Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This week has been super hot. All day long. 24 hours a day. - 1/20/14

Can you believe it? 6 months in the mission. Crazy right??? There is no way that 6 months have already passed by! COMPLETELY INSANE! The good news is that I still have 18 more glorious months of being a missionary!

This last week was a super difficult week as far as missionary work goes for Elder G and me. First off. This week has been super hot. All day long. 24 hours a day. It's hot when we wake up, it's hot when we leave our room, it's hot when we return and it's hot when we go to bed. There is no stopping with this heat. Every day we have to pass by the beach to get to one part of our area and we see thousands of people swimming in the ocean. That would be so nice. There definitely isn't any swimming for us here in Paita. Just walking in the hot sun. And when I buy popsicles, I make sure that my companion buys them. Because they cost twice as much for gringos.

Honestly the missionary work is super hard here in Paita Baja. The lower part of Paita, where I am, is where all of the native people from Paita live. The upper part is all the people that have come to live in Paita. The Paita people here in the lower part are super duper duper duper duper duper duper Catholic. You'd think I'm in Italy, there are so many Catholics. I can't tell you how many people we talked to the past week that said "I'm Catholic and I'm going to die Catholic. I'm really not interested in anything that you have to say." jaja. For real. When that happens, Elder Gonzalez and I usually just walk away and look at each other and laugh. I've decided that you just have to keep a good attitude about the work. Keep on working hard.

Probably the spiritual highlight of this last week was definitely on Wednesday when we had a multi-zone conference in Piura. That was pretty great. Wednesday morning we had to wake up early and travel to Piura. We had to clean the church before the conference. There were some pretty cool looking cockroaches running around that we got rid of. jajajajajaja. I honestly hate cockroaches. I have only seen 1 in Paita though! That's a great thing! The conference ended up starting at about 9 am and went until 3:30 pm. It was such a great conference. Pretty much the whole thing was about the Holy Ghost and the role that the Holy Ghost plays in our lives as members of the church and as missionaries. Honestly the Holy Ghost is huge. Without the Holy Ghost, you are not going to have success as a missionary. It's as simple as that. We need the Holy Ghost every single day. In everything we do. As we study, as we leave, as we teach, as we plan. We are always in need of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. In the conference we talked about how we can recognize the presence of the Holy Ghost more often. I love the part of Preach My Gospel that says that we need to listen to the Holy Ghost. If we get caught up in the worldly things, we are not going to be able to hear the promptings that it gives us. We have to be attentive to the spirit at all times! Overall, it was a super great conference. After the conference we ended up coming back to Paita and got back at about 6 pm. As much fun as it was being in Piura. I like being in Paita! It feels like home for me right now!
My zone at the multi-zone conference

Apart from the fact that the work is super hard here in Puerto Paita right now, my companion and I have been blessed with 2 families that are progressing. It is such a blessing for me to be able to teach and help these 2 families. 

The first one is the family of a mother of 5 children. Her husband is a fisherman and is gone for a week and home for a few days then gone for a week and home for a few days again. That's the schedule of fishermen. Some are gone for even longer than a week though! It can be pretty hard. Emilia though, is a super great investigator. She really has true desires to know the truth. The thing I love most about teaching her is that she keeps her commitments. If she says she is going to read, she actually reads. If she says she will pray, she will actually pray. You don´t have to plead with her to keep her commitments. The Relief Society has been working with us to really help her feel invited at the church. I'm so grateful for the members and their help. Members honestly don´t realize how much we as missionaries need their testimonies, their friendship, their support for these people that are making a huge transition in their lives! The only problem with her is that she is not married to her spouse, but luckily she is in the process of getting everything ready that she needs! Yesterday she and her 5 kids showed up to church like 5 minutes before it started! It was so great! I love it when your investigators come to church!

