Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Week Twenty-Six: Who Says That's What it Means?

Salutations my beloved ones,

When I was being trained in my first 12-weeks, My trainer introduced me to an interesting concept:
"Which Means" - Who says that's what it means?
He used this whenever anyone said the phrase "Which Means", whether when explaining scripture, making an assumption, or asking a question. No matter what, even if we have a firm source, "Who says that's what it means." We even were impressed that most General Authorities do not say "Which Means". They instead say "We come to understand" or "it is implied" or even "Which can be found to mean" or something similar.

Now why am I saying this? Because I had fallen into the "Which Means" the past few weeks.
A couple is coming to work in the office "which means" Elder Shepherd and I will be leaving.
Elder Nyatsambo, one of the Assistants, is finishing mission and going home "which means" Elder Sibanda will be staying as the Assistant and training the next assistant.
The Fleets/Flats Elders have been in the office for over four months "which means" they will be replaced by new fleets/flats.
Elder Shepherd and I need to stay in the office while the couple is in South Africa, "which means" we can have an emergency transfer when they get back.
This thing has never happened before "which means" it must be not happening.
Who says that's what it means.
Elder Shepherd and I are staying in the Office to help while the couple is gone or two weeks.
President Mkhabela has decided he doesn't need Assistants to the President in the office right now, both assistants are leaving and there is no new one.
The Fleets/Flats Elders are both staying to split the responsibilities of the AP's with Elder Shepherd and I.
Elder Shepherd and I are needed to assist the couple and train the potential new couple in June. If a new couple doesn't get called by June, we re-assume our responsibilities.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So we are technically not AP's, because there are no AP's anymore. There are four "SA's" or "Special Assignment" Elders. However because of this slight change in responsibilities, I prefer to think of us as SAAP's or SAP's. Because it makes me chuckle.

But really things are just crazy. And so much is happening and changing in the mission. So I'll leave you with a picture of Elder Shepherd and I.

Much Love,
-Elder Wilcken

Week Twenty-Five: Mission Tour and Trainings

Hello you,

This week was a very good week.

So firstly it was the Mission Tour where Elder Carl B. Cook from the Africa South East Area Presidency came and visited the mission to see how things are going. There were 4 different Zone Conferences and A lot of business. But more on that in a second.

President Mkhabela approved Elder Shepherd and I to go to a zone activity on Monday with our zone, so we got to go learn how to Golf with members of our ward. It was a lot of fun. We were at a driving range and they taught us the techniques. But I discovered I am better at hitting the grass than the golf balls. There was not much grass in my area when I finished.

Then on Tuesday we had our zone's conference. President Cook presided and President and Sister Ashton from the SA MTC were there as well. (President Ashton is the sond of Marvin J Ashton)
 We got to learn about the organization of the church, How decisions are made throughout the quorums, and also more about the importance of obedience and conversion.

Now for some interesting conversations I never thought I'd have:
I was standing by the door to the cultural hall reading the Book of Enos while we were taking a short break. Then someone walked through the door and passed me while saying "That's a good book." I looked up to see Elder Cook walking away.
Later while we were in the office afterwards, I was finishing the binding on some booklets and then I look up to see Elder Cook standing next to me holding his phone. "Do you know the password for the Wifi?"

Then as he was leaving he gave Elder Shepherd and I some reassurance "Don't worry, we will see about getting you guys a couple so that you can go back to proselyting. Which brings me to the next topic, we are likely in the office for another transfer.

Though there is a couple here that we are training to relieve us from office duty, we learned just this week that they are going back to SA from 31 March to 12 April. During the busiest time in the office, transfer week and MLC week. So if no one is here things will fail. So if they aren't here, we need to be.

However there is wonderful news, our Eternal Investigator in Highlands, the one who has been investigating for a year and 7 months, the one who said she would get married only when she felt it was time, has finally picked a date for baptism! 1 April 2016. And yes, its because of that joke. Part of it is because she wants it to be an intimate group of people. Which is part of why she hadn't one it before. She doesn't want everyone to make a big deal about it and the whole ward to show up. So she got approval for it to happen on Friday so not a lot of people would be able to make it. Also there is talk of her being baptized in her pool. I know it really does sound like an April fools joke, but it is serious.

