Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's Raining, It's Pouring!

Hello again! Yes, we survived the torrent! I don't know how much you all follow the weather here, but we had quite the downpour here on Saturday and Lagunillas became Lagunotas (haha Spanish joke). It started raining Friday night and by saturday morning it was pouring rain with incredible amounts of wind. For a moment the winds were reaching 80 kph. Elder Perez and I attemped leaving to go proselyting early in the day, thinking we would stay dryish, and for about 5 minutes it was fun, and we were right. But after about 10 with winds that pushed us through the streets, we regretted that decision and quickly came back to the house, completely soaked. So after a hot shower (tremendous blessing), we headed to our lunch apointment and stayed about three hours hoping the rain would stop, but it never did. We were even going to do divisiones with a guy from the ward but his dad, who's the second counselor of the stake, told us not to go outside because it was too dangerous. So we called our district leaders and they told us only to go the scheduled lessons that we had. Long story short, we had quite the adventure (as our light and water was cut off for a few hours as well) weathering the storm, and realizing that missionaries can't always be superman, and sometimes even we have to bow to the forces of nature. Thankfully things have calmed down now and the weathers pretty tolerable.

So that's my fun story for the week! I'm really happy to hear from all of you. How's the calling going, Dad? The new grill sounds awesome, and I can't wait to cook up some Chilean specialties on it when I get back. In that little North south nook street you found, we live in the third house from bottom to top that faces sideways. There's like three little houses that are identicle in the nook, we live in the uppermost one. Mom, I'm glad to hear that the book continues to spread and have a lot of success. I want pictures of the printed version! (ps all our investigadores, etc think it's really cool that my mom's a writer who's going to have a published book. And I think it's pretty dang cool too. Thanks for the other book you sent me in email as well haha. But truly, I'm glad you read and could share your thoughts with me. Your emails are always quite powerful and a great strength to me.
The missionary work in Lagunillas keeps moving forward, and we're having more and more success every week. It's still pretty difficult, as I'm not used to working with 4 missionaries in the same house, and there are a TON of distractions. I feel like lately, I've lost a little bit of my edge because of it, but I know I can't blame my effectiveness on others, so i'm going to take it as a challenge and try to overcome it. I feel very blessed (and tried) being here, and i still believe that God has some great things in store for me this transfer if I'm faithful. So I guess right now I'm promising to you all as well as myself that I'm going to do everything possible to take advantage of being in this sector at this time, and try to grow as much as possible. Thank you for all your letters and love. It means very much to me. I miss you all and pray for you every day.

Spirit booster from yesterday: So we had an investigador named Lorena that had a baptismal date for june, but one day, she just disappeared. Like, we passed by her house tons of times, called her a bunch, and nothing. Just gone. So we were super dissapointed and not sure what to do. We worried about her. So last night, upon arriving at the house, we said a prayer, and for the first time truly, really pleaded with God that he would help us find her. He knew where she was and what was wrong, and we prayed that he would lead us to her if it was his will. About 10 minutes later, while we were making a bunch of phone calls, we decided to call Lorena once more, and for the first time, she answered! And we were able to set up another visit with her for Tuesday. I know God answers prayers and also listens to the prayers of all of his children and sometimes answers them through other people, according to their faith. God knew where Lorena was, but he was waiting for us to care enough to ask. And when we asked, we receieved.

Have a wonderful week, and pray always!

Much love, Elder Wilcox

Our neighbor (member of the church, ex-missionary) cutting off the doorknob to the study room of Elder Ahart and Elder Terrón. They woke up monday morning and for some reason the door was locked from the inside, and Brother Gavilán likes to do things extreme, so he brought his gear over and helped us out. We enjoyed a good loud moment, with sparks flying, and the Indiana Jones sountrack playing for extra effect. 
A game called Ninja Warrior that missionaries here are very fond of. We played it after our zone meeting last week.
 Mine pictures!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Being Converted

Helllllooo beautiful family and friends and animals.