The other family that we are teaching is the the family that contacted us and wanted us to come and teach them. The father is the boss of a huge fishing company here in Paita. In church he was given a Principles of the Gospel book and he has read over half of it so far. He and his family are great. He loves everything he has seen about the church so far and he really wants to learn more. He has a super Catholic background but he says that he is willing to change everything if he receives an answer that our church is true! I'm super excited to teach them this week! Hopefully this week we will be able to help them commit to a specific date to be baptized! 

Other than that, we really don´t have many investigators that we are teaching. We are teaching a lot of less active members though! And I honestly love working with some of these less active members. They have a testimony. We just have to help them re-find it!

This week in Paita is the start of Carnavales. That means for the next two months there is music pounding in the streets, and that everyone soaks everyone that passes by with giant buckets of water and paint. The people here say that the people respect the missionaries though! I sure hope so! I sure don't want people throwing paint all over me! 

I'm so grateful to be here in the mission! This really is such a blessing in my life! Thanks for all of the love and support that you give me! I know I am where I am supposed to be, doing the things I am supposed to be doing, and experiencing the things I need to experience. The mission is the hardest thing I have ever done. But it is so worth it! I know that this church is true! I know that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father. And I know that we have a Savior and Redeemer who died for us! Love you guys!

Elder Baker

Lauren, HOLY HOT! AND I GOT YOUR PACKAGE FOR CHRISTMAS THIS WEEK FROM AUSTRALIA! Thanks so much for the tie! It's so cool! It has kangaroos, and boomerangs, and some other stuff that probably has significance to Australia that I don't know about! Love you! Keep working hard!

My Christmas package from Lauren finally arrived!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

We ate eel for lunch (and squid, octopus and lobster too!) - 1/13/14

Wowzers. Another week down. Crazy to think that this week I will hit the six month mark. I think I was in a coma for like 4 months, because I definitely don't remember 6 months passing by. Time passes by so fast. This last week my companion got his travel plans for the end of this transfer when he finishes his mission. It really made me start to think. That day is going to be here for me before I know it. I was thinking a ton about how important it is to make the best of every single moment I have. I am never going to have an experience quite like this ever again in my life. I am going to serve with no regrets!

This last week was a little bit hard, but it was a good week. I told you guys about the little earthquake that was here last Monday. Supposedly it was 4.5 on the Richter scale. I have no clue what that means though. Or if it was strong or not. All I know is that it woke me up from my nap last p-day! Pretty cool!

I'm not really sure why, but on Wednesday morning I woke up and was feeling super duper homesick. Pretty weird for me. Something that doesn't usually happen. So for my personal study I decided to look for motivational scriptures. And boy are there lots of them! It was a morning that strengthened my testimony of the scriptures. There is a reason that we have been commanded to read the scriptures every single day. Especially the Book of Mormon. I have no doubt that the scriptures are true. Every time I read them I am filled with feelings of peace and happiness! After study time, the feelings of homesickness had passed. I think the best way to combat homesickness is just to get up and do something! I don´t think missing your home is a bad thing, but you can't let it interfere with the work that we are doing here in the mission field. I honestly am so grateful to be here in Peru. There really isn't anywhere I would rather be!

My Christmas package finally arrived!
Thursday was practically Christmas. Mainly just because I finally received my Christmas package! After the zone conference! The zone conference was super duper duper great. We talked about the importance of helping our investigators make and keep commitments. If the investigator doesn't act on what we are teaching, they aren't going to be able to gain a testimony. We learned a lot about how we can help them keep their commitments. We also had a practice with another set of missionaries. Honestly I don't really like practices. I feel super stupid practicing. I'm one of the people that just like to do it for real. I realize the importance of these practices though. I like making mistakes in practices. I'm the missionary who I am today because of the mistakes I have made. Every time I make a mistake I think about how I should have done it differently and make sure that next time I will be able to do it even better.

