Thursday, February 28, 2013

Visiting Bao'an Social Welfare Institute

What a day. I feel like I'm on emotional overload after visiting Thalia's orphanage. I'm so glad we did it, but my feelings about the experience are all in a jumble. The good news is that as far as orphanages go, it's a good place. We were allowed pretty much everywhere and could take pictures and video as we liked, with the exception of individual kids. We visited the on-site clinic, the classrooms, the playground and playroom, and Thalia's old bedroom. (We couldn't visit her current bedroom for some reason I wasn't quite sure about.) We got to meet several of her teachers, including the American teacher who runs Sunshine Academy there. Everyone talked about how much Thalia was loved there, and it was obvious she was. It was obvious all the kids are. I was so impressed with the way I saw them being treated, especially those with serious special needs. It was definitely the best orphanage any of our kids have come from in terms of resources and appropriate care.

We saw 5 or 6 other children with Down syndrome, including a little girl that Thalia booted out of "her" desk so she could take her regular seat in the class. It was so funny! Another little boy with Ds came straight to us and started hugging everyone. He was so cute. :) Our guide kept suggesting that we have the orphanage tell the CCWAA to put him on hold for us. ;) I told her I thought 13 was plenty for us, but that I'd advocate for him once home. I'll have to do some hunting to find him.

The staff also let us meet and photograph several children who have adoptive parents coming for them. I can't wait to send them their pictures! I lived for these updates when we were waiting, so I'm happy to be able to return the favor now. (Or pay it forward, I guess.)

We found out that Thalia was in a foster family for at least the last 3 months. Apparently they so this with all the kids who are going to be adopted so they can get a taste of family life. I wish we could have met the foster parents, but we did meet another child's foster mother and she was wonderful!

Saying goodbye was hard. One of the teachers cried, and others were emotional. Thalia waved and yelled "Goodbye, goodbye," as we walked away and continued until everyone was out of sight as we drove away. I know her life will be much better with us; she'll have a family and a good education, a knowledge of her Savior, and many opportunities, but she's also leaving behind a "family" and her culture. It's hard to think through it all.

The staff took some photos of Thalia's baby pictures on their computer screen but promised to email them to us. I'm posting them below. They're so cute!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Notes from today :)

We did a last-minute name change, and Thalia is now Thalia Kay SongGuo Whicker. Kay is my mom's middle name (and mine). We wanted a way to honor and remember my sweet mom, and this seemed like a good way to do it. My mom has been all over this adoption the last few days, and I know she knows Thalia well. I hope it makes her happy to share her name with our little cutie. :)

Thalia is far from nonverbal. In English, she says "up, down, uh-oh, mama, hello, look" and da (dad)" and there are quite a few things she says in Chinese. Obviously I'm limited in understanding what she says, but so far we have "baba (daddy), ayi (auntie)," and "wo de (my)." And of course, "mama" is also Chinese. She also signs "fish" and "toilet." She's a great imitator, master jargon-er, and a superb gesturer, so I have a lot to work with! She also has no significant dysarthria and good resting tongue posture. This kid's going to be talking up a storm!

Today we took a cab to Shamian Island so we could buy gifts for the family back home. It was fun to be there again, but it's so different than we remember. The beautiful European buildings and gardens are still there, but now that China adoptions have dwindled, the White Swan hotel is undergoing massive remodeling, and the US consulate has moved, it is much quieter. We only saw a handful of adopting families, and there used to be hundreds on any given day. Anyway, we shopped at a couple of stores, stopped for Thalia to dance with the school kids (see video in previous post - it's adorable!), and then we ate at Lucy's. We had planned to go to the Cow and Bridge which is a Thai restaurant that we loved on previous trips, but the recent reviews are really bad, so we skipped it. This was our first trip to Lucy's, even though that restaurant is an icon in the adoption community, because we never wanted to eat American food while we were in China. It was good though, and they had their vegetarian menu displayed outside which was really helpful.

After that, we went and did the adoption registration and the medical exam. Thalia was totally compliant as she got poked and prodded, including when she had her blood drawn. She was stoic! We thought it would be the first time we'd hear her cry, but not a peep!

After the medical exam, we went to a government-run jewelry market and bought a jade necklace for Lily and a jade bracelet for me. I have a jade bracelet from a previous trip, but I wanted a smaller one that was round all over rather than flat on the inside. It is very small in diameter, and I seriously didn't think it would go over my hand. The jeweler whipped out a plastic bag, slipped it over my hand, and then FORCED the bracelet down over my hand and onto my wrist. Thoughts of foot-binding and childbirth came into my mind. I don't think I'll ever be able to get the darn thing off! It's beautiful though, and was a great deal.

