Monday, September 25, 2017

Week One Hundred-Two: It Is Finished.

Dear Beloved Everyone,

This is the last email from Elder D. Joseph Wilcken while in Zimbabwe Harare Mission. By this time next week I will be home.

I have loved this time so much. There is nothing I would trade these last two years for. It has been a wonderful blessing in my life and I cannot wait for my "next assignment". I know that God our Heavenly Father lives and loves us. I have felt a small portion of his love for the people of Zimbabwe. I love this land and this people so much. My heart mourns for their trials but I know God is mindful of them.

I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. That he lived, walked with men, and died for each individual. I know that He rose again and stands in power and glory at the right hand of the Father, and that he leads His Church through divine revelation. I know that his chosen prophets and apostles know Him and lead us in His way. I know that Joseph Smith was the chosen prophet to restore truth to the earth in these Last days.

I know these things to be true through the Power of the Holy Ghost. I have spent two years learning to recognize His gentle guidance in my life. I know that he is as real as the Father and the Son, and that unitedly they stand supreme.

I love you all, I love this work. My two-year mission in a foreign land is over, but my work for the Lord never will be.

"I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end." - Moroni 8:3

"Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full." - 2 John 1:12

I say these things as a servant of God, in the name of His Holy Child, Jesus Christ. Amen.
-Elder D. Joseph Wilcken
Zimbabwe Harare Mission
October 2015 - September 2017

Week One Hundred-One: Special Treatment

When you are an assistant to the mission president, people look out for you.
My heart-felt thanks go out to the missionaries who set up the lunch tables for the zone conference in Gweru, so that we didn't need to. They even reserved us seats.

Dear Everyone,
This last week was a good one. We found some good people to teach, and we traveled to Gweru for their Zone Conference. This was the last Zone Conference that I attended as a Missionary of the Zimbabwe Harare Mission.

And the drive was pleasant both ways!

Today I got my last haircut in Zimbabwe, from my favorite Barber; Misheck.

This man has cut my hair since around February 2016.

And also, the broken Piston award has had some excitement. It no longer is "Stay till someone else gets it" because silly mistakes sometimes happen close together.

But on a more serious note, I have loved being in Zimbabwe so much. I love this place and the people too. I wouldn't trade these last two years for anything. I know that I have been serving the Living God and been on His errand. I know that Heavenly Father is real, and that his Son Jesus Christ atoned for our sins and that He too lives, and stands at the right hand of His Father. I know that through the Holy Ghost all humble seekers of truth can find what they search for.

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Week One Hundred: Abraham and Isaac

The Lord promised Abraham he would have great posterity. That through his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed. In his old age he had his son Isaac. And then, he was told to sacrifice him. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Dear everyone,

This week we had MLC and Zone conference, and things didn't always go as planned but it was still good.
We taught as we could, even had exchanges with the Zone leaders of Mutare.

And then Sunday was our Ward Conference, and we saw so many faces we had never seen before. So many returning members, only none of our investigators came.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord, for he has been merciful and kind to us. And despite the difficulty, we still have found more investigators and those we are teaching still all want to be baptized. And what more, the rest of our district and zone are continuing to find miracles.

I love you all, and I really hope you have a wonderful week.
Much Love,
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-Nine: Starting Off On a Great Note

Dearest family and friends,

I am so excited about this month. For the mission, under the guidance and assistance of the Lord, is doing wonders. We are seeing miracles before our eyes.

Last week I went on exchanges with Elder Bollinger from the Marimba Zone. We had a wonderful time and found many people to teach. But at the end of the day, he shared with me his experience about fasting for our investigators to come to church and testified that it brings miracles.

So yesterday, as it was fast Sunday, we fasted. And the miracles have not ceased. That morning, before church started we got a phone call from an individual that Elder Bollinger and I had contacted, informing us that he wanted to come to church but needed to find transport.
Instead of our average <4 investigators attending sacrament meeting, we had 8. But the real amazing thing happened for the other congregation that meets after us. They had 16 Investigators attending sacrament meeting.

And this week was the last week for investigators to start attending to be baptized this month. In our mission, we require church attendance for 3 Sundays before individuals can be baptized. So with these individuals, and those who have attended before, we have possibilty to achieve our goal of baptisms this month. In fact, most of the missionaries are super confident that they can achieve and even "smash" their goals this month. All with help from the Lord.

"I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?"

And lastly, I will tell you of our "miracle family", they are truly wonderful. We met them last Sunday, and they loved our message. We went back to teach them on Tuesday, and they had invited 3 more individuals to join the lesson, so we taught 9 people. The family of 5 and their friend all accepted baptismal dates for the 23rd of September. They had us come back again on Thursday, and then they came to church (minus the friend) on sunday, and enjoyed. They stayed for the Baptism of the Penyai child, and the Mama described it as "Beautiful".

So things are looking up. The Lord is merciful and kind. And he certainly is "merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end."

I will send pictures later because I forgot my camera at home this morning.
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-Eight: The Best 30 Days

That's what this next month is gonna be, just you wait.

Dear everyone,
I am doing so well. Like literally, you should be worried. I may get translated.
Just kidding, I have way too much work to do.

This last week we had some amazing things happen. The most amazing was that we had a General Auxiliary Leadership visit. Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President and member of the Missionary Executive Committee visited Zimbabwe with her husband and Elder Koch of the Area Presidency with his wife. They had a missionary devotional for an hour and a half and got to meet with us and shake our hands.
It was a wonderful experience and we learned a lot from it. I however didn't get to focus as much as I wanted as we had to organize roaming microphones that weren't working, and I also got to pass the microphone around as missionaries answered questions.

On Saturday the Priesthood holders of Mbare 1st Ward got together to finish painting gutters at a clinic, for a service project.

And on Sunday, probably the greatest thing, Brother Penyai got confirmed, and then after church we went over to their house and they introduced us to their neighbors. A family of 5, who also had a friend over. We taught them the Restoration and about the Book of Mormon, and they loved it. All 6 of them accepted a baptismal date of the 23rd of September, so hopefully, if they can make it to church, I can see them Baptized before I go. We will teach them again on Tuesday and so we will see how it goes.

This next Sunday we are expecting to baptize the Penyai child, as he wasn't yet ready yesterday.

The work is good, the work is progressing. This last month I am going to put my all into serving. No slowing down for me, for I know this isn't my work. I know that Heavenly Father loves each one of his Children, and that he has again put forth his hand to gather scattered Israel. Scattered Israel is here to be found in Zimbabwe. I know that Christ lives and that he loves us. I know this because of the Holy Ghost's teachings to me.

I love you all, I wish you the best this week.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-Seven: The Last "Transfer Week"

Hello my dearest everyone,

This week was the last "Transfer week" that I need to deal with. In that, next "transfer week" I will be no longer on the administrative end.

