Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My First Baptism! & Meet Elder Malca...

My first baptism! Meet Viviana Inestroza

Ready to go!

Viviana, her cousin and my companion Elder Malca

We're ready!
 OCTOBER 29, 2012
Hola Familia! 

Wow, a new addition to the family! Lucy looks just like the dog that my mother and sister have always dreamed of! haha, I don{t know if the all dogs go to heaven thing is true but if it is, the Eliason Family will have quite the bunch. I hope Major isn't jealous! 

As for my week here in Colombia, Presidente Prince has introduced a huge theme of the month of November. It is called "Pon tu hombro a la lid" and we are trying to have 3 baptisms per companionship in the month of November. This kind of thing has not been achieved in over 25 years here in Colombia. Here in Cali, we think BIG. I love the attitude in this mission, we love setting our goals high and thinking big to motivate maximum effort to show the Lord that we are fully committed. And with His help we can bring great things to pass. With this idea we will be pretty busy this upcoming month, with finding, teaching, and baptizing and confirming. I sure am excited to accomplish this goal! 

We have 3 baptismal dates placed for now... one being 14 year old Daniela Sanchez, she is the cousin of Viviana who got baptized last week. She understands the lessons really well, and has been reading the B.O.M consistently since she got it. She had a great experience at the baptism of her cousin, she said that she saw how happy it made Viviana and that if a baptism could mean that much to someone, and make such a change in someone´s life, the church had to be true. Such great faith from such a young girl!

The other 2 fechas (baptismal date) we have placed is a mother and daughter. The mom is named Vicky and the daughter Daniela. We found them as referrals from a less active. They are great and have tons of desire, the problem is understanding. They have a difficult time understanding what is being taught, and we are not sure if they fully understand what the commitment of being baptized means. This troubled me because I wasn't sure if we should place fechas or not, knowing that they probably don't know fully what it means. But I prayed and studied and was led to Alma 32:27, and realized that all the Lord asks is just a small desire and that we let that desire work in us to grow into strong faith. We placed fechas and decided that their desire was there, and if they have a desire the Lord will help them understand.

We have others ready to place this week as well, we weren't able to teach Naomi this week because of her crazy study schedule!

Another thing great about the mission is the oppurtunity to work with different missionaries, Elder Malca and Matos are completely opposite types of people. Elder Malca is 25 years old so he brings a ton of wisdom and experience to the work, he teaches really well, and has a desire to work. It has been fun getting to know him and work with him too. I feel like I have more teaching chemistry with him because of his experience. It has been really interesting learning from someone else. Companionships are something I really enjoy about the mission.

As for my Spanish, I feel like I am really getting there! At first, during the lessons I would just try to make sure what I was saying made sense and that I was fulfilling all of the points of doctrine that had to be discussed, but now because I feel more comfortable with Spanish I can listen more to the Spirit during the lessons and form the lessons to the needs of who I am teaching. The words are finally coming to me in the lessons! I am so grateful for the blessings the Lord has given me in this regard. I am grateful for the troubles and trials that I have to go through with Spanish because I have learned to trust in the Lord, and my faith has grown because of it. As for the street talk, that is another story... In Cali the accent is a little weird and I still have trouble with the really quick speech mixed with all the slang. But it is coming haha. Elder Malca always tells me that I speak the best when I am teaching, and we all know why that is! :)

I was studying patience this week, and found a scripture that can help us all.. Romans 8:24-25 

 "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?. But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
This really stook out to me because it applied so well to my mission. I cannot see the blessings of all the hard work we put in every day, but I do have hope that the Lord always fulfills His promises. If we could always see the light at the end of the tunnel we would not need faith or patience to endure the trials. 

I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who tries us so that we can develop faith and patience. I know that God lives because I see His hand in this work every day! I have a hope to be with Him again through His Son Jesus Christ, that is what I am doing here, helping others to gain this very hope! 

I love you all! Thanks for all the prayers, I feel them every day!

Elder Eliason

 NOVEMBER 6, 2012
Hola Familia qué más?

Wow, I just love getting email from family! I heard from just about everyone today, so great to here about how the fam is doing! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Also happy to see that the rest of the fam is working hard and doing well, I'll try to write all of you but I'm not sure haha!

As for me, I am writing you from a brand new area! Yup, I got a call last Monday from my Zone Leaders that I am now to serve in the area Valle Grande, in the Villa Colombia Zone. Needless to say I was shocked, definitely a curveball I wasn't expecting. I was informed that because the mission split back in June, the mission lost a ton of missionaries and in order to rebuild they are sending tons of new recruits every transfer. It looks like they need a ton of good trainers and they needed Elder Matos to train a new elder. 
So here I am in Valle Grande! My new compañero is Elder Malca, he is from Lima, Peru and he has been out a year! So far we have been getting along great! He is a really great teacher and I have already learned a ton from him in the lessons we have had. I have to admit that I do miss Elder Matos a ton. We were great teammates and I was really blessed to have him as my trainer. It was also tough to leave the ward that I "grew up" in. I was just starting to get used to everything and everyone and I was outta there haha. But  I do know that the Lord's hand is in these changes and I am excited to see why I was sent here and the people that I am supposed to find!

