Monday, April 26, 2010

April Showers Bring May FROST

Hello family and friends!

Wow, another week in the mission gone. Before you know it I´ll be calling home for Mothers Day! Speaking of which... it just happens to fall on the day before transfers and there is a good chance either me or my companion will be transfered that day which means we will have to go to the bus station right after church and not have time to call home that day... I´ll let you know next week what´s going on if I know anything new.

With the weather, apparently the people’s diets here changes a little bit for the winter and I had a chance to try a "new food" this week called Polenta. Basically it´s like a hot cereal made out of corn that they serve with lots and lots of cheese and other things. (I think it´s kind of like grits) Apparently they eat it a lot during the winter as well as lots of Gizo (stew) and other foods loaded with calories... my companion keeps telling me everyone gets fat in the winter.

This week we lost our ward mission leader Hno. Saica. Apparently something happened between him and the Branch President (who happens to be his son in law) and he was released this Sunday. My companion and I are kind of having mixed feelings about the whole situation, because we have had a hard time working with him, but at the same time he did do a lot to help us. We will try to make the most of the situation we are in now, and hopefully we will make some progress being able to work more freely with the members as well as getting the Branch President more involved in the missionary work here.

All this happened just in time for an activity we were planning to have that Hno. Saica was in charge of. With him being "unofficially" released, the burden fell on us. He wanted us to have a Capilla Abierta (Open house) activity at the church which we agreed would be a good idea. He wanted to have it open from 10 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon, and we said we would try to be there as much as possible but that we might need to come and go to be able to get some work done as well. Being in charge and having handed out invitations all week long that had the hours listed as 10-5 we ended up having to stay at the church the whole time. It could have been a really succesful day if people had shown up. We had all the classrooms set up with the manuals out on tables for people to look around the church. We had primary music playing in the primary room, hymns playing in the relief society room with the baptismal font open, and a movie playing in the kitchen. We also had church movies playing all day long (the testaments, the restoration, legacy, etc.) on the projector in the cultural hall/chapel. During the 7 hours we were there we had good support from the members (several of them stayed the whole time and they brought us some lunch!) but we only had 1 non member that came in the church to look around, and she didn´t even want to give us her address to pass by her house. :( bummer! We even tried waiting outside the church and talking to people in the street to invite them in, but people crossed the street just to avoid even having to walk past us. The church was very cold inside and those of us who were inside were all bundled up and huddled around the heaters.

This Sunday we had our District Pres. as well as one of Pres. Asay´s counselors in our Sacrament meeting who I think came to talk to our mission leader... There were very few people in church this week, and we didn´t have any investigators there either. (José our investigator that is always there every week went to Buenos Aires this week to have his foot looked at) Not having any investigators meant we were off the hook for teaching Gospel Principles, so we enjoyed going to Sunday School and learning from the Old Testament the story about the talking donkey. Another nice surprise, one of the members just happened to bring us lunch today which was a great blessing because it is the end of the month and we are basically out of money and food!

Amongst the interesting events of the weekend, we did have some success as well. We set dates of baptism with 2 of our investigators to be baptized next month! It´s nice to see some people progressing, but we´ll see if I´m even around to see them be baptized!

Anyways, that´s all for this week!

¡Les amo!

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

myldsmail is down

Dear Family and Friends

I can´t get in to myldsmail today so I guess I will just have to use this account. Glad you all have been enjoying some nice weather in Utah! It´s been rainy the last couple days here but luckily it was perfect weather for us golfing this morning. (Unfortunately the mosquitos were also enjoying the nice weather and we got eaten alive!) Don´t have a whole lot of time to write but here are some highlights from the week.

This Tuesday we had our Zone Conference in Villa Gessell w/Pres. Asay. Great meeting, and I had a great interview with him. Our District Pres. Cufre cooked an AMAZING lunch, and the zone sang happy birthday to the 3 of us in our zone that have birthdays during this transfer and gave us each some delicious homemade brownies from Sis. Asay. Several of the messages we heard were based on one of the talks given in conference about how our happiness depends more on our attitude then on our circumstances. I have found this to be very true over the last week and during my time here in the mission!

