Elder Colton West

Elder Colton West

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Week 48: Wake me up when September ends!

Where in the world did my change go?  I swear we just started it yesterday, and it's already gone.  And here I thought that time flew by when I was still at home.  Anyways, the title is what it is because I am super tired.  Last week was a tiring one, and to top it off we played soccer for something like 3 hours this morning.  I want to sleep until October starts, but I can't do that.  There's work to do.

So General Conference is this week!  I can't beleive that we're already in this wonderful part of the year again!  In this era we are truly blessed.  In many other centuries of human history, the beleivers 


Where in the world did my change go?  I swear we just started it yesterday, and it's already gone.  And here I thought that time flew by when I was still at home.  Anyways, the title is what it is because I am super tired.  Last week was a tiring one, and to top it off we played soccer for something like 3 hours this morning.  I want to sleep until October starts, but I can't do that.  There's work to do.


So General Conference is this week!  I can't beleive that we're already in this wonderful part of the year again!  In this era we are truly blessed.  In many other centuries of human history, the believers would have had to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to have the chance to listen to a prophet of God.  The grand majority never had the opportunity.  General Conference is such a huge blessing to the world.  We can hear and see a prophet of the Lord, the mouthpiece of God, some of us without even having to change out of our pj's.  We can receive instructions from the duly called and ordained servants of the Lord without having to travel farther than the nearest LDS chapel.  I am sure that the Saints in previous dispensations would have given literally everything they had to have the opportunity and blessing that we take for granted today.

I share with all of you my solemn testimony that these men are called of God.  They have been ordained in the manner decreed by God; He has entrusted them with His authority, His Priesthood.  They are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators.  The 12 modern Apostles are just as much Apostles as were Peter, James, John, or any of the others called nearly 2000 years ago.  They are the 12 special witnesses of Christ in these latter days.

I invite all to not only listen to the words spoken in the Conference, but treasure them.  These talks don't come from the men behind the pulpit.  They come from someone much greater.

Have an amazing week!  Coming up next week: What was Elder West's favorite conference talk?  Stay tuned to find out!

Photos: these are the pictures that I am using for my agenda covers this change.

Love, 
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission






Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 47: Ether 12:6

Link to Ether 12:6 (title of this week's letter)
That scripture is an accurate description of this week.  It has been difficult.  We have had so much success for the last couple of weeks.  This week, we've been seeing the very literal application of a Law that every missionary is familiar with: the Pre-Baptism Trials.
The Pre-Baptism Trials (PBTs) go like this: an investigator has been progressing, and has accepted a baptism date.  They want to be baptized, they believe (and some already know) that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one true church of Christ on the face of the planet.  Up to this point, everything has been going well for the investigator.  But as their baptism date approaches, something changes.  Like magic, problems start popping up.  The circumstances are different for every investigator.  Some have family members suddenly turn very negative about them joining the church.  Others have personal or family emergencies that make it difficult or nearly impossible to keep meeting with us.  Some of them hear or read things that attack the church, and that sows doubt in their mind.  Some poor souls pass through multiple PBTs  No matter who it is, the PBTs always come.
We've seen the start of the pre-baptism trials with several of our baptism dates in this week.  But, as much as the adversary wants to use that to discourage us, to lower our ├ínimo (translation: spirit or soul), we're not letting that happen.  This is why...
There is a corrolary to the Law of the Pre-Baptism Trials, the 1 Corinthians 10:13 Corrolary.  In layman's terms, God tries their faith before their baptism, but the trial can always be overcome.  He is testing whether these people really want to be baptized or not, not so that He can be sure about it, but so that they are sure about it.
As a missionary it's a bit difficult to see these people go through trials.  We really care about our investigators.  Some of them are like family to us.  But the trials that come are like the refiner's fire.  They purge out the little impurities that all of us have, so that we can be better.  I know that my investigators will come out of these trials better than they were before.  Some of them will choose to stop progressing, but others will keep on moving onward and upward.  I can't help but remember the counsel of the Lord to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer in Doctrine and Covenants 18:15.  It is all worth it.  All the good, all the bad, and everything in between is worth it, because we are bringing souls unto God
Have a good week!
Jesus lives!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Editor's Note: Ether 12:6 is Colton's mission scripture that he chose for himself before he left. Every missionary that serves chooses a scripture which is engraved on a plaque a long with their name, their mission name & dates and a picture. The plaque hangs in their home ward building during the time they are gone. It is then presented to them when they return home.  I'm so grateful for this week's beautiful testimony of a scripture that is so dear to him. And thankful for such a great letter since the only picture we got this week was of his feet!

