Monday, August 27, 2012

1 month mark. Crazy!

How crazy! I hit my one month in the mission field mark this week! que loco! 
So this was a little bit harder of a week. Take Friday, for instance... we had fantastic plans: 6 lessons, 4 of which were going to be members present. One by one by one every single one of them was cancelled. Likewise, one of our non-active members that we've been trying to visit left us a note basically saying that she didn't want us to visit any more and in fact, she wanted her records to be removed from the church. We had baptism dates set with this really sweet 8 year old boy, Jeremiah (I forget if I've told you about him or not) who was so happy reading his Book of Mormon and praying every night (and we were also teaching his grandma). We came over and the mom said she was talking to the preacher and she didn't want us to come over anymore because he said it would be bad for Jeremiah to become confused because he is at such a young age. That was just the icing on the cake. We love Jeremiah so much. He was one of those investigators that just made me happy. Like whenever something sad happened, I'd just have to think to myself "it's okay, at least I get to teach Jeremiah tomorrow." He was so excited when we told him "of course, you can be baptized!" He was so excited when we gave him a Book of Mormon. When we weren't able to visit the grandma for a while because her back hurt, he eventually told us, "even if you can't teach my grandma when you come back on Friday, can you teach me?" And now because of that preacher that talked to the mom, we won't be able to teach him. And that was devastating. We were so sad! We definitely shed a few tears. Basically it seems like everything that could go wrong did that day. 

But from having to go through that our companionship grew a little stronger. Likewise, I believe that I became more converted to the gospel. It would be easy to be disappointed because our numbers looked bad this week because of things beyond our control. And because missionary work is almost completely based on things beyond the control of our own agency, it is easy to get upset and feel like everything bad happens to you. But I realized that numbers and feelings like that are completely selfish. The numbers didn't matter at all. What mattered was that these people are making choices that are bringing them away from heavenly father and true happiness. And that is devastating. How my day goes doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I could get that same type of day every single day for the rest of my mission and it doesn't really matter. I will have known that I did the best with my own agency in inviting others to come unto Christ. Hopefully my day isn't like that every single day for the rest of my mission, but if it is I will not be any less converted to Christ. I am not a fair-weather missionary: just being happy and working hard when you have the right conditions. I am a missionary that will keep working despite the conditions and despite how many people reject me. Why? No matter how many sad things I go through on my mission, it isn't even a fraction compared to Christ. I am a disciple of Christ. How can I be expected to call myself a disciple of Christ if I haven't gone through that infinitesimally small portion of what He went through during the atonement?

But yeah, last week was just one of those weeks. I'm hoping that all of that will turn around this week and we'll be blessed with miracles. 
Oh yeah, we're going to be looking for an apartment in our area to move into sometime soon. Since we don't live in our area we are wasting gas everyday having to drive to and from our apartment to even get to our area. Likewise, when we have to pick up the other hermanas for activities, we have to go way out of the way. So we're looking for something in our area. We're going to check out a couple after this today. I'm not sure when we'd be moving, but I'll keep you updated so you can have my latest address etc. I'm pretty sure we won't be moving this week at least and probably not next either, but I don't know. 
Hmm... I don't really have much else to share from last week, so I guess I'll say some random things about the mission... 
The apartment from the Karate Kid is not too far away from my area. On some future preparation day, we're planning to go there to take some pictures etc.
The roads and driving are very different. Like you can park on like any street almost (except highways obviously). The only time you can't park is a few hours for whatever time the street cleaner comes for that particular street. If you do that you get a ticket. You can take U-turns practically anywhere. The drivers are pretty crazy. Last Saturday we actually saw an accident right in front of us when we were walking back to our car. Crazy! But there is this one road in particular that I really like when we drive down. It is called Sherman Way and I'm not sure if you can look it up online or not, but it is lined with palm trees which is super pretty! There are palm trees randomly all over the place, but that street has them more organized so it is prettier. 
