Monday, June 20, 2016

I Hope They Call Me On a Mission (June 20,2016)

Well, this is it.

I have been so blessed in these two years that I can't really find the words to express it all. I will be forever grateful for what my Heavenly Father has done for me during my service. As I think back after all this time, I'm glad to say that they truly have been the best two years of my life. I have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost every single day, and I feel like I've been lovingly guided and moved from day to day and experience to experience by Heavenly Father, and I testify that I have seen the hand of the Lord in every aspect of my missionary service.  I will never forget what he did for me in Paraguay. The people I've met and the lives that have changed... it's a true blessing. I feel so small in the hands of the Lord, but I find peace in that I was able to be a servant in the Lord's vineyard. I'm humbled to say that I've found a true friend and brother in the arms of Jesus Christ. I'm so happy for my own brother, Ethan, as he starts his mission in Colombia as well. My hope for him is that he can experience a mighty change of heart like I have, and to let himself be guided and humbled by his service. Two years are two years, and making the most of it is a day by day sort of test. I thank all of you for writing me during the mission, and I love you all. I am especially grateful for my parents, and their dedication and love. What an amazing two years. Filled with crazy times and fun people, I did the math, and I've taught more than 1,500 lessons in my mission, with about 800 copies of the Book of Mormon gifted. That's not to boast or anything, but purely just like... wow if only I had given out so many before the mission to my friends! This time in my life has been so important to me in a deeply personal way. I hope that I can always live in a way that I can remember and testify that I loved my mission!

This is the Lord's work. I testify that God is real and loves us. I know that the Lord changes lives, and that he cares about every single one of his children. He knows us and guides our steps. He has protected me in danger and blessed my with the spirit. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. I have received an undeniable testimony of him, and our modern Prophet Thomas S. Monson. I appreciate them more than I ever have before. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I left almost every day with one in my hands, and the power that you feel is very different and very, very satisfying. It's a perfect volume of scripture written just for you. I love it. I could testify of every line of doctrine that I know, but above all I testify of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us. What a supreme act of charity. I leave these things with you, my friends and family, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Elder Wilson

Last trip to the temple

Monday, June 13, 2016

Please, Lettuce end well - June 13th, 2016

In my two years serving as a missionary here in Paraguay, this has been the coldest week to date. We got down to almost freezing temperatures. It`s funny to see how the people react here, and it was so cold that they cancelled the classes after sacrament meeting. We had an attendance of about 20 people here in our humble little branch. It was also the anniversary of Caaguazu, so there was a parade and everybody went. f-f-f-freeezing outside, really.

As far as work goes, however, this was a great week. We have a new ``talk with everyone`` initiative in the mission, which is not a struggle as far as yours truly is concerned, which was super cool to start putting into practice. Essentially it`s what I did at the start of my mission and in the mtc where we tally up the number of people that we talk to, not counting members or current investigators. My companion and I contacted up a storm, which was super cool. We brought out members and got them involved, and it turned out to be a great experience for us and them. One member in particular, Rodrigo Gallardo, who is an ex-missionary who served in Peru, has been helping us out a lot as well. We had the chance to go plant lettuce with him for a service activity as well. Another check on the list of weird things I`ve done here in Paraguay. Planting lettuce is actually fairly lucrative here in Caaguazu, because the market isn`t too oversaturated. Not like being a pro soccer player or a lawyer.  He said that people used to make fun of him at church for planting lettuce but when he rakes in the dough he doesn`t really care that much about what they say. Pretty funny, and actually pretty calming to carefully place tiny little roots in the ground and stuff. Any chance to serve is good enough for me.

Really I`m having a great time feeling the spirit of the work and trying my best to end well. It`s great because I don`t feel stressed about ending well, because I can say with assurity that I`m so much further along in my progress than I was when I started. That`s enough for me. Content doesn`t even begin to express the way I feel about these two years. There were ups and downs, but... I don`t really recall putting much of that in these emails, haha.  I`ve been blessed, and I`ve seen blessings here and in your lives through the emails, and I still feel like I`m a new missionary.

Well, except for when I look at my socks. Geez I don`t even know why I put them on anymore. They`re destroyed, haha!


