Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"He was the happiest man you ever saw."

December 30, 2014

Dear family, 

It was great to sykpe you this week! Thanks for all you do, all your support, letters, and prayers. The call made me want to do a better job in my emails. We'll see how I do.

So this week Presidente Vasquez asked us to study the atonement. So I read every reference to the Atonement in Preach My Gospel. One thing I noticed by doing that is that almost every time that it talks about the Atonement in Preach My Gospel it also talks about the Doctrince of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gif of the Holy Ghost. and enduring to the end). In following the doctrine of Christ, we apply the Atonement. Without that, it's just like, "God did this great thing for me, and through it I can be made clean from my sins, but how do I use it?" In this last general conference, Elder Jorg Klebingat of the Seventy said, "Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out." We apply the atonement of Christ by having faith in him, by repenting, by making and keeping sacred conenats with him, by recieving the Holy Ghost, and by enduring to the end. It's that simple.

It the end of the sykpe call, Dad said something about me having an accent. I'm still not entirely sure it he was joking or not, but every now and then, I really do have trouble remembering words. For example, one day Elder Giles and I were talking and I couldn't remember the word for "mittens." I was just like, "What are those things called? Muffins? Miffens?" It's a struggle. Elder Giles and I try to speak just Spanish. I really want to improve my Spanish. I don't have a latino companion, but that doesn't have to stop me. But now my English suffers a bit.

I attached a photo. In that photo is me, someone named Danilo, Max, and Elder Giles. Danilo is another really cool guy. He's a little bit mentally handicapted, but he's basically pure goodness. When we first met him, we found that he loves to read. So I asked him if he was reading the Book of Mormon. He said no. So I explained a little bit about the Book of Mormon, then commited him to read it everyday for the rest of his life. He was just like, "Thank you so much! I didn't know I supposed to be doing that!" He read through it in about 6 weeks, and now is about half way through it again. Evertime we see him, he shows me where he's at. He's really poor and just keeps his scriptures in a ziplock bag. For Christmas I gave him a new ziplock bag. He was the happiest man you ever saw.

So Krist! And Ivan! That's so exciting! I'm so happy for you guys. I am going to miss the weekly updates comparing his size to various types of fruit though.

I love you all!
Elder Hilton

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"When I think about my time here in Nueva Concepcion, I'm going to think about him."

December 23, 2014

Dear family,

Merry Christmas! We're doing well here, and really excited for Christmas. 

Final plans for the skype call. I will call at 10:00 AM, Dicember 25, Salvadoreñan time. I'm not sure what time zone you guys are in, but I hope that works for you guys.

We had a Christmas dinner here for the branch last Saturday. It's kind of interesting, here the missionaries have a little bit different role. The Elders quorum was put in charge of set up and clean up. That's fairly standard, but there's no elder's quorum here. Some that just leaves us. So Saturday was a bit crazy. We ended up hauling all the tables and desks from our house to the church by hand. Then we set up, decorated, put some Christmas music going (the blue-grass Christmas was perfect). Then we picked up the food, helped get the activity started, helped served it, and then afterwards cleaned up. But it was fun, and a great activity. We had investigators there, a lot of less active members, and some non-members. We really get a unique experience serving here in a small branch. It's great.

So I want to tell you guys about M. I wrote about him a little bit the last time. 

So about a month a so ago, we were teaching a lesson on someone's doorstep. We were about to finish the lesson when an old man showed up and started listening (it was M). It was kind of funny because he was like, "I'm sorry I'm late guys. I was watching TV and didn't know you were here." We just thought he was a really nice old man so we got his reference and told him we'd come back the next day.

When we came back, we explained that we like to start our visits with a prayer. He said that he would offer it, and during his prayer he asked God to bless "los élderes." After the prayer, we were like, "Hermano, are you a member?" It turns out that yes, he was a member. He had been batised about 50 years ago. He hadn't had any further contact with the church until now.

So in that first lesson, we gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to church. We told him we would pass by him Sunday morming to go to church together. But when we got to hims house Sunday morning, no on answered the door. That was kind of disappointing,  but Elder G said jokingly, "Maybe he just got so excited he couldn't wait for us and is already there" We laughed, but when we got to church, he was there! And he's come almost every Sunday since then. He's actively reading the Book of Mormon. 

There was just one moment when things looked really bad. We had that one lesson where everything just went wrong. The next Sunday he didn't come to church. I basically told us that he didn't want anything more to do with the church.

Then a few days later we saw him in the street. And everything had changed. He was really happy, up to tears. He said he now knew that the church was true, and that we were true representatives of the Lord, and that whatever we said, he would do it. Apparently his brother appeared to him in a dream. Still not entirely sure what happened in that dream, but now everything is different. He basically woke up with the desire to be baptised for his brother. He is now one of the most active members of the church. He comes to church every week, stays all three hours, participates in the classes, and comes to all the church activities.

Every time we see him, he talks about wanting to be that baptisms, and he tells us of more people who's work he wants to do. He's preparing to go to the temple. He is awesome. I'm so glad we got the privilege to meet him. We really didn't do much. When every I think about my time here in Nueva Concpecion, I'm going to think about him.

