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, January 22, 2014

Jan. 20: Week 1 of Transfer 4

So it is the beginning of a new transfer and I'm sure you're all wondering who my new companion is or if I got transferred. Surprise, none of the above! I'm still in the Creekside ward with Elder Justensen. Doesn't change the fact that I've had 6 companions in 4 transfers, but hey, maybe this will last. Maybe. 

Also, I left my planner from last transfer at the pad, so I have no idea what I did when last week, so I will try to recap as best I can. 

The first few days of the week weren't too eventful. We had a lesson with Efrain last Tuesday where we committed him to read the Book of Mormon (he's actually listening to it and reading at the same time using the app. It's pretty sweet). He also said that if he gets a testimony of these things that he will get baptized! Woot! It was a fairly "soft" commitment but he is taking this seriously right now. 

We found a new investigator, Albert, this week too. He was a referral we got back in November, but lost contact with. He really wants to stop his addictive/destructive habits, and was really happy when we promised him that we would teach him how the Savior will help him stop. I'm excited to teach him again; it is really amazing to see Christ work in the lives of people who want to change. Efrain for example, has stopped swearing of his own accord. We never talked about that, but the Spirit did. Last Sunday he wore a suit to church instead of his usual jeans because, "he wanted to look good for God." When the Spirit is working on someone, the missionaries get to enjoy watching the change happen. 

On Friday we went by the home of an investigator we picked up a few weeks ago, but he hadn't been answering our calls/texts. He didn't want to come out for a lesson, but his less active mom did want to talk to us. We taught her the Plan of Salvation (in four minutes, just saying). Each time someone learns or relearns about the Kingdoms, I see the Spirit hit them really hard. They read that Heavenly Father is in the Celestial Kingdom and they immediately ask, "How do I get there?" This member, Sis. Garcia, had forgotten everything pertaining to the church, but learning about the Celestial kingdom really made her want to return. She wants to be an example for her son, which is fantastic. 

We taught Efrain about the plan of salvation as well this week (Also the 4 minute version). He had really good questions about it as we went through it. His understanding of the Atonement deepened immensely. He also said that he wanted to be in the Celestial kingdom. His only question at the end was, "This is a pretty good plan, where do I sign?" I pointed to where it says baptism under Earth life and said, "Right here." He laughed and asked why we wanted to baptize him so bad. We told him that we wanted to see him in the celestial kingdom, but in order to get there he needed to be baptized by the proper authority. That really made him think. 

We had a regional stake conference this weekend via satellite. President Eyring and Elder Anderson spoke to us from Salt Lake City. It was a really good conference. Both of them spoke of the importance of doing missionary work within our own families. All of us are related to someone who is less active or not a member at all. Part of being saved to be in their family in this day and age is the responsibility we have to try and bring them back into the Fold. At the mission conference a few weeks ago, Bro. Donaldson from the missionary dept in SLC told us, "You have been in training for thousands and thousands of years for your life here on Earth. You have each been trained for every single day of your life at the feet of God Himself." So there's that. 

I hope you are all doing wonderfully, and that you are praying for missionary opportunities. Keep your eyes open, they'll be there!

I love you all, take care!

Elder Brett

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jan. 13: Week 5 of Transfer 3

Isn't that weird? I'm at the end of my third transfer. That's like, 5 months that I've been a missionary. Or close to it anyways. 

Monday 01/06- We had a family home evening with Efrain and the Duenas family. We read the story of Nephi and his brothers going back to get the plates, and they all participated really well. We committed them all to be reading the Book of Mormon every day. According to Efrain, the youngest son Nate (13) has actually been reading every morning too. It's great when the children lead out and are an example to the adults in the home. It really has a powerful effect on their commitment to read, pray, come to church, etc. 

Tuesday- I did exchanges with the district leader, Elder Smith all day. He came to the Creekside area. It's funny, I still haven't ever done an exchange outside my own area. It'll happen eventually. We made some good contact with some less actives, and set up several lessons with them for this coming week. It will be really good practice for Elder Justensen since he is still inexperienced in teaching. 

