Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 24, 2015

This week marks the beginning of my last transfer in the first year of mission...it went so fast!

I loved the 30 Birthday cards that I received thank you so much and I had a great but very busy birthday. I love you all...we spent a lot of my birthday moving the Elders From Covington VA into our apartment...so right now we have two sets of elders in our apartment Elder Sawyer and I and it has been unique to be able to teach with four elders or be able to split and cover two appointments at once. 

Meet our new roommates...long story short, they lived in a very old house that the pipes had been frozen in for days and so they temporarily came to live with us, then that temporary became slightly more permanent when we went to take them back to find their ceiling bow-ing in and a foot of water under the house, so the mission office had them move out immediately, so they live with us until further notice. (likely a two or three weeks.)
left to right, Elder Yocum, elder Sawyer, Me, Elder Johnson. 

Listening to hear the transfer doctrine (who is going where and who is coming here.) Elder Johnson (one of the elders who recently moved in with us) is being transferred to Roanoke VA as a Zone Leader, and we are kinda sorta getting a new companion because his replacement here will be living with us.


The first of many Birthday surprises from my fellow missionaries...this one is from Elder Johnson and from family and friends back home...Love you all and thank you so much for all your letters and love. I had a great birthday and am loving the new Pocket size scriptures:) 
​I did have Pho on my birthday and went and got Chinese food.

Winter also came in full force over the week we have accumulated 2.5 feet of snow.

 ​The  aftermath of snow around here really made everything a bit more beautiful.
 Deer Friends:) These three deer have been in this same spot the few times we have traveled out to Asbury Trace outside of Lewisburg.

 It was pretty extreme weather that pretty well crippled everything in the valley, we were snowed in for two days so we had some time to kill so we watched out our window and leaped into action at the first sight of someone getting stuck and kept our neighborhood shoveled, our landlord came up to us and said, well all the neighbors love you guys...you have certainly earned your keep and when it warmed up we had an epic snowball fight with our neighbors...who are all students at The Medical School.



 A ton of snow...no joke, this was us digging out our car and our neighbors cars...look it is up the driver's window....I am also thoroughly impressed with the performance of our Subaru...it hasn't been stuck once. it even made it up a dirt road in over a foot of snow.

 Elder Sawyer and I digging out the car. oh Church was cancelled again this week so and next week is stake conference so it will be a whole month since we will have met as a ward and partaken on the sacrament.
The day it stopped snowing after digging out yourself and our neighbors we dug some snow tunnels and built forts and had an epic snowball fight with our neighbors...it was Elder Johnson's first time for each as he is from California.

​walking to our dinner appointment with the linsmyer family in the woods about 14 miles outside of Lewisburg.
 ​Alan and his family continue to progress...I love teaching and just simply being around this man

 ​There is a funny story behind this photo...but that is for another day, this is brother L. we love them the are consistent in feeding us each week:)

My testimony of service has increased so much over the last few months it is such a fantastic way to earn people's trust and interest. I am almost praying for more snow so we have more opportunities to serve others and teach as go.

That's all for this week 
love ya
ART



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 17, 2015

So for starters this week The City and County asked us to come so they could present us with a formal certificate of appreciation. and they gave me a copy of this front page headline for the state newspaper...It was fun to talk more with city and county people we worked with now that things are back to normal, I even met someone who lived in logan UT and works at a ski resort in Mountain ops just like I did.
Alright so this story will be further elaborated in my written letter, but long story short, Alan tells us his toilet won't flush, so we know  a ward member who can fix any thing, the ward member comes over with a plumbing snake, says well that isn't the problem...he takes a look under the house in the crawl space and discovers a pool of "goodness" (use your imagination) John (the member) tells us what to do and how to do it. and we set to work. First step is we had to break through the old rock foundation of Alan's 1940 home and dig an access trench  to get to the pool of goodness step two - pour Polarized lime powder on the pool and dry it up. Step 3- Shovel out the Goodness and dig out any contaminated dirt. Step 4 repair/replace the broken pipe.

​We slowly dug the dirt out and bucket the clean dirt outside...these older homes feel like a cave or mine in the basement/crawlspace.

​Making progress it was a very tight space at first.

At last I reached the "Glory Hole" as we called it
​Once inside I discovered the culprit of the problem...look right in the center of the photo you will see a pipe that had become disconnected at the joint...this pipe goes to the kitchen sink so everything down the kitchen sink, and back-up from the bathroom sink and tub ended up under the house, causing the cast iron toilet pipe to freeze and rust. which meant that to our relief that most of the "goodness" under the house was gray water...but never the less it stank, once we got into it...we took precautions wearing masks gloves etc. and thoroughly washing up after. 