It was a chaotic week, but we pushed through and we got to the other end mostly unscathed. The new missionaries came into the mission, and honestly, nothing brings me more joy than to see new missionaries full of the spirit of the MTC. They are so fresh, so eager, so much better than seeing missionaries who just want to go home. In fact, just this morning, I asked one of them how their first week in Zimbabwe was, and they said it was wonderful and that they "never want to go home."

This is what missionaries should be like. This is why things are wonderful in Zimbabwe.

We didn't have much time to do anything spectacular this week. Aside from swapping around missionaries. But this week will be much more quiet so all should be spectacular. We potentially have the baptism of one of the Penyai boys this Sunday, so we are praying for that.

I know that this work is the Lord's work. Despite all the trials that we face, all will be for our good. Perhaps the words of the Prophets can help me to finish this email on a good note.
"Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever... I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

I love you all, I hope you have the best week possible.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-Six: Transfer 17/17

Dearest all.
Here is the knowledge that you seek this week.
I am happy, I am healthy, and and I am not trunky.

Also two of the three that were baptized last week got confirmed. So that was pleasant.

The work is progressing, the mission is on fire. Only good fire.
I love you all and I would write more except that today is chaotic.

Have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-Five: The Floodgates

We have had a kind of dry spell recently in terms of baptisms. However, this week, floodgates have opened. The windows of heaven pour out blessings.
My dearest everyone,
This week was wonderful.
We had a very powerful Mission Leadership Council, and we were able to do some good work in the area.
But the most exciting news is regarding the Penyai family.
They are wonderful people who came to church in January, fell off the radar, then were found again in the last couple months. We told them they would need to get married to be baptized and the wife didn't believe it could happen so soon.
They had a wonderful small office wedding with her Sister and the sister's husband.

And then, the following day (Sunday), they got baptized with their daughter.

The two other sons in the picture both also want to get baptized, so hopefully they too will enter the waters this month.
The work is good. I love all things the Lord does for us. He does things well. I know that the Book of Mormon is true scripture translated by a Prophet of God. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that our Father in Heaven loves us all.
I love you all and I hope you all have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-Four: What You Really Want to Know

Dear Everyone,
I love you all. I am so very happy. I am so much enjoying the work. I miss you all but I would not trade these last few weeks for anything. But I will see you all in no time.

Someone told me that is all people really want to know from me right now. And I hereby testify that it is true. Life is going wonderfully for me.

My companion and I are heating up and soon we may be on fire. We have been doing exchanges with zone leaders and we are gonna try and get a lot done in the next two weeks. We have been trying harder to emphasize the Book of Mormon more, and we have been striving to extend baptismal dates on the first lesson. We have 8 individuals with baptismal dates right now, however none came to sacrament meeting yesterday, so we may need to postpone some by a week or so.

But the work is moving swiftly. The elect are being gathered, scattered Israel is being gathered, and the Book of Mormon is hissing forth. The Lord is working through his weak servants to do many great things. I know this work is good and that this gospel that I am preaching is true. I have gained more understanding about the Book of Mormon in the last couple weeks than I have in my entire life. It is true, I absolutely know it is.

I love you all really, I hope you all have a wonderful week. Thank you for all of the thoughts and prayers.

-Elder Wilcken

PS: We also baptized a young man this week. We have been teaching him and his family as he stays in our boundaries, however we handed the baptism over to the Other Elders, as he has been attending that ward.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Week Ninety-Three: All on the Same Team

Dearest All,

This last week we had a zone conference in Gweru for the zones on that side of the mission, and we went on Exchanges with the Zone Leaders who serve in Kadoma. I got to spend the day with Elder Billings, who came on mission with me. We had a great time and I got to contact flats for the first time. (knocking every door in apartments basically)

Tomorrow we have the other zone conference for the Harare zones, Bindura, and Mutare. And then following that we should have exchanges with the Bindura Zone Leaders. (Previously we had planned to do that but it fell through.)

As for the baptisms we had scheduled, we had a young man named Earnest and a Brother named Tinashe scheduled for the 29th. However, because Earnest has been attending the other ward with his Cousin's family, we are allowing them to baptize him. Also Tinashe failed to come to church for the last couple weeks and he is traveling to South Africa for the next few months. So we are going to give his information to those missionaries so they can baptize him there.

It is wonderfully reassuring to know that this work isn't a competition. "When one baptizes we all baptize."

On the other hand, the family that we were planning to baptize on the 5th is still on date, their marriage banns are going smoothly and so their marriage should occur on the 5th, and the baptism on the 6th.

I know that this work is good. I am so grateful to be on the best mission ever, the Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Book of Mormon is true and a powerful testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ. And truly, it brings all who read it closer to Him. I know God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. I love you all.

I hope you all have been doing well, are doing well, and continue to do well.

Have a wonderful week,
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-Two: Missionary Work

Honestly, it is the best.

My dearest everyone,

I am very very happy right now. And I wish to share with you why.

Because this last week I have had a renewed conviction to serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength.

I have been reading more from the Book of Mormon each day, I have been trying harder to talk to more people, and I have been sharing my testimony with more people.

Trials abound, but they can be overcome. The work cannot be halted.

Life is good for the missionaries.

As for upcoming baptisms, there is hopefully some on the 29th, but then we have some on the 5th of august.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. The Lord is blessing His children, and things are looking up.

I love you all and wish you the best.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety-One: Every Day is "Monday"

In the Mission Office, Monday is the busiest day. Last week, every day was Monday.

To my dearest everyone,

Last Monday was transfer day, where missionaries move between areas in the mission. Tuesday is the day that finished missionaries depart and new missionaries arrive from the MTC. Wednesday we normally have training for the new missionaries, and then following that everything is calm.

Not this week though!
Monday went as expected. Tuesday we got 4/5 departing missionaries out of Zimbabwe. The 5th one however had her flight itinerary changed with no notice to us and so instead of leaving her at the airport as expected, we had to bring her back to the mission office with the new missionaries.

On Tuesday we also got 4/5 incoming missionaries. The 5th one was supposed to arrive straight from provo on the evening of Wednesday. Unfortunately, his passport wasn't gotten to him in time, and so his flights were delayed. He didn't arrive until Friday evening.

On Wednesday the trainings occurred and mostly went smoothly. We then had to pick up a returned missionary from the airport at 11am to take him to the bus stop. His flight had a technical problem and thus he was dropped off in Zambia. The alternate flight was to have them here by 5pm. When we went at 5pm, we learned the flight didn't go to zambia at all, and actually the passengers would arrive at 11pm. By Midnight there was no sign of any missionary.

The following morning, Thursday, we finally were able to pick up the Elder at 11am. And take sisters to their area. And we worked with President on agenda's for upcoming meetings.

Friday we finally were able to teach some lessons, but then we had to return to the office in the afternoon for some more logistics and then in the evening picking up the new missionary. His companion, Elder McDougal had been with us since Monday.

And on Saturday we did the orientation for the new missionary including Breakfast at the mission home.

