Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29

Hello family!

This week was really great! We had a ton of stuff to do in the zone, but we were able to get the members to help and we were able to dedicate a lot of time to working in our area. I think the most stressful part of being a zone leader is making sure my area is a good example and doing all the errands for the zone at the same time. But I've seen that God really helps and I have seen a ton of miracles in my time here in Valledupar.

My converts from here are doing really well. Andrea is awesome even though her family is going through a really hard time. Her husband who moved to another city to work stopped talking to her completely. It's really hard for her and for us but she's really a strong woman and I admire her strength to stay strong when she feels so alone.
Jheiner brought his mom to church this week. It was awesome to see her there because she never accepted our invitation before, but now I'm sure the Spirit will help her keep going.

This week Christmas was great. On Christmas day,no one is in the streets in the afternoon becuase they're all hungover and/or asleep. My companion and I planned an activity and after I called you all we got together as a zone and went out to sing Christmas hymns and give out the rest of our He is the Gift passalong cards. It was really fun. Then we all got together in the stake center that night to eat a Colombian fast food called salchipapa. It's french fries with sausage and sauces and cheese. Super delicious. Except that they robbed us and gave us like half the food we paid for :(

Other than that it's been a little tricky lately because everyone went to another city for their vacations so we haven't been able to visit some of our best investigators for a while. But when they're back, they'll get baptized.
I hope you all have good goals for next year. I passed an awkward moment this sunday in sunday school when we all said our goals for 2015 and I realized that in 2015 I'll be home. All I could think of was my goal for 6 more baptisms plus a complete family converted. So I threw on study more and get a girlfriend but wow it was a weird moment for me. 

Well I love you all and loved talking to you this week.
Elder Wilson

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22

Haha I was just finishing up writing a bunch of letters but I felt like something was missing. I just realized I still hadn't written you all!

First off, I'm sure excited to see you all on Christmas day! There's about 2.5 minutes or so to talk to each of you so we'll have to make it count.

This week was awesome with a marriage and 2 baptisms. Esilda got married and then baptized. It was great after the baptism to see and hear her family bearing testimony about how happy they all were to finally see her getting baptized. Andrea's baptism was also super special. She was a refferal from Alfredo Quintero, a recent convert from the ward. So since she was his refferal, we decided to have him to the baptism. The difficulty was that he's deaf, so we had to call the mission president and ask for permission and instruccions. Turns out he just had to sign the baptismal prayer, then put his arm to the square, and then baptize her. I was one of the witnesses and had to translate the prayer. The funny part was that Alfredo was nervous to put her all the way under the water, so he did the whole thing like 10 times but couldn´t. We shut the doors and Alfredo practiced but still couldn't, until the guy who baptized Esilda entered the font and showed Alfredo how to do it like 5 times, just without saying the prayer. Then Alfredo did it a couple times correctly without the prayer, and then we opened the doors again and he did it all right. In other words she basically got baptized like 30 times. But she's really patient so it all worked out.

Well I'm basically out of time so I love you all and see you on Christmas!!
Elder Wilson

Monday, December 15, 2014

december 15

 ^^christmas decorations in a popular mall here
 ^^the young man on the right in the black shirt is Erick, Jheiner´s brother, also a recent convert. He shared his testimony in Jheiner´s baptism and it almost made me cry it was awesome to hear how happy he was that his brother got baptized, and I felt blessed to participate.

^^ directly behind my head is proof that God loves his children, our landlord put air conditioning in our bedroom. I think that out of 100 houses in the mission 3 have air conditioning. It's so awesome. Now we're just trying to get bunkbeds to fit the desks in too.

Wow this week was a great week with a lot of hard work and lots of rain. I had to walk home one night in streets that were really rivers that came up to my knees. It was crazy and my companion and I almost fell in a couple times because all that current really pushes you and you can´t see what you´re walking on haha. Second world problems.

This week we had a great visit from President Searle and the assistants for our zone conference, they really helped us out with a couple areas that are having problems. President Searle is super smart and really guided by the Spirit in the mission. He told us that a couple times he has chastened missionaries and chastized them in interviews so hard that 2 missionaries had to go to the clinic after because they had minor heart attacks hahahaha. And one missionary went into shock after. I'm so glad that I haven't seen that side of him, I've just seen the super loving, smart side.

Jheiner got baptized this week, it was a great experience. In the end he decided to have the young men's president do it, which made me really happy because it'll help him to stay strong in the church. Esilda didn't get baptized this week because she had to go to Barranquilla this weekend for a medical exam, but she got married yesterday.

Andrea was really attacked by the enemy this week, she saw some anti-mormon stuff and on top of that fell again in the word of wisdom. But we had a great lesson with her where right in the middle of the lesson I felt inspired to watch with her the video He is the Gift. So we put the movie on and when it ended she was crying, and decided to get baptized to give a gift to God. My companion taught something that really made me think; he said that God has everything there is except for one thing - our will. I thought a lot about what I do to keep my will against the will of God and felt very blessed to realize that in my mission there have been very few things, and that I know that God can see by my life that I love Him. But anyways, Andrea will get baptized this Saturday with Esilda.

Your package still hasn't got to the mission office but I'm hoping it arrives before Thursday because Presidente Searle and Sister Searle are coming to Valledupar for the Christmas activity, so if they have it, they'll bring it. If they don't get it then, I'll get it next year.

