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.

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
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!!!

Elder Wilson

JULY 24, 2017

Hey y'all,  

I can officially say it is toasty toast down here in Louiville!! It was pretty intense last week, but now it is just over the top haha.  It is soooooooooo ooooooooo hot down here. It is insane. I never thought I could sweat from every pore until I came down to the South, heaven for betsy!!
I don't know how I'm going to survive. Luckily I'm not on a bike like the beginning of my mission last summer. That was something else. Those local store handkerchiefs just couldn't even keep up haha. I may have to invest in a Do-rag. The white handbook does say to adapt to the culture am I right? We'd probably get in every door at that point. Why haven't I thought of this before. Vision of the South here we go!

This week was really great! Sheryl was able to make it to church again this week, and gave some awesome input in the Gospel Principles class. Everyone was like, jee wizz she is right on point. Bishop introduced her in Sacrament meeting as well and announced her baptism for this Saturday the 29th!! Please keep her in your prayers, because she is feeling a bit nervous. It is totally expected, but we are just helping her work through it. She is really excited, "to get in those white jump suits and get in the water." Let's goooo!! 

We were also able to go back to that bible study that Silvia (one of Sheryl's friends that went to bible school with her) was putting on at her house. We took President Varner with us and it was so great! It was President Varner's first experience with a local bible study haha so you can only imagine. Direct quote, "that was nothing like I expected." Haha bless his heart. It is always so nerve wracking trying to find the perfect time to start sharing our beliefs/Book of Mormon with them since it is their bible study, but let's just say I went for it like it was butter and someone else was paying for it! We started reading in Hebrews 11 about faith and Silvia kept sharing about planting seeds of faith to grow. Well, what perfect time to share Alma 32 then right then and there! Long story short, we ended up opening up to it and all the 6 non-members in the room had a copy of the B.O.M to read from. We read almost half the chapter and it was so cool/hilarious that like the whole time Silvia was like, "come on now. Mhmhmmm. Oh yeah, come on now. give it to me now." Haha it was the best!

We had Mission Leadership Council this week and that was great discussing the needs of the mission. It was cool just having a very open conversation about so many things. President Varner's vision of the future of the mission is incredible. He is focusing on being examples to the new missionaries  After MLC were able to go on exchanges with the zone leaders down in New Orleans and I got to stay down in my old stomping grounds! It was crazy stopping at the Metairie Stake center on our way down. Just the smell of the building brought back so many memories, thoughts, nervousness, excitement, and everything in between. Since one of the elders was sick I was able to go out with a few different missionaries throughout the exchange. It was great just being able to learn from them and share a few insights with them from Pres. Varner. 

Last week I hit my 1 year mark out in the mission field. I can't even believe it. I have learned so much about myself and my Savior Jesus Christ. I am having a hard time putting it in words. He has always been there for me even when the answers to my prayers for strength came with boulders to jump over. Or you find yourself praying for patience and then pop 3 bike tires in a week. But each and everyday he has given me the strength to jump a little higher and be a little better. Our Heavenly Father always seems to push us out of our comfort zones knowing that it will be the best for us. However, that doesn't mean it is going to be easy. I have sure seen that on my mission. This has been the greatest 1 year for my life, and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for me next. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored on the Earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It doesn't matter how many people come up and say, "I'm not here to condemn yall or argue, but I just don't agree with anything you teach." Famous first words right there before a bible bash. The reason it doesn't matter is because it is true. The gospel is true and the Book of Mormon IS TRUE! Heavenly Father loves all of us so much. What more is there to say. I know it, and I know y'all know it. 
I love y'all and hope you have a blessed week! and shout out to Big Papa J, Happy Birthday broseph! Stay low and frosty :D and good luck trying out for the middle school cheer squad. 
Elder Wilson

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

JULY 17, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was seriously filled with miracles! It was an incredible week!

We had our district meeting on Friday and we were able to welcome two new missionaries to BR. One of them, Elder Maldonado, is from Mexico so speaks perfect Spanish is going to be such an asset to the work up here. Fun fact for yall: Louisiana has the highest population of Hondurans outside of Honduras. I am quoting at least. 

Classic story of the week: After a long exhausting few days of transfers we decided to hit up a local fried chicken/ wing shop. You can imagine it wasn't too hard for us to find one haha. 
We went to this little hole in the wall place and man it was soo good!! They were using some serious butter fo sho! It was just so funny though, because we got some Ghetto punch. And let me tell ya about Ghetto Punch. You can find it at most hole in the wall places. Just picture this: Kool-Aid with like 10x as much sugar in it and you got yourself some Ghetto Punch. I about fell off my rocker, let me tell ya. I don't know how these people do it. They don't mess around down here.

Update: We were able to meet with Sheryl a couple times last week and started asking her some of the deep questions like, "If God commanded you to give up tobacco, alcohol, coffee, or tea would you do it? She whole-heartedly said that she would. She is so faithful and so prepared it is incredible. She has been a street preacher for 40 years just out spreading the good word! She said that when the sister missionaries met her almost 30 years ago the first time, she just wasn't ready to accept it. But now she is! It is so exciting! 
The miracle of this story was that her friend Taiwan has been listening in to the discussions the last few times, and we had a meeting with him to bring him his Book of Mormon. So we show up at his house and he invites us in. He was like, "Mom, I want you to meet some friends." As we walk in we conveniently walk into a full on Bible Study!!!! Let's goo!!! It was so awesome. There were like 7 people all there together on a Saturday afternoon just having a little session. What better time to give an investigator a Book of Mormon then with 7 other people there?? They were all eyeing that thing like a piece of meat haha, it was sweet! We just started having a book of mormon lesson right then and there. It was amazing! And the first time we met Sheryl was when she was having a big ole bible study for her neighbors as well. Man these bible studies are legit! And get this, Silvia, the pastor lady doing the bible study is good friends with Sheryl. They went to Bible school together growing up. It is so exciting! I can't wait to see Sheryl and Silvia having Bible studies at the church and we just start inviting crowds of people. I can see it now! #Miracle#Gottafindmorebiblestudies
It really is amazing to see the pieces of the restored gospel in other faiths. They all have so many pieces, we just have to help put them all together!

