Monday, January 25, 2016

Week 15

Aunt Amy-- the fish balls here do not taste better than the ones you made (compliment ;) )

Let me tell you what the church is like. The ward is pretty small. The chapel is pretty small with wooden benches to sit on. There is one in Young Womens and about 20 women in relief society. And I think the elders are about the same, however there are 2-3 young men. Everyone is super sweet. There are many less active members; most of them are either too busy or have a small problem with the word of wisdom. But they are all such genuine good people. We usually attend the Gospel Principles class with our investigators. During the week we hold an English class, which always has a good turn out! It is a district activity (we take turns teaching) and around 5-10 people come every time! This last time was fun because we were learning about health and fitness, and the missionaries teaching bought a bunch of tim tams to sip through (not healthy). This Saturday we will have a FHE activity with pizza, and the missionaries are in charge of putting together the game (relay thing with oreos and chocolate and shaving cream and ballons= idea). One member is 19 and saving up to go to BYU-H, so we are excited that we will still be able to see each other after my mission (I will still be able to use Cantonese!).

Night has been so cold... I bought two huge blankets and already have 2 dubets(?) under those. And I wear a scarf and coat to bed. Missionaries here tend to stay in the same area for like half their mission. Long periods of time. I think that is cool, because you really form a close relationship with your ward and area. We have zone conference every month I think. Church is all in Cantonese. In our area, there are no mandarin wards. The Mandarin elders just go to whichever ward they choose (if there is an investigator attending so they can translate, etc). My companion is able to give the Filipino sisters referrals sometimes. Many Filipinos work here with little knowledge of Cantonese. They love talking to my companion.

This week I have really learned the importance of diligence! I am thankful that Heavenly Father knows I can do hard things. I am thankful that I can learn this language and communicate effectively to get to know and trust these people. They are so great.

Spiritual/ General
This week has been great. I think one of the most important things is just to stay positive. Through every thing that happens, as long as you are positive and smiling you can make any situation funny/ happy. It has been so fun to really reflect every day and think about who we should reach out to/ serve more.

Our ward is so special. The members (relief society especially) really work hard at making others feel welcome. We had a Relief Society BBQ on Saturday. It was so cold (probably around 40 degrees F)!!! Yet three Relief Society sisters still came and put so much effort into it (4 of our friends interested in the church attended). They all are so loving and caring and always look for more opportunities to make these people feel welcome. They even gave us warm coats because we have been freezing this past week! We baked them cookies for Sunday because we just appreciate them so much. It is really so neat to watch the unity of the ward grow, and to know that they are pray for the people we visit. They inspire me :) It reminds me of what we learned at the training meeting-- we are not missionaries assigned to a ward; we are members of this ward who happen to have a calling as a full-time missionary.

Our investigators are so amazing. Genuinely good people. One is 80 years old, and she has such a hard time walking. At the BBQ she fell into the bushes and hurt her hand (she is always seeing the doctor for something). She shuffles around, and it takes forever for her to get to church. Her faith is inspiring; she goes through so much effort to be righteous and although she forgets a lot of things, she just wants to follow Christ and be the best that she can be. On Sunday we walked her all the way to church in the 32 degree F rainy weather. She forgot her false teeth, had a tiny jacket, and had to leave an hour later to meet her brother-in-law who is visiting, but still pushed forward and went to Sacrament. She is so cool. One member who hasn't been to church in 10 years, came to church the other day. She says that we are the only family she has (she loves to give us tons of food to bring home and gives little gifts to give to the primary kids. She also made me a scarf). She loves the members as well. She simply needs support.

It is really neat to see the faith of so many people. Sometimes our investigators or members will call us or text us and ask us to pray for them in a situation. They know the power of prayer. They know that Heavenly Father genuinely listens and will answer the prayers as needed. I love prayer. It is so essential. I've witnessed so many miracles, as I try to pray for the needs of others and to really ponder on what more I can do to serve all those around me. I've not only been able to learn of myself and develop the divine traits Heavenly Father has given me (patriarchal blessing), but I have been able to really gain insight on others lives and build their trust and to uplift them. It is so meaningful to me. These people are so meaningful to me. I'm thankful for this opportunity to grow and to become what He wants me to be, and to get to know/ help some of His children who are so special to Him. I enjoy this mission so much; every moment, the ups and the downs. His guidance and His work are truly a blessing.

