Tuesday, July 18, 2017

JULY 17, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

One more miracle I want to share:

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

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

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

JULY 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

JULY 5, 2017

Hey y'all, 

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

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

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

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

Miracle of the week:

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

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

Elder Wilson

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