Monday, December 28, 2015

Week 19 - December 28, 2015

Well, hello everyone!

I hope each and everyone of you had a wonderful
Christmas and are preparing to have a happy new year!  I want to hear
each of your experiences and how you celebrated and celebrate!  I know
I didn't give much of a down-low of what I did last week, but I can
assure you it was another great week in the field.

This Christmas week was wonderful.  If you aren't aware, missionaries
only get to call home via Skype four times in two years.  Two of those are
on Christmas and two of those are on Mother's Day.  That being said, I
was able to Skype my family.  It was wonderful to see them all; however,
the ultimate highlight was seeing my older brother, Bracken, for the
first time in two and almost a half years.  It was incredible!  We
Skyped for an hour, but it felt like five minutes... It flew by and before
you know it, I was telling them that I would see them again in four and
a half months which I know will just fly by.

Anyways, Christmas Day we opened presents and Christmas cards in the
morning, watched a few Christ - Christmas videos and Elder Andrus and
I made an incredible breakfast for the household!  I'll most certainly
attach pictures. 

After I Skyped home, we had lunch at the church with
many of the members who aren't as... "Fortunate" as others.  It was a
wonderful experience.  We were able to play games, sing songs, and act
out in some skits.  The lunch was incredible.  The bishop of our church
(person who presides over this specific church in South Philly) and
his family put together a wonderful meal. 

Anyways, after that Elder Andrus and I made our way to some less active and investigators' homes who also aren't as fortunate.  We were able to watch videos with them and chat and just enjoy Christmas with a few different families.
(Family that Elder Wilde and his companion spent part of the day with on Christmas.)

Anyways, as we made our way to one family's home, we had a CHRISTMAS
MIRACLE.  It was simply undeniable.  We got onto the train making our
way to our next family.  Of course, as a missionary you greet everyone,
wish them a happy holiday, etc.; however, as I sat down on the train, I
sat next to (few seats away) from a man who must have been in his late
20's African American.  I simply just was pretty tired and
finally was thrilled to sit down for just a few moments and relax.
What came next was in no doubt of my mind, the Spirit speaking to me.  I
felt a very strong impression to wish this man a Merry Christmas, so I
did - he replied with cheer.  I turned away and simply kind of thought
to myself, "Happy?"  What came next is no exaggeration, but I got a very
real and intense feeling of just disappointment and within split
seconds felt in my mind and heart that I simply did not do my job and
that the Spirit was very much wanting me to continue talking to this
man and that my job was not done at all with him.   It was strong enough
that I realized I had to do it and couldn't deny it.   I began talking
to him and as we discussed and talked, he told that he had nowhere to
go this Christmas and that he has been "searching for the truth" as I
felt I should give him a card that had our address and where we attend
church on it.  I checked my back to realize out of the hundred pass-along cards that we were given, I had ONE more in my whole entire
bag... I gave him that and as it turns out we set up an appointment
with him at 2:00 the next day.  A coincidence???   That is not a
We were able to celebrate Christmas Eve at a recent convert's home
with some members of the branch.  As I looked inside the home, I
realized that there were far more converts in the room then there
were born members.  Missionary work at its finest Smiling face with Sunglasses

About a week and a half ago, we asked one of our investigators that we
have been working with for about two months now to fast and pray to
know if the Book of Mormon is true and if Joseph Smith was in fact
called to be a prophet in these latter days.  A little background on
Robbie first - he wanted nothing to do with the church.  He said that
the Bible was the word of God and that was it--nothing else.  We pleaded
with him to give us one chance to explain our message and after that
he could continue to meet or we would leave him alone.  He agreed with
the intent that I'm pretty sure he just wanted to Bible bash.  Anyways,
two months ago we taught him how Joseph Smith restored the church that
Christ set up while he was on the earth, etc., and at the end of the
lesson he asked how on earth we could possibly believe that a man
could do this - we pulled out a Book of Mormon and told him that this
book was either written by prophets of God or the devil.  We invited
him to read it and find out for himself.  Anyways, we continued to meet
him, teaching him the gospel of Jesus Christ.  On Saturday, we met with
him a week after his fast and he told us that after reading half the
Book of Mormon, he knows that Joseph Smith was called of God and that
the Book of Mormon "was more true than the Bible;" however, we had to
assure him that we love the Bible and stick to both of them, not just the
Book of Mormon.  Anyways, just interesting to see a man go from everything against the church to finally wanting to become a part of it. 
Side note - we
also fasted for him.  He is preparing to be baptized late January.  He
needs to stop with the booze though!  Thank heavens he doesn't drink a
ton haha.

Lots of other good stuff happened during the week.  You truly see
undeniable miracles all the time out here as your faith is at an all
time high and you are a representative of Jesus Christ to teach his

However, I am currently playing in a basketball tournament for
P-day, so I'm on and off the iPad and don't have the most time to write
a lot.  I will end with sharing a conference talk by an apostle of the
church that I LOVE and then give quotes of the week.

The conference talk is called, "Faith is not by Chance but by Choice," by Elder Neil L. Anderson.  I'll copy and paste the parts that stuck out to me.  Elder Anderson states:

"I ask myself, 'How does the Savior see my faith?'  And tonight I ask
you, 'How does the Savior see your faith?'  Faith in the Lord Jesus
Christ is not something ethereal, floating loosely in the air.  Faith
does not fall upon us by chance or stay with us by birthright.  Faith
in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to
believe and as we seek it and hold on to it. Your faith is either
growing stronger or becoming weaker.  Faith is a principle of power,
important not only in this life but also in our progression beyond the
veil.  By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith
on His name.  The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice.