I love you all and hope that you have a great Christmas centered in Christlike service. I'm glad to hear about the secret gifts you're giving and about your efforts, Dad, to share the gospel. I'm proud of you all and grateful to have a family that supports me in my desires to serve God with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. 

Elder Wilson

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8

My week has been really, ridiculously busy. We had leadership conference again so that was 3 days out of our prostelyting time. Two days of travel and one day of conference. They also did a few emergency transfers in our zone, so we had to wake up at 3 in the morning a couple days this week to send missionaries in bus to Barranquilla. Something kind of funny happened on Friday. I was on exchanges with a companionship in our zone and when we got back to their house at 8:55 at night the key to their door didn't work and we couldn't get in. We tried for like 15 minutes, then the other missionary with me climbed up to the second story balcony to try to open that door, and we tried for like another 15 minutes and we still couldn't get in. So by then it was 9:40 and I decided to go back to my house to sleep there. At was 10 before we were inside again, which is pretty dangerous here in Colombia. Luckily nothing bad happened and when I told president Searle he just laughed.

I'm super excited because it looks like this Saturday we'll have 3 baptisms. One is Andrea Quintero, Milton Ocampo's wife. We're a little sad because she's the only one in her family for now, but we're glad that she'll be a good example for her family. She's doing it alone because her husband moved to another city to work, one of her sons is moving back to Venezuela to live, and her other son is going to travel to another city for a few weeks to stay with his dad. But she's super ready to get baptized.

The other one is Jheiner Lagos. We found him a few weeks ago when we went to visit his brother Erick, a recent convert. I asked Erick if Jheiner had ever listened to the missionaries, and he told me that he had never listened. I invited his to hear the message, and ever since then he has been super excited and progressing in the gospel. He hasn't missed a week of church since we started teaching him, and he went out to visit with us for a couple hours with his brother Erick on Sunday. He really wants me to baptize him but we are persuading him to have his brother do it. I love the story about how we found him because Elder Uceda, the area president, always teaches us to find new investigators through recent converts and less active members. Jheiner is a testimony of how effective that approach really is.

The last baptism is Esilda Cortina. She's super awesome: she's 78 years old and super excited about the church. She should get married on Fiday and baptized on Saturday. She's been listening to the missionaries for a long time but hasn't been ready to get baptized until now.

I'm pretty sad because in my zone we've had some problems with disobedience and bad relationships between companions. But we have some pretty cools plans for this week. President Searle and 2 of the assistants are coming to out zone meeting this week. That never happens, but we're sure it will really help. We're going to do a ton of exchanges and President will be interviewing missionaries, so pray that these plans will help straighten out the zone.

Well I love you all and hope you have a good week.
Elder Wilson

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1

Things are going great here in Valledupar. This week was really awesome. Zone conference was marvellous. To answer your question Dad my companion and I gave a short 60 minute training in zone conference but just to our zone, and in conjunction with the stake president here in Valledupar, Pte. Varón. He´s an excellent stake president and he works with us a lot. President Searle talked a lot about repentance, which was awesome since we have some missionaries who need a little repentance. After the zone conference there was a line of missionaries waiting to talk with Pte. Searle and repent, it was happy to see that they were repenting but sad to know they had to do it.

He also talked a lot about how if we strengthen the church through visiting converts and less actives, help with home teaching programs, and work closely with ward counsel, we will have a lot of baptisms (Alma 4:4).  That has been a huge change since I got to the mission.  When I got here, just the lazy missionaries would visit the converts or less actives. They wanted us to do just 8 visits to converts and less actives. Now it's horrible to not visit them. The goal is at least 20 visits to less actives and recent converts.

That's what goes really well in my area. The missionaries here have always been zone leaders, so there have been a lot of baptisms and a lot of success. So we visit a lot. Last week we were able to teach more than 40 lessons, and we missed an entire day for zone conference and a meeting with the mission and stake presidents. I was super glad last week when we did exchanges with a companionship who isn't working very hard. I wanted to be an example in my area, but I was a little nervous because from so many exchanges that we do I didn't know my way around very well. But that day God blessed me and we were able to teach 10 lessons in the afternoon. the missionary told me that he had never worked so hard in his mission. God really helps us to be good examples.

The challenge of our area is probably working with the ward. In the stake, there are 5 wards. only 1 of them is actually qualified to be a ward; the rest all deserve branch status from their numbers. Including any day the area can decide that it's not a stake anymore but a district. So really the leaders are overburdened and it's hard for them to support us. But we are working with the stake president to solve it.

Thanks for sending me pictures of my niece Claire, she's super cute and will definitely be the first baby I touch for 2 years. 

Love you all,
Elder Wilson

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24

 the Ocampo Quintero family.

the family, my companion and I, the mission leader, and a recent convert from the ward. The recent convert is the one in yellow and he's awesome. He's deaf but I've been learning a lot of Spanish sign language and I can easily communicate with him. The ward mission leader got married the day before.

