Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West


Monday, August 31, 2015

Week 44: The Unlikely and the Impossible

This week has been absolutely fantastic!  It's been anything but a normal week though.  Let me explain...

On Wednesday the mission went to the temple again!  Or at least the zones in and around the capital.  It was a great experience, one because we only get to go a couple of times a year, and two, because while I was there I was able to do a vicarious baptism for my grandfather.

Now, for those of you who don't know what vicarious baptism (or baptism for the dead) is, let me explain.  We believe in the words of Jesus Christ recorded in John 3:5, that is "He that is not born of water and of the spirit cannot enter in to the kingdom of God."  We also believe that for a baptism to be valid, it must be performed by someone who holds the Priesthood, or in other words is authorized by God to perform said baptism.  We also believe that said authority is only found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Taking all of that into account, it means that there are a whole lot of people who don't have their ticket to enter the Kingdom of God.  That's why we do missionary work, so that as many people as possible can be baptized by someone authorized to do so, and be able to enter the Kingdom.  But what happens to all of those folks who die without being baptized, or even hearing about the gospel in this life?

The answer can be found in Doctrine & Covenants 138.  Yes, I'm going to make you read it.  You all can regañar me for giving you homework when I get home.

The point is, these people still need baptisms.  And that's part of what we do in the temple: we perform vicarious, or proxy baptisms for those who have died without being baptized by the authorized servants of God on this earth.  If they choose to accept it, it counts as if they had been baptized in this life.  They can enter the Kingdom of God after the resurrection.

Temple baptisms are something that can only be done with permission of the next-of-kin of the deceased.  For that reason we are just now starting the vicarious work for my family members, because we recently received permission from the next of kin, my aunt Melanie.

Getting to perform a temple baptism for one of my family members was an extremely special experience for me.  It was my first opportunity to do so in my entire life.  What makes it even more special for me is that I know that my grandfather accepted that ordinance.  The Holy Spirit confirmed it to me shortly after performing the ordinance.  I was sitting on a metal folding chair, freezing cold because of the air conditioning and the wet baptismal clothing I had on.  One of the temple workers and one of the other missionaries there with me placed their hands on my head to perform the confirmation.  And when they said the words "Recibe el Espíritu Santo" (receive the Holy Ghost), I felt it.  Those fruits of the spirit that are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 were all in my heart, and I knew.

Well, my time in the cybercafe is up.  Next week I'll tell you about our Mission Conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson.  For now, just a highlight from his discourse.  "The Lord uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible."

Love you all!  Have an awesome week!

Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: We did not receive any pictures this week :(  hoping for some next week along with his report about the Multi-Mission Conference with  Elder Nelson!!!
For more on temple baptisms for the dead and why we do them, please visit 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week 43: Phoenixtepeque, Arizonatenango!

*bass riff* Another change bites the dust. *bass riff* Another change bites the dust.  And another one gone, and another one gone, another change bites the dust!

And just like that another change has ended.  I feel like every time I blink a month has gone by.  And in every month some things change.  Like my companion.  I am now serving with Elder Ramirez, of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, México.  He's in his last change.  The Lord keeps putting me with "old" missionaries.  But it's a good thing, because I can learn a lot from them.  So far we get along really well, and work together well.  I'll let you know more about my companion as I get to know him better.

I'm still in Valle Nuevo, Ilopango.  Yeah, another change here, I know.  Good thing that I like this ward.  I'll probably stay here in October too, because they generally don't take both companions out of an area at the same time.  My hope is that I'll get to train next change, but we'll see what the Lord and President have to say about that.

We have some exciting things coming up in the mission this week.  Firstly, we get to go to the temple on Wednesday!  Secondly, on Thursday we have our quarterly interviews with President Vasquez.  And thirdly (and most exciting), on Friday the 3 missions in El Salvador are having a special conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson!  I will give updates on those 3 things next week.

Well, my email time is up.  I hope you all have an awesome week!

p.s. the email title...For a joke I "Salvadorean-ized" Phoenix, Arizona...-tepeque and -tenango are common endings of names of cities and states here.

Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Me with my new companions.  Elder Ramirez is in the middle. 
The other is Elder Gonzalez.  He was only with us for one
day before he went home to have knee surgery. 
He should return to the mission in a couple of months.

Me with my friend Fernando. 
He is the son of a member who helps us with the work.

That is a "chinche".  It's slightly smaller than my hand, and dangerous. 
They have a venom that will put even an adult in the hospital. 
We didn't touch it, just took pictures and then killed it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Week 42: One More Change!

Hi everyone,

So last night we got the call for changes.  My comp told me that I have changes.  Then a few minutes later he told me that I actually don't have changes.  He's always joking around, so I wasn't sure which one was the truth.  But I confirmed with Presidente today (because we went by the mission office this morning), that I don't have changes.  I get to stay in Valle Nuevo another change!  And good thing too, because I love this ward.  My comp does have changes though.  And as much as he drives me crazy sometimes, I am going to miss him.

I'm extremely grateful to be able to stay here one more change.  This ward is powerful.  We are getting tons of references from members here.  And they not only give references, they open their homes for Noche Hogar (Family Home Evening for you gringos), and accompany us to teaching appointments.

I got to see something wonderful yesterday: the baptism of a sister who I started teaching.  Her name is Marcela de Vallecillos, and she is the wife of Ismael, a member who was inactive for 7 years.  The Vallecillos family was a reference of the ward mission leader, who grew up with Ismael here in the ward.  They always kept in touch, and when Marcela started asking questions about the church, Ismael asked the ward mission leader to send us, because he felt like his answers weren't adequate.  We started teaching, and from the first lesson I knew that Marcela would be baptized.  I was so sad when I got transferred from Valle Nuevo 2, because I didn't get to keep teaching them.  But it appears that the other elders did a good job, because Marcela got baptized on Sunday.  I am so grateful that I was here to see it.

News from my area:  We are hard at work setting up baptisms for the month of September.  Already have 3 planned.  I want 6.

Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

A very small park in one of the colonias in my area

The Vallecillos Family (Elder West, far right)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Week 41: Double Double

Hello everyone,

This week's email title has a double meaning.  First meaning: I am really missing american food right now.  I really want a Double Double from In N Out Burger.  Unfortunately, they don't have that here.  So I have to wait until I get home to have that.  Lame.

The other reason is because we baptized again this week!  Two weeks in a row with a baptism and confirmation!

My time is already up (how did that happen?!).  Sorry for another short email!

Elder Colton West (original: navy blue)

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

My companion, Elder Juarez, with some investigators
and members in front of the temple

Someone trying to break into a truck in broad daylight
on a busy street. Welcome to El Salvador!

Clean house, happy Elders!

Elder Juarez and I with our latest convert, Jenifer!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Week 40: Splash!

Splash!  That's the sound of someone entering water.  That's something that happened here on Saturday.  Ivonne, one of our investigators got baptized!  It feels great to baptize again, though I wasn't the one actually baptizing this time.  But that's okay, because we had a baptism!  And we're going to have another one this saturday as well!

Our work here in Valle Nuevo has been helped tremendously by the ward members.  The Primary presidency made the baptism of Ivonne possible by going to lessons with us, and helping her to learn the principles of the Gospel.  We've been receiving a lot of references from members of friends who they've shared the gospel with.  These people are already excited to hear the gospel from us, and we're really happy to be able to teach them.  And statistically speaking, references from members are much more likely to get baptized.

Well, my time is up.  I love you all!  Keep on being awesome!

Oh, and since nobody has commented on it, I'll just tell you.  There's a reason why the color of my signature changes every week.  But it's up to you all to figure out why.

Huge shoutout to my cousin Preston for accepting a baptism date!  I'm super proud of you Preston!  Keep it up!

Adios for now!

Elder Colton West (original: navy blue)

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: Well, so much for that longer email we were promised! Maybe next week. This is the first time our  missionary has told us that the color of his signature has a meaning. I often change the color before posting to the blog so that it will show up on the blue background.  So if you see a note next to his name or his mission that will be noting the original color for those of you who may not get his letter directly to your email. 

Elder West &  his companion, Elder Juarez

Baptism day for their young investigator, Ivonne