Monday, October 27, 2014

Code Red

Sister Barker and me :) after our hard meeting with the Drake people. We took a tini break to swing on the swings and decompress, because it was super stressful.

Hello!

The Des Moines Ward is Code Red, all the time haha! It is so crazy. I feel like we're always running around with our heads chopped off. It is good though - and people came to church again! Here's the final count for people at church this Sunday (again, I am not using names to respect privacy):
  • Lady #1: so much crazy stuff happened and she got there about 5 minutes before the end of Sacrament Meeting...but she stayed through until the end! We didn't see her and thought that she had gotten stressed and left, and then she walked into Relief Society just beaming - our sweet member Sister S had seen her and taken her to Sunday School with her! Thank you wonderful members.
  • A family of three: I so wish I could have snagged a picture with them - their African get-ups were so beautiful! I wish I could portray to you how crazy and funny the mom is...she pays her tithing, orders the other African kids to get to class (even though she doesn't even know them...but they're African so it's kosher), signs up to go on the Relief Society temple trip because she can't read but wants to be involved in everything, and tells us that we need to introduce her to everyone and tell her everything because she wants to know everything! And then she falls asleep in all her classes hahaha
  • A lady and her three kids, ages 11, 9, and 7.(9): I can't even tell you how much I love those kids! Especially the boys. They got lost on the way to the church so they were about 50 minutes late haha...but we had stepped out of Sacrament meeting because we saw that she had called, and when we walked out we saw them pull in. Which was perfect because there were seriously NO seats left so we had to frantically set up some more chairs AND open the back area to the overflow...so much stress haha! I wish I could have gotten a picture with them too (the mom got called into work and had to leave early) - they were all matching and wearing beautiful dresses and suits. Let me tell ya, Africans know how to wear their Sunday best!
  • A recently baptized couple: They haven't been coming to church because their mom has been working every Sunday. We stopped by their house on Saturday and caught the husband playing outside and got to talk to just him for a while, which was good. He's having a hard time letting people come and pick them up, but we talked to him about who he would feel comfortable getting him, and he finally came up with the sweet Burgess family (they have two boys in young men's), so we helped him send Sister Burgess a text asking for a ride. Of course, she is incredible and bent over backward to pick them up, and it warmed my heart so much to see all those kids interacting and having a good time. I am so grateful to them!
  • Lady #3 and her 7 year old son: She came! It's a miracle! Operation Cinnamon Roll once again haha. We were hoping her boys would come, but she said that they will next week for sure. I'm just super proud of her for coming at all honestly. And it was great to see the members know and reach out to her :)
  • Lady #4: Still the most incredible lady. She loved church and told us that she's reading the Book of Mormon we gave her and is in 2 Nephi already!
The only big disappointment was that two of the people I talked about in my letter last week didn't come this week, but we'll work with them and see what's going on. We have hope for them still :)

Other things from this week:
  • We got our flu shots at HyVee, and the doctor was the sweetest man. He is Jewish and was wearing the little cap that I can't remember the name of, and he was like, "are you the missionaries who pay your way to be out here?" When we answered in the affirmative, he said that we didn't need to pay anything (even though I would have had a co-pay) and he gave us our shots for free! It seriously warmed my heart so much. It was a little thing but just felt like Heavenly Father was watching out for us, and made me grateful for wonderful people in the world :)
  • Which was nice because right after that, we had a much more difficult interaction. Throughout a series of events, we were finally able to get in contact with Drake's Campus Fellowship group, hoping to help with some service projects, Bible studies, or whatever (kind of like what we'd do with Graceland in Lamoni). The guy in charge of that group asked if we could meet up and talk, so we met him and two students he brought at some coffee shop. We thought it would be a discussion of how we could help, but he ended up just drilling us with all kinds of questions about Church doctrine and such, and then telling us that he can't really have us help because we differ in key ways on key points of doctrine. It was just sad because we were just trying to help, and he kind of blind-sided us and it felt like a trick. I wasn't too phased by it though. We did our best to testify of the truths of the gospel and share what we know to be true, we felt the Spirit, and we hope that the guys who were there felt it too.
  • Sister Pymm made us curry rice again because she knows it's my favorite. So, I took a picture :) She's so great :)
curry rice, along with their cute daughter!
  • We had an exchange with the Winterset sisters (Howard & Stapley), in which they both came here and we "blitzed" Des Moines. Blitzes are always stressful to plan, but it worked out and between the two companionships, we got 10 lessons total taught that day! I went with Sister Stapley, and we had a good time teaching a lady, serving a sister who is a paraplegic by washing dishes and folding clothes, teaching our Karen/Thai family and reading from the Bible with them (and eating some Karen fishy noodles that were pretty yummy), having dinner with a sweet sister, and teaching a lady and her family about the importance of coming to church (which worked!).

