Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One last time...

Well everyone, looks like this is it! Unfortunately there just aren´t words to describe what I am feeling right now... and I myself am having a hard time believing it is real! As you can imagine I am overwhelmingly excited knowing that I will be seeing you all so soon! On the other hand I can´t help but feel an extreme sadness leaving behind the people here that I love so much! Needless to say it has been an amazing journey and I have loved every second of it!

Just one thought for today... Yesterday we had a special Stake Conference to reorganize the Stake Presidency here in Quilmes. We had the great priviledge of hearing from the Area President, Elder Arnold, as well as another visiting 70 Elder Alliaud. In a special session that we had for Investigators y new members before the actual conference began... Elder Arnold shared some thoughts that made me reflect a lot on my mission and the many experiences I have had during these 2 years. He based his thoughts in two parables found in Luke 15 in the New Testament... those of the lost sheep y the lost coin. He got very emotional as he talked about how we must care for and love those brothers and sisters who have wandered off in dangerous paths, because of their own choices (as the sheep), or because of the carelessness of others (as the coin). I have come to understand that it is impossible to do "too much" in trying to help those lost sheep find their way back to the fold, especially as I have come to understand and feel a portion of the love the Savior has for each one of his sheep.

I have also felt the incredible joy that comes as those lost sheep (or coins) are found y brought back to safety with much love y rejoicing. As he read the words of the parable, countless experiences flashed through my mind of the joy I felt as I saw people come to church for the first time, or after a long time of not going, the joy that I felt as people kept the commitments we left and saw the blessings that come from keeping the commandments of the Lord, seeing people put their faith in the Lord y recieving strength y guidance in difficult moments, and the joy that comes from seeing those people enter the waters of baptism and make that first eternally important covenant with our Heavenly Father y faithfully strive to live it in their daily lives. I have no doubt that the joy I felt in each case is a small reflection of the joy our Heavenly Father feels as he sees his children making those important decisions in their lives y recieving His blessings.

Short on time once again, so to wrap things up I just want to thank all of you one last time for all your support and prayers during these 2 years! I know that each one of you has been a great blessing y strength to me during my mission y that our Heavenly Father is aware of y answers your thoughts and prayers in behalf of his missionaries in all the world! I have no doubt that this is the Lords Marvelous Work y that he will continue to bless all his children throughout the world with the innumerable blessings of this restored gospel. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for the many blessings I have recieved y the many lessons I have learned in His service.

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

still alive

hey just a short message to let you all know i am still alive! sorry shift key is broken y on top of that really short on time so sorry for not writing much. it has been a good week... very cold! huge storm last monday night... knocked down several trees, power outages, etc. took some video but dont know how well it turned out, luckily we were in the pension when it hit! saturday we had a service project helping a less active member paint their house. forgot how much i love painting!!! success of this week... on sunday Florencia (the 17 yeard old member daughter of an inactive member we have been visiting for a couple weeks) came to church with her boyfriend y they both felt really good! we will be going tuesday to talk a little bit more with them, so more to come next week! this sunday we have a special stake conference as they are going to reorganize the stake presidency... which means having several 70 as special guests! fun fun! today we enjoyed a tasty asado despite the cold y watched a movie as a district. hard to believe this is my second to last email! (i MIGHT have time to write on august 15th after my final interview with pres stapley y before heading to the airport. amazing how the time flies. i love you all! have a great week!

les amo
elder ian wheelhouse

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

El fin se acerca [the end is drawing near]

Dear family and friends,

"The end is near", a title inspired by the hymn we sang in Elders quorum yesterday... a bit of a shocking realization! I enjoyed your emails today and the several letters I have recieved these last several weeks. A special shoutout to cousin Jared! Thanks so much for your letter buddy y hope all is going well and that you are enjoying your summer! Thanks to all of you for your prayers y support! Looking forward to seeing you all!

