Monday, February 28, 2011

El Fin de Febrero

Dear family and friends,

Another week gone by here in El Cruce. The news about transfers today is that there is no news. Elder Castro Peña y I will be staying together another transfer. This last transfer was pretty rough with all the moving so we are looking forward to a nice tranquilo transfer y hoping to have some success! We are still having some HOT summer weather, it has been super humid lately. Hope you are all still enjoying the snow! I would love to have some of that down here!

This week I had my second EVER baptism interview that went really well. It was a lady that the Zone Leaders had been teaching named Lucy. We spent 15 min talking with everyone in her 1 bedroom apartment, then headed up to the roof to have a private place to do the interview. It was amazing to see how well prepared she was and how excited she was about her baptism and the gospel. During the interview however something came up about something she had done in the past that she felt she hadn´t truly repented of. I knew that in the case that something like that came up... Pres. Stapley had to do the interview y I couldn´t make any promises as to whether she would be able to get baptized that Saturday or not, which I knew would be very disappointing for her. From that moment on I was praying very hard to know what to say. I don´t remember exactly what we talked about but everything turned out really well and I felt that she had truly repented of what she had done. She told me several times that she had never told ANYONE in her whole life, and it suprised me to see for one that she trusted me, and 2 that she recognized the importance of being honest y prepared for the covenant she was about to make with God. Long story short, she was able to have an interview with Pres. Stapley the next day and got baptized on Saturday!!

Also some very sad news this week that I want to be brief about... but Monday night I got a call at around 230 in the morning from an Elder in my district who was spending the night with 2 other Elders while his comp went to Capital to do documents. He said that one of the Elders had left around 11 to "go to the plaza to sleep" (weird) y that he still hadn´t returned. Even weirder was that his companion let him go like it was nothing bad at all. I called the Zone Leaders several times with no response so I eventually ended up calling the Assistants (felt bad waking them up, but when it´s an EMERGENCY) who in turn called Pres. Stapley. Around 330 the Elder showed up again at the pension, so I was able to get back to sleep at least... but I know there were several people that weren´t so lucky and didn´t sleep at all that night. The next day I got a call saying that the 2 Elders that were involved were on a plane home... which was actually a big shock because one of them was one of my companions several transfers ago.

Anyways, don´t want to end on a sad note.... Yesterday we also had a cool experience. Before leaving the pension to go to church, my companion y I said a prayer that our investigators, by some MIRACLE, would be able to make it to church that day. When we got to the bus stop we were only there a couple minutes before we saw what we thought was an answer to our prayers. A returned sister missionary walking towards the stop with her inactive brother y her non member mom who is a SUPER evangelist! We had a cita with them the night before and we were thinking MAYBE something we had shared had her interested in coming to church with us. Turns out she was actually headed to a conference at her church... Little disappointing, but we didn´t give up hope. As we were greeting everyone arriving to Sacrament meeting we found that an Hermana had brought one of her friends to church that day, so we were able to talk with her a bit, as well as the daughter of another family who brought her boyfriend who we have recently started to teach! Truly an answer to our prayers. They both enjoyed the church y couldn´t have been a more perfect topic on the talks talking about the Family y preparing for the future.

Anyways, that´s all for this week. I love you all and hope you have a great week! Thank you for all your prayers and support!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, February 21, 2011

Buenas Tardes de "la Plaza de Miserere"

Dear family and friends,

Ok so if the title made you think we already had transfers... SUPRISE! Actually transfers are not till next week. But today I am writing from downtown Buenos Aires from the train station "el Once"! I actually spent the day in the Buenos Aires West mission boundaries with Elder Jeldes from Chile. He is going home next week and got permission from Pres. Stapley to make a trip to "Ituzaingo" to visit his grandpa y for some reason Pres. didn´t want him to go with his companion... so he invited me! We left early this morning y had a long trip in bus, subway, and train, in areas that neither of us knew anything about. Luckily we arrived ok y had a great visit with his Grandpa and Aunt who aren´t members y ate some very tasty Asado for lunch. I´m pretty sure we were offered just about every drink that is against the word of wisdom.... but ended up enjoying a nice bottle of lemon lime soda. :) Great people!

This week has been very complicated, but the good news is we FINALLY got moved in to our new Pension! It is the nicest one I have lived in yet y hopefully I will be able to stick around to enjoy it for a while! We did meet a couple of our "neighbors" y could possibly have some opportunities to teach them. Our new address for those who want to look it up on google maps... Dardo Rocha 548, Berazategui, Buenos Aires. Very clean, great shower :), we have a great super market across the street and we live very close to the majority of our members y investigators! My companion is very content to finally be moved into the new place after all the work he has done the last 4 months, but a little bummed to realize that next week he could get transferred to a different area!

