Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hello all!

Good morning! I sent a snail mail letter the other day, so hopefully you will get there soon but I ended up having time in between laundry loads to write a quick e-mail. The MTC is amazing and my companions are awesome. I only have a half P-day today because it is the first week, but starting next week, my P-day will be on Fridays and I will get to go to the temple and do everything that day.

I started telling you about the MTC and my compainions in the snail mail letter, so I won't repeat those right now. But I will tell you about yesterday a little bit. It was kind of nerve-wrecking. We had to teach a lesson to an investigator in Spanish and it was only our third day on the field. We tried our best to find words that we could remember to describe, but so many words just escaped my mind because I was so nervous about the language. I think it is good that I am having to learn Spanish on my mission because if I just had to teach in English I'd probably be extremely prideful and confident in myself and my knowledge, but now I am learning to be humble because I'm back at a place where I feel like I don't understand or know much once again. However, I know that as I diligently practice Spanish with my companions and pray and study as much as possible, the language will start to come to me poco a poco.
Anyway, the lesson with Carlos went alright and there were times when we could tell he could feel the Spirit but there were other times that we were looking for the words, so we were looking at our notes and prach my gospel et cetera and we lost his attention at those times. He was all checking his phone and everything several times. But it is okay, it was a learning experience. When we walked back to our room and were a little disappointed, the substitute teacher that day told us stories of him learning the language on his mission and that helped a lot. But he told us this quote that I loved so much. The question was why is it sometimes so hard when we are serving a mission--I mean we are doing what the Lord wants us to do, so shouldn't it be easy?! Well, one of the presidency's response was something like how can we expect to cal ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ without having to go through even just a small portion of what the Lord went through at Gethsemane? That makes so much sense and so I welcome the hard times right now. I know that the mighty oak never became such without having to overcome years of strong winds and seasons of terrible winters. I know that these experiences are making me stronger and others keep telling us that the language will come. I like how he also told us that the bad times will outnumber the good times on the mission but the good times will outweigh the bad times by far.
Let's see what else... I love the MTC so much. In practically every classroom and orientation I've gone to the Spirit of the Lord just keeps on touching me so strongly. This place really is where I need to be to become the person the Lord wants me to be. I love my companions, roommates (who are like mothers to us! though one will be leaving next week and so the other will become a solo sister). I love my district and my zone so much. The zone leader is such a goof ball!! I love the time we get every day to exercise. It always come right at the perfect moment too-- just when our brain really needs a break! We have sister-only gym classes that my companions and I so far have always woken up to attend extra early in the mornings and during normal gym time we've tried out lots of different things to do like we played volleyball one day, ran laps and used the cardio equipment and I stretched for a while the next day. I think today we might try a different weight lifting room because a different sister told us about these core or arm or whatever video you can request for them to put on etc. Anyway it is wonderful. I also love the teacher we have, Brother Evans. He speaks almost entirely in Spanish to us, but the way he uses gestures really helps us understand. He is very nice. I definitely can't wait to be able to go to the Provo temple next week! I know it will be wonderful and I am so excited to be able to do it! I also can''t wait for Sunday night and Tuesday night devotionals because I've heard that they are amazing. Everyone keeps telling us how we just need to get past the first few days at the MTC and then it is a bit easier. Whether or not that is true, I am sure as I work on my spanish and memorizing more word and phrases it wil come to me little by little.
I love you all and can't wait to hear from you. I'm glad you liked the letters I wrote for you. I love that I wrote you all letters and that you all snuck letters into my bag too. It is almost like we were on the same wavelength lol! Anyway, it is time to go change a load of laundry now and so I will write to you again next Friday hopefully! Love ya and may the spirit be with you!!
Love, Hermana Whitney Whetten

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Official Missionary

Whitney and President Rounsville just after she got set apart as a missionary

With the parents

Uncle Larry, Aunt Amanda, and the Fam

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Mailing Addresses

Hello all! I am in my final few days left in New Mexico. Here is what I have coming up:

Today: some last minute shopping as well as packing and cleaning all day

Tomorrow: Sunday May 20, 2012: Farewell Open House from 6:00-8:00pm. Everyone who wants to come is absolutely invited. We will provide finger-foods. This is just a chance for me to say goodbye to people. The address for that is:
106 Utah Meadow Rd NE, Rio Rancho, NM 87124.

Monday, May 21, 2012: I will be set apart as a missionary at 8:30 pm by my stake President.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012: I will fly out to Utah at about noon. My brother will pick me up and I'll get to hang out with him for that day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012: I will enter the Provo, UT MTC (Missionary Training Center) at 1:25pm! I'll stay there for about 2 months learning the Spanish language and then I'll be off to my mission (the California San Fernando Mission) for the remaining 16 months or so (18 months total) as a missionary.

