Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sister Whipple goes from small-town Iowa...

...to urban life in Des Moines! That's right, Daniel guessed it right haha and I am serving in the heart of the capitol. It is awesome, and everything that made Lamoni Lamoni is NOT what makes Des Moines Des Moines hahaha. So, so different. But so fun.

I hardly even know what to write about...we have been so busy and things have been so crazy that it all seems like a blur, and I haven't even been able to write in my journal (which is stressing me out like crazy haha). I think I'll just try going through my week again...

Mon, June 16: did service at the concession stands at the baseball games (summer ball is huge in Lamoni), got a new investigator, and had dinner with a wonderful family and heard all their crazy stories of broken/shattered bones, limbs getting chopped off, and bullets going through TV's...all a result of living in the country with a family of 6 boys. Finally got the transfer call at like 10:15 that told me I'd be leaving.

Tues: Last lessons with three different ladies and had dinner with Marjie.

Wed: Packed all day (p-day), then went to Mt Pisgah for a fun ward activity put on by the primary. I got eated alive and we were attacked by cicadas, but it was beautiful and so fun to be there with the ward the night before leaving! So, that was perfect.

Thurs: Transfers! Went to Iowa City, was super nervous, then was relieved when I found out I was going to DSM, serving with Sister Dixon - who has been my sister training leader twice and with whom I've done exchanges twice! And I've done exchanges in DSM a couple of times, so it didn't seem like such a big change. This is my first time having a companion who's been out for more than 6 weeks longer than I have, so it will be fun to learn from her! She is actually in her last transfer, so she will die in DSM and I will get a new companion July 31. Which is kind of stressful because DSM is HUGE (by Iowa standards), and I have to try to learn everything I can in this transfer - and you all know how directionally challenged I am! Also, since she is a sister training leader, and one of the hermanas serving here is her STL companion, they will be gone on exchanges and for other things a lot, so the other Hermana (Hermana Foster) and I will be covering both our areas here when they leave. aka it's going to get crazy here, and is pretty stressful! But it will be good. And Hermana Foster is really sweet. And who knows, maybe I'll get to go to some Spanish lessons - that would be AWESOME! Anyways, our first night in DSM was fun. We spent the evening with Sister Broome, who opened the sister area in DSM last August. She went home the next day, so we took her around DSM and then had root beer floats with her and President and Sister Jensen in the mission home. Perks of serving in DSM!

Fri: First full day in DSM was exhausting but good! It was amazing to see how Heavenly Father led us throughout the day. We had several appointments but they kept falling through and people kept not being home...but we kept being led to where we were needed, which was so sweet. OH! One thing to know about DSM...there are TONS of Africans here! I guess I told you that before...but it is so fun and crazy! So, we went to Oakridge, which is a huge complex that is literally almost 100% Africans (Sis Dixon said there are two non-African residents, and that's it). Most are refugees from Liberia and Sudan. Whenever we go, the African kids flock around us and talk to us and ask us for "Jesus pictures" or "God pictures" (pass-along cards). It is stressful though because it's hard to know what to do. Almost anyone will listen to us, and I know that everyone needs the gospel, but almost every person who's gotten baptized out of Oakridge is inactive - it is just so hard to keep them. So it's so hard to know who to talk to and who is actually interested and prepared versus who is just polite or curious, etc. Anyways, we went to visit a lady, but she wasn't there...so instead we talked to her neighbor. She hardly spoke any English, but we told her about the gospel of Jesus Christ and showed her pictures from the pamphlet. She is from Sudan, has scars all over her face and arms, has 8 kids with one on the way, and kept saying how hard it is to live in America and how tired she is. Poor lady - it made me sad! :( Later, we went to a house in a different part of the city to visit another inactive African convert. She wasn't there, but her brother was. He said he was baptized last April in New Jersey, moved here 2 weeks ago, and has been trying to find the church! Then we were also able to talk to their older sister, who is a student at DMAC (community college), and who seemed really interested! We had a lesson with her on her porch and she became a new investigator :) They were going to come to church but she got sick...but she said they'll come next week :)

Speaking of inactives....it is so crazy here. Our ward directory is 28 pages long and there are some pages that don't have a single active member on it! So, tons of less-active work. We are trying to find a balance - because it is important to reactivate those who are not active, but we are also here to find new people to bring into the gospel...but the ward is a little wary of so many new people when they don't stay active. There are also tons of part-member families, so we are focusing a lot on those because then we can get both - reactivate those who are inactive and baptize those who aren't members. Ideally :)

Saturday: We got up at 5:30 and volunteered with our district at the mud run as part of the Iowa Games! That was fun. Then we had our get-to-know-you district meeting...and guess who's my district leader? Elder Wardle!! Right?! So crazy. haha he's great, it's cool to see how much he's grown and to actually have him as one of my leaders! Elder Wardle and his companion, as well as the senior couple Elder and Sister Craypo, both serve in the Des Moines Ward as well. But we don't have boundaries so it's free-for-all haha! Which could be kind of crazy but actually works pretty well here. We focus on the sisters, the elders focus on the men, the Craypo's focus on inactives (though there are so many that we all do that), and the rest is just kind of whoever finds them first haha.

Anyways, on Saturday we also taught a really sweet less-active African. Love her. She, along with another lady we met with have super strong testimonies, and will hopefully be coming to church starting July. They work at the same place and work really long hours, but they've both been praying to be able to come to work and their hours are changing in July so that they don't work Sunday!!!! yay. We also had dinner with some members, the Allen's, who are a young couple and he is doing his residency here.

Speaking of which...this ward! Sooo different than Osceola Ward haha. Whereas Osceola had tons of older people, farmers, and some families, Des Moines Ward is basically a TON of young couples here for med school/residency, Africans, and just a couple of stable families. There are also some people from Burma/Myanmar. DSM is super diverse, and I love it! :)

Sunday: Church was fun, kind of crazy trying to learn as many people as possible. I made sure to take tons of stalker notes in my planner to try to remember people haha. We also found a new investigator! He is Liberian, and it is actually super cool because we found him initially last time I was here in Des Moines on exchanges! He was the one we talked to and taught his daughter how to pray. They hadn't been able to find him since, but we found him again the other day and then taught him on Sunday, and he LOVED it! He said he's gone to a few churches around DSM (there are tons) but wants to find one that he can actually belong to. We invited him to be baptized and he's really excited and is coming to a baptism here on Saturday. I'm stoked! Speaking of baptisms, a girl I had been working with in Lamoni is getting baptized in Osceola on Saturday! I reallllllly want to go, and I'm not too far and should be able to get permission pretty easily, but we have a ton of stuff going on on Saturday and I'm not sure yet if we'll be able to swing it. I'm praying we will though!

And that...that's about it haha. One downside of transferring is in Lamoni, Sis Browne and I shared food, so I didn't really bring any with me to Des Moines...but so far we don't really share food here so now I have no money because I'm having to restock all my food haha...so, lots of PB&J's this week for me!

I don't have any pics from Des Moines yet, sorry...but here are some from Osceola!

riding on a cart thing pulled by a huge John Deere tractor for a tour through mt. Pisgah...that girl is the granddaughter of a member in our ward. I absolutely love her.

I love you all! Thanks for your prayers this week - I know they helped a ton. Keep smiling, the gospel's true!

Sister Whipple

Monday, June 16, 2014

transfer calls: may the odds be forever in your favor...


I look like a midget in this
little pioneer house replica!

Another day of transfer calls = another day of waiting, jumping at every text/call, sleepless nights, weird dreams, etc. It will be over soon! And I basically know I'll be getting transferred, so I don't know WHY I get so stressed about it...gah! This is going to be hard for me. I should be headed to Iowa City for transfer meeting and then who knows where on Thursday. Pray for me! :)

Anyways, this has been an interesting week! I'm just going to go through the days, because I didn't have time to make a list so I'm just going through my planner...

