Saturday, July 21, 2012

So much has happened this week! I really am not sure where to start!
I guess before I forget, can you tell Sister Danny (I think that is her spelling) Harper thanks for the bags she made that look like a quilt for each of us when we graduated from young womens? We aren't allowed to use backpacks or big bags around here, but that was literally the perfect size for here and so I've been able to get so much use out of it while at the MTC. And it is cute! I love it!
Also, this past week, Jenny Oaks Baker came and did our devotional on Sunday. It was extremely inspiring but it was especially cool because I got to see her just a few months ago at the Time Out For Women thing. I also got the best seat in the whole place, literally right in front of the piano and I loved it. There was so much emotion that went into the piano player's playing and that made it mean that much more to me! Also, my companions and I were glad that during relief society that day they taught us how to sit like ladies because our legs showed up on the screen for quite a few shots of the piano.
Oh yes, Courtney asked me if I could help her with a fear she's having. She said she's really afraid of fires lately and she's not sure what to do. Hopefully I can help out a little bit by some things I say now! I guess the first thing to do is figure out exactly why you're scared. If you're afraid because you think your house is going to be burnt down by all the fires in New Mexico currently, I'd say that fear isn't necessary because the house is far enough into the city that the fire fighters would never let the forest fires get to your house. If you're scared about other people I'd say you also don't really have to worry. Fires usually burn slowly enough that people have plenty of time to get away. After that, maybe it is good to realize that fires aren't necessarily bad at all. In fact, fires are really good for nature. It gives a chance for the dead trees and the underbrush to be cleared away and for the soil to get nutrition again. In fact, there are some seeds that will never sprout until a fire has come because that is the condition necessary for germanation of that seed. Thus, it actually helps with the growth of the forest. In the scriptures, there is also a great analogy of how fire is 3 Nephi 24:3 it is talking about the refiner's fire. That is the type of fire necessary to purify things like gold and silver. So if we relate that verse to ourselves, if we let the Lord be that refiner's fire for us by making ourselves an offering in righteousness (via giving everything that is required of us), he will clear away the impurities little by little to make us something we never could become on our own-- gold or silver. In this analogy, the fire isn't comfortable by any means. In fact, it is at times downright painful like fire. But that is what is necessary to clean away the little bits of us that are holding us back from becoming the beautiful precious metal the Master of the fire wants us to be.
Thanks for your lifesavers in the backpack. They came in really handy this week when we taught a lesson on tithing to show that the Lord blesses us with so much and we only have to give one tenth back. I used the lifesavers to show this. But then we read the scripture that the windows of heaven will be opened if we do this and so then I poured out the rest of the bag onto the table to show this. So they are delicious, but it worked out perfectly for that as well!
Quick question...if you get the opportunity, can you look to see if you can find a mini Preach my Gospel in Spanish online? It is called Predicad Mi Evangelio. One of the Elders that came in this week had one and said that the church has started making them and I think that would be convenient if you can find some like online or something like that. If not or if they're expensive, that is fine. But if you can find one. I'd love that!
Now for another quick Spanish mistake of the week brought to us by beautiful Hermana Coleman. So we were teaching a lesson about the law of the fast and fast offerings and Hermana Coleman meant to say something like "in this manner we can follow the example of Christ and feed the poor people. But instead of feed the poor people, she said "podemos comer los pobres" or we can eat the poor people. I love my companions!
This week I got to be a new missionary Host again and it is my last week getting to teach the new district all the little things about the MTC as coordinating sister. Along those lines, we also had in-field training yesterday (which is why I'm writing today). It was a little bit cheesy at times, but they were so creative to do things to keep us interested and to keep our attention since we were literally in there from like 8am until a bit after 9pm minus some breaks for food and stuff. But I learned so much. I am a little nervous to be out in the field because now everything is for real. But I'm mostly super excited. I know I have so much to learn and master, but I guess that is why I'm going to be given a trainer who knows all the strings etc. Some good things I learned, for instance, were how goals are fantastic and necessary but you need to have the right proportion of everything. All of the key indicators (like people baptized, referrals received, lessons taught with a member, et cetera) are like the ingredients of how to make chocolate chip cookies. The mission standard is like the chocolate chip cookie recipe. And the goals are kind of like how many batches you're going to make in a way. Anyway, there was so much stuff we learned about how to work with members, how to really utilize true principles to create miracles, et cetera. I'm so excited to get out in the field now!!!
