Thursday, December 22, 2011

So I’m the head of it and directing everyone

Mission Conference was amazing!!!

I LOVED THE PACKAGE!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited for everything. I’ll be wearing the shirt today. (Elder Brower will love it. He's a Patriot’s fan.) I love the shirt! I laughed when I opened it. I’m excited to put it on. Just imagine me giggling as I put it on and then see myself in the mirror with it on. I'm very excited!!! I found the bunny!!! I love it! I've used it during study every morning. I also slept with it last night because my head was cold. The tights are great. The socks are too! I love the puzzle/advent. I put together the part with William and Rachel's signatures on it. Pretty funny!

I'm so excited for Christmas!!!!!! It’s hard to believe that it's less than a week away! This Friday we'll be having a crèche exhibit. Our ward mission leader asked me to pull it together. So I’m the head of it and directing everyone on what to do. It should be good. The zone is excited and so are some of the relief society members from different wards. It’ll be small but we have to start somewhere. :)

Then Saturday we'll be caroling as a zone. The logistics of it haven't been worked out but it'll be fun to be sure. Then Sunday we're having a brunch with the Monsons. Church is at 11. The 4th and 5th and Spanish groups are coming. We’re doing just Sacrament meeting like you. Then dinner at 5 and an "after party" with the zone at Brother Beauchaump's house. It’ll be a lot of fun!

Be thinking of things you want to ask me and tell me on our phone call. I’ll be making a list this week of everything I want to tell you and ask you. I’m excited beyond measure to call you! I love you all. All I want is to hug you all and laugh with you as we quote the Grinch. It’s hard not to count down until 1:00 on Sunday. Which reminds me... What number should I call? Home or someone's cell? I remember the home number. Cells are little rusty.

Random fact: today it's 60 degrees. Can you believe that Dec. 19 it is 60 degrees?!!! It finally feels like October!

One more random thought: yesterday was my 7-month mark. My half way mark is just around the corner. Crazy!!! How does time slip away so quickly. I still feel most of the time that I’m just barely figuring out how to be a missionary.

Thank you for all you do!
Love forever,
Hermana Whitney

Saturday, December 17, 2011

We did have a little miracle this week.

My week started off being sick but I got over it quickly. My stomach was doing some weird things, nausea and stomachaches. The whole thing. I'm better now. Overall I’m healthy. In the blessing I got it said the Lord wants me to be aware of my body and not push to hard, to know my limits and not be afraid to take a rest if I need it. It also told me that I know what I need to do and should do it, along with following the Lord's rule of health. It was a comforting blessing.

We definitely have way too many treats from everyone! Although our favorite thing right now is homemade pomegranate jelly from the Berkheimers. It’s so good! And the Lord will take care of me. There are many nights when I don’t think I could take another bite but somehow I make it and can walk away not in agony. :) Dinners on the mission are one of a kind. There’s nothing else like it! We have so much fun!

This week was amazing! We’ve had more lessons this week than the past two combined. We didn't have any baptisms ourselves but the zone did have two on Saturday. Hermana Robinson and I have started a new thing to help us speak more Spanish. The rule is only Spanish in the car and as much as we can as we walk to and from appointments. Already it's been fun and we've had some laughs!

We did have a little miracle this week. We stopped by one of our investigators at an unscheduled time and were so grateful we did. She had just lost her job and was very distraught. She’s a single mom with two children. We comforted her the best we could and read the story of Joseph Smith in liberty jail. She was comforted and felt better. She was so grateful for our love and service. We were just grateful to be instruments in the Lord's hands.

I am so excited for mission conference!!!! Elder Brower and I will be singing. No one else in the zone wanted to sing so it’s just us. We’re singing Beautiful Savior. Not a traditional Christmas song but it will be good. The entire mission is excited about mission conference! Everyone has been practically counting down the days. I just can't believe Christmas is two weeks away!!! Hermana Robinson and I took our Christmas picture this morning just before emailing. It’s in front of the Monson's door. We’re excited to send it out.