So if you all remember last week I asked for your prayers so that Milton Ocampo and Andrea Quintero could get married before Milton had to move. After I left the computers that day we went to visit them and turns out that he didn't have to move until late December. But thenon Saturday we went to visit them and he said he had to go on Sunday, yesterday. In Colombia marriages are a super huge, complicated process, but thanks to a huge miracle that is hard to explain we had all the necessary papers. There's a priest who works in the notary office who trusts us to do weddings. So when Milton told us he couldn't get married because he had to move, we went to grab the papers in our house and about on hour later we married them right there in their house. They bought a cheap ring in a store and we called a couple witnesses, it turned out super awesome. And now they're married. And that's how we do things in the Colombia Barranquilla mission. We taught their last lesson to them all as a family yesterday and I felt like crying, but the good news is that Milton is going to a village where the church has a branch close by and the rest of the family will be here for a while. So thanks a ton for your constant prayers in their behalf.

Santos and Ana Dilia were all good to get baptized this Saturday but they didn't go to church yesterday. We'll be passing by to see what happened and if there's a possibility of them getting baptized this week or in the next couple weeks if not.

Esilda was also going to get baptized this week but she has cancer and she has to go to Barranquilla this weekend for a medical visit, so I guess it'll be next week. I have learned a ton of pacience during my mission. At first I would be super frustrated by these things but now I'm super calm. I guess it all comes down to learning to trust in God. I have seen so many times in my life and in my mission how God brings things about in His own way, so you just have to obey the commandments and trust (D&C 123:17)

Interesting comment of the week is that Lexi Garrett gets home from her mission this week. It's super strange since I went to the MTC the very same day that she did. That's the benefit of being a man: your mission lasts longer.

Well I love you all and hope you have a great week. I should have a super busy week with exchanges with the assistants, zone conference, revision of all the houses in the zone with the senior couple in the mission, and other fun things waiting.

Elder Wilson

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17

This week was pretty good because we really didn't have anything to do other than dedicate ourselves to proselyting. The area I'm in is really great. In my last area in Barranquilla, it was super hard to get someone to listen to the message, even members sometimes were too busy. But here it's awesome, in 2 hours we can have 3 or even 4 lessons if we work really hard. I love to teach fast, efficient lessons so I have been having a great time here. There are a lot of people getting ready to get baptized soon, and I expect that in November and December we should have between 4-7 baptisms. 

We are teaching a family Ocampo Quintero. The mom Andrea, the dad is Milton, and we teach one of their sons named Anderson. They have more children but they don't live there since they are from separate spouses. They are awesome. Andrea is super ready to get baptized and Milton is quickly getting ready. Anderson is also excited but progresses a little more slowly. We are praying for a miracle but we don't know what we really want to happen. The problem is that Milton lost his job this last week and they offered him one in Medellin, another city. He's planning on going this week without his family until they can go join him in a couple weeks. But they need to get married. We have all the papers they need but we need the 100,000 pesos. So the situation's a little complicated, we don't know what has to happen, but God does so we'll see what He decides to do.

Another family we are teaching is Santos and Ana Dilia. They are awesome.  They always go to church and Santos has overcome a drinking addiction he had. They are going to get married November 29th (pray for that as well) and baptized shortly thereafter. 

Another lady is named Esilda. She also has to get married (see a pattern) but is ready to do it. She has the money, desperately wants to get married so she can get baptized, but has to wait for some medical tests to get finished before her baptism. Well really she doesn't have to but she wants to.

Other than that there are a couple of youth we're teaching who want to get baptized, but I think for now that'll do on the descriptions. My companion here is awesome. He's been in the mission for like 18, 19 months now and works really hard and is a great zone leader. Of all the leaders in the mission he's been a leader for the longest. I'm super lucky to learn from him. For his birthday today we had a zone activity where we watched Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2, ate hamburgers and hotdogs (Colombian ones - not so good) and played soccer. We ended it up with a surprize water balloon ambush by my companion and I. Super fun.

Well I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Elder Wilson

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10

 a pic with my lunch from Pedro Ascencia last week
 Elder Richardson and I with the Bishop's family and a couple less active sisters we teach
 the awesome bus I took to get to Valledupar
Caribbean. I will come back some day to enter those waters.

Wow this week has been a huge asventure. I'll give you a play by play. Monday night they called me about transfers, turns out I left Alfonso López and got send to the farthest part of the mission that white people can go to, Valledupar. My companion is Elder Abad from Argentina, he's awesome but for time I'll have to give more details next week.

Tuesday - I went to the terminal in Soledad (a suburb of Barranquilla) to get the bus for the 6 hour bus ride. While on the bus I had an awesome experience. I felt strongly that I had to go to the front of the bus and start contacting everyone. So I went there and in front of everyone explained that I'm a missionary and everything, invited them all to hear the message, took down their info, etc. I was nervous but I said a prayer and felt like Paul while I shared my testimony with them all. I got to Valledupar at like 7 at night, but since I'm now zone leader and new miassionaries got in late, we had to be in the terminal until 11:30 waiting. We slept with 6 missionaries in our house for a night, until they could get to their houses, and we all pulled matresses onto the roof of our house. It was awesome to sleep under the stars and it was super cold, since Valledupar is a valley in the Sierra Nevadas. But don't think that it's not blazing hot during the day. It's just like Barranquilla. Hot and muggy. 

Wednesday - worked normally, there is a great family we're teaching here who wants to get baptized but needs to get married. They are just waiting for their papers. The Ocampo Quintero.

