Monday, October 9, 2017

OCTOBER 9, 2017

Hey y'all,

This last week was pretty great!! It was nice to be able to get back into the swing of things for the most part, although with the Hurricane hitting New Orleans and having to evacuate tons of missionaries it still ended up being a little hectic. Luckily it was a small hurricane and there didn't seem to be too much flooding. Also, our mission is adding 6 more areas from the Slidell stake/from the Mississippi Mission this week so that is exciting!!

Miracle: On Saturday there were many missionaries having to stay in Baton Rouge because of the Hurricane, so that meant a lot of exchanges and working our area like crazy. I learned a very important lesson that day. I was able to go out teaching in a trio with two new missionaries the whole day and learned so much. We gave everything we could possibly muster. From 10 a.m to 9 p.m with a short lunch break we worked our tails off. We talked with so many people and taught many great lessons, however, for some reason after the long day I didn't seem too satisfied. I felt like the Lord kept prompting us to go to places that were full of rejection. It was almost like we were going to the complete opposite places that we were supposed to be going. The lessons we taught were to older people that seemed pretty comfortable and stuck in their catholic/Methodist ways. So by the end of the night, I personally didn't quite think it was the greatest of days. It was when we got back that night though when Elder Mechling (one of the missionaries that got here last Wednesday) thanked me for the day of work and said, "This has been the greatest and most productive day of my whole mission so far." It had been his first week, and I could tell that he had been struggling. Finally the lesson hit me, I realized that even though I may not have seen the "success" that I may have liked or was looking for, it was actually the fact that he had had the greatest day of his mission so far. He finally felt like he had taught lessons and found people to teach. I realized that we had done everything we possibly could and given everything to the Lord. I realized that it wasn't about me. This was the Lord's work and he was going to teach me something while blessing one of his new missionaries. I realized that we had seen miracles, including stopping at a local gas station to use the bathroom, only to find one of his lost sheep that has a daughter that is a member in Provo. I could share more of the miracles that we saw, but the most eye opening miracle to me was this experience of working our very hardest and maybe not seeing the immediate fruits.

I wanted to share a spiritual thought from general conference: The talk given by President Russel M. Nelson stuck out to me a lot. He asked 3 very profound questions. One was, "What would your life be like without the Book of Mormon?" I have been thinking a lot about this question. The B.O.M means everything to me. From being on my mission and seeing so many people without this knowledge I have truly realized how lost I would be without it. I would struggle to know if my Heavenly Father really does love me, or even if there is a God above. I would be so confused, and honestly so frustrated due to the countless interpretations of the Bible even though it is, "the perfect word of God and all we need to be saved," as many say. I think I would come to despise religion and religious practices as many do here, not because I wouldn't believe in a God above, but because I would be irritated that he would leave us all wandering around clueless to the true plan of salvation. I wouldn't truly know that there is a Savior that suffered and died for me and that He loves me. Why? Because without the Book of Mormon all Jesus Christ is known to be is a man that lived in the middle eastern countries working "magic tricks" or so called miracles, as people say, thousands of years ago, and we find this in a book known as the "word of God" yet it has been translated numerous times by scholars. Rather, the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ and the reality of his life. It also confirms the truth and testimony of the Bible. Although both of these things are imperative, it gives me the opportunity to come to know Jesus Christ as my brother and redeemer, that He is the savior of the entire world, and that he visited all of his sheep. It allows me to gain a relationship with my Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ, because it is true. Alma 5:45-46 is how I know that it is true. It has brought me so much peace and happiness in my life that I will be forever indebted to my Heavenly Father for. I am so grateful to share this with everyone. 

Yesterday Sheryl got a calling in church!! She has been called to the calling with many of the most humble, loving, and righteous people I have ever known. A primary teacher :)  just like my Mama, I love you Mom! She was so happy, and I am so thrilled for her. 

 I was also able to go on a little church swap for a little bit to the LSU/  YSA ward to introduce the members to one of the guys we have been teaching, DeMarcus. He is 22 and such a stud! That was awesome seeing everyone there again and getting DeMarcus transitioned over there.

