Monday, September 24, 2012

A Great Week in Lota

Hello dearest family! Thank you ALL for writing me this week. Because you all did it and it filled my soul with joy! I also appreciate the photos from Jenn (you all know how much I love your families and watching your children grow), and the celebration in a Mexican restaurant haha. I realize that there's not really any authentic chilean food around there, but thank you for the intent. I was there in Spirit.

So I apologize profoundly because once again I'm going to be really really lame and not write much this week. I do apologize, these last few weeks have just been very busy and complicated. Right now we're in Lebu doing some errands for Elder Wood's Visa so we have to get going home now to get to work! Lots of travel!

It's going really well in Lota and it feels great to be working really hard every day. We've found a TON of new people to teach and we're excited for next month and hoping for a lot of baptisms. This week we've been really focusing on the Restoration as our main finding focus and it's worked really well. It is, after our, our singular message to the world, and this week my testimony of it has grown a lot.

I have a few requests, Mother dearest, mother mine. So today, sadly, I lost my wonderful camelback water bottle that I bought in the MTC, so can I request a new one for the next pacakge whenever it is? It's the kind that has a pop up, bite-down, drinking bit. The bottle is transparent with color, and has like a straw thing inside of it. I think they sell them in Walmart but if not definitely in a sports store like Dicks or something. Also, I think the time has finally come to ask for my other gray suit. The blue one's getting pretty worn out and one of my pair of pants is still sad from having had mold growing all over it (loved that old house). so if it's posible, that would be great to have.

Other things. Mom, I dedicate you a song. You might have to search for it on Itunes or something, but it's called Bless my Son by Nashville Tribute Band and it will make you cry.

Also, I recommend that everybody look for Patterns of Light on mormon messages. It's a fantastic series of videos with Elder Bednar and helped me learn a lot about personal revelation.

Well that's all for now! I love you all and am so greatful for your letters and your examples of faithful service in Christ's church and for your dedicated discipleship that you show through your actions. Have a great week!

-Elder Wilcox

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Feliz 18!!!

First of all forgive me for not capitalizing anything. the shift key is really finicky on this computer and i've given up with it. that being said, feliz 18!!!!! its a beautiful day in lota and there's a lot of buzz and excitement in the streets as the people celebrate chilean independence day. it smells like barbacue everywhere and everybody's making empanadas. we celebrated today buy playing a sweet game of futbol on the brand new court they just finished building next to the chapel and sharing a delicious pichanga afterwards. no we're finishing up the p'day and wondering what the work is going to be like after 6pm with all of the drinking and fiestas. well we'll see what happens. surely there is a good family out there who doesn't drink and needs the gospel and will welcome us into the house with smiles and alfajores. that's the hope anyway.

so like i mentioned in the last email, yep, we moved houses on saturday. yes, im still zone leader with elder wood. but we left the disgusting mold filled cold apartment (pics to follow) for a delightful sun filled house in the center. for your info dad, we live in the corner of serrano and caupolicán. we love our new house!!! (pics also to follow)

The work is going really well. we're working our tails off with elder wood and we're excited to see the results. God has blessed us with a bunch of new good investigadores, and it's going to be a good cambio with him. i really like him a lot. i feel like i can be myself around him, we get along great, and we work hard. things are awesome.

Well that's all the time i have this week. i apologize. i really needed to write some converts this week since it had been a while. i leave you with my testimony that this work is true. that god is our heavenly father and that he has a plan for every oone of his children. i know christ lives, is our savior, and the only way we can find true hapiness and salvation. I love him dearly, and strive to emulate his example, and invite all to do the same. i live you now with awesome words of elder holland in his ces fireside talk this month (BIG thanks to anna for telling me about it. it made my week)

You never leave your religion at the door. Not ever.

Cool. lots of love to everyone and may you have a blessed week!

Elder Wilcox

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Here We Go Again

Well, the time has come for cambios! Here's the scoop:

I'm staying here in good old Lota, and I will be joined by Elder Wood, a nice Canadian who was the companion of Elder Salas recently. Elder Aparicio will be heading to the middle of the mission to a small branch in Los Sauces, where he will be Branch President. An interesting new adventure and challenge for him and he's super excited.
I'm pumped as well because three of the missionaries that arrived with me will now be zone leaders, so I'll be seeing more of them. Cool! Elder Ramírez, my first son, will be training for a third time, and he will be my district leader! It's going to be a great zone and I'm excited. And it'll be interesting starting it all off with the festivities coming up for the 18th of September, Chile's independence day. Gotta say, Chileans are more patriotic than we are I think. They get three days off work for the occasion and start preparing a week early. It's like a mini Christmas, only less God and a lot more booze. Well, maybe that doesn't really count as patriotic, but they sure do like to celebrate! I'll let you know how the empanadas turn out.

Unfortunately I don't have much time to write this week. It's been crazy with the cambios and Elder Aparicio getting ready to leave and us getting ready to move houses! Yikes! Thank you all very much for writing. Elder Gooden, no worries about not being able to write hand written letters. Believe me, I understand completely. I will be happy reading your regular weekly letter.

Anna, hey! Sounds like a very major specific line up of classes. That's weird, I forget that when one has a little more time in university, one begins focussing in on the major. Are you really that much far ahead of me...? You're a junior! How was starting off this year? Has everything gone as you hoped? I sent off a letter to you, but I still don't have your new address, so I sent it to Oregon, sooo you'll get soon as possible! I request your new address please! Thanks for writing :) Good luck this week!

