert family that we baptized in December, and because of them, we have two new investigators.  They live in an apartment complex and one of their neighbors went with them to a Christmas devotional broadcast.  And last week he said he wanted to go to church with Hermana Espinal. We stopped by and taught him and we even had a member there, and it was awesome.  I think it was one of the best lessons we’ve taught.  And amazingly, this kid is probably one of ten kids in Honduras that doesn’t have a girlfriend, doesn’t do drugs or drink, has a job, and has a religious background. So I have hope that we can get him baptized.  

Also, we have found a new investigator in Hermana Espinal’s daughter.  She has been living with them since December and she expressed when we she got here, that she didn’t like the missionaries and didn’t want us coming over everyday.  Slowly we have worked and just kept inviting her. She said to her mom the other day that she wants to be baptized. She still won’t admit anything like that in front of us, but we find everything out from her mom.  The ward has been fellowshipping her and she is going to activities with the young women on Saturday.  She went to church yesterday, and we even got her to pray too.  It’s a funny story….we told her it was her turn because we always pray and she said no. So my companion said, we’ll play a game.  He said he had a number in his head between one and 20 and whoever guessed it didn’t have to pray.  She cheated because her brother could see it and told her. So he extended it from 1 to 30 and covered his hand so no one could see.  Now my companion really likes Taylor Swift and sometimes he sings the song 22.  So as we are guessing, he starts humming that song and I immediately guess 22 and I was right. So that evened the score out because she won once and then I won. One more time and she had to pray. So we got her to pray! It was funny.

We also are teaching a lady, that when we met her, she said straight up, I don’t like Mormons.  And now she’s interested! So I can see the Lord helping us out! This work is His, I know for a fact, and I’m so glad I get to help.  Oh ya we had a baptism this Saturday too! It was a 9-year old in a part member family that we are working with.  We didn’t know we would have a baptism till Thursday.  So it was a real crazy weekend. But thanks to the increased help of the members, everything worked out good! I’ve been amazingly blessed the past few weeks.  We had interviews with President Dester and he gave me some awesome advice. We got to go to a meeting with Elder Suarez of the presidency of the seventy, and I bought some new boots!  So yah, todo macanudo as they say here in Honduras!

Again, I know this is the Lords work and I’m so glad I get to see his helping hand! I know this church is true and that we have a prophet in this day. And I know the scriptures are truly the word of God and that we can receive revelation for our lives in them.  Never been more thankful to live in a poor, dangerous, strange country in my life!
Love you all!  Elder Ollis

(Check out the new pictures on the Mission Field Pictures Tab)

I Love the Mission!


This week was a pretty good week.  I had my ingrown toenail removed Tuesday and I couldn’t walk outside because it was pouring and I couldn’t get my toe wet or muddy.  So that was a little frustrating, but it is what it is.  It’s healing now and it doesn’t hurt to walk anymore so that’s always a bonus.  This week the weather has been awesome.  It’s rained a couple days and has been rather cold for Honduras.  I even had to break out the raincoat once in the morning because I was so cold.  So that was pretty awesome.  But the most amazing thing this week was we had another person that was prepared to hear us!

My companion and I were walking back to our house after lunch with a member and we stopped a mototaxi.  I had ridden with the driver before and didn’t have a very high opinion of him I won’t lie.  The first time I met him he had yelled at a homeless man that walks around the area and harassed him.  But this time he was very calm.  He asked us a few questions about the church and my companion shared that the church helps people.  He mentioned that he needed an operation on his leg. We said we would love to come and visit and he said sure.   I remember thinking that maybe he would listen to us so we would pay for his operation. He said he would show us his house as we drove to our house.  Well, he showed us and then he drove us to his gate and we went inside and taught a lesson. It was definitely unexpected, and our first lesson was the Word of Wisdom.  So it was definitely a surprising experience. But they were very kind and open and we have a return visit with them, and I have hope for this family.  They are even married! That takes care of pretty much the biggest problem with teaching families.  I know they were prepared by the Lord.  

