Friday, September 16, 2016

Mission Complete

Well, this is it. I've enjoyed keeping this blog for Jake over the past 2 years. I have felt a little like I've also been doing missionary work by sharing Jake's journey with all of you. If you would like to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) click on the "I am Mormon" picture in the sidebar. God bless.

 Lot's of love for Elder Welch from grandparents,
aunts, uncles, and cousins :)
(and one awesome friend who was the cameraman. Thanks, Mike!)

The family all together again! My happy place :)
(Dad-Terry, Mom-Wendy, Sister-Tayler and Brother-in-law, Stephen)

Monday, September 5, 2016

08-29-16 to 09-05-16 Last Email

Well here I am.  This last week was my last week working and this week is my last one as a missionary. It's kind of a bummer that since i'm a zone leader I lose my last week of the mission to meetings, but what ever.  I will go and I will do what the Lord commands. 

In this email, I don't really want to do a day by day of my last week.  Just know that I worked HARD, and have stayed busy to the last second. 
I just want to thank everyone that's kept up with me for these 23 months.  (i wish i could say 2 years but the visa won't let me haha).
I'm so grateful that I've been given the opportunity to serve God, my brothers and sisters for this time.  I've always remembered hearing that the mission is the best 2 years.  I used to think that phrase meant the "best 2 years of my life".  But to be honest, that's not true.  The mission has been hard!  I've walked, struggled with personal weaknesses, i've had to learn to be clean, obedient, to be a leader, to talk with strangers, to teach as the Lord teaches, and it has been hard!  But it's been worth it!  now i understand that it has really been the best 2 years.  not of my life, but FOR my life.  I've changed and grown to the point i feel like I'm more like my Savior.  I'm not even close but I know the things i've learned and become will help me with my work, my family, the friends, and EVERYTHING i need to do in my life. 

So thank you all for supporting me.  Please don't glorify me for my service, but glorify the Lord.  It was all for him. 

So I'll see you all next week in Utah

Elder Welch

 "Chillin with the paper mache heads"


 "The Quenguan Family"

 "The best mission leader I've had and his wife"

 "Pinina the dog!"

"The Galarzaga Family!"

Monday, August 29, 2016

08-22-16 to 08-29-16 The Muñoz family's baptism!

PHEW!  This week was a stressful one.  But it ended great because the MUÑOZ FAMILY GOT BAPTIZED!  SO HAPPY! 

So Monday, we met with the Muñoz mom and her daughters and talked about their baptism and the mom said that for her, Saturday was a NO MATTER WHAT.  So while repassing the baptismal questions, we came across one that she had to talk with the Patriarch (as assigned by president). We were happy she said something so we could get them all good to go before Saturday!

Tuesday we couldnt meet with The Muñoz's but we met with E. He's not doing so good... he's been getting really bad depression lately which is sad because he's usually really happy and annoying! haha we love him a lot.  So he made the decision to get profession help in the Mental hospital in Pasto

Wednesday we called and set up everything for the Muñoz family to get interviewed that night.  When they showed up, the mom went straight with the patriarch and we stayed with the 2 girls.  But when i asked who wanted to go first, one girl said "my dad doesn't get here until Sunday... and he still doesn't want me to get baptized..." I WAS SO MAD!  He said he'd get here Thursday!  But we still did their interviews and obviously they did great. 

Thursday we worked all day but around 6:30pm, Elder Miranda got sick with some food poisoning and was basically in the bathroom the rest of the day. 

Friday we met with the Muñoz family and it was a basically "well?  Are you gonna do it or are you not gonna do it?" lesson.  The mom expressed to us that she's felt like EVERYTHING has been against her since she's made the decision to be baptized.  Her friends mock her for not wanting to go to clubs anymore, her fiancè was being a jerk about it, saying he was against it, and her job has been REALLY demanding lately. So I read the Scripture in 1 Nephi 14 that says:

12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the  face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.

14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

I explained that as members of the Church, Satan is going to do everything he can to make us falter, but that God's power and glory is over us.  And the end of the night, all 3 made the right decision. They all decided to get baptized!

Saturday was their baptism!  But the trials weren't over... we told all the members to come at 5:30pm and told the Muñoz family 6 because the members here always come late. Well it didnt work. it was 6:30, Andrea and her girls were waiting for half an hour and 2 members showed up. We didnt even have a priesthood holder to start. At 6:45 FINALLY the 1st counselor came. I was so ticked. Andrea looked worried and kind of sad. How embarrassing. But we started and everything turned out okay. I got to baptize all 3! (Vivian twice because i said her name wrong haha)
They were all SO happy!

Sunday they got confirmed!

