Monday, August 26, 2013

"Satan can stir up hearts and put up roadblocks but this work will go on!

I ate something that is called cuy for the first time the other day and it was surprisingly good, strange but good. The bad news is that it made me super sick.

Hola Familia!

First day of school! Woohooo! Those first day pics just blew me away. I cannot believe that Haley is already a senior, that is just really hard to believe. I can imagine that Mom and Dad feel the same way when I say that time has flown by... It feels like I was just going into my senior year. And I can also remember vividly the days in the good old freshman center! Great times... I remember telling Connor (then a 7th grader) that I (then a Senior) would be a year into my mission when he made it to the freshman center, as we would drive by everyday to go pick up Haley (then a freshman) WOW! Well enjoy it kids, there is nothing better than being in High School, treasure the in the moments because they will fly by! 

Here in Ipiales it has been by far the strangest week of my mission. I'm not sure if you have heard but Colombia is under attack by the strike once again, and this time they brought back up... just about the whole country is putting a hold on the government blocking roads and striking in the cities. 

Here in Ipiales we felt it hard this past week as the strikers are going around the entire city with rocks and huge sticks threatening the people who are open for business and screaming at them until they close all the stores. They think that by doing this they can force the Government to listen. "If we don't work, no one works!" is what they scream in the streets. It was a miracle that we found an internet place to write home this week! Things look like they are getting worse too as more people are getting into the mix. We are not sure what is going to happen, we have been in contact with President Prince to see how he feels about all of this. We really need your prayers here because this is becoming a huge roadblock in the Work. 

And in other news I ate something that is called cuy for the first time the other day (see pics) and it was surprisingly good, strange but good. The bad news is that it made me super sick haha. We had baptisms this week, 8 in total for the zone and sadly I wasn't able to attend but everyone told me it went great! Luckily it didn't last long and I didn't have to miss too much time working. 

There were also some great things that happened this past week as well! We committed Gladis to obey the law chastity as to not having the boyfriend come over everyonce and a while and she has been doing great! She did have a little trouble praying to really find an answer because she felt unworthy to pray. We were able to help her feel better when we shared the story of Alma in Alma 36, when he prayed while in a dream of torment pleading for the mercy of Christ and when he did he could feel no more the pains of his sins. We helped her understand that our Heavenly Father is not a God of punishment but of love and forgiveness and the feelings of unworthiness come from the adversary who is trying to keep us from true repentance. She understood well and we put a new date for the 14th of this next month! 

We have also been working with Diana who has a bit of a problem with a boyfriend from another church discouraging her a lot from baptism. It is quite amazing how hard the adversary works with the people who are so close to making this covenant with God, it just calls for more work on our part! 

We also had a miracle happen this past week, we had been having luck finding new investigators, a lot of things fell and things were just going wrong and so we decided to go contact and knock doors to try to find a family. For about the first hour we were getting rejected just about everywhere but for some reason we never felt down we just kept going and looking with the hope of finding someone, we ended knocking the door of one Familia Orteaga, and they let us in! We found out that about 3 years ago they were about to be baptized but felt too much pressure from the missionaries and backed out. 

They acknowledged that they knew the church was true but couldn't get over feeling rushed and pressured. We also found out that they had passed through some hard times as a family and had been praying that someone could help them, they told us we were the answer to a prayer. I quote the Prophet Thomas S. Monson when I say that "the best feeling in the world is acting on an impression and later finding out that you were an answer to someone's prayer or need." I know we were sent there to knock doors for a reason and that the feelings of discouragement never came because God was with us guiding the way. 

Well that's about it! Keep praying for these dang protestors to get out of here so we can help these people come unto Christ. We did it once before! The Lord did say: "And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them." (DyC 1:5) Satan can stir up hearts and put up roadblocks but this work will go on!

Keep praying and THUMBS UP!

Elder Eliason

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"I am loving my time in Ipiales."

All the gringos that got shipped out of Ipiales this week, Elder Rowley, Stevenson and Cain.

My new companion Elder Valdiviezo from Argentina!

Wow, what a great week of letters!

I had fun reading the update on the fam. Seems to me the highlight of the week was Cecily's wedding! Well there goes 3 of the 7 cousins from the original 7! I guess that's a good thing right? haha! But CONGRATS Cecily! I am so happy for you! I wish I could have been there but I was sure there in Spirit! So great that Dad and Code could be there to celebrate with the pics! Also, I am happy to see that school starts next week. It feels like it got out a few weeks ago but I guess it's time to get back into "the routine." I think that's a good thing because there is so much time in the day and there is so much that can get done if we are just diligent how we do things. One of the good things that teaches the mission! 

