Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016

A little bit about my transfer...we found out on Saturday that I was getting transferred (which came as a total surprise, especially because Elder McClune is staying, considering he has already been in Roanoke 6 months.) and then on Monday President Salisbury called me and explained where and why...So I am moving just over the bridge per-say to the Roanoke YSA Ward, which President Salisbury called "a strange beast" because there isn't really a university here, but there are still YSA aged people. I am stoked to get a YSA assignment again, he explained to me he hopes I will take my expeirence in Huntington and see what we can do help this small YSA ward (about 10 people). President Salisbury said this in my emails with him:

"I think you are a terrific missionary and I have yet another assignment for you in the mission. It is unique and will require your very best to both help a young missionary discover the love of the Lord and His people and how to serve with obedience and see miracles while still being creative. I can't think of a better missionary than you to do this. It has some unusual constraints and challenges and will require your very best to avoid casualness and to do this with purpose. I have great confidence in you and look forward to talking with you more about this.

I know you will finish strong and obedient and full of faith, miracles, and creative inspiration!

Love, President Salisbury"

I am very excited to get right to work in the Roanoke YSA Ward...literally the transfer is so close, it should be the smoothest transfer of my mission. I will still have a "SW" Roanoke address even. 

I have been praying for direction and how to best accomplish what President Salisbury hopes for. I fully intend to keep sharpening my basic missionary skills, and seek inspired ideas.

To report on a few things here in Vinton 2, Prior to the snowfall we were able to attend a neighborhood meeting for "South Roanoke" (which is the location of our apartment). Elder McClune and I were happy when we ran into Brother M.P. at the meeting who is a recent convert. (Turns out he is is well known in the community and everyone spoke very highly of him and knew that he had recently joined the church.) Toward the end of the meeting the head of the organization, asked us to introduce our-selves and explain what we do (She had just recently returned from a vacation to Utah). It was spectacular, everyone in attendance was happy to have us in the neighborhood, they added our new phone number to a community contact list and we were able to get contact information of the leaders of the neighborhood organization, (which is made up of simply people who care about their neighborhood) I will include the notes from this meeting in the area book. 

This was a big resource in getting to know our neighbors, which was excellent when we were able to serve many of our neighbors during the snowfall. Spending 3 days shoveling and enjoying the snow in South Roanoke...One thing I loved about the snow is that oddly enough it brought everyone outside and walking around during the 3 days that the snow plows were no where to be seen. It felt wonderful to have the neighborhood bustling with neighbors, children sledding and parents enjoying watching their children and plenty of shoveling. It felt like the world just slowed down for those 3 days in a wonderful way, people were off their phones and out of their cars, helping each other and laughing with each other. I certainly enjoyed it and felt that we took full advantage of the opportunity to serve and invite others to learn, in part thanks the to good example of missionaries who have lived in the area before us, created the curiosity that we were able to meet several potential friends and even set one appointment. 

​Finally made it to the one and only Popeye's Chicken in the mission...Reminded me of all those times on the road with Uncle Creighton. 

​It was awesome there where people all over the neighborhood on skis, sleds and ATV's it felt like being at the cabin or up on the mountain was 3 days before everything got moving again. 
​The view from the top of 24th street which was the popular sledding hill.

​The H. family took us out to dinner at Kabuki...I will share more of the little miracles and laughs of this night next week...but we have to get going for a few more transfer things to take care of...btw I am going to miss Elder McClune I love all my companions each is unique and is irreplaceable. 

thats all for yins.
Elder Wheeler

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 18, 2016

Dearest All

Can you believe another transfer has gone by...this past one was like a flash of lightning it went so fast.  Elder McClune has been an absolute hoot to serve with, I was reminded by a former companion that this weekend will be my 2nd to last transfer call (that is so freaky but exciting all at the same time.) I would be lying if I were to say that wasn't hoping to assigned to train a new missionary my last two transfers...but we will find out soon if the Lord has it in the cards. Regardless these last two transfers are going to be awesome.

There is not a lot to report this week specifically, we have been busy with a few new friends, like D.W. and her son, who we are teaching with Sister D. and another friend by the name of W.T. who I believe I have mentioned before...he reminds me so much of A.B. from back in Lewisburg...speaking of which, I was delighted when President Salisbury had the sister missionaries currently serving there, call me and talk about the area and certain people to get in contact with for the year of upcoming events...including the West Virginia State Fair, which we got the ball rolling for this coming year when I was there.

