Monday, January 27, 2014

"Pray like everything depended on the Lord, and work like everything depended on us."

With the Longhorns shirt I gave him! Hook 'em!

Goodbyes to Elder Menendez :(


Goodbye to roommate Elder Mosqueira who got called to be a secretary in the office.

Baptism of Ana Maria

Comp study! Practicing with the new Elder Silverio from Brazil, learning Spanish from Elder Dean! haha

Hola mi querida familia! ¿Como me les va?

Wow time is flyiiing by! Tanner is already home?! Didn't even see that coming... Since when?? haha. Well my comp left today, that was just super sad. It was the hardest goodbye from a companion I have had yet on my mission. He really helped me out a lot. He is a born leader and was kind enough to share some things with me that I can hopefully put into practice! He will be greatly missed! 

Well what can I say... the BYU app really took up a little bit of time but I will try to get a quick letter out with some pictures...

This week we had a lot of people to work with finally. When the week ended we were expecting more than 18 investigators to show up at church! Well, that didn't end up happening but it was great to have a ton of people to teach! We found success using the recent converts like Juan David, Ana Maria and Mabel to have us present some friends and relatives cleverly using the Home Activity as a great tool. It is like a Family Night but with the main objective being missionary work! And we found like 6 new people who we really think are going to progress! We are also working pretty hard in that new area I told you about. 
We found a returned sister missionary inactive that lives there and we have been working with her and her family for some time now. We had a great Home Activity there where we also found some new people to teach! It is always great to find investigators through the members, it always starts out the conversion process on the right foot! 

My new companion gets here Wednesday, his name is Elder Joglar from Argentina. He is the first comp I have had with less time in the mission than me since I trained! He just now got the call as a ZL so I am really excited to train a new ZL. He is known in the mission as a really hard worker who likes to get things done. He should bring a great excitement to the branch and the zone. 

I learned something this last week that helped me out a lot! Sometimes as we get time in the mission we have old ways of doing things and the newness of ideas stop coming. I feel like I have tried everything you can try! But there is something untangible that defines our success as missionaries, our ability to just make things happen. If we aren't careful we get stuck in a routine without stretching oursleves, and when that happens our effectiveness goes way down. 
The Lord said "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." 

We just need to make the determination that we want to make something happen, and we do it. There is no other secret. And Christ hath said, "If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me." 

Faith is action and when we commit ourselves to a cause expedient in Him, we cannot fail! There is no limit to what we can do! We need to make the decision, pray like everything depended on the Lord, and work like everything depended on us. Then we see miracles before our eyes and humbly look back realizing where the power we have comes from. Great lesson for anyone to put into practice. Just like Nike: Just Do It!

Well I look for a great week ahead with a new comp! Time is flying before my eyes, someone please tell it to slowww down! 

Thanks for everything!

Elder Eliason



Monday, January 20, 2014

I can't find the words to describe how a missionary feels when the people he teaches accepts the first ordinance and covenant of the Gospel.

Hey there!

Great to be writing yet again! It is just not even funny how time is flying by now a days! Good to know that nothing really is happening over there... at least there are no troubles! 

Well for me there has been a lot going on. First of all we had a baptism this past week, Ana Maria was as ready as ever to take the step of baptism! It was a great service full of members willingly giving of their love and support. The sad thing was her sister Mabel couldn't be there because she had to go to Bogota to get ready for a job she will be taking overseas. The Spirit was really thick after the baptism, it is something that is somewhat ineffable. I can't find the words to describe how a missionary feels when the people he teaches accepts the first ordinance and covenant of the Gospel. You are with them when they first start to recognize the Spirit, when they pass through the difficulties that always seem to arise, until finally they are ready to start their way to eternal life. It makes all the blood sweat and tears worth it! 

We have also been trying to help the zone this past week with a bunch of trainings and divisions trying to raise the vision of the missionaries. This week we really focused on finding quality investigators to share the Gospel with. We shared a few ideas about working with members and showing that the key of achieving true conversion with more people is helping the members understand their role in missionary work and guiding them through what they need to do. It actually worked out because the number of referrals received and contacted went up! This week we are planning to do the same type of thing but with getting the investigators to come to church! Should be a lot of fun! 

