Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Off to Buenaventura...For real this time...

Tender Mercy---Since we were delayed in going to Buenaventura, I was able to witness--and perform--the baptism of Manuel Bermudez.

Hola Familia! Que más!

Wow what a great email mom! I just love being informed once a week on how everything is going back home! I cannot believe Connor gets up at 5:30 to go work out at the rec... that just boggles my mind especially coming from an Eliason! We just don´t get up in the morning, (unless we are missionaries;) haha, and Haley with the new swimming job, just the perfect person to bring happiness to the water! What great news! Thanks for keeping me up to date Mom!

Well I am still here in Valle Grande! But I see that you have been informed via Hermana Prince that a miracle has happened and the strike has ceased! At one point during the week I heard that it was likely to last 2 months or so, apparently the government was just not wanting to budge. It even got so bad that they had to take all of the missionaries out of Popayán (a southern Colombian town and area in the mission)! So I was prepared to stay here another long while when Saturday we heard the news that they had lifted the strike and that they would clear the highways! Off to Buenaventura! I believe I have a Zone Leader training on Wednesday and then head out after that! Can't wait!

Side Note: You need to read Hermana Prince's blog post about the coffee strike and the power of fasting and prayer. In fact, the Colombian press said "Never in the history of coffee has their been an agreement like this." 

However, I did learn a valuable lesson in this whole ordeal. Right before the scheduled transfers I found myself thinking too much in what was going to happen and where I was going to go that I somewhat lost the fire that we had going before. When the strike happened and I wasn't able to go to Buenaventura I instantly knew how the Lord wanted me to react to that situation stop thinking about what's going to happen and focus on what you can control. I came across the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 9:6:
 Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner."
 I knew that I was supposed to learn that lesson! I am grateful for this little trial that I went through because I know it will benefit me the rest of my mission! 

In other news, I have had a great week! First of all I was able to be here for the baptism of Manuel Bermudez! What a tender mercy to be here for that moment. He is someone who I have grown very close to and have seen grow so much. All of the members marvel at how prepared he was for the baptism when he bore his testimony at the end of the service. He is a completely changed man in every sense of the word. My zone leader who did his interview told me that he was one of the most prepared converts he has seen on his mission. I was very humbled and honored to have been asked to perform the baptism, it was such a blessing to feel the newly revived Spirit in such a great man come out of the waters. It was a different feeling in that baptism, I felt a confirmation of the validity of Manuel's repentance and desire to change. And the fact that by all means I shouldn't have even been there made it even sweeter. I am very thankful for such an opportunity. 

I also have great news to tell you about Cindy Jimenez, we had stopped to see her for a while after she had lost a ton of animo (encouragement) because of family. Luis kept trying to help her out but then things got pretty bad between them two as well. It was at the lowest point when one night Luis called us and told us that he thought he had lost his eternal family. Well we decided we would check in on her to see if anything had changed. She agreed to visit with us and she told us that she missed "that feeling" she always had when we were around. We were able to help her realize what had happened and that Satan had tried to destroy what we had going, which would have led to eternal happiness. 
We had such a powerful experience and she agreed that she would come back to church, and she did! She immediately recognized "that feeling" again and decided that despite what happened, she would work again towards baptism! It's a complicated situation what with the family and all, but all of us, including Luis are there to help her out. At least until Wednesday! It was another blessing to see another miracle in this area!

Well that is about it for my week! Just know that I am as focused as ever and looking so much forward to this new opportunity and challenge to serve in Buenaventura... finally! 

Love Y'all!

Elder Eliason

Monday, March 4, 2013

Angry Coffee Producers Won't Halt the Work of the Lord

I introduce to you a great friend Elder Hidalgo de Costa Rica! My zone leader for 6 months!

Thumbs uppppp! Familia Ocampo. that was a tough, yet brief goodbye haha

Hola Familia!

Wow what a great email to get from everyone! Heard from just about everyone in the family today, I just cant explain in these emails what is like to open the page an see everyone sending me something! Definitely puts a smile on my face! 

What a great opportunity Haley and Connor had to do that Mini Mission thing that the ward does for the youth! I remember my mini mission experience and what it did for my desires to serve a mission. That may have been the greatest most humbling experience of my early youth years haha. How grateful we should be for such wonderful church leaders who help the youth put their focus on serving missions at such an early age. The missionaries of the future will be the most prepared missionaries of all time! 

I am also getting super excited to see where Haley gets called on her mission! I will get to be there when that call comes and we get to see which place in the world will be privileged to get that happy and wonderful spirit an smile that she has! I am calling Australia as an early prediction.. haha but I am so glad and blessed to have such a great family, I am grateful for the examples of missionaries that I have had as well as for the ones that will follow.

Well, it has been an interesting week to say the least. Interesting because I am not where I thought I was going to be a week ago. That's right, I am still here in Valle Grande! Long story short is that there are some pretty angry coffee producers here in Colombia that are very frustrated with the way the government has been treating them. They decided to go on strike!  They are now blocking all of the major highways in Colombia. (See Sister    Prince's blog on the links list for some pictures and commentary about the strike).

They are trying to force the government to make a new deal with them by blocking all of the highways so that none of the stores can obtain food or other goods, thus driving the prices WAY up and forcing action. 

It started Tuesday and as of now is still going on. They have met several times and have still not come to an agreement. So last week I had packed up, said my goodbyes and was ready to head to Buenaventura when I got a call telling me that the transfers were delayed! It was an interesting few days after that not knowing what was going to happen and when we were going to leave. And we still have no idea when we will be having transfers. As you can imagine, this is a nightmare for a mission that has 20 new missionaries coming in and only 8 leaving. The new missionaries have to stay in Cali in trios! There is also many other things that are going wrong due to the lack of transfers. It is definitely opposition that we are facing right now. 

President has advised us that Satan knows of the recent boom in the Lord's servants lately and realizes the progress and success that we are about to start having, so he is pulling out all the stops. Right now we need to keep going whatever the circumstance and keep working hard and being obedient and not let this distract us. I am grateful for what the Lord has taught me this past week!

I know that there is opposition in all things for a reason, and sometimes we can't control what happens. But we can control how we react and what we do in spite of the challenges that we are faced with. I learned a lot from Nephi and the story of the broken arch (1 Nephi 16), that when unfortunate things happen like a broken arch when your whole family is counting on you to hunt for food, or a blocked highway keeping missionaries from being transfered, we choose either to complain like Laman and Lemuel, or act like Nephi and look for solutions. I love the quote I got from Cody today:

"We need less fault finders and more solution givers." 

I have no idea when I will be leaving this area but I do know that I have great investigators, great members, and everything we need to move forward in the Work of the Lord right here in Valle Grande! 

A blessing that came out of all of this is that I will now be able to see the baptism of Manuel Bermudez! (hopefully) He has been having trouble with work of late and haven't been able to do it quite yet but we had the interview Saturday and he is already to go Wednesday at 7!  Just a little tender mercy in the midst of hectic-ness haha!

Well that has been my week! Hopefully I will have good news to share with you next week! Or maybe I will be in Buenaventura by then. As of now we have no clue, the situation is unpredictable. But let's just do what we can do and leave the rest up to the Lord! That is something dad taught me last week, we can have imperfections and faults, but if we do our best there is much that the Lord can do to make up for our differences. We are justified in our imperfections, by our faith, and through the blood of Christ.. (Romans 5:1-5)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
If I could ask a favor of the family in behalf of the mission to please pray that these problems can be resolved so that we can go to the areas where the Lord has called us to be. 
Anyways know that I am great and love all of you so much! Have a great week!
Elder Eliason