In my first week here I was welcomed with a baptism! 15 year old Viviana Inestroza made the decision to take upon herself the name of Christ and enter the waters of baptism! I had the opportunity to be in the last little bit of her lessons and I could see the light in her that was the desire to live a new life in Christ. 
We taught her about covenants using Mosiah 18 and she was so ready to take upon her those covenants. I had the honor of baptizing her! She is the first person I have baptized here in the mission, it was quite the experience! She bore a real powerful testimony at the end of the service and I marvelled at the strong commitment of such a young girl! The service was amazing! A lot of members showed up and made it really special. That is something President Prince has implemented here in the mission. When someone has a memorable and powerful baptismal service, it is something that they will never forget and can always recall how they felt that day.  It was a real blessing to be a part of it all.

I have also been getting around getting to know all of the members and investigators and building new friendships that I hope will last a little longer than a transfer haha. The weird thing too is that I am only 20 minutes away from my old area! I didn't move very far but it seems like another part of the country! It is really developed here, and a lot more land. It's on the very outskirts of Cali. 
But anyway I really love the ward here! There is a ton of "Nido" here! Nido means nest, and it is another thing President has implemented here in the mission. When investigators have friends in the ward and friendships made, it provides a protection system for their growing testimonies. And this ward truly understands that and applies it! 

We also have quite a few progressing investigators! We are preparing quite a few of them for baptism and we are hoping to extend 4 baptismal dates this week! One of them is named Naomi and she is from Buenaventura. Her only problem is that she is so occupied with her studies we can only see her on Sundays. We had a powerful lesson with her yesterday about the restoration and how it applies to her and receiving blessings of the Atonement. She accepted baptism but she thinks it better that she waits until she is a little less occupied with school. 
This week we will try to help her realize that when we know something, we act on it. And that blessings of the Lord aren't things to delay. There are also a few investigators waiting for their papers for marriage, of course... haha but other than that I don't think I have much else to tell you.

Anyways know that I am doing great and loving my new area! I am excited for a new start in a new place with new people! I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a missionary. these experiences that I am having are truly treasure to me, and it seems like I have already had a years worth in just these 4 months or so. 
How great is my calling!
Have a great week!

Elder Eliason

Friday, October 19, 2012

"I am also learning so much about how to be a better missionary."

Drogas means "Drugs"

Hola Familia, ¿Cómo les va? (How are you doing?)

Sounds like everything is going well on your end! Except for the sports... I guess I wore my Texas Longhorn shorts to sleep on Friday night in vain. Oh well. Haha but glad to hear everyone is still doing well!

As for my end here in beautiful Cali Colombia, it had been a bit of a tough week, but great at the same time. A few of our progressing investigators have hit the stand still "not married" category. We call them "convivientes," it's really tough because almost all of them have families and moving out just isn't an option. And a lot of the people in my area just don't have the money to get married. We try to help them build their faith to the point where they will do anything to make a covenant with God, but a lot of them are just so new with the concept of the Gospel, that it is tough for them to have that foundation of faith needed to put all the trust in the Lord. 

It is also difficult with some of them because we aren't teaching the whole family, and their wife/husband isn't on board with the idea of commitment to marriage. It's really sad to see all of these women whose dream is to get married, but the esposo just refuses to make the commitment. So that is something we are dealing with, with about 6 or 7 investigators. Also it seems that people never mean what they say. I can never tell when people are lying to me or not. Luckily my companion has a 6th sense for that kind of thing. The people here are so friendly but also a little flakey. They will rarely tell you that they are not interested, they would rather tell you to come by at a certain time that they know they will not be there. It is something I am learning how to manage haha.

I'll give you some updates on 2 of our solid investigators...

Jesus Moreno- He is the typical golden investigator, he loves to learn about the Gospel and has a deep desire for baptism. We had one of the most powerful lessons of my mission teaching him The Plan of Salvation. I wish you could have seen him take the message of the Atonement. It was like something clicked that made him want baptism more than anything. But as always there are some issues, he is not married and we just started teaching his esposa. She is very Catholic and takes some of the doctrine a little tough. However, they have a daughter who is interested as well and hopefully we can set a date with her this upcoming week.

Maria Eva- The baptismal date with her fell because of marriage issues as well, she still shows real desire and she even came to the ward activity we had today. She was a little disheartened when we told her about the Law of Chastity. She just doesn't see anyway that she can get married, but we will find a way! The Lord always will provide a way if we show enough faith!

We also had a few miracles happen this week! We were looking for our new investigators found in the Desenbarcos and we were having absolutely zero success, it was during the Colombia vs. Paraguay fútbol game (when there is a national futbol game on, it's like the Super Bowl) and everyone said that they were busy or weren't interested anymore. It was a little depressing for Elder Matos and I, it was definitely "one of those days." 

That was until we came across one lady who we found in her home who said that her son told her not to read the Book of Mormon because it was false, and a bunch of other things that he had heard. So we asked her if we coud talk with him and she obliged. Somehow, we found him in his home too and started talking with him about what he had heard. He had heard that we worship Joseph Smith and believe him to be our Savior, and a bunch of other false things about the church. We then taught him the truth about what we believe and he completely changed, he said that he had been looking for a church that has "real" doctrine and doesn't waver with their morals. He is way interested and we can't wait to teach him the restoration. This was a miracle for me.