​The Tunnel/Trench...it was cold the days we were digging, but luckily their was a big Radiator steam pipe that ran the length of the trench and the boiler that kept under the house where we were warm...Count your many blessings.

 ​This is what it looked like after we put the lime down and let it sit for a day, and started scooping it out.
We shovelled out the goodness and contained it in plastic bags to be properly disposed of. all in all we filled about 25 bags of goodness. This is Alan...he has such a great sense of humor.
 Here is everything all clean after we finished...ready to repair the replace the pipes, which John is donating from his spare supplies. There is actually enough room in there to be on your knees know about three feet between the bottom of the trench and the floor joists...took about 4 solid days of work but we got it done! Now there is a miracle be hind all this service... between the work during lunch breaks, clean-up etc. Alan and his wife Tiffany asked questions and their sincerity grew leading to the most direct answer that the Book of Mormon is true, for Alan, came down here in the dirt, with one question of the soul, and the witness of the Holy Ghost...hands down most amazing moment in my mission, yes it even trumped my experience about the character of Joseph Smith that I wrote about in my last written letter.
​In other words before I get to the amazing answer that Alan received regarding truthfulness of the Book of Mormon...I received the inspiration on what to share from Zone Conference in Lexington VA with President & Sister Salisbury:) Love them both so much...we are really becoming unified as a mission and I feel the power increasing.
​Crossing the Virginia Border on I-64

 ​we joked on the two hour drive that the sunbeams are moments of conversion happening.
 ​Everyone arriving at Zone Conference in Lexington VA...Mission Cars Galore.
 It was also pretty awesome to come to a Brand New Stake Center...It was huge! like being back in Utah...most of the ward buildings here are small, built in phases so to see a full size brand new stake center was wonderful...it even had the Utah smell.
 After the meeting was over all full of mind blowing inspiration, I just happened to be sitting next to some of my favorite missionary friends, Elder Chevalier and Elder Cagle, who also happened to have Birthdays in January/Feb/Mar so we got to enjoy our birthday gifts  from president together as well.
 ​As well as Elder Ostler from back in Ravenswood...who is now a zone leader in Lynchburg
 ​Lets not forget sister Sullivan (also from the MTC)
 ​I also saw sister Cambell (from the MTC) and sister thomson from Ravenswood
Back in Lewisburg, we do regular service for Carnegie Hall, delivering their posters around downtown, and when we were there I felt the spirit nudge me to ask for two tickets to the show (which they had offered to us before) To give to Alan and Tiffany as a valentines gift. Carnegie hall thought it was a grand Idea and gave them personalized tickets.
Alan and Tiffany with their two children also came and had a great time at the ward couples valentines dinner, several ward members also brought their friends...it was a blast dinner and games. with babysitting provided for the kids. The night could not have gone more perfect we also gave Alan and Tiffany a quick tour of the building. and several members invited them over for dinner. The photo shows Alan (orange and white shirt) and Tiffany (stripped dress) talking with Bishop...best of all it all went naturally we pretty much were able to take a back seat and watch as the ward met and welcomed and mingled with Alan and Tiffany.

Did I mention how much this ward feels like back home in Utah...so many little kids:) Setting back up the chapel seats after the party.


Okay so the day after this party we were back at Alan's home digging when Alan begins to get a little stressed out and he later comes to me (as I am laying down in the trench digging) and asks, "why does God allow anger in the world" in an instant the spirit prompted me to say "the fall" I asked Alan to go grab my scriptures and study journal from the car and I Proceeded to teach what I had learned at Zone Conference the day before, and we read 2 nephi 2 he said that it was "like a light bulb" "revelation" and understanding "I have had this conversation before with other missionaries but it never made sense, now it does" The spirit was so powerful it was undeniable, Alan and I were overjoyed and full of the spirit. he said to keep from crying joyfully "I'm a man, I'm a man" haha...He thanked god for this understanding and for his struggled which enable him to progress and become stronger...it was amazing to directly see the spirit work. We were both Astonished. He then said about the Book of Mormon, I am so excited to read more and since he has set in every spare moment to read more of it. He also quit smoking this week! Alan also recognized the difference in his answer this time came from his sincere seeking to know and be obedient to what god wants him to do.

So amazing and divine I love this work

We also taught and are seeing progression from 
Mike - single father of two boys
Brandon - Single student
Carol - single woman (self-referral through the stop smoking program)

The work has gone from almost nothing my first week here to blooming progression...spring and surely a number of conversions are just around the bend.

​The Snow finally Came...it was bright all in white...and there was about another foot after this photo was taken, we had the wonderful opportunity to meet our neighbors as we joined the effort of clearing the snow and getting their cars out...pretty much all of our neighbors are students at the Medical School, which is neat because they are from new york, Florida, Michigan, and many more places around the country...made many new friends and many great opportunities to invite them to learn.

