Monday, April 25, 2011

Feliz Pascua [Happy Easter]

Dear Family y Friends,

Happy Easter! That sure came by suprise! Hope you all enjoyed a beautiful Easter weekend with some long waited for sunshine y springtime! Thank you to all those who wrote me for your emails y keeping me updated on whats going on at home!

Not a whole lot of news this week. We made a couple trips to Quilmes this week to go to the Sanatorio de La Trinidad... which is a very nice Clinic where my comp is having his knee looked at. This week we had a $150 doctor visit Wednesday followed by a $1200 MRI on Thursday. Should be getting the results back from the MRI this Thursday y hopefully scheduling the surgery. Wednesday before our appointment with the doctor we ate lunch at a restraunt in Quilmes the Zone Leaders told us about. Its a really tasty sandwich place called Panini and the owner is actually from New Jersey and has been living here several months (His Mom is from Argentina). It was cool talking with him a little bit in English... and I enjoyed a delicious BBQ sandwich which I havent had in a LOOONG time!

Everything at the doctor went really well, NICE building, very clean y up to date, y friendly staff. Pres. Stapley has also been very helpful y is very anxious to get everything taken care of as soon as possible. He sure loves us y takes good care of us and I am so grateful for his help and support.

Yesterday was a pretty exciting Easter Sunday. We had a lot of people show up at church which always makes me happy, including 3 investigators, y several members who havent been to church in a very long time! However, we also had several people who DIDNT show up... one of which was supposed to be giving a talk, so for the first time in my mission I got called on to give a spur of the moment talk in Sacrament meeting! It actually went really well... and couldnt have happened a more perfect day! I shared several thoughts, experiences, y scriptures about the Atonement y shared my testimony. I more than filled the 5 min they needed y turned out to be a really good experience. After Sacrament meeting I ended up having to teach the class again in Gospel Principles on The Church of Jesus Christ in the (Antiguedad?). That turned out OK, and at least we had a good turnout of people to share their thoughts.

Well that’s about it for this week! Looking forward to getting the results back from my comps MRI this week and hopefully we should have some news next week of whats going to be happening!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Somos prisioneros de la pensión [We are prisoners in our apartment]

Dear family and friends,

Pretty rough week this week! Things started out GREAT Monday y Tuesday. We worked really hard and had some great success working in an area I hadn´t ever worked in before with Elder Castro. We were able to talk with several old investigators as well as doing several contacts, almost ALL of which seemed very promising, and 2 of them even let us into their house on the spot! We basically had met most of our goals for the day by lunch time... so that afternoon was just the icing on the cake. :) Things were going really well y we both felt it was going to be a very successful transfer. That afternoon my comp mentioned to me that we needed to call the mission doctor because he had been having some bad knee pain lately and he was needing to go have it looked at, so we set an appointment for the next morning. Worked that evening and went to bed no thinking much about it. Early Wednesday morning we made the trip to the Church Offices in Palermo, Capital Federal (1 hr 20 min bus ride y 2 subways). We arrived much earlier than expected, about an hour and a half early for the appointment, so we took advantage of the time to do some studying since we had lost a good chunk of our study time traveling. Finally we were able to meet with the doctor Elder Hollingsworth y his wife from Alberta, Canada. Great people! and neither of them speak Spanish! so I had fun getting some practice translating throughout the visit. (Luckily they at least know the medical terms) He came to the conclusion that he has a Torn Medial Miniscus which I guess is one of the 2 pieces of cartilidge that lie beneath the knee cap, which was appartenly caused by a previous soccer injury y re-agravated here in the mission. He told us he would need to have an Arthroscopy surgery to fix it... which will take about 2 weeks to recover from, and in the mean time he said we should avoid walking as much as possible to keep it from getting worse. We have spent the rest of the week taking it easy, and luckily were able to get out to get a few thing done. We have also been in close contact with Pres. Stapley y several hospitals trying to set a time to get him in to meet with a knee specialist y schedule the surgery.

Thursday evening we had a Noche de Hogar scheduled with the Familia Palavecino... but when we arrived at the house the husband came out and pretty much told us that they will not be coming back to the Church and that they have decided to continue with the church they are already going to. Pretty big smack in the face although I am pretty sure the wife y kids still have desires to come back. Tuesday we had a great lesson with the Wife and one of her friends, we read 2 Nefi 2 and talked a lot about Agency answering several questions that they had. The Spirit was very strong and at the end of the lesson when we asked if there was anything we could do for her she asked us if we would pray for her because she was passing through some really hard times and needed God´s help. We took advantage of the opportunity to talk a little bit about priesthood blessings and gave her a blessing of comfort before leaving. I am sure we will continue to pass by a couple more times at least to see if any progress can be made with the husband. We had planned to talk about Temples y Eternal Families that evening for the Noche de Hogar... and my comp and I still feel that that will be something that could definitely soften his heart.

