Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in Chile!

Todos los misioneros a la conferencia navideña
 Me as a small Elder. A Smelder.

Me and my pecan rock.
Me and my hot ride.
                                                                Breakfast with Elder Tanner
This morning, Elder Salas and I met with Elder Tanner and De Leon in Maquehue with a bunch of Sisters from the area. I'm not sure why it was organized or whatever. But I do know that we all made french toast, and it was delicious. This is Elder Tanner cooking
I really was enjoying it. I was just caught off guard in this one
All of us, plus Gabby, a super recent convert of Sister Oliver and Lissandrello
Ready for another afternoon at the coast
All the food we received Christmas Eve from Andrea and Hermana Cornejo Veliz

Elder Salsa, Master Chef
Our Christmas dinner
Feliz Navidad, Elder Wilcox!
Elder Salas enjoying his Christmas spoils

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Feliz Navidad, Prospero Año y Felicidad!


I'm sorry this has to be brief as I'm running out of time, but oh how I loved your letters this week! Thank you so much for your Christmas insights. And thank you for sending pictures!! Woah! I know I've seen pictures of little Alexis before, but something about just hit me that Heado has a baby. She has her very own baby! And she's adorable by the way, very much Heather and Sam both. Those pictures where I was wearing a coat were from when I first got here. Since then it's warmed up a TON and it's quite hot during the day. The mornings and nights are still pretty chilly however. Much like Utah with the really broad temperature range, so I'm always prepared, wearing a short sleeve shirt, but with a sweater in my backpack for the evening. (I got a new backpack by the way family!) Can't wait to talk to you soooon! And the horse meat (Equino) was in-cred-i-ble, seriously.


Way to be an awesome driver! Now it's just on to trucks and four wheelers! I'm glad to here you're doing so much good with your primary children. I'm sorry that no one has said much about it to you. I know that can be really frustrating. I know, because you gave me that part of your personality ;) But the Lord appreciates you, and so do the niños, even if they don't realize it. Being here in Carahue, I'm realizing how much a blessing it is for the children here to be able to have the gift of music, even in a humble way, and how much skill in music they lack compared to many of the children in the states. You are doing a great work! I'm out of time! I'm sorry! I love you!


No worries. Thank you for taking the time to write me, and for your support. Love you. :)


Yes that's it exactly! You found me! Haha. And I was mistaken in my last email. I'm not in the short building. I'm in the one you described that's kind of angled-perpendicular. But that's me alright! Excellent questions!
My companion's name is Ignacio Andre Salas Something. He is from Santiago, born and raised, in the central part, I can't remember the name. I don't know a whole ton about him to be honest since comunication between the two of us is limited at best. We get along perfectly and everything, it's just difficult to really open up at this point with the language barrier. He didn't go to college before the mission, but worked to get money for it. He's been a member all his life I believe, but was inactive for about 7 or more years (the Chilean curse), until he met his girlfriend who helped him get back into the church. Since then, he became fully active and put in his papers to serve. He's been out almost 10 months, and I'm his first child. After the mission, he plans on studying to become an accountant. He is a killer futbol player and has taught me a few tricks hehe.
We walk everywhere. E-ver-y-where. Lots of walking, and lots and lots of big hills in Carahue. But good exercise! We do in fact always take buses to Imperial, Temuco, Puerto Saavedra and wherever. Members don't ever drive us, because I'm only aware of one active member family that owns a car. Having a car is the exception in Carahue. We email from an internet cafe in the central part of Carahue. We're actually not allowed to use email or computers of members. The only exception will be coming up for skype. That is so awesome that everyone's home now. I can just picture it. I hope you all have the most incredible Christmastime together, with the new baby and all! Woo! I love you, Dad


Thank you for once again sharing your spiritual insights with me. That scripture in John is awesome, and your first point made my eyes water. I mean the dust did, at that point when I read it. Stupid dust. Don't worry about your study week or not being able to send a package or anything. Seriously, I remember those crazy weeks, and I totally understand. And truly I wasn't expecting a package or anything anyway, so no worries :) Haha yes I'm doing the cool sign! I'm going to list a bunch of Chilean phrases you can use with your friends and teacher's wife.