Frog egg soup!
  • On Friday we went to a lady's house and her son fed us food too...almost positive it was some kind of frog-egg soup. It was...umm...pretty bad haha! Tender mercy that it was in a disposable bowl though because we ate as much as we could, and then just took the rest with us and threw it away (but not until after we showed the hermanas hahaha). Honestly I was pretty excited about finally having a crazy food story from my mission haha! Poor Sister Barker almost threw up though, it was so funny. But don't worry, we held it together ;)
frog-egg soup, along with some unknown wormy things in it. I wish I hadn't slurped up the super dark purple wormy thing that was in my bowl so I could have taken a picture of it too!

    A lady we teach likes to take pictures of us when we teach haha...here we are teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ using some fun pictures/story that the hermanas taught us.
  • A lady we have been working with moved her baptismal date up to November 15!! :)
  • I had the most delicious meal last night at the Simon's. She made butternut squash/sweet potato soup, with make-it-yourself fancy grilled cheese on fancy bread with grilled peppers and pesto and all sorts of good stuff. I love fall foods!
Wooh! This week will be crazy, I'm looking forward to it! We have Mission Leadership Conference, zone training meetings, "beggar's night" (aka we have to be in by 6, or with members), and Halloween all in one week. Should be fun!

I studied from My Purpose in Preach My Gospel this week. No matter how many times I read from that, I always learn something new! I am so grateful for this gospel - it really is the only way to be cleansed from our sins and to return back to our Heavenly Father to live with Him and our families for eternity. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this with others and work to bring them unto Christ!

I love you all:)

Sister Whipple







Monday, October 20, 2014

when it rains, it pours!



Hello!

