Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015

Dearest All

It was a grand week, we worked hard and diligently, not all with ease either, which I suppose is why it was a great week, because it took work and even though we didn't see any immediate results (as I have been blessed by often over the course of my mission) I felt the spirit and simply that the Lord was pleased with our efforts and felt Preach My Gospel's measure of success more so than ever before, dedication.

It is has not been easy to stay motivated with my usual excitement in this area...Tuesday was proving to be my make or break point, we had a day full of plans and appointments resulting from the efforts of last weekend...then one by one every single one cancelled or rescheduled, turning to our back-up plans which was a finding effort or some 6:00 I was tired and a little down on myself, when we came in prepared and ate dinner and following the meal, and about to go out again & my heart was heavy, and sat down while waiting for my companion I looked up to the picture of the savior in our dining room and the spirit brought to my memory the words of a scripture I had read recently.

Alma 26:27
"27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success."

Encouraged by this whisper from the spirit, I pondered and remembered that The Savior and remembered him and brought sight that our afflictions are so small, I am so blessed with every luxury a missionary can enjoy. That doesn't mean our challenges aren't challenges but it certainly brought the perspective of how do-able they are.

We prepared to head out into the cool evening, blessed with heavy cozy coats and gloves, we prayed and walked around our wonderful high class neighborhood, instantly I felt better, full of hope and motivation, we did end up meeting two hopeful families that night (which we plan to see this evening, now back in town from their thanksgiving travel). However what I learned or rather reminded of most is that the Lord knows and he knows me, knows my heart...We put forth our best efforts in-spite of disappointments and I felt incredibly successful as a result simply because we were dedicated to doing what the lord wanted.

We kept that pattern and attitude through the rest of the week, and again on thanksgiving with no teaching appointments planned, we turned to the promise in the Missionary Handbook under Sundays and holidays

"On Sunday, spend as much time as possible proselyting. Sundays, Saturdays, and holidays are excellent opportunities for finding and teaching because many families are together and are at home."

So we planned a day full of primarily finding with one visit to a friend and another to less-active, we wanted to be tactful so not to be obnoxious to family dinners and such, but not just do nothing or overstay at a members home for our dinner that evening, we prayed that the Lord would help fill our evening with purpose...we set out again, armed with thanksgiving scriptures to share from the Book of Mormon. I just felt the motivation from the spirit and a few hours into our day about to move on from one finding activity to another...I looked back and saw a family outside playing a game with their children and just felt inclined to walk that way rather than head to the car...not having a clue of what do or say, right as I was about to talk to this family, a voice from behind us called out "Elders! Elders!"
Behind us was a woman by the name of R.F. in her car with her children...she explained she was a member from Philadelphia PA, in-town visiting her mother who is not a member of the church, she invited us for dinner to which we arranged to come for dessert following the dinner provided by our bishop and his family. She gave us the address, which ended up being kiddie-corner from our apartment...full of joy and excitement the rest of the day was easy, plans worked out and the day flew by...after dinner (to which the Bishop was happy to dismiss us early so we could go to this appointment), We arrived greeted by the member we met earlier and her husband and their 4 young children, happy to discover that their mother also was hosting their next door neighbors for thanksgiving,

The cherry on top was that the Husband was wearing a Marshall Shirt, and had attended UVU, and the wife was related to people I knew back in White Sulphur Springs our table conversation with the members sparked the conversation with the non-member neighbors to which the members explained and shared their conversion story (The wife joined when she was 17 or 18 and met her husband shortly after he returned from his mission).

It was grand but you get the picture, the end of it was that the Lord answered our prayers and the blessing came from applying one of the Lord's promises. We later visited the neighbors and the non-member mother again with a thank you card and "A savior is born" the neighbors were happy to see us again and I am extremely Hopeful about their potential! 

Everything is falling into place for the booth at the Roanoke Star, the final permission from the director of the park we should have tomorrow. The ward has provided all the supplies and again my excitement builds each time all the pieces come together, like many events in the past.

