Monday, April 28, 2014

blossoms, green, rain, and...tornadoes!

aka springtime in Iowa. yesterday had some crazy weather and a tornado warning, but so far we're in the clear! Also Joseph Smith III blessed Lamoni and a tornado hasn't hit the town since, so we should be good ;) 

non-posed missionary picture. this is the real thing, folks. hahaha I was standing outside talking to Liz and Sis Browne was in the car right next to us with the window down, and she snapped this picture. maybe I get into what we talk about a little too much?? :)
Hey family!

Sister Browne and I had a good week. At the end of last week I was kind of feeling like we needed to just get out and work and teach harder/more, and we really worked to be more diligent this week, and it felt great! And guess what we're doing tomorrow...road trip to Nauvoo!!!!! I am SO ridiculously excited. I'll tell you about it next week :)

the cross at the CoC church
Yesterday we got a new ward mission leader (WML), and it is...our previous bishop who was just released last month! We are so excited to have him as our WML. He is one of the most spiritual people I know, and I loved our coordination meeting with him yesterday - I just learn a lot from him. Sis. Browne has been struggling a little lately with homesickness and such, so she asked for a priesthood blessing from him afterwards. Then, he turned to me and asked me if I wanted one! I wasn't going to say no to that haha, and it was actually just what I needed. I love the priesthood so much! In the blessing I was reminded that Heavenly Father prepared people here for me specifically to come and teach them, and that He is preparing people in other areas as well. That was a comfort because I have been dreading transfers...I don't want to leave!! But I know that Heavenly Father has everything under control. I just need to trust in Him :)

 one moment we're teaching in the sun, then next moment it's pouring...
teaching outside
Saturday was an interesting day. We didn't teach a whole lot, but we were able to serve and help people a lot, and it just felt good to feel needed. In the morning, we helped with some weeding with other students at Graceland for arbor day...reminded me of Saturdays working in the yard with mom and dad:) Later we had a lesson with a student, and taught her outside on the grass because it was beautiful. 

Then, we went straight to the CoC church for a memorial service. Two members from the ward drove all the way down to support the man's mother, which was awesome. We really felt like it was good for us to be there - the mother didn't have a lot of support and seemed relieved to see us. We helped serve drinks afterwards during the luncheon, and then talked with the family for a while. There were lots of tender mercies, like when another lady said that she told the mother she'll take her to church next Sunday, and when that same lady said to us, "I need to work on my kids" because none of them are active at all and she is finally starting to see that church is important! We were there for quite a while, and then walked over to "downtown" (that makes me's sooo tiny!) where there was "Livin' on Linden" (the name of the street) - basically a town spring festival kind of thing. We were able to talk to people there and have a nice time. Then, that evening we went on a walk with a student around town and out in some beautiful fields, then took her with us to our appointment with the another family. It was nice to have her with us in a home where there's a family and you can feel the Spirit. 
so, maybe we had a wear-pj's-while-watching-the-Joseph Smith-movie party with two ladies we teach, and maybe I wore one of Sis Browne's onesies? haha it was so fun.

One thing that was hard for me this week was when we went to the a family's house and they pushed back their daughter's baptismal date again. The mom said that she thinks her daughter needs to go to church more before she gets baptized, which I totally agree with! But I was just frustrated because they've had months to go to church and could have gone many times and be totally prepared for this Sunday (when she was planning on being baptized), and now there's a good chance I won't be here. I know it's not about me, but I've been teaching them the entire time I've been here, and I really love them and really want to be here for that. But I'm again, I'm learning a lot more about being patient and trusting in Heavenly Father, because there are so many ups and downs of a mission and while there are so many miracles there are also so many disappointments, and we just have to do our best and leave the rest to Him. It's a good lesson to learn...maybe someday I'll actually get it :)

I made curry the other day! It was delicious!

