¡Semana ocho!

What a week! We heard from a member of the Seventy of Tuesday, and he gave an awesome talk about how faith brings miracles. He challenged us all to develop the faith that can bring miracles in our own lives. He also promised us that as we live faithfully and work hard, we will see miracles during our mission and after. The one thing I thought was cool about what he said, was that a miracle doesn´t always have to be a huge parting of the red sea event. We have miracles happen everyday! We just have to look for God´s hand in our life and we will see all the miracles he has performed for us during that day! It was Elder Bednar that would look back at each day and look for God´s hand in his life. He said that as we do that, we allow God to have a bigger part in our life, because we are willing to recognize all that he does for us.
Some other stuff that happened this week! We were able to host new missionaries again on Wednesday! And while we were waiting  on the curb, a car drove past and gave us a hamburger from Wendy´s. ¡¡DELICIOSO!! it might have been the highlight of that day! Also, we have been teaching an investigator named Patricio alot more. He is progressing slowly but surely.His biggest problem is developing faith. But, he has been praying and reading scriptures more, which are two of the best ways to develop faith about this Church. As a companionship, we have been working on asking better questions. The best way to teach someone something is to have them find the answer for themselves. That is where good questions come into play! The trick is thinking of a good soul searching question, translating it into spanish, and then asking it before the moment is gone. But we are getting there!
The MTC presidency was reorginized this past week. The new president is President Nally, with President Roach and President Hacking as counselors. They are awesome! President Nally was actually a counselor last year, but was released to prepare for the call to be president. It got me thinking how prepared each one of us is to serve the Lord. If the call came that we would be leaving in two months, would we be ready? Would we be willing to leave everything to go? I know it would be a trial of faith, but I know it would be possible. There was an Elder in my district (who is serving in Phoenix now actually!) who got his mission call 5 days before he reported!! He had put his life in order before hand and was ready to come to the MTC after just 5 days. He is an amazing Elder who teaches powerfully by the Spirit.
There really wasn´t a whole lot else that happened this week! Just working hard and learning tons to be as ready as possible to leave for Chile in 10 days! The time at the MTC has flown by! And I´m scared the rest of my mission will do the same. But I know that working one day at a time, as hard as possible, will be the best way to spend the next two years. And having a good laugh here and there when appropriate! Well, I hope all is going well in each of your lives, and I would love to hear from you all! A missionary can never have too much mail! I´ll send my mission address and some pictures in an email later today!
les amo mucho!
Elder Willis

Preach My Gospel by My Spirit


This week has been amazing!! On Tuesday, we had a devotional and ELDER HOLLAND CAME!! It was easily one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had and totally redefined how I am doing my missionary work. He talked alot about how the Lord is hastening His work, and it is super exciting that we are all a part of it. One thing I thought was really cool about what he said, is about the missionary efforts of past dispensations. Like in the Book of Mormon, or the New Testament. The prophets and teachers at that time knew that a apostasy was going to happen, and that the people were going to fall away into sin. But they still worked hard, and found hope in the fact that WE would succeed in this dispensation. Elder Holland talked about how every scripture is written as a guide book for us by earlier missionaries, teaching how to grow and learn to be better missionaries by their mistakes -Mormon 9:31. He told us that the original name for Preach My Gospel was Preach My Gospel By My Spirit as it is stated in D&C 50:14. It is absolutely vital that we teach with His spirit. As Elder Holland put it “We must teach His Gospel in His way”. The Spirit is who does the real testifying and converting in any lesson. If He isn’t a part of our lessons, we aren’t doing it God’s way. He taught us alot of other way cool stuff, but that’s pretty much the gist of it!

