Monday, January 31, 2011

La Primera Mudanza (the first move)

Dear family and friends,

Wow another week gone by, and a very BUSY one at that! The good news is that we finally got moved into a new place that has running water y a roof without holes! Unfortunately... it will only be a temporary fix. We got a call on Thursday from the Elder in charge of all the apartments y contracts, etc. who told us we would need to move out immediately because the contract expires TODAY. He told us we would need to move in with the Elders from Berazategui who live about 30 blocks away, which is nice because it is about 3 blocks from the church! But at the same time it will be tough y expensive having to take buses just to get to our area every day! We spent the rest of the weekend packing everything up, cleaning, and unfortunately wasting a lot of time WAITING for the moving truck to come. We did have some help from a couple members, but it was a lot of work and a BIG distraction from our investigators y everything. Hopefully the contract goes through for our new pension soon so we can move again and not have to worry so much about things that arent important to the work!

Things are really good in the new pension, a bit crowded, but it is nice being able to shower, wash dishes, etc. without any problems! We only set up 1 bed for lack of space y I just throw the other mattress on the ground at night and sleep on the floor. We live with 2 other Elders. Elder Jeldes from Chile y Elder Monsalva from San Luis, Argentina. Elder Jeldes goes home this transfer and Elder Monsalva is actually a new Elder who is serving here in this mission while he waits for his passport to go to the Tijuana, Mexico Mission. It is a bit of a challenge living with 4 elders in a pension... mornings are super crazy with everyone trying to get showered y ready to study y nights are crazy because we start talking y don´t get to sleep until very late. But it has overall been a good experience y I am learning a lot from all of them!

We lost a lot of working time this week, I hardly had ANY working time in my area because I had to do an "intercambio" with some Elders in my district who are having companionship issues. I spent most of Tuesday y Wednesday in "Platanos" with Elder Atwood from Idaho who also goes home this transfer. Monday we had a Noche de Hogar (FHE) with a less active family in our ward who is starting to come back to church.

Things were pretty crazy from the very beginning. The 2 older kids came late because their dad forgot to pick them up from the pool so they had to walk y were a little angry about that. My comp and I had prepared a lesson about love in the home which almost back fired completely! We had them all write "nice letters" to each other, which ended up being not so nice, but they all ended up laughing about it at least... I could tell the mom was getting really frustrated because the kids and the dad were not behaving at all. Luckily I was able to relate with her a little bit and told her that I felt very at home with them because things got pretty crazy sometimes in our Family Home Evenings but the most important was that we were together as a family and that with time they would get better. We assigned the oldest son to prepare the lesson for next week (today) y we will see how it turns out! Hopefully we can help them get in the habit of doing it every week!

Anyways, sorry that is all for this week... I am getting a headache from breathing in the smoke of the guy sitting next to me.... that's 2 weeks in a row! :S Hope you all have a great week! Love you!

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, January 24, 2011

Barrio "El Cruce"

Dear Family y Friends,

It has been a great first week here in El Cruce. For those who are interested in finding me on google maps... the city we live in is called Berazategui, Buenos Aires y our direction is Calle 14 #1435 for now. As you can see it isn´t too far from Wilde! Berazategui is actually a pretty nice place, not as rich as Wilde. However, unlike Wilde the authorities have been able to restrict the construction of Villas leaving nicer neighborhoods with paved streets almost everywhere. Luckily it is very tranquilo y it seems to be a very successful area! I have pretty much learned the area already, what a genius idea and truly a blessing to have NUMBERED STREETS! We share a church with the ward of Berazategui which happens to be the Stake Center. VERY NICE building! Also has a center for institute, church history, employment services, etc.! The ward is similar in size to Wilde as far as I could see yesterday and there were about 90-100 people there in total. Meetings start at 10 in the morning y we are back to what for me is a "normal" schedule with Sacrament meeting first just like at home!

