Monday, December 6, 2010

Joy and Happiness--Christ-Like Love

Hey Everyone!

How is EVERYONE? I feel so out of the loop!! All you people that read from the blog my Mom is keeping up; How are you? Don't be afraid to write! I would love to hear from you all! If you don't know my address it is as follows:

Elder J. Hunter Otis
P.O. Box 1079
Lone Pine, CA 93545

Alright, now no-one has an excuse. You all have my address for sure haha. I still have to update my address book on here so not everyone is able to get my emails. I'm sure you already are, but feel free to forward my emails if you see that I left someone out. This week its just to you guys, haha.

KARI SELDEN!!! You need to tell her that she NEEDS to write me! I can't believe she is coming to my mission!!! That's RIDICULOUS! Is she Spanish or English?? When does she leave? These are the things I NEED to know! I'm still in shock... Hahahaha. How cool is this?

Well, things are fantastic! This past week was great, and we had 6 investigators at church. Our friend Joey has been coming to everything, and recently has been calling US and setting up appointments! How cool is that? He's a great guy. He has really been wanting to receive answers to his prayers, and keeps asking us if he's doing something wrong. We taught him for about 2 hours one night about how to recognize the promptings of the spirit. Once he understood what it feels like, he told us that he has had those feelings a lot! Now, whenever he feels something and were around he speaks up and tells us. Yesterday he came to church, and the stake president was there. Somehow the Stake President knew all about him, haha and told him so. He was shocked, and surprised that someone he has never met cared so much about him. It's just a matter of time before he gets baptized. He is doing all the right things, and came to the Christmas Devotional last night, and then we had our branch Christmas dinner. He loved the music and felt the spirit. We've asked him to be baptized, but he just wants to know more. Hopefully he'll get over that. He feels like he should read the entire book of Mormon before he gets baptized... That won't last long! Not while I'm here!

So, did you have the opportunity to watch the Christmas devotional? It was wonderful! I loved hearing the Choir and Orchestra and of course; the first Presidency. It was cool to have Joey there so he could see and hear who the Prophet is. He really liked it.

Elder Whittier and I are working ever so hard on our Fireside! It's THIS Saturday! We have written up a narration to go with all the songs focused on Christs birth, and then a little portion is about the Restoration. I will send a program and a copy of the narration home next week. We are singing around 12 songs! There are a few congregational hymns and we also have some members of the branch involved. We have a quartet (which I'm a part of) singing Joseph Smiths first Prayer, and a Duet singing Silent Night. Also, a sister will be singing Oh Holy Night. Intense stuff! I have 5 or 6 solos, and Elder Whittier has a couple of Organ solos as well. The town is extremely excited, and many people are planning on coming. We have posters all over town, and are knocking doors and Caroling! We are using the songs of the season to soften peoples hearts, and then inviting them to come to the Fireside. Our goal is to fit as many people as possible into that small branch building. It's going to be great! If you can get someone in that church building once, it's a whole lot easier to do it again. Who can say no to wonderful music? I know I can't! The thing that these people don't know is the spirit is going to be emensley strong while they are there. I hope and pray that they will all feel it. This is my #1 way of conveying my emotions and the spirit that I feel. I'm so grateful that I have this opportunity to share the Gifts that God has given me. That's what this season is all about right? Our loving Heavenly Father gave us His son so that we may be saved through Him. I would be ungrateful if I didn't share what I have been given, when this entire season is all about what Christ selflessly did for us. I bore my testimony at church yesterday and spoke of my childhood, and how in our times of need many people gave us gifts, food to have Christmas dinner, and my favorite; took the time to be our Secret Santas.

During this wonderful season do all that you can to give service, with the intent of receiving nothing in return! I promise you all that as you do so, your faith and testimony will increase. You will bless the lives of others, and cause their hearts to grow as well. Do all that you can to show the rest of Heavenly Fathers children Christ-like love! You never know how kind words will effect the meanest and grumpiest of souls! Be beacons of the Gospel, and strive to remember the true meaning of Christmas! Don't be afraid to say Merry Christmas to all you see!! Political Correctness is a tool of the Devil. By taking religion out of peoples every day lives, he has made people forget what this time of year is all about. Never be afraid to offend! Stand firm in your beliefs, and proclaim the Gospel to all that you see. You WILL be blessed, and joy and happiness will fill your lives.

