About This Blog

Elder Whitney is called to serve in the Arcadia, California mission, English speaking. He enters the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on September 4, 2013 and will serve for two years.

This blog is being maintained by his family to post general updates, pictures from Elder Whitney, and to keep his mailing information up to date. Elder Whitney would love to get letters and emails from everyone!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Update

Elder Whitney's Dr. Has determined that he has been having a series of mini seizures and that he needs an MRI.  The Mission Department has determined that the best course of action is for him to come home and receive whatever medical care he needs.   They will send him to Utah where he will most likely be staying with Brooke and McKay again.  We will update with further information as we receive it. Thank you all for your prayers and fasting in his behalf.  We feel that God has a plan and are confident that things are happening according to His will.

Thank you for all of your support for Elder Brett,
The Whitney Family

April 8, week 6 of Transfer something or other

Hey there family and friends!

This morning I got to go to the L.A. Temple for an endowment session,
which moved pday to today instead of yesterday. I had some really
wonderful experiences there, and throughout the course of my
preparations to enter the Lord's house. Most of them pertained to
Grandma Whitney and my relationship with my immediate family and
grandparents. It was truly a purifying, testimony building time for
me.
Anyways, back to what I was saying about Paris France:

Monday 3/31/14 - we had an interesting pday with the Korean elders,
who were nice enough to take us shopping. In the evening we met with
Adrian and had a real good lesson on the doctrine and covenants.

Tuesday - We were finally able to sit down with a less active member
we've been trying to work with for about as long as I've been in the
area. He's a really great guy, and has a wonderful family. He really
needs the Savior right now, so I'm happy that we could meet with him.
We tried to visit with an assortment of people in the evening that
we've been missing. Couldn't really find 'em though.

Wednesday - we did a lot of walking around the poorer end of the area
in the afternoon, but even there people just weren't outside (which is
where we find people since we don't tract here anymore). In the
evening we were able to meet with a couple of less active members who
have about as Mormon a home as you can, yet don't come to church
anymore because the ward is "not as friendly as Spanish wards are."

Thursday - Zone meeting was all about planning and how as a mission we
suck at it. But, that just means we know where the most growth can
come from for all of us right now. In the evening we watched "Joseph
Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" with Adrian and he said a really
great prayer asking for answers at the end of the lesson.

Friday - Pretty much none of our Friday plans worked out, but we did
have a really good dinner at a member's house. They're a really cool
family that has had to struggle with some pretty difficult stuff in
the recent past. I think one of their coping mechanisms was to get
very close to the missionaries, whoever they have in the ward.

Saturday/Sunday - general conference! Woohoo! I've been looking
forward to this for a long time now :) we watched all five sessions of
conference with Adrian and we got to see him overcome several hurdles.
So that was pretty cool. Equally awesome was the announcement that my
current mission president will be serving as an area authority in Utah
once his mission ends. Turns out he was in Salt Lake for conference
and he has already been set apart as a Seventy. Some of my favorite
thoughts from conference were:

There is always a price for being a true disciple of Christ.
Christ did not teach easy doctrine, no matter how hard other
Christians try to make it so.
Sustaining our leaders comes with a responsibility to share their burden.
The world will not glide calmly to the second coming of the Savior.
The heritage of hope we leave for our posterity by joining the Church
is one of the greatest reasons we have to enter into, and keep,
covenants with God.
Faith is the antidote to fear, not just the opposite.
Trials bring us face to face with our faith.
50 million people are perfectly capable of screwing up in unison.
Our family history centers are now in our homes,
Sometimes you need to forget about your rights, and fulfill your responsibility.
The Restoration is NOT complete. It is still happening right now
Pray hard and intensely. Serve secretly and humbly.
The equation for gratitude does not contain any variables pertaining
to how blessed we are, our circumstances. It is a truly independent
function of our ability to have an attitude of gratitude regardless of
our situation.
Do not make every crisis a crisis of faith.
The bottom line is that our reasons for acting without love don't
matter. None of them are good enough. Blame keeps wounds open. Only
forgiveness heals.
Much of what we know cannot be taught, but it can be learned.
Concerning Joseph Smith: In his haste to know he is not hasty. He
prepares to talk to God.
If you are seeking truth, look for the cloud of dust marking the
struggle of evil to defy and cover truth.
The resurrection of Christ is the fundamental principle of truth. All
other things pertaining to our religion are mere appendages to it.