So that's life so far this week.

But in any case, things are doing well.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. May the Lord bless you in all that you do.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Twenty-Four: Many Firsts in the Office

Hello everyone,
This week Elder Shepherd and I went to a Family Home evening with the Nield family. It was the first time either of us have gone to a FHE on mission. So it was a pretty great experience. We taught a lesson on obedience and played rugby with the kids.

We then got to go to our first Zone Meeting as office elders. Normally we are busy on Tuesdays so we don't go to District or Zone Meetings. However our mission president was out of town so the office didn't have much to do. The Assistants approved everyone going to Zone meetings.
When our zone leaders found out we were there, they assigned Elder Shepherd and I do give presentations. I gave instructions on filling out baptismal records.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful, we are just preparing for the mission tour this upcoming week. Elder Carl B Cook from the Area Presidency is coming to tour the mission and so we are going to have like 4 zone conferences and a lot of other events. It is a lot to prepare for.

But there is now confirmation of the news I mentioned last week. So I can be less vague, Elder Shepherd and I are relieved of office duty. At least for the time being. We have a temporary replacement couple coming from South Africa, whom we will start training this week. So It is pretty much guaranteed that Elder Shepherd and I will be transferred on the 29th of March. The couple will only be here until June 2016 however, so after that we don't know what will happen.

So everyone knows, if I am transferred out of the office, My preparation day will go back to Monday. Which means I will no longer be emailing on Saturday. More info will come later if needed.

I hope you all have a great week. May the Lord bless you in all you do.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Twenty-Three: The Importance of Communication

Hello my lovely loved ones.
This week has been wonderful and very difficult.

First of all my ponderizing is Alma 11:29,33. The best example on how to answer questions. "29 And he answered, No." "33 And he said unto him, Yea."
3 Nephi 12:37 "37 But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever cometh of more than these is evil."

Last Sunday we had a baptism, and it went perfectly. No difficulties at all compared to last time, except maybe that the water was very cold.

On Tuesday Elder Burnham finished his mission and went home, and let me tell you, that is one great guy right there. He used to be an assistant to the president, and so he taught us some ways to make office life easier.

Then we had a very crazy few days. 1 Nephi 10:15

3 missionaries total have gone home this week because they were done with their missions.

Other crazy things did happen that I cannot write in this letter, but they are written in my other book.

And I found out that there may be an upcoming change really soon in the mission office. So I will talk more on that later.

I realize this letter may be found wanting.

Just know that I love you all, I am praying for you all. I am enjoying mission and I am loving being able to help others. I know that my savior lives and loves each and every one of us.

Have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Week Twenty-Two: Miracles and Snowball Fights

Hello my loved ones,
This week was in some ways unbelievable.

Ponderizing: Mathew 19:26 "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."

Here is a brief summary:
First of all we invited 4 more people to commit to baptism, 3 of them were invited with help from Elder Dube. Secondly I was dying for a day (it most likely wasn't malaria). And thirdly, We had a snowball fight in the heat of summer, in Zimbabwe.

So on Tuesday we taught our very powerful investigating family. The ones that take notes. I don't know if I mentioned this previously, but just in case I didn't, this family is very good friends with the Dube family. The mother was actually taught by the father Elder Dube.
So we got to the appointment and then we learn that the younger Elder Dube the one serving his mission in the states, received permission to help with the lesson via skype. So we were able to teach this family the Plan of Salvation with help from the Missionary who convinced them to learn about the church. And they gladly accepted the invitation to be baptized. It was so very powerful.

So then the next day I was dying. Completely. Okay not really but still. I tell this story not so that people worry. But so that people know my testimony.
John 11:4 "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."