Well, our drought finally seemed to come to an end - we had FOUR investigators at church, plus less-actives! Ahhh miracles!!! Here is the list (Names have been removed for confidentiality):
  • Lady 1: Bringing cinnamon rolls to her Sunday morning worked! So glad she came.
  • Our 9-year-old investigator...even more amazing, her inactive mom, brought her, along with her mother! It was incredible because when we first met with them, the girl's mom said she wouldn't come to church but would find her daughter a ride, but then she just brought her herself! And it was wonderful because she grew up here, so there were several people at church who knew and recognized her and just showered her with love, and she seemed really happy :)
  • Lady 2 came with her kids ages 9 and 5, and we didn't even have to go get her Sunday morning! And...she totally paid tithing - I didn't know you could do that if you're not a member, but she grabbed a tithing envelope, put some money in it, and was like, "I need to pay my tithes" (we haven't taught her the commandments yet!) so I just pointed out the bishop to her and let him take care of it haha. She said she hopes to come every week!
  • Lady 3, the sweetest inactive member I have ever met. Her records showed up a little bit ago so the Relief Society president asked us if we'd go check up on her. She lives in a group home, and Sis. Barker visited with her when she was on exchanges a few weeks ago, and then we went together on Tuesday. This lady is seriously incredible. I don't know the last time she's gone to church, but she served a mission years ago and was previously sealed in the temple, but that marriage ended and at some point she seemed to just lose contact with the church. Her most recent husband, who wasn't a member, passed away a few months ago, and she felt like she had been forgotten about...until Sis. Barker showed up last week :) We are teaching her the lessons again and she has the strongest, most sincere testimony. She will just sit there and say things like "I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know Heavenly Father loves me. I love Him so much" with tears in her eyes. It was such a spiritual experience to be there with her. She wants to come back so badly, and she is taking the steps to do so!
That's the most exciting news of the week :) Here are some other highlights:
  • Fall has been beautiful :)
  • We went bowling on Monday again and I had a good time :) Though, I was SO mad after the first round because I was SO close to breaking 100, but then my very last bowl went into the gutter and I finished with a 98! I couldn't believe it haha.
  • We had a "movie night" with a lady and her two kids and watched "The Testaments" with them. They are struggling a little - she is having to work every Sunday now so getting the two kids to church has been a really big struggle, and when they don't come to church, the struggles at home just escalade...I'm definitely gaining a testimony of the importance of church attendance, that's for sure! But, watching the movie with them was fun and will hopefully get them more excited about reading the Book of Mormon. Also, it's definitely one of the more quotable movies - Sis Barker and I have been quoting it all week now :) (she's a movie quote master)
  • We had a really good lesson with the family we met last week! We taught them English, then taught them about the Godhead using a cups and knives object lesson. They asked good questions and actually seemed really interested. Plus, I think my favorite way to teach is definitely with us all sitting on the floor - it just seems so much more comfortable for all of us!
  • We also had a good lesson with a lady. She is focusing in our lessons more and more, and seems to be really touched by how much her young kids are learning. She loves us and is always like, "come in, sister missionaries!" I highly doubt any African knows my name haha.
  • We've had some good lessons with another lady too. We've been emphasizing the importance of CPR (church, prayer, reading the scriptures). Little by little...She is seriously so sweet to us though. We love her a lot :)
  • Thursday evening had some cool little tender mercies. Our plans kept seeming to change/fall through all day, so we didn't feel like we had been super productive. So, instead of taking a whole hour for dinner and then going to a Relief Society activity, we just ate quickly, then decided to use our extra 15 minutes or so to knock a couple houses. We drove towards the church and then both felt just the slightest prompting to go down one street, so we did, and we ended up talking to a super nice man who was sitting outside his house! He goes to a Greek Orthodox Church (EVERY time I want to ask them about My Big Fat Greek Wedding and start quoting it haha), and he was super sincere, and we had a really good conversation! He's really busy but gave us his number. I'm not sure how much will come of it right now, but it was definitely a positive interaction! And then we felt much better going to the activity and interacting with the sisters in the ward and strengthening those relationships :)
Two cute girls at church - they became friends :) And it was perfect because Sis Barker and I helped out in Primary, so we were able to watch out for them a little :)
  • I love young kids, period. Especially when they are in rougher homes and I feel like I can be kind of a good older sister to them. We loved teaching a 9 year old who gets so excited when we come to see her! We also taught a man's three sons (less-active Sudanese family), and two of them said the cutest prayers (the 8-year-old was like, "please help me to be able to be baptized so I can have my sins washed away," and they both prayed for their mom that "her arms and legs and back will feel better" because she is always in a lot of pain). When we went to another family's on Sunday, and the two boys were super happy to see us, and when we visited another lady, her cute boys ran up to us and hugged us. Wow they make my heart melt :)
  • We knocked into a guy who talked with us for a while but said he wasn't really interested, so we just left him with our Mormon.org card, and he actually texted us...but definitely for the wrong reasons! He kept trying to ask us out. Super uncomfortable! Thank goodness after we stopped responding, he didn't try to text/call us anymore. And we walk reallllly fast whenever we have to pass by his house now haha.
  • We received a sweet referral from a man in Utah! They are a young couple and we finally got to meet them yesterday and they were SO nice. They were on their way out, but we are hoping they become new investigators this week!

