Sunday, August 2, 2015

Elder Derek's Final Email August 2nd, 2015 "Small"


That's how I feel.

That's how this mission felt. So incredibly small.

I am down to my last few days as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ and His Restored Gospel. My last few days in Korea. The last few days before life gets a whole lot more complicated.

As I have thought about returning home this week, the lesson that the Spirit taught me is that I can't just go back to what I used to be. The skills, good habits, and testimonies I have obtained on my mission are a gift to me from Heavenly Father, and I cannot just set them aside and not make use of them. When God gives a gift, He also gives a command to go and use it. 

It will be hard. Harder than it was to leave my family for 2 years, dedicate all my time and attention to serving a people whose language I can barely speak and whose culture I am only beginning to understand. "Real Life" is going to be harder than that, but I have the help of an Almighty Loving God behind me. We read in 3 Nephi 13:33 that if we seek first the Kingdom of God, all the rest, the necessary stuff will be added unto us. In other words, When we are involved (deeply, with undivided attention and focus) in the Work of the Lord, the obstacles in front of us are never as great as the strength behind us.

I learned that lesson again this week through an unexpected miracle. If you've been following my mission emails, you may have noticed that I never talk about any baptisms. That's because I haven't been able to give any to my investigators yet. That was always a sore point for me, because I always thought I was coming out here to change people lives and baptism is a natural part of that. Plus, I knew that people at home would ask, "How many people did you baptize?"

I knew in my mind that serving God was all that mattered, not the numbers or stats. I came into Gangnam for my last 3 months, determined to be an instrument in the Lord's hand, and just to do whatever He needed done, no matter how mundane or small. I've been blessed with more miracles here than any other area, including companion and house member relationships, organizing life after the mission, my family being protected physically from harm, and greater humility and faith in Christ.

But I still wanted to Baptize.

I went through the first few weeks of this transfer with high hopes and high expectations, but when plans fell through, I resigned myself to the fact that I would go home without having helped anyone come unto Christ through Baptism. That all changed this last week.

Brother Shim, the husband of Sister Park, a member of our ward. She referred him to us and said to baptize him before I left. That was a month ago, and he didn't seem interested. He came to church a few times, at his wife's request, and the last time (last week sunday), we met him afterwards and had a Gospel lesson. He had changed! He was humble, ready and willing to be baptized. Also, thanks to 30 years spent married to an active member, he already knew and was keeping all of the commandments and the doctrines. We taught him 3 times that week, had the interview with our Zone Leaders, and had a baptism on Saturday, August 1st. Getting in the font with this man was an amazingly sweet experience, especially when he told me that he was getting "upgraded" through baptism. ^^

I was also able to confer the Gift of the Holy Ghost upon him the next day in Sacrament meeting. That was fun in Korean. First time doing that one, to! He is solidly set in the path, and he's started his Gospel journey with a wonderful wife to support and teach him, a loving ward, and now the constant help of the Holy Ghost.

We had no idea we would be baptizing this man. We didn't even have it down in our weekly goals. So, for the first time in my mission, I was able to write two 1's next to Baptisms and Confirmations in our weekly totals report.

What I learned from this is, again, that the most important thing is to be God's instrument and do what He wants done, no matter how small it may seem. The other thing I learned is that God truly does "add those things upon us" when our desires are righteous and we are dedicated to serve Him, regardless of the results.

This work, the Work of Salvation, is truly God's work. He is in control, and there is nothing you or I or anyone can do to hinder, stop, slow down, or speed up this work any different than how he wants it. The only thing we can do is take His invitation to participate, Be His Instrument, and let Him pour out the blessings on us and change us into a better, happier, more Christ-like person than we ever thought possible.

I bear you my testimony as a servant of the Lord that Christ Lives. He has restored His true gospel to the earth and shown us again the way to live to follow Him and be saved in His Kingdom. The past 2 years of sharing this message has changed my life, and I will take the things I have learned and NEVER STOP SERVING in the Work of Salvation. May we all do the same.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Derek James Wilcox, 선교사

Monday, July 20, 2015

3rd to last email & Pictures: July 19, 2015

This week was fantastic! We found 2 new investigators, had lots of member participation in lessons, and had 2 investigators come to church yesterday! One was a former investigator who just wanted to come and see me one last time before I go, and he liked the service. Still not prepared, but we helped him in some small way. That's the gloriousness of this work: God lets us help out in small, simple ways, which bring about huge changes in us and in the world.