Well, you know how I was super excited to teach Daniel again? He has been sick all week. But, last night we taught our other investigator Patricio and it was amazing! We went in focusing on his concerns and doubts, which was how he could grow his faith in Christ. We taught him from James 2:17-18 about how faith is a principle of action, and we have to exercise faith in order to grow it. Then we went to Alma 32 and talked about how we have to experiment and give place in our hearts for our faith to grow. As we bore testimony about faith and how we have seen it grow in our own lives, I could feel the spirit strongly. This is a doubt that many people have, because just like Patricio did, we often compare our faith to others. We don’t receive a huge testimony about the Book of Mormon after the first time we read 1st Nephi 1. Our testimony is grown line upon line and precept upon precept. Just like a brick layer might feel like his work isn’t going anywhere as he lays one brick at a time, it isn’t until he steps back and sees the huge wall he has built that he sees how far he has come. We have to be patient with ourselves and try our best to do better and continue increasing our faith by acting and trying.

Another thing that has really stuck out to me the past week is the power of the Atonement. We had the Argentina MTC director come and speak to us (all in Spanish by the way!!) on Wednesday, about the power of the Atonement to overcome the Fall. I’ve understood that the Atonement helps us overcome our bad habits and repent, but I’ve never realized that it is the Atonement that gives us the strength to continue along the pathway and improve. President David O. Mckay said “The purpose of the Gospel is…. to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature.” The Atonement of Christ not only has the power to help us repent, but also to improve ourselves when there aren’t any major sins or transgressions holding us back. Elder Bednar said that the word grace is equivalent to ‘the enabling power of the atonement’. When we read 2 Nephi 25:23 “We know that it is by grave that we are saved, after all we can do” with that in mind, it gives us greater insight about what the Atonement can do for us.

I know that I can’t explain myself well with words, and I’m even worse in Spanish, but hopefully I got across a little of what I’ve learned this week. It has by far been my favorite week here at the MTC. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. I know that Christ lives, and His Atonement and Love are for everybody. Becuase of the Fall of Adam, everybody became subject fo physcial and spiritual death. But through the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can be redeemed from Spiritual death and be resurrected. I love this Gospel and everything that is has done for me. It is such an amazing blessing in my life.

I hope all is well!

Elder Willis

Another Week at the MTC!


This has been another awesome week here at the MTC! Sister Mariah Hatch and Elder Ryan Tuckett showed up on Wednesday and my super talented companion sang at their welcome fireside so I was able to see them and say hi! Its funny to see the nervous and scared looks on the new missionaries faces, because I know we must have looked the same way when we got here. Good thing adapting to the MTC goes super fast! By the 3rd day everyone is laughing and loving it!

We got new teachers this week, because of the new semester at BYU and all the teachers getting their schedules changed. Our new teacher is Hermano Thompson and he is absolutely amazing!! I know that he truly does care about us and loves us so much. We had a discussion yesterday about what we are willing to give up in order to come closer to Christ. He likened it to Alma chapter 20 and 22 about what King Lamoni’s father was willing to give up. It started out at half of his kingdom for his life, then his whole kingdom to receive the great joy that the gospel brings, and finally he was willing to give up all of his sins to know Christ. I love how applicable this is to our own lives! How much are we willing to give up to follow Christ? He had us think about how as missionaries, we have given up music and movies, but have we given up talking about movies or singing those same songs? Not that quoting a movie or singing a song is bad, but are we holding on to the world too much instead of following Christ with all of our strength. Just some cool food for though!

Hermano Thompson is also my favorite investigator. When we teach him, he doesn’t just accept everything we throw at him in our broken Spanish. He makes us fill in the blanks and explain things that we take for granted as members. For example, when we started to teach him about prayer, he asked us why we fold our arms, bow our heads, and close our eyes. Elder Roberts and I had forgotten to explain why we do that while we pray. It helps me to slow down and explain the gospel step by step instead of doctrine by doctrine. It also helps me to think and learn how to explain in Spanish other things that aren’t necessarily straight from Preach My Gospel. We teach him again tomorrow, and I’m super stoked to see what other questions he has!

