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!"

Monday, July 25, 2016

07-18-16 to 07-25-16 Reunion in Ipiales!

This week has been a good one!  Not as rad as the last, but at the same time great haha.

Monday we had a great lesson with the Muñoz family!  They're just SO excited to be baptized and the mom said that when we knocked on her door, she was passing through some REALLY hard trials and strong feelings of loneliness.  so she KNOWS it was from God.  We're so grateful!

Tuesday was good.  Full of lessons.  Sadly that same day i got a weird zit inside my nose wayyy back that decided to get infected so my nose was BRIGHT red hahaha I felt like rudolph.  How embarrassing.  Elder Reeve, an Elder in my zone called it "Snake Repellent" haha! 

Wednesday we had divisions with Elder Reeve and Elder Mayorga from the Fronterra area.  It was Colombia's independence day, so there were a TON of soldiers in the main plaza with tanks.  Pretty cool, wish i brought my camera with me!  One of the tank drivers is a member!  We also had a branch activity that day.  It was a "field day" type event but indoors because of the rain and cold.  That night Elder Reeve and I went to the Gua family and tried to get them on a date for baptism, but they still don't feel ready.  That night we chilled out in the apartment and played guitar.  it was cool because Elder Reeve and I like the EXACT same music.  He's even heard of the Moth & the Flame! 

Thursday a good part of the day we went with President Pico, from Bogotá visiting the youth of Ipiales.  He's in charge of Seminaries and Institutes in Colombia and travels ALL over trying to get the youth to go to their classes!  That night we visited with Cris and she's doing really well.  She accepted to be baptized, but she's not married to her husband so we're gonna have to work on that first. 

Friday I woke up and my eye was completely swollen shut!  The day before I had a zit thing (now i think it might've been a bite) below my eyebrow, and it HURT! So i called sister Pricoli and went to the hospital.  It was rad because I ran into Brother Diaz, my first branch president in the mission (he's a doctor) so he took me to a doctor, got me a diagnostic and some prescriptions all free!  What a score!  So the rest of the day i felt kind of goofy, haha.  Worst yet, I ran into a LOT of people that i havent seen since i started the mish. 

Saturday my eye was a lot better, and I could finally teach without people bothering me haha.  All day we commited people to coming to church and had some family home evenings.

Sunday was the type of Sunday missionaries dream of haha.  The Muñoz family came to church and this time stayed the 3 hours.  They all loved it, especially the 16 year old.  She said "I LOVED THE CLASSES I WANT TO GET BAPTIZED NOW!!!" music to a missionaries ears!  That night we taught them and they're progressing so much.  as soon as they heard about the Word of Wisdom, coffee is PROHIBITED in their house!  oh yeah!  In the afternoon, we ate dinner with Elsa Montenegro, my old pensionista!  It was fun to talk with everyone again.  Also, we had to do a baptismal interview in the church and i ran into almost everyone from Galan!  sadly, none of my 3 converts in Ipiales are active, so i couldnt say hi to them. 

Today we had lunch with Albert and his family!  My comp made a Bolivian dish.  Man, this is the last week of the transfer, and the last week with Herrera.  He's kind of nervous.  But all is well, we're still working our butts off! 
Love you all!

Elder Welch

 "Albert, my first Mission Leader"

"The Montenegro family! 
(Sister Elsa was my pensionista when i started the mission)" 

"Playing "parqués""

Monday, July 18, 2016

07-11-16 to 07-18-16 Gold mines and civil unrest

This week has been super good!  We're finding a TON of people that have been super prepared by the Lord.   

Monday we had 2 crazy lessons. 
The first was with Li the girl from Cali.  Well she's not doing so good.  It was the first time we talked after the week at MLC.  She started telling us about her "visions" she's been having and how she thinks she's a prophet.  She kept telling us that we need to forget about Joseph Smith and only talk about Jesus.  But we almost never talk about Joseph but we ALWAYS talk about Jesus.  Kind of frustrating and weird...
The other lesson was with a new family from Bogotá.  WOW.  We taught them and they were all SO attentive.  At the end, we threw out the baptismal invitation and they all accepted full heartedly. 

