Friday, December 20, 2013

"If success isn't there in the mission, sacrifice something."

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

Heyyy family!

Wow what a bummer with the Cowboys. I know Mack Brown is the one stepping down but I'm calling for Jerry Jones to step down... come on.. but that is good news for the Allen Eagles! Wooh state 2013! I feel super old that its already gonna be 3 years since I graduated from there, ohhhh gooodness. Glad to hear the fam will be almost completely united this week! I hope everyone cherishes the Christmas season!

It has been a very spiritual week this week, it started off with a great zone conference! We were instructed by president all about how to become the "messenger" God wants us to become while we are on His time. We were taught that obedience and sacrifice is what qualifies us for the grace that is received through the Atonement of Christ. It was very spiritual and I learned quite a bit. 
While pondering later on in personal study I found examples in the scriptures that taught me about true sacrifice and the blessings that come from it like Adam and Eve and Abraham, Job, and even Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith said that "a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” If we are not sacrificing we are in our comfort zone, and the enabling power of the Atonement does not cover the comfort zone. I remember back in mission prep before the mission Brother Wright told us that if success isn't there in the mission, sacrifice something. That helped me a lot in Ipiales when the success just wasn't there. We had to sacrifice in order to let the Lord know we were willing to give it all to move forward His work. What a great lesson that our inspired mission president gave us!

We then saw the movie "The Rescue of Ephraim." Goodness gracious if you haven't seen that movie I suggest you do! Great example of sacrifice and obedience that all can learn from! That would be a great Eliason Christmas Family Activity!

As for the work here in Popayan, it sure is going along. We had 18 lessons with members this past week! They have been responding well to our "Christmas message" we have been giving to all of them this season. That the best gift you can give is a gift to Christ, don't let Him out of your Christmas" That is pretty much the campaign we are running here because we were told all the members kind of flake out during the Christmas season. NOT THIS ONE! haha. 

We had a few troubles with Andres this past week, he is still super excited but he wants to have his old girlfriend move in with him again. We taught him the Lord's stand on that subject and he will have to make the decision to follow his wishes or what the Lord wants for him. It's one of the hard parts about the mission seeing people so great who you have come to love choosing the world over the gospel but that is the greatness of God's plan..."... for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free." (Helaman 14:30

However there is great news! Mabel the recent convert has been helping her 21 year old sister Ana progress! She started talking to her about the great change she has had while investigating the Church and finally sparked her interest. So she called us and told us to go and teach her! We taught a great lesson on the Restoration and it seemed to have answered a lot of her questions. at church the Relief Society had a testimony meeting and she said she really felt something strange inside her chest that felt like pure happiness (or... the spirit.) She came out of the room crying and I had no idea if that was good or bad haha, turned out good. 

We also had 7 other people at church this week that are pretty much new so that is exciting to see that we have a lot of people to be working with! It has been such a good time here in Popayan, there is always someone to teach every day and that is a missionarys dream aint' that right Codes?

I am looking forward to the Christmas call, I think it would be best on Saturday. I will call home (for just a sec) probably on Friday to set up the time and what not. Again, Christmas day or eve is IMPOSSIBLE to find anything open. So we'll talk then! 

I am still so happy as a missionary, it seems like I will always be a missionary haha. I am so happy and am so grateful to be so immersed in the Work of God! 

Talk to you Friday (for a sec), then for an hour on Saturday!

Elder Eliason

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"During Christmas time because all of the kids are out of school and the families are all on vacation, so it's a little lonely at church nowadays."

Activity with the niños jugando juegos

Helping put up Christmas decorations at a members house!

Saturday night was a huge tradition of lighting candles outside the houses or something like that, and after teaching the lesson to Andres we helped them out. It was pretty fun... 

This little girl is the grandkid of the Andres I was talking about, the guy holding her below is his son. 

And.... we wish you a Merry Christmas from Colombia! Elders Eliason and Menendez haha

Hello Familia!

