Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A White Christmas-- December 30, 2013

Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Merry Christmas everybody! I hope it was as exciting for you all as it was for me!

Getting to call and talk to my family was a lot of fun. Some people said it made them more homesick, but not me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. Even when I got to see Jessie and Eric on Thanksgiving I didn't feel homesick! It just made me more pumped to do the work! There's nothing quite like the feeling of waking up every morning knowing you are exactly where you should be, doing exactly what you should be doing. Well there's always room for improvement in that area, but you know what I mean.

You're probably wondering why the subject is "A White Christmas", well, allow me to explain: President Morby had us set this goal to have 1 baptism per companionship for this Month (December), for Christmas, the white is referring to the baptismal clothes, don't get all worked up hahaha, there was no snow here... So, guess what? I mentioned last week that our one baptism fell through, so I was a bit sad that I didn't think I was going to meet the goal, but, this past Saturday (12/28/13) two of our investigators were baptized. It was so awesome! Nolan, who we have been teaching for just a few weeks and Jeanne, who has been taught for a little (months) longer. We had one of the Priests who knows Nolan the best to baptize him. Nolan is a pretty stocky guy, shorter than me, but pretty beefy. Dylan, the priest who baptized him is taller than me, but super skinny. It was Dylan's first baptism, and I don't know what was going through the bishops head, but the Bishop said because of Nolan's size, Dylan would have to throw him down into the water. Well, Nolan didn't bend his knees, and as a result, both of them almost ended up being baptized haha, it was pretty funny, but despite all the comedic value to it, I got to ask Nolan how he felt, and he responded that he felt interesting. I think it was one of his first times feeling the spirit, and that's a very good word for it. He's not the type of guy to just get all sappy and describe the happy, peaceful feeling, because that would probably be unusual for him. So, Dylan baptized Nolan, and I baptized Jeanne, but because of Jeanne's frail state, Elder Peterson was in the font too, and helped lower and raise her in an orderly fashion. Elder Peterson and his previous companion had done that when they baptized her 88 year old husband back in September, and we didn't want to take any chances. When Jeanne came into the water, she really didn't know much about what was going to happen. She didn't have any questions before hand, because she watched her husbands, but she was pretty scared, she said she "felt like she was going to fall over" Which is what we were there for lol. It was pretty interesting. But it went well! All in all it was a great day. Even Nolan's dad is was there! And that was a miracle! I'll get more into as I go through the week though, but it was such a special experience, and on Sunday, when they were coming to be confirmed in Sacrament meeting, neither showed up... Lol, we almost panicked, because they weren't there before the sacrament, but of course haha, right after they finished that, they both walk in from opposite sides of the chapel. So, Bishop just carried on like that was what was supposed to happen. He confirmed Jeanne, and then Nolan came up, and guess who was asked last minute (ish, maybe last hour) to confirm Nolan? Yup, yours truly :) I had never done it before, save what is done in the Temple for those who have passed on, and sure, that's easy, but I was stressing for some reason, but you know what? If your heart is in the right place, the Lord really does guide the blessing! I just go until I stop "receiving" things when my mind goes blank essentially. It was really cool! The only unfortunate thing was though, is I'm not sure if you are familiar with my prayer voice... There just seems to be something that when I bow my head and take that first breath to pray, my voice shoots down. It was kinda embarrassing actually, because of how low it went, but I think it hopefully added to the feeling in the room. Oh well, it went smoothly, and he was fine! :)

Alright, now, to travel back in time!! In my phone call I mentioned the talent show, and how we sang "You're a mean one, Elder Grinch" and it went OK.... it was a bit disappointing though, because I was going to do the first line down and octave to show off a bit, stop singing, and turn to my companion and say "Whoops, too low" and I had it too! While I was sitting down and walking around I could do it. But as we prepare to get on stage, i realized the number we were going after was Joseph Smith's First prayer... Oh man.... we were going to kill the emotion in the air, so of course we both freak out, and this cough of mine becomes very apparent -- doesn't matter, either way, I lost my range, and almost everything. Somebody filmed it though, and I have a copy of the footage. It works well on the camera, but our test on the Carstens computer was not so good, so I will send it, and you will have to tell me if it works or not. I don't have the lyrics with me, but it was a miracle I could even sing it hahaha, oh well, hopefully you enjoy it!

Christmas Eve was truly great! We got to play basketball with some people who haven't been to church in a long time, and we went to the Hopper's for Dinner! And they gave us presents!!! Not just any presents either! We had made a joke a couple months back about a guy who had these sick lights on his spokes on his bike. And said how cool it was and that that was "what missionaries want" lol, and they got us some! No way! It turns out the Carstens heard that too, and so Christmas morning we got even more. Poor Elder Peterson though, as fate would have it, all of his lights are different colors, mine are all blue, so I look like I'm on a tron light cycle when I'm going fast at night. Booyah Grandma! Anyways, two of the kids shared these stories, and one of them just got back from his mission in Brazil, so that was cool to hear about that, and they read their son's Christmas email (their other son comes back in a few months). It was great! We took pictures! But, I didn't have my camera, so I will have to steal Elder Peterson's lol. I haven't emailed pictures in a long time, so sorry for the flood that will come haha.

We also went to "Dinner" that same night at the house of one of our Investigators who celebrates Christmas the day before (It's a Mexican thing), but, he is Muslim, so he doesn't even celebrate Christmas? Idk, it was weird, but it was really fun to be with them, they insisted we try some of this food his wife prepared, it was really good, strange, but good.

But best of all on that day, was I got to Open Santa Mouse and the Ratdeer, and yes, I got to read it to the Carsten's, Elder Peterson, and PJ! I'll email that too! It was pretty great :) Not as funny as Dad's, and my voice is a little congested, but it has it's moments :)

Alright, Christmas Day! Woop woop! It was the first time I had EVER opened presents that early. My goodness, it was barely 7 a.m. sheesh! I'm never doing that with my kids, I think Mom and Dad did it right, the "cage em up til we say so" hahahaha, those were the good ole days :)

Well, I was very pleasantly surprised with what I got. I didn't see any of them coming. Like really, I had different Ideas for everything, it was all so unexpected, so my IQ must have dropped significantly since I came out here. I got a lot of super cool things! I now must get good at juggling, and I got this paddle ball thing too, but I have never used one of this nature, and it is hard, so when I find myself laying awake at night ;) I also got a tee-shirt which is a super cool color! Reminds me of Braden actually :) I have a picture of most everything too. But I got a Tie the next day, and some other things that didn't make it into the picture, but oh boy, what a good day! I hadn't expected to get anything! :) I even got Christmas ornaments that had Ties and nametags on them AAHHH!!!! And some super sweet pillow cases, one that I had made myself, but left back home, and I was super stoked to get it yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss, and President Morby gave me another one that has the mission name on it, but then I got this super cool one that I put on my pillow almost immediately after I got it. It's white, and requires another pillow case to complete the picture. Cool huh? Well, by far my favorite pillow case, ask Rebekah if you want more details on it ;) Did not expect any of the pillow cases, but how practical?? Getting gifts as a missionary is weird, everything has a use! Well, you'll hopefully see the rest in the picture, but thank you Mom, Rebekah, Cutler and Sister Johnson, and Sister Johnson, thanks for putting "do not open until Dec 25th" on everything, because I didn't see it on the package, but figured I should at least read your letter, which said it again, but the envelope to your letter said it again.... so, 3 times is the charm, and I didn't open any of it til later :) What great gifts though! Oh man, Made me super happy! Peterson also loves the scarf mom sent him, and laughed at my purple one, but who cares, I like purple, I'm even wearing my purple tie right now! I also got these super cool socks too! AAAND, a new CD to listen too! The Men of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! It's a sick CD, already listened to it like 3 times through haha. As you'll see in the picture, I also got a ton of snowflakes, and I have actually hung them up around the room. ALL OF THEM. I'll send a picture of my favorite one though. It was hard to decide, especially because my mind exploded at all of them, especially the small ones, so I had to decide that the small ones don't count in my decision, because they are waaaaaaaay too cool. You'll also see some khacki pants my mom sent me. Wow, they fit great and looked pretty snazzy too ;) lol, I was definitely very very very spoiled as a missionary, but don't worry, I'm trying not to let it go to my head....

Juggling is definitely going to be the most frustrating thing.... I spent forever trying to learn that day.... nothing.... but, I have not, and will not give up! :)

Well, of course, I also called home, and that was fun! I got to hear just about everybody's voice that I was missing :) Well, out of my family that is..... Well anyways, that was a lot of fun :) And the rest of the day was pretty chill, cept Christmas Dinner was at 3.... oh well! I took a couple of pictures of the family we ate with too while they were all around the table, but my camera was spazzing. They are the Hoffmans, nope, not related to the Hoffman's we know :P

We also had another "dinner" that day at the Bishops, good Gandhi lol.... it was delicious too though, and we got more presents! And a lot of pictures! The bishop gave us nerf guns, which he now realizes was a poor choice on his end hahaha, and a leatherman, that is really big. And told us to carry that around, and we have already been able to pull them out to help people. We have pictures with those too. Pretty Grand experience!

