Monday, December 30, 2013

"there are no words" part III: the story continues

Christmas Eve hot cocoa
Hi all!

It was so fun Skyping with you on Christmas!!! Thanks for the wonderful experience. Sister Etherington liked meeting you too and was impressed by how "relaxed" we all were haha. I really, really enjoyed it. I have the best family ever! :)

Everything went just about as perfectly as anyone could hope for Daniel's trip to Nauvoo! It has been so incredible to see Heavenly Father's hand so strongly in his life. We were glad he was able to spend Christmas there with the senior missionaries who love him so much. Even more, we were glad that on Friday, so many ward members drove to Nauvoo with the youth and took him right under their wing! Bishop Bair - seriously, he's an amazing bishop! - contacted him and interviewed him in Nauvoo and made sure everything went wonderfully. Daniel went with the ward to a play ("Rendevous") in Nauvoo, then joined them at their testimony meeting at the home they were staying in that night. He even bore his testimony to all the youth there! Then Bishop ordained him as a Priest, and the next day he went with the ward to the temple! AND he even brought two family names! Bishop texted us and told us that it was a powerful, incredible experience. It was sort of killing Sister Etherington and me that we weren't there with them - but I'm grateful we weren't because it forced Daniel to build these relationships with the ward, which is so important! It was the best feeling when he called and told us about the experience. He just sounded so happy and reverent and kept saying "It was so amazing" and "there are just no words to describe the feeling there", etc. And he kept thanking us - when I don't think he will ever understand how grateful WE are that we've been able to be a part of this wonderful miracle! We were so full of joy. I was pondering about it and realized that while I've had MANY happy, joyful experiences in my life, I have never felt that kind of joy - and there really are no words to describe it :)

We had another really awesome experience last night!! We taught two members of "The Brotherhood" twice but haven't gone back in quite a while. The last lesson we had was really heavy and intense and the man clearly had a lot of hurt. But we see the lady all the time at the library, and the other day she basically invited us over again! So we went last night and he told us that he had wanted us to come over because he wanted to let us know that since our visit, he's thought a lot about God and what we talked about, and he realized that he had a lot of walls up that needed to come down. He said that he wanted us to know that we made a difference in his life and that he's grateful we came over. WHAT?! Coolest thing ever!!! We were able to bear testimony of the gospel and the Spirit and how we pray every time we teach that the Spirit will bear witness to their hearts, because we can't do anything on our own - it's the Spirit that changes people. And we had a MUCH more pleasant discussion as we taught about where we came from (first part of Plan of Salvation) and our identities as children of God. We were so excited :)

Funny story. The other day, we were standing on this lady's porch, talking to her through her door. It was cold and snowy and muddy, and these cats kept walking all over our feet. Suddenly, this one cat leaped some 5 feet into the air and clung onto my shoulders! It was the WEIRDEST feeling as I turned my head and I was face-to-face with this cat! Sister Etherington was DYING afterward because apparently I had a really funny expression on my face. I love being a missionary, hahaha!

The rest of Christmas was really great! We have SO many treats, it's ridiculous. I'm to the point where I'm trying to decide what to just throw away haha! But after we Skyped, we had an early dinner/late lunch at the family's home where we skyped...then went to another member family's home and had real dinner...then went to another sweet lady's home and were offered MORE dinner! I declined. I was STUFFED. But she gave it to us to take home haha. I think it was good that we visited with her, because she was alone all Christmas and she is SO sweet. She gave us each a super sweet gift - they were like heirlooms! I got this beautiful handkerchief of some kind that says "Sister" that her mother stitched. So sweet.

Christmas mornings are always super attractive haha!
Gifts from family!
We had two lessons with three other students who are staying at the house for the break. They are FINALLY officially investigators! So that was exciting. And they are reading from the Book of Mormon, which is a big deal! Now to get them to pray about it :) We also had a good lesson with an inactive lady and her daughter - we really feel like she's opening up to us more. It's exciting :)