It started out with some minor pain and discomfort in my abdomen, then it moved on to joint pain, headache, nausea, chills, fever, etc. All while I was in my desk chair. I kept deciding I was fine but then it got to the point where I couldn't even drink water, all I could do was sit in my chair perfectly still looking across the room to a picture of the Savior. After a while I finally got up and walked over to my companion's office, dropped my vial of oil on his desk, and said simply "when you aren't busy". I then went and sat back in my chair and did my best.
I say "did my best", because this was seriously a major struggle for me. I could barely move. I think I sat still in the office for like 4 hours total that day. I know my words can't do justice seriously how bad off I was.
After a minute or two one of the other Elders told me that the Assistants weren't busy and could give me a blessing right then. So I went with them into another room and they proceeded to give me a priesthood blessing.
Immediately after I was still very sick, but I had improved enough to where I could down a bottle of water, and walk around and perform basic tasks. I was feeling well enough to even feel hungry. So Elder Shepherd and I went to lunch. Then went to go run an errand for someone in the Ward.
The sun did not help my condition. I was already feeling really tired, I still had a fever, but then we had to stand around in the heat for like half an hour. By the time we finished our errands I felt again like I was dying, except this time I could barely stay awake. Finally one of the assistants took me back to the apartment and told me to sleep.
I napped from 4pm to 8pm. When I woke up i felt immensely better. We went and got dinner, then I again slept and slept peacefully all through the night. When I woke up at 6:30am the next day, you wouldn't have been able to tell I was sick at all. Many of the other office workers were amazed at my sudden health.
I'll let you think what you will, but I know for myself the power of priesthood blessings.

So now onto the fun part. On the following day, Thursday, I was performing my normal office duties. When we were preparing to close up for the day I noticed that the fridge in the back store room had frozen itself open. For Weeks it had had a huge block of ice like half the size of the compartment, so I decided to start chipping it out.
This was when I discovered that it wasn't a block of ice, it was a front layer of ice covering a bunch of powdered ice behind it. I filled up about half of a trashcan with basically snow. I then went out to Elder Shepherd, looked him in the eye and told him "this may be Elder Nyatsambo's only opportunity to be hit by a snowball." So I went outside with the bucket and hid, the other office elder, Elder Sibanda hid behind a bush with his camera, and then Elder Shepherd lead Elder Nyatsambo out of the mission office.
It was perfect. He ran so hard and got so far. But in the end he still got pelted with powdered snow.
I then threw a snowball at Elder Shepherd, and that was the start of the fight.
I don't think there has ever before been a missionary snowball fight in Zimbabwe.

So within 3 days I saw at least 3 miracles. They may not all have been showy or spectacular, but they were all life changing for different people.

I know that I am here doing the Lord's work. I know that miracles have not ceased, they only get delayed because of lack of faith. The Lord is still mindful of the world, He has not abandoned it. All things are possible to him that believes.

Have a wonderful week, may the Lord bless you in all that you do.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Twenty-One: New Transfers: Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello

This week we had the first transfer as office Elders.
We said goodbye to those missionaries who finished their time serving the Lord.
We welcomed those missionaries who are just starting their 18 or 24 months of service.

It was so wonderful to see people so excited to serve the Lord, fresh from the MTC.

We had a wonderful time as well this week teaching the Gospel. We have another baptism scheduled for the 27th, and we are so excited for that.

So we had a very strange Dinner Appointment on Tuesday. We went over to teach probably the most powerful family I've taught. Each time we have taught they took notes. We brought Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration for them to watch, and we had to wait to start till they each found their notebooks. As we watched it they all loved it. There were times each of us teared up. If you haven't watched that movie, do so now. Just click on the link and watch it for free.

Anyway after the movie, they asked us to stay for dinner, they were going to go pick up Pizza from a fast-food restaurant, Pizza Inn. They then asked if we all could just go there. We explained we can't drive or ride with others really and they told us to meet them there. When we arrived, we found 8 other missionaries from our zone there for dinner. We got to introduce this family to them all, and then some of them joined us and helped answer questions they had. It was crazy but fun.

Other than that we got to take some of the Priest age young men in our ward with us to do some street-contacting, which was a bit of a laugh. Drunk people are interesting because they all really want to tell us things.

But anyway, that's all for this week.

I want you all to know that I know that God speaks to us. Both through his Prophet and through personal revelation and promptings of the Holy Ghost. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ both love us more than we can comprehend and miss us dearly. If we are just willing to ask them and listen, they are more than happy to answer us.

