Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"I love becoming the vessel for the Holy Ghost to testify of the truth to these children of God!"

Hola Que tal!? 
Well this is exciting, my last MTC email, I have to say that I thought that this day would never come. I have learned so much in my MTC experience and if I went home today I know that I would be a changed person but I am sooo ready to finally get out and start working! I leave Tuesday at like 6 in the morning and arrive in Cali at like 8ish. I have heard a lot of good things about Cali from the natives here and they all say the people are so kind-hearted, and ready to hear the gospel. I am so excited to finally be there and start my work where the Lord has called me to be!
Well this past Saturday I had the oppurtunity of a lifetime to hear from a member of the Quorum of the 12! Elder Christofferson came to Bogota to give a talk in front of about 400 missionaries from Bogota North Bogota South, and the Bogota MTC. At the beginning of the meeting he decided he wanted to shake everyone´s hand and greet us so we all got an opportunity to meet an Apostle of the Lord. It was a surreal experience being face to face with an apostle. 
As I shook his hand he asked where I was from and proudly I told him. He then said he loves the Dallas area because he has a lot of family there. It is a moment I won´t forget. He then gave a talk completely in Spanish that was just incredible. I prayed in the days leading up that I would be able to understand the message that Elder Christofferson was going to deliver.  And I can say I didn´t have too much trouble. The Gift of Tounges is REAL. I wish every missionary could have felt the Spirit in that chapel. 
At the end of his talk he gave an apostolic witness of Christ that struck me to the core, and then blessed us all with Faith in Jesus Christ, the gift of Revelation as a missionary, and that we would have the convincing power of the Holy Ghost in our testimonies. I never felt so loved by Heavenly Father as I heard an Apostle of the Lord speak for Him in blessing us. I loved that experience and I will cherish it forever!
A few things that will be going on this last week: 
On Friday I will have a special in field training with one of the Area authorities.  Saturday we get shipped to the Bogota North mission home and get matched with a Latin companion to tract all day from 8-8:30! I am excited for this oppurtunity to have some in field experience in this city! It is so big I can't even describe it to you. Just what I've seen from going to the temple it is just so busy. The only thing that compares from what I've seen is NYC! That should be a nice wake up call before I finally get to the field! I will get to have a normal day in the mission with one of the Elders there, and maybe get to teach a few lessons. I'm not sure but it will be awesome!
My Spanish is still improving! I find myself understanding SO much more than when I first got into Bogota. With so many missionaries from different countries here it's hard to get a lock on it because they all have different accents. But I can feel all of your prayers helping me with this challenge! I know I can do it! From what I hear Caleños have a way different accent so I might be in for quite a surprise haha.
I know my testimony has been strengthened during my time here at the MTC. My 3 or so hours to study every day has been so helpful for me in feeling prepared for the mission! I know that God lives and loves His children! I love becoming the vessel for the Holy Ghost to testify of the truth to these children of God! I can't wait to feel that love during my first lesson! I know that Jesus Christ died so that all of His children can come unto Him! What a great and blessed message I have to share!
Elder Eliason

13 days until the field!

