Monday, December 23, 2013

I think this year the song "I Saw Three Ships" is going to take on a whole new meaning! - 12/23/13

Merry Christmas from the ocean!
 I really don´t know how much time I will have to write today, but I'm going to write as much as possible!

I really cannot believe that it is almost Christmas. Christmas is less than 2 days away. Christmas in Peru is soooooooooooo much different than in the United States. First off, it's 20,000,000,000,000,000,000 degrees out here. Definitely going to be dreaming of a white Christmas, but I really don't think I'm going to be seeing much snow. It's going to be different, but it's going to be good. It will be my first Christmas on the beach. Pretty cool, no? I'm super excited for Christmas morning. I think this year the song "I Saw Three Ships" is going to take on a whole new meaning! My first Christmas where I will really be able to see three ships come sailing in. Right now there are soooooooooooooooooo many boats here. They are all here so that all the fishers can be here with their families for Christmas! Super cool! Another thing that they do to celebrate Christmas here in Peru is that they eat fruitcake. Not even joking. In the states fruitcake is a joke. Here "paneton" is the real deal. Christmas isn't Christmas here without fruitcake! And the worst part about it is that it is nasty! Mainly just because I hate raisins. But it's okay though. I really am loving my time here. I'm going to have one of the best Christmas days ever!

This last week went pretty well. It was a little hard to teach people because everyone is super busy getting ready for Christmas. But we were able to have some really great lessons! One of the lessons we had was not so great though. We were teaching this less active member about the plan of salvation. We were teaching her about the fall of Adam and she told us that if Adam hadn't partaken of the forbidden fruit he still would have been able to have kids. We tried to explain it to her forever! It was honestly so frustrating! We finally just had to end the lesson and challenge her to pray about it and really ask if what the scriptures and the prophets teach is correct or not!

Tuesday we had a baptism! We really didn't have to do much for this baptism though! It was the baptism of a super cool kid who is 15 years old. He has been attending church for the past 3 months and finally decided to be baptized! It was soooooo cool watching his dad baptize him. I still think the best part about every baptism is watching the person come up out of the water and seeing the giant smile on their face. I am so grateful to be a missionary. As missionaries we really do have a front row seat to miracles happening in people's lives every day! 

Wednesday was the championship soccer game of a tournament here in Peru. La U. Really I hate the team just because their name literally translates to "The U". Supposedly they won this tournament and that makes them the best team in Peru. After the game hundreds of people mobbed together and marched through the streets chanting and singing and swinging their shirts over their head. It was pretty cool watching it from the safety of a member’s house. I definitely don´t want to be out in the crowd! It's going to be so crazy here in July during the World Cup. I can't even imagine what the missionaries in Brazil are going to do!

Thursday our zone had our interviews with President Rowley! President Rowley is the best! It was fun seeing the assistants there too! I had become really good friends with Elder B in Piura so it was fun to see him! I can't wait for the Christmas devotional we have on Christmas Eve when we get to see a third of the mission! I'm sure that will be fun!

Thursday afternoon we had a lesson with Hermana G. She is a super amazing person. She is a mother of 5 children and 2 of them are twins. The twins are only 1 year old. We ended up finding her on the list of potential investigators. We have been teaching her for the past few weeks and she really likes the gospel. She said to us on Thursday that she really believes that this church is true! That was one of the coolest things to hear as a missionary! I'm super excited. The one problem is that she isn't married, but she is currently in the process of getting everything together that she needs so she can be married! Her family is the best!

Friday was the Christmas concert in Paita. It was a concert by a youth orchestra from Piura. It was super fun. It was DEFINITELY a youth orchestra though. But overall it was really fun. President Rowley and his wife came. Our zone sang Silent Night at the end of the concert in Spanish and English. That was super duper cool. After the concert they served hot chocolate and fruitcake. I don´t know about you, but when it is a million degrees outside I want cold chocolate milk, not hot chocolate! And fruitcake is never good. I ate it with a smile though!

Saturday we went "Caroling" with our zone. There are tons of little parks here and so we went from park to park singing Christmas songs and we ended up getting tons of references from it! Even though this Christmas is going to be hard being away from family, I am super excited for it!

I am so grateful to be a missionary, especially at this time of the year. I know the church is true. At this time of the year I am especially grateful for my loving Savior. I know he lives. And I know that he died for every one of us. I am so grateful for this time of year when we can reflect on his birth and his marvelous life. I know this church is true. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this gospel with others!

Thanks for all of the love and support! I really hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Paita Perú!

Love, Elder Baker

P.S. Sounds like Kaysville is super pretty with all of the snow! I hope that you have a great Christmas this week! I would love to have a day skiing in snow. It would be pretty hard to ski here. I can´t wait to talk to you on Wednesday! It's going to be the best! Love you! Merry Christmas!

Lauren, So your members shower you with presents? I have received a total of 0 presents here. But it honestly doesn't make me sad. Because these people don't even have the money to buy their kids presents. I really hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Christmas in the mission is going to be the best! Thanks for being such a great example to me! Love you tons! Merry Christmas!

Summer here is going to be a killer! jaja literally.. - 12/16/13

One more week in Paita. I have almost been here in Paita for a month now. Crazy right? This last week was a pretty decent week. Not overly amazing, but not bad at all. And it's definitely starting to warm up. I cannot wait for January and February. Summer here is going to be a killer! jaja literally..