Tuesday we were supposed to go to Pasto for out interviews with President, but all those truckers that are protesting the new toll booths on the Panamericana Highway set up a HUGE and dangerous blockade.  So we couldn't leave the city.  A member who's a trucker was stuck in it so we called to see how the situation was going and we could hear a ton of yelling.  He said they're all fighting there and someone even died. WOAH.  So no interviews haha. But we had a really, really good lesson Tuesday with a reference of our pensionista.  Our pensionista said she was at the store in front when her neighbor came and she felt impressed to talk to her.  She shared the gospel and BAM a super solid reference.  It's another family, so we talked about temples and eternal families.  They're SUPER excited to listen to us. 

Wednesday we had a solid lesson with our investigator San.  He's the nonmember son of one of our recent convert families.  We're trying REALLY hard to get him to baptism because he's more interested lately than he's ever been and is beginning to progress.  Hopefully he'll get there soon.  He says he's not feeling worthy yet for baptism. 

Thursday we had divisions with the Elders in Galan 1 (the area where i started the mission). It was a pretty alright day.  In the morning Elder Herrera and I had to go with a member from Cali to all the houses in the zone to fumigate.  But it was actually kind of intense because we couldn't get to 2 houses, because the trucker riot decided to walk through Ipiales to block the border with Ecuador.  There were HUNDREDS all walking on the main road.  The farmers are fighting them because the blockade doesn't allow them to sell their produce, so we saw a couple of pretty badly beaten farmers. All day in divisions nothing really crazy happened.  it was cold and that night we did a baptismal interview for the other area in my branch. 

Friday was good and bad.  We had to drop Li.  She's just too crazy and won't listen.  She decided that God sent us to her so SHE could change US.  Nope.  But that night we visited Cris, the reference of our pensionista, and we got to teach their family.  We're really excited about them!

Saturday we had a lot of spiritual lessons.  The best one was probably with Cris and her mom.  We taught the Restoration and they understood it REALLY well, and committed to read and pray. 

Sunday was great because we had 8 people come to church!  Including Cris and her sister, the Muñoz family that we taught Monday and E.  It was just a really solid day and everyone was so happy!!  I know that here soon we're gonna have a LOT of baptisms, and I just feel so happy that everyone is progressing so much!  But dang it sure is making the time fly.  I can't believe i only have 8 weeks left.  But trust me.  I'm gonna make it count. 
Love you all, have a SUPER week! 

Elder Welch

Monday, July 11, 2016

07-05-16 to 07-11-16 Leadership Council

This has been a pretty rad week.  But also very unproductive as far as the work goes. But it's mostly Zone Leader Probs so whatever haha.

Tuesday we left Ipiales bright and early to head to Cali for leadership council.  As always, the bus ride took 13 hours.  PHEW.  But I always love MLC (Mission Leadership Council) because i get to check on my converts!  E Weight who's currently in Zarzal brought GREAT news!  Nabor is a counselor  in the branch presidency, and already has the Melchizedek Priesthood!  Also, Gerardo is a counselor in the Young Men's presidency and his preparing for his mission!  I guess Zarzal is about to become a ward.  It just needs higher attendance.  I'm so grateful to see the fruits of my labors.

Wednesday was MLC. Phew.  Long day, lot's of instruction.  But i did learn a lot about faith.  Sometimes the hardest part of being a missionary is just opening my mouth haha.  It was also cool that i got to get to know some of the missionaries better.  I made pretty good friends with E Rodriguez from Texas and E McDermott from Draper.  rad guys!

Thursday we got some Pony Malta and Pandebono for breakfast and head off for Ipiales.  The bus ride took a bit longer because some truckers have been protesting the raise on gas prices and have been blocking the highways and burning buses.  But don't worry, a ton of police and soldiers were escorting us :) I felt cool haha.

Friday we were all excited to work, but we ended up having to do house revisions.  It's always a good time, i feel like a cop searching the missionaries stuff for prohibited items!  haha! 

