Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 18, 2014

Lemme tell ya, chicken foot sure is not the most delicious thing in the world either. It´s been going well for me so far as zone leader. I´ve read in the Church Administration handbook about Gospel leadership, plus our Missionary Handbook, which is the little white book of all the mission rules that we keep in our shirt pocket, has a great section on how missionary leaders can be successful. It uses a lot of scriptures to show us how we can lead as Christ leads. I like the assignment a lot. I thought earlier in the mission that there was no time for anything, but as a zone leader, I have come to realize that a ton more. I told an Elder in my zone the other day, a friend that I had met earlier in my mission, that there isn´t even time to use the bathroom! We have such a busy schedule that there are few moments to stop and think or write in the journal, and often times, using the bathroom makes you late to some kind of meeting or activity or visit. But I kinda like it. I feel very exhausted every night and very accomplished, like I did a lot of meaningful things during the day. One part of the missionary handbook that I love is that we, as leaders, need to "minister", but also "administer". The first has to do with personal relationships, loving others, serving them, being a friend, etc. The second has to do with more business-like matters, like reimbursements, reporting statistics, and carrying out the mission president´s, and the Lord´s, vision for the mission. I´m learning a lot and enjoy the challenge. The leadership assignments that I have received up until now in my mission have all helped me to be a way better missionary, because I have no choice but to be good, obedient, I have no choice but to apply the principles of Preach My Gospel, and I have an obligation to set an example in many ways to other missionaries. Leadership assignments have saved me as a missionary! Not that I would have been a disobedient, horrible missionary if I hadn´t been assigned as a leader, but in my weakness of faith, I probably wouldn´t have learned as much or grown as much. And I still have another year! At the beginning of the month, there was a leadership meeting for all the zone leaders in the mission. It´s a monthly thing where the President asks us how we can solve problems in the mission, and how we can elevate our visions and expectations. When I got there, I saw a friend of mine from the very beginning of the mission. I actually met him on the plane from LAX to Peru. When I saw him right before that meeting, he came up to me and said, "Congratulations! You made it!", as if being a zone leader were some prestigious club, and as if entering is a stamp on your reputation as a "good missionary." I choose not to see it that way. I´m glad that the leadership assignments haven´t gotten to my ego. I´m very thankful for them, and I don´t measure success based on how I´m assigned. There are many unsuccessful zone leaders in the mission, and in the world. Our pensionista has a son who recently got home from his mission, and he was a zone leader. However, I can tell that his mission didn´t change him. He still has no desire to serve the Lord. All he learned on his mission was a few scriptures that he can use to deeply offend people. He never wants to accompany us on visits, he doesn´t want to strive in his calling, etc. I´m so glad I can see that terrible example. I want to be a missionary for the rest of my life! I don´t want to go home and be like that. I´m praying that the Lord will help me keep the missionary mindset after the mission and forever. 

I also love the freedom that I have now haha. It´s true that there are a few more things that we can do, like go to other missionaries´ houses when we see fit to do inspections and study with them and see how we can help them. The President leaves a lot of missionary administration in our hands, and I love it. However, I won´t put my foot on a pedal for another year. That´s alright though, my legs are gonna be stronger than yours when I get back, so I´ll be able to take you out. 

Something Shawn Bennion told me before my mission was: "A leader is someone around whom everyone flourishes. Be a leader, even if you don´t have a title." 

I don´t know if I really have questions for you. Honestly, just your motivational letters help me a ton. I usually share them with other English speakers. I had a companionship exchange with one of the assistants this week, and I took advantage of that cool opportunity to see how the mission runs. I asked him a ton of questions, and he appreciated my hunger for knowledge. He even said that that is something that many people in the mission lack: that drive to learn and improve. I said to him, "I have one year in the mission. I´m a zone leader. What advice to you have for me." I liked what he said. He said that we can´t push other missionaries, nor can we drag them. We must guide them by setting a good example and being a true leader, instead of scaring them of guilting them into doing better. We must inspire them. I liked that a lot. 

