Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Survive the MTC and Other Blessings

Hey family!!! How's it going?!?!?

I have so much to write to you!!! I'll try to remember everything!

So basically the MTC is freakishly amazing. I love it so so so much. And even though I've only been here a week, I feel like a total MTC pro. For reals. I mean. Let's be real. I spend like 18 hours a day awake and doing a bunch of stuff. So I've had plenty of experiences. But it's cool. So here's the advice I got: Just make it to Sunday.

I was like. Um. Whatever. That's weird.

But it's EXTREMELY true. For sure. So basically the first 4 days at the MTC, I literally experienced EVERY SINGLE EMOTION. No joke. It's like super hard and overwhelming and you have plenty of experiences to feel discouraged or inadequate. But there was also lots of fun stuff and I love my companion and my teachers and whatnot. So yeah. Saturday night, we were all just like "ugh. what did we get ourselves into?"

Then Sunday came. And no joke THE HEAVENS OPENED. On Sunday we still have a busy schedule and we have a million places to be, but we don't feel stressed or worried. The spirit is so strong. It's just so amazing. It's like being in the temple. :) That's how great.

We went to Music and the Spoken Word which was SOOOOOOOO perfect. I've always had a favorite song by the MoTab choir. It's called "Alleluia". It's just the men singing. Mom. Dad. Listen to it!! Well anyways. We got to the thing and they totally started singing that song!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was like Heavenly Father was like "ya know what sister whiting? i know what you're going through. this song will help."

It was so great.

P.S. I wrote y'all a letter. Hopefully mom you'll feel motivated to type it up and put it on my blog also. I just don't have a ton of time to type. Ya know.

Haha. So anyways. On Tuesday we had a devotional with six of the twelve Apostles:

D. Todd Christoffersen
Neil L. Andersen
Russell M. Nelson
M. Russell Ballard
Dallin H. Oaks
David A. Bednar

It was SAWEET!!!!!!!

Elder Christoffersen said that missionary work is exciting and humbling. And let me tell you. He. Is. Right. I have been so humbled. I am soooo not good enough. However. I have had more fun learning and teaching than I ever believed I could. I have seen the Savior work through me to serve others. I have seen he doesn't just know me. He loves me. He is my friend. He trusts me. I love that. :)

Mostly I just want to tell you about my investigator. I shall call him D. He is soooo sweet. He's 75 and just the cutest person ever. He loves to tell stories about his family and just talk to us.

Sister Heirtzler and I were pretty worried to meet with him at first because he is against organized religion. But after our first visit, we just felt SOOOOO happy! He's amazing! And extremely prepared by the Lord. I love him.

Our second lesson we taught him about the Restoration. And we asked him to be like Joseph Smith and pray. He totally did!!!!!! His prayer was so so special. But what's more important than his sweetness it is this:

He doesn't know everything about the gospel or even about God. But he had the faith to pray. And though his words were simple, they were still for God. His Heavenly Father. And he recognized that. Communication with our Father in Heaven is very sacred and very important. I love praying and I already had a testimony of its power. But when I heard D;s prayer, it left my previous testimony in the dust. :) I love him.

Since that day, we have taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation and he has prayed and prayed. He agreed to read the Book of Mormon and learn more.

Here's the scariest thing I've done.
I challenged him to be baptized. And it was SOOOO scary! But after I said it, I knew it was the right thing to say. And he had something to think about. I'm excited to see him on Saturday. :)

I just love being a missionary!

HOW TO SURVIVE THE MTC:

1. Say a prayer with your family right before you leave to the MTC.
2. DON'T DRINK THE ORANGE JUICE.
3. Get to meals early. The lines, especially on Wednesdays, are super long.
4. EXERCISE. You will die. All day long and into the night. If you don't exercise!! :)
5. Bring a water bottle everywhere!
6. Get one of the belt clips with the stretchy thingy for your id card. you'll know what I'm talking about when you get here. It will save you.
7. Bring mints!!! BEWARE MISSIONARY BREATH!
8. Beware of flirtatious Elders. So pretty much all of them. Just ignore them. Well. Ok. Don't ignore them. But don't flirt. It's lame.
9. Don't eat the teriyaki chicken. It will do harm to you......
10. Bring a small hymn book or memorize your hymns cause you have to sing a lot.
11. DON'T JUDGE! people here are amazing even if you don't see it at first.
12. Be positive. It's SSSSUUUUUPPPPPPEEERRRRRRR HARD. But it's also extremely fun and amazing. Just focus on that.
13. GIRLS: Don't buy your clothes at Downeast, Deseret Book, or whatever. Everyone buys there and so they all match. I'm unique cause my beautiful fabulous momma made me skirts. :)
14. ALSO GIRLS: the MTC is NOT conducive to females. *cough cough* Only wear skirts with pockets and keep AT LEAST 2 things with you at all times. Cause you won't get time to go get stuff.
15. Have companionship inventory! It will make you sooooo happy. :)
16. Get used to praying like ALL THE TIME. For reals. Like in the shower, in the cafeteria, outside, inside, with people talking around you, in the quiet, etc. all the time. :) It's awesome

So yeah. That's my advice. It's awesome here. But only if you choose to make it awesome! This gospel is amazing and it's blessed my life. I'm so lucky to be a missionary!

Love,

Sister Whiting

Saturday, June 21, 2014

WAZZZZZZZZUUPPPP!!! Missionary Training Center Week 1

Hey everyone!! (ignore my grammar and whatnot. I'm on a time crunch and I want to say a lot.)

Ok. Um. Can I just say WOW??!?!?!?!? So just so you know it's not actually my p-day. My one and only p-day here is on Thursday next week. Our branch president just wanted us to get on and make sure you know we're not dead or whatever. So. Yeah. I'm alive. Actually, I'm not just alive. I'm having THE TIME OF MY LIFE!!! (but not the Patrick Swayze kind. haha.) I'm kinda sad I only get one p-day so I can only go to the temple once. But that's ok. It's better than none.

Random note: MOOOOOMMMM!!! I'M SO PROUD OF YOU FOR RIDING A MOTORCYCLE!!!! Man. You're sooo cool. :) Also you should chastise Emma for not writing me a dear elder. I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS GIRL!!!! haha just kidding. I love you hot mama babe. I hope you like my gift I left you!! Surprise! You're beautiful!!

OK. Back to the good stuff. FYI I'm here for 12 days. Well. It's already been like 4 so I'm not here very much longer. (sad day. I leave on July 1st at 2:30 am) HOLLA!! I'm super excited!! It's not very long to be here! But that's ok. I love love love the MTC and my district and my teachers. But I'll be glad to get to the great white north. :)

I don't have a ton of time to tell you stuff. I'll make sure to send you a SUPER long email next week on my one p-day. But here's just a tiny low down.

1. My companion's name is Sister Heirtzler! She's sooo beautiful and just absolutely amazing!!! She's such a blessing in my life. She's SUPER SUPER shy and quiet. Like the first day, she didn't talk. I think at all. haha. But she's slowly getting more comfortable at least with me and now I can honestly say I just love her so much and I'm gonna miss her! #BestFriendsForLife

2. Sister H and I were called as Zone Sister Trainer Leaders on Thursday!!! OUR SECOND DAY!!!!! So yeah. I'm kinda nervous and SUPER PUMPED! It's exciting. It means on Wednesday I will get to give orientation to all the newbies!!! It's gonna be sa-weet!

3. The rumors are true. Don't drink the orange juice. *lotsofsadness*

4. I have like NO time to think about basically anything except missionary work. Now I totally know what Jeff was talking about when he was like "I wanna write you but I am pretty busy." Haha. Yeah. NO joke!! SOOOO MUCH BUSINESS!!!! But it's awesome I love it! I've never loved being perpetually exhausted sooo much!

5. I'm writing you a letter. PLEASE KEEP SENDING ME LETTERS AND DEAR ELDERS AND STUFF!!! EMMA, WHY HAVEN'T YOU SENT ME A LETTER YET?!?!?!?!??!?!?I NEED YOU MY BESTIE!!!!!!

6. I had the most experience yesterday with Sister H. We were teaching our investigator Kaitlyn and we were pretty scare cause our first time contacting her was a complete failure. But this time was incredible. The spirit was so strong. Holy cow. Long story short: we were all in tears. Even Kaitlyn. And we challenged her to pray to know her relationship with God. Oh man. It was SOOOO AMAZING. After we left her, Sister H and I just giggled and danced around for like 10 minutes cause we were so overwhelmed with the spirit and happiness in our only success so far!!! :) haha. Man. This is hard. I love it!!!

7. I saw Mark Chatterton today. I totally didn't know he was going on a mission but on my way to the gym, he saw me and was like, "hey Sarah! oh. uh. I mean hey Sister Whiting." haha. It was so weird he remembered me but after we talked I got sooo happy that he was on a mission!!!! There is so much love from the Lord. Oh man. I'm feeling it.

