Wednesday, July 30, 2014


 28 de Julio 2014 - DIA DE INDEPENDENCIA
I LOVE PERU! VIVA EL PERU! Today is Dia de Independencia!
Well hello there family! Love you guys tons! This last week has been a pretty great week! Lots is happening here in the mission! It's an amazing time to be a missionary!
Four Elders and a dummy in Castillo
Tuesday morning was kind of crazy. In this ward it's kind of hard to track down the keys for the church when we have to have a district meeting. Even if we call and locate them the night before and schedule a time to go and pick them up. So anyways, Tuesday we left on the search for the keys at 9 am and finally had them by 10 am because we had a district meeting that started at 10:30 in the church. Well it was supposed to start at 10:30. But at 10 am we got a phone call from Piura saying that the people were coming with our giant jugs of filtered water for the month of July. No joke, 3 weeks late. jaja. It was pretty good that it came when it did though, because we were down to about 2 liters of water. But no, we have water and are good for another month--no worries! But by the time they finally got done with all of that, it was 11:30 before we could start the district meeting. It was a pretty sweet district meeting though! The theme was helping people make and keep commitments. We were able to talk about that, and I think we all left a little bit determined to improve.
Me with the younger brother of my previous companion, Elder I.
His family is here visiting his grandparents in La Union.
That afternoon we started a visita de trabajo I was with Elder C, from Argentina, and Elder C and Elder S stayed in our area. It went pretty well. It was fun working with Elder C. Another cool thing was that I got to go and get to know La Arena which is a little city about 15 minutes from La Unión that is part of the other elders area. It was kind of fun working there!

Wednesday morning we had a pretty un-normal experience. We went to visit a less active member. And when we knock on the door, the less active member's wife, who is not a member, opens the door crying and invites us in and tells us that her husband is super duper sick and asked if we could pray for him. He was having trouble breathing and he would go for like 30 seconds without breathing at all and then gasp for air. So Elder C and I gave him a blessing and then waited there with them until the doctors arrived and took control of the situation. Kind of scary. But I'm glad that we were able to help out in some sort of way.

That afternoon once I was back with Elder S we went to visit a less active member and as soon as that was over we returned to our apartment because I wasn't feeling super well. I had a super horrible stomach pain. It was honestly so horrible. But anyway, that night I ended up going to bed at like 6 and didn't wake up again until the next morning at about 8 in the morning. That was some much needed sleep. And luckily when I woke up I was feeling better again and was able to get back to work!

Thursday was the 24th of July. It was pretty cool. Except for the fact that it wasn't cool at all—in comparison to the U.S. that is. Holidays are some of the things that I miss most about home! 

Friday morning I took one of the coldest showers of my life. No joke. I honestly don't know how that wasn't ice. It was sooooooooooooooooooooooo cold. It was probably one of the fastest showers of my life as well! jaja 

That afternoon we went to eat lunch and we ate Aji de Gallina. It was super funny because the meal was super spicy. It really didn't bother me that much. I learned how to eat spicy food when I was with Elder G from Mexico. But Elder S and Elder C aren't too big of fans. Elder C and I were eating pretty normal, and Elder C was sweating bullets shoveling food into his mouth because he just wanted to finish eating it and not have to be in pain anymore and Elder S pretty much had tears running down his face and was sitting there asking us if he could drink our juice because he had already drunk all of his. It was so funny. Elder C and I couldn't stop laughing.

That night we had a pretty sweet lesson with a kid named J. He is 15 years old and he was baptized about 7 months ago. He has tattoos on his arms and he comes to church every once in a while, but it was the first time that we have been able to get ahold of him to teach him in my entire time here. And when we started to get to know him he wasn't very open to talking to us. But we decided to show him pictures of our families and talk about the importance of our families. And as we started talking about that he started to open up to us and share about how just a couple of years ago he lost his dad in an accident. Plan of Salvation was perfect! I love the gospel. And then after that lesson, he ended up coming to church on Sunday! Pretty cool.

Saturday was transfers notification day! But that night we found out that no one here in our district has transfers and the four of us are all staying here for at least six more weeks! I'm pretty excited about that!

This last week has been a little bit crazy because it's Independence Day here in Peru. And the schools have been super busy. So unfortunately we weren't able to teach E N this week because she teaches school and was super busy. But the good news is that she came to church on Sunday! And she has a baptismal date for this Saturday! Hopefully everything will work out and she will be able to! Because she is SOOOOOOOOOO ready! 

Well I don't have tons of time, but I have tons of love for all of you! Thanks for everything! I love you guys! Being a missionary is the best! The church is true! No doubts!

