Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

Oh wow. It feels like everyone in the world is moving on so fast with their lives this week! Ryan is engaged, other friends I'm finding out are pregnant right now. Crazy crazy!! Not only that, though, the work is moving on so fast as well. This is a section we got from a recent Weekly Letter of the President about a Mission President training they had recently attended with all of the other California mission presidents (and one from Hawaii) to be trained and taught. Elder L. Tom Perry was presiding and was accompanied by Elder Richard J. Maynes (our area supervisor) and his assistants, and Elder Marcos Aidukaitis and Elder Gregory Schwitzer. They said that:
Elder Perry was very clear that we as a Church have entered a new era. There has never before, in the history of the world, been anything like it. He says he daily thanks the Lord that he has one more day to see this all unfold. He talked a bit about how the revelation to lower the mission age came to be. The Twelve had approached the First Presidency with the recommendation that the age of Elders be lowered. The First Presidency kept it under advisement for a year before putting it on the agenda for discussion in their weekly Temple meeting with the apostles. The original suggestion to lower the age was for Elders, the First Presidency surprised the Twelve with lowering the age for Sisters, also. Elder Perry testified of the direct revelation to the Prophet on that matter.

Elder Perry repeatedly stated that we are in a new time. That things are different now and that we are privileged to be a part of it. One Mission President who will be released in July, commented how he would give anything he owned to be able to stay two more years. But thanks to the Elders and Sisters who have come before, we have the strength and foundation to enter this new era. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants.
President Hall also said: At this point it looks like we will be receiving 20 new missionaries next week and at least 30 new missionaries in June. That’s 50 new missionaries in the next two months – about 25% of our current mission size! And it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
It is so cool to be a missionary! I know that I was called by a prophet of God and that I was meant to be out on the mission right here right now at the beginning of this huge tidal wave of missionary work in the world. These are the last days. We don't know how much time we have, but we do know that we are getting so close to the end. I can see that the good are getting better and the bad are getting worse. The canyon is dividing and soon it will become very clear whose side everyone is on because there will be no more fence to sit on. You can't straddle the Grand Canyon. I know that the forces for good will prevail and I am excited to be on the Lord's side for all of my life, to always be an instrument.
I can feel a hastening in the work. The miracles we've seen this week have been largely in the people we've been meeting. We've been knocked into a person who, for instance, has a sister who was a missionary and was sealed in the temple, someone who was taught by missionaries like 15 years ago, someone who told Bible studies twice a week but who said he was interested in having a copy of the Book of Mormon. One man stopped us and talked to us because he noticed the word "Jesucristo" on our nametag. There was another day where we had eaten dinner at the church and then ended up with about 30 minutes extra before we had to be back to the church to teach the ward Preach My Gospel class. So we drove about a block and a half away from the church, parked, prayed, and got out. The house where we parked at had a guy out front watering his lawn, so we walked up to him, taught him a lesson, gave him a commitment to read the Book of Mormon and pray, we prayed with him, got back in the car, and drove back to the church. It has been so crazy because this week it literally has felt like everywhere we've happened to be, we ended up being there for a much bigger reason to find someone specific. Usually it has happened by deciding to knock one or two more doors or work those extra few minutes in between things. And so many crazy and miraculous people have been found by all of this that it really feels like no matter where we are, we are there on the Lord's errand. And that is probably the most amazing feeling ever.
I know that I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I know who I serve and I know why I'm here. Sure, the days are long. Each has its own unique trials and miracles. We've had amazing opportunities to really feel like a part of the community (like this past Saturday we participated in a Mormon Helping Hands cleanup of the Los Angeles River) and to love the people and we had a great stake conference yesterday. But I have been learning how precious time is to the Lord and how it is to me and I want to use every second I have to the best I can all of my life.

