Monday, October 28, 2013

Sister Whipple goes apostate


How are you all? Sister Etherington and I are having a great day! The weather has warmed up again and it is beautiful! We are enjoying it while we can. Since last week we drove up to Osceola to WalMart, we aren't going shopping this week so it is a much more relaxing P-day. We are thinking we might go to Liberty Hall, the home of Joseph Smith III. Fun times.

It's been an interesting week. We had exchanges with our sister training leader and her companion, which was a little stressful but good. Sometimes as senior companion I feel like I have to do and know everything when really there are people here who are willing and ready to help me, so I shouldn't feel so overwhelmed. And I felt even more so during exchanges because I wanted everything to go well and didn't want them thinking we weren't doing a good job or something. But it was silly and I shouldn't have worried so much. Also I get soooo overwhelmed when people start talking about how important it is to follow the Spirit and how if we "have not the Spirit, ye shall not teach" and all of that. I feel so inadequate sometimes! I wish I were better at that and had more faith. It really is so important and I know that Heavenly Father wants to bless me. As Elder Gay said, "He who scattered, gathers." I need to trust Him more. But yeah I finally lost it and cried a little haha and I haven't cried in a realllly long time (in my standards) so that was interesting. Good thing Sister Dixon gives the best hugs, I needed that (ugh, I never wanted to be one of "those" sisters who cries to her sister training leader haha!) But I LOVE Elder Bednar and how he says to stop fretting about if it's the Spirit and if it's not, just "be good boys and girls" and everything will work out! 

ANYWAYS not sure why I just told you all of that but regarding exchanges and my subject line, you know how I get lost, like, super easily? Haha well you have to be careful getting lost here or else you might end up going apostate. Yeah, I definitely found myself driving Sister Paul into Missouri and OUT OF THE MISSION on accident! Ahh! Haha I was so frustrated because we were trying to get to an appointment and Iowa's weird with addresses and stuff so the GPS wouldn't take me the right way and I was just trying to do it by memory, and I got on the wrong freeway and had to drive quite a bit into Missouri before we could turn around (and we were already short on miles, that was frustrating). For those of you who have been on missions, you know how big of a no-no leaving your mission is! Sorry President! But anyways, we eventually got there and it was all OK. Thank you Sis Paul for being patient haha. 

Sis. E and I have been realizing more and more just how blessed we've been growing up. There are a lot of people here who really don't have much money, and they sometimes don't show up at church because they have to wait until the next paycheck so they can pay for gas to drive the 30 or so miles there. One sweet family here in Lamoni couldn't go to the trunk or treat or the Relief Society broadcast (I'll explain that in a minute) because if they did, they wouldn't be able to get to church. I am amazed by the humility and strength of these people. I love them so much!

Our ward watched the Relief Society broadcast this past Saturday because there was something else going on when it was showing a few weeks ago, and they wanted to be able to have a dinner so they just decided to postpone it. That was nice because then we got to watch it again! They had a delicious dinner beforehand. We didn't have investigators at church unfortunately, but we will next week.

Thanks for all your responses about tithing! That was helpful. We will probably be using those for a lesson with a recent convert within the next couple of weeks. So thank you :) I loved those, so here's another one: How was the restored gospel blessed your family?

Oh! I did a training for district mtg for the first time! I was asked to train on the PMG sections "Finding through your own efforts" through "No effort is wasted". Helps that we've done a lot of "finding" (mostly tracting) lately! I felt good about it and wasn't as stressed as I thought I would be, even though the zone leaders were there. But they are great so I didn't feel too intimidated or anything. 

The people in Lamoni are so nice. I hardly even mind tracting here because we get so many more potentials than I've ever seen (in my vast experience) through tracting. I'm worried though that we'll tract out this little town very quickly...we need to spend more time in the other towns, but it's tricky with them all being so far apart. And they just don't seem as nice in the other towns! ;)

We had our first real dinner appointment yesterday!!  They have five boys and the younger four were there. They were super cute and the 6 and 9 year olds loved us :) Super sweet family. 