That reminds me, so I got my travel itenerary last week and I'll be leaving the MTC on Wednesday morning at 8:00am. My plane will be flying at like 11:15am and like an hour or two later I'll be in California. So I guess if you want your call at the airport make sure you are home around like 9 or 10 or so in the morning. But yeah! It's real! I'm going to be out there so soon!!!
 Another thing that happened this week is that one of our Elders left us this week to go back home. I won't share his name, but his presence has definitely been missed. Everywhere we go, especially in the classroom and in the cafeteria it seems like someone is missing. He was really great, but I guess there is something that he personally needs to get taken care of back at home and then he'll return on a mission. We don't judge him and we are extremely excited that he is learning about the atonement and how important it is in our lives. He wrote the district a letter before he left and I feel like it is extremely powerful and hopeful, so I want to share it:
I have really come to love you all (teachers included) and I am so thankful for all of your testimonies. I would like to share my testimony seeing how I never got the chance before I left. I know that my Savior lives. This is his true church. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and we will all be resurrected and have the chance to be in the presence of our Heavenly Father once again. Families can be forever, I know with all my heart that my family is a gift from God himself, and I am so thankful for them. I know that there is no human problem in this life that cannot be saved through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We cannot be the best we can be without the presence of the Holy Ghost in our life, and that is why I have to go home. I want to be the best missionary for the Lord, and I will be back to do that I just don't know when. I cannot deny the truth, and that is why I live to be a member of this church. You all will be wonderful missionaries and will help build up the kingdom of God in your own special way. Amen
 Just because..."Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world, there is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously let others do the same, as we are liberated from our own fear."
 PS- I wasn't the native today
Now I want to share two more spiritual thoughts. One of them happened when we were practicing the fundamental of Revelation Through Prayer. We as a class watched the first vision scene and then we role-played where one person was the missionary that just taught this first vision and was going to teach and invite the investigator to pray and the other missionary was an investigator. So we each took turns and on Hermana Coleman's turn she had me pray specifically about this event and the restauration and told me to have a moment of silence to wait for the Holy Spirit to testify to me. After this prayer, I just started crying. My heart in a way felt like it was bigger and warmer than my chest. It was the weirdest thing because I'm a missionary. I already know with all my heart that these events really did happen. But the spirit will never stop testifying of the truth of that to you even though you already do know it. It was such an additional powerful witness to me and I am so grateful for that sweet experience,
The last thing is a thought that they shared with us during the workshop on Monday. It was so good!! There was a poem went something like:
He asked me to go to the edge and I said "No, I can't go to the edge. I might fall."
"Come to the edge" and I said "No, I can't! I'll fall"
"Come to the edge!" and so I came and he pushed me off and I flew.
This relates to our lives because the Lord knows exactly what abilities we have. He knows what we are capable of even more than we do. He'll never ask us to come to the edge if he knows that we'll just fall and die off the side of the cliff. But he will always patiently ask us to come to the edge to see if we're brave enough to obey everything He asks us to do even though we don't understand why. Only through that act of faith can he prove to us our true nature and our abilities. That is why faith is so important.
Have a great week and by this time if anyone wants to send me a letter, it'd probably be best to just sent it the California address. Thanks!!!

May the Spirit be with you!
Hermana Whetten

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hello again! Another week has gone already! Time sure does fly.
Okay, let's see if I can remember all that happened this week. Well, first let's start with something exciting last week that I forgot to mention. Hermana Roades last week had her two year anniversary of coming back to the church. Her mom is a devout Baptist and her dad is either not a member or inactive or something like that. So she got introduced to the church by her grandma and grandpa and she was baptized when she was somewhat young like 8 or 9. But somewhere in her teenage years she went inactive and was just living life how she wanted to. She told me the whole story and everything last week while running one day, but yeah, it was her two year anniversary and so that night we all brought out all these snacks we've gotten and we all shared and had a quick testimony meeting on the floor in our room to celebrate. It was fantastic!
One something a little less exciting, the other night the fire alarm went off at 12:30 in our building. At first I was so confused at why something loud and annoying was going off and I tried to ignore it until we realized oh I guess that is a fire alarm. I'm not sure if it was a drill (why would you do a drill that late at night?!) or if something did happen but a police car did come and the cop inspected the building for like half of an hour. It was probably the weirdest fire drill in the world. The sisters were way too excited and awake and talkative for that hour of the night. But we were teasing if this was the real world we could contact people that late and be like "oh, is there a better time I can come back and visit you?"
