Sunday, January 12, 2014

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

I loved getting your letters last week! I especially loved the paragraph about how Britt went around the house for about 10 minutes going on about how crazy I am for setting a goal to contact 500 people. I want to  talk a little bit about what I've learned from doing that and trying my absolute best to achieve it. First of all, I want to copy and paste some of President Hall's last weekly letter to the mission because he talked about our companionship in it. I think I'll send out another e-mail with his whole letter because it has really amazing thoughts.

I especially love the part where he said "Every night, set a daily goal for the number of people you will contact and talk to about the Church, and a daily goal for the number of potential investigators you will find. However, make these goals much higher that what you are currently doing. Make them so high, that you have to change how you work as a missionary to be able to accomplish them."

Pres. Henry B. Eyring once said, "For most of us the temptation to delay will come from one or both of two feelings. They are polar opposites: one is to be complacent about what we have already done, and the other is to feel overwhelmed by the need to do more."

I feel like that is the key. People are afraid of what their potential really is. In a way, the SMART acronym for setting goals is sometimes used as an excuse to not make yourself stretch for something much higher than you're currently achieving. You don't let your dreams help push your vision of what you can accomplish a little further either because you don't see it is possible to do more so you're complacent or because you are overwhelmed that by setting a much higher goal you may have to actually change something and work harder. Likewise, we have a bad habit of beating ourselves up for missed goals rather than celebrating the achievement of doing more than we had been doing. If you set a goal of contacting 100 people in a day and you only achieve 53, I think the Lord is so much more happy with you than if you set a goal of talking to 10 and achieve 8 or even 11. 53 is something to celebrate! And in trying to do so much more, you begin to learn things-- skills that make talking easier and more natural, ways to change and optimize the way you use your time, and you do the little bit more everywhere you go you do your best to not allow anyone to pass by without trying to talk to them.

We are in the process of learning and experimenting! It is so great! This week we have been able to see many mighty miracles from it. One thing that we learned is that in trying to contact so many more individuals, we actually ended up teaching lessons right then and there to tons of people. This week we only achieved a fraction of our goals of 100 people contacted per day but we got so many more new investigators. From our first transfer together, Hermana Barnes and I averaged getting 2-3 new investigators per week. We had the excuse that our area was pretty much starting over and it was just a white area where we were trying to find where the latinos are hiding out. Here are the numbers from the last 3 weeks:

Week 1: 6 new investigators -- this is the week we decided that we would independently do absolutely anything it takes to double baptisms and baptize monthly in our area

Week 2: 8 new investigators -- this was the week where we were chosen to be the companionship President Hall would focus on to help us double baptisms

Week 3: 15 new investigators -- that was last week

The Lord has been blessing us mightily! I think that is probably the highest I've ever achieved on my mission thus far. I honestly don't know if/how we're going to keep it up. But that is where the faith cycle comes in. In the faith cycle (as explained in Alma 32), we control the first half of faith with our actions and the Lord controls the second half with his power. We definitely have seen his power in leading us and guiding us to exactly where we needed to be at the exact right moments to find and teach last week. But now we go back to our side of the faith cycle of not throwing out the seed yet from our complacency (of what we achieved last week) or fear (of not being able to do it again). I am so excited to make this week the best of my mission so far! Not everyone we've found will progress, but in finding so many more, we will be able to filter out who we should continue to focus on and we'll continue putting more and more people in the filter to see who will progress.

Now for some fun stories from this week...

First of all, we've lately been continuing to run 2 miles3 times a week and last week we began to run up and down this loop-hike we found in our area. It is a new preparation-day tradition we have and it is super fun! We're super excited to go and do it today! On the uphill part we run super super slow, but we do it! It is sweet! Note about that- I am so up for doing the La Luz trail on the Sandia mountains with someone when I get back! (walking-- and probably when there hasn't been snow for a while)

Last Friday we had a ward party of a Thanksgiving dinner and also a talent show. The ward had asked the missionaries to do 2-3 talents. They were the best things in the entire world!!!!