Thanks for the updates mom and dad! I will be praying for a great result for Haley's application in to BYU! Allen Eagles are still riding through the playoffs like its 2009, and it is colder than ever in Allen, Texas. I remember my senior year in Feburary we had 5 straight days off, think you can beat that? Well all in all, it sounds like a great start to the Christmas season! 

We also had a great start to the Christmas season with the devotional last night! I saw it in Spanish but it was still great! I loved the words of the hymn the little kids sang at the end during Elder Nelson's talk. I remember getting paid $5 to sing that song in sacrament with Codes back in the day! "I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in His way." Now those words mean a lot more to me than when I sang that song! Every day in the mission I marvel at how it was possible for Him to be perfect. I have so many things to work on every single day and have so many faults that trying to be like Him is a lifelong work in progress. That's why I am thankful for the mission because it has taught me to see things more the way He would see things.

Well as for the Work here in Popayan, we are still working with the members and helping a ton of less actives. It is a little bitter sweet during Christmas time because all of the kids are out of school and the families are all on vacation, so it's a little lonely at church now a days. A lot of the investigators have left as well so it becomes a little challenging filling out that planner every night. But the Work must go on and this is the time to give everyone the message about why the birth of Christ is something we celebrate!

I remember last Christmas being super weird being away from home for the first time, but I also remember how sweet it was to be away from all of the commercialism and lose myself in a better cause. And now with this being my last Christmas in the mission I really want to focus and take advantage of the opportunity we have here! 

This Saturday we had a cool activity of service where we went to a super humble neighborhood to help a bunch of little kids in need with a morning full of games and fun and then a lunch afterwards. It reminded me of last year when our zone got to go to an orphanage to help out all the niños. I don't think I'll ever think of Christmas the same now. I always heard it was better to give than to get for Christmas, but I never believed it until I experienced it. Just like so many other things in the Gospel. 

I will tell you about a great new progressing investigator we are teaching! His name is Andres, and he has 46 years old. His story is a bit crazy. He had attended church as a little boy for many years with his family and was the only non member only because he wasn't 8 years old. Well after the infamous earthquake in 1983 here the house chapel they used at that time got destroyed and the family moved to a small pueblo nearby. The years went by and Andres moved out and never found the church again. 

Well later on he moved back to Popayan and just 2 years ago the missionaries found his son who is now 23 and taught him. He eventually got baptized but his father never felt worthy enough to go to church or even investigate with all of the family problems that were going on at the time. Turns out that last week we found his son through the records of the church and found Andres as well. We taught him and helped him understand that God forgives and invited him to church and he came! Wooh! He is really prepared and needs the Gospel in his life, I know he will continue to progress.

Well I think that is it for today!

Ohhhh, the Skype call! It's pretty much like last year, any day from Dec 20-Dec 31 I can Skype. Just let me know what ya'll want to do! I have a full hour so hit me up with when you want to do it! I can call you guys before to fix the exact time as well! Look forward to speaking to you all!

Elder Eliason

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"As members strengthen others, they strengthen themselves!"

Servicio Bautismal

Mabel got baptized! 

WOW, we're already in December! 

I am glad everything went great for Thanksgiving! We had lunch this past Thursday with an Hermana who tried to give us turkey but it didn't end up working out, turns out it is super expensive and hard to get here! Looks you were all watching a ton of football! High School, college, and NFL. Great news about the continued success of the Allen Eagles, what a machine! And that Nike logo is just about the coolest logo I have ever seen.... goodness. And I love the idea of the one scripture a day thing, sounds like a great way to remember the spiritual side of Christmas. I'm in!!

Here in Popayan it has been going great! We have been focusing a lot on just about every phase of the Work of Salvation. Working with less actives, teaching new investigators, and retaining the recent converts! Yesterday we had all of the recent converts from the past 6 months in church!! That may not sound like much but there has been over 20 converts, and for Colombia that is saying quite a lot! We have been teaching the branch about retaining converts and what they need to stay active and firm in the new path they have chosen. 