My dear family and friends... Thank you so much for all the love you give me. Thank you to those of you that have sent me letters, packages, and kept me in your prayers. I truly have felt your prayers and all your love. I hope that my words find you all well. If I have done anything to offend, please... Forgive me. I am imperfect, and at times selfish. Know that I am trying to be better. If I haven't gotten a letter to some of you, I apologize. I promise I will do what I can to find the time.

My time is coming to a close, but I want to leave with you all my sincere testimony. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is without any reservation; Our Lord Jesus Christ' Kingdom on this earth. I testify that everything that Joseph Smith saw and said he saw came to pass. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and is another witness testifying of the truths that are in the Bible. That book contains the fullness of the Everlasting Gospel, and IS THE TRUEST BOOK IN EXISTENCE! I tell you now with every fiber of my soul, that Joseph Smith and all those who assisted him would NOT have laid down their lives and Died.. for something that they fabricated out of thin air. No man filled with such horrible intents as to lead nations astray, and down to hell could write such a wonderful book. I tell you, God bearing witness, that everything that I am here for as a missionary, that everything that the church teaches and proclaims, is true. I hold the Holy Priesthood of God, and have witnessed it's power, and tell you now that it is real. Baptism by someone holding that priesthood power and authority is the ONLY way by which we can step on the path to return to live with our Heavenly Father. Know that I love you all, and am praying for you and hope the best for you. I am so grateful for everything that I have been blessed to go through in life. Those experiences have shaped me to be who I am today, and have better prepared me to do what it is I am currently doing.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Stay safe. Stay righteous. And most of all, stay true to who you are and what you know to be true.

The Gospel is true. It has been restored to the earth in these latter-days to its fulness. I promise you all now that - I LIE NOT. I promise you this in the beloved name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Otis

Monday, November 29, 2010

The New Guy in Lone Pine California

Hey Mom and Dad!!
I'm sorry that I wasn't able to write a long letter to you last week! I only have about 25 minutes here so we'll see how much I get in! This week was amazing! My first thanksgiving out in the Field. We ate at a the branch presidents home, and they have 5 kids that were all home from college. A few of them are married as well with a few kids. It was great! They are a musical family as well, and we sang a lot of songs together. I felt like part of the family for sure. I sang a couple of solo's for them as well! I also got to play a violin, haha! Their daughter has 2 of them and she let me borrow one! So, I've been practicing and plan on performing with it at our fireside. I also have a keyboard, and am able to use the piano's at the church a lot.

We are practicing like crazy! Every night basically from 8 - 9. It's very hard here to have an appointment at that time because this town shuts down at 6... Haha, so we are being very effective and are going to make this fireside as good as possible! We are advertising like crazy. Please pray for us! Pray that many will come. We know that this will ignite a huge spark in the people here, which we need. The people in the branch need hope, and something exciting. Also, we are using this as a huge tool to get many people into that church building. If you can get them in once, it makes it way easier to get them in again! Next week I will email our program to you so you can see what it is we will be performing. It's going to be great!

So, on Tuesday I had a very interesting experience. I met a very mislead soul... We had an appointment with this guy named Allen. He's a very nice man, and he told us he was going to invite a friend who knew a lot of things about the bible. Right away we though "Oh great... This should be fun."

We were ready for a "basher". Well, we get into Allen's home, and everything was great! The spirit was there, and we were having a good talk with him. Then his friend showed up... His name is Kurt, and walked in with a backpack full of stuff. Instantly the spirit left. He sat down, and was nice at first. Then the storm began. He had every anti-mormon book known to man! He came at us and was extremely rude, and spouted off all kinds of blasphemy towards our church. We didn't react, and just testified of the truth that we know. He accused us of worshiping a fake Jesus, etc. We were handling this all well, because nothing he said was truth, and a lot of it was just plain Stupid. Anyway, then he started in on Joseph Smith... This is when I got very upset, as did my companion. I'm very proud of us though! We didn't react at all. We politely told them we had to leave, and walked out. He yelled at us all the way out and told us not to come back to teach Allen.

Allen was very embarrassed. He came out with us and apologized. I told him not to worry about it, and then shook his hand and looked into his eyes and told him in all the seriousness that I could muster that we believe in the same Jesus Christ, and that he loves each and every one of us. I told him to never forget that. He said "I know, and I wont."