weekly planning in the GU library
OK funny story time. When we volunteered at the nursing and rehab center, Sis Browne talked a while with a strong RLDS (well, now CoC...but lots of the older people still call it RLDS) man who has an amazing testimony of the Book of Mormon, and who is 101 years old (and amazingly spry for a man of his age haha)! Anyways he agreed to have us come the next day and talk with him more about the Book of Mormon. When we came the next day, we sat down and he immediately started yelling at us! Well, his talking is basically yelling because he can't hear, but anyways, he was NOT happy. He started telling us all about how our church changed the original doctrines and how we still practice polygamy and how we don't know our own doctrine, etc. He started coughing and I seriously was scared he was going to have a heart attack and die right there or something! A worker had to come up to us and remind him not to talk about religion or politics...which was awkward because religion is what we talk about...and he was kind of mad about that haha but we just got out of there as quickly as we could. It was so awkward but also kind of funny. 

at the boxcar by "central park" 
We had an amazing lesson last night with the crazy but sweet couple who live in the boonies in Missouri. We basically just asked the wife questions about her relationship with Heavenly Father, and she told us about some experiences she's had. Sis Browne felt really impressed to ask her what the last spiritual experience she's had is and if she's followed the counsel she received...and the lady immediately said no, she hasn't. She said she was fighting the direction she received from the Spirit, but that she knows she needs to follow it now. She didn't want to say the prayer at the end but then she did, and the Spirit was really strong. It was just a really cool experience to be there and be able to feel like we could actually help her a little :) 

Well, I think that's about it for now! I'm learning a lot and with everything I learn, I realize how much more I still have to learn - but that's what life's about I guess! You all are amazing and I have never been more grateful to have such wonderful parents and a wonderful family. Thank you so much! I love you all!!
dropped "little pink tote" in the mud haha

Sister Whipple

Monday, April 21, 2014

the Iowa ramble

Hi Family!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! I love Easter and refocusing on the Savior Jesus Christ :) I've been trying to be better at always testifying of Him and remembering that everything we teach is because of Him!

It was a long week, but was good and there were lots of miracles. We had exchanges on Tuesday, which were fun, especially since I know the hermanas (our sister training leaders) really well since we've all been here for a while! They are soo wonderful, and I never feel like they are judging me or our area. We had to take it kind of slow that day though because the hermanas have a third hermana, who was serving in El Salvador but got gangue fever and was in the hospital for a while and then got sent here...but she is still weak and in a lot of pain, and if she doesn't get better soon, she'll be sent home. She does NOT want that! So we are praying for her, and they are taking it easy to try to help her to rest and recover.

On Wednesday we had interviews! Those felt really nice. I ended up talking with the President's wife a little about our dear sister who is having a hard time, and she "committed" me to work on trusting Heavenly Father more and not beating myself up about the situation. She is so loving. I also enjoyed talking to President Jensen - we always have such a short amount of time to visit, so I came in very prepared so I could get in as many questions or whatever as I could in those few minutes :) It's actually really cool because President is a professor at University of South Carolina, and Sister Jensen is a CPA, so I got to talk to them both about their fields and get their advice! So quick sidenote...Dad, you asked why I am considering a PhD. It is because I have thought about going into academia and teaching at the college level (I started playing with that idea at the end of my junior year). I am not 100% sure yet, but I've prayed about it some and I feel like I at least should take steps towards that direction, whether that means I'll end up following through with it completely or not. It has felt good though. I mentioned it to Sister Jensen and she strongly suggested I go the academia route because she said it's a really good work/lifestyle for being a mom too. Anyways, we'll see where that goes :)

FHE was really fun, and a member brought two friends! One seemed very interested and really liked FHE and said she'll come this week! Hopefully things will progress there! I am also now a master at the "question game" and can't wait to play it with the family some day ;)

Mom, I'm glad you enjoyed the video haha. I watched it again later and was slightly embarrassed at how silly we were. But hopefully it made you laugh ;)

We did a LOT of community service this week, which was cool! On Thursday, I read a scripture and Sis Browne gave a prayer at the community Holy Thursday service, which was held at the Methodist Church. Even though it was a community service, it still was very "Methodist," which was interesting because I've never been to a Methodist service and there were a lot of things I wasn't expecting! Everyone is always super nice though, and I love the Methodist pastor. The next day, we both read scriptures at the Good Friday service at the Community of Christ church. There was some BEAUTIFUL music at that service, especially when one of their members sang "Via Dolorosa." At both services, they served communion, which was super interesting to see how the different churches do it. Then, on Saturday, we served pancakes and sausage at the Lion's club pancake breakfast. We got to see a lot of people, which was a lot of fun. I hope that our service helps to hasten the work more here.

