Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cambio 3 Week 2

Dear All,

Sounds like you both had an incredible trip! I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little bit jealous. There is no other vacation better than a cruise, and way cool that you got to see some of the soon to be famous spots from the soon to be famous story, Sailing! Now I want to see more pictures! Also, thank you for updating me on the book. It really is crazy to think that it's all actually happening. Even with the news, it's still only the beginning of things. Who knows what will happen next? I continue to pray for you (Mom and Dad) and the book's success. To answer Dad's request for more information about Elder Ramirez, here goes:
Elder Ramirez is actually quite young, only 18 years old! In many Latin and South American countries, missionaries can go out as young as 18. His dad is an I can't remember, but he seems to do quite well, because based on the pictures I've seen, they're a very well off family, especially compared to the high poverty level of Honduras. He has his two parents (who both served missions I think, his dad for the least in Honduras) and a younger sister. After the mission (you're going to like this, Dad), he wants to study odontología and be a dentist! He has a lot of extended family in the United States, especially Texas, so he's toured all around the States, including Texas, New York, Orlando, and others. His dad also speaks English so that helps. Elder Ramirez himself actually speaks quite a bit of English as well, having studied for six years in relatively high profile bilingual school in Honduras. We are actually able to hold full conversations in English and he understands most everything. Pretty impressive. Also helpful when I can't think of a word and he helps me out in lessons. (To answer your question Dad, yeah his accent is a definitely different and everybody asks him where he's from, because it stands out. Compared to the chilenos, he has better pronunciation. Well, everybody does compared to the chilenos. But sometimes he uses unfamiliar Honduranian words and frases that catch me off guard). After the mission, he wants to study and play soccer for BYU, find a nice gringo girl, get married, and live in the states.
So that's about it on the normal life side. I think I listed a pretty good bit of his spiritual qualities in my last email.
I have to admit, I didn't think it would happen Elder Salas and I having had such a peaceful companionship, but Elder Ramirez has bugged me a bit. I don't think it's him so much as it is me being his trainer and having to answer a million questions and trying to strike a balance between experience and untamed fire. I have to say, I have a whole new appreciacion for the pacience Elder Salas must have had with me, because...it's tough. But I can use it to either do nothing and suffer, or learn and be happy. So I'm going to do the second. And this isn't to say that Elder Ramirez is a "difficult" companion or anything. Every good I said about him still stands. It's just a new experience for me, and one that every missionary goes through I know.
Aside from small differences between us (we've never fought or anything. the differences are small so I really shouldn't complain), we've had a pretty tough week this week. I'm still learning how to manage time well and plan our days for the maximum efficiency. (Another thing that Elder Salas did well that I have a new apreciacion for). Organizing your time and people as a missionary is hard, even with the planner! Also, we lost 3 baptismal dates with some of our investigators, one of which finally after 2 months of lessons for the first time admited to not believing in almost anything, including the Book of Mormon and José Smith and still thinks that we worship him. But she has informed us of the powerful emotions that she feels when we visit with her and when she prays, so we were at least able to help her realize that the Spirit is indeed trying to work with her. We're going to keep working hard with everyone, keep fasting and praying and having patience, and I know sooner or later they'll be ready for baptism.

On the good side of things, Aracely and Leo are still more than prepared. It really is incredible. They're getting MARRIED this tuesday and BAPTIZED this saturday! We were going to be witnesses for their wedding, but we don't have our Chilean carnets yet (the chilean ID), but we're still going to be present for it and everything. Also, they've asked Elder Salas to baptize them so he'll be coming to visit Carahue this weekend, and I'm super super excited for that. I didn't realize how awesome Elder Salas was until after he left. It always seems to work like that. Also, after their baptism, the branch is going to throw a huge party for them to celebrate their marriage and first covenant with the Lord. It's going to be incredible. And the same lady from the stake that decorated the Christmas program we did is going to decorate for it! I want to work super hard this week so we can bask in the beauty of what's going to be this Saturday afternoon.

Well, it's time to go. One of these days I'm going to try to write to everyone individually like I used to. But as always, thank you everyone for writing me. Your letters are always cherised by me and make me very happy. Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes!

