Elder Colton

Elder Colton

Monday, December 17, 2012

Prayers for Lucio

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Well this week there is bunches to tell about, so I'll split it into three main parts:
1. Lynette was baptized on Saturday and it was incredible.  She invited all of her friends to come and nearly 70 people were at the baptism (normally there are 10-20).  Apart from the the baptismal font deciding to fill incredibe slowly and thus not being completely full for the baptism, everything went perfect.  It's an odd feeling to realize just how simple of a decision it is to be baptized, yet just how profound of a change it creates.  And it all started with one 18 year old talking with her best friend about God.

2. This week I need your help.  Each and every person who is reading this: I NEED YOUR HELP. Hopefully that grabbed your attention enough. 
One of the people we're teaching right now is a 17 year old boy named Lucio.  He's a stud and wants to be baptized.  Last night we went to Temple Square with him and while we were there, he said "I've already made my decision [about being baptized] and no-one can change that.  The only thing I'm waiting for is my mom."  Lucio's mom, Monica, lives in California and works everyday.  She wasn't planning on coming to visit for Christmas because she needs to work all next week. 
This is the point we are at right now:
1. There are two 22 year olds who have already served missions who said they will drive to California to pick up Lucio's mom
2. There are people who said they will pay for the gas, hotel, and the bus ride on her way home
3. Lucios says he will be baptized as soon as his mom gets here
There is only one thing left: Lucio's mom getting three days off of work.  That, right now, doesn't seem likely because of her schedule.  But, thankfully God really enjoys doing stuff that doesn't seem likely (examples: my baby cousin DJ living when she was born with basically half a heart, Mike Rettker not having failed out of school, plus all sorts of other miracles that ya'll can think of).  It would be fairly easy for God to give Monica three days off of work.  
So here is where you come in: We can't change God's will, but with our faith and prayer we can unlock blessings that he has held reserve.  So please pray for that this coming week.  Please pray that Monica will have three days off of work so that she will come to Utah to watch her son's baptism.  I know it's possible.  All God wants to do is shape the character of His children and bless us in the process.  It would change the lives of both Lucio and his mom immensely if she comes for his baptism.  Christmas is the only time of year where this is a solid possibility.  So...will you pray for Monica so that she will come to Utah for Luico's baptism?  If you say yes, thank you.  If you say no, then repent, say yes, and now I'll thank you :) It's going to happen.
Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton
And I haven't done any shout-outs for awhile but Grammie and Granddad definitely get one for this week.  They sent me a ham.  Yes, a Honey-Bake Ham.  Along with all sorts of other goodies (cinamon apple slices, etc.)  Not exactly what I was expecting when I got home for the evening, but very much appreciated.  It was exactly what both my companion and I needed on that exact day.     

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mishap with Letters

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Good news and bad news: 

Bad news first...I have recently discovered that some letters that have been sent to me over the past few months never arrived.  Unfortunately, letters get sent to our homes.  So when a missionary changes homes, the missionaries who lived there before him are supposed to give the letter to zone leaders and they are supposed to  pass the letters on.  But, it probably doesn't come as a shock that missionaries aren't exactly dilligent about that.  If you have sent a letter and haven't received a response it means one of three things: 

1. The missionaries in my old house lost it
2. I don't love you enough to respond 
3. I just forgot to respond and put the letter in my box

In the Spirit of Christmas, I think we should all just go with reason number one and forgive little old me if it was my fault.  How about it?


This past I was able to get to know Lynette much better (the one I mentioned in my letter last week)...  

She's freshmen in college here in Utah and had a few Mormon friends in High School.  Growing up she had a strong belief in God but came from a less-than-ideal family situation.  She grew up fairly independent and makes most of her decisions on her own, but still tells her parents about most things and listens to (not necessarily follows) their advice.  (Sounds like every college student on the planet...sorry Mom and Dad :) It's true)

When her friend, Ari,  first talked with her about meeting with the missionaries, she agreed mostly out of curiosity.  Let's face it: most people know some Mormon people but don't really know too much about the actually beliefs.  (I guess now is a good time to clear up one little fact: No, we don't have a seven wives!).  But as missionaries, we don't just teach people about our Church.  We help people increase their belief in God, change their lives so they follow his commandments, and them promise to follow him for the rest of their lives (which is what baptism symbolizes).  

Lynette realized that she wanted to do just that.  Obviously she still doesn't know too much about our Church.  She still has a whole lot of questions.  But she's felt in her heart (through the Holy Spirit) that this is right.  She wants to promise God that she will follow Him by being baptized.  

One of her best friends leaves home for his mission on December 19th for some far away country (sigh...).  So she decided to get baptized right before he leaves, which means that on Saturday at 1:00, she is going to be baptized.  (Picture to come next week).  

Her friend who introduced her to the church, Ari, is freaking out a little bit (to say the least).  But it's been a cool experience.  All it took was one friend loving her friend enough to talk about God with her, plus the other friend being curious enough and having a sincere enough heart to accept it.  

Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton

ps. Chances are that Lynette or Ari will stumble upon this blog at some point or another.  If you do, I hope I explained this all well enough.  And let's face it Ari, you are totally freaking out.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

No Greater Joy

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
Karina was baptized on Sunday! (That is the first exclamation point I have put in an email...so let that be a sign of how wonderful this is because words don't really describe it).  Last tuesday evening, Elder Thevenin and I went to visit her.  She had told us last Sunday that she wanted to be baptized but didn't want to choose a date yet.  So on Tuesday, we just asked her when she felt comfortable with it.  We handed her our phone to look at the calender and she said, "I've always liked the number two."  At first we assumed she meant in January, but then she said "but it's only in five days, can I be ready by then?" 
The sweet joy and peace that came over us when we heard her say that made me want to be a missionary forever.  Even thought I left that area on Wednesday (more to come on that) I was able to go back for her baptism.  Only Karina was baptized (Pablo is still taking his time) but she knows without a doubt that this is what God wants for her. 
Karina's baptism just reaffirmed to me how much Heavenly Father loves us.  He wants everyone of us to return with him and to do so, we need to be baptized by His authority into His Church.  Karina had made that step and now I get to be part of this great change in her life.     