Gordon B. Hinckley had a great quote that says every convert needs 3 things, 1. a friend 2. a responsibility and 3. be nurtured by the Word of God. We have been teaching pretty much all of our lessons with members so that the investigator immediately has a friend, and run around church like maniacs setting up what our mission calls "nidos" which is basically when a member does something to help an investigator feel good at church (like showing them to classes, teaching them the hymns, giving them a Liahona, sitting by them, etc.) We basically refuse to work alone...

We have also been working a lot harder giving the converts assignments. Something I never realized that I loved about the church is all the opportunities we have to serve and ACT in the gospel and not just show up every Sunday. When a convert has something to do where he or she feels useful and feels his testimony growing, they will stay for sure. But it takes a certain liveliness in the ward to really make all this happen, and that missionary spirit is the best when everyone does his part. For way too long the missionaries have worked separate from the members and the failure to retain shows that. Especially in Colombia and other Latin-american countries where there are so many believing hearts who get baptized, as members strengthen others, they strengthen themselves! 

Speaking of which we had another baptism this week! Mabel got baptized! She was going great ever since last week and so we had a ton of time to prepare the baptismal service and it turned out SUPER. I have learned that a baptismal service done well can be a super effective tool in reactivating, retaining and finding!"Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest." (D&C 84:20) The Spirit is felt so strongly there that everyone has a great experience! We had a choir, a violinist, pianist, and we took advantage giving an assignment to a recent convert to give the talks! And it turned out great! Mabel was super happy and she will be a great convert to the church, she was given to us by a member, fellowshipped by members, and finally became a member! That's how it's done! 

We are also working with all of the other investigators I told you about last week as well, involving the members in every of the cases because it is really ugly finding out that one's converts haven't gone back to church, I hate that feeling and I have come to learn that the only way to make sure they make it is involving the members who will be able to stay with them in the long run. So let's all get it in gear and help the missionaries! 

I love being a missionary so much, I can't even believe the "mission year" is coming to an end! I can't wait for these last 7 months to apply all that I have learned here! 

Espero que todos puedan empezar la temporada de la Navidad con un espíritu de paz y adoración por nuestro Señor y Redentor Jesucristo. Acuérdanse del Porqué en vez de sólo el Qué de la navidad. Que Dios nos ayude a recordar por qué somos tan afortunados de tener este hermoso evangelio en nuestras vidas!

Break out the Google Translate!!

I hope everyone can start the Christmas season in a spirit of peace and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why Acuérdanse instead of only what christmas. May God help us to remember why we are so fortunate to have this beautiful gospel in our lives!

Hasta luego! Les quiero a todos!

Élder Eliason 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"what is really the measure of success in the mission is commitment to the Lord's Work."

Heyyy there family!!

Wow great news on the sports front, if you are a Rangers fan that is... the story on McCann is just tragic, everyone knows you can't go from a Brave to a Yankee, come onnn! Cowboys are also looking great! Well, not that great but it works! 

I can't believe it is already Thanksgiving! This year flew by like nothing else and we are already almost in December! I wish everyone a great Thanksgiving, I can't wait to finally taste real pie next year haha. I think I said this last year but there is no such thing as Thanksgiving here, or anywhere in South America haha so everyone is just getting ready for Christmas early! There is already a ton of lights out! Holiday spirit!

Okay so there is a lot to write about this week...