Bacan - the word that goes with the sign, it's like cool, awesome, whatever
Seco - it's like "sick" in English in the good way
Fome - boring or lame. like "Que fome" - how lame or how boring
Chanta - it's stupid, it sucks. That computer is chanta
Flojo - lazy
Chachar - to grasp, understand. ¿Cachaí?
you may or may not know that Chileans have a different form of Tú in
addition to the regular, and it's more informal than regular tú. For
example, one says como estaí instead of como está
Chileans point with their lips, like in directions. They don't use
their hands or anything. They pucker and point with their lips
De repente - suddenly, or and then
Ya - is like OK or I follow you, or when used with more force is like
"enough!" for example "Ya po!"
Po is word of emphasis added to whatever word or phrase. It doesn't
have a translation. it's just like, sí po, or no po, or dígalo lento
Ni ahí - kind of like no importa, or neither here or there
Chuta - shoot, darn, dang, whatever
Arto - mucho
A ver - let's see (it), let me think
Okay that's all for now! More in the future!
Congrats on an awesome end of the semester!! Way to get good grades,
I'm proud of you :) Have an awesome time in Oregon!


WOAH!!! Congratulations!!! You're like...educated now! ;) That's crazy, you're all grown up and out to bigger and better things. I'm so so so excited and glad that you're considering serving a mission. I can't say the call or paperwork was ever intimidating for me, but not knowing what to expect and being a bit nervous in that respect is totally normal. I won't lie to you, missions are hard. I'm still a baby in the mission and it's dang hard. But I also know you, and you're more patient than I am. I think you would be an outstanding missionary, able to handle whatever comes your way.

The picture of me cowaring by the door is a demonstration of my desperate addication to cariocas. They're like oreos, but better, and ridiculously cheap, like 30 cents in America for 8 cookies. I eat tons.
So I spoke with this wonderful lady from the branch yesterday at Almuerzo (a bunch of the members of the branch and us ate together yesterday before beginning to set up the Church for the Christmas program), named Lily. Lily is Chilean through and through, born and raised. However, she has a fascinating story that changed my week. Lily had the blessing and opportunity to study in New Jersey at a major university (I didn't catch which), so we had a blast talking about New York, and her experiences there. She speaks wonderful
English as well, because she was part of some special highly selective language institution there. This particular conversation was in Spanish however, so I didn't catch everything that was said. But it turns out, she spent all of 21 years in New Jersey and New York, so she's spoken English longer than I have just about. As she started to share her experiences in New York with me with great animation, seeing concerts, eating great food, experiencing all there is to do in New York, she paused and asked me, you know why I came back to Chile?
Because of the people. She told me: In New York, I had everything. I had education at wonderful schools, I had a wonderful job and made great money and had marvelous opportunities. Here in Chile, I'm poor. But the people here have taught me lessons greater than anything I have learned in universities or big cities. For 21 years in the states, I was agnostic, and I wasn't happy. Now I remember the Gospel, I am an active member of the Church, and I'm happy. I came back because of the people.

This story moved me. The people in Chile are wonderful, and I can't wait until I can communicate better and be able to touch their hearts with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they touch my heart with their love, kindness, and humility. This Christmas season, I'm tryring to remember what really matters. I'm trying to remember the blessings the Lord has given me. I don't need much. I just His love, and His beautiful gospel. I don't even need the language right now, if I have my testimony that He lived for us and died for us and continues to do
everything for us.

I desperately wish I had more time! I would tell you about the wonderful Christmas program we put on last night outside the church and the beautiful singing of the children and the Temuco Stake Choir with beautiful decorations garnishing the Church building. I would tell you about how I gave my first full length talk yesterday in Spanish about the influence of the Spirit in our lives, and how it actually turned out pretty well and I ended up talking for 20 minutes. That's the longest I've ever talked in Spanish. I would tell you about
the people we are teaching right now and their progress, but I guess it will have to wait until Sunday!

Sunday! We're planning on calling at about 7pm our time, which is more or less the same in Georgia. Prepare yourselves! Elder Wilcox's comin' to town.

Practicing some futbol
 Chilean goodies
 "demonstration of my desperate addiction to cariocas. They're like oreos, but better, and ridiculously cheap, like 30 cents in America for 8 cookies. I eat tons."
 On the set of the Carahue branch's Christmas program

 Elders' night in

I'm flying, Elder Wilcox!
District day by the sea

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feliz Navidad! This is my island in the sun, oy oy!

