Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"His hand is all over this work and it becomes clearer and clearer the longer I am out here!"

Saying goodbye to Lininger and his friend Harrison (Lininger got baptized this week!) 

Familia Giraldo from Buenaventura, greatest group of converts you will ever meet, Maria Fernanda (very left) will be going on a mission in about 9 months!

Pics from ZL Council
(Courtesy of Hermana Prince's blog)

Que mas familia! Bien no mas?? haha that is the new lingo I am getting used to here in Ipiales! It is super funny its somewhat like the English accent for us because they always go way up when they enunciate something. I couldn't help but laugh remembering Cody's accent when he got back. 
Wow that is amazing to see those fotos of HT! I had a huge deja vú looking at Haley share a scripture thought at the front of the bus. I so remember doing that and the picture of the Grandparents and Emily at the John Johnson Farm brought back a warm memory, and what a family/district (not sure what they call 'em now a days) foto with the blue shirts! What great fun and memorable experiences she is having! I read my journal and HTM (Heritage Tours Manual) from HT the other day and reminisced of all the great feelings I had there. I remember writing "Today my desire to be a missionary has more than tripled.." and.. "I promise today to get myself in gear to serve a mission." I owe so much to Grandpa E and Heritage Tours! 

I believe I will add to the "things I miss about Bayla" list:

1. Driving home from school everyday singing Look at me now by Busta Rhymes
2. Swimming in the pool every summer
3. Watching Vampire Diaries... (whaaat...??) 
4. And making fun of the boy craziness!

 Haha, good times love ya Haley!
Well as for my week here in Ipiales it was a really short one! We had ZL Council on Thursday and now that I am 14 hours away we had to travel Tuesday night up to Pasto, stay the night with the Leaders there, and then take another 10 hour trip to Cali in the morning, get there at like 8 at night, get up the next morning have the council and get on the bus and head right back. It's like going from Denver to Dallas..... yeah haha. The good thing is that it went by rather fast because one of my good friends Elder Edwards is in Pasto and we got to talk the whole trip. It is so nice to have a gringo to talk to in English for a good while. We ended up getting back at like 6 in the morning Friday and slept a little bit until 8 and then shared what we learned from the Council to the zone. The good thing is that we didn't lose the whole week because we have a great Mission Leader who visited all of our investigators with the Ward Missionaries while we were gone, such a huge help. 
We don't really have a lot of stuff right now in our area, it seems like they baptized the entire world right before I got here and now we are in rebuild mode in terms of investigators but it is almost exciting in a situation like this, a fresh slate looking out into the white harvest looking to thrust with our sickles! Finding has been such an interesting thing in my mission. Starting off the mission, I thought all you did was knock doors and that's it. What I have learned is that the people who progress are the people you find through the members. Less-actives who have family who aren't members, recent converts who have family or friends, asking members who the missionaries had been teaching and had come to church but stopped for some reason, and inspiring members to share a message with a friend or relative, there are so many smart ways to find that come from members! 
We had an interesting day Saturday, we went to visit one an investigator named Alicia who actually had a fecha to be baptized and when we showed up she was all mad at us for some reason. Turns out, she had a friend who had came to an FHE and we decided to invite her to be taught, she accepted and we went to teach her and her dad. Well, after our lesson with them the mom who is from a different religion got really mad at her and and at Alicia thinking she had told us to come. The mom spoke with the Mom of Alicia and said some not very nice things. Facing adversity, she decided to stop receiving us and not come back to church. It was a little disheartening but we kept going nonetheless. 