Tuesday morning we had our district meeting which went pretty well. I really love district meetings. My district is really cool. There are 2 other gringos in my district so it is kind of fun. They are super cool. My whole district is really cool. I really love being here in Paita. After the district meeting we went and had a practice with our whole zone practicing what we are going to be doing for the Christmas conference on the 24th in Piura. I'm so excited for the Christmas Conference. It's going to be sweet! We are singing this really cool version of Silent Night in English and Spanish. It's super cool. I love music. Music brings the spirit so strongly into my life. Thank you so much for the music you sent me. It honestly helps so much. With everything. When I am sad. When I am homesick. When I am happy. When I am frustrated. It always helps. Music is the best. Especially music this time of year about our Savior.

Wednesday was a super duper duper hot day here in the mission. We went out at 10:00 am and sweated like crazy all the way until lunch. It was ridiculously hot. Super pretty day though. I am so grateful to be here on the ocean. It's so pretty. I honestly feel so blessed to be here in this area! After lunch we went to visit some people in the area called Nueva Esperanza in our branch. It's in the upper part of Paita and is super far away, so we don't go there very much, but we ended up going to visit some members there. I'm grateful that most of my time is in the lower part of Paita. The upper part of Paita is completely dirt. And TONS of wind. All of the 18 other missionaries in our zone are in the upper part except us. We're so blessed. Wednesday night we had a Family Home Evening with a less active family and the leaders of the branch. It was super great. I really think it helped inspire Hermano L to prepare to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. He realizes the importance and knows how much of a blessing he can be to his family! It was a super great night!

Thursday we went and had a service activity in the morning. We went and painted Hermana C's house. Hermana C is our pensionista. She is the coolest lady ever! And her house is super cool overlooking the ocean. The only problem was that it was a ugly green color. But we ended up painting it turquoise. It looks pretty cool now. It was kind of hard to paint though, because part of it is super duper high. We ended up having to tape paint brushes and paint rollers to the end of these long poles and paint on the top of a ladder to get it done. We finally got it done though and it looks so much better! It was a pretty fun morning. After that we went and had a ton of appointments that afternoon. We were literally running from one appointment to the next because we didn't have enough time. I was so tired that night. It was a great day though!
Painting our Pensionista's House
Friday was day 150 of the mission. Can you believe that? 150 amazingly hard and challenging and so worth it days. The mission is the best. We had weekly planning in the morning then went to teach a lesson to a 15 year old that lives here in Paita. His whole family was baptized earlier this year, but he didn´t want to get baptized with them, because he felt like he didn't have a testimony of the gospel which is a valid reason to not want to be baptized. He has been coming to church almost every Sunday for a while now with his family and has now decided that he has gained a testimony and wants to be baptized. He has had all the missionary lessons before so we went over to review with him to make sure he remembers everything. He remembered everything! He knows the lessons better than we do! jaja not really, but he knew almost everything! He is ready to come with us to visit investigators! He is a super great kid. He's going to be such a strength to this ward and to his family! I'm super happy for him!

The highlight of Saturday was during personal study when I read the talk called "Put Your Trust in the Lord" by Elder Ballard from this past general conference about the importance of spreading the gospel. That was a super great motivation for me. There is nothing better that I could be doing right now than sharing the gospel. I know that what he said is true. If we put our trust in the Lord, He will bless us with all the things we need to be successful at sharing the gospel. The Lord is hastening the work. This church truly needs everyone to reach out a hand and help share this gospel with someone else! I am so grateful to be here on the mission!

Sunday morning we went to church and about 8:45 President Rowley showed up with his wife. President had some interviews in Paita in the afternoon so he decided to come visit our branch for the morning. President loves Puerto Paita. We truly have one of the prettiest areas in the mission. An ocean front chapel. Not many members of the church have that! All of Sunday went great. I love being a missionary. It's hard and challenging, but the blessings are worth more than anything!

Today for P day we didn't do much. We went and hiked to a cool spot to take pictures this morning, but other than that we just kind of stayed in our apartment and relaxed. Mainly just because my companion doesn't feel really well today. It's been a great day though!

Thanks for all of the love and support! Love you guys! I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Love, Elder Baker

Sounds like it's pretty cold there. How about I give you about 30 degrees of warmth from Paita. Then it will be better for both of us!

I really think I've gained 15 pounds here. The food is great! And I love fish! So I love Paita! Cause it's a fishing town!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Going to obey. Obedience is better than sacrifice. - 12/9/13

Giant Christmas tree on the beach
Monday. Monday. Monday. Mondays are good days. But then again, pretty much every day on the mission is a great day. There have been so many great things this past week. One of them being that I haven't been sick at all this past week. I've kind of gotten used to getting sick here.  Sick equals diarrhea. Or however you spell that horrible thing. It comes and it goes. I don't take any medicine. I just drink lots of water and it passes. One of the joys of South America! :) It's never super bad, but there is almost always one day a week where I don't feel completely perfect. This week was a great week though!

Tuesday morning Elder C and I went over to the house of Hermana E, who was baptized last Saturday, to paint the main room in her house. Painting is pretty fun. I really actually like painting. Getting ready to paint, however, is the worst. Honestly it took like 3 hours to get the walls ready to paint. All the old paint was chipping off, so we had to sand pretty much the whole room. As we sanded, the walls slowly changed from purple, to green, to blue, to orange, back to purple, and to pink. It's pretty normal here though. People paint their houses a different color every year. Gotta keep it interesting! Painting ended up going really fast. And it didn't look too bad either!
Painting is pretty fun!

