Elder Colton

Elder Colton

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Incredible Hermana Camacho

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Shout out to my cousin Thomas who is going on his mission to some place in Russia (the name is way too hard to spell).  Not quite the "cool factor" that places like Salt Lake City Utah have but o' well, I guess Russia has its perks too.

Please send any General Conference tickets you can.  You'll be my favorite person for a few minutes if you send them :)

So last week I told you a little about  family but not too much.  Today I shall change that.  Maria Camacho is one of my favorite people in the world.  She was baptized into our church four years ago and is from Mexico (like everyone I teach).  She is the mom of 3 kids: a 22 year old who I don't know who is married with 2 kids, Adrian who is 19 and was baptized 2 years ago but only goes every once in a while, and Katia who is 17 and went to church for awhile but hasn't decided to be baptized yet.  Hermana Camacho's husband has never been interested in the church in the slightest bit. 

Hermana Camacho is one of the most incredible people in the entire world.  I don't know everything about her and it is impossible for me to explain her situation, but I'm going to attempt at doing it from both my and her point of view.  It will be long, but it will touch your heart and be worth it.  

First I'll start with her's:

Four years ago when she decided to join the Church it was because she was going through a rough time with her family and felt peace and joy whenever she met with the missionaries, went to church, read the Book of Mormon, and prayed (aka...the Holy Ghost helped her feel peace and showed her this was the path God wanted for her).  None of her family supported her when she made the decision, but she knew it was right and stuck with it.  For years she went to church each week by herself.  At first her family didn't show any interest, but little by little they began to open up.  (This is all from bits and pieces that I've picked up from her and from other members of our congregation).  With time, they began to have weekly family nights (which we call Family Home Evening in our Church) where she could share something from the Bible or something generic about families (anything specifically related with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was taboo).  

Her oldest son made a bad friend and went down a path no mom wants her son to.  For years Hermana Camacho prayed and prayed for him to forget about his friend and come back to his family (which consisted of two kids and his wife).  Eventually the friend was deported back to Mexico and Hermana Camacho's son realized he needed to change.  So he changed...a little.

With a little more time (meaning another year or two), her younger two children, Adrian and Katia, began to come to church with her.  Adrian decided he wanted to be baptized two years ago when he was 17 and stayed strong for more than a year.  Katia said she wanted to wait some more time.  Both came to church consistently until 6 months or so ago, when someone at church did a dumb thing that ticked off Katia and Adrian and they stopped coming (and I don't particularly blame them).  Hermana Camacho, of course, kept coming weekly but because of the incident, couldn't keep the same level of activity that she had before or else her family would anger quickly.  She asked to be released from her callings in the church, could only stay at church for the main worship service, and the family home evenings nearly stopped.  It broke her heart but if you asked her she would probably just say "God gives us trials and I just keep praying for my family."

So to sum up her point of view: For years, all Hermana Camacho wants to do is share her joy that she has found in this Gospel with everyone she can, especially her family.  At first they don't seem interested, then they change, and then someone makes a dumb mistake which made her family not interested again.  

My point of view:
1. On my first day here in Layton at my very first dinner, the family we ate with mentioned in passing that they knew the nephew of Maria Camacho had been talking with missionaries a few years ago but then moved.  2. The next day as I looked through our records, his name stuck out to me.  3. That first Sunday, a member of our congregation approached us and gave us the information for one of Maria Camacho's best friends, who she said was interested in meeting with us.  4. The day after we finally met Hermana Camacho, she calls us and says she has a lesson set up with us on Thursday at 6:30 with her best friend.  That's way too many "coincidences." 

We began teaching Hermana Camacho's best friend (who just had a baby so is going to wait until she can be baptized) and in the process, got to know Hermana Camacho very well.  (by the way..."hermana" in spanish means "sister" and in our church we call everyone by "brother" or "sister" instead of "mr." or "mrs."  During one of the lessons, her daughter Katia came out of her room and sat down and we were able to talk with her for 15 seconds.  The next week we came by for a lesson with Hermana Camacho's best friend, but she forgot about the lesson, so Hermana Camacho asked Katia to come out and talk with us.  She was fine with that so we sat down and had a lesson with her.  The next week we had another lesson with her (and with her best friend who joined the church 3 year ago and is going on a mission in a few months).  

So to sum up my point of view: God makes absolutely sure that I meet this family and that I am around them quite a bit.  

