Monday, December 28, 2009

First Christmas in Argentina

Hello family and friends!

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and will be having a fantastic New Years this week! Christmas down here was unlike anything i´ve ever experienced... and not just because it is HOT and humid! We had a great dinner Christmas Eve with our neighbors who live in the house behind us (we had to be "in the pension" at 6:30) and watched Joy to the World and sang some Christmas hymns. After that it was straight to bed at 10:30... I slept really great until midnight when it sounded like we were being bombed! At first when I woke up I thought it was just a really big Thunderstorm. The fireworks here are super loud, and not even that exciting to look at, and EVERYONE was outside doing them. Apparently New Years is going to be worse. We watched them for a couple minutes and then went back to bed and did our best to try and sleep.

My first Christmas in the mission will probably be a day I will always remember, and luckily it will always be a GOOD memory! We had our interviews with President Asay in Banfield (have to take a bus and a train to get there) that morning which went really well, he is an amazing man! After we finished up with interviews and district meeting we went to the mission home a block away from the chapel and had a Christmas FEAST with President Asay and his wife as well as his sons family who is visiting for the holidays! I´m not going to lie one of my favorite things about being in the mission home is being able to walk around in socks ON CARPET! The food of course was fantastic, everything a Christmas feast should be. We had ham, potatoes, different salads, desserts... and most importantly cheesecake and pumpkin pie! We concluded our little celebration having each of the districts share a brief message about Jesus Christ to celebrate the reason for the season as well as singing some Christmas hymns. We also had a quick white elephant gift exchange which was very entertaining with a group of 20 missionaries. I was very grateful that Pres. Asay let us into their home to share that special day with him and his family. There is nothing like Christmas at home, but then again there is nothing like Christmas in the mission either! When we finished up in Banfield it was time to be back in the pension and we got to call our families! It was so good getting to talk to all of you and hearing your voices! I´m already looking forward to getting to call again for Mothers Day!

The past couple days we´ve been working really hard to catch up on the work we missed out on during the holidays. We have some great investigators and we are going to have a couple more baptisms this Saturday! Jorge received the Aaronic Priesthood this last week and hopefully will be blessing the sacrament next week! It has been amazing to see how the gospel has changed and blessed his life. This week we watched The Testaments with him and his family, and the wife seems a lot more receptive now! The only challenge now is to get them to church! This Sunday I also gave my first talk in the mission! Luckily it was a very easy first talk... 3-5 minutes about missionary work! I wasn´t nervous at all and it went really well! The Branch Pres. wife complimented me on my spanish afterwards as well, so that made me feel pretty good too! Hopefully we will have some more luck getting people to help us with the missionary work here in the Branch as we still don´t have any ward missionaries!

That´s all for today! I hope you all have a fantastic week and a Happy New Years! This is the last week of my second transfer so there could be some news about some changes next week!

¡Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Feliz...Merry Christmas!

Hello Family and Friends!

Merry Christmas Eve! Here in Argentina I guess the biggest fiestas are today to celebrate the "Noche Buena". I don’t know how many people will be out celebrating tonight unless the rain clears up because it has been raining most of the night and all morning. Anyways, as if there wasn’t enough to talk about for a single week like usual, today I get to try to tell you about what has happened since the last time I got to write a week and a half ago!

I received the packages from home and from Kristine this last week, and I just want to say THANK YOU for keeping them small! The envelopes were perfect sized and I didn’t have to pay ANYTHING! My companion and some other missionaries have already spent 400-500 pesos to receive their packages (100+ dollars) which is ridiculous! Thank you so much for everything and I am very excited to unwrap some presents tomorrow by our little Christmas trees! :) We had another baptism this week for Alejandra! She asked me if I would do it and of course I said yes! We had the service on Saturday, which unfortunately was a rainy day so we didn’t have too many people show up from the branch. The service went great and it was a very cool experience to do a baptism in Spanish! (The water was even nice and hot, but not as deep as I was expecting!) She has a strong testimony and has made some good friends in the church. We had a big fiesta with our branch and one of the other wards in our stake that she came to which was a great chance to get to know the members. It helped even more that the party didn’t really even start until 9:00 which was when we had to leave so she was forced to make some friends. :) We would love to have her 4 kids and her mom come to church as well, but she says it would be too difficult even with our help. We’ll see what happens with that...

Sunday, like most of the rest of the world, we had our Christmas themed sacrament meeting. We share our church building with another ward and their sacrament meeting starts at 9:30. We arrived to church a little late (9:15 or so) and when we got there the other ward asked if I would play the piano for their big Christmas program! I said I would... and I did, and it actually didn’t turn out so bad. I hadn’t ever played any of the songs with people singing before, but somehow I was able to make it through without too many problems. I love the Christmas hymns and I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to share them with this other ward. In our Sacrament meeting we had Alejandra’s confirmation which went really well! Our ward mission leader did the confirmation, and it’s always amazing hearing the things that are said in blessings that are exactly what that person needs to hear even though they barely even know them.

For Christmas we also got to get together as a Zone and do a service project. For our project, the hermanas arranged for us to go play with the kids at an Orphanage in their area. It was a little sad but we had a great time playing with the kids! We also had several bags of toys that were donated by members, and it was awesome handing those out as well! We had a couple Elders who took guitars and played and sang primary songs, people were playing ball, swinging on the swings, reading, drawing, and I was the "caballito" for a little kid named Seba who rode around on my shoulders for about an hour and a half. The kids had a lot of problems, but we all had a lot of fun and it was very sad leaving! The workers were very grateful, we were very grateful as well for the great opportunity, and it really is amazing what they do for these kids every day.

That’s all I have time for today, but I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and I am very excited to call home tomorrow! (I will call tonight to let you know what time I will be calling tomorrow).

¡Les Quiero Mucho!

Elder Wheelhouse

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baptism in Fiorito!

Mon, 14 Dec 2009

Hello family and friends!

It was great hearing from so many of you this week and I wish I had more time to email you all back! Sounds like some exciting things happened this week, and I have learned it is so much better to be busy than to have to try to find things to do. I am doing really well but very sick of being sick! I´m trying to accept that maybe that´s just part of being a missionary and trying hard not to complain too much. :P Just a heads up, I will not have another P-day until next Thursday (Dec. 24) so you probably won´t hear from me until then. But here is a little bit about my week.

First off, we had our first baptism this week! Jorge Rodriguez (44) was baptized and it was great to have his whole family there for the service! He is setting a great example for his family and hopefully they will follow it soon! The service went really well and we had great support from the members in our Branch. Elder Spence did the baptism, I was a witness and played the piano, and the Branch did everything else. What a great experience to see him take this essential step in his life and make this covenant with our Heavenly Father. The confirmation took place in church the next day, which unfortunately his family didn´t come to, and he met with our Branch President after to have a priesthood interview. He is very excited and already feels very accepted in the Branch.

Coming up this Saturday we have another Baptism. Alejandra (26), the aunt of the baby that died, is very excited to be baptized and has progressed really fast. She has 4 kids and lives with her mom, so it would be great if all of them could come to her baptism! More about this next week.

This week I went on my first intercambio with a Latin companion. It was a great way to evaluate my spanish and it actually went really well! I still have a lot to learn, but we were able to talk all day and he said he could understand everything I was saying (he does have some practice listening to other Elders try to speak his language though). I have learned a lot from Elder Spence and from studying the language as well, but there is nothing better than talking to people that already speak the language perfectly.

Sorry it´s so short this week, we are headed back to the pension to rest for a little bit before we go back out for work. Also, lucky me, I get to wake up at 430am tomorrow morning to go to Capital with the rest of the Elders that came down here with me to fill out some more Documents! I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Les Quiero Mucho
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hello again from Argentina! (7 DEC 09)

¡Querida familia y queridos amigos!

Good news, myldsmail account is up and running again and I recieved your emails from last week. Good to know all is well and it´s always great to hear from you. We have yet to enjoy an entire week without a rain storm, maybe that´s just how it is here, but today is a beautiful day. We have developed a new system for rating how nice the weather is by how many Testigos de Jehova are out in the streets. The higher the number, the nicer the day. Rainy days = 0. Along with the weather Elder Spence and I have been a little sick which isn´t any fun, but the work goes on despite the weather and I´m learning how to be better about not complaining.

