Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Week 8 in Lagunillas

And there is no earthly way the time has gone by so fast.

Some things:
1. I did in fact get the package! Thank you many muches! I had fun sharing the special oreos with everybody, and they kept asking me if it was my birthday. I had to keep telling them that they weren't reading right. It was Oreo's birthday, obviously. I also enjoy wearing my Soy un hijo de Dios pin at every conference and at Church every Sunday. And I am especially enjoying the dulce de leche cheerios. Muy rico! So much, in fact, that they made me think about all the other delcious cereals in Gringolandia that they don't have here. So I have a request! If it be possible, could you send me Smart Start? It really is the most delicious cereal I have ever encountered, in the States or in Chile. Thanks!

2. Other requests: So my watch (my best friend. My beloved Casio. My one and only) finally went the way of all the earth. Or rather, the way of having to be duck taped, because the band broke. So could you send me another one? If I'm not mistaken, they're sold in the K-Mart in the Braelinn shopping center. It's the model F-105.
Also: Remember how I had a CD case filled with dvds of p90x? Do you know where that is, and if so, can you send it to me too? (We have permission to do P90X in the mission so I want to take advantage of that. I'm getting rusty).
Lastly: I request printed photos, if possible. I suppose I could do it here, but it's a little bit more complicated, and more expensive. So new ones of the fam would be awesome, like with the nieces and nephew and such.

3. I was thinking about the last movie I saw before the mission, and I can't for the life of me remember what it was, so if anyone remembers or has any idea, let me know, and I'll feel more at peace.

Okay, so this week as District Leader really wasn't too different, not to mention my district is only us and one other sector, so four missionaries in total, but it's still been a good experience. I like teaching a lot, so it's nice that I get to prepare classes for our District meetings based on the needs of the missionaries. I'm getting an idea of what Elder Salas felt like too when he was dictrict leader, although his job was a little bit harder, with more missionaries and a trio of sisters that did not get along. All in all, I'm happy, and excited to keep serving in this position and hope I can help all of us (myself included) to be better missionaries every day.
This week was a little rough, and not as insanely success filled as the last week. But it was a week of miracles, and we were able to progress a ton with several investigators, and we're now teaching the grandma of Daniela as well and we're going to try to invite her to be baptised along with her granddaughter. We've got a ton of potential for the week of july and my hopes are high.
The only disapointment (but in reality it's definitely for the best), is that Lorena was not baptised this Saturday. She didn't pass her baptismal interview as she still has a few things to work through that she hadn't told us (still not sure what it is. Hopefully she tells us today). What is interesting to me though is that this week I've realized the importance and inspired nature of interviews in the religious sense. When we all finish our mortal journey, we'll have to give a report to God about the things we did and didn't do while here on earth. We will all be accountable. The baptismal interview (and any other interview in the Church), is a lesser version of that same principle. It is the opportunity to report on our progress and give testimony before an authorized representative of the Church (fulfilling the scriptural requirement outlined in DyC 20) that we have repented of our sins and are willing to move on and make covenants with the Lord. The principle of interviews is just one more testimony to me that this church is true, and the doctrine inspired. Imagine it, if it weren't for that interview, perhaps Lorena never would have been baptised, or perhaps she would have done it without truly being worthy of taking upon her the name of Christ. So, although not having a baptism was a little disapointing, I am happy that Lorena understands the importance of these things and is willing to keep striving to overcome her weaknesses and repent. And when she does, her baptism will mean all the more.

Well, that's really my only story for today. This week I will try to focus on more things that are astonishing. I am still, after all, learning how to recognize all of the miracles that happen everyday, and sometimes I go too long without recognizing them.