So I know that I've never written this much. Or said much about anyone. But I really wanted you guys to know about Max. And I basically copied strait out of my jounal for my letter. Made things much easier.

Well, I love you guys!! I'm excited to see you in a few days!

Elder Hilton

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Family history. Working miracles."

December 16, 2014

Dear family,

This week was good. 

I got your package! Thanks for everything. The first thing I did when I got it was take a picture, just because there was so many fruit snacks. And glasses. That was a really good idea. I still hadn't forgotten about that, but I have no idea when I would have been able to get them. So thanks for that.

Well, Mom asked how L and N are. They actually just got baptised. I really don't do a great job writing about the investigators. I'll try to be better on that in the future. They are doing quite well. They seem so happy. I baptized N and Elder G baptized L.

Mary asked what happened to make the spirit leave in that lesson. The lesson was with a guy named M. He's a really cool guy. We was baptised about 50 years about and is just now coming back. In that lesson he got really upset about the government and started going off about that. Then he told us he was too old and now basically didn't want to have anything to do with the church. That was a little sad. But a few days later we saw him in the street and everything was different. Apparently his brother appeared to him in a dream. I'm not entirely sure what happened in that dream, but no he's really happy, has completely commited himself to the gospel, and knows that the church is true. And he wants nothing more than to go to the temple do his baptism. Family history. Working maracles.

And I'm out of time. I love you!
Elder Hi

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"This week we had a big trip to the temple for the investigators."

December 8, 2014
Dear family,

Thanks for all your letters. I really do enjoy reading them.

This week we had a big trip to the temple for the investigators. It was a big mission wide activity. In all, about 800 investigators went to the temple. We brought 2 investigators. Their names are L and N. They're a family; L is the mom. They also have a brother named D, but he wasn't able to make it to the temple trip. The trip was a really good experience for them. First we had a virtual tour of the temple in the chapel next door. Then we split into groups and went around to different classrooms where there were little presentations. Just being near the temple brings a special spirit, and I think they could feel it. L and N are preparing to be baptized and think this trip really did help them.

Quesions for this week. Health. I'm doing well. My cough isn't a problem anymore. I do feel short of breath every now and then, but I think that's just the way it's going to be until I can start seriously exercising again. But it's not that bad, and I've still got plenty of medicine. What made the assistants such good teachers: it's hard to say. I'm not sure if I could pinpoint it exactly. But as they taught, I definately could feel the spirit, and, being their investigator in the practice, I felt the desire to be baptized.

We had an experience this week that really helped me better understand the influence of the spirit. We were in a lesson. The lesson had just barely started. It started ok, but then it quickly took a few bad turns, and then the spirit was gone. It just left.  We quickly got out, and then I just stepped to the side to say a quick prayer. It really did not feel good at all. After the prayer I felt much better. We, as members of the church, have the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes we can feel it more strongly than other times, and that's usualy when we say we can feel the spirit. But I feel like we just get so used to it that we don't recognize its constant presence. In that moment, it was just gone. I felt so bad. Then it came back and I felt so much better. I feel like we need to appreciate better what we have, and recognize that not eveyone has this gift. Understanding this really strenthens my desire to help others be baptised and recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I love you guys!

Elder Hilton

Monday, December 1, 2014

"Things are really picking up now."

November 29, 2014

Dear family,

We had a good week here in Nueva Concepcion. We continued finding a lot of new investigators this week. Things are really picking up now. I remember how when we first got to this area we ended up just walking around a lot. Now we still walk a lot, but we've got a lot of work too do. Now we just got to keep up with the momentum we've built up.

I got your thanksgiving letter! Thanks for that. We had a very nice Thanksgiving here. To celebrate it, I attempted to make banana bread. We don't have an oven or anything, so I got creative. I mixed chopped up banana into pancake mix then made pancakes out of it. It was actually really good. And I also had yogurt, and of course that makes everything better.

Questions/answers. New foods: I just eat whatever I'm given. I usually don't ask what it is. They probably do have other fruits and vegies, but I probably don't know it. The food here is pretty normal. It's not like Korea where you would have no idea what you're eating. Usually it's some combination of rice, beans, eggs and tortillas. We make our own food for breakfast and dinner and then pay a member to make us lunch. I do like making all of my oun food, but the member's food is good too.

This week President Vasquez came here to talk to Presidente Melara. He brought the assistants with him, and the assistants did practices with us. That was really cool. They teach really well and I learned a lot from them.

Well, I love you guys! Thanks for everything!

Elder Hilton

Monday, November 24, 2014

"So we ended up teaching the plan of salvation to all the neighborhood kids."

November 24, 2014

Dear family,

Happy Thanksgiving! To be honest, I had kind of forgoten about Thanksgiving. I know it's this month, but we don't really think much about it. The lack of season change really makes a difference. We keep seeing Christmas lights, and it just seems weird to us. I guess it is that time of year though.

So. We're doing well. We still have about the same number of investigators but we found a ton of new one and dropped the ones that weren't progresing. So thing are improving.

The church is very young here. We just meet in a small building that wasn't really designed to be a chapel. It's similar to the building you guys use in Japan. There's a posibility that we'll be called as councilers to the branch president. But that's still not for sure, so we'll see what happens.

