Elder Colton

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

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Miracle for Luz

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
A little bit of administrative stuff first. If you plan on sending a package or letter anytime soon, wait. On Wednesday, June 13th, we're having our next transfers and our mission is also splitting into two different missions, so I may have a different mission address and then it would take awhile for mail to get to me. On my first P-day (Preparation Day, or the day we email) after transfers I'll include which mission I'll be staying in (either Utah Salt Lake City or Utah Salt Lake City West) and the address that packages and mail goes to.

Now that the boring stuff is out of the way...
I know someone who is famous. Kind of. I don't know her well, but it's still cool. On mormon.org, there is a video profile of Anita Sthalasayee (hopefully I spelled that correctly). It's one of the third box on the right of the little profile pictures of people on the home page. She used to be in my ward (congregation) in Georgia and her mom still lives there. Apparently she's living in New York now as a journalist. Cool.

So here is the story of the week:
I don't know if I've told all of you about Luz yet. Four months ago, Luz hated missionaries because her son in law was a member of our church and then left his wife, who is Luz's oldest daugther. (Every religion has it's bad people, I won't even make an attempt at denying that). But then something changed. About three months ago, she had a dream about my last companion, Elder Torres. After she woke up, she remembered his face very clearly in the dream. That in and of itself doesn't seem very crazy, until you include the idea that Elder Torres and Luz had never met before. Elder Torres had never been to her house, only been in the area for a brief time, and she works 12 hours a day, 7 days a week in a restaurant far from us. And then the next day he knocked on her door. The problem is that Luz works on Sundays so she can't go to church. She hasn't been able to find another job (she's 65 and can't move very quickly so there aren't a lot of options for her). So for three months, Luz hasn't been able to come to church despite the fact that she wants to go extremely badly. We went on a tour of the chapel with her on a weeknight and she felt a warmth in the chapel that made her want to come back. But...work. And then something changed again. She had surgery last week because she had a kidney stone. Her doctor told her she couldn't work and her boss found a replacement for two weeks. But (and as I write this I'm smiling) her doctor said nothing about church. So Luz decided that she would come to church. And she loved it. She wants to come back. She wants to be baptized. She wants to start this new life that she knows will help her. But, next Sunday she has to go back to work.

And once again, this is the point that I need your help with prayer. Just do it. Please pray that Heavenly Father will soften the heart of Luz's boss and allow her to talk Sunday morning's off. I know it will work. Prayer has that power.
I love all of you,

-Elder Colton

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Power of Prayer

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

So first things first, starting on June 13th, our mission will be changing our mail system.  Instead of sending mail to the mission office (which is the address that anyone who has sent mail has used), it will be sent directly to our apartments or houses where we live.  So, in the week before June 13th, it would probably be a good idea to just not send any mail and wait until I can send out the update of my new address.

And on the topic of mail, thank you Johns Creek Ward (aka...my church congregation back home in Georgia) for the package with all sorts of goodies and letters.  The candies are a nice treat for us and for the people we're teaching.  But mostly thanks for the letters.  It's always nice to know that people back home support us even they we can't communicate back too much. 

And on the topic of thanking people, thank you everyone who sent magic tricks.  We've already blown the minds of some of the little kids in the area.  They were all tired of my tie magic trick (sorry dad...it's only fun for them 15 or so times before they want something new) and now I have a half dozen tricks to show them. 

Today, we're going to start something new.  Each week, I'll explain a problem or experience that we had in the preceding week.  And then the important part...I'm going to ask for people to include help for those problems in their prayers.  If you don't like to pray, continue reading this and hopefully you'll understand why prayer is so important.

God is our Father in Heaven.  He loves us and wants nothing more than for us to be happy.  So picture your own dad (unless you had a bad dad who doesn't bring up good memories, then picture your grandpa or someone who served as a father-figure).  Now picture your dad or father figure having an absolute and complete knowledge of everything you've ever gone though.  A lot of dads think they know everything about us, but they don't (hopefully I'm not crushing the hopes of any Dad thinking he actually knows his teeenage daughters feelings).  He knows how you felt when your boyfriend broke up with you.  He knows how you felt when your dog died.  He knows how you felt when you lost you job.  Get the picture?  He knows you and knows how you feel.  Next, think about how happy your dad/father-figure is when you talk with him.  When you're happy and you give him a call, he feels happy for you and thus, you normally end up feeling happier than when you started off.  When you're sad or mad and you give him a call, he knows how to help you out.  And thankfully Heavenly Father is perfect, so we don't need to worry about Him making a situation worse.  And that is where prayer comes in.  When we pray, we show Heavenly Father that we love Him and want to talk with him.  We show him that we're remembering Him.  And like the perfect Father that He is, He will answer our prayers as long as we pray with a sincerity and work as hard as we can to accomplish the things we pray for. 

Story time: last night at 8:00, Elder Moczygemba and I met with a married couple.  They have two kids, a 19 year old daughter and an 18 year old son.  The daughter had a baby with her boyfriend when she was 17 (they're married now).  The son had a baby with his girlfriend last year.  Long story short, the mom and dad's worlds were rocked.  The couple needed help and needed to know that Heavenly Father is there for them.  In a forty-five minute conversation with them, their entire outlooks changed, not because of us, but because they felt God's love for them.  After we left, Elder Moczygemba and I said a prayer of gratitude.  Right afterwards, we felt like we should pray again and ask Heavenly Father to guide us to where ever there is another family in our area who needs help and is ready to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I said the prayer.  During the prayer, I felt like I should ask Heavenly Father to guide us to the family of four people that he wants us to speak with.  As missionaries, we are required to be home at 9:00 (with very, very few exceptions).  So we had one hour to find this family of four which we knew were waiting for us.  So we starting walking.  And we found them at 8:50.  A mom, dad, and two sons.  Tomorrow we're going to their home to meet them a little better and begin working with them.  That is the power of prayer.  Try it.  Try kneeling down in your room alone and praying aloud.  If you do it sincerely and specifically, like you're talking to your dad or father-figure, you'll know that God is listening to you.

And when you offer that prayer, also ask Heavenly Father to help this family.  Ask him to bless the Sanchez Family with the strength they need.  Ask Him to give us the guidance we need to help them.  Prayer is real.

-Elder Colton

MTC Teachers

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
So this week I have almost no time to write.  Hopefully I won't get any hate mail or howlers in response.  One thing I do want to do in the very short letter though is give a shout out to my MTC teachers again.  Pretty much all that you said would be hard has been hard.  All that you said would be easy has been easy.  And many of the ideas and feedback that you gave me during my months in the MTC have have me immensely here in Salt Lake City.  So thank you.
-Elder Colton