Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"before you seek to declare my word, seek to obtain it."

Hola Mi Gran Familia!
As for me, I have been soo blessed when it comes to Spanish. I can say now that understanding people is not the problem, and in the lessons I feel like I can communicate pretty much what I'm feeling. The problem now is the street stuff. Just common speaking on the street is now what troubles me. And I still find myself translating in my head but I'm sure that will soon go away! The Gift of Tounges is REAL.
I first want to share an experience that happened last Monday. We were having some trouble and it seemed like nobody was keeping commitments. And so Monday night we recruited one of the Assistants to come out with us and see if we could help some of the people who weren't doing to well. Elder Stutz is his name, he is from Arizona and is super cool and a great missionary! We went to visit Jorge Octado, who had been struggling with his Catholic background and accepting that there needs to be priesthood authority on the Earth. We had a powerful lesson on covenants with him, Elder Stutz used his sister's baptism picture to show how happy she looked when she made that covenant and also read Mosiah 18: 7-12 to help him understand covenants a little more. 
I didn't say much at the beginning of the lesson but at the end I had such an overwhelming feeling to say something, I just didn't know what. And amazingly as soon as I did that Elder Stutz looked at me and gave me the nod to say something. I just opened my mouth and the Lord put words in there...it was a truly amazing feeling. It was the first time I really felt like I was really a tool in the Lord's hands. I just bore testimony and promised blessings that come from making covenants with the Lord. After I was done there was a silence for about 10 seconds and then he said the words every missionary wants to hear, "I think I know that this is true." It was truly an amazing experience. Problem is he backed out two days later when we went to follow up. He is just too afraid to let go of his Catholic Church that he has believed for so long. He is almost there though I can feel it. We are going to see him this week.
Last night we had what is called a "desembarco" for our area, it's when all of the missionaries from our zone come and try to find new investigators and also try to reactivate the less actives. It was a huge success and we now have 22 possible new investigators to teach. I am excited about what is about to happen to this area! Me and Elder Matos are so ready to get to work and start harvesting some of those sheaves! It was so cool to have all the Calima Zone here helping out.
I wish I could give you the report on every investigator but that's just impossible with how many we have haha, so what I will do is just keep you up on the ones that are progressing and right now we only have 2, Jorge and Wilmer. Wilmer is doing great.  We tought him the 2nd lesson this week and he came to church again. The only problem is the parents. They aren't sure if they want their son getting baptized in another church, but he is really chevre (Colombian word for cool). He has such a desire to learn more about God and His plan for him. He reads the Book of Mormon like a champ. We left him " 2 Nephi 32 and he read all the way to Mosiah. He has such a desire it is great, we will see if we can soften his parents and get a baptismal date this week!
I learned a valueable lesson here in the mission. Whenever I would be teaching Lesson 2 I would always have trouble getting the words to teach it, it really bothered me. When you are trying to teach something as complex as Adam and Eve or the Spirit World in another language things can get tough haha, luckily Elder Matos was there to fix whatever I said wrong. But it bothered me why I wasn't getting the words "in the very hour" that I needed them as it says in D&C. I pondered that promise in personal study and then I found the verse that states "before you seek to declare my word, seek to obtain it." I hadn't really taken the time to learn Lesson 2 yet, and because I didn't know it, the Spirit couldn't give me what I needed. 
I then started dilgently studying the Plan of Salvation to make sure that I could teach it, and came out learning a ton. After studying so much I have a new appreciation for God's plan for all of us. He really does love us more than we know. Everything that happens to us in this life is because He knows the big picture and what we need to further progress in our Eternal Journey to become like Him. I am so thankful for a knowledge of this plan and the opportunity that I have to share it with others, I know that He lives!
Anyways I hope you all have such a great week, I miss you all!
Elder Eliason

Monday, September 17, 2012

"I am grateful for tough times so early here in my mission, because I will be able to appreciate the good times even that much more. "

This is Cifrut, my new addiction here in Colombia

Me and Elder Matos getting ready to spread the word...

Gold's? Express? No, Latino's Gym!

This is Zona Calima after playing futbol!

Hola Familia!

Well it has been a great week here in the Ceibas! I am starting to get used to the daily grind of missionary work, and it feels great. I can say that I have never been more tired at the end of the day than I am here in the mission. Working hard and getting after it day after day! 

Well it has been a great and tough week at the same time, a lot of the people that we contacted last week didn't end up working out this week. Elder Matos says that is a common theme here in Colombia, the people can be a tad bit "flakey." Out of the 12 that we found we only taught 3 of them, so this week we had a ton of time contacting and asking referrals from the members. 
I am starting to see the huge role that members play in missionary work! The only progressing investigators we have right now have been referrals from the members. It seems that the people here don't like commitments, we teach them lesson 1 and they love it and the message it contains, but once we try to get them to do something about it they back out. So as of now we are a little short on the investigators due to the division of the area. The ones we had are either at a stand still because they are not married, or haven't showed the desire to keep learning by keeping commitments. But we are still working hard! Siga adelante! (Go ahead!) As they say here in Colombia.