Elder G is a good missionary. He is a very hard worker and very obedient, two qualities I very much admire in a companion.

So we had the opportunity to use the Plan of Salvation cards that Aimee make for me.  We're teaching una hermana who's name is Carmen. She has 3 kids. At the end of a lesson with them, they asked us to bring a game the next time. We told them we would. So we desided to teach them the plan of salvation using Aimee's demonstration and have them move from place to place as we taught. We we came back, they had all invited their friends. So we ended up teaching the plan of salvation to all the neighborhood kids. They loved it. It was one of the best lessons we've had with them. And I gave them some of the stickers you guys sent me. 

And we found a less active member the other day. He's been in-active for a very long time. The last profet that he remembered was David O McKay. But he's coming back. He's come to church two times now and he's reading the Book of Mormon a ton. It really makes me happy when people read the Book of Mormon. 

Well, I love you all!

Elder Hilton

Monday, November 17, 2014

"It was another good week."

November 17, 2014

Dear family,

Ok, this letter's going to be short. I had almost finished my letter and then my computor died. So I've only got a few minutes to write it again.

Another week here in El Salvador has gone by. It was a good week. I'll realized that I haven't been so good about answering questions lately so I'll try to do that today.

Weather. There really isn't much seasonal change here in El Salvador. Some seasons it rains more often. They describe Guatemala as an eternal spring. I'd describe El Salvador as an eternal summer. But it's fine. Once you're used to it you don't even notice it.

The area. Our area is actually huge. We've got Nueva Concepcion and a bunch of other small towns. We just stay in Nueva Concepcion. The part in which we work is about a mile in radius. Nueva Concepcion had some really good city planning. It's a grid. The streets all have names. The houses have numbers. That's kind of rare for El Salvador. Nomally people just have to say something like, "We live by the Catholic Church in a green house by a mango tree." But unfortunately, not haveing addresses has been too deeply ingrained into the culture. No one knows the street names. Or their house number. It's an adventure. We end up walking a lot.

The house. We actually live in a full size house. In Salvadoreñan houses are usually just solid concrete. Our house is like that. We've got running water and electricity. In poorer parts they don't have that. And it some parts that houses are just sheets of metal held together with barbed wire.

We still have a member wash our laundry. Washing machines are not that popular here. A lot of times we have to wash clothes by hand.
I'm pretty sure we'll be able to skype. Not exactly sure how, but I've heard from other missionaries that they always skype.

Number of investiagators. The goal is to have about 30. We have about 15. Our problem right now is finding investagors who keep their commitments.
Thanks for all the talks you sent me! We really enjoy them.
I love you guys!

Elder Hilton

Monday, November 10, 2014

"We are working hard. And the work is hard."

November 8, 2014

Dear family,

It has been a good week here in Nueva Concepcion. 

We are working hard. And the work is hard. A little clarification about opening an area, there were missionaries here before us, but both of them left at the same time that Elder Giles and I came in. So there already were investigators here, but we had to find them all again. But we're basically starting from scratch. We do a lot of walking.

A little bit more about Nueva Conception. It is a completely flat city, which isn't bad, just a different. It's less rural than San Vicente but less city-like than Ilopango. It's also less hot than San Vicente but less cool than Ilopango. It's pretty moderate in all aspects. 

The branch is very small and not yet self-sufficient. The missionaries teach the classes, give talks, I play the piano, and we also help in other interesting ways. No one in the branch presidency has computer skills, so we started with teaching them the difference between zero and the letter "o" on the keyboard. But it's all good. I've thinking a lot about callings lately. We could easily do everything. But that's not the Lord's way. God, being all powerful, could do everything, and much better that us. He doesn't need Bishops, branch presidents, missionaries, etc.. But he still calls bishops, branch presidents, and missionaries. He calls all of us. Why would he entrust his most sacred work to us? It's because he wants us to learn and grow. We are his children, and he wants us to become like him. So he gives us responsibilities and opportunities to grow. We want to help  these members learn to do these things themselves. Not really sure how yet, but we'll get there.

I love you guys!

Elder Hilton

Monday, November 3, 2014

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to help this branch."

November 3, 2014

Dear family, 

Thanks for all your letters! And thanks for the package! I really enjoyed it all. I'm still going through all the talks, and I've enjoyed them all so far. And the ties were all really good. My new companion thanks you for his tie, and I ate all the fruit snacks in about 2 days. They were really good. I hadn't realized I missed them.

So yes. New companion. I am now in Nueva Concepción with Elder G. Nueva Concepción is a pretty secluded area. We have to travel about an hour and a half to get to our district meetings. Elder G is a good misionary. He's 19 and has about 9 months in the mission. He's from Oregon. It's a little weird being with someone the same age as me. Ever since BYU I've been used to being with people much older than me. But he's a good missionary and we're going to work well together. 

We are opening the area. That is to say, both Elder G and I are new here. They just gave us our luggage, our house keys, and told us which bus to get on. Eventually we found to house. It was an adventure. It also made for some interesting street contacts. 
      -Hello, do you know where our church is?
      -Yes, so you don't need to tell me.
      -That's ok, we don't know. Could you tell us how to get there? 
It was pretty fun. We got a few references that way.

