Elder Colton

Elder Colton

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Hola mi familia y mis amigos
Well, an exciting point of my mission on Saturday.  Mario was baptized.  Interesting story about him: two months ago when Elder Torres first came to this area (before I was here) he met Mario on the street and started talking with him about religion.  Mario, different from 99.999999999% of the people we teach, wasn't Catholic and didn't believe much in God.  But he invited the missionaries to come to his house and teach him.  And then he invited them back.  And again.  And then decided he wanted to change his life.  He began to change his life in ways that his friends (one of whom was baptized into the Church about 6 years ago, and one of whom is going to be baptized in the coming weeks) said they couldn't have imagined.  Right after church on Sunday, he came straight up to me and said he wanted to pay his tithing right then and there and showed me the money he had to pay it (in our Church we follow the Law of the Tithe, see Malachi 3 or my little (younger) brother if you have questions).  It was powerful.  And right after he said it, his friend (the one baptized a few years ago) said he wanted to start paying tithing again also.  In a few weeks they will leave to Indiana where they will spend the next 4 months roofing there, but they will leave with a whole lot more than what they started with. 
Another interesting story about this past week, and this story involved Uncle Dave Colton, my dad's oldest brother.  More specifically, it involves how he helped two people without even fully realizing how much he was helping (most likely).  So Uncle Dave works for the Church in Europe as a lawyer (his official title is way to long and boring).  This past Winter (either January or February), he came to Utah for a conference with many of the important lawyers for the church (which probably sounds like one of the most boring meetings on earth for 99% of the people in the world to be totally honest Uncle Dave).  But, for Brother and Sister Tracy (see my younger brother if you have questions about why we call people Brother and Sister instead of Mr. and Mrs.), it was the opportunity of a life time.  Sister Tracy has a degree in international law and is now working on another law degree at BYU.  They plan on moving back to Asia after she gratuates to work as a laywer there.  And they also happen to be one of the most amazing couples I have ever met in my entire life.  I can't remember how or why, but she was invited to the dinner and both she and brother Tracy, who have lived all over the world together and plan on doing so again after she graduates, went to the dinner hoping to find out how to deal with corruption in other countries.  And poof, Uncle Dave ended up sitting at the table with them.  And Uncle Dave worked in Zimbabwe (back when he worked a a lawyer for a mining company) and dealt with corruption there.  And in their words, although not quoted exactly: "In an hour conversation with him, we basically learned a semester's class worth of how to deal with corruption.  He exuded such a quiet confidence about him and had such a desire to help us that we learned everything we could possible have hoped for an more."   They went on for a little more about him.  And when Brother and Sister Tracy say something like that, they mean it and their opinion carries quite a bit of weight from my point of view.  So, Uncle Dave, congratulations.  At least two people in this world look up to ya :)
Next week I will be sharing a story about not-coincidences (spelling?) that happen as missionaries.  This one kind of blows my mind away.  It involves people meeting the MTC and then leaving but still being connected by weird circumstances. 
Love all of you
-Elder Colton

Monday, April 9, 2012

Salt Lake City, Home to the Best People and Strangest Weather on Earth

Hola mi familia y mis amigos

Greetings from week three(ish) from Salt Lake City, home to the best
people and strangest weather on earth.  We woke up on Thursday morning
(I think it was Thursday) and there was an inch of snow on the ground.
 Other days this week it's been in the 70s.  It makes riding a bike
all day quite interesting.

Anyways, one of the most special experiences of my mission happened
this past week.  Elder Torres and I were heading to a teaching
appointment and kept running into problems: my bike pedal decided to
fall off a few times, Elder Torres' hair just wouldn't go into the
shape he likes, and Murphy's Law seemed destined to stop us from going
anywhere.  But, about three-fourths of the way there, a white pick up
truck playing some country music stopped us.  A man smoking a
cigarette called out to us and asked if we wanted to listen to a song
that changed his life.  So we listened to about half of it with him
(it talked about God's love for us) and then asked why it changed his
life.  He sang that last weekend he was driving around down town when
one of the sessions of General Conference ended and all 20+ thousand
people walked out of the Conference Center.  He said watching all of
their smiling faces (thankfully he didn't see any of the crazed
protesters) made him really happy and want to be as happy as them.
Then the song came on the radio and he decided he would change.  And
then the next day he saw us riding and felt like he should stop and
tell us his story.  And poof.  We met with him and talked with his
wife about how his life has been rough since he got out of the
military and started drinking (which is how he has spent much of his
last 30 years).  He's started changing his life in ways he said he
could never have imagined before.  It doesn't really make logical
sense that people trust a bunch of twenty-ish year old kids enough to
let them in their homes and tell them how their lives can be better,
yet they do.  Again and again they do.  Obviously there is sometime to

I hope all is well at home and abroad.  And by the way, I apologize if
I have forgotten your birthday or haven't responded to a letter or
something of the sort.  In all honesty, that is probably going to just
be how it is for the next two years.  I promise I love receiving
letters and I think I've responded to most of them, but if I haven't
please don't take offense.  I still love you and if I were home then
hopefully you would know that I would remember and celebrate and talk
with you, but for a while it just won't be that way.

