Thursday, November 28, 2013

"what is really the measure of success in the mission is commitment to the Lord's Work."

Heyyy there family!!

Wow great news on the sports front, if you are a Rangers fan that is... the story on McCann is just tragic, everyone knows you can't go from a Brave to a Yankee, come onnn! Cowboys are also looking great! Well, not that great but it works! 

I can't believe it is already Thanksgiving! This year flew by like nothing else and we are already almost in December! I wish everyone a great Thanksgiving, I can't wait to finally taste real pie next year haha. I think I said this last year but there is no such thing as Thanksgiving here, or anywhere in South America haha so everyone is just getting ready for Christmas early! There is already a ton of lights out! Holiday spirit!

Okay so there is a lot to write about this week...

First of all, our investigators are doing great. I believe I told you about Mabel last week, she has progressed a ton! She reads, prays, and comes to church every week now. She only had a few doubts because she didn't have a ton of friends in the Church and she felt a little strange in such a new place for her. As far as testimony goes, she is right where she needs to be. We had a great lesson with her this Friday where we had a brother from the Branch come with us to go over the interview questions and help her out with any last doubts before her baptism on Saturday. She answered every question with a resounding yes, and proved to herself that she is prepared to take this step. We were able to testify that the interview was not made up by us as missionaries, but is made up by the leaders of the Church and by the scriptures (D&C 20:37) to see who is qualfied for baptism and who isn't. We are looking to have a super spiritual baptismal service to help her and everyone who attends have a great experience.

Laura and Giovanny also came to church for the first time this week, and it was great because their daughter got to participate in the Primary program! They loved it and had a great experience their first Sunday at church. They seem to be progressing the only problem they have is time, they don't have a lot of it. We can only see them once a week, and they are still apprehensive about changing religion so fast, we have come to realize they don't have a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon yet, and if they come to obtain one everything will fall into place by itself. That is what we will focus on in our short time we have with them this week.

We also found a new progressor this week looking for inactive members with the branch list. This has always worked out well for me in my mission. In the families of members are always found great investigators, and an inactive to reactivate! Well we found a lady inactive named Yolanda and her son Juan David who is a nonmember. Well it was great because Juan David was really and I mean really receptive. We taught the Restoration and gave him a B.O.M. Great lesson. And he came to church! Looks like he will progress fast.

I am leaving out a ton but those are the key ones for this week... que pena.

I have been studying a lot this week humility and its importance in Missionary Work and in life itself. It must be an important topic because a huge message of the Book of Mormon is how pride got the best of an entire civilization and was the downfall in the end. Sometimes pride can be the downfall of missionaries as well. With the leadership system that is set up by the church in the missions it is easy for us to get caught up in who's gonna be the next ZL or Assistant, but what is really the measure of success in the mission is commitment to the Lord's Work. We are all "unprofitable servants" according to King Benjamin and can never become good enough as missionaries. Leadership is not found in the position, but in the leader. One great quote Code sent me one time says it best. "Greatness isn't in us, it is through us." Humility can be a great power as well. I think that is what Paul meant in this scripture, (2 Cor 12:9-10):

 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 

When we recognize our weaknesses and show our faith by working to overcome them, grace fills our life and we are given power beyond our means. However pride never recognizes its faults, and can never gain the faith to work to overcome them, complacency becomes laziness and leads to nothing but lack of progress. I also love a scripture I found in Acts!

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

Wow, that just speaks for itself the power that was received by 2 apostles of the Lord and humility that permitted them to be filled with such power and grace!

Let us all be humble and I promise we will be blessed! Well thanks for all the prayers for me and the mission. I am still loving it! I will keep loving it until the very end!

Till next week ya'll!

Elder Eliason 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"It has been a lot of fun with Elder Menendez. We get along just super great."

Ivan Benavidez of 19 years got baptized!

Hiya mi gran familia! 

Nt much going on at home huh? Well on the contrary here in the mission field!! 

Well we are now pretty much accustomed to the new area, it has been a lot of fun with Elder Menendez he is such a laid back, chill character with a great sense of humor. We get along just super great. He really knows how to work too, he has a ton of creative ideas on how to move the work along quicker and more efficient. We just have a blast in Popayan!