Every Day was busy, every day we went to the Office, every day was "Monday"

But nevertheless, the work is good. The work is moving forward. This week is MLC and we also hope to do exchanges with the Bindura Zone Leaders, so we should make some good progress.

I know that I am doing the work of the Lord, even though it may not always be the standard "thrusting in of a sickle". I know that he is really there and that he loves us all. I hope you all have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Ninety: Transfer 16/17 - Busy Busy

Hello my dear everyone,

I am sorry for the lack of information recently, things have just been very busy. So let me hit some highlights.

Today is transfer day, I am still with Elder Scoresby as AP. And this time we had to organize everything all day. Which is why I have very little time to write today.

We baptized sister Tsungi last week and she was confirmed that following Sunday. She was so happy, she speaks practically no English and she is very shy, but she bore a simple and sweet testimony in Shona after her baptism.

We have been teaching many people recently, and honestly, we are just having a blast. Everything is going very well. We found one of our Recent Converts was struggling, and we were able to catch him at the perfect time and help him when he needed us. It was wonderful.

And lastly, many of you may be curious about when I am going home. I have been talking to the Mission Secretary and she is in the process of requesting our travel itineraries. So I should know soon (hopefully next week) when I come home, and then I will send my itinerary to those who need it. But for now, this is the most recent update of information: she has told me that I can let my family know that I should be home on Friday the 29th of September, possibly in the morning/early afternoon. Which is awesome, because it will be just in time for General Conference.

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

Week Eighty-Nine: I Don't Have Much to Say This Week

But I love you all.

This week we got to do office stuff and proselyting stuff. This next week we are hoping to do exchanges with some of the zone leaders. It should be great.

In our area we had two families that were supposed to be baptized this week, but they hadn't been coming to church to get their marriages sorted out, so they hopefully will get baptized next week. We also had 4 other investigators with baptismal dates, yet two of them weren't coming to church. Two of them had come to church, yet we learned that one of them needs to get married before baptism. So in short: 10 people with baptismal date, 2 of them made it to sacrament meeting, and one of them will get baptized this weekend. The others we are going to work with for July.

But I think things are going well. The mission is on track to hit it's yearly goal, and so we know that the work is progressing.

I love you all, I know that this is truth. I know my Father in Heaven loves me and that His Priesthood has been restored to the earth for the benefit of His children. I know that Jesus Christ lives and guides his church in these last days.

Have a wonderful week,
-Elder Wilcken.

Week Eighty-Eight: Been to Bulawayo

But I still can't speak Ndebele.
And now for a chapter from the Book of Wilcken:

The Assistants to President Mkhabela travel to Gweru for a Zone Conference. They Perform Exchanges with the Bulawayo Zone Leaders. They return to Harare for a Zone Conference. Week 88

    1. And it came to pass that we traveled to Gweru for the gathering of the Missionary Zones and we did organize them and did teach them the will of the Lord pertaining to their gatherings and their record keeping.
    2. And we saw that the Elders, yea, and even the Sisters, did understand the word of the Lord and they did accept it with gladness.
    3. And it came to pass that we did proceeded forth unto the land of Bulawayo where we dwelt with the leaders of that zone for a time, and worked with them in bringing souls unto Christ.
    4. And behold, the field is white, and we beheld that their labor is not in vain.
    5. And it came to pass that I, Elder Wilcken, said unto my companion "These Elders are doing well."
    6. And he spake unto me saying, "Let us go back up to the land of Harare, unto our own area. For it must needs be that we organize the Missionary Zones there and in the land round about, that they too may know the will of the Lord pertaining to their gatherings and the keeping of their records.
    7. And it came to pass, that we did take our journey into the wilderness, and did pass through the city Gweru, and the city of Kwekwe, and the city of Kadoma, and the lad of Chegutu, up until a time that we were stopped by the way and were questioned about with many words.
    8. And behold, we did impart unto them of the Word of God, and they rejoiced among themselves as we continued our journey into the wilderness.
    9. And it came to pass that we did join the servants of the Lord that dwelt in Harare and in the Land round about, and we did administer unto them according to their needs.
    10. And we did behold that their labor was pleasing unto the Lord. And thus ended the 86th week since Elder Wilcken entered Zimbabwe.

-Elder Wilcken.

Week Eighty-Six and Eighty-Seven: Busy Busy

Hello my dear everyone,

So far being an Assistant to the President has been very very busy. On the first week we had to perform logistics for the departing missionaries and the new missionaries. In one day we had to go to the airport for 5 different flights throughout the day. We had to set up, attend, and host two different dinners and lead a portion of the Training Meeting for the new ones.

Last week we had the Mission Leadership Council on Monday and Tuesday which included hosting another dinner and training the Leaders on policies for meetings and record-keeping. The rest of last week was more normal in that we got to go to our area for most of it.

We have found quite a few new investigators as a companionship, and we also have many investigators on track to be baptized this month. There are two couples that want to get married so that they can get baptized, including their child(ren). Things are looking very up for us.

Today we have to drive from Harare to Gweru (about a 4 hour road trip), so we are leaving a little bit before preparation day ends. Tomorrow we have a zone conference there and then we are going to Bulawayo on wednesday to do exchanges with the zone leaders there, then back to harare for another zone conference on Friday. So this is going to be another very busy week. But the work is good.

I hope you all are doing very well. I am grateful to hear from those who are able to write.

I know that this is true, that really God is there and that he knows us. I have felt the peace that comes from going to him in prayer. I know that truly Christ died for our sins to allow us to be forgiven. I know that they love every single person in this world.

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

Weeks Eighty-Four and Eighty-Five: Transfer 15/17

Hello my dear everyone,

I missed emailing last week because we went to Masvingo and Great Zimbabwe.
And while on that trip I got a phone call to tell me I got an Award from the Mission Office.

The Award is called the Broken-Piston Award.

Here is the Mission-News article about it:
"The Broken Piston Award is given to missionaries who do something ill-advised while driving their car. The first award goes to Elder Wilcken who was approaching a toll station. He was looking down trying to find money when he ran into the back of the car in front of him. Elder Mwaja did not help his companion by having the money available for him or warning him about the car in front. They further compounded the problem by not getting the other driver's name and phone number after the accident. Everyone, learn from their mistake."

So yeah, not the best award, but let me explain what happened really. We hit the spare-tire of a car, deflated it, and the tire rim scratched our hood. So not at all a terrible accident, but still a foolish mistake.

But that brings me to why I am in the mission office to pose with my award:
This transfer I am serving in the Mbare Area of the Harare East Zone, with my companion Elder Scoresby, as Assistants to the Mission President. 

So I am back in the Mission Office, but this time as proselyting elders. We will only be in the office for transfers, meetings, and all that Jazz. Still expect to hear about the baptisms in coming weeks.

