Sunday, August 2, 2009

7 months on Sean's mission

Hard to believe but Sean has been in Germany now for 5 months. Making his total mission time 7 months. He is still in Dusseldorf serving with Elder Bennett. Elder Bennett is from Idaho and apparently a bit more shy about talking to people on the streets and bahns about the Gospel. Sean has not been shy at all. He reminds Elder Bennett that the reason he is in Germany is to share the Gospel and he wants to do this every chance he gets.
On his P day he along with his companion and other Elders in his Distrikt like to visit areas around Dusseldorf. From hiking to visiting old German castles. He loves having this opportunity to tour and visit some of the areas he serves in.
Teaching people in Germany can sometimes be tough. Often many will set up an appointment with them but then cancel out and just not be home. Other times they allow Sean and his companion to teach one lesson and then they do not want to hear anymore of what the missionaries have to say. Sean is hoping to find some people who are more prepared and ready to hear.
Just this last email Sean wrote of an Afrikan man who stopped them in the street who asked to know more about what they believed. This man was looking for truth. Sean and his companion were pretty excited. They are hoping that this man will continue to have the desire to learn more and eventually get baptized. That would be cool!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

6 Months on His Mission!

Hard to believe but true, Elder Whitnah has been on his mission for 6 months already. He wrote today and said he was going to buy himself a stein to celebrate his 6th month mark. The work in Dusseldorf seems a bit slow right now. Many appointments are made but the majority of them fall through. He and his companion are teaching a woman and her inactive husband right now and that seems to be progressing well.

Some fun news in regards to his area of Dusseldorf. This past Sunday while at Church a young woman approached him and looked at his name tag. She responded by saying "I served in Berlin with your sister, Sister Becky Whitnah!" What a small world it truly is?! It was Sister Karen Hadzik who served in Leipzig with Becky as well as in Teirgarten with her as a companion. Karen is from Dusseldorf.

Sean has been in Dusseldorf for 4 weeks now. He is loving the work even though at times it gets discouraging because he and his companion are not having great success. He continues to LOVE the foods he finds in Germany....especially donors(sp?)....Becky loved them as well!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Elder Whitnah's second city: Dusseldorf

The Shield of the city of Dusseldorf...the place where Sean has now been transferred after 3 months of service in Krefeld.

Sean has been transferred a new area. Dusseldorf! Quite a big place, nearly 600,000 thosand people and the economic center of Germany. Sean has hopes to be able to serve in some small areas of the Mission but time will tell and he will go where the Lord wants him to serve. He had become quite close to some of the members in Krefeld and will miss many of them. This one brother in the Ward became quite close to Sean. Sean thought of him as a Grandpa figure in a way. He will miss him that is for sure but even though he will miss his first area he is looking forward to his new area of Dusseldorf.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Elder Whitnah nearly 3 months in Germany!

Elder Whitnah has been in Germany for nearly 12 weeks. That means he will no longer be classified as a "golden." In the German missions instead of calling a missionary a "greenie" when they are first out they are goldens. Sean has loved his mission thus far and has learned valuable insights from his companion Elder Hawker.
It was great to speak with Sean on Mother's Day. We had a 2 and a half hour long conversation. I enjoyed hearing all that Sean is going through and all the ways he has grown. He shared with us that he now truly understands the Gospel and believes it like he never did before. At one point he told me that if someone were to put a gun to his head right now and shoot him if he didn't deny what he believed that he would have to tell the person to shoot him because he would never deny the Gospel and all the blessings that he has received from it. What a cool blessing and what a great son to have! I am so glad that he is progressing so much in the Gospel!
He is thinking that his companion might be transferred this next week when transfers come up..only time will tell. I guess Elder Hawker has been in Krefeld for some time.
Sean shared with us that each day he studies to learn 50 new German words and then he practices reading preach my gospel outload to put the words to use. He finds that that along with talking to native Germans is the best way to learn the language and pronunciation of words. He says right now he has about 75% of his German down. That's pretty good for a missionary who has been out only 2+ months.
He loves the foods in Germany and told us that he thinks the food there is better than what we have here. I am not surprised as I have tried many German foods and it is good. Sean and his companion are teaching a family from Afrika as well as a young college student. They continue searching for those who are ready to hear the Gospel. I am glad that Sean is enjoying his mission. He writes every Tuesday and it's great to hear how much he has learned.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

2 months in Germany

Sean has been in Germany now for 2 months. His German improves more and more each week, which he is glad of. His companion, Elder Hawker is the District Leader, which means Sean and Elder Hawker spend a great deal of time traveling. This week Wes' Mom called us and shared something cool with us. She has found a line on her family side that traces back to the 1300's. The name was Van Bitten or Van Bitter. Guess where this family is from? The city of Krefeld...where Sean is now serving as a missionary. How cool is that!? Sean could end up teaching one of his distant cousins about the Gospel. We will get to hear Sean's voice on Mother's Day...can't wait!
I have included this interesting photo of Sean looking up at the gates of the castle...I have to wonder what he was thinking :) Good times on Pday.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sean is doing great!

Sean has been in Krefeld for 7 weeks now. He seems to be loving it there and he loves being a missionary..something he had longed to do for a long time. He recently sent some photos of the area he is in. There are a couple pictures that he is in but they are off in the distance somewhat I will go ahead and post them anyway I love the photo of Sean swinging from the tree and the one on the hill where he is doing a funny walk

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why Did Sean have to be in Germany so quickly?

Sean is halfway through his first transfer in the city of Krefeld and so far things are going well for him. He and his companion Elder Hawker are getting along fairly well and they are teaching several people. Thus far they have only been able to teach the 1st discussion and after that some of the people show little if not interest. Even still Sean is plugging along and enjoying the work.

Sean has found this city to be a more layed back city. The people are very friendly and overall very inviting of the Americans. I am not sure if that is because the Frankfurt area in general houses many US military or what but it might be helpful. Becky who served in Berlin and Wes who served in Munich found the areas to be tougher and the people to sometimes be a bit courser than Sean is finding in his first area. I imagine there will be some that Sean will encounter that won't be quite as friendly but so far he is loving it.

In Sean's last email he said there are 30 German bakeries surrounding the areas that they teach. He and his companion work very hard NOT to go into one of those bakeries as they know the food is really good and they are trying to watch their waistlines :) 19 year olds boys and waistlines...I don't think they really need to worry about that.
This past week Sean's Mission President wrote us a letter and expressed his thanks to us for Sean's willingness to serve the people of Germany in the Frankfurt Mission. He also shared how important it was that Sean was there now and how he was needed SO much at this time. As I read that I realized THAT is WHY Sean had to report to the MTC in only 5 and 1/2 weeks. Most missionaries who get called to foreign countries are often given 3-4 months to get ready and then arrive at the MTC. Not Sean. Sean was needed and he was needed right now!
I wanted to add a photo or two of Sean and his first companion along with his MP and his MP's wife but my scanner is not working right so I will try and get those entered next time. I will include photos that I copied (cheated :) ) from the net of some of the finds that one would find in a good German bakery. It's a good thing that Sean and his companion walk most of the time. IF they do eat at the bakeries they can walk a lot of the extra food off of them.
Sean did say that walking and riding the bahn is their main means of transportation in the city of Krefeld. The area is large enough that bikes are not necessary. Sean would love to be able to have a bike and ride though. One advantage of being onthe Bahn is that he and his companion can begin to share their message of the Gospel and have a better chance at talking without having the door shut in their faces...always pros to everything :)
I am also including in this blog entry a photo that was taken using Elder Guin's camera. This is the group of Elders and one solo Sister who entered the MTC on December 17th. As you can see this photo was taken on a day after they had all attended a Temple Ceremony in the Provo Temple. Sean really enjoyed those days and hopefully will have the chance to attend the Frankfurt Temple while in Germany.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sean is LOVING Germany!

Sean has been in Germany for a week now and from his first email it sounds as if he is truly loving it thus far. He had written a longer email but it was somehow erased so he quickly sent a shorter one before it was erased as well. It has been fairly warm in his mission and I am sure he is glad for that. Similar tempertures in Frankfurt as we are having here.

I used Google Earth to locate his area and look at it some. I was able to get a a view of the area he was living in and serving in. I did this with Becky and Robbie when they were on their missions as well. It's amazing how technology allows us to keep closer to those we love :) Here is a arial photo that I copied from google earth. Of course you can tell from the photo that this picture was taken in the summer but even still it's pretty cool to see.
Sean has been amazed at the prices of food in Germany and how much is available in the grocery stores in his area. Much different then it was for Becky who served in Berlin. Berlin carried very little and yet his area has all sorts of foods that you would find in most US stores.
Sean feels that his German sounds pretty bad right now but I imagine just about every missionary new to the field feels that exact same way. I remember Becky and Robbie feeling that way as well. It sounds like Sean has a great companion from Las Vegas and a great Ward to serve in as well. She is working on his German and wanting to nail the language down and be able to speak it well long before he comes home.
This past Friday Elder Oaks of the Twelve Apostles visited the missionaries and spoke with them. Sean really enjoyed that. Thus far Sean is doing great and happy to be where he is and serving a mission. I am glad that he is happy and having the oppurtunity to do some great things!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sean's first area is: Krefeld!

Sean arrived safely in Germany around 6:30 AM on a Tuesday was 9:30 PM here. There is a 9 hour difference in time. He wrote us a tiny email today and said he met his President and his wife, loved his first day in Germany and then took off by train to his first area. Krefeld!

When Becky and Robbie were on their missions we didn't know where they were at until they were in Germany and Honduras for a week. It was a nice surprise to open my email today and find a note from Sean with info about him and how his trip was. His companion is Elder Hawker. I don't know much about him as of yet but Sean has promised to write more in his letter when he writes on Pday...which will be Tuesday.

Krefeld is a fairly good sized city of about 240,000. It's official name is "Krefeld-Uerdingen am Rhein. Other big cities are near Krefeld, including Dusseldorf to the South East, Essen to the North East and a couple hours north of Cologne (Koln).

Sean mentioned on the bahn ride up he saw many castles as they followed along the Rhine River. Here is a castle that stands still today in Krefeld. It looks really pretty at night with the lights on it. Sean is up to the northern most part of the mission..not too far from the boards of Holland. His missionary life has begun!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Elder Whitnah is in route to Frankfurt

In less than three and half hours Elder Whitnah will arrive in Deutschland! He left early this morning from the MTC, waking at 4 am. He will arrive in Germany a little after 7 am. I imagine he'll be one tired missionary. He along with the other 16 that flew out with him.

I have been tracking his flight and he is currently flying over the Atlantic.
He told me this morning that our Stake President nephew is also in his Distrikt and will be serving in Frankfurt as well. Small world.
Sean is excited to get on with the work of being an missionary and serving.
Viel Glueck Elder Whitnah ! (good luck)

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Surprise Phone Call From Elder Whitnah Today

The phone rang and I looked at the ID. It said BYU. My first thought was maybe the Y was calling in regards to Sean's information and application. They wouldn't normally do that but I wasn't sure. I answered the phone and a young man's voice said a simple "hi". I said hello back and then asked "who is this?" (now I knew it was Sean's voice and yet I knew he wouldn't be calling me from the MTC) When Sean then's me Mom I got a big grin on my face :)
It's amazing how the voice of someone you love so dearly can melt your heart! It's great with all the technology we have today how we can record voices and make videos for keepsakes. I loved hearing Sean's voice, we talked for about 10 minutes. It was great.

Sean was calling because their were issues with his debit card and his Branch President asked him to phone us. It seems like it's been ages since he left and yet it's only been 8 weeks! He told me he was so pumped and excited to leave for Germany and his companion also said hello. Needless to say I will need to phone the bank tomorrow and get his card resolved prior to his leaving next week for Germany. Next week at this time he will be bound for Germany. We are SO excited for him to get into the field!

His MP (Mission President), President Ninow wrote us a couple weeks ago and asked that we send out a letter to him which included information about Sean. His accomplishments, awards, jobs, likes and dislikes. It was fun to sit down and describe our son to a man who has yet to meet him but who sounds excited to soon have him as a missionary working for the people of Frankfurt. Those who know Sean, know that he will give his all to this cause and will want to be not only a good missionary but a great one.

I think the only regret Bethany will have when she hears that Sean called is that she was not here to pick up the phone and say hi to him. She has missed him a great deal. Earlier this morning she was playing one of songs that she recorded on the piano and she began to cry and tell me how much she missed Sean. I am thinking of letting her skip school next week so that she can talk with him on Monday when he will make his phone call from the airport. She needs to hear his voice too and know that he is fine and that will make her happy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Elder Whitnah will head off on the 23rd

Well we now know that Sean will head for Germany on the 23rd. It's good to know for sure when he will be leaving for Frankfurt. He has been doing really well and practicing with the other missionaries by asking questions of one another in German. He and his companion did a complete 2nd discussion in German this week and did really well. He was really pleased with himself.

His mission President has written us this week and asked us to share some insights into Sean so that he might better get to know him prior to his arrival in Germany. He sounded really excited to meet Sean and get him to working in the field!

Sean continues to enjoy attending the Temple in Provo and looks forward to the chance that he might be able to also have a chance to attend the Frankfurt Temple while he is on his mission. Becky served in Berlin but never had the oppurtunity to attend the Freiburg Temple while she was there as she never served in the areas near the Temple. Sean might just have a better chance at it. At least he is hoping so.

Thanks for so many who have written to Sean while he has been in the MTC. He has really appreciated the letters and cards. And he really appreciates the goodies that are sent his way as well. In his recent email he told us that 17 new missionaries entered the MTC bound for Germany in the next 8 weeks. That brings the grand total to 61 missionaries. How cool is that?! Sean now feels like one of the "older" missionaries in the MTC in that he has been there for 7 weeks now and can't wait to be in Germany soon

Sunday, February 1, 2009

2 week and Elder Whitnah is off to Germany

Sean is doing great and still in Utah at the MTC. He wrote this past Thursday and it looks like he might be heading for Germany on the 16th after all. He is SO ready to leave and begin his mission life in Germany. The language seems to be coming to him really well. It did help some that he took 3 years of German in high school but even then I bet when he gets to Germany it will be a bit tougher to understand what is being said at times.
I was hoping to have a picture to post this time but Sean didn't have a chance to send one. He is so busy. He is enjoying the firesides and devotionals as well as learning as much as he can right now.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

4 Weeks Already!!!!

Sean is LOVING life in the MTC(missionary training center)

in Provo Utah. He has enjoyed his first 4 weeks and I am sure has learned more, studied more, prayed more, eaten more than any other time yet in his life! And he still loves it!

He has been kept pretty well fed by the MTC and he often doesn't feel too great after eating at their cafeteria. As he wrote in his most recent letter: "read Jeremiah 4:19 and that about sums it up." That verse begins: " my bowels, my bowels!" :) Thankfully his Aunt Shelly who lives close by in Orem is able to supply him once a week with yummies that she has made from her kitchen. I KNOW he is loving that. Not to mention the care packages from Grandma Whitnah and Us. We aren't having to worry about Sean shrinking in size any time soon :)

Since Sean has been at the MTC he has had a couple of oppurtunities to attend the Temple there in Provo and he really has enjoyed the experiences. He has felt the Spirit there and looks forward to going each week on his P day(Prep Day). We were glad to hear too that Sean was able to connect to a good friend of his, Cameron Merritt. Cameron will set off on Monday for his mission in Australia. Good luck to you Cameron!!

The People of Germany are really being prepared for missionaries to enter their country. On Monday 14 missionaries left the MTC bound for areas there. On this past Wednesday 24 new missionaries entered the MTC, also bound for Germany in 8 weeks. Right now there are 44 missionaries learning German and getting ready to grace that beautiful country!!! How exciting. And the people of Germany are so ready to have the Gospel.

I am glad Sean is doing well and I am sure things will only get better for him as long as he focuses on what he is doing and will work hard with those he serves. He has been greatly blessed and we are so thankful for him in our family. He's a great guy. Love you Elder Whitnah!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Just another quick up date on Sean. The day he entered the MTC, 17 other missionaries entered that same day bound for that is exciting. Sean hasn't written a great deal yet but I imagine he is taking a lot in and is very busy learning German like he never learned it before.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sean has been in the MTC for 3 weeks already...boy the weeks have gone by fast! He is learning German quicker now then any of the 3 years he took in High School but then again he is in the MTC and miracles occur there all the time. He is loving his time there and can't wait to head off to Germany.