Tuesday, November 26, 2013

when daggers fell from the sky :)

Hi loved ones!

This week has been good! Today sure was a pleasant surprise to say the least - 2 letters and 2 packages?! Thank you so much!!! I couldn't believe it. Sooo sweet. 

Winter officially officially started on Thursday! Don't worry though, I was OK :) We went to Leon (nearby town) and the weather was just nasty (sleety rain stuff) but the people were surprisingly nice! Maybe the bad weather is actually a blessing! We haven't had much luck in Leon but we found some awesome potential investigators, then stopped by the sweetest member family for dinner, then taught our little 8-year-old girl the Plan of Salvation with some sweet cut-outs we made. It was a sweet lesson because her dad helped her little 6 year-old brother say the opening prayer, and her mom helped her pray. I love that family! Anyways, when we got out of the lesson at about 7:45, we went outside and it was "snowing" - but this is not the same snow they have in Utah! It's daggers falling from the sky! Haha we were just laughing at how ridiculous it was. I am sooo grateful we have a car. Everything was super icy so we drove very carefully :) Lots of snow and sleet and ice rain that night.

Yesterday Sister Etherington and I went to a multi-faith Thanksgiving service at the Community of Christ church building that we were invited to! It was fun and interesting. I almost died of trying to contain my laughter though because we kept being super awkward on accident. For example...we all stood up for the opening hymn, followed by the invocation. At the end of the prayer, the girl giving the prayer said "amen," so naturally Sis. Etherington and I say "amen" as well...only we were the only ones. Haha seriously we never knew when they'd say amen or not! Sometimes the pastor would be talking and people would be saying amen spontaneously, and other times they'd say amen to close a prayer and we were the only ones who amen-ed the prayer as well. Anyways, it opened my eyes to just how awkward people probably feel when they come to our church for the first time and don't know how to do anything, and how we just need to help them to feel as comfortable as possible. But you know what's super cool about the service? Sis. Etherington and I got to be a part of it! We were asked to give a "testimony" for just a couple minutes about something related to the theme of the service, which was "thankful for community." I introduced ourselves and said who we are and what we do and talked a little about how I'm grateful for the different communities in my life, and then Sister Etherington read 3 Nephi 12:14-16 (I just totally guessed on those numbers, they are the verses about the light on the hill) and related it to Lamoni, and how grateful we are for the community of Lamoni.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house; Therefore let you light shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (3 Nephi 12:14-16). 

 And she did a great job throwing in a little testimony of how Jesus Christ is the light of the world and how God is our loving Heavenly Father :) haha and when she closed "in the name of Jesus Christ," I was of course the only one who responded with an amen hahaha. Anyways, I felt pretty good about it and was really grateful for that opportunity. At the end we were like celebrities or something, haha it was funny - everyone seemed so intrigued by us, it was hard for us to get out of there because so many people wanted to talk to us! So fun, so grateful.

We had stake conference this weekend, which was amazing!!!! It was in Des Moines so it was so crazy trying to find a ride, but of course it all worked out. We got to go to the adult session because it was all based on the Work of Salvation broadcast, and it was soooo great!! We had a "missionary choir" where we all stood up in the front for the intermediate hymn, "Go Forth With Faith," and sang the last verse together. It was so cool. There are 63 missionaries in the Des Moines stake!! And, "Mamma Call" got transferred to Des Moines on Thursday, so I got to see her!! It was sooo fun. The Sunday session was awesome as well, and we rode with the Slayton family, who then fed us lunch afterwards. Sis. Slayton has become like our mom here, which I love :)

This week should be interesting! Almost all of our investigators will be gone because almost all of them are students, so that's a bummer - but hopefully we'll find more families! We have Thanksgiving dinners with two families, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday :) So excited! You all have a most wonderful Thanksgiving too :) I am sooo grateful for this gospel and for the opportunity to be a missionary! It's amazing, and I am so blessed. I love the quote from President Monson's General Conference Sunday morning talk: "My Heavenly Father has been so good to me." So true. I love you all and thank you SO much for all you do and are for me! 