When we were walking down a street we heard a shout saying "Elderes, Elderes vengan!!" It turns out that it was a less active member of about 5 years who had had a pretty tough life after leaving the church. She told us of how many times she had wanted to come back to church but could never get the courage to do so, feeling unworthy. We testified of the Atonement and the miracle that is forgiveness, and that we had been sent her way to help her back. She had acted on the prompting to call out to us and we were able to bring her to church.
I thought about that experience and thought how easy it would have been to pack it in and call it a day after a horrible experience like that. The Lord always brings forth His tender-mercies for all those who exercise faith in Him. In my first area in the mission I got down A LOT, I remember thinking that all of the rejection and heart breaks was not what I thought the mission was going to be about. One P-day Codes wrote me telling me of his mission experiences and told me that getting down weakens our faith and diligence. He said something about everything that happens, happens for a reason and you just have to find out what the Lord wants you to learn or do in every situation. That helped me a lot and I know that is true, His hand is all over this work and it becomes clearer and clearer the longer I am out here!
I will have more things to tell you guys next week after we find like crazy this week!
Have a great week, Que Dios siempre derrame Sus bendiciones sobre ustedes! Y que disfruten del calor porque yo estoy con friooooo! jaja
Su loco Colombiano, Elder Eliason

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"I want to make this year the greatest of my life!"

Members of the branch that came to see us off at 4:30 am!

Saying goodbyes to Yay (above) and Diana (below), 2 of the best converts ever.

Until we meet again Elder Inga!

My new companion, Elder Rivadeneira from Guayaquil, Ecuador

Hey family!
So great to hear that Haley is off on HT! I remember that is where I really got my testimony. I still remember going to the John Johnson Farm and having the first real powerful experience of my life. I believe HT is what changed everything for me, it is one of the reasons I prepared myself before leaving for my mission and gave me a real desire to go and serve. I loved that experience because I felt the Spirit ALL the time, and I remember wanting that all the time. And I could tell that my testimony grew a ton in only 3 weeks, I sure hope Haley feels the way about HT the way I did! Have fun!

I am here in my new area Ipiales, and wow it is actually cold here! It has been about a year and a half since I have felt the cold and it was quite the shock haha. After a 3 hour trip to Cali from Buenaventura and then a 14-HOUR trip from Cali to Ipiales I was pretty sick of traveling. It takes so long here because the highways are all curvy instead of straight. But it was such a tough time leaving Buenaventura. As I left I had a huge knot in my stomach that would not go away, just knowing that I might never see those people ever again made me really sad.
But here in Ipiales it is a blast! My new comp is Elder Rivadeneira from Guayaquil, Ecuador and he was a good buddy of mine even before we were companions. He was the comp of Elder Welling before he got called to be the assistant. Apart from being way cold Ipiales is just amazing for the work. It has always been one of the most fruitful of the areas in the mission, and I am so happy to be here. The zone is a lot bigger than one we had in Tura so I am excited to get to work with a lot of missionaries. 

So far it has been awesome getting to know all of the new members and investigators that we have here, it is nice to have a real chapel again! But also sad at the same time... haha. In our ward council meeting I was able to use a lot of what I learned in Tura para to help the branch understand everyone's roles, it is something I am really grateful for that part of what I learned there. The branch had been known as a branch that never helped out the missionaries, but now there is a different animo that is causing all the great success. I am adjusting back to focusing less on the branch because they have good stability here.
Well some one told me Friday that I had been out a year now... wow that is crazy, I am speechless that it has already been a year since Jordy dropped me off at the curb. I am just really motivated to become the missionary that the Lord wants me to become. I can't express with words how I feel about my mission so far but it is something I cannot thank God enough for. Not because the mission is easy but because I am working so hard for so great a cause. There is a comfort that comes from understanding the doctrines of the Gospel, and being one who has authority to teach and testify about them gives me opportunities every day to feel the Spirit of the Lord in abundance, which gives me more joy than I have ever felt before in my life. I want to make this year the greatest of my life!
Thanks for everything!
Elder Eliason

Parent's Note:

Received this kind Facebook message from a mother whose son is serving in Dallin's new area:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goodbye Buenaventura, On to Ipiales!

 In front of my casa capilla after church. Going to miss this place!

Me and Brayan Solis with his new shirt and tie (that I gave him haha)
Here is my new area of Ipiales, right on the border with Ecuador!