Tuesday our pensionista made us pancakes. Pancakes! She has been cooking for missionaries for almost 20 years and she says that she knows gringos love pancakes. She is the best. She always asks what kind of food we want. Fish, chicken, beef, intestines, huevera, pizza, lasagna. You name it, she´ll make it for you. She always says to us, "The missionaries need to be happy. And if the missionaries have to eat food every day that they don't like, they aren't going to be happy." haha. She's the best!

Wednesday was a great day. We went running on the beach. I always love starting the morning with running. Mainly just because it makes me feel like I'm doing something for myself. Honestly, I'm getting chubby. And I don't like it. Definitely a great motivator to do your exercises though! One of the best parts of Wednesday night was the Family Home Evening we had with Hermana Esmeralda, and 5 people from the ward. We watched the Joseph Smith Restoration video. It was a super great thing. After the video we had a testimony meeting. It was so cool hearing everyone's testimonies about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, especially the testimony of Hermana Esmeralda. She is honestly one of the nicest ladies I have ever met. She's awesome. She is going to be a great member of the church and a huge strength for the branch here in Puerto Paita.

Thursday we had a zone meeting. I love getting together with other missionaries. Missions are the greatest. In the meeting we talked about the importance of goals. Honestly if we didn't set goals as a missionary, we wouldn't get much work done. We talked about how we can set more effective goals. President Rowley wants us to start using a 3 step system where we set long term goals, and then break it up in to weekly goals and then break up the weekly goal into what you need to do every day to reach this goal. It will be really good. We had some news at the end of the meeting. We are no longer allowed to use backpacks in this mission. Pretty big bummer for me. I honestly love my backpack. I'll be fine though. Going to obey. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Also, we are not allowed to use skinny ties any more. Luckily that only applies to 1 of my ties. The others are all okay. It made me think about the pictures of the ties dad used on his mission. None of them would be approved now!

Thursday afternoon went pretty well. We ended up finding 3 new investigators. That's a lot for one day here in this area. We are super excited. I am praying that some of them will be able to progress. We are in desperate need of new investigators in this area right now.

Friday morning we had weekly planning and we set some goals for how we can find more new investigators. We are praying a lot. Going to have to act by faith, and I know that we will receive the help we need. I really love weekly planning. It's a super great time to focus individually on the needs of every single person that you are teaching. It's super great.

Not much happened on Saturday, except that we painted the front of a house of a less active family! Elder C and I are the painting pros of Puerto Paita. We painted the front of this house bright yellow. That would be kind of weird in Utah, but it is completely normal here. Everyone plasters the front of their brick house with cement and then chooses a color to paint it to make sure that it stands out from the neighbors. I love it here. It reminds me of the show Dragon Tales where everything is rainbow colored. jajajajajaja, but for real.

Sunday was a great day. Sunday morning in church we got to sing church hymns. I love Christmas music. It would be impossible to get in the Christmas spirit for me if it were not for music. I absolutely love Christmas music. I love the hymns in Spanish. They are a little bit different. Like Silent Night is Noche de Luz. (Night of light). But even though they are a little bit different, they still carry the same message of the birth of our Savior. I'm so grateful for this Christmas season!

Sunday night we went up to the upper part of Paita to watch the Christmas Devotional. It was super great. I enjoyed it a lot. Probably more than I ever have before. Even though this Christmas is going to be different, I am still looking forward to it. It is important that we remember the true meaning of Christmas. One of the best parts of the devotional was when all the little kids were singing with Elder Nelson and the little boy winked at the little girl sitting next to him. I almost died of laughter! I love Christmas. Christmas time is the best! It's pretty weird to be sweating to death the month of Christmas though! Definitely something I'm not used to!

Today for p day we went and took some pictures with our district at the giant Christmas tree at the beach. Pretty cool. My first Christmas at the beach. It's pretty cool living here in Paita. Being able to wake up every morning and sitting up in my bed looking out the window at the ocean. I'm super blessed. After we took some pictures we went and explored El Mercado. El Mercado is crazy! People running around, animals, clothes, food, raw fish. You name it, it's there. There is so much fake stuff. Soccer jerseys are super cheap.  Nike shoes. Shirts. Nike backpacks. Bomba. Not sure how you spell it, but that's how you say it. There is no such thing as original Nike here. I love Peru!
Nativity at the beach.

My district here in Puerto Paita

Thanks for all of the love and support! Love you all! I hope you all have a great Christmas!

Elder Baker

P.S. Thanks for all the notes for the Christmas tree on my wall. It's super great! I love it!
My Christmas tree in my room
 Lauren. I love reading your letters. The Lord has prepared all kinds of people to hear this message though. A missionary in my mission baptized an Evangelical pastor! Cool huh?? Well anyways. Love you! Keep up the great work!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