Mon: went to Mt. Pisgah for FHE with a few families (Mt. Pisgah is a pioneer site along the Mormon trail). We rode in a family's blue Jeep Wrangler...it was sweet haha! I think they really enjoyed being there with the other families. And the elders made carne asada :)

Tues: normal missionary day :) Had a really good lesson with a lady who just accepted a job in a different city and will be moving soon. Darn! We also took a new student to M's to meet her, since M is like the Lamoni mom :) And we taught them a cool object lesson about faith...you balance a Bigelow's tea bag on your hand (it's shaped like a chute when you empty all the tea out of the bag), and then light it on fire. It's super scary because the fire travels down the chute towards your hand and it feels like your hand is going to get burned, but right before the fire touches your hand, the tea bag floats up and incinerates! Fun times. We've used it a few times this week to teach about having faith!

Wed: went with the lady who runs the food pantry to deliver food to the cutest Amish family! It was so awesome. They were the sweetest family and had the cutest house. Those people live HARD lives though! We did other missionary work, and then in the evening went to dinner with the new student I spoke of above. The guy who took our order was really nice so we talked to him a little about the gospel, and we are teaching him for the first time tonight! 

Thurs: Had my last district mtg in the Osceola district! I remember when I first got here, I thought they were the weirdest elders hahaha. I love them! We also had a first lesson with a 31-year-old lady who is now a new investigator. She lives in Weldon, which is about halfway between Lamoni and Osceola. We also taught another gal, and set a baptismal date for her for July 26

Fri-Sat: Ok so Friday and Saturday we had "mini missions," which is something I did in the first week or so of my mission (in Dubuque). Only this time, we had FOUR young women come to Lamoni to be with us! It was soooo stressful haha. Many tears were shed while trying to plan and figure things out haha...but also a lot of laughter. After the first day, Sister Browne was saying the companionship prayer and she was like, "thank you that mini missions are almost over, we really are very grateful" and we almost lost it. It actually worked out well and I think was a good experience for the girls, it is just crazy trying to put it together. These four girls were 16-17 year olds from the stake, and were supposed to stay in Lamoni with a member for the weekend. Only, all our members were gone, and the one member who said she could house them had to cancel Thursday morning! So finally, Br. Bair (in Osceola) said they could house the girls there, which meant they had to drive back and forth from Osceola Friday night, Saturday morning, and Saturday evening. Sister Browne and I each took two young women, and split the area. They were really good girls. It was actually kind of a tender mercy because being with them made me realize how far I've come haha...I'm NOT as bad at finding and talking to and teaching people as maybe I thought I was, haha! And it was funny trying to find them food (our only meal appointment fell through) because I'm so used to eating random food but they're used to actual meals, so we did our best to feed them but hopefully they weren't starving haha. For example...I offered them hamburger patties and hotdogs that we had been given, and they asked if we had buns, which we didn't, and they kind of laughed and looked at us like, "how is it possible that they don't even have buns to eat with their hamburgers?!" and I'm like, welcome to the life! haha. It was fun. Thankfully we had two teaching appointments on Friday, and had found a potential investigator while tracting in Leon! So the girls were pretty excited about that. Then on Saturday, we did service, had a lesson, and did a tiny bit of tracting (just so the other girls could have the experience). It was exhausting because I pretty much had to do it all on my own, plus find ways to help the Young Women feel like they could participate by asking them questions and helping them know what to say. Sister Browne and I were happy to be back together at the end of Saturday!

