Monday, January 8, 2018

JANUARY 8, 2018

Hey Familia!! This week was really great! 

The Lord is really blessing the work here in this area. We met with Therese a few times this week and she is just loving it. It is amazing how the Lord puts people in our path at the certain times of their life that they are willing to listen and accept the gospel. She has been really turning her life around, and looking for a job right now. Sometimes Heavenly Father humbles us in our lives in order to bring further light and knowledge. I love teaching Therese, because she is so willing to learn and accepts everything we teach so easily. We asked her why she accepts everything so quickly even though she was raised Catholic for many years and she said, "I have felt so happy the last few weeks meeting with you, and so everything you share just brings more happiness." That made me smile, and boosted me so much that day. She has made such good friends with a family in the ward and so that has been great. 

We went on exchange in Picayune, Mississippi last week, and met some very interesting people to say the least. The first house we went into there were 4 kids running around with 3 big dogs, and all of which were eating raisins and tortillas off the floor. That was nerve wracking, but boy were they so humble and willing to hear the message of the restoration. It was awesome! Beats prideful religious people (not naming any specific religion ;)) any day of the week haha. And then we met this guy named Patrick who is probably one of the most ADD guys I have met so far on my mission, and that is saying a lot haha. He literally told us his whole life story before we even introduced ourselves, like most Louisianians, and then showed us his entire collection of the "word of God" which included any sort of religious book you can think of. Just imagine that. It was so funny!  Also, I gave the prayer before we left, and literally after 2 seconds into the prayer he started moving the books and saying their titles out loud. Haha I loved it!

Miracle: We met with the investigator Alvin that we found tracting last week at our gold mine trailer park, and he had read the entire introduction to B.o.M, testimonies, and had tons of questions for us. It was incredible! He then told us that his fiance Desiree knew all about the church and actually mentioned it before we even knocked on the door last week, because they were talking about going back to church for their 7 kids. Alvin then told us that she worked at this Circle K gas station and so we went and visited her there. Turns out, Desiree (his fiance') is literally a member of the church and was baptized in 2008 along with one of her daughters in one of the wards in Baton Rouge. She was so excited to see us and had no idea there was a church in Mandeville/Covington area. Apparently when she moved she lost track of the church. She said she knows we were sent by God, because it was the perfect timing in their life and relationship, and she said she wants it to be a family thing for them. She was also just recently promoted to Manager of the gas station so is going to start getting Sundays off here soon to go to church as a family! Let's gooo!! I am so stoked! I know Heavenly Father really does answer prayers and this is His work. ---Alvin made it to church and loved it :) He introduced himself in Priesthood as well, and it was way cool.

I wanted to end with my gratitude and thoughts for President Thomas S. Monson. He has been the prophet since I can really remember, and has made an impact on me. I remember receiving a book about his life for Christmas a few years back and loved it. It has inspired me so much, and I love the promise in the scriptures that the spirit can bring all things back to our remembrance, because there have been times on my mission where I remember his profound counsel. He shared many experiences of following the promptings of the spirit including visiting the nearest hospital, feeling the need to visit a ward member, and many others. Although the promptings and circumstances were different one thing was the same--The Lord had prompted him to act and a miracle in his eyes or a tender mercy in another's was present. He committed to Heavenly Father that he would never miss a prompting, and that has given me such inspiration. What a man.

Well, that's it for this week. I love y'all so much and hope everyone has a great start back to school! Stay blessed. And of course low and frosty.
Elder Wilson

JANUARY 2, 2018

Happy New Year's y'allers!! Hope everyone stayed low and frosty and had a fantastic holiday! But hey let's be honest, it couldn't have beat getting the LSU football game updates at every door we knocked on yesterday afternoon haha. Except the fact that it was a blistering 34 degrees outside.... and we were freezing our buckets off. Anyways, I almost busted out the Geaux Tigers Jesus pass along cards, but I guess those are still in the approval process in SLC :) Maybe next year! 

This week was really great! We pulled our socks up and gave it our all. We have been doing a whole ton of finding as you can imagine, since we got doubled in here but it has been awesome! The Lord truly does prepare people for us to find and teach no matter the circumstances. We were out trying to contact a less active in this trailer park and ended up meeting this guy named Alvin. He has 8 kids and has been totally seeking the truth. He was like, "You know, it's weird that y'all knocked on my door today because I be thinking about how to help these kids find Jesus since they be trippin." (paraphrased, definitely said it better than that haha) We ended up talking to him for a bit about the Restoration, gave him a pamphlet, and went back the next day. He had read the entire thing and was sooo interested in getting a Book of Mormon. We had misplaced it, and so didn't have one on us for some reason, and he was like, "Bruh, I want that book." haha so we totally went back and got it for him and had an awesome lesson with him. He was having some car troubles or he would've made it to church! Way excited to follow up with him.

