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