Monday, June 24, 2013

I Stand All Amazed

and in deep gratitude to be alive at this time.

The Lord has richly blessed us in the dispensation of the fulness of times. He is hastening his work. I can feel it. I don't know how to describe it, but for a month or two now I've had this strange anxiety, a quiet exhilaration, sensing, knowing that something big's about to happen. Not end of the world big or natural disaster big, something positive and personal, that must happen in the heart of everyone. My mission's coming quickly to a close, but I feel like I'm just recently starting.

There is much to do. The field is white. It's so ready, there are so many of God's children that need the Gospel. They pray for it, yearn for it, without knowing it.

I sense that God is pouring out His Spirit upon the earth, preparing us for a rich harvest. Like I said, I can't quite seem to describe what I feel. But it's exciting, and it was confirmed last night by the historical broadcast about the work of salvation.

This work is God's work, and it's for everybody. Typically in the Church we divide it into three parts: conversion, retention, and activation. In the mission Chile Concepción Sur, we've taken an interesting aproach to this. In every sector where there are 4 or more missionaries in one ward, we have divided the work between companionships. One companionship focuses primarily on finding, teaching, and baptising investigators. The other companionship focuses on retaining new members and activating less active members, as well as helping baptise investigators from part member families.

It's been a fascinating, and humbling experience. Elder Hamilton and I are the retention team, and we've had the blessing of being in the homes of many, many saints in this area. What I see is a silent call for help from almost every one of them. As new members, or less active members, they are in trying times, either adapting to a new life as a disciple of Christ, or wandering in the oblivion of inactivity. The saints suffer, and need our Christian help. We can extend to them a warm smile, and offer of service, a phone call, a facebook message, a hug when they attend church, or a simple gesture of appreciation for them being a part of our busy lives. We can pray for them. We can visit them. And most of all, we can love them.

I know that God has placed His Spirit in our hearts so we may realize the many opportunities we have around us to preach his Gospel, to everyone, member or no. I urge you to visit the new section of the church website, entitled "Hastening the Work of Salvation" and ponder in your hearts how you might apply this week some of the principles and practices that are found there.

I know our lives are busy. I admire you, Mom, for your hard work and dedication to family and fans, and for your abiding faith. Thank you, Dad, for your love-driven devotion to your wife and kids. Thank you, Jennifer, for your stalwart example of a missionary mindset in every aspect of your life, and for not being released from the mission when they took your name tag off. Thanks, Heather, for your focus on family, and your hope of the blessings that are soon to come. Thank you, Ashley, for your willingness to serve. I promise you that through your great faith, you will work miracles in your mission and have the blessing of seeing hearts change. And Hamish, well, keep doing your thing.

I'm out of words, at least for now. I'm grateful for the Lord and his atoning sacrifice that makes all of this posible. He alone made sure our way home. This is His work, not ours. And he wants us to participate in it.
I have faith that the ward of Boca 2 will be strengthened, and every ward and stake in Zion will be strengthened when we, individually, understand our part and with diligence do it.

That's all for this week. I love you all and am grateful for you. I hope you have a wonderful week. Till next time

Elder Wilcox

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This is for Him

Another week has drawn to a close and another starts afresh. We've been having a lot of success, which we're thrilled about.

I will tell you briefly about Victor and Cinthya.

Cinthya was a contact about two weeks ago, who said she was busy but that we could come back another day. She said she basically goes to any church they invite her to, as she doesn't feel a strong connection with any one in particular. Well, some days later, we tried looking for her, but couldn't find her with the direction we had, almost decided it wasn't worth fussing over, as it wasn't the best contact in the world anyway, and were about to forget about it. Within minutes we found ourselves in front of her house, recognizing a small sign she has out in front. We said, welp, let's go see if they want to listen! We went in and they immediately received us and are extremely prepared to hear the gospel. They went to church this weekend and have a baptismal date for the 29th. Unfortunately I don't have much time to tell you a lot about them, but I will next week.

I am grateful though for the success the Lord has been giving us. This Sunday, as we were on the bus on the way to Church, all I could think was that we do all of this not for ourselves. The converts are for the Lord. The success is His. We just rejoice in the work. That's my testimony for the week. This work isn't ours, it is His.

Sorry I can't write much this week. I'll talk more next time. Have a wonderful week everyone!

Much Love,
Elder Wilcox

Monday, June 3, 2013

Just Let Go

Dear family and friends and occasional readers of these emails, thank you for your continued prayers and support.

It's rainy and cold in Chile, winter has practically arrived. Luckily, the soakage has been minimal to this point. I'm content. With a pesky little cold, but content. Like Paul of old, I glory in the adversity in the mission, because when I am weak, He is strong, and in trials is developed patience.

Plus, we missionaries these days don't know the least of what the ancient disciples went through. The Book of Mormon says that Ammon suffered all manner of affliction. I think in 20 months I've barely suffered hunger and fatigue. So truly, there is only room to be grateful.

I've learned something important in these last few days, that has to do with our will. I remember, Mom, how you always told me that after this life, everyone ends up where they want to be. And well I don't think I really understood that very much until a few months ago reading about Grace and how we will be judged for our works AND the desires of our heart. "Heaven will not be heavenly for those who have not chosen to be heavenly." It is not enough to do celestial things, we must also BE celestial. It is not enough to keep all the commandmente, if they are not written in our heart.

While I consider that my mission has changed me immensely thus far, I realized that I could have let it do more for me, if I had or more consistently had let go of my will and given it up completely to the Lord.

I wish I could explain in such limited time and in a convincing way what's in my head, but my choppy thoughts will have to do.

It's not enough to just get up on time in the mission. If I don't want to do it, I'm not a disciple of Christ. It's not enough to leave the house every day to work and perhaps do it quite effectively. If I don't want to do it, I might help other, but I do not help myself, for I am not a disciple of Christ. The measure of my character is in the thoughts of my mind and the desires of my heart.

I was struck recently by the powerful desires of Alma to preach the gospel as with the trumpet of an angel. He wanted nothing more that to spent his life in service of his God and teach His children. (Alma 29).

I did a self-inspection. How often do I truly desire, more than anything, to preach the Gospel. Many times in the mission, going to lunch because I'm hungry sounds more exciting than tracting that one street. Or many times sleeping on the bus because I'm tired sounds more inticing then opening my mouth and announcing the word to the person next to me. Many times heading home just a few minutes early because it's raining sounds better than visiting that one less active family that needs help.

Now...I'm not saying that in any of these situations, I always choose the former option. Honestly, I usually do the second. But you see, if it's not in my heart, if it's not what I want, then the Lord can't use me as His servant.

Our purpose on Earth is to repent so that we may be cleansed of our sins and transformed throught the grace of Christ so that we may be made presentable before Him in the last day, AND so that we become the kind of people that WANT to be there.

I have a testimony that Chirt's way is the only way. Any other way leads to frustration and resentment. Ezra Taft Benson once said, "Be warned that some of the greatest battles you will face will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul." And so it is with every child of God.  We must all make the conscious decision to just let go. To surrender it all. To give up our desires, wants, wishes, and start to live as God wants us to live. The only way to find ourselves is to lose ourselves.

I know Christ lives, I know He is our Savior and that He loves us so much. He wants us to be like Him so we can be happy like Him.

This week I invite all to join me in letting go. Let's let go of our vain ambitions, and put our lives in the best hands.

Much love,
Elder Wilcox

P.S. The day is in fact Thursday, the 10th of October haha. Sorry about that.

P.P.S. The food was frivolous, but the shoes were necesary for winter, as I no longer had any without tremendous holes in them.