Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

transfer day means LOTS of waiting

Hellloooo my family!!!!!!!
So let me tell you about transfer day.
You know it's coming, you know there is a possibility of change and you are so scared for it. You know it's in the Lord's plan but you just want to KNOW the Lord's plan; if you're leaving, if you're staying, if you're getting a new companion, if you're training, if you're going to be in a unknown... it's the worst. And Tuesday morning waiting for the call from our zone leaders is torture. Studies are hard, knowing the call is coming! So we will either get a call and our Zone leaders will tell us the change or we will get a text saying that the calls were made and if we did not get a call we are staying. Anticipation: it's the worst. Today our zone leaders took FOREVER to call us. We actually called them to make sure they were okay. It took that long and all the sisters were texting us to see if we had any changes. And we were just like, WE DON'T KNOW AND IT'S KILLING US!!!
Finally, three hours later, they called us, and guess what... I'm getting transferred!
Saddest day ever. I'm leaving one of the coolest companions, coolest areas, coolest zones, coolest wards, and coolest missionaries and investigators! It definitely chipped at my heart a little bit. But that's okay! I'm going where the Lord wants me to go and I'm going to be happy about it! :)
I'll let you know next week what happens! :)

[editor's note:  from a parent's perspective, waiting a week to hear what happened to your missionary daughter after she says she is being transferred is much MUCH worse than waiting a few hours for a phone call from the zone leaders.]

Man, I love missions. They are just the best. Everyone needs to go on one, whether they have wrinkles or not! I'm definitely serving another one when I have more wrinkles!! They are the best change for your life. Anyway, HOW IS EVERYONE???
Thanks so much for all the love in emails and letters. I always love Tuesdays and hearing how everyone is doing and how fun life is!
I love my areas. I feel like I've been sent to two of the best areas in the whole entire mission. The missionaries in my zone are so very humble, it's a pleasure to learn from all of them. The leaders in these wards are always here for us and always willing to do whatever we ask of them. I hope to be as good of a member as they all are. To be honest thought it's hard to picture life not being a missionary--this is what I want to do all the time because I've never been more happy in my life!
So finally we did something fun on p-day besides play sports at the church. Not that I don't enjoy that, but I do like getting out of my area sometimes. Last Tuesday we went to Balboa Park, a really pretty nature park with a bunch of museums. On Tuesdays they are free to the residents of California! (Can you believe I'm technically a resident of California? Weird.)
Sister Whitcomb in Balboa Park
One of the elders who went home today wanted to go to the Air and Space museum, so we did. It was okay. Not picture worthy. My companion reminded me that it wasn't going to be the Smithsonian or anything. I guess living out East puts your expectations high. Then we also went to the Car museum. It was actually pretty cool and I found a sign that said Boston on it, so of course I took a picture!
Then we heard there were cultural houses that we could walk through. They are basically houses from all over the world, like Iran, Sweden, Poland, China etc. It just shows what their houses and cultures are like. Only the Iran house was open. The concept was really cool. Of course I took a picture near the Sweden house!
There is a person in every house who answers questions. The man in the Iran house was really into the cultural part, and it just so happens that the Hillsdale Ward was having a cultural night on Friday, where members of our Ward volunteered to set up booths about a country they really know well, whether they served a mission or it's where their relatives are from. It was an awesome activity! And I had the thought to invite him to it, so I pulled out a flyer and Sister Wardinsky and I invited him. No rest for missionary work! Even on p-day! And guess what: HE ACTUALLY CAME! The Arabic Elders were able to show him around, and he actually knew one of our former investigators that came to the activity as well! It was a great activity. Our ward mission leader planned it and he did a great job! All the booths were beautifully set up, there was live guitar music in the background, Puawai, the WML's daughter performed a Samoan dance and it was sooo cool!
They handed out passports so people going around to the booths and trying the foods could get their passports stamped and write down a fact about each country. It was a really cool idea! At the end of the night we had a trivia game about all the countries. Super fun! And we were in charge of counting nonmembers in attendance, and we counted 23! It was awesome, for their first cultural activity, it was a great success!
You know you're a missionary when you feel guilty for updating your iPad and then you get the text telling you not to update. I felt guilty ALLL day. It was bad. In the end it didn't matter because my iPad was fine, but other people who updated ended up with frozen iPads. Being a missionary makes me feel guilty with every little mistake I make! It's good for me, I guess.
Wednesdays are always our busy days in Jamul. We call them our PB&J days because we are so busy out in Jamul which is no where near our house, and there is no restaurant there. We just stop at a rest stop, (the only one for miles and miles) sit on the picnic bench and pull out the PB&Js. It's always a great day to be a missionary--especially when you are busy! We had several lessons that day, got lost multiple times, and we drove on the bumpiest dirt roads I've ever been on. But I loved it all! We had dinner at an investigator's house, with his awesome kids! It was so cool to see that side of them and so nice to see that they actually like us enough to have us over for dinner! It was sweet!