Thursday - Got back on a bus to go back to Barranquilla for leadership council. Slept the night with President Searle and his wife in their penthouse in a huge tower. I was taken aback by how awesome thier house was - heated water in the shower, oven, toaster, microwave, clothes dryer, piano, air conditioning (I got to sleep with a blanket for the first time since Bogota), etc. Ate dinner with pte. Searle and another pair of zone leaders who were there with us. 

Friday - Leadership conference. All the zone leaders, the assistants, and the sister training leaders get together and discuss problems the mission's having and what can be done to solve it. a super experience. Then we went out to visit with an assistant in their area, and at like9 PM my companion and I, the other zone leaders that were there, the assistants, and pte and his wife all had a super dinner in presidents house.

Saturday - bus back home.

Sunday - 9 investigators in church, 7 progressing

Monday - normal.

This week has been crazy but also really awesome. I've learned a ton and I know that I've got to learn. My address is the same as before to send me stuff, but if you want to look up my house on Google Earth, I live in the Calle 28B con 5B in Valledupar. By a small field.

Well I love you all and hope you're doing great
Elder Wilson

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3

 Yalissa's baptism
part of the zone after the movie

Well the obvious highlight of my week was Yalissa's baptism on Saturday. It all turned out great. She got to the church an hour late though and wasn't answering our phone calls so we were super nervous but in the end it all turned out fine. It was great, after the baptism she had a time to share her testimony, and then her evangelical grandmother also shared her testimony haha. Her grandmom is super evengelical and has the tradition of everyone yelling amen and stuff like that in church, so I think when she didn't hear anyone saying that stuff she started to try and get us all more excited, it was way funny. After her testimony, she said "who lives?!" and the member of the bishopric who conducted the meeting kind of muttered God lives and she sat down. But really she shared a great testimony, Yalissa too. Yalissa invited some college friends to the baptism and they went, and we saw that one of them was crying. We'll be working to get in contact with her to teach her too.

Today we went to lunch with Pedro Ascencio, a convert from Ciudadela. It was great, he told me that he and his wife are planning on going to the temple to get sealed in March. My zone leaders gave me permission to go and we went for a quick lunch before a zone activity in Ciudadela. It was great to see him. I'd send a pic but this computer doesn't read SD cards so I can't until next week. But I do have some pics from other missionaries that I'll send.

Sorry for the short letter, don't have much time because we got back late from watching How to Train a Dragon 2 as a zone. Tonight they tell us what'll happen tomorrow for transfers, I really think I'm going to go from some things that president Searle was asking me.

Elder Wilson

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27

district activity, we went to a museum

This week we had a great stake conference that was half by the stake presidency and half by Elder Nash and Elder Pino from the 1st quorum of the 70, sister Wixon, and Elder Holland. They talked a lot about tithing since the area really has a hard time paying their tithig. There were a few great stories told, like one by Elder Holland. He talked about a family in Mongolia who heard from the missionaries forever ago. They didn't know how to read English, and back then the Book of Mormon wasn't translated yet into Mongol. So The missionaries talked about Jesus Christ, adn since they had a different religion, they didn't have a testimony of our Savior. The missionaries translated by hand one verse form the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:10, and the family read it and prayed and got their testimony. They were baptized a little after and spent years faithfully in the church even until the Book of Mormon was published in Mongol. I really liked that story because it talked about the power that prayer and the holy ghost have, combined with the Book of Mormon, to strengthen people´s faith in our savior and in the restored gospel.

Elder Nash also told a great story about one time when he went fishing and his dad told him that when the bobber moved, he had to yank on the pole to get the hook in the fish's mouth. He did so and yanked so hard that the fish flew out of the water and landed on the ground behind him. He talked about how sometimes, we may feel as out of context as that fish must have felt in that moment, and the importance of staying in places where we can be strengthened so that that won't happen to us spiritually.

In awesome news Yalissa Rodriguez finally decided to get baptized, and the date is this Saturday, November 1st, at 2PM. I would really be grateful for your prayers this week so that she can arrive fine to her baptism and her confirmation, to make that covenent with God.

In other news, I was finally able to run a 5K this week after a few weeks of working up to it, I'm proud of it because in the mission I can't really push myself that hard to run in case I get too tired to work well the rest of the day. So I did a 5K without pushing myself too hard. Before the mission I pushed myself harder to just run a half mile. I have a friend who wants me to run a half marathon when I'm back, we'll see about that...
Well I love you all and hope you enjoyed your trip to DISNEYLAND without me... no but really I'm not that bitter about it.

Elder Wilson

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20

Well this week we couldn´t go to the beach because we were trying to go as a zone and president Searle didn´t give us permission to all go. I might try again for a couple weeks off because we can go, just the problem was trying to go as a zone.
This week we had interviews with president Searle, always an excellent experience. By some of the questions he was asking, I think I should be getting transferred in November but I´m not sure. Last night we had a fireside for the ward here and President came and spoke with his wife. It was really great. I lot of members went and President really motivated them to keep participating in missionary work. We are going to do a lot of follow-up with some of the things he said to make sure it brings fruits. 

