Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do I really get to go out and be a missionary?!

It's been another great week! Our little group is slowly growing. We've found a number of really good investigators this week. We have a baptism this Friday. Hopefully you'll get the SD card soon. I might wait until after the baptism to send it.

We were out trying to find our people but no one was home. It was getting dark and we both started feeling really weird and scared. Finally we just went home because we were both freaked out. Nothing happened but the streets were empty and it was Friday night. So who knows what may have happened but as soon as we were home we both felt better.

Hermana Anderson is the exchange sister so we go to the Zone Leadership meetings Sunday nights. I love it. It’s a chance to see how our zone and district leaders work and how much they love us and worry about us. It’s made me appreciate the work they do better. It’s also made me want to be a better missionary.

Yesterday in church we had a native speaker give a talk. Its’ the first one! Usually it’s just us and people from around the stake that speak Spanish. He was so nervous but he did so well! It was great to see one small miracle for our group growing. He’s an amazing guy. From what Hermana Anderson tells me he's made quite a change in his life since coming back in contact with the missionaries. Oh! Another thing about him! On Monday he was able to go with the elders to an appointment. (He speaks English fluently.) He’s still talking about it! We got to talk with him the next day and his eyes were still glistening. When we called him to see if he had time to go with the elders his response was, '"They would let me go with them?!" He continued by asking what he should wear and what they would want him to do. He told us how he has always dreamt of being a missionary but never got the chance to be. In his words, "I always wanted to be a missionary and yesterday I got to be one!" We made some reference to it being like Christmas and he said, "It's better than Christmas!"

It made us think how much we’re excited to be missionaries. Am I that excited each day to go out and teach people about the gospel? To help them come unto Christ? Do I react as him and say, "Do I really get to go out and be a missionary?! Will Heavenly Father allow me to be his servant?" We've changed since that day. We’re more energetic and excited to serve, to find, to teach, and to love these precious children of God. We’ve made so many goals and are becoming better missionaries. We’re overcoming fears and finding joy in the journey. We see miracles every day. I can't remember them all right now, but it's amazing! They’re there. Just open your eyes and see them!

So today we're celebrating Elder Spendlove's birthday by going to Fenton's, the ice cream place in the movie UP. How cool is that?! I am very excited! I’ll take pictures for you!

I forgot to write down everything that happened this week as it came so I’ll do better about it next week. I’ll probably think of something in 15 min. so you'll get another card!
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Mom & Dad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hermana Whitney

over and out

"Wish Fairies?"

The bishop and wife's youngest son is serving a mission in Washington I think. So it's just them and the two of us missionaries in the house. They’re a fun couple! Today is his birthday.

I don’t miss the new mattress because the bed I have here is good. I’ve slept so well this past week. Our bedtime and rising routine has been perfect except for one night. Yeah! I feel so good!

We don't have enough members for a Branch yet. In fact all our members are less active and most deal with addictions. We’re working on getting an Addiction Recovery Program started. It’s a long process. Hermana Anderson has been trying for months. This is her first area. Last transfer she had an English missionary so she’s been doing all the teaching by herself. We’re working on teaching together. It’s so much fun! We’ve laughed hard every day!

Our teaching pool is pretty big considering they didn't have very many people just a few months ago. When Hna Anderson first got here they had 2 people at church. Yesterday we had 4. Last week there were 8! The people we are teaching are great. We have a baptism scheduled for Saturday. Yeah!

Herman Anderson is from Chicago. She’s just a transfer older than me. We actually met in the MTC. When I came in we met in the hall in passing and talked for maybe 10 seconds. She’s' amazing! I've learned so much from her already! It’s been the best week of my mission.

I’m still an online missionary. I wish you could see my Facebook page. It’s easier to update that then my blog. I’m working on an entry though. I need to get into a routine. That and figure out what to write about. I think I’ll have a lot of miracles to report on this transfer. Both Hna Anderson and I feel that something great is going to happen this transfer! It’s been such an amazing week. The Spirit has abounded and I feel I’ve grown more in the past week than I have in the past three months.
Which reminds me... tomorrow is my 5 month mark. How did that happen? This transfer I’ll complete 6 months. Which means I’m 1/3 done with my mission. Crazy! It goes so quickly!

Our house is a mile from the Stake Center, our chapel. We meet with the 5th Ward at 11:00 am. We go to church with the 5th Ward and then right after Relief Society we have Sacrament meeting with the Spanish group. I gave a talk this Sunday. I was informed an hour before. I followed the Spirit and talked about Alma 5; keeping our testimonies burning bright and sharing it with others.