We are still waiting on some papers to go through to move into our new pension. I really like where we live, its close to everything and it is a very BIG apartment for the 2 of us. We have 3 bedrooms a big living room where we have weights a big kitchen y dining area y a nice balcony out back. A couple adventures from this week as far as the pension... We have been without running water all week long. The only water we have is from a faucet we have downstairs at the entrance where we fill up buckets of water to meet all our water needs. I have mastered the art of showering with cup fulls of water from a pot of water heated on the stove. Believe it or not it actually beats the shower we had in Wilde. Also this week I humbled myself enough to wash my own clothes by hand y enjoyed it so much I did another load this morning before leaving the pension! It actually doesn´t take much work (except for hauling buckets of water up the stairs!) or time y should save me a couple bucks as well! We also enjoyed a big rainstorm this week and like I said there is a hole in the ceiling in one of the bedrooms. What I failed to express is the SIZE of the hole because it honestly looks like a full grown man fell from the sky and through our roof (it actually doesnt go all the way through the roof however, so I have to think up some other theory for how it got there). When the storm hit it was basically raining inside as well, but luckily we have a good sized swimming pool strategically placed to catch the water y debree that continues to fall... We have basically abandoned that room y luckily it doesnt even effect us.

My companion is AWESOME! It has been a big blessing having 3 Argentine companions in a row y yes it has helped my spanish y learning about the culture a lot! He actually speaks very good english which he has mostly learned in the 4 months he has been in the mission. I think he will have it mastered by the end of his mission because he is not afraid to talk y is always practicing every where we go! He is pretty much a genius too y comes from a well educated family. His father is a psychologist y his mom is a psychiatrist. He has a great way of talking with people y is a great teacher! I am looking forward to learning a LOT this transfer! It is amazing how well he knows the doctrine after only 2 years of being a member. I admire him a lot for the faith he has in being the only member of his family, with parents who didn´t want him to come in the first place, all because he has a testimony that the church is true. It is always nice to have a companion who is a convert as well because they are able to relate so well with the investigators! He has a great conversion story as well I will have to tell you all later!

My new district is very awesome as well. It is a bit harder being district leader of a large district (4 companionships) y takes a lot of time each night doing verifications and checking in with them and even LONGER on Sundays passing all the numbers. In my district I have the Zone Leaders from "Quilmes II" - Elder Nalder from Washington (my old district leader in Wilde, STUD!) and Elder Mortensen from my MTC district. Also in "Platanos" Elder Atwood from Idaho who goes home this transfer with Elder Sanchez from Peru. Also "Quilmes IV" Elder Pulgar from Chile y Elder Bica/Prantl from Uruguay! Great group of Elders! This week I am looking forward to doing 2 intercambios... one with Platanos tomorrow and then on Thursday with the Zone leaders to do another baptismal interview. Could be a very interesting week because I imagine we will be moving sometime this week as well!

The work here is going really well also. The ward is great y it seems like the majority of the members are very involved in missionary work here. We have a GREAT ward mission leader y GREAT bishopric who help us a lot which makes a huge difference. This week I was able to meet the majority of our investigators as well as several member families (inactive y active). We set a solid baptismal date with one of our investigators named Delio who FINALLY went this week to set a marriage date with his girlfriend Noemi who is a member. He is very ready to be baptized y we are excited to keep working with him as well as the family of Noemi who are all members who have been inactive for a long time. He came to church alone yesterday even after taking a wrong bus y having to take a weird route to get there... luckily he left PLENTY early y got to church only 10 minutes late. We also found a new investigator in church yesterday named Dario. Very interesting story, he is actually the son of a member family in our ward but somehow was abandoned or adopted when he was a baby y hadnt ever met his real family before. He was living in Quilmes with an adopted family I assume. But this last week he decided he wanted to find his real family y showed up at their house one day. He is 24 years old y actually pretty much lives by the standards of the church without ever having heard anything about our church before! He doesn´t smoke, drink, go dancing, rob, or anything! We were very excited to talk with him and are looking forward to having a FHE with the family this Wednesday. The other success this week is an all to rare occurance. We had 3 inactive families that we visited this week who came back to church for the first time in months yesterday! What a great feeling to see them all there! Hopefully that step of faith will give them the boost they need to become active again! This ward, like all wards has its share of problems, etc. y yesterday in Sacrament meeting an Ex Bishop of the ward who also went inactive for a while gave a great talk about the importance of not getting offended. Great message which was perfect for the families who were there that really helped them realize that when they go inactive because they are offended the only people they really punish are themselves y God. Of course being my first Sunday in the ward I also got a chance to present myself y bear my testimony which I always enjoy!

Well everyone thats it for this week! Hope it fills you in a bit about my new area! Cant wait to hear from you all soon! les amo!

Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

¡Hasta Luego Wilde!

