Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New York City Here We Come!!! (August 27, 2014)

Why Hello! =] 

The time has finally arrived. 6 weeks has passed here in the MTC since I have left and I am finally going to be leaving to NY on Tuesday. We leave at three in the morning, and then we have a layover in Detroit, and then to NY (should get there around 4 on Tuesday). I am so ready to leave. The food here is horrible. The MTC isn't the real world, so I am extremely grateful to be going to the epitome of the real world. I may regret this later though. Haha. 

The language is still difficult but It will eventually come.

So my teacher's name is Hermano Savio (brother Savio in Spanish). He is one of the most amazing guys I have ever met. He served a mission in Panama and he told us this story that is amazing. He is the only active member in his family.

He was teaching a lady on his mission. In their culture (Panama), the women are taken at age 14 to get pregnant and give birth with older men. It is a tradition in that culture apparently. At the time, she had fallen in love with a boy her age. She ran away from the man with this boy, and they created a life together. Well, Brother Savio and his companion ended up finding her, and teaching her, and she truly saw the truths of the Gospel and she wanted to take the first step of eternal blessings and enter the waters of baptism. Only problem was she couldn't. She was living with her boyfriend and they wanted to get married in the temple so they could be sealed together for eternity. But legally, they could not get married because this woman ended up getting an STD from this older man when she was 14, and the only way you can legally get married in this area in Panama is if you have a doctor clear that you are healthy and clean. For years she would go to the doctor and get tested, hoping that somehow she would be healthy and clean again so she could get married. The woman and her boyfriend wanted to enter the waters of baptism, and wanted to be sealed together through all time and eternity in the temple, but they couldn't, because legally they were not allowed. Hermano Savio was teaching them a lesson one day, and all of a sudden his companion felt prompted to say the following. He told them that if she were to fast and pray with all her might, mind, and strength, she would be clean again, because this is what God wanted for her, and he promised her that she would again be clean. They (the woman, her boyfriend, and two elders) fasted and prayed continually for 24 hours, and the next day, she had a doctor's appointment. She called Hermano Savio crying because she said that the doctor said she was all clean and clear from any disease. She went back to the doctor and told him that she has been here many times and the 20 times she has been tested, it has come back with bad results. So he ran the test again, twice, and nothing came back that was negative. He was astonished. He said it was a miracle. This story was amazing. It is a true testimony to me of sincere praying and fasting. When we truly want to build our relationship with God, He will talk back, but only when we first reach out to Him. James 1:5.  When we do, we can work miracles.

One thing I love about The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints is that it's not just a church. We claim it to be the eternal truth. We have no creed by which we are limited to. Anything that has been revealed, or that will be revealed that is true, is a part of the gospel. EVERYTHING. We have the blessing to have the authority of God to act in his name to bind things on earth, that will be bound in heaven (like eternal families for example). People often wonder (no matter the religion) what it's going to be like in the next life, and how God will judge us. This sums it up perfectly. "The final judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts - what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts - what we have become. What is it that we are trying to become? Well let's look in the bible - Matthew 5:48. Christ says we are supposed to become perfect just as God is perfect in Heaven. We are supposed to become like Jesus and God, but why?

I heard a parable this week that I think really answers this question. 
'A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:
"All that I have I desire to give to you - not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I HAVE, I can easily give you, but that which I AM you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours."

This parallels to the pattern of this life, it's meaning, and the next life/heaven. The Gospel Of Jesus Christ promises the incomparable inheritance of eternal life (living with our families, in the presence of God, remaining in a state of happiness forever), the fullness of God, or our father in heaven, and what I love most is that is shows (the Gospel shows) the laws and principles by which it (eternal life) can be obtained. It is the answer to eternal happiness! 

I have a very analytically driven and scientific mind and it is because of this that I have come to see why we need both science and religion (religion literally means man's connection back to God, or to tie back). I have come to understand their roles. Religion tells us why, and science shows us how things HAVE happened. See "happened" is the key word - it is of the past. Science alone cannot "observe" the future because when we observe, it is something that has already happened. 

