Tuesday, April 21, 2015

20 April 2015 Letter

Week 12!

I have officially finished my first transfer in the field and tomorrow is cambios. Transfers. We won't know if my companion or I will being leaving until this afternoon  but it is very probable that we will both stay. Small evaluation after my first transfer - The mission is hard and different. It is a whole new world that I have never encountered. I think it would still be that way even if I was speaking English. The whole Peru factor is a whole different thing. But, I have also learned so much, I have come closer to my Father in heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. I have gained whole trust in Them and love for all They do. I know why I am here and what I need to do. As I near the 3 month mark I think I still have plenty of time. And I do. Another 20 months or so after that is a lot of time. But in mission time, it really isn't much. I have so many goals I want to achieve and seeing how not even close I am is really startling. I realize that my time here is short. I need to give it my all every second.

Ok. For my conference talk of the week I want to go over the talk by Elder Nielson of the Seventy. Elder Nielson talked about his sister who left the church. He talked about how we need to go after that lost sheep and leave the 99 behind. But even then, we can only do so much. I have really seen that here in my mission. So many people have wandered off and we may want them to come back, for example, within the month, or next week. That, very often, is not possible. Yes there are miracles, and yes they happen a lot and people may have the faith that a miracle will happen but it is all in the Lord's time. And that is an especially hard thing to deal with. But, like the father of the prodigal son, we need so sit back and wait and love. After a long enough time, that love will move the person to come back just like the prodigal son did return. And his father was right there, waiting with open arms, all the time knowing that his son would return. I know we all have someone like that in our lives. Someone very special to me from the CCM has a brother who left the church a couple of years ago. This brother came home from work one day and told his mom he had just finished withdrawing his records from the church. As my friend here in the CCM told me this story, I could see the horrible pain and sorrow in his eyes. I don't know what I would do if one of my family members left the church, left all the blessings we have and the love we have from our Father in heaven. I immediately wrote him a letter during the session about all of that.

It made me think of my family members that aren't members on my mom's side of the family. I love them so much and want to be with them forever. I know that isn't possible if we all aren't an eternal family through this Gospel and through the temple. So for that reason, I always felt impatient with them and truly didn't understand why they wouldn't just all get baptized the next week. The talk really touched me and made me realize that we need to love them and wait. I don't know if they will feel that love to the point that they start investigating the church. But I do know that they know we love them and that is all we can and should do. This talk really gives a hope that is so amazingly powerful. Once again, with that eternal perspective, we can really appreciate the priceless value of our families.

OK. This week was super fun. Monday was Elder Bischoff's last p-day 'cause he is going home today!! Crazy. It also happened to be his birthday so we threw a party with pizza, cake, and a piƱata. It was the best. We also played soccer and American football. It was a fun day. The rest of the week was fun too because we were preparing for our mission night, which we have once a month. This time it was a talent show and we invited almost all of Zarate (district) to come. Friday night we had a great turnout and our little sketch about a day in the life of a missionary was a riot if I do say so myself. The ward all had their own things planned too and it was super fun and we had a bunch of investigators and less-actives show up. Oh and we had our first 6 weeks training and I got to see everyone from my group including Elder Wilson and Elder Manzanera. It was fun to catch up with them and hear all the stories from Elder Wilson about the mudslide/flood. He was there to see/run from all of it. It was a fun week and also very successful missionary-wise.

As always thank you for all the prayers. Love you all.

Elder Wilcox

The promised photo of Wendy's boyfriend

haha Elder Bischoff after the cake smash

Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening)

Talent show sketch


Saturday, April 18, 2015

13 April 2015 Letter

Well it has been another week here in the good old South America. The week went by super fast and was full of excitement but first, I have a couple things I liked about General Conference.

Just a few things:

First a funny from our beloved Pres Hinckley: he is talking about working with the ward council and the bishop to help less active members and others in the ward regarding mission work. He says take a chance on your bishop and rely on him even if he may not feel adequate for his calling. He says, "Think of the risk the Lord took when He called you!" I was cracking up. I really miss that old man but it is so true. The Lord is really taking a chance and trusting in a bunch of young adults - basically kids - to lead his work in the world. I am honored and so grateful to be one of those kids the Lord has put His trust in.

From conference I really loved them all. But from Saturday morning I loved Elder Perry's talk about how our church is different. It is because we have an eternal perspective on the restored Gospel. The fact that we can say that Familes Can Be Together FOREVER is really amazing and unparalleled by any other religion. Families are everything and he talked about how in heaven, the organization and government is based on the family unit, which on this Earth is the center of life and the key to happiness. This is so true.

Later in the Priesthood session I loved how President Uchtdorf talked about our Savior and how He would act in a ward council meeting. How amazing that would be! He talked about how the Lord wouldn’t want to know the numbers but the condition of our heart. That is key. The Lord has a perfect heart and we should try to be more like Him. He also said that the most intelligent, appraised, and accomplished man to ever walk the Earth was also the most humble. Wow.

