Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 2016

Another week come and gone with the wind...wild, I am getting very excited for this last transfer of my mission it is going to be the Grand Finale! My heart literally gets beating faster with excitement both for the awesome stuff we have going on here in the mission and for returning home when the time comes...

So I am short on time this week because we have have had to detail clean our car because it has reached 50,000 miles and is being taken up to Charleston tomorrow, and will be replaced by a brand new car! Whoot transfer bonus, haha. (I mean all the mission vehicles are practically brand new anyhow, but this will be the newest car I have ever driven)

​First of all thank you everyone for the all the birthday cards it was awesome to get so many for a whopping grand total of 26! that is impressive...our mail man we ran into him the day after my birthday and he saw my name tag and said "happy birthday by the way" haha. They are all awesome!

​Birthday Pho "With Mom".  (We planned on eating together at noon on my birthday).

​Elder Wilkinson Approves...Note: He does not like to get his photo taken so this is a rare gem haha.

​The St. Patricks day parade float begins to take shape...I love this part of projects like this seeing it come from an idea to actually being is a lot of work but it is all coming together and the ward is getting excited about it now that the biggest hurdle of work is done.

​Working on the Float in Bishop Creamer's barn at his "resort" of a is amazing

​it is going to be Legit. Huge thank you to Bishop Creamer & Sister Creamer

​This is Sister H., she is the creative super mind of the ward...she was gathering down tree limbs for the two trees that will be on either end of the float.

Using a flower shop trick we learned from the H's we set the fallen tree limbs inside the concrete forms which will be decorated with tree bark and plastic leaves. and a nifty flag banner will hang between the trees and several other decorations will adorn the float.

​Getting mail from "The Mormon Herd"...again notice Elder Wilkinson...not a photo guy haha.

​Also received some Epic socks I got for my birthday! I was like at first, great...socks...that's cool...I guess...haha...but then I put them on and I was like "Wholly cow these are the greatest socks ever!!!!" they are super soft, warm but not to warm...not to mention they have a unicorn that is status...haha still have no clue who sent them...???

​By the way beautiful spring weather has been awesome this week!

One of our friends M.N., made us dinner very delicious and beautiful dinner I might add, before they all took off for a couple of weeks for Spring break...they are going to Disney world...Jealous.

​Some of our Roanoke College friends: Left to right Elder Wilkinson, M.N., K.T., S.M., D.P., Elder Wheeler...and I cannot forget Nanna, the dog.

In one final remark, we were invited to attend our YSA stake priesthood conference in Buena Vista VA, and after the meeting we able to speak with the stake presidency who was elated to learn of our success in meeting the school's requirements for establishing an LDSSA at Virginia Western and soon Roanoke College. He gave us the contact information of the CES (church educational system) director to proceed in establishing the LDSSA and said "I back the project 100%" President Brotherson also arranged a meeting with us in two weeks when he comes down to Roanoke to discuss more of the work going on.

​That's all for this district and I
Love yins
Elder Wheeler

Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22, 2016

Dearest All 
Another fantastic week, the momentum keeps building here in the Great Noke!
so Updates on a few people

C.C. - I mentioned her last week when we met with her at dinner on Monday. She came to our district meeting where I asked her and L.K. to role play with missionaries some teaching situations and skills...they both put my missionaries to the test! It was a great district meeting we all learned from the spirit and especially the investigator and recent convert guests from our ward and a couple other wards. Learning from them what was effective when they were taught and listening to their experiences and conversions.  We also had an incredibly powerful lesson with her on Thursday...C.C. is truly incredible, I am thoroughly impressed by her...we covertly asked her all of the baptism interview questions and the member we had along with us H.H. bore a powerful and pure testimony of the blessings that she will receive from Baptism and the love of the entire ward...She is going to be out of town the next two weekends and following our Sunday lessons about prayer we as a ward felt felt prompted to pray specifically for C.C....we are confident and surely hope that we will see the miracle of this come together, we invited her to be baptized on March 5th (remember she has been investigating for 2 years and been active in the ward through that time!)

L.M. - we met with her again at Virginia Western with L.K. she said "I have been wanting to join the church for a long time but never could" she explained to her parents her hope to learn about he gospel and join the church. To her joy her mother was actually very supportive and happy about her meeting with us. L.M. lives a good deal away from Roanoke actually...out in the county but even having to come the distance she to our excitement came to church on Sunday. We have plans to teach her twice this upcoming week.

D.S. - The guy is thoroughly awesome, we learned a bit more about his family and he came to two activities and is one of the most open and sincere guys, willing to get out of his comfort zone to learn more and find truth. 

M.Z. - A new friend although he doesn't feel all that new, because he has just captured the opportunity to make friends and learn more...we met him via D.H. at the dress shop, Sister H. was waiting in line at the dollar store last Saturday and noticed M.Z. struggling to stuff all his groceries into his backpack. M.Z. had just missed his bus and was going to have to walk was bitter cold outside...So D.H. gave him a ride and discovered He was from New Jersey and had just moved to Salem/Roanoke with some roommates. As D.H. is telling us about this account a few days later on Tuesday at the dress shop...low and behold M.Z. walks by the shop and D.H. calls for him and has him come inside, he is super personable and we got to talking and arranged to meet with him at the Roanoke Stake Center, we taught him the restoration and gave him a book of Mormon, by the end of that day (Thursday) he was in chapter 7 and by Sunday he was in chapter 17...and knew exactly what the speaker was talking about in sacrament meeting when they mentioned Nephi getting tied to the mast of the ship.  he leaned over to me and said "You know I just don't get why Laman and Lemuel are so mean after all that has happened to them"...I was like "What"...I was certainly impressed as was the ward as he continued to contribute to lesson discussions etc...

Well that is only the tip of the iceberg there are many other people I am excited about namely M.N. and S.M....and also excited to watch L.K. and her excitement build toward her own mission, she is certainly satan's worst nightmare and one of the Lord's sharpest tools.

​After district meeting we made a quick stop to "ElderBerry's" a smoothie place...I told the sisters..."Umm sorry sisters the sign says 'Elder' berry's not sister berry's" haha

​We also at last made it to the 3rd and final college in our area, Hollins University, all girls that was weird...#understatement...But the campus is amazing. We met with the Chaplin who as worked with missionaries well in the past. We are getting a tour of the entire campus this Wednesday with our one active member at the university and are going to reach out to the few less-active members that are there as was one of those places that is in the city but once you cross the fence feels like you are in another was very nice.

​Teaching about the fall to our friend S.M. at Roanoke College

​So the H's "the Dress shop folks" the elders in Salem have created the tradition of hiding pass-a-long cards in their dress Elder Wilkinson had the crafty idea to go to their home, and take it to the next level. So us and the Salem Elders made the trip up the mountain to their beautiful home and managed to get inside before they got home...and used nearly 1,000 of our surplus of pass-along cards all over the worries they are very good the next day we walked into the dress shop and D.H. said "you know we walked in and it was like we got our acceptance letter to lots of little owls had been everywhere" haha A. and S. got a huge laugh out of it as well..."I have never laughed so hard in my life"...but it also had some un-seen positive effects, so they posted our shenanigans on social media, which many of their friends and our other less-active friends saw and mentioned to us...which was nice to hear from them. Love the H's!
Conveniently our YSA ward has our own building to use, and as such we also have our own mascot...of "Edee" one of our member's basset-hound
This was at our angry birds activity, we also have a very creative and outgoing sister in our ward who doesn't spare one tiny detail planning and carrying out activities. This was at our life size angry birds activity.

​ This past week was awesome our friends, L., M. and D. all came to church. D. is the one in the "88" jacket.

That is all for this week
Love yins
Elder Wheeler

P.S. Thank you for all the Birthday wishes and Happy Birthday to my fellow February Birthday's Carson, Grandma King, Aunt Hawnii and mamajo and others if I forgot:)

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15, 2016

Dearest All

Do you all realize after today that there will only be 10 more P-day emails in my mission, that is nuts! That being said I better make the most of them, I hope that my emails can express my love to all my family and friends at home and those I have met and come to love in my mission...and there are so many of you. I don't know what I am going to do without this weekly account to review my week, it will be strange but I imagine Facebook will fill that void.

Well the week was amazing where to start.

​Lets start here...let me introduce L.K....She is pretty much a missionaries dream, she is a solid recent convert of about 6 months, she is tenacious (even more than me and that is saying something) Super excited to share the gospel and is active in that desire to share the gospel, she had been out of town my first two weeks here and so for a while she was just this mystical shadow that I wasn't sure was actually real or not. But turns out she is real and she is awesome.
So on Tuesday, we met her at Virginia Western Community College, where she is a student, we set to work on establishing an LDSSA (LDS Student Association) at the school, and after meeting with the administration and getting the necessary paperwork etc. we sat down and enjoyed a lunch that she had brought for us in the student center, and we shared with her a little lesson that we had prepared, and then a random man by the name of R. came and sat down at the table and asked who we were and what we were doing and complemented us for having "Jesus Christ" on our name tags, he began to ask all the right questions and the little lesson we had prepared for L., morphed into a nifty plan of salvation centered discussion, in fact L. was teaching right along in unity with us. Over the course of this two other girls came and sat down with us and we were attracting a little crowd, after a while as the crowd dispersed one that stayed behind was a girl by the name of L. M., she explained to us that her family are mostly members of the church but that her parents are less-active and she was never baptized...over the course of this conversation I started to put some puzzle pieces together and discovered that she was actually the youngest sister of C.H. (Aka Mamma H./Sister H.) from the Vinton Ward...later after catching up with sister H.  and telling her that we met her sister on campus, all were elated and excited for what is in store over the next couple months.

So to establish the LDSSA we needed to find a faculty member and some interested students, like at Marshall I pictured that there would be members both active and less-active as well as friends that would be hiding in the woodwork, So Laurie set to work on social media and we later had the idea to ask the Roanoke Stake President (again we are actually part of a different stake the Buena Vista YSA stake) and there are members who attend Virginia Western that are scattered between the many wards in the area. so we needed to find them and let them know about our efforts to establish the LDSSA. President Bohon announced it during the Saturday session of stake conference. To our joy sister H. called us and put us in contact with her friend who is a faculty member and a member in the cave spring ward. Also other missionaries have so far referred us to 4 other students in their wards...the Lord certainly provides.  

Also this week we received a referral from the Salem Elders for a guy named D.S. (19), who they had met at a basketball game at the stake center. They were super excited for us to go and meet him...We texted him and set up an appointment for the next day. Literally 20 minutes before the appointment I had the idea to invite L. to come with us, so I sent her a text and it was like in the cartoons BOOM she was there! In fact she beat us there. The lesson was amazing I would rank it among the top 3 best lessons of my mission. The spirit was incredible, and the lesson was truly tailored to D., L. was able to answer many of his questions and relate to him having come from similar backgrounds. 

Then Sunday night came and with is another massive snow storm and this time it came with a nice topping of ice. So Monday was very slow and spent working with and around the snow. But our evening was salvaged with the help of L., we had originally planned to visit with D. but he was snowed in at a friends house and rescheduled for Friday, but L. said "well in that case lets do something else" we brainstormed, and came up with the idea to go to dinner (since FHE was cancelled) and invite other ward members and friends, (most people had spent the day inside bored so the invitation was welcome to most that were near by) L. invited a girl named C.C., who has actually been attending the YSA ward for nearly two years and investigating far longer than that...C.C. even holds a calling but is not yet a member of the church. Over the course of the dinner we were able to get to know C.C. and learn her questions, C.C. had also been able to go to the Washington DC temple a couple weeks ago with some other ward members and was able to sit in the waiting area in the temple and explore the visitors center, she told us of how she felt the spirit at the temple and she had a big grin on her face about that:) C.C. even applied to graduate school at BYU for next fall. It was a good dinner/lesson, we were able to get to know this wonderful dry Mormon and even set an appointment with her later this week, which was significant because, L. informed us afterward the C.C. had decided to previously stop having discussions with missionaries...the week was all around fantastic and felt like a week which could be read right out of Preach My Gospel. 

​Also our idea to have a family History centered float in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Downtown Roanoke has taken off! The theme again is "Are you Irish" the YSA ward is handling the parade and the Roanoke stake missionaries are going to hopefully be running a live family history booth at the festival that will follow the parade. 

​Also we were able to meet with the chaplain at Roanoke college, there had recently been a change in the last year of the chaplain. Chaplain C. was awesome to meet, good family man, he is from Wyoming and thus knew and grew up right around members of the church. He was very willing to work with us and there are quite a few members of the YSA ward who attend Roanoke College and the Bishop has asked us to work with them and the chaplain on establishing the LDSSA there as well...I really hope to have both LDSSA groups at Roanoke College and Virginia Western up and running and strong by the end of my mission. 
So also happy valentines day all...we were able to help out the H. Cut some flowers...which turned out to be a perfect place to catch young guys oddly enough who were coming to get flowers for their girlfriends. It was a funny moment that I wish I could be a fly on the wall and watch as these guys come in and sit down in the back and Elder Wilkinson gives me the signal...and I start to make conversation with him while Elder Wilkinson helps get his flowers in particular by the name of Z.P. set an appointment with us said "thanks for reaching out guys" plus to our joy D.H. gave us some back-up even though she has been less-active for 20 years or so, she was simply honest and said it what she enjoyed about meeting with missionaries and learning along the was grand and fulfilling. Plus I learned a thing or two about flowers and life experience, from D. who is their flower helper, super nice man retired and fascinating stories, I especially love to learn from and hear the stories of people who are older and have had lasting, successful, happy marriages, like D. 
Well that about wraps up this week...Love yins
Elder Wheeler

P.S. ​We both sacrificed our thumbs a little cutting flowers...reporting to A. H. haha

Monday, February 8, 2016

February 8, 2016

Dearest All

The area is good, we have met with and taught less-active members and friends, we continue in the effort of finding and organizing (adding, moving and removing records) the Area book and the ward directory. The task is enormous and tedious, however we try to be out and about, doing the majority of the work at a library, campus or other public place. I figure this way it gives Heavenly Father more opportunities to have people cross our path and gives him more to work with.
 The Zone Leaders also allowed us a portion of zone meeting to share with the zone our vision and also the resource that the YSA ward can be for the missionaries, less-active members, and their friends. 

I was a member of two YSA wards before my mission and I absolutely loved them, I didn't think I would like them at first either but the YSA wards provided friends and fellowships which helped me return to full activity in the church and sling-shot me toward my mission and spiritual goals. 

The lord inspired the creation of YSA wards for many reasons but I feel the primary reason is to specifically help YSA aged people facing the most decision filled time of our lives, come closer to Christ and receive the personal spiritual support and focused direction, that a YSA ward can excel at. 
I had the opportunity to share this and my testimony/experience and we explained we are not seeking to "take investigators or members" from other missionaries. (Because we share an area with all of them, but in reality they are not our investigators but the Lord's and Heavenly Father's Children) But rather, if they would like to share this resource with them or you have someone who is YSA aged and invitations to a conventional family ward aren't finding success, to try the invitation to invite them to YSA worship and activities (because what missionary doesn't love it when their is a ward activity to invite their friends too) and see if the YSA ward makes a difference (it certainly did for me) Allowing the missionaries in the zone the option to choose to continue to teach them or to refer them to us if they feel best. Also letting them know that we can get them in contact with the members in our ward if they need a YSA aged fellow shipper for their investigators. Following Zone meeting we received three referrals from other missionaries and one other companionship asked for a fellow shipper for a less-active YSA in their ward. 

So there are things happening here and much more to be seen.

I love our bishop, he is excellent and actively involved with us, he is a ready resource for us and happy to help. Also he pushes us to be working indeed. 

We visited Virginia Western on Thursday and are seeking out the possibility of an LDSSA or similar club, there are members of our ward there, in addition to several other members in other wards that could contribute the membership of such a club. Which should give us similar resources to what we had at Marshall University. 
(we also working with our members at Roanoke College to discover our resources)

So fun story. Our Bishop, Bishop Creamer, is awesome like every other YSA bishop I have worked with at home. Anyhow, he and his wife take us to dinner every Wednesday night, this is at Mac and Bob's a restaurant right off campus at Roanoke College...So everyone told me to order the calzone...I had no clue it was so enormous...

Probably around 3500-4000 was delicious

​So provoked by the bishop and my companion to take the challenge or eating it all in one I take the hit to my pride and not stuff myself or take the hit to my waistline...either way I win and either way I why not...#didit

​This is A.H. the owner of the Newfangled Bride in Salem VA her and her sister are Less-active YSA's and between them and their mom they are awesome to us missionaries, Their shop is sort of our "home-base" in Salem (since it is close but still a short distance from Roanoke) But A. just happens to be dating a man by the name of S., I think my mother and sister may recognize him from his show "Ghost Hunters"...the little things you never thought would happen in your mission. S. is a cool guy along with the rest of the H's. You will likely see more of them over the course of my stay here in Roanoke YSA...we were helping them hang some mirrors and move their counter on this occasion. 

