Monday, December 29, 2014

foofoo!

Dearest familia (and friends)!

It was soooo great talking to you on Skype on Christmas! holy cow, I have the best family in the whole world. Thanks so much for being so fun and chill and awesome!

So I already told you over Skype about the beginning of my week, but seeing how I still haven't caught up in my journal for a while (surprise surprise), here is a quick run-down:

Monday we printed off our Christmas cards during p-day. Did you get them?! We also taught a cute little 5 year old the plan of salvation, because his parents are finalizing the adoption of his little sister (she's the little Indian baby who passed away months ago, and in Iowa, you can still finalize after they've passed away!) and are planning on going to the temple in the near future to have her sealed to them. So sweet.

I snatched this picture of watching "Finding Faith" on Christmas Eve before they turned off the lights :)
Tuesday was Joseph Smith's birthday. haha. We also were on exchanges with the hermanas (I was with Hermana Lundell in our area) and it was such a good day! We had an awesome lesson with our incredible new investigator Amber. The P family has been fellowshipping her, which was seriously so cool because Br. P's whole family was here in town visiting for Christmas, and they just took her right in! They drove her to church and had her over for FHE, and then when we asked Sis. P to go with us to a lesson on Tuesday, she said that she couldn't make it but that her mother-in-law would LOVE to go...and she was so awesome! There was so much love :) The girl we had the lesson with wants to be baptized on the 10th! Ahh! I sure hope that happens, but even if it doesn't happen before I leave, it'll be OK because she's so ready and prepared. Anyways, we also met with another lady on Tuesday and reset a date with her for the 10th as well...I don't think as of now she'll make it though. She's SO ready but she says we're pushing her and she wants to take her time.  I just need to be patient and love and help her, because she is still wonderful! Later we went to Sis. R's, which is where I passed out like I told you about hahaha.



Wednesday morning we had district meeting and did a fun white elephant gift exchange aka get rid of some junk that's collected in the apartments haha. Our elders are great, I love them. Then we had Christmas Eve lunch at the Cluff's, which was fun and really sweet of them, even though neither of us felt very good so that was a little hard haha. Then we taught a good lesson with a lady on the Restoration! We went to dinner at the Andelin's house, which was delicious (the dinner, not the house), and then acted out the Nativity with them! I loved it soooo much. And I got to play on their beautiful baby grand while we sang Christmas carols :) Then we went to a lady's and watched "Finding Faith in Christ" with her and her family, and it was the sweetest thing to do on a Christmas Eve night - helped me to remember why we even celebrate Christmas and why Christ came to earth for us! Then we dropped by a lady's house and wished her and her kids a Merry Christmas :)


 district meeting white elephant exchange

Thursday we got to stay in bed until 8am! We opened our gifts together and ate breakfast. Thanks so much for the sweet gifts! You guys are so sweet. I felt your love so much and loved that :) We visited a couple of ladies during the morning. They were both pretty lonely so I was happy we could see them. Then we had lunch at a cute family's house, then went to the mission home and had the best time with President and Sister Jensen, their family, the assistants, and other missionaries who came through. I am so blessed to be in Des Moines! Afterwards, we went to a lady's and had the most fun visit with her, where she talked about how excited she was to get baptized and how she's going to come visit us in Utah and Arizona someday haha :) And then she said the longest prayer of my life and her friend was soooo into it. I love her. It was fun talking to them about their language and culture and country :) Then I Skyped you and it was the best! Thanks!

On Friday we taught Amber; we went on a long walk while talking and finally ducked into a Dairy Queen because we got really cold haha. She is so sweet. 

Saturday we were a mess all day because it was the day of the baptism and we were so stressed haha! We saw a lady in the morning and planned her baptism because that's what she wanted to do! Then we scrambled making the baptismal programs (ward mission leader is out of town) and doing other last-minute things. We stopped by the lady who was getting baptized that day, and it was crazy because she told us that her kids almost didn't get back from their dad's, and she had been so stressed because she couldn't get a hold of him! But then she got a call from him saying that his phone had been off, and that her cute daughter had woken him up that morning and told him that they needed to get home that morning because she was getting baptized :) wooh! The baptism was beautiful. I still can't believe it still happened - 17 days after we met them! There was a good turnout for how many people were out of town. And even though the person who was supposed to baptize them fell through at the last minute, Br. B came to the rescue and did a wonderful job baptizing them both. The Spirit was so strong. I was sitting in between the two girls during the first part of the service, and they belted out the hymns ("I Believe in Christ" and then "When I Am Baptized") as if they had been singing those their whole life. The mom had tears running down her cheeks during the opening hymn, as she watched her daughter get baptized, and then as she entered the font. It was so sweet to be able to wrap a towel around each of them and give them a big hug as they came out. It was pretty much perfect :)