Forgot to wish you all a feliz "Dia del amigo" last week. Came by suprise to me as well as we were walking around to several of our citas and people would shout out "feliz dia". Good to know we have friends in the neighborhood! :)

It has been a pretty busy but good week here in El Cruce, although we have been without electricity in the pension for the last 4 DAYS!!! Not a big deal, at least we still have hot water, but we have suffered a bit with no light, no heater, y no microwave. The Refridgerator has undertaken a well needed DEFROST y I somehow was able to resist the urge to make a snow ball with the melting ice to throw at my companion. Hopefully they will have it all hooked back up this afternoon. Apparently there was a problem with a bill that never got paid... we have had some interesting issues with bills in this pension but we have everything figured out now!

Friday I had my LAST "normal" interview with Pres. Stapley which went really well. He shared several thoughts about "enduring to the end" y also shared some great insight on the story of the Brother of Jared about how the Lord sometimes requires us to get creative y do HARD things to overcome our challenges. Very inspired man! Also enjoyed talking a bit with Hermana Stapley who is always anxious to share her new favorite scriptures with us. (Funny one concering "long meetings" see Acts 20:7-12)

Saturday we had the baptism of Fabricio y Ezequiel which went GREAT! We had a lot of support from the ward (they actually planned the primary y young mens activities for the day so that they would finish just in time to all be there for the baptism) y luckily there werent any unexpected problems which seem to usually occur the day of the baptism! Actually... I did have a bit of an accident trying to be heroic by eliminating some spiders from the baptismal font that were floating in the water y ended up falling into the water... luckily only completely submerging ONE of my legs up to the knee, shoe y everything. Our ward mission leader was right there watching and had a good laugh. Luckily after laying out my stuff in front of one of the heaters in the church my things were MOSTLY dry by the end of the baptismal service. Fabrico asked me to baptize him, and Elder Martinez baptised Ezequiel. The water was a bit chilly due to filling up the font extra early y letting the water sit. The Confirmation also went great Sunday y Ezequiel is excited to receive the Aaronic Priesthood y start passing the sacrament. Both were very happy y expressed desires to serve missions in the future! :)

Anyways, that’s all for this week! Love you all!

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, July 18, 2011

4 Weeks!

Dear family y friends,

Hard to believe another week has flown by! I am feeling a lot better, although I still have a pretty bad cold y cough! The weather hasnt been helping much either. We have had several really nice days intermixed with several very cold rainy days like today. Right now we are here in the centro of Quilmes hoping to do some shopping. Bit of a rough start to the day waiting for a bus in the rain... y even worse is that several passed by without stopping! But, overall things are going pretty well!

Not a whole lot of news this week. Wednesday y Thursday we had another one of those Leadership Training meetings in Adrogue. Spent the 2 days with Elder Camey from my district who is training this transfer. We both suffered a bit with this nasty cold/flu going around. Not quite sure why I had to go since I will only be here a couple more weeks... but I enjoyed it anyways! It was a little different than usual, but it is always great just to hear from Pres. y Hermana Stapley! At the end of the trainings Hermana Stapley shared a movie with us about her parents y their story in Brasil. (Her father served a mission then returned several times with his wife as "senior" missionaries) Focused a lot in the love and appreciation they had for the people of Brasil. Of course it also made me think a lot of the love I have felt y recieved from the people here in Argentina! I feel like I will be leaving behind more loved ones than I will be coming home to! ("more" in quantity not necesarily quality!) I think as the time continues to go by I am realizing more and more how much I will miss this place and these people!