That brings us to where we are at know.  (Very summarized version, but it will do).  Tonight we have a family home evening with the Camacho's and the family of Katia's best friend.  Please pray for both Adrian and Katia.  They are 19 and 17, one of the most important time periods of someone's life.  Please pray that Adrian will have the desire to come back to church and do what he knows in his heart is right, including forgiving those responsible for the incident.  And please pray that Katia will have the courage to do the same.  They need your help.

Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

General Conference Tickets Needed

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

This week is a short email week.  

Life is going very well.  We are teaching a lot of people.  One of the coolest people we are teaching is a 17 year old girl named Katia.  Her mom was baptized 4 years ago (and happens to be one of the most incredible people I have ever met.  I feel like I've known her before).  She went to church for 2 years before, but someone at church did something dumb and now Katia (with good reason) doesn't feel comfortable there anymore (yes...it's true...Mormons are not perfect and sometimes do and say dumb things).  Her older brother is a less active member who we are working with as well.  Please pray that both of them will regain their desire to go to church.

And attention all those who live in any state, any country, or any planet.  Elder Colton (that's me) needs as many general conference tickets as he can get.  We always, always, always have people who we want to take to General Conference and the only limit on how many people go is by how many tickets we have.  Please send me as many tickets as you can possible send and you will be loved by me forever (which means those who don't send tickets will no longer be loved, so start searching).

But really, it is a wonderful opportunity to take the people we're teaching the General Conference and allow them to listen to a Prophet (President Thomas S. Monson) and the Twelve Apostles speak in person.  For those without tickets, we can still watch it on the internet or on BYU TV, but in person is definitely preferred.   

Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton

Monday, January 14, 2013

"What Happens After Someone Gets Baptized?"

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Woohoo...no more white companions :) My new companion is Elder Curbelo from Uruguay and he is a stud in it's purest definition. He is the only missionary from Uruguay in our mission (which is over 200 missionaries) and we've had an incredible first week together.

And to greet us this first week we've had a huge snow storm and then very cold temperatues (in the teens and single digits). Utah isn't supposed to get that cold.

So I wanted to tell you all about what happens after someone gets baptized. There are four families that I'll write about in chonological order. I could write just about the super happy fairy tale endings ones, but that would be pointless to paint a perfect picture that would just get shattered later on.

1. Mario Hernandez 

Mario was the first person I baptized on my mission. He is a little over 20 years old. When my first companion found him, he was athiest, a very nice guy who wants a family to take care of, loved to work, loved to drink, and loved talking with us. For a month, he prayed, went to church, read from the scriptures, and felt the huge difference the Gospel was making in his life, so he decided to be baptized. A week after his baptism, another member of his group was baptized. A week or so later, all of them got a phone call from their "patron" (boss) called and said they had one day to make it to Illinois to start their new work site there. We didn't even get to say a real bye.

A month later I called Mario and asked how everything going in Illinois. He said they were all happy and working hard but that the closest church was 45 minutes away and they didn't have enough gas money to make it. So they just read the scriptures together on Sundays. I jokingly asked him if he was dating anyone and he said no. Then he explained why he wasn't. He explained that he wanted to only date people who were members of our Church so that he could be married in an eternal family in the Temple.

A week later I tried calling back but his number had been disconnected.

2. The Rodriguez Family

This was the first and probably biggest family that I'll teach on my mission. It was two sisters with their total of 7 kids (five of whom were old enough to be baptized). We loved teaching them. It was crazy (as you can probably imagine in a house of 7 children under 16 years of age) but so much fun. One of the sons had been in gangs before he met us but got out of all of that. The daugthers all decided they wanted to serve missions and go to BYU.

Two weeks after their baptism they stopped going to church. A few weeks after that the son got back into his gang. A few weeks after that he was involved in a shooting outside his house. A few weeks later the whole family was evicted. I havne't been able to get in touch with them since.

3. The Ochoa Familya (Lilia and her children: Ana, Ismael, Eduardo, Miranda, Alex)

Talk about amazing families. When I met them, Lilia was a struggling but incredible single mom with five kids between the ages of 19 and 2. She worked delivering newspapers from 3 to 10 each morning. She was Catholic and a loved her Church, but her kids didn't. At all. The only reason she was even talking with us in the first place was because her best friend has invited her to our church once and her kids had loved it. As we taught them their lives began to change. They seemed happier. Their house was more peaceful. That isn't to say their lives became perfect, but they were happier.

