Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Week 96 - May 27, 2019

Hello, Family, 

Honestly, not going to lie, this was just a long week haha.
Not because it was bad or anything, just kind of felt like a longer week.  I'm kind of sick of eating rice every single day. But we were able to have some little miracles.  We found out that our investigator, Cristian, moved in with his ex girlfriend again and that we had to change his baptismal date... It kind of bugged me... But we went back to go and teach him and we asked them if they are ready to get married.  They are planning on getting married on Tuesday so that Christian can get baptized this Friday!  A miracle that we feel like will be able to bless his family so much.

As well, we found out that Israel and Jessing went to go get a lawyer by themselves so that they can get married.  I don't really know how it works, all I know is that we need to basically just wait until the judge comes to sign the paper.  It's kind of scaring me a little because I only got a little more left here in Atacames, and I have been waiting for them to get married and baptized for so long... Praying that God blesses them!

This last week we went and looked for an old investigator, Lola.  She almost got baptized in November but couldn't because her family didn't really support her.  This week, we had plans to put another baptismal date on her and she told us that she knew that the church was true and that she needs to get baptized.  She told us that she is going to let her husband know to see if she can get married in June!!  We are hoping that her husband has changed a little because the last time is was a little harder for him to accept.

But we are super excited because we should be having two baptisms this next coming week, hoping that everything goes well with Christian and Moises!

As I was studying the Book of Mormon this week, I was able to read a bunch of the teachings of Alma the younger that he gives to the Zoramites.  In chapter 34, he talks about the need for a Savior and the Atonement.  He explains in verses 9-10:  "For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which is expedient should be made.  For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice."  Our Heavenly Father loved and loves us to give us his own son.  His son was loving enough to be this Savior for us, sinners, unbelievers, natural man.  How lucky we are to have this understanding in our lives.

6. I feel like one of the most important lessons that I have learned over the past two years is that as much as I would like to, I just can't control everything... Here I was able to know so many families, members, and people that could have been so blessed.  They simply just didn't really do there part, so many other people could have been blessed if they would have just applied the things that we teach them...But at the end of the day, we just can't control everything, at the end of the day we can just invite and encourage the people to change their lives.  This had to be one of the hardest lessons that I learned here in the mission, but I feel like it will be one of the biggest blessings that I will have in the future.

Elder Copeland

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Week 95 - May 20, 2019

Dear Family,

Well, this week went by super fast! It feels like just yesterday I was just talking to you guys… Everything is going by way too fast. Ammon and Daxton are already home, which just shocks me… But this week was honestly a super chill week for us.  We went to Quito this week and had my companion's first verifications and interviews with President.  I can’t believe I only have one more interview with him… I’m going to miss having the monthly interview with him.  He is such an amazing and inspired man.  As well, got to see Elder Harris again.

But, for here in the sector, we were able to have a pretty good day here in the coast.  We were able to teach all of our people with date.  Christian is doing well, but is passing through some challenges as of right now which just makes me kind of sad,  I really hope everything turns out okay for him.  It’s kind of frustrating for us because there is just honestly nothing that we can do… We are just hoping that his ex-wife can figure things out with him…

With Moises, we passed by and taught him and his mom and he is super excited to be baptized at the end of the month. They shared with us an experience on how they helped their dad so he wouldn’t drink alcohol haha.  It made me so happy to hear that they are watching out for their dad and helping him be a better person and to continue to follow Christ.  So sad to see the way people live here, they have nothing…

So something that I just hate about Ecuador is that they make it so hard for someone to get married.  They have been in the process of trying to get married for a little bit.  We got the number of a lawyer and he just isn’t really helping us out. It’s kind of been driving me crazy.  They are so close to be able to get married and baptized, they just need to figure out this process and get them there.  But we were able to pass by their house and talk to them about the story of Peter on the water and how we need to have a little more faith and always trust in the Lord.  Hopefully, we figure out this process of marriage this next coming week…

As for something that I learned this week, as I was reading in the New Testament, I came across the story of the young rich boy.  The Young Rich Boy is a good person.  He asks Christ what he lacks to enter into the kingdom of God.  God tells him that he must keep the commandments.  The rich boy later tells Christ that he has been doing that since he was a kid.  Than Christ gives him an answer on what else he lacks. He tells him that he must sell his riches and give it to the poor and follow him… The young man walked away a little bugged, knowing that he had to do something pretty difficult.  I love this story.  I don’t feel like the young man was bad in anyway.  He simply asked God what else he had to do to able to enter the kingdom of God.  The problem is that he received an answer that he didn’t expect, something that he truly felt like he couldn’t complete and he didn’t… How can we be a little better?  I feel like everyone in some point in their life will have to ask God what they lack… How is it that we can prepare ourselves to receive the answer that Christ will give us and follow him.

