Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Coming off a High from Work of Salvation Broadcast

Fammmilliaaa como les va este verano?
I think everything is going well from the sounds of everything... Even Dad is getting some sweet relief from the Texas heat in beautiful San Diego! haha the bad thing is going camping in July is not the best way to avoid the heat... but I'm sure you'll have fun with the whole fam there!
Wow I am coming off a high from last nights national broadcast of the Work of Salvation! Did you guys see that? I hope so because Missionary Work has changed and will keep changing for the better! It really got me so excited to start working more with the members. 

I have seen both sides of the Work here in my mission, when members are fully involved and when the work is pretty much done by the missionaries and I can fully testify that it goes way better when the members play an active role in finding, teaching, and retaining investigators. We as missionaries are here to help with Missionary Work, not to do it all. We are full time teachers, while the members are full time finders. (see David A Bednar, Ask in Faith) 

The members have an opportunity to gain friendships that missionaries just don't have. The first thing that someone thinks when we knock their door is "oh no what does he want to sell me?" The members have a chance to be an example of someone normal, (or not always in shirt and tie) of how members of our church are blessed by the Gospel, and is much easier for them to find prepared people to teach then we are. I just loved the words of Elder L. Tom Perry last night as he announced that we are going to change how missionary work is done. Can you just imagine how fast the work would progress if every member fasted and prayed for missionary opportunities and for the valor to act on the promptings? It would be something amazing... we are all missionaries whether we have a black tag or not! 

I would invite everyone to feel how a missionary feels when he shares the restored Gospel with someone. As Elder Oaks once said, "We are not just looking for people to add to our congregations, we are opening the doors to the Celestial Kingdom, no one else can do it.." I am just really pumped for what was said last night.. Lets do it!
Okay, I believe I should also report just a bit of history that was made just about 2 hours ago. The classic Latino vs. Gringo soccer game was once again played today and after losing 9 times in a row, we finally pulled the upset. That's right, after getting out to a 3-0 lead we took the game 5-3. It was incredible, and I believe we will never play again, haha.
Well as of now in our area we are preparing 2 people for baptism this week, they are Harrison Castro, who I told you about last week, and Selatiel Cruz. Selatiel has been an investigator for a whiiillee now and has finally decided that now is the time to enter in the covenant of baptism. He is the father of Daniela, who got baptized in April. His case is really interesting because the familia took a lot of heat for the Church's sake, Daniela has been the victim of a lot of attacking by a lot of familiares and friends. We even went to their house one time while a pastor from another church was trying to convince them to leave the church. 

We have been consistent in helping through a bunch of doubts, but the faith of the familia is really what is getting them through. I really think that the adversity is what really helped Selatiel gain a real testimony. It was put to the test quick and when he had to stand up for his daughter and the decision that she made he found himself testifying of things he wasn't sure he knew. Luckily, Heavenly Father blesses that kind of faith with pure testimony and that is what helped him progress. I was so grateful to be a witness of another miracle, because so many times I have seen faith torn down by that same manera (way). People get their faith questioned and back away in fear of what they cannot see, without a full rooted testimony based on revelation provided by the Holy Ghost, it is hard to remain faithful. But there are cases where faith overcomes fear and hope overcomes doubt, and that is nothing short of a miracle.
Things are still going well in the Branch, the news of the chapel has lit a fire under the members! We are having trouble fitting into the casa capilla, and so it is stressful thinking of how we are going to accommodate but I'm sure something will work out for the mean time. I will try to get pictures of the casa capilla next time seeing as how I have never sent pictures of it. (sorry mom, really...) haha
Cambios (transfers) are coming this next week and I am more than nervous thinking that I might get changed, I don't want to think about it right now but lets just say that will be more than sad. Elder Inga and I are going on 2 cambios together and a third is super rare in the mission. I'm trying to sneak little hints that I would love to stay in my letters to President.... haha just kidding but I know that it is the Lord who directs this Work.
Anyways thanks for all the support and mom and dad for the great letters and pics. I take back EVERY smug comment I have ever made of dad´s excessive picture taking... haha but really.
Have a great week and I will write you again next week!
Elder Eliason
Pics next week I promise! 

Buenaventura to Get Chapel in 2015!

Hey there family!

What a great start to the summer! (besides the car robbery and broken ankle) Girls camp, High adventure and a four wheeling trip in Utah! I remember doing that with a few SUU friends one time, great fun. And that is great news that the family will be complete this upcoming week, lets hope it stays that way after the trip to Tyler haha. I'm sure it will be a great memorable experience for the fam!

Well there is GREAT news from Buenaventura and not so great news...

