Monday, October 28, 2013

Missionary work is the best! Even when you are hot and sweaty. - 10/28/13

28 Octubre 2013

Once again. Don't even know where to begin. Pretty good week though. Super duper duper hot. I'm kind of just used to that now though. I wake up expecting to sweat the entire day. 

This last week flew by. Tuesday we had our district meeting which was really good. We set a goal to talk to way more people than we have been. Just like they said in conference. If you want to teach more people, you have to talk to more people. Hopefully we still get some new investigators soon that we will be able to start teaching. Lots of people here will listen to what you have to say but have absolutely no desire to change. There are tons of people here that were born Catholic and they're sure gonna die Catholic too. It's okay though. There's lots of people here too that are prepared for the gospel and are ready for the message that we have.

Wednesday morning as Elder Cortes and I were studying in the morning we got a call from the zone leaders saying that we were going to have companion exchanges for the day. So after lunch I got to go to Santa Julia with Elder L. Elder L is super great. He is from Argentina and he's been out for like 23 months. He’s the first missionary from his branch in 10 years. I really liked working with Elder L. One of the things that I really liked about working with him was that even though he's going home in like 3 weeks he's not trunky at all. He wants to make the best of the little time he has left in the field. Even though he's probably not going to be having any more baptisms, he still works hard. He's not here to add another baptism to his list, he's here cause he wants to share the gospel with everyone. It was super good working with him. I feel like I learned a lot. 

Friday was another super good day this week. Friday was my first multi-zone conference. It was sooooooooooo great. The theme of this conference was "What can I do to become a consecrated missionary?" One of the things I loved about it was that President talked about the importance of knowing our purpose. We talked about the Book of Mormon a lot and went over examples in the Book of Mormon of people who knew their purpose. I love the Book of Mormon. We can honestly learn so much from the Book of Mormon. President always talks about how we need to read the Book of Mormon every day and look for things that apply to our investigators. It was a super good conference. One of the missionaries that had to give a talk, talked about how there is good in every day and how we need to find the good. In the mission there are hard and challenging things every single day. But there are also things that are super great about every day. We have to find the good in every day and not dwell on the hard or trying things. 

Saturday went super well. It was one of the days where you are walking all day long, teaching a ton of people, talking to a ton of people, and getting rejected a lot. One of the reasons that I felt like it was a great day was because it was one of the days that makes you feel confident in the language. It's days like that that really make me think about how much I've learned in the past 3 months. It's days like that that encourage me and make me believe that I can learn this language. I know I will. I just have to keep practicing and studying. The gift of tongues is real.

Sunday was a great day. They always are. One of the coolest parts of Sunday was that I got to help with the confirmation of Anthony. It was a super cool experience. He is super excited and happy about being a member of the church. After sacrament meeting he had a meeting with the Bishop and received a calling. That night we went over to his house and when we got there he was reading his scriptures. There is no way on earth that he would have been doing that 2 months ago. He really has received a testimony!

And I got the flash drive this last week with all of the music on it! That was amazing to get! I love music! Music can bring the spirit and help calm you down like almost nothing else can. Music is powerful! 

Today for p-day I went and got my hair cut and then went to Tottus. This afternoon we're going to play soccer with some other missionaries and a couple of future missionaries. It should be really fun in the million degree weather! Haha. Soccer is really fun. It's literally the main thing here that people do to have fun. Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer Soccer.

It’s crazy how fast time flies by on the mission. Lauren will be at halfway this year in 2013. It honestly seems like she left a month or two ago. I've been in Piura for 2 months now and it only feels like 3 weeks maybe. Lauren, you’re right, there is no way that I can pay Him back for all the blessings I'm receiving. We can't pay Him back. But that's not going to stop us from trying! Missionary work is the best! Even when you are hot and sweaty. It's the best. Keep working hard. Love you!

Readin the Revista`
Fav place in the cuarto
Honestly so tired and ready for bed every day at 10:30 pm

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

First Baptism! - 10/21/13

 21 Octubre 2013
First off. Of course the Red Sox make it to the World Series as soon as I leave on my mission. They will probably win this year and the next year while I'm still gone and then never win again the rest of my life. It's okay though. As much as it is killing me to know that I'm not going to be able to watch the World Series with the Red Sox, I would much rather be here. Being a missionary is the best. I love being able to focus on the gospel every single day. My testimony has grown sooooooo much in the 3 months I have been out here. I wouldn't trade this opportunity for 100 World Series titles.

