Monday, August 29, 2016

AUGUST 29, 2016

Hey y'all,
This week was another great week on the mission. Holy guacomole it is so hot and humid down here, and it isn't even mid summer! I feel like I am in a warm swimming pool all day long. It's a good thing I love to soak haha!! We had some great Shrimp gumbo, Catfish Po-boys, and Redfish po-boys this week! It was really tasty, but let's just say it is a good thing they have Pepto down here haha! The food is growing on me though, bless my heart :)

During the week we did a lot of referral work and tried our hardest to contact everyone we could. We taught our investigator Keterra again this week and committed her to a baptismal date on October 1st. We are super excited to continue teaching her and preparing her for that special step of baptism in her life! We have taught her the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration and it is always so great to see her face light up as we share our testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel. I really love teaching people and feeling the spirit touch all of our hearts as we speak of the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ for each of us. 

On Saturday we had the opportunity to attend a Catholic Mass with one of our investigators. His name is Lester and he is a really kind and open man. He has lived as a Catholic all of his life, so that definitely makes it a bit challenging for him to change. He was very nice to us and helped us understand what was going on, good man. It was a really interesting experience though! I can't even imagine what it is like in Italy haha. Funny part of the service was when everyone had all finished taking communion and there was still quite a bit of wine left. The Head Priest guy totally chugged the rest of the wine and was walking all weird haha it was pretty hilarious. I really enjoyed learning about some of the things they believe and building upon the truths. They are all really great people, and it just makes me want to improve on that knowledge that they have even more, but y'all know how that goes :) 
Last P-day we were able to go to the National World War II museum with the senior missionaries down here. That was super cool! It always amazes me the sacrifices that were made to ensure our country's freedom and maintain world peace, for the children. I really enjoyed learning more about WWII and its historic significance.
One of my goals this week was to really focus on how I can better improve my teaching and faith in Jesus Christ. What better way to accomplish this task than to search the scriptures diligently seeking further knowledge, am I right :D?. I absolutely love reading the scriptures every single day. I know that when we really have a sincere desire to gain a stronger and closer relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ that the mysteries of God are revealed to us. I know that it isn't all at once, but little by little, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little we will further gain that personal witness of the truth. I would like to share an experience that I had with the scriptures this week. 

One morning I pondered about all of the times that I had testified that the Book of Mormon was true to investigators. Now I didn't doubt the realism of the Book of Mormon for a second, but I did have a desire to feel that significant truth again for myself because I had so often invited investigators to do so. When I knelt down to pray, I asked for that special feeling and witness and then started to read the scriptures. I opened up to 2nd Nephi chapter 3 and began to read about the prophecy given to Joseph of Egypt about the coming Latter-day seer, Joseph Smith, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. That was such a powerful answer to my prayer. I invite you all to read that chapter this week! It is really great! One of the verses I thought was super cool was verse 15: "And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation." I know that the teachings within Book of Mormon are true and that by following the counsel within will bring us back to live with God again. So cool.  I love that God is willing and desires to answer our prayers if we ask in faith. I know that he will answer all of our prayers even if it may not be in the way we think. I give a personal invitation to sincerely ask for an answer that has been on your mind lately. I promise that he will indeed bear that powerful feeling or thought into your heart and mind as he did for me. I love you all so much and am thankful for your love and support. Have a great week!
-Elder Wilson

Monday, August 22, 2016

AUGUST 22, 2016

This week was great! I was very glad I was able to meet the man, the myth, the legend, President Hansen on Friday haha. He is such a cool guy from Idaho,(Boise), the home of the brave. I look forward to working with him in this wonderful work of sharing the gospel.
A few highlights of the week: 
On Saturday we were able to attend a Nigerian barbecue! Haha it was intense. We were just biking along Lake Pontchartrain and we saw a big part across the street. A bunch of black guys just waved us over and told us we could be Nigerian for the day haha. They fed us some good ribs and such too bless their hearts. Totally classic. 
We helped this lady, Miss Yavonka, move into her apartment. Apparently she has been homeless for 11 months living in a van down by the river quite literally. She kept telling us how we need to have "joy in the journey and be grateful for everything" (James 4 I think). That was really neat to see how even with the hard times she has still remained faithful in Christ. We had to pass her off to some other Elders in that area, but we think she will be a great investigator for them.

I got my first baptismal commitment!! The guy is a stud. His name is Odell Chambers and he is a total gangster haha. He really wants to change up his life and be better. The date is for September 24th, so hopefully we can get him ready for that. Unfortunately it seems like he has quite a few things (drugs/alcohol) to fix, but nonetheless we are setting a goal!