During my study time today, I wanted to focus on how to explain the role of the Spirit in our lives. I looked in Mosiah chapter 24 at the story of Alma and Amulon. Then I compared it to the story of Daniel in the Old Testament. I found a pattern that happens as we turn to Christ and put our trust in Him to help us through trials. The first thing they did was pray with faith for help in their trials. God then sent them help in their afflictions. I thought this was interesting, because we aren’t always delivered from our trials the second after we kneel down to pray. For Daniel, God didn’t make it so that he didn’t have to go into the lion’s den. He still had to have faith to lower himself in to Lion’s den trusting that God would provide. Alma and his people still had hard tasks and taskmasters set over them. But, through their faith and prayers, God came and ‘did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord’ (Mosiah 24:15). As they continued trusting and praying, God eventually delivered them from their trials. Daniel was brought out of the Lion’s den unharmed, and the people of Alma were brought into the Land of Zarahemla. From their extreme faith, the Church of Christ was able to grow in both lands. In Zarahemla, Mosiah authorizes Alma to organize the Church, and in Daniel’s case, Darius sent a decree that all should worship the True and Living God of Daniel.

This pattern of support came to help me alot right after my Grandma died in November. After the funeral, I was really sad. I prayed for support, and God came to give me support through a friend. She invited me to read the talk ‘None Were With Him’ by Elder Holland. As I turned to Christ, he comforted me and delivered me from me trials. I felt peace in the fact that I would see my grandmother again as long as I am faithful. My grandpa, who was also going through great pain, came into the room where I was listening to the talk. He bore his testimony to me of the Savior, and I could feel the power of the Atonement through his words. I know that Christ lives, and if we pray to him with faith, he will deliver us from our trials.


Elder Willis

Un mes pasado, un mes mas

Well, I’m halfway done at the MTC, but past week has been interesting! Monday they came out and told us that we were not allowed to give hugs or handshakes anymore because of the flu season. Well guess who got sick that night!? I was stuck in bed all day Tuesday and lost 4 pounds! But thanks to medicine and an amazing blessing from my companion, I’m feeling better than ever! Just about everyone else in the district has gotten sick too, but I definatey got the worst of it. The funny thing, is that Sunday night a counselor in the branch presidency came by and was talking to us about how you have to be sick sometimes so that you can understand how others feel when they are feeling sick. Well, now I know!
It has been an awesome week for Spanish as well! As a zone, we decided to set aside Thursday for spanish only. It is amazing how much the Spirit is able to fill in the blanks when you do your best and rely on Him. I’ve definatley seen the gift of Tongues start to work more and more on me. Two cool things that I saw in spanish this past week! The verb ‘esperar’ means to wait and to hope for. It made me think about how when we have hope for a blessing or anything else, we also have to be patient and wait for that blessing to come. In the scriptures, faith and patience are often found right next to each other. Another thing I thought was interesting was that in spanish there are two verbs that mean ‘to be’. One refers to more permanent traits like personality, color,  or occupation. The other refers to traits or conditions that change often like location or mood. Anywaayyy, in order to say that someone is dead or alive, you use the second verb which typically refers to conditons that change. It was interesting to me, because we aren’t dead forever! We will all be resurrected again and have perfected bodies. It was just cool to see that the Spanish language undertands gospel doctrine better than the people who speak it. jk
Elder Roberts and I have been teaching our investigator Leonardo more, and he told us that he knows it is true, but is afraid of what his family would think if he joins. For our last lesson, we read from 1st Nephi 8 about the tree of life, and especially about all those who listened to the scorn and mockings of the people from the great and spacious building fall away. We invited him to pray for strength and to ask God if this was the right thing for him to do even though his family might not like it. We teach him again tonight, and I’m so excited to see what answer he got and to talk with him some more. I have definatley seen the importance of establishing of good relationship with investigators early on. It makes all the difference. When you start talking more about gospel topics, it gets very personal. If the investigator doesn’t trust us, they won’t open up and tell us what is on their minds and we won’t be able to help them. We took one lesson very chill and just sat and talked with Leonardo to see how he was doing and what we could do to help him. We brought him some Latin soda called Sangria, and just read a chapter from the Book of Mormon and talked about it and how it could help him in his life. I can’t wait to do this for real with people in Chile!
I have also seen the importance of members in missionary work. Relationships are key. But a friend of a friend is alot better than a random person who knocks on your door asking to talk to you. That’s where the members come in!  Members already have relationships with their neighbors that missionaries don’t have, and don’t really have the time to create. It is the members’ job to invite their friends to hear the message the missionaries have to share. Even if they don’t accept it, they aren’t going to hate you for inviting them to hear about something that means alot in your life. As missionaries, and members, our job is to invite people to come to Christ, not to be baptized. So I would just invite you all to prayerfully search for people you know that may be ready to hear the message the missionaries have to offer. Keep the Elders busy!
I hope you are all doing well, and I hope to hear from you soon! The Church is true, and Christ truly is our Savior and Redeemer. His Sacrifice have enabled all of us to return to God again. Without it we would all be lost. For that I am forever greatful.
Les amo!
Elder Willis