Well, I sure do love the work here. I hope y'all are doing great! Stay prayed up. 
Love, 
Elder Wilson

Thursday, October 5, 2017

OCTOBER 5, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was truly filled with miracles. I wish I could share everything, but yet again there is just no time. This week was transfers in the mission and so that put us to work for several days ripping and running making sure everything goes smoothly, as well as getting the new missionaries/sending off the ones heading home. I know I have shared this before, but the greatest part is definitely picking up the new missionaries from the airport. Every time I am reminded of the mental nervousness/excitement of embarking on a 2 year journey, baby stepping off the plane, clenching the hand rail of the escalator, and hitting the Louisiana humidity. All of which just hit ya like a hotcake in their own ways. However, I was glad to be there to hopefully lessen the anxiety, and crack a smile by making a fool out of myself.... again :) "There goes Chris again." It's all good I only got a few weird looks haha. Some of the new missionaries started asking about the alligators and let's just say everyone was clueless/nervous, one of the two, when I mentioned Gatorade. Bless mine and their hearts. I am always so grateful to share my testimony with them though, because it gives me the chance to look back at the amazing moments I have been blessed to experience so far on my mission, and hopefully excite them about their missions.

I hope y'all loved general conference as much as I did! I am always so inspired by the messages shared and feel like all of them were directed right for me. It is so amazing to receive answers to questions every single time as well. I wanted to share a miracle from the week that ties completely in with one of the talks given. I was reminded of the talk given by Sister Oscarson called "The needs before us." One thing she said was,"Ask your Heavenly Father to show you those around you who need your help and to inspire you on how to best serve them. Remember that the Savior most often ministered to one person at a time." About 2 weeks ago, Elder Hoopes and I were out contacting in a neighborhood and found a father and a son out shooting baskets. We decided to reach out to them and start shooting and introducing ourselves. Insert parable of the talents :) Well, for the sake of time we introduced ourselves to the mother and found out they have 5 kids. All 5 of them rushed out and we started handing out  pictures of Jesus. We then scheduled a time to sit down and have a lesson with their family. The day came, and this family is amazing! The mother, Toy, told us that she was physically stopped when we came to the door and felt impressed to let us tell her who we were. She and the father, Barry, then told us that they had been praying for a blessing from God to show them what to do for their family. That was amazing in and of itself. Before we had even met them the first time, Toy, had already ordered a Book of Mormon and got off work early just to be there for the lesson. So awesome!!! We have met with them a few times now and every single time they have all 5 of their kids sitting down at the dinner table and they are all so intent on the lesson. Well, to go back to this talk given, we had been praying about ward members that could help fellowship this family and felt inspired to ask this incredible single mother to "help us," Jacenta. She excitedly said yes, and we were so happy because so many people fell through. At the lesson she bore a powerful testimony of how she was praying that morning for "the opportunity to help someone that day." She then received a text from the missionaries :) The lesson was amazing and the family accepted a baptismal date for October 28th all together. All of the kids haven't been baptized before and many of them sincerely asked their parents why, only to receive the answer of a sorry mother and father finally understanding why they had to wait until now. I testify of the power of prayer and that Heavenly Father truly does put us in the positions to serve others, if we let him. But how much more the blessings for it? The Thomas family is so special and it has been amazing teaching them the restored gospel.

The other family that lives on Meredith street was able to watch the Sunday afternoon session and loved the talk given by Tad R. Callister defending the Book of Mormon. I was so uplifted by that talk and many others. Well, I will write more next week and share a few of my thoughts about general conference. I sure do love y'all and am so grateful for each of you in my life. The Lord is blessing us greatly and I just can't adequately express my love for the Savior Jesus Christ and his work here in Louisiana. The people are so different, but I love them. 

Love, 
Elder Wilson

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017

Hey y'all

Where do I even start. This week was such an amazing week filled with miracles and blessings.

On Monday night we went to a part members/less active family's home for FHE and had a lesson on the Book of Mormon and doing everything in our power to find out for ourselves if it is true. Marcus is married to a non-member and unfortunately been struggling with his faith, and his brother James is 22 and has been less active as well. Both haven't come to church for over a year now and so we have been really trying to help them. It was cool too, because James invited his friend Milan to the lesson and rumor has it she made it to church yesterday in Houston! We introduced Milan to the B.O.M briefly and then started sharing Alma 22 about giving everything to the Lord. The spirit was so strong especially as James started bearing his testimony. (again, he hasn't been active for at least a year) Everyone committed, but sadly Brikea (Marcus' wife) just doesn't seem ready yet. Regardless, we truly felt the spirit touched everyone there and everyone committed to finding out the truth.  On Saturday we picked up James in the morning and went out teaching with him! We ended up finding this really cool guy named Mark and taught him the restoration and James invited him out to church!!! Wait, what? we were shocked, because we have been inviting James to come to church with us for a couple months now, and here he is inviting an investigator to come with him! Long story short, James went over Sunday morning to pick up Mark but unfortunately Mark had to head off to work, but James AND Marcus both came to church together!!!!! :D It was soo good to see them there, and the Stake President even reached out to them and expressed his love to see them there. That was a miracle for sure. 