Thursday was a day of cancellations and weekly planning. Also a day full of moments of growth and revelation. Those are the best days, I love to reflect on them! I definitely had a great journal entry on that day!
Friday we had an awesome lesson with an investigator in Jamul. She is getting baptized soon! I can feel it. We also had district meeting and beforehand my district leader asked me to prepare to be in a role play; to think of being someone who is nice but not interested in the message. It was really revelatory. I picked someone close to my heart and had a great testimony builder for how members play an important role. I had my companion play the role of a member and during the role play she just piped up and asked me really inspired questions. It just testifies to me the importance of members knowing investigators and members being at lessons and introducing their friends to the missionaries. Makes things so much better!
Saturday finally came! We had been waiting forever for the General Womens' Broadcast and it was so worth the wait! All of you need to watch it, male or female! We had an investigator watch it at the church with all the ladies and the talks totally fit her needs and struggles. It was PERFECT! I love inspired people, especially women, they are the best! Also we went to a recent convert's house. We hadn't seen her at church so we were checking up on her. She's the sweetest!
She was just a little sick but is amazing now! We commented on her reading, it was a Teachings of the Presidents book, I believe Harold B. Lee, and she just goes, "Isn't he handsome?" (referring to the prophet's picture on the front) "He's such a fox!" I died. It was HILARIOUS! I love people!
Sunday we were on splits again and the members are always so wonderful to go out with us! It's really fun. :)
I was in Hillsdale Ward. Unfortunately we had no investigators but we had two in Jamul! And the Arabic Elders had three investigators there! Now that is really a miracle. Arabic work is hard. And I just have to share their experience with all of you. So a pair of the Elders get a phone call at 10 pm one night and it's this Chaldean man who relates this experience to them. So apparently this Chaldean man saw an older man get hit by a car, he goes out to help him, and this other man comes as well. And the other man has an Arabic book, and it so happens to be The Book of Mormon. He asks if he can have it and of course the man gives it to him. Inside the book is a card with the Arabic Elders phone number on it. He calls it, and he tells them he wants to learn more! So crazy, right! I talked to him at church and he loved it! I can't wait to see what will happen! Fast and Testimony meeting is always awesome! Almost all the missionaries got up to bear their testimonies, including me! It was awesome, all of us have super strong testimonies of our Savior. It's legit! I love it. :)
Yesterday was a slow but not slow day. We got to watch Elder Scott's funeral. It was really sad. He was such a great man! And then our appointment cancelled on us, but we got to do service for Ednis Smith at La Vida Real! She's so sassy I love it! She always makes my day better. :) And we added a British man last night! Missionary work is alive and well here! And I love and feel so honored to be a part of it.
I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Never change. Always follow our Savior and you'll be the happiest you've ever been!
Sister Whitcomb

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Don't panic: I know CPR (and I know how to use my keys as a weapon!)

To answer Dad's question, yes, I have used my Spanish, especially being out in Jamul. Has it been very good? No. Haha. I've been able to say, "Hello, What's your name? How are you? My name is Sister Whitcomb and we are missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." And then we just give them a pamphlet in Spanish. I know, not super effective, but I'll get better and become more confident. Most people who speak Spanish understand a little English so my Spanglish is on point! :)
I'm so glad everyone is doing well and laughing a lot! I've found that a laugh makes everything better, even if we laugh at how many appointments get cancelled, but mostly we laugh at my reactions to things. I'm working on my reactions to rejections--it's a work in progress but it's getting better. Sister Wardinsky is pro at that! After we get rejected she always puts on a big smile and says "Have a WONDERFUL day!" I'm learning from her example.
This week was full of miracles!!! I mean everyday is a miracle as a missionary. Sometimes I'm amazed I make it my bed every night: MIRACLE!
On Wednesday we went on exchanges with our STLs. I stayed in our area and Sister Wardinsky went to the Santee area. I was joined by Sister Wilson for 24 hours! It was a blast and we taught so much! We were running from appointment to appointment and it was the bomb dot com! And on the plus side we got a member to drive us around for three hours to three different lessons! A huge miracle in the missionary world! She was so good in lessons, she saved us miles and she was a great friend to all of the investigators! She better go on a mission--she's already a pro! So, if you can ever give the missionaries a ride, do it. We appreciate it and we know you'll be blessed!  :)
We taught three investigators in Jamul. They weren't super solid lessons, but that's okay! People in Jamul tend to be isolated because they want to be isolated, so that's a challenge. But we are always able to find super nice people! At one of the lessons we went to, the investigator asked us to go help her neighbor quickly because she really needed help. We were like Okay, why not? And I was picturing an older woman, but alas, I was wrong. We go down there (and mind you, as I'm explaining this, it all happened within about 30 seconds) and this woman who is barely dressed comes running up to us and asked if we were Jehovah's Witnesses and if we had devoted our lives to Christ. Of course I ended up doing the talking because I think the other two were just as speechless as she came out of nowhere and was very eager and very loud. Then a lady started screaming at us from the porch to get away from her and then two cop cars pull up and two cops jump out with bullet proof vests on. At that point I just wanted to disappear in the background! Haha we were all super confused and not entirely sure what happened, (I'm still not sure) but we made it out alive! Thank goodness!
All in all I really realized how important commitments are. As missionaries we can't make anybody do anything, we teach and invite and leave it in their hands. That's all we can do. It can be frustrating when people don't keep commitments--it makes me sad more than anything. They are withholding so many blessings from themselves! THIS GOSPEL IS SO GOOD AND ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS GO TO CHURCH, PRAY, AND READ THE SCRIPTURES! As missionaries we call that CPR. (C=Church, P=Pray, R=Read) It's vital for life and it's so true.
I still love everyone and I've made great connections with people, and then that makes it even harder to let someone go when they aren't making commitments. Had to do that yesterday but I know it's for the best. Other missionaries will come along and I know they will be ready!
Thursday I got Sister Wardinsky back! I missed her. She's a blessing in my life!
Anyway, funny experience: we were trying to contact a media referral from a while back. (Media referral meaning someone who went to a church site or was exposed to some church media and wanted to hear more, so they give their contact information.) We were struggling. The address was in Dulzura, CA, aka the middle of nowhere. There is one rest stop and their post office is the size of a bedroom, maybe. But we were on this super bumpy dirt road, going five mph so tiwi wouldn't yell at me. We drive up to this house, and we think it's the one. All of a sudden I see six or eight dogs, but they looked like wolves charging at us. I knew Sister Wardinsky wasn't going to get out of the car, she is TERRIFIED of dogs. So I start emergency backing up, (generally, as a missionary when you back up your companion has to get out of the car to make sure you don't hit anything) and I think Sister Wardinsky was half laughing, half crying. It was quite the funny experience. Good times in Dulzura. Then later that night was a huge miracle. But just to back up, on exchanges, Sister Wilson and the member (Brookelynn Goodrich) and I tried an investigator who the Elders previously weren't really visiting. His name is Doug, he is super nice, has some different views on things but sincerely asked us if he could come to church. Of course we said yes! Then apparently Doug was trying to get a hold of us so he called the mission office. So we had calls from the mission office and the zone leaders that day, and we thought we were in trouble! But Doug just wanted to reach us, so we called him adn he basically asked us if he could be baptized!!!!! What?!?!?! He has read all of The Book of Mormon, knows it's true, and is just basically asking for help to find his way. Basically, what he said is "I'M PUMPED!!!!" And then the next day he called us again and wanted to set a baptismal date for him!!!! So cool, this work is awesome! So I'm excited to work with Doug!
Also a cool thing that we've been doing, like I've said before, is singing during lessons or on the street or whatever. So one night we ran into a less active who is really struggling. We were talking to her and I felt prompted that we needed to sing "I Need Thee Every Hour." I pulled it up on my iPad, flashed it to my companion so she knew what I was going to say. And we sang it. Super powerful! My companion and the less active started sobbing. I know--surprise, surprise! It wasn't me!
Hymns are super powerful! Also remember those self defense classes they would make us take in High School? Pay attention. I haven't had to use it, but knowing how to use my keys as a weapon as we are walking around at 8:30 at night makes my companion feel safe and laugh. She knows it's serious when I pull out the keys and have them sticking out from my knuckles. I'm sure I painted a great picture for all of you!
No need to be scared, just laugh! Sister Whitcomb can get fancy with the keys! ;)
My favorite day of the week...... SUNDAY!!!! The title for my journal on Sunday was "Sunday Funday!"
Because man, it was a fun day! We did our splits ordeal again and I was in Jamul this week. But before I tell you about Sunday let me tell you about the preparation for Sunday. We were given the idea by President Schmitt to fit all the meetings to our investigators. Call the speakers, Gospel Doctrine teacher, RSP and EQP and tell them what the needs of your investigators are and have them address it in the lesson. So we did that. And man, was Sunday powerful. In Hillsdale we had two investigators come and two less actives! And Sister Wardinsky said Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School was perfect for them! Couldn't get better! And I was SO happy to hear that!