This was such a great week. Such a blur too. Time flies by so quickly here it is hard to keep all the days straight. Thank goodness for my journal. It's kind of fun reading a page or two at night before I go to bed and seeing how much I have changed since the CCM. I love this place so much. When I first arrived I never thought I would learn to love Piura as much as I do right now. It really feels like home. And I'm definitely growing to love rice. When I first arrived I wondered how people could eat that much rice. Now I eat all of my rice and want more! Rice is sooo good! The people here all know how to cook. Every single day we get rice cooked a different way by our pensionista. No matter how it is cooked. It is always amazing!

One cool thing that happened this week was on Tuesdayl You'll never believe this but it was cold on Tuesday! I broke out my sweater that I figure I'll use 3 times on my mission. It was because it was raining almost the entire night and morning! Tuesday morning we walked to the stake center for district meeting in the rain! That was pretty fun. I figure that it is something that I'm not going to be able to experience very much on my mission. Because pretty much every other day is just sun. Strictly the blue sky and sun. There are hardly ever any clouds here. 

Looking out our balcony on a cold rainy day in Piura
First cold day in Piura

The rest of the week did not stay cold though. The entire rest of the week was HOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT. I don't think I have ever sweat so much in my life. And I just have to smile because every day is going to be the same way now that it is getting close to summer! Luckily right now it still cools off at night. I don't know if I'm going to be that lucky in the summer though. 

The best part of the week was definitely this weekend with our baptism! We checked up with him multiple times throughout the week to make sure that he was still ready and excited for his baptism! Saturday night he had his baptismal interview with the zone leaders. During the interview my companion and I talked to the bishop and found out that his key to the baptismal font had broken and that there wasn't anyone that had keys. So my companion and I spent 30 minutes trying to break into the baptismal font. Finally I was able to get the lock to open with a pair of scissors. I still don't even know how it worked. I didn't even break it! 

His baptism was Sunday after church! The young single adults in the ward all came and were super supportive of him and the decision he was making to be baptized. I think it meant a lot to him that there are people that came to support him who are going to be his friends as he becomes a member of the church. The whole week I had been worried that either I was going to mess up with the words in Spanish, or that he wouldn't go all the way under that water and we would have to redo it. Luckily it went super smoothly! First try! It was such a cool experience!  A day that I had been dreaming about since I was a little kid. The day I would get to baptize one of my investigators on my mission! 

Sunday morning before the baptism I was starting to become full of doubts. Wondering if he was really ready for baptism or if we were just pushing him to be baptized. I said a prayer asking for an answer. The spirit never fails you. Pretty soon I was filled with calm thoughts and I knew that he was ready for the baptism. After the baptism he had the opportunity to share his testimony to all those who came to his baptism. As cool as the actual baptism was, that was the spiritual highlight for me. He bore his testimony about how he knew the church was true and that he had to "seguir adelante" [go ahead]. That was so cool for me--to see how far he has come. He was nowhere close to being ready for baptism when we started teaching him. But over the last 2 months he has gained a testimony of the church. It is so cool seeing how the gospel can influence someone in their life.

I love personal prayer. It is so important as a missionary. I spend a lot of time praying. Every time I pray, my testimony is strengthened of prayer. I know that it is real and that we have a Heavenly Father who answers our prayers.

I'm so grateful to be a member of "La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días". I know that the church is true!

Love you all! Thanks for everything!

Elder Baker

P.S. You asked whether we had hot water in our shower .... hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha I don't think it exists here in Piura. Here there are two temperatures of water. Ice and Hielo [Ice]. haha. 

Guess what? My Johnston & Murphy shoes are splitting apart from the sole already
--it's only been three months. We do LOTS of walking.

Guess What? Our Bathroom Works! - 10/14/13

My group when I arrived in the Piura Mission

My last photo with the other companionship in our apartment

Me with an elder from my district at the CCM

My first district in the field

Los cuatro de nuestro cuarto

Guess what? Our bathroom works! Not even joking. Our bathroom works! It's a miracle! I haven't had to use the plunger in like 8 days! You have no idea how much better you feel about going to the bathroom when you don't have to stress if it's gonna work when you flush it or not! hahaha but for real.

It has been a great week here in Piura. The weather is continuing to heat up and the mosquitos are getting thicker and thicker. And I am understanding more and more and I am growing to love Piura more and more. It's starting to feel like home. I'm starting to know my way around the city. I really do love it here.

On Tuesday this past week we went to meet with our investigator and talk about Conference. Before, we decided that we were going to bear our testimonies and then challenge him to be baptized. We went to his house and had a pretty good lesson with him about the ordinance of baptism and then bore our testimonies and challenged him to be baptized and guess what!? He accepted the invitation! He is planning on being baptized this coming Sunday right after our meetings! We are going to have it on Sunday so that many of the members will stay for it. Especially the ones his age so he can meet some of the people in the ward that he can be friends with. As President Hinckley said, every member needs a friend in church. We're going to talk to a lot of the people his age this week and personally invite them to the baptism! I'm so excited! It's so cool to see how far he's come from when I arrived. When I arrived he really didn't even have a testimony at all. It's so cool to see how he has been able feel of the Spirit's influence in his life as he is now preparing for baptism!

This week the other companionship in our apartment left. It was pretty sad when they left. We had all grown to be good friends. Our apartment is super quiet. It's weird walking into their room now and having it be completely empty! It's kind of nice though because now we have a ton more room for our stuff and have 2 refrigerators and 2 microwaves to use for this transfer. This week we spent almost an entire day getting to know their area, their investigators, and the members in their area. Their area is huge! Every time I'm there I feel super lost. I'm sure it will get better as I familiarize myself more with it. We were walking our first night there and we came to this lake. We have a lake in our ward boundaries. Whodda thunk that we had a lake in our ward. I sure didn't know that before! It's kind of nice having new people to talk to, and new doors to knock on. Even though we have to walk a ton I really think that it is going to be a great change.

Saturday night was some kind of holiday for kids. I think it is called Dia del niños. I thought about how McKay always talked about how there is a Mothers day and a Fathers day and how there should be a children's day. McKay, you should move to Piura. They have a day for that here! The whole day there were parties everywhere with little 6 to 12 year old kids running around screaming and music pounding. Saturday night we were walking back to our room and the music kept on getting louder and louder and louder and louder and when we finally turned onto our street we saw that there was this giant party in our street right underneath our room. There were probably like 200 people there. Little kids, teenagers, adults, EVERYONE! There were even porta-potties! This party was huge! At like 9:30 pm all of the little kids started to leave, but the adults didn't leave. They just brought out the crates of alcohol and started drinking and dancing. I was lying in bed thinking about how there was no way I was going to be able to sleep with the music pounding and then finally I heard the rain start. First time it has rained while I've been here. It had kind of sprinkled for a little bit on another day but it wasn't really rain. This was really rain. It started down pouring. I was so happy! Within about 15 minutes they had to turn off the music and everyone left to go home! It was a pretty cool little thunderstorm!

Sunday. One of the scariest things of the mission so far. My companion and I show up to sacrament meeting and we're sitting there and the bishop's messenger runs up to us. "Hey do you guys have talks you can give?" My companion nods like it's no big deal. I'm sitting there thinking to myself. "I don't know about him but I sure don't have a talk in my backpack that I can get up and read!?!?!?!" I was pretty scared. I quickly said a prayer asking for the gift of tongues and hurried and tried to think of what I was going to give a talk on in a language that I don't know. I figured that since I am a missionary and since we talk about the Book of Mormon all the time that that would probably be the easiest thing to talk about. When I got up there I just started to talk and amazingly, I was able to talk for about 5 minutes about the Book of Mormon in Spanish. Looking back on it, I honestly don't know how I did it. It was a super good faith building experience for me. I know that the spirit helped me through my talk. You always hear the scripture about opening your mouth and how the spirit will fill it with the words to say. It's true. Turns out I just had to try it to figure out that it's real. And, our investigator came to sacrament meeting! Without us passing by his house to bring him with us!

