Monday, December 31, 2012

And a Happy New Year

Heyyy it was great to see all of you for Christmas. Definitely the best Christmas present posible. Before I forget, I want to thank you all for the wonderful Christmas package. I enjoyed every last part of it. I also need to send a long overdue thankyou to Grandma and Grandpa for the increcibly surprising and incredibly delicious peanutbutter chocolate bars they sent me a month ago. I couldn't believe Grandma found a way to send those so far over seas and have them arrive in such pristine condition! Thank you so so much Grandma. They brought joy to me and several other missionaries here in Los Angeles, Chile. Very merry Christmas to you both, and a happy new year.

Right now I'm short on time. I'll just let you know that I love you very much and I'm grateful for your love as well.

Being a missionary is the best thing in the world, and unfortunately it has to end this year. However, I am determined to end on a high note and work as hard as posible to make good use of this precious time.

I wish you all a fantastic 2013 as well, until we meet again on Sept. 10, because, surprise! Our release dates are all getting moved up 2 weeks, do to a change in the MTC. Merry Christmas!

One other thing. As this is the year that, potentially I'll be going back to school, I'm getting kind of nervous about what exactly is going to happen and how I'm going to do it. Mom, can I request (not that you don't already have a million other things to do) that you look up information from BYU about when I need to apply for scholarships, how to restart my tuition, etc. I will be very grateful.

Love all,

Elder Wilcox

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Like... a lot! Today was a lot of fun. We put on a big double zone activity (since there're two in Los Angeles), and it was a big success. We got together in the morning and did a short scripture study about Helaman 14 and Samuel's profecies of Christ's coming, after which we played some futbol. We also got permission to watch Home Alone which was awesome. We ate completos for lunch (we made 80 in total!), and did a secret santa gift exchange. A good time was had by all, our zone is more unified, and I'm happy everything turned out swell.

We also had our Stake Christmas program this last weekend, which received a standing ovation at the end (those that endured to the end), half because they liked it, and I think half because they were glad it was over. Not that it bad by any means. It was actually quite well executed, but it was very very very loooong. More than 3 hours nonstop long. But worth all the effort as we got some good references out of it, and fun to celebrate the spirit of Christmas in Chile once more.

Elder Badger and I are having a great time. This last week was a little rough and we had some challenges, but all in all things are good, and I couldn't love this ward any more. Tell Sis. Gally thanks for the great missionary idea all the way from Russia! I don't remember if I told you, but we're doing the same thing now through the whole stake. Invitation sunday that is. We have participation on a stake level and all the members in our ward are super pumped. We've handed out invitations to invite people (redundant, I know) and have been visiting the members a lot to encourage them. I really think it's going to be a huge success, and we expect to have a lot of people in Church this sunday.

Luis got baptized this saturday and confirmed on Sunday! It all went really well, and Luis is really happy. He's such a changed man, it's incredible, and makes me think of President Monson from Priesthood session when he said simply enough, "Men. Can. Change." Yup. God has worked some impressive miracles in Luis's life. He hasn't drank at all and doesn't even have the desire to. He looks happier, acts happier, and there's a new light in his eyes. He always liked the church but just always had a bunch of doubts. But when he first met with us, I think he just had a King Lamoni's dad moment, and despite not knowing everything, just gave up his will to God and said "whatever it takes to be saved, I'll do it. Whatever I have to give up, I'll give it up, and whatever I have to believe, I'll believe." He truly showed submission to God and pure humility in this process. And now, he's a new man. This Sunday, without us asking him to, showed up in a white shirt and a tie and a suit, and in priesthood even stood up front and gave his testimony. So we're thrilled, and excited to keep helping him in this important transition in his life.

Baptising is the best. It is such a testimony of the power of the Gospel and the atonement of Jesus Christ put into action. Being a missionary in general is the best, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Not even for a beautiful white Christmas like the one we watched in Home Alone, no matter how hard it tried to make us trunky! Haha. God bless everyone of you and have a beatiful last week before Christmas. See you next monday! (It's gonna be around 5pm Chile time by the way).

Elder Wilcox

Monday, December 10, 2012

Healing Waters

This week I saw a beautiful video made by the North Carolina Charlotte mission to try and inspire members to do missionary work. I touched me deeply and gave me an increased desire to work in the service of the Lord and search for His children that He is preparing to receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the remission of their sins through baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I invite you all to watch this video and reflect upon the way God prepares His children and uses us as a means to bring light to others' lives.