Last week for P-day we went as a district to the French Market. Man that place is something else. Super cool. There are tons of shops and little swap meat booths to buy/sell stuff. Elder Glissmeyer and I are thinking about setting up camp one of these days and make a little extra cheddar on the side haha jk. Our district stopped at one of the shops called Pepper Palace. They had the #1 hottest hot sauce in the U.S.called Flashbang. It consists of ghost pepper, carolina reaper, habajenero, and moroja scorpion I think. They give free samples and it is 1 drop per gallon of water haha. A lot of us grabbed chips and went for it. HOLY COW!! SOOO HOT! I was in complete tears within seconds. It was hilarious. They gave us stickers though so that made it worth it. I have a video documentation of it too so y'all will love that I am sure.

I absolutely love the opportunity to get to know such a diverse variety of people down here in New Orleans. It has been so fun, because everyday is something completely new. Through sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ I have further come to the realization that everyone has their own circumstances, problems, and concerns that at times hinder growth and progression. However, as I have been able to look for ways to serve these people such as sharing a brief testimony or message of the Plan of Salvation, I have seen people's eyes open and a desire to learn grow. These people are further enlightened and envision hope for their future. This is the part of missionary work that brings true joy and happiness. I love it. What a blessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in our lives. I am so grateful for the knowledge of the Restoration. Even just after a couple weeks in the mission I can't stop thinking how grateful I am to have been raised by a wonderful family that loves God. I have seen countless people struggle because they have fallen into worldly traps like drugs and alcohol. I know there may be numerous reasons, but I truly believe that one of the biggest reasons is  that they were raised in a family that didn't know any better. I hope we can all take a minute and be grateful for all that we have been given. What a blessing it is to be brought into a family with the Gospel and live in a place where there are people that believe and live the same way. God loves each and everyone of his children. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to share that message with the people down here, because that truth is so important and we all need that truth in our lives.
One experience I would like to share from this week was when we were teaching a man by the name Ketera. She lives with her Grandma who is Jehovah Witness. She had ordered a bible online and so we called and scheduled an appointment to deliver this Bible. Upon arrival at her home, her Grandma answered the door and told us she was sick and asleep. We respectfully left and told her we would come back again. We called Ketera again and she gave us a time and so we went there again. This time her Grandma (Jehovah Witness) was waiting on the porch. We told her that we were there to deliver a bible to Ketera. She told us more forcefully this time to leave and not to visit Ketera again, because she was sick. We had no other choice but to leave. Ketera called us about 15 minutes later and asked if we were coming. We turned around and went straight back. This time Ketera was waiting for us on the porch. I am hoping that she is a golden investigator, because she told us that she didn't believe what her grandma had told her and that she wanted her and her daughter to be baptized in our Church.  We taught her the Plan of Salvation and told her we would love to keep teaching her to prepare for baptism. I am super excited to continue teaching her, but hope that her Grandma doesn't hold her back. We are going to try and set a date this week!

Have a great week! Love you all.
-Elder Wilson

Monday, August 15, 2016

AUGUST 15, 2016

Hey y'all,

First week in Louisiana has been ludicrous! The flight here was really crazy as well! Apparently Delta Airlines had to cancel over 1000 flights on Monday because of a computer system malfunction, so the airports were a big ole mess haha. There were 18 of us missionaries trying to reschedule flights and what not all throughout Tuesday. Finally, most of the other missionaries except 6 of us had made it on a flight and the rest of us had our flight at 10:30 p.m. Once we were all on the flight, Elder Park and I realized that Sister Smeltz had not made it on the flight. After much hassle we convinced the flight attendant to let us off the plane and to make a long story short we were able to get the last Sister missionary onto the plane which led to Elder Park and I sleeping in the Atlanta airport until our 11:30 a.m flight in the morning hahaha. Those airport carpets aren't quite as soft as they look we will just leave it at that :) That was a crazy first day east of the Mississippi let me tell ya! We were able to talk to some cool people in the airport though so that was fun. Finally we arrived in Baton Rouge Wednesday afternoon and I met up with my trainer Elder Glissmeyer. He is an awesome guy and total ski bum from Kaysville, Utah.

 So, my first area is a biking area in Downtown New Orleans! Man this place is something else. I am so excited to be in New Orleans for my first area! Our apartment is in the northern part of the area though so not directly in the city. We totally live the in the hood though, haha it is pretty classic. It hasn't been too hot down here, because it has been raining like crazy for last week. It is extremely humid though, I thought Atlanta was bad haha. Everyone is so friendly down here though so that has been great! People just come talk to us all the time and lots of them are like, "Wilson, yo yo, that's my name too!" Totally hilarious, I always knew a part of me was black and raised in the hood haha.

Church was awesome as well. The members are all really nice to the missionaries. We have one ward down here in New Orleans and so everyone is from all over the place and come from all different backgrounds. My favorite part of church was just listening to all the black guys yelling," can I hear an Amen, yeah." just all the time while people are speaking and teaching haha. The hour before sacrament meeting was spent bailing water out of one of the janitorial storage rooms of the Church from the crazy rain this week. Surprisingly New Orelans didn't get hit too hard, but I guess Baton Rouge got more than 3 feet of rain. Everyone is safe though, only one set of Elder's apartments got flooded and we only lost one car in the flood. As President Hansen has said, "all in all, for such a big flood, we are in pretty good shape." Because of all of the flight delays I haven't actually met President and Sister Hansen, but I hear great things about them and am super excited to meet them.

