Tuesday, May 27, 2014

the urban life vs. the hick life

Hi family!

Did yall have a good Memorial Day? Sorry I couldn't write, the whole town was shut down :) It was a fun day though! It has been a good, busy week. As you know from last week's email, we went to Des Moines for zone conference! I ended up using some music that Liz found for me online, and it worked pretty much perfectly, so that was a relief :) It was fun - Elder Cleverley sang "Come Thou Fount," but the second verse he sang lines from "Joseph Smith's First Vision," and the third verse he sang a version of "Called to Serve" that fit the song and sounded great! Zone conference was amazing, as always.Those are the best :) It was fun talking with President and Sister Jensen too. I used to wonder if they and the AP's knew who I was (it didn't bother me, I just knew they have tons of missionaries) but I realized this time that they really do know who I am, and they even know of a lot of the people we teach. It made me love them even more :) I really liked the training by the assistants, which was on remembering our motivation for why we decided to serve missions, and finding that motivation to serve every day. I needed that little reminder :) I also loved President Jeppson's (counselor in the mission presidency). This was his last Zone Conference before being released, so his talk was kind of his "last words" - and it was SO powerful. Reminded me of Elder Holland. It made me want to serve better and develop greater faith in Jesus Christ! Of course President and Sister Jensen's trainings were awesome too. President is hilarious, and I love how he is growing more confident in his calling and his personality is totally coming out now :) 
At Zone Conference
After zone conference, we went on exchanges with the Des Moines sisters for that evening and the next day, which was fun because it was my first time doing exchanges with the sister training leaders in their area! Des Moines is a fun city...but Sister Browne and I felt super overwhelmed at times haha! We were like...why is everything so big and busy?! You'd think we lived in the country/in little towns our whole life...we'd try waving at people and they'd look at us like we were crazy! (ok not ALL of them...but many!) One fun thing was on Wednesday, when I was with Sister Dixon and we went to a big apartment complex where a ton of African refugees live. There were little African kids running around everywhere, and we got to talk with/teach a Sudanese mom and her daughter, and a Liberian man and his daughter. It's crazy how different each area within the same mission is! Oh and Sis Browne and I also got to spend some p-day time in Des Moines, so we got to see the capitol and go to the mall to run some errands, which was kind of fun.

At the State Capitol

But, we were happy to get back to Lamoni :) And it was funny because the next few days, we had so many "hick" moments! During our lunch hour on Thursday, we dropped in at the sale barn and watched the cattle auction for about 20 minutes. It was so cool! We stuck out like sore thumbs - two girls in brightly colored skirts among a bunch of farmers and Amish men haha. I loved it though. We also helped put up a bunch of American flags at the Rose Hill Cemetery, commemorating veterans from Lamoni for Memorial Day. Then we went to a couple's house just outside of town, where they showed us their sheep, including their baby sheep, and their HUGE dogs. Then a day or two later, we happened to drive by a truck mud racing event that was going on. We watched from our car for like 2 minutes. It was fun to see :) Oh and we helped Sis VanDerLinden put together her new lawn mower, mow her lawn, and trim her trees :) 

We have still been talking to a special investigator of ours on most nights, and she and her mom went to church again!! On Sunday she texted us this: "SHE GAVE ME THE OK!!!! I CAN BE BAPTIZED!!!!" So hopefully we'll be having a baptism on Sunday!!

We also started teaching a nine year old. She has been coming to church with her grandparents ever since they were baptized last month. She went to church with another friend last week, and said she didn't like it as much so she's coming here from now on haha. She came up to us at church and said she wants to be baptized, and her parents are fine with it, so we are teaching her! Hopefully her parents will come around too, it would be nice for them all to be unified. 

Apparently I sang in my sleep the other night haha! Sis Browne said that I took out my retainer, sang an entire verse of "Onward Christian Soldiers," and then said something like, "I really like that song because you can really feel the Spirit when you sing it" hahaha. Missionary dreams are so strange sometimes!

