Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day is always more like "Mother's Weekend" at our house for a couple of reasons.  One, I guess I'll confess that I like to milk it for all it's worth, and two, since we don't go out and do social things on Sundays, the fun stuff needs to happen on Saturday.

Teffy ended up coming home with a friend on Friday night, which was a nice surprise, and Curtis and I were able to go out on our regular date.  We'd made a plan to spend Saturday going to Jackson and Beck's last two soccer games and then to the nursery to pick out plants for our flower beds (that Curtis would plant later that day as his gift to me), but it was freezing cold and raining, so things changed a bit.  One of the two games was cancelled, and it was too cold to risk putting the plants in the ground, so they're in the garage until Tuesday.  Fortunately, it turned out to be a good thing that I had some extra time because I realized I'd made a big goof!

I was put in charge of gifts for the 18+-year-old women at our church for Mother's Day, and in addition to ordering cute little notepad sets for each of them, I planned to make giant blondies for them.  I made a few pans each day during the week, cut them, wrapped them, and put them in the freezer, and by Thursday I was done.  I was pretty proud of myself!  But Saturday afternoon I decided to double-check my count, and I discovered I was short by 14!  I ended up having to make two more pans of blondies, and I was so grateful that I hadn't realized my blunder as we were packaging everything up on Sunday morning.  That would have been awful.

I'm the music leader in our children's program, and in our main worship service, I had the kids sing a super cool song to their mothers, after a short reading by one of the older girls in our group.  She read a scriptural account from Alma 56 in the Book of Mormon about young men who were able to go to battle in defense of their countrymen and families as their parents had sworn an oath never to take up arms again.  These young men were not afraid because of the lessons their mothers had taught them, and because of their mothers' great faith.  In the end, none of these young men was killed in the battle.  So cool!  Anyway, the song the kids sang referenced this story, and they sang it with such gusto that there was hardly a dry eye in the chapel.  I was quite pleased because I had told the kids their goal was to make their moms cry happy tears.  They succeeded in making quite a few dads cry, too.  ;)

After this, the fathers of the missionaries who are serving from our congregation were called up to read letters that the missionaries had written to their moms.  I knew this was coming because I had helped to plan the program, but hearing my son's sweet words to me was the most amazing thing.  The other moms were completely surprised and in tears as their tearful husbands choked out their sons' words.  We then had two speakers who did a really nice job talking about mothers of all sorts.  It was truly one of the best Mother's Day programs I've ever seen.  I loved it.

After church, we had a nice lunch (oh, and I forgot to mention that Zoe had arrived that morning.  She invited her boyfriend and he came, too).  Teffy gave me some beautiful flowers and some candy and some of the kids gave me sweet things they'd made at school.  My teens have promised to write me letters, which I will nag them about until they do it.  ;)  Curtis made me breakfast (not in bed, since that doesn't work when you have to get up when I do on Sunday mornings!) and plans to get the plants in on Tuesday.  But the highlight of my Mother's Day was being able to Skype with my sweet missionary son for an hour.  He looked and sounded WONDERFUL and is obviously so happy.  He's doing just great, and it's crazy to think that the next time we talk (in 4 months and 25 days - ha!) it will be in person.  I'm so proud of him.

Mother's Day has become a bittersweet holiday for me, but I feel that my mom is aware of the goings-on in our lives, and I know she loves me.  I love my sweet family and feel so blessed to have all of them in my life.

Here are some screenshots from our Skype session with Joshua.

And this is Beck's short play from the collection of first grade Mother's Day plays at his school.  :)


Joshua's email - week 81

I don't usually post Joshua's full emails anymore, but it's been a while and today for some reason, I felt like I should.  We got to Skype with him yesterday for Mother's Day, which was SO awesome, and it was clear to me that he is doing amazingly well.  He is happy, confident, and totally on fire for what he is doing.  I am so very proud of him.  :)


Week 81

This week was sweet!  We were really busy this week with some realllllyyyy long meetings haha, so there's not a lot to share, but I'll tell you about a few of the highlights!

The weather finally started getting nice! Woohoo! I love it!  Even though short sleeved white button up shirts make you look like a dorky 20 year old boy scout*, they're really nice to have when it gets hot! haha

I went on exchanges with Elder J again, (he's the one who came out with me).  He's so sick! I LOVE that kid!  He's way humble and he's just fun to talk to, so we had a lot of fun working together and talking throughout the day.  We gave a lesson at a member's house (for dinner) about the Atonement and then talked about family history and they LOVED IT.  They loved it so much that they told our mission president about it hahaha. Woohoo!