Sister Whipple

Monday, November 18, 2013

we help, not hope

Hi family & friends!

I need to not let fear creep in and just keep having faith! I love reading Alma 26 and remembering how Ammon and his brothers had to go through a LOT before seeing success - and I love how the Lord comforts them and says "I will give unto you success." Because we do all that we can, but in the end, it's the Lord who gives us success - we are just instruments in His hands. And He doesn't want us to get discouraged!
The Sisters in the Oskie Zone - Sis. Dixon and Sis. Paul (in Pella)

Highlights of the week...One of the young men we teach is awesome! He keeps his commitments and we had such a good lesson with him on Saturday night. We went through the first 2/3 of the Plan of Salvation (stopped right after the Atonement) and the Spirit was really strong, and he was really excited because he told us that we answered every question he had come with that he had been thinking about that week! He was like, "I guess prayer works!" And he said that when he reads the Book of Mormon, he feels good and peaceful - unlike he's felt when he reads any other book. Ahhh!!! I think I said this last week...but he wants to get baptized in Idaho, where he's from, but it will be so cool for his friend. He has a friend in Idaho who's been a huge help because he's someone he trusts, and he pushes him to go to church and to keep meeting with us :) And he did come to church!!! Yay!!! I think church can be a little overwhelming the first week, but I think it was good overall and that he'll keep coming. We're excited.

Oskaloosa (aka Oskie) Zone
On Tuesday we volunteered at Liberty Hall, which is the historic home of Joseph Smith III! It was so cool. We helped decorate for Christmas, and it was just really sweet being able to walk freely around this historic house - the only time I've been places like that, I've had to follow a tourguide and not touch anything. This time I got to go wherever and sometimes HAD to touch things to move them around with the Christmas decorations! It was fun. And we met Shannon's mom and sister there...because welcome to a small town haha.

Sis. E and I had some fun times playing violin and piano together!! We aren't technically supposed to bring instruments, but Sis. E was allowed to in Nauvoo, and then had to bring it to this mission because she couldn't leave it in Nauvoo, so she double-checked with President Jensen and he OK-ed it :) So we've had fun using that for service! We played together (me on the piano, of course) at the nursing & rehab center. We had four songs from her book that we had practiced during lunch, but when we got through those and still had a lot of time left, we played out of the Baptist Hymnal that was sitting on the piano haha. Did you know that the Baptist Hymnal has "Come, Come Ye Saints" in it? I did not! Haha! We also played in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday! We played "Come Thou Fount." Sis. E is amazing! (also a violin performance major, so that makes sense haha). Afterwards, Bishop Bair asked us if we'd play again at the memorial service that was taking place after church, so we played "Be Still My Soul." So fun! I got such a high from performing again haha. "Come Thou Fount" definitely displays the violin more and the piano part is really simple, but "Be Still My Soul" has more piano part and a little piano solo, so it was fun both having a turn like that. Bishop said I'm an "amazing pianist," which made me feel good. It was just fun playing something NOT in the hymnbook haha.

Osceola District (I seriously struggled with these names at first haha)

Zone training meeting was really good. When I first got there I was a little stressed, and during the "spiritual prep" time felt like I should study Preach My Gospel Ch. 1 My Purpose, because I was just feeling the need to refocus and go back to the basics. Then guess what the theme of Zone Training Meeting was? My Purpose! So sweet. I loved it. We learned about how our purpose is to INVITE and then to HELP - not just hope! We practiced how to help our investigators to keep their commitments to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and attend church. I really felt uplifted by it :)

 we didn't have any success in the country, so we took pics with cows instead...and it was SO windy!!
Monday night was sooo frigid...so naturally we took a picture after arriving home :)
As far as random happenings go, we found a frog on the road and tried catching it (to no avail), I really enjoyed looking around at church and realizing that at least two or three of the men were wearing cowboy boots with their suits! It's also the close of yet another transfer - we haven't gotten our "transfer doctrine" yet, but at this point in the calls, we're assuming we're both staying. We'd be so sad if we didn't! And we better because I already decorated my new planner and wrote "Lamoni" in it haha. Also, the only other area in our zone with sisters is being closed (totally a shock to everyone!) so we'll be the only sisters in our zone!

Basically, I'm really grateful for this gospel! I'm so grateful for the Atonement, for forgiveness, for prophets, and for modern-day revelation. I'm grateful for temples and my family! I'm grateful for Bishop Bair and this wonderful ward and for President Jensen and this awesome mission! I'm grateful for the Spirit and the way it touches people's hearts. I'm grateful for all you and your love and prayers! I love you all so much!

Sister Whipple

Monday, November 11, 2013

always double-bag bunnies

Hi everyone!

Sister Etherington and I were so blessed to teach lots of lessons this week! It was exciting and stressful and tiring, in good ways :) Thank you SO much for sending me a memory card - I loved the pics you left on it ;) - and for the letters from Mom and Dad! I loved them so much. Thanks :)

The sunset in the Iowa country. It is twice as beautiful as in the pictures. I love Iowa!
On Saturday we went to a family's home down in Eagleville, MO to help them with some service. They are so funny. They are the first family we met in our area and they are crazy but so great. It's so funny because the first time we went to their house - which they built from the ground up, with hammer and nails - we were like, WHERE ARE WE?! This time we were super comfortable and just had a great time. They have something like 4 chickens and several cats (including an adorable new kitten), a pet duck, a miniature horse, a rooster, and a dog the size of the horse. They are both converts, and the husband's family was in the Italian mafia. Pretty sure he might have been too, he definitely filters his stories a bit for the missionaries. haha he's sooo funny. The wife told us stories about growing up on a farm in Michigan, and the important truth she learned to always double-bag her bunnies because when she carried her bunnies around in brown paper bags and didn't double-bag them, they'd fall right through and run around the house. Sis. E and I have to laugh because like I said, when we first got out, we thought everyone was so weird and crazy and we were out of our comfort zone for sure, but now we sit in church and are just like, "everyone is so funny, we love them!" It's a relief because I wasn't sure if I'd ever come to love these people sometimes, and they are definitely growing on me. I love them :) Oh but as for the service, we just helped them moved some piles of wood to stock up for the winter. The husband fed us the hugest plates of spaghetti for lunch in return.

Another funny story...one day this week was super stressful, and of course it was the day when our toilet broke. Poor Sis. E is very good at drinking water and thus has to go...often. Haha and no one came to fix our toilet all day! FINALLY at 10:15 at night we had a knock on our door and there was the plumber (thankfully with his wife), and like 1 minute later our toilet was fixed. Only in Decatur County!

Our little investigator came to the combined Young Woman/Relief Society service activity on Wednesday! That was good. It sure is interesting teaching a 13-year-old haha...we were showing her around the church building, and one of the pictures we have on the walls is of the Willie and Martin handcart companies with the young boys carrying the pioneers across the river. We told her the story, then asked her what she thought about it. She paused for a moment, then said, "That painting looks really hard to paint, I mean look at that water - I know water's hard to paint!" We're like "NO WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE STORY?!" haha and she's just like, "oh yeah, I liked it." haha :)

We have a sweet new investigator! He is so so prepared. Also a little frustrating right now because he keeps changing his appointments haha. But the student we always teach with met him at a party, and he basically said he wants to be Mormon. He grew up in Idaho and his dad was Mormon but inactive and his mom wasn't religious at all. Before his grandpa passed away, he told him to look out for missionaries at college, and the guy was thinking, "I go to school in Lamoni, there aren't going to be any missionaries there." Then guess where we met him? In the Graceland library! He is so excited to learn. He said he used to be really rebellious but he stopped all that and wants something more, not only for him but also for his future family. It's so sweet. He asked us how he can get baptized and I was so shocked, I'm pretty sure I gave a really awful answer haha! But hey, I've never ever been asked that before. I only wish he hadn't stayed out sooo late Saturday night or else he would have gone to church...sometimes people use their agency in such frustrating ways! But anyways, there have been so many times here when I've realized just how much Heavenly Father really does have a plan for each of us, and His plan is so perfect! So many "coincidences" that aren't coincidences at all. It is amazing. I love His plan so much, and am so grateful for it!

Even though we invited lots of people to church and only one came (and only for 2 hours), church was really good. It was really uplifting and I just really felt edified by it. We were invited over to a family's home for dinner Sunday night (yay!), and it was the most amazing food I've eaten at least since I've been to Lamoni, if not longer. They are in their 80's and remind me so much of G&G Whipple! They have the cutest grandparent house, with tons of old pictures on the walls. She made the most amazing brisket and potatoes and carrots and cabbage, with apple pie at the end. Sis. E and I were so content haha. And, we got leftovers! Score! Which was good because we were running low on food haha. 

 yeah, we definitely put up newspapers on our window. And then every night I hang the blanket up over it. I also am getting a lot more OK with killing cockroaches. Livin' the dream
Like I said, we were blessed to teach lots of lessons. That was good to teach one of our girls because she honestly did not realize that going to church is so important - she was like "I always thought that it wasn't a big deal to go to church as long as you have God inside of you, but then you would always text me and invite me to church, so I started thinking maybe it's important!" haha yes! She is so sweet and humble. She would have come on Sunday but I think her ride fell through...rides around here are SO hard to find. Mom, after reading your letter, I kept thinking how nice it would be to have you here in town haha!

Sis. E and I had a lot of fun moments this week where we were laughing so hard that I was literally crying. There aren't many things I enjoy more than that :)

Thanks for all your love and support! I sure do love you all!

Sister Whipple

Monday, November 4, 2013

interviews and Halloween and trainings, oh my

Hi all!

This past week was fun - we had a new trainers' meeting in West Des Moines (road trip!!) on Tuesday, had to be in by 6 on Wednesday and Thursday (we were super productive in our apartment though!), had normal district meeting on Thursday, and had interviews with President and Sister Jensen on Saturday! This week is back to the grindstone - we don't even have district mtg this week - so it will be hard but good. Miracles come when we work hard ;)

Last Monday was so awesome. We met with young lady and her boyfriend, and it was the coolest lesson! Sis Etherington and Sis Paul taught the lady on exchanges, but this was the first time meeting her boyfriend, so we were a little nervous. They are wonderful! They love temples and want to be married for eternity - which is awesome because that will hopefully make the law of chastity lesson easy ;) He is from Chicago and grew up in a super ghetto area with a bad background - he told us a lot about it - but he's so prepared. He's always had a desire to "find Jesus" in his life and it's so cool hearing about everything that has brought him to where he is today. They said they know that we were sent to them at just the right time! He asked us a question about Adam and the creation, and we answered it simply, and he just looked at us and was like, "I could have asked that to any pastor and he wouldn't have been able to answer me. But you just did!" I didn't think we had said anything crazy (just that we lived with God before we were born), but it made me so grateful for the truths of the restored gospel! He has also been taught his whole life that after we die we forget everything - including all our relationships - about this earth, so it's so cool to be able to teach that we CAN be with our families forever. The young lady is so cute - she has hardly any religious background, but when we ask if she can feel the Spirit, she's like "oh, I'm feelin it!" with her arms in the air. hahaha we've been saying "I'm feelin' it!" all week now. And when we asked if we could kneel in prayer at the end, she was like "Oh I'm kneeling!" haha I love her. Super cool response to the baptismal invite too. Sis E. asked them, and she said she wants to, but she wants to with her family. He didn't say much at first, so Sis E asked again, and he said...No. We asked him why and he explained that it is because he's already been baptized and everything. He sometimes has a hard time focusing because he has so many questions and loves to talk, so I'm not sure if he really understood the Restoration. But I summarized Acts 19 for him, talking about this group of people who was baptized again by Paul, and I didn't feel like I was doing a great job - but then he was like, "The whole time you've been talking, God's been talking to me. And the Spirit's telling me that what you're saying is right and I should listen to you. So yeah, I'll be baptized again."  YEAH! The Spirit rocks! They went to Chicago for the weekend so we haven't been able to see them, but we are meeting with them again tonight. hopefully we'll set a baptismal date!!

Speaking of baptismal dates, another man we are teaching is doing great! We were really worried about him for a while there because we felt like we were stuck in a rut. His baptismal date was Nov 2, but he wasn't ready, which is OK. But then last week we had two lessons with him and we really felt the Spirit in those lessons, which was such a relief! The second lesson, we watched President Uchtdorf's talk, "Come, Join With Us" from this past conference (click here for link), because he has a hard time believing in Joseph Smith as a prophet since he was so imperfect. He loved the video! He always prays in Spanish, but I can understand a little and the girl who comes with us to the lesson translated for us after he left and she said that his prayer was really sweet. Apparently he said something like, "thank you that we were able to watch that talk, it really helped answer some of my questions." Yes! We set a new date with him for later this month and he seems much more on board with it this time! He also came to church on Sunday and stayed for all three hours! We are trying to help the ward get better at fellowshipping, and I don't think he's super comfortable at church yet, but I think he was able to have a good experience and will keep coming. Haha not having investigators at church is stressful, but having them there is stressful too! But it's great, I love the ward and I think they are getting more and more missionary minded! It's exciting!

We have also been teaching our 13-year-old investigator! We teach her on her front porch - she hasn't invited us in yet, and I can tell her family situation is not great. Her parents know who we are and are nice enough to us, but they just don't care about anything - it's really sad. She can be hard to teach sometimes because she gets super distracted and doesn't remember much of what we say, but it's good trying to teach simply. I loved talking about how God loves her and how she can be clean of all her past mistakes (she's had a rough past) through the Atonement and baptism and the Sacrament and all of that good stuff!

On Wednesday we had dinner with a lady who is a Community of Christ pastor! She took us to Pizza Shack. Haha she's so sweet and totally looks out for us! 

I've been having lots of missionary dreams lately. Sis E said I was giving some crazy lessons in my sleep. It's stressful haha.
Yesterday was my 4th click day, so we celebrated by breaking our fast with cinnamon French toast! Then we had "healthy brownies." It was delicious. 

Tonight we will be teaching a "stop smoking workshop" to one of our new converts! I am a little nervous but also excited. His family is working towards going to the temple, so we really want to help him so they can all be there and be sealed together! That would be so cool and they are so close and so wonderful! Yesterday at church Bishop gave a blessing to him and his wife. The Spirit was so strong. I felt so blessed to be able to be there to experience that.

The switch from daylight savings was fun! I had fallen asleep super quickly the night before (I was out before Sis E climbed into bed, which wasn't long after I did!) and had forgotten about it, as had she. When her alarm went off, I looked at the phone and thank goodness it had changed automatically, so it said 5:30 instead of 6:30. In my groggy voice and with my retainer and accompanying lisp, I was like "Sister Etherington, guess what? It's daylight savings! We have another hour to sleep!" We both cheering and feel back asleep. Haha it was the best.

You all are so awesome. Thanks for reading my super long, super rambling letters. Oh and Dad....HAPPY BIRTHDAY on Friday!!!!! You're the best and I love you like crazy! Thanks for being my dad! And thanks all for being mi familia :)

Love you!

Sister Whipple