Like I said, Sis Browne and I had a fun Memorial Day yesterday. It was p-day, which always makes it fun haha, and the Slayton's invited us over for lunch. That was delicious and so fun to be with them. But then we were also invited to another couple's home, where they had a BBQ with a bunch of other people from the town. So we were getting pretty full haha. We played some softball, which was fun except that we were in our skirts so that was not so fun haha. THEN, in the evening, we went to the Bishop family's house, where we had more grilled food and had an FHE lesson with them. I was SO full! Between that and Des Moines, it's been a bad week of eating. We're starting over again today :) (but of course, right after we decided that, we went to a lesson at Kaleigh's this morning and she had donuts just for us hahaha. We split one :) )

Other things...Sis Browne and I talked with a young woman in the ward, on Sunday during third hour. She finally opened up to us on Sunday and let us help her a little! It was so good. We visited a couple of families that evening too, and were able to have cool experiences helping them too - for example, one of the sister's inactive son was home for the weekend, and we were able to just listen to him and testify of Heavenly Father's love for him. I wasn't sure how it went, but she texted us later telling us how grateful she was for that. It is such a tender mercy every time I feel like we are able to fulfill our purpose and that I really am following the Spirit, because sometimes it's hard to tell :) We also went on a walk with another member Saturday morning, and were able to talk about some of her goals, like going to the temple, and how we can work towards those!

I love you all so much! Thank you for your letters and love and support! Things are warming up here (went from freezing to sweating haha) and Sis Browne and I are trying to talk to more people now that they are out in their yards more. I've also loved reading the General Conference talks lately. They are the best, and strengthen my testimony of the restored gospel so much! I love you!!!

Sister Whipple 

Monday, May 19, 2014

that moment when I see a picture of my little brother...

and he has facial hair! And doesn't look like my little brother anymore. That is so crazy!

 I'll admit it...sometimes I do things just
to get a good picture to send home ;)
Aaaanyways, how are you all? I am super stressed right now haha so I'm sorry if this is scattered. One of our zone leaders asked if I could accompany him for a musical number at zone conference, which is TOMORROW, and of course I said yes because I love doing that. But he's the kind who doesn't read music but can just sit down and make things up (VERY not me), so he's like, "can you play come thou fount?" and I was like, "if you get me the music I can play pretty much whatever you need"....but he didn't really have anything and kept asking if I could just make things up, etc. So anyways I found this music on lds.org that's for violin and piano, spent a bunch of time and energy and stress transposing it all into different keys, figuring out how to make it work for voice, etc...so much stress (picture me laying on the piano bench wanting to give up haha...seen that before?)...and then a few minutes ago Liz looked up music for me, and found online exactly what I need! So now I have new music and possibly that was all a waste. But I have like zero time to practice between now and then...and a bunch of stuff to do today in a small amount of time...and someone's playing obnoxious music right now hahaha. time to plug in some mo tab. life's a struggle sometimes.

oh also, we had zone training meeting on Friday - which was super fun and spiritual and I loved it! - but they said that President doesn't want us requesting to go home early because it's messing everything up. So in my weekly email to him I said that I'll stay until Jan 15th instead of coming home 2 weeks early if that's what he needs me to do. Honestly, if that's what happens it won't be all bad...I'll be able to stay out a little longer, I'll be able to actually spend a little time with yall at home, I'll study up on my accounting so I remember what debits and credits even are, and I'll probably go to Provo and get a job or two and make a bunch of money before starting school full-time! Anyways, I'll keep you posted. for now, I'm in Iowa and I love it and it's beautiful this time of year. 

Speaking of Iowa, Sis Browne made up a new saying we're trying to get started here...instead of a "couple three" that they always say, how about a "few four"? yep. that's going to happen here.

OK, update on the real stuff: 

One thing I learned this week: there are definite pros and cons to graduation and the end of the school year! Pros? um, "free boxes" galore! haha with so many students leaving, they've been getting rid of tons of stuff and Sis Browne and I have SCORED haha. I've gotten some tops, sweaters, shoes, and scarves...but probably our favorite has been the food haha. Biggest tender mercy on Thursday: we were walking to campus in the morning, after a rough night the night before, and were feeling a little discouraged, but not overly bad...anyways, we started talking about how good a homemade pizza sounded. We were having this whole discussion about how we should make a pizza, but didn't have the ingredients or know-how to make the crust, etc. We got to school and went over to a free box, and suddenly I was like, "Sister!" and pulled out an unopened package of two whole-wheat pizza crusts! Then Sis Browne looked in the box and said, "Sister!" and pulled out an unopened bottle of pizza sauce! Best thing ever. We made homemade pizza and it was absolutely delicious. Heavenly Father IS aware of us! :) oh we also got two mattress pads. score!