First of all, our investigators are doing great. I believe I told you about Mabel last week, she has progressed a ton! She reads, prays, and comes to church every week now. She only had a few doubts because she didn't have a ton of friends in the Church and she felt a little strange in such a new place for her. As far as testimony goes, she is right where she needs to be. We had a great lesson with her this Friday where we had a brother from the Branch come with us to go over the interview questions and help her out with any last doubts before her baptism on Saturday. She answered every question with a resounding yes, and proved to herself that she is prepared to take this step. We were able to testify that the interview was not made up by us as missionaries, but is made up by the leaders of the Church and by the scriptures (D&C 20:37) to see who is qualfied for baptism and who isn't. We are looking to have a super spiritual baptismal service to help her and everyone who attends have a great experience.

Laura and Giovanny also came to church for the first time this week, and it was great because their daughter got to participate in the Primary program! They loved it and had a great experience their first Sunday at church. They seem to be progressing the only problem they have is time, they don't have a lot of it. We can only see them once a week, and they are still apprehensive about changing religion so fast, we have come to realize they don't have a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon yet, and if they come to obtain one everything will fall into place by itself. That is what we will focus on in our short time we have with them this week.

We also found a new progressor this week looking for inactive members with the branch list. This has always worked out well for me in my mission. In the families of members are always found great investigators, and an inactive to reactivate! Well we found a lady inactive named Yolanda and her son Juan David who is a nonmember. Well it was great because Juan David was really and I mean really receptive. We taught the Restoration and gave him a B.O.M. Great lesson. And he came to church! Looks like he will progress fast.

I am leaving out a ton but those are the key ones for this week... que pena.

I have been studying a lot this week humility and its importance in Missionary Work and in life itself. It must be an important topic because a huge message of the Book of Mormon is how pride got the best of an entire civilization and was the downfall in the end. Sometimes pride can be the downfall of missionaries as well. With the leadership system that is set up by the church in the missions it is easy for us to get caught up in who's gonna be the next ZL or Assistant, but what is really the measure of success in the mission is commitment to the Lord's Work. We are all "unprofitable servants" according to King Benjamin and can never become good enough as missionaries. Leadership is not found in the position, but in the leader. One great quote Code sent me one time says it best. "Greatness isn't in us, it is through us." Humility can be a great power as well. I think that is what Paul meant in this scripture, (2 Cor 12:9-10):

 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 

When we recognize our weaknesses and show our faith by working to overcome them, grace fills our life and we are given power beyond our means. However pride never recognizes its faults, and can never gain the faith to work to overcome them, complacency becomes laziness and leads to nothing but lack of progress. I also love a scripture I found in Acts!

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

Wow, that just speaks for itself the power that was received by 2 apostles of the Lord and humility that permitted them to be filled with such power and grace!

Let us all be humble and I promise we will be blessed! Well thanks for all the prayers for me and the mission. I am still loving it! I will keep loving it until the very end!

Till next week ya'll!

Elder Eliason 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"It has been a lot of fun with Elder Menendez. We get along just super great."

Ivan Benavidez of 19 years got baptized!

Hiya mi gran familia! 

Nt much going on at home huh? Well on the contrary here in the mission field!! 

Well we are now pretty much accustomed to the new area, it has been a lot of fun with Elder Menendez he is such a laid back, chill character with a great sense of humor. We get along just super great. He really knows how to work too, he has a ton of creative ideas on how to move the work along quicker and more efficient. We just have a blast in Popayan!

Well I can't remember if I told you guys that we were gonna have another baptism this week or not... but we did! Ivan Benavidez of 19 years got baptized! It was great to see because when we got here he had been taught just about everything, he just had trouble believing that he was ready for such a big commitment. We had a great week involving him in various activities with the branch that helped him feel more in family, we had a great lesson with him helping him understand the true requirements for baptism and that it is the beginning of something much bigger. Also, the doctrine of the Priesthood helped him a lot with giving him the desire to serve others. In the end, the decision was made! 2 weeks in Popayan, 2 baptisms! 

We also have a few other progressing investigators I can tell you about. 

