Thursday, September 14, 2017

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was another fantastic week as a missionary!! I learned a lot this week not only about the gospel and following Jesus Christ, but about the deep south all the way back to the 1930's. We met with the Porter family again after church and brought them the sacrament and then before having a lesson with the whole family we got to hear what it was like to grow up during segregated times in the South. Brother Porter grew up in Baton Rouge and Sister Porter in New Orleans. They told us many stories of how when they grew up blacks and whites were completely segregated on buses, at schools, bathrooms, drinking fountains, etc.  It was cool to hear though, because while Brother Porter was attending/working at LSU he had the opportunity to tear down the segregation signs after the MLK jr. Speech and everything. That was really cool to hear. They are seriously the sweetest couple too and so grateful. That is what the gospel is all about. Inviting all to come unto Christ and find the joy and happiness that comes from it. 

We met with our investigator Liz again this week and she is really progressing. We taught more about faith, repentance, and the sacrament. She is doing awesome. The coolest thing was that she had to go out of town for the weekend for a wedding, but decided she was going to leave early to make it back for Church on Sunday :) And then the other amazing thing was an investigator named Allison came to church for her first time yesterday! She was the one that received her very first bible, had the worst nightmare of her life, and then the very next day we knocked on her door. Well, she finally mustered up the courage to make it out to sacrament meeting and loved it!! We had her sit by Liz and they talked about baptism and everything. Liz even invited Allison to attend her baptism on the 23rd!! How awesome is that? And then Sheryl is doing great! The sister missionaries sat by her and she is going to go out teaching with them on Tuesday. Just picture that! She is going to throw the hammer down and testify like crazy. That is going to be incredible. 

Funny story:
So there is a less active family in the ward that all live out in Prairieville right outside of Baton Rouge. There are 5 brothers and they literally live right next door to each other. All 5 of them haha. They are all totally balling since they have like a family construction company or something, but the funny part is that the first house we knocked on was the oldest brother, Walter. He answered and was like, "hey y'all look you caught us at a bad time we are watching the game, but my brother John is home so totally go talk with him." so we go next door and knock on John's door. He answers and says the quote of the day, "We're watching the game, but I know Walter's home right next door so go see him." Then he was like, "oh no worries, go see Harry right across the street. He may be home, and if not Bill is just right down there." HAHAHA it was seriously so funny. They were just sicking us on their other brothers LOL.

The miracle with John, Lyn, and Lily on Meredith street continues: We went over there on Friday night and had another amazing lesson with them. We shared John 10:15-16 about "other sheep I have that are not of this fold..." and then in 3rd Nephi 15 where Christ explains the meaning of it. John was wide eyed and loved it. Quote of the night: "I mean I know y'all aren't here to persuade us (after we told them our purpose), but I wouldn't be against being persuaded to convert if this was true." It was so awesome! They had tons of family over this Sunday, but hopefully we can invite them to come next week. 

Exchange: Elder Glover and I went on an exchange here in BR and had a great time. One experience I will share was teaching this family we met the Restoration. The guy, Russel, brought me back to New Orleans for sure. Meaning, he loved talking about Jesus and yelling amen/hallelujah but it was a bit more difficult to help him understand our message haha. Anyways, it went great and then after we left and were hitting a few other doors we hear Russel yell, "Wilson, Glover, can I share a song with y'all?" Now this is where it really took me back to NOLA. Before we knew it he was spitting rhymes and singing this song he wrote right out in the middle of the street. It wasn't uncomfortable at all and even a few cars driving passed us just made it even better haha :) It was pretty unique and yep, totally got the whole thing on film. Good times. And hopefully we made an impact. Definitely did on me.

I love my mission and I have really come to love the people of Louisiana. I mean it isn't hard to when everyone is just so open and friendly. Ain't nobody cares yer singing praises out der in da street I mean come on. I know that God lives and loves each and everyone of his children. I love y'all and hope you have a blessed week. Also, please keep those affected by hurricanes and floods in your prayers. Many people attended church from Florida this week as they were told to evacuate.

Love, 
Elder Wilson

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

SEPTEMBER 5, 2017

Alright!!