Thanks for your letter dad. And if you´re not already, can you send the letters that you send to me and the ones I send to you? These are things that my son will see someday when he´s on his mission. IF you save them...

Elder Wilkinson 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 4, 2014

I want to fly home with all the missionaries from my group and we can return a little later. I did wash a cat. There was a couple walking in the street and that little cat was following them but he wasn´t theirs, so they saw us and said, "Do you want this cat? He isn´t ours!." And I said, "Absolutely!!", so we put him in my companions backpack so people wouldn´t hear him screaming all the way home, and when we got there, he was covered in poop, so we gave him a bath, which he didn´t like. But I liked it. I loved it, in fact. I have a lot of videos to show you guys when I go home, most of which involve cats.... And yes, it is custom to burn a shirt at your one year mark. I did get transfered. I am in the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission, and after one long (but short) year, I have finally been put in the actual city of Santa Cruz. My companion is Elder Hammond from Sandy Utah, he has 21 months in his mission. It´s my first time being junior companion since my training. He is way funny, and just one week before the transfer, a friend of mine, Elder Jones, said to me, "You should be companions with Elder Hammond! You guys are like the same person!" We´re both blond and tall and goofy, we get along great. I´m learning a lot from him, and I feel a special power when we teach lessons.
- Dad, I never wished you a happy birthday. I knew it was your birthday that day, I even wrote it in my agenda, but I didn´t say anything. Happy birthday! I love you
- I got to my new area in Santa Cruz this week, and since I´m a gringo, me and my companion decided to pull a joke on some people in the ward. When I met them, I pretended not to be able to speak Spanish very well. I met the ward mission leader, and my companion told him I was new, and I just pretended to be really confused and struggling. He said to me, "I know you´ll be able to speak real soon Elder, don´t worry too much," which I pretended to not understand. Then, during our meeting with him, the Bishop and the other missionaries, me and my companion started to give a report of the work for the week, and I began to speak totally normally about all the people that we had visited those last few days, and we acted as if nothing was wrong and everything was normal. He was so confused, it was hilarious.
- I am no longer a fan of casual clothes. I prefer to wear a shirt and tie than a t shirt and shorts. I´ve just gotten so used to it that that is what I´m comfortable in.
- In my new house here in Santa Cruz, I saw in the corner a bunch of binders with titles that said, "Libro de Mormón, Parte 1" and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5, with thick pages of white paper. I knew instantly that that was the Book of Mormon in Spanish in Braille. I have a picture, but I´ll send it later!
- My Bishop told us to tell our parents hi for him, and that he´s very thankful that you have sent a pair of missionaries who are willing to work hard for his ward.
- If there was one thing I regret in regards to my mission, it would be that I didn´t pay for it. My advice is that you would see if that would be a good idea for Lane. That will make his experience even more special for him.
- In the same way that Mormon couldn´t write a hundredth part of all the plates that he was to abridge, I can´t tell you guys even a small fraction of the amazing things I see and feel every day, but know that I´m having an amazing experience in my faith and testimony of the Gospel. The mission turns mere faith into a testimomy, and perhaps a mere testimony into the beginnings of a conversion.
- At my setting apart, dad said that the one thing he loves more than raising his little kiddies and making memories with them is seeing them become adults. I realized while we were teaching a lesson, while we were talking about how much God loves us, that Heavenly Father feels the same way for us! We were little kids, and what he wanted, and wants, is that we become like Him. That we "grow up", that we go away and learn for ourselves through experience. It's cool to see that parallel between my two fathers.
I love you mom!
Elder Wilkinson
p.s. My wish list is: a photo album of you guys full of photos that you see fit to include, like memories of us, family vacations, and other memories, a Super Nova frisbee (and I´m serious about the brand, go big or go home), a TON of sour patch kids, Young Coconut, girl scouts Samoas cookies, and a little bitta luuuv :))))))