Mabel: She is about 23 years old and we found her last week through another investigator who has a son in the mission. Mabel is the other investigator's niece and so the missionary is her cousin. She is progressing super fast, she had come to church before but the missionaries thought she was a member so she never got contacted. We have taught her the first three lessons and also the Sabbath Day. That was the main issue with her, she thought that going to church was just something we do if we have time or if we feel like it and didn't quite understand the commandment part of it. 

She understood the What, just not the Why. So we had a great lesson on it and it helped her understand that it is for our own good that we have this commandment. We have so many worries and become "spotted by the world" during the week that we need a time to reflect on our real purpose for being here. I love what the Guide for the Scriptures in Spanish says about it.. "It is our time to remember Him." It is a great time for self evaluation of how we are doing in our eternal progression, the key to salvation is remembrance. I pray I always remember what I have learned on my mission.

Cristina: She is a great investigator, just has a problem giving up the Catholic church because of ties with the family. We found her through an inactive member, she lives in the same house as the inactive who recently got active! I believe we just need to make her feel a part of the family with the branch because she keeps all of the commitments and has a strong testimony, she just needs to feel more supported. 

Jionny and Laura: They are married! What a miracle.... haha. We found them through a reference from a member and they are really receptive. Well, they werent at first but have gradually opened up to the message. With Elder Menendez I feel as in tune with my companion as I ever have teaching. The Spirit is always really strong in our lessons, and Jionny and Laura have felt it. That is the only explanation that they have progressed because when we found them they already had a church, and they loved it. But when the doctrine of the Restoration is fully comprehended and the Spirit bears witness of it, it can change everything. We are really hoping they keep progressing because the branch needs more families, and they would be just super.

Well I thought I was gonna have more time to talk about the investigators but I guess not. I'll have to tell you about the rest next week. But it should be super fun next week because we have a ton of splits lined up. It is always so fun to work with other missionaries in other areas! 

Have a great week!

Elder Eliason

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Of all the districts in the mission Popayan is the closest to becoming a Stake."

A cool sunset

With future missionary Santiago and Elder Rodriguez, the best district leader ever.

Gabriel Diaz returned missionary from Chile Vina del Mar, great guy to do divisions with.

 A wonderful family who came to church my last Sunday, they all have a baptismal date!

 Diana Enriquez who I never got to see get married...

In Ipiales posing like a soccer team

The beloved familia Malez who we activated
Baptism here in Popayan!
Some great member families who were the greatest ward missionaries ever.

I will miss these valiant members!

The convert family Regalado came to meet me at the terminal!

Saying goodbye to Elder Cordova

Hola Familia!

Well this week was really interesting! We got here to Popayan and had to get to know the area, zone, city, members, chapel, and everything else being super new! The members have been a huge help, they have been showing us around and helping us get to know the people who the missionaries were teaching. It has an advantage being new because you can pretty much ask anything you want to get to know them and it helps you understand better what it is they need to progress! So we have been spending a lot of the week with members and getting to know the area.

What was really great was that the Elders before us were preparing a great young man named Camilo for baptism this week, and we were able to make it happen! Camilo had been going to church for like a year now and hadn't been baptized because his parents wanted to see a real change in him and to know that he would stick with the decision. Well, after a year they gave the permission and he finally got to be baptized. His desire is to be a missionary some day and help people who need to feel loved. Great kid and it was an honor to be apart of the baptism! 

Elder Menendez and I had a great meeting with the District President about what was to be done about using the missionaries we have to build a stake here in Popayan. He gave us a list of all the recent converts for the last 3 years and told us to look for the men who have not been ordained to the Priesthood. The 2 main requirements to becoming a stake are at least 15 Melchezidek Priesthood Holders (MPH) who pay a full tithing and there must be 1 MPH who pays tithing for every 20 members. So we are looking for families with a stable father. President Zambrano is really excited to bring Popayan to the next level. Of all the districts in the mission Popayan is the closest to becoming a stake. 

