Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013

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 (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 and I can post it to the blog (especially personal letters should remain personal).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

October 14, 2013

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

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


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.