When times get tough, the tough get going. - 12/2/13

Holy Moly. It's already December. It seems like just yesterday when I was getting off of the plane in Lima at 1 in the morning. So much has happened since then. The mission is great. This week was great. Really hard as for the missionary work, but we had a baptism. And that was amazing. There isn't anything much cooler than seeing one of your investigators take the first step and being baptized. It was such a great week.
Tuesday morning we had our district meeting and then right after that we had a companionship exchange with the zone leaders. I went with Elder P to the upper part of Paita. Elder P is a super cool missionary. He was in Lopez Albujar right before I got there. So we ended up talking a ton about that ward and all the people we know there and talked about how the people he baptized are doing. It was super fun. Elder P is a super great missionary. He was made zone leader with just 10 months in the field. He's a super great leader. He understands his purpose as a missionary and he has a super great attitude about everything. I feel like I was able to learn a lot from him. We had some pretty great lessons too. That night we went back to his apartment and it just made me thankful for the apartment I have. Mainly just because his room has a rat in it that they have been trying to catch for the past few days. And their shower is broken. They have to fill up a 5 gallon bucket with water and pour water on themselves with a cup. Not gonna lie. That was my first time showering like that here in the mission. It was pretty fun. I'm experiencing new things every day.
Wednesday my companion had a training for District Leaders in Piura so I ended up spending almost all of Wednesday with Elder P in his area too. Not sure why, but Wednesday I got sick. It's pretty normal though. No fun, but something you just come to expect. It's better to leave and try to work with a fake smile, than to stay in your apartment. If it is at all possible, I am going to leave and work. Being stuck in your apartment all day is soooooooooo boring. And it's not the reason that I'm here on the mission. My companion got back at about 6 and we headed back to our apartment. 
Thursday was pretty hard. It was hard to work, because everywhere we went no one was home! We had a Thanksgiving party with President Rowley right after lunch. Well it wasn't really a Thanksgiving party. It was just a meeting with our zone. We didn't even mention that it was Thanksgiving. Completely forgot. We had a meeting and discussed how we can work better as missionaries with the leaders of our wards and branches. It was a super good meeting. Because this is super important. As President Monson said, now is the time for members and missionaries to work together. After the meeting, we went back to our areas and worked. After the meeting we got the mail that President had brought with him from Piura and I got the package with the Christmas tree and the cards. Thank you so much. I've only opened 2 of them and they have made me so happy. It makes our room look a lot happier too. Ready for Christmas! It was a hard afternoon too. Almost everywhere we went, people were busy or not home. I love working with Elder C though, because we just keep on working and don't let it get us down. When times get tough, the tough get going. Now I know I'm not tough. Far from it. But I still get going. That's the best thing to do as a missionary.

Saturday was by far the best day of the week. Because Saturday is the day that Hermana Esmeralda chose to be baptized. She has been having the missionaries teach her for a couple months and was super ready for her baptism. I have only been teaching her for 2 weeks, but you can tell how much her testimony has grown. We went to visit her almost every day this week just for a few minutes to make sure she was ready and excited and she always just had a smile on her face. She kept on saying how excited she was. Saturday Elder C and I went over to the church to clean the baptismal font because it was absolutely nasty how gross it was. It hadn't been used for months. We wanted everything to be clean and ready. We wanted to make sure that her baptism was something that she will be able to remember for the rest of her life. People started showing up to the church at like 6 and there ended up being a really good turnout. Especially from the Relief Society which we were super happy about. It's important that she feels welcome in the church. My companion and Hermana Esmeralda changed into their white clothes at like 6:30 and we took some pictures. The actual baptism was super pretty and everything went really well. As she climbed the steps out of the water she had a huge smile on her face. I was so happy for her. After they had changed back into their normal clothes, she had the opportunity to bear her testimony. Halfway through her testimony the power went out and we were in total blackness. We didn't stop the service though. We kept going and she kept on bearing her testimony. She kept on saying. "voy a seguir... voy a seguir... voy a seguir". It was such a cool experience. The spirit could be felt so strongly at her baptism. We finished up with a song and everything in the dark. It was super cool.
Today for p day we went and played soccer on the beach with our whole zone here in Puerto Paita. It was super cool. Then we went and had a much needed cleaning session in our room. Holy moly was it dirty. It's pretty spotless now though. I love having a clean room. It feels so nice.
It's good that Lauren isn't here. She would hate all the fish. Yesterday with our pensionista we had huevera de pescado. It's honestly just millions of little fish eggs. I gagged when I started to eat it, but after I got over the thought that I was eating fish eggs, it tasted pretty good!
I'm so grateful to be a missionary. I have no doubt that this church is true! Thanks for all of the love and support! Love you guys!
Elder Baker
Lauren, Sounds like you're having fun in Australia. Crazy to think it's almost Christmas no?? Time flies by out here. Thanks for your example! I'm so grateful to say that I have an awesome sister who is a missionary just like me! The church is true! NO DOUBT! Tell it! Love you!

Turns out that it's true. Heaven is a place on earth. - 11/25/13

Holy moly. We had a zone activity at the beach today. And it was amazing. It took a while though so I might not have much time to write, but I'm going to try my best.
At Crab Beach
First off. I absolutely love Paita.  haha But for real. This place is beautiful. It's so nice waking up every morning and looking out the window at the ocean! One thing I love about being by the ocean is that there is always a nice breeze to cool you off, and that there are no stupid mosquitos that you have to deal with!

Tuesday was a great day. First thing in the morning we woke up and went running on the beach. At 6:30 in the morning, the only people that are there are us and the fishers going out in their boats to fish. Running was so nice. Even though it made me realize how out of shape I am, it was amazing. Tuesday morning we had a district meeting in our capilla which is right by the ocean. The people in my district are super cool. We had a great meeting about personal revelation through the Book of Mormon. I was honestly so confused with our area on Tuesday. I'm finally now starting to feel like I know my way around. There are tons of hills though. I like hills.