We are constantly blessed here. Heavenly Father has been teaching me a lot and trying my patience a lot here, but it has been good for me, and the miracles are happening! I am so grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful to have a companion whom I get along with so well! And I am eternally grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, that allows me to return home to my Heavenly Father with my wonderful family :) I love you all so much!!!

Love,
Sister Whipple

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SAFE!

don't tell President...but I found myself a boyfriend! His name is John Wayne.
Transfer calls are in, and I am...NOT getting transferred! Which means I am safe here in Des Moines and shouldn't get transferred the rest of my mission, because Sis Barker leaves at the end of this next transfer, and then I am next! I am happy. I love serving with Sister Barker, she is seriously SO wonderful. We have so much fun together.

 little boy in little Africa
Anyways, about our week...it was good! Unfortunately we still didn't get anyone to church on Sunday, so that's always a let-down because Sundays are like game days, but it's a new week yet again :) (oh ps, sorry I couldn't email yesterday - all the libraries were closed!)

covered bridge near Winterset...apparently these are really famous? and there was some movie made with them? So naturally we took a picture by one :)
On Tuesday, we went on another exchange with the Winterset sisters. This time, I went to the Winterset area. It was fun to see another area! It was a beautiful drive through the country - seriously so gorgeous! Sister Howard and I helped with BINGO, visited a lady in an assisted living facility who used to live in the Osceola Ward (that was super fun to see her again!), visited a recent convert of Sister Barker's from when she served in Winterset, and had dinner with a sweet lady. It was kind of a stressful exchange with some things going on, so I was exhausted by the end haha, but good things happened and I felt like I was able to help, which is always a good feeling :)

Winterset: birthplace of John Wayne :)
On Wednesday, we met a Karen family from Thailand, who let us right in and sat us down! They are really sweet. Mostly they want us to teach them English though haha, but we did talk to the 19-year-old daughter,(she speaks really good English, but the rest of her family doesn't), about the Church and the Restoration, and she was pretty receptive. Her sweet mom, who hardly speaks a lick of English, gave us water and apples :)
From Friday through Sunday, Hermana Andrews served with us because her companions were sick. Actually, they were sick the entire week with high fevers, coughs, etc.! We took Hna Andrews with us to keep her healthy and also to keep her from going crazy from being inside for so long. She is in her first transfer, and was a lot of fun to have with us - we love her :)

On Friday we had a good lesson with an inactive lady and her 9-year-old daughter. She is super cute and totally wants to get baptized! Her mom wants her to get baptized too, but doesn't actually want to come to church with her...ugh. There are SO many of these situations here! It is a continual struggle because we don't want to deny people the ordinance of baptism, but it is also hard when they don't have a whole lot going for them within their home and everything! I like them a lot though, and we are hoping that as we teach the 9 year old, the mom will feel the Spirit and will be truly converted as well :)

Because we had Hna Andrews with us on Friday, we were able to go to a family in the Spanish branch, for cena! It was awesome. Hno Ortega is incredible and is such a good example of a righteous Priesthood leader in his home. I love their family so much and I could feel the Spirit so strongly in their home! I am so, so, so grateful for the amazing family that I grew up in.

Saturday was a day full of service! In the morning, we helped a family paint their living room (they're the family who attend the Unitarian Church and aren't really interested in converting, but are friendly and were willing to accept our service). They took us out to lunch afterwards :) Then in the afternoon, we helped another lady scrub her house to prepare it for painting as well. We saw her a few other times last week and had good lessons with her, and she had made a deal with us that if we helped her on Saturday with that project, then she'd come to the baptism that evening with us. It worked! And we were SO grateful. It was a huge blessing for all of us because (1) she came to a baptism!, (2) the baptism was in the Raccoon River Ward, which is the ward that Sis Barker served in for 7.5 months, and (3) the baptism was for Sis V's daughter-in-law, so Sis V and her son were there and I got to see them!! It was sooo wonderful - my heart was so full :) I have been wanting to see Sis Verro so badly after her husband passed away recently. And it is so incredible the miracle that happened with her daughter in law, because it was at Br. V's memorial service that she felt the Spirit and wanted to learn more about the gospel! It was so wonderful.