Right now we have two baptismal dates. One is a referral from the elders in the fourth ward and the other is a former investigator that found us walking down the sidewalk. He’s excited and really wants to be clean. Right now we have 12 investigators. Which is really good. It keeps us busy.

Oh! Also, Slacks is going to the Teranzia Mission, something like that. His brother just came home from Taiwan speaking Mandarin Chinese. He gave his homecoming talk yesterday. It was cool to hear him speak in Mandarin. According to Aaron he's having a hard time remembering English. He’ll be going to BYU-I in January.

WE LOVE THE ADVENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's getting pretty big! Every day I’m excited to see what it comes out to be. As far as Christmas, I was thinking a pocket dictionary; Spanish-English of course. It would come in handy while out of the house. Also warm tights. Its getting cold and bare legs are no fun. Yesterday morning there was frost on the windshield. Thankfully the defroster works really well.

I just thought of this and I can't believe that I have less than a year left!!! This time next year I’ll be home! Crazy!!!

Well we're off to play games with the zone. It’s going to be loads of fun! We’re a pretty close zone. I hope you have a great week! I love you! And I will defiantly take pictures at mission conference!!
Forever Love,
Hermana Whitney

Monday, December 5, 2011

called by a prophet of God to teach

I’m doing great! It's been a crazy week! I wasn't in my area Wednesday to Friday. It's been so fun. Wednesday was exchanges with Sister Lewis to Cordelia. Thursday I was in Windsor with Hermana Ordonez and Sister Thomas while Hermana Robinson was at leadership conference. And then Friday we had Sisters' conference. But we've had some great lessons and some new investigators. Also the weather has been nice. One day it was 70. :) Mostly it's in the 50 or 60's with wind. No rain so far.

I can't tell you how excited I am for Mission Conference! I might be singing. I still need to see if Elder Bacon will play for me. Any suggestions as far as songs? I was thinking Stars Were Gleaming (children's songbook).

I love the advent puzzle!!!! I like the elder’s signatures and the Grinch and the bunnies! I’m so excited to see what it all looks like! You worked hard on it! I’m so impressed and pleased. Hermana Robinson and I have been loving it! The gingerbread house does have some cracks but it'll be okay.

We had an amazing lesson Friday night. We had a young man who is preparing to serve his mission in Brazil in February come with us. His name is Aaron but we call him Elder Slacks. I may have told you about him, but the story is he was wearing some nice pants one day and all the elders commented on them. So from then on he was known as Elder Slacks. He comes to all our district meetings and even some of our zone meetings. He goes out with fifth ward elders all the time. He’s started coming out with us too. We’re nested with the fifth ward so their people are our people. Anyway, the lesson on Friday night was amazing! Slacks was with us. We went in planning to teach a recent convert/less active and ended up teaching his brother. He had so many questions and the three of us worked together and answered them. We felt so unified and the spirit was pretty strong. (The lesson was in English. They're fluent in both languages.) Towards the end Slacks bore his testimony about he Book of Mormon and how he came to know the church is true. When he finished the nonmember, Silverio, said, "I want that. I want to feel that way." We explained to him how he can have that. We also used Alma 32 about letting the small seed of desire work within you until you believe. He also said all his life he's been praying and wondering which church is right. Slacks pulled out the Joseph Smith story. Still Silverio wasn't sure. I was praying the whole time that we would be able to help him and know what it is he needed to know and feel to act and read the Book of Mormon. Then the Spirit came over me and I looked him in the eye and said something to this effect, "I can promise you, Silverio, that us sitting here is your answer. We have been called by a prophet of God to teach you about the true church of God. We are here to help you come unto Christ and have your questions and concerns answered. The Book of Mormon contains the answers to all the questions you have." It was so powerful! Usually he would interrupt us with a comment or question but as I said that and a little more he was completely silent and still and never broke eye contact. The three of us, Hermaan Robinson, Elder Slacks, and myself were ecstatic afterward! We’re still so excited about it. It’s a testament to me that we are guided by the Holy Ghost and that I have been called by a prophet of God and the message I share is true. What else, besides the power of God could change a man?