This was my last baptism in the mission.  And if there's something that i've learned in my mission, there doesn't exist easy baptisms. There is ALWAYS opposition. But if we're faithful, Satan NEVER wins. I'm so grateful i've been able to help these souls come unto Christ. But i'm not done, i still have 2 weeks to find people! 

This is basically my last week in the mission because next week I'll be in Cali everyday besides Monday and Friday. It's been real. 
Love you all!
Elder Welch

 "Filling up the font!"

 "Waiting for the font to fill up"

 "All in white!!"
(Elder Welch's mom can't quit smiling :) 
Can it get any better than this?)

 "with the sign"

"With their family"

Monday, August 22, 2016

08-15-16 to 08-22-16 Finding and teaching

So this week has been a good one!  We're finally starting to find new people and have cool experiences again! 

Monday night while we waited for Elder Vallena's companion to arrive, we were in trio until late.  We taught one of his investigators because our appointments fell, and he had an important one set.  We talked baptism with one of his investigators named Je that's been progressing a lot more.  It was a good lesson, but she's not ready.  She doesn't have much of a testimony of the Book of Mormon which is kind of important. 
That night while walking, we saw the son of some members (He's like 30 and i think he has autism) and he was chasing some people down the hill!  He got down and picked up a HUGE rock and hucked it and almost hit a truck!  The truck swerved to dodge it and i thought it was gonna roll on that hill!  Crazy stuff!  I never did find out why that was happening haha.

Tuesday was a good day.  We had our last correlation meeting with our mission leader because they're already releasing him!  I'm ticked!  He's the best leader ive had in my whole mission and they only had him in for a month!  or less!  But hey, it's because he has a stake calling in seminary.  That afternoon, a rich member that has a strip mall in the main plaza asked for a blessing because i guess he had a sketchy experience that night with an evil spirit or something and he said it left him with a weird weak feeling over him.  That night was supposed to be the Muñoz's baptismal interview, but the mom came and said that her fiancé didnt want to give permission for the daughters to get baptized until he comes from Bogota next week.  He really wants to be there.  So we're gonna wait another week.... sigh. 

Wednesday we did house revisions.  My last one!  It's always fun revising houses, i feel like a cop. We found some movies, books (not approved books) and stuff like that.  Normally the missionaries arent very pleased when we take their things but hey, gotta do it.  what ever!  Obedience is better than popularity! 

Thursday we had a ton of appointments!  busy all day!  We're getting really close to reactivating a family, and E is REALLY close to being registered as a member.  We have his pictures and the witnesses and everything (from his original baptism).  We're excited!  That night we visited the Muñoz family and resolved some doubts that her husband had.  Stuff like "in what name are my daughters getting baptized!? JOSEPH SMITH'S?!" haha people always condemn doctrines they have no idea about.

Friday we had a lesson with a family we contacted in the street the other day named Ja and Y. Turns out Ja was baptized in 2004!  They're super cool and really open.  He wants to get back into the church and wants his family to learn about it too.  We're excited about them!  That afternoon we taught a new kid we met the other day and I guess he's from this weird church called "Light of the World" that believes in an apostle named Nason Joaquin Garcia.  They believe stuff like how women need to cover their heads when they pray and that they shouldn't play instruments and stuff.  The lesson ended up with him trying to teach us instead of the other way around.

Saturday was good, we had a lot of lessons.  Nothing too crazy.  We taught the Muñoz family and they've been studying all the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon!  Just getting prepared! 

Sunday was alright, we didn't have many people come to church.  Everyone had problems and couldn't come.  Kind of a bummer but what can you do?  we only had a few lessons yesterday.  We met a new kid ALSO from the "Light of the World" but we took the "Here's the Book of Mormon, pray about it" approach to avoid contending over doctrine.  We also taught the Muñoz family about the different stuff in the church to help people endure to the end and they seemed pretty content.  

Today we played soccer and i did some souvenir shopping.  I can't believe I only have 3 weeks left.  Kind of freaks me out, but I'll staying strong.  Not getting trunky haha.  Love you all!  There's my week!

Elder Welch

Monday, August 15, 2016

08-07-16 to 08-15-16 Leadership Council and the Muñoz's baptism prep!

This week has been pretty good!  Only bummer was losing 3 days to leadership council but that's just part of being a zone leader. 

Monday night we had a really good lesson with the Muñoz family.  So we showed up, expecting to just teach them, but their land lord and her family were there talking with them about some problems they had with the neighbor.  When they all started going, the mom was like "NO STAY!  Sit down and listen for a minute!" So they all stayed and we taught about the Sabbath day.  The mom was all sharing her testimony with them and stuff and the whole family was just super happy!  She is honestly super strong in her conversion at this point! 