C.S. Lewis explains both of their roles perfectly. This is what he said:
"Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, "I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2:20 a.m. on January 15th and saw so-and-so," or. "I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so." Do not think I am saying anything against science: I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science - and a very useful and necessary job it is too. But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes - something of a different kind - this is not a scientific question. If there is "Something Behind", then either it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some different way. The statement that there is such a thing, and the statement that there is no such thing, are neither of them statements that science can make. And real scientists do not usually make them. It is usually the journalists and popular novelists who have picked up a few odds and ends of half-baked science from textbooks who go in for them . After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became complete so that it knew every single thing in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, "Why is there a universe?" Why does it go on as it does?" "Has it any meaning" would remain just as they were?" Think about that.


This is why with science alone, I am not satisfied with all of the questions I have. I need more than what was observed to inform me of the future, not just in this life, but in the next. - The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us this. 

I want to share something with all of you. The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us the ultimate hope. One thing I have found interesting is that throughout all society, the main goal in life usually is to live happy having a family. Most of those people can only hope that they will be with our families in the next life. But people in the gospel know for a fact that we can be with our families for eternity, but not only that, we know how to obtain that great blessing! What greater joy can we have? This life would be a tragedy if we didn't have this knowledge. Just think of all the time, money, blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, all the joy, etc, you have put into your family (and for some of you will put into your future family)! It's your everything!  It would be a tragedy spending your whole life creating your family just for it to go to waste when we die. It reminds me of the Shakespeare play entitled "Hamlet", where an intense, beautiful, and sorrowful story takes place, just to have everyone die at the end. Sad right? 

If this was God's plan, well wouldn't it be a senseless one? 

Whenever God acts, there is always a reason behind his action or commandment(s) that He gives us. For him just to send us here and create a family just for it to go to waste, I cannot accept. I just can't. And luckily I don't have to! We have all the answers that are needed right now and we also have the very plan from God on how to obtain the blessings our souls yearn for! That's why I love this Gospel! It makes us eternally happy! Eternally means forever. That includes today! Jesus even said it himself (talking to us [Matthew 11:28-30]) "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  If we truly live the Gospel, it gives us peace literally forever, today, tomorrow and forever! I have seen it in my own life and countless of others.

If we decide before we come unto God, that he isn't real or His FULL Gospel isn't true, we are cheating ourselves and remain stuck, because God himself said you can't know him unless you come unto him first. Then you will know by the power of His spirit. You will feel a greater peace you have ever experienced. 

I just love the peace I now feel in my life. I want everyone to partake of this peace because it will change their lives forever.

Get ready for some crazy stories in New York. I am sure there will be some crazy ones. Next time you hear from me, I will be in New York! I am VERY excited!
I apologize if some of this grammar didn't make sense. I am forgetting how to spell and talk in English. Haha. Lo Siento.

VIDEO'S OF THE WEEK:

I love you all so very much!!! Have a GREAT week. =]

From heaven,

- Elder Austin Celaya


P.S. Love Life. We Only Get One Chance To Do So.

PICTURES WEEK 5

This is the gym.


This is my companion being a goof.

We got to do sealings today in the temple. It was amazing to know that we can be together 
with our future wife's forever! The Temple is an amazing place.




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The End at the MTC (Almost) :) (Aug 20, 2014)


Hello to all my favorite people! It's great to talk to you all! How is everyone?! I can't believe I have less than two weeks left here! I cannot wait to get out into the real world! The weeks here all blend together and I don't have much time today, but I've been saving all my good stories for next week (my final letter before I leave Utah and head to NY). So expect a longer letter next week!

So good news! we ended up winning the basketball tournament! It was super intense and we almost got in a few fights.

To start off, today we (our district[The 6 Elders that room with me/study with me]) had a little problem. Our toilet flooded while we were gone today at the PROVO Temple and we got back and the whole floor turned into an ocean, and the toilet was leaking from the back. Right as we got home, all the Elders under us (we are on the second floor) came knocking on our door and asked us if our toilet was flooding because water was rushing out of their ceiling fan. We went down to their room and it was like someone installed a shower head in the ceiling fan. There was toilet water all over the walls, the doors, and pretty much everywhere in the bathroom. They aren't very happy with us. Haha. Every night we always wrestle and then all stomp on the floor so they really don't like us. It's okay though. Me and my companion asked the front desk to have some extra towels to clean up the mess, but instead they are currently sending over the staff to check it out, which is not good because if your toilet floods on the ground, your whole apartment has to be evacuated and moved. That even makes it worse for the District down stairs because they had bed bugs, so they already evacuated and had to move to a different apartment. Then they couldn't "prove" they had bed bugs, so they moved back in, and now they are probably going to have to move out again. Ahh life here at the MTC can get crazy sometimes! Haha.