Also...we had a baptism on Saturday!!! It was a crazy week getting the baptismal service together, for a number of reasons. One, it was Easter weekend, so lots of people were out of town and it was hard finding people willing to give talks. Two, the Osceola elders have been teaching a lady who is moving to Mexico this week. At interviews they told President about her, and he told them, if she's ready, baptize her! They asked her if she wanted to, she prayed about it, she decided that that was the right thing, so we worked with the elders to add her to the baptism on Saturday as well! That meant finding someone to give a talk in Spanish, having a prayer in Spanish, etc. It all came together really nicely though, and everyone seemed really happy. The 12 year old granddaughter of the couple getting baptized was BEAMING and sooo excited that her grandparents were getting baptized :) It was a really sweet experience. Then, yesterday, they were confirmed! There was such a good Spirit! 

Easter Sunday was really nice too. Sister Browne and I spoke in Sacrament Meeting, which had definitely added to the stress of the week haha. We spoke on the Atonement. I think they went pretty well! I spoke last, so with the confirmations and everything, I didn't have a whole lot of time left...and I had prepared a LOT of material haha. So I just kind of had to skip around and decide on the spot what I was going to say, which was actually kind of fun. And then afterwards Daniel got "mad" at me because he was translating and I was talking too fast...haha my bad. But he said he was able to translate faster than usual, and I was of tongues, my friend! haha. Oh also, we had a couple of new people come to church, as well as a lady who hasn't come to church for some 20 years or so! Such a miracle. She didn't stay the whole time, which I was disappointed about, but she is making progress and is such a sweet lady. We were talking to the CoC pastor and out of the blue she told us the difference we were making with the sweet lady who came to church after a 20 year break. Such a small-town thing, because we did NOT say anything about having visited her ever, but it made me feel really good because she was really sincere. Anyways, not only did we give talks in Sacrament Mtg, but we also conducted the music for Primary! I was nervous about it because kids are scary but it was actually a lot of fun and went well. I love serving in this ward because I feel like they need us and we have lots of opportunities to serve - it's the best :) After church, we had a potluck, which was fun and was a lot of fun for those of us who don't really have places to go for Easter! Though, we did go to the CoC pastor's house later for dinner, which was delicious. After dinner, we walked outside in the BEAUTIFUL weather and ended up talking to this man who was about to mow his lawn for about an hour. Let me tell ya, he exemplifies the "Iowa ramble" like nobody's business - trust me, it's a real thing! I almost fell asleep standing up outside because he had been talking for soooo long and I couldn't get a word in edgewise. Anyways, it was an interesting discussion haha! 
 Such a cute girl in our ward. Her two sisters moved to BYUI this week and she was totally missing having girls around, so I let her play with my hair and Sis Browne braided her hair! She was so cute. And no, we did not mean to match :) 

Speaking of Iowa idiosyncrasies, I realized another fun one this past week...they really do move a lot more slowly here in general! Usually it's actually really nice because people are more chill and willing to sit back and chat, but it was funny on Saturday when we were running around like crazy city people trying to get to different appointments in a small amount of time, and people wouldn't let us go - they would just move SO slowly and we'd have to devise means of getting away from them! Small town Iowa problems.

With the (generally) nicer weather, Sister Browne and I have been going outside in the mornings and running and exercising more, which has felt good. We are also holding each other more accountable to eating better...we ARE going to be more healthy, we are determined haha! A lady in our ward is helping us to be healthier too because Sister Browne asked her for tips and she got excited by that (she is really into that kind of stuff and lost a bunch of weight last year). I am starting by drinking more water...which I hate because I hate going to the bathroom so much, but I know it's good for me! So I don't really know why I just told you all that but apparently I fit the Iowa ramble too. :)

We are focusing on finding new investigators this week, as well as helping those we have to set baptismal dates and move forward. It was a good week but we spent a lot of time doing service and planning baptisms and such, and we are just both really feeling the need to get out and work and proselyte and find new people! So that will be good :) 

I know this work is true! I love you all so much. And I love my Savior Jesus Christ! Happy belated Easter, and have a wonderful week!

Sister Whipple

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

and then there were two...

