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Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 2013

Mom,
What up, girl? How you doin? I think you´ll probably send me a letter the moment I leave this internet cafe, so I´ll get it next week haha. But I hope everything is well. Everything is good here. Here are some notes I put in my agenda during the week of things I wanted to tell you guys:

- Yesterday, we were sitting in sacrament meeting, crazy bummed out because we had called and invited and passed by everyone to help them to come to church. And we were sitting there, and not a single one came. Such. A. Bummer. So we were in really bad moods trying to lighten up, and while we were singing the sacrament hymn, we see through the window of the chapel one of the less active members that we are working with, walking toward the chapel. But he has a limp, so he was walking like super slow motion, and because we were so bummed out, seeing him come all slow motion toward the chapel was like the most heroic, dramatic thing ever, it was so awesome haha. It was a movie. My life is a movie.
- I realized this week, that I´m simply happier in the poorer neighborhoods in our area. Like where we live, its like not so ghetto. But off in the boons, there are adobe houses with like an outhouse, and I seriously love it. It´s easy to get discouraged in the city, but out in the subs, I´m so happy. It looks like Nacho Libre out there. I realized that adobe makes me happy. Like it legit just makes me smile when I see it. I wish we lived in an adobe house. Maybe someday.
- Tess, look up the poem called "Day Old Child", and if you can´t find it, email me personally about it and I can get it to you. It applies perfectly to you and Conrad.
- I´m starting to learn how to give my will to the Lord. And it makes itself manifest when our computers here don´t work, and we only get like a half hour of writing time, instead of an hour and a half. You guys know me, I used to FLIP out, like road rage status. But now I´m like super chill and I say to myself, "God, if you don´t want me to write to my family this week, for whatever reason, that´s okay with me. I want what you want." I have a study journal, and on the front it says "My Doctrine and Covenants", because its full of little revelations that I recieve during personal study time, when I study the scriptures. And every day, when I finish reading, I put a "Application In My Life Today" section, and the other day, I wrote in that little section, "Give it all to the Lord, Ryan. Just give every bit of it to the Lord, and hold nothing back."
- I had been thinking about that a lot this last week, because my companion and I had a really awesome conversation while walking. We were talking about how DANG. HARD. it is to serve a mission, and we were talking about why we would have it no other way. We were talking of the blessings that come and will come, and we realized that there is nothing better than a mission. Nothing requires so much faith, and so it´s such a good environment to develop that faith. And therefore, we talked about putting our trust in the Lord, how we´ve both had to do it. And how you can only serve a mission correctly if the Lord´s will is more important to you than yours. Or rather, if your will becomes the Lord´s will.
- When we two tall gringos get on the bus, its the funniest thing to see all the confused faces. "What the heck are you doing here?" is what they seem to say. - My companion got bit by a dog two weeks ago, and we´ve had to go to the hospital, get shots, painfully clean it out, etc. because of the rabies risk...... And it was my fault the dog bit him... We were walking through a pack of calm dogs when I made a "Tssss" sound, and they all got up and attacked my companion....teehee

That´s all for today, I love you all. Stay classy, San Diego.

Elder Wilkinson

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013

All ye who are loved by me,


How´s it goin, y`alls? Hope it's going well for everyone. So transfers were last week, and I got a call on Monday night from my zone leaders. They said, "Elders, we have good news, especially for you, Elder Wilkinson. Tomorrow, meet us at the airport at 4:00pm. You´re going to Santa Cruz to pick up the Elder you´re going to train." So I did all dat, went to Santa Cruz, had a training for trainers, and now I'm training a new Elder named Elder Bailey, from Ogden, Utah. He´s really awesome, and we're gonna learn a lot together. His weakness is the language, so I think he got paired with me for a reason, because I have a pretty sound understanding of the language, and I can help him a lot with that. It feels really good to know that the Lord trusts me with training another Elder after such a short time being here. And now that I don't have a Latino companion, or even a companion that speaks Spanish, I have no choice but to take the initiative and talk to people. I didn´t know how much Spanish I knew until I HAD to use it haha, and I know a lot! Now, I´m praying a lot for the gift of interpretation of tongues and discernment so that I can understand people and understand their needs. But together, we speak a little bit too much English.  The opportunity is such a temptation, and we´re making goals to not speak English so that we can continue learning Spanish. We´re having a great time and working hard. Its so weird to be teaching lessons pretty much all by myself now. Until he learns a little more Spanish, he´ll being giving comments and testimony, but not full principles. 

So that´s my week. I´m also a lot more stressed now because I have to make sure we don´t fail haha, maybe that´s the senior companions job. But its daaaaang stressful haha. But at the same time, I love it a lot because I feel like I´m actually getting a lot done and helping a lot of people. When I went to pick up my new companion, we were all at a stake center in Santa Cruz, and my old companion walked in, because he had to come to Santa Cruz in order to go to his new area by plane. So I saw him one last time there, and HIS trainer was there, so he and his trainer, and my new companion and I took a picture or four generations of mission "fathers". That´s what we call trainers haha.