Saturday we had a zone meeting, my first one in Ipiales (and my 3rd to last one in the mission).  It went well, the missionaries in my zone are good at participating which makes it easy and makes the time fly.  But Saturday we also had our HUGE MISSION ACTIVITY in the branch!  We called it MASTER CHEF EXTREMO 2!  hahah it was basically like the one we did in Palmira but 100x cooler.  We had a lot more plates, 4 judges with their "judging number sticks" from 1-5, an announcer, a "camera man" and music!  It was way organized and we had a turn out of almost 30 investigators!  Pretty good for a tiny branch :)

Sunday was cool because even though we had almost no proselyting time during the week, we had 4 investigators come to church thanks to the members!  In gospel principles, we talked about "work and family responsibilities" and i felt pretty grateful that my parents had given me work to do like mow the lawn, (even though i whined about it haha).  also i felt grateful that i have a hard working dad and a mom that could stay at home with me.  That's SO important for kids to have the 2. 

Saturday night we finally got a chance to teach E.  He's SO happy with the church, and it's basically 100% sure he'll need to be baptized again.  But it'll be for the better because he's been inactive all his life and his papers are LONG gone.

So i'm not sure if it made the news but last night in Esmeraldas Ecuador there was an Earthquake, and we felt it in Ipiales!  (we're like 4 hours away).  While taking the weekly numbers from the missionaries, the chandeliers in our living room starting moving!  I couldn't feel it but I could see it!  Kinda cool!  We're so high up here in Ipiales that there's no real danger of a super strong earthquake so don't worry! 

Well that's been my week!  Different, but busy!  Which is all I can ask for.  Love you all, and I hope all is well! 

Elder Welch

"My soup"

 "Ipiales (my area)"


"The Pasto/Ipiales ZL Crew" 

 "Our 'Master Chef' branch mission activity"

"Chillin out at home"

Monday, July 4, 2016

06-28-16 to 07-04-16 HAPPY FOURTH!

When I told him our plans for the 4th of July, this was his response:
"today we made hot dogs and listened to the national anthem on repeat" :)
Wow so this week was kind of a fight against the immune system, and the area!  Not gonna lie, I do NOT remember day by day like I usually do haha so I'll just try my best to remember. 

This week I've STILL been sick, and my body has been all over the place haha some days i've had a wicked cough, other days a super runny nose and the sneezes, others i've felt really weak etc etc.  But i've kept going!  For the work of the Lord! Thank goodness I'm to an occasional unimportant cough so I'm good! 
This week we've been struggling to get lessons and new investigators.  We've walked a LOT and Ipiales has some gnarly hills haha.  It's good exercise haha.  But we have some really good investigators. 

One that's close to baptism is named San.  He's the 12 year old son of a less active family but he's really smart and responsible.  The problem there is that his dad isn't member and likes to take him to mass in the cathedral, so he has to have a talk about baptism so his dad can support him.  But his mom is a member and of course is on board.

Another investigator we have is named Li, and she's from Cali.  We found her accidentally last week knocking doors but she turned out to be REALLY good.  She used to be Evangelist, but fell away and is now looking for a church.  She has a really strong faith in Christ and always asks that we talk a lot about Jesus.  We had a really good lesson this week where she was kind of pouring out her heart to us about how she's frustrated with her weaknesses.  I shared the most heartfelt testimony that I could quoting scriptures from Ether 12 and Alma 36.  The Spirit was really strong and she admitted to feeling it.  We're trying to help her accept the Book of Mormon, because we know that'll help her find answers to all her problems. 

The last investigator I'll mention is named E.  He's our next door neighbor, and he says he was baptized 25 years ago as a child but we can't find his papers in the system, so i think he was lost a way back.  He's a funny dude, and really likes the fact that we come from other countries just to share the Gospel.  He's been inactive for YEARS but is starting to come to church again and LOVES it.  Sunday he got up in testimony meeting and said crying "I know this is the true church.  And i want to stay."  So we're gonna see if we can't find his papers, and if not, baptize him again!

All in all I'm happy here in Ipiales!  The weather is cold, the people are humble and the culture is rich.  Much work to be done :)

Elder Welch

I have some good pics but next week you'll have to see because the computer won't let me upload.. bleh

Monday, June 27, 2016

06-20-16 to 06-27-16 Ipiales!

Wow it's been so good to be back in Ipiales.  I sure do love it here.  It's been a busy week haha the life of a zone leader i guess.