May the Lord Bless you all in all that you do.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Twenty: "Behold Your Little Ones"

Ponderizing 3 Nephi 17:21-23
And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
And when he had done this he wept again;
And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.

Hello my dearest friends and family,

This message is long, yes.
This message contains a powerful, testimony building experience, very yes.

This week has been absolutely wonderful. I've been working hard in the Office as we get ready for transfers on Tuesday, we have had many teaching opportunities, we have gotten to help out some sister missionaries, and today we have a baptism.


So let's start with the Office. I've been very busy getting things ready for the departing missionaries. We have needed to put all their stuff in packets, I've been a proof reader for the letters from the Mission President, and I also needed to organize letters for the new zone leaders, district leaders, and trainers. There was quite a shock in the office this transfer, when we learned that Elder Robison, from my MTC group, only in his 4th transfer, is now a Zone Leader! My zone leader in fact, it is so exciting! He is a very powerful missionary and I have no doubt he will be a wonderful Zone Leader.

It is quite interesting how the Lord is changing the Zimbabwe Harare Mission. I mean, already Elder Shepherd (after 3 transfers) and I (after 2 transfers) were put in the office, but now also young missionaries (In Elder Shepherd and my MTC groups) are being put as Zone Leaders. Which really, has not really happened before at all. Normally people aren't in positions of leadership until after the first year.

Also, we were blessed with the presence of Sister Missionaries in the Highlands area with us! Granted it was only this last week, and the go back on Monday, but still. Sisters Stegelmeier and Murenza were emergency transferred to Harare for medical attention so President Mkhabela put them in our area, allowed them to proselyte or rest as needed, and let them just be a help to us. So Elder Shepherd and I brought them to some of our lessons and Dinner Appointments. It was great to have them help us with the kids that were baptized today.

Now onto the Baptism.
Trial. Of. Faith. And answers to prayers.

So first of all, it was supposed to be at 10am, but yesterday we had to reschedule it to 2pm because some of those getting baptized were busy till 1pm. Already we were worried things wouldn't work out, but it was working. We went and cleaned the font, found a drain plug, started filling it, and then checked on it after an hour and was half full. Checked on it after another hour it was almost full, and full enough. So at 9:40am (just in time for the original schedule) we closed up the chapel with a full font, the water turned off, and everything good to go.

At 1:30 we went to set up chairs. The font was half empty.
We turned the water back on, and I told Elder Shepherd "This is a matter of faith elder, we are closing these doors and when the baptism is ready to start the font will be full." We even found out that the reason it was leaking was that we didn't close the drain valve like we were supposed to, so we did that. We fixed our mistake.

Someone then asked where the baptismal clothes were. (1:50pm) we looked everywhere and couldn't find them. We even got help, called people, etc. Finally someone found them in a closet. (right around 2pm) and they were dirty. We immediately started making calls to other missionaries "where can we find baptismal clothes to borrow" We were having no luck, and finally about 2:15 Elder Shepherd said "I think we need to postpone". Immediately after I told the presiding authority that we were gonna postpone, Elder shepherd got a phone call. Our zone leaders directed us to the closest elders with baptismal clothes, and much to our joy "we will be there with them in 20 minutes"

They decided 20 minutes was worth the wait. And from that point on Elder Shepherd and I stopped worrying. I felt at peace even though everything was stressful. At about 2:30 I remembered the font was filling so I ran in there to check on it. It was completely full. It was here that Elder Shepherd pointed out "The font is filled by the time we are ready to start."

When the baptism finally started at 3pm, after everyone waited for an hour, it went wonderfully. Seeing the children in the water with Elder Shepherd made everything worth it. The joy and peace we felt was overwhelming.

So let me just tell you all now. I know God answers prayers, even if it isn't how you expected. I asked him to let the font be filled by the time we were ready to start. And the time we were ready to start was moved, which allowed the font to fill.
I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love the little children. As it shows in both the Bible and Book of Mormon. The worth of every soul is great in the sight of God, especially the children.

I love you all, have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

PS. When we first filled the font, it was up to the 4th tile, or the next step.