Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's so hot here... I would love some snow. - 11/24/14

24 de Noviembre 2014

Hey guys. We're to November 24th already. That means that in just one month it will be Christmas Eve! Pretty crazy, wouldn't you say? I'm having trouble believing that it's already so close!

This last week was a pretty good week! Not tons of things super exciting happened, but lots of good things are happening here in my area!

On Tuesday I had a Visita de Trabajo with Elder P. That was pretty cool. This time it was my turn to go to his area. It was the first time that I have ever been able to work in that half of the ward. It was pretty cool though! His area is really humble. Where they work is called an "invasion." It's where there is land that doesn't really have an owner, so people just go and stake out their territory and start building their houses there. They go in giant groups so that there really isn't anything that police can do about it because you can't really kick out 200 families from their houses. But anyway, it's pretty normal here. The people that live in these areas usually start with a house built of sticks and posts and palm tree leaves and plywood. And then as the time goes by they start improving their houses little by little. The area is about 15 years old now and it's starting to get developed. There still isn't any water though. Can you imagine that? Living 15 years without water in your house? They have to bring water from other parts. Pretty crazy, no??? It was a pretty sweet day though. I love working in those areas because the people are humble and humble people are willing to listen! Sometimes it can be so frustrating when no one will even give you the time of day. I can just imagine how it would be serving somewhere like New York. 

Wednesday we had a zone meeting. That was pretty fun. I love zone meetings. This time we talked about all of the stuff that Elder Evans had taught us in the conference on Saturday. And at the end, all of the missionaries that are finishing their missions this transfer bore their testimonies. There are 5 of them here in this zone. Honestly, listening to them made me sad because I started thinking about how I'm going to feel when it's my turn to bear my testimony. I don't want that day to come. I want to just be able to keep working here!

Friday was a fun day because in the morning we had weekly planning! Actually, that's not why it was a good day because that can be kind of boring sometimes. It was a great day because we had interviews with President Rowley! I love interviews with President Rowley! The interviews were supposed to start at like 2:45 pm in the stake center. And we live like 15 minutes from the stake center in a mototaxi. So we left at like 2:10 to be able to arrive a little bit early. But when we showed up to the stake center we realized that we had forgotten our area book and we had to have it so that the zone leaders could review it. So we had to hurry and fly back to our apartment and get the area book and fly back to the stake center! And we ended up getting there a little bit late at 2:50. But the good news is that President was running a little bit late so we still made it on time for our interviews! jaja. Sometimes I wish I could remember things a little bit better.... jaja. But anyway, President is great. After the interviews you always feel super great about yourself and super excited to work! I have no doubt that President Rowley is the perfect mission president for me and for this mission! 

Saturday was sweet. Probably the best part of it was Saturday night with E P. He is a super sweet investigator. He really does want to learn about the gospel. He wants to change his life. He wants his family to be happy. And he knows that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that it is going to help him achieve that goal! The only problem is that he has a super hard job. He has to work over 12 hours a day and really isn't earning that much. He's a great person though! At the end of the lesson he offered a prayer. And to tell you the truth it was probably the most sincere prayer that I have heard during the entire mission. If everyone knew how to pray like he does, there would be soooo many more converts in this church. There are tons of people that never receive answers, just because they won't ask! He is super great though! I'm super excited to keep working with him!
We have another investigator with a baptismal date! His name is T L. He is like 28 years old and his sister is a member of the church. He has been attending church for a while now but never listened to the missionaries because he said he didn't have time with his work and schooling. But on Sunday he came up to us and said. "Can you guys visit me? I know this church is true. And I want to come closer to God. Can you guys help me be baptized?" SWEET! The Lord really is preparing people to be baptized, but in His own time. Sometimes we have to wait until they are fully prepared. But Thomas is prepared. He wants to be baptized the first Saturday in January! So I'm super excited!

