Monday, January 25, 2016

Xandaman update! Week 23: we aren't a moving service

Hello, we are the L.D.S. Church, aka your local moving service! Call
us anytime you need help, and we will rally up as many members that
are available and we will give you a hand!

Apparently, that is what some people think of us as. We had a lady
call the institute saying she needed help moving furniture out of her
apartment. She is a non member who knows a little bit about the
church. Brother baker wasn't to happy to hear that someone did that.
It was amusing :) But it ended up being a great experience. She
actually has been struggling with cancer and needed to move closer to
family, so she called those she knew would help, namely us. Brother
Glushko came to help pack the truck with her furniture, and we sure are glad he came! He walked in and took charge like a boss, rearranging
the truck and telling us what to move and where. He was a great help.
He is also a great member missionary! He led us in prayer after we
were done and she opened up a little bit. (She actually added onto his
prayer in the middle of it, it was great) She said she loves to take
care of the missionaries wherever they're at. I hope we planted a good
seed in her heart!

I want to learn a new language so bad! Sitting in a lesson with a
bunch of bilinguals is pretty intriguing. We went with brother
Pommerville (a member who served in Chile) to visit the Vasquez family
(recent converts: the father speaks Spanish and a little English and
the two teenagers speak Spanish and good English) the other night, and
it was cool. Brother Pommerville mostly talked with Baltas (the
father) and Yovani (son, 15) in Spanish for the whole visit, and
brother Pommerville and Yovani occasionally filled us in. I could
understand about 6% of the Spanish conversation. But it made me
decide, when I get home, I'm going to learn to speak Spanish! I've
always wanted to, but now I have no doubt.

Something else this week: Angela dropped us! I still can't believe how
someone could have such a powerful spiritual experience and still
reject it! I guess it's not the first time in human history. We
finally got in contact with her, and she didn't even let us in the
door, or give us a chance to talk about it. I could tell something
changed in her. Some opposing idea was placed in her mind and
motivated her to reject the gospel. I hope she will turn up again in
the future. At least we have some great potential still!

We had some good visits with recent converts this week. First we met
with Corey, who was baptized and married last month. He's a cool guy
and fun to be around. I learned that he is a drummer too :) He showed
us a small snippet of a band he likes called 'For Today'. It's
basically Christian metal. I don't think it's the most reverent, but I
won't deter him from listening to it :) After I beat elder Mckell in a
chess game, we showed him the video, 'good things to come'. Amidst the
bondage of trial and hardship we are in, we can stand strong with the
hope that good things are coming in our future. Christ is really the
center of that hope.

Another awesome recent convert family is the Robisons. They are the
ones that showed up to church last summer and got baptized soon after.
Brother Robison gave us a ride out to his house for dinner Friday
night, which is about 13 miles north of Belgrade. He was telling us
about how his pigs have eaten about 15 of their chickens! I didn't
know pigs ate chickens! Now they are only getting about 4 eggs a day,
so their gonna have to replace those chickens. They recently started
home school with their 5 kids, and they love it. They got a little
beagle puppy that is more chubby than Dixie ever was! The kids like
choosing Mormon messages to watch after each lesson. We forgot to
bring them candy, which is what Elder Christensen and elder Pett used
to do. They had to answer questions about the lesson, and they would
get candy. At least they had cookies anyway.

We got to watch the worldwide missionary broadcast Wednesday. It
was really good. It re-energized me to work harder, let the spirit
guide in lessons, listen, use members, and teach less-active families.
I was able to learn personally what I needed to hear from the spirit
which was awesome. The prophet and the apostles are truly men of God.

