Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Monday Dec. 10th

Hmmm... I'm not sure I have that many special requests for the Christmas package because you've been so good to me and have sent me like everything I've been asking for lately and more. I'm not sure if there are any more of the homemade fruit leather things, but those are always good. Also, if you're throwing in snacks, I have a little sweet tooth for fruit snacks haha. You are seriously the best. By the way, did you get the package I sent home with the puzzles and Peruvian nativity and stuff?

It's funny that I'm even mentioning any sweets because I've been good about not eating junk food in the house. But, you know, Christmas can be an exception haha. See, what I've been finding out is that it is so easy to gain weight on the mission. At times it kind of feels like you have no control on what you eat and thus no control on your weight. The ward is so good about providing us a dinner every night and they are usually pretty huge. But I realized a couple of things. I may not have that much control on what I eat for dinner (and I pretty much feel like I have to eat it all because I don't want to offend anyone), but I do have control over what I eat for breakfast and lunch. Like if you think about it, you're supposed to eat like 1200-1400 calories or something like that to maintain or lose some weight. So if a dinner feeds you automatically like 600-800 calories, then you just have to be careful to eat breakfast and lunch which is closer to 300-400 calories. Plus if you have good workouts every day, then you're set. We got a copy of the Insanity workout DVDs and so we are definitely working out really well haha! They are so intense but it is great. I definitely have a testimony that living the word of wisdom helps you be healthier and more receptive to the spirit. If you think about it, your spirit is able to be in charge instead of your body. Like the type of thing where you eat to live rather than live to eat.

Anyway, this was another busy week. We definitely saw miracles and every night we were so tired. Sometimes I feel quite a bit of stress, so I'm working on being able to manage that a bit better. It is hard that I'm now the one who knows the area really well, I know the people, and I want to be the very best I can be because I want this area to become better etc. I really push myself to working hard, planning a lot, speaking Spanish a lot. So it makes sense that I feel stress sometimes. But I'm working on that. And to be completely honest, I'd rather feel stressed out a bit and like exhausted when I get home every day than to be lazy. I don't want to live with a single regret of something I should have done better that I could have. Feeling some stress helps me know that I'm growing stronger. Like a plant stuck in a nursery forever only grows so strong. It is by being exposed to the cutting wind, the blistering sun, the pain of thirst occasionally that helps the plant become strong enough to survive. It was never easy for Christ, so as his representative in a way it means I will occasionally need to feel it not being easy too.

It is interesting to think about. This year I won't have a Christmas tree, I won't have my family around me, I won't have the normal homemade candies like caramel and reeses and the experience of waking up super early to see if Santa came. But this year, my Christmas tree is the tree of life. I am helping lead people to the fruit of the tree which is a fruit of which they can taste and never hunger anymore, which fruit is the love of God. I am pointing people toward the tree and bringing them to the iron rod. What a cool opportunity.

Anyway, I don't have too many stories this week. Hermana Mulliner is seriously so great! She is so patient and humble and willing to learn and to help out. We have an investigator who is so great. He is like a shocker to me and makes me want to go into more of a finding mode to find more people like him. See, typically with most of our investigators they love us coming and they like what we teach, but they won't come to church even after we commit them very solidly. But after the second lesson with Antonio, he committed to a baptism date and he went to church yesterday! It almost seems too easy with him. Maybe we'll have a few more lessons and we'll find his doubt or maybe he really is ready. I don't know, but it makes me excited to teach when I find people like him!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I asked the Zone Leaders and they said gmail video chat is fine for the Christmas phone call. Also I was wondering if Sarah can get me Julie (previously Stringfield) Divett(?)'s address. I haven't heard from her and I'd love to write her a letter.
Anyway, I'd probably better head off soon! Have a fantastic week. I love you and you are so great!!
May the Spirit be with you!!
~Hermana Whetten

