Monday, July 29, 2013

Mini Mission and Mini Miracle

Doesn't it just warm your heart to read the letters from Sister Whipple?!  I think it is a really good thing she is a fast typer, or else we wouldn't get such long, detailed letters, haha! She has LOVED all the emails and letters you have all sent, so thank you!!  Enjoy this one :)

"Don't I look like a sister missionary? haha"
The girl in the middle is the young woman who was on the "mini-mission"
My heart is so full after reading all your emails :) Thank you! My bad, my bad for the whole you-thinking-pday-was-on-tuesday ordeal. I lied. It's on Monday. But it's OK, I was fine and figured that was it. 

Brrr I'm sitting next to an AC unit and it makes typing hard...

But really you all are the best! About the subject line, we had a 16-year-old young woman join us for a "mini mission" from Fri - Sun, so that was fun! AND, we had a little miracle!! We were given a list of "potentials" from the elders, and one was a lady who was tracted into (I think) in April. The notes next to her name said something like, "golden contact, black, believes everything we believe." We're like (1) why did no one ever go follow up, and (2) let's try her first! Haha. So we went over and she was out smoking (we'll work on that later haha) and at first had no idea what we were talking about, but finally she remembered that she HAD met the missionaries so she asked us for a card with our number and we gave her a card (we had put our number on all of them). We were a little bummed while leaving because we hand out tons of those and no one EVER calls, but we had a message when we got home from her, asking us to call back! We called back and she was super excited and said she wants to learn more! So we are going tonight! We might have been jumping up and down a little haha. There was a farewell party going on upstairs with like both Dubuque Wards there (the Beytien family, who we're staying with, has parties and people over all the time!), so we went upstairs and kept telling people haha. Woops. We were just really excited. So we are excited but nervous about teaching tonight so we're definitely praying a lot!

So that was definitely the highlight. We also met with a lot of ward members this week because we had the "called to serve" sister (that's the mini mission) and they (the ward/bishop) didn't want them to have to knock doors for 9 hours a day, so we would meet with the members and give them a little message and sometimes eat with them (FINALLY). It was so great! We are starting to gain their trust and they're starting to tell us about their friends/loved ones who might be ready to hear the gospel soon. So happy about that. I love this ward! I am working so hard to learn people's names. I know it better than the Leonora Ward now...haha woops again. I'll be better about learning people's names when I get home now. 

"Trying to capture the fields on our way to pick up the other sisters from
1st ward. They were beautiful."

I'm bummed because I had written throughout the week things I wanted to tell you in my planner, and I forgot my planner! A missionary without her planner is like a fish without his cigar! I mean out of water! (That was for you Dad. I might have butchered it, but you know what I mean ;) )

Oh my birthday! It was fun! It feels weird to be 21. For some reason that seems OLD to me haha. Like, I'm a legitimate adult. It's weird. But I got calls/texts from the DLs, ZLs, and my MTC companion (somewhat allowed because her companion is our sister training leader! score!), and the Beytien's had us for dinner and made us cake. They are super nice. Especially the grandma, Sis. Baetes. It's pronounced Bates. That's the thing about Iowans - they spell everything SO crazy haha! As another example, there's a family called the Knightings but they spell it something like Gneitings. Haha it drives Sis Call and me crazy! Oh but also my friend Katie Berns ding-dong-ditched a bunch of goodies at the house in the morning! She's the best!

Still struggling a little with feeling like I'm doing enough, but I'll keep working. Thanks for your encouragement.  I'm still trying to figure out how to talk to people more, but I'm really excited because we have interviews tomorrow with Pres Jensen and they say to come with questions, and boy do I have them! I love him and am excited to meet with him, even if only for a few minutes.