- There are dog skulls and cow spines all over the place here
- Dad, there are a ton of old Toyota Land Cruisers that look like FJs here, you'd love it. It´s like the Icon factory

This is such an awesome time in the world. Have you all realized that one year ago, the Lord lowered the missionary age? And now, He´s changing the way we do the work, and its so awesome to see this all happening! He is hastening His work with programs, councils, and inspiration through Bishops, Mission Presidents, and Stake Presidents. We had a training last night where all the Ward Councils in the Stake went (Tarija is only one stake), and so I sat with our ward council as we learned more about how we can effectively work together. I think only a missionary would be thrilled to watch a ward council training, and oooohhhhh was I thrilled haha.

That´s all the time I have. Dad, I wish I could work in your ward council with you. That would be unreal haha. So awesome! I love you!


Elder Wilkinson

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 11, 2013

Hey mom!
I don´t have much time to write this week, and the computer won´t send pictures today, but I have a list of the pictures I wanna send, so be expecting those in about the next year or so. 


This was a good week. You know, I've always been an arguer. You know that. In fact, you know that more than anyone else in the world haha. And I like to think I´m pretty good at it. But in Spanish, lemme tell ya, I do not win haha. I've learned that no one wins in an argument, because afterward, both parties are afflicted. I've been working on becoming more Christlike in that, when someone has a "suggestion" for me, or criticism, I actually listen. That wasn't the case before haha, I HATED criticism or being told what to do, but I´m working on accepting criticism and suggestions, even when they are very rudely given. This week, my lifelong gratefulness for my trials began. I realized that I would be a boring rock if I didn't have to endure trials. We all would be. It's the same principle that we wouldn't feel joy if we didn't feel pain. That´s why we have pain in life. In the same way, we can´t grow and learn if we don´t have opposition. We are so lucky to have trials, because without them, we would be nothing. The trick is to gain the Lord´s help in dealing with those trials. And that is done through a simple, fervent prayer. And continual prayer. I know that the hard things I have to face here will greatly bless the lives of many others through the course of my life. My friends, you guys, my future family, random people I meet, people I serve in the Church, etc. Many people will benefit because I've suffered a little, and that makes it so worth it.

Mom, can you give me some healthy eating ideas. I don´t really wanna get diabetes while I´m here. Dad, some exercise ideas please. Again, diabetes = sorta bad. If you haven't sent my packages yet, I also want a picture book of church paintings to use during lessons, and the book of church administration. Or send them for my birthday. Or have someone else send them. Or don´t send them at all. Whatever happens, its all good haha, not vitally important, but it would be nice. Thanks for everything, especially bearing the burden of having to know me! haha no that´s a joke. You guys love me. Can you tell me how other missionaries in our ward are doing?? I wanna know how my fellow servants are handling their responsibilities.


There´s a popsicle here that this lady makes, its just frozen milk and sugar, but I think there might be a little bit of eternal joy in there too. There is a drink called "jugo de sesamo" made out of sesame seeds. It tastes like liquid peanut butter, which gives me exceedingly great joy. I was listening to a song this morning, and its about José Smith (oh yeah, we say José Smith instead of Joseph Smith) and it talked about how the truth will fill the Earth, and I felt the Spirit so strongly when I heard that, because that line, along with many verses and prophecies in scripture, describes what I do every day here. I am sounding the Gospel in every ear, taking it to every kindred, tongue, and people. I am helping to fill the Earth with truth. The word awesome, even in the true sense of the word, greatly fails to describe how I really feel about my calling. We are so lucky to live in this time, in which the Gospel rolls forward, unstoppable, with increasing speed. 

Quiero testificar en mí nuevo idioma, y quiero que ustedes sepan, que yo sé que este Evangelio es verdadero. Mí testimonio crece cada dia, más y más, y yo estoy llegando a conocer Jesucristo. Esta obra es la obra de Dios, que nosotros llevemos a cabo "la inmortalidad y la vida eterna del hombre." Les amo más que puedo expresarme, en inglés o castellano, y estoy más que feliz que ustedes son bendecidos gracias al servicio que estoy haciendo cada dia. Nos vemos!

Elder Wilkinson

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013

Mom (and everyone), 
I'll send a picture of my little yellow room so you guys can see. The Lord humbles missionaries the moment they arrive so they won't be stupid haha, so that they realize that they can't serve their mission without Him. I'm glad He does that, and did that for me. Thank you for your letter mom, I'm glad to hear you're all doing well with everything. 


The address I gave you is wrong. The mailing address for packages is:

Misión Bolivia - Santa Cruz
C. Saavedra esq. Cochabamba
Torres CAINCO Piso 7 Of. 1 y 2
Telef. 333-7072 Fax. 222-7074
Casilla de Correo: 2024
Santa Cruz - Bolivia