​funny pose for mom

​There was also an Epic 5K and stair race in downtown Roanoke this weekend that we went to spectate at and were able to talk with a few people there. I have gained some sort of sick love of running stairs here...we still go to the stairs near my former apartment here in Roanoke a couple times a bucket list item to run a stair looked like so much fun...this was the 20 story tower that was at the end of the race but the race also included several parking garages, bridges and other buildings again looked like so much fun!

​Posters from the many YSA activities and FHE's that the ward does. 

​One last there is a beautiful recently renovated duck pond park in Salem just up the street from the H's shop and there were a couple resident of muscovy ducks, which brought a smile to my face to see one of my childhood pets:)

That's all for this week
Elder Wheeler

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016

Wow, President Salisbury wasn't kidding, when you said this area was a "strange beast". It was tough just to know where to start, we spent hours talking about people and working with our area book and trying to review what has been done and do our best to create a plan. I was truly looking forward to Sunday more than I ever have before in my mission.  

Thankfully Sunday truly delivered, I received a warm welcome to the ward, which was very encouraging. I loved the two YSA wards I was a member of back home, and remember why now. I love their lively activity even with a small group, the lesson conversations are excellent and sacrament meeting is dead silent reverent, you could hear a pin drop. We were able to talk with president Clark from the stake presidency on Sunday as well. 

I feel like there are some un-tapped resources in the area, I look forward to trying to be involved with Virginia Western Community College and Roanoke city...Working with the Downtown Elders I hope to be involved with the large Easter Festival that will take place in Elmwood Park this spring, in Downtown Roanoke...with a large emphasis on The Book of Mormon, featuring the saviors ministry in America.  

The area is unique in because it is actually a different stake, it is part of the Buena Visa YSA stake and not the Roanoke stake...the ward boundary is actually the same boundary as the entire Roanoke Stake, which means we share an area with about 20 other different missionaries, which has a feeling of "everything is ours to work with, but nothing is" it's weird but we will make it work. We work exclusively with YSA aged people. 

There are 3 colleges in the area. Roanoke College (which is a Lutheran school, so not a ton we can do on campus there, proselyting wise, but there are members in the ward that go to school there.) Hollins University which is an all-women school. (there we stick out like a sore thumb, but we can work there so we will see how that goes...) and then there is Virginia Western which is the equivalent of SLCC in Utah, it has a fairly large campus and is a public college so we can work there too.

President Salisbury and the stake presidency have also tasked us with an effort to essentially clean up the ward roster...because there are so many members that come and go all the time it has become so cloudy as to how many actually people are actually in the ward.

The past few days has given us time to organize our self so we are ready to accomplish what the stake would have us do in insuring records are in their right place. 

The week topped off by teaching a man named N.S., he has been learning with the missionaries for a little while now and is one of the most excellent individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, I am sure you will hear more about him over these two transfers. 

But I am excited...Here is a quote that really stuck out this Sunday "Vision without work is dreamery...Work without vision is drudgery...Vision with work is Destiny" - Ezra Taft Benson 
With that we have work to do. 

Love Elder Wheeler

Below are a few photos I ran out of time last week to send...

Last visit with Brother M.P. a recent convert in the Vinton Ward
Having some companionship inventory
Final visit with Sister D.
Visiting the wonderful Granny P...Elder McClune was stoked because he finally beat me in a game of Uno

​Kabuki dinner (a very nice habatchi grill) with the H' there is a bit of a story here, #1 We felt like Abraham for a moment, we were all walking into the restaurant, we had a reservation and all, when the Zone Leaders called and asked us if we could cancel our dinner plans and run to the airport to help pick-up some new missionaries and their luggage (their flight was deviated to Roanoke instead of Charleston because of Fog) we cancelled the reservation and just as we were about to drive off the zone leaders called back and said we were not we ended up waiting 45 min for a new table to open up...but it worked out because we had to wait we ended up sitting with a nice couple (far right) about to be married this spring, and got to talk with them and they got to know the Hodges we shared with them a bit about eternal marriage and made some new friends. Then as we were leaving there were some other people who ran out of gas and happened to be our neighbors, so Brother Hodge who had picked us up was able to give them a ride to get gas and they accepted the invitation to let us come and share with them more about the gospel.

Transfer Morning IHOP Breakfast...Elder McClune loves pancakes!

​Intro Elder Wilkenson...Millitary man, newish missionary...great Elder.

That's all for this week, should have more time next week.