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Monday, March 30, 2015

Week #40: Semana Santa

Inviting the world to General Conference

Through all of the craziness with the usual walking and the elections here and so much more. This was a great week. 

We started gung ho on the inviting the world to General Conference. As I mentioned last week we created posters and invitations and other little stuff to handout, hang-up and stick wherever we can. All and all the area of Rio Blanco is plastered from head to toe with all sorts of amazing GC announcements and invitations.
       On a different note we have also been working like crazy to help two kids of a family we are teaching be baptized this week. Being that they are from Chuicaval, this "little" process included several very large walks back and forth throughout the week. But in the words of many "LoL" players all over the world "worth it".  After some amazing problems that were overcome with travel, rain, and cold baptismal water everything ended well and Maximiliano and Encarnacion were baptized and maybe just maybe, their parents will soon follow.
      This week I was also reminded of just how far I have come in the mission. Thursday when we were down in San Pedro for the zone meeting, President payed us a surprise visit bringing with him a little package for two of the youth in Rio Blanco. After months and months of waiting the mission calls of these two lads have finally arrived. After church on Sunday we all gathered together in the house of Brian and opened his call. One of them has been called to the mission of Nicaragua Managua Norte and the other to Puerto Rico. All and all it was kinda weird to think about it all. Like I still feel like I just left, even though it has been nine months now and to see them starting out on this journey is kinda a weird feeling. In three short months mine will be half over and they will barely be out in the field. Weird...but cool!
     Its been a good week and this next week is Semana Santa and Conferencia General.  This week should hold some fun surprises and experiences in store for us. Give all my love to everyone!

I call him Easter, but that is wishful thinking

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week #39: There and back again...

The field is white er of many beautiful colors and ready to harvest...
It has been a long week of traveling in the beautiful land of bountiful and I have learned that even after all of the traveling that we do up here - I am nowhere close to being immune to the horrible discomforts of car, truck, chicken bus sickness.
      Though the traveling can be tiresome there are some cool moments through it all. Like when we were coming back from Reu this week after the Trainers meeting.  After being on the bus for a while sitting next to a guy and squished between him the other random people who were on the bus the guy to my right offered me some English!  A little surprised and a bit shocked I started to talk to him. Turns out he works in a call center in Xela and was living in the US for quite some time before coming back down and living here in San Marcos.   It was kinda weird to speak in English... even weirder to teach someone in it. I think that somehow my brain has become wired in a way that when I talk about church or the Gospel rr anything within that realm I do so in Spanish. That being said when I started to teach him in English about the restoration of the Gospel it was really awkward and I found myself having to think ahead in order to reverse translate my thoughts back into English and even then stuff still came out in Spanish. In the end, the lesson still went amazing even in the horribly crowded bus and my broken English. Its kinda sad that he doesn't live in my area or even in my zone but I passed along the reference to the other Elders and I hope they can help him out.
      So like I said there has been a lot of traveling in large part due to all of the meetings in the mission. On Wednesday we had the first of the Trainers meetings. Being there could not have been any weirder of an experience.  The entire time I felt as if I was just there but on the other side of the table, hearing nearly the same messages when I started. I guess I wasnt the only one who felt like that either. As we passed through the classes of President and Hermana Wetzel they both mentioned in some way that they were surprised to see me there again with so little time in the mission. However all and all the meeting was absolutely amazing and we left that day better missionaries then when we entered. I would have to say that they fulfilled the purpose of that meeting.
      That same day pretty late in the night (ok so like 7) we got back to San Pedro and being missionaries, we went out to grab something to eat. We decided to head over to our normal pancake place. Pretty much since the first day I came over to San Pedro we have eaten here once or twice a week and have come to know all of the workers there pretty good. However just recently we gave them all copies of the Book of Mormon and when we were there eating we asked them if they had been reading them. Turns out they have not only been reading them but have been sharing them and reading them to other workers who are there on other shifts. Pilas Pues!
       The next day we had a mutli-zone conference with President Ruiz. Love the meetings with the President. They always kinda light a fire under our butts and get us out working harder than ever. As I am sure you all know its nearly conference time and we are turning on the "No Shame Mode". We are making banners, fliers, invitations off all sorts and spamming the skies, streets and even the windows of every bus, inviting everyone to come to General Conference. At times like this I think... What would happen if someone was crazy enough to do this kinda stuff back home....? (¿challenge anyone?) Anyways we are going to have some fun with this General Conference season.
       As I mentioned a little earlier Elder Saxton received a very lucky bite in the few hours that we were down there in Reu and as a result has been more or less bed ridden for the last several days. However all is well and he is back on his feet like the trooper he is. As he was sick we did some divisions so that Elder Ramirez, our district leader could go over to Chuicaval and do some interviews. This left me with alot of free time in the house. One of the things they were stressing in these meetings was using the area book (the area book is a folder that has a teaching record for every investigator and much much more. More or less it is the history of the area and of all the investigators that the missionaries have ever taught.) I decided to take this time and go through the area book to find some new investigators and more or less to clean out, spiff up, and start working on the thing like the hermanas do. Good thing too, as I finished sorting out the investigators,  Elder Rameriez and Murillo made it over to Chuicaval and I fed them a bunch of names and ways to find the people that were positive in the past.  At the end of the day through mixed efforts they found some really positive new people to teach. +1 for the Area Book Effort!
       Sundays are awesome, the Church is true and the mission is an awesome world. I don't think anyone in the world is more excited then as a missionary, as when they see someone that they are teaching at church.