I am, however, astonished by all of the marvelous news from my marvelous family (and Anna. You are always included). I know I always say it,  but it's because it's always true: Your letters make my week every week and I love hearing from you (and that includes you, Ashley. Never think your letters are less important to me than others. I love hearing about your life, no matter if you're in Italy or in Dad's office. Thank you for always writing :) ) I am astonished by the blessing of having the loved ones that I have. Next week I think I'm going to try to respond a little more directly to your emails (but to hold me to it!).
Well, I leave you all with my testimony that this work in which I am involved is the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sé que ésta es la iglesia de Jesucristo y que él a restaurado el evangelio en estos últimos días por medio de un profeta viviente. Sé que nuestro Padre Celestial nos ama, y es por eso que él manda a tantos jóvenes cada día a salir a predicar estas buenas noticias a todos sus hijos, para que todos nosotros seamos rescatados por medio del buen pastor, sí, Jesucristo, el hijo de Dios. Sé que el vive, y que estamos en la verdad, y lo comparto con ustedes con mucho amor, en el nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.

Much love,
Elder Wilcox

P.S. My scripture that I will now choose for my plaque will be: Alma 22:15. These words, spoken humbly by King Lamoni's Dad are some of my favorite in all the scriptures. We don't necesarily have to give up all that we have to receive great joy, but we must be willing to do so, to give anything and everything to God to be truly happy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A New Page

Well another cambio has gone by, and just like every cambio, this one went by faster than the last. The mission really does fly. This cambio, though, there's some big news. I'm staying with Elder Perez to finish his training, but I'm now going to be a District Leader. I'm not really nervous, per se, just anxious. I feel like this asignment (like all callings and asignments in the Lord's Kingdom) is going to be a huge learning experience. It's going to be difficult, but worth it. I feel this past week I've started to pass through a new stage in my mission, so I guess it's good timing. I've really been trying to understand my purpose better as a missionary, to really internalize it, be obedient and follow the Spirit in everything I do. And I've already seen the blessings that come once we realize that (just like you said, Ashley), God blesses us. We don't bless ourselves. We alone are capable of nothing. Especially in missionary work. There are just too many factors that are beyond our control to leave things to chance and our own strength, so we have to put our trust in the Lord and work with the Spirit, because it does everything that we cannot. Like my wonderfully wise companion said, "we have to gain the trust of Him who gives the best references." If God knows that we're here for Him, and we're going to work hard, he'll lead us to the people He's preparing, and everything will be better.

But yeah, I'm really excited, and I pray I live up to the responsibility. Other cool news, my first-born son is also going to be a District Leader (Elder Ramirez), which is pretty crazy cause he's so young in the mission, but he is for sure a natural leader and I know he'll do great. My dad (Elder Salas) is still going to be Zone Leader, but this time in Lebu (the zone where he was born, so fun for him).

Other than that, things are going great here, and I'm very happy to be a missionary. Daniela did not get baptised this past weekend. It's been very hard to have time to meet with her, because she's been crazy busy with school, but luckily she's about to be done. We did have a lesson with her the other day, and we talked about her baptismal date. She looked uneasy, and we could not figure out what was holding her back, because she's super prepared and truly a "golden investigator." We talked about it a bit more and even tried to set back the date a little bit, but finally she asked us if she could be baptised on a weekday, or if it had to be Saturday. We said no, it can be whatever day. So she told us she wanted to be baptised on the 11th of july. We were a little puzzled and asked why a few times, because she didn't want to tell us. Finally she let us know that the 11th of july is when her dad passed away. She said, "that day changed my life. And I want it to be the day that changes my life again." It was a pretty powerful experience as we testified to her that her father would be smiling down on her from heaven on that day, and we ended the lesson with Daniela looking a lot more calm about her baptismal date. So that's her story.

This weekend, Lorena, however, will be baptised. Her story is pretty awesome too, but I'll have to tell it next week, as I'm running out of time. But she really has been converted, the look in her eyes and the new smile on her face is such a change from the somewhat depressed, overworked, and hopeless Lorena that we found in our first lesson with her. She's very much at calm now, and looking forward anxiously to the remission of her sins and a new life.

Well, time's up so I will leave you all now until next week. Thank you so much for writing. I love you all dearly and wish you the best always.

