Monday, January 30, 2012

Otra Semana Morte el Polvo

Hola, mi querida familia!

I apologize, but this letter once again is going to have to be pretty short. It's the price I have to pay when I send lots of photos and re-read emails. Last week I watched the videos you sent, but there wasn't audio, but this week I got to hear them! It was so cool seeing the house, my nieces, the whole family and everyone so happy. What a blessing it must have been to all be together. This week I read (I admit, for the first time) the pamphlet on Preparing to enter the Temple. The thought of eternal families has been on my mind a lot recently, and how grateful I am for the Gospel that blesses us with power to seal families for eternity. I know for me, it wouldn't be heaven without my family.

Well, we had another wonderful baptism this past Saturday. Lidia Ines de las Mercedes Araya Espinoza entered into a covenant with the Lord and received a remission of her sins. Although it was a beautiful experience once again, it wasn't quite the same as last week, since we don't really know her all too well. When we got to Carahue, we found her name under Former Investigators, so we went and visited her in Puerto Saavedra. She had already met with the missionaries in Concepción before moving to Pto. and received all the lessons. She even had a baptism scheduled, but for some personal reasons it fell through. But we began to teach her and prepare her again for this month. After setting an ambiguous January goal, we weren't able to find her for a few weeks. Then one fine Sunday, she and her husband (who has been a member for a long time, but was inactive for a while) showed up at church and afterwards told us and the Branch President that she wanted to be baptized. So we set a date and arranged for everything. Since then, they've come to church every Sunday, and I have a feeling they're going to be very strong. Her husband performed the ordinance, and in a year they want to go to the temple to be sealed together along with their adorable daughter Clarisa.

Other fun adventures: This week we had a meeting in Concepción for ALL of the companionships in the mission that are in training. They said it was going to be a return and report meeting, but basically all we did was have lessons from the Asistants and then then teaching practices. It was so-so. but they did mention a very interesting statistic. Aparently, this mission is very very young, and within the next few months, more than HALF of the missionaries are going to be new (6 months or less). That means that we have a tremendous responsibility to learn a lot really fast. As far as I know, I'm still going to be training in the next transfer, but man would I love one more transfer with Elder Salas. I don't feel prepared yet. But I suppose that's how you have to learn. You can't do things you couldn't do before unless you do them.
I'll go ahead and explain the whole week. Basically this past week was one long P-Day. Monday was the real PDay, then Tuesday we traveled to Temuco for our District Zone meeting, after which we got ready to travel and headed to Conce. We arrived late and stayed the night in an apartment there. The next morning we had the meeting, after which we had lunch, and then headed to the mision office to pick up a package from Jennifer! (Jennifer!! The package was awesome! The cheez-its went fast, let me tell you, and the Golden Grahams went even faster the next day. And the images are awesome! I'm excited to gift them. Thanks bunches!) After that we headed back to Temuco, got there late and stayed the night in Padre Las Casas. The Next day, Thursday, I had a companionship exchange with one of the Zone Leaders, Elder Laurito until Friday afternoon. From there we had to prepare the baptismal font. ie. clean it and begin filling it so we wouldn't have to arrive at the church ridiculously early on Saturday. On saturday we had the baptism and a branch activity which took most of the day. Yesterday was normal. And that brings us to now! I'm excited for the next week to be able to work really hard and have the whole week. We've got a ton of stuff to do, and not enough time to do it in!
Other fun fact: I'm starting to think in Spanish now! Like officially! There will be times where I'm imagining conversations in my head or something and the words are in Spanish. It's super weird! I've also been having a lot of moments lately in our lessons where I'm speaking and explaining something and while I'm talking I realize that I'm speaking another language without trying or thinking. It kind of makes me jump a little. But it's super nice to be able to speak now and not have it be such a struggle (depending on the topic and who I'm talking to).

Wow, I realize this letter is pretty lame, especially compared to last week. But it was a pretty chill, quick week, and I'm out of time. I love you all very dearly. Jacob and Corey, it's good to know you haven't forgotten about me. I certainly haven't forgotten about you either and all of my friends back home. I pray for you daily. Now write me, fools!

