Monday, March 28, 2011

Last General Conference in the Mission!

Dear family y friends,

The fall weather here is just about as unpredictable as fall in Utah. One day it will get pretty hot, and the next day freezing cold. I am still preferring the COLD weather, y I think all this back y forth hot cold hot cold with the weather has me coming down with a bad cold. :( Hot, cold, rain, wind, sickness, tiredness... the work must go on! y overall we had a really busy, but satisfying week!

Started off the week good Tuesday morning with a Zone Breakfast before we had district meeting. We all got together in the church y the zone leaders cooked us waffles y french toast. First time in 19 months that I have eaten waffles... y they sure were tasty! Instead of messing with trying to make maple syrup like last time we got together, we ended up just putting Dulce de Leche on everything which was very tasty anyways. :) This week it was my turn for the first time in 4 weeks to teach the workshop in District Meeting... y it actually went really well. The Assistants to President Stapley were there y Elder Cockriel came to be with my district. Everyone participated really well y I enjoyed the discussion y learned a lot as well!

I actually spent several days outside of my area this week doing intercambios with the 2 companionships in my District. They actually both work in the same city y share the biggest ward in the Stake of Quilmes. Tuesday after district meeting Elder Knowles y I went back to his area. They have had a rough past couple of weeks y have been companions in the same area for almost 4 and a half months. (Very long time to be with the same companion...) I actually knew Elder Knowles a little bit beforehand since we were in the same zone in Avellaneda, but this was my first chance to get to work with him y it was fun getting to know him a little better. We had a really good experience contacting a reference from another area where they give us the name and address of someone who is interested in listening, y any other details they feel like including. In this case, the person we found happened to live at the same address y have the same name... but was NOTHING like the description they gave us. She told us she had never talked with missionaries before y hadn´t ever heard much about the church. We talked with her for a minute outside her house y just as we were about to leave her husband got home from work y invited us in to talk. We had a great chat with them about the Book of Mormon y they seemed really excited to learn more. Wednesday around lunch time we switched back with our companions y I spent the afternoon working in our area.

Early Thursday morning it was off to Gutierrez again to work with Elder Gonzalez, and to do several baptismal interviews they were needing for this Saturday. I also knew Elder Gonzalez right when he got to the mission when I was serving in the Coast y he was being trained in an area near by. He is a very hard worker y they are having a lot of success in their area. Thursday y Friday just happened to be random holidays here so the buses were running very behind y we ended up losing a lot of time waiting. Also it took about 3 hours to do the interviews of a part member family. The father is a member, y his wife Sandra y daughters Carolina (13), Camila (12) y Erika (10) were the ones getting ready to be baptized! They are great people y as always it was a great experience getting to know them. I was suprised y impressed to hear about the sacrifice they make each Sunday to walk 30 blocks to church, but as we talked I felt their testimonies and desires to be baptized y follow the example of Our Savior y realized that they knew WHY they made the effort to be in church each week.

In the time I was able to work in my area this week we were able to visit la familia Palavecino. This weekend my companion and I decided to fast for them because the father is having a really hard time giving up the other church y is holding the rest of his family back. We passed by their house yesterday morning to go to church together y the father came out y told us he had to go to work so they wouldn´t be able to go, but promised that they would all be there next week for General Conference. He is a very good man, we just keep hoping y praying that he will have a change of heart y recognize the blessings that are awaiting him y his family in the church.

Another one of our investigators is also being a little difficult. (though I suppose no one said missionary work would be easy...) His name is Oscar, y his Wife y daughter are both members. He goes to church EVERY week y always says his prayers y reads the scriptures. My companion has been teaching him ever since he got to the area (6 months ago), but for a lot of that time he was in the Coast for the summer supervising a property they rent there. Even while they were on "Vacation" he went to church every week! The only problem is he won´t commit to baptism y we have tried everything we know to try to figure out what his doubt or concern is. All he ever tells us is that he wants more TIME to think about it y learn more. This week we had a really good talk with him and he agreed to be baptized on April 9th... but I almost feel he just accepted it so we would stop bugging him about getting baptized. My comp is especially excited about the idea of baptizing him since it is likely that April 9th will be his last Saturday in the area since we have transfers the following Monday.

