Monday, March 31, 2014

My Visa!!

Dear family and friends,

I would like to announce that my visa has finally arrived!

not really. haha. Apparently Chase bank switched all their customers from Mastercard to Visa, so my Mom sent my new card to me in the mail (thanks mom!) Anyway so I had more fun than the situation warranted telling people that my visa had arrived in the mail. ha I'm so funny. Yeah now that I think about it, its a pretty dumb joke.

anyway. So we had to drop one of my favorite (they are all my favorite but this guy was especially interesting) investigators this week. His name is Alex. He is an energetic black guy with dreads who came into contact with the church a little over a year ago now and has read all of the standard works as well as the apocrypha and the dead sea scrolls. Alex thinks that he is a prophet. In our last Book of Mormon class, which we hold on Wednesday nights, Alex introduced himself by saying, "Hi my name is Alex...some people know me as the black Joseph Smith!" One of Alex's favorite pastimes is to get on metros and read passages from the Book of Mormon or the Bible (but especially the Book of Mormon) to the passengers of the metro at large. We have been trying to help Alex develop a testimony of the restoration of authority, but Alex believes that his lineage as a Hebrew Israelite entitles him to all the authority of the Melchizidech(sp?) priesthood. He also has trouble accepting the idea that the Law of Moses was fulfilled and is superseded by the higher law taught by Jesus Christ. He therefore has a hangup with the church's practice of observing the Sabbath on Sunday (the first or Lord's day) rather than on Saturday (the last day or Sabbath), among other concerns. anyway Elder Evans suggested we drop him because he has not been progressing at all, and while I really didn't want to, we decided it would be best to drop him for the time being. Dropping people is the worst.

On the bright side, Gracie and her daughters are still doing fantastically! They came to church for the third week in a row! and next week is General Conference, which ought to be a fantastic experience for them. Last week at church I had the opportunity to play the piano for the primary children during the last 20 minutes of church. Those kids are adorable. And Gracie's daughters, Melani and Mina LOVE primary. The children were preparing for Easter by practicing "Easter Hosanna." I had totally forgotten how beautiful that little song is.

Also there is a Brasileira living in one of the spanish wards here in Broadway. She is apparently marrying one of the guys from Broadway 2nd Ward. So I will have to find her next Sunday para praticar um pouco de Portugues com ela.

Love you all!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Crawfish Boil

dear family and friends,

two words: crawfish boil. 

I really love food, and east Texas / Louisiana have some really fantastic culinary traditions -- not the least of which is the Crawfish Boil. The Crawfish Boil is more than just a meal; it is an event. I had been hoping to have the opportunity to indulge in some of these spicy Cajun mudbugs before leaving Texas. So, I am very happy to report that on Friday evening of this week, Elder Evans and I ate heaping helpings of crawfish, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, potatoes, and corn, all boiled together in a pot full of highly spiced boiling water, in a small 2nd story apartment not to far from Hobby Airport in the city of Houston. It was DELICIOUS.

So Gracie and her daughters continue to progress wonderfully. They are really just loving everything. We are working towards the day of april 12th for their baptism. We had stake conference this weekend, and Gracie and her daughters seemed to have a great time. 

I got mildly sick yesterday, which wasn't too fun. I slept through most of my study time as well as through my lunch break (because I was certainly in no condition to eat!) While we were out proselyting, it got cold and started pouring rain (Texas is like that). By the time I went to bed I felt as though I was starting to develop a fever. I was super achy and hot. But I prayed that I would be better this morning. And I woke up feeling 100% better. So that was great. 

Well. I know more stuff happened this week, but I'm drawing a blank.

from Houston with love,


Monday, March 17, 2014

A Great Week!

Dear all,

This was a great week. Why? I don't really know. Our numbers weren't really any better than last week, which was disappointing. We are on the cusp of dropping a number of our investigators. So why was it a great week? Still not really sure, but here are some awesome things that happened this week:

1) We are teaching an awesome new family--a mother and her two daughters--who actually came to church this Sunday, the first time we invited them. There is no more definite sign of true interest than an investigator coming to church. And it feels so great to teach someone who is really, truly, genuinely interested. Instead of trying to generate interest, you just get to teach the gospel and watch the investigator embrace it with open arms. Gracie (the mother) is someone who is searching for truth. Teaching her and her daughters has been an absolute pleasure for the grand total of two lessons we've taught. 

2) I got to go on an exchange to the Northwest area. The area is just north of ours and lies pretty much right in the shadow of downtown houston. In other words, you can see the fantastic Houston cityscape from a majority of the area. I was with Elder Willey, who is a super cool guy. We had a blast. We also got completely SOAKED--to the bone--by a freak houston rainstorm. We were wet enough that we started riding our bikes through puddles and splashing water everywhere because we were just THAT soaked that we could not get any wetter--so why not ride through a puddle? Another awesome thing that happened on exchange was that we went to Shipley Do-nuts, which is THE doughnut shop of texas, and got kolaches and doughnuts. Yum.

