Thursday, June 1, 2017

Return Missionary Updates!

Hello my sweet friends and family! I just wanted to write a quick blog post and say THANK YOU so much to everyone who followed along with me on my journey as a Full-Time missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Orlando, Florida.

I wanted to give you guys an update on what's going on with me and how you can continue to keep up in my adventures!

I completed my Full-Time missionary service on April 12th 2017. You can read all about my final week as a missionary in this blog post HERE.

Since I've been home I have been playing around with Photography and am loving getting back into the blogging world. I have gone back to working at the tumbling gym I've loved since I was eleven. I continue to find an increasing love for the temple and am trying to embrace the awkwardness of my local singles ward.

In the fall I'll be moving down to Provo to attend school at Utah Valley University. I'll be working as a tumbling coach at a gym down there and am SO EXCITED for my next adventures in college.

I probably won't keep this blog updated much, but you can be sure to read my OTHER BLOG to stay up to date with all of the latest things happening in my life. You can also check out my DIGITAL MEDIA PORTFOLIO to see all my latest photography, and graphic design projects.

Again, thank you so much for all the love and support y'all gave me while I served in the Sunshine State. I felt so much love and support coming from each of you and it was an honor to be able to share my experiences with you. Thank you so much.

Until next time,

Monday, November 14, 2016

The parable of Ginger the chicken

Because I'm a missionary and am living 1923 miles away from home and can only communicate with my family through email on Mondays, my family emails me every week with funny stories of what's going on at home.
A few weeks ago my little sister sent me a picture of a chicken in my back yard.

My family told me the chicken's name was Ginger and that it had been running around the neighborhood and they didn't really know where she came from.
It's been a few weeks since I've heard about Ginger the Chicken, but This morning when I connected to wifi and loaded my emails I read an email from my mom...
"So funny story," she said, "Ginger the chicken is still roaming the neighborhood. You have to try not to back over her when leaving the garage because she isn't smart enough to get out of the way. Yesterday when we got home from church, Skyler was the first one to the front door, Ginger was there and it scared him to death. He took off screaming and running. He is so quiet usually it was super funny."
I laughed for a minute just picturing my family try to deal with this chicken.
But I started to think about that chicken and what it represents in our everyday lives. Maybe it's because I'm a missionary, but everything seems to teach about the gospel. 
That's how the Savior taught after all. He took everyday things that people would understand and taught them the gospel.
So I decided I'd title this parable "The Parable of Ginger The Chicken."
For me Ginger the Chicken represents my comfort zone. As a missionary you have to get out of your comfort zone every day. It's not an easy thing to walk up to a random person on the street and tell them that God loves them, or at least it isn't easy for me. 
But I know each of us, no matter where we are in life, have things that make us uncomfortable. We all have times when we feel awkward and don't know exactly what to do. So Ginger the Chicken could represent anything that you struggle with really. 
So the first thing to do when we recognize the chicken on our porch is decide what to do about it. I've come up with a couple ways to cope with "the chicken on your porch."
  1. We can face the chicken with faith. We can let fear paralyze us, but if you do that you may find yourself running away from your fears the same way my little brother ran from the Chicken. As a missionary I've learned that when we face hard things it's better to face it with the Savior's help rather than just try to hide from it. Because if we just try to hide from our fears we'll find that just like Ginger the Chicken, they might keep showing up.
  2. We can laugh. Sometimes as a missionary you feel awkward. The best tactic I've found for feeling awkward is to laugh at yourself. Don't expect yourself to be perfect. After all, there is a chicken on your porch! 
"You can either laugh your way through life, or you can cry your way through it. I choose to laugh. Crying gives me a headache."
-Margery Pay Hinckley 

 3. We can collect the eggs. Sometimes trials are placed on our porch to help us. So we can try to look for the good that comes from them. Sometimes they are given to us to make us stronger.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
-Ether 12:27
So whatever "Ginger the Chicken" represents. Just know that with the Lord's help you can face it with faith, you can collect the eggs, and maybe, just maybe it will make for a great Instagram post later in life.

Sister Whitney Reid
Florida Orlando Mission

Monday, September 26, 2016

Letter to a granddaughter

In the mission world your "trainer" or first companion is often referred to as your "mom." And when you are called to become a trainer you get a "baby." 

