Monday, September 24, 2012

Hello! I hope that this week was wonderful for everyone!
First of all, I came up with a motto for myself! My Motto: 212. What does it mean? Well, water boils at 212 degrees. Nothing less. You can heat water to 210 degrees for 100 years and you won't get a single iota of steam. It is that difference of 2 degrees that makes all the difference. That is like life. You can be doing good and you can feel like you're on fire practically even. But it is that difference of going the extra mile of being exactly obedient to the commandments (or mission rules in my case) or making your study time that much more effective or being that much more obedient to the spirit or making your prayers that much better that creates that 2 degree heating that really makes all the differences. That is when you can see the steam or the miracles in life. That is when you can finally be completely an instrument in the Lord's hands. It's also kind of like the scripture in the Bible about how you should either be cold or hot. What good is lukewarm water for but to spew it out of my mouth. Either go completely to the 212 degrees or don't go at all. And you want to know the cooler part? My birthday is 2-12. Coincidence? I think NOT!! 
Oh, I want to tell you about a cool object lesson we came up with this week when we were preparing a Lesson 3 (The Gospel of Jesus Christ which is Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End) lesson with Stephany. It was really silly and really fun and it workout out so perfectly in the lesson. Like Stephany was even like, "wow, that is a really cool way to think about it." So here it is: 
Imagine that you have this blouse which is your favorite blouse and you love to wear it everywhere and it is white and attractive and goes perfectly with everything. You're just going about your day and enjoying an ice cream cone when suddenly you look down and a huge blob of chocolate ice cream was spilled on this blouse. How terrible! So what do you do? You get your handy-dandy Tide-to-go pen and work on trying to get the stain to come out. That is really really good and you're so glad that you had that in your bag. But it isn't really clean. The stain is still there and you can still kind of see the edges. So the way to really get it clean again is to obviously go get it washed. Then when you're done washing it you don't just put on the wet shirt, you then put it in the dryer. Then when that is done and you want to make it look really nice and presentable again you get your iron and iron out the wrinkles. Then you're good again to go and get interviewed for a job or to go spend time with your family and friends without shame or embarrassment. 
This is like life! You are the blouse and inevitably by living we will make a mistake. Sometimes it is just a little one but some of them are like a huge blob of chocolate ice cream right down the front of the shirt. Obviously you don't want to go around wearing that for the rest of your life like that. You would be embarrassed and ashamed and sad. So you get your tide-to-go pen which is like repentance. You can work it out a bit so that it is kind of clean again. But to really get it clean, you have to go through the whole process and get it washed. This is like putting your shirt in the washer. It can then become completely clean as if it was never there in the first place. No one needs to remember the old stain any more because it isn't there anymore so who cares?! Then obviously you don't wear a shirt that just got out of the washer and is soaking wet. You put it in the dryer to finish the process. That is like receiving the gift of the holy ghost or the second half which completes the first half--the baptism of fire in a way. Then after that you're still not done. You have to take the iron and throughout the rest of your life you have to work on ironing out the wrinkles again until it is perfect enough that you can wear it to the big interview or to return back to heavenly father. 
Life isn't over after that. You have to continually go through and do it all again because you're going to make more mistakes after this baptism. You have to continually work on your faith. Then when you make mistakes you go through the process of repenting and scrubbing at the future stains again. Then you can wash it again which is the sacrament where you literally can become just as clean as that baptism day again (just like we wash our clothes each week, we take the sacrament each week!). Then we dry it again or do the things to keep the Holy Ghost with us and we can iron out the wrinkles or our imperfections. 
It was so cool teaching that lesson. We taught it with scriptures at each point to help emphasize it all then we wrapped it up perfectly with the scripture: 3 Nephi 27: 19-20. Man I loved teaching that lesson because the spirit was so strong the whole time. Like when I feel the spirit strongly I feel literal tingles and I was tingling throughout the whole lesson! It was so cool to be in it. 
Anyway, let's see... 
One really cool thing happened this week. After sacrament meeting, the bishop introduced us to someone who was like "what is the process of getting baptized? I want to get baptized. My dad was a member and I just never got baptized so I want to." Holy cow!! You never imagine that just happening to you! She is so great! She is in the process of moving and so she may end up in Reseda (my area) or she may end up in Van Nuys but we'll have to see. She is a YSA, though, so we might be able to teach her anyways through that but it'll depend on if her mom wants to be taught too. We'll just have to see haha! But that was seriously so cool! 
Also, there was a cool missionary fireside we put on. I was in the missionary choir (of course :) ) and so everyone stared off in the chapel and then they took half of the people away at first then about 15 or 20 minutes later they took the other half so the groups could be smaller. They went through 4 classes on faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the holy ghost and the choir got to entertain them with music and Mormon message videos. Then when everyone was done and we met back up all together again, the stake president had a short talk on missionary work and also enduring to the end. It was such a great experience for everyone!! It was really fun too! 
