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!

Love,
Sister Whipple

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