We're chilling at the hotel now and I'm doing a little speech therapy session with Thalia while Curtis sleeps. When he wakes up we'll go in search of dinner. We have to be ready by 7:30 tomorrow morning because we're visiting Thalia's orphanage, and it's. 2+ hour drive each way to Shenzhen. Lots of pictures to come!

Thalia dancing

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pearl River Cruise

Our guide set up a dinner cruise for us last night. The entertainment bordered on cheesy and the food on "blah," but it was still a fun experience and we enjoyed seeing all the evening sites. Guangzhou's weather is about like San Diego, so we Montanans are really enjoying the break from winter!

Today we plan to take cab to Shamian Island in the morning so we can do a little souvenir shopping and let Thalia play at the little park. (Our guide took us to a more expensive shop yesterday where she gets a cut of what we spend, but we've done this enough to know that there are true bargains elsewhere!) If it's still there, we're going to have lunch at the Cow and Bridge, a Thai restaurant that we love. Things on the island have really died as the numbers of international adoptions have drastically dropped. Another factor is that the White Swan Hotel is being overhauled, so there's really only one big hotel on the island still in operation. A lot of the shops have closed, and even the medical facility where adoptive parents would go for the required medical exam no longer operates for this purpose. The new clinic location is off-island.

As for Thalia, she's still happier than a clam and doing great. She wants to be carried everywhere, which is physically impossible for us (like most low-tone kids, she feels like a sack of potatoes and doesn't help much when being carried), but she's a trooper about walking. She's got some great motor skills; she can jump with both feet off the ground, can go up and down steps with alternating feet, and has a great pincer grasp for writing/coloring and pretty darn good chopstick mastery.

As I was typing, she woke up and came to my bed to snuggle, so I guess I'll quit and enjoy the moment. :) More later!

Joshua's email - 2/27

Boom! First week in the Muskego Lakes area! It's been sweet! It's a suburb in the Southern Milwaukee area, and the weather has been (for the most part) pretty nice.

Elder A and I were both doubled in on Wednesday, so neither of us know pretty much anything about the area. We have 5 baptismal dates, and soon to be at least six. One is a lady, and the others are all from a FAMILY!!! The family is SO ridiculously golden! They're all from (another country), and the dad owns a local pizza shop. His pizza is DELICIOUS. They were a member referall and the member has been working with them for six years before finally referring us to them. We're having a lot of fun getting to know them and teach them.

The bishop here is wayyyyyyyyyyy cool too. He's veryyyyyyyy involved with the missionaries, and he's constantly asking us what he can do for us, and what he can do to help in the missionary efforts. He's very funny and we both like him a lot. We're looking forward to getting to know the ward better and working with the bishop and ward council.

Last Friday, we had an additional missionary with us. Elder J F. He's from California, and he's pretty cool. He's a hard worker and he loves to serve others, so it was cool spending the day doing work with him and Elder A.

Overall this has been a pretty awesome week. Elder A and I get along really well. I think I mentioned this before, but we both like lifting, singing, guitar, and other stuff. So it's pretty easy to get along with him. He's an INSANELY good teacher, so I'm hoping I can learn some stuff from him.

Anyway, that's pretty much it for now. I'll talk to you all later. Write me!!!! :)

Elder Whicker

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Adoption Day

We'll, it's official. Thalia is all ours!  The official who had us sign all our paperwork about fell off his chair when he found out Thalia was child #13 in our family, but we got through all of his questions and he finally put his stamp on our papers. His questions were legitimate, I suppose, especially coming from someone whose country limits families to 1-2 children, but I felt so powerless to fully explain how and why we do it because of the substantial language barrier.

While we were waiting for our turn with the official, Thalia was listening to some music on a toy of hers in the waiting room. All of a sudden she started dancing - first by bouncing up and down with her arms up, and then she started waving her arms slowly and in a controlled way. We realized she was doing a REAL dance of some kind, so Curtis whipped out the video camera. The movements were definitely memorized and were kind of tai chi-like. Then she stopped in the middle and recited something, and finally she finished dancing with a big bow, whereupon everyone in the room burst into applause. She loved it!  It was so sweet!  I can't upload the video here since we didn't bring a laptop, but I will when I get home.

These are some other adorable things she does: when we get in the elevator (which is covered with mirrors), she either makes a big show of fixing her hair or she flexes her muscles with us like a body builder. It's so funny!  She also has a small cheap ring that we brought her, and when she noticed Curtis and I also have rings, she started making the three of us touch them together (think Wonder Twins) and then pull our hands away in a big flourish and say, "bling!"  She also like us to touch our necklaces together, loves to give big hugs, and loves to clink her glass against ours in a toast. Hilarious!

Sometimes she reaches up and pats my cheeks or smooths my hair out of my face. I know that a child can only give love and affection if she's received it, and I'm so grateful for the good care she's had at her children's home.

After the adoption appointments, we went to a market to buy some souvenirs. Thalia wanted to be carried most of the time, but she also did a great job with not getting into the breakable stuff. She picked our a small panda magnet and was satisfied. ;)  We then went to a grocery store and picked up some snacks and drinks. Even though it was like a kid's free-for-all in there, she picked out just a small sucker.

Speaking of suckers, her teeth are in pretty bad shape. They don't look decayed, but the top two baby teeth are broken and she has two lower permanent teeth that have come in behind her baby teeth. I'm thinking she's got a couple thousand dollars of dental work that will need to be done.

We're heading out in search of shoes for her since all the ones we brought are too big. Tonight we have a river cruise with dinner, so we're skipping lunch. Thalia's fed us enough teddy grahams to hold us over, anyway. ;)

Child of my dreams

I don't even know where to start. Thalia has been with us mere hours, and I feel like she's always been with us. I don't really know what I was expecting, but who she is is not what I was expecting! When she first came out of a side room at the civil affairs office, she came right up to us with the mother and baby panda we'd sent her for Christmas and handed it to me. I thought she looked scared, but then someone told her we were Mama and Baba, and a big smile broke out on her face. Within seconds she was grinning ear-to-ear, making silly faces, giggling, posing, and sporting Curtis' sunglasses. She did classic "rapper" poses wearing those sunglasses, and we all just laughed and laughed. She was so FUNNY, and she totally got that she was being funny. There were screaming babies all around us, but here was this smiling, charming, trusting, engaging little angel that we got to call ours! It was seriously amazing.

Now, we've done this a few times, and I know all about honeymoon periods, but there is something completely different about this whole experience. This little person looks us in the eye. When the camera comes out, she grabs onto the people next to her and wraps her little arms around them and smiles. She stays with us when we walk through the hotel and on the street. She seems to understand already that we're her people, that she is safe, that we will meet her needs, and that she is loved.

She is so sweet and affectionate - not overly so, but just the right amount. She doesn't talk a lot (but she does talk a little, and she imitates quite a bit. She also has very mandarin-sounding jargon!). She gestures like crazy and she gets her intent known without much difficulty. Just watching her figure things out so quickly on the iPad has me floored. She is smart!

Tonight we took her out for dinner. She could have been cruising all over the restaurant, but she sat on her stool and ate everything we gave her (with chopsticks!) and behaved like an angel. She ate a little ice cream for dessert back at the hotel. She had a bath, during which she petty much bathed herself, she dressed and undressed herself, used the bathroom independently, and took care of putting her toys and clothes away.

Right now she's sitting next to me, playing with the iPad and making her little toy dog kiss me repeatedly. She's absolutely amazing and I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. I'm one lucky mom. <3

Sunday, February 24, 2013

5 hours and counting...

We're in our room in Guangzhou trying to prepare for the way our lives will soon be forever changed. :)  Even though we've done this a few times, I'm every bit as anxious, excited and filled with hope as the first time. What will this little person need from us (beyond love, of course)?  What blessings and gifts will she bring to our family that we don't yet know about?  What challenges will there be?  What will her personality be like, what will her preferences be, and how will she adjust?  Will she like our dog and cats?  Will she enjoy her new room and toys?  Will she love having a big family with siblings close to her age?  Will she like to ride bikes and go to the park and shop?  Will she sense that she's in a safe place with love, fun, happiness, and just the right amount of crazy?

I believe with all my heart that this sweet daughter of God was hand-picked for our family, so no matter what comes - good or bad - she is ours and we are hers. <3

Thursday, February 21, 2013


This is it.  The bags are packed.  The laundry is done.  The groceries are purchased.  The bills are paid.  The house is (mostly) clean.  The kids are (mostly) settled.  In an hour we'll be on our way to Billings to spend the night, and tomorrow morning at 7:15, we'll be on our way to China.  Monday we'll have Thalia in our arms, and she'll NEVER be alone again.  One less orphan, two more elated parents, 12 more doting siblings in the world.  It's all good.  It's so good.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

6 more days...