There are also different types of palm trees and to keep them looking pretty people have to scale the palm trees and cut off all the old dead palms. Otherwise it will just keep growing upward with the dead stuff piling on dead stuff stuck to the tree and it is like the tree has a big beard and it is just like hairy. 
The food here of the Latinos is really good. They serve corn tortillas with like practically everything. There are also some new stuff I've tried. For instance, they have a thing called horchata. It is a drink that is kind of like milk but with like flour or cinnamon stuff mixed in (depending on if you're doing the Mexican or El Salvador type). Papusas are delicious! It is like a kind of homemade thicker tortilla with delicious stuff stuffed inside it. There are bean kinds, meat kinds, cheese kinds, etc. They also do their tacos differently. They take the corn tortillas that are soft and just do little small ones that you fold up. You put the meat mixture, the chopped up onion, the chopped up cilantro, and the salsa in it and that is it. 
The vast majority of the members here are first generation converts. Like I'd guess even somewhere around 90-95% I'm in a Spanish stake, so that makes a difference, but it is really interesting dynamics because usually the ward missionaries can take over after baptism and help teach the new convert lessons etc, but they depend so much more on the missionaries because most of them are newer. 
There are also a lot of poor people here. There are people on carts who are food venders selling whatever. On Saturdays and Sundays there is someone outside our apartment who sells Tamales and they scream out that word for hours on end and most of the time it doesn't sound like that. It sounds like some type of horn or weird animal call. But it is pretty sad. There are quite a few illegal immigrants I've met too, both in the church and on the street just saying "no tengo mis papeles" -- I don't have my papers. You can tell the missionaries from the ward who were from illegal families because they are sent to a different mission in California and they can't use the planes so the family has to drive them to and from the MTC. 
All the apartments have gates so when we want to get in we have to wait around until someone lets us in going in or out. 
The children all speak English because school is in English so they are taught English from Kindergarten etc. None of them remember if it was hard to learn English or not because they were still young when they learned. 
The members are so extremely nice to the missionaries. They love us. They would pretty much bend over backwards for us. Maybe that is because most of them are first generation converts who understand how important this work is. But yeah it is really nice. We try to offer service all the time and most just won't let us. They scold us when we try to even take the plates to the kitchen. 
One other random thing that I've been learning a lot about. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say that they knew this church was the true church because of a dream even just this month. I never would have even thought of that as being a method of spiritual communication because I'm white and we're taught that dreams don't really mean anything. But they have the blood of Lehi and Nephi etc and so to them dreams are so big and are often the way that they find out the truthfulness for themselves. Crazy, right? But it is also pretty cool!
Anyway, I should probably go soon. But if any of you have questions for me about what it is like here or anything, feel free to ask! I'd love to tell you about it! 
Have a great week and may the spirit be with you! 
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, August 20, 2012

a letter from a missionary

Hello!! Wow! This week I'll already have been here for a month. Just a few more weeks and it's already my first transer out here. I can't believe it. It's just flown by. That's why I can't waste a single hour or a single minute. Otherwise it'll be over already! Crazy!
Shaun, that was so cool to read your letter that your boss has been going to work and is receiving the missionary discussions! You rock! Also, good luck Britt and Court with going back to school. Good luck mom and dad with canning all the peaches and everything. Sarah, how is the pregnancy going? Do you have any more ultrasound pictures? Or pictures in general work too haha. Ryan, YAY I got an e-mail from you! I love you all!
If you want to start looking for a book for me that would be sweet. I don't necessarily need it soon but it would be cool to get it at some point. I believe it is called "1001 Pitfalls in Spanish" or something similar to that. Evidently it is supposed to be really good because it goes through examples of how you might say something in English and then it shows how the translation in spanish isn't exactly the same. A missionary here recommended it highly, but the library's copy of the book is checked out. I think I'd like it if you're able to find it but it doens't have to be right away if it takes a while because I've got plenty I can work on in Spanish right now.