Thursday we went to talk to Nolan's dad, to see if he wanted to be the one to baptize him (Nolan's dad hasn't been to church in years, and has his own doubts and stuff). Well we were able to connect real well. He's a programmer, but loves baseball and coached a LOT, so Peterson AND I were both able to keep the conversation alive. But, it didn't go how we wanted, and it ended up going pretty downhill. It was a little irritating what was said to us, and the majority of it was contradictory, but oh well, but at the end of it all, I was still calm and as we were preparing to leave I said: "Well, there is at least one thing we can agree on, and that is that God is our Heavenly Father and he loves us, so can we leave your house with a word of prayer?" He agreed, and after I prayed, the feelings of contention and all those other things were washed away! And it was a series of apologies next, but Nolan's dad was not ready to come back. His dad said he would come to the baptism, but he wouldn't support it... Idk, it was confusing. The poor guy has been through so much, and seen so many bad examples! Two bishops were excommunicated back to back while he was active, and there was all sorts of other crazy stuff happen to him. All we can do is pray for him. And support and encourage him! He has much potential, and he is a good man! Hopefully Nolan can stand as that beacon of hope that brings him back into the fold.

Friday was pretty usual, but we went to Jeanne's house for a lesson, talked about prayer, and reminded them of some things that they had been forgetting to do (family prayer and the like) and I think that that was what they needed to start doing again before she was baptized, because we ended up feeling that we needed to tell her about the baptism the next day! And she agreed to come (Peterson and others were skeptical about her actually coming, but I knew she would, and when I saw her step out of the car Saturday my heart soared!) The interesting thing is though, her husband is 20 years older than her, and she doesn't like her hair/doing her hair, so in order to look older and prevent herself from having to do her hair, she wears a wig. I was expecting Hook's hair from Hook after Peter Pan pulls his wig off, but nope! She has beautiful blonde hair! So we encouraged her to use her own hair more often. I don't know how she managed to hide her hair in that wig, but she was almost unrecognizable. It was super cool!

besides the baptism on Saturday, the rest of the day was, as Vanessa Carlton would say: "just a day, just an, ordinary day!"

Sunday was odd. The sisters had scheduled a lesson with a guy who they had brought to church the week previous, but they told us to go instead, and they didn't show up for the pass-off, so it was really odd. We brought a priest named Eli with us, and Eli apparently had the feeling that he needed to teach most of the lesson (we told him to speak up if he felt it) and he most certainly did. it was really cool too! He made a few mistakes, but I think that was his first time ever trying to teach the Restoration. Sure, it was out of order, but powerful! But the guy we were teaching is a little crazy, and it didn't really have much effect on him, but, all 3 of us learned that we weren't there to teach him, but his friend that walked in about half way from upstairs. he was cool, he was the guy to ask questions and such. that was cool! He agreed to go visit mormon.org, and may even go to the Visitor's center, but the man is terrified of confrontation, well, not scared, but he hates it, he is the peacemaker, so he seemed to like that he can turn to God for his answers. Even though he is not religious. I don't know, the whole experience was very odd to say the least. We also had to perform in the Choir thing that was Christmas themed, even though it was after Christmas, oh well, I guess that's how the ball rolls!

Well, that's my week in a nut-shell! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and hopefully a Happy New Year! Play lot's of Tetrisphere and stay up late for me ;) Have a great year all!

-Elder Wilkcity

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas! December 23, 2013

Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Merry Christmas everybody! And family, I hope you guys are living it up without me! Having a blast, drinking many many martinellis :)

Well, without further ado. Monday we taught our good friend Michael. His sister wasn't there, and it was just him and his mom. We shared a little DVD with people singing I am a Child of God. We weren't planning on sharing it, but it popped into my mind so I decided, ah what the heck :) so we did! At first we asked if they wanted to help us with a dispute we've been having. Because in this song, different people take turns singing different lines. And we were in disagreement as to who the best singer was. So they agreed to help us out, and without telling them ANYTHING about who we liked, Michael chose the same guy as me. Booyah Grandma :)

Tuesday we went back over to Michael's house in the evening to give his sister a blessing before she went in for surgery! Lol, wisdom teeth, chill :D. That was fun, but we also had zone conference which took the majority of the morning and afternoon! The zone leaders drove us, and because they have a car, they needed to be there at 8, so they showed up at seven thirty, and dropped us off at our dinner appointment at 5. So yeah, long time in a conference! We learned a lot and did a lot of teaching. The one thing that set it apart from other conferences is we learned about and how to use our new proselyting tool, our new Online Proselyting tool that is. Yup, my mission is now a Facebook mission! So, when I get on facebook, don't freak out, I'm not going apostate or anything! We spend an hour everyday (Tues-Sat) and we answer questions, confirm appointments, and even teach lessons! It's pretty cool, but obviously some things need to change. There are guidelines as to what to have picture and post wise, and how our interactions go, so there is a lot of "clean-up" going on. But I'm not deleting anything, nothing I had was bad, just not necessarily helping me accomplish my purpose as a missionary. So I've been hiding things like crazy. It's really weird, but I'm trying to be obedient, so their guidelines as what to hide may seem odd... the roughest part is, the want School Dance pictures hid. There's a variety of reasons one could use to explain it, but why it's rough, is because I hardly posted any, but got tagged in a million haha, so I have to hide each one individually! But don't get offended if a picture of you disappears, it'll be back! And you can still find it on your timeline! If you have any questions about it, and how I'll be using facebook, let me know :)

Wednesday we had an investigator handoff! Basically, some Elders in this mission had been poaching. What that means (hilarious) is that they were teaching a guy who didn't live in their area, and while they plead innocent, we know that they knew he wasn't in their area, but they were still trying to tell him to come to their church, and all this other stuff... Idk what was going on! They received him as a referral, but didn't want to pass him? I have no clue! But Robert (the investigator) came to our ward and exposed them. Then after weeks of ignoring our texts asking what was going on, they told us they were having a handoff lesson on Wednesday at their church. What that entails is that all four of us elders are there, and we teach him, and he gets to know us a little more. But he wants to meet with us at our church (it's a lot closer haha) so that was good. But, they were supposed to stop teaching him, buuuut, nope, they were going to bring him to the visitors center on Thursday, and decided to leave us out of it, but as we were leaving Robert asks about it. Whoops! Haha, so Robert invites us a long, and we went to the Visitors Center Thursday night for the little Christmas concerts they do every night. Weeeell, it was 100% in spanish (all the Spanish Elders were performing, well, a lot of them anyways). The member we brought with us served in Panama, so he had the time of his life listening in! I just noticed how much their O come all ye faithful sounds like Latin instead of Spanish :) It was good though, and we got to talk to Robert about a lot of things!

Alright, now to the highlight of the week!!!! Whoo-hoo! We are teaching this older couple. The husband is 88 and was just baptized back in September. The wife is 68, was not baptized with him, but had a date for this pastSaturday. We went to teach them on Friday. Shared our little Christmas message, but felt like something was missing. Jeanne, the wife, has Chrons Disease (spelling?) and it makes her incredibly sick, and she loses weight like crazy! I'm not an expert, so I won't pretend to tell you what it is, you all can use google, I can't haha. But anyways, it was what had prevented her from being baptized then, and up to that day. But as we sat there and shared that Christmas message, we knew that we had to talk about priesthood blessings. We had discussed it before going in, and there is a great Mormon Message that explains just a glimpse of what they can do. It's called Sanctify yourself, you can find it on mormon.org. So watch it :) But anyways, we talked with her about their priesthood again and asked if we could share this little message (btw, her husband is working towards getting the priesthood, so it's not a new concept) so we shared this message. Man! Powerful! I've seen it a lot but this time was electrifying! And that sounds cheesy based on if you've seen it, but really though, all the hair on my body stood on end! It was crazy! Afterwards we discussed how the Priesthood is something of service, and that we hold it, and described a priesthood blessing. I had this overwhelming feeling that she could be baptized Saturday afternoon, I knew that she could do it! I knew that if we blessed her, she would be alright. So what did we do? We asked her if she would be willing to get a blessing, and she said: "Can I get one now?" We would have had her hometeacher do it and be there with us that day, but they were working :P So don't get too mad at us, we had already tried! But the Spirit in the room was so strong! For the first time since I've been companions with Peterson, he decided to anoint her head with oil. I had done the annointing the other times we had used oil, and always felt like I should. This time, Jeanne didn't care who did what, so Peterson asked me which one I wanted to do. I wanted to anoint, that's the easy ordinance, but i couldn't say it! It wouldn't come out! I felt like I needed to give the blessing! Take that as you will, but it was a very powerful experience! We blessed her that she would be able to be baptized Saturday, (whoa, it came out of nowhere, most of what I said just came to my mouth, if I don't know what to say, then I know I had better close, because it means the Lord has said all he wants to say to her at that time, so anything else I add is just fluff). It was incredible! When we finished I shook her hand and said: "I can't deny this feeling I have inside, you can be baptized tomorrow" It surprised her when we first brought it up, but this same feeling had settled inside of her! So, we told her to call us in the morning and tell us how she was feeling, and we left! We were on our way to Dinner, but Peterson had this feeling to stop in and visit one of our very good friends Mary! We went over planning on wishing her a Merry Christmas, but what we found was not what we expected! Mary is a great individual, extremely sarcastic and hilarious to be around, her husband has been gone for over a decade, and the woman has been through so much with her kids :( Her story is one of trials! Well, when we knocked on the door, we expected to see her usual bouncy self, but she was not doing very good. Not at all. I asked her if she was OK, she said no, and then told us what was wrong. It's not going to be very beneficial if I go on and tell you what she said, but there was a lot going on, and a lot of pressure on her, a lot of pushing, and a lot of stress. It was not good. The nature of all of this and all Satan was doing to her, had her convinced that she wouldn't be to Church until she could figure everything out. She was getting ready to quit. We paniced inside! But we were loving and supportive, and encouraged her and listened to her. As the conversation died down, and it seemed like she wanted to go back inside, I had a feeling. See, with the blessing over and Jeanne's, it was Peterson who was in tune and followed that prompting. Now it was MY turn. I spoke, and out of my mouth came something much more elegant than this, but here's my best way of trying to remember, I told her "as a representative of Jesus Christ, and as Elders in the Church, we hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, which tool allows us to serve the Lord's children, will you let us serve you now and give you a blessing?" Ok, that sounded cheesy, but the actual phrase that came out of my mouth was really cool! I didn't even think of it! (Missionary work is insane I tell you!) But she told us that we could. And because I had "followed the feeling" I was the one to give her the blessing of comfort and counsel. Well, I haven't known her very long, and don't know her very well either, but as soon as I laid my hands on her head, my emotions went nuts!!!! There is no way to effectively describe the wash of emotion I had, I felt extremely sorrowful, I was so full of love and empathy, it was like I could feel what she was going through, but not, I don't know, either way, through this blessing, the water content of my body dropped significantly if you know what I mean, and with the current condition of the air and it's effect on me, my voice was super low too. Oooooh chills! At this point I can't remember what was said, but it had a profound effect on her and myself, and my companion. One thing I remember was that I quoted her, and one of her phrases she says: "Make your request, do your best, and let the Lord do the rest". Well, at this point, as weird as it sounds, I know I didn't quote her, but whoever was speaking through me was ;) If you get my meaning! The blessings of the Priesthood are amazing, and the service you render while using it are priceless and precious. It is often a stressful thing to hold, but because I love helping people so much, it's times like those that just spiritually pump me up. After she gave me a million of her tissues, and the both of us were on the verge of crying again (her and myself, and who knows, maybe Petey too :) ), we left!