No pictures again - last week when trying to figure out my memory card reader (which used to work but doesn't anymore), I accidentally "corrupted" my memory card. THANK GOODNESS I had the foresight to back up all my pictures on my thumb drive. I would have been sick if I had lost those! So, I'm going to need a new memory card. Darn it I was going to tell you what kind so you could just order it online for me and have it sent to my apartment since that would be easier than trying to find one here...any idea which kind I'd need? I have a Canon. Sorry :P

This gospel is amazing! I love it! Thank you all for your examples, you absolutely amaze me. I'm praying for y'all! Love you so much!

Sister Whipple

Monday, October 21, 2013

"as a representative of Jesus Christ"; miracles in Lamoni!

Hi loved ones!

Wow, what an incredible week this has been! We have seen so many miracles and been so blessed. Sometimes when things go so well I get scared that they're going to go back down again but I need to remember to have faith and to trust in the Lord because this is His work, not mine :)

With Sister Sumsion! We were next-door neighbors in Provo!
Sorry my letters are later in the day now, this cute little library doesn't open until 1 on Mondays:) 

I'll tell you about the people we're working with, because that's the fun part! We are still teaching the young man whom I told you about last week I believe. He's awesome. We're just helping him to receive an answer. His baptismal date is Nov 2, which would mean he'd need to have a baptismal interview this week...not sure if that will happen, but he's working and praying and so are we! He'll get baptized :) We love meeting with him. We also love that the lady from our ward comes with us and is so helpful! We learn SO much from her. She told us that one thing that her mission president emphasized in her mission is when they testify/promise blessings, they should do so as representatives of Jesus Christ. It is pretty powerful and is so helpful sometimes! Hannah Whipple doesn't know a whole lot, but Sister Whipple can say "I testify as a representative of Jesus Christ," and when we use that righteously, the Spirit has to bear witness of it as well.

Mural in Lamoni
We tracted into a sweet lady who lived most of her life as part of the Brotherhood of Christ community. They are a break-off from the RLDS and live very similar to the Amish lifestyle. She and her husband and family left that community a couple years ago, which was huge. She said that they have been completely shunned since leaving and they live with so much guilt and shame. It has been really hard for them. She said they lived in a lot of fear, and so while she's looking for a religion for her two kids, she definitely has some hesitations and lots of questions about organized religion and the "Mormon religion." But, she seems to like us coming over, and she is so sweet and I really hope that she lets the true gospel of Jesus Christ heal her soul and bring her family the happiness they need! It was amazing running into her though - it was last Monday night and was a little rainy and dark, and she let us in (HUGE deal haha) and chatted with us a bit. When we were leaving she asked how we found her, and said she was glad we did :)

Another day, we decided to stop by the home of a less-active Graceland Student. We stopped by unannounced but she was SO nice and we were able to leave a short message with her, her good friend and her roommate and we set a return appointment to meet with them and teach her. She is from Samoa and loves Mormons and the Book of Mormon and everything (she is so cute!). When we came back a few days later for our appointment, they had made a whole meal for us - fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni, and veggies - and had invited several other friends to come by! Then they sat us down and had us teach them! Funniest group ever - we taught the four of them, and one was Tongan, one Samoan, one Filipino, and the other Hawaiian; later, two other guys showed up, and both of them are black. Haha! So fun. VERY different personalities as well. Now we just need to figure out how to meet with them down individually w/o offending anyone, because it's hard to answer questions, and address concerns when it's a party every time we come over! ;) One of them bore super powerful testimony, and she and ANOTHER friend (from Samoa) came to church on Sunday!

We taught another super sweet lady on Friday night and she is so great! She basically already believes that the Book of Mormon is true and has felt the Spirit many times. We taught her the Restoration and she accepted the baptismal invite. We can't wait to meet with her again!

