Saturday, February 6, 2016

Week Nineteen: Changes in the Office District

Hello my beloved people who care about me,

Let's start with the thing I always almost forget. I'm Ponderising Alma 43:1 "And now it came to pass that the sons of Alma did go forth among the people, to declare the word unto them. And Alma, also, himself, could not rest, and he also went forth."

Even in the midst of the war chapters of Alma (that I have always had a hard time getting through), missionary work is still being done. Even their spiritual leader, (in the office?) could not rest and went to teach the word of God.

So this week things changed for the better. We had a long Monday morning meeting to discuss the needs of the office and the mission. And we decided as an office staff that, as president Mkhabela says "We're missionaries, not a business". We have no need really to open the office at 8 in the morning, especially when the missionaries that we are serving are studying in their apartments until 10am. Also, we are missionaries, our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. Which is very difficult to do at a desk all day, so we now close the office early so we can "not rest, and also go forth" The new office hours are 10am-3pm. And it makes everything much less stressful.

It has been so wonderful being able to study again. We had previously only really been able to study by taking a few free minutes to go to but now we again have that set-aside time in the morning to study and ponder the words of God. What more, we can have companionship studies as well. Our Friday morning prayer meetings, which used to consist of an opening prayer, a short spiritual thought, and a closing prayer, have been changed as well. By unanimous approval it has changed to Office Companionship Study, where we all share from our personal studies for the day and spiritually uplift one another.

Our Office Comp Study went so well yesterday, that President Mkhabela wanted to close the office and all of us go to the streets to do some teaching together. Unfortunately, there were missionary interviews so we had to remain.

The whole mood of the office has been different this week. There are still trials, but in general everyone seems to be more positive. The work of the Lord is progressing, and the mission as a whole is improving and growing in strength.

Now onto the fun stuff.

The Assistants, Elder Shepherd and I went to Lion and Cheetah Park today. You can drive into the lion enclosure with your own vehicle. Unfortunately they were all sleepy. But there was another area where you could get out of the car if you desired, because there were no predators. We had such a fun time. I nearly pet a zebra, but they ran away. But I did pet a tortoise.

Here are some of the pictures, more will be sent shortly. Apparently my camera takes huge picture files.

And people think it's hard to find investigators!

Notice the shirt's new message. I came prepared for the day.

That was an unintentional endangered species pun.

Week Eighteen: Taking Off the Proverbial Training Wheels

Taking Off the Proverbial Training Wheels
Hello my loved ones. I appreciate you taking the time to read this, how are you doing?

For those who wish to skim over this email, here is the gist of it:
This week happened. The office couple went home.
We did some things in the office on our own. It was difficult but I pulled through. 
Elder Shepherd is a great companion. I have great love for him.
I got a haircut, I'm unsure how I feel about it though.
We just had a zone conference. It was an experience.
I am happy to be serving mission.
Ponderizing Mathew 25:40

Now here is the full report:
This week finally happened. The office couple went home, the training wheel were removed and I got to find out exactly how well my training went. I thought it will be an easy transition. Then the day after they flew out I received an email asking what type of mailing labels we use. I have no idea what those even are.

President Mkhabela and his Assistants were also gone for two days while at the Gweru Zone Conference, so Elder Shepherd and I were left to man the office on our own. It was a bit daunting but it was alright. We did some things in the office on our own. I sent welcome letters to missionaries, inputted baptismal records, and dealt with ordering lunches for the zone conferences. It was very difficult to keep track of everything. There were times that I didn't have anything to do (that I could think of), which worried me because I felt there was a lot to do. So I made lists, did things, and made some mistakes. But I pulled through.

Elder Shepherd is a great companion. He is so very supportive, and just a terrific guy. He and I have had many opportunities to just sit and talk, (like before going to bed, not wasting time). We also had a lot of fun on our hike last week. I have told him a few times that I would invite him to my wedding with no hesitation. Seriously. I have no doubt this companionship was inspired. I have great love for him.

I got a haircut for the zone conference, since my hair was getting a little shaggy. I asked the guy to not shape my hairline, like they do with everyone here, because I've felt previously it makes my head look weird. Since my head isn't very symmetrical. But he refused to let me go without shaping it. The AP, Elder Nyatsambo says it looks "fresh" but remember, the culture is different here. I'm unsure how I feel about it, though I do sometimes think I look good.

We just had a zone conference. My first one as the mission secretary. I was in charge of the food, and there were some complications, but in general it was okay. I also got to organize the mail for the missionaries and get it distributed to them. It started raining so I also decided to ferry people back and forth with the umbrellas. It was very interesting and I learned I have much more to learn, but it was an important experience.