A few months ago I had the privilege of training Sister Hart from Arizona. Flash forward several months to now. I'm running the last six months of my race in the mission field and just this week my "baby" was called to train a new missionary named Sister Staten.

Which makes me a "grandma."

Since I've been in the mission field for about a year I wanted to write down a few things that I wish someone would have told me at the beginning of my mission. 

So this is a letter to grand baby Staten as well as every other missionary new to the field.

The first thing I want you to know is that it's okay not to know. In all honesty none of us really have it all figured out. When I first came out I looked up to those who have been out for a long time and wondered how I would ever get to where they are. What I came to realize is that we are all relatively new. There will be a time when you take over your first area without the direction from your trainer. For me even taking over an area for the second time I stressed because I didn't want to mess anything up. You will get transferred several times and may be called to serve as a trainer or an STL. Always look at it as an adventure. There are many fun times to be had, but if you stress to much over not knowing exactly what you're doing you might miss them. My Sunday school teacher would always tell us that "You may not know everything, but you know enough." 

The second thing I learned is that obedience is so very necessary. I thought coming on a mission would make it easy to be obedient. But I've learned that even as a missionary there is temptation all around you. Sometimes it might be a companion that chooses not to keep all of the rules or a member who suggests something contrary to what your mission president has taught. The best thing to do is stick to the rules. Because we are promised in the scriptures that if we are obedient we will always be blessed. My trainer (your great grandma) Sister Guynn always used to say to me "never let anyone determine your obedience or your happiness." And Sister Berry, the Mission President's wife when I first came to Florida, always used to say "obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings miracles."

The third thing I learned is that joy is so very necessary in missionary work. I learned that sometimes happiness is a choice and it is also a challenge. Learn to laugh when you are uncomfortable and smile when you are stressed. Re-discover humor and remember that you have been called to this area because these people need your personality. So don't try to be anybody but yourself, and I know that if you do that you will touch the hearts of the people and you will be happy.

The fourth thing I don't think I really learned until I became an STL. Open your mouth and talk with everyone. And I mean everyone. When you are at a stoplight, roll down your window and tell the guy next to you that you know God loves him, pull over to the side of the road and ask the old lady watering her lawn if you can help her. Walk up to the grumpy man sitting on a lawn chair and ask him for directions you don't actually need. If the person you had an appointment with isn't home knock on their neighbor's house and ask if they know when their neighbor will be home. "Whatever your initial approach may be, refer quickly to the restoration." If you do this I can promise that you will always have a full teaching pool. 

The fifth thing I learned is that you probably won't be best friends forever with every one of your companions. There will be some who will become like your siblings, and others who you will clash with. But with each companion you are given comes a reason for why you were given them. It may be something you will learn from them. It may be a Christlike attribute you need to develop. Maybe they need you and your example. Try your very best to get along with them even when it gets hard. If you are having a hard time feeling charity then clean your apartment and pray for charity. 

The sixth thing I learned is that this time goes so fast. People always told me that at the beginning of my mission and I didn't believe them. Thirteen transfers are all you get to serve full time for the Lord. You will never have the opportunity to serve in this capacity ever again. Soak it all in and don't take any of it for granted. 

A few weeks ago one of our investigators was interviewed for baptism. The missionary conducting the interview asked him about his experience working with us as missionaries. His response was "Those Sistas, they are the tools that God uses to fix broken souls."

You have the sacred opportunity to be one of those tools that God uses to fix broken souls. 

I could keep going on with this list for another eighteen months but I'll leave it with this; you have been called to do the work of God the Eternal Father. You have been called to stand as a witness of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is not going to be easy, as Christ's life never was, but it will be the most fulfilling work you have ever done, and ever will do. 

Go kick butt. Do good things and just know that you are changing the world one broken soul at a time.

Sister Reid

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hey friends! I have a guest post coming to ya from my good friend Hermana Stokey who is serving here with me in the Florida Orlando Mission. I asked her to write me a guest post answering the question "what have you learned on your mission?" Here is her response.

People say you change on a mission. You don't really notice it (at least, I don't, not day by day) but it's a good thing. I think the change comes because you learn things on your mission. Maybe it's not your first time technically learning any given thing, but you  recognize and accept and use said thing, and thus the change occurs. You're growing into your spirit and your personality and yourself.
I made a list of things I feel I've learned on my mission. This isn't everything, but it's still a comprehensive list, given in no specific order. I have:

Learned how to work hard. Like, really hard. I thought I had work ethic before my mission, but the mission is unlike any other experience. It's rigorous and unending and demanding and yet so amazing and worth it.

Learned how to bite my tongue and rein in the sass. This one is definitely a work in progress. My parents told me all the time growing up that I didn't always have to be right. The people I meet here basically tell me the same thing, just not word for word. I know I can respect others' beliefs even if I don't agree with them.

Learned how to love the Lord and love the people. Charity is a real thing! This is one of my favorites. I love these people and desire the best for them. Christlike love is an incredible feeling.
Learned how to follow a strict schedule. Yeahhhhh. I learned that I don't actually like getting up early. But I understand why we do.

Learned how to comply and find the good. There are a ton of rules on the mission. Like the strict schedule. But it all makes sense. It pushes us to do our best. And I can find  ways to be happy with the rules.

Learned how to learn and teach. This is a big one. To be a good teacher, you have to be a good learner. To teach people, you have to know how to teach. It all goes back to charity and caring about them and adapting to them.

Learned Spanish. Learned tiny bit of Portuguese. Ha. Now I'm...quadlingual. Is that the right word? Is that a thing? Well, to be honest, I'm not fluent in Portuguese or German and I'm still learning Spanish. But I love Spanish! I'm never going back, people. The Spanish language and culture is something you want to be a part of. Trust me on this one.

Learned to eat food I don't want or like or can't fit in my stomach. Pretty self-explanatory.
Learned how to talk better. Yes, my parents say I never stop talking. That's not what I mean. I mean that now I can hold a conversation based off of very little information.

Learned how to miss and love family. Can I just say how much I miss them? The saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is so true. It does. I love my family with all of my heart and can't wait to see them soon.

Learned how to listen. This is a must if you're teaching in a language you aren't fluent in. More importantly, it's a must so you can teach by the Spirit and help people truly learn.

Learned how to feel for others. Sympathy is such a powerful tool. It can make you feel good and it can make you feel bad but it definitely helps you understand your fellow human beings and spirit siblings.
Learned that it's not about me. It's not about me. It's about these people and how I can help them and it's about our Heavenly Father and His concern for their eternal welfare.
Learned it's about others. See above point.

Learned to walk a tonnnn. If I don't have great legs by the time I go home...I'll be darned. Seriously. You know the book "Oh, the palaces You'll Go"? That is probably s book about missionaries. You go everywhere and you get to a lot of those places by walking. It'd be nicer if it wasn't the deathly Florida I walked in, but c'est la vie.

Learned I don't like the heat much. I thought I was okay with it before. I came from a pretty hot climate. But now that I'm here...give me the snow! I think I won't be living down south after the mission. (But Florida is beautiful, I'll give it that.)

Learned to catch a Pokemon. Do I even dare admit this one? ...yes. Because Pokemon Go is cool. And I've caught some cool Pokemon. And it starts conversations. And I can contact people by talking about it since people are always on their phones. So this is a valid point.

Learned how to make Spanish food. Did I say I was good at it? Nope. But I learned how to make empanadas and arepas. Arepas are seriously the best thing out there besides ice cream.
Learned I'm kind of an introvert. And that's okay! We're all different. You don't have to be a public speaker or charismatic human to be a missionary. If I talk to people all day long and no longer feel like talking by nighttime, that's okay. God qualifies those whom He calls.

Learned how to charity. This one is so important that it deserves a second point.
Learned how to work an iPad. Laugh all you want, but before my mission, I didn't really know how to work one. Ta-da. Now I do.

Learned that time is fast and yet so slow and still so fast. How long have I been out for? Forever. One second. Somewhere in between. Who knows? Time is crazy out here.

Learned how to kind of cook for myself. Good thing we have the members here to feed us because I haven't learned much. I can cook a mad quesadilla or crab puff. I can make nachos. Can I cook for a family yet? Probably not. I'll test it out on my family when I get home.

Learned importance of CPR. Yes, it is a medical term. No, that's not what I mean. Church Pray Read. They keep your testimony strong and your faith stronger. They are essential. I have learned that of you lack even one of them, it's like a three-legged stool with one leg removed. You tip and you fall and you can't truly get back up without reinstalling that leg.

Learned that there's no excuse for going less active and every reason to progress in the gospel. See the leg analogy above. For real, though, if we have faith, then we know all is possible through God and we can do all that is expected and required of us.

Learned how to tell people my skin is naturally red but yes, I'm probably sunburnt too. This made the list because I'm so commonly told that I'm red and everyone tells me I need to wear sunscreen. I just stick out like a sore thumb amongst all my Hispanic homies.

Learned that Brazil speaks Portuguese not Spanish. I blame my geography teacher for not clearing that one up. I love Brazilians. Imma go to Brazil someday.

Learned pure happiness of the mission. If you allow the mission to change you in all of the above ways and more, you will be so much happier than you could ever describe or imagine. I love my mission, I love what I've learned, and I love that I'm becoming more of what the Lord wants me to be.

Most of all, I learned that I'm still learning and I'll always be learning and that's okay and that's good. Learning is an eternal habit we should all strive to develop.
I've also learned that I'm not good at endings or goodbyes.

-Hermana Stokey

Enviado desde mi iPad

Sister Whitney Reid

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Atonement

Wow. I don't even know how to express my thoughts from this week.

Since I became an STL this week I had the opportunity to go to missionary leadership counsel on Tuesday. This meeting changed the way I look at missionary work.

The entire meeting was focused on the Atonement. The Spirit was strong and at any given moment you could look around the room and see tears in somebody's eyes.

I've been reflecting on it a lot this week. And I learned something.

I learned that the church wasn't restored so that we could have a Prophet, the church wasn't restored so we could read the Book of Mormon, the church wasn't restored so we could go to the "true church."

The church was restored so that we, through the priesthood, could have access to the Atonement.

The Atonement means so much to so many different people through the world, but for me it means we can change. It means that each of us have the opportunity to become better and to become stronger. Word's can't express exactly how I feel about it, and I'm sure I'm doing a terrible job of explaining through text what the Atonement means to me, but I just want all of you reading this to know that I know the Atonement is real.

I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can find peace. Lasting peace. The kind of peace that can only come through knowing there is something bigger than ourselves that we are a part of. The kind of peace that comes from knowing there is a plan that was created by the best planner that ever planned.

The kind of peace that can only be found by accessing heaven.

So I know that the Atonement is real. I know that it works. I know that no matter how far we think we are, how many mistakes we think we've made, or how impossible it looks to come back, He is always there with His had outstretched to pull us to shore.

And that's why I'm here. That's why I've left my family for eighteen months to move across the country to a people I've never met. Because I know the Atonement is the best thing anyone can ever use in their lives, and I want others to feel that same joy too.

So come, find out more.

Monday, August 1, 2016

For the Beauty of the earth

I've been thinking a lot about the beauty of the earth lately. There are so many days that go by where the sun comes up and goes down before we ever take the time to soak in the wonder of this world. The earth was created to be beautiful, but I think all to often, we are preoccupied with other things that we forget.

The other day we were driving down the open Florida Highway as the sun was starting to set in the distance. Palm trees were rolling past us and I couldn't help but think about the handful of moments in my life that I really soaked in the beauty of the earth.

The time we sat on the Peter Whitmer Farm in the warm New York air next to the place where the Christ's restored church had been organized and I offered a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity I've been given to be a part of it.

The time we ran up Adam's Canyon as a group of friends and sat on the rocks as the boys ran under the ice cold waterfall and I thanked God for friends that share my same beliefs in the gospel.

The time we walked through the Sacred Grove and prayed about weather or not God really had visited that place and received an answer.

The time my mom took me zip-lining in Provo Canyon and I realized God wants us to have joy.

The time my siblings and I held hands and ran fully clothed into the Pacific Ocean off the Oregon coast and I smiled because I knew I could be with my family forever.

The time my friends and I drove through the frozen December air doorbell ditching our school mate's houses leaving cookies on their doorsteps and I learned that the best way to feel God's love is to serve others.

The time we stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and realized that maybe we were a part of something bigger than ourselves.

The time we climbed Multanoma falls and felt the mist of the falls that reminded us that God does love His children and that He created this beautiful world for us.

The times we made early morning trips to the Bountiful Temple and left the temple right as the sun started to come up on the horizon and I was grateful to have a temple and its blessings so close to home.

Now, there have been hundreds of these moments. Thousands of times I've looked that the sky and thought "well isn't this world beautiful? And isn't God so good?" But I will admit that sometimes I forget. Sometimes I forget how beautiful it all really is because I get distracted.

But it seems like God is always there ready to slap me in the face with a beautiful sunset or waterfall or mountain as a reminder that He's still there, that He still loves His children, and that He still has a plan for us.

So as I looked at the big Florida sky I was wonderstruck again. Because at the time I was serving as a missionary and was headed to the house of a person who didn't know God, who didn't know He made all this for us, and who didn't know He had a plan for us

And I had the opportunity to help them see it.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cold tile

I grinned from ear to ear as I stood on the cold tile in the baptismal font. I plugged the drain and stood their as the water started to rise to my ankles.

I was entering the missionary training center later that day. My bags were zipped and the rest of my things were put in a box in a closet to wait for my return. Orlando Florida. That's where I was headed. I had butterflies in my stomach as my family piled into the car to drop me off.

My twelve days in the MTC came and gone and before I knew it I was stepping off the airplane. The humidity hit me like a ton of bricks and it was only October.

I soon learned a few things that nobody told me about before my mission. For starters, I was the same person as when I left. I still had the same personality, liked the same foods, and was still scared of the same things.

I learned that you sometimes have to eat twice as much as you want to so you don't offend anyone. I learned that sometimes people slam the door in your face and sometimes people stop texting you or answering your phone calls all together. I learned that sometimes people said mean things to the missionaries, and even worse, sometimes people said mean things about the church that I so dearly loved.

Missionary work is hard.

There are long days. Days that you don't feel like working. Days that you think you'll never get along with your companion.

Over time I started to grow accustom to some of the trials common to missionary work. Days were long, but I got through it. People didn't listen, but every once and a while someone would open their door. Every once and a while we'd find someone to listen.

After a few transfers I found myself serving in a singles ward in central Orlando.

I worked hard, but wasn't seeing the results come from my labors.

I was training a new missionary named Sister Hart and it was during that time that I learned some new things that nobody had told me about a mission.

I learned that faith means believing in miracles. It means daring the soul to go beyond what the eye can see. It means telling yourself that it will all work out even though you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. It sometimes means taking a few steps forward into the dark believing that the motion sensors will recognize your faith and the lights will come on.

I learned that a successful missionary is a happy missionary. I learned that laughter is the best medicine and the best coping mechanism for hard days. I learned that if you can make someone else laugh or simply smile you can work miracles among the children of men. I learned that joy is a principle power. No missionary ever changed the world with a frown on their face.

I learned about friendship. I learned that in order to bring someone the gospel you must first meet their needs. And more often than not friendship is at the top of that list. I made friends with many investigators and members. I also learned that the best friendship you can strengthen as a missionary is the friendship you have with your Father in Heaven. I found myself on my knees more than I ever had before, not for myself, but for my friends who knew not God.

My soul started to ache for them.

I learned that these things, coupled with hard work are all that it takes to be a missionary.

But I was approaching nine months my heart started to yearn for these people. Nobody had yet progressed all the way towards baptism, and my soul ached for them because I knew the happiness they had potential to become, but far too many of them, members included, we're living below their privilege.

I started to wonder why I was on a mission. I loved being a missionary. I loved the members and I loved talking about Christ, but if nobody was progressing why were we wasting our time.

Some time passed and I eventually found myself standing in a baptismal font. I grinned from ear to ear as I stood on the cold tile in the baptismal font. I plugged the drain and stood their as the water started to rise to my ankles.

I watched as Mayra was immersed in the water and I was filled with so much joy. As she climbed out of the baptismal font and we handed her her towel she said with a smile on her face "I'm soakin' wet" with her cute little Puerto Rican accent. My companion and I did a little dance because we couldn't contain ourselves.

We left her to change and some of our friends from the ward came and gave us hugs. I don't know how to describe the feelings I felt that day.

It took nine months, but it was worth it. Nine months of slammed doors. Nine months of un-returned phone calls. Nine months of tear stained cheeks during my nightly prayers. Nine months of investigators not keeping commitments. Nine months of testifying of the only thing that had ever made me truly happy.

And someone had finally accepted it.

It was oh so worth it.

Elaine Cannon, a former Young Women general president, said, “There are two important days in a woman’s life: The day she is born and the day she finds out why.”

That day as I stood on the cold tile in the baptismal font, and plugging the drain so the font could be filled...

I found out why.