I'm not sure why it took me this long to figure this out but, the mission didn't end when I was released as a missionary. Was not Christ a missionary after He left this Earth? Being a missionary is just a volunteer of time in order to grow spiritually while bring others along the journey. Why does it have to stop? I still have spiritual experiences weekly! Why not continue to Light The World? I've decided to keep my weekly letter of spirituality going for myself and those who may need it. Most of my experiences happen in my religious classes studying the scriptures but hopefully that won't be the end of my experiences.
This past week, I began to study Jesus Christ and His Everlasting Gospel. I have a wonderful professor who allows the spirit to be present every class. We opened up to Moses 1 to talk about the differences between God, Satan, and us in this chapter. The irony is that this was the topic in last week's Sunday School. My first thought was: "What more can I take from this chapter?" That thought was turned on its head immediately. My favorite verse was Moses 1:21 "And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan." There is much to learn from this one verse. I first thought that the only way to beat Satan was through Jesus Christ. Although that is true, there is more to the story. Moses had just seen God and had a wonderful spiritual experience. Of course, Satan comes tempting right after a spiritual high. Moses resists three times saying "depart, Satan" but he never leaves. On the fourth try, Moses uses the name of Jesus Christ and Satan finally departs. The lesson for life is that God never intended that we beat Satan alone. Of course we need courage on our own part. We need to show our strength in the side of adversity but, the plan never meant for us to fight alone. We must always call upon the Lord when we are tempted. Without Him, we may tire and give up fighting the fiery darts but, He is there. "Where shall I find Him? Where shall I seek? He is here and now. Jesus YOUR Savior" I definitely needed this scripture this week. I hope you do too.
Monday, July 24, 2017
I have been saying bye to a lot of people recently (what a surprise right?) and a lot of times I have been speechless. That is the only way I can describe how I am feeling right now. Speechless. Humbled. Grateful. Ready. Happy. Sad. Inspired.
In the pictures you will see a couple of the many good bye pictures. With missionaries, members. It is amazing how quick people get so close to each other in a matter of weeks. (for example EFY) I feel like other role of the Holy Ghost is unify people, their thoughts, actions. Until two very different people end up getting along very well. Why? Becuase that´s the Lord´s will for us. And it is VERY hard to let those people go. I didn´t know that written behind the words in D&C 4 it says: "and faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory to God, (will bring you and your heart so close to those that you serve that it will so hard to let them go) I love these people. They are so loving and it doesn´t matter if I am really wierd or don´t speak like they do, they listen. And when they feel the Spirit, they change their lives. They are challenged as we all are. But this is a special place with so many special people. I am not sure if it is for my accent but I now consider myself part Ecuadorian. "Ama la vida"
I apologize for not writing a lot. I hope all those who can come on Sunday( I don´t have the address but maybe my parents can send y´all the info) so I can give you a BIG HUG for all you have done for me. It is more than you know. Many people will probably ask what was the most important lesson from the mission. There is A LOT that I can respond but maybe it comes down to this: " I am a disciple of Jesus Christ" and that means that EVERYDAY I can change my very being to become more and more like Him. He lives. He loves us (especially His daughters) and He wants us to come back to our Heavenly Home. The best part is we don´t have to do it alone. We have Christ pushing with us. I also have my eternally sealed family in South Jordan pushing with me as well.
Thank you and see you (not all of you) soon!
Elder Devan Alder (I hope this isn´t the last time I will be able to use this name)
Monday, July 17, 2017
No, Sushi isn´t the recipe that I was talking about, even though is really good and I´m pretty sure eating sushi everyday would transform anyone into a champion but no it´s a different recipe.
The recipe that I am talking about is found in the 8th chapter of Preach My Gospel. And it something that has been engraven on my heart working here in Ecuador for two years. It says there that a good goal is one that is reasonable, specfic, and that we are committed to achieve the goal. (Elder Ballard helped me understand a lot about goals during conference) But the recipe of a Champion are put a little better in the words of my dear companion Elder Vieyra, "A Champion gives ALL that he can, and then, a little more" You have to love old companions that become assistants that call you every now and then to invite you to "give a little more" one last time.
I have mixed emotions coming to the last week of my mission. I want to smile, laugh, rejoice, sing, cry, and above all I want to give a little more. This week has to be the best week of my mission. As our mission President taught us (did I already mention this?) this is the time to seal alllll the work that we have done. I´m excited to seal it. I´m ready to run as fast as I can and THEN a little more. We already have so many things planned. We have divisions with the zone leaders and the assistants. Baptism(your prayers would be more than helpful) and I think I will be having my last interview with President here soon! What a rush! What an honor! "what a lamb!" (anyone remember that?)
