Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

This has been a really amazing week! Like I told you, last week we had interviews with President Hall and we came out super excited!! We've really learned so much since then about what it means to baptize monthly. If we really want to baptize monthly, we need to be finding at least 25 new investigators a month (that has been our mission statistic--that on average it takes 25 new investigators to get 1 baptism) which is at least 6 a week. To get six new investigators weekly, we have to have the names of potentials basically. Not every potential becomes a new investigator. If we estimated that for every 4 potentials that we stopped by, 1 becomes a new investigator, then we have to get 100 potentials monthly to get 25 new investigators monthly. Then in order to get a potential investigator, you have to contact someone. So imagine that for every 5 people you contact, 1 becomes a new investigator. That is 500 people you have to talk to monthly to get 1 baptism. Now a thought that expands my vision even bigger is that--imagine that you set a goal of contacting 200 or 300 or even 500 people weekly. How would that change how you contact. You can't just be comfortable talking to 5-7 people daily. If you were to try to contact 500 people a week, you'd have to aim to talk to at least a dozen people every hour on top of any teaching appointments you have. See how focusing on baptisms changes how we do things? Literally, we can't afford to let anyone pass us by without trying to talk to them because what if they were the one person the Lord has been preparing for us for this month?

It is super exciting to be going about on purpose and really trying to do the best we can in everything. It has changed everything. Suddenly we realized that we have to drop people that are not progressing much sooner. So that means that we can't afford to not ask people for a baptismal date in their first lesson. Just because we may have fears of doing so is not good enough excuse. Suddenly this week we jumped up from 0 to 5 people with baptismal dates-- all from new investigators asked in the first lesson. We jumped up from averaging 3 new investigators a week to last week finding 8. It is so exhausting but it feels so great to be going about like this! Plus, the amount of funny stories we get is increasing dramatically too because we're meeting so many more people haha! We get rejected a whole lot more, but that isn't anything new by this point. I just love this work, I am so glad that Hermana Barnes is with me at this point because we are so absolutely dedicated to working the very hardest and the very best we can! I couldn't imagine finishing my mission any other way!

We're also experimenting a lot. Trying new things. The hard part is that some of the ideas totally fail. But then we realize that isn't a tragedy at all. We're learning from our mistakes! For instance, we've been trying to think of ideas of how we can better work with the youth and help them invite their friends to come to church etc. So we came up with this brilliant idea to do a hike with them and they could invite their friends. It would be fun and we could have a small spiritual lesson on the top and come back down. There is even a hike in our area, so we were pumped! So we invited all the youth and some of them even confirmed saying that they'd be able to come with a friend. We also started trying out using that in our proselying to invite people to an activity. But come Saturday morning, no one but the young woman's first councilor showed up. Yeah, we were kind of bummed out that the activity didn't work out. But from that we began to analyze and watch the Preach MY Gospel DVD sections of church activities and we got a few really good ideas that we want to try out. This is what I'm realizing from that... sometimes people are afraid to act because of fear-- specifically fear of failure. Failure does kind of stink a lot! But on the other hand, it is just like how the light bulb was invented-- it wasn't 300 failures that count, it was that he learned from his mistakes and finally he got it just right and invented it!

That reminds me of Elder Ballard's talk at general conference when he said:
We know from our research that most active members of the Church want the blessings of the gospel to be part of the lives of others whom they love, even those whom they have never met. But we also know that many members hesitate to do missionary work and share the gospel for two basic reasons.
The first one is fear. Many members do not even pray for opportunities to share the gospel, fearing that they might receive divine promptings to do something they think they are not capable of doing.
The second reason is misunderstanding of what missionary work is.
The other thing I've really been learning this week is about accountability. There is a quote in preach my gospel that says that when goals and actuals are reported, the rate of improvement accelerates. That is huge! It is putting us accountable to the Lord. That is the key I think. Hermana Barnes got a letter from a returned missionary who was talking about how when he was on his mission, he always wondered how returned missionaries could ever go inactive. But now that he's home he realizes. When you're on your mission every minute is accountable to someone-- your companion, your district leader, your zone leader, your mission president, your mom, et cetera. But when you get home and get to real life, you don't have to account to anyone anymore. That is the part that those inactive returned missionaries never understood on their mission-- accountability to the Lord. That is the hardest part. But if we really come to master that, we'll never fall away. But Hermana Barnes and I aren't completely sure how to be accountable to the Lord and there probably isn't one right way for everyone, but one thing we're doing this week is working on our prayers. Last week we decided to start doing punishment pushups for every person we set a goal to contact and we didn't. It is hard, but we figure we'll either get buff or we'll start figuring out how to talk with more people. And most days our daily goal of talking to people has been 100. One day we reached 53. Another day we only reached like 25 and had to do a lot of pushups. But we're definitely learning and really trying to plan better so we can give ourselves the most opportunities possible.

Anyway, I love being a missionary!! I received a powerful spiritual confirmation this week that being a missionary is what I'm meant to be for the rest of my life-- it was all over my patriarchal blessing. Somehow I just have to figure out how to do it better now and later. 
~Hermana Whetten

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just wanted to let everyone know that Whitney will be coming home on Wednesday, December 4th, and she will be speaking in our sacrament meeting on Sunday, December 8th @ 1pm. We would love to have anyone who is able to, to come and join us.

This week was life changing for me. I'll first talk about the fun preparation day stuff we did last week then I'll get into what we've been learning.

So last week we did it... we went to the LA Zoo! We had such a fun time!! It was pretty big and there were some really neat animals but then themes that kept on popping up were animals pooping right when we got there haha!

Then yesterday we went on a hike we found out is in our area. It was a big loop and we walked it briskly and had an amazing time and it was only about 40 mins, so we may be doing that about every preparation day. We may even run it (by the way, we've been running again for probably about a month now and it is great! We've been doing 2 miles three times a week. It has been so great and I just want to keep it up!

Then after that we were going to go to City Walk at Universal Studios, but we got scared off by the $15 parking spots, so we didn't do it. Instead we hung out on this rich street called Ventura and we went window shopping and ended up buying some cheap makeup and stuff so that we can mess around with that haha!