This week was fantastic! Even with all the stormy days and crazy weather, the clouds seemed to pour down some miracles as well! We still aren't sure what the clean up situation is with Houston, but please keep everyone in your prayers. Louisiana has had a lot of coordination with that and everything as well. Man y'all don't know how many people talked to us this week leading up to and after the game on Saturday night against the Cougars. Sorry to hear about that! It definitely gave us quite the opportunities to share the gospel though so that was sweet. Let's just say I may or may not have been wearing an LSU hat, and some BYU socks while tracting that night ;) It was either really good luck or just tender mercies. Hey whatever works right?? It was pretty awesome! Apparently the ward I served in in New Orleans had over 500 people at sacrament meeting on Sunday as well. BR had quite a few more people too.

I will just share a couple experiences from this week for the sake of time.
On Wednesday night the Morgan City elders all had to get evacuated because of flooding off the shore so they came up to BR. The 6 of us elders just triple worked this area and zerged an entire apartment complex haha. It was pretty cool! Oh and Pres. and Sister Varner got us Canes for dinner after so that made the night. I was able to go on an exchange with one of the new missionaries that got into the mission about a week and a half ago. It was pretty awesome! We found so many solid people and just were so excited about it. the miracle was that we had 20 minutes before a lesson with Allison (who is doing really great and progressing still just slowly) and we went 2 for 2 on the doors. They both invited us in and we had a short powerful lesson with them. Allison was planning to come to church this week too, but her alarm didn't go off apparently. The lesson went really well with her though, and she asked us a ton of questions about things that she has heard, that of course are never true so that was good to clear up! It was just a great night, because we were so excited at the doors that everyone was like, "man why in the world are these two just so excited to be knocking on my door?"They just couldn't not talk to us for a bit haha.

Miracle:
Elder Hoopes and I were planning our day and looking at where we could go to find. Well, all of a sudden he walks up to the map and just points at a spot that he felt good about. I walk over and see him pointing at Woodbine/Meredith street. You can just imagine me like, "Meredith is my sister's name."  so just picture this (us jumping up and down like let's gooo!! and just that excitement haha) We felt a little like buddy the elf and Michael jumping on all the beds in that store. It was pretty awesome! Anyways, so later in the day we made it up to Meredith street and literally the first door we knock on this lady named Lyn just opens the door and starts unlocking the screen door. We hadn't even introduced ourselves yet! She made it seem like she was going to go get her husband and said, "John is going to be interested in what you have to say about Jesus." Usually that is the beginning of a total bible bash experience where the preacher husband comes out with 3 massive bibles and starts firing like a duck shoot haha. But then John comes out and he is like the nicest guy and totally open to hear the message. He has been going to tons of different churches throughout his life and just totally seeking. Their granddaughter Lily who is a freshman in high school also came out and we taught the Restoration lesson. It was seriously sooo cool. John stopped half way through and looked over at Lily and said, "I would highly encourage that you consider what they are saying here." That family seems so prepared and we are going back there tonight with some members. It was also really cool, because John started sharing his own beliefs about Adam and Eve and it was like totally true doctrine and even went into the Symbolism and everything. It was astounding! MIRACLE!

Exchanges this week: I went with my old district leader from down in New Orleans, Elder Nguyen who is on his last transfer. Well, we were up here in Baton Rouge and the miracle of the exchange is that he is Vietnamese and grew up speaking the language with his parents. And I have probably talked with maybe a couple Vietnamese people on my mission, but while on exchanges we knocked into 4 houses where the people spoke only Vietnamese!! what?? And then we ran into another Vietnamese guy on the street the next day. It was pretty cool!

Well, that's it for this week. Things are well down here in Louisiana. Thank y'all for your prayers. Have a blessed week!

Love,
Elder Wilson

AUGUST 28, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was filled with miracles, it was incredible! 

We haven't heard much about Hurricane Harvey, but it has been raining like crazy the last few days over here so hopefully all will be well. It is a bit of a doooozie as Ned Ryerson would say.  Definitely keep everyone in the Houston area/surrounding areas in your prayers though.
After we got everything all figured out from transfers and got back to our area, we went to work! 