Well, things continue to go well here in Lagunillas. It continues to be a challenge, and therefore a huge learning experience. After all, nothing truly worth doing was ever easy to do. My companion, Elder Perez (you're right Jen, he does look pretty Lamanite), continues to be a tremendous example to me. He, being a convert to the Church, really gets it. He really understands. Me and the other elders in this house, don't truly grasp what it means to have a mighty change of heart. We don't really know what conversion is like. I would say without a doubt that Elder Perez is a lot more converted to Jesus Christ than I am, and he makes me think a whole lot about my own conversion. Not in an unfair comparison way, just that he's helped me learn a lot. I really think these six weeks are going to be a big game changer for me. I've realized a lot of things that I still need to learn.

One of them being how to better manage my time in this new sector, because once again I don't have much time to write. I also am not going to be able to send pictures this week, even though I have a TON of good ones. Today for our zone activity (today was P Day because yesterday was a holiday in Chile), we went to an undersea carbon mine in Lota and we got to wear light hats and it was super cool.

Right now we have an investigator named Daniela and she is a gift from God. Honestly, I think she was like a welcome to Lagunillas gift, because she is incredibly prepared for baptism. We've still barely taught anything, but she always reads in the Book of Mormon, and she went to church on Sunday and loved it! And the ward was incredible! They all welcomed her sooo well. It was really impressive. Daniela has a very sincere desire to change her life and you can really see that hope in her eyes when we meet together. It's amazing. She has a baptism date for the 16th of June, so I'll keep you all updated.

Well, I've got to get to work now. It's already late. Thank you for writing me, and for all of the wonderful support and love that makes me so happy and grateful every week. This week, I've been studying Moroni 7 and 2 Nephi 4. They are FULL of doctrine and principles. Check em out! I know Christ lives. I know he is our Savior, and our greatest hope and joy in this dark, sad world. Believe in Him, because He always believes in us. I love you all!

Until next time,

Elder Wilcox

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No time to say hello goodbye!

Hello one and all

I apologize, family, as today I really don't have time to write much of anything. My email task just got even longer, as now I have to (get to, really), write my converts! And my companion still needs to write! It was so great to see all of you yesterday, it really was a miracle to be able to have all of us together. Thank you for all writing and always being a support to me. I love you all very much, and I promise I will write something significant next week. For now the pictures will have to do most of the talking. Take care!

Lots of love from Lagunillas,
Elder Wilco

A nice gift from Ana (got baptized this Saturday) and her older sister Paty (we helped reactivate her)
With both
With Aracely and Leo saying goodbye
All the gifts I got from people
The oxen!
The whole fam! (minus great-grandpa Elder Salas)
With Elder Phelps (comp from the MTC)
With my son looking out on the Bio Bio from the President's house
This is how Elders get initiated in the Coronel Zone (falling backwards)
A picture from Lota, a little bit south of Coronel, where we have our zone meetings
On the way back to Lagunillas from Lota, looking out over the Pacific

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Time Has Come

So you're probably all wondering why I'm writing so late today. It's been an interesting few days, as we have spent the better part of our time yesterday and today saying goodbye to everyone here in Carahue. Well, I've been saying goodbye. That's right, my time has come. After five wonderful, fulfilling months, I'm leaving behind my first home in the mission and the first people I learned to love in Chile. But there's some very exciting news behind this sad goodbye.

Tomorrow, very early in the morning, Elder Ramirez and I head to Concepción to pick up our children. Yep, my son's going to have a son and a brother at the same time. It's going to be a great challenge for us both, as Elder Ramirez is still quite young (in the mission sense and in the age sense), and will have to feel the same weight of Carahue's future weighing upon his shoulders as I did when I began to train. A challenge for me as well, as I will be opening a sector with my kid, who very possibly could be a gringito that doesn't speak a lick of Spanish (oh, how the tables turn). The good news is that Elder Ramirez has a baptism coming up (Ana, if you remember) this Saturday, which will be a great start to the cambio and a great start to the mission for his companion. My comfort comes from the news that my new sector, Lagunillas, near Coronel, has a very strong ward as well as several returned missionaries who are very willing to do splits with the missionaries. Granted, I have very big shoes to fill, Lagunillas being the past sector of our now zone leader here in Temuco (I had a companionship exchange with him once...he's a machine.) Also, when the asistents called me they informed me that Lagunillas has a record of being one of the most successful sectores in the entire mission, but that lately they've been experiencing a little bit of a low, so they want me and my faith-filled-freshy to lift it up again. I am extremely excited/nervous/hopeful/anxious for the new adventure and to open a new chapter in my mission life, but very sad to be closing the first.