We are finding our tails off and also experiencing a tremendous success with 3 Less-active members (one of which is now a rescue) We are treating them just like a recent convert, meeting with them in member's homes and the spirit has been ever present in these returning lessons, particularly with Sister Dawson.

In fact in church this past week she came up to us after and told us that following our lesson with her the day before Her boyfriend who came outside for only a moment or two said later to her after we had left with tears in his eyes that he knew we were "called of God" and that he thinks that his mother is a member of the church in Mexico, A big answer to her prayers and humbling for Elder Mclune and I...feeling the spirit of that and letting it sink in, I sometimes forget how others see us when they feel the spirit, grateful to be a missionary.

Elder Wheeler

Hope everyone enjoyed Star it what it looked like from our end...we actually met someone who is learning about the gospel with the missionaries at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg while we were up here on Wednesday...almost without fail we have met members of the church and their families from all over up here at the star each time we come up here.
Fun fact I suppose...made in Roanoke since 1902

Turkeys deep frying in Downtown Roanoke on Thanksgiving, following the Drumstick dash 5k I love running, didn't run this race but I do live the atmosphere around the race.

Enjoying the last of the fall colors.​

Another member family from Tennessee came up to the star on thanksgiving, and I was pleased to see their Golden doodle.  ​​

​Thanksgiving dinner was very elegant at the bishop's home, Bishop Horchler and his family purchased this old plantation mansion from the city a couple years back and have been renovating it since...the inside is spectacular...and probably among the top 3 of my finest dining experiences ever.

​These are the F.' much fun and the answer to our thanksgiving prayer as mentioned above...there were so many little details in this day that just let me know that the Lord loves me and knows what will make me happy, I imagine he enjoys seeing our joy in our reaction to the little things he arranges...

So we walked in and E. (the husband) was wearing the Marshall shirt that is over my shoulder...I said "no way did you go to Marshall" (it was the first bit of Marshall swag I have seen since I arrived in Roanoke) he said no "I just got this shirt at a thrift store for $1 in PA" but he did go to UVU to become a the night went on conversation was very easy and their family is absolutely adorable. Before we left I said "now I have to get a photograph with you and that shirt"...and "he said do you want it?" Before I could answer he had changed and gave me the shirt...we all had a good laugh about it, but it really was touching as small as it was I really felt Heavenly Father's personal love for me, knowing how much I do miss Marshall, but am happy to be here in Roanoke too...small and silly some may say but it really was impactful and Heavenly Father went far beyond in an answer to our prayer.

Fits perfectly, Shout out to the HERD!

That's All this Week
Love yins
Elder Wheeler

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015

The week has proven to be a enduring week but a rewarding one, I am happy with the results of a lot of hard work spent in planning and cleaning, we took a couple hours out of the day to do something to bring the area up to a higher standard, from cleaning out old records, deep cleaning a room in the apartment, deep cleaning the car and organizing supplies, and the the weekend everything was tight, tidy and organized and I feel like I could take a deep breath and look back on what was accomplished.

Elder McClune said "If his former companion came back he wouldn't recognize the apartment"

With the area cleaned up and organized our days quickly got easier to plan and finding being the large emphasis, we found two promising new friends, to which I was over joyed and really raised my spirits!
This week has dawn me back to Preach My Gospel in seeking direction, and this week the spirit has really whispered to me more than ever before through PMG particularly in Chapter 9

A.H. - Mother in her 30's met her walking on the street near our apartment, (which by the way is located in an charming neighborhood, which reminds me of Lewisburg) Discovering that she works at a private school owned by members in the Salem ward, where many of her co-workers are the end of the conversation she was smiling instead of scolding. Again super hopeful about her.