We also got to attend two baptisms this past weekend! On Saturday night we received permission to go to Des Moines for the baptism of the niece of a lady in our ward, and the first Sunday that Sister Etherington and I were here, that lady brought her niece to church and pulled us out of Sunday School to teach her niece her first lesson - and our first lesson teaching together! We'd see her niece periodically since then and she is SO sweet and it's been so cool watching her change and just become sooo happy. So we got to go to her baptism, and play a musical number! We played a really beautiful arrangement of "More Holiness Give Me." It was extra special because we played at her grandmother's memorial service, which is where she first started really recognizing the Spirit in her life. When we walked into the church and she saw us, she said "it's my girls!!" And gave us a big hug :) We love her! Then, Sunday after church, the Chariton elders baptized one of their investigators. He is 19 and has autism and has just progressed so well and was so happy to be baptized. It was sweet :)

welcome to the Osceola Ward!
We are anxiously awaiting the call with our transfer doctrine today! I dreamed about it all last night. I hate waiting to hear about who's going where haha. But it was funny because we just so happened to sing "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" in Sacrament Meeting that will be our theme song for the next couple of days, I'm sure :) So for now, send everything to the mission home! I sure love you all and I KNOW that Heavenly Father loves us, and the gospel's true!

Sister Whipple

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"there are no words" part II

Hi loved ones!

Wow, this week was amazing! Daniel is baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! My heart has been so full. Sometimes it's almost too much to handle :)

I hardly even know what to say, so I'm glad I'll be talking to you all on Wednesday

Anyways, Daniel's baptism and confirmation was legitimately a miracle. We met with him almost every day this week, which was so fun - the transformation that's happened in him is so obvious! He has been so excited and stalwart this whole week - no wavering from him! On Saturday, it was the "final test"...there was a big storm brewing all day - and remember that church is 30 miles away! I was super hopeful all morning that the storm would hold out, but the air got thicker and thicker and people would ask us if the baptism was still happening and everything, and it started getting VERY stressful. We talked to him on the phone twice that day and he was so awesome. He was worried too but he let us assure him that everything would work out, and he was so funny - we were like, "Just think about the pioneers, trudging through the snow to be baptized!" and he was like, "well, I'm going to go work on my wagon now." in his cute little Venezuelan accent. It was probably the most stressful day of my mission haha - Sis. E. and I had knots in our stomach! I can't tell you what a relief it was when we got to the church building and there the elders were, filling up the font and printing off the programs (they were CHAMPS) and the sweet Einertson family was cleaning the building. The Slayton's came early with Daniel, and Elder and Sister Gneiting (whom Daniel met in Nauvoo) drove all the way from Nauvoo! Then Bishop showed up (we didn't know if he would be able to make it) and more and more people started coming. We thought that NO one would come with the weather and everything! (I'm telling you, I've never seen so many people throw such a hissy fit about the weather. Doesn't it snow often here? It's like they've never seen it before!) But no, the members were incredible and they CAME. I know that Heavenly Father held the storm off because it didn't hit until a few hours after it was supposed to, and everyone got there and back home again safely - it was so sweet how many people texted/called us to make sure we got home :) - including the Gneiting's, all the way back to Nauvoo. Bishop Bair also decided to confirm Daniel that night, which was SUCH a blessing because church got cancelled the next day, and Daniel will be in Nauvoo next Sunday! So many miracles.

About the actual baptismal service, it was incredible. The Spirit was so so powerful. We had to find backups for both prayers and for one talk, but everything worked out great. Sis Etherington and I played "Come Thou Fount" on violin/piano and it was really fun. Daniel looked so good and was so happy! Elder Gneiting baptized him and Bishop Bair confirmed him. While Daniel was getting dressed after the baptism, Sis. E and I taught the Restoration, which is what we're "supposed" to do in our mission, and that was really fun and a cool experience to teach in that kind of setting. My favorite part was the confirmation - it was sooo amazing. 

It was fun meeting with Daniel last night and being able to talk about the baptismal service, because of course we couldn't talk to him a whole lot while there. We asked him what his favorite part was, and he said "the whole thing." It was amazing hearing him talk about it, because you can tell that he's so sincere and that it meant to much to him. Again, he's changed so much. He's going to Nauvoo to be with the Gneiting's and the other senior missionaries for Christmas, and everything is working out so wonderfully - Bishop and the youth and much of the ward will be there over the weekend, so if everything works out, Bishop will interview and ordain him in Nauvoo, and Daniel will be able to go to the temple! He is really excited about it all. Sister Etherington and I love him so much and are so grateful to Heavenly Father that He allows His very imperfect children to be a part of such miracles.

