Friday, December 20, 2013

"If success isn't there in the mission, sacrifice something."

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

Heyyy family!

Wow what a bummer with the Cowboys. I know Mack Brown is the one stepping down but I'm calling for Jerry Jones to step down... come on.. but that is good news for the Allen Eagles! Wooh state 2013! I feel super old that its already gonna be 3 years since I graduated from there, ohhhh gooodness. Glad to hear the fam will be almost completely united this week! I hope everyone cherishes the Christmas season!

It has been a very spiritual week this week, it started off with a great zone conference! We were instructed by president all about how to become the "messenger" God wants us to become while we are on His time. We were taught that obedience and sacrifice is what qualifies us for the grace that is received through the Atonement of Christ. It was very spiritual and I learned quite a bit. 
While pondering later on in personal study I found examples in the scriptures that taught me about true sacrifice and the blessings that come from it like Adam and Eve and Abraham, Job, and even Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith said that "a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” If we are not sacrificing we are in our comfort zone, and the enabling power of the Atonement does not cover the comfort zone. I remember back in mission prep before the mission Brother Wright told us that if success isn't there in the mission, sacrifice something. That helped me a lot in Ipiales when the success just wasn't there. We had to sacrifice in order to let the Lord know we were willing to give it all to move forward His work. What a great lesson that our inspired mission president gave us!

We then saw the movie "The Rescue of Ephraim." Goodness gracious if you haven't seen that movie I suggest you do! Great example of sacrifice and obedience that all can learn from! That would be a great Eliason Christmas Family Activity!

As for the work here in Popayan, it sure is going along. We had 18 lessons with members this past week! They have been responding well to our "Christmas message" we have been giving to all of them this season. That the best gift you can give is a gift to Christ, don't let Him out of your Christmas" That is pretty much the campaign we are running here because we were told all the members kind of flake out during the Christmas season. NOT THIS ONE! haha. 

We had a few troubles with Andres this past week, he is still super excited but he wants to have his old girlfriend move in with him again. We taught him the Lord's stand on that subject and he will have to make the decision to follow his wishes or what the Lord wants for him. It's one of the hard parts about the mission seeing people so great who you have come to love choosing the world over the gospel but that is the greatness of God's plan..."... for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free." (Helaman 14:30

However there is great news! Mabel the recent convert has been helping her 21 year old sister Ana progress! She started talking to her about the great change she has had while investigating the Church and finally sparked her interest. So she called us and told us to go and teach her! We taught a great lesson on the Restoration and it seemed to have answered a lot of her questions. at church the Relief Society had a testimony meeting and she said she really felt something strange inside her chest that felt like pure happiness (or... the spirit.) She came out of the room crying and I had no idea if that was good or bad haha, turned out good. 

We also had 7 other people at church this week that are pretty much new so that is exciting to see that we have a lot of people to be working with! It has been such a good time here in Popayan, there is always someone to teach every day and that is a missionarys dream aint' that right Codes?

I am looking forward to the Christmas call, I think it would be best on Saturday. I will call home (for just a sec) probably on Friday to set up the time and what not. Again, Christmas day or eve is IMPOSSIBLE to find anything open. So we'll talk then! 

I am still so happy as a missionary, it seems like I will always be a missionary haha. I am so happy and am so grateful to be so immersed in the Work of God! 

Talk to you Friday (for a sec), then for an hour on Saturday!

Elder Eliason

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"During Christmas time because all of the kids are out of school and the families are all on vacation, so it's a little lonely at church nowadays."

Activity with the niños jugando juegos

Helping put up Christmas decorations at a members house!

Saturday night was a huge tradition of lighting candles outside the houses or something like that, and after teaching the lesson to Andres we helped them out. It was pretty fun... 

This little girl is the grandkid of the Andres I was talking about, the guy holding her below is his son. 

And.... we wish you a Merry Christmas from Colombia! Elders Eliason and Menendez haha

Hello Familia!

Thanks for the updates mom and dad! I will be praying for a great result for Haley's application in to BYU! Allen Eagles are still riding through the playoffs like its 2009, and it is colder than ever in Allen, Texas. I remember my senior year in Feburary we had 5 straight days off, think you can beat that? Well all in all, it sounds like a great start to the Christmas season! 

We also had a great start to the Christmas season with the devotional last night! I saw it in Spanish but it was still great! I loved the words of the hymn the little kids sang at the end during Elder Nelson's talk. I remember getting paid $5 to sing that song in sacrament with Codes back in the day! "I'm trying to be like Jesus, I'm following in His way." Now those words mean a lot more to me than when I sang that song! Every day in the mission I marvel at how it was possible for Him to be perfect. I have so many things to work on every single day and have so many faults that trying to be like Him is a lifelong work in progress. That's why I am thankful for the mission because it has taught me to see things more the way He would see things.

Well as for the Work here in Popayan, we are still working with the members and helping a ton of less actives. It is a little bitter sweet during Christmas time because all of the kids are out of school and the families are all on vacation, so it's a little lonely at church now a days. A lot of the investigators have left as well so it becomes a little challenging filling out that planner every night. But the Work must go on and this is the time to give everyone the message about why the birth of Christ is something we celebrate!