Elder Baker

Monday, July 28, 2014

I can truly say that over this last year. I have really been changed. - 7/21/14

21 de Julio 2014

This last week has been a pretty good week. Pretty crazy though. I've now officially been out here for more than a year. To tell you the truth, it's super weird to think about.
This last year has been amazing. I would not trade this last year for anything. It has been the hardest, coolest, hottest, fastest, sweatiest, and best year of my life. This week I had lots of time to reflect on all that has happened. I remember sitting in the CCM exactly 1 year ago sitting through Spanish classes and not understanding a single thing and thinking that I was never going to be able to learn Spanish. But now, here I am a year later and I've finally got a good hang of it. I remember all of the cool days I've had, all of the days I've been able to feel the spirit stronger than ever before. I remember all of the times I just wanted to fall down and cry. I remember countless days sick in the bathroom. I remember watching people be able to be baptized and make a covenant with our Heavenly Father. I remember all of the friends I have made. I remember having to say goodbye to people I may never see again. I remember receiving inspiration during many personal studies. I remember learning about the importance of prayer and learning to trust in the Lord. 

That is one of the things that I love most about the gospel of Jesus Christ. That it helps us change for the good. Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ. And I believe that that includes ourselves as well. Over this year, my testimony of Jesus Christ has been strengthened so much. Before the mission I understood and had a testimony of the importance that Jesus Christ has in OUR lives. But now I have a testimony of not just that, but also about the importance that He has in MY life. I know not only that He is our Savior, but also that He is MY Savior. Over this last year, my testimony has grown to be more personal. I now recognize the need that I have personally for Him and for the Atonement in my life. I'm so grateful for the Atonement in my life. It is only through the Atonement that I can return to the presence of my Heavenly Father. And that is something that I will never be able to repay Him for. I now realize that I must "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men." I have to do everything that I can do, to really show just how grateful I am for what He did for me. I know He lives and that He loves us. He really is our Savior and Redeemer. He saves us. He redeems us.

This last week went pretty well for Elder S and I. Probably the highlight of the week is the fact that E N is progressing for her baptismal date! Tuesday night we had a super sweet lesson with her. To tell you the truth, it might have been the coolest lesson of my mission.

So anyways. We had planned to teach her about four of the commandments from lesson 4. And the last time we were there we had left 2 Nefi 31 to read that talks a ton about baptism to help her feel excited for her baptism. But when we showed up, she told us that she hadn't read that chapter. Which was super weird, because she always reads what we leave for her to read. But anyways, right then we decided to put the lesson into the hands of the Lord and followed the spirit. We decided to read that chapter with her. And she absolutely loved that chapter. And afterwards she looks at us and says "I know that I need to be baptized. But on August 2nd? I don't think I'm quite ready for that day!" And it made me think really quick. I was sitting there and thinking through the entire Book of Mormon of a scripture that could help her. Because we know she is ready to be baptized. If she isn't ready to be baptized, then no investigator has ever been ready. Because she is super ready. And then the thought came to my mind to read Mosiah 18 with her in verses 8 until 10. And it was super cool. Because we read that scripture with her and then after, she looks up at us and says "I just barely felt something in my heart. I know I'm ready to be baptized." That was one of the most spiritual experiences of the entire mission. You cannot deny the spirit that was felt in that lesson. IT was SSSSSOOOOOOOOOOO sweet! THE CHURCH IS TRUE! It was one of those moments. I went to bed that night pretty much crying tears of joy!

The other big thing that happened this last week was that I hit the year mark on Thursday. That was pretty crazy! Who would have thought that this day would come so soon! CRAZY!

Saturday morning was another thing super cool. I finished reading El Libro de Mormon for the second time in Spanish! I love that book! And guess what. I can pretty much understand every single verse in that entire book in a language that I did not know a year ago! As soon as I finished, I knelt down and said a prayer asking for another witness that the Book of Mormon is true. And guess what. It is! But for real. Every time I read it, my testimony is strengthened so much! 

I love you guys tons! I know the church is true! NO DOUBTS! Have a great week!

Elder Baker

P.S. Mom, Sounds like girls camp went pretty well! Looking at those pictures, I just laughed. That's not camping. If that's camping, I've been wilderness surviving for the last 12 months. jaja. And I love the stars too. I always look up at the stars for a few seconds every single night before going into our apartment!

