Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Week 87 - Continued - March 25, 2019

Today I decided to read the emails of one of the best missionaries this world has ever known:  Elder Connor Copeland.  It's funny cause I remember reading them four years ago and they still make an impact on my life.   But, these are some of the things Connor said.  Read them and Apply them...

If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude."

The choices we make determine our destiny... "May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong." 

I read it cause I am about to enter for real into the world and not gonna lie, pretty nervous!  It first off tells me to tighten my grip to the iron rod, then says that I am living through a critical period of my life, with the choices that I make - mission, education, marriage, career and service in the church all being crucial.  And the correct decision needs to be made!  We need to "fly right" it says in the storms of the last days.  We are the pilots.  We are responsible to think about the consequences of every choice we make.  In all situations before making a decision, ask ourselves, "If I make this choice, what is the worst thing that could happen?"  Our righteous choices will keep us from getting off course.  Think of it.  If you choose not to take a drink of alcohol, you will never become an alcoholic!  If you never choose to go into debt, you will avoid the possibility of bankruptcy.'

"One of the purposes of the scriptures is to show us how righteous people respond to temptation and evil.  In short, they avoid it!  Joseph ran from Potiphar's wife.  

Lehi took his family and left Jerusalem.  

Mary and Joseph fled into Egypt.  

In every instance, Heavenly Father warned these believers.  Similarly, He will help us know whether to fight, flee or go with the flow of our unfolding circumstances.  He will speak to us through prayer.  We have many tools:  Scriptures, living prophets, patriarchal blessings, padres, church leaders and above all, the still, small voice of the Spirit."

"The Lord promises to lead us along, but will we let ourselves be led?  If we are there for the Lord, he will be there for us.  (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63)  If we love Him, we need to keep His commandments.  If we do keep the commandments, the Spirit will guide us Doctrine and Covenants 11:12,14."

"He then goes on to talk about many young adults are in major debt, but he says, "You are rich if you can live happily within your means."  How can we do that?  Pay our tithing and then save!  When we earn more, save more.  Don't buy what we can't afford."

"He goes on to talk about education and the importancia of getting a good education. Then marriage, that we don't marry perfection, we marry potential."
"Right now my responsibility is to be worthy of the person that I want to marry.  If I want to marry a babe, honest, happy, hard working, smart, spiritual person, I need to be that same kind of person."

"We need to exercise our faith in every aspect daily.  If we do it, the scriptures say that we will wax stronger and firmer in the faith of Christ.  We need to learn how to reach up, not across.  No one can reach upward for us.  Only our faith and prayers will cause us to lift ourselves and have the might change of heart.  Only our decision to be obedient will change our life.  Because of the Savior's atoning sacrifice for us, the power to change is in us.  We have our agency to reach up or across."

"After praying, spend some time alone.  Think about what is ahead.  Ask ourselves:  "What areas of my life do I want to strengthen so that I can strengthen others?  Where do i want to be a year from now?  Two years from now?  What choices do i need to make to get there? Remember, we are the pilot, we are in charge of the flight."

Week 87 - March 25, 2019

Dear Family,

Another week down here in Ecuador.  They are just going faster and faster.  This week was a great week for us in Atacames.  Starting off, all of our investigators passed their interview this week, and we should be having four baptisms this next coming week! 
Our first investigator that is going to be baptized is William Poso.  I've explained a little about him before.  The guy is just hilarious.  He has about two or three teeth and always has got a hat on.  We were able to visit him this week and it went super well.  He truly has progressed a lot and is excited for his baptism this next coming week. That's basically all he talks to us about is his baptism!
As well, we have Antonio Bautista and his two kids, Abraham and Juan. They honestly are so amazing and so humble. The dad barely has work, but he told us that the first dollar that he makes he saves it so that they can come to church.  But, they are doing great.  They all are super excited for their baptism this next coming week!  We were able to visit them with a member this week and during the lesson Antonio received a call from his friend telling him that he was going to give him a job, and Antonio just started tearing up the Spirit was so strong.  Such a special experience.
I'm loving it here in Atacames.  It truly is a special place. The people here honestly are super, super poor.  It kind of makes me feel bad because I would love to be able to help them out financially, but I kind of have to sit back and wait for them to receive the blessings from God.  Basically, all the houses are made of wood sticks and don't have a water flow most of the week.  And if the don't have water flow, a water truck comes and feels up buckets for them so that they can clean clothes, wash dishes, bathe, and drink water.  They truly are people that need our Lord's blessings.  It reminds me a lot of Nicaragua, to be honest.  But, I'm super excited to be here.

