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

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.


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

Week Fifty-Five: Where Are the Keys?

The work of the Lord seems to be hindered when keys are missing. More on that later.

Hello my dear family and friends,

This week was a good week. Mostly because we have found very amazing people. We were walking through part of our area and randomly my companion contacted this man. He greeted us cheerfully and asked how the work is going. We introduced ourselves and the church and he told us "I live just down this line, all the way down there. You see that cabin? Right to the left of it is my house" he then described it so clearly and distinctly that we knew the place when we visited it. He told us "I go to work at 4pm so you can come by anytime before that." We scheduled to see him that same day. He welcomed us cheerfully and we got to know him a bit. Afterwards he introduced us to his sons and told them "They are from a church" and was really excited to have them go with him to church. He walked with us and told us that the people in his neighborhood need what we have.

Then on Thursday, we received a call from the sister missionaries that one of them was sick and asked for a blessing when we had the time. We told them we would go after our appointment with this man. We met with him and he eagerly asked us about what he had read in the pamphlet we left. We taught him about the restoration and he accepted the message gratefully. When we left his house he saw his friend and yelled "I'm sorry, I forgot to get you! Next time!" and then explained his friend was eager to hear our message too. We walked with him most of the way back to where we parked, then he parted ways with us to continue to another area.

It was at this point my companion realized he didn't have the car keys. He couldn't find them anywhere. Because the window was open a bit, we were able to unlock the car to look in there and in the boot, but we couldn't find them anywhere. We walked again the path we had taken, twice more, and there was no sign of them. We called the sisters to apologize for the delay and to ask for their faith and prayers in helping us find it. Ultimately we felt we left them in the investigators house. Only he had left his phone at home, and his children were away playing soccer. We had no way to contact anyone to be able to check inside. Then purely a miracle, one of his sons happened to pass by home (something he never does), and he was able to open up the house and sure enough, right there were our keys.

When we visited this brother on Sunday, he told us he heard of the situation and told us we were lucky his son was there because he often goes far away to play soccer.
Nevertheless, we learned the importance of keys when doing the Lord's work.

This week our branch also had a baptism, and a missionary fireside. At the fireside we taught everyone the missionary lessons and gave them all pamphlets to share with their friends. 2 Restoration of the Gospel, 1 Plan of Salvation, and 1 Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlets. Some of them half-heartedly accepted, but not brother Madziro. He told us "This isn't enough, I need more." So we also gave him a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet on marriage. The next day, Sunday, he told us he gave them all out that morning and showed us who he gave them to. He then asked for more. When we talked with Brother Madziro, who is now in the Branch Sunday School Presidency, he asked us "Why do members live so far away from each other? Shouldn't people be sharing this with their neighbors? There shouldn't be such big gaps between members." And sure enough, he understands it because every single one of his neighbors has been given a pamphlet and he is working his way outward from his house.

This man is powerful. He has introduced us to two different families already who he had set up appointments for us to teach them all on his own.

Truly, I am so grateful to be on the Lord's errand. I have seen what true conversion looks like and I understand how this gospel can change someone's life.

I love you all so much. Have a wonderful week.

-Elder Wilcken