We're not at about their six month mark as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lilia is now in the leadership (which is called a Presidency) of the youth group for teenage girls (which is called Young Womens) in the congregation she goes to. Ismael blesses the sacrament (bread and water) each and every Sunday because there aren't many other young men to do it. Eduardo passes the sacrament to the congregation each Sunday. Miranda is still her sweet angel self, and Alex...well....Alex is still a little crazy 3 year old child who listens to no one but his mom. Ana, the 19 year old daughter who wasn't baptized with her family, has gone to church a few times since their baptism. Lilia's mom comes on occasion and Lilia has been able to share the Gospel with some of her friends and other family members. Both Eduardo and Ismael have gone to the Temple on youth trips and Lilia is going to go for the first time in a few months.

4. Lynette

Lynette is the college aged girl who was baptized about a month ago. We're teaching one of her best friends and she has a list of 10 other people who she wants to invite to church (both familiy members and friends). She wants to go the Temple soon with some of her friends and has thought about serving a mission (with a lot (A LOT) of insistence from us). She is planning on going to BYU (woot woot) and is just so happy. 

Take these examples for what you will. But what I've learned is that those who follow the Gospel faithfully will always be happyier. I know that as we follow Christ we will find a peace amoungst the chaos around us. If you want to know more about any of these families just shoot me a letter and I'd love to tell you more.

Love ya'll,

-Elder Colton

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Little Help From God

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,
I now know even more certainly that God really helps us out quite a bit as missionaries.  For the last few days I've been sick as a dog with headaches and stomach aches and body aches and every other type of ache you can have.  But the cool part has been that as soon as I pray and then walk out the door to start "preaching the word" (as the hispanics say) I feel totally fine.  I can walk/drive around all day and have no real problems.  But as soon as I step foot back in our house, then it all comes back and all I do is lay in bed, attempt at studying the scriptures, and try to live.  It's been really weird. 
This week we have transfers so I'll be with a new companion starting on Wednesday. 
Love ya'll,
-Elder Colton

Friday, January 4, 2013

"A Real Invitation"

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

Greetings and Salutations from Layton, Utah.  We have had an incredible past two weeks.  For starters, last weekend the Lopez Family was baptized.  Originally Franciso and Martina (the parents) only wanted their children (Josh and Yoli) to be baptized because they had never been baptized into any church.  But once they understand that families can be together forever because of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, they realized that they wanted to do it as well. They now have the goal to go to the Temple together as a family in a year and be create a marriage without any of the "til death do you part" stuff.

Their baptism was originally going to be 6:00 on Sunday but our Bishop asked us to change it to 6:30 so he could be there.  We forgot to mention that to the Lopez's so they arrived at 5:30 like we had originally told them.  With the Lopezs was Martina's sister, Gloria, and her husband, Juan.  Gloria was baptized 7 years or so ago but Juan never was.  Just four months ago he believed there was no God.  But then another set of missionaries invited him to pray and ask God if he was there.  God answered.

But that didn't speed up the process towards baptism too much (or so we thought).  Juan said he wanted to wait at least a year before being baptized (finding out that God exists had already rocked his world a little bit).  When he arrived at his family's baptism, his wife made a joke that he should get baptized with them.  So we also "joked" that he should do it.  He said he wanted to still wait a year so we left it at that.

Right about then Josh (the 8 year old) walked out of the bathroom in his wife baptismal clothes.  A few minutes later, Yoli came out of the women's bathroom in her white baptismal dress.  Five minutes later, Francisco came out in his white clothes.  Right about then, Juan told us he wanted to be baptized that night with his family.

He later told us that as he saw Josh walk out, he felt a warm feeling inside (the Spirit) that said he should be baptized, but he quickly rejected the idea.  A few minutes later when he saw Yoli, he said he felt the same thing but much stronger.  When he saw Francisco he told us he couldn't deny it anymore.  He knew God wanted him to be baptized. 
Juan, Bishop Barrera, Josh, Elder Rasmussen, Me, Yoli, Franciso, Martina


This Gospel is the greatest gift God has for us.  It is the way we can have a happy family here and is the only way we can have our families forever.  I know that to be true.  Through Christ and His Restored Church we can have complete happiness.  I know that is true because I feel it.  And I invite everyone to do the same by baptized by someone holding the restored priesthood authority of God that this Church holds.  Yes, that is a real invitation to you reading this right now.  Think about it.  Pray about it.  God will tell you that it is what he wants you to do.  He will.  And it will bless your life forever.

Don't hesitate to write me a letter if you have any questions (1428 W 1650 N #703; Layton, UT 84041).

-Elder Brandon Colton