One more miracle I want to share:

A couple weeks ago we took a Priest aged young man, Joseph Sant, out tracting with us. Of course we wanted him to have the best experience ever, so we were praying something amazing would happen. Well, we didn't find out the full story until Friday night. Here is the story: 
We knocked on a woman named Allison's door, and she opened it and told us we had just woken her up from her afternoon nap. We apologized of course, but continued to tell her about what we do. She told us that she was in the process of being "saved" and would get in contact with us again. We then knocked on the next door and a lady named Danielle answered. She grew up with mormon friends that all went on missions and such, but she wasn't at all interested it seemed unfortunately. Well, on Friday night we planned to meet with Allison at the church for a tour and a lesson, and we brought a young married couple. Allison shows up and Danielle gets out of the car as well!! They both came, it was crazy! We shared a powerful lesson with them about the P.o.S since they had such deep questions, but the miracle of the story is this: Allison told us that the day before we knocked on her door she received her very first Bible from a friend. She started reading it and everything. Well, that night she had the worst nightmare of her life. Then, we knocked on her door the very next day. She told us, "I just can't deny this."
I couldn't deny it either, that was such a miracle. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father is guiding us as missionaries every single day. He knows exactly where we need to be at the right time. 

On Sunday, the Spanish Branch had all of the missionaries give a talk. Well, that included me. Bless my heart for sure.  I thought that if I bore my testimony on fast Sunday that I would be off the hook, but I guess you can't hide especially when you are a missionary haha :) Anyways, both experiences have been so great for me. Even though I may not like to admit it, I can tell you that learning Spanish has been a bit of a struggle. Granted, we have so many other things we are doing with responsibilities and all/tons of English work popping right now/not to mention living in the U.S. and having limited exposure to Spanish culture really. However, that being said, I can truly say that Heavenly Father has magnified me enough to do it. I bear my simple testimony that He strengthens us and magnifies us far beyond our own capabilities. He blesses us with the ability to accomplish anything that he asks us to do as long as we put our faith in Him. It is the truth.

Hope everyone has a blessed week! I love all y'all! 
Elder Wilson

JULY 13, 2017

Hey y'all, 
This week was so great! It was pretty crazy with transfers and making all the arrangements and such, but we made it through. Elder Arellano and I are staying together as expected and we are excited to keep working hard! In case this letter is short, I will write more on Monday and include some photos as well.

We had the opportunity to pick up the 13 new missionaries from the airport. Man they are so awesome!! We had dinner with them and then had a really spiritual testimony meeting. It was a special experience for me to hear their testimonies and also share mine with them and some of the things that I have learned. This mission truly has changed my life. I love it so much. The whole time I was just thinking I want to go out with one of them and train haha. 

We then were able to spend a little time with the go-home missionaries. They have become such great friends of mine. I remember looking up to them so much and just being so inspired by them. My old companion Elder Jensen from back at LSU was leaving this transfer so that was sad seeing him go. Such a good man. I hope I can be a good example for the younger missionaries as these ones have been for me! It was pretty funny talking about some of the crazy stories and experiences we had back at LSU and especially downin NOLA. Elder Skillicorn and Barney were my zone leaders down in NOLA and we had some hilarious stories from serving in the same ward. The members of that ward are just so unique and so different. Here is one story y'all will probably get a kick out of:

So I never mentioned this, because I didn't want Mom to worry, but we were the first missionaries to start doing service at a prison, specifically the New Orleans prison. Now you know why I didn't want any worrying hahaha. Only in Louisiana would missionaries somehow get a chance to do service in a prison. As safe as that sounds ;)  There was a crazy member that got us into it haha. Anyways, we would go in with the inmates and help them check out books from the library cart every week. Yes, it was extremely nerve wracking at times. Also, there is no way I would have made been able to do it for 6 months without the help of a Heavenly Father. The security is crazy with so many doors and locks. I have no idea how I didn't ever feel claustrophobic, because there were times when no guards were present and we were stuck inside halls and corridors. MIRACLE for sure! But the inmates loved us since we would bring them books to read. "the church people are here with da books" Long story short, the funny part about the story was that the other elders went into the prison and one of the inmates was like, "hey, are y'all the mormons?" They were like yeah! He was like, "Well, I just saw one of your boys eat it on his bike off that Elysian fields  bridge last week." They busted up laughing, because my companion Elder Hicken had taken a huge spill on his bike the previous week and this inmate had seen the whole thing LOL!!! And not only did he see the crash, but he is now in prison the next week talking about it. What the?? Haha I guess you never know who could be watching!

An update with Sheryl our bible study/street preacher investigator:
She was feeling a bit down on herself last week and had injured her foot. She is a bit of a bigger lady, so it was making it very hard for her to get around. We were already planning to meet up with her for a lesson, so when we went over there we had a short lesson on priesthood and offered to give her a blessing. It was a really powerful experience and it was also cool, because she has been sharing the gospel with her friends and one of them, Taiwan, was able to watch us give her a blessing and be a part of that experience. It is soo cool seeing her already excited to share the restored gospel! She is going to be so awesome going out teaching with the sister missionaries when she gets baptized. The plan is for July 29th and she seems so excited about it! She made it to church this Sunday and stayed the whole three hours. It was great because a few of the ward members really reached out and stuck with her the whole time while we were running back and forth from the Spanish branch. 

The Spanish family we have been working with, the Romero's, came to church the previous Sunday and seemed so excited for their baptism, but unfortunately we got a text from them saying they want to go back to their old church... That was really disappointing, and we are going to go talk with them about it, because they know the church is true and especially the Book of Mormon. It is just hard when they come from these massive congregational churches and then we try and help fellowship them into the wards, but there just aren't as many members to fellowship and so that social experience isn't as prevalent. Anyways, we are going to keep trying!!

Well, I love y'all! Hope your week has been great! Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be out here on a mission. I love it!
Elder Wilson

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

JULY 5, 2017

Hey y'all, 

From ushering in a new mission president to meeting a voodoo evil spirit summoner, I'd have to say this was a pretty crazy week!!

To make a long story short about the voodoo man it all started from hitting doors. This guy answered and started talking all about his worshiping of devils and then just started lighting on fire all sorts of demonic objects. It was one of the most nerve wracking experiences for me up here in Baton Rouge for sure! I thought I left all of that down in New Orleans haha. Definitely not in Kansas anymore, or at LSU for that matter hahaha. Anyways, bless my heart. It was pretty freaking and I "accidentally" knocked one of them out of his hands and he got super mad haha. Luckily, we got out of there quickly and safely. You gotta love Louisiana, you just never know what you're going to get! We didn't stop there though, we ended up finding and talking to this really cool guy about the B.o.M in relation to medical school books :) Just imagine that!!

Exchange: Last week I got to go on an exchange at LSU with my good buddy and previous companion Elder Teare. We had such a blast, and it was just like old times. Such a good man. We got to take advantage of all of the best aspects of the work over in that area. These include, but are not limited to: Going to Free Speech Alley and talked to the 5 students that walked past (being that it is summer and not very hopping haha bless these elder's hearts), went to Institute class with some investigators, and got cussed out by the apartment managers while knocking doors at an apartment complex haha. All the best memories just flooded right back :) Good times, good times.