Sunday morning, the mom who was baptized on Saturday calls us and hurriedly tells us that she made African food for the ward and that we need to come pick it up and put it in our car to take to church so that she can get ready and drive her family there! Haha we were kind of confused but we went anyways and she proceeded to put big pots of rice, foofoo, soup, and stew into our car! We called the RS president on the way to church and told her what was going on, and she was a champ haha. We put it in the kitchen, and Sis A (Relief Society President) announced it during relief society. 

I will never get over the wigs of these sweet Africans. Look at her amazing spread!

Then after church, we opened up the divider between the RS room and the kitchen and pulled out the food, and it was a pretty amazing little feast she had provided for everyone! I was so worried that no one was going to eat it or would say things about it being disgusting, but everyone was so nice and a lot of people enjoyed it! It was so awesome haha. Sister Matley and I were true Africans and ate it with our hands :) The foofoo (don't know if I'm spelling that right at all) was some sort of plantain mixed with a kind of root that I forget what it's called, and you'd take some of that and dip it in the fish/shrimp soup and eat it...and the rice you'd take and eat with the fish/shrimp/chicken stew. I was so scared to eat it but it actually wasn't bad at all, and I really liked the foofoo! :) bucket list item, check :) Also, she and her family were early to church. Just have to throw that out there because that never happens with Africans haha (sorry!). Their confirmations were wonderful. They are such awesome members and I hope that they will stay strong and help the other Africans to be strong as well.


We had dinner with the Anderson's yesterday (RS pres and ward clerk). They are leaving this week for a sailing voyage and won't be back until late April...so, we'll see how things go with them gone, haha!

Wow that was a really long email haha sorry. But I love you all so much! I'm so glad that you were able to have a good time together this Christmas. That is such a blessing :) I was just thinking this morning about how when I first came out, I'd often while finding say to people something like, "we teach people how to come closer to Christ," but I didn't really know exactly what that meant, because I felt like we taught people about Joseph Smith and the Restoration more than anything. But I realized that while I definitely do not have a perfect understanding still of the gospel (obviously), we really do help people to come closer to Christ because we help them to strengthen their faith in Christ, to repent, and to be baptized by priesthood authority so that they can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and enter to gate to eternal life. It is such a blessing! So now when I tell people that we teach about Christ and how to strengthen our relationship with Him, I get excited because I know that it really is true :)




Thank you for all you do! I love you!!
Sister Whipple

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sister Waffle

stake Christmas concert
Hello there!

Well as you (well, at least you of the family) know, this week I decided to go back to San Jose after the mish and do the internship with Sister Gubler's company. And for any non-family members reading this, that was a last-minute change of plans and I should be back in Utah come spring term! It was super hard to decide. Maybe I made the wrong decision, maybe I made the right decision, but it's too late to change now!...and even though I am sad I won't be back in Utah, I am super excited for this opportunity in San Jose! I think it will be really great. Thanks for supporting me either way.

This week was good! The whole transfer honestly has been so crazy. It's definitely been one of the busiest, most stressful times of my mission, but it is good - Heavenly Father's not letting me off easy, and I am grateful for that.

MLC sisters - Christmas tree & gifts :)
So, Tuesday was MLC in Iowa City, which was fun! And that meant that most of our Thursday and Friday were spent at three different zone training meetings. It was the hardest ZTM set I've had to plan for, because the zone leaders each asked us to train on slightly different things. It was fun :) Depending on the zone, we presented Sister Jensen's training on some scriptures about missionary work and the "He is the Gift" initiative, as well as President's training on Jesus Christ and also some of the attributes of Satan and how they are opposing. It was interesting, especially since at MLC the report and items of discussion took SO long, so the trainings we received were super short and summarized! But the Spirit was strong and Heavenly Father helped us for sure :)  

Christmas decorations 
Two girls we are working with are still doing great and are excited for their baptism on Saturday!! One of them totally stood up in church when they announced her baptism haha...I LOVE when unconventional things happen at church. They were both interviewed by our district leader on Saturday, and then we faced the daunting task of filling out the baptismal record when she doesn't know how to spell where she came from or her children's names or know her parents' birth dates or anything like that...haha, gotta love it :) We are so excited. Oh also, they call me "Sister Waffle," which is super cute and I kind of love it :)