I hope you didn't send anything already haha. On Saturday, we baptized Jorge Aramayo (Serrano) and yesterday he was confirmed. It was all a very special experience. It's so cool to see people change so drastically. We have an investigator named Edmundo. His family is Jehovah´s Witness, and we have been teaching only him, but his parents are totally okay with it. We taught him about the Restoration, and I honestly thought he was really uninterested for a few reasons that aren't important to say, but when we invited him to church, he said yes, like everyone does. But the weird thing is that he actually came! So he has been assisting the church for like a month, and Mutuals too! We don't even have to remind him to go, he goes on his own. Well we were talking to a teenager in the ward, and he told us that during church one Sunday, he asked Edmundo, "So when is your baptismal date?" Well we hadn't invited him to be baptized yet, so his response was, "I don't have one. But what do I need to do to be baptized?" When we heard that, we were super excited, but we didn't know exactly what to think of it. A couple days later, we stopped by his house to visit him. He answered the door and told us that he didn't have time right then, but we chatted for a few minutes at his door. We asked him if he had any questions about the Book of Mormon, the lesson we taught, or anything he had seen at church. He said, "Yeah, I have a question. What do I have to do to get baptized?" You can imagine our faces at that moment haha, well we told him that its a very important promise we make with God, and that really, all he has to do is learn more about the Church. He said, "Oh ok sounds good, because I wanna get baptized." Imagine the moment!! We were so happy! We hadn't even invited him! (Which we should have, but don't judge me, I´m still being trained) And even more, we have permission from his parents! That is the part we worried about most, but they said it's okay, and we're gonna ask them to sign the permission slip on Tuesday. How great though! During our lessons, you can so tell that he believes. It's amazing to see people accept the Gospel.


That's my story for today. Here are some things I thought of during the  week:

- I was thinking that, if I need too much stuff and am asking for too much, you could have other members of our family send it to me for Christmas too....
- On that note, I would love some Abercrombie and Fitch cologne haha
- I have a question for dad that I would really like a response to:
Dad, what can I do as a missionary to work with the ward and the Bishop more effectively? What do you want from the missionaries in our ward at home? Thanks!
- If you could send me a video (or have someone else send me) The Testaments in English, it would help a lot with proselyting and personal study and contacting ideas. Now that I think of it, send me everything in English and in Spanish haha.
- The weather is wacko here. The other day, we were walking in the heat on a cloudy day, and it started to hail, and the hail was the size of large grapes. And they hit me on the head, legit. And it hurt.

- I don´t know if you knew, but in Spanish, the Sacrament at Church is called The Holy Dinner, La Santa Cena. Pretty interesting.
- It is no longer called "Missionary Work", they changed it to "The Work of Salvation", because this work is not just for missionaries, it's for every member. So there are 15,000,000 missionaries!

I´m gonna send some pictures today! I love you all!

Elder Wilkinson

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013

Mom,
Thank you for your letter. I'm glad that everyone is doing well. I have been praying for you all individually and I'm not surprised to see that, yet again, the Lord has answered my prayers. 

I was thinking this week about a question that came into my mind: "Is there anyone in this world that isn't blessed?" Simply, is there anyone who missed the blessing train? Is there anyone with whom I talk that I can´t explain to them the ways that they've been blessed? I was thinking, and I decided that, no. There is no one that isn't blessed. The most persecuted and hated person in the world, the poorest and sickest, is blessed beyond imagination, because we have Christ. Christ is real, and because of that, His Atonement is real. If His Atonement is real, we can overcome all sickness and pain, all depression and heartache, all challenge and sin. We can, throughout the course of our lives, overcome these things, and as we consciously and actively work to do so, in the process we will come to know Christ. 

I've been thinking a lot about how we need our challenges to teach us things. That, even though some trails we face may seem unfair, and often times unbearable, they always pass, and we are always stronger afterward. For the last two months, I've been pretending in my letters that this is easy hahaha, I'm blowing my cover today to tell you that that is not the case. Every missionary goes into his mission knowing it will be hard, but before you arrive, you don't have the slightest idea. It's something you can really only understand if you have or are serving a mission. But it has to be hard! We, as missionaries will only learn superficial things if it were easy the whole two years. And we can't bear sincere, honest testimony of the Atonement of Christ, we cannot honestly tell people that we believe that He overcame everything for us, if we are not broken. We need to need the Atonement in order to preach of its reality. And if it´s hard, you know you´re doing something right. 

I'm learning so much! I wish I could explain every detail of it to you, but much of what I'm learning, you guys will have to hear about throughout the course of our lives together, after my mission. Dad, in three years, you need to be friends with my mission president. Nuff said. I learned the other day that the service I'm giving right now will bless millions. I am blessing millions of people. That is why they call being a part of the work of salvation a privilege. I am blessing you all, all the people I love, all the people I have left for this amount of time, I'm blessing the people I teach directly, but I'm also blessing their families, the people we baptize, we bless them, but we also bless their future spouses, because they will be so happy with that person thanks to the fact that they are a member of the Church. We are blessing other missionaries and many members here, we are blessing our future wives and our kids, because we are learning things that will be invaluable to them and their kids, and we are blessing ourselves. Our service here echoes in the eternities, that is why it is a blessing to be here. 