Anyway, it has been wonderful to hear from all of you. I love you all and wish for the absolute best. Keep doing amazing things! Y tenge el espiritu consigo siempre!
Hermana Whetten

Monday, April 22, 2013

Another fantastic week!
The coolest part about this week was that we had zone conference with President Hall coming down. One really neat announcement we received is that evidently with so many more sisters going on missions, they are dissolving "zone leader training," creating certain official sister leadership positions (like an exchange sister type thing), and doing a "mission leadership counsel" instead of the zone leader trainings. It is so great because sisters will have even more of a voice and will be able to have more training as leaders as well.
One of the big things that we talked about is about power and authority. We have the authority, but having His power as we're teaching is the part that both takes work and is also necessary. If we don't have his power, we are not teaching in his manner which means it isn't his work which means you're not his servant which means you're someone else's servant. On the other hand, As we have his authority, pray for his power, are worthy, and have his spirit, we will receive his power and therefore teach in his manner, it will be his work, and we will be his servants. The thing is this is the power of God we're talking about. It is the power that creates the world, the universe, and life. If it can do that, it surely can touch the hearts of humankind- his own precious creation- and they can become converted.
Another thing I learned is that I want to come to learn to observe things and not just see them. As an example, I want to come to observe things like Richard G. Scott observes the scriptures. At the last two general conferences, he has chosen a New Testament story and expounded on it in ways I'd never though of or related to before. He really observes the scriptures. President Hall gave a quote from Sherlock Holmes where Watson was wondering why he couldn't come to the same conclusions as Holmes and Holmes said it is because you see but you do not observe. He said that Watson must have come up the same set of stairs hundreds of times, but Watson couldn't answer how many steps there were on the stairs. As we not only read, but observe the scriptures, they take on a whole new meaning and it becomes precious to us.
Another thing we did this week is quite a bit of finding (and coming home exhausted ha ha-- It's starting to get hot again here and the sun really takes it out of you!) and we've found some good new potentials which is so exciting! A big miracle of this week is that Gabby finally came to church this week (she's been recommitting each week for weeks) and she brought her two sons and even their very catholic grandma. It was so neat. Oh yeah, my talk went well on Sunday. It was really cool sharing the story "The Lord's Richest Blessings" by Carl B. Pratt from General Conference of April 2011 ( which tells an amazing tithing story about my paternal great grandparents. It was really cool because the majority of the people in this ward are from Mexico and one Hermana even came up to me afterward and was talking about how she served her mission in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico. It was really neat to be able to share it. That's the third talk I've given in Spanish out in the field and it isn't even a big deal nowadays to talk for the 20 or so minutes straight in Spanish. 
A few more things I'd like to share...I really liked one analogy that was shared at church that was special. It talked about how when you are growing a tree and it starts to grow crooked, you hook up anchors and hook up ties to it so that it can have supports and be able to grow straight again. That is like the church. They took the analogy a little bit further and said that if you've been growing crooked for 20 or 30 or more years, it may take a lot more time and effort to correct the tree, but it is never too late. I just thought that analogy was really special because sometimes it seems like after a certain point it isn't worth the work anymore. But God didn't give up on us, so we shouldn't give up on others either ever!!
Also, I was reading through the general conference talks of last conference and I really liked one of them and I know Britt is preparing for her trek, so she might like it. It is "Wide Awake to Our Duties" ( during the Relief Society session. I just loved the thought of her wishing she had been physically stronger such that she would have been able to run back down the hill and help the next handcart come up the hill but she didn't have anything left in her. She said she never wants to let her sisters down spiritually. I just loved that and I want to become that type of person that I have very strong spiritual muscles such that I can keep on running down the hill and helping someone else push their load up. That's my goal for my life. I love the scripture used "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left and my spirit will be in your hearts, and my angels round about you to bear you up." I know that maybe there are real angels helping people out, but I've decided I want to voluntarily be that angel for others all throughout the rest of my life!! 
Anyway, that's about all for this week. Have a wonderful week y tenga el espiritu consigo siempre!!!
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