Miracle: In that same trailer park we were walking down the street, and this car stops right next to us. These 2 girls roll down the window (prob around 23) and asked us what we were doing. Anyways, we shared a little bit and then they told us to come back the next day. We did, and they then told us the full story. Apparently Tashila, and her sister Kya were driving down that road listening to a song about Jesus, and both just started crying from feeling the spirit. They then saw us walking and both felt prompted to stop the car and talk to us. They had no idea why, but just felt like they needed to. We taught them the full restoration lesson, and they were all over it. Unfortuantely, (but I guess still fortunately) Tashila was moving to Lafayette the very next day so we have to hand her off to the missionaries over there, but so incredible that we met her at the perfect time. 
Update with Therese: She is doing great!! We had several lessons with her this week, and after the plan of salvation lesson we committed her to baptism. She still has a few struggles she is working passed, and so after praying we all felt like Feb. 17 was the day to set. A little bit away, but she is super excited about it. The ward has fellow-shipped her soooo well, it has been great!

Also, this week we were asked to speak in the ward on Sunday. It was actually really great to be able to introduce ourselves and try and get the ward on our side here! We both spoke about building up of the Kingdom of God here on the Earth. What better topic for missionaries to speak on than that am i right? It was such a blessing for me to be able to prepare the message, because it helped me to key in on some of the most important aspects of missionary work: befriending those around us, and doing service for them. Both of these are perfect segways into sharing the restored gospel with others. I also tried tieing it all in with faith. I love the quote from the Bible Dictionary, "True faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action. When we have true faith, we will always strive to act. I believe that the same is true when we start losing our faith, it is because we have stopped acting on the faith that we once had. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and know that it is true. I know that when we do act on our faith, that we find a certain happiness that we won't be able to find anywhere else. With a new year brings new experiences and new obstacles, but it also brings a new opportunity to change and improve.

I love y'all so much and am thankful for each of you in my life. I hope everyone has a blessed week and stays prayed up!
Elder Wilson

Saturday, December 30, 2017

DECEMBER 27, 2017

Merry Christmas y'all!! Boy was that a treat skyping the fam. Josh's witty comments that would make anyone nervous, Nater sprouting like a weed, and Mels staying low and frosty at girl's camp. Some things just never change :) Tell me that isn't just a stick of butter. (?)

Anyways, I just wanted to send a quick email assuring everyone of my safety here in Mandeville. My new companion is Elder Holdaway, and he is from the Boise area. I am looking forward to working hard with him and finding those that are prepared for the gospel, because I know they are out here! This week was filled with many hours of "friendly" Catholics showing us the outside of their doors haha, but regardless miracles were ever present. 

Miracle: At church on Sunday we were introducing ourselves to tons of ward members and just trying our best to meet the ward, when a lady walked in named Therese. She isn't a member and is going through some hard things with her family situation and finding a job. A friend of hers told her about the church, and so she decided to try it out. We were able to sit by her, and she seemed to love sacrament meeting. It was probably a perfect first service, because all of the speakers shared the stories of Jesus Christ's birth. We had been working hard the entire rest of the week after transfers and getting here to Mandeville, and so it was a total tender mercy for sure. A ward member then invited her over to their house for Christmas day and we had a great lesson about the Book of Mormon with them. She seems so prepared, but just needs a little help with some drug addictions. It is so amazing that she found the gospel, and I know that through Christ we truly can overcome all things. I also know that Heavenly Father always blesses those that seek him. I have found that sometimes the Lord blesses us for our efforts in ways we don't expect. Instead of just sending us to where Therese was and inviting her to church, he prompted someone else to invite her to church and met us there. The work will always go forward!

We are going to search out some of the more ghetto parts of Mandeville and start working more there, so hopefully that will help the transition a bit and make me feel a little more homely like in NOLA and BR haha. 
One more miracle I would love to share this week was out in the sticks of a town called Lacombe. It is a little bit outside of Mandeville and we decided to try and find some people out there. Well, after a while of finding we both felt prompted to knock on this specific door that was all lit up with Christmas lights. After we knocked, a guy answered and looked at our named tags and immediately invited us in. He then introduced himself as Arthur Wilson!!! It was way cool, and as we talked with him he mentioned living in Kansas City and knowing many Mormons. We shared the Christmas Light the World, and he was excited when we said we were going to come back again after he gets back from his Holiday trip.