Let's start with the not so great news.. we werent able to go to Juanchaco this week. Que pesar.. there was apparently something going down in the waters off the coast this past week so we were told not to go. I'm not sure when it will be cleared to go but I am sure it is just a minor setback of getting the work started there. 

The great news is that permission has officially been given to buy a ground to build a chapel here! This is big news because the initial guess was that it was to be built in 2015. The Area Presidency counciled and decided that there was to be an exception for Buenaventura. It has been tough work keeping the attendance around 110-120 but it is well worth it with the news we got. 

They had told us to forget about the chapel in short term because it takes a lot of time processing everything but now the construction will commence next year! What a blessing... I am hoping I can see it before I finish the mission! The branch is really excited, they deserve it so much for their dedication and development. I have just loved this unique experience to help a new branch grow, it has been really tough at times and frustrating but diligence and perseverance will always bring forth the blessings of heaven. 

Well we have been teaching the cousin of Bryan Solis just about since Elder Inga got here, his name is Harrison Castro. He has been progressing a little bit slower and has had a few more things to overcome than Bryan but we have been slowly but surely helping him to progress towards baptism. He just has a lot of fear of falling after baptism and he had been struggling for awhile. 

A cool thing happened yesterday when Bryan and Harrison went with us to teach a lesson this past week. We were teaching Lesson 3 the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a Recent convert family and we were talking about repentance and the RC was explaining how difficult it had been staying strong during moments of temptation. Harrison decided to bear a testimony about how he deals with his temptations and how he knew that they could do it too. It was powerful, I felt something special in the lesson. Afterwards, we talked about it and he told us he had been praying for an answer to see if he was ready to be baptized. He said nothing had happened for weeks, but during the lesson when he bore his testimony, he felt that it was right. He had received the testimony he was looking for. He then accepted to be baptized the 29th.

This taught me once again the truth of Ether 12:6. We are agents, free to choose freedom through Christ or captivity through the adversary. (2 Ne 2:27) It takes a use of free agency in accordance with the will of God in order to receive the testimony or "sign" we are looking for. Harrison was waiting for weeks to receive a sign whether or not he should be baptized... and nothing. But when he acted in faith bearing a testimony that he didn't even knew he had, the answer came. This has happened a lot to me on the mission and I know that this is true.

I am learning a ton these days of how to manage time... the Branch requires a lot of time helping the leaders and coordination, but we also have to help the investigators in our area and the missionaries in the zone. I am so grateful for things like the Daily Planner, PMG, Area book, Daily planning and Weekly planning that help us learn how to use our time wisely and such a great way to measure how we are doing with the Key Indicators. Time is so precious as a missionary and constantly improving in how we use our time is so crucial. It sure goes by fast... and I want to do everything the Lord has planned for me to do here!

Thanks for all the support! Until next week!

Love all of you!

Elder Eliason 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"I understand now that we just labor and the Lord harvests,"

walking in the jungle? abbey road jungle version? maybe? 

Railroad tracks that we rode in on 

Today we went to the jungle!

And pretty cool group foto

Hiya familia! 

It's always a great first week of summer when High adventure and girls camp get goin'! Summer is definitely a great time of year! Good luck kids and cherish those memories because one day you won't be in YM or YW anymore! 

Well as for me here in Buenaventura, there has been a lot going on! We had another leadership council this past week and there was a lot discussed about the development of the mission. The mission has opened so many new areas to accommodate the army of missionaries coming in that many are in pueblos where there is no chapel.. haha. We have 204 missionaries in the mission right now and a TON of them are from this year alone. We are very young and inexperienced. So there is a huge need of leaders in the mission right now that can help train the new generation. 

We also placed new goals as a mission but in a different way. We want to change the culture of the mission to a mission that finds 10-15 new investigadores every week. The key to having success in the mission is finding. If you can become a pro at finding the prepared investigators and not wasting time with old non-progressing people you will see a huge change in your mission. It is just sometimes laziness and fear that gets in the way of us constantly finding. It is always so awesome to add to our tank of motivation and commitment with those meetings!

Here in Buenaventura it has been busy as always, after last weeks baptisms we don't really have much in progressing investigators, but a ton of new people who look to be promising. Bryan Solis has turned missionary and is talking to everyone about the Gospel, he presented us to 5 people last week haha. He says he wants to prepare to serve a mission, I asked him where he wanted to serve and he told me England haha. He does speak great English so I think its a good possibility  I told him that my brother served there and he flipped out. Turns out he is a huge Man City fan and I told him that Code had a pic in that stadium, so if dad can do me the favor of getting me that picture that would be cool to show him! 

