April 28, 2014 Traveling to Brazil!

Family and Friends,

Whitney received her travel Visa and is on her way to Brazil as of Monday, April 28th.  Her address has been updated and I will post again as soon as I hear from her.  

Anxiously waiting,

Tonya (Whitney’s Mom)

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April 21, 2014 Los Angeles, California

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Oi!

Family and Friends!

I’ve said it before, but every week in the mission leaves a billion things to report on and I will do my best to relate the best in the allotted hour I have! Please excuse the choppiness of this letter, but I will dedicate quick paragraphs to the different experiences and people I have met this week. This past Sunday was Easter and it was a very busy week for us. Sister Matheson and I decided to sing a song in church (good bait to get investigators to attend) AND I was asked to take over the Relief Society lesson for the week and we took over for basically all of the music playing and directing this Sunday… it was a sister missionary filled Easter. I absolutely loved teaching Relief Society though. My 4th semester I was called as  Relief Society teacher and I was so pumped to teach to my beloved women of the Church! It was quite a different experience teaching a more matured audience though lol. I was used to 18-21 year olds; the feedback and participation this time around was extremely enlightening and so amazingly wonderful.

 

There is a husband and wife in the ward who have us over every Wednesday for dinner. The Wrights are such sweet people. Brother Wright is pretty normal, but Sister Wright is one of the loudest and most wonderful people I have ever met! She hugs EVERYONE at church and a Sister Wright hug is a full body hug in which you’re not sure which way your body will bend. I love her so much. Whenever Wednesday rolls around, we eat dinner and hear some cute story from their past. They are seriously the cutest couple, a little nerdy but cute… they don’t have cell phones, but they do have a full-out-half wall radio which is beeping Morse code. They installed a radio to his truck and there are these super tall antennas sticking out of his trick and some very serious hardware on top of their house. Anyway, this past Wed, I mentioned that I played the trumpet in 5th grade. Sister Wright got excited and left the room, she came back with a trumpet and her baritone and she gave it to me to play LOL 5th grade was a looooooong time ago. But she gave me the mouth piece to take home to practice this week hahaha, so if anyone wants to send me a trumpet fingering refresher you’d make a lot of people very happy.

I also do not know if I ever mentioned that we teach an English class! Twice a week, my companion, other missionaries and I teach an English class in our area. I teach the Advanced class and I am finding that I am speaking more Spanish than I am Portuguese! I am so grateful for the ease in which the basics of Portuguese stuck with me from the MTC though. Spanish is hard for me, but it’s difficult to explain. I can understand whenever anyone speaks Spanish to me just fine, but when it comes to responding back it is quite a process. I think in English, then translate to Portuguese then translate to Spanish. But I can do it… before my mission I would have been completely lost. Anyway, we teach people who speak pretty broken English and it is the neatest thing to have the opportunity to teach a language. I observe them and their learning styles and I am soooo aware that that will be me if I ever get to Brazil. I will ‘know’ the language but it will be a very broken ‘knowing’.

We met a woman last night who was my interesting contact of the week. Her name was Lori and she was pretty and petite for an older woman. She had these BIG brown eyes and a she was quite a character. We started off talking and she would open her mouth and her eyes as wide as she could and start bending at the waist in all directions while whispering to us that she preached to good news of Christ to wasps. Sister Matheson was a little weirded out (for some reason I like the strange ones). Then we mentioned mormon.org and she stood up straight and gave us her big eyes and opened mouth stare. She is a master family history buff and she started ranting and raving about familysearch.org! It was soooo cool. She has done thousands of names and she has thousands of documents.

Lastly is our investigator Geo. We took him to the Visitors Center behind the Temple in Santa Monica and it was quite an experience. As missionaries, we are fighting so hard to do everything in our power for him, but we can feel a sense of peace knowing that we are doing absolutely all we can. At the end of the day, one of the greatest gifts we have from God is our agency; the ability to make choices, and Geo must make the ultimate decision for himself. The spirit was piercing us left and right and there and we were inspired with words and led by the spirit in ways I cannot explain. Geo felt it; he was crying, we were crying, everyone was crying and I am so grateful for that witness.

Thank you for all your prayers and letters. They are appreciated deeply. OH! I was able to attend the Temple this last week as well 🙂 the Los Angeles Temple is ginormous and beautiful. I am so grateful for the temple in my life and I testify of the power the Temple holds. Eu amo voces! Tudo Bem!

Sister Whitney Dean

 

April 14, 2014 Los Angeles, California  

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Bom dia familia e amigos!

