Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New things: Sister Wardinsky and Jamul

How for art thou?
I miss you all alot!
School has started up here in El Cajon so I've been thinking about our soon to be 5th, 9th and 11th graders! (I just got weirded out while typing that) Man. Time is flying! I can't believe I'm out of training, now I don't have any excuse for messing up! Just kidding, it's awesome.
So--big news! I have a new companion! Not just any companion, a Sister who's actual mission is on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. She's in San Diego for three months as a full proselyting missionary. I feel so lucky that out of all the Sisters I get to be her companion and help her adjust to the full proselyting life! It's so cool and I get to know all the secrets about Temple Square! I love it!
Her name is Sister Wardinsky. She is from Houston, Texas. She has been out for about nine months and she's 19 just like me! That's pretty sweet. She will have her birthday here. If we stay together for two transfers we can celebrate together!!! She's an awesome companion, I am so lucky. She is so smiley and positive and makes street contacting super fun and very memorable! She connects with people really well and always relates everything back to a gospel principle. I've learned a lot from her already. And I've needed to--with our new assignment we are not only covering the Hillsdale area, but we are also covering the Jamul Ward/area. When I first heard that, I thought "How in the world am I going to help that area?" Let me explain. Jamul is a huge area, probably could fit 20 or more Hillsdale areas into Jamul. It's huge, goes down to the Mexican border and it's all dirt roads, not many houses, a lot of wind-y roads, a lot of mountains, not a lot of people. The Elders that were serving there before were struggling a lot. They said they would walk for an hour or two due to limited car miles, and would be lucky if they would talk to one person. Not quite encouraging for the new Sisters. But I only tell you this to explain that this is probably one of the best experiences of my life. Heavenly Father knew I needed a mountain to climb, and I am taking it full force. I'm glad I'm still serving in Hillsdale but meeting the Bishop and the members of the Jamul ward this past Sunday, I couldn't help but love the people! Saturday was really the day we took on Jamul. The Bishop (nicest guy ever) wrote down things for us to know about each member of the ward on a directory, who we should visit and so on. That was extremely helpful. Even though we have a GPS, we still got lost. Streets in the directory aren't the actual names of the streets. We couldn't find house numbers. We felt pretty disappointed most of Saturday that we weren't able to help the Lord's work move forward and help the ward. We didn't let that stop us. We said a lot of prayers that day. We refocused and asked to see people placed in our path. Our mission president said that the goal is to talk to at least 10 people each day, not including the ones you have appointments with. I knew it was going to be a struggle to do that in Jamul. We found some streets to walk on that seemed to have civilization. We prayed every which way we turned and at one point we turned a corner and saw a person walking--we were both so shocked that we gasped! It was pretty funny. We were talking to another man on a bike who seemed maybe like he was not all there. Sister Wardinsky is really good at summing up the restoration in a minute (I guess she must have to do that a lot on Temple Square) and inviting them to read The Book of Mormon. When we gave this man a book, his reaction was the best. He held it in his hands and he said "Wow. This feels like GOLD!" Little does he know, it is. I hope he reads it and finds comfort in it.