Tuesday bright and early, we went to the station and took our 12 hour bus to Cali.  Like always... long.  Haha. 

Wednesday was Leadership Council.  It was really good.  President shared with us the story of the young rich man in Mark 10 that asked "what lack I yet?" and how the Lord asked him to sell all his possessions and consagrate (Spanish for: "devote yourself") his life to the ministry of Jesus Christ.  President told us that we need to do the same, and leave behind all our weaknesses, and worldly desires to be consagrated ministers of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I really liked it. 

Thursday we got on our bus and headed back to Ipiales.  But BLECK it took SO long!  There was another protest/blockade in Popayan (3 hours south of Cali) so instead of taking 3 hours to get there, it took 10 hours.  Since a good few hours was completely dead in traffic, the whole bus got off in a village called "Tunia" in the department of Cauca.  We just chilled out until the police sorted everything out.  The whole bus ride took 17 hours.  Safe to say i was tired.

Friday I was kind of stressed for the billion things we had to organize in the zone but we got everything sorted out and up to date and got to teach.  Some good news is E has his baptismal pictures from when he was 8 so we just need some of the witnesses that were present in his baptism to officially re-register him as member!  We're excited we've made that step! 

Saturday I gave my last zone meeting.  Hard for me to accept or even realize but i did it.  It went well, good teaching, videos, powerpoints, participation etc.  Saturday we honestly didn't have many lessons but me and my comp made an extra effort to contact all the families that we came across.  We found some REALLY solid families!  We're excited about them! Honestly lately it's been getting harder to not be just a little bit trunky, but working hard has kept me on track :) 

Sunday the Muñoz family all came to church which means they're all on track for their baptism Friday!  That night we visited them and passed over the baptism plans and the interview they're gonna have Tuesday with Elder Bennett.  The mom took advantage of the time to resolve ALL her doubts.  We repassed Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, tithing and the word of wisdom.  All set!  She said she's been having a lot of challenges lately tempting her to get discouraged about her decision, but she's kept firm in her faith.  Their baptism will be Friday at 6pm.  Pray that all will go well! 

Something sad is that Last night, the assistants called to inform me of an "extra-official transfer."  Elder Guedes got sent to Cali for his last 4 weeks.  Kind of awful to do that to him especially because this weekend he had 2 baptisms, but the Lord knows what he's doing.

So all is well, and I'm happy!  Love you all!  Have a great week!

Elder Welch
When I wrote Jake this week I told him his expected homecoming date for Sacrament Meeting (September 18th). He said he wants to give a "killer talk" :) and he also said, "i'm kinda nervous about the whole English thing though haha wednesday i talked to a sister senior missionary from Provo, and it was SO hard to talk in a polite and formal manner in English! im used to talking to missionaries is all in English, and we usually talk like good friends mixed with Colombian phrases in spanglish haha like "sup bro, good or what?" hahaha

Monday, August 8, 2016

08-01-16 to 08-08-16 Last new start with Elder Miranda

Well, this week was my last new start with a new comp.  And i'm not gonna lie, it's been challenging! 

Monday night Elder Miranda arrived from Cali around 10:30pm.  He's from Arequipa Peru, and we get along pretty well!  He's got a good sense of humor, and is obedient, and takes the initiative in many occasions.  I don't have any reason to complain! 

Tuesday we started our first real day of the transfer working.  We had a few lessons, in particular, one with a less active named Brother Q.  He's a pretty good dude, just kind of distanced because he lives in a sort of tucked away place on the edge of the city, where no one visits and he lives alone.  So we're gonna start working with him to get him all happy again.  We also visited with E.  He's not doing so good.  He's out of work and is scared for the future.  So we had to share about overcoming times of trouble.  He's doing a bit better now. 

Wednesday was one of those slow days that doesn't really happen too often.  We walked all over the city knocking on every door that i remotely remember Elder Herrera taking me to, and we found NO ONE.  We did get to teach San a bit about the scriptures and teach the Muñoz family about the Family Proclamation to the World.  San isn't progressing very well, and i'm afraid we may not keep teaching him.  He's a tough egg to crack.  The Muñoz family is still doing very very well!  They're 100 % excited for their baptism the 20th of this month!  Pray for them so that everything goes smoothly! 

Thursday was rough.  So to avoid walking as much as we did Wednesday, we decided to look for some new people using the "potential investigators" form left in the area book.  We are just having such a hard time finding people in their houses in the afternoon!  NO ONE in Ipiales likes to stay in their houses in the afternoon.  But we just keep searching and contacting!

Friday was a lot better.  We had the chance to have quite a few more lessons.  One in particular we taught the family we found last Sunday.  They're a good family, but the mom is one of those SUPER dramatic Christians that is way over the top and tries too hard.  It's kind of frustrating because she makes the things harder than they are.  We tried teaching the Restoration.  But she kept changing the subject and kept talking about the drug addicts in the street.  But we're gonna keep trying with them because they're a married couple which is rare in Colombia hahaha. 

