Whale, hello again family and all!
I'm afraid I don't have much time to write this gloomy Provo P-Day. Although we finally made it to our session on time this morning at the Temple, our district was assigned a few days ago to take part in a service activity today. We helped prepare humanitarian kits for the Church to send out all over the world. It was good fun! It felt good to be doing some really meaningful service, not stocking food in the cafeteria every thursday isn't meaningful. So here I am just a handful of minutes before dinner time and as always so much to say! But I'll hit the big stuff.
First off, HEATHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't describe how excited I am for you (and the fact that she was born on Halloween totally doesn't add to my excitement....okay I'm really pumped). Seriously, when I read the news I jumped up and down and let out a little cheer. Everybody seemed very concerned for me. But I cannot wait to hear more details! I'm sure things are super busy right now, but try to keep me posted!
Mother, it just occured to me a few days ago that I never sent in my deferrment forms for BYU. Big oops. The forms say that they should have been turned in before I entered the MTC, but I went ahead and sent them off today anyway. The whole process seems very confusing, but I'm hoping that they contact either you or me shortly either to clarify that it has been received or if there are any hang-ups. Oh how I would love to not have to apply to BYU again. Regardless, it might be good to find the forms on the BYU website and familiarize yourself with them just in case anything does go awry.
We've all been assigned to make profiles on Mormon.org, but I am without any digital picture to upload. Can you email me a picture of myself in just regular clothes that I can use? Also, can you send me the link to the blog Heather's keeping up, so I can put that on the profile as well? Thanks!
So, I regret that once again, I had no time today but to write Anna a letter and this email, and while I really would like to be more personal and not lame, I don't want people's kindness to go unnoticed.
Grandma and Grandpa: So good to hear from you again! And thank you so much once again for the peanut butter bars. These ones may have gone even faster than the first... They brightened not only my week, but other people's as well, as I shared them. They all say thank you too!
The Hales Family: Many thanks for the funny card! I found it very apropos to your new environment in granola-land. I'm so glad to hear the move went well and that you're enjoying Oregon. I've met a few elders here going to the Eugene mission, and told them to say hello. Hopefully they remember! And even more thanks for the awesome t-shirt! I wore it proud today, and I'll always be happy to represent the ducks on behalf of you.
Shrimp-ska-bibble: Your letter was such a wonderful surprise and it was SO good to hear from you again! Thank you for the advice about the mission. You're absolutely right, it is a marathon, not a sprint. I'm glad to hear everything's going well. I want to hear more about your life! Please write whenever you get the chance! I imagine you're just as busy as I am, so thanks for getting in touch. I miss you a ton.
Austin: Thanks for the birthday greeting! Where are my lyrics, son! I need to know how to sing No One Is Alone and how to adapt Seasons of Love! I hope everything's going well, and you're working hard in school. I miss you bunches.
Anna! I forgot to send our progressive picture back, and I've already mailed my letter! Lo siento, I will include it next week. Until then, here's a fun fact. Semáforo means stoplight! Like semafore! You love semafore!
Okay, so I'm trying to think of what I need to tell you all, but I'm drawing a really big blank. Oh yes!! So last Sunday, the Branch President pulled me aside and called me to be the new Zone Leader until I leave (the other ZL was already in place)! I was a little nervous about the daunting task, but of course I accepted. So this past week has been a little busier than usual, but I'm loving it. The other Zone Leader, Elder Harris, is an all-star, and I'm learning so much from him, and I love the opportunity I have now to become better acquainted with all the Elders and Hermanas in our branch. On wednesday we had a new district come in, and Elder Harris and I gave them a brief orientation, as well as a full orientation and tour of the campus last night. So anyhoo, it's fun. More work, but a wonderful opportunity to serve, and it's helped me kick into gear a little bit more too and strive to be more exactly obedient in order to set a good example. Sad to no longer be the branch music coordinator (sorry I never mentioned that. T'was only two weeks), but the new coordinator is super excited about his call and I know he'll do a great job.
I don't have much more time, but I want to quickly share a thought that I had during personal study yesterday. I'm currently reading the war chapters in Alma in the Book of Mormon right now, which I have never understood or loved so much in my life! There is so much good stuff in them! The whole thing is like a giant alegory! But that's another matter. Anyway. I was reading in Alma Chapter 49:4-5. It says, "But behold, how great was their [the Lamanites] disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance. [Now this is the important part] Now at this time the chief captains of the Lamanites were astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security." This passage struck me when I was reading. Moroni wisely prepared the Nephites for battle in a way that was completely unprecedented. Although the Lamanites were confident and strong, they could not gain the advantage against the Nephites because of their "places of security." How much is this like our own lives, when Satan does everything he can to throw his fiery darts and arrows at us, to tempt in try us in all things, but if we as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have prepared our places of security, he cannot prevail against us. It made me stop and ask myself, what are my places of security? What gives me strength beyond my own? What helps me to stand for truth and righteousness when evil starts to attack. I thought about my family, I thought about my friends, I thought about prayer and scripture study, going to church, being here at the MTC, the list goes on and on. But just as Moroni placed more men in the weaker parts of the cities of the Nephites (Alma 48:9), we must understand our weaknesses, so we can learn how to be strong. I encourage all of you to think about your places of security, and what makes you strong when you might otherwise be weak.
I'm out of time, but I share my testimony with you that our Savior lives, that God's church has been restored to the Earth, and He continues to guide his people every day. I love the scriptures, and I love the stories about Jesus. He is our salvation, our brother, and our friend. I love you all! Until next week, nos vemos!
Elder Ross Wilcox
P.S. If I forgot anything/anybody I'm really sorry! Tell me!