But for now, I hope things are all well for you. Things will be if you stay on the right path.
I know this is the true gospel. I really do know. I have had so many things to prove this to me. 
I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ dies for our sins and that both of Them appeared to the boy Joseph Smith to start the restoration of the Gospel.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week,
-Elder Wilcken

Week Eighty-Three: Going Hiking Today

Well that's the plan at least. We were invited to go Hiking in Shurugwi. I hope to be able to get some pictures from my companion as my camera is still broken.

Not much to report this week. We had a baptism of the two twins who were home from school holiday. They left today back for school.

This Saturday we have scheduled the Baptism for Brother Simon's wife, and even next Saturday we were hoping to have our first Shurugwi Baptism. Unfortunately that one might fall through till the following week. We will see.

I know that this is the Lord's work and that his hand is in it. I know that we are not alone in it. I know Heavenly Father loves us all. Jesus is the Christ.

I love you all, I wish you the best this week.

-Elder Wilcken

Week Eighty-Two: It's MLC Monday Again

Hello my loved ones,

Yes, even you. You don't think I know that you read this. But you are one of my loved ones as well.
It is time again for the Missionary Leadership Council. And as such I am in Harare again. It was a long trip on the Bus, and I sang hymns for most of it. I thought the engine was too loud for me to be heard, but apparently the missionaries around me could hear me, and apparently I disturbed their sleep. But one of them joined me in singing near the end, so it wasn't all bad.

Let me give details for what has occurred recently with our baptismal goals. Earlier in the Month we Baptized Bro. Lesley and Sis. Panashe, and though one of them had a delayed confirmation, they both are confirmed now. This last Saturday we baptized a brother named Leonard and he also got confirmed yesterday, so we had 3 baptisms for our area.

Our Zone ended with a total of 23 Baptisms, 20 Confirmations for the month of April. Our goal was 40, so in short, this was much better than last month's 13.

"Even Miracles take a little time."

Our goal this month is 43. Because that is what the missionaries sent to us. We were well pleased.
And in other news, Shurugwi is being prepared by the Lord.

I went there on Wednesday on exchanges with one of the Assistants to the mission president. We had 4 lessons set in an area called Ironsides, but all 4 of them fell through, and it was still early in the morning. So we went tracting and found 3 lessons to make up for it. That last lesson was a bit of a miracle.

We were heading towards our car, and I stopped at a pathway, put my arms out to the side for emphasis, and declared "I have never gone past this line." I stood for a few seconds, then dropped my arms and said "Lets go find someone."

We walked to the next street, and I stopped and saw a man walking up the road. I decided to talk to him, and I stood awkwardly in the middle of the road as my companion and our Ward Missionary went to contact some people on the side. I stood there until the man got near, then I greeted him in Shona. I introduced myself in Shona and he was impressed that I spoke. I told him I was still learning and then shared the message of "The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" with him. I showed him the pamphlet and summarized the message as I flipped through the pages. When I nearly finished, he interrupted me and asked "Are you selling this?"

I explained "No, we give them for free but we also put our phone number on the back if you have questions."

He responded simply with "I need this."

I asked where he was going and he said home, I asked if he was busy and he said no. I asked if we could come and share the message right then and he said of course.

We followed him to his house, he introduced us to his neighbors, showed us clearly where he stayed so that we wouldn't get lost, and then sat down with us and let us share. As we share the message with him, he loved it so much. We testified of it's truth and he felt the Spirit. We invited him to come to church and he eagerly accepted. Then our ward missionary invited him to prepare for baptism, and he accepted a baptismal date. It was wonderful.

We have had so many other wonderful experiences in Shurugwi that I cannot describe in brevity. But the last one I will share is our trip on Saturday with President Mkhabela.

He agreed to go there with us because I felt strongly that it needed a branch. We rode with him in his vehicle and as we brought him to the first neighborhood we wanted to show him, he was very impressed. So impressed that he actually slowed his car to a stop in the middle of the road and looked at all that he could see. He then stated that this place needs the church. As we lead him around he became more and more amazed, even began making plans on the quickest and best way to get a branch there. Also explaining that we need to bring the Stake President there to see it, how he wishes we could've brought one of the Area Presidency there, etc. The more he saw the more he agreed, this place needs the church.

The current hope is that the Stake can extend the boundaries to include it, and then start a group and a branch. That should be much quicker than starting a mission branch, but if it isn't going to work out President Mkhabela said he would be willing to try.

This place is so ready for the Gospel that we are literally seeing so many things fall into place. It is wonderful.

I love you all, I love this work. I have had so much joy recently, it is wonderful.

I know that Heavenly Father lives and that he knows me and each one of you. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that he lives and that he loves us all. I know this through the unspeakable power of the Holy Ghost. This is truth, and I love it.

Have a wonderful week.

-Elder Wilcken

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Week Eighty-One: Prepared People

Dear Everyone,

I love serving in Shurugwi. As we contact people and introduce the church, we find other people will listen in and ask about it. People are welcoming and friendly and say "Come by anytime". We were shown a family by a member, and when we met with them for the first time, we asked if they knew of anyone else who would be interested, and then they took us right then and there to their next door neighbor where we introduced our message. Then as we left they invited us back into their home so that we could pray with them before going to our next appointment.

In 3 days of proselyting we found 35 families/individuals that were interested. And we are going to start teaching as many of those as we can.

Things are going well, we are doing much good.

Our zone has had 19 baptisms so far, and this week we are looking forward to more. We have one brother preparing to be baptized this weekend who was found by the other Elders in our ward. And perhaps those who have been hearing from me for a while will remember that there were two children preparing for baptism a few months ago until they went off to school. Well yesterday we found that they were back and they agreed to be baptized on the 6th of May. We also have the wife of one of our recent converts who set her own baptismal date of 20 May.

Truly, the work is moving forward.

I know that God lives and is our Heavenly Father, and that his Son Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that their Church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. And I know that anyone who sincerely prays to know these things and many more things can receive their answer through the Holy Ghost.

I love you all and wish you the best this week.

-Elder Wilcken

Week Eighty: To Open a Proselyting Area

Dear Everyone,

First of all, There were some changes made at transfers that I didn't mention. The first one being that our zone went from 18 to 15 missionaries. Our Ward of Mkoba 1st went from having 4 missionaries to just my companion and I. The Sister Missionaries went from being two companionships in two areas, to one tri-panionship covering two areas (Mkoba 5th and Gweru Town). Everything else stayed pretty much the same.

Except we also got approval to begin proselyting in a mining town called Shurugwi. This is the first time missionaries have been there from our church. The closest congregation for the people to attend is Gweru Town that the sisters cover. As a result, we are approved to attend Gweru Town Ward on the weeks that the Sisters are attending Mkoba 5.

So in summation, We attend Mkoba 1st and Gweru Town (Shurugwi), and the Sisters attend Mkoba 5th and Gweru Town.

And despite the shrinking of our zone, we are doing much better than we have been the past couple months with our goals. So far we have more than we achieved for the whole of last month, and we still have many more baptisms lined up for the rest of the month. The Lord is blessing us.