Our District! Me, Elder Arredondo, Elder Pettit, and Elder Yoon. Doing a stickerboarding activity!

I saw Elder Rosenberg at the Temple! That's his current area (it's in the seoul mission, but we got permission to go once a transfer). He leaves tomorrow!!

Our District plays screen golf! Dad, I wanna go play with you sometime. I stink, but it's kinda fun! ^^

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 28, 2015 Email "The Big Moment"

This is it.

It's here.

The final sprint. The last leg. The last 100 Meters. The Kick.

The last Transfer.

As an Elder serving in Korea, after the 2 months in the MTC you have about 16 tranfers, or 6-week increments of time where you could either change the area you serve or the companion you serve with.  My event in Track was the mile, or the 1600 meter run, 16 times 100 meters. 16 transfers, 16 100's. Pretty neat comparison, don't you think? Each transfer is a milestone in and of itself, but I find it interesting that there are 16.

And now I'm in the final one.

The first of 6 weeks is already gone. It flew by faster than any other. We saw lots of miracles, including new investigators coming up to us and asking to meet and study the Book of Mormon, the start of the best missionary- ward mission leader relationship I've been a part of yet, and our first Member-present Lesson in Gangnam. Things are happening. Getting moving. Hastening.

Not the least of the miracles Elder Arredondo and I have seen are the personal ones. I feel personally like this transfer and the one before, the time I've been here in Gangnam, has been the culmination of my whole mission experience. All of the things I have learned, been taught, sort-of learned, or heard that I should be doing have been poured into action here. I am doing and feeling and being more than I ever have before. Changing. 

I realized yesterday that I have been blessed with the ability to start, to get things moving. This gift has been manifest in my whole life in several ways, but especially here in Korea. However, this gift also came with a weakness that I myself wasn't able to put in to words until the Spirit helped me out yesterday. I have been fearing the finish. I was never a strong finisher in running races, nor have I gone above and beyond the mark of exact obedience to true diligence. I get content, satisfied with doing something, anything. With looking good, looking like I am working hard. Lots of pride, a lack of faith.

But our Father in Heaven knows what he has been doing with me for the past 20 years. And He knows what he's going to do with me for eternity. I haven't seen it until now, but looking back on my mission experience, God has placed me in exactly the situations I needed to be in, not to change the world and give myself a big head, but to be humbled, to become soft, malleable to the will of the Father, so that I can do what He wants me to do, say what He wants me to say, become what He wants me to become.

And I glory in it. I, like Ammon, know that I am nothing. As to my strength, I am weak. Therefore, I, too, will forever cease boasting of myself, stop trying to gratify pride, cover sin or mediocrity, or exercise unrighteous dominion over my brothers and sisters. For good. God want more than that for me, and for each and every one of you. 

He truly does have a plan for each of us. He knows what will make us the most happy, and He will lead us there as long as we give him our obedience. That's the deciding factor in the quest of returning to God, becoming like Christ:

"Do I give this God-given agency back to Him, trusting Him unreservedly, by obeying instantly and fully every word of command He gives?"

He has blessed us with the Book of Mormon, the Bible, living prophets, spiritual revelation, given us all abundant direction. Now it's all up to us, do we follow, or not?

In the 1600 meter race, as with any other race, the finish is the deciding factor. Not only can you shave off final seconds for a better resulting time, but without the finish, there is no point to competing. If you don't finish the race, you surely will never improve your time, earn a medal, or even know how you can do better.

We've been counselled to "Begin with the End in Mind" ( by our leaders. From the start of our races, whether it be a mission, a career, a marriage, a life, we must know where we are headed for. We must be fixed on the end goal of reaching the finish line, where the Savior has crossed the tape and is cheering us on.

Keeping the End in Mind will help when trials come, when things get hard or boring. Those are our chances to show God just how determined we are to reach that goal.

When all is said and done, the Finish defines the entire race.

We are all in our last 100 meters. This life is just a little blip on the scale of eternity, and our eternal rewards depend on how well we finish this time, obeying and following Christ. 

For me, this "mini-finish" of the mission has awakened me to a vision of my life, the more important race. I know now what to do, how to make decisions and receive God's instruction. I am incredibly grateful for the past 2 years, and the 18 years before that. It's like the stars all aligned perfectly and put me in all the right places for the right things to happen to me. Or maybe it's just God, my Heavenly Father, who loves and watches over me and every one of you and has wonderful things in store for all who show that they're ready to receive them.