M. - A single 55 year old man, again met walking on the street taught him twice so far, and asked the question, "if you knew what we have taught you today is true, would you join that church?" He said the following in reply "I am going to find out by reading this book (The Book of Mormon)"

Last I will share two ideas that have surfaced in which I hope to apply the use of "A Savior is Born", in correlation with our ward mission leader and the Parks and Recreation department we are planning to do a small booth at the Roanoke Star on several evenings in December, where we will show the Christmas video and have free hot chocolate for the visitors to the star...the star seems fitting for the occasion...the genius I hope will come of this idea is that people come up to the star to make a short visit usually with groups, couples and families to take a photograph and take in the view from the over look, in the past couple days we have made it a finding activity to go up and offer to take a photo for them with their camera, this was usually enough to ask the question, "where are you from" or say "you have a great family" which sparks up a conversion which shortly will lead to an invitation to learn more about the gospel and teach.

We also are going to meet with the Chaplin at the Carillon Hospital near our apartment to present " A savior is born" and see in what way it can bless the lives of those at this very large Hospital.

these and a few other ideas I am excited about, applying what I learned and experienced last Christmas in Prestonsburg KY, and overall am very excited about Christmas.

Elder Wheeler

bathroom before
Inline image 1
After...I think I coped with this transfer with cleaning...I overall feel so much better. 
Bathroom after...the rest of the house followed suit...lots of bleach, elbow grease, and Team work
​Carillon Tower near our apartment this is just one building on a very large medical campus, they are also about to build another 15 story tower right next to this one.

Downtown Roanoke
​The white star...the colors that you saw last week are only on holidays and memorials, last week was because of the attacks in Paris.
​Here is something fun for everyone, we will be on the star overlook talking to people again this week on Wednesday November 25th at 4:30-ish Eastern Time go the website on the sign and we will wave.
That is all for this week
Love you all
Elder Wheeler

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

​This was a week full of travel and conferences, this was us stuck in Traffic with the Hazard Elders on I-64 took 45 min to go 0.8 miles...but we made it, most of the zone was stuck in it with us, it made for a great time on the way though.

The reason for our travel to Charleston was our mission conference with Elder Kopishca (I am sure I spelled that wrong, it is a German name)...Super incredible conference...then we went back to Huntington, taught S. and then went back to Charleston the next morning for a special Mission Leadership Conference with Elder Kopishca again. Spiritual tired by the end of it.
Sheetz for dinner with Hazard Elders...Elder Taylor and Elder Crook...considering their area is 3 hours from Huntington and 4 from Charleston we brought the Hazard Elders up early the night before the conference to stay with us.

​Seeing some familiar faces at the was so strange not to see my friends. Elder Myers, Elder Cluff, Elder Thompson, Elder Ostler, Elder Chevelier...miss you all...but I did get to spend some time with my younger missionary friends like Elder Tupou...who is now in the Huntington zone in Ashland KY 

​Shortly after arriving back in Huntington on Friday, President Salisbury called while we were practicing for a special musical number, with PJ, M. and Hh in preparation for P.N.'s baptism...He asked me to switch places with a missionary in Roanoke VA, my heart dropped and stayed there...I absolutely love Huntington and Marshall and all my friends there...without hesitation I say it was harder to leave Huntington on such short notice than it was to leave for the MTC...we had a little over 24 hours before I had to leave.
We broke the news to our little Herd...I was brought to many tears over the next day, I just didn't want to go, but a instrument in the Lord's hand goes were he is told. 

As we finished up teaching J. one last time on Friday night, S. spoke and told me some things I will not soon forget, mentioning how much his life has been touched and blessed by my service, mentioning how genuine it all has been, "you can't sell Christ but you can show him and you did that"

I really won't be able to capture the spirit felt in that last day at Marshall with words.


​Many powerful spirit filled lessons and strong friendships forged here in the Drinko Library

​There is a bit of an inside Joke here, and the "Elder Marshall" quote on the board is one from J. herself...I really miss her and all the rest.

​Upon conclusion of the very busy evening we all took to Pullman square for one more meal all together, at Pullman Square.
This was a happy peaceful night...with friends who will all meet again in the not to distant future. 
J. had to go the eastern Kentucky University for the weekend so we said our parting words and testimony...that simply "I know that this church will bless your life more than anything else because it is His church" J. has come so far so fast...and she will continue to...see you again soon.