3) yeah I really don't know what else happened, but like I said, it was a great week.

I love you all!

elder wilder

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Slow Week

Dear family,

So we had kinda a slow week. It was a great week--don't get me wrong--but for whatever reason from like thursday to saturday we had like twelve set appointments fall through, and it seemed like pretty much all of our backups led to nothing either. It was weird.

We did have a miracle on Sunday, however. We have been having trouble getting investigators to church--particularly our three most promising investigators. We invite them to church, they commit to church, we wait, they don't show. So this last week, I was determined to get someone to church. Normally this would mean going around to people's houses Sunday morning to personally invite them, but we had coordination sunday morning so we were stuck at the church. So I made a list of every investigator and less active that we could call to invite. It was about 15 people. Elder Evans and I called ALL of them. After we had made the calls, we were talking to a couple other missionaries (there are 5 sets of missionaries in the broadway ward...I know, crazy). Anyway, I told them I had called a bunch of people, and then I laughed and said that most likely none of them will show up. In response, one of the sister missionaries in our ward said something like, "where's your faith, elder?" That kinda hit me. I realized I had had hardly a hope of any of our investigators showing up. This thought echoed around my mind as the minutes rolled by. Finally, I was sitting in the chapel and sacrament was about to start and we had no investigators. The thought came to me that I had done pretty much all in my power to get investigators to church. Then I remembered that there was one thing I hadn't done: asked God. At least, I hadn't asked him since I had said my morning study prayer. So, I asked. I said a silent prayer in my heart. It seemed silly to ask so late, because the meeting was about to start.

The meeting started--no investigators. The meeting ended. I stood up from the pew, stretched and began to head out into the foyer when all of a sudden I noticed a black guy sitting in the pew right behind me. There are only like four black guys in our whole ward here in Broadway. It was our investigator Jkorry! (yes, he has a very black name). I couldn't believe it. Jkorry loved church. He stayed for Sunday school where we talked about prophets and participated a ton. It was great.

So. You gotta do all you can. But you also gotta have faith. And you have to ask. "ask and ye shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. amen."

lots of love,


Monday, March 3, 2014

I can ride my bicycle with no handlebars!

Dear family,

Oh my goodness I can not believe it is my third week in Houston already. It is absolutely mind-blowing to me. The adage "the days are weeks and the weeks are days" is becoming more and more true. I am so grateful to be serving where I am--it is a wonderful, ridiculous area.

So I just got my valentine's day package! Thank you so much mom! It was full of delicious surprises and I felt very loved. As you seem to have known already, the package arrived at my apt on valentine's day but we weren't here and apparently they don't just leave packages lying around in these parts, so they carted it back to the post office...which I was finally able to visit today! So that's the story on that. Anyway thank you so much family! Thank you anna and rachel for your contributions--they were cute.

We got to go to the Houston Temple today--it was a wonderful experience. It is such a beautiful place, and it was such a lovely day. I had been hoping I would have the opportunity to go before I left for brazil, so I was very happy.

This place is crazy! I am still blown away by the number of people that live in our area. There is one apartment complex called Broadway Square that has apartments numbering into the 8000's--it can sometimes be difficult to find addresses in such complexes, and I am often left to reflect that there are more people in a single apartment complex here than in many of the towns I visited in my last area. It is a lot of fun. Lots of people equals lots of energy. This is why I have always loved cities. As boisterous and poorly layed out and godforsaken as they often seemed to be, they always seem to PULSE with energy.

I am getting to know my bicycle very well--every day here is a workout, which is actually very nice. And I have now learned to ride my bike with no handlebars--this is something all missionaries apparently need to know how to do.

We have found some great new investigators--a young guy named anthony who might be serving a small (month-long) jail sentence for driving under intoxication, but who is so completely dedicated to better his life. He works crazy hours at his job, so it can be hard to get ahold of him, but when he is free he is always excited to meet for a lesson, and he has come to church both Sundays since we started teaching him. He lives with and takes care of his great grandfather, who apparently has a large collection of suits. So Anthony is showing up to church in a different suit each week--the first week he wore a baby-blue three-piece with a contrasting red bible tucked under his arm. We are also teaching a wonderful lady named Magdalena, who is an awesome lady and a mother of two. We have yet to be able to teach her husband, but we are hoping to be able to teach the whole family--we shall see. 

Like I said last week, we meet and teach all kinds of people. This week I invited a man named Mohamed Coulibari to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized. He is from Mali and is Muslim. 

Elder Evans and I have high hopes for this area--the field is undeniably white. Which reminds me: our mission was visited by a Brazilian General Authority last week--Elder Aidukaitis. I took a certain amount of pride in actually knowing how to properly pronounce his name (AYE - do - KIE - Cheess). Anyway he was a wonderfully invigorating speaker.

Oh, and I was unable to see the baptisms of my investigators, the Youngs back in Liberty, which was sad. But I did get to talk to them on the phone--they are doing wonderfully.

Thats all for now I suppose. Love yall!