Well, that's the big news of the week. Other bits of news...
  • We set (very tentative) baptismal dates with another lady! She is incredible. Her grandfather is a VERY well-renowned Community of Christ historian and would be very upset if she were to join the LDS Church, but she is willing to pray about it and be open to an answer. It was scary inviting her to a date, but Heavenly Father gave us the courage and the words we needed!
  • We had another lesson with a lady we've been seeing and invited her to baptism as well! It was the worst baptismal invite I've extended haha. I was so nervous :P She didn't say yes by any stretch of the imagination, but she said she would read and pray, and we're going to spend Christmas evening with her :) We love her!
  • We had a couple of encounters with Restorationists (break-off of RLDS). They are hard because they try to get us entangled in historical debates. NOT going to happen! I do NOT have a testimony of Church history - I have a testimony of the restored gospel!
  • Church cancelled was a huge bummer, though I really couldn't complain after the huge miracle the night before. The Restoration and Community of Christ churches were cancelled too, or else we would have checked out one of those :)
  • We had lots of ice rain, which was fun because we could "ice skate" everywhere! We also had lots of snow this weekend, which is beautiful (though today is SO cold!). Saturday night, Sis. E and I were super giddy and were sliding around and playing in the snow, and I totally fell but it was so fun :) We have so much fun together.
  • Speaking of which, I can't believe how quickly this transfer is going! One of us will probably be transferred Jan 2 :( Sometimes I can't believe how blessed I've been here in lamoni with Sis. E. We are seriously like sisters now - we love each other so much and can just be ourselves, with all our weird quirks and everything, and we can tell when the other person is annoyed haha but that's why it's like we're sisters.
  • We had a super awkward experience caroling at an assisted living facility haha! But, we met a lady who was cleaning out her mom's apartment (she passed away last week) and was pretty upset, and we offered her our help and she gladly took it. We will be helping her later today. I think we were meant to be there!
  • Sis. E and I trained at district mtg on repentance and baptism. It was fun! I actually quite enjoy training, which always really scared me. And it was fun doing it with her.

Many members have given us treats and little cards and things for Christmas, which is so sweet. We are so blessed. It has been a Christmas to remember! I couldn't have asked for anything better. I am so excited to talk to you more! I am so grateful for Heavenly Father sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to this earth for us. There are no words. Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Love always,
Sister Whipple

Monday, December 16, 2013

"there are no words"

Disclaimer: When Hannah writes her letters, she always uses the people's names in her stories. I go through and take out the names for their privacy. I am sorry if it ever gets confusing or sounds awkward, but I am just doing my best :).

Happy reading!
--Jenessa, Hannah's Secretary
With a group of students at the devotional

Dear loved ones!

This week I had the most spiritual, amazing experience my entire mission thus far!!! Ahhh it was so wonderful. I'll tell you about that first because I've been dying to email since then ;) Just a warning, this will be a long one :) So, Friday was the last day that one of our member friends would be available to teach with us before leaving for Christmas break. Sis. Etherington and I really felt the need to have a lesson with her and our investigator before she left, so we worked hard to fit that in with all of our schedules. At about 8:30, we all met in the empty art building (which was nice because it was nice and quiet.) In planning for the lesson, we had a lesson plan we were going to do, but I kept feeling like maybe we should just focus on Joseph Smith and reading some First Vision-like experiences in the scriptures that I had been finding. Sis. Etherington asked me if I felt good about our first lesson plan, and I mentioned what I was feeling, and she was like "Oh that's totally fine! Let's do that!" So glad we did! Going in, we really felt the urgency to have a really good, spiritual lesson. We had had weekly planning that day, and as part of that we were supposed to plan for upcoming baptisms, so we did so with the hope that he would be ready, but we still weren't sure. And we really wanted to know by Sunday so we could start necessary arrangements.