I’m so grateful that the Lord is allowing me to have these experiences and that I can see His hand in this work.  Things are getting better here in the branch also.  We had members in our lessons a lot this week and we even had a branch council meeting yesterday in church.  The branch has set some goals for the missionary work in the area and they have taken more of the responsibility on themselves.  That is something I’ve been waiting for.  It makes me a little sad though, because I may be leaving the area in February.  I know as I strive to be obedient and worthy and ready to have the spirit as a guide in the day, the Lord will bless us with more people to teach. 

Just on another note, today just happens to be the five-month mark for me.  Wow! I honestly haven’t felt these five months.  Thinking back to before the mission, time seemed to go so slow.  The school year was forever, and my sister said that she’s halfway done with school already.  My brother is almost finished with wrestling season and I always felt that wrestling season was so long. Wow, what a rush these past five months have been.  I have learned so much.  I thought about the rest of the time I have in the mission and how fast it’s moving.  Before I know it, I’ll be back with my family. I won’t put on a black tag every morning, and I will have to worry about worldly things again.  And that’s sad.  I have loved the past five months more than anything.  I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had, the things I’ve learned and the testimony I’ve gained.  I know as I’ve seen how fast the mission goes, I want to work harder, to be more obedient, to be the best missionary I can be everyday, because its going by incredibly fast and I don’t want to waste it.  It’s not fair, ha ha. I know I’m going to put in more effort to do those things. But I love this gospel and I know the things I’ve learned have changed my life. Before the mission, the gospel was a lot of confusion in my head, and now it couldn’t be more simple.  The scriptures are amazing.  I love them.  They truly are the word of God.  I know every time I read them I can learn and grow.  I’ll often read and think to myself, that verse was not there the last time I read this book.  There’s no way I could miss something this profound.  But it’s true.  The scriptures constantly have new meaning in my life and I’m so grateful for the power they possess.  I’m so grateful for the prophet and the apostles as well.  I know they are called of God.  They are such examples to me and I’m so glad that I get the chance to be a special witness of Jesus Christ just like them.  I know as we heed their words, our lives will be so much better. During my language study I’ve started studying the Liahona with the past conference addresses because I didn’t understand anything in October, ha ha.  I’m so very grateful for this gospel I can’t even begin to explain how much.  That’s all for me this week!
Elder Ollis

In a separate letter to mom:  I’m just going to answer mom’s questions….  We went to a clinic with the mission nurse and they numbed my toe, took forceps and pulled the whole infected part up and out of my skin and cut it out.  They only removed half of my toenail. I promise, it was a nice clinic. Thomas has pictures.  It was a little painful the day of and after, but I rested the day after and it’s healing now. I’m wearing shoes and no pain meds or anything. The problem may be my shoes.  I’m looking to buy some boots with round toes soon.  Also, the sole of one of my shoes has a hole.  I’m really happy about that!

Just an update on the sister we found last week, her husband came back.  She didn’t come to church this week. She said she felt like she was at the first day of school last week at church.  But she wants to go to a Relief Society activity and her husband has expressed interest in reading the Book of Mormon.  So I think we will be able to work with them a lot!

We Walked All the Way Till There Wasn't Any More Road


This week was pretty good. I have a really massive ingrown toenail that exploded this morning, leaking a whole lot of fluids and I’m going to get the nail removed tomorrow. But hey that’s just life I guess.   I’m still learning patience and humility, and things are getting better. My companion and I have been looking for new investigators lately because we’ve had to drop some people [off our teaching pool] and we’ve baptized some of our investigators. It’s never really very effective to go door-to-door contacting, or just to pick a random house.  But we did have a really cool experience that I will share.  