Well on my end it has been great fun! We had the monthly ZL Council so that meant traveling 13 hours up to Cali! We had a great time on the bus. We always travel up the night before to Pasto and leave with the Elders from there. I have become great friends with Elder Edwards who was there when we left but now has been transferred. It is always good to speak English the whole bus ride and share what we have both learned on the mission. But it looks like we got back just in time because another coffee strike just hit back up... haha 

Also, I said goodbye to Elder Rivadeneira who left to good ole Buenaventura! I sent a whole bunch of letters for the people over there that I miss so much. However, my new companion is terrific. He is named Elder Valdiviezo and he is from Argentina! I haven't had a companion so set on doing things the right way in everything. I am excited for what this transfer will bring. I also am reunited with my father Elder Matos here in Ipiales! He will finish here in 2 transfers so I will most likely see him finish, he put in my notebook that we would see each other again before his mission ends and we have served together twice now! We have been talking about all of the people in Valle Grande and I was glad to know that Ruben, Manuel, Luis, Merlin, Familia Bonilla Banguera, and Naomi are all doing great! It's always nerve recking leaving an area and your recent converts, but so great to hear that everything is okay!

Our investigators are really progressing as well! Gladis is progressing very well and continues to show great interest in the Gospel. She can't get baptized this week because she couldn't come to church but we are preparing another date for her. Diana Rosero is the child of the recent convert who is17 years is also progressing incredibly fast, it is always so much better when there is a supporting group of friends helping and animating them to make the decision. We are also making a ton of progress with a couple that are trying to get married. They are named Diana and Fernando. They are a couple who has been through a lot in the process of conversion, Fernando has changed incredibly as he has had to stop smoking and drinking and also changing his work schedule to be able to attend Sundays. It is inspiring the changes that have been made, all that there is to do is get the papers and get them married! We are really excited for what is to come this month and the next.

Well thats all, I am loving my time in Ipiales and even though the time is just flying by, I am making the most of every moment I have here!

Love you all,

Elder Eliason 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"It is always so important to find what will make the investigator want to believe in our message."

August 2013 Mission Leadership Council

Que hubo familia como va todo?

Well this is gonna be pretty short because we have new missionaries coming in in about an hour but I'll hit you guys up with the highlights of the week!

Well we are now really hitting our stride in our area because we have about 5 investigators progressing now. We decided to hit up the good ole area book to find some old investigators from a while ago. With the spirit of prayer we were able to pick out a few names that looked like they had progressed but for some reason or other fell away. 

One of those is named Gladys, we went there on Wednesday hoping to find her and when she opened the door she looked stunned and said, "They're back!" haha it was cool to receive a good reaction after knocking the door. We were able to find out that she had moved to another part of the city really far and then lost contact with the missionaries, then moved back to the same house she lived in! It was a pretty cool story. We retaught the Restoration and like we always do in this mission, invited her to be baptized. She accepted and is preparing to get baptized at the end of the month. What a powerful tool the area book is when it is used right!

Another person we are preparing for baptism is named Diana Rosero. She is the daughter of a recent convert and is just golden. We were able to establish trust right away asking the right questions and using the How to Begin Teaching section in Chapter 10 of Preach My Gospel. It is always so important to find what will make the investigator want to believe in our message. Everyone of them is different and needs something else from the last person. 

It's like when you go to the physical therapist, he diagnoses what you need for a specific rehabilitation, makes up a game plan, helps them understand how he can help them, and gives a commitment to help them recover on their own. Imagine if the doctor gave the same treatment to every patient. It would sound pretty but wouldn't help them at all. That's how we try to help the investigators, making our message apply to their specific needs. And it was a great lesson with Diana, she understood perfectly how the restoration can help her in her life, it was also great to have the recent convert, Milena there to help with her testimony. She also will be preparing for the end of the month. 

We are also looking to prepare 2 more for either this month or the next. It has been so different in this area than in all of the other areas I have been in. The missionaries have been in Ipiales for more than 30 years, so everyone pretty much knows who we are. The opposite was in Buenaventura where no one knew who we were. There was a lot of challenges with the branch back there and here it is well established for Colombia. 

I have been running into a lot of people lately who wonder why it is necessary to belong to a church, and why not all paths lead to Eternal Life. Well I studied it out and came up with the following....