And guess who came to church again on Sunday? Yes that's right! Mary did :) The Lord was effective in being able to comfort and console her and show her what she should do. Our prayers (and hers, and the wards) were answered, and she came. Man oh man! What an experience!

However, a slight downside, guess who didn't get baptized on Saturday? Yup, Jeanne. Haha, but, at first that made us extremely sad and anxious, we looked inward and freaked out: "we did something wrong, we were x, y, z, etc.!" But nope. The feeling I had Friday was just as valid as the one I had Saturday. Friday I knew she was ABLE to be baptized on Saturday, but upon waking upon Saturday, I knew she wouldn't be... she called us at 8 a.m. ish and said that the Baptism was ON, yup, she was going to be baptized, she felt great and was ready. Well, we go and fill up the font (yes, we had reserved it a week or two ago, knowing that this was her date) at 1 p.m. The baptism was at 4, Sister Carstens was going to go pick Jeanne and her husband up and take them to the baptism. So we were there for almost three hours when we get this call from Sister Carstens. Jeanne had cancelled. Supposedly she had called someone and told them it was off and then left saying that she wouldn't be back til after Dinner. Odd. It was very discouraging, and very sad, but my feelings proved true. I knew it wasn't due to health. There is an outside reason that I think the Spirit has been slowly telling us since that day, even in our interactions with her, and she wants to try again for the 4th, because of her story of what happened. O.o oook Jeanne, hopefully we figure out what it is you need to learn before then! The Lord still has something he needs to give her/teach her first, and we have two weeks to figure it out :)

On the bright side though, our good ole Buddy Nolan is being baptized this upcoming saturday, and that one is set in stone, unless suddenly his father turns away from being against the church to 100% with it in a few days, which is ideal, so we have been hoping for that, but either way, on his 18th birthday, he's being baptized, whether by his dad or someone else, it's happening... So, that'll be dramatic!

So, last but not least, I'm not sure If I mentioned the Grinch song. Ha! I'm writing a parody (well finished writing last night) of You're a Mean one, Mr. Grinch. Yup, it's called, You're a mean one Elder Grinch. So not much change there, but the whole song is pretty hilarious, and guess who convinced me to perform that today in front of the whole mission? Yeah.... peer pressure... They printed me off the lyrics, and got me a karaoke track of it... The track didn't line up with the lyrics that well by the middle, so we decided to just do it A Cappella and I'll throw in my custom sounds effects ;) They even got Peterson a Grinch Tee-shirt, so we have to figure out his act with it as I sing this song. They loved it when I practiced last night, so hopefully it will be pretty good. If they hate it, then I feel bad for my next companion hahahahha, but it'll be hilarious either way. YOLO, or as they say here, YOMO (you only mission once), not sure if that's true, but whatevs! Both are false haha, so that'll be cool!

Last but not least I want to thank you all for the Christmas gifts, and cards, and packages, and letters, and emails, and every other little thing you've done for me. Don't panic though! I am in the process of writing you all back and thanking you all, but it's a slow process with all this stuff that's been going on, but it will happen! Slowly but surely :) Thank you thank you thank you! It's totally made my Christmas :) I wasn't expecting anything at all, but you surprised me! May the Lord bless you all for your service! :D

Well, that's my week in a nutshell, how's Christmas for you all?

-Elder Wilkinson

You're a mean one, Elder Grinch December 16, 2013

Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Yup, it's official, I am going to be singing my Parody of You're a mean one Mr. Grinch at the Mission wide talent show this upcoming week. It is due to the efforts of my companion, and the Carstens, and the surprising encouragement I got from other missionaries (both in the mission and abroad). The Carstens printed out the lyrics for me so I remember the whole song, and I'm still in the process of re-writing it. And despite this humidity, I still can sing as low as normal, my talking pitch is the only thing that has suffered haha! :)

So, first off, to get the ball rolling we met with Michael! Woop woop! (<---- we say that all the time now, it's terrible) We shared a very very touching message which was really sad, but powerful, and I talked about my mom, and Elder Peterson talked about his friend, and we shared a mormon message. It was really inspiring too. The daughter's boyfriend was there, and they were talking while we were and much to our astonishment, Michael would turn to them and say: "Shut up, the missionaries are talking!" Stunned us all that he was rooting for us. That kid I tell you... there was a moment that the couple was talking, that Elder Peterson was talking to the mom, and I was doing nothing, so in a fake whisper I called out to michael, and asked if he played video games, he said a little, so I asked him which ones, then I told him that there was a video game party on Wednesday night, and asked if he wanted to come, he asked when and where and I told him, and I also told him that we'd pick him up. He agreed to come, then learned it was for mutual, but still was ok with coming. It was crazy! We saw them again tuesday night while caroling (we went around to houses in the ward and caroled with some families, so funny, I'll get to that in a second.) So, back to Michael on Tuesday, we knocked on the door, he opened it and we started singing, and he slammed the door. HAHAHAHAHA, oh man, but then 5 seconds later, his mom re-opened the door and we sang to them. Typical Michael, so funny, it set everyone off so we all forgot the words to frosty the snow man *awkward* but we reminded Michael about Wednesday, and he was still game to come. Cool! Ok, more on the caroling, so the family we were with is hilarious. Oh man, their kids are amazingly crazy but funny. You'll have to ask me about some of the things they say in a separate email. But anyways, the dad was so scroge cold that he was hardly singing, so while singing Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer, all the little echoes I would say: "Brother Harris!!" It was hilarious. I even sang at this grouchy man's door like Elmo, man oh man, the two non-members caroling with us got a kick out of that! It was a great week, slow, but good!

AH! I'm low on time, time to type faster haha, sooooooo, Wednesday was the Young Men's Video Game night. Do not get your knickers in a bunch, we didn't play for Pete's sake, nor watch, but we got both Michaels (Michael fromMonday hadn't been to mutual for years, and hates the ward, but somehow agreed... whaaaa?!) there, Justin, and Nolan. That's 3 inactives and one investigator who SET HIS DATE FOR BAPTISM FOR THE 28TH OF THIS MONTH! WOOP WOOP! That was great! Tuesday afternoon he interrupted our commitment for baptism with a YES. It was awesome, we still finished our whole statement and he kept saying it. the 28th is also his birthday, so after-party FTW. Hahaha, what a great guy! They brought Brawl to Mutual, and I explained the controls to Michael before we got there. (yeah, we didn't drive him, our ride dropped us off and left, so we had to walk Michael to mutual.... -_-, hilarious) That is a long story, but it was a great fellowship activity, and Eli told Michael that he was giving him (Michael) a ride home. The Priest's quorum in this ward is amazing. Is was great!