I have learned so many lessons in Jamul and I haven't even been here a week yet! I am constantly reminded that Salvation for souls is not easy. It wasn't easy for Jesus Christ so why should it be easy for us? Sister Wardinsky knows that if we are committed we will see success. So we are committed to being solid missionaries.
We have to rotate where we attend church each Sunday because the Hillsdale and Jamul wards start at the same time. This Sunday we went to the Jamul Sacrament Meeting. It was the best Sacrament Meeting I have ever been to; I'm not kidding. We walked in, tried to introduce ourselves to as many people as we could, and let me tell you, it is THE BEST replacing Elders because everyone was so excited to have sister missionaries!!! They can't believe it!! We gave a lot of hugs (don't worry--females only). :) When the Bishop stood up to announce the change and introduce us, he got a little emotional. Sister Wardinsky and I both agree that we probably were an answer to this Bishop's prayers. No pressure, but I really take it more as an honor. The Lord has trusted me to help this ward and I'm going to do everything in my power to help them. I feel like they are going to help ME more than I help them, but it's all part of the Lord's plan!
Taking the sacrament on Sunday was also really powerful for me. Just knowing that through Christ anything is possible, that he can help me do anything, he can make up for my weaknesses and he can help me improve and start over. After taking the water, I put the cup back in the tray and it felt like I was putting my mistakes in there as well. It's a new week, a new Sister Whitcomb. I will help change this ward! While the sacrament was still begin administered, I was flipping through the hymn book and came across a hymn that was unfamiliar to me. It's called "Lean on My Ample Arm" I liked the second verse best: "Lift up thy tearful eyes, Sad heart, to me; I am the sacrifice offered for thee. In me thy pain shall cease, In me is thy release, In me thou shalt have peace eternally." It hit me hard. So powerful.
A while back Sister Stewart and I were looking into an apartment complex where a potential investigator lived. We were in the wrong apartment complex, but we ran into a woman named Crystal. She is a young mom. We asked if she wanted to learn more about the gospel, and she did, and wants us to teach her child. We have been teaching her! On our first visit, she committed to be baptized and set a date!! That was a huge miracle and I'm so glad Sister Wardinsky was able to experience it. I'm excited about her future. If we hadn't opened our mouths to talk to her, we wouldn't have been able to take part in her miracle. Missionary life is great. Double covering (two areas) is awesome, and I am the luckiest sister missionary in the world!
As for Sister Stewart, no surprise to find out that she is now a sister training leader! She is over other sisters and she goes on exchanges with them and helps them. Sort of like a zone leader but for sisters. I was not surprised when they announced that--She is the BEST!!!
I want you all to know that I wouldn't want to be anywhere in the world but here in Hillsdale and Jamul. I want you to know how much I have grown over this week, and that I have complete trust and love in the Lord. I know that through him all things are possible. For everyone. Even you. Turn to him, pray to him daily. He loves you and wants to hear from you!! And I do as well! I can't even begin to express my love for all of you, and I would love to hear how all of your lives are going!!!! Miss you all!
Sister Whitcomb

