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!

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

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Feb. 24 Week 5 of transfer 4

It is with great sadness that I am forced to acknowledge that after
this coming week I will have been on my mission for 6 months already.
Which means I have what amounts to a sister mission left. No offense
to the sister missionaries, but that's lame. Anyways.

Monday 2/17- we hung out with the hacienda heights elders at the stake
center for our pday, then at 6 we met with Adrian at the church. At
this meeting we talked about the plan of salvation. He immediately
pointed out that we have no "hell" in the traditional Christian sense
of the hot place. That's one of my favorite questions, because it
gives us a great chance to re-testify of why we came to Earth, what
our purpose is, and how much Heavenly Father loves His children. When
people understand that the meaning of hell and damnation in the
scriptures is a literal damming of our spiritual progression, not
consignment to life with the devil, they understand the plan of
happiness much more fully, and are usually very eager to kept baptized
in order to continue their progression.

Tuesday- In the afternoon we did some service for a less-active lady
and worked in her garden/pruned her trees. She gave us the information
for her brother down in Mexico, so we could send it to the
missionaries down there. Which is easy when you have an iPad. Just
saying. iPads. Anyways. In the evening we taught Adrian again. It was
a pretty short lesson, but afterwards he stayed at the church and
talked to Bishop for several hours. Apparently it went pretty well,
and we got some good intel from the bishop about his concerns right
now.

Wednesday- in the afternoon we went to the nether regions of the area
in order to find some less actives we've never been to. We taught one
guy who is 92 and stands up just as quick as we do. His wife passed
away recently, and he did a lot to take care of her in the last few
years of her life. That's what pulled him away from church in the
first place and now he says he's just "taking it easy." He has some
good friends in the ward though, so maybe he'll get coming back pretty
soon. The other lady we found up there grew up in the church, but for
whatever reason says she just never felt it. She's got some other
stuff going that probably prevents her from gaining a testimony as
well. She did express a firm desire to get one though, so we are going
to be teaching her very regularly.

Thursday- on Thursday we went all over the place and didn't have a
whole lot of luck finding anybody. But that night we we're finally
able to teach a potential investigator we've had for quite some time.
She is a really cool woman, and a lot of fun to talk with. She is a
pretty devout catholic, but so was most of the ward here before they
got converted. Hopefully things continue to go pretty well on that
front.

Friday- we had to leave fairly early in order to get to zone
conference in El Monte, conveniently the farthest building from our
area in the zone. Anyways, zone conference was actually really good.
One of my trainers, elder Winfield, is now my zone leader here! I
don't know if I mentioned that last week. Anyways, I love the guy and
it's awesome to have him nearby again. We talked a lot about how to
teach the restoration, the Book of Mormon, and helping peoples get to
church. President told us that if when an investigator says they'll do
something, and we can tell they aren't sincere, to do the following.
"As a representative of Jesus Christ, and as someone with the gift of
the Holy Ghost, I am entitled to something called the gift of
discernment. Basically, the spirit lets us know how things really are.
And I get the feeling that you won't actually be at church this
Sunday. Can you tell me why that is?" We spent the Evening riding
busses home.

Saturday- after weekly planning, we had a lesson with a less active in
the ward from Thailand. We found out that she has never been able to
read the Book of Mormon in Thai so we are getting her one as quick as
we can. When we told her that, she really opened up, and I think that
she will come to church soon.

Sunday- Efrain was once again at church, even though we weren't able
to teach him this week (he had a lot of work, which is a blessing
actually). The guy just about made me cry like 6 different times as he
recognized things we already taught him, participated and even lead
some discussions. The kicker was when he declared that he going to be
proud to call himself a Mormon, because nobody else does what we do.
And nobody else has the authority. He's awesome. There are still a few
things we have to work out before he can baptized, but hopefully it
will work out pretty quickly. Sunday afternoon we picked up a new
investigator and also set up a lot of appointments for this week.
Hopefully all those will actually come through. One of them is with a
former investigator tonight. I'm excited for that.

I hope you're all doing wonderfully, and that your testimonies
continue to grow. Remember,if you don't take care of it and nurture
it, it can die very very fast.

Love you all!

Elder Brett Whitney