Wednesday, January 30, 2013

two days

I'm hoping that we can get through these next two days without too much sadness.  Our mom's visitation is tonight from 4-6, and then the funeral is tomorrow at 11:00 (with an additional visitation time of 10-11).  I'm planning to take our kids over to see their grandma at around 2:30, so they can have some quiet time with her before the crowds come.

Two of my sisters and I went over to the funeral home this morning to put the necklace we ordered on our mom.  We sat with her and watched her tribute video and laughed and cried.  It is such a surreal thing to see her in a casket with snapshots of her life flashing by on a nearby TV screen.  I mentioned to my sisters that if anyone would have told us a week ago that this is where we'd be, none of us would have been able to believe it.  Our mom is supposed to be moving to a rehab hospital where she can continue to recuperate.  Curtis, Lily and I are supposed to be with Thalia and should be sleeping right now so we can get up early in the morning and drive to Foshan to visit Lily's old orphanage.  My sister, J, should be teaching gymnastics.  K should be home with her boys.  B should be working at her law firm.  My local brother-in-law should be shoveling my parents' snowing sidewalks in their absence.  Instead, we're all here, our mom is gone, and friends and family are traveling through snowstorms to come and bid her goodbye.

I'm still in shock over it.  It just doesn't seem real.  But even though it is shocking, we feel comforted and peaceful.  We feel the prayers that have been offered in our family's behalf.  We know that we will live with our mom/wife/sister again one day, and that she will always be ours.

"And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality... All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and His only Begotten son, Jesus Christ.  I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness."

Doctrine and Covenants 138:12, 14-15

Monday, January 28, 2013

Joshua's email - 1/28

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a great week!  It was a little difficult to adjust to a new companion at first, but Elder J and I are getting along really well now.  We both laugh a lot and work hard, so we're definitely enjoying the work!  I still can't believe he's 6'6".  I seriously thought that anything over 6'4" was just a myth! Haha.  We've discussed our goals, and we both have very similar goals as missionaries, so that's really cool.  We're both focusing on finding people to teach through members, and we're focusing hard on trying to find a family to teach and baptize.

Wednesday, we drove to Madison's stake center for Zone Conference.  This was my first one, and it was AWESOME.  I was expecting it to get a little tired from sitting down listening to speakers for 7+ hours, but I actually had a really strong spiritual experience there, and I learned a lot!  It seemed like everything we talked about there was directly pointed to my needs and struggles right now.  We talked about how to involve members with missionary work, about patience through hard times (hard, cold winter months), and we bore our testimonies before we watched an incredible talk by Elder Holland.  It was a great day.

So, we've been looking for our referral, K.  I think I mentioned how we had met him in my last letter, but I'll re-cap.  Elder G and I were looking for a less active who, at one point, lived in an apartment building.  We stopped by, and found out that someone else was living there, named K.  He told us we could stop by another time, so we set up an appointment. We came the next Saturday, and he wasn't there, so we left him a pass along card.  He actually called the number and requested a Book of Mormon, so we got a referral for him, haha!  We've tried to catch him several times since then, but he works sometimes up to 16 hours a day, so he's very busy.  His girlfriend, T, is always home, but we usually just tell her we'll try to catch K later.  Finally we decided to ask T if she was interested in our message, and she said she was and that we could come back.  We taught her part of the Restoration, and she had lots of questions.  The lesson went really well, and we've got a return appointment set up for Tuesday.  That was way exciting.  We invited her to be baptized on February 23, and she accepted.  She told us she would try to make it to church next week (she couldn't come this past weekend because of work), so we're really excited for that! Hopefully we can figure out how we can get K involved too and then we can teach both of them!

Friday evening, we had a dinner at a member family's house.  The parents are insanely intelligent people - the mom is a super genius chemist and the dad is a surgeon who has saved people's lives on numerous occasions. The dad is a non-member, but he's very open to having the missionaries come over and discuss the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  I think the only thing that holds him back is how busy he is with his occupation.  He told us about some of the incredible spiritual experiences he's had, and we talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation, in particular, life after death.  We really enjoyed talking with them, and some of the dad's stories were incredible!