We have been thinking about giving a training this week on how to better commit our investigators. The investigators are a lot more likely to progress if they feel how much it matters to us that they progress, and that will only come by inviting them to change directly and firmly and promising the blessings that will follow. 
If we teach the perfect lesson and the investigator doesn't feel committed to do anything we have failed in our objective. We are to invite others to COME unto Christ... with "come" being an action word. We cannot believe our teaching will change the actions of our investigators because they will learn the most when we are not present. The commitments we leave every lesson are the most important part, we must do it right. There is a great chapter in Preach My Gospel that I love about committing investigators, but sometimes we stop studying it as we get older in the mission. I am excited to give the training and hopefully see some good results come of it.

Speaking of training we have another ZL Council this week and I am SO happy I no longer have to travel 13 hours to get there...what a relief... 

Sorry this letter is way random... I'm sure next week I will have a better base from which to talk about! But I will send a ton of pics! 

Have a great week!

Elder Eliason

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Build a Stake in 2 and a half months? That´s why the Lord chose you."

My trainer, Elder Matos, heading home! Photo Courtesty of Hermana Prince Blog

Hola familia! This is gonna be pretty quick because we have to get out and start getting to know the knew area. This will be the second time that I will be "opening" an area with there being two new missionaries in the area. Like I said before my new comp is Elder Menendez from Uruguay and I'm super excited, he is a great missionary who I will learn a ton from. 

I got a message from President the other day expaining my new assignment: 

Elder Eliason,
You have been assigned to Popayan, which has lately come alive.  Your companion will be Elder Menendez.  The two of you have a very unique assignment ... to help Popayan become a Stake of Zion.  You lack more worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders who pay a full tithe, primarily in the Occidente branch. (Elder Menendez will bring the figures).  Help the members participate in tithing settlement ... this will bring the district closer.  Your zone must also baptize men and families in high volume while helping retain and activate former members.  Get this largely done before Elder Menendez goes home in January. Sounds easy, right?  Build a Stake in 2 and a half months? That's why the Lord chose you.
-Presidente Prince

So that will be the objective here... build a stake of Zion. Popayan has been on the verge for a while now of becoming a stake, it just needs  few more worthy Melchezidek Priesthood holders. I am really excited about this opportunity as I have been wanting to get to know Popayan for a while now. It is a city quite a bit bigger than Ipiales but smaller than Pasto, with incredible weather year round. It reminds of Utah in the summer, not too hot and not too cold. Also the zone we have here is massive, there are 20 missionaries here in Popayan. So I am looking forward to working with so many different missionaries. Another fun fact is that I will be living with 2 other missionaries again just like in Buenaventura and one of them is a new gringo, so that should be fun helping with Spanish and all. 

And last night I got in and immediately went into the area with the old ZL who was here to show me around and introduce some members and investigators. It was great because here there are a ton! I am excited to start working and getting to know everyone a little bit better! 

Saying goodbye to Ipiales was super tough. A lot of hard work and lessons learned in that city, it will never be forgotten. The hardest goodbye was with Claudia, she came to church again after a battle with the husband and kept showing her faith. My last wish was that she would keep choosing what the Lord wanted over what the world tells her to do, which in essence, is the factor that will determine each one of our success in this life. She agreed and said goodbye. There was also the Familia Malez who we helped activate that was a tough goodbye as well. I would love to go back and see all the work that I couldnt see finish, get taken advantage of. 

So that is about it! I am ready to get started here! I have always looked up to Elder Menendez as just an incredible leader, and I am grateful for the opportunity God has given me to learn from him and hopefully apply it all for the rest of my mission. I will most likely get the opportunity to "kill" him in the mission and that is something I have never done, to be honest I have only had 1 companion with less time than me in the mission, weird huh? Well cant wait to tell ya´ll all about this week on Monday.

Goodbye pics and new area pics are coming your way next time, so stay tuned! 

¡¡¡¡Que les vaya muy, pero muy bien!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Time flies when you're havin fun!" And that I am!