He's a very good guy, I think he's just a little vulnerable. I felt very bad for him! I hope he gets away from that poisonous man! How can someone say they are a follower of Christ and be so Contentious and say such horrible things!? Would Christ ever say any of those things, even if they were true? I think not. After them, we prayed to have to spirit return, because it was sucked away like a vacuum. We then taught a wonderful lesson to a wonderful couple and they are now investigating the church! The spirit returned, and I felt wonderful.

This week, Elder Whittier and I drove 4 hours down to Santa Clarita for a new missionary training. It was great! It was basically an "Alright, you have been out for 4 weeks now. What questions do you have?" Kind of meeting. But, to my surprise, at the beginning of the meeting our mission president began speaking about Elder Whittier and I! He told everyone about how the branch was going to be shut down. He told them that we are the last hope for them and then began to talk about how we are amazing missionaries and working all kinds of miracles... I was shocked. He then asked me to get up in front of the 40 or so other missionaries and tell them about all the things we have been doing. Basically a Stewardship report.

So, I got up and told them about our investigators. The second Sunday we were here we only had 17 people (including ourselves) at church. The following Sunday there were 45+. 11 or so who were non-members. I told them about our fireside we are planning, and about other service that we have been able to give. After I sat down, President talked some more. He told everyone how we aren't only tasked with baptizing, but with re-activating at least 15 priesthood holders! Craziness! We definitely have our work cut out for us, but we have full support from the mission. President will be coming up for our fireside and speaking! So anyway, I now have a reputation as the New guy in Lone Pine, a miracle worker, and a "favorite" of the president. I don't think that last one is true, but that's what people are saying.

Well, I'm already out of time!!! Last thing... Yesterday there were 2 baby blessings in the branch here! Elder Whittier and I were then able to speak, and we also sang our own arrangement of We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet. I spoke about how to obtain a Forever Family. It was great!!! The spirit was extremely strong, and the few investigators we had were very impacted by it. We extended a baptismal commitment to an investigator named Joey, and he said he had to think about it. But, then we had sacrament meeting (our meetings are switched around, we start with priesthood) and right away afterwords he left and said "I have to go home and think and call my dad". His dad is the guy he calls whenever he has to make a decision about something! So we're praying hard that he will be baptized!!!

Alright time for me to go! Know that I love ya, and I am working harder than I ever have in my life. I've actually been working out everyday and have put on about 7 more pounds than what I weighed before I went into the MTC. Pretty sweet. Well, Have a wonderful week! Tell the Family and Friends I love them all! OH and tell Bryce and Tommy to write me!!!

With Love,
Elder Otis

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We have had a few very interesting experiences...

Hey Mom and Dad!

Thanks for the emails and the Dear Elder letter. I don't have very much time this week to write, but I'll see how much I can kram in here, haha. So, it's been snowing here. Here on the Valley floor it warms up in the 40's during the day, and is down in the teens- 20's at night. I have enough bedding and everything so don't worry about me. Tomorrow we are driving down to Santa Clarita and will be doing some shopping so I will get some gloves and maybe a sweat shirt. I'm going to use some of that money from my pay check. I'm going to just cash it because there are no wells fargos around here anywhere, and I don't want to use my card at all for fear of overdrafting. So, since I can't withdraw from an ATM anywhere, I'll just cash it all and keep it safe. Also, I will be getting $600 from tommy come January, so I will have money for a bike later on. I won't be on a bike for a few months at least. Chances are I might not be on one at all, or have to pay for one. So that's good.

Well, things here are amazing! We're working hard, and staying in shape. Elder Whittier and I have been working out every morning, and are doing well. We had 7 investigators come to church on sunday! Plus, 3 of them brought friends, so we had 11 total non-members, and we taught them all during sunday school. How crazy is that? We were extremely surprised. Also, since there were a lot of families in town for the holidays, our branch of usually around 15 jumped up to around 50. It was crazy. I loved it. We have 3 baptismal dates set, and 3 more that we are hoping to set very soon. 2 of them though are two girls named Shawna and Shayna, and their dad wont sign the permission slip to have them baptized. They are only 9 and 10. Very sad. Their mom is a member. She named them after her two best friends, Shane and Shawn haha. Also we have a guy named Joey that we are teaching. He's a great guy. He has Serable Palsey (if thats how you spell it) and doesnt have full use of his legs. But, he gets around very well and has a great outlook on life. We're going to commit him to baptism very soon.