Speaking of Spanish, I love learning it! I think the first few weeks I would zone out sometimes during discussions or church etc because it takes a lot of mental effort to concentrate when you can't exactly understand everything so you're trying to figure out what they're saying by the context. But I am getting to the point where I really do understand so much of what they're saying and it is exciting! It's interesting because the Hispanics here are from everywhere... from Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, Chile, Honduras, Argentina, et cetera. So we will get all types of dialects but I think that is better because I'll get to the point where I can understand many types of Spanish easily! Well we have this one investigator that we found while knocking...she let us into the house because it was so hot that she didn't want to keep standing at the door. But man, that is one of the few people I can't understand a thing she says because she speaks a mile a minute and doesn't give you an opportunity to say more than a line or two. But I'm excited that at least the understanding is there and I can definitely communicate a lot in not perfect spanish. Eventually I'll get to the point where I can communicate in great Spanish too.
I guess one of the themes that's come up this week is that the Lord really sometimes has to bring people down to low points in life before he can build them back up. Here are a few examples:
1) Hermana Yengley- I believe I told you the start of her story a few weeks ago. So her water had burst so for about a week she had to just lie down flat so that her baby could stay there for as long as possible. Last week she had an emergency c-section and her baby was born last week about 3 or 4 months early. His name is Ethan. He's in the NNICU in Los Angeles and so after she got released she's been driving up there every day to see him. She isn't a member but her husband is a member and before she had the impression of the church that there are many hipocrites in the church and I guess she just expected the members to be better for some reason or another. I'm not sure what happened in the past but that was the point that she was at. But we told the relief society president about her baby being born so they've started bringing food or helping around the house or whatever they can do. We haven't been able to visit her besides texts for a while (we're hoping we can this week!) but through that and through this whole experience her husband tells us she is so much more receptive to the gospel now than ever before. In her case, unfortunately the Lord made her go through this very hard time, but she is coming out of it so much better than before. Oh yeah, Ethan is obviously fighting for his life, but they did a scan and his brain is completely functioning and normal. What a miracle of the priesthood and of God's love!
2) We have a non-active member named Marcos who had been diagnosed with colon cancer last month. The ward wanted us to go visit him (without knowing this) so we did and found that out and were able to get him a priesthood blessing (he didn't think he was worthy to have received this blessing because he hadn't been at church for so long. So it was a miracle that we went when we did and were able to set that up for him!). Luckily it is in the early stages of the cancer, so hopefully the surgeries next month will take care of it. But he also has a wife who is not a member. This news is especially hard for her because just recently she got back from El Salvador (I think) where she had to bury her brother who died. Likewise, she has rheumatoid arthritis. So between those and the news that her husband has cancer, she was just crying and is so stressed and sad. The elders were able to give her a blessing of health and for comfort as well. Then we came and visited with them last week and give them a lesson on the plan of salvation which meant so much to them. We told them how their family can be forever and how that can give us so much hope and joy and comfort in life. She said we can keep coming back to teach her! Also, he came to church for the first time in such a long time yesterday!
3) We ate lunch at a member's house this week and she has a friend she wanted us to go visit, so right after we were done eating we all went over there and met Daisy and her daughter Priscilla. They are such a great family and I especially love Priscilla. I think she's 20 and when she found out that we were missionaries she was like "Oh, so you're fishers!" and we said "yeah, exactly!". I love that she said that! And it means that she reads the Bible and understands it and loves it! But she also understands exactly while we're here. But she was telling us about how she used to be a drug addict and it was through building her faith in Christ that she was able to overcome it all. So she was so excited that we were here so we could help bring her family unto Christ too. I'm so excited for her and know that the Lord has so much in store for her. But once again, it is an example of how the Lord brings people low before he will build them up.