Well, I will leave it at that for this week. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord, and fixing to keep rippin and running! Love y'all!
Elder Wilson

DECEMBER 19, 2017

Merry ssssChristmas y'all!!!! It is going to be a Kenny Chesney Christmas this time of year! (To quote)

Unfortunately there is so much to say and do today, but so little time haha. This week has been seriously crazy!! It is transfer week and it turns out I am being transferred to a little place called Mandeville. It is north of Lake Pontchartrain, so I will have served north and south of the lake, and experienced polar opposite things I do imagine. I have been here in Baton Rouge not even including LSU for a good minute, 6-8 months, so I am super excited for the new adventure that awaits! I am sure going to miss Elder Hoopes though, we have become such good friends. And I mean everyone has to have a buddy that is a stud wrestler, just to stay safe these days. My new companion is a great man, but might be a bit of a challenge as he has been struggling a little bit with a few things lately. We will be doubling in there so it will be a great opportunity to get this ball rolling. I am grateful for the trust that I feel as I am asked to strive to be an example and hopefully help him. I have never been a district leader before either, so I am excited for that new set of responsibilities. I am sure thankful for the prayers in my behalf that I have felt over my mission, and know that the Lord answers those prayers. I am stoked to hit the ground running over there and continue to labor with the Savior in a different part of his vineyard. As this new challenge and adventure presents itself, I would be so grateful for some prayers for me and my companion and in softening the hearts of the people over there as we begin to open up new doors and bring the gospel to new ears. What better time than this Christmas season!!

I read a quote this week:  "Obedience is the price. Faith is the power. Love is the motive. The spirit is the key. Christ is the reason." There are times where we must sacrifice the things that seem to be impossible to sacrifice, but by doing so we receive the faith that works wonders. If there is one thing that I know to be true, it is that the Savior Jesus Christ lives and loves each of us. However, it is only when we find the love for Him that he becomes the reason we do the things that we do. When our will becomes swallowed up in His will we will find ourselves as we truly are, and as we want ourselves to be. I know that He walks with me here in His work and without him I would be nothing. I love the Christmas season to be able to remember Him even more when times during the year seem to distract us. 

Because of time I will just share one experience from this week: We went out caroling the other night and just had the greatest time. We sung on so many doorsteps and many let us inside!! Who would have thought that angelic pipes made such good instruments in missionary work haha. We met many kind families that were so open to invite us back :) 
We met with many of our investigators and the Haitian lady brought her boys to church again. A ward member helped her find a job too, and so she is just becoming such a part of the ward. The boys just come to church every week with their suits and everything, and are praying about being baptized :) They are 12, 11, and 9. Many other people just so close to making those steps as well. God is good, and as Louisianian's say God is love.

Excited to skype home for Christmas!!! (I have 5 days to make something happen over there in Mandeville. They might literally give me 1 phone call, but I will know who I'm going to call! Walter Hobbs and Chris. (and Hermione o course) Haha jk I will figure something out! Love y'all, I will call you in 5 minutes!!
Elder Wilson

Monday, December 11, 2017

DECEMBER 11, 2017

Hey Familia!! (as Chris, Big Papa J, would say)

This week was super great!! Everything in Baton Rouge is going well. Breaking news was on Friday there were 2 inches of Snow here! It hadn't snowed since 2009 to quote a man on the side of the road. We may or may not have had our morning workout rolling in the snow making snow angels and throwing snow balls haha. It was a tender mercy for sure. Almost felt like I was back in the Rockies except I didn't have 2 pairs of gloves on the entire time ;) Also, I guess cars down here acclimate to the weather, because our truck died twice that day. However, luckily there were some good Samaritans out and about! Only a few though haha. Everyone down here literally caves them self in and doesn't dare go anywhere. Businesses shut down, and people just bundled up for a few days. It made the roads nice and clear for us, but not a soul to talk to on the street haha. We talked to so many kids making snowmen though and most of them hadn't even seen snow before! It was bitter cold, but boy was that a treat. 