But as the famous conversation between Ammon and Aaron, "wow cool it Elder Alder, don´t let it go to your head!" Don´t worry, Elder Bednar in January taught every single missionary that ALL success is GRANTED by the Lord. Always. Forever.
His is my light. His is the light to all the world and thanks to Him, my mission has been absolutely wonderful and it doesn´t end here!
Thank you for all your support! See you sooner than I think!
Elder Devan Alder
Monday, July 10, 2017
What a week! I really don´t know how to describe in words how I´ve felt this week! I certianly can´t keep up with all that is going on!
Let´s describe the title first.
About a year ago (maybe more), after the visit of Elder Rasband, we had a little good-bye for President Torres with the Whole mission in a certain stake center in our mission. In that Stake Center, we heard some powerful last testimonies of some of the elders and sisters that would be ending their mission soon. It was a powerful meeting. The testimonies were strong and you could tell they were dedicated missionaries. And in our heart (well at lest mine), the meeting left a feeling of: "I hope I can work hard my entire mission to be able to have a testimony as strong as their´s"
Well, in that same stake center, this last Friday, I had my last Multi-Zone Conference with President Moreno and his dear wife. And I gave my "last testimony"... Sad right? (I´m sorry, I know it´s happy for the whole world, and myself included, to be able to come home, but as a missionary, it´s really quite the saddest thing) I did my best and I hope my dear missionaries here could feel the spirit. The best part was having old companions there crying with you, that helped. I couldn´t help but cry the whole confernece especially as we sang "I stand all amazed", that was the hardest song I have had to sing without crying in a loooong time!
Yeah, crying over at least for right now! Time to get to the track again and run as hard as I can! "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might have everlasting life" I hope to be able to say this with true intent and with faith and actions to be able to help someone! There are still people here and as President talk us this week, Every sector and the work we do there will be recorded above, so make it count!
I am so grateful for every prayer and letter that y´all have given me. It really helps and you (and I really) have no idea what kind of effect it has on a missionary. I hope and pray that I can understand and apply the teachings of Elder Utchdorf when he said "The most important calling in the world is the one that you have right now"
I love you all! Keep it up!
Elder Devan Alder
Monday, July 3, 2017
Even though it hasn´t felt that long, you can tell that it has been almost two years when a member family that you met and taught at the start of your mission, goes to live in Utah for some reasons that you didn´t have a chance to talk with them about. And that family lives in Utah for a year and a half, they meet your family, eat ecuadorian dinner with them, enjoy the utah snow, and then in your last sector they come back to ecuador saying "Hey! we were just in Utah, we saw and talked with your family".
The Sanchez family! What a crazy experience! I didn´t even think I was going to see them again! What a great love I felt to see them again and it also made me feel like I have been here on the mission a little longer than I thought!
I really don´t like talking about the "lasts" but this was my last fast and testimonyon the mission and I actually felt super sad. I love bearing my testimony and I couldn´t let the oportunity pass! I felt the spirit super strong and I am so glad for every chance I have to say what I believe!
This week we decieded to look for new investigators in a new way! We printed out the branch Directory and we went searching! One great experience from that was when we visited a 30 year old man that was baptized when he was 11 years old. He sure thought that the church had forgotten about him but they haven´t. We just happen to go to his house the birthday of his daughter or otherwise, because of work, we would never find him. We shared a scripture of how the Lord prepares the way for ALL His children to find the truth. We testified that his wife and children would come to know the gospel through him in this time. It was a great lesson and as I gave the closing prayer, I couldn´t help but feel God´s love as I heard the husband cry.
I almost forgot to mention (which explains one of the pictures) This week we went on a 5 hour split with James from Idaho. How is this possible?? There is a charity foundation here in Ecuador called FAOM (Not sure if that is how you spell it but that´s how it sounds) It´s baiscally only members but it is also filled with people who served here in Ecuador 25 years ago. SO a big group of Utahns, Californians, and Idaho people came here with their dentist, house builder, nurse parents to help all the children and kids getting ready for their missions! We got to sing for them as a Guayquil mission and President spoke to them. I really loved one of his words: he turned to us and said "I have a lot of missionaries that have asked me what a succesful missionary does and looks like. Well look at FAOM and their families. These are succesful missionaries"
If I want all that I have done here count for something, I have to stay faithful forever! (isn´t that true with our baptismal covenant)
It´s so marvelous to be out here. I would say that you are all missing out. But in reality, no matter where you are. In a place where everyone is a member or accross the seas where no one isn´t, as baptized disciples of Christ we can looking and find people that will listen to the light of Christ they have inside of them and BOOM you are a missionary. The first seconds are hard but as you open your mouth to say "hello" suddenly everything becomes easy.
Love you all!