Take the next step. There is no time to lose! We're in the moment. It's here, never to come again. Kick. Do. Endure. Become. Feel the Joy that comes.

This is my hope and testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all and hope you have another nice week!


Elder Derek James Wilcox

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pictures- Gangnam Style: June 21, 2015

MERS Scare & cool Book of Mormon Cover :)

Staying in Gangnam for his last area

Cool Sunglasses Store

Shark Teeth Sunglasses

English Class

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June 7, 2015 Email & Picture

Hey everyone! Not much time today, but I wanted to tell you about the most feel-like-a-missionary week I've ever had!

We were swamped with miracles this week! Promising new investigators, miracle random people calling us to meet, getting to translate into korean for a temple elder visiting our ward, getting close with the ward, getting closer and having lots of fun doing the work with my Companion, getting more answers to prayers than ever before, and feeling more HAPPY than I ever have in my life were all included in this awesome week. 

We may not be getting big numbers here in this part of the vineyard. But we are disciples of Christ, called of Him to declare his word and find those prepared to receive Him.

This afternoon we ate at a buffet called VIP's, and it was the most delicious thing I have ever had. And cost a whopping $80 for a steak, but also a free buffet for 2 other people. Ate with 8. Big Belly. No dinner tonight. Also, think I may be lactose intolerant. I switched to soy milk recently, and had some icecream at the restaurant. Not sitting to well.

Anyway, that's about all the time I have today! I love you all! Peace! 안녕히 계셔유!!

Elder Derek Wilcox

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 24, 2015 "A BIG Hug"

Hello everyone! Time for another Big Email! The weather has been really mild and warm here in Korea for the past while, but it's beginning to get hot now! It's already totally bright outside when we go running in the mornings! I am so blessed to have a companion that is willing to run, and another house mate/ District leader who is willing to trade places with him when he doesn't want to. ^^

This week in Gangnam was really really tough! Elder Arredondo and I got cancelled on about 5 times! On the bright side, we got to walk around the area a lot and get to know the streets. We don't ride buses here, which I love cuz walking around is just my style. We do have about 20 or more subway stations in our little area (crazy huge number, cuz this is one of the metropolises of Seoul) for when we need to move fast or leave the area for meetings.

We met some really cool people. We also met some really weird people. One of them was a man who came to English class and we all just got a weird vibe about him. He seemed kind of autistic, a bit. He was kinda creeping on me, so I wasn't sure what to do. He gave us KFC he had bought, tried to take a picture of me, and then left right when English class started. Confusing. Anyway, that happened right after getting rejected and railed on by some guy on the street about how our church is false and the Book of Mormon is not true. Well, I told him that I've got a witness, an answer from God that it is true, so while there's not much I can do for him, there is nothing he can do to me either. Just a normal missionary day.

I was feeling really really depressed after those 2 experiences, though, and feeling like I could do nothing right. I felt like if I was a god missionary, I could have left that man with a better impression of our church. And I just felt weird and out-of-whack from the guy at english class. On the way home for dinner, I was flipping my mission coin, and I looked at the words on the back, "Full Purpose of Heart". It hit me that all God asked of me was to serve Him and His Children with full purpose of heart. He never required me to be perfect at street-contacting or know exactly how to handle every situation, He just asked for my best effort.

The next day, I was still in a down mood, and in companion study we read from the Book of Mormon together in Alma 26, about a missionary named Ammon talking to his brothers and fellow missionaries after their service among the Lamanite people. He talks in there about a lot of things, but what stuck out to me this time was that he and his brothers went through a lot worse rejection than I did, and a lot more privation (verse 27). When they were depressed, the Lord comforted them. 

When we read this verse together, I felt like I was getting a big hug from my Father in Heaven, like He was saying to me, "It's okay, I understand. Just get back up and give it one more go, be diligent and I will give you success." I felt like the Full Purpose of Heart thing and this chapter combined to help me out of the little depression I had worked myself into. I feel like Heavenly Father picked me up, dusted me off, gave me a big hug, and comforted me like the little child I am to Him. He also showed me lots of ways that I can do better. First he reminded me that my purpose is to serve His other children and Him with my best effort. Then he showed me that when it's hard and I'm depressed, its another opportunity to develop and show diligence. I learned a lot more, but it would take all day to write. The biggest thing I learned, or was reminded of, is that God is mindful of each of us, and that He really does want to help us in our problems. We just need to turn to Him and do our best to follow Him.