Well until next week, I leave you all with my testimony that Christ lives, that there is no other road that leads to salvation than the one he has laid. If you haven´t read the Book of Mormon yet, or if it's been a while, read it! We like to talk to our investigators about what we call in this mission "most important thing." And that's the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the reason we talk about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, The plan of Salvation and everything! Everything leads to the Gospel of Christ and salvation through baptism and the holy ghost. Without the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, His gospel is not complete. Without the Book of Mormon, we can't know fully of the ordinances of the Gospel. Without Joseph Smith and the Priesthood that was restored to the earth through him, we can't have the authority we need to perform those ordinances. I think in the next few emails I'm going to talk more about the lessons we teach. I want everyone who reads to know as much as the people we talk to about the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you all! Talk to you soon!

-Elder Wilcox

Fernanda and Andrea participating in the game at the end of our Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening), last Monday. 'Twas a silly game.
Some paisaje on the way to Concepción. I realized that the landscape in this part of Chile (between Conce y Carahue at least) is really quite boring. I'd love to travel more south or more north one day and see all Chile has to offer.
On a micro in Conce
The view from the apartment in Conce where we stayed Tuesday evening.
Two Elders from my District in the MTC! Elder Ratto y Elder Ferwerda.
Upon arriving back in Temuco after Concepción wednesday night, it was really late and we couldn't catch a bus to Carahue, so we stayed the night in the house in Padre Las Casas with the Zone Leaders and the Elders from Cunco. This is us eating incredibly delicious Churrascos. They're sandwhiches with some kind of meat, i'm not sure which, palta (avocado), mayo, and tomate. A very common junk food here.
Preparing the almuerzo at the Branch activity that we had on Saturday after the baptism of Lidia.

 Karaoke in the Church building haha 
The most incredible price for papas fritas anywhere. 500 pesos is one dolar.
This is for you mom. They were selling "Completos" I'm not sure what they really were.
This girl looks EXACTLY like Selena Gomez. I think it's her. 
With a giant duck think we found in Pto. Saavedra
In Pto. again
Reading the scriptures waiting for Andrea and Fernanda to arrive to their baptism
The view above Vista Hermosa, a neighborhood in Carahue
Again in Padre Las Casas with all the completos.
Almuerzo in Concepción after the reunion. We're eating one of my favorites, Humita, it's like mashed corn cooked in the husk. You open up the husk and eat it with tomato and sugar sometimes.
Eating Nachos in Padre Las Casas right before eating those Churrascos. I feel like I send a lot of pictures of food/us eating. I think I might be a missionary.
 At the baptism this past Saturday of Lidia with her husband and her daughter. Her husband baptized her.
All of the recent converts of January cooking together!
 Eating (once again) Choripan. Basically, it's a piece of longaniza, or Chorizo (sausage) in a piece of pan (bread), usually served with Ají (chilean hot sauce).
 In the house of Andrea waiting for Almuerzo (she fed us yesterday, woo!)
 At the table.

Monday, January 23, 2012

El Evangelio en Acción

We're running super short on time this week, so I apologize, but I'll have to be very brief. I'm going to hit the obvious highlight.

This past Saturday was the baptism of María Andrea Palma Salas and her daughter María Fernanda Lizama Palma, as well as their confirmation yesterday. I had the tremendous blessing of being able to baptize both of them. The picture I sent with me in white holding my towel was right after the ordenance and depicts me happier than I have ever been in my life. I can honestly say that the joy and peace that I experienced that beautiful day surpasses anything I have ever felt.
Andrea said from the very beginning that she wanted her baptism to be very private, something very much between her and God, so we had just the bare necesities. The attendees consisted of the Branch President, the primary president, Andrea and Fernanda, Elder Salas and myself, as well as Orfelina, a delightful old lady who calls all the missionaries her sons, who was baptised herself last year. The service was very simple, but beautiful. Pdte. Budaleo directed, we sang Nearer, My God, to Thee. Hermana Evelin gave the opening prayer and Elder Salas gave a short message, after which the ordenance was performed. We returned to the chapel and Hermana Evelin and Pdte. Budaleo gave the bienvenidas, after which we sang I Stand All Amazed, and closed with a prayer given by me. Every turned out perfectly.
Andrea and Fernanda were both super nervous beforehand, mostly because I had never baptized before and they were afraid I would drop them or hold them under too long. Fernanda was a little embarrassed about her tunic, but enjoyed saying many times how she and her Mom looked like angels.