Elder Inga and I have been really focused in finding a sure way to help all of the missionaries in the zone out. We are really young and Buenaventura is a work that is so different and challenging that sometimes it is easy to get down and quit working as hard. I think I can see where they are coming from, early on in my mission I got really down after someone would lose interest or stop progressing. But I learned that that just tears down our faith and slows down our diligence. I understand now that we just labor and the Lord harvests, we can feel great about our efforts as long as we have served with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. The key is not in what we are doing, it is the why!

One of the few progressing investigators happens to be Lininger Granados, the miracle from last week. He couldn't come to church this week but he has been reading like the B.O.M. He knows the answer he received was from God and is progressing very rapidly in gaining his testimony. This week we will also see him 2 or 3 times.

We will be heading out for Juanchaco on Wednesday! We leave at about 5 in the morning and get back around 4 in the afternoon. President wanted just us to go with Pdte J'ose to check things out and then we will bring the whole gang to romper!! 

Well that's about it for today, I have to write a report to Presidente!

Thanks for everything and until next week!

Elder Eliason

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Are you from the Mormon Movement?"

Elder Faundez and Diderickson, 5"5 and 6"8 hahaha

Companionship pic walking down where we had the baptisms.

This is the natural font where we had baptisms, perfect secluded spot by a nearby river. It is the coolest experience baptizing somewhere like this, its like the Waters of Mormon!

Hola Familia,

 Como les ha ido esta semana bien o qué???

First shout out has to go to Jordy and Trista for the beautiful newborn they have received! Tenley Michelle, what a fantastic name! Congrats and can't wait to meet her when she turns 1! Awesome to hear that school is coming to an end and also that everyone is ending WELL in school! Straight A's all around?? That's a first in Eliason history! Good to know that the fam will be heading back to Tyler! I thought Dad would have never stepped foot in that camping ground ever again. Whether we are troopers or just don't learn from our mistakes I don't know but you guys have fun! I think I'll quote Jim Gaffigan, "The "happiest camper" is the one leaving the campsite!" haha 

Well this week has been fun, we started off the week with 11 people prepared for this past Saturday for a special baptism in the river. As the week went by a lot of weird things happened and dates went falling like crazy and we only ended up with 3 actually entering the water. One of those was Bryan Solis, who I had the opportunity to baptize and I must say that it was the most perfect baptism I have been apart of. The lighting was perfect, the water was quiet with nothing but the birds chirping and wind rustling being heard, and the Spirit was as strong as ever. When he got out of the water he couldn't keep his emotions in as he hugged me right away after I brought him up. It was one of those moments where you say "I want to be a missionary forever." He had been through a lot of change and a lot of set backs, powerful lesson, set back, powerful moment, etc type of things but finally he was able to make the commitment. I won't ever forget Bryan and what I learned from him.

The sad part was all of the fallen dates. The whole zone experienced the "opposition in all things" part of the mission that just tears your heart out. The hardest pain as a missionary is teaching someone you love, helping them receive answers and helping them through changes, planning and praying about how to help them, and then after all they still don't accept. But to keep everyone's spirits up we read Preach My Gospel (PMG) where it tells us that the success of a missionary is in the effort you put in helping people get baptized and confirmed and not in the actual number result. I wasn't ashamed at all of the effort of the missionaries so we know that we can bounce back. 

We had a miracle happen this week, as we were walking to an appointment we heard a man call out at us. We responded and went to talk to him. He asked if we were from the "Mormon Movement" and we said that yes we are missionaries of the church. Well it turns out that this man about 20 years ago had a friend who was a member living in Buenaventura and that he had received a "Mormon Bible" as a gift from the friend. He told us he had read the book but put it away after the friend had moved away. 

It just so happens that about a week before we arrived he found the book and had began to read it again. He said he felt something strange when he read it like it was calling out to him or something. He had been thinking about it all week long until we walked by. We were late for an appointment so we couldn't stay, but we gave him a pamphlet and set a date to return. And we returned and shared with him the Restoration, which was a powerful lesson. As a missionary you can clearly tell when people "get it" and when they just don't and believe me when I tell you that he got it! We set a baptismal date right there and it was accepted with ease. Pretty incredible huh? God lives!

As for Juanchaco, we are planning and programming with President Prince when we are going to be able to go, I know that by next week we will know when. President says that it will be an exploratory visit rather than a developmental visit. We are going to see if we can commit to send missionaries there to open a branch or something. We will be seeing things like if it is mostly military base, tourism or just regular living conditions to see if it will be a profitable area. I think it will be a huge success because President Jose had this revelation to open it and I trust in him all the way! I will definitely give an update next week!

Well that is about it! Thanks for all the support!

Elder Eliason