Thank you all for the prayers. I know that Heavenly Father is blessing those I am working with and strengthening our ward because of your faith. And I know that your families will be strengthened as well. You are all so great.

Sister Wilcox

Our members care about us... They forced us to wear/ gave us these pants and socks and jackets because it was SO COLD. We happily accepted their offer, even though the clothing combination looks hilarious.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Week 14

I'm not sure how to email aunt kim so this is for her: thank you for email updates. Miracles happen daily. VTee can still appreciate her effort. Little by little. Her love and example will be enough. Maybe invite her to do something with you and then your light will be great for her. I dont know what congee is. Also, that is awesome that you did a presentation in the central public library in Hong Kong!

It's amazing that you just had a stake conference broadcast the covered all of the 100 or so stakes in the Southeastern US and afterwards cooked hamburgers and hotdogs over a bonfire for Chrissy's, Joe's, and our families and some of the other ward members. I miss bonfires and family get togethers and american foods. I guess I will just appreciate it that much more when I get back (but really american food is amazing. And culture and everything. It really is the promised land). You asked about how Mcdonalds is in Hong Kong and what kinds of toilets they have. Hong Kong Mcdonalds is pretty similar. They don't have salads or snack wraps or any of the good chicken wings. They do have sesame flavored ice cream which is interesting. It is very fun to try random foods with the culture, but nothing beats southern food from the USA and family get togethers. :) I've only seen one squat toilet since I've gotten here. The others are like those in the USA.

We do service at a place called crossroads every week. It is a place for refugees to train for jobs and that gives aid. We work in the shop and walk up and down the stairs for hours (they sell things from poor countries etc).

I have learned a lot this week.

I think the main thing that I love that I learned is that of being an example and a light. I love President Monson's most recent General Conference talk. Matthew 5:5,14-16/ 3 Nephi 12:5,14-16 are my favorite scriptures (have been throughout high school). I haven't thought much about them lately until this week. I really want to have that light and be able to share it with others. I know that if we have faith, repent sincerely, love God, and do good works, we will have that pure light about us (Hel 3:35.. pure, joy). Christ is the light, so learning of Him and becoming more like Him is so essential. People will be able to recognize the happiness in your countenance and will be drawn to the gospel. "As we follow the example of the Savior, ours will be the opportunity to be a light in the lives of others."

Our friends interested in the gospel are doing so well. I love seeing the way they want to give back because of our service. They feel the blessings of the Gospel and Christ's love, so they do all they can to serve us and other members. One less active (Sister Tsang) always gives candy and food to give to primary or other missionaries. She insists on feeding us all the time, so we really want to start bringing members with us for her to become closer with.

My companion and I have been very sick recently. It seems we never have energy. But we pray for the strength and keep going. We are so busy with lessons and helping others. Sister Villasin says that when she feels miserable (sickness) she just wants to help and serve others more. It helps her to focus less on herself and lifts her spirit to serve others. This couldn't be more true. We taught Sister Anne, another less active this week. I had been feeling so low (dry, itchy hands and lips, cold/flu/sore throat, headache, probably a little mental/emotional exhaustion as well), yet when we went to help this sister, everything just became positive. She wanted repentance and had been touched by a phone call prayer (we happened to call on her baptism date as well). She told us the words that we said about praying always for strength were exactly needed, and she wanted to be forgiven and "pure and beautiful" like us missionaries. This was an answer to my prayers, because I had been feeling negative and praying and repenting with all my heart. And when I turned outward and forgot about myself, I was able to see what small principles could make such a difference in another's life. Really amazing.

Two sisters with baptismal dates are having trouble quitting smoking/ drinking coffee, and another is never well enough to come to church. I am not sure what more we can do to help them. We will continue to have faith in them and keep them in our prayers. God never gives up on us when we are in our low points, so we cannot give up on them.

The mission is very hard. Sometimes I feel like I'm dragging my feet through the day, because there is a never-ending load of work and people who don't keep their commitments. My goal is not just to endure my mission, but to enjoy it. To let it change me. I will enjoy the moments. I will think positive thoughts. I think that if I have more faith in these people, and if I seek for the Charity and love for them (sincerely always think positive thoughts about them), then everything will be brighter and more simple.