After the zone conference we went and ate lunch at our Pensionista´s house. We ate eel for lunch. Yep eel. Pretty cool, huh? It's kind of weird. It's the texture of bubble gum. But it actually tastes pretty good! And it turns out that that was only the beginning of trying new foods for the week! After lunch we went back to our apartment and I opened my Christmas package! I absolutely love the Red Sox Shirt and BYU shirt. Every time I look at the Red Sox shirt I smile. And the candy was the best too. You guys know me that's for sure. Kit Kats and Peanut Butter M&Ms. I ate the entire bag of Kit Kats in like 24 hours with my companion. Pretty great! I think I'll save the M&Ms for a different week though. When I'm feelin' a little bit down! Cause it's impossible to eat those without a smile on your face!

Friday was another day of different stuff for lunch. We went to our pensionista's house and she brings out the plates with our food. Calamar y pulpo. Squid and Octopus. Pretty cool huh????? Who would have thought that I would get to eat that on my mission! It wasn't the best thing ever, but it wasn't bad at all. Super glad that I was able to try it! I am not sure why, if it was that lunch or something else, but my companion was super sick that night. I felt fine. It's kind of boring when you're in your room though with nothing to do. I ended up reading for a few hours while my companion was in the bathroom. 

Saturday morning he was still sick. He started to feel a little better by about lunchtime. I had another great study time Saturday morning. We have multi-zone conferences this next week and so we were told to study chapter 4 in Preach My Gospel. I love chapter 4. The entire chapter is about the role of the Holy Ghost in missionary work. Honestly the spirit is crucial. We need the spirit in everything we do if we want to have success as missionaries. Elder G and I talked a lot about the difference when we teach by the spirit and when we teach by our own knowledge. As missionaries, we're not here to try to use pretty words and convince people of what we are saying. We are here to help people gain a testimony of the gospel with the help of the Holy Ghost. I loved studying this morning. But then again, I always love studying. One of the best times of the day for sure! For lunch we had another thing I had never tried before. Lobster! Lobster is super duper duper good! This week was a week of seafood. Almost every single day. And it was actually pretty cool! 

Our Lobster lunch!
Sunday I had one of the coolest experiences of my mission! Sunday went really well. At 8 we went and reported numbers for the week and then went back to our room and cooked dinner. Our room is on the third story. I was standing on the balcony right outside our room and was looking at the street below us. Turns out that there is a gringo that lives right next door to us. He came out of his room to do the same thing. I started to talk to him and it turns out that he is from Germany. He has been living here since September working and learning Spanish. He actually lived in the US as a foreign exchange student for a year when he was 18. Right now he is 24. I ended up talking to him for about 2 hours. In Spanish and English. He was super interested in what we were doing here as missionaries. I was able to talk to him a lot about our church and he was super interested. I was able to give him a Book of Mormon in English and in Spanish and he wants to read it and learn more about our church. He wants us to visit him some more and wants to come to church with us this Sunday. That was a super cool experience. He will be going back to Germany in a couple of months. Who knows, maybe he will be able to find some missionaries in Germany! It was honestly such a cool experience. Who would have thought that I would get to share the gospel and give a Book of Mormon to a German guy, in English, while living in Peru. So cool!

Overall it was a great week! Thanks for all of the love and support that you guys show me. I have no doubt that this church is true! Love you guys! Thanks for everything! 

Elder Baker

Lauren. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! FELIZ CUMPLEAƑOS! 21. Crazy how old you are. I'm only 18. Still a young'un. SUPER DEF TOTES JEALOUS OF YOUR KANGAROO PETTING! THE ONLY THING I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PET HERE IS A DEAD LOBSTER! love you! Hope you have a great week! Thanks for being such a great example! Love you!

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014! - 1/6/14

Can you believe it's already 2014? Where did the past year go. One of the fastest years of my life. So much happened in 2013. It really was a great year. But I can´t wait for what 2014 has in store. I have no doubt that this year can be even better than the last!

