Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A new transfer, and a new companion. Perfect situation to set goals! - 6/16/14

16 de Junio 2014

Well, I don't even know where to begin. For lots of reasons. One of them being because I don't have very much time today. But here goes nothing.

So anyways. This last week was filled with lots of exciting things.

On Tuesday I got to have exchanges with Elder Z from my district. We worked for the day in my area. It actually turned out to be a super great day, and we were able to teach lots of lessons without anyone being gone! The best lesson was for sure with E. She is a 50ish year old lady. Her daughter is a member, but she isn't. But we have been teaching her for a couple of weeks and today we invited her to be baptized. And she accepted! She said though that she wants to make sure that she is doing it for herself, and not because anyone is forcing her to do it. Which is correct. That is exactly what she should do!

The next day, we had to get up super early because we had to travel to Castilla to have a visita de trabajo with the zone leaders. So I went to their area and stayed with Elder G, and Elder C and Elder I traveled back to La Unión. To tell you the truth, that was one of the best exchanges that I have ever been able to have on the mission. I honestly learned a ton from Elder G. He's a super cool kid. One thing that I loved about working with him is the way that he teaches. He always teaches in a super basic and easy to understand way. He doesn't go super into depth on the topic and confuse the people with tons of scriptures, but he shares just enough, so that the people understand exactly what we are saying. And then the most important part is that after that you bear testimony of what you have taught. So that way the spirit will bear testimony to the hearts of the people that what we are teaching is true. I really do think that teaching by the spirit is way better than trying to convince people with using "pretty words." That night after it was over, we had to travel back to La Unión. You have to travel by combi, which is like a 15 passenger bus that they cram 30 people into, from Castilla to Catacaos. And then in Catacaos you have to change to another combi to go the rest of the way to La Unión. The only problem was that we were traveling at 8:30 at night and at that hour there really aren't many combis that pass by, and the ones that do, are super full. After waiting for about 40 minutes in the mosquitos, a combi finally passed by that had enough room to get into, but there were no seats, so I was standing up. My companion, being Peruano, is pretty short and could stand up straight in the combi, but I was bent over. After the 25 minutes in that back to La Unión, I had a pretty big cramp in my neck. It was a pretty great day! jaja

My mind is kind of frazzled today, and I can't remember much else that happened this week. Other than the World Cup. That is definitely happening here. And Peru doesn't even have a team competing in the World Cup! They haven't qualified for like 32 years and there are lots who are kind of bitter about that! jaja. But anyways. I can't remember which day it was, I think it was the 12th, but anyways. That day was the first game between Brasil and another country. And every single house in La Unión was watching the game. And when you're walking in the street and someone scores a goal, you hear from every direction--  "¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLL! It's pretty crazy. It's definitely something I've never experienced before in my life! 

So anyways, Saturday night was the night that they tell us about transfers. So at about 10 pm we called the zone leaders and they told us what was happening. We really weren't thinking that either one of us were going to be getting transferred, because this was only my first transfer here and the second for Elder I. But Saturday night they told us that Elder I is being transferred, and that I'm going to be training this next transfer. Not sure why I have to train again, but there's not really much of a choice. I'm kind of excited though! Training really actually is super cool. And you learn a ton! So anyway, today I'm here in Piura (with 2 other elders that are also going to be training) until Wednesday when our new companions come. I'm super excited! Hopefully my companion will be a super sweet kid! 

I'm super excited for this next transfer. A new transfer, and a new companion. Perfect situation to set goals, if you ask me! I've got lots of goals that I want to work on this transfer. And I figure now is the best time to start on them! I know this next transfer is going to be sweet! 

I know this church is true. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be here on the mission and to be a representative of Jesus Christ! 

Thanks for everything! Love you all! 

Elder Baker

P.S. -  I can hardly believe that it's the middle of June. Tomorrow I will hit 11 months in the mission! That's almost a year!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I now know the things I used to believe. - 06/09/14

9 de Junio 2014

Well this last week went by so fast. Seems like just yesterday I was sitting here writing you guys!