Sunday afternoon, we had another little miracle! We met a sweet member at a potential's apartment complex for a lesson, but when we knocked on her door, her husband answered and said that she was just getting out of the bath. This potential  was a referral from the elders, and she is super sweet but she's had to reschedule our appointments so many times, so I didn't want to have to reschedule again! For some reason, I asked if we could stop by in 10 minutes and if she'd be ready then. He agreed, but after I said that I felt really dumb and wondered if I had done the right thing...but it totally worked! We went back and she was all ready for us and we had a great lesson. She was a perfect member to bring because she used to be Baptist just like the girl we were teaching (I had forgotten that!), so the girl really connected with her. We also had Hna Andrews with us, who connected with her really well because she's basically a convert too, so it was great. Plus she basically invited herself to church - so we're really praying that she does actually come!!!

matchy matchy, so we took a picture :)
That's about it for now. I went to bed last night and woke up this morning feeling kind of stressed about how we're going to even get close to our goals and do everything we need to do here before we leave - it's funny because I feel like finals are coming up and I'm in the last-minute cram session! It's like I need to get everyone baptized and reach our goals and learn all I need to learn and become perfect in these last 3 months! haha but I know that that's not all possible right now, and I've definitely been learning to be more submissive and patient these last few weeks. I love it here and I love being a missionary. I am so grateful for the gospel and I know more than ever that it is true and that it brings so much happiness and peace!

I love you all so much :)

Love,
Sister Whipple

all the missionaries at the baptism! We get to go if we bring an investigator :)






Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet the Mormons!

Hola,

It's crazy to think that yet another week has gone by and I am on emailing yall again! Time flies by so quickly! It was really fun reading all your emails - thank you so much for them! You all are the best. 

Here are highlights from the week!
these sculptures are called "Back of a Snowman." So, back of a sister missionary...

Monday: We went to the sculpture garden during p-day. There are lots of homeless people around there, and one of them, when he asked us if we're Christian and we responded that yes, we're missionaries, ran up to us and kneeled down and asked for forgiveness, then proceeded to talk at us for about 15 minutes straight and tell us his whole life story haha! It was interesting. Always makes me super grateful for the life I have though - Elder Holland's talk really spoke to me after working with so many poor people here in Des Moines! Anyways, we took some fun pictures, which will follow :) We also watched the Restoration DVD with a family, which was fun. Movies work well with Africans! 

art is so weird - end of story :)
thumbs up for Des Moines
Tuesday: I had yet another fun day with the hermanas in their area for an exchange! That is always a treat. We were even fed dinner by Hermana Amaya, the same lady who has fed me almost every other time I've gone with the hermanas haha! I took a picture with her because I've gone over there more than I've gone to some of our ward members' homes haha. 

In the evening, we taught a sweet lady, who doesn't speak a lick of English. I felt pretty useless, as they were teaching the plan of salvation in Spanish and I could hardly even see the pamphlet I was holding because it was so dark in their house, so finally I got on the floor with her two crazy kids, ages 4 or 5 and 2 or 3, and played with them. I think I was a lot more helpful by keeping them distracted than trying to help teach haha! I showed them my plan of salvation cutouts, then went through almost every pamphlet with them and would point at the pictures and say, "quien es eso?" which I think means "Who is this?" but I'm not even sure haha. The older one would say, "papa" or "mama" at every man or woman, except when there was a picture of Christ, she would say "Cristo!" really excitedly. And then she'd give me a high-five, a fist-bump, and a head-bump, every time. It was great!