Elder Devan Alder
The rest of the pictures is our little district in the Mall de Sur. I will sadly not be eating Wendys in Ecuador right now. James and I. And the Sanchez family, they have changed a lot!
Monday, June 26, 2017
Good Afternoon!!! I´m so used to saying that to everyone on the street and they still look at me weird. I think it´s a sign of the future, hahaha
This week was wonderful, I love Guayquil. One because the fruit is ALWAYS fresh! Two, the members are strong to the bone and sometimes it just takes a hello to help us remember who we are and to what we are called to do. We organized one day to preach with our branch president almost the whole day and it was quite amazing. Our branch president is 24 years old, returned missionary and he has two little girls.. (talk about a "get to it" kind of guy) He is so amazing and almost all of our investigators that he met got really excited to go to church and participate in all the church has to offer. Branch Presidents have power!
On wednesday we had a special Training with just our zone and the two assitants (Elder Vieyra my old companion is now AP congrants!!!) I couldn´t help but smile the entire time and I really felt the spirit so strong! One of the things that I am learning and teasuring is the phrase from the scriptures "Tresure the words of Life" The most important hour of my day is Personal study, without a doubt. And any other second I get a chance to read the General Confernce talks or read from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, I feel energized with Spirit and I am ready for a days work! It´s a powerful phrase.
We also had a Trip to Hawaii this week! (And we didn´t even say "Aloha" Sorry grandma and grandpa) But is was a great activity! as you can see there are A LOT of people that came. The fun part was that it was about the 3 kingdoms of glory. (We flew in a plane to hawaii, got on the plane again and everyone "died" hehe) And for the Celestial Glory we needed a celestial choir right? Well out of the whole zone, I am the only one that sings, so I got 3 musical numbers! haha. (But my voice isn´t as celestial as before, I am out of practice like 2 years!)
As far as the work goes in the branch, it is progressing step by step but we haven´t lost our faith! On sunday we went less active looking, we were looking for one lady forever and when we finally got to the house, someone came out to greet us telling us that the lady we were looking for had passed away three years ago... sad and uncomfortable. But as we keep talking to the daughter, she started opening up and telling us of all the challenges that she has a single mother of two daughters. She was definetly prepared by the Lord because she was going to the Baptist church and still wanted to hear us (Half the people here say they are from another church and don´t want anything haha) I know that the Lord is always preparing people for HIS church.
Thanks for all your love and your support. I hope that we can all keep holding on the the Iron Rod because that´s what the Lord wants us to do these 6 months!
Love you all :)
Elder Devan Alder
These are a couple of photos from the stake activity we had. I apologize for the quality of these photos
Monday, June 19, 2017
What a marvelous week! What a marvelous country! What marvelous weather (finally)! And what a work and a wonder! (I such hope I spelled marvelous right or this will be very embarrasing...)
This week I learned a couple of things. One, I can not physically eat an Ecuadorian lunch and dinner everyday for one week. Two, this branch is sooooooo small that everyone knows each other. Everyone knows where you live. And everone knows who you are. Three, when I have a companion that is from the States, everyone thinks I am from the States as well. When I have a companion from South America, everyone thinks I am from Argentina or Guatamala! That´s a blessing! Four, when you ask the Lord with faith and the request is just, with work, He will always give it to you.
As I got to this little district, I realized that my companions (there are four of us in the department) haven´t seen or experienced the true success that we can have as missionaries here in Guayquil. And after a couple of days of contacting and saying hi to EVERYONE (because usually everyone responds back at least in my mission) I thought to myself: "What happened to Guayquil?" I will keep saying hi to everyone because everyone´s faces are really funny. I was kind of stressed out for the lack of people that we were finding in the sector. So time to pull The "Alma guns" with a little more prayer and a fast. Looking looking looking and SUNDAY in the morning as we go walk the sector a couple times before 10 o´clock church, we found a young looking fellow (told you my english is great) that had been to church a LONG time ago but he wanted to go. We walked with him and half way between the church and his house, our new investigator saw his buddy, asked him what he was doing and invited him to church! In the matter of 20 minutes the Lord had doubled our work! Miracles happen but not because everytime I fast a person gets baptized. Miracles are given to those who believe and who work (and don´t forget that the Lord has to give the "Okay") I´m not perfect. I want to be someday. I just want to be the Lord´s servant right now and forever. I know He lives because I see His hand in His work daily. Why can´t that be how it works everyday for the rest of our lives!
(I ask for more time in the day and the weeks but that hasn´t happened yet, hehe)
Love you all and thank you for every encouraging comment! You are my fuel!
Elder Devan Alder
Pictures: Welcome to Guayquil and Soccer hahaha :)
Happy Fathers day with our Branch Mission Leader (If you didn´t wish my dad happy birthday, Do it! :))