Thursday was my birthday, surprise surprise :) And it was magnificent! I had made a mention to Elder Peterson which Sister Carstens overheard about my birthday. But one sec-- so at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, we wake up to a "Happy Birthday Wilkcity" from Elder Peterson. How did we manage to awake at that time is beyond me. But we were asleep again soon after. But Wilk-city seems to be the nickname the ward has given me. Yeesh lol, it's great :) But, when I went to go eat Breakfast I found a display on the table wishing me a Happy Birthday from the Carstens. That was great! Sister Carstens also called ahead to our dinner appointment and told them (I didn't know this) So we walk up to the doorstep and the door opens "automatically" and we walk in, and seemingly out of nowhere a million kids erupt from the furniture screaming "Surprise!" And Sister Barnes even made me a cake :') Awh, it was truly marvelous. If you want more on the actual day, hit me up in an email. After dinner we went and helped make those huge snowflakes. We were there for hours, because they had a million to make, but we only make 53... they had already made like 200... so, guess who hung them up at the ward Christmas party??? Yup, the Elders.... meaning me and Elder Peterson. What fun it was going up and down a ladder a million times. We spent so much time helping for that party, such a blast!

Friday we arose early and went to go help cook for the party on saturday. We cut so many onions, my companion and the Chef were contacts, not me, so I was crying like a baby after 10 minutes (we cooked and stuff for about 2 hours then, did a bunch of turkey stuff too). Hilarious. Ha. Friday we also got to have dinner with an investigator, set up by our very own Sister Fields! Hoooray! What a great missionary! (Ward Missionary) and Nelson, the husband is a Muslim, but he believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ. No way! It was awesome! More on that next week! But He had this vision about Jesus before he believed in him, and it was insane. It sounds crazy, but the spirit was there. So definitely legit, ish anyways, at least it built all of our faith. If you want more info on that, send me an email too. Ha, if you have any questions at all, email me :) We went shopping this morning, and are going the Nike store at noon, so we have less time today, so I'm sorry this won't be as long, I'll fill in the blanks next week because I'll start with this email...

Buuuuuuuut guess what?! I got a birthday package on Friday! Hooray for a belated package :) Elder Peterson got his Christmas package while I got my birthday one. Funny! We were both opening them at the same time when the Sister missionaries showed up to take Sister C's to a lesson, and they were sups jealous! The jacket is amazing, so warm, but yeah, so thin, AND waterproof, woop woop! And the gloves are perfect, so stylish, and warm, total secret agent thing going on!! And Jessica sent me some sweat pants and cupcakes (Jessie's was actually on Thursday). Truly great week. I love you guys! I have so many letters to write today and people to get back to it's insane, thanks for all the support! And dad, thanks for the MoTab CD's, they are great! Overall, a long and hardworking week, but marvelous in every sense of the word. My family and friends made that week great. Thanks for all the Birthday wishes! I am now the ripe old age of 19 ;) wow, what a shocker right there, I think I heard my back creak a little bit! ;)

7 a.m. Saturday morning began the long day of setting up for the party and all the cooking. Didn't stop til the party started. We even got to practice our song: "Come into the water" that the 4 missionaries sang there. Great day, long, but great. So much cooking, and I got a lot of crap for being left handed. "Can't trust a lefty with a knife" "can't trust lefties at all" But it was all fun and games, especially because I showed them all up! I was cutting like a maniac with a knife as sharp as a samurai sword, 15 degree blade (can't remember samurai swords exactly, but the knives we used were 15, because we were working with a professional cook), most sharp sharp knifes are 22 or something... Party was great, and we taught a very heart-warming Christmas story to some kids after the party but right before the end of the night. Adorable, and almost brought tears to my eyes. The kids we taught are going through such a hard time right now. It's really sad. But they rejoiced in the message we shared, and uplifted and inspired us. It was crazy!

I pray for all of you, and I love you all so much :) I hope you have the greatest week you could possibly have!

This mission is like a Marvel movie, but it's not fiction :)

-Elder Wilkinson

Merry Christmas! :D

Deck the halls with lots of.... Baptisms? December 9, 2013

Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Well, to start off, this has probably been the longest week of my life. But seriously though. Monday - Wednesday was great, but starting Thursday it became so long that now I cannot believe it's only been a week since December started. I know, crazy, but so true. My mind exploded last night as I was re-reading through my journal, and I exclaimed numerous times: "I did that this week??? NO I DIDN'T!!!" (emphasis added for dramatic effect) It was really bad haha. But did I mention that I spent a long time last week (2 weeks ago) fixing a member's printers? Well, if not, I did for a long time, and if I did, then I won't go into it. But, after spending all that time fixing them, we went to go teach them on Friday and I saw that they were all packed up, because they were painting the wall, and are currently trying to move out. All my hard work with their internet.... oh my... lol. Well anyways, Monday was good! Pretty dull for a p-day, but ended so strong. We got to meet the new sister missionary in the ward. Thank goodness she can sing :) because we got signed up to sing in the ward Christmas party. but it is a super easy song. To those of you who know the song Tiny King, this song is even easier. I never ever thought that was possible.... but it is, and we struggle with it too. Good Ghandi! It's coming along though, and so are my piano skills. I can now successfully play two parts on a piano without much difficulty, and I was able to get through the first two lines of God speed the right without any effort either, but as for the rest of the song, I did pretty good, but ended ten seconds late, so still a little slow, but the more I play the more I begin to realize things and techniques. It's a lot of fun!

Anyways, Monday night was probably the most powerful experience I've had out here in the field. Well, in the top 3 at least if not the most. We were visiting the family we normally do on Mondays, and a couple of days prior we had been praying over what to teach them, and felt like there were two Mormon messages we could share, one about the Restoration (over-view of what was taught last week) and one about trials, called Hope ya know I had a Hard time. When we initially watched them, nothing really came, we just knew that was what we should share. Simple. BUT! As soon as we hit play on that DVD player, and L. Tom Perry began to speak, I became so full of emotion. inside my mind was going: "what on earth is going on???" it was very unexpected, but my eyes filled up and my insides came to life! Absolutely and positively insane! Oh my gosh! Everything he said made me happier and happier, but filled my eyes up with more water. I must have drunken too much gatorade, but holy cow, I could not contain myself! Elder Peterson shared his feelings on the video while I was struggling to hold back this wave that I had never ever felt before. So, we turn on the second one. Well, out the window my efforts went! That finished, Peterson shared his testimony, and then I finally could find the words to speak. I know without a doubt that that was the Spirit speaking through me and using me to speak! And as such, I will be bold with what I said. It was very powerful, and very heartfelt! Nothing I was ever capable of ever doing! That family has been the strangest family, because I KNOW that I knew them before this life! I KNOW that I was supposed to come and meet with them, and I KNOW that there is something still that I need to do. What is it? How can I do it? I don't know, but it is a knowledge that I cannot refute! The Deja Vu that happens everytime I step through the doors is incredible, and the feelings I get in their apartment/home is insane! Never have I ever felt that power in that form. Probably the closest I have come to feeling that inability to control myself was at that Lamb of God concert, but that was more of a sadness type of thing, that turned into joy, but this was 100% happy! I was smiling through everything. I cannot possibly describe what was going on inside of me, but I challenge you all to go experience it! Sharing the Gospel is an incredible thing, and the Spirit works differently through everybody, but it you can come anywhere close to the experience I had, there is nothing you can do that will not be worth it. Oh my gosh! It was iiiiiiiiiiincredible! This is what being on a mission is all about! Well, more than that, it's getting everyone in the room to feel what you are feeling, and change their lives, so I am one step closer to having them feel it too. If the people in that room did not feel anything, then there is something wrong with them, because the Spirit in that room was so strong! Wow! I had never anticipated such a change in me! I knew that as a missionary it was my duty to try and get those feelings and changes to occur in someone else, but I never really understood fully the things I would come to realize and the things I would come to feel. This is truly an amazing work, and it started my week off great!

Well, without further ado, moving on! So, December 1st marked the day we could start listening to Christmas music, so Sunday morning I awoke so happy (8 days ago Sunday) and after all the morning stuffs danced into the bathroom to turn on my Christmas CD I had brought. I press the power button aaaaaaand..... nothing. It was broken. Not batteries, the batteries had looong since been dead, I had had it plugged in and running off of wall power. Well, I unplugged it, changed the batteries and tried again. Nothing! GASP! Christmas music could not be listened to???? NO! So that morning was pretty depressing, but eventually I realized that we could listen to CDs in the DVD player... so it was good. Good thing we realized that too! This past week I made Elder Peterson and the Carstens so jealous! HAHA! I got four packages in one week! Oh my gosh! Started out with a great package from GP! Yeah let's go!!!!! :) Twas splendid! Then I got three from my mom! Thanks mom! She sent Michael Bolton's Christmas CD, David Archuletta's Christmas CD, and two chocolate advent calenders for Elder Peterson and I! Truly and simply marvelous! We have listened to all of our Christmas music so much that that is probably the reason the week feels so long ago, was all the music being blasted. We even held an O Holy Night competition between Josh Groban, David Archuletta, Michael Bolton, Lee Greenwood, and we didn't end up playing Johnny Cashes one at that time, but we both knew it would have lost ;). But Josh Groban definitely had the best one! Two last things about the packages though, Elder Peterson and I eat a piece of chocolate every night from those calenders like we are supposed to :) aaaaaaaaaaaand GP send wool socks! AH! Styling too! and saved me too, because this week has been soooooo cold! Gee whilickers! It has truly been great though.

