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!
Elder Ian Wheelhouse