Cody portrait

Cody portrait

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! we are celebrating the best way we know how: Pumpkin Pie and Pancakes! 

Wow what an event filled week! I'm sorry to hear that the Rangers blew it... and BYU... and the Cowboys. haha. That’s too bad.  Everything else sounded good though!  Haley got her permit, looks like she is having better luck than I am. I keep telling my driving instructor how easy it was to get a license in Texas. He just laughs...

Everything else though is going great! It was a memorable experience to learn from President Kopischke this week, and then to finish it off with Lorna’s baptism on Saturday. 

Updates:

Well, Lorna’s baptism was just great. She was so excited and ready for her big day.   There is always a special spirit at a baptism, and you could really feel it at hers. The ward was great at getting up early and coming out to support. At the end of the service she was invited to come up and bear her testimony. Let me tell you, she is a professional. She was able to tell everyone of her conversion story. It is just one of those moments that you cant fully explain. 

She is doing so well and is already making so many friends in the church. You need to meet her!
  
Nicky is struggling a bit at the moment. From what happened last week, we still cannot fully see where she is at. But she still continues to read, and pray. This week we will be a bit bolder with our lessons to see if we can get a feel for her commitment.

Mathew on the other hand is doing very well.  He pretty much was the star of the Primary Program that was put on yesterday. He had like three parts and a talk! 

Barbara Lawson, Grandma #2 .. is on fire!  She came to Lorna’s baptism and it really touched her.  She has been asking questions about her own baptism and how things will go. And when we saw her last night we committed her to completely go off Tea the next day.. she responded, “Well, I guess I'm drinking a gallon tonight!” haha. She later promised us that starting Monday she is off of Tea “forever and ever.”

We also met just about all of her family this week. They all live in her area. During each visit this past week some other parts of the family were there.  So it was great to meet them and invite them to church. 

Barbara is such a great lady and also hilarious! - It's always enjoyable to teach her. She is set to be baptised in two weeks.

Bianca put down her payment for her wedding dress this week. And so this wedding thing is happening!  She is getting really excited and so is the ward. The ward has just come out in full force to see how they can help. Sister Cummins has offered to do her make up, others want to help with pictures, and Sister Turner even gave Richard a bike! Not relating to the wedding at all, but still you see the point. The Chester ward just loves missionary work at the moment and because of that the work continue to progress. Richard and Bianca see how much they are welcomed. 

We are still seeing them quite a bit, helping them with establishing FHE has been our latest focus. But they are just great! 

Well as I said President Kopischke came and spoke to us this week. He taught us for about 6 hours at our Zone Conference and mostly just answered the questions that we had. He is just the most fun and loving man who has so much wisdom to offer when it comes to missionary work.   

In Zone Conference he mainly touched upon Goal setting, and having a “dream”.  I quoted him saying “If you bury your dreams, you’re dead.”  It was an inspiring couple of hours as he taught us from the scriptures how we are to carry out our “dreams/goals”. 

In Zone Leader Council it was a bit more personal. He sat down with us and discussed more about the mission. Where we are at and where we want to be. He then opened up for a Q and A. And to every question that was posed he answered with the scriptures. It was something else and I mean not just a scripture that is closely related, it was direct. 

I sat there thinking, how much I want to be like that!  It goes to show why we are to study the scriptures. The answers we are seeking are literally there for us to find. 

His visit and council is something that I will long remember.

This morning we saw quite the miracle. While driving into to town we spotted Dennis, a member of the ward, walking with a man with a bike. Dennis flagged us down and had us come over to see him. He introduced us to Steven, who he had met on the street. He said that Steven was willing to meet with us and so there on the side of the road we taught him. It was so great! It's not everyday that you get a member referral while your driving down the road and then teach a member present lesson on the spot! Wow...    

P.S. Congrats to Tanner on the mission call! I've heard some great things about that mission. There is an Elder from Moscow in the mission, he is great! Elder Zakarov is his name. Look him up when you get in the field. He'll be home.

