Monday, June 26, 2017

JUNE 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Wilson

Monday, June 19, 2017

JUNE 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

JUNE 12, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

I wanted to share a few miracles this week:

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

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

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

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

Elder Wilson

Monday, June 5, 2017

JUNE 5, 2017

Hola Como Estan!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Wilson

Friday, June 2, 2017

JUNE 1, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

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