Sunday, March 26, 2017

MARCH 20, 2017

Howdy Y'all, 

This week was quite an incredible week! Elder Teare and I are really staying busy and doing our best. It is funny because as we pray for more missionary opportunities, it seems like we are constantly speed walking from appointment to appointment and following up with so many people we have been meeting recently. There is just not enough time. Sometimes I think, "Oh let's just slow down and take a breather," but we find that there is just no time these days! Ain't nobody got time for dat! haha. 
It started out great Monday night when a guy named Samuel from Nigeria reached out and told us he wanted to meet with us. He had been briefly talked to by missionaries in Hungary more than a year ago and it has no sparked an interest. It is so cool how we as missionaries don't really realize how much of an impact we make even by such a small visit with someone or just introducing ourselves to people. Those missionaries in Hungary probably have no idea that he is meeting with us now at LSU. Another reason why we must talk to everyone! We met with him and he told us that he wanted to become enrolled in Institute and "get a certificate" from attending every week. We were like most definitely we can get you a certificate! This week we are going to break the news of maybe a baptismal certificate and possibly priesthood certificate that he can also get :) We taught an awesome restoration lesson with him and he was really invested in it. He told us how he totally thinks there should be a prophet here on the Earth today since he reads about them in the Bible. We were like you know it, let's go! I love Nigerians! He works a ton of hours and has a hard time making it to church because he works the night shift and doesn't get home until 6 a.m, but we are totally going to work with him on it.

We taught a great restoration lesson with this religious studies major guy named Johnathan on Tuesday afternoon and found out that we had given him a card at Free speech alley the week before. We were giving out pass along cards like they were hotcakes right off the griddle so that worked out. We then even got to go to an LSU baseball game at the Alex Box stadium on Tuesday night! A really cool RM named Josh took us right after the lesson and it was such a blast. LSU played a small school, Louisiana college, and totally whooped them bless their hearts, but it was so much fun. What was really cool was that we bought the cheap tickets, but this really nice lady (not a member) that was working there recognized that we were young missionaries and gave us Box Seats right behind home plate :) Those were some pricey seats too, so that was awesome!

This week on Free Speech Alley we had a ton of success! We taught so many people that were super interested in learning more and got several return appointments. Many people just started coming up to us and talking to us so. It was too easy! Probably the most interest I have seen in such a short amount of time. One girl named Madison came over and has been looking for the truth for a long time and I started teaching her a little bit, and then I looked back and Elder Teare was teaching her boyfriend Ben. It was awesome! Ben actually came to church on Sunday and seemed to really enjoy it. Madison overslept her alarm apparently... We are hoping to meet with both of them this week though and get them to both come next week! It was basically a huge tender mercy from the Lord. It was funny though, because I most definitely marked my words of it being too easy, because at the tail end of it group after group of Antioch people on a "mission trip" from Texas A&M came and started being a bit contentious. Apparently there were 250 of them making a trip to LSU to do a 3 day mission trip. I mean bless their hearts I guess :) We would get done explaining stuff to one group of 3 and then another would follow suit. Bible bashing never works, but sometimes it is hard to just dodge the "bullets." It turned out really well though for the most part. What was funny was that we were walking back to drop off our stuff at the Institute building and decided to sit down at a bench and see if we could encounter another group haha it was way too much fun. (Now I know why President Hansen keeps telling us he wants to come back and talk to the Consuming Fire people again :)  Well, sure enough two girls came and started talking to us. It wasn't until a few minutes in that they realized we were missionaries :) It was awesome, because we ended up teaching the entire Restoration lesson and getting both of their phone numbers to give to the Texas A&M missionaries!

I could go all day, but I will just share one more experience this week. Since Friday was St. Patrick's day there were tons of parades and parties here at LSU, as you can imagine. For whatever reason it seemed way too similar to my Mardi Gras experience haha. Let's just say people were partying way too hard even during broad daylight on Saturday. So there is this place called Tigerland right off campus that has tons of bars and clubs and what not. We had an appointment on the other side that we were going to be late for if we didn't go through Tigerland so we had to make the journey. That was ludicrous! I am pretty sure Isaiah, Lehi, and all the other prophets that saw visions of the last days saw a glimpse of Tigerland haha. No worries though, we were holding firmly to the Iron Rod as we were passing multitudes of people yelling, cussing, and entering the great and spacious buildings. It was honestly a huge testimony building experience for me, but so sad to see so many losing their way and wandering in strange roads. Let me depict using words this situation: As we were clinging to the path (iron rod) we heard all manner of profanity and foul language, saw immodest dress and worldly riches, and all manner of wickedness. We even experienced their "attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards us," but we heeded them not. It was a crazy experience that strengthens my testimony of the Book of Mormon and Lehi's dream in chapter 8 of 1st Nephi. 