We also found a sweet new investigator on Friday! We are super blessed in Des Moines and seem to receive more media referrals than other parts of the mission (at least, than my other areas!). Amy (name has been changed) was one of those, and her friend in another part of Des Moines (not in our ward) has been talking to her about the church and apparently told her that when she was ready, that she'd "stick the missionaries" on her. Well, after about a year of studying, Amy said that she was ready! So we've only taught her once but she came to church on Sunday and seemed to really like it :) We will set a baptismal date with her this week!

closest thing I can get to holding a baby!
On Saturday, both two ladies came to a baptism that the assistants were having, so that was really good. We had four investigators at church yesterday. With everyone leaving for Christmas, it was crazy trying to find them all rides...and then Sister Anderson, our RS president, texted us at about 10:30 and said that her car battery died! And she was the one taking one of the investigator's family of four! We were at the church already, and sweet Br. Vela, who was also there, jumped into his car and went and picked them up. We were so, so grateful. With their baptism on Saturday, it was so crucial for them to be there! 

I'm so excited to talk to you guys on Christmas! 

I love you all so much! Thanks for everything you do. I am so grateful to be a missionary and I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and everything that comes along with having the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on earth today! Talk to you soon. :)

Love,
Sister Whipple

Monday, December 15, 2014

more miracles

Well hello!

I guess I better get down to business and crank out this letter. Sorry that I spent so much time on the other stuff (figuring out school, etc.) that I am running out of time for this!

Well the week before last, our numbers were pretty low with transfers and everything...and this week went up again! It was exciting. We found a lot of investigators and also had the hugest miracle! It started on Wednesday, when we were on exchanges with the Winterset sisters. I was with Sister Robinson, who is just the greatest! We went to go contact a media referral. Turns out that she is the sister of a lady we know, who has been in the hospital from her stroke...and we had just visited her that day that we went and saw this new lady! She told us that she was taught in Arizona and had a baptismal date but had to move last-minute (Africans do that so much) and came here. She has three kids, the oldest being 9 years old - so she was like, "my daughter will baptize with me too!" On that first visit, she explained to us why we need prophets and how she knows that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. The next day, Sister Matley and I went over and reviewed the baptismal interview questions and invited her to be baptized on Dec. 27!  We called the Mission President to see if he could give her an interview but it took a while to get a hold of him because he was in Nauvoo and the service is terrible there, so finally we talked to him on like Friday and found out that he will only be in Des Moines for a couple days. So he called us Sunday morning and was like, "will she be at church? Can I come interview her at 12:45 today?" We couldn't say no, so during gospel principles Sis Matley took her out, taught her the law of chastity and tithing and Sabbath day (she already knew them all, thankfully), and she was interviewed and passed! So in less than a week, we found a new investigator who already passed her baptismal interview :) It's been crazy, but so amazing!

Tuesday was the Christmas zone conference :) It was amazing - those are the best ever! I was asked the Saturday before to accompany a musical number...naturally :) Sister Barney (serving in Ames) was asked to sing, but we didn't have anything specific in mind and only had a couple days...thankfully I had "O Holy Night" from playing that last year with Sis Etherington, so she sang that and it was beautiful :) We also watched "Ephraim's Rescue" again and I cried haha - since getting closer to the end, my tears run more freely...it's weird ;) We also did skits, and I helped with two of them...my district did a really fun one of Ammon and Aaron. Two of our elders changed the words to the song "Tribute" (don't know it) and made it fit perfectly with the story, so it was a lot of fun. I also helped with my previous district...they did an epic spin-off of Star Wars (I don't even like the word epic but it's really the only word that fit it haha!) in which Anakin was Nephi, etc., and I played bits and pieces of the Star Wars music that one of the elders obtained and gave me. It was really fun.

I've been stressed about a lady we've been teaching, but on a lighter note, have you all seen the "He is the Gift" video? I'm sure it's all over social media haha. We have a bunch of cards promoting it that we've been handing out, and it's awesome! They are the easiest pass-along cards to hand out. We walked around Drake University and handed a bunch out, which was a lot of fun. It's such a non-threatening thing that I'm super grateful for!



I think that's about all I have time for. Except one funny lesson we had Saturday night when we taught three Muslims from Iraq and they were all yelling over each other in Arabic and were spraying Febreze because it smelled like fish and were just soooo funny. Sister Matley and I struggled to not lose it and crack up during the lesson! :)

I love you all so much. I know that Heavenly Father is blessing us a ton and I am so grateful to Him! Sometimes I just can't get over all the miracles that happen all the time. The gospel is true! I'm so grateful to be sharing the message of Christ during Christmas! I love you!!

