Cody portrait

Cody portrait

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I will not lie in saying it is hard to leave...but I look forward to what comes next in life."

We are the last missionaries to drive Ashley the Astra... our tribute pic to her..

However, she isn't going away without a bang. We were hit by a Merriva as we were inside some missionary's flat.  Not our fault...

A day at the office...

Last Father-Son pic
What a weird experience this is..  My last email in the mission field!  But lets not focus on that part, it was a brilliant last full week...
First off yesterday we had our Parrs Wood School experience with a school of 17-19 year old students. We arrived at 9:20 after picking up President and set up our room for the group sessions. The students had previously selected what three religions they wanted to learn more about, and were divided accordingly. 
We had 3 groups for about 50 minutes each with each group totaling around 15 people.  We opened it up with a little icebreaker and introduction and then asked for questions.  We then transitioned into sharing the Restoration and answering questions that they had.  They all were quite impressive with their thought provoking questions and curiosity.  In one of the session their was a girl named Olivia who during the entire presentation obviously looked interested. After the group was over she talked to Sister Smith (YSA ward Relief Society President - who we had come along as the female rep.) and said that she was really interested. We were not to be recruiting but Olivia took action to recruit us. She set up an appointment to see us on Thursday in a member's home! 
After the group session we had lunch with the students and found it better not to sit amongst the religious leaders but to sit with the students. With us being around their age it was easy to relate and answer questions. President Preston was a stalwart example of this just plunging into the middle of the cafeteria talking up a table full of students. Loved it.
After Lunch we headed to the Auditorium for the 'main event' - the question and answer segment. We sat in a row of chairs on the floor and the students filled the bleachers, around 200 students I would say.  The religions that were represented there other than us were : Quakers, Jehovah's Witness's, Unitarianism, Humanists, Anglican, Buddhism, Hinduism, Seekism, Baha'i Faith, Pentecostal and Christian Science. 
The questions then started coming, they ranged from homosexuality, to describing your faith in one phrase: What evidence do you have that you are the true church? What has your religion done for the world? Does your religion take away freedom?  And many other great questions... Not all religions had to answer and some questions could be directed just to a specific religion. I was able to answer the one about describing our church in a phrase.  I simply quoted Brigham Young by saying.  "Our religion is to seek the will of God, and to do it."  It was a little bit more nerve wracking than I was used to. Simply a great time to bear testimony to people of the same age range. All in all it was a great experience to be apart of as we were able to see young people desire to know more about what religion can do to influence their lives for good. 
On to another note...
We had a complete miracle happen this week with a man named Divine. Yep, his name is Divine. Classic. Well, it started with the MTC missionaries street contacting Divine in Piccadilly and referring him to us. Well it was hard for us to contact him so we didn't think he was too interested. Well after a lesson fell through Sister Smith rang us and told us she had a lesson for us. She said to meet her in Middleton. So we did and there we met up with Divine, whom she had contacted. 
We then taught him on the spot and everything was great. After the lesson we get talking more, and he finds out that I am from Dallas Texas. He says "Hey! I have family in Dallas.." To make a long story short since then he has called them up (they live in Mesquite) and told them about the church. He then told me that I need to go and see them, and that they want us to come. So I now have their number to call when I get back. Talk about a one in a million shot. I, from Texas meet a man that is over from Cameroon for 4 weeks, and end up getting his cousins number in Mesquite... God lives.
We then had another great experience happen at Family Home Evening which was held at the CES couple's home. One of the YSAs  brought a friend that she had been telling us about for awhile and we were able to meet her and get to know her really well. She then wanted to meet up with us and learn more, so we set up a time for the next day. We taught her and she is incredible! She is renowned in her Bible knowledge and was easily able to see the reason for a Restoration of Priesthood power. We will teach her again last lesson in the field.
I want to just say how great it has been being a missionary. There is nothing quite like the routine, the responsibilities or even the feelings of a "brotherhood" amongst missionaries. I will not lie in saying it is hard to leave. I believe God opens new doors of opportunity and I believe that is what will happen to me, and I look forward to what comes next in life.  
There will be good time for reflection in the near future but as for now I am excited to get back to work. 
Tomorrow my companions and I will head to the Chester Zone meeting then head to teach my last lesson, that being Karen. Then in the evening we will all eat at the Mission Home.  Then I will have my exit interview with President Preston and a little testimony meeting.  Then the next morning Elders Hughes & Jackson will take me to the airport...
I hope you know how excited I am to see you all! 
See you soon!
Elder Eliason

Monday, June 18, 2012

10 Days Left...

My last Companion Photo: (L to R) Elder Jackson, yours truly, and Elder Hughes

With Elder Nielson

My Trainee Elder Corbin and his companion

Dear Family,

First off, Dad!  Happy Fathers Day! 