Anyways, that's more than enough background (I'm a rambler, sorry!) ;) We talked with him about his Book of Mormon reading and praying (he finally read again!!!), then after talking a bit we read Paul's account of his vision to King Agrippa in the book of Acts. SO cool because it sounds SO much like Joseph Smith's account! Then we read in Joseph Smith History where Joseph Smith says that he felt like Paul and could not deny what he saw. Our investigator told us the COOLEST thing - he said that he had had a dream a few nights ago that Joseph Smith appeared to him and bore his testimony to him!! He said it strengthened his faith and that he was feeling a lot better about Joseph Smith (though not 100% yet). When reading the accounts, he admitted that he doesn't think that Joseph Smith was lying when he said what he saw. We also read Joseph Smith's testimony in D&C 76 where he says "that He lives! for we saw Him..." and he LOVED that. We talked a lot about his faith and how it's already grown so much - he said how he finds himself sharing what he's learned with others because it's changed his life and so he wants to share it! He even brought another roommate to our lesson a few days before and bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon to him. The Spirit was really strong throughout the whole lesson. Finally, I asked (we had planned this) if we could all kneel down together and have him pray and ask if Joseph Smith was a prophet, as he has done many times before, but this time we'd wait for a little instead of just jumping up and leaving. So that's what we did, with him offering the prayer in Spanish like usual(so grateful for the little high school Spanish I know!).

After he finished praying, we all stayed kneeling with our heads bowed. And we waited in silence for an ETERNITY. Like, sooo long haha! But the Spirit was so strong and I could really feel it testify to me of the reality of the First Vision, which was so cool. I just hoped so badly that he was feeling it too! After a little I heard him start to get up so I thought that he was done, but when I glanced up I saw that while he had sat up on the couch (kneeling's hard for him), his head was still bowed. And it was obvious that he was feeling the Spirit and really seeking an answer - you could start seeing the transformation on his face! We stayed there for a while longer and finally I asked, "How are you feeling?" He said, "calm." (1 Nephi 18:21-"...And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm." - a new favorite :) ). 

There was a little more silence and I looked around and everyone had tears in their eyes. I wish I could explain it all exactly but it was just amazing. He kept saying things like, "Wow, that was amazing" and "there are no words." We talked about how we were feeling a little, and then asked him, "do you believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith?" and he said "yes, I do." Our member that was there with us said "do you really?" and he responded something like, "yes, how can I deny it?!" Ahhh it was so amazing. She asked how he feels about getting baptized on the 21st and he said yes, he's so excited and he wished it were sooner!!! And he was like, "Thank you so much for coming. What an amazing way to end the week." Prayer works! The Church is so true. Joseph Smith was a prophet. The gospel changes lives, because it's true!

Sister Etherington and I have basically been on Cloud 9 since then. I get nervous sometimes that it's not going to work out, but Sis. E helps me with my doubts and fears :) I just get SO happy when things go well and then get SO crushed when they go bad again, that I get scared that things aren't going to work. And I haven't slept well since then haha. But he's still doing great! We met with him again the next day and he still was feeling really good. He told us about how when he got back to his house after our lesson the night before, he still had the really good feeling with him, but then his roommates were talking about bad things and he could sense that good feeling leaving him. So, he asked his roommates to stop talking about those things, and when they asked why, he said it didn't make him feel good! What a champ. He also came to church yesterday, even though that meant he had to drive 30 min to church, 30 min back, then like 70 miles back up to Des Moines to take his friends to the airport and back down again. He looked so good at church! He was wearing slacks instead of jeans (not that that's a huge deal, but still) and he was really happy - even other people noticed :) He's just getting spiritually stronger and stronger :)

K that was really long and detailed, sorry :) Another awesome thing about this week - Zone Conference! It was soooo great! We had some awesome trainings in the morning, and Sis. E. and I played a musical number! We had scrambled the day before to find something to play, and thank goodness we're friends with a certain lady because she let us come over and look through her things, and we found "O Holy Night" - conveniently the same version I played at home! Which was nice because we had time to run through it all of like 2 times before performing haha. That was really fun. It was also so fun seeing other missionaries from the MTC, especially Sister Browne! 

I LOVE being a missionary and I LOVE the Iowa Des Moines Mission and I LOVE Pres and Sis Jensen :) We have such a culture of love and hard work here, it's the best! After eating a delicious lunch, each district performed a song or skit we had put together at district meetings. We performed a dumb little skit of the story of Ammon, which we had put to different Christmas hymns - such as "Once in King Lamoni's City," "With wondering awe the servants saw the bandits' arms go flying," etc. :) The best part was the fake "synchronized swimming" to "Joy to the world, we know the truth." Haha. So dumb, but so fun. It was great watching all the other ones too. Then, we watched "Ephraim's Rescue"! So weird watching a movie haha! It was fun.