Okay so about Hermana Ordonez. She speaks English really well. She’s still learning but she knows it. She’s really fun and crazy! We had such a great day. She’s a really good teacher. I tried to get out of her what she'd miss about Christmas at home. She says she loves the music and just the lights. She likes Skittles. At least she had a small bag that she shared on Thursday. She’s very friendly and outgoing. I really enjoyed spending the day with her. I don't really know what you could do for her but I’m sure anything will be nice. I did notice she was cold, so maybe a warm, classy, but fun scarf or gloves. She’s about the size of Olivia.

So Tuesday night Vacaville had Merriment on Main. It was so fun! I stood in the cold and served hot chocolate for five hours straight. My hands were freezing and cramped afterward. But it was so fun!!! We talked with so many people, we as a zone. We actually got some lesson appointments out of it. So cool! I didn't get any pictures but there wasn't much to see anyway, just a table with a cooler of hot chocolate and cards and some pamphlets with 14 missionaries milling around.

Thank you so much for all you do. I know you're busy and have much to do and yet you take time to send me things. I can't tell you how much your packages and letters mean to me. Just looking at the empty box makes me smile. Remembering what you sent me and knowing how much time, effort and love went into it. This transfer is flying by but it's wonderful! There are so many adventures each day that it's hard to write them all down. I look forward to telling you all about my adventures! No. I’m not trunky or homesick I’m just looking forward to the future with faith and joy. This life is a great life! I love the progression and learning that I am making and will make. Just remember to find joy in the journey and love every minute and yourself.
That’s something President told us at Sisters Conference; to love ourselves, to not try and be someone else, someone you're not. So off I go to be Hermana Whitney Stephenson! And I’m so happy! It’s a wonderful life!

con amor para siempre,
Hermana Whitney
over and out

We explained to her how simple a prayer is.

This week has been a little rough taking over the area, but Hermana Robinson and I are having a great time. This transfer will be filled with many opportunities to serve and be in the community. Taking over the area means I’m senior companion. I’m the one who knows the area and therefore, at least for a while, am just showing and introducing my companion to our people. So it can be stressful but Hermana Robinson has been very helpful.

Elder Spendlove and Hermana Christensen went home. It is kind of weird when I think back to when I got here, they had a good chunk of their missions to do. I can hardly believe I have a year left. Time flies and I think this transfer will go by quickly too. We have a lot going on. We have Sister’s conference this week with President and Sister Bunker. We are all so excited!!! It's going to be amazing! Mission conference is on the 15th, and then Christmas and New Years. Also, Vacaville has a Festival of Trees that we are a part of setting up and taking down and (new this year is) we participate in it while it's going on. It was started by a young woman 20 years ago. She gathered 5 trees and decorated them and auctioned them off. The profit went to the Opportunity House, which is for mostly young mothers that are destitute and other people that don’t have anything. Now there are 50 trees and they make over $150,000.00. It has expanded to selling baked goods and crafts. There’s also a dinner/gala thing one night. There’s also a "Merriment on Main" that kind of opens the festival of trees where people can go in and bid on trees. The church has a booth that we'll be helping out at tomorrow. It’s going to be loads of fun! Saturday we helped sign people and their trees in to set it all up. It seems weird to have Christmas without snow, but it's going to be great!

I just thought of this, Hermena Robinson’s mannerisms remind me of Mom. I love it! I can't imagine having any other companion for the holidays. Can you believe I get all the major holidays in one transfer?! How did I luck out?!