We had a great activity with all the ward missionaries from the branch this week! This is one excited Missionary Team!

"Don't throw away trash" haha 

Baptism of Oscar

28 de Octubre, 2013

Wow look at that headline! We are almost in November! I would not be exaggerating if I said that this year has gone by faster than any other year of my life! Good time for the cliché "Time flies when you're havin fun!" And that I am! 

Well not much news on the home front but shout out to mom for making the great effort with the letter! Definitely appreciated... Dad, you're falling behind. Although some props are deserved from that BroTrip 2013 video that mom sent me, and all that with the iPhone?! Tragic Cowboys losses are always difficult... but it looks like the Horns are comin' back! And what a drag of a World Series eh? I'll give the nod the BoSox for the Jill and Chris fam haha. 

Here in Ipiales is always fun. We had some great stuff happen this past week! And by great stuff I mean miracles! First off we had an old investigator make a huge comeback, Oscar Chavez who had investigated the church about 8 years ago, 4 years ago and about 6 months ago finally found the answer he was looking for! The miracle happened and he was baptized! He has a brother who is a member and from many, many years of prayer they were finally answered. It was amazing to see because to be honest the missionaries didn't really do much in this case, there was not really much more to do! But a prayer and a miracle interview made it happen. What a joy to see the Lord's hand so plainly in this Work! 

Another miracle happened with Claudia! Well it started off amazing, then horrible, then amazing again. Like I have said before she is the most prepared of any investigator I have ever had. So we arranged a visit with the husband who had been making it difficult for her attend church, and it went great! We spoke of the family and the blessings they can receive through the Gospel, even Claudia bore an amazing testimony about how strong she feels about the Church. His heart was softened and he agreed to come to church. 

So Sunday came around and for some reason they didn't get there, worried, we called them and there was no answer. We had no idea what was happening. Then we receive a call from Claudia crying and telling us that something had happened. Her husband didn't keep his commitment and not only that but he told her to choose if she wants to be with him or keep attending church. He put the ultimatum and obviously Claudia had no idea what to do. She had her 7 year old there with her, and felt the impression that she should go to church and that everything would be fine. 

I can't imagine how she felt, totally believing that he was going to come and having that be his reaction. I was stunned at the faith that she showed and humbled at the strength of conversion. She trusted the promise that Alma gave his son... 

For I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma 36:3) 

The tender mercy for me at least was the last hymn "I am a child of God" There she was leading and guiding her son and helping him find the way even if she cant quite enter that way. It was a spiritually overwhelming experience for sure.

We also had a great week finding new people to teach. We found a lady named Venus who was found in the street of all places who was super prepared. Usually the prepared investigators come from the members, but in this case the Lord was rewarding our extra effort! 

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward... "Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward." (DC 58:26-28) 

That scripture has helped me A LOT in my mission to not make excuses and just act. In the same way we found a wonderful family of 5! Just a ton of blessings this past week.

This week is a big week that we are looking forward to, big goals that the mission has planned for everyone! So keep us in our prayers, especially us in Ipiales because we really have desires to give our all these next months. Not sure if I will be here much longer, but I know the Lord put me here with these missionaries for something! Thanks for everything I love you all! 

Espero que todos puedan tener a Colombia en sus oraciones, este país hermoso las necesita!

Elder Eliason 

Monday, October 21, 2013

"When we make an effort to actively seek out the blessings that we have received we realize how blessed we are.."

Hiya familia! Todo bien? 

I must start the letter with certainly the most important shout out I can make, HAPPY BIRTHDAY mother! I haven't been there to share it with you for your 30-15th and 30-16th birthdays but I wish you all the best. I am thankful for the great support I have always had from mother dear, from sports, to school, to church to the mission! I certainly miss the good ole days picking up the kids from school! That was certainly quite the hoot haha. I have never gone so long without hearing a "breakfrust" or a good ole genuine "mom laugh" but I definitely miss it! Happy birthday mom!

