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