During the "mini-mission." What blew my mind was 
when I realized that if KJ were here, SHE would 

have been on a mini mission...holy cow! :)
Sat-Sun: STAKE CONFERENCE!!! So fun, I love stake conference...and basically any reason for a road trip to Des Moines! Saturday's session was great, and President Jensen had his two assistants, Sister Browne, and me participate in a panel! He just asked us questions about what we did to prepare for a mission, what we wish we had done to prepare, and what the sweetest experience of our mission has been. I didn't feel like I was able to say quite what I wanted to, but I was grateful for the opportunity to participate - and it made me feel like President trusts us if he asked us to do that. There were some super awesome talks. I really liked one by President Giles (counselor in stake presidency) about overcoming the natural tendency to compare ourselves to others, and the ones by Elder Real of the 70. He talked a lot about the Atonement and just bore super powerful testimony of the reality of forgiveness and healing through the Atonement. We said good-bye to our mini missionaries at stake conference, and they were so sweet! I hope they had a good experience. Sister Browne and I stayed in Des Moines Saturday night, and then went to Bishop and Sister Graves' house after the Sunday session for a delicious lunch/dinner. 

Lamoni has been so, so good to me. I love it here. It is beautiful and the people are wonderful. I know there are good things ahead, but I also know that I am so comfortable here and I am about to get pulled right out of that comfort zone! It will be good for me though. Miracles come out of challenges! I love you all so much. 

And, I love this gospel! Oh, speaking of which, I had a light bulb moment this week. People often say to us things about how God wouldn't make just one true church or just one way to get back to heaven, because we are all very different, and I have often had a hard time answering that well. Sister Browne said the other day something along the lines of, "yes, we are all very different. However, no matter what your needs, there is ALWAYS something in the gospel that will meet those needs. And THAT is why this Church and this gospel is true!" duh! 

No matter who you are, the gospel is for you. The invitation is the same to all: come and see. I love you!

Sister Whipple

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"it was fantastical!"

apparently I'm still 12 years old. but hey, the corn is growin'! "knee high by the 4th of July" is what they say around here haha


Well, it actually, finally happened...Seaka got baptized!!! It was so amazing :) She was glowing! I have never seen her so happy before. Her mom, cousin, and best friend all drove up from Kansas City to support her - and they were AWESOME! Her mom especially was HILARIOUS. holy cow. I can't believe I didn't get a picture with her...but she was so funny. Also really awesome...she (Seaka's mom) told us that her mom (Seaka's grandma) is super opposed to Seaka getting baptized, and couldn't believe that they were all supporting her. And Seaka's mom was like, "I'm going to let my girl make her own decision! Do I think she's doing the right thing? Yes! Because she's happy!" So grateful. And guess who else came from Missouri? Megan Poppa and Liz Sweet, who both gave talks!!! It was sooo fun to see them all again. Br. Hibbs, the gospel principles teacher, even offered to make lunch, which was awesome. The baptism was on Saturday at noon, and Bishop Graves warned us that attendance would probably be really low...but we called basically every single active member and many who are less-active, and the attendance was great under the circumstances! I heard Bishop say to the assistant ward mission leader, "I think the sisters set out to prove me wrong!" haha.

Anyways, it was just awesome. The Spirit was so strong and Seaka was so happy (that is her quote in the subject line re. her baptism :) ). Br. Acland baptized and confirmed her, which was sweet because they were the ones who brought her to the ward Christmas party in December. Sis Verro gave her flowers. It was just really nice. We talked to Seaka last night, and she was still feeling great, and went to church even though she went by herself! She is doing so great. Miracles are so real!

Another highlight was on Tuesday when we were at a lady's house teaching her 8-year-old daughter, and tornado warnings went off! Haha it was so crazy, with the wind and hail and rain and everything. Sis Browne and I were pumped. haha but the lady was so stressed and the kids were freaking out, so we helped get the kids downstairs into the basement, where we hung out with the spiders for a while and tried to distract the kids. It didn't touch down in Lamoni, but it was a fun adventure, and lots of people called/texted us to make sure we were in a safe place, which made me feel good. We were a little nervous going to bed that night because there were still tornado warnings and I sleep right next to a huge window and we don't have a basement hahaha...but the worst part was over and we (obviously) were fine. Though it was pretty funny when at about 2:30 AM there was the hugest crack of thunder I've ever heard, and Sis Browne and I both shot up and I was like, "HOLY MOSES!" haha I was pretty shaken up, so I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, put on my glasses, and looked out the window for a little. Naturally, the weather the next day was beautiful.