Oh haha funny story. We visited a lady who is recently reactivated and is working towards the temple to do baptisms. She is not really completely all together mentally. We meet with her about once a week to help her read scriptures and such, and when we got there it was in the middle of a crisis. She has those regularly. She thought she was being evicted, she was freaking out, etc etc. Sis Call and I totally dumped the lesson we were going to teach, I suggested the story of Alma's people being taken captive by Amulon, and we read through that and talked about it, and prayed for help and comfort. Finally the sheriff came and it wasn't an eviction notice, just a subpoena to appear in court because she had witnessed a car accident. She was soooo excited and was like, "we need to pray!" and in her prayer thanked God for lifting her burdens, just like in the Book of Mormon story :) It reminded me so much of Dad's home teaching visits and all the times he had to intervene in all the crises of these dear people's lives hahaha.

"One of the many corn fields! I finally had Iowa corn last night and it
was really yummy :)"
We walked a lot this past week because we didn't have the car, but we really enjoyed it! the weather was a lot cooler. I actually had to wear a sweater the last 2 days. But it's warmer today. Yay! Also there are minimal sidewalks here, and it's funny because they disappear out of no where. Also there are tons of hills in Dubuque (not like the rest of Iowa) so we are hopefully getting really nice calves haha.

A happy note though, I was thinking/studying this morning about how I need to be better at working with my companion in more love and unity, and when we were thinking about what to teach to a less-active family tonight, she suggested a chapter (3 Nephi 17, love it) and I was like "I just flipped there!" and she gave me a high-five. Love it when we think of the same thing and it's like that 2nd witness that it's probably the right thing to do! Because sometimes I wonder if I'm really being led by the spirit, because it's hard to always know if you're in tune and such.

I love you all so much! Thanks again for your love! This church is true and even if no one wants to hear about it, at least I get to bear my testimony at so many people's doors! ;) No but really I just try to remember that they're children of God and that I am just sharing what I know to be true! Mom and Dad, you've mentioned you're reading Preach My Gospel (PMG), and I can't believe how much I learn from it every time, even when I've already read it before! It really is scripture, and it is powerful. 

Love you all :)

Sister Whipple

Monday, July 22, 2013

MTC Pictures

Here are a bunch of pictures Sister Whipple sent from her time at the MTC. Hope you enjoy them.
With my MTC companion in our pajamas 

Where I am going!

Add caption

"The Black guy was our teacher"
Another one of my MTC teachers
My companion and I in class

Love the Temple!
Matching skirts! We sat next to each other on the plane on
our way to the MTC. She is awesome!

Oh I Wish I Were in the Land of [Corn]

Except for not, because I AM here! Finally!

At 3:30 AM on our way to Iowa!

Coming to Iowa was so exciting. There really IS tons of corn haha! The drive was beautiful. Rolling hills, tons of green, lots of agriculture. fun fun stuff. And I'm enjoying the humidity :) On the way to Iowa I sat next to an awesome man who's daughter is serving a mission in Iowa too - only it's for the JW's haha! But he was so cool. We talked about religion so much. I really wish I had gotten his contact info, but we did give him a card with written on it. When we arrived at the airport, Pres and Sis Jensen met us and were soooo nice! I loved them right away! We stayed at the mission home that night and it was so great. 

Next day we went to transfer mtg 2 hours away in Iowa City! My companion is Sis Hannah Call from Star Valley, Wyoming! She is so great and so nice. And she's been out for a total of 6 weeks (as of our transfer). 6 WEEKS. Did you catch that?! And she's been in Carthage, which means they really didn't teach many lessons. Neither one of us have ever really taught lessons 3-5, haha. So the blind's leading the blind here! And that's not all........we're opening a new area. As in, two basically brand new missionaries got handed a blank area book and got stuck in this little city called Dubuque, IA, right next to the Mississippi. We're dying haha. At first I was like, sweet! We must be really awesome to be sent to whitewash after a total of 6 weeks between us! But remember how pride cometh before the fall? Yeah. haha. 

Other stuff...the ward was fun, they're really excited to have sisters. Perks of opening an area? They're all like SISTERS?! YAY!!!! We're staying at a member's home, which I like. 
The house we are staying at right now!
We have a super nice place in the basement, even though I'm always cold (luckily I'm warm in bed - SO glad I brought my extra quilt!). We're moving to a new place Aug 1 and will have a house to ourselves because the ward member will be vacationing in California! And then we'll be there for like 3 months and move into a new apartment. We're also in a car share with the elders, which is hard because even though we're in a city, the ward boundaries also extend out super far (40 miles) through the country, and there's no good public transportation. We're still trying to figure out how to deal with that.

Get this. Apparently all the immigrants from the Marshall Islands go to Dubuque! No joke! So we have tons of Marshallese people! Unfortunately most are in the elder's area or in the 1st ward (DARN!) but it's still super cool. And we get to cross into the elder's area and go downtown if we're visiting a single sister, which we're doing tomorrow! We're visiting a former investigator of their's. PRAY FOR US/HER! I'm super nervous and could really use some more confidence!! Thanks :) Speaking of praying, if you could pray that a man we met will open his home to us, that would be awesome. We knocked on his door and he was suuuper nice and took some pamphlets and said he'd let us know, but it's hard to have faith that he might actually be interested. Especially since that was like my worst door-step "speech" about the Church. Those are so hard for me.

After a round of Tracking with my companion, Sister Call

I saw Katie Berns! She was my next-door neighbor in Provo and lives in Dubuque 1st ward, but she found out I was there and knocked on my bedroom door late the first night, and I was so excited to see her! Super fun.

Saturday night, the senior missionary couple, Elder and Sister Thomas (who are AWESOME - I love love love senior missionaries! Be them!!! haha), took me, my comp, and Elders Dragon and Tripp to Texas Roadhouse for a birthday dinner! It was Elder Dragon's 19th bday that day so they took all of us. We're having leftovers tonight, I'm stoked. 

Dinner at Texas Roadhouse!
Oh that's another thing. We have a grand total of one meal set up for this week, and no meal coordinator or anything, so we're kind of having to fend for ourselves for now. Hopefully that'll pick up. But I'm like, always starving between meals and always exhausted!

Random stuff: Everyone has at least like 2 dogs here! (makes me feel like a real missionary when they start to attack us. Don't worry, they haven't hurt us, just slobbered all over!) And there are lots of rabbits everyone! And I go running with Sis Call sometimes in the morning up and down the hills here in Dubuque, but I feel bad because I know I hold her back a bit. But she's great! Also everyone here works for John Deere, IBM, or health care haha. There's a John Deere shut down every summer (totally learned about that in the acctg program haha) and it's like the whole city shuts down a little!

I haven't gotten any letters or anything since I've been here, but I'm sure they'll be forwarded to me soon. Hopefully :)

Trying to figure out where we are with our new area 
Anyways, I'm really trying to be a better missionary and share the gospel with everyone! Because I know it's true and will bring people more happiness than anything. I read "A Consecrated Missionary" by Elder Callister this morning and it was awesome, but I know I have tons of work to do. I want to be a consecrated missionary, but it still seems like such a huge thing and I'm not there yet. But thank goodness for the Atonement! And for prayers and everything! Don't forget your little daughter/sister lost here in Iowa in your prayers, k? thanks :) I love you all so much! Sorry I'm a little more down today, I promise things are great in general!

love, your favorite...
sister whipple :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

" 'Be Like a choo-choo train', or the time warp rollercoaster:" (First Letter from the MTC!)

Hello everyone! This is officially Jenessa, Hannah's (or should I say Sister Whipple's?) lovely older sister.

Sunday July 7th at the Provo Temple with the other missionaries going to Iowa.
I can't believe I have already been "slacking" on posting an update of her on her mission, but alas, one week later and I have got it up! I will be editing the letters she sends, as well as changing the names of all the people she meets while in Iowa, so they can maintain their privacy. Be aware, she had a lot of time to write so her letter is really long. But we all love Hannah because of her ability to converse so easily, don't we?Enjoy!

Guess what?! It's FINALLY P-DAY!!!!!!! We totally got jipped on p-days because we had to wait a whole week, and then next p-day we'll be traveling and I hear that in our mission our p-day is Tuesday, so we'll have to wait a whole other week for that one too hahaha. It's OK though, it'll be a growing experience! anyways I kinda know now why missionaries always type with tons of EXCLAMATION points and ALLCAPS because I'm just soo excited to finally write you and I don't know how I'll possibly be able to tell you everything because I feel like I've been here for like years and I just have so much to say! And we're so lucky because usually we'd only have 30 min for email, but our branch pres feels bad for us that we don't get to go to the temple so he said we can have extra time on email :)
haha ok that was a bit dramatic. Here we go. Thank you SO SO much for the dearelders!!! They meant so much to me, especially not being able to email for a week. It was the best moment when my district leader handed me the letters, except that we're not allowed to open letters until 9:30 PM because if we get dear john or something they don't want it ruining our day and distracting us from our studies. Yet they still called me in in the middle of class to talk to Pres Brady, who told me about Grandpa [dying]. So I thought that was kind of funny because that was the only thing that'd really distract me haha. I really wasn't very surprised when he told me because when they called me down in the middle of class,I figured that was probably it. Actually it was kind of funny because when he started telling me, he accidentally said grandma and I had to correct him and say grandpa. That could have been awkward haha. I cried a little, especially when I told my companion, but it wasn't too hard to get back to work again. I wish I could have been there with you all, but I'm so grateful that I got to give him such a sweet goodbye and that he could be there for my farewell talk. Please let me know all about the funeral!! And send pics if you can!Or just have Jenny send me the pics she'll send to Cali haha.
Anyways, about that subject line. First of all, the time-warp rollercoaster...perfectly (almost) describes the MTC experience! It is so crazy. Like I said, I kind of feel like I've been here for years, but at the same time the time is flying by. And everyone always told me the mission is a roller coaster, and it is so true - one minute I'm on top of the world, and the next I don't know how I'm going to be able to ever do this! Sometimes my little heart can't take all these ups and downs haha :P But it's good, it's really good. I'm learning so much. The first day or so I was super tired but happy and excited, then I fought discouragement a little as I adjusted, but I just really got to work and I love working! And even though I had hard times I never broke down (which is common for many sisters here, and not a bad thing, I'm not trying to say that I'm better than that, just that I'm grateful!). It really helps knowing I've gone through hard times before because I feel like I know how to just ignore it, buckle up and get to work. And pray. haha we pray so much here. We need it! So thank you for all your prayers. I'm so grateful for them. I'm not even in the mission field yet but the mission is still hard. I tend to have really high expectations for myself so it's easy to get discouraged when I don't feel like I'm meeting those, but like I said I'm learning so much and I know I need to rely on the Lord.
Some random things...
  • shout out to the Lynch family haha! On Sunday night we watched a recording of a Thanksgiving devotional where Elder Holland spoke, and I totally saw Spencer Lynch in the recording! yay. He looked good. I've seen so many friends here at the MTC too! that's really fun.
  • I'm finally, really happy about the age change. I just love these people, and I love my district. Yes the elders are young, but for the most part they step up. Some are super immature but you'd get that anyways. Overall they're great and are like our brothers. And by brothers I mean we have to whip them into shape sometimes haha. They tend to have a hard time focusing during study time, and sometimes they don't know how NOT to flirt with us, but we just ignore that. We have 7 elders and 4 sisters in our district, but I have 6 sisters in my dorm room so we also get to have a companionship of sisters from the other district. I love them all so much! Our entire district is going to Des Moines too which is really lucky and really awesome!
  • I still struggle a little with Iowa sometimes. I realized though that my problem is that I'm listening more to the world and not aligning my own desires to God's. Because at this point I've had so many blessings and things telling me that Iowa is the place for me, and I can't help but know or at least believe that that is really where I'm supposed to be going, and I'm so excited by it!!!! But, I struggle when I talk to other missionaries who are like English speaking going to Africa, because then I can't tell myself that at least I'm not cooped up here for 9 weeks learning another language, or I see groups of sisters with crazy languages on their nametags and I feel like I'm not as good as they are. But I can't truly believe while I'm listening more to the world, which I clicked when I read John 5:44 - "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" So anyways, I'm still working on that, keep praying for me! But for the most part, I'm really happy and our district walks around the MTC basically proclaiming Iowa to the world ;)
  • My companion and I are usually the first ones to get to class/study time. Go for being on time! The rest of our district struggles haha.
  • Companionships in general are so funny. We have a group of three elders (the "tripanionship") and they're always like, "I have to go to the bathroom." "You JUST WENT!" "Well...I have to go the other kind now!" "Seriously?!?!" And then they get up and all three go hahaha. They were a little embarrassed when they realized I heard that convo. Hopefully that made you laugh ;)
  • tender mercy! The day grandpa died, I realized that I still had those pics of him and me on my camera because I didn't have time to take them off! so happy.
  • My teachers are awesome!!! They are Sis. Delaplane and Br. Adjei (like A-J but the A is an ahh like father. haha). Br. Adjei is from Ghana. He is the man. They are both so great, I just want to be like them. Oh and that's the other part of my subject line. This one time Br. Adjei was like (you have to read this in an accent) "you need to not be a jet plane. You need to be like a choo-choo train. Slow and steady." And it was really funny but it's not here haha. Just pretend it was funny. Anyways, sometimes we say too much too fast and we need to be more like a choo-choo train! He also had terrible handwriting and it's hilarious. This one time he wrote "stwitc" for "switch" and another time he wrote "lovingh". he also says things like "whiles we are waiting..."
  • I'm the only one in my zone who can play piano! So guess who's the Sacrament Mtg pianist and music coordinator?! haha. I love it.
  • I love singing hymns! We sing them all the time!
As for the actual missionary things, we are teaching two "investigators" right now. One is Nathan, who is Br. Adjei, but it seems real. We've been teaching him a lot and we have a "soft commitment" for baptism! Actually it made us feel sooooo good the other day because Br. Adjei came up to us and told us that our past twolessons, especially the Restoration one, were "phenomenal" and really flowed well. He also said we had a lot of unity in our companionship. That was such a blessing because I've struggled with my comp a little and have really been praying for help having charity. It's hard because I feel very strongly sometimes about how we should teach something, and I need to trust her and let her do her thing. But then she goes off on weird tangents or random points and I feel like I need to bring it back. It's very hard for me. She's definitely a little different. But she's also really great because we balance each other out well. I like to plan a lot, she likes to wing it more and rely on the Spirit. I'm loud, she's quiet (haha). etc. And she's very obedient. We've been growing closer together though comp inventory, prayer, and work :) But now we're having a hard time knowing where to go next with Nathan, and are praying a lot! Sometimes I wish we just had set lessons! But it's good, it makes us all grow more.
We also touch our TRC investigator, Sarah, for the first time yesterday. That was hard because the other sister companionship's investigator didn't show up, so at literally the last minute they had to join us! So with four sisters teaching one lady we were all over the place, and the other sisters kept just talking and not really teaching (I felt like, though everyone was trying their best) so I felt bad when at the end of our time, we really hadn't taught her much. Sarah is your typical westcoast yoga-loving hippy who doesn't feel like she needs God in her life. It's really hard to get through to her and make her let us talk!!! We're praying a lot again and are nervous for next time to know where to go with this!
What else...I love gym time! Yesterday I ran a mile (in about 8.5 - 9 min...I was running so fast, I don't get how people go faster hahaha!) and then played volleyball. I've been sore a lot of the time here from weights and stuff! But I've also been eating a lot. It's hard not to, and most others eat lots of dessert, which makes it harder for me not to. I don't want to get fat!
I've received a lot of answers to prayers too. Sunday I was kind of grumpy and having a hard time, and was praying for some help. That night we had a devotional by George Durrant and Susan Easton Black, which was AWESOME!!!! So perfect. And, Durrant and Black got married! What?! AND...they are serving in the Nauvoo mission soon!!! Maybe I'll see them!!! After that we watched the recording of Elder Holland's Thanksgiving devotional, which was also so great. I felt so much more motivated to just get to work and serve the Lord, and so much more hopeful that He would help me too. While we were waiting to watch the recording, the video system wasn't working for about 20 minutes. While we were waiting everyone was just talking, then some elders and sisters in my district started singing "Called to Serve" and soon everyone in the room was standing and singing on the top of our lungs! It was soooo awesome. I love it here! Another night one of my roommates was sooo sick. We could tell she was miserable (she was throwing up all night). She asked if we'd sing, so we took turns singing songs our moms used to sing to us - I sang "Sis. Walser I love you" :) We all love each other, maybe too much! :)
It was so fun walking to the temple on Sunday and to devo last night in the Marriott Center! We get so excited when we leave the gates of this campus!
Oh 4th of July! We watched "17 Miracles" (cried, agian) and watched fireworks! But that meant we stayed sleep deprived haha. But everyone was super hyper and had a great time.
Holy cow, that is the longest letter of my life. Enjoy it, you'll probably never get one like that again! But I know this Church is true! I love studying, at first it seemed like we got so much study time and now we need more! I just crave it! I wish I could become a scriptorian and just be really smart! Classes get long sometimes and we're always sitting in the same room all day, but it's becoming more normal and I love having a set schedule. But anyways, I love reading the scriptures and PMG, I know the BoM is true and everyone needs it, they just don't know it! It changes lives for the better. I know prayer works, that God loves us, that He sent His Son for us, and that there IS someone listening! Thank you for being my eternal family! I looooove you all! Keep writing, because I don't know when I'll be able to get on email again ;)
Love you!!!!
Sister Whipple