Yet another highlight - guess how many investigators we had at church? THREE! I've never had more than one! A mom and her two sons came! I was amazed, they were soo easy to get to church! It was incredible how much the ward stepped up yesterday to welcome all of them. Sis. Watkins reminded me of Mom, as she saw the mom and her boys come in, introduced herself, invited them to sit with her, and was just SO loving the whole meeting long, and SO helpful with her kids. After Sacrament Meeting, the primary president went right to her and helped shepherd her sons to primary and nursery (everyone raved about how awesome he was in primary!). The baby stayed in nursery the WHOLE time! It was amazing!

THANK YOU for the packages and letters!!! Mom, the boots work amazing, thank you! And the Christmas package was so sweet and unexpected! We finished decorating today :) I also loved the letters from Mom and Jenessa - and even got a Christmas letter from the Law's in your ward :) 

Other random fun bits of news:
  • we taught a, a 100-year-old member of the Community of Christ! She is darling.
  • We also taught a man in his 80's who used to be a Baptist preacher! Nicest old man ever. Accepted the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon before I could even finish extending the invite :)
  • Had dinner with a nice lady and taught her part of the Restoration!
  • Taught our 13-year-old investigator and also talked with her mom, who said that she is so glad that we found them and have been teaching her daughter. She said she has already seen a positive change in her daughter! We are really hoping to be able to teach her mom too soon!
  • Taught two ladies, and I was more bold and loving than usual, which I've been trying to work on! 
  • We watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional on Wednesday night with some students.  Unfortunately, all of our students are now gone or soon-to-be gone- except for the young man whom we had the experience with that I told you about at the start of this email :)
  • We got a ton of referrals from a family in our ward!
  • We stopped in at a former investigator's home in the countryside, and she let us right in and was so sweet! Also in her 80's. So many old people here haha!
Yesterday morning Sis. Etherington woke up pretty sick - some sort of mild flu, it seems like - but we were blessed to be able to go to church because that was SO important. But, after that we had to come home and take a sick day because she was not doing well. Thankfully, even though we had had three really awesome lessons scheduled, they all ended up falling through anyways, so we just did a lot out of the apartment - planning the baptism, making phone calls, doing studies, and watching "The District." We're grateful today's P-day so that hopefully she can rest up some more and we can get working again!

Hey thanks for making sure I learned how to type quickly, I've been so grateful for that skill ;)

Anyways, that was our week! We have been so blessed. Sometimes Lamoni seems like a dream haha - I get so scared that I'm going to get transferred! I can't believe we're already more than halfway through our second transfer together. But I know that Heavenly Father has things in control and I just need to do all I can and trust Him. My testimony has been so strengthened, and I am so grateful to be able to be a part of miracles here. "twasn't me, 'twas the Lord." I love you all and thank you so much for your wonderful examples! The Church is true!

Sister Whipple
A nasty bug I killed!

Monday, December 9, 2013

lessons in parenting

Happy Monday!

first real snow :)
It was another good week! It has definitely gotten cold here, and the cold is nothing like it is in Utah, haha! In Utah 17 degrees is we feel like we're going to die haha! I generally have a pretty good attitude about it though, I'm still trying to not complain like the stake president told me ;) 

Funny little story for the week...we were talking to this sweet old lady who's a Jehovah's Witness. I gave her a Christmas DVD pass-along card and invited her and her family (we've met some of them) to the ward Christmas party. She didn't seem super happy and declined my offer, though she wasn't mean or anything. Afterwards, Sister Etherington was like, "Don't Jehovah's Witnesses not celebrate Christmas?" Hahaha woops!

Never seen so much roadkill in my life!
We also had a lot of interactions with Community of Christ members this week! Last Monday we dropped by the home of an adorable couple in their 80's, and ended up talking with them about family history, the Book of Mormon, and prayer. It's so interesting...I honestly don't know if I've talked to anyone in the Community of Christ (or anything else, for that matter) who has prayed about the Book of Mormon and knows it's true. I asked the husband if he would be willing to pray to receive a witness of its truthfulness, and he said no! And they went on saying that asking that would be demanding something from God and they won't demand anything of Him. I was dying. But I felt uncharacteristically bold and just bore my testimony that Heavenly Father has pleaded with us to pray and ask if the Book is true, and that He has promised that if we do, He will answer us! They are super nice people though haha :)

We also found new investigators, a mom and her 8 year old son! She is a member of the Community of Christ as well, but I'm not sure how active she is. We taught her the first two lessons, and when Sister Etherington recited the First Vision, the mom started crying! The Spirit was super strong. Sis. E. cried a little too. Apparently I have a heart of stone haha because I was just fine ;) (oh that's fortuitous, the mom JUST walked into the library as I am writing this haha! gotta love small towns. I quickly scrolled up while we were chatting so she wouldn't glance down and see me writing about her.) ) It is SO hard dealing with the "I've already been baptized" thing with people from other churches. I am so grateful to know that we have a Prophet of God who holds all the keys of the Priesthood and that we will never be led astray!