And by the way, my friends at BYU will probably find this interesting.
 My mom just found out from one of my Great-Uncles that James Wirthlin
and I are related.  His great great grandfather is my great great
grandfather.  Small world.  I'm pretty sure this means that now James
automatically has to like me better than you, Austin.

Love you all,
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Missionary. And General Conference

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
Greetings from Salt Lake City for the second week.  And for those of you wondering what the heck we do each day here in Salt Lake, here is one of our average days.
6:30-7:00-Wake up and exericise time.  Normally for me it means jump rope, sit ups, and push ups (hopefully some of my future companions will like to run).  Oddly enough, we have about 8 dvds that we sometimes give people as missionaries, so while I exercise I watch church dvds (until I finish them all).
7:00-8:00-Shower, dress, and breakfast.  We have four people living together, so we have to stagger our showers and go relatively quickly so we have time.  Breakfast normally consists of toast and an egg or two.  But today I bought some oatmeal so now I can at least diversify a little bit. 
8:00-9:00-Personal study time.  Most of the time is spent ready from the Bible or Book of Mormon.  I also spend some of the time ready the book "Jesus the Christ," one of the four other books all missionaries can read.  
9:00-10:00-Companionship study time.  (Mormon Translation-a companion is the other missionary who we spend 24/7 with).  We spend most of this time talking about what we learned in personal study time and then planning out lessons for the day.  Right now we teach four or five lesson a day but that number is going to start moving up.  
10:00-11:00-More companionship study time. As a new missionary, they give me an extra hour to study where I practice teaching to my companion (he normally acts like one of the people we're teaching).
11:00-12:00-Language Study Time.  After my first 12 weeks, this time will become normal teaching time and my language study time with move to 10:00, but for now I use this time to read the scriptures in spanish and practice grammar.
12:00-Lunch time
After lunch-5:00-Teaching time.  We normally have 2 scheduled appointments during this time and spent most of the rest of the time finding people who are interested.  And one of the nice things about being a spanish missionary is that we typically find a lot more receptive people than the english ones do.
5:00-6:00-Dinner.  Dinner for us is almost always with a member of our church who invites a friend over.  Our mission rule is that we can't have dinner with a family unless there is someone who isn't a member of our church there also (so that we don't waste anytime).
6:00-9:30-More teaching time.  This is normally when we have the most lessons because it's when everyone is home.  Sometimes when we have too many lessons to teach, Elder Torres and I will split up and go with members of the local ward (church).  It's more than a little scary to not have another missionary with me when I can hardly speak, but it works.
9:30-10:00-Plan for the next day.
10:00-10:30-Change and head to bed.
So...long days.  But fantastic days. 
This past weekend was General Conference for our church, which is a world-wide broadcast in which the President Monson (the Prophet and President of our church), his two counselors, the 12 Apostles, and other leaders of the Church share messages in five different two-hour sessiosn.  One of the advantages to serving in the Salt Lake Mission, is that the broadcast comes out of Salt Lake (only 10 minutes from me) in the LDS conference center.  We were able to bring four of our investigators (our word for people we're teaching) with us to the Saturday Afternoon session.  Needless to say, conference is a special time for us.  And because this is my companion's last transfer (he leave in May) we had great seats in the conference center.  Almost all of the people we're teaching were able to watch some of the the conference.  My personal favorite talk was Elder Anderson in the last session. 
And one of the highlights of the weekend besides General Conference: seeing people I know.  BYU is only an hour away from Salt Lake so during conference I saw about a dozen of my friends who drove down for the sessions.  Jared (my brother) and I accidently ran into each other yesterday and I nearly tackled him.  We were able to talk for a little bit before I had to leave.  And I love everyone else that I saw, but seeing Chloe and having her tell me she is getting baptized this Saturday was one of the highlights of my mission so far (it's the only time so far that I've been frustrated not being allowed to hug any women or girls).  Anyone who is at BYU should most definitely being going to her baptism on Saturday because there isn't much on this earth better to do that day.
Love you all,
-Elder Colton