I love this Gospel. I'm honored to be called to the the Lord's work (D&C 4, if you have desires you are called), and that He trusts me and has patience with me and my prayers. I know that every single individual is special to our Heavenly Father, and that means a lot to me. I am excited to learn how to focus my thoughts, plans and energy more so on others than myself. I like to read Alma 26. I ask myself "Would I go through this for the Savior?" The answer is yes. And I want to go through it with similarity to the Savior's positivty, patience, and love. I know that He will lift us above our trials. He will not take them away, but simply give us strength to overcome. And that is such a blessing.

Sister Wilcox

These pictures were just sent to me from the mission office. This is our zone after it arrived from the MTC in front of the Hong Kong Temple with our mission president and his wife. Then it is me with the mission president and me with my companion.
These are from our zone Christmas party.
Here we are caroling at the ward Christmas party. In the last picture with Santa, I'm in the back with some investigators.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Week 13

Thanks for the email about your experiences living abroad and your tips for overcoming culture shock--especially using a sense of humor as you try to figure out how the culture works. It is all so true! I think it is amazing how many neat experiences the family has had. And I am so glad the family is still getting together now and having experiences (old cheese fondue. yum!).

--------------- I'm not even lying when I say the food here literally makes me cry (I've cried a couple of times... I was laughing at the same time though. Because it's funny how much it freaks me out).

I don't have much time so I will just write a bunch of jumbled thoughts/ experiences.

We have a cute little old lady investigator who fell 3 stories when she was 9 and just recently got hit by a bus. You would never even know. She is so full of life and never stops talking. It is the funniest thing. In the markets, they seem to think that chopped up animals (with their heads still around) are appetizing. Maybe it looks more fresh? I don't understand it. Also, so many people eat ramen for breakfast here. We are thinking of doing a cookie beng ge beng (cookie baking party) with all our investigators. I only say that because I like the way cookie beng ge beng sounds. We have another investigator who always wears lots of cheetah print and glitter (she is 80).

We showed "The Testament" during an investigator lesson. I cried at the end (it gets me every time... I love that movie so much) (then we read 3 Nephi 11-- amazing, love it). I cannot begin to comprehend the love and grace that Christ has. Yet I am eternally indebted and grateful to Him.

People here also choose their own English names sometimes. I think it is funny, because there are lots of names like: Bibi, Cat, A-wing, Yoyo, Twinkie, Kaka, Twinkle, Suki, etc. And it's completely normal.

The ward is really getting involved and excited and reaching out to our investigators. It makes me happy. I love sincerely getting to know everyone.

We conducted the English class this week. We taught words about shopping and played the price is right at the end (and gave away some of our random stuff). There were a lot of people who went and everyone was laughing (sardines went for like 1000 HK $). It is also really fun when I make calls to former investigators and things, because I act like I've known them all my life, and they tell me they miss me (I've never actually met them).

I have been more frustrated with the culture lately but I just shrug it off because I realize it is part of culture shock. For example, everyone here is so blunt about their opinions. But I laugh it off. I also didn't know it was rude if you didn't eat with both arms on the table.

Have you served the Savior? Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Serve someone this week (whether it be cooking them food, helping them clean, or even just visiting them and listening with love).

This week has been so great. It is so important to recognize the miracles throughout/ at the end of every day. They are there, you must simply recognize them. It has rained every Sunday since I've been here, which seems to scare investigators/ everyone. They don't come to church because of it. However, this week we have been praying for sunshine and good health on Sunday. Heavenly Father definitely answered our prayers (it started raining a couple hours after church was over, but was a perfect beautiful day before that). Tender mercies.

My vision for my mission is to develop these Christlike qualities and hold onto them for life. (Be the best you... Patriarchal blessing can tell you more of your potential if you look for it... pray to develop what you need) I want my habits developed here to become a lifestyle. "It is not 'life on the mission,' and 'life after the mission.' It is life as a Disciple of Christ." -President Lam. It brings me so much hope that the ways I am learning to live here (constantly reaching out to others and becoming a part of their lives, visiting them, serving them) can and will be continued for the rest of my life. It is interesting how contagious positivity is. You can instantly become close with anyone, if you sincerely want to get to know them and love them and are positive. It is so interesting.