Much Love,
Elder Wilcox

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Spirit of God

...is burning like a fire inside of my new companion. I am happy to announce that I indeed gave birth to a wondeful, healthy Latino from Honduras named Elder Ramirez. And let me tell you...this kid is incredible. I'm not training him, he came pre-trained! He's 18 years old and has so much faith and energy that at first I had no idea what to do with him, but now his example to me has honestly made me step up my own game. In the meeting in Concepción when we went to pick up our companions, Elder Sigarán and I, having last names farthest in the alphabet, got called up last at the same time to receive the announcement of who we would be training. The only options left were between a poor Gringo who looked so lost and confused, and Elder Ramirez who's eyes were a burnin' with excitement. For one reason or another, President Martinez asked Elder Ramirez to share a few words with everyone in the meeting about a discussion they had had about the role of the Holy Spirit. Elder Ramirez began to give a wonderful, dead on explanation about how we can't teach without the Spirit, and if it's not present in the lesson, we didn't teach. And the entire time he was talking, there was a noticeable amazement in the air of this noobie missionary who understood so well his purpose. And as I glanced around, I met the eyes of President Martinez staring at me with a hint of a smile that seemed to say "get ready," and I knew before the announcement that Elder Ramirez would be heading down to Carahue with me.
After the meeting, we all met in the cultural hall to mingle a bit and eat pizza. Before we all headed off and said our goodbyes, President Martinez asked me how I felt. I said "bien" and expressed briefly my excitement to work with Elder Ramirez. He then put a hand on each of our shoulders and informed us that the impression to put us together in Carahue was "very strong."

Since arriving in Carahue, we have been extremely blessed in this work. Granted, the mission is always a roller coaster, and we've had good days and less good days, but the good days have been incredible! Yesterday, we had 7 new investigators in one day, which is a new record in my mission. I tell you, if I can one day become the class of missionary that Elder Ramirez already is, I'll be happy. Obviously there are things he has yet to learn, but I believe that the even greater lessons I'm going to learn from him.

However, it is still very stressful at times. Jennifer, you hit the nail right on the head, and even though Elder Ramirez makes my job a lot easier than it would be otherwise, I do feel like the universe is balanced precariously upon my shoulders, and that the fate of Carahue is hanging by a thread. But as Gordon B. Hinckley once said (and I have this posted to our window above our desk), “It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.” And that's exactly what I'm doing. And we have already been tremendously blessed...

Remember Aracely? I think I wrote about her last week. Well, we've been meeting with her and her boyfriend, and they couldn't be more prepared. They are so ready and excited, in fact, that yesterday Aracely asked me if, even after they get married, if they have to wait until the 3rd of March to be baptised. I love seeing the Gospel in action, when people gain a testimony of Christ, and they DO something about it.

Unfortunately, I have to go, yet again earlier than I would like. Sorry I couldn't write more, but actually there's not a whole lot to write about as we were not in Carahue for the better part of the week. I will leave you with a few things:

Mom... HOLY CRAP NO WAY!!!!! I about knocked the computer over when I read your email. CONGRATULATIONS! I really don't know what else to say, I want to hear more! I can only imagine what went through your mind when you read that.

Anna... HAPPY ONE YEAR! (Last Tuesday) And yes, I remember Jessica's birthday :) Sorry for not writing more. I'm going to send another letter soon!

A few random things: I forgot to mention last week, but NO, it is absolutely NOT neccesary to send a package only with Sharpies haha. I meant whenever it is that you send another package, throw a sharpie or two in there. Also, whenever that moment is, can you throw in my ties that I didn't bring with me. I'm starting to get quite bored with only 8 haha. (And all of them, if possible, even the ugly ones, just in case)
Also, what the heck is Siri? There's an iPhone 4S? What does iOS 5 do? I'm so out of the loop...for a change..
Lastly, I finally decided on a scripture for my plaque, if you haven't already chosen one for me that is. Sorry it took so long, I kept forgetting! It was also very hard to choose, because I have many. But I'm going with Romans 8: 35, 37. Not 35 through 37, but 35 and 37.

that's all folks! I love you all very much. Thank you for always writing me, please know that your letters are always a great strength and joy to me. Until next week!