Hola once again! 
Time is short so I´m going to get right to it! Here in Bogotá they have us divided into districts with about 8 elders each. There are now three North American districts. The food is absolutely amazing. It was good in Provo but here they only have to cook for the 70 missionaries that are here. 
The Spanish has gotten a lot better since I have been here as I hoped it would. In fact, the accent of the natives is becoming clearer and clearer. I just have to get completely immersed in it to become completey fluent, and with our American only district sometimes speaking only Spanish is difficult! 
Today we went to the Temple in Bogotá and it was an experience I will never forget. The templo is actually 45 minutes away and we were excited to actually get out and see Bogota for the first time. It is SO big and crowded like I never imagined! There are people everywhere, but it is so beautiful with all of the lush mountains surrounding the city and everything around it. I absolutely loved my international temple experience. I am so amazed at how universal the language of the Spirit is!
13 days until the field! It seems like I have been in the MTC forever, but also like I just barely started. Time is so weird as an MTC missionary. Another big note is that I will get to meet an apostle of the Lord this Saturday, Elder Christofferson. He  is coming to speak to all of the missionaries in the Bogota MTC and the Bogata North and South missionaries. It is a bit ironic to me that I will be seeing an apostle here instead of in Provo. It is a moment I am truly thankful that I am here for! 
With the mission field coming so close I am getting so anxious to get started but a little nervous too, I keep asking myself if I know enough Spanish to be for real, or if I am ready for the challenge of an everyday schedule. But I do know the Lord helps His missionaries and that He will help me develop into the missionary that he wants me to be! 
Sorry my letter is a little jumbled and I still haven´t sent pictures--they took our cameras because they have been a distraction for some missionaries in the past. But just know that I am fine and loving being a servant of the Lord! Colombia feels like home now and I am so ready to get to my field of labor and be in Cali. A lot of the natives here have told me all about Cali and how much I am going to love it there! I have made some real good friendships with the natives here--they are a joy to be around. They are all so tender and humble, I have learned so much from their examples. Sorry for no spiritual thought, I´ll make up for it next email with a special thought from Elder Christofferson!  Adios!
Your loco Colombiano, Elder Eliason

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"As for my Español..... I have been humbled"

Hola again from Bogotá! 

This time I get to write a little bit more haha, they just randomly came in today with the computers and told us to write our families so here we go haha...
Well it as been a fun week that´s for sure, I´ll start from the airport... We got off the plane and immediately got a taste of South American culture, we had to go through immigration and the workers of course only spoke Spanish, we had to present our visas and kind of explain why we were coming there. I managed to pass but some of the elders had a pretty tough time communicating haha. We then got our bags and went outside looking for someone who was going to pick us up. 

We found as soon as we got out of the airport there was about 3 million people there waiting for people. It was like being a celebrity walking out of the Oscars, and we definitely stook out. Bogotá is literally the most busy place I have ever seen, and the drivers are absolutely crazy, people honk there horns constantly and there is no "yield to people" rule here either haha. I found that out pretty quick. 

While we were walking through the traffic of all the people there were tons of girls yelling at us. We all thought it was pretty funny. Immediately the culture was different. We then found this guy who had an MTC tag on and found out he knew no English either! So we tried to communicate what he wanted us to do, he told us to wait by a huge building across from the airport. He obviously didn´t say something right because we waited there for nearly 30 minutes and no one came. Finally he came and said something about we were supposed to be somewhere else haha. Oh well, everything turned out okay.
We then got to the MTC about 15 minutes away from the airport and met the MTC President! He is a North American from Bountiful and he is kinda like our father down here. He really cares for his missionaries. We got our new companions and like I told you last week it is Elder Musselman who is from Alpine, but grew up in San Antonio. He is really cool and we get along sooo great. We would have been good friends before the mission. After we found out all our room information we headed to bed and crashed till morning. We got up the next morning and had an orientation about what to expect from our experience here at the MTC, we then jumped right into classes and picked up where we left off in Provo. The teachers here are so great, only a few of them know English but it is so good to finally hear a native speak. And we help them with their English so they absolutely love teaching us.
As for my Español..... I have been humbled... As soon as the natives arrived I knew I was in trouble, they talk SO fast and do not pronunciate at all, The good news is the ones that I can understand are all Colombian. In fact,  they say that the best speakers are from Colombia. The bad news is that they all say that the Cali accent is SO much different haha. So we´ll see how that goes.

Other than that I have actually started to build some friendships with the Latin elders. I met one from Medellín who is really cool. Me and Elder Musselman have befriended him and his companero from Honduras. That is another thing about the language. Every country represented here has a different way of speaking, with weird words and slang that I just have no chance understanding haha. But yeah I really love speaking with the natives because they really help me learn the language.
Another cool thing that I got to experience was a district leader meeting that was held all in Spanish. I understood most of it because they tend to speak slower when they are talking to the president. It was such a neat experience getting fully immersed in the language. And I will also be the district leader for the North Americans here at the MTC. It is an oppurtunity I am looking forward to in these last 2 weeks before were off to the field!
We also are teaching 2 investigators like we did in Provo but it is a little different than in Provo, because they are natives and they take a little bit more effort to understand. But we are already through three lessons and they have accepted baptismal dates! I am able to speak and understand so much more than I thought I would be able to at this point. 