Well I can't remember if I told you guys that we were gonna have another baptism this week or not... but we did! Ivan Benavidez of 19 years got baptized! It was great to see because when we got here he had been taught just about everything, he just had trouble believing that he was ready for such a big commitment. We had a great week involving him in various activities with the branch that helped him feel more in family, we had a great lesson with him helping him understand the true requirements for baptism and that it is the beginning of something much bigger. Also, the doctrine of the Priesthood helped him a lot with giving him the desire to serve others. In the end, the decision was made! 2 weeks in Popayan, 2 baptisms! 

We also have a few other progressing investigators I can tell you about. 

Mabel: She is about 23 years old and we found her last week through another investigator who has a son in the mission. Mabel is the other investigator's niece and so the missionary is her cousin. She is progressing super fast, she had come to church before but the missionaries thought she was a member so she never got contacted. We have taught her the first three lessons and also the Sabbath Day. That was the main issue with her, she thought that going to church was just something we do if we have time or if we feel like it and didn't quite understand the commandment part of it. 

She understood the What, just not the Why. So we had a great lesson on it and it helped her understand that it is for our own good that we have this commandment. We have so many worries and become "spotted by the world" during the week that we need a time to reflect on our real purpose for being here. I love what the Guide for the Scriptures in Spanish says about it.. "It is our time to remember Him." It is a great time for self evaluation of how we are doing in our eternal progression, the key to salvation is remembrance. I pray I always remember what I have learned on my mission.

Cristina: She is a great investigator, just has a problem giving up the Catholic church because of ties with the family. We found her through an inactive member, she lives in the same house as the inactive who recently got active! I believe we just need to make her feel a part of the family with the branch because she keeps all of the commitments and has a strong testimony, she just needs to feel more supported. 

Jionny and Laura: They are married! What a miracle.... haha. We found them through a reference from a member and they are really receptive. Well, they werent at first but have gradually opened up to the message. With Elder Menendez I feel as in tune with my companion as I ever have teaching. The Spirit is always really strong in our lessons, and Jionny and Laura have felt it. That is the only explanation that they have progressed because when we found them they already had a church, and they loved it. But when the doctrine of the Restoration is fully comprehended and the Spirit bears witness of it, it can change everything. We are really hoping they keep progressing because the branch needs more families, and they would be just super.

Well I thought I was gonna have more time to talk about the investigators but I guess not. I'll have to tell you about the rest next week. But it should be super fun next week because we have a ton of splits lined up. It is always so fun to work with other missionaries in other areas! 

Have a great week!

Elder Eliason

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Of all the districts in the mission Popayan is the closest to becoming a Stake."

A cool sunset

With future missionary Santiago and Elder Rodriguez, the best district leader ever.

Gabriel Diaz returned missionary from Chile Vina del Mar, great guy to do divisions with.

 A wonderful family who came to church my last Sunday, they all have a baptismal date!

 Diana Enriquez who I never got to see get married...

In Ipiales posing like a soccer team

The beloved familia Malez who we activated
Baptism here in Popayan!
Some great member families who were the greatest ward missionaries ever.

I will miss these valiant members!

The convert family Regalado came to meet me at the terminal!

Saying goodbye to Elder Cordova

Hola Familia!

Well this week was really interesting! We got here to Popayan and had to get to know the area, zone, city, members, chapel, and everything else being super new! The members have been a huge help, they have been showing us around and helping us get to know the people who the missionaries were teaching. It has an advantage being new because you can pretty much ask anything you want to get to know them and it helps you understand better what it is they need to progress! So we have been spending a lot of the week with members and getting to know the area.

What was really great was that the Elders before us were preparing a great young man named Camilo for baptism this week, and we were able to make it happen! Camilo had been going to church for like a year now and hadn't been baptized because his parents wanted to see a real change in him and to know that he would stick with the decision. Well, after a year they gave the permission and he finally got to be baptized. His desire is to be a missionary some day and help people who need to feel loved. Great kid and it was an honor to be apart of the baptism! 