We talked to a bunch of kids on campus at UWM.  There was this one kid named T that we were talking to for like 15 minutes.  He was SWEET!  We were teaching him the Restoration, and RIGHT when I got to the story of Joseph Smith's First Vision and he was feeling the Spirit HARDCORE, the bus he was waiting for pulled up and started driving away!!! So he ran in front of the bus to stop it, then hopped on and we never got a chance to give him a Book of Mormon, a card or ANYTHING!!! Dang it!!!!!!! It was pretty funny actually how it all worked out, but it was really frustrating!

I went on exchanges with Elder G.  He's SICK!!! We ate at the family's house that we ate at last time.  The mom's name is A.  She's Filipino and AWESOME.  She made us some really good curry.  The next day, we went and contacted some people and tracted and street contacted between visits.  The first door we knocked, a young Hmong guy let us in.  He was with his two kids and he was just about to go to work.  We taught him about family history and the importance of keeping records and then taught about the Book of Mormon.  He seemed to really like it, so we set up an appointment with him for this week!  Hopefully the elders can start teaching the whole family! :)

As we were street contacting, we were just BOLD.  It was sweet.  We talked to lots of people and a few of them were really interesting....... but it was definitely fun hahaha.  One of the people we visited is a Jehovah's witness convert.  She told us about her story a little bit and then she asked about the Book of Mormon.  She accepted a copy to read, but it didn't really go anywhere outside of just giving her a copy.  So that was really funny because like 30 minutes later, we were driving to go visit someone else, and I saw this young hispanic kid walking down the street in a black suit with a black button up shirt and a black vest.  I jokingly said to Elder G, "it's another Jehovah's Witness!" and then we drove away and turned to go visit the person.  We got out of the car and noticed a little stand with a box with a door on the top.  It was a free library box.  You can put a book in it and take one out.  It's pretty cool.  They have them all over Milwaukee.  So we decided to put a couple copies of the Book of Mormon in it.  We both wrote our testimonies in them and put them there.  As we were standing there, the kid in the black suit was walking by!  He walked straight past us and he was like 20 feet away when I yelled, "Hey! what are you dressed up for?!"  He turned with a big smile and said, "I'm a Jehovah's Witness!"  So I was right!  His name was L and he's 18 years old.  He was so cool!  We talked to him for like 20 minutes just about proselyting and what the people are like that he talks to.  He was way chill.  We had a really good discussion.  I always hate those situations because you don't want to come off as the prideful jerk who only cares about converting people.  But we ended up transitioning into teaching the Restoration in a way that didn't sound cocky, prideful, or arrogant, so that was sweet! :p He was genuinely interested in what we teach, so he asked what our message was.  It was a pretty cool experience I guess haha.  He was seriously a way cool kid, so it was fun talking to him.

I was on exchanges with Elder S.  He's LEGIT!  Seriously one of the funniest kids I know! I love that kid!  We visited a ton of people in this little town called ***, Wisconsin.  We had some good experiences there.  Probably the coolest thing that happened was a member referred us to her friend who has like 6 adopted children from Ethiopia, so I was able to go talk to her friend about her adopted children and we taught her about the Book of Mormon and she accepted one to read for herself!  That was pretty much the highlight of the day.

Anyway, it's been a really good week. It was sweet getting to skype home for the last time!  It feels weird that it was the last time! Ahhhhh!

Anyway I hope everyone has a wonderful week!  Love you all!

Elder Josh Whicker

*Obligatory dorky 20-year-old boy scout photo ;)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

Today was a good day, other than the fact that I'm on day 4 or 5 of feeling utterly miserable with the cold from heck.  We had a wonderful Easter service at church, which included beautiful messages shared by one of my favorite families, and the song Gethsemane, sung by Sofie and Cora.  They did such a good job!  I meant to make an audio recording of it, but totally forgot until they came to sit down in our pew, dang it!  Anyway, it was very sweet, and at the end of the meeting when our bishop got up to speak briefly, he got choked up as he explained that those of us in the congregation couldn't see what he could see, and that was that Sofie and Cora linked fingers as they sang.  It made me get teary-eyed.  I love that my kids love each other.  They definitely have their moments when they bicker and argue, but it makes me happy to know that in times when they're nervous or need support, they feel safe in turning to each other.