I remember last Christmas being super weird being away from home for the first time, but I also remember how sweet it was to be away from all of the commercialism and lose myself in a better cause. And now with this being my last Christmas in the mission I really want to focus and take advantage of the opportunity we have here! 

This Saturday we had a cool activity of service where we went to a super humble neighborhood to help a bunch of little kids in need with a morning full of games and fun and then a lunch afterwards. It reminded me of last year when our zone got to go to an orphanage to help out all the niños. I don't think I'll ever think of Christmas the same now. I always heard it was better to give than to get for Christmas, but I never believed it until I experienced it. Just like so many other things in the Gospel. 

I will tell you about a great new progressing investigator we are teaching! His name is Andres, and he has 46 years old. His story is a bit crazy. He had attended church as a little boy for many years with his family and was the only non member only because he wasn't 8 years old. Well after the infamous earthquake in 1983 here the house chapel they used at that time got destroyed and the family moved to a small pueblo nearby. The years went by and Andres moved out and never found the church again. 

Well later on he moved back to Popayan and just 2 years ago the missionaries found his son who is now 23 and taught him. He eventually got baptized but his father never felt worthy enough to go to church or even investigate with all of the family problems that were going on at the time. Turns out that last week we found his son through the records of the church and found Andres as well. We taught him and helped him understand that God forgives and invited him to church and he came! Wooh! He is really prepared and needs the Gospel in his life, I know he will continue to progress.

Well I think that is it for today!

Ohhhh, the Skype call! It's pretty much like last year, any day from Dec 20-Dec 31 I can Skype. Just let me know what ya'll want to do! I have a full hour so hit me up with when you want to do it! I can call you guys before to fix the exact time as well! Look forward to speaking to you all!

Elder Eliason

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"As members strengthen others, they strengthen themselves!"

Servicio Bautismal

Mabel got baptized! 

WOW, we're already in December! 

I am glad everything went great for Thanksgiving! We had lunch this past Thursday with an Hermana who tried to give us turkey but it didn't end up working out, turns out it is super expensive and hard to get here! Looks you were all watching a ton of football! High School, college, and NFL. Great news about the continued success of the Allen Eagles, what a machine! And that Nike logo is just about the coolest logo I have ever seen.... goodness. And I love the idea of the one scripture a day thing, sounds like a great way to remember the spiritual side of Christmas. I'm in!!

Here in Popayan it has been going great! We have been focusing a lot on just about every phase of the Work of Salvation. Working with less actives, teaching new investigators, and retaining the recent converts! Yesterday we had all of the recent converts from the past 6 months in church!! That may not sound like much but there has been over 20 converts, and for Colombia that is saying quite a lot! We have been teaching the branch about retaining converts and what they need to stay active and firm in the new path they have chosen. 

Gordon B. Hinckley had a great quote that says every convert needs 3 things, 1. a friend 2. a responsibility and 3. be nurtured by the Word of God. We have been teaching pretty much all of our lessons with members so that the investigator immediately has a friend, and run around church like maniacs setting up what our mission calls "nidos" which is basically when a member does something to help an investigator feel good at church (like showing them to classes, teaching them the hymns, giving them a Liahona, sitting by them, etc.) We basically refuse to work alone...

We have also been working a lot harder giving the converts assignments. Something I never realized that I loved about the church is all the opportunities we have to serve and ACT in the gospel and not just show up every Sunday. When a convert has something to do where he or she feels useful and feels his testimony growing, they will stay for sure. But it takes a certain liveliness in the ward to really make all this happen, and that missionary spirit is the best when everyone does his part. For way too long the missionaries have worked separate from the members and the failure to retain shows that. Especially in Colombia and other Latin-american countries where there are so many believing hearts who get baptized, as members strengthen others, they strengthen themselves! 

Speaking of which we had another baptism this week! Mabel got baptized! She was going great ever since last week and so we had a ton of time to prepare the baptismal service and it turned out SUPER. I have learned that a baptismal service done well can be a super effective tool in reactivating, retaining and finding!"Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest." (D&C 84:20) The Spirit is felt so strongly there that everyone has a great experience! We had a choir, a violinist, pianist, and we took advantage giving an assignment to a recent convert to give the talks! And it turned out great! Mabel was super happy and she will be a great convert to the church, she was given to us by a member, fellowshipped by members, and finally became a member! That's how it's done! 

We are also working with all of the other investigators I told you about last week as well, involving the members in every of the cases because it is really ugly finding out that one's converts haven't gone back to church, I hate that feeling and I have come to learn that the only way to make sure they make it is involving the members who will be able to stay with them in the long run. So let's all get it in gear and help the missionaries! 

I love being a missionary so much, I can't even believe the "mission year" is coming to an end! I can't wait for these last 7 months to apply all that I have learned here! 

Espero que todos puedan empezar la temporada de la Navidad con un espíritu de paz y adoración por nuestro Señor y Redentor Jesucristo. Acuérdanse del Porqué en vez de sólo el Qué de la navidad. Que Dios nos ayude a recordar por qué somos tan afortunados de tener este hermoso evangelio en nuestras vidas!

Break out the Google Translate!!

I hope everyone can start the Christmas season in a spirit of peace and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why Acuérdanse instead of only what christmas. May God help us to remember why we are so fortunate to have this beautiful gospel in our lives!

Hasta luego! Les quiero a todos!

Élder Eliason