I am still very happy to be serving the Lord here in the Zimbabwe Harare mission. I know that he is mindful of me and I know what I am doing here in the office is important.

I didn't mention my ponderizing scripture last week, but it was Mathew 25:40. I know it is encouraged to choose a new one each week, but I think I will keep this one for this week. "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Until Next week, I love you all.
-Elder Wilcken

To Anyone Who May Want to Send Me Things

Feel free to do so, there is no issue with this.

This email is only for information, and is not in any way a request for mail/packages.

I am now in charge of the Mission Mail, so I am the one who receives the packages and letters for missionaries and distributes it. And so now I know exactly the best way to do it. I also have more opportunity to send letters, as I am in charge of the pouch mail system as well.

So everyone knows, this is what you should do:
Address the package and/or letter like this:

Elder Daniel Joseph Wilcken
65 Enterprise Road
Highlands, Harare

If it is a package, make sure on the customs order you declare the contents as any of the following that applies:
missionary items (socks, ties, etc)
sweets (candy, snacks, etc)
Claim the value of the package as under $30, and it probably should be.

Please be advised it will cost a lot to actually ship the package and so do it with caution. I am unsure how much it costs because it is different on this side. It will also take a very long time probably for it to actually arrive in Zimbabwe.

Have a wonderful week,
-Elder Wilcken

Week Seventeen: Understanding Different Humor

Hello again my wonderful loved ones. This email serves as a notice that I need more emails to respond to. I understand it is hard to email Friday nights, but that is okay. You don't need to. You can email me any day of the week, and I will be able to respond when I have my Preparation day. If you don't email me now, before you know it I will be back from my mission. Alma 34:33.

Now onto the rest of the stuff.

This week has been a lot more intense with learning. The Hermansen's are going home on the 26th, this Tuesday. So they are teaching us everything and anything we may need to know. I have also started to learn President Mkhabela's sense of humor. At first he seemed intimidating, and always serious. But that is part of the humor. The thing is, everyone takes him seriously. Once I learned to recognize when things were jokes, I started to feel much more comfortable in the office, and have a lot more fun.

For instance this is one interaction we had:
Mkhabela: "Elder Wilcken, who fills up the candy in this jar."
Wilcken: "Sister Hermansen does, and don't worry, I will continue."
M: "Don't do it. We don't need it." *as he is putting a piece of candy in his mouth*
W: "Okay president."
M: "Unless you have a good reason."
W: "Well it makes people happy and they work harder when they are happy."
M: "Okay, that is a good reason."

Other things have happened like president asking an Elder:
"Did you do what I asked you to do today?"
 Elder: "I don't know what you mean"
Mkhabela: "What did I ask you to do today?"
 Elder: "Nothing?"
Mkhabela: "Okay, so you did do it."

Other Than that, things have been pretty quiet. I do my work, we are pretty busy. But it is wonderful that we have had the opportunity to teach a few lessons this week as well. We have three progressing investigators! As President Mkhabela says, what really matters is the Lord's work. All other things can wait.

Today Elder Shepherd and I want to go on a hike to see some cave paintings. So there may or may not be pictures later. Until then,

Have a wonderful week,
-Elder Wilcken

Week Sixteen: It's Hard to Write Subject Lines

Hello my dear family and friends and anyone else who may read this,

This week had a few interesting things happen. So let's jump right in.

Last Sunday Elder Shepherd and I were fortunate to be welcomed to the Highlands Ward with metaphorical open arms! The members were so excited to have new missionaries, and we received about 4 referrals and were introduced to 3 people wanting to be baptized. It was so exciting for us as missionaries. Then after church, Elder Shepherd and I drove Elder Dube, Sister Dube, and one of their daughters to the airport. We had the wonderful privilege to talk to him about how we got our mission calls, how we enjoyed our areas, etc. It was so amazing.

Then this week I discovered a new outfit that absolutely terrifies the other Elders in the office. See the first photo.

I got to do a lot of official sounding business things this week as the Mission Office Secretary. For instance, I talked with a bishop in Nairobi/Kenya for 2 or 3 hours one day to try and get one of the church programs working on the computer. I counted and tallied the Baptisms for the whole of 2015, and I did many other secretary things.

I also had the wonderful opportunity to visit my old area of Bindura again with Elder Shepherd today. One of the investigators I started teaching before I was called to the Office requested that I perform his baptism, so President Mkhabela allowed it for our office preparation day. It was a great. I was so happy to see the members again and my former companion. We had a wonderful day today.

My ponderizing scripture this week is Ether 12:27, a popular one: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them"

With this new assignment, I feel very weak. But I have no doubt the Lord can strengthen me if I rely on him.

Until next week, I love you all. May God watch and protect you.

-Elder Wilcken