Dad, As terrible as it sounds preparing to paint, I feel you. Here, when you paint houses you have to tie a bandana around your face and sand old chipping paint off of cement walls before you can start. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

We don't invite the people to go unto Christ, but to come unto Him. - 7/7/14

7 de Julio 2014

Pretty crazy isn't it? It really doesn't seem like it's already July 7th. I don't know where all this time is going! Are you guys ready to hear about my week? Well I don't really care if you are or not. Because I'm gonna tell you about it anyway.

Well this week has been a pretty great week here in Peru. Let’s just start off with the World Cup. South America is nothing like North America. Soccer here is life. And there is absolutely nothing more important than the World Cup. And you sure see that in the streets every day while people are playing. And the thing is, is that Peru isn't even in this World Cup. They haven't qualified since 1982. I honestly have no clue what it would be like being in Brasil or Argentina right now. And everyone here is hoping that the finals will be Argentina and Brasil. It's all the people talk about. In Elders quorum the people try to make analogies between futbol and the gospel. It's actually pretty funny. I'm honestly kind of excited for it to be over. It's kind of hard right now. But luckily this week there will only be games on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then the finals on Sunday. And then after that we will be free from all that and will be able to teach people like normal!

But about the missionary work. Probably the coolest thing about this last week is that we have an investigator with a baptismal date! It's sister E N. But anyways. So last week she came to church! It was her first time attending for sacrament meeting and she liked it a lot! So that was pretty great! And I had kind of been frustrated the week before because we had about 3 appointments fall through and I thought that she was just losing interest and wasn't going to progress much. But Sunday she came up to us and said, "When can you guys come and visit me this week?" When she said that I just smiled. It was literally an answer to our prayers. So we scheduled another appointment with her. So on Thursday we were finally able to go and visit her! And we decided to teach the plan of salvation. I don't know what was different in that lesson than in the others that we had had with her, but it was one of the coolest lessons of my mission! One of the ones where the spirit is there for sure! She is a teacher in a school and so she is actually educated and can read and understand what she is reading. Which is actually quite different. Because La Union is a farming town. And it's amazing how many people work in the fields and have never had an education and have no clue how to read. But anyway, Hermana E N is super smart! And she understood what we had been teaching her. It was probably the best lesson that Elder S and I have had together. And then at the end of the lesson, her daughter, who is a member, bore her testimony about the plan of salvation and how she knew that by it, families can be forever! The spirit was super strong! So of course we took advantage of that moment and invited her to be baptized on August 2nd. And she accepted! I'm super excited for her! She is so prepared for the gospel in her life!

That was a pretty sweet lesson. Super different than the one that we had had right before that. We taught about the restoration to a crazy guy who kept on telling us how his prophet was a guy that had no limbs but teaches about God on TV. And says that it's hard for him to believe that God has called a different prophet. jaja. That was a pretty interesting lesson. But like always, we just invited him to pray about what we really had taught him to ask if it was true. Maybe he's not quite ready right now, but maybe a while down the road!

Another great thing about this last week was that we had a multi-zone conference in Piura. And I was able to see Elder C, my trainer, and Elder R, the first missionary that I trained. So we took a picture with all of us together. In the mission they call them "Family Pictures" jaja. But I really don't like that term. I don't like it when people call their trainer their dad. Because he's not your dad. He's your trainer! But whatever.
With my trainer and my two trainees
The conference was super great. I love conferences with President Rowley. He's the best. And he teaches you a ton! The theme of the conference was about our purpose as a missionary. We talked about the authority and power of our calling. We really are representatives of Jesus Christ here in this part of the world. And we should always leave and teach with that same power and authority! 

This last week I was thinking about our purpose as missionaries. Preach my Gospel says that our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. I was thinking a lot about the word come.  That means that we are already with Him. That made me think a lot. Am I really with Him, or are there things that I could do to come closer unto Him. I came to the conclusion that yes, we are with Him. When we were baptized, we made the commitment to be witnesses of Christ. But I think that there are things that all of us can do to come even closer unto Him. So that is the goal that I have. To do the things that I can do, be little or big things, to come closer unto Christ. I'm pretty excited for personal study this next week. I think I'm going to be able to learn a lot! :)

So for p-day today my companion and I decided to completely rearrange our room. We put our beds together to make bunk beds and rearranged everything, cleaned the windows, mopped the floor, cleaned out the fridge, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! I really think that it is easier to feel the spirit in a clean place than it is in a dirty place! I'm kind of tired though. I'm pretty excited for 10:30 tonight! I think after the mission I may just decide to sleep for a month. Here on the mission, you're always tired and hungry. Those are two things that you just have to learn to live with! 

Well anyways, I don't have much more time! Love you all! Thanks for everything!

Elder Baker!