Quick background to this story-- in our ward, we have 5 sets of missionaries. In Spanish work that is pretty typical right now and our ward is our district also.-- So we had one of our Elders who is from Ecuador be the announcer person and then we had 4 missionaries sit at a table with things in front of them like toothbrush, toothpaste, hair stuff, shaving stuff, pudding, et cetera. And then we had the 4 companions be behind them and the four people sitting in the chair were the faces and the companions behind them were the arms to do everything. Hermana Barnes was the face and I was her arms. The announcer then guided us through a morning in the life of a missionary. We started off sleeping and then we woke up and did exercises. Then we ate a hearty missionary breakfast of pudding. Then we brushed our teeth. Then the hermanas did makeup and the elders shaved their faces (with the plastic cap still on the razor). And finally, we did our hair and then we were ready to go out for the day. It was so much fun!!!!! I still think my favorite part was the pudding. I couldn't see her, so I opened up my can of pudding and then started shoveling huge spoonfuls of pudding into her mouth. I guess I didn't really give her time to eat and swallow the pudding before I shoved another one at her face (plus, she was laughing-- so not my fault!) and she ended up with pudding falling out all over her face. I found out the next day that the spoon had been next to the brush, so there was a hair in the pudding the whole time that she just had to eat through because I just kept on putting more pudding at her face. haha!! And the foundation too... a past missionary had left a bunch of dark foundation, so we took it and I poured out tons onto my hands and just slathered it all over her face. Another great part was that at the end, the announcer asked the audience what missionaries do then and some kid yelled out "take a shower!" so I grabbed the cup that was there for after we brushed their teeth and held it over her head like I was going to pour it on her. Haha! She screamed and scooted back into me! I also did her hair nice and crazy! It was so much fun!!!!!

The other talent ended up being epic!!! We missionaries acted out the creation. Earlier that day, the rest of the missionaries got together to prepare and practice that from what ended up being 1pm to about 4. Hermana Barnes and I were busy finding and teaching people, so we didn't go to the practice which ended up being so much more fun for me at least because that skit was completely improvisation for us! We thought it was going to be this cheesy comical thing, but it was so legit and I have no clue how they got it together so well! There was a fog machine, they had figured out the stage lights so the lighting was fantastic, and the best part was probably the music-- they used a song from the movie Transformers. We all had different parts. One elder was God and on the first day when he created light and there was amazing lighting and fog it looked great! I ended up being "mother earth," so on the 3rd day, I came out and did a little improve dance as I scattered and threw flowers all over the stage. There was a fish, Hermana Barnes was the eagle for when the fowls of the air were created, and there was a monkey for the beasts, etc. One elder did a perfect job of holding his position being the tree of life haha! They went through Adam and Eve etc. It was fantastic!!! I wish you could have seen it!! It just so happened that right when Adam ate the apple, the music suddenly hit a huge beat in the music and everything changed haha! I love being a missionary!!

Well, I'm so ready to make this week the best ever! I'm pretty pumped that on Thursday we have Thanksgiving and on Friday I get to go to the LA Temple with the departing missionaries! Plus, we’re going to continue to find so many people to teach so that we can find those who will progress! Life is so great!

~Hermana Whetten

For those of you who are interested in the letter that she talked about from her mission Pres. Here it is:

Dear Sisters and Elders of the Great California San Fernando Mission, 

Congratulations on the wonderful finding efforts that are taking place throughout the mission! For the second week in a row we have had over 180 new investigators! That is amazing!

This week I have continued to study and ponder the counsel that Elder Ballard shared with us at the Mission Presidents Seminar and in his recent General Conference talk, “Put Your Trust in the Lord.” I have also been praying to understand Elder Ballard’s admonition for us to refocus our efforts on our purpose to baptize and what that means for The Great California San Fernando Mission. This is a bit longer letter, but if you want to see how to double your baptisms in your area, please take the time to read it (or print it out to study later.)

It begins with prayer. “Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members and the full-time missionaries kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities. Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father’s children, and surely those opportunities will come.”

After we pray, we demonstrate our faith and go to work to find people to teach. As Elder Ballard said, “You full-time missionaries, if you want to teach more, you must talk to more people every day. This has always been what the Lord has sent missionaries forth to do.”

In Preach My Gospel it says, “Nothing happens in missionary work until you find someone to teach. Talk with as many people as you can each day” (PMG, p. 156).

These two phrases, “talk to more people every day” and “talk with as many people as you can each day” have been the focus of my thoughts. If you want to double baptisms in your area, you need to first double your new investigators. To do that, you need to talk to many more people and find many more potential investigators.

While we don’t have key indicators on the number of people we contact every day, or the number of potential investigators we find, these two things are the critical steps prior to obtaining a new investigator. After our personal preparation (prayer, study, goals and plans), they are also some of the things that are most within our control. While I can influence, support and encourage someone to come to Church or be baptized, I don’t completely control these things. However, how many people I talk to each day is something that is much more within my control. The Lord will never hold us accountable for things which we do not control. However, He will hold us accountable for those things that are within our control.