Okay, gotta finish up soon. Here are some things I thought of during the week:
- There is a drink here called Karpil, its a brand, its just fruit juice with milk, but it is in a little bag and you bite the corner and drink out of the hole you bit. Its fun, and its delicious. 
- I figured out that my haircut at home costs ten times as much as it does here. 
- I spent some time with my mission mom for like two hours this week, which will likely be the only time in my mission that I´m alone with a woman haha, and she told me that my Spanish is literally a miracle. Many many people tell me that I speak very well, and the fact that I've only been here two months is a miracle. The language is going very well, and when people tell me that, my confidence boosts and for some reason, I speak even better. I love Spanish, and I love to talk with people. I love people haha. I can talk about pretty much anything now. I'm not fluent, but define fluent. I can express myself and understand other people, aaaaaalmost fully. 
- The temple president, who is ending his mission this week, spoke at stake conference this weekend. His name is President Craig. I went up to him afterward to ask if he knows the Harrisons, and before I had time to finish my sentence, he said, "Very well!" They were in Cochabamba with him while he served there. Also, there is an elder in my district who´s ward they serve in. He knows them well.
- There are literally no driving rules here, and its insanely scary and thrilling at the same time. 
- I dream in Spanish now! My companion told me I even speak out loud in my sleep in spanish haha
- The President told me personally that I've connected the Spirit with the Spanish language, and that is why I can express myself well
That´s all for today. I love you all so much!
Elder Wilkinson


Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013

Mom (and everyone),
If you want me to buy a llama skin toward the end of my mission, I will gladly bring it home haha. Llama fur is insanely soft, I felt it in the airport in Lima two months ago. I only have one month left of training! I'm kinda bummed that they stole the nametag, because it was in Spanish. I´ll tell you about my home. It is a small apartment in the backyard of another home, owned by a baptist preacher, which is hilariously ironic. But we get along well, he´s very friendly. Almost everyone is. There are three rooms. A bedroom, where we have our beds and our ironing board. There´s another room for everything else, our books and desks, closets and all our clothes and suitcases, and little electric stove and little fridge. Then there is a bathroom. Its all insanely tiny, but its nicer than a lot of other missionary apartments here. Especially our bathroom. We have an electric showerhead, so luckily, we have hot water for showers. But not the sink. We have to boil all of our water. The bedroom and other room are probably 12 feet by 12 feet, and the bathroom must be 5 by 5. Its really small haha. The floors are tile, but many floors in houses here are cement. House layouts are totally different here. There aren't front yards, the door touches the street. But when you go inside, there is like a courtyard, and the house is based around the courtyard. There aren't inside halls. Oh, and our three rooms aren't connected. There isn´t a hall. Its only me and my companion in our apartment, but others are different. The zone leaders have a house, they´re so lucky haha. Like an actual house with two stories. I don't know how that happened. Some people have tiny little yards, but its no garden. Its a bunch of weedy grass with mounds of dog poop. 
 
I don´t know if I sent the picture of the Satan dog yet, but if not, I´ll send it today. I'm glad that everything is going well with the family, with the ward, and with the Elders there. I´ll be taking pictures of everything to send to you all! Thank you for your encouragement and advice. I print off your letters and read them throughout the week, every week.
 
I found out yesterday that I´m serving in the area that Ryan Garrett served in awhile ago! We eat lunch at the same house everyday, and we pay the lady who lives there to cook for us. And so I mentioned Elder Garrett to that family, and they said, “How do you know Elder Garrett?” And in that moment, I realized that the area Im in right now was part of the Bolivia Cochabamba mission when he served. So they know him. But even more than that, he used to sit in the same chair that I sit in every day to eat lunch. I seriously flipped out haha. The people here write in books of recuerdos. These books are like scrap books but you give it to someone else that you want to remember, and they make a page about themselves. Well they showed me his entry in their book, and there is a picture of him, so there´s no question haha. I thought that was so awesome. He probably knows a bunch of people in my ward. That was one of the highlights of my week. A few things that I thought of during the week that I wanna say:
- Here, it isn´t rude to point out acne. So everyone says, “Elder Gringo, you have a lot of acne.” And it drives me up a wall, but then they say that despite my acne I´m still guapo, so its okay.
- Tell Lane to start learning Spanish to get a headstart. There are a lot of goals that I have, that can´t be met until I am able to sufficiently express myself, so tell him to nip that bad boy in the bud.
- I was thinking this week about a letter that dad sent me, and I realized it would be the coolest thing in the world if dad and I could be mission companions. We´d take it by storm, nothin huge.

I´ll send some pictures today! I love you all, and I´m so glad everything is going well!
 
Ryan Wilkinson

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Write Ryan a Letter!

Hello to all of Ryan's loved ones!

I wanted to remind you to write Ryan a letter! You can write him a letter using DearElder.com (there's a tutorial here that explains how to do it) or write him a tangible letter (his mailing information can be found here).

Just a quick reminder, he is not the one who updates this blog. He does not have access to it, so if you comment on the posts, he does not get it. The best way to contact him is to send him a letter.

If you have a letter from Ryan that you feel you might like to share, send it to tesiahwilk@yahoo.com and I can post it to the blog (especially personal letters should remain personal).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 14, 2013

Mom,
Many of the front doors are not weather tight, but I meant the dogs stick their noses under the gate [he's talking about the dogs from this letter]. Every house has a wall around it. Mom, I loved Conference more than I can express, and I missed the first two on Sunday, so I need to read them too! That's so great to hear about Tess and Conrad and Henry. All my friends are telling me how cute he is, and I wanna cry haha, but I have a few pictures of him on my camera. Thank you for your letter mom, I print off the letters from you and dad every week to read them during the week and apply what you teach me. You both have taught me so much in my life, and I literally, LITERALLY, could not have been blessed with better parents. The mission is great for thousands of reasons: but one of them is that I'm realizing how intensely I've been blessed in my life. Missions make selfish Americans grateful haha, and for that, I'm grateful. Example one. But seriously, I'm even grateful to be able to ride the bus maybe once or twice a week. It is a tender mercy of the Lord that I get to ride a bus. 