La Semana despues de la Navidad!

This past week has been amazing! Christmas at the MTC is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Yeah we had presents and a nativity, but the rest of the day was totally, 100% focused on Christ and His Atonement. I loved being able to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and everything that Christ has done for us. We had the opportunity to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson on Christmas day. It was amazing to see an apostle that close and in person. When he first walked in it didn’t feel real. It looked like his picture had come to life and he was walking on to the stand. He spoke to us about our missions and how we can be safe from all danger if we are obedient. He also talked about how we shouldn´t believe rumors, but we should stop them anytime we can. It reminded me of the mormonad about gossip with everybody passing a chunk of tar. We can pass it on, but we won´t be any cleaner by doing it and we will only be dirtying another person by passing it on. Elder Nelson´s wife talked alot about the difference between a gift and a gift card. A gift card is a pre-paid gift that we have to go pick out and take home. It made me think about how the Atonement is like a gift-card. It is something that has been given to everyone, we just have to use it to recieve the true gift which is forgiveness of our sins. She also talked about how many of us forget we have gift-cards or lose them. It made me think about how we as children of God all have this gift, but sometimes forget we have it or don’t know how to use it. It is our job as members to use it often, and teach others how to use it and to gain that gift that Christ wants us to have.  I’m so excited to be able to share that joy that comes through repentance with people who have never experienced it before.
Christmas eve we were able to watch ‘A Christmas Carol’. I loved being able to see how much a man can change, and how much joy it can bring. I don’t think I would have noticed it if I hadn’t been in the MTC, but the whole time I was thinking that all Scrooge really needs is the Gospel. It answers every question a person could have and brings true joy to their life. I love the MTC, but I want to get into the field start teaching real people and sharing the amazing message we have with them!
So in other news, it has been snowing like non-stop for the past 2 days. There is over a foot of snow just sitting on the ground. At first I really didn’t like the snow because it was freezing and wet, but the more it snows the more I enjoy the beauty of everything being white. It reminds me of the scripture in Isaiah about the power of the Atonement being able to make our sins be ‘as white as snow’. Not only is the snow here perfectly white, but it covers EVERYTHING. Similarly, the Atonement is able to cover every sin that we commit.
As I was studying this morning in Moroni 7, I realized something that I had never really noticed before. That is the relationship between Faith, Hope, and Charity. I still don’t fully understand it, but I tried focusing on it and this is what I’ve gotten so far. Faith is believing in Christ and all that He has done for us. Hope is trusting and expecting that everything He has promised will come to pass. The relationship between Charity and Hope is what I’m a little iffy on, but I think it is how we act to others becasue of what we believe in and hope for. In the spanish Book of Mormon, the phrase ‘charity never faileth’ is translated to ‘nunca deja de ser’ which means literally ‘never ceases to be’. I thought that was a cool difference between the English and Spanish versions that brings a little more clarity and insight.
Well, we work on inviting people to come unto Christ as missionaries. That is our purpose. So I would like to invite you all to invite others to come unto Christ, because aren’t we all missionaries? Pray about people you know who may be ready to hear the message of the restoration. You might be surprised or unsure, but I know that if the Spirit tells you to do something, it is because God has prepared a way for it to happen.
Con amor!
Elder Zachary Willis

Second Week at the CCM


This past week at the MTC has been awesome!! I feel like my last email was super scattered, so this week I wrote up a plan of what I want to talk about!