Accountability is something that has become very meaningful to me. Prayer is everything. As I pray in the morning and at night, I account all of my goals. I think of specific people and their needs, I pray for strength in the areas needed, I ask "what more can I do? What lack I yet?"Every way I am trying to change and become better, I converse with my Father in heaven. And He truly gives strength in the ways needed. This is also so essential because it reminds you of the goals for each day and gives you hope and excitement. It changes your attitude and helps you to always be positive. Any hope or dream (which is good) can be accomplished, and through His help, will be. I've also found that your thoughts influence who you are. Your mindset shapes your life. You can be whoever you want to be. You can be the most confident, positive, loving, strong person. You simply need to put yourself in that mindset now and do it. It really works; and I have been able to change my outlook or mood as soon as it starts to get negative.

We have a couple baptisms next week and we are very excited (they have true faith in Christ and a true change of heart through repentance... baptism is the commitment and is a true blessing)! This is His work. So long as we have Faith, Hope, Charity, and are focused (eye single to the glory of God), we are qualified. We will help bring these people the blessings of the gospel and the simple truth of life: Christ has saved us and we will have eternal life/ happiness, should we choose to accept it.

Sister Wilcox

A monkey from our adventure hike I wrote about last week.

A typical meal

Our apartment

Red bean drink

Fish ball delight

My study desk

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Week 12

My companion is from Tacloban City in the Philippines where the big hurricane went through two years ago and flattened the city. Thank you Grandpa for the fun updates on the family! Pdays are very busy but rather than sightseeing we usually like to go window shopping around the mall; they have amazing fashion here. The scouts are so lucky to have you!! Your backpacking adventure sounds so fun.

General It is pretty funny because I have been worried lately about overspending. For the first month I spent nearly $40 on transportation of my own money (without reimbursement), and accidentally spent $50 of groceries on my personal card as well. And then I bought two skirts for Christmas and realized I didn't want them but they wouldn't give me a refund. However, this past week nearly every investigator has been feeding us, or giving us tons of food for no reason at all. So I spent 50 cents on groceries this week and our fridge is super full. Small miracles. I was also pretty sad because I threw out my aloe before getting on the plane because my bag was too heavy (I love my aloe), and today when I was asking an investigator about what I should do to help my skin, she gave me two bottles of aloe. The Lord doesn't just reach out to others through us; he allows others to look out for us as we do His work :)

This week has been so nice because my hair is now permanently straight for a year. I wake up and it has dried perfectly and I spend no time or effort on it whatsoever. These computers cannot upload pictures, so I apologize once again. I think some people sent me pictures to my email though, so I will forward them.

Can someone please send me facebook pics to this email? I would like a couple cheer pictures (stunts and a group picture) a couple Austria pictures a couple Bolivia pictures and a couple pictures from BYU and a couple family ones. I will print them here and show them to investigators. They love pictures and I brought like 4. Thank you!

Jessica- I hear audition music all the time here. Some of it is apparently popular. It is weird but also fun.

Food... some of the food has been really hard for me to handle here. One investigator wanted to give us breakfast and it was a huge bowl of ramen noodles and weird beef. I have a really hard time stomaching what they serve us. But it is out of love, and I have been blessed to handle it with dignity. Another investigator served us rice with chopped up purple octopus tentacles. And she had us make a salad with a whole tub of mayonnaise (kind of defeats the purpose of salad/ I didn't know their were people who ate more mayo then my family, lol). She has a garden though and lets us try some of her home grown vegetables and fruits. One is green with pink alfalfa looking stuff in the middle and is very sweet.

I think the idea of a Mentor is so interesting. You choose who is in your life and how they will shape it. If you want to be successful, you spend your time with successful people. All of the most successful people in life had mentors. The most successful people now have them. I have been blessed with companions who have been great "spiritual" mentors.