My new companion is Elder Rasmussen from Liberty, Missouri.  He's been out about a year and a half, which feels weird because its the first time since May that I have a companion who has more time on his mission than me. 
We're serving in Layton, UT now which feels weird because it's the first time I'm outside of Salt Lake City for more than a year.  We're part of the Layton 3rd Ward. 
On Saturday, Elder Rasmussen introduced me to one of the people they are currently teaching.  Her name is Lynette and she is going to college right now. Her best friend, Ari, is a member of our congregation but growing up they never talked too much about religion (from what I understand).  Lynette knew that Ari was a Mormon and they had talked about it a little but not too much. 
But Ari decided to introduce the missionaries to Lynette and she agreed to meet so she could learn a little more.  Lynette agreed because she was curious about her friend's religion.  More to come later...
Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton
ps. If you haven't been to Mormon.org/Christmas you should check it out.  It might help you or your friends remember more about Christmas and less about the glitter and gadgets that come out in December 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Answered Prayers

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
One of two things is happen right now: God is listening to our prayers and helping Karina out, or God is tired of me and my companions taking so long so he is helping out big time.  
On Sunday night we went by Karina's to set up a teaching appointment for later in the week.  We decided to sing a Christmas Carol as they answered the door, and so they decided to just invite us in right then.  We asked Karina how we could help her as she progresses towards baptism.  As we began talking, her two boys, Juan Pablo and Brian, began to wrestle and fight, so I decided to start playing with them while my two companions talked with Karina (Pablo wasn't home).  They began to talk with Karina about how we can help but I wasn't paying attention at all.
A member of our congregation had given Karina a small statue of Christ and two little children, so I began looking at that and talking with Juan Pablo and Brian about Jesus.  I first asked five year old Brian what he thinks of when he thinks of Jesus.  He said something to the effect of "how he loves me and how I feel happy when I think about him."  Then I asked Juan Pablo.  His response...
"I had a dream about Jesus a few nights ago.  He was holding me and making sure my whole family was happy.  I know he loves me and wants me to be happy." 
During that same time period, Karina was telling my two companions a dream she had.  She had knelt down a few nights earlier and asked God if he wants her to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and if He did then if He would give her a dream to help her know. 
That same night she had a dream about her Aunt who passed away two years ago.  Her Aunt wasn't a very happy person later on in her life, but in the dream, she was happy and smiling.  She helped Karina understand that this is the path God wants for her. 
A few seconds after that, we invited Karina to be baptized and she said "Yes." 
Pablo is still very hesitant, but he says he will support Karina completely.  On Tuesday we are going to Temple Square with the whole family.  Please pray that the Holy Ghost will touch his heart and help him understand he can change and that this is the change God wants for him.
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Please Pray for Pablo

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
I don't have much email time this week. 
Please pray for Pablo.  He needs it right now.  He and his whole family are so close to being baptized and changing their entire lives.  Pablo just needs to believe he can quit drinking. 
Love you all and wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.
-Elder Colton

Monday, November 12, 2012

Elder Colton :)

Changed Lives

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Well 18 inches of snow in two days definitely puts a fun spin on missionary work.  We've been enjoying ourselves for the last few days (and I've been thanking my mom for forcing me to come out here with a scarf even though I told her I would never wear it). 
Everything with Karina and Pablo has been great.  Our Bishop (or leader of our congregation) visited them yesterday afternoon and Pablo and He had a great conversation.  They talked about the blessings that the Gospel brings to families.  When we stopped by for our lesson at 8, we asked Karina and Pablo about the difference they've seen in their family since they started learning about the Restored Gospel.  Here is a little sample of their responses:
1. We haven't had a fight in two months (to which little 5 year old Brian said, "which is weird because in California they used fight all the time."  Gotta love kids to be honest about everything).
2. The entire house feels more peaceful (cough cough...the Holy Ghost being there with them)
3. Juan Pablo is behaving much better with his brother Brian
Everything has changed about them.  Within the next month they are going to be baptized and will have the goal for going to the Temple to be an eternal family (none of the "til' death do you part") in a year.  Please pray for them that Pablo with accept that he can't "know" everything before his baptism and that faith will be how he receives his answer as to whether God wants him to be baptized.
Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pablo's Miracle

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

This week marked one of the most exciting weeks of my time here in Millcreek.

Since week one of my time here, we've been teaching a women named Karina and her two sons, Juan Pablo (8) and Brian (5).  She's come to church each week and she knows everything that we've taught is true.  Originally she told us she didn't want to be baptized yet because her mom in Mexico was very Catholic, but a few weeks ago she told us that it was more about her husband.  

Her husband, Pablo, is a great guy.  The problem is that he's been working in Idaho for weeks at a time and can only come home for a day or two before he has to go back.  Not exactly an ideal situation for us to be able to work with him.  

On Friday evening, we decided to stop by their house unannounced to talk with Karina for a few minutes.  She had told us two days earlier that Pablo would either come back on Monday evening for a single day and then leave until Thanksgiving, or that he wouldn't come back until Thanksgiving.  But thankfully Pablo decided to surprise the family and visit for the weekend, so he was home when we stopped by.  To our surprise, Karina had been telling him on the phone nearly everything we had taught her, so he already knew quite a bit about the Gospel.  We cleared up a few other questions he had and then invited him to church.  

Karina told us that he probably wouldn't come, but come Sunday morning he surprised her again and was up and ready to go.  And to top that, on the first Sunday of each month in our church we have what is called a "Testimony Meeting," which means that the entire worship service is comprised of members of the congregation sharing their testimonies at the pulpit.  

This past Sunday's Testimony Meeting was the most powerful that I've experienced in my 19 years.  Nearly 20 people bore their testimonies about their own personal conversions, eternal families, and the importance of the temples. One women in particular shared her conversion story of how odd she thought church was the first time she went because there were no paintings or statues of the Catholic Saints.  It touched Pablo's heart and afterwards he came up to me and put his arm around me, telling me he loved church and wants to come back.  

When we stopped by later that evening, Pablo was sleeping but Karina told us that his boss in Idaho has just called and told him that there was a job they needed done near Karina's house in Utah and that Pablo was being reassigned for a month.  Which means that the entire family will be together for the next month.  Heavenly Father really does know each of us.  

-Elder Colton

Monday, October 29, 2012

"It Will Change Your Life"

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Those of you who are from the Roswell Stake back in Georgia will find this amusing: Elder Bryce Kuck (who went to Milton High School) and I are now serving together (along with Elder Thevenin).  They made some mid-transfer changes and Elder Kuck and his area were added into our companionship. 