-Elder Wilcox
 Fotos de Temuco Cion!
A picture of Carahue that Elder Salas took that I love.
 The lemon pie that one of our investigators made before Elder Salas left!
The pasteles de choclo, note how they are typically cooked in Chile in a special ceramic bowl rather than a glass pan. I think that's what makes the difference. I'm going to buy one of those bowls today at the Potato Festival
 We always call Fernanda Pato, or duck, so we took a foto of us being patos
Beneath Puente Quillem
 sitting on the bridge
 Me and mi hijo!
 all of the parents and their children on the bus headed down south
At the potato festival. This is a pastel de papa, like pastel de choclo but with potato topping. But this just happens to be the pastel de papa most big in the world. that came out spanish. oh well. Every year they do one and try to beat their previous record. Look it up in Guiness records!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Elder Salas Becomes an Abuelo

Yep! It's oficially oficial! I'm pregnant and will be giving birth this Wednesday! I'm really excited. Well, excited and scared (name that show). And it also means that this week is going to be a little crazy as tomorrow I have to travel yet again to Concepción, spend the night, and Wednesday morning pick up mi hijo, sea latino o gringo. That also means that I'm really short on time today, as we're in Temuco right now be we have to hurry and head to Pto. Saavedra to spend the day with Andrea and Fernanda! Woohoo! Elder Salas did his goodbye's yesterday which meant we ate a TON. We had lunch with Andrea and she served us two plates of lasaña with potatoes and tomatoes and palta, followed by a HUGE chunck of watermelon. Afterwards, we headed to teach Marisol, who served us apples and two pieces of pie. Directly afterwards, we headed all the way from the top to the centro to meet with Orfelina, a delightful member and her investigating husband. They served us pastel de choclo followed by ANOTHER huge chunk of watermelon. At this point, walking was pretty hard, but we had to climb back up again to the upper part of Carahue to the house of Andrea for a lesson with her sister!! (more of that in a second). There, she served us a few Chilean pancakes (like crepes) filled with manjar (like caramel, but from sweet and condenced milk or something). We were hurting pretty bad. It reminded me, Dad, of that experience you had in your mission with several dinner apointments back to back.

Okay, so! We've met a few times in the past week now with the sister of Andrea! Andrea started talking to her about her experience (she wants to convert her whole family. Sometimes she's more missionary than we are, it's impressive.), so through her we set up an appointment to teach her. Her name is Aracely. She's almost 24, has a little bittie boy named Ángel, and lives with her boyfriend Leo, and she is incredible! Seriously, she's even more prepared than Andrea was. Well, maybe not more. But in a different way. Anyway, in one week, she has received all the gospel lessons and now we're starting into the commandments. The other day, we asked her in a lesson out of curiousity in her progress, "Have you prayed to know that the Book of Mormon is true." She hesitated a moment, then said, "It's just that..I already know it." Already, she has a powerful testimony, and you can see the sincerity in her eyes and hear it in her voice when she tells us thankyou for passing by and teaching her more about the Gospel. It's incredible to me that the random person we contacted in December is now baptized along with her daughter, and now we're teaching even more of her family. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Well, I need to cut it short. I wish I could talk a lot more about everything. But next week we'll talk! In Carahue, with my kid! Woohoo! I love you all. Thank you for writing me.

Elder Wilcox.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Last Decisions

I name it that because this is my last week of training, my last week with Elder Salas, and my last week before training. Yep, we have received word (more or less, in the form of an email to Elder Salas from the President saying, "make sure your companion is ready to train") that I will be giving birth to my first child in the mission next week. I hope it's a latino! Because there are still situations where I don't understand things. But I have faith!