On Saturday we decided to go find a few more part member families to work with and knocked on this one door. The guy comes out smoking a cig and has a beer in the other hand and was just totally uninterested talking about how we can't trust anyone in this world haha. Anyways, so we wonder why we were sent to that person and so just decided to start tracting. The first door we hit, the lady opens and was like, "Elders!" We were like what? what are the odds? She then continues to tell us how busy she is and that she is having a huge party with family right now and everything. Well, knowing that she opened up the door yelling ,"elders" I wasn't stopping there haha. So I spotted something on the counter and was like, "Is that peach cobbler??"  and as soon as she turned around I just started walking in!! haha it was the best! I am almost positive she was just planning to bring us a plate outside or something, but we just went right in! Long story short, we go into the living room and there are several families in there and we ended up passing out like 15 pass along cards and started talking about the book of Mormon and everything. It was so cool! I felt like we were on a big wall preaching or something :D And it turns out that the lady that answered the door is being taught by missionaries in California right now. She had to leave at 1 a.m Sunday, but we have a follow up lesson with a few of them next week. FEAR NO MAN! and the peach cobbler was pretty great too haha.

Miracle: On Sunday afternoon we were out contacting and decided to find another part member family. Well, our GPS led us to this wrong address and we ended up at this apartment complex. Well, we decided to see why and found an awesome new investigator that goes to school at Southeastern University, but then continued on to the PM fam. That was a miracle in and of itself, but it get's better! So we find the right house and knock on the door. This lady named Robin answered and said, "oh, y'all must be here to see my parents." WE were like, "We are here to see everyone." (having no idea really why we felt impressed to go to this house) Well, come to find out Robin is a member, but actively attends a baptist church right now. Her parents, Bro and Sister Porter live there with her ever since the flood last year, and they have been members for 30 years and are now in their 80's. Apparently bro. Porter was a high priest group leader for 17 years in the wynborn chapel that got flooded out. The miracle of the story is that they haven't had the sacrament for 7 months and Robin the daughter wrote a letter 3 DAYS AGO to the bishop probably complaining that they haven't come to see the Porters/give them the sacrament. 3 DAYS AGO!! The quote from the RM was totally going through my head, "you didn't get the letter? (dear john letter) What letter?" We definitely hadn't heard of any letter and it probably never even made it to the church yet haha. We had no idea, but Heavenly Father definitely knew. We ended up calling the bishop and administering the sacrament right then and there. We had a lesson all together too and Robin's daughter came home from work just in the right time. We are going to go over next week too and start teaching as well! 

We have been working with our investigator Liz, who has been dating a RM guy down here for Summer sales named Bret. He served his mission in Hungary, and Elizabeth grew up Catholic her whole life but just didn't ever feel like it was her decision nor did she feel a part of it I guess. Anyways, she has come to church like 4 times already and when Bret was out of town for the weekend she came with us to church AND to Sheryl and Shane's baptism on Saturday. When we taught the first lesson with her and shared the short Restoration video with her she was in tears and wondered why she hadn't ever heard this before. It was soo cool! And she made some delicious lasagna too so that was definitely a plus :) They can sure cook down here in the south haha. So we had an incredible Book of Mormon lesson with her right next to the baptism font last week, and then met again at the Mission President's house for dinner and a lesson this week. She is so golden it is awesome. Bret helped so much and shared his testimony about how when he went on his mission h e felt like he didn't know anything, but knew it was the right thing to do and then the truth was all confirmed to him. It was a perfect segway into 2nd Nephi 31 and although it was one of the most nerve wracking baptismal invitations with her, her boyfriend, mission pres (president Varner), and Sister Varner all there just waiting for it, I went for it!! She has just been waiting for it haha. September 16th is the date and we are all so excited. 

A bit longer email this week, but it is seriously so amazing to have the opportunity to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and just be directed to where he needs me to be. I love y'all and thank you so much for supporting me. I am so grateful to be here.

Love, 
Elder Wilson

AUGUST 24, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was CRAZY busy, but it was FILLED with miracles!! Not a whole lot of time to write, but I will include some of the amazing things and some pictures to make up for it. On Monday I will share more as well!

