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. VarĂ³n. 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