We have had a few very interesting experiences... There's a sister that we have been teaching who claims her mom literally was in a fist fight with Satan, and was at the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Also, she told us all about UFO's and how they kidnap people and have a landing strip behind Goat mountain. Apparently there's a Port Key over here where they teleport between their world and ours. Interesting eh? We've also been chased by a lot of dogs. Pit Bulls especially. There's an indian reservation here and there are pit bulls everywhere and there are no fences. They try to bite our truck tires all the time.

Well I am out of time. Elder whittier and I are trying to figure out something better with emailing. Hopefully next week it will be better and I can write you a longer letter. Know that all is well with me. I love ya! Tell all the family I love them.

Elder Otis

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"It's going to be wonderful--A Music Fireside!"

Hey Mom and Dad!

So, How's everything going for you? Thanks for the emails, and I just got your dear elder letter today mom. Thanks for the story! I'm glad to hear that you guys had success this year with the hunt. Hopefully I'll be able to get something when I come back. Thats awesome that Ryan has been bringing people to church. Tell him to write me! I want to know about this girl friend of his. So all is well back home? I hope so. I'm trying to remember what I need to tell you! It's crazy out here. The days all melt together, and I can't keep all the events that happen straight in my mind! If this keeps up, I'm going to be home before I know it.

Alright, I have a number 1 request this week! I need MUSIC! Sheet Music! Elder Whittier and I have decided to put on a Christmas Music Fireside here in Lone Pine. The people here are being very difficult. Everyone here has lived here forever, is completely satisfied with their lives, and don't seem to feel the need to change anything about themselves. We're having a hard time getting people to church!

We have a few golden investigators, but other then that, things are difficult. So, we had a long talk yesterday about thinking outside of the box. We have to make a huge impact here in some way. Everyone here is so used to the normal way of things, and everyone has seen the missionaries before. They are all very nice, but reject us all the same. Also, the members here are wonderful, but they need a breath of fresh air. They need something exciting here again. The branch here used to thrive. We found basketball jerseys and trophys from the 80s that the branch won.

Whenever there is like a football or volleyball game at the high school or something similar to that, EVERYONE goes. It's the most exciting thing that the town ever sees! So, Elder Whittier and I were talking and I said "Alright, we need to figure out what our strengths are, and do something big. The people here need something exciting that even non-members will want to go to because something like this never happens."

Then I thought of a Music Fireside. We both knew as soon as I said it that that was what we needed to do. It was pretty amazing, ideas flowed into our minds, and the beginning planning of this event started up. We are going to go all out with this one! We're going to get a ton of people involved, and advertise like crazy and get the whole town to come.

We're going to have the mission president come as well and speak. We will be performing around a dozen songs, and have narration between. We're going to start with Christ's birth, and focus on Christmas. Then we are going to focus on Christ's life, move into songs about prophets (Joseph Smith mostly) and then songs of the restoration. We don't have everything planned out yet, but we will end with a focus on "enduring to the end." It's going to be wonderful! BUT!!!! I NEED MUSIC! I don't have hardly any sheet music! Here are some of the songs we are thinking of performing:

Oh Holy Night
Silent Night
How Great Thou Art
Amazing Grace
Joseph Smiths First Prayer
A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
Be Still My Soul
Abide With Me Tis Eventide

There are several others, but we have music figured out for those. Please, If you can send out emails and do some phone calls in search of music, I would be so grateful. We are looking for Piano, Organ, and vocal arrangements alike. Remember, I can only sing up to high F so keep that in mind... Hahaha. I'm no crazy Tenor. We may be getting some others involved as well though, so any music is good. Anyway, I need your help! You know my address now so If you get a hold of anything just send it straight to me. We are still very open to any other songs, so if you find anything that you think might be good, send em!

I know that I am in this area, and have been placed with Elder Whittier for a reason. He plays the Organ and Piano very well, and we have already been performing here. On saturday we sang an arrangement we made of "We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet" at a baptism up in bishop. It was amazing, and a huge witness to me that we need to be using our music. Well, we're going to! And we are going to blow everyones socks off! Most importantly though, we are going to do all that we can to invite the spirit and use the power of music to reach the hearts of the people here. This is what we both know how to do best! Pray that we will be guided in what music we decide to include. Also, I'm thinking of trying to find something to record it with so I can make copies of it. I don't know if I will be able to find something though.