All of our investigators are still doing well, and we have been meeting with them to prepare for the 23rd. It was a little harder to meet with all of them due to people's nervousness about the weather and the holiday season with friends in town, but so many blessings from the Lord this week. All of these things just meant more time for us to find even more people prepared for the gospel message this Christmas! Tis the season :) I thought tracting and finding in the rain brought miracles, but then we tried tracting in the snow :) It was seriously so great! People thought we were freezing our buckets off, but little did they know we are from the Rockies and love the snow haha. Hey if it gets you in the door to share a Christmas message, we'll take it! We met so many amazing families that love the Lord and are so excited to follow up with them this week. There was this lady named Tiffani that had 2 little kids that let us in and we shared the full restoration message. She was loving it! Just eating it all up. Most of our progressing work is up in Northern BR in the lower income areas, but we decided to take a swing at a couple mansions down south haha. One of which was actually pretty awesome. We talked to this guy for quite a bit just hitting bible scriptures left and right, and then of course several from the B.O.M. After it didn't seem like too much progress we gave him a pamphlet, bore our testimonies of the B.o.M, shared how God calls a prophet in every time period, and then kindly left. He then called us back for a card with our phone number on it :D That was pretty awesome, and always good to stay on our toes with the scriptures.

We met with Bria Campbell this week, and she is doing so great! She read Alma 26 and loved the parallels of missionaries. She is so nice and always seems so grateful for us bringing her this message. We followed up on her praying about baptism and she told us that she was worried about being baptized twice since Ephesians 4:5 says, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." We reminded her of the spirit that she has been feeling reading the Book of Mormon and when we teach her. We then shared Acts 19 along with a few other scriptures to lead into 2nd Nephi 31. We related to her how she was like one of the people Paul talked to when he visited and invited them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ even though they had already been baptized unto John's baptism. They (like Bria) hadn't received the Holy Ghost or had the baptism of fire. The spirit was so strong, it was way cool. She loved the answer given in the B.o.M as well and how it confirmed that. Bria told us that the spirit confirmed that it was true right then and there, and she felt a peace about it. She has set the goal to be baptized and is now planning to make it to church as the semester is done now, and she has gotten off work on Sundays  :)

Well, that is it for this week. I love y'all so much and am so thankful for your thoughts and prayers. I just keep wondering if it gets any better than this. I love sharing the gospel, I love Christmas time, and I really love them both together!
Elder Wilson

DECEMBER 4, 2017

This week was filled with miracles!! I don't even know where to start it was just incredible! We have been doing a lot of exchanges lately and so have been all over the place, but it has been great. 

Since our apartment was officially smoked out we took advantage of staying at the mission home with the Varners, and it was especially awesome since their family (and many little critters) was in town visiting them. We would get home at the end of the evening and just tell them all the great stories from the day. I think we buttered/pumped them up about missionary work if I may say so myself :)

We are really praying for a white Christmas this year and working our hardest to put people on date for baptism on the 23rd of December! We met with Tiwanda and her family several times this week and they are excited about the 23rd. We brought our good buddy Carlos with us and he bore powerful testimony of the missionaries finding him and bringing him to church about a year ago. They have been reading the book of Mormon like crazy and just love it. It is hard to even express the joy I get to see in that family as they read and pray about the truth. 

Funny Story: On Saturday evening we met this guy named Allen who was interested in the B.O.M and then he invited us to his church worship event that night. So what did we do? Of course we totally attended! Turns out the church was literally in the most ghetto part of BR where most of the crime occurs. I look back at some of these places and then look at my missionary name tag and just smile. Sure glad the Lord looks out for his missionaries. Anyways, the church was soo unique. They were blaring music, drums, keyboard, and singing (more like screaming)  at the top of their lungs "worshiping God" and praising the Lord. If feeling the holy ghost makes your ears hurt, then I don't think I want it haha. Bless their hearts though, they were so nice. They immediately ushered us into the front of the room which didn't make my ears feel any better, but it is the thought that counts right? It was a great experience for sure and it was cool because we saw a few people in there that we had previously met/taught. 