Saturday morning, we had breakfast and a coordination meeting planned with our ward mission leader.  Elder J and I had both forgotten that we had planned to eat breakfast that morning, so we had both eaten a huge bowl of oatmeal just before going over to the WML's house.  Turns out that his wife was gone, and he had eaten with her earlier that morning, so he made breakfast just for us.  40 pancakes.  Just between me and Elder J.....  Elder J ate about seven, along with a small glass of orange juice and 5 strips of bacon.  I downed eleven pancakes, 4 pieces of bacon, and 3 cups of chocolate milk.  Haha! Our WML kept asking, "Are you elders getting weak on me now?!" and we had to just keep eating on an already full stomach.  It was a pretty entertaining experience.  It's been a while since I've felt like puking from eating too much.

Other than that, not a whole lot of anything super exciting happened this week.  We're doing a lot of finding, and we had a few first lessons this week.  Tonight we're teaching a Hmong FAMILY! So hopefully everything goes well with that. This is the first time I will have actually taught an entire family! I think they have 4 kids all under 10 years old.  That's going to be exciting.  Also, we were looking through the area book and found a potential investigator from a couple years ago that we wanted to visit.  They no longer live at the recorded address, but the lady that lives there now listened to us as we taught a brief version of the Restoration, and then she referred us to a lady across the street who she said could really use our message.  We haven't been able to contact her yet, but we're really excited to meet her.

I'll leave some scriptures that have really struck me lately, and have helped me out a lot.

Alma 37:37 - Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Alma 38:5 - "... as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day."

Love you all!

Elder Whicker

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Where to start...

I'm sorry I haven't written anything in so long.  Life has been a roller coaster.

On January 10th, we received our travel approval and were able to get a consulate appointment of February 5th.  We were SO grateful that we'd be able to get in and out of China just in time for Chinese New Year to start.  (All the government offices close for CNY, and airfare and lodging costs go through the roof.)  We were scheduled to fly to China on January 25th - one year to the day that we first saw Thalia's photo.

So we planned and prepared, and shortly before we were to leave, someone smashed out the back window of one of our cars.  We were able to get it fixed just in time.

Over the past nearly four weeks, my mom has been in the hospital.  She contracted influenza, in spite of having had a flu shot, and this progressed to pneumonia.  Because my mom had pre-existing interstitial lung disease, she ended up in the hospital.  She was having trouble keeping her oxygen level up in spite of being largely over the illnesses that she'd had.  She spent about a week in the local hospital, but then started to do really badly and was life flighted to Billings where she spent several days in the ICU.  She finally got stabilized and was transferred into a regular room.  She was doing better, but still having trouble maintaining safe oxygen levels, so her doctors decided to patch her patent foramen ovale.  They thought this would help her better oxygenate her blood and reduce her pulmonary hypertension.  (I should mention that my mom has never had significant breathing problems, never used oxygen, and has never been hospitalized in her adult life.  She has always been very healthy, a healthy weight, and an exerciser.)  The plan was to patch this small hole in her heart, and then get her moved to a rehab hospital in Billings for 2-3 weeks to help build up her endurance, and then she'd come home on oxygen and with restrictions on visitors and outings for at least 12 weeks.  This would keep her from getting additional sicknesses and give her lungs time to heal.  She wasn't in the best shape, but her pulmonologist assured her that she was stable and that with time, she'd be able to return to her former level of activity.  We felt comfortable going to China under the circumstances.

We decided to go to Billings and spend the night on Thursday the 24th, in part because we had a very early flight to China and didn't want the two-hour drive on the same morning, and in part because we wanted to stop in and visit my mom before we left.  We expected to be visiting her in the rehab hospital on the way home.

It turned out that her patching procedure was scheduled for Thursday.  It was supposed to be a minor thing, going in through a vein in her groin and without the need for general anesthetic.  We fasted for her that day, just to be on the safe side, and by late afternoon we got a text from my dad saying that the procedure had been a total success and that she was doing well.

By the time we got to Billings, though, things had taken a terrible turn for the worse.  Complications developed that had nothing to do with the procedure, and by that night, the doctor had told us that she likely would not survive the night.

We were completely devastated.  My world was crashing down around me, and we were supposed to be on a plane the next morning to go get our new daughter.  She did survive the night, and we cancelled our flights and went straight to the hospital the next morning.  Two of my sisters arrived, and we, with my dad, stayed with my precious mom until she left us.