Love you all,

Elder Eliason

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roller Coaster Week

Hello family!
This past week has been quite the roller coaster. Elder Cunningham and I say that we would be the next best companionship to put on the “Preach My Gospel” DVDs with all the drama we had this week. (The Preach My Gospel DVD’s are just a live filming of some companionships in the San Antonio mission a few years back).
We taught 25 lessons this past week, and we have been all over the place. But I am so grateful to be busy!
Updates:
Lorna was a part of that roller coaster. When we sat down with her the second time this past week she told that she had some thing to tell us. Well right when she sat down she said.  “Elders,  I am afraid I cannot join the Church of Jesus Christ.”... My heart sank, and I had no idea what had happened! This was the biggest shock I have come across on my mission.  She was so solid!  What happened!
We of course began to try and understand what happened. She began to tell us that she felt a burden to the other members who give her a lift. She also then went on to say how she wouldn’t be able to keep the Law of Tithing, she believed in it, she just said she wouldn’t be able to meet it.
Immediately we asked her some testimony questions: “Do you believe the Book of Mormon to be true?” “Yes.. I do.” .. Then you believe that this is the Church of Jesus Christ?  “Yes, and that is what makes it so hard! I know that it is true, but I feel that I cannot live up to it.”
She then went on to explain how hard the past couple days had been. She mulled over a minor problem with a lift to church, and then it seemed to be blown out of proportion.  And with that, came feelings of inadequacy.
We went on to resolve her concerns using the Book of Mormon. We first turned to 1 Nephi 3:7, and told her that God is in control, and will take care of all situations through our obedience.  
As we went through the lesson, her burden seemed to lighten, and that was because the spirit was so strong in that lesson! 
When we got near the end she seemed to still be holding back a bit, we didn’t know how much we had fully resolved so we turned to Alma 7 and read the following verse with her…
 “Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth abeset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.”
We then boldly asked her “Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized this upcoming Saturday?” ...“Yes” she said, with great relief. Joan Hill (our fellowshipper, and good friend/house-mate of Lorna)  then said... “Oh yes! Oh yes! I knew you would pull through.” And then got up and gave her a big hug. It was a good way to end the lesson.  Joan Hill is 90, by the way and the most hilarious person in the Chester Ward. She has been so key in Lorna’s conversion.
So Lorna pulled through, and overcame the “trial of her faith” it seems. She is looking forward to her baptism this Saturday morning! And so are we!
Nicky also rode along in the roller coaster, but not until a lot later in the week. In fact, yesterday.  
We had stake conference with President Teixera (2nd Councilor in the Europe West Presidency) from Portugal, and Elder Wright of the Seventy who is from the U.K. They were in town because the Chester Stake was getting a new Stake President. This was a great opportunity to get our investigators to see the strength of the leadership in the church in person. The conference was held at a university in Wrexham, and we were set up in the Auditorium.   
When Nicky showed up, we could tell something was wrong.  She just wouldn’t go in. She wanted to wait in the lobby for a second to try and pose herself. She explained that she has a fear being in big crowds. We tried to help her in any way that we could. But she just wasn’t able to go in.
 After 10 minutes had passed, we still stood with her, and then the conference began. Shortly after that there came a point where I think she just decided that she wouldn’t be able to handle the large crowd. She of course felt bad, in that she thought she was letting us down. And so she started looking up train times on her phone, and then just started to walk out. And I mean literally, just started walking out. 
We did our best to try and help her see that we could find a way to get it done. But she just didn’t seem to be in her right mind. The fear took over, and she had her mind on heading back home…
After doing all that we could we headed into the conference...
Later on in the day, after we were back in Chester she gave us a call. She said that she “just froze up.” We asked if we could come around later in the afternoon, and she agreed. 
The lesson we had with her went very well. We basically just looked over the fact what had happened, and focused on her conversion.  
She was still a bit hesitant with accepting fully the things that we had taught her. And it is frustrating! Because we feel like we need to do something more. But we knew that wasn’t the case. We teach and simply invite. She is to walk the path and see the blessings that will follow. In the end it is still her choice to walk the path.
I feel we got this point across very well to her and she agreed.  So we committed her to read more from the Book of Mormon and to pray with specifics. 
It was quite the day with her, but we feel it ended well. This next week will show a lot. To see how she responds to the commitments we have set.
Richard and Bianca are doing extremely well. I cannot begin to explain the transformation they have gone through. They keep commitments like it is nothing! We continue to await their wedding in January, and see them quite often.
Barbara Lawson came to the Saturday evening session of stake conference. And she absolutely loved Elder Wright and his talk. And so afterwards we took her up and introduced her. We told him that she was an investigator, and he just took her by the hand and bore down in testimony to her. It was quite epic. But she seemed to love it!  Haha.
After that session, we project things to speed up with her. We’ll see her this week twice.
I am beginning to be a little frustrated with this whole Drivers Licence thing. Haha. I need to take the test soon, but my instructors have not been the best. They keep wasting the time with some pointless instruction to try and prolong the time I need to spend with them.  And the lessons are expensive! My plan of action is to just take two more lessons, then sign up for the driving test, and pray for the best! The good thing that comes from this is that it will make my insurance much cheaper back in the states, with me having two licences and one of them being in England, which has really high standards.
This week is going to be a great one. President Kopishka: the President of the Europe West Area, and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy will be doing a mission tour. We will have a Zone Conference with him tomorrow, and then a Zone Leader Council meeting with him at the mission home on Thursday. I'm excited!
Quotes of the week:
“Not only has the Savior suffered, but so have most of the prophets and other great men recorded in the scriptures. The point is this: if you are having a bad day, you’ve got a lot of company – very, very good company.  The best company that has ever lived.       
-- Elder Holland                                                                                        
                                    