A few things first:

So, one of the things I lost with my wallet that fateful day was my temple recommend! So I'm working with Pdte. Martinez on getting a new one, but I'm not sure where I can find a plastic recommend protector thing like I had. Can you send me one whenever it is you send me another package? No rush, but when it's convenient.
Other requests together with a future package - a few sharpies - like the fine point ones. Mine's starting to wear thin. Also.....Reese's cups. I miss those things like crazy. That's all!
Also, when I left the MTC I left a suit behind along with a shirt and some things in a box ready to send. I gave the task to the other Zone Leader to send it home to Georgia since I wasn't going to be able to do it before heading out. Did that suit ever arrive? That would be a shame if not. I doubt the Elder I gave it to failed to complete the task, he was honorable.
One more thing: I request photos of Ethan. I have many wonderful photos and videos of Elise and Alexis for which I am very grateful, but I wanna see the E-Man too! That is all :)

Corey - It is SO good to hear from you! I understand you're super busy, so no worries, but it's super good even just hearing about the little stuff from your lives back home. That's crazy about Jacob! But I'm glad to hear he's alright now. Keep being awesome, keep learning and growing and putting your faith in Christ. I love you man, and all you peeps back home!

Dad - Haha yes, I am now thankfully able to share my personality more with Elder Salas. We're crackin' jokes and laughing now. But man at the beginning was it tough. Especially for him, I can only imagine. Dadio, never think your letters are useless to me. I absolutely LOVE reading them and hearing about your life, no matter if things are exciting or slow or in between. Thank you for always writing. I love you, Dad.

Ashley - Thank you for you letter. Glad to hear things are going well and your trying out the singles ward! Way to try something new :) You're letters are always a support to me.

Mom - Glad to hear your terribly busy and stressed and that everything's normal for you ;) The Spanish Lake huh?? I wondered when you mentioned that last week what on earth you were talking about. Very cool concept! I too am interested in the history of where I am, but I only wish I had more time/resources to learn it! I love you much and I'm going to start praying more specifically for the success of your projects and especially the trilogy. I know you do the same for me in my endeavors.

Heather - HAHAHA your letter made me laugh out loud. Oh the adventures of parenthood. I can only imagine... Hang in there, it only gets better (life, that is, so they tell me. I don't know who they are). Thanks much for all the pictures. We showed Andrea pictures of our families the other day and she loved seeing Alexis, especially the pro photos from last year. You're right about our Father in Heaven. I screw up all the time, even in the mission, and yet he always patiently and lovingly forgives. I can only imagine the love he must have for his children.

Anna - I'm glad to hear everything is going better, and that you set some KILLER goals for the week. Truly, I'm proud of you for knowing and applying that which really counts. I think a Huminatarian trip sounds awesome! Also, I sent your letter! It should be arriving within the next few days. Be on the lookout! Thank you for writing. Talk to you soon :)

Jospeh - I never responded officially to the news! HOLY COW!!! THAT IS SICK! Y también, vamos a poder hablarnos en Español, el mejor segundo idioma en el mundo! Estoy muy emocionado por ti y por todas las experiencias increibles que vas a tener. Prepárate bién, porque solo tu puedes cambiar las eternidades de las personas a quines vas a enseñar. Que Dios te bendiga y te ayude en cada cosa para que te vayas y sirva con todo tu alma, mente, corazón, y fuerza. Estamos en contacto hasta que te vayas. Cualquier cosa o pregunta que tengas, me avisas. Chao

Ugly tie day at Distri-Zona meeting.
In honor of PaloVerde High School, and a girl I knew who went there.
All the rest are from today! The other day, we were in a lesson with one of our investigators who is quite the sportist, and she told us of a waterfull slash creek outside of Carahue up in the hills, so we said we have to go. So we did! It was her, her sister, who is also learning about the Gospel, Elder Salas and I, the two Elders from Nueva Imperial and 3 members of the church there. It was an absolute BLAST! You know how much I love to explore and adventure, so it was wonderful after so much time finally being able to satisfy my thirst for the wild. But now, I am absolutely exhausted! 'Twas a good P-Day. On the note of the thumbs-up, that's so weird, but you're totally right! I looked at my pictures and sure enough. How strange, I think it's something I picked up here in Chile, but I'm not sure where, when, or why. I need to think of some other poses! Thanks for the thumbs up heads up!