We're in the final countdown for our trip.  I'm getting excited, but I also can't help feeling a little skittish about the whole thing.  I know that what happened before can't happen again, but I still have this anxious feeling that something awful could happen.  I wish I could shake it.

Today I spent a couple of hours redoing the "bible" of schedules and instructions that I'm leaving behind for my sister and brother-in-law while they watch our kids, and I redid all the menus.  Then Lily and I went to the grocery store and bought everything we need for the coming week, plus all the nonperishable stuff for the following week.  That way, on Thursday morning, I'll just have to go buy a little bit of produce.

After our shopping trip, I spent another couple of hours chopping and processing all of our Bountiful Baskets produce.  I also did laundry and made cookies for our next door neighbor whose husband died a couple of days ago.  My heart hurts for her.  Then Curtis helped me get about 15 delicata squash halved and de-gooped for our lunch tomorrow.  I'm going to stuff them with a mixture of quinoa, mushrooms, cranberries and pumpkin seeds.  We're also having a strawberry-pineapple frisee salad, rolls, and raspberry pie for dessert.  On Tuesday we're having roasted veggies and beer bread with vegan fondue.  I can't wait for that.  Yum.  :o)  After that, it's easy stuff like potato-leek soup and BLTs with tempeh bacon.  I have to keep things easy toward the end of the week so we can get everything repacked.

Now I'm sitting here typing and watching an old episode of 21 Jump Street.  Somehow I've managed to get readdicted to this show.  I blame Hulu.  It's SOOO lame this time around, but I can't stop watching! The clothes!  The hair!  The music!  It's like watching a train wreck; I can't look away.  Normally I'd be working on my lesson for my Sunday School class, but I have a new job that I'll start the Sunday we get back.  I'm the new chorister for Primary, our children's program.  I'm really excited to have this job because I've done it before and loved it, but it's bittersweet because this is the job my mom had.

I'm not going in chronological order, here, but on Valentine's Day, I gave Curtis a "soda sampler" and I made him a vegan Texas sheet cake (which was AMAZING, if I do say so myself!).  He sent me flowers, which were beautiful, and he made veggie fajitas for us for dinner.  It was a perfect night.  Last night we went out to dinner and then came home and watched two movies.  The first one was Here Comes the Boom, and the second one was Shanghai Calling.  We LOVED them both!  It was another perfect night.

Sorry there's no menu again this week.  There aren't many who wait with baited breath for them, but there are a few people who like them.  ;o)  I promise I'll get back into the swing of things once we get back from China.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Joshua's email - 2/11

What's up everyone! I hope everyone's had a great week!

I've been studying Christlike attributes from Preach My Gospel and the scriptures lately, and I've had some really good experiences by doing that.  I've been really studying Charity from the scriptures, and I've had some really cool experiences from that.  I've found that when I pray and ask for charity in all that I do, it truly makes a noticeable difference.  We had an awesome lesson with a less active that we've been working with for a while, and I believe that because Elder J have been praying for charity, it really helped the less-active to feel more loved and in turn, he was much more willing to accept commitments and to strengthen his relationship with our Father in Heaven.  Very cool.

Last Monday, I got my haircut at a local barber shop.  It was a pretty nice place, and the barber did a really good job....... except HE SHAVED ONE OF MY EYEBROWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He asked me a question right as he shaved it, and I was completely bewildered at what had just happened.  I was faced away from the mirror, so I didn't know if he had actually shaved it or what had happened.  I was too confused and embarrassed to ask him to shave the other one!  When I got to the car and checked my eyebrows in the mirror, Elder J BUSTED UP laughing... We went home and I spent the next 30 minutes fixing the other eyebrow so they both matched... What the heck!!!!!  Oh and Elder J also found it to be pretty funny that the barber was a serious Jehovah's Witness, who kept saying things like, "Have you ever even read the Book of Mormon?? Even in there it says that you're supposed to be a Jehovah's Witness!"  He also laughed that the barber kept calling me "Montana Slim."  What a crazy guy. Hahaha.