This past week we had our Zone conference. It´s always fun to see the other missionaries from our area and I got to talk with Elder Hinton and some other friends from the MTC for a bit. There is so much to learn and we have some great leaders. One of the senor missionaries had a son who was visiting and he shared his testimony (in Spanish) with us which was pretty cool. Also it is always great to hear from Pres. Asay and his wife and I have no doubt he is called of God to direct this work here in Argentina Buenos Aires South! Also, we found out that because Pres. y Sis. Asay live in our Zone in Banfield, our zone gets to have our interviews for the transfer on Christmas day and eat Christmas dinner in the mission home! Nothing like being at home... but I suppose it would probably be the next best thing! :)

This week there was a very sad accident that happened in our area. There is an area with housing of 2 storie, very narrow, brick houses that are all smashed together, kind of like what you might call a condo? Anyways, apparently a 3 year old was playing with a lighter and started something on fire and it burned through 4 or 5 houses (luckily didn´t hit the shared gas line that runs through all the houses). Everyone made it out safely except for the baby brother of the kid that started the fire who was upstairs sleeping. Very sad. We later found out that the baby that died was the nephew of one of our investigators (Alejandra) whom we recently started teaching the plan of salvation. What a blessing to be able to teach her the second part of that lesson, that life is more than just this very brief existance on the earth. It was amazing to see her outlook change on the whole event, that even though she was still very sad, she felt a great comfort and peace in the knowledge that families can be together for ever, and that her and her family will see that baby again. In Testimony meeting this Sunday this event was brought up because several members live close to where it happened. Alejandra showed up for the last 15 minutes or so of Sacrament meeting (we passed by her house in the morning but she had been up all night with the mother of the baby and was sleeping when we got there) and Elder Spence shared a very powerful testimony of the plan of Salvation, couldn´t have been more perfect. After the meeting she told us that she really wanted to bring her sister and her whole family because she recognizes the comfort the gospel can bring.

It doesn´t even feel like Christmas is close, but even the stores in Argentina go all out with decorations and stuff for Christmas and I have even seen a couple houses with Christmas Lights. Apparently Christmas is also a pretty dangerous time of year, and we have some special rules to help us stay safe! The last couple weeks I have been playing the piano in sacrament meeting and have had some time to practice. It´s been fun playing some of the Christmas hymns, but wow, nothing makes you miss home more than thinking about Christmas. At the same time this made me realize the great opportunity I have to refocus myself on the true meaning of Christmas. Last night the mission put on a Christmas program called "noche de luz" that they have done the last several years with singing and a story/movie all put on by the missionaries. It was fantastic and was a perfect way to remember and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas through honoring the life of Jesus Christ. There were lots of members and investigators there and it was awesome how they tied in the message of the Restoration as well. There was a great spirit there and I know everyone there had to have felt the same. I would challenge you all to do something a little extra this year to remember the life of our Savior at this time of year and to follow the example he has set for us.

Anyways, that´s all for this week! Have a fantastic week and be careful with the snow and ice while I enjoy some sun!

¡Les quiero mucho!

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, November 30, 2009

Todavia nosotros estamos mojados (We're still wet!)

30 NOV 2009

Hello Family and Friends!

I haven’t heard from anyone this week (except for 2 letters from Kristine), so hopefully everything is ok! Everything is going really well here in Fiorito, but very dirty from all the flooding caused by the rain! Not a terribly eventful week, but here are some highlights.

First off, I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and took a minute to think of all the pobre misioneros who don´t get to have one! For our Thanksgiving "Feast" the Hermana’s spoiled us yet again at district meeting. They made banana creme pies, apple pie, and peach cobbler, all of which were FANTASTIC. Our festivities basically ended shortly after that. We ended up eating lunch at McDonalds, then ate a fantastic dinner of empanadas and potato salad with one of our investigators! Nothing like home, but we had a pretty good day.

I had my first "exotic food" experience in Argentina today at lunch with a family of inactive recent converts (sad but true). We ate something called "Mondongo"... aka cow stomach. The texture reminded me of squid, and apparently cow stomach doesn’t usually have too much flavor when you eat it with other things, but when it is served plain with rice... ya basically I could taste every bite. Most importantly, we both survived.

I also had my first "sick day" this week that I spent the morning in the pension not feeling good AT ALL, Elder Spence wasn’t feeling good either. (I think the night before I ate something bad) Being sick as a missionary is the worst, because losing time that you could be working is the worst thing that could happen, so we prayed a lot that we would be able to feel good enough to go work. We rested most of the morning and somehow we were both able to get up around noon and work for the rest of the day without any problems (still not very fun but I’ve learned you forget about those kinds of things when you are focused in the work). It was a huge blessing and we were able to find 8 awesome people who seem very interested in the gospel!

This week we also set a SOLID Fecha with Jorge to be baptized on 12/12/2009. Everyone knows that he is ready but himself. He has been praying about it and feels pretty good about it, but still feels like he doesn’t know enough. He is a great man and it has been so cool to see him accept the gospel and recognize how it can bless his family. As a father it is very obvious that he wants the best for his family, and he knows that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only place that can satisfy that desire. It is such an amazing things to see the gospel draw families closer together and I feel so grateful to have been raised with that in my life already.

My Spanish is getting better, but I’m still having a tough time understanding people. What makes it even harder is that most people use a lot of lumfardos (slang) when they speak, so basically I am learning a lot of words that I shouldn’t even use. One thing I have enjoyed that helps with the language a lot is talking to the native missionaries. There are some AWESOME native Elders here and I can’t wait to have a native companion. (I say that now, but I’m sure it has its challenges too!) There is so much to learn and it’s something I have just had to take day by day and try to take in as much as I can. The gift of tongues is real! I just can’t wait to see the end result (if there is an end result).

Anyways, that’s all for this week and I hope to hear from you all soon! Have a great week!

¡Les quiero mucho!

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

(Myldsmail account is having problems)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Buen Dia Familia y Amigos!

I would like to rewish you all a Happy Thanksgiving this week because I have recently learned that I was a little off when I did so last week! It has been a fantastic week down here in Argentina and as always I have very little time to write about my week!

First off, transfer news. Elder Spence and I are both staying in Fiorito, and Elder Spence is our new district leader. We have 2 other elders and 2 hermanas in our district. This week was also our District leader (Elder Mannings) birthday, and the Hermana´s were nice enough to make us all cheesecake to celebrate. :) Pretty much they spoil us. I also had my first experience eating at Pizza Hot (they have the same logo and everything as pizza hut) which is a pizza buffet in our Zone. Pizza in Argentina is pretty different, there are pizzas with lunch meat, and eggs. Pretty interesting but very tasty! Also, cool fact for the week, I found out that the city I am in (Fiorito) is the birthplace of the infamous Maradona (Super famous soccer player turned druggy/coach of the Argentina National Team).

This week we got the opportunity to do some service! This was my second experience doing some Argentine construction (last time we built a wall). This time we met with some other members at the house of an elderly couple in our branch to rebuild their roof. Also we were lucky enough to do it recently after it had rained, so everything was nice and messy. Basically we just replaced the old rusty sheet metal with newer sheet metal that didn’t have any holes. We had a good time and they were impressed how well I could hammer the nails in. ;)

Couple updates on some of our investigators. Jorge Rodriguez came to church again this week which is very awesome! He could be baptized any time now, but he feels very overwhelmed by all the stuff he is learning and doesn’t feel like he knows enough to be baptized. We are continuing to work with him on that, and it’s great that he has such a great desire to learn more. He loves going to church, and we are hoping that he will be baptized soon so he can be ready to baptize his family when they are ready! 2 weeks ago we found a family, La Flia. Ovieda (the dad is actually a very inactive member) that is progressing really well. Their oldest son, Jorge (16) already loves the Book of Mormon and always goes above and beyond the compromisos (commitments?) we give him and has great questions for us. The others read as well, but todavia our goal is to get them to come to church with us! I wish I could tell you more about all the great people we are teaching. There are so many amazing people here and I´m so happy to be staying here another transfer (hopefully to see some of them get baptized!)

Highlight of the week was definitely the conference we got to have with Elder Bednar! It was actually all 3 Buenos Aires missions, so there were about 600 missionaries together. It was also very interesting because there are several sets of twins as well as Boyfriends/Girlfriends that are serving in the other missions, so they all got to see each other briefly (of course under close supervision of the mission presidents). It was also very cool because I got to see all the Elders from my district in the MTC and they all seem to be doing really well! We got to hear from Elder Bednar (he spoke for about 2-3 hours) as well as Elder Snow from the presidency of the 70 i believe, as well as their wives. We heard some great messages and there was an incredible spirit there! Elder Snow shared with us the story of how Called to Serve got in the hymn book, which I hadn’t heard before! We had been studying 2 great talks given by Elder Bednar in preparation for this conference that I highly recommend! Ask in Faith, and Active Learning. A couple of my favorite things that he shared with us: "The same burden seems lighter to stronger people". Also, when we are teaching an investigator and if at the end of the lesson they have no idea what we are talking about, he said "You just wasted a half an hour talking to yourself with an investigator present". Most of what he shared in reference to the 2 talks was about the importance of inviting the investigators to learn by taking action, (and also for us to learn by taking action). It’s a very important principle but also can be difficult to do! For the last hour or 2 we had the opportunity of asking Elder Bednar questions. There were some really good question and it was amazing how he responded to them. It was very apparent that he is very in tune to the promptings of the Spirit and as an Apostle of Jesus Christ he can receive inspiration/revelation and teach in an amazing way. I learned so much and was very grateful as it was an experience I might never have again in my life. The Church is true and we are so blessed to be lead by living prophets and apostles!

Hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving! Thank you all for your letters, prayers and support!

¡Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Wheelhouse

Monday, November 16, 2009

Con Calor

16 NOV 2009

Hola Family and Friends!

Hope you are all enjoying the cooler weather, because it is HOT down here! Definitely doesn’t feel like November and I can’t believe my first transfer is almost over! Hopefully I will get to spend one more transfer with Elder Spence, but who knows what transfer day will bring!

It’s always great to hear from all of you and I wish I had more time to write you all individually! Anyways, once again I am short on time, this time due to a shortened P-day. President wants us to get back to work earlier today because this Thursday we are going to miss a whole days worth of work to go to the Buenos Aires West mission to listen to Elder Bednar speak! Very exciting, and rumor has it that there could be a split in our mission (I don’t know if I had told you this yet or not). Anyways I will definitely tell you more about that next week!

This week we had the biggest rain storm yet, and all the streets were flooded. Of course we were outside when it hit, and I quickly learned that my rain coat is not really water proof, and it didn’t help that the water was up to my knees anyways (luckily none of my stuff in my backpack got ruined). As we were trenching through the river of water in the street, my foot was lucky enough to find a big hole that had been covered up by all the water, and my whole leg was submerged in the disgusting water. (One important thing to remember that adds to this story, mostly all the streets have "sanghas" which are basically ditches on the side of the street that function as sewers, SO, when you add that to all the garbage and dead animals in the streets, it makes for some pretty disgusting flood water.) My shoes are a little wet still, but other than that we survived! Also last night we were lucky enough to get back to the pension at 9 o clock to realize we were the only block to have our power go out. Luckily our water and gas stove still worked, and the mini maglite Aunt Kelly gave me sure came in handy! (Thank YOU!)

We had several meetings with our new Ward Mission Leader Hno. Molina this week. He was actually less active for the last year or so, but he has been very active lately. He is an awesome guy and very organized! Several days after we had given him our Progress Record he has already organized a plan with all the programs in the church (Relief Society, YW, Primary, Priesthood, etc.) to pass by less active members! This is greatly needed because there is a very large number of less active members in our area. Also, activating these members will be great for missionary work because most of them are families that live close to our investigators! So a lot of work to be done there. We also introduced him to Preach My Gospel, and he was very excited about that. It really is an amazing book that applies to everyone in the church! (I highly recommend chapter 2 and applying it to your scripture study!)

This week we got to go on Intercambios with the Zone Leaders. I went to their area in La Nuz, which was awesome! They live in an apartment downtown on the 7th floor, great view, also they have cool old school elevators where you have to pull the gate closed. Anyways, I learned a lot being with Elder Teerlink and got some really good practice. They have a very big area and we didn’t have much success, which helped me be grateful for our area in Fiorito.

We had several investigators at church this week, and one of them it was his second time coming so he could be baptized next week (Jorge Rodriguez)! All of them had a great experience and the talks couldn’t have been more perfect! During Sacrament meeting Jorge turned to me and asked me if it was ok if he prayed for a bit (we hadn’t explained to him much about what goes on in sacrament meeting, oops)! But of course I told him that is a great thing to do during the sacrament. He is very receptive to the spirit and talking to him after church he said he really wants to bring his whole family next time, so we will most likely wait until they all come so they can all be baptized together!

We also had a family show up at church that we have only visited twice! Our second visit with them they even fed us lunch! They have a lot of problems in their family, but they have a strong desire to repent and change their lives! They have shown great faith through their prayers and scripture reading as well as through attending church, and I am excited to see them progress! It’s amazing how the gospel can change people’s lives!

I have no idea when Thanksgiving is because they don’t celebrate it down here, but just to be safe HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Enjoy your day of turkey and I will continue to enjoy eating my beef CADA DIA!

¡Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, November 9, 2009

¡Buen Dia!

Hello Family and Friends!

Always great to hear from you! Probably my favorite part of all of Pday. Kristine and Dad, I got your letters today you sent around Halloween time and it was fun to see the pictures! Also it was great to hear from Dino and for his testimony! I´m glad everyone seems to be doing well. Everything is fantastic here in Argentina, and even a little bit cleaner thanks to the rain!

Don´t have a whole lot of time to write today, we´ve had a very crazy day so far. But here´s the highlights of this week.

Tuesday we had district meeting in Banfield and the Hermana´s in our zone dressed up like Lamanites and Nuns (Just for fun in the church for halloween). The nuns modified the rosario a little bit and put a book of mormon at the end instead of a cross. Also they made cookies for us so we were all very happy elders. :) After district meeting we went to burger king for lunch, very tasty, then we split up for intercambios. I spent the rest of the day and the next morning working with Elder Baggaley in his area in Ingeniero Budge. (Same area I worked with Elder Manning in). It was definitely a learning experience for both of us because he only has been in the field 6 weeks longer than me. Basically we struggled a lot with the language, but we were still able to contact people and teach some lessons, no doubt we were blessed with the gift of tongues!

Also the day we finished Intercambios, Elder Spence and I had divisions with some members in our ward. Elder Spence went with Maxi Rodriguez (14) and I went with Hno. Torres. He is a great man! We visited the familia Lallana, and Miguel (el padre) y his 3 girls watched Finding Faith in Christ. What a great video! The spirit was very strong and I think they were suprised how much spanish i was able to speak because I usually don´t get to talk much when we visit them. (Hno. Torres wouldn´t let me get away with not speaking).

We have some great investigators that are progressing, but still a pretty sad turnout at church this week. One of our newest investigators did come, but none of our others were there. We had to be on time this week, so we didn´t get the chance to pass by any of them which didn´t help. Noelia always wants to go to church but she can´t go unless her friend Rosa Chena (Inactivo) goes as well. Also we recently found out that her mom´s boyfriend that they are living with us doesn´t want us in their house anymore, so we are trying to figure out a way to teach her at Rosa´s house. That will also help them to be able to go to church together!

This week we also got a call from a member visiting the area who had a reference for us. He was actually a bishop in Uruguay around the time you were in Uruguay mom and dad. His name is Oscar Perez Rojas, and he was a bishop in Colonia Sacramento Uruguay, if that rings any bells. Just figured I would share that with you and see if you knew, o and the reference he gave us was very good too.

This week we had an experience that was new for Elder Spence even. We were waiting on the corner near our pension for a bus and someone pulled up and offered us a ride! We couldn´t talk to them very long and the cars behind them were going crazy, so they drove off... but they went around the block and pulled up again! Obviously you have to be very careful getting in the car with strangers, but they were an older couple and we figured we were safe. we talked to them for a bit and they were actually previous investigators and had a lot of great things to say about the church. We are plannign to meet with them again this week!

Also we started working in a new part of our area that we got as part of the division and had some great success! Just walking down the street we had several people contact US who were very interested. I think the area has been closed for a while, so there is lots of work to do and it is a great location because it is very close to the church. I think we will be doign a lot more work there.

Last off I just want to share something I learned in church this week. In spanish there are 2 verbs for "to know": conocer y saber. He talked about how with the gospel we often start off being acquainted (Conocer) with the principles etc., but that we should strive to strengthen our testimonies through study and prayer and put these principles to practice in our lives so we can know (saber). I know that I have grown so much here on my mission, and I have been greatly blessed in my studies. It is definitely one of my favorite times of the day! The Book of Mormon is so powerful, and has strengthed my testimony of the church and of my Savior so much. Also I have learned a lot about the power of prayer, and want to thank you all for your prayers for me and for missionary work in general. It is a great work and I have no doubt that the Savior is at the head of it.

I hope you all have a fantastic week and I can´t wait to hear from you again!

¡Les Amo!
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, November 2, 2009

De un misionero muy mojado (from a very wet missionary)

Hello family and friends!

Hope you all had a fantastic halloween this week and it was great to read your emails! WE just finished a fantastic game of bowling with probably 20 other Elders in our zone and I bowled my best game ever! I started off with 4 strikes in a row and finished of a little less spectacularly. But anyways... it has been a great week here, and basically has been raining for the last 3 days straight. Along with the rain there has been AMAZING lightning storms! It lights up the whole sky and is probably one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I think it is all very far away because we usually never hear thunder with it.

One request, could you send me a conference ensign in English? Mom to answer your question, we go to one of several "cybers" in the area where they have a bunch of computers to write our emails. It´s about 3 pesos for an hour, so about $1 USD. Not the best environment, there are people smoking, and the music they play is all unedited english music, but it gets the job done and it´s pretty easy to tune everything out to write. They don´t celebrate Halloween down here, but some people celebrate Dia de los muertos which is Nov. 1, so that was different.

