Monday, December 29, 2014


Dearest familia (and friends)!

It was soooo great talking to you on Skype on Christmas! holy cow, I have the best family in the whole world. Thanks so much for being so fun and chill and awesome!

So I already told you over Skype about the beginning of my week, but seeing how I still haven't caught up in my journal for a while (surprise surprise), here is a quick run-down:

Monday we printed off our Christmas cards during p-day. Did you get them?! We also taught a cute little 5 year old the plan of salvation, because his parents are finalizing the adoption of his little sister (she's the little Indian baby who passed away months ago, and in Iowa, you can still finalize after they've passed away!) and are planning on going to the temple in the near future to have her sealed to them. So sweet.

I snatched this picture of watching "Finding Faith" on Christmas Eve before they turned off the lights :)
Tuesday was Joseph Smith's birthday. haha. We also were on exchanges with the hermanas (I was with Hermana Lundell in our area) and it was such a good day! We had an awesome lesson with our incredible new investigator Amber. The P family has been fellowshipping her, which was seriously so cool because Br. P's whole family was here in town visiting for Christmas, and they just took her right in! They drove her to church and had her over for FHE, and then when we asked Sis. P to go with us to a lesson on Tuesday, she said that she couldn't make it but that her mother-in-law would LOVE to go...and she was so awesome! There was so much love :) The girl we had the lesson with wants to be baptized on the 10th! Ahh! I sure hope that happens, but even if it doesn't happen before I leave, it'll be OK because she's so ready and prepared. Anyways, we also met with another lady on Tuesday and reset a date with her for the 10th as well...I don't think as of now she'll make it though. She's SO ready but she says we're pushing her and she wants to take her time.  I just need to be patient and love and help her, because she is still wonderful! Later we went to Sis. R's, which is where I passed out like I told you about hahaha.

Wednesday morning we had district meeting and did a fun white elephant gift exchange aka get rid of some junk that's collected in the apartments haha. Our elders are great, I love them. Then we had Christmas Eve lunch at the Cluff's, which was fun and really sweet of them, even though neither of us felt very good so that was a little hard haha. Then we taught a good lesson with a lady on the Restoration! We went to dinner at the Andelin's house, which was delicious (the dinner, not the house), and then acted out the Nativity with them! I loved it soooo much. And I got to play on their beautiful baby grand while we sang Christmas carols :) Then we went to a lady's and watched "Finding Faith in Christ" with her and her family, and it was the sweetest thing to do on a Christmas Eve night - helped me to remember why we even celebrate Christmas and why Christ came to earth for us! Then we dropped by a lady's house and wished her and her kids a Merry Christmas :)

 district meeting white elephant exchange

Thursday we got to stay in bed until 8am! We opened our gifts together and ate breakfast. Thanks so much for the sweet gifts! You guys are so sweet. I felt your love so much and loved that :) We visited a couple of ladies during the morning. They were both pretty lonely so I was happy we could see them. Then we had lunch at a cute family's house, then went to the mission home and had the best time with President and Sister Jensen, their family, the assistants, and other missionaries who came through. I am so blessed to be in Des Moines! Afterwards, we went to a lady's and had the most fun visit with her, where she talked about how excited she was to get baptized and how she's going to come visit us in Utah and Arizona someday haha :) And then she said the longest prayer of my life and her friend was soooo into it. I love her. It was fun talking to them about their language and culture and country :) Then I Skyped you and it was the best! Thanks!

On Friday we taught Amber; we went on a long walk while talking and finally ducked into a Dairy Queen because we got really cold haha. She is so sweet. 

Saturday we were a mess all day because it was the day of the baptism and we were so stressed haha! We saw a lady in the morning and planned her baptism because that's what she wanted to do! Then we scrambled making the baptismal programs (ward mission leader is out of town) and doing other last-minute things. We stopped by the lady who was getting baptized that day, and it was crazy because she told us that her kids almost didn't get back from their dad's, and she had been so stressed because she couldn't get a hold of him! But then she got a call from him saying that his phone had been off, and that her cute daughter had woken him up that morning and told him that they needed to get home that morning because she was getting baptized :) wooh! The baptism was beautiful. I still can't believe it still happened - 17 days after we met them! There was a good turnout for how many people were out of town. And even though the person who was supposed to baptize them fell through at the last minute, Br. B came to the rescue and did a wonderful job baptizing them both. The Spirit was so strong. I was sitting in between the two girls during the first part of the service, and they belted out the hymns ("I Believe in Christ" and then "When I Am Baptized") as if they had been singing those their whole life. The mom had tears running down her cheeks during the opening hymn, as she watched her daughter get baptized, and then as she entered the font. It was so sweet to be able to wrap a towel around each of them and give them a big hug as they came out. It was pretty much perfect :)

Sunday morning, the mom who was baptized on Saturday calls us and hurriedly tells us that she made African food for the ward and that we need to come pick it up and put it in our car to take to church so that she can get ready and drive her family there! Haha we were kind of confused but we went anyways and she proceeded to put big pots of rice, foofoo, soup, and stew into our car! We called the RS president on the way to church and told her what was going on, and she was a champ haha. We put it in the kitchen, and Sis A (Relief Society President) announced it during relief society. 

I will never get over the wigs of these sweet Africans. Look at her amazing spread!

Then after church, we opened up the divider between the RS room and the kitchen and pulled out the food, and it was a pretty amazing little feast she had provided for everyone! I was so worried that no one was going to eat it or would say things about it being disgusting, but everyone was so nice and a lot of people enjoyed it! It was so awesome haha. Sister Matley and I were true Africans and ate it with our hands :) The foofoo (don't know if I'm spelling that right at all) was some sort of plantain mixed with a kind of root that I forget what it's called, and you'd take some of that and dip it in the fish/shrimp soup and eat it...and the rice you'd take and eat with the fish/shrimp/chicken stew. I was so scared to eat it but it actually wasn't bad at all, and I really liked the foofoo! :) bucket list item, check :) Also, she and her family were early to church. Just have to throw that out there because that never happens with Africans haha (sorry!). Their confirmations were wonderful. They are such awesome members and I hope that they will stay strong and help the other Africans to be strong as well.

We had dinner with the Anderson's yesterday (RS pres and ward clerk). They are leaving this week for a sailing voyage and won't be back until late, we'll see how things go with them gone, haha!

Wow that was a really long email haha sorry. But I love you all so much! I'm so glad that you were able to have a good time together this Christmas. That is such a blessing :) I was just thinking this morning about how when I first came out, I'd often while finding say to people something like, "we teach people how to come closer to Christ," but I didn't really know exactly what that meant, because I felt like we taught people about Joseph Smith and the Restoration more than anything. But I realized that while I definitely do not have a perfect understanding still of the gospel (obviously), we really do help people to come closer to Christ because we help them to strengthen their faith in Christ, to repent, and to be baptized by priesthood authority so that they can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and enter to gate to eternal life. It is such a blessing! So now when I tell people that we teach about Christ and how to strengthen our relationship with Him, I get excited because I know that it really is true :)

Thank you for all you do! I love you!!
Sister Whipple

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