Yesterday morning we went with an inactive member Robin (she is the daughter of the Porter's/the elderly couple we bring the sacrament) to her church and it was a full on Southern Baptist church, like as good as it gets! It was quite the experience let me tell ya. Also, the interesting thing is that Robin stopped going to the LDS church when she was like 20 because of a few things possibly including marrying a baptist husband and social barriers based on race/ethnicity that were prevalent back in the day. Anyways, we think it meant a lot to her, because we had part of that same experience yesterday at the baptist church, but absolutely had a great time!! Let's just say I have never heard more sincere prayers being completely yelled and screamed out loud haha. I will share a few highlights: They had a full size band with the big ol drum set, electric guitar, electric keyboard, massive background choir singing praises, the whole works. Just about anything you can think of haha :) It was pretty funny and hard to keep a straight face at times hearing, "Yes, lord! HMMM. That's it. Yes Lord that's it!! Give it to me Jesus. Come on now! Literally after every phrase the pastor said :D And yes, the pastors all over Louisiana use the same style: Beginning with their nose in da book, starting low and slow, and then moving higher, and then catching on fire/yelling by the end of the sermon haha. The pastor was getting blue in the face by the end of that haha bless his heart. Also, it isn't a good sermon without mentioning Washington D.C/politics and how our leaders overlook the scripture, "As I have loved you, love one another." As well as bitter feelings from North Baton Rouge to South Baton Rouge. Not sure what is going on there haha, but bless everyone's hearts! The QUOTE OF THE MORNING had to have been the pastor yelling, "Open up your pocket books... AND Share the Loove!!" and then of course quoting a bible scripture. I hope I don't sound like I am belittling them at all though. I absolutely loved it for the experience and the people were seriously some of the nicest people I have met. They were super kind and friendly. Like they even had us stand as they introduced us and shared what church we were from :) Just great people. We even got stopped like 5 times on our way out from people. That whole congregation is getting dunked sooner than later, just wait haha! We then made it back for our ward and it was a stark difference. I sure enjoyed the service, but I don't know how they feel the spirit with all the yelling and rock band-ing going on. I was grateful for the refreshing spirit dunk at sacrament meeting :D 
Later in the afternoon we brought the sacrament over to the Porters and Robin sat in for the entire lesson this time! She usually leaves the room so that was awesome. I think we are starting to break down those walls. Also, after a few minutes Robin answers her phone and it was Bria. She told her "Yeah, the Elders are still here." Let's goo!  Robin's daughter Bria came back from work and was excited to meet with us again. Everyone shared their miracles/tender mercies from the week and then we talked with Bria about the YSA activities over on LSU. She seemed super interested in going, like she was just waiting for an invitation. One of her co workers is a member and goes to all the LSU YSA activities too so she is going to invite Bria for tonight. 


At church Liz came and is doing really well! Unfortunately her boyfriend Bret is going out of town the whole month of October, so we are planning for her baptism in the beginning of November. She said she is grateful for the extra time to just keep learning though, so I guess that is good. We tried sitting by Sheryl at church, but it looks like she has made other friends and everyone wants to sit by her :) We then asked her about general conference and she continued telling us all of the members that have invited her over to their house for the sessions. That sure made us smile! No one invites us over to watch general conference, but they sure invite Sheryl :) Jk, we are in good hands!

We attended the Baton Rouge and New Orleans zone conferences and that was yet another opportunity to strengthen my testimony of being representatives of Jesus Christ out here sharing the fullness of his gospel. The greatest miracle I will have experienced on my mission is the opportunity to draw closer to my savior and feeling of his love. He helps me every single day and I know this is his work. I couldn't do it without Him. I then went on exchanges down in New Orleans with one of the Spanish zone leaders and that was neat. It is interesting how things I once studied and learned just flooded right back from the spirit, and I was somehow able to understand a lot of the Spanish lessons/ members. Anyways, things are going super well, and we are really working hard. There are so many things I would love to share, but no time and y'all are probably tired of reading at this point haha.  Well, I hope everyone enjoys General Conference this week. I am really excited about it! 

Love, 
Elder Wilson

Thursday, September 14, 2017

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, 
Elder Wilson

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

SEPTEMBER 5, 2017

Alright!!

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Elder Wilson

AUGUST 28, 2017

Hey y'all, 

This week was filled with miracles, it was incredible! 

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

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

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

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

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

Love, 
Elder Wilson

AUGUST 24, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

Love, 
Elder Wilson

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

AUGUST 14, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, 
Elder Wilson

AUGUST 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

JULY 31, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Elder Wilson

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. 
Love, 
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! 
Love,
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!
Love, 
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. 

Love, 
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!

Love, 
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! 
Love, 
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!

Love, 
Elder Wilson