I can't bear to write about any of the specifics right now, but it was a horrible time with some very sweet moments mixed in.  We're surviving because of our faith in God, and because of our knowledge that she is with Him, and with her family, and that we will be with her again one day.

Our trip is tentatively rescheduled for February 22nd.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Joshua's email - 1/22

This week has been pretty good! I was really nervous for Elder G's transfer, and to see what my new companion is like.  His name is Elder C J, he's from Bountiful, Utah.  He's 6'6", and very very smart.  He knows a lot about pretty much anything.  He's extremely focused on missionary work and serving others, and I admire that a lot about him.  He's teaching me a lot and I hope I can teach him as well.

This past week, we've been working hard at finding people to teach, expanding our teaching pool.  We had a coordination meeting with the Bishop to discuss which of the less active members we should focus on, and that was really helpful.  I witnessed how inspired the bishop is here, and how reliant upon the promptings of the Holy Ghost bishops have to be.  We went through a list of 40 or so names and, one by one, Bishop told us about each less active and part member family.  He gave us advice on how to help each of the people, and I'm glad we can be a part of strengthening and uplifting the Sun Prairie ward.

I have a pretty funny (and crazy) story for this week.  A few nights ago, while knocking, I mentioned to Elder J, "One of these days, we're going to knock a door and it'll be a member from the church that I won't even recognize."  Two days later, we began knocking some doors after dinner.  We knocked the whole street, and decided to knock one more before we left.  An old grumpy man in a dirty robe answered the door.  We shared briefly what our message is, and he said, "Come on in.  HONEY THE MISSIONARIES ARE HERE!!!"  A little confused, I asked, "have you met with mormon missionaries before?" He replied, "I AM ONE!"

We were still a little puzzled about the validity of his statement.  He invited us in and told us to sit down on the couch.  Elder J commented on a large, curved knife mounted on the wall.  The man walked over to the knife, pulled it down, and flung it from the sheath, sending the knife right in front of my face.  He put the knife back, and then pulled out a pistol that was placed in the strap around his waist that held his robe together.  Immediately Elder Jensen and I looked at each other in complete terror.  We could both see our lives flashing before our lives.  The man sat down and polished his pistol, and then picked up another handgun sitting on the table next to his chair and polished it too.  His wife walked in wearing a very small robe that made us feel really uncomfortable. I know this probably sounds really, really bad, but everything turned out okay.  We quickly realized who the people were, and that the bishop had warned us to not visit them.  They're not dangerous or anything, just a little mentally unstable.  They actually turned out to be really nice, and we had a long conversation about their cats with them.  We read a few scriptures from the Book of Mormon, and the visit turned out to be really pleasant, but it definitely freaked us out at first.  HAHAHA

Other than that, we spent a lot of time this weekend finding people to teach.  We've got a few return appointments already, so that should be good.  The Sun Prairie ward is still awesome, and I love it here.

I think I mentioned K in my last letter, so I'll just re-cap his story.  We knocked a door, looking for a less active member, and found  out that the member had moved.  K now lives there, but he agreed to let us come back and share our message with him.  We came back for our return appointment, and he wasn't there, so we left him a passalong card that offers a free Book of Mormon.  He requested one, so we received a HQ referral for K.  We spent all week trying to catch him (he's very nice and very interested in our message, but he works a lot of unexpected hours for a moving company).  On Saturday night, we tried knocking his door one more time, with no luck.  We decided to go to the gas station to get something to drink and to use the restroom.  Guess who I ran into! K!  He came up and started talking to me, and at first, I didn't even recognize him! I visited with him shortly and he seems really interested in having us come back, so we'll definitely be working with him from now on! We just need to find a good time to catch him!

Anyway, that's pretty much my week!  A lot of hard work going on here! Hope everyone is doing well at home! Love you all!

