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