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