Much Love,
Elder Wilcox

P.S. Anna: unfortunately, restaurants in Chile aren't really a thing here like they are in the States, so we rarely eat out. Well, I guess we did more in Carahue, but it's not really the same, I don't think. Also: I think about you a lot and think you're amazing. Thank you for always writing and being a support to me. I'm gonna get a letter out to you soon I promise! And you gotta send me some photos! Deal? Deal. :)

A panorama of the wasteland between two neighborhoods on the outskirts of our sector. They're still working on a direct route.
 Again, with my lovely bike.
 With Elder Perez in the Mission Office
Liliana Torres, and her granddaughter Antonela, I love this family tons (lots missing in this picture) and we're trying to help reactivate them and baptise the only remaining unbaptised child of Liliana
 The chapel in Lagunillas
 I don't know what I'm doing in this one, but this is (was) our district, between us, Coronel, and Camilo
 Lorena gave up cigarettes and she's getting baptized on Saturday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Things about Things

First things first: Allison Crumpton you go girl!!! I know I may not have played a very big part in your conversion or getting to know the church, but being a missionary now and looking back on your journey in the gospel, I feel very blessed to know you and to have watched your progress over the past few years. You really are an example to me in your faith and testimony. And I congratulate you tremendously for your decision to serve a mission! It's the best thing you'll ever do. Way to be.

Jennifer, if laughter is the best medicine, then your letters are my hospital. Don't worry about them being random or unspiritual or anything, because they honestly make me laugh and smile and feel so happy for your family. I love that you share with me stories about Ethan and Elise because I feel like I can watch them grow up and be part of their life in a way. The same goes for you Heather, and your little girl that looks SO MUCH LIKE YOU. Seriously, you sent me a picture the other week and I was astonished. But I repeat, I LOVE hearing about your kids and families. Nothing makes me happier.

Mom and Dad, I'm SUPER jelous that you went to see Jersery Boys (but less jealous, since I've already seen it). Isn't it fantastic? I really miss theater and music and everything arts. The other week we had a ward talent show and we as the four missionaries of Lagunillas prepared a skit. In the end, I opted for playing a piano number instead of being in the skit, but it was so fun to be able to relive a little bit of the theater life, as I helped act out and direct the skit during our two short rehearsals. It was also so great to be able to perform on the piano again. It made me miss so much the sheer joy that music brings me, and I'm going to try from now on to find ways to have music be more of a part of my mission life (within reason, of course). It's also fun to be helping out with the chorus that one of the sister missionaries has prepared for a conference we have tomorrow. I got to listen to a song and figure out the piano part by ear and make musical suggestions. Neat! Missionaries of the Mill. Basically I'm happy for all of those reasons.

I'm also happy because I realized a lot of things last week (you all know how I like realizing things, especially in the Spanish way of saying it, which is so much more true to life - realize in spanish is give yourself acount of something, like check in with your self, analize yourself, etc.). So this week, I gave myself an account of a lot of things. Specifically Elder Perez studied a lot about commitments (I don't remember how to spell that, the word in Spanish is compromise). We gave ourselves an account that in our work, we've had a great lack of powerful commitments and invitations. Up until this point in the mission, I always thought about the needs of my investigadores, and what lesson, or what doctrine would solve their problems. I've realized that doctrine alone is nothing, just like faith without works is dead in itself. We can teach, teach, teach, and teach some more, but if the people we teach don't DO anything with it, it's just empty words, and doesn't really have any value. That's why the invitations we make as missionaries are so important, because if we don't invite people to do something with what they've learned, if we don't help them se how it applies to their life, and how the Doctrine of Christ leads us to repentance, it's very probable that they won't do anything, and they will never progress. So this week we have been a lot more bold and direct in our invitations. We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, we will not be apologetic when it comes to what the Lord has asked of his children. No one can find true peace and happiness in this life unless they repent of their sins. And repentance is a process, a process that leads to a live that is in greater harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In harmony with Christ actually, because His life is literally a map for us to salvation.