Well I'm sorry but I have to cut this letter off here. Oh, and I will be emailing you on tuesdays from now on. The library here is closed on mondays, and the nearest public place we can go to email is an hour away in bishop. Today we are at a members home. President said it was alright. So, yes! Expect my emails on tuesdays. Tell everyone that I love em! Go ahead and forward this to anyone you want. I need everyones help with this. I don't have access to really anything out here. I'm in the middle of no-where! Thanks so much for all the support. I have some funny stories to tell you next week when I have more time.

Love ya!
Elder Otis

Oh - Favorite Scripture: Ether 12: 27
Sorry it took me so long!

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Hola mi Familia!"

Hola mi Familia!
So... I'm finally here. I flew into California last Wednesday! We flew into Burbank and arrived around 12:30. I had a wonderful opportunity of sharing the Gospel with a woman from Michigan on the way there. I actually taught her the first lesson about the restoration and the Book of Mormon. She seemed very excited about it! She told me that she has been searching for a church for a long time, and doesn't like any of the churches she has been to because the pastors never know her personally and always just want her money. I told her all about how our church works (seeing as how I had an hour and a half to do so, haha). She told me she would go onto and find the missionaries in her area. I hope she does!!! So, what a wonderful experience to start off my two years as a missionary.

When we landed in burbank it was 94 degrees... I thought I was going to die. I just got used to the cooler weather, and then BAM, desert. I was in my suit, and I was sweating thats for sure. Well, right away we met our mission president (there were about 16 of us total that were all coming to the same mission). His name is Jerald Martin. He's a quirky guy, but you can instantly feel his love, and he is doing an amazing work here in California. He is an amazing mission president.

Right away, when he learned my name I saw a little bit of excitement in his eye... My "companion to be" was there with him. Elder Whittier is his name. He told me that I'm going to have a very unique experience with Elder Whittier, said that I will be going up north in the mountains where it's cold, and left it at that. I was so relieved! This completely made my day, haha.

Well, I picked up my bags and headed over to the church close to the mission home for orientation. We had real food, and it was amazing. I was so, so sick of the MTC food. I don't think I could have survived another meal.

We had a few hours of Orientation and we were able to have individual meetings with President Martin. He started with the Elder that would be the farthest away from the Mission Home. Guess who that was? Yep. ME! We went into a separate room, and he told me that I would be about 4 hours north. He told me that I would be Serving in a small town called Lone Pine, that has a branch of about 30, but only around 10 show up each sunday. He told me that the Stake President was thinking of shutting it down... Very sad. Well, Elders haven't been there for over 10 years, So Elder Whittier and I are opening it up. There have been sisters up in mammoth lake and bishop, and they have been covering Lone Pine. But, they could only be here 1-2 days out of the week, so nothing has been able to happen here at all. Anyway, President told me that he's sending the best two missionaries he has here to Lone Pine. It's our job to basically 'Save the Branch'. He told us that we need to reactivate or baptize at least 15 priesthood holders. He told me that he has full confidence in us, and that we have to work miracles up here.
Well, I was a bit overwhelmed. I was told that I would be at least an hour away from other missionaries, 4 hours away from the mission home. I was told that I have to save a branch, baptize as many people as I can, and Reactivate at least 15 priesthood holders. Also, that Elders havent been here in over 10 years, and that all of the other missionaries in the mission are going to hate me because they all want to go there! Apparently I'm already a Legend. The Greenie serving in "Lone Pine". Everyone knows who I am.

Now, Elder Whittier... He has been out for 21 months. He has two transfers left. He was just Assistant to the President for about 4 months. He is absolutely Amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better trainer. He is extremely spiritual, a wonderful leader, and very encouraging. We are having a lot of fun. He is also a musician. He is a professional Organist, and an amazing Pianist. I'm in very good hands. I'm also learning Spanish now... Surprise! Found that one out when I got here. Pray for me.

Well we moved into Lone Pine on Thursday. We have a 2010 Chevy Colorado. It's nice having a Truck. Also we have UNLIMITED miles each month, haha. There are only 2 other vehicles that have that priveledge. The sisters north of us, and the mission president. We cover such a huge area, we need it. There are only 2000 people in Lone Pine. Its a very famous place actually. Looking out my apartment window, I can see the beautiful Mt.Whitney, and the Alabama Hills. MANY hollywood movies have been filmed out here. Show's like Gunsmoke, Bananza, etc. have all been filmed here. The terrain is incredible! We can drive for about 10 minutes up into the mountains, and enter the "Inyo National Forest". It reminded me of Yosemite. Waterfalls, Sugar Pines, and streams filled with Trout. Yosemite is actually not very far away. Only a few hours drive I think. Mt.Whitney stands over 14,000 feet and is the highest peak in the continental US. I'm very spoiled. I will send pictures next week!