I want to leave with this thought. When we had dinner with the bakers
the other night, brother baker was telling us about a lightbulb moment
he had after attending a funeral. He was sitting in a stake conference
after a funeral, and he realized what the sacrament really was. If you
think of a 'Mormon funeral', you have the casket, music to invite the
spirit, talks celebrating the persons life. Well isn't sacrament
meeting just like that? We have the sacrament table with a white cloth
covering the emblems representing Christs blood and body, music to
invite the spirit, talks centered on remembering the savior, his life,
death, and resurrection? It's so true! Every sacrament meeting should
be like the Saviors funeral. If you were invited to His funeral, would
you do everything you could to be there? Would a job, a sporting
event, or even your bed stop you from going? Absolutely not! Think of
what the sacrament really means, and commit to get there every week! I
know the atonement has real power, and I'm grateful for the sacrament,
in which we get to take advantage of that atonement.
Thanks again for all your love and support!
Elder Wylie

May the spirit be with you

Still our funny boy!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Xandaman update! Week 22: missionaries as movers

(Imagine listening to this as a old tape recording in the voice of me
as an old man):

Well let me tell ya, my young whipper snappers, about one of my weeks
on the mission. Let me pull out one of my old journals here and see
what we can find. Ah, yes, here we are. There was this one day I got
to meet Jeff King. He was a very interesting man, as experienced and
well learned as he was. He invited us over for lunch one day, just
because he felt like it. He served us 'brots' in German bread, which
is very tough bread to eat because it is so...tough. He also pulled
out a couple of other appetizers that he thought would please us, such
as chips and salsa, and oranges. Anyways, he was telling us about when
he was on his mission in Germany, he was a district leader, and some
sisters in his district spray painted the whole plan of salvation
right onto the Berlin Wall! How crazy is that? They even signed their
names on it! Phew, if I was their district leader, well they would
have......oh, well, never mind. He has been through a lot more than
that, however, but I should get on with the week. He also had been
writing several books that he was in the process of getting published.
They are very intriguing, I should say. Some good non-fiction for the
intellectual reader.

There was another day that we went to do some service at the local
thrift shop, and we found one of our investigators doing service as
well! His name was Noah. He was a kind of quiet guy, but he was a hard
worker. He actually took us to lunch at the truck stop restaurant
after we finished sorting the very cluttered basement. I remember
riding in his well used work truck full of construction materials and
a bucket seat to sit on up front. It was a fun ride, haha. We had
tried for a couple of weeks to get him to church, but something always
seems to come up, doesn't it?

Ah, speaking of fun rides, brother Richards was a pretty wild guy.
They were a fun young couple to talk to. I remember they always liked
us to teach from random scriptures from the Book of Mormon. They
called it 'book of Mormon roulette'. It worked out for a good lesson
actually. Like I said before, brother Richards is a crazy driver. As
he was taking us to our next appointment, he managed to drive in
reverse for about a block, and then e-brake drift into the driveway.
It was quite fun.

Oh yes, this is the transfer that we went without a car. Ever since
our original car was totaled because of damage caused by some other
missionary, we had to go without a car for the whole transfer. And
mind you our area wasn't small! I don't think there are very many
areas in our mission smaller than the town of Belgrade. We did plenty
of walking and bugging members for rides. My companion at the time was
getting a little beat from the cold, or at least his throat was. He
was coughing a lot and almost lost his voice. Luckily he got better
pretty quickly.

Hmm, let's see here (sound of page turns). You know, something we
learned pretty quickly about wards that are spread out is the records
for less actives can become very inaccurate over time. We visited a
lot of members houses that showed up on the records that haven't lived
there for years! Now, if everyone did their home teaching....well,
that wouldn't be a problem now would it? Why doesn't everyone
just.....ok ok sorry. (Sigh)

Something members are good at though is helping people move. We helped
about 3 people move their stuff that weekend. It was quite enjoyable
actually. Sister smith, who moved to Bozeman, was grateful for our
'youth', haha. If only I had that now.

I guess even young people have a hard time physically. I remember one
night we visited sister fife, who was having a problem with her leg,
it don't remember what but it kept her on crutches. Haha, oh yeah, I
was walking up to the door in the dark, and the ice must have had
something against me, because it threw me down pretty hard! My feet
scrambled, and before I knew it, my legs were over my head, and I
slammed to the concrete. I remember brother tanner, who kindly gave us
a ride, saw the whole thing. It was quite amusing....afterward.

Um...(sound of page flip) Something I discovered in Montana was that
people like their nice cars. We were at the Delphs teaching them and
flavia, who was an exchange student from Brazil, and after we had a
long chat, brother delph took us home in his new Denali. I don't
remember much, but it was a super nice car. I realized then how many
people in Montana, members especially, have super nice cars and more
often, trucks. I don't mind driving an old lemon myself, but I guess
that's just me.