With transfers and all we were able to pick up the 23 new missionaries coming in from the airport and they are all soo solid! It was super cool having a testimony meeting with them and sharing a few of our experiences as well. They were so excited and it was just awesome seeing that. Sadly with transfers comes change, and Elder Arellano got released and is heading down to New Orleans in an area full of Spanish to finish his mission. He was a fantastic companion and we were able to do so great together. The work will still go forward, but I will definitely miss that California native! My new companion is Elder Hoopes! He is such an awesome guy and we were able to go on exchanges together once down in New Orleans, so I am looking forward to it. He is from Star Valley, Wyoming, and we are both excited to give it our all! He is an English missionary also, so we are going to be focusing in on the English ward. I know that it is all part of the Lord's plan, but I am definitely going to miss being a part of the Spanish branch as well. I learned so much about my Heavenly Father with that experience, and I will never forget the miracles and tender mercies in regard to the gift of tongues. There are things that you might not ever understand, but when the spirit bears witness to you and others there is no way to deny it.

Last week we had a general authority Elder Klebingat of the seventy come and visit the mission. He started out with a Mission Leadership Council down in New Orleans and was totally throwing down the hammer haha. In a good way :) And then he had a zone conference in NOLA and BR. He is from Germany and so you can imagine he didn't beat around the bush at all. He was straight to the point and didn't worry about offending anyone, it was pretty intense. Those Europeans haha. He was a mission president in Ukraine as well and was just so inspiring. He gave me such a desire to change, repent, and be even better. A lot of the thoughts and impressions he left were to have a sense of urgency for your mission and what would I would do if I only had one day left on my mission? He knew the scriptures like the back of his hand it was so cool. It gave me the chance to really ponder the principle of repentance. As I have been able to learn on my mission, it is only when I personally am willing to do as King Lamoni's father did in Alma 22:18, that is give away all my sins, be able to teach repentance with power and authority. I truly know that the only way Heavenly Father will trust us enough to guide us to his lost children that are only waiting to hear his voice, we have to be willing to give it all to Him. Lay it all on the altar. He lives and loves us, but it is only when we are obedient does he IMMEDIATELY bless us. I know that is true with all my heart. Saturday during the afternoon conference we had the incredible opportunity to be a part of our two investigators, Shane Richard and Sheryl Green's baptisms. It was a joint baptism and it was incredible! They both came so spiritually prepared and it was one of the greatest experiences of my mission seeing them come out of that water knowing that they were fully forgiven of their sins. I am pretty sure they were glowing with the love of the Savior. Sheryl didn't go all the way under the water the first time so she had to do it again, but it was pretty funny because as she exited the font she said, "I got a double blessing." haha she is so awesome! The spirit truly was undeniable. I felt so much happiness and joy for them, and can't begin to explain the gratitude that I felt being able to witness the decision that they made to follow Jesus Christ. Now to continue to help them make it to the temple. What was super cool though was the General Authority, Elder Klebingat came in and spoke for a couple of minutes, bore his testimony, and then shook Shane/Sheryl's hands. They were so thrilled!. It was just so great, because the ward really opened their arms and welcomed them both. The bishop baptized Sheryl and a ward member confirmed her in Sacrament meeting. Shane had a ward member do both as well, and that made it even better having that connection in the ward. It was such a special experience for me, and I can't wait to keep working with them and especially start teaching Sheryl's family!

There were so many amazing miracles that I wish I had time to share, but just know that I am doing great and am so happy to be here. 

Love, 
Elder Wilson

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

AUGUST 14, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was so great and just packed with miracles!!

We got a phone call on Monday afternoon from Sheryl saying that she had prayed about baptism and wants to set a goal for this Saturday the 19th along with our investigator Shane. He was really nice about it and said that a joint baptism would be all the better! Please keep them in your prayers this week as it always seems to be like herding cats the week of the baptism haha. It wouldn't be rewarding if it wasn't though, so bring it on! 

We have been able to meet with both Sheryl and Shane several times in the last week and they are both doing so great! What Shane told me the other day about being a monumental key in his life to understanding and keeping the word of wisdom really touched my heart and there are no words that could describe the peace and joy that I felt. Along with that, an African American member and convert of about 20 years, Sister Dade, invited us, her daughter/son,  and Sheryl over for diner last Friday. We were able to share conversion stories and hear how Sister Dade was invited over for dinner at a member's home with the missionaries and ever since has been an active member. It was soo cool, because she remembers how she came to know the truth and is doing the same for others! It was really special. Sheryl also shared with us that she had a dream years ago of two young men in white shirts and ties that she didn't recognize then waving at her as they passed on a train and beckoning her to come aboard. She said she never knew who we were until now, but it was like she had seen us before, and that was where. That was so powerful and amazing to hear how her conversion story has started.