Elder Wilson

(No Subject) - June 6th

The Lord continues providing spiritual and touching experiences for me at this point in my mission, and I`m so grateful for his love and mercy on me. Honestly my service as a missionary has been such a growth to me personally, and the chance to bless the lives of others and humble myself has been wonderful. I think that humility is the fist spark of the fire of charity. To love others I have to really think inside and bring myself to their level and consider their side of things. At times I struggle with that and as I learn from the good examples in my life (especially the Savior, and the Prophet Joseph Smith), I`m touched to see hearts softened and doors opened. Through any sort of struggle or tough experience, admitting that God knows more than us is sometimes hard considering that as young men we`re invincible and know everything. Just kidding, but between 20 year old missionaries,  it`s a task to think how to bless them instead of how much more blessed we are than them. Humility is an aspect of life that needs to be developed with care to be felt, and worked on every single day. That doesn`t mean anyone is perfect or that we can`t feel certain ways at times, but I know that if we make a constant effort not to be arrogant or proud, we will see miracles. It`s respecting the Lord and admitting you`re wrong when you know you are. Just a few thoughts and things that I know have helped me and other missionaries, along with investigators.

I`ve had many opportunities to provide Priesthood blessings on my mission, as I have written many times, and I am once again humbled to have the chance to bless others. Our paralytic investigator Marcelo asked for a blessing, and to be able to put my hands on his head with my companion and bless him, along with others, was another touching spiritual experience. Sometimes it`s hard to know what the Lord is thinking when we give a blessing, but trusting in him that the will of the Lord is more important than the words spoken or the sickness felt is what shows our humility and trust in Him. Now, Marcelo didn`t jump out of his bed and run around like the Grandpa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but he was grateful for the blessing, and I was glad to help. He asked for the blessing, but he expressed some of his resentment toward the Lord (in a roundabout way) and a sort of "why me" attitude about the sickness, but I know as we keep teaching, and as he humbles himself, the blessings of Heaven can be poured out upon him. 

Another testimony I can give is about work. Work work work work work. When you work for the Lord, you feel good. That good feeling brings good results, inside or out. When you`re lazy, you feel bad, and that bad feeling brings bad results, inside and out. We`ve been teaching using a small whiteboard to help us out. I can draw stuff pretty fast, so we bring it to lessons to help people understand  the gospel. The education in Paraguay isn`t exactly tier one, so using pictures and objects to teach is effective and spiritual. When the spirit indicates and when ideas pop into our heads, my companion and I get that baby out and teach. It has been working pretty well, and while it hasn`t overtaken our teaching completely, and we use it with moderation, it`s something I always thought about doing but never tried. Teaching about dispensations, baptism, and prayer is made about 100% easier and more effective. Just thought that it was pretty cool and the whiteboard only cost like 3 dollars. 

Also everybody makes fun of me about how I`m almost done. The branch president`s wife was bearing her testimony about her daughter leaving on her mission, and says "and all things come to an end, like with Elder Wilson... the end is coming for his mission." She was not the only one to mention it. I also gave a testimony, and was touched by the spirit I felt in the meeting. Christian gave his testimony "I know that God exists, and I know that the Book of Mormon exists, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen." Carlos Chavez also gave his testimony about how everyone alienates them because they`re members now, but that one night this week he knelt down to ask if all this was worth it, and his answer was that he`s winning something a lot bigger in losing friends and other worldly things. I agree.


Elder Wilson

"You're my best friend!" - May 30th, 2016

of Christian David Alfonso Chaparro

I'm not sure if these already got sent, but I'll try one more time. This time I actually got to use normal baptismal clothes as well. What a blessing.