In Preach My Gospel, Chapter 8, in the tenth step of weekly planning (Finding), it encourages us to discuss “how many people you will contact each day” and to “set goals and plan to talk to as many people as the Lord puts in your path” (PMG, p. 149).

During interviews last week, I have encouraged many of you to evaluate your efforts to bring more souls unto Christ through baptism. It starts with contact many more people each day. I encourage all of you to do the following.

1. Review how many investigators you have that are progressing towards baptism.
2. Review the last four or five weeks and determine the average number of lessons you are teaching each week and how many new investigators you are finding each week.
3. Honestly determine the average number of people you are contacting each day.
4. If you feel you have an opportunity or desire to increase the number of lessons you are teaching, to have more progressing investigators, or bring more people unto Christ through baptism, commit to the Lord to do things differently.
5. Every night, set a daily goal for the number of people you will contact and talk to about the Church, and a daily goal for the number of potential investigators you will find. However, make these goals much higher that what you are currently doing. Make them so high, that you have to change how you work as a missionary to be able to accomplish them.

As I met with four zones last week in interviews, I asked many companionships these questions. On average, most companionships were only talking to about 7 people per day. Instead of talking to 50 people per week, what would happen in you contacted 30 or 50 people per day? Or 200, or 300 or 500 people per week? What would happen to your potential investigators and your new investigators? What would happen to your baptisms?

There are a few companionships that have already taken this challenge seriously and have made commitments to their Heavenly Father in prayer. I received text messages from one of them giving me a daily update on how things were progressing after their interviews. Here are the results from their first three days.

Day #1: Goal: Contact 50 people. Actual: 22 Contacts, 6 Potential Investigators, 1 New Investigator (with a baptismal date!)

Day #2: Goal: Contact 100 people. Actual: 53 Contacts, 7 Potential Investigators, 2 New Investigators

Day #3: Actual: 31 Contacts, 6 Potential Investigators, 2 New Investigators.

In only three days this companionship contacted 106 people, found 19 potential investigators, and obtained 5 new investigators. This was a very good companionship before they began setting high daily goals for Contacts and Potential Investigators, but now they are on target to double or triple their new investigators each week – probably with 10 to 12 this week alone.

That would mean that in a month, they would have 40 or 50 new investigators. In our mission, it roughly takes about 20 to 25 new investigators for every baptism, so this companionship should begin to baptize each and every month!

Sisters and Elders, I know that the Lord is preparing many people for us to teach and bring unto Christ in the valleys of this Great California San Fernando Mission (see D&C 123:12). Many we each set goals and make plans to follow Elder Ballard’s admonition to us as full-time missionaries to “talk to more people every day.” I know that as we do this, the Lord will bless up with great success.

In The Great California San Fernando Mission we baptize!

With much love,

President Hall

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

This has been a really amazing week! Like I told you, last week we had interviews with President Hall and we came out super excited!! We've really learned so much since then about what it means to baptize monthly. If we really want to baptize monthly, we need to be finding at least 25 new investigators a month (that has been our mission statistic--that on average it takes 25 new investigators to get 1 baptism) which is at least 6 a week. To get six new investigators weekly, we have to have the names of potentials basically. Not every potential becomes a new investigator. If we estimated that for every 4 potentials that we stopped by, 1 becomes a new investigator, then we have to get 100 potentials monthly to get 25 new investigators monthly. Then in order to get a potential investigator, you have to contact someone. So imagine that for every 5 people you contact, 1 becomes a new investigator. That is 500 people you have to talk to monthly to get 1 baptism. Now a thought that expands my vision even bigger is that--imagine that you set a goal of contacting 200 or 300 or even 500 people weekly. How would that change how you contact. You can't just be comfortable talking to 5-7 people daily. If you were to try to contact 500 people a week, you'd have to aim to talk to at least a dozen people every hour on top of any teaching appointments you have. See how focusing on baptisms changes how we do things? Literally, we can't afford to let anyone pass us by without trying to talk to them because what if they were the one person the Lord has been preparing for us for this month?

It is super exciting to be going about on purpose and really trying to do the best we can in everything. It has changed everything. Suddenly we realized that we have to drop people that are not progressing much sooner. So that means that we can't afford to not ask people for a baptismal date in their first lesson. Just because we may have fears of doing so is not good enough excuse. Suddenly this week we jumped up from 0 to 5 people with baptismal dates-- all from new investigators asked in the first lesson. We jumped up from averaging 3 new investigators a week to last week finding 8. It is so exhausting but it feels so great to be going about like this! Plus, the amount of funny stories we get is increasing dramatically too because we're meeting so many more people haha! We get rejected a whole lot more, but that isn't anything new by this point. I just love this work, I am so glad that Hermana Barnes is with me at this point because we are so absolutely dedicated to working the very hardest and the very best we can! I couldn't imagine finishing my mission any other way!

We're also experimenting a lot. Trying new things. The hard part is that some of the ideas totally fail. But then we realize that isn't a tragedy at all. We're learning from our mistakes! For instance, we've been trying to think of ideas of how we can better work with the youth and help them invite their friends to come to church etc. So we came up with this brilliant idea to do a hike with them and they could invite their friends. It would be fun and we could have a small spiritual lesson on the top and come back down. There is even a hike in our area, so we were pumped! So we invited all the youth and some of them even confirmed saying that they'd be able to come with a friend. We also started trying out using that in our proselying to invite people to an activity. But come Saturday morning, no one but the young woman's first councilor showed up. Yeah, we were kind of bummed out that the activity didn't work out. But from that we began to analyze and watch the Preach MY Gospel DVD sections of church activities and we got a few really good ideas that we want to try out. This is what I'm realizing from that... sometimes people are afraid to act because of fear-- specifically fear of failure. Failure does kind of stink a lot! But on the other hand, it is just like how the light bulb was invented-- it wasn't 300 failures that count, it was that he learned from his mistakes and finally he got it just right and invented it!

That reminds me of Elder Ballard's talk at general conference when he said:
We know from our research that most active members of the Church want the blessings of the gospel to be part of the lives of others whom they love, even those whom they have never met. But we also know that many members hesitate to do missionary work and share the gospel for two basic reasons.
The first one is fear. Many members do not even pray for opportunities to share the gospel, fearing that they might receive divine promptings to do something they think they are not capable of doing.
The second reason is misunderstanding of what missionary work is.
The other thing I've really been learning this week is about accountability. There is a quote in preach my gospel that says that when goals and actuals are reported, the rate of improvement accelerates. That is huge! It is putting us accountable to the Lord. That is the key I think. Hermana Barnes got a letter from a returned missionary who was talking about how when he was on his mission, he always wondered how returned missionaries could ever go inactive. But now that he's home he realizes. When you're on your mission every minute is accountable to someone-- your companion, your district leader, your zone leader, your mission president, your mom, et cetera. But when you get home and get to real life, you don't have to account to anyone anymore. That is the part that those inactive returned missionaries never understood on their mission-- accountability to the Lord. That is the hardest part. But if we really come to master that, we'll never fall away. But Hermana Barnes and I aren't completely sure how to be accountable to the Lord and there probably isn't one right way for everyone, but one thing we're doing this week is working on our prayers. Last week we decided to start doing punishment pushups for every person we set a goal to contact and we didn't. It is hard, but we figure we'll either get buff or we'll start figuring out how to talk with more people. And most days our daily goal of talking to people has been 100. One day we reached 53. Another day we only reached like 25 and had to do a lot of pushups. But we're definitely learning and really trying to plan better so we can give ourselves the most opportunities possible.

Anyway, I love being a missionary!! I received a powerful spiritual confirmation this week that being a missionary is what I'm meant to be for the rest of my life-- it was all over my patriarchal blessing. Somehow I just have to figure out how to do it better now and later. 
~Hermana Whetten

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just wanted to let everyone know that Whitney will be coming home on Wednesday, December 4th, and she will be speaking in our sacrament meeting on Sunday, December 8th @ 1pm. We would love to have anyone who is able to, to come and join us.

This week was life changing for me. I'll first talk about the fun preparation day stuff we did last week then I'll get into what we've been learning.

So last week we did it... we went to the LA Zoo! We had such a fun time!! It was pretty big and there were some really neat animals but then themes that kept on popping up were animals pooping right when we got there haha!

Then yesterday we went on a hike we found out is in our area. It was a big loop and we walked it briskly and had an amazing time and it was only about 40 mins, so we may be doing that about every preparation day. We may even run it (by the way, we've been running again for probably about a month now and it is great! We've been doing 2 miles three times a week. It has been so great and I just want to keep it up!

Then after that we were going to go to City Walk at Universal Studios, but we got scared off by the $15 parking spots, so we didn't do it. Instead we hung out on this rich street called Ventura and we went window shopping and ended up buying some cheap makeup and stuff so that we can mess around with that haha!

Okay, now for what I've learned... We had two meetings with President Hall this week-- one with all the sister training leaders and one for the mission leadership council. President Hall has recently returned from a mission president seminar and he received very specific revelation to some questions he brought. Specifically, he wanted to know what he can do to help the mission double baptisms. We're stuck at a rate of about 500 baptisms per year and it has been that way more or less for years now. He wanted to know what to do to double that to 1000 and also to help make it so each companionship is able to baptize monthly. He said that has been a big topic for years because of President Hinkley's thought that with concentrated effort, we can double the baptisms in the church.  If you look at some numbers, for each of the 31 mission presidents at that seminar (California, Hawaii, Oregon, etc) this is the trend you see:

Number of missionaries
2013: 6660
2012: 4869

2013: 10,452
2012: 10,555

Number of people at sacrament meetings (nonmembers and members)
2013: 238k
2012: 240k

So what are the conclusions that can possibly be drawn from that? First of all, the number of missionaries has gone up by about 37%. Second of all, the number of baptisms was down by 100 and sacrament meeting has been down by 2k. What does that mean? It means we haven't really been focusing on our purpose. At Zone Training Meeting, we presented this information for our zone and we asked them what a successful missionary is. We got lots of answers like personal conversion, helping build the ward, being able to feel good before heavenly father each night, inviting people to do things, et cetera. We also had them fill in the blank of this sentence: I will be a successful missionary if I _________. I'd like to have you think about what you'd fill in that blank with. Go ahead and take a minute to think about it before you answer too quickly. Because that answer shows a lot about yourself, your dedication, serving God's children, et cetera. Well, the answer President Hall reminded us about is that the blank should be filled in with the word baptism. Baptizing is central to our purpose. It is the dream of all of us missionaries and it is the thing first thing when I came out that I began to feel guilty for thinking. The culture of the mission made us think that we couldn't associate our success with baptisms that we see because if you don't see baptisms for a while you'll begin to feel bad and get stressed and think about going home or crawling in a hole because no one wants to feel unsuccessful. But that's the thing. If we don't really have that as our central purpose, we're guaranteed to not see as many baptisms. It's a catch 22. There is so much more we can be doing than we are but we get comfortable with the amount we've grown so far and we refuse to let ourselves expand more.

President Hall talked about how for so long a big topic of the mission president seminars have been trying to throw out ideas of how people can double baptisms. But one of the speakers said that he talked to a few mission presidents who were actually able to do it and found a pattern that seemed to work. In missions that were able to double baptisms, the key thing done was that the mission president selected 1 or 2 companionships to work with and he committed to do absolutely anything it takes to help them to double the baptisms in their area. Then those few teach the mission little by little what it can do to double their baptisms. And the mission wants to listen because they're more successful. It's like the idea of Pay it Forward. It is very difficult to change everyone. But you can change a few. You can raise the dedication and results in a few. Then with that the mission can become so much better. President Hall is so committed to doing this. To selecting that one or two companionships to work with and to do anything he can to help them double.

To close the mission leadership council where he announced this, he was like crying because he was asking how can he choose who those 1 or 2 will be? He said to text him if we're willing to do absolutely anything it takes to make it happen. Hermana Barnes and I walked out of that meeting crying because we want it so badly. We texted president saying that we're going to do it. With or without his help we're going to do absolutely everything within our power to raise our vision and work with everything we have and do it.

What I learned about that is about how there are levels of desire. There is saying that you'd like something to happen. There is wishful thinking. Then there is wanting something with your whole heart and soul- all of it. That is the secret ingredient. You have to want it. Not just a fair-weather, wishy washy, path of least resistance type of wanting. But the type of wanting that enables you to zone in amidst the fog of every day emotions and thoughts and routines such that you always know what it is that you really, truly, deeply want and you'll give up anything, be anything, do anything so that you can get it. It's the type of passion that makes you ache and cry when it looks like it may be just out of your reach. It is the type that no matter what comes up or what Satan throws at you, you'll never lose grip and sight of what you want. Only that kind of desire where your soul aches and yearns for it will create the type of results you want.

This morning we had interviews in our zone. In that interview with Hermana Barnes and I, President Hall talked with us and saw that we have that kind of desire and he chose us to be one of the 1 or 2 companionships he will be working with because he saw that we had it in us to do it. We have that desire and we'll do anything to get there. It breaks my heart that I only have a few weeks left to become so much more, but I know that it doesn't matter when we learn something. It is the fact that we learn it that matters. It doesn't matter when we learn to walk. This will change me for the rest of my eternity and so it doesn't matter at what point I'm finally beginning to learn it. We have the seed of divinity within each of us. The power is in us. We can do it if we really, truly believe we can and we do absolutely everything we can within our agency. I am so lucky and blessed to be a missionary for my Lord!

Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre!

~Hermana Whetten

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

This was a very great week! First of all, it started with an amazing preparation day last week. Hermana Barnes has decided that the preparation days this transfer are going to be the best in the world! So last week we went to the swap meet for a while to do some Christmas shopping etc. We found out that Hna Barnes super loves bargaining to get prices lower! Haha! It was so great!!! Then we went to a makeup store that had free samples to look at and use and try on, so we did just that. The person at the store gave us some really good tips. It was super girly but actually pretty fun!! Today we're planning on going to the zoo (even though it'll cost $18 dollars! Oh boy! We're thinking it must be huge and amazing for that price. We’re hoping at least)

Then we also had two exchanges last week. One was with another set of hermana training leaders because both hermanas hadn't ever been in that position and were both assigned to do it, so that was president's way of getting them up to speed/give them more ideas. I was inspired by it and one thing I learned is to use your talents more in missionary work. Like literally we wrote out what some of our talents or interests were and then we brainstormed on how that can be used in missionary work. It was super fun and I know that is the celestial way! The Lord's given us our talents and passions for a reason!

On the second exchange we saw huge miracles! The hermana had a goal of developing a passion for finding and we saw amazing things! That day we got 4 new investigators because we taught them finding.

Yesterday a less active came to church for the first time in years and it was super fantastic!!! She was received so well from the ward even though she now has gages and tatoos. People kept coming up to her and saying welcome back! The funny part is that she sent us a text that morning saying that she hadn't been able to go shopping for clothes to wear to church with her returned missionary older brother that week, so she didn't think she'd be able to go until next week. Then we showed up at her door that morning and told her that that wasn't a good enough excuse, so she was like, "okay, I'll go get ready :) "It was super duper exciting!

Lately I've been reading through the Book of Mormon more slowly than I ever have before. I've always read at the pace in relation to chapters. Like 1 chapter a day or 2 chapters etc. But right now I'm reading at the pace of 1 page a day. And I'm praying before and after each page to know if it is true and to know from God about what I should do in my life if that page is true. Then I read and mark and write tons, especially at the bottom of the page I write a few sentences about what I learned from that page. I am learning so much more by going a little bit slower! Like yesterday I was reading in page 24 of the Book of Mormon in Spanish and I learned so much from Nephi's vision of the tree of life etc about love. Love is absolutely necessary in this life. It called it the source of living waters which I was thinking about is why the heart is symbolic of love for us. Blood is our living water. It gives life to all of the organs in our body. The heart is the driving source behind that water. It is like the atonement too in that he shed his blood for us-- or he gave us his love. And the sacramental blood is symbolized by water. And Christ went about among the people and so as we go about loving the people more by listening, walking with, talking with, teaching, serving etc the people around us, we help them come to understand the love of God which brings them unto Christ so they can be healed. I just loved that!!

Oh, I almost forgot, it has also been our dream to paint a house during our mission and we finally got to this past week! We painted a kitchen green. I know, I probably wouldn't have picked it either, but Hermana Barnes talked the hermana into it because she "needs some color in her life" haha! But it actually turned out being a really good color and it at least was super fun for us two!!!

Oh, one more quick thought... I never realized it before, but I always thought that I can develop charity and it can become at attribute of mine. But yesterday when I was reading Moroni 7:47 I learned that we don't poses charity. Charity comes to poses us.

Anyway, I hope you had an amazing week and an amazing Halloween. We had a curfew that night, so we just did our weekly planning that evening.

Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre!

~Hermana Whetten

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Woohooo! What a great week! So we had transfer meeting on Tuesday, District meeting on Wednesday, and on Thursday we had a special mission leadership council to discuss what things we'd like to see changed in the mission. That meeting was probably the highlight of the whole week because so many great ideas were discussed and I learned so much about what a good council is like. I'd like to write a bit about what I've learned about councils.

I feel like I've always been super independent because I can only control my agency. So I've always taken my major decisions like college, classes, mission, etc on my own. I've always felt like I love to make myself goals, but I don't want to bother anyone else to think it through when I don't even know completely myself if that is what I want to do, so I'll just try it out on my own.

But there was one particular exchange I conducted last transfer where I saw an Hermana with that exact same trait in herself and it was so interesting to be an outsider analyzing the impacts of that trait. She had such fire and potential inside herself and I was super inspired by her goals. However, she was afraid of coming back from the exchange and sharing her goals with her companions because they may not understand her and how much they meant to her. So she was thinking of taking it upon herself to guard the flame that had resparked in her during the exchange. I helped her see that flames need to be fanned and that is what companions are for! They only want to help with our dreams and passions. That is why we're given companions!

Another observation I've made is that humans in general don't tend to make time to actually dream about what they'd love to see happen in their life or they don't make good plans when they do dream to ensure that the dream comes about. It is easier to just keep doing what we've always done. It is easier to float down the path of least resistance.

So here is once connection I made this week... that when I started my mission we, as a mission weren't even living a telestial law. Then when Elder Don R. Clark came last December we changed so that we were living the telestial law-- we became obedient to all the mission handbook or in other words the mission commandments. But it was like living the Law of Moses. We had to be told something was okay or not okay before we acted because we were being obedient for the wrong reasons. Then Elder Kopishke came and told us that we are an obedient mission, so now we have permission to live the celestial law-- to change from law of Moses into Christianity which means doing many great things of our own free will! I know that they Lord sent me here on my mission at exactly this time for a very wise purpose. One of those purposes was to help usher in the wave of new missionaries and the hastening of the work. But one of the reasons was so that I could experience the full range of obedience to now finally understand for the rest of my life what it is like to live the celestial law!

That is what I've learned this week. And I've also come to learn that councils are part of living the celestial law so that we can come and reason together and imagine greater things that we can realize together than anything we would have been able to accomplish on our own. Councils have existed since the premortal life. We gathered together in "The Great Council in Heaven" to come and plan the creation and figure out the details together. As we counsel together in councils, so much more is able to be accomplished. That is why  ward and stake councils exist. That is why there are mission councils. And I believe that is why I'd like to propose that we start up a family council.

We have such great people in our family with such experience of being in a council and they all have experienced councils that are more effective and those that are less effective. Dad has been in the high council and ward councils. Mom has been in stake and ward councils. Shaun and Ryan and Britt have been in councils in leadership positions in the mission and in young mens and womens.

Some ideas that I've learned are good about councils are when they respond to needs, when they are united, when there is equal participation, when they work toward the salvation of others, and when minimal time is spent on administrative items and the majority is spent on discussions and free thinking. Revelation is enhanced by good discussion. But one idea is that we could all maybe gather together once a month maybe on the first Sunday of the month for about an hour. And dad could preside or delegate someone to preside and we could all help give dad ideas beforehand of what types of things should be on the agenda for the month of what we'd love to discuss. And we could dream and envision what we can do together.

 I loved reading in the general conference talk this week from Elder Ballard about what is possible in a family council:

Six weeks ago I received a letter from a very successful member missionary family, the Munns family of Florida. They wrote:
“Dear Elder Ballard, 30 minutes after the worldwide broadcast on hastening the work of salvation, we held our family missionary council. We were thrilled to find that our teenage grandchildren wanted to be included. We’re happy to report that since our council meeting, we have expanded our family teaching pool by 200 percent.
“We have had grandchildren bring friends to church, have enjoyed sacrament meetings with some of our less-active friends, and have had some of our new contacts commit to take the missionary discussions. One of our less-active sisters has not only returned to church but has brought new investigators with her.
I think things don't tend to happen until we first dream them into possibility and figure out together what we'd like to do. I am just so impressed by how many good ideas we were able to see as a mission council. Hermana Barnes' and my companionship studies have been getting pretty amazing this past week especially as we discuss problems together and figure out what is within our agency to change (we've discussed what isn't working with our coordination meetings, we've discussed and practiced how to teach even more simply and powerfully and we are learning so much together!). We've been working with our leaders to try to turn our district meetings and zone meetings into much more of a council-type setting. 
I'm realizing it is my dream to be the type of teacher who can teach like Socrates where the class in a way teaches itself. Where everyone prepares and each class is unique as we come together and are in charge of our learning and the teacher is there to direct the learning through questions, examples, scriptures, and stories but that they're not just lecturing. That they teach through drawing out the truth which is already inside of all of us. That is what I imagine a great council to be like as well.
So what do you think?
Just a couple of more stories for this week...
So we had stake conference yesterday and all the missionaries were also invited to the adult session on Friday. At the adult session all 70 or so of us Spanish missionaries in the San Fernando stake were asked to sing Called to Serve and it was super cool!!! I loved it!!
Also, I saw one of my converts from Reseda-- Alba-- yesterday at conference and she said she's working on going to the temple because she's coming up on her year mark. She said she may make it before I leave or shortly after. I told her about how there is an escort the first time going through the temple and she was like "I'd like you to be my escort!" That made me so happy!! That was super cool! I couldn't be more excited for her!
Finally, I had a breakfast thing at like 10am on Friday and that made me laugh. If that would have been my first appointment on the mission I'd probably have been in culture shock! We walked in the apartment and the first thing we noticed was that the roof was plants. It looked like a jungle! They had hung up twine on the roof and had a big planter at the center that had this vine plant stretching out across the ceiling! I haven't seen anything else like that before. And I asked her not to serve me platano fritos (fried plantains) because that is the one Latino food I can't eat and so she walked over and dumped them right onto Hna Barnes's plate. We had omlets and Hermana Barnes' was cold and mine was basically oil. And all along she's trying to tell these stories in turkey-spanish. It sounds about like gobble-gobble-gobble happening at lightning speed. And she asked if we wanted watermelon or jello but we ended up with both. And as she was washing the dishes she grabbed a huge handful of jello and ate it right out of her hand! It was so great! You can't make up characters like that.
It is almost like how Hermana Cortez was speaking and then almost made Hermana Barnes pee her pants when she randomly screamed out to try to scare the hiccups out of Hermana Barnes hahhahaha!!!
I just love this work!!!

Hope you had a great week and I love you so much!!
Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre
<3 Hermana Whetten

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Little Free Library

My camera doesn't work because my camera stopped wanting to read my memory card, but I just got photos sent to me from one of the hermanas that I had an exchange with this week and it was the coolest random thing in the world! We were driving around and then suddenly we saw a little box with books in it and it was a little mini library! So what did we do? We got a book of mormon and wrote our testimonies in it and added it to the little neighborhood library!! It was so cool and I kind of really want to make some to put all around in New Mexico!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

This has been such a great week!!! I feel like I can't even express adequately how miracle filled it has been for us! I feel like it is mostly coming about because of Elder Kopishke giving us permission to dream about the kind of missionary we want to become and then take steps to become that! The Lord is blessing us so much! At the beginning of the transfer, we were pretty much starting up this area up from scratch and it has been hard because it is a very white area. But we're finally starting to get things figured out and we are being so enormously blessed. For example, we haven't had any investigators at church all transfer long, then yesterday we had 3!! We set two baptismal dates this week! We're finally figuring out how to better work with the members and are seeing huge results from it! It feels like things are just starting to boil and big things are happening very soon!

Another random thing that happened this week is that I got hugged by one of the werewolves from Twilight. That's right, we're not supposed to hug boys!!! He literally just walked up to us and was like, "can I give you a hug?" I didn't want to offend him and give him a bad impression of missionaries, so I tried to just stick out my hand so he could just shake my hand, which he did... followed by a big hug haha. I think I ended up just trying to turn it into a half hug. But that story is that we were just out knocking doors and looked around to the building right next to us and noticed this one guy looking up at us (we were on the second floor) so I waved at him. As we were walking out of the building, he was in his car and he told us that he thinks missionaries are so great because he has a cousin that just returned from a mission in Brazil. We thought that was cool, but they were driving away, so we just gave them a pass-along card. Then we continued knocking for a bit. It reached a time that we needed to walk back to our car for an appointment and so we started heading back and he was back at that place outside of the apartment waiting for a friend and that is when it happened. So then we got to talking to him for a while, found out he's been an actor for about 10 years here and he does lots of extreme sports like Parkour, free climbing, et cetera. We then got to talking about God and he believes in God. We got his phone number and they're in the process of moving, so he said we could call him up in a few weeks to get his address so missionaries can come. How cool is that!!! His name is David Lavera and he is so kind! He said he's been in a few other films as well. I guess that's what you get when your area includes Studio City haha!!

But yeah, the work has been going so good. We've really been working with and learning from the members a lot. We found out that Hermana Cortez in our area is actually a ward missionary and that she has huge desires to be doing so much more with us, so we're ready to put her to work!! The Lord is just blessing us so much!

I've also been working on my life purpose statement and this is what I've got so far..

Overarching life purpose statement:
To follow Christ and partake of eternal life with my family and friends

My Purpose Statement:
I do many great works of my own free will to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of as many as I can impact all the days of my life (D&C 58:26-27, Moses 1:39)

My Power Statement:
I am a daughter of God, a vessel of light and truth, a creator of much good. The power is in me, so I will dream, love, and change eternities as I experience balance and joy bringing many unto Christ.

Any thoughts about those? Any ideas? It's still in the working process.

Anyway, this will be a great week. We're having the transfer meeting on Tuesday, on Thursday we have a special Missionary Leadership Council to discuss what the mission wants to change from Elder Kopishke's visit, and we'll probably get our exchanges started up! We're super pumped!!

I just know this will be the best transfer ever because I'm finally getting some things figured out and I am just so ready to give it my all and I know the Lord will continue to bless us. I don't know how, but he will!

Tenga el espiritu consigo siempre!

<3 Hermana Whetten