Other things...
  • We met with a lot of members and are especially trying to strengthen the young women, so that was fun. One evening Sis. Browne felt like we should go see a certain lady and so we called her and she was totally needing a visit! We were able to help her out a bit with issues she was struggling with, and turn her to Heavenly Father and the Savior (she looks for help from anyone but Heavenly Father, because she gets scared). I love it when we are able to do that - just turn people to the Lord. She is an amazing woman, I love her! She says they're adopting us. Don't worry Mom and Dad, I won't let them - but I do have somewhere to stay if I ever come back and visit haha!
  • We had zone training meeting, which was awesome! Learned about repentance, motivation, and using dignified language. I'm working on cleaning up my language more - don't worry, I'm not a swearing missionary or anything haha, but sometimes it's easy to get casual with my language (especially when I'm really close with my companion and we have a lot of fun), and I realized the need to use more dignified words so that I can have the Spirit with me more and act as a representative of Jesus Christ! 
happy peve! (p-day eve)
  • We had an interesting lesson with the director of the service center (thrift store). Like I said last week, he's a Restorationist. Which basically means that he believes almost everything that we do, only he believes that the prophet will be a descendant of JS, and that we don't have that right now because as a church they have gone astray and aren't living worthy of a prophet, and so are in apostasy again. It was hard because we tried so hard to show him that we do have a prophet, and that all he has to do is ask, seek, and knock - just like he did with the Book of Mormon and how he knows so firmly that that is true. But he really doesn't seem to even be open to the idea. It was cool though because he told us that he listens to us because he respects us, and he knows that we represent Jesus Christ because of how we serve in the community. That made me feel really good because it made me realize that the time we spend volunteering really does make a difference!
    A pillowcase gift!
  • Another cool experience somewhat similar to that happened last Monday evening. We went over to a family's home to teach their 20 year old daughter how to play chair soccer and another game, because she's in charge of putting together these community activities and asked us to show her. I was kind of wondering if it was worth our time, but I'm glad we went! After showing her for a little, the dad walked outside and sat on a lawn chair and started talking to us. He tried to get us to skip church on Sunday (haha) to come to the CoC church and have an "interview" with him - in front of the church! - about what motivates us to do what we do, etc. He and his daughter told us about how they look up to us and really do see us as representatives of Jesus Christ. It was really neat. He seems to have a lot of sincere questions, and we told him that even though we wouldn't be able to get out of going to church to go to his, we'd love to meet with him one-on-one and answer his questions. Hopefully he will let us this week!
  • We had another lesson with another CoC couple. They were very nice, and he asked us lots of questions about women and the Priesthood, though he didn't agree with anything we said. I'm grateful that I have received so much more clarity on that subject than I once had, and that I have had to struggle through some of those questions to prepare me to come here! They were nice but not really receptive, which made it funny when before we left, the husband asked us what we think the probability is that they will ever convert. Sister Browne said something like, "higher than you think, because it's true!" haha it was awesome, she kind of blew me away with her boldness, but wasn't overbearing and it worked in the situation :)
  • We went over to our 15 year old investigator's house and spent some time getting to know her mom, which was good. Then the girl came to church on Sunday! yay!
  • We had a mission fast on Saturday, which was a good experience. We've been fasting more lately, and it's seemed to be easier for me! My testimony of fasting is definitely growing :)
  • My jaw has been feeling better for the most part, but yesterday it was awful. So I asked my district leader to give me a blessing, which he (and the other elders) did after church. I've been feeling a lot better :) I also finally got allergy medicine, which was much-needed and which has helped a lot!

What else...oh yeah...HAPPY FATHER'S DAY on Sunday!!! Dad, you are the best dad I could ever ask for! I always knew I am super blessed, but I didn't realize until I came out here just how rare a good dad is - seriously. Thank you so much for everything you are and do for our family! I love you!!!