Sorry my thoughts are a little disjointed, but I'm very excited about how my understanding (both mind and heart) of the Doctrine of Christ is growing. How I am realizing our dependence on Christ and His Atonement. Without God, we are nothing, but through God, all things are possible, according to our faith and righteousness. This week, Alma 5 impacted me, and I'm currently taking a metaphorical look in the mirror and asking myself those questions that Alma asked so long ago, that help us measure our conversion to Christ. I invite everyone to take a look at their lives, and ask themselves what God expects of them. After that, identify specific things you can do to change, and become more like Christ.

I testify that He lives, that He is our savior, that He died for us because He loves us, more than we are capable of understanding. I also testify that His way is the only way. The world can make us happy for a little while, but we're not here to be like the world, because God has offered us so much more. I know that I am a representative of Jesus Christ, and of His church, and I'm so grateful and humbled by it. I love you all very muchly and love hearing from you every week. God bless you in all that you do!

Until next time,
Elder Wilcox

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm Sick of Lagunillas

Nah, just kidding. I'm only sick in Lagunillas, but I like being here. This week was good, although a bit challenging since I woke up on thursday morning feeling awful with a cold I had developed, and on top of the cold symptoms, a terribly painful stomach for some reason that didn't let me move much. It stole all of my - i'm not really sure what the translation of this word is in English - ganas to work, and our week suffered as a result. I was tremendously greatful, however, for a wonderful comanion who was worthy, ready, and caring enough to have given me a priesthood, directly after which I felt better and we left the house and worked the entire rest of the day without any problems. It really was a miracle, as the stomach pain didn't really go away, but some how became very much bearable, and stopped bothering me completely, although it was still there. It made me think of the people of Alma in the wilderness, when enslaved by the Lamanites. When they prayed and sought the Lord's help, he didn't take away their burdens, only made them light upon their shoulders, so that they could bear them easily, and on the morrow, said the Lord, he would deliver them. I love that the restored Gospel teaches the true nature of the Atonement - that Christ doesn't do everything for us, but rather through his grace, that enabling power of his sacrifice, we do all we can (which is never enough) and then he gives us strength beyond our own to do the rest. 

I suppose, however, that the Lord has at least one more trial for me though before he delivers me, because this morning, upon waking, I had pink eye! Yay Jennifer for sending me your conjunctivitis! So now, I'm trying to wash my hands as often as possible and get ahold of Hermana Martinez for further instructions. I've never had pink eye before, and while it's not the worst thing in the world, it's not fun, and I just want to WORK! But I'm not complaining, I know that I've got it really quite good. Haha I laughed about that first world problems comment from Heather. It's pretty true. There's always someone less fortunate than you. 

Thanks for all the updates on the family. So fun to hear about all the goings-on in the Wilcox (and Hales) world. And thank you SO much for the pictures! I really love my nieces and nephew so much. Can't wait to get to know them better. 

 As for the progress of souls here in Lagunillas, things are going super well, all things considered. If everything goes well in these next few weeks, it looks like we'll have three baptisms in the month of June, which is fantastic considering this is only our first cambio together and we opened the sector. So we're really happy and excited. Elder Perez continues to be a huge example to me and I love having him as a companion. (You'll be interested to know that Elder Perez is studying classical guitar performance in an observatory in Mexico, so he's quite the wiz, and we like talking about music together. He even shares my appreciation for Anton Bruckner's beautiful chorales). I'm also happy to hear from Elder Ramirez that everything's going super well in Carahue too, and they might be opening up a extension of the branch in Puerto Saavedra soon! 

So basically, I'm sick, but I'm happy, cause I'm a missionary, and it's the best thing in the world. I love you all and I miss you very much. Especially you Anna, I've been thinking a lot recently about you, and thank you bunches for the reminders of inside jokes, that made me lol. So happy to hear that everything's great in Gringolandia. Muchos saludos a todos (a G&G too!) 

Much love, Elder Wilcox