I love Carahue. I love my converts. I love my investigators. Having spent spent five months here, and it being my first sector in my mission, I've established some roots here, and I've felt very strange these past few days, knowing that there's a chance that I will never see these people again in my life. It's sadder than leaving home for two years. I told everybody that I've said goodbye to that my greatest joy, apart from the wonderful friendships I have made, has been sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and watching it change people's lives. I know I've left a mark in the lives of these people, and for that reason I feel a certain sense of importance. Not in the sense of pride, but in a very humbling way that I've never before experienced in my life. Like what I did here is the most important thing I've ever done for anybody anywhere. And I know that that's true. And truly, I don't say it to boast, but I say it out of gratitude for the beautiful experiences my Father in Heaven has given me, and because He has made me an instrument in His hands to bring the Restored Gospel to His children.

Well, the Ciber's closing and we have to go say goodbye to some other folks. I'll talk to you all VERY soon! Time really flies. I love you all dearly and can't wait to see your faces! Muchos saludos desde Carahue! Nos vemos en Lagunillas!

-Elder Wilcox

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

Well I guess my mission has gone by faster for you all at home than it has for me here, because Elder Ramirez and I have already been together for 11 weeks, this being our 12th and final week of training.

Why was my second to last email called "A Tough Week?" Good question, I have no idea, because it wasn't. I'm not sure why I called it that. Huh. But yes, my last email represented a tough week. Thankfully not for lack of food or shelter (although our monthly budget has not arrived yet, due to a minor mix up from Church headquarters. For a few days, Concepción Sur will be the only mission in Chile with many missionaries eating bread and butter and leftovers until the money arrives). Thankfully not for sickness either. It was tough for a severe lack of success and a huge reality check for me that I had not been as focused and hardworking as I should have been.
However, I am happy to announce that this past week was absolutely incredible (the missionary is always a rollercoaster, but this has been the biggest 180 up to date). Elder Ramirez and I did a lot of self-analysis, set some lofty goals and went to work. And we worked, and we worked, and we worked. In fact, I have never worked so hard in my 7 months in the mission. And it felt great. We were/are pretty exhausted, but it's a joyful exhaustion. What happened was aparently the whole mission has been suffering from a bit of a lazy sweep, so President Martinez extended the challenge to every single missionary in the mission to complete the standards of excelence, or do everything possible to do so (just so you have an idea Jenn of how high those standards are: 5 baptismal dates, 15 lessons with a member, 15 others, 5 progressing, 10 new investigators, 10 lessons with less actives/recent converts, and 140 contacts). Every now and again, President Martinez does weeks like that that he calls weeks of santification. The purpose of this is to help every missionary realize what is our own potential. Well, it did just that. I can't say we completed with every one of those key indicators, but we did come close on a few and surpassed some others. I have a new sense now of what I'm really capable of and how much more I can give to this work. There truly is no other greater work in the world, and I'm so honored to be a missionary.

(Disclaimer: I realize that missionary work is not about the numbers, and please don't think that that's where my focus is, because every one of those numbers has a name behind it. But yes, setting goals and striving to reach them helps us grow and reach higher levels of dedication)

So I don't have much time to write any cool experiences this week. I apologize. But everythings going really well now. All we had to do was work hard. Who knew? We have a batpism coming up on the 12th of May and she's super super prepared. She's like another Andrea, which is really cool.

I love you all dearly. I apologize for the short letter, I promise I'll write more next time! I think about you and pray for you every day. Thank you for all your support and love.

P.S. Jennifoffer, packages and letters both should go to the mission office. It's more secure that way, in case of any hang ups, especially in smaller towns like Carahue, and in case of transfers. And goody! I would love to receive actual letters! :)

P.P.S. Heads up, Mothers Day is coming up, and you know what that means. Skype time! Boy time flies. I'm thinking the skype will probably take place on Sunday the 13th of May. Everybody get your Skype up to date so we can group chat! Woohoo!

 Sadly, I couldn't take it back to Carahue.
 Our zone in yellow after a mission conference the other week.
 Part of the talent show we did today for a tri-zone "Family Home Day"
Other act from the talent show.