And now we as the Zone Leaders have the biggest proselyting area. For Mkoba 1st covers 11 different villages (about half of Mkoba), and Shurugwi is roughly the size of the entirety of Bindura.
Prayers are much appreciated.

But otherwise, I am happy and healthy. I am enjoying Gweru and my companion. We are doing good in the Lord's vineyard.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. As yesterday was Easter, it is the perfect time to remember the Savior and his sacrifice and resurrection. Because of Him we shall all conquer death. Because of Him we can have peace in this life and in the life to come.

I know He lives and that He loves us all. There is no other way to true happiness but by Him. I love you all.

Until next time,

-Elder Wilcken

Week Seventy-Nine: Transfer 14/17 Starts Now

Hello all,

How are things lately?

I have now started my 14th 6-week period of time on mission. My Companion is still Elder Mwaja, and I am still in Gweru. At the end of this transfer It will have been 6 months in Gweru. Wow, huh?

I just want to tell you all, General Conference was amazing. Absolutely amazing. I loved it all. I'll have to go more in detail next time, if I remember that is.

But I will tell you all now, that the Book of Mormon truly is the Word of God. on the surface it is an awesome book to read, with a wonderful narrative, but it is so much more than that. It is spiritually uplifting words from true prophets of the Almighty God. It is true scripture that testifies of the Glory and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is true, I know with all my heart that it is. And as such, Joseph Smith truly did translate it by the gift and power of God. Thus, he is a true prophet. I know this is true. And as this is true, The Church of Jesus Christ was restored through him in these last days. God the Father lives, He is there and He loves us. Jesus Christ is His Son and our Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I know this is true through the testimony I have received through the Holy Ghost, for he reveals the truth of all things.

I love you all, have a wonderful week.

-Elder Wilcken

Week Seventy-Eight: I Love Learning Things

I can't tell you all how much I love this. All of this.

To my dearest everyone,

Let me share with you something I have learned:

God is a God of truth, he cannot lie. (Ether 3:12)

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:16)

Truth is a knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come. (D&C 93:24)

In short, truth and knowledge is of God, and therefore, good.

There is never a time when mankind has learned everything. Everyone is always learning. This is good.

You can learn things on your own, and it will fill your carnal mind with carnal knowledge. But learning goes to a completely knew level when you add God into the learning.

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead, it testifies and witnesses of truth. (Moroni 10:5) You can think of him like the smartest individual in the world. Lets say you were studying a topic, and you figured something out. Then along comes the smartest individual in the world and says "Wow, you did a good job, that is exactly right. You have learned truth." How would you feel then?
Or lets say you figured something out, but the smartest individual said "sorry my friend, that just simply isn't true." How would you feel then?

To bring it onto a lower level, lets say you were in school and you were assigned a problem to figure out for homework. It was a very difficult problem, but after much studying and trials, you found an answer that works. You take your homework assignment back to the teacher and they say "Wow, you got it right! you did a wonderful job, you must have worked very hard. *gold star*" How would you feel then?

Now on the other side, lets say you worked hard and then came back to the teacher. But this time the teacher says "sorry, this isn't the right answer. Maybe try checking this part." How would you feel then?

This is how the Holy Ghost answers us. God doesn't want to give us everything without trying, but he wants us to learn and to grow. You must study it out in your mind and ask if it be right. (D&C 9:8) If the "Teacher", the Holy Ghost sees your solution is correct, he will cause your "bosom to burn" with "Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith..." (Galatians 5:22).

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings (D&C 9:9)

When you learn without the guidance of one who knows, it is much more difficult to find truth. If you were going through school without a teacher to check your work you would find much difficulty when you get to the final exam.

No one ever stops learning. Just as in school, where we start learning addition, then work our way up to probabilities, statistics, calculus, etc, we also are always learning. No one knows everything in this life. But those who know more can help those who are still learning.

As I said earlier, I love learning. I have much to learn, and my knowledge is not perfect. But I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who has allowed me to go through this life and learn so much.
I know I am doing the Lord's work. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The Holy Ghost is our comforter and teacher if we will seek his counsel.

I love you all, have a wonderful week.

-Elder Wilcken

P.S. The area is very good.

Week Seventy-Seven: Car Troubles

Dear Everyone,

So recently we had noticed a strange buzzing sound from the back of our car. We were preparing for a trip to Masvingo, which is about 179km away, so I felt it should be checked prior. As we took it to the shop we learned the rear brake pads were worn out completely.

I was so glad to not drive that car to Masvingo. But we then were given authorization to use the Sister's car, which was much worse off. It also had a strange noise, and following the 400km trip, It was not well off. But thankfully all is well, no one is hurt, and our car got fixed.

As for our area, Brother Leslie is excited to be baptised next month, as well as one of the friends of the Tamwa girls, Panashe. She agreed to be baptized on the 15th of April on the same day as Leslie. So hopefully that will all go well.

Mama Tamwa went to South Africa to hopefully get helped with her gallstones. Then when she returns their marriage preparations will commence again.

I am well aware that this work is wonderful. It is not at all a joke, peoples lives are changed for the better everyday. Heavenly Father loves each of his children, and this really is the true church of Jesus Christ.

I love you all and wish you the best this week.

-Elder Wilcken

Week Seventy-Six: Fear Not, It Is I

Dear Everyone,

It has been a while. Don't worry, I am well. I have just been very busy lately.

These last few weeks have been very busy with Elder Mwaja. He is a wonderful companion and we have been working hard. Gweru seems to be in a bit of a dry spell, and we can't learn why. I think possibly poor planning in the past, but we are fixing now so the future will be brighter.

Your prayers are always appreciated.

Currently my companion and I have only one brother progressing for Baptism, brother Leslie. He is super cool and composes "beats" on the computer. He came to church yesterday and seems excited for next time.

The Tamwa Parents had to be put on hold because of health dilemmas, the Husband has TB still, but also we learned the Wife has gallstones as of two years ago, and sometimes they act up really badly. She is hoping to travel soon for operation, which means it will delay their marriage and baptism. But they are not discouraged, they still love the gospel.

The older daughter, Tsitsi became a Ward Missionary a few weeks ago so we have been working with her to teach her friends. Most of the people we are currently teaching has come from the Tamwa family. It is wonderful.

Last week I gave a talk in a zone conference where I spoke boldly (hopefully without overbearance) and many people loved it. I got calls all throughout the week from missionaries thanking me. I spoke about the Laborers in the Vineyard, using the Lord's Time wisely, repentence, and so forth. It was very good.

I know that I am on the Lord's errand, I am doing His work. I know He loves me and each one of you.

Have a wonderful week!

-Elder Wilcken

Week Seventy-Three: Transfer 13/17

Dear Everyone,

Gotta keep things brief this week.

I am still Zone Leader In Gweru. My new companion is Elder Mwaja from Tanzania. He is super cool from what I've seen so far. Elder Mahlangu went to my hometown of Bindura.