Overall pretty rough week. We were both pretty discouraged y EXHAUSTED from the moving. Luckily we have some great investigators that kept us motivated to leave each day to work! Yesterday we had Dario in church again. This time he stayed for ALL the meetings. We went with him to the Young Single Adults class. (A girl in our ward actually just got back from spending the last 3 months or so with her sister in Salt Lake, so it was fun to talk to someone in English first of all, but also being able to talk about Utah! I´m not homesick I promise!) But Dario really seemed to enjoy the classes and participated a lot. I think everyone was suprised to discover that he wasn´t a member. We had a lesson about miracles y he shared that it was a miracle that he was there in the church after finding his family who he hadn´t seen for 24 years and how everything worked out perfectly for him to be there. His original baptism date was for this Saturday... 26 Febrero, but he wants a little more time y we still have a lot we need to teach him.

Anyways family, good to hear from all of you this week. Keeping plenty busy as usual y being GREAT at all you do! Hope you all have a great week!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, February 14, 2011

¡Feliz día de los enamorados! pobres misioneros...

Dear family and friends,

Well... the summer heat is back unfortunately, at least for a couple more weeks. I guess I will just have to try to enjoy it while I can. Still not moved into our new place yet either but we got a call from the offices this week saying the papers finally went through and we should be moving in in the next couple of days. How FUN! We recently got back from our Zone Activity today. We had planned to play some sports on the "beach" a.k.a. the shores of Rio de la Plata (I could almost see Uruguay) but we got there to find that it was high tide and the beach was full of water (and DISGUSTING WATER at that). BUMMER!

This week started off GREAT. Monday night we had a great appointment with Dario. We talked about the Restoration y Baptism and invited him to be baptized on the 26th of February. We have a lot to teach in that period of time, but he is very prepared y understands really well the importance of recieving an answer from God for himself if the things that we teach are true. At the end of the lesson he told us that it is not just coincidence that he found his family y we found him at the same time. We are keeping frequent contact with him y were a little sad when we found out he would be staying with his adopted family in Quilmes for the weekend and wouldn´t be able to make it to church Sunday. But to our suprise on our way to the church that morning we saw him with his family just getting off the bus.

Tuesday and Wednesday morning I spent in "Platanos" again doing an intercambio with Elder Sanchez. He and his companion are still not getting along, and everything I had heard told me Elder Sanchez was causing the problems. Tuesday morning after district meeting the zone leaders and I had a little sit down with him to hear his side of the story. The intercambio was also a great opportunity to see how well he works in his area and to get to know him a little better. We actually had a really successful day, and I enjoyed working with him. I found that he is a really good Elder who is trying to do what he is supposed to. At the same time he does have several issues that make it a little hard for him to get along with people... We talked a little more about the situation with his companion and I tried to help him figure out a way that he could finish off the transfer in the best way possible. Hopefully things will get a little better! On top of that today I found out that one of the other companionships in my district is having some major problems y almost got into a fight last night... so on top of moving this week I imagine I will have to do something about that. I am sure there is plenty to learn from all of this, but it can sure be discouraging sometimes!

Saturday we had a nice long service project. A week or so ago we were walking down the street when a guy out in front of his house painting some boards called us over to talk to him. He said "Finally the Elders came to my house to visit me!" After talking a little bit we found out that his mom is a member in a different Stake. We offered to help him with the painting or if he needed help with anything else and he told us that if we wanted to do some work we could come back on Saturday to help him build something. We set an appointment for Saturday morning bright and early y showed up right on time to find that he was still sleeping! After about 45 min of waiting for him to wake up y get dressed y drink his mate, we got to work. I got my hands all blistered up pretty good swinging a pick around y shoveling dirt to poor a big concrete pad in front of their house. We had a great chat getting to know him and he had several questions about the church as well. He has his wife y 4 kids... a 7 month old baby, 2 year old daughter, 4 year old son, and a 10 year old daughter. (See foto) Apart from his family, almost the whole family of his wife lives in the same house (parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc.) y we are looking forward to passing by again soon y having a good chat with them!

Yesterday we had Stake Conference which was fantastic. We had 3 investigators show up that we weren´t expecting at all! Dario, the father of a girl who sings in the stake choir who we have been working with, and an investigator that I still dont know who recently returned from vacation in the coast. There were some great investigator friendly messages talking about Testimony y about how the Gospel blesses families. I think just about every single person there got up to go to the bathroom at least once at some point during the 2 hour conference. A little distracting... but we were able to talk with our investigators afterwards and they all said they had really enjoyed the messages that were shared y the music.