So I'm super excited for the Relief Society broadcast this coming week and then General Conference next week! I have no clue if I'll be listening in English or Spanish, but it should be fun either way. I've lately noticed that I am getting better and better at listening and comprehending. Now I just need to especially work on my speaking. Maybe I'll get a nativa in a future transfer and I can speak in mostly Spanish. 
Oh yeah, we did this new thing this week where instead of getting frustrated because every time we wanted a member to come we would go through all the members who live in the area and none of them are available... we are now passing a list around of time slots that people can sign up to go out with us. We'll pass that around Relief Society. That has been so helpful! Of course some members ended up falling through, but we did our part to try to make it so there was a lesson for every member instead of the other way around and trying to get a member for every lesson and being frustrated because there are so many schedules to coordinate. It has worked out great and I know as we work on getting members to lessons we'll see even more miracles! They always have such strong testimonies to share of how they found out that the church was true for themselves. We also found out that Eurice who is living here for a few months (she's from Guatemala) wants to go on a mission in a few years. So when we move to our area, we're going to try picking her up in the morning and then having her be with us all day so she can see what missionary life is like. It'll be super fun! 
I think that's about all. Have a great week and may the spirit always be with you! 
~Hermana Whetten 
oh, PS-Sarah, I hope you're doing all right and that the baby'll flip and you can be able to get good sleep sometimes!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Fire in My Heart

Monday, September 17, 2012
A Fire in My Heart 
Oh man! Another week has come and gone. I've learned a lot this week and we've done so much as well. 
First thing's first. Since we don't live in our area, we've been having to use up some of the allotted 1,100 miles per month even getting to our area and going home. So the president is having us actually move into our area. We have been spending several hours a week trying to look for apartments, so we found one that seems like it'll be good and last Saturday they put in the 30 day notice in the one we're living in currently since it's lease came up and then on October 1st we'll be moving into the new one. Thus, until that week my North Hills address is perfectly fine, but after that you'll want to use my new address: 
Hermana Whitney Whetten 
7123 Etiwanda #14 
Reseda, CA 91335 
I'm pretty excited because that is very central to our area. The neighborhood is pretty good and also pretty Hispanic. It is a little smaller, like the kitchen especially, but it'll definitely work. Also, it is just off of my favorite street here. I think I've told you about Sherman Way, but that street is seriously so beautiful. It has palm trees lining the sides of the street and also the medians. It is the only street that is really like it. I'll have to try to remember to take a picture for you sometime! 
Anyway, I guess I'll start off with a few more things about California. 
One weird thing is that the license plates here can have symbols too. Like as one of the "letters" there can be a heart or a star or I think I've even seen a handprint. It makes me laugh! 
Another cool thing is that a lot of celebrities live in my mission, especially in North Hollywood. But the thing is that I work with the Hispanics and the Hispanics are who work for the celebrities. So we'll just be talking to some Hispanic that we meet or find and they'll just talk about how they got to meet some of these celebrities. For example: 
1) Hermana Fish, an hermana in the El Camino area, has a Red Bull that Justin Beiber gave to a worker and the worker gave to her because she kind of has the Beiber Fever (man, I think my English spelling is going! that doesn't look like I spelled it right!). It's really only a pseudo-obsession, or so she says, but we like to tease her about it a little. 
2) We were visiting a part member family and got talking to them and the husband works as a caddy (I think that is the name for the people who walk around holding people's golf clubs) at a golf resort thing. Well, one time he got to be the caddy for Clark Kent from Smallville! He got a signature and everything! 
3) A person in our ward works for Steven Speilburg! 
Holy cow! It is crazy! Obviously that's not what my work is all about, but it is seriously crazy to hear things like that!

Anywhooo....I think the coolest story from this week was that we set another baptism date with Herminia. We found her by going through some of the old referrals that were dropped from the area book. She is seriously so cool and so ready. She has been catholic forever, but when we asked her the questions like "do you believe it is possible for there to be prophets on the earth today" or "do you think there could be more scripture than the Bible" she didn't reply the typical Catholic way at all. She was like, "yeah, I don't see why not" basically. She is so cool! She's going to be taking a trip to Mexico for like 3 weeks, so we won't get to work with her more for a while, but she is so cool and so ready to learn more. And she said that she'd like October 28 as a goal for her baptism date. She was talking about how she had shared the folleto (pamphlet, I guess in English) with her daughter and she liked it. Her daughter has some Mormon friends so they already have somewhat of an idea of what members are like and a little of what the church is about. She was so cool to talk to! Also, she is such a great example of service and charity for me! I want to become more like her. She keeps telling us that she doesn't really have very much, but she likes to give what she can. For instance, she is currently in the process of making a first communion dress for free for a family who can't afford one. When Catholics take the first communion they usually dress up basically in mini wedding dresses. But seriously, this dress she is making looks wedding quality. Like I wouldn't mind her making my future wedding dress it was so pretty! She even sewed on these jewel things by hand. Ha ha! The menos activo person we're working with who has colon cancer (I think I've told you about him--he had his surgery this week for it) is also a tailor for wedding dresses and bride's maid type stuff. So if I want to go that route in the future, I have people who can make the dresses for me ha ha! 
But yeah, she is really cool. Another fun thing this past Saturday was that they had the Dia de Hispanidad. It is a big event that the estaka (stake) does once a year and it was so fun! They had tables set up all around the gym and the whole middle filled with chairs. Each ward was given two Hispanic countries to be in charge of and they decorated the tables and walls and provided like taste-testing type foods from their those countries. So we got stuff from Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, the US, Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, et cetera. It is was so good and so much fun. It was great to have empanadas again (I had them many times when I was in Argentina and they are so good!) After an hour or so of that they had entertainment where the wards also did a dance or song from the countries they were assigned to as well. My ward's countries were El Salvador and the US, so it made me laugh when the young men and women from our ward were grooving to Party Rock Anthem on the stage for one of the presentations from our ward! It was just overall really fun. And it was a great missionary thing too. We had four of our investigators there and we got to meet a potential investigator we've been trying to get a hold of. There are so many Spanish missionaries in the stake! (like in the Reseda 4th ward (mine) there are 6, to give you an idea) so it was really cool to get to meet many more of them too! 
I guess really the only other thing I have to share is about how much I love going to church and especially taking of the sacrament. Maybe this doesn't happen to everyone (and maybe it is to me especially because I go to church in a Spanish branch so when I'm not consciously concentrating on what is being said, it is easy to zone out for a few minutes) but it is cool when your mind wanders and you are able to like meditate and find answers to questions or problems at church. Revelation definitely can come through church attendance and that is why it is so important for investigators to come! 
So what happened with me is I was having a hard time for a few days this week. I don't know why, but I was just grumpy for whatever reason and it was bad because I was, for instance becoming grumpy at little things my companion did and then I would get mad at myself for being grumpy at her and then I felt like a terribly person and that just made it worse and the cycle just kept on going. In a way it was like I built up a wall around my heart because I didn't want to admit that I was grumpy or whatever, so I'd just keep to myself more for whatever reason. And that is bad because then I can't share my heart with others. I was making myself so tired from all of that. But it was so cool. when I was praying while taking the sacrament, into my mind came this mental image of like a charge then a pause then a huge sonic BOOM which completely blew the wall I had built around my heart to pieces. Then I partook of the water and it was like all the residue fro that explosion was washed away so it was as if it was never there. (I know, it might sound weird that I get these mental images like that, but that is what happens to me sometimes. Like when I pray too) anyway, Then it was like I saw my heart there and it was shiny and golden again and it was ready to be shared with anyone and everyone this week. It is funny because as a kid, I always used to say "you broke my heart" whenever anyone in my family did anything to me. But this week I plan on breaking my heart. Breaking off pieces to share with anyone and everyone who'll take it in this missionary work. But the cool thing is I'll take the sacrament again next week and it'll be there completely whole and unblemished again. He will heal it completely such that I can go another week sharing my whole heart with everyone. It is cool how the atonement works like that... it makes it so you can keep on giving and giving of your heart and yet you never have less heart to give. It's like that story mom used to always tell us of the warm-fuzzies that when you give warm-fuzzies you can keep on giving more and never have less. But when you start keeping your warm-fuzzies to yourself and giving out cold-pricklies instead, you start running out of yourself to give and wearing yourself out. 
It is no coincidence that the bread has to be broken in the sacrament. Likewise, it is no coincidence that water is used in the sacrament when water is literally life (if I remember correctly, about 2/3 of the human body is water essentially). 
While taking the sacrament, I also got this image of a broken bone... like one of those really bad breaks that completely splits the bone. Your friends or family can try to set it, but it won't be exactly right almost certainly. Thus, the doctor (Jesus) has to come in and rebreak it (like the broken bread) and only afterward can the correct procedure come in to seal it and heal it (the water which is healing). Through this process, the bone will heal completely. And when bone heals, it always heals stronger than it was before. 
So that is the significance of the sacrament to me. I feel so clean now and so happy and so ready to take my tabla blanca and start over again this week. That is the miracle of the sacrament. Having experiences like that with the meditation and how strong the spirit is at church is why church attendance is so great! And I really do feel the spirit so strongly in my life once again. Like immediately I was just so much happier again and ready to go out and share my heart with everyone. I am so lucky to be able to feel this love and power of the atonement and likewise to now be able to just go and share that experience with everyone I meet. I'm so grateful for it! It's like there is a newfound fire in my heart and I'm so ready to share it with everyone!! 
Sorry, that was kind of a long tangent, but hopefully you don't mind reading through it! 
I hope you have the best week of the year this week! Thank you all for your continued support and example for me. In case it's been too long since I've told you, I love you all! 
May the Spirit Be With You!! 
<3 Hermana Whetten