Monday, November 24, 2014

sleepovers for life


I finally met Sister Elg, the mother of Evan Elg (we were in the same Provo ward) and now the mother-in-law of Lauren Meese :) it was seriously a mission-long bucket list item haha
This week was pretty good, lots of ups and downs and lots of sleepovers haha :) I am so sad that Buster died! I'm glad that I said good bye to him before I left, but I was starting to get my hopes up that he'd still be there when I come home. Mostly I'm sad for Victor :( But seriously, he was such a good dog and I am amazed by how long he lasted!

On Monday, we found a new investigator when we visited a less-active couple! It was sweet. They have super strong testimonies, they have just had financial struggles and haven't been able to go to church because of work. There's another young woman who lives with them, and as we invited her to be baptized, they were SO supportive and excited for her. They were like, "you could come to the temple with us! It's the most beautiful place." It was a testimony to me that I don't have to be ashamed or embarrassed about sharing the gospel with my friends, because it is wonderful and exciting!

On Wednesday we had exchanges with the hermanas, which went really well. I stayed in our area with Hermana Kimzey, and Sister Barker went with Hermana Lundell in their area. We served at the YMCA, taught a couple part-member families, and helped our friends from Burma/Thailand with filling out some paperwork because the English was hard for them. Then we taught them about the Book of Mormon and they were reading it as we left :) We also saw our two African families and had a really good experience with a lady and her family. We just read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon with them, and it was a little miracle because the lady's boyfriend read with us, as well as her sister/cousin/niece! And they asked good questions and really felt the Spirit :) We also had a good discussion with them about getting married, but that's still in limbo. The hermanas slept over that night.

On Thursday after district meeting, we went to Winterset and had exchanges there! I went with Sister Howard for the evening, and we a couple of good lessons. We slept over there, and the next day I spent with Sister Stapley. We found two potentials, and on Sunday we got a text telling us that one of those potentials became a new investigator! :) It was a good and fun exchange overall, and Heavenly Father really helped me because I was exhausted but He gave me strength :)

Saturday morning was really rough...we hadn't heard from one of the girls we've been teaching, who last Sunday couldn't stop talking about how excited she was to get baptized. We went by her house, and we saw a new car in the driveway. She was half-asleep when we talked to her, so we couldn't talk much, but she said she was coming to church the next day. As we were leaving, I suddenly just decided to ask one of her nephews there who's car was in the driveway, and he said it was her boyfriend and that he was back :( noooo! I can't tell you how sad this made me. She has been super, super stressed - lost her job, her baby's dad kept calling her, etc. - and we were really trying to help her. But it looks like he's back, so she can't get baptized this week after all and we haven't been able to talk to her since (she didn't come to church). I felt like my heart was broken! It has been hard because she is the second investigator in the last three weeks to drop within one week of baptism. It has been hard to not get discouraged. But I know that this is a test of my faith and endurance and that it is another learning and growing process. Sister Barker and I fasted yesterday and know that we have to just keep doing our best and trusting in Heavenly Father.

We had stake conference this weekend, which was awesome! The Lamoni sisters slept over Saturday night. I got to see so many people from the Osceola Ward who I love! Two of the members I worked with when I was their both received their patriarchal blessings after stake conference and one received the Melchizedek priesthood. :) So those were tender mercies to lift my spirits! :) Conference was wonderful overall. I am so grateful for this Church and that we are led by the Priesthood of God.

As for school, I am almost for sure starting in January. Thank you SO much for being supportive - I feel bad that I won't be able to spend time with you guys after being gone for so long, but I feel that this is the best thing for now. It is going to be crazy haha but I think it will work! I registered for some classes on Saturday, and I am going to email my professors and communicate with them. I don't think there's anything that you can do at the moment, but I will keep you posted. One thing to figure out is how in the world I'm going to get home on Friday and be in classes on Monday haha. What time does church start? I'm thinking I'll spend time with the family on Friday, pack on Saturday, give my talk on Sunday and leave right after church to drive to will be crazy. I also don't know what to do about a car...I don't want to take the car from KJ because she uses it so much, but I'll need some way to transport to BYU...either I can just take the car and all my things myself, or Mom can drive me there in the van and I can just buy a bike and use that to get around Provo, or something. Let me know what you think - and of course that doesn't have to be solved in the next week :)

It is crazy how time flies here. We are down to Sister Barker's last full week, and then I will be getting yet another new companion! I am so grateful for my time as a missionary. It hasn't been easy lately, but I know that I am having experiences that I need to learn and grow, and I am learning to rely on the Atonement more. I just hope that I can fulfill all that I came here to do before my time is up! The Church is true and living the gospel of Jesus Christ is a happy way to live :) I love you all so much! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you all :)

Sister Whipple

Monday, November 17, 2014

a message from Elder Cardon :)

Well hello again!