This past week was pretty great. So last P-day Elder I and I went to Piura to take out our money for the month and buy our groceries at Tottus. Believe it or not, they had pancake mix. So I bought a couple of boxes. I'm so excited to be able to eat pancakes again. I know that you can always make them from scratch, but it's just so much easier to have pancake mix where all you have to do is add water. After buying groceries we went and ate at Pizza Hut with Elder C and Elder C. It was so good. I love pizza. Honestly, I've been super fortunate lately. I've eaten pizza probably 5 or 6 times in this last month, after going 6 months in Paita without it. It is so good!

That night we had a noche de hogar with a family here. We talked about the Book of Mormon with them. Hermana M R is an investigator and 3 of her kids are recent converts. It was kind of sad though. Because she has a new little baby and we could tell that she was worried about something the whole time. We finally got her to tell us that she was worried because her little 6 month old baby was sick with typhoid fever and that they didn't have the money that they needed to buy all of the medicines for the little baby. Good thing we had members present at that lesson. Because the next day, there was no need to buy more medications. The members here are super willing to help out with things like that, even though they don't have much themselves. I love how humble these people are. You can really learn a lot from them! And we were also able to give the little baby a blessing.

Later on this week we went back to their house for another lesson and the little baby was doing tons better and had all of the medications that he needed! We taught them this week about baptism and the lesson was super sweet. After teaching about baptism we invited the Hermana to be baptized. But unfortunately, she told us that she would like to be baptized but that she doesn't want to be baptized without her husband. She says that she has always done everything with her husband and that she doesn't want to make a life-changing decision without him at her side. That was kind of a bummer. Her husband is super cool. But he is a fisherman so he is only in their house about 5 days a month. So it's super hard to teach him the lessons and even harder for him to be able to attend church. But people have their agency. We can't force anyone to do anything if they don't want to do it. Hopefully with time though, she will change her mind and want to be baptized!

We were also able to teach our investigator D two times this last week. She is 18 years old and is living with a less active member that is 21, I think. That's pretty common here. Almost no one gets married. They just start living with each other and then about 10 years and 3 kids later they finally decide to get married or to split up. Pretty crazy. But anyways. She is a super sweet investigator! We were able to teach her the plan of salvation this last week. And she loved it. She is super interested and wants to continue to learn more about the church! She loves reading the Book of Mormon and she even told us that she feels like the church is true! The only problem is that they now need to get married or separate until they get married. But they both want to get married. So hopefully they will set a marriage date pretty soon so that they can get married and be baptized! Her companion is actually a pretty cool guy. And he is excited about returning to church. They live in the house of his family who are all active members and are helping us a ton with them! Pretty great!

Wednesday morning we had to travel to Piura to the mission office because our entire zone had interviews with President Rowley! So anyway, we show up to the mission office at 10:30 and saw a ton of people from our zone there. One crazy thing is that we saw Elder G and Elder C, my trainer, together. We went over to talk to them and it turns out that this last week there were tons of emergency transfers in the mission and now Elder C is one of our zone leaders here in Castilla with Elder G! Pretty cool! Elder C is about done. He finishes the end of July. It was fun being able to talk to him though. After that we all had our interviews. I love talking with President Rowley! He's the best! It is honestly impossible to leave an interview with him and not feel super motivated about the missionary work. He's the best! One of the funny parts about the interview though, was that President Rowley was talking in English the whole time. He would ask me questions in English and I would try to respond in English, but I couldn't do it. So for pretty much the entire interview he was talking in English and I was responding in Spanish. Afterwards he told me that it's super normal and that tons of gringos have trouble with English in interviews once they really start to learn Spanish. Kind of encouraging to see how far my Spanish has come along in 10 months. But also kind of scary. I don't want to forget English. Spanish is good, but English will always be better.

