Monday, October 28, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls and Eternal Salvation

Dear Family,

So yesterday was a lot of fun. Lately our district has been trouble getting members to come to church--which is a problem because coming to church is a big deal because it's a place where they can feel the spirit. So we decided to unload our secret weapon on a family of investigators: Cinnamon Rolls. This is a tactic developed by master tactician Sister Crawford, our mission president's wife. It goes something like this:

First we made a big gooey pan of cinnamon rolls (just the pull-apart kind you get in a can at Wal-Mart). Then we brought them to the door of our investigators and knocked. Eventually some bleary-eyed soul stumbled to the door.

"Good morning!" we said. Then we went about the house, wafting the delicious smell of cinnamon rolls all over the place. A couple of our investigator friends, Tyrin, Brandon, and Brian, were having a sleepover so we actually went into the room they were all sleeping in and held the pan under their noses. Within no-time, everybody was up. The hard part was getting all these guys to actually ready. "No cinnamon rolls until you are ready to go," we said. Is this teaching by the spirit? Nope. Its bribery, pure and simple. But hey, sometimes you just gotta do what works. Sometimes you have to think like a sleepy twelve-year-old boy. Sometimes cinnamon rolls are the gateway to eternal salvation.

Just kidding.

But it did work. We got five people to church that day! And it happened to be the Sunday of the Primary Program, which was adorable.

Then later that day, The Liberty Ward split to create a new Liberty Spanish Branch. This is kinda sad--I will miss all the bilingual lessons and sacrament prayers--but also exciting.

Then that evening, we were able to attend the baptism of Pablo, an investigator of the Hermanas in our district. This was really cool. Pablo said he felt "como una pluma"--like a feather--after the ordinance was performed. Its cool to see these simple principles and ordinance changing people's hearts and lives.

Well. I would tell y'all about what happened the whole week leading up to Sunday but who can even remember that far back? Not me.

So there is a sister in our ward who said she knows Reid Arne! Apparently she went to BYU Hawaii; so that's cool. The Arnes must just be really popular, because one of the sisters in my district in the MTC said she was really good friends with Louis.

I hope everyone is having a great week! Thanks so much to Vivi for writing me! Glad to hear you and Justin are doing well. Also, as always, thanks to Brother Minor, my rock and my foundation when it comes to mail.

Elder Wilder

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halfway through my first transfer what?

Dear family,

First of all: Happy birthday to Mom and Rachel! I feel terribly that I didn't remember to say that last Monday but know that when the seventeenth rolled around I was thinking about you. I hope it was great. Ray, I'm sorry you got so sick. For a late birthday present I'll tell you a little about all the stray dogs that live here in Liberty. They are everywhere. Our investigator has a big dog named Pookie that has to be kept chained not because he is mean but because his favorite hobby is to sniff the front fenders of cars while they are trying to drive. As people try to drive out of the little dirt road, he dodges in front of their cars again and again--I don't know how he is still alive--causing the driver to yell, "Pookie! POOKie STOP it! POOKIE!" in a Southern Black person accent. Its really funny. So now that is one of our favorite things to yell at stray dogs we see as we walk from place to place. "Pookie! Pookie stop it!" There is also another dog that got run over a while back and so neither of his back legs work. But that doesn't stop him--he hops around on two legs, all around the neighborhood. He's pretty fast too. I'll try to take a picture of him for you.

I loved your letter Mom! No, Liberty is not the inner city. Its very country. Its just kind of a poor area. A lot of the areas we work in look like the kind of swampy foresty trailer park-y places you would expect to see in the backwoods of Louisiana or something. Of course, it basically is the backwoods of yeah.

We have an awesome couple of new investigators: Tyrin and Brandon. Tyrin is the 16-year-old brother of Kalilah, our investigator who will hopefully be getting baptized in a couple of weeks. And Brandon is Tyrin's best friend. Brandon is probably about 5 feet tall and only has one arm, and is probably the sweetest and bravest kid I've ever met in my life. We had invited Tyrin over and over again to listen in on our lessons with Kalilah, but he showed absolutely NO interest. Then one night were outside talking to Kalilah (and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes) and Tyrin just randomly came out and joined us. It took us all a few minutes to realize how weird this was. And then one of us asked, in so many words, "Tyrin what on earth are you doing out here?" He said he had been playing a video game and then a "deep thought" came over him, and he paused the game and came outside. He was incredibly receptive to what we had to say and we committed him to baptism that evening. He said he has had a feeling for a while now that he needs to get baptized.

A few nights later we invited him to mutual and his friend Brandon came. At the end of mutual we took them on a little church tour and had a lesson in the chapel. I recited the first vision (Yay me! in our mission the first vision goes from verse 10 to "This is my beloved son; hear him" so its pretty long.) When we asked Brandon how he felt, he said it was a good feeling and then, in his own words, "I've never felt this way before."

A few nights ago we got them and a few other friends to come to the Ward Halloween party. They dressed as vampires--by which I mean, they wore black and red capes. It was fantastic.

Thanks so much to Brother Minor and to Vivi for your letters! And a big thanks to Sarah Jones for the Halloween package! Y'all are the best.


Elder Wilder

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cockroaches were invented by the Devil

Dear Family,

I cannot believe it is already P-day again. Its been a good week! We taught like twenty something lessons--which both my companions say is a lot. No Mom, we haven't really had a lot of dinner appointments but we kinda got that figured out this Sunday so I think we will be getting more from now on. And yes we have a car, but we like to walk when possible. We also like to ride bikes, but unfortunately because I was supposed to be in Brazil, I don't have a bike...Elders Henrie and Kalilimoku both do, so it has been a companionship goal to find me one. Sometimes we like to ask random drunk guys on the street if we can have their bike--so far no luck.