So, It's been snowing like crazy up in the mountains the past few days. They are completely white. Very beautiful. It's about 50 degrees here during the day in Lone Pine, give or take. Below freezing at night. Fantastic. I think Jason will be Jealous to hear that one. Everywhere else in the mission is hot desert. Actually, Death Valley is about 100 miles away. We might drive over there on a p-day and check it out. Apparently we're allowed to! Pretty awesome.
Right away we have had many people to teach. We have been out working hard finding, and I know that Heavenly Father has placed us here for a reason. Many people are receptive to us, and we already have a week full of appointments, and we have only been here for a few short days. The Lord is blessing us. He knows the desires of our hearts, and is preparing the way for us. I know that if we continue to move forward in faith, that he will place people in our path. I have already seen times where we we're given the wrong address for a house, and the people in the wrong house wanted to be taught as well. Our goal for November is 5 baptisms. That is Huge. It will happen though If we have faith that it can be done.

Sunday was amazing. Elder Whittier and I were able to give our testimonies, and we were able to get two investigators there already! Amazing. We are being blessed. Elder whittier plays the Organ, and so he played. The branch amazingly has a full sized organ in their tiny chapel. They have been using a CD player for their hymns, so I know they truly loved hearing the Organ. There were about 20 people there on sunday. The biggest number they have seen in a long time. I'm so excited to watch this branch grow! I can't wait. The people here are wonderful. They are going to do their best to feed us, but it doesn't look like we will have member meals very often, because there are so few of them. But, we are being given extra money each month, to make up for that. The food here is So expensive... Over 5 bucks for a gallon of milk, and 10 for orange juice. Craziness. We'll be alright though. The Lord will provide a way!

The people here are amazing. Everyone here in town knows everything about me already, because everyone knows eachother and they gossip like crazy. I have to be on my best behavior always... Also, a member named Kenny Rogers is the GM for a restaurant called the Pizza Factory here. He said he will give us free pizza whenever we want it! We ate there once already. AMAZING! It tasted so good.

Well, I need to get going. I have many things to get done today! My first P-Day in the Field! Know that all is well with me. I'm extremely happy, and very blessed to serve in such a beautiful place. Go onto google and type in Lone Pine, Wt.Whitney, Alabama Hills, or Inyo National Forest and you'll see how beautiful it is. Oh yeah, and there are 2 Indian Reservations here as well. So, I get to share the Gospel with our Native Brothers, haha!

I Love you all! I'm sorry I didn't send individual emails to everyone, but I would be writing the same thing to you all and it would take all day!!

The church is true. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the same church that Christ set up on the earth when he was here. The Holy Priesthood, the authority and power to act in Gods name is real, and this church is the only church with that Authority. I know that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, and knows us personally. I love you all. Thank you so much for your Love and support. I'm so lucky and blessed to have such a wonderful Family!

Please, if you can, send this to the rest of the family. I don't have everyone's email addresses, but I want so badly for everyone to get this. Forward it to everyone! Thank you all so much!

Elder Hunter Otis

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"I'm Safe, I'm happy and I Love the Lord!"

Hey Mom and Dad!
Thank you so much for the email, and all of the dear elder letters! They have meant so much to me here. Don't ever feel like you send too many. It's kind of a little competitive here (not really) to see who gets letters. Lucky for me, I have been blessed with something almost every day. I think it's important for Elders to get mail in the MTC. So many are having such a hard time, and a letter from ANYone can change their lives here. I have seen it in my district.

A few elders didn't get anything till a couple days ago and they were having a hard time with their testimonies and such. So, feeling like their families didn't care about them made it way worse. I feel very loved, and I am extremely happy here. I have been blessed to be a strong support for the elders in my district, and I'm grateful for the lessons I have already been able to learn so early on in my mission. We'll see what happens to me out in the field!!

