Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or snap it broke, I don't beleive it...

Well, it's halloween time here in Los Angeles and the Evangelicals couldn't be more scared. Thankfully Los Angeles happens to be more Catholic influenced, and the anti-day-of-the-dead-don't-celebrate-halloween-or-the-devil-is-your-master signs aren't as common. I'd love to see Lota this time of year. But Elder Badger (who is also familiar with Jerry Seinfeld comedy) and I have enjoyed a good laugh or two about some of Jerry's best trick-or-treating jokes. This year however, it will be trick-or-preach as halloween is barely recognized here and Wednesday will bring it's own living souls to save.

So we keep a working. It's gone very well here, and thankfully the field is white and there's lots to do. So the days are long and the weeks are short and that's just how I like it. I don't remember if I mentioned in the last email, but we're currently teaching two families right now, and one came to church yesterday so we're progressing very well with them. The other is presenting a few more problems but we're still hopeful that this week will prove the difference.

I'm glad to hear all is well on the home front. And by that I mean, frustration and patience-testing trials, over-packed schedules, Frankenstorms (love the name), head-to-head political battles, and a demanding publisher. I hope all turns out okay and that in the midst of the storms of life (real or simbolical), Christ's love keeps you going with faith and hope. Yes, things will turn out alright, they always do, if we have an eternal perspective.

Unfortunately there's not a lot of time this week to write. I had a backed up inbox with letters from the Asistents and other tasks and now it's time to go. I'm grateful for all your letters and for your examples. I love you family (and friends) and I pray for you always.

Anna, where are you? Are you alive? I miss hearing from you and hope all is well in Cougar-land. I still have a letter waiting to send you but don't have your address! Hope to hear from you next week.

Until next week, have a wonderful week, and I'll let you know how our mission conference with a General Authority went and how cool the halloween package is!

Much love,
Elder Wilcox

Monday, October 22, 2012

City of Angels

Good morning, family! Thank you for your letters. I'm glad to hear everything turned out so well with the OK Coral even though it was stressful. Also VERY excited to hear that Dad and all the girls could run the race together. Very cool, and now that the whole family lives in Georgia, hopefully we can do it again with me next year!

Well, Dad, you're going to be pretty disappointed with me. I never did take photos of our new house in Lota or the surrounding area (I could not, for the LIFE of me, remember to do it. And every time I got to the ciber, I remembered that I hadn't done it). But alas, perhaps my old companion can send me some photos of it, because surprise surprise I'm not in Lota!

Yep, we had our tranfers just a little bit early (on Friday) since President has a meeting in Argentina right now. Sooo, I am now in Los Ángeles, in the sector of San Martín, zone of Los Ángeles Sur. (Direction of our house, the corner of San Martín and Berna). I'm now with Elder Badger, from California, who used to be in the Coronel Zone before as well. He's a stud and a fantastic missionary. He studied at Stanford before the mission, is a hard worker and super smart with the scriptures. I'm excited to learn a lot from him.

I arrived to Los Angeles at a good time as well. You were all right about the struggles I was having in Lota, that they would pass. And granted I'm in another sector now, but things have been going really well. We're currently teaching two families, and one of them (the Olave family) is super excited about it, and wants to learn more and come to church. We also have an outstanding ward here, which is a nice breath of fresh air from all of the struggles of the Lota Branch. Bishop Córdova here is the best bishop I've had in Chile so far, and the ward definitely has the missionary spirit, so we're excited to work a lot with the members and get lots of references. There's also a lot of reactivation to be done here, a lot of whom really want to come back to church. So yeah, I'm happy here, and really grateful to the Lord for the opportunity.

As for Lota, things actually did go pretty well the last week I was there too, and although I don't think it's likely that they'll have baptisms this month like we were hoping, Elder Wood and I were able to secure a lot of investigadors and I think November is going to bring a rich harvest. So I'm happy for them.

