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 mormon.org

Week Sixty: I Don't Go to the Gym, I'm Just Naturally Like This

Just kidding, we go to the gym. With approval.

Dear everyone, whom I love dearly.

How are things? Things are well. Especially since the rains have filled up people's wells. haha.
But so we started going to a gym at the start of the month.


But don't worry for us, because there is a clinic right across the street


But yes, it is all 4 of the elders in our house.

We actually tried to keep it secret for a long time, by just not telling those who didn't need to know. But people have started to notice.

Though President knows, he still was shocked when he saw me. "Elder Wilcken, you've lost weight" to which other missionaries said "I was thinking the same thing"

Here is a picture of a puppy I found. I didn't keep it though.


And here is a wonderful family we are teaching and hoping to baptize soon.


But other than that, things have been pretty great this week. We have been working with brother Madziro a lot recently, and he has been such a help to us. He truly loves this gospel. He set up a whole day of appointments for us tomorrow in a neighborhood that one of his friends lives in. It is amazing.

Also on Saturday I was needed to preside at two different Baptisms. One in an area called Epworth, and another in Mabvuku, in the same day. It was a great experience. However at the one in Epworth, it was said "Elder Wilcken presides on behalf of the Bishop" and then later "We will now have closing remarks from the Bishop" The missionaries chuckled at that slip up.

And in other news, time is flying so fast. It seems like just yesterday I came to Harare East but now it has been almost 18 weeks.

I am not ready to go home yet, I honestly feel I have so much more to do.

Anyway, have a wonderful week you all. I love you so much. I pray for you frequently. But honestly, not as much as I pray for my investigators. I hope you understand.

-Elder Wilcken

Week Fifty-Nine: The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

Hello Everyone!

I don't really have pictures this week. Sorry.

But what I do have is stories!

So basically we started the week with no car. At all. So we walked to our area each day. It was far. One day I am certain we walked much more than 10k. But then it started raining. And we still had to walk. And then one evening, we had the wondrous news. There is a balm in Gilead. Or more precisely, a car available. So the car was delivered Thursday evening.

I had previously called the silver Chevy's we used in this area "Stripling warriors" for they had many wounds, and even at times fainted for loss of blood, nevertheless they did not perish. In fact they are all still around and fixable. And they also often ran on Faith.

The new Chevy we received also had received many wounds, yet it was stronger. and better. And White. So I call it Helaman.

Then Friday night it rained so much. Like so so much. Non-stop all through the night and Saturday morning. We had to drive to Queensdale to give a sister a blessing, then on the way back we got a flat tire, at a fuel station. So we went to put the spare on and lo and behold it too was flat. So we had to roll it to another fuel station (in the rain) to get filled up. Then we learned that new tire was broken, and needed to be repaired. Finally after much struggle we put it on the car only to learn that the rim was the wrong size. It didn't fit our car. So we called the Assistants to bring us a new tire. This week alone I have changed 2 tires over 5 times.

Then the fun in our area, there was a puddle that stretched over 30 feet. Then I drove through it. Fortunately it had been taught to me you should never stop in water because it can stall the engine. So I kept moving forward through it. The water was much deeper than we thought and actually got up to the windshield at one point (from the flow, not depth). When we got out the other side our car was filthy, and the license plat was half off and upside down. We went to Brother Madziro's and he washed our car for us despite our protests.

Later we then had to pick up the other elders to go to a baptism in Tafara, and in the process got the car dirty again. Remember I have said there is only one paved road through Eastview. I was going to take a side dirt road from that paved road, put to our amazement the ground was liquid. Our car sunk about a foot deep in the mud, and we were going downhill off the paved road. about 20 minutes later and with the help of about 20 bystanders, they lifted the car tires to put bricks under and I managed to reverse out. Again the car was filthy.

Pakaipa

But in the end the baptism went well, we were late, but our investigator was there on her own to be baptized so it all worked out.

And there has also been a lot of thunder and lightning. It is cool.

But despite all the trouble, the week went well. Our investigators came to church, they are repenting, and the Lord is blessing us.

I love you all. Have a wonderful week. The Lord is mindful of all.

-Elder Wilcken

Week Fifty-Eight: A Very Long Week that Flew By

Hello my loved family and friends,

I hope all is well.

This week was crazy. We had something come up each day of the week that caused us to have little time in our area. On Monday and Tuesday we had MLC, we didn't leave the mission office till around 4pm on Tuesday. and following that we had to travel to Arcturus to pick up baptismal records.

Wednesday we had to take the sister missionaries from Mabvuku all the way to Borrowdale to the clinic (it's far), and then afterwards had to pick up prescriptions and help them find a working atm because there is a cash shortage. We finished around 3pm.

Thursday we again had to take them to the clinic in the morning. And surprisingly that finished quickly. So we returned home. Then we learned that we needed to take the Queensdale sisters to find an atm as well. When we finished with that we again returned home. Then we got a phone call telling us that we had to transport missionaries for the Emergency Transfer. And we finished around 4.