I didn't take many pictures this week. But I did find
some awesome socks in Walmart, of all places!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 46: Corbos and cumos and machetes, oh my!

Wow, what a week!  We have been busy.  23 lessons, 10 progressing investigators, 11 new investigators, 15 baptism dates, and 2 service projects.  But it's all part of the job.  Of course, it helps having a companion in his last change.  Elder Ramirez wants to leave this area in flames, and we're doing it.  My next companion and I are going to baptize like crazy!

So you're probably wondering what the heck is a corbo, and what's a cumo.  Well, it has to do with the service projects.  We helped some people here with their landscaping, Salvadorean style.  Down here, most people still mow the yard the traditional way: with a machete.  There are two reasons: one, most people don't even have a yard, and the few that do have at most 10 square meters of yard; and two, anything other than a machete is way outside of the budget of people here.  But because nothing can ever be simple, a machete isn't always a machete.  Here in Salvador the straight blade machetes that you see in movies and such are called corbos.  Salvadoreans almost never say machete, except when they are trying to sell one to a gringo.  There's also something called a cumo.  It's half machete, half sickle, and is way better for lawn mowing than a corbo.  Think 12 inch bamboo handle with a curved machete blade on the end.  Extremely effective.  And thanks to the fact that 90% of the service projects in my mission have involved macheteing something, I've gotten pretty good at using both corbos and cumos.

Anyways, both of our service projects were "landscaping" with machetes.  It's a good workout, that's for sure.

Now for the spiritual side of my letter...


President Vasquez has been doing a lot of praying and pondering to receive the revelation necessary to help us in our work.  This week, we saw the fruits of that.  President taught the zone leaders, and the zone leaders taught us, a new way to go about our "first contact" lessons.  He ahs asked us to start all of our lessons with a hymn.  Sounds a little weird, but it works.  Latter Day Saints already know all about the power of hymns.  For those of you who aren't members, ask your friendly neighborhood MormonMan to lend you a hymnbook, and read the introduction.   That will explain the importance of hymns far better than I can.

Following the hymn and an opening prayer, we come out swinging with doctrine.  We've been sharing John 7:16-17 to establish that what we're teaching is direct from the heavens, and from there share the commandments of repentance and baptism, and attempt to put a baptism date.  Different, but it works, because those who are prepared to receive the gospel accept, and those who aren't reject us.

Time's up for this week.  Have an awesome week!

Photos:
1. Soccer with members and investigators this morning.  We won!
2. new backpack.  I'm the only elder in the mission with an American flag on mine!
3. I also got Salvadorean Air Force pilot wings.  Something else that no other missionary has on their backpack.
4. Zona Ilopango, the best (and biggest) zone in the mission!

Love,
Elder Colton West

El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Zona Ilopango (Ilopango Zone) the best (and biggest) in the mission!
(Elder West, back row, 2nd from right)

Soccer with members and investigators this morning.
We won!
(Elder West, front row, left end)

New backpack.
I am the only Elder in the mission with an American flag on mine!

I also got Salvadorean Air Force pilot wings!
Something else no other missionary has on their backpack!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 45: Elder Nelson

So here's the promised info about the visit of Elder Russell M. Nelson....

It was a wonderful experience!  The moment that one of the mission presidents told us that he was going to enter the chapel, all of the nearly 600 missionaries there went silent.  Elder Nelson entered, greeted the mission presidents and their wives, and greeted the choir.  Then he greeted every missionary individually.  Or, better said, we went by rows to shake his hand and greet him.  When it was my turn, something interesting happened.  As I shook his hands and looked into his eyes, a quiet voice came to my mind, one that wasn't really mine.  The voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  It only said one small thing.  "This man is an Apostle of Jesus Christ."  It was confirmation that I had asked for that morning, in my personal prayers.  He, and the other Apostles are exactly what they say they are.  I believed it before, and now I know it.  And I am grateful to my God that He has helped me to the point where I can know, and not just believe.

This is all that I have time to write today.  I had to take care of some personal matters in my writing time.  Thank you all so much for your love and prayers.  You all are in my prayers always.  Have a blessed week!

Photos: from a trip last week to the Salvadorean Air Force museum.

Love,
Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission

Elder West at the Salvadorean Air Force Museum

Elder Ramirez and Elder West at the
Salvadorean Air Force Museum