Wednesday. Best day of the mission. Maybe not the BEST day, but it was definitely up there. Wednesday we got to travel to Chiclayo to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson. Such an amazing experience. We had to wake up at 4 in the morning and had to be at the bus station here in Paita at 5:15 with our whole zone to get on a bus to go to Piura. We got to Piura at about 6:30 and then hopped in a moto taxi and went to the stake center in Piura Central. That's where we met up with the entire mission and then got onto buses to go to Chiclayo. It was super fun seeing everyone from the mission. I saw a lot of people that I hadn't seen in a while. The bus ride to Chiclayo was 3 and a half hours. Pretty fun. Except for the 3 and a half hours. Buses are never fun. But it was definitely worth it. The conference with Elder Nelson was amazing. During his talk I received many answers to questions that I had. Questions that I had prayed to receive an answer about. I know that our Heavenly Father listens to our prayers. Always. And if we pray sincerely, he will answer our prayers. After the conference we got back on the buses and headed back to our mission and then to our areas. It was a really long day. I was so tired by the time we got back to our apartment but it was so worth it.
Me and my companion in Chiclayo
Thursday was a great day. I love working with my companion. He is such a happy, and hard- working kid. He is 22 years old, and was baptized when he was 19. He is the only member in his family. But he is the most hard-working kid I know. And he has such a strong testimony. He is one of the people that loves everyone. Thursday night we had a lesson with our investigator Esmeralda. She is 54 years old and her daughter is a member of the church. She has a baptismal date for this Saturday, the 30th. She is super duper excited for her baptism. And she is ready for her baptism too. All the time she bears her testimony to us and tells us how much the gospel has helped her so far in her life.

Friday night we were having a lesson with another one of our investigators. He is this 74 year old, hilarious guy. Everything he says is funny. His family is members and he has a baptismal date for the 24th of December. We were teaching him about fasting and when we told him that in the church we fast the first Sunday of every month for 2 meals, he says to us "That's easy. Sometimes I fast for a week." His family burst out in laughter and soon after he started to laugh and it was one of those moments where as hard as you are trying not to laugh, you can´t help it. He's a great guy though. One of those people that is impossible not to love.

Saturday morning I woke up sick. Being sick is no fun. Curled up on my bed is not the place I wanted to be on Saturday, but there wasn't much else I could do. We went to our Pension to eat on Saturday, and she fixed me soup, because that's the only thing that even sounded remotely good. Our pensionista here is great. Her husband is a fisher. And they love fish. I love fish too. We eat a lot of fish here. There and so many kinds of fresh fish that they sell right here in Paita. Anyway, she is great. Her house is super cool. Built into the side of the mountain overlooking the ocean. Pretty great view for lunch every day.

Sunday we had sacrament meeting. It was the first time I have ever attended a branch and not a ward that I can remember. It's pretty much exactly the same except there were only like 70 people there and it only took like 3 minutes to pass the sacrament. But other than that it's pretty much the same. It was super good. One thing I love about this branch though is that the ward mission leader is super active and wants to help us out as much as he can. That is something that is going to be really nice here.

Today, we had a zone activity. Our whole zone went to a beach that is like 20 minutes away from here that is called Crab Beach. Literally there are hundreds of crabs running around. Everywhere! They are all only about 3 or 4 inches wide though. We took a ton of pictures of the ocean and climbed a bunch of rocks and played some games and played soccer on the beach. It was honestly super duper fun. Definitely something that wouldn't have even been possible in Piura. I love being here in Paita. It's such a great experience.
There were hundreds of these crabs running around!
I love being a missionary. I know that Joseph Smith helped to restore the Gospel in this dispensation. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and answers our prayers. And I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that he died for each and every one of us. And through him, we can be cleansed of all of our sins and mistakes and be made clean. I know this church is true!

Thanks for everything! Love you guys!

Elder Baker

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh. And I was transferred to heaven... - 11/18/13

Welcome to Paita!
Azumacho. I don’t even know where to start. I honestly can´t remember all that has happened in the past week.....

This past week went really well. Final week of my training. There is a 12 week training planning program that missionaries have and now I am officially done with it. I can't believe that 12 weeks have already flown by. Seems like just yesterday when I was arriving in Piura.

This past week went really well for Elder C and me. We were able to find more than double the amount of new investigators this week as we were able to last week. I think it is because we were just talking to lots of people. And we spent a lot of time out working. I think it's important to use every minute possible to work. Time is a precious thing out here on the mission. And I'm determined to make the most of the little that I have.

Hermana S in the ward told us that her brother comes to her house on the weekends and would like to meet with the missionaries to learn more. We ended up having a great first lesson with him and he committed to being baptized! Preach my Gospel says that you can ask someone to be baptized in the first lesson, but I had no clue that it would actually work. He is the first person to say yes during the first lesson. It was a super cool experience. Preach my Gospel is legit. No doubt that the stuff in there can and should be used in the mission. If you follow what Preach My Gospel says, you're going to have success...

 This week we got a call from the zone leaders saying that we had a letter from president in our emails and we needed to read it that day because it had some "significant changes" in it. Turns out that the entire way we have transfers has been changed. Transfers will now be on Mondays instead of Tuesdays and we will get a call from the zone leaders Saturday night before transfers with all of the information (where you're going, when you're going, who is your companion, and what is your assignment). Pretty crazy change for us here in the mission. Elder C had been in Lopez Albujar longer than me so it made us anxious for Saturday night to find out what was going to happen.