Elder Whicker

Monday, January 14, 2013

Joshua's email - 1/14

BOOM! I'm done being trained! Hahaha! Now it's time for me to buckle down and continue using everything I've learned in the past 12 weeks. I'm sad that Elder G is leaving Sun Prairie.  He's been here for 7 months now, and the ward really likes him. He's going Zone Leader in Milwaukee North, which should be pretty cool. As far as I can tell, Elder G is one of the best missionaries here in Wisconsin, so I don't doubt that he'll make a good ZL. Anyway, my new companion is Elder J.  I think he's from Bountiful, Utah, and he's SUPER tall. I'll write more about him next week when I know more about him, because I'm still with Elder G. until Wednesday.

This past week was pretty good, and I've learned a lot.  Monday, Elder G. and I started applying the fundamentals that we began learning in the MTC, and planned a message to share with members at dinner appointments.  We invite the members to either invite others to church, or invite them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and we even give them a deadline.  We ask for referrals every time we talk to someone, member or not.  The bishopric asked us to give talks on Sunday about missionary work, which was perfect, because we've been really focusing on member missionary work.  The ward here is the best at fellowshipping, but we're trying to get them involved with finding people to teach as well. We're excited to see the fruits of our labors!

Tuesday, we had our first lesson with a potential investigator we've had for a while, but she's been really busy.  She has a big family, and seemed really promising, so we started to really focus on her.  She doesn't agree with marriage for whatever reason, and we talked with her about her concerns with our ward mission leader, and she said she would pray about it, and read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true. She texted us the next day and told us that she doesn't think that "the mormon path is right for [her]," so I called her back to leave a voicemail, but she hasn't gotten back to us.  We had a lesson planned for Leon today, and he called and said, "Hey, I don't think this mormon thing is right for me." I asked him if he had any questions or concerns we could help with and he replied, "Yeah. I read online that if I become a mormon, then I have to travel to another country for two years and hike around all day.  I'm not cool with that."  I told him that as an almost 30 year old father, he's not expected to serve a mission unless he really wanted to much later down the road, and he was really relieved about that.  He told me he didn't think he was going to be interested in us continuing to visit, but he said he'd call again soon if something happened.  We also had an appointment with M that we were really looking forward to! She called us a little before and told us that her brother in MN got in a bad car accident, so she had to drive there to see him and his family.  She rescheduled an appointment with us, so that should be good.  We were able to talk to her about reading the Book of Mormon and she said she feels really good about it.  She said, "Every time I read the Book of Mormon or I talk to one of you guys about it, I get the chills! Why is that??"  We told her to pray and ask God what that feeling was.  It's so awesome to talk to an investigator who is so receptive to the Holy Ghost, haha!  We really enjoy talking to M, and we're hoping that everything works out with her brother so that she can still be baptized on Feb 9th.

Later that night, we had dinner at one of my favorite member family's house.  The Es!  I wish you could meet them, because they're always fun to talk to.  We always talk about deep doctrine with Brother E, and he's a very strong recent convert who knows a TON about the New Testament, so we always learn something from him.  His family loves to prank the missionaries, so we decided to get them back by pranking them and playing a mind reading game that Brother E CANNOT figure out.  It was pretty hilarious. To top the night off, they said they needed to measure Elder G. for a "coffin."  Neither of us were quite sure what that meant, so we just went along with it.  They made him lay on the floor and they put a blanket over his head so that he couldn't see while they measured his length, width, arms, legs, etc.  They then told him that they had to measure the distance between his feet, so they pulled one leg into the air, and while Brother E was measuring, Sister E poured a huge bucket of ice water down his pants! HAHAHAHA.  It was pretty hilarious.  Elder G just kind of froze and then shrieked when he realized what was happening.  We love the Es.

Wednesday was New Missionary Training. Despite us nearly dying several times on the car ride to and from the meeting due to the inexperience of the driving missionary, it was pretty good.  One really interesting thing happened. The GPS that we were using told us to get off the highway as we were driving.  Elder G. has been to this meeting at the same place a total of 7 times before this time, so he knew how to get there, and getting off the highway would make us late.  The elder who was driving blatantly ignored his words and said that the GPS was telling him to get off the highway, so that's what he was going to do.  Five minutes later, we realized that we were completely out of gas, so we had to find a gas station quick.  We filled up and were able to make it back onto the highway and get to the meeting only a couple minutes late.  It really struck me that had we not gotten off the highway, even though it was the wrong way, we would have run out of gas and we probably wouldn't have even made it to the meeting at all.  It's crazy how I've been able to see God's hand in my life, especially since I've been on my mission.

Anyway, all the missionaries that came out with me from the MTC have grown a TON.  I learned a lot and decided at that point that I want to be a hardworking missionary throughout my mission.  I want to continually be able to see my own progress, and help others to progress as well.  Everyone always talks about how you have to be bold as a missionary, but I learned why it's so important to be bold AND loving.  You can't help people if you're only being bold to fulfill an assignment.  You have to help them see that you honestly care and have charity for them.

Thursday, we had a district meeting, and I gave a Christlike attribute training on virtue.  It went pretty well, and the district took a lot from it.  We all made goals to use more dignified language, even in our apartments, and to spend any free time we may find ourselves with (such as before meetings), studying and feasting upon the words of Christ.

Friday and Saturday we got a lot of work done and prepared our talks for this past Sunday.  We also took pictures at our dinner appointments with two of our very favorite member families.  The Gs and the Ss.  We got some pretty hilarious pictures with them and we really enjoyed talking and sharing our message with them.  Both families are striving to be a part of missionary work, and we always love to see members who actively do that. :)

Sunday we gave our talks on missionary work, and mine was focused on member missionary work, and in particular, my testimony of the success that comes when the ward works actively with the missionaries.  Both of our talks went really well and the ward appreciated them. One of the recent converts (baptized at the end of October) gave a great talk on missionary work too, so that was really cool to see!

Anyway, that's pretty much what we did this week! We had a lot going on, so sorry this is so long. I hope everything is going well back home, and I love you all! :)

Elder Whicker

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weekly menu

I was in Billings all day yesterday, so Curtis picked up my baskets and texted me the following list.  See if you can spot the unusual item (and no, it's not the girbongs!).

10 small oranges
12 large oranges
4 grapefruit
5 girbongs
1 lemon
2 lime
14 bananas
4 kiwi
8 Asian pears
16 small red apples
5 green apples
2 fat tomatoes
2 containers cherry tomatoes
2 bags of small hot peppers
1 ginger root
10 avocados
18 carrots
2 celery
3 cucumbers
2 red beets
4 onions
2 bags green onions
1 bag spinach
2 head lettuce
4 bunches kale
2 butternut squash
1 human head (shrunken)

You may notice that I changed the look of the menu a bit.  This is because I don't have Word on my new MacBook Pro, so I made a new version with Pages.  :o)

I'm not posting recipes this week in an effort to simplify my life as we get ready to go to China.  I'm making doubles of Wednesday and Thursday nights' meals so I can freeze the extra while we're gone.  I'll do the same thing next week with two more meals.  

And we have dates!

We're leaving Friday, January 25th and returning Thursday, February 7th!  Woo hoo!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

We have travel approval!!

I'm so excited!  Our agency called this morning and told us the good news.  AND they said it shouldn't be a problem to travel before Chinese New Year.  That's the best news ever!  We should know when our consulate appointment is in the morning, and then we can confirm our flights.  It looks like we'll be flying to Seattle and then to Beijing and then to Guangzhou in order to save money.  I wish we could fly directly to Guangzhou, but it's a lot more money.

If we get the consulate date we are asking for, we should be leaving a week from Saturday.  Holy cow!  I have a gazillion things to do!  Ack!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Joshua's email - 1/7/13

Jowlers!  Elder G

Jowler Joshua
 Don't know about "jowling?"  Check this out!

This week has been really good!  We had a district training meeting on Tuesday about the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion.  Elder G is doing really well training the district and helping inspire and uplift everyone in their efforts.  We learned and talked a lot about how important it is to not only keep our covenants and obey the commandments, but to also follow the missionary handbook with exactness.  The handbook is a guide to teach us how to live in such a way that we can always be receptive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, which is incredibly important in missionary work.

After our meeting, I went with Elder L, a missionary from Germany, to Baraboo, WI.  I changed into my service clothes because we were going to be moving a chicken coop from a family's house in Baraboo to another family's house in Portage.  It was pretty cold, and unfortunately I didn't have my coat, but when people here find out that I'm from Montana, they say I don't need a coat, haha.  We spent the next 3.5 hours moving and hauling a chicken coop in the freezing cold, and a foot of snow.  It was pretty fun actually.  We ate dinner with two LDS families, and that was really enjoyable too. We talked a lot about our testimonies, and about Talmage's book, Jesus the Christ.