Tuesday December 4, 2012

How are you all?! It is always amazing to hear from you all! I hope you are having fun preparing for Christmas in a few more weeks! 
Before I forget, I haven't had a chance to ask if Gchat is even approved for us to use for the Christmas call, but I'll try to this week. If I have to guess right now, I would say we're only allowed to use Skype just because there is that whole rule about only using approved websites. 
Okay, first thing's first... So we went up to Santa Clarita and I picked up my new companion last Tuesday. Her name is Hermana Mulliner. She is super great. She is quite a bit shorter than me, but "fun size" does kind of apply to her. She is definitely fun. She is from Alpine, Utah. No, our ward mission leader's dream did not quite come true... He dreamed that she would be short, dark skinned, and long haired. Hermana Mulliner is short and has long hair, but she is definitely very white. She has been out one transfer longer than me...this is my 4th transfer and this is her 5th. We are getting along great because she has such great love for everyone, she is fun and funny, and she is not stressful to be around at all. 
An interesting thing is I actually met her at the MTC. On Sundays we would go for walks around the Provo Temple and I met her on her last Sunday right outside the fountain in front of the Provo Temple. We were so excited to find someone going to the same mission because that was a little rare for us. But I am pretty sure I actually remember saying to her. "I wonder if we'll be companions someday." and here we are someday later haha. 
It is interesting though... this is a case where the Lord's will was definitely greater than mine. At the last interview with the president, I had expressed how I really wanted to speak Spanish all the time. Because of that, I was sure he was going to put me with a nativa. But come the transfer and I ended up with a little white girl from Utah who speaks less Spanish than me (for instance, she was in the beginner's Spanish class at the MTC. She literally knew no Spanish coming onto the mission). In this case, the Lord definitely works in mysterious ways. Instead of giving me a companion who can easily speak Spanish at me, He gave me a companion who I can actually speak better than. But the thing is, both of us are committed to speaking Spanish more and more and because of that, we're speaking so much more Spanish than I did before. It's so great because we can help each other out if we learn something new or if we hear a mistake which we've already fixed in our own Spanish. I'm also having to take an extremely active role in the lessons whereas with a nativa I probably would have been using her as a crutch. For instance, with a nativa, when it gets difficult to explain something I can just give up and she can take over. But with someone who knows less than you, I have to figure out a way to express my thoughts and feelings. This transfer is going to be so great for the both of us!!! 
It is a lot different not having Hna Hansen here. Well the work is the same, but now it is me having to plan everything and talk on the phone to everyone and set up appointments and meals, etc. Hermana Mulliner is perfectly capable, but since it is a new area to her, she doesn't know the investigators and members which makes it hard for her to add too many ideas at this point. Within a week or two she'll start being able to take a more active role little by little. But until then it'll be a little interesting for me. I'm not perfect at it all. In fact, let me tell you about a few of my mistakes from this week... 
One was that on the highway back from Santa Clarita, I stayed in a right lane which I thought was safe, but I realized it was too far over. It ended up being an exit lane and there was too much traffic for me to get back over last second. So we ended up taking like a 5 mile or so detour to get back onto the freeway facing the right direction. Luckily Hermana Hansen is letting us borrow her GPS until I can get one (by the way, if it isn't too expensive can you get me one eventually now that I know I'm not on bike?) and so the GPS helped us get the right exit and then turn around spot etc so we could be heading back home. That was quite the adventure. 
Another adventure was one night for the dinner appointment. On our calendar, Hermana Moreno wrote down her name and her phone number. So I had done well and called the day before to set up the time etc. But come the day of, I realized I wasn't actually sure which ones the Morenos were and I accidentally wrote down the address of the Morales' into my agenda. So we showed up to the Morales house and we ended up teaching her husband who is a nonmember and he became a new investigator. When we finally got out to the car we had to profusely apologize to the Moreno family and then come over for them. They were so patient and loving to me, luckily! That's one of those things where I like couldn't believe I did that, but luckily it ended up working out. 
Another morning, I looked at my jacked and my name tag clip was there but my name tag was no where to be seen. So later that day we wandered our car over to the last appointment we had had the night before and lo and behold I found my nametag right there on the ground where we had parked the night before. I guess it somehow came undone while getting in or out of the car or while putting on my backpack or something like that. I'm not actually sure how. Sadly, it had been driven over and the clip was broken. 
So I'll probably have to order a new one anyways. But at least we found it. 
Another day we almost died. We were on a street at a stop sign going onto a street which didn't have any stop signs the two ways. So I was sitting there with my foot on the break looking right and left and waiting for the street to clear out because there were cars going both ways. So were just sitting there at the stop sign and the next thing I knew there was a car taking a left turn in front of us to get onto our street and they didn't see us I guess and took the turn wayyy too sharp. They were headed straight towards the front of our car and fast too. We were screaming and tensing up because it looked for sure like they were going to run straight into us. But then at the last second it looked almost like they hit an invisible shield around our car and it stopped. It was so crazy. 