These past few weeks have been a lot of "lasts" for me. A few examples among many are:

  • My last days of school and my last finals (this one is a little bitter but mostly sweet)
  • My last dance class (I'm definitely going to miss it!)
  • My last yoga class (maybe the MTC will have yoga classes at their gym?? I have no clue)
  • My last day of work (it is really weird to quit a job I love!)
  • My last time going to the Albuquerque NM temple with my mom and dad
  • My last time eating out at places like Twisters and Carl's Jr (for the Western Bacon Burger, of course) with my family
  • My last Sunday tomorrow with my lovely primary class
  • My last time singing with amazing Institute choir (though I plan to sing with the MTC choir, of course)
All these "last" things have been hard. It is difficult to let go to things, places, and people I love. New Mexico has been wonderful to me and I will definitely miss it. However, I realized that though these past weeks have been weeks of "lasts," the coming weeks will be be times of "firsts" and I am sure it will be wonderful. I'll have to keep a journal of some of these firsts. 

ANYWAY... the most important part of this blog post is so that I can get my mailing addresses to everyone! So, without further adieu, here they are:

My MTC address (from May 23, 2012 through July 25, 2012):
Sister Whitney Whetten
MTC Mailbox # 228
CA-SFER 0725
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

My Mission address (from July 26, 2012 through November 2013):
Sister Whitney Whetten
California San Fernando Mission
23504 Lyons Ave Ste 107
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
United States

Though I will have a missionary e-mail address, snail mail will be the best way to reach me probably. Anyway, I'd love to get letters from everyone to hear how everyone is!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Farewell Talk

As a little explanation for this post... It is tradition for missionaries to give what is called a "farewell talk" before they leave for their mission. Mine happened to fall on Mother's day 2012, so that is the topic I was given to talk about. I was also the third and final speaker of the sacrament meeting which means that I had to take up all the remaining time for the meeting. I prepared for at least 30 minutes (just in case) but only ended up needing to talk for about 15 minutes, so I tried to get across the essence of what I wanted to say in that shorter amount of time. At the request of my grandparents who weren't able to make it to New Mexico, I audio recorded this talk and then typed it up later.

I'm so grateful to be here today. I am Sister Whitney Whetten and I am leaving for my mission in California in a little bit over a week.

 I really have tender feelings toward this topic of mothers because I have been blessed with a wonderful mother. I'm not going to try to tell you that my mother is perfect because she is definitely not perfect. She raises her voice sometimes, she gets frustrated, sometimes she uses words that maybe she shouldn't use, she has missed some of my performances, and I personally believe that sometimes she sacrifices too much. So she is definitely not a perfect mother. The term I like to use instead is evolving. She is an evolving mother. And it is such a wonderful gift for me that I don't have a perfect mother because it shows me that, like her, I'm allowed to make mistakes sometimes too. I'm allowed to take the baby steps necessary to slowly repent and become more perfect every day. I am so grateful for that wonderful example of my mom not being perfect.

My mommy on the right with her grandbaby, Max

What I really love about my mother is how she loved me no matter what. She loved me when I was born. She loved me when I was five years old and I took a nap with gum (which I wasn't supposed to do) and I woke up with gum stuck in my hair. I didn't want her to find out and so I cut off my bangs. She still loved me when that happened. She loved me when I was eight years old and I refused to wear matching clothes. She me when (actually, this next one she got really mad about) I got homemade tootsie roll stuck on the wood frame of my bed. She loved me no matter what I did and that is what I love about my mom. I didn't have to be the valedictorian for her to love me. I didn't have to win all these awards and be this perfect person for her to love me. She loved me regardless.

That love has been an extremely powerful knowledge for me because if you never learn that you are worthy of unconditional love, it is hard to believe you could ever get it and it is even harder to believe in heavenly parents and a savior who would love you unconditionally as well. You struggle to even imagine that a love like that could apply to you. My mom made it clear that all I had to do for her to love me was simply to exist and I am grateful for that example from her.

Motherhood is an interesting term because I always thought that it applied exclusively to bearing children, which it definitely does apply to. But if you think about it, in the scriptures, God the Father and Adam called Eve "the Mother of all living" before she ever bore children. That teaches me that motherhood is something sort of like priesthood that was ordained in heaven. There is a wonderful quote I have by Sheri Dew about this. She said:

Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.

 I love that quote because it teaches us that that is who we are. Women really are special. Sometimes it is easy to forget because guys actually get ordained with the priesthood but just like that, women were foreordained.

It is hard to believe sometimes how important women and mothers really are because Satan has waged a war against motherhood and women. He tries to make us believe that we have to be on the cover of whatever magazine in order to be successful and many the other things like that. But I have a story to try to illustrate the true role that women really play on the world.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down at the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was  a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?" The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
I guess I should have asked, "Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?"
"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."
"But young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can't possibly make a difference!"
The young man listened politely then bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. "It made a difference for that one!" 

Isn't that what it is all about? There is a scripture that talks about the ninety-nine and then the one... about leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one. That is what motherhood is all about. You might not make a difference to all of society by raising a child (and maybe you will) but you made a difference to that one child. Even if you're not a mother (like me, I'm not a mother) you can still make a difference to that one person and that is what it is all about. 

For some people, mother's day is extremely difficult and I found a quote for anybody who may be in that situation. There are many situations for which that may be the case, but I found this next quote by Chieko Okazaki for anyone who may be like that. I just love this quote. It says:

We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that he experienced everything-- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief.
We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.
That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not know and recognize.
On a profound level, he understands the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion.
His last recorded words to his disciples were, "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)
He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down's Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only visitors are children, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years.
He knows all that.He's been there.He's been lower than all that.
He's not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don't need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He's not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.