This week, we had a day of Ministering in a place called Muisne.  Muisne is a part of the branch an hour and a half away from here.  It's a little island that has about 35 members and has it's own little chapel for the group.  But, we went as a branch to go and minister to the less-actives and it was awesome.  It's such a cool little island that has an amazing beach and a lot of people that need the gospel in their life. There is a lot of work to do down there, so it was fun to be able to help out a little with the less-actives.  But, to get to the island, you have to cross a little bridge that is only the size to allow motorcycles to pass.  It's so beautiful over there, to be honest!
I've been reading in "Come, Follow Me" and it has been such a blessing for me.  I love the New Testament and have been learning so much from it.  I love the story when the fisherman left their nets immediately and followed Him.  Also, when they lowered the paralytic down to Christ so that he could heal him.  The faith of the poor and the doubts of the rich.  I sure hope everyone is following "Come, Follow Me."  It teaches us so much about what we need to do here on earth and how we can become true disciples of Christ.

But, it was a great week here!  We are hoping that this next week will be even better!
Love, Elder Copeland

Week 86 - March 18, 2019

Dear Family,

This week was a pretty solid week.  We had some more meetings this week like Zone Conference, interviews, and we helped out with EFY and the youth.  Helping out with EFY was one of the highlights this week.  We got to work with the youth and help them understand the importance of going on a mission.  I got to see a bunch of the youth from my old ward, which was so awesome, and to see how much they've grown over the past year; also, to know that they still remember me haha.  As well, Zone Conference and interviews were great.  I was able to learn a lot more from President and Hermana Murphy.  It was weird to see the final testimony of Elder Gonzalez because when I started, he was in my same Zone, and now he is finishing his mission this transfer.

As well, we were able to find one of our investigators that disappeared last week, Antonio Bautizta.  But, we found him and he's doing awesome.  He still is super excited for his baptism and wants to be baptized, which is the thing most important.  But wow, I couldn't believe his living conditions... It's so sad--he has literally nothing in his house.  I'm hoping that he will be able to receive a lot more blessings as he continues is this path.  But, he's so humble and is beyond excited for his baptism.  He asked us if his two younger sons could get baptized with him.  So that will be a special day when all of them get baptized!

As well, we had a family night with the family of Israel and Jessica.  They are a family that we found that are so awesome.  They are loving all of the things that we are teaching and are progressing a lot.  We were able to have a family night with them and our ward mission leader that loves to talk haha.  It ended up being a great night and helped Israel and Jessica a lot.  We just need to get them married, then they will be able to get baptized.

Wiliam, our investigator, is one of the best guys this world has ever seen.  Haha I wish you all could meet him.  He's like 60 years old and the top of his head doesn't have hair, but on the sides he's got like a good fro going.  It's so fun teaching him.  He's such a funny guy.  He's trying to overcome the Word of Wisdom problems and is doing awesome.  He hasn't smoked this entire week and is so excited for his baptism at the end of the month. 

Everything is going good here in Atacames.  Things are progressing.  I just wanted to share one of my favorite verses in the book of 2nd Nephi 25:23:  "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."  Love this verse.  It helps me understand how important it is to put in our part as well.  Ponder this verse this week and see what more you can do.

Love, Elder Copeland

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Week 85 - March 11, 2019

Dear Family,

This week was a super busy week for us.  To start the week, here in Ecuador there is a holiday called Carnaval.  During  Carnaval, all of the people have water balloons and buckets filled with water.  Sometimes they fill them up with paint or oil and the people just throw it on anyone they see in the street. So, Monday and Tuesday we couldn't really leave the house. We just stayed inside and studied haha.  Kind of boring, but it was funny to see all of the people in the street soaking each other with water.

And on Thursday and Friday, we were in Quito because a Seventy came, Elder Calderon.  He is from Peru and was the mission president of the Cali, Columbia mission.  He and his wife did such a good job, and I was able to learn so much from him.  My favorite thing that he taught us was about the Sabbath day and why we have it.  The Lord taught Moses that it was a commandment to keep it holy or in Spanish, It's to SANCTIFY the Sabbath day.  Sanctify means according to the dictionary, "A PROCESS for which a person frees himself from sin and becomes pure, clean, and sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ."  Later on, we learned in the sacrament prayer that it says, "O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and SANCTIFY this bread to all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.  Amen." 

The Sacrament is the PROCESS that have to be better than we were yesterday.  It is so important to understand why we participate in the Sacrament so that we can be clean of all of the sins that have made us be impure or dirty during the week.  Maybe it's not always our sins that make us impure, but it can be the things of the world.  Like spilling ketchup on a white shirt will leave a stain, things of the world leave stains on our soul.  To be able to clean these stains, we must partake of the Sacrament every week and remember that it is a process.  Every time we partake of the Sacrament, we become better and better, more and more like our Savior, because we are literally letting him enter into our lives.

