Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sweatin' from every pore! - 9/23/13

23-9-13 weekly update

Well I'm glad to hear that it's cooling off in Utah. Cause it's not here, that's for sure! Every day I think I am going to die because it is so freaking hot! And it's not even summer yet! There's a song on the Nashville Tribute missionary album and it talks about sweatin' from every pore. The whole song is so perfect for how I feel right now! "It's gonna take work, breakin' down the walls between us..... knockin' on every door.....sweatin' from every pore!" 

This week went pretty well. Except for the fact that I have had a ginormous cold. For like four days! I've blown my nose so many times it's ridiculous. Probably gone through like 2000000000 rolls of toilet paper too! Cause they sure don't have nice soft Kleenexes here. 

Wednesday was Elder Cortes' birthday. I woke up at six in the morning with Elder Aquino walking into our room and smashing an egg on my companion's head while he was still in his bed. There was egg everywhere! I would have been so mad, but he just laughed about it. I guess he was just glad that Elder Aquino didn't have flour to dump all over him like people usually do in Peru. The day went pretty well. We were in a good mood like all day. And that night we went over to have cake at a member's house. It was super good! Lauren [Elder Baker’s sister serving a mission in Australia] was complaining about how crappy her oven was and how hard it was to bake a cake. She should see the oven I have in my apartment. It's nonexistent.
My Companion getting "egged" for his Birthday

My Kitchen

All the people here are crazy. They eat a lot for lunch, but eat pretty much nothing the rest of the day. I'm starving. Like always. I think it's because we are out walking and sweating all day long. But I could literally eat everything that is placed before me. We never have to cook lunch. Monday through Friday it is with the pensionista and Saturday and Sunday it is with members in the ward. I can't tell if I'm just getting served better food right now than when I arrived, or if I'm just getting used to it, or if I'm just starving. But I love it! The food here is so good! We eat with members on Saturday and Sunday in their little shacks built with bamboo and plywood, with their dirt floor. You're not expecting much from them, but they bring out these super nice meals that taste amazing! While I was in Lima, all the people said that the people in Piura know how to cook. It's true.

I absolutely love the members here. They are all so nice to all of the missionaries. It's like I have 200 friends here that would be willing to do anything I asked of them, and they don't even know me! I love going to sacrament meeting and seeing everyone together. The church building we have is pretty small and it's not very nice, but that's not what is most important. What is important is the things that happen inside the church—the things that are said and the things that are taught. The members here don't have many things of the world, by our standards, but they don't need things of the world. They have the gospel and that is what makes them happy. I'm so excited for the members of the ward this week. Because on Tuesday they are taking a bus to Lima so that members of the ward can attend the temple. I'm so happy for them. The temple is absolutely amazing. I'm a little bit jealous. It makes me so grateful that in Utah we live so close to so many temples and don't have to sacrifice much to go and to feel of the spirit that abides in the temple.

On Friday morning Elder Cortes and I went to teach a lesson to this person that was baptized recently. We walk into their house and sit down and all the sudden like a million little chickens and ducks run through the living room! It's so funny thinking about how farfetched of an idea that would be in Utah, but here it is completely normal! In the United States, we raise dogs in our houses. Here they raise dogs, birds, chickens, and ducks. Another difference I have really noticed this past week is that in Utah we use a lot of water watering our grass. Here they use a lot of water watering their dirt. When I first got here I was kind of puzzled as to why they water their dirt. But the reason they do it is because they like dirt, not sand. If you go a few days without watering it, you have 3 inches of sand, which is no fun. Trust me. 

Normally I would love the wind here, but this week made me hate wind. I couldn't even think about the fact that it was cooling me off, because all I could think about was the fact that I had 5 gallons of sand in my eyes. It hurt. I was glad I wasn't wearing my contacts though. That could have been way bad.

This week was also a super good week for the language. I'm finally to the point where I can really feel like I can understand conversations, and pretty much know completely what they are talking about. I'm so glad the language is finally coming. It's going to be sooo nice once I feel comfortable with speaking the language. I'm still thinking that that is going to be a year down the road, because it's still not in sight. I can understand, but to carry on a conversation with someone is rough. I practice every day though. With faith, lots of time studying, and lots of time on my knees, the language will come.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be serving a mission right now here in Piura. I love being a missionary. I know that this church is true and it makes me so happy to know that I get to spend 2 years of my life sharing that happiness with others. I am so grateful for everything that I have learned and experienced in my time here and am so excited for all the times ahead of me! I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the Atonement, and for the Plan of Salvation. I know that the message that we, as members of the church, have is true. I can't wait to share it with more people. This week!
Our Study Area

Elder Baker and Elder Levi

There is a member in the ward that I was talking to this week and he said that he was surprised at how nice I was to him because he thought that all Americans were arrogant. It's important to not act that way around these people. I always want to make sure that I come off as caring and not seem like an "Arrogant American."

Lauren, Are you excited for a new companion and to be training? I think being a trainer would be hard. Lots of responsibility. You literally have to teach them everything about how to be a missionary. You will do an amazing job though. Whoever is your trainee is sure going to be lucky! I'm praying for you like always! Keep working hard! This week is 6 meses for you right?? Crazy how time flies by!

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

Elder Baker

Monday, September 16, 2013

16-9-13 - Did the Date Look Weird to You?

September 16, 2013

Did the date look weird to you? Cause it did to me too. It drives me crazy how here they put the day of the month before the month. Every night when we write in our binder for our investigators, I have to stop and think and make sure that I am doing it right. So many things here are taking forever to get used to!

This week has been infinitely better than last week. I think it's because I was able to get on some medicine that helped with the runs. I think it worked. I'm feeling great now! We had some hard times this past week but there were also some spiritual things that were great!

Pancake Mix in Peru!
One thing that was great this week happened with Antony. Antony is our investigator right now. He is 19 years old and his whole family was baptized earlier this year but he had some doubts about the church. He had been really stubborn before this week. This week I made it a goal to really try to become his friend. I feel like before, we were just being missionaries trying to get another baptism. This week, my companion and I really started to take interest in him. He ended up opening up to us and confirmed what I had thought. He had thought we just wanted him to get baptized. The previous missionaries didn't really seem to care much about him as a person before. We helped him understand that we want him to be baptized because he knows that the church is true and not because we want a baptism. We invited him to come to stake conference with his family and he actually came! Before, we had dragged him to church with his brother in a polo shirt and jeans. But this week he came without us going to his house and dragging him with us. He was even wearing a white shirt and tie and walked in and smiled when he saw us. It was super great.

Another thing that was pretty fun this week was that I had companion exchanges on Friday-Saturday. Since my companion is a zone leader, he had to do exchanges with one of the other zone leaders. They were in our area so I got to go to Santa Julia for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. My companion in Santa Julia was great. He is obedient to every rule and does everything like we are supposed to. He doesn't take any shortcuts and does everything like he should. I want to be exactly obedient, not just mostly obedient.

Friday night went super well in Santa Julia. My companion there is from Bolivia and has 19 months in the field. It was great being able to work with him because he is a super good missionary. I feel like I learned a ton with him. Every time I am with a different missionary, I feel like I learn something new that I can do to help me become a better missionary. He really helped my Spanish. He made me talk a lot. I was kind of frustrated with how much he was making me talk, but I realize that it is for my own good. Each time I do things like that I become a better missionary. I don't like their room though. Maybe it was just because it didn't feel like home. My room is much cleaner. I can't stand to live messily. All my stuff is organized. 

Sunday was stake conference which was super cool. It was all of Peru! It was in Salt Lake and they were televising it by satellite to all of the stakes in Peru. They were celebrating the creation of the 100th stake in Peru. The members here are great and the church is growing super duper fast! Elder Bednar and Elder Scott spoke. Elder Bednar spoke in English with a translator, but Elder Scott spoke in Spanish. Someone said that he knows English, Spanish, and Portuguese. I couldn't care less about learning Portuguese right now, but it would sure be nice to be able to speak Spanish as well as him. He is super good. All of the Latinos say they are amazed at how good his Spanish is. My Spanish is improving though. Every week I am able to understand more and more. I'm not getting ahead of myself though. I still sit through a ton of stuff having no clue as to what is going on or what is being talked about, but it's improving. I've pretty much nailed my testimony in Spanish though. That's one thing that I'm glad that I can do. My teaching is getting way better too!

Today we went to this park for our zone activity and played games, played soccer, looked at the animals, and played in the park and had lunch. It was super fun being with our zone. Our zone is pretty small. I think it's the smallest in the mission. There are only 14 of us. But we all get along really well. Today was nice because it was my first opportunity to play soccer on something other than cement. Most of the field was dirt, not grass, but it was still way better than cement! It was super fun. Today has been a crazy day, but it has been a good one.
Our Zone, Piura Central
at Zone Activity

Soccer Field

Love you guys! Love you tons! Thanks for everything! I know that the church is true!

Yo se que la iglesia de Jesucristo es verdadera. Se que el libro de mormon es verdadero. Yo he leido y el espiritu ha testificado que es verdadero. Yo se que Jesucristo es nuestro salvador y redentor, y por medio del evangelio de Jesucristo, podemos retornar y vivir con dios por eternidad!

Simple, and full of errors, but true.

Have fun at the BYU game this weekend! I'll be wearing my BYU football shirt every day this week. I really hope that they win. And if they lose, I'm glad that I'll be in Peru because then I won't have to deal with the pain of losing.

Sounds like the weather is getting nice in Utah. It's getting bad here. We have language study after lunch every day here and our room is flaming hot. I don't even want to know what it is like in the summer here. And I've already been out here 2 months! Time flies by! Before I know it, it's going to be Christmas here. Elder Aquino in my room always talks about my first Christmas here. He says it will be great. He always sings this song that's like "Mi primera navidad, in ñaskdjfñkjsdñklfjasñkdfjñksdjfñkljs" those letters signify the part when I can't understand what he is saying anymore. It's okay though. I miss going to the temple. Only 22 more months till I can go again though!

Lauren, Sounds like Australia is a happening place! It's not as great as Peru though! Jaja. Keep working hard. I think about you every day. One thing that is weird is that every morning when I wake up I know that you are just returning to your apartment finishing up the day that I am just starting! Pretty fun to think about. Keep working hard. I pray for our family everyday. I pray for you guys cause I love you.  Pray for me because I need the help with the language! I really want to learn this language!! I just have to keep having faith, and it will come!

Love you guys!

Elder Baker

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week Two in Piura, Peru - 9/9/13

In front of my apartment
English and Espanol
Week 2 has been pretty good here in Piura. I have learned so much in the little time I've been here. This has been a hard week for me though—emotionally, physically, spiritually, and languageally. But it's okay. I didn't come on a mission expecting it to be easy. I expected difficulties. I expected heat. I expected to be tired. I expected to have sad times. And I expected some difficulty with the language.

This past week I have really become good friends with the three other Latinos in my room. It is pretty fun being able to have people to talk with. They really are helping me with my Spanish a ton. They always let me practice teaching them and give me lots of pointers and help with everything. I'm sure they make fun of me behind my back but I would probably do the exact same thing if I was them. I would definitely take advantage of the fact that someone could not understand me. They're all super cool. I'm going to miss them once some of us get changed to other areas. I will be here for 3 or 4 transfers, so up until Christmas. I'm completely okay with it too. I love the area. There are great people to teach and the ward is great. I could really go for a nice bathroom though. That's the one thing that I miss most from home right now. I feel like I'm getting diseases every time I walk into the bathroom.

One of the reasons this last week was so hard was because I was sick from Monday to Saturday with the runs. There is nothing worse than when you're sitting in a lesson with investigators and you have to go to the bathroom—15 minutes seems like an eternity. Literally. It was so hard! I'm feeling better now though. Everyone I talk to says that it is completely normal and happened to them several times a month their first few months in the field. One more thing to add to the list of ¨joys of living in South America.¨ I really enjoy it here though. When I'm feeling good, I absolutely love being out here.

On Thursday we had our first zone meeting. It was so nice because there are others there from North America that I can talk to in English. It really is tiring being around only Spanish all day long because you really, really, really have to focus on what people are saying if you even want to have some kind of clue as to what they are saying. But I feel like the Spanish is coming along. I still have good days and bad days though. Sometimes I can understand and follow a conversation, and some days I might as well be asleep dreaming about food. I'm trying my best though and I can definitely see a difference. Yesterday afternoon we were teaching this guy who is a fisher and works at the sea from Monday through Saturday, so Sundays are our only days to teach him. It was the first lesson we had out here that I really felt like I contributed a lot to the lesson. I have really been practicing teaching the lessons with my companion and I was able to explain the things to the investigator without the help of my companion. It is so cool when you just start to try to talk not really having a clue as to what you are going to say and the spirit helps you. There have been so many experiences like that out here. It has really increased my confidence in the language. Even if I don't know what I am going to say I try to say something when I feel like I am supposed to.

On Monday night my companion had to go to Lima for his visa so I got to spend Monday and Tuesday with an Elder from Guatemala. He is a really cool guy. He came to our area and so that meant that I had to direct everything and show him where to go and introduce him to our investigators. That was pretty nerve wracking. I barely know the people, let alone the language. It went well though and I feel like he helped me a lot with the language. One thing cool that we did was that while we were just walking around we would go over the words of everything around us. From perro to casa to cables to basura to perro to carro to calle to moto to perro. There are honestly so many dogs here. It is ridiculous. I get so sick of having to kick dogs away from us. There are hundreds here. And they just follow you everywhere! I had a great time on Tuesday with this elder even with being sick.

The rest of the week went pretty normal until Sunday. Sacrament meeting was good. We walk in and sit down like normal. During the sacrament the bishop looks at me and mouths the words asking me if I will bear my testimony. So right after the sacrament he gets up and says "we will now hear from Elder Baker who is new in the ward and will bear his testimony." Of course he would ask me-- not the other Elder who is just as new as me here. So I got up and bore my testimony and probably said things wrong but it's definitely okay. It was a great learning experience. And it taught me to always be prepared for sacrament meeting because if someone isn't there that is supposed to talk they are going to call on one of us to take up some time.

This morning for P-day we were able to go play soccer at a church. All the churches have cement soccer fields. There were like 16 elders there. It was super fun. And hot. At ten in the morning it was already 10 million degrees. It was a great way to relax from the hard things of missionary work. I can't wait for this week though. I’m ready to work hard and teach the gospel. 

This is just one of the many cement soccer fields they have here. They are everywhere!
Thanks for all of the love and the support! I know that the church is true. I'm grateful for the testimony I have and for the opportunity to share the gospel! 

About our pensionista-- I really have no clue how she does laundry. I would assume she does it by hand. These houses here don't seem like the kind that would have a washing machine. Most of them don't even have microwaves. Luckily we do. It's tiny though-- like 8 inches tall.

Time really does fly by out here. Want to know something crazy we figured out here. Since we sleep for 8 hours every day, I will sleep for 8 months of my mission! Crazy! It makes me want to make great use of the little time that I have awake!

Elder Baker

Week One in the Campo - 9/2/13

Hola! I honestly don't even know where to start. What a week it has been here in Peru. So much has happened. I don't even know if I can remember all that has happened. I´m so glad I'm done with the MTC. That was fun and all, but it is so much better here. I miss my district from the MTC though. We were all super good friends because we had spent so much time together. Of the 10 of us there are 5 in Bolivia, 3 in Cusco, and 2 in Piura. It was weird saying goodbye to some of them because I knew I would never see them again.

Lima, Peru Temple
Cousins at the Lima, Peru MTC - Elder Baker and Elder Schouten
Tuesday morning we got to wake up at 4 in the morning and go to the Lima airport. At the airport, I got McDonalds for breakfast. McDonalds is the best. I wish they had it here in Piura. Our plane left Lima at 9 am and arrived here at 10:30. The airport in Piura is tiny-- 1 baggage claim, 1 check-in desk and 1 bathroom. It is literally so small. After getting all of our bags, we headed over to the mission home. It is so nice—probably the nicest home in Piura. Okay, probably not the nicest but it was pretty nice. There we met President Rowley and his wife. President Rowley is super cool and super nice. We had our interviews and went over the health, financial and general stuff in the mission. At about 5 pm we went over to the mission office and hung out there for a while. The assistants to the president walked us around and showed us some stuff in Piura. That night I got to sleep in a hotel. There were 18 new elders and only room for 10 of them in the mission office, so the rest of us got to go over to the hotel. My companion for the night was Elder Bradshaw. He was in my district at the MTC so we already knew each other super well. They brought us pizza from Pizza Hut which was super good and just hung out there for the rest of the night.

Plane from Lima to Piura
 Wednesday morning we woke up and went to one of the chapels and had breakfast and had some more instruction with President Rowley. At about noon we met our companions. My companion is a super cool guy from Chile and he has 13 months in the field. He was secretary of finances in the office for 3 months and knows his way around Piura. My area is called Lopez Albujar 1. It is in the middle of Piura. So, after lunch at the chapel, I packed all my suitcases into a little moto-taxi and we had like a 5 minute drive to our room.

There are literally thousands of these little moto-taxis here
So, about my room. Mom would definitely refuse to live here. It's not the United States of America. The one thing that I don't like about it is that the toilet is super duper dumb. For one, it is right by the shower so it gets soaked every morning. And number 2 (literally number 2), it doesn't flush. If you put the toilet paper in the toilet it gets all backed up. Lots of times it doesn't work even without toilet paper. President knows about it and right now we are looking for another apartment. The problem is though, that there aren't many that are in good condition for rent, and most of the ones that are for rent are either way too expensive or way far away from the pensionista. Oh well. I guess it’s just another one of the joys of living in South America. Our pensionista is super nice. She is an older member and cooks super good food. Every day we have rice and either chicken or beef. It's a mission rule that we are not allowed to eat any pork or ceviche, which is definitely something that I'm not going to complain about. She does our laundry every week, which is really nice. I hate laundry.
Our Room. Yeah, I do sleep under a net. I have gotten like 6 bites here.
Not too bad though. Mosquitos are worse in Utah.

The view from our room
So I'm sure you want to have an update on how my Spanish is. This one time on Saturday we knocked on this door and a little boy opened the door and started talking. He was probably only 2 or 3 years old. When he started talking to my companion in Spanish and I had literally no clue as to what they were talking about, was really when I realized how little Spanish I know. A little tiny kid that is a fraction of my age knows infinitely more Spanish than I do. I have definitely learned a ton of Spanish while I have been here though. Every once in a while I can follow parts of a conversation. I can talk with people if they talk super slow. One thing that is encouraging is when we talk with members and they always say to me, ¨You know way more than Elder C did when he came here!¨ Supposedly Elder C was a gringo that was trained here before I got here and knew no Spanish. In every lesson that my companion teaches, he always turns to me and makes me teach part of the lesson. I sound stupid the whole time because I don´t know how to say what I am trying to say, but it is okay. It's doing things like that that help me get better at talking. In our apartment, there are 2 other missionaries that are in the other half of our ward. They are both from Iquitos and I try to talk with all of them as much as possible. I can't wait until I can say what I want to say, and understand everything. It will make everything so much easier!

The ward here is super good. There were about 200 members that attended sacrament meeting yesterday, so it's a super good ward with super supportive people. Every Saturday they feed us lunch because the pensionista only does Monday-Friday. The area that I'm in is honestly so poor. There is like half of the ward that is in niceish houses, and then the other half that is just a giant block with houses made of plywood and some of them have roofs. We do most of our teaching there. The people that have the least are always the ones who are most receptive. It's good. I like the ward here a lot. It's kind of sad seeing how these people live. Even though our roof in our apartment has a ton of holes in it, I'm grateful that we have a roof.

Proselyting is going good. We have a few investigators and a couple that I think will be baptized for sure. Most of them just have to get married before they can be baptized. We have also been working a lot with less actives, which has been good. Yesterday for church we had multiple investigators attend and multiple people that were less active come. On Friday there was some kind of holiday so teaching was pretty hard. No matter where you went you could hear the music all around the city. It was so loud the entire day. And when the sun went down, the music got louder and louder and everyone kept on getting more and more drunk. We spent most of that day working with recent converts and less actives. We didn't dare go and try to talk to people on the streets. Sunday was the same way. Supposedly every Sunday is like that too which makes proselyting really hard.

Today we went to the city square which was fun. Downtown Piura was fun. We did all of our grocery shopping at Tottus. All the missionaries in the city were there doing shopping. It was fun being able to see some of the kids that I knew in the MTC and being able to talk to people in English. I love being here in Peru, it is great!

At a museum in Piura
Peruvians don't like Chileans - The ships are from each country
Proselyting to a statue
My companion and me
Four people in our apartment
Yeah I'm being careful about what I'm eating. Luckily I haven't gotten sick and my body seems to be handling the food well. The one thing that I buy off of the streets is bread. Almost every day I buy bread from the panaderia. It is super good and super cheap. Definitely one thing I wish they had in the states.

Just as you're starting to cool off from the summer heat, just know that things are just heating up here. Today is still winter and I think it's like 102,028 degrees.

Peru is definitely nothing like I expected it. I love South America though. Life here is so different than in the states. I'm learning a lot. Wish I knew the language though.


Elder Baker