This week we did intercambios (exchanges) and I went with our District leader Elder Manning. It was a great experience and he is a great teacher. Also we had a feast that night at their pension (which is even worse than ours, they don´t have hot water) We made yankee hamburgers and french fries which were DELICOUS. But anyways, he taught me a lot of things and then gave me the opportunity to practice them as we went out and did contacts etc. It was a huge confidence boost for me and I definately need to try to speak more when I´m out with Elder Spence. I was suprised how much I could actually speak, but I still have a LOOONG ways to go on understanding what people are saying to me, etc. However we did get to watch the Restoration video in English (Spanish Subtitles) with one of the investigators because they didn´t have their remote to change the language setting. :) Also this week we got to teach seminary! The Seminary teacher for Fiorito lives in the same "Pension" as us, different house, and she asked if Elder Spence would teach because she has been having some health problems due to a pregnancy. It was a lot of fun and the guys that came were Capos (studs). There were even 3 nonmembers that came with their friends which was very cool. We taught about the books of Jude and Revelation from the New Testament. It was very interesting, and we also watched a seminary video about symbolism that was entertaining as all seminary videos are.

This week was our first week meeting with our new Branch of Fiorito. Actually it is very large for a branch, we had about 50 people there, and apparently we are only 3 male tithe payers away from becoming a ward, so that could happen very soon! Our new Branch Pres. is awesome! We met with him and his family and they fed us. He annunciates when he speaks very well so I can actually understand most of what he says! They remind me of a lot of great mormon families from home, which is a very rare thing here! He gave us a lot of great ideas for our teaching which we have been trying to do with all our investigators (placing lots of emphasis on baptism). Sunday was pretty depressing because we passed by several investigators to bring them to church and none of them came :( Then we stood for a half hour in the rain waiting for a bus that never came, so we were late and very wet for church. However, the new chapel we are in is AWESOME! It´s only a couple of years old, and everyone knows about it here because it is the nicest building in the whole area...

This week we had interviews with Pres. Asay which went great! He is an amazing man and he has really turned this mission around from what I have heard. As part of the interview we have to recite a scripture from memory, and I did Alma 37:6-7. He also had me make a study plan for my whole mission that includes all the standard works and the missionary library, and I am very excited to read! Personal study time is one of my favorites things every day! I just finished the Book of Mormon this week and started it again! What an amazing book! I don´t think it is possible to read it without learning something new. Also, every time we have interviews Hna. Asay brings facturas for everyone. Facturas are kind of like donuts/pastries but WAY better!

Our investigators are all doing very well, but we won´t have any baptisms until people start coming to church! We found a new family this week with 7 kids that seems very interested and I am excited to go back and talk to them! I love testifying and teaching about the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ in general, especially when it finally clicks for the people. It really can and does change peoples lives! It´s amazing how receptive the people are here! Very few people turn us down.

That´s pretty much my week! Hope you all have a fantastic week and I can´t wait to hear from you all again next week!

¡Les amo mucho!
Elder Wheelhouse

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dos Semanas Aqui

¡A mi querido familia y amigos!

I was excited to recieve email from so many of you this week and it sounds like things are going very well in Utah! So good to hear. The work is going fantastic down here and even though I am still very overwhelmed by the language I am learning more and more everyday and I´m so happy to be here! Last week I forgot to wish you all a happy Dia de Madres! Here in Argentina they celebrate mothers day in October, which made that Sunday pretty tough for getting investigators to church and finding new people to teach. Also Happy Birthday to Trevor! I can try to find a card to send but I don´t know how long the mail takes to get there so it might be Thanksgiving before you recieve it!

Dad I took your advice that you gave me last week and we have sung hymns for several of our investigators. What a great way to invite the spirit! The first time we were actually teaching a lessons and when I went to get my scriptures out the 8 year old girl sitting next to me wanted to look through my bag. All I had was scriptures, some folletos (Pamphlets) and my hymn book! She was curious about the hymnbook and started looking through it and I asked her if she liked to sing. She said yes, so we stopped the lesson for a minute and sang Families can be together forever (both verses in spanish) as well as one verse in English just for fun. :) I was suprised to find out that Elder Spence can sing really well, so after the lesson we decided we would sing more as part of our lessons! There is definitely great power and a great spirit that comes from singing the hymns!

I think I ate better this week than I have in my whole mission. One night we got together with the other Elders in our district (Elder Manning and Elder Baggaley) and had a "Yankee" Asado (They call us Shankees here). WE grilled up some fantastic meat and made garlic mashed potatoes and a delicious cesar salad. We got all the food for about $6 USD each, which considering how much steak we got is a fantastic price.

Yesterday we had Stake Conference which was a fantastic meeting (from what I could actually understand) as well as a meeting that brought some significant changes. The Ward we were in was split, and so Elder Spence and I are now in the new Branch of Fiorito. It´s going to be an interesting next couple of weeks as we are the only people with callings in the ward besides the Branch Presidency, and I have no idea how many members there will be. I will let you know more about this as we get more information. Also as part of this split our area was changed a little bit, and we lost the part which happened to be where Ernesto (one of our favorite investigators that we found my first week here) as well as all of our lunch appointments live. Pretty bummed about that... but the work will go on! Yesterday as with every Sunday we went around to several investigators houses to try to get them to come to church with us. This is probably the most difficult thing for our investigators here to do (Most people are great about keeping commitments to read and pray). Throughout the week they will tell us that they are planning to go to church with us and seem excited, but then when we show up at their house sunday morning they always come up with excuses. We did end up getting Jorge and his 16 old son Brian to come with us which was awesome! There is definately a great need for men in the church down here and these two are two fantastic future priesthood holders. This was their first time at church and there were some great messages shared that hopefully they were able to hear and understand.

This week we also had Zone conference which was a lot of fun! There was only 1 Elder there that I knew from my district at the MTC, but it was fun to talk to him! As far as the meeting went, I learned some great things from President y Hna. Asay as well as the AP´s. We also went over the numbers for our zone and the work is definitely making great progress down here! Our goal as a mission is to double baptisms and increase attendance at church (I´m assuming this goal is measured by the time Pres. Asay has been here.) Afterwards we had a great lunch and basically that was it!

Some interesting things about the area: The border that seperates our area from the north mission is the dirtiest river in the world, it really is disgusting to even look at and I don´t think it is possible for anything to live in or near it. Also, across the river there is a race car track, so for the past 3 days or so we have been serenaded by the sound of Gran Tourismo race cars all day long. Yesterday morning they had a HUGE freemarket set up all over the streets. It made me feel like I was in a third world country, and it was so cool! I can´t even imagine how much time it took them all to set up their stands with their merchandise, and I imagine this is a pretty regular event for them too! They had everything from food, to clothes, to cd´s, to animals... basically anythign you could ever want!

Another intresting thing about the culture down here that most of you probably know already is the Besos. All the people here greet each other by touching cheeks and making a kissing sound, but we as missionaries aren´t supposed to do that. Since I am knew I haven´t been able to master the art of dodging the besos. One time we were with an investigator just getting ready to say a prayer (I had my arms folded, eyes closed, head down and everything) when his daughter walked in the house (right behind me) and they started talking. I went to look up to see what was going on, and as soon as I looked up BAM she was right there and I got besoed. My comp laughed and as she went to beso him he politely explained why we don´t give/recieve besos, but it was already too late. Another funny thing, people down here believe that there are only 6 continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Antarctica and America. I still haven´t been able to figure out how they can justify North and South America being a single continent while Asia and Europe are seperate...

We have a lot of great investigators that are progressing right now and we´ve got 7 people with a Baptismal date and several more that we are planning to commit this week! Very exciting, but first we need to get people to start coming to church! One of my favorites is Noelia (16) and Andrea Garcia (8) (the ones we sang to the first time). We actually found them because Noelia was at her friend Rosa Chenas house (a member) when we were visiting them! We read from the Book of Mormon with her and gave her a Book of Mormon then asked when we could visit her family. We have visited them several times and they are doing great with the reading and praying! I always feel the spirit very strong when we are with them, and once they go to church they will be ready to get baptized and are very excited about it!

WEll that´s about all for me! We are headed to play some futbol today! Pdays are great down here! Last week we went and ate at McDonalds (sooo good) and we went bowling! There are so many things to do here and I always look forward to learning new things everyday. The church is true here in Argentina (and everywhere). I love you all and I am excited to hear from you next week!

Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Wheelhouse

Monday, October 19, 2009

¡Buen dia de Argentina!

¡Buenas Dias!

How are you all doing? I´m glad you got the email from my mission president that I arrived safely, I wish I could have called from the airport, but we left immediately after we got through customs, which was pretty nice! Anyways I have lots to tell you all about what is going on down here and not a whole lot of time! We get an hour a week for email and I am only supposed to email family, so mom and dad I may need some help from you as a forwarding service.:) Also I am going to try to send an email from my gmail account with some pictures. (Pres. Asay said we can use gmail as well as Sorry this email is very scattered, I´ve got so much I wish I could say and I´m just trying to get as many thoughts down as I can.

First things first, my companion is GREAT. His name is Elder Spence, he is from Sacramento California and he´s a great Elder. He´s been out for a year and he is a hard worker. I´ve already learned so much from him and luckily he hasn´t even played any pranks on me either. He´s a great teacher, which is good because he usually does most of the talking while I am still trying to even understand what people are trying to say to me! Everyone talks fast, but I am starting to be able to seperate words a little better now, my companion said it will be months before I understand everything people are saying... so for now all I can do is just keep trying! My speaking is pretty much limited to greeting, parts of lessons, and saying prayers. Apparently they dont´speak EspaƱol here, it´s all "Castillano".

My first day here we got picked up at the airport by the AP´s and pres. Asay and went straight to the Temple to talk (it was way too loud at the airport, very busy place). The temple was great, it´s a lot smaller than it looks in the pictures. Unfortunately we didn´t get to go inside and I wont get to go until the end of my mission most likely because it is going to be closed for renovations for a year and a half or so. After Pres. Asay gave us some instruction a the temple we headed downtown to do some paperwork for our Residence Visas. There are SO MANY people here. I took a couple pictures out the window as we were driving, and that will probably be the only time I get to be in the capital. It was nice and warm (probably about 78) and we spent most of the time just standing around while they figured out what we were doing. After we left the capitol we went to the mission home and ate lunch and the Pres. and his wife talked to us and gave us some more instructions, then we were assigned our companions and off we went! I miss the Elder´s I was with in the MTC but I´m sure they are all doing great. We dropped my stuff off at the pension and then went right to work.

Our "Pension" where we stay is at 2134 Plumerillo in Fiorito Argentina so you can all look it up on Google Earth. Our area is called Ingeniero Budge and I think the city is called Banfield or something. I was very suprised how dirty this place is! There is garbage everywhere and there are probably more dogs than people wandering around the streets. Also, people burn garbage here, so it´s not uncommon to see fires in the street all day long. Elder. Spence said he has also seen several cars that people have burned... basically it looks like a WWII war zone. The houses and buildings are very rundown. I haven´t been able to take any pictures in my area yet besides out the window of our pension and I probably wont´be able to for a while. Basically if we even take out a camera anywhere in our area we will get robbed... so i´m trying to avoid it. Despite all the "negatives" i already love this place. Also, most people´s houses have a fence and a locked gate to get to their door, so we stand outside the gate and clap our hands when we go tracting rather than knocking doors and they come outside to the gate to talk to us. It´s pretty cool :) The food here is fantastic! The members always feed us so much! The asado (grilled steak) is delicious as well as empanadas, helados, milanesa and lots more! Also today I did my first grocery shopping EVER and i got a weeks worth of food for about $60, which is a little less than $20USD, very cool! Also the bread here is really good, it actually reminds me a lot of albertsons french bread as far as taste and how hard the crust is.

As you all probably know, Futbol is HUGE down here. One night we were visiting a members house during a big game between Argentina and Uruguay, it was getting close to the end of the game and it was tied 0 to 0 when Uruguay scored. Outside there were people shooting guns in the air and so we had to stay at their house for a while so everyone could settle down. It was pretty scary walking home, but we didn´t have any problems.

The people here are amazing! I have met some great members and we have some awesome investigators! Although I can´t say or understand much, I already love them, and they are very nice to me. :) My favorite investigator that we actually found on my second day here is named Ernesto. He´s about 70 years old and he was actually a reference that we forced out of the lady we had my first lunch appointment with (Hna. Valquinto) He let us in to his house on the first contact and we taught him and he was very receptive. I felt the spirit so strong as we were teaching and he seemed to be very excited aobut our message. WE left him with a book of mormon and asection to read and taught him how to pray. The next day we went back and he had read the chapter, all of the pamphlet we left, and he apologized that he hadn´t read more. We taught him again and commited him to baptism on October 31, but unfortunately we didn´t get him to church yesterday, so he can´t be baptized until later, but I am pretty confident that he will be! I have been very suprised how many people are willing to listen to us (A very pleasant suprise) and I know the Lord is continually preparing people here to hear the gospel. WE have a TON of work to do!

The driving here is INSANE. My first day here we got a ride to our pension from the mission home with an unlicensed taxi driver, which was pretty scary. Basically there aren´t stop signs around here and people pass each other whenever they want and can and will squeeze their way through any gap they can find. I have never seen so many old beaten up cars in my life, and they are all VERY loud. Also there are lots of people that drive scooters and little motorcycles around, without helmets of course. As far as I know there´s no age limit for driving scooters and motorcycles because i´ve seen some pretty young kids driving around...

Here they have a ton of little mini stores that families run out of their houses that sell all kinds of things from snacks to little souvenier type things called Kioskos. Basically they are willing to give anyone anything as long as they have money for it, for example, yesterday we saw a 6 year old buy beer. Very sad but that´s how things are down here.

Anyways I have to wrap things up now, I have so much more I wish I could say but hopefully I´ll get better at focusing on the more important things. I love you all and I am so happy to be down here! I love this work and I feel so blessed to be in the best mission in the world with an awesome companion!

Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Wheelhouse

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Arrival in Argentina

Ian flew to Argentina on Monday. We got to talk to him for about an hour while he was at the airport in LA. Today we got the following e-mail (and attached photo) from his Mission President (Let the fun begin!):

Dear Wheelhouse Family,

It is a great pleasure to notify you that your son has arrived safely to the great mission Argentina Buenos Aires South. He is in a very good area with an excellent Trainer, Elder Spence. Although we have known him for a very short time we love him already. He will be great!


President and Sister Asay

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Last week at the MTC

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Wheelhouse []
Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2009 7:14 AM
Subject: Last Week at the MTC!!!

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a fantastic conference weekend! There were so many great talks and it was especially fun being able to watch it in the MTC with 2000 other missionaries. Thanks for your letters and packages (Kristine and Mom :)) and I hope everything is still going well with each of you! It's hard to believe this is my last P-day here at the MTC!

First of all.... We got our travel plans!!! We will be leaving the MTC at 5:00 am on Monday morning 10/12/09. From SLC we will fly to LAX and we have about a 4 hour layover there. From LAX we will fly to Lima, Peru, and arrive around midnight. After about an hour in Lima we will fly to Buenos Aires and arrive around 7:45 am Tuesday morning! It's going to be a very long day but I am so excited! I picked up an english Book of Mormon that I am hoping to place at the airport in LA in our down time, also I will plan to call home from the LA airport sometime between 10:30 and 2:30 Utah time on Monday.

This week has been a pretty eventful week as far as health issues go. Elder Hinton decided to sprain his ankle playing basketball on Thursday morning. It got HUGE! Luckily he is tough and he has been walking on it since in happened but it definitely slowed us down a little bit. He seems to be pretty much all recovered now, just in time! Also, as mom and dad found out from a phone call from the MTC, I had a filling that fell out and has left a huge gap in my teeth, but luckily I am going to get that fixed up later today! Also, in preperation for leaving this next week we had a "health and safety meeting" where they taught us things like: how to purify water, how to sanitize your food, why it's important to not walk barefoot, how to avoid animals, and how to wash our hands. It was some good information but some of it seemed pretty over the top. I'll just count on recieving more specific instruction from my mission president/trainer when I get down there.

On a more serious note, We said goodbye to Elder McClurg last night and he goes in for his big surgery this morning. He will be in a hospital bed for 4 days after, then spend about a week at his house in provo. Afterwords he will return to the MTC for another month or so and then probably be assigned to the Provo or Salt Lake City mission for a couple months so the doctors can make sure he is recovering how he is supposed to. It was very sad but he handled it very well. We all walked him to the lobby to meet his mom, and we all put together a nice card for him. I'm gonna miss that guy!

Also this past week we had a "mock baptismal service" with a district that left this last sunday. It was completely in spanish and several people got to give talks, do musical numbers, etc. It was a lot of fun and I even understood all the Spanish! Although my spanish continues to improve I am pretty nervous about not hearing anything but Spanish starting next week! I'm sure I will learn faster than I ever have once I get down there but it will definitely be a difficult experience!

To finish off I'd just like to share some thoughts I had about conference. Saturday and Sunday were the most laid back days that I have had here at the MTC! It was really fun and everyone was so pumped about getting to listen to the prophet! There were even cheers during some of the sessions.... The only downside was having to sit in hard plastic chairs for 10+ hours as well as dealing with the temperature that comes from having 2000 people in the same room. However, I don't think I've ever gotten as much out of conference as I did this time! I feel like so many of the messages that were given applied dirrectly to me as a missionary and I got a lot of good notes! Unfortunately I don't have much time left to write too much about these talks (I don't have my conference notes here with me either at the moment), but one of my favorites was given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on Sunday about the Book of Mormon. I was blown away by how powerful his message was! Here at the MTC we talk about the importance of the BOM all the time, so it was really cool to hear an apostle talk about it in that way! On the same note... our speaker at our Devotional last night Ben B. Banks (an emeritus 70) brought along a convert friend who shared his testimony with us. He put a lot of focus on the power of the BOM and how that's really what converted him (Before he was a very Orthodox Jew). I love the Book of Mormon and can't wait to share it with people and see how it changes their lives and I hope each of you will continue, or make the effort to read from the Book of Mormon EVERY DAY. I know that it will strengthen your testimony of Jesus Christ and help you to become a better person.