​Sunday because Church was Cancelled we set out to deliver our valentines, to investigators and members...This is Alan finding the valentines we got for him and his family...it took him a minute to find us...we went a little extra for them because we love them so much.


​#Shout out to elder Cluff...these were the valentines we gave to Alan and his family.
 ​For the ward members it was between some re-gifted cookies or butterfingers...another fun thing about being in  a ward with so many young families is when those young families find out that they are growing:) 

Long story short...I love this work and in the words of my favorite zone leader Elder Fielding (who is now home) If your not having fun doing missionary work you are doing it wrong.

Love you all
ART
Elder Wheeler



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 10, 2015

Dearest All

       Well, it happened and I see it, after zone meeting in Lexington VA on Thursday, the things that I had that were holding me back from being completely unified with my companion just didn't seem to matter anymore, during the first part of the meeting I felt fuming mad and was keeping to myself, (which was very out of character for me), for no apparent reason other than the spirit of contention trying to detour the Holy Ghost from confirming to me what I needed to give. After wrestling with the spirit and at last praying again and again, just for peace during the zone meeting;

 "I will do it, whatever you want, just please bring me peace" was my thought, 

Then the arguing in my head ceased, and I was able to enjoy lunch in beautiful Downtown Lexington and then on the two hour drive back to my area, I felt an overpowering peace come upon me, and felt at rest, an my desire caught hold of that feeling and I decided I wanted to feel that more constantly, and so the next few days were more and more and it kept building, Studying was easier, and more powerful, with the spirit guiding me the whole way, the days were happy as I felt no distance with my companion, and then the miraculous part was teaching, it was totally different. 

One example we went to go teach Alan this week, he is our top investigator, and we have been working with him regarding the Book of Mormon and the Bible as companion scriptures, and after a very effective study, and role playing the lesson with my companion so we could be unified in our lesson plan, and ultimately the companionship with the spirit, Heavenly father provided the perfect atmosphere in Alan's quiet living room and after watching the Restoration DVD we talked and shared the scriptures we planned to demonstrate how the Book of Mormon and Bible support each other, Using Matthew 3:14-15 with 2 Nephi 31: 5-9 and seeking for the meaning of the phrase "Fulfill all righteousness" 
Following up with Scriptures such as 2 Nephi 3:12 and 2 Corinthians 13:1 and that was all we needed to say, then Alan brought out his true sincere feelings, he told us outside of his other influences (church, family, friends) he wants to know between him and God if the Book of Mormon is true

He himself even pointed out if he had only the new testament and Old testament being two different testaments testifying of christ. 
When in the promised way in the moment of teaching the spirit told me exactly what to say, bringing the book of mormon in as another testament of Jesus Christ and ether 12 acting in faith he came to the conclusion with excitement, if God wants to give him another testament (the Book of Mormon) then he should find out...and upon our parting we were all on cloud 9 with the spirit, and Alan is excited and wants more things to test including coming to church and living the word of wisdom! and act in faith to find an answer

The Thing that made this lesson, wasn't our preparedness (although it was a close second because without it we couldn't of had the first) the first being the presence of the Holy Ghost as our third companion.

Alan after our meeting, showing off his Base Guitar skills (shout-out Dad)...the little one on the floor is his youngest of three kids:)


Ultimately this spirit didn't leave the rest of the week and out of the woodwork came a former investigator by the name of carol who gave us a call Sunday night, asking for a book of Mormon and we just happened to be around the corner and were at her home just moments after her call, she sat down and told us that when she read the book a few weeks prior, she felt the Holy Ghost tell her the book is true, out right she told us she quit smoking, moved away from bad influences and want to be faithful in coming to church, we extended the invitation to be baptized and she immediately accepted and wrote it down, and is set to work with all her heart might mind and strength to be ready by that day which is April 18th by the way.

The only interruption from the spirit was during planning on Sunday night, when my companion and I had a petty disagreement and the feeling was empty, as I could feel the spirit fleeing our apartment in what had just been a miracle filled night, surely Satan didn't want us to be unified with the spirit, so after cooling our heads for a few minutes we met and talked it out, recognizing that we needed the spirit and each other as soon as possible and in my nightly personal prayer I felt the spirit nudging me to fast from non-hymn music this week, (this was something that my companion loves he loves the hymns) I felt he Holy Ghost prompting me not because out of obedience, but out of love and sacrifice for my companion and for the sake of unity, "inspirational non-hymn music is okay, but for this week show your companion you care about his needs and I will work miracles" was the thought I felt the spirit whisper to me and so I committed to heavenly father to fast from non-hymn music this week, and when I did the spirit came rushing...flooding our apartment and my heart again like it had never left.
Don't get me wrong, I don't feel that other music that I was listening to outside of the hymns (which were in the bounds of the music guidelines that you set for the mission) was wrong, I felt the spirit and was in tune with the spirit the whole week while listening to music beyond the hymns, but this was something that I personally felt the spirit prompting me to sacrifice for the benefit of my companion and thus for unity and thus for our investigators this week.

the concluding thought I had upon going to bed this week I felt the spirit remind me of, actually came from one of my favorite films Frozen...