I sing my heart out in sacrament meeting because I figure that if I'm a horrible singer it's okay, because I fit in with every other tone deaf person in our ward! Haha. You would cringe in sacrament meeting during the hymns. They sing them a cappella and sometimes they sing a hymn and I laugh because that's not really how the hymn goes. Haha I love it here!

I'm so grateful to be a missionary here in this area. This ward is great. The members here in Perú truly are special. I love it here. I know the Book of Mormon is true. In Spanish and English. I know that this church is true and there is nothing I would rather be doing than helping others come to a knowledge of the Restored Gospel.

Love you guys! Thanks for everything!

Elder Baker!

Friday, October 11, 2013

General Conference was amazing! - 10/7/13

7 Octubre 2013

Once again. I don't even know where to start. Seriously. Every time I get here there is so much going through my mind that I can't even think straight.

So much happened this week. And this week was infinitely better than the last week. My Spanish is improving and I am able to understand people more and teach more of the lessons. I am so excited to see how much improved I am in another transfer. Crazy, right? I have finished my first transfer in the mission field. It honestly feels like of the 12 weeks I have been out 10 of them were in the MTC and 2 of them were in the field. Time flies by out here! It is pretty crazy! 

So this past week we had our last zone meeting of this transfer. The area of Piura that we are in is very difficult. There aren´t many baptisms. In our whole zone there were only 2 baptisms in the month of September. We talked about how we can improve those numbers in the next transfer. Our zone is off to a good start because we already have as many in October as we had in all of the month of September. We´re ready to work hard and do what needs to be done.

Wednesday was one of the best days of the mission so far! Mainly because I just got to see all of my friends from the MTC! It was so nice to see everyone! After 5 weeks they always have a training with the new group and with their trainers. It was so fun to hear everyone´s stories about what has happened so far in their missions! It was cool because we were able to communicate with each other in Spanish! Super broken Spanish, but it was Spanish. That's something that we could never have done 5 weeks ago when we entered the field. The meeting was on planning and how important it is to make planning a huge priority. In the 30 minutes that you plan every night you pretty much determine what is going to get accomplished in the next day. It was super good. It was at the perfect time. Elder Cortes and I made a lot of new goals on how we are going to plan better starting this transfer. We are really going to try to follow the spirit and not just go through the motions every night so we can go to bed because we are exhausted. It was so cool how the meeting was in Spanish and I could actually understand what they were trying to teach us. It reminded me of my first day in the field when we were sitting in the same room and I was sitting there hoping that nothing important was being said cause I had no clue what they were saying. It was super good.

Saturday, after the afternoon session the assistants came up to Elder Cortes, Elder Aquino, Elder Levi, and me and gave us some pretty big news—they´re closing the area of Elder Aquino and Elder Levi for this next transfer. There are a lot of missionaries going home today and not enough coming in to cover it all. So for this next transfer Elder Cortes and I are going to have responsibility for the entire ward. That's pretty significant. It's a good thing that I have 2 good feet that can walk because I'm going to be doing a whole lot of it. Our area now is ginormous! Honestly it takes about 45 minutes to walk from one side of the ward to the other. Our ward boundaries here are bigger than our stake boundaries at home. It's super sad thinking about how this is my last day with Elder Aquino and Elder Levi here in Lopez Albujar. They have honestly become some of my best friends. The four of us in our apartment get along so well. It's not going to be the same without them, but they are obviously needed somewhere else. They will be sent wherever they are needed to help build the Kingdom of God. Elder Cortes and I are okay with the change too. We understand that it's going to be really difficult, but instead of letting it get to us we are letting it motivate us to get out and work even harder than we have before. I'm so excited to start this new transfer and work hard. There is no where I would rather be and nothing that I would rather be doing than being here in the mission field serving the Lord.

General Conference. General Conference was amazing! It always is. I love how whatever your situation in life, conference is always specifically directed at you. It turns out that this conference for me was about missionary work and hastening the work. Every talk was amazing. I was so glad that I was able to watch it in English. They had one room in the stake center for all of the gringo missionaries. There were like 8 of us in the room together. There were 3 of them in the room that actually finished their missions today and are on the way to their houses right now. They said that even though they could understand everything that would be said in Spanish they wanted to watch it in English because they wanted to hear the voice of the Prophet and the Apostles. I think that is so true. I'm so glad that I know all of the voices of the Prophet and Apostles. I love conference and the opportunity to come and hear a prophet´s voice. The things in this general conference were definitely inspired for our time. I'm so grateful for everything that I learned from this general conference. It makes me so excited for when we will get the Liahona and I will get to read through their talks once more.

Another cool thing about this general conference was with one of our investigators. He has been meeting with the missionaries for a long time and pretty much understands everything we are trying to teach him in the lessons but he has some doubts. He had said that he had doubts as to whether President Monson really is a prophet of God. Elder Cortes and I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity to invite him to come to conference and hear President Monson speak at the Priesthood session and pray to know whether or not he was a prophet of God. We went to his house Saturday night to pick him up and bring him with us to Conference. He kind of hesitantly came with us. After the session he had a smile on his face and I think he was able to feel of the spirit. I was super happy that night. Elder Cortes and I have been specifically praying for him a lot. We were glad to see that the spirit was able to testify to him. But the really cool thing happened on Sunday. We hadn't even invited him to come but he came to the morning session on Sunday morning too! Without us even asking him to come! I'm so excited for this week to have another lesson with him. I'm really hoping and praying that he will come to know that the church is true and have a desire to be baptized!

This morning for P-day we went and played soccer with all of the friends that we have made in the ward. Today is a holiday and so none of the young men had classes and were able to come play with us at the Church. I absolutely love the ward here. Everyone is amazing. It was kind of sad when Elder Levi and Elder Aquino had to say good bye to everyone here. Today was a great P-day. I'm so excited for this next week. I'm ready to go out and work hard.

I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that I am a child of God. I have a loving Heavenly Father and a Savior and Redeemer that atoned for our sins so that we can overcome death and receive eternal life. I know that this church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is scripture that was written for our day. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to read the Book of Mormon every day. Every time I read it my testimony is strengthened. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God that helped restore the gospel to the earth in this dispensation. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary and go and share the gospel with others.

Thanks for all of the Love and Support! Love you all! So much!

Elder Baker

P.S. I love that quote about The Standard of Truth! I actually listened to that this morning on a CD of church songs that Elder Aquino has! Crazy timing right!

Lauren, Sounds like you had a great week. I'm jealous that you get to watch conference this weekend. I want to watch it again. It's so good! And I'm definitely jealous of the gym. I miss working hard and sweating. Sounds crazy but it's for real. I know that there is no one that is going to read this that will believe me, but I'm gaining weight. I've probably gained 10 pounds here. No joke. Everyone here feeds us. It's impossible to say no! Keep working hard! I pray for you every day! Love you!

I'm so Grateful for Temples - 9/30/13

30 September 2013

I don't even know where to begin. I swear every time I get here to email, my mind goes blank because its 2,000,000,000 degrees and I can't think! We go to this little house that has a bunch of computers to email every week. It's only like 1 sol for an hour so it's pretty good. Except that there is no AC. There is no AC here, no AC in our room, no AC in members’ houses, no AC in investigators houses, and definitely no AC in the streets. It is so so so so so so hot. And I love it.

This last week was really difficult as far as missionary work goes. It seems like the whole week, every one of our investigators wasn't home when we went to visit them, or the investigator had tons of questions and doubts, or something. But I honestly feel like it was a good week for me personally. It made me really grateful that the people are usually so accepting. There are lots of areas that I could be serving where it could be like that every day, all year long. There was a ton going on this week. Monday was P-day. Tuesday morning was "Morning with the Missionaries" for the priest-aged youth in the ward, Wednesday was district meeting, Thursday was interviews with president for our zone in the mission office, and Friday my companion had to go to the doctor the dermatologist. It made it kind of hard to reach some of our investigators that are only able to meet with us in the mornings. Hopefully this week will be a little bit smoother.