Hey all!

the dinky diner, in Decatur

Happy Monday :) I feel sorta off right now because I wasn't expecting to go email right when we did...obviously we usually go later in the day at the public library, but Sis. Browne wanted to go now so we did and are at Graceland. But I haven't even hardly written in my journal all week because it's been soooo busy, and I am not mentally prepared to think about and talk about my week haha. And my keypad is sticky so sorry if I spell things wrong or whatever!

Thrift Store T's
Anyways, Sister Etherington left on Thursday :( It was a crazy few days beforehand, with her saying good bye to everyone and such.Wednesday night was hard...we had FHE with the students, which was a lot of fun and a huge miracle because all of our students came, in addition to the regulars!! But it was sad for Sis E to say good bye to everyone. Then she had to do basically ALL her packing that night, so we maybe had a girl's night of delicious pizza and ice cream while helping her pack ;) 
Sad Pizza

Thursday we went to district mtg, and then the Warner's (senior couple from Nauvoo) came and picked her up at the church bldg. I was really sad to see her go...but I felt kind of bad because while everyone was crying, I couldn't cry! I was sad but I just don't tend to cry in those situations and I felt kind of bad haha. Thankfully Sis E knows that about me so hopefully she wasn't offended :) Anyways, I've missed her a lot but I've been having fun with Sis. Browne. She's wonderful and I am learning a ton from her!

Saying Goodbye :(
Miracle from yesterday...we taught an entire African family! It was crazy! We have been teaching a Graceland University student from Ghana, and we asked if we could teach his whole family. He said yes! So yesterday Sis Browne and I went along with our member missionary and we taught the whole family! SO cool! And kind of overwhelming sitting there with all these Africans staring at us hahaha. They are the sweetest people and have the sweetest spirits. The mom hardly speaks English but she understands fairly well, and she bore her testimony and prayed in Twi! And we invited them to baptism so they are all investigators now! They committed to study and pray about the Restoration pamphlet as a family. They had lots of good questions that can be answered from doing that! Definitely a really sweet missionary experience :)

Two of our investigators are doing great! They are progressing well and are so fun to teach. We taught one of them the plan of salvation with some cut-outs, and asked her to teach it back to us at the end. She did so, perfectly! It was incredible! According to her, her dad (whom she only visits some weekends) doesn't believe in the Book of Mormon and doesn't want her getting baptized, but she said she doesn't care because she likes the Book of Mormon and wants to get baptized anyways :) she's great. 

One of our couples we are teaching were interviewed for baptism on Thursday! They passed - yay!!! They are so sweet and we are so excited for them to be baptized on Saturday!!

Another miracle was with an inactive sister! We have been looking for her for like the past 6 months - all we had was a PO Box, but Sis Acland showed us where she lives outside of town, but she was never there and then there was a "sold" sign in front of her house...but, her son married a Sister Carter's (a lady in our ward) daughter, so Sis Carter told us where she moved to! We knocked on her door and she was in a robe with her hair wrapped in a towel haha but she told us we could come back the next day. We did, and she let us right in! She was so sweet and we had a wonderful visit. She has been going through SO much...her husband died of cancer 9 months ago (she's probably only in her 50's!) and her son (the one who was married to Sis Carter's daughter) committed suicide a couple weeks ago. We watched an Easter Mormon message and read Alma 7:11-12 with her. She actually reminded me so much of Mom, just by her stature and features and how smiley and nurturing she is! I told her about that and I think it made her feel good :) Afterwards she texted us and said that she had had a really hard couple of nights and had prayed for help, and then we showed up at the door! I LOVE that feeling, that I could be an answer to someone's prayer. 

                     Bad side note to all this though...she gave us a really delicious drink that I literally thought was punch or something. yeah, it was definitely iced tea. gah!!! breaking the word of wisdom with an inactive lady!!! holy cow I felt like a terrible missionary. 

But anyways, I definitely know that Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives. It was cool to see that in a small way on Thursday night. We were driving home from Leon, and a member texted us, just asking how we were doing and such (usually when he does that, there's something else on his mind haha). We told him we were coming back from Leon, and he mentioned that he had wanted to meet up and read with us but that we probably wouldn't have time. We didn't, because we had one more appointment still. But, when we got to our appointment,  they weren't there, and we called and she apologized because she had gotten delayed and wasn't going to make it in time. We were able to reschedule for the next evening and go see him then. He actually was really needing to talk to us about some questions he had and such, and I think he really needed that that night. I was so grateful that it all worked out!