Okay, now for what I've learned... We had two meetings with President Hall this week-- one with all the sister training leaders and one for the mission leadership council. President Hall has recently returned from a mission president seminar and he received very specific revelation to some questions he brought. Specifically, he wanted to know what he can do to help the mission double baptisms. We're stuck at a rate of about 500 baptisms per year and it has been that way more or less for years now. He wanted to know what to do to double that to 1000 and also to help make it so each companionship is able to baptize monthly. He said that has been a big topic for years because of President Hinkley's thought that with concentrated effort, we can double the baptisms in the church.  If you look at some numbers, for each of the 31 mission presidents at that seminar (California, Hawaii, Oregon, etc) this is the trend you see:

Number of missionaries
2013: 6660
2012: 4869

2013: 10,452
2012: 10,555

Number of people at sacrament meetings (nonmembers and members)
2013: 238k
2012: 240k

So what are the conclusions that can possibly be drawn from that? First of all, the number of missionaries has gone up by about 37%. Second of all, the number of baptisms was down by 100 and sacrament meeting has been down by 2k. What does that mean? It means we haven't really been focusing on our purpose. At Zone Training Meeting, we presented this information for our zone and we asked them what a successful missionary is. We got lots of answers like personal conversion, helping build the ward, being able to feel good before heavenly father each night, inviting people to do things, et cetera. We also had them fill in the blank of this sentence: I will be a successful missionary if I _________. I'd like to have you think about what you'd fill in that blank with. Go ahead and take a minute to think about it before you answer too quickly. Because that answer shows a lot about yourself, your dedication, serving God's children, et cetera. Well, the answer President Hall reminded us about is that the blank should be filled in with the word baptism. Baptizing is central to our purpose. It is the dream of all of us missionaries and it is the thing first thing when I came out that I began to feel guilty for thinking. The culture of the mission made us think that we couldn't associate our success with baptisms that we see because if you don't see baptisms for a while you'll begin to feel bad and get stressed and think about going home or crawling in a hole because no one wants to feel unsuccessful. But that's the thing. If we don't really have that as our central purpose, we're guaranteed to not see as many baptisms. It's a catch 22. There is so much more we can be doing than we are but we get comfortable with the amount we've grown so far and we refuse to let ourselves expand more.

President Hall talked about how for so long a big topic of the mission president seminars have been trying to throw out ideas of how people can double baptisms. But one of the speakers said that he talked to a few mission presidents who were actually able to do it and found a pattern that seemed to work. In missions that were able to double baptisms, the key thing done was that the mission president selected 1 or 2 companionships to work with and he committed to do absolutely anything it takes to help them to double the baptisms in their area. Then those few teach the mission little by little what it can do to double their baptisms. And the mission wants to listen because they're more successful. It's like the idea of Pay it Forward. It is very difficult to change everyone. But you can change a few. You can raise the dedication and results in a few. Then with that the mission can become so much better. President Hall is so committed to doing this. To selecting that one or two companionships to work with and to do anything he can to help them double.

To close the mission leadership council where he announced this, he was like crying because he was asking how can he choose who those 1 or 2 will be? He said to text him if we're willing to do absolutely anything it takes to make it happen. Hermana Barnes and I walked out of that meeting crying because we want it so badly. We texted president saying that we're going to do it. With or without his help we're going to do absolutely everything within our power to raise our vision and work with everything we have and do it.

What I learned about that is about how there are levels of desire. There is saying that you'd like something to happen. There is wishful thinking. Then there is wanting something with your whole heart and soul- all of it. That is the secret ingredient. You have to want it. Not just a fair-weather, wishy washy, path of least resistance type of wanting. But the type of wanting that enables you to zone in amidst the fog of every day emotions and thoughts and routines such that you always know what it is that you really, truly, deeply want and you'll give up anything, be anything, do anything so that you can get it. It's the type of passion that makes you ache and cry when it looks like it may be just out of your reach. It is the type that no matter what comes up or what Satan throws at you, you'll never lose grip and sight of what you want. Only that kind of desire where your soul aches and yearns for it will create the type of results you want.

This morning we had interviews in our zone. In that interview with Hermana Barnes and I, President Hall talked with us and saw that we have that kind of desire and he chose us to be one of the 1 or 2 companionships he will be working with because he saw that we had it in us to do it. We have that desire and we'll do anything to get there. It breaks my heart that I only have a few weeks left to become so much more, but I know that it doesn't matter when we learn something. It is the fact that we learn it that matters. It doesn't matter when we learn to walk. This will change me for the rest of my eternity and so it doesn't matter at what point I'm finally beginning to learn it. We have the seed of divinity within each of us. The power is in us. We can do it if we really, truly believe we can and we do absolutely everything we can within our agency. I am so lucky and blessed to be a missionary for my Lord!

Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre!

~Hermana Whetten

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

This was a very great week! First of all, it started with an amazing preparation day last week. Hermana Barnes has decided that the preparation days this transfer are going to be the best in the world! So last week we went to the swap meet for a while to do some Christmas shopping etc. We found out that Hna Barnes super loves bargaining to get prices lower! Haha! It was so great!!! Then we went to a makeup store that had free samples to look at and use and try on, so we did just that. The person at the store gave us some really good tips. It was super girly but actually pretty fun!! Today we're planning on going to the zoo (even though it'll cost $18 dollars! Oh boy! We're thinking it must be huge and amazing for that price. We’re hoping at least)

Then we also had two exchanges last week. One was with another set of hermana training leaders because both hermanas hadn't ever been in that position and were both assigned to do it, so that was president's way of getting them up to speed/give them more ideas. I was inspired by it and one thing I learned is to use your talents more in missionary work. Like literally we wrote out what some of our talents or interests were and then we brainstormed on how that can be used in missionary work. It was super fun and I know that is the celestial way! The Lord's given us our talents and passions for a reason!

On the second exchange we saw huge miracles! The hermana had a goal of developing a passion for finding and we saw amazing things! That day we got 4 new investigators because we taught them finding.

Yesterday a less active came to church for the first time in years and it was super fantastic!!! She was received so well from the ward even though she now has gages and tatoos. People kept coming up to her and saying welcome back! The funny part is that she sent us a text that morning saying that she hadn't been able to go shopping for clothes to wear to church with her returned missionary older brother that week, so she didn't think she'd be able to go until next week. Then we showed up at her door that morning and told her that that wasn't a good enough excuse, so she was like, "okay, I'll go get ready :) "It was super duper exciting!

Lately I've been reading through the Book of Mormon more slowly than I ever have before. I've always read at the pace in relation to chapters. Like 1 chapter a day or 2 chapters etc. But right now I'm reading at the pace of 1 page a day. And I'm praying before and after each page to know if it is true and to know from God about what I should do in my life if that page is true. Then I read and mark and write tons, especially at the bottom of the page I write a few sentences about what I learned from that page. I am learning so much more by going a little bit slower! Like yesterday I was reading in page 24 of the Book of Mormon in Spanish and I learned so much from Nephi's vision of the tree of life etc about love. Love is absolutely necessary in this life. It called it the source of living waters which I was thinking about is why the heart is symbolic of love for us. Blood is our living water. It gives life to all of the organs in our body. The heart is the driving source behind that water. It is like the atonement too in that he shed his blood for us-- or he gave us his love. And the sacramental blood is symbolized by water. And Christ went about among the people and so as we go about loving the people more by listening, walking with, talking with, teaching, serving etc the people around us, we help them come to understand the love of God which brings them unto Christ so they can be healed. I just loved that!!

Oh, I almost forgot, it has also been our dream to paint a house during our mission and we finally got to this past week! We painted a kitchen green. I know, I probably wouldn't have picked it either, but Hermana Barnes talked the hermana into it because she "needs some color in her life" haha! But it actually turned out being a really good color and it at least was super fun for us two!!!

Oh, one more quick thought... I never realized it before, but I always thought that I can develop charity and it can become at attribute of mine. But yesterday when I was reading Moroni 7:47 I learned that we don't poses charity. Charity comes to poses us.

Anyway, I hope you had an amazing week and an amazing Halloween. We had a curfew that night, so we just did our weekly planning that evening.

Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre!

~Hermana Whetten

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Woohooo! What a great week! So we had transfer meeting on Tuesday, District meeting on Wednesday, and on Thursday we had a special mission leadership council to discuss what things we'd like to see changed in the mission. That meeting was probably the highlight of the whole week because so many great ideas were discussed and I learned so much about what a good council is like. I'd like to write a bit about what I've learned about councils.

I feel like I've always been super independent because I can only control my agency. So I've always taken my major decisions like college, classes, mission, etc on my own. I've always felt like I love to make myself goals, but I don't want to bother anyone else to think it through when I don't even know completely myself if that is what I want to do, so I'll just try it out on my own.

But there was one particular exchange I conducted last transfer where I saw an Hermana with that exact same trait in herself and it was so interesting to be an outsider analyzing the impacts of that trait. She had such fire and potential inside herself and I was super inspired by her goals. However, she was afraid of coming back from the exchange and sharing her goals with her companions because they may not understand her and how much they meant to her. So she was thinking of taking it upon herself to guard the flame that had resparked in her during the exchange. I helped her see that flames need to be fanned and that is what companions are for! They only want to help with our dreams and passions. That is why we're given companions!

Another observation I've made is that humans in general don't tend to make time to actually dream about what they'd love to see happen in their life or they don't make good plans when they do dream to ensure that the dream comes about. It is easier to just keep doing what we've always done. It is easier to float down the path of least resistance.

So here is once connection I made this week... that when I started my mission we, as a mission weren't even living a telestial law. Then when Elder Don R. Clark came last December we changed so that we were living the telestial law-- we became obedient to all the mission handbook or in other words the mission commandments. But it was like living the Law of Moses. We had to be told something was okay or not okay before we acted because we were being obedient for the wrong reasons. Then Elder Kopishke came and told us that we are an obedient mission, so now we have permission to live the celestial law-- to change from law of Moses into Christianity which means doing many great things of our own free will! I know that they Lord sent me here on my mission at exactly this time for a very wise purpose. One of those purposes was to help usher in the wave of new missionaries and the hastening of the work. But one of the reasons was so that I could experience the full range of obedience to now finally understand for the rest of my life what it is like to live the celestial law!

That is what I've learned this week. And I've also come to learn that councils are part of living the celestial law so that we can come and reason together and imagine greater things that we can realize together than anything we would have been able to accomplish on our own. Councils have existed since the premortal life. We gathered together in "The Great Council in Heaven" to come and plan the creation and figure out the details together. As we counsel together in councils, so much more is able to be accomplished. That is why  ward and stake councils exist. That is why there are mission councils. And I believe that is why I'd like to propose that we start up a family council.

We have such great people in our family with such experience of being in a council and they all have experienced councils that are more effective and those that are less effective. Dad has been in the high council and ward councils. Mom has been in stake and ward councils. Shaun and Ryan and Britt have been in councils in leadership positions in the mission and in young mens and womens.

Some ideas that I've learned are good about councils are when they respond to needs, when they are united, when there is equal participation, when they work toward the salvation of others, and when minimal time is spent on administrative items and the majority is spent on discussions and free thinking. Revelation is enhanced by good discussion. But one idea is that we could all maybe gather together once a month maybe on the first Sunday of the month for about an hour. And dad could preside or delegate someone to preside and we could all help give dad ideas beforehand of what types of things should be on the agenda for the month of what we'd love to discuss. And we could dream and envision what we can do together.

 I loved reading in the general conference talk this week from Elder Ballard about what is possible in a family council:

Six weeks ago I received a letter from a very successful member missionary family, the Munns family of Florida. They wrote:
“Dear Elder Ballard, 30 minutes after the worldwide broadcast on hastening the work of salvation, we held our family missionary council. We were thrilled to find that our teenage grandchildren wanted to be included. We’re happy to report that since our council meeting, we have expanded our family teaching pool by 200 percent.
“We have had grandchildren bring friends to church, have enjoyed sacrament meetings with some of our less-active friends, and have had some of our new contacts commit to take the missionary discussions. One of our less-active sisters has not only returned to church but has brought new investigators with her.
I think things don't tend to happen until we first dream them into possibility and figure out together what we'd like to do. I am just so impressed by how many good ideas we were able to see as a mission council. Hermana Barnes' and my companionship studies have been getting pretty amazing this past week especially as we discuss problems together and figure out what is within our agency to change (we've discussed what isn't working with our coordination meetings, we've discussed and practiced how to teach even more simply and powerfully and we are learning so much together!). We've been working with our leaders to try to turn our district meetings and zone meetings into much more of a council-type setting. 
I'm realizing it is my dream to be the type of teacher who can teach like Socrates where the class in a way teaches itself. Where everyone prepares and each class is unique as we come together and are in charge of our learning and the teacher is there to direct the learning through questions, examples, scriptures, and stories but that they're not just lecturing. That they teach through drawing out the truth which is already inside of all of us. That is what I imagine a great council to be like as well.
So what do you think?
Just a couple of more stories for this week...
So we had stake conference yesterday and all the missionaries were also invited to the adult session on Friday. At the adult session all 70 or so of us Spanish missionaries in the San Fernando stake were asked to sing Called to Serve and it was super cool!!! I loved it!!
Also, I saw one of my converts from Reseda-- Alba-- yesterday at conference and she said she's working on going to the temple because she's coming up on her year mark. She said she may make it before I leave or shortly after. I told her about how there is an escort the first time going through the temple and she was like "I'd like you to be my escort!" That made me so happy!! That was super cool! I couldn't be more excited for her!
Finally, I had a breakfast thing at like 10am on Friday and that made me laugh. If that would have been my first appointment on the mission I'd probably have been in culture shock! We walked in the apartment and the first thing we noticed was that the roof was plants. It looked like a jungle! They had hung up twine on the roof and had a big planter at the center that had this vine plant stretching out across the ceiling! I haven't seen anything else like that before. And I asked her not to serve me platano fritos (fried plantains) because that is the one Latino food I can't eat and so she walked over and dumped them right onto Hna Barnes's plate. We had omlets and Hermana Barnes' was cold and mine was basically oil. And all along she's trying to tell these stories in turkey-spanish. It sounds about like gobble-gobble-gobble happening at lightning speed. And she asked if we wanted watermelon or jello but we ended up with both. And as she was washing the dishes she grabbed a huge handful of jello and ate it right out of her hand! It was so great! You can't make up characters like that.
It is almost like how Hermana Cortez was speaking and then almost made Hermana Barnes pee her pants when she randomly screamed out to try to scare the hiccups out of Hermana Barnes hahhahaha!!!
I just love this work!!!

Hope you had a great week and I love you so much!!
Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre
<3 Hermana Whetten

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Little Free Library

My camera doesn't work because my camera stopped wanting to read my memory card, but I just got photos sent to me from one of the hermanas that I had an exchange with this week and it was the coolest random thing in the world! We were driving around and then suddenly we saw a little box with books in it and it was a little mini library! So what did we do? We got a book of mormon and wrote our testimonies in it and added it to the little neighborhood library!! It was so cool and I kind of really want to make some to put all around in New Mexico!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

This has been such a great week!!! I feel like I can't even express adequately how miracle filled it has been for us! I feel like it is mostly coming about because of Elder Kopishke giving us permission to dream about the kind of missionary we want to become and then take steps to become that! The Lord is blessing us so much! At the beginning of the transfer, we were pretty much starting up this area up from scratch and it has been hard because it is a very white area. But we're finally starting to get things figured out and we are being so enormously blessed. For example, we haven't had any investigators at church all transfer long, then yesterday we had 3!! We set two baptismal dates this week! We're finally figuring out how to better work with the members and are seeing huge results from it! It feels like things are just starting to boil and big things are happening very soon!

Another random thing that happened this week is that I got hugged by one of the werewolves from Twilight. That's right, we're not supposed to hug boys!!! He literally just walked up to us and was like, "can I give you a hug?" I didn't want to offend him and give him a bad impression of missionaries, so I tried to just stick out my hand so he could just shake my hand, which he did... followed by a big hug haha. I think I ended up just trying to turn it into a half hug. But that story is that we were just out knocking doors and looked around to the building right next to us and noticed this one guy looking up at us (we were on the second floor) so I waved at him. As we were walking out of the building, he was in his car and he told us that he thinks missionaries are so great because he has a cousin that just returned from a mission in Brazil. We thought that was cool, but they were driving away, so we just gave them a pass-along card. Then we continued knocking for a bit. It reached a time that we needed to walk back to our car for an appointment and so we started heading back and he was back at that place outside of the apartment waiting for a friend and that is when it happened. So then we got to talking to him for a while, found out he's been an actor for about 10 years here and he does lots of extreme sports like Parkour, free climbing, et cetera. We then got to talking about God and he believes in God. We got his phone number and they're in the process of moving, so he said we could call him up in a few weeks to get his address so missionaries can come. How cool is that!!! His name is David Lavera and he is so kind! He said he's been in a few other films as well. I guess that's what you get when your area includes Studio City haha!!

But yeah, the work has been going so good. We've really been working with and learning from the members a lot. We found out that Hermana Cortez in our area is actually a ward missionary and that she has huge desires to be doing so much more with us, so we're ready to put her to work!! The Lord is just blessing us so much!

I've also been working on my life purpose statement and this is what I've got so far..

Overarching life purpose statement:
To follow Christ and partake of eternal life with my family and friends

My Purpose Statement:
I do many great works of my own free will to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of as many as I can impact all the days of my life (D&C 58:26-27, Moses 1:39)

My Power Statement:
I am a daughter of God, a vessel of light and truth, a creator of much good. The power is in me, so I will dream, love, and change eternities as I experience balance and joy bringing many unto Christ.

Any thoughts about those? Any ideas? It's still in the working process.

Anyway, this will be a great week. We're having the transfer meeting on Tuesday, on Thursday we have a special Missionary Leadership Council to discuss what the mission wants to change from Elder Kopishke's visit, and we'll probably get our exchanges started up! We're super pumped!!

I just know this will be the best transfer ever because I'm finally getting some things figured out and I am just so ready to give it my all and I know the Lord will continue to bless us. I don't know how, but he will!

Tenga el espiritu consigo siempre!

<3 Hermana Whetten

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wasn't conference so great?!?! I loved everything and was able to receive so much revelation!!! I can't wait to get to reread and study them more! That sounds great, mom, if you can send me one a week! Hmm... Some of my favorites were the very last one by Nelson about how decisions determine destiny. I also loved the one by Dube about never look back and the Nielson- become engaged explamation point! haha! I just loved it all!!! 
This week we also had mission leadership council and it was so inspired!! Basically the idea was to go back to the basics. There have been so many different inspired trainings we've received over the past year and it is hard to keep all of these brand new missionaries up to date on everything, so President compiled a "cliffs note" version of what all we've been learning and where it can be found in Preach My Gospel and the scriptures, etc. It was so great! He also wanted to do it because his own daughter recently recieved her mission call and so he wanted to compile a list of everything he wanted her to know before she leaves. And you'll never guess where she got her mission call to... to Rochester, New York! The funny part is that that is where he is from in the first place haha! But more specifically, she'll be serving in the Hill Cumorah Visitor's Center. Pretty small world aka cool, huh?! 
Another thing about this week is that we actually moved so that now we live inside of our area. When we were at the Mission Leadership Council we asked our zone leaders if they had any news and they hadn't heard anything. Then on the way driving home from that meeting they called us up and told us that they found out we'd actually be moving the next day. So we did as quick of a packing job as we could that night and by the next night we were sleeping on new beds. That is the hilarious thing about missionary work, that you may never know where you'll be sleeping the next day haha! But yeah, here is our new address: 
13101 Riverside Dr. #301 
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 
Now for a quick thought about what I was thinking about this morning... so in the stress manual "Adjusting to Missionary Life", there was a quote that really stuck out to me. It said "worrying can be a way of mentally practicing failure." It suggested that instead of worrying what might happen, we should envision success. Positive thoughts like that have so much more power than negative, worried thoughts. Then I was looking in the Bible Dictionary (I love that resource!!) under "fear" and it explained, "fear is... something unworthy of a child of God, something that "perfect love casteth out"" and it continued to explain how fear first came about in response to sin with Adam and Eve. But I thought that was so deep... first of all that fear is unworthy of a child of God. But also, I had always considered that the opposite of fear was confidence. I had never thought that the opposite of fear is actually love. 1 John 4 has some amazing scriptures about that, but especially verse 18 where it says that "There is no afear in blove; but perfect clove casteth out fear: because fear hath dtorment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." So that made me want to work on fearing less when it comes to anything from the future to being a leader to contacting and it makes me want to simply love much more! 
Well, we're working on helping the hermanas be better at contacting by spending a few hours with each of them doing just that (we've been able to find some pretty great people doing that too!) and we have our last few exchanges of the transfer coming up. But the coolest thing coming up is that this week we get to hear from a 70 coming here- Elder Kopishke so I'm sure I'll have more great info to be able to share with you from that visit! 
I love you all so much! Also, mom, would it be possible to send me some stamps in the next few weeks? And just to let you know, I am going to be handwriting a letter and sending it to you of a paper to get my scholarships back. So if it is possible when you get it can you type it out and send it back to me in the letters next week? Thanks a ton! 
Hermana Whetten 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

This has been a week very full of meetings and work. On Monday to Tuesday night we had an exchange with the San Fernando YSA hermanas and I was able to give them tons of ideas both from what I did that seemed to be working and also what I regret not having done enough of. They were super excited and grateful for everything I was able to share. I also got to help them love to find much more because the hermana I was with had spent the first transfer of her mission with someone who was sick almost constantly for a month and so she feels like she still isn't comfortable talking with everyone. I was able to inspire her in the importance of this and especially help her make a goal to start somewhere of number of contacts she does per day then build up from there and increase that number from week to week.
Then on Wednesday all of the sister training leaders went up to the mission president's home and we had amazing training and also discussions. We were able to figure out several ideas of why things aren't working the best they can and help come up with ideas to fix them. There were many things that were taught and here were some things I learned. Sister Hall went through the attributes of Christ and talked about how people usually read them looking for how they need to change personally, but that if you change your perspective and read in in relation of how to be a better leader it changes a bit. For instance, we are supposed to have faith, but sometimes we forget to have faith in other's abilities to change. We treat them as if they were the same person as experiences we had with them last month or last transfer or even several transfers ago. But I know that I am not the same person at all as even a few weeks ago, not to mention months or transfers ago. We need to have faith in their ability to repent and change. We also need to make sure that our innermost thoughts toward them are virtuous. That one took me by surprise for a little bit because I always though of not virtuous thoughts as like bad law of chastity thoughts or something like that. But virtue is also thinking good positive thoughts about people deep down even if you never say it to anyone. And it makes sense because our thoughts dictate our words and actions which dictate who we are. And if we're wanting to become someone who will be comfortable in the presence of God, we need to have virtuous thoughts. I just loved that and I know I still have a ways to go, but I really want to work on it and just love people and leave the rest to God.
We also learned about welfare and there are some cool scriptures that we studied together if you want to do a study on it here are some reference we looked at: 2 nephi 2:28-30 (Lehi), 2 nephi 6:2-3 (Jacob), Enos 1:4-9 (Enos), Alma 48:11-13 (Moroni), Moroni 6:5 (the church), Helaman 12:1-2 (The Lord), Alma 34:17-27, Jacob 1:10 (Nephi). I want to become one of those people who is constantly true to my potential but also true to my covenants and thus looks out for the eternal welfare of others.
On Friday we had a special leadership training of all the leaders in the mission and in it we talked in great detail about stress specifically and what tools we now have (in the new manual we got called Adjusting to Missionary Life) which we can use to help the missionaries around us. For the second half of that meeting Elder Garnes from the area 70 came and gave us some training as well and one of the big things I learned is about independent initiative. I believe that is a talent God has given me to some extent and I want to keep on working to develop that talent even further through my life. Just like in 3 Nephi 17, Christ was just about to leave and then he saw that the people wanted to tarry a little longer with him, so he had them bring to him those that were inflicted in any manner at all and he healed them. That is like that independent initiative, being one of the people carrying others to Christ so that they can be healed. That is the person I want to be all the days of my life.
I also learned something not from anything anyone said, but the spirit taught me that there is a fallacy in a phrase I've used for a long time. I've always said that I am almost infinitely patient with people when I can tell they're trying, but I'm not very tolerant when it comes to disobedience. But I realized it isn't up to me to decide. They're not accountable to me. I just need to love them and become their friends and know that if they feel my love and concern my example and the spirit can teach them much more about obedience than I ever could.
Then I also loved the general relief society meeting and the theme of keeping and living our covenants. I especially loved the example of the Provo temple and how the Lord had to burn down the tabernacle first because it was in his plans all along for it to be a temple. The Lord says, "I'm the architect here, I know what I want you to be" and sometimes to get to that point, the Lord needs to first burn out a little bit of the things he doesn't want to be there. It hurts, sure, but he shapes our life by our good and bad experiences to make us into who he wants us to be.
Anyway, the Lord is blessing our area for the little bits of time we do have to work in it. I also learned this week that we should be specific in the things we ask of the Lord, like how we've been praying for a family to teach and now we have a family but it wasn't at all what we were thinking of haha! We now need to pray for a family who will want to come to church with us and who will progress.
Anyway, love you lots! Tenga el espiritu consigo siempre!
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hello!!! So this week was crazy busy!!! So this transfer in general is busy and we have tons of meetings coming up, which I am super excited for!!! We have normal Mission leadership Counsel, a special leadership training, zone training meeting, a special zone conference with a member of the 70 coming, a special mission leadership counsel attached to that, general conference, a sister trainer leader training, et cetera. And with our assignment to be sister training leaders, we have to do at least 1- 24 hour exchange with each companionship we're over. Right now we're over 6 companionships of sisters. So last Monday evening, we received a call from the assistants for the official time of the special sister training leader meeting and during that call, we found out that the time it was at knocked out two of the exchanges we had planned. So we had to do some pretty crazy things. We called up one companionship and asked if they could move their weekly planning day to another day and we could do an exchange with them on a Thursday, we are going to have to perform two exchanges this transfer from a Monday night 6:00pm to Tuesday night (which is weird-- we like to do them noon to noon), and the best one was that literally to fit them all in, we had to call up a companionship last Monday and ask if they would be up for the challenge of doing an exchange the very next day. They were, so this past week we did 3 exchanges and tonight we'll be doing our fourth already. Hermana Barnes didn't just get her feet wet a little with this assignment, she jumped in head first haha! So the exchanges were Tuesday-Wednesday, Thursday-Friday, and Friday-Saturday (the last two were back to back. It was funny because we like never got to see each other practically even though we're companions haha!)
For all three of the exchanges so far, I've been in North Hollywood and Hermana Barnes has been leaving. In the first exchange, it was in a trio, so I was with the trainer and a brand new missionary. My favorite part of that exchange was probably in a role play we did in the comp study in the morning. The brand new missionary (who still looks a little shell shocked most of the time) was being the person who the trainer and I were contacting and we were role playing a knocking door situation to practice using the Book of Mormon better. I asked the new missionary to be someone real and we later ended up finding out that she picked her brother who has made some quick choices that he regretted to sign up for 6 years of the army without thinking about it too much and his testimony is lacking because of it and he's not sure if he wants to go on a mission anymore. The trainer ended up picking this scripture in Alma 48:11 and the new missionary read through it once and after testifying a little bit further, she had the new missionary read it again but substitute the name instead and she started crying and the spirit was so great! I really think it helped her understand what the experience can be like for people when the Book of Mormon is used effectively.
In the second exchange I learned about how our attitude totally impacts our experience. She is what we call a "visa waiter" and this is her 4th I think transfer she's been here waiting to receive her visa to go to Argentina. And I think she's literally making herself sick because she wants to just be there and she isn't that motivated to get out and go all the time. But we did see many miracles together and were able to do much good and so I'm hoping my example and words to help bring up her confidence helped her. An interesting part is that I brought up with her the story of a member in my current ward, Nicole, who is from Ecuador and wants to go on a mission when she turns 19. Nicole has told us that when she goes on a mission, she hopes that she gets to be a visa waiter so that she can get to help that many more people and learn from 2 mission presidents and that many more individuals and missionaries. Your attitude totally controls everything!
The third exchange I went on last week was probably the best exchange I've ever been on. She was so honest and open with me about how she's been feeling and so I really feel like I was able to help her tremendously! She talked about how when she first came to the mission, she had such huge fire to go out and find and do everything she could, but that her companions haven't had nearly as much energy as her, so she's felt like she's had to make herself comfortable with playing a small role in everything. I helped her realize that she actually loves finding and she doesn't know how or why she forgot (which was probably the biggest miracle of it all). I gave her some tools to be able to take back this newfound fire with her companions, namely I told her to have her and her companions act out Exodus 17:8-12 (the verses which was basically the time the Lord revealed the idea of having a first presidency where Aaron and Hurr had to be at Moses' side lifting up his arms because when Moses' arms were up, Israel was winning the battle). She also set some of the coolest goals ever! In the next month, she wants to find 25 new investigators!!! And also, she wants to achieve all her daily goals, so she made a plan where for each daily goal achieved, she gets 1 point and for each daily goal exceeded, she gets 2 points. Then when she gets up to 15 points, she has earned herself ice cream. And for every daily goal she doesn't make, she has to do 10 pushups! She was so great!!!!
Now for a funny story and a few things I've been learning...
The story is that there is this missionary on the other side of the SF Valley who has only been out for 1 transfer. Last weekend we had a huge stake activity called the Dia de Hispanidad and at one point I ran into her and her companion. This newish missionary was in the same zone as Hermana Barnes last transfer, and so she came up me and looked at me and said, "you are so lucky!!! You have such a great trainer!" haha!! I didn't know what to say. Hermana Barnes wanted to burst out and say, "take it back now!" and her trainer had a shocked look on her face. I thought it was super funny.
And for something I've been learning, I told Hermana Barnes that I have been feeling the spirit with her absolutely all of the time constantly that I've been with her. It was interesting because it was almost such a stark contrast but we've been coming up for some theories why. 1) she is just completely jam pack filled with the spirit 2) she thought that just maybe I've learned how to recognize the spirit so much more in my life so it feels like it hasn't always been there but now I just notice it. 3) There was this missionary that we gave rides up to the mission office yesterday because they needed to have an interview with President Hall for some reason. And afterward, President Hall invited Hermana Barnes and I and the two of them to get this new resource called "adjusting to missionary life" which is basically a whole manual that the church recently came out with that is all about how to deal with stress as a missionary and it is so cool. But there was this one chart in it about levels of stress and there were colors like green-yellow-orange-red. Green is a great level and red is like you are crazy and sick because of stress. And there were some interesting explanations by it, but what I learned from it is that I think with Hermana Barnes, I've been able to be totally and completely in the green zone of stress (the zone where of course you feel stress but your resources help balance it out and so you are working hard and feeling great) and in that zone, you feel the presence of the spirit constantly. So I think that is what I am able to be with Hermana Barnes. I am literally the best missionary I've ever been on my mission, I am able to work so hard and stay super focused and learn so much and I know that she will always be 100% completely at my side so that we can help each other through everything. It was really a great realization to make. Other companions have been great in many different areas and reasons, but I think she is my favorite! I am so super happy. Pretty tired, but happy!
Anyway, hope you had a great week and I'm excited this week to be able to look through more of that stress book!
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, September 16, 2013

First I’ll let you know about my new companion...
Her name is Hermana Barnes. She is from Nashville, TN and has been out for 7 months as of a few days ago. She came in in the same group as Hermana Hardy. She is so great! So a few random things about her that I've learned... she loves to play sports a lot. She had been in gymnastics from the age of 5-8 and from 8-12 or so she was doing it competitively until she broke both of her ankles (she's better now though!). But after that she didn't really want to go back and the next year she grew 4 inches haha! But yeah, she took up volleyball instead after that. But because of her injury and others in her family, she's been around physical therapists for a while and she had decided that is what she wants to do with her life. She is 20 years old and she is so amazing!!! She is very different from Hermana Vila, but I love her so much already! She is such a hard worker and she jumped right in with helping figure out the area and with helping the hermanas. She is so proactive and takes her fair share and has great ideas and is so easy to get along with! It is possible that I'll be with her for these last two transfers of my mission and I consider myself super lucky because I can tell already she is going to be amazing friend and support for me. She has that calming nature about her that you just know she will always be on your side and she cares so much about me. I couldn't be happier to be working with her!
We've been thinking of what we can use for our companionship statement, and what we've got is "As righteous daughters of God, we are meant to shine. As we radiate in deep love and lose ourselves, we will strive to liberate the light in others."
I love that because it is like the quote from Nelson Mandela, I believe. When we have true faith and trust in God, there is no reason to have insecurities. Only be believing!
The area is doing well. I'm not sure if I mentioned it last week or not, but absolutely all of our work went to the new area that was created in our ward (we are now at 5 companionships in this ward). We had one investigator left and in the meeting we had with him the first few days, we realized that he has reached an age where he doesn't actually comprehend anything we were telling him, so we dropped him and from then started at blank slate, ground zero. We, therefore, have had tons of finding time.
We have the goal of 25 new investigators and 100 Books of Mormon by the end of the transfer and we are well on the way to achieving those. This week we passed out 20 Books of Mormon and got 4 new investigators. There was one day that we passed out 10 Books of Mormon! The crazy part is that 2 of those were to atheists. It is so cool working with a goal like that because it changes how we testify about everything and it changes how you study. There is a promise in Preach My Gospel that if we pray for and work to know how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in our work we will be enlightened in how to use it. For instance, it has changed how I study in that I'm looking for what ways I can testify. As one example, when I was a new missionary, I remember this one experience when someone answered the door and said "I'm an atheist" and we said something like "Oh, okay, thanks, bye." But now I'm searching for how I can testify about the Book of Mormon in a way that would make it real and relevant to them. For instance, using the Alma 22 and how the king came to know there was a god or Alma 36 and explaining how a belief in Jesus Christ can help them. I look at situations that happen every day where I maybe am a little more insecure (like the other day I ran into the first Muslim I've met on the mission and I wasn't sure how to testify to them). But yeah! I love it and the cool part is that I am realizing that I think it is a gift of the spirit to be able to testify in such a way that you create desires in others. And that is what I've realized is happening where people are asking us if we can give them a Book of Mormon. It is so great!!
The funny part is that since the last MLC/ZTM (mission leadership counsel/zone training meeting) everyone in the mission is trying to give away more Books of Mormon and it is getting to the point where the office is actually on back order of them and we may not be receiving more until next month. Haha! So we may have to consciously try to slow down so that we don't run out before we can get some more.
Anyway, that is probably the big stuff that is happening this week. We will have some pretty cool things this transfer like some of the 70s coming (I think 2 different times) and general conference, and things like that. Because of it all, with scheduling, we had to do some weird things like put some exchanges back to back. So that will be kind of crazy, but I'm sure it'll work out.
Anyway, I love you all and I love to hear from you on how you're doing!

Tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre!
~Hermana Whetten 

Monday, September 9, 2013

First of all, I just sent Brittany an e-mail with my personal opinion of what what might be a good idea to do with her time, so she can get that in her e-mail address. Also, it was funny hearing your side of the story for how we got the shirts etc. They were in the mailbox when we checked on Saturday evening, so everything worked out okay in the end. Thank you so much for them! You are so thoughtful and we love wearing them!! Thanks also for the Hot Tamales we got those in the mail on Thursday or Friday and it made us laugh because of course you can send boxes in the mail, but I wouldn't really think to send a box of candy like that haha! It is kind of like on my birthday when I opened the mailbox and there was a piece of "cake" sitting there haha!!! You're so great! 
Anyway, this week has been a little crazy with trying to do everything necessary. Including transfer meeting tomorrow, we will have driven up to Santa Clarita five times this week. We had mission leadership counsel on Wednesday and it was super good!! A lot of the focus of it was on the Book of Mormon. Like if you just do the math. If every companionship were focused on trying to give away 100 copies of the Book of Mormon every month, everyone in the valley could have one in a matter of not too many years. Too often we try to answer people's questions on our own rather than turning to the Book of Mormon and letting the prophets answer for us. I will need to discuss it with my new companion to make sure we're unified in it, but I want to give away 100 copies of the Book of Mormon this transfer. And I feel like it is totally possible. I mean when we go on exchanges it would count for both of us how many we give away in both areas haha! I made a little color in chart to color how many we've given away and so we can see how we're doing. Another goal I want to make is finding 25 new investigators this transfer. President Hall said that if you do the statistics, for every 25 new investigators, 1 person on average is baptized. So I want to do it. And that will be a great goal to have too because our area is going to be split this transfer and we will be gaining at least 10 member families (we only had like 3 before) but we will be starting off with a blank slate basically because all of our investigators and baptismal dates and everything will be going to the new areas. So we'll get the chance to find a lot! woohoo!! I am super excited to have those goals because I think that will help us focus all the time to be even more diligent so that we can squeeze every minute we can out of working in our area and finding, giving the Book of Mormon away, et cetera. I hope my new companion will support me in those goals. 
I really have been gaining a testimony lately of goals. I remember a few months ago I was so inspired with the idea that "someday in the future when I'm home" I'm going to make a scrapbook out of achieved goals. But I was always thinking about it in a way of after my mission. But it hit me a few weeks ago-- why am I thinking like that?! I could apply the same principles now and get so much more done out of my mission. SO I started using post-it notes on the wall and I have been making tons of goals. I've been setting daily goals, weekly goals, monthly and transfer goals, mission goals, et cetera. They are things that range from proselyting (like use the Book of Mormon to answer someone's question rather than answer on my own) to exercise goals and study goals etc. And one of the goals I have is to review my goals each night so I can remember them and keep on working toward achieving them whether in my studies or throughout the day or doing something consistently. I love it! All the time when I'm in meetings I will write down things I love that I want to make a goal about. I am super inspired about it and I really feel like it is helping me use my time more effectively because any spare moment I'm thinking of what else I can do. 
I love it and I just want to keep it up because I want to finish my mission so strong until the last day. I don't want to give myself time to remorse these last few months because I want to live and serve with everything I have so I can know that I really did everything I can do. 
Love you so much! We're going to be taking the new missinaries out knocking in about an hour or so. Then we'll finish preparation day and everything we need to do to help Hermana Vila get prepared for tomorrow. Thanks for all your love to her too! I've let her know that since she's my sister now, you all are officially her family and I think she's going to be getting into contact with you. 
Have a fantastic week and tenga el espiritu consigo para siempre!! 
Hermana Whetten

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hello! So this week was pretty great. We conducted the last two exchanges for this transfer and so we were pretty busy. They both went super well. Both of them were with two people of a trio coming to my area, so I got to sleep on the floor. But besides that, they were really good. We got to see cool miracles of timing during them both for being able to find potentials to visit in the future. We got to serve people in the ward as well and I really feel like I was able to help out the companionships to better be able to be guided by the spirit and to have more unity in the companionships.

Another huge thing that happened this week was that we got the package in the mail on Monday. When we were in line at the post office waiting to pick up the package, I informed her that I wanted her to open the package and the excuse was because she doesn't ever get packages from her family. She told me that I was being ridiculous and you don't just open other people's packages. But I insisted and so when we got home it turned into a hilarious hide-and-go-seek round with the box. I put the box on her desk. She put it on my desk. I put in in her closet. So she put it on my bed. I put it in her dresser. She put it on my toilet. Haha! And it just kept on going. I still wouldn't open it by the end of the day, so she finally decided she would. She had been using the excuse that my name was on the box, so I scribbled out my name and wrote hers. She was so cute opening it because she cut all the tape and then closed her eyes and reached in and was feeling it with her eyes closed (I was taking pictures the whole time) and when she realized what it was she looked at me and started crying and told me to put the camera away. She loved it so much! She was like a little kid playing with the best new toy in the world as she looked up her favorite scriptures and read them in English. Each day after personal study, she would excitedly tell me, "guess what? I just read 1 Nephi 1 (or 2 etc) and I understood it!" She's so excited to go to the Mission Leadership Council this week because she wants to raise her hand and read all the scriptures now that she has them in English. Oh and she loves so much that now she has a Bible Dictionary! She was studying Faith in it this week, for instance. Thanks so much for helping me out with that! It meant the world to her! 
Also, she passed her 18 month mark this week, so that morning after working out, I used the excuse that I was going to make her breakfast to send her to the shower to cover up the even bigger and better surprise that I had prepared for her. I had 18 balloons and in each of them I hid a piece to a paper puzzle I had made with a hand drawn picture of the LA temple on the front and a note for her on the back with a scripture on each piece that she can take with her to help her in starting the next phase in her life. Then I hid the balloons all over the house and she was like a little kid again running around the house like she was on an Easter egg hunt!! It was so much fun to see her! Especially when she for some reason with the first one decided she wanted to pop it with her bum. She quickly decided she didn't like that idea but it was so funny!! 
One cool finding miracle this week was when we had just finished an exchange and we had a few minutes while we were waiting for other hermanas to text us where to meet them because we were going to help them find people to teach. So we stopped home for just a few minutes to grab a quick lunch and check the mail and for some reason we had decided to park on the street rather in the garage like we normally do. But on the way out we just said hi to this one person and he stopped and started talking to us for a bit. He was a Jehovah’s witness but he was going through something really hard in his life right then and he said that us just saying hi and starting to talk to him made him change his mind. He had been on the way to go buy some liquor but he changed his direction and came back to his home. He let us give him our water instead and he promised he wouldn't go drink. And we gave him a Book of Mormon with a chapter to read and he promised he would read that chapter. It was super cool! You never know what kind of an influence a simple "hello" can be! 
And I love this feeling like no matter where I am I am exactly where the Lord needs me to be. Like yesterday our investigator who came to church on Sunday after only one lesson with him and who we just set a baptismal date with wanted to take us to Baskin Robbins for the lesson we set up. And it just so turned out that the cashier at Baskin Robbins was a person who was inactive and used to go to church like 10 years ago! So we got his information and we'll be able to work with him! How cool is that?! 
This may be a hard week for Hermana Vila because more and more she is freaking out about going home next week. In a way it is good for me to see this side of her too because I've never been someone's last companion before, but I'm deciding that I am going to work absolutely the strongest I can right up to my last day. I remember Shaun being an assistant and he didn't even have time to pack up really. I think I'd prefer leaving like that!

Anyways, I love you and I hope you had a great Labor Day yesterday! We had a fun zone barbeque where they had assigned a lot of us to buy a pound of meat, so we had tons of delicious food and grilled it etc! Being a missionary is the coolest thing ever! I got to help out a lot of heating up the corn tortillas on the grill and cutting up the avacados etc. I think doing things like that makes me feel quite a bit more Latina because that is the type of food they eat all the time! Oh and Hermana Vila made me some Venezuelan food this week, so I may have to introduce you to some of it eventually.

Que Tenge el espiritu consigo para siempre! 
~Hermana Whetten