Well, guess what? I just auditioned for a devotional today! Hopefully I will be able to perform. I'm singing an AMAZING arrangement of a poor wayfaring man of grief. Heavenly Father has blessed me with my voice. Only 2 days ago I could barely sing, but I practiced anyway. I have prayed so hard to have my voice back so I might be able to share my gift with the other missionaries here. Well, today I woke up and I was nervous about my voice. But, my voice is in perfect shape! How crazy is that? I feel amazing. I'm 100% back to good health. I'm still trying to regain some weight, but it's coming back. I found out I lost about 8 pounds in those few days. Crazy huh? I didn't think I had anything to lose! I've gotten 4 pounds back already though.
Two nights ago I was blessed to be able to hear from Elder Richard G. Scott. He spoke through the spirit only, and offered us revelation that he had received through the spirit throughout his life. He talked about dreams. He told us that people have dreams and that we need to keep something to write on next to our beds and record them as soon as we wake up. RECORD YOUR DREAMS! They are indeed revelation, and are extremely important. I have recorded several of mine, and when I return home I will have the wonderful opportunity of sharing some with you.

Don't worry about me, I am happier than I have ever been in my life. I leave to California next wednesday, the 3rd. I cannot wait to get there. I have felt here that I have so much work to do there, and people to save. The spirit here has ignited within me the strongest desire to serve Heavenly Father, and to bring his children back to him. I cannot believe how powerful the spirit actually is when we are doing absolutely everything we can to have it with us.

Also, being a missionary, I am blessed with a hightened sense of the spirit. It's INCREDIBLE! I can hardly believe it. Mom and Dad, when Richard G. Scott was here, he invoked upon us missionaries through the power of his holy apostleship special blessings. It was as if a wave washed over us. He blessed us with the gift of toungues, protection from satans minions, as well as several other things. It was so crazy! The power that those men hold (priesthood) is real. The power that we hold is real. I know that we have the power to cast away evil, and to perform miracles. The only thing that that is dependent on is our own personal faith. If we can strengthen that faith, we can do anything.

I am prepared to face whatever it is that will come these next two years. I have seen things here already... The war with Evil is real. These are the last days. Keep on getting food storage. Apostles of God have been here two weeks in a row and spoke of this. We are Warriors of God, fighting against Satan and his minions, especially us missionaries. They will continue to afflict us with things that will get in our way.

I can't wait to share with you more about this. I cannot believe the amount of knowledge I was able to gain in just a short brief few minutes. The spirit placed in my mind a well of understanding and knowledge. I know it can do the same for us all if we are willing to listen. Strive for those experiences. Come as close to the spirit as you possibly can. I know that I have a lot to give up here as a missionary, and that everything about my life has to be focused on the Lord. But, do what you can to rid yourselves of things that drive out the spirit. I love you. I'm grateful for the Home I was able to be raised in. The two of you are amazing. I'm sorry if I don't tell you enough about the daily things here at the MTC. I just feel like the spiritual things are much more important and I don't have enough time to talk about all the little details. Feel free to keep using Dear Elder. After next tuesday though write to the Mission Home in California. Tell everyone that. If you write a dear elder to the MTC after tuesday they will just throw it away. I'm going to be in cali in just a few days!!! AHH!!! So awesome.

Keep being awesome. I love you, and I know you love me. I wish I could tell you more but I only have a minute left to type. If you can, send me addresses of as many people as possible. Also, I don't have any money for checking bags at the airport. Let me know if you found anything out about money in a dear Elder as soon as possible. You ROCK! I'm safe, Happy, and I love the Lord.

Elder Otis

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"What Kind of Armor Am I Wearing Today?"

Hey there!
So, guess what? I feel MUCH better! Yesterday I was able to eat some more normal food, and I have gotten a lot of my energy back. Today is also my first P-Day, which is exciting. I feel a little more normal again. So, these past few days have been very hard for me. I started to get sick the second day I was here, so a week ago today. It started with a swollen lymph node, and then the next day it spread to my throat. I pretty much had a bunch of bad Cold Sores in my throat. Terrible! It hurt SO BAD to swallow! I couldn't get anything down starting on friday. Then the fever started friday night. I received a blessing from the Elders in my room, and went to bed with the chills. I had 2 shirts on, my jacket, gym shorts, and my comic book pajama pants on haha. Apparently I did a lot of talking in my sleep.

Saturday was a struggle. I went to classes and did everything I could to focus, but I couldn't do anything. After lunch my teacher told me to go back to my room and take a nap, and that my companion could just study in our room. I was planning on sleeping for like an hour, but I ended up sleeping for 3 and a half, haha. When I woke up I was on Fire. We went to dinner, and I was really messed up. I could feel my heartbeat prettymuch through my whole body and I was confused. Elder Harcrow then offered to take me to the health clinic but it was closed so we went to the front desk. They took my temp there and it was 102.9. That's when I got scared.