I would like to share a quick a experience I had this week! I was proselyting in my area on a division last Thursday and we were teaching one of our progressing investigators and we noticed there was 2 people we hadn't before seen. We began talking to them and found out they were the mother and sister of José our investigator. We introduced ourselves and invited them to join in the lesson. They immediately (and somewhat smugly) told us that they were devoted and committed in another church. We said we just wanted to share a message about Christ that would strengthen their faith in Him and somehow we got them to stay. 
It was almost awkward how uninterested they were in listening to us. I had a thought come into my head that we should just share something on faith and get outta there... but then came to my mind a quote from Preach My Gospel (PMG) that says something like have faith that the Spirit will testify of the truth of the message of the Restoration to all who will listen to it. And so we shared with them the message of the restoration. It was easy to recognize how the Spirit wanted that lesson to be taught, as we asked inspired questions the doctrine that needed to be taught flowed from our mouths. It turns out that the sister was looking for real spiritual steadiness in a religion with real concrete standards who she could know that God is at the head of. She was looking for something without knowing that she was looking for it. 

At the end of the lesson we asked her if she would like to know for herself that the Book of Mormon is true, and she accepted with a huge smile on her face. Her face had changed tenfold from the beginning, being originally shut off to completely touched by the Spirit. Now I have also been in similar situations that haven't resulted so well... the point is is that we should always open our mouths to share what we know is true. And for that God-given testimony that I hold I am eternally grateful. 

Well that's it for this week, We look to have some more baptisms lined up for this weekend for the last week of my comp's mission! We are gonna send him out on a good note! 

Have a great week!

Elder Eliason 

"The will of God comes to be understood as we council with each other with a humble attitude."

With Elder Menendez at Zone Leader Conference! (All pics courtesy of Sister Prince's blog)

Here is Popayán Zone...all smiles!

Que hubo familia bien o qué?

Good opening liner right there, very Colombian! 
I hope everyone recovered well after the freezing temperatures last week, good to know it has normaled out a bit! And that picture dad sent me was a little shocking, Cody's beard is out of control. Is that real or some Instagram edit feature type thing, haha, unbelievable. Also that quote Haley posted was just inspiring, I so agree. Christ should reflect in all of us, and I think it is so great Haley posts things like that for all of her friends to see. What an example! Sounds like everyone is doing great!

For us this week it has been pretty crazy! We had the opportunity to go to Cali for another ZL Conference and also took advantage of the trip for Elder Menendez to say goodbye to a few old friends in Valle Grande (he also served there.) So I also had the opportunity to see a few old friends as well which is always great. That was Wednesday and Thursday was the council which was amazing. We had a great debate on what we all thought was some of the things that were keeping us from being the best mission we could be, or the main difficulties we face as a mission. We got it down to like 4 things we wanted to focus on. 

1. Obedience
2. Leadership (impact leaders have to help the missionaries)
3. Proselyting (or abilities like teaching, finding, planning, etc.) 
4. Ánimo (or excitement and willingness mixed, that word doesn't translate very well) 
We split up and thought of a plan to figure out what we wanted to do to get better in every category. With so many great minds thinking of ideas we came up with a pretty great plan. I am coming to understand another important way revelation is received, through council! It is done all throughout the church in every ward, stake and even the general leaders! I used to think why does President Prince need us to make decisions, I now understand that the will of God comes to be understood as we council with each other with a humble attitude. 

After getting back late at night Thursday we had interviews with President on Friday! Those are so great... I let him know about a few of the goals I have in this last quarter of my mission. I also asked his guidance on a few things I have been studying lately and that have been on my mind. I felt a lot of prayers being answered and as he gave me advice and answered my questions I felt grateful for inspired leaders who the Lord gives us to guide us. 
We also had a great 2 on 1 chat with my comp and President about the goals we want to set as a zone and how we can continue working towards forming a stake here. We came up with some different things we can try to get us to the next level! The Spirit was really strong and I felt so grateful for such a wonderful time in life the Lord has blessed me with to be able to focus all my time on something so meaningful and rewarding. 
Saturday morning we helped the senior couple in our mission around to all the missionaries houses to inspect and help the missionaries with some health conditions. That took a while but it was worth it because President took us to a fancy lunch afterwards that was delicious, it was like a Colombian On the Border haha. 
That same night we had the first session of the District Conference! It was the first time the missionaries were invited to the meeting! And then on Sunday it was the District Conference session 2 and it was amazing. I feel like the messages were perfect for what we wanted the members to hear. We want real growth here and the only way to achieve it is if the members and missionaries work hand in hand bringing souls to Christ! The other good news is that despite the lack of proselyting time we had 10 investigators come! The Lord is really blessing us in our area right now. 
We had to postpone the baptisms of Christian and Ana Maria because of the problems with the confirmations on Sunday, but both are doing great and are ready for this week!

That's it! Thanks for all the support Love you all!

Elder Eliason

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"The members are so grateful they have access to a temple 20 hours away, they know and appreciate the blessings of the temple."