For my last seven weeks, I’m going to share the seven most important lessons that I have learned in the mission.

7. One of the best things that I feel like I’ve learned here in the mission is the fact the hard is good.  In the mission, I can’t even count on how many bad days I have had here haha. The majority of the mission is super hard, to be honest… I’ve had some hard companions, hard areas, hard wards, and etc.  But looking back at everything I have gone through, I have become such a better person through all my trials and tests that I have come through.  When I was set apart as a missionary, it tells me “the Lord loves you enough to also provide some challenges.  Times that you reflect back on your life and the times that you have grown the most are the times you have worked through challenges, questions, and issues.” I know that after the mission it won’t be any easier and that the trials will continue to come.  I’m so thankful that I have learned the true importance that  Hard is Good.

Elder Copeland

Monday, May 20, 2019

Week 94 - May 13, 2019

Dear Family,

Well, I guess another week went by again... So crazy, but honestly, this week was the biggest blur ever.  It passed by super fast.  We were super busy.  Also, I was able to talk to Mom yesterday for Mothers' Day.  So weird, I miss her so much and I'm so grateful for her.  Thanks for being the most beautiful mom on the planet.  Also I got to see Otto, so cute, I'll be there soon little guy!;)

Starting off with Israel and Jessica.  We were able to visit them and talk to them a lot about marriage, and they are super excited.  We explained to them about what they have to do to get married.  They went there later on and it turns out they have to get even more documents because Jessica has 2 kids from a different parent.... They explained us that the process to do these papers could take awhile... So annoying, I don't understand like 90 percent of Ecuador's rules.  They are just the worst...  But keep praying for them so that can get married soon and get baptized.  They are so close...

As well, we passed by and were able to teach Christian and talk to him about his baptism, and he is super excited.  He told us about how hard it has been for him these past couple weeks.  His wife just decided out of nowhere that she doesn't want to live with him and moved away with his son.  Now he just lives with two kids and is barley making any money... And so much more, it's just super sad to see good people like him go through so much.  But we were able to talk to him a lot about our Plan that God has for us and get him a little more excited about everything.  He was willing to do everything he needed to!

Other than that, this week we had to help Elder Bogren moved down to his sector which was kind of a pain in the butt... Because they live an hour and half away from our sector and they live on an island, so it just made everything super complicated.  But we finally got them down there.  I'm going to miss living four people in one house.  It was a good time being with them.  But we were able to do divisions down there in their sector, Muisne, which was pretty fun.  It's always fun getting to know new sectors!

Zone Conference was this past week as well.  We were able to see President and Sister Murphy again, which is always the highlight of every transfer.  We talked a lot about praying with faith and the blessings that come from praying with faith. Super good!  I was able to learn a lot!  After, we went to the house of some investigators that are interested in a church. They live in honestly the poorest circumstances I've ever seen in my life.  I took a picture of it just so you guys can see how sad it is.  The two-year old little baby is sleeping on a cardboard box with 100s of flies just flying around him.  They only have enough to eat once a day.  The only thing they eat is the fish that they sometimes catch every morning.... So sad...

This week I was studying in "Come, Follow Me," and I was reading in Luke 15 where it talks about three Parables or stories:  The lost Coin, the lost sheep, and the Prodigal Son. The three stories have a lot of similarities.  All of them include something being lost and found.  Also, they talk about how they were found and how the people react to them being found.  I love the fact that it all includes the message of something being lost, because at some point in each of our lives, I feel like we all will feel lost.  Maybe we are lost like the coin, or a sheep going astray for the path, or even sometimes just making wrong decisions like the prodigal son.  But the message is that each one of us can repent and come back to righteousness or the light of Christ.  God doesn't want a single soul to be lost forever.  Remember verse 10: "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repeneth."  If you know anyone is lost, may we have the love that the father of the Prodigal son had as he "had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." There are way too many people who are lost that need to come back.  We just need to be more like the father and have compassion, rather than the older brother and have anger.