We taught a student outside this week. Sis Browne positioned herself so the sun was directly on her and she got sunburned evenly, but Sis E and I got sunburned on half of our faces haha! It looked pretty funny. It was definitely worse for Sis Etherington though ;)

Speaking of sunshine, it was in the 80's on Saturday! And POURED all day yesterday and snowed last night. haha silly Iowa!

I love you all so much!! Keep praying for our members please and keep being awesome! Thanks for everything. The Church is true :) I'm so grateful for the Atonement in my life and in the lives of everyone around us! I love you!

Sister Whipple

PS MOM!!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ON THURSDAY!!!!!!! You'll be getting a letter in the mail, but it might not be there right on time - sorry if it's not! But I love you so much!!!
The district, plus AP's

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings"

Our matching GU shirts we got at the thrift store!

Dear family!

Wasn't conference such a treat this weekend?! I've been looking forward to it for so long! It's like Christmas on a mission haha :) We watched most sessions at Liz's house with the students, which was a lot of fun. On Saturday, we made empanadas in between sessions, which Liz and Daniel taught us how to make. They were SO good! 

Before the Sunday morning session, my comps and I made pumpkin pancakes for the students during music and the spoken word. Then after the first session, we went to Osceola so that Sis. Etherington could say good bye to some families, and we had the most amazing late lunch/early dinner that Sister Graves made. They are legitimate farmers and she is the quintessential farmer's wife. She also grew up in a German home (her mom immigrated here) and is an AMAZING cook. Anyways, that was nice and then we watched the last session there with them. Though it was kind of hard to focus because her three young grandsons were there :) 

Watching conference...we love being in a tri!
I loved conference though. This was the first time that I felt like I actually prepared for it by studying the talks from last conference and praying about questions that I need answered and looking for the answers as I watched. It was incredible! Basically all of them were answered, and the ones that weren't answered fully, I still received guidance as to what I need to do to find the answers. I felt like Saturday (especially morning) was a lot about "the joyful burden of discipleship" and pressing forward through difficult times, and Sunday was a lot about the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and having hope. At least those were some things that stuck out to me :) President Uchtdorf's was one of my favorites, as I have such a hard time with change and "endings" and missions are all about change! I have been really scared with the thought of leaving Lamoni in the probably near future, and it helped me a lot :) I also appreciated the hope that conference gave me, especially regarding the people we work with. I really received a lot of comfort through the talks and the Spirit during conference.

We've been getting a lot more food from members and other lately because of Sis. Etherington leaving and Sis. Browne coming! We had dinner with our sweet friend from the Community of Christ Church on Tuesday, and dinner at a wonderful family's home on Friday, in addition to eating with the students and at the Graves'. It's probably a good thing we haven't been eating like that the whole time we've been here ;) though it HAS been fun! :)

FHE with the students was SO fun this week! After a message, we played "chair soccer," which is where everyone has a chair that he/she has to guard while trying to hit everyone else's chair with a soccerball. Everyone seemed to have a really good time :) and it definitely got my endorphins going haha!

On Thursday, Sis Browne and I reached our half-way points! sooo crazy. Sis. Etherington made a delicious 9-month cake :)

On Friday we had zone training meeting, which I loved. I absolutely love being with the other missionaries! I learned a lot, and sometimes am blown away by how much I still have to learn and apply - sometimes it is so overwhelming! but I'm grateful for the Atonement!!

I sure am going to miss Sis. Etherington when she leaves on Thursday...but I'm so grateful to be serving with Sister Browne! She is incredible. Oh, we got asked to speak in church on Easter! Also, I came across D&C 52:36 the other day and thought of you all...thanks for "laboring" with me as my family! 

I feel your love and prayers and support and appreciate it so much. You are wonderful examples to me. I love you all so much!!!

Sister Whipple

A creepy abandoned church in Davis City

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

you get that there warm feelin

it gets stressful with the wind sometimes! I'm almost Marilyn Monroe-ing it!
Hey all!!