Thursday we had intercambios with the Zone Leaders. I stayed in our area and we had some great success doing contacts and had some awesome citas. I learned a lot from them and it was fun getting to know them better.

Saturday we were doing contacts in Las Toninas and a lady stopped us in the street and asked us to pass by her house and talk to her son, pretty random, but of course we couldn´t turn her down! We ended up passing by Sunday night and had a great lesson with her 25 year old son Facundo. Seems very interested and was excited to start reading the Book of Mormon.
Sunday I got to speak in church AGAIN. I read Alma 5 this week in my personal study and decided to base my talk on that chapter with the same purpose in mind why Alma spoke those words to his people (see Alma 4:19). I think it turned out pretty good, but if nothing else I learned a lot and enjoyed the experience and inspiration I recieved preparing it. Also Sunday I finished Jesus the Christ and am thinking about starting to read/study the new testament again.

This morning we enjoyed playing 9 holes of golf with our zone leaders and the Elders from San Clemente here at the Golf Course in Santa Teresita. I only lost 3 balls and shot about a 67... felt pretty good for my first time and learned a lot being coached by Elder Hodson.

Anyways, that´s it for this week! Hope you all had and will have a great week!

Les amo,

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, April 12, 2010

Another week under the sun

Querido Family and friends,

Little late writing again, we went to Mar de Ajó for Pday today and got back a little late. We got together with 4 other Elders in our zone (5 elders from the states and 1 from chile) and played some good old American Football and threw a frisbee around on the beach! One of the members from the branch in Mar de Ajó is a huge Green Bay Packers fan, and lucky for us he happened to have a regulation NFL football that he let us use and he came and played with us for a bit too. It felt nice running in the sand barefoot but I cut my toe on a sea shell and we had to be careful not to step on dead jelly fish... there were about 20 in the boundaries of our football field. Couldn´t have asked for more perfect weather. It´s been nice and sunny the last week, probably 65-70 degrees with a nice ocean breeze. :)

This week we spent lots of time doing contacts, not my favorite thing to do, but we are doing all we can to find some more people to teach without much success. We´ve talked with a lot of great people but we have wasted a lot of time going to cita´s we have set with people and them either not being there or being "too busy" to talk to us. Luckily we haven´t come across many more people who are only here for vacation, so the investigators we have found will at least be in the area for a while. :) We have had some success in one of the other cities in our area Las Toninas and make the 30 min bike trip out there 3-4 times a week. We are teaching a great family who are members of la Iglesia Universal, but the hardest part of working in an area so far away is getting people to church!

Also this week we have been working with a less active member who was baptized a month or two before I got here named Oswaldo. He is struggling a lot right now and worried a lot about finding a job and being able to take care of his daughter. On top of that he lives in a house with his Mom and brothers who are Bandistas (very scary religion, they sacrifice animals to spirits and do a lot of bad things...) and there is just a very bad feeling in the house. We are trying to get him to meet with us in the church, but it´s difficult for him to progress if he can´t feel the spirit in his own home. People are so quick to question why God isn´t helping them but are never willing to do the simple things and be obedient to the principles that are going to bless them and eventually help them overcome their problems. It´s amazing the power that comes from reading from the Book of Mormon everyday, praying morning and night, and going to church. Yet there are always a million reasons to not do these simple things.

Our investigator José is still progressing slowly but surely. We are hoping to take out a new baptismal fecha with him this week for the end of the transfer. We are continuing to read the Book of Mormon with him and he keeps coming to church and doing the things he knows are right. Also this week we found an awesome guy named Marcelo. We talked to his wife doing a contact and set a cita to come back to talk to him. He´s 30 years old, and basically told us straight up that Religion is something that´s not important to him right now, but he invited us into his house anyways and we had a great discussion with him. He had some really good questions and I think that a lot of people here aren´t interested in religion because they see so many churches that are the creations of man who are only in it for money and who don´t practice what they preach.