Nueva Concepción is a very small branch. It has about 30 active members. The branch president has only been a member for about a year. He's a really great guy, very humble, and very hard working. I'm excited to have the oportunity to help this branch.

Well, that's about it. I send pictures next week, for some reason it wouldn't let me send them today.

I love you guys!

Elder Hilton

Monday, October 27, 2014

"We made a difference"

October 27, 2014

Dear family,

First of all, thanks for all the birthday wishes! Thanks for all your letters. It's always good to open my emails and see them.

Well, my time here in Ilopango is probably about to end. Elder S will be training this next change. They call the trainers early because they have to go to a special meeting. But I'll find out for sure if I'm leaving to tomorrow. I'm pretty sure that it's not normal to have changes this often, but so it is.

Ilopango has really nice weather. I'm not sure what temperature it actually is, but it feels amazing. It's a lot cooler than San Vicente and there's usually a really nice breeze. I'm predicting they'll send me somewhere really hot. It's just too nice here.

Missionary work can be hard. But it's worth it. I like looking back at the end of day, and thinking about the people we had visited that day. There are some days where I can just feel that, yes, we really helped those people; we made a difference - and that makes it all worth it. Yesterday we talked with one of our investigators and he told us, "I'm old enough to be your Grandfather, but I want what you have. I want to change my life and I need your help." It's weird to think that we're so young and helping people that are so much older than us. To me it's a testament that this is the true church and that we have been endowed with the power of God. There's no other explanation for it.

I love you all!

Elder Hilton

Monday, October 20, 2014

Earthquake and "The Book of Mormon has a power to change lives"

October 20, 2014
Dear family,
We've had a pretty good week. It feels really good to be working again.
I really like my new area. This area is in the city. San Vicente was more rural. One the pictures I sent was taken in San Vicente right before I left. It's a pretty good representation of what it looks like there. The biggest difference in this area is that there's more people. More people in the streets to talk to and more neighborhoods. That makes things easier. And here, I'm in a ward. With that comes a ward mission leader, coordination meetings, food from members, and a lot of other things. It's very different.
And as you've heard, we had an earthquake. It was pretty big but there was almost no damage. It was at about 10:00 last monday night. It really didn't even effect us. After hearing from members and investigators how much it scared them I'm a little surprised at how calm we were. I was unpacking at the time. I didn't even stop unpacking during the earthquake. I did pause to catch the mirror as it fell, but that's it. Looking back, I think I ought to have reacted or something. Everyone else apparently fled their houses or huddled under tables. Oh well. Todo bien.
I really think that being in the military and moving every few years really prepared me for the mission. Coming here from San Vicente really wasn't that hard. It's what I'm used to. Sure, I was sad to leave and I miss the people there, but you just keep going. I like it here too. I've really liked everywhere I've lived.
We've got an investigator here who's really cool. His name is M. He's already thinking about serving a mission. Elder S tells me that the Book of Mormon was key to his conversion. He says that once he seriously started reading that he automatically starting making the necessary changes in his life on his own. I really like that. I know that the Book of Mormon has a power to change lives that no other book has. It has changed mine, and will change those of all who sincerely read it.

Well, thanks for all your letters. I love you all.
Elder Hilton

Monday, October 13, 2014

Three baptisms!

October 13, 2014

Dear family,

Well this week was pretty crazy. First, Elder B left Tuesday. But instead of giving me a new companion they put me in a trio with the district leader. So I spent this week with Elder A and Elder Z. We thought we would stay together for the rest of the change, but this morning, the assistants called and I had emergency changes. So now I’m in Ilopango. My companion’s name is Elder S. 

So. In the midst of all that, I’ve got some good news. First of all, one of our investigators got baptised last Saturday. His name is S, and he has really made many remarkable changes in his life. He was invited to church by a member of the church, and this member was the person who baptised him. I’m really grateful to have been able to help him.

Other good news. A while ago, I wrote you about some investigators named P and A. Well, they’re getting baptised this Friday. Although I won’t be there for it, I’m really happy for them. I really, really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them and to help them. They’re got 2 little kids and I can just imagine the significance of this in their lives. The Gospel really is about families. Even with family history, there’s something special about families. 

Elder S seems like a really good missionary. I don’t really know him yet, but I get that impression. He is from Draper, Utah. He’s been in the mission about 15 months. One the zone leaders here is Elder Andreasen, my trainer. It’s pretty cool to be with him again.

As far as my Spanish, my strength is grammar. I still lack vocab and fluidity (I’m not sure if that’s even a word) but what I can say, I can say correctly. I think learning Spanish is like building a building. Grammar is the structure, and then vocab and everything else comes last.

Well, I love you all.

Elder Hilton

Monday, October 6, 2014

"General conference was awesome."

October 6, 2014

Dear family,
Well, a lot happened this week. The biggest news is that I'm getting a new companion. Elder B most likely needs surgery and is going home tomorrow. He doesn't really want to go home, but he's taking it well. Depending on how well his back recovers there's a chance that he returns to the mission. Either way, I hope that he gets better. Thanks for all your prayers on our behalf.
Q/A: San Salvador is about an hour and a half bus ride. Transfers happen every 6 weeks; we have 3 weeks until the next one. I play the piano at church every now and then. I'm really doing ok without being able to play that much. And I still get to listen to music. I get it pretty lucky because pretty much all my favorite music is missionary appropriate.