This week has been super busy with errands and baptisms and all the such. We had 8 new converts to the church. We also had a lot of trouble with plumbing at houses. A lot of rain storms, etc.

One of the greatest Sister Missionaries I've worked with went home last week as well, but she has served the Lord well and I know she is doing what the Lord wants her to do now.

I would tell more stories, but I have like no time today. We need to go pick up more missionaries entering our zone.

I know this work is the greatest work in the world. I know I am in the service of the Lord. I am so blessed to be here in Zimbabwe. I love you all, and I hope you have a wonderful week.

-Elder Wilcken

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week Seventy-Two: The Time is Extremely Short

Dear Everyone,

How are you doing? How have you been?

On Saturday we had the baptism for Tsitsi and Rudo Tamwa, and it was wonderful. The water was very cold. But they were very happy about it. Yesterday they were confirmed members of the church. And in the evening we went to their home and answered their questions about the missionary handbook. Yes, we gave our investigators the missionary handbook. They were so excited about missionary work and kept asking us the rules we follow and we felt it simpler to just give them the handbooks. The Father is doing better, he is adjusting to his medications.

We have had a lot of success in teaching people. I mentioned before I think that it was so difficult to have investigators at church. Well recently that has all changed. The Sabbath is again a delight. When I first arrived it was frequently no investigators at church. Now it is rare for us not to have investigators or returning members at church, and most of it is because of the Tamwa family.

Elder Bamutesiza and I were both asked to give on the spot talks at sacrament meeting yesterday, and we both loved the opportunity.

This week in our zone meeting I shared with my Zone about Achan from Joshua chapter 7. We discussed about keeping from the accursed thing, and the missionaries understood it well.
I drew a clock on the chalkboard for the working day (6am-6pm). For as Jesus said, "are there not 12 hours in a day?"
I drew a line going through 2:15pm. And explained to my zone members that it was where I was. If my mission started at 6am, and will end at 6pm, Then I am at 2:15pm.
I used this to emphasize what our handbook states "The period when you are able to serve the Lord with all your time and all your efforts is extremely short. Use it fully and wisely." I told them I couldn't tell them exactly how long I had wasted of the 8 hours and 15 minutes I had been working in the Lord's vineyard, because honestly I don't know. But I told them I will not waste the last 3 hours and 45 minutes. Many were affected by this message. But it is true. I am going to do all the work I can for the rest of this precious time.

I love you all, I wish you all the best for this week. Enjoy the Lord's blessings.
-Elder Wilcken.

Week Seventy-One: It is Not Requisite That a Man Run Faster Than He Has Strength

And so I didn't, President's orders.

Dear Everyone,

This week we had MLC and learned powerful things about Zone Culture, obedience, etc. We each were told to come up with the culture we wanted to see in our zones. I came up with something simple. "Acknowledge flaws but don't accept them. When you accept them you cease progressing. Strive for constant improvement, to be even as He is, Flawless."

President shared with us his culture, the one he wanted us to adopt. "Don't allow Achan into your zone." This is in reference to the account in Joshua of the Old Testament, how one man, Achan, disobeyed the Lord and brought the whole of the children of Israel under condemnation.

When we returned from MLC I was feeling great, much healthier than I had been with my slight flu. Wednesday Morning I awoke and had a terrible, terrible flu. I slept most of the day and actually had to have the sisters come from their area to drive us in our car to the clinic. Then they dropped us off at home and returned to their area. Then on Thursday we had interviews with President Mkhabela that we had to organize and run, and he told me to go home and rest for the rest of the day. So Friday was the first day in the area for us this week, and yet we still had a pretty productive week. Primarily because of the Tamwa family.

I love this family, they are the best ever. We started them on a Book of Mormon read-through from 1 Nephi chapter 1. We read with them and expounded the scriptures, then left. When we returned they were on chapter 2, and not yet finished because they frequently would pause to explain to each other and ask questions. This family is so wonderful. On Sunday they brought another less-active family to church, and they all enjoyed it.
However they encountered a trial that they are working through. The father encountered a serious sickness and is now on a multiple-month medication course. And as a result, his marriage and baptism needs to be postponed because he is home-bound for a couple weeks. Yet he told us to not make his daughters wait, and to let them be baptized this weekend, so the two girls will be baptized on Saturday.

The work is progressing very well. Key Indicators for missionaries changed recently, so now we only report Baptized and Confirmed, Investigators with Baptismal Date, Investigators who attend Sacrament Meeting, and New Investigators. So it is now interesting.

But this work is good. This gospel is true. I know it so much. I cannot deny it. I love you all. Have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

Week Seventy: Golden Family

My apologies, today will have a short email. Today is MLC Monday.

However, the Tamwa family is like a golden bunch of bananas, all ready to be plucked. They are continuing to accept every message we share eagerly. Whenever we arrive they report on who read the material, who didn't, and other amusing stories. But we learned that they started reading the books together as a family, and even having family prayers, all on their own. Before we asked them to do so.

They brought a less-active member to church with them yesterday, and when we met with them that evening, they told us they found another who said they would come with them to church. These people are powerful. They are eagerly coming to church activities, they are asking us repeatedly when they will meet with bishop so they can get married and baptized, it is great.

We had a pretty slow week though this last week because many missionaries are having flu. So we had to run a lot of errands. But things are looking up.

Oh yeah, and Zone Conference with Elder Ellis of the Seventy was awesome. I found out as we were walking in that I was conducting the meeting. Surprise! It was very good, very spiritual. Very uplifting.

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

Week Sixty-Nine: To Paraphrase the Words of Joseph Smith Jr.

We taught people and had three baptisms.
("I taught a sermon and baptized three")

Dear everyone,

This week was a great week. We had the baptism of Sister Sarah, and things went very smoothly despite only having two members, 4 missionaries, and her daughter in attendance. It was a wonderfully sweet service.

Then the sisters in town had a fall-through with their "John the Baptist". And had no one to perform the ordinance. So for the first time in just under a year, I entered the waters of Baptism. It was wonderful. So much so that I then also volunteered for the other baptism that the other set of sisters was having at the furthest chapel. It is wonderful to be able to perform such important ordinances.

But ultimately, I will say, those who have the opportunity to attend baptismal services should attend. It really is so wonderful when there are many people to show support as someone makes such a big step in their lives. Our baptism had a total of 7 people to support. The Sisters in town had 8. And they were alright, but the happiest individuals baptized were those of the third baptism, who had a full room of people in attendance. Sure you may not know the individual, they may not remember you were there, but it will mean a lot for them to know that people care for them.

But nevertheless, this week was a wonderful week. And tomorrow Elder Ellis of the Seventy is coming to Gweru to have a missionary Zone Conference.

I know this work is truly God's work. I hope you all will know as I know, if you don't know.

Much love to you all,

-Elder Wilcken

Week Sixty-Eight: Miracles Have Not Ceased!