This was just after Skype call, a truck got stuck on a hill and we helped it get out! Which also turned into 6 new investigators, Woooh!

Pic with a great future missionary in the ward named, Arturo (like Arthur from KOQ

Ponchos! 100% Colombiano

Juan David's baptism, (ohhh, and we also got to sing "Teach me to walk in the light" in English with the 6 gringos from the zone, that was cool because Juan David lived in America till he was like 17!) 

Familia Oime who was also baptized! 

Hiya there family!!! 

Great news about the Texas hire.. never heard of him but I'm sure he is what we need! Good to see as well that the holidays finished well! I also am liking Haley's new blonde hair haha it looks a lot different but in a great way! 

Well this past week has been another hectic week, full of craziness in this city. This was the week of carnival festivals, it's basically just a huge excuse for the people to go out and spray whoever they want with foam and flour and a bunch of other stuff. It has been pretty crazy because they don't even respect young men in shirt and tie! So we had permission to proselyte this week with a poncho type thing to protect our shirts and ties and what not. (Pics incuded) So you can probably guess how difficult it was to proselyte haha. But we did what we could. 

The first priorities were the baptisms we had this week! Juan David was baptized this Saturday and what a great moment it was. Ana Maria unfortunately had to travel to a pueblo for a family emergency but we have been in contact with her and she is still excited and prepared. Our numbers were a little short in the baptismal service because a ton of the members went on a temple trip with the district this week, but those that came were able to support well the newly baptized members. 

We had a great experience Sunday because of the wonderful testimonies that were born by the members who had recently been sealed in the temple with their families. Here in Colombia most of the members are really far from the temple and don't have the access we have in the U.S. You can see the light and power newly received beaming from those members. They are so grateful that they even have access to a temple 20 hours away, they know and appreciate the blessings of the temple. It makes me sad to realize that many of us who live so close to a temple at home rarely take advantage of the blessing we have. I remember right beofre the mish I loved going to the temple to feel the Spirit so strongly, it is something I really miss!

We are also progressing with a young man named Christian. He is 20 years old and we found him because he straight up showed up at church by himself. He said he had always wanted to know what we believed and had a friend who's life had been changed by the Gospel and wanted to find out more. Haha I love Colombia. We set up a teaching appointment and taught him the restoration right away. I love teaching people who are really super prepared. You are able to see the difference in how the Spirit works with them to find the answers they have always been searching. A new light comes to their life when they read the Book of Mormon, pray, and attend church. He has a date for this Saturday

We are still working with Andres in spite of the halt of progress he has had. He still hasn't made a decision if he wants to get married or not with his girlfriend. He now understands the Law of Chastity and is trying to work things out. I know he will end up making the right decision. We will see him this week to see if he has made any progress. 

We are also working hard in the new area we have and have been trying to rescue a ton of members. We will get a better gauge of how we are doing when the festivals stop ha. 

Well sorry this is kind of short but the Internet is about to close for carnivals! Until next week!

Elder Eliason 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

"HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hard to say goodbye to my "mission year" but ready to see what 2014 has in store!"

Colombian Christmas food!

Pic with the branch president and his family who gave us it all (the food)

Mission Leadership Council 

Hey there! 

Good to be writing again after talking to you guys on Thursday! The time sure went by fast as it always does but it is always nice to have a quick chat with the fam! I'm happy I was able to share some feelings about my mission at the end there. I apologize that I got all jumbled up with my words, one day I will be able to tell all about it without a time limit!! It was also great to see all of the great gifts, Cody's mission book took the cake for me. You can just put that on the future Christmas list! Too bad about the Cowboys... again. I think it's time for Jerry Jones to step down. 

Now for what is happening here! 

There is a lot of new excitement in the area right now! First of all we will be having two baptisms this week. Ana Maria and Juan David have been doing just amazing and are about to take the step that will open the doors to the eventual journey to eternal life! I think the key with both of them progressing so rapidly is getting them involved with the members. They feel part of the team, and that is what happened with the members of the Church with Alma the Older....
 "And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another." (Mosiah 18:21)
It has been really great seeing them progress and I feel great about their conversions because I know that there will be people looking after them when I'm not here any more. I think that is an important part of missionary work that I didn't understand earlier on.

