Friday, March 28, 2014

There are no such things as winter months here in Paita. Summer. ALL YEAR LONG! - 03/24/14

24 de Marzo 2014

Well how are you all doin'? It's been a while. Like 7 days. jaja
This last week was a good week. Not much has changed about the heat. It's still super hot. All day every day. I'm pretty used to sweating. It's pretty cool counting how many drops of sweat fall from your chin in 1 minute. I've probably set a new world record. 

Tuesday we had our last district meeting of the transfer. It was pretty good. I love district meetings. I love being able to talk with other missionaries. That's usually one of the few times each week where we get to talk to other missionaries. Sometimes it can be a little lonely, but when I see other missionaries it reminds me that I'm part of an 80,000 person army. I love being a missionary. It's the best. It's the hardest, but it's the best.

After the district meeting we had to go and fill out that survey that Lauren talked about because Elder Grow is going to be coming to our multi-zone conferences this next month! I'm pretty excited! And then after that we went and ate lunch. Hermana Columba's husband is a Buzo. No clue what that is in English, but it's someone who dives in the ocean and uses his harpoon to shoot and catch super cool fish. And they're super expensive too. But he catches them in the morning and comes home for lunch and then sometimes he cooks us lunch. Tuesday we ate Mero. It was the best lunch of my entire life. It tops everything. McDonalds even. It was so good! 

Tuesday evening we went and taught L. We are focusing in our mission right now on "rescuing." To "rescue" a member, the missionaries have to teach them all 5 lessons, they have to attend church 2 times and have an interview with the bishop or branch president! And on Tuesday we finished teaching the 5 lessons to L. It was super great! He's a super great member with a super duper duper strong testimony! We just had to help him find it! 

Wednesday the thing that stood out to me most was the fact that it was 100,000 degrees in our apartment. My companion is new in the mission and all of the new missionaries have an hour of additional study time. During this time we study and practice teaching the lessons. Honestly I really like it. I know it's for the new missionary, but I'm learning a ton! The only problem about it is that it's in our apartment from 10 until 11 every morning. And I'm not sure but I think someone turns on the heat at about 9 every morning and by 10 the room is preheated and ready for the cookies. Cooking time of 60 minutes and you've lost 10 pounds from sweating. IT'S HORRIBLE! But I will live. The people keep on saying that it's going to cool down a bit in April. I don't believe it though. Because in February they said it is going to cool down a bit in March. And I'm still waiting! March has 7 more days to prove itself though.

Thursday was the best day of the week. Thursday we had to go to Piura for the 5-week training for all the new missionaries and the trainers. It was so cool getting together and getting to talk with all of the other people that are in the same spot that I am. I can hardly believe that I have made it through half of the training. Being a trainer is hard. And the training that we had on Thursday made me realize that I'm not a perfect trainer, and that there are tons of things that I can do better. But I just have to put forth my best effort every single day. 

It was super fun talking with Elder S who is training right now too. He is probably the funniest elder in the mission, and one of my best friends. It's so funny to talk with him. He has a great attitude about everything. Definitely one of the people that I'm going to talk to after my mission! And another great thing was that we ate Sloppy Joes for lunch. No joke. Good old American Sloppy Joes. They were so good. And Inca Kola. Jugo de los dioses [juice of the Gods].

Friday as we were eating lunch, Hermana Columba's sister showed up. She is the one that was companions with Haylee Buchanan in Argentina. How small is the world? Especially in the church! Everyone seems to know someone!
Lunch at our pensionista's home
With Karen Aguirre (Haylee Buchanan's companion)
This week was the last week of this transfer. But Elder R and I are staying here for another transfer. That means that I'm going to have 6 months here in Paita. Paita is rough. The work was a lot easier in Piura, but I enjoy being here. I have learned a ton. And there is no way in the world that I would want to trade all of these wonderful things that I have been fortunate enough to experience! 

Sunday, Hermana G and her kids showed up to church! We had a lesson with her and her husband earlier in the week and we talked about the importance of marriage. They both want to get married. And she wants to be baptized! So we are going to try to encourage them and help them so that they can get married soon! 