Before I forget, thanks for the side bag and all the goodies inside!!! I especially love all the fruit leather! Yumm!!! But seriously, the index cards have already come in handy and the stamps. The hair stuff is great and the binder is so useful. The snacks are fantastic and I love the waterbottle! Seriously, you all are the greatest. Thanks!
I got to be a host for new missionaries this week and that was extremely fun! We did the normal drill from when we got in of dropping stuff off, getting name badges, getting books, and then going to class. But it was a really fantstic service that I got to do. My residence hall is the newest one but there is also an older one that has sisters but it doesn't have elevators, so we always got some elders to help carry it up the three or four flights of stairs for us. They were so kind. They were like, "I would have been offended if you didn't ask me to help!" I love that us sisters are treated so wonderfully everywhere we go. Elders love to hold open doors for us. That is the right way to be treated!
The Tuesday night devotional was absolutely fantastic this week. There was a speaker from the emeritus 70 named Robert R. Steur and he has like 26 patents in the medical field and all these other fantastic achievements. He's currently working on a retranslation of the Portugese Bible because the one they're currently using is from like 1910 or something. So he is fantastic but he has this love of words similar to me. To me, I love finding out about words and what they actually mean in their Latin roots etc. Especially in Spanish, I love to find out what words actually mean because when I do it helps me remember the word better. For instance the word for fast in Spanish is ayuno and the work for breakfast is desayuno so it is just like English---you're breaking a fast. This type of idea is sort of like Atonment in English can be broken down into At-One-Ment. Cool things like that make words take on a whole new meaning. So here are some words he broke down (and some of them I had actually been wondering about in Spanish like expiacion what it breaks down into and I wasn't able to figure it out so he figured it out for me!):
Expiacion (spanish word for atonement): the pia part is like pius or to make holy. So the expiacion is the way that we can finally become holy or actually become saints like the name of our church. And our church is the only one which can actually use the Atonement fully through the restored priesthood.
Reconciliation. Re= again. con= with. cilia= seated. In other words, reconciliation is being able to be seated with God again. How cool is that?!
Religion. ligion-->ligor or to bind. So you are binding or sealing or linking or tying or connecting yourself together in the one true order.
Sanctification is to become sunty (I think that is the word in Latin?) or holy
Sacrifice= from the word sacrificar or to set apart (how can you have a full mission if you don't sacrifice? that is one reason why we're set apart?)
commitment or the spanish word compromiso = with promise or real intent
and there were a few more but I love the power of words!!!
Another few interesting things he said were that any excuse no matter how valid always weakens the character. Also, we don't have to fear... the truth can defend itself. Just like in physics where Force always equals mass times acceleration, it is a law. It will always be that way whether or not someone understands it. No matter who tries to test it out, it will always defend itself because it is absolute truth. That is why this church is true and growing. Because it is the truth and it will always defend itself it people seek with real intent, etc. I just thought that was a fantastic way to look at it!
Going on that a little bit, one of my teachers, Hermano Bell gave us all a quote that I love by Elder Henry B. Eyring. It says "I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Chrust. I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tinted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am lifted up in prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my goal is heaven. My narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed, will not flinch int he face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table with the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the case of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me and when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me."
I love that an encourage everyone to make any changes they need to so that this can be their motto for their lives also!
 I just have a few more things to say about the lessons we've been teaching. Every week in class we've been focusing on a different fundamental like revelation through church attendance, revelation through prayer, et cetera. Well the fundamental this week was "Teach People, Not Lessons" and I think because of that our lessons this week have jumped to a whole new level. It used to feel like I had to compete with my companions for turns to speak or else I'd only get to say one sentence during an entire lesson. But that focus this week helped us all calm down and allow for moments of silence to let the spirit really speak to the investigator and to speak to us so we can actually use inspired questions et cetera. Take, for instance, Valdecir. I forget if I've told this already or not, but we had been teaching him for a few weeks and then he told us one day that he just didn't want us to return because he felt like it was causing his family to become more separated. We talked about his concerns and was able to talk about how sometimes we have to have faith that things will all work out and then a week or so later, his wife moved back in and you could tell his countenance was so much different! But the last few lessons were on the word of wisdom and becuase we used the principles of teach people and not lessons, he was so excited to give up his addiction to coffee. He isn't a real investigator, but still, it is so exciting to work with him and be able to really help him develop faith that with the Lord he can do all things. When we worked out the plan for helping him stop drinking coffee, he was so excited and throwing in suggestions like "oh yeah, my friend Rafiel can help me!" et cetera. It was really cute because at the end Hna Roades was talking about how she wanted to give up something too that is difficult for her just like giving up coffee is difficult for Valdecir. So she decided she'd give up ice cream. Then he made the comment "I think I can give up coffee before you can give up ice cream." It was just so funny.