This has been quite the full week! In biggest news, we had transfers on Thursday. We left our apartment at 6:30 am, and a family in our ward drove us to Iowa City, where we had transfers meeting. Our new companion is...Sister Browne!!! She was one of my roommates in the MTC and we were in the same district...and she was my favorite! (I mean, um, I didn't have any favorites...) Sister Etherington has met her at zone conferences and such too, so when they said her name, maybe we gasped a little and were a tiny bit excited :) I was/am so grateful to have another wonderful companion!!!
With our new companion!
I'm like terrified of being transferred because now I see how hard it must be to come into an area that's already had missionaries (because I've only ever opened!)...also I get scared of going back to an area where you don't teach many lessons, because here it's not super hard to teach lessons, but in other areas it is SO hard. We are so blessed here in Lamoni!

In other news, a family we're teaching are doing AMAZING!!! They totally want to be baptized! They have such sweet testimonies and just LOVE the gospel. They have definitely been pretty golden! It is so exciting to teach a couple, as much as I love teaching students. We pushed their date up to April 20 instead of April 27! And they committed to live the word of wisdom and don't seem too upset by it or anything! The husband is so funny...he says "that there" and "this here" ALL the time. He was describing how he feels the Spirit and was like, "you get that there warm feelin" and was just so cute. I love them! And it's sweet because they love us, which of course makes us feel good :)

Other things...
  • the students came back from spring break! yay! One of our new members showed us his pictures from Utah and told us all about it...he had SUCH a good time :) Also, he brought back a super cute camel from Kerianna for me! Sis. Butler sent it to Kerianna on her "hump day" (halfway point) with a little poem relating the camel to the is so funny and so sweet! I love it :) she's so sweet!
    Camille the camel! it was the end of a long day
  • We taught a man, who is a chain smoker and who told us about how he used to take and deal meth...that was interesting! We smelled so bad of smoke basically the rest of the day. love mission life.
  • We also taught a sweet student from Ghana. He's friends with a girl in our ward, which is really nice to have that connection. At the second lesson, he was super stressed and kind of freaking out a little because he seems to be trying to understand everything at once and he doesn't understand a lot. We tried to help him slow down and focus on what he needs to do and on praying and asking Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon is true. He cancelled the next appt and we were scared that'd be the end, but then he asked if he could meet with us today, and bring a friend. I'm kind of excited to see what will happen!
  • We had pizza with our 100-year-old Community of Christ friend. She's so cute. 
  • We had another first lesson with a mom with three young kids. She is sooo sweet...she said she'll study the Book of Mormon and pray about it this week, and that she should have her answer by Wednesday! haha I'm loving that confidence...hopefully it works out, we would LOVE to teach that family!!! 
  • Sis. Browne is really good at talking to people on the street, so we've been having fun with that and seeing miracles! I love it! Heavenly Father has just been putting people in our path who seem to need to hear the gospel or at least are kind enough to listen for a little, which has been amazing to see.
  • We went to a family's home for supper on Saturday, and then afterwards, we watched the women's broadcast - and two of our investigators came!! 
  • Sister Etherington and I played "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" with Sis. Arzani singing yesterday in Sacrament Mtg! It went really well and was really fun. I will miss playing with Sis. Etherington on her violin! 
  • Church was super good! The Spirit was so strong. And, miracle of miracles...a sweet lady came with her daughter, all on her own!! We haven't seen her in weeks because of spring break and other things going on in her life. But there's been a pretty big tragedy in her family and I was so amazed and so proud of her to see her there, with her daughter.
  • in front of the Amish houses and the cutest pond. seriously soooo windy here lately!!! love this picture though haha :)
  • Today has been a really fun p-day! We went to the thrift store and found sweet Graceland and Lamoni t-shirts. Then we went to an Amish house in the country and looked at some beautiful aprons, oven mitts, and quilts, and talked to the sweet Amish women there!  Then we finally went to Pierce's dairy cup and shared a delicious shake between the three of us. It has been absolutely beautiful the past couple of days and we are LOVING it (but this week will be in the 40's and 50's again).

I love you all! Thanks for your letters and emails and your examples, prayers, and love. You are seriously the best. The Church is true, the Spirit is real, and we are all Heavenly Father's children. Have a wonderful week!!

Sister Whipple