I'll tell you later about my teachers. They're superb!!! Like Emily Coleman superb. Also, all my investigators and stuff. They're so sweet! Except sometimes not! haha. :)

My district leader had to go to the ER last night!!! :( So scary. We made him a card. He's ok but he might get surgery. Like gall bladder or appendix or whatevs. :( GOOD THING WE'RE LEARNING ABOUT PRAYER RIGHT NOW!!!! haha. but seriously.

The MTC presidency is sooooooooooo cool!!! And completely adorable. But whatevs. They totally know exactly how we felt on our first day and they said the PERFECT things to get us all ready to move into missionary life. BTW sorry I didn't look back when you dropped me off like you said you wanted me to. But I was so excited and I didn't want to make it like you'll never see me again. Cause you will. So. Yeah. #SorryNotSorry.

OK yeah. Whoa. Sorry I'm so random. But for reals. There is waaaaaay to much to talk about!! I love you all so so so so much!!!

One thing. I was told that i would feel the spirit of the MTC the second I got there. But I totally didn't. It's kinda weird at first cause you weave in and out of rooms stopping at all these stations to get stuff like your name tag and whatnot. And so it's more crazy. But then we all get together as new missionaries and sing "Called to Serve" and then listen to the MTC presidency talk. It got really powerful when they asked all the missionaries to stand and sing "Army of Helaman" because they changed the words. So instead of singing that "we will be the Lord's missionaries" we sang, "We are NOW the Lord's missionaries" and so on. Man. Not a dry eye in the room!!!!! It's sooo great!!! :)

I just want you all to know that I have the most hardcore solid for sure testimony of this gospel. NOTHING could persuade me that it's not true. I just know know know it is true. I love this MTC. I know the Lord is blessing me to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I already feel his hand in my life!!! It's incredible. I love you!!!! WRITE ME!!! Sorry for the randomness and the lack of answered questions. I'll get a whole hour on p-day!!!! :) Love you all so so so so much!!

Love,

Sister Whiting

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Big Day is finally here! Going to the MTC!!

My family drove to Utah with me a couple days early. Mom, Dad and I got to attend the Salt Lake Temple while the rest of the kids took a tour of temple square and ended up in an organ recital in the conference center. They were feeling cold and wet since it rained all day, but I love the rain so it just made the day more perfect.
Mom and I love the temple flowers!!

Wednesday morning was sunny again, but not that warm. I felt right at home in the clothes I purchased with chilly Canada in mind. Apparently, lots of missionaries get excited on drop off day and go hang out in front of the Provo temple with their families while they wait for their assigned time. We met a family from a town just outside Edmonton who was there to drop off their son for his mission to the Philippines. 
I was so excited. It felt like Christmas morning. I couldn't wait to go and get started!! But first, I had to take time to tell my family goodbye. Here are the pictures my mom took.
Saying good-bye to Emma


...and Parker while Dad comforts Emma. (Isn't it cute how they are lining up for their turns?)

Hugging Sam...

and James to tell them good bye, too.

And a big, long hug for my biggest fan, Dad.
Then, we all piled back into the car to drive across the street with my luggage. AAAAHHHHH! So exciting! Here's the video my Mom made when I was dropped off at the MTC...so fun!


So now, you can send me mail using my official full-time missionary email address:
 Sarah.Whiting@myldsmail.net. 
You can also send free hard-copy mail using www.dearelder.com while she is in the MTC
(so she can read it any time and not just when she gets to use email) 
http://www.dearelder.com/index/inc_name/letter_sender/mission/Provo%20MTC/
Thanks for tuning in.
(Note from Mom: we aren't sure yet which day is prep-day in the MTC, but I will post her letters here. She will only be in the MTC for 2 weeks. We anticipate her leaving for Canada on July 1.)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sister Sarah Whiting: Edmonton Canada Mission

I cannot believe it. I am finally going to be set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints tomorrow night!!!! Less than 24 hours!!!! The past 6 months have been horribly long, and somehow also strangely short!  I mean look!
First Interview, Call, Celebration, Shopping, Temple, Mission


As I will not be blogging after I am set apart, I kinda feel like I should say something. I don't know. It's probably just some sappy stuff. (Just warning you.)  Look at this:
Then and Now

It's weird that it's finally here. I feel like I'm still the slightly obnoxious little girl in a blue dress dancing around. Fortunately the Lord sees past all that and has chosen to let me be one of His full time representatives. But honestly looking at all my blessings and all the people in my life, I have no doubt in my mind this is what  He's planned for me all along. Though I'm an obnoxious little girl, I still know His gospel is true. And I'm gonna share if it's the last thing I do! :)

I have to say. It's all because of these people right here:













Even though I'm kinda boring and it's been pretty crazy, I've had the best 2 weeks of my life surrounded by my family before I enter the MTC on Wednesday. I love you Dad, Mom, Brittany, Mike, Katie, Peter, Josh, Hannah, Nick, Parker, Emma, James, Sam and everyone else that came into town to see me. I am so blessed to have such amazing examples in my life. I'll try super hard to grow out of my obnoxiousness while I'm gone! :)

Love,
Sister Sarah

sarah.whiting@myldsmail.net

Sister Sarah Whiting
Canada Edmonton Mission
305-8925 51 Ave NW
Edmonton AB T6E 5J3 
Canada

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Farewell: Binding Up Others' Wounds

I’m so excited to be here today. I’ve been waiting for 19 years for this day and I feel so blessed to share it with so many people that I love. I’m just so thankful for everyone that came.

So I’ve been called to the Canada Edmonton mission. I report to the Provo MTC on June 18th so I’ll be here next Sunday. But I’ll be in the MTC for maybe a week or 2 and then I’ll be shipped off to Canada where I’m sure I’ll be lucky enough to experience winter in July!  But I’m really excited. I love this gospel so much. Nothing seems more exciting to me than spending 18 months completely focused on sharing it with others.

To prepare for my mission. I took our stake’ mission prep class which was awesome this past year. And we did this thing where every week we would have a question that we talked about and spent the next week researching it and then we’d come back and talk about the answers we came up with. A few months ago we asked the question “Why does the Lord allow us to suffer pain and affliction?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” As a class we came up with some good answers but ever since that day I have been completely unable to stop thinking of it. So this is just a few that I came up with.

·         1. We go through trials to remember the Lord’s hand in our lives. The Lord gives us trials to remind us to keep his commandments and live in gratitude and humility. It is in fact the Lord that makes our lives possible. The least we can do is remember Him and obey him.
·        2.  Some trials come as a consequence of our own actions. The Lord gave us his commandments in the beginning and promised to bless our righteous actions and judge our unrighteous ones.
·         3. Trials may also come to help us more fully understand happiness. 2 Nephi 2:11 it says that there must be opposition in all things. When we pass through suffering, we come out more appreciative of the blessings and happiness we have.
·         4. We are given trials and suffering to give us the opportunity to learn and personalize the Savior’s Atonement. As we struggle and go through choices: some bad and some good, we can always call upon the Savior to bind our wounds that He has already suffered for so we won’t have to keep them.

But my favorite reason is this:

The Lord gives us trials and allows us to suffer pain and affliction because He knows that is the only way for each of us to reach our full potential on Earth -which He has seen from the very beginning. He has a plan for each of us that will help us to gain knowledge, experience and happiness.  In PMG it says:

“God is the Father or our spirits. We are literally His children, and He loves us…we [are] not however, like our Heavenly Father, nor could we ever become like Him and enjoy all the blessings that He enjoys without the experience of living in mortality…God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings.”

Central to this plan is the Savior’s Atonement. He suffered for us to bind the wounds of our trials and suffering and make us whole again. This has become what makes me the happiest.

When I was 4, I started taking ballet class. As most of you know, ballet quickly became who I was. I was ‘The Ballerina’.  Heading into sophomore year, I was dancing more than 25 hours a week on top of school and homework. I had performances every other month. I was only thought about ballet. I only talked about ballet. I really only cared about ballet.

One day, the director of my dance studio announced we would be participating in a convention in Las Vegas the following spring. It was a big deal. We would have to audition several times and have special adjudicators come and see us perform before we would be allowed to participate. It was a big change for our company and as you would expect, we were all pretty excited for a trip.

When they posted that the audition would be on a Sunday, I was, to say the least, upset. This was ballet! This was my life! But I had already chosen a long time ago to keep the Sabbath day holy as the Lord commanded. So, after a lot of crying and talking to my parents, I decided to let my director know I would be unable to participate in the audition.

Well as it turns out, the rules say you can only participate in the convention if you participated in the audition. And as I had been given a lead role in our audition dance, my decision to opt out did not go over well with my teachers. So the next few months were quite awkward and painful. But I knew that obeying the Lord was the right thing to do.

My next decision would completely change my life forever. As I spent day after day going to dance and sitting out while they rehearsed for the audition, I couldn’t help but feel like maybe the Lord had a new and better plan for my life. And at first I didn’t like that.

I remember the exact day I decided to stop dancing. I had spent months praying and praying to know that the decision to stop dancing was a bad decision. And that didn’t happen. There were countless nights spent trying to get advice from my parents. Mostly, there was just a lot of crying.

That night I was sitting outside my mom’s room just sitting on the floor. We were just talking. (probably about dance. That’s usually all we talked about). And she just said “Sarah. Your dad and I have been praying and we really hate to say it but, I think this might have to be it.” And unlike all our other conversations on the subject, I didn’t immediately contradict her. I knew she was right. I absolutely knew I needed to stop dancing. I didn’t want to! I didn’t like that she was right. But I knew she was right.

So after 12 years I quit dancing. And though it took nearly a year before I could talk about dancing without crying, I did it. Because I knew that’s what the Lord wanted for me.

To most people, this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. And I can almost guarantee you’ve all gone through something a lot harder than deciding not to dance anymore. But to me, this was a HUGE deal. It was a big part of my life.

Alma 7:11  says “And He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”
I know that the Savior suffered the same pain I felt. He entirely understood that it was a big deal to me. He knew my burden and He lifted it. He bound the wounds I felt and made me whole again.

The Savior says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I know He is always there to heal us. No matter how insignificant our pains and afflictions seem, He knows and understands why they’re a big deal to us.  But He also sees the big picture and will help us move on and see what we can become if we trust Him.

Since I stopped dancing, I have felt the Savior’s hand in my life, continually blessing me with experiences that would not have happened if I were still dancing. I am so grateful for my Savior who loves me and cares about me enough to put me through trials so I can improve myself and truly see how blessed I am. It just makes me so happy. It must be why I want to spend 18 months of my life spreading that love and happiness with the people of Edmonton.

So how can we be like the Savior and bind others’ wounds?
In the primary song “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” it says:

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught."

My sister Emma is the perfect example of this. She shows me that to bind others’ wounds I need to be loving and compassionate. I need to forgive and serve. I don’t know a single person LESS judgmental than Emma. She binds the wounds I feel continually just by loving me and forgiving me. I’m going to spend my whole mission trying to be more like her.

In closing I want to share a lesson I learned several years ago that perfectly sums up the big picture the Savior sees in our lives.

When my grandparents moved to Boise, they built a farm up in the hills for the cousins to all come and hang out with the cousins and play. A few years ago, my grandma decided it would be fun to get a bunch of white t-shirts for all the cousins and have everyone design a “Whiting Farm” shirt. When we were all done decorating, we lined up our shirts to see all the designs. Several people had painted chickens and cows. I had a big sunset with a rainbow. And there were several different interpretations of stick families. But Sam’s shirt was my favorite. He was only 5 or 6 when we did this. So he was just learning to write. His shirt didn’t have pictures or lots of colors. He just wrote in big letters “Love people”. Grandma asked him what it had to do with the family farm.  And Sam said “We’re supposed to love all the people. So this could be our motto!”
The Savior binds our wounds and makes us whole because He loves all the people just like Sam said. And as we try each day to be more like the Savior, we will love everyone around us. And when we love each other, we are binding each others’ wounds.

I know that my Savior lives and He loves me. It brings me so much happiness to know this. That is why I want to serve a mission. Because I know it improves people’s lives to know the Savior’s love. I hope as I serve the people of Canada I will be able to bind others’ wounds so they can feel the love of Christ and the joy of His Atonement in their lives. I know my Heavenly Father loves me and you and everyone and I know He has a plan for each of us. As I read the scriptures, and pray and attend the temple, I have faith in that plan. I feel my Savior’s love. I’m so thankful that I have that relationship with my Savior and that relationship with the Spirit to help me know that it’s true. I’m so thankful for the temple and that I could go with my family. There is nowhere on Earth that I feel closer got my Heavenly Father and my Earthly father. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to go with them and learn. I’m very grateful for this gospel. I know it is true. I KNOW IT IS TRUE. I’m so excited to share it with others. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Once upon a time...AAAAAAAAA IT'S ALMOST TIME TO LEAVE!

Holy craziness Batman! I'm leaving in 16 days! WHAT?!?! Yeah. It's basically unbelievable. To say I'm excited is the biggest understatement of my life. I guess I should actually get myself together now so I will survive out there. Fortunately for me, I won't be alone in my craziness the next 2 weeks cause I've got pretty swell family in town for my farewell.

Honestly that's all I really  have to say. Here's some pictures of the aforementioned swell family.

oh and p.s. you should all come to my farewell and/or my open house. :)