Friday was the beginning of a few busy, crazy days! We had our final interviews with President Hansen and he gave me some incredible advice for the rest of my mission and life. He is such a great man, and I have learned so much from him not only about missionary work, but about life. We had to drop them off at the New Orleans airport on Saturday and meet up with our new mission president Pres. and Sister Varner later in the day. They are so awesome though! They are going to take this mission to the next level it will be great! President Varner didn't go on a mission when he was younger, but was an incredible football player at BYU. He was a defensive end with coach Edwards and apparently destroyed! We met them at Raising Cane's fried chicken, and so as you can see they are definitely going to do well in the south :) We went out tracting with him and had a ton of success! He was so excited it! More about them next week, but we then traveled with them all of the different zones and had conferences so they could meet all of the missionaries. We had the opportunity to go and give a little training as well. We shared the talk given by Elder Holland called "Missionary speech of all time" about a younger brother going on a mission and finds his older brother. Please read it! It is amazing. It was a really great week!

Miracle of the week:

We met with our investigator Sheryl who came to church last Sunday and loved it! She told us more of the story tonight that she felt the spirit whisper to her "refuge" when she drove up the church building. Apparently that is a very spiritual word for her that goes way back to when she was inviting all kids in the neighborhood to "hear the word."  We had an amazing restoration lesson with her. It was so crazy because Elder Arellano and I both felt like we needed to commit her to baptism, but instead we kept committing her to pray. The spirit totally wacked us upside the head when we asked her to give the closing prayer and she thanked Heavenly Father for sending us and that she knew our message was true and that this was the true church of Jesus Christ restored on the Earth. It was stunning. We committed her to baptism right then and there for July 15th as a goal! "I am just so eager to go to the temple," she told us afterward. It was so cool! 
2 days later we went back with members of the ward, the Hilton family. They are both converts and are incredible. Brother Hilton is probably the funniest guy in the ward. He told Sheryl the story of how he was baptized after 5 days of meeting the missionaries back in the 70's. So crazy! He shared that Satan was throwing every possible thing in his path that week and told Sheryl that it will happen to her as well, but she just can't give in. It was powerful! 

Well, I love y'all so much! I know it, and you know it! Thank you so much for your prayers and fasting in my behalf. It is truly felt even if the Lord has a different plan sometimes. It has been amazing just working my hardest and not always seeing success right away, because I know Heavenly Father is teaching me something like he always is in our lives. 

Elder Wilson

And Happy Independence Day!!! the 4th of July is such a special day, how could I forget! Without the freedom of this country, we wouldn't be able to share the gospel! An incredible gift.

Monday, June 26, 2017

JUNE 26, 2017

Hey y'all, 
This week was something else!! It started out with some weather warnings / a tropical depression or so they say! But we all know, the Lord's work doesn't stop for no Tropical storm. Ain't nobody got time for dat!

This week was full of miracles. If I wrote them all it would be a book haha. I will share some of them though, no worries!

We went on an exchange with the New Orleans Zone leaders and I got the opportunity to go down there and work with a good buddy Elder Hoopes in downtown. It was so cool working down there, because I totally knew the area like the back of my hand. It was such a flash back to my first area. It felt like I was right back there loving those Nola peeps haha. Good people and good chirren :D We had an amazing exchange and saw many miracles. While we were down there we were lead up to the Gentilly area for some of their work and I completely felt like that was for a reason. So, I convinced Elder Hoopes to let me introduce him to the less active that I worked with named Grant Hiatt. If you remember him he was the guy that totally anti'd me hardcore, but then ended up having that amazing Ensign miracle and came to church the last Sunday I was there. Anyways, I had to stop by Grant's and see how he was doing. He was doing well, but unfortunately still in a custody battle for his kids. It seemed like it meant a lot to him for us to stop by so that was great!

So while I was down in New Orleans there was tons of panic about a big tropical storm that luckily just ended up being a ton of rain and no flooding. It was awesome though, because we just went out in the pouring rain and tracted!! (Pres. Hansen gave us the go ahead so no worries) We saw so many miracles it was unreal. We were soaking wet the entire time, but that made it that much better! Who wouldn't invite two soaking wet missionaries into their home during a storm?? Exactly!! No one!! Here is one of the miracles I will share: We knocked on this one lady's door and she opened it and was like, "this is weird, I just got back from visiting Salk Lake city yesterday. I took a tour of the tabernacle and saw the beautiful temple." We were astounded. What?? She was then like, "Yeah I was visiting family and friends up in Wyoming and then stopped by the temple square before my flight back." Elder Hoopes was like, "what part of wyoming?" She answered Star valley/jackson hole. Right where Elder Hoopes is from!!!! that was sooo cool. We talked with her for quite a while about sharing more of our message and she was super open to it. She couldn't deny that miracle!! We were truly sent there to that street for her. In the pouring rain :) Had we just called it a day because of weather we may not have ever talked to her! And then later that day we ran into two Hondurans that spoke no English, so I got to put my stuying to the test since Elder Hoopes didn't know any haha. Hey I did pretty well until I resorted to just reading the pamphlet haha! 

We went over to see a lady named Alma that had gotten back from her mission about 3 or 4 years prior and she was going through a really tough time. Her family was having a few troubles, and she just couldn't seem to  find peace. The entire lesson was in Spanish since she is from Honduras and so therefore, I couldn't understand a whole lot. Regardless, in the middle of the lesson I felt prompted to just try my very best to express the love that Heavenly Father had for her. Halfway through my testimony, I couldn't hold back the tears as I truly felt a heavenly love for her. I was happy to see that I wasn't the only one feeling the spirit so strong :) Although I probably slaughtered the words as I tried my best to speak in Spanish, I know that the spirit somehow told her what I was trying to say and that's all that matters. It was amazing. 

We got invited to this African War Refugee day by a couple of the members in the ward and it was such a blast!! There was tons of just straight African food and they were just piling so much random stuff on our plates haha. I was already super nervous about all of this very interesting looking food when they just threw on a big ol' eete fish on the top Haha that was so nerve wracking let me tell ya! It was definitely a tender mercy to be able to get that down the pipe LOL. Anyways the food was super interesting, but pretty good! Extremely spicy though holy cow. I thought Mexican food got spicy, but man. It was unreal. (I will send tons of pics next week)

Lastly, Sunday was so incredible. So many of our investigators pulled through and came to church. We had 8 come and they all seemed to love it!! The Romero family all came and are so excited for their baptism in July. The Lord is truly working miracles in this area right now. I am just sprinting to try and keep up. It is amazing.

