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 MarĂ­a 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