Another miracle story was while on exchanges with a couple other missionaries in the northern part of our mission. I guess the middle of Louisiana, a small town out in the country called Pineville. We have been a bit worried about the work in this area and the missionaries seemed to be struggling a bit. We decided to set goals before we started the exchange and to make a long story short, the other missionary wanted to be realistic and apparently finding 1 new investigator wasn't too realistic bless his heart I guess. Anyways, he didn't seem to be too believing, but I wasn't there to sit back and sip some holiday egg nog ;) Ain't nobody got time for dat haha. So we got on those bikes and rode! After a couple rejections came the miracle. There was a couple standing outside their house talking and so we started to approach them. As soon as we started walking up, the man was like, "No, no we ain't interested. We are baptist, we know your purpose. Get out of here, we aren't looking to convert." But as we started testifying of our purpose to invite others to come unto Christ and that Heavenly Father was the father of our spirits and had a plan for us, he stopped and said, "hmm yeah we believe that." And then began to shake our hands and introduce himself. We ended up sharing the "Because of Him" video and he said that one of his friends/coworkers had showed him the same video a few months prior. It was such a miracle. The wife, Savannah, said, "Next time y'all come we will have a lesson inside with our 3 kids. The 15 year old really needs it." haha it was so great! It was just such an answer to prayers because we had the faith to go out there knowing that if we believe then Heavenly Father will provide for us. Faith always precedes the miracle! My confidence was in the the Savior Jesus Christ, and he hasn't let me down yet :D

Funny Story:  On Saturday, we were out contacting with an older gentleman in the ward, Bro Mills. We got in his car and started driving to our appointment. Well, halfway there we got a little lost in the big city and realized that we had forgotten our GPS. In turn we had to resort to what he was calling a "Map" which we haven't seen a paper copy of that for a while ;) We weren't sure what that was haha. Anyways, the map turns out to be a very zoomed out map of the entire state so that didn't help us very much. Well, long story short we ended up finding the house after what seemed to be a thousand U-turns and many horns being honked at us haha. As we walk up the drive-way to the house Bro Mills receives a phone call and answers it. We look back and he is talking on his iPhone HAHA. He had his iPhone with a gps on it the entire time LOL. It was so funny. You could say it was almost like we were stuck in the Rockies, and he had two pairs of gloves on while we were freezing with our bare hands. Movie quote :D haha good times.

That's it for this week! We have a general authority visiting the mission this coming week, a couple baptisms to prepare for, and also transfers next week, so it is going to be pretty crazy for us! If you don't hear from me in a bit don't worry, I am most likely safe, but probably a little nervous :)
Hope everyone has a great week and good luck with school starting up! Love y'all from the bottom of the south.

Love, 
Elder Wilson

AUGUST 7, 2017

This week was so great!! From, having Zone Conferences, to baptism dates being set, to eating some fried alligator/stuffed mushrooms/frog legs/squid/catfish/ and speckled trout,  to making a fool out of myself trying to say that a chile pepper off the vine looked spicy and accidentally using the wrong adjective instead of picante, it was a fantastic week!! You know what they say, it's all part of the experience Russ. So that's what I will look at it as haha bless my heart. I have to admit though that was pretty funny with the chile pepper. 

Miracle: We have been teaching the Richard family who are total Cajuns from the country. Shane has been taking the lessons for several months now, but just had the hardest time giving up coffee and tea. Believe me we told him several times to just make some redneck cajun ghetto punch instead, but apparently that wasn't working too well. Well, a few weeks back we had an incredible W.O.W lesson and just mapped out the details of the revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1833. That helped clear a few things up, but he was still hesitant. So, his wife decided they were going to take a trip out to Palmyra, New York. What better place to ask God then there!?!?! They came back last week and Shane called us saying he wanted to be baptized! We were so excited. He had some amazing experiences praying, but the most incredible part he said was feeling the spirit in the family member's home of a stake Patriarch. He said it was like walking outside in the south and hitting that wall of humidity, except for spirit. Which, I can bear testimony that that feels a whole lot better :) The spirit told him he needed to be baptized. So incredible. We set the date for August 19th and all their family are coming from out of town. The truth is that when we have the gospel in our homes the spirit can reside there and it can become a sanctuary from the world not only for us, but for those that enter therein.