Wednesday- We ran around in an area of the ward I haven't been in very much. Knocked on some new doors. We made good contact with a sister who can't come to church because her immune system is too weak. We set up a service project with her that should actually be kind of fun, and will possibly result in free fruit. Woot! We accompanied Nate (mentioned above) to mutual, just to make sure he got fellowshipped. 

Thursday- Mission Conference with Bro. Donaldson of the mission department. This was the first time EVER that someone who was not a general authority or the mission president conducted a mission conference. So that's a neat thing. He taught us a lot of new things. New ways to teach, new ways to contact (Are you sure Jesus has no more blessings for you? Are you 100% positive that you're family will be together forever? Are you willing to bet them on eternity?). It was really great. He also answered some good questions about when we are getting our iPad minis (February). It's pretty sweet. I will have my own, and I will take it with me everywhere for the rest of my mission. Another cool thing about Bro. Donaldson was that he basically hangs out with the Twelve. Yeah, those Twelve. The way he talked about them, and the things they've told him, are mind blowing. The most mind-blowing thing though: The Book of Mormon was written for our day right? If you look at major events, and the order of them, they match up perfectly with events in the restored church. And guess what the next major event is? Hint: We're living 3 Nephi. yeah. It is THAT close. 

Friday: We helped the sisters get some stuff ready for their baptism on Saturday, got yelled at by a Catholic at a park, and watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with him. It wasn't as powerful for him as we hoped, but he did commit to come tot he baptism the next day.

Saturday: We had a lesson with a brother who we thought was a less active member. Turns out he's just straight up not a member. That was neat. In the afternoon we had the baptism. I was sitting by Efrain right up at the front. He was extremely attentive the whole time. He is always so touched by music, and after the baptism we explained the difference between being touched by the Spirit and actually having it with you all the time. He was like, "well I want that!" And i was like, "Great! get baptized!" Not in those exact words, but you get my point. So this week we will hopefully set him up with a baptismal date. I'm so excited for him!

Sunday- Efrain, never failing to disappoint, came to church again. That's three in a row. If he were living all the commandments, he could be baptized immediately. We do still have quite a lot of work with him though. The Lord will make it happen though, if Efrain lets Him. We had a surprise lesson with our investigator Matt Cosby. We taught him about the Book of Mormon, and hopefully he will be reading it every day now. We spent the evening talking to a rather crazy person. By rather crazy, I mean off the wall nuts. It was interesting. Elder Justensen seemed to handle it well though, which was my main concern. 

Notice! President told us all to un-friend all parents, siblings, girlfriends, etc on FaceBook. Some of you may have already noticed that this has already happened. If you wish to complain about it, write the Twelve. Not me. 

I love you all very much! Keep being awesome, and remember that the Gospel is true, no matter what man may do. 

Elder Brett Whitney

Monday, January 6, 2014

Jan. 6, 2014

So, after the craziness of last week, this week was semi-routine. Not that anything is actually routine for a missionary.

Monday (12/30)- Went slacklining again, and this time I almost made it across the whole line. It's crazy how hard it actually is just to walk on that thing. We spent the evening contacting some investigators and potentials, but had little success in teaching.

Tuesday- We went out with the assistant ward mission leader, Bro Kongaika. He's pretty awesome. I think I've said that before. We found a couple less actives, with varying degrees of success. We did find an awesome service project to do though. And given my history in removing tree stumps, this one is removing some tree stumps for a less active member. It should be a great opportunity to soften some hearts in that home. We also got a call from the amazing Sis. Duenas. She is also awesome. She's been inactive for five years, but totally wants back in with the church. She called us up and asked us to come visit real quick before they went to her boyfriend's (an investigator) family for new years eve. His family is fairly anti, so they wanted us to go help prepare both of them to deal with any potential confrontations about his investigating. It was a really great visit. 