As you can see, there was quite a lot I liked about conference :) it
was a really good one. I especially liked the priesthood session
choir. You could tell Wilberg was going for it in every single
arrangement.

Well that's all for now, love you all! The church is true!

Elder Brett Whitney

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Earthquake! Or, week 4 of transfer 5, Mar. 31

Hi everybody! So first things first. Earthquakes are pretty legit. We
had quite a few this weekend, and while the locals are praying for
them to stop, I have enjoyed every single one of them. The first was
definitely the best though.

Monday 3/24- we had a zone activity in la puente where I learned how
to play tomahawk ball, which is pretty fun. On a basketball court, you
play ultimate frisbee with a football and the goal is to put the ball
in the hoop. It's a pretty fast paced game. In the evening we taught
Adrian again. He had some questions about family, and wanted us to
explain some of why we need to be sealed in order to reach the highest
degree of glory within the celestial kingdom.

Tuesday- we taught Adrian again, except for this lesson he asked that
the sisters take the lead in teaching him the restoration. Which was a
little weird, but it was still a good lesson. We met with a less
active member from Thailand in the evening and we were able to teach
her the restoration as well. She really appreciated us coming by, but
a few days later called us and told us not to go by anymore :(

Wednesday- we were able to find Andre at home. He was pretty sick last
week, but is better now. We talked with him about reading the Book of
Mormon. We saw a few other people throughout the day, but nothing real
exciting to report.

Thursday- district meeting this week was on planning to find people to
teach. Hopefully the sisters got something useful out of it. I often
worry that they won't take me seriously since most of them have been
out much longer than I have. After some in-n-out we met with Adrian.
We read ether 2 and 3 and talked about the three different ways the
Lord answers prayers. He agreed that more often than not, He tells us
to figure it out and tell Him the plan so He can help us grow. Adrian
also took us out to eat as a social experiment. He said he wanted to
know what the stares felt like.

Friday- we had a pretty good weekly planning, then we got some intel
from the sisters that some formers needed some help with yard work. So
we went over there and helped out for a while. They weren't all that
interested in learning again though. Then we went into la puente to
find some people. One less active we found was really glad to talk to
us. She wants to feed us this week, and hopefully we can get them to
watch some of conference. Friday night, just as we were gonna start
planning, was when we felt the first earthquake. It was a 5.1 centered
in La Habra which is pretty close. The whole house has a lot of glass,
and everything was shaking and rocking back and forth for a good 15
seconds. The power got cut out for about 30 minutes too. It was
awesome. We had a few aftershocks that were pretty good too.

SaturdayOn Saturday we were at the church when the second big one
came. It knocked a few things off the wall of the church. Some members
asked if we were okay, and we just replied, "yeah we're good. Just
getting some revelation that's all!" It was a pretty sweet one. Not as
forceful or long as the first though. We taught a couple less actives
in the afternoon/evening. I think we can get one of them to come to
church again.

Sunday- We had Adrian and Efrain (finally back from El Salvador) at
sacrament meeting. It was fast and testimony for us stateside Mormons.
The whole ward was fasting for a member of the bishopric who got in a
pretty terrible motorcycle accident last week. Apparently he flew 140
ft from where the car hit him. So that's pretty scary, but he's in
good spirits and starting the long road to recovery. We taught Virgil
about the Book of Mormon after church and Efrain in the evening. Both
lessons went pretty well.

That was my week, I hope you all had a good one too! I also hope that
you've been figuring out what questions you need answered at
conference. It makes it way more meaningful. Love you all!

Elder Whitney

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mar. 24, 2014

Just an announcement, I can no longer eat chocolate, so please don't
send any unless you intend it to be given to other missionaries.
Apparently it causes migraines. So there's that.