More next week because I don't want to be all mushy with you all the time. But mushy is my favorite!

SO I was sick last week with a few awful things and for a few days I was discouraged, exhausted, irritated, and exhausted! We only had a few lessons every day- still this week was our best so far. Any way we did not get too much done during those few days and I was tired of it. Saturday we had the most intense planning session ever and had our plan a and b lessons down to the point. Then we made sure we had plan Cs and Ds. And then just to contact after that. But on Sunday we had 8 people show up to church and then 6 lessons with investigators with a member present, visited some less-actives, gave a blessing to a member, and blew our goals out of the water. We were surprised at how easy it really was to just do all that. All we had to do was set the goal, work hard, and pray all the time, and it all turned out great. It was an answer to my prayers as well because we had watched a training video for missionaries called the District. It was a small video about planning and the numbers they wrote down were ridiculously huge and we knew they were impossible to achieve, or so we thought. After Sunday, we knew it was accomplishable (is that a word). I also knew that I need to work harder and I will have more success.

What else? Oh yeah I got my first Peruvian haircut. No time for pictures today sorry. OH! I gave my first talk in Sacrament meeting and it went really well and I was surprised at the time I took and how well my words came out. Thanks to my studying the promise of the Lord was fulfilled that the Spirit will tell me what to say and how to say it. All the members came up to me telling me I did a good job and that they were surprised at how good my Spanish (they call it castellano here for some reason) is doing for only having 2 months in the mission. Just like how people treated me after giving a talk when I was like 8 haha. Well I can't think of anything else and I only have a couple minutes anyway.

Love all of you and thank you for the prayers. I am being blessed out here every day and I know it has a lot to do with all of you! Hope you all are able to get something out of these letters I write. I try to let you all know how I am doing, what is going on here, and some good spiritual enrichment. Love ya all!

Elder Wilcox
This is Wendy, one of our recent converts we are trying to get to the temple.
She turns 18 this month. Oscar who is in the next photo is her bf. (we never received this photo)
They will be married when she turns 18 so they can go to the temple together later.

This is what we were using before Easter

These cookies are sooo goood


Monday, April 6, 2015

6 April 2015 Letter

Hey all its week 10,

General Conference is better than pizza. I am not kidding. I loved sitting in the secretary's office watching conference in English will the other 7 gringo missionaries in my Zone. It was super awesome and the vacation from Spanish was a huge stress reliever as well. But I am starting on the wrong end of the week.

Last Monday, we had p-day as a zone again and we watched movies in the stake center. We watched a couple of church movies and then watched Ice Age 4, all in Spanish. It was still funny though, even though the joke translations didn't really make sense. It was definitely the relaxation I needed, though. And we had some good lessons that night and found a new investigator. This past week was slow, but we found 7 new investigators and one has a baptismal date already so that was great.

Tuesday we had our district meeting and then had exchanges afterwards. I got to be with Elder Morris again, but this time in our area. They never do that to new guys ‘cause we usually don't know the area super well, or what the people are like and all that jazz. But I think we only got sort of lost once, so it went well, and we got two new investigators by knocking doors. This week is super special down here, the week before Easter. It is Semana Santa, and on tv there are always bible videos and the people party every night and everyone is with family. That was why the week was pretty slow. Either people were gone on vacation (they get a five day vacation weekend!!!) or they were here, but with their family and didn't have time for us. But one thing I did see was that their hearts were softened and were more receptive to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It was a spiritually packed week, with Semana Santa, Easter, and General Conference, the chance we have to listen to our prophets and other leaders of the church.

Wednesday we taught a kid named Rodrigo. He is 12 and had never met with the missionaries but his older sister and mom are inactive members. We taught him, and for my first time, I asked the question for him to be baptized instead of my companion doing it. And he said yes and his family wants to all come back to church as well. They came to conference, and if they keep assisting, he can be baptized within the month. Hopefully the 25th. We shall see!

The rest of the week and the weekend was super slow and we got very little work done because of the holiday season. So it was definitely tough but still awesome as always. After Conference, I feel so sad that it is over. I learned so much this weekend and will never forget it. I loved Sunday morning and afternoon. They were jam-packed with awesome talks and great stories. But in one of the talks (I don't have my notes with me so I can't remember who it was) on Saturday, a general authority talked about the importance of families and parents praying for their children. As he spoke, I had this overwhelming feeling of love come over me, like I never have before. I knew I was feeling all the prayers of my family and friends, and almost all at once it seemed like. It was the most comforting and happy feeling in the world. Thank you all so much for your prayers and love. I know it is helping me to be the best missionary I can be. I will bring my notes next Monday so I can share more thoughts about the talks.

Thanks a ton for everything, family and friends, and I love you all,

Elder Wilcox

Conference with my fellow Americans!

awesome meal in a peruvian restaurant! only 5 soles!
(isn't this how he gets sick?)
Posing (per Mom and Dad's request)
(he couldn't help himself)