Dear Everyone,

This week was a great week.

We had a wonderful Baptism for Brother Simon, and 5 other individuals for the other elders. Brother Simon is learning very well and his testimony was very powerful.

He shared how at first when we invited him to church he thought we weren't serious so he didn't go. Then we were scheduled to see him on Tuesday at noon. He then told everyone how he waited at home until 2pm and we didn't show up, thus we weren't serious. But then at 3pm he saw us and let us teach him. We again invited him to church and he thought "maybe these guys are serious" and thus he started coming to church. Now in our defense, Tuesdays are often very busy for zone leaders. But that is no excuse to be late.

He bore a powerful testimony about the church and the Book of Mormon. And then on Sunday, yesterday, he was confirmed a member of the church.

Yesterday we also had no investigators show up to sacrament meeting. The reason? It was raining super hard. And no one here has cars really. Our Mission vehicle is often the only thing in the parking lot. But then to our surprise, a really drenched mama showed up during Gospel Principles class. Her name is Sister Tamwa.

We met her daughter while teaching another investigator. We let her join the lesson and scheduled a time to teach her. When we came to her house the mama was busy but said we could start. Near the end of the Restoration lesson the mama joined us, so we reviewed everything we had previously shared real briefly.

When we got to Joseph Smith, I asked her if she ever wondered why there were so many churches.
"Oh yes I have, in fact just the other day I was asking myself that. I don't want to lie, I'm not going to church right now. I was going to an apostolic church but then the prophet said something [that she didn't like] and since then I've been sitting at home every Sunday, But I want to go to a church so I've been talking to my daughters about finding a new church for us. Then my daughter told me she met two pastors (us) who taught her and that they were coming to see us and she said 'mama this could be the church you were looking for' so I am going to go to your church now. When do you meet?"

Now that is paraphrased, but that is what she said. We told her Sundays from 9-12, and then commenced with the rest of the lesson. We told her about the restoration of the church through Joseph Smith and then gave them a Book of Mormon to which she said "Oh my daughters are going to fight for that book, they aren't good at sharing". She told us many times "I am coming on Sunday, I will see you there."

And sure enough, she came, drenched from head to toe, literally dripping water, because she didn't have an umbrella. She told us she commenced with her two daughters but they turned back in the rain. She walked all the rest of the way alone and when she arrived, found a member and asked where the missionaries were since we were the only ones she knew.

Sister Tamwa joined the relief society class and was welcomed wonderfully. After church when we asked how it was, she said it was wonderful and that she is coming to an activity on Saturday at 2pm with the Sisters.

Later that afternoon we came to visit her and her two daughters. The mother was telling her daughters how wonderful church was. We taught them the introduction to the Book of Mormon and they understood well. We then invited them to each read it, ponder it, and pray to ask if it is true. To which she responded "It's true." We were surprised a bit, but told her it was good and I promised that if she prays she will know for certain it is true. To which she said "It's true, I know it's true. The introduction said it is true." She and her daughters all agreed to read it. (we gave them an extra copy to avoid contention)
I have found truth in the words of the Savior: "Mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts".

It was wonderful. It warms my heart. It is true.

But anyway, that is pretty much all I had to report on. I will attach pictures of the Great Zimbabwe trip for last week's email.

Have a wonderful week all of you,
-Elder Wilcken

Week Sixty-Seven: Transfer 12/17

My dear everyone, How is life?

Where was Elder Wilcken last week? What happened? What awesome thing did he get up to that caused him not to email home?
More of that will come later.

But let me cover this first. This is the start of my 12th transfer on mission. Meaning I have been on mission for 6 weeks x 11 transfers = 66 weeks.
Here is my transfer news: I am staying in Gweru. My companion is Elder Mahlangu. I am Zone Leader, serving in an area called Mkoba 1st, and the two other Elders in our house are Elder Bamutesiza and Elder Kunene. Essentially, it is the same as last transfer.

Some of our zone has changed, but mostly it is the same. And we have a baptismal goal of 40 that we are working for. Prayers are appreciated for that.

Currently my companion and I have the baptism of Brother Simon this Saturday, the 21st, and of a brother McDonald and Sister Sarah on the 28th. They are all wonderful and coming to church. Miracles are not ceasing.

Now what happened last week to cause Elder Wilcken to be absent?
Well, we had missionaries in Masvingo who needed us to deliver something to them. So we received permission from the AP's to go as a household and then to extend the journey a little further. And we went to Great Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe meaning House of Stone). It is an ancient ruin and historical landmark.
We took some awesome pictures, but I don't have access to them right now on the computers we are using. (no USB ports). So I will receive them later and send later. If not later today then hopefully next week.

But all in all, I am happy and strong. Gweru is powerful. I am in the Lord's service.
We had a zone meeting on tuesday and my companion presented on Repentence and I presented on Conversion. And I felt like it was powerful. I shared the difference between testimony and conversion. How someone can have a much stronger testimony but be less converted. There was one part in particular I felt was very powerful. I shared that those who are converted seek to do good, they do not rebel against the Lord, they share the gospel with others, etc. I pointed out that most missionaries have strong testimonies, but through disobedience and rebellion, they show they are not converted. I then felt prompted to emphasize the point in a certain way, that I hope wasn't overly inappropriate.

I pulled my Missionary Handbook out of my shirt pocket and held it up for all to see. I declared to them all "If we do not keep these rules, we are rebelling against God. We are not converted if we throw them away." and then I emphasized this by throwing my book to the side on the floor. At this half the room erupted in gasps and shock, even some ready to scold me. I pointed to the book on the floor and spoke clearly "You get shocked when I throw the book away, yet when someone throws the rules away in their hearts you accept it as normal."
The room went silent as I picked up my book and continued to share. I encouraged them all to become converted unto the Lord, and when they are converted to strengthen their brothers and sisters. I shared about how even the strongest converts can falter if they are not strengthened.

Afterwards, when new missionaries were giving testimonies, two of them bore testimony about conversion. Other missionaries had tears in their eyes. One Elder came to me afterwards and hugged me and thanked me for my discussion.

I know this work is true. I have a strong testimony of my Savior and this church. I like most others am still working on my conversion. But I am getting more and more converted by the day. I love you all. I pray for the Lord to bless you.

Have a wonderful week.
-Elder Wilcken

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Week Sixty-Six: 2017, the Last Week

Good day to you all!

This week has been wonderful, very spiritual, but frankly, I am in Harare for Missionary Leadership Council so I have very little time to email. But just know I am happy, healthy, and serving well.
We have this amazing investigator named Simon. He is powerful. He is the only man coming to church as an investigator. And he has read all of the pamphlets we have given and understood them. It makes me happy. He has agreed to work towards baptism for the 21st of January, assuming his work schedule allows.

We have also found some wonderful less-active members who are so happy to see us. One of them is a brother who loves his Hymnbook and wants us to teach his family. Another lead us to other members we didn't know who wants their daughters to be baptized. It makes me happy.