You come out here thinking you are only going to bless other's lives by sacrificing yours, but you end up seeing the blessings in your own life and finding who you truly are. I am truly finding my life. Through learning and slowly coming to understand what my Heavenly Father wants me to be, I end up seeing what I want myself to become. I know that this is the Lord's work and as we trust in him we will see miracles and his Hand. As Pres. Monson has said, "Don't lose your faith, because the Lord has not lost faith in you." How true this is. It doesn't matter how far we may find our self, because our Heavenly Father's outreaching arm is always extended far enough towards us; We just have to reach out and grab it!

Thank y'all so much for your prayers and support. I know this is where I am supposed to be, and love it. Have a blessed week!

Elder Wilson

Monday, June 19, 2017

JUNE 19, 2017

Happy Father's Day to all you Paps out there! Y'all are so great and such wonderful examples to me.

This week was full of miracles! I wish I could share everything, but I will just have to stick with a few highlights. 

We went on an exchange with the Denham Springs Zone leaders and I got to exchange over in their area with one of my good buddies I served around earlier in my mission, Elder Orison. We started out planning to just go tracting for a little bit before a couple other visits, but the miracles were just so evident that we ended up just meeting people in that housing area almost the entire night! The miracle I want to share from that experience though was when we met this small humble family witha Mom, three kids ( 4,7, and 11) and a rampant old man, bless his heart. The mom immediately invited us in and we could see that they were still recovering from the massive amount of flood damage to their home. She told us that when she first saw us wave at her down the street (don't even remember waving, but amazing to think about the small things that cause a huge impact) as she drove passed that she knew we would come find her family. We were able to teach the restoration lesson to her and the 11 year old son, Josh. As we shared the loving message of the gospel she told us that she was "feeling a good vibe from us." Haha  that was so cool to tell her it was the spirit. And since Elder Orison and I had made it a goal to extend two baptism commitments, we were blessed to have the opportunity to do it! She told us that she had never been baptized before and felt like that would be something special for her and her family. I know that Heavenly Father is there and he hears and answers our prayers. That was a special experience for me, because i truly felt like that family was prepared for us to find them. And it only took 10 houses to get there :) Later that night we met with 2 RM's that were married, but a bit less active. Such a nice family with strong testimonies, but just got a bit distracted it seems. The wife is from Nicaragua and got baptized when she was 15. The miracle though was that she asked where I was from and when I said Pocatello, Idaho she was stopped in her tracks. The missionary that baptized her was from Poky. Not sure if anyone knows Jason Summers or his family? But please let me know if you do! Either way, it reminded her of the day she got baptized and the feelings that she felt that day as well as her mission experiences. She was so excited. She told us that she knew I was sent there for a reason and she needed to start coming back to church! It was unreal. The Lord truly guides us to where we need to be. 

We have been working very closely with Part members in the ward and Less actives with non member family members and have been seeing a ton of opportunity for sharing the gospel. We have noticed that when we focus on teaching about family history within the Restoration lesson it brings the spirit so much. Families truly are the center of our Heavenly Father's plan.

It has been so cool taking a younger youth, Joseph Sant out teaching with us. He turns 16 in a couple weeks so we had to get permission to take him out teaching, but he has seemed to really enjoy it! He told us the one day we were with him, "So do y'all always have this much success?" And I honestly didn't even think it was that good of a day hahahaha. It made us really think about the small tender mercies. When you look at the small miracles and blessings though, it truly is amazing what the Lord does for us. He helped us visit a RC that we are helping read since he is a bit educationally challenged. He is doing so great though! We are helping him read the Sacrament prayers so he can start blessing the sacrament on Sundays. 

On Friday we went to visit someone in the ward and ended up getting invited to this big neighborhood bible study! Sister Theirry from the ward was there and she introduced us to all her friends. There were 6 other people all non-members just having a study! It was so awesome. She was like, "these are my church members. my missionaries." Classic! We ended up staying for the study and read in Romans 8 about love. the lady holding the study told us she met with missionaries like 15 years ago and has always wanted to come to church! So sister Theirry  invited her for next sunday :D

Alright the highlight of the week though was Elder Parker, an area seventy coming to the Baton Rouge Stake Conference! Just picture this:  a really big African American guy that grew up Baptist and was converted at age 22 lighting up the podium with his energetic, hand motions, totally mobile, and intense southern preacher feel from Atlanta Georgia. You got it?? It was so awesome! only a guy like him could get away with that southern baptist preacher feel in sacrament meeting LOL. He told us his story too: He was in the military and out at war when he found himself trapped in a fox hole with 5 other guys. Long story short, he was the only one to make it out alive and while he was in the hole he remembered the missionaries knocking on his door. He remembered that they taught him how to pray and so he prayed that if he made it back safely onto U.S soil that he would turn his whole life to God. He made it back safely and 5 days later the spirit nudged him to remember the promise that he had made. He then called the missionaries and got baptized! Such a stud. Later someone told us that he had a brother who was a huge baptist preacher of a Mega church in Atlanta. And to be considered a mega church it has to have over 10,000 members. Well, his brother has 12,000 members and one time he let Elder Parker speak for 30 mins. Elder Parker told him that if he wanted him to testify of Jesus Christ he was going to have to use the Book of Mormon as well. His bro was okay with it, so he preached and had tons of missionaries come. He told him that he wouldn't give any copies of the B.O.M out inside the church, but the sidewalk was a different story haha. So he had tons of missionaries come and bring boxes and boxes of B.O.M's to give away outside the mega church. So basically those missionaries had referrals for ever! I just wanted to share that story, but seriously this guy was so cool! You can just imagine that Baptist Preacher style sacrament meeting talk from this member of the Seventy. And he bore such a powerful testimony of missionary work and got the members all excited. 

Well, it was such a great week. I love y'all so much. You are such great examples to me. I hope everyone is doing fantastic! 
Elder Wilson​​​

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

JUNE 12, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was such a great week! I realized pretty quickly that I was in a bit of a bubble over at LSU since everyone was so young and direct, and let's just say, I am no back in the South where people are so friendly and love to talk haha :) They love their chirren and grochers. (children and groceries) Good people! I really loved serving at LSU meeting so many awesome people from all over the place studying. It was extremely hard to leave that area, but I know this is where I am needed now, and I am thrilled to serve my Heavenly Father over here. It is super cool though, because I am still in Baton Rouge so I can keep in touch with all the great people I met and was able to teach as well as the ward members. We even pick up the LSU elders on P-days and do fun things over on campus so that has been sweet! It is so weird having a vehicle though, I am used to just trekking on a bike or on foot haha. We can get places :D

My new companion Elder Arellano is from Anaheim, California and he said about 15 minutes from Disneyland. He is an awesome guy and a really hard worker, so I am excited! He is half creole and half Hispanic so he totally looks like a big polynesian haha. Everyone always asks him about it and it is pretty funny. He is a convert of about 4 years now and has such a strong testimony.