Love,
Sister Whipple

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

fudgesicles

Hello loved ones!

Well, it's crazy to think that it's come down to this, but I went to my last transfer meeting (not counting when I go home) and got my last companion! She is Sister Devyn Matley, she's from Holiday, UT, and she is a doll. She reminds me so much of Sister Etherington, it is out of control haha! Good thing I love Sis Etherington, so it's all good :)
 Sisters Egbert, Matley (that's my new companion! haha), Browne, me, Pratt, Rogers, and Barker :) I look super funny haha.

The last few days with Sister Barker were great. I miss her already! We FINALLY got to see a lady we've been working with, and she is still wonderful and wants to get baptized! Things got complicated with her son's dad coming back into the picture, but she came to church and BORE HER TESTIMONY. It was so cool. She is the sweetest person ever! Also she's like the best fellowshipped person - the ward loves her. Sister M, a lady in the ward, has totally taken her under her wing, it is incredible. She even took her to Thanksgiving dinner with her last week! I'm so grateful.

On Monday, the Craypo's took us to Indian food for dinner. It was delicious.

Thursday was transfers. There were 21 missionaries returning home, which is the largest group they've ever had coming from here. We returned home just in time to drop off Sis. Matley's things and go straight to the church for the Relief Society Christmas activity! It was a really nice event, and was fun for Sis. Matley to go on her first evening in Des Moines.

We worked with our investigator, J,a lot this week. She finally opened up about some struggles she's been having. She's so sweet but she's just feeling really confused about everything. Sister Call (bless her heart) drove her to watch the Christmas devotional with us at the stake center, which was awesome. It was crazy though because J had a panic attack during the broadcast, and I've never really seen anything like that before. I just put my arm around her and held her hand and tried to calm her down until she was OK again. I am learning a lot from her, that's for sure! She probably won't be getting baptized on the 20th, but hopefully will get there soon.

Church yesterday was perfect for me - the Spirit was so strong. I was really grateful for the opportunity to fast too - it didn't even seem hard, which is a big deal for me haha! I had been struggling with feeling like I'm not fulfilling my purpose or doing well enough or setting a good enough example, and just having faith and not getting discouraged. And everything at church just seemed directed towards me and my needs (funny how that happens). I also asked Elder Curless, one of the missionaries in the ward, to give me a blessing, and it was wonderful. I really am happy and I'm doing fine, I just felt like I needed an extra boost to help me in my last transfer. I am excited to give it everything I've got, because I have nothing I need to hold back! I am in the final sprint now, and I am going to do my very best and have faith and believe in miracles :)


Yesterday after the devotional, we decided to swing by the mission home to say hi because it is literally just around the corner. We debated a little whether we should or not, but we decided to just go for it. It was awesome haha! President Jensen came to the door holding a fudgesicle and was like, "come on in and have a fudgesicle with me!" In my letter from President today, it said, "It was great to see you tonight and to share a fudgesicle in the cold Iowa winter." haha I love him and Sister Jensen so much!

I'm so grateful for the Atonement and I know that it's real! I'm grateful for this Christmas season. It's a wonderful time to be representing Jesus Christ. I love you all so much :)

Love,
Sister Whipple

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

live in thanksgiving daily

Hello!

I've aged a lot on my mission...haha we took this at the Iowa Historical Museum last Monday! :)
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was good. And we have been living in Thanksgiving "daily" by eating leftovers basically every single day since Thursday haha :)

There was a lot that happened this week, where do I start...

We found two new investigators! The first is really sweet and when we invited her to be baptized, she said she's already been baptized...so we started explaining to her how we invite people who've already been baptized to be baptized again, only by priesthood authority, and she jumped all over that! What a relief, because that's always hard haha. :) The other new investigator is Chin and is a refugee from Burma. He is really sweet and has a hard time with the language, but he's really sincere and is really trying to understand and to find an answer about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and everything. And, he came to Sacrament Meeting yesterday! :) The other lady didn't come because her two kids were sick, but she wants to so hopefully she will soon :)

Sister Barker went on the departing temple trip on Tuesday, so I had with me Sister Chirinos from Walnut Hills and Sister Howard from Winterset, because both of their companions were also on the trip. We had a good day, which I was super grateful for. We got to see a lot of people and have a lot of good lessons, including one with our Sudanese grandmother, in which we set a baptismal date for February 21 and she asked us if she can come to church! She was out of town this past weekend, but hopefully she'll be at church this coming up Sunday :)