Wednesday- New years day! Happy new years! although it is super boring in the states. Oh well. Sleeping was actually pretty good. We explored a SUPER rich part of the area in the afternoon. Like, wow. I think I've almost been on every single road in the area now though, so that's exciting. I probably know how to get places better than a lot of the ward members. We spent our afternoon saving the sisters and fixing their bike problems. We do that sometimes. The sisters are great, but their bikes are silly. Wednesday night we finally found the Bates again! They went out of town for the weekend, but don't hate us and are still open to learning. With the holidays over, things should get settled for a lot of our investigators and we'll be able to teach them more regularly.

ThursdayOn Thursday we had district meeting for the first time all transfer. We got some good advice in getting people to commit to solid lesson times. It consisted of telling them our purpose, and that if they won't commit, we will have to focus our efforts on people who will. We'll see how that goes. I had a cool, guided by the spirit experience thursday night. After trying to contact a referral and failing for like, the 10th time, we were headed to our backup plan. So we took off, me leading since elder justensen is still new to the area, and got to the place. I was kind of cruise control (or spirit control if you will) on the way there. Well, come to find I had actually brought us to a different house than the one we had planned on. This was supposed to be where one of the elder's quorum focus people was but we had never had the door answered. Well tonight he was there! We had a great talk with him, he still has a testimony, and is actually working on changing his career so he can come to church on Sunday rather than having to work. He also told us it was kind of a miracle we found him there at that time too, since he is almost never home at that time of day. I know we were led to his home rather than the one we planned by the Spirit, and that it really was a small miracle. 

Friday- We had interviews with President Becerra in which we discussed how to lay down my personal weapon of rebellion which is keeping me from becoming a fully-converted, preach my gospel missionary. It was a really good talk. Spent the rest of the afternoon doing weekly planning, which went well. That evening not a lot of people were answering their doors or phones. Oh well. 

Saturday- We moved back to the Helbergs in the morning. The Snyders have a beautiful house, but the Helberg's house has really become my home out here in the field. I really missed hearing her say, "My boys are back!" every night. Sis Helberg is awesome. In the afternoon we taught the Duenas family and Efrain again. We discussed a lot about the Book of Mormon and they made us a delicious dinner. Carne Asada and some weird but delicious Salvadorian banana thing. Twas good. Then Efrain gave us a ride to our next appointment, which was a pass off lesson with the sisters. They gave us one of their investigators because it's just easier for us to teach him given that we are Elders and not sisters. Elders rule! Anyways, it was with a guy that has been learning on and off for a while. Two of his daughters have actually been baptized. So we'll see if we can't help seal the deal for him. He says he knows what he needs to do, but just needs to do it. That evening we taught our third lesson for the day, Alejandro. He was a member referral from his aunt who is our relief society president. He's just a junior in high school, but has some really deep questions about life, the universe, and everything. Luckily, we've got answers about life, the universe, and everything. 

Sunday- Efrain and Sis. Duenas gave us a scare and didn't show up until halfway through the opening song of sacrament. But, they came! twice in a row! First time ever! Woo! Bro. Kongaika went out with us in the afternoon. We finally found Andre again! Turned out he did have a good reason for missing church a few weeks ago, and still wants to go. We are giving him a church tour on Wednesday this week. Praying that it actually happens! After a delicious baked potatoe dinner, we tried to find some referrals. Got one of them, but he wasn't actually interested. So, that's a bummer. But that's why we keep an area book. Future elders will know where he's at.

That was my new years week, hope you're all doing great! I love you all, and can't wait to hear from you guys. Also, Dad will be glad to know that Elder Justensen can't get Princess Games out of his head. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dec. 23-Dec.30

I don't seem to have normal transfers ever. Elder Ramirez got emergency transferred out this weekend, and I am now finishing the training for Elder Justensen. He is super tall, and from Syracuse, Utah. He's one of them 18 year old missionaries. I like him. 

Monday 12/23: I learned how to slackline with the zone leaders. Well, I say learned. I didn't really master it yet. However, I did manage to walk a whopping 5 steps on it. That evening our investigators continued to hide from us. 