We have been super busy which is always awesome, because we still have lots of work going on with the the Spanish speaking investigators that Elder Arellano has been teaching for a while and the Spanish branch. On top of all of that, we got doubled into the BR east English area as well. It has been a blast! It has been crazy completely starting fresh and trying to find people to teach, but it has been great laying a foundation for further work. You have to start somewhere and so we have been working really closely with many of the members of the ward and going around introducing ourselves and getting some referrals :D We also volunteered with the American Red Cross this week and went around knocking on doors and installing free smoke alarms. It was about the easiest door approach ever haha! Elder A. would read off all the paperwork and I would install the two-three smoke alarms per house, it was great! Even with our white shirts and ties people were calling us Bob the builder all over the place haha. 

The district we are in is all Spanish missionaries so that has been a blast too. Last week we had an instruction on praying and I was able to give the closing prayer in Espanol haha. It was definitely a start and I have been practicing praying in all of our lessons too. You have to start somewhere!

I wanted to share a few miracles this week:

We have been working with this wonderful Spanish family, the Romeros. We were able to meet with them twice this week and share a lot about the families and temples lesson. It was special for me to be able to share brief testimonies throughout the lessons. They are such a nice family and love that I am trying to learn Spanish. I think they mostly like how funny it is when I am not afraid to make a fool of myself in lessons and try and speak in Spanish. (And probably slaughter it haha). Just kidding they are so kind and friendly. The mother Claudia, the Husband Victor, and their son Michael (13), and nephew Luiz (12) (both of which speak fluent English so that really helps when I am trying to ask how to say something!) That seems to be the situation, the parents never know how to speak English, but the kids since they go to school here learn it. Either way, it is amazing to be able to share the gospel in their native tongue. They are such a humble family and have been reading the Book of Mormon and really pondering the truthfulness. When we went back on Friday night they had all kept their commitments and we had an amazing lesson with them about baptism. Although I couldn't really share much, or understand a whole lot, I could feel the spirit there and I know they felt it too. They were so excited for the chance to pray about baptism and over the date of July 8th. Please keep them in your prayers, they are such a special family and I am so excited to keep teaching them. When we went back on Sunday they were outside telling their family about the Book of Mormon!

One of the referrals that a member from the English ward gave us was a guy named Tony Parker. I thought the same thing, "wait the spurs player?" Haha unfortunately not, but a great guy nonetheless! We found out that his son had committed suicide about 3 months ago and as we knocked on his door we told him that we had a special message from Jesus Christ about being with our families forever. He invited us in and we started reading scriptures together. I was on an exchange with one of the Alexandria Zone leaders, Elder Heninger, here in BR and it was so cool. We read in Alma 7 about how Christ took upon EVERY pain for us and Helaman 5. We were able to share our testimonies of the Plan of Salvation and how his son was in a better place. His son had been going through very hard things, but we knew he would see him again. As we bore testimony of the Savior, there was no dry eye in the room. It was truly a miracle, because it had been a tougher week for me just not being able to share as much of my testimony as I would have liked since we have been doing so much spanish work. A tender mercy from the Lord. 
We went back later in the week and he invited us in again. We were planning to share the restoration lesson with him, but we ended up just sharing one of the amazing easter videos about the resurrection. It was weird though, because he told us he wanted to hurry and finish the lesson because he had something to ask us "unrelated." He then asked us what made our church different and was like, "I'm not interested in converting since I am already saved, unless you have to be a Mormon to be saved then I would want you to push me but.... " He stopped himself. He started to inwardly reflect. We then shared a brief restoration lesson and he was so put back. We shared about temples and baptisms for the dead and it was just sooo cool. We are excited to go back on Wednesday with a member of the ward.

I have so much I want to share... Quickly, one other special experience this week was that the YSA were having a dance at the stake center in BR. There was a member from the Hammond ward bringing 4 of his friends (investigators) to the dance. Well, to make a long story short we met up with all four of them about 20 minutes before the dance started and got permission from the temple president to have a short lesson in the waiting room of the temple. The temple is right next to the stake center so it worked out perfectly. It was unreal. We kept it short and just shared about faith, repentance, and how special the temple is. Most spirit felt lesson ever right there!

I love y'all so much! Happy Father's day to all y'all paps out there. Words can't express the gratitude for the things you do. Have a blessed week!

Elder Wilson

Monday, June 5, 2017

JUNE 5, 2017

Hola Como Estan!

This week was a really great week overall, even with the hectic schedule at the beginning. A lot of change coming for Elder Wilson haha, but it will be great!

So last week was transfer week, and it started out pretty crazy, because last Monday morning I got picked up bright and early by the AP's and they took me into the office. They wouldn't tell me anything and I felt like I was getting mugged haha. When I got there President Hansen asked if he could interview me and like the whole time I was thinking, "Oh no, not again. What did I do this time? I knew we should've went inside last night when it was pouring rain. And that chocolate cake, don't even get me started about that chocolate cake" Lol. Anyways, you never want to be unprepared for these kind of on the spot interviews. Luckily, I had totally remembered to shave that morning :) He sat me down in another room and called me to be an Assistant to the President. It is really humbling top think the trust Heavenly Father has in me to be an example to the other missionaries. This mission has helped me come to know the many weaknesses and the things that I struggle with so much, but still for whatever reason he gives me more opportunities to learn and grow. I have seen how our Heavenly Father calls the weak to rise up and be leaders to the people. Like 1st Corinthians 1:27, God chooses the weak things of the world to confound the wise. There are times when I feel so inadequate in the responsibilities that I have been given, but every time my Savior Jesus Christ has been there to walk beside me. I know that He will strengthen me in all the things that he needs me to do. Pres. Hansen then reminded me of the realization that we will be having a new mission president, Pres. Varner, coming into the mission on July 1st and how he felt like I should be the one to help him make the transition. It hit me like a ton of bricks, but as he shared his testimony to me I could feel my Savior's love. As I have been prayerfully studying one of my favorite scriptures Matthew 11:28-30 I have come to find the peace that comes from being yoked with the savior. It tells us to come unto Him and learn of Him and we shall find rest to our souls. For his yoke is easy and his burden is light. I bear you my testimony that I know He lives and loves us. I don't care what anyone says, He is there and he IS the Savior of the world. He will never leave us if we will turn to him. It is going to be a challenge, but I am so excited to be able to help be an example and serve. Through faith and diligence we can accomplish anything!