As well, on Sunday, I was able to talk to Angel and Ximena.  They were the very first family that I knew here in Ecuador. They explained to me how many trials they have been going through and have realized that the only way that they are going to be happy here is if they get baptized and married in the temple.  Talked to the Madruñero family as well and Christian is getting ready to do his mission papers and leave at Christmas!!  I love these people so much!

Love you all, Elder Copeland

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Week 93 - May 6, 2019

Dear Family,

Well, this week my old companion, Elder Fernandez, finished his mission, which now makes us our group the oldest group in the entire mission.  Super weird to think that, that the next time someone in our mission goes home, it's us.  Time is just going by way too fast...

But, this week, honestly wasn't that special or crazy.  We were able to start the week finding a lot of new investigators with potential that are from Columbia.  When I was with Elder Vega the other week, we just talked to them outside their house to see if they would be interested.  Now, this week, we passed and were able to teach them about the Book of Mormon, which got them excited.  They now have a lot of potential.  We are hoping that this next week we will be able to help them be a little closer to their Savior.

As well, we were able to do a family night with Christian Chichande and his family and teach them about the Plan of Salvation.  It was a great lesson.  Christian is super excited for his baptism.  That is basically all he talks about when he is with us.  As well, it's bringing more unity in the family which is an even bigger blessing.

Israel and Jessica are doing great.  We were able to do a lot of follow up with their marriage that they are going to do at the end of the month.  They are super excited, as well... We have been getting super worried that one day they will just decide that they should get married later.  But, we feel like they are locked in on getting baptized and married at the end of the month!  They keep on surprising us with how much they are learning.  They have been such a blessing for us. Keep praying for them so that they can continue to progress.

As well, the past week we had found a family that is super interested in the church.  I guess that they kind of found us. But we went and taught them two times this week and one of the kids was super interested in our message.  All of them want to get baptized.  Some of them aren't married, so it will be a longer process than we like.  But the rest are super excited!  But, wow!  I don't think I've ever seen anyone live in such poor circumstances in my life... They have a little house that is constructed super bad that doesn't have water or light... They live outside the house for the fear that it's going to fall over and they eat maybe once a day... So sad, sometimes I wish I can do more to help the people out here. So sad... 

But, other than that, honestly not much happened.  All of our investigators are progressing well, and we are working super hard.  This week in "Come Follow Me," I loved the story about the woman caught in adultery.  It's in John 8: 3-5, 7, 9-11:   "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that we such should be stoned: But what sayest thou?  So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."  

In "Come Follow Me," it has a little quote from Elder Renlund that says, sorry if its wrong I'm translating from Spanish:  "The Savior did not accept the sin of adultery, but neither did he condemn the woman, but what he did was encourage the woman to reform or change her life.  She was able to change her life thanks to the compassion and mercy of Him."  It says in the Joseph Smith Translation that "the woman glorified God since that hour, and believed in his name."  I love that comment, I love the attribute of Christ that he doesn't condemn us, but he invites us to be better and be a little more like him.  Think about that this week.

Elder Copeland

Friday, May 3, 2019

Week 92 - April 29, 2019

Dear Family,

We started this week going to one of our investigators, Cristian, to talk to him about his baptism and some of the commandments.  He is doing super well.  He told us about how excited he was to be able get baptized on his birthday at the end of the month.  Later on, they found out that my companion is a vet, so they asked him to help out one of their little puppies that had a hole in his elbow... So gross.  And inside the hole, there had to have been 30 or more little worms crawling inside of this puppy, and he took out every single one of them.  So gross, put pretty cool haha.

Later on in the week, we decided to go to Elder Bogren's sector, Muisne.  It's just a little island.  We went there and did some service picking up a bunch of trash in the streets, and it was pretty gross.  Many people just don't really take care of their things here.  We found a bunch of cow skulls, shoes, and clothes basically dug into the ground.  But we were able to help a bunch of people out cleaning up their houses and everything.