A brand new missionary and two baptisms - 6/30/14

30 de Junio 2014

What a great week it has been! Because we had two baptisms this week! That was pretty sweet. I’ll tell you a little bit about them. No worries. But for real, this last week went by sooo fast!

So anyway. On Monday night we went and visited D and H. And we taught them a little bit more. They both have attended church like 15 times, so they really do understand a lot about what we teach. We were mainly just reviewing everything with them so that they could get baptized on Saturday. They really wanted to be baptized on Saturday. And we didn't see any reason that would stop them from being baptized then. So we pretty much visited them every single day of the week and reviewed pretty much everything with them to help them get ready for Saturday. But anyway,  I know that they really weren't hard baptisms, but it was super great for my new companion. Because now he's super duper excited for the mission and now we're ready to go out and find other people to be baptized! (p.s. I have no clue if it is baptised or baptized. Sorry.)

Tuesday turned out to be a great day. So just to let you guys know. Our toilet was absolutely nasty. Not because we don't clean it, because we do. And on the outside it was clean. So supposedly it was a white toilet. But inside was black. It was gross and you could scrub the inside of it all day long with a brush, and it didn't change at all. So I had pretty much just given up on it and figured that I was just going to have to live with a nasty toilet for the rest of my time here. But anyway, my companion decided to stop by a place that recharges batteries and ask for some battery acid. And once we got into the apartment, he poured it into the toilet and left it there for about 5 minutes. And then after about five minutes he went back and scrubbed it with the toilet cleaning brush and guess what!? It's super duper clean! It looks brand new! It's white! Honestly every time that I walk into the bathroom I just smile to myself because the toilet makes me happy! jaja It's pretty cool!

So Wednesday we had our zone meeting in Castilla with our whole zone. Turns out that it was the last one for Elder C. Pretty crazy thinking that my trainer now has less than a month in the mission! But the meeting ended up being super cool. We talked about the baptismal invitation. And then like always, we had practices. So we got to practice inviting people to be baptized. The first time we tried it, it went horrible. It was such a relief once it was over and we could put that behind us, and then we were able to do it again, except a lot better. Inviting people to be baptized is important. We really shouldn't be scared to do that, but sometimes we are. Not sure why. But we have to invite people to follow Jesus Christ. And they do that by being baptized! It was pretty great. 

So the rest of the week went super duper fast. It was pretty great. We were able to teach a lot of really great lessons! I really am learning tons with Elder S. This time is 100% different from the last time that I was a trainer. But it's great. We are starting to find new people to teach, we have a few people that are starting to progress, and everything seems to be looking up in La Union!

I don't have much more time, but I want to tell you guys about Saturday and the baptism. So anyways, Saturday there was no electricity in La Union. Because they were fixing something. Luckily they warned everyone about it first, so we were able to fill up the baptismal font Friday night before the power went out. The baptism started at 10:00 in the morning and it went perfect! There wasn't any electricity, but the sun was shining right through the window into the baptismal font and it looked sooo pretty. And seeing the people come up out of the water with the sun shining on them with the biggest smiles on their faces was the best. Being a missionary is great! I'm so grateful for all of the blessings that I have received so far on the mission. There is absolutely no other place that I would rather be! 

I have no doubt that this church is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that He lives. 

Love you guys!

Elder Baker

Have a great 4th this week! I'll be wearing red, white, and blue, that's for sure! Love you guys!

Lauren, reading your letter, I almost started to feel bad for you that you weren't able to use your car for a few days. But then I remembered that I have walked my entire mission. And now I'm not feeling too bad. Walking is good for you! And it's actually a pretty nice stress reliever!

And about the World Cup. I'm fully aware. The World Cup here is in full swing. When someone is playing, every single TV in the city is watching the game. In church, that is all anyone talks about. When someone scores a goal, you hear "GOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL" in every single house. It's actually pretty cool. These people are crazy! And I hope that the U.S. is able to beat Belgium tomorrow! Except here Belgium is called Belgica. Weird no??? Well anyways. Have a great week! Love you tons!

A trainer is what really determines how the missionary is going to be throughout the mission. - 6/23/14

23 de Junio 2014
Well hello there family. This week has been one of the fastest of the mission. Kind of stressful. But it's good. 
So anyways. I got to spend Monday and Tuesday in La Legua with two other Elders who were also going to train, Elder R and Elder M, both from Lima. It was pretty fun. Those were actually two of the least stressful days of the mission. And we were able to teach some pretty good lessons together. It's kind of hard to teach in a threesome though. 