Tuesday, we had an awesome Zone Training Meeting.  Afterwards, we visited some potentials and then had a really good lesson with J, where we finished talking about the Restoration.  He's soaking everything up like a sponge and he keeps talking about how he's in this for the long haul, and he's "learning things that make total sense, even though [he has] been to several different churches throughout the years. Pretty awesome.  His countenance gets brighter and he seems happier every time we visit.  He mentioned that his Jewish roommate (who told him not to open the door if we knocked their door) has been softening up to mormons and he even asks us questions and participates slightly in lessons with J.  That's been way cool.

The next day, we had an INCREDIBLE lesson with V!  He says he's felt he's received an answer to know the Book of Mormon is true. He has two roommates who he's trying to share the Book of Mormon with.  We asked him what the next step is in his life is, and he said that he wants to be baptized but he's not sure if he's worthy enough to be baptized yet.  He has some things to work through, but he's making solid efforts to become worthy.  He works 50-70 hours a week, so we don't get to see him very often.  We talked about one step that will help prepare him, and that's by coming to church.  He agreed to come, but he works every weekend, so that's a problem.  We shared 1 Nephi 3:7 with him, and he decided to make an effort to take Sundays off or to find a new job so that he could come. He's had a couple baptismal dates before, but they haven't stuck because he gets so busy with work.  Hopefully now that will change.

I think I mentioned M last week.  It turns out that she gave us a wrong address and number! Which was a HUGE bummer because she seemed soooooooooo solid!!!! But it turned out okay, because we've been having good things happen with other investigators.

We had a couple other lessons throughout the week with J. At first, he was very unwilling to pray, so we taught him how to pray on his own.  He ended that lesson with a super powerful prayer, and that was really cool to see.  We also brought a member to a lesson where we talked about the Plan of Salvation.  It was especially spiritual because the member gave PERFECT comments that helped J understand what we were trying to teach.  J came to church again this Sunday!!

We had another really really cool conversation with the D family.  I think I talked about them before.  We call Brother D "the brother of D," and we like to say that "the veil of unbelief has been lifted from the eyes of the brother of D."  He has an incredible knowledge of the scriptures and the gospel, and he talked very deeply about what life after death will be like, and what "eternal joy" really is.  Crazy!

So it's been a pretty good week this week.  Nothing is set in stone yet, but I think I've only got a week left in Sun Prairie (most likely), so I'll only be here until February 20th.  Please send mail from now on to my mission office address:

Elder Josh Whicker
5651 Broad St. Ste. 1
Greendale, WI 53129

Love you all!

Elder Whicker


We've seen a lot of progress over the past week.  Progress on our kitchen, progress toward getting our trip rescheduled, and emotional progress.  I actually went a full day without crying a couple of days ago, so I think that says something!

I miss my mom like crazy and it is SO hard having her gone.  But at the same time, I feel I've been blessed to perceive, at least on some level, just how thin the veil truly is.  I can feel her with me, and I've had some amazing experiences that are too sacred to share here, but that confirm for me that she lives on, that she's happy, and that she's still got a darn good sense of humor!  I talk to her daily, and I believe she can hear me.  I know that she knows what's going on in our lives and that she can be involved, at least to some extent.

I think I mentioned, our trip is rescheduled for February 22nd.  We have everything rebooked, and things are falling neatly into place.  Our biggest obstacle right now is that United Airlines is trying to charge us penalties for rescheduling, even though they told us they wouldn't because the change was due to the death of an immediate family member.  Hopefully we can get all of that sorted out soon.

We were notified that we will be getting a small matching grant, so hopefully that money will be available to offset the increased travel costs if we can't get them to refund those charges.  If they do, we'll use it for our first post-placement visit, which has to take place about 2 1/2 weeks after we return.

Joshua emailed today and is doing great.  I love hearing from him.  He is such a hard-working, fun-loving kid!  I'm so proud of all the great things he is doing.  He really is a wonderful missionary.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Joshua's email - 2/4

Hello everyone! This week has been full of all kinds of crazy experiences!

Elder J and I recently received a text message from one of the senior missionaries in the mission office, Elder Shumway, that said something along the lines of, "Elders, your right tail light is out and you need to replace it!  Go to an auto parts store, buy a new bulb, and change it out! I've seen sisters do it, so get it done!"  Elder S is HILARIOUS.  We felt like we should probably do that, so we worked on that and then cleaned the apartment for the day.  After dinner, we were walking down our street to visit V.  We knocked, and he wasn't there, so we decided to go to the other side of the block to visit a potential investigator, T.  We decided it would be better to cut through the warm apartments (since it has been FREEZING COLD lately) to get to the other side.  We opened the door and took the first couple steps to get through the apartment until a bald man in his 50s said, "Stop! I need to talk to you guys!"  We stopped and talked to him for 20 minutes about the gospel and about some of the trials he's having in his life.  He began crying and we asked if we could pray for him.  We prayed for him to have strength and comfort, and he just kept weeping.  After, he told us he had seen us in the street once before, but couldn't muster up the courage to stop us.  He's having a really difficult time in his life and he says he knows he needs the gospel to help change that.  He gave us his number and told us to call him in a couple days.

Tuesday, Elder J had his first District Meeting and he TORE IT UP!  We talked about the role of the Book of Mormon in conversion, and how the Book of Mormon, along with the Holy Ghost, are our two most powerful tools as missionaries.  Later that night, we had dinner at a member family's home.  They have seven kids.  I think I wrote about them before, but I'll re-cap a little bit.  The mom, Sister S., went on her mission to Guatemala, and at one point during her mission, she had a really interesting experience.  She told us a story about how the General Authorities all visited a particular body of water and unanimously agreed that it was the Waters of Mormon.  Sister S. showed us a book that was written all about the Waters of Mormon and it had lots of pictures.  They also had a replica set of the weights that are talked about in Alma. That was pretty crazy!

Wednesday night, we exchanged with the Zone Leaders.  Elder J went with Elder H in Madison, and I stayed in Sun Prairie with Elder L.  Elder L. is a beast!  I actually met him the first day in the field, so I knew of him, but didn't know a whole lot other than who he was.  He's a way focused, energetic kid from Utah who has a lot of the same interests as me.  We talked a lot about weightlifting, sports, and music.

The next day, we were completely out of miles for the month (we had to make an unexpected visit to Beaver Dam for a baptismal interview), so Elder L and I had to walk to all of our appointments and potentials.  We were outside in the single-digit temperatures the entire day, so that was really tough, but we made it work.  We got a TON of work done, and set up lots of solid return appointments.  We also visited T, who has kind of been on our backburner for a while, and had a really good lesson with her.  We FINALLY figured out what we need to do to help her progress! So that was an insane experience too. She's been taught almost all the lessons, but there's been one thing holding her back, and we finally know how to handle that.  Later, as we were visiting potentials, we found a FAMILY to teach!  As we were leaving the apartment complex, we found a short girl in her 20s who was walking into one of the apartments.  We stopped her and asked if we could talk to her, and she accepted.  I shared some of our message with her, and Elder L. bore testimony powerfully afterwards.  The Spirit was crazy strong!  We told her we would like to come and teach her more, and she accepted.  We asked if we could have a prayer with her, and she asked us to pray for her aunt with breast cancer. I prayed for her, and after the prayer, we looked at her and she had tears streaming down her face.  She said thank you, and told us she was looking forward to seeing us again.  Awesome!  After we left, Elder L. said, "Dang!! We should've set a baptismal date!" and we both laughed.  I think we'll be able to set that when we see her on Wednesday for sure!

Friday morning, we went with Elder S to haul furniture to and set up the new missionary apartment in Richland Center.  The sisters from Prairie Du Chien were there, Sister B and Sister R.  Sister R is from Great Falls, MT!!!! She went to Missoula and she said she knows M H.  We talked for a while, and she's way cool!  She's a convert and was baptized about 5 years ago by one of her friends.  Now she's about 3 weeks into her mission, and that's way cool too.  It's crazy to think that even though she came out 3.5 months after me, she'll be home before me! Haha!

We had a lesson with J on Saturday, and we invited him to be baptized.  He said he would, and he now has a date for March 9.  That was pretty cool!  Sunday was going to be really good because we were expecting T, K, T, and J at church.  T and K weren't able to make it, but J, T, D, D (her two kids), and one of T's son's friends, D came.  It was crazy!  We met D when we visited with T on exchanges, and we're hoping to be able to start teaching him soon.

Anyway, that's pretty much all that happened this week.  We've been pretty busy, and we've expanded our teaching pool quite a bit over the last few weeks.  We're excited to teach M, J, R's family, and hopefully get T and her kids solid too!  T's 11-year old son, D is still reading the Book of Mormon, so that's SWEET!

Anyway, sorry my letters are always so long. :p  I'll talk to you guys next week! Love you!

Elder Whicker