Every Tuesday and Sunday we have devotionals in the main campus where all the missionaries in the entire place get together (about 2,500) of them and we get to hear from somebody special. Mother, you are going to die when you hear this, but this Tuesday, we got to hear from Jenny Oaks Baker! For those who don't know who she is, she is a world class violin player who graduated from Harvard with a Masters in Violin Performance. All of her kids are extremely good at music and they are very young (they all played with her as well). She spoke to us, and performed around five songs. I know that music invites the Spirit like nothing else. It brought tears to my eyes. When we feel the Holy Spirit, it's God's way of letting us feel what is true and good. I guess then the question becomes, how do we know what are our own thoughts/feelings and what are coming from God himself? This scripture has helped me understand this. Moroni 7:16. It says " For Behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God." This scripture has helped me understand how to find what is true in my life. We can talk about this all day, but I don't have much time. Ponder what this means in your own life. When she played the violin, it sounded like it was a living person crying out to God. She played it so well that it seemed like it was alive. She is the best violinist I have heard live (besides you of course mom :) ). And mom, out of those 2,500 missionaries, only two people got to meet her and get pictures with her and I was lucky enough to be one of them. :) See attached for pictures. I know your jealous mom. Haha.

I ended up writing a song this week on a piano here. It's pretty cool how easy it becomes to write when your mind is completely clear from any distraction. It allows you to focus in a deeper way than I ever have been able too. The Spanish is coming along pretty good. We teach three lessons a day now here all in Spanish, but that doesn't mean at all that I am near fluent, because I am not. I can understand just about everything now, but talking is a totally different story. It's coming along well though!

We have a white hand book which is our rule book as missionaries, and this week, I felt inspired to draw a large heart in the front of the book, because I realized that LOVE is the greatest thing anyone can do to help others. That's my number one rule, is to love everybody! The great thing about when we love and give to others is that it is contagious. When we give and show love to others, that makes them want to give it back. When we take from others, that makes them want to take from you as well. When we love and give, it is a win win for everyone. 

I have learned being a missionary isn't about teaching people material. Think about this. I am a Christian. Christ had certain characteristics (Charity, Hope, Knowledge, Faith, Obedience,) etc...and he had them perfectly. It is all about Charity (the pure love of Christ to where you start to see people for their potential, and love the good that's in them). Being a missionary is not about how much you know doctrinally, intellectually, or even how well you know the language. We are official representatives of Christ, and it's all about what you do and how you truly love the people. A mission changes your heart. It takes it and it teaches your heart how to love people the way Christ did, and does all of us! Then those people want to live their life the same way and spread that eternal joy. It's infectious. So, with that, I would like to share with all of you a video. Notice that this video has NO words, yet recognize how powerful it is. Notice that both the people in this video were suffering and were both struggling to just live. Although both were struggling, the husband was struggling a little less, and notice he turned outward when he was struggling within (just like Christ), and loved his wife with all he had and ignored his own infliction. Today, let's love somebody like this. This is the kind of people I want in my life. I want my future wife to be like this, but more importantly, I hope I can become just a fraction of what this wise and loving man has become. 

VIDEO (ENDURING LOVE)

I love you all so very much. Have a great week, and do something to change someone's life!! :))


- Elder Austin Celaya

PICTURES WEEK 4












Me and Jenny Oaks Baker. Got to meet your idol mom!



Me and my companion cleaning this morning at 5 am! We are going hard as they say. We call him Jerry. He calls me Sunshine so he is Jerry. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Down Turn At MTC (Week 3) (Aug 13, 2014)

Hi everyone!  Another week down here at the MTC! I've now past the half way mark and I leave here in less than three weeks! Whoo hoo!!!

The food here is so bad. At least I have food though! I never thought I would say this, but I am so sick of salads. I know that's a shock because most people know I eat "rabbit food" a lot. Haha. One thing that I have learned is that the only way to truly understand what a mission is like is by going on one! So me and an Elder in my district both play basketball, & word has been getting out that we play, so we had a group of Elders come up to us and challenge us to a game. Whoever looses the game, that team has to go clean the other teams apartment (6 guys to an apartment) for an entire week, and take care of their dishes every meal for a week. I basically told our team we are picking our prize =) We play this game tomorrow. Hopefully we win!