We started teaching a kid named Wilmer this Saturday. We contacted into him and he has a ton of desire to learn about God and doing the will of God. He is about 17 years old and we taught him the first half of the Plan of Salvation. He took it extremely well and asked a lot of good questions that showed his real intent to find the truth. Luckily he is from Medellin and he has an accent that I can understand, so this was one of the few lessons that I understood everyhting that was going on and didn't have to ask Elder Matos questions about it haha. We left him a Book of Mormon and he seems like he has a desire to read it. The roblem is is that he is always busy playing football. So we can only see him on Saturdays.

Another one of our progressers is named Jorge Octado, he is about 74 years old and his wife is a member and both of his daughters are members too, so he comes to church every week. He was raised Catholic and is a pretty stubborn guy. He has a desire to learn more about the church and shows signs that he knows that it's true but his pride gets in the way and he won't accept it just yet. But we have hope that the Spirit will break through to him. We taught him the restoration and he liked what was taught, but he didn't read the Book of Mormon and so we had to have a lesson on the importance and the significance that it has. We will see how he progresses this week...

This upcoming week we have a ton of hopefuls that we think are going to go well. They are all contacts from this past week and we are praying that none of them fall through. Elder Matos and I continue to pray for success. We know we have been working like dogs, and we know that the Lord blesses those who are diligent. I am grateful for tough times so early here in my mission, because I will be able to appreciate the good times even that much more. 

I learned a valuable lesson in the Scriptures this past week, it comes from 1Peter 2:20-21:

20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

21 For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.

This was an answer to a prayer for me, when we are blessed and we are patient, great. But what about when things aren't going great and we are still doing everything that we are asked? Do we take this patiently, or shout out the heavens and let our faith shake a little? We have to remember that it is after the trial of our faith that we receive a witness or promised blessings. True faith is faith on the Lord that He will bless those who follow Him. Sometimes we have to learn some things in the process. Like patience, which is what I am trying to focus on here in this challenging time here in the mission.

Doing great! Have a great week!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

"So I am not going to lie, this week has been great but hard...missionary work is not easy."

The classic "here's where I'm going" MTC picture.

May the force be with me to help me learn this language...

Overlooking Cali!

My trainer Elder Matos!

Buenas tardes familia! ¿Cómo le ha ido? 

What a week it has been here in Las Ceibas! Let me start off by saying that I feel so lucky to have Elder Matos as my trainer! He is a hard worker, great teacher, and really patient with me and my broken Spanish. We have a great relationship, I feel like we are quite alike. We are always having a good time together, and when I can understand him he is hilarious! He played baseball and like I told you the Detroit Tigers were about to sign him as a 17 year old but he got hurt, and now he is on a mission! Everything happens for a reason. 

Well here in Las Ceibas they have divided the area, there are now 4 missionaries, and one of them is a gringo who came in with me! It's nice because we can joke around together about how crazy fast everyone speaks haha. But I was pleased to find out that we have 10 investigators here! And they all have real intent, the only problem is that 4 of them are families who's parents aren't married. I met one whose name is Oscar and he has a "wife" and 2 kids. One of the kids has been baptized but the wife doesn't really want the church in her life so it is a bit complicated at the moment what were are going to do. We were teaching a lesson the other day and the little boy said the closing prayer, it was so sad to hear this little boy praying to Heavenly Father to please work a miracle so that his parents could get married and his daddy could get baptized. 

Another family called the Familia Bravo Lopes that we are teaching are just awaiting their marriage papers and then they will enter the waters of baptism. They are really solid, we had lunch there today, they have 4 kids and they absolutely love to have the Elders come over. It's hilarious because they are always asking me how to say stuff in English, which has become a popular thing of the young kids here so far haha. Another guy we are teaching is a man named Juan Mota.  At first he had no belief in God but when the Elders before taught him the Plan of Salvation he really loved it and started to have a belief in God. He started coming to church and liking it, but then he went on a trip somewhere for a while and now he is a little discouraged for some reason and he didn't come to church this week. This week we will find out what happened.

The others we are just starting to teach, and have a busy week ahead of us! We had a goal to find 10 new investigators this past week since I got here and we were blessed enough to find 12! All of them from contacting. I am really starting to love just talking to people about the Gospel. Me and Elder Matos really work well together. And the people here are unreal! Just about anyone will let you in to their house and let you share a quick message. There was one street that we got in 5 straight houses. Usually we just go in and share a little message from one of the pamphlets we have usually about how the Gospel blesses families and ask them if we can come back and share the whole lesson with them. 

The people here are just so friendly! They would give you just about anything even though they have so little. Nobody has AC, carpet, or anything, everybody lives in just a little shack that usually doesn't even have electricity, yet they are happy people. They have nothing that we in the USA take for granted and they still love and care like none other. We really should be thankful for all that we are blessed with in the states. 