Oh yes, we had a very good zone meeting that week as well. We talked
about how to become consecrated missionaries. Let me tell you, that is
something missionaries must do, is become consecrated. They must place
their fear and pride on the altar so they can become the most
effective servants of the Lord that they possibly can. That way, you
can actually change your nature, not just your behavior. That is the
key that sets apart normal missionaries from consecrated missionaries,
is that they strive to change their nature, and bring it closer to the
nature of Christ. I'm glad I learned that early on. So all you young
kids going on missions, strive to be consecrated missionaries and you
will see the Lord change you!

All right, how do you turn this off? Ok, there it is. (Tape player click sound)

May the spirit be with you

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Xandaman update! Week 21: change is good

A motorcyclist cut my hair, a bird landed on my head, and I'm covering
two wards with no car! What a blast.

My last couple days with elder Schneider and elder potter were good.
We got haircuts from this motorcyclist guy named Max. He's pretty
chill, is somewhat religious, and loves his little Sua Vecito shop. He
has his bikes scattered around in there with some Marylyn Monroe
posters. I thoroughly enjoyed that haircut! It was literally the best
head care I've ever had. He used a plain razor blade and smell good
aftershave to finish it off. I could do that more often :)

We had to clean out the Guptills basement Wednesday morning. They
aren't going to be housing missionaries anymore. They have a
bunch of family coming in this summer. Now me and elder McKell get our
own place! We have kind of a command center going on in our living
room that elders Pett and Christensen started. We have two giant
whiteboards and a big map up, so we can see our area and all the
priority people we're working with. We are definitely taking advantage
of it.

Serving in two wards now is pretty fun. We both have new people to
meet, we get our dinner calendar packed full, we get more ride
options, more streets to tract, and 6 hours of church! Fun fun.
Without a car, we have been walking a lot more. It actually feels
really good and helps me sleep better at night. We found a potential
on a street called 'sheep shank', and while we were talking to her, a
little bird decided to take a two second rest on my head. I kind of
jolted my head so it flew away. It was funny. At the end of the
street, this lady told us someone further up the street called and
told her the jehovah witnesses were coming. I thought that only
happened in Vermont :)

A couple of nights we had two dinners because we had people sign up
ahead of time from both wards. Both nights we were surely filled.
There is a truck stop restaurant that is actually pretty amazing. They
have tasty bacon and giant pancakes, and I mean giant! I could hardly
finish two of them. Another night we ate at the Barbers from the first
Ward. That is where a recent convert lives, Corey. He was baptized
last month and got married to one of the barber kids. After some
delicious T-bone steak, we taught him a great plan of salvation lesson
with the spirit. I'm glad we have compatible teaching styles. We also
had a cool lesson with Noah. Noah works in construction, likes
snowboarding and loves his kids. His cousin from Bozeman, max, came up
for the lesson. He's an awesome guy too. He has a nice Mexican accent
:) He really wants to go on a mission and admires what we do. We read
from the book of Mormon and bore strong testimony to Noah, and he
seems to be feeling the spirit influence his life as well. I hope he
comes to church next week.

As for Angela, her progress is on hold for the moment. The last
message we heard from her was she wasn't ready to join the Mormon
church yet. She hasn't been home when we go over there and she hasn't
responded to any messages. I really hope we can help resolve any
conflicts that have come up!

Something I learned at church last week was about our friendship with
God. We know he is always there for us, but are we always there for
him? Do we listen to his words, do what he knows will make us happy?
This idea put a new perspective on my relationship with God. I sure
want to be His friend, because I know he really wants to be my friend
as well.

Thank you all for everything! All the Christmas letters I got were a
joy to open. I love you all!

Elder Alex Wylie

May the spirit be with you

Monday, January 4, 2016

Xandaman update! Week 20

Pondering a from a long drive:
First, did you know most of the areas/zones in my mission are bigger
than some big city missions?
Second, much of Montana seems to be a Couple years behind in some
aspects like technology and development, even though we have iPads.
Third, it's pretty heart stopping when the mission president calls
your companion during sacrament meeting.