Tuesday we taught Nolan for the first time. What a great guy! So so so so prepared for the Gospel, already knows the Book of Mormon is true! We taught him the Restoration, and it was good! He kept saying how much sense it made (Spirit telling him what he already knew? Yeah probably). But he has been coming to mutual for the past few weeks, and Church, but Wednesdaywas the day that they were going to do baptisms for the dead. Bishop teased him in Priest's Quorum saying they could baptize him the next day and get him to the temple, scared him a little bit, but it was all teasing :). So he wasn't going to go, but I ended up asking him if he wanted to go, but us (the Elders) could go with him to the Visitors Center, learn more about the Temple and the gospel in general. He loved that idea! So we did that, and spent some time in the atrium as well, then he ended up asking us to teach him the Plan of Salvation, based on all the Sister missionaries in the visitor's center had shown us, and the video that kinda summed it up, but we laid it out for him, because we had our cheesy little cutouts, but again, just kept saying: "makes so much sense!" I don't know, it was very interesting, he was very taken by it all. We are meeting with him again on Tuesday (tomorrow) and we are going to ask him to be baptized, but it's already a given, he's already told us he wants to, so we will set a datetomorrow. It is incredible what some people go through, and how prepared the Lord makes them.

Wednesday we went to subway to meet with some of the Elder's in the district to get some materials and various books. Why? Well, with transfers this past week, I was made District Leader, first one in the church to be District leader at such a short period of time. Lol, obviously kidding, but my companion is District Leader, and we were going to get all the stuffs for it. Sister and Brother Glew paid for my meal too! That is the second one that they treated me to! How wonderful of them! Rebekah, thank them for me? They are wonderful! You're probably all confused, but they gave me a subway gift card before I left, and I have made good use of it. Yummy. Truly delicious ;) haha, but anyways, we played a little prank on one of the missionaries who met us there. Ever since my companion has been district leader, this guy has called us everyday, many times a day, if not a lot within the space of one hour. It's a lot of calls, but anyways, he left, and called us, we answered the phone (Quatama phone) in which they asked if they could call the Hillsboro phone, thinking they had left (but they were actually still at subway with us), so he calls the Hillsboro phone, and Peterson answers that phone: "Jones, you just called me, I already told you to call Hillsboro" Confused, Jones hangs up, and calls the Hillsboro number, to which Peterson answers again, says the same thing, but Jones is convinced that he called the right number, Peterson asks him to read off the number, and says: "Nope, that's Quatama's number, I think somebody swapped them in your phone, call the quatama number" So Jones calls our phone, which the Hillsboro Elder Alatini answers, pretending he is walking in the cold and shaking. Answers his questions, but before he hangs up, Peterson busts up laughing, then Jones figured it out. It was pretty hilarious, but Jones probably face palmed and thought to himself that we were pathetic, but it was pretty funny.

Alatini had mentioned at subway that the week had seemed so long, but we couldn't relate, it had flown by for us! He jynxed us. The next few days to today have felt so long! It is insane! We were there at Subway waiting for a long time for Elder Alatini and Lewis though, because Lewis's tire had exploded on the way over, so they parked them at a local church, and walked over, good thing I didn't get my bike where Lewis did, nah, it was probably all the junk on the road that slashed it open. But it was so cold that the four Elders who met us at Subway were all bundled up. You could only see their eyes, if even that, Elder Peterson had sunglasses on. I had nothing on my face, didn't need it. I'm from Utah! But so were they..... lol, but who knows! But, the wind had been at our backs on the trip there, but now it was in front of us, and it was biting! Like the shivering chorus song we sang at BYU fall semester last year. My face looked all scraped up when we got home, biting wind! But I figured out how to protect my face, so now I'm fine, but this cold up here is a different cold then I have ever ever felt before in my whole life!

Well, nothing really memorable happened the next few days, so you're lucky, and I'll end early.... ish.... I suppose I always talked a lot at home, so writing long emails is no surprise! But we did a lot of service, and helped set up some Christmas lights, cleaned the church, practiced singing our song, and went to the District Leader meetings, which means we had to call for a lot of stats. Our phone goes off so much a day, that Peterson has decided that I should answer the phone every time, and then hand it off to him (its obvious that they call to talk to him), but based on my vocal performance at SPC last night, they decided it was a hilarious idea, so I'm going to answer the phone dramatically and bouncy every time. I will let you know how that goes!

But by tomorrow we will have 4 baptismal dates set! It'll be good! What a white Christmas! This lady we teach set her date for the 21st, but in church announced it was the 12th.... happy birthday to me? But after meeting with her, she realized that the 21st was a much better idea for her. Oh well, but we will see how everything goes!

You are all wonderful, and I hope you continue to have great days and weeks and months and years! See you in 22 months! Except Cutler, that'll be longer ;) ya beast! Keep up the good work everybody! :D The book is blue, the Church is true!

-Elder Wilkinson

Thanksgiving weeeeeek! December 2, 2013

Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Wow, this past week seems like just yesterday, but so long ago! We have been so busy that it's probably literally killing me! A long dormant Bronchitis seems to have re-emerged, well, probably not that bad, but I have this super annoying cough! It thrashes my voice around though. Just like the good old days back in Utah!

Monday was pretty chill, played basketball with the district for p-day, and taught some good-ish lessons.

Tuesday was difficult, we had our lessons fall through, and did a lot of walking. We also had a follow-up greenie meeting. First time they've ever done that! And it was veeeeeeeery long! Everybody from my district who came out with me was there, EXCEPT for my MTC companion, Elder Solomon, he is in the Mt. Hood area, so he had his meeting the next day. This meeting was only like four hours though, so not too long, and we did a lot of practicing teaching. We had to report on some stuffs, and then practiced and learned different ways of teaching 6 lessons. It was a very intense role-play, but very very realistic, the most realistic since the Progressing investigator in the MTC! Wow! Definitely going to use the pamphlets now! And that evening, we were invited to go play basketball with the Elder's Quorum, we got the appropriate permission, and are turning it into a finding and fellowship activity by inviting our potential and current investigators and less-actives to it. So double whammy with basketball.

Wednesday we had district meeting, the last one with the Zone leader Elder Olsen, but Sister Pauga (one of the sisters in this ward) is leaving to go home today, so it was her last one too. She is the one who gave this cough! Rats! And it is spreading to Elder Peterson, and getting around too! It's all this singing we've had to do! We had to sing in Church last Sunday, then they asked me to sing a solo yesterday.... Yikes! Wasn't for sacrament meeting though! 2nd hour! Remember how I said my voice was thrashed? Yeah! I sang it down TWO octaves! These Elder friends of Kito would have loved to hear it! The upside? It turned out not to be a solo. Some guy didn't get the memo and started playing the accompaniment to the song on his phone/table (The song was: When he comes again, they were talking about the second coming). He very well may have been trying to prevent me from singing a solo, which makes sense, he is the one guy in the ward who has frustrated me the most :) lol, I must have prayed for patience or something lol! But anyways, his phone starts going off, and the people who asked me to sing did NOT specify which verse, or anything, so while I tried to clarify, the one teacher honestly didn't care, and so they just said to have everybody sing! But you couldn't miss my voice yesterday... anyways, I practiced for it a lot, and it sounded really good too! Good thing it wasn't a solo though, because our class was huge that day! The room was filled! Literally double what it was the week previous, really though! Half the people hadn't even been there before :P anyways, it was good! But back to Wednesday.... We went out to eat as a district to Panda Express, and I realized I didn't have my wallet, but had brought my yogurt and chia seeds :P so I sit down, grab a fork, and start stirring in my seeds and eating. Everybody rolled their eyes at me, and my 6"7 other zone leader (who already is pretty intimidating) ordered me to bless him with charity, and that he wanted those blessings, and when I tried to say I was fine with my 90 cal yogurt ;) he got very frustrated with me, and of course, not wanting to chase away the spirit and replace it with the spirit of contention, I let him buy me some orange chicken. It's all good though, I'll pay him back this week. Also, we were invited to young men's that night, because they were playing basketball, and friends were being brought. So, triple whammy, super exercise ;) It was great, we got to know some non-members, and got to know the members more, and learned of some needs and referrals. Very cool.

Also on Wednesday, we went to go share a thought with a part member family, and we made the mistake of asking if there was anything we could do to help them hahaha, nah, it was fine, but I spent the next hour and a half fixing their printers. I didn't use the internet, or any books of any sort, don't fret! But I got the two hooked up to their ancient computer that is connected to the modem, then got their tiny laptop to be able to print without having to be connected to the printer directly, so I had to enable all the sharing and all that jazz. I have never had any experience with modems before, so all their other questions dealing with answering machines I could not help with. I also taught them how to use the fax part of their printer, because that's what they really wanted, Buuut they still want to read in the book, and get their answering machine working again, so I delegated to another member of the ward due to time constraints. Ha! We went back there on Friday for our scheduled lesson, and the investigator set a date for baptism. Her poor health though. She has chrome's (Krohns?) disease, so she is sooooo thin right now. She is losing weight like crazy, and she is in danger ha! But she has overcome it before, so she is striving to beat it now, and because she set a date, we know that the Lord will help her be ready by the 21st of this month, but in church yesterday she was saying that she was going to be baptized the 12th.... -_- hmmm, oh well, I don't mind having a baptism on my birthday! :) Anyways, can't skip Thursday!