There was also another small miracle that we had during a FHE at a members home. We decided that the spiritual message should be on the importance of the scriptures, and we put some of our favorite scriptures in a bag for the people to choose and read aloud and tell how that scripture could apply to them. It just so happened that a little kid of about 10 years picked Nephi 11:17, that says even though I dont know the meaning of all things, I know that God loves His children. He started to cry thinking that it was a miracle that he picked that scripture. And then the only person in the house who wasn't a member picked Alma 5:45-46, that tells how Alma came to know the truth of all things by the spirit of revelation. We got a new investigator out of that miracle. And I just happened to pick Mosiah 2:17, when we are in the service of our fellow beings we are in the service of our God. That night was such a tender mercy for me.

These past couple weeks have been so up and down it's crazy. There are some days I feel on top of the world and some days where it seems nothing is going right. But I am also learning so much about how to be a better missionary. It seems to me that whenever I think I got this down, the Lord humbles me with more weaknesses. I am grateful because I know He is just going to help me make them strong!

¡Que tengan una buena semana llena de éxito!
(Have a great week full of success!)

Elder Eliason

Monday, October 8, 2012

We must not live life with the finish line in mind

Hola Familia!
First of all I would like to wish Jord and Trista a happy anniversary! I am proud to say that I was there on that great day in Salt Lake! What a great memory I have of being there for that special day. In other news I am shocked about the Rangers, I guess that´s the good thing about the mission is that I didn't have to see it or dwell on it haha.
As for my week here in colorful Cali, Colombia, it has been a tough but great one at the same time. As the work goes we had some stumbling blocks with our investigators, and Elder Matos was as sick as a perro this week. He just caught some chills and weakness one day and couldn't shake it for about three days. So for 3 days we were stuck in the house while he tried to recover. Luckily we were able to go to General Conference and partake of the spiritual feast that it was! So combined with my good 24 hours of study time in the house and General Conference, to say that I got a fill of the good Word of God would be an understatement. But I loved studying in the house because every morning it seems like just 1 hour just isn't enough. I have learned so much this week! And what an announcement! I know of a few sisters that I knew from HT that are very excited about this news haha. And I got to watch it in English! Me and 2 other gringos were able to watch the conference separately and hear the good words of the apostles and prophets in our native tongue!
As for my investigators it's a little bittersweet, we had to let go of Jorge Octado this week. After the powerful lesson we had with him he started asking around at his Catholic church and apparently heard some things that hindered the growth of his faith. The next 2 lessons he just wanted to argue with whatever we were teaching no matter what it was, for some reason he just can't turn from his catholic roots. Very sad but I hope that someday he will remember that powerful experience and allow his faith to grow so that he can cast out all of his doubts.
 On a brighter note, Maria Eva is still progressing, but she is having some trouble recognizing answers to her prayers. She feels like she doesn't feel how she should when she is praying. But she is determined to find an answer, she really wants a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of these things. In my personal study I studied personal witnesses to see if I could help her receive her answer. 

I came upon the stories of Enos and Alma, two of the more famous conversion stories in the Book of Mormon. I read about how Enos hungered and prayed all day long to receive his answer, (Enos 1:3). And about how Alma "fasted and prayed many days" to know of the truth, even after he saw an angel of the Lord. (Alma 5:45-46). I came to realize that it takes extreme faith and at times sacrifice to prove to the Lord that you are faithful enough, and ready to act on an answer from the Holy Ghost. And then in General Conference I was able to learn about true conversion from Elder Bednar, he talked about how conversion cannot be borrowed. Conversion happens over time by making good choices and experimenting on the good word of God. This helped me a ton to see why sometimes people don't receive personal witnesses easily, because as another general authority said this weekend, there is no witness more sure than a witness from the Holy Ghost. Even an angel in Alma the Younger's case. With an answer from God comes much responsibility to act on it.
Other than those few bits of news there hasn't been a ton to note here except that we did contact a few of the new people we found in all the finding last week and we are very optimistic about thrusting in our sickles this week! President Prince has set a goal for the mission for every companionship to extend 3 fechas bautismales this week, and we are excited about what is in store!
Other General Conference notes: I loves Elder Eyring's talk about how sometimes our will influenced by the world sometimes affects our closeness with God, we create the pavilions that obstruct our closeness with heaven. We must be submissive!
Another one was Elder Holland, it got me motivated to "feed the sheep" and prove to the Lord that I do love Him enough to serve Him with all my might! What a moving talk, I love Elder Holland.
But perhaps my favorite was Dieter F Uchdtorf, saying that we need to take our time in life and enjoy every blessing that we receive. We must not live life with the finish line in mind, that is what I plan to do here in the mission! Take advantage of every day and every opportunity I have to teach these great people! Let's all take a few time outs now and then and enjoy life and recognize how blessed we really are! Count your blessings, they are many!
Have a great week! ¡Para siempre Dios esté con vos! -Elder Eliason