I love y'all so much and hope you have a blessed week! I know the Church is true with all my heart and that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the Earth. How grateful I am to share it with others.
Elder Wilson

MARCH 13, 2017

Hey y'all, 

My new companion is Elder Teare and he is super awesome. He is from California and apparently loves to soak so it will be pretty classic this transfer haha. We are both determined to go for it though, so the peeps at LSU better watch out :) As we were walking passed the fraternity and sorority housing, which let me tell you is ludicrous (I have never seen that many of them anywhere else. Gotta love LSU! Geaux Tigers!), I thought about starting up a fraternity and calling it Mu Beta's and maybe selling some Hawaiin meats, part time of course :) Am i right?

Anyways, not a whole ton of time today so I will just share a few miracles with ya. WE had a lot of success in finding which was great!

On Wednesday right after transfers, we went over to Free Speech Alley and talked to as many people as we possibly could. We started talking to this guy named Brandon who told us that he had been looking for a church to go to and just feels like he has no idea how he can possibly find out which one is true or not. We shared with him a bit of the restoration about prophets and how Joseph Smith encountered this same problem. He seemed interested in how much he related to the prophet Joseph Smith. 
I find it so fascinating that the young Joseph Smith relates so easily to most everyone that are true seekers. I believe that was part of our Heavenly Father's plan so that ALL could find this restored gospel if they were fervently seeking. We gave him the Restoration pamphlet and then met with him again on Friday morning. The lesson went super well! It was so amazing to see some of the scriptures I had been studying come to mind as we answered his questions. He told us that he had been having such a hard time getting answers to some of his questions, because everyone he ever asked would just tell him not to ask too many questions or it would cause him to doubt his faith. As we used the Book of Mormon to answer many of his questions it made it so much easier to give him a copy of it and invite him to read it as well. We committed him to read Alma 32 and are planning on meeting with him again this week. What was crazy though was that before we had completely finished our lesson with Brandon one of our other investigators that we had also met at Free Speech Alley, Kane, came up to us. It was kinda funny transitioning from one lesson to the other, but it worked out! I don't think I have ever had back to back lessons in that way before :) It was awesome. 
Elder Lopez and I were able to go on an exchange here at LSU and as we were going he mentioned a girl named Heather that he had tried to meet with Elder Jensen last transfer. It was kinda random, but we kinda changed our route and headed to see her. It turned out that she was just getting back from class when we got there and we came at the perfect time. Total inspiration. We taught an amazing lesson with her and found out her Aunt is a member up in Mississippi.  As we were about to give her a Book of Mormon we realized neither of us had one... since I gave two out early that day with Brandon and Kane. What are the odds haha? It was raining hard too, but we told her that we would run home and grab one and bring it right back to her. So we totally ran back in the pouring rain and brought her a Book of Mormon. It was so worth it!! She was so happy to see us come back and was probably surprised how dedicated we were to get her a copy :D We bore our testimonies about how  incredible it is and how we wouldn't have gone to such an extent unless it was something special. It was so cool. That same night we tracted into a girl named Debbie that as soon as we introduced ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ she immediately told us that she hadn't been to church in a long time and wanted to come back! We didn't even say anything about church, we just introduced ourselves. It was super cool.

Everything is going well here at LSU and I am loving the area. I hope y'all have a fantastic week! Stay prayed up! Love y'all
Elder Wilson

Thursday, March 9, 2017

MARCH 7, 2017

Howdy Y'all, 

This week was pretty busy, but we made sure to stay productive and work hard. We had Mission Leadership Conference (MLC) at the mission home on Wednesday and Zone Training Meeting (ZTM) on Friday. MLC was super motivating and I felt like I learned so much. President Hansen gave some great insight when it comes to bashing and finding common ground with our investigators. I think he got that idea from the experience that I will share :) The AP's then instructed on finding those that are prepared and interested in hearing our message and gave the example of Paul and Barnabus in the New Testament when they started teaching the Jews, but once they were rejected by the Jews they turned to the Gentiles that were actually prepared and willing to listen to them. Definitely a key idea here in Louiville. For ZTM Elder Jensen and I were able to give an instruction to all of the missionaries in the zone about finding those that are prepared and ready for our message. We shared how we must find those lost sheep that are just waiting to hear the voice of the Savior rather than trying to find the Prodigal Son investigators that are still on a journey and haven't turned back yet. I think it went really well!