Good day at church yesterday. Somehow I was able to avoid giving a last minute talk and the Bishop called on my companion instead while I was talking with some new people that I hadn´t seen in the ward before. In my goings about I actually found 2 people who weren´t members. One who was visiting with a friend, and the other, Leonel (21), who was visiting with his Uncle who is an inactive member of the other ward that we share the church with. I sat with Leonel during sacrament meeting and introduced him to several of the young single adults afterwards. He seems pretty excited about the church y we have an appointment tomorrow to hopefully teach him and meet the rest of his family!

Anyways, thats all for this week! Enjoy general conference this weekend y I can´t wait to hear some of your thoughts next week!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, March 21, 2011

Saludos de Argentina

Dear family and friends,

Another great week here in Argentina. The weather has been very pleasant y it seems like the summer heat is finally gone for good! Had a great morning cleaning the pension y doing some laundry (I have really come to enjoy washing my clothes by hand!) y excited to finally sit down and relax, y best of all to hear from and write to all of you!

This week we have started working with a less active member that my companion found one day on intercambios with Elder Sanchez. La Familia Palavecino - Jorge is the father, the mom Argemina, Nadia (18), Belén (15), Ariel (13), Priscila (10) y Nahuel (9). The parents y 2 daughters were baptized several years ago in Guernica y shortly after moved to the Province of Santiago where they pretty much lost contact with the church. They lived about 4 hours from the nearest chapel there, so they decided to attend an Evangelist church near by to be sure that their children were raised with the teachings of Jesus Christ in their lives. When they moved back here to Berazategui, they continued attending a branch of the Evangelist church here that they had been with for the past several years. They recieved us VERY well in their home y are great people! The mother is already set on coming back to the church, but the father is having a little harder time. We have passed by several this weeks and are reteaching the lessons from PMG y helping them remember the things that the missionaries had taught them before. The father admitted that he has all the doctrine confused in his head, but that he has great desires to follow God y knows that He is there to answer and guide him. They also have their son and several grandchildren who haven´t been baptized yet. We are excited to get them involved with the members y they will be a great addition to the ward!

Yesterday in Church Darío was suposed to be ordained a Priest, but he ended up not even showing up! Apparently he had gone to a Young Single Adults activity y dance on Saturday y some friends there had invited him to their ward for some reason. Also, apparently he had gotten in a fight with his family y didn´t stay with them this weekend like he usually does, but he at least said that he won´t let that get in the way of his going to church,etc. Obviously we hope they can get things resolved! We were a little shocked at the news, but content that at least he went to church! We had to explain to him that it is very important that he goes to the ward where he belongs, ESPECIALLY to be able to recieve the priesthood. We had a great lesson with him about the priesthood this week, although he felt a little bummed about not being able to recieve the Melchizedek priesthood right away. He is pretty excited y destermined on preparing to serve a mission!

On Friday we had Zone Conference in Adrogue... which meant waking up extra early to be able to make the 2 hour train trip. Always great to learn from y be with Pres. y Hna. Stapley as well as the other missionaries. We talked a lot about chapter 6 in preach my gospel about developing "Christlike Attributes" y several missionaries were called on randomly to give the 5 minute talk that we all had to prepare before hand speaking about one of those attributes. Even though I didn´t get called on, I enjoyed y learned a lot preparing that talk. After lunch, we have the tradition of singing happy birthday to all the Elders y Hermanas who have birthdays during the 2-3 months between conferences, so this time it was my turn! It was extra special this time because they sang the birthday song in 3 different languages... Spanish, English, y Portuguese for the new Elder that arrived from Brasil y is serving in Wilde (y Hna Stapley who speaks portuguese)! So that was pretty cool... then on top of that we got a tasty chocolate rice crispy treat, homemade with love from Hna. Stapley!