-Jesus said "follow thou me" and "be ye therefore perfect" (Matt 4:19, Matt 5:48
- There must be a clear cut way to accomplish or become what He wants us to be, for these things are very difficult with the natural man alive in every one of us.
-Through the prophets, He has revealed principles and ordinances to keep us in the path and constantly improving and changing.. (Faith, Rep., Bap...etc.) This is His Plan to help us become like Him, or perfect.
-Confusion, or many paths, would frustrate this plan, because we could not have faith in an unchangeable God who has one concrete way to get back to Him.
-Contention is not of God, and the many different doctrines in the world create contention between everyone.
-Jesus Christ established a church "for the perfecting of the saints..." so "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men.." ( Eph 4:12,14)-We can know His doctrine if we "ask, seek and knock" (Matt 7:7-11) and it will be revealed unto us by the Holy Ghost who "shall teach us all things.." (John 14:26) and that is the only way we can understand the things of God.-Many doctrines are not of God, but of men. Revelation is the only way God´s church can be run and established. 

I am grateful for the Priesthood and the Gospel because they give me an assurance that I am leading people into the only path that leads to Eternal Life. It has been a great week of study!

It will be super sad saying bye to Elder Rivadeneira tomorrow, he got transferred. The good thing is he is going to replace Elder Inga in Buenaventura! So I get to send a whole bunch of letters to my great converts and members who I love so much. And it is counsel time so that means a crazy long trip up to Cali this week. Wish me luck!

Que estén muy bien, hasta la proxima!

Elder Eliason

I will buy the new camara this week, so stay tuned for pictures! Seriously I am really sorry there hasn't been time for shopping!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"This mission is the greatest thing to ever happen to me"

Hey Familia!!!
Wow thanks Mom and Dad for the letters! Its always a nice boost to hear from both the padres! I get a nice look at both sides of what's going on back home. That's such great news about the Rangers, Yu Darvish and Matt Garza make a sweet 1,2 punch, and the Braves are running away with the whole thing! Gotta love late season baseball! That's amazing that Haley saw Ashley and Thomas on HT, and  thats good to know that she got home good, too bad she got sick though. Feel better Hales! And a congrats is in order for the blessing of Tenley Michelle Eliason! Still can't believe it, but Jordy and Trista look like very proud parents! Can't wait to finally meet her! Looks like Bear Lake 2014 will be the occasion!
Well as for me in Ipiales, it has been another great week! It seems I have been all over the place doing splits with other missionaries. 3 of the past 4 days have been with different missionaries, and it has been amazing. Divisions are so great because you get to know a lot of different people who are getting to know the Gospel, and also pick up different tips from other missionaries to improve. 

I worked with one Elder Canevaro this week who gave up a 3 year professional soccer contract in Argentina to come on his mission. It was cool to see such dedication from someone who gave up so much to be here, there was much to learn from him! He said there is no sacrifice too big to be apart of this Work. It is as Jesus said,  "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." I think we all think missions are sacrifices at first, but then it quickly converts into an honor and a blessing. We had a great lesson with an investigator who had been wrestling with a baptismal date, and we were able to help her realize the need to act in faith instead of waiting for a concrete answer, it was a powerful lesson.
In my area we have been working a ton with less actives and with the people in their homes who aren't members. We ran into a case where there was an entire less active family and a mom who hadn't been baptized, her name is Sandra. She has been an avid member of an another church her whole life and never wanted anything to do with the Church. Well, she hadn't spoken with us yet so we gave it a try and surprisingly, received us well. 

So many missionaries had passed by her home over the years and have always tried to convince her of the truth. We decided to just ask questions and find a way to get her to want to accept the Gospel. Too many times as missionaries we are too quick into the lessons that we forget to ask what matters to them, what they want in life, and what kinds of fears or what they lack in life. Before we can reach their interest, we must connect with them and let the Spirit guide. Well we found out that she had never asked God if the Book of Mormon was true because she feared that God would not answer her. We read Matthew 7:7 along with Moroni 10:4-5 to help her build the faith that it can happen. It was a great lesson and we are following up daily to help her gain a testimony.
Another experience I will share is really special to me. On Saturday we got a phone call from Elder Inga in Buenaventura asking me a favor. he said that one of our old investigators named Jonas was about to be baptized but was having last minute doubts and that he wanted me to talk to him to help him through. So I called him up with permission of President to do what I could. This investigator was really close to my heart before I left there and to hear his voice again was just incredible. I basically just told him that we both knew what he had to do and told him to look up Ether 12:6 and say a prayer to feel sure in what he would do. He said it was just what he needed to hear and was baptized on Saturday. I was grateful for Elder Inga and his comp acting on a prompting.
And that same day we were in a lesson and I get a call from President saying he had some friends he wanted me to talk to. He passes the phone and I about dropped from hearing such a familiar voice pronounce my name wrong, "Hola Ailison" haha. It was Marcely Banguera from Valle Grande! She was getting married and told Pres. Prince she wanted me to be there, which was obviously impossible being so far away. But Marcely and Edilton finally got married, and baptized this weekend, to complete the family of members. I had a permanent smile the rest of the day. Another part is that the missionary who baptized them was my dad, Elder Matos who is serving there right now. I just about died for that experience and I was so grateful for President's kindness.

This mission is the greatest thing to ever happen to me, I can't believe the person I have become here. Colombia will always be close to my heart for what the Lord has done to me while being here. It still is the hardest thing I've ever done, but the most gratifying as well. Thanks go out to Mom and Dad for always pushing me to go on the mission even when I had no idea why! I cant wait to get back to work tonight!
Have a great week! And thumbs up!
Elder Eliason

"Keep smiling and thumbs up!"

Hello familia!
¡Felicidades Kenny! ¡Que gusto ver de que se ha casado! Espero que siga feliz con su nueva esposa para siempre! Me hubiera gustado estar para el matrimonio pero sepa que me dio una sonrisa verle a usted y a Derek y Cody en la foto!

Wow can't believe all my cousins are getting engaged and married while I'm gone! Its gonna be way different jaja. Good to see also that Haley enjoyed Heritage Tours and made some good friends along the way. I was fortunate as well to make great friends on that trip, and now it seems like they are all on missions! Grandpa knew what he was talking about when he said that all of our group would baptize enough people to cross along the Susquehanna! And great news about the Braves and the Matt Garza trade, I remember we wanted him back when he was with the Rays, vamos para arriba!!! Keep me updated dad!
I just got done with a crazy game of basketball with another version of gringos vs latinos. We were pretty cocky heading into it obviously but it was actually a great game. The latinos recruited a 6´4 black superstar who is a member who can really ball. They gave it to us at the beginning but after while the law of percentages prevailed and we came out victorious. It was nice to not have to play soccer for once haha...

Well this was a super hectic week here in Ipiales! The last week of the month is always great, we have a goal as a mission to have 2 baptisms for every companionship in the mission in July, August, and 4 in Septiembre. And we were able to pull out 14 baptisms in the zone to just get 2.0 per companionship. It was pretty crazy that my companion and I had blessing to baptize 2 this week because we really had nothing to start out with. 

The miracles started by finding the Malez Family who had been inactive for a long while, and had a child at age 10 who hadn't been baptized. We thought of the opportunity we had to reactivate the family (the father of which has the Melchezedek Priesthood) and to baptize Dylan the little boy to complete the family. We had a miraculous lesson on Thursday with Dylan and his dad. The dad at first wanted nothing to do with us, and even avoided us on numerous occasions . But we just decided to start testifying, saying this is what needed to happen. The Spirit must have touched him because he immediately sat down to here what we were going to teach him and his child. We read Mosiah 4:14-15...
14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.  15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.

We also shared Alma 36:3 and had him read it to his son Dylan changing the name Helaman for the name of his son.

3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; 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.

It was really powerful as he realized his duty as a father to lead his son in the right path. It was like a light filled him and he realized what he had to do. We then prepared Dylan for the interview, baptized him on Saturday and confirmed him on Sunday! And Juan Carlos (the father) came to every one. It was a miracle.
I love being a missionary because the Spirit is literally always with you. I never have to take my attention off what I am doing as a missionary and I feel His guidance more than ever.
The other baptism we had was a child of whose parents would have been baptized had they had been married. We were going to wait for them to get married to baptize them all together, but little 12 year old Michael couldnt wait and we all thought it be best that he start preparing for the priesthood while his parents figure everything out.
We haven't been able to see Daira Mejia this week as somehow she has managed to fall off the face of the earth. We have been trying to call but nothing happens and she is never home, we are praying that everything is okay and that nothing has hurt her progress. We also haven't been in touch with Juan Josè who was the miracle of last week, he also is hard to find these days.. but the work goes on and we are still finding like crazy building up that teaching pool!

Well thats it folks! Keep smiling and thumbs up! haha

Que pena de nuevo por la falta de fotos, la camara se rompió.
(Sorry for the lack of photos, the camera broke)

Elder Eliason

I love being apart of the Lords Work each and every day!

Hola familia! 

Wow great to see all of the great pictures Dad! Haley looks a lot more grown up than I can last remember, another year and I might not recognize my two younger siblings! It's good that she likes to get up at the front of the bus to share what she learns, great photo Grandpa! And wow I can't believe it has been 25 years since Dad's mission, I sure am grateful he served setting the great example for his future kids! I always knew I was going to follow the great examples I have always had!

Well this was a really eventful week down here in fruheezing Ipiales, Colombia. Haha its really not that cold but for all of the South American missionaries who have never felt cold in their lives it is down right chilly. It's kind of ironic how throughout the winter back home I was sweatin' bullets, and now that it is summer I am freezing... haha.

We had a great week this week! Things are looking up in our area right now. We were able to focus a lot on finding and reloading the teaching pool. We were able to put on some FHEs with some families to pick up some referrals and we were also able to look up the ward list and find just a ton of inactives who had people in their houses who aren't members. Its basically killing 2 birds with 1 stone, you get to activate a lost sheep and also help someone make the baptismal covenant! 

We also did some street contacting, which is something I haven't done in a while, but to be honest I rather enjoy the fact that I can just talk to anyone I want about the message we have. It is like our placas give us a license to that! That is something I need to keep taking advantage of, seeing as how after the mission I will never be able to that again. 

We were able to find one super great investigator named Daira, she was raised super catholic (just like everybody in Colombia) but we were able to street contact her and talk to her a little about what we do and what we share. Just about everyone likes to hear a gringo talk so it isn't that hard to get people to listen but the problem is finding those who will progress. We found Daira right by where we live, and we were able to show her the church and give a great lesson about the restoration! 

Elder Rivadeneira is quite the violin player so that is a great tool to bring the Spirit before every lesson. The other miracle was that we were able to find a less active sister who was super catholic before she got baptized, so we now can help her out a little better with the transition. It is really tough for people to change what they have believed their entire lives but the miracle of the true Gospel makes it possible. What really got her was the source of how we get our doctrine in the Church, by pure revelation. We were able to share Ephesians 4 to help her understand. 

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

It was important that she understood why God has given us one simple way to be saved, and not that there are many ways that lead the same place. It was great and we put a date for the 10th of August for bapitsm. 

Another miracle happened Sunday when we found out that one of the members had a family member who was inactive for 6 years, and that no one had been able to find him to visit him. Well, they found him and we went Sunday morning to see him. His name is Juan Jose, and We got the impression that this was going to be a super important visit. 

We got there and he told us of what had happened to make him inactive and everything, but we sensed a sincere desire to return to church. We invited him right there to put his past behind him and show God today that he was ready to return. He was super hesitant at first thinking himself not worthy after so much time. But then it came to my mind that his daughter was visiting the church for the first time and he had no idea. We had found her the week before in her mom's house who is also inactive and invited her to church and she said she would. 

Now in the moment with Juan I had no idea that she was actually going to be there because so many poeple tell us yes and don't show up, but I felt impressed to tell him that she was going to be there and that he needed to set an example for his daughter and also that it would mean the world to her if he came. The Spirit was thick in that moment and he finally said he would go. And he did! And so did his daughter. The look on her face when she saw her dad walk in was priceless. 6 years inactive, and in one visit he came back. Such a miracle!

We also had been working with another inactive family named the family Malez, who had been failing time and time again with coming to church, finally we went to pick them up on Sunday and it was the same thing, they just couldn't get the courage to come back. We had a quick on the spot lesson about the prodigal son and 99 sheep and were able to get them to come too. And the mother gave the prayer in the Relief Society and couldn't hold back the emotion of feeling the Spirit so strong again.
The thing with the less actives is just helping them re-feel what has already been felt but has been kept dormant for a while. Such a great joy and blessing to have 3 family less actives at church this Sunday. 

Well now that we have a lot more to work with, things are getting a lot more interesting fast! We have a ton of plans set up for this next week so it should be a lot of fun. I am so happy to be a missionary right now! I love being apart of the Lords Work each and every day!

Well, that's all folks. Until next week!

Just remember:

"Life is a long road, and we all have to..... stop for gas." -- Doug Heffernan

Elder Eliason