We've been very excited lately with a lot of support from the members here. We stole Stacey Gally's idea about Invitation Sunday and we're doing it in all of the wards in the whole Los Angeles South stake. We got the Stake President to email the bishops and the missionaries have talked with them to make this 23rd a very special day. During this Christmas season, in the midst of so much gift-giving and recieiving, a good question to ask ourselves is, "this Christmas, what gift shall we gift to the Savior." And what better way than inviting someone who does not know the Gospel, or someone who has strayed to attend church and participate of the Spirit of the Lord. All the members are really excited here to invite someone, and I'm confident it's going to be a fantastic sunday. I invite all of you as well to think about what gift you can give the Savior this Christmas, whether it be in terms of missionary work, or personal goals too.

The song in the video is called Healing Waters by Michelle Tumes, and I'm excited to see some healing waters here in San Martín this Saturday as well as Luis receives the remission of his sins and is born again. He's so excited and very prepared. I still can't believe who effortless the process with him was, and am only grateful to God for this blessing. The best part is, his friend Milton is going to baptize him! Fantastic.

Well, that's all for now. Sorry I didn't have time to respond directly to your emails.I actually have to print them out and read them later because the assistants gave us yet another fun report to do on monday.

So you know, the 24th we will be alowed to do skype, not on the 25th. So we'll be calling around 4 o clock Chile time. Get ready folks!

I love you dearest family and friends. Thank you for everything. Till next week.

Elder Wilcox

Chile has the sickest buses
 in Hualpencillo staying the night for Zone Leader Conference in one of the nicest missionary houses I've ever seen
 a rice and hot dog concoction that our token Spaniard, Elder Ramón, made
 a bunch of photos from a service project we did on saturday. President Martinez has a piece of land out in the country from Los Angeles right next to a house that our stake president has out there as well. So we went with President Montanares and a few missionaries to go cut grass and clean up the property. President Martinez has no idea, and he won't find out until the fotos show up in the slideshow during the christmas conference this month. Hehe.

 yesterday the Fuentes family made us an asado for much food. I love that family.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On the 3rd Day of Christmas

it's P-Day. Today was lots of fun. We left early to head to el Salto del Laja, a beautiful waterfall in the Laja River close to Los Angeles. We spent a few hours there and I bought a few cool souveniers to try to send home tomorrow in a package. We'll see how that goes. Hopefully it's not too expensive, and if I can get it sent, hopefully it doesn't arrive in february. But I belive in Christmas miracles.

Great to hear the Red Hat conference is going to be good. I hope you get tons of publiblicity out of it, Mom.

This week was kind of rough. Generally it's like that. If there's a great week, the next one is not so great. We had such a hard time planning lessons to be able to teach our progressing investigadores, Luis, Camilo, Lidia, and Vanesa. They've still got baptismal goals for the end of the month, and we were able to talk to them a little bit at church yesterday about the importance of punctuality and not missing appointments, and they understood so hopefully this week will be better. We're still trying hard to get references and help the members do missionary work, but it's been difficult. It's a principle so basic and obvious, that missionary work is better with the help of the members, but it's not going to be easy changing the mentality of all the saints of Chile in just one or two transfers. A lot of them think that sharing the Gospel is the missionary's job, and going to church is the member's job. (Not making a blanket statement. There are some wonderful members who are helping a lot), but we've got a lot of work to do. If anybody has any creative or simple ideas about how to help the members do missionary work, they would be more than welcome.

So we're on a good path, and a lot has changed already, but there's definitely a lot more work to do. Other than that, I'm happy as a clam. Trials are hard, but helpful, and I'm confident about the investigators we have which is good. Luis is a remarkably changed man. He's given up alcohol 110 percent and is so excited for his baptism. Yesterday, he explained to us perfectly the Restoration and said he wanted to try and read the whole Book of Mormon before his baptism on the 15th. Elder Badger and I are just beside ourselves. Luis is a Christmas miracle for sure, and it's awesome to be part of his life and conversion to Christ.

Getting excited for the Skype on Christmas! It's going to be fun. I am indeed going to be with Elder Badger again, at least until the middle of January, and I'm really happy about that. We get along well and work great together.

Sorry Mom that I never mentioned what I wanted for Christmas. It kept slipping my mind, and honestly I'm fine with whatever. Some socks or ties might be nice, but that's it. I'm always happy with whatever package I receive.

Well, time's up this week. I hope you all are having a wonderful time preparing for Christmas and that the Spirit of Christ is lighting your lives in this special season. Tell my friends to write me before the year ends. I wanna know what's happening in their lives! Are you still alive??