Another cool thing I got to do was yesterday I got to be apart of the biggest FHE known to man. We had about 30 people there and 4 of them were non members. Us missionaries got to share the spiritual message and I was privileged to share Jacob 2:18-19 "Seeking first the Kingdom of God" and it went great. We are hoping to somehow get these members excited about missionary work...it is a hard thing to do.
So this next week we are hoping to have a few baptismal invites and also quite a few new pogressing investigators! And hopefully we can get these couples married quick! It is a huge problem here because no one wants to commit to be with someone forever so they find it easier just to live together and have kids without the commitment.

So I am not going to lie, this week has been great but hard...missionary work is not easy. There have been times when I get down when someone decides not to accept or when we are walking 12 miles a day in the blazing hot weather, but I am always reminded that this is the Lord´s work and He guides it. There are so many tender mercies everyday that remind me where I am and who I represent! I love this work and I love being a missionary!!!

Gotta go, Que tenga una buena semana! (Have a good week!)

Élder Eliason

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Letter from Sister Prince, Wife of Mission President

Singing Called to Serve in Spanish...

With Trainer Elder Matos, from Dominican Republic

Let's play Where's Elder E?

We are excited to be serving the Lord here in the Colombia Cali mission with Elder Eliason. He arrived in a world completely different than his own, tired but ready to work. After 2 long days of training and interviews he has now gone off to his first area, Las Ceibas in Cali, with his companion, Elder Matos.
I have attached a couple of pictures so you can see that he actually did make it!
If you are interested in following our mission comings and goings (and occasionally finding a picture of your missionary posted!) you may check out our blog at:   http://colombia-cali.blogspot.com/
I am including below a few helpul tips for mailing packages to Colombia (it can be complicated and expensive!!)
We are grateful for your prayers and support.  
Un abrazo,
Hermana Prince
 The best mailing address for Your Elder is:  
Elder ___________________
Colombia Cali Mission
Avenida 2 Oeste #10-130  Oficina 201
Edificio Tempo
Barrio Santa Rita
Cali, Valle, COLOMBIA
If you ship a package with a private courier, you will need this phone number 57 2-892-1709
This is the mission office address. You may mail letters and packages to this address.
To mail a letter of normal size and weight it costs 98 cents to mail it here.
You can use the church pouch mail for letters at the following address:
Elder ___________________________
Colombia Cali Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City, UT  84130-0150
Pouch Mail Instructions:  To prevent possible fines, only postcards and letters that are single sheet, folded into three-panels, and taped at the top only (no envelopes) may be sent through the pouch.  Packages cannot be sent through pouch mail.
I think using US Mail is less expensive and just fine...I would NOT use their priority shipping as it seems to be more expensive.
Here are some hints we have learned about the mail system to/from Colombia:

  • It is better to send things in padded envelopes rather than boxes.  
  • If the packages weigh less than 2 kilos (about 4 lbs) they usually arrive without the missionary having to pay a fee to get it out of customs.
  • You should declare ANY package at a value LESS than about $20 to also avoid paying a customs fee.
  • Most letters and packages are taking about 14 or 15 days to arrive.
  • Our missionaries have to PAY ON TOP of what you have paid to ship...just to receive the package... IF it is too heavy or worth a lot.  It is better to send 2 envelopes than to pay a lot and send a big box.
  • Mail leaving Colombia for the USA is VERY VERY expensive.  I tried to mail a regular letter to my brother and they wanted 77 mil pesos or about 40 dollars to mail it.  I did NOT mail it.
Once a package arrives in the office it can take up to a month to get it out to the missionary as our mission is SO big and we have to wait until we can get it to the zone leaders at a conference.  
If you want to send something for Christmas, plan accordingly for the time it might take and mark the package FOR CHRISTMAS 

I hope this helps.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hola From Cali!

Hola from Cali!

Well I am here! 
After a long morning that started at 3 in the morning we have arrived in Cali. We got here at about 8 in the morning and got picked up in a massive bus. We had to have it because our group had a total of 18 people in it. 10 of which were North Americans and 8 latins. 
The ride into the mission home was gorgeous! Cali is really a special place. I love it already! I just had my first interview with Presidente Prince and have recieved my first assignment! I will serve in my first area called Las Cabas, Cali. Yep, I will be serving  in North Cali! 
I couldn't be more excited! My first companion will be an Elder Matos from the Republica Dominicana! I heard that he plays beisból and has been recruited by the Detroit Tigers and was offered a spot on their Triple A team before his mission until he got hurt, now he is serving his mission! I can't wait to get to know him! 
I will go to my first area tomorrow. Presidente had a such great words about my first companion and the area, he says the people are so ready to hear the gospel and will accept it. 
I was privileged to hear Presidente's vision of the Colombia Cali Mission and it was something that got me fired up. He feels like this mission is different in many ways and really feels like the posterity of the Book of Mormon profetas (prophets) are here today and ready to hear the good news! 
Las Cabas doesn't know what is about to hit it! Can't wait to get started! today we get to go visit Cristo Rey, a landmark in Cali that you should Google right now, apparently I am in for a treat! Anyways I'll have more Monday with pics and some great news I'm sure! 

Elder Eliason