Thursday... was Thanksgiving. Whoa! I thought I would be super homesick all day, but nope! Lemme explain why! So, first off, we had gotten permission from President to go to the Turkey bowl. But my left arms was KILLING me, I must have pulled some muscle at some point, because my forearm was super sore, and so was my upper arm, so I couldn't put my hands that high above my head (I'm fine now) so what did I do? Well, I was strictly defense, and a rusher of course, but the "little" kids relieved me as rusher toward the end because they couldn't keep up with the receivers, so I switched to that for awhile. Was it flag? No! Was it touch? Sometimes, but for the majority of it, it was tackle! My first tackle football game. There was a joke that if someone got hurt, it was bound to be a missionary, and maybe that's true, Elder Peterson ended up in the splits when he slipped on some mud, ha! I only got mildly beat up from all the tackles I did, but honestly, you should see the other guys ;). Speaking of guys those, the sister missionaries came! And trashed everybody, that's where the touch comes in, but they still beat the crap out of each other. What a companionship inventory! Lol! The one sister on my team did a lot of sports in high school, so she did most of the catching and receiving for our team, well, at the beginning, til her companion started knocking her to the ground! I on the other hand, despite the fact that I was not on the same team as my companion (who played football in high school mind you) I could always say that I had his back. Whenever he caught the ball or was running with it, I had his back. Get it? Yup, I took him out! BOOM! He kept telling our QB to pass me the ball, I think now because he wanted to try and take me down, but because I didn't want to raise my arms high to catch the ball, I was the short pass guy. Oh, speaking of short stuff. On offense, I was the only blocker, and kept ALL the guys off of our QB :) one of which had played football in high school as well. I shoulda been a blocker on a football team I guess ;) lol, who knows! It was a lot of fun, and I always dove for the ball when the other person wouldn't catch it, and always came within inches of it.... shoulda worn cleats ha! Well, enough about football, back to the work! Well, one last thing, the way my companion moved and made these mind blowing catches, it was like watching dad play! It's the same with the basketball! Holy moley dad! Why didn't I ever learn those skills??? Ok, done with that now.

While I thought I would be homesick all day, it proved to not be the case. Why? because i put my time into assuring that other people were having great thanksgivings! We had lunch with this Elderly couple that we teach. They didn't have anywhere to go, and all of their kids didn't want the mom coming out to visit because the trip would kill her. Literally though. This lady has 3 clogged arteries in her heart, only one left! They want to do a heart transplant but she refuses because she believes she will never die, that she can heal herself with her faith. That science is of men, and not of God. Confused lady, but maybe she can heal herself, but she believes the priesthood has no power, so no blessings there. ANYWAYS! They were home alone for Thanksgiving, and we offered to spend some time with them, but they told us to have lunch with them, and they ended up cooking what food they had bought for thanksgiving dinner, because it was just going to be the two of them, they didn't want to go "all out" but had still bought a great deal. So we had dinner for lunch, and played this game called dominoes with them. It is their favorite game. No, not setting them up and flicking them. It's very fun actually, I plan on teaching it to ya'll when I get back! But we spent the afternoon with them, teaching and sharing messages and eating and having fun. Totally made their day. They were so happy we were there! Lol, speaking of them, we were there on Saturday, and some Jehovah's Witnesses missionaries showed up. The husband who is not a member wanted us to answer the door, but the wife said no, and she talked with them, told them they were welcome, but due to our presence should come back another time. She is very friendly, and hears everybody out. Ha! Don really wanted us to talk to them though. We don't know what would have happened, so I'm glad we didn't. :)

Moving along, we had a great Thanksgiving dinner with the Farrers! The sister missionaries and a couple other families were there, and it was insane with the amount of kids that were running around! We bowled with a frozen turkey, and I hold the record for hitting the most pins down from the farthest away. Score! We played a couple of name and strategy games with the guests. It was great! So that's two dinners. THEN the Bishop had us come over.... oh boy.... that was the start of 3 consecutive days at the bishops house with his family. great time! Had pie the first night, and they had us for dinner the next day, and we had enchiladas and martinellis! Yippee! Then the third night we just had our meeting where we discussed the work and laid out our plans and discussed tactics! Fun times!

But! Lastly but certainly not least! I was actually not away from my family for thanksgiving! Obviously this ward is my family away from home, buuuuuut as you all know, I actually got to see my family in the flesh! Jessie and Eric! And Aaron and Audrey brought me a pie and those amazing wraps that didn't last very long at all. And sparkling cider! What a great moment in time! It was a half hour in between the turkey bowl and the lunch, so it was perfectly timed :) It was good to see them! Because passing by their house normally stressed me out, but not anymore! I'm good now! The reality that I AM actually in Oregon has now settled in, and I'm fine! Not homesick in the slightest! I passed by their house again last night while headed up to the visitors center with some families for one of the concerts that they do every night. That was great! But man! Seeing those Hornibrooks was terrific! As you have probably seen, I was smiling like a dork! So happy to see them, and so happy to be green enough to have gotten permission to have seen them. Sorry for looking like I got hit with a two by four, buuuuut we had just smashed our faces into the ground playing football, so I have a little excuse :) playing tackle football in a suit, no bueno. Haha, no, we were not in suits, and at this time not dirty either, just bruised :) What a great time! Love you guys! Keep up the work, the time when I'll be transferred into your area is fast approaching! :)

Ok, Friday was pretty typical, a nice cool down day. I already talked about it earlier, that was the gist of it. Just finished weekly planning for and hour and a half or so, mixed with everything else, dinner with the bishop, that was the enchiladas. We got to watch the new Mormon message about Christmas, I recommend you go watch it now! :)

Saturday was pretty chill too. I know that we had service scheduled, but due to rain only taught! We had dinner with arguably the best cooks in the ward! Yup, the Rice's! Pretty coincidental name eh? Their non-member parents were visiting for dinner too, and liked the message we shared. Me and the Grandpa were cracking jokes all over the place, Brother Rice thought they were so dumb, that he wanted Elder Peterson to smash their make-shift martinelli bottles on our heads :( Elder Peterson did too! obviously jk! :) It was a good time, but I have to be careful in laughing, cuz I start coughing something awful! Thank goodness for GP's cough drops he sent. What an inspired gift! GP saves the day again!!!! :)

Then on sunday, all the priests told us when they were free to go on splits, and we had a guy who hadn't been to church for years there, and he volunteered to go with us! YES! and we also had an investigator who is priest age say we could call him anytime! We have our first lesson with him this tuesday(tomorrow) it's pretty sad though, for mutual this week they are going to do baptisms, and he isn't a member yet :( he went all through primary and church til he was 11, was never baptized due to his inactive father, and after all these years, decided it was time for him to come back and be baptized. WOW! He turns 18 on the 28th of this month, but we'll get him baptized soon enough. Initially his family wanted the dad to baptize him (3 weeks ago) but last week said that his dad wanted nothing to do with the church, so Nolan told his dad: "I'm getting baptized, whether by you, or someone else, it will happen!" Stunned the dad, hopefully the dad eventually comes back! But the Bishop offered to have Nolan baptized that night, scared the poor kid, because of all the time it would take to interview and teach him everything again. And while he knows he'll be baptized, I don't think sunday was the right time. The bishop said they could get him to the temple on wednesday if we hurried. It was a joke obviously, but still, they are having a potluck on wednesday, then they'll go to the temple. We might go for the dinner, and while they go to the temple, teach Nolan the next lesson. He went to primary, so it will mostly be a refresher he says. So we will probably teach him the lessons pretty close together, especially because he's already been reading the Book of Mormon and we have already committed him to pray about it and we haven't even had our first lesson yet haha!

Well, that's the main gist of it. But one last thing: in the days preceding Thanksgiving, we would go around to less-actives and others sharing this message about thanksgiving, and I would quote Braden Johnson on something he said to me in a letter right before I left. And after we shared our message (it was a Mormon message) I would tell everybody that this would be my first thanksgiving away from home, and asked it we could do the tradition that my family did (and I guess everyone else practically) where we all go around sharing what we are thankful for before dinner, but in these little family settings, we would share our testimonies and what we were thankful for, made me fee closer and closer to home each time. It was terrific! I would quote Braden on his "we leave our families for a little while so that others can be with theirs for Eternity" that I have in my scriptures right before the Book of Mormon. It was very powerful, and the Spirit was always so strong in the room. I love you guys! I hope you guys had a blast without me this thanksgiving! Any whackee six throw-downs??? What went on? Did you follow the tradition? It would be pretty ironic if not, because I spent all this time in doing it out here hahaha :)

Praying for you all,

-Elder Wilkinson

Quatama-tastic! Our name for our area :) November 25, 2013

Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Dear family and friends,

To start off, GP's package came! I don't know if I mentioned that or not, but I'll mention it again! It is terrific, the members I live with really like GP, even though they have never met him, because of all the stories I tell! GP, I love you man! You're great!

