Friday, April 25, 2014

"I know now is the time to give it all I have."

Pic of three crosses. 
There is a place at the top of the 3 crosses to do exercise, and I took advantage to start getting the strength back! Gettin' back to the Elder Eliason before he was elder.... haha 

This is Toro, the security guy from our apartment building, he’s hilarious.

Elder Belnap, the first missionary I met when I got to Cali, came back to Colombia with his wife and stopped by the office to say hi.

First airplane ride in the mission.

Los Prince getting on the plane.

Hola Familia, 

Como me les ha ido!

Great hear from the family every week, it gives me the boost I need to keep going strong! Thanks Dad for always being so good with the pictures. It is really weird to be hearing about Haley's Senior Prom? I feel like it wasn't that long I did that! Anyway, that should be  super memorable night for her! Looks like Conno is still ballin' hard! He sure has grown up quite a bit! 

So this week was a great week full of training interviews and more training. We finished up the whole mission with interviews and it was really a fun time getting to know literally all of the missionaries. We started the week going up north, I had never been up there so it was a good experience getting know more parts of Colombia. My companion and I also take advantage of always being in the car with president to ask tips and gain doctrinal insight on missionary work. It is really amazing how smart he is and all he has learned in his time here in Colombia. 

In other news, we had limited time in the area this week but we managed to use the little we had well. What happened in our area when we got there was what inspired the training in the interviews. We got there and realized that there were a ton of families that were investigating! It sounded great until we got there and taught the first lesson. We realized that the families we were teaching didn't understand the purpose of why were teaching them. They really weren't interested in committing themselves to the Gospel, they were just interested in the missionaries coming over and having a good time with them. 

We came to realize that they weren't the prepared investigators we were looking for, and that the missionaries had spent a lot of time there without any type of progress. The importance of talking about our objective as missionaries with the investigators is great because it gives them a vision of where we see this process going. we can also tell a lot quicker if the investigator is really interested in committing themselves or not. 

So that is what we did, and we had to stop teaching a few of those families and focus the little time we have into finding the people prepared of the Lord. And this week we were blessed with a great family of 6 that we found through a contact when I first got here. Turns out that the hotel in Cali we use to shelter the new missionaries when they first get here had a worker that we contacted and finally were able to teach! They are really great and the first lesson we were able to talk a lot about our purpose and how the Gospel can bless their lives. We taught them the Restoration and immediately it was evident their interest in our message. You can tell the interest of an investigator when you are clear and direct with the commitments you extend them and how they react. 

We have also been using the members a ton here. With us traveling this month, they have helped us out quite a bit. We have had a ton of FHEs this week with the new families we have found. We basically gather about 10 or 15 members and go around house to house doing FHE with messages of Easter and games to get the members well involved and well entrusted with the families. We call it the Mormon Portable Party (MPP), it is a great tool to establish trust with the investigators and help them feel well fellowshipped. 

We headed up the mountain of the 3 crosses this morning with a few members of the MPP. It was fun about a year ago when we did it as a council, but this time I feel like I was in better shape so it wasn't as hard haha. I'll attached some pics.

Well that's it for now, I hope everything is going well back home! I feel like I am at the peak of my mission, with all of the experience gained and lessons learned, I know now is the time to give it all I have. I am really looking forward to what the Lord has prepared for me in these last 3 months of my mission. I realize I will never get the opportunity to be a missionary again and that the time will go by fast, that is what fuels me to give even more!

Thanks for the prayers and support!

Elder Eliason  

"I know it is not easy to be a disciple of Christ in these days but as Elder Holland said, "it's worth it."

 Freezing on the bus (forgot sweater) from Pasto to Ipiales with the comp.
In Ipiales with a convert family.

Our mission logo!

Hola Familia! 

I already wrote Codes to say Feliz Cumpleaños but I think it's appropriate to start the letter with another shout out! Happy Birthday Codes! You are the best big brother anyone could ever ask for! 

Another shout out goes to the fam for going to the Final Four! That is a wonderful check mark on the bucket list dad! The picture you sent me was breathtaking, I remember going the first time to the stadium and thinking that there are people who would probably buy a ticket in the nosebleeds just to watch the game on the bigscreen! Haha 

Also, I don't know how I feel about changing the tradition of Saturday night priesthood session. Dad, you don't fix what's not broken. Haha!

But what a great session of conference! I loved the talk by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom who invited us all to change as a result from what we learned in General Conference. The phrase "That's just the way I am" doesn't cut it on the road to discipleship. We are believers in the Atonement of Christ and as such, we should believe in His enabling power to help us change what is not right in all of us. Let's put that into practice! Without application, General Conference is just one weekend of fine talks that comes and goes every 6 months! 