Shane's dad, Blain has got to be one of the funniest Cajuns I've ever met. Being in the city you don't get to meet as many as you would like, but man they are funny. Here's one story he shared with us: you know you are a cajun when you buy a Thermos expecting to use the full purpose. It keeps the hot things hot and the cold things cold. So, obviously if you want to use it's full potential, you put some hot gumbo on the bottom and some cold icecream on top. Haha you gotta love it! 

Also, Sheryl made it to church this week and loved it yet again! She said that she wants to pray for another date to set for her baptism. In the meantime we are going to reach out to her family members and help decrease that burden on Sheryl. She is doing really well though! She told us that she just felt something was missing as she missed the last couple Sundays of church. Thank yall for your prayers in her behalf!

We were able to attend Zone conferences this week in Baton Rouge and New Orleans and were so inspired by the instructions. It has been so great still being a full time proselyting missionary even though we have the occasional AP responsibilities to attend to. I don't think I would last being stuck in an office all day haha. We were able to do some exchanges and really get out there with the inspiration from zone conferences. I wish I could share everything, but the highlight was having people read pages of the Book of Mormon and underlining every reference to God and Jesus Christ. There were so many miracles with that. 

I love this work, and I know that it is true. Have a blessed week yaherd! I love y'all
Love, 
Elder Wilson

JULY 31, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week turned out to be a great week! Not a whole lot of time to write this week, but I will share a few updates and highlights. 

We had been meeting with Sheryl almost everyday this week to prepare her for her baptism on Saturday, but unfortunately Satan creeped in on the latter days of the week... yet again. Sheryl's family started giving her a ton of grief about getting baptized and telling her how much of a mistake it was. What was even crazier was that she started receiving phone calls from her long lost "prayer friends" that wanted to "pray" with her, but apparently just ended up bashing on us and trying to convince Sheryl not to go through with it. Anyways, long story short on Friday night she had a panic attack and had to rush to the emergency room. She had been having them years prior, but of course all of a sudden they started coming back this week. It was definitely very disappointing at first, but it has only since strengthened my testimony. It is only expected on baptism week to have major struggles since Satan is trying his very hardest to stop it from happening. However, it will only make the event that much more special when it happens. Sheryl is so prepared and could make an immense difference in the community in bringing the gospel to so many people, and that is why it is going to be a battle. I know the gospel is true, it wouldn't be hard if it wasn't. It would just be some other church. They say that Mormons have a church building on every corner over in the West, but I can tell you that Louisiana has a church building on every corner in the South, but they are all entirely different haha. The church is true though, so it makes it all worth it. I am so grateful that I get to see the miracles of missionary work every single day no matter the struggle. Please keep Sheryl in your prayers.

We have been working with several part member families and gaining so much progress. So many of them have been coming to church as well, so there is some serious potential stirring up. One of them, Reggie, met with missionaries about 10 years ago even before his wife did, but lost contact with them. We have started to teach him again, and the miracle was when we decided to open up to Alma 32. We asked if Reggie would start reading in verse 21 and when he opened it up on his phone he found that verses 21-44 were already marked. How could that be? Well, because miracles are real and Heavenly Father is there. He told us he really needed to start reading and praying now! Let's goo. 

Our investigator Allison, the one that received her first bible the day before we met her, has been doing so well. We met with her twice this week and she is such a seeker for truth. Both times we met at a young family's home and had the lesson there. The last lesson was so powerful. She came with a list of questions and as we answered them we gave her a B.O.M. The spirit was so strong and her friend Danielle who was there for "moral support" started asking questions. It was so cool. 

Well, nothing super crazy this week but it was still great! Oh, except for piling up 6 mattresses on the back of the truck and somehow tying them down to drive on the highway. I wish I would've snapped a photo, that was unreal. #Onlyinthesouth 
Love y'all, hope you have a faaantastic week!!!

Love,
Elder Wilson