Monday, January 27, 2014

when my left nostril starts twitching...'s because we have five investigators at church and the topic in both Sacrament Meeting and Relief Society is tithing and welfare and we haven't taught a SINGLE investigator there about tithing and I am STRESSED out of my mind! hahaha church is the best and most stressful thing ever.

Hey family/friends!

So yes, this was a really great week! Lots of miracles, big and little. I really do feel so blessed to be able to see and be a part of miracles just about every day. I'll start out by telling you about yesterday, seeing how I kind of started that already haha. We had five - FIVE - investigators at church! I couldn't believe it. Shoot, when I was in Dubuque we didn't get a single one there for 3 months! And we lived 10 minutes from the church! And then...they talked about tithing. And welfare. alllll church long (almost). Sister Etherington and I were going crazy, we were stressed out of our minds haha! My perspective on church has forever changed since being a missionary! 

My favorite part of church was during second hour, when our recently baptized man was set apart as a ward missionary. Seriously, every time he is given a blessing, it's like the most powerful thing! I can't wait to see where life takes him.

After church, we had a baptism! She is the cute 8-year-old we've been teaching, whose parents are inactive but who comes with her aunt and uncle. So, not technically a convert baptism, but Bishop Bair asked us to teach her as if she were a convert. So that was really fun :) So many miracles there too! Her parents came to ALL of church, not just her baptism, which is a really big deal, and it was sooo sweet to see them all there. Her aunt gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. That took true courage. She has major anxiety when it comes to public speaking and she basically had a panic attack at the pulpit. I thought she was going to pass out. Her husband went and stood next to her. I wasn't sure if she'd make it...but she insisted on pushing through and she gave a beautiful talk! I was so so proud of her. The girl's dad gave the closing prayer, which is also a big deal. One of our investigators and her two boys stayed for the baptism, which was awesome because there is always a really good spirit at baptisms!

One of our new investigators is about as golden as golden gets. We taught him the word of wisdom and the law of chastity and he makes it so easy - we're like, "Will you live the word of wisdom?" and he's like "well I already am, so that's easy." His grandma and girlfriend have tickets to be here for the 8th! We're praying for his parents to be able to come too because they aren't members and he realllly wants them to be here!

Paula (Name has been changed)! She is a big miracle for the week. We taught her twice when we first got here, but she sort of disappeared. She is Samoan and is the one who once attended the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price institute classes. Anyways, one night we had an appointment fall through so we stopped by her house and it was an answer to her prayer the night before when she was asking if this was the right path to her! We've been able to meet with her twice since then and she said she's not as stressed about it as she was before (she was VERY scared because her family wouldn't be very happy about her being baptized) and she has a baptismal date for Feb. 22 :)

We also had exchanges with the sister training leaders this week! OK, exchanges are really awesome but they are also REALLY hard for me sometimes! Exchanges are still really great and I learned a lot! I spent the day with Hermana Stroud and we went to Davis City (TINY, dying little town) and did some contacting/tracting (it was SO cold!). We found some sweet potentials. That night, we stopped by at a potential family's house and they were getting ready to leave for their Restoration church meeting and invited us to come. We had invited them to church, so we thought that maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for US to go to THEIR church, since it was a weekday night and we didn't have any set appointments. So we did! It was a really cool experience. It was just at a house here in town, and was a prayer/song/testimony kind of meeting. It was really interesting being there where they have testimonies of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith, etc...they are SO close to the truth, they are just missing a little bit! Best part, though, was that Hermana Stroud and I both bore our testimonies! It was awesome! I said how much I love serving in that town where so many people already have testimonies of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and how I know that we have a prophet on earth today - because they don't have a prophet or really any strong organization in the Restoration branch. Super cool experience!

Sister Etherington and I did another training in district meeting. It was OK, but I didn't feel at my best. But, the Spirit was still there so hopefully they learned something!