This is my last full week in Lamoni, unless something crazy happens! Which means that since Sunday is stake conference, yesterday was my last Sunday just in the Osceola Ward. I have learned so much here and (hopefully) changed a lot too! I am grateful for the Atonement that allows us to change and improve. I'm grateful for the times in our lives that we have to turn to Heavenly Father and learn to rely on Him more. and I'm grateful for all of you! Thanks for supporting me so much! And for being awesome examples! I love you!

Sister Whipple

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014= The year of the cicadas...aka The Plague

Hey all!
I didn't think about ticks and chiggers before I scampered in there to take the
picture...but I think I'm ok :)
were we stoked when we saw this tractor thing chilling on the side
of the road this morning? yes, we very much were.
So, Iowa is crazy! Apparently (now, I don't really know what's true and what's not because people tell us all sorts of things, and we can't look them up on our own to figure it out haha) once every 17 years, the cicadas come out from being burrowed beneath the ground, and THIS is the year. They are EVERYWHERE! I wish I got a picture the other morning when the shells (because they shed their shells) were ALL over the street, and we were slightly freaking out. We thought that was bad...and then suddenly these locust things were everywhere, flying around and attaching themselves to every tree and wall and...bah! Where am I, Africa?! It's funny though, and they are super loud. Look it up for me if you please, maybe you'll be able to tell me what's going on ;)  Anyways, I have a new-found appreciation for those poor Egyptians/Israelites during the plagues!

Huge sheep dog!
Nothing too huge for this past week, but lots of little things. So I'll bullet-point it :)
  • There was a miscommunication with one of our investigators, so she is actually getting baptized THIS Saturday (not yesterday)!! We are so excited. We talk to her on the phone every night, and she sounds happier than she has ever sounded to me. A man in our ward is going to baptize her - he and his wife were the ones who brought her to the ward Christmas party last year, which is how we met her in the first place :) go member missionary work and ward parties! :)
  • We go on walks with a sweet lady every Saturday now, which is great because we're able to work through a lot of things then! She makes me happy :)
Linden Street, one of the cutest streets in town. Which is funny because
 here it looks like I'm in South America or something hahaha
  • New investigator! She's from Colombia, is a student in Alabama, and is here with her friend for the summer. She is pretty sweet! Let's hope she hangs in there! :)
  • Another tender mercy... a member who's probably about 24, just moved here for the summer to do pasteural (sp?) research for her master's program! All our member students left, and Heavenly Father blessed us with her :) She's so sweet! We just met her at church yesterday, but we're excited to get to know her and take us teaching with us hopefully!
  • We gave a Family Proclamation and Living Christ to the director of the service center. He's a Restorationist and asks us lots of questions. He loved what we gave him, and we ended up having a mini lesson right there in the service center. Hopefully we'll keep getting to work with him!
  • My allergies are killing me here...yay for humidity! I just keep pouring eye drops in my eyes though, so that's helping haha.
  • We dropped by the ward mission leader's house the other day to talk to him, but when we got there, he was outside on his phone and just said that his wife was in the house and we could go on inside. We walked inside and it was completely silent and empty...which is a big deal because they have 5 boys haha. It was so funny. We walked around being like, "Sister 'B'? 'B' family? Hello?" We felt super awkward...so then we were like, "well...let's do the dishes!" So we did their dishes and then she came out (she had fallen asleep in her room haha) and we had a good time talking to her and her husband :) I was worried about offending her by doing her dishes, but I thought about Mom and if the sister missionaries came over, I don't think she would get mad if they did her dishes....so hopefully that was OK? 

There were other little things too of course, but I think that's good for now :) We are happy here, I love working with Sister Browne because we are both able to help each other in different ways! I'm so grateful for this gospel and I know that it's true! Thanks for being the best ever :) I love you!!!

Sister Whipple
Cattle Auction!

Memorial day flags at the cemetery.