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! :)
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.