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!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nov. 4 - Nov. 11 Second Week in Walnut

Because of various circumstances I was unable to email yesterday, and then further forces of evil combined to prevent me from emailing late tonight. Well, I shouldn't say forces of evil, it's my zone leaders' fault, and they aren't evil. Back to the thing.

So to start things off, something that happened just today during a lunch time viewing of The Testaments:

I'd been thinking lately that the sort of faith the people who lived on Earth before Christ had to be fundamentally different from ours. We enjoy the benefit of knowing that a man named Jesus came from Nazareth and taught the things the Bible says He did. That is established fact. That person existed. We hope and have faith that the things He taught and did are real; that He did perform the Atonement, redeeming us from both deaths. The pre-Christ people didn't have that extra piece of information. They believed that they were in need of salvation. They knew that so-called prophets said a Messiah would come. But that was all they had to go on. And yet they believed. I think that's really pretty incredible. 

Back to the movie, Helam loses his sight in the disasters following Christ's death, and can't see the Savior when He appears to the Nephites. His son, Jacob guides him towards the Master, describing Him and His actions. Jacob then laments that his father can't actually see Him. That's when Christ lays His hand on Jacob's shoulder, gently pushing him aside. And then He heals Helam so that he can see Him.. I noticed a lot of things in this sequence of events. As a missionary, I am like Jacob, striving to help his father see, or know, Christ. However, I cannot make my investigators "see" Him. I can tell them all about Him. I can tell them over and over again that He is real. However, it is only through the Spirit that their "sight is healed," giving them a personal witness that Jesus IS the Christ. So that's one thing. 

The other though, has to do with healing. You are of course aware of the whole migraine thing, and that has always made me more sensitive to the Spirit when healing is depicted/talked about. In the Testaments, when Christ touches Helam, before even healing him, Helam sinks to his knees. My thought was/is this, "Even the faithful must be brought to their knees to know Christ." All of this driving to the confirmation I received from the Spirit after that. The Spirit testified to me that Christ really did do everything the scriptures and prophets say He did. He gave up His own life, something no normal man had the power to take from Him, so that you and I can be raised up at the glorious day of judgement. So that we can receive immortality and eternal life. The Christ came, and performed the Atonement. It was and is as real as the paper the scriptures are written on. What a wonderful, joyous thing to know that He did it! Jesus Christ is the way, and He is the Savior of all mankind. That is my testimony and no one can cause me to deny it. To quote the prophet, I know it, I know that God knows it, and I cannot deny it. In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, amen. 

Monday 11/4: Had a pretty regular p-day, played some basketball and watched Sister Kretchman fail at the whipped cream game (put whipped cream on left wrist, lower left arm then rapidly bring it up. As it gets about level, use your right hand/arm to stop your left. This causes the whipped cream to launch into the air. Proceed to catch flying whipped cream in mouth. good luck, take pictures). For dinner we ate with a nonmember who has is more active than most of the ward. Like, for years he's been attending church with us. The sisters have started teaching him though, so hopefully we'll see him get baptized real soon here. Then we met with the relief society presidency to talk about who they wanted us to be visiting/how we could help them. That was productive. That night we began exchanges with the district leaders. Elder Blake joined me in Creekside and Elder Leavitt got to do some Korean work with Elder Sorenson. 

Tuesday: Like I said, exchanges with the Korean elders/district leaders. We tried to find a headquarters referral, knocked on a lot of less-actives doors. Contrary to the trend, many of them answered and gave us phone numbers with which to set up appointments. Even more contrary, all of the numbers are legit! So that was pretty sweet. Then we tried to ride some buses just to do some finding, but not many people were in a talk-to-the-mormons kind of mood. That's okay though, we gave them a chance. That evening we met with a sort of recent convert, Steve, that has been growing less active. We talked about the commandments, and he said he would come to church this week (He didn't, but we've already visited him again and re-committed him to it).
In the evening I got Elder Leavitt back, who said Korean is impossible to learn. Guess there's one reason he and I got called English speaking. 

WednesdayWednesday morning we did a lot of work on the Sisters' future apartment. Then we discovered that E. Leavitt had two flats and I had some gear issues with my bike. That took several hours to resolve. We then spent the night trying to track down less-actives and potentials. That went okay. There's one guy, Alfredo, that we've been trying to meet for two weeks. He's on dialysis, so you'd think he'd be easier to meet with. Not so. Same with our one investigator, Virgil. He's paralyzed and totally bed-ridden yet we weren't able to meet with him at all this week. Which was a total bummer but we've got appointments with both this week. So no fear there. 

