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

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