General conference was awesome. I'd say that it was the best experience I have ever had. I really felt spiritually fed afterwards. It makes me really excited for the talks you guys sent me. One of the things that I took out of it was that I want to make my prayers more sincere. We as missionaries pray all the time, pretty much any time we do anything. But I think that we ought to focus more on the quality of our prayers, rather than how many times a day we pray.

Well, I know I said that a lot happened this week, but that's pretty much all. It seemed like more in my head. I love you all!

Elder Hilton

Monday, September 29, 2014

"We went to the temple this week!"

September 29, 2014

We went to the temple this week! It was really nice to go there. It just feels good to go the temple. And I did one of the names I brought from home. Family history is something I really miss. But I suppose that what I'm doing now is worthwhile too.

Well, we're still resting for Elder B's back. We went down to San Salvador to get an MRI for his back. We should find out the results today.

Now for some Q/A.My favorite Salvadoreño food would probably be pupusas. They're pretty good. Members usually give us about 4 meals a week. On P-day, we normally drop off our laundry, go grocery shopping, clean the house, cut our hair if we need to, and study. And usually we'll do something as a district, like get popsicles or something. As for rain, we never had a typical monsoon season, but it does rain several times a week.

Well, since we didn't work much this week, that's pretty much all that happened this week. And since I still have a bunch of time, I'll write about something I noticed while studying.

So, Mosiah 5:1-5. This scripture talks about the mighty change of heart the people of Mosiah had, such that they no longer had desire to do evil, but to serve God, and even wanted to witness this to God by making a covenant. Now, until recently, I had never paid attention to verse 1. In verse 1, King Benjamin asks his people if they believed in what he had taught them. Just a very simple question, but what would have happened if he hadn't asked it? The people would not have realized their grand change of heart, and they wouldn't have had the desire to make covenants with God. This chapter really wants to be much more direct when I teach. Questions like that, really make all the difference. They invite the Spirit to teach. I really like this chapter now.

Anyways, I love you all!

Elder Hilton 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"The spirit is the most important part of this work."

September 22, 2014

Dear family,

First of all, we didn’t have changes. As for health, I wish I could say that we’re all better, but we’re not. Elder B came to the mission with pre-existing back problems, and he’s taken a turn for the worse. He’s got to get some examines, and in the meantime, we have to rest. At least another week. 

So I guess you could say that these weeks have been a lesson in patience. The Lord has his purposes and we just need to trust him. Maybe the Lord wants us to have all this time to study. Maybe there’s something he wants us to learn from this. Or maybe he just wants us to be patient.

Well, apart from that, this week we really focused on teaching by the spirit. We have some investigators who have been having trouble keeping their commitment to read the Book of Mormon. We decided that we needed to help them feel the spirit in the lessons. So we had them turn off all their phones, the TV, and them we sang "I Stand all Amazed." It really brought the spirit. We then taught one of our best lessons. And ever since then, they haven’t been the same. They’ve changed. Now they read. Now they turn off all their phones without us asking. It just feels different. The Spirit is really the one that changes hearts and lives. I’d say the spirit is the most important part of this work.

Well, I love you guys!

Elder Hilton 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"As your own understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase."

September 17, 2014

Dear family,

First of all, sorry this is a day late. Yesterday was a big holiday of some sort so they moved our P-day to today.

Health-wise, we've almost completely recovered. Elder B still feels a little weak, especially in the mornings, but things are almost back to normal. When I was sick, we did go down to San Salvador, really just so that they could confirm what I had. But then the doctor declared me too sick to travel, so we ended up staying the night in the house of the office Elders.

So you guys are going to move! That's big news. I vote you guys go state-side (as if you had some kind of control).

So this week we really focused on the members. Elder B and I both gave talks in Sacrament meeting. And being completely honest, I think that the talk I gave was the best I've given, which is kind of ironic, because it was in Spanish. The theme was missionary work. I focused my talk on increasing our desires to share the Gospel. My basis for the talk was a quote from Preach My Gospel chapter 1. I only have it memorized in Spanish, but it says some like "as your own understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase:" It's a really interesting thought, and I know it to be true. Some examples of this principle are those of Enos, Lehi in the vision of the tree of life, and the converted lamanites in Helaman 6:3-4. The desire to share the gospel comes through conversion. 

Well, we have changes tomorrow. We find out who is going to go tonight. Everything thinks that I'm going to leave. We'll see. I'll let you all know next week. 

I love you all,
Elder Hilton 

"I'm all better!"

September 9, 2014

Dear family,

Well, first some good news. I'm all better! And Elder B's back is much better too. But...chikungunya is going around. It seems like everyone is getting it. About all of our investigators have had it. And now Elder B has it.

Ok, here's how this week went. I spent the first half recovering, just leaving for little visits. Thursday, we resumed work. But we did divisions because the area of our district leader is more flat. So I went to the area of our district leader (Elder A).Then while we were in divisions, both of our companions got food-poisoning, so we stayed in divisions. Friday and Saturday, no improvement. Sunday, they started showing symptoms of chikungunya. So today, Elder B, the companion of my district leader, and one of the zone leaders all went down to San Salvador together to see the doctor.