Miracle: On Sunday we had two full families and several others make it to church including Arthur Brazel. The Noland family (meredith street) all came: John, Lynn, and Lily. We had a lesson with them on Friday night and especially emphasized the talk given by President Monson just this last April about how important it is to read the Book of Mormon everyday. It was really powerful and it has been a great teaching tool. Interesting how possibly the last message given by Pres. Monson is about the power of the Book of Mormon and finding our own personal testimony of it. As I have been able to see on my mission, sometimes we overlook the small things that are actually the most important. They seemed to love church and are starting to dive into reading!!
Also, Johann the lady from Haiti brought her 4 boys again!! The boys seemed to just love it and found that they have a couple friends from school in the ward. It goes on and on the blessings the Lord is showing me here in Baton Rouge. I am just so thankful for this work, and know that it is His. We have been blessed to find so many amazing investigators that at times end up being harvested other places. However, I have been learning a certain lesson lately: This is the Lord's work, and he will direct it. If he wants me to knock doors and find all the day long, that is what I will do. If he wants me to get pneumonia in the baptismal font, that is what I will do. If he wants me to work my very hardest and maybe not see the fruits, that is what I will do. Regardless, how great will be my joy for laboring with Him. As 1st Corinithians 3:6,8 states, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one, and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." I know that this is true. It is hard to share all the amazing experiences and also the updates on many of our investigators, but if there is anything I could share I hope y'all know how happy I am to be here and the joy I feel serving my father in Heaven during this Christmas season.
I love y'all, and hope you stay prayed up about how to find ways to serve others this Christmas time!
Elder Wilson

Santa came early this year with a set of scriptures for Brother Brazel too :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

NOVEMBER 27, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Funny story, last night reminded me of this season of gratitude. We woke up around 1:15 only to realize our apartment was filled with smoke, and literally the vents were shooting out buckets of smoke from what seemed like our multiple chain smoker neighbors. To make a long story short, we opened up all the windows and doors, and may or may not have gotten our slickers on and curled up in the fetal position on the front porch. Luckily for us we picked the one and only freezing cold night in Louisiana to sleep on the porch. But as I have been reminded, in the eternal perspective, the finer things in life, just don't matter." Still many things to be grateful for :)

This week was filled with Thanksgiving miracles. Unfortunately not a whole lot of time today, but I will share a few treats with y'all. It is seriously one of the greatest blessings to be a missionary during the holidays. I am pretty sure more miracles await during this time of the year than any other there, and Tuesday was a testimony of that. 

On Tuesday, we decided to go to this apartment complex and start sharing little Thanksgiving messages with everyone we could. It is hard to even express the joy and miracles that were seen. It was probably one of the most memorable tracting experiences of my mission as specific prayerful desires were answered. The Lord was opening doors before we even knocked on them :) We went to one of the corner buildings, started from the top, and I am not even kidding when I say literally everyone invited us in. We almost lost track after about 14 doors. Every single door in that building except one, because no one was home. We expressed that we were there as representatives of Jesus Christ sharing a Thanksgiving message abut him. We met sooooo many full families and shared gratitude scriptures from the B.O.M. It seemed as if every single one of them was prepared for the message. So many had seen missionaries before, and knew it was a familiar spirit. We spent 4 hours "tracting" but it was one of the most joyful missionary experiences ever. We went back the next day to follow up with many of them, and had several incredible Restoration lessons with President Varner with us. One lady used to go to the church with her Aunt before she passed away and so is really excited to come. Many were so sincere in seeking the truth, and it was just amazing. Heavenly Father really is hastening the work here during the holidays!

Our little Haitian family that we met is doing really well, and the little boy gave the closing prayer a day this week and said, "Heavenly Father I am going to talk to you every night and I want to get to know you better." It was precious. 

We met with our investigator Allison again this week, and she was able to make it to church. We taught in Mosiah 18 about being baptized, and though she didn't fully commit it was the perfect lesson for her to re-commit to reading the Book of Mormon everyday and coming to church every week. She seemed to love Relief Society, which was a total relief (no pun intended) after a "bless the man's heart lesson of gospel doctrine." Our friend Arthur Brazel has made a 2 Sunday consecutive appearance and is doing great! He is in the process of receiving a calling, and so we are praying for Ward mission leader :)
Quote of the week: After approaching this man on the street we realized he had a gun under his arm, and so I said, "Hey sir, are you packing heat?" Looking back about 6-8 seconds later realized maybe not the greatest conversation starter, but he was like, "Yeah, it's legal, aren't you packing heat in those little bags?" I responded, "Well, if the word of God is heat then we are packing a whole lot of heat." Haha it was pretty funny and we actually got to teach him a little message as well :D I sure do love the South.

Well, I am so grateful to be a missionary here in Louisiana during this Holiday season. The people here are so unique and can be stubborn at times, but I love serving them. Everyday my testimony of the restoration of Christ's church grows. The fullness of the gospel is real and all we have to do is ask. God lives and loves us, and that is why he sent his son Jesus Christ. We can find gratitude knowing that he blesses us more than we even know.
Elder Wilson