The rest of the day was helping get all the transfer boards and everything all figured out to be able to tell everyone where they will be serving, and getting all the car routes figured out. It was intense trying to plan how to most effectively get car repairs/ tests up in BR as well as what missionaries need to ride with who and what area, etc.  

We then had to make all of the calls the next day and pick up the new missionaries at the airport. It was a ton of fun to see the two new greenie elders and 2 new sisters right off the plane from Atlanta and bring them to the mission home. We were able to share our testimonies with them and hopefully excite them for their mission! Up until Wednesday I was in a trio with the current Assistants, Elder Barron and Arellano who are both Spanish missionaries. Elder Barron went home last Thursday morning and so that was crazy to have to take him to the airport at like 5 a.m with the rest of the Go-home missionaries. They were all really great missionaries, so it was a bit sad to see them go. It was pretty funny though, because while we were in a trio we went and helped this Spanish family move furniture and they literally spoke no English at all so Elder Barron was helping me learn some Espanol on his last day in the field haha.

By Thursday afternoon we were back at working and turns out I am with Elder Arellano in a salt and pepper (English/Spanish) companionship covering the BR Spanish branch and the BR 3rd ward. So all of East Baton Rouge English and Spanish.
I wish I had more time to write, but the last couple days have been super intense! Since Elder Arellano was doing all Spanish work with Elder Barron in the BR east Spanish area we have tons of investigators to teach, but none of them speak English!! To make a long story short, we have been following up with all of these people and I have been so lost and confused. I literally feel like a brand new missionary trying to learn the language LOL. Bless my heart for sure. I thought that I had finally gotten this whole mission thing down, but apparently not haha. I am starting over pretty much! I can now most definitely say, "This is not the language they taught me in the MTC" LOL :D

On Sunday we attended the Spanish branch in the morning as well as the English ward. I wrote down several sentences of my testimony I was going to share in the Spanish branch, but we ran out of time, (And I was a bit nervous :D) And the English ward is super awesome!! That was a nice relief being able to clearly understand the message and not be nervous to introduce ourselves and bear testimony :) We then went to the mission home for numbers and such last night.
I am really excited for these new assignments, but I am for sure going to need some help! Thank you so much for your prayers in my behalf. I love y'all so much. Have a blessed week!

Elder Wilson

Friday, June 2, 2017

JUNE 1, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This last week has been crazy!! Unfortunately I have almost no time to write, but I will share a few wonderful experiences this week.

We have been really working with George and his older brother Bentley by reading in the Book of Mormon with them and helping them understand the infinite power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We shared the amazing video called, "Because of Him" with them and they loved it. That video is so powerful and ALWAYS brings the spirit and softens the hearts of those we share it with. If you haven't seen it, I would highly recommend it! Bentley has been going through some hard times as far as giving up his Marijuana addiction, and George has been a bit nervous about giving up his belief of Polytheism. One of the recent converts in the ward, Noah Schexnayder, has been so great in coming with us to teach. He has known the family for a long time and so that is so cool. As we shared the story of Saul becoming Paul we talked about how he may have had a small belief in multiple Gods, but mostly went around persecuting the people for believing in Jesus Christ and was even throwing them in prison. We continued to share the story of his journey on the road to Damascus and how Jesus Christ appeared to him and asked him why he was persecuting him. After he was struck dumb for 3 days, Annanias a missionary in a way healed him and baptized him. Paul then became one of the greatest missionaries we can read in the scriptures. It was so amazing to relate the story to George, because though he wasn't going around persecuting anyone for believing in Jesus Christ he himself has so much potential once he accepts the gospel to share it with others. He was so excited and told us how he wants to be the example for his family! He ran inside and told his brother and Mom that he was going to be baptized. The next few days we taught him all the rest of the lessons and were planning on the baptism on Saturday. Unfortunately, his Dad, Gregg, who is extremely atheist wasn't very excited about it and since he has been out of the country for a couple weeks he said George has to wait. Definitely understandable, but sad because George is so ready and prepared. Every time we teach him and Bentley he ends up teaching almost the entire lesson haha. We then talked with George and his Mom and are planning for June 10th since Gregg will be back in town by then. That was pretty disappointing since we were hoping and praying for this last Saturday and George even prayed and decided on the date, but we know it will all work it! That is the great thing about the gospel, it is supposed to bring families together not pull them apart. We expressed our love for them and that we only want what is best for them. 
Also, a tender mercy this week was that Bentley lost his drug dealer friend and is now unable to buy. Definitely interesting that this has happened so recently after we began teaching him. I know this is the Lords work and he has a plan for all of us. We were so excited about that, because he told us this is his chance to get out! Please keep that family family in your prayers.

 When we went back on Friday afternoon and an amazing thing happened! We started out by reading the vision of the tree of life interpretations with George and Bentley and we talked for a while about "jumping the gap" between faith and knowledge. And how our faith and belief can become knowledge through our experiences and as we learn more about our Savior Jesus Christ. It was an interesting analogy, but it seemed to click for them :) As we were reading the Mom, Caroline, came home from work and started reading with us! It was apparently her first time ever reading in the Book of Mormon. She loved it. As we read and the spirit filled the room, she shared a couple special experiences about how she knew that God was there. 
To make a long story short, when she was giving birth to George she almost lost him, but she heard a voice that comforted her and told her it was going to be alright. It was so amazing reading all together and we could tell it was bringing their family together. (Keep reading the scriptures as a family, I promise it will bring more love for each other. I have seen it.) The quote of the night though had to have been from George: "So, should we all get baptized?" -George "That would be a great thing for our family."-Caroline They are so open hearted and sincere. We all laughed that when Gregg gets back his whole family will be Mormons :) We shared our testimonies and and committed the family to read Moroni 10 together that night. They were thrilled. I love that family and I know I was sent to LSU for them if nothing else. The whole family came to church on Sunday and loved it too so that was amazing :)

We have also been working with this really awesome guy named Dylan Powers. He has been less active for a few years now and we have slowly but surely been meeting with him and reading the scriptures together. He never went on a mission and so he feels a bit out of place, but he is starting to make friends and become active again in the singles ward here. He came to the ward crawfish boil last week too so that was a start. This week he finally mustered up the courage to come to church and we met with him, us, and the bishop to get everything all figured out since he has been a "disfellowshipped" member and that has been what has kept him from coming back. The Bishop helped show love and how it is all a learning process. We all make mistakes and slip up, but Jesus Christ is always there with open arms beckoning us to come back. 