Sometimes I don´t know what to say in my letters because each week is basically the same as the last. But I´ll share a couple great experiences and a couple funny ones. Funny first. On Sunday we went to pass by some guy who promised us that he would go to church with us. When we got there, we saw that he was super drunk. It wasn´t the first time we had seen him like that; in fact we made him promise that he wouldn´t drink that morning. So I just really quickly told him that he couldn´t go with us that day because it isn´t good to go to church drunk. He got super mad at me and started yelling at us about how Jesus came to save sinners and not just perfect people, including he told me that he liked my companion better than me, and a ton of stuff like that. Encounters with drunk people are always kind of funny, but also I felt really sad that he was so much a slave of his addiction that he coudln´t go one morning without drinking to go to church.

Yesterday we had two new people at church, Juan Montero and Edgardo Estrada. When we found Edgardo for the first time, he was just talking to us about how churches these days are all just a business, and that all they care about is making people pay "tithing", which for the people here means give the preacher money for him to keep himself, not use for the church like with real tithing. So anyways, yesterday was a bishopric "special sacrament meeting" and the whole bishopric talked about tithes and offerings, and the importance of always paying them. I was dying the whole time because I could see that Edgardo was just thinking once again a church begging for money haha. So we´ll have to fix that all up this week. The area here is really concerned because a lot of people don´t pay tithing and don´t fast or give offerings, so they added a requirement for baptism that we have to teach a special lesson about tithing and also to less-actives. It really is a special commandment that brings a lot of blessings, and I am glad for the opportunity that I have had to pay tithing.

The good experience for this week was yesterday after church we went out with a recent convert to bring the sacrament to a few people. One was a lady in the ward who is really awesome. When we contact in her block everyone says that they have been to the church before since she has brought them. Now she has problems with her nerves and has a lot of panic attacks. We gave her a blessing. The convert is just a priest and put his hands on her head to give the blessing too and I had to explain that he couldn´t yet haha. But then we went to the hospital where the convert´s mom is sick and we blessed her there. I loved that experience to serve and I felt gratitude for the priesthood.

Well I hope you all enjoyed Disneyland, I´m just a little jealous about it.
Elder Wilson

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6

This week was obviously awesome because of general conference. I loved to hear the words of the apostles and prophet, as well as the other general authorities who spoke. What I want to share about the conference isn't so much what I learned, because I know you all watched it too, but what I felt. First off, I felt very strongly the Spirit which testified to me that Thomas S Monson is God's chosen prophet and that the church is true. Second, I felt gratitude for the atonement and for the opportunity that I heave to be a missionary in His name. I felt love for the people and a huge desire to become better as a missionary. I felt that I need to be a little more diligent and always strive to keep strengthening my testimony, because a testimony isn´t something you have or don't have but something you always strengthen, like charity or virtue or whatever christlike attrubute. And I felt rejuvenated to keep working again in this work.

I saw just about everyone from Ciudadela in the conference, since it's in this same stake. It was great to see Eva Ruiz and Pedro Ascencio, 2 converts from there. Eva is awesome. She told me about how she is the second counselor in the relief society, and sometimes she gives classes. She feels glad for the opportunity to serve and learn, but also humbled because she doesn't know much about the church and she can hardly read. She is getting ready to go to the temple to do her own work and work for her ancestors this december. She has since shared the gospel with a few youth who work in her pizzeria, who also got baptized and were with her at conference.

Pedro is also doing great. He was there with his wife, who he has plans to get sealed to soon, and his brother, his brother's wife, and his brother's daughter, all of whom I taught too and who have since gotten baptized. Pedro is the Elder's quorum president there and is of course super happy in the church. I was almost crying when I saw them all there. I didn't see Pedro at first but he came up to me and gave me a huge hug and dragged me over to his family and told me how they're doing. It was great. Plus of course all the converts and less active members I taught a lot while I was there. Now I just have to plead with President Searle to be able to go eat lunch with them on P-day sometime.

Well I love you all and hope you are doing great. I keep you in my prayers.
Elder Wilson

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sept 29

part of my zone after a zone activity

peeling a zapote (a fruit we have here)


This week was pretty awesome, God blessed us for all our excessive efforts to find new investigators and we were able to find a new investigator who went to church after just a single lesson. That´s always good to see. Also a ton of less-active recent converts from the ward who went to church again. Also general conference this week, I can't wait.

This area is a lot different than my other areas because the people here have had the missionaries here for a super long time. Like everyone knows who we are and what the message says. And it is really hard to get someone to listen. In Baranoa, my last area, just about anyone would listen to the message, but here no. They say they're busy so we decide on another time to come by. Then when we go by they hide from us or they aren't there and stuff like that. So it has been super hard for us to find new investigators. For example, while we walk we talk to people in the street. This week we made about 40 street contacts and about 10 accepted to listen, and of those 10 about 4 turned into investigators. We felt super blessed this week to get 6 new investigators in the week. We do everything - contact, look for the old investigators (the ones who used to listen to the message before), work with members to find, and try to complete part-member families. But I know that we will keep getting more investigators. The new bishop already gave us like 3 part-member family referrals.

The good things in this area are the less-active members. There are a few of them who are really progressing in the gospel. My whole mission has been like that and I've loved it. Really few things make me more happy than seeing a family come back to church and become excited about the gospel again.