I love you all, and the letter is short this week so that I can send pictures. 

Hasta luegito!

October 7, 2013

Mom,
I don't have an organized email with stories today, just a random list of things I want to tell you that I wrote up throughout the week. So here goes:
- No person, ever, has felt real joy unless they have been a missionary receiving an unexpected letter. (That's sarcasm teehee) 
- Everyone chews coca leaves here, which is an ingredient in cocaine. They seriously grab an handful of leaves and shove it in their mouth until they have a huge bulge in their cheek, and then they leave it there all day. It's hilarious looking, and the smell is out of this world disgusting. 
- Have you ever tried an Oreo? They´re delicious, and I think I'm addicted.
-I'm also addicted to Coca Cola, it tastes different an amazing here, and it makes me happy 
- When we are waiting at doors for people to open up, and their dogs stick their noses under the door, we give them a little kick in the face, because they throw temper tantrums and it's hilarious 
- The Bishop in my ward here looks like a Bolivian version of dad, which is too perfect to be coincidental
Mom, I sent a few messages to dad that you can read. I love you, and hope you enjoy these quirky bullets haha.
Ryan Wilkinson 

September 30, 2013

Querido familia,

Thank you for your letter. I LOVE what you said: "If it matters to us, it matters to Him and so He helps us with the parts of our mortal life that really have nothing to do with eternity because He loves us." I love this because my testimony of prayer is augmenting my the hour, and with this change in my life came the realization that GOD WILL BLESS US WITH ANYTHING WE ASK FOR, assuming those things are righteous. I have been asking for His help, as I try to develop specific Christlike attributes, and He has helped me! Honestly, some people told me before my mission that they didn't want me to leave because I would change. I told them, "Oh no hush up chill out I'm not gonna change, stop worrying." But that isn't true. I will change more than I knew a person could change. 

Although my charge is to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, and although I'm a teacher, I'm still learning, and my conversion will forever be occurring. 

I want to tell you about one of our investigators, or someone that is interested in learning about the Gospel. His name is Jorge. This is a man, whose entire family are members of the Church, except for one son (who we are also teaching), but none of them go to Church. They have more or less abandoned the one thing that brings the most joy in this life. Really, its ironic. Even though I can't speak the language as well as I would like to, I can tell that my emotion and my excitement, the joy I find in the Gospel, is naturally manifested in the things I say and do, and I'm always trying to make others as excited as I am that they have the truth of Jesus Christ in their lives. Honestly, they're lucky to have it! But they forget. And so this man, Jorge Serrano, has an interesting situation. He was riding his motorcycle drunk one night in the beginning of this year, and he had an accident. Ironically, he is a police officer. But anyway, it's been months, but now, he is not in full health. His body is weak and skinny, he walks and talks VERY slowly, so slowly that even I can understand what he says haha (when he doesn't start to slur his words). He wasn't a respectable man before. But since his accident, he wants to change his life. 

While he was in the hospital in La Paz, he talked with some missionaries. And he knew that his wife was a member of that Church. So he wanted to learn more. So we went to house to talk to him (we had already been teaching his son who isn't a member), and sat down. We were asking him some questions about himself just to learn about him, and he got REALLY mad, only with words, because he cant move very quickly. He told us that we aren't police and that we cant ask him so many questions. As missionaries, it is under our jurisdiction to discontinue talking with people about the Gospel if we feel they aren't progressing toward being baptized, or if we feel they are uninterested. So we did that with him. We thought, "Well he just doesn't want to hear this, so we need to stop meeting with him." Although we love all people and want every single soul we see to hear this message, we had to make a tough decision. So we put him in the Old Investigators category, to be sought out by other missionaries later. But we continued to teach his son. So we went to the house one day but his son wasn't there. He and his wife were, so we chatted with them for awhile. We ended up giving them a lesson, and he kept telling us that he wants to change his life and start making good decisions. After we talked for awhile and felt the Spirit strongly together, he agreed to be baptized. Yesterday we were talking with him again, and we said to him, "We know that these things are true. For this reason, we are here, because this joy needs to be shared with all of Gods children. And we want you to know that these things are true." And, that moment, what he said to us in that moment honestly changed my life. He said, "I already know that these things are true." I swear I heard angels cheering. There just isn't anything else, in the world or in the imagination, quite like hearing those words, or quite like knowing that you helped someone find the truth. I will send pictures of him at his baptism after October 26th. 

