WOW! I received a ton of emails this week, for which I am very grateful, but at the same time quite distressed because I know there are many topics that I would cover if I could but can't so I won't. I feel like a broken record, but time is again short this week, as always. Especially this week since my computer decided to turn itself off and make me select all of my pictures again from scratch. However, I hope you enjoy the many pictures! Since last week there were very few.
Well, first of all, you're probably wondering if I'm alive, and if you've already lost all hope and assumed me dead, you're wondering who's writing this letter. I am thrilled to state that it's me, Elder Wilcox, and that I am quite alive. Jennifer, you hit the nail right on the head (at least part of your torn self did), just as you did when the news struck of the fires in Araucanía: Yesterday's temblor, I didn't feel a thing. Very few did really, although many told us it had happened. This marks about 5 temblores now in Carahue that I haven't felt, this one being the biggest. All is well here in the south, although the news tells me that there were about 14 injured and 24 thousand evacuated between Valparaíso and the Bío Bío region.
I really really wish I could respond personally to all of you right now, but there's just no time :( Although I will through a shout out to:
Chelsea Barker - for writing me for the first time. It was great to hear from you!
Austin Chardac - for making me laugh my head off with your wonderfully told drama of the week. In response to your dilema, I say go for it! if you feel it's the right thing to do. And don't forget the advice in James 1:5 and where the best council comes from
All the Wilcox girls for writing me and sending pictures and being awesome!
Dad for staying astonished and
Mom for the advice on how to be the only other parent my companion has ever had
Well, not much time. I just want to sum up a few things that happened this week and share a miracle that happened yesterday. So, last week I believe I mentioned that our investigators were progressing very well. Well, now about four of them have stopped. I don't remember if I ever mentioned Carol, Alicia, or Marisol (two daughters and their mom), but they have always been amazing, and we always had faith that they would receive the gospel and be baptized. Well they finally all went to Church like I said last week, but when we had a lesson with them to see how it went, they mentioned various things the didn't like and expressed their feelings that they didn't think they would be attending again in the future. We were mortified. Carol even asked us "so if we decide to not continue with all of this, you're still going to stop by every now and then right?" Basically, they said goodbye. We shared a few thoughts and scriptures with them and expressed the importance of this message in their lives, but left their house very discouraged and frankly scared. After almost 3 months of effort and some beautiful experiences with them, they were closing the door.
We really didn't know what to do, so we started to think. My every thought for the next three days was in them. I have never in my 6 months in the mission put so much effort into finding answers to the questions of my investigators. I dug through the scriptures, prayed deeply for guidance, and thought constantly in what we could possibly share with them that would help them progress. Well, we finally passed by about three days later, Wednesday, and had one of the most powerful lessons I have ever had in my mission, that brought Elder Ramirez and I and Alicia to tears. We thought, hoped, prayed, that that would be the turning point, and although it ended better than the previous lessons, still something wasn't clickinng. They still had doubts and once again we left discouraged.
Long story short, we started to pray some more. And we fasted. We were and are willing to do anything within our power to help these daughters of God accept the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, they didn't come to church this Sunday, and missed two awesome talks given by me and Elder Ramirez, but late in the evening last night, heading towards one last appointment, we just happened to cross Carol on her bicycle heading for her house. We talked for a little bit, and she said to us "Hey, so you know what. I almost went to Church today. I've been thinking a lot about what you said the other day, and this morning I had a strong desire to go to church. And by the way, I'm thinking about giving up smoking and coffee." We were stunned and had no idea what to say, so we just listened. She continued to share with us a text message on her phone that she almost sent to us in the morning. It read something like "brother Ramirez and brother wilcox. Today I'm going to church. I've been thinking a lot and even if I don't join with your religion, I want to try one more time." We congratulated her for her decision to try again chatted a little bit, and walked away speechless, filled with a joy and hope that I can't describe.
Moral of the story, what happened with Carol, we didn't do that! God did that. Why did he do it? Because we worked. Because we applied the advice of Elder Wirthlin to put our trust in God, do everything we could, and leave the rest to him. And God provided. He sent the Spirit to move in her heart in a way that we simply cannot do. This week, my great lesson that I have learned is diligence and obedience. God gave us our agency, and he expects us to act. And when we give our all, and it's just not good enough (and it never will be) He knows we care, and He does what we can't. I have a testimony of the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God, and the miracles our Heavenly Father works in the lives of those that act, with an eye single to His glory. It is not enough to want. It is not enough to praise God with our lips.
21 ¶Not every one that asaith unto me, bLord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that cdoeth the dwill of my Father which is in heaven.e
12 Let no man adespise thy youth; but be thou an bexample of the believers, in word, in cconversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, indpurity.
I know that God worked a miracle yesterday. That He opened up a door that was about to close. May we all be obedient. May we all work hard, and honor the will of our Father in Heaven, that he may bless us with things we need that we can't do ourselves.
I wish I had more time to share my thoughts on this subject as well as similar points from my talk that I shared yesterday, but I leave you all with my testimony that Christ lives. That God is our greatest help, but He will rarely do for us what we can do for ourselves. Otherwise, we would not learn. And when our best just isn't good enough, He lifts us up, comforts us, and does the rest. I love my Savior, I love this Gospel, I love the beautiful experiences that I have been blessed with on my mission so far. May we all be a light not just of the world, but to the world, and glorify God in our thoughts, words, and actions. Thank you all for writing me. I love you dearly. Till next week!
- Elder Wilcox
My district right now, which consists of Carahue and Nueva Imeperial
My apartment! Finally! Sorry it took so long, Dad.
A beautiful field in Carahue, between the neighborhoods of Entre Ríos and Los Pensamientos
More food! gifted to us by the sweetest Hermana Norma Paredes
Sporting the cool weather coats.
From awhile ago, I don't remember.
Waiting for the bus to Temuco the night before the conference in Los Angeles
Zona Temuco Cautín!
The glorious piano of the Carahue branch.
Rehearsing the small primary choir for the activity we had on friday. it was actually quite lovely.