"You ought to give Iowa a try"
On Wednesday evening we had dinner with Sister Strayer (a member who feeds us about once a month), which was awesome because a recent convert in the West Des Moines Ward, was also there with his two daughters (one is 8, the other about 14). It was fun because their family has been going through a lot, and the two girls were excited to meet "girl" missionaries and really seemed to enjoy spending time with us. There are so many moments when I am so grateful to be a missionary! We put on these nametags and suddenly we become superheroes in some people's eyes, and it's not us at all - it's just Heavenly Father giving us this amazing blessing of being able to serve His children in whatever small way that we can :)

Thanksgiving was fun, and interesting haha. We had district meeting in the morning, which was really fun. Then we had plans to see all these different people who are single or who we thought wouldn't really have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with...but everyone was busy and no one was really available to visit, so it kind of made us laugh! But finally we went over to the Burgess family's home, where we celebrated their cute daughter's birthday and enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner and games with them. I feel like the Burgess kids are my younger siblings, and it's fun because the oldest is on a mission. They remind me of you guys :) It was a fun dinner too because they are vegetarian, so it was my first and probably my last vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner! It was good though - we had amazing rolls, carrot soup, potatoes, green bean casserole, pie, and the works. Basically everything minus the turkey (which was fine because a bunch of other members have been feeding us turkey and ham!) :)


On Friday night we had a cool little tender mercy too - we were at Oakridge (the "little Africa" apartment complex we're always at), and we decided to go visit a family there we've only visited once before (kids are active, but mom isn't because she's had a ton of medical problems). We'd never actually met the mom, Christine, but she opened the door and welcomed us right in. They are from South Sudan and she hardly speaks any English, but there was another Sudanese lady there who has been in the states since she was 8 so she has perfect English, so she translated and we had a great conversation. We asked her if she goes to a church, and it turns out that she has really been searching for one and trying to figure out what she really believes. Then they both laughed and the friend admitted that she had told her that she should talk to the missionaries, but she was hesitant not knowing who we were; when we knocked on the door and came in, the mom had said to her friend in their language, "that's them!" Perfect timing :) Her friend wants to come to church before she meets with us, but she said she'll come this Sunday and she gave us her number and is totally down for learning about the Church :) It was so sweet!

Saturday was awesome too. The night before, we had the idea to text a less-active member whom we haven't contacted for months. It turned out to be perfect because they were totally needing our help, and we were able to help them! We went over Saturday morning and helped them move 48 77-pound sheets of drywall from the garage to the basement - meaning up some steps, around two corners, and down a flight of stairs that included a wicked turn that we could barely fit through. Heavenly Father gave us strength for sure, because that was the hardest physical labor I've done in...a very long time, haha! I was so grateful that we were able to do it though, because we had really good interactions with her and her husband, as well as with a recent convert from Ames who was also there helping.

After doing service, we quickly got changed, went with a member to pick up a lady, and took her to a baptism! Get this...the baptism was for a 95-year-old man! He was so awesome. And the lady came! Yay! She has been reading her braille Book of Mormon more and also came to church yesterday and said she really enjoyed it! I love teaching her - she is opening up to us more and we have a good relationship with her :) She is excited for her baptism on Dec. 20! It is coming up quick and we're praying that she's ready and sticks to it :)


This morning we finally saw our sweet friend again, who was supposed to get baptized last Saturday. It was SO good to see her, as we haven't been able to catch her for about 2 weeks and it's been really discouraging. She's going through some hard things, but she's still really committed to being baptized! She is such an incredible young woman, and she's also opened my eyes, yet again, to how blessed I really am to have been brought up in my family. I am so blessed to have been raised with good standards and with good examples to look up to! Thank you so much!

Also, I bet you didn't know that I starred in "It's a Wonderful Life"!
I can't believe we're to another transfer week already! Sister Barker is going home, and I will get my last companion on Thursday. I am so grateful for my mission. It has brought me so much closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for them and for their everlasting mercy and love towards me and all of Heavenly Father's children. The gospel is so true!

Love you all a ton,
Sister Whipple

Monday, November 24, 2014

sleepovers for life

Hello!