Honestly, I love that thought. But the thing is that after we're built up we tend to be more sure in the faith. I guess it is like Helaman 5:12 and it is because when you're built back up, you're built up on the foundation of Christ. So when the devil will send forth his hail and mighty winds it will have no power to knock us down again because of the sure foundation... the foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
Even if we're not at the lowest points in life, the gospel can bless us and build us up more. It can become like the refiner's fire so that the little black pieces that are logged in us can little by little be chipped or melted out of us until we finally become that beautiful thing that Heavenly Father always knew we could be. I guess another analogy is a sculptor. At first the chunks being chipped away are huge. But then at the end it becomes finer and finer... there are still the pieces that need to be removed from us, but by just letting go of those things we become so beautiful. Eventually he's able to polish us up and we've become what the Lord wanted us to be. He sees the beginning from the end and he has the plan for us. He knows what he wants us to be. By letting our will not even just bend... but letting our will become the Lord's will we can become that special something that we never would have been able to be on our own.
In a way, I had a few moments this week when I was just tired or grumpy for no big reason at all, but when I was able to just let it go (like the chunks of marble) I was so much happier and had an increased desire to be more full of charity and love for everyone. I really felt like the spirit was able to be in our lessons more abundantly. Like on Saturday we had two lessons in particular where it wasn't us teaching, it was the Spirit. And it was an honor to be in there for that. By letting go of those chunks of marble that the Lord doesn't want, I know I'm becoming a better missionary, a better companion, and a better person. I love this work! I can't even imagine the person I'll be a year from now. I am so lucky to be out here!
That was a lot of the big stuff that happened this week, so I'll go ahead and send it now. But yeah, we also had zone conference this week. It is really interesting that we have so much training all the time. On one hand it could be seen as a waste of time that could have been used for finding more people or teaching more lessons or whatever. Like the zone conference lasted from 9am until 5pm on last Wednesday. But honestly, we need them! It is through all this training as well that we can be come the missionary that isn't just working hard... but is working efficiently and effectively as well.
Anyway, have a great week and may the spirit be with you!!
~Hermana Whitney Whetten

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hi! I hope this week was fantastic for all of you! It has been great to hear from everyone! Shaun and Sarah, this week I got the letter that you sent! I'm glad you haven't forgotten me! Mom, thanks also for the spiritual thoughts/quotes you've been including lately. I love them! Chesea, I got you're letter but I'm going to wait to reply until I get your new address.
Mom asked about if I felt an earthquake which evidently happened south of LA. Nope. I kind of saw a part of a news report when we went to a member's house for a meal about that, but we didn't feel anything. It is kind of funny that you bring that up because since our mission is in earthquake territory, all of the missionaries have to keep this bag on our bedposts with like shoes, water, and other things like a whistle and stuff like that. The president said that no one has ever needed that stuff thus far, but it is always better to be prepared!
Before I forget also, this next part is for Chelsey Schlegel (I am not sure if I spelled that right at all) who served on this mission... so there is a new rule where elders can't give sisters rides and sisters can't give elders rides at all, so we've been having to pick up the El Camino sisters all the time for like some baptism services, zone conferences etc. I just thought it'd be cool to let you know that your name is still known here! Since you were there for like 11 months your name is like a legend there.
Oh yeah, before I forget too, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ryan!! I still don't have your mailing address (you should write me after you move!) so that's the only way I can let you know really. But I hope you have a great birthday! I'm glad you're my brother (even though that means that I have to deal with your pranks etc a veces).
Now for the most exciting news! We had our baptism of Katherine yesterday!!!!!  I think Satan wants to stop every single baptism from happening, so with Katherine he tried to stop it because the dad wouldn't sign the permission form for the longest time. His last ditch effort to stop it from happening was that the mom broke her wrist this week and has been in so much pain. But the baptism happened regardless!It was such a sweet service! Her family came and many people from the ward too. Her primary teacher gave probably the best talk on baptism I've seen. It was so simple but so direct and sweet. She did it in Spanish but because Katherine like most young people knows English really well, some parts that she really wanted Katherine to understand were in English and Spanish. It was just so great and directed straight at her and her testimony was so strong. I loved it and if I ever have to give that talk I want to do it just like her! But yeah, it was so nice! Hermana Hansen and I did a special musical number of "Cuando me Bautice" (or When I am Baptized-- I think that's the name of the song in English... it is the one that starts with "I like to look for rainbows"). That is Katherine's favorite song and so when we were singing it, we saw her singing along with us quietly. I loved that! I am seriously so excited by the baptism and I just want to get the whole world baptized! If everyone could experience that joy of being completely clean and pure and then have the courage and strength to endure to the end, this world would have everlasting peace!