On Tuesday night we had a delicious dinner with another older Community of Christ couple! The wife is an "evangelist" in the Church. They are sooo sweet, and gave us cute little Christmas ornaments as gifts! They actually used to live in Ogden so they have lots of Mormon friends. We had turkey broccoli crepes, homemade rolls, salad, and the most amazing cheesecake. (I feel like I always just fill you in on yummy food haha :) ) You know what though? I am grateful that women in our church do not have the Priesthood. It used to bother me. But something's not right about it, and it's hard to explain. I know that this Church is set up exactly that way that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want and need it to be set up!

One last thing with the Community of Christ...we went to a "Christmas tea" yesterday at Liberty Hall (Joseph Smith III's home), which was fun. There were lots of Christmas cookies/treats, music, and people to talk to! We knew a lot of the people already there, and met some new people too. I think we have a potential investigator couple we're going to work on that we met there :)
With our awesome member missionary!
On Wednesday we had our first "family home evening" (no, it wasn't a Monday) with the YSA in Lamoni! Unfortunately only two people came haha but it was fun anyways. It's so hard with finals going on right now! We met with some of the people and it was awesome. One of them told us how he loves meeting with us because he feels inspired and uplifted! And we're like, that's not us, that's the Spirit! So cool :)

As for the subject line, I feel like lots of times, the mission gives me tiny sneak-peaks into what it'll be like to be a mom haha. But seriously, I love these people so much and it makes me SO sad when they don't do those things that I know will make them happy! One of our investigators had his baptismal interview on Friday (super exciting) and Wednesday night I had this awesome dream that he got his answer about Joseph Smith in the interview, and it was super spiritual and got me really excited! When we met with him on Tuesday night, he hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon lately, so we re-committed him to read a little every day, because he's not going to get an answer until he does that. He promised he would. He didn't. It kills me! So, he passed all the baptismal interview questions except that one. I really feel like if he had read the Book of Mormon, he would have been able to say yes. I was really sad about that. Not that it's the end in any way, because I know that whenever he does decide to read the Book of Mormon more, he will get his answer...but it's just hard keeping that hope that he will. And he still didn't come to church on Sunday because he had a finals review session Sunday morning plus it was snowing (and everyone else thought the snow meant an excuse to not come to church too, silly people). We really love him and all our other investigators, and it's hard to see them use their agency unwisely. Like, another one of our investigators cancelled our appointment and didn't come to church and hardly answers our calls/texts because of finals. But it really helps me to remember that these are Heavenly Father's children and He loves them SOOO much more than I can even imagine. They really are in His hands, and I just have to do my very best in what I can do and leave the rest up to Him. Oh and one positive effect of his doubt is that it has strengthened my own testimony of the First Vision and Joseph Smith! I know that he really did see what he said he did. I know that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and through him, restored the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I am so grateful for that.

Friday was Zone Training Meeting, which was awesome, followed by exchanges with our sister training leaders, the Hermanas serving in Des Moines! That was fun, they are wonderful sisters. It was a bummer because we had SO many appointments set up and basically all of them fell through, but we did find some good potential investigators, so it worked out!

With our adorable 13-year old investigator. Isn't she cute?!
Saturday night was the ward Christmas party, which was really fun! Our 13-year-old investigator came! We finally talked to her family a little more and her dad said he wouldn't be opposed to teaching them sometime. She seemed to have a fun time. A family from church brought a non-member as well and a Graceland student and she hung out with us the whole time! It was sweet! It was cool because the party started with a program put on by the Primary in the chapel, which was nice because it's always good to be able to bring nonmembers into the chapel and tell them a little about it. Then we went to the cultural hall and ate way too much food :) We got home at about 9 and ran over to Graceland and met with a guy from like 9:10-9:25 because we really wanted to meet with him before church. We were so exhausted haha! I hadn't been getting enough sleep for a few nights until last night (and I've been having weird dreams) so I've been tired and it felt really good to sleep so well last night.