Sister Etherington and I also gave talks in Sacrament Meeting! It made it easy and fun to invite people, but it was interesting trying to throw together a talk when we don't have a lot of time to prepare for other things and we weren't given much time to write them. And writing a talk w/o the computer is the most painful thing ever, I don't know what we did before computers haha! But I felt good about it. Our topic was becoming more Christlike, and I focused on the enabling power of the Atonement and used a lot of Elder Bednar talks. It really is so amazing how we can gain power and strength through the Atonement so that we can do and be more than we ever could on our own. I have definitely felt that recently, and am so grateful for it! We met with Bishop after church and he really has high expectations for us, which makes me a little nervous but is also exciting because knowing that he's expecting a lot out of us makes us want to work harder. I'm trying to be a better leader and plan better so that we can use our time most effectively. I also am still terrible at not getting lost and disoriented, even in this tiny town :P haha sometimes I think maybe part of my brain doesn't function correctly in that sense,I get lost so easily!

Question for you all: what are some blessings from paying tithing you've seen in your lives? How has it blessed our family? Input would be awesome! Thanks!

Lamoni, Iowa
Well I love it here. The sound of the horse and buggy riding by has become one of my favorite sounds, and I love that we know the mail carrier and the librarians and the workers at the second-hand store (where we'll be volunteering a bit) and all of that fun small-town stuff. I love bearing my testimony to people. I love feeling the Spirit as we teach people the gospel and hear their stories. I miss you all but am always so amazed by how wonderful of missionaries you are! You make me want to do better. Thanks for your example and your love. I love you so much!!!

Sister Whipple

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

in which I meet a Father Mother, the saints play the demons, and other small-town happenings

Hi family & friends!

I am in good ole Lamoni, IA! It is so crazy haha. I mean, check out that name! Lamoni?! Also, you should look it up. It is crazy, I think there are like 3000 people here, and I think just under 1000 of those are university students. I'm pretty sure it was like founded by Joseph Smith III or something and basically settled by the RLDS, now Community of Christ church. The university, Graceland, is the only school owned by the CoC. And we're about 5 minutes from the Missouri border and about 75 miles (that might be off) south of Des Moines. We also have an Amish community and the first night we drove in, I was greeted by a horse and buggy driving along the side of the road. The elementary and high school are connected and apparently the whole community participates in like, everything. There is one tiny Hy-Vee grocery store that is overpriced but super friendly. Sister Etherington and I keep going back and forth between "this is awesome! this place is so cute!" to "where in the world am I and what am I doing here?!" haha talk about culture shock. I have been out of my comfort zone for sure in many ways here, but it is so good :)

Holy cow do I have a lot to tell you today, so I'm sorry in advance if I don't get to respond to everyone's emails. I'm getting ahead of myself, so I'm going to back up a bit and tell you about my last couple days in Dub-town. I mean in Dubuque. (which I used to think was a pretty small city and now I feel like it's huge. Gotta love perspective!) Anyways, the Marshellese people are so wonderful and of course threw a going-away party for Elder Tripp and me. They had food (duh), then sat Elder Tripp and me on two chairs and gave a speech, sang "God Be With You till We Meet Again" and a good-bye song (both in Marshallese), came by one by one to shake our hands/hug us and give us little homemade trinkets like flowers and earrings and necklaces and such or to give us money (totally uncomfortable, except that it's super normal. Thankfully most of the time they just give you $1 bills), and then they had us each give a little speech and had a couple more speeches and then were finally done. haha it was crazy - I miss Marshellese people!

On Tuesday night we had a Relief Society activity, which was missionary-themed. it was great, and they had Sister Call and me role-play how a first lesson would generally go if someone were to invite us into their home to teach their friend. It went really well and the members we role-played with were awesome. And the cute little Lowder girl had everyone there sign a paper for me to say good bye! It was so sweet, I love it. I love that ward so much, and I miss them!!

On Wednesday (P-day, since it was transfers week) we had a last ice cream and ultimate Uno party at Elder and Sister Thomas' home. Oh how I miss them! Sister Call and I also went to a potential investigator's salon and had her do our eyebrows. The things we do as missionaries to try to get people to listen to us! ;) sneaky sneaky. But hey, my eyebrows look good! don't judge :)

Thursday was transfers day. My new companion, Sister Etherington, is awesome! Ahh she is so sweet and so motivated. It is a little different because she is actually a Nauvoo visitor's center missionary on her out-bound and will be in the Iowa Des Moines mission for 6 months. But that means she's actually been out 1 week longer than I have, so I'm don't need training! Mostly I just help her with the logistics of being a proselyting missionary (area book, etc.) but she's rocking and doesn't need a trainer in other ways. We're still going through the 12-week training program though because that's what we're instructed to do, and I could use it again anyways. But I seriously love Sis Etherington, she motivates me to be a better missionary! Also she's 21 and spent 3 years at the University of Utah - but we love each other anyways ;) And she's the youngest of 5! 

Our area is super big (we cover several little towns, which are interspersed by lots of farmland and country) and the church is 30 miles away, so we got a brand new car! It makes me a little nervous driving it haha. The ward is very friendly and very different than anything I've ever been used to (again, a little bit of culture shock). Splitting a ward is hard too, because it's hard to get to know everyone. There aren't a whole lot of members in our area, and it doesn't look like we'll be eating with members very often. But hopefully we can build relationships with them, find lots of people to eat, and maybe lose a couple pounds while we have the chance haha. Yesterday (Sunday) I was feeling soooo stressed and overwhelmed by everything. There is so much that goes into whitewashing an area, and it is hard! We were fasting too, and I have just been trying to stay positive, which can be really hard sometimes. We are the only sisters in our district (it feels like the olden times before the wave!) and sometimes we feel a little alone out in Lamoni, especially since we still don't know many people and it is easy to start missing people that way. But fasting and praying brings miracles!

Last night we taught a man who is from Venezuela and is a referral from Nauvoo. He was taught all the lessons by the missionaries in Nauvoo, so Sis Etherington knew about him and knows the sisters who taught him, which made him really excited! He's a Graceland student (side note: Graceland recruits heavily, and there are tons of international student and a ton of racial and religious diversity, so that's actually really fun). We taught him with another lady from church, also a Graceland University student and a Returned missionary who served in Argentina. She is amazing! I'm starting to think maybe they push member-present lessons because they know that the missionaries really aren't very good haha. Sometimes I wonder why we're the ones who have the responsibility to teach! I learned so much from that lady and just really hope that someday I'll be as powerful a missionary as she is. Anyways, he now has a baptismal date of Nov 2! He says if he KNOWS it's true and it's the right thing for him by then, then he'll be baptized. I think he already knows from the way he talks about the gospel - I mean, he loves telling people about it! He's already a missionary! - but he needs to just commit, which is hard because he knows it's not a little thing - it's a change of life. So please pray for him!

And please pray for Sister Etherington and me here! I take it back what I said a while ago about it being hard being junior companion - it's just hard being a missionary in general haha. But it is good. I love bearing my testimony to people here. They are, for the most part, so nice to us. I'm trying to learn people's names because everyone will know us soon so we're trying our best to get to know everyone as well! It's funny how small towns can sometimes be more overwhelming than big cities. I realized, though, that as I've gone out of my comfort zone, I feel a stronger pull to the Book of Mormon and prayer, as they bring comfort and familiarity. I'm so incredibly grateful for this gospel, and for all of you! I love you so much!

I had some fun pictures, but my device doesn't seem to be working :( I'll try to figure it out, but for this week, no pics. Sorry!

Love from Lamoni,
Sister Whipple

PS we tracted into this cute little guy (probably about 10) who, when we asked him if he's ever wondered what happens to us after we die, he answered "lot of times." His parents weren't home so we said we'd come back, and when we were about to leave he threw his arms around us and hugged us. Haha it was a little apostate (aka not really allowed for us to hug him), but he was the cutest little man. It just made me so sad when we went back and the parents weren't very nice to us at all. I'm not sure if we'll be able to really go back there, but hopefully he'll remember us someday and I'm sure he'll have another chance when he's older to hear and accept the wonderful truths of the gospel!

PPS holy cow, sorry. But, I didn't explain the subject line. We met a lady who's a Community of Christ pastor (she's an elder) and she invited us in and talked with us for a while. She was sooo nice and is also the president of the chamber of commerce so is a good connection! But I almost died of laughter when she told us about how when she became an elder, her kids started calling her "Father Mother." baha. I have never met a single CoC person in my life and now I'm surrounded by them! It's definitely a new experience! As for the saints versus the demons, the high school mascot here is the demons, and there's a school in a nearby town called Mormon Trek High School or something, and their mascot is the saints (haha figures, right?!). So when they play each other, it's the saints versus the demons. Also made me laugh. Love you!

PPPS: I have like 4 minutes to tell you about another miracle I forgot about!

Tuesday night at the RS activity, a past investigator who told us never to return to her house, came!!!!! We couldn't believe it! Closest thing we've gotten to bringing someone to church. I got to talk with her a little afterwards. She said, in her quiet broken sweet English,
        "I'll miss you. Maybe someday I'll be a part of this [pointing around]"
I told her that she will! She is interviewing to change jobs so that she can work a regular schedule and won't get called in to housekeeping ALL the time, including Sundays and when we have teaching appointments. He life is so crazy and she's so lonely. I told her to keep letting Sister Call come and teach her because life IS so crazy, but the only thing that is always the same and is always stable and brings true peace is the gospel, and that that's what Sister Call and us as missionaries share. She said yes, and the Spirit was there and was so sweet. She takes her Book of Mormon to work and reads it during the slower hours. She wants the gospel in her life, and I am just sure that she will be baptized. I will miss her, but I love her and am excited for her to find the joy of the gospel more fully in her life! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

just doin' some heart exercises

are these not the cutest kids ever?!
slash you can totally see their personalities haha.
Oh my goodness. I will miss them.
Hey all!

Well this morning we got The Call......

and I'm training! and opening a new area. as in, LEAVING the beautiful city of Dubuque! Ahh I'm so sad to be leaving. I love it here so much! I really thought I'd stay and Sis Call would leave, which is kind of what we were both more or less hoping for - which is probably why it happened the other way around ;) It was kind of funny though. I really thought I would stay, but then yesterday Sis Call mentioned that the sister training leaders were guessing that I'd leave and she'd stay - not that they have any say at all, it was just a guess. Hearing that made the idea more real for me and I started worrying because I did NOT want to leave. Then I dreamed about it all last night - including dreaming that I was opening and training in Spanish haha! But by the end of the stressful night I was a lot more open to the idea of leaving and wasn't surprised at all when it came. It will be really good. I'm so grateful that Sis Call opened this area with me so that I will have some idea of what to do when I get to my new area. I feel so blessed to have been able to come here for the first area. I haven't had the immediate impact I would have liked, but I really feel like part of the reason I came here is to have the love of the ward members and Elder and Sister Thomas, all of whom have been so wonderful at taking us under their wings. But anyways, I guess that means I'm going to be a mom!!

      That sorta leads into the subject line. On Friday, Sis Call and I met with a Marshallese lady who's been coming to church for 2 weeks with our ward missionary. She hardly speaks English but is AMAZING. The first lesson was so good - not because we taught very well, but because the Spirit was really strong, especially as the other Marshallese ladies with us translated and testified. I might not have understood what they were saying, but anyone could feel the Spirit. She is so excited about being baptized and says she knows the "Mormon church" is true. That was Tuesday. The next day we took her to dinner with us at the ward mission leader's house, where we also watched the Restoration, and then played ping pong :) Then we went over again on Friday. None of our translators could go so we couldn't teach much, but she told us how the Book of Mormon is the "#1 book" and how she's been studying and having her prayers answered. It was so refreshing to hear and to strengthen my testimony that people really can receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon(and that some people really do keep commitments!). 
      Sad part is,she is also moving to Spokane on Saturday. She is so happy because she has been wanting to move there to be with her daughter so bad, and she finally can. She was beaming, and we are happy for her. But it made me think about how this mission, and really life in general, is like an exercise for your heart or something, because it seems every time my hopes get up, something happens that tears at my heart a little! But that's how muscles get stronger - by tearing and then rebuilding even bigger. This morning's transfer doctrine just added to that. I guess my heart just needs to get stronger and stronger :)
 the Marshallese did a farewell for
Elder and Sister Thomas (they've served here a year)
 and obviously decked them out. It was beautiful!

Elder Thomas made grilled cheese and got
lunch all put together for us :)

Anyways, wasn't Conference amazing?!?! I loved it so much. I loved going through my notes this morning and making a little "game plan" as to what I need to do now and what I need to remember. There are always so many things to do and change, and I wanted to pick just a few little things to start working on. For most of my life, I've taken notes and hardly ever looked at them again, so I'm really trying to actually apply what I learned. I felt like a lot of Conference was about the importance of spiritually preparing and fortifying ourselves, as well as the enabling power of the Atonement and how we really can change, put aside our weaknesses, and become new people in Christ. I am so grateful for the Restoration and that we are led by God Himself, through His chosen prophets. It's so comforting to have that knowledge!

We also watched Priesthood session, which was so awesome!! And super applicable to missionary work! It ended up being a huge blessing that we could watch it. Sis Call and I were walking over to the Thomas' (where we watched General Conference), and we passed by a lady we work with, who was just lighting up a cigarette. We ran down to her and said hi and asked how she was doing, and knowing she was "caught," she just said, "I'm just sitting here smoking a cigarette." She didn't want to put it out or anything but when we said that we were heading over to the Thomas' to watch Conference and that she should come with us, she jumped at that and came right over with us. She has been really stressed and really needed that, so it was such a tender mercy that we ran into her! And while walking there and back, we got to talk to her and just tell her about how much Heavenly Father loves her and that the Atonement is real. It was a special experience. 
French Bread!

Other fun things: Last Monday, we made delicious and easy French bread with Grandma Beatse! We also got to teach a lot more lessons and got in with a super sweet inactive lady! Haha and at Hills and Dales there's this super sweet client we hang out with a lot (very high-functioning), and she couldn't remember my name so immediately just called me "Sister Beautiful" haha! I was like, well I'm totally fine with you forgetting my name if you call me that! I love her. Also, I've decided that one of my favorite pasttimes is reading through the Area Book. It's seriously so fun - especially when the elders from years ago write things that just make you laugh. I'm definitely a nerd I guess!
a missionary fridge - weekly goals
(haha hope you enjoy the "shorter showers"), pic of the temple from a little girl, armor of God from another cute girl, random stuff from the member's home, etc :)

Just a reminder - packages need to be sent either First Class or Priority Mail. Any others can't be forwarded (not a big deal right now, because I can just get them at transfers). You all are the best.

I think that's it for now. I just loved Conference so much haha. I love how the General Authorities can call us to repentance while making us feel so loved - something I'm definitely working on! sorry I don't have more specifics, I grabbed the wrong notebook and not the one I took notes in, and I feel like there was so much good stuff that I have a hard time picking a "favorite" or something. 'Cause it was all just so amazing! Mom and Dad, thanks for being amazing parents to me and all of us. I love you all! Wish me luck as I move myself and a brand new missionary to who knows where! Ahh! Church is true! I love you!

Love from Iowa!
Sister Whipple

PS I lied before. NOW it's officially fall haha!