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing is changed, but our power to do is increased.”  
--Heber J. Grant

Have a great week!
Love,
Elder Eliason

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Blessed with abundance here in Chester"

Hello Family! 
First off, Rangers go back to back?  I'm telling you it is the genius of Ron Washington... The man is a master mind!  Haha! 
Its also interesting to here about Mitt Romney. Nobody over here seems to bother, but that is good news!
Updates: 
We currently have 6 people dated for baptism, (Lorna, Nicky and Mathew, Richard and Bianca, and Barbara Lawson) and what a miracle that is! We are being blessed in abundance here in Chester! Every week is a full week of teaching!
Lorna is doing marvelous. She has had a setback this week by spraining her ankle.  So we have only been able to see her twice. 
On Sunday morning we didn’t know whether to expect her at church or not. But as she always does, she amazed us by coming to church and fighting through the pain. Although she won't tell you that she acknowledges that the Lord blessed her to be able to attend.  
Our lessons with her this week were incredible! You would not believe how great she is! We start off the lesson by following up on her Book of Mormon reading and she pulls out a pad of paper to review her notes/questions. I might add that these notes were over all of 2 Nephi, including the Isaiah chapters. She loved the Isaiah chapters. While going through the questions she would continually express the joy that the reading has been to her. And even said, “Its sad that there are people that wont read it! As Nephi says, its plain, filled with plainness... ah! It just makes everything clear!” …Amen Lorna, amen!
We then went over her notes on 2 Nephi 33. This was a chapter that she was really excited about. She said that it was the chapter that had hit her the hardest. And while discussing, she paused for a second and then bore down in pure testimony, “I know that this is truth. ” She spoke with great emotion and you could tell that it had really hit her. “This is the chapter that has done it for me” she said with tears.
It was quite the experience to be apart of and one that I will always remember. That is what we call conversion folks. She had asked the Lord in prayer, and through her diligence and faithfulness received a confirmation through reading the scriptures. That is what this work is all about!         
Because we have Stake Conference next week, she will be baptised in two weeks. 
Oh, and in the second lesson we watched “Prophet of the Restoration” and afterwards  bore testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Every lesson we teach her is so rewarding!
Nicky is doing very well. She has a completely different personality than Lorna. Nicky is quite, shy and reserved. And with her not having a background in religion is progressing at a slower rate.  But she and her two kids (We taught her daughter Catherine this week) are still coming to church every week and keeping commitments. She also is quite the pastry chef. Honestly, about every time we come we leave with a cake in our hands. She is so great!
Richard and Bianca continue to do very well. They have cut off smoking for good! Bianca has gone from 30 a day to zero! How great is that? And she feels a lot better for it. The only thing we are struggling with with them is when are they going to get married.  Because their family has to come down from Scotland, and they can't do that till January.  So while they are working that out we continue to teach them 3-4 times a week. We also are working on getting them integrated more into the ward. As they are quite reserved. We want them to come and stay in the ward and that is why integration into the ward is so crucial!