One thing I'm learning from Elder Badger and my moral for the week is that there's always something more we can do. I'm very impressed by the diligence of my new companion. He is constantly thinking about the work and the investigadors, constantly planning and thinking about what we can do, so it's been fun really getting deep into the work these last few days. (Tends to happen, actually, at the beginning of all transfers. That kind of constant over-drive attitude. Which is wonderful, but tends to wear off as the weeks go by.) But I get the feeling that that's just how Elder Badger is, so I'm hoping it doesn't wear off and I too can learn to be more diligent. There's always something more we can do.

Well, that's it for this week. I'm happy, healthy, and just trying to do the best I can and put my trust in the Lord. Being Zone Leader is definitely tiring, and being in a new zone and not knowing anyone a little intimidating, but it's all a great learning experience. (And it's a great zone by the way, which the token exception of one or two trouble sectors/companionships, but that's all part of it).

Thank you for your letters this week. And especially the fotos! I love love love hearing about and seeing the family. It brings so much joy to me. (Thank you Jennifer  for the experience you shared. I want you to know I really look up to you.) I love you all very much and hope you have a fantastic, very busy week (very busy means normal in the Wilcox family, aparently ;)

Elder Wilcox

P.S. I got the package you sent me by the way! Not the one with the suit yet, but the previous one, and I enjoyed it thoroughly and have the beatiful frame sitting on my desk. Thank you!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

For every actiong there is an opposite and equal reaction

Along the same lines, for every trial, there is an oposite and equal blessing. Sometimes we just have to make our way through the bitter to get to the sweet, else we would never really appreciate it. This week's been kind of a rough one. We're definitely being tried in Lota. All of our plans fall through almost every day and our investigadors just won't progress. It's been a little confusing, because I really feel like I'm at the top of my game at this point in the mission. I've got a fantastic companion and we get along great and work hard together. I feel like I teach better than I ever have, I'm being obedient, and trying hard, but just when things seem like they're about to go good, nothing happens. So we're kind of stumped, Elder Wood and I. We just don't know what else to do, and we assume we're just facing a trial of faith.

That's what I believe anyway. And it's honestly been one of the most spiritually draining trials I've ever had, but you know what? Something's different this time. I'm actually thankful. I'm thankful to God for this trial. Not because it's easy or desirable, but because it's helping me grow, and I really have seen a difference in myself. All my life, any time I ever had a problem or a trial, I just handled it like a child by getting frustrated or depressed, because things weren't going my way. But this time, I am committed to not letting my faith falter. I think the Lord wants me to really understand for once that, without Him, I can do nothing. I used to think I would have success in the mission because I was smart, or skilled, or for my personality, or for any number of self-centered things. Now I come to a point in the mission where, despite all my best efforts, the fruits of my labors just aren't showing up, and it's because I myself can't bring unto myself any measure of success. It is the Lord that blesses us after all we can do. He is the "fount of every blessing." It's something I'm still learning, but I think I'm really starting to grasp more now. So I've been praying, I've been working, I've been trying to show the Lord that I'm willing to do anything He asks of me so that I can just be an instrument in His hands. And regardless of the results, to tell you the truth, I'm actually really happy right now. I feel part of my patriarchal blessing coming true as it says that I will feel joy in every missionary effort that I make. I realize now the wordage of that phrase. Every missionary effort is not the same thing as every missionary success. Despite this trial of faith, I'm finding joy in the work, and joy in being "purified" by the Lord "in the oven of affliction," and I consider it a privilege that God cares enough about me and my eternal potential to send me trials. I love the Lord. I really do. And I love being a missionary. It's changed me so much, and just when I think it can't change me anymore, it changes me again. I can feel myself becoming, little by little, what the Lord would have me be, and it's wonderful. I know if I'm faithful in this trial, the blessings will come, but not because of me. Because of God.