One day in the streets, knocking on one last door for the evening, we found Andrea Palma, a timid yet somewhat stern lady who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, had a daughter whose best interest was very important to her, and wanted to know what God expected of his children. A month later, she has quit smoking entirely, something she hasn't been able to do for over 15 years, has learned how the Gospel blesses families, and has developed a powerful yet humble testimony of the Restoration and the everlasting Atonement of Jesus Christ. Now she and her daughter are reborn as followers of the Savior, living his commandments and enjoying the blessings of truth revealed. When we asked Andrea and Fernanda how they felt after the baptismal service, they shyly hesitated a little bit, looked at each other, and then, unable to hold back the laughter and smiles said simply enough, "bien."

This is the Gospel in Action. That Jesus Christ, the very Son of the living God, gave his life for his friends, that we might overcome the obstacle of sin, and live in the presence of our God. I apologize that this letter is so short this week. But I give my testimony to all that read this letter that Christ lives, that He is the head of His Church, that the Gospel in its completeness has been restored through a prophet of God. I know these things are true because I have seen them change lives, including my own. I wouldn't be here, far from home, far from friends and family, learning Spanish, walking all day every day, talking with everyone, and struggling every moment to testify of the Gospel of Christ if it weren't true. I invite everyone, my family, and all my friends, to learn of the truths that have been restored to this earth. I invite you to read the Book of Mormon, and I invite you to put into practice the teachings of Christ and watch the Gospel in Action. I love you all very much. Talk to you soon.

-Elder Wilcox

Celebrating at the house of Andrea after the baptism.
A Typical uppermiddle class neighborhood/street (this was taken in Temuco in the suburbs). These houses are very nice compared to Carahue, but average compared to some places around the outskirts of Temuco. Note the German influence. There are a ton of Germans in Chile.
 A standard church building in Chile (Not ours in Carahue, but someday)
 Activity today in Padre Las Casas. Completos...mmm.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another week bites the dust

Seriously, time is really starting to fly in the mission. I can't believe we're already in our third week of our second cambio!

Dear Dad,
I'm sorry to hear that your 40th birthday is swiftly approaching. It must be weird having been in the Whitewater ward for so long and having seen so many changes there over the years, but it's good that the Wilcox family is still able to be a pillar of the ward.
I misspoke in my last e-mail, but by a slight detail. We can take pictures other days, but the handbook says do not take pictures during proselyting time. And since that's almost every moment of every day, I don't take many pictures other than on P-day. Besides, after my experience with being robbed, I'm very hesitant to carry on my person at any given moment anything that isn't absolutely necessary for the day's activities, such as a lot of money, cards, camera, etc. But it would be nice to have some pictures with the members and investigators and such, as well as our apartment and what not, as you mentioned. I'll try to get some new scenery to you for sure.
Thanks for the e-mail, Dadio. I'm glad to hear everything's going well. I hope the practice is thriving, and that you're thriving as well. I love you, Dad. Talk to you soon!

Dear Mamá,
1) Woohoo!! I'm a free man! I'm glad, after almost one year since the incident (holy cow, has it really been that long?) that everything's all cleared up for good. Now I can laugh about it!
2) WOOOOHOOO!!! That is a tremendous relief! Thank you for taking care of that. Now the only problem is (well, in a year and a half), I don't know how to go about registering for classes, scholarships and all that good stuff while in the mission.
3) Thanks again! Sounds good.