One funny thing happened Sunday night. We went and visited these members who have a sister in law of theirs that is staying there. She is like 80 years old. She fell and broke her leg and so her whole leg is in a cast. But she doesn't remember falling and going to a doctor, and she thinks that while she was sleeping people put her entire leg in a cast as a joke. She is super angry and wants to take off the cast because "This joke is not funny at all!" but her leg is broken and she has to have the cast! jajajajajaja. It was one of those situations where you just have to try not to laugh.

Today was pretty good. All the new people arrived in Paita that had transfers. We got a new zone leader today in Paita. He is actually coming from a mission in Venezuela. There are some crazy things happening in Venezuela right now so they took all of the foreigners and placed them in other missions. The only people that are in the missions in Venezuela right now are the people that are from Venezuela. Pretty crazy! But we played soccer, like usual. And I'm dead tired.

I'm so grateful for all of my many blessings. The mission is the best! I would recommend it to anyone! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true! Love you all!

Elder Baker

Lauren, Sounds like you are doing some major work in your area! I'm so happy for the family that you are teaching! Families are the best. A family centered in the gospel is destined for happiness! Love you tons! Keep working hard! I pray for you daily! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Earthquakes & Tsunamis - 3/17/14

17 de Marzo 2014

This week was a great week of reflection. Reflecting on all the many blessings that I have. I really have been blessed with so much in my life. I have a loving family that writes me every week. Believe it or not, lots of missionaries in this mission don't get that. I've always had the necesidades of life provided for me. (And yes, necesidades is Spanish. I can't remember what it is in English.) But most of all, I have been blessed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. And because of that I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father who is always watching out for me. Despite all of the challenges that come our way, He is always there watching out for us and helping us through, whether we realize it or not. 

Tuesday morning was pretty different. We woke up and got ready and then we had to head to Piura to go to the dentist. My companion had one of the fillings in his teeth fall out and he had to go get it filled. But one of the weirdest parts was that there wasn't anything about insurance or anything. He just started and when he finished, Elder R handed him 50 soles and we left. That was crazy. Health care is so different in the states.

Wednesday morning we had our district meeting. Usually it is on Tuesdays but on Tuesday we had to go to Piura. The theme for the district meeting was "Talking with everyone!" What a great topic that is. And how important it is to talk with people as a missionary! In the past General Conference Elder Ballard said:

"You full-time missionaries, if you want to teach more, you must talk with more people every day. This has always been what the Lord has sent people forth do."

That is our role as missionaries. Share the gospel with as many people as we can. But the people aren't going to come up to us and ask us if we can share a glorious message with them that will change their lives forever! That's not how it works! We have to take the first step in sharing the gospel! But naturally, I'm a pretty shy person when talking to strangers. So that makes talking with people a little difficult. It can be physically and emotionally draining to try to talk to strangers. But one thing that I have learned is that I can always get down on my knees and pray for the strength that I need to do it! And it also helps that Predicad mi Evangelio [Preach My Gospel] has some sweet scriptures to kick you in the bum and motivate you to do it! 

DyC 24:12
"And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men."

DyC 60:2-3
"But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them. And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have."

BOOM! Is my Heavenly Father well pleased with me? Or do I hide the talent which I have? As missionaries we just have to open our mouths. It doesn't matter if we want to or not. It's what we do. And if we put our trust in the Lord and just do it he will give us "strength such as is not known among men." JUST DO IT! There are so many people that the Lord is preparing to hear this message! But we will never know if they are ready or not to accept it if we don't talk to them!

So anyway....