The two cute kids!
Hermanas Smoot, Andrews, and Kimzey. I had already put my hair up for the night haha
the post-exchange pic.
Wednesday: We went out with Sister Craypo and she drove us around to see several less-actives we haven't been able to contact, which was good. One lady has a 9-year-old daughter who wants to be baptized, so hopefully we will start teaching her this week and bring them all back! Later we had another lesson with another couple, but the husband is definitely trying to convert us haha so we probably won't be going back there anymore.

Thursday: We got a phone call from the Walnut Hills sisters this morning, who were supposed to go on an exchange with us the next day, saying that plans had changed and they weren't really able to do the exchange the next day. We needed to do it this week, and with General Conference this weekend, we just decided to do it today! So it was super last-minute and I was a little stressed at first, but it was fun and it worked out. We started the exchange after our district meeting,and guess who came to Des Moines with me for the day? Sister Call, my trainer! haha it was great to spend the day with her, especially since she served in Des Moines for 6 months last winter. Sister Barker went to the Urbandale area with Sister Chirinos. We had a good day, and there were a couple people we visited who were super excited to see Sister Call, so that was fun to see :)

Friday: Another last-minute thing happened - President Jensen received a pre-release copy of Meet the Mormons, so he decided to get us all together to watch it before it comes out in theaters! Super fun :) It is a pretty exciting thing the Church is doing! They did a good job with the movie and it was pretty inspiring, so I'd definitely recommend it if it's showing in Arizona at all (I have no idea if it is or not)! It is showing in West Des Moines, so I'm excited that we get to invite people to go watch it. Hopefully people will be more open and have more questions for us after seeing it! It was really fun, and then afterwards we watched a DVD of pictures of all the baptisms in this mission in 2014 thus far, to motivate us to work even harder these last 3 months of the year!

However, we did have a really good member-present lesson with a new investigator! He's sooo sweet and totally is seeking for truth! Hopefully he is sincere and progresses!

Saturday: General Conference :) It was so wonderful, wasn't it?!! I loved the talk by that one member of the 70 who told us to take personal responsibility for our physical health (as well as a lot of other good stuff) - he was super bold and direct! I especially liked when he said that we shouldn't let our weaknesses demobilize us, because some of them we'll have our whole lives - and that's OK. There were so many other amazing talks too, I loved it!! It was fun watching it with the Craypo's for the morning and then eating a delicious lunch with them, then watching it at the stake center and seeing the other missionaries.

Sunday: More of General Conference! We stopped by a lady's house in the morning and successfully downloaded BYUtv on her Roku, and general conference was playing as we left :) In the afternoon, we watched it at the Voss' home, a member family, then had dinner with them afterwards. I loved it so much. I love General Conference!!!! Oh and it was super fun because Sister Barker and I would basically cheer every time her mom was shown in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir :) We spent the evening contacting some potentials/investigators we haven't been able to contact in a while, and also found some new potentials, including a sweet household of a 17-year-old daughter, a mom, and a grandma. It was really good!

This morning Sister Barker and I read through the Plan of Salvation lesson in Preach My Gospel. I am so grateful for Heavenly Father's plan! It is so perfect, and we are so blessed to know about it. We should be teaching it to a lady tonight, and are excited! I know that Heavenly Father wants each one of His children to return home to Him, and He wants to give us all that He has. He and our Savior Jesus Christ are so amazing! I love them so much!

And, I love you all so much. I seem to realize every day just how blessed I am with you. Thanks for being amazing. Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Sister Whipple

sleepover with the Walnut Hills sisters...funny story about that was that I totally thought about how I should be unselfish and give Sis Call my bed and me sleep on the floor, but I ignored that thought and went to my bed anyways. Well, at 2:45 I woke up feeling super stressed and couldn't sleep at all (someone was snoring and I was restless), so I went into the living room and wrapped a little quilt around me and fell sound asleep on the hard floor haha! I finally woke up about at about 4:45 and climbed back into my bed and slept fine at that point. I think I learned my lesson to just not be selfish in the first place ;)