We met a potential investigator this week whose Dad owns a huge company and she is a millionaire. She is super sweet and loves serving people. Everyone needs the gospel, and it is so interesting to meet people in different circumstances because they all have great individual personalities and their own challenges as well. She brought us to an expensive restaurant (I accidently got sticky chicken on a white fancy tablecloth because my chopstick eating skills are not perfected yet; and I was served an orange sea sponge looking thing and a long purple octopus tentacle) and bought us desert (squishy warm sesame balls, and durian/ whipcream with ice cream or something... never tried anything like it before but it was really good). Then she took us to a beautiful place in the mountains that had wild monkeys that attacked us at one point. This was against the rules however (she didn't know) so we had her take us back home (it was way out of our area). She gave us real jade bracelets, and wanted to buy us Dior earrings (she was wearing them in pink; when she looked up the exact name of the pair, there were several celebrities pictures wearing them, including Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence while on red carpet)... But my ears aren't pierced so she is getting us more expensive Hermes bracelets... Oh she also wants to set me up with her rich asian friend. I said "chyundouh jihauh" (after the mission). Lol it was mostly a joke though. Oh, and she also wanted to give us one of her four cars!!

Spiritual "I did not still the wind; I simply gave you strength to overcome." Basically my life. This week has been very interesting. At first I think Satan was trying very hard to hinder our missionary work. I was feeling exhausted and sick and negative for a while. I really tried hard to pray for a positive attitude . I later found that changing the way I say my prayers (always thinking of others and asking for their blessings through my positive attitude). This really helped. I also read the "How to be a consecrated missionary." This week I have been trying my hardest to put 100% into studies and in service (to companionship and to investigators and members). I have tried to sacrifice my own will and "things of importance" to the Lord, asking for His help and strength to do so. I have felt an increase in effectiveness and love for others, as I have tried to focus more on His work, and He has helped me tremendously in doing so.

I really like the Powers of Heaven paper. I enjoy reading it everyday, and applying it to my life. I love Moroni 7:26. The promise is so real, and it is so easy to recognize while on the mission. Often, we will pray for an investigator to have the desire to be baptized, or to call us, and it will happen (sometimes they will call in the very moment). I have sincerely prayed for strength on the days when I have no energy, and He has given it. I have been able to more effectively love, serve, and teach. ALL things that you ask for in faith, which are good, will be given you. What a promise. It has been very interesting to ponder and reflect on all the miracles we have encountered each day. It seems that even when things don't go as planned, they work out in a way that was necessary. We have 4 baptism dates in a ward that hasn't had baptisms for 2 years and is losing hope. Now we must simply pray for these individuals to keep their commitments and be given their own strength. They all truly desire to be baptized, which is amazing. We cannot lose hope in them (they all seem to be getting sick and losing the big perspective), because Heavenly Father has never and will never lose hope in us. I can think of times in my life when I probably wasn't following His ideal plan, but He had patience and never gave up on me. And now I am here serving.

This is His work. Of course He will help us with it. We simply must ask in faith. Miracles happen right before our eyes daily. What a blessing to reach out to His children in love and do His work. Also: Remember to tell the Savior your plan each morning and to think of your blessing at the end of each day. People love serving missionaries because they feel the love that the Savior has for them through us.
Sister Wilcox

Pictures of me and my companion and the sweet friend who took us to the mountains with the wild monkeys everywhere. Can you read my nametag? No pictures of the monkeys attacking us.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Week 11

I'm in the north, in the New Territories near mainland China. Tuen Mun. My companion is from the Philippines. She is great. She always recognizes the little blessings and miracles--the Lord's hand in our lives as we do His work.

Our companionship received the greatest gifts for Christmas. There were so many miracles. We would be thinking and praying about people we couldn't get ahold of and they would call us! 4 investigators attended the church Christmas party and 3 attended church on Sunday. I think the greatest gift was seeing our love for them reflected. I want to stay worthy of having the sincere love of Christ for these people. I love that as they recognize this love, they desire to turn outward and love/serve us and those around them. I think this example of following Christ (ministering as he would) is one of the most important aspects of missionary work. This is His gospel. I want to strive to learn more about the way He taught on the earth and continuously strive to develop His characteristics. We always strive to think of more ways to serve the people. It also builds their trust. I don't know much Cantonese, but I know enough to get to know them and support their needs with the principles of the gospel.