Well, on Monday I will share more about the craziness of this week, but I am overjoyed in serving my Heavenly Father and sharing the gospel with his beloved children here in this area. I love y'all! Hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MAY 22, 2017

Hey y'all,

This week was a little more of a struggle since we are kinda in that transitional phase, the time after the spring semester and before the summer semester starts up in June. Regardless, it was a great week! We were able to stay busy and find some great people to teach. One nice thing is that though there are less people, (way less haha) those that we find mostly have time and are willing to listen :) We have also been able to get in contact with some of the other missionaries that we sent so many great referrals to. That has been really cool to hear the progress.

Update on our Muslim Brothers: Sufyan officially moved back to Lebanon in the middle east and is trying to find some lds church buildings over there. BYU Jerusalem is really close to where he is going to be at this summer, so he is in good hands. Tarif is in Washington D.C. for an internship, and we are getting him in contact with the missionaries there. It was so amazing to be able to teach them and get them started on this joyful path. They both should be back here in the fall too, so they will be good to go. Easa is still living here in Baton Rouge close to LSU campus, but just working at a local plant. He is slowly but surely coming along!

For our exchange this week I got to go over to Lafayette with Elder Flores. He came to LSU last time and we had a hilarious time. He is from Mexico and is a Spanish missionary trying to get better at his English as well. He is so funny! We tried finding some more Spanish families to teach so that was a lot of fun for me to tag along haha. It is interesting to run into those parts of town where there are just small pockets of Spanish people that all congregate.

A couple miracles this week:

We have been really trying to find more people to teach that are around this summer, so we went to an apartment complex that we haven't ever hit before. We ended up hitting a bunch of doors of people that moved out, and just as we were about to turn back we met a guy named Kinsley. We knocked on the door and he answered in his blanket and everything. Totally woke the guy up haha. We were like, "Hey man you gotta get up, it's 10:30 the birds are chirping and everything." haha just kidding we were nice and we found out that he had been recently trying to get back to believing in God and praying to him. As we shared the restoration of the gospel and testified of the Book of Mormon his eyes opened wide open and he threw the blanket off and turned on all the lights. It was awesome!! He felt something special and we asked him to give the closing prayer to ask if it was truer. Probably one of the most heartfelt prayer I have heard an investigator say on the first lesson! He is moving to Houston soon though, so we are going to get him started.

We have been in contact with this guy named Brennan who has been studying for the MCAT and had to take his last Thursday. It has been cool to be able to relate even just a little bit since Josh had his on Friday. We have been trying to help him start reading, but he has just been so "busy." It was awesome though, because we read some with him from the Book of Mormon in Alma 37 about prayer and then told him the story of how Sufyan read the B.O.M 5 minutes before his exams and totally aced them. He was like, "Are you serious Clark?" Hahaha we were like yeah man! When we left we looked back and saw him reading the B.o.M through the window :D That was pretty cool!

We met with George and Bentley several times this week and they are doing great. We had wonderful lessons with them and really tried focusing on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is so cool that as I have the opportunity to teach and bear testimony of his life and the things that he did for us I gain such a stronger feeling of gratitude. I know that He lives and loves us. It is only when we are willing to give up everything for Him that we find Him. He is there and is always reaching out to us, but it is up to us to extend our arm towards Him. George is struggling to give up his belief of polytheism and Bentley is struggling to give up his drug addictions. We all fall short and struggle, but when we choose to follow Him everything in our life changes. We have a mighty change of heart, and our will becomes swallowed up in the will of our Heavenly Father. They both were able to make it to church on Sunday, and seemed to really enjoy it. Every step in the right direction makes it easier to continue. George is a little nervous, but planning to be baptized this Saturday. Our Heavenly Father is working miracles in that family's life right now, and it is so humbling to think that I have had the opportunity to play a small part. Please keep them in your prayers. 

I love y'all so much and am so thankful for you. I hope you know that. I love you and pray for you always. However, there is no other place that I would rather be, than on the Lord's errand. 

Elder Wilson

Monday, May 15, 2017

MAY 15, 2017

Hey y'all, 

It was great talking with you yesterday for Mother's Day. Everyone looks like they are doing just Faaaaantastic!! Nate is still sprouting like a weed haha so that is good, and Mels is looking good with her contact lenses and braces :) I think Mother's day should be everyday of the year that is how special they are. Love you Mom!

Just a quick on this week, but it was a wonderful week! Our Muslim brothers are doing really great and coming right along. We are trying to help them as much as we can before they ship off to the Middle East. I just wanted to share one experience this week:

We were able to meet with George and Bentley this week and read in the Book of Mormon in Alma 7. As we read outside on their porch on the bayou, we could feel the spirit testify so strongly to their hearts. We read about Jesus Christ taking upon himself temptations of EVERY kind, pains, afflictions, in order to know how to succor his people according to our infirmities. It is amazing to see how we have only taught George a few things, but the spirit has taught him sooo much. He was able to answer so many of his older brother Bentley's questions. As we talked about the process of repentance and loosing those chains that hold us down. We all struggle with different things and that is the beautiful part about this life. It is up to us to find the light and the tool that allows us to break those bands. I bear testimony that I know that Jesus Christ is the way, the straight gate, the narrow path, and few there be that find Him. He reaches out to us everyday, but we must extend our arms just a bit to reach Him. He loves us and wants us to come unto Him. It was incredible to hear George extend the invitation for Bentley to be baptized with him. He said he would have to stop smoking first, but that is the great thing about repentance. It is a PROCESS. It starts with small change. I know that is true. Please keep them in your prayers, such a nice family.

Funny part of the story was when George was explaining to Bentley about how we believe in the Godhead being three separate beings, and how they were taught that they are the same. Bentley immediately said, "Yeah George, them being separate makes a whole lot more sense." haha it was awesome! It just all makes sense :)

Love y'all have a great week! Stay low and frosty. 

Elder Wilson

Monday, May 8, 2017

MAY 8, 2017

Hey y'all,

This week was chalk full of miracles! We were a bit nervous since this week was finals week here at LSU, but it ended up being one of the greatest weeks yet :) I feel like I say that every week, but think it is true haha. The mission just gets better and better! As you can imagine the beginning of the week was a bit of a struggle since everyone is cramming for tests, but we were still able to stay busy and help uplift people's spirits with short scripture verses. It was actually really cool sharing quick scriptures with people during passing to help calm those finals' nerves!