Saturday was probably one of the craziest days in my life. We were walking to our next appointment and we were actually in the street that we live on. It's a super narrow street with 3-4 story houses/buildings on each side. It was almost 7:00 and we started to hear this noise. At first I thought it was a big gust of wind. But then I realized that the noise was getting louder and louder and that it was all around me and that it wasn't just coming from one direction. Then I realized that the ground beneath my feet was starting to shake. And that's when people started screaming. Everyone was screaming once they realized that we were in an earthquake. When I realized that I ran to the intersection, because if one of those giant buildings fall, I didn't want it to fall on me. It only lasted for about 8 seconds. But it was enough to scare me to death. Turns out that it was 6.5 on the Richter scale. Something that I had never experienced ever before in my life. I was so glad once it was over and the ground stopped shaking. Luckily there wasn't much damage. There was a little bit of damage to some of the houses that are 100 years old, but luckily none of them collapsed. After the earthquake everyone was outside their houses and we went and talked to this lady. She has lived in Paita her entire life and says that she has never experienced anything like that before in her entire life. We were talking to her for a while and she started to ask us some questions, who we were and why we are here. It's not normal for white people to be here in Paita. When she started to ask us questions, I just smiled. The perfect opportunity to share what we know!!! So Elder R and I started to talk about why we were here and to testify of the gospel, of all the blessings we have received, and to ask her if she would be interested if we share our message with her and her family. And she wants to learn more! I am super happy. We have an appointment with her and her family later this week! The Lord works in mysterious ways. I honestly don't think we ever would have contacted her if it weren't for the earthquake. And I really don't know if anything will come out of this. Maybe she isn't quite ready for the gospel. But if that's the case, we can plant a seed. And maybe later on she will be ready to hear the gospel! 

Sunday went pretty normal until about 7 o'clock again. At 7pm we got the news that there was a tsunami warning for Paita. So we had to gather up our important things in a backpack and head up to the upper part of Paita. We ended up staying the night in the room of Elder O and Elder B. Luckily though, the tsunami never came. The Lord is watching over us. He is always watching over us!

Today I reached the 8 month mark of the mission. 1/3 of the way. And I'm so grateful for everything that I have experienced and learned. There is nowhere I would rather be! I know this church is true! Being a missionary is the best! 

Love you guys! Thanks for everything!

Elder Baker

Lauren - Thanks for being a great example. It's so true though, it doesn't matter where we serve. It matters how we do it. There is nowhere I would rather be than where the Lord wants me to be. And for us it is in our areas. We may not know why, but He sure does. No doubt. Love you! Keep working hard!

Birthdays are like boogers – 3/10/14

Jaja. This last week was a week of reflection, a week of challenges, a week of joys. A week of laughing. A good week it sure was. 

Last Monday we went to Yacila for p-day and after we came back we went and had a Family Home Evening with the Tito Family. The whole night was going perfect. The lesson was great. And then they served us a little dessert and juice. I drank the juice which was super good but as I went to set the glass down it tipped over and shattered. jajajajaja. I felt so stupid. Luckily the family is a family that has means and they didn't seem to care much. jajaja. But yeah, that was a pretty great way to start off the week.

Tuesday was a good day. I was able to print out all the pictures that you had sent me to get my family history book ready. Honestly I'm super interested in family history right now! It's pretty cool learning about your ancestors! Before the mission I honestly had a bad attitude about family history. I thought family history was just names and dates. But it is really so much more than that. It is stories, memories and lives! And it's pretty cool to learn about those who you come after!

Another great part about Tuesday was when we had ward council. It was the first one with the new branch presidency here in Puerto Paita! And it went super well! I can already tell that it's going to be great working with this new presidency. It used to be that in ward council people would present problems and then everyone would try to find the one guilty of the problem. But on Tuesday when someone presented a problem, they didn't worry about who was to blame, but they looked for a way to solve the problem! That was so cool! That is really what ward council is for! To really be able to help strengthen the ward! Or in this case, the branch.

Wednesday was a pretty rough day. We walked the entire day and talked to a million people with absolutely no results. One of the days when it's hard to not get discouraged. When I have days like that I start to be pretty hard on myself.

Thursday was a good day. We had interviews with President Rowley! Interviews are great! Some people are scared of interviews. I have no clue why though! It's super great being able to have an interview with your mission president. We showed up for our interviews at 12:30 but we ended up having to wait about an hour because it was pretty backed up. It was pretty fun because we got to talk to some of the other missionaries that were waiting. A little after 1:30 we finally got to have our interviews. And it went super great! One thing I love about President Rowley is that after talking to him it is impossible to not be motivated about missionary work! I really love President Rowley! I have no doubt that he is someone that has been chosen by our Heavenly Father to help lead this mission! 

Thursday night we went and had a pretty sweet lesson with Hermano Arturo Tavara. We were able to talk about the restoration with him and his wife! The lesson was super spiritual and went super duper well! We have another appointment to go and teach them this week! Having lessons like that make all the hard parts of the mission worth it! I love being able to teach people and being able to feel the spirit! Every time it strengthens my own testimony! I love being a missionary!

Friday morning we had a zone conference! It was super great! It was pretty long, almost 3 hours, but it was super great and I learned a ton. We talked a lot about first lessons with an investigator. Honestly the first lesson and the first moments with an investigator are so important. It sets off the whole relationship that you are going to have with an investigator. After the zone conference we got mail! I love getting mail. Nothing makes missionaries happier than letters. I got the envelope that you guys sent me with the talks, which was super great! And I got letters from Grandma and Grandpa Twitchell, Grandpa Baker, and Lauren for my birthday! Right after getting the letters we went to eat lunch at our pensionistas. I was sitting at the table and opened the letter from Lauren and it says. "Birthdays are like boogers. The more you have it's harder to breathe!" jajajajajajajajajajajajajajaja. I almost died of laughing! Everyone was staring at me thinking I was stupid but I didn't even care! That card gave me a good laugh. All the letters were great though! That made it a great day!

Sunday was a beautiful day! Yesterday we went in the morning to go remind our investigators to come to church and I was just sitting and staring at the ocean and thinking about how beautiful of a morning it was! It was one of the times where you just sit and marvel at all of God´s creations! I am so blessed! 

When we got to church, with about 5 minutes before Sacrament meeting, President Carillo came up to me and asked me if I could speak in Sacrament meeting. jaja. I was thinking back to the time in Lopez Albujar when that happened to me and I was scared out of my mind when I only had about a month in the mission field. It wasn't that big of a deal yesterday though! I kind of actually enjoyed it! haha. I have learned a ton on the mission. And I have grown a ton! I wouldn't trade this experience for anything! 

Today for p-day we went to this place called La Huaca. It's like 30 minutes from Paita. And it was super cool because everything is actually green! I'm so used to just seeing everything brown. Here there is just dirt. It was super nice seeing bushes and trees and grass! We went to this mammoth museum or something. I'm not really sure what it was. Pretty cool though. And then we went to this giant river and played some games! After that we had a super cool testimony meeting with our whole zone! That was super cool! It is so cool to hear the testimonies of the other missionaries here in Paita! It helped me strengthen my testimony a ton! 


Insides of the mini-church replica
Me and my companion

I'm so grateful to be here on the mission! I know this church is true! And I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer! I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to share my testimony with these people every day! Love you guys! Thanks for all the love and support! 

Elder Baker

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I received my mission call over a year ago. That is crazy. - 3/3/14

3 de marzo 2014

I received my mission call over a year ago. That is crazy. This last year has passed by so fast. I have learned so much. And there is no where else that I would rather be. 

This last week I learned a lot. One of the things I have really been learning is the importance of the spirit. In my life, in our lessons, really in everything. The spirit is one of the most important things here as a missionary. 

Monday night we went over to have a devotional with the family of Hermano Inga. Three of his four children aren't members of the church and are Catholic. We were able to have a pretty cool devotional and talk with their family. After our part, they invited a Catholic pastor or something to come and offer a prayer. I think it was called a rosario or something. It was very different from anything I have ever experienced. It made me super grateful to be a member of La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias.

Tuesday another thing happened that I wasn't used to. We were teaching a less active member and we were having a super great lesson, but during the middle of it in at one of the houses of his neighbors, people were performing an exorcism on this girl that was supposedly possessed. And the spirit left. There was no way that we could continue to teach with that. So we ended up saying a prayer and scheduling another appointment with him. It gave me the creepers that's for sure. There were tons of guys yelling and screaming and it was scary. I was super glad to leave that area! 

Wednesday we were able to teach Hermano T again! He was one of our investigators that we had back in December, but he moved to the upper part of Paita so we haven't been able to teach him for months. But he is back in Paita Baja and wants to continue to listen to missionaries! We had a super cool lesson with him about prayer. And yesterday he came to church! He even showed up about 15 minutes early! That's earlier than the members! I'm super happy about teaching him again! 

Thursday we had a visitade trabajo with the district leader. I got to work with Elder O here in Puerto Paita. It was super duper duper fun working with him. We worked super hard though. We had one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission! We went to visit a member that was baptized about a year ago. She wasn't home but her husband was. He wasn't baptized with his wife but he has listened to the missionaries for a long time and knows pretty much all of the lessons and the doctrine. Better than some of the members! But we started to talk with him. The problem is that he works on Sundays and doesn't think he can quit working Sundays. We shared Mosiah 18:8-10 with him and then challenged him to be baptized. We promised him blessings if he would put his faith in the Lord and quit working Sundays to be able to attend church. The spirit was SOOOOOOOOOOOO strong. You can't deny the spirit that was felt in that lesson. And he accepted the invitation to be baptized! It's definitely not something that is set in stone, but it's a great start! Now we just have to keep working with him. And allow him to feel that same spirit again!

Friday was a pretty good day. 1 year since I got my mission call. I can hardly believe that! CRAZY.

Saturday probably the best part of the day was our lesson with Hermana E. She was baptized in November. She is super great but is going through a trial in her life. And it's making her question her testimony. We had a lesson with her that was super cool. It was one of the first times where I haven't been focused on the things we were going to say at all. All of my attention was on her. And I was thinking about her needs. What was it that she needed? And the spirit helped us teach to her. We were able to share a couple scriptures that she really liked and help her feel of the spirit once again in her life! Honestly I'm starting to have those lessons a lot more in my mission. And it's so cool! It makes me want to continue to improve my ability to listen to the spirit. Teaching with the spirit is really the only effective way to teach!

Sunday was crazy. We showed up to church and the whole presidency of District Paita was there along with the counselor of Mission Peru Piura. So everyone knew something was going to happen. And they ended up changing the branch presidency. We now have a new branch President here in Puerto Paita. It is one of the last people that I was expecting, but when they called his name, everything seemed to be right. I know that the Lord has called him to be branch president. I'm super excited to be able to work with him. This is the first big calling that he has had in the church, and he is feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but I'm sure he will do a great job! And it's now our duty to help him and support him 100%.

This morning for p-day we went to one of the beaches here in Paita to play some games. It was actually super fun. We went to Yacila. It's actually like 20 minutes from Paita, but is super pretty! The coolest part of today though was that we ran into Hermana Liliana from my old area here in Peru! She is one of the less active members that we taught in Lopez Albujar. When we started teaching her she hadn't been to church in years! But by the time I left Lopez Albujar she was attending regularly! And today she told us that she is still attending! It was so cool to see her! It was a super great self esteem booster! It makes me feel like I have actually helped someone here in my mission! She used to always laugh and make fun of me because I didn't understand anything and couldn't speak very much. She was amazed today at my Spanish. It really has improved sooooooooooooooooooo much during my time here in Paita! jaja. That was so cool! I'm so happy today! 

On our way to the beach

Thanks for all of the love and support! I love you all! I know that the church is true! I have no doubt about it! 

Elder Baker

I felt super stressed when I was called to serve as a trainer. But I learned that we just have to put our trust in the Lord, do our part, and he helps us out with the rest. There really isn't a need to stress. Just do what you can!

Lauren, What a week you have had. Pretty crazy living in the mission home. Pretty cool experience though! Keep up the great work. I love reading your letters! Super motivation boosters! You're the best! Love you! Pray for you daily!