Tuesday: We stopped by several less active families, hoping that missionaries would be semi-welcome on Christmas Eve to talk about Jesus for 20 minutes. Not so! However, we did go caroling with the sisters which was really good. We went to the home of one of our potentials, Alfredo. We found out that he had passed away due to kidney failure on Saturday. I only met him once, but it made me profoundly sad for the family. When we sang to the house, which was full to bursting with his family, everyone was totally silent. Those who have heard a house full of grieving Hispanics will know how incredible that was. We set up an appointment to teach Cecilia (Alfredo's daughter) and her sons.

Wednesday: Christmas! Thank you so much to everyone who sent cards, packages, letters, etc! I am truly grateful that you took some time out of your busy holiday season to send me something. You're all great! After opening a bajillion presents we made peanut butter balls to take caroling that night with the sisters. Which we forgot to take caroling with us. :P After a great dinner with the Spencers, we went to the ward mission leader's house so I could call my family. Which was pretty coolio. I tend to like those people. We went caroling with the sisters again that night, and picked up a new investigator at the house of a less active family. There will be more on them later.

Thursday: We had another zone meeting. This time we learned how we were to use facebook for proselyting, which I am now officially authorized to do. Pretty cool huh? I'm still working on making sure everything on my account is cleaned up and representative of my calling. But still, that'll be coming soon. I would like to let everyone know that I am only going to use my facebook account for missionary work. If you message me there, or put something on my wall, or otherwise tag me in something that is not reflective of my sacred calling, I'm going to have it removed. Just a heads up :) You are more than welcome to message me about your missionary efforts, post church videos, mormon messages, etc. I would love to see what you find! 

On Thursday we taught Cecilia and her sons. We did a very surface level going over of the Plan of Salvation, but mostly just listened to them talk about their religious beliefs and Alfredo. After that we visited the Duenas family (New investigator from Christmas). Sis Duenas and her sons are members, however, her boyfriend Efran lives there and is now investigating. He is very sensitive to the spirit, and is very smart. He asks really great questions. The sons also had a friend, Victoria, over. She expressed some interest in coming to church and meeting the Young Women. 

FridayOn Friday we did our weekly planning, and had a meeting with Bro Peck to discuss how we would go about helping the members get going in their personal missionary work. He also made us brunch. Brunch is yummy. Friday night we tried to find Andre and Lina from last week, but to no avail. They are super interested, but really hard to contact. Hopefully using facebook will make that easier. 

Saturday: We rode a lot of buses and went to a lot of stores trying to talk to people about the restored gospel. Got a couple referrals for other missionaries, but didn't find anyone in our area. That's alright though, filling other missionaries' planners always brings blessings. We had an appointment with the Duenas family to talk about church with Efran, but he wasn't there. We talked with the Duenasssssss (????) about how the church is for sinners, and that no matter what they've done they will always be welcome there. I think Sis. Duenas really appreciated hearing that. This was the night we found out Elder Ramirez would be getting transferred.

Sunday: We had correlation in the morning, and came out to find Efran and the Duenas family already there! This was a surprise because that morning Sis. Duenas told us that he probably wasn't going to go. But he stayed and said that if he felt bad about being there he would walk out immediately. I promised him that he would feel the holy ghost today, and that it would be a great experience for him. And wow did the Lord deliver! The sisters spoke in sacrament, and he loved it! One of them moved him to tears. The third speaker gave kind of an incoherent talk, but Efran was still feeling it. Then in Sunday School, several converts bore their testimonies throughout, and got him crying again. By the time we got to the third hour he was openly participating in discussions about our duty to do missionary work. It was pretty awesome. Efran is great. Hopefully he can remember the good feelings he had at church until we meet with him again tonight!

Sunday afternoon we did the transfer and had dinner at the ward mission leader's house. It was good timing to introduce him to Elder Justensen. 

The church is true! Jesus Christ is coming again! How wonderful His love for us, and for our brothers and sisters! In the words of Lehi, How great the importance to make these things known to the inhabitants of the Earth!

Love you all,
Elder Whitney