I was able to start forming a relationship with my Heavenly Father many years ago and that is what I've come to learn about him. He knows you and he understands you no matter what. Just like I was talking about earlier, you're going to make mistakes, but Christ is there for you no matter what. 

In conclusion, I just want to say thank you. There is a quote that says that it takes a village to raise one child. This ward has definitely been like that for me. Thank you all for everything you've done to teach me about everything and for working with me. I'm definitely a better person because of you. 

I'm extremely lucky to have been born to a family with such a wonderful heritage. It is relatively rare to have a sister missionary go out, but I found out from talking to my grandma this week that I will be the fourth generation of female missionaries in my family (on my mom's side). I am so blessed to have such a great heritage. 
Isaac Newton said that, "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

I know that that is definitely true for me. I am grateful for the giants like my family, definitely like my mother, and like all of you who have helped bring me to where I am today. I also want to say thank you to my mother for everything she has done for me. She is definitely not perfect, but she did everything she could and more. She used to wake up super early to read scriptures with me before she drove me off to seminary, she would pick me up every day after marching band in high school, and she was brave enough to sit with me in a car when I was learning how to drive. I am so grateful for her and for everything. She will probably never realize how great her influence was on me. She taught me to become a better person and to love people more completely.

I am so grateful for all of you and that I was able to grow up in this wonderful ward. These things I say in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Golden Heart

After I got my mission call I met someone through facebook who had recently returned from the mission where I will be going to. Through her blog, she shared with me a story that I've thought about a lot since I got my mission call. So I want to share that story now:

There once was a young man with a heart of gold. All were able to see his heart, and it appeared to be very pure and golden. The young man treasured his heart deeply and eventually arrived to become very prideful of this most beautiful possession. To his advantage, the young man would travel, flaunting it at every opportunity.

“Look at my heart,” he would say, “It is the most beautiful heart in all the land. Wouldn’t you agree?” Many did agree. Upon inspecting it, one would not be able to find a single flaw on the surface. For many years the young man went about showing his heart off to anyone that would pass, becoming more boastful and narcissistic as time went on.

One day, an older man happened to pass by him. The young man leaped at yet another opportunity to show his heart to someone else. Like the other passersby’s, the old man inspects this heart of gold.

“This is very impressive,” he says, “You appear to have a very beautiful heart. I’m sure others have told you that many times.” Handing the heart back to the young man, the old man stops and ponders. He then asks, “Has anyone ever shown you their heart?”

“No, they haven’t,” replied the younger man. In fact, it had never crossed his mind to ask to see someone else’s heart. He had always assumed that there was no heart better than his own.

“Would you care to see mine? I would like to show you,” offered the old man.

A little taken back from this unique offer and also thinking that this poor old man will not have a heart better than his own, the young man agreed.

The old man carefully took out his fragile heart. Upon seeing his heart, the young man is taken back in disgust and fright. In his hands there was something that did not resemble even the littlest bit of the heart of the younger. Was this old man sure this could be a heart at all?

It was a distorted mess of pieces smashed together. Certain places were shriveled. Pieces were missing. It appeared that it was made of different parts that didn’t fit quite right. Many different colors, bright, pastel, grey, and dark shimmered and dulled around it. But nevertheless, it was in perfectly working order. It might have even worked better than the boy’s flawless heart.

The young man finally worked up the courage to comment.“This cannot be any heart at all. It does not look or feel like one. You must have no heart old man. For this reason you have shown me this thing. You want mine.”

The old man started to smile, “My dear lad. It is indeed a heart. You are correct that it is not like the others.” While he observes his own tender heart tears of memory start to form in his eyes. “While I have lived my life I have come to know a lot of people, a lot more people than you have. They have been dear friends, acquaintances, family, and even enemies. Every time I have met someone I have given them a piece of my heart. Many have given me pieces of their own in return. But also, many have not given me some of theirs and I am left without. I live my life to give of myself. I am left with this in return. It is the most precious thing that I have. There are memories of those I love and those that have helped me in my most desperate times. My heart, I believe, is the most valuable of all.”

Finally understanding, the young man is moved to tears. He breaks a piece of his precious, golden heart and caringly gives it to the wise old man. The old man removes a piece of his fragile heart and gives it to the young man in return.

For the next year and a half, that is going to be my main goal. I am going to give a piece of my heart to others as I try to serve them. My heart will probably become broken. There will be a lot of pieces missing. I will receive pieces that will be dear to me.

It is a commandment for us to offer God a sacrifice of a broken heart. (3 Nephi 9:20)

Sometimes I think that our heart doesn’t have to only be broken by sin. I think that in many ways God wants to intentionally break our hearts as we are continually giving pieces of it to others. Christ never sinned, yet he died of a ‘broken heart’. No matter how it is broken, I know that Christ was sent to ‘bind up the broken hearted.’ (Isaiah 61:1)”

~(mostly quoted from