Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quedo en Santa Teresita [Staying in Santa Teresita]‏

Hello family and friends!

If you haven´t been counting weeks since my last transfer email, six more weeks have passed by and we recieved notice this last Saturday that Elder Adair and I will be staying together another transfer in Santa Teresita. For the last 2 days we have been here in San Clemente with an Elder whose comp left yesterday to go back to Buenos Aires, and for Pday today they wanted to go to Mundo Marino, so I got to see everything all over again and spent another $79 pesos. Ouch! To make things even better lunch was about $35 pesos (we ended up not even eating) and to add to it all the Orca was apparently having "Technical difficulties", so the Orca/Dolphin show was only the Dolphin show today.

Things have gotten pretty busy here this last week as far as tourists as many people are coming down here to celebrate Semana Santa. Lucky for them the weather has even been clear and sunny and a little bit cooler during the day. Apparently Semana Santa [Holy Week] is a big thing down here, the week leading up to Easter Sunday. The Catholic church is VERY dominant here and I have seen the agenda of the activities they have planned this week that look very different... Also, like in the states there is no shortage of bright colors and easter goodies and one of the biggest things here are these GIANT chocolate eggs that have toys/candy inside. (I will most likely buy one this week and send home some pictures).

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this last week. We had another baptism fall through (José). We found out he is still going to an Evangelist church which he has become attached to because he used to go their with his wife before she died. So he is not ready to give that up yet and we recognize better now that he still doesn´t have the testimony he needs to be baptized. We are continuing to work with him and help him gain/recognize/strengthen his testimony. From now on I will wait until AFTER the baptism actually happens to tell you about baptisms. This week we have been doing lots of contacts trying to find new people to teach which I am learning to enjoy more and more. We´ve had some success but there is still LOTS of work to do.

We had an interesting meeting with our Ward Mission Leader this last week and we are learning more and more every day about some of the problems that there have been in this area in the past. It´s sad to realize how many people get offended over little things enough to weaken their testimony to the point that they won´t go to church anymore. We have worked with several less active families and this last Sunday it was nice to see some of them back in church. But there are lots of hard feelings even amongst the active members that is definitely impacting the work here. I am learning a lot and trying to keep a positive attitude as we keep working with the leaders here to help out in any way we can.

That’s about it for this week... Hope you all have a great Semana Santa, Easter Weekend, Conference Weekend! (o ya... and my birthday)

Les amo,

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, March 22, 2010

Una Buena Semana [A Good Week]

Hello family and friends!

Sorry I´m late writing this. We had a zone activity today in San Bernardo and got back later than we had planned and had to run to our citas [appointments]. Don´t have a lot of time to write, but here is a couple things that happened this week.

This week we set a baptismal date with Jose, one of our progressing investigators we found several weeks ago who recently lost his wife. He has been coming to church regularly and has great faith that his baptism and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost is exactly the help he needs right now. He told us that since he has started talking to us he has begun to understand things better and we have answered many of the questions that he has been thinking about lately. Very amazing to see the joy and hope the gospel has brought in his life. We will be having his baptism this Saturday.

This week we also found a great older couple who are here from Buenos Aires for vacation Julio and Audelina. Very intelligent man, and they seem pretty well off. We found them when we were doing contacts clapping houses. At first they told us they were Catolico Apostolico Romano (almost everyone tells us that, because almost everyone is) but as we were talking they had all kinds of questions so we asked if we could come into their house and talk for a bit. They invited us in and were very attentive and interested in the Book of Mormon. When we went back for the next visit 2 days later they hadn't read what we left them to read (3 Nephi 8-11) but had started reading from the beginning of the book all the way to 1 Nephi 15 saying they didn't want to read anything out of context. We taught them the Restoration and once again they were very receptive and accepting. We invited them to church the next day... and they came even though it was raining! They stayed for all the meetings and participated in all the discussions. Julio said he felt very comfortable, and Audelina was super excited that she had learned something new about the Fall of Adam and that "they weren't just awful sinners after all like they teach in my church". We just finished a lesson with them where we taught the whole plan of Salvation which they understood really well. They always ask GREAT questions, and they have told us many times that these things just feel and seem right. Tonight we told them that these feelings are the Holy Ghost testifying to them that these things are true, and invited them to pray and to ask specifically if what we are teaching is true. We also invited them to be baptized when they receive that testimony which they accepted. Julio said the closing prayer (his first time praying out loud with us, he actually was asked twice in church to say a prayer in the meetings because everyone thought he was already a member) and it´s always amazing to me to hear investigators pray and feel that they are really speaking to our Heavenly Father. We most likely won´t get to see them get baptized, but we are hoping to keep in touch with them as they return home and hopefully continue in the path they are in.