So today, I'm in a trio with Elder A and Elder C (the other zone leader) until our companions get back. We decided to make something special for breakfast. We made waffles with oreos mixed in and ice cream on top. Attached is a photo. Elder A thinks we're going to get diabetes. I say it was worth it either way.

So that's where we are. I think things will go back to normal soon. 

I love you all. Thanks for your emails and for your prayers.

Elder Hilton

Displaying SAM_3599.JPG

Chikungunya and "I finished reading The Book of Mormon in Spanish!"

September 2, 2014

Dear family, 

This week was...different. Basically,  we didn't get to work at all. Elder B has some back problems, and lately it's been hurting him a lot. So at the beginning of the week, he called the President and he told us not to work until he called back. He called back Wednesday and told us that we had a doctor's appointment the next day. The doctor did some examines and gave him some medicine and that was that. But leading up to that appointment I started feeling really sick. So while we were there I took advantage of the opportunity and told the doctor how I was feeling. They did some blood tests, and I have a virus called chin-chin-cunya, or something like that. It's disease spread by mosquitoes, like unto malaria, but apparently worse. To me it seems to be a combination of malaria and chicken pox, but I'm not sure, because I've never had either. But I'm already getting better. I was bed-bound for three days, but I'm already up and about again, which is a much faster recovery than normal. 

But apart from that, I finished reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish! That's something I've been working on for a while, but just haven't had time. But we had plenty of time this week. Now I'm reading it again, but looking up every work that I don't know, and analyzing the grammer in depth and researching everything that I don't understand. I think this will help a lot.

Well, some questions/anwers. Are people nice during street contacts - yes. Too nice. We end up`with tons of references that don't result in anything. It would be easier if they were just honest. But still nice. Temple attendance - right now, we go to the temple every 6 months, but Pdte Vasquez is thinking of having attend more often. Exercize - I do push-up and curl-ups every morning, but apart from that, not really.

I love you guys! Try not to worry too much for me, I'm doing all right. And thanks for your support.

Elder Hilton

"You can accomplish whatever you focus on."

August 26, 2014

Dear family,

So. I got your package this week! It was like Christmas. Thanks for everything you sent me. It was a very special Christmas.

Question/Answers: Tracting - We don't tract, at least in the sense of going door to door. Our main source of investigators is talking to people in the street. Service - We don't have any regular opportunities to offer service, but we always ask people if there's anything we can do to help them, and we get a few service oportunities that way every now and then. Onions - I eat whatever I'm given. And for the "nagging mom's question" about spare glasses, I only have a somewhat sheepish son's responce: not yet. But I'll do something about that. Today.

Recently, we've been focusing on getting investigators to Sacrament Meeting. And it's been working. Already we've had more investigators in church this change than the last one. I guess the moral of the story is that you can accomplish whatever you focus on. But the problem is that you can't focus on everything, just one thing at a time.

I feel like I've made a lot of progress with Spanish this week. Speaking Spanish more than English will do that. I really do enjoy Spanish. I wish I had more time to study it.

This week we had a multi-zone conference with Elder Ochoa, the first counciler of the area precidency. I learned a lot. About faith. I think that's really cool. Even in a big conference of missionaries, we talk about faith. We have a family of recent converts who wants to know everything and search for deep doctrine that really just hasn't been revieled. But we always need to remember the basics.

I love you guys! Thanks for your support!

Elder Hilton

"Be still, and know that I am God"

August 19, 2014

Dear family,
The weeks are going by fast. Like really really fast. We're already almost halfway through this change.

This week's questions/answers: How many missionaries in our apartment - just Elder B and I. Last week's picture was taken in the district center, not our apartment. What's the branch like - we have an attendance of about 90 people. It's a good branch. There's a lot of really good people here, really strong members. But it is still just a branch, and they're still trying hard to find more people to fill all the leadership positions. There are two sets of misionaries in it.
More about Elder B. He's a good guy. We work well together. He's willing to work hard, and we're are both learing together. That's the way it needs to be.

So I'm discovering that I want to be the best missionary I can be - now. It's not a bad thing to desire per say, and it really does motivate you to work hard. But you also need to have pacience. There's a scripture that really helped me, that says, "Be still, and know that I am God." (Pslams 46:10). I really like this scripture. So now, I'm still working as hard as I can, and striving to be the best missionary I can be, but I'm also "still." It's hard to describe exactly that means. It's like an inward peace, a knowledge that, yes, we need to work as hard as we can, but God is always there for us, and that this is his work and his glory, and knows how to do his work. And so it's all ok somehow.

P and A continue to progress. Last Friday we comited them to live the word of wisdom, and honestly, I have rarely seen people as happy as they were when commited to live it. They were practicaly overflowing with joy. We always feel really uplifted after the lessons with them. I guess it should be the other way around, but you really can't uplift others without being uplifted yourself.

Thanks for your letters, you're all in my prayers, and I love you all.