In Jamul it was the primary program, so that just made it fantastic! I love kids! And Jamul had two investigators there as well, including Doug! I was pumped! And Doug loved the primary program, LOVED it, and they talked about baptism in it, it was perfect! And Doug walked out of Gospel Doctrine with exactly what he needed. It was AWESOME! And plus I got to partake of the Sacrament--never can complain about that! Just a smiley day! :)
Yesterday was AWESOME!
A few weeks ago I met a Russian woman on the street and offered to give her a church tour. She accepted. And yesterday was the day and she actually showed up! That in itself was a miracle, at least I think so. So we had the tour and while we were giving it to her we just taught the lesson, The Message of the Restoration. I felt pretty clever while doing that. Throughout the whole tour I could feel the spirit. She loved the building, she loved what we were talking about and when we entered into the Chapel she got instant goosebumps. I saw them, and she said she felt so good! We watched the four minute Restoration Video and she loved it! She wants to come to church this Sunday, and literally like two hours ago we saw her in the grocery store and she said, "See you Sunday!" I'm pumped!!! Church tours are the BEST! The spirit speaks all languages and I can not wait to see what a Russian Book of Mormon looks like. And a member in our ward speaks Russian! No coincidences in the Lord's work! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Always rely on the Lord. Never leave him, he'll never leave you!
Sister Whitcomb

P.S. At La Vida Real, we had dinner with our favorite famous Ednis Smith and some other members. They wanted a picture of us to post on the FB page for Mission Mamas. Ednis is one of my favorites! She cracks me up!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Chill the phone: dead frogs, big dogs, dented trucks--and candy noodles for dinner

Hola Mi Familia!!!!!!
How are you?!?!?! I miss you!!! AND HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY ABBEY!!!!!
This week has been fun, trying, full of new knowledge and the spirit! Everything I could ever want it to be! We've been struggling to find new people to teach and we really just want to make a difference in these two wards. I love them. They've become a new family and I just want the best for them and I want to be able to lift some of the burdens from them. Evaluating and setting goals is a huge help to Sister Wardinsky and I.
Seriously, he will.
Last Tuesday, to finish up our preparation day we got to go to the Temple with our recent convert Elijah, the 12 year old who received the Priesthood last week! I feel so blessed that President Schmitt has allowed us to go to the Temple with our new investigators if it's their first time! This is my second time doing this and I love it!
Elijah is the sweetest boy and has such a pure heart! He is the only member in his immediate family. That must be soo hard but the ward is so good to him, giving him rides, getting him white shirts, and just being his second family! He was all smiles when he got to do baptisms for the dead, and I just had to share the same feelings he did! I could just feel those people rejoicing as the proxy baptisms were happening, nothing can describe that feeling! And of course I know that's the closest I'll come to swimming in any pool for now! But it's the best thing to do! And I hope I get to see other converts go to the temple for the first time! I can't wait until Taylor actually goes through the temple! I know she's excited too! Also when we talked to Elijah about his experience this past Sunday, he was just beaming, he wanted to go again, and he just wants to go to the Celestial room and when we told him he could see pictures, he was like "WHAT?!" It was really cool.
Everyone should be as pumped as he was about the temple.
Wednesday was a go go go day. We finally met all the investigators the Elders were teaching previously in Jamul. I'm not sure how solid all of them are. Sometimes people get confused and think we are there for a social visit, when we are really there to preach the gospel! So I'm becoming better at slipping gospel principles into things you don't think would relate, like dead frogs, big dogs, dented trucks... I've been pretty impressed with myself. Trust me, everything connects back to our loving Heavenly Father. Try it sometime! Who knows, you could see a miracle!
Thursday we went over to a members house who has not been coming to church for a long time. We set an appointment and when we got there, right off the bat they said they aren't coming to church anytime soon.
That appointment made me really sad. Someone had the gospel and then chose to just give it up, to reject everything we said, to have a counter argument--I knew all I could do was to bear my testimony. I hope they felt the spirit because I sure did. Let me tell you I know without a doubt that this book, The Book of Mormon is true. It has changed my life in so many ways, all for the better. I know I need this book everyday of my life. And I know if you give it a chance, read it, pray about it, ask the ultimate source, Heavenly Father, if it is true, in His time you will get an answer. And when you do IT'S AWESOME!!! Literally the best thing ever! There's no denying it, and it makes you do crazy things like go on a mission! The happiest moments of my life. Trust me. I know.
Friday was a big night in Jamul, it was their annual Emergency Preparedness Activity. They advertised this a lot, all throughout the community, in newspapers, all over! And we gave out flyers to so many strangers in Jamul and El Cajon it was awesome! Booths from all over the place were set up at the church. The border patrol, the fire department, pest control, and so on. But the best booth I'd have to say was the spiritual preparedness booth. THAT WAS US! We set up a booth with copies of The Book of Mormon, pamphlets, cards, had "I am a Mormon" playing, had brochures on what our leaders have counseled us to do for finances and food storage and we offered church tours. We got to give one, and he said he would come to church. He did not. Hundreds of people were there, no one interested in learning more, but we gave people our number and we planted a lot of seeds! I was sad we couldn't see much of the fruits of our labor BUT my trainer always told me you can count how many seeds are in an apple but you can't count how many apples are in a seed. I'll never know how all my efforts pan out so I jus thave ot keep moving forward, always improving, and that's what I plan on doing!
The most noteworthy thing that happened this past Saturday was our dinner. You know how missionaries generally get asked what was the worst food they've ever had on their missions--I thought I wouldn't have one, but now I do: Noodles, with green beans, yellow beans and pinto beans all in a mixture of vinegar, sugar and corn starch. Enough said.
Please don't try this at home. Please don't feed this to your missionaries.
Despite what has been said it is NOT candy.
Sunday is always a wonderful day. We had splits again in both wards, which was less stressful this time. The wonderful Sister Lamp was my companion. She is super spunky and I LOVE HER! Apparently I'm sort of related to her! More connections to Aunt Joy!
So her daughter-in-law, Jeri Lamp, who used to be Jeri Wilde--her sister is married to Aunt Joy's brother, or so I'm told! Crazy, crazy. I love it!!!!
I was asked to teach the gospel principles lesson on developing Talents. That was slightly stressful, since I knew I wouldn't have my companion, but it was AWESOME! Getting people to discuss is the best. And most of the time it brings a strong spirit. Sky was there--SO COOL! Love it when investigators come to church. Funny story: so it was a go go go day on Sunday because we had to get back together as companions after church, eat lunch/study, had two appointments, a dinner appointment and through it all we lost the phone. We started to panic, but tried to keep calm at the same time. We tried knocking on someone's door who we had an appointment with that day, but had no luck. We used the Mahaffeys' iphone to call it, no luck. We called the Elders to let them know not to panic if we don't pick up the phone--we are okay! And then Sister Wardinsky thought it might be in the fridge. Okay, that's random, I thought, and guess what? It was in the fridge. Good times, good times.
the zone, with President and Sister Schmitt
Yesterday was FANTASTIC! Had one of the best zone conferences EVER! It was all about member missionary work, how we can help members, what we can invite them to do, how we can commit them, how we can help them. And let me tell you we can honestly not do this work without the members, so if your missionaries aren't committing you to do something, make them! When they ask "Is there anything we can do for you?" (Classic missionary question) SAY YES! And then ask for help with missionary work! Whether it's with a person or not a certain person, ask for help, make them commit you to do something, adn have them follow up with you! Also--watch the video "I'll Go Where you Want Me to Go," it's FANTASTIC! So inspired. I could go on and on about this conference but I will spare you the details and instead send future emails and let you know the miracles that come from it.
Know that I'm always cheering for you and I never give up on any of you! (I love you too much!)
Sister Whitcomb

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

bread cookies beat Taco Bell -or- Ricky and the border patrol

Hey Howdy Hey!!!
How's my favorite bunch of family and friends?
It's so good to see all the pictures, funny videos and to see you all thriving in the gospel!
That truly is a blessing in my life! And thank you for writing me, I really appreciate it. It's not always easy to write back immediately but I try to do my best, be patient with me.
This week, there were ups and downs all around.
Laughs, some tears, but I'm getting further up my mountain!
Sister Wardinsky and I have really been trying to seek answers to how we can get creative in our missionary service to see the fruits of our labors. So we got an impression that we should sing to people, whether in lessons or on the street. So we went into La Vida Real to see a less active older member. She's the sweetest thing; we taught her a quick message and scripture about how Heavenly Father loves us and how we are his children. So we decided to sing her one verse of "I am a Child of God."
I really enjoyed it, felt the spirit and we were in tune. Pretty good, right? So after we finish, this older lovely lady goes "Well that was interesting."
Sweet. Thanks. We laugh about it all the time!
Also we recently baked cookies for different missionaries who were having birthdays, but they didn't come out too good. More like bread cookies, you know? Really, it was my fault, haha, go figure! Anyways, we had a bag of them in our car to give to an Elder when we were gonna see him. But we stopped at one of  our investigators homes who we haven't seen in a while. When we saw him he was super hungry and needed food! So we grabbed that bag of bread cookies. Perfect! He didn't have too many teeth, so he could eat the soft cookies. As we were leaving he yelled out to us "Whoever baked these cookies knew what they were doing!"