Also this week, I extended my first baptism invitation to a grandma and her son. We had been planning to invite people for the last few weeks but the spirit just never was quite right. But she had recently had someone in her family pass away, so we taught about the Plan of Salvation to them. She was most extited when we told her that in the resurrection the spirit is reunited with the body once again in a perfected state. I guess Catholics believe it is some sort of spiritual resurrection, but she got so excited and was like "I want to believe that!" So then we invited them to be baptized and they accepted. She wants to pray more to make sure that this is for her but she accepted. And the grandson was like super excited. He practically wants to jump into the waters right now! That one might be interesting because we'll have to work with the mom to get the permission form etc again, but that's okay. It will happen if it is the right time! But yeah, extending that commitment is the best thing ever. Maybe because it was my first time, my heart was like pounding like "please say yes!" but it is so exciting!
It is funny because you will absolutely have both extremes all the time. You will have the best times in the world. But then you'll also have times that break your heart. There was one person who we visited this week in particular who especially comes to my mind. His family is all baptized and active members... some of the nicest and most giving members that you'll ever see. They want so badly for their dad to join the church with them and so missionaries have visited with him for quite a while I guess. But we gave him a lesson on the Word of Wisdom because he likes to drink beer and other stuff all the time. At one point we asked him what the consequences of continuing to drink beer are and he said that it'll probably eventually tear his family apart, he might get cancer, and he listed off other things like that. So he KNOWS that he shouldn't. But he doesn't want to change. We could help him if he has that faith and hope and desire. But he simply doesn't want to change. And it breaks my heart. Seeing his wife and daughter sitting there being so sad at his choices and him not wanting to change hurts so badly. But that is what agency is all about. No one can force you into heaven. Heavenly Father must sometimes be so sad at people because he wants to help us and he wants us to be happy if we just follow his way. But because we're afraid to change or we don't think we're strong enough to change we don't. It is so sad.
Anyways, I guess that is what missionary work is. The absolute best and the absolute saddest days.
But anyway, remember that New Era page you sent me in the mail a few months back about the Jamaica runner who would race people in New York on his mission in his suit and holding the Book of Mormon and then if he won the race they'd have to go to church? Remember how you added the note at the bottom about how in missionary work it is fantastic to use any talents you've been given? Well all of the MTC time I was wondering how I could apply that to me. What talents that I have that I can share? So I've found a few ways that I love to apply my talents to missionary work
1) When we're knocking on doors and people aren't interested in our message we always ask if we can leave them with a song and a prayer. Then Hermana Hansen and I sing (she is soprano and I'm alto) whatever hymn we feel like would be good and we pray. The fact that she loves to sing is one way I know that she was supposed to be my companion! Because I love to sing too! We love to sing a song before lessons as well. Now that I'm on the topic of singing, it is almost funny how the nativos sing. Like during church they sing loudly but no one is really on pitch or singing exactly the right rythm. No one really plays piano either and so the missionaries kind of play with what little skills we have. So when we sing prettily at the door I think it helps them feel the spirit a little bit and they always comment on how good we sing. Also a random song story. My first Sunday in the field in Sacrament meeting we sang song 88 in the spanish hymnbook... it is a song called "Placentero nos es Trabajar" and it is a song only found in the Spanish Hymnbook. But that is the song that my MTC district sang ALL the time and so when we came out to the field and that was the first song we sang at sacrament meeting it made me very happy and is one of those little tiny miracles for me.