 When we ask for blessings, He usually answers with opportunities for us to gain them ourselves.

I love this work, and I love all of you! I love my Father in Heaven most of all, for letting me learn and grow and have the opportunity of serving Him in this way as a missionary.

Thanks again! Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 3, 2015 Email

Another week has come and gone here in Anyang, South Korea. We were blessed with the opportunity to have an absolutely amazing Zone Conference with our zone missionaries and President Morrise and his wife, and his Assistants. We learned about "We are the Message" , one of our mission's themes. Elder Thorup, Sister Hoffman and I were able to give training on being the message to our church members by being excited and happy about the work to remind them of the Joy of the Gospel. We also talked about using the Book of Mormon to help everyone hear the Gospel Music mentioned in last General Conference. Then we went up into a mountain and received inspired training on asking questions to help others learn the Gospel music for themselves from Sister Morrise, as well as positively powerful training on the Power of Positivity from the Assistants. Then we came back to the church, and President led us in a time of seeking and receiving personal revelation about what it means to Come Unto Christ, and how we can do that personally, as well as help others do it. I realized that for me, I needed to reconfirm my testimony of the most basic principle in the Gospel, that of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Yesterday as I fasted and studied, I was able to realize once again that Jesus Christ really did live and die, and that He lives again. He did and does everything for me and for you. The Spirit also helped me realize that because He lives, I can rejoice. I must rejoice! Interestingly enough, on this mission I have learned how to live more like Christ than ever before, but my weaknesses and shortcomings have been distracting me from the Joy that must be felt because of the Atonement of Christ. If I'm not happy when I'm this involved in His work, then I don't fully understand it and I need to complete my conversion. 

I also realized, thanks to my insightful companion, that if we truly understand the Gospel of Christ, then we instantly and naturally begin to share it with those we love. If we hesitate about sharing the Gospel, then we either don't love the people or we don't understand what the Gospel is. There have been too many times that I have felt like "I don't need to talk to this person, I have somewhere to go" or "It's P-day, its time for a break". But thinking of the lives of the apostles and all the Book of Mormon  prophets, I can't see any of them saying that. They truly understood the incomparably joyful message of Christ's Atonement, and they were eager to share it with everyone, no matter how they were received. They understood that all of mankind is on the same team, but many have just been confused by the devil to pursue less joyful things. It's our honor and opportunity to invite, to give them a chance to come back and enjoy the Joy of the Gospel.

I can testify that the Holy Ghost has witnessed to me that Jesus is the Christ, that He loves us and wants us to be happy and so He performed the Greatest Achievement in the history of mankind, the Atonement, so that we could have hope and joy. I also know by the same spirit that the Lord has restored, or brought back his one, complete Gospel through Joseph Smith, and that the Book of Mormon testifies of that truth, as well as teaching us plainly what we must do to feel the Joy. It has taken me a while, and I'm not anywhere near done yet, but I personally am coming to know the reality, intensity, magnitude and JOY of these truths. And I can share them with everyone that I meet. 

I am so honored and joyful to have this opportunity to serve the Lord and His children, and to better myself in the process, in this beautiful land of Korea. This, and my whole life, and my eternity, is all because my Savior performed perfectly the Greatest Achievement. How matchlessly loving and joyful?

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Derek Wilcox

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 26, 2015 "Work of Salvation- The Biggest Deal in Existence!"

Hello everyone! I've added some long-neglected names to the Big Email list. Sorry! This is Elder Derek James Wilcox coming to you (through email) from the Korea Seoul South Mission, Anyang Zone. 

This last week has been absolutely incredible! The Lord has seen fit to grant me with some miracles that raise energy, enthusiasm and drive to share the Gospel. It's getting to the point where I hate going to bed at night because there's too much still left to do! There truly is nothing Bigger than this work in all of existence.

Sometimes I look at the Korean people and their busy lives. They are the epitome of work-a-holic! Hard to find a more diligent people than them, but I see their lives and I see that the mists of darkness are so very real in our world! The mists here have blinded divine sons and daughters of God to the very purpose they came to the earth with! They waste their labor for that which cannot truly satisfy. I realized once more how great is the responsibility I bear, and which is borne by all those who have been baptized to show a willingness to follow God's commandments and be a witness of Jesus Christ. We have been called to reawaken  our fellowmen to the great and eternal purposes of God. Dispel the darkness.