If you can name that movie, I'll give you a candy bar in two years.

Okay, so I'm trying a new method of correspondence today, individual-style. It turned out to take more time than I wanted, but I like it. So I'm going to probably do this from now on. But first, I just want to mention a few important things, about Chile and such.

In Chile, they have these things called Completos, which means full. They're like hotdogs, only huge and amazing! The bread is toasted and gourmet and it's filled, along with the hotdog, with usually some combination of tomatoes, guacamole (which they call palta here), sourkraut, mustard, mayo, and ketchup. It's the best thing ever. By the way, I love tomatoes now! Aren't you so proud of me?? All it took was eating them every single day! Chileans eat tons and tons of tomatoes.

They have these spiders here, everywhere, called Rincones, or corner spiders. They make little web tunnels in cracks and corners of houses, door frames, etc., mostly outside, THANK heavens. And they are frightening. They live in their tunnels and wait for something to get near the tunnel opening and they super quickly jump out and attack the victim like a rattle snake or something. I've heard, but don't know for sure, that if you get bit by one big enough, it can be deadly. We like to lure them out of their webs with pens and bugs.

The food in Chile is extremely similar to the States, but better! I don't know why. They have a lot of the same things, but they taste so much better. Especially the milk. It is incredible. I think it's because there are less preservatives. Here as well, pan, or bread, is huge. Everybody eats pan, all day, everday. Everdybody knows how to make it. There are stores dedicated to pan. Pan like in the states, sliced and all, does not exist. Here, it is 10 times more delicious, and it makes all the Gringos fat! So yeah, I love the bread. I'm going to get fat. Oh well.

Chile is FILLED with dogs. Dogs everywhere. And everybody I've met has at least one dog. And with dogs come fleas, or pulgas. Everybody has problem with pulgas in the bed, and for the past two weeks, I don't
know that I've ever had so many bug bites on my body. I have some spray that I need to try, and hopefully after a while I'll just get used to it too.

BIG NEWS!!! GET READY!! For Christmas, in this blessed of missions, we are not only allowed to call home, but we can SKYPE!!! So yeah, I get to see all of your lovely faces! It is right now 2 o clock as I send this so figure your time accordingly. It will be either the 25th or 26th. I don't know for sure yet, but I'll let you know. I'm looking forward to it!

Dear Jenn,

Wow! I'm am certainly grateful that my experience was not like that Elder in France. Things definitely could have been a lot worse for me. Super great to hear from you, as always. I know I say it all the time, but your mission experience is so special to me, and I always know that you know what I'm going through, both the hard things and the good things. I love you, sis, and your wonderful family as well.


Perhaps I should have explained better my situation last week haha. I was in kind of a rush. In Chile, they don't eat very large dinners, or dinners at all per se. Their huge meal of the day (and I mean huge) is Almuerzo, or lunch. In the evening, Chileans "tomar once," or take/eat eleven. No one knows why it's called eleven, not even the Chileans, but it's simply a light meal or snack taken in the evening hours. Don't worry about purse or scrip for me. Luckily, by the time I was robbed, I had already withdrawn my monthly allowance of cash and it's sitting in my room in our apartment. Yay! As for the mission home, I really don't know why communication is so difficult. I wish I could help! I don't know much either! Please do not send anything to my apartment, only to the mission home!!

Thank you for your apology about rural Chile haha. It's definitely not as humble as Nicaragua, from what it sounds like. As it happens, I think my impression of Chile was actually kind of flawed, Carahue being my first and only sector. In the past week with some time spent in Temuco and surrounding areas, I've found there are actually some very, very nice living circumstances! Still, nothing compared to the States that I have seen yet. But it is comforting to know that my mission will have a good bit of diversity to it. Super humble huts to comfortable city apartments. Interesting that you should mention the indians in Chile. In fact, there is a group of indigenous peoples here in the southern part of Chile called the Mapuche, who, in addition to Spanish, speak their own unique, very wildly different, language of Mapudungun. We have one Mapuche sister in our branch, and somehow she does indeed look more native.

I'm super excited for my package!!! It really doesn't feel like Christmas here, with all the heat, it being full on Summer. If it weren't for our lovely little lighted tree in our apartment and the constant stream of Christmas music as we study, I wouldn't even know Santa Clause was on the approach. You will be happy to know, however, that we frequently listen to Il Divo's Christmas album, courtesy of E' Salas, and I love it!