Monday 3/17- highlight of Monday night was knocking on an old
potentials door and having him let us right in to teach. He offered a
good prayer at the end, but we weren't able to set up a return
appointment for him. Hopefully that happens soon.

Tuesday- in the morning we met with Adrian, and had another really
good lesson with him. He's been reading in Mosiah, and really likes
King Benjamin. King Benjamin is pretty sweet. He's at that point where
he wants to be baptized, but won't say when. Which is frustrating for
us. We met with a less active with lots of family in the ward in the
afternoon. Her big reason for not coming to church is her nonmember
husband. He isn't anti, but he doesn't like her being gone for three
hours on family day. In the evening was when I met with the neuro and
got the no chocolate news.

Wednesday- Wednesday morning there was district leader in Arcadia. It
was really good. Highlights included the training model of Heavenly
Father (explain, demonstrate, practice, evaluate, repractice, the last
three being at least half the time spent in the meeting), how to say
no as a representative of Christ, and turning district meetings into
revelatory sessions. It was awesome. Plus, I got to see elder Leavitt
again. He's doing pretty good. He's the district leader in Arcadia.
Anyways, that meeting was great. I also got that package. By the way
Brooke, Elder Judd says thank you for the Reese's, (since I couldn't
have them). Wednesday evening we taught Adrian with our assistant ward
mission leader. That was also a good lesson. We talked about necessary
it is for us to have the gift of the Holy Ghost. He understood really
well.

Thursday- Se had district meeting on working with members again, and
it went way better than last time (thanks to yesterday's training).
The real awesome part though, was when in correlation a few days later
my missionaries were applying what I taught. So that was cool. The
zone leaders came to that meeting too, and had some good input. In the
afternoon we got to apply what we learned and prepared our member for
the lesson we had with had Virgil later in the day. Which was awesome.
The member helped out so much and did exactly what we needed him to
do. I was afraid things with Virgil were going kind of south, but this
lesson really turned over a new leaf in his learning.

Friday- Friday morning we helped get things set up for a funeral at
the church, then we went to a baptism for one of Elder J's only
investigators in his old area. The guy used to be Muslim, so that's
cool. It was a sparsely attended baptism though, even the guy who was
supposed to do the baptizing didn't show up. There's a fun phone call
for the missionaries. :p
We did some weekly planning before another lesson with Adrian. For
this lesson he asked us to focus on scriptures relating to baptism so
we read and discussed Mosiah 18, 2 Nephi 31. It was a pretty good
lesson. After the lesson he stayed to help us help the elders quorum
clean the building. He jumped right in, and immediately volunteered
for the bathrooms. He said he really wants to give back to the church
somehow since he can't pay tithing, yet. He's just awesome.

Saturday- The best part of Saturday was the very productive
correlation we had in the morning. We set up a proposed curriculum for
a Sunday school class we want to start. The point of the class is to
train the ward missionaries and other members on how to be member
missionaries. It should be pretty good, if we can get it started.

Sunday- we didn't have anybody at church since Efrain is still out of
country and Adrian had work. But! Nathan did walk 3 miles to church
and was on time for sacrament too. All on his own. So either he has a
monster crush on one of the young women or he really knows that he
needs to be at church. Either way, he's gonna be so blessed for that.
I was blessed just to witness that happen. He's an awesome kid.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, Week 2 of transfer 5

Hello everyone! We had a pretty busy week. Taught a good amount of
lessons, put lots of miles on the bikes, etc. Here's the break down

Monday 3/10- Monday evening we gave Carolyn a tour of the church. It
was kind of cool, because Adrian was there early for his lesson
afterwards, so he sat in on hers, too. That lesson went well. The
lesson with Adrian afterwards was also good. He's still trying to
overcome a few obstacles, but is pretty sure he wants to be baptized.
He is way excited for general conference. Then we taught Efrain about
prophets in the evening, and got him solidly committed to pray about
President Monson and Joseph Smith.