Cristina and Bernardino...
We met Cristina's mom who lives with them this past week and she is even more interested than Cristina.  Unfortunately Cristina talked with some people who had very anti-Mormon feelings last week so that shook her up quite a bit.  We haven't been able to meet with them too much this past week because they've been working longer hours than normal, but prayers from all of ya'll would be very appreciated.

One of the families who I've simply fallen in love with is Karina and her two children.  We met them in our first week and last night went to temple square with them.  Karina told us that she has been praying every night for the past month and her entire life has changed because of it.  Prayer is simple: it's talking with God.  Start by saying "Dear Heavenly Father" or something similar; end by saying "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen," and just talk with God in the middle.  I invite anyone who doesn't do that daily to do it.  It will change your life.

Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton

Monday, October 22, 2012

"The Most Inexperienced But Most Excited"

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Greetings from Millcreek once again.  I get to stay here at least another transfer.  One of the most exciting parts about this transfer is how solid my district is. 
brief explanation of how our missions are divided.  There are 300ish missions around the world, each with 100-300 missionaries.  Missions are divided into zones.  In our mission, we have 10 zones that are spread throughout our mission boundaries.  In each zone in our mission there are 2-4 districts.  Each district has 3-5 companionships of missionaries. 
We probably have the most inexperienced but most excited district in the world right now.  We only have one person who has been out on his mission for more than 10 months.  Only three people have ever been transferred (meaning changing the area they are serving in).  Most of the missionaries have been out six months or less. 
For anyone who has served a mission, they know that that is not normal.  But, we're super excited. 
Update on Cristina and Bernardino:
They were in Wyoming nearly all this past week so we couldn't talk with them too much, but tonight we're meeting with them and they have already said they want to go to church on Sunday.  I'll let you know about them next week because there isn't too much to work with this week. 
Love you all,
-Elder Colton

Monday, October 15, 2012

Elder Colton Mission Pictures

"Is It Okay If You See Alcohol?"

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Greetings from Millcreek, Utah.
 So as promised, I'll continue talking about Cristina and Bernardino.  This past week, Christina began working full-time, so teaching them suddenly became a lot more difficult.  We went by last night though and had an interesting lesson. 
Christina immediately invited us in but then stopped us right away and asked something along the lines of: "Is it okay if you see alcohol?"  That made me laugh and we went in.
Another young couple was visiting them and the boyfriend was drinking, which typically leads to one thing: bad lessons because he's been drinking too much.  At first we didn't really want to teach a lesson so we offered to just leave a spiritual message and then head out.  But as we shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon, they began to ask questions about the Book of Mormon.  The boyfriend asked us "who wrote the Book of Mormon?" and then Bernardino asked us "who wrote the Bible?"  We explained that the people who lived here in the Americas had the Gospel of Jesus Christ thousands of years ago and that they wrote the Book of Mormon.  They asked a lot more questions about the importance of the Book of Mormon for our Church and we helped them understand that if the Book of Mormon is true, then it means that this is the Church of Jesus Christ just like we believe.  We invited them to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true.  Later this week we're going back and we will see what happens. 
I know the Book of Mormon is true.  It's something that has been confirmed to me over and over again here on my mission.  I love this work and I love the opportunity to be a disciple of Christ.
-Love you all,
Elder Colton

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eternal Families

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
I love all of you who read these letters.  But this week Brother and Sister Moody, and Sister Moody's dad are the ones that I love the most.  (Except of course my little cousin Annie, she is and always will be the favorite).  On Wednesday morning I had a pleasant and very unexpected surprise: six very good seats for the Saturday morning session of General Conference.  And the results of those six tickets: the husband of a long time member of the Church overcame much of his concern about whether or not the Apostles and Prophet of these days truly are called of God.  And Trevor, some who the english missionaries are teaching, decided he wants to be baptized on November 3rd.  I would consider that very successful.  Thank you Moodys very much.
I realize that for the last few weeks I've talked about a different family each week which doesn't make for very intesting reading.  So what I'm going to try and do is stick with one family for the next few weeks (assuming I stay in this area at transfers next week). 
A few weeks ago, we met a young couple walking outside their apartment: Kristina and Beranrdino (Berna) along with their 2 year old daughter, Naomi.  We only talked for a few moments about the importance of the family within the Gospel and the Church and they invited us to come to their home.  We tried for a few weeks but they were never both home together.  But Sunday night we finally caught both at home. 
They wanted to learn more about how our message can strengthen families and why members of the Church typically have strong families.  We began to explain that one of the main reasons is because through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (mormons), families don't begin when we're born and don't end when we die.  We told them that we lived with Heavenly Father (God) before being born and that after we die we can have the same chance.  Aka...there isn't the "until death do you part" in the marriages.  Thus, if our families are going to be together forever (think about how long forever means) then we need to learn to support and love each other now.  We also explained what exactly happens after we die (where we go and what opportunities we'll have). 
Both Bernardino and Kristina had many questions as we taught that we helped answer:
1. Where is my Grandpa who died three years ago?
2. Where was I before I was born?
3. Why am I here on earth (other than to work and help my family)?
It was a wonderful experience with them.  We went by last night and helped clear up more questions they had.  This Friday we are going back and teaching them at a local member's home.
I'll let you know how all of that goes next week.
Love you all,
-Elder Colton

