Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Monday, June 22, 2015

Week 34: Emergency Changes

Emergency changes.  

Two words that every missionary dreads to hear.  Those two words mean that, if you're lucky, some other missionary will be continuing the work you've spent all of the change doing.  If you're not lucky, it means that the work in your area gets put on hold until the Lord tells Presidente that missionaries should serve in that area again.  They're words that inspire fear and dread in even the most seasoned of missionaries.  Thankfully, I did not have emergency changes this week.

What actually happened is that another area got closed, so one of the elders from that area got assigned to my area.  Yes, that's right, my first trio companionship of the mission.  That's not too crazy, it happens once or twice a change, for one of a number of reasons.  What is slightly crazy is that the trio didn't even last a week.  Elder Merino, my original companion, got sent home for a medical problem.  Don't worry, it's not too serious, he just needs a minor procedure done and will probably be back by change meeting.  However, for the last two weeks of the change I have a new companion: Elder Can of Mexico.  This is his last change, and he's fortunate enough to end his mission in Valle Nuevo, where the members love us and spoil us with dinner every night.  Lucky guy.

Now, to answer a question that people have been asking for the last three weeks: what's your companion like?  Elder Merino is a really good missionary.  Knows the scritpures very well, and is a very good teacher.  He's a pretty funny guy, always has a joke ready to lighten the mood.  We got along really well, and taught well together.  He was only a member for 2 years before he left for his mission, which goes to show how much a testimony can grow in a very short time.

I'll let you know about Elder Can next week after I get to know him a bit better.

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Elder Merino had a harmonica that one of his companions gave him.
So I borrowed it, put on my hat, and started playing hymns.
"Come Come Ye Saints" sounds really cool on harmonica!

I've started writing inspiration quotes and scriptures on sticky notes and
taping them to my desk. That way when I get distracted when I'm
studying it's at least with something else good! 

There are bats that live in the coconut palm outside of our house.
Better there than in the house I suppose.

Another gecko that I caught in the house. This one is named Moses.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Week 33: Consecrated, part 2

Hey everyone!

So, I said last week that I would talk about this whole consecrated missionary thing that we've started on here in the San Salvador East Mission.  Well, it goes a little something like this...

There are three types of missionaries in the world: Social Missionaries, Honorable Missionaries, and Consecrated Missionaries.  Social Missionaries were described by Brigham Young as those who "...go on a mission to preach the Gospel with lightness and frivolity in [their] heart, looking for this and that, and to learn what is in the world."  This kind of missionary "will go and return in vain," without gaining anything of eternal value from their mission.

Next we have the Honorable Missionaries.  Honorable Missionaries are good missionaries.  They are generally obedient.  They teach the Gospel with love, and they find some success as missionaries.  They return with honor.

Then we have the Consecrated Missionaries.  For these missionaries, every second that they have in the mission is a gift from the Lord.  They strive to use every minute available to do their job: preach the gospel.  Consecrated Missionaries are not just obedient: they are exactly obedient.  They don't just see miracles in their missions, by their faith and obedience they can make miracles.  They are truly aligned with the will of the Lord, and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

President Vasquez challenged all of us to become Consecrated Missionaries.  It's not an easy task.  Many times as missionaries we do things that, while they may not be breaking rules, are not the most effective way to spend our time.  But we've been given some pointers to help us in that journey, both from President Vasquez and from other church leaders.  For example, Elder Alonso of the Quorum of the Seventy, challenged us to be like submarines: submerge ourselves in the work, come up to periscope depth for a little while on P-Day to see the world, then submerge ourselves once again when P-day is over.

When I first moved areas, I found some CDs in the house.  Turns out they're an audiobook of Elder James Talmage's "Jesus the Christ."  I thought that was really cool that someone else left them in the house.  After the interviews with President Vasquez, I got to thinking about ways to improve how I spend my time.  I thought of the audiobook CDs.  We have about an hour of prep time in the morning, in which we usually listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or just enjoy the quiet.  The thought came to me that I could listen to those CDs in the morning.  So I started to do just that.  It's awesome, because that's another hour in the morning that I can study a very very very in depth analysis of the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ.