Here are a few pictures from today.  I was busy cooking, so I handed the camera over to Teffy and Jonah which meant that they are conspicuously absent from the photos.  But bonus!  I'm not!  ;)  I had to weed through a few shots of rear ends and close ups of random objects, but there are a few good ones, including a rare one of Curtis avec canard-visage.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cora's 9th birthday

Today was a great day.  We watched the 3rd and 4th sessions of General Conference with 2 of our 4 local missionaries and celebrated Cora's 9th birthday during lunch.  We had cheese enchiladas, refried beans and rice - Cora's request - and then chocolate birthday cake.  She got a new iPad case and charger, some new play food for her play kitchen, a giant black velvet coloring book and markers, another coloring book and crayons, some cash from one set of grandparents, and an iTunes card from another set of grandparents.  She was pretty excited.  Oh, and I braided Beck's hair during the second session of conference.   He'd been rocking his fro for about 4 weeks, so he needed it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

New pics and an update!

Since Yun Li's referral information was over a year old, I ordered a phone update through Ladybugs N Love a couple of days ago. They sent me the update FAST! I'm impressed!  Yun Li sounds like she is going to fit right in at our house. I can't wait to meet her!  I love her so much already!

Here are the questions I asked and the replies the orphanage gave:

1. What are YunLi's communication skills like? 
She can say some simple words, such as daddy, mommy, big sister, etc. she can understand adults.  
2. What does she learn in school? 
At preschool, she is learning language, numbers, art and crafts, gymnastics, etc.  
3. What does she like to eat and drink? 
She is not picky. She has good appetite. She likes to eat vegetable, fruit, cake, juice, etc. she loves them all.  
4. Does she have a nickname? 
Li Li. 
5. What does she like to do for fun? 
She loves to work. She loves to help teacher at preschool. She likes to help others. She likes to help foster mom to do chore.  
6. What is she good at? 
She is good at some simple work and chore.  
7. What things are challenging for her? 
Writing or learning school.  
8. What is her foster family like? 
There is a foster father, foster mother, and a big sister. There is also another little boy from the orphanage. They all love Yun Li.  
9. What is her personality like? 
She is active, restless, independent, and brave.  
10. Is she potty trained during the day and night? 
She is potty trained. Sometimes if she plays too hard and might have some accident. 
Her updated measurements:
Height: 103cm; Weight: 18kg; Head: 46cm; Foot: 17cm.

I need to plot her measurements on a Chinese growth chart, but she sounds like a tiny little peanut, like Thalia!  I'm loving that she isn't a picky eater, that she does gymnastics, and that she's active. Like I said, she's going to fit right in!  :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Adoption education - DONE!

We received our adoption education certificates late last night, and I forwarded them to the agency.  That means all they're waiting on is two letters of reference, and then they can print our homestudy and I can send in our I800A. That has to be some kind of record!  Seriously!  Woohoo!

An update on Joshua, and a current address

I feel badly that I haven't been posting more information about Joshua.  I feel torn between wanting to share what he's up to and wanting to protect his privacy and that of the people he's working with.  I never use the names of his companions or the individuals/families in his life, but I still sometimes worry that someone might be able to recognize themselves in what is said and not feel comfortable with it.  In any case, I don't think I have shared that Joshua has been working as an assistant to the president for the last couple of months.  His companion is Elder B, who is from England, and Joshua says that everyone gets a kick out of the accent.  ;)  He misses being able to teach as much as he used to, but they've had some amazing teaching experiences in the last couple of weeks.  They have an investigator who has committed to be baptized but is really struggling with her family (who does not want her to be baptized).  Joshua says she is absolutely amazing and that she is always teaching others about the gospel even though she's not yet baptized herself.  She could really use our prayers for help finding peace with her family.  Also, his dear friend J who was baptized last year was able to receive the Melchizedek priesthood and is planning to go on a mission late this year.  He is so excited for his friend!

If you'd like to write a letter to Joshua, it can go directly to the mission office:

Elder Whicker
7111 W Edgerton Ave Ste 100
Greenfield WI 53220

Elder B and Elder Whicker