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

She's leaving me!

SHE'S LEAVING ME!! Sister Stewart, my trainer, my Mom of my mission is getting transferred! And I'm taking over the area with a new companion!! Man, slightly heart broken. I love Sister Stewart. She made me who I am on the mission! I hope you all get to meet her someday, I love her a lot. Today's going to be my last day with her and tomorrow she figures out where she is going and I figure out who my new companion is. Oh boy, missions keep you on your toes!
This last week with my beloved companion has been a good one. ELIJAH GOT BAPTIZED!!!
He is the cutest! It was a really nice baptism, and Arthur, our recent convert, Elijah's cousin, baptized him!!! It was really cool, Arthur did a really good job, and don't worry--we filled up the font and Arthur only needed one try to get him under! He slammed him in the water, so that was great. :)
Of course it would not be a baptism for us if something funny/awkward didn't happen. So we closed the folding curtains and we asked the Elders to teach the Restoration while they were getting changed. Poor Elders. Arthur was trying to get the font unplugged, super loud. And then they banged on the curtain because they thought the door to the changing room was locked (it was not). Good times, good times. But I'm super proud of Elijah for making this decision especially since his family didn't show up and he's not getting a lot of support. He's a great kid and will be a great leader of the church someday! Super mature! I love baptisms! Make sure you go to them! Nothing more spiritual, especially a convert baptism! I was disappointed that not a lot of people showed up, and Eli wanted a lot of people. Go support everyone by going to their baptisms!!!
The Holy Ghost is alive and well in our lives and a lot of it has to do with the power of prayer. As a missionary I've never prayed more in my life, at least 20 times a day. And to seriously pray, not just say it in passing changes everything. Recently we've been stuck some days on where to go and what to do. So in those situations we stopped and said a prayer in the car. Most of the times we wouldn't think of a specific name, more of an area. Like one time my companion thought of this one area, we got there and tried a lady. She wasn't there. Then I thought of a less active family who I've never met but we've been trying and they've never been home. So we thought we would give it a try and what do you know, they were home! And she said she knows she needs to go back to church! Yay!! So that was a cool tiny miracle.
That happened another night when we were just walking on the street and we felt prompted to go down this road and then cross the street to talk to these guys. Super nice guys! And super interested in learning more and coming to church! It's always golden when you find those people searching for the truth and we found one by following the Holy Ghost! Heavenly Father knows all. It's so cool! And it's amazing, (I know I've said this before) how easily people trust us. It's crazy! We asked directions from this one lady and we then started talking about Christ and if she was interested and she wants us to teach her baby! She just brought us up to her house and in to meet her family. It was crazy! She just let complete strangers know where she lives. She is super sweet and I look forward to teaching her and getting to know her.
We've been dropping investigators a lot recently, some of them are just not progressing and we need to focus our time somewhere else where people are ready to hear the message. We dropped our investigator named Richard, our Seventh Day Adventist. He's the nicest guy, and took it really well. He said he would read The Book of Mormon more and then get back to us. Hopefully someday he will be ready and we can help him progress towards baptism. It's all in the Lord's time, not our own. That can be hard because we get transferred and don't always get to teach them to the end. But it's always an honor to be a part of their journey! I love it so much!
We taught our investigator Sky this week and he is progressing so much! He basically said the gospel is true but won't commit to a date. Dang. The Lord will help us help him. I know it. We also met with our investigator Josh Mahaffey, the Mahaffey's grandson. When we went into the lesson he had a huge notebook full of questions! It was so cool and it was even cooler that I was able to answer some of them! I never thought I'd be able to do that! The spirit helps me everyday! I just have to make sure I'm worthy enough to have it!
I always get so excited when people come to church!!! Church is the best thing ever but it's one of the hardest things to get an investigator to do! And they have to go to church at least three times before they are baptized, mission rule. So that can be frustrating! And recently we've been trying to get this sweet less-active woman to go--we've called her every Sunday morning to wake her up, we've stopped by her house once, and nothing. It can be really frustrating especially when you hear something in church and you know they need to hear it! JUST COME TO CHURCH!!! BUT this week, she came!!!! She is the sweetest thing ever and is going through a hard time and I could just see her soak it all up! She's progressed so much and I am sooo proud of her!!!!!
Also this Sunday, Sister Stewart and I had a hunch it would be our last Sunday in the ward together, so we decided we would perform a musical number. Sister Stewart is a GREAT violinist, so she played violin and I joined her on the piano. We did a nice arrangement of "Nearer My God to Thee." Of course we had the congregation flooding with tears! :) Just kidding. But it was really nice to get all the compliments after, and see how you are appreciated in the ward! I love this ward sooooo much and I am happy I don't have to leave yet! I'm super blessed!!
One of the primary counselors asked us and the other Elders to go into primary and tell the miracles of Christ raising people from the dead. We told the story like we were there when Christ performed the miracles. It was really cool and she had some clothes and head cloths she had from Jerusalem that we got to wear! It was legit! So fun! I felt so cool! And it was really fun to pretend I saw Christ perform those miracles and to see the little primary kids intently listen was so cool! Spirit was there for sure!
I love this work. And I know that no matter what happens for the rest of my mission that it's in the Lord's hand. And that I will go where ever the Lord wants me to go! I will try to touch as many people's hearts as I can! I will try my hardest not to mess up this area without Sister Stewart! But I know that the Lord can do anything and that if I lean on him, which I definitely will, I can do it! It's a great feeling knowing you can accomplish something hard. And missions are hard and I want to make every minute count! Hope my new companion does too!
Good luck with school starting, glad I'm not you! :)
And always remember who you are and how much you are worth. Don't let anyone tell you differently! Never, because I love all of you! And I will always support all of you in whatever you do! Remember, DON'T GIVE UP BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVED! (By me!)
Sister Whitcomb

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cali, baby!

Two of the cutest little girls in our ward--
Their mom took Jason Mraz's engagments pics and
their dad helps him write songs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

sooo... "we're missionaries!"