M. Russell Ballard has said:
 "There is no other relationship quite like that which can and should exist between a boy and his dad. It can be one of the most nurturing, joyful relationships in life, one that can have a profound impact on who boys become and also on who dads become. You see, we’re all on a journey. Dads are a little further down the road, but none of us has yet arrived at our final destination. We are all in the process of becoming who we will one day be. Fathers and sons can play a critical role in helping each other become the best that they can be.  Fathers, you are the primary model of manhood for your sons. You are their most meaningful mentor, and believe it or not, you are their hero in countless ways. Your words and your example are a great influence on them."
Dad, this is how I feel! I hope you know how grateful I am for who you are. I now more than ever recognize the effect that you have had on me as your son. I hope that I too can develop some of the great qualities you possess that have blessed so many of our lives.   

Some Memories of Dad...

1. Saturdays hitting at Story Elementary. I remember the phrase "grip it and rip it".
2. Watching Dad play Adult Rec Softball and Basketball, inspired me to be just like him.
3. Car rides in the morning to seminary
4. Every good moment to Dad is a picture moment. I will always remember Dad and the camera. 
5. Trip to Rice University with Jord and Uncle Jeff. I felt like one of the 'boys'.
6. Dallas Mavericks game: Buzzer beater by Dirk to beat the Jazz.
7. Speaking on the phone after the Utah baseball series.
8. Trips to the dump.
9. Ping pong sessions, and the Korean paddle hold.
10. Watching you work hard for the family's sake.
11.  Receiving inspiring Priesthood blessings before starting school.
12.. And many more...

Dad, I love you!

As for this week, it has been a very memorable!  I'll tell you why...

This week I had my last Zone Conference, which included the last training of my mission, and my departing testimony. I wish I could describe to you the feelings I had as I stood at the pulpit. I was on the stand with my brothers, those that I have come out with and have worked shoulder to shoulder with throughout my time here. It was a humbling experience to try and put to words what a mission is like and the feelings that I had towards my own.  All I could do was bear testimony and express my love and gratitude. I will always remember that moment, not because I enjoyed, but because of the multitude of feelings and emotions. Needless to say I'm glad it's over and that it only happens once!

In the Zone Conference we also had the England MTC President and his wife speak to us.  The Preston MTC President is President Walker (former Salt Lake City Temple President) and his wife, Sister Walker, is Gordon B. Hinckley's daughter. They spoke to us for about an hour about how a mission reflects the rest of your life. He told stories of how he still gets calls from fathers asking how their potential son-in-laws were on their missions. (He used to be a Mission President). Sister Walker told some stories of her father and his attitude of optimism and perseverance. They also spoke about the polluting word "almost." Referring to Acts 26:28 where King Agrippa says to Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."  They went on to say we cannot be "almost missionaries."  Serving an "almost honourable mission" or being "almost obedient." I loved the way they were able to share personal experiences and make it very clear to us that a mission is about putting your whole heart and soul on the line.

Elder Hughes and I went on exchanges this week up to Preston and spent our time there for a couple of days. While we were up there we were able to go to Preston's Stake Conference. And at their Stake Conference was Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and also the Church Historian. He and his wife gave incredible talks. On the Saturday session they both talked about families and some points that make a solid family. I loved the way how specific they were in their points. It was not general or overlapping, but something that people could easily go away and apply. On the Sunday session Elder Jensen spoke on the Holy Ghost and receiving Personal Revelation. I took some notes that I will always treasure. With him being the church historian, he knows his stuff. He told a couple of stories about specific church History events that tied in perfectly with his topic of the Holy Ghost. Such an inspiring individual, that just makes you want to be better.

After the meeting was over things got interesting... Sister Preston, came up and asked where we were going afterwards, and so we told her. She then asked if it could be an option to take Elder and Sister Jensen back down to Manchester to their hotel. We of course said that would be fine. A couple of minutes later, Elder Jensen walked up to me and shook my hand and asked if we would be able to take him and his wife. We agreed. 

