Monday, October 29, 2012

Joshua's email - 10/29

Hello everyone!

This past week was great! I spent a lot of the time with lots of the missionaries from our zone on Monday, and then I packed.  We had a testimony meeting with our district before bed, which was really cool.  I really miss the Provo missionaries from our district, Elders A and K.  We went to bed and woke up at 2:45am on Tuesday morning. We got on the bus that took us to the Salt Lake City airport, and I got a chance to call my family for about 45 minutes before we got on the plane.  That was fun.  I was a little nervous for what the rest of the day was going to be like, but it turned out to be pretty good.

On the first flight from SLC to Chicago, I sat in the very back of the plane with a rancher who was on a business trip to Milwaukee to open a new ranching store.  He was really nice, and we talked about his business, his family, and my mission and the church for three hours! the other 13 missionaries that were on that plane all tried to sleep because it was so early (6:00am) and they were tired, so they thought it was funny that I talked with the guy for the whole flight.  He was familiar with a lot of the gospel already because his family has LDS friends, so we talked about that a little bit.  At the very end of the flight, he got a phone call that the store he was opening lost power, so he was in a hurry and I didn't catch his name.  I later saw the man in the airport, and as he passed he said, "Good luck, you're a very fine young man, and I hope you get a chance to talk to your family again soon.  Everyone deserves a chance to talk to their momma."

I talked to one of the flight attendants who told me that he was inactive all his life before he went on his mission.  He told me that he was sent to Vancouver.  He had some struggles in the beginning with doubts and with following all of the rules.  He said that as soon as he made the goal to "obey with exactness" and started to be obedient, he enjoyed his mission much more and now he thinks about the things he did and learned on his mission every day.  This really helped me to feel more confident about what I was doing, and the importance of being obedient.

On the next flight, from Chicago to Milwaukee, I sat next to a man in his 50s.  I tried talking to him about the gospel, but he was very reserved and didn't seem to want to talk.  I made the mistake of telling him (jokingly) that "it felt weird to be in public after being in the missionary training center for so long."  He then proceeded to give me the most confused face, as if I had just told him that I have been kept in a basement for 2 months and they (the MTC) had finally let me out back into public.  HAHAHAHA. So we didn't talk much after that.

When we arrived in Milwaukee, I saw President Jones and his wife, and his two assistants, Elder H and Elder H.  They hug a lot here.  It's gonna take some getting used to.  Elder H and Elder H constantly told us to relax and to enjoy our time here in Wisconsin.  I was pretty nervous at first, but they really helped me to be more confident and comfortable.  President Jones and his wife are very nice, and the assistants are AWESOME.  I like them the best so far, they're both very humble.  We had a delicious dinner that night, so that day was pretty good, despite my shampoo exploding in my suitcase, which I had to clean up.  We also had a very spiritual testimony meeting, which I enjoyed.  We went out to street contact and place copies of the Book of Mormon.  That was an awesome experience.  I talked to a very nice man and a younger girl separately and gave them both a copy.  They were very interested to learn more!! I wanted to teach them right there on the spot, but we didn't have time.  I hope something good comes from those experiences.

The next day we had an in-field orientation.  Following that, we went to the church building and got our new companions.  I looked up into the stand to guess who was going to be my new companion, and my first guess was the kid that looked Samoan.  When President Jones announced that my new companion was Elder G (pronounced "- - -"), I was super excited! If he was anything like Elder K, I knew I was going to enjoy having him as my companion.  Don't take this the wrong way, because it's not meant to sound negative, it's just something I've heard from President Jones and I now understand a little bit more. He said that every companion will be different. Every companion will have strengths and weaknesses, and every companion will teach you something different.

Elder G. is a very good trainer and teacher and I have learned a lot with him here in the Sun Prairie area.  We're both very focused on our goals and our purpose as missionaries.  One of the things that I have been focusing on more as I study the scriptures, is to liken them unto my life, and to my investigators' lives.  I think of how the scriptures can benefit me and others as well, which I think is a large step in my progress.  Another thing that we are both focused on is being completely obedient, and striving to understand the importance and reason of every rule.  We're both working hard on finding people right now.  We have two return appointments with people that we tracted into last week.  We also have a progressing investigator by the name of K (age 60ish), who has a baptismal date set for December 1.  We've met with him a few times already, and he definitely has a solid testimony of the gospel, and especially of the Book of Mormon.  He's studied with other churches before but he says that he likes how the Book of Mormon describes society as it was back then and as it is today.  He relates it completely to himself and the people of today, and he even told us straight-up, "I know the Book of Mormon is true.  I've read it (I think he's in Alma, he reads it a LOT), and I know that everything that it says is true.  I know that since everything this book says is true, everything that I've been taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ is true." That was way awesome.  I feel like I get more excited about hearing stuff like that than my companion does.  He's probably heard it a lot of times now since he's been out almost 10 months, so maybe it's not as big of a deal as I'm making it out to be, haha.

One thing about K is that he LOVES to talk.  Last time we visited with him, I started to fall asleep on his comfy couch.  I was trying so HARD to stay awake (missionary work is hard work!) but my eyelids were really heavy.  My companion says that he was falling asleep too, so I'm not the only one, haha.  K interrupted himself and said, "Hey buddy, you look like you're about to fall asleep!"  Haha! I felt so bad, but K knows we work hard, so he wasn't mad.  Anyway, K is super awesome and I'm excited for him to be baptized!

Sun Prairie is AWESOME! It's supposed to be one of the best areas in Wisconsin, and the ward is super nice and helpful.  There was a baptism the weekend before I got here, so there's definitely work going on here.  I love the ward here.

Yesterday we had Stake Conference in Madison.  We drove there with the N family. Brother N is the ward mission leader, and he's super nice.  Stake Conference was AWESOME though.  Elder Robert C. Gay came and spoke about miracles, and he testified boldly of the truthfulness of the gospel.  He shared some very personal experiences and miracles that he's seen throughout his life.  You could cut the Spirit with a knife yesterday.  One thing that he said stuck with me.  He said, "The veil is thin," and "the hands of Heaven are close by."  It's true.  God wants to help you with overcoming challenges, addictions, and trials.  We are blessed with agency, so we have the choice to follow Him (2 Nephi 2).  If we have faith in Him, and are patient as we endure to the end, He will bless us, and I know that to be true.  Another thing that was mentioned in Stake Conference is that God makes great leaders from humble, simple men.  I'm trying to be an instrument in God's hands and allow him to refine me and grow in areas where I am weak, and strengthen other areas.  The church is true.  If you don't know that, study the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  I'm serious!  It's either all true, or it's not.  I wouldn't be serving a mission if I didn't know it was true, but it's up to you to find out for yourself if it's true.

I love you all and have a great week!

Elder Whicker!

PS, Mom, can you post my apartment address at the church? THANKS haha

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