Friday night we had a Ward activity that has been 2 months in the making. Wasn´t very well organized... and there were lots of people who didn´t complete with their responsabilities. The poor old Elders Quorum President hardly had any support from anyone except for the Ward Mission Leader y luckily we were able to help quite a bit as well. Overall I think it ended up being a great success! We had an inactive family as well as 2 of the sons of the Familia Silva who haven´t been to church in a while show up. In the time we were there we played several games y they had sandwiches, drinks, y panchos (hot dogs) for everyone. I think after we left they had a mini talent show y dance.

Saturday we had a late lunch appointment with Gabriel who had also invited Elder Maxfield (the Elder who baptized him 10 months ago who just finished his mission this last week, also a mission buddy of mine I got to know in the Coast!) y his parents as well. They are from Salt Lake City, y one of their sons also served in Uruguay, who they also flew down to pick up, so they had had some experience in South America before although neither of them speak any spanish. (More translating practice!) Enjoyed visiting with them and they also had Scype set up at Gabriels house y were video chatting with his brothers y sisters at home. Elder Maxfield y Gabriel both shared their testimonies with his brother y sister in law who both speak spanish y it was an awesome experience! His parents gave my comp and I some starbursts and snickers. MMmmmm. :) Bro. Maxfield is a Civil - Structural Engineer for the Church Temple department, so part of their trip will also include a visit to the Buenos Aires temple to see how the construction is coming along. The most recent estimate I have heard is that it will be opening in June of 2012... Very long time without a temple!

My companions first Sunday in the ward so he got to present himself in Sacrament meeting. Nice seeing Darío for the first time in 2 weeks and being able to catch up a bit with him. Apparently he has had 2 pretty tough weeks in his Police Training. SOMEHOW I ended up giving the Gospel Principles class on "The Lords Covenant People" which luckily I had at least read the chapter before hand. It ended up going pretty well, and I made special emphasis to help Oscar, the one investigator we had in the class, understand that covenants are made between US and GOD. He has also had a couple difficult weeks with some health y family problems, but we continue to work with him y see his progress, slow but sure! In Priesthood we talked about Tithing y we all had the opportunity to share our testimony of tithing. Elder Maxfield y his parents even showed up after attending a sacrament meeting in another ward and his father even shared his testimony in English which Elder Maxfield translated. After church, another shared lunch with Elder Maxfield y his family in the house of our Ward Mission Leader, very tasty!

Anyways, that is all for this week! I am doing Well just trying to enjoy this extra time in the pension to do some extra studying, pondering, letter writing, organizing, etc.! Thank you for your prayers and support. Please pray all will go well with my comps doctor visit this Wednesday!

les amo!
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Traslados! [Transfers!]

Dear family and friends,

All is well here in El Cruce with a couple changes. Elder Castro Peña has moved on to his second area, Lanus II in the stake of Avellaneda, y I am now with my new companion Elder Mendez from Chile! President must think I need help with my spanish putting me with so many latin comps in a row :P but I am grateful for the opportunity to keep improving and hopefully it will do me good in the future! I can already tell he is a great missionary with great desires to serve with all his heart might mind and strength! He has been in the mission for 6 weeks, so still very new! His whole family are members y he also has his girlfriend waiting for him.... and we are finding we actually have quite a bit in common. Looking forward to getting to know him better y to learn from him.

This last week has seemed very long y tiring... but overall NOT BAD! Monday night we both felt we needed to visit the bishop y his family who have been passing through some hard times to try to animate them a little bit. We have been trying to work more with the members to get references for people to teach without much success, so we both decided it would be a good idea to start with the bishop. He appreciated our visit y we at least have his trust y friendship, but it is going to take some work getting this ward more missionary oriented!

Tuesday was our last District meeting of the transfer so we took several pictures as a zone and as a district. Afterwards we did an intercambio with the Zone Leaders and I spent that afternoon y Wednesday morning in Quilmes with Elder Mortensen. It was great catching up with him and we had a great chat about the things we have learned in the mission y plans for the future. Neither of us can believe how little time we have left! They have one of the nicest pensions in the mission on the 11th floor of an apartment building overlooking the Quilmes Futbol Stadium. Unfortunately... there weren´t any games that night! I really enjoyed working with Elder Mortensen as well and we had several GREAT lessons. I think I would really enjoy being a zone leader for that reason only, having a companion with lots of experience in the mission, but at the same time I am sure I have plenty left to learn being with new missionaries!

Thursday night we had a noche de hogar with the familia Palavecino in the house of a member family and we watched the Joseph Smith movie and shared our testimonies. It went really well and the family seems to be more and more excited to come back to church y slowly but surely we can see a "might change of heart" happening in the father of the family. We will continue to pray for rain each Sunday so that he won´t be able to go to work and can accompany his family to church which actually worked really well last week for General Conference!

Saturday night we got transfer calls... which usually means a lot of phone calls from buddies in the mission seeing what is happening with everyone. Probably the best news I heard was talking with Elder Alvarez who left Wilde last transfer y is now serving in Magdalena.... but had gotten word that Marcos, Soledad, y Emanuel got BAPTIZED several weeks ago as well as several family friends who Soledad introduced to the missionaries!! Hopefully I will get the opportunity to give them a call soon to congratulate them and I hope to see them before I come home! Would have LOVED to be there for the baptism, but I am just so grateful and happy to have been a part of that y to see some of the amazing changes that happened in their lives!