I LOVE being a trainer! Of course, it has its own unique challenges, but overall it is so great! My favorite quote from Hermana Hardy this week was, "We've been praying to be sent mountains to climb. I didn't expect that those mountains would be mountains of miracles!"
This week truly has been miraculous. But more than, that I think my favorite thing about this past week is that I am actually feeling more about what I always thought a missionary should feel like than ever before in my life and I love it. I swear, I've been working hard my whole mission, but something is different. Something powerful. Something that makes my soul want to connect with the souls of those I meet to help them feel what I'm feeling. We're loving more. We're testifying more boldly and with more power and conviction that we know the thing we're teaching are true. We're seeing the people more. I can't pinpoint exactly what the change is, but let me share a few examples.
I remember when I first went through the temple. The temples have always been my anchor in this gospel and ever since I was just able to attend the dedication of my temple in Albuquerque because I had just turned 8, I wanted to go inside. Probably from that time until I turned 12 every fast Sunday I would go up to the stand to bear my testimony and I think I always included how excited I was to be turning 12 and to get to go to the temple. I loved attending the temple often. Like you know, the same night that I received my mission call, I had the interview with my bishop and stake president to be able to go through the temple and I did that on the following Saturday, 2 days later. I love the temple and it has always been the biggest testimony and evidence for me that this church is true. It just makes it all make sense. Anyway, I remember when I went through the temple that Saturday, I came out and after having felt so spiritually close to God, and coming out into the world it was such a huge contrast for me. I particularly remember someone smoking in a car adjacent to ours. I was thinking "how can you smoke?! Why don't you get it... after what I just saw, how can anyone have any desire to sin?!" God gave me eyes to see people a little more like he sees them with love but concern. This week I found myself being able to see people with those kind of eyes again. We had goals to actually talk to the 140 people (the 10 per person daily). We set aside 140 pass along cards so we'd be able to measure our progess. And at the beginning it was hard and probably took like 3-4 hours straight of knocking and trying to go where the people were before we got through our 20 conversations started. Sometimes it was awkward and I felt like I was blubbering out something about faith in Christ or something. But the more we did it, the more I began to see the people. I used to like park the car and go straight into dinner appointments so I wouldn't be late, for instance. Now we are developing those habits of stopping and trying to start up conversations with absolutely everyone who we possibly can in any situation we are in. I have felt myself begin to love them and actually see them more. I feel like I am being blessed again to have that vision of the people like after the first time I went through the temple. I actually feel like a missionary and I want to teach the joyous news that we have with absolutely everyone. I believe that being a trainer is the thing that brought me there because I am trying to be an example of that amazing missionary who focuses completely on really trying to live Preach My Gospel so that she can become the missionary who is just like that naturally.
The Lord has been blessing us so much as we've been going through trying to better love and be better and more boldly testify of what we know to be true. One of the coolest miracles is that 5 out of the 8 new investigators we were able to find this week are a family that we found because Hermana Hardy has a tiny bladder and needed to use the bathroom so bad she was willing to knock doors to ask them if she could go inside to use the bathroom. The family that let us in has been to like 2 or 3 temples (like Salt Lake City, Oakland, and maybe the Los Angeles) and has talked with missionaries there. It was a beautiful family and they were curious about what we have to share. The Lord works in mysterious ways and I really believe he lead us to them even though the means was really funny. 
But the Lord is blessing us so much with perfect timing with some people, with the spirit being powerfully present in other lessons, and in guiding us and giving us revelation. 
I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary and a trainer! I am excited to keep on building my faith so that in one way or another this coming week will be even better than the last! 
Que tenga el espiritu consigo siempre!! 
~Hermana Whetten

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wasn't general conference so great?! I love being a missionary. I thought of all of you returned, dad, Shaun, Ryan, etc when they said to find your old missionary nametags (and not wear them!) but put them somewhere so you can always be reminded of what that means to you. Do you all still have yours? I'd be curious where you decide to put them to help you see them often!

Well this week was a bit crazy in that it felt like we were in the apartment studying all day every day. On Tuesday we had an all day long training for new missionaries and trainers in Santa Clarita. Then on Wednesday we had to take the car up to Santa Clarita so it could go into the body shop. That took up most of the morning so we had to come back and make up studies. (so we have a new car for the week. now thus far on the mission I've driven a 2012 Chevy Cruz, 2010 Pontiac Vibe, and 2011 Toyoto Corola... pretty sure they're all better than I'll be driving for quite a while!) Then on Thursday was weekly planning, Friday was zone training meeting, and Saturday and Sunday were general conference. So basically when we weren't doing those things it felt like all we were doing was studying. We're thinking and hoping this week will be more normal and we'll get to be out of the apartment much much more. We are setting goals of each of us starting conversations with 10 people on average each day... so that is 10 people x 2 of us x 7 days = 140 conversations started. We're pretty excited because the two of us are committed to achieving the goal! If even 1-2% of that becomes a new investigator that'd be great and that is that many people we may have passed by without even a second thought.