Anyways, that’s all for this week! Can´t wait to hear from you all again soon! ¡Cuidense!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, March 14, 2011

FW: A very "HOT y COLD" week

Dear family y friends,

Wow, already half way through March. Things are FINALLY starting to cool down here yesterday y today, but the last week was very hot y humid! Crazy how the seasons change here... but we´ll see if the cooler weather lasts or if we still have a couple hot days ahead. It was great hearing from several more of you this week and I am hoping to be able to write you all back so I´m going to try to keep this short.
Started off the week with a great Pday. We invited the other Elders in our district over to our pension to do an Asado (BBQ) y it turned out really well. None of us really knew what we were doing... but there we were with 4kg ($150) of meat (chorizo, vacio, tapa de asado, cosquillas), a 5kg bag of charcoal and a parilla and all we had to do was find someway to get the meat cooked. I got the fire started to heat up the coals y we left the Argentines in charge of cooking the meat. It only took 30 seconds leaving the meat unattended as we were all inside for the meat to catch fire, y if the neighbors hadn´t walked in right then we might not have even been able to save it. (We heard them all upstairs laughing afterwards...) Other than that everything turned out really tasty and we had a good time talking y even had some time to play some Uno afterwards.

Thank you for the late warning on being careful what I eat mom! :P Apparently something must have not gotten cooked enough Monday, because I spent Tuesday y Wednesday very sick in the pension. (somehow all the other elders were just fine) Luckily I was able to at least leave in the afternoon to go to the church for lessons with Darío finishing up the lessons to prepare him for his baptism. He listens y understands everything so well and was very well prepared y excited to get baptised! He suprised us with his understanding y testimony of the Restoration y Joseph Smith since it had been several weeks since we had taught it, but as we were talking about the commandments he went off about how "everybody has there own way of interpreting and living the commandments and thats why it was so important that God called a prophet in these last days to help us know the way HE wants us to do things to prepare us to be able to return to live with him." He also talked about how he wants to serve a mission... and he asked us if he would have an opportunity to share his testimony after his baptism. We were both shocked, but of course very happy y excited to see that he had so many desires to continue learning and share what he had found with other people. Friday we had the interview which he passed y he asked me to baptize him.

Saturday we had the baptism y everything actually turned out PERFECT. We actually had the baptism in the morning, which was a first for me, so we had to be there extra early (7 am) to start filling up the font. Taking pictures before the service was pretty cool. It was a pretty overcast day but as we were taking a pic with the fam the clouds parted and the sun shone through on the 3 of us standing. My comp leaned over to Darío y said "looks like God wants to say hello". My comp conducted the meeting, I played the piano, 2 of Daríos sisters gave talks, the Bishop y his wife gave a welcome to the ward, and Darío had his moment to share his testimony. He shared his story about how he found the church through his family, his testimony of the restoration, his desires to always stay faithful, and said everyday he finds something new that he loves about the church. That morning y afternoon there was also an Institute activity there in the church, so it was great for him to have some new friends there for his baptism, y he ended up staying all afternoon playing ping pong, fooseball, eating food, y for the dance that evening.

Sunday was his confirmation y Darío got there even before we did to have an interview with the Bishop to prepare him to be ordained a Priest next week. We were also suprised to have Pres. Stapley show up to our ward, so it was very cool for him to be there and talk a little bit with him. The talks were perfect as well talking about missionary work y one of the hermanos shared his story about how he found the church when he was 23 years old (same age as Darío) y how he prepared y served a mission in Córdoba. Presidente y Hermana Stapley also shared their testimonies y put in a good word of us about how the members need to give us more people to teach y baptize! That afternoon apparently it was my companions turn to get sick and he spent the afternoon y a good part of the night throwing up in the pension.
Anyways, thats it for now! I love you all! Hope you have a fantastic week.

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Monday, March 7, 2011

FW: ¡Hoy festejamos CARNAVAL! [Today we celebrate Carnaval!]