Dear family and friends,

The time has finally come to say goodbye to Wilde y I must admit I am sad to be leaving! At the same time I am very excited to be going to my new area "El Cruce" (Cruz Varela) in the Stake of Quilmes with my new companion Elder Castro Peña from Cordoba, Argentina! How lucky to have 3 Argentine companions in a row! He is the only member in his family y was baptized almost 2 years ago. Seems like a GREAT missionary y has the same time in the mission as Elder Alvarez. Also speaks quite a bit of english so it will be fun to practice y help him with that! Also looking forward to an AWESOME new district. We will be 4 companionships total including the Zone Leaders... fun fun! Apparently the pension in our area has some problems (hole in the roof... no water) but we will be moving to a new pension sometime this week. Looks like I wont even get to do much unpacking today! Bummer!

It has been a good last week here in Wilde. We have had some pretty crazy weather y a couple disappointments, but overall it went really well. Monday night was my last Noche de Hogar with the Familia Romero... y they ended up not even being there! bummer! Tuesday we had our last district meeting y took a Zone Picture. That night we had a cita with a member family that is passing through some tough times. The mom y 3 daughters left the house and have been living with one of her sisters in Avellaneda for the last month or so y wont even talk to the father. The father isnt great healthwise y is out of work y his son Facundo (17) cant find work either. His other daughter Pamela (20) who is also living with him is the only one who has a job, but just recently started working again after a break for the holidays y wont have money for several weeks. He told us they had nothing y that they hadnt eaten anything but mate cocido for 2 days, y that they didnt even have gas anymore to run the stove. My companion y I were suprised that the ward hadnt done anything, because he had come to us before telling us his problems and we told him that there isnt much we can do as missionaries to offer temporal help. After leaving my companion and I talked about the situation y decided to help a little bit and at least give them a days worth of good sustaining food... rice, floud to make tortas fritas, etc. It felt good to be able to help them but at the same time it is a complicated situation y after talking with some ward leaders realized that maybe its better to let them "learn how to fish instead of just giving them the fish when they want it." Apparently the Hermano has a bit of a history but hopefully we were able to help in some way.

Friday we had a Ward Activity y had several investigators come with us (Soledad y familia, Adan, etc.). It was a great opportunity for them to see that in the church we do fun things too and are normal people! There was food (pizza) y we watched Toy Story 3 outside on a projector. (It was sure fun setting up the projector and everything.) Earlier in the day there was some rain y wind but that evening was PERFECT to be outside y enjoy the nice summer air. It even was nice and COOL with a fresh breeze once the sun went down.

Saturday night we got the transfer call around 1130 y I spent most of the evening organizing my things to make it easier to pack the next day. Church went great on Sunday. Marcos came with Soledad y kids for the 2nd time in a row! I am sure going to miss them! The meetings all went great. Elder Alvarez taught a great class on Sacrifice in Priesthood y we had a great lesson about Jesus Christs role as our Savior in principles of the gospel. Sacrament meeting was very interesting with several changes in the bishopric y elders quorum presidency... several changes that I think will make a BIG difference in the work in Wilde for the better! Very grateful to meet so many great people here y learn from their examples y for the opportunity I have had as well to share my testimony y the happiness the gospel has brought in my life! Took LOTS of pictures with everyone at church and made several visits in the afternoon to say goodbye. Sad to leave but hope to see everyone here in Wilde again before going home... and if not there is always facebook. :)

Anyways, it is time for me to finally leave Wilde, we spent the afternoon here because it wasnt worth it to haul my luggage around all day when we have to pass through here to get to my new area anyways. Looking forward to hearing from you all next week y cant wait to tell you all about my new area!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, January 10, 2011

Otro traslado ha pasado [Another transfer has passed]

Dear family y friends,

Wow hard to believe another transfer has gone by, y it is sad to think this could be my last week here in Wilde! I hope you all had a fantastic week y are continuing to enjoy the cold weather. :) Things have actually cooled down a bit this week with several small rainstorms, but when the sun comes out after a nice cool rain it always gets very muggy with the humidity! Our little floor fan we have in the pension to keep us cool also bit the dust this week, but luckily we were able to get permission from the offices to buy a new one y replaced it that same day with a much better one. :) There are only 2 companionships in the whole mission that I know of that enjoy the luxury of having air conditioning in their apartment... the assistants to the President, y the Elders of Tomas Flores here in Avellaneda. The mission has definitely helped me appreciate the comforts of home!