Well the next email ya'll will recieve from me will be from Argentina!!! I have no idea when that will be but it should be sometime next week. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Wheelhouse

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Less than 2 weeks to go!

Sent: Wed 9/30/09 7:55 AM

Hello Everyone!

I hope you all are having a great week and are all super excited for conference this weekend! I know I am! It's always great to hear from you and thank you for all your prayers and support! It's been a great week but not a terribly eventful one!

This last Wednesday we got a new district of Elders that is the exact same as ours was! There are 8 Elder's going to Buenos Aires South mission and 4 going to the Dominican Republic. They seem like a great group of guys and I have gotten to meet a couple of them! One of them (Elder Williams) is from Alabama and is a convert of a little over a year (he was baptized in May of 2008). He has such an awesome conversion story and he was actually converted as he was going to school to become a minister for the Assembly of God church. Needless to say he knows the Bible VERY well, but he has a strong testimony and will be a great missionary. Who knows maybe I'll get to be his companion some time in Argentina!

I dont' know how it was for all of you, but this last week was Fast Sunday for us once again due to conference. It was another great experience fasting especially as we've had some special needs in our district, etc. There is never a quiet moment in Testimony Meeting! I was hoping to get the chance to bear my testimony before I leave, but apparently everyone else felt the same way and I didn't act soon enough. I still have one last shot if I get called to speak the Sunday before we leave. :P

Also on Sunday we had Pres. Breinholt of the MTC Presidency in our meeting and he was there to call a Bro. Jensen as a "3rd Counselor" in our branch. I've never heard of that happening before, but he also said that because there are so many Spanish speaking Elder's coming into the missionary in the near future that there would be some changes made. I haven't gotten to meet Bro. Jensen yet, but I am sure he is great! Our Branch Presidency is Awesome! As always I'm convinced I have been blessed with the best district, the best teachers and the best leaders!

I don't remember what I mentioned last week, but Elder McClurg went to the Doctors yesterday and I guess things aren't looking so great. He's been having a lot of the same problems Jordan Fisher was having, and he actually went in to surgery this morning so the doctor could check things out. He told us last night that he's not going to be able to leave to Argentina with us at the same time, and I really hope things work out for him to be able to come down at all. He's been one of my best friends here and he will be an amazing missionary. I'm really worried about him and I'm sure he's having a really tough time with it.

On a lighter note I can't wait for conference this weekend! What a great opportunity to get to listen to our prophets and apostles speak to us! Conference also carries some special "benefits" here at the MTC being that all classes are cancelled on Saturday and there are no meetings on Sunday. I'm sure you can all relate and would agree it will be a nice relaxing weekend! :P Starting with conference as well we are all required to wear a suit at all times which is ok as the weather is starting to get colder.

We should be getting our travel plans tomorrow and I'm very excited about that! I can't believe how quickly the time here has gone by and I hope I have learned enough! I will definately write more about this next week as I get more information.

As a final thought for this week I just want to share something that Bro. Nadauld shared with us last night in the Devotional. He talked a lot about faith, and one thing that really stuck out to me as a missionary was the thoughts he shared about "finding by the way". He bore a powerful testimony of how God will put people in our path as we are doing the things that we need to be doing and contacting everyone we meet. This is something that applies to all of us because all of us who have been baptized have covenanted to take upon us the name of Christ and to live like someone who bears his name should. We never know when one of his children may be in our path, and a lot of times we never know the influence we can have. As we strive to do the right thing and as we follow the Spirit we can all be missionaries in someway and help bring others to Jesus Christ!

I hope you all have a great week and I hope to hear from you soon! Enjoy conference!

Elder Wheelhouse

Thursday, September 24, 2009

MTC Week ???

Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 8:06 AM
Subject: Week ???

Buenas Dias!

Pretty sad that I honestly can't even remember how many weeks I have been here anymore! It's been another great and exciting week here at the MTC! I hope everyone is doing well at home and enjoying the cooler weather! Thank you for all your letters, prayers and support! I got more mail this week than any other week and it felt really good! I am excited to write all of you back today!

I hope all went well at Grandpa's funeral and it sounds like you are all doing really well. I actually recieved his funeral announcement/program at almost the exact time that it was starting. I was pretty emotional as I read over the program and pictured what it was like being there! I really wished that I could have been there but I felt the spirit comfort me and I knew I am in the right place and that everything would be ok! I'm sure it was a great service and I'd love to hear some more about what happened. Also I loved Aunt Yannie's poem that was on the back! It had such a great message and was very thoughtful! I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of the plan of salvation!

This last week was our first "Teaching Appointment" that was completely in Spanish! I think we did really well and Elder Hinton always helps me so much! I need to work on my conjugations and learning more VOCAB! The spirit was so strong as we were teaching and I really enjoy teaching in Spanish. We taught an RM that served in Georgia and he gave us some good feedback. Still lot's of room to improve!

Sunday was one of the most eventful days this week! Our Zone was incharge of providing a Sacrament meeting for the Cafeteria workers that have to work on Sunday. Elder Hinton and I were in charge of blessing the sacrament. There was a great spirit there even though all the "congregation" was dressed in their normal street clothes. One of the workers gave a thought about how they are in the service of "the Lord's annointed". I was filled with gratitude for what they do for us and for the sacrifices they make to be there to feed us on Sunday ( even though I'm sick of cafeteria food ). It was nice having an all English meeting and one of the Elder's in my district gave an amazing talk about prayer! Also on Sunday I had my first opportunity to play the piano in Sacrament Meeting! It was so nice to play the piano again and it went really well! Luckily there are only 50-60 Elder's and Sister's in our Zone so I wasn't TOO nervous.

Also this Sunday I was called as the new District Leader. It was very humbling and I am excited for the opportunity to serve! Along with that call comes the responsibility of getting the mail (excited about that) Conducting district meetings, attending leadership meeting on sunday morning and tuesday night, and interviewing each of the Elder's in my district! I'm excited to meet with each of them! I love the Elder's in my district and I hope that I can help and strengthen each of them in some way as well as our district as a whole!

One of the Elder's in my district that I am rooming with (Elder McClurg) had a visit to the doctor's this week and got some pretty depressing news. He's going through a lot of the same type of problems Jordan Fisher went through and he found out that he might be delayed an extra month or so to get things taken care of. He is going to be an incredible missionary and I hope everything works out for him!

Yesterday we found out that the "Consolate of Argentina" is coming all the way from Argentina to visit all the Elder's and Sister's that are going there and possibly to interview us? Basically I don't know what to expect but I am pretty excited! If someone could give me some information about what a Consolate is that would be awesome! Apparently a lot of missionaries going to Argentina have had a hard time getting Visa's, so they are hoping that this visit will help missionaries in the future with that process. I sure hope I don't have any problems with my VISA considering I turned it in all the way back in May, but who knows!

Last night was Devotional Night again! The choir sang a song called "Behold the Wounds in Jesus Hands" which was amazing! The lyrics of this song were incredible and I hope you can all look it up and read the words about the Savior! This week we had Bro and Sis. Clayton from the Presidency of the Seventy come and speak to us! Sis Clayton talked a lot about how the Lord is always there right be our side and that we are never alone. Bro Clayton talked about leaving the world behind, looking forward and not backward!
It's much easier said than done but it's so important that we remember why we are here and make the most of this time that we have dedicated to the Lord!

In conclusion I'd like to share a thought with you that was given in one of our meeting on Sunday by Bro. Nelson in our Branch Presidency. He said "Repenting and being forgiven does not eliminate facing the consequences of the choices we have made". I had never thought of it that way before but I know it is true! We will be so much happier in this life as we continually strive to choose the right and repent of the mistakes we do make!

Love, Elder Wheelhouse

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Week 5 MTC

Hello Family and Friends!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week! Thanks for your love and prayers! As always lots of things are going on here at the MTC and it's always hard deciding what I want to write about. I'm sending home a copy of my schedule that I go by each week that shows you the things I do every hour of the day throughout the week. Needless to say it is always nice to get back to our room each night and I always sleep really well! The food here is getting pretty old but overall I can't complain because everything is pretty much taken care of for us here which I'm sure is very different from how it will be in Argentina!

I hope everyone is doing well with Grandpa's passing this past week. I had thought about it a lot over the weekend but didn't get the news till Monday. Still don't have any details, just got the note on the outside of the envelope. What a great man! I'm sure we all have so many great memories of the times we got to be with him and we all feel very lucky to have known him!He's endured a lot these past several years, and we will all miss him very much but I can't help but think how lucky we are that we know how happy he is right now!

