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 fine...here 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!!!!

Love,
Sister Whipple



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