The work here in this area is progressing! Slowly but surely! I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary here in Sullana right now. I am here for a reason. This church is true. No doubt about it. There are 2 things that make me really happy in my life. Those things are (1) The gospel of Jesus Christ and (2) my family. I don't know where I would be without those things! 

Love you all! Thanks for the love and support!

Elder Baker

P.S. -  I would love some snow. I want to make a snow angel--but in my short running shorts. jaja. It's so hot here. I swear if I make it through this summer here in Sullana it will be a miracle!
Are you excited for Christmas! Cause I sure am! I'm excited to talk to all of you guys! Christmas in the mission is hard, but it's great. Have a great week! Love ya!

I'm sure I've eaten over 100 pounds of rice here on the mission. - 11/17/14

17 de Noviembre 2014

Hey guys! First off, today I have 16 months in the mission! That's super crazy! The sister missionaries that came in my group are down to just 8 weeks in the mission. This time is passing by way too fast. But this week was great! 

1. Piura again..... twice
2. C C has a baptismal date
3. Building a house in Nuevo Sullana
4. Visita de Trabajo with Elder G
5. Elder C and Elder D. Pollo a la Brasa
6. Conference in Piura with Elder David F. Evans
7. P-day at the Casa Club Sullana!

That's pretty much my entire week! Is there anything else that you would like to know??

1. Unfortunately we had to go to Piura 2 more times to go to the dermatologist for tests and stuff. They were going to give my companion a medicine to take, but they called Lima to ask the area doctor and he told us that he shouldn't take that as a missionary. So we had to go again, but everything is good now. They have everything just about figured out and, he's taking medicine and everything seems to be going great with that!

2. C C is an investigator that we are teaching. She is 24 years old and lives with members. She is super smart and has been investigating the church forever. So, this week we were able to go and visit her after she returned from Lima and we decided to talk about baptism because she really is ready to be baptized. She has been ready for a while but there was something that was holding her back. But anyway, we taught about the importance of baptism and guess what? She set her own baptismal date! She looks at us and says, "I think I'm ready to be baptized. I would like to be baptized on my birthday." So that was pretty exciting. We asked her when her birthday was and we were hoping that it was in this next month but she told us that it is in January—January 9th. So it's a little bit far away. But the good thing is that she finally wants to be baptized! So pray for her please!

3. Wednesday we had a service activity. We built a house in one day—jaja, for real. We had to dig a bunch of holes and put posts in the ground. And then we put the walls up. Walls were just palm tree leaves woven together. And then we put a little metal sheet roof on it. It took about 8 hours out in the sun, and so I was so burned that I could barely even move my neck the next day. But it was fun! And we were able to do it for a member that really needed some help. The people here are so humble. They really don't have much. But they know that that's not what's really important in our lives! I love the people here! Peruvians are the sweetest, nicest people ever! Especially the Piuranos. 
After building a house in Nuevo Sullana

4. This week I had a visita de trabajo with Elder G who is a convert from Bolivia. He is a super great elder. He is one of the most kind and loving elders that I have ever met, but not overbearing at all. He has seen a huge change in his life from when he was still not baptized. I love his example to me. The gospel really does change us! He is a great kid! 

5. Friday night Elder C and Elder D had to come and stay in our apartment because Saturday morning we had to leave Sullana super early to head to Piura for the conference and Elder C and Elder D live in a super small town like 45 minutes from Sullana. That was pretty fun! That night we went out and ate Pollo a la Brasa. Pollo a la Brasa is my favorite food here. The only problem is that it's kind of expensive. Well, here it's expensive—it’s really not that expensive if you think about how much food costs in the United States. It's like roasted chicken and french fries. The thing that I like about it most is that there is no rice. I'm so sick of eating rice. I'm sure I've eaten over 100 pounds of rice here on the mission. Every day it's a giant plate of rice with some type of meat and sometimes some beans or something. Plates on plates of rice!

