be sure to check out the last few pictures...
Elder Whitaker arrived safely home about 10:30pm Tuesday, February 3. It is wonderful to see him and have him back in our home. We are very proud of the sacrifice that he gave and hard work that he did for 2 years. He fulfilled his duty to share his faith and testimony with others. (Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mom and Dad
be sure to check out the last few pictures...
Queridos Amigos y Familia!
Bueno, this week's been weird. I'm going to be honest this e-mail's going to be a pretty short one, we don't have a bunch of time before we have to drive down to Santa Rosa.
Some of the highlights of the week were saying goodbye to all the members here. There might be some characters, but you really grow pretty close to them in a short time here in Clearlake. We also had the opportunity to go to the Young Ambassador show in Lakeport, which the show itself was pretty weird watching, but I got to see a lot of the members from Cloverdale while I was there, which was really cool. I got to say bye to them one last time.
Unfortunately the investigator work in our area has slowed down, I don't know why exactly, but the good news is that the less-active work is going pretty well. We are teaching the Mendoza Family and the Rivera Family pretty consistently, as well as Nacho and a number of other less-actives like Rafael. We also have been teaching some of Hno. Rivera's other children (from a previous marriage) who aren't baptized. Particularly his 11-12 year old son who just moved to the area and so is spending a lot of time with his dad now. If anyone is baptized in this area in the near future it'll be him.
Well, that's about all that I have time for, but I love y'all and am really excited to see all of y'all in a little while! Love y'all!!
Queridos Familia y Amigos!
This has been a great week. We had a half mission conference with
Elder Nielson of the 70. I learned a lot from him and what he taught
us. (Even though some of it doesn't really apply super well to me at
this point... not trunky) One of the first things he shared though was
Alma 26:26-31 and he replaced the word wilderness with the California
Santa Rosa Mission. He called it the "wheels up" scripture because
it's how we should feel as we fly away and the "wheels fold up". I
really want to be able to feel the same as Ammon and I'm planning on
working in such a way that I can this last week. He also shared a lot
about the enabling power of the Atonement and how it relates to us and
to our investigators. He talked a lot about how we need to act, and
the importance of our action to do our best regardless of
circumstances and the difference between asking Heavenly Father to
change our circumstances and asking Him to give us strength to
overcome and endure trials and hard times.
He also had a question and answer session that was a great learning
experience for me. It was amazing to see the extent of his scriptural
and Gospel knowledge and he accounted a very interesting story about
when he was first called to be a Seventy.
Also this week we've been able to have some pretty good lessons,
unfortunately things aren't going how we would like with many of our
investigators, but that's kind of how missionary work goes some weeks.
One funny story from this week though is that we went to visit an
investigator named Roberto and while we were pretty sure he wasn't
home we decided to go try anyways. To get in we had to open his gate
with his dog, Pancho, right next to it. Pancho is really nice and
friendly, but is also pretty young and has a lot of energy. So, when
we opened the gate, out bolted Pancho and went running down the
street. After a few seconds of indecision Elder Foster hops into the
truck and we all pile in and drive off after Pancho. Finally down the
street and around the corner we catch up with Pancho and corral him
into the front seat of the car. We got a lot of pretty weird looks as
we drove back as missionaries with a dog in the front seat and
unloaded Pancho back into his yard. Luckily Roberto was not there and
so hopefully will not hear about the incident from his neighbors and
hold it against us.
Love y'all and hope y'all have a wonderful week!!
Hola Familia y Amigos!!!
This has been a kind of hard week, but it's been super good as well.
It was hard because as a zone we started the "mission possible" where
everyday for a week every companionship contacts 20 people. It just
was hard to do here in this area where there's not really a central
place people walk around in, there's not a lot of apartments to tract,
lots of houses have gates around them and it gets dark here at about
6:30. But we persevered and we did it, everyday!
We also taught Yessica this week!! Unfortunately her sister Paulina
wasn't there, but her friend Angelina was! We taught them the whole
Restoration and at the end invited them to baptism, and they both said
that if they came to know that it's true they'd be baptized! They both
seemed to understand really well and be really interested, so we're
super excited. We have a lesson set with them for tonight, but
unfortunately I'll be in Kelseyville on exchanges as well as Elder
Foster with one of the Zone Leaders. So it'll be Elder Beeston's first
time leading the area being in charge of where to go, who to visit,
and what to do. So it'll be good for him, but he might have a bit of a
hard time. He'll learn from it though, which is the point.