I had a ball reading that letter from Zach Taylor. We definitely have it easy here in Chile. Poor kid. But at the same time, what an adventure! I know he's going to end up loving it, and it will feel weird sleeping in a bed one day. He's going to be a great missionary.
Thank you for keeping Andrea in your prayers. She is progressing miraculously! Yesterday was zero day, and she did it! Now the battle is keeping the record going. We gave her a 7 day plan that the Church has to stop smoking, and she's following it religiously (pun intended). Yesterday we stopped by to visit and offer encouragement. We watched Finding Faith in Christ and shared some scriptures from the Book of Mormon, including Alma 7 and 3 Ne. 9. We talked a lot about the miracles of the Lord, and about the miracles Andrea has seen in her own life since learning about the Gospel. She said, "my entire life I've tried to stop smoking, and I've never been able to do it. I don't know why now I'm succeeding." So we helped her see that it's thanks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his involvement in her life. Christ heals more than just sins. Andrea is more than prepared for her baptism, and I know she's going to be a powerful member of the Church here in Carahue. Her daughter as well is very prepared. It's going to be a great Saturday. I can't wait! We have another investigator as well named Felipe, an 70 something year old man with a heart of gold, who can't hear very well, but is doing everything he can to learn about our message. He's been to church twice, is reading the Book of Mormon, and already has a date baptism the 18th of February. He has a strong evangelical background and says "amen" to almost everything we say, so it's pretty fun teaching him.
Other fun story. The other day, we were in an intercambio, or companionship exchange, and another Elder and I were working here in Carahue. We had a wonderful lesson with Marisol and her daughter Alicia. They're super receptive. But what struck me was that in the middle of the lesson, Elder Lusk felt prompted to share the words of Joseph Smith concerning the first vision. While he was reciting it, I hear Marisol reciting the words with him softly under her breath. She knew them more or less by memory from the pamphlet we left her! Afterwards, there was a little silence, and Alicia said simply enough, "muy fuerte." Or so to speak, very powerful. I was really cool seeing how the Spirit was working in them to testify of the restoration and how God has prepared them to receive this message.

Back to news! I'm glad to hear Romney is doing so well. I mean that in the sense that I'm glad the Church is getting publicity. I'm obviously not in the loop at all of what's going on politically in the United States. In fact, it's really strange to think about elections and everything. Normal, ingles speaking life in the States seems like such another world. I hope though, that in the midst of all the publicity, that people understand that Mitt is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and not of the "Mormon" Church or worships Joseph Smith or something. We spend many moments everyday explaining to people that the folks that they call mormons, worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to whom the Church belongs. It's a shame that so many people don't understand, but at the same time, it's always a great teaching opportunity, and an opportunity to introduce the Book of Mormon, which testifies of Christ.

I do enjoy the role of Missionary. It's definitely the hardest role I've every played, but by far the most gratifying. Yesterday Elder Salas and I learned a scripture mastery (I think) while walking in the streets. "He aquí, soy disípulo de Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios. He sido llamado por Él para declarar Su palabra entre Su pueblo, a fin de que alcancen la vida eterna." I hope we can all play the part of disciple of Christ all the days of our lives.

I'll trade weather with you for a day if you want! It's been pretty hot here, not Georgia hot, but hot all the same. Especially when we're in church clothes outside walking all day. Yesterday Elder Salas and I did 80 contacts. Or in other words, we preached the Gospel in the streets and houses to 80 individual people over the period of 6 hours. We were so exhausted at the end. But we reached our goal for the week of 140 contacts! So yay, we're a good example to the rest of our district now. But yeah, oh would I give for one day of cold...just one though. Brusters Ice cream woo! I hope you get it! (like Chorus Line, anyone, anyone, Anna?) We do have ice cream in Carahue, but it's generally pretty expensive, so we only treat ourselves to it every once in a blue moon. In Chile (I'm going to miss this when I get home) there are a bunch of little hole in the wall stores/shops that are called negocios. They're located in randoms places, in the middle of neighborhoods and all over the place. They sell lots of candy, treats, small selections of beverages, fruits, vegetable, occasionally bread, basically like a mini mini supermarket. But they're everywhere! And treats in Chile, like candybars and the like are always ridiculously cheap compared to the States. My favorite is still Cariocas, but I'm gaining a liking to Golpe+, which is like a crunch bar but in rod form? I'm not sure how to explain it. One day, I will have tried all the many treats and sweets they have here but not in the States. Hope everything's going well dearest sister! I love you muchly!