 6. Saturday we had a conference in Piura for the entire mission! It was so cool seeing the entire mission gathered together. That was the first time in pretty much forever that I have seen everyone together! And it's because Elder David F. Evans came and visited our mission! He gave a prayer in General Conference. Don't know if y'all remember or not. But anyway, he is a super great speaker! He only knows English and Japanese though so there was someone translating. He spoke about a ton of sweet things. One of the things that I liked most was when he talked about how beautiful Piura is to us, which is so true. This desert may be one of the ugliest places to lots of people. But to me, it's beautiful. There is nowhere else that I would rather be on my mission!

7. Today was a pretty sweet P-day. We went to this super pretty park for a while and talked with a bunch of missionaries. And then we went and ate at a restaurant called La Rustica, which is a super sweet restaurant, and we ate pizza. That was so good. Sometimes it's just nice to not eat rice. 

But yeah, it was a pretty great week! I'm excited for this next week! The mission is great! Every week here is amazing. I learn new things every day! The mission really is changing me! I will never regret this choice that I made to come here! Love you guys a ton! 

Elder Baker

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fasting is a way to forget yourself physically and be able to strengthen yourself spiritually.

10 de Noviembre 2014

Looking at that date, and feeling how hot it is is kind of weird. Don’t complain about how it's getting cold in Utah. Just one day of cold would be like dying and going to heaven. But for real. This heat is unbearable. I don't know how the people do it year after year. Well actually one thing that they do is clothing. Everyone and their dog here are wearing tank tops and shorts because it's the only thing that they can do to survive the heat. But as a missionary, a tank top and shorts wouldn't be the most practical thing ever. So we just continue sweating and teaching the gospel, in our long pants, socks, and a shirt with a closed collar and a suffocating tie. Gotta love being a missionary! But you really actually do have to love it because it's the best! 

This last week wasn't the most exciting week ever in the mission. Want to know why? Because we had to spend 3 days in Piura in the hospital. Don't worry though. No one is dying. It's just that my companion had to go to a dermatologist. For a few reasons. One of them is his acne. He has tons of acne and the sun pretty much kills his face and he can't even touch it because it hurts so bad. So Hermana Rowley told us this week that we needed to go to the dermatologist to see if there is anything that they could do about it. 

Medical care here in Piura--I'm still counting my many blessings that I still haven't had to go see a doctor here in Peru. But the hospital that we go to in Piura is actually pretty cool. And it seems to be almost like a hospital in the states. Except for a few things. One of them being how long you have to wait. So anyway, Tuesday was the first day that we went. We got to the clinic at like 3:00 in the afternoon and checked in at the main office. We had an appointment and everything for 4:30. But the doctor didn't get there until 4:00 in the afternoon and that's when he started visiting with patients and we were the 10th people on the list. (Does that make sense? 10th people?) So we got to sit there in that waiting room forever. We were honestly waiting in the clinic from 3:00 in the afternoon until 9:00 that night before the doctor finally could see us! I tried everything I could in that time to stay busy and not be bored. But it was so hard. I read the Book of Mormon for like 3 hours. I read pretty much half of Alma. After that I read the Liahona from October. And then after that I couldn't read anymore because I had such a bad headache and just decided to watch people for 2 hours. People watching is pretty fun. Especially watching bored people. That day I found out that people have super funny faces while they are bored. And they sit in very awkward positions in chairs. jaja. But anyway! At 9:00 it was super nice when they doctor finally saw my companion and by 9:30 we were done but it was too late to go back to Sullana so we had to go over to the mission office to sleep for the night. That was something that we hadn't planned on. So we weren't really prepared. I brushed my teeth that night with toothpaste and my finger. That was kind of fun. And then Wednesday morning we traveled back to Sullana at like 7:00 in the morning.