Corey, that foto I sent a while back with me holding a bag of haribo gummy bears was for you. I found it in this store called Jumbo and thought of you. Hope you're well.
Austin, how's the comedy biz going? Have you figured out what you're doing with your life yet haha? If so, then you're way ahead of me...

Anna, great to hear from you!! Hope you get your letter soon. I'll be sending out another christmas one very soon as well. Good luck on your exams!

And to all, a good night.

Elder Wilcox

Monday, November 26, 2012

17 Miracles the name of the Church movie that I can't believe I still haven't seen after more than a year in the mission. And 17 miracles is bare minimum amount that we have seen this week in San Martín.

About Lidia, Vanesa, Valentín, Marcela, and Camilo, yes they are all progressing very well and all went to church again (thank you for your prayers). We have a baptism planned for Lidia and her daughter Vanesa for the 22nd and they definitely going to be ready. We also have a baptism planned for Camilo on the 15th. We still haven't been able to teach him much, but he's super dedicated, basically a "golden investigator" and we know he'll be ready too. Those are two miracles.

Miracle three:
This week we got a call from a member who has a good friend named Luis who used to receive the missionaries and had been to church a few times. Luis was kind of progressing before, but had such a strong alcohol addiction that he wasn't really ready to committ himself more fully to living the Gospel, so they gave him some time. So this member informed us that Luis had talked to him, telling him that his girlfriend of three years had left him and he was basically in the gall of bitterness. He felt like his life had collapsed around him because of his addiction and he wanted to make things right. So he told the member that he wanted to go to church last weekend, but first wanted to talk to the missionaries. So as soon as we found out, we called Luis and set up an appointment for the same day with his member friend. Luis explained to us everything that had been happening in his life and how we wanted to try again. Luis is a very very smart man, with a degree in physics and math, and is an English translator. He explained that he felt foolish for being such a smart man but having made such stupid decisions and recognized that he if he had been smarter, he would have follwed Christ a long time ago. So we shared a little bit from the Book of Mormon in Alma 7 about the healing power of the atonement, and how to been clean of sins through repentance and baptisms. He looked at us with such determination and pain mingled with hope, and when we asked him if he would prepare himself to be baptised on the 15th, he immediately said yes and told us everything that he was going to do to prepare himself. At the end of the lesson, he said the prayer and between tears asked Heavenly Father to give him another chance. Few times in my life have I seen such humility and submission. Since then, we've been in contact with Luis every day and he's been working really hard to avoid temptation. In fact, this was the first time in 5 years, said he, that he went a weekend without getting drunk. He's literally doing everything posible to accomplish his goal, and always tells us how excited he is for the 15th of December. I know that with his prayers and ours, and the help of his Father in Heaven and all the members how have shown so much support, he'll be able to do it.

This week has definitely strengthened my testimony of the healing power of the Atonement and the power of the Gospel to change lives. We've been so blessed in this sector in the last two weeks, I don't know how to thank my Heavenly Father, because I know that none of the good things that have been happening were because we were capable of making them happen. Only God could have done so much for us. So I'm grateful and excited for what's to come.

That was the highlight of the week. We're still working with some other investigators that we hope will be progressing by the end of the week.
I leave you with my testimony that this is the work of God. That the gathering of Israel is directly related to the growth of the Church. I know this is His Kingdom, that Christ lives and loves us. Thanks for writing me. I love hearing about your lives, and pray for you always.

Talk to you soon,
Elder Wilcox

Our cool new white board - turned christmas calendar
I don't know if you can really tell in this picture, but I got sunburned..ouch! Los Angeles is very sunny, and the other day, we got out of lunch early, so we went and laid down in a patch of grass, and this egg got fried. (But I'm taking better precaution now, don't worry)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Come One, Come All

just come to church!

What a fantastic idea from Sister Galley's email! Invitation day, I love it! We have a lot of confidence with the bishop here so we will be sure to suggest that one. It would be a huge success I think.

Even more success that is, as yesterday was a fantastic day in church as it is. We had 8 investigadores acompany us, 2 being Lidia and Vanesa. Jorge, the son, couldn't come because he had to play soccer. We're still working with him on that one. But Lidia loved it and this time stayed for all three hours. Wasn't going to, but in the end couldn't get her daughters out of primary, so figured why not stay. Cool! We also had a brand new couple we just started teaching this week who are seriously golden in every sense. Their names are Valentín and Marcela. They're not married (yet), but they want to do it really soon. So yeah, they came to sacrament meeting and apparently already know a whole lot of members, because seriously half the ward came up to them afterwards to greet them and talk to them. It was strangely awesome how much attention they got. But they said they loved it, and wanted to come back next sunday for the classes as well. Blessings galore! But wait, there's more...
We stumbled upon a young man named Camilo this week as well, who aparently used to listen to the misionaries like 7 or 8 years ago. He's now 24, works and is a fantastic guy. The best part is that his girlfriend, who lives in Concepción, is a member, and every time Camilo goes to visit her, he goes to church with her. So we invited him to come here, and he came! Along with his girlfriend, and we have a lesson with him this wednesday. So yeah, the blessings are flowing in, which is wonderful, because it's been a very very prolonged period of trial. But, as we all know, after many trials, come the blessings.