Transfer news: Elder Jensen is getting transferred since he has been here for 6 months and I will be getting a new ZL companion. Not sure who it is yet or any details, but it is going to be crazy taking over the area and I guess "training" a new Zone Leader. It is sad to see Elder Jensen get transferred as we have become such great friends and really started rolling, but I know that it is what is best and that the Lord has a plan for the missionary work in this part of His vineyard. I hope and pray that I will be able to continue furthering the progression of our investigators and help them receive the restored gospel. I know that this is the Lord's work and he loves each and everyone of us. He is giving us the opportunity to take part in His work and for that I will be forever grateful. I pray that I can bring the holy ghost unto the hearts that we teach and allow them the opportunity to accept the wonderful message. 
Here are a few highlights of the week:

Alright so this was a pretty classic story. Since President Hansen had to do our interviews he told us that he would go with us to Free Speech Alley on campus and do our interviews at the Institute building. We all walk over there and find this massive group of pilgrim looking people passing out Satanic Pamphlets saying that Satan is the God of this world and that we are all condemned to Hell. It was intense! They would take turns standing up on this wall yelling repentance and condemnation to everyone and saying how horrible of sinners we all were. They were even ranting from the Bible. Maybe they forgot about the scripture, "He that is without sin, let him first cast a stone at her??" Bless their hearts I guess. It was pretty sad honestly. They were called the Consuming Fire Fellowship and come like every month from Mississippi. They were totally off their rockers, but it was hilarious because President Hansen took on a huge mob of them and was totally destroying them with the Bible haha. Missionaries in the past have encountered them, but it was my first experience :) What was cool though was that everyone that would walk by would thank us for not yelling and cussing at them haha. We even put up on our white board, "God loves you no matter what anybody else says" ;) It was actually pretty great to talk to so many people and I feel like just the fact that we were kind to them will make the biggest difference later on. For some reason I just don't see Jesus Christ yelling about how horrible everyone is. I know that He was kind and so that is what I am going to try and be. It was a very intense experience. They even had big signs that listed off who all is going to Hell and Mormons made the list hehehe you can only laugh about it :) Hence why President Hansen's instruction was on bashing and finding common ground. I think he had way too much fun though haha.

One of the nights last week Elder Jensen and I had the determination to get out and find new people to teach that were truly prepared. As the night became later and later we just didn't seem to be able to find anyone that was even slightly interested. It became almost the time that we had previously planned we would go back, but we still felt like we weren't satisfied in some way. It was the weirdest feeling. Just before we almost turned back we knocked on one of the final doors and met a girl named Hannah. She might have been one of the most interested people we had ever met tracting. She told us that she had gone to many churches, but wasn't ever raised in a church/religion. She started naming off a ton of different churches and her thoughts about each one. Once she finished we asked if she had ever been to an LDS or Mormon church. She excitedly told us that she hadn't ever and that she has always wanted to! We taught her an awesome restoration lesson and she eagerly accepted a follow up appointment. We went back with a member, but unfortunately she wasn't home. It is hard when the students are so busy, but we are going to continue to stop by at different points of the day to teach her again and invite her to church. I feel like she is so prepared. 

We also met with our two most progressing investigators Jackson and Savannah. We had the plan of inviting them to church so we brought a member. I wish I could say that they are just progressing as smooth as butter, but we are running into a few obstacles. Nothing we can't  overcome though! We followed up with their reading in 1st Nephi and found that they are moving along, but Jackson started bringing up questions about the details in the 10th chapter. Basically questioning the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. So, Elder Flores and I (while on exchanges) had the idea of reading Joseph Smith History and his whole story. It went really well and we both bore testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith's first vision and profound question. Camille, the member also bore her testimony about prayer and coming to Church. The spirit was so strong and I know they felt it, but Jackson sadly started bringing up random anti-material.... I couldn't believe it. He is very stuck on secular evidence like DNA of ancient inhabitants and what not so that makes it difficult. We addressed the issue and are going to come back with that gospel essay, but regardless we invited them to church. Jackson declined... and Savannah said she would only go if he did. AHH. Savannah seems so solid and prepared, but the tricky part is going to be with Jackson. Savannah even thanked us afterward for our testimonies and I could tell she felt something that night before Jackson started bringing up his questions. We are going to keep working with them!

