Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why, Johnny Ringo...

you look like someone just walked over your grave..

Classic quote. Turns out Elder Bonnet and his family are huge Tombstone fans, so when he heard that my Mom wrote a book about Doc Holliday, he got excited and said he would tell his dad to by a copy of it. So there you go, Mom, yet another small plug for the book.

This week was a great week. Elder Bonnet prays like it all depends on God, and works like it all depends on Him. He's got a lot of faith, and we've seen the miracles. We have a lot of people to teach right now, including an awesome family that we're going to teach tonight. The weather has indeed been much more bearable here, although still pretty caliente. But I'm happy and the mission's great.

Mom, I apreciate your thoughts about astonishment in the Book of Mormon. Great minds think alike, because I too always enjoy focusing on just what they were getting astonished about. On a similar note, the Bible is also replete with examples of astonishment, espcecially in the Gospels and Acts. At first glance, you would think that everyone was blown away by all of the miracles that Jesus did (which they were), but there was something that caused an even more profound effect in the hearts of the people he taught. Luke explained that "they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power" (Luke 4:32).  Jesus taught as one having authority, not as the scribes did (Matthew 7:29). His doctrine was astonishing, it fulfilled the Law of Moses and gave people a completely new vision of life, of God, and of themselves. He doctrine taught that all of the Law and the Prophets hinged upon two great commandments: Love God and love neighbor. Truly, his doctrine, in addition to his infinite and priceless atonement, is what changed the world, and that for which He will always be remembered. Yes, Jesus performed many miracles, but he himself explained that those miracles were often the natrual result of faith in Him and His teachings, and in other instances only a means by which people might find their faith. He said, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him" (John 10:37-38).

For a time, it would seem as Jesus gave people unspoken permission to "see to believe," even as Philip proclaimed, "Come and see!" (John 1:46). However, Jesus would not always be with us. And although miracles would always be wrought in His name by his true followers, it was to be understood that faith would always precede the miracle and that believing would always be better than seeing. Jesus said to the doubter, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

I'm not sure where I'm going with all of this, as this is just coming off the top of my head. But I guess my point is that as long as the world exists, and we exist in it, we are to walk by faith. God has given us His son, and the Doctrine of Christ, so that we, by our faith, may return to live with him.

Every time I study the doctrine of Christ, I am astonished, both by the tragic beauty of His example and sacrifice, as well as the pureness and clarity of His teachings. I am more astonished by the effect it produces in my own life. As Boyd K. Packer said, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."

I am also astonished by the Restoration of the Gospel throught the prophet Joseph Smith, because of which we have such true and pure doctrine today.

I know this is the true church of Jesus Christ on Earth today, and I'm so grateful to be a member of it, and a representative of Jesus Christ during this time. I know He is our Savior, and our Redeemer. I hope you all have a great week!

Much love,
Elder Wilcox

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Still Hot

It's still really hot. Like in the 100's still, but I've gotten pretty used to being sweaty now so it's okay. I'm glad you had the idea, Mom, to send more shirts, cause these short-sleevers are getting nasty fast. Los Angeles is seriously such a furnace haha. But it's fun.

This week was a big 'ol roller coaster. We had, I think a world record for fallen lessons, no shows, etc., but we also found a lot of great potencial investigadores, families even, and some that we think are truly prepared. So this week's harvest will hopefully reveal the fruits of last week's planting.

Mother dearest, I just want to tell you that you were right about everything you ever told me about cleanliness and household chores. The last few weeks I've been really getting into cleaning the house, and have done some really deep cleaning as well, and it feels great. The bathroom and kichen now are spotless. The only frustrating thing is that after one week, there always filthy again! Now I understand, Mother, why you were always concerned about cleaning things, because they NEVER STAY CLEAN! But it's a good lesson for life. I also love making my bed now, because it just looks so sloppy all undone. I remember also ridiculing you a lot for wanting the house to be spick and span with dishes put away and what not before leaving on vacation. I thought it was an absurd practice. But now, after a long and tiring travel to and from Concepción for ZL councils and other things, it's so frustrating coming home to a dirty house when all you want to do is relax. So Mother, I just want to say, you were always right, and I'm sorry I never understood.

So the mission is really wonderful in every sense. As missionaries, our lives change while we help others change theirs. Irony.

So I'm with a new companion now. Elder Badger has moved on to Victoria, a little farther south. Now I'm here with Elder Bonnett, who I watched be born in Temuco Cautín while I was there. He has almost one year in the mission, and he's a fantastic missionary. He's got a lot of faith, a great, happy-go-lucky attitude, and he gets along great with everybody. He's from Lindon, UT and went to school at San Diego Mesa college where he played baseball. He has a cool story about how he decided to come to the mission based on an experience he had while reading Joseph Smith History. He prayed a lot to know if it was all true and received a powerful witness from the spirit that it was, and although he never wanted to go on a mission before, in that moment he knew he needed to go.

So we're having a lot of fun together and working hard. The zone right now has taken a few hits but we have great District Leaders and we're working closely with them to pick ourselves up.

That's all for this week. I'm healthy and happy. The church is true. The book is blue. And Christ is our Savior. What could be better?

Elder Wilcox

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Love My Family

Truly, I do. I can't ever explain how much I love reading your emails and hearing about your lives. I love hearing how you live the gospel everyday, something that is fascinating to me as a missionary. I love the Gospel, but I think that even cooler than living it as a full time missionary, is living it day-to-day as a "normal" person. I admire all of you for your dedication to Christ and his work.

I also love your families, Jennifer and Heather, with all my heart, even though I scarcely know them. I feel a special connection with them and can't wait to be there in person.

But all in good time...there is still much to do and many people to save in Chile.

Dad, concerning the end of my mission, I would have no problem with you and Mom coming down to pick me up and tour around a little bit. In fact, I would love it. I realize Chile isn't perhaps as historically interesting as France and Italy, but it is a beatiful country with lots of sights that I have not yet seen, and especially lots of people that I would love you to meet. If it is posible for you both, I'd be thrilled. About renting a car, I think yes that would be the best idea. You can take nice, cheap buses just about anywhere, but it's not as convenient, and much more time-consuming. I'm sure you could rent a car in Concepción. Just make sure you have plenty of gas before going anywhere obscure, as gas-stations here are more infrequent.

Mom, glad to hear you're recuperating well. I love you very much and have always admired your courage and perseverance. Hang in there and the prize will be great! Life is astonishing.

This week in Los Angeles was fire and brimstone. IT. IS. SO. HOT. It was above 100 degrees all day for about half the week. Lots of sunscreen keeps us from getting fried, but does not protect us from massive amounts of sweat and heat exhaustion. So that's been the fun challenge of the week.

Yesterday was a great day in Church. One of the talks fell through so Bishop Córdova asked me to give a 15 minute talk to fill the gap. I was thrilled, as I had not had the chance to speak in Church since Carahue, and happily accepted.

The talk went perfectly well and was a success. What astonished me was how the Spirit, added to my personal knowledge of the scriptures and Gospel doctines helped me plan the talk in about 5 minutes and execute it almost effortlessly. It's something that I was not capable of doing in Carahue. But after months of months of intense study of the scriptures, I have seen how the promise in Doctrine and Covenants 84:85 is fulfilled. I treasured up the words of life, and in the precise moment of needed to plan a talk, the Spirit told me which scriptures to use and how to use them. Then, in the moment, I was able to expound on any passage as long as I needed. It is truly a miracle how through the Holy Spirit, God takes what we already know, and enhances it and clarifies our understanding, even sometimes giving us new knowledge, for the benefit and edification of His children. As I spoke, I felt the Spirit bearing witness to the brethren through me that my words were true. And I am astonished. And grateful for the oportunity to strengthen my own testimony while strengthening others'.

Well, that's all I have for today. I know that Christ lives and that this is his church. I am honored to be his servant during these years. I will be forever indebted. I love my Savior. He is my example and my friend. May you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Ross Wilcox

P.S. Corey!!! Thanks for writing me, buddy! It was fantastic hearing from you. Thanks for the year's update as well. I'm proud of you, my friend. I know things have been hard for you, but you've faced the challenges with faith and hard work, and I know you will be richly blessed for it. I love you, Corey. Say hi to everyone for me!