Zombies on P-Day

Man, how the weeks fly by! I have a lot to tell you about this week :)

I'm going to start with what's probably the biggest news. Elder Craig A. Cardon came for a mission tour/zone conference! And...I got to have a one-on-one interview with him! It was so incredible. Elder Weiss (one of the Area Presidents) called Thursday night (the night before the conference) and said that Elder Cardon wanted to interview a couple of missionaries before the conference began, and that I was picked to meet with him! I don't know why I was, but it was sweet. First, we had a Mission Leadership Council meeting with him at 8am, so it was all the zone and district leaders and the sister training leaders from the Ames and Des Moines stakes. We started spiritual prep at 7:30, and (naturally) I was playing prelude. 8:00 came around and no one stood up to start the meeting, so I kept playing, and on and on...until finally at about 8:25, two zone leaders walked in (I hadn't realized that they had been on the phone with them and were waiting for them - I guess they had had trouble getting there) and the meeting began. We sang the opening hymn, had a prayer, etc., and when Elder Cardon stood up to speak, he looked at me and thanked me for playing the prelude, and took seriously like 5-10 minutes talking about how much he appreciates the time to listen to hymns on the piano and spiritually prepare and how grateful he was. It was so sweet! He then went on with his training about working together as councils, which was really good.

Then, after MLC and before zone conference, I had my interview with Elder Cardon! I was so nervous and it was cold so I was shaking haha. It went really well though, and was a really cool experience. He asked me about myself, which was fun because he's from Arizona and studied accounting. He also asked about my family, so I got to tell him about each member briefly, and when he asked if all my members are strong in the gospel and I mentioned that they all are except my little brother, he asked me about him and told me to keep writing to him. He asked me questions like what I've learned on my mission and from President Jensen and if I had any questions for him (I was able to ask him one about helping make sure people are ready for baptism, which was cool because then he addressed that topic in his training at the zone conference), and he read some scriptures with me. At the end, he asked me if I would be writing my family on Monday, and told me to tell my parents two things. So here they are, only because I committed to him that I would tell you:

1. He said that I blessed an entire zone conference and the life of a general authority by 25 minutes of beautifully played prelude music, and
2. You (Mom & Dad) have raised a valiant daughter who has served a beautiful mission.

So basically I felt super humbled and loved and I can never complain or think that Heavenly Father doesn't care about me or love me, because He does and now I just need to share that love with others :) As we were leaving the interview, he wished me luck in school and then paused and looked at me and told me to make marriage a priority and to not let school or plans get in the way of that. So I promised that I would do that too :)

sleep over with Lamoni, Mason City, and Ames sisters the night before zone conference here in Des Moines!
The rest of the zone conference was wonderful and not scary like last year's mission tour was haha. Elder Cardon is bold but super loving and makes you want to be better! His wife was so cute and sweet too. It was a wonderful meeting and we had a great lunch afterwards :)