Anyways love you all, miss you all, and hope that someone back home will take  the challenge to go as crazy as us this conference season.

Look Mom I have learned how to make my bed...

hang-up my clothes...

and clean the kitchen...  

Elder Wilcox and Elder Saxton

a tracting we will go..

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week #38: Baking, building and a lot of travel

    Sorry about no email yesterday, the Internet was down.  We aren't talking about just a wifi router, or the connection in the house being down.  Remember we go to Internet Cafe's and while there are not many to choose from it didn't matter because the Internet was down for the whole town.  But here is a quick email so you know all is well.  No pictures today.

     The best way to describe this week would probably be like a roller coaster. and like most we have to start pretty low.  Early in the week my comp was really worried. His parents hadn't written him and he knew that something was up. The next day in the morning he found out that his grandmother had passed away sunday afternoon and he was pretty devastated. It was a pretty sad morning but after a few moments to regain his composure we knew that we had to get out and work to get his mind off of everything that was happening.and so thats what we did and we haven't really stopped working much since.
        This week we have been; bakers, builders, and wood-cutters and have been to nearly all edges of our area. As of last week we started teaching a new investigator who just happens to be a baker and so in order for her to have time to give us as we arrive a little early before each lesson we run into the kitchen and get to work making cookies, masa and all the other amazing types of bread that go along with with baking. I'm almost positive that by the end of out time in this area we will be certified bakers ready to go back home and become professional bakers. In other words look out world there is only a short little while until the Guatemala renown Wilcox bakery will be coming back to the US.  I might even be able to challenge Sister Sandoval and her cinnamon bread.
       Traveling for the week: We have gone to Chuicaval, San Lorenzo, Pueblo Viejo Xeja, Reu Caprican and well all over Rio Blanco. Now I don't know if we have simply been extremely lucky all week long or the Lord has placed a travel blessing on us - with all of the traveling that we have done this week I think it has probably been one of the weeks in the mission with the least amount of walking. This week like many others before we headed over to Chuicaval but this time we didn't have to walk which really made all the difference. As we started on the trail up came a pickup we waved him down and jumped in.  After it took us up a good chunk of the mountain he had to go a different way so we jumped on out and continued on our way. No more than 3 mins after did another pickup come driving by. We jumped in this semi loaded pickup and took a nice ride all the way up the mountain side. It wasn't until about 5 mins or so into the hallon that I told my comp what were in the bags that we were sitting on. We both got a pretty good chuckle out of it after. There might have been some point in my life that getting a ride in a truck filled with bags of manure might have bugged me but i really don't think there ever was.  As we jumped out of the truck we were pretty much where we needed to be. As we went a little further up the road we found that there was a nice big party going on at the house of the member that takes care of us while we are there.  As we reached the gate we were greated by a nice big slice of cake and some fresco.  Not a bad way to start a day over there in Chuicaval.  We worked hard over the next several hours.  We talked to alot of people and the next day when church came around four of them actually came to church.  With a congregation of 20 or so people, four investigators is a pretty cool thing.
       I know that I have said it before but there are just some things here that are simply amazing. One of which being the Noche de Hermanamiento activity that they hold weekly in the house of the many different members in the rama. It is more or less a giant family home evening with all of the members of the rama, complete with snacks and all. Now what is absolutely amazing about these, is the little sitting space in the houses and the some odd hundred or so members that show up to every one of these activities. This last week the activity was over in San Lorenzo a "city" about two hours away walking or about 45 mins in pickup. With this in mind all of the 100 or so people piled into the back of three pickups and were off. up and over the mountains and  across the rivers to Hermana Nancy's house we went. Each one of these activities has its own little special feeling to them and really make everyone in the rama feel like a family.
        Anyways the mission is Awesome and Life is Great!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week #37: A Trip to Reu, Trasfers and Elder Murrillo