I was able to do divisions with Elder Vega again here in Atacames.  It was pretty fun to be with him and Elder Bogren in the same house, all of us being from the same group. Elder Vega and I were able to have a good day helping out one of our investigators with date as well, finding some new ones.  But it was a pretty solid day.  We finished the day with a lesson on the beach while the sun was setting.

But the highlight of the week was the baptism on the beach. In Elder Bogren's sector, there is not a baptismal font so they have to baptize in the ocean.  So Elder Bogren's comp didn't feel really well, so I was able to go down there and baptize with Elder Bogren, an unforgettable moment.  It was kind of hard to baptize with the waves in the storm, but it was a day that was super special.

This Sunday, also, was a super good day but we, also, had some pretty sad news.  After church, we got together with six members of the ward and did some divisions to visit as many members as we could.  I went with the Branch President and we were able to visit my convert Antonio.  We found out that he had drunk the other day and it was so sad to see how it affected him... We later gave him a blessing of comfort and strength for him to be able to overcome the temptation that he has been having.  As well, we passed by Christian our investigator with date, and the first thing he told us is how excited he was to be baptized on his birthday and that we are going to do a Family Night later on this next coming week.  As well, we were able to find some more new investigators that are super excited, and we visited Israel and Jessica with basically the entire ward, which was awesome.  There is so much potential here!:)

This week, I finished reading the Book of Mormon again and it always is such an amazing experience.  I really focused on how the prophets reacted to their trials and the faith and the patience they had with themselves, with others, and with God.  I feel like it was a good way to realize how important it is to have patience in the moments of affliction.  I think two of the best examples are Nephi with his last words of 2nd Nephi saying, "and I must obey" as well with Moroni in Mormon 8:3, "And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain ALONE to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But Behold, they are gone, and I fulfill the commandment of my father.  And whether they will slay me, I know not."  Those are two passages super important to me and help me understand that blessings that come for being obedient.  But it doesn't mean that our path becomes a lot easier.  We just become a lot stronger.

Love, Elder Copeland 

Week 91 - April 22, 2019

Dear Family,

Yeah, so a lot has happened this past week... Starting off, I went up to Quito to be able to receive my companion, and my last companion haha.  His name is Elder Cruz.  He is 26 and from La Paz, Bolivia.  He is a convert to the Church and is super excited to be here in the mission.  He is awesome and is already teaching me so many things.  I'm excited for this time that we have together.  He's honestly like the nicest guy on the planet.  

After, we had to stay the night in Quito and I was able to visit some of the members in Quito.  I miss them so much.  They are the best people on the planet.

Also, Connor is now 24!  Happy birthday, Connor.  Love you!

But, let's see.  Also, this week we had the interview of Yoconda and found out that there are some things she has to figure out before she gets baptized.. Kind of a bummer, to be honest.  We were working super hard with her, but it requires a lot of patience and faith.  We are hoping that everything is going to be okay and that she can get baptized in the future.

We were able to put another baptismal date with one of our investigators named Cristian Chichande.  He has been going through a lot of hard things these past couple weeks... He wanted to get baptized over a year ago but wasn't able to because he had some family problems he needed to fix.  But, we went to his house this week and asked him if he's ready and he told us that he wants to get baptized May 31st,  his birthday!!  Such a miracle!  We are so excited for him and his decision to get baptized.  Everybody has their own time!

With Israel and Jessica, we were able to visit them and talk a lot more about their wedding date, and they told us that the end of May is when they want to get married, later baptized!! Ahh, I'm so excited for them.  They are so amazing and prepared.  They were so excited to tell us that they finally are going to get married.  They have been telling us what parts they have been reading in the Book of Mormon.  It's crazy that they already have read all of 1st Nephi... Everything's going well with them.  We are hoping that it stays like that, keep praying!

We were able to find a lot of new people as well this week that have a potential.  We are going to see what we can do to help them out this next coming week!  We are doing super good and excited for all of the potential we have here in Atacames.  Everything is going well.  I'm excited and my comp is awesome.  So there is nothing to complain about. While I was in Quito, I was able to visit a lot of the members and investigators that I met while I was there.  They are the best people ever, I miss them so much.:( Can't wait to see them again.

Oh, as well, Elder Bogren has been living with me for the last week.  Haha  He's opening up a new sector here in the Coast and is looking for a new house.  Life is good!

Elder Copeland