Tuesday- We met with Adrian for a long time in the morning. At the end
of the lesson he offered a really wonderful pray that made me cry.
But, we know he feels the spirit, and we were able to help clearly
identify what it feels like for him. It was the most interesting
description of a still small voice I've ever heard. He said, "During
the prayer, this room was not quiet. It wasn't loud, but it was not
quiet either." (We were in the chapel) So, that was a really great
experience. In the afternoon we made contact with a less active who
had his feelings hurt pretty bad by a member a long time ago. We told
him that he had the Elders on his side, and if anything like that
happens when he comes back to church, we will take care of it. I think
that meant a lot to him. In the evening we met with Orion, who got
baptized last August. He and his mom are kind of less active right
now, but when we told them we wanted to convert her boyfriend and the
other guys in the house with them, they were all for it. We'll see
what happens.

Wednesday - On Wednesday we went to the nether reaches of the ward and
didn't have a lot of luck. However, two awesome things still happened.
1. Efrain called us in the afternoon to tell us that he'd been praying
about "that Monson guy" all day in his truck, and that he felt really
good about it. So that's pretty awesome. 2. Adrian called us and said
that it was crazy how just praying was totally changing him. His
prayers were getting more meaningful, his desire to read the
scriptures and anything else about the gospel has increased
exponentially, and he is just happier all the time. He also wanted to
tell us that he prayed before work that his obstacles would be removed
and at work, someone traded their Sunday shift with him so he can go
to church again! Woot.

Thursday- I led my first district meeting as a district leader this
week. I think it went pretty good. My district is pretty small, and we
only have sisters, so yeah. We discussed the importance of members In
the work. Something I've realized about my area this past week is that
every single good investigator and active convert to the church was
found through members, not our own finding efforts. The members are
our most important tool in finding people to teach in fact, especially
since we don't tract in this mission. Some of those reading this live
in places where they don't have full time missionaries to help spread
the gospel. For you, it is even more critical to fulfill your
baptismal covenant and be a witness of Christ. That's something a lot
of people miss I think. Doing missionary work in some way is fact part
of the baptismal covenant, and something we will be held accountable
for in the end.

Friday - not much happened, I was feeling pretty sick for
most of the day. We did eat pizza though. You'd be surprised at how
little pizza we eat out here. At least I am anyways. We gave a woman
from Thailand who got baptized and fell away before the Book of Mormon
was in Thai a copy of the Book of Mormon in her native tongue. She
looked sincerely grateful to have the chance to read it in her native
language, so that was a neat experience. Hopefully she gets herself to
church soon.

Saturday - we were supposed to take some youth from the
stake with us for a few hours, but they flaked out on us. Apparently
that happened to a lot of missionaries though. We taught Adrian again,
this time really focusing in on baptism and being worthy. He is
worried about some things, but really wants it, so it's still going
pretty good. In the afternoon we tried to track down a lot of people
but nobody was home. In the evening we met with a long time less
active who emphatically said he will never come back, even though he
knows it's true. So...yeah. There's nothing to do with people like
that, except maybe hope things work out eventually. It's pretty sad.

Sunday- Adrian was at sacrament meeting, as were several less
active/recent converts. It was a really great Sunday for Adrian,
because both speakers talked about the atonement, and in priesthood we
talked about the sacredness of the sacrament. I got a lot out of it
too. In the second hour, we helped out the primary with sharing time.
Sister Domine asked each of the missionaries to share the story of
someone who had a personal experience with the resurrected Savior.
There was Thomas, Mary Magdalene, a Nephite woman, and I was Joseph
Smith. It was a very interesting experience to try and put myself in a
prophets shoes and try to figure out what Joseph would tell those
primary kids if he was really there. As I did my little performance, I
had my testimony of the first vision reconfirmed to me among some
other things. It was intense, at least it was for me. Hopefully, some
of the kids got something out of it too. They were a well behaved
bunch and seemed like they were paying really good attention.