Elder Wilcox and a stick...

So where do I even start on a week like this? Tuesday, I found out that I will be training and that ten out of the sixteen missionaries in the zone will be leaving the zone, including all of those from Rio Blanco except for me. These changes are going to be filled with...well a lot of changes.
   Needless to say, filled with excitement and anticipation we started the long ride down to Reu, which was even longer when we got a flat tire no more than a few mins into the trip. But after a long while we all arrived and were anxiously waiting for the announcement of transfers part of the meeting to start.  There were a lot of missionaries going home and many announcements, so even with us getting to the meeting late every little thing seem to take forever to start. Luckily the trainers and the new missionaries go first once the transfer announcements starts. After just about all of the greenies had been placed with their trainers there were only two left,  one for me and one for my other new companion up in Rio Blanco.  I went First and my new companion in the icy north is Elder Murillo of Ecuador/Italy.  As for the other two;  Elder Ramirez of Mexico is now with Elder Saxton of Iowa.  As for the other changes things went good and I think we have a really solid zone.
        As per normal on Thursday we had our zone meeting and got to know the people a little bit better and the more I get to know everyone, the better I like them. One of the knew Hermanas up here in San Marcos is named Hermana Vave and she is actually from Fontana.  She just happens to be family of the Hifos from back home and we have probably meet a few times before the mission and not even realized it.  The zone is awesome and I have a pretty good feeling about these transfers, we are going to all work hard, show love to the people and help change lives.
       I guess a good way to start out a change is to find a new investigator that is super positive. As Friday started, it came time to get back up to Rio Blanco and do all of the needful. We had divisions scheduled for Friday with a member but I had to show the others their area, investigators, members and all of the other stuff they need to know in order to keep the work moving. That meant sending Elder Murillo off on his first day to go and work like crazy with a super pilas member. But as the others and I stayed behind we went to go and visit a reference we had gotten several days before and hadn't been able to contact. Turns out she might just be one of the people most prepared to receive the Gospel in all of Rio Blanco. As Elder Ramirez, Saxton and I taught her, we knew right away that she would be positive and as we continued to teach we had one of those moments in which it was like we werent really talking and the things that needed to be said were said and we really touched her heart.
       All in all things are going great!  I am really happy with all that has changes and know we are going to work harder than ever before up here.   I love being able to serve the Lord in this manner, I love the people of Guatemala!