Monday was just traveling.  Bleck I hate that 14 hour bus ride. 

Tuesday we had our first district meeting!  Our district has 8 Elders, and all the missionaries are pretty good!  I'm hoping we can all work really hard together. 
Something rad is I got to see Albert that day!  He was my mission leader when i first started the mission and we spent a lot of time with his family.  It feels good to be able to express myself in Spanish this time around haha.  Something cute is his wife Flor asked their little girl Estrella if she remembered me, (shes like 5 now) and she said no.  Then Flor said "You don't remember Elder Welch?  He gave you a CTR ring!"  and she said "It's the same Elder Welch?!" hahaha. 

But man, it feels good to be in a good area with a companion that supports me in the work. We've been talking with lots of families in the street and have been teaching with POWER!  I love it! 

Wedesday we walked A LOT haha but it was the semi finals of Chile vs Colombia in the American Cup so no one could listen to us. Also i ran into Patriarch Coral!  My very first pensionista! 

Thursday We had a lot of good lessons.

Friday we had to do a HUGE errand.  We had to do the 18 hour round trip in bus to go to Popayan because my comp had a problem with his passport.  What a long trip.  But it was cool to at least go because it's a super famous tourist place. (look it up on Google.)

Saturday I got sick.  Probably because the climate change,  But I still worked hard.

Man sorry im way out of time today, my comp took forever to get ready and we got to internet late so I lost time.  BUT JUST KNOW I'M HAPPY AND WE HAVE GOOD INVESTIGATORS! 

Love you all! 

Elder Welch

"The Largacha family (the family who fed us in Palmira)"

"Me in the street in Palmira!"

 "Some mission buddies from my same group"

"The chapel in Ipiales"

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

(don't remember the dates) IPIALES‏

So I don't really have anything to say about this last week.  But it doesn't matter because I got a MIRACLE transfer.  I got transferred to IPIALES AS A ZONE LEADER!  I'm gonna finish my mission where I started! And even crazier, I'm companions with Elder Herrera, who also started his mission in Ipiales and we lived in the same house!  He goes home after this transfer some I'm "killing" him. (Mission Lingo).  

Our house is super rad, it has couches, which makes it the only house in the whole mission.  (don't laugh at me U.S. missionaries).  But it's cool to be back.  I'm COLD and today i saw my old mission leader Albert, and my Pensionista is the brother of Gyovani, my old investigator.  Crazy to be back.  But needless to say, I'm excited to be here.  Finally I can work hard and have a comp that helps out :)  Thanks for the prayers.  Sorry I don't really have much to say.  Hope your week is super! 

p.s. for those that don't remember, Ipiales is a small indigenous town on the border of Ecuador, (like 2 hours south of Pasto).  My area is the old part so it has a TON of character, and a ton of old people in ponchos and fedoras haha.  It's super traditional.
Love you all!
Elder Welch
He sounds a lot more excited to be in Ipiales now that he's experienced other areas of the mission :) He served in Ipiales for about 4 months the first time around and I think he thought it was a little too safe and quiet, haha. It's funny how a little excitement (and heat) can make you appreciate the simple life. I've attached a couple of old pictures that include some of the people he mentioned in this email.  -Wendy

 Albert, who was the ward mission leader, is in red.
Elder Herrera is back row on the right.

This is Gyovani and his family.

Monday, June 13, 2016

06-07-16 to 06-13-16 Hola, me llamo Elder Welch y Soy un misionero de La Iglesia de Jesucristo...‏

Hey everyone.  Thanks for your prayers.  I think God sent me angels to pump me up this week thanks to all of you.  We had a pretty good week.  

So this week I kind of just got to a point where I was frustrated and we knocked every door haha.  In this mission, we normally try and do everything possible to find before we knock doors because it's just not that effective, but we got to the point where nothing else works so we're on plan Z haha. 