Every time we go to Main Campus or to the Temple, we ride on city buses so they are playing Top 40 songs. It's funny because every time the Elder's and Sisters ride on the buss, they all jam out to the music since we don't really get to hear any music other than hymns! But I love hymns, they are amazing! Haha today they were playing some Ed Sheeran and we all started singing.

Crazy story: So yesterday, me and my companion were both teaching our investigator named Alan. He is from Brooklyn NY and he is studying here at BYU but has no idea what The Gospel is. We were teaching him yesterday and we asked him how he was doing and he said he was doing horrible because Robin Williams died!!! What? Is that true? Everyone here has been down because of that! What a horrible way to start off a lesson! My district are all wearing black tomorrow because we all love him and want to pay our dues.

Companions can be very hard. Me and my companion get along pretty well, but sometimes not so much. We have the complete opposite type's of personalities. He's the type of guy who wants to sit inside all day, eat ice cream and watch cartoons and read all the star wars series. He doesn't like working when it comes to class or gym time. I'm the kind of person who has to be outside, have fun, and I tend to get pretty competitive at times. He really is a good kid, It's just been interesting figuring out how to make this work. I was telling him last night how I think it's interesting how God put us both with the opposite of who we are as people. He agreed. Haha. He's great though. He talks forever too. He talks me to sleep every night. One thing he doesn't know though is that every time I get in bed, I put earplugs in so I can't hear him so I can fall asleep. Haha. It's alright though. He like's to draw so I've found some things for him to draw to show people in the lessons. All is well. I just think it's quite interesting how God gives us things we need to work on so we can improve as people.

On Saturday I was studying next to a room that has a piano in it, and an Elder came up and said hello to me and asked me if I could play a piano song. I looked at it and it looked really hard so I told him I would need some time to learn it. About 5 minutes later, I heard a voice of an angel, and I looked up and realized it was the same guy. Turns out he is an opera singer (the best I've ever heard in my life), and he sang me the Lord's Prayer. It was UNREAL. Elder Pierce and I played our duets for him and he sang for us, and we are great friends now! We are defiantly going to work together on music when we get back. He has a whole list of scholarship offers for his voice. He's amazing. Such power music can bring. I LOVE music so much!

So this Hermana (sister in spanish) in my district, was able to trace her family history all the way back to Adam and Eve. I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it myself. Crazy! It took us a long time but we were able to do it! Whoever did her family history work is a genius! 

I was made district leader this week and it's pretty cool because two Elders in our district our now the Zone leaders and a sister in our district is in charge of the sisters here. It's nice because our district is in charge of a lot of people here so we all plan the days according to our liking! Haha.

I want to share with you a scripture of the day (Alma 37:36-37).  "Yea, and cry unto God for all they support; yea, let all they doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.  Counsel with the Lord in all they doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day." 

Being cut off from the world has truly made me realize what is important in life, and has made me more in tune with God. I can feel clearly, think clearly, and nothing is distracting me other than myself. That's one thing I love about the mission and it's something I will take with me forever. I've realized after I applied this scripture in my life, I started to see miracles happening every day! But It wasn't until I applied it and tried it out until I started to see those miracles - something to keep in mind when you read it. 

I watched these two video's this week and they truly inspired me. One is about a woman who lost her husband in Iraq, and the other is about an Olympic athlete who has less than 10% of his vision who has 4 gold metals. Truly after seeing these two people achieve such greatness, temporally, physically and spiritually, It's made me realize that we can truly do ANYTHING if we want it bad enough. What are we willing to give up to gain what it is we want? That's the question I have been asking myself this week. Ask yourself the same and ponder on it. Check them out.


I love you all. Have a fantastic WEEK!!! 

From heaven,

- Elder Celaya



PICTURES - WEEK 3 (Aug 13, 2014)

So for those who know me, I think this picture of my companion shows exactly how we are opposite. Haha.


This Is Sister White. She is one of our teachers here. She is AWESOME! 


Here is a picture with the Ferris Bueler look-a-like. He acts exactly like him too. It's hilarious. 


This is me and Dakota's companion Elder Lu.  (Switched name tags.)


I found Joe here too! (He is one of my good friends from England that I met at EFY 2 years ago!)


The amazing Opera Singer and Elder Pierce

​Look who we found! We found Allie Benson (or Sister Benson) here! 