Wednesday I had a visita de trabajo with Elder P. Elder P is a super cool Elder. I would love to have him as a companion. Because he's a super chill elder, but he loves to work hard. He's super smart too. And he loves to read. He has read pretty much every book that the church has. If you have a question about church doctrine you could ask him and he could refer you to like 50 talks by general authorities to help find the answers. jaja. But it was pretty fun working with him. We went to Marcavelica. Marcavelica is super sweet. Except for the fact that there are tons of mosquitos. That's one thing that I'm glad Sullana doesn't have tons of!

Thursday after the visita de trabajo we had to go back to Piura to do a blood test. We showed up at the hospital and they told us that the doctor that does the blood testing didn't show up that day and they told us to return Friday in the morning at 7:00 to do the blood test. So then we had to go all the way back to Sullana. So that was pretty much a waste of 4 hours and 25 soles. But whatevs! The good thing about that though is that Thursday night we got to have 2 super duper great lessons! The first was with P G! He is super great! And his parents are deciding when he will be baptized! We're hoping that everything will work out so that he will be able to get baptized on the 29th of this month! 

After that lesson we went and taught F R and L, his wife. They are super great! L isn't a member, and F is a less active. L is super receptive to the gospel though! And she wants to learn more! F is going to be the problem with this family though because he likes to drink. He really does want to change his life and stop drinking and come back to the church. But it's going to be hard for him! Good thing we're here to help him though! His wife came to church on Sunday! And she stayed for all 3 hours! It was her first time at church and she liked it a lot! F didn't come though, because he woke up hungover--ugh! Pray lots for him! We need to help his family a lot! 

Friday in the morning we went to have the blood test done. We were done with that by 8:00 in the morning. The only problem was that we had to take the results to the doctor, but the doctor didn't arrive until 4:00 in the afternoon. So that means that we had to go and spend pretty much the entire morning in the mission office. We had our studies, and then weekly planning. And after that we went and ate lunch with the pensionista of the elders in the office .That was pretty fun. And then at 4:00 we went back over to the clinica and gave the results to the doctor and headed back to Sullana. It was such a relief to get back here. Traveling is kind of boring. And we had to do it 3 times this week! Hopefully that will be it for a while! 

This last week was kind of rough. Because it wasn't too exciting and we didn't have much time to work in our area. We were able to get a little bit done, but I didn't feel good with myself. It was like I had feelings that I wish I could have been able to do more. And when I started feeling like that I realized, that if I don't try my very best and give everything that I have while I'm here, that's exactly how I'm going to feel when I go home after the mission. Which is something that I really, really, really don't want. So, Saturday after lunch I decided to start fasting. And I probably had one of the most spiritual fasts of my life. Some people say that fasting is easy. But for me it's not. It's hard. Especially on days like that Saturday. Because that day we had to go out and work in the hot sun all day when no one was home and we had to knock on tons of doors and make tons of contacts. And that night I came back to the apartment thirstier than you could imagine. And I was honestly contemplating breaking the fast because I felt like I couldn't do it. But I didn't do it. I decided to get down on my knees and plead for the help that I needed to be able to fast. And once again, my loving Heavenly Father answered my prayer. After saying that prayer, I honestly didn't even think again about how thirsty I was or how bad I wanted to drink something. That was honestly in the back of my mind. I was able to receive the blessings that I was needing. Fasting isn't easy. But it's so important. I know it's real. It's more than starving. It really is a way to forget yourself physically and be able to strengthen yourself spiritually. That was probably the spiritual high for the week. It was the spiritual experience that I needed. 

I don't have much else to write you guys. I hope you all have a great week! I love you guys more than you can imagine! 

Elder Baker

P.S. You may not be looking forward to the first snowstorm, but I sure am. It would be the BEST DAY EVER if after writing you guys I walk outside and it starts snowing. I don't think it's going to happen though. I'm thinking that I'm going to have to wait until about this time next year!