Tuesday we had a district meeting, and I think Elder Zubiria, my Argentine buddy in the other area noticed my stress because he said "Elder, transfers are in a week and you still haven't done divisions with us.  Tomorrow?" so

Wednesday we had divisions with Elder Zubiria and his comp Elder Mamani.  Wow, it was just what i needed.  Just a nice break and we knocked a TON of doors.  It was fun, haha we played a game "Knock on the RICHEST house you can find".  So we went to the richest neighborhood in my area and went crazy.  You'd be surprised, these people are richer than a lot of people in the states.  Radio door bells and everything haha.  But we actually found a few nice people.  It was a fun, relaxing day.  Oh, I also hit 20 months in the mission.  NO

Thursday was pretty alright.  We had 2 lessons, one with Nu and one with Pa.  I'm kind of worried about Nu, she seems like she's kind of losing her marbles.  She says she sees people before she dies and stuff.  What ever.  Pa has been hard to find lately because he works like crazy.  Poor guy, he works like 14 hours a day 6 days a week and makes 60,000 pesos every 15 days.  That's only 20 bucks in 2 weeks.  I feel pretty privileged in the states.  It was kind of a painful lesson, we were teaching him about the Sabbath, but my comp wasnt paying attention and he started talking about Noah when i let him talk... when he finished i straight up said "i have no idea where you were going with that."  haha... oh no. 

Friday Ramirez and i just knocked doors like crazy!  Ding dong! Hello!  My name is Elder Welch! And we would like to share with you a book of Jesus Christ!

Saturday we had a mission activity in the branch called "master chef".  How it went was people brought a dish and we chose 5 judges (investigators and recent converts) that tried every dish and chose a winner.  After, we distributed the food and socialized.  It went really well, and i made Bungalow sweet crepes!  Felt good to flip again! 

Sunday nothing really happened worth noting.  We had a FHE with some members and knocked doors. 

Today is the last PDay of the transfer, and elder Zubiria goes home next week, so we got together and had a cook out and ate steaks.  It was a good time. 

So yeah, there's my week!  Love you all! 

Elder Welch

"A cool fruit called Carambolo"

 "I made crepes for an activity!  Felt good to flip again!"
Jake worked at a reception center before his 
mission where he was a "Master Crepe Flipper" :)

 "The activity.  We called it "master chef""

"Poor mans barbeque"

Monday, June 6, 2016

05-30-16 to 06-06-16‏

This week was... not the best.  Not gonna lie to you.  The best day of the whole week was Monday.

Monday after we wrote the family and everything, a miracle happened when we were walking to an appointment at 6 when a man on his motorcycle stopped us.  He introduced himself as Jo, and asked what we do. We explained that we're missionaries and that we teach people about Jesus Christ. Then the guy just started telling us his life story.  He said that he's about to pass through a divorce, that he has a 3 year old little boy and that he's thought of "the worst". I don't know exactly what he meant, but i'm pretty sure I have an idea, and that scares me. But he said he felt like he should stop and talk to us because we can help him. So we went with him to his house, talked to his wife with him, and all cried together. We taught of how in a family, God needs to be first, and how the majority of all divorces could be avoided with simple repentance. Then we shared a scripture in 3 Nephi 18:18-21 that talks about family prayer, and invited them to try it.  I'm not sure if they'll stay together. But i know God put us in his path to share with him the Plan of Salvation if nothing else. We'll be helping him out.

Tuesday we didn't have any appointments.  But something i tried to do was share my testimony a lot more.  While looking for some old investigators that we found in the area book, we met a lady who had listened for a time but the missionaries stopped coming.  She said that she had a problem with the idea of another baptism and prophets, and ended up going to another church.  When i asked if she had read the Book of Mormon, she said yes.  But when i asked if she had prayed, she said no.  I bore my testimony on how the Book of Mormon is the only question she needs to answer, and if she knows it's true, she will know that this is where she should be baptized and that God has called prophets again.  It was a really spiritual experience.  She agreed and said she'll pray. 

Wednesday we also didn't have any appointments.  We also had some bad news.  Elisabeth, one of our only chances at baptizing this transfer got sick of her family and left for Cauca for 2 months.  So that bummed us out. 

Thursday was pretty rough too.  All day we had no appointments.  Just walking and getting rejected by the people. 

Friday was even WORSE because The U.S. played Colombia in the American Cup, and it was the first match of the season.  So all day, no one wanted to open the door, cars honked their horns at me, and i got a lot of dirty stares.  And we lost 2-0 haha. 