Haha that was awesome! Heavenly Father knew they had to be bread cookies!
Not only can we be inspired missionaries, we can be inspired cooks as well!
I have recently been able to be very heart-felt every single time I bear my testimony. It makes it so much more meaningful for me and the person we are teaching. I know what we are teaching is true, and I hope they see how much of my heart is in this, because it's ALL of my heart!
And can I just say how AWESOME the bishop is in the Jamul Ward?!?!? So awesome!! He takes us out to get to know the area better, and so we don't have to use all our miles on the car. He is sort of being the ward mission leader since the current one is pretty sick. He helps us in any way that he can and always shows his support! And I figured out that the Isoms in the Jamul ward know Aunt Joy! Janelle Isom grew up with Aunt Joy in the Granite Hills ward, which is in my stake! She just randomly asked me if I knew her and Uncle Ben since I was from Massachusetts! She just thought she would try... And apparently Aunt Joy is related to Rebecca Seiley somehow (the Bishop's wife). So somehow I am connected to the Seileys?!?! If that's true, SO COOL!
On Friday we had a really GREAT zone meeting. It was all genius guidance and counsel, but my favorite part is when they brought up the parable of the unprofitable servant. It's found in Luke 17:6-10. It talks about how this servant is commanded to do all that his master has asked him to do, and he should expect no thanks. Interesting. But if we look at it as the Lord as our master and we are the servants, we are already in teh Lord's debt. He has done everything for us and we will NEVER be able to pay him back, no matter what we do. So no matter how hard I work on my mission, I shouldn't necessarily expect anything, but I owe him everything! We should do everything out of love for the Lord and our Savior. And when we go the extra mile it will increase our faith in them. Our zone leaders challenged us to ask ourselves: "What can you give up to be a better servant for our Savior?"
That's something I'm asking myself everyday and something that I'm working on everyday. I challenge everyone to do the same as well. It totally makes you humble.
My zone found out that I had never been to Taco Bell and thought that apparently I was deprived. (I didn't think so) So for our zone lunch we all went to Taco Bell, so I can now say I've gone there. It was alright, but hopefully I won't have to go ever again.
the zone
We are also teaching Sky more regularly. He is such a great guy, the definition of humble and I can't wait for him to grow closer to our Savior and follow his example. He's amazing, his family is amazing as well! I love their family so much! And it's true--you get connected to these people a lot. No matter what happens, no matter what decision they make, I will always love the people I've come to know and teach. They will be a part of my life forever. Nothing will take these experiences and memories away from me, and it helps that I write in my journal every night or I'd totally forget! That's what I look at when I write my letter--so write in your journal! Plus it's always fun to laugh at yourself.
Saturday was AMAZING!
We had a church tour with our investigator Michael. This was the first time Sister Wardinsky and I had ever given a church tour. Pretty exciting! And let me tell you, the spirit was sooooo strong. We walked through all the rooms of the church, showed him where he would go for classes, explained some pictures on the walls, and of course we saved the Chapel for last. When we entered, we hit a wall of spirit and he committed right there to go to church and said he was excited for the experience. IT WAS AWESOME! We also found someone else to teach in the Hillsdale ward--her name is Louisa, but she likes to be called Lucha! She is a fireball!
At 7:45 at night we knocked on her door because she had talked to missionaries before and she let us right in.
The first thing she said to us when we sat down was "How did you know I love to talk about the Lord?" Such a funny and sweet lady with a lot of stories and a huge love for our Savior. We started talking about what we believe and when I started to explain prophets and what they are and how God never changes she immediately asks "Where do you meet for church?"
That was so cool. She said she wouldn't be able to come this Sunday, but we are planning to give her a church tour this week and I'm pumped!! We showed her the Because He Lives video and she LOVED that. Before we left she blessed us by doing the cross on our forehead, and she gave us a big hug, and if I'm not mistaken I'm pretty sure she had tears in her eyes as we were leaving. She has a big heart and I love her already just with the half hour we spent with her! Good times to come with Lucha!
And the Sabbath, always the best day of the week, and it was Fast Sunday! So even better! Bishop Seiley in the Jamul Ward had asked us to fast for the missionary work to move forward and we have a lot of sick members in our ward, so to fast for them as well. It was quite a privilege to fast for all of them, such amazing and faithful people. I love them all! Sister Wardinsky and I decided to do splits this last Sunday with Sisters in the Hillsdale and Jamul Wards so we could cover both wards, since they start at the same time. So we went to the Jamul Ward Council and then split from there. She went to Hillsdale and I stayed in Jamul. It was an amazing testimony meeting and I felt prompted to go up, since I'm pretty new to the ward. Of course I introduced myself adn explained why I didn't have a companion with me and started expressing our gratitude for the members and how they don't even know how much impact they've had on us. Of course then the waterworks started coming (I blame and thank my mom for that). I have such a strong testimony of my Savior, how he has felt everything that I've ever felt or anyone has ever felt, how prayer is a powerful tool we can use everyday, and how we are never alone. I love the fourth verse of "How Firm a Foundation." It says "Fear not, I am with thee, o be not dismayed. For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I'll strengthen thee and help thee and cause thee to stand. Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand."
I quoted that in my testimony and I felt the spirit so strongly. I know that I have no need to fear, I know that my Savior and Heavenly Father are always right there to protect me and I have felt that in my life. My companion also bore her testimony in Hillsdale. People told me it was very powerful. She quoted from the First Vision and bore her testimony on Joseph Smith. She is awesome! Unfortunately Michael did not come to church. It was sad but I will never give up on him. He has a light and I will help turn that light into a fire!
Josh came to church, so that was awesome!
Yesterday was quite the day as well. We had a plan to teach a lesson in Jamul to an investigator. It's like a 25 minute drive, and I forgot to say in my last letter that in some areas you have to go past a border check point and then coming back these border patrol people ask you some questions to make sure you're not an immigrant. When we went through the first time it felt pretty cool--now we do it all the time. We love it!
Anyways, we went to a lesson with a member of the bishopric and his daughter who is preparing to go on a mission, and our investigator was not there. Bummer. BUT, Amy, the daughter, was texting her friend who lived next door and said we were near by, and asked if we could come over and teach a lesson! How cool is that!?
We taught the restoration to her friend and her friend's parents. I'm not sure how interested they are but they said they would read the Book of Mormon! So cool! Members are the best!!!!!
I'm loving life, couldn't be happier, wouldn't want to be anywhere else! And I love you all and I thank you for loving me too, I know it's not always easy, and I appreciate and feel all the prayers you say for me!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!
Sister Whitcomb
PS Our bishopric counselor has a pet tortoise named Ricky who will live to be about 175 and I got to feel him! Brother Goidrich said he could give me a ride if I wanted--who knows, maybe I'll ride this tortoise someday!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Janelle Isom in the Jamul ward was in Aunt Joy's ward growing up. They are god friends that went to High School together. The bishop in the Jamul ward is married to Aunt Joy's cousin Rebecca.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Miracles in Jamul and California Burritos

And I'm so glad all of you are alive!
Not gonna lie, receiving no emails last p-day made me wonder. But my companion pushed out any fears and missionary life continued! I'm so glad you had a wonderful vacation in Maine and L.A. (so weird to think my relatives are just a couple hours away...) I never want to be taken away from this missionary work or these areas!! I am crazy blessed it's ridiculous. I don't always deserve it but Heavenly Father loves me too much I guess! (wink) And my companion is super patient with me and she always knows when I need a good laugh. I'm so glad all of you are doing well. Keep telling me your adventures, and if you think you're boring me, you're not! So keep it coming!
THIS WEEK was a week of miracles. Mainly yesterday, actually, but I'll save that for last. Some quick notes: went to the castle retirement home to visit the classy Ednis Smith, LOVE her! She's sadly sick right now so she's in my thoughts and prayers! She's like the Grandma to my mission right now! We also had a lot of cancellations and therefore that led to a lot of frustration yells--my companion dealt with it well and she always makes me laugh in the end. She's pretty impressive! The hardest struggle with our investigators right now is that NO ONE comes to church. Priorities are a struggle. CHURCH IS SOOOO AWESOME THOUGH!! Since my mission I have never felt more of the spirit in church. It's so powerful. The only way it can become powerful is if you are willing to do something!!!
Preparation is sooo important throughout the week, think about the the Savior everyday and then those ten minutes in Sacrament meeting will become the most sacred time of the week. IT'S THE BEST!!! So do it! Please. :)
This Sunday we were in Hillsdale Ward (hardest part about being in two wards is that they start at the same time and we have to go to each every other week--we missed Jamul this week). We had President Hunt and his wife (counselor to my mission president) give REALLY good talks on how we can make sacrament meeting a more reverent place, especially when we have visitors. They did so well! They welcomed our visitors; we actually had an investigator there! FINALLY!! Prayers were answered! And they talked about how we need to always treat the chapel with respect, so bring the noise OUTSIDE of the chapel--currently something we could definitely improve on. So hopefully it will stick! And our investigator enjoyed it so I know he'll be back!