Barbara Lawson is also getting on well. We have been re-emphasizing the restoration with her lately as she is catching on well, we think. She is such a nice old woman but sometimes can struggle with the fact of one true church. To help her we have used many analogies and scriptures from the Bible and Book of Mormon. It seems to be working, as she came to church this week and loved it. Teaching an older woman is something that is new to me, as it is a first on my mission. It has made me become more versatile in how I teach because I know that I can't teach an older woman the same I do to a college student. 
Speaking of college students, we were able to teach a room full last night.  We set up an appointment with two of the girls, and then ended up teaching the entire house. It was a really good lesson. Only one of the girls had a faith in God so we centered most of the lesson upon how a belief in Christ benefits us. They had great questions and caught on pretty quick. We also found out that one of the girls is a good friend of a member in the Liverpool ward. She used to go to church with her when they were younger. Wow! 
We will see them again Wednesday!
Chester University is now in full attendance, and we are definitely seeing the fruits of it.
I don’t know if I have told you much about Elder Thomas, the missionary that Elder Hopper is training. They are the Chester B missionaries and live in our flat. Well I was able to go on an exchange with Elder Thomas for two days, and wow what a person he is. 
His story starts a couple years ago where he kicked the game winning shot against the Real Madrid 19 and under team. Yes, Real Madrid...one of the best teams in the world's youth team.  Elder Thomas is a star athlete, but the thing is that he has only been a member for 1 year and 2 months (I’ve been on my mission longer than he has been a member of the church). 
He played football with some missionaries, called them up the next day to have them teach him.. and was baptised despite no one in his family believing in God. A couple weeks later he went to General  Conference with a question.  His question being “God, what do you want me to do with my life?”  He had the opportunity to play for a football club, and earn 6,000 pounds a month but he wanted to see what the Lord wanted him to do.
Well the first speaker was President Monson and as we remember said “Every able young man should prepare to serve a mission.”  He said that he knew that was his answer, and from that day prepared to serve. One year later he is serving the Lord.
How incredible is that?  That is what I call an example of exceeding faith!  He is doing so well, and from him, I have already learned so much. I enjoy asking him questions throughout the day and even having him show me some “soccer” skills.
This week I was able to also go on an exchange with the Rhyl Elders. Oh, it was so great to be back in Rhyl. Such a blast from the past and a classic area. I was able to stop by Liam and see how he was doing.  He was happy to see me and I as well to see him. I tried to get him to let the other missionaries to teach him, but he still is doubting himself to ever believe..  Its too bad, but one day, one day, he will…
I hope you can feel in my letters how happy I am! It is such a fun time being a missionary, and being able to serve the people around me.  I just love it!
Have a fantastic week! 
Love,
Elder Eliason

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rowell Gets Baptized...Zone Leader Council

Rowell's baptism


Zone Leader Council





Hiya!