Thursday we had a zone meeting in Castilla. It was a pretty great meeting. I like Elder G and Elder C as our zone leaders. One thing I liked about the way that they taught was that they didn't just lecture us the whole time. It was more of a group conversation talking about ways that we can improve as missionaries. One thing that I really liked was that we talked about the importance of faith. As missionaries we have to have faith if we want to have success. We have to have faith in everything. The scriptures, the spirit, our investigators, our companion, our area, in prayer, and most importantly in ourselves. There is no reason that we should ever doubt ourselves. We need to have faith. I love the quote from President Uchtdorf that says that we should doubt our doubts before we doubt what we know. We need to have faith in everything. We are here on this earth without remembering anything that happened before. We have to walk entirely by faith. Our Heavenly Father is always trying our faith. We have to have the strength and the faith to continue on!

Another thing that happened this week is that on Friday our pensionista served us Alphabet soup for lunch. No joke, Alphabet soup. It was like a childhood dream come true. I had always heard about alphabet soup but I had no clue that it really existed! You should have seen us. We were like little kids searching through our soup to find letters to spell our words. Before too long I had spelled out ELDER BA ER on my napkin and was searching for the K that I needed forever! I finally found it though. Jaja. But for real. That was pretty cool.

So Saturday was June 7th. June 7, 2013, I graduated from high school. It is absolutely crazy to think about how I graduated high school over a year ago. In some ways in seems like 10 years ago, but in most ways it seems like maybe 2 months. This last year has been a crazy one that's for sure! But it's been great!

Well anyways. This last week was a pretty good week. I can hardly believe that this is the last week of transfers. I think that both me and my companion will be staying here for another transfer though. Which I'm kind of excited about. I like being here in La Union. And I LOVE being a missionary. Every day my testimony is strengthened a ton. I now know the things I used to believe. I have no doubt that this church is true. That we have a prophet that leads and guides us. And that we have a loving Savior and Redeemer that loves us and paid the price for our sins so that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father someday.

I love you guys! Have a marvelous week!

Elder Baker

P.S. - Yes they have Papa Johns in Lima. They actually have it in Piura too. The only bad thing is that it's super expensive and I live about an hour from Piura.... And yes, it tastes the same. It’s amazing. But sounds like summer is already flying by as usual. 80 degrees sounds perfect! I would love to be able to mow a lawn. I miss lawn mowing. There is no such thing as lawn mowers here. 