How do we do this? I shared a few weeks ago about the message of the Restoration and how it is our special message to the world. To shine the light of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, God has blessed us with a witness, something we can feel and hold in our hands, that proves the truthfulness of the message. The Book of Mormon.

In my experience as a missionary here in Korea, I have dealt with a wide range of opinions about the Book of Mormon, ranging from instant acceptance after reading their first verses to cries of heresy and devil worship at the mere mention of it. 

I have grown up reading this book, and have received a LOT of help from its pages. I have even received a confirming witness in my heart that it is true. But, as we all do, I have forgotten at times, or at least testified with less-than-sure conviction of it. 

This last week, I pondered and studied the Book of Mormon again. I reviewed all of the teachings I had received, as well as the purpose of the Book as described in the title page and introduction. Then I knelt in prayer and asked my Father in Heaven for another witness of the truthfulness of it and of the Restoration it witnesses of. God answered my prayer, as He does for anyone who asks with faith, real intent, and a sincere heart, ready to learn and act.

I learned a little more about "likening" or applying the scriptures we learn to our daily lives. If we merely read the scriptures because it's what we're supposed to do, we miss the power contained therein. It is by taking questions, seeking for the answers, looking for and taking ways to apply those answers in our personal circumstances that bring that great power into our lives.

This week as my companion and I shared the Book of Mormon with 2 of our investigators, Dong-Jin and Ji-Yeon, I was once again able to testify that the Book is true, and that God does answer the prayers of those who ask sincerely to know that. This book is a vehicle of the Light that dispels the darkness we wade through in the world. A witness of Christ, and of God's love and long suffering towards us. 

I invite you all to ponder, study, and pray the Book of Mormon to come to know or strengthen your knowledge of it's truthfulness. Then I invite you to look for and apply ways to use it in your everyday lives, both sharing with others and personally. I testify that as you do, you will come to feel, like I have, the hugeness and happiness of the Restored Gospel of Christ. It is not a burden, not another chore to be done. It is our very reason for being. How grateful I am to be a part of it.

In the name of Jesus Christ, and as His servant, Amen.

Love you all, thanks as always for the support, prayers, thoughts, and love. God Bless!

Elder Wilcox

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 19, 2015 "Big Hearts" Email

Hey Everyone! 

Time for another Big Email! 

The past few weeks have been incredibly, wonderfully busy. Our area has exploded with investigators and members, others to meet and invite to come unto Christ. 

One insight I have had recently is the fact that we, as the Lord's servants, just need to be ready to act. Like the individual muscle cells in a muscle, we just need to be charged and ready for action at any time. God never forces others to learn about or accept the Gospel, but He is primed and waiting with bated breath for them to take one of the opportunities He places in their path. We as members and missionaries of this Church provide many of these opportunities. The point is, if we are God's Hands, or Instruments in them, we can measure our effectiveness by how prepared we are to act, pounce on opportunities to love, live, and share this gospel message. due to others agency, we will not always have people to teach, people ready to accept the Gospel, but if we are ready for them, God is pleased with us. 

In my running experience, I related this idea with the feeling of tenseness on the starting line. It's one of the scariest, most exhilarating feelings I've felt. That moment before the gun goes off and you start running. God wants us all to be prepared and waiting with the same tautness for every opportunity to invite others to come unto Christ. Sometimes that requires waiting for longer than we think we should have to wait for the gun to go off. But that kind of active waiting, combined with the preparation of hours of exercise previously, is precisely what God is doing, and what He wants us, His Instruments, to do as well. The urgency of the work is immense. We cannot afford to not be ready.

Well, I guess the gun has gone off to start the race for several of God's children here in Anyang city. We are meeting with an old man (Mr. Ryu) who has a sincere desire to be a good christian and help his adult children come back to that life, as well. He struggles to accept the Book of Mormon, but he has a very good impression of our missionaries from his attendance of our English classes. He has been meeting with us to discuss Gospel truths every Monday for a few weeks. 

We are also meeting with another man who attends another church, but is considering changing religions because of an inconsistency of doctrine. 

We meet another man and his wife who runs a restaurant nearby our house. They've attended the Catholic church for their whole lives, but recently he has been wondering what it really means to live a life of faith. He has had contact with the missionaries for about a year, and is impressed with their diligent service with no recompense. He also has been meeting with us to discuss restored truth and the motivation for our service.