Well, I'm out of time for this week.  Coming up in next week's episode: my companion.  A month is more than enough time to make you all wait to hear about him.

Photo: Me with my companion, Elder Merino.

Love, Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Elder West & his companion, Elder Merino, in Ilopango

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Week 32: Consecrated

We had our quarterly interviews with President Vasquez this week.  In the interviews we received a new challenge from Presidente: consecrate yourselves to the mission.  That means be focused every minute of every day on the work, and how we can be better missionaries.  I'm searching ways in which I can do just that.  Unfortunately, I'll have to tell you about how I've already found one way to improve next week, because I'm out of writing time.  Take care!

Photos: Unfortunately I won't be able to send any photos for a while because my camera got stolen last week.

Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's note: Elder West's brother, our son Caleb, is leaving this Saturday for the summer touring as a member of a world-class drum corps. He will have very little free time and limited internet access to write with his big brother. So Elder West spent most of his email time today writing to Caleb and also to a friend getting ready to return home from their mission. I'm sure we will get a nice long letter next week!!!  We were so sad to hear about his camera being stolen as the memory card had a lot of pics from his mission that were not stored anywhere else :(  here are a few from Melissa Vasquez, the mission presidents daughter. These are from their district meeting on May 15th.

Elder West, far left

Elder West, 2nd from left

One happy missionary!

Elder Hale & Elder West

Monday, June 1, 2015

Week 31: Whitewashed

Another change, another area.  Yes, that's right everyone, I had changes!  I probably had the craziest change of area in the entire mission.  I got sent from Valle Nuevo 2 to Valle Nuevo 1.  So close, that I didn't even get to go to change meeting, the zone leaders told me to just carry my suitcases to the new house.  So I did.  My new companion was supposed to be Elder Recinos, who has been in the area of Valle Nuevo 1 for the last 4 and a half months.

Half an hour after change meeting ended we got a call from Elder Yaxón, my last companion who is now district leader.  He told us that Elder Recinos had emergency changes, and needed to pack his bags, because the assistants would be coming by to pick him up sometime in the afternoon.  We've spent the last 6 weeks in Valle Nuevo joking around with each other about anything and everything, so Elder Recinos and I thought it was a joke and went to lunch.  While we were there the zone leaders called and repeated the same message that Elder Yaxón had given us, but with the addition that the assistants would be at the house in 20 minutes to pick up Elder Recinos.  Thankfully we were just about done eating, so we ran back to the house and Elder Recinos packed like a madman to be ready in time.  Then the assistants showed up with the rest of my district, including my new companion, Elder Merino.

When the Lord sends two new elders to an area it's called reopening an area, but the gringos call it whitewashing.  I think our term for it is better, but people look at you funny when you say 'estamos lavando la área.'

The thing with whitewashing an area is that it doesn't happen all that often.  I'm not exactly sure why the Lord did it here, but I know there's a reason.  We've been working like crazy this week.  One really cool thing that happened a few days ago is that we prayed specifically to find a family of new investigators and one other new investigator.  After a couple hours of work, we found them.  A family (the parents of a recent convert) and another new investigator.

I'm all out of time for this week.  Keep on keeping on!

Oh, and the computer doesn't like my usb this week, so no pictures.  Sorry!

Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: the pics below are some I've been sent by Melissa Vasquez, the mission president's daughter. Grateful to have these to share on these rare occasions that our missionary is unable to send pictures!

This was the theme and symbol for the Gilbert AZ Temple
Cultural Celebration. Elder West sent this for his sister who was a
specialty dancer on stage in one of the songs performed. Over 13,000
youth in our temple district participated in this amazing event!

We sure love that smile!

Finding time for scriptures while at meetings.