So this week we had another wonderful Baptism, of Christian Alfonso. His (adoptive) parents are members, but they've been active for years and have two daughters in the mission field. Technically not his actual parents, and local/mission leaders let us know that it fell under our jurisdiction to teach him and baptize him, which was our pleasure, of course. Christian is the best. Really it's like a kindred spirit type deal. He's talks a ton, and looooves movies. He loves quoting movies and acting out parts of movies and making up his own stuff, and he knows a lot of things about a lot of things. He acted out a portion of "Home Alone" for us in the middle of a lesson. I asked him about Joseph Smith and he gave a very detailed version of the first vision, quoting "this is my beloved son, hear him!" at the end. He asked me to baptize him a few weeks ago. The parents say that he relates to me a lot, and that he considers me a good friend. So I baptized him, and after he got out of the font, he gave me a jumping surprise hug and said "Elder Wilson, you're my best friend!". The hardest part about teaching him was getting him to sit still! Love that little guy! After the ordinance I felt a strong spirit confirming to me that what had happened was a saving ordinance for someone worthy to receive his baptismal covenants. In little children we often forget that they're making one of the best decisions of their lives in entering the waters of baptism. He shared his testimony which included this:
 "When I was 4 I always told my family that I wanted to get baptized. They told me I had to wait until I was 8, and now the day has finally come."
According to his family, he's talked about getting baptized since he was really little, and after his baptism he said "now I want to be a missionary!" 

It's a little blurry, but we took it in the rain

Other than that, we had a week of service activities with a bit of walking. Elder Franchini and I went to help an investigator to move houses. That was fun, especially sitting precariously above a few closets and couches on top of a flatbed truck in the rain. I thought the stove was going to fall over and kill me! 

I'll end with a funny story about my recent convert Yesica (of the Chavez family). So she gave out a Book of Mormon this week to one of her friends at school, who accepted it con mucho gusto. While they were talking, another friend came over to make fun of them, and tell them how Mormons don't believe in the Virgin Mary, and how the Book of Mormon is the gold bible of Joseph Smith, and other weird things that the people usually say to make fun of members. Then others joined in and started making fun of her, and she said, "Okay, okay, make fun of me all you want, and it's okay that you want to stay in your religion, but if you could please just explain to me what you know about the atonement of Jesus Christ."
She told us that after that everybody left her alone.
I'm happy for their progress as a family, and always remember to have the courage to help others to find the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I would still suggest doing it after class!

Elder Wilson

My companion walking

Weekly planning
 on splits

20/20 - May 23rd, 2016

Baptism of: 
Yanina Sanchez
May 20th, 2016

 Baptism in the rain.

A picture of Yanina and the member that baptized her, Diego.

Not sure if this is a better picture of us at the baptism.

I put those baptismal headings there so they'll be easy to find afterwards. Also because we had a baptism on my birthday this year! Yanina is a 12 year old girl that we've been working with for a while now. She's gone to church for a good bit now (like right after I got to this area), and has a really strong testimony. The Elder that interviewed her said that he's never seen someone her age so excited to be baptized. She's had some strong spiritual experiences as an investigator and is prepping to go to the temple with the branch in July. She has a lot of friends here in the branch as well, and attends seminary every week. We're all proud of her and excited to see how she progresses as the newest member of the branch!

Someone would have taken the photo, but we had to use the timer because everybody just wanted to eat

I had a fun birthday bash here in the apartment with the other Elders, as well. We ate some food, and picked up a delicous cake. I'll see if I can send some pictures. It was nice, and a fun experience. Went and found some really cool new investigators, and taught a few families. A pretty standard day apart from the baptism. 
On my birthday we also got a surprise birthday visit from the mission president after the baptismal service. We were cleaning up afterwards an I just hear some familiar voices and... it's President and his AP's! They didn't come for my birthday, lastimosamente, but they did come to do some interviews on Saturday. They revised our area book and talked about the branch. My interview with President was great, and we talked a little bit about the atonement and how my mission is coming to a close. I was able to express just how happy I really am and how things are going, and it was a very nice, chill conversation. He's a great President who had some useful tips and we shared a good spiritual moment there. One thing that I always notice is how he pauses for just a short moment after prayer. Always, always, always. Something to think about. It's always good to make sure that our prayers are meaningful and serve a purpose!

Earlier in the week we had Zone Training, and the Zone Leaders picked me and the other District Leader, Elder Leavitt from Colorado, to present about an hour of the meeting. We talked about the importance of the Area book, which is great because after revising our own area book, it's looking pretty good. We had some good tips that surely helped out when President came for the interviews in the apartments. 
So, in other words, a great week!


Elder Wilson