Elder Colton

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