no, we didn't put chocolate chips on our pizza...
that was for the chocolate-covered strawberries :)
Sad part about graduation? We've said goodbye to basically all of the students except Liz (she's leaving on Thursday) :( so sad! One reason why I'm SO grateful to be stateside - I have a much better chance at seeing these people again! And I'm super grateful that so many of them should all be in Utah, at least at some point within the next year. I miss them already! Oh but it was really fun because Daniel's family was here for the week, and I got to meet them! They came from Venezuela and this is the first time Daniel's seen any of them for four year! Jeez, I thought 18 months was rough. They are the sweetest family ever! It was really fun using what tiny bit of spanish I remember. They are super patient and just so sweet. Daniel translated the stuff we couldn't understand...which was most of it :) I LOVED how the girls would hug and kiss me, and his mom would be like "hola mi amor" when she hugged me :) 
Osceola ward missionaries...a little 12 year 
old girl made us take this picture haha

As for me, besides being stressed currently haha I'm doing pretty well. We're going on exchanges in des moines tues-wed and I'm excited for that. I'm really trying to work on relying on the Lord and the power of the Atonement to carry me, because sometimes things get hard and I get discouraged and I compare myself to others and then I let Satan tell me that I'm not good enough, etc...but guess what? I'm NOT good enough, and that's OK, because I have the Atonement and the Savior on my side! So I just need to keep remembering that :) I love this gospel! I love how it changes people! I love the Osceola Ward, I love Iowa, I love spring, I love my family...I like my whole HOUSE! (if you remember where that's from, then that would make me very happy.) have a wonderful week yall ;)

Love always,
sista whipple

Monday, May 12, 2014

when you have tons of people at church, there will probably be a tornado warning

toad we found while helping a sweet lady with her garden! 
Hi family!

This week has been good but crazy! We are grateful it's p-day haha. I don't know if I would have been able to get out of bed otherwise, with how we've been going to bed late and just going non-stop. But honestly I wouldn't want it any other way - I'd much rather be busy and exhausted than not busy! 

I mentioned this yesterday, but church yesterday was insane! (there's that word for ya Dad :) ) It was so sweet. Daniel spoke in Sacrament meeting, so his friends came. So many people came! It was so stressful making sure everyone was taken care of but it was exciting too. Then, in the middle of 2nd hour, there was a tornado warning and we all had to leave the classrooms and stand in the tiny hallway and just chill there while the rain and hail pelted down like crazy! I was really excited haha :) So many miracles though!

tornado warning time = party in the hallway! 
FHE this past week was awesome. We had a fire pit at a member's house, and 13 people came! Sis Browne and I did a lesson that was basically about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis and how we each have our own weapons of war that we have to give up to the Lord in order to be able to progress, so everyone wrote down one thing they need to give up and threw it in the fire. It was fun having Brother Bair there because he's an amazing teacher and asked really good questions to get people thinking, and then afterwards while people were eating s'mores and jamming out (A girl brought her ukulele and another brought out her guitar), Br. Bair, Sis Browne, and I each talked to a few of the students who needed some one-on-one. This week has been a little bit of a roller coaster, but that's what missions are like :) Oh but it was good talking to our friends. One of them told me that that lesson was exactly what she needed and was just super sweet :)

in front of Liberty Hall, JSIII's home...
we finally got an official tour last p-day,
which was fun :)
We did get one new investigator who's NOT leaving! She is almost 15. Her older brother got baptized several years ago and is super strong in the Church, and actually lives in Ames, where Sis Browne was serving! So in this roundabout way, she already knew Sis Browne, so when she got transferred here, the girl asked specifically for Sis Browne to teach her. She is so sweet and is really excited about learning about the Church. She's actually in the elders' area, but they're being really good sports about letting us teach her. We'll probably give one of our investigators to them to teach in return...not that we're just exchanging investigators haha but it would probably be better for them to teach him anyways.

We helped plant a garden this past week! that was fun, and we felt very Iowan :)
So Proud of myself, haha

I love you all! Thanks for being so supportive of me. Thanks for all of your examples of love and service. One of my favorite feelings in the world is to be able to testify to people of Heavenly Father's love and plan for them, and to actually see the change that that makes in them! 

"I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things." 

ain't that the truth. loves!

Sister Whipple
things are turning green again!

Monday, May 5, 2014

"you should register to vote, you've been here so long."

Hey Family!