Not going to lie. This last week was a little bit challenging. - 2/24/14

WARM greetings from Paita!
24 de Febrero 2014

Well, I'm still alive. Not going to lie. This last week was a little bit challenging. Physically, mentally and spiritually. But I made it through. And there is no reason that I won't be able to continue on. Each day you just have to get up and take on the task at hand. It doesn't matter how tired you are, or what you are feeling. You just gotta do it. 
One of the reasons that this last week was pretty rough was because on Tuesday I got sick. Being sick in the mission is the worst. You can't watch TV, and you definitely don't have a mom that loves you and makes you chicken noodle soup. I felt absolutely horrible for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 3 whole days. I think I had some kind of flu or something. Headache, sore throat, congestion, my whole body was dead tired. Everything. I called Hermana Rowley and she started me on some medicines that finally started to work and now I'm feeling tons better! I only have to blow my nose 200 times a day, but other than that, I feel completely back to normal. jaja. Hermana Rowley told me that I needed to rest which was much needed but it was something I didn't like. I hate being in our apartment. It is small and I feel super cramped and I want to be outside doing something productive. I was kind of beating myself up inside and telling myself that I was lazy and just not wanting to get out and work. But looking back on it, it was much needed rest. There is no way that I would have been able to leave and work productively with how sick I was.
So that made the first part of the week a little bit unproductive. But it is okay. This weekend we were able to work pretty hard and we actually taught a lot of lessons. 
Wednesday night I was still feeling sick but we had an appointment with a new investigator. We ended up going to that one appointment and that was probably the spiritual highlight of the entire week. He is 20 years old. We were able to teach him about the restoration and honestly it was probably the best lesson of my mission. The spirit was SO strong. You can't deny the spirit that was felt in that lesson. I know that he was able to feel it too. And when we invited him to pray at the end of the lesson he said an awesome prayer. I am super excited about teaching him more. After that lesson I was talking to my companion and we talked about how awesome that lesson was. Even though I was sick as a dog, that lesson was super awesome! It motivated us to work harder, to be more obedient, and do everything we can on our part so that we can have the spirit that strongly in all of our lessons!
Another reason that this week was pretty rough was because on Saturday morning we went to visit a family in the ward and they told us that Friday night Hermano Inga passed away. Hermano Inga is the person that I was able to give a blessing to. After we gave him the blessing he started to get better. Each week we visited him and he was getting stronger and stronger. But this last week he got super sick again and passed away Friday night in the hospital in Sullana. They say that it was kidney failure. That was pretty sad for me. Hermano Inga was honestly one of the nicest people that I have ever met. He was always laughing and smiling. He didn't have many worldly possessions but that isn't what made him happy. What made him happy was his family and the gospel. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to get to know him here in Paita.
Sunday morning we went to church which was super great, but after church we had the funeral for Hermano Inga. A lot of the members went to his house at about 2:30 pm and met and talked with the family. After that they carried the casket about a half mile to the church. At the church we had a super spiritual funeral service. There were a lot of his family members there that are not members of the church. A couple of people from the Branch spoke about the Plan of Salvation. During those talks I was really just sitting and thinking to myself. I really am so grateful for the Plan of Salvation. I know that death isn't the end. I know that one day I will be able to see and talk to Hermano Inga again. And I know his family will be able to as well! After the funeral service we left the church and we walked a mile to the cemetery while people carried the casket. It's tradition to walk from the church to the cemetery carrying the casket. Once we got to the cemetery the family said their last goodbyes and the some of the people from the branch dedicated the grave. I was kind of sad, but at the same time I was thinking about how blessed we are to have the Plan of Salvation and for the knowledge that we have that families can be together forever!
Other than that, not much happened this last week. It's still a little bit stressful being senior companion. But I'm getting through! Pon tu hombro a la lid! [Put your shoulder to the wheel!] I know that this church is true. I am so grateful to be a missionary at this time. I have received so many blessings here in Peru. I am so grateful for my Father in Heaven who loves me and helps me every single day! I'm so so so so so so grateful for the gospel in my life! I KNOW IT'S TRUE!
Thanks for all the love and support! Love you all!
Elder Baker
I think it’s kind of funny that we are both super excited because the weather is going to start to change! There it is going to finally warm up and here it is going to finally cool down!