I apologize, I'm running out of time, so this might be a little short! First off, I have no idea why it says someone from Chile logged into your account. I don't even know what your account or password or anything is. Very weird. I'm so so so happy to hear everything about Lexie and all of your experiences as new parents. And so happy to know that you are both learning and growing so much together in this. I can't wait to see pictures from your new place! In case I never said it before, congratulations! I will be sure to pray for snow for you. What's going on in Utah with the lack of snow?? Crazy.. Haha at first glance at that picture with Elise and Alexis in matching outfits, I honestly thought, "That's weird, why are both of their shirts in English when no one can understand that." Then I realized you're in America. It always makes me laugh seeing people here wearing shirts in English when they have no clue what it says, and I enjoy translating for them, especially one's that say things like "I make good babies" or something. Love you, seester! Hang in there and keep being a super mom! Thank you for writing :)

No, you're amazing! ;) I'm glad to hear your semester is going well so far, and super pumped to know that you're loving your major!! That's awesome. Here, I'll help you decide. Remember when we talked about Music Therapy? You're still minoring in music right? Just a thought. But other than that, I really don't know what one does with a Psychology major either, so I wish I could be of more help :P I'm not surprised you have a lot to say in your sociology class. No doubt you're the smartest one in it. Haha yay Addie! I'm glad your family is fond of me. I can't believe you don't like completos! So so delicious. I'm actually about to eat one in a few minutes at one of my favorite places in Carahue. Yo como pura basura cada P-Day, me encanta. I actually have heard the song I believe! They performed it at the Tony's. It's...interesting haha to say the least. But yeah, the message is pretty good. I have a song recommendation for you! I heard a song here that I have absolutely fallen in love with. It's called Tabaco y Chanel por el grupo Basilos. Son mejicanos, yo creo. Pero se me quedo pegada esa canción en mi mente todo el día. Search it! I'm going to finish writing you a letter today. Be excited! Until then, chao mi amiga :)

WOO! Congrats!!! Way to be a champ and hang in there for so long. I can't wait to hear what it is. Let me know as soon as you find out! And many thanks to your family for the letter and the kool-aid. Es muy rico! Love you, buddy. Keep learning, keep progressing. You can never be too prepared for the mission. Talk to you soon :)

"A pack of Miss Palma's cigarettes that we disposed of for her."
"my AWESOME package from the youth of the whitewater ward. I had such a blast looking up those scriptures, and eating the treats of course."
 "I did my best with the puzzle."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cambio Numero Dos

Hola uno y todos!

Before I start in, I've got a few questions.

-Along with my stolen wallet, I believe I lost my BlueCross BlueShield card. Do I need a new one?
-Did you ever hear anything back from BYU about my deferment? I fear it might be too late now. I really don't want to have to apply to my school again, while in the mission especially. I'm lost, and have no idea what my status is with them or what I should do.
-Sorry no photos this week. We're in a different Ciber this week and it won't let me grab photos from my camera. So next week I'll send lots! Haha, yes I promise I am a missionary even with all the fun pictures. We can't take pictures while we're proselyting, so obviously the pictures are only going to be during fun time!

Jenn - Yay you read about the big news! I wondered if anybody in the family would receive any report about that or anything. It's all over the news here obviously, and Elder Salas is sure that his mother in Santiago is dying of worry. I'm happy to tell you that I and all the missionaries are perfectly safe. It's exactly like you said, I've barely noticed anything. We might have perhaps seen a small fire in the hills a long ways off in the distance of Carahue yesterday, but we weren't sure. I don't know if you ended up telling Mom about it, but Mom if this is the first you hear, no worries! Nothing's happened. That's awesome about Ethan singing along with you. Does he talk a lot more now than the last time I saw him? I miss your kids. And you and Sterling of course! Fortunately for us, there was no disturbing music New Year's Eve, so we slept fine. Our minor afflictions were for but a small moment :) Hope you are having a wonderful new year! Love you!
Okay, I was going to start into the whole person by person response thing, but as always time is short, and I really want to spend this E-mail talking about what has made this past week so incredible. However, I thank you all so much for your letters and your support! I love hearing about your lives, and you are all always in my prayers.