It’s been a great half-week for us here in Chester. But with many meetings, planning, and a baptism there hasn’t been much time for proselyting. But there are some things I can update you on!

Rowell was baptised this past Saturday! It was so great! It was such a special day for the family, and all who attended. At the end of the service, Rowell got up and bore his testimony. It was a powerful experience that I am glad to have been apart.

On Friday we spent the entire day up at the Mission Home for Zone Leader Council. I was asked to give training on setting personal goals, and then the importance of accounting. I explained the “How” and the “Why.” How we are to set them, and how we are to account. But the greater part was focused on the “Why.” I talked about how we as missionaries are pretty good at the how and what. For example, we for the most part understand how we are to be obedient. But I think sometimes we lose focus on the “Why”. We can get into a routine and just know that’s how it is supposed to be done...With this being the case, I explained “why” it is that we set goals as missionaries. It went very well!   
We were able to teach Nicky since Wednesday. We taught her a lesson centered upon the atonement. This is a result to her most recent concern of how she feels that God doesn’t lover her. We brought some very good fellowshippers, who shared great personal experiences and testimonies. We then followed-up on the Word of Wisdom.  She had made some progress and was trying different kinds of Tea. She may not show it, but she knows it is true, and is working on keeping it.

Yesterday we were able to take her and her son Mathew up to the Mission Home Fireside. The Fireside was purely just recent converts sharing there conversion story and their testimony. One of them was Kate! Do you remember her?  She was the woman I taught right before leaving Rhyl! Wow, she is doing so well! It was so great to be there and to see her! 

One of the testimonies was just perfect for Nicky. It was a woman from Liverpool who had overcome addictions and had gained a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. 
 
Lorna was able to come to Rowell's baptism and loved it!  She has had a lot on her plate this past week because she hasn't been able to contact any of her family.  It's been quite a while since she has been able to.  Well, she said a prayer and that very night she got an email! When I was on the phone she said, "That's just the power of prayer."... she is just so great! Also, the Assistants came to Rowell's baptism and got to know Lorna. In their planners they wrote down her as a member in order to remember her.  They couldn't believe it when we told them she is an investigator!

I am short on time and I am sorry!

Love, Elder Eliason

P.S I met a girl from Highland Park while I was in Bangor…crazy!

P.S.S Go out and eat at an Indian restaurant…all I have been eating lately is curry...so good! Try it, taste it, and get back to me… 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Be loyal to the royal that is within you." -- Elaine S. Dalton



 
 
Dear Family,
 
Wow, I got to hear from just about all of you this week! You are all doing so great! As you can see I am coming to you a bit later than usual, that is because this week is transfers! But the good news is that I and Elder Cunningham will be staying together for another! That makes 3 transfers together. More than any other I have had. Don't change what's going good, right? 
 
This week was packed, and we finished off with conference. Honestly, there is not many things that you look forward to more as a missionary than Conference. We get to watch all the sessions but the afternoon Sunday session. We watch Saturday morning here on Saturday evening. And then Sunday morning we start with the recorded session of Priesthood, and then watch Saturday Afternoon, then Sunday Morning, so its Conference all the day long. Smashing.  
 
The only unfortunate thing was that we could not get any of our investigators a lift to the chapel. Most of the families stayed at home and watched it.  
 
Updates:
 
Lorna:
 
Well as I said, nobody was able to make it to Conference but that didn't stop Lorna. On her iPad she watched every single session that she could (including the Relief Society broadcast). When I asked over the phone how she enjoyed it, she said, "Oh marvelous darling, it was marvelous." Haha. She is just the best and is doing so well! As you can see she is just so pro-active and ready for baptism! This week we taught the Word of Wisdom and she just knew it to be true and loved it. She then asked, "What else do I have to do? Do I have to memorize anything? If so what is it?"  Haha. We reassured her that there is no memorization needed. But as you can tell, she is doing very very well. She is set to be baptised in two weeks. 
 