We had interviews with President Salisbury this past week, which was the best one yet! He mentioned how much he is going to miss me as a missionary...It was a heartfelt interview...the interview was also wonderful, the spirit taught me a number of things to do in these precious final months of this full-time service and preparing to remain in the lord's service even after I will no longer have the privilege of wearing this honorable name-tag.

I will also be looking forward to participating with all my missionary friends in the first ever worldwide missionary training, which will happen tomorrow morning, Missionaries all over the world will gather in stake centers etc. to watch the broadcast which will be in Salt Lake City.

We were also invited to attend a neighborhood meeting for South Roanoke (Nicknamed SoRo...kind of reminds me of SoJo in Utah) tonight, which am particularly excited about and getting to know more of our neighbors and discover more ways to get involved. 

​My growing quote/photograph wall...

​A neat photo captured with the silhouette of Mill Mountain in the background. We were contacting some referrals and got caught in a cold rain up in garden city (a suburb of Roanoke) You can see the city lights in the foggy distance and the red lights at the top of the radio tower by the Roanoke Star at the top of the hill.

​Fellow volunteers serving dinner at the rescue mission here in Roanoke...I was shocked by how many women and children live in the shelter was one of the best times I have had in my mission working to feed hundreds of was very fullfilling and the other volunteers had plenty of questions for us about us and the church...we will be doing this twice a month.  

​Sleepy McClune Catching a nap following an awesome lunch that Elder McClune and I were very proud of how well our cooking turned out. #EldersCanCook.

​Finding the occasional Marshall Swag around the neighborhood.

​On one final funny note...The Davis family had this gem in their was rather humorous...a Bathroom Guest Book.

Alrighty well I think that is about it for this week...let you all know how the transfer news goes...It is all up in the air as far as what could happen should be exciting regardless...Love you all.

Elder Wheeler

Monday, January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016

Dearest all

We are still reaping the harvest from our GPS and loving it, not to mention we have significantly reduced the amount of miles we have used comparative to the same time last month, yet have accomplished more we feel. 

The results have also brought out a higher quality in our teaching and planning, we reached out to certain families in coordination with the Bishop to ask these families to invite recent converts and recent-returning members to come to the temple with them on their next personal trip to the temple (no-later than February), The plans have worked, this past week each of the families asked came with us to teach and visit these recent converts to befriend them. Then they will personally extend the invitation in the near future. This felt like orchestrating at it's best from "behind the scenes" per-say

Members - Recent Converts
The H. Family - Sister D.
The D. Family - The M. Family
The F. Family - Brother P.

In addition the fruits of our GPS Directory has resulted in two new less-active families, willing to be taught and ready to return and a handful of new potentials and appointments with investigators and Less-active members which have our evenings after 5:00 completely booked 4 days in advance this week. Which has enabled us to plan for these appointments with more time ahead, and members coming to these appointments with us, two of which are a recent convert and a recent rescue. It feels less like planning and more like uncovering the lord's long term plan to recovering and helping the less-active and those searching for the truth.

Brother B. who I have mentioned before met with his Home Teacher for the first time in a long time yesterday as a result of these efforts as well, and is really softening to coming to church, I am pretty sure we will see him in sacrament meeting very soon...which will be a very joyous occasion for me:) He is such a good man.

Plus two new friends, one of which (M. F.) is progressing excitedly, and his second lesson became the first Member-Present Lesson we have had since I arrived. We had our ward mission leader come, feeling they had similar interests and lived relatively close. The lesson went splendid Marcus was "astonished" by the Plan of Salvation and described feeling the spirit as "Feeling fuzzy...its a good fuzzy" it is wonderful to have an investigator who is truly a friend and is happy and excited for us to come and teach him more, this shows a sincerity level which invites the spirit significantly.

However a wonderful side effect of this was that the ward mission leader Brother B. bore his testimony to the rest of the priesthood brethren in the ward about how he felt the spirit from going with us to teach.

 Also at the beginning of the new year we planned and fasted for our efforts in working with members and have been inviting members simply to think of the first person who comes to their mind, not to over think it, just the first person in mind who can be blessed by the gospel, and to simply and sincerely invite them to learn more as they are directed by the spirit to do so. 
(This was something I remember President Salisbury invited us to do with members shortly after President Salisbury first arrived in the mission when I was in Parkersburg) 
Doing so has resulted in more spirit filled dinner appointments, and really has helped the members to think of those in their lives (whether they live far or close). It also has immediately resulted in more dinner and lunch appointments with members that did not result from a calendar, but rather members inviting us over individually even the day of from time to time. We made plans with them to follow-up in two weeks or so to ask what they have done and have been reminding them when we see them at church or around town, praying for them, and so on...It has a simple but powerful spirit to it again bringing it back to the basics and I am confident with result in referrals even if just a few but will also help the membership of the ward feel the missionary spirit and joy and keep the work rolling forward in a snowball fashion.

Also both of the recent Converts in the ward spoke in sacrament meeting, which was awesome!

​This is a bit of a mission relic called "The spirit of Elder Hurst"...this stick was found by Elder Cluff on John Cambell's property in White Sulphur Springs (which if you go back through my letters in WSS you will see plenty of) and Elder Cluff was taught to conduct music by Elder Hurst (who was a marching band drum major and frequently conducted music at mission meetings and transfers) After Elder Hurst finished his mission Elder Cluff by popular demand began to conduct the music and added the stick to the mix of things, then when Elder Cluff Went home he entrusted the stick to Elder Numbers who has it in his trust till the end of his mission and with it the duty to conduct the music with zeal!

This is Sister B. or Granny P. as she prefers we have been to see her a few times and inform her of the happenings at church since she has been in this care center a few weeks, she is a 19 year old in an 80 year old's body...and she is actually a sister to sister B. back in WSS, who had us over for lunch frequently there. I have acquired a love for visiting the elderly (at least the really cool ones) in my mission. 

​I went on exchanges this week with Elder Rawle here in Roanoke VA, on this exchange we taught M. F. who is very excited to learn more about the gospel so far we have taught him about the restoration and The Plan of Salvation. Astonished is the best word to describe his reaction as we have taught him. 

​This is R.P. a long time friend of the missionaries in Roanoke, he is the person I mentioned a couple weeks ago who paid tithing...he mentioned to us how he was having money troubles, so we taught him about the blessings of tithing. He felt the spirit and paid tithing a couple days later, two weeks later we asked him if he has seen the blessings from that and...he paused for a moment and then realized that he was at the gas station and the manager offered him $40 to sweep the parking lot for them and $20 to restock the refrigerators with beverages for them. (He doesn't work at the gas station either)...Elder McClune and I certainly had our testimony's reinforced in tithing as a result then boldly R. also crushed his cigarettes. 

​The W. family had us over for dinner last night and we discovered their creative-ness by hanging swings inside for their girls in the was an adorable sight to walk into their cabin and see their girls swinging away...right before we left we had our turn. the W. home is always a treat.

The W.'s also tracked down a photo of former Elder McClune and framed it and hung it on their wall and waited for us to was one of those "what-the..." moments we had to take a double take when we first noticed it...then everyone busted up was a grand time.​

​Just before leaving our apartment this morning, I came to the realization how much the weight of the end of my mission has hit me since the turn of the new year in a fantastic way...I feel kind of like since the turn of the new year I have caught a second wind...organizing a few of the things the future holds around the quote and the promise of the lord to seek his will first (accomplishment of my mission and his work) and my hopes and dreams will be taken care of...I love being a missionary is a secure feeling to trust the lord.

That's All folks
Elder Wheeler
Love yins

Monday, January 4, 2016

January 4, 2016

Dearest All, sorry this letter took so long to send I think you will see why...because it is long...enjoy, love you all. Hope to connect with you all today.

The week has been great! The new year always has people in the mindset to become better
and do better with personal goals.

I was reading the Book of Mormon on New Years Eve, in Helman 10 and felt the spirit giving me direction, rather briskly & directly I might add. In Verses 3-5 the lord is pleased with Nephi for his "unwearyingness".

"3 And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works ofdarkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold,voice came unto him saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which havegiven unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own lifebut hast sought my willand to keep mycommandments.
 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, will bless thee forever; and will make thee mighty in word and in deed, infaith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy wordfor thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will."
I felt the spirit calling me to repent and improve my attitude in regards to the remainder of my mission (which wasn't bad, but just wasn't as good as it could be) which is a short time. In reality I am tired as I am sure you every missionary and president will agree with me in treasuring those hours at night when the lord lets us rest our physical bodies. While still excited and hard working I feel but I lost a bit of my zeal just was a little dull this past transfer and recalling what I learned in MLC's (Mission Leadership Councils) past about working out of a slump, getting back to basics. (Elder Davis explained and taught this so well) Thus the spirit gave me my new years resolution to work with unwearyness...

I desire and have felt through my mission what the lord promised to Nephi "I will bless thee forever" and that he is pleased, I know he knows me, loves me, is patient with me and also is ready with a firm hand to help direct me for good and but the heat on to futher the refinement process of my mission and life.

The past few days since the turn of the new year, I have felt so much happier, full of energy and zeal, joyful, all feelings I have felt before but the abundance has increased. Simply by getting back to the basics, sharpen my basic skills a little more and with a repentant (improvement seeking) attitude everything is better (as it always is it is like the gospel is true or something), studies especially, I treasure the time to study the gospel, it is the spiritual rest and rejuvenation that sleep is to my physical body

Oddly enough right after studies on New years eve I began to feel the symptoms of a sinus infection coming on...I thought oh great I make a new years resolusion to be unweary then get sick immediately afterward, but it held off for the most part till the end of our working day which was conveniently 6:00pm (President Salisbury asked all missionaries to come in early that night for New Years Eve) we ate dinner, weekly planned and retired to bed.

New Years day to my dismay I found myself rather ill, while we managed to go to district meeting and kept the two appointments we set that day. But for the most part was laid-up, recovering. However, upon returning to our apartment from an appointment feeling rather drab, and having the thought of unwearyingness in mind, thinking how can I salvage this day yet?

Right as I was about to get out the car and go inside, an idea came to mind (that certainly was put there by the spirit) to grab the GPS and the ward directory and use the down time to input the entire list into my GPS. I had heard of other missionaries doing it but never did take the time (let's face it a few hours of entering names and addresses from a long list has never seemed appealing).

After sleeping a couple hours, I began the process and found myself captured in the activity, actually enjoying it. Also missionaries from the past couple years have kept a very well noted and organized ward roster, that we are able to "stand on their shoulders" this got me excited to meet these people and work around their homes and neighborhoods.  After dinner I enlisted Elder McClune in the cause and between the two of us working together we managed to input every name and address in our area over the course of about 3 hours, we also called many of these people and confirmed addresses and numbers etc. It was the most productive sick day ever, we were both full of the spirit in this activity, went to bed feeling a days hard work had been done.

The next day I was on the mend and back on my feet we set out with excitement to use our new tool...AMAZING Best idea ever! We chose to go visit a recent rescue (Sister D.), park the car at her home and then use the GPS to walk and work around the area We easily filled 3+ hours using this GPS Directory and stayed with-in 1-1.5 miles of the car, set-up to visit with new less-active member we didn't know, and also met a great new potential, not to mention many people on the list were just happy we stopped by even if they didn't want to meet at the moment.  I know this is not a new idea but it is a fantastic one and I highly recommend it!

The next day was the same story meeting Less-active members, and finding potential investigators (one of which is a family from Lewisburg WV and the wife attended Marshall University and the father is an Engineer, you can imagine my excitement in meeting them. Not to mention his mother's family are members of the church in Mississippi) The other thing is, doing this made is so easy to GET OUT OF THE CAR and walk. The family I just mentioned we met while we were walking past their home, as he pulled in and he walked out to the curb and started talking with us mentioning that when he was single living in Lewisburg the missionaries would visit him. It is simple and we pray the lord would prepare people around the names and addresses listed in the directory and he surely did and will.

We also have barely scratched the surface with this great tool. As we go we use the different symbols on the GPS to color code and categorize locations on the GPS as active member (which we also got to know and help some active members we didn't even know were in our area), less-active, part-member family, potential, former and current investigator. I am confident that doing this will keep us busy in every aspect of missionary work for at least the rest of the winter and likely clear to the end of my mission. I don't think we will ever find ourselves with nothing to do or not know what to do. 

This is the most effective and efficient (especially on miles) planning activity and tool I have ever used, wish I did it in every area, but it is also especially effective here in Roanoke because the area is smaller compared to most with so many members (active or less-active) living with in 10 miles I have ever seen in my mission.

Very excited
Elder Wheeler

District meeting on New Years Day, in Bedford VA (Left to right; Elder Rawle, Elder Moyle, Elder Bosen, Elder Caldwell, Elder Wheeler, Elder McClune)
Post New Years cheers
We also discovered a PHO restaurant in our area! was a swell treat and we made some new Vietnamese friends.
I also introduced Elder McClune to PHO...he is a fan. There will be a few more trips to this restaurant in the future.