Saturday was interesting haha we started the day doing service in an English institute.  An eternal investigator from the Ipiales ward that i met when i started the mission asked for my help, so i went and they had the students ask me all sorts of questions in English to practice like "what is the main dish in Utah"  and i answered stuff like "hamburgers and pizza".  Nahh just kidding haha i said strawberries and honey are the 2 biggest.  right? 

Sunday was great! We had 8 investigators come to church, among them the Muñoz family. Made us happy!  haha but i witnessed first hand an act of pure apostasy.  In the announcements the branch counselor said "as the first of the month we're going to "present" the new children." (he meant bless when he said present.  I don't know where got present from). So E, our investigator that got baptized as a kid but they lost his records got excited because it was the first time he had brought his little boy to church!  So he got up and took his son to the front and all the priesthood leaders sat him down! Next thing i know, they're having E put his hands on his sons head! Assuming he's a member! When they realized he didnt know how to bless, the counselor offered to bless him. But E stood in the circle. Elder Miranda and I were shocked and embarrassed and didn't know what to do.  Stand up and say NOOOO or stay quiet? But it happened. APOSTASY! 
But hey it was an interesting week. 

Pray for us so we can find new people, we're trying really hard!  But i know the Lord will bless us. We're busy, happy and obedient. That's really all the Lord asks of us. 
Love you all!  HAVE A GREAT WEEK!

Elder Welch

 "Last pic with the zone! Transfer day!"

 "The streets of Ipiales"

 "The Nariño country side"

"Me and Elder Miranda"

Monday, August 1, 2016

07-25-16 to 08-01-16 See ya Herrera, hey Miranda

So this was the last week of Elder Herrera, so not gonna lie... kinda trunky.  Everything we did was like a glimpse into my future in 6 weeks. 

Monday we started good finding a new investigator that happens to be from my old area in Pasto!  Elder Roman is teaching his wife!  He's a really good man, and has a lot of desire to change.  I hope we can help him!  I also got GREAT news from Pasto!  Alvaro and Nora, the couple i was teaching in Pasto got baptized!  I'm so happy!

Tuesday We had interviews with president.  It was interesting because we had to do it over Skype due to the distance.  That took just about all day because we as zone leaders had to wait until EVERYONE was done.  Long day! Also, Cris is doing really well.  She wants to get baptized so we need some prayers to soften her husbands heart so they can get married!

Wednesday we had interviews via skype and they took all morning.  I'm starting to feel like an experienced missionary because everything they taught us we're already doing.  Veterans!  That day we also had to do some boring errands, and take pics of all the missionaries houses to show sister Pricoli that theyre cleaning haha its like large scale baby sitting.  Some good news is the Munoz mom told us that she's GETTING MARRIED!! she told her fiancè "if you wanna marry me, you need to come to church with me" and he accepted.  I LOVE ETERNAL FAMILIES!

Thursday we had our last district meeting all together , and we had a branch activity.  Turns out, the whole branch planned a surprise "goodbye party" for Elder Herrera.  It was touching, especially because all our investigators shared how much we changed their lives.  I'M SO GRATEFUL!

Friday was Elder Herrera's last day.  So we basically ran all over saying bye to everyone, writing letters, rushing last minute prep errands etc etc.  Safe to say i was FULL from all the food haha. 

Saturday we said bye to Elder Herrera bright and early.  He's been a good comp.  Now his day has come.  Scaryy!! So I stayed all day with Elder Montgomery and we helped some other missionaries with a baptism that night.  The zone is having lot's of success!! 

Sunday was kind of a bummer... no one came to church!  But they all had good excuses.  Sadly we have to bump the Muñoz' families date back a week.  But Sunday the transfers came!  Half the zone left, and now my last comp is Elder Miranda.  Still don't know him, he gets here at 9 tonight, but it's official. 

Today starts the first day of my last transfer.  Holy cow.  I just wanna let you all know, that all i know how to do is be a missionary, and i'll keep doing what missionaries do until they tell me to stop.  I'm gonna work SO HARD this transfer.  For the glory of the Lord! 
Elder Welch

 "House revisions haha"
(I think this is the "take pics of all the missionaries 
houses" he referred to. Looks like he made the best of it.)

 "The Galàn District"

 "YUMMY!  COW CUTS!  (that's the tongue in my left hand)"

"us and the cemetery behind us" 

 "Knocking doors!"

 "Your typical "Mission walking pic""

 "Plaza 20 de Julio"

"Bye E'Herrera!"