We also had a lesson with Crystal this week. She's super cool! She's reading, so that's a plus. Sadly we didn't see her in church but I hope soon she'll recognize how much it can change her life! It's changed MY life A LOT! We also taught Taylor! Our recent convert since July 4th, I love her! But unfortunately this was the last lesson we are going to teach her. When we got there she informed us that she thinks it would be best to go to the ward she lives closest to because then she knows her mom would come and then her siblings would come.
It made me sad. I probably won't see her for a couple of years, but you never know! She has become a part of me and she has already told me I am invited to her temple wedding. I love her. I hope her family will follow her example soon. I am excited for that day!!
We also continue to teach Elijah, the 12 year old his new member lessons. That kid is so cool! He wants his mom and sister to join so badly you can see it on his face. He goes to scouts and I can't wait until he will pass the sacrament!! He is the sweetest kid and is going to make an amazing leader in the church someday!
Of course going into Jamul will ALWAYS be an adventure, getting lost, GPS being wrong, driving super slow on the dirt roads so tiwi doesn't yell at us and our car doesn't die! (We are convinced if it stays much longer in Jamul, it will die!) but the spirit is always so strong and I have never been able to follow so many promptings in my life! We pray a lot in Jamul when we are lost or don't know what to do and it always leads us to someone. Always.
Which now leads into yesterday, which was definitely one of my favorite days on the mission. We decided to spend the morning and afternoon in Jamul. The night before we were planning it was kind of rushed; we were taking a while and trying to hurry so we could do call-ins with our district leader soon. At the end I felt kind of bad about how rushed our planning was so I wasn't sure how good Monday was going to be. Boy did Heavenly Father prove me wrong! We went out to a potential's house. He wasn't there but we got two great referrals for our zone leaders! I know the Lord has great things in store for those two children of God! And then our Bishop in Jamul Ward asked us to go visit someone who he thinks might have moved. And once again we couldn't find the house. We walked, couldn't find it. We prayed, and Sister Wardinsky felt a prompting to go climb a hill, so we went up a driveway, (not it) and we got a good perspective on the area and still couldn't find the house.  We decided to call the Relief Society President and ask if she knew where it was. She did. She said the elders had the same problem and couldn't find it. Man. We decided we had tried our best and were about to go on to the next house. Then one of the neighbors pulled up. Everyone is very nice in Jamul and wants to make sure we are okay. She told us maybe to try these other driveways on hills. So we did, and WE FOUND THE HOUSE! Miracle right there! Seriously, from all the times we couldn't find houses we found one yesterday and that was a victory! We found out she did indeed move, but I didn't care. I had never been more thrilled to follow Heavenly Father's promptings and find a house in Jamul!! Wahoo!!!!!! Then we actually found a potential on our list, that was a miracle to actually find him home, he wasn't interested but I feel more and more confident as I continue to testify to people and get inspired questions from the Lord. With everything that he was saying I never doubted, I know this is the truth and I know Heavenly Father loves me and that's why he's got me through trials, so I can become a better person and I will be forever grateful for that! Then we had lunch at the Jamul Meat Market, a cute little Hispanic shop where we got HUGE California Burritos! (Literally the best thing ever: fries and guac in a burrito is genius!)
And then we had the biggest miracle of all, Ashley. Another potential on the list and we had tried her before but found the road had been blocked off and that there was another side to it. So we tried to find that other side yesterday. And boy, did we find it. Not only did we find it, we found Ashley! We went to the door, we knocked, no answer, knocked again, no answer, were about to leave when all of a sudden there was Ashley! And she just came out and talked to us like she already knew us! We found out that she has friends on missions, she's been to the Jamul ward before, knows about Joseph Smith and living modern day prophets and is soooo cool! I felt like I've known her for a long time! So we showed her "Because He Lives," prayed with her, set an appointment and did a little dance when we got to our car!!!!! We were so pumped and sooooo thrilled, Jamul is a hard area, hasn't seen much success and we weren't sure whether we would or not but we totally are! The Lord was telling us not to doubt, he's got our backs, don't worry, just keep doing your work and I will take care of you! I LOVE HEAVENLY FATHER!!!! I'm still in shock from finding an investigator in Jamul and it shows that inspired planning is real! I love Jamul sooo much and I'm sooo excited to help this ward!
I have a HUGE testimony of how much Heavenly Father loves us, he is here to take care of that and we never need doubt that! I never will. 
And if he's taking care of me he HAS to be taking care of all of you. I know he loves each and every one of you just as much as he loves me. It's amazing to feel so much love for people, and I know that's a small part of what Heavenly Father feels for all of us. Life is great, life is the best! Never stop praying, never stop relying on our Heavenly Father and always know he is there! Never doubt!!
Love, Sister Whitcomb