Mom and Dad and fam, fun to hear about all the commotion with the grand kids. They must be so big now, I can't wait to see them!

Well that's about all I have time for this week. But I'm doing very well. I'm happy and hopeful. And my testimony continues to grow that God loves us and answers our prayers. I know he's answered mine and I'm so grateful for it. This is his work, and it's a marvelous work and a wonder. Have a great week everyone! I love you very much!

Elder Ross Wilcox, Esq.

With Elder Bowman who's leaving. He was in my first zone and a really fun elder who I'm going to miss
With Elder Lusk, my third Zone Leader in the mission, who had a very large impact on me in my first months in the field. A great example to me who I'm also going to miss a lot
We went to Subway in Concepción and to my delighted surprise, 20% Missionary Discount! Vamos Chile!
 Elder Aparicio burned a few photos of his ex girlfriend, haha.
 All ready for bed and cozy in the new blanket. Thanks, Mom!

Monday, September 3, 2012

In Good Hands

Hello hello, beloved family and friends.

Thank you once again for all of your wonderful letters and words of love and encouragement. Every week they are a treasure to me.

Right now I'm writing from the mission office. My companion is on his way back from Santiago right now with two other Colombians taking care of his visa, so I spent the day with two of the Elders from the office in the zone of San Pedro. It was a great P-Day, we had an awesome activity, but now I'm pretty tired and ready to get back to my sector and get a workin'. (In answer to your question, Ashley, the temple of Chile is in Santiago, about 6 hours in bus from Concepción). I was kind of bummed at first that I wasn't going to be able to go with him to Santiago, but now I'm glad I didn't go. I would have lost a lot of sleep on the bus, and a great zone activity, for very little time being there.

Happy to hear that life is going well in good old Georgia. I find it so funny and charming that after a while everyone seems to make it back home to the peach state. I'm happy for all of you to be able to be together. And congrats, Heather, on the new calling! A nice surprise, I'll bet, but definitely an opportunity to learn and to bless many ears and hearts with the gift of music. Serve well, sis!

Things are going well enough here in Lota, we're still working with Yasna's family, although these last two weeks have been a little difficult for us in finding new investigators, and now our teaching pool is pretty shallow. But gotta keep moving forward. I know without a doubt that the Lord has prepared people in our sector. The goal now is focusing on being worthy of the companionship of the Holy Spirit in every moment and following it's guide.

One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is what it means to be a servant of the Lord (and this applies not only to missionaries, but to all people, as we must all serve God). I've decided that being a worthy servant means being a worthy vessel. This goes back a little bit to the email I wrote a while back about putting off the natural man and doing what God wants, and not what we want. It's the same principle, but I thought of an example:

A lot of times we ask God to guide us, or we want him to use us as an instrument in His hands, but then we either aren't obedient enough or humble enough for him to be able to do so. I think of a remote control (realizing, of course, God's infinite love for us, and that we are not simply robots to Him, but stick with me). When we want to control the TV, we expect the remote control to do exactly as it is commanded. If we want to increase the volume, we expect the volume up button to do it. If we want the movie to play, we expect the play button to function. This is the purpose of a remote control, and it must work according to our desires. Now what would happen if there were a short in the wiring of the control or something, and all of the sudden the buttons we expect to do one thing, do something completely different. Wouldn't it be frustrating? We press mute, and the channel changes. At this point, the remote control ceases to serve its purpose. It no longer helps us in fulfilling our desires and must be repaired.

How often we are so much like that remote control gone haywire. We as humans are rebellious people. God gives us commandments, and we break them, because we seek not His will, but rather our own. And in the process we lose so many of the precious blessings that He can give us. As a missionary, this example helped me to realize that in order to be led by the Spirit, I must be obedient. I cannot rebel against God even in the smallest way and expect Him to use me as an instrument in His hands for the salvation of His children. It is impossible. When I teach, my words must be his words, given to me through His Holy Spirit. My thoughts must be towards Him, and my actions must be His actions. As a representative of Jesus Christ, that is my responsibility, to do what He would do if He were in my place, because - forgive the trite comparison - Jesus Christ was the perfect remote control. He carried out perfectly the will of the Father and did nothing save it were correct and in harmony with God's desires. He was perfect in love, in charity, in example, in obedience, in humility, and His greatest desire was to carry out faithfully His role as Savior of the world for the glory of the Father. And indeed, Glory be to the Father for the indescribable miracle that is the life, death, and resurrection of His son.

That's the kind of person I want to be. And the kind of missionary I want to be. I want to be like Christ. And while I know I'm far from reaching that goal, and will never reach it in this life time, every time I think about Him, I can't help but be grateful for His example and think, "He did that for me." And I am comforted by His promise in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 28:9-10, that if I desire to bring souls unto Him, then my joy will be full, and that in time I will be just like He is.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. It's so hard. At times I'm tempted to think it's too hard, but I know all things are possible for God. And like a stone in the river, tossed and turned, I am shaped by Him until all the edges are gone. I've got a lot of rough spots, but I'm in good hands. The best hands.

God bless you all this week. Keep praying, keep striving, be believing, and everything will turn out okay in the end.

Much love,
Elder Wilcox