A couple other small things... this week we biked to the edge of our area in Las Toninas doing contacts, then biked all the way back to our pension on the Beach which was actually a lot faster than taking the Road and a lot prettier. :) I was surprised we were the only people out there as the sun went down. I finished the New Testament this morning and am excited to start Jesus the Christ tomorrow morning. I got my second opportunity here to speak in church and it went really well. I spoke on the family and had lots of great experiences and memories that I shared. :)

Anyways I gotta run now! As always thank you for all of you who wrote me and for all your prayers and support. I love you all and can´t wait to hear from you next week!

Les amo,
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hace FRIO (It's COLD)

Mis queridos amigos,

It has been another week here in beautiful Santa Teresita but it´s starting to get very cold! It has been very windy the last couple days and I finally busted out the sleeping bag to put on my bed instead of sleeping with just a sheet. I´m actually looking forward to the cooler temperatures after having 2 summers in a row, but I´ve heard it gets VERY Cold. It´s probably time to buy some sweaters, gloves, and a hat to prepare for the cold nights in the pension. Luckily we have a nice small pension that should keep pretty warm with the 2 electric heaters we have.

Started my week off with my 5 hour bus ride adventure to Capital with Elder Day. We were looking forward to spending the night with Elder y Hna. Fitch, a senior couple from Orem, eating a nice AMERICAN home cooked dinner, sleeping in a nice soft bed, and waking up to pancakes and eggs for breakfast. And it came to pass that when we arrived in Adrogue that their apartment was the ONLY appartment without power, and they decided since they were already going to be arriving home late, they would rather spend the night in the mission home with power. So Elder Day and I went back to the pension of some of the office Elders, ate halls cough drops and coca cola for dinner, and slept on a super hard mattress without a blanket or pillow. (It was nice of them to clean up the room and set the beds up for us.) The next day we headed off to capital to do our documents and it turned out that most of us didn´t even have to do anything. 2 days worth of work and about $400 pesos down the drain. We finished "not doing our documents" early around 11 o clock, so the rest of the group dropped us off at the Bus Terminal in Retiro where we had to wait for our bus that didn´t leave till 3 pm. We walked around and bought some super panchos for lunch (gross hot dogs) then walked down to the port of Buenos Aires where they had a cool Boat show thing with Navy flag ships from a bunch of different countries on display. We did do some contacts and met an awesome member lady throughout the day as well.

This week we also had our interviews with Pres. Asay. The work here has been pretty rough the last several weeks and this week wasn´t much better. We lost another one of my favorite families that we have been teaching for about 2 transfers because he recently lost his job due to the ending of the Temporada and he says he doesn´t have enough time to listen to us. (Obviously there is a bigger problem than just that). After speaking with Pres. Asay about some of the problems we face in our area, he left us to think for ourselves and solve the problem as he always does, but told us to carefully take a look at what we are doing to see the things we need to do to improve. He also gave us the promise that as we testify more in our contacts that we will find more people to teach. Nothing terribly profound, but as always its a great privilege to talk with and learn from him and we are starting to apply what we learned. We did have some success this week working in an area we haven´t worked in much and found a great lady named Ester and have a cita set to go back and meet with her family this wednesday!

We also got to do intercambios with our Zone Leaders so I spent a day in Mar de Ajo/San Bernardo with Elder Alvarado from Panama. He is a great elder and actually reminds me a lot of Lavar Burton from Reading rainbow in the way he talks and acts. It´s always fun doing intercambios to learn different ways of doing contacts and teaching lessons, especially from our leaders who have more time and experience. On most of the intercambios I have been on before I mostly just sat back and observed, but it was nice being able to participate and contribute to the lessons this time. It´s amazing seeing how the spirit can work through you to help people you don´t even know.

Yesterday we had a great Branch Conference but unfortuntaly there wasn´t a very good turnout. We had probably 20 - 25 members who showed up out of the 30-35 who usually come... out of the 200 - 300 that we have records for. There is lots of work to do with less active members here for sure. There were some great messages shared about the importance of everyone working together and "lifting where you stand." Home and visiting teaching here is basically non existant and greatly needed. I also got another chance to teach Gospel Principles and we had a great discussion about Prophets with one of our investigators who were there as well as several other recent converts who are in the class. Elder Adair and I were a little suprised when during Priesthood meeting a delivery man from a local pizzeria showed up with 5 boxes of empanadas that our Branch President had ordered to feed all the district leaders who were staying to have a meeting. (Our Branch President is a convert of about 3 years).

Anyways that´s all for this week! I´m glad to hear everyone is doing well and will be looking forward to hearing from you all again next week!

Les amo,
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hasta Ver Porter Fisher (Until We Meet)

Queridos amigos y familiares,

Definitely not the news I was wanting to hear this week. What can you even say to news like that? I’m convinced there aren’t even words to describe how it feels to lose a son, brother, grandson, friend, etc. especially at such a young age. Porter is an amazing kid and an awesome example for all of us. I have so many great memories growing up with Porter from campout adventures we had to just hanging out at the Fisher house. He was truly a friend to everyone and I don’t think he even had the capacity to have bad feelings towards anyone. Very sad to hear of this tragic accident, and hope you all can pass my love and support on to the Fisher family.