Another cool little experience: we visited with another Restorationist who is going through some REALLY hard things right now. We gave her a Spanish Book of Mormon, which she was really excited about, and sang "Abide With Me, 'tis Eventide" to/with her (she'd never heard it before). She really liked that :)

Updates on others...we finally met with another student again last night, which was good because she had some hard questions and one of our member missionaries was there and helped answer them (such as, "what do you mean when you say you know it's true? What does true mean? What is truth?"). She's such a powerful missionary; I'm still learning to appreciate her gifts and still be confident in myself and not worry or fret too much that I'm not as powerful as she is. Also set a date for baptism with another student for March 8. We also have a new investigator who lives in Davis City (our first in DC!) and is the sweetest man. The problem is it's hard to get a member with us out there and we had to teach him on the porch, which isn't going to fly well all winter when it's freezing haha. We also found a new investigator from the Restorationist meeting we went to! We had a lesson with her last night. She was really excited to learn more about Joseph Smith. We also told her about Thomas S. Monson, and she said that yes, if she knew that he is a true prophet, then she'd be baptized! She said the closing prayer and said, "please help me to know if Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet and if I should be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Sooo cool! It's so hard sometimes to get people to ask specific questions in their prayers, so that was sweet. Only problem there? She and her husband don't have a car. So...getting everyone to church is getting harder and harder! We're praying for miracles in that realm here in Lamoni!

A member of our ward cooked us a delicious Venezuelan dinner last night! We had "arepas" - some sort of corn meal (I think) biscuit-type thing that you fill with a shredded chicken-avocado-mayo mixture. Super yummy. We had a really fun time all being there together :)

Anyways, like I said, it was a week of miracles. I am so grateful to be a missionary, and I am so grateful for this Church! I am very happy. Sometimes I'm sitting in church or in a baptismal service or whatever and I look around and I see these wonderful, imperfect families who are just strengthened so much by the gospel and the Church and I think, this is what the Church is for. This  is why it is so true! And so many other testimony-building experiences, big and small. I'm so grateful! I love my Savior, and I love my family so much!!

Love you all,
Sister Whipple 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hawaiian's hug

and yet we still get along!

Hi loved ones!

This was another wonderful week! We are SO blessed here in Lamoni. We found three new investigators and set two baptismal dates! So many miracles.

Church yesterday was wonderful. 

There were a lot of other little miracles and happenings throughout the week; I hope you don't mind if I just keep listing them :) ...
  • We went to a certain lady's house like we do every Monday evening to meet with her and her daughter, but when we got there she said that we had 10 min before she had to go pick her daughter up. So, Sis. Etherington was awesome and whipped out a short message, and then we invited her to pray. She said no, as she always does, but this time we were persistent. And she did! And said a super sweet prayer! So that was awesome.

  • On Tuesday, we did a lot of community stuff. We went to the ministerial alliance meeting, had lunch with a lady at the Sale Barn Cafe, and volunteered at the food pantry. We learned that Decatur County (our area is the entire county) is the poorest county in the state of Iowa, but Lamoni is the richest town within the county. That makes sense because we go to any other town, and they are all so different than Lamoni - kind of run-down and dying. It's sort of sad to see these towns die away. But we're focusing on being little beams of light to these people who need some hope! And we just received a headquarters referral today from a man who lives in Davis City who went on and requested a Book of Mormon, and I called him and set up a time to go take it over!

  • We had a lesson with a lady and her granddaughter. We focused on just reading the Book of Mormon with them because sometimes she starts ranting about politics and stuff and reading helps to bring the Spirit and calm her down. The 6 year old granddaughter asked sweet questions about who the Holy Ghost is, and Sis. Etherington helped her say the closing prayer :)

  • We contacted a referral, a Community of Christ couple, who let us in and were very friendly. The husband is Hawaiian and probably about 60. Before we left, he suggested we say a prayer together, so we all held hands and he prayed. As I was standing there holding this man's hand, I had the little thought that maybe I was being slightly apostate by holding his hand. But then, after we said amen, he suddenly says, "Hawaiians hug!" and pulls Sister Etherington and me in this big Polynesian embrace before we could react. hahaha we were dying! I was thinking APOSTATE!!! the whole time and it was probably the most awkward hug. First time hugging a man in 6 months. Then we went to the wife to give her a hug, and she standoffishly said, "I'm Norweigan." hahaha it was sooo funny.

  • We had dinner with a family from church, which was fun. Then we spent some time on Friday and Saturday packing up boxes, washing dishes, and cleaning to help them with their move. They are moving to Osceola to live with some of their family for a while. We will miss them!

    this sweet Mexican lady fed our ENTIRE district lunch after district mtg!
    She fed us the most delicious posole. When we got there, I saw a bowl of
    posole and thought it was the serving bowl...and then she brought
     out one for each of us! Holy cow! But it was sooo good :)
  • We were in Leon on Thursday, having zero luck. Everything fell through, so we did a little tracting. It was SOO windy and snowy and we were laughing at how ridiculous it was...until we got a text saying that our cars were grounded and we needed to go inside due to blizzard conditions. Thank goodness we got home safely, because we were about 15 miles from home haha!

  • I lost my Marshallese nametag. Super sad day!

  • I feel like sometimes my body's trying to tell me I'm stressed even though I don't mentally think I'm stressed haha. I woke up with a sty in my eye, which has been there since like this morning. I also had a migraine the other night...THANK GOODNESS it was when we were already turned in for the night, because I felt SO sick. Hopefully that will be my one and only migraine for my mission!

So yes, it was an eventful and fun week haha. 

Well my friends, that's it for now! I love you all so much. I am so grateful for the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. They make such a difference in my life, and the lives of others. I am grateful for this time to serve others and have joy in that service. Thank you for being such wonderful people in my life! I am grateful for YOU!

Sister Whipple

PS I'm getting my hair cut today! Finally. Super excited :) any idea how much is generally accepted for a tip?

Monday, January 13, 2014

dinosaur tracks and flu shots

hi loved ones!

This was a good, busy, exhausting week! We were blessed to teach a lot of lessons again. And the weather finally got warmer :) Mom, I got the leggings in the mail today - thank you! They look so cute and warm and comfy :)

P-day outfit. We didn't get many pics this week, but we did get this gem ;) it was on the FREEZING cold day last week. Please enjoy the white leggings, black legwarmers, and static-y basketball shorts matched with silver sparkly sweater and green socks ;)

First off, church yesterday was awesome and filled with miracles! Thank goodness winter term at Graceland has started again so many of the students are back, and guess who DID come? A college student we've been teaching brought her friend (who has now come 3 times! and we finally actually got to teach her and invite her to baptism, so she's a new investigator!); Another friend of a member (cool story about that later); and this young man, who literally drove himself the 35ish miles to church, by himself, without knowing a single person there! It was so crazy! Here this probably 19-year-old guy whom we've never met before shows up at church in a suit and tie, with a triple combination that has his name engraved on it (his friend from home gave it to him - he's from TX), and introduces himself to the missionaries. Did a golden investigator just walk into church?! Sure looks like it! We got his contact info and are meeting with him tonight! What's even better, Daniel is now this super-awesome member missionary and really went out of his way to make him feel welcome and comfortable. Plus, he on the soccer team and Daniel helps out with the soccer team, so while he didn't actually know him, he recognized him and immediately is friends because of the soccer connection haha. So basically that was really awesome. Plus, it was ward conference, so Bishop Bair and President Pence gave AWESOME talks in Sacrament meeting (no surprise there - they are the most powerful speakers and leaders!) and of course the stake leaders taught the classes. Gospel principles was good too because there were 5 young adult Graceland University students, plus us, so that was fun! Oh and side-note about how awesome Daniel is...with his roommates back, he's already having to stand up to them because they're already trying to get him to drink, etc. with them. But he's being so strong! When he was trying to live the Word of Wisdom before he got baptized, he went to a party once and we texted him and said, "Be like Nephi!" It was kind of a joke but it's stuck and I don't think he's drunk ever since. It's been really fun to continue reading out of 1 Nephi with him and see how much he really has become like Nephi!