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this
is the testimony, last of all, which [ I ] give of him: That he lives!
(D&C 76:22)

Elder Brett Whitney

March 10

So this last Tuesday marked 6 months of my mission come and gone. Many
missionaries "celebrate" by burning a tie. My companion is pretty
annoyed that I didn't. First of all, he suggested that I just burn one
I don't like. I don't have a tie I don't like. Why would I have a tie
I dislike? Or spend money on one, just to burn it? It's stupid.
Secondly, president puts missionaries who do the burning thing in his
plane shaped trust box, pointed to Salt Lake City. Thirdly, why would
I celebrate six months? That is also stupid. Anyways, on to stuff that
actually happened.

So last week I said my district was all elders and that we stayed in
the old zone. Well, they actually messed up. I'm really in the new
zone and my district is all sisters. Such is life.

Monday 3/3- All of our evening appointments fell through, a common
motif for the rest of the week.

Tuesday- in the morning we taught Adrian about some of the "Do"
commandments. Prayer every day, read the scriptures, come to church,
etc. He is progressing really well! We also found out that one of the
wards recent converts was going to be in the area during the week, but
not on weekends. He's been having a real tough time lately, and was
glad to see us. Elder Justensen and him get along because they're both
welders. In the evening we met with a VERY sad less active, that just
needs to come to church. Once his wife gets over her walking pneumonia
we will be teaching them. We also caught up with Andre and Lina (who
marched DCI with the velvet knights back in '88 and saw the
championship performance of the scouts malagueƱa, she was also at
finals the next year when SCV won with phantom of the opera. She's
pretty cool) and taught them the restoration.

Wednesday- when Wednesday started, we had like 5 really solid
appointments. By noon on Wednesday, we had 5 cancelled appointments.
It was a total bummer. BUT. we did give Miguel (the recent convert
from yesterday) a blessing. I acted as voice, and still can't believe
I said some of what I said but hey, it's not me, it's the Spirit. It's
just kind of mind-boggling. But we will see. We also saw Efrain and
had a good lesson with him. He's cool.

Thursday- on Thursday we had zone meeting and really focused on the 8
fundamental lessons as we call them. (Our purpose, revelation through
prayer, reading the Book of Mormon, and church attendance, teach
people not lessons, how to begin teaching, role of the Holy Ghost on
conversion, and we invite they commit we follow up). It was good. Due
to illness we didn't do anything for the rest of the day. It makes me
sad when that happens.

Friday-  we did our weekly planning and then we went to teach Andre
and Lina about the Book of Mormon. The way we teach it now is like so:
We read the first and last two paragraphs of the introduction and
commit them to read and prayer right there. Then we start reading the
Book of Mormon with them, starting at "the first book of Nephi, his
reign and ministry." We go through the first 12 verses with them,
continually testifying of the blessings and awesomeness of the book.
We tell them how they are like Nephi and Lehi, and promise them that
verse 12 is true. And almost everyone, Andre and Lina included, get to
the end of the lesson and say something like, "before I was kind eh
about reading, but now I am really excited!" It's pretty sweet. After
that lesson we taught Adrian at the church. It was cool, because the
stake relief society was setting up for some activity and when we got
there we found him (Adrian) already helping them get stuff set up.
They actually really needed the help though, so we helped them too. We
had a very intense, personal lesson with Adrian afterwards, the
details of which I cannot share. But know this, he is getting close to
baptism :)

Saturday- Met with Adrain, and had the same result as last night.
After helping cleanup the stake relief society activity (which appears
to have been a success), we rode around all day trying to find people
and met with little success. There just wasn't anybody around.

Sunday- Efrain was at church again, praise The Lord. Adrian didn't
make it though, he said he got suddenly sick. Andre and Lina were also
no shows. In the afternoon we tracked down Carolyn, whom we haven't
been able to teach for a while. We set up a tour with her for this
afternoon. That should be good.

That's it from my end, hope you guys are all doing well. The church is
truly gods kingdom on earth today!

Elder brett Whitney

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 3, Dang those truffles were delicious, why didn't I open those up sooner?

Hello family, friends, and fellow-citizens in the Gospel!