Our group leaders are amazing. They are brethren that served Spanish missions and they are so willing to help. Throughout the week they'll go visit the less actives and our investigators. Amazing! The ward and stake are so willing to help, too. This zone of missionaries is pretty tight. We’re like a little family. Well, there are about 14 of us. So I guess not that small.
Last night we had a special fireside with the Stake Presidency and just the missionaries.

On Friday I got to work with Hna Clayton!! Hna A and two other sisters had to go to Santa Rosa for leadership training so I got to work in Napa with Hna Clayton! She’s doing so well! We also had a new missionary as of last week from Japan with us. She’s really cute and we had fun as a trio for a day.

So one lady we talked to asked if I was from France. I was kind of confused, but she explained that I sounded like I was from France. Han A said that she has thought that a couple times, too. So I guess I have a French accent when I speak Spanish!!! Now every time I speak Spanish I ask Han A if I sounded French. I haven’t sounded French since that day so I’m not sure what it is that I say that sounds French! Hna A said my talk was really good and I didn’t sound French, so I don’t know. I wish I could hear myself speak Spanish with a French accent. I’m sure it would be funny!

We eat dinner with the 5th ward elders and their member. It's a big change from eating with Latinos. It was very strange at first. But I’m enjoying it much better now. It’s nice to have familiar food. The members are so good. I’m enjoying getting to know them. It was also nice to hear church in English. I almost cried when I heard the sacrament prayers in English. It’s nice/cool to hear and understand things in another language, but it's something different entirely to hear it in your own language. It means so much more.

We do laundry at the Monson's (bishop. I know! so cool!). E-mail is at a library. So hopefully the Internet works better/faster.

The other day we were walking down the street and a boy about 10 years old asked if we were girl scouts. We told him we were missionaries. He must have miss understood because he said. "Wish Fairies?" It was so funny! I’m still laughing about it!

I think the zone is going on a hike. The elders want to try and catch the mountain lion that was running around Browns Valley this past week. Just kidding! We also might play tennis. I don’t now how many racquets there are though. We’ll see. But it's beautiful and sunny, so hopefully something outside.

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Have fun playing MagBlast with the elders. And have fun with school this week. I’m so happy to hear all is going well. I’m happy your FHE’s are working out to be more meaningful. That’s what I’ve been working on too. Making my studies more effective and meaningful.

LOVE YOU FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Hermana Whitney Stephenson

over and out :(

Thursday, October 13, 2011

continually amazed at the giving nature of the Spanish people

I'm being transferred to Vacaville. Hermana Anderson will be my companion. It’s about 1 1/2-hour drive. I'm excited even though it's raining! We are meeting at the Stake Center here at 12:45 (in 1 1/2 hr). I believe it's just a Spanish group, not even a branch in Vacaville. I’m not sure though. From the looks of it we cover a big city. The entire city of Vacaville. It’s going to be fun!

I met Hermana Anderson Saturday at a Relief Society Conference in Vacaville. Saturday was amazing! I don't know if I’ll have enough time to explain the whole day! The conference was amazing because Julie B. Beck came!!! [General Relief Society President] President Bunker gave us permission to go if we found a ride. So we rode with Sister Bunker! And afterward "President treated us to lunch" :), there were eight of us. It was so fun. But the conference was amazing! I have a few pages of notes. She talked about Daughters in My Kingdom and how it's our Title of Liberty for the Relief Society. She also let some sisters ask questions and then she answered them in her talk. She also knows Spanish and Italian. Pretty cool! One of the sister missionaries described her as the Elder Holland of the sisters. She’s bold and straightforward. She’s also funny, her husband is too. It was an amazing conference.

I also saw the Garrett’s!!!!! And Hermana Clayton. Hermana Clayton is not in my Zone but we'll be closer than before! It was so very good to see her. I almost ran across the room to hug her. I had to control myself and not shout her name in the chapel.

We had our last district meeting on Tuesday. We had a great district! We took pictures after and there are some very funny ones! We had a crazy group of elders! But they're great!!

I also went on another exchange. This time I was in Windsor with Hermana Robinson. She came out with me. We had a good day. We found a few people and had a couple doors closed in our faces as we were tracting! It was hard not to laugh out loud when it happened. There were some houses that we walked away laughing but trying to stay composed and dignified. As missionaries we do some pretty awkward things. Like asking random people how their faith in Christ had helped them. We also do some weird things. Like go over to people’s houses for dinners every night. Who else does that?! Where else in the world would people be fed every night by people they hardly know? I guess wherever missionaries are is where it happens but it doesn't happen in any other group or corporation that I know of. I guess the life of a missionary is just awkward and weird.