Hiya familia!

Wow that is so great to hear about all of the fun that was had back home this week, there is nothing like good family bonding time. I never realized how valuable that was until I got on my mission! I don't know how to explain it but that's what dad's letter and pics made me think about today. I think Cody knows what I'm talking about, I just have another perspective on families I didn't have before. I'm so glad to see that the pool hybrid soccer/water polo game has been preserved because it was a favorite of mine. Also, the Outback Steakhouse trip is what most has me jealous. Rice and Sancocho is about all I get here haha. And what a great picture of the doughnut box as a memory of a night well lived. I still remember the family all nighter when Cody was about to leave for college... great memories with the fam! 

Well this week has been such a mix of emotions! The usual high and lows. I'll start with the news of the transfers. President Trochez spilled the news to mom I can see, but yes, I am leaving beloved Buenaventura. I still can't believe it but I guess I will have to come to grips with it pretty soon. 

President Jose got the news from Presidente Prince Saturday and being such a great person gave me the opportunity on Sunday to give my testimony one last time in front of those members I love so much. It was a crazy moment when he announced the Elders that would be leaving the branch. I felt my stomach do a 360. It was such a surprise and quite sudden, it was like a movie of all I have been through here went through my head. It was a tough Sunday that's for sure. And then I got the news of where I'm headed last night. I'm headed wayyy south to Ipiales, almost on the border with Ecuador. I'm obviously excited about what the future holds and the new adventures I will have there but it is really tough leaving the branch behind. 

We also received news that not only 3 missionaries of Buenaventura got transferred, Presidente Jose Rodriguez also got transferred to another city way up north in the area of the Medellín Mission. He works in the military and after 5 years here he got moved to another base. I really don't know how it will be without him, he is basically the only one with experience in the branch and has always been a source of strength for everyone. I wish you could have been in the meeting we had with him as missionaries. He was just bawling thinking about leaving all that he had started here. I am pretty sure a missionary will come in and be the President for a little bit until a replacement can be called. Such a blow!

The good news is that neither the missionaries nor Presidente Jose is the rock of this Church. One of the bases of the testimony I hold is that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and it is He who is at the head, and the rock of this Church. There may be difficulties but this Work will go on in Buenaventura, of this I am sure.

As for the other parts of the week we had a great baptismal meeting in the river this Saturday. Harrison Castro was able to enter the water and also be confirmed. Such a great experience to see Bryan and Harrison together at church this Sunday. Brayan was able to bless the sacrament for the first time and Harrison was confirmed and also given the Aaronic Priesthood. Those two I will miss dearly.

As for Selatiel Cruz, he was not able to be baptized this week. After not showing up at his interview we went to his house to see what had happened and he said that he just couldn't do it. He said that the persecution of family was still going on and a lot of doubts had come up. We shared Acts 5: 38-39:

38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
 39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

We explained that what we hear can sometimes confuse the mind, but the impressions of the Holy Ghost will give us an anchor that will always remain firm. (Ether 12:4) This Work is of God and it will never be overthrown. I am sure he will turn around and accept the Gospel real soon, he is just being tested and proven, something he will be thankful for later!

Well that is about it. I love this Work and I know that the Lord's hand is in these transfers! I can leave Buenaventura with a smile knowing I did all I could for these people, there will ALWAYS be a little piece of me here.

Have a great weeek!

Elder Eliason

Parent's Note:

Just before we received Dallin's letter on Monday, we received a very short email and some photos from President Trochez, who Dallin refers to in his letter above. He is not the mission president, maybe an area president within the Colombia Cali mission, not for sure. But we were touched by his simple and kind words.

We call these PPM (Proud Parent Moments):

 I just want to thank you for the great job you did preparing your son  to be a great missionary he is. He is obedient, humble and lovely. He is my friend and I love him as part of my family.  
President Argemiro Trochez
Elder Eliason with President Trochez