Monday, March 10, 2014

"Lord, I believe"

Hi people I love so much!

Wow...where do I even start?! This was a week like none other. On Tuesday, one of the girls we've been teaching told us she wanted to be four days. On Wednesday she was interviewed. Then she told her mom and Wednesday night began the long days of her being anti-ed like crazy and basically disowned by her mom. Saturday night at about 8 PM many prayers were answered and she said that yes, she still wanted to be baptized after all. On Sunday she was baptized and confirmed!

So that's the low-down of the week! It was seriously one of the longest, most stressful weeks for Sister Etherington and me haha - and I don't know the last time I've had a normal night's sleep - but it was so, so worth it! Here are more of the details:

Sunday was her baptism! Baptismal days are so fun but so stressful - especially when they're right after church (which is easier for most people here since the drive is so far, rather than going Saturday night and again on Sunday). It made me so happy when I saw her and her friend both walk into church :) We made it through three good meetings, then she changed into her "swag suit" or "karate outfit," as she called her white baptismal jumper hahaha. She was so cute! The baptism was sooo beautiful. Her friend gave the talk on baptism, which was so sweet and just amazing. Also it was soooo funny because she was really nervous to speak, so she was gripping the armrest of the pew, and as she leaned on it to stand up, she forgot to let go and literally broke it off! She throws weights for the track team and goes to state tournaments for that, so she is incredibly strong. I died. Anyways, she gave a beautiful talk and then a group of us sang "Beautiful Savior." Right before she went into the font to be baptized by Elder Jackson, she pulled Sis. Etherington and me into the sweetest hug; she was shaking SO badly! It was such a tender moment. She was stiff as a board but the baptism was beautiful. We made sure that she had her friend to help her get changed after she came out of the water(she's really been like her mom this whole time - they are sooo cute!), and Sis. Etherington and I taught the Restoration. Then another member gave a really sweet talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost, and she was confirmed by Bishop! It was AMAZING. Seriously, I feel like Bishop's going to be like a patriarch or something someday. She was told in her blessing that her baptism was a fulfillment of a covenant that she made in the pre-earth life that she would be the one to bring the gospel to her family, and that many members would accept the gospel. She was also blessed with many other blessings, including that her children will take the gospel to the far corners of the earth. It was incredible. Bishop asked her to bear her testimony/share a little about her experience afterward. She was kind of confused at first and was like, "what do I say?!" and Bishop told her, "listen to what the Spirit tells you." She was quiet for just a second and then bore one of the most powerful testimonies. I wish I had a recording of it so I can remember it all! She talked about how she never ever ever thought she would join "the Mormon church" and how she wasn't sure why at first she kept going back. She talked about how scary it was when she started believing the things she was learning, and how she finally made the decision to be baptized. She talked about how her family doesn't accept her like this, and how she was always told "family before anything," but how sometimes you have to put God first so that He can bless your family. She bore testimony of Joseph Smith and of latter-day prophets and of how this is the true church - which was a miracle because on Friday she said that she wasn't sure if it was the true church. She talked about how all churches (generally) believe in the same God, but that this church has the fullness of the gospel and has so much more to offer - it was sweet to hear her talk about the Articles of Faith and the Word of Wisdom and see how those played a part in her testimony as well. She is so cute and quiet and soft-spoken sometimes, but at the end of bearing her testimony, the Spirit was so strong and she was so confident as she said, "and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ" with so much conviction! Ahhhhh so amazing. 

After that, our sweet Relief Society President welcomed her into Relief Society, and Bishop welcomed her into the ward. He had all of us "Lamonites" stand up in the front, and it was amazing and humbling to see so many young adults staying strong when they are so few in number! I'm so proud of these students. Bishop had me recite the First Vision again (I'm so glad I remembered it haha) and talked about how we're the lights down here in Lamoni. Basically, my heart was really full, it was almost too much to handle, and it was one of the happiest moments :) And was followed by many treats and much happiness. She is one of the strongest, most courageous people I know!! Oh and thank you for your prayers - I really felt them sustaining me and know that her baptism was an answer to many prayers!

Anyways, here is the rest of the week! :)
  • Today it is in the 60's. I hardly know what to do with myself, it's so wonderful!

  • Another huge miracle...a lady and her daughter came to church!!! I didn't know if we'd ever see that happen! When we were over in their home on Friday, we talked about baptism with the daughter, and her friend (who is a member of the church)who was spending the night and said something like, "I can totally see you going on youth trips and going to the temple with us! You would love it!" Such a sweetheart. And then, she slept over on Saturday night to ensure that they would have to come to church haha! We went over Sunday morning and made waffles for them :) It was so fun having breakfast and being at church with them! they just seemed to belong.
  • FHE was really fun. We played a "question game" and I actually beat one of the members! That's kind of like beating Chantelle at "dippity dippity dip." Big deal, I know ;)
  • I bought a side bag at the thrift store for $2 and it is a perfect missionary bag! yay!
  • District meeting was so great! It was really uplifting and motivating. I gave the spiritual thought, and chose to talk about and read the story in 2 Kings 6:13-17. They loved it, and it was a lot of fun haha - one of the zone leaders was like, "how did you find this?! I swear this wasn't in the scriptures before!" Read it - it's an amazing story, and it totally applies to us as all as we go out into the world and try to be examples and bring people to Christ!
  • We also finally had a good lesson with the a certain family again! We watched the Restoration DVD and even though most of the kids were psycho crazy like usual, their little girl sat and paid attention and answered questions and was awesome! 
  • Sis. Etherington and I tried to be real Iowans this week! First we made "bean green casserole" (as Sis. E kept accidentally calling it), and then on Saturday when we visited the Verro's out in the country, they gave us some ground venison so on Sunday I cooked that up and we ate it in tortillas with tomatoes and kale. It was good! I'd never had venison before, but I've heard that it is often really gamey-tasting...but I also hear that the venison here is much better and more sweet, which is how ours was.
  • The high school basketball team is going to state champions today, so the whole town is celebrating. It's real cute.
  • Daylight savings was fun. But hey, it's much better for missionaries - lighter in the evening! 
  • We talked to a man who wears a cowboy hat and smokes and drinks and lives, in his own words, "in a shack by the river." But he was also super sweet and when we gave him a Restoration pamphlet, he loved the picture on it (Christ holding a lamb) and said, "now that's the God I know." 

This Church is so true, it's incredible. I'm soooo grateful for it! I'm so grateful to be an instrument in Heavenly Father's hands. He could do this work on His own if He wanted, but He doesn't. He works with us imperfect people and allows us to be a part of His miracles. I love Him so much! and I love you all :) Have a wonderful week! And don't forget that "they that be with us are more than they that be with them" ;) 

Sister Whipple

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