How are all of you?!? Life looks fantastic back in Massachusetts! LIFE COULDN'T BE ANYMORE FUN IN EL CAJON! Missionary life is the BEST! I know that I say this every week but it's true!! Thank you for all the letters! I feel so loved and I hope you do as well!
Eli's baptism is this Saturday! I'm pumped! That kid is AWESOME.
Probably in September we will get facebook.
Soooooo this past Wednesday we had MTEs, which is basically a training with a couple of zones and the mission president. This one was focused on the Holy Ghost and being in tune and helping your investigators be in tune. Because let's be real: I could not do this work without the Holy Ghost! So I left feeling inspired and I also left with a new companion! Sister Stakkeland, she is AWESOME! She is also Sister Stewart's Trainer! So that was cool to be with her for a day and to see what Sister Stewart got from her. She is sooooo bold in street contacting! Just goes straight up to people she hasn't seen and is like, "Hey, I have a question..." She rocks! I left feeling super inspired. So we had the training and then I brought her back to my area to see how we could apply what we just learned, and we were also trained and challenged to ask boldly and directly for people to be baptized. And then follow up if they say no. Also, to set a date for baptism. Soooo most of our appointments had cancelled but we dropped in on some new investigators we added on Monday, Donna and John. They can't read the small print Book of Mormon so we dropped by to read with them adn to give them a large print copy of The Book of Mormon. We were reading Enos chapter one. It was going really well and Donna really was enjoying it. We felt prompted to invite them to baptism. We did. They said no. We tried again, reassuring them how much God loves them and how this will lift their burdens. They still said no. Dang it. But we tried and we talked to A LOT of people, got some referrals for the Arabic elders, sisters in Pacific Beach and we got someone for us to contact later! Street contacting was sooo fun that day! We met someone named Noah--not the smoothest street contact but it was super funny! I walked up to him and I said, "I like your car." Noah says "Thanks." And then Sister Stakkeland says (pointing to our car) "This is our car." Noah says "Cool." And then we go "We're missionaries!" Smooth--I know. But he's interested! So that was solid! Awkward street contacting for the win! And even though our other appointment fell through, we were able to schedule a lot of appointments, meet a lot of people, and have a lot of laughs! It was so fun!
The next day was the follow up training where we have "a miracle report." Everyone is going up there and saying how they got three or four people with baptismal dates and added a ton of people. Then Sister Stakkeland leans over to me and says we should go up. And I'm thinking "and say WHAT?" But we did go up. We talked about how we got rejected with the baptismal date BUT we were able to talk to a lot of people and see miracles in the making. And then Sister Stakkeland wanted to act out our awkward street contact! And I'm like "uhhhhh... ok." So we did it. No one laughed. You could for sure hear crickets. I guess I just always have to embarrass myself every big mission meeting! (But don't worry--they actually asked me to play piano again, and I did well! And they had me play the same song I messed up on last time and I nailed it!!! Redemption is real!) but I had a great time with Sister Stakkeland. She is hilarious and shares my love for Chinese food! One thing I loved at our follow up training is how we talked about how we can receive personal revelation through music. It brings such a spirit, prelude music especially. That's why going to meetings early is so important, and I always feel so honored to play. It definitely relaxes me a lot. When President Schmitt was talking about the influence of music he just had me right there. And then I go and play "I Stand All Amazed ." It was really cool--the spirit was so strong. Music is the best! And that's why I think Mormon Messages are so powerful! General Authorities speaking plus spiritual music is life changing! It was great.
our zone
I had a really great district meeting this past Friday. Our district leader Elder Avery had us start out by going into the chapel and having a testimony meeting. It was super cool. I went up there and talked about how much I've been able to draw closer to my Savior through the mission. I have never thought about the Atonement so in-depth before, but studying His life and teachings everyday has helped me to. I know that he literally felt my pains specifically and that for a moment in time when he suffered he thought about how much he loved ME and how much he knew it would be worth it to help ME. I know I can go to my Savior for anything and I know when he was tortured and whipped and nailed to the cross he did it for ME. And also all of YOU. I've never believed something so strongly. I quoted one of my favorite hymns, "Abide With Me." In the last verse it says "I need thy presence every passing hour. What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power? Who like thyself, my guide and stay can be? Through cloud and sunshine Lord, abide with me." I loved bearing my testimony and talking about how I know that my Savior lives and loves me. After that we went back to the Relief Society room and Elder Avery had a box that was made of cardboard, little pieces all stacked on top of one another. On the front it said "Satan's power" basically representing all the things bad and all the ways we've suffered because of him. And then he brought a hammer and nail out and had us put some holes in it representing all the people we know who have suffered and all the things we have suffered through. I put way more holes in it than everyone else, took it pretty seriously. But Elder Avery peeled away the first layer of cardboard and there was a picture of the Savior, holes in his face, representing the punishment and pain he has taken for us. That hit me hard. Such a powerful object lesson. It was so awesome. My favorite district meeting! The atonement is awesome and I don't know what I would do without it!
This past week we have worked hard trying to find new people to teach. We found four, and hopefully they will turn out solid! I pray everyday for those people, and that they might cross our paths and that we will have the courage to talk to them! I know it is through my faith and hard work that it will happen! But you also have to have a little fun on the mission! And Sister Stewart and I make sure we do! One of our favorite things is to lip sync in the car. :)
I LOVE YOU ALL!!! I hope you all look for the hand of God in your life, he is there and he is waiting for you to let him in. SO LET HIM IN! It's not that hard, just do scripture study, pray, go to church, love your family, serve others! And I promise you, God will bless you and the best part is, that you will be happy!
Sister Whitcomb