Dear family and friends,

OK so we are not really going to celebrate Carnaval in the same crazy way the people celebrate here, (I imagine late at night with lots of alcohol y plenty of mischief to go around) but we are getting together as a district to do an ASADO this afternoon! :) Still having some HOT y HUMID weather here in Buenos Aires. I am very ready for it to start to cool down. Not sure what inspired so many of you to write me this week but I sure can´t complain, it was GREAT to hear from you all! I hope to get the chance to respond to each of you today, but we´ll see what the time allows.
Started off this week with a very laid back p-day, followed by a Noche de Hogar with the Familia Silva (A widowed mother with 12 kids from 3-26 years old). The girls invited a non member friend y we had a great lesson/discussion with everyone. After the lesson came the food... Apparently in Paraguay they have a tradition of eating the heads of animals, and Monday night they happened to prepare a pigs head to eat. Not sure exactly how they prepared it... but they had it set out on the table on a platter y they passed around forks and knives for everyone. Almost immediately after we said "amen" you could hear the clanking of forks and knives as 20 plus hands went in for the attack to pick off some head meat. My comp and I sat back to observe until one of the sons passed us a plate with the lower jaw bone to pick at. The little meat there was was actually very tasty y pretty much tasted like Pork. After about 15 minutes of picking at the meat on the outside of the head one of the sons opened up the skull with a knife to get to the brain. After seeing the steam come out with an unpleasant smell I don´t know HOW I accepted the invitation to try a bit of the brain... but I did it! Everyone laughed at me because I gagged several times getting it down.... I don´t think it was THAT bad really, but the texture killed me! AT least I got lots of pictures to document my experience.

Thursday and Friday this week we had a special Capacitacion for all the District y Zone leaders in the mission with Pres. Stapley in Adrogue. Wednesday evening we got together with another district leader in the zone who stayed in my area with me for the 2 days of the capacitacion while our comps went back to his area. The meetings were GREAT y it was fun seeing almost all the elders from my MTC group y catching up with them. We had about 3 hours in total travel time each day in bus y train y we were both EXHAUSTED by the end of the second day. Always impressed by the love Pres. Stapley has for all of us missionaries. The night before the capacitacion he hardly slept because he recieved a suprise phone call saying that he had 4 missionaries on the way down here that would arrive the next day that he had not heard anything about beforehand. He is and has already made some BIG changes in the mission y we are already seeing some of the results.

Saturday we had a special lunch appointment with my companions mom. She called Pres. Stapley Monday to ask for permission to see her son (she is not a member) y he told us it would be ok to eat lunch with her. She flew in from Cordoba that morning y had several hours here in Buenos Aires before she had to fly out to Cuba for a conference she had to go to. Apparently she came here around Christmas time as well, so it wasn´t really anything new for my comp. Very nice lady! She was VERY against the church when my comp was recieving the discussions y even when he left on the mission. Now she is recieving the missionaries y going to church and as we sat down to eat she even offered to say the prayer! I think he was pretty content to see her progress y luckily he took it really well and it didn´t make him homesick or anything. She also brought us several boxes of tasty Alfajores from Cordoba. :)

Yesterday Darío came to church again and had a great experience. In Testimony meeting an Hermano who I think is from the High Council got up and spoke directly to Darío, which had me a little worried at first but it turned out to be a great blessing. He talked about how he had the same age when he came to know the church and how the gospel had changed his life completely. On top of that we also got him involved with the Young Single Adults in the ward y he seems really excited to start participating in the activities etc. All of that basically built up to the cita we had with him last night when he told us he had felt really good in church y that he made his decision that he wants to be baptized as soon as possible. We talked a little bit about baptism and what he needed to do to prepare... and my comp set the baptismal date for THIS SATURDAY! Caught me a little bit off guard, because we had talked about setting it for the 19th. We still have a lot we need to teach, but we have both felt that he is READY y will be able to make it just fine.

Anyways, thats pretty much the news for this week. Thank you for your prayers y support. I love you all!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse