Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week 5 - Weird things happen to you at the MTC. . .

View from Inside the MTC
This is my last p day here in the MTC!!! I'm so excited to leave. I don't know how ready I am to leave but I am soooooo excited. In one week from now I will be at the airport flying to my mission! I always thought that they taught you the language in the MTC and then you knew the language when you went to your mission. That is definitely not the case. I know a ton of gospel vocabulary and then some basic grammar concepts but that's about it. I'm super excited to get out there and be surrounded by only Spanish 100% of the day. I really just want to learn the language so I can communicate with others easier. It has definitely gotten better though since I got to the MTC. When I got here all I could say is hola, buenos dias, and buenas noches. A whole lot has changed.

This week has been pretty good. I'm getting so sick of the same routine every day but it's ok. Only like 4 more days of classes. I can definitely make it through them. Everything here has been pretty normal this past week. The new kids got here Thursday night. It is crazy to think that it has been a whole month since I was in their shoes walking in here in the middle of the night not knowing where I was or what I was doing.

One thing that I will miss about the MTC is my district. We're all like super good friends now. After all, we have been together pretty much all day every day for the last month. I will miss being able to talk with people in English but I'm sure that the sooner I quit speaking any English, the faster I will learn Spanish. In my district there are 2 of us going to Piura, 3 going to Cuzco, and 5 going to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It will be hard saying goodbye to everyone but we will be so excited to get to our actual mission that none of us will really care too much.

Probably the coolest part of this last week has been watching my teaching ability improve. The correlation between how well you can teach in Spanish, and how much Spanish you know is amazing. Who would have thought? This week was really the week that I have noticed a difference. When teaching our pretend investigators I am actually able to get my point across to them. I don't use all of the right grammar but I can at least kind of speak to them. I'm sure it will only get better with more practice. I can hardly believe that a week from now I will be starting to teach real people all the time. I get so excited thinking of the investigators that I will have in Piura. I can't wait to get there so I can help share the amazing joy and happiness that this gospel brings!

One of the downsides of having my last p day today is that I will not have time to do laundry before I leave. That means I am going to have to pack all of the dirty clothes that I wear this week with me. It's ok though. It will all work out. And if worse comes to worse I will just have to wear dirty clothes for a couple of days before I have time to wash them.

Sunday was one of the most encouraging times of the mission so far. Everyone has to prepare a talk for sacrament meeting every week and then they randomly call on like 5 people to give them. Luckily I didn't have to give mine but I was able to at least write it and write the things that I wanted to say in Spanish. This was the first talk that I have written here in the MTC that has actually been all of what I wrote. The last ones I would try to write as much as I could but I couldn't write much so I would quote a ton of stuff out of Preach My Gospel. I love seeing how much my Spanish capabilities have progressed. Another thing that was great on Sunday was that in sacrament meeting I said the prayer on the bread in Spanish and didn't even mess up. I was pretty proud of myself. Well I don't know if proud is the right word—more of a relief.

That afternoon the three advanced North American districts got to go watch The Testaments. It was honestly so nice to be able to watch a movie. I miss being able to watch movies. They usually show it to you your last Sunday in the MTC but they showed it to us this time because next Sunday something really cool is happening.

We found out last week that Elder Cook from the Twelve is going to be coming to the Peru MTC next Sunday to speak to all of us! I am honestly so excited. The best part is that he will supposedly be speaking in English so I wouldn't even have to use the stupid headsets with a translator! I love the devotionals here. They are already super spiritual and way fun. I can't wait until we get to have one in the presence of an apostle! There are only 150 of us here so I'm sure it will be a more personal experience than if it were at the Provo MTC to 4 million missionaries. That's another plus of being here at an MTC that is so small. I love it here though.

Weird things happen to you at the MTC. Probably the weirdest thing that has happened to me is that I have this strange desire to read. I don't know what it is but I have this desire to read all day. That is something that I definitely did not possess in high school. They gave us the July Ensign this week and I had an hour on Sunday so I sat down and read the whole thing cover to cover. I have read the Book of Mormon while here, and pretty much all of Preach my Gospel. I have read Our Search for Happiness, and Our Heritage from the Missionary Reference Library. And the crazy thing is that I'm not sick of reading. I think I just have learned to love learning.

Anyways, I hope I get to call next Tuesday morning! I hate how little time I have to write! My time is almost up. I love you guys! I know this church is true! I can't wait to be a missionary in the Perú Piura mission!

Love you all! :)

Elder Baker
Elder Baker with cousin, Elder Schouten

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Week who knows how many. . .

August 13, 2013

What's up? The sun? Cause it's not here in Perú. I miss seeing the sun so much. Not like I would stare at the sun back in Utah or anything but I just miss its presence. Here in Lima it is always cloudy. Like literally all day long. There has been maybe 3 or 4 days here that you have been able to see the sun and even on those days it's still super overcast. But everything is going well here. I have almost been here a full month! All of the advanced kids left this morning which makes the 3 districts that came in with me, the big kids on the block. All the new kids always come up to you and ask "Does the Spanish get any easier?" but I always tell them no. It is really so hard. Understanding it is okay and I understand the rules when the people teach them, but I have no clue how to apply them and to form sentences on my own. I figure it will just come with practice and a lot of exposure to it, so I guess I will just wait. Not much else I can do.

This past week went pretty well. I run out of things to talk about because there really isn't that much happening. It is the same schedule every day. Wake up, breakfast, classes, lunch, personal study, physical activity, classes, dinner, classes, bed time. Over and over and over and over and over. But it's okay though. I can handle 2 more weeks of it. And as boring as it is, it really is helping prepare me for the mission field. I've decided that you can either hate your time in the MTC or love it so I have chosen to love it and look for the exciting things that are happening. The days that are pretty fun are P-day and sometimes Saturday when you get to go out proselyting. 

Last Thursday was not the best day of the mission. At about 4:30 pm my stomach started to kill and it felt horrible. It was so bad that I spent from like 6:00 pm on Thursday until 6:30 am on Friday morning curled up in my bed. Thursday night Elder Strong and Elder Schouten were able to give me a blessing which was super nice. It is so nice being surrounded by so many worthy priesthood holders who can give blessings and perform priesthood ordinances. It made it even that much better that one of them was able to be my cousin. I don't know what I had but I sure feel better now. A few other Elders in my District felt the same way that night. Something was going around the MTC for sure because there were about 20 people sick. It's times like those that make you really appreciate the times of good health though.

On Saturday we were able to leave and go proselyting. This time it was sooooooooooo much easier to understand people. Not saying that I could understand what people were saying, because I couldn't, but I could at least pick out a ton of words that I knew in Spanish. That was super nice for me because even though it wasn't easy and I still couldn't follow conversations, it was miles better from the last time I went out. I didn't get a Latino companion for proselyting this time so it was my companion and me and then one of the CCM teachers tagged along to help us. We would have been in deep trouble were it not for him. Nothing really crazy happened this time. I didn't get to ride a bus full of Latinos or get slapped by a drunk guy, but it was still super cool. While we were out we ran into this guy named Jimmy. He told us that he wanted us to come to his house so he could talk to us, so we followed him to his house which was one of the nicer places I have seen. He told us that about 5 years ago he had met with the Elders while half of his face was paralyzed. They gave him a blessing and he started to get better and ended up getting baptized. He told us that even though he had a strong testimony that the gospel was true, he had started to fall away and stop going to church. He said that it had been a couple of years since he had been to church but would like to come back. He had just moved to the area so we were able to show him where the church was. After that, we were able to share some scriptures with him and I was able to bear my testimony because that is one of the few things that I know how to do. You could feel the spirit super strongly and he was almost in tears. When we were leaving he kept on thanking us over and over again. I would be super surprised if I found out that he did not go to church on Sunday. It was super cool to be able to see missionary work in real life. It was the first real person that I feel I was able to help come closer to Christ in Perú. I love being a missionary and I know that it is the best thing I could be doing right now.

On Sunday we watched this DVD of a devotional Elder Holland gave at the Provo MTC sometime last year. You have to love Elder Holland. He has a point to share and he's not going to beat around the bush before he tells you. I love how he can talk loudly at you at the pulpit and still bring the spirit. Not many people can do that. He talked about how important being a missionary is and how you have to take advantage of the opportunities that you get here because you are never going to get another chance to devote your whole life to spreading the gospel ever again. It was by far the best part of Sunday.

Last night we had to say goodbye to those who left this morning to go to their missions. I had become pretty good friends with some of them but it was exciting to see them go. One cool thing being here in Perú and not in Provo is that you get to know practically everyone here. Crazy to think that in two weeks it's going to be me that is the one saying farewell to Lima. I'm so excited to get to Piura and be able to go proselyting every single day!

This morning was P-day so we got up at 6 to do our laundry before everyone else gets to the washing machines. It is so nice to get yours done very first so you don't have to fight people the whole time for the washers and dryers and irons (which don't really work). Doing laundry is a hassle here. It'd better be better out in the field. After that we were able to go to the Temple. The Temple had been closed for cleaning the last two weeks so it was super duper duper nice to be able to go back. I love the Temple and the feeling that you get. One cool thing that I can say is that half of the Temples I have been to have been outside of the United States. haha. After that we were able to go to the Distribution center and then go get some things that people needed at Metro which is just another grocery store by the temple.

Is McKay still taking piano lessons? How old was I when I quit? Cause it would be super nice if I would have played longer. The missionaries who can play the hymns are the best. Music is one of the things I miss most. 

I love reading Lauren’s letters every week. It's so cool to have a sibling serving at the same time as you. I tell all the Latinos I have a sister serving in Australia and they think it's the coolest thing ever.

You're so lucky that you get to watch BYU Football this year. I will definitely miss that here in Perú. I don't think the people here even know what American Football is. The only sports they know of are Futból and Volleyball. Literally. Those are the only sports I have seen played here.
Elder Baker and Companion

 The Church is True! I love the Gospel! And I love being a Missionary! I love you all and thanks for the Support!

Love, Elder Baker

Week Three in the Lima CCM

August 6, 2013

I just love being here in Peru!

This week was pretty good. It’s getting pretty repetitive though and it is making me super duper excited to be able to leave see more of Peru. I’m halfway done here! 3 weeks from today I will be flying out, whether I know Spanish or not.

Classes here are good. I really love my district and all of my teachers. The Spanish is still super duper difficult but it is definitely coming. I can finally understand a lot of what people are saying. Trying to form sentences for myself is still pretty much impossible but I’m sure it will get better with time.

It was so nice Wednesday morning walking upstairs and seeing Elder Schouten. It’s weird saying Elder Schouten. He’s still Austin for me. And I see him all the time here. There are only like 150 people here right now so you pretty much get to know everyone. I kind of like it. It’s like we’re all friends. Elder Schouten has the same exercise time as me from 4 to 5 pm so we get to play soccer for an hour then. Too bad his P day is Thursday and not Tuesday like me. That would be the best.

Soccer Field at the CCM
This last week I was able to finish the Book of Mormon. I love the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. I love how happy it makes me when I read it and study it. Every time I read something out of it I get something new from it. This last week we really were studying the Restoration of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon. We talked a lot about Joseph Smith and my testimony has definitely been strengthened here. On Sunday we watched a Joseph Smith movie in English and it was so nice. At the end of the movie they play the song Praise to the Man and the spirit was so strong. I looked around and all the missionaries had tears rolling down their faces because they know that this gospel is true and the Holy Ghost testifies of that to us. The Spirit is so strong in the MTC.

It’s crazy to think that tonight David [another cousin] will be set apart and then there will be 6 Twitchell grandkids out. It’s such a blessing to be surrounded by such amazing examples. Every day I pray for Elder Christensen, Sister Benjamin, Sister Tanner, Sister Baker, Elder Schouten, and David, soon to be elder, Tanner. I’m sure it’s been killing David to be home. I’m sure he just wants to be out with us. I am jealous that he will get chocolate milk and cold cereal in the morning at the Provo MTC though. I could really go for some Froot Loops right now.

Today we went out shopping for p day. I bought some scripture cases for my Spanish scriptures and then went to Tottus and bought some comfort food. We went and bought churros off this street stand again. I know that it could be dangerous eating off a street stand but I don’t care. It’s worth it because they are so dang good. I said a blessing on them though. Just in case that helps. On our way back from the churro stand on our way to the temple we passed this lady walking with her little boy. The little boy was probably only like 4 years old but he looked up at Elder Monson, Elder Truman, Elder Strong, and I and goes, "Hola, Elderes!" It was honestly the cutest thing I have ever seen. I love it how even though I’m in South America I still run into people that are faithful members of the church. It doesn’t matter what country you are in or what language you are speaking, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true.

We’re only allowed to take pictures on P day in the MTC so that’s kind of a bummer, but oh well.

Lauren, this week I was pretty jealous of how you were in Australia. You already know the language. It’s so hard to explain what you are thinking and bring the Spirit when you hardly even know any of the language! Oh well though. It will get better. Little by little.

The church is True! Love you all! :)

Elder Baker

First Tracting Experience!

