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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"I am living with more purpose now than ever before."

At Zone Council, Photo courtesy of Sister Prince's Blog

To commemorate our record number of 272 baptisms last month. Photo courtesy of Sister Prince

Let's Eat! Photo courtesy of Sister Prince

Thumbs Up! Photo courtesy of Elder Eliason's mother.

More ZL Council 

Pobre Elder Cabrera who got kicked in the face playing soccer... ouch.

On a cliff overviewing the scenes of Ipiales. And Hook'em Horns!

With familia Ocampo in VG.

Manuel Bermudez from Valle Grande

Familia Bonilla Baungera!

We went to Las Lajas today! It is a famous catholic church built on a cliff. Google search it! 

With the other elders in the branch at Lajas.

Qué mas familia, bien o que?? 

Wow what a BroTrip dad had with the Eli/Johnson Brothers! Looks like dad had a lot of fun on those four wheelers, I remember having a ball on those things at the reunion about 4 years ago! Looking great in those Idaho mountains. I also had a great laugh at the pic code sent me of dad on that cliff risking everything for a great shot! And I think it is hilarious that dad can put the clubs away for a good year and get out there on any given day and beat everyone.. haha. 

Well here in rainy and cold Ipiales things are going pretty good! After tasting the warmth of Cali again for the ZL Council I feel great, excited, and optimistic about what is to come here in the next couple months in the mission. I feel like the faith the mission has right now is through the roof after achieving what was achieved last month, and only looking forward to what will come next. We received a pretty great training this week that helped us a ton on Jacob 5, establishing the roots of the tree (established church leadership) and using it to graft in the new branches (new converts and rescued members.) 

Missionary work has really changed and it is wonderful how well all of the elders are working with their church leaders to find, baptize and reactivate. The Work of Salvation has been accelerated and I am so fortunate to be in the mission at this time when there is so much excitement about it!

I did have a great opportunity this past week to go back to an old area! It was wonderful to be able to go back to Valle Grande this week while I was in Cali! With Elder Cordova having served there as well we got permission to go and see everyone before heading back to Ipiales. I saw some familiar faces, like the Familia Bonilla Baungera, who are all members now after being married and baptized! (see foto) Manuel Bermudez, Familia Ocampo and many others. It was great to see them flourishing in the Gospel. Definitely a huge treat!

We are preparing a special training for the zone this week that is about using all of the wonderful tools that have been given to us to help us achieve with success our objective. We live in an age where there is so much planning and record keeping that can be done to help the work progress. We are given planners and area books to help plan and keep records of all the inspired work that we do. It is all available but sometimes we are a little too lazy with it. The goal is to help the missionaries understand that these inspired tools will be the means that many people receive the Gospel and stay faithful to it. One of the problems of retention in Colombia is that the records of the investigators never get transferred and the elders that get to the area don't have any record of the people who have been baptized. This is something we want to change in the mission and it will help us a lot! 

This week there wasn't a ton of time to work in our area what with the 2 day travel and divisions we had planned, but I am happy to report that we have a wedding set! Diana and Fernando (investigators for about 4 months) have decided to get married! What a joy when we passed by the house and have Diana immediately tell us the wonderful news with a huge smile on her face. She has been through so much what with her having a huge testimony of the gospel and not being able to get baptized because her "husband" didn't want to get married. They are looking at the 23rd of October for the date and the 26th for the baptism! How great! We have work to do with Fernando however, he still has a lot of doubts and concerns we haven't quite worked through. But if the Lord can change his heart in terms of marriage, it is only a preparation for the softening of heart towards the gospel! 

Harold hasn't been able to get baptized because he has been in Pasto taking final exams and is really busy. But through phone calls we can tell everything is going well! Claudia also is coming along, we are still trying to get an appointment set with the husband. But we did see a miracle with her... she said she wanted a clear answer telling her that what she was doing was worth all the hassle that it was causing at home, she was frustrated and almost about to call it quits. But then she opened the bible and started reading in a random page. It just so happened that it opened to Acts 1:4-5:

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.5  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

She took that to mean that she should not depart from the church, but should wait for the promises and blessings she was promised, and that in "not many days" she would be baptized. What an answer! I must say she is the most truly converted investigator I have had on my mission! We just have to look for the way to make it all happen!