​Parking Garage selfie...

​The next morning was a fitting final day, with the 1970 plane crash anniversary memorial and Brother N's baptism...could not have asked for a more beautiful day for the occasion.

​The Previous night we had to move Elder Marshall (the chalkboard) a little ways from the student center with anticipation a large crowd, everything came together perfectly, the quote from J. fit the occasion and a couple thousand people attended and walked right past the sign en-route for the fountain from the parking garage, some even stopped to take photographs with "Elder Marshall"

​The design of the memorial fountain symbolizes falling and rising...I am sure many of you know the story of "We are Marshall"...which is more than just the movie it really is the spirit of the school and Huntington...It was incredible to able to a part of the Marshall family and feel the unity in cause and hope...the 1970 crash did more than re-build a football team it brought out the human family in Huntington and continues to serve as a reminder of what is possible in the sight of adversity and  the joy of the accomplishment that follows. The ceremony was moving and motivating.

The tradition is the Silencing of the fountain​ the 75 names who perished in the crash are read...there were many excellent speakers and felt a little like a BYU devotional. It was silent...and Huntington is never silent...but it was for this moment...and ended with one very earth rumbling WE ARE...MARSHALL!

​I was able to teach the N's family one last time and the great news to finish off with them is that Christian (there infant boy) came home after nearly two months in the NICU. This is one Happy family with eternal goals in the sights.

​As the hour of my departure my heart just kept pounding with mixed emotions, the joyful occasion of P.N.'s baptism and the difficulty of leaving...I am excited to be in Roanoke but every area just gets harder and harder to leave. The assistants were coming to make the transfer just after the baptism.

​P.N.s Baptism was wonderful and again a great sense of joy for him and also the YSA's and the K Family, who have been member missionaries since P's childhood, who came from P's hometown to be here and was baptized by their son J. President and Sister Salisbury even came to the Baptism.

​After the baptism and P.N. was off to dinner with the K. Family, we were able to exchange some heartfelt words...and said farewell, I know he will go so far and will be a sharp sword in the Lord's hand...Elder Andersen and I were able to spend a little while longer with PJ, M. and Hh. 

I read a few passages from  Alma 17...this chapter as just absolutely come alive for me in my mission, I love being a missionary, it is the greatest thing I have ever done in my life, I love the spirit I feel and the love I gain from these great friends through my mission and watching the spirit work in each of their lives as it has for me and will again and again. The growth and spirit at Marshall and Huntington has increased dramatically in the time we have been there together. 

 10 And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted.
 11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the [The HERD], thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.
 12 And it came to pass that the hearts of the [The Mormon Herd], and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the [The HERD] to declare unto them the word of God.
 13 And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.

The spirit was very strong with our last few minutes together, I felt the love and joy of all that has happened in the short 4 months, none of us is the same from when we all met each other, each of us has grown and I know the lord was behind it all. After a few more tears I boarded the Van and headed south, (hardest thing I have done in my mission yet)...for a long drive to the one part of the mission that I haven't been to yet. 
A few familiar places seen along the way.
passing through Beckley 

​Blurry...yes, but if you could read it you would see us slipping through Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs at 9:00 Saturday...I said a short prayer for all my friends in Lewisburg, The G.'s, The B.'s, The L.'s, The Glk.s, The B.'s and a few others...miss you all too.

​First impressions of is the largest city in the mission and very clean, new and crisp, so much new construction it is just a thriving city...also big...did I mention big...this is the hospital that we live up the road from just out of downtown Roanoke, the city is settled in a valley surrounded by some hills that can actually almost call themselves feels and reminds me of Salt Lake City. Not to mention there are 6 or 7 wards in the valley or near area is tiny in comparison to everywhere else I have been.  
Our trip up to the Star last night on our way in...Roanoke is "The Star City" There is a giant neon Star on the hilltop that overlooks the city.

​Roanoke down below.