Along with these and other people we are meeting with has come the opportunity for me to study and prepare especially for them. I've heard about how study directed to others' needs my whole mission, but I have never applied it like I have recently. In other aspects of missionary work, as well, my life has been full of "a-ha" moments lately. "So THIS is what it means..." Sometimes I feel bad about not figuring things out until this late in my mission, but then I realize that God is mostly concerned with the direction of our progression, and our diligence and willingness to continue learning. I have needed a few wake-up calls up to now, but I am continuing to increase that desire. Being in this eternal work of progression is so FUN!!! I never want to stop!

Thanks to all of you, for your prayers, thoughts, love, words, support. I have been blessed to be surrounded with great examples of people happily, faithfully living the Gospel. It helps me get back on course when I make a mistake. 

God loves us and all His Children, and He is eager to lift and bless us. Sometimes His methods may not make sense to us, but they always work out in the end. 

Love you all! Have another great week!

Elder Derek Wilcox

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 29, 2015

Hello Everyone! It's been a busy few weeks since my last email. All I can say is how forgiving and amazing the Lord is to trust and use His servants the moment they turn themselves more completely to His will. 

These weeks have been full of miracles, do in part to a mission-wide 40-day fast that we are doing to ask the Lord to bless more young people to be ready to accept the Gospel; Lead us to find, teach, baptize and start on the path of conversion more people who will not only join but strengthen and lead the church in Korea, and to prepare us missionaries for these souls as we diligently strive to follow His will. 

One thing that we decided to emphasize this week is the reason why young teenagers and many members of this church would ever want to share their beliefs and try to help others learn them even when they have another religion. The reason? Money, no. Popularity, no. More followers, no. Political strength, no. The reason is because truth has been restored to the earth after centuries of being lost. 

Personally, I haven't used the restoration as much as I would have liked in my conversations on the street with people, or even in teaching them. Especially when we start meeting with someone, it is vital that they understand the restoration, because then they now why on earth we want to meet with them. And they feel interested. The first chapter of PMG says " God will bless you as you take the message of the Restoration to a world drowning in spiritual darkness" (or something along those lines). I got to see firsthand the truth of that promise.

Well, lets get down to it. Elder Craven and I went on exchanges this week and we had an appointment at a far-away place with a man that the sisters found and gave to us. He said to them that he knew the elders, and wanted to practice english again. So we called and set up an appointment. When we met, we talked a lot about his past, how he knew the missionaries. Lately, Elder Thorup have been really emphasizing using our studies to prep specifically for investigators, and so we had a great lesson plan from that morning. But, after we did some getting to know his situation, etc, we actually decided to switch to a different lesson plan we had to use with someone else later. It involved explaining the Restoration, summarizing the whole, in a simple, concise way. We did that, and this man started randomly telling us that he's always believed in God, because how else could the universe be created, with us as little specks living on a rock in the depths of it? We were then able to show him that truth about God and His master plan have been restored as part of this church. We invited him to learn more, meet regularly, and practice english in addition to learning about the restored Gospel, and he said it would be fine if we didn't do english.  wow. English interest? ^^ He also said he could come to ward conference this week, but he ended up having to work, so next week. Anyway, God truly is preparing people!

The other big miracle came in the form of an older man we have been kind-of meeting since before I came here. He runs a small restaurant right outside our apartment complex. He likes english, so we offered to do the english program with him. He unfortunately misunderstood us when we said we wanted to practice Korean, and he just taught us natural phrases to say in certain circumstances. Anyway, we went in and ate after about a month of being unable to, and got an appointment for the next evening. We went in and helped him translate a letter he wants to send into english, and then explained that we would like to practice sharing the Gospel in Korean for our part of the study. We did How To Begin Teaching (see PMG chapter10), and helped him see that while we would be practicing, we really wanted to share the message with him and help him see how good it is, too. We explained the reason why we want to share it, even with others who already have a religion, which was the simplified Restoration. After listening to our brief summary and explanation, he told us that he had met missionaries 30 years ago in 부산, an Elder named Richard Hales, and maybe us meeting now is a sign from God that its time to accept the restored Gospel. 

The next morning we stopped by his place, and got to meet his son, who also has interest in the Family English Program! wow!