Well, thank you to all of you who wrote me this week! and as always to all of you for your prayers! Hope you all have a fantastic week and a happy Valentines day!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, February 7, 2011

18 meces (18 months)

Dear family and friends,

Sounds like some exciting stuff happened this last week! I continue to hear stories from everyone here about how much it has been snowing in the United States.... any of that happening in Utah? We have enjoyed some cooler weather here these last couple days and it seems like the hot summer weather should be coming to an end pretty soon. The mornings and evenings are nice and cool but it can still get pretty hot during the day. Another week gone by with no place to call home! Still no news on when we will be able to move into our new pension.

This week we had interviews with Pres. Stapley. The mission is focusing a lot in Obedience right now and he shared some great scriptures with us. Romans 5:19 y 1 Timothy 3:12-16. We also actually spent a good part of time in my interview talking about a companionship issue in my district that is getting out of control. :S Tomorrow afternoon Pres. asked that the Zone Leaders and I have a chat with this particular Elder to try to understand better why he is doing the things he is doing. I have never been one that likes to correct people, but I think the most important will just be to listen y try to understand his point of view and offer some counsels in a kind, loving way. Apparently he didn´t respond well even to Pres. Stapley, so hopefully we will be inspired to find the best way to help him enjoy and have success in the mission.

We also had some pretty interesting teaching experiences this week. We visited an inactive member family who absolutely LOVES the missionaries y is always talking about how Missionary Work is the best thing the church has. The father has some SERIOUS word of wisdom problems. I´m pretty sure he smoked a whole box of cigarettes just in the hour or so we were visiting with them as well as downing a bottle of beer. He doesn´t want anything to do with the church and told us we could pass by to visit but that he doesn´t want us sharing ANYTHING or inviting them to do anything with the church. They actually invited us to stay for dinner y he actually didn´t have any problem with us blessing the food and he even said the closing prayer. He has 2 daughters who aren´t members y they seem to get along really well as a family, but could be doing SO MUCH better with the gospel in their lives. I imagine we will pass by one or 2 more times to see if there is any chance of possibly sharing a message with them, but if not we can´t afford to continue passing by.

On Tuesday we contacted a reference we recieved last week of a guy named Marcelo who apparently gave the other missionaries the address to his work. We got to the work site y someone must have a) seen how confused we looked and b) known exactly what we wanted, because they came up and asked if we were looking for Marcelo. Not at all what I was expecting, a big 6´4¨guy who looks like he could be a professional football player y who speaks really well in english. They called him over and we talked for a minute before he excused himself to finish loading up a big dump truck with sand before his lunch break. We had a good talk with him and got to know him a little bit, and he even drove us in his car to our lunch cita that we were running late for. He seems more interested in practicing English with us than anything else (he is planning to go to the UK to study) but apparently he is married y sounds like he has a great family! We set a cita with him to have an English discussion in the church on Saturday which ended up falling through, but we have been in contact and he gaves us his address and invited us over to his house this week.

This week we also visited Darío a couple times, y he is turning out to be one of the best/most prepared investigators I have seen in my whole mission! He told us a bit more of his story, how he had been living with an adopted family his whole life and recently made contact with his biological father who lives in our ward. It is very obvious that his adopted family is very well off, y he told us that he never felt like he fit in with his adopted family y never felt loved. His fathers family is almost the complete opposite, a very large, humble family, but he said that in these 3 weeks that he has known them, even though a bit awkward at first, he has felt accepted and loved more than any other time in his life. Almost the whole family are members of the church y even though they are less active, he has seen first hands the blessings of having a family who lives and follows gospel principles. He has already picked up the habit of praying and everything we teach he understands perfectly. He is already making good progress on the Book of Mormon y well on his way to recieving a testimony! The only downside is that he is only at their house on the weekends y he is planning to go study to be a policeman starting in March. This evening we are hoping to visit him and set a baptismal date for the end of this month!

Delio also is doing really well. Still working on the whole marriage issue. He is from Paraguay and doesn´t have Argentine documents so it could be a little harder than we had thought originally. He continues to come to church and is more than ready to be baptized. Yesterday he even got up and bore his testimony about prayer in Sacrament meeting! Noemi also finally came (his member girlfriend) as well as their 3 kids Cristian (7), Juakin (4) y Milagros (5 months). Sure a handfull!

Last night I also talked with Elder Alvarez and got some news from Wilde! Apparently they had an emegency transfer y he has been with his new companion for about a week now. They are also looking for a new pension (finally!) but are finding that everything in Wilde is VERY EXPENSIVE, suprise surpise. Apparently a lot of the members are on vacation... but some exciting news... Marcos y Soledad are planning to get married on February 28th!!!! I imagine they will be baptized that following weekend and I am hoping to get permission to go to their baptism considering it is relatively close (7 train stations, we also have several buses that go to Wilde!) He seems to be happy and having some success in the area which of course left me feeling pretty content as well.

Anyways family, thats all for this week! Hope you all have a Happy Valentines day and I am looking forward to hearing from you all next week! As always thank you for your prayers in behalf of all of us here in Argentina!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse