was Ryan's baptism! It was snowing. Naturally. Because it ALWAYS snows when we have a baptism 35 miles away haha. But it wasn't nearly as scary as last time so it wasn't as big of a deal. Ryan's grandma (member), mom (nonmember), and girlfriend (member) all flew from CA, TX, and UT, to be there! His grandma is sooo sweet and was so happy - we were chatting and she said that Ryan is her first descendant to get baptized, and she never thought that that day would come! The beginning of the baptism was kind of busyl, just trying to finish up all the last-minute things, making sure people felt welcomed and comfortable, take pics, etc. We rode up with Sis. Slayton because we didn't have enough miles to make the trip ourselves, so we weren't able to be there quite as early as we would have liked (but we are SO grateful to the elders for filling up the font and helping with the programs!).
was AMAZING as well!!! First of all, I was super grateful that the weather was OK and church didn't get cancelled. We had ward council, which I always enjoy, and then as we were walking into the chapel, I saw Sister Jensen, our mission mom! I was so excited!!! I ran up to her and gave her a big hug, and then saw President Jensen too and got to shake her hand :) We were soooo excited to have them there! And it was AWESOME because they spoke in Sacrament Meeting, and guess who else spoke? Ryan and Daniel!! It was one of the best Sacrament Meetings I've ever gone to. Ryan was confirmed too, which was incredible.
This Saturday and Sunday were probably two of the happiest days of my life! It was incredible. So I'll tell you all about them first, then maybe ramble about other things before I sign off ;)
But, once things actually got started, they were amazing. Like I said last week, our sweet Daniel (who got baptized last month) baptized Ryan, and witnessing that was incredible. Daniel was really nervous but you couldn't even tell - he seemed so confident and peaceful. He did it all perfectly, and Ryan looked so happy when he came up out of the water :)
|The whole family after the baptism|
Sis. Slayton turned to Sis. Etherington and me and said something like, "If you don't see anything else your whole mission, this made it worth it." So true. And, guess who was there?? A student we are teaching!!! We're sooo happy she came! She is progressing so well. Afterwards, we asked her what she thought, and she just said, "Wow." She loved seeing the baptism! After the actual performance of the baptism, Sis. Etherington and I were able to teach the Restoration, which was awesome. Then, Ryan's grandma gave a beautiful talk on the Holy Ghost. Bishop asked Ryan to come up and share his testimony, and he did a beautiful job! The Spirit was SO strong - he and his mom were crying, and it was a beautiful thing to see them share that experience together. I really wish I remember better what was said - we didn't get back until late and I didn't have time to write in my journal that day :( - but it was such a sweet moment when Ryan looked straight at Sis. Etherington and me and said "I know that this Church is true."
After that Bishop asked a brother from the ward to share a few comments (Bishop is notorious for asking people to "share a few words" on the spot), which was beautiful, and then Bishop did the "welcome to the ward" and gave Ryan some advice - he always is SO powerful, I wish you could meet him! He testified of Jesus Christ, and said a few more heartfelt thoughts. After the service, we enjoyed treats that some of our sweet members brought. People hung around a lot longer than I expected, and it was so nice just mingling with everyone and seeing them interact together.
Bishop spent some time talking with me too, and said something like, "You know that this is no small thing, right?" It truly was a miracle that night. Ryan's family asked if they could take Sis. Etherington and I out to dinner afterwards, so we went to a Mexican restaurant and Sis. E and I shared a delicious shrimp burrito. It was so nice!
Ryan's and Daniel's talks were SO cool! They were asked to speak on their conversion stories. It was so neat to see these awesome young men who have changed their lives stand up and bear powerful testimonies. Ryan talked about his experience with deciding to investigate the church and recognizing the Spirit in his life as he changed his actions to be in line with Heavenly Father's commandments. He talked about how he has experienced fullness of joy since allowing the gospel to be a part of his life. I especially loved Daniel's talk, because as he talked about different experiences he's had the past several months, it brought back a whole flood of memories and emotions that we all experienced in helping him to come to where he is now. He was so powerful! He is a great speaker naturally, but beyond that, the Spirit was so strong as he shared his testimony at the end that "I believe the Book of Mormon is true. I believe the Church was restored through Joseph Smith. I believe the Church is true." It was simple but powerful. Oh and he was so sweet and said how the best thing for him was when he was called to be a ward missionary so he can "go out with the sisters and teach," because he just wants to share the gospel with everyone! I wish that I could have a little memory-keeper thing like Dumbledore and just be able to replay those talks and these experiences...but someday we'll remember it all perfectly, right? :)
Pres. and Sis. Jensen gave great talks as well, of course. They are always just so full of love. It's funny because President Jensen isn't your typical eloquent, charismatic mission president - but he is a quiet, powerful, spiritual man who just loves us and loves the Lord so much! During the second hour of church, they met with all the youth and young adults and talked about mission preparation, so they invited us and the Osceola elders in and used us as examples, which was really fun. Then, during third hour Sister Etherington and I taught the two sunbeams. Let me tell you...primary teachers make SUCH sacrifice, haha! It is so hard teaching those little munchkins. They are crazy. We had the most success when we ran around the kitchen making animal noises for the last 10 minutes. Sorry, but sometimes you just have to give in a little!
Alright, on to other fun little things...
- We had district meeting, and on the way there Sis. Etherington made the insightful remark: "Iowa is miserably beautiful." Haha it is SO cold here sometimes, but it really is beautiful, especially driving through the countryside and seeing the rolling hills and farms and white snow :)
- We had a lesson with Ryan , which was crazy and fun because it snowed SO much that day and our cars were "grounded," so we walked there instead! Which meant that we trudged through tons of snow and looked ridiculous. We even got Daniel to meet up with us part way and walk with us, because he didn't want to drive his car but we really wanted him there because we were going to talk about temples and wanted him to tell about his experience going to the temple. He's a champ for doing that, haha! It was fun, we laughed and took a picture. :)
|when we trudged through tons of snow to get to a lesson|
- FHE was AWESOME, especially since we almost didn't even get to go! We were supposed to be in by 8 that night because of extreme colds (haha), but at the last minute we got permission from our zone leaders to go to FHE anyways. We watched the Joseph Smith movie, and had a good group of students there. There was a good Spirit there, and the testimonies that were shared were great :)
- A lady we taught was so rude to me haha! Not really, just was picking on me and I got so frustrated but then we realized how funny it was. First she told me that my analogy was a bad one and started criticizing it, then said how "Sister Whipple just chatters away sooo quickly that I can't understand a word she's saying" (and I thought I was speaking slowly! I'm still working on that haha), THEN as I was shaking her hand at the end, she goes, "Oh you've got those worthless gloves!" Haha I got a tiny bit defensive and was like, "these are the best gloves I've ever had!" haha. day in the life.
- Transfer calls are going out today, but Sis. Etherington and I already know that we're not being transferred because President Jensen told us both in our weekly emails last week, and when we saw him yesterday! We are so happy and feel so blessed!
- Yesterday Sis. Etherington was heating hot chocolate in the microwave while she was talking on the phone to the district leader. I decided to steal a sip of it and was immediately punished when my entire mouth and throat (because I was an idiot and swallowed the lava) was scorched! We may have died of laughter because it was so funny. But yeah, my tongue, mouth, lips, and throat are all pretty dry today haha. Maybe someday I'll learn my lesson and (1) not steal other people's drinks, and (2) not be so impatient!
Anyways, that's about it. I know this church is true! When I was sitting in church, I felt SO happy, it was incredible. I looked around and saw all these beautiful families, I saw Daniel and Ryan up on the stand, I saw President and Sister Jensen up there with them, and I just knew that this is what the gospel and the Church are for. It can't not be true. Living the gospel brings so much happiness, more than anything else! thank you for being wonderful examples to me and for raising me in such a loving home with the gospel in my life! I love you all so much!