On Tuesday one of my companions left for Chile! He is going to the same mission that I am going to, but is amazing at spanish so they had to get him away from us before we corrupted his grammar. Now it is just Elder Roberts and I! He is such an awesome Elder, and I have so much to learn from him.

On Sunday we had a member of the Seventy come and speak to us. His name was Elder C. Scott Grow and it was an amazing talk! He spoke about the pre-requisites to receiving revelation. It was awesome! He talked about how our Agency is the only gift from God that He cannot take back from us. Instead, we must choose to give that back to Him by aligning our will to His. It made me think a lot about how I need to change some of the things that I do and give my agency back to Him.

Our branch president here is absolutely amazing! There is a rumor going around that he is one of the three Nephites, and I actually believe it! Jk, but he is awesome! He gave us a special devotional about how to recognize the Spirit and not everyone receives the ‘burning in the bosom’. The way he put it was that ‘not everybody is born with heaters’. Some of the ways we can tell if we have the Spirit is if we are cheerful. I thought that was interesting, because there are a lot of times that I don’t feel like I have the Spirit, but in reality I do.

One thing I have really learned here is the importance of writing things down. If you receive a prompting to do something, write it down or you might forget. And after you’ve written it down, re-read it and you are entitled to additional revelation. We have these super handy day planners that help me a ton with that. The more I use it, the more I feel the Spirit working through me!

We are teaching 3 ‘investigators’ right now. They are really just our teachers acting like people they taught on their missions, but I’ve learned so much from them! Yesterday, we taught Leonardo. My companion and I had a prayer before we went into the room, and because of that I could feel the spirit helping me say what I wanted to say. It wasn’t perfect. Or anywhere close to it. But, there were a few times when I was speaking, that the conjugation for a verb would just pop into my head instead of having to think about it forever. The gift of tongues is real, but it is something that we have to work at just like every gift of the Spirit.

So we have some really funny Elders in our district! One is from Texas and has a deep Texas drawl when he speaks. The other is from American Fork and just says the funniest things! The two of them are comps and keep our stress levels from building up too much! But this past week I asked the Texan if they consider themselves incorporated into the US. His reply in his deep Texan accent was, ‘depends what you idiots are doin’!’ The Elder from American fork always jokes about going in to lessons and asking the investigators ‘ud tiene ropas blancas!?’ which means ‘do you have any white clothes?!’. They are two of my favorite Elders!

Well now for a bit of a Spiritual thought. This Christmas season we really should remember the true reason we give gifts. It is in similitude of Christ giving us the best gift we could ever receive! I saw some symbolism while I was sitting in our classroom earlier this week. The water during baptism symbolizes death and the grave, but when Christ walked on the water to the apostles, I thought of how he literally overcame and rose above the grave! Never forget what an amazing gift the Atonement and Gospel of Jesus Christ is in our life. I would invite you each to think of someone you could invite to hear the missionary discussions. Even during the fake lessons we teach to our teachers, I can see what happiness and peace the Gospel brings into lives of those who don’t know. We often take it for granted. Study Preach My Gospel. You never know when you might need to teach the Lesson of the Restoration to a friend, of how to explain all of the Plan of Salvation. Nowhere in Preach My Gospel does it say ‘Missionaries Only, Members back off’. It is our best resource for learning how to share the gospel, and you are the missionaries best resource for finding people to hear the Gospel. Keep the Elders in Mesa busy! Don’t let them knock a single door! jk, but really pray for people you know who might be ready to hear the Gospel. It may surprise you who is actually ready and willing to hear. But our job as members is not to baptize, it is to invite all to come to Christ- Preach My Gospel page 1!
Well I love you all! Keep up the great work, and raise your personal bar every day!
I cant really remember what pictures I put up, but one or two are of my companions and I, one I think is my comps and my first ZL’s, and the other is of my parents and I right before we drove across the street to the CCM!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Willis!