Saturday we were supposed to have a Ward Activity which only us y 3 sisters from the relief society showed up to. The activity was planned several weeks ago... but the Argentina - Uruguay game of Copa America just happened to fall that day. We ate some of the goodies the hermanas brought... some tasty orange rolls, homemade bread etc. then it was back to work! To end the night we did visit an inactive family who just happened to be watching the end of the soccer game. Poor Argentina! :(

Good day in church yesterday, although there were very few people. (I think probably like 75% of Argentina is sick with the flu right now!) On top of that "Winter Vacations" recently started, so surely there are at least several people who took advantage of having the kids out of school to take a trip! Maria came with her mom y 2 sons, who are very excited for their baptism this week! Oscar also showed up all on his own... gotta get that guy baptised! No sign of Noelia. When we saw her Thursday she was complaining a lot about a bad headache... so I assume she is probably sick with what I had! :S Her daughters LOVE church y are always asking when it will be sunday again! We also had several inactive families show up that we have been teaching for a while. One of them who has actually been going to church for the last 3 weeks (Gaston y Nadie) gave a talk in Sacrament meeting, and another one gave the closing prayer! I think everyone gets a little discouraged when they show up after not going for a while and seeing how FEW people there are in the church. I think there are around 700 members on our ward list... and there are only about 70-80 in church each week.

Anyways, thats it for this week! Love you all!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, July 11, 2011

enfermo otra vez [sick again]

Dear family y friends,

First off, Happy Birthday Dad y Rebecca! Forgot to tell you all last week, but sounds like it went well! Hope you all had a great 4th of July as well!

Kind of a rough week... at least the last part. I was sick in bed mostly for the whole weekend y thinking it might be Bronchitis. Not fun! Feeling a bit better today, no fever at least, but still have a nasty cough/cold. If things don´t get better soon I think I´ll be going to the doctor.

Saturday besides being Dads birthday was Independence day here in Argentina. I was at least able to get up y make it to the citas we had that morning including lunch. On our way back to the pension we stopped by a big celebration they were having and took some pics. That morning we had seen lots of "gauchos" pass by our pension with their horses y carts. All of them got together at the celebration y there was music, asado, etc. I wish I could send the pictures but the computer is not letting me upload them right now! Next week! Great Cultural experience...

Church went great yesterday. Noelia y her daughters came again!!! :) We had 2 great lessons with her this week and she had lots of great questions. She asked about baptism as well but she will need to get married first y her marido is always working so we never get to talk to him. Had a pretty POWERFUL experience answering some of her questions about the Plan of Salvation. She apparently lost a couple children (difficulties in pregnancy, etc.) y wanted to know why God would allow that to happen.

Ezequiel y Fabricio also came with their mom y step father Christian which was a huge surprise. He says he doesn´t believe in God, y didn´t want to participate at all, but he came along anyways y seemed to feel comfortable. Speaking of Ezequiel y Fabricio we moved their Baptism back another week because we still have a LOT to teach them. They are excited to be baptized but its hard to keep their attention to be able to teach them! :S

Anyways, thats all for this week!
les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, July 4, 2011

Traslado #16 (Transfer #16)

Dear family y friends,

Happy 4th of July!! I am thinking this letter will be rather short... not because I don´t have much to say, but because my hands are frozen and its hard to type!!! Very few places here where you can actually escape from the COLD! Today is transfer day... y no news is good news! Elder Martinez and I will be staying together for my last transfer! Overall GOOD week!

Tuesday we had a great district meeting with a suprise visit at the end from Pres. Stapley. He talked about how our attitude will have the greatest impact on the success we have as missionaries. As a zone we also set the goal to baptize 18 people in the month of July.... a number that has not been reached in a very long time in the zone. That evening we enjoyed a tasty dinner with the Familia Kiss. (asado al horno with lots of salads y Homemade cookies one of their daughters made for us :)!!!) We had a good time talking and they gave me some pictures they took with you on their trip to Utah.

Wednesday nothing big happened.... but that evening we visited a family that has been inactive for YEARS. First the hermana offered us a nice hot Cappuccino she had prepared y when her husband reminded her that we don´t drink coffee she immediately prepared us a cup of tea that we had to politely reject as well. :P We all had a good laugh...

Thursday we had a great lesson with Maria y her 2 sons Ezequiel (12) y Fabricio (11). Both really good kids y when we got to their house they were all reading the Book of Mormon / singing hymns together as a family. We talked a bit about baptism and invited them to be baptized. They are both very excited for their baptism on July 15th!

Friday was Fabricios birthday, so we bought a Pasta Frola y some drinks to take to celebrate his birthday. I also gave him the frisbee you sent me last year for Christmas when I was in the coast.... hope you don´t mind! Very COLD night! Their mom was sick y the family doesn´t have much money, so it was fun to be able to have atleast a bit of a birthday party with them! After eating the "cake" we taught a little lesson trying to speak about the shouting, drumming, y singing of the Evangelist church next door. Probably one of the most INTERESTING lessons I have ever been in. (They have actually had lots of serious problems with their neighbors... not just the noise. Apparently Marias boyfriend Cristian, who says he is athiest, got so mad one night (most likely in addition to being drunk) that he went and set their church on fire.... I´m sure we will be having a lesson about Love y Patience with him shortly.

Sunday was our biggest success... blessings of fasting! We arrived a little later than usual 930 (we missed the earlier bus we usually take) and were suprised to find one of our investigators, Noelia, already there with her 3 children (Florencia 6, Adriana 5, y Rodrigo 1) talking with some of the members! Apparently she has lots of family who are members of the church, which made for a great conversation starter! Maria also came with her mom who hasn´t been to church in a very long time, as well as Ezequiel y Fabricio. It was also a miracle that a young inactive couple we have been working with (Gaston y Nadia) also came to church y stayed for all the meetings! It has been a looong time, y before they would come y argue with all the members. Gaston once told me he would NEVER go back to church in this ward. I was very happy to see them there y just another testimony of how the Lord can change peoples hearts!

Well that is all for this week! I love you all! Hope you have a great Independence Day!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, June 27, 2011

Clock keeps ticking . . .

Dear family y friends,

It has been an interesting week with lots of ups and downs. I am getting used to being cold all the time y even though its not THAT cold (35-40 degrees) the cold, humid wind sure chills the bones!

Started off the week GREAT! On Tuesday I did an intercambio with Elder Chavez from Texas, who has been in the mission about 5 weeks. Everything went FANTASTIC which is exactly what I was hoping y praying for because apparently he has been having a hard time. All the people we planned to visit were home y all the lessons we went were PERFECT. We get along really well so we had a lot more unity teaching which makes a HUGE difference... even with the little spanish he can speak. We had a GREAT lesson with the Familia Mercado that we found last week talking about The Restoration. We did a contact y were able to teach an awesome kid named Jonathan y talked about the Book of Mormon y Prayer. We had a delicious dinner y great chat with a VERY INACTIVE family in our ward y had a great discussion about the Atonement which was very powerful! Honestly it was probably one of the best days of my whole mission. That night we were up a bit late talking, then the following morning we had to switch back with our companions EARLY because President Stapley y one of the assistants also wanted to do intercambios with them that day.

Unfortunately from that point on things started to go down hill for the rest of the week. Wednesday, Pablo cancelled our appointment that I was super excited about that we were planning to invite him to be baptised. Thursday I got news from the Zone Leaders that after talking with President Stapley, Elder Chavez would be going home on Monday. Saturday all of our plans cancelled on us... and the Familia Mercado that I was super excited about teaching basically told us that they didn´t want to talk with us anymore out of nowhere. It is very frustrating when things aren´t going the way you want them too... and luckily my companion and I are able to keep our heads up and keep working with the hope that there are people that the Lord has prepared for us to teach out there SOMEWHERE!

Apart from all that, we did have some success with one of the people we are visiting. I think a couple weeks ago I told you about an Hermana María who came back to church after many years after she started reading the Book of Mormon again. We had also talked a little bit a couple weeks ago with her boyfriend who she is living with named Cristian, who said he doesn´t believe in ANYTHING. I don´t know if its a good or bad thing but apparently he had a pretty frightenin/life changing experience this last week with a vision/dream of the devil or something and now he is scared and wants to learn more about God. On top of that we talked a bit with Marías 2 kids that are living with her now who both want to be baptized! Hope to see some progress with the whole family in these next couple weeks!

Anyways, thats all for this week. Hope you all have a great week!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse