Monday, August 26, 2013

another week in the land of corn

Hi family!

Here's to the end of my first transfer! Crazy. We got our "transfer doctrine" on Saturday and my whole district is staying - no changes :) 

I've been a little lower in spirits, but that's ok! Things are still good and I had a really good personal study on faith this morning. I was reading through the Bible Dictionary entries for all the doctrine of Christ elements, but the one on faith really stood out. Faith comes by obedience and righteousness, and Christ has revealed Himself in His perfect character, so I just need to work harder to be more obedient and to put my full confidence in Him, and then I will receive the blessings of power to be able to fulfill my calling - as a missionary and in life! We had LOTS of appointments fall through this past week which was a little discouraging, but we'll work harder this week. The one investigator lesson we did teach didn't go very well and we didn't really feel like we taught with the Spirit, so that was very humbling and we just felt really bad because we weren't as prepared as we should have been, so we've been working harder at being prepared...but it's hard when we role play and prepare to teach and then every time we do that, the lesson falls through! But I'm glad I'm not leaving Dubuque yet because I want to leave feeling like I've made a difference, and I don't feel like that yet. 

On a good note, I have had members comment on how I smile a lot or how we're really cheerful, so that made me feel great :) And, I'm studying the Book of Mormon with a focus on the Spirit because I don't feel like I have a whole lot of confidence in my ability to the follow the Spirit and that stresses me out so I am studying about and working on that!

The Ensign article I mentioned last week about the Marshallese is April 2011, pg. 32. And the story about the couple who didn't want to get married is VERY common for that culture - it's much more normal to just live together and have a family for many years before getting married, so we have to help them see why it's important. Funny thing about them too - they trade kids around so much! Like super great Marshallese family we know has this cute little baby, except it's actually another family's baby, but they decided they had enough kids so they gave that baby to their sister's cousin or whatever the relationship is haha! We have two elders from the Ciribis (no idea how to spell) Islands, and Sister Call asked one of them if they trade babies around in the Ciribis Islands too, and he said yes as if it's not even a big deal! Anyways, we laugh about that. Oh but we visited the Saito's one day (a Marshallese family), and they gave each of us a pair of Marshallese earrings and a flower for our hair! They are so sweet! And Br. Saito is part Japanese (from what I understood) so he was excited when I said I was born in Japan!

You asked what we eat for breakfast/lunch. For breakfast, we have cold cereal, biscuits and gravy, eggs, yogurt and granola, and/or fruit. For lunch, we eat a lot of wraps, sandwiches, apples, salads, or leftovers. The Beytien's are awesome and give us leftovers from Sunday dinner with them! And it's always amazing food.

We talked to two Catholic couples about family history the other day, and that was awesome! They seemed really interested, especially one of them. It was a good experience for me because as we were walking past the house where one of the couples was sitting outside, I knew I should talk to them but had NO idea what to say, so I just asked something like, "we're missionaries and are offering tours of our church building, would you be interested in one?" (they like us to utilize church tours). Haha it was SO awkward! I felt so dumb at first - but then, it was like a little miracle because the lady asked what church we were part of, etc., and then recognized the Church's name from some family history records she had found, and was really interested in that! So, yes I was awkward and jumbled in how I initially started the conversation, but I felt like I was blessed for at least doing SOMETHING, and Heavenly Father allowed that tender mercy to happen because I had just tried, even if I was awkward in my trying - if that makes sense :)

Sister Thomas, our senior missionary, has been getting rid of a bunch of her clothes before she goes home pretty soon, so she gave a whole bag to Sister Call and me! Most of them fit/looked better on Sister Call, especially since I don't have the knack of making "grandma" clothes suddenly really fashionable, but I got some cute things, especially a white skirt that's so light and comfy and cute! It was fun and made me think of "fashion shows" with KJ and Jenessa - Sister call and I had fun with that. :)

Here is a picture of Sister Monroe and Sister Whipple
at the Mississippi River.
Sis Call and I were laughing about how we need to take some pics at the BEGINNING of the day, before our hair's pulled back and we're hot and sweaty and gross :)

I think that's about it for now, I forgot to bring letters with me (again) so I'm sorry if I missed anyone or anything! We have a ward party on Friday so hopefully lots of people will bring friends because that's the emphasis! Oh and I played piano at a baptism (1st ward elders) on Friday for a Marshallese lady, so that was really neat. 

Oh and on Labor Day the libraries are closed, so I'll write Tuesday! I know it'll be hard for you to wait one more day but I'll pray that you'll be ok! ;) love you all so much. Thanks for being my family, and for loving me despite all my weaknesses! I realize more and more how blessed I am to have you! And to have the gospel - it is so true and so so wonderful!

Monday, August 19, 2013

"A Wild Man Hath Come Among Us"

The corn fields in Cascade
Hey familia!
So, this week has been one of learning and switching up the companionships for a bit! Wednesday we had exchanges with the sister training leaders, and I was with Sister Anderson. She is amazing! I learned so much from her and just wish I could be more like her! But I'll get there :) She was a great example of how to talk with everyone, and I'm working on that more and more. I'm still not as good as I want to be, but I think my companion thinks her companion's "a wild man" or something haha. Not really. I wish I were that bold, but I'm going up to people and talking to them more so that's fun and it makes me feel more like I'm actually fulfilling my purpose. On Friday Sister Call went with Sister Oman (1st ward) to training for new trainers, so Sister Monroe (1st ward, came out with me) and I were together! That was fun, I love Sister Monroe. At the end of the day though, it was nice to have MY companion back :) Sister Call is so sweet to me! We have gotten a lot closer I think. Apparently the leadership thinks we're a great companionship, or so she said from what she heard at training :)

Sister Anderson and Sister Whipple at the River

Being senior companion got easier, as did backing out of the garage ;) 

A Hello Kitty Toaster?! Awesome.

We are building relationships with the Marshallese more and more! There is an article about them in an Ensign from a year or two ago, I meant to bring the exact month with me but I forgot. But anyways, we helped teach the FHE lesson and of course they fed us, and then on Wednesday night they had a farewell party for Elder Peter, who was being transferred because we got a new Marshallese-speaking elder. The Marshallese are sooo giving and throw a party for every missionary who leaves. It was at this park on an island in the Mississippi and it was BEAUTIFUL!! Soooo cool. We were in Iowa and could see Wisconsin and Illinois :)
My District on the Mississippi River
(The Elders are floating!)

We also started volunteering for 3 hrs/wk at Hills and Dales, a place that provides tons of services for people with disabilities! So far I love it! Everyone is super nice there. I got paired up with one young lady with disabilities, who's sooo sweet. We just played games and hung out with the other people in the day rehab facility. She can't verbally communicate, so I get to practice my ASL finger spelling, and when she needs she can write/text what she's trying to say. Fun stuff!

We love service projects!

Appointments almost always seem to fall through! Haha but I'm trying to keep a perma-grin because hey, I'm a sister missionary and sister missionaries are supposed to be overly happy, right? Haha but definitely the hardest thing right now is keeping our schedules full. I want to be super busy all the time and work really hard, but that's so hard to do when looking at a blank planner and trying to decide what in the world you'll do that day. Pray that we'll find more people to teach por favor! And that people will come to church. 

Saturday morning we drove to Cascade, which is about 30 minutes away, to deliver a Nauvoo pageant referral CD. The guy we gave it to is moving to go to school at Idaho State on Tuesday, and his girlfriend is a member and is going to BYU-Idaho. He has a Book of Mormon and has already been taking lessons. Golden! While we were down there, we dropped by a member's home. She is so sweet and we're so glad we got to go by there because she lives on this corn/soybean farm, is recently retired, and is the ONLY active member in the whole town of Cascade (her husband and son aren't members), so it gets lonely. But she is so amazing. We were saying it must be hard to have to travel so far for church and everything, and her response was, "Well, the Church is true." Like, no duh! Haha we wish we could help everyone have that attitude.

Yesterday was stake conference, which was good. In the evening we had our weekly dinner - meaning amazingly delicious feast - at the Beytien's home with their bunch. We love them! And we were able to teach a lesson, which was good. One of the ward members dropped us off at a potential's apartment, and we caught the lady we were going to visit outside. It was a great little conversation with her, the elders had given her a Book of Mormon back in September and she felt so bad for having lost it but she was really excited when we gave her a new one! She was great and mentioned how they're struggling with her mom, who's developing more and more dementia, and I was able to relate there with her because of Grandma. We will visit her next Sunday and have her number, which is good. We also talked to a crazy man outside their apartment complex who wasn't all together but was a hoot and fun to talk to. We extended him a commitment and had a prayer right there on the street, so bam! Count it as a lesson haha.

I love you all so much! I think of you often but try not to do it too often, because then I miss you more ;) Thanks for all your support! And your letters this week! They mean so much! I love you and know this gospel is true and it brings so much joy!

OH! One more thing. I got my new scriptures that I had pre-ordered! They are the new edition! They are so cool and I am having so much fun marking them up and having fresh new scriptures - first time since I was 8! ;)

K love you!

Sister Hannah :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

dun dun dun. another one bites the dust

Let's just pretend that MoTab sang that song [referring to the title of this post], and then it'll still be kosher for me to quote, yeah? :)

Thanks again for all your letters. You seriously make me feel so loved!!! I'll try to respond to them separately, that might be easier. Still trying to figure out what works best :) 

      We had two service projects, which was a lot of fun. We worked on fixing up/cleaning up a sister in our ward's house on Wednesday, which is where I live. On Saturday we pulled weeds - huge, as-tall-as-we-are weeds - along with some members, for their neighbor, a non-member. I enjoyed working with them and talking with the 14-year-old daughter while weeding :) They got us pizza afterwards, which was fun.
      We had zone training on Thursday, which was really good and inspiring. I am trying to improve at being 100% focused on my purpose as a missionary. That's hard because sometimes as we're walking a ton, my companion and I start talking about other things not super related to our purpose/missionary work at all, and I think maybe we shouldn't, but I also don't want to shut her off or whatever and also feel like it's important to just love and build relationships. So, trying to find that balance. But I do feel like we grew a lot closer this week! We are laughing more and so that has been good :)
      There was another Marshallese party, which all the missionaries are always invited to, and we all go because it builds trust with that community. It was a 1-year-old party, which is huge for them (I think I explained that last week?). It's so funny. They party so hard - but almost always start hours later than they say. And I always miss the big celebration part of the party because it doesn't actually happen until after curfew haha!
       We tracted a ton this week. So much walking, so much sweating - haha I have never sweat so much in my life. It's been hot, but mostly it's been humid, and I have never felt sweat trickle down my back so much as i have this past week. So gross! This one Catholic lady we tracted into wasn't interested, but she offered us a drink because we looked so dead haha. All she had was Coke. I didn't drink it all because that's gross, but I'm not going to lie - it was the best Coke I've ever had. We've been better at taking water bottles since then ;) Never in my life have I met so many church-going, stalwart Catholics! One thing I'm worried about with tracting though is our area is feeling smaller and smaller - we've already tracted probably most of it! And we don't remember what houses were home, etc., so we get stressed about knocking on the same doors again. Sometimes I wonder if we're doing something wrong because when we tell the elders in our ward how long we tracted for and how we haven't really even gotten any potential investigators, they're really surprised. They find a lot more people than we do. Hopefully things get better. We do chat with lots of nice people though, so I'm always grateful for that. And I'm improving my awesome tan lines haha. But, I still have my Hawaii swim suit lines a little, so that makes me smile! :)

*I dream about the mission every. night. It's kind of getting entertaining the stories I get to tell my comp in the morning!
*As part of my training, I'm senior companion for the week! It's kind of scary/stressful/weird.
*HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ON SATURDAY [Mom & Dad]!!! Oh how i love you two. I am SO grateful that you have such a strong marriage! Thank you soooo much!
*We're having exchanges this week with our sister training leaders! I'm excited. I need all the help I can get haha.

*We had a great comp study yesterday :) like I said, I think slowly, we're building more unity and closeness! so happy about that.

*I absolutely love 2 Cor 12:9-10 
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 
and Alma 26:27-30! 
"Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the World--not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God. And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stones, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again. And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some."
I love how the scriptures can apply to our lives so well, no matter where we are in life :) Also Ether 12:6 - 

"...I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

I feel like we're having a little "trial of faith" right now, so hopefully, we'll keep working and having faith and praying, and miracles will follow!

*Even when people refuse our message, when I testify, I am uplifted and my testimony builds. That is so cool! I need to be better at testifying more! And as I knock on people's doors, I'm trying to be better at just being happy and letting that happiness show through my excitement to share the gospel. 

*I am so grateful for my knowledge of this gospel and membership in this church! It is so true and so, so cool. I know that's a weird term to use, but it's true! I can't imagine what it would be like without having this knowledge. I am so thankful for it.

Hope you enjoyed the organization this week haha ;) Thanks for putting up with my emails and for always emailing me! I love you all so much, it's ridiculous :) 

Sis Whipple

Monday, August 5, 2013

twasn't me, twas the Lord


So, update on one of the ladies we are teaching. I've been super excited to write you since last Monday, because she was progressing so much so fast, but alas we hit a wall last night. But she is still wonderful. We taught her the Restoration and the Plan, and she loved them. We love her so much. She was so receptive and would always be like, "this goes right along with the Bible!" It was great. And, we set a baptismal date with her! August 24, we knew it was soon but we prayed and felt good and at the pace she was at, we knew she could make it. When we extended it, she said yes and was like, "How could I say no?" and even was like, "I've been baptized before, but not like that. I need to be baptized like that!" Awesome, right?! We were on top of the world.

....until yesterday. She wouldn't come to church with us because she just really felt uncomfortable and wanted a church tour first, which we hadn't been able to do because her work schedule is so all over the place. But she had promised she'd come the next week, and we were positive she would. We brought an awesome member with us to our appointment after church, which ended up being a huge blessing. We were all ready to teach her the Word of Wisdom and were excited about it, but when we walked in I could kind of tell something was different. She said she had been up all night "prayin' to God" and just feels like she doesn't want to "be a Mormon" and just wants to stick with the Bible. WHAT. Haha my heart dropped when she said that. She even said she'd give us the BoM back that we had given her. I felt sick. We totally ditched our lesson plan and just talked about the BoM and read Bible verses that talk about the BoM (she LOVES the Bible, and thankfully I had studied where those verses are - I'm getting better little by little!). Our member is a convert and she was so wonderful at testifying about her conversion and everything. The lady we were teaching agreed to read and pray more, but I'm worried. She gets really stubborn and she'll agree with everything we say, but then just go back to what she decided before we had ever started talking, as if nothing we said had even been heard. So we are praying lots for her. I'm also trying to get my motives all in the right place because I know I really just need to love her regardless of whether or not she accepts the message, because it's not about me at all! 

Oh and the subject line...when we were driving away from our lesson with her where she accepted the baptismal invite, we were reflecting on how much the Lord has worked with and prepared her. We didn't do anything - we were just there to share the message, and the Spirit worked with her! It wasn't us at all. I almost didn't put that subject line there because now I'm like, well maybe that didn't work after all - but I know that it STILL is the Lord's work, He has STILL prepared her, and He will STILL prepare her, even if she isn't ready to make changes now. How I love Him and the people we teach!

Anyways, I've been a little more down since that event, just so worried, but all your emails really lifted me up, so thanks everyone :) I just felt your love so much and felt that boost I needed to keep going and try harder! Our zone leaders spoke at our district mtg, and sometimes I just feel like I'm so weak and there's nothing that I can do that's right, but I know the Lord doesn't want me to feel that way. I just need to pick something that I can improve at (there's a ton, haha) and work on that, and keep trying, and thank goodness for the Atonement because I feel a need for it as a missionary probably more than I ever have in my life haha!

What else...the intersections and roads here are CRAZY haha. 5-way intersections all the time. But there is such cool architecture! Unfortunately it's all these sweet churches for the most part, so I can't take pics in front of them. 

We moved into our new home! Transfers are Aug 29 and every 6 weeks from there, so I could get transferred at any time. I really hope I don't too soon though, I love this ward! But anyways, we miss living with the Beytien's but are enjoying having a house to ourselves!

Sis Call and I were asked to give a 10-min presentation in Relief Society on the importance of members in missionary work and ways they can start sharing the gospel with their friends. I felt really good about how it went. I feel like the ward is starting to trust us more, and that is exciting and humbling!

One thing I'm working on is trusting in the scripture that says that if we open our mouths, it will be given to us "in the moment" what we should say. It's hard for me because I don't feel like I've always seen that be true. I know the scriptures are true, and I'm sure I'm the problem (not the scripture, because hello, God doesn't lie!), but there have been countless times where I'm like, where's what I'm supposed to say?! and I think of a response an hour later or whatever, AFTER the moment has passed. I'm not giving up though! Thoughts? I'm also working on having better comp study. I love personal study, but I feel like comp study is still a little awkward. My companion is great but we definitely have different styles, so it's hard for me when I give my input or say something and she just sits there and doesn't say anything in response. Haha it makes me feel awkward. But I've known several people like that so hopefully she doesn't hate me, it's just her way of thinking (while I'm one who thinks everything out loud....hmmm, now that I think about it, that probably drives her crazy!). Anyways, I'm trying to just love and serve her, because I know that that's all I can do!

Last Monday, we went to a Marshallese family's home for FHE/dinner, and it was amazing! They make TUBS full of delicious grilled chicken, not to mention all the other amazing food. And you eat it with your hands and it's just tons of food all the time haha. They found out I had recently had a birthday, along with another elder, so they gathered around and sang to us in Marshallese and all shook our hands, and the cute little girls gave me a Marshallese headband and him a Marshallese necklace! It felt like I was in "Other Side of Heaven", only in Iowa :)

I had my "click day" on Saturday! One month down! Not counting though ;)

Interviews were good! The time with Pres and Sis Jensen went by too fast - I was only able to ask one question - but I came away feeling very loved, and that was enough for now :)

Holy cow I write a lot. One last thing for now. Mornings are getting much better, probably due to my rock-hard bed (haha), as for the first couple weeks it was a nightmare trying to get out of bed. But, I've learned to accept that I"m still in my first trimester and am experiencing some morning [home]sickness. Haha I'm never homesick, except in the mornings before I start getting really busy. Then I miss yall a lot. But I've dealt with it before so I know that once I get busy I'll be fine, and I just laugh at my punniness at the morning [home]sickness, even though it's not very funny :)

I absolutely love the scriptures! they are so wonderful. I'm so grateful for the knowledge of the gospel that blesses my life so much. I know it will bless the lives of the people here! Thank you so much for all your encouraging words! Love you tons!!!

Sister Whipple