All that considered, I did receive a wonderful blessing today that brought so much joy to my heart. I received an email from Ana, who Elder Ramirez and I taught in Carahue, who got baptized right after I left that sector. She shared with me her testimony of the Restauration of the Gospel and how her faith has grown since being in the Church. And what brought me to tears was her telling me how she had the chance to go to the temple last week to do baptisms for the dead. She said she can still feel the sweet peace of God's heavenly home as she closes her eyes and remembers how it felt to be there. She said it was an experience she will never forget and thanked me profoundly for helping her find the truth.

Wow. That is what missionary work is all about. I am the happiest person on the planet right now. I honestly think that my convert's letters to me are some of the most precious treasures I have on this earth.

Well, that's all I have for this week. I'll let you know how things are going in Lota and when we have a baptism coming up. That is if I'm still in Lota next week. We have transfers this Friday and I have no idea what's going to happen to me! Yikes!

But glad to hear all is well on the home front. Hang in there Mom, you're in my prayers, and in God's thoughts. Congrats Heather and Sam on the succesful job and parental adventures. Congrats Ashley on working on the mission papers, and congrats Anna on getting through a rough week of school. To all, I love you very much and pray for you daily.

Muchos saludos desde Lebu (we're here againg working on Elder Wood's visa),

Elder Wilcox

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Haha no, but seriously I'm SO PUMPED!! There were so many gasps among us as we watched the announcement. Aparently it was pretty surprising to the rest of the general authorities as well as Elder Holland in a press conference afterward mentioned that literally no one knew about it apart from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. I'm so excited that so many people know are going to consider serving missions that might not have done it before. I recommend it to everyone! They're also making some changes in the MTC. The foreign language program now is only going to be six weeks, I have heard, instead of nine. I remember when I was in the MTC, there was a test district who did that, so I guess it worked out well enough. Very very cool, exciting times. However, for those men who are considering when to serve now, I echo the words of Elder Holland who reminded the press that this is only an additional option, NOT an obligation to serve at 18. They did it so that those with specific circumstantial needs could serve more easily. It does not mean everyone is required to leave at 18, you can still do it at 19, but you have the option.
But yeah, it's going to be interesting in at BYU for a while. I wonder how many people I know will serve that otherwise wouldn't have. Hopefully everybody who has the posibility to serve and the desire does so, cause the world needs more missionaries! As Elder Holland said (yep, Anna, I did watch the press conference :)) the Lord is hastening His work!

Well, unfortunately, I forgot my study journal at home, so I can't talk about any specifics from Conference. But yeah it was basically the best thing ever. Every 6 months, I get more and more excited for Conference and then every time it goes by quicker! I just want more Conference! But then I guess there would be too much time learning, and not enough time to applying, which is the harder, more time consuming part. But my favorite sessions were the Priesthood session, especially Elder Christofferson´s talk, and Sunday morning Session, especially Elder Holland's talk.

Glad to hear there's so much good stuff going on in the family. A very very happy birthday to Jenn and Sterling as well! I can't believe your so old! I the Chileans say, veinte-siempre. Ashley, glad to hear there's progress on the mission papers. Keep me updated! Heather and Sam!! Congrats on the awesome job!!! I know you have been blessed by the Lord and may he continue to bless you in every aspect of your life. What exciting news! Anna!!! CONGRATS on the acceptance!! I did in fact say a prayer for you last week that you would get it, and I'm so glad you did! Definitely keep me posted on that one. Way to go girl.

Well, I'm sorry I'm lame again, but that's all there's time for today. I am healthy, I am happy. Being a missionary is great. I love you all and I love this work. It is God's work, and I'm so glad he lets us help Him, so we can learn to and have some of that joy. God bless you all and have a fantastic week!