I knew there was going to be a lot of change this week. One of my
companions, elder potter (who got the call from president), is going
to be a district leader here in Bozeman. Elder Schneider is headed off
to Thermopolis Wyoming. As for me, I thought I was leaving too by the
way elder potter explained it, but no. I'm staying here in Belgrade.
The catch is I will be covering both Belgrade wards instead of just
the second Ward with elder Mckell. It's cool because I already know my
area and my companion pretty well (elder Mckell has been in the first
Ward). I'm super excited to meet some new members as well as expand my

We have had a great last week as a trio. We got to spend some time in
Three forks and Manhattan. They sure are fun little towns. When we
went there Wednesday, we dropped some stuff off at the apartment,
which is basically a one room shed/side house, and went to the little
food bank for some service. We got to take cans of food down to the
basement, which is actually and old nuclear fall-out shelter. It still
has the little 'fall-out shelter' sign in the stairwell. It felt like
I was in a creepy apocalyptic movie.

There are some cool members in the Three forks Ward. The rummelharts
are a fun, interesting family. Sister rummelhart loves to be kind of
the missionary mom for the area. She is very good at sewing and fixing
clothes. The Camerons also love the missionaries. We had fun with them
and the young kids and had a great lesson with them. The dad isn't a
member, but I hope someday he will. He has been taking lessons for a
long time. Then there is the blanchards. We walked in to their large
new house and they immediately had us set up a foosball tournament.
That was almost too fun probably.

Because of transfers, we had to help elder potter pack his stuff. He
had stuff in three forks, as well as Ennis, which is almost an hour
drive away. Montana has some beautiful landscape. With the snow on the
hills with some sage brush peeking through and dark trees up on top,
the hills looked like perfectly cooked marshmallows, haha.
Also last week, we got to help the iversons finish their basement. We
got to tile the bathroom and paint the ceiling for a few hours.
Somehow, service is super fun on the mission. More than it would be
at home :)

I don't know if you remember Angela, but here is a little background.
First of all, a couple of months ago, we met this guy on the street
that was really high on something. "Come talk to me!" We kind of
hesitated, but we couldn't not talk to him. He basically just talked
about how he had Jesus in his heart and could go kill everyone in this
valley. We got away from him as soon as we could. We had a deep
feeling that he really needed help. A few weeks later, since all our
lessons fell through for the night, elder Schneider made the right
decision for us to go out to the river rock neighborhood to work. Even
though it was pretty late, we found a miracle investigator. She just
happened to be out shoveling her porch as we walked by. She basically
said she wanted to read the Book of Mormon and follow Jesus Christ.
Later, we stopped by her house to see if she was home, and the crazy
guy answered! He is Angela's husband. It seemed like a miracle he
didn't recognize us. We came back another day and elder potter was
prompted to give her a blessing. She felt the spirit very strongly as
he gave it. She told us some of her current struggles through a few
tears. I felt sorry for her and Garrett. I'm so happy we have what she
needs and she is so willing to follow it. 

Our lesson with her on Saturday was amazing. I don't know if I'll have a better lesson ever!
We brought the spirit, bore testimony, taught with unity, resolved her
concerns, and put her on date for baptism! I got nervous as the lesson
got to its climax because I knew I was the one that would extend the
invitation. "Angela, will you commit to be baptized..." Then she cut
in and said, "oh, I've already been baptized." We paused for a moment,
told her about the priesthood behind it, and she said, "I would be
willing to be baptized again." I'm amazed at her openness and faith in
Jesus Christ.

I love my mission. We are out to find those who are ready. We aren't
just planting seeds anymore, we are in the harvesting season. I like
something that brother Iverson said from our Ward about training his
dog: "focus on obedience, then use their strengths". We are the Lord's
'retrievers'. If we are not obedient to our master, we are not going
to find those that are ready and prepared by him. We also need to use
the strengths and talents that we have, for that is what sets us apart
from everyone else and why we are called to where we are.
I love the gospel and the visible glow it brings into the lives of
Gods children.
Thank you for all your support and love!

Elder Wylie

May the spirit be with you