So, Michael... Wow, we prepared an object lesson for him to keep him interested, and the CRAZIEST thing happened. We were at a less active families house for dinner, they feed us every other monday, the dad is an insanely good cook. It's nuts! Anyways, we were there at 6, and had an appointment at 7. We had a lovely dinner, and while sharing our thought with them, opened up another can of worms (this is the family we committed to family prayer the previous week when we randomly dropped in) and we learned about a lot of the hard-ships this family has gone through, and the mom was crying, and the dad was upset (it was only them two there), and it was very tender. We encouraged her in her trials, shared D&C 121, the section where joseph smith feels abandoned. We shared with her the Lord's Response to his prayer, and testified of the Atonement super powerfully! (speaking of powerful, I'm listening to Carol of Joy right now! Jealous much??) it was amazing the feelings that came into this room! But guess what? It was after seven! We were late, but we couldn't leave this crying lady! So my companion was trying to text these other people to apologize (while she's talking, he was trying to do it under the table without looking, idk how I feel about that haha) but anyways, we made another huge breakthrough with them, and got the parents to attend sacrament meeting yesterday! The dad says his back is bad and will only stay for the first hour (but even staying was progress!) He and his family recommend the chiropractor, so dad (my dad! You Michael Wilkinson!) they want you to try it out, and that it'll probably help! Up to you though, but they and their son go, and they are all seeing a lot of improvement! Anyways, the story gets worse! We get outside, and its raining. The wind is howling, and we have a loooooooooong way to walk to get to our appointment we are late to. We woulda asked the family we were just with to drive us, but he was sick at the time, and so we didn't want to distress them. Little did I know that Elder Peterson had gotten us a ride. So we start walking the opposite way. I asked him "where are we going?" He responded that we were going to Michael's house.
"We're going the wrong way." I said. He chuckled, "I know." he said. Right after he said that, this car we passed by attempt to come to life! But failed! It was Brother Weed! He had come to assist! But, his car just died... hahaha! It's pouring rain, the wind is howling, and the car is dead. He needed a jump, so we run back to the family we were eating with: no cables. So what do we do? Yup, what missionaries do best! We went door to door! We came up to this guy who was in his garage working on his car, he looked up at us and said: "No time, not interested!" We said: "No no, we are just wondering if you have jumper cables" he says: "No time, not interested, busy busy!" and turns away and sends us off. Wow! So now we have to start knocking! Most people would see the tags and start to close the door, and we go "no no no! We just want to know if you have jumper cables!" Door after door, nobody had them. I bet they did, they were just scared of that as a conversation starter... anyways, finally found a family that did (we'll eventually go back to "repay" them with the gospel haha ;)) and we got Brother Weed's car started again, and got to where we needed to be, 45 minutes late. You would think that they woulda cancelled, well, no. They still wanted us! And you would think that the whole lesson would go to pot right? Nope! It was amazing! They had a T.V. show they love to watch at 8, so we had "only 15 minutes" they said. But we end up catching up with them for that time. Ah! Wasn't watching! So Michael says: "It's 8, cya later!" and we panic, and we end up getting to share our very short lesson. It's an object lesson involving a balancing act with 3 knives and 3 cups, we use it with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Proper Authority, well, as soon as we ask for the cups, Michael gets them brings them in. We ask him if he wants to do it, immediately he says: "I know what this is" we're thinking: no way he knows this, he hasn't been to church in YEARS. But before he even lets us explain, he gets right to it! Sets is all up in 2 seconds flat, and speaking very quickly, describes it as the Godhead, and how the three of them work together, 3 separate beings, but one in purpose! Then he says, without one of them the whole thing falls, and kicks everything out from under it (mind you, my scriptures are on those knives and just fell) and then he turns and walks out of the room. We both had to catch our jaws. He just schooled us. Taught us a lesson. We were speechless. He comes back in laughing, and sits down. Trying to save our sinking pride ship, I say: "well, we were going to use it as x, y, z, but that works too" (x, y, z being the Gospel and what I said earlier mind you) But overall, the lesson was amazing, and we ended up chilling with them til 8:40ish, so they missed their show, but they didn't care, they kept talking to us! It was incredible! Michael was on fire with his quotes! And yesterday (Sunday 11/24) his mom said that he was excited for us to come over, and that this girl he is crazy about is a member and is in seminary, and if she ever invites him, he'll go! It's insane the change that is happening in him! Under NO circumstances tip him off that we know what's going on! haha, it's great! He has stopped swearing in front of his mom, AND hugs her again. No, way! He even goes and just talks to her sometimes. We learned some things about his family that make this change even more miraculous, with how his parent's relationship is, and what was said and done to him when he was younger. I love this kid! As I said in my very very first letter, when I walked into that house, I knew everybody already, it is crazy, but I feel very strongly that I was meant to help teach and re-activate them! They are so fun to teach and get to know! I definitely know I was destined to re-meet them. I'd like to think I knew them in the Pre-mortal existence and they said to me: "Hey, we might struggle down there a little bit, could you come and help us when we need it?" And here. I. Am. I hope that I can be that help, and that I can be that instrument in the Lord's Hand to help rescue these people! I hope that the experiences I've had in my life and the spirit can help me touch this young man and his family!

Speaking sunday a little bit, this random dude shows up and sits next to me before I had even gotten there. I had set up my bag and stuff, and when we come in, there he is, Robert, in a hoodie and jeans, sitting right by my seat. Odd, considering the vast number of seats. We got to know him real fast-- he likes to talk-- and learned that he lives in our area, and some other missionaries in another ward have been bringing him to their ward. We confirmed the address too, he is well in our area. The other missionaries were POACHING! Good Ghandi! :D I don't know why he came to our building, but he told us that he had looked it up, and liked our building more, and it was closer. He wants us to start teaching him, and it's funny really. His wife is Catholic, and DOESN'T want him looking into the church, even though he knows its the right thing, so, he knew that she sleeps in on Sundays, so he came to our sacrament meeting at 9 so she would be asleep.... sneaky... probably not the best for the marriage though, but who am I to talk! Either way, I don't know what these other missionaries in Rock Creek were thinking and doing, buuuut it'll all work out!

So we had exchanges on Tuesday! I stayed in my area, and Elder Peterson went to be companions for the day with Elder Peterson, our district leader. So it was Peterson and Peterson. I had the District leader's companion. Who has had bad experiences with trying to knock his companions off of bikes, and confuse them, so I did NOT want him to ride Elder Peterson's bike, for fear of myself getting knocked off and Elder Peterson's bike ruined. But the last time he tried to confuse somebody, he bit the dust hard and cut up his arm, so I had faith that HE would be the one hurt if he tried anything. But anyways, no bikes, so I walked him ALL over the area! It was a lot of fun! Ish, not a lot of success, and he and I are a lot different. He apparently has 6 golden retrievers back home, was dear Johned by his girlfriend who is now dating an All-American football star. He played football and says he got a scholarship to BYU as a tight end, and graduated with his assoicates degree in fire science, worked as a fire-fighter, played X-box all day, but also was state champ in Wrestling. He also delivered a baby! I don't know what makes a guy like him tick, but oh well! It was interesting to get to know him! It was a good day full of exercise!

While on this exchange, we met with Nolan. Nolan hasn't been to church for 6 years, was never baptized, turns 18 in a month. Buuut last week, Nolan showed up to church. In a suit, of his own free will. His dad hates the church. No. Way! So we went and asked him about the spark, and he had gone to a stake dance, AND had recently picked up the Book of Mormon, and knew that he needed to be baptized and come back. He and his very active mother said that they wanted his dad to baptize him, so this past week they talked to the dad, and yesterday told me that the dad wanted nothing to do with the Church (the dad is RM by the way) and Nolan told him that he was getting baptize, whether by him or somebody else! So, Nolan still wants the discussions, and we are going to teach him. We hope the dad comes around and comes back, but he and his mom and family want him to learn, and he is pumped. The dad just said we have to do the lessons somewhere else, not in his house! He doesn't have a testimony of Tithing! He thinks the church is just after his money! But if you don't pay in faith, then of course you're not blessed, you know, he that giveth a gift grudingly, the same is as if he never gave it, type of thing. So while teaching Nolan, his dad may realize that. Who knows, one can only hope and pray! Oh, and the first day Nolan came back to church, a young man we have been teaching got the priesthood. Seeing the support from all the young men went a long way for Nolan I think.