 I can testify that the Gift of Tounges is real and I see its power every day! I am also enjoying the surroundings of Bogotá. We will get to go to the temple on Wednesday and I absolutely cannot wait. It is a 45 minute trip so I will hopefully get to see a lot of the city. Anyways, looks like I am out of time but if you have any questions about the MTC email me Tuesday because I will be able to email on Wednesday which is my P-day.

Anyways I am doing great and had so much fun talking to you Tuesday! I get more and more closer to the field every day! I can´t wait but I am also loving learning so much here! Cali is awaiting but Bogotá is where the Lord wants me right now! Love you alll! 

Dios les bendiga para siempre! Hasta Miércoles! Adios!
Élder Eliason

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hola from Bogota!

¡Hola from Bogotá!

 I have time to write you a short little message today. I have arrived in Bogotá! and I am loving every minute of it.

We got here about 9:00 last night and it was obvious we were in another country by the look of the airport. Everything is written in Spanish and it was a lot different than most airports! We got our luggage and walked out to find about 100 Colombians outside holding signs for the people they were supposed to pick up. We felt like celebrities and definitely got some stares. They even started started  "Gringo Chiquito!!" haha it was hilarious.

And people drive like absolutely crazy, more than once I was scared for my life.... jk mom. But today about 65 latinos came into the MTC. It is so fun to speak with them.

Anyways my companion is now elder Musselman and we are here in Bogotá! I´m just supposed to tell you I´m fine and doing well here in Colombia. I´ll have more to write Wednesday which is now my P-day!


Friday, August 10, 2012

"As for my time here in Provo, it is almost up..."

Wow!!! This is the best email I have gotten thus far! To hear from so much family all at once is precisely what I needed right about now. I am so glad to hear about all the wonderful things that happen at an Eliason Family Reunion, I am sad to not be there but at the same time I know that there is no place I would rather be and no place else my Heavenly Father would have me be. Thank you to all those who wrote a quick little message, I feel the strength of your prayers each day and I honestly am in awe at how wonderful of a family I have been blessed with. It is honestly SO amazing!
As for my time here in Provo, it is almost up. Bittersweet feelings are always coming to me, It is sad to leave this district of elders that have been so amazing and that I have formed such great relationships with. However, I am ready for this new challenge of going to another MTC in Colombia! I'm especially ready for the opportunity to be fully immersed in the language. I feel like my Spanish has gone as far as it can being in America and always having time to speak English. I am so ready to forge some new friendships with some latin elders! As you know I leave Tuesday at 3 in the morning, leave SLC at 6, get to DFW at 9, then get to Miami at about 2, and then get to Bogota around 7:45. So expect a call sometime while I am in Miami!
As for my last week here in Provo it has been another great fulfilling week! This week in the TRC I got to chat it up with a native name Maria from Guatamala! (shout out to uncle Jeff) It was so cool to speak with a native, she doesn't know any English and we were able to teach her about receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon. It was powerful, never is my Spanish better than when I am testifying or teaching of truth. She shared some experiences and I was able to share some as well. We have heard countless talks and lessons here on the Book of Mormon that have been so powerful and enlightening. I have such a great time reading it in Spanish, it really helps me with the language. Also we have been continuing to teach our investigators and they have now accepted baptismal dates!