But that is kind of how this week has felt. It has just felt really bizarre and strange. Sometimes it feels like we're running around chickens with our heads cut off. If I ever had an annoyed thought at Hermana Hansen, I take it back, because now it is me being the one always ending up on the wrong section of the street (because streets here will have the same name north and south or east and west but between the blocks they won't actually be connected at all) and always having to make U-turns. Good thing perfection isn't required to be a missionary because I am definitely not that and this week I've felt quite a bit like an airhead instead. I guess what I've been realizing is that how you choose to look at a situation changes everything. You can choose to look to look at them like imperfections or you can choose to look at them like miracles. For instance, it could be a complete imperfection that we went to the wrong house for dinner. Or it could be a miracle that we turned that situation around and got a new investigator. 
I think humans aren't meant to be depressed or stressed or anxious. Feeling depressed is worrying about the past, feeling stressed is putting too much worry on right now, and feeling anxious is worrying too much about the future. None of those are very optimal. And really, the solution to them is to develop attributes of Christ like Faith that the Lord has a plan for you, Hope that it will all be better in the end, Charity to add meaning to your life right now, etc. I think of Nephi's version of the story vs. Laman's. You can choose to look at every single situation like a trial. Or you can choose to look at it like an adventure. Being able to see the beginning for the end helps us to see how cool the trip could have been for them. For instance, they were the only native born people from Jerusalem who got to travel across a desert, build a boat, sail across the oceans, and end up in a great land with new mysterious plants and animals. What an adventure, right?! Looking at it that way, the trials they went through didn't seem so huge compared to how they ended up. I think that is how our lives can be. We can choose to look at the day to day trials. Or we can have faith that the Lord will bring you to someplace much bigger and better at the end, a place that he's promised for you, and then live every day like it's an adventure that's going to get you closer to your own promised land. Point of view really changes everything. 
I still can't really believe it's December already. I do want to tell you about Alba's confirmation really quickly. It was so beautiful!!!! She was crying during taking the sacrament, crying during her confirmation, and crying here and there the rest of sacrament meeting. It was so beautiful! She is so great. On the way back from the stage or whatever it's called, she was holding the hand of her husband who was just able to bless her. That was the first time I think I've ever seen them hold hands. On the lesson on Saturday she said that they're going to start reading scriptures together... both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. In a year they're going to get sealed in the temple, I'm sure and I don't think she will ever fall away. I am so blessed to be able to see such beautiful changes in people like Alba. It makes me feel like the love I have for the people and this opportunity I have to serve really is changing and helping people. I love her!!! 
About the huge 1/2 mission conference we had yesterday, Don R. Clarke is such a great person. He is so inspiring to listen to and he's helped broaden our vision so that we can see how many more things we're capable of. It takes a lot of hard work and smart work to get to it, but I definitely believe the mission president's vision of 1000 baptisms next year is absolutely possible. I'm ready to do my part completely. It's hard to pick something to share from it, because he talked about like everything it is to be a missionary. Basically, you either 100% have faith in God and are 100% committed to every covenant you've made and everything implied therein or you're not. You either have complete faith and love so that you will talk to everyone and ask everyone for referrals or you don't. You're either going to be 100% obedient to every mission rule (or commandment, rather) or you're not. You're either going to receive every blessing including a lot more success or not. It's when you decide to do everything all the way that the Lord will finally be able to bless you with everything he's promised you. I know that quote "Any excuse, no matter how valid, always weakens the character." That is what it is about. Every time you make an excuse rather than just obeying the mission rules or every time you decide to not talk to someone because they don't look like the easy kind of teaching material or anytime you give up on your goals rather than doing absolutely everything until the last minute to achieve them, it is building a dam between you and God. You are holding yourself back from being able to drink freely and abundantly. You are holding yourself back from revelation. You're showing him that you don't treasure every spiritual impression or every person that he's trying to put in our path. I believe that absolutely anything is possible with faith and then diligent work on our part. And thinking like that changes how you do things. It changes how you talk about the Joseph Smith story. It changes how you love the people. I really feel like my vision has been broadened. I will work changing things here and there until I can really become a missionary more worthy of all the prayers we receive every day and worthy of the title "a preach my gospel missionary." 
So yeah, let's now go and do! Let's become better! I'm going to let this mission flow through me and change me into the better version of me! I am so lucky to be out here!! 
May the Spirit be with you!! 
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wow! What a week! I have officially been a missionary for more than 6 months now. I now have a baby niece. Thanksgiving was this week. We had a baptism this Sunday! What a great week!
I can't believe Mia is here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so happy to read that and to see all the pictures in the e-mail. Thank you so much!!! Thanks for taking the time to type out the whole story, Sarah. I'm sorry it was so painful but I am so grateful that she is here and is healthy and Max loves her. He is smiling so huge in those photos!!! He is so big. I am so happy. Like I kind of started tearing up reading and seeing all of that. It's a little hard not being able to meet her for such a long time. Just keep sending me photos!
Brittany, have you thought about referring your friend Sierra to the missionaries? As long as her parents are okay with it, it could be really special for you two and it could unite your friendship even more. Like how cool would it be if you could have the missionaries come to the house and you get to help teach her with them. You could start being a missionary now and being a missionary is really fun!!
Doodle, I was so excited to hear that you want to go on a mission when you're bigger. It will be something that will forever bless your life! You are so great!!
Shaun, great work being a missionary and being able to see your boss be baptized! It sounds like it was such a great thing to be a part of!!!
Really quickly, as a reminder, Don R. Clarke of the 70 is coming to our mission next week and the zones in the San Fernando Valley are having a conference with him next Monday. Thus, my preparation day next week is Tuesday so don't freak out when you don't get an e-mail until then.
Thank you so much again for everything you sent! I am pretty sure all of it arrived and I love it all! I have never owned the flat boots like that before and I love walking around in them. They make me feel cool haha! I'm not a girly girl at all, so I never thought I'd say that. But you know... when you're having to wear skirts every day you have to do something crazy and fun and warm haha.
We had Thanksgiving with Alba and her husband. It was so nice!! Their oven stopped working for a little while at like noon. They just noticed it wasn't cooking so they had to restart the cooking etc. Thus, it got out late and we started the dinner late, but it was so good!! They had this banana cream pie too which was delicious. I was glad that we only had to eat one Thanksgiving meal because last minute our elders realized they forgot to tell us that Hermanita was expecting us. We were able to kindly get out of it luckily. But the next day we had to eat two thanksgiving leftover meals a few hours apart and we were so stuffed!!
The way transfers are currently is that we receive transfer calls Saturday night. They will tell you if you're going or staying and if you're going they tell you if you're going to be on car or bike. We have Sunday and a little bit of Monday to say goodbye. We have Monday to pack. Then on Tuesday we all go to a big transfer meeting in Santa Clarita and that is when we find out where we are going and who our new companion is. So on Saturday night we got the calls. I am staying (and obviously I'll still have the car... by the way, I don't know if I've ever told you, but we drive a 2012 Chevy Cruz. It is nice!). Hermana Hansen will be leaving the area and her next area will be another car area (we think president is trying to make it so eventually all the sisters will be on car but that is just a rumor right now and there still are sister bike areas).
It's crazy to hear that! I mean I knew it was going to happen, but I hate saying goodbye. I really have grown to love her. Of course she isn't perfect. I probably know of her weaknesses better than anyone else right now. But we have done so much good together. We have worked so hard. We have seen so many miracles. We have been together so long. We were so lucky to get that one extra transfer in together. We have been together nonstop for about 4 months. We have definitely become friends. We've grown into better people. I'm excited to get a new companion and to grow in more ways. It will be good. I'm excited to have a new friend and to see where she goes and write to her to see what other miracles she will see on her mission. It will be so good. She keeps telling herself that she can't cry about leaving until tonight. But I know she loves me so much. In moments in the car when we're just thinking she keeps breaking the silence and saying things like, "I have loved working with you." It is moments like that that are so dulce.
Our ward mission leader, Hermano de Leon, told us that he had a dream where I had a different companion and she was short and had dark skin and long brown hair. I'm excited to go to the transfer meeting tomorrow to see if his dream will be correct.
But I was really grateful that we got to end the three great transfers together with a beautiful baptism. Alba got baptized. Like I think I said last week, she rightfully could have been called an "eternigator." I think her husband has been going back to church for about 11 years and he's been trying to get the missionaries to teach his wife for about 10 years or more. At her baptism even in the talks, the people kept on saying things like "I never thought I'd see the day when Alba got baptized!" We weren't even sure if she would make it this Sunday. But she did stop drinking coffee completely. We had a beautiful lesson with her based on the Mormon message "You Know Enough" (
http://www.lds.org/pages/mormon-messages?lang=eng#you-know-enough) and it really helped her realize that it is okay that she doesn't know everything right now. She knows enough. She prayed that night to make sure that this was something she wanted to do for herself and not for anyone else. Her prayer was answered. It did take that extra week, but that week really was what made the difference in her conversion. 
But the baptism was so beautiful. Hermana Hansen and I got to sing "Mas Cerca Dios de Ti" (Nearer My God to Thee) as a special musical number and it was so special. She was like quietly looking at the words and singing along. Her husband did the baptism. He has baptized several people before but I think it has been a while and he was a little nervous, so it took him 3 tries to get it right. I think the most beautiful part, though, was the closing hymn and the prayer. She started crying so much. It was so beautiful. We gave her hugs afterwards and she was like "I don't know why I'm crying so much." I know why. She also told us "thank you so much for everything!" She was so beautiful and happy and I was lucky to have been able to be an instrument in the Lord's hand and to have been able to play a small part in her conversion story. That is what this work is all about. It is about the one. It is so beautiful to see!!! 
I'm sorry if this letter sounds a little bit scatter brained and the parts don't necessarily flow smoothly. Hope you don't mind too terribly haha!! 
But have a great week! Enjoy every second of life!! 
I love you and may the spirit be with you!! 
~Hermana Whetten