You might remember a little bit about Andrea Palma from our Skype, but for those of you who might be reading who weren't part of that Skype, I'll summarize.
Andrea Palma was a contact one day, the last one of the day in fact. The whole day, we didn't really make any progress with anyone, and no one sincerely wanted to listen. We were feeling a little discouraged, but still willing to give the end of the day our best effort. We decided to stop by the house of two guys that we had met the past week. The ended up not being home, but instead we were answered by Andrea. Andrea had been searching for a church for a long time. She had researched Jehova's Witness, Adventists, Evangelicals, Catholics, but everything left her more confused and concerned about her spiritual welfare. We found out later that in that moment at that house, she told herself that if we preached to her, she would take it as a sign that God was trying to help her find the way. Of course, we preached to her. We shared the message of the Restauration, and explained how we can know what God truly wants for his children in the midst of so much religious confusion. We left her a pamphlet, set a next visit, and she told us that she was going to have lots of questions ready for us, which of course made us extremely happy. Since then, we have also been teaching her 9 year old daughter, Fernanda, and they are both as gold as golden could be. Andrea understands every single principle we teach her, often before we even teach it. There have been many instances where she'll explain something according to her opinion and research, and we basically confirm that what she said is exactly right. I remember when we first invited her to be baptised. It scared her to death, and she was sure that she wouldn't be ready for such a large commitment. She said that baptism is like marriage, and she wanted to be absolutely sure, because afterwards, it would be once and for all. Whatever religion she decided to join herself to, she intended it to be forever. We promised her that through continued prayer and study, she would indeed be ready. The baptism for her and her daughter is scheduled for the 21st, and here we are, more than 10 days beforehand, and she is incredibly prepared. The primary thing that we have been working with her on is quitting smoking, and that's what I want to talk about specifically relating to this past week.

We knew from the beginning that we needed to set a plan with Andrea to help her stop smoking, but we weren't exactly sure how to do it or where to start, so admittedly we procrastinated a bit. But after a lot of study of Preach My Gospel and realizing that we needed to do something fast if she was going to be ready for baptism, we met with her I think Wednesday for a lesson. After talking a lot about The Book of Mormon and her batism and everything, the timing was right, and told her we wanted to set a plan with her. At this point she had cut down the smoking to about 10 a day, and we wanted it to be zero at least a week before the baptism. We marked on one of her calenders that everyday she would smoke one less than the day before. So we set aside 45 cigarettes for her, enough for 10 days (she had over 200 in her house). The rest we put up on her entertainment center, in front of a picture of Jesus among the nephites that we gave her, and covered them with a goal paper that she wrote that says ´´Por Diosito, por Jesucristo, por Fernanda, y por mi bautismo.´´ We also told her that we wanted to fast with her to start off the goal. However, fasting means no smoking, so we knew it was going to be very difficult. Elder Salas and I shared some of our favorite scriptures with her. I shared Matthew 26:41 and explained how in this special moment, when Jesus took all of the infermities and sins of all of us upon him, he told his disciples to pray in order to avoid temptation. Elder Salas shared 1 Corinthians 10:13. After an incredibly spiritual lesson, we finished with a pray that I offered. I've never felt the Spirit work through me so much in Spanish, and I don't know where the words came from, but it just flowed. I prayed with all my heart that Andrea would have the strength to accomplish this challenge. After the prayer, the Spirit was super strong, and I think I saw Andrea discreetly wipe a tear. It was an amazing experience. And even more amazing is that she did it. She went the entire 24 fast without smoking once. I have no doubt in my mind that she's going to conquer this, and we're going to have a beautiful baptism with her and her daughter. I have to go now, I wish I could write more. But God answers prayers! He strengthens us in times of need, if we confide in Him. I love you all! Have a wonderful week! Chao!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy 2012!