Saturday i finally started to get frustrated.  Our lack of success made me wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and as a result, I felt very unmotivated, short-fused, and even a bit discouraged.  I know I know.  But I'm praying and reading the scriptures more than i ever have because I can't afford to let myself get down!  We had no lessons Saturday.

Sunday, same thing.

Lately has been hard for me.  I've felt like I'm not succeeding and have felt very frustrated with my comp, my area and myself.  I ask for your prayers!  But i'm sure the Lord has something for me to learn from this. 
Something cool is lately I've been reading the Bible like crazy, and im in 1 Samuel right now.  I've learned  a LOT.  It seems like just as the Israelite's trusted in God that he helped them. But they just kept turning their backs on him.  I need to be careful not to do the same. 
Deuteronomy 31:8 "And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed."

Today we helped deep clean the chapel as a branch which was a fun good experience.  I love service! 

Love you all!  Remember that God loves you! 
Elder Welch

 "My shirts are so worn out that they're see through!"

 "Me and Elder Ramirez cleaning the house chapel"

Monday, May 30, 2016

05-24-16 to 05-30-16‏

This week has been alright, just a bit slow. 

Tuesday we had our district meeting and talked about how obedience and having the Spirit with us are related.  It was an alright district meeting, nothing too crazy.  We also signed up Julieth for institutes which she's pretty excited about.  Something cool is i guess Jhon Largacha, our pensionista's son is our new branch mission leader!  Woohoo! 

Wednesday we talked a lot about family history.  The branch is planning a temple trip for this year so we're helping everyone get names ready.

Thursday was super rad because we found quite a few new investigators!  The day actually started out slow and it was HOT so we were pretty stressed.  But at 5, a member named Melissa took us to one of her mom's friends.  She's a pretty normal lady, but she's worried about her son JP.  She's afraid he doesnt have much direction in his life. (he's 20 years old). The other was a new family from Medellin.  They were a reference from the church offices and I guess the mom had attended the Church like 21 years ago.  She is SUPER interested in listening to us.  So we ended the day pretty happy!

Friday we spent most the day doing baptismal interviews for the missionaries in a nearby village called Cerrito.  It's like a half an hour bus ride from Palmira, so just the trip was an hour and it took a couple more hours to get all the investigators interviewed.  Good news is they all passed!

Saturday we had the baptism of the other Elders.  It was POURING rain all day, and we were worried about people being able to come.  our fears were realized when 6 o'clock rolled around, the hour of the service, and only us missionaries were there.  Something cool is the missionaries in Bizerta (where we had the baptismal service) is Elder Skinner, my buddy from Cali and his comp!  It was cool to catch up with him.  But the rain wasnt stopping.  until 7 o'clock came and Arley, the guy getting baptized finally showed up.  Then the 1st counselor, his wife and his son.  So we had enough to make the service work. It turned out really nicely. Even though we were few in number, it was very spiritual.  The Lord will always make due with what we have! 

Sunday was a really good day.  I felt the Spirit extra strong in church.  Ive just been reflecting on what the mission has done for me.  Ive changed in all the good ways haha.  Im just really grateful.  After church, we found Li, the lady who came to church a couple weeks ago with all her kids.  She moved to another neighborhood closer to our house.  But she's not doing so well.  Her kids are going off the deep end.  It's sad to see how it's killing Li  and she cant do much because she's divorced and the kids live with the dad who doesnt supervise them.  A parent's nightmare.  But we're trying to help. 

Today i went to the town square with Jhon Jairo, our pensionista's son, and his cousin Mayra. 

So yeah, that was my week haha nothing too crazy but we're fighting to stay busy.  Love you all!
It looks like he finally was able to have a little fun on P-day in Palmira. He gave descriptions for a few pictures. The rest are pretty self explanatory :)

 "What I do every Sunday :)"

"Drinking Mate in the street, haha"

" The cathedral of Palmira from far away"

"Pigeons" :)

 "Me at the Cathedral de Nuestra Señora de Palmar"

No description with this one but I'm guessing he 
wanted birds to land on his head...haha!