Another tough week here in the Buenos Aires South Mission. The lady that was going to be baptized 2 weeks ago informed us this last week that she will be returning to live in Buenos Aires today (her baptism was rescheduled for this coming Saturday). Luckily she already has friends in the church in her neighborhood and we committed her to find the missionaries and keep preparing for her baptism!

This last week we have also had several of our best investigators drop us. It’s amazing how much and how easy it is to love your investigators and also how much it hurts to see them make wrong decisions and turn away from the gospel. We also dropped several of our investigators who weren´t progressing and had no desires to keep their commitments, and basically we are down to about 5 investigators now. The work is tough, but we are continuing to increase our faith by working hard everyday and doing the best we can. Eventually the blessings will come.

Working with Elder Adair has been a great experience and as with all my companions so far there is a lot to learn from him. He is very bold and direct with people... sometimes to the point of offending people (maybe not such a great thing sometimes). But I have learned a lot from him that I would like to apply throughout my mission. As missionaries we are called to call people to repentance, and sometimes you have to be direct and offend people to do so. We aren’t here to tell people the words they want to hear, we are here to teach people the way God wants us to live, how they can change their lives to live in accordance with His commandments through the Atonement, and the blessings they can receive by doing so. Nephi shows us a great example of being bold in declaring repentance in 1 Nephi 16:1-4

1 And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.
2 And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.
3 And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.

Well that is all for this week. I’m headed off to Capital in a couple hours to do more paperwork to be here legally in the country. Luckily we get to take a nice double decker bus with reclining seats for the 5 hour trip. I think we will be staying the night with a Senior Missionary couple in Adrogue, and make the long trip home tomorrow afternoon.

¡Les amo!

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pruebas (Trials)

Hello family and friends!

Wow I can’t believe it’s March already. Elementary School started here in Argentina today, so most of the tourists have already left for their houses and Santa Teresita is a much different place! News about the earthquake in Chile here is huge. I didn’t feel anything here (I think it happened in the middle of the night), but Elder Adair said he woke up at 3 in the morning when it supposedly happened because he felt like someone was shaking his bed. Our Branch President is in Chile right now, and we got the news Sunday that everything is ok with him. Several missionaries in my zone are from Chile and some of them still haven’t heard from their families. There are definitely a lot of people who are in need of our prayers and faith right now.

It has been a pretty trying week for Elder Adair and I. This Wednesday we had our Zone conference in La Plata. We woke up at 2:45 in the morning to go wait out on the highway for the Convoy that was going to take all of us missionaries from the coast on the 4 hour ride to La Plata. The Convoy was very crowded, and I felt sick the whole ride. We had a great conference and got to listen to the testimonies of several recent converts and hear from Pres. y Sis. Asay, and the Assistants. That night on the way home, Elder Adair and I split up to do an intercambio with our District Leader so he could do our baptism interview with Natividad. I stayed in Dolores with Elder Soto and had my first opportunity acting as a Senor companion... because he is a mini missionary and has only been in the mission for 2 weeks, and is a recent convert of about 15 months. He hardly knows the area and we were very blessed to find the pension and get some sleep after a VERY long day.

The next day, Elder Adair and Elder Montalvo were planning to do the baptism interview and come back to Dolores. Luckily Elder Soto and I had a service project in the morning followed by lunch with a member, very easy. To make a long story short our companions missed the bus and they told us the next bus they could take wouldn’t get to Dolores until 10:30. Elder Soto and I spent the rest of the day wandering around trying to find their teaching appointments (it doesn’t help when almost all the streets change names 3 different times throughout the city.) We did have some success and were able to find a 20 year old girl in the house of one of their investigators who seemed really interested! Our companions finally got to Dolores at around 11 o clock to find out the Baptism interview never happened because Natividad had a talk with her boyfriend and said she couldn’t get baptized anymore. On top of that, Elder Adair and I were lucky enough to get to sleep on the hard tile floor in their pension that night.

The next day Elder Adair and I took the 2 and a half hour bus ride back to our area to find out that our bikes had been stolen from the Bus Terminal. (Perfect timing when I had JUST received the bike pump in your package) Apparently he and Elder Montalvo were in a hurry the night before and decided it would be ok to lock up the bikes to a light post right next to the bus terminal. We had a long walk back to the pension and it has been a little different working the last couple days without bikes because it takes a LOT longer to walk to all our citas. I think we will be doing some bike shopping later today and hopefully we can find something for around 200 pesos. Also, we talked with Natividad again and she has decided that it is more important to do what God wants than what her boyfriend wants, so we took out a fecha for her to be baptized in 2 weeks to make sure she is really ready for it.

We’ve spent the last couple days talking a lot about the importance of trials and what we can learn from these experiences. We are trying to keep a positive attitude and having faith that the blessings will come after the tribulations. (DyC 58:2-5) That’s all for now! Thank you all for your prayers and your support!

Les Amo!

Elder Wheelhouse