A couple interesting things from this week:

The second counselor of the bishopric here in Wilde (Hno. Juan Esponda) announced several times in each of the meetings yesterday that he will be remarrying in March this year. He is 83 years old, but it is amazing the energy y strength he has. He recently returned from a 4 month vacation in Europe where he went to the dedication of a temple in Italy (I think) and also courted his future wife "Tita" who is actually the mother of an hermana here in Wilde that lives in España. He expressed his love y gratitud to the Lord for the blessing y happiness this has brought to him at this time in his life, y that he never imagined it would happen.

Other exciting news... they announced yesterday that the temple here in Buenos Aires will be re opened starting in October or November of this year! Bummer I wont be around to see it, but it will be a great blessing to the members here who have spent the last 2 years without having a temple close by to visit. (Several wards have made trips to the temple in Uruguay, but its an expensive trip lots of members couldn't afford) Hope to be able to come back y visit the temple someday since I have only been able to see it from outside.

Yesterday we had several investigators in church... including Soledad y her 2 sons that always come, but also her "husband" Marcos came for the first time!! She is still very happy y excited about the church y its amazing to see the testimony she has gained. She has also become a HUGE strength y influence for the rest of her family. On Thursday when we passed by their house we asked Marcos if he was still planning to come to church on Sunday, because earlier in the week he told us he was going to. He acted like he didn't know what we were talking about y came up with something about how he was going to be busy doing stuff, but before we could even say anything Soledad jumped in y basically told him that he WOULD go to church this Sunday. After the meetings walking with them out to the car, without even asking what he thought, Marcos told me that he really enjoyed the meetings. He is hard to read sometimes because he is more quiet/reserved, but also he is very honest y says things how they are. Hopefully these experiences will help him see the blessings that they can receive by getting married y baptized ASAP!

ALSO, we taught their family several weeks ago about Tithing, y of course talked about the blessings y promises in the scriptures that come from living the law of the Tithe. Instead of the typical questions we get like "why do i have to give money to the church? etc., Soledad asked a question I have never heard before.... "Do you have to be baptized to be able to pay tithing?" Basically blew me and my companion away y we didn't know how to respond. We explained that when you are baptized is when you are responsible for paying your tithing, but didn't know if it was POSSIBLE to pay tithing without being a member. Anyways, that same week was when her son Lautaro (9 years old) got baptized, y this week for the first time he paid "his" tithing. The first counselor came up to us after the meetings y asked what we had taught the family about tithing... because turns out that Lautaro had paid $200, and at 9 years old we are pretty sure hes not raking in $2000 pesos. We were all amazed by the faith y desires that the family has to pay their tithing y receive the blessings the Lord has prepared for them.... y also the creative way Soledad found to pay her tithing without being a member. The counselor Hno. Espinola who is a good friend of the family said he wants to have a talk with them to make sure they understand that they are not required to pay tithing until they are baptized, but also to praise them for their great faith y desires to obey the Lord.

Anyways, that is all for this week. This afternoon I will have a bit more time to send some pics etc because our time was cut short this morning. Next week I will have news about transfers y everything! Cant wait to hear from you all soon! As always thank you so much for your thoughts y prayers in the behalf of all of us here in Argentina y missionary work in all he world!!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bienvenidos 2011 :)

Dear family y friends!

¡Tanto tiempo! Hope you all had a great weekend y that all you students are enjoying being back in school. Every one here is always super excited to tell me about how cold it is in the USA from what they see on the news etc, so hopefully you are all staying warm y staying safe in the crazy weather! Still nice y warm down here, but I think they are expecting some rain in the near future. Hard to believe I will be coming home this year 2011!!! The only song that came to mind this New Years with much added meaning as I was looking through my limited playlist was "I´ll be home for Christmas". That being said I have greatly enjoyed my holiday seasons here in Argentina y there is definately nothing like the Holidays in the mission!

It has been an interesting last couple of weeks with all the schedule changes due to the holidays, but its nice to have things back to normal now! New Years went really well here! We had to be in the pension early Friday night y we ended up doing some much needed cleaning. I think we killed every cockroach y spider in the room where we sleep y study... y did some rearranging. It took us the better part of the evening, about 4 hours, but it is sure nice to have it all clean y organized. More space too. :) Of course this probably means that 2 weeks from now when transfers come around I will most likely be sent to another very messy pension y have to start all over with the cleaning/organizing. Seems to always happen that way! The landlords made us some delicious food before they went off to celebrate with the neighbors, but unfortunately left us with their annoying dog who went CRAZY during the fireworks. After cleaning we climbed up on top of the roof around 1130 to watch the fireworks. Got some good pictures.