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yet Another Miracle

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Greetings from Mill Creek, Utah.
Well last week I wrote about Carina and Luis and was super excited about them.  But, we haven't been able to meet with them for a week so we don't know where that is going.  But fear not, because we had an amazing experience this week that shows just how well God knows each one of us.
A few weeks ago, our Bishop (head of our congregation) sent us to a family who are all members of our ward (congregation).  He told us to talk with them about people who we should visit.  The father of the family told us that he met two young boys outside his apartment the day before who were trying to sell smalls gadgets and stuff for money because their family on absolutely none.  We went by the house but no one was home.  We tried a few more times and eventually met the Grandfather of the family, Hector Trono.  We found out he and his family (daughter and three grandchildren) had just moved from Mexico to Utah.  He and his daughter were less active members of the Church who both needed the Gospel and healing power of Christ again.  His daughter, Isis, has a month year old baby girl.  Her other boys, Alfredo and Issac, are full of energy and loved church on Sunday.  Alfredo is 8 so we are helping him prepare to be baptized in the coming weeks. 
But the miracle didn't stop there:
We also met another daughter of Hector's last weekend.  She is also a less active member and she has three children.  As I was talking with her 10 year old son, he mentioned to me that he used to live in Georiga but didn't know where.  So I asked his mom what part of Georgia they were from.  She asked if I knew where Duluth was.  (I am from Duluth).  Then I asked her where in Duluth and she asked if I knew where State Bridge Road is.  (I live 45 seconds from State Bridge Road).  Then she asked if I knew where the Publix was.  (I live right behind the Publix).  She lived in the apartment complexes right next to my neighborhood.  Her daughter and son went to Medlock Bridge Elementary School, which is the same one that I went to. 
Tonight we are having a Family Home Evening (a weekly family night that most members of our Church do) with them.
There are three things that I have learned over and over again as a missionary:
1. Coincidences are Heavenly Father's way of staying annonymous.
2. Jesus Christ really can heal us from anything.
3. Heavenly Father really does have a perfect plan for us.
Maybe someone reading this is a mathmatician and can find out the odds of me finding the Trono Family, but I have a feeling that it's on the level of math that only Anna Qui can do (one of my best friends from high school). 
I know that Heavenly Father loves each one of us and is setting up a plan for each of us to return to him through His restored Gospel.
Love you all,
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Starting from Scratch

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Well first things first: On both Monday and Tuesday morning, the UPS
man dropped off boxes at our house, which is very unusual for us.  The
one on Monday was from the Hughes Family and filled with a box of
delicious barbaque potato chips which we've already eaten nearly half
of.  The one on Tuesday was an overnighted package from my Grammie and
filled with a box of homemade chocolate chip cookies (which nearly all
made it without being crushed or broke).  Maybe I'll do this mission
thing for a few more years so that I can keep getting goodies like
that :)  Thanks a bunch.

Things have been interesting for the past few weeks for us here.  We
came into an area where the previous missionaries weren't teaching
anyone so we are starting from scratch, and that has been hard.  But
we finally have a family of four that we are teaching.  Carina was
someone we met on in the first week here.  She and her husband Luis
have been together since they were 14 years old and they know have two
little boys, Pablo, who is 8, and Brian, who is 6ish.  In the first
lesson, Carina told us she wants to be baptized because she knows that
the Church is something that will help her family and she feels
peaceful when she talks or thinks about it.  But she also said she
doesn't want to be baptized unless her husband wants to do it also.
So for a few weeks we tried to meet him but he was always either
working or already asleep (he works a lot).  But on Sunday, we finally
met him and he was super excited to talk with us.  Tonight we are
going back and we are going to talk with him about Heavenly Father's
plan for each of us (ask Kevin or write me if you have any questions
about that).

Please pray for Luis and Carina that they will be able to be baptized
and start the path towards having an eternal family.

-Elder Colton

ps. Calling all former missionaries, members of the LDS church, and
anyone else with ideas: We are trying to improve how we work with
members and more specifically how we can help members learn how to
share the Gospel with their families.  Please send us ideas and
suggestions on what missionaries can do to help you feel more
comfortable sharing the Gospel.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Area. New Challenges.

Hola mi famila y mis amigos,

Well here I am in Mill Creek, Utah now.  My new area is much more diverse than Rose Park.  Most of the people are not white or hispanic.  Most are Nepali, African, Iranian, or any one of another hundred countries or so.  It makes finding hispanic people to teach a little more challenging, but we're enjoying meeting all sorts of new people.

One of the best parts of this new area is the bishop (what we call a pastor) of our ward (congregation).  He's 62 and is going through chemotherapy right now because of cancer.  Typically a time of life when people sit back and take it easy.  But not him.  He has the energy and excitement of someone half his age.  He told the last missionaries that he would probably be dead were it not for his position as bishop, so he does all he can to keep Heavenly Father happy with the work he's doing.

Please pray that this week we can find people who want to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized.  We have nearly no people we're teaching right now, so prayers would be wonderful.

Love you all,
-Elder Colton

ps. Sorry if you sent a letter recently (within two months) and I haven't responded.  Love you all.

pps. One of the advantages to serving here in Salt Lake City is that we have the opportunity to watch General Conference (a bi-annual televised broadcast of the Prophet and Apostles and other leaders of the church) live with people we're teaching instead of on tv.  But, to do that, we need tickets.  So, please talk with your bishops and anyone else you know about getting tickets and then sending them to your favorite missionary in Salt Lake City (or if you know any other missionaries, then send them to me anyways).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Farewell Rose Park

Hola mis amigos y mi familia,
Today has been crazy to say the least and I only have 10 minutes of email time today. 
Quick summary:
I've left Rose Park and I'm now serving in Millcreek.
My new companion is Elder Thevenin from Houston, Texas.  He's been out for a total of 5 days.
I love it here and I'm doing wonderful.
My new address is 3632 S 300 E, South Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Thanks to each of you who have sent me ideas of what it is you remember and see in the best missionaries you know.
Love you all,
Elder Colton

Monday, September 3, 2012

"Despite the fact that Johnny looks terrible unhappy, I promise he really is happy. A large majority of the hispanic population simply do not enjoy smiling in photos. It is one of the great myteries of the world. If anyone has any enlightment on the subject let me know."
-Elder Colton

The Story of Maribel

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Well on Wednesday we have our next set of transfers (when our mission president tells us if we will be changing to a new area of Salt Lake City), so for the first time in my mission I might be moving out of Rose Park. Don't write any letters this week because I'll probably be changing addresses on Wednesday.

 Highlight of the week: the baptism of Maribel.

 I can't remember how much I've written about Maribel, so I'm just simply go to give an overview of how her entire life has been preparing her for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Maribel grew up in a Catholic household, similar to probably 90% of the Catholic people that we teach. As a little girl, she developed a great love for the Bible and has studied from it her entire life. During her studies as a teenager, she read the Ten Commandments as found in Exodus 20. When she read the second commandment (verse 4 and 5), she became very confused with the Catholic Church and the worship of Saints and the Virgin Mary. So between that and other parts of the Catholic Church, Maribel decided she didn't believe it was true and left it at that.