I know that this church is true. There have been so many times in my life where I have felt exausted and worn-down, but through prayer I have felt the Lord's love and strength. I know that when we take the sacrament as administered by priesthood authority we can be forgiven our sins and have the spirit with us. I have a very strong testimony of temples. I haven't been able to go to one for more than a year and I really miss it. I plan on going the day after I'm back with you all because I know that it is truly the house of the Lord and that there you can love Him and worship Him without the distractions of the world. I know that the Savior died for us and that He took upon Him all our trials and sorrows, to be able to succor us. I know that the scriptures can answer every question.

Well family I hope you are all doing well and that you have a great week.
Elder Wilson

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22

This week we had a ward conference and they changed the Bishop here in alfonso Lopez. The new bishop was the Elders' quorum president and he is going to be an excellent bishop. We already had a meeting with him and with the ward missionaries, and he put them all to work. It was great to see that the bishop has a desire to help the work along, and that he has already received the mantle of bishop. It was evident that he was already receiving revelation from God.

Other than that, the week was good. We are a little sad because Yalissa decided not to get baptized this Saturday after all. She is just really scared of failing in her baptismal covenant. I have seen this so many times now in mny mission that I am really looking for revelation to know how to prevent this. Sometimes the people we teach have a super strong testimony and are super excited, and then they delay their baptism and delay and delay and then they start to miss church and then they aren't interested anymore. It seems to be a common problem in the ward, since when we talk with people in the street they often say oh yeah I used to go to that church but I never got baptized. When I ask why they stopped going they say because they got bored. The people in my area are a little hard against missionaries but that just makes the work even more satisfactory.

It has rained a ton here this week. When it rains in Barranquilla, the streets fill with water and turn into huge, running rivers. They can even carry cars down the street that's how big the rivers get. It rains really hard and there isn't an underground sewage system or anything. It's crazy, and king of annoying because I'm always having to change my shoes in the day. I came with 3 pairs of shoes and I still have 2 left. One that should break soon and the other in pretty good condition. I think I might have to take some money out soon to buy new shoes and send my shirts to a seamstress to make them smaller again. My companion likes to run in the morning so I've been doing a great excercise lately. This week I hit the 2 miles running mark, but the goal is a 5K (3.1 miles). I should get there pretty quickly. I just have a horrible mile time for now haha.

As of now I'm still eating lunches with the members but that'll change next week when the mission sends us money to pay for the lunches too. I'm pretty sad about the change of rule but I guess it's for the best if it's from my leaders. In fact, it's fom the area presidency I heard. 

As for the pictures I promised, I have a lot but I can`t access them in the computer I'm at so I'll have to send them next week. Sorry. But I will send a picture my companion sent me of a part of my zone after an activity we played today. We played a more missionary-appropriate version of truth or dare that was pretty fun. The worst I had to do was run the length of the gym with my eyes closed, but I did it successfully without hitting anything.

Well I love you all and I hope you have a great week.
Elder Wilson

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 15

This week has been a great week, but quite a lot like all the other weeks of my mission. I love being here and I'm super glad that I still have a long time left, but really I am starting to feel a little bit like I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. The good news is that I got permission to go do some visits with the branch president from Baranoa here in my area, since he'll be here in Barranquilla and we can meet up to work together for a couple hours. That will be a great experience.

I suppose I'll just talk a little about the work. But more in general. I feel like it's a super amazing time for me to be here on my mission. When I was in the CCM the first presidency for the first time came out with the hastening the work theme. So I have had the huge privilege of seeing how missionary work has changed during my time. Our mission president showed us a few awesome statistics. Last year we were baptizing about 100 or more people each month, but lately we have been baptizing about 40 or so. Last year, the attendance at sacrament meeting was about the same all year long, but this year it has been climbing by more than 100 each month. We have been retaining almost all the converts and rescuing a ton of less active members. We focus a ton on family history work as well - an investigator can't get baptized until he has begun to work on his family history and fill out the booklet My Family. Which reminds me I would still love it if you could send me once in a while a story about my great grandparents to fill out my book. I already filled out a great story that grandpa sent me about Melvin J Taylor and I want to keep working to be an example for the members and investigators. I just can't get on family search for now, where I know that all the data is.

I am learning a lot about how to make my teaching even better. This week I plan to buy a small whiteboard to use to teach certain principles. I love teaching the gospel so I am anxious to use whatever resource I can to get people to really understand. I am learning a lot about how to work with the ward leaders. It has been hard for me to adjust to being in an experienced ward after having been in a branch for so long. I have had to learn a lot about how to take full advantage of the ward mission leader and ward missionaries, instead of just having to do it all myself. And I know that there is a lot left for me to learn. For example, this week we had a zone conference and the stake president from this stake talked. He talked a lot about how to really strengthen the wards, and he told us that for a ward in this stake to grow, it has to be divided into 4 sectors, and all the visits within the sector have to be independent. Or in other words, no one from sector one can go visit in sector 3 for example. Then each sector is strengthened and can grow to be a ward. It's a cool technique that he is going to try, and he says it has worked before. I am excited to see how it goes. They really are making huge strides to help the missionaries work hand in hand with the members.

Well I love you all and hope you are having a great time and that your studies are going well.
Elder Wilson

PS I'm about to go bowling with my district, I get you pics next week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8

This week was a week where we worked a lot and received a lot of blessings. It has been a little hard because we had three days in a row where no one listened to us. We arrived at houses where we had an appointment scheduled and they would say, no I can`t right now, or someone else would say that they weren`t home, stuff like that. So then we would talk to people in the street but they weren`t interested, stuff like that. We really felt that we have to work better with the members to find new investigators, since the people here are not as willing to listen as they were in Baranoa.