As for forming a choir, as lovely as that would be, I'm afraid that would be against missionary handbook instruction. Besides, with only between 14-35 members attending regularly and the rest who knows where, there's not much of a resource pool. The members that do attend can't really sing either. The 20 year old Church here in Carahue having gone most of its existence with the exception of Elders such as myself without accompaniment, has trouble finding or carrying a tune. After every sacrament meeting, we practice as a congregation learning a few new hymns to sing in the coming Sundays. Luckily, we do have a wonderful, musically gifted, branch president who is super dedicated to his branch. Like a great shepherd, he knows his sheep.


The mission home address is indeed correct, and all parts are necessary. As to why Google maps doesn't like it, I have no idea. But I do know that all the addresses in Chile are kind of a mess anyway. I'm not sure how anyone gets by with the correo here. My address is a little more complicated. To be honest, I'm not really sure what it is either. I've seen about 3 different versions printed in different places with different names and such. However, maybe this will help.

I think our aparment complex is called Mont(t) Block? - I can't remember how many t's there are The street leading up to it is definitely Los Notros, Try leaving out Villa Imperial And as for a zip or something, I don't think Chile uses them. So try this:

Los Notros
Mont(t) Block D #32
Carahue, Chile

But regardless, DO NOT send anything to my address. I have been informed that it's not a good way to go. The best is just sending whatever to the mission home, and it will get to me every few weeks at mission conferences and such. As for finding it on Google maps, near the east entrance of Carahue, with all the trains. Go a little farther west, and almost directly above that main vein road, there should be 3 or 4 long skinny, yellowish apartment buildings. We live in the northeastern most.

Hope all is well in Georgia, with the practice and the house and Hamish and all. I'm glad you're still supporting my Alma Mater.If you ever get a chance, let Men of the Mill know that I miss them greatly and still think about all of our amazing experiences together. That group has left a deep impression on my life, and I know it will do the same to anyone that puts their heart and soul into it. Keep singing! Love you Dad, I miss running with you, and can't wait to shoot your sweet new gun!

Dearest Ashley, sister of mine.

Don't worry about the DearElder thing, I should have let you know. And like you said, I'll get them all the same, and I can't wait to read them. Thank you for keeping in touch :) I'm sorry to hear that everything is so tough with school right now. Just hang in there, and I know you'll succeed, like you always do. I forgot you had a car! Woah, what's that like, driving and all? It's gonna feel super weird when I start driving again. Thank you for your encouraging words and support. I'll be thinking and praying for you as you go through your
last hoorah. Love you sis.

Joseph man,

I'm really sorry to hear that you haven't gotten your call yet. The Lord loves you, more than you can imagine, and he's so proud of you for your desire to serve, as I am. I can't wait to see the amazing things you'll do as one of the Lord's representatives. Hang in there. I pray for you frequently. Your friend, Elder Wilcox

Well, that's it for this week! Sorry I didn't share many personal stories or anything. I felt like I really needed to catch up with responding personally to everyone, as you are all such a huge part of my life, as well as the mission. I love you all dearly. Thank you for writing. Till next week! Chao!

Elder Wilcox
 Enjoying the summer in the southern hemisphere
With companion, Elder Salas
 Beautiful Carahue
 Eating delicious Completos
 Baptismal font in Carahue?
 By the beautiful sea.
 Christmas decorations, mission style
"What are we eating in that picture with Elder Salas? I'll give you a hint. We were just horsing around."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chile Week 2

Yes, mother. I am sad to say it is spelled Hola, not Ola. But I am thrilled that you are teaching spanish to the niños in the ward! I can just imagine you, in every music time, doing a show. I miss your endless enthusiasm. Well, I don't have much time, it turns out, to write this e-mail, because it took me a while to read all of your wonderful, marveouls letters (seriously, thank you), and we are at a member's house using the internet, breaking all kinds of rules being here this late, because today has been all kinds of different. I'll start with the good news, then move to the bad news.

Good news, or rather, things I am grateful for today (I wrote this list in a Hospital waiting room while Elder Poulsen had his wrist checked, reflecting on the events of the day)

My Family
The Scriptures
THe Gospel
My haircut
My agency
My calling
My companion (Elder Salas, not Elder Poulsen as currently, although he does fall well at me. That's a Spanish expression)
The Priesthood
Good people
The MTC, my teachers there, and my district
The Profet
Kindness, meekness, and mildness
Learning Spanish
High Expectations

A little late for Thanksgiving, but I'm glad I did it. I made me feel better.