Elder Hilton

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"People are out there, we just need to have the faith to find them"

Dear family,

This week I've felt a lot in common with Aaron when the Lamanite king asked him where Ammon was and he said, "Behold, the Spirit of the Lord has called him another way." I haven't actually said that to anyone, but I do have a new companion. His name is Elder Bustillo. He's from Honduras. Elder Andreasen is now a zone leader in Ilopango. Elder Bustillo doesn't speak English, but that's what I wanted. My first few days with him felt like a weird dream where everyone was speaking Spanish. Including me, somehow. My Spanish has drastically improved. I've still got a ton of work ahead of me, but for now I'd describe my Spanish ability as adequate - for now. I can function as a missionary with what I have. But I want to master Spanish, every little aspect of it. I want it to be just as easy, if not more, to talk in Spanish than English. I guess I need to remember that I've only been here a few months, but that's where I want to be someday.

Men's chorus! Thanks for sending the mp3 of Nearer My God to Thee. I really enjoyed listening to it. I'm sure I'll enjoy watching it too when that time comes.

So a while ago I told you guys about Patricia and Alcides. They came to church about a month ago but then we lost track of them for a while. We visited them a few days ago and learned about their experience in the church. It was a fast and testimony meeting. Alcides told us that he was really touched by all the testimonies and that he really felt the spirit of them. He also said that he had the desire to go up and share his testimony too, but he wasn't sure if he was allowed to because it was only his first time at church, so he didn't. When I heard that, I was amazed. It was really a testimony to me that God has prepared people to receive us. Not everyone is like them, but people like them are out there, we just need to have the faith to find them.

I love you all!

Elder Hilton

Note from Aimee: this is the song that Alden is talking about, Nearer My God to Thee by Vocal Point, featuring BYU Men's Chorus.

"Through Him, all things are possible"

Dear family,
This week was a good one. I attached some pictures this time. One with us and the family of the branch president. As it so happens, the branch president isn't actually in the picture, but oh well. I also attached some pictures from the bus ride from when we just got to the country.

Q/A: Laundry - we give our clothes to a member who washes them for us, unless we're out and can't wait, in which case we wash them by hand. Shoe problems - not really. I haven't had any blisters. Emails - to email, we all go down to the family history center in the district center. The printer doesn't work.

 Well changes are coming up. We should find out tomorrow what's happening. It's highly likely that I'll get a new companion. We had an investigator who needed a baptism interview with the president, and as he left, Elder Andreasen said, "Maybe we'll see you at the changes meeting" and Pdte Vasquez said "Es muy probable que sí!" (It's very probable. It sounds better in Spanish) and then just walked off.

So the BYU Mens Chorus/Vocal Point video is coming out! I can't see it, even though it's a hymn, but I can listen to an mp3.
Well I've gotten much better at Spanish and missionary stuff in general. My challenge is confidence. When I'm confident, I can do it. But other times, I struggle more. But I know that God is helping me. And I know that through Him, all things are possible. I just need to be pacient and keep going.
I love you guys! Thanks for all your emails.
Elder Hilton


"In the end, an instrument that's not in the hands of a master is no good"

Dear family,

This week was a good one. I probably say that every week, but it´s true.

Questions/answers: Am I taking malaria medicine? - No. I'm pretty sure that's not a problem here. Do I sleep on a hammock or bed? - Bed. We do see lots of hammocks here though, especially in the poorer areas. Is it rain season? - Technically yes, but it hasn't rained much. Do I miss piano? - No, not too much. There's not really time to think about that.

Well, this week we really learned the importance of prayer. We've been working so hard, but haven't had much to show for it lately. But we could feel the confirmation of the spririt, and we knew that our efforts were acceptable to the Lord. When ever we leave a lesson, we always ask, what went well and what didn't go well. We study and practice and strive to improve things that we identify as ineffective. We've gotten so, so much better but still didn't have anything to show for it. But this week, we realized something. Our prayers have not been that meaningful. They've been fairly repetitious and we've haven't been asking for specific blessings. So then we thought, "Maybe we just need to ask." So that's what we've been doing. I studied what Preach My Gospel saws in chapter 4 about praying in faith and what a missionary's prayer should be like. I also studied the Book of Mormon and saw how missionaries like Alma prayed. So we've been really striving to make our prayers more meaningful, faithful, and personal. And we've really seen a difference. We found more new investigators this week than we have found the entire time I've been here. The Lord truly showered blessings upon us this week.

I really can tell now who is really doing this work. Any success we have, the Lord gives us. That being said, we still need to be doing the other things, like studying, improving our teaching skills, and working as hard as we can, but we need to remember that this is the Lord's work, and that he is the one that performs that work. I think of how the sons of Mosiah say that they had been made instruments in the hands of God. I really like to think about it that way. I need to strive to be the very best instrument I can by, but in the end, an instrument that's not in the hands of a master is no good.

I love you guys!

Elder HIlton

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The gift of tongues is real"

Dear family,

Thanks for all your letters. I really enjoy reading them.

Some more answers to questions. Stomach problems - none. Blisters - none. Heat/humidity - yes and yes. But when you drink enough water you don't really notice it. We drink about 5 liters of water a day. That usually does the trick. Weird bugs - none that I've seen. We do have a mosquito problem, but we sleep with mosquito nets and they don't get to us.