Monday, July 1, 2013

I'm going on an ADVENTURE!!!

can you see the resemblance? Bilbo and I, we go way back. 
and here is the long-awaited explanation of what in the world I've signed up to do for the next year and a half, as I'm sure some of you were wondering! Or, you weren't, and this actually isn't long-awaited. But we'll just pretend that y'all have just been sitting on the edges of your seats.

Basically, I am serving an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Why? Well, it's a little easier to explain through a couple of links! (or, I'm just lazy.) Here is a good explanation for why people go on missions, and what Mormon missionaries actually do (and sorry to disappoint my dear musical theater friends, but it's not quite like is shown in the musical...I mean, I am going to Iowa, which isn't quite Uganda.)

I also have this really hilarious friend who wrote a hilarious blog post explaining the whole shabang. I'm linking that here too because well, it's hilarious, and a pretty good explanation too. She doesn't know I'm linking it, so if you see this Kristen, well, thanks. But I think we're pretty safe, seeing how she's on her way to Japan and probably won't even be on her blog until she gets back in over a year. sweet deal.

So, that all explains the logistics and general idea of Mormon missionaries. So why me? Basically, I've wanted to serve a mission since I was pretty young. The truths that I believe and have learned through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bring me so much peace and joy, and I want to share that with others and at least give them the invitation to experience that in their own life. I have studied the doctrines of my Church, I have prayed about them, and I believe them to be true. I've read the Book of Mormon, as well as the Bible, and I believe them to be the word of God. I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior who gave His life for each of His children - that's all of us! And I want others to hear that good news too :) When it came time for me to decide, though, if this is what was right for me to do - if God really would have me give 1 1/2 years to serving as a missionary - I prayed and studied and researched a LOT. Finally, I feel at peace with my decision to go - and I'm so excited! It's going to be the experience of a lifetime.

I love Iowa already, and I have faith that I was called to go there for a reason! So, uh, now is when I petition your loving hearts for letters and/or emails! The contact info is in the right banner of my blog. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without, minus the do without. Also my awesome sister Jenessa has agreed to update this blog with excerpts from my letters so you can see what I'm up to once in a while, if that kind of thing tickles your fancy.

One more thing...if you ever see a couple of Mormon missionaries, do me a favor and think warm thoughts about me, give em a smile, throw them a water, or if you're feeling really brave, say hi! Who knows, you might even like what they have to say ;)

Oh man, I love you all!!!

my mission! sorry for the bad quality.
when/how did this happen?!

my cutest little sister  (and me...) on our last Sunday together