It was funny because we had dinner at a part-member family's house (my first dinner with people here in Hong Kong), and they served exactly what I was scared of--fish balls and octopus balls. However, I think I am being blessed while here because I was able to stand it enough to eat it without making any faces! Handled with dignity! The friends of the family who were also there were singing Chinese opera songs and one old man started singing in falsetto! This went on for a long time. We just sort of sat there and laughed. I love that the old people here act like cartoons. When they jog and exercise, it is very funny. You would have to see it to know what I mean. Love it. On the way home a random old man started jumping around throwing fists at the elders (not actually trying to hit them but just standing in place pretending like he was going to.) He just jumped around trying to do this for about 5 minutes. Then he stopped and walked away. LOL Some people are really poor here. Some don't even have a toilet. And because Hong Kong is so expensive, it is very common to have an apartment about the size of a large closet. It is so important to be grateful for what you have.

The area we live is very fun. We see all varietes of age groups. The little children are SO cute. hou dak yih. Every day you see older people wheeling little bag-carts around with all their stuff in it. We call them pohpoh che (grandma cars). Its so fun. They are all so sweet, and their faces light up when we say good morning etc. It is normal to call old ladies grandma here. It is endearing I think. Idk. The culture here is very funny because people are very blunt. One of our investigators told me I was so beautiful now because my pimple went away (saw her twice since I've been here. She is trying to quit smoking and has such a strong testimony but is sick currently). And they tell people when they are fat or skinny etc.

We had lots of Christmas parties as a zone and as a ward and a talent show. I got for a missionary as a white elephant gift white cheetah print antlers. Needless to say, he loved them. I also love dragon fruit. It is kind of like kiwi. Tastes good with oatmeal. The chips here are quite interesting. They have pizza flavor, chicken flavor, shrimp flavor. I actually really like most of the food here. Does any one know any ways to help people stop smoking? One investigator is trying really hard but it is such a challenge.

We have 5 investigators who we will extend baptismal dates to this next week. I like to picture them in white. I also like to see them as God sees them. They are each already so special to me. It is so amazing. It is also a commitment to follow Christ, a choice to have eternal happiness rather than misery. A choice to be saved, a logical decision. I know that if we are working diligently and doing all that is required in studying, planning, obedience, etc, the Lord will bless us in the ways we need to help these people.

Sometimes people are astonished at how quickly the missionaries can learn the language and how they can bring so many the gospel. My response: Alma 26:12 and 2 Nephi 28:30. I love this: if you are not going forward spiritually, you are going backward. It reminds my of my dad's story and testimony of his dream of trying to get out of a pit. If you don't know it, you should ask him. D&C 93, grace by grace. You can receive all the Father has. What a blessing. 3 Nephi 9--because it was Christmas.

I think it is so amazing that service and charity can cure all unhappiness and negativity. Any time I am feeling a bit down, helping others blesses me. It helps me become so positive and happy. There's never been an easier cure! I want everyone to think of one person this week and ask "What more can I do to serve them?" Try to find a way to even more love this person. Happy New Year!!

Sister Wilcox

Me with my companion Sister Villasin (left). She is such a great example. So kind to everyone. Knows that everything can be accomplished through faith. That is why we are so successful. Through relying on Him and having faith that we will accomplish His will.

This is the investigator who came with us to the Christmas party- Yan. She is very lovely. I love two of the younger girls in our ward (Carmen and Nikki)- they are such great fellowshippers and make everyone feel welcome. They are very fun to talk to, know English pretty well, and are kind to everyone we intorduce them to. One of them gave me a christmas tree hair pin that she made herself.
This was at the Christmas event at our stake building (they were singing Christmas carols in English and Cantonese). It was really nice. They had a ton of food (most of it was pretty normal-- spaghetti, potato casserole thing, egg salad sandwiches, cake), but they had a WHOLE PIG. Crazy. But cool. I had a tall elder take the picture over the crowds heads.
Our ward building (3 wards use it) in Tuen Mun. We are near the northern outskirts of Hong Kong, pretty close to China. The ward members are so sweet. They bear with my Chinese and talk to me/ help me learn new words.
In the main city area of Hong Kong. We went to the mall to email at the apple store. It is huge. Their stores and all their fashion is amazing. It is crazy how much they love technology though. Everyone is on their phone all the time. The apple store is huge with a bunch of people on the devices (using them) and with music (imagine dragons--- ahhh *cover ears*. I think I heard a new song as well). The main city is beautiful.
View from our apartment. We are in the outskirts of Hong Kong (not as wealthy). The people are so great.