But the blesings have been great. We have 4 people who should get baptized this month. One is named Maria Carolina. She has a baptismal date for the 20th of this month and is progressing a lot. She told us yesterday that she heard about baptisms for the dead in church and wanted us to explain it to her, so she should get towork on the My Family bookle this week. Do they use that booklet there in Utah? Have you all filled it out?

Jesus and Stephany Martinez have a date for the 27th. They still haven`t got their parents`permission but we think that they can do it before then. we made up I game called "How strong is your desire to get baptized?" It was my idea, so that explains a lot. The game is that they try to get baptizsed the 27th. They have to read the Book of Mormon every day, go to church every week, ask God to help them get permission, and talk to their parents about their desire. If they do it, we'll have like a party after their baptism. After the fast they did, we feel like this game will help them receive a miracle from the Lord for their baptism (D&C 123:17). But we would really appreciate your prayers to help their parents give them permission. They have no problem with us teaching them or with their kids going to church, but they just don't like the idea of them getting baptized, because the mom goes to a church where the members have to go through a huge program that can last over a year to qualify for baptism. She`s not even baptized yet. We shared with her Acts 8:26-39 to help her see the truth, and she really had to think about that one a lot.

Also for the 27th is Yalissa Rodriguez. Y is like J here. Jalissa. She has listened forever and always goes to Institute, but she finally accepted a date this week. She's kind of funny because she always tells us that she's not sure she'll get baptized that day, etc. but she tells members about her baptism the 27th and even signed up to be a cousellor for EFY in January. Her friends told her she has to be baptized to do it, and she said oh dont worry I'll get baptized this month. So it's kind of confusing but she`s great.

This week the mission made a change in a few rules that are sad. That added more rules about what we can and cannot eat that are so hard to follow that we aren't allowed to eat lunch with the members anymore. We have to make like a contract with one person who can meet all the rules and make us lunch every day. Also they require breakfast and dinner contracts as well, so we aren't even allowed to make our own breakfast. I'm just sad about not eating anymore with the members because all the members got upset when we told them. They like us to be in their homes and they know that they get blessed when they sacrifice to make us luinch. But I know that it's for a reason that they changed it so I was happy to look for a contract already.

Things are great with Elder Richardson, he's learning a lot of Spanish and the members always comment on his progress. He's helping me a lot too; he likes to run so we go jogging 3 times a week. I'm currently going aobut 1.5 miles each time, but I have the goal to be able to do a 5k. I think it's a ton easier to run on sea level than in Utah, so we'll see where I'm at when I'm back.

I love you all,
Elder Wilson

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1

This week was obviously awesome with the visit from Elder Christofferson. His visit was super spiritual. He came with Elder Waddell from the 1st quorum of the seventy and Elder Soares, from the presidency of the seventy. All three of them are wonderful, wise, loving men and great examples. I was super attent on Elder Christofferson the whole time though, because obviously it´s no that often you see an apostle that close. It was kind of funny though, Elder Christofferson said something like "everyone gets super excited when the apostles visit because there are only 12 of us, so I guess it´s rare. But imagine that there are only 7 men in the presidency of the 70, so Elder Soares is less likely to visit than we are." It was super funny.

Elder and Sister Waddell spoke first, and he always compares the atonement to the mission. It was hard for Christ. He even didn´t want to do it. But he did it for love. That´s how we should be. An angel appeared to strengthen Him, and they strengthen us too. The best part was a question he asked "If there are so few people in the world who can hear an apostle, why does the Lord want me to be here right now?" Really made me think.
Sister Soares said a ton of awesome things but my favorite part was a line she said "Missionary work isn´t a sacrifice, but a privilege." I loved it because she put into words what I have been feeling for a long time now about my missionary calling. She talked about how sometimes we are like the man in 2 Chronicles 25:2, in that we don´t give all our heart to the work. I decided to give all my heart to the work by improvimg my ability to treasure up the words of the scriptures. Those who served missions, what did you do to have meaningful studies when you stuy the same doctrine every day? I study for the people I will teach that day but sometimes I feel like the study is super repetitive and not too meaningful. What can you suggest?

Elder Soares gave an awesome talk about how we are called to represent Christ, so we have to live that way. He told us to study/know/treasure the doctrine in our hearts, and be obedient. D&C 11:6,18,20,21.
Sister Christofferson shared a great story I hadn´t heard before, from 2 Kings 4:1-7.

Then came Elder Christofferson, who gave like a 5 minute talk and then opened up to questions. Really that was my best learning because while he was talking I learned from the Spirit. He talked a bit about when he was called to be an apostle. I learned that the only really important element in having success is charity, which we only get when we ask God for it. He described true conversion in a great phrase, something like the tempations that were once very strong to us become so weak that they don´t even appeal to us anymore. I have seen that with a lot of things in my life and I hope to see it with a lot more. He gave us a couple apostolic blessings too. He blessed us to be able to receive according to our desires. He blessed us that if we ask God if He is happy with our missionary service, He will answer and we will recognize His response. He said that if we don´t feel the answer, we can remind God that His apostle made a promise and expect an answer. I tried it once this week but I didn´t get far because when I knelt down to ask, my heart filled with joy, tears filled my eyes, and instead of asking I just thanked God for sending me here. I love the Saviour and I love serving Him. Sister Soares said that if we want to know the Lord, we should serve Him. If we want to know Him better, we should serve Him better. Through my mission, I have known the Saviour so much better than before because I have served Him better than before.