The next day we ended up going to Avellaneda for Pday to have a little party with the other Elders in the Zone. We played some soccer y had a little barbeque. All the other companionships bought frozen hamburger patties... and my companion y I were the only REAL men who bought ground beef y made our own patties. :P We also enjoyed some tasty ice cream y watched "Buscando a Nemo" in the nice air conditioned church. :) Of course not the same as watching it in English, the jokes aren´t the same. But some ended up being funnier than the english equivelant. Needless to say we all had some good laughs. We found out that we werent aloud to work that evening which was a little frustrating since we had several citas planned y last week they told us we were going to have to work. O well, we enjoyed another evening relaxing in the pension y I enjoyed the time to catch up on my journal, write some letters, reflect on the year, y think of some goals for this year.

Sunday was great but there were lots of disappointments. We left early in the morning to pass by Estela y family to accompany them to the church. When we got to the house all the doors y windows were closed y no one answered when we clapped. We also tried calling several of her kids cell phones with no answer. Also Soledad y here family are on vacation for the weekend so they werent in church either. First week in a LONG time where we didn´t have a single investigator in church. :S Great testimony meeting. I ended up having to play the piano again. For me it is always very sad sitting in sacrament meeting and always having the names of several families or individuals who I wished were there with us. Hope to see some fruits of the new 15 family rescue plan that they are recently starting to put into practice in all the wards here. Apparently it came straight from Pres. Monson y we have had several trainings on how it is supposed to work, but a lot of it depends on local leaders who until now haven´t received the same training or just havent seemed to put forth much effort to do anything about it.

After church yesterday we passed by to visit Estela y her family again. Apparently they were all just very tired y didn´t hear our clapping y all their phones happened to be turned off... We had a good chat with them, but they still arent really consistent with the reading y praying. We ended up reading Alma 37 with them, which has become one of my favorite chapters in the mission! I could go off y talk about why I love it and the things I have learned from reading it, but even better than that I invite all of you to read it sometime during this week y find out for yourself! :) Lots of great promised blessings for scripture study y prayer! We talked with them a little bit about those blessings y how it can help them with their Word of Wisdom problems y they all commited to read y pray this week. They are great people y have desires to do what is right. They have accepted the invitation to be baptized, just lack keeping some important commitments y going to church!

Anyways, thats all for this week (Weekend). Hope you all have a great week! I love you and can´t wait to hear from you soon!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Saturday, January 1, 2011

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! (Y feliz cumpleaño mama)

SUPRISE!!! Another weird week as far as Pdays go. Tomorrow is actually our official Pday, but we got permission to write home today because the Cybers most likely won’t be open tomorrow. We have Pday AGAIN on Monday, and from then on things should be back to normal! Feels a little weird writing mid-week especially after we just talked on Saturday. Feels like there is not much to say, and I imagine it will be the same on Monday since it is only a weekend away! But thank you for the Christmas pictures and for your emails! Hope you all enjoyed a great Christmas and have a fantastic New Year!

This past week has been SUPER HOT! Luckily it hasn’t rained in a while so things aren’t too humid, but our pension is an OVEN and all we have is a little fan to cool us down! A lot of our investigators are out on vacation or busy preparing things for the holidays, so we have been clapping a lot of houses in the hot sun without much success. Luckily we were able to visit Soledad y her family before they left for vacations this weekend y they are all doing really well! Lautaro was baptized 2 weeks ago y had the whole family there for the baptism! Ever since that day, Marcos (the dad) has become a lot more interested in what we have to share y says he wants to see what has the rest of his family so happy y excited. We were able to teach him the Restoration and watch the first vision DVD with the whole family and he accepted the invitation to read y pray to know if it is true. Talking with Soledad several days after she told us they are saying their prayers together y reading at night and also always pray before meals, leaving the house, etc.!

Estela y her family are also doing really well! We recently taught them the Word of Wisdom, y they have a couple problems with smoking, etc., but they really want to quit! They all committed to come to church this weekend. We promised them that the spiritual strength they need to be able to give up these addictions will come through consistent study and fervent prayer, and of course we offered to help in whatever way we could. Invited them to set some goals to quit NOW. Still working towards making the baptismal date on the 15 of January! Great family!

Anyways, sorry this is super short, we still need to run a couple errands to get stuff ready for the New Years Barbeque we are going to have with the rest of the zone tomorrow morning. Looking forward to hearing from you all on Monday! Have a great weekend!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse