Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

This was a really good week but also unusual and crazy. 
On Tuesday, I went on an exchange and I went to North Hollywood for a day. It was really good and fun and I learned a lot through talking to the exchange sisters about what I can do in my area to better use the members... be it by making our dinner lessons more focused on inspiring them in how they can be missionaries too or by working with the ward council to call more ward missionaries so they can help take care of some of the recent converts etc. 
On Thursday, we had a zone conference and the spirit was strong and we learned a lot. One big thing about the conference was that they talked to us about rules that are there but we don't all know about because they are in things that we don't read through all the time or necessarily have access to (so we would only know about them by word of mouth) like in e-mails the mission president has received. So he compiled a packet of all these and we have them now. It is good because with a higher level of obedience brings more blessings. Obedience to the mission rules is one of the 5 things we can do to strengthen our faith. The others are improving our prayers, better obedience to the spirit, better studies, and diligently working hard always. Through increasing our faith we can increase our connection with God and can thus be better guided by him so we can be led to those people seeking the truth and also can better teach the people. I've been working on making sure that from the exchange and the conference I'm actually making changes to some things. Maybe they're not huge changes, but the small changes can, over time, bring huge results like the airplane making a 1 degree change in its course. 
That's one thing the spirit has taught me this week... that if you don't get anything out of it, there is almost no point in going to a conference, or spending an hour studying, or going to a district meeting, or going to church, or even saying a prayer. If you just learn one thing from doing one of these and then you apply it to your life to really help you become better, then it was worthwhile to go. It is interesting that change is so hard. But change is what is required of us to return back to Heavenly Father. 
Some other things I've learned this week... 
I'm reading through the Libro de Mormon again and yesterday I was reading in 2 Nefi 5:12 and something huge stuck out to me. That verse was written about 30 years after the family first left from Jerusalem. The journey itself lasted about 11 years, so this verse was writted about 19 years after the journey was done. But in that verse, it talks about how they were still using the compass to lead and guide them in their decisions and to receive revelation about what they should do! I had never noticed that before!! It talks about how it was prepared by the hand of the Lord and it was, thus, precious to them. And they were still using it!! I decided that is how I want to be. I think for me, my mission is my compass or Liahona. Sure, the things I learn can absolutely be applied while I am actually on my journey through the wilderness, or on my mission. But I still want to be using these things even after the journey or mission is over. I want to be using these things like 19 years later to still lead and guide me. Once the journey was over, their life wasn't done. They still needed the Lord so they didn't get rid of his compass but they kept on using it for years and years. In that way, I think the mission really can become the North Star for the rest of my life. 
I also have been thinking about how while I really have the spirit with me in my life so strongly while on my mission, I need to take the time to really apply things that I want to learn. Because if I really learn it here, I believe I can keep on living it more easily later. One such thing is keeping a little Book of Revelations with me. The idea is simple-- you just record every revelation you receive. It might be things you need to do, things that really stick out to you from a talk or scripture, things you dream maybe, things that you need to jot down while you're praying, et cetera. What I've been finding out is that as I write them down and especially as I talk about them with my companion, the Lord is blessing me with so much more than the initial thought that I sarted with. My Book of Revelations is one of those little tiny notebooks. But it is so good! I recommend it! 
Also, I love exercise so much! And the other day we were talking about how Satan must be so jealous of us being able to sweat and exercise and feel pain. That is why he makes people feel like they like being lazy and laying around rather than exercising. But when I exercise, I feel so alive. I love sweating it all out. I love having a body!! And I think there is more to it too. Like the connection our spirit has with the body is so sacred. And I think that that connection is unique to everyone. Literally everyone is different. We are all different on the outside and definitely on the inside. I believe we all see differently, and feel differently, and that is why we hope and think differently. But that is why there is something beautiful about why we all feel like we need to create and show things differently! It is so great! 
That's about all the time I have right now, but hopefully as I continue to receive revelations, I can continue to share cool thoughts!! 
~Hermana Whetten

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

This week was really a great week!!

First of all, last Monday we decided to do something fun, so we went to this place called the Japanese Gardens which was super fun!! It was a little cold, but it was a blast. There was a bonsai tree garden, a Japanese house, and just a ton of trees and paths to walk around. It was really peaceful and serene. It was a blast and part of what was so fun was that we just took a ton of photos. I've been working on sending some of them to you but these computers today are a little slow, so I probably won't get through many. They also had fun stuff at the gift shop like this thing called a Buddha Board where you paint on it with water and it shows up then slowly goes away as it dries in a few minutes. So relaxing and fun. We were really considering getting one, but we got mini Bonsai tree kits instead haha! I can't wait. 

Let's see... This week was a really great week. We kind of ended up exhausted because we are going around doing so much stuff all day long and juggling so many people. The last two weeks we've gotten 6 new investigators each week, so we're really working on trying to help them all a little. It's sad dropping people, but theoretically as many people as you add each week you need to be dropping that many people each week. It's sad, but if we're wasting time on people who won't progress, that is taking time away from people who live in this area who would progress if we were to find them. Finding the balance between everything is hard, but we're working at it and we really do feel like we're doing good in this area. 

One thing we have been thinking about is goals and what we want to accomplish with the time we have on our mission and also what we want to accomplish during our lives. One really proactive investigator was telling us about how she has kept a little book of her goals that she's made throughout the years, so she likes to now go through and read back over them to see everything that she's accomplished. I love goals so much. I love making them because they help me know what I want to do with my life and so that helps me be able to make plans of what I need to be doing with my life in order to get to that point where I am living my goals rather than just living.

I also love the atonement so much. I definitely have a testimony that when we prepare for the sacrament, it becomes so much more meaningful. For instance, on Saturday because of the way the lessons were, we weren't able to finish language study, so we came home early in the night and (since it is hard to be motivated to study late at night) we watched The Lamb of God in Spanish for language study and it is so great!!!! It really helped me be able to keep my thoughts focused on the atonement so much more this week (compared to last week when we were just stressing about our investigators haha!). A few things that really hit me is like this one short clip where his hands were tied up and he let it happen. That is what made him the Lamb going off to slaughter. It had to happen. But I bet it was so hard. He was humiliated. His clothes were stripped from him and he had to stand there as the people he had just atoned for spit on him, whipped him, yelled at him as a crowd to be crucified, he had to walk in front of them carrying the beam, then hang. He was the Savior! I don't know why it had never hit me before, but before the Roman soldiers took him away, he performed a miracle right in front of them. He healed the ear that had been cut. He healed it, which was enough to show them that he is the Redeemer and right after viewing the miracle they took him away. I just love Jesus! He is so great and the more I learn about him the more grateful I am for him. 
There weren't actually that many stories that happened this week, so I think I may just wrap up. Well, there was a funny story that right after church we found out that Martha, one of the members had dropped her phone down this little pipeline thing under the sink in the Mother's lounge. We were like, "out of all the counter space, how did you manage that?!" She told us that her phone screen is cracked, so she can't turn down the volume. She didn't want the phone to go off during church, so she put in in there under the counter and she happened to put it on the one section that when she closed the door under the sink it pushed it into the hole. We were just laughing at how that happened. Eventually one of the hermanos was able to get the cover off and they all tried to reach it but they couldn't. But unlike all the hispanics there (haha!) I have long skinny fingers, so I was able to reach it and do a little bit of unplanned service. fun fun haha!!! 
This will be a fun and different week. We have companion exchanges tomorrow and I'll be going up to North Hollywood and on Thursday we have a zone conference all day. 
Have a great week and keep up all the good you're doing!!! 
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

How are you all doing? I hope life is treating you wonderfully well! 
A few more Spanish jokes (like before with the answers at the bottom): 
1) Que tiene cuando hay un terremoto en la Vaticana? (the Vatican) 
2) Que hace una pez? 
Anyway, what a crazy and great week! Some of the most exciting things were that Antonio (a different investigator than the one that just got baptized) came to church finally for the first time this Sunday!! It was so great. He's also so committed to quitting smoking and he was able to receive a priesthood blessing after church to help him. We've been working with him for quite a while and he came even though his wife who actually is a member didn't come. We are so excited for him! 
We actually have been able to find 6 new investigators this week and it is crazy. Some days, especially on Saturday, we could see the hand of the Lord in absolutely everything that happened. Everything was so miraculous. As one example, the way we found a new investigator, Claudia, was so phenomenal. Every single lesson that day that we had planned, one by one got cancelled for various causes (one person had to go pick his mom up at the airport, another had an uncle and a friend die within 2 days--we brought her ice cream--, another was in Santa Clarita with his family, etc). So we had some time to find before it got dark. We decided that we were going to visit a less active member. But we decided that on the way we would stop by one of the old investigators who we had records for (we had picked out several randomly a week or so ago). The one we happened to pick of our whole stack was just because the people lived closest to the less active member. So we stopped by and on the way I remember Hermana Mulliner making sure that her name badge was showing and was not being covered up by her hair or backpack or jacket (that isn't that normal of a thing to make a huge point out of checking before walking in). But we knocked on their door. They don't normally answer the door for anyone because they're paranoid that people with pistols will just walk in. But he just felt like he should answer the door and he peeked out and saw Hermana Mulliner's namebadge and opened the door and let us in. We found out he was actually baptized when he was a kid but he doesn't remember that much and his wife was very interested in learning more. I don't know if I'm describing it adequately, but every single step led us directly to them and eventually to their door. The Lord didn’t tell us to go directly there, but he directed us there by having us think of Hermana Guerrero, then picking an old investigator paper and everything that happened earlier in the day made us arrive at just the right time on a day when they were both home and then Hermana Mulliner checking her badge to make sure it was showing got us in. We could definitely see the Lord's hand in all of it. He is so mindful of us and sometimes he has to direct us by guiding us through a series of things to get us to where he actually wants us. But they came to church yesterday for sacrament meeting and loved it! 
A random thing that might make you laugh. The last week or two my companion and I have been trying something really random. We have started blending our salads to make vegetable smoothies for lunch. Like we just have gone to the store and looked at different veggies and been like, "well, I think that one is supposed to be healthy for you, so let's buy some of that." We have lots of different things like carrots, spinach, broccoli, celery, peppers, tomatoes, et cetera. What smoothie we make for the day is simply by what combination of veggies we happen to randomly want to try that day. The recipe is really simple. We put whatever veggies we want in the blender and also ice and a liquid like a juice or milk and then blend it. Then we taste it and it is always gross at that point. Then we add something sweet. For instance, we can add a banana, a yogurt cup, a can of fruit (like peaches or apricots), or whatever other fruit we want or happen to have. we add one of them and then blend and taste it. If it still needs more sweet we add something else. We continue to do that until it becomes palatable. The color is always really gross. Some days the taste hasn't been that great either. For instance, just to save us a little bit of potential grief we don't use raw asparagus. It doesn't ever really taste good. We've been trying this for most lunches at home for the past week or so and sometimes the smoothies are really starting to come along and actually become good. But it is funny because every day we laugh about how weird we are. But every day we are like craving it again haha (maybe because Hispanic food that we get all the time isn't that healthy for the most part)! We're always excited to see what it will taste like. We're also always so surprised that you can become full on fruits and veggies. I've also got a really good breakfast recipe that I've recently come up with that actually is a winner every time (I don't know if you'll trust me after the story I just told you about our veggie ones, but this one actually is pretty delicious). You mix the following in a blender: a banana, a cup of yogurt, a bit of milk, some ice cubes, and a handful of oatmeal oat stuff (like the dry stuff you use when you make oatmeal cookies). It is super good and is another way to get some fiber from the oats and fruits. It is all healthy too. I guess we're just having a lot of fun with our blender lately. We've also made peanut butter, chocolate, and banana smoothies too. those are good and just a little bit less healthy :) 
Anyway, that is probably most of what's been going on here. We are always learning and growing. We're really finding out that there are such great and fun ways to do finding activities. Like we've been planning and doing some fun family home evening things, we're working on planning some activities with the YSA branch, we're working on starting an English class, et cetera. I guess there is definitely a difference between working smart and working hard. Sure it is hard work to knock on doors all day long, but it is harder work (and definitely smarter work) to spend the time to work through members and plan activities where they can bring their friends, look for service opportunities, et cetera. 
Also, it's funny how much Hispanic people want to feed you here! Like there was a streak of 4 or so days this week where we didn't eat a single lunch or dinner at home because so many people just kept wanting to feed us. They take offense if you try to say no also. Like their food is their way of offering you a part of their heart, so you have to take it or you're rejecting them. 
But yeah, have a great week. Isn't it crazy how fast time flies? 
~Hermana Whetten Answers: 1) puree de papa 2) nada!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Here I am again haha! 
Well, this was a great week. The highlight was probably being able to see Antonio get confirmed at church yesterday. The ward is really taking care of and responsibe for him too. Like we found out that before church started the bishop already had interviewed him to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and they're working on getting him a calling as well. From a missionary perspective, there is nothing we want more for our recent converts than exactly that... opportunities for them to learn and grow and where they can receive responsibilities and blessings. That is so great! The ward is on it! 
It is kind of funny... our ward still doesn't have a new bishop from when we got the new stake presidency like almost 2 months ago. So our poor old bishop is having to do both callings. Every week we go to church thinking, "maybe we'll get our new bishop this week." Who knows... maybe next week? 
We are super excited because Lyz is finally back from her month long vacation so now we can start working with her again. She went to church yesterday and we're going to go see them tonight. 
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We got the transfer calls and I have another one here in Reseda with Hermana Mulliner. It'll be good. We are having some crazy changes happening in the mission... like one of our Assistants to the President is going home this week, so about a week ago we received a text about who the next AP is going to be. But then this weekend we received another text that both those APs are being released for a special assignment and so two completely brand new APs have been called. The special assignment is evidently that they are going to conduct a ton of companionship exchanges with Elders in the mission just like they recently have been doing with the sisters like I explained when I went on the exchange a few weeks ago. It was so crazy to hear that announcement!!! 
There are a few other changes. Hermana Fish-- one of the Hermanas on bike nearby in Canoga Park -- is leaving. Two elders from our district are leaving. Also, we have a new district leader because the old one is going to be training. Oh yeah, about training, we aren't having any hermanas coming out this transfer or next I believe. I guess it will still be a little longer before there is a huge influx of missionaries. 
Anyway, another quick story from this week is that I had helote for my first time. That is one of the things that the street venders on carts go from apartment to apartment honking a horn and selling. We were in a lesson meeting with an old investigator/less active/part member family and their baby heard the horn and wanted one, so the dad bought everyone an helote. What they do is they take a corn on the cob and put butter then a bit of mayonaise on it. Then I think they put some of the crumbly white cheese on it. Finally, they sprinkle on lemon salt and chile powder. It was actually really good! It was kind of weird eating it because I eat corn on the cob from one side to the other, so only one side of my lips were getting the chile little bit of heat. haha! It was just weird to feel that whole half lip heat thing. 
Also, we had a fun noche de hogar (family home evening) this week. The lesson was really cool. We were teaching about how Sunday is special and how it is a commandment to keep it holy etc. So we got two bowls of ice cream and on one we started pouring ketchup and mustard and relish etc. None of those are bad. They are just things you don't put on your sundae. Then on the other we poured normal sundae toppings like caramel and hot fudge etc. Those are things you do put on your sundae like go to church, write missionaries, do service etc. It was really fun! 
One thing that was fun was someone brought a special bread for dessert and so this week we've been learning all about this one tradition. Evidently in Mexico there is a tradition that they do for Christmas. Christmas itself isn't very special. Like you do get a few small presents but that is it. But then January 6th is evidently the day that they celebrate the three wise men came. So everyone leaves their shoes out and when you wake up the next morning you have some money in your shoes or presents, depending on the family. But there is another tradition where on January 6th there is a special bread that they make ...I think it is called Roscoe de Rayes or something like that... basically meaning a bread of kings. It is this bread that is made into an oval and then they put stuff on the top like this fruit stuff and sprinkles or some frosting or whatever. But the thing is that they hide these 3 little dolls inside the bread. Then everyone cuts off their own piece of the bread. Whoever gets the three little plastic dolls has to bring the stuff for the next party which is evidently on the 2nd of February. So the first person has to bring the tamales, the second person the drinks, and the people telling us about it forgot what the 3rd person had to bring, but it was probably dessert or something like that. So at the noche de hogar this week, someone brought this bread and Hermana Mulliner ended up with the first little doll. Everyone was laughing at her because she has no clue how to make tamales but evidently now she has to learn. She thought they would let her off the hook because she is a missionary, but no, everyone told her that she got the doll so now she has to. Hahaa!!!! So evidently later this month we'll be learning how to make tamales. Maybe we could get Herminia to teach us how to do that and somehow get her to church or to an activity from us learning to make tamales. We'll see how creative we can be!! 
Anyway, those are probably the biggest stories from this week. Oh yeah, we met a new investigator out on the street and it was so funny! He was standing outside his apartment waiting for his plumber to come and we started talking to him about what we do as missionaries and what we believe etc. It was really just a weird/funny situation because we were just about to take off and he was like, "hold on a second!" and he ran inside and gave us a box of some kind of Belgium truffles. He also practically was proposing to Hermana Mulliner and told her how pretty she was so many times we couldn't even count it on our fingers. We do have a return appointment, so we'll definitely be bringing some strong members to see if he even really has interest in learning about the church or not. But it just makes us laugh what our life is as missionaries. We are constantly put into weird/awkward situations. Therefore, I understand why Returned Missionaries are stereotypically awkward. It is because they just got home from being put in awkward situations constantly for 18-24 months. So really, they are the normal ones. haha! 
Anyway, we regifted his chocolate to some investigators we met with that evening haha! 
But yeah, that was the week. I hope you all have a great week. Good luck with school starting up again. May the Spirit be with you always! 
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, December 31,2012

Happy New Years Eve! 
I definitely encourage you all to make goals for this coming year. Goals that are realistic but will make you stretch. Then do everything within your power to achieve the goals this year! In this way 2013 can be a year of miracles. I also encourage you to make a goal about what you can do this year to be an even better member-missionary. When we are truly converted we want to share the gospel. Look for little opportunities of service and love for nonmembers, active members, and less active as well. 
I think that is all on my mind because yesterday was a 5th Sunday and I had to give a talk in Reseda again haha. 5 months ago, on the very first Sunday of my mission I was standing there at the same pulpit in the same ward giving a talk about missionary work as well. And you know what is really cool? Maybe the ward hasn't changed that much, but I have changed a lot. I am a better missionary, a harder worker, nicer, better at Spanish, more knowledgeable in the gospel, more outgoing to talk to people on the streets etc. It is cool to be able to look back and see that I am better. But at the same time I know I have a long way to go, so I'm excited to see where 2013 will take me, what more miracles I will see, who I will help, and how I can let the mission change me forever. 
That being said, one of the cool things about Hermana Mulliner is that she always pulls these jokes out of I don't know where but they are really funny.... she is hilarious and so fun to be around. But here are two of hers, one is an English joke and one is a Spanish. I have the answers at the bottom of the letter. 
1) Why do so many people in the Book of Mormon have sore knees? 
2) Cuantas estrellas hay en los cielos? 
Anyway... I have a cool story I'd like to tell about Hermana Mulliner. You know the story you told me on skype about how you have been collecting coins and you gave them away? (In fact, if you happen to have that story you told me, you should attach it to the blog!) Well you want to know something cool? On the way home, Hermana Mulliner was telling me that a year ago she received one such jar of coins. She said it was given to her and it was to help her out for her mission fund. It is kind of cool to think about it. You can take care of some of Heavenly Father's children, and have trust that someone else will take care of another child of Heavenly Father elsewhere. Suddenly the world is full of little acts of Christian service as everyone is taking care of each other. It is kind of like the talk about the bees from general conference. Each bee doesn't do a huge amount of work... only like 1/12 of a teaspoon's worth. But it is when all of the bees do their part that you get a lot of honey. As we do our part and have faith that others will do theirs too the world becomes a better place. 
On Christmas I finished reading through the Book of Mormon in Spanish and I was so excited but the next day I started right up again in 1 Nephi 1. This time while reading through it, I actually took the advice/activity in the Chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel under the Mission President section where you get a fresh paperback copy and read it while highlighting different things in different colors like every time it mentions Christ, what his words are, what his attributes are, etc. I am only in Chapter 7 or 8 now, but reading while doing this is so helpful to me. I am learning so many new principles all the time and the Holy Ghost is able to teach me so much more. I am also super excited because I can read through it with ease and am understanding everything even though it is in Spanish. It is so cool because when I first started last time I needed to have my English and Spanish copies right next to each other and read them side by side. I love the Spanish language and am excited that little by little I'm working on learning it better. 
Hermana Mulliner was still sick a lot of this week so for several days she like slept all day then we went out to have one or two appointments in the night. Like every time she ate she got huge stomach pains, so for several days she just ate crackers, apple sauce, and simple things like that to let her system kind of reset and as of a couple of days ago, she is okay again! Yay! But yeah, our numbers of lessons weren't fantastic because of that, but the highlight of this week was definitely at the baptism we had last night. Antonio got baptized and I attached a photo we took right beforehand. It was so great!! His is such a simple but cool story. He literally got baptized a month and 2 days after we first met him. It seemed like his conversion process was so quick and so easy as far as our work was. When I look back, I remember he did have tons of questions at first. Like at our first lesson he had so many questions and we had to tell him that we can't answer everything in only one visit. He didn't accept the Book of Mormon as scripture right away. He wanted proof to know where the gold plates are now so he can see it. But now he is baptized. And for me that is a testimony that there are people in the world who are so prepared for the gospel. It is a testimony that people can get baptized in a month. But most of all, it is a testimony to me of the importance of commitments. We never had one of those super memorable lessons with him where the spirit was there undeniably strong. But with him, he kept every single commitment we gave him and so all along the way, he was able to have mini spiritual experiences so that eventually he did come to know it was true. Oh and it was also a testimony that the Lord helps the missionaries who are learning languages too. He is from Peru and he speaks very fast and slurred so we didn't understand a lot of what he said and he didn't understand a lot of what we said probably. But the spirit was able to help us. We loved going over there because he was so funny all the time. We like almost couldn't stop laughing sometimes. Like he listens so intently in church and he is always catching things we didn't expect him to. Like one day he said something like, "I'd like to welcome you to this meeting. I am presiding and Hermana Whetten will be saying the opening prayer today." It was so funny! He also saw a tithing slip in those little boxes at church and so he brought one home and so at the next lesson it was just sitting there on his table and so we got to explain all about how that works. It was so cool! But what a miracle he was for us!! 
I have one more story I'd like to share. After the baptism last night we wanted to get at least one more lesson in before we came home to do some language study (since we can't fit that in Sunday mornings). We tried several people who we had thought of and we got some return appointments, but the people weren't available for a lesson right then. And I just had the idea that after we try the last one we can go run by Jose Antonio to check on how he's doing and try to get his new phone number. It didn't seem like a magnificent thought or a huge stroke of revelation, but when we got there, he was telling us about how he's been a bit depressed during the holidays because he's been feeling lonely since his family is having some problems and he recently hurt his foot and he had said a prayer that maybe we would come and not long after, we showed up. So to me it didn't seem like revelation at the time, but God knows Jose Antonio and his needs and I am just glad I was able to be an instrument in God's hand to do his work that night. I think on a mission maybe we get so used to listening to the spirit that we don't even realize when we're receiving revelation like that and when it's just us. But it is cool to know that I must be doing something right and I hope that I can continue to be worthy for little spiritual revelations like that. 
Anyway, have a fantastic new years! Go make great goals and do everything within your power to achieve the goals and let's see even more miracles in 2013!!! 
~Hermana Whetten 
1) Because of all of the Nephites... knee fights haha! 
2) cincuenta.... sin cuenta :D

Monday, December 24th

Hello!! Merry Christmas Eve!!! Isn't that so great!!?! I'm excited. I know Christmas will be different this year for me, but it'll be so good! I'm excited to be able to video chat with all of you tomorrow at around 10 give or take! But thanks for all your love and support and everything always. It means so much to me. 
Okay... so this week was...weird haha. It was just not a normal week at all. Last Monday was a preparation day which was lazy since we weren't feeling the greatest. On Tuesday Hermana Mulliner was stomach sick still and so we stayed inside all day long (I actually got pretty far on my Plan of Salvation/Gospel of Christ board game haha! On Wednesday we went to the temple. On Thursday we had weekly planning. On Friday we had exchanges. On Saturday we had an exchange within an exchange (our cool little Inception moment haha!) and a branch party for the Spanish YSA branch. On Sunday we had church and Hermana Mulliner still wasn't feeling that great (we're not sure we trust the food at ward party events anymore). Today is Christmas Eve and preparation day ends at 6 and we're going to eat dinner at Alba's house but it is a rule we have to be back in the apartment by 7 because it is Christmas Eve and they want us to be safe (we're supposed to do a deep clean, but our apartment is really clean, so we're going to do normal cleaning and then when we're done we'll play games or listen to our Christmas music or watch some of the church DVDs we have or something like that). Then tomorrow is Christmas and we're going to talk with our families. We're not allowed to do some parts of missionary work like finding and knocking doors and stuff, but we are planning on doing work with less actives or recent converts or people like that. Thus, our number of normal lessons has been very weird this week definitely!! 
About the temple first of all, it was so great!!! The Los Angeles Temple is so beautiful and HUGE too. It is also one of the temples where there are different rooms for every step and all the rooms were hand painted. It was good because it keeps you actively engaged the whole time and helps me mentally distinguish all the different steps. I loved that the Creation room had stars on the ceiling that twinkled! It was so pretty. It made me laugh that the Telestial room was basically painted up like New Mexico. I was like, "that's okay, I still love New Mexico!" One thing that I realized this temple trip was that the endowment process is all about missionary work! Think about it... there are people out there who are looking for the true messengers from God to help them know what they have to do to return back to Heavenly Father. That is what we can bring to them! But I just loved going and I feel this newly renewed connection with Heavenly Father; the huge love he has for me and that the work I have done is acceptable in his eyes. I feel like I've renewed my commitment to go forward with my mission doing my very best to live up to everything! 
On the way home from the temple, Hermana Espinoza decided to take us the scenic route so that we could get to know California a little bit. So we drove through Beverly Hills (those houses are unbelievably nice). We weren't near it, but at a distance we saw the Hollywood sign up on the hill. We drove through Bel Air. We drove through the mountains surrounding the San Fernando Valley so we got to see the whole valley from above. It was crazy cool and now I can say I've been in those places!! 
With the Elders they go on exchanges with the district leader at least once a transfer and the district leaders exchange with the zone leaders and the zone leaders with the assistants to the president. They do exchanges to help you get more experience with different companions and different areas and you can also get trained to make sure you are doing all the little daily things the Preach My Gospel way. But since President Hall's come in, I'd never been on a sister exchange. But President Hall figured out how he'd like to conduct those and so this transfers those were started up. He has a set of sisters who are basically in charge of all the exchanges for all the Spanish sisters and a set for all the English sisters and so we just exchange with them. So last Friday was our first exchange and it ended up that Hermana Zepeda came here and Hermana Mulliner went to North Hollywood. I was so excited to get to spend that time with Hermana Zepeda because she is so great. She has these powerful stories that she'd tell me about her conversion story and the things that are still hard for her even to this day and everything like that. It was great to be able to bring her to several of the big investigators so they could hear her testify so powerfully about that. 
On Saturday we had our little exchange within an exchange because Hermana Fish got a urinary tract infection but they had some important lessons that morning. So I got to go to the urgent care with Hermana Fish and Hermana Zepeda went on an exchange with Hermana Vila for the lessons. It was fun and all, but it made me laugh how the exchange didn't really end up going as planned. 
Antonio is right on track to get baptized next week and so we are so excited for him! Once again, it has all seemed too easy, but we feel like he's made all the changes. He loves going to church and he loves the missionaries and members. He keeps all of his commitments and he is so great! He has met with missionaries in the past evidently and at this point in time he is just so prepared. We love meeting with him too because he will just laugh and joke with us about the silly situations that happen like how he lives in a teeny house he is renting behind the house and so we always bring chairs since he only has 3 chairs and we have to bring members with us to all the lessons. He is just so great! 
I have to tell you about the silly situation last night at dinner. There is this Hermana in our ward who has such a beautiful and strong testimony. She is one of those super strong examples that everyone in the ward looks up to and she is just such a great speaker and teacher. It is interesting being in this calling as a missionary, though, because everyone just opens up and tells you everything that's ever happened in their lives. And so she opened up and has had a hard life and she is going through such a hard time right now. It's especially hard because they have a daughter on a mission and right around the time that she left the dad went inactive. But when people tell us stories about their life like that we just feel such a great Christ like love for them. But after talking to her for a while we had a lesson with the two youngest sons and I'm not sure why, but after the lesson they just started bringing us all these random things to give us. Like they gave us each an apple. They gave us each a chocolate coin or two. We each got 7 random coins (they counted them out). I got a broken music box that belongs to their sister on a mission. Then the youngest one came up to Hermana Mulliner and was like, "do you get itchy sometimes?" She was like, "no" but he proceeded to give her his itch cream. We were laughing so hard. We tried to sneakily leave the presents at their house, but the mom was like, "you'd better take your presents, they gave them to you!" HAHA!! I'm still laughing about it while writing this. Some situations like that on the mission that happen to us are so great. Like we couldn't have made up stuff like that.

Anyway, I'm excited to get to talk to you tomorrow. I hope you all have the best Christmas ever and try to remember the true meaning of Christmas and what gift you want to give Christ this year! 
~Hermana Whetten 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Okay, another has week come and gone extremely quickly. Let's see... first of all, for the Christmas video call via gchat, a family said we can come to their house around 9am California time mas o menos. I think Hermana Mulliner is going to go first, so that means that I will probably be available somewhere around 9:40-10is possibly assuming there are no technical or other difficulties at the member's house. I know you are in a different time zone, but I'm never sure how to figure that out so I'll let you do the math.

Just to let you know, I did receive the package. Thanks a ton! We love the pillowcases that said to open early! Did you make them? They are so beautiful!! Thanks!!! 
Now for this week... whew. What a week! We were so crazy busy the whole time that it just flew by. Each mission president has the opportunity to establish what are called standards of excellence for the mission, which is kind of like a recipe so you can try to spread your efforts out in the correct proportions. So those established for our mission right now are that each companionship has 1 baptism per month, always has 3 baptismal dates for the future, has 5 investigators at church each week, has 8 lessons with members each week, and 4 new investigators each week. It is hard to set huge goals like that for the rest of forever when you're not sure how you can make it work out, but we decided that our area is doing so well, so we were going to try our very hardest to meet all of the standards of excellence for at least one week. We were so close too!! We made or exceeded every single one of them except that of having 5 investigators at church. We had 4. That is definitely the hardest one to have happen because it feels like it has nothing to do with our choice. The hard part too was that we had several other people who could have or should have come as well and then we couldn't even get a hold of them this week. It was sad. But I guess that means we'll have to keep working to make all of the standards of excellence another week! It may not be this week, but it'll happen sometime!! I can't remember if I mentioned it already or not, but this Wednesday is our huge temple trip, so I get to go to the LA Temple for the very first time!! I am extremely excited!! It will be so wonderful! I've seen pictures and heard stories and evidently it is HUGE, but it will be so great to be able to go to a temple again finally! 
Some stories from this week... we have an investigator named Antonio who we've only taught around 4 lessons to thus far, but he is a person who it seems like has been so prepared for the gospel in his life. He has come to church twice already and he likes it. We had a ward Christmas/end of the year dinner and dance and he had a blast. He really likes it all. It's funny because it seems like it is too easy. Like he keeps all of the commitments we leave with him and he really likes it all. If everything continues to go as planned, he should be baptized by the end of the year which will have been a little over a month of having known him. 
We did meet a really interesting new investigator this week. He was referred to us by some elders in a different area who ran into him on a sidewalk. He has had a really hard life. On our first visit with him, he straight up started talking about how his life is so bad and how he has been into drugs for around 35 years but he is tired of it and he doesn't have a job and is almost out on the streets and doesn't have any food in his house. On our second visit we brought Hermano and Hermana Escober. That was Alba's first time being out to help teach with the missionaries since she got baptized a few weeks ago. She was so great!! She bore such a strong testimony and if nothing else, I was glad I was there to hear that!! That was so beautiful to witness! But it was perfect because Hermano Escobar is in charge of the addiction recovery program here, so he was able to invite him to that. Then on Sunday he also received permission from the Bishop to get some food to him to help him out this week. The very sad part is that he was going to go to church and we even had a member set up to take him, but all of Sunday morning he never answered his phone. In fact, he still hasn't answered since. It almost feels like he was scared away somehow. We have no idea what happened to him between Saturday and now. I hope he didn't get scared away somehow. We were helping him out so much. He even said that he needed to learn more about God. And that he recognized that he'd be dumb if he didn't take opportunities like this that God is giving him while he had the chance. He told the analogy of a person who was drowning and three times people came to him to throw him a rope or floatation device etc and three times he refused it saying that God will save him. So when he died and went before God and asked why God didn't save him, God told him that 3 times he sent people to him to help him. He told us that story and he definitely is that person drowning right now. I hope that sometime this week he'll accept the help God is giving him at this point in his life! 
But anyway, this was such a good week. The date 12-12-12 came and passed. Halfway through weekly planning we took a break to get smoothies at a nearby shop just around the corner which was really fun. We've been coming home each night so tired because we've been working so hard but it is great. We had a comp study with the zone leaders one day and Zone Training Meeting another day this week and between the two of them, I received more ideas of how I can do things more efficiently and how it is possible to achieve the standards of excellence. We went to the ward Christmas party thing on Saturday and I think something in some of the food was bad because at least 4 out of the 6 of us missionaries in the Reseda ward got sick between yesterday and today. Elder Jossie got the worst of it and had to go to the hospital on Saturday night. I was sick mainly on Sunday morning but we did come home early that night and I just went to sleep and slept for like 12 hours straight and am pretty much better now. Hermana Mulliner didn't get sick until this morning and so she took her turn sleeping for several hours this morning. Crazy stuff, but hopefully we'll all be completely better within the next few days. I say that that's not too bad for me, though because this is the first time I've been sick since I got a cold at the MTC clear back in June. 
Besides, that, as a quick Christmas thought, I'd like to encourage you all to think of something you can give to Christ during this season and for this coming year. He's given us so much, so we can all give him a little bit in return. 
Anyway, have a great week and then I'll talk to you next week! (That is so crazy. It doesn't feel like Christmas to me at all. Like the weather is cold, but a lot of the trees still have leaves or are just starting to change color. It doesn't snow here at all in the valley etc. So it doesn't really feel even like December nonetheless Christmas. Plus we are so busy all the time that time is just flying by all of a sudden it is already the 17th of December. How crazy!!) 
~Hermana Whetten