in sync

Monday, August 10, 2015

rescuing souls -and- bunnies

How for art thou?
I miss you tons!
But of course I couldn't be more happy!
Life is so good, a couple of bumps in the road but we keep cruising! San Diego is bright and sunny, sometimes a little too hot and some humidity has sneaked up on us. But I can't complain! Miracles are happening everyday.
On Wednesday we had a lesson with Elijah and Arthur (Arthur is the recent convert we baptized a month ago). It was going pretty well, but we did get scared because Arthur's testimony was shaky and not really there. We tried to answer his questions and reassure him but nothing was really working. Elijah the 12 year old stood strong no matter what was being said, and he kept saying he knew the gospel was true. Love that kid! We left the lesson feeling really shaky and overwhelmed. And for the first time on my mission (yes this was a first) I let a couple of tears go. It made me sad. I could even feel that there was contention creeping up in my companionship with Sister Stewart a little bit. We talked it out, made a game plan, called some leaders and kept right on going.
So we had a lesson a couple of days later and it was better; not completely but better none the less. We taught him the law of tithing. And I was amazed with how well Elijah took it. He took it so well that right after we explained it and we were about to move on to fasting, he jumped up, grabbed a tithing slip and asked us to help him fill it out. IT WAS SOOOO COOL! Even before he was baptized he wanted to pay tithing! He inspires me. We had another lesson this Sunday, and our concerns for Arthur were basically swiped clean. The ward members really helped him. It's just a testimony to me that recent converts need friends besides the missionaries to stay active and build on their testimonies!! So ask the missionaries who you can help!!!! Missionaries always need it and appreciate it!!!
But anyway, back to the lesson, it was right after church, and it was fast and testimony meeting. Well we go to our lesson and Eli tells us that he's fasting!!! Once again, HE'S SO COOL!! I definitely did not fast before I was baptized, so to see him do this is just so awesome. The Lord prepares so many people it blows me away! So the week started out shaky but ended super solid!!! We've been praying real hard as a companionship and the Lord has answered our prayers. Our hard work is paying off!!!
This past Friday we also had District meeting and it was SUPER fun! Our District leader prepared a lesson about likening the scriptures to ourselves, and how in order to help our investigators do that, we have to know how to do it ourselves. So we had a scripture chase! He cut out lambs and they were hidden around the church building and we had to read the scriptures, liken them unto ourselves, to find the lamb, and of course it was a competition against the other missionaries. My favorite one was 3 Nephi 27:29, "Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened." When we read this my first thought was the front door, but nothing. Then I remembered my district leader said he and his companion would be in the gym while we were looking for the lambs. So I knocked on the gym door, they said come in, we asked for the lamb and BANG! We got it. Super creative. In the end we tied with the Elders. But super cool and fun. We then got back and taught part of the Restoration, using only scriptures from The Book of Mormon that we were to apply in the lesson. It's gone quite well! We have to use The Book of Mormon, since it's one thing that makes our church unique. It holds our church together! SO READ IT! I can promise you will be edified each time.