When we met him at the car, he said "I'll take what we used call the "hump" in my family.  Whilst saying this he climbed into the back of the car and sat in the middle seat. Because we only had 5 seats and 5 people, we had to fill every seat. He was the first to nominate himself for the "hump." His wife then sat in the back as well, letting Elder Jackson who is 6'7 sit in the front.  And me?  It wasn't my day to drive. So there I was sitting in the back of a car rubbing shoulders with a General Authority. What an experience!!! We of course took the opportunity to ask him questions, and so did he. He asked about our mission, and our own personal service.  We asked him what advice he has for RMs.  It was an incredible experience that I will always remember, and one that I did not anticipate!

Here is my last contribution to The Corner:
There are two challenges that we must cross with our investigators relating to the Holy Ghost.

Challenge #1 - The Holy Ghost is ineffable. (D&C 121:26) “the unspeakable gift”.
(Definition: ineffable adj.– unable to be expressed in words)
 No one can know what salt tastes like until one trys it. The same goes for the Holy Ghost and its effects. To know it one must feel it and identify it.

Challenge #2 - Investigators can experience the influences of the Holy Ghost and not know it. 
3 Nephi 9:20 “Whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite sprit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Solution – You must “understand the doctrine of conversion and also...experience conversion: “The better you understand how (people) feel when they receive the witness of the Spirit, the better you will understand your own role.” --Preach My Gospel pg.92

Your role is to be a guide. You need to remember that we are guides and our investigators are the trailblazers. A guide is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way. A Trailblazer is one who is looking for the right way.

You are the most important convert on your mission. Why?  Because you cannot convert other people beyond your own conversion. You cannot lead a path you have not trod yourself. You cannot describe or identify something that you have not identified yourself.

This is a process of learning the “language of the Spirit”. 

Thomas S. Monson has said, “There is one language … that is common to each missionary – the language of the Spirit.  It is not learned from textbooks, written by men or letters, nor is it acquired through reading and memorization. The language of the Spirit comes to him who seeks with all his heart to know God and keep His divine commandments.  Proficiency is this language permits one to breach barriers, overcome obstacles, and touch the human heart.

When you understand what one must do in order to feel the Holy Ghost you will be able to recognize and identify with an investigator when they are of feeling its heavenly sustenance.    

As you fulfill your purpose as a missionary and help others identify the Holy Ghost, we offer this promise:   

“The Holy Ghost bears witness of the truth and impresses upon the soul the reality of God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him from that knowledge” --Preach My Gospel pg.99

Your converts will reach a level of distinguished zeal and be “firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.” Alma 27:27

This upcoming week we have a conference at a High School where all religious leaders of different faiths are coming together to give presentations, and then have a massive Q+A with all the students. We will head over with President Preston on Monday of next week.  So I will email you Tuesday!


Elder Eliason

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Many people call the New York area the 'Cradle of the Restoration', I say the cradle lies here in the lands of Manchester, Liverpool, Preston... the England Manchester Mission." -- Elder Kerr of the Seventy


Well, it's only been a couple of days since I last wrote, so I'll try to muster out a couple things...

As for the couple of things that have happened in the past couple of days...

We had a great Zone Leader Council this past Friday with many new Zone Leaders that added a lot of new dynamic experience. We also had one dynamic individual join us, that being Elder Kerr of the Seventy. He took the morning and taught us by principle and by personal experience, and most of all through the scriptures. I have now seen a couple General Authorities come through here, and every single one teaches thoroughly from the scriptures. They teach while teaching. Whilst teaching us principles of the Gospel, they teach us through actions the importance of letting the scriptures answer the questions. It is incredible to witness and inspires you to know and understand the scriptures more. 

One of the comments he made, made me quite proud. He said something to the terms of "Many people call the New York area the 'Cradle of the Restoration', I say the cradle lies here in the lands of Manchester, Liverpool, Preston... the England Manchester Mission."  I must say that I too am partial to this area. Not only to me is it 'The Cradle of the Restoration', but to me it is where I found the bedrock of my testimony. Needless to say, I will always be partial!