My previous companion never really showed me all of our area because it’s huge.  But my companion and I have really tried to figure out our area.  The other day we had a lot of our lessons fall through, so we just kept walking in one direction.  I felt kinda bad and I felt like we should go find someone to teach and that we were wasting time.  But I just let it go and didn’t say anything to my companion. I just thought, “yeah it’s fine, we are learning our area.”  We kept walking and found ourselves on a road that just kept going farther and farther. It was the farthest reaching road in that area.  We walked all the way till there wasn’t any more road, and my companion just decided to contact this house.

We started to talk to this lady and she told us how she had talked to missionaries before, but she hadn’t seen missionaries in five years.  We also found out that her husband disappeared a few days ago and she was really worried.  We shared a short message with her, and she said after that it gave her peace.  We went back and taught the first lesson to her about Joseph Smith and again she said our visits gave her a lot of joy.  She was at church this week and I have hope she will be baptized soon. It was just one of those missionary experiences you hear about.  There is no doubt in my mind that she has been prepared to listen. And I’m so glad I got to experience it!

I just want to share my testimony that this gospel is true. I’m so glad that I know the things I know.  I know the Book of Mormon is true and I love it!  I’m so glad for the opportunity I have to go on a mission and to teach this people!  The mission teaches so many good things for life afterwards, that I don’t know how everyone doesn’t go!  I know that everyone has weaknesses, and the awesome thing about missions is that as long as we are giving our best effort the Lord will make up the rest.  It’s exactly the same in life.  It is only by grace that we are saved, as I read this morning in the scriptures, and we are imperfect.  We always make mistakes.  But as we strive to be obedient, we are promised we will be forgiven for our sins and Jesus Christ will make up the difference because of His atonement.  What a gift that is.

Something else that I thought about as we taught the plan of salvation this week, is that part of the difference between the kingdoms of glory after this life, is that in the Terrestial and Telestial kingdom we will always be looking up at the Celestial kingdom.  The glory we could have had and the opportunity to live with Christ and our Father in Heaven forever.  When the scriptures say weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, that’s why I think people are doing that.  They realize they lost so much.  That just makes me want to strive to be more obedient to be able to be accepted into the Celestial kingdom on that judgment day.  I know that as we strive to do this, and rely on the Atonement, we can attain that glory and exaltation. I’m glad I can help people achieve the same by teaching them this gospel.  Anyways, that’s all for me this week!

Elder Ollis

(Make sure you check out the Mission Field Pictures Tab!  We received many great new photos!)

Trust In The Lord and Realize You're Imperfect


Well, I don’t have much time to write this week.  I’m just really learning to rely on the Lord more than I ever have in my life.  The past few weeks have been really frustrating to me. This work is really hard, but something that I’ve taken strength in, is the Lord’s support for His missionaries.  I know I can’t speak this language.  I know I can’t teach very well.  I know that people don’t like to listen to us.  I wonder how I will find new people to teach when everyone already has a religion and doesn’t want to change.  I wonder when I will be able to teach effectively.  I wonder if I’m doing enough.   I wonder if the people we teach will stay active.  I worry about everything, and really I shouldn’t.  But the past few weeks, I’ve tried to just stop worrying.  I know I’m not perfect and maybe even not that good of a missionary, but I know that as I try my hardest, put forth my best effort, study like I should, be obedient like I should, and always keep trying, the Lord will make up the difference.  That is the only way He can work with imperfect people.  

This is His work and I know that something as simple as another language is so insignificant to His plan for the gospel to be spread to all the earth.  I know the Lord will make His will be done.  As I strive to be a worthy servant in his work, I know He will help me when I fall short.  And I’m so thankful that I have that reassurance.  What more do I need?  I’m so glad I get to help spread this gospel and be a missionary and enjoy this experience.   I’m so glad for the things I have learned.  And I will recommend a mission to anyone.  So people like my three cousins who should be preparing to go, if you’re not, do it!  Trust in the Lord and realize you’re imperfect.  But with trust in the Lord, He will help you and me.  As we have trust in Him, our worries are comforted and life is much better.  I know that’s true.  I love you all, and trust in the Lord.  