We also had a really cool experience at a member's home on Saturday. She's a cute spunky older lady and her husband is not a member. She asked us to share a message about the importance of spending time with your family. I LOVED IT! Studying for it was so fun and it made me so very grateful for the family that I do have and all the memories I have made with all of you! But most importantly we went over the fact that we are all a part of God's family, and that he's looking out for us and one way he has done that is by giving us our earthly family. I know for sure that my whole family was placed in my life for a reason and I am forever grateful for that! We shared a verse and the chorus from the primary song "The Family is of God." It goes, "Our Father has a family, it's me, it's you, all others too, we are His children. He sent each one of us to earth, through birth, to live and learn here in families... God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be--this is how He shares His love, for the family is of God." It really touched the member when we shared that.
And we also shared a video called "Our Fun Family Vacation." LOOK IT UP!
It's so cute and reminds me of how much fun I have with my family and how much more fun I can have with them! But I love how it talks about the importance of spending time with family. Prioritize yourself! What's more important, a phone call, technology, even work, or your family? Families are eternal. Other things are not. I love the quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf that says, "Love is spelled T-I-M-E. Time."
Show your love by sacrificing your time! Plan something fun, do something nice! And remember that when you serve others, you serve God as well.
I hope all of you know how much I love you and how much I cherish each relationship with all of you. My companion knows so many things about all of you. Sometimes we might or might not laugh at all of you. But just know that I love you!
And it's amazing that Heavenly Father has allowed me to love others, complete strangers, just as much as I love all of you! They are my brothers and sisters, children of God and I want them to have the best gift possible! This gospel.
We had some really cool experiences with street contacting this week that were definitely not a coincidence. We met super cute families, people that have taken lessons from missionaries before, and people who are struggling. We set up a lot of appointments for this week and I am so excited to see the Lord's hand even more in this work!
This morning something kind of cool happened. So today was not a running day, so Sister Stewart and I were enjoying a very nice and cool, yet sunny morning walk. When all of a sudden we spot a bunny in the road, still alive, but not moving. Sister Steward did not want to touch the bunny but I could not leave it in the road to die! So I slowly approached it, seeing if it would run away, but the bunny did not. So I picked her up and put her in a bush. She just sat there, but we kept walking. We turned around, due to limited exercising time and walked back. When we came back the bunny had not moved. It looked hurt, bleeding a little from it's nose and behind it's eye. So I gently picked it up and carried it home.
That's right--I carried a cute soft bunny home! And she almost fell asleep! We just put the bunny on the front porch and called some animal rescue place to see if they could help. Her leg was a little bent and she was bleeding. We checked on her every so often--she didn't move but she was still breathing! We moved her away from the door and into the bushy area, hopefully she'll get out of there soon or the rescue place will call us! My companion told me I had done my good deed for the day. Feels good. Really good. Hopefully Tippy won't eat her. He better not.
El Cajon couldn't be treating me better! Super nice members, we got fed almost every night last week! That was legit, and I haven't gained any weight so that's even more legit! Transfers are coming up in two weeks. AHHHHHHHH!!!!! I'm almost done with training!!! Super weird but I can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for me! Love you all!!
Sister Whitcomb
P.S. This is one of our favorite members! Sister Krage is the bomb and she always feeds us healthy food and it's always SOOOOOOOO delicious! We love it and her. (Polka dots for days!!)