Well I´m out of time to write a lot about my week, but yesterday we did a great fast wth Jesus and Stephany to get their parents´ permission for baptism. I expect to see some great miracles this week. An investigator we have named María went to church too, she wants to get baptized and we think she can easily be ready by the 20th. She just feels that the only thing that was missing to be ready was to have more constancy in going to church, and then she went to church yesterday and she should be getting ready.

I love you all and hope you are doing great in school. I´m on perpetual summer break, even though the rainy season rolled around again (just about time too, the drought was getting pretty bad).

Elder Wilson
Elder Wilson

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25

we went to the huge local soccer stadium with the zone leader and two members

Well the first thing that I should probably say is a huge piece of news that I have been forgetting to tell you all. Elder Christofferson is coming to the mission this week for a mission conference. I am super excited to hear from an apostle of the Lord. I´ll make sure to send a lot of great detail about what he said in my letter next week. I pray to be spiritually prepared and to be able to put in practice everything that he says.

To answer your question Dad yes I am still a district leader and my district is almost identical to the old one. There are 8 missionaries, 2 of which are sisters and 2 of which are the zone leaders. It´s been a lot easier here because really the work doesn´t have as many problems to work out in the wards as it did in the branches where I was district leader before. It´s kind of funny because the sisters in the district are super great and super hard workers. They always have by far the best numbers in the district so I always say I can´t tell them things to get better on since they do better than I in almost everything haha. But really it´s awesome to see their example. One of them is 29 years old and she´s great.

Today was kind of cool because I went back to Ciudadela for a couple hours to buy a new bag, and it was super strange for me to walk around my old area a bit. Since the stadium is right there, we went in for free for a couple minutes and took a couple pictures. I don´t know why I never went while it was in my area for 5 months.
As far as the two youth that I mentioned in the last letter, Jesus and Stefani, they really really want to get baptized but can´t get their parents to agree. We read with them 1 Nephi 3 and 4 to help them see how persistent they have to be, and how they can´t get discouraged while they fight to do what the Lord commands. But we told them that they can´t solution the problem in the same way that Nephi did :). On Saturday we are going to do a fast with them. Please pray for the a lot this week.

Other than that we are working with a few other people. I think we should be having a few baptisms soon, I´ll keep you all posted as the dates get closer. I love you all and am super happy to be here representing the Lord in Colombia.

Elder Wilson

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 18

Well this week was transfers and they made me leave Baranoa. Even though it was really hard there, I loved the work there more than any other area in my mission and I was super sad to go. I made really good friends with the branch president while I was there, and the morning of transfers he came to our house, gave me a picture mirage (I think that`s how you say it) of me and him and his family, and then went with us to Barranquilla. It was a super sad moment for me. 

The good news is that I have already seen 2 people from Baranoa in my new area, because I`m now in the area where Sundays we meet in the stake center of the stake El Carmen. The ward is called Alfonso Lopez and we are the only missionaries in the ward, my companion and I. My companion is named Elder Richardson and he`s great. He`s from Washington. He just got out of training, but his trainer was also from the USA and they always spoke English, so he really doesn`t know Spanish yet, poor guy. So we are working on his Spanish. I always speak to him in Spanish.

It`s super weird and cool for me to be here, since it`s my third area in this stake. Ciudadela was also here. In fact, on Sunday there was a stake choir meeting and I saw 9 people from Ciudadela and 2 from Baranoa. In October I will have passed 1 year in this stake. It`s funny because if you look at my mission it`s big and there are lots of areas, but I have just been in a super tiny part of it all this time.

There are a lot of great people here in Alfonso Lopez. There is a 19 year old person named Yalissa who has been listening to the missionaries for about 3 months now. She always goes to Institute and goes to church every week. But she hasn`t accepted a baptismal date yet because she just isn`t sure yet that it`s the right thing to do. But when I met her a really felt that with just a tiny bit of patience she can develop the faith to get baptized.
There are also a couple youth (siblings) named Jesus and Stefani. They are also great, they have been going to church for a long time, but their parents won`t let them get baptized yet. Plus they sometimes tell them things that make them doubt their testimony. The other day Jesus said "once I prayed and I knew without doubt it was the right thing to do but then they talked to me about it and now I`m confused." So we are going to help them develop their testimony again. We talked to their mom yesterday and she`s a great person, just that in her church she has to go through a huge process of more than a year to get baptized, so she doesn`t see how they can do it after just a couple months. But we are going to work hard with the ward youth leaders to help their parents.

Wow I feel weird in a ward with a chapel, in Barranquilla again where all the streets are paved, and there`s a bishop and the missionaries don`t have to do everything anymore. My last sunday in Baranoa the president asked me like 2 minutes before the meeting to give a talk about tithing, and it went great. That will never happen here.

Well I love you all and hope you have a great week.
Elder Wilson