Elder Ollis  

The Mission is Definitely Changing Me


Well I’m going to make it quick this week. I’m tired and its been a really long week, so I don’t have much to say.  We had a baptism Friday for the couple that we’ve been working with.  We finally got them married and then baptized!  So besides the fact that baptisms are the most stressful thing in the world, because we have to call all the members to come and plan it all ourselves and clean the church the day of, it was great because they were really ready to get baptized.  What a great day!

Like I said, this week was really hard.  I’m getting really frustrated with the fact that no one understands what I’m saying still, my lessons are really bad, and I feel like I’m not doing anything. I feel like this isn’t how it should be going.  I’m worried the spirit isn’t with us a lot, and I don’t know maybe I’m looking for the burning bush when it’s really only a match….. I want to be a lot better than I am right now.  I want to be able communicate with people and I can’t.  So that frustration has really hit an all-time high.  But I also think this will definitely be a learning experience.  Like I have said in other letters, I think this experience will make my faith grow.  I’m going to have to rely on the lord and His power.  I may feel like I’m doing nothing, but there are a lot of things I can’t see too.  I have to have faith that the people will understand me and that the spirit will speak to them.  I have to have faith that people will keep commitments.  I have to have faith that I can do this, and that I was called here for a reason.  I have to have faith that I’m doing something important even though I feel like I’m not doing enough. And above all, I need to remember that this is the Lord’s work and it will carry on how He wants it too. I think I’m going to learn a bit of humility.  I don’t like looking dumb, and learning a new language tends to make you look dumb a lot.  So I need to learn humility and just accept help in the language, in the lessons, and in other things that I need to change.  I also think I will learn a bit of patience.  I can’t expect everything to be perfect at first, or ever really. Jordan Burroughs didn’t get good at wrestling in four months, and I can’t expect that I will be an awesome missionary in four months either. I just need to be patient and continually try to be better. So your letters today really helped me.  I also do need to work a little harder because as I do that, all the other worries I have won’t be important.  I need lose myself in the work as the saying goes. And I’m exhausted all the time, so maybe I’m doing that part right.  But I feel like I’m not and can always do more for sure.  So I’ve got some things to learn.  The mission is definitely changing me!  Love you guys! 

Elder Ollis

Hearing and Seeing Is Believing!

12/24/2013 - (post made by Elder Ollis' mom)

Elder Ollis Christmas Eve 2013

Hearing and Seeing really is believing!  

We were privileged to visit with Elder Ollis via skype on Christmas Eve day.  He traveled to the "city" and was at a local Internet Cafe where we had a wonderful visit.  And being able to see him and hear his voice was a wonderful Christmas gift!  

Elder Ollis shared wonderful testimony of the things he is experiencing in Honduras and was very honest about the struggles and challenges of his mission.  However, he also shared some wonderful stories of people and experiences that have changed his life forever.  He is learning and growing in the language and culture, but especially in the gospel he was called to share.  He expressed his feelings of gratitude for the experiences he is having and for the gospel.  We received some great counsel and insight from him and cherished every moment spent talking with him.

Elder Ollis and Mario
It was also apparent that some things never really change.  As we were talking, a little boy started to appear in the left of the screen.  We asked who it was and Elder Ollis replied, "I have no idea.  This is Honduras."  He leaned over and conversed with him and returned to the screen by introducing "Mario" who wanted to say hello.  He scooted over next to Elder Ollis and waved hello.  He was then glued to his side and listened intently to what we were saying.  Typical Elder Ollis.....the "kid magnet"

We were also able to talk to his companion, Elder Reyes, for a few minutes and he shared his love and appreciation for Elder Ollis as well.  Elder Ollis asked for us to express his gratitude to all those who have sent letters and emails, "they are the things that keep him going."

We love you all and appreciate your love and prayers!  Best wishes for a wonderful new year!

Love, Tom and Leslie and family