My whole life I had a hard time believing in miracles. I knew that Christ had performed miracles. But I didn't ever see anything that made me believe it in my heart. But yesterday, I witnessed a miracle. And we see them every day. When you choose to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you see miracles every day. We are  witnesses of miracles. I'll be honest, I am lousy at Spanish. But in lessons, I speak like I've been speaking for years. Only in lessons. Miracle. There is a promise in the Book of Mormon that says something like, "If you read this book, and you hear about this Gospel, you WILL know that it is true, by the power of the Holy Ghost. But, you must ask God, with true intention, actually wanting to know." I have done this. And I have received an answer. And really, I re-receive that answer every single day of my life, without fail. Miracle. Miracles surround us, they are in the tiny details of your everyday life. We need to choose to see them. The Lord answers prayers. Ask him any question you have, any question of the soul, and He will give you an answer. 

Ok goofy time. There are dogs here. Possibly more dogs than humans. I can honestly say after having thought through the honesty of this statement, that I have not walked down one single street here, in more than a month, without seeing at least one dog. They're crazy dogs. Sometimes they almost kill us, to be quite honest, but I swing my scriptures at them and they flee. The Word of God is a powerful thing. 

I love you all!
Elder Ryan Wilkinson 

PS - Oh and quick victory story: this morning, I ate an empanada from a street vendor because I felt like doing something stupid, and it's been like three hours, and BOOM, no diarreah. I'm all good down here in the South, stay classy.

Love love love,
Elder Wilkinson 

Some pictures from Elder Wilkinson!








September 16, 2013

Mom,

Thank you for your letter! You should know that I cry every week during letter time, without fail haha. My nephew`s name is Henry! I love it! Things are crazy here, as always. You know, it really isn't unlike Nacho Libre here, there are some areas that are straight from that movie haha. But I'm working hard (believe it or not, Dad), harder than ever. You wouldn't believe the amount of walking we do. I bet it's ten miles a day. The Spanish is coming well, always getting better, and learning more and more each day. I know the Gospel very well, but my thoughts and my teaching strategy aren't organized at all, so that´s what I've been working on. The weeks fly by! I'm over my sickness, and can eat normal food again, which is a blessing haha, I got really tired of crackers. We have lots of investigators, and a man that should be baptized in about three weeks. I don't have much time today to tell you about my week, but know that it's going well and that I love you all!

Elder Wilkinson

Ryan got typhoid fever and didn't tell our mom until a couple weeks later, when he was all better. When he refers to his sickness, that's what it was.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 2, 2013

There was no letter last week because Ryan was transferring from the MTC to his first area.

Hey mom,
Wow it has been a crazy week. I am in Bolivia now, in an area called Tarija, GoogleMap and Image it! Its the poorest place I've ever seen, and the Church doesn't hold back from sending us right into the middle of it haha. My house is a tiny bedroom, a tiny, filthy bathroom, with a shower that has no curtain, and with water that turns off at night, and one more room with our closets, desks, books, at tiny stove. I eat frozen tuna and bread for breakfast. The lifestyle change has been insane, and honestly extremely scary haha. We walk everywhere, hours and hours a day. My trainer is named Elder Bahamonde, don't pronounce the H, and he is from Lima. He speaks a tiny bit of English, but I would safely assume that of all the words I speak during the day, maybe 3 percent is English. I'm starting to think in Spanish, and I'm starting to forget English! haha Its so crazy and awesome how quick it has been for me. 

We have taught some families, and had some really special experiences. The members here are so awesome, I love them so much. They had me bear my testimony in church yesterday, and I did pretty well. I made them laugh by making fun of my Spanish, and there's nothing that calms nerves more when you are speaking in public than making them laugh haha. Its been fun! I'm a little sick, but not much. Just a cough. There are a few drinks here that are amazing. One of them is Mate, which is in the US, but its better and more organic here. The other is called Jugo de Pel�n, and its just water in which the Pel�n fruit has sat rotting for three weeks hahaha, its seriously my favie drink ever. Everyone called me Alto Gringo here haha, I'm taller than almost everyone I've seen. There are some hardships and challenges, ups and downs, but that's what I signed up for when I put my papers in. I knew it wouldn't be easy. Its helps to just have a good time while doing it. 

If you send me a package at any time 1) it will probably take three months, if it gets here at all, and 2) don't do it before I tell you what songs I want you to burn on a CD for me. I miss music so much. Like SO much. 

Bolivians are awesome. Its not what I thought it would be at all. People live very humbly here, but they don't like wear rags and stuff. They wear clothes, and they're very clean. I was just being stereotypical before haha. My trainer is an amazing missionary, and I'm so blessed to have been paired with him for the next three months. He thinks I'll be a trainer as soon as I'm done being trained, and I'm gonna be totally honest, I sure hope not haha, because that means I would be in this area for 6 months straight, and I need some mobility. But I will do that which the Lord calls me to do! Again, Google the heck out of Tarija, I want everyone to see what its like here. My ward doesn't have any piano players, so I'm gonna try to find some time to practice so that I can help them out. My president is so awesome. His name is President Willard, and he served his mission in San Fernando, CA. His wife is so sweet, and it makes me feel a little more at home when I talk to her haha. There's an accent in Santa Cruz where they don't use an s if it is at the end of a word. So tres dias would sound like tre dia. Oh, and I think I drank some of the water. 