And then Friday our car broke down in Hatcliff while performing a baptismal interview. I was driving over speed bumps, and shifting down to a lower gear as one should do, then after the third speed bump our stick-shift became a joy-stick. No gears anymore.


Somehow we managed to get it back to the mission office., and then around 8pm we received a replacement car.





Saturday the replacement car also broke down in the evening, they called a tow truck this time. But fortunately we had plenty of time before hand to work with brother Madziro. And then Sunday we got to enjoy walking to church as well as to our area. It is a long walk.

Fun Fact: in just 4 days I drove over 520km. That's how much errands we had.

But honestly, the most amazing thing happened on Sunday because we walked.

We walked to our area, and a rain storm was brewing in the distance. We went to see one family but they were busy. We had no appointments and with no car, we couldn't travel to most of our investigators. Then I felt very strongly that we needed to see a particular brother named Makabvure. Only it was 5pm and I was certain he started work at 4pm. I told my companion and also told him that I was certain he wouldn't be home, but that we needed to go check his house. He asked me "What type of faith is that?" but we went anyway. Sure enough he wasn't home, but just two houses down there was an older man sitting outside. So I told my companion "I won't let this be a wasted journey, lets talk to this man." When we met with him, we talked to him and introduced the church, and he seemed pretty interested. The only problem is that he doesn't work in Harare. He told us he just got home Saturday Morning from working past Victoria Falls for the last two months, and that he was also supposed to leave that same Saturday for Kwekwe. However he wanted to visit his family before he is gone for more months, and he decided to stay for a few extra days. So we literally found him at the most perfect time. The only time he would be around. We got his contact information and he agreed to let us give them to missionaries in Kwekwe. That was the only person we met that day, but I feel it was the one we were supposed to find.

Truly the Lord is mindful of all things. And all things work together for His good.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers on our behalf. These next few weeks should be awesome.

Much love to you all,

-Elder Wilcken




Weeks Fifty-Six and Fifty-Seven: Two Weeks at Once!

So I decided that because you all must miss me so much, it would be more fun for you if you got to read about two weeks at the same time! That's like double the amount of Elder Wilcken!

Unfortunately I couldn't talk about the future, because of complications in the order of space and time. But instead I will talk about the past!

(This is how I say sorry I didn't end up sending an email last week)

I will talk about both weeks in these terms: Last week (the week before the 24th) and This week (the week before the 31st).

Dear Everyone,

Last week was great. It was the last week of transfers (which is why I couldn't find time to email).

So Last week, we had a lot of fun stuff going on. The most noteworthy one was that the Tafara Sisters in our district (before transfers mind you) had a Chapel Open House. It was a lot of fun and also very spiritual.

Here is some of the fun (couldn't take pictures of spiritual):

This is some of the people:


This is me being awesome at Jump Rope:


This is our district taking a selfie:


This is our district not taking a selfie:


This is our district taking a selfie again:


*BONUS* Elder Guajardo started to get translated (taken up by the Lord):


So as of the 24th of October, I am now still Zone Leader of Harare East Zone! Only this time, I am training a new zone leader. My new companion is Elder Luvuno. You may remember him from when he was companions with Elder Guajardo in Bindura. He is a great guy. This week was spent showing him the area, and teaching him some of the responsibilities of being a zone leader.

If you are wondering what happened to Elder Mwetu, well he is now Assistant to the President. Which put me as the senior companion over the largest zone in the mission (26 missionaries).



And now for this week. As I said it was the first week of transfers. It was also the last 4 days for the Petersons. They are now returning home, and the new office couple is settled in. This is me and my "posterity". I trained Sister Peterson on the left who then trained Sister Selcho on the right:


And as for the rest of this week, it was a whole lot of working. We had to travel far to an area called Arcturus to do baptismal interviews and help with he baptism because there are no missionaries there! Just branch missionaries doing all the work. And they did amazing. 10 Baptisms this Saturday.

The Candidates and brother Simbarache (the Branch Mission Leader):



Behold the Waters of Arcturus (for thus have I called them):


And then look, we had our own baptism as well:


Now I am sure this all looks impressive. And for those of you who have been reading my emails for a while, you may remember we had a goal of 64 baptisms in the month of September, of which we achieved 33. This month we had the same goal of 64. And we achieved 62. So if people ask if miracles have ceased, I will say unto them, "Nay". Thank you to everyone who had been praying for the missionary work. It certainly is progressing well.

In other news, I am now pretty good at driving manual (stick-shift).


As for everything else, tomorrow is the Missionary Leadership Council so it is a busy week again.
However know that I am happy and well. And the Lord is blessing us.

Until next week, stay happy and healthy. The Lord loves you all.

-Elder Wilcken