Yesterday was kind of a hard day at church because lots of people had said they'd come but like I said, no one did. I need to learn to not get so upset about those things, this won't be the last time :) We were also just tired and hungry though (we were fasting for/with one of our investigators). We were asked during 2nd hour to teach the sunbeams in 3rd hour, which was fine but hard haha! I thought it'd be easy but we ran out of material and their attention span way to fast :) It was a good experience though! On the way home, when we were still in Osceola, we saw the elders on the corner, and realized they were with a family from church, who had slid on the ice and gotten into a little accident! We felt so bad. Thankfully no one was hurt, but they already are under so much financial and other stress that it was hard to see them have to go through this too! We pulled over and gave the wife a hug, who was already having a hard day. Poor lady. It was a hard day for all of us, but we all pulled through - we saw her at Casey's today and she seemed happy :) It's weird to think sometimes that if I hadn't come out on my mission, I would never have known these wonderful families and people!

Sorry my letter is so long and rambling! One last funny story. Earlier this week, one of the assistants to the president called, which is fairly uncommon. He left a message telling us to call back. When we called back, Elder Saunders (the AP) asked for Sis. Etherington. Here is a summary of the conversation (and remember that Sis. E. is very dramatic, it's so funny!):
Elder Saunders: May I speak with Sis. Etherington? 
Sis. E: this is she...[she was so nervous!]
Elder Saunders: Are you sitting down? 
Sis. E: yes... 
Elder: What would you say if I told you the Lord needed you elsewhere and you were being emergency transferred? 
Sis. E: [immediately bursts into tears] 
Elder: hello? hello? this is awkward... 
[Sis. E. hands to phone to me because she can't speak] 
Me: What did you say Elder Saunders? 
Elder: No one's being emergency transferred! I was just kidding! I'm so sorry! I was just wondering if you could play a musical number at zone conference! 
Me: Are you serious?! My companion is literally weeping over here!

hahaha it was sooo funny. What a punk! He felt soooo bad. Serves him right :) Anyways, no one's being emergency transferred, neither of us have fallen on the ice yet, we're still loving little Lamoni, and all is well. Thanks for all your love! I love you all!!!!

Sister Whipple

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

look at those cows. they're so stupid.

Happy Monday!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was great. But, we are excited for people to be back from break - we certainly missed our students while they were all gone! Holidays are wonderful but it's hard sometimes because people are SO BUSY and don't want to talk to us until after the holidays. 

Anyways, on Thanksgiving Day we had district meeting, then drove down to the countryside of Davis City, where the Acland family lives, and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with them! It was awesome, I loved it. They have three girls, ages 15-about 22, and they were all there plus the 22-year old's husband. It was our first time being with all of them and I loved seeing their family dynamics and being there with them all. They are all just so sweet and fun with each other. It was great. The youngest daughter cooked almost all the food, and it was great! We had turkey, potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, green bean casserole (is this a Midwest thing? Because we had green bean casserole at our Wednesday night Thanksgiving dinner too, and we were talking to another family that said they don't remember ever having a big holiday without green bean casserole! I think maybe I'll start this tradition too ;) ), homemade rolls, and delicious apple and pumpkin pies. In between dinner and pies, I played "Clue" with Br. Acland and the daughters which was really fun. Sis. Etherington spent time with Sis. Acland while we were playing, which was good for Sis. Acland. We also got to share a message on gratitude, which was nice especially since the son-in-law isn't a member but is super sweet! After the Acland's, we went back to Lamoni and visited with the a couple other families from our ward which was so nice. I love our ward! I just regret not getting any Thanksgiving day pictures! 