Training is definitely going great. For some reason, I thought it would be something like filling an empty bucket with water little by little every day. It isn't like that at all. It is probably way more like taking a radio which pretty much works and then rewiring it, upgrading it, switching out some parts which aren't working out that great, etc until it looks and sounds more exciting and fantastic or something like that. She basically knows how to be a missionary, but I have some work to do both to help her with Spanish skills and with helping her teach more simply and powerfully. It is going really well though and she is super full of energy and is always so excited to go out and find more people!

Some things that I've been impressed by this week are the promises in Jacob 4:6 (even the mountains obey them), and Moses 8 I forget which verses (Noah walked with God). Those aren't just promises for people long ago. As a missionary and as members we can move mountains. Helping people overcome an addiction, as one example, may be moving a mountain for that person. As members, perhaps your mountain is enduring another day in a certain calling, or giving up pride and following the commandments more fully, or whatever the case is. Those are mountains that can be moved. As we do these things, we will feel the Lord walking with us in a very real sense and so we don't have to feel troubled or alone. He is there for us!

Anyway, that's probably most of what I have to say today. 
Tenga el espiritu consigo siempre!
~Hermana Whetten

Monday April 1st.

Let me tell you a bit about the past few weeks... 
First of all, I wanted to tell Doodle that right now we have an 11 year old investigator and her name is Penelope. When I heard that name, it immediately made me think of Doodle. Hope she enjoys that. 
Another random thing... the Friday before last our car was hit. We were driving down a clear turning lane. There were many cars lined up at the stoplight and some cars had stopped with enough room that someone who was originally heading in the other direction could cross all the lanes to turn into some of the businesses past the turning lane we were in. So they crossed all the lanes and just kept on going right into us. We didn't see them until right before we hit. It really wasn't that much damage done and we were hit on the back bumper behind the back driver's side bumper. I felt bad because our car is a 2010 Pontiac Vibe and theirs was I think something like a 2013 Chevy Volt or something like that, and they took way more damage than we did. But it wasn't our fault and no one was injured. It was kind of annoying to have to be running around doing all the paperwork and going to the body shop in Santa Clarita to get estimates of the damage, etc. But we are just really grateful no one was hurt or anything like that. 
So a little about the person I'm training. Again, her name is Hermana Hardy. She is from Meridian, Idaho I guess close to Boise. She is 21 years old. One cool thing about her is that she and her little sister, who is 19, received their mission calls on the same exact day and they were both called to enter the MTC on the same day and they were both called stateside Spanish speaking missions and my companion was called here and her sister was called to serve in the next door mission--California Ventura Mission (which coincidentally both missions are having chunks taken out of to form the new Bakersfield Mission). My first impression of her is that we would definitely be able to get along because at the end of the transfer meeting we were singing a song and she can do both Soprano and Alto but she has a really pretty voice. So I was okay with her. But then not too many minutes later I was thinking I got the reject Hermana. When we got to talking about ourselves a little bit, one of the first things she told me was that she has extreme anxiety related with food. Basically she does eat and she promised the mission president she would eat. But any time she tries new foods she gets extreme anxiety to the point of crying or even throwing up. Thus, she only eats things that she's been eating for her whole life, and very bland foods at that. She eats plain rice. Plain pastas without any type of seasoning or sauce or anything. She will eat plain veggies if they are separated (she doesn't like textures mixing or flavors). She will eat bananas. She will eat cheerios. She will eat plain potatoes. She was listing off the things she will eat and there are maybe a total of 15 things on her list. She has had salt and cinnamon (on French toast) but she can't ever remember eating any other spices even. She said that she has troubles even eating through a whole apple because it is sooo full of flavor to her. When I heard about all of that my heart sunk a little. I was like "great, why did I get the weird one?" I remember mom telling me about a weird companion who would get upset if you didn't use separate knives for peanut butter and jelly. But I figured that my current companion is infinitely more weird than that. And worse than that, we are working in Hispanic culture where when people offer you food it is like they're offering you a piece of their heart. If you reject their food it is almost like rejecting their offering of their heart. I was thinking of how am I supposed to tell the members that I'll eat (and even LOVE the Hispanic food so much) but that my companion won't even try anything. I was telling you about how just a few months ago I was receiving so much revelation and was constantly being so inspired by how cool the word of wisdom is and how food is a way that God has provided to give us such great joy. As an example, Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19 says: 