Thursday: We had zone meeting at the stake center, where Elder Leavitt got some pretty good ideas and instruction on how to improve our finding efforts. We realized that there a ton of parks in our area, and most of them are well lit and well maintained. We were also taught to teach the Restoration in 5 minutes to as many contacts as possible. Those two things have helped Elder Leavitt and I use our time better in a major way. Zone meetings, gotta love 'em. Anyways, that night we had the elder's quorum president for dinner and he is also the mission bike expert. So he looked at our unsolved bike woes from Tuesday and got us rolling in much better shape. He's a real blessing to have in the ward here, I'll tell you that. Especially since we ride so much. 

Friday: On Friday we had a 6 week training meeting with President Becerra. That was really awesome. Generally speaking, it was two hours of chastisement, but we came out knowing much better how to improve ourselves as missionaries in all respects. Basically, it all comes down to having hope in baptizing monthly, which is the mission goal for every companionship. Then we did weekly planning, which went much better than last weeks. During planning, we got like, 3 referrals in the space of 30 minutes, and they all said contact ASAP. So we did. Two of them we couldn't find, but one, Robert, we did talk to. He's so prepared, it's awesome! We haven't been able to meet with him and officially start teaching him, but we will tomorrow (11/13). I'm really excited for that. We went to a park that night and played the game 21 with some guys we met there. I won't explain it in full, but basically I did like, 100 pushups while playing basketball. However, we did get two phone numbers and names to give to the singles ward missionaries. So it was worth it. 

Saturday: We spent the first couple hours refining a family mission plan that we are going to be using with our members here. It's pretty good, if I do say so myself. I'll probably attach it to this email for you to look at/use. Then we went and contacted another of the referrals from Friday. They're a part member/less active family whose daughter has cancer. The parents sent us, saying that they had agreed to a blessing for the daughter and nothing more. That is also happening tomorrow. The cool thing about Saturday night is that we somehow ended up at the door of an active family living about 3 miles away from where we had planned to be that night. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out how that happened. But, we were there, and it was good. They fed us dinner, which was neat since we weren't planning on eating that night. And then, I asked them about their neighbors. Somehow, that triggered in the wife's mind a remembrance of a woman who has been going to RS activities for several years, is best friends with several of the long time members of the ward, yet has never been to church with us before. We committed the family to inviting Rina to church that night, and they were like, "yeah, we don't know why we haven't already!" That was pretty sweet.After that we went to the home of a less active sister Sis. Coley, recently widowed. We talked a lot about family history, and invited her to church.

Sunday: Rina came to church! Sis. Coley came to church! and another family brought us a referral who we turned into an investigator today (today meaning Tuesday the 12)! The primary program was awesome. Sunday school was perfect for a day with two entirely new people there. Then we met with the priests/teachers quorum, and they decided that they like us, so that was pretty sweet. All in all, Church was awesome. I love church. Everybody, go to church. That afternoon we had a training meeting with the Area Pres, Stake Pres, and Mission Pres. It was great for us because they basically laid into the ward leadership and told them what they ought to be doing with us. Which was something we had been struggling to bring up with our ward in a way that didn't seem like we were trying to "take over" or something like that. So we are very grateful for the leaders of the church and the inspired messages they teach us. We met with Steve from Tuesday, and read from the Book of Mormon with him. His commitment is to read another chapter before we meet again on Wednesday and to come to church. We also met with Robert from Friday night again and just told him plainly, in this time when his life seems to be falling apart, our message is what he needs the most, and he needs it now. So we have an appointment set up with him soon. 

All in all, a pretty cool week, especially the last few days. We are excited to have finally picked up a new investigator Cheryl, and are even more excited to turn our fairly massive pool of potentials into investigators. Hopefully the next email features lots and lots of lessons and a lot less biking. According to E. Leavitt's odometer we rode 150 miles (up and down and up hills all the time) in the first two weeks. I bought myself an odometer yesterday, so yes Dad, I will include some of those stats for you since I know you would like that. 

The book is blue, and the church is true, love you all, keep on praying!

Elder Brett Whitney