"Love is putting someone else's needs above you own." 
-Olaf

It may be silly but it struck me and when I went to bed last night with that thought I was at peace and was joyful looking forward to the miracles, blessings and excitement that are surely in store this week. 

I am grateful for President Salisbury for giving us the room to choose for ourselves I don't feel that I would have been blessed or impacted in the way I have been this week if I was guided by a very strict and specific law, which didn't give me room to judge on my own and learn on my own, but with his stewardship, guidance and teaching to help me to choose what would bring me happiness, and ultimately trusting me and the spirit to make the right choice (while it took some time to get it right) now it is my choice and I have a genuine desire for the blessings that come from a higher law, higher desire for unity and the companionship of the Holy Ghost. 

I guess that is kind of how heavenly father feels sometimes about our agency, sometimes it might seem easier to give us specifics and every little detail of law, but he knows we grow more when we learn for our self the right choice and he will let us know when we have made the right choice.

​I also went on exchanges with Elder Johnson in Covington VA...so I now have 4 states on my mission...Kentucky (the #1 state), Ohio, WV and VA...stumbled across this sign and had to photograph it.
​Just Driving...notice how every photograph this week is sunny...it was simply splendid:)

 Driving Through Virginia on our way back from Zone Meeting in Lexington was a pleasant scenic drive, I can't wait to see it in a few weeks when the green starts to come back, we already spotted a just few green buds on some trees. 

Below: Coming back across the W. VA. Border and into Greenbriar County



 #shoutout to Elder Cluff #BOLTRules! #TMNT...Alan is a fan of TMNT so it was he served us some soda in this glass. Made me think of my man BOLT!

This Truck is a usual in Downtown Lewisburg, Elder Sawyer and I had a fun time seeing how many characters we could name on the truck.
 The Weather has been nothing short of Amazing this week, getting up into the 70's with clear skies, and still no sign of snow this winter, no complaints and has made is so much easier to get out and work more so than we usually could, the warm weather I have noticed just makes it that much easier to talk to people when they don't want to escape the cold. #CountYourManyBlessings

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 3, 2015

So Short week to report on, after three days of working with the city and the water restored we resumed our normal schedule on Thursday.
Although it was a double whammy on Wednesday night when literally right after we finished emailing last Wednesday the Power went out city-wide...this was the first time I think I have every experienced a complete blackout in the true sense of the word, it was on top of still not having drinking water for most.   
 The city rushed to get every vehicle they had to intersections to light them with their headlights, but it was totally dark with out them. Below is a photo I took on our way home of one of the main streets that is normally bright as day with lights, but there wasn't a light on in the city...on the bright side the stars were incredible that night. Power was restored the next day.
 So the photo below, I saw this sight on the way back from interviews in Virginia and said..."hey that is where Elder Cluff took that photo" so I proceeded to take the same photo...#Lovemycluffcluff
 Allen our top investigator continues to be full of surprises he found this postcard from the 1964 worlds fair in New York in his attic...needless to say I was pretty elated.
 Overall as far as an update here goes, First that Alan continues to progress he is featured in my handwritten letter I am sending home, but I have gained a stronger testimony of Smart Goals, We set out to have a new investigator at church this week and after one investigator fell through, We walked in the sacrament meeting and a member comes up to me and says, we have a visitor today..."he really likes giving service" Brandon was his name I introduced myself..."you the sales man" he asked..."well I suppose you could look at it that way" I laughed...he stayed for all three hours of church and was thrilled by the title we gave him of "investigator" he was in no way shy, he was getting along very well with the ward members, we taught him the Plan of Salvation later today...which he was very impressed by and we will be teaching him again tomorrow here at the library. 

Funny story we were actually at a Waffle Love party at the Medical school alumni center put on by the members of the church here, before the superbowl with the ward members and one of our investigators and one members kids pulled the Fire Alarm at the school. It made for an exciting time and a quick clean-up and exit plus a great memory

 It was funny because the fireman and state trooper, we knew from distributing water early in the week. "Yep us Mormons are going to burn the whole town down" I joked.
We have also been blessed with a number of Ice storms...which make for some really pretty photos afterward.
 Not sure if I sent this photo last week but did I mention that Lewisburg is beautiful