 Once she moved her to Utah, she learned quickly that "when in Rome, do as the Romans" and began to hide whenever missionaries knocked on the door. (Sorry to break it to you, but as missionaries we knock on doors all day, everyday. We know without a doubt when someone is home and just not answering and when no-one is home).

 Not long after moving to Utah, she met her husband Johnny and the two of them have been together for 8 years now.

 Four months ago, my companion (Elder Moczygemba) and I went to the house of a women who asked us to visit her. She wasn't home at the time so we decided to knock on the next door neighbor's house as well. A man in his 20s (Johnny) invited us in and after a few minutes of talking, said he wanted to introduce us to his wife.

 Maribel came out of hiding in the kitchen and we began to talk with her. We shared to story of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith and invited them to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. She said she wanted to pray about it (which is exactly what we were going to invite her to do anyways) and we set up a return appointment and then left. And for the next two weeks...we couldn't contact them...so we stopped trying.

 A month later when Elder Camacho and I were riding out bikes one afternoon, we decided to stop by and see if she was home. She was.

 She immediately apologized for not answering the door before and said she was scared of us (who knew that a skinny white guy with a part in his hair was scary). We set up an appointment for the next day and when we came bike, she had a Bible open and was ready to talk with us.

 We shared with her the Plan of Salvation (for any questions on that...ask my brother Kevin or send me a letter) and she felt the Spirit testify that what we taught was true (because it is). She told us she wanted to be baptized and then set the 2nd of September as her baptismal date.

 Maribel told us multiple times that this Gospel is what she has been searching for her entire life. She has never been happier and now is working with her husband to help him learn of the same truths. She wants more than anything to have an eternal marriage in a Temple of the Lord (none of the "til death do you part" stuff) and begin a family here in this Church.

 The Lord prepares people from the moment they are born (actually...even from before that).

 -Elder Colton

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hermano Colton's Mission Pictures

Hermano Colton's Current House

Hermano Colton with Elder Camacho (left), Ismael, and David Castaneda

Hermano Colton with companion, Maribel (in red), and Maribel's family

"I don't know...CAN you?"

Hola mi familia y mis amigos

One of the things we do a lot as missionaries is pray.  Hopefully that doesn't come as a surprise to anyone.  And as I've been praying a lot more now than in any other point of my life, what I say in my prayers has also become much more important to me.  A couple in one of the english wards (congregations) in our area pointed something interesting out to me (hopefully I haven't already mentioned this in a past letter).  He's an english teacher (or was before he decided to become a professional map maker/artist) and his wife is a lawyer (and a professional map maker/artist), so language is very important to them.  They talked about the word "can," or in other words, "to be able to". 

Typically many of us include in our prayers something along the lines of this: "Please bless me so that I CAN do well on my test tomorrow," or "Please bless my children so that they CAN stay safe."  Heavenly Father, or God, answers our prayers if we pray to Him in the name of Jesus Christ.  (If you doubt that then write me a letter and I will write you a jolly letter in return telling you to open your eyes and actually look for the answers.)  So when we pray that we CAN do something, we are basically asking Heavenly Father to grant a blessing that he has already given. 

For example, when I was little and still enjoyed annoying my younger brother Kevin (because we all know I've completely grown out of that by now) he would ask something along the lines of "can I use your lacrosse stick?"  A very reasonable request.  I would respond with complete sincerity and without a lick of sarcasm: "I don't know...CAN you?" or "Of course you CAN use it...but I'm not going to let you."

Heavenly Father is ready to grant us a lot of blessings.  He's basically the perfect Dad who just wants to help us out. But if we don't ask him the right way, then he can't infringe on our agency (which is the right to choose or act for ourselves).  He knows, just like every parent, that if he can't force Himself on us.  All we have to do is ask for something and then in the best time for it, he will give it to us.  But before he can give it to us, we have to ask for it. 

So for the past few months, I've been working on changing my prayers from "Please bless us so that we CAN find someone who wants to be baptized" to "Please give us someone this week who will be baptized next month."  It works a lot better.  Give it a try.

This Sunday, an incredible woman named Maribel is going to be baptized.  One of the pictures that my brother hopefully will upload is of her and her soon to be husband (despite the fact that they aren't smiling, I promise they are happy.  They just don't like pictures very much).  On Saturday, they are going to get married and this past week we went to the marriage office with them to help them get their marriage license.  Please pray for her that this Saturday, she WILL be married and then on Sunday that she WILL be baptized.

Love you all,
-Elder Colton

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coincidences Don't Happen

Hola mi famila y mis amigos,

First things first: Ismael was baptized on Wednesday.  Working with him has been an amazing experience and his baptism topped it all off.  David Castaneda, a member of our congregation who leaves for his mission to Puerto Rico soon, did the baptism and Ismael came up out of the water with a huge smile on his face, which is odd for him because he's a typical sixteen year old who tries to hide emotion (of course I never did that when I was his age).  All of the youth came to the baptism so Ismael had a ton of support.  On Sunday, he was confirmed and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost (if you have questions about that, go to http://mormon.org/commandments

Last night, Elder Camacho and I met a new family.  Actually, it's the fifth time I've met them, but it's the first time they've invited us in and it was powerful.  Five months ago during my first few weeks, Elder Torres and I knocked on a door and a man and women, each in their early 20s, answered the door.  We talked with them for a few minutes, found out their names were Elizebeth and Javier, and they invited us back the next day.  When we returned at the time of the appointment, no one was home (very normal for us).  We tried coming back for the next few days but no one was ever home so we stopped trying.  A few weeks later with Elder Moczygemba, someone in the parking lot told us to visit them, so we stopped by.  Elizebeth answered, we talked with her, set up an appointment, came back, and no one was home.  Very fun.  Once Elder Camacho and I became companions, the same thing happened a third time when the English missionaries for our area met them and told us to go by.  We met Elizebeth outside, talked with her and their two year old daughter, Asdrid, but when we came back, no one was home. At this point, we had probably been to their home 20ish times (talk about annoying missionaries) and we gave up on them.  But...thankfully Heavenly Father realizes how hard-headed missionaries can be and gave us another chance with them.

Last Sunday, a member of our ward told us that someone she works with needs help and that she wanted the missionaries to stop by and meet with him.  She gave us his name and address and off we went.  When we got nearby, we met Javier outside his apartment and suddenly it dawned on us that the member had sent us to him.  We set up an appointment for the next day but when we went, he wasn't home.  Yay.  But, we decided that there had to be something important with this family if we had been sent to them four different times.

Last night, a couple from an English ward, the Tracy's, came out with us to teach a family who we met last week.  The family wasn't home, but rather than shrugging their shoulders and giving us the typical "call us whenever you need help and thanks for wasting our time" that we get a lot, they asked if there was anyone else we could visit.  We tried to go to another family that lives near Javier and Elizebeth but that family wasn't home either.  So in desperation, we stopped by Javier and Elizebeth. 

They immediately opened the door an let us in.  Within five minutes we were actively talking about the Book of Mormon.  Sister Tracy, who was baptized only five years ago, bore a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and then we read with them from 3 Nephi 11, which describes when Jesus Christ came here to the Americas.  We could all feel the Spirit very strongly and Javier and Elizebeth have a huge desire to learn more. 

Basically, all four of these paragraphs describe one thing: coincidences don't happen.  Every little thing had to happen just right for that lesson last night to go well.  If just one thing had happened differently, nothing would have happened.  I repeat what I said a few months ago: Coincidences are God's way of staying anonymous. 

-Elder Colton

Monday, August 13, 2012

A New Path for Ishmael

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Greetings once again from Rose Park.  My Bishop (leader of our congregation) and I were joking around this week that I've been here nearly as long as he has.
Thanks for everyone who sent me Family Home Evening ideas.  My sister, Meredith, sent in my personal favorite of teaching little kids the "Once there was a Snowman" and "Popcorn Popping" songs and then either making a snowman with them or making popcorn treats.  A friend of mine from BYU, Melanie Cox, comes in second with the BOP game.  And sorry Dad, even if you sent 110ish ideas, you still come in third :)
Well, this Wednesday Ishamel is going to be baptized at 8:00 (we're replacing our normal youth night with his baptism).  Last Thursday we went by his house and the first thing we asked was if he had chosen a baptismal date.  He told us he had prayed a few times about it and that he kept thinking about this Wednesday as the day Heavenly Father wants him to be baptized into His Church.  Even if Wednesday is not a normal baptismal date, as missionaries we aren't exactly the type of people who argue with ideas from Heavenly Father.  So, this Wednesday it is. 
When he told us what day he wanted to be baptized, his mom wasn't in the room yet, so only the four of us knew (Elder Camacho, Ishamel, David Castaneda, and me).  We always start and end our lessons with a prayer, so I offered the opening prayer.  (At that point, Lilia, Ishmael's mom, was in the room).  In the prayer, I thanked Heavenly Father for giving Ishmael an answer about what day he should be baptized and then asked Him to help Ishmael prepare for this Wednesday.  When we opened our eyes, Lilia looked like she was about to pass out from shock.  It was fun.
Love you all.
Please pray for Ishmael this week that he can continue to prepare for his baptism on Wednesday, August 15th,  that he can be protected from outside influences that want to convince him to go back to his past life, and that he can feel the Holy Ghost testify to him that this is the right path for him.
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pictures of Elder Colton in the Early Months of his Mission

 Elder Colton at the Missionary Training Center
with a part in his hair

 In front of the Provo Temple

 District 16 at the MTC

Elder Colton and his companion with a family
ready to be baptized

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ishmael Returning Home

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Thank you to everyone who sent me ideas for Family Home Evening ideas. 
On a random note, I apologize to people who have sent letters in the past month and haven't gotten a response yet.  Our preparation days (each Monday), which are the only days when we have time to write letters, have been a little crazy for the past few weeks.  So don't hate me (Matthew 7:1). Love you all :)
Lilia, Eduardo, and Ishamel were all baptized this past weekend and it was incredible.  Each one of them has a testimony of Christ and the smiles on their face show that better than anything else.
The downside of the week, which later became an upside, was with the fourth member of the family who had planned on being baptized: Ishmael.  He's sixteen years old and for most of his life, hasn't had a dad and has served as the "man of the house" or whatever you want to call it.  This past week, everything got a little too much for him and he ran away from home for a few days.  After the baptism on Saturday evening, Elder Camacho, my companion, plus all of Lilia's family, most of our ward, and many other people prayed for Ishmael.  And because God answers prays, Ishmael showed up at his house on Sunday morning and wanted to go to church.  Tonight, we're going to visit him at home and see what he wants to do.  But it strengthened my testimony that God truly does answer our prayers. 
-Elder Colton

Monday, July 30, 2012

No More Coffee for Lilia

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Well greetings from Rose Park for the fourth transfer in a row (a transfer is 6 weeks).  I still get to stay in my first area for another transfer.  It's been fun because most of the members remember very well when I first got here and couldn't speak a word of spanish to them.
Exciting week ahead of us.  This coming Saturday, Lilia and three of her children will be baptized.  We had an amazing experience with them this past week as we taught them the Word of Wisdom. 
Brief Summary: Very simple, the Word of Wisdom is the thing that everyone knows about Mormons even though they don't know they know it.  How many of you know that Mormons don't drink or smoke?  Probably most of you.  The Word of Wisdom is commandment that God has given us to protect our bodies and keep them healthy just like God wants.  It involves two parts: keep your body healthy through diet and exercise, and not doing things that will mess your body up.  The first half is rather self explanatory.  The second half involves five things that God doesn't want us to put in our body or use: tobacco, coffee, alcohol, tea, and drugs.  Back to Lilia...
As we started to talk about the Word of Wisdom, Lilia looked at Eduardo and started to chuckle.  They then explained that Eduardo had told Lilia that if she wanted to be baptized, she couldn't drink coffee anymore.  So they had a family council about it before we ever talked about it and made the easy decision that the benefits far outweigh the costs.  Bascially, before we even taught the Word of Wisdom, they had already decided to follow it.  A lot of people we teach (and probably a lot people reading this, both those who are members of the LDS church and those who aren't) probably don't understand parts of the Word of Wisdom, especially the tea and coffee part.  This is the best explanation I've heard about it: because God says so.  If you want to ask him why, go for it.  He answers our prayers so if we ask him about it, he'll let us know in our heart that he doesn't want us to use those things.  As Kevin (my younger brother) and I grew up, we always lived the Word of Wisdom.  And to be quite honest, it showed when it came to the sports field.  I won't try to deny that fact that I was good (before my weight gained on my mission) and he still is good.  I remember very well during lacrosse practice that he and I would almost always be near the front of our mile run before practice.  Although most of the guys on our team would say that's because "we cared more" or "worked out more in the off-season", I have no doubt that a huge part of it was because God blessed us with health because we lived the Word of Wisom.  Even if you're not a member of our church, try living the Word of Wisdom.  What's the harm in trying?  You'll notice a difference in your life. 
So as Lilia, Ishmael, Eduardo, and Miranda prepare for their baptism this week, please keep them in your prayers. Pray that they will be protected from bad influences that will try to convince them that they shouldn't follow Christ.  Please pray that Alex (the crazy two year old) won't jump in the baptismal font :) And please pray that Lilia's oldest daughter will have her heart softened.
Love you all,
-Elder Colton
ps. I have a plee to go out to all of the world (or at least the one's who read my letters).  Nearly every Monday we hold Family Home Evenings with both members of our ward (congregation) and investigators.  (A Family Home Evening is a hour each week when familes spend time playing a game, having a spiritual thought/lesson, and having a good time as a family).  Please, please, please send ideas for games for Family Home Evenings.  Basically any game that doesn't involve a lot materials (unless we can make the materials ourselves) are perfect.  Send them either to my mom in an email or to my address in a letter.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Power of Revelation