We actually live with the bishop of the fifth ward, Bishop and Sister Monson. We just have a room upstairs and then another one downstairs for our study room. The Monson’s have four sons. All but one is married. Their youngest is serving a Spanish-speaking mission in Kennewick, Washington. Same place as Adrian, but I don’t think they know each other. Elder Monson got there about this time last year. So it's very homey. Hermana Robinson and I were just talking about how it's so much nicer to live in a home for the holidays. It doesn’t seem as lonely or empty. It’s the best!

Thanksgiving at home sounded fun. I had three meals. Thankfully they weren't too huge so I wasn't too overly stuffed. :) We served for a couple hours at the Veteran’s home with Elder Brower and Elder Miller. We served meals and talked with people. The elders got put on coffee duty for a while. We had been looking for them and when we found them pouring coffee to people we just had to laugh! It was pretty comical to see our missionaries serving coffee! We laughed about it for a while. We ate there and then had another meal with the family that houses the sisters in the single’s ward. They’re also a part of Elder Brower and Elder Miller's ward so the six of us joined their family for a meal. Then from there we went off to a family in the fifth ward (that we're nested with) for another meal. Everything was delicious! And after that the whole zone went to the home of the high councilor over missionary work, for snacks and desserts. It was a great day! Just being with other missionaries and the members was great! That and being able to serve in some way helped me remember my blessings and what is really important.

I love to see the work progressing. You had another baptism?! Cool! I can’t wait to come home and meet all the people that got baptized.

Something I really enjoy is hearing the miracles of other missionaries. Every time we have a miracle we send out a message to the entire zone telling everyone about our miracle. It helps every one be motivated and excited about the work. It’s always fun to hear the excitement of the other missionaries and to know there are miracles happening and people are accepting baptismal dates.

We don’t have any baptismal dates right now, but we're hoping to extend a few invitations this week. We have so many people that are prepared to hear the gospel. One sister we have started teaching is amazing! I may have told you last week but it's still amazing to me, so I’ll tell you again. Her concern was that God wasn't answering her prayers because she wasn't praying right. We explained to her how simple a prayer is. There’s also another lady that her question was how can she have the Holy Ghost with her. There are people prepared to hear and accept the gospel. All we need to do is be ready to receive and act upon the impressions of the Holy Ghost to know where to go, what to say, and who to talk with.

Well, my time is up. I love you and have a great week! I hope you get more snow! :)
Hermana Whitney

they could feel the Spirit [From 21 NOV 11]

Hna Anderson got transferred, to Windsor! Where I came from! I’ve been telling her about the branch and the people she'll meet and grow to love. We said our tearful goodbyes not an hour ago. She’s become one of my best friends and will be forever.

The Monson’s are out of town this week. They’re in Guatemala, the Bishop's mission. So we have the house to our selves, which reminds me... my new companion is Hermana Robinson. She came out with me. I’m excited to work with her. I’m actually not with her right now because another sister in the zone got transferred so Hna Anderson and she drove to Santa Rosa together and I’m with the other sister. So it's kind of an exchange thing for a few hours. Basically the whole zone except one companionship got changed. It’s going to be fun!

I can't remember too much from the past week. The past transfer seems to have flown by. I keep thinking it's still September. Not that Thanksgiving is this week. So crazy!

Carlos got baptized Wednesday night! It was amazing! His wife who has not been very friendly to us in the past and was against him getting baptized was very friendly and crying. She told us, “thank you”. Everyone there could feel the Spirit. Both Carlos and his wife were crying. The 5th ward elders knowing we wouldn't have very many people show up, if any at all, called their members and asked them to attend even though they don't know Spanish. We were so surprised and touched beyond words that they would do that for us! A number of people showed up and supported us. They all said that even though they didn’t know the words that were said, they could feel the Spirit and were touched. Carlos was so grateful and happy. It was a wonderful experience!

Well the time has flown.
Thank you for the little notes. I love them the best. I treasure every little note.
Hermana Whitney