Here is an excerpt from a journal entry to give y'all an idea of what missionary life is like:

"Today was a crazy and fun day. We went to visit a lady and the appointment fell through so we went contacting instead. Ran into this old black couple sitting in their front yard--the husband was completely drunk and acting like an absolute scoundrel. It was really funny. Among other things he made fun of Elder Henrie's nose, cursed like a sailor, said some terribly inappropriate things, and taught us a little about the history of the CRIPS (he showed us a tattoo on his chest that apparently means he IS a CRIP, and then said that CRIP is an acronym for California Revolution In Progress. haha) The wife was super great though and we got her contact info to come back and visit with her when the husband was sober.

We then met a really old and slightly crazy and barely intelligible man who called us into his house when we knocked. It was kind of a cool experience; here he was sitting alone on the couch next his portable toilet thing and a plate of uneaten food sitting on the table next to him. He seemed rather desperate and told us that he didn't want to be a burden on his daughter and wanted to be put in a home. He said he believed we were sent by God to help him.  We said we believed the same thing. We took his daughter's number off the kitchen counter and promised to contact her for him. We tried to tell him he wasn't a burden and that his family loved him and God loved him. We prayed with him and left.

Then we locked ourselves out of our apartment. Oops. So we said a prayer. Still locked out. So we walked to our next appointment, which was with Kalilah, a twelve year old who's kinda from the hood and who is preparing for baptism. His uncle sat in on and tried to help teach the lesson while drinking a bottle of malt and smoking. (incidentally we weren't teaching Word of Wisdom). Then we tried to get rides for Kalilah and his friend to go to Mutual, but we couldn't get any, so we walked there and showed up about an hour late. It was all good though. We played basketball for a few minutes with our two investigators and the Young Men of Liberty.

We all got a ride home with Elder Devereaux, who turns out to be a profession window guy (having been in the business for 15 years), and was able to pop one of our locked windows open for us from the outside. Thank you Heavenly Father!"

So that's a little of what mission life is like, except we try not to lock ourselves out to often. We've had some really awesome experiences and some let-downs.

Mom, I wish I would be home to help with all the cooking at thanksgiving! Its crazy that by the end of this transfer we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, and then in the next transfer we will be celebrating Christmas, and by then I will be an old hand at this whole missionary game.

Love you all!
Elder Wilder

OHHH I almost forgot. Elder Kalilimoku believes that cockroaches were created by Satan himself... It didn't help that one fell from our ceiling onto him last night while we were doing daily planning.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Hi y'all!

As you can tell from my salutation I am hard at work learning the native language here in the Lone Star State. It is beautiful country. The clouds here are the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life. We went out to see a potential investigator out in the boonies (though to be honest we are kind of already in the boonies here in Liberty) the other day, and never managed to find her, but I was thankful to have an opportunity to see the dense forests, murky swamps, and golden fields here in the backwoods of East Texas.

The joke of the Texas Houston East Mission is that it is T.H.E. Mission. I know--pretty funny right? Being here has been wonderful. The MTC was getting to be a little like a prison, so I am glad to be out in the field finally. The first investigator that I got to teach was a lady named Anna who suffered a heart attack a few years back and is a little bit crazy. She was super nice but really hard to teach. Everything she said prompted a different approach so that by the end of that lesson we had no idea what we wanted to teach her the next lesson. I walked out of the lesson thinking, "That investigator is long shot." Well, Anna attended TWO sessions of Conference this weekend and has progressed so far that I consider it nothing short of a miracle.

I think as church members we forget how much Jesus Christ's gospel can change people's lives. I have seen it again and again in just one week. Here we deal mostly with poor downtrodden directionless folks, and it is incredible what a little bit of light can do in their lives.

One of my favorite parts of missionary work is just meeting all of these strange interesting people. I am in a trio, and one of my companions, Elder Kalilimoku (who also happens to be from Oregon) is really good at remember the rule to "Talk to everyone". I also get to practice my spanish with random hombres on the street--although it often comes out slowly as I know have it confused with Portuguese ("muito--muito--muito--MUY bien...disculpe")

This week has been full of miracles, and as Elder Henrie has said, its been probably the busiest week he's had since he's been out.

Thank you so much for all your love and everything you've done for me. Being away from those you love seems to be the most effective way of learning to appreciate them.

I really loved all your letters! Especially Rachel's--haha. Justin, your's was uncanny in that the shark motif was already a running joke in my MTC district. Do you have some sort of surveillance equipment to keep track of me? As a note, its "Tuburao" in portuguese.

Thanks again to Bro Minor, as always! He knows how to put even the best families to shame in the field of faithful correspondence.

com amor,
Elder Wilder

Sorry all, I forgot to include this on yesterday's email. Here is my address which you can use to send me letters and packages and what have you!

Elder Luke Wilder
528A Oklahoma St
Liberty, TX 77575

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September 30: Arrived in Texas

This is the e-mail that we received from the mission home.  We didn't get a letter from Luke yet, since he arrived on P-Day.  

Your Missionary has arrived safely to T.H.E. Mission!  Upon arrival we met your missionary at the airport and took them directly to the mission home where they were fed Texas Bar-b-que and met the office staff.  An orientation by the office staff followed lunch while individual interviews were conducted by President Crawford.  That evening they were invited to share their testimonies.  The following morning was focused on training after which they met their new companion and were transported to their area of service.  They are now out diligently searching for our Heavenly Father's children and doing the work of the Lord. Thank you for sending your daughters and sons to us, they have added great strength to our small army here in the Texas Houston East Mission. We love them and are so grateful to have them with us. You will find attached a picture of your newly arrived missionary with Sister Crawford and myself as well as their arriving group and Trainer.