I hope Dad feels better soon. I’m excited to hear about G's eagle project. What else have you been doing? A night with the Witham’s sounds great!
I attached a photo of me and Sister Garrett. It’s not the best but it's of the two of us. I wish I could go apple picking! That sounds so fun! Our p-days usually consist of errands and writing letters. I’m not sure what I’ll do in Vacaville but I hope it’s fun!

Yesterday all the members said their goodbyes. It was kind of surreal because I’ve seen so many missionaries do the same at home. And now that I’m in that place it was very strange. It’s a mix of emotion. I’ll miss the members and those we teach but I’m looking forward to getting to know new people and loving them, too. One member who is amazing and has the biggest heart, she's very giving and loves without thought; she said she had something for me in her car. I thought maybe something small or just a note. Nope, she had me go through two boxes of bags and pick one. I quickly brought the choice down to two but couldn't decide. I asked for an opinion and decided on one. Then with preamble she just put the other one on my arm. I tried to give it back but she wouldn't have it. I’m continually amazed at the giving nature of the Spanish people. They give so freely and willingly. I’m trying to better develop that talent. [And yes, Dad, I have two more bags. I’m still the bag lady :)]

Have a great week and reach new heights.
I love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, you all forever and always,
Hermana Stephenson

Over and out!

Monday, October 3, 2011

We really enjoy serving.

Yesterday it was about 70 degrees and today it's raining. So I think the rainy season has started. Which means I’ll most likely be wet until the next General Conference. Or longer. Oh well, I have my raincoat and umbrella!

I watched the first session of conference in Spanish. I understood maybe half of what was said. But the others I watched in English. A cool fact though is that Elder Scott translated his own talk!!! How cool is that?! We listened to last conference in the car to get us prepared and excited for the weekend. I found I really enjoyed it. Sister Dalton’s talk was great!!!! Hers was one of my favorites. I also liked President Monson's when he said, “Hello”. So funny!!! We were all laughing pretty hard!

Well, this transfer ends on Monday. We get transfer calls Saturday. Hna C has been teasing me that I’ll train the new missionary coming in. We're getting a native Spanish sister and she thinks I'll be training her. I’m just not going to think about it.

I don't remember if I told you or not but Hna C is the Exchange Sister, so that’s why we go on so many exchanges. This week I was with Hermana Rupp in Rohnert Park Spanish. We had a good time and tracted an apartment complex that ended up having one Spanish person and the rest were English. Oh well. Who better than to tract the bilingual places than us?

On Thursday we got new mattresses!!!! Yay!! It of course is not my memory foam one from home but it's nicer than the one before. Elder and Sister Murray came by with them that afternoon. They asked if we liked hard or soft better. I told them I had a memory foam one at home. Elder Murray’s comment was, "well you're not at home." I laughed and explained that I don't know which one I prefer because I’m used to the memory foam. It was kind of funny.

We had conference at the Stake Center so almost all of the missionaries in the Zone were there. It was fun watching conference with all the missionaries. I’m glad we're all so close and see each other often. It helps us be more united and it lifts us up. We have some good times!

We helped a member of another ward move on Friday. At one point there were 14 missionaries there packing boxes, moving boxes, hauling furniture, moving a baby grand piano (don't worry. There are a couple piano players amongst us and they know how to handle a piano.) Our service project lasted from 10 to 4 and they were still going when we left. We had appointments to get to otherwise we probably would have stayed longer. Service is given just when needed. We usually will get a Zone wide message and do our best to help out. We really enjoy serving.

I love using calendars and stickers! We make calendars for our investigators, recent converts, less-actives to help them get in the habit of reading scriptures every day. It works most of the time!

I hope Dad feels better soon. And that you can go swimming once more!! How fun that you went in between sessions! I ate a meal provided by a sister in the Stake. She fed us both sat and sun. It was very nice and delicious! I enjoyed knowing that on the other side of the country you were all watching the same thing as me and doing the same thing. I imagined you all snuggled on the couches and chairs with snacks and the smells of dinner wafting from the kitchen. I hope we can continue to keep that tradition. Maybe conference weekend can be when we have family reunions!

I’m so jealous that you're watching football!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saw part of some game and had to hold in my desire to sit down and watch. AGH!!!! I miss watching football with you all! Weird I know coming from me, but I love football!

I don't do a ton of cooking but when I get the chance I sometimes go crazy. I love it. I’m a little afraid I might forget how to cook. I’m always asking if I can help.

I love you all!! I love hearing from you!
All my love forever and always!
Your Whitney Bunny / WB (thank you N for the abbreviation:)