"The Faith of a Young Brazilian.  A month ago in Brazil, I met Aroldo
Cavalcante.  He was baptized at age 21, the first member of the Church
in his family.  His faith burned brightly, and he immediately began
preparing to serve a mission.  Sadly, Aroldo’s mother was diagnosed
with cancer.  Three months later, only days before she died, she spoke
to Aroldo of her greatest concern:  There were no relatives to help.
Aroldo would need to take full responsibility for his two younger
sisters and his younger brother.  He solemnly made this promise to his
dying mother.  By day he worked in a bank, and at night he attended the
university.  He continued to keep his baptismal covenants, but his
hopes for a full-time mission were gone.  His mission would be caring
for his family.  Months later while preparing a sacrament meeting talk,
Aroldo studied the words that Samuel reprovingly spoke to King Saul:
“To obey,” he read, “is better than [to] sacrifice.”  Aroldo received
the seemingly impossible impression that he needed to obey the
prophet’s call to serve a mission.  Undaunted by the obstacles before
him, he moved forward with enormous faith.  Aroldo saved every
Brazilian cruzeiro he could.  At age 23, he received his mission call.
He told his brother how much to withdraw each month from his account
for the family.  Aroldo still did not have enough money to pay the full
cost of his mission and the living expenses for his brother and
sisters, but with faith he entered the MTC.  A week later he received
the first of many blessings.  The bank that had employed Elder
Cavalcante unexpectedly doubled the money he was to receive as he
concluded his work.  This miracle, along with others, provided the
needed income for his mission and his family during his absence.
Twenty years later, Brother Cavalcante is now serving as the president
of the Recife Brazil Boa Viagem Stake.  Looking back, he said of those
days, 'As I tried to live righteously, I felt the Savior’s love and
guidance.  My faith grew, allowing me to overcome many challenges.'

"Aroldo’s faith did not come by chance, but by choice.  How we live our
lives increases or diminishes our faith.  Prayer, obedience, honesty,
purity of thought and deed, and unselfishness increase faith.  Without
these, faith diminishes.  Immersing oneself in persistent doubt, fueled
by answers from the faithless and the unfaithful, weakens one’s faith
in Jesus Christ and the Restoration.  'The natural man receiveth not
the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.'
For example, questions concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith are not
new.  They have been hurled by his critics since this work began.  To
those of faith who, looking through the colored glasses of the 21st
century, honestly question events or statements of the Prophet Joseph
from nearly 200 years ago, may I share some friendly advice:  For now,
give Brother Joseph a break!  In a future day, you will have 100 times
more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and
it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven. 

"Consider the totality of Joseph’s life--born in poverty and given little formal
education, he translated the Book of Mormon in less than 90 days. Tens
of thousands of honest, devoted men and women embraced the cause of
the Restoration.  At age 38, Joseph sealed his witness with his blood.
I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. Settle this in your
mind, and move forward!

"Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon give us the beautiful assurance
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  I hold in my hand a copy of
the first edition of the Book of Mormon in French, published by John
Taylor as he began the work in France in 1852.  Some or all of the Book
of Mormon is now in 110 languages across the world.  It provides a
spiritual and tangible witness of the truthfulness of the Restoration.
When was the last time that you read the Book of Mormon from cover to
cover?  Read it again.  It will increase your faith.  Although your
beginning fire of faith may be small, righteous choices bring greater
confidence in God, and your faith grows.  The difficulties of mortality
blow against you, and evil forces lurk in the darkness, hoping to
extinguish your faith.  But as you continue to make good choices, trust
in God, and follow His Son, the Lord sends increased light and
knowledge, and your faith becomes settled and unwavering.

"President Thomas S. Monson said: “Fear not. … The future is as bright as
your faith.”   On June 12 of this year, I received an email telling me that
the bishop from a Utah ward, his wife, and two of their children had
been killed in an airplane accident.  Bishop Mark Openshaw had been
piloting the plane as it left a small airfield, when it suddenly fell
from the sky and crashed to the earth.  Bishop Openshaw, his wife, Amy,
and their children Tanner and Ellie were killed in the accident.
Miraculously their five-year-old son, Max, thrown out of the airplane
in his airplane seat, escaped with only broken bones.  I learned that
their son Elder Porter Openshaw was serving in the Marshall Islands
Majuro Mission and that their 17-year-old son, Zane, was on a school
cultural exchange in Germany.  I called Elder Openshaw on Christmas
Island.  Although heartbroken by the unexpected death of his mother,
father, brother, and sister, Elder Openshaw immediately turned his
concern to his two younger brothers.  Ultimately it was Elder Openshaw
and his brother Zane who decided that others could help at home and
that Porter should stay on his mission.  They knew it was what their
parents would want.  As I spoke with Elder Openshaw, I felt his sadness
but also his unquenchable fire of faith.  'I have the confidence,' he
told me, 'and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will see my
family again. … Strength in our trials is always found in … our Lord,
Jesus Christ. … God’s omnipotent hand has been so apparent in helping
[me] and my brothers throughout [this] very difficult challenge'."

Awesome talk.

Hmmm scripture quote of the week is from the Doctrine and Covenants 6:33:
Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye
also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your

God bless!  Love you all!  Have a wonderful week.

Elder Wilde

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