​That is all for this week...I miss Huntington Dearly, I move forward with excitement here in Roanoke...this city is Alive and well, president Salisbury gave me a few instructions in a hopes to accomplish much down with that...let's get to work.

Love You All
Elder Wheeler

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

Dearest All

​Elder Davis & I teaching zone meeting.

​Elder Davis & His final P-day here in Huntington, a member Brother M. was kind enough to take him and Sister Farnsworth (shout-out to the Farnsworth's in Lewisburg, cousins if I recall correctly) golfing at the Elks club in nearby Portsmouth OH.

​I had a grand time, there were only two cards which equaled 4 I was the lucky one who ran/walked the entire course...felt great! brother Mazon's GPS estimated it to be about  4.5 miles

​With every sunset comes a new dawn...looking across the Ohio River to Kentucky 

​This particular new dawn came in the wonderful form of Elder Andersen! This is us meeting up at the Transfer meeting in Charleston and greeting the new members of our zone. Which the zone had a rather large turn-over in this transfer 11 of the 15 companionships had a new companion.

I also parted ways with a few more of my long time mission friends who took their airline travel home this past week...Elder Ostler...

​...& Elder Thompson...the Winns who you see the background will also go home with-in this transfer on December dearly I will miss my fellow missionary friends...but will wish them the best and see them soon enough.

​....we will be back later today to finish-up the story of Operation: "Welcome Elder Andersen to The Herd"
I am happy to say that with Elder Andersen's prime attitude and energetic personality...both he and I have become instant friends and effective teachers, and he has quickly earned the friendship and trust with the members and friends we work with. 

Brother P.N. (being baptized this Saturday) will undoubtedly prove to be a productive and self-sufficient member of the church. We with him planned and arranged his baptismal service and I am excited for him, however I think I am equally if not more excited about the opportunity it will be for many of our other friends who are not far beyond P.N. in progress to feel the spirit and I have every hope and will pray that this carefully planned and prepared baptismal service will be a tipping point for many of our friends in their final leaps of faith toward this sacred covenant. 

The N.'s family is nothing short of stellar...we have now taught them essentially every preach My Gospel principle and they are progressing dramatically in living the word of wisdom. Elder Andersen and I taught them last night, bringing along a couple of our friends from Marshall to help corral and tend to their small children while we was perfect and at the conclusion of the lesson brother N.'s said this "I want to be a priesthood holder to bless my family and baptize my children, and go be sealed in the temple forever" Elder Andersen's jaw nearly smashed against the floor! I really love this family, The ward continues to surround them with support. This family has it's goal of baptism on December 26th

J.M. - came to institute (which she asked to come to herself, to which I was elated about) with the Marshall YSA's at the church building and afterward we gave her a tour of the building and she plans to attend church this coming week which with Brother N.'s baptism. This is a big step for her, she has brought her life in accordance with Gospel principles eg: living the Law of Chastity and keeping the Word of Wisdom! Church attendance has been a hurdle for her, having poor experiences with churches in the past. On this tour we took with us members who planned to sit with her (M. & Hh) and walked her through an average Sunday and helping her to know what to expect, which was a big help for her. 

In conclusion I continue to be amazed at the hand of the Lord in organizing and orchestrating it all to think of where each of our friends and ourselves were just a few years ago to each by different means and factors brought here to know each other and together get closer to and know our savior and feel his love and the powerful comforting joyful presence of the spirit. 

Looking ahead, we have arranged with the H's for all of our Marshall YSA's on the final day of the Semester to attend a Recent convert baptism session at the Columbus Temple on December 11th which I hope will be the grand finale to this semester full of spiritual progress for our friends, recent converts, recent rescues and members. I am excited and joyful for this thought, which with each who plans to attend we had some fun with on this past week, searching for family to take with them. Our hope and vision is to HELP prepare each of these our dear bothers and sisters go to the temple with full accompaniment of The Spirit of Elijah & the Holy Ghost and have a grand spiritual experience together in which none will forget. 

There are many more stories to share, which all in due time will be. 

With love and gratitude 
Elder Wheeler