One experience that I had this week:

As we were riding along one day, we came cross a group of homeless guys on the street corner that were friends with our investigator Ace. I hadn't ever taught Ace, but Elder Glissmeyer had taught him the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, and the Word of Wisdom. Unfortunately throughout my life there have been times that I have looked down on homeless people begging on the streets, because I am sure there a lot of people that fake it and are not truly in need. Luckily for us being missionaries in Downtown New Orleans we don't carry much cash on us nor do we have money to give anwyays. However, one ting that we do have that is far more valuable and substantial is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through talking to some of these people I have further to come realize that at least down here many of them are truly looking for a better way of life. I know that this better way of life is the Gospel. Ace's buddies told us that he had admitted himself into Rehabilitation and so hopefully he will continue to progress. I know that through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement he will be able to start a new and better life. Seeing the gospel touch so many converts that we have had at Church in this area is such a wonderful experience. I am eager to continue working hard and find those people that need Christ in their lives, because that is all of us.
I love you all very much. Thank you for your prayers. Please pray for the people affected by the flooding. Have a great week!
-Elder Wilson

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

AUGUST 3, 2016

Hey everyone,

      Wow this week has been great! My time thus far at the MTC has been such an amazing learning experience. I am so grateful that I am able to put all my time and effort into learning and striving to know more of the love that the Savior has for each of us. I know that one of the greatest things that I can offer my investigators is the testimony that God and the Savior Jesus Christ love each of us soooo much. I absolutely love being able to study the scriptures everyday looking for answers that would touch our investigator's hearts. I know that some of our investigators are just acting out their part, but it is still amazing to see the spirit touch their hearts and help them come to know of the truth. It has also been amazing to see some of our investigators really having that desire to learn more and being willing to work as hard as they need to in order to find out the truth for themselves. 
One of the people that Elder Otterstrom and I teach is a student at BYU and has always wondered some of the funny things that mormons do haha. It was pretty funny because one of our lessons with him was devoted almost entirely to differentiating the LDS Church and some of the things "Mormons" or people at BYU do. He wondered why in the world people get married after two days of meeting each other. We laughed so hard, because he truly felt like being a Mormon meant that you had to get married almost immediately after meeting someone. We assured him that God has a plan for each and everyone of us and that He wants us to be happy. He looked a lot less stressed out when we helped him know that it is up to him when he wants to do that, and that he need not fear. I really enjoyed teaching Parker because he really had the desire to come unto Christ, but he was just afraid that it meant getting married quickly haha :) 

I am already loving to search the scriptures or answers for our investigators and know that the answers not only help the investigators come closer to Jesus Christ, but I know that I am gaining an even stronger testimony of its truthfulness every single day. The spirit is such an important aspect of teaching someone and helping them feel of His love for them. I know that as Elder Otterstrom and I have taught a few investigators and haven't been able to fully help that person feel the spirit enough. We have learned that in order to access the full capabilities of the spirit in converting the investigator and helping them feel of God's love for them that we must strive to allow the spirit in. I know that God loves each of us very much and that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to give us the opportunity to return back to him one day. The Book of Mormon is such an amazing resource to feel of that love. I am so glad that I am able to look to Christ for anything and the happiness that I feel as I strive to come unto Him is unreal.

We have had a few really amazing devotionals while I have been here at the MTC. Our first Sunday night devotional was the Nashville Tribute Band and it was incredible. I would highly recommend you look that up on.... what is it again... oh yeah google :) Some of the lyrics that I really liked were:

"The gospel is like a lighthouse in the dark. It makes us stronger. We are here to serve our God and King. It is good news that we bring."
Song: Tears at his Feet- "I tried to speak, but all I did was weep tears on his feet. Thy sins are forgiven. My sins are forgiven. I tried to speak, but all I did was weep tears at his feet."
The songs were so beautifully written and bring such peace and happiness to the soul. 

We had another remarkable devotional given by one of the Presiding Bishopric members W. Christopher Waddell. I absolutely loved it and was glad I could sing in the choir. He talked about looking outward and serving everyone around us and putting everyone else ahead of ourselves. He testified that as we look outward instead of inward that we will be successful missionaries striving to do as the Savior did.
This is the last week at the MTC! I fly out to Louisiana on Tuesday. We leave really early Tuesday morning and fly into Atlanta, GA before switching flights to Baton Rouge. It is about a 6 hour flight to Atlanta and then another 30 minutes to Baton Rouge. I am super excited to get down there!
Well, that is all the time this week. Love you all very much! Have a great week!