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Greetings from Rose Park.  This Wednesday we have transfers so on Tuesday morning I'll find out if I'll be staying in my area or heading out to a new area for the first time on my mission.

This past week, we had an amazing experience with Lilia and her family again.  On Monday, we went to their new house for the first time and were able to sit down for a lesson with them.  The focus of the lesson was the Book of Mormon and how we can receive revelation from it.  For our purposes here, revelation means individualized knowledge or counsel from God to guide our lives. 

We started off by choosing a question to which the family as a whole needed an answer.  Together, they came up with: "Why so many changes over the past five years."  They then explained that five years ago, they lived in a nice home with a good paying job and nearly everything they wanted.  Now, they have no job and live in a single room together (all five of them).  Eduardo, the 14 year old, then prayed and in the prayed specifically asked Heavenly Father, "Why so many changes in our lives?" 

Then we asked Miranda, who is 8 years old, to open the Book of Mormon to page.  She flipped through for a few seconds before stopping at Alma, Chapter 32.  Then I asked her to choose a verse between 1 and 43.  She chose 11.  So together, we started to read from verse 11 and stopped at verse 13.  During a ten minute discussion of those verses, Lilia and her family each learned in both their mind and in their hearts why it was that God has allowed their lives to change so much.  Ishmael, who is 16, explained that he understood perfectly that he just needed to have more faith in Christ and accept that this is what the Lord wants for him. 

The scriptures, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, can bring us personal revelation for our lives.  My decision to go to BYU before my mission came from the scriptures.  God will literally speak to us through the scriptures if we make the effort to listen.  I know that to be true. 

Please continue to prayer for Lilia, Ishmael, Eduardo, Miranda, and Alex.  Please specifically pray that they can continue to strengthen their testimony in the Book of Mormon as the word of God. 

Love you all,
Elder Colton

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Lilia and Her Amazing Family"

Hola mis amigos y mi familia,
HEEEELLLLLOOOO from Rose Park.  We had a great this week, mostly due to Lilia and her amazing family.  They are planning to be baptized all together on the fourth of August.  Lilia is amazing.  She's a single mom of five kids but manages to make it look easy.  I actually just talked to her about thirty seconds ago because she happened to be at the library today and she just has a huge smile on her face every single time I see her.  And this week it's especially amazing that she has the smile on her face because they had to move this past weekend because they nearly completely ran out of money.  They're now renting a single room where Lilia and four of the kids will live together.  But, they're doing it with a smile on their faces.  A month ago, Lilia seemed like she was almost out of steam.  But now, her live has become invigorated anew.  Please include each of them in your prayers (Lilia, Ishmael, Eduardo, Miranda, and Alex). 
And another funny story about them.  Alex is 2 years old and he is the craziest kid I have every met in my intire life.  The first time we met him, he nearly killed us.  But, this past week when we knocked on the door, he ran up to both of us and gave us huge hugs.  I nearly cried I was so happy.
I love you all and wish the best for each of you.
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Magic of the Atonement

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Well, Natalie, one of my counsins, definitely wins the prize on the weirdest letters that I've recieved.  For starters, somewhere between Idaho and Utah, the letter got soaked in water so the envelope was destroyed and I could hardly read who it was from.  But thankfully Natalie has a good brain inside, so she decided to use some special paper that is designed to get wet, namely, a barf bag from the airplane, plus a napkin which I'll also assume came from the airplane.  Both were completely legible.  Thank goodness that Delta makes some solid barf bags.
One of the most important things that I've been thinking a lot about lately is the Atonement of Christ.  That probably doesn't sound like an exciting thing to most people.  But, continue reading.  In a nut shell, the Atonement of Christ is the suffering that Christ went through in the Garden of Gethsemene and on the Cross, and then His subsequent resurrection.  It's this Atonement that allows us to return to live with Heavenly Father and allows Christ to help us now.  Here's scripture that describes the Atonement:
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:11-12, which is in the Book of Mormon)
The word "succor" isn't exaclty a common english word.  "To succor" basically means "to run to and help" (copy right Elder Colton).  So, when a teenage girl yells at her mom, "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE," the girl is probably right.  The mom probably has no idea what her daughter feels.  But, Christ does.  Because He has felt every bad thing we have ever felt.  It's beyond my ability to even begin to imagine what he went through.  My own life has had its troubles and difficulties, but multiple that by billions and my mind can't get anywhere near it.  And He did that because He loves us more than we can imagine as well.  He wants us to be happy both now and forever. 
And for those of you who still wonder why missionaries decide to leave our comfortable lives and move somewhere new for two years and get doors slammed in our face, it's because of that little (big) snippip of knowledge right there: that Christ loves us and he wants everyone to know that.  We don't enjoy riding a bike in 100 degree heat, but if we can help someone understand Christ loves them, then it's worth it.  I apologize for those of you back home in Georgia who I never really shared any of this with.  It's one of my biggest regrets and probably always will be.  But, what's past is past.  Hopefully I can make up for that once I get home.  For now, I stick with trying to share with people here in Utah.
Love you all,
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Ups and Downs of a Mission