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
To me, that is how food is. It is here to "please the eye," "gladden the heart," "to strengthen the body," and even "enliven the soul." Look at those adjectives. please, gladden, strengthen, enliven. Those are beautiful and even thrilling. And I have a companion who for her whole life has in a way rejected the word of wisdom in that way... because of fear? 
So that was my first reaction. I felt like my trainee was someone who probably if she was standing in a line for sports would be chosen last every time because that is so weird. I was kind of stuck like that for a few days. I felt like I've been so lucky my whole mission because I've had only completely cool or completely normal companions. Especially my last few companions I have gotten along SO well with that the time has just been flying by. I was trying to be supportive and trying to explain it to the members that she just didn't want to eat their food etc. I was trying if nothing else than by words to say that I'm here for her and I am excited to be able to work with her, etc. But inside, I was stuck on how I literally just don't understand her. 
Then a few nights later I decided to try praying to help me know how much Heavenly Father loves her. I got the image in my mind of this like ribbon kind of acting as a blindfold and I could only peak through a teeny bit. When I peaked through I found out that I had to have that ribbon as a protection because what I saw was a bright white light that was so pure and clean and white. I had to have the covering because otherwise it would blind me. That is how much God loves her. He loves her so brilliantly and purely even despite of her weirdness, or perhaps because of it. I began to see that some of the attributes I was seeing in her like pride and defensiveness were probably because all throughout her life she's been somewhat alone and in need of good friends. She has built up a little bit of a defense mechanism to help protect herself because people often think she's weird when she tells her about her eating habits. I began to see more and more that it was actually really brave of her to go on a mission despite her extreme anxiety, to be here despite of how her personal weakness is so obvious everywhere she goes. She knew that the Lord called her to be on a mission because he needed a missionary, not because he needed someone to eat the Hispanic food. 
I was kind and courteous and trying to be as helpful and supportive as I could at the beginning, but since that prayer especially, I just decided I would try to hold inside me that pure love that Heavenly Father has for her and just love her no matter what her personal weaknesses are. I decided to take on Maria Teresa's advice of "if you just love people, you don't have any time to judge them". Since then, we have been having so much fun together. Honestly, besides her eating habit, she is one of the best people I could have received to train. She is excited to work, not afraid to make mistakes and just try Spanish (she's a beginner), she is full of great random ideas and is willing to work hard all the time to always be finding more people. She has all the theoretical knowledge that she needs to be exceptional so she just needs my help to put that knowledge into practice. I want to with our time together work hard to teach her the administration and show her the ministration. We have been having so much fun together. For instance, yesterday we had a few hours before we had to go home to study at the end of the day (there are 4 hours of study required of us each day 1)personal 2)comp 3)12 weeks 4)language) so she had the great idea of going to a park since it was Easter and the park had been advertising an Easter egg hunt that day. We were both so nervous because there were so many people at the park, but we ended up meeting a few really cool people who hopefully we can get to teaching this week. We have been blessed with so many miracles this week especially. For instance, referrals have been coming out of the woodworks. Two people have called us up on the phone asking us to visit their friends and several people at dinner appointments have been referring people they know. Those phone calls like never happen and the dinner appointment referrals are sometimes rare to actually receive one. We have been so blessed. Hermana Hardy is also super intelligent, so the last few days we've been able to get into really cool and fun discussions and we are having a great time. 
I know I was not born an especially charitable person, but I know that as I continue to work on it, the Lord will continue to help me feel increasing love for my companions and especially for the people we're teaching and finding. I know I have a lot to learn from Hermana Hardy and so these next few months will be good for me. Who knows maybe I'll eventually receive from her, an additional chapter in the future book I may write about the Word of Wisdom haha
Anyway, tenga el spiritu consigo siempre!!!
~Hermana Whetten