Elder Wilcox

Monday, October 1, 2012

A New Month, A New Commitment

Well, here we are face to face with a new month, which in the mission means a new chance to work towards new goals, try again, strive to reach higher hights, and recommit ourselves to this great work. Unfortunately as humans, and as 20 year old boys, I suppose, we have to be reminded a lot of the importance and glory of this marvelous work, but I guess that's why the word "remember" shows up so much in the scriptures. We are prone to wander, and sometimes the Lord just has to give us a little reminder from time to time. I say this because today we had a council with all the Zone and District Leaders with President Martinez and it was a fantastic experience. I am always blown away by the power of that man. Of course he has priesthood authority as a mission presidente, but he is filled with the Spirit, and that gives him power. When he speaks, we are silent, and I can feel the Holy Spirit testify to my heart of the truthfulness of his words and reveal to me new truths. That is what I hope to be able to develop as a teacher of the Gospel. Paso a paso. A lot of it has to do with humility, something I always struggle with, but is so necessary to receiving a greater portion of the Spirit. Today an Elder who arrived with me to Chile who was in the council today told us about an experience he had baptising a miracle convert. There's a picture of after the baptism that President showed us of this grown man, with a face of the most sincere gratitude, standing in the font with Elder Brad, and hugging him with one arm embrassing his head. It's one of the most sincere expressions of love I think I've ever seen, and Elder Brad just has this huge smile on his face. He told us as he reflected on his experience, about how that man went to the bathroom to change before Elder Brad got there. But when Elder Brad walked in, he found him kneeling on the floor, praying to God and sobbing out of joy and gratitude. What impressed me most about the story was the humility of Elder Brad, who grew up on a farm, struggles a little with the language, perhaps isn't the brightest kid in the world, but is humble, knows he has weaknesses, and puts his trust in God. He told us that that man was incredibly smart, and he doesn't know how he or his companion were able to baptise him, since "neither of us are very smart. But," said he, "we felt that we were instruments in God's hands to help him receive the Gospel."

And that's all that matters. His story brought me to tears as I thought about my pride once again, and how often I trust in my own strength and intelligence, which really can only get me so far. It's the power of God that truly works the miracles, and sometimes I wander and think I can do it without him. How wrong I am. Because if it weren't for Him and His humble magnificience, I wouldn't be here. President Martinez said today that if God wanted, he could send us all home today and do all of the work Himself. It wouldn't be hard for him. He wouldn't have a single challenge, and he would definitely do it a lot better than we would, but he doesn't. Why? Why does he call a bunch of us do help him in His work? Because He respects our agency and wants us to learn for ourselves. He wants us to grow and progress and learn to make decisions, to be creatures that act, and not creatures that are acted upon. He loves us, and knows our potencial and what it takes to reach it, and I'm so grateful to Him for trusting me with such a great task, weak and stubborn as I am. He's magnificent.

So this month as a zone, with Elder Wood we're focussing on helping ourselves and all of the zone to work by the Spirit, to recognize our weaknesses and do this work like God wants. We need to work work work and do everything we can in order to give God the oportunity to work miracles, because we are saved by grace, after all we can do (2 Nefi 25).

It's been going pretty well lately. We continue to find lots of people, but we have trouble finding them again after the first or second visit, because either they're not there when they say they're going to be or they cancel, and it's hard to find them again, but we're working hard, and I know the recompense will come.

I'm glad to hear the Goin' to Zion went well again. I would have loved to have been there, but alas, I'll just have to wait for the next one. I doubt it's the last, from the sounds of the response.
Hey Ashley, are you still preparing for the mission? How's that going? Have you filled out more of the application? Give me some deets on the progress, there's people waiting for you to teach them the Gospel!
Dad, sorry I keep forgetting to send photos, I honestly don't know why it's so hard for me to remeber. I just haven't been taking a lot of photos lately, and it's always like the last thing on my mind among so many other things, but I will try to remember!!! Until then, keep hanging in there. Like I said, we live in the corner of Caupolicán and Serrano, across the street from (on south side of the gas station).
Mom, water bottle, don't have a preference. I trust your judgment!

Well, that's all for today. Thank you all for writing! I love you muchly! Talk to you next week!

Elder Wilcox