Then our other investigator Rober we've been having trouble connecting to him and really making him feel the joy this gospel can bring. He also hasn't really been keeping his commitments of reading and his faith in himself and in Jesus Christ is lacking. So we've been thinking what could really help him and we decided to give him a compromiso of figuring out a specific question (for him it was something like "after I am done with all my work and my children have moved out, what then?" and even when he told us this he was like "I know you don't have the answer to it, but that is my question." And of course we don't have all the answers, but we have faith that the scriptures and prophets have all the answers) then praying about that specific question then open the Book of Mormon and start reading. So he didn't do this compromiso on his own because he didn't have faith that it would work. So this last lesson we talked about faith quite a bit and the importance of it and then we had him do this compromiso right there in the lesson. So he prayed and opened his scriptures. This was probably a bigger act of faith on us than on him because who knows what he would open up to, right?! Maybe he would open up to the part where Nephi killed Laban and we'd have to get into that discussion. But we acted on faith as well and he happened to open up to Mosiah 2:17 about service and that was the answer to his question. We told him that he can continue to receive answers to his questions if he prays and has faith that he can receive the answer through scripture study and it was funny because he looked at the Book of Mormon like it was going to bite him. I almost started laughing. But he just thought it was weird to open the scriptures and start reading like that, so we said that it's okay to start at the beginning and just start reading too.
Anyway, I don't know if I did those lessons justice in explaining them right here, but especially the one with Rober I was honored to be in the room for that lesson. It ended up being so much more powerful that I could have ever done it on my own. I can't wait to go out into the field and be able to have experiences like that one for real.
Anyway, I'm glad Idaho was evidently great and I hope the Whetten reunion is fun as well.
If possible, can you get me Ann's and Chesea's addresses? I know I haven't talked to either of them in so long, but I'd like to write them. Oh, and Melissa Bench too! I love having people to write on my preparation day!
Anyway, yeah, this week was fantastic. I believe next week is my last full week so we will have something called an "in-field training" on Friday and I'll get my preparation day next Saturday instead. So yeah, that'll be different. I can't believe the MTC experience is wrapping up. Hna Coleman the other night started crying and got up and gave me a huge hug for so long because she is going to miss me so much and we won't be able to see each other for so long if at all (I hope that isn't the case). But she was like "you need to show me the Grand Canyon like you've talked about and I want you to take me rock climbing for my first time" and all these things. I am going to miss her too. It is going to be so hard to say goodbye!
Anyway, I'd better take off. May the Spirit be with you!
~Hermana Whitney Whetten

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hello All!
Another week has come and gone so quickly. I can hardly believe it. I mean the first few weeks seemed to take forever because the schedule seemed so packed with doing something every minute. But now that I'm used to it, time really just flies.
I hope you all had a fantastic Fourth of July. I'll have to tell you about mine because that day was totally different. But first, a few quick stories... So this first one is another funny language thing that happened with Hna. Roades. Last week when we were at the temple she had this thought that the people in there looked like sheep which she thought was cool because it was kind of like the sheep in Christ's fold. So she was trying to tell Brother Bell (one of the teachers) that in Spanish and he had this super confused look on his face. But it just so happened that Hno Bell butt dialed the other teacher Brother/Hno Evans. So the next day Hno Evans got into class and was like "you know that thought about sheep in the celestial room or something like that? Well, I could tell you were trying to say "they looked like sheep" but you used mirar instead of parecer, so instead of saying they look like sheep you said they see like sheep. Pienzo que es solomente un poco differente, no? But it made me laugh quite a bit.