One of my favorite things this week was that morning studies were super effective and uplifting, and they were almost 100% focused on the investigators. It really works. When we give our lives (or study time) for Christ's sake (or to prepare to effectively represent Him to others), we truly gain our lives, meaning we are uplifted and inspired, making testimony that much stronger when we bear it later. On the other hand, if we try to just save ourselves with exclusive study of what we feel like studying, we may find some enlightenment, but we can't be as effective when representing Christ to others. That's why I think PMG says personal study is to prep for investigators and (secondly) to strengthen ourselves. Cuz if we do the first, the second automatically happens!

We also had a Zone Blitz proselyting activity this last week, which only about half our zone could attend, but was nonetheless very fun and effective. It was great to get together with our zone members and see different ways to proselyte, and meet a bunch of people. Talked with a nice old lady for about 30 minutes about the Restoration, using scriptures from the bible and personal experience. She almost accepted a Book of Mormon... snap! Oh well, we'll get her next time. And she took a pamphlet on the Restoration (contact your local missionaries to get some of your own to share! ^^).

We also had some last-full-week miracles with the 2 missionaries in our district who are going home this week. We got to prepare and perform an amazing a cappella arrangement of Love At Home as a district at Ward conference. We also got to go out with our bishopric and eat 보신탕 or Dog Meat soup. Don't be alarmed, its a health food here in Korea. People eat it when they feel weak. Anyway, we had to try it once. it was okay, just really soft. Some of you are shuddering. They do the same things to cows and pigs, so whats the big deal? (this time the big deal is not the Restoration.-_^).

Well, that's a long enough email for today. I love you all, and thank you for your thoughts, prayers, emails, and love. I can feel it! Lets go have another great week. ^^


Elder Derek Wilcox

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Feb. 15, 2015 Big Holiday in Korea

Nope, it's not Valentine's Day. Interestingly, though, Koreans celbrate Valentines Day differently than Americans do. On Feb 14th, girls give guys chocolate. A month later, on March 14th, is White Day, where guys give girls candy. Then, if you remained single for both of these 2 couple-centered holidays, a month later on April 14th, you celebrate your misery by eating black-colored JaJjang noodles on what is known as Black day. Missionaries are pretty much supposed to celebrate Black day, so this last week valentines was nothing special.
But this coming week is a different story. On Thursday is the Lunar New Year, 설날 Seollar. In Korea, there are 2 really hugely celebrated holidays, that usually warrant 3 or 4 days off work, and this is one of them. Everyone goes to their hometowns, gathers with their families, eats some rice-cake soup, and spends time together. So, starting this coming Wednesday and ending around Saturday or Sunday, there will be really really few people to find on the streets of Korea. Also because they are with their families in the other regions of Korea, this week will be a little tough for traditional missionary work.
So, we're gonna have a party! Last year we had a mission conference (a talent show), which was a blast, but this year President decided to have each zone do their own activity. He delegated all planning, time, decisions, prep, and follow-through to the Zone Leaders. Oh, joy. ^^ So that party will be this Thursday, and transfers are the day before. I will be getting a new companion (Elder Lee's condition is such that he needs extended treatment and therefore it is better for him to finish his mission here) named Elder Thorup on that day, but that leaves us with less than 20 hours to prep. So, with the help of my district, we kind of already planned our Anyang Zone's activity all out. Should be fun. I'll let you all know how it goes. ^^
Anyway, this last week was great. I was a little stressed out the week before because of Elder Lee having to leave, and then being thrown into a threesome and suddenly having to manage the zone all by my lonesome, but after about a week, the good old adjustors kicked in and things went a lot smoother. We were able to get to all of the appointments in both areas (mine and the other Elders I am with), do lots of language evaluation meetings (practice teaching the lessons in Korean) with many of our Zone's missionaries, and plan for the upcoming activity this week! It's been fun, but I am still really really excited to go back to a normal companionship with only one proselyting area to worry about. ^^
Well, we've passed the worst of the winter, have been having unseasonally warm weather pretty consistently, and we are feeling the Joy of Spring and the Work of Salvation. I have been reading The Power of Everyday Missionaries, and I found a really cool insight. Our Church is based on the fact that it is still OK to ask God questions. 3 centuries after the Savior died, religious leaders gathered and basically decided that God had given them all the knowledge and answers to questions He ever would, and so shut the world into the dark night of apostasy. Joseph Smith asked a simple question, got a simple answer, and with constant asking and receiving for the next 20 years, he got more and more answers and established a Church that to this day asks, seeks, knock, and in return is given, finds, and is opened unto by our Loving Father who waits patiently to teach us until we think to ask Him. It's beautiful and simple, and true. I can testify of that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Love you guys (sorry I forgot to send valentines... hehe^^), and thank a bunch for the prayers.
The work is sweet!
Elder Derek James Wilcox