This week was my first week teaching a full lesson in Spanish. It was pretty rough and I still can't say all the things that I wish I could, but it went pretty well considering we've only been here 5 weeks now. From here on out all our lessons will be in Spanish! I think that teaching in Spanish will help us all learn things a lot faster and be able to remember them better. I definately need to practice more and we should probably be teaching 3-5 lessons a day to get it down instead of the 1-3 that we've been used to.

As always one of the highlights of my week was the devotional last night. This week we had the privilege of listening to Elder Holland! It's always so cool when one of the apostles walks in to the devotional and everyone stands, it's very powerful. He is a great speaker and I took lot's of notes. He talked a lot about how important it is to get everything I can out of serving a mission, and how important it is to give all you can for this short time that we have agreed to give to the Lord. He talked about how we shouldn't wish for our missions to be easy, because missions are the closest thing to real life that we will experience here on earth. He said missions are a great opportunity to experience in some small portion some of the things our Savior went through when he was on the earth. I've done a lot of thinking about how missionary life really is very similar to the lives the apostles lived. I love this work and I'm so happy to be here!

Sunday's here have become probably my favorite day of the week. My companion has a couple meetings, which is nice for me because I get extra study time! I love the scriptures more and more everytime I read them and for the first time in my life they are really coming to life for me and I'm finding more and more ways to apply them to the things I do. Some of my other favorite things about Sunday are Choir practice, the food, the firesides and of course movie night! This week we watched The Testament! What a great movie about an amazing event! Also, this week in choir we sang "This is the Christ". I have realized while I've been here how much I can improve on Always remembering our Savior and the things that he did for each one of us. One reason I love reading the scriptures is because it really does bring me closer to Him and that's where I want to be!

Well I think that's about all, I hope you all have a great week! I hope to hear from you all soon!

Elder Wheelhouse

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Almost 1 Month!

Wed, 9 Sep 2009

Hello everyone!

Another busy week here at the MTC. Lot's has happened but once again I find myself struggling to decide what to share. I love being here at the MTC! As a district we have gotten the chance to talk to a couple people that served in our mission and ask them some questions. It was fun to learn a little bit about the people/culture, but I also learned some suprising things. I am still very excited but also a little nervous for the day we leave. I can't believe I have almost been here a whole month!

To start off the week we lost 4 elder's in our district that left for the Dominican Republic at 2 am on Tuesday morning. It was pretty weird having them gone for the first day or so, but now we are used to it. First thing we did the morning they left is rearrange the classroom, and e have a ton more room now which is nice considering that's where we spend most of our day. Of course we still miss them and we're hoping to hear from them soon, but I'm sure they are doing great.

I don't know if I mentioned last week that we got a new teacher. His name is Hno. Shulca and he's from Ecuador. He actually served his mission here in Utah and learned english at the MTC. This fact gives me a lot of hope for learning spanish! He is an awesome teacher and has already helped us learn so much. He has a very strong testimony and I think he fits in really well with our district. I'm convinced we have the 2 best teachers at the MTC.

Fast Sunday this week was also a new experience for me here at the MTC. It is so much easier to fast when you are busy studying and focusing on other things! I have learned to love personal study time almost more than anything else while I have been here. It's amazing how much you can learn from the scriptures and how it applies to us even today! They truly are/were inspired words for our day. Anyways the fasting went really well and along with fast sunday came my first Mission Conference. The MTC presidency spoke to us for about 2 hours and I learned so much! Luckily to break our fast they gave us a really nice dinner. I'm getting pretty sick of all the cafeteria food. (Eating at the temple last week was fantastic!)

Of course I must mention the devotional last night since that is usually the best thing that happens all week (next to getting letters). Last night the speaker was Pres. Hinckley's son, Richard G. Hinckley. It's amazing how much he reminds me of Pres. Hinckley! He shared a great message about the articles of faith and how important they are for missionary work. We are so blessed to have these simple, yet profound statements that even a child can understand what we believe in. As missionaries we strive to teach with simplicity, so he challenged us to keep the articles of faith in mind as we teach. It's amazing how many questions can be answered simply by sharing one. Of course he also shared some great stories and passed on the love and support of the First Presidency.

Without hearing too many details I heard BYU had a big win this weekend. It's amazing how sheltered we are here from the outside world. I really have no idea what is going on out there! This is probably for the better but of course everyone here was pretty excited about the game. Sounds like they are going to have a great season!

My spanish I think is improving more and more each day. We are starting to prepare to teach lesson one in spanish, and we will be teaching exclusively in spanish starting next saturday. Of course I am pretty nervous, but I think I can say more than I think I can. Reading through Predicad Mi Evangelio and El Libro de Mormon, I am suprised on how much I can understand. Of course reading and speaking are two different things and I think it will be quite a while before I am completely confident with conjugating verbs, etc. I love the language and I am always excited to learn more!

My thought for this week has to do with Humility. A couple days ago Hno. Cragun shared a quote with us about Humility that I think made everyone feel a little guilty. It talked about how pride is trusting in yourself more than God, and comparing yourself to others. I think the hardest part of humility is submitting your own will to the will of God. I think too often we think we know what we want without taking it to the Lord first. This is pride. While I have been here at the MTC it has been a lot easier to involve the Lord (through prayer) in everything we do, because basically everything we do (even gym) starts and ends with a prayer. Prayer is a great way to show humility because we are recognizing that we need the Lord.

Anyways it was great hearing from Mom, Kristine, Grandma and Grandpa this week! I hope everything is going well for all of you! Strive to be humble and always remember to go to the Lord in all things!

Love, Elder Wheelhouse

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Week 3 MTC

Hello Family and Friends!

So much has happened this week but I'm having a hard time figuring out what is worth mentioning in this email! I hope everyone is doing well at home and as always thank you so much for your letters, emails, and packages! I grow to love this work more and more every day and I look forward to the day that I get to put this training to use! Once again I'm sorry that I haven't gotten the chance to print off any pictures, but I am planning to get some printed off today so hopefully you should have those by the end of the week.

To start off I guess I will talk about one of our activities that we do on a regular basis that I haven't mentioned yet. A couple times a week my district goes to the Referral Center where we either make phone calls to verify that people have recieved there orders of free copies of the book of mormon, church videos, etc., or our district also has the opportunity of doing live chats with people who get on and have a question. Both are great opportunities to teach people about the Gospel and to bear our testimonies! I have had a couple great chats with people that I think are very receptive to the gospel and could end up getting baptized. As a district we have set some "key indicator goals" for how many baptisms (we're shooting for one baptismal challenge!) return investigators, new investigators, and lessons we want to teach to people through the RC! The other day I spoke with a guy named Adam who had questions about the Spirit World. I gave him a brief lesson on the plan of salvation and challenged him to read more on the subject in a talk on and to pray about the things he's heard. I actually set up an appointment with him for later today to talk about his thoughts and feelings and hopefully I'll get a chance to teach him some more! He said he found great comfort in knowing that he has a loving Heavenly Father who wants him to be able to return to live with Him.

As always the devotional last night was another highlight from this week. I've been singing in the MTC choir with a couple of Elder's in my district which has been a lot of fun. Last night we sang an awesome arrangement of Redeemer of Israel. Anyways, the speaker last night was Elder Sybrowsky (spelling?) of the second quorom of the seventy. (Dad, apparently he worked at Dynex, did you happen to know him?) Both he and his wife spoke to us and they introduced their family, many of whom were in attendance. Before speaking individually they stood up as a "companionship" and talked to us the importance and significance of having a companion. They have 9 children, 8 who have served missions and the last one who will be turning in his papers this week. They expressed their love for missionary work and they both shared the conversion stories of their families which were both amazing! He also shared a story about how yesterday as he was eating lunch at a "secret location" in the church office building, he sat down with L. Tom Perry and talked about how he would be speaking at the MTC that night. L. Tom Perry asked him to pass on how important it is that we always stay with our companions and that we love them, watch out for them, and take care of them. It was a great devotional and as always the Spirit was very strong.

Elder Hinton and I are still getting along really well! He has been doing an awesome job in his assignment as district leader and I really look up to him in so many ways. I'm so happy I got a companion that is easy to get along with. Our district has grown so close and it's going to be sad this week as our 4 Elder's headed to the Dominican Republic leave on Thursday. Tonight we will be carrying on the tradition of singing "God be with you till we meet again" in spanish, which is always awesome! I actually got a video of us singing last night which hopefully I can get to you before we leave for Argentina!

I really haven't noticed much improvement in my spanish which is pretty discouraging! Then again, I probably haven't put as much effort into learning it as I could have. I am learning more and more every day, but I think I really need to sit down and set some goals that will help keep me motivated to increase how much I learn every day. I am confident that the language will come, I just hope it's sooner rather than later!