Well that's it for today! I am super happy to be a missionary right now! I am living with more purpose now than ever before, and I feel like I am becoming a better more effective missionary every day. There is much left to learn and to do before my time is up and it makes me happy to say that! Thanks for everything! 

Elder Eliason

"These 'hopes' that I had before my mission have become knowledge."

Good friend Elder Welling after the interviews in Pasto.

Get this, one of my old SUU roommate's brother is in my zone now, Elder Anderson.
 Small world!

Classic Gringo after conference pic! 

Hola familia!! 

Always great to hear from home! Thanks for the letters Mom and Dad! I saw someone the other day with a Chipper Jones jersey! I thought that meant good luck but I guess not, oh well, I'm still doing the chop! And I'm quite impressed with the Dallas Cowboys offense, the D however, not so much. I hope everyone is doing well with school as well!

Well I am just spiritually full after the wonderful conference we witnessed this weekend. As all of the other conferences I have watched, I watched it in English. The first conference I tried in Spanish and couldn't get past the frustration of hearing a voice that doesn't match with the mouth moving... see yaa Spanish. Some highlights for me were Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the Priesthood session, David A Bednar with a stirring talk about tithing, and also the Prophet's address on Sunday Morning. I had a great time soaking in all of the sessions, as it is the Super Bowl for missionaries. 

So I have a new comp! His name is Elder Cordova from Santa Cruz, Bolivia! That's right, another Latino! And I couldn't be happier because he really brings a great energy here to Ipiales. He has been in Cali his whole mission so he brings the happy, free, and crazy feeling down to Ipiales. I am looking forward to what we can accomplish together!  

In the area right now we are still going pretty good. We have been focused on the other side of missionary work, helping the new converts and less actives out a lot. There are tons of members in our branch and very many less actives. So we had the idea to start seeking them out and trying to find new investigators that way. It worked out pretty well! There is a new key indicator that is called a "rescued member" or something like that.. and it consists of finding a less or in-active member, teaching them the 5 missionary lessons, having them come back to church at least twice and an interview with the bishop. If all that happens it counts as a "rescued member." So that has been a huge blessing of having so many missionaries in the field, being able to contribute more to helping those who have been lost or who have gotten confused. And it is great that we can measure how well we are doing it with the new key indicator. 

We are also making a lot of progress with our investigators! Harold is making great progress practically on his own because of the difficult situation of him studying in Pasto. The date is for this Saturday and we will do everything possible to make it happen. We are going to be able to see him in Pasto because we are going to the ZL Council on Wednesday! We are hoping we can help through his doubts. He is a little worried that he doesn't know enough to be baptized. He has a strong testimony and is already living a worthy life, so we know he is prepared. He just needs to understand the doctrine of baptism a little better and the principle taught in Alma 32:16:

 "Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe."

Claudia's situation is a little difficult because of the opposition of the "husband." We had a powerful lesson with her this past week teaching of the miracles that come to the faithful. She pictures her little 7 year old son as a missionary and so she loves to meet with us. A daily call is normal just to see how we are doing and to talk about the last reading assignment we have given her. There was a problem however this weekend when her "husband" told her that if she wanted to go to church he wouldn't support her and that they would separate. That hit us pretty hard, but we have faith that if we can talk to him the Lord can change his heart!

There are a few others that are preparing for baptism that are progressing a little bit slowly, they need a little bit more time to let go of some things. 

I am super happy for a new transfer and a new commitment to give MORE! I love this work and I am so grateful for the time I have had and the time I have left to take advantage of this unique time in my life. 

I would like to express my testimony that I know Christ lives, His influence is felt in this work more than I can say. I know that His church has been restored to its fullness and the everlasting Gospel of hope is once again available for all those who will humble themselves before God and repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. I know that we have a true prophet on the earth today, I know that the Book of Mormon is a true book of God that testifies of Christ and will lead us to Eternal Life. I know that this is God´s Work and He is the one who leads it. These are things I have come to know as the Holy Spirit has testified to me as I teach these truths to other people. These "hopes" that I had before my mission have become knowledge, and for that I am ever so thankful, in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Just felt the need to share my testimony with you all... kinda random but felt the impression!

Thanks for all you do and for all your prayers, I love each one of you!

Elder Eliason

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"272 people were baptized and confirmed this month in the mission! The most in 25 years."

I got the opportunity to baptize someone! This is the whole family... 

me and my pops Elder Matos (probably the last time I'll see him because he leaves this transfer.)

Tribute to Dads mission! Found a KOREAN Book of Mormon! 

¿Como me les ha ido familia?? 

Another clutch detailed letter from mom and dad! I am loving these new and more detailed letters, I feel part of the family! Sad about scorekeeping... Thought that was gonna be a forever family job haha. Good news about the Braves and Rangers, always exciting the playoff season! Elder Matos was telling me he knows who the new star pitcher for the Braves. He is from the same part of the Dominican. He also knows Neftali Feliz and Jose Reyes, no big deal. Also it gave me a smile to know Haley is already involved in missionary work! Bringing a friend to church is something I could never do unfortunately, a true sign of conversion! Congrats also goes to Conno for keeping the great grades in his AP classes, such a stud! And great to hear of the continued success of the Allen Eagles football program, that stadium must be rockin! 

As for our week in Ipiales, it was the week of miracles. We went on splits just about every day, interviewed like crazy, and worked many miracles through faith and diligence. It was the last week of the crazy month of September and the mission was going for the most confirmations it has seen in 25 years, and we did it! 272 people were baptized and confirmed this month in the mission! What a blessing. 

We weren't, however, without opposition this week. We had a couple in Ipiales wanting to get married for a while now who were told 4 times this week that the wedding couldn't happen. After fighting at the notary, and looking for a miracle they were told that they could get married Saturday in the morning! Married in the morning, baptized at night! Thats how it's done! We also saw 2 or 3 miracles with some old investigators who have been prepared a long time for baptism but for some reason hadn't made the decision. 

We decided an interview might help them out seeing how the questions are made up to determine if the person is prepared or not. There was one experience in an interview that I will never forget. The doubt was that the person didn't trust herself to keep the commandments after baptism. But that was what was missing, she didn't have faith in HERself. The question was in who or what her faith was based. If our faith is in ourselves we will always fail what with our flesh being weak, but when our faith is based in Jesus Christ He can change what is wrong in us and help us through our difficulties and weaknesses. I was grateful for the inspiration to know what she needed to hear and for the Spirit who reminded me of what I had studied on an earlier occasion. We were able to help 3 or 4 people in that same family into baptism as well! 

We did have a few people fall through for whatever reason, but the fact is is that we saw the hand of the Lord in the work this week. I loved the zone we had this transfer, we were really tight and united in helping each other out and doing things to benefit other companionships, including fasts, divisions, phone calls to investigators, and so on. It's too bad that they're going to take half of them out this week, Including my comp, and pops Elder Matos (probably the last time I'll see him because he leaves this transfer.) I'll be staying at least another transfer and I am pretty happy about that because after a rough start we are about to see the fruits of all our labor! 

Claudia is still doing great, we just have to help her get married. We plan to talk to the "husband" this week to see what we can do. Also Harold is progressing super well, reading like a maniac, he's already in Alma! He is going really well for the 12th of this month! William was going to get baptized this week but fell through for problems and opposition with the family. He's a little down animo wise but we are gonna keep trying to help him out. We need all of your prayers this month so that all of these people we have can progress, have a conversion, and enter into the strait and narrow path! 

I hope everyone has a great week and can all do their part in their missionary work this week! Thanks for all the support and for the prayers. Love you all!

Elder Eliason