This last week was a great week here in Puerto Paita. It was the first week here for Elder Gonzalez. This is his last transfer in the field, but fortunately, he is super excited and wants to work until his last day in the field. Which is honestly all I could ask for in a companion. He is super funny. I love working with him. He is from Mexico and people from Mexico speak so much differently than Peruvians. It was kind of hard to understand him at first. It is still really hard for me, but it's getting so much better! 
Standing on the pier.
 Tuesday was New Year's Eve. People celebrate New Year's Eve here with fireworks and by burning life-size dummies. On Tuesday almost every house had their dummy sitting on their porch ready for that night. At midnight they light them all on fire. I don´t really quite understand it, but that's what they do. I wish I would have taken some pictures of all the dummies. Some of them were pretty funny! We celebrated pretty hard on New Year's Eve. We went to sleep at 10:30. We got up at 11:45 though and went up to the roof of our apartment, watched all the fireworks and took some pictures wearing our 2014 glasses that we bought for 50 centimos. They have tons of fireworks here--it's ridiculous! SOOOOOOOOOOOO many fireworks. It would be impossible to sleep through everything! It was so dang loud!

This week Elder Gonzalez and I spent a lot of time visiting members so that he could get to know them. The members here are pretty good. There aren´t too many of them though. But the ones that are here are super strong faithful members! It has been great getting to know and work with the members here in Paita! Honestly in every area, you learn to love the members! Members of the church are great! Peruvian members of church are AMAZING! :) 

I read Lauren's letter right before I started writing this and it made me laugh, because Elder Gonzalez and I are doing almost the exact same thing here. Trying to build a teaching pool. We really don't have many investigators here right now and it is honestly super hard to find people to teach. We studied a lot in chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel and looked for ways we could find more people to teach. One of the things I like most is that it says that the Lord will place people who are prepared to hear the message of the gospel in your path. This whole week I was praying, for the guidance of the spirit, to help me find and recognize those who were ready to hear this message. 

This week we were able to find about 5 new investigators. One of the coolest experiences happened on Friday though. It was definitely an answer to our prayers. 

On Friday afternoon we were walking along this street and we saw this guy. We kept on walking down the street and as we got closer to him we said hello and asked how he was doing. He looked at us and he said, "I want to talk to you guys with my son. Can you guys return later this night?" We told him that that would be no problem. That was a pretty unusual experience. Usually we have to plead and beg to be allowed in people's houses here in Paita. We returned that night at about 7 and met him and his son. His son is 24 years old and has a problem with alcohol but he really wants to change. The father really cares for his son and really wants him to be able to change. We were able to talk with them for a while about how this gospel blesses all those who accept it. We also talked a lot about the fact that we have a loving Savior who died for our sins and thanks to His sacrifice for us, we can change. Before we were able to invite them to church they asked if they could attend with us this Sunday. 

Sunday morning they showed up at the church at 9:00 and stayed for Sacrament Meeting and for the second hour for a class for investigators and recent converts. That evening we went and visited them in their house along with his wife and his other son. We taught the Restoration and they were super receptive to it. They kept on talking about how much they like what they have seen about our church. They say that they like the Catholic church but they feel like there is something missing. I am so grateful for the opportunity that we have right now to teach this family. I know that Heavenly Father answered our prayers and placed these people in our path. I know that this is the Lord's work. There is nothing I would rather be doing right now than helping to share the message of this gospel! 

Honestly, 2013 was a great year. And 2014 is going to be even better! Thanks for all of the love and support that you guys show me! There is not a doubt in my mind that the church is true! 

Elder Baker
Our district at the beach today for zone activity.


OH! I Forgot to tell you! Today there was a tiny earthquake in Paita! It woke me up from my nap. PRETTY CRAZY, N0?!!!!! It was a little shaking. I thought it was Elder Gonzalez shaking the bed at first, but everything in the room was shaking and he was in the bathroom! Crazy! 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Almost 2014, but not quite...