The bad news:
I've been robbed. Today (Monday) is P-day, and this monday we had a zone activity in Temuco, playing football and basketball and having an asado (BBQ). Some of us had our backbacks with us outside by the side of the building and others (including me) had ours inside the Chapel of the church building. While outside eating food, aparently some kind gentlemen wandered into the Chapel and stole three of the 5 backbacks sitting on one of the pews there.
So now, I am missing a back back, my wallet (including 9,000 pesos, or 18 dollars, my visa, and my mission debit card, and my ID, as well as other various cards like BYU and such), my Spanish scriptures, sadly my camera along with all of the marvelous photos I was going to send today, and my towel which I had only just recovered one hour earlier from one of the missionary houses there in Temuco (back to using a t-shirt to dry off!), and the keys to our apartment in Carahue.
So yeah. This was the state, more or less, of three unlucky missionaries today. We filled out forms with the local police and went on our way. Elder Salas and I headed back to Carahue where, luckily, the branch president (indeed Dad, Pdte. Bulaleo) had an extra pair of keys for our apartment. We got haircuts, woo! Showered and changed at our apartment, and headed to Nueva Imperial where I got off and am now with Elder Poulsen and two others. This is because Elder Salas, our DL, has a conference in Los Angeles tomorrow. After meeting them, we headed straight to the hospital, because Elder Poulsen messed up his wrist by falling today during futbal. Luckily, it's not broken, only sprained. But we spent the remainder of the day waiting in the waiting room. Afterwards, a nice family here in Imperial brought us to there house to take once and write emails. So here we are. An odd day.

But I don't want to focus this e-mail on the negative or how strange things have been. I'm going to try to answer your questions as quickly as I can. (Anna, I sincerely apologize that I was not able to write you once again this week. It's been kind of a crazy day. But your email made me extremely happy. Thank you for writing me :)
1. I live in an apartment complex. Los Notros, Villa Imperial, Block D #32, Carahue. In Google Earth, they should look like long skinny building. I think there are four? and they overlook a small valley type thing where there is another población
2. The Sandisk red? I don't know. Sure, send it along! Maybe with a new camera...?
3. For Christmas...I really don't know. Anything would be wonderful. Maybe a new towel? The ones I bought in Carahue are terrible and shed
4. I'm really sorry, but I still don't know what scripture or hymn. I promise promise promise I will email it next week!
5. We indeed do have a branch in Carahue. We meet in a home, converted into a chapel, with a bath tub type thing serving as the baptismal font. You'll be happy to know that I do indeed play piano on the little electric keyboard for our church meetings! And I am accompaning the niños in our Christmas event next week! The Branch is interesting. There are problems that Elder Salas and I are working very hard to change. Like most of Chile, inactivity is a serious problem here. In the Carahue area, there are over 200 baptized members of the church. Yesterday in Sacrament meeting, we had 14.
6. In terms of sending packages and such, send them to the mission home. I believe we only receive them during mission conferences and stuff anyway. If you ever send anything valuable, don't say it's something valuable on the forms, as it will most likely get stolen, so I have been told. Say it's a calculator or something if it's a camera, for example. As for regular letters, I'm really not sure. I think you can send them to my address?
7. My body feels fine! My feet hurt, but not in an unhealthy way. I think I might be getting a little sick again, as I've been terribly congested the past two days, but we'll see what happens.

The Spanish is coming. Dad, your story is dead on. I am indeed the only English speaker in Carahue basically. I get to speak English once a week at district-zone meetings in Temuco. It's very strange when I get the chance! Jennifer, yes. Spot on as well. I have to promise people here that I do in fact have a personality. I'm out of time, but I want to tell you all that being here, doing all this, is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Harder than I ever imagined. It is also the best. I haven't had any crazy awesome experiences yet, and things are still miserably difficult, but I KNOW I am in the right place, and I KNOW that I am doing the Lord's works, in my meager attempts. I know Christ lives. I couldn't have come this far without him. I look forward to the good times to come. Thank you all for your support. I love each and every one of you. Good night!

-Elder Wilcox