I was also impacted by Elder Christofferson's talk on the Resurrection. I had never taken into a count all the wonderful things that we know and depend on as a result from the fact that Christ arose on the third day. 

 “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” 

I also loved Elder Ballard's talk about following up, he was teaching us while teaching us. Especially as missionaries we have such a great need to follow up with our investigators to help them progress. It is the same for everything else, we should all be people of commitment, committed to God and to living His Gospel, and constant following up with ourselves and others is the way we keep ourselves honest and measure progress.  

I could go on all day about conference but there doesn't seem to be enough time for that. As for what has been going on here in Colombia.

We started the week diving head first into interviews, Tuesday we started with Palmira which is a town located just about 20 minutes from Cali. As I said before we are giving a training to the whole mission about teaching more directly and being able to express our main purpose as missionaries and giving them the vision of where we see them going. It went really well, we feel like the practice is really helping missionaries to understand the importance of helping the investigators understand. It is also really fun getting to know and working with so many missionaries. And it is also great because Hermana Prince makes the greatest banana bread ever and when there is some left over after the interviews we get to take advantage! 

Wednesday we did two zones in Cali and then Thursday we took my first plane ride since arriving here to Pasto. It was insane. I felt uneasy the whole plane ride what with the plane we flew on being the smallest ever I had gotten on. The turbulence was just crazy, especially arriving at the Pasto airport. The runway getting to Pasto is like in between two mountains and the start of the runway is at the edge of a cliff. Haha it was definitely an interesting experience. 

It was great to feel the cool air of Nariño again but was also not too great because I forgot my old sweater I used in Ipiales, needless to say I suffered until a missionary lent me one of his haha. The cool part was I got to visit Ipiales again and the see the new chapel they built there! Easily the biggest and prettiest chapel in the mission. I've included a pic.

We just got back about an hour ago from Pasto and are facing a brand new week of interviews and planning for what is to come in the zone conferences and webcast trainings. 

I am feeling great right now, it is a wonderful time to be a missionary and I am just trying to get everything out of it I possibly can in these last 3 months!

I hope everything is going great back home, I love you all and want you all to know that I love this Work. I know it is  not easy to be a disciple of Christ in these days but as Elder Holland said, "it's worth it." I testify that that is true, it is true in the mission field and everywhere else. We must be able to endure tough trials of our faith with our ever so sure desire to give everything for Him who we love, Him who gave everything for us.

 I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Eliason 

"We want investigators to know and understand why we are teaching them, to help them come unto Christ by repentance and baptism."

Hola familia Qué mas!! 

The Lord has been very good to us here in the Colombia Cali Mission! This week was a blessing because we started it off going to Popayan on Monday and Tuesday for interviews with the missionaries there and I got to take advantage Monday night to visit all of the great converts there! Also the interviews went just wonderfully, we were able to train on the new retention focus and all about the responsibilities that we as missionaries have in that process. We also had a training on teaching clearly and completely, and also leaving clear with the investigators our purpose as missionaries. 

As Dallin H. Oaks said:

 "We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives. … We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else can do this.” 

We want investigators to know and understand why we are teaching them, to help them come unto Christ by repentance and baptism. When they understand that, they understand better what our role is as guides in the process and what they must do to have success. If this isn't clear to them, we lose time because they are thinking we are just there to preach and they don't act and progress how we need them to. It worked really well and I felt at home once again being in Popayan. 

This week was also a blessing because we headed back to Cali Tuesday night and got to pick President Prince's brain on certain gospel topics and missionary tactics, that was the best haha. We got back on Wednesday and immediately got to work on finishing the planning for the Leadership council! It is such a cool experience planning with President and learning how he seeks revelation on how to better guide this mission. It is an experience I am really grateful for. 

The thing I have learned is that I need to be constantly thinking and analyzing and preparing to help him in that process. He is super busy with a ton of things that go on in the mission and he doesn't have all the time to think about all the details of what needs to be done in the mission. Basically our job is to make his job easier, and I am slowly getting the hang of it. 

The council went really great, we talked a lot about the importance of committing investigators with a baptismal date and how to use the members to help facilitate their spiritual conversion with a social conversion. If the investigators feel the fellowship of the members and feel at home in the church, they have a huge support system in which they can grow and be supported in their conversion process. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.

For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) 

And now we are focused on next week's trainings in the interviews and also working a lot more in our area, should be fun! 

Enjoy the rest of Conference!

Elder Eliason 

I'll send pictures a little later!