Elder Menendez and I had a great meeting with the District President about what was to be done about using the missionaries we have to build a stake here in Popayan. He gave us a list of all the recent converts for the last 3 years and told us to look for the men who have not been ordained to the Priesthood. The 2 main requirements to becoming a stake are at least 15 Melchezidek Priesthood Holders (MPH) who pay a full tithing and there must be 1 MPH who pays tithing for every 20 members. So we are looking for families with a stable father. President Zambrano is really excited to bring Popayan to the next level. Of all the districts in the mission Popayan is the closest to becoming a stake. 

We have been thinking about giving a training this week on how to better commit our investigators. The investigators are a lot more likely to progress if they feel how much it matters to us that they progress, and that will only come by inviting them to change directly and firmly and promising the blessings that will follow. 
If we teach the perfect lesson and the investigator doesn't feel committed to do anything we have failed in our objective. We are to invite others to COME unto Christ... with "come" being an action word. We cannot believe our teaching will change the actions of our investigators because they will learn the most when we are not present. The commitments we leave every lesson are the most important part, we must do it right. There is a great chapter in Preach My Gospel that I love about committing investigators, but sometimes we stop studying it as we get older in the mission. I am excited to give the training and hopefully see some good results come of it.

Speaking of training we have another ZL Council this week and I am SO happy I no longer have to travel 13 hours to get there...what a relief... 

Sorry this letter is way random... I'm sure next week I will have a better base from which to talk about! But I will send a ton of pics! 

Have a great week!

Elder Eliason

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Build a Stake in 2 and a half months? That´s why the Lord chose you."

My trainer, Elder Matos, heading home! Photo Courtesty of Hermana Prince Blog

Hola familia! This is gonna be pretty quick because we have to get out and start getting to know the knew area. This will be the second time that I will be "opening" an area with there being two new missionaries in the area. Like I said before my new comp is Elder Menendez from Uruguay and I'm super excited, he is a great missionary who I will learn a ton from. 

I got a message from President the other day expaining my new assignment: 

Elder Eliason,
You have been assigned to Popayan, which has lately come alive.  Your companion will be Elder Menendez.  The two of you have a very unique assignment ... to help Popayan become a Stake of Zion.  You lack more worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders who pay a full tithe, primarily in the Occidente branch. (Elder Menendez will bring the figures).  Help the members participate in tithing settlement ... this will bring the district closer.  Your zone must also baptize men and families in high volume while helping retain and activate former members.  Get this largely done before Elder Menendez goes home in January. Sounds easy, right?  Build a Stake in 2 and a half months? That's why the Lord chose you.
-Presidente Prince

So that will be the objective here... build a stake of Zion. Popayan has been on the verge for a while now of becoming a stake, it just needs  few more worthy Melchezidek Priesthood holders. I am really excited about this opportunity as I have been wanting to get to know Popayan for a while now. It is a city quite a bit bigger than Ipiales but smaller than Pasto, with incredible weather year round. It reminds of Utah in the summer, not too hot and not too cold. Also the zone we have here is massive, there are 20 missionaries here in Popayan. So I am looking forward to working with so many different missionaries. Another fun fact is that I will be living with 2 other missionaries again just like in Buenaventura and one of them is a new gringo, so that should be fun helping with Spanish and all. 

And last night I got in and immediately went into the area with the old ZL who was here to show me around and introduce some members and investigators. It was great because here there are a ton! I am excited to start working and getting to know everyone a little bit better! 

Saying goodbye to Ipiales was super tough. A lot of hard work and lessons learned in that city, it will never be forgotten. The hardest goodbye was with Claudia, she came to church again after a battle with the husband and kept showing her faith. My last wish was that she would keep choosing what the Lord wanted over what the world tells her to do, which in essence, is the factor that will determine each one of our success in this life. She agreed and said goodbye. There was also the Familia Malez who we helped activate that was a tough goodbye as well. I would love to go back and see all the work that I couldnt see finish, get taken advantage of. 

So that is about it! I am ready to get started here! I have always looked up to Elder Menendez as just an incredible leader, and I am grateful for the opportunity God has given me to learn from him and hopefully apply it all for the rest of my mission. I will most likely get the opportunity to "kill" him in the mission and that is something I have never done, to be honest I have only had 1 companion with less time than me in the mission, weird huh? Well cant wait to tell ya´ll all about this week on Monday.

Goodbye pics and new area pics are coming your way next time, so stay tuned! 

¡¡¡¡Que les vaya muy, pero muy bien!!!