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
So first off, I have to mention that my older brother just helped me out a bunch.  For the last year or so, our church has been producing videos of the bible accounts of the life of Christ.  All of the videos are accesible from the internet.  But our problem arised from there: none of the people we teach have access to internet in their homes.  So, I asked Jared to put all the videos on a dvd.  This past week he sent all of the videos on a dvd for us to use and it's worked great.  Especially two of the videos: Christ's baptism and Mary, the Mother of Christ.  So, thanks Jared.
As of yesterday, our mission officially split into two halves.  I'll be staying in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission.  On the Fourth of July we're having a mission wide celebration where we'll be able to see all of the people staying in our mission.
These past two weeks have been some of the hardest of my entire life.  We've struggled finding people to teach.  We've gone through six bikes in three weeks.  We've had knee problems.  We've had back problems.  Everyone who we're teaching ends up having something crazy that holds them back from baptism (tuberculosis, divorces, crazy relatives, babies being born).  Nothing at all seemed to go right.  But, we had one bright spot this past week.
About two months ago, Elder Moczygemba and I met a single mother who has five kids (ages 2-17).  She's struggled with money problems and trying to raise her kids.  We met with her a few times but all of the appointments started falling through with her and we stopped going by.  On Saturday morning, the Holy Ghost told us that we should go by her house again that afternoon.  So we did.  And she warmly received us and said she wanted to go to church the next day with us.  So she and her five kids all came to church with us the next day.  The mom found many new friends who are all eager to support her and she smiled and relaxed for the first time in months.  The kids all knew people from school already so they loved it as well.  Tonight, we're holding a family home evening (a weekly activity as a family that we do in the Church) with them.  They still have a lot of money problems and may be forced to move out soon.  Please include in your prayers Lilia and her family so that they can find help financially but more importantly that they can feel peace and comfort in their lives.
-Elder Colton

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thank You

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
I don't think I explained the transfers too well last week.  I'm staying in the same area that I've been in for the last few transfers and I'll also be staying in the Salt Lake City Mission.  Next week, our mission will split into two parts: Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City West.  We're going to lose 76 missionaries from our mission but we'll also be gaining about 50 missionaries from the Ogden Mission, which is just north of us.
So my time this week is rather limited, but know that I love you all and appreciate the letters and prayers.  And if you send a letter and I don't respond, it means one of two things.  I completely forgot, or it's in a small pile of letters to respond to.  Our preparation day can get rather hectic so sometimes I accidently put a letter I haven't responded to in the pile with letters I have.
Love you all,
-Elder Colton

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rose Park Round Two

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
Greetings from Rose Park, Utah once again.  We had transfers this past week, but to my surprise, I'll be staying in the same area for at least another transfer here.   My last companion, Elder Mocyzgemba has changed areas and he is now in Toelle County, Utah.  My new companion is Elder Camacho from Arlington, Texas, although he has only lived there for two years.  Before that he lived in Mexico for his whole life, so his english is fairly limited.  This is his first area and also his first week as a missionary, so we've had a fun time considering between the two of us we have a combined 14 weeks of being missionaries.  But, we're having a great time and working hard.
So I don't know how much most of the world knows about "fasting."  Fasting is a way we can ask for special blessings from Heavenly Father.  It means we go for 24 hours and two meals without eating or drinking.  We begin a fast with a prayer to God asking for a specific blessing, such as the health of a person, help finding a job, or anything righteous desire you have that you feel the Lord wants you to have as well.  It has to be both realistic, meaning we can't fast for the entire world population to have food, and in line with God's will, meaning you can't fast for something that God doesn't want.
Yesterday, Elder Camacho and I fasted for spiritual guidance in finding people who need the Gospel of Jesus Christ right now (when I say Gospel of Jesus Christ, I mean the teachings of Jesus, both from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and modern day prophets and apostles).  We began out fast on Saturday night and ended it on Sunday night.  During the time, we found three different families or individuals that all want to make changes in their lives.  Despite not eating, we had more energy and excitement than any other day so far.  When we ended our fast, we felt the Holy Ghost very strongly, which helped us feel completely at peace.  Fasting truly is a way we can be more intune with God through the Holy Ghost.
-Elder Colton

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Farewell Rose Park

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
Well hello from Rose Park for what I think will be the last time.  On Wednesday we will be having transfers so I think I'll probably be leaving here.  
This week, a lot of stories and experiences come to mind as I'm writing my email.  Examples: a marriage followed by a baptism the next day for Eugenia, a baptism for Candido (his wife was baptized 14 years ago and has been looking forward to his baptism since that day), and helping a girl who was sexually abused as a kid meet with our ward's bishop so she can begin sorting out her life (similar to a pastor or preacher except that he's not paid). 
But all I want to share this week is my general feelings about my mission so far.  Describing exactly how I feel isn't possible.  It's been hard.  Trying to communicate with people when they speak another language is hard.  Trying to learn how to teach something that will change people's life is hard.  Spending literally 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for a minimum of 6 weeks with another person who you've never met before is hard.  Having people continually tell you to go away when you have no desire except to help them is hard.  Leaving your family is hard.  But, it's worth it.  In spanish we say "vale la pena."  In five months, people's lives have been changed in ways that neither I nor they fully understand.  In five months, I've learned that there is so much more good in this world than bad.  Watching a family go from misery to happiness in a matter of days or weeks doesn't have a price.  Feeling the Spirit of God lead to you particular verse in the scriptures that then answers perfectly a question that someone asks later that day is just special.  People trusting a bunch of nineteen year olds to lead them to a better life shouldn't happen logically.  Yet it does.  It does because this isn't the work of men.  It's the work of God.  I know that to be true.
I thought I would give an update on the magic tricks.  For anyone planning on serving a mission, learn magic tricks.  Kids love them.  As of right now, the kids' favorites are: making a pen disappear (behind my ear), making a tie disappear in my fist (my dad's personal favorite), moving a ring up a cut rubber band, lifting up a pen in the flat of my palm (thanks Melanie), and a few others.  Thanks to everyone who sent tricks through emails (some of the names got cut off on the emails so I don't know exactly who sent me them).  But today, Grammie and Granddad took the prize.  They sent me a little magic kit.  My companion has already had his mind blown this morning with the first trick I learned.
Love you all,
-Elder Colton