Rowell:
 
Now Rowell is someone that I don't think you know about. A little background on him... he has been taught for the past 3 years. He is Filipino and married a member of the church. His sister is also a member. But he has been in a stand still for quite awhile. Elder Cunningham and I saw him once before he left for vacation, and committed him to read and study the Book of Mormon while he was gone. 
 
Well he came back and we saw him last Friday. He informed us that he woke up early every morning and read and prayed over the Book of Mormon. He said that he knew it was true, with real conviction he shared how his prayers were answered. And so he set his day to be baptised. It is this Saturday, the 8th!  It is such good news for their family, and most of all for Rowell, he is excited, and ready! 
 
Nicky:
 
Nicky has been doing well, we have seen her four times since I last emailed, and so many things have been covered. The most trying lesson was yesterday, when we taught her the Word of Wisdom. She didn't handle it as well as we had thought. With her non-existent background in God it was hard for her to connect that the Word of Wisdom comes from God, and is not something that just was made up. The good thing is she knows that the Book of Mormon is true. And so we re-emphasized how that is evidence of Joseph Smith, which leads to the Word of Wisdom. 
 
She has had some sicknesses in her life, and so she feels mad at God for the way that she is, she then went on to say that she didn't feel that God loved her. And that was a blow, because of  how untrue that is! If there is one thing that I do know,  is that God loves his children. 
 
We did all we could to help her to understand, but in all reality, we can't. She must be willing to ask the question: How has God shown me that he loves me? She needs to pray and find that out! And so we committed her to pray about the Word of Wisdom, and to seek ways that she has seen the love of God. 
 
To be honest it was a great lesson. She needs faith building experiences that will fortify her testimony. She still loves having us around and will be coming to church this weekend. In our next lesson we will give her the talk "Broken Things to Mend" by Jeffrey R. Holland. Look it up... it is a powerful talk to those who are struggling.  It will be perfect for her.
 
Richard and Bianca:
 
They are doing very well, lessons continue to be smooth, and they are keeping commitments. Bianca is in Alma, and Richard is on the 4th disc of the Book of Mormon on CD.  Everything has just about been taught, all they need to do is get married! They are working towards the end of this month to have it.
 
This week we have had a lot of interaction with "Gypsies" or "Travelers." We had a couple pull up in a van, and ask us what we were doing. Long story short we taught them on the spot and soon came to found out that they believe in great morals. They live the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity. It was something that drew them to our message. It was quite interesting to ask them about a Gypsy lifestyle..
 
We also received a referral from a missionary who served here last year, who baptised a Gypsy and was teaching his family. So we headed down to their site in Wrexham and talked to his wife. She said, that he was going through a hard time, but would love to see us again. She also said that she would be interested in taking the lessons again...
 
We went to Rhyl to watch the sessions of Conference because Chester doesn't have a satellite. It was so great to see some of the members and to see how they were doing.
 
During the break between session of Conference, Elder Cunningham and I were part of a great miracle...  While street contacting the Rhyl bridge we contacted a girl from Hong Kong. We soon found out she was a Christian, and had even been to the temple we have in Hong Kong. We asked if we could walk back to the church to teach her. She agreed. Elder Jin, who is serving right next to Rhyl was there, and so we grabbed him, and taught her! She was amazing, and has only been in the country for one month.  
 
It was just the best feeling to have heard many talks on the blessings of missionary work, and then to go out and experience something like that...just made me so proud to be a missionary.  
 
I took a lot from Conference, but my time is short...
 
But can I tell you that I loved Elaine S. Dalton's talk! Wow, how powerful that was... I loved her quote, "Be loyal to the royal that is within you." As a holder of that Royal Priesthood, it really hit home. It is a sacred responsibility to bear His priesthood, and I know that as long as I am loyal to it, I will be worthy of power needed to bless his children.
 
Have a great week!
 
Love, Elder Eliason