The last time my temperature was that high was when I was little, and I kindof had some not so good memories come back and I was scared. I had no clue what was wrong with me, and I didn't know what the heck was going on. We went to the doctor and they couldn't figure out what was wrong. It wasn't mono, it wasn't strep, it wasn't this, that, or the other.

It took 3 days for them to finally tell me that I just had some random bad virus that they don't have a name for. It makes sense. This place has so many people from all over the world. It's a breeding ground for illness. It just stinks that I had to get sick my first week. I feel a little overwhelmed and behind now, because sunday and monday I was quarantined to my room. I know Mom said she called to ask about me and they said I wasn't, but I was. They didn't let me out till tuesday around Lunch. I'm so grateful for the packages that were sent. They were a life saver.

I seriously was in despair. I couldn't eat. I was so tired... When you can't eat for 4-5 days and you have a metabolism like mine, you get pretty messed up. Seriously, I think I've lost like 10 lbs. At least it feels like I have. I have to check how much I weigh next time I go to the gym. I hope I get STUFFED in California! I'm gonna need it!

Anyway, I am doing much better. I'm doing all that I can to be Obedient. I'm the District Leader, and an example to the other Elders. I have to be as best as I can be. I'm striving to do so! I will admit.. I was feeling very, very low. My companion doesn't really know much about compassion. I was miserable. Doesn't exactly help the emotions too much when someone is like that. But, the light is shining through. It was a trial of my faith for sure, and It has made me stronger. I have also been able to get to know all the elders in my district much, much better because of it. They all switched off taking care of me and I had a lot of good talks with each of them. We are all like brothers now, and it's great.

So! Enough about being sick! On tuesday Elder Russel M. Nelson was here and spoke to us with his wife, Wendy Nelson!!! It was AMAZING! He is such a wonderful man. They didn't speak to use for very long, but the amount of inspiration I was able to receive was immense.

I don't have time to tell you everything here, but I will try and maybe photo copy my notes and send them to you. One thing that Sister Nelson spoke about was the armor of God. She said she was able to hear a farewell talk from a missionary a few weeks ago in a ward they were visiting (can you imagine having an apostle at your missionary farewell? AHH! Haha) She said that he said something that surprised even himself. He held up the scriptures and said "This is my shield" and held up the Preach My Gospel and said "and this is my sword"

She then said a whole lot more, but it made me write down a question. I wrote "What kind of Armor am I wearing today?" This is a question that we can all ask ourselves every day. Are we wearing the armor of the things around us that make us happy, or are we wearing the full armor of God? As we all know, these are the last days. We need to be prepared for ANYthing to happen to us, because anything could.

We are not immune to anything, and we all need to rely more on the Lord. This is the biggest lesson I have learned here becoming a missionary. I have not relied enough on the Lord to get me through, and as a missionary... He's really all you have out here. But, thats the beauty of it. I am able to learn how to have the spirit with me 24 - 7 and to rely completely on our savior for everything. It's amazing. I have felt the spirit so strongly here. The more you read the scriptures here, the more you WANT to keep reading them. Studying isn't a chore for me anymore, it's a joy. I love learning about the scriptures and the Gospel. I have also been amazed at how much you are able to learn in such a short amount of time. I have only been here a week, and most of that time I have been sick. But, I have learned so much it's crazy. I have learned more about myself and my motivation and what I need to do to keep myself moving, even when I have no energy.

Mom and Dad. I want to thank you for how you raised me. You have shaped me to be who I am, and kept me safe so I could serve this mission. I was thinking a few days ago about how many things could have gone wrong, especially in high school. I had so many opportunities to screw up, but You and the Lord kept me safe.

I know that I have been prepared to serve. The Lord sent me here to this earth to Our family so I could be doing the things that I'm doing right now, and will be doing in the future. I know the Gospel is true. I know our Father in heaven loves us, and is always watching us. I know that Trials are Blessings! They really are. They are given to us to help us become stronger and more like our Heavenly Father. I know my trial has helped me to move forward and be the best that I can and be the best leader that I can be.

I'm excited to see where my mission will take me. I'm excited to see what kind of Man I will become. Thank you for everything. Thank you for your letters! I LOVE YOU!

Elder Otis