Anyways that´s all for this week! Tomorrow we have Zone Conference and Interviews with Pres. Asay in Villa Gessell, one of the only areas in our zone I haven´t been to. So I´m looking forward to a 2 hour bus ride at 6 tomorrow morning. As always it will be a great opportunity to learn from our leaders and hopefully apply some of the things we learn to have more success in our area! Hope you all have a great week! Pass on a Feliz Cumpleaños to Elder Oviatt for me! Hasta luego.

Les amo,

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, April 5, 2010

¡Una Conferencia Buenisima! [A Very Good Conference!]

Hello family and friends!

I hope you all had a great Easter weekend and enjoyed General Conference as much as I did! We had beautiful weather down here, just like every other Easter that I can remember. The weather here has gotten noticeably colder over the last 3 days and there were lots of toursists that came and went to the beach anyways over this weekend. I didn´t get to see too much of how they celebrate Easter down here, but Friday we did see a big church group (a couple hundred people) walking around the streets with some people dressed up as Roman soldiers who were crowded around another man who was supposed to represent Jesus Christ, waving whips in the air and pushing him along. Also Sunday the Catholic church was wide open and full of people selling baked goods and other easter items. Overall I felt like Easter here is more focused on the Savior and less of a commercial holiday than in the States. I enjoyed my Easter weekend being able to study, share, and listen to the words of the prophets and apostles who testify of our Savior’s incredible life and Atonement.

On Friday I had a great first birthday here in Argentina. We visited a Hermana in our branch Wednesday and she just HAPPENED to ask us when our birthdays were, so when she found out it was my birthday she invited us over for dinner Friday night. We got there a little bit late because we were doing contacts before and ended up talking for a long time with a family of Testigos de Jehova [Jehovah’s Witnesses]. When we got to her house they had made a Happy Birthday sign (in english) and we had a tasty beef/pasta stew and home made meat balls for dinner. We had a great time talking and they even made a delicious birthday cake (Chocolate with strawberries and dulce de leche) and sang to me! To end the night they gave me a little gift and apparently its an Argentine tradition to smash eggs on the back of your head on your birthday... the same number of eggs as how many years you have. but they were nice enough to skip the eggs and just dumped a cup of flour on my head instead. Luckily it was time to be back in the pension anyways because I don´t think it would have been very productive clapping houses all messy like that.. I was very grateful and for the hour and a half we were there it felt almost just as good as being at home!

Lucky for us Santa Teresita is where the District Center is located, so everyone came here to watch conference (including the Elders from Mar de Ajó y San Clemente). They were even nice enough to set up a TV for us in a separate room where we could watch all the sessions in English. Something I thought was really interesting was that we watched all the sessions live... meaning the morning sessions started at 1pm and the afternoon session started at 5pm. Unfortunately it also means we couldn´t go to the Priesthood session which started at 9 and finished at 11. :( I was very disappointed to see how few people showed up to the sessions to watch and that they don´t understand the great opportunity it is to listen to the voice of the prophets and apostles. Between the 3 branches on Sunday there were about 40-50 people, and even worse Saturday there were only 10 or so. I had many people come to my mind as we were watching each of the sessions and it was very sad to realize the people who needed the messages the most were the ones who weren´t there. It was amazing to see how many messages were shared about the families and how the gospel can bless and strengthen them, I wish I could share those messages with all our investigators, members and everyone we talk to! Throughout all the sessions and messages of course I thought about my own family and was very grateful for the obedience and diligence of my parents. Also talking with the other missionaries it hit me just how much these messages apply to us as having our own families isn´t too far in the future. It was also a great strength to me having the spirit testify throughout every sesson that these men and women are truly called of God and these messages were especially inspired for the world to hear in these difficult times.

That´s all for this week! Today being the 2nd Pday of the transfer is our dia de limpieza (cleaning day), so we´ve been working all morning cleaning up the pension and I am looking forward to having some time to relax now! I´d love to hear some of your favorite talks or thoughts from conference!

Les amo,
Elder Ian Wheelhouse