July 30, 2013

Typical Chicken & Rice Meal

This past week here at the MTC was super cool. One of the exciting things was that this past Sunday was Peru's Independence Day and so on Monday we celebrated with a Peruvian buffet which was sooooo good! They had these donuts that were soaked in caramel cinnamon stuff which was so good. But other than that the food here is just ok. Not super good and not super bad. The one thing that I absolutely love is that every other day they have soft serve ice cream. It makes the day so much better. Classes are getting pretty repetitive but it's good. Spanish is coming. Not fast. But slowly it is coming. I can even understand a few words people say now. haha but really it is hard to understand. I can understand what my teachers say because they speak super slowly and repeat everything 5 times.

Saturday was a real humbling-exciting-sad-joyful experience. On Saturday they let us go out proselyting. I know that sounds crazy but they really send Americans out proselyting after they have only had 10 days of instruction in Spanish. They assign you a Latino companion from the MTC and then load you onto these busses and ship you out somewhere in Lima to go and teach people. The bus I went on had only Elders and no sisters. I think there was probably a good reason for that. We drove for like 40 minutes until we got to this dirt road and then drove another 40 minutes until we pulled up to this little town. They dropped off half of the people and then kept driving to another town where we stopped. It was honestly the poorest area I have ever seen in my life. Once I got there they took us to the chapel and gave us a little instruction that I did not understand because it was in Spanish and then shipped us out to the areas that we were supposed to go proselyting to.

My assigned companion and was from Trujillo, Peru. One of the ward missionaries also came with us. Once I got out onto the dirt, I realized that Peru has two languages. 1- Spanish and, 2-No entiendo. Turns out I'm completely fluent in the second one. It's like I've been doing it my whole life! But for real though, it is so hard to understand people when they talk at 2 million miles an hour! Teaching went pretty well. My companion taught this lady a lesson about the restoration which was pretty good. This area we were in was honestly like this dirt mountain with these little shacks all over the mountain. We were like at the top of this mountain teaching this family and we got out at 4
:45 pm, but we were supposed to be back at the chapel at 4:40 pm. So we start running out to the one main road in the city and hop on this little bus thing that holds 12 people to get a ride about a mile and a half down the mountain and to the chapel. We pay 1 sol which is like 30 cents and climb into this bus that is crammed with people. We take the last seats available and as it would turn out I got to sit right across from this super duper drunk guy. He starts rambling on in Spanish and asking me these questions but his speech is so slurred that not even my companion who is from Peru can understand him. He asked me where I was from (which is the one thing I understood) so I said I was from the Estados Unidos. He started yelling and screaming and patting my cheek and feeling my hair and grabbing my nametag on my left pocket and I just wanted to yell STOP TOUCHING ME YOU FAT GOOB HEAD! But, since I was a missionary I just tried to kindly ask him to stop. I was super happy once I saw the church down the road and right when I think I'm going to be able to stop and get off, the driver stops and gets gas! Let's just say that I was super glad when I was finally able to get off. It was such a great first experience tracting here in Peru. I love it here!!!
Elder Roman & Elder Baker

So another thing from this week—last night was probably the hardest night of my mission. I had to say goodbye to Elder Roman. He is one of the Latinos in our room. He was honestly the coolest kid ever and I was so sad to see him go. He's going to be such a great missionary. He knows a little bit of English from watching TV. Crazy right? But it's ok. I'm so excited for Austin to come. That will make up for it. Last night 110 missionaries left the MTC and so there are only 50 of us here today. Tomorrow about 60 Norteamericanos and 40 Latinos should be coming. It's kind of nice not being super crowded.

I was able to go to Tottus today. I bought a ton of soda and candy and cookies and stuff. I get so sick of rice and chicken. And yeah, they did give us a water bottle with a filter in it to help us not get sick. And they gave us a replacement filter which should be good.

Well anyways. I don't know how much time I have left and hope this will even send. I know the church is true and love you All!


Elder Baker

Friday, August 16, 2013

Oh Boy...

July 23, 2013

I don't even know where to begin. This past week has been the craziest, hardest, saddest, happiest, boringest, excitingest, frustratingest, fulfilling week of my life. I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

At the CCM

Sign in front of CCM

Courtyard area at CCM
Last Wednesday the flight to Peru was almost fun—except for the whole thing. I was sooooooooo glad when we finally made it to Lima. When we got off the plane we had to go through customs and give them the declaration form that they gave us on the plane. It wasn’t in English so I couldn’t understand any of it. I sure hope I filled it out right, but even if I didn’t I don’t think they will care. They seemed pretty relaxed. When we got off the plane we went onto this bus and took like an hour ride through Lima in the middle of the night through the most ghetto-looking place I have ever seen and then all of the sudden a church popped up and then we were here.

The Four Latinos Assigned to My Room
My companion is a super duper duper smart kid from Redlands, California. I honestly don’t even know why he is on the 6 week Spanish program. He can speak to all of the Latinos in our room and I can’t even understand a word they say. He loves to study. We have both been called here to serve the Lord so we are going to have to work hard together. A great thing about him is that he is already fluent in Spanish so whenever I need something I just ask him. He’s like a walking Spanish encyclopedia/dictionary.

Elder Baker and Companion
The rest of our district is super duper cool. There are a total of 3 Elders and two sisters going to Bolivia, 3 Elders going to Cuzco, and me and one other Elder are both going to Piura. We all get along super well.
My District at Lima Temple

Español. What a stupid thing. I hate it. It is so frustrating and so fulfilling. Some people in our district are way more advanced than others. I am probably one of the three worst. All of the others have had like 3 years with a good teacher. We are lacking. I’m just praying like every ten minutes literally that I will be able to learn the language. I can understand a lot but my speaking ability is at a level minus 8. Last night we taught an investigator and the only thing I did was say a prayer in Spanish and say that I know the Book of Mormon is true. My companion talked for the other 18 minutes. It’s so frustrating not being able to form sentences. I’m just praying that it will come. I know with a lot of faith and a bazillion prayers that it hopefully will.

Playing soccer here is probably one of the best parts of the CCM. The Latinos are super good so all the whites like to play without them so we can actually score and stuff. The field and stuff is pretty nice. I love futbol!

Soccer Field at CCM - I Love Soccer!

This morning we got to go to the Lima temple which was such a cool experience. We had to have headsets translating everything into English but it was good. I love the spirit that you can feel in the temple. After that we got to go shopping around Lima. We went to this Mormon souvenir place where I got a coin purse for like 7 soles which is like 2.50 U.S. dollars. I needed it because coins are used for everything here and I really needed somewhere to keep my coins. The busses are super fun. You hop on this ghetto bus that costs like 12 US cents and it takes you to the temple. We went to metro which is like a grocery store here and bought some candy and soda and stuff because there is nothing like that here in the CCM. After, we went and bought churros from a stand on the street. They are ridiculously good. They have melted caramel in the middle and they only cost like 1.5 soles which is like 50 cents. I absolutely love being here in PERU!! Just pray so that I can learn the language quickly. That would honestly make life so much easier.
The church is true. I know it. The gospel is the same in Spanish as it is in English. I feel the spirit so strongly when we sing hymns in the auditorium even though they are in Spanish and I have no clue what the words I’m singing mean. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I can’t wait until I can understand it in 2 languages!

Love, Elder Baker

p.s. - I cannot wait for Austin [Elder Baker’s cousin] to get here.

#firstletterexceptitismorelikealittenotethanitisa letter

Thursday, 18 July 2013 

Lima Peru Airport
Bus from Airport to MTC

ll, it’s crazy here at the MTC. I understand next to nothing. I am in a room with 5 others. 4 are native and my companion is white and is from California and knows way more Spanish than I do. He can communicate with the others and I can’t. He is cool though. Our plane got in last night at about midnight then it took a while to get through customs and immigration and then we had to go on an hour long bus drive to the MTC. We drove past like an infinity of buildings that had graffiti all over them and were three stories high made out of brick and looked like they were about to fall down. We got to the MTC at about 2 am and got to bed at like 3 am. Luckily they didn’t make us wake up until 9 this morning. That was definitely nice. Except I think it would be more comfortable sleeping on the floor. This bed is honestly horrible but it’s all part of the MTC experience!!!

Today we went to registration and got our name tags and everything. We had to get our pictures taken, and exchange our money for Peruvian soles. After that they let you send a quick letter home so that is what I’m doing now!! I love this place. I’m so grateful to be here. Austin [Phillip’s cousin] will for sure love it here. The other thing that was horrible this morning was the fact that the breakfast was horrible. We had super soupy yogurt and coco puffs that tasted more salty than they did sweet with warm cow tasting milk. It tasted disgusting and made me gag, but I loved it!! Love you all! Can’t wait to write you again.

Love, the Philster

p.s. - that plane last night was straight up ridiculous! I want to fly on a plane like that every time I fly!!
The Boeing Dreamliner