 I am so grateful for such wonderful teachers who make those situations feel so real. I am so glad I have so much teaching experience before I even get to Colombia! It is so amazing! I have also met a new elder from England! his name is Elder Adams and he is from Bolton. He is tall, black, and super athletic! He is ranked #3 in basketball in all of England. We tried to recruit him to our now 6 time defending champion basketball team but we all agreed that wouldn't be fair.  I told him I had a brother serve in England and he lit up and asked me all about it haha, his accent is just awesome to hear and he is going to Spain. I'll be sure to get a picture with him and send it!
I'd like to share a little thought with all of you, while I was studying this week I found some gold in 1 Nephi 17, when Nephi is commanded to build a ship, and with such a challenging task liek that it would have been easy for Nephi to expect the Lord to do all the work and provide him with a ship. But nephi responds not like that, but asks where he can find ore to make tools to build the ship. I found it awesome that Nephi understood that he need the Lord's help, but that sometimes it takes pain to grow, and that the Lord wanted him to act in faith and trust that He would provide a way for it to happen. And then in verse 13 the Lord states that He will be our LIGHT, and that he will provide a way for us to accomplish what he has commanded. And that if we are obedient we will be shown the way. This brought me great comfort knowing that I have to struggle in order to grow, I can't just be given all of the things needed to be a sacred missionary all at once I have to struggle and work at them and then trust in the Lord. The Lord will be our LIGHT, but what good is light if we don't first have enough FAITH to walk in the dark. Such powerful principles can be laerned from the book of mormon!
I love you all and miss all of the family! I know that serving missions is what EVERY worthy young man should do!

Talk to you Tuesday!
-Elder Eliason

Friday, August 3, 2012

Colombia Bound in 11 Days!

Can't believe it has already been a month out here! Every Wednesday it is so cool to see the new missionaries come in and look so wide eyed, it's really hard to believe that that was me just 5 weeks ago! 

By now many of you may have heard that I got my visa! It was such a heart-stopping moment when during language study we heard over the loud speaker that they wanted to see all of the Colombian missionaries in the travel office. I don't think I have run faster in my life. It was there that I received double good news, not only did I obtain my visa and get new travel plans, but I get to spend these next 11 days with my district and have a little time to say goodbye. With travel stuff like that you never know when you are going to leave, 

One elder in our zone got woken up at 5 in the morning to be told he was leaving at 6. So I feel very fortunate, this gives me time to pack and do all of the things I need to before the 14th. I can't wait to be able to call home for more than 5 minutes haha. I'm not sure how much time I am allowed though. I'll be in touch.
Anyways this week had been another awesome week, this week we focused on how to apply the doctrine of the lessons to meet the needs of our investigators, and teach people not lessons. This is very difficult when teaching in Spanish because you can only say so much and so you really have to rely on the Spirit and listen very closely to them in order to know what to say. Some of the most powerful moments here in the MTC have been in moments where I realize I am testifying of truth comletely in Spanish, and just being taken away and led by Spirit where to go with the lessons. There have been times where an investigator had brought up something that we haven't planned for and for some reason I knew a scripture or a doctrine that helped them. We had a lesson with Santiago who is Hermano McCallister, and i got the feeling that we should just pray right then and there to get his answer because he had been really flakey with his commitments, it was powerful, he then said he knew it to be true and accepted a fecha! it was incredible. The lessons feel SO real. I can't wait until they are.
Another awesome moment I had this week was at the Tuesday devotional when the speaker spoke about Grace and how we need it in our work. The Holy Ghost was felt so powerfully it's hard to describe the feeling that was in the devotional auditorium. The concluding hymn was "How Firm A Foundation" and we sang all seven verses.  I can't describe how cool it is to join in over 3,200 missionaries singing praises to our Lord like we were on Tuesday, I get chills even now typing about it. Really incredible.
I am also falling in love with MTC basketball. We play 3 on 3 tournaments every day at gym time and our team has won 3 times in a row. My team consists of me (a.k.a the three point specialist), Elder Hunsaker (the 6'8 giant) and Elder Musselman who is also going to my mission and will be in my group going to Bogota. It is so much fun. Everyone keeps trying to dethrone us but I don't see it happening anytime soon. Mostly because Elder Hunsaker has a scholarship at Utah State and he swats anything and everything. So I will miss that tremendously.
Anyways looks like my time is up again! Know that I am doing ever so well! Me siento muy afortunado de estar aqui en el CCM! I love it here so much, but I also can't wait to get to work in Colombia! I know the Lord has prepared a way for me down there! I love you all and can't wait to hear about the reunion!
Elder Eliason