Another miracle. We decided to have weekly Family Home Evenings (FHE) to try to get people to come, but things just weren't working - people weren't home, phones weren't working, no one was answering, etc. We showed up at the room on campus we were meeting at, and it seemed like the only people who would be there were two members, but no investigators. BUT, then we got a text from one guy saying that he had left his phone at his friend's and would be there in 15 minutes - and he brought someone with him! Also, it just so happened that another girl was in that very building working on one of the computers, so one of our members saw her and we were able to go grab her and invite her to come as well (her phone is broken so she didn't hear about it), and she came and we all had a great time! We showed the Mormon Message "Wrong Roads," shared a scripture, and had a little discussion, and then a super fun little activity. Everyone seemed to have a good time :) On Sunday, one of them said how she's inviting lots of people to come and how she's really excited about it! And another said that it was just what she needed. It is just so cool to see these times when we do everything that we can and nothing seems to be working, and then Heavenly Father steps in and makes it all work out. It's a good reminder who's really in charge of His work :) Oh! And when we were trying to round people up to come, we stopped by a girl's dorm, but she wasn't there. Her roommate was there, however, who is the girl who came to church on Sunday. We chatted with her and invited her to FHE;she was studying so she didn't come, but that night she texted a member and asked her if she can come to church with her! It was SO cool.

Other lessons: We taught our 80-year-old Baptist neighbor, who is pretty awesome. He said that he'll be baptized if he knows that this Church is true! We're still trying to get him to come to church because he always goes to his grandson's wrestling tournaments on Sunday. We also taught another librarian, who has an awesome family. We are really hoping things work out with her, she's so great! We had a really good lesson with another lady, and Sis. Einertson came with us. We were so sure she'd be at church though...waiting for people at church and not having them show up is the worst feeling haha. We helped the Einertson's with some housework, and they are planning on moving this week. No!!! That is one thing that is really stressful because we feel like we're losing our members down here - there's a good chance the Slayton's will leave after the end of the school year too, and I seriously do not know what Lamoni will do without them - it would be SO hard to get people to church! 

We had zone training meeting on Thursday, which was awesome. I love our zone! Also, we found out the new mission goal for 2014. 2013's goal was 550 (we had close!), and we've always had a goal like that. This year is different...the wards' goals are our goals! So once our ward finishes making its goal, that will be our goal, and we will work to help the ward to reach its goal. That's the way it is across the mission, and it makes so much sense! We are to be working hand in hand with the members, and it doesn't make sense for the wards and stakes to have goals and then for the mission to have this other goal. We should be working with the wards and stakes! We're really excited about this and know that it is part of Heavenly Father hastening His work :)

On Friday we had interviews,which were awesome...I love President and Sister Jensen! President said that unless Heavenly Father tells him otherwise, he'll probably just keep Sister Etherington and me here until she goes back to Nauvoo in April! Which means I'll stay until about May to train the next missionary here before I transfer! I'm excited to really be a part of this ward and area and see real change and growth here in the next several months. Anyways, other than interviews, Friday was kind of exhausting haha and is where the subject line is from. First of all, the weather was super weird (I know, I'm not supposed to complain haha) - it was warmish but was foggy and icy and sleety all day. After interviews we finally got our dreaded flu shots - we had put it off as long as possible but it's a mission rule and we got somewhat chastised at ZTM for not having gotten ours yet. Sister Etherington LOVES shots...and by that I mean that I held her hand during hers haha. If I get the flu this week, we know why haha. After getting our shots, we drove down to Leon, which is one of those towns that just kind of seems to be dying, which is kind of sad. This lady talked at us for like almost 2 hours (we're supposed to only have 45-min lessons...sometimes it's next to impossible to get out of there!). She just went on and on and contradicted herself and was so frustrating! Sis. Etherington read a scripture out of Amos and the lady started telling her how she has to read it in context and proceeded to read, out loud, the book of Amos from chapter 1! We were like, we canNOT sit here while you read the whole book of Amos! It continued like that and finally I had a chance to talk and I told the First Vision story and bore my testimony and the Spirit was actually really strong. She had tears in her eyes but when I asked her if she felt the Spirit touch her, she said "No." Then she proceeded to say how she "understands" what it's like to believe in something your whole life, and told us this 20-min (or so) story about how she grew up believing that a human footprint was found next to a dinosaur footprint and how she was crushed when she found out that wasn't true. When she finally finished I was like...well the difference is, this IS true! Sister Etherington and I were DYING. When we finally got out of there and were driving back to Lamoni, we were laughing as we ranted about how crazy that whole thing was. I was like, "she compared MY testimony of Joseph Smith to DINOSAUR TRACKS!" it was so ridiculous! 

Anyways, missionary work is awesome and I love it! Sorry the email is SO long haha. I love you all so much! Happy birthday to Nathanael on Saturday!!!! Thanks for everything - you all mean the world to me :)

Sister Whipple

Monday, January 6, 2014

an apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze

Hello sweet family (and friends)!
after finding out we're both staying!
Well first thing's first, currently we're enjoying a cold front that is so good that it has a name - Hercules! Haha. Not sure what the "real feel" is, but yesterday the high was about 9 degrees with a wind chill of like -25, and today the high is like -1, so with the wind chill it's probably below -30. Gotta love Iowa!

Sister Etherington and I are both staying in Lamoni!!!! We were not expecting to both stay at all. We are thrilled! It was a long day of waiting for the call on Monday, and when it came at 9 PM we both squeeled "YES!!!" when the assistant told us both that we were staying :) 

We taught a lot of kind of random lessons this week - lots of stop-ins from tracting/contacting, first lessons, etc. It was fun! Haha sometimes when we were going tracting, we'd start running/skipping down the street because we were so cold. I'm sure it looked really funny ;) 

Oh, happy new year's! This was the first time in a long time that I had no desire to stay up haha. We had to be in by 6 PM New Year's Eve, and President said that we could stay up until midnight but we'd still have to be up the next day by thank you! We decorated new planners, went to bed early, and had a wonderful night's rest :)

OK time for some funny stories...
  • Our toilet broke. Again. And the plumber didn't come for 3 days!!! So we kept having to go to Casey's next door and it was SUCH a pain, but we tried to laugh about it because it was so ridiculous :)
  • On Saturday, we had our get-to-know-you district meeting because we have three new elders in our district (including a new District Leader, Elder Jackson). After the meeting at the church, Sis E and I used the bathroom (because ours was still broken...) so when we were ready to go, the elders had already left. We decided to do a little service and shovel the pathways up to the church because they were still pretty snowy. So we left our things inside the church, grabbed the shovels, and started shoveling...about 5 minutes later, Sis. E says, "Sister Whipple?...I think we're locked out." There we were, at our church building outside of town off of some highway, with our phone, planners (with all of our phone numbers), and keys inside the locked church! THANK GOODNESS Br. and Sis. Graves live right across the highway, so we were able to walk over there and thankfully they were home and gave us the combo to get the key to the church. It was SO cold walking across that windy highway though haha! We laughed at how dumb we were.
after venturing across the highway in the freezing
cold and finally getting a key to the church! super attractive.
  • Another story about us being dumb...yesterday we went to a family's house to give them a thank-you card and leave a little message with them. They ended up feeding us dinner, so we were there longer than we expected. When we left, we got into our car...and it was COMPLETELY stuck! One side had kind of slid into a ditch filled with snow and ice we couldn't get any traction at all to get out. The wife called Br. Bishop, who lives nearby, and he came to our rescue (so embarrassing haha!). We worked for quite a while shoveling and pushing until he finally got the car out of where it was stuck. We were so grateful!!!
  • Also, that family is just so hilarious. Let's be honest...old people are funny as it is, and then when they're old people from the Midwest, it's hilarious! They say the funniest things and have the funniest accents. I also learned to eat apple pie with slices of cheese on top...haha the husband taught me that lesson with that cute little phrase I put in the subject line ;) Also, the wife was like, "good thing I made some salad yesterday!" and then proceeded to pull out a bowl of green Jello with cottage cheese (my favorite!...) and pineapple inside. That's just weird haha! Kind of had to force that one down a little...oh they are so cute! Speaking of cute old people, we chatted with our Baptist friend, who's in his 80's, and he kept saying the funniest things like "I was as busy as the dickens" and "he's just a little squirt" and "wrastling" instead of "wrestling." Also literally like every old person here says "Missourah" instead of "Missouri" hahaha.
  • Fast and testimony meeting yesterday. Holy cow. One older man - who is THE SWEETEST man - told the most random story for literally like 15 minutes. I was DYING haha! Also a lot of the youth bore their testimonies about the Nauvoo temple trip, and a lot of them mentioned how they loved being there and how it was a "cool" experience. It was really sweet.

I'm so happy to be a missionary and to be serving here. It is the best! I love this gospel and am so grateful to have been taught it all my life. I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and I can't deny that! Thank you for all your support! I love you all so much!!!

Sister Whipple