One miracle this week was with our investigator Sufyan and Tarif. Both are finishing up this year at LSU and Sufyan is moving back to the middle east for the summer and Tarif is moving to Washington D.C. for an internship. We were able to teach them a couple times this week even with finals which was great and they are still super excited about baptism. Tarif is leaving sooner than Sufyan though so we are getting him in touch with the Washington D.C. missionaries. Boy would I love that referral :) And Sufyan we are hoping to give him the chance to be baptized before he leaves. Pres. Hansen said the Jerusalem area is a great place for new converts so that should be great. Miracle: He was able to make it to church this week and seemed to really love it! We him and Tarif on Saturday with Vernon, one of the recent converts in the ward, and it was awesome hearing Vernon's conversion story since he was just baptized about a year ago. Also, Vernon and all the ward members reached out to him at church, and since Vernon is the same year in school he is going to keep in touch with Sufyan for the fall semester here at LSU. Anyways, the MIRACLE: Sufyan told us that he read the Book of Mormon for five minutes before two of his finals and said that those were the ones that he scored a 99% and 97% on!!!! The church is true y'all! Sometimes when we promise our investigators blessings for reading the B.O.M we are unsure of the outcome and may worry. But why?? It reminds me of when Peter was allowed to walk on water out toward Jesus. He had the faith, but once he feared he fell into the water. This strengthened my testimony in promised blessings. Our Heavenly Father loves all us and WILL bless us for following Him even in small ways.

Miracle: We got a call from the referral center telling us how we were slacking on the one referral that we apparently had. They were very nice about it though so no worries! We never have referrals here and we are specifically the missionaries for the YSA so we must have just overlooked this 55 year old lady that was wanting a Book of Mormon. We decided to go and find her immediately. We made it to her apartment and miraculously she was outside waiting for us. What? I know right! She had been thinking about it all day and was just outside. We taught a great restoration lesson and are excited to hand her off to the other missionaries here in BR. It is amazing how the Lord really guides us in this wonderful work. He prompted the referral center to give us a call :)
On Wednesday we had Mission Leadership Conference. It is always great hearing from Pres. and Sister Hansen and looking for ways to improve. It turned out great too, because it was flood/tornado warnings all day so we were safe and sound :) A lot of the insights were about having members be more involved like having them go and read the B.O.M with investigators. Members are sooo important!!!
Another Miracle this week was on Sunday: We had five investigators make it to church!! Needless to say it was too much for us to handle on our own. Luckily the ward members all came in clutch! We texted many of them before to give them a heads up, but a lot of them just jumped up and helped so much. George came and sat next to his old friend Noah and I sat with him and a guy named Nathaniel. Nathaniel we just recently started teaching and he told us that he knows the church is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet, but he just is too invested in his other church. All about that money.... He seemed to really enjoy the service though so who knows! Elder Teare sat with Sufyan and Vernon in the next row. Then since we have so many ADT summer sales guys here that are RM's from BYU-Idaho they totally helped us fellowship Easa and Joe at church. It was a miracle. Everyone seemed so included and loved.

We also had the awesome opportunity to help out a local BR ward do a day of service. We all met at a local school for autistic kids and helped make it look super good. We repainted all of the wooden posts and benches and just did tons of yard-work. I was able to get the trimmers out and everything. All those summers of yard work came in handy :) straight edge yard-work/post painting haha.

It was an amazing week! I wish I could share everything. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and he loves us. He wants each and everyone of us to know that he is there and cares about us. I am so grateful to be able to share this message. I am excited to skype on Sunday! I can't even believe the time.
Elder Wilson

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MAY 1, 2017

Hey Y'all, 

This week was a little tougher since it was the week before finals, but it was pretty great nonetheless! Although a lot of people were "busy" we worked hard and tried our best. Unfortunately a lot of our investigators are moving back home for the summer, but we have been getting in contact with other missionaries to refer them! Also, a couple of our good buddies in the ward that we have been going teaching with are leaving for their missions soon so that is pretty awesome! Kinda weird though, like a mission within a mission or something haha. I will include a few highlights for the week:

We have been teaching this investigator named Jenna who plays for the Quiditch team here at LSU, yes the Harry Potter sport haha. Apparently they run around with a broomstick between their legs and try and throw the various balls through the hoops. Anyways, funny story is that she came to the lesson with her wrist in a brace and Elder Teare asked if she got hit by a "bludger" like totally joking around since that is what happened to Harry Potter. But sure enough she was like "yeah actually" luckily they didn't do any weird spells on her so her bones are still intact :) haha so funny. She is moving back to Covington for the summer though and so we are going to get her in contact with the missionaries there! We taught her more about the Book of Mormon and the blessings that come from reading it. 

We had an amazing lesson with our investigators George and Bentley. We were able to bring one of their long lost friends from elementary school, Noah Shexnayder, and had an incredible lesson about Alma 32. It was super cool to see everyone participate and it was the first time Bentley had ever sat in with us for a lesson. Bentley was making all sorts of parallels with the natural man and how it is easier to take that route, but when we have faith it pushes us along the harder route which turns out to be way more rewarding in the end when you can pluck the fruit thereof. It was super neat, because Noah hadn't seen Bentley in over 10 years but now he knows of a friend in the ward :) They all went to the Spanish branch here in BR this week since George knows a little bit of Spanish and they do service for his Mom at the Old State Capitol. They are such a great family. 

We even took part in a firefighting miracle this week: We went and knocked on this door and it turned out to be a small family that was in the process of almost burning their house down. They opened the door and smoke just started billowing out like crazy. We ended up helping them get their small little girl out of the house and opened all of the windows. I truly felt like we were sent their for a reason even to just do a small act of service in helping them get out and opening the windows. It is amazing the miracles I am blessed to see on my mission. They were super nice and we had a cool discussion outside about their catholic beliefs. We found out they were cooking fried chicken and the oil started catching fire. It all turned out alright though, Fried Chicken Cajun style I guess haha ;)

I went on an exchange here at LSU on Friday with Elder Winn and had some great success. We were able to find a lot more people to teach here during the summer too. Amidst a few great lessons we were able to meet with Sufyan and Tarif, our Muslim investigators from the middle East. I think Palestine. We had an amazing B.O.M lesson with them using the pictures. We also shared Jesus Christ's visitation to the Americas. They loved it! The miraculous thing though was that they asked us how they can go to the temple. After they had listened to Elder Uchtdorf's talk during conference they have been looking at pictures about all of the temples around the world. They asked if they had to sign up online or something haha :) We told them all about baptism and joining the church later in 3rd Nephi 11. "I want to be baptized so I can go to the temple." the quote of the night. That was one of the most unreal moments I have ever had. The spirit was so strong as we bore testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. They have been reading the B.O.M together and seem to be loving it. They told us that they were going to read the B.O.M five minutes before all of their exams this week, because we promised it would help. Now although I don't remember saying that, the spirit must have whispered that to them and I have faith that it will help :) Unfortunately they are leaving for the summer back to the middle east in just a few weeks, so we are trying to figure out what to do as far as their baptisms.

I know that this gospel is true with all my heart. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to gain a stronger testimony of it everyday as I share it. I love y'all so much and am so thankful for your love and support. 

Elder Wilson