One crazy thing that happened this week was Thursday night. It gets dark here at like 7 every night. On Friday night we were talking with one of our investigators and the power went out. It was only like 7:30, but it made it kind of hard to teach the rest of the night. It was kind of dangerous too. We went over to the house of a family that was baptized within the last year and kind of just talked to them for a while because we didn't want to be out on the streets. Their 14 year old son, and a member of the ward went out to buy bread at the panaderia, and they were gone for a while. They finally came back and told us that they had been robbed and didn't have their phones anymore. It was completely dark and two people just jumped out of a moto taxi and put them in a head lock. They said that it probably wasn't a great idea to be walking around with their phones out, because supposedly, cell phones are super sought after things here. We have a cell phone but we leave it in the apartment all day. It was pretty fun getting ready for bed that night with no light. I was so grateful that dad made me pack that little flashlight. It would have been impossible without it!

Saturday we had a lesson with one of our investigators and her husband. They have been having a lot of problems with their marriage lately and as of earlier this week, they were living separately. We were able to have a lesson with both of them and talk about the plan of salvation and the importance of eternal families and the role that they have to care for their little 2 year old daughter. It was a super good lesson. They both seemed super receptive to it. I'm really hoping that they will be willing to make the necessary changes and forgive one another. I don't know, but I really think that mother may end up being baptized! This week we´re hoping to have some good lessons with them!

Sunday was kind of frustrating. We had like 5 investigators that said that they were going to try to come to church on Sunday, and only 1 of them showed up. And the one that did show up can't even be baptized until February, because she has to be married and she is working on getting the papers necessary for marriage. People have their agency, and we can't make them choose what we know is right. I really wish that they knew what they were missing out on though!

On Saturday, the ward returned from the temple trip to Lima. They took a bus with like 100 people to Lima to visit the temple. Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting and it was so cool to see all of them bear their testimonies. Families were able to be sealed, a member that is the single member in his family who was able to receive his Endowments before he leaves on his mission to Paraguay next month, and youth that were able to do baptisms for the dead. It was so cool to see how much their testimonies had grown in one week. It made me so grateful that we live so close to so many temples. We live 15 minutes from the temple and these people live 15 hours from the nearest temple. They are so excited for the new temple in Trujillo to be completed in 2015. I'm so grateful for temples. They really are the house of the Lord. The spirit is always so strong inside the temples!

Today Elder Cortes, Elder Aquino, Elder Levi, and I went to Catacaos to shop and get a few souvenirs. I bought a little shoulder bag that I can take a few things in when I don't want to take my backpack. Catacoas was so cool. I love being able to see different parts of Peru. There was this GIANT Catholic church there that was pretty cool. Everyone here says that they are Catholic whether they are practicing or not. Every taxi has a cross hanging from the mirror and every house has a sticker that says "Please bless this Catholic home". It's so much different living here than it is in the states. I love experiencing this culture though. Today we rode this little van back from Catacaos and I sat next to this catholic nun. That was definitely a first! haha. I love it here in Piura.

View from the balcony of our room before Church

Catacaos Peru! Pretty cool place!

With my new shoulder bag in Catacaos

Catholic Church in Catacaos

Me, my trainer and his trainer shopping today in Tottus
In the Combi
I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have right now to be a missionary! I can't wait to hear from the prophet and the apostles this next week. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I am so grateful to be able to say that I know my Savior lives, and that He loves us, and that He suffered for our sins. I know that thanks to The Atonement we can live with our Heavenly Father and our families for eternity! I know that this church is true!

Thanks for all of the love and Support! Love you tons!

Love, Elder Baker

P.S. It can be kind of sketchy eating with the members, but the food they always serve us is super good. There hasn't been anything yet that I have had to gag down. And I'm not sure about how I'm going to be able to watch conference. Hopefully I will be able to watch it in English! And yeah, we have a sink. It is outside of our bedroom though. The fridge and stove thingy are inside our bedroom.

Not gonna lie, I could really enjoy some weather that calls for sweats and a hoodie right now. Thanks for the message of hope. I love that the Gospel is a message of Hope. There is always something to smile about with the gospel.

Lauren, Sounds like things are going well with your new companion! That's funny that she has been reading your blog! I'm so jealous about the Koala bears! They're so cute! The only animals I see here are dogs without any hair. And I see like 51,683,543,843,421,698,469 every day. Keep working hard! I pray for you every day! Love you and thanks for your great example! Crazy to think that you have less than a year left in Australia! You better make it count! haha. Love you!