[Editor's note: While we love receiving Elder Wilcox's email and pictures each week, his choice of pictures at times makes us ponder.  He doesn't give a lot of description of his pictures...]
Elder Murrillo in Rio Blanco with a stick...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week #36: Janga, A Llasa Apso and BMI calculations

What a week, quite the rollercoaster, but all is well in the mountains of Guate!   It was a weird week, not only full of service and proselytizing but I have helped so many people with their homework this past week that I felt as if I was back in school.
      So Wednesday we had a PMG test which consisted of many Preach My Gospel kind of questions. Needless to say my whole no studying and still end up knowing the answer thing might have helped out, but I thought that might only apply in English and I am a little reluctant to test it out in Spanish so I studied, and started hard... After the test the Mission President wanted to talk to us about our areas and the plans for them and told us that he would be coming up on Sunday to visit and set apart one of the missionaries who is leaving to his mission.  He is actually leaving right now as I write this.  Oh and that Elder Flores has emergency changes.....and that we will be working into a Trio until Sunday (though now it is until changes on Wednesday.)   But we roll with the punches, do all we can and leave the rest up to The Lord.
      Thursday was a little weird but a good day. We had our zone meeting and then left up to Rio Blanco. Once up there we went over to a familias casa por Maclen. Over there we helped move, gather and stack all of families wood. Elder Sevilla, Elder Quispe and I got a system going with some wheelbarrows. Elder Quispe loading, Elder Sevilla Transporting and Me stacking.  But service just isn't as fun without making a little game out of it. So I introduced the family to the game "Janga". This game might have been more realistic than any other I have played in all of my life. We used actual wood that was cut just a while before, with an  actual axe.  This is about as pure of a form of janga that can be played. After about 30 mins in between stacking the loads that Elder Sevilla was dropping off, I finally won as her stack of wood came tumbling down. GGWP (good Game well Played for all of you non-gamers out there).
      Friday, in order for us to work more efficiently as a trio I called all morning long to find someone that I could go and do divisions with. At about 10am in the morning I meet up with Johnny Lingo Or Elder Lingo as we called him for the day. Ok so his name isnt really Johnny Lingo but It was fun to introduce him to people as so and the members got a real kick out of it as we passed by. After lunch after asking just about every member if they could give us a ride to an area a little further off called San Lorenzo we found someone to give us a ride. Good thing too because it is about a two hour walk up and down a nice big windy path. Once over there, he showed me around and lead us over to the house of some less actives.....and there the most amazing thing happened....I found a Llasa Apso dog (a Sandy)! To many of you this means nothing but my little dog named Sandy, back home is this same kind of dog. Needless to say all went well once the less active lady and I bonded over the pup. It kind of made me miss home to see one here but it was pretty awesome at the same time. When we finished up visiting and the light was all but dead in the sky we started to head back to Rio Blanco. This time however there were not any rides for us to take back home. So we took the long walk a step and Disney song at a time, and screeched out our best Disney singing as we walked all the way home.
      On Saturday we started off the day cleaning the house in preparation for the President's arrival the next day. About mid way through the cleaning President Ochoa our district president called and told us we had a service project to do over at the church building at 1pm. Turned out to be some form of a childrens aid organization aimed at helping children who aren't receiving the nutrients they need in order to develop. For the rest of the day we were helping out with the program. I was in charge of doing the math for the BMIs of the kids as well as the weight/height ratios for everyone of the kids who were there. It was truly sad to see that the majority of the kids that were there were indeed below the norms and recommendations and just about all of them will now be in the program and receiving food. There were times when I was doing the math and their BMI came out so low that I had to stop and than do the math over and over hoping for a different result or some kind of error that I had made...It was a really sad and humbling experience but at the same time amazing because all of those kids will now be receiving help in order to make sure they are getting all they need to develop.
     The next day all of us were a little worried about the President coming.   He had said that he might bring up a new comp for Sevilla and that he might take either Elder Quispe or I back down with him. However nothing ended up happening at least change wise, when he came up, which was a big relief to me. I love it up here and don't really want to leave anytime soon. Though I was relieved that I wasn't leaving it was still kind of a sad day. Jerson one of the jovens I have been working with to get him on a mission was set apart and is now Elder Lopez. I love this kid and know he is going to be a great missionary. With all of the difficulties he had to face to go on his mission I know he has the ganas and the ability to make it through it all and be a really good missionary. I know that he is an example to Brian and Mosiah the two others who are making their way through all of their own papers and preparing to leave as well.
     In all it really has been a great week. Oh and I have a camera now so enjoy some of the scenery pics! Changes are at the door and about half of the zone is dying (ending the mission) so there will be a lot of new things in the next few days.