Everything else that we have been doing is just preparations for trainings, some meetings, and church. This week we have two Zone Conferences to attend, and then we have a couple exchanges. 

Scriptures of the week:

Revelation 12:10-11

10 - "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night."

11 - "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."

How did we get from the pre-earth life to where we are now? "By the blood of the Lamb" and by our testimony of Him. How incredible comforting that is as a missionary.  We are not here to instill something that has never burned within, but to kindle the fire that they do not know is there. There are hopeful contacts everywhere!

Have a great week!

Elder Eliason

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A little what goes on during transfer week...

Hello Family!

Sorry I am coming to you so late, I forgot to inform you of the unique 5 week transfer we were having this transfer.  

The news as for me, if you have not already heard is that I will be staying in the same place for the last couple of weeks. President felt that would be the best move for me, and for the mission.

That though makes Elder Hughes and I leave in the same transfer, so President has called for us to have another companion to make the transition easier. Our new companion is Elder Jackson from Sacramento, CA. That makes us a trio, and how fitting that is with all of the other trio's I have had throughout my mission.  

I cannot believe another transfer has come and gone, it seems the more I try to slow down the time the quicker time seems to go. We dropped off a big group of departing missionaries this morning at the airport, included were a lot of my good friends and companions. Elder Smart, Boswell, Misbach, Palmer, Ashcraft, Okeson... just to name some. These are powerful missionaries who have done so much for the mission, and for me as a person. 
Elder Eggers is still floating around the mission with his parents, whom we got to meet last night when they came to see him at the mission home. Right when they met me, they acted like they had already known me; after a few questions it became apparent that they did know me quite well. They responded with a response that has been somewhat of a theme on my mission.. "We've read your blog." Haha. 

I talk about how crazy transfer week is, and I'm guessing you wonder what does go on. Here is a little bit of what has taken place this week so far...
On Sunday we had to do some work at the office in the morning, then we went to church at 1:00. After church we had a fireside at the mission home with about 80+ people, so we were there from about 5-9. 
On Monday, we finalized all the transfer travel plans and booked coaches, buses, trains, etc., for all the travel. We also completed all of our normal Monday duties with sending numbers to Salt Lake. That night we had tea and a meeting with President & Sister Preston regarding the transfer planning. We also lost our key card that night and were stuck outside for a few hours. 
Tuesday morning we went shopping, picked up another car we needed for transfers, and then finished some more work at the office. That night we had another meeting called "Train the Trainers" with the President and the trainers of the new missionaries. We then went straight from there to Chorley to the MTC to drop off a missionary transferring to the Scotland/Ireland Mission. We then stayed the night in Chorley with the Zone Leaders.
Wednesday morning we woke up at 4:45am, picked up the 10 new missionaries from the MTC, and then went to President Preston's home for a meeting with the new missionaries. There they were interviewed by the President, whilst we trained them on some basic skills, and had Q&A. Then at 2:00 we traveled to Manchester South to meet all the missionaries being transferred. We then had our Transfer Meeting and all the new missionaries were matched up with their trainers. We then stayed and helped the departing missionaries weigh their bags and finalize all luggage. We then took them all to the President's home and spent the night there with them and the Prestons. 
We then took them to see the Mission Office and then to the McLaren dealership that is nearby that is often wanted to be seen. We then took them back to Manchester and dropped them off at our flat.  In the end we got home at about 2:30am. There were 12 of us all staying in our flat that should only room 3. 
Today, we woke up at 6:00 this morning and took them to the airport. We then went home and napped for a couple of hours, and then now are here preparing for Zone Leader Council tomorrow with Elder Kerr of the Seventy. (An Area Authority from Scotland). All in all it has been a very busy yet exciting week! In total Sister Preston fed us 6 times this week and is feeding us again tomorrow, so you could say  we are being taken care of...

I hope that sheds a little bit of light on what has been going on this past week and a half! Needless to say I am ready to be out of the office and out in the field this upcoming week. It will be a week filled with exchanges.

With the preparation for transfers you can tell we have not had much time to proselyte. But Stella and Stephen are still doing very well. We make contact constantly and the ward does great at pro-actively fellowshipping  them, which is a huge help. Stella came to church this past week, and again loved it. 
Quote of the week:
"No man can know himself unless he knows God, and he cannot know God unless he knows himself."
                                                                                               --Brigham Young
Elder Eliason