Also this week we taught the RIvera family, the Mendoza family, and
Rafael for less-actives. They are all doing alright, although none of
them were able to come to church this Sunday. But we'll keep working
with them and we hopefully will help them be able to come next Sunday.
We also picked up a new investigator, Ray this week. He's a 20
something year-old kid who is living by himself and working and he's
met with missionaries before. It seems like he's been having a hard
time, but we hope to help him out with the Gospel.
Hope y'all have a wonderful week! Love y'all!
Querido familia y amigos!
This has been a pretty darn good week. Although we haven't had any
real "adventures" like last week we had a good week for teaching. We
taught the parents to a family, the Batrez family, an object lesson
about the "steps" of the Gospel that are the path to get back to God's
presence and we set a baptismal date with them!! They still have some
concerns about it, but they have been praying about it and said if
they got an answer they would follow that and be baptized.
We also taught a lot of lessons to less-actives, we taught the Mendoza
family, the Rivera family, who came to church, and others that were
people we just ran into going out and about. We even met a less-active
member that had wanted to go to church, but didn't know where the
church building in Clearlake is at. We gave her the address and the
number of a member that lives nearby that she could get a ride with.
Unfortunately her health is such that she probably wasn't feeling able
to come and she wasn't there, but it was cool to be able to meet her.
The English missionaries also had a baptism this week! It was really
good, it was the daughter of one of the members who has joint custody
and so his daughter is only here sometimes, but she really wanted to
be baptized while she was here and so she did it! And something funny
that happened that kind-of gives a good picture of how the ward is
here is that the Sisters of Middletown shared the Missionary Moment
and shared the "Reclaimed" video. The Elders Quorum President was
there and sat next to me. He really liked the video, but I guess we
didn't realize the full scope of how much he liked it until we were at
his house for dinner later and probably the first thing he said when
we walked in was, "Man, that video was B****ing!" Just goes to show
what the Highlands Ward is made of!
I love y'all and hope this week goes well!
Hola Familia y Amigos!
This week has been... well... adventurous haha and super good! So there's two main adventures and the first one happened Wednesday. We started out on our way to do some service at 11 am with some members that live pretty far out from the main part of Clearlake. We thought we had their address right... long story short, we didn't. And to top it all off, we didn't have phone service, so we went out there, found out it was a wrong address, had to drive 3/4 of the way back to get service to call and ask for directions in which the members told us "go to Williams and we're the second left about a block up on the right..." or so we thought we heard. So we start driving to Williams, even though the signs said it was 36 miles away. We just thought our ward boundaries went that far. We got there though and realized that it couldn't be the place in which we called the members back and realized they had said go toward Williams and it's the second left... So we may or may not have accidentally driven out of the mission boundaries... But it's ok because we really had no idea, and it was pretty fun because it was us and the english elders all together driving around for a while. So that was the first adventure of the week.
The second adventure is penned in the words of Elder Beeston, "The most interesting day of the week was Friday at 1:30 AM. I suddenly awoke in the middle of the night to insanely loud pounding and screaming outside. "OPEN THE DOOR" an man screamed furiously. All of the elders instantly jumped out of bed and stepped back. The smashing on the door continues "WE SAW YOU THROUGH THE WINDOW AND KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE. OPEN THE DOOR OR WE'LL BREAK IT DOWN." . Elder Foster pulls out the phone and calls 911 as we all retreat to the back of the apartment. At this point we can tell there are multiple men outside. Elder Foster tells 911 what is going on and waits for directions. I listen to the phone for a moment and finally the operator comes back with this advice: "open the door". Now I'm like 100% sure the world has gone crazy because we're about to get ambushed by some crazy ax murderer (or whoever is out there) and 911 is telling us to open the door. Suddenly I hear it. Our neighbors door gets smashed in. There's a bunch of commotion in their apartment and our neighbor gets arrested. So it turns out they were knocking on their door the whole time, but they were using a baton and so it was so loud we thought they were knocking on ours. It was so close to us too that we thought the voices that were just outside our door were talking to us. We must have been asleep for the very beginning of the confrontation and that's how we didn't know that they were the police. (And why we were so confused when 911 told us to open the door, they thought we were the people they were after)"
Needless to say that we had a hard time getting back to sleep that night, but now it's one of our favorite stories to tell.
One last funny story, we were teaching a former investigator and while he really enjoys talking to the missionaries he doesn't see the reason for going to our church versus other churches. He was talking to us in english, even though spanish is definitely better for him, and he kept insisting "There's only one cheese, there's only one cheese!" for why it doesn't make any difference which church you go to. Of course we knew he was trying to say "there's only one Jesus", but it is still one of the most quoted lines of the past week!
We had a good week and I wish I had more time to tell y'all about what happened this week, but it was a really memorable, fun week and we had some really cool miracles this week. And to finish really quick these pictures are what our truck looks like after a week of driving in Clearlake.
Love y'all!!! Til next week!
To see all the pictures, go to the "pictures" tab...
Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo a Todos!!
This was a super fun week! Christmas was great, we did a bunch of service and I really enjoyed doing that. We went and caroled at a Nursing home and we also helped serve a Christmas dinner for the community at a Methodist Church. It was lots of fun and more importantly we were able to touch a lot of lives. We also were able to do a lot of other service this week for members. We helped a lady in the Ward to move her things from her apartment that was flooded to the house she's living in now. We also helped a family out with moving and gathering a lot of brush that they had in their yard, and we might be able to go watch them burn it on New Year's Eve for a little, which would be lots of fun!
Otherwise though this week was a bit slower than normal because of the holidays. A lot of people aren't home or if they are they don't want to use their time listening to missionaries. But it was pretty cool, on the day of Christmas Eve we were knocking doors and Elder Beeston (although he seemed like he was scared out of his mind!) started teaching someone on the doorstep in Spanish! He's a great new missionary that is very humble, and will do what we suggest or ask to the best of his ability, even when he's scared or nervous or doesn't know exactly how to do it. It really makes it easy to help him learn how to do things well and help him have confidence in himself for the future. And so we were able to pick up a new investigator this week because of it! We also were able to visit the Rivera family and the Mendoza family and Nacho (all of whom are less-actives). They all were doing pretty well, and some members of the Mendoza family came to church this Sunday!! They weren't able to stay for all three hours, but at least they came to Sacrament Meeting!
Also, I kind of feel like one of the reasons I was sent here to Clearlake was to prepare me to be back in Georgia. Seriously there's more of a feel of the South here than anywhere else in the mission (that I've been to at least). There's tons of trucks, everybody wears camouflage clothes and loves to go hunting and fishing and stuff. It's pretty funny actually to be serving here having lived in Georgia.
We had a really good Christmas week and I hope all y'all did as well. I'm excited for the New Year and I hope it goes really well for all y'all as well! Love y'all!
Hola Mis Queridos Amigos y Familiares!
Where do I start with Clearlake?? It's definitely a very different place than really anywhere else in the mission. But I'll start with my address:
P.O. Box #1241
Clearlake, CA 95422
So yes, we have a P.O. Box for mail. I'm not sure why our apartments don't have mailboxes but I guess it is what it is. But to tell more about Clearlake, it's a very different town. It has very few paved roads for it's size, which isn't that big at all. Apparently Lake County has the highest number of people on welfare in the entire state of California. So it has a lot of poor people and the conditions of the roads and the houses are pretty poor, but it does mean that we have a truck here in Clearlake. It's cool and there are really humble, nice people here and the ward is looking like it's going to be as much fun as the Cloverdale Ward. Cool thing as well, we get to cover the area of two English wards, and so we often are involved with the other ward as well, which is cool to meet more people and work with them too.
So my new companions are Elder Foster and Elder Beeston. Elder Foster came out the same time as me and so we are both dying together, which is cool because ever since we spent the first day together in the hotel room we've both thought it would be cool to serve together and now we are. And Elder Beeston is a new missionary that Elder Foster is training. So we have three missionaries who are on both extremes of the spectrum, Elder Beeston, brand-new, and Elder Foster and I, almost dead.
Clearlake is cool, and we have a few pretty solid people we're teaching from what Elder Foster is telling us, I just haven't really met many of them. But I'm super excited for this transfer. I don't know why the Lord has sent me here, but I'm excited to be here and to find out why He wants me here.
Love y'all! Have a very Merry Christmas!
Hola Familia y Amigos!
Well, this week has been a bit of an up and down week with lots of different emotions. As the title hints, I found out this past Friday that instead of staying in "Clovertucky" and dying here, I get to go to Clearlake, CA to spend my last 7 weeks as a missionary. That's most of what the mixed feelings are about. Although I know that the Lord has a reason and a plan for having me go there to Clearlake, I can't help but kind of feel jipped on my time here in Cloverdale. I didn't have any expectations other than to stay here until the end and I was excited for that because I've really grown to enjoy the ward here in Cloverdale, interesting and unique as it is, with all of its interesting, unique, and loving people. I'm going to miss it, but like I said, I guess the Lord just has something else in store for me.
As far as this week has gone, we've had a pretty good week although Elder Hansen got pretty sick on Wed. and Thurs. He got the flu pretty bad and mostly just had to stay in and sleep most of the time. But he's better now. And we had some pretty good lessons as well with 2 of our investigators who are 16-19 year old teenagers who's families we're teaching, one is named David and the other Alex. Alex is new this week, but he is really great. He read most of the pamphlet and really seemed to understand what we were teaching and what it really meant. Also David is someone we've been teaching for a bit, and he's doing great. He still is having trouble starting the habits of reading the scriptures and praying everyday, but considering that he's never done either of those before he really shows the desire and the effort to start doing it. We're even going to meet with him in the library on Tuesdays. We also taught the Martinez on Monday and they have been doing pretty well, although they didn't come to Church this Sunday :( But otherwise this week's been good!
Also I wanted to share a small piece of advice with all the soon to be missionaries in the ward: It's often said that "if you're not having fun on your mission, you're not doing it right". I whole-heartedly agree with that. Missionary work, while hard, is fun. But many, many missionaries look for that fun in ways that conflict with the work and the way the Lord wants things done. That leads me to add my own phrase, "if you're breaking rules to have fun on your mission, you're also not doing it right". I know that the rules and direction we receive from our mission presidents and from the First Presidency are truly from the Lord and are for our protection and benefit. Follow them to the best of your ability at all times and the Lord will bless you for it.
Have a great week! I love y'all and Merry Christmas!!!
Querido familia y amigos!
Well this week was pretty exciting, at least the first half. The
second half was a little slower, but it was still good. On Monday
evening we had a great lesson with a new investigator named Brenda. We
showed her the He is the Gift video and she loved it! She said
afterward when we asked her what she thought about the video she said
that she had never felt like that before! She obviously grew up with
some extent of knowing about Jesus and God, but has never been very
religious and so she really felt the Spirit strongly with the video.
It was really really neat to see the change at came over her from what
you could tell she was kinda like to what she all of a sudden wanted
to do and become.
Then later in the week we met a good lady named Lacy who's apparently
a former investigator, but as soon as we knocked her door she opened
up and invited us in to have some tostadas, which I haven't had in
forever it feels like and it was really nice to have some real Mexican
food again! And we shared the He is the Gift video with her and left
her with a Book of Mormon and while we haven't had another lesson with
her we stopped by and she'd read the introduction, which is what we
left her! We also went by and saw another family we're teaching and
while the dad was out we talked to the son and he'd been reading the
pamphlet and a little in the Book of Mormon as well! So we're
definitely seeing miracles here! Basically my evaluation on the area
for Spanish work is that there is definitely work to do and potential
to be had. What I don't know is whether or not it's enough potential
compared to other areas to keep it open. That's a decision that will
have to be made by President Alba. But I hope that I get the
opportunity to continue working the area and trying to get it going
and see miracles here. But if not I know it's the Lord's will and I'll
go where I'm needed!
I love y'all and hope y'all have a great week!