Funny story: I had the chance to go on an exchange with Elder Flores one of the Spanish missionaries. He is from Mexico and is super hilarious, because he is still learning English. We were out finding and one of the apartments had a bunch of trash bags that needed to get taken to the dumpster. So we decided to do it and went on a journey to find the dumpster carrying several bags. Well, long story short we were walking everywhere trying to find one and I finally was like, "Elder Flores, where is the garbage, what are we going to do with these bags?" And he was like, "Elder... River." HAHAHAHA as we were walking passed this small stream. It was so funny. The stream actually did have garbage in it, but luckily we finally found the dumpster. We even hit a Taco Truck for dinner :) It was classic.

Overall a great week! Hope all is well for everyone. Thank you so much for your prayers in my behalf. I love y'all a bunch.
Elder Wilson

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Happy Mardi Gras all Y'all! 

I am sad to say that I wasn't able to participate in many of the Mardi Gras festivities this year in Baton Rouge. All of the awesome parades are down in New Orleans and I of course got transferred right before... a little disappointing but it's all good I heard it was quite the ruckus anyways. There are a few parades in Baton Rouge, but all of them seem to be pretty grody and not "family friendly" unfortunately. On Saturday we were out tracting almost all day and ran into quite a few characters. It was pretty crazy all of the people going to and from parades totally out of it haha. We gave the car back on Friday though, so luckily we were on foot and able to stay off those roads. Let's just say some of the Mardi Gras merchandise/throws were pretty nerve wracking at best. One of the rated E for everyone quotes of the day had to have been, "No disrespect fellas, but I am just trying to have a good time with Mardi Gras."-Guy outside drinking Tequila. Haha so classic.  

Anyways, this week was quite a great week! Elder Jensen was starting to get back up to speed, and we did our best while still making sure he didn't exert himself too much. Since the last couple weeks have been all over the place we really focused on finding new promising investigators. We surpassed our goal of new investigators this week even though Elder Jensen was a bit slowed down so that was awesome! It looks like the zone is doing fantastic too so that is always great. 

One of the awesome things about being on LSU is that every Tuesday night we get to go to the Institute class. The Institute teacher is super awesome and is the Institute director for the entire state of Louisiana. I guess he travels all over and tries to have a small class available for young adults. This week the lesson was on finding answers to our prayers through the scriptures and we read in Acts about Paul's ministry. It is a great opportunity for us/and other members to invite investigators and friends as well. Dinner is provided too, so advertising a free dinner always helps :)

Last week on our way out of the hospital one day we ran into these two guys washing windows. They both were interested in learning more about our faith, so I wanted to share our meeting with them this week. Elder Jensen and I met with both of them, Aaron and Charles, at a public diner and learned that they are both out spreading the gospel of repentance after having been imprisoned for a time in their lives. They shared with us their change of heart stories and it was really cool to see how the Lord blesses those that have a desire to change. It is great that they are out sharing that message, but I find it interesting that they ran into us missionaries :) Both of them are pretty hard core baptist ministers and so they definitely hit us with that Bible doctrine, but don't worry we were prepared. Fear No Man. They started out asking us about what it means to be saved by grace and we had a nice discussion about it.  It was cool though, because some of the things we had previously studied that day came to mind and so we were able to share how faith without works is dead, being alone. James 2:17 and ultimately our belief in Jesus Christ's sacrifice being the fundamental origin of saving grace. Not too sure how well it went, but Aaron said he would start reading the B.O.M!

We were also able to meet with the two of our most progressing investigators Jackson and Savannah again this week. We first asked how their reading went and found out that they had read 1st Nephi 1 and 2 together and enjoyed it.  Savannah converted to Christianity at age 14 and undeniably believes that God is there and loves us. Jackson is almost the complete opposite, so him bringing her into the picture has really helped so much! As far as Jackson's praying is going he still doesn't quite feel he has received an answer. We shared a talk/Mormon message by Elder David A. Bednar called Patterns of Light, and he talked about how revelation can be identified in a few different ways. The examples he used were: a light switch, a sunrise, and a foggy day. Savannah told us how she related a lot to the sunrise analogy, and how she gradually came to believe in a God over the things that were occurring in her life. It was super cool, because it felt almost like we had a member present even though Savannah is totally not a member. Jackson seemed to understand the analogy of the foggy day where he may only be able to see one step in front of him right now, but he just has to keep moving forward. We soft committed them to baptism if they come to know if it is true, and they totally said yes! It was awesome and we are really excited to keep meeting with them. Unfortunately they were out of town for Mardi Gras weekend, but hopefully we can invite them to Church this next Sunday!

Overall another fantastic week! I love y'all and hope everyone is doing well. Have a blessed one!
Elder Wilson