2) I always used to bake cookies to give away to people. When I was the Laurels president, I would bake cookies for people's birthdays. When I was in the seminary council I remember there being a special christmas service project of baking cookies. I used to bring cookies to some Break the Fast things. But that was like my thing to do. Well, Hna Hansen and I have a few times a week been baking cookies to bring to people. On days that we bake cookies during comp study, we will plan for 4 families to bring the cookies to. Sometimes it is our investigators, sometimes it is a less active, sometimes it is a member who needs some upliftment. But we've been able to see some miracles come to pass and a few extra lessons that have been taught and definitely some houses and doors opening up because of a simple thing like baking cookies for people.
I guess I'll leave you with a spiritual thought or two.
There was a training we were at where they told us that there are three types of missionaries.
1) the missionary who comes upon a figurative wall in the path and becomes devistated
2) the missionary who comes upon a wall in the path and starts praying but does nothing more
3) the missionary who prays to know how to build a ladder
well I think there is a fourth kind of missionary maybe...
4) the missionary who simply climbs over the wall like it is nothing... yay for rock climbers! But seriously. With God, you can do ALL things! But ever since I told my companion that we've been analyzing walls that we come to when the doors are locked and we're waiting for someone to come by and let us in (because almost all the apartments have gates) and we've started analyzing how I could get over it if I wanted to (and wasn't in a skirt.)
It is always good to love what you do. We are the captains of our own soul. We're in charge of our own destiny. An interesting idea they gave us in the last big trainign was that the secret to being a good missionary/ never feeling trunky/ never feeling lazy is this:
You have to be capable of imaging that you will be a missionary for the rest of your life and be okay with that.
I totally agree with that. This work and this life is about joy! So why complain? Complaining doesn't solve things. There is never a reason for it. That is like throwing our blessings back in Heavenly Father's face. If we can get to the point where we can be grateful for the trials we're given that is when we can see we've really gone somewhere. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things (though sometimes as sister missionaries we do have to kiss their cheeks). But yeah, enjoy life! That's why we're here!
OH yeah, the pictures I added were taken before Katherine's baptism. The missionaries are me, Hna Hansen, and Hna Fish who was Hna Hansen's companion before me. (She is in the El Camino area right now)
Have a great week and May the Spirit Always be with you!
~Hermana Whitney Whetten

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Hello Family and Friends!!!
Holy Cow! Santa vaca! I'm in California! How cool is that?! I love it here so much already! Well actually my first impression of the field wasn't the absolutely great. When we were landing at the airport, all I really noticed was how bad the air is. The smog is so bad here. Eww. So that was my first impression. But ignorning that, I seriously love it here. My perspective is as a biologist coming from a desert. Don't get me wrong...I absolutely love the desert and love that it has a beauty all of its own. But being a biologist coming from a desert, all the plants in California are like eye candy for me. I love the palm trees! I love the flowers! I love everything. Seriously, you'll just be walking or driving along and there are so many absolutely beautiful plants to look at. There are so many interesting and different types of trees and flowers and plants. It is like being in a tropical forest. I love it!!!!
Anyway, before I forget, let me give you my apartment address first. I'll be living there for at least 3 months because they have a new 12 week program for new missionaries and their trainers. So that address is:
8960 Orion Ave #21
North Hills, CA 91343
My companion/trainer is so nice. Her name is Hermana Hansen and I can already tell that she was meant to be my companion. She is so patient with me and everything. But most of all, she loves to sing and she sings so beautifully. We get to sing all the time too. We sing before companionship study, we sing in lessons, and we sing when we get to a door of a person who isn't really interested but are willing to listen to a song. But yeah, Hermana Hansen is from Nashville and is great. When I got in the first night the apartment was so decorated in green stuff. There were green streamers all over the roof and on the doors and ballons everywhere and she had bought me some green stuff and put it in a basket on my desk. She also did little things like write a welcome message on the mirror in green. I love it!!! But the cool thing is she doesn't call me a greenie. I know I am, but she doesn't make it seem like a bad thing at all. (after all, green things grow and ripe things rot, right?!)