Monday, 30 December 2013 

I can hardly believe that my first Christmas has already passed by in the mission. It seems like just yesterday that it was July and I was getting packed to go to the MTC. Honestly so much has happened since that day. I'm so grateful for the decision to come on a mission. The mission really is so cool. It is something that I will never regret. This last week passed by really fast. Christmas in the mission field is something that I will never ever forget. 

Tuesday was our mission Christmas conference in Piura. We had to be in Piura at like 10 in the morning. The devotional was about an hour and a half and it was really cool. After the devotional we went and every zone had a sketch that they did and then we ate lunch—chicken, french fries, and Inca Kola. Pretty great lunch if you ask me. After lunch we watched The Polar Express with President Rowley. I absolutely love that movie. It wasn't quite the same though in Spanish. The voice of the conductor was just not the same. It was super fun watching that though. First movie I've seen in five months! After the conference we headed back to Paita. We went to go visit some members and to wish some people a merry Christmas. After that we went and ate our Christmas dinner with our pensionista. Everyone here celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve. They have their turkey for dinner and then they all stay up until midnight to celebrate Christmas. It was pretty fun eating dinner with our pensionista. She's the best. We had to be back at our apartment at 10 pm but it really was a pretty fun night. 
Merry Christmas from zona Paita!

We spent Christmas morning with our district playing some games and listening to some Christmas music. The best Christmas present I could have received, I got on Christmas day—a big fruit cake. Just kidding. But the best present ever was talking on skype. It was crazy when McKay showed me some snow. Snow is something that I definitely haven't touched in a while. There is none to be found here. The people here really don't celebrate at all Christmas day. They just go on and live their lives in a normal way on Christmas day.

The rest of this week was pretty normal without much happening. It was a little bit hard to teach people this last week because everyone was busy and traveling with their families. It was a pretty good week though. Thursday we had our district meeting which was super fun. I love our district here in Paita. We had our district meeting which went super well and then we ate a bunch of candy and Inca Kola. Not the healthiest thing ever, but it was pretty good. 

Friday morning we got a call from the zone leaders. They had received a call about 10 minutes earlier from president saying that Elder P had to be in the mission office the next day at 8 in the morning. He didn't say why, but we all knew that it was because Elder P is the new assistant to the president. Friday night we had to go to the upper part for a baptismal interview. Since it was the last night with our whole district together we decided to go and buy a couple of roasted chickens from Plaza Vea and french fries and to eat dinner as a district. It was pretty fun. The people here in my district are really cool people. This district is the best.
With my zone leader - Elder P
Saturday was a big day, because this week was the final week of this transfer. Saturday nights before transfers we get a call from the zone leaders with all the information about transfers. Saturday night at about 9:30 we got a call from Elder Erickson. Elder Castillo was being transferred. My new companion here in Paita is Elder Gonzales. He is from Mexico. And this is his last transfer. So in another 6 weeks I will get a different companion. Elder Gonzales is a really cool kid. I'm super excited to work with him this transfer!

Sunday was really busy. We had church in the morning and then there was training in the upper part that we had to go to. After the training we came back and we went so Elder Castillo could say goodbye to a couple of people in the ward. After that we had to come back and Elder Castillo had to pack everything up. Transfers are kind of exciting in the mission, but at the same time, they are a little bit sad. It's hard saying goodbye to people when you honestly don't know if you are ever going to see them again!

Hope you enjoyed your time off. We don't really get time off here in the mission. Well, we get 8 hours on p day—10  in the morning until 6 at night. But other than that, we're kind of always on the job. It's okay though. This work is the best work there is.

Lauren, sounds like you had a pretty good Christmas. Christmas in the field is the best isn't it! I really actually enjoyed it. Only 1 more left for me. 0 more for you. You're already at the halfway mark! Crazy how time flies! Gotta make the most of every minute! Thanks for being such a great example to me! Love you! Keep up the great work!

I'm so grateful to be here in the mission! I know that the church is true! There is nothing I would rather be doing than sharing the gospel with others!

Thanks for all the love and support! 

Elder Baker