We had a pretty cool experience with Ana Maria this past Saturday as we went to teach her to sure up the date we had for her. We were struggling in planning what we should do to help her progress more because she was always just super willing and receptive, but we could feel something was missing. We decided to make up a plan that was about repentence thinking that would lead to what we were looking for. We taught the lesson and it felt just like any other lesson not really acheiving the spirituality we wanted but then came the impression to teach and testify of the Savior, and the reality of His sacrifice. That is when the Spirit became strong and she expressed feelings that had been given her of the Spirit, we acheived the connection we were looking for. The scripture 2 Nephi 9:21-23 came to mind...
 21 And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.
 22 And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.
 23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God
We invited her right then to "hearken unto his voice" by following His commandment to be baptized. 

This taught me a lesson that sometimes as missionaries we get too fancy in our teaching, sometimes all the people need is to feel of the Savior's love and have the Spirit testify of His reality, that is what made it all make sense for Ana maria. I was grateful for that lesson the Lord taught me and for the fulfillment of the promise that we will know what to say in the moment we need it. 

We also have an exciting development developing in the area because pretty soon the district will have different divisions in the branches. This is because there is a huge section of members that have gone inactive because they can't pay for the transit costs to get to the capilla (chapel). They are a lot closer to our capilla and finally the divisions will be changed. S

So in order to scope out a part of our new to be area we went with a member to that area to the rescue! We found a ton of families that want to come back! They felt abandoned because of the distance from the rest of the members but are excited about the change. We were really excited because that means that there are a ton of nonmembers in those homes and the missionary work in that area will blow up! It felt like Buenaventura again going to a zone missionaries havent worked in years and it was great to get to know so many new people!

So basically that is what is going on right here! It is weird killing (being the last companion of) another missionary. Elder Menendez is doing so great staying focused and not only that, but is more motivated to finish off great. He still looks to get better and doesn't think he knows it all, a great example of how I want to finish my mission. I am glad I still have a lot of time left because I know there is a lot more I need to do and become while I am here. I just love the people here, they have such believing hearts and good spirits. I feel as if I was a Colombian who was born in America. I know I was sent here by revelation, there is no other place I would rather serve. 

Thanks for the support and HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hard to say goodbye to my "mission year" but ready to see what 2014 has in store!

Chau chau, 

Elder Eliason 

Skype Highlights with Elder E! - December 26, 2013 -- Coming Soon!

"I now realize that the joy of this life is found in the hope of what and who we can become."

Woowww, hard to believe this will be my second to last letter here in 2013! 

Congrats to the Allen Eagles for pulling off the repeat! Thats really great I bet Allen will start getting some big time fame now, back to back in 5A Texas football is a big deal! 

It also warmed my heart to see the family all reunited fixing up the Christmas tree and what not, I remember those being some good times! Thanks dad for alll the great pictures you have sent me in my mission.

Okay this will be brief but I have got to get something in before our chat on Thursday! Here in Popayan things have been getting very festive... I mean really festive. Colombians love to party. This week there was just a ton of what are called novenas, and that is basically a Catholic tradition where they celebrate nine days leading up to Christmas. A lot of appointments fell through this past week due to this lovely tradition... but we are still keeping on! 

As for our investigators, it has been a tough week. A lot of our appointments have fallen due to the parties but we did the best we could with what we were able to do. Finding ways to take advantage of all the free time we had was a fun experience. I have learned a ton of how to use time wisely in the mission, although the time in the mission passes by so fast, we have a ton of time during the day and you can get so much done if you are just diligent in how you work. 

We did teach a lesson to Andres who has just let his girlfriend move in again. We felt really bad because he was progressing so well and he is just so ready to be a great member of the church. Well you could just see that he had lost a little bit of the light of the Gospel. We did have a great lesson though and taught him about how keeping the commandments are the only way we will gain the faith necessary to withstand the trials that await us in life.

However our convert Mabel and her sister are still going great. Progressing super fast, remind me to share an experience we had with them in the Skype call this Thursday! 

We are also working with a ton of others that were basically put on hold due to vacations and what not, but cant wait for things to normal out a little bit after this week!

This Christmas has been something really special because I feel so much different than I did last Christmas. Last Chrsitmas was a little harder to keep the thoughts about home out of my head and focus on what I was here to do. I feel like knowing that I will never experience a Christmas like this one ever again has helped me realize that the Spirit of Christmas can only be felt if the Spirit of Christ is also felt. 

As like so many other things I have realized in the mission, I feel that sacrificing everything has made me realize everything I had to gain in life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us the opportunity to become a little bit better every day, as we give a little bit more of ourselves every day. I now realize that the joy of this life is found in the hope of what and who we can become. That is why it was important that the Savior was born and so this Christmas I am focusing as best I can in this Work!

Thanks for everything and talk to you on Thursday at 2 o clock my time!!!

Have your questions ready and please please have patience with my English :)

Elder Eliason