You're in luck, because we took a little bit of time to write emails, went bowling, and now we're back finishing up, so I got your email! Woo! Haha, you sound pretty stressed, and I don't blame you. But somehow you always seem to have a positive and often humorous attitude in the midst of your trials. That's crazy that's it's been so long since your mission. I remember when Sterling left for his. I can only imagine how the rest of my life is going to fly by. I'm glad to hear Ethan and Elise are well. I love your kids and always keep them in my prayers. Congratulations to Liz!!! That's awesome! She's going to love it, I'm sure. What a cool opportunity. Jenn, thank you for always being an example to me. I often think about my own mission, and think about how well you served, and what I can do to live up to the legacy of my awesome sister :) Hang in there, I can only imagine how stressful life is for you right now, but keep being awesome and the blessings and relief always come.
Dearest Ashley,
Thank you for sharing that bit of revelation with me. You have such a strong, unwavering testimony, I know the Lord hears every word of your prayers, and I have full confidence that no matter what you end up choosing, you're going to be a tool in the Lord's hands. I'm so proud of you and your decision to serve, and grateful for your example to me. I hope you have a wonderful new year filled with many, many adventures. Love you sis :)
Dear Dad,
I will certainly keep you and Brother Coburn updated, should I ever make it up north. Did he spend his whole mission around that area? Ohhhh that strawberry cake, I can only imagine. They don't eat a whole lot of cake around here, but they do occasionally have ice cream, and it is to die for. You probably wouldn't like it as much since it's served softer, but man is Trés Leches good. We do indeed get fed pretty well, even in Carahue. We have a lunch appointment with different families every day except Sunday and P-Day. Haha! That's hilarious and awesome that Ashley was so good with the gun. I never would have guessed either, but she's always full of surprises. Way to go sis! Now all you need is that Harley! You're very welcome for the DVD. I'm glad that it continues to be special for you. I have wonderful memories making it, and it was a pleasure to do so. You have read that post on my blog about it right? I will be sure to keep the camera going. It was great seeing you last week. Miss you dad :)
Dearest Mother, Mother of mine,
So good to hear about all the happenings of Christmas and New Year’s. I couldn't help but think over the holidays about what my family would be doing in the very moments that I was tracting, teaching, or studying, or whatever. I'm sorry to hear that New Years was a little different this year, but glad that I didn't miss out on too much, because our New Year’s wasn't quite as wonderful as our Christmas. The entire day, we found ourselves quite discouraged and bummed out that everyone was partying, cooking, with the family, and having fun. No one invited us over for the evening, so we entered the house alone, no understanding why we were feeling so bummed out. Just a week ago, we spent Christmas in the house by ourselves, and it was wonderful! Eventually, in the midst of loud music in our apartment complex, the sound of laughter, and the smell of BBQ, we realized something very obvious. Christmas was spent as solo missionaries in the house, but we knew what was most important and found solace in the beautiful message of Christ's birth, and we were happy. New Year’s has no special message really, and the atmosphere around us was one of pleasure and party, and in that there is no solace. In that moment, we became very grateful for the understanding we had during Christmas of the things most important, and the opportunity to serve Him whose life and death gave us the greatest message of hope and love that there is. We ended up eating ice cream and watching the Joseph Smith movie, and as we remembered our purpose, we were happy.
Thank you for the beautiful analogy of the seeds. Do you have to make everything a sermon?? :) But seriously, never had that thought crossed my mind, but what a powerful analogy it is, and one that I think is really going to help us in our work here. We've been trying lately in our efforts as gardeners, to teach people how to fish. We realized that the people here were given fish by the missionaries, but never taught how to fish, so they ate for a few days, and now are left hungry. They don't know how to read the scriptures, and they don't know how to receive answers to their prayers. So we're teaching them how to fish, so that they may eat for the rest of their lives.
Wonderful story about Melinda as well, and a lesson that I would do well to learn. But I'm trying, learning it little by little every day. I have to go now, but I love you all dearly! Thank you for your love and support. You are always in my prayers. Thank you Mother for helping me get to where I am today.
Love, Handsome Son (Elder Wilcox)