Yesterday I let Elder Castro Peña "take the wheel" y we had a very busy day passing by families to say goodbye. We also had fast y testimony meeting yesterday and we both shared our testimonies. I am grateful for the time I got to spend working with him, y the many things that I could learn from his example. We joked about him having only 2 years as a member... and me having almost 2 years as a missionary... and he was still able to teach me so many things!

Today we made the long/awkward/exhausting/painful trip to Banfield to transfer meeting... waking up at 545 this morning for my comp to do some last minute packing then awkwardly carrying all his stuff to the train station (he only had 1 suit case) y trying to board a PACKED train full of impatient people on their daily commute to work. The train was so packed we couldn´t get off in Avellaneda to switch trains y ended up at the end of the route in Constitución which meant walking about 500 m more than we would have in Avellaneda to get on the train we needed to get to Banfield. (Luckily no stairs had to be climbed!!!) Enjoyed a great transfer meeting and it is always great hearing the testimonies of the missionaries who are headed home. (I happened to know ALL of them this transfer... y its is starting to hit me that pretty soon that will be me up there!) Many of the missionaries shared "the biggest or most important lesson they had learned on their mission"... and several talked about charity, faith, obedience, etc.... all of which I have learned a lot about as well! I think one of the greatest lessons I have learned is the importance of the BASICS... specifically daily prayer y scripture study! I am especially grateful for the Book of Mormon and the great instrument it is in combination with prayer in providing us the guidance of the Lord in our daily lives. It´s hard to believe that anyone can read that book and NOT feel absolutely overwhelmed with the Spirit of the Lord. I am reminded of an experience of Elder Holland who after having given the Book of Mormon to a doctor friend was suprised when a week later his friend returned the book saying "thank you so much". Elder Holland looked at his friend for a minute, and replied "´Thank you so much´ is no kind of answer for someone who has actually read this book... now, go read it and when you finish I want my book back." Several weeks later his friend returned in tears bearing testimony that he knew the book was true and was baptized shortly after. I LOVE the Book of Mormon for many reasons. For it´s simple teachings of gospel principles, for it´s incredible witness and testimony of the life and mission of our Savior Jesus Christ, for its AWESOME stories :), for its applicable teachings y warnings about situations that we face in the world today, and for the many confirmations I have y continue to recieve through the Holy Ghost as to its truth y divinity. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that anyone that reads it will be greatly blessed in their lives!

Anyways, that´s all for this week. Once again very exhausted y feeling a bit yucky all day... so hoping to take advantage of this last hour or so of Pday to get some rest even though I´ve got several buckets of soapy clothes to rinse y hang to dry.... I love you all and can´t wait to hear from you all next week!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

General Conference

Dear family y friends!

Very exhausting week! Hope to have some time this afternoon to take advantage and rest a bit. The weather has been very nice besides a big rainstorm yesterday morning, y we enjoyed some pretty cool lightning storms last night! Very crazy to see the snow falling in Utah at conference!

Can´t think of a better way to spend a birthday in the mission then having General Conference! Hard to believe it was my last conference here in the mission... but at the same time it was sure nice thinking I will be watching the next conference from HOME! It was fun to see the other missionaries as well as many members/investigators all in the same place! For the first time in my mission we also had permission from Pres. Stapley to go to the Priesthood Session which started at 9:00pm, on the condition that we had a member who could drive us home in their car. Staying for the priesthood session meant missing out on Birthday Cake at a members house... but it was well worth it and they ended up inviting us over LAST night instead. They also prepared some tasty empanadas and I also tried another weird food which apparently is a delicacy here... Cow tongue. I had heard about it before from other missionaries who told me that it wasn´t that bad. Apparently they boil it and serve it with a garlic sauce... and it actually was pretty tasty!

We only had 1 investigator show up to General conference which was very disappointing. It is always very sad for me to see how FEW people actually go to listen, especially after having spent the last several weeks inviting EVERYONE to go. Luckily Darío showed up for several of the sessions y seemed to enjoy it a lot! The one investigator that showed up is the grandson of the new inactive family we have been working with for the last several weeks who came with both his grandparents. It was a great opportunity to fellowship them, and luckily the members all got involved y invited them to drink mate with them and they seemed to enjoy themselves between sessions. On the way out I asked the hermana if she had enjoyed the conference y she told me they would for sure be back next Sunday to go to church! Even though it was sad not seeing more people at the conference, it sure was a great blessing y spiritual boost for all of us who WERE there to hear the inspired words of those "ministering angels".

Unfortunately I don´t have my conference notes with me to share more thoughts that stood out to me from conference. It was very interesting to me how many talks focused on the family and the importance of getting married in the temple... but maybe that just stood out to me since that will be one of the next steps I will be taking in my life in the not too far distant future! Also enjoyed the thoughts that were shared about missionary work of course! :) Great inspiring words that will help me to make these last couple months of my mission the best 4 months of my life!

Anyways, sorry this is short this week! Thank you for all the birthday greetings y as always for your prayers and support! I love you all!

les amo
Elder Ian Wheelhouse