The next day, we woke up and did service for an old folks' home.  We baked cookies for a couple hours.  Later we got to eat some, so I really enjoyed that too.  We gave a blessing to a lady in the Baraboo ward, and then our exchange was pretty much over.  We literally didn't have any time to proselyte, but I still go into exchanges with a goal that I want to learn at least one thing from my companion.  I learned two things from Elder L. 1) Never get in a car with a German that hasn't driven in a year-and-a-half.  He wasn't exactly the smoothest driver, hahaha!  2) Elder L always thinks about others before he thinks of himself, and I'm always striving to develop that attribute of putting others before myself - which is something my dad is really good at, too.

Wednesday through Friday, we spent a lot of time teaching K the last few lessons before his baptism.  We scheduled and organized his baptismal service, and everything went really smoothly.  We've been working with K for almost three months.  He was supposed to be baptized in December, but he got really sick for about four weeks.  It was really good to see him finally get baptized on Saturday, and the ward welcomed him with open arms.  We were also able to teach a lesson with one of our potential investigators, Leon, who we've been trying to contact for a couple weeks now.  Hopefully something good will come from us continuing to visit him.

Saturday evening after K's baptism, we decided to go tracting.  We've slowly been moving into a finding stage, as we've now baptized S and K, and a few of our investigators have dropped us or vice versa.  We went street contacting and visited potential investigators for a few hours, and we were able to set up a return appointment with an investigator, K, who we feel is very promising.  Afterwards, it was time to tract.  We've begun to pray before we go tracting each time, and Elder G. has a strong opinion that you shouldn't tract just to fill time.  He says we should only tract if we feel inspired to do so, and only tract an area if "we feel good about it."  Haha.  We picked an area to knock, and the first door was opened by a man named K.  Surprisingly, he let us in, and we shared a little bit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him, and talked about baptism.  He seems very promising, and we set up a return appointment for this Saturday.  THE VERY NEXT DOOR, we knocked, and a lady named  came out.  She's a really nice lady in her 40s, and she told us she was familiar with our church, and she studied religion for a few years.  We talked to her about our message for a few minutes and she was very interested.  We set up a return appointment, and then, as directed by the Spirit, we began to talk to her about baptism.  I got the opportunity to invite her to be baptized, and she said, "yes!" with a big smile.  She then said, "you guys are giving me the chills!" as we set up a baptismal date for February 9th.  NO WAY!  Baptismal date set on the doorstep!  We could feel the Holy Ghost incredibly powerfully as we talked to her, and we indicated to her that the feeling she received was from the Holy Ghost.

Anyway, this was pretty much our week!  We got asked to give talks on missionary work this Sunday, so that should be exciting.  We've been pondering a lot about how to get the members involved with missionary work, and so we've begun  to share an awesome message with the ward about bringing friends to church!  Hopefully we'll see some good results from that as well.  Other than that, not much else is going on, other than teaching and finding, and trying to get the members even more involved!  I love Sun Prairie!

I want to challenge all who read this letter to do service for someone this week!  Prayerfully seek someone that you can help AND share the gospel with.  Instead of focusing on only the service, try to find a way that the service you render can help spark a desire to learn more about the gospel.  Look for ways that you can help the missionary efforts by looking for opportunities to teach as you serve.  Just as Ammon served and then taught King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon, you can too.  If you're not sure how to share the gospel with others, pray and ask for the guidance that you need, and it shall be given you. :) Every member a missionary!

Love, Elder Whicker!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Weekly menu

One more week of no Bountiful Baskets due to the holidays.  Argh!  I hate buying produce at the store!

Here's what I have left or have purchased:

potatoes (red and fingerling)
butternut squash
acorn squash
spaghetti squash
red bell peppers
French green beans
snow peas
yellow squash
spring mix salads
shredded cabbage

mandarin oranges

And here's the menu for this week.  I'm not going to post the recipes because they're all re-runs, and I've posted them before.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Today I sent off our Chinese visa applications.  We should have our passports back late next week.  Hopefully we'll have our travel approval soon!