Riding in a car is a treat for me here. Alright I gotta go, if you wanna know specific details and randomness, ask! I love you all so much, and if my prayers are being answered, you are all doing wonderfully! Les amo! Mucho amor! Chao! 
Elder Wilkinson 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20, 2013

Mom (and everyone else),
I only have a week left at the MTC! A week from today, I will be flying down to Santa Cruz, Bolivia to stay there for the next twenty two and a half months. Its such a cool feeling. I thought I would be fluent by the time I left the MTC, but that's just my over confident side kicking in (it does that a lot).  I still know SO much more than I did when I arrived, so I'm not worried at all. Honestly, I couldn't be less worried about not knowing Spanish haha, I know enough to understand what people are saying, and I can teach a little, and most importantly, I can bear my testimony. And that's all I need. The language thing here is all a mindset: if you let it freak you out, it will. But if you have the "I'm over it" attitude, and understand that you will get the language down eventually, your worries go away. And mine have. 

I get to go to the temple today, perhaps for the last time in two years. Hopefully not, but I'm really gonna soak it in. Going to the temple is so awesome, there's not place on Earth that compares to the temple. I never understood that. You know whats crazy? I miss Boston just as much as I miss home! Laying in bed last night, I was just thinking about how lucky and blessed I am to have been able to go there, to have lived on my own, and made the friends that I had. I'm so lucky that I was in the ward that I was in, and that I had the experiences that I had. Some Elders here aren't ready to be on their own because they just graduated high school and have never been away from home this long, but its so easy for me! Don't misunderstand, I miss home, and my family, and friends, and California, but its minimal, it doesn't stop me from working hard, and I don't dwell on it. Aside from the limitless Spiritual blessings that one receives from going on a mission, there are many physical and emotional blessings.  Many, almost all, the people I know in the US wouldn't be willing to put their iPhone and MacBook away for two years, and wake up at six thirty EVERY morning, and when I say every morning, I mean not a single morning in the entire two years do you sleep longer than that. Almost no one would be willing to give up those comforts, but the only night that was tough for me to give up those things, was when those things were available to me, but I couldn't use them because I had to follow mission rules, the night I was set apart. It feels good to not have all those things, and it will probably feel pretty good getting them back haha, I will be so much more grateful for all those things that we all take for granted. 

So we get along really well with the Latino Elders here, and we become really good friends with every two week transfer that comes in. Last transfer, we taught them how to say "Get that corn outta my face!" from Nacho Libre, which was obviously hilarious. We taught our teacher how to say "Obvi" which is also hilarious haha. Hey Kaddy, you know how you always say "Rico Suavé"? Well "suave" actually means soft and smooth, and so when people are speaking Spanish, describing how the Spirit feels in your heart, they say that it is suavé, and it makes me think of you every time haha. 

I have a teacher here, named Hermano Bejar, (Hermano is Brother), and he went on his mission to Guatemala, and I think he and I figured out that he left the MTC there one month before President Stimle arrived. So close! And he served around Lake Atitlan, like in Santiago and stuff. I'm sure mom remembers all those places. No one has a memory like Diane Wilkinson. It's really gonna be tough saying goodbye to my friends here, and the comfort of living a semi-American lifestyle haha. A week from today, its shacks and cots for me for quite awhile haha. But I couldn't be more excited. I'm not afraid of anything out here, because there is nothing to be afraid of. It's so exciting! There is a phrase we use in my district, which goes "Let the humbling begin!" and we usually say it before we go proselyting, because those are the moments we realize how little we know, and those are the times when we get discouraged, and so we came up with a catch phrase for it haha, Let the humbling begin! That isn't a bad thing though, the Lord teaches us some of the most important lessons in life shortly after He has humbled the heck out of us. 

So I don't know why anyone hasn't said anything about it, but am I an uncle yet? Is my sister a mother? Are my parents grandparents? I bought my little nephew a tie with the Lima temple on it, and a tiny little missionary name tag that says "Future Missionary", and I want pictures of him in them when I get them to you guys. 

Young Coconut. I'm not asking anyone for them, but if you sent me some, I would probably cry tears of joy. 

The weather has been so nice the past few days, probably like 73 degrees, completely sunny, and slightly breezy. Some days it is quite cold though. Not what I expected Peru to be like. Today, I'm shopping for the last time in Peru, for awhile, at least. Until we come back as a family a couple months after I go home. 

Hey Kaddy, quick question, and email me when you get the answer to this question, but is DearElder free? [YES, IT IS FREE] And can you send DearElders to missions too? [YES, YOU CAN SEND LETTERS TO THE MISSION] Thanks! I ran out of clean T shirts, so today I'm walking around in my shower sandals, some grey shorts, and a long sleeved collared white shirt with my name tag on it haha, business casual for the win. I got your package from Sister Goodfellow, thank you so much for sending that. That made my day. I opened it at the lunch table, and my whole district was swarmed around wanting to see what was in it and what everything was. It was as if you had sent my district a package, and we all got to enjoy it. And we are all gonna try to bacon toothpaste that you sent me, maybe tonight. For everyone reading this, if you are interested in writing me, I love pictures. Like of us. Pictures are the bomb. Just sayin. Every night when they read out names over the intercom of people who have gotten letters, we all listen anxiously to see if we got one haha, its so funny. I had no idea how much missionaries love letters. 

