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