It is the beginning of a new transfer here in the California Arcadia
mission, and somebody decided it would be a good idea to let me be a
district leader in the newly created Hacienda Heights North zone.
We'll see how that shakes out. Hopefully not too bad. I have the
korean elders and zone leaders in my district; all of whom are among
my favorite missionaries in the world. So that's cool. One of the
Koreans was my district leader when I first got transferred out here.
So we appear to have come full circle.

Monday 2/24- after an uneventful pday, we taught Carolyn who we
contacted the night before. She was an investigator several years ago
but for reasons unbeknownst to us and her, she was dropped. We taught
her the restoration and she really liked it. She said she would be
baptized. What was cool was what happened after she prayed. Her first
question was, "i have to quit drinking and smoking don't i?" We had no
idea she did those things, but the spirit did. Stuff like happens a
lot actually, and it's pretty sweet. That's when you know your
investigators are receiving revelation.

Tuesday- so there's a family in the ward whose dad is traveling for
the government all the time, and they move a lot. They have a million
kids and the mom is a super hero. They are moving internationally this
Friday. Sound familiar? Needless to say, I have always tried to keep
tabs on what we could do to help out this sister (it has ranged from
getting cupcakes for her kids at a baptism to singing in sacrament
because she wanted me too). Knowing that they were gearing for a move
to Egypt later this week, we went by to offer what service we could.
After cleaning some carpets for them, they also emptied some of their
fridge on us. It's a bummer that they're leaving, but I'm glad we were
able to help put a bit. After visiting them we went to a less active
and had a short lesson with her. We got to hear her conversion story
and will be working with her from now on to help her come back to
church. She says she lacks motivation, but that's code for she was
never fully converted.

Wednesday-  in the morning we taught Carolyn about the Book of Mormon,
and committed her to coming to church. In the afternoon we taught a
younger guy named Adam. I may have mentioned him a few weeks ago.
Anyways, today we taught him the restoration,  and he really enjoyed
it. We helped a sister in the ward fix some bikes in the evening
before going to dinner with the family we lived with during Christmas.
That was gooooooooood. And I don't even like food.

Thursday- we taught Adam, Albert, Virgil, Adrian, and Laura and Sarah.
It was nuts. I've never taught that many lessons in one day before.
Adam, Albert, and Adrian all went well and are doing pretty good in
the gospel. Virgil has taken to deflecting "inspired questions" with
politics. We are trying to figure what to do about that. Laura and
Sarah dropped us. "The whole prophet thing" was just too much for
them. You'd think hardcore Catholics would be okay with that, given
they have the pope. Oh well.

Friday- Thursday night it started raining. It rained all day Friday,
on and off on Saturday, and a little on Sunday. Parts of the mission
were super flooded and sliding off the mountains. We were okay in that
respect. It did rain pretty hard though. A little bit of hail too. We
did our weekly planning at the church this week so we could eat the
leftovers the snyders gave us on Wednesday. (We left them in the
kitchen so we didn't have to carry them home. The snyders are close to
the church). Those were still delicious. In the evening we visited a
less active member, bro. Erbe. His power went out while we were there.
It was creepy. But we made it home alive, so that's nice.

Saturday- because of the continuos rain, we walked all day Saturday.
We walked a long ways too, and nobody was around. It was a pretty big
bummer. But we had dinner at the assistant ward mission leaders house,
so that was good. He is young guy who might be playing at USU next
football season. I think that would be cool. Anyways, we had
correlation over dinner. That night we awaited transfer calls, but
instead of a transfer, I was notified that I had been chosen as one of
the district leaders. That was a big surprise.

Sunday - on Sunday we had TWO of the seven people we are currently
teaching at sacrament meeting, Adrian and Efrain. Efrain actually
brought his baptist sister who looked pretty uncomfortable, and made
him take her home early. So that was a bummer. But Adrain stayed all
three hours, participated in classes, the whole shebang. He really
liked it. After studies, we taught Efrain about the word of wisdom. It
took some convincing from the spirit, but he eventually committed to
live it. W are teaching him again tonight.

Love you guys! Have an awesome week!

Elder Brett Whitney