Professor Buttons, aka Aristotle, aka Beef Jerky, aka Big Mama

Curtis and I have been on the lookout for a second cat for a while now.  We had a pretty big list of wants in a cat: declawed (not by us - we didn't want the guilt of it!), female, small, young, and very affectionate.  We had a good possibility come up last week, but that cat ended up going to another family.  We've looked at a few others, but they none of them were very good fits for one reason or another.  Yesterday, though, my dad helped a family move who had a cat they needed to give away.  He told us how amazing the cat was, so we asked him to bring it to us, sight unseen.  HE is not a she, he's HUGE, and he's not declawed.  But he is stunningly beautiful, 3 years old, and the most affectionate cat I've ever had.  He loves to have his tummy rubbed like a dog.  He's absolutely perfect for us!

He seems to be a British Blue, although I'm sure he's not a purebred.  He looks like a lion when he walks.  He's really something to behold.  Now if we could just come up with a name!  We're not overly fond of "Professor Buttons," which is the name he came with.  The other names in the post title are ones that our kids are trying to foist upon him.  ;o)  I don't really know if it's OK to change a cat's name, but I'd love something less cutesy.  Frankly, I think "Grey" is nice.

Joshua's email - 1/2/13

Since the libraries were closed the last two days, Joshua had his p-day today.  I was so happy to hear from him!  He sounds like he's doing great.  :o)  I love the goofy pictures!

This will be short-ish, because we only have 30 minutes to email today. We were really busy this week and the library was closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Last week, we did quite a bit of tracting.  We're slowly moving into kind of a finding stage, but that's okay.  We've already got a few new investigators, so that's good!  We started teaching one of our potential investigators that we found when I first got here.  Hopefully something good will come from that.  His name's B.  He's a really nice guy from  Nigeria.  He's Catholic, but he's very open when it comes to religion, and he has lots of questions.  We gave him a Book of Mormon, and we're continuing to meet with him.

K was supposed to be baptized last Saturday, but he found out late that he had to leave town for the weekend.  We're actually okay with this, because it made it so we wouldn't be so rushed to get him ready for his baptism.  We had time to re-emphasize and reteach lessons that we felt would be necessary.  K is coming along really well though, and we just have one more lesson (which we're teaching him tonight) before he'll be ready for baptism.  Tomorrow we'll organize and schedule his baptismal service! That should be exciting.

Our ward mission leader Brother N, and his wife are EXTREMELY helpful.  We're very convinced that they are angels delivered from  Heaven to aid in the missionary efforts of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.  They've been helping us out a lot lately, as Elder G and I have been really emphasizing getting the members to help in the missionary efforts here.  We've decided that we're going to start sharing with families exactly how they can help with missionary work, and even teach them some of the fundamentals that we're taught as full-time missionaries. That should be good, and hopefully we can find some people to teach and help them receive the gospel!

Sunday, we got asked to teach the lesson for Gospel Principles class.  This is probably the fourth or fifth lesson we've had to teach without sufficient time to prepare, but they always seem to go really well.  My mission/my companion has taught me a TON about how to be an effective, confident teacher, which is something I never thought possible for myself.  I know it's because of my increasing faith in Christ that I'm able to help teach others without nervousness or feelings of doubt!  Moroni 7:33!  I have a strong testimony of that scripture!

Yesterday we had another district meeting, which turned out really well.  Elder G is a really good teacher, and he helped me set a lot of goals for myself.  He's really helped uplift our district a lot as we are all in finding stages at this point, which can be tough sometimes.  Many of the elders in our district constantly compliment him on his trainings, and I feel he has done a really good job at helping everyone to refocus and set and work towards new goals.  It's weird thinking that I've been companions with Elder G. for almost three months!!!!!!!! Next week is our last New Missionary Training (which I'm looking forward to!) and then the week after that I'll have a new companion! CRAZY!  I don't even know what's going to happen, but I'm excited to find out!

Anyway, that's about all from this week.  I actually just got back from exchanges in Baraboo, WI with Elder L (from Germany - very cool kid), who taught me a lot about serving others and putting the Lord, and others, before yourself.  I'll leave a scripture for everyone to ponder over! Mosiah 2:17!

Love you all!

Elder Whicker