Life is so good here in LA! We’ve been working so hard and it is truly difficult to relate all of the stories this past week in one email! I will try to highlight a few of the good ones. There is a dad, a daughter and a son who we visit often who are recent converts and they are so precious! The mom is not very interested at all, and the missionaries are not welcomed in the house, but we sit outside and teach the rest of the family. It is a little heart-wrenching to see 3/4 of the family grow so strong in their bonds together and in the Gospel while one of them wants nothing to do with this progression. David is truly a wonderful father and his children love him. He is such a good example for them. The kids are super impressive too; their Gospel knowledge and desire to learn is monumental! We had dinner with them last night and taught a lesson on Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness for us and as we talked about life on this earth and the opportunity all would have to hear and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ even after this life. At this point the son said “after this life, good, that’s when mom can be happy too” and his father looked at him and said “she will come to know our happiness here in this life Jake, don’t you worry”. It was so cool! There are such strong ‘warriors’ in this life who find the truth and exercise faith to its fullest.

We also have quite a few funny stories from this week! We picked up a mini-missionary for the weekend ( since our mission area-wise is so small, the stakes in our area have a really neat program where high school members can be a weekend missionary, they sleep over and get to see all sides of missionary work, the good the bad and the ugly). We went to visit a less active ( a very less active) who we soon found out was quite intoxicated. He bore his testimony very vividly that the church was true and that boy scouts had changed his life forever. He then got his guitar and weeping, insisted to play a song for us very passionately and high pitched. It was a full-body performance. Our poor mini missionary lol. We were trying to get out of there sooner than later but when he finished I told him he should come sing in church, he really did have an impressive voice and we would love to see him this next Sunday… he was hesitant, but he said he had big plans for taking over next year’s Christmas Pageant. We knelt to pray and when we finished we all stood up, except for the brother, he fell over backwards. It was quite an experience and that was only the beginning of our weekend!

We also had a few trainings this weekend. One of them was a driving safety training and it was the best safety video I have ever seen in my entire life! We watched a video on the basics of missionary safety and then they had Elder Holland use his “slightly intimidating apostle call to arms” voice to solidify that we would never break any of these rules lol. They also had Elder Uctdorf relate car safety to his plane safety which was a powerful and captivating analogy as always. Mission life is great and I find that my mind is turning to the work more and more. I try to get a 20 minute nap in at lunch time at least every other day and those are the most intense naps I have ever taken in my entire life! I am out as soon as my head hits the pillow and I am so disoriented as soon as the alarm goes off. I’ve also noticed one other weird thing about my power naps, I drool!!!! I have never drooled before in my sleep ever, but it is a constant thing during my naps! I wake up mouth open and wet pillow! What does that mean? hahaha, I must be taking some pretty powerful snoozes.

On a final note, I am reading the Doctrine and Covenants through and finding so many treasures! Today I was reading in Section 58 and there are some beautiful reassurances that trials and tribulations will undoubtedly come in this life but the blessings and the ease that follow-whether in this life or the next-will be so sweet. So many of our investigators need that reassurance but they cannot feel the full relief unless they chose to come to know Christ. I love the work and I am here to ease souls. I love you all and I thank you for all of the constant support.

Tudo Bem!

Love,

Sister Whitney Dean

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April 7, 2014 Los Angeles, California

Dear Family and Friends!

    Milagres everywhere!  This week has been so wonderful!  I’ve been noticing that every week on the mission is crazy, there is no such thing as a normal day as a missionary. What I do know is that there are miracles happening everyday and I am so lucky to be a witness to the glories of God’s great plan for us. This last month, the mission has been praying specifically for people to enter into the waters of baptism and there were 55 individuals baptized in the L.A. area in the month of March! I also got to watch conference, which is a missionary’s second Christmas. Conference is so fulfilling and that was my first time watching conference at a stake center with a sea of other missionaries; it was lovely.

I also have some very exciting news about one of our investigators named Geo. Geo has been meeting with the missionaries for some time now and last night he finally accepted a baptismal date! Geo has had some pretty hard things happen in his life, and it seemed impossible that he would ever let the Gospel into his life unless he received a visit from God himself. This Gospel is beautiful and it soothes the soul and softens the heart. Geo has been learning soooo much and after a session of conference and a talk with the missionaries, he decided he needed to show God he was willing to do what He asks. Geo is showing monumental faith and he is expecting a witness as he turns his life to God over the next few weeks. Please pray for Geo that he will receive his confirmation! His baptismal date is his goal and Geo has taken a great step of faith in trying his best to be ready for this day. I am so excited to be his guide as he truly wants to learn more. In our talk with Geo we started to talk about churches and he said something about growing up he always saw that enormous Mormon church in Santa Monica that he always wondered what a service would be like inside. THATS THE TEMPLE!! 🙂 we told him one day.

In other news, there are so many families and individuals we are teaching. There is a little boy named Rene who was baptized last year who doesn’t have an ideal family situation and this little 9 year old has no support. I remember the first time we went to their house my companion warned me that it was crazy. It was the epitome of chaos!!! We opened the door and were immediately surrounded by an uncountable amount of half dressed children and animals. I really do love all of their children and now enjoy being around them, but it makes me sad to know that they don’t get any attention. When we get the chance to teach Rene, it is chaotic, but he truly is a smart boy who has so many Gospel questions. Ha-ha, we were visiting them last night and their little 3 year old Frankie (who is the funniest most animated 3 year old I have ever met and will ever meet in my life) wanted to take pictures with us. He kept handing us his different animals to take pictures with, right as he handed me their baby chuwawa, I put it up to my face to take a picture and as my companion snapped the picture he yelled “I love that one! He has fleas” lol. I may have fleas (just kidding mom, I don’t I’m sure) but it was a funny night.

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I just have one or two little things to leave you all with before I go! Our apartment is adjacent to the railroad tracks and I hear the train go by every night and it’s so strange, but I love the sound! It reminds me of Alaska. Lastly, the other day, we went to help a Tongan lady move and clean and it turns out she was a coupon-er 🙂 her garage was a sea of laundry detergent and other goodies. Once we finished cleaning, she handed us shopping bags and said take everything you can! It was soooo cool! I really want to give couponing a chance when I come back. Not only that, but she lives in a house that looks like it came straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald book 🙂 I love you all! California is beautiful, I am happy and healthy and working hard!

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March 31, 2014 Los Angeles, California

Dear Family and Friends!

I have survived my first earthquake! It was sooo cool! My companion and I were at home sitting down finishing planning and the family in the apartment beneath us was getting a little rowdy and yelling. Then the shaking started and we just looked at each other because we couldn’t figure out how they were shaking our walls; then it hit us that it was an earthquake! It was intense too! things were falling off of our shelves but nothing super major was hurt. It lasted for 10 seconds at least and was a 5.4! I was super excited for a bit then I realized I had no idea what in the world to do haha. Our district leaders called us with earthquake preparedness shortly afterward thank goodness. It is also pretty funny that you see who really loves you! Our Bishop was the first to call and to check up on us, then a recent convert, then one of our investigators!  It truly was a crazy experience to feel your whole world shake.

In other news, California is as beautiful as ever; I seriously cannot figure out how a city can be so beautiful. The weather is gorgeous and the yards are out of this world. We’ve been to several different members houses and people actually grow coconuts, lemons and lots of oranges (I’ve never seen that before in my life! But it smells heavenly). We visit so many people and we have quite a few investigators. I am so in awe about how people are willing to hear our message and at the same time… I am in awe to how many people will act deeply interested then play the avoiding game :/

I have also finished the Book of Mormon! I set a goal to read all of the works on my mission through a missionary’s lens, and I am so excited to move on to the Doctrine and Covenants. I feel like I’m plowing through it though, I should probably set a goal to read them all in Portuguese as well! It’s a lofty goal but it would be so wonderful I know! I also had the opportunity to teach the Gospel Principles class this last Sunday ( they have the missionaries take turns). I was able to talk about my most favorite gospel topic ever 🙂 the atonement 🙂 . I feel like my time as a missionary has taught me how to teach slowly with more power and spirit behind my words, and as I applied that method to my class beautiful things happened. I truly love to teach church classes and the skills that missionary work has given me has made my teaching so much better! I can testify with a greater conviction and I always find that I am teaching myself when I prepare for a lesson. It is so beautiful how everything in the gospel is intertwined and builds up to one beautiful truth. I love this work and am being shaped into something far better than I could have ever planned.

Missionary work is so incredibly demanding, but rewarding. I am SOOOO grateful for all of your letters and support! I am serving with all I have and anxiously awaiting my visa 🙂

Love,  Sister Dean

 

Also! spread the word! here is my new address 🙂

Sister Whitney Dean

California Los Angeles Mission

1591 East Temple Way

Los Angeles CA 90024-5801