The schedule is kind of silly. Well there were absolutely abnormal days because of some orientation and things like that taking up all day. But when things go as normal, this is basically the schedule:
6:30 am - wake up, exercise, breakfast, shower, etc
8:00 - personal study
9:00 - companionship study
10:00 - additional companionship study using the things in the 12 week new missionary thing
11:00 - language study
So by the time language study is over it is 12 and time for lunch. So really, we don't even get out of the apartment until like 12:30-1:00 pm. That is kind of silly but it is definitely good because I need it all!
I'm in an area called Reseda and it is a car area. But it is really interesting because we don't even live in our area. I guess I'm finding out that housing here is extremely expensive. Like we live in a simple apartment with a kitchen, living room, one bedroom, and a bathroom and it costs $800 per month. So I guess we're not living closer because that is the cheapest they could get that is actually decent living space.
Oh yes, the elders in our district are also really pretty cool. Well, interesting at least haha. One day we drove home and were just about to pull into our parking spot but there was a huge origami swan in our spot (I took some pictures, so I'll try to attach them). Some of the elders had taken the grocery store ads that we get in the mail every day and they taped them together and made a huge swan. It was so funny. They were going to put it in the apartment, but the key they had for it didn't work, so they put it in the parking spot. But I guess they were worried about it flying away in some wind, so they taped the wings down. So to me it looked a little bit more like a chihuahua. But yeah, there was a sign on it that said something like "this is 'swan' great mission" and "hope you get the best deal out of it." I think the elders had a little bit too much free time on their last preparation day, but it was a great and surprising welcome to the mission on my second day in the field!!

I love being a missionary! It is so neat to get to talk to people. There is one 8 or 9 year old named Katherine who Hermana Hansen has been woring with for a while and last night her dad finally signed the permission form so that Katherine can be baptized! So I will have my first baptism in two Sundays! We have a few more investigators who we'll be trying to see if we can get a baptism date goal for them this week. A lot of the work we do is with the inactive or less active members to help them come back and it is great because we can see people in all stages of their testimonies. So getting to work with them is so sweet. We have had a chance to knock on a few doors and that is pretty fun. I mean most people are just not interested, but we've had one person who listened to a little bit and we talked about her life and left her with a song, a prayer, and a pass along card. It was really pretty neat.
Oh yes, yesterday was the 5th Sunday and evidently in the Reseda Ward on 5th Sundays the missionaries speak and I was one who got to speak. But luckily for me, every week at the MTC we had to prepare possible talks for our zone sacrament meeting, so I took one of those talks and I worked on it. I spoke about faith and how it is important in everyday life, but it is especially important in missionary work because faith is a principle of action, so when you really start having faith, you can't help but want to change your life and in a way one of those changes is to want to invite others to come unto Christ as well. Mom, the Instant Preparation book also came in handy. I used the story of the little girl whose father worked in a well and he asked her to jump into the well even though she couldn't see him. My companion and I worked and translated that for companionship study or language study (I forget) one day. I love that story/poem in English because it is such a great example of what faith is all about. The great thing is faith is not only a principle of action, but it is also a principle of power, so faith is also how miracles are possible.
I don't really know what I'm doing at this point and I feel a little lost wherever I go so far (but I am starting to recognize buildings, some streets, and landmarks), but I do know that I'll eventually figure it all out. The thing that is fantastic is that the people here are so kind. Like after sacrament meeting everyone came up to me and was telling me how my Spanish really is pretty good. I understand a lot of what is being said in lessons even though the people oft times speak a lot faster than they did at the MTC. I have a long way to go, but I'm happy and optimistic about everything. One thing that'll take me a while to get used to is how different the Hispanic culture is. It is defintley not bad. It is just different.They are very close people and the ladies always come up to you and to say hello they kiss your cheek. At church I felt like my one cheek was probably covered in lipstick. Plus, they like to eat with their fingers and so if you try to eat some things with a fork they will be like "sus dedes, hermana" (your fingers, hermana!). Also, some of them really really like to talk and they'll tell you anything and everything about their lives. I love them so much and and so excited that I'm getting to know them better, but it is a little different now.
I think that's about all for now. Have a great week and I hope your summers are all going fantastically well!
May the Spirit Be With You!
Hermana Whetten