I really wish I could explain further, but maybe next time.

I love you all. I know this is the Lord's work. He is truly helping us with it.

Have a wonderful week!

-Elder Wilcken

Week Sixty-Five: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

And to all a good week.

This week is a brief email simply because there is no time.

Today we had to wait for an electrician to show up, then we had to help sister missionaries. Then we had to return for the electrician, then we got to email just now-now. And I have like 5 minutes left.

But this week was very good. We finally had a powerful investigator come to the Christmas Activity on Saturday, and then Sacrament on Sunday! it was amazing.

On Thursday we had interviews with President Mkhabela, then my companion and I drove to Masvingo for baptismal interviews (it is so far 392.8 km that day). Then on Saturday our district went caroling at a local hospital. There were like a dozen patients, and we just wandered the halls singing, but people seemed to enjoy it. Later that day we did a performance at the ward Christmas Activity. We sang Away in a Manger (with More Holiness Give Me as the 2nd verse), then Far Far Away on Judea's plains, then finished with The First Noel. And then later I did a solo-ish performance of I Heard the Bells on Christmas day. (I sang the first 3 verses, pausing to give commentary between, then after the 3rd I stopped and hung my head in despair. Then one o the sister missionaries sang "Then pealed the bells more loud and deep" and two more sisters joined in for the rest of that verse. Then all 4 of us sang the last verse together.)

And then yesterday was Christmas. We had sacrament meeting, and then Lunch at a wonderful family's house. It was a pretty good day. I've had a lot to do this week, but it has been good.

I love you all, this next year will be great. This week marks the end of my "Eternal Year". I will be coming home next year. Too soon.

Have a wonderful week.

-Elder Wilcken

Week Sixty Four: Almost Christmas

Hello my dear everyone,

How is the holidays? How is Christmas time? Are you all remembering Jesus?

It is strange to see how different things are in the city as opposed to the small rural areas. Last year in Bindura Christmas crept up like a thief in the night. This year because of being near Harare and Gweru, two larger cities, it has been pretty obvious that it is Christmas time. Garland in the windows, Christmas songs over the store loud-speakers, Pictures of "Father Christmas" saying "Ho Ho Ho", images of snowflakes and the such, yet it is warm and rainy season.

This "thief in the night" is very clumsy this year. We heard him driving up the street. we are watching as he tries to open the building and climb in.

But Gweru is awesome. I love the place, the people, the area, and my companion. All is great.

This last week we had a super productive day the the area. We gave out pass along cards like crazy, and had 11 new investigators and many lessons. It was super amazing. But then our hearts broke on Sunday. Not a single investigator comes to church. The same last week, and apparently most weeks. It is a miracle to see even 1 at church. My heart aches when a chapel is mostly empty. But the Lord will provide a way for us. His work moves forward.

The rainy season is continuing. The zone is baptizing. It is a much smaller zone here, and I think our goal was 20 this month (established before I arrived) and so we are hoping to reach it. The Mission had a goal of 2000 for the year and as of this week we have about 165 more to reach that goal. Which would be awesome and a wonderful miracle. The last day for these baptisms to be counted for the year, is Sunday the 25th, when those baptized can be confirmed (since the following Sunday is January). A very fitting birthday-gift to the Savior I think.

I wish I had pictures to share today, but I do not. So I will share what was once shared with me last December.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good week.
-Elder Wilcken

Weeks Sixty-Two and Sixty-Three: Trasfer 11/17 Was Last Week. And This Week.

Hello everyone whom I love,

How has been your last two weeks? You may have noticed a lack of any communication from Elder Wilcken last week. And that is because Last week was transfer day.

In the morning I had to pick up missionaries from both ends of our Zone to take them to the mission office, as well as take selfies with many people.

(here are just some of them)

And here is why I couldn't email that day, I had to get on a bus and travel to Gweru! (Elder Guajardo went to Bulawayo)

This is my "Interesting" face. You may define interesting.

Here is me and my new companion, Elder Mahlangu! (you may remember him from when he was in my house for two weeks then he got emergency transferred)

So I arrived in Gweru safely, and I adjusted well. And then On Friday we had a multi-zone Christmas Devotional. Each zone was asked to present a musical item. We did two. The first was Away In a Manger with the second verse substituted with the first verse of More Holiness Give Me. The second song was Far Far Away on Judea's Plains. And we again did awesome. SO awesome. President had our zone perform it for a second time.

Our zone at a practice for our Christmas Devotional Presentation.

Here is President Mkhabela as Santa Claus

I learned how to get selfies with many people at once.

My companion and I got a picture with Santa President.

And in general, this week has been great. I've loved it so far here in Gweru. It is a nice quiet city. Less traffic. Less stress. I'm still a zone leader. Our zone has 18 members now. (big difference from 29).

But it has been wonderful.

Now there is a sad note, my camera broke somehow. The lens stopped opening. And now it won't turn on. So I may not have pictures to send home for a while until I can find someone to fix it and or get a new one.

But anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful week. You are loved. Happy holidays, etc. Stay happy.

-Elder Wilcken

PS: I was there when the 50th stake in the Africa SouthEast Area was created, the Harare East stake. And the Stake president was the one I guesed it would be, President Maziofa. from Damafalls, where I was serving. We had dinner at his house after he was set apart.

Week Sixty-One: Baptisms in the Rain

Hello everyone, how are things?

It is very rainy here. The rainy season started a lot earlier this year. I think last year it was around January. But with our area of only one paved road, and probably hundreds if not thousands of dirt roads, it can be quite interesting. Now you can define interesting.

So today is MLC Monday, meaning tomorrow the Zone Leaders will meet together to discuss how the mission is doing and the such. Other than that, next week is transfers. (which is why MLC is this Tuesday instead of the first Tuesday of the month). So the report for our zone is we did amazing. We got 38 Baptisms out of our goal of 66. Now why is that amazing you may ask? Because that is still 38 sons and daughters of God who got baptized. Which is always amazing. But also because we still managed to get that many despite many being rained out.

So for example, this last Saturday we went to Queensdale in the morning to support the first baptism there in nearly two years (from our records). The day started with the wedding of the baptismal candidate to her husband.

Then she got baptized, by her husband.

And then by the time they got into the water it was raining.

Then we had to travel back to our area, and deal with a whole bunch of excitement with he rain and mud and pakaipa. In fact our baptism was scheduled at 2 in Damafalls. After many weeks of having no water, we finally had water. But now we had too much water and the weather made the outside baptism undoable. So we traveled to Tafara and once again baptized there.

This is the Vale Family, a wonderful family introduced to us by Brother Madziro.

And then following the baptism I suddenly felt like I was in school again.

But despite the difficulties, all went very well.

And now it is time for me to prepare for tomorrow. So I hope you all enjoy the week.

-Elder Wilcken

PS: also the LDS Christmas Initiative "Light the World" is starting up this week! be sure to check it out at