As well, I was able to say bye to my trainer Elder Ayuso for the last time... I'm going to miss him so much.  He helped me so much.  But the good news is that he's coming to the states to study, so I'll be able to see him again!  Also, while I was in Quito, I was able to see some members that were in my old ward.  I missed them so much, honestly some of the best people I've ever met on the planet!

Other than that, we didn't have much time to be able to work in our sector, but we were able to visit one of our investigators name Yoconda.  She is a single mom and has two kids.  One of her kids has the same heart problem that Mason Strickland has, and he's the cutest little guy on the planet.  His name is Mateo.  But we were able to talk to her about baptism and she told us that she would love to be baptized and that she would be willing to do whatever she has to do to get baptized.  So, we were able to put a baptismal date on her which was so awesome and helped us out a lot!  But, other than that, we didn't have too crazy of a week.  We worked hard and were able to see some miracles here in our sector!

But, the biggest news of the week is that the QUITO TEMPLE was approved and they are going to start the construction in May!  I'm so excited!  These people deserve a temple and have worked so hard for it!  I'll send a picture of the most beautiful temple on the planet.

Love you all, Elder Copeland

Week 84 - March 4, 2019

Dear Family, 
Well, this week we had changes and I'm out of the Campo, no more pictures of pigs haha.  We had changes on Thursday because this week is a holiday called Carnaval.  A bunch of people in the street throwing water at people.  
But I'm going to miss the Centenario Ward a lot and the people that we were teaching!  They were amazing people and I was able to learn so much from them.  It was sad saying goodbye to all of them.  But It's weird to see another chapter of my mission finish and even weirder to hear that I'm going into my last chapter, my last area as a missionary.  I'm going to be finishing my mission in the COAST again, but I'll be in the Atacames Branch!  Atacames is so amazing.  It's right on the beach.  It has a lot of tourism for the beautiful beach and it's seafood.  I'm super excited to finish here because there is a lot of potential!

I haven't had a lot of time here, but I have been able to know some of our investigators and they are awesome.  We have an investigator named William. He's got three teeth and he's 50 years old.  He has had some problems with the Word of Wisdom, and we are working with him a lot so that he can overcome that problem and be baptized the end of the month.  The people here are super humble as well, and basically everyone accepts us.  So we have been able to find some amazing people as well this week.

But for Carnaval.  I don't have too much time to write, but next week I'll let you know how the Lord's work is going in Paradise!!

Oh yeah, as well, my new companion is Elder Soriano!!  He's from my group.  He's from Huancayo Peru!!  He's super awesome!  We already know each other pretty well and It's going to be a pretty fun change together!!

This week I wanted to share 3 similar experiences in the scriptures that have called my attention about how God sees us.
The first is in Moses 6:31-34:

"And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying:  Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?  And the Lord said unto Enoch:  Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee.  Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.  Say unto this people:  Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you."

The Second is in Jeremiah 1: 5-9:

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God!  behold I cannot speak: for I am a child.  But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I commanded thee thou shalt speak.  Be not afraid of their faces:  for I am with thee to deliver thee saith the Lord.  Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth.  And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.  See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms..."

And the last is in Exodus 4: 10-13:

"And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant:  but I am slow of Speech, and of a slow tongue.  And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind?  have not I the Lord?  Now therefore GO, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.  And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send."

I have been thinking a lot about these three examples.  People that were weak, slow, uneducated, low of confidence, doubting themselves and God called them to guide all of his children back to his presence.  And I think why?  First things first.  God knew us before we came here like he says in Jeremiah.  He knows our potential.  He knows who we are and his knows what challenges we can overcome.  He knows what afflictions will make us stronger.  He sees us how we really are, as children of God.  And he treats us as if we are his children.  He sees that just like Moses, Enoch, and Jeremiah that we can as well be excellent leaders, friends, parents, workers, etc.  I feel God knew that they weren't his best options to be prophets, but these amazing prophets were able to become successful even despite their weaknesses. 
I challenge every one of us to as well, treat others as they really are and look at their potential in what they can become.  Everyone has weaknesses, but God knows us by name and knows what we can become.  Look for someone who maybe feels like these prophets, weak, slow, low of confidence, and give them some counsel, love, and confidence, so they as well, can reach their eternal potential.
Elder Copeland
PS  Also, when I got here on Thursday, I found out that one of my investigators in the coast was going to get baptized on Saturday, so I was able to see her be baptized and visit my old sector.  So cool, SO HAPPY!