That's what a lady said to me when we saw her in town the other day haha! Maybe that's a prediction for what my transfer doctrine will be. We are waiting for the call today to hear whether I'm staying or leaving. Waiting is the worst. I really don't know what's going to happen! Most likely I'll leave little Lamoni, but there's also a possibility I'll stay. We shall see. Since I don't know yet, send any letters to the mission office, and as for mother's day...I'll just keep in mind that you have church 9-12, and will probably call to set up skype, or have a member text/call you earlier in the week. It will work out :) 

Anyways, Nauvoo was AAAMAZING!!!!! Holy cow. It was so awesome. After 10 months (?!?!?!), I was surprised by how much I needed the temple, and how much I had forgotten. It felt like I was going through for the first time, minus the shock haha and plus some additional understanding. Rewind a little...we struggled finding anyone who'd go to nauvoo and back from our ward, so we got permission to get a ride from an awesome couple from Ames, where Sis Browne served for 9 months! They were SO fun. We drove to Des Moines (did I ever mention we now get 1500 miles/month instead of 1000? best gift ever!!), where we parked at the mission office and met the couple who were to drive us to Nauvoo. 

I couldn't believe how beautiful Nauvoo was! It was also fun being in the temple with the sister who drove us - kind of felt like I was there with Mom again :) It was so wonderful, and just what I needed. Oh and it was sweet because it's a temple where you move from room to room, which was new and fun! And I finally got to see the first new temple video they made last summer - I LOVED it. After the temple, we drove around the sites a little (we didn't go into any except the bakery...naturally haha), grabbed sandwiches for lunch, then drove the 30 miles or so to Carthage, where we saw Sister Etherington!!! That was so fun. She and her sweet companion gave us a tour of the jail, which was really cool and had a special spirit. It was fun, after teaching with Sis E for 6 months, to be on the other side and actually be taught by her! Then we drove back, saw the Nauvoo visitor's center a little, and grabbed dinner on the way home.

We ended up getting back to Des Moines super late - 10:30 - so instead of driving back to Lamoni, we stayed the night at the mission home! I was nervous that we'd get reprimanded for being late, but Pres and Sis Jensen were SO nice. When we got there, Sis Jensen was in her pink robe and made sure we had everything and put us right to bed :) then in the morning, she had breakfast put out for us! It was SO fun to spend a little time with the two of them before heading out again. It felt like we were spending the weekend at mom and dad's house :) President was starting transfer planning that day, so he showed us a little about how he does it all. It was so fun.

Other things this week...
  • Sis Browne has been a great example to me of how to just love other people. It is neat to see sometimes how we can fulfill our purpose as missionaries in ways other than how I ever imagined.
  • Primary yesterday was nuts! NONE of the primary presidency was there and none of the junior primary teachers were there! And none of the music people were there! haha it was insane. So for the first hour of primary, I played piano and another lady stepped in to lead and the elders taught sharing time. For the second hour of primary, Sis Browne and I taught ALL of junior primary - ages 3-8! It was stressful but Heavenly Father helped us out. We hadn't even had any time to prepare because it had been a rough morning and I suddenly was just hit with so much stress, so by the time we got to the class time, we were left to basically improvise. It worked out :) and I worked through my stress. It was just one of those days, but it wasn't bad.
  • We made dark chocolate-covered strawberries for a somewhat healthy treat! They were soooo good. 
  • I love small towns! They are so funny. Prom here is HUGE, and we saw the first part and the tail-end of the "promenade," which is where each couple drives in and then walks into the school, and it's like a parade. I'm so glad that wasn't what it was like for me but it was crazy to see how the whole town was into it. And we saw the very last couple go in...on a tractor! Don't worry, I got a picture...
  • they are also very much into graduation parties here. We went to a grad party for a young man after church yesterday, which was basically like a ward party with a few nonmembers in their backyard, so it was awesome! We got to strengthen our relationships with the members and have good contacts with nonmembers. 
  • On Saturday, we ate "brunch" at the Commons with a bunch of the students, including our good friend! It was good to see her again. It was really fun being with all of them.

That's it :) I love you all! I am so grateful for the Priesthood and for temples and the restored gospel! I know it's true. It's amazing! And so are you! 

Sister Whipple

PS. I forgot to tell you the story of that turtle...long story somewhat short, we saw the turtle and pulled over to take pics with it, then left to go home and eat lunch. Sis Browne said that we should go back and "save" it, which I thought was ridiculous and I wanted to go eat because I was starving haha, but finally decided it would make a good story. So we went back and it was about halfway across the road. We pulled over, got out, and right as we were about to go "save" it, a car whizzed by and completely smashed it. Sis Browne squeeled and we both looked away. It was very traumatic. But also...sort of hilarious too. So then we got into our car and drove away and tried not to look at the dead turtle in the road.

In memory of my friend from BYU!

Sis Browne and I knelt to pray and ended up taking
pics of each other instead haha