Tuesday morning all of the trainers had a meeting in the mission home with President Rowley. He talked with us for about 2 hours about the importance of a trainer in the mission of a new missionary. A trainer is what really determines how the missionary is going to be throughout the mission. If we are trunky, the new missionary is going to be trunky. If we are 95% obedient, the missionary is going to gain a testimony of being 95% obedient. And if we are exactly obedient, then the new missionary is going to have a testimony of exact obedience. That was pretty cool. President talked to us about the trust that he is putting in us. President Rowley knows how to motivate you. I am so blessed to have President Rowley as my mission president.

One of the coolest things of my mission also happened Tuesday night. So we were with Elder R in his area in La Legua, but that part belongs to the Piura Central Ward. And that night they had ward council at 7 pm in the stake center. Well supposedly it started at 7 pm but we are here in Peru and nothing starts on time. We showed up on time and were sitting in the hall waiting for the others to arrive. And so anyway, I was sitting there talking to Elder M and I look over at the door and guess who walks in the door..... A C! No joke! My first baptism on the mission! So I ran over to him and gave him a huge hug and started to talk to him for a while. Turns out that he is still active in the church and is actually leader of the Young Single Adults in his ward and in the stake! And the coolest part was that he told me that in 2 months he gets to start on his mission papers so that he can go on a mission! That honestly made me so happy! It was one of those experiences that makes you feel like you have actually done some good on your mission! A has actually been able to baptize 2 new converts in his ward! It was sooooo cool talking to him. It brought back so many memories! It made that probably the coolest part of the whole week! So that night I was super happy. After the Ward Council we went over to the polleria and bought pollo a la brasa to take back to the apartment and eat. That pretty much was a perfect day. Literally perfect. And I hit 11 months in the mission that day as well! CRAZY!
Reunited with my first baptism in the mission after more than seven months
My companions for Monday and Tuesday
Pollo a la Brasa to celebrate 11 months as a missionary--
but mainly it was just because we were hungry and wanted chicken
So Wednesday morning we had to get up early and head over to the mission home to meet up with our new missionaries that were arriving from the CCM in Lima. We ate breakfast together and then went into the living room of the mission home to receive our new companions and have a little training for the new missionaries. My companion is named Elder S. He is from Santa Elena, Ecuador. He is actually a super cool kid. He is 19 years old and has been a member his whole life. And the best part is that he is super excited to be a missionary. He is excited to study, excited to leave, excited to talk to people, excited to get rejected! He's super excited for everything! That's one of the things that I love most about working with new missionaries. It's horrible when you have a companion that doesn't want to do anything. Doesn't want to talk to anyone. Only wants to teach lessons to the people that are already in the area book. It's so much better when you have a companion that is actually here to do what missionaries are supposed to do! The rest of the week was an absolute blur. I honestly can't remember much of what happened. It is a little bit slow working with a new missionary because you have to teach them about everything, but after the first week, they get the hang of the mission and from there on out it's working hard all day every day. 
Me and my new companion, Elder S and President & Sister Rowley
So we have two baptisms in the planning. So there is this family in the ward that used to be less active but they are now back in the church and have been attending weekly for months. But just recently we found out that they have a 9 year old son who hasn't been baptized that wants to be baptized. And they also have a niece that is living with them that is 12 years old and loves going to church and associating with the young women and she wants to be baptized too! So tonight we are having a family home evening with them and then they will be getting baptized pretty soon. We are still not quite sure of the date though. Pretty soon though. Their names are H (9) and D (12). And we have some other people progressing. And we are starting to find some new investigators. Things are looking up here in La Union! I'm super excited for these next 2 transfers!

So one downside this week was Sunday morning. Sunday morning I woke up at like 4 in the morning because I had to pee sooooooooo badly. But anyways, as I was walking over to the bathroom my companion sits up on his bed and says, "Elder Baker, do you have anything to take for stomach pain?" (except he said it in Spanish, because he doesn't know English, jajaja). But the only thing I had was Pepto Bismol. So he took that and I went back to sleep. But about 15 minutes later, I woke up hearing my companion run over to the bathroom and throw up. That was pretty gross. And the worst thing about it was that he had to throw up every 15 minutes. From about 4:30 until about 7:00 in the morning. He was sick as a dog. I honestly felt so bad for him. His first Sunday in the mission too. So unfortunately we weren't able to go to church today. Because my  companion was a little bit under the weather. Luckily by that night though he was feeling super better. And today he seems to be just fine again. So that's good. But anyways. That was pretty crappy.

But other than that, this last week has been amazing. And I'm sure that this next week is going to be the exact same way! 

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

Elder Baker