This past week we lost one of our 2 teachers, Hno. Rollins, as he went back to school and had a schedule that wouldn't work with the MTC schedule. He was such an awesome teacher and we all learned so much from him! He was kind of an awkward guy, but he had a great spirit and a hilarious sense of humor. One day to practice our spanish he set up a classroom like an airplane, and we had to talk to other passengers on the "secreta avion" in spanish as he stood at the front with a headset on his head and pretended like he was a pilot. It was pretty ridiculous but we all had a good laugh and I actually think it did help our spanish! We got some good pictures with him and Elder Day (An elder in my room that is an awesome artist) put together a nice card for him that we all wrote in. I think our new teacher is going to be really great! His name is Hno. Shulca, and he's a native speaker which will help our spanish a ton! Tonight is our first class with him.

Well it looks like I am about out of time so I'm going to wrap things up. I hope you all have a great week! I would like to leave you all with a challenge that my branch president, President Nelson, has given us on a regular basis as we have been here at the MTC. The challenge is to Pray every single day and ask Heavenly Father to give you more Charity. We learn in the scriptures that Charity is the greatest of all the gifts of God and I know that that is true! If we strive to have greater Charity each day I know that we will not only be happier ourselves, but in a way Heavenly Father will also be able to show His love through us in a way that brings joy and happiness to others. I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Week 2 MTC

Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 7:45 AM

Hello family and friends!

Once again thank you so much for your letters and support! It's amazing the difference one letter can make! I enjoyed getting a letter from Bro. Oldroyd this week, he gave me a lot of good suggestions for life as well as being a missionary. I hope all is going well with school and work and that everyone enjoyed the Temple dedication on Sunday! Happy Birthday to Kyle today! Is he all set to be driving my car? Thanks for keeping me updated on what's been going on at home! I think I can print some pictures off here to send home, but it probably won't be till next week. They keep us very busy (and very full) here so it's difficult to find time to do stuff like that. Kristine, congratulations on your triathlon! Dad, thanks for the information about getting those slacks fixed, also, do you think you could send me some labels with my MTC address information on to save me that little bit of time writing letters? Thank you!

All the missionaries at the MTC got to attend the Temple dedication this week, and the Spirit was so strong! Having been through the temple now, things stood out to me that never have before as Elder Eyering gave the Dedicatory prayer in our session. I love the temple and I can't wait to go in just a couple of hours with my district for p-day!

I'll start off with sharing my highlight of the week, which was actually just last night. Tuesday nights are devotional night for us here at the MTC which means we get to have a general authority come speak to us. This week that speaker happened to be Elder Richard G. Scott. I didn't know he served a mission in Uruguay? Anyways from the moment he walked in while we were singing "True to the Faith" and everyone stood up, I can't even express how strong the spirit was. As the MTC president, President Smith stood up and started to introduce Elder Scott, He quickly stood up and ran (i was suprised too) up to the microphone and said, just tell them I love the missionaries and let's get on with it. He is a very humble man and it was very apparent how in tune he is with the Spirit. The most amazing thing to me as he spoke, was he used his authority as an apostle to "confer upon us the gift of tongues" and also by the same authority he blessed us with "protection and safety as you are obedient, make smart choices, and follow the promptings of the spirit." That was such an amazing thing to me and really strengthened my testimony that these men are called of God. He also shared the most personal testimony I have ever heard in my life, he told us "I know that Jesus Christ lives because I Know Him." What a powerful statement! I hope that I can someday say that with the same power and conviction that he did.

This past Saturday was our first teaching appointment. Elder Hinton and I have had several opportunities to teach other people in our district, but this was our first chance to teach a lesson to someone that was not a missionary. Our first task was to greet them and spend about 5 minutes getting to know them in Spanish. Both our minds went blank as we walked in the room, but we made it through just fine with the Spanish. We then proceded to teach the restoration of the gospel to 2 young ladies, one from peru, and one from north carolina (in english thankfully). It was such an awesome experience being able to teach real people with real needs, even though they were members of the church and were playing a specific role, we still felt the promptings of the spirit to say things a little differently than we are used to that hopefully strengthened their testimonies of this gospel.

It's amazing how quickly the Elder's in my district have bonded. It really feels like we have all been best friends for years. Everyone is open with each other and they all have such strong testimonies. Elder Hinton and I have always gotten along, but it seems like the past couple days we have just clicked and started having some good conversations. 8 of the Elder's in my district are going to the same mission as Elder Hinton and I, and the other 4 are leaving for the Dominican Republic MTC, Santiago mission next week! We are definately going to miss them, but it will be nice to have the extra room in our very crowded classroom where we spend 5-9 hours a day.

This past Sunday we also had a couple of changes in our Zone. Elder McClurg and Elder Day (in my room) are going to be our new Zone Leaders, and my companion Elder Hinton is the new District Leader. I feel pretty left out, but they will do a great job! Our Branch President shared an awesome message about how we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, which helped me a lot and I think that's so important for everyone to remember! There's so much to learn here, and there's no way we could learn as much as we do without the Spirit of the Lord.

Anyawys, I'm about out of time now. It's amazing how quickly a half hour can fly by, I wish I had my journal here to share some more experiences with you, but then again I need to leave something to talk about in my letters.;) I love you all and hope you have a great week! The church is true!

Love Elder Wheelhouse

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One Week Down!

Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:10 AM

Hola Familia!

I survived my first week here at the MTC! It's amazing how quickly this place starts to feel like home. The spirit is so strong and everyone here is so friendly and helpful! I can't complain about the food either. They keep us very full as we generally eat every four or five hours. I have the feeling i'm going to gain some weight here! Anyways save this address because this will be my email address for my whole mission. Our p-day is on wednesdays for my district here at the MTC, so you can expect an email every week on wednesdays.

Thank you for your letters! Getting letters is seriously like Christmas day here! Kristine, all the guys in my room loved the package you sent me, and they all want to hear "the good stuff" everytime I get a letter! We've had some fun with the stuff, and we have that expanding Alligator growing in the bathtub on our floor ;). Also the air freshner has been put to good use as staying in a room with 3 other guys gets pretty stinky! I haven't taken a whole lot of pictures but i'm sure you'll be seeing some pretty soon!

Anyways I think I already talked about the guys in my room in my last letter, but I'm pretty sure there was some wrong information! My companion is Elder Hinton from Hurricane, Utah. He just graduated high school this year, and he's an awesome basketball player. He actually reminds me of Jordan Fisher in a lot of ways! Also in our room is Elder McClurg from New Jersey (our district leader), and his companion Elder Day from Ogden, Utah. We all get along great, which keeps us from getting to sleep by 10:30 because we are always up talking about things.

We have probably the best teacher at the whole MTC. His name is Hermano Cragun, and he just got back from his mission in Texas 6 weeks ago! It is so obvious to all of us how much he loves missionary work and he has really brought "bromancia" or so he calls it, to our district. We love singing the Himnos in class.

Our first or second day here we were taught how to bear our testimonies and pray in Espanol. We've gotten lots of practice in and i'm pretty confident doing it, but I have still got A LOT to learn. Me and my companion have started reading "El Libro de Mormon" in our companionship study to help us with pronunciation and it's suprising how many words we can pick up on! I am definately going to need the gift of tongues to learn this language! We have our first teaching apointment this Saturday, which thankfully is in English. (By the way dad, I found out what TRC is... Teaching Resource Center) We do have to contact people in Spanish prior to teaching the first lesson however. It's pretty ridiculous how nerve racking it is to approach people to have a conversation in a language i dont' know yet! But I've learned there is nothing to be afraid of as we are all here on the same team!

Our schedule was pretty crazy the first week through Sunday, but we are on a schedule now so things should get a lot better! We get an hour of gym time each day which has really made me realize how out of shape I am! I usually play basketball or run/bike/lift. Most of our time is spent in Class. Sundays are pretty laid back which is a nice break from our day to day routines! P-days are nice for lots of reasons, but more than anything i'm excited to go to the temple today with my district!

Last night we had our first Devotional which was by Spencer V Jones of the second quorom of the seventy. Apparently he is going to be speaking at the Oquirrh Mountain temple dedication this Sunday, so you can see who he is! He gave an awesome talk about teaching by the spirit! One thing he talked about was "looking up and listening for what comes down". Although this was a little different, it reminded me of what Bishop Oviatt used to always tell us about taking time to ponder to become more receptive to the spirit! I know this will help me a lot as a missionary as my schedule is so busy that a lot of times we dont' have time to think! He also said, "If you don't teach by the Spirit, you're not teaching the way God intended you to teach." I challenge all of you to take time to think about spiritual things so that you may have the Spirit with you more fully throughout each day!

WE finally met our Branch President last night as he was out of town last week when we got here as well as on Sunday. His name is President Nelson and he seems like an amazing man! I can't wait to learn more from him! Our sacrament meetings are pretty nerve racking because we are all asked to prepare a talk (in spanish) and they randomly call 2 elders from our branch of about 50 to speak for 3-5 min.

Well i'm about out of time! I just got on to set up my account and use my 30 min to send an email while I wait for my laundry to be done in the washing machine! Thank you for your love and prayers! I love and miss you guys and I hope all is going well back home! Happy birthday to Kevin and Keri and happy back to school week!

Love, Elder Wheelhouse