The thing about Hna Roades that is fantastic is that she speaks slightly wrong stuff like that all the time but it doesn't deter her. She knows she'll get it right eventually, so in the meantime she just tries so hard to speak as much as she can even if it isn't correct right now. I love that about her. I love my companions so much! I feel like this week I got to know them both so much better. We've been running together during many gym times and between that and telling each other stories at service time et cetera, I feel so much closer. I am actually really really really proud of myself. Every gym time we've had since last Saturday, I've spent running about 3 miles then stretching for the remaining 10-15 minutes. So I've probably already run 15 miles this week. It is fantastic and I am so proud of myself because I don't think I've ever done that in my entire life. But I feel great when I run. I mean I don't run fast. It is probably more like a jog. I think my pace is about a 10 minute mile give or take a little. But the thing is that I can consistently just keep running at that pace and so I feel great doing it. I love it because when I run like that I feel like my body is happier and that I am able to make wiser choices with what I eat and how much I eat. It is all around fantastic! But I love that my companions love to run with me and that they'll tell me tons of stories during this time. Thus, I think I've decided I need to find a running buddy when I get back to New Mexico because it is so much better with someone else. It takes quite a bit to keep going when your body tells you it doesn't want to, but if you can get over that on your own or with someone, you feel fantastic afterward!
So about the Fourth of July... so it seemed like a normal day and I assumed that it would end up being like Memorial Day where there really isn't anything special. During the day it seemed like it. I mean Hno Evans took us up to the 5th floor at the window with a great view of the mountains and we read from the Book of Mormon about Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty. So that made the day a little special, but besides that it seemed like a typical day. But then we had a special fireside-like thing in the evening and that was almost like the weirdest thing. Usually firesides/devotionals are these quiet and reverent events. After music you never clap and the place never gets that loud etc. But when we got in there that night we were singing songs like Happy Birthday, Popcorn Popping, and Once There Was a Snowman. It was seriously the weirdest thing ever. When the actual fireside started, some eagle scouts from a nearby ward did a flag ceremony for us and there was a Judge who gave a talk about America and relating it to Joseph Smith etc. Then afterward there was a fiddle musical number of a medley of American songs. But halfway through some people got up from the audience and put some cowboy hats on the fiddlers and the whole mood changed from serious to like everyone in the crowd clapping etc. That was kind of weird too! Then afterward they had some narrators and we watched a video that I think is on youtube of MOTAB singing Called to Serve (if I remember correctly) with many pictures and videos of the MTC and all around the world. After this there was a video which one by one put an image of a missionary on a map in the location of every single mission around the world. It went by really quickly... like I think there are 340 missions but it only took like 3-5 minutes for this video thing. They put them up in alphabetical order and when our mission came up, we raised our hand all excitedly. But it was really fantastic being able to see it that way. There are so many missions! and being able to see it like that made us all so extremely excited to be out in the world and to be a part of it all!!! After this there was a bag pipe player and then people carried in their flags from all around the world (I think every country that has someone at the MTC had someone carry in the flag). Then some people carried in banners of Joseph Smith to the front and the light was shining on it all pretty from behind and we all sang a Joseph Smith song. But after all of this we went outside and they gave us ice cream bars and told us not to go back to our room until after the firework show was over. So we got to watch the fireworks from the BYU stadium and we had like the perfect view. It was so strange because we didn't even get back to our room until like 11:00 or so, but I am so happy that they made the day really special for us even though we are at the MTC!

Also, this week it kind of hit me that Fast Sunday can be almost as big as New Years. I mean New Years is all about making goals that you wish to accomplish through the year. Well in a way, fast sunday is there to review your goals and see if you're making progess and to also make those goals into smaller monthly goals. In a mission, everything seems to be about making goals and I love that. So when I realized that about fast sundays something big clicked. So I made a list of things I want to do in my life, what I want to do in my mission, what I want to do this month, what I want to do this week, and what I want to do this day etc. In Preach My Gospel there is a quote by Elder M. Russel Ballard that says "I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life." I know I don't want to look back on my life and regret not having done more. I mean so much of people's time nowadays is spent on the computer or watching TV when really we can be doing things to make our lives absolutely amazing and actually living up to our full potential. So I learned that about goals this week and I hope during my mission to learn how to make and live goals effectively so that I can get back and accomplish amazing things with my life!!
Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic week. I know you're traveling this week, so good luck on the road and I hope that you are all safe and that everything goes fantastically well!! I love you all!
May the Spirit be with you!!
~Hermana Whitney Whetten