Elder  Pierce got to host me coming into the MTC and 
me and my companion were able to ship them off
 as they left the MTC! Great growing time for all of us.


This picture is a drawing of a discussion ​me and my companion had for companionship study.
We really get into some deep material. It's great!

PS. An email wouldn't be a good picture email without a PDay (Preparation Day) Selfie.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week #2 in the MTC!! (Aug 6, 2014)


Week two in the MTC! This week was great! I think I am finally getting the hang of it here. One thing I have realized is positive change can seem very hard and counter-productive at times, but one thing I have also come to understand is that change is always difficult no matter how good it is. It's only with time that we can learn to adjust. It keeps life fresh and new. One thing a very smart man told me (you know who you are) was that this mission teaches how to invite change into one's life. Life is full of changes and you can't possibly keep it the same no matter how hard you try. This mission teaches you how to embrace situations you wouldn't dare to embrace anywhere else in Life. It's like a book I read about Lance Armstrong before I came on my mission. He said the reason he could go through so much pain, experience so much, be so consistent and seven years in a row, win The Tour De France, was because he knew that no matter how much pain he would have to go through on the bike, it would never match the pain he felt while he was battling cancer. Some of you may say it was the drugs, but no matter how many drugs you're on, it takes a will of a champion to win 7 Tour De France's in a row. The same is like the mission in a less dramatic sense. It puts you in stressful, and quite honestly, fun situations where you have to adapt quickly, but after you learn, every other situation seems to be easy. 

For devotional this week, we had two people come. 1st the President of BYU came and spoke and then John Groberg and Jane Groberg from the movie "The Other Side Of Heaven" (The story about the missionary who goes to Tonga who leaves his girlfriend behind (now wife) to serve the people). It was quite an amazing experience hearing about the stories in the movie, but in person from the man himself. It was humbling to see their perspectives now that they are wise and in their old age. For those who haven't seen that movie, or even if you have, maybe go watch it! It's a great movie and it really shows what missionary work is all about (loving the people). 

We have a sister in our district (my district has 6 Elders and 3 Sisters - 5 going to Mexico, one going to Texas, and 2 going to NY) who is from Quebec in Canada and speaks fluent French. It's funny walking around with her because a lot of the words that are considered "bad" here aren't in Canada, so she walks around saying the most offensive things, but she doesn't even know that they are offensive. It goes two ways though because a lot of the things I say are considered offensive where she lives, so we are teaching each other how to be polite in both countries. Well, anyway, we were walking around the Main Campus here, and I saw her staring at this Elder, and I said to her "Hermana stop staring at that Elder! You're going to get struck by lightning if you stare at him that long as a missionary!". And what she said to me was hilarious. She stopped, looked me in the eyes and was like "my heart is locked but I can still appreciate the beauty of life". I thought it was very hilarious. It's very funny watching someone try to adapt to the American way of life.

Another fun story. Yesterday before our Tuesday devotional, I found Dakota and Lu again, and we went into a big room, got two pianos back to back right against each other and we played duels. We played our duets in a duel form. It was fun. People love music here so much because we don't listen to any music so when someone is playing music, people automatically flock. An Elder in my district sings really well so him and I are going to sing a duet together. It's going to be awesome. 

Anyways, everyone here is so happy. You can see it in their eyes. Everyone just seems to have a light in their eyes and it doesn't come from them. It comes from something bigger than them. I want you to all ask yourselves (as I have done the same this week), and ponder on this: What ideally would make you the happiest the longest? Ponder about this simple question, and once you get your answer, go after it, and achieve it. Change your ways, no matter how hard it will be to change. In the end, if you are truly happy eternally, then you will never regret the change of life.

I love you all. Keep working hard in life. Remain humble. Be humble enough to change. That's one thing I have learned one must do in order to progress in life - to see the changes they need to make to better themselves. Missionary work isn't about teaching people lessons. It's about growing to love people - the same way Christ loves us. He accepts us for our mistakes but he expects nothing but our best. Love is the answer to everything. That's why I love missionary work. You love people and grow to care for them in a way you can't understand anywhere else. 

I forgot one more thing! This week, at church, they called me up to give a prayer and bare a testimony all in Spanish! It was quite stressful but it was awesome! 

That's all.

Have a great week!!!! :]

From Heaven,

- Elder Celaya 

Elder Lu, Elder Pierce, Elder Celaya, Elder Lyons