Monday, February 2, 2015

February 1, 2015 Big Trials, Bigger Changes, and Biggest Progression

Hello Everyone. This is Elder Derek Wilcox. I am so sorry for the long gap between the Big Emails. Time is short today, too, but I want to send this out to you all. ^^
Things have been quite... intersting here in Anyang. I have been here for about 2 and a half months now. I have been struggling since the time I came with my companion relationship. He and I are very different. We have different personalities, backgrounds (temporal as well as gospel-related), attitudes, abilities, energy levels, opinions, and ways of thinking. Due in part to this stress, I haven't felt like writing a Big Email because I felt like most of the things I could say were personal and didn't need to be spread abroad. I feel like struggling for love and peace here in my companionship has consumed most of my time and effort lately, so there really is not much news as far as missionary work goes. We've got some investigators with potential, but just potential so far.
I have learned more here in Anyang from Elder L. than I have learned in all my other areas, with all my other companions put together. Elder L. has good eyes for people's inner character. Through his (sometimes quite painful) correction, I have come to see myself a little clearer, the good points, as well as a lot of the weaknesses I haven't noticed before. I have struggled and struggled to learn to love without holding back, to think of others before myself, to truly seek for others' benefit. I've been pretty selfish and prideful up to now, and I want to apologize to any and all of you whom I have offended in any way. I have been going through a refining fire for the last few months, and my heart feels burned. But it feels great to start to clean off the soot and become better and better through the Atonement of Christ. 
My companion has been struggling himself with quite a large demon, his ankle (which caused him to return home once before to receive surgery and treatment for 6 months) has been aching non-stop for 3 months, leaving him unable to focus on things or have patience for a companion with lots of short-comings. He hasn't even been able to sleep for more than 4 hours a night, on and off, since the cold weather started. And so, this week, my companion talked with our Mission President and decided to be released and go back home to Busan for up to a few weeks to get scanned, and possibly another surgery. I will be a threesome with the other elders in my house until the end of this transfer, by which time Elder L. plans to come back. This was all rather sudden, for me and for President, but I think Elder L. has been thinking about it for a while. He'll leave tomorrow at MLC (mission leadership council), and then 2 days later, we'll have a Zone meeting. Training will be fun. Prayers, please, for him and for me.
The worst part of this is the fact that I feel excited for this change. If I'm honest with myself, I feel like things that can need to be done can finally be done, and things can go the right way now. That could still just be my sefishness and pride talking. I don't know. What I do know is that all things will be done in the wisdom and grace of He who is mighty to Save. He's saved me many times in the past few months, and He will continue, as long as I reach out my arm and grab His, always reaching out to rescue me and you.
I love this gospel, even when it's so hard you just want to cry. Just like I learned in Cross Country, so recently and yet so long ago, If you push, give literally EVERYTHING you have and more to the race- life, to the hill you're on- the trail you're facing, even though all you want to do is stop or at least slow down, then afterwards comes the glorious high, knowing that you did your very best, being pleased with your efforts and knowing that God is too. Having No Regrets.
This life is to short to waste. Don't stay down when you get knocked down. "Success in this life is not measured in the number of times we fall, but the number of times we rise up again." (rough quote from President Uchtdorf)
I testify that there is a God, He loves me and you and all of us. He wants us to be truly happy, and so He provided a Savior to rescue us from ourselves, our own mistakes, and the hard trials of life. I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as restored through Joseph Smith and lead today by Thomas S. Monson, has the priesthood authority of God to lead us to and help us to become like that Savior, even Jesus Christ, through the ordinances of salvation like baptism. The path is set before us.
As is says in 2 Nephi, "all things are given [us] which are expedient unto man, and [we] are free to choose liberty and eternal life through the great mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death..." It's just up to us. Do I reach out and take the Hand outstretched to save me? Do I choose to make use of the wonderful atonement provided for me? Yes. I pray that is our answer. I am learning how to make it mine.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow, and even though it hurts like CRAZY sometimes, I am happy. Truly Happy. I love you all, and I say these things in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

~Elder Wilcox