I'll bullet point the rest of the week:
  • We had interviews on Tuesday, which were great. I love President and Sister Jensen :)
  • A lady we've been teaching was also interviewed for baptism on Tuesday. Holy cow were there a lot of ups and downs with her this week. She didn't pass her interview, but we all - herself included - felt at peace with that. She said that she felt like it was an opportunity to learn more and to work towards being even more prepared for her baptism. We had an awesome lesson with her in a member's home later in the week, and it appeared that basically all her concerns were resolved. We struggle a LOT on commitment though, as she still won't take the time to read even a tiny paragraph from the Book of Mormon or go to church. So we very lovingly committed her to do those things for one week to just try it and see if it makes a difference. Well, she texted us last night and completely dropped us, saying that we were pushy, manipulative, rude, etc etc. We seriously have given everything we can to help her, and we were so sure that she'd get baptized - she was so close! - so that was really hard. It's hard because when things like this happen, you start to doubt and wonder if you did the wrong things and you worry because, well, it's someone's eternal salvation you're talking about! But we really did try our best to help her. We probably could have let her get baptized on Saturday, but the commitment just was not there and we felt really uncomfortable. So now we just need to go forth in faith and pray that she will allow the Church into her life once she's in a better place physically and emotionally.
  • On a happier note, another lady is doing so great! She came to church for the third week in a row. I sat next to her and helped keep her cute little boy entertained because she was so tired and somewhat exasperated with him. I was happy that he responded well to me, even though I couldn't put him on my lap or hold him :) She is so cute. She keeps saying things like, "I can't wait to be bapti!" (Liberians don't finish their words haha). We also had a fun lesson with her talking about the temple and eternal marriage. She asked about dating so we taught her how to actually date and how she needs to date good Mormon boys. It was so fun :)
  • Another lady is also doing awesome! I said this before, but I wish I could somehow convey to you how hilarious she is! When we go over she's like, "AYYYY, SISTER MISSIONARY!!" In gospel principles she asked the teacher why she needs to be baptized again when she was baptized in Monrovia in the Pentecostal Church, and she listened so intently as he helped answer her question. Then in relief society, at the end of the lesson, she raised her hand and went on to tell her whole conversion story (I didn't know any of it!) about how she used to believe the stories she'd hear about how Mormons kill people and put their bodies in secret rooms and worship snakes (it was insane) but how now she knows that that's not true and she knows that "the latter day saint church is a GOOD church!" and "it teach you to not fornicate, to not have sex with people you not marry to," and on and on...I was sitting behind her and literally I was shaking and crying from trying so hard to not bust up laughing! It was soooo funny...but so awesome at the same time because she said she wants to be baptized and she totally is gaining at testimony! I also died because we have yet to teach her the law of chastity and she still needs to get married to her boyfriend.
  • Another crazy little incident happened on Tuesday when we went over to a less-active lady's house to help her with some chores because she's a parapelegic and needed some help. As I was washing the dishes, I turned around and saw blood dripping all over the kitchen floor from Sis. Anderson's foot! She doesn't have any feeling in her legs/feet so she hadn't noticed that she had hit it and there was a HUGE gash in her big toe. So Sis Barker and I quickly jumped in to clean up the blood that was now all over the floor (because she had wheeled her wheelchair around in it before realizing what was going on) and play "nurse" and bandage her up. Good times.
  • Our investigator who is blind is doing great! She prayed out loud for the first time this week, which was awesome. We seriously love her, she is so sweet and is slowly but surely reading her braille Book of Mormon! Usually when we visit her, we'll do something little for her before we leave, like read a prescription or instructions of how to cook something, which is fun.
  • We taught a new investigator who is the cutest Sudanese grandma! She says we're her grandkids now :) haha. She hardly speaks a lick of English, so we took a Sudanese member with us to translate. It was an interesting lesson haha. Oh, it got SUPER cold this week. I am so grateful for my warm coat and gloves and car, and the little space heater in our apartment! I'm also super grateful that we've been safe, because the roads are terrible and we've seen so many accidents. We've been super careful :) oh but it was cute - she was like, "If it's this cold in Africa, everyone thinks they're going to die!"
  • We also taught our Karen/Burmese/Thai family the Restoration, and even though the kids were being crazy, everyone was so quiet and the Spirit was so strong when Sis Barker recited the First Vision!
    With Sister Rasmussen at Graceland University 
  • I went to Lamoni on exchanges again! It was awesome! I was with Sister Rasmussen, who is wonderful. We saw so many people I worked with when I was serving there a few months ago. I love that little town so much.
  • Cute quote of the week: Sis Barker to a 10-year-old daughter of a lady we're teaching: "What are you grateful for?" Her answer: "You guys." gah. I love being a missionary.
  • We had some good visits with a mother and her kids. They taught us a fun hand-clapping game, and we taught them a clapping rhythm thing and the song "I Am a Child of God." The mom is doing great and is understanding more and more, but we found out that she and her kids' dad can't get married for a while because of weird immigration things. So that's kind of sad, but we'll still work with them a little and they'll get baptized next year hopefully :)
  • We had dinner at an inactive member's home, which was one of the funniest dinners I've had. She's in her 60's, and this is going to sound racist but she's just about the most black person I've ever met - and super classy at that. There are always tons of people coming in and out because they have TONS of family around, and always hip hop/R&B music blasting. She made us tons of the best fried chicken ever, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and blue and red velvet bundt cake. It was awesome hahaha.

Missions are the best. They are so hard but they are so wonderful at the same time! Thanks for letting me be here :) I know that this gospel is true! Spiritual aha of the week: the story of the pearl of great price. We must give everything we have for the gospel - but it really doesn't matter how much our everything is! There is not set purchase price - just everything we have. And it's OK if someone else's everything is more or less than ours! If we give everything we have, then in return we will receive all the Father hath. He is so merciful and loving!