I finally met Sister Elg, the mother of Evan Elg (we were in the same Provo ward) and now the mother-in-law of Lauren Meese :) it was seriously a mission-long bucket list item haha
This week was pretty good, lots of ups and downs and lots of sleepovers haha :) I am so sad that Buster died! I'm glad that I said good bye to him before I left, but I was starting to get my hopes up that he'd still be there when I come home. Mostly I'm sad for Victor :( But seriously, he was such a good dog and I am amazed by how long he lasted!

On Monday, we found a new investigator when we visited a less-active couple! It was sweet. They have super strong testimonies, they have just had financial struggles and haven't been able to go to church because of work. There's another young woman who lives with them, and as we invited her to be baptized, they were SO supportive and excited for her. They were like, "you could come to the temple with us! It's the most beautiful place." It was a testimony to me that I don't have to be ashamed or embarrassed about sharing the gospel with my friends, because it is wonderful and exciting!

On Wednesday we had exchanges with the hermanas, which went really well. I stayed in our area with Hermana Kimzey, and Sister Barker went with Hermana Lundell in their area. We served at the YMCA, taught a couple part-member families, and helped our friends from Burma/Thailand with filling out some paperwork because the English was hard for them. Then we taught them about the Book of Mormon and they were reading it as we left :) We also saw our two African families and had a really good experience with a lady and her family. We just read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon with them, and it was a little miracle because the lady's boyfriend read with us, as well as her sister/cousin/niece! And they asked good questions and really felt the Spirit :) We also had a good discussion with them about getting married, but that's still in limbo. The hermanas slept over that night.

On Thursday after district meeting, we went to Winterset and had exchanges there! I went with Sister Howard for the evening, and we a couple of good lessons. We slept over there, and the next day I spent with Sister Stapley. We found two potentials, and on Sunday we got a text telling us that one of those potentials became a new investigator! :) It was a good and fun exchange overall, and Heavenly Father really helped me because I was exhausted but He gave me strength :)


Saturday morning was really rough...we hadn't heard from one of the girls we've been teaching, who last Sunday couldn't stop talking about how excited she was to get baptized. We went by her house, and we saw a new car in the driveway. She was half-asleep when we talked to her, so we couldn't talk much, but she said she was coming to church the next day. As we were leaving, I suddenly just decided to ask one of her nephews there who's car was in the driveway, and he said it was her boyfriend and that he was back :( noooo! I can't tell you how sad this made me. She has been super, super stressed - lost her job, her baby's dad kept calling her, etc. - and we were really trying to help her. But it looks like he's back, so she can't get baptized this week after all and we haven't been able to talk to her since (she didn't come to church). I felt like my heart was broken! It has been hard because she is the second investigator in the last three weeks to drop within one week of baptism. It has been hard to not get discouraged. But I know that this is a test of my faith and endurance and that it is another learning and growing process. Sister Barker and I fasted yesterday and know that we have to just keep doing our best and trusting in Heavenly Father.

We had stake conference this weekend, which was awesome! The Lamoni sisters slept over Saturday night. I got to see so many people from the Osceola Ward who I love! Two of the members I worked with when I was their both received their patriarchal blessings after stake conference and one received the Melchizedek priesthood. :) So those were tender mercies to lift my spirits! :) Conference was wonderful overall. I am so grateful for this Church and that we are led by the Priesthood of God.

As for school, I am almost for sure starting in January. Thank you SO much for being supportive - I feel bad that I won't be able to spend time with you guys after being gone for so long, but I feel that this is the best thing for now. It is going to be crazy haha but I think it will work! I registered for some classes on Saturday, and I am going to email my professors and communicate with them. I don't think there's anything that you can do at the moment, but I will keep you posted. One thing to figure out is how in the world I'm going to get home on Friday and be in classes on Monday haha. What time does church start? I'm thinking I'll spend time with the family on Friday, pack on Saturday, give my talk on Sunday and leave right after church to drive to school...it will be crazy. I also don't know what to do about a car...I don't want to take the car from KJ because she uses it so much, but I'll need some way to transport to BYU...either I can just take the car and all my things myself, or Mom can drive me there in the van and I can just buy a bike and use that to get around Provo, or something. Let me know what you think - and of course that doesn't have to be solved in the next week :)


It is crazy how time flies here. We are down to Sister Barker's last full week, and then I will be getting yet another new companion! I am so grateful for my time as a missionary. It hasn't been easy lately, but I know that I am having experiences that I need to learn and grow, and I am learning to rely on the Atonement more. I just hope that I can fulfill all that I came here to do before my time is up! The Church is true and living the gospel of Jesus Christ is a happy way to live :) I love you all so much! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you all :)

Love,
Sister Whipple

Monday, November 17, 2014

a message from Elder Cardon :)

Well hello again!

Zombies on P-Day

Man, how the weeks fly by! I have a lot to tell you about this week :)

I'm going to start with what's probably the biggest news. Elder Craig A. Cardon came for a mission tour/zone conference! And...I got to have a one-on-one interview with him! It was so incredible. Elder Weiss (one of the Area Presidents) called Thursday night (the night before the conference) and said that Elder Cardon wanted to interview a couple of missionaries before the conference began, and that I was picked to meet with him! I don't know why I was, but it was sweet. First, we had a Mission Leadership Council meeting with him at 8am, so it was all the zone and district leaders and the sister training leaders from the Ames and Des Moines stakes. We started spiritual prep at 7:30, and (naturally) I was playing prelude. 8:00 came around and no one stood up to start the meeting, so I kept playing, and on and on...until finally at about 8:25, two zone leaders walked in (I hadn't realized that they had been on the phone with them and were waiting for them - I guess they had had trouble getting there) and the meeting began. We sang the opening hymn, had a prayer, etc., and when Elder Cardon stood up to speak, he looked at me and thanked me for playing the prelude, and took seriously like 5-10 minutes talking about how much he appreciates the time to listen to hymns on the piano and spiritually prepare and how grateful he was. It was so sweet! He then went on with his training about working together as councils, which was really good.

Then, after MLC and before zone conference, I had my interview with Elder Cardon! I was so nervous and it was cold so I was shaking haha. It went really well though, and was a really cool experience. He asked me about myself, which was fun because he's from Arizona and studied accounting. He also asked about my family, so I got to tell him about each member briefly, and when he asked if all my members are strong in the gospel and I mentioned that they all are except my little brother, he asked me about him and told me to keep writing to him. He asked me questions like what I've learned on my mission and from President Jensen and if I had any questions for him (I was able to ask him one about helping make sure people are ready for baptism, which was cool because then he addressed that topic in his training at the zone conference), and he read some scriptures with me. At the end, he asked me if I would be writing my family on Monday, and told me to tell my parents two things. So here they are, only because I committed to him that I would tell you:

1. He said that I blessed an entire zone conference and the life of a general authority by 25 minutes of beautifully played prelude music, and
2. You (Mom & Dad) have raised a valiant daughter who has served a beautiful mission.

So basically I felt super humbled and loved and I can never complain or think that Heavenly Father doesn't care about me or love me, because He does and now I just need to share that love with others :) As we were leaving the interview, he wished me luck in school and then paused and looked at me and told me to make marriage a priority and to not let school or plans get in the way of that. So I promised that I would do that too :)

sleep over with Lamoni, Mason City, and Ames sisters the night before zone conference here in Des Moines!
The rest of the zone conference was wonderful and not scary like last year's mission tour was haha. Elder Cardon is bold but super loving and makes you want to be better! His wife was so cute and sweet too. It was a wonderful meeting and we had a great lunch afterwards :)

I'll bullet point the rest of the week:
  • We had interviews on Tuesday, which were great. I love President and Sister Jensen :)
  • A lady we've been teaching was also interviewed for baptism on Tuesday. Holy cow were there a lot of ups and downs with her this week. She didn't pass her interview, but we all - herself included - felt at peace with that. She said that she felt like it was an opportunity to learn more and to work towards being even more prepared for her baptism. We had an awesome lesson with her in a member's home later in the week, and it appeared that basically all her concerns were resolved. We struggle a LOT on commitment though, as she still won't take the time to read even a tiny paragraph from the Book of Mormon or go to church. So we very lovingly committed her to do those things for one week to just try it and see if it makes a difference. Well, she texted us last night and completely dropped us, saying that we were pushy, manipulative, rude, etc etc. We seriously have given everything we can to help her, and we were so sure that she'd get baptized - she was so close! - so that was really hard. It's hard because when things like this happen, you start to doubt and wonder if you did the wrong things and you worry because, well, it's someone's eternal salvation you're talking about! But we really did try our best to help her. We probably could have let her get baptized on Saturday, but the commitment just was not there and we felt really uncomfortable. So now we just need to go forth in faith and pray that she will allow the Church into her life once she's in a better place physically and emotionally.
  • On a happier note, another lady is doing so great! She came to church for the third week in a row. I sat next to her and helped keep her cute little boy entertained because she was so tired and somewhat exasperated with him. I was happy that he responded well to me, even though I couldn't put him on my lap or hold him :) She is so cute. She keeps saying things like, "I can't wait to be bapti!" (Liberians don't finish their words haha). We also had a fun lesson with her talking about the temple and eternal marriage. She asked about dating so we taught her how to actually date and how she needs to date good Mormon boys. It was so fun :)
  • Another lady is also doing awesome! I said this before, but I wish I could somehow convey to you how hilarious she is! When we go over she's like, "AYYYY, SISTER MISSIONARY!!" In gospel principles she asked the teacher why she needs to be baptized again when she was baptized in Monrovia in the Pentecostal Church, and she listened so intently as he helped answer her question. Then in relief society, at the end of the lesson, she raised her hand and went on to tell her whole conversion story (I didn't know any of it!) about how she used to believe the stories she'd hear about how Mormons kill people and put their bodies in secret rooms and worship snakes (it was insane) but how now she knows that that's not true and she knows that "the latter day saint church is a GOOD church!" and "it teach you to not fornicate, to not have sex with people you not marry to," and on and on...I was sitting behind her and literally I was shaking and crying from trying so hard to not bust up laughing! It was soooo funny...but so awesome at the same time because she said she wants to be baptized and she totally is gaining at testimony! I also died because we have yet to teach her the law of chastity and she still needs to get married to her boyfriend.
  • Another crazy little incident happened on Tuesday when we went over to a less-active lady's house to help her with some chores because she's a parapelegic and needed some help. As I was washing the dishes, I turned around and saw blood dripping all over the kitchen floor from Sis. Anderson's foot! She doesn't have any feeling in her legs/feet so she hadn't noticed that she had hit it and there was a HUGE gash in her big toe. So Sis Barker and I quickly jumped in to clean up the blood that was now all over the floor (because she had wheeled her wheelchair around in it before realizing what was going on) and play "nurse" and bandage her up. Good times.
  • Our investigator who is blind is doing great! She prayed out loud for the first time this week, which was awesome. We seriously love her, she is so sweet and is slowly but surely reading her braille Book of Mormon! Usually when we visit her, we'll do something little for her before we leave, like read a prescription or instructions of how to cook something, which is fun.
  • We taught a new investigator who is the cutest Sudanese grandma! She says we're her grandkids now :) haha. She hardly speaks a lick of English, so we took a Sudanese member with us to translate. It was an interesting lesson haha. Oh, it got SUPER cold this week. I am so grateful for my warm coat and gloves and car, and the little space heater in our apartment! I'm also super grateful that we've been safe, because the roads are terrible and we've seen so many accidents. We've been super careful :) oh but it was cute - she was like, "If it's this cold in Africa, everyone thinks they're going to die!"
  • We also taught our Karen/Burmese/Thai family the Restoration, and even though the kids were being crazy, everyone was so quiet and the Spirit was so strong when Sis Barker recited the First Vision!
    With Sister Rasmussen at Graceland University 
  • I went to Lamoni on exchanges again! It was awesome! I was with Sister Rasmussen, who is wonderful. We saw so many people I worked with when I was serving there a few months ago. I love that little town so much.
  • Cute quote of the week: Sis Barker to a 10-year-old daughter of a lady we're teaching: "What are you grateful for?" Her answer: "You guys." gah. I love being a missionary.
  • We had some good visits with a mother and her kids. They taught us a fun hand-clapping game, and we taught them a clapping rhythm thing and the song "I Am a Child of God." The mom is doing great and is understanding more and more, but we found out that she and her kids' dad can't get married for a while because of weird immigration things. So that's kind of sad, but we'll still work with them a little and they'll get baptized next year hopefully :)
  • We had dinner at an inactive member's home, which was one of the funniest dinners I've had. She's in her 60's, and this is going to sound racist but she's just about the most black person I've ever met - and super classy at that. There are always tons of people coming in and out because they have TONS of family around, and always hip hop/R&B music blasting. She made us tons of the best fried chicken ever, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and blue and red velvet bundt cake. It was awesome hahaha.

Missions are the best. They are so hard but they are so wonderful at the same time! Thanks for letting me be here :) I know that this gospel is true! Spiritual aha of the week: the story of the pearl of great price. We must give everything we have for the gospel - but it really doesn't matter how much our everything is! There is not set purchase price - just everything we have. And it's OK if someone else's everything is more or less than ours! If we give everything we have, then in return we will receive all the Father hath. He is so merciful and loving!

I love you all sooo much.
Sister Whipple