We actually got to Facetime with Elder Whitaker for over an hour! What a treat! He looks very healthy and happy! He gave us a "tour" of his apartment. It is very nice. (I thought missionaries were supposed to suffer a little and live in dumps) He says it's the nicest apartment in the mission. There are four Elders living there. The other companionship is English speaking, and have all their things in a bedroom. The second, small bedroom is Elder Whitaker's and Elder Teren's, his companion, study room with their desks. They have their beds and dressers in the living room. The kitchen is very large and nice with Hickory cabinets and a large breakfast bar.
He is excited to serve in Napa, especially because there is a Spanish speaking Branch there. It is very helpful to serve where there are members to support the work. He spent Christmas Eve at a members home and had plans to go to another members home for Christmas Day dinner. Also, the missionaries in his district made plans to all get together on their own. He was making Pico de Gallo for the missionary gathering.
We were curious how the missionaries in his mission use the iPadmini's. This is what he reported. Each missionary has their own device. The device is blocked to most everything except Facebook, and church websites. They can't even get on to their emails (they still go to the library for that.) They are allowed one hour a day to use the internet. Elder Whitaker's current apartment has wifi, so they don't need to leave their apartment. Their initial facebook use was pretty open to communicating with anyone as long as it was uplifting and encouraging. They are now asked to only communicate if they are teaching through that medium. They can also still teach through video linkage. Elder Whitaker uses his ipad to do most of his studying in the scriptures also. He likes to use his internet hour to look up church videos, talks, mormon messages and his latest curiosity--family history. They are also asked to periodically take surveys, set up by the church, about their ipad use.
He misses everyone, but is very happy where he is