I love you all sooo much.
Sister Whipple

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Braille of Mormon

for Cali - I tried taking a cool picture with my nametag by the sign like one she sent to me, but it kept getting blurry, so I just took this pic instead :)

I feel like I don't have a whole lot to say this week, so sorry if it's boring! We had a good week and had more member-present lessons than usual, so that was good! Also, one lady is so awesome, and if her work schedule works out, she just might get baptized this Saturday! She is facing a lot of opposition but she is strong and knows that this is the right thing for her to do, even though others tell her crazy things. Her work schedule this past weekend changed, so she was able to come to church for the second week in a row! And one of her fellowshippers gave her a priesthood blessing, which was so sweet. We love her so much!

We also worked a lot with another lady this week, and it's been up and down like nobody's business. I can't really get into details and don't really want to, but it's been stressful and we're just really trying to figure out what to do to help her be truly spiritually converted. It's hard, but things will work out somehow!

We went on an exchange with the Walnut Hills sisters (Call & Chirinos), and I went with Sis. Chirinos to their area, which was fun. They serve in the Urbandale/Clive area, which is basically a bunch of developments and Des Moines suburbia...I am SO glad that I am in the actual city of Des Moines and not a suburb! They didn't really have any set appointments, so we went tracting/finding most of the day, which was fine, but tracting rows and rows of cookie-cutter houses with white, middle-class families who all go to Hope Lutheran Church is hard haha! We did find some good potentials and a new investigator though, so there were miracles! They are awesome sisters and have wonderful attitudes and work hard :)

End of Exchanges
We had a lesson with a super sweet but also pretty crazy lady! Haha I can't even explain it...we just meet the most fun people on our missions! We met her at Fazzoli's, and literally could NOT get out of there for over 2 hours! We could hardly get a word in, she just talked nonstop and literally hardly touched her food the whole time. It was so crazy. But, we got free lunch and it was delicious :)

Oh! One fun thing is the elders passed an investigator to us, who's 100% completely blind! She is super sweet! I don't think I've ever talked to anyone who's totally blind before, so it was fun trying to figure things out (for example, turning on the light when we walked in and turning it off when we left, because it doesn't make any difference to her whether it's on or off!). The elders got her a braille Book of Mormon, and it's HUGE - 6 huge binders with double-sided huge braille pages! It was so cool to see her reading from it - she said she's been reading braille since she was three! She's really sweet and has a baptismal date for December and should be coming to church this coming up Sunday!

We didn't have as good of a turn out at church yesterday, which was disappointing, but honestly a lot less stressful too haha. We went by one lady's to see why she didn't come, and she gave us a whole metal tin full of banana bread and some sort of African donuts, and she was like, "share with the other missionaries and tell them that it's from Sister P from the church!" She is so funny. We also were finally able to extend a baptismal date to her! She said that if it's God's will for her to be baptized then, then she will. We need to throw a big African wedding for all the people living with people they're not married to though...that is seriously my dream right now haha. But in the mean time, Sis Barker and I are making progress with our Liberian accents.

I had a mini piece of personal revelation this morning! Last night I was struggling a little (mostly because I was being dumb haha) because I was just feeling discouraged and feeling like we work so hard here and get SO close and then people fall through, and I found out that Sis. Barker has had 19 baptisms and multiple families and I was like, THAT'S LIKE THREE TIMES MY MISSION haha. Seriously, I'm kind of embarrassed that I still struggle with comparing myself to others so much and with things that don't "appear" to be "fair", so I hope you don't judge me too much for that! But, this morning as I was waking up, it hit me that this life is so short compared to eternity, and things that don't seem fair in this life won't really matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes we look at others and they seem sooo much farther along on the spiritual path or whatever than we are, and Satan uses that to bring us down. But Heavenly Father doesn't really care about all of that! He just wants us to do our best with the things we've been given. I have made so many mistakes and fallen short over and over again, but I need to trust that as long as I keep doing my best and keep living the gospel of Jesus Christ, then everything really will be OK. It reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite talks, "Laborers in the Vineyard" by Elder Holland: 

"God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him 'all that he hath.'" That's really all there is to it. Heavenly Father just asks that we stand with Him, and if we do that, we will all receive "all that He hath" - and that's a lot more than the little things we seem to miss out on in this life.

I love you all so much! :)

Sister Whipple

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blessed with Patience


It's been a good week! Here's a quick run-down of the highlights!

Tuesday was MLC (mission leadership council), which was awesome of course! All the sisters dressed up as Disney princesses haha...the trick was that we still had to wear proselyting clothes, and all the princesses were "taken" before I claimed one, so I didn't have many choices left. I tried to dress up like Giselle from Enchanted but when I put on the clothes that I borrowed from two different sisters, I decided I looked more like Merida from Brave (worst Disney princess ever haha) that's what I decided to be. It was semi-lame, but everyone else looked great so it was a lot of fun. 

bad quality pic of the sisters at MLC :)
Anyways, MLC was great. My favorite training was on the doctrine of Christ and how/why it's our purpose. It was super powerful. So often the world tries to tell us that there are many ways to get to heaven, that we can do whatever we want and we'll still be OK because God loves us, etc., and honestly it's easy to get caught in the trap. But all throughout the BoM it is so clear that we need to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ! We need to be cleansed from our sins in order to enter the Kingdom of God, and we can only be cleansed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and by having faith in Him, repenting, being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As representatives of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility to extend Christ's invitation to follow Him by following His doctrine. It is so clear and simple!

 service and cupcakes at T's
On Wednesday we did some service for a few ladies and saw a few other people. We had a tiny bit of time in the evening to put together our training for the next couple of days, so we ended up staying up late finishing things...which was kind of fun because it felt like college haha but also hard because we were already sleep-deprived from our trip to and from Iowa City for MLC!

On Thursday we trained at the Des Moines East and Des Moines West zone training meetings. Then because it was beggar's night, we had to be in by 6 or out with members. We had a dinner appointment with Sister A, and then she took us to Sister L's on our way home to "trick or treat" haha - Sis L goes ALL out as a witch each year and has become "famous" for it - she's been doing it every year for decades :) Here in Des Moines, you actually have to say a joke or do a trick of some sort in order to earn a treat! It is fun!

did we go trick or treating on our mission? yes, yes we did.
On Friday we drove to my favorite Osceola and trained at the Oskaloosa zone training meeting. We had a good lesson with cute Pyper and her mom (who let us pick out a purse each out of her huge collection because she saw how our bags are totally falling apart! soo sweet.). Then again, we had to be in by 6 or out with members...we got a ride to the ward trunk or treat, which was fun :) and two inactive members came with their kids! Oh and Sis Barker and I totally switched nametags and wore each other's clothes and accessories and did our hair like each we were each other for Halloween :)

each other for Halloween :)

Saturday we were finally able to get out and do normal missionary work! It felt good. We did service with the elders again, then went to go visit a referral we had received. She is SO AWESOME!!! She is 24 and is Liberian and is super dependable - we had a hard time finding her house so we were running late, and she called us to make sure we were still coming and to help us find her, because she was so excited! She was taught by elders in Indiana when she was living there with her boyfriend at the time. She couldn't get baptized though, because the elders kept telling her she needed to get married, but she knew that he wasn't actually a good guy...finally things escalated and she got out of there with her 1-year-old son and is now living with her sister here in Des Moines. She basically has nothing, but she is sooo repentant and wants to be baptized and is so ready! She knows the Church is true (she calls it "the church of the missionaries" hahaha) and listens to the Book of Mormon every day (she's in Mosiah!) and is just so prepared. She came to church with her ADORABLE son yesterday and is on date for November 29!!! I love her so much!

In the evening, we ran over to Mercy Hospital after finding out that one of the African members (who has 6 young kids) had a stroke. It was so sad to see her - she's in super critical condition. There were so many of her Liberian friends and relatives there and I think it was good for us to go and show support for all of them. We fasted for her yesterday. They have so much faith - I really hope miracles come out of this!

Sunday: We had a good turn-out at church again! It is so amazing and has been such a blessing to see the miracles that are finally surfacing. P and her kids, T, another lady, the sweetest Sudanese lady (who doesn't speak a lick of English) whose family are all members and who wants to be baptized, and another interesting lady who likes to visit different churches all came! And boy was it the most interesting fast & testimony meeting haha! Like 6 different Africans bore their testimonies, which was legit, plus one of our investigators! It was so fun, I loved it. Gospel principles was awkward at first because it was about eternal marriage, and literally every investigator/less-active in there had some problem with that, but our teacher is incredible and by the end, Two of the ladies we brought were totally throwing it down with how you just need to get married to a good man who wants to follow Jesus, and how you need to be baptized and come to church every week. It was so awesome. Sister Barker, the elders, and I were dying.

We went to the sweet Craypo's for dinner last night, and a lady we have been working with came too! Sis Craypo is awesome with her a is a lot of help. The lady we've been working with is totally good to be baptized on November 15! Miracles!

I love you all so much!!! Thanks for being so amazing! I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Sister Whipple