I'm feeling happy and hopeful and excited as well for the Christmas season! Only a few days left before we can start listening to the music. Elder Badger shares the same family tradition of not doing it before Thanksgiving.

Thank you for your letters this week. I loved hearing from you. I know I always say that, but I always mean it. Honestly, Mom, Dad, Jennifer, Heather, Ashley, Anna, your letters are a great strength to me and I'm grateful every day for who you are and for your example to me.

Well, the good attendance at church was basically the highlight of the week for me, and I invite everyone to give references to the missionaries! I too can testify, like Sister Galley, that it is the best way to do missionary work. Actually, the only way to do missionary work in the 21st century. As the scriptures say, in these days, we are no longer fishers of men. The Lord has sent hunters. Maybe it's a slower process, but it's what the Kingdom of God needs. I leave my testimony of Christ. I know he lives, and I know God answers prayers, because every time I ask him for strength or to help me develop a certain attribute of Christ, he helps me do it. I love the Savior, and I know he loves us. I hope you all have a wonderful week. You are in my prayers!

Much love,
Elder Wilcox

Monday, November 12, 2012

Strange things are happenin'

Straaaange things. Name that movie.

Well it's been an interesting week. Like I said before, there have been a lot of big changes in the mission, changes that probably won't mean a whole lot for you all back home, but it's crazy for us. After the visit of Elder Arnold, president of the Area Sudamerica Sur, and a long consejo with President Martínez and the asistents, it's been decided that we're changing the way we work in the mission. For more than a year, we're wanted an increase in the average of convert baptisms, always striving and working hard, but nothing ever worked. We realized that we were working hard, just not in the smartest way. So now, they've taken out contacts as a key indicator (finally!) and put a bigger enfasis in references. This is a change that should have happened a long time ago, as we've always known that the better way to work is through the members, not alone, but better late than never. So this week, Elder Badger and I spent a lot of time visiting a lot of members, less actives and recent converts, teaching them the doctrine of Christ and asking for references. It's gone really well. It's definitely a different finding and teaching process than we're used to, but after a few more week and in the long run it's going to be so much better. I truly believe that convert baptisms AND retention in the church will increase, which is exactly what Chile needs. Jenn, I would love to sit down with you after the mission and have a long talk about the way your mission way organized, what plans they did, and how everything was executed, or maybe during this Christmas's skype, because this is an important time for the Misión Chile Concepción Sur.

Anyways... It was a hard week, we felt VERY lost, and unsure, but we worked hard and feel confident that everything will turn out right in the end, and we're content. We were also blessed tremendously yesterday when one of our investigators who we had thought wouldn't progress until at least next month, magically showed up by himself to sacrament meeting. We were astonished and thrilled by his commitment to come even without us saying anything. He literally just showed up. So we're going to keep on teaching him and we hope to be able to help him prepare for baptism by the end of this month. His name is Jorge, and he lives with his mom, Lidia, and his little sister, Vanesa who we're also teaching (hopefully they'll progress for December too). We were also thrilled to see that three nonmembers were there who some new converts had brought to church. Unfortunately they don't live in our sector (for now, one couple is thinking about moving), but we're still excited to see the spirit of missionary work increasing in the ward, and members doing their part. There are good things ahead.

Thanks for filling me in on all the goings-on back home. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!! Although I know you're not too thrilled, haha. I'm glad to hear the book is going well and that your impromptu talk turned out okay.
Dad, FYI, you asked for some pictures of the outside of our house, so by the way I sent a picture a week or two ago with me in front of a house with a little pavillion thing out front. That's our house, but if you want more I'll send more. Also, I am really liking Los Angeles. Loving it actually. It's a fantastic ward. This sector reminds me a lot of Lagunillas, it's very similar. Los Angeles is indeed big-ish, but not nearly as big as Temuco, actually. But it's cool having a Hiper-Lider (Chilean Walmart) here, so we can get lots of gringo food.

Speaking of getting things, just so you know mom, I think in the next few weeks I might be spending a little bit of money on the home card, because I want to start getting a package put together to send home for Christmas. So I'll let you know how that goes.