The whole weekend was super out of the ordinary for us. Friday, Elder C was sick with a headache, diarrhea, and who knows what else. He spent pretty much all day in the bathroom and I spent pretty much all day reading, watching The District, reading, and eating and reading. Elder C had to call Lima again from the mission office even though he was sick so that afternoon we went over to the office and I had one of the best days ever. I got 4 letters. Letters make missionaries happy. Especially when you get more than one. I got the one from dad about the Red Sox. That was rude. You don't have to rub it in. But I definitely enjoyed it as well. I got the one with the November Ensign in it. That was super nice. No clue when we are going to get the one from the mission in Spanish. Everyone was jealous that I already have it to read! I got one from Brother Hales in the ward, and I got the letter with the USB of Christmas music. And boy was that nice. I can't tell if I'm excited for Christmas. I really, really, really, really, love Christmas. But it's not going to be the same here in Peru. I'm determined that I'm going to enjoy it though. No doubt. After that we went back to the apartment because Elder C still felt horrible.
Letters make missionaries happy!
Saturday was fun. Since President wants every companionship to have their own apartment, we changed apartments on Saturday morning with the zone leaders which was pretty fun. Super hot and sweaty though. We got to move everything by hand. Lots of exercise that day. I was so glad once we got everything moved and set up. The new room is smaller than the other one but it is super nice. And the bathroom is perfecto! Since Elder C has had more time in Lopez than me, we figured that he would be getting transferred and I would be getting a new companion in Lopez. So I ended up unpacking all of my suitcases in our new room and Elder C left all his stuff in his suitcase so he wouldn't have to pack again the following day.

All packed up and ready to change rooms.

Changing rooms with the zone leaders.
Saturday night came and it was time to hear from the zone leaders. At 10:00 they finally called and told us that I was being transferred to Paita and that Elder C was staying in the area. No joke. I couldn't believe it. I was super duper duper happy, but at the same time I was sad knowing that I have to say goodbye to Lopez Albujar. I really have enjoyed the time that I have had in Lopez Albujar. Sunday was honestly kind of sad saying goodbye to everyone in the ward. Sunday evening I had to pack my suitcases again for the second time in two days which was super fun.... NOT!
I'm going to Paita!

Last photo with Elder C (my trainer) before leaving Piura.
This morning Elder C and I had to be to the stake center at 9:00 and then I met up with two other Elders who I would be traveling to Paita with. We went to the bus station, paid 4 soles and got on the bus to Paita. Paita is a fishing town on the ocean 45 minutes from Piura. Super beautiful too. There are two parts of Paita, upper Paita and lower Paita. You first drive through upper Paita which is the desert and then you drop down this giant hill to lower Paita and you can see the ocean and it is beautiful. All the missionaries in our zone are in upper Paita except for my area. We have all of lower Paita. And honestly, this city is beautiful. Our companions were waiting for us at the bus station. My companion is Elder C. Super cool kid. He is from the jungle of Peru. I look giant next to him. I can already tell that this is going to be a super fun transfer for me. He is super obedient, but he loves to joke around and laugh. Something that I am going to love! I'm so grateful that Elder C and I have the lower part of Paita. We get to wake up every morning and look out at the beautiful ocean. I'm so excited to get to know this area and to work hard here in Paita!

Me and my new companion in Paita.

View of the ocean from my room! It's so beautiful here!

I'm so grateful to be a missionary here in PERU! I'm excited to get to know the people here in Paita and to share the gospel with them. I know the church is true. No doubt have I. I'm so grateful to be a missionary!

Love you guys! Thanks for all the love and support!

Elder Baker

Here in Paita it is still hot. But it's okay though, because we get to look at the ocean. I can see the ocean from my bed. And the people say that here there aren't many mosquitos. Which is one thing I am so happy about. Mosquitos son del diablo. Thank goodness the missionaries are safe in the Philippines. The Lord definitely is watching over His missionaries...

Lauren, I'm already in my second area. I said that I didn't want to get transferred before Christmas too, but it didn't work for me. I'm okay with it. I'm in paradise. I can see the ocean from my bed! I love being a missionary. Missions are the best things ever. And I get to go hear from an apostle this week in Chiclayo! Super cool! Church is true. Tell it. So grateful to be serving at the same time as you! Have a great week!

"Ciudad de Eterno Calor" - 11/11/13

Hola familia! Como esta?? I had a great week this past week. I'm so grateful to be here on a mission. So cool! I love Peru too!

This city is so dang hot. There is a reason there is a giant wall downtown that says [city of eternal heat]. Holy moly. I've never felt this hot in my life. And I love it. 
My sweaty back one morning before lunch--before the hot part of the day.

El Centro de Piura

Tuesday was a pretty good day. Except for one thing. Over the past 3 days I had accumulated over 30 mosquito bites all over my body. Holy moly, I was going to die. I learned a lot about will power though. I have to be stronger than the urge to scratch them. I'm a pretty strong person. I made it through some times without scratching that I didn't think were possible. Tuesday night we had the first activity of the week leading up to Ward Conference. It was an open house in the church. Every organization had a room with a little display set up and we invited tons of people to come and see what kind of things we do in the church. It was a super great activity. Really great turnout too! I was super happy with the way it ended up!

Wednesday was a great day. Wednesday morning during personal study I just read the Book of Mormon. I love the Book of Mormon. It really is the best book on earth. I have been reading it in Spanish and English. Right now I am at the part in Alma when Moroni raises the Title of Liberty. I love what the Title of Liberty stands for. Defending their families, freedom, and religion. Time flies while reading the Book of Mormon. I remember when I was a little kid and every day when I had to read for 30 minutes I thought I was literally going to die. And now an hour reading flies by in what seems like 2 minutes. I love reading. I honestly wish we had more time to just read. When I started reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish I honestly couldn't understand much. But now I can understand a lot of it. Pretty cool seeing how far my abilities have come in just my little time here in Peru.

Wednesday night the activity the ward had was a movie night at the church. As missionaries we weren't really able to participate but we definitely stopped by and got some popcorn. That was definitely a great treat. Haven't had that much here. But there were a ton of people that came to the movie—probably 50-75 people. 

Thursday I decided that attitude really is everything out here on the mission. There are always bad parts of every day. But no matter how bad it seems, there is always good too. And the good always makes up for what was bad. Attitude really is everything. You can be angry when someone doesn't accept the gospel or you can still love them because they are still a child of God. You can get mad and be in a bad mood when you step in dog poop, or you can laugh and literally "walk it off," which is a whole lot easier than being mad. Turns out you can still enjoy things that aren't optimal. 

Thursday afternoon was one of the best afternoons that my companion and I have had in our 11 weeks here. We had 5 lessons in just 3 hours from 3:00 until 6:00. That's crazy. Usually we have 2, maybe 3, or 4 if we are lucky; but we had 5 meaningful lessons in just 3 hours. I love working hard. I love it even more when you have success like that from all of your hard work. It was a great afternoon. We visited a sister who is still looking forward to being baptized on the 23rd of this month. I'm super excited for her. She's ready to be baptized.

After the 5 lessons, we headed back to our room so we could change clothes and head over to the church for the activity that they were having that day. OLIMPIADAS! Super duper fun. That night all of the ward got together at the church to play volleyball and soccer under the lights. Super fun activity. We had like 5 people who are not members show up too that we invited! It was a super great activity. Super happy with how it turned out.

Friday. Friday went by so fast. In the morning my companion had to go to the dermatologist and that took forever. There were like 50 people in the waiting room waiting to see a doctor. Thank goodness I had a Liahona to read and pass the time. After the dermatologist we went and ate with his old pensionista from when he was in the office because the clinic is right by the office. Right after we ate we went over to the mission office because my companion had a call with someone in Lima. Pretty fun being in the office that day. And, I got the letter you guys sent for Halloween. Even though it was a week late, I still enjoyed it a lot! :) 

Friday night in the church they had a fiesta from 9 until 1 in the morning and I heard that the whole ward was there. We weren't there though. Because those hours are some of my favorite to sleep. The party said that it was supposed to start at like 7 but to Peruvians that means 9. Literally no one comes on time to anything. Including sacrament meeting! And it drives me absolutely crazy!! I hate being late to things! I love the people here though. They're all amazing.

Saturday morning my companion and I had our weekly planning session for our last week of this transfer. It is crazy to think that this is my 12th week with Elder C. It honestly seems like I just got here. My training has flown by. I remember my first weekly planning session when I helped with absolutely nothing because I could understand nothing. It would be hard to train a gringo. I'm definitely grateful for Elder C and for the patience that he has had with me. 
Saturday afternoon we had a priesthood meeting for ward conference with the stake presidency. After the meeting we all went out to invite different less active families to ward conference the next morning. We got to go with the Bishop and the Stake President. Bishop wanted to visit a family that we had already visited earlier in the day. Elder C and I were kind of hesitant at first but we felt like we should still visit this family. We ended up having a super spiritual lesson with that family and talked about the power of the Priesthood that is in their home. Super cool experience. After visits we came back to the church and had these chicken sandwiches that were super good. I loved them.

Sunday was Ward Conference and there were about 250 people that came. That's a ton of people for one ward in Piura! It was super cool. The stake presidency talked about the importance of missionary work. It seems like every time we meet lately they are always talking about "La obra de salvación" [the work of salvation] which is super cool because it is making all these people excited to help us with the missionary work here in the ward. The Lord is definitely hastening his work.

I am so grateful to be a missionary here in this ward and in Piura. I love it here. I love the gospel. With all my heart. Because I know that it is true. I know that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us more than we know. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that we can live with those we love in the presence of our Heavenly Father after this life because of the gospel. I know that the Church is true.

Thanks for all of the love and support. Love you guys!

Elder Baker

Just to let you know. I would kill to be raking leaves in 60 degrees. Right now it’s 30,000,000,000 degrees.

My testimony has been strengthened immensely this past year. I like working with less actives too. It's true. They have a testimony. You just have to help them find it again. I love seeing less actives come to church on Sunday!

Lauren, Sounds like you had a nice picnic. I would dig a nice picnic on the grass in the nice weather. Here, I could eat a picnic on the million degree sand....Love you! Missions are the best! I'm super happy to be serving at the same time as you! Keep working hard! Love you!

Fasting is a blessing - 11/4/13

NOTE: This letter was right after Elder Baker had received word that his beloved Red Sox won the World Series!

November!!! Holy moly. Where has all this time gone???


Second off. I was looking at my deodorant this week and I noticed that it says 48 hour protection. So this week I started showering every other day. It's super nice to wake up in the morning and not have to shower. And plus I figure that it is a way I can save money by not having to buy as much shampoo. haha Just kidding. That would be disgusting. I sweat so much here. Even though it says 48 hour protection I'm pretty sure that it doesn't even last 6 hours until lunchtime. And plus, I love showering. Even though the water is temperature ice, I love it. One of the best parts of the day. I hate feeling dirty. Something I feel a lot here.

This week was a great week. Wednesday went really well. We had another lesson with a less active member. We have been teaching her a lot lately. When we started teaching her, she hadn't gone to church in years and had a lot of questions and didn't have much desire to come to church. And now she comes to church every week and wants to be more involved in all of the activities in the church. Wednesday night was freezing. No clue why. During the day it was 97 degrees. 97 degrees--and you guys are having snow right now. But that night it was freezing. It reminds me of being in the mountains camping where it would be warm during the day but freezing at night. Thank goodness for the blanket on my bed or I would have died. We got a call from the APs saying that we need to be looking for another room in our ward. Our room right now is for 4 missionaries but only 2 of us are living here right now. It's pretty expensive for just 2 people. We went out and looked but we were unsuccessful. There are no rooms anywhere in our ward that we could rent. We are still looking though.

Thursday was Halloween. The people here don't really celebrate Halloween. They have posters everywhere that say Halloween but they don't do anything for it. Well actually they do one thing. They go around telling people happy birthday. I don't quite understand it. Isn't that something that you would do on April Fools day?? whatever though. We had a zone meeting Thursday morning which was pretty cool. We ended up getting some news that I'm super excited about. On the 20th of this month all of the missionaries in my mission get to go to Chiclayo to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson! I'm super duper excited! It's going to be our mission and mission Chiclayo. Chiclayo is like 3 hours away from here. I'm super excited to be able to hear from an apostle again in person. Second time of my mission! 

Thursday night we went to the part of the ward that is like a million miles away from our apartment. It is where the lake is. The sun was just setting over the lake and it was super duper duper duper pretty. Probably one of the best things that I have seen in Peru so far. Definitely one of the things that makes you grateful that we have this beautiful world to live in.

Friday was November. Is it just me or did this month go by in what seemed like 3 days? Friday was a holiday here in Peru, so tons of people didn't have work. When people don't have work they start to drink. And when people start to drink on Friday, they keep drinking on Saturday, and keep drinking on Sunday, and continue on into Monday. Lots of drinking. The mission manual says that holidays are a great time to find people because people are home, but I really don't like the idea of going up and trying to teach someone who is drinking their 5th bottle of beer. Glad that weekend is behind us.

Friday we did have a really great lesson with Hermana Luciana. She has been wanting to be baptized but she had to be married first before she could be baptized. Turns out that she is going to be married on the 21st of this month! And she wants to be baptized on the 23rd! I'm super excited for her and for her decision to be baptized. She lived in the area of Lopez Albujar 2, so when the new missionaries get to our ward on the 19th of this month, they are going to have a baptism in their first week! What luck for them right! It's okay though. I really don't care about the number. I just want her to be baptized!

Saturday. Every weekend we eat with members. On Saturday we went to the house we were supposed to eat with and knocked on his door and he had completely forgotten. He felt really bad and took us in his taxi to a little food stand on the side of the road in a different ward to eat. The food stand is actually the business of the Bishop of that ward, so it was kind of fun going there. The food was super duper good too. First time I have eaten fried chicken here in Peru. Best meal I have eaten here. By far!

Sunday was Fast Sunday. I love Sundays. Especially Fast Sunday. Fasting isn't horrible to me like I used to think it was. Fasting is a blessing. D&C 59:14. Fasting is rejoicing. There are always a ton of people that want to bear their testimonies in sacrament meeting here. It's super cool. I love these people. Their faith is so strong. I love how the gospel is the same even though it is in a different language. And it's cool to think that the same message is taught throughout the world with tons of different languages. Sunday afternoon we went and visited those that were not able to come to church that we are teaching. We feel like it is important to make them feel like they were missed and let them know that we want them at church with us.

This coming week is the Ward Conference of this ward so there are going to be activities every day this week at the church leading up to the conference. Hopefully it will be a great way to invite investigators and less actives to come and get involved in the church. I'm super excited for this week. It's going to be a great week.

Today we went to Kurt Beer Park again for our zone activity. Pretty much the exact same thing as last time. It's pretty much the only place that we can go. It's pretty fun there. We played soccer and some other games. Our zone this transfer is combined with another one because we are lacking missionaries this transfer, but the following transfer there should be more. It was a pretty fun day. Fun to be able to relax and talk with other missionaries.
Me with a giant skull on the side of the road today!

Our Zone. With 2 members from here in Piura.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. I receive so many blessings every single day. I'm so grateful for my testimony of the gospel. I know this church is true. I'm so grateful that I get to testify of the truth of the gospel every single day. It is a great time to be a missionary!

Love you all!

Elder Baker

McKay, RED SOX RED SOX RED SOX RED SOX RED SOX RED SOX RED SOX RED SOX. I'm so jealous that you got to watch that. That's soooooooo cool. I love the Red Sox. A lot.

Lauren, Yes. I'm pretty upset and ridiculously happy about the Red Sox. I'm pretty jealous of your trunk or treat. It's okay though, because I'm not here to celebrate Halloween. I have way more important things to think about. How is the weather in Melbourne? 97 degrees here. Me gusta sudar.... hahahahaha Love you! Have a great week! Work hard!

It's pretty cold here in Peru....