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!
Elder Ian Wheelhouse