Interesting to hear about the elections...I really wish I could say more than that, but I just don't feeling like expressing political opinions is appropriate as a missionary.

I will however alwyas support Gospel Doctrine, and say that there are certain eternal truths, that no matter what a persons opinion is, cannot change. And as long as any government representative supports policies that are contrary to the declared will and commandments of God, we should question whether that person is a good choice for our nation. I am reminded of great leaders from the Book of Mormon, like King Benjamin, or captain Moroni, or others that were chosen specifically for their righteousness before God. That's all.

Well, to finish up, I read a fantastic talk the other day called The Way by Lawrence Corbridge that I want to recommend to all and add my testimony to his. That Jesus Christ is the way, the only way, and that through him and no one else we may be cleansed of our sins, through repentance and faith in His name. I know that Christ is my Savior and the director of this mighty work that I am in. I love love love being a missionary and wouldn't trade it for the world. Thank you all for your love of God and your examples of righteousness and faith as well.

Till next time,
Elder Wilcox

 Our command center, complete with holographic map and clip board. We will soon be buying laser pointers to pinpoint locations without using a coat hanger

A greasy bag of sopaipillas, you know, fried circle bread, that I bought from a sister from the church who was doing fundraising for EFY

And, a big plate of cake that the wonderful Solís family brought to our house last night completely by surprise. They are now officially my favorite members here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Well, as promised, I'm here to tell you that the conference with Elder Arnold from the Seventy was incredible. The Spirit of that man is remarkable and an inspiration to me to search a greater portion of the spirit in my own life. He taught us a lot of things that are going to change the mission in a big way. The coolest part for me was after the conference when I had the chance to have a one-on-one interview with him. He expressed his gratitud to you, Mom and Dad, for raising me well and wanted me to tell you that and how much I love you, which I do. So thank you parents, and good work from a seventy!

I'm also here to say that the birthday package was fantastic! Elder Badger and I enjoyed it thoroughly, although we unfortunately do not have an oven with which to make the cake, but it's a pretty box and the frosting was delicious! I also felt great today in the new suit so thank you thank you thank you.

I'm really sorry, because as always time is short, since we're just now getting back from the council in Concepción. I feel like the worst missionary son ever because I don't write like I used to, but honestly there's just no time! But thank you all for always writing me such wonderful letters. Truly, I admire your lives and your commitment to living the Gospel in your every day situations. Also, the fotos look great!

I'm alive and well, and happy in the only celestial mission in the world, Chile Concepción Sur!
Till next week, much love

-Elder Wilcox

P.S. I will in deed be praying that Romney takes the win, since only a few hours are left...(sorry Anna!) Can't wait to see what happens!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or snap it broke, I don't beleive it...

Well, it's halloween time here in Los Angeles and the Evangelicals couldn't be more scared. Thankfully Los Angeles happens to be more Catholic influenced, and the anti-day-of-the-dead-don't-celebrate-halloween-or-the-devil-is-your-master signs aren't as common. I'd love to see Lota this time of year. But Elder Badger (who is also familiar with Jerry Seinfeld comedy) and I have enjoyed a good laugh or two about some of Jerry's best trick-or-treating jokes. This year however, it will be trick-or-preach as halloween is barely recognized here and Wednesday will bring it's own living souls to save.

So we keep a working. It's gone very well here, and thankfully the field is white and there's lots to do. So the days are long and the weeks are short and that's just how I like it. I don't remember if I mentioned in the last email, but we're currently teaching two families right now, and one came to church yesterday so we're progressing very well with them. The other is presenting a few more problems but we're still hopeful that this week will prove the difference.

I'm glad to hear all is well on the home front. And by that I mean, frustration and patience-testing trials, over-packed schedules, Frankenstorms (love the name), head-to-head political battles, and a demanding publisher. I hope all turns out okay and that in the midst of the storms of life (real or simbolical), Christ's love keeps you going with faith and hope. Yes, things will turn out alright, they always do, if we have an eternal perspective.

Unfortunately there's not a lot of time this week to write. I had a backed up inbox with letters from the Asistents and other tasks and now it's time to go. I'm grateful for all your letters and for your examples. I love you family (and friends) and I pray for you always.

Anna, where are you? Are you alive? I miss hearing from you and hope all is well in Cougar-land. I still have a letter waiting to send you but don't have your address! Hope to hear from you next week.

Until next week, have a wonderful week, and I'll let you know how our mission conference with a General Authority went and how cool the halloween package is!

Much love,
Elder Wilcox