 Well this week has been a blast! I must first comment on a really fun part of the week. One of the returned missionaries in our branch, Franklin, has been studying English ever since he got home, and he has been inviting us to some classes to teach! I have discovered a love for teaching English to Latin people. It is so much fun and helps me learn more about the English language that I didn't know before. I had had some experience teaching in Buenaventura but not with such advanced students. 

Before and after each lesson we say a prayer in English and I am also able to tell what we do as missionaries, and a little about our message to the world. The biggest fruit we have obtained from this unique method of proselyting is a family of one of the other teachers. We were invited to an anniversary of the death of a loved one of the family and thought it would be a great opportunity to ease the pain with the peace that comes from understanding the Plan of Salvation. We attended and then shared our message. It was so wonderfully received, and it was so easy to tell that this family had been prepared to receive us. 

Another great experience we had this week happened with Claudia! We got permission to travel to the small town where she lives to try and talk with the husband to see if we could help him be more tolerant with the church and to teach about marriage. We had a great experience! We thought it best to gain his friendship and trust before trying to get into a gospel discussion following the example of Nephi:
 " And it came to pass that we went up unto the house of Ishmael, and we did gain favor in the sight of Ishmael, insomuch that we did speak unto him the words of the Lord." (1 Nephi 7:4) 
We decided to play some games and tell home stories to gain the trust, and it worked great, he seemed to have a great interest in American Culture. We then were able to "speak unto him the words of the Lord." Claudia gave her testimony of the Gospel and there was no doubt that her husband felt the Spirit. His heart was touched and he agreed to no longer be a problem for her to come to church! And the easy part was the wedding because he had been wanting to for awhile. We offered our help and left with Claudia to go to church! Miracle!

Also, this week we met a family member of a family in our Branch who is named Marcela! She has received the missionaries before in Quito, Ecuador, but was forced to move to Colombia for complications with the visa. We had a great lesson in the home of a member and we were able to teach a lot in not a lot of time. The reason for that is because she had already read the B.O.M. and received an answer from God. All we did was help her realize what that meant. That she had a testimony of the restoration as Joseph Smith as the prophet of God. That the church has been restored as it was originally established by Jesus Christ. That the principles and ordinances of the Gospel have been restored to help us know what God wants us to do in this life, and that the Priesthood of God is available to make sacred covenants with God once again! That didn't take very long to teach, and we set a date for baptism this Saturday. Another Miracle!

We also were out visiting a bunch of less actives and we ran into a particular family who seemed to have been waiting and expecting our visit. We found out that the mother was a member and that the daughter of 17 wanted to be, but the husband did not want the family to leave a family tradition of a longgg time. We found out that the daughter had been to church one time and had such a powerful experience that she knew it was true at once. However, her father would not let her attend. It seems we have a lot of problems with men!! haha She told us she has been praying and even fasting for a while so that her father will have his heart softened so that she can fulfill with the desires of her heart. When she was telling us this her mother's heart was touched and she wanted to help. We set up an appointment to speak with the father on Tuesday! Wish us luck! Another miracle!

Well those are just a few of the miracles experienced this week! I have found that being grateful and humble is a power in missionary work. When we make an effort to actively seek out the blessings that we have received we realize how blessed we are and how active God´s hand is in this Work, our faith increases and we are empowered by grace to incredible things. There is a lot of disheartening things that happen in missionary work, but the key is to keep trying with faith remembering your blessings. It is actually a very simple concept, that can transform a missionary if applied to right degree. I read an article in this month´s Liahona about a missionary who applied this principle in her mission and saw it change everything,
y´all should read it! 

Thanks for the prayers on my behalf! That is one of the things that I am so grateful for is such a wonderful family who supports me on my mission! Your prayers are felt when I need them the most! Love you all!

Elder Eliason