Yesterday was the district conference. That was a was pretty cool. President Vasquez has the goal of forming a stake here. There's a lot of work that needs to be done though. And not just the missionaries. The branches and the missionaries need to work together, and that's something we're struggling with currently.

We had a really cool lesson this week with someone named Juan Carlos. He's been struggling to read the Book of Mormon and pray. So as we planned the lesson we decided that we needed to talk about faith, and that was about the extent of our plan. As we taught, we could really feel the power of God guiding us. We knew exactly what to say, and I was able to speak freely. That's my struggle right now. It was so cool. When we left the lesson, he know exactly what he needed to and why he needed to do it.

When the spirit is as strong as it was then, I have no problem speaking at all. Right now I'm at the point where I can understand pretty much everything without even thinking about it, so when Elder Andreasen and I are talking to people I feel like I should be able to participate in the conversation but I find myself without anything to say. It's a little bit frustrating but I really just need to be patient and keep trying. I know the gift of tongues is real. There's no way I could be at the point that I'm at now without His help.

Love you guys!

Elder Hilton 

"Soy un hijo de Dios"

Dear family,

It's been a good week here. Time seems to be going really fast now.
First some answers to some questions.
1. Allergies/asthma: Not been a problem. It seems like should because there's some much greenery here, but it's not a problem at all.
2. Food: We pretty much just cook our food. We eat a lot of pancakes, eggs, cereal, and other easy quick stuff. When members feeds us it's usually some combination of eggs, beans, and tortillas.
3.Transportation: We usually walk everywhere. A few times a week we take a bus to one of the outlying parts of areas, but for the most part just walking.
4. Spare glasses: I haven't gotten them yet. It's on the to-do list though.

One thing Elder Andeasen and I are working on is improving our first visit with members. We decided that one don't want to do is just go straight into the restauración. We've seen that that's not so effective. What we've decided to do is find out their needs, and then teach to their needs, from the Book of Mormon. This gets the Book of Mormon in their hands right from the beginning, and also gives them a desire to read it. This seems to work better, but it's much harder. We're getting it down though. One thing that we're finding that helps is to start with a hymn. This sets the tone and invites the spirit. One that we've been singing a lot is "Soy un hijo de Dios," or I am a Child of God. This really seems to have a powerful effect on those we teach, especially on children. One time, we were teaching a man and his little boy. We sang them this song, and by the end of it, the boy was in his dad's lap and they were hugging each other. The spirit was there, and now we could teach.
 Earlier this week the branch president and his wife invited us to teach one of the missionary lessons to them. As we planning, we decided to teach the restauración. We wanted to apply it to them though. As we were thinking in what their needs might be, we received the impression that they needed to know that the Lord was pleased with their service and all that they are doing. And they're doing a lot. There are all lot of important callings unfilled right now, so all the extra work falls to them. So after we taught them the lesson, we just told them about the impression we received that morning. The hermana, Hermana Flores, just started to cry. She said she hoped that it was true, that the Lord was pleased with them. She said that in her patriarchal blessing it says that they will have many opportunities to serve, and that the Lord would be pleased with them as they fulfilled those opportunities. She said she's been feeling stressed lately, because they are doing so much. We testified of what we had already said; that the Lord was pleased with was they were doing. The spirit was so strong. It was was a really cool experience.
I love you guys! Thanks for your emails.
Elder Hilton

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Revelation is the Key"

Dear family,
Ive really enjoyed my time here. I’m in San Vicente, El Salvador. It’s a really nice area. Outside of the city, it’s basically just jungle/mountains. It’s really hermoso. It’s pretty hot and humid, but as long as you drink lots of water you don’t notice.

 Our branch here is a nice little branch. I’ve met a lot of really good people here. There’s a lot work to do though.

 We got to meet our new president last Thursday. He’s really cool. One of the things he said that really inspired me and my companion was that we need to give our investigators a vision, a desire, to come unto Christ. That’s something that is hard to do. Here, almost anyone will be willing to listen to us. Some people will actually come to us and say, "Preach to me! It’s good to here the word of God." But it’s a very passive request. They just want to listen. They don’t want to do anything, Change is hard. So that’s what we’ve been working on this week.
We had one lesson where we got it. We were teaching two people, Patricia y Alcides. We had already taught about the restauracion, but we hadn’t talked about the Book of Mormon. We decided that instead of just presenting the Book of Mormon like normal, we tried to focus on how it can help them. So we asked them what about the purpose of life, and then we taught them doctrine from the Book of Mormon. The spirit was so strong in that lesson. When we asked them to read the Book of Mormon, Alcides said, "Me entrego completamente" or algo así, which means, "I give myself completely." They both committed to be baptized, and they both came to church yesterday. We’ve been talking about that lesson pretty much everyday sense then, trying to figure out what made it such a good lesson. We think that one of the keys is that we received revelation to know what they needed to know, and then taught them that from the Book of Mormon.
I am attaching some photos. One of me and my MTC companion, one of the view from our window in the MTC, one of the El Salvador temple that I took as we drove here, and one of me and my current companion.
Love you guys!
Elder Hilton