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