We had dinner with a family yesterday that has a son named Dylan. Dylan is basically me. At least, who I used to be: still not eagle, procrastinator, and does a lot of the things I used to do. His parents were chewing him out at the table about the things he had not yet done. They were mad that he hadn't done his homework for tuesday yet (it was sunday), that his BYU application wasn't in, that he didn't have his eagle yet, and that he didn't write his missionary friends as much as he should. Everything they said hurt me too. So the both of us kept wincing. It felt like they were speaking to me! I had heard all that before! And Dylan's answers were EXACTLY what I said! Yeesh! So, eventually after talking about it for awhile and asking me questions, I laid out that Dylan and I were alot alike, and we compared circumstances, and now he knows a lot about how to overcome these things, and he had BOTH of his interviews for his BYU application THAT night. Booyah! He is well on his way! He turns 18 in August though, so he has more time to procrastinate haha ;)

So.... guess what happened on sunday? Yup, my 2nd time singing in front of the mic. Yup, they had the missionaries sing in church. the 4 of us. Smallest group I've ever been in in front of a group. A Big group. And my voice quality has made leaps and bounds since I've left, and it sounded REALLY GOOD! I didn't miss a note, despite it being almost 2 octaves higher than mine AND Elder Peterson's talking pitch for the day, I think Sister Pauga (from Austraila) got us sick! We were coughing ALL morning. It was really good! And somebody told us we sounded like David Archuletta! So either they are trying to make fun of us because it was so bad, or it really sounded good. There was a section where the voice coming out of my throat was NOT my own. Crazy! Like it was, but something else was there! It sounds crazy, but maybe some of you have experienced it before. It was by far one of the best performances I've ever been apart of in that small of a group. It certainly makes me shake my head at the terrible way I sang at my farewell haha! Oh man! I got to practice the piano for the part, and now I love the piano. One of my biggest regrets in life is not having taken piano lessons. Who knows, I know my stuff, so lessons won't do me any good, I just need practice, but that is hard to come by out here! Either way, it was a lot of fun teaching my companion about singing, and about music, and training him for the number, and it was even more fun and nerve wracking to perform it. We even got signed up to sing again!!

Also on sunday, in Priest's quorum, we went and did visits to the Priests who were not there, and I went to see Nate. Nate is a guy we have met with a little bit, and from what I have gathered, is addicted to League of Legends. I was able to relate to his interests more than any of the other missionaries who had spoken to him. It was great! We have read the book of mormon with him and committed him to read it during match-making search times in his game (it was the one he chose rather than reading right before he went to bed, because he would not only read more, but not fall asleep while reading), but I've been praying to try and figure out who would be the best young man to fellowship him. I didn't think anybody in the quorum had his interests, but guess who was assigned to go with me to Nate's house? A guy named Brad, and after explaining what i knew about Nate, I learned that he is way into the same game! And says he is really good! My prayer was answered, even if Nate's door wasn't. Ha! So when Brad gets on, he's gonna invite Nate to play with him, and they are both very good, so they'll have fun, and become friends, and maybe then Nate will start coming out to more meetings and start to want to come to church again. We'll see, it's a lot more complicated obviously, and you only have the Reader's Digest version, but Laura, I can't remember who your favorite character is, if you remind me, it'll start up another conversation with him.

Ok, I'm beginning to settle down and wind down this email, just a little more to go, so to those still reading, endure! These last parts are funny!

First off, on Wednesday, there was an etiquette dinner for mutual that the missionaries were invited to. So of course we went, and everybody played basketball afterward. Not everybody. Not Damian. Damian is a priest who isn't that into sports, and claims to be terrible at basketball, even if it is speed. But anyways, he arm wrestles. And apparently has beaten everybody in the Priests quorum with 3 exceptions of men who are a good foot taller than me with arms the size of my thigh! But even then, they almost lost! Some big gorillas even lost! Seriously, this little guy was invincible, had beaten all his leaders save one, and only his older brother who plays football, and Eli (massive sucker) could beat him. But don't get me wrong, there are big guys in his quorum who couldn't beat him. And I've been getting bigger since I've been out here, and I've only arm wrestled twice, so when I stopped playing basketball and talked to him, he challenged me. Of course, being a man I accepted. and he brought out a table, placed it in the middle of the gym, and got down. Everybody was still playing, but after seeing the table, and the Elder kneeling with the priest. Everything stopped, and a crowd gathered around (Oh boy! pressure) Now, before continuing, understand that this was my 3rd arm wrestle in my life. I did it twice as a deacon, but being scrawny and in-experienced, didn't want to do it anymore. So, now continuing. the table is set, and he puts his arm and inch away from his end of the table. No way, I tell him to do it in the middle, but then upon clasping arms, he bends my wrist funny, but I thought I was doing the same to his (nope) Anyways, the odds are still in his favor, this guy has way more experience than me, and is in a better position and has rendered my arm to a different angle of rotation. The call to arms is called and the wrestle begins. Nothing. He starts pushing and I just smile. Our arms start shaking, but nothing is going anywhere. In fact, I start pushing forward. But, I was told after (this is for those of you who don't arm wrestle) that when pushing them down, the procedure is to bring your hand in towards you, so their arm bends in closer to you, if you know what I mean. Buuuut I didn't know that, so I'm pushing away from my body, so there comes a point when the main muscle groups in my arm are no longer being effectively used, and i'm pushing him a direction your body naturally doesn't want to go, so rather than getting easier the more you push, it got harder and harder. So we are sitting at this point on his side, but it locks up. I feel like such an idiot now, but he recovers and it's back to ground zero. My shoulder is now burning. But I let no sign show. The crowd is bigger now, and it is pretty insane. He pushes and moves me down and pushes me back, but I force him back up and return on his side. Totally coulda been narrated like a race or something (ok not really). But this has gone on for a long time, and my muscles weren't used to it (so yeah, he was better) so eventually I left out a roar and push, and got him pushed back, and riled the crowd up (it was rather funny) but, I gave out, and told him to finish me, I was weak! So, after another couple of minutes, I was defeated! So, it was pretty dramatic, but, I'm going to beat him before I'm transferred! He's very sneaky! Anybody know good tactics! Should I try moving his wrist down like mine was? Did that even do anything? I have no clue! Either way, everybody was estatic that he had beaten me, and it was pretty humiliating, but oh well! It's humility that allows you to grow and improve. But if I have to become the size of a tree before I can beat him then I don't know if I ever will! He's considered invincible, and nobody faces him anymore :P It's really weird! He's not even big! Incredible, just incredible! But seriously though, I'm looking to beat him. What should I do?

Last but not least, I want to talk about Tyson's kids. We had dinner with them, and one little girl poked my hand, I pulled it away and said ouch. Suddenly they ALL attacked me, and flocked over, and kept trying to poke my hands, all these little kids. Totally felt like being with the in-laws or the other little kids I used to hang out with, but it was one of those facepalm moments *facepalm* "all it takes is once" and they wouldn't leave me alone! It was too funny to poke the Elder's palm! Even if my fists were balled they would "pry" them open. So, even as a missionary, I still get picked on by little kids ;)

That's pretttttty much it :) Have a great Thanksgiving Everybody! It'll be my first away from home, so make it great! :)

-Elder Wilkinson

Questions for Elder Wilkinson and his answers:

Did you get GP's package? What did he send?
Yes! It was terrific, I gave the Carstens the Present he sent to them, but they couldn't handle the suspense for more than a few hours, so they opened it, andthursday night we got to use it because they were so excited!

How is it getting up at 6:30 everyday? Are you doing better? Do you get to sleep in anytime?
We actually get up at 6:15 in this mission! It was easy at first, new place, new people, but once I get used to it, it became harder, but we had only been using the phone, so I plugged in the sonic bomb across the room, so I have to leap off the top bunk to turn it off, so that has made it easier.

Do you cook at all?
Only lunch, but that is simple stuff. Had to cook dinner once, but I'm a simple guy, so I made like a hot dog or something, next dinner I have to make for myself will be GP's mac and cheese! Then I'll look into Rebekah's recipes she sent me.

do you get any regular mail- snail mail?
I do get a hand written letter once a week, from Rebekah :) She and I have been writing back and forth. But other than that, nah :) Nothing besides the packages, which I love, and so does everybody else!

Are you use to going to bed early? Are you always tired tired when you go to sleep? or are you awake for awhile?
I am exhausted by bed time, there was a week when I would go to bed an hour early! I'd get home, plan, write in my journal, and hit the hay by like 9:20-9:30, bed time isn't til 10:30, but what else was there for me to do besides talk? Nothing. I find myself waking up still tired too sometimes, so sleep is definitely a gift! But there has only been once that I have had trouble falling asleep, that was on exchanges this past week, which I'll get to in my weekly email!

What do you do on Mormon.org? do you do facebook too yet?
Our mormon.org time is where we familiarize ourselves with the sites layouts, watch mormon messages, and get to know the site well enough that if somebody asked us about where they could learn more, or asks about it in general that we can help them out. We will do facebook eventually, we have started the weekly surveys that go towards qualifying a mission for that.

What have you learned about yourself since you left?
Not really sure! I learned that when I get excited obviously I talk faster, but people actually want to hear what I say sometimes. So I am working on keeping all my emotions in check. I've learned that when I realize a mistake, I get all worked up about it. For instance, If I said the wrong thing to somebody, or didn't follow a prompting, it's really heart-breaking, but you gotta just keep trying to improve!

Do you know when transfers will happen? if so when?

There is one Dec. 3, it is when one of my zone leaders goes home, and one of the sister missionaries in my ward leaves too. There is another transfer in January, and I might leave this area then? I don't know, it's tough to say! We will have to see what happens! There is a transfer every six weeks. Elder Peterson thinks I'll be here in January, and that he will be the one to leave, who knows though! :)

Stars from Braden?
I was on the bottom bunk in the MTC, so no :( and because I'm living in a members home I haven't quite yet, but they have hearts all over the room -_-, so I will hang them up.