Ok, I gotta go now, but thanks to all of you who have been praying for me, and thinking about me. Quick story, whenever a missionaries name tag is starting to slide up out of his pocket, its said that someone is thinking about him. And either I'm a messy missionary, or some of y'all's been thinkin' bout me. Probably the first one, but that's okay! Haha anyway, I love you all, thank you, Mom and Dad, Tess and Kathryn, for all you do. ¡Buenos dias!
 
Elder Wilkinson

Just a quick reminder to all of Elder Wilkinson's friends and family, send him letters through DearElder so he has time to read them during the week! There's a tutorial here that shows you how to do it. It is totally free to send letters to him this way. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 13, 2013, plus pictures!

Hey mom,
I've been thinking and praying about Tess all week, I'm so excited for her! You guys will have to send me pictures of my little nephew, I'm so excited to meet him! In two years haha. 

Mom I'm so glad you mentioned Abinidi, because he is by far my favorite Libro de Mormon prophet right now. I was thinking he would be such an amazing lawyer, he completely owns and stumps King Noah and all his priests. It's like his words slapped them all in the face haha. I'll try again with the pictures this week. I'm gonna be totally honest with you, I was super depressed last Tuesday, because I sent such a short message and the pictures didn't work, and I remembered how you said you would cry if my letters sucked, and I was so worried because of that haha, but all this week I kept a flashcard in my shirt pocket with things I want to tell you all about, and of course, I forgot to bring it with me to the computer lab haha, but I'll bring it next week. 

Last Tuesday, some Elders in my district and I found a guitar shop and just played and sang together for like an hour. I didn't know how much I missed it until I did it, my calluses are coming off which is so depressing haha, but it's well worth it. I can regain them. Today we went to the temple for the first time in two weeks, because it was closed, and we were all so glad when we heard it was open again because there is such a sweet, peaceful spirit there that I didn't fully realize until today. 

I don't know if I told you, but the churros from the street venders here are celestial. I had three today, and they're huge haha. We went proselyting again on Saturday, and this time was totally different. Instead of pairing us up with Latino companions for the day, they sent me and Elder Bradshaw together, which was so scary, being two tall gringos who don't know any Spanish going out into Lima. But fortunately, last minute, they gave us a member from this area that obviously speaks Spanish. But he just stood behind us and only jumped in if we were crashing hard with the contact. I made a catch phrase for that day, and I hereby establish it as the catch phrase of my mission. It goes "Sin miedo!", which means "without fear", because it gave us courage to approach people even though we don't know Spanish. Let me tell you what is scary, walking up to somebody you don't know, in a place you don't know, not being able to speak their language, yet being expected to tell them about Christ. Its amazing, in the true sense of the word. 

So the first door we knocked on, this lady opened up a tiny little square in the door that she talked out of. I don't know if it's for safety or just for making whoever is at her door feel like she hates them. But we were talking to here, asking if she believes in Christ, and her kids pop out of the window, which has no glass, and scream, "Mam! Ustedes hablan ingles!" They were so excited to see white people, that the mom let us in, and we taught her and her three kids and her mother about what Christ did for them, which not many people fully understand, including myself. We taught her about John chapter 10 verse 16 talks about the people here in the Americas, the people that fill the Libro de Mormon. As we were teaching, the littlest kid, Juan Diego, started pulling my arm and playing with my watch. So after he nearly removed all of the hair on my arm, I took off my watch, knelt down by him, and put the watch on his wrist. He was seriously amazed, like more amazement that I've ever seen haha, it was so funny. And when we finished teaching them, and after they agreed to have the missionaries over again, he gave it back to me and we left. 

There were other people who hated that we were at their door. I had my first doors slammed in my face on Saturday. But it literally didn't discourage me at all. We walked up to a door that had a sticker that said, in Spanish, "We are Catholic, please respect our religion," and so we knocked on that door, with the intent of not disrespecting or changing their religious beliefs, but with completing it haha. And they didn't answer. People like us young white boys though, even if they aren't interested. People stare at us. I'm gonna try pictures now! Thanks for everything you do mom, and thank you everybody for your prayers! They mean more than I ever knew a prayer could! 

Hasta luego!



















Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How to send Elder Wilkinson a letter using DearElder.com

Because of the strictly limited computer time Elder Wilkinson has, he has asked that his friends send him actual mail or mail through DearElder.com.

He only gets 30 minutes of computer time each week, so if he has to spend all his computer time reading the emails he gets, he won't have any time left to reply. If you send him a letter through snail mail or DearElder, he'll receive the written letter in advance, have time to read it, and will have more time to respond to everyone.

So here are some directions on how to send him a letter through DearElder.com. If you would like to type and send a letter through traditional mail, you can find his mailing information here.

1. Go to DearElder.com.
2. Click "Write a Letter" at the top of the page.
3. Select Peru MTC under "Letter Selection" if it is before August 7th, 2013. If it is after that date, select Bolivia Santa Cruz (NOT Bolivia Santa Cruz North).
4. Follow the directions in the image below following the red arrows.


He loves the encouragement, so send him letters letting him know you're praying for him and you love him!