Trip to Lima to change our visa status from tourist to religious visa - 06/02/14

2 de Junio 2014

Well hello there people. It's been a while since I've talked to all of you. Like 2 full weeks! And there is so much to tell you guys, and I don't think that there is going to be enough time to tell you guys everything. But I'll try.
So I'm gonna start with last Sunday night. So it was like 10:45 pm and Elder I and I were already in bed trying to fall asleep when the phone rang. And it was our zone leader and he told me that the next morning I had to be at the airport in Piura at 7:30 in the morning because I had to go to Lima. That was pretty crazy. So, we live about an hour from the airport. So we had to wake up super early the next morning and pack everything together that I needed and then we headed to Piura. We ended up getting there at about 8 am. It was super exciting. Because when I got there, there were like 20 other gringos that were going. It was super cool to see everyone! EVERYONE! I honestly had tons of friends going! So anyways, the personal secretary showed up and gave us all our plane tickets and our passports and we said goodbye to all of our companions and we went to go through security. Security here is a joke. It's nothing like the US. In the states they are so uptight about everything. Here you could take a live pig with you if you wanted to. But anyway, so we all got onto the plane at about 9:30 am. It didn't leave until about 9:45 though. It's pretty cool traveling by airplane. We got there at about 11 and then piled into combis and headed over to migrations. We had to wait there for about 2 hours and then it was finally our turn to go and meet with the person. We had to ask to be able to change our visa status from tourist to religious visa. So that took about 15 minutes. Nothing more. So anyways, after that we headed over to eat lunch. We ate at Papa Johns in this sweet mall. When I walked in, I honestly had no clue that things so cool existed in Peru. It actually made me feel like I would be okay living here in this country. And the pizza was so good. And we didn't have to pay for anything! Half a pizza for everyone!  And I ran into Elder P, who is one of the missionaries that is serving in Lima Central that was in my room at the CCM. Turns out that that is his assigned area! I also ran into Elder B and Elder F from Arequipa who were there for their visa as well. That was pretty cool. So at about 5 pm we were done with everything for the day so we headed over to the hotel. I honestly don't know why the church paid for us to stay there. I'm sure that there is some kind of other cheaper hotel in Lima. It was ridiculously cool though! And I had my own room! That was honestly super weird. First time of the entire mission being alone. I kept on turning around wondering where my companion was! I ended up spending most of the evening with Elder L, Elder C, and Elder S. Some of the funniest missionaries in the mission! Elder S is probably one of my best friends here in the mission. He's super funny! He finished high school when he was sixteen so that he could go and act in Hollywood. He has been in one episode of Victorious on Nickelodeon. McKay will probably think that's cool. But anyways, we played Uno, the card game for a few hours because there wasn't much else to do! Another crazy thing that happened that day was that I ran into Elder M from my district in the CCM! He was there from Cusco doing stuff for his visa as well! The next day went pretty normal. We got up early. I took my last hot shower for probably another 13 more months and then we headed over to Interpol. We were there pretty much the entire morning doing finger prints and stuff. Pretty cool. But actually it was super duper boring. After that it was time to drive over to airport to head back to Piura. We got there at about 1 pm but our flight was not supposed to leave until 3 pm. So we had a ton of time to eat McDonalds and stuff like that, that I probably won't get to do again until next year. That was pretty good. I bought some Dunkin Donuts too. That was something that I haven't been able to do in a long, long time. Donuts are so good. So basically, what I learned from Lima is just that I miss stuff from the United States because there is a little of it in Lima. But for real. I'm glad to be here in Piura. Piura is great! 
Getting onto the airplane in Piura
Me and Elder B in Lima
My own hotel room
Our hotel in Lima
At the airport ready to leave Lima
Me and Elder S waiting for our plane to leave Lima
Dunkin' Donuts I bought in Lima - they were so good!

Sorry but I don't have much more time. So I'll try to write this really fast. So this last week here in La Unión was a great week for Elder Ipanaque and me. Right now we have about 4 pretty good investigators that we are hoping to be able to invite to be baptized this week! 

A rice field here in La Union
Bienvenidos a La Union. Corazon del Bajo Piura.

The aunt of Elder I. And she is super receptive to the gospel. And she loves to read the Book of Mormon. And she loves to learn more. And she has accepted the invitation to be baptized. She just needs to attend church. That's her problem right now. So that's what we are going to work on this week! 

The spouse of a less active member. They're not married but they have plans to get married. But anyways, we´re working with the both of them! She used to be super Catholic, but she is super open to learning more about our faith! And when we taught her about the Book of Mormon this last week she told us, "I think it's a true book.  But I'm gonna read it just to make sure!!" That was super sweet! The spirit was definitely testifying in that lesson. And she said that when she receives a definite answer and can be married, she would like to be baptized!

J F. He is an 18 year old kid. His cousins are members. He has a cousin in the mission right now in Bolivia. He is a super sharp kid and has been doing a ton with the Youth here in this ward. His mom passed away a few years ago and so the plan of salvation is super cool for him. He's excited to learn more! The only problem with him is that he works in a factory Monday-Friday so we can only teach him on Saturday and Sunday. But he has Sundays off so that he can attend church! That's the best part!

M R S. Her kids were baptized a few months ago. And they are super strong. She has been attending church with them these last couple of weeks and she keeps talking about the changes that she has seen in her family! Hopefully she will accept the invitation this week to be baptized. It would be super cool if her 19 year old son that was baptized in March could baptize his mom! 

So anyways. Pray for them! 

Love you guys! I'm about out of time. Have a great week! 

The church is true! No doubts!

Elder Baker