Oh before I forget! Thanks SO much KJ for your cute Thanksgiving card! And thank you Mom for the warm clothes!!! I love my little red mittens :) And the Uniclo top and tights are so warm and comfortable! Of course, once I got the warm clothes it's been warmer again...haha but TRUST me, I'll use them for sure! I already have :) And I love those running pants Jenessa gave me so much, that I've definitely worn them under some longer skirts on colder days ;)

Wednesday was pretty funny. We were supposed to have a Thanksgiving dinner that night with the Bishop family - they are the cutest! - and we were SOO excited, but Sis. Bishop called that morning and said that her son was sick, so she had to cancel. We were so disappointed! And we had to go to Leon that day (where the Bishop's lived), so if we don't have a dinner appointment then we just pack sandwiches for dinner and eat in the car. We called the Steele's (the super cute old couple who fed us the most delicious dinner a few weeks ago) and asked if we could come by sometime and drop off their tupperware and share a thanksgiving message with them, which they said we could. We were sorta kinda hoping they'd invite us for dinner, but it wasn't a big deal at all when they didn't...but then they called us a few hours later and asked us if we'd join them at "supper." Score! Haha we were really excited that it worked out. They fed us a really yummy Thanksgiving dinner :) AND they gave us a bag of some random cans and boxes of food, apples, etc.! Which was a blessing because we were definitely running low on food AND on money haha. Thank you Steele's!

After the Steele's, we went to another family's to teach a lesson. That went well again and was fun. They are so great. The man there talked about how he used to want a lot of things in life, but now he doesn't really want anything because he has everything he's ever wanted, and if he wants something, he just goes and gets it (they are NOT wealthy AT ALL, but are just super grateful for what they do have). And he's grateful for the unseen blessings too - like when they were having car problems and had to pull off onto the side of the road, because you never know if that didn't save you from an accident or something. They are such a great examples to me - along with so many other people here!

We also got Thanksgiving cards from two ladies. One from the lady who lives in our complex and works at the Leon library and LOVES us. It is so funny. She is such a crazy lady, and basically said no to letting us teach her anything, but for some reason she really likes us and looks out for us. The other lady sent us a thank-you for speaking at the Community of Christ Thanksgiving service - she's another one who just really seems to like us, which is fun :)
Outside the Leon library!

On the 30th, we had some extra time and extra miles on our car, so we took that opportunity to contact some people living out in the country around Davis City. Our best contact was a referral. They live off the highway in like the middle of nowhere, so we were a little nervous because it was getting dark, but they were so nice! They are an older couple and let us in and talked for a while. We had so many chances to bear our testimonies on so many little things that came up - families, God's love, temples, prophets, the Book of Mormon, etc.! The lady showed us a Book of Mormon that their good friends (who have since passed away) gave her 20 years ago, with the sweetest testimony written inside! That was cool. She said we can come back and read with her sometime :) It's cool to think that their friends are probably helping out on the other side as well, because it sounds like they really loved them! While out in the country, I was really grateful that we were safe because there were lots of deer and we really had to be careful because if we weren't, we could have easily hit one (or more). We also enjoyed driving by so many cows and laughing about how dumb they always look. At one point I slid a little on the gravel (lesson learned, don't drive as fast on the gravel/rocky/dirt roads as you would on paved ones! duh) and we laughed about how the cows are probably looking at us and saying "Look at those girls. They're so stupid." It was funny. trust me.

Yesterday (Sunday) was a little hard for me because I kept saying/doing dumb things and I realized some mistakes I'd made and I was just really frustrated with myself. But it helped knowing I'd be emailing you all today :) And it made me grateful, again, for the Atonement and for repentance and forgiveness. We need it so much!

Oh cool thing about yesterday though! A girl we have been working with came to church with her three roommates/friends! Seriously, that was really cool that they all came. AND, one of the girls bore her testimony in Sacrament Meeting!!!! It was soooo cool!!!! She bore her testimony on things we've been talking about too, mostly the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and she said she was grateful for "Sister Whipple and Sister E" for always checking up on her and helping her and answering her roommates' millions of questions :) She even made comments in gospel principles [sunday school] and in Relief Society, which is huge! So happy :)

I love our trips to see families in Missouri!
That reminds me, one last thing: On Saturday another family from church had us over along with 5 of the college kids we are teaching for lunch! It was SO nice, and was basically like another Thanksgiving. It was so wonderful to be in their home, where the Spirit is already so strong. Sis. Etherington and I shared a message on "daily bread" and showed the 1st and 2nd Mormon Message of that "daily bread" series (if you haven't watched it, you should check it out because it's super good!). That was really nice :)

OK I think that's it :) It was a good week and we will have an even better one this next week! I love bearing my testimony to people and watching the Spirit work in them. It's one of the sweetest experiences! Thank you Mom and Dad for bringing me up in the gospel and in a home where there was so much love. I love you all so much!

Sister Whipple