All of us have a gift ... and we can develop others! 11/3/14

3 de Noviembre 2014

Hey guys! How goes it. Things are going pretty well here in Sullana. And do you guys have any ideas how I can start emails so that they are a little different each week? Because I swear I start with the same thing every single time. I have that problem writing in my journal too..... jaja. Life can be hard sometimes...

Sanchez Cerro is great! But for real, I love being here in this area. For sure one of my favorite areas so far of the mission! 

This week started off pretty exciting. On Tuesday morning I had to travel to Piura for the district leader training meeting with Elder P and Elder T, two elders from my group. Honestly I'm so glad that I'm here in their district. Because they are both super sweet people! It was super fun traveling to Piura with them. Even though we're not supposed to speak English, we did, and it was soooooo nice! Not gonna lie, laughing is good in Spanish, but it's so much better in English!
Our group at the training meeting!
 The training was super sweet! We talked a ton about spiritual gifts that we have and that we can receive if we live worthy of and seek after them. It was kind of cool. I have always heard a lot about them, but to tell you the truth, that was a topic that I had never really studied in depth. But since that day, I have been studying it a lot. Moroni 10 has new meaning. Do you know how cool it would be to have every spiritual gift that it mentions in that chapter? I would be a superman missionary! But the good news is that I have some of them! All of us have a gift that we have been given. And we can develop others! 

We ate at Papa Johns for lunch. That was super good. And then after it was all over we had to travel back to Sullana! And wanna know something cool! We came back in Eppo which is a bus company and there were some Australians on the bus! No joke! We went up and started to talk to them and they talked to us for about 15 minutes while we were waiting for the bus. They are from Perth. And they are here to visit Mancora which is a super famous beach here in Peru, but supposedly it's a wicked beach with lots of iniquidad, so we don't visit it here. But anyway, wanna know something funny?? While I was talking to them, I started to speak in Spanish without realizing it and then after a few seconds I realized that they had no clue what I was saying and they were looking at me like I was stupid. jajaja. Going back to the states is going to be rough! 

So right now we have been teaching a kid named P G (who is 13 years old) for about 2 months. His mom is a less active member and his dad is super Catholic. We are working with P and his mom though. He is super sweet. He is reading the Book of Mormon every day, he goes to church for all three hours every single week, he participates in all the activities of the young men, he has completed his book about his family history, and he has plans to serve a mission! The only problem is that his dad is Catholic and didn't want to give him permission to be baptized! But we have all been praying tons for him in the ward and the young men had a special fast for him, and guess what? Our loving Heavenly Father always answers our prayers! We had a super sweet lesson with the family and his dad told him that he can be baptized within this next month! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's super sweet. And we are going to continue working with the family. Because we want his father to be a member too!

This weekend we had exchanges with the zone leaders! Which was super fun! Elder A came to my area with my companion and I went to their area with Elder B. Being with Latinos is good, but being with a gringo (Elder Bradley) was nice for a change too. That was probably one of the funnest exchanges of my entire mission. And we worked like crazy! I can't tell you how many heads we turned in the street and how many people said things to us like "Heylow watt ees yo neym". I'm pretty sure it was the first time that they have seen two white people together in their entire life! But it was great. We walked around all day and when we were walking in the street we would talk about how cool it is living here in South America. I really actually like some things about living here, but there are also tons of things that are hard too. They work a ton, but many spend money that they don't have on beer. So many of these people really hardly have anything, but they still spend tons of money each weekend drinking with their friends. 

This week was fast and testimony meeting. I love fast and testimony meeting here in Peru. There is never time for everyone to bear their testimony that wants to. And it's not like they give long stories in their testimonies, their testimonies are short and powerful. It's super great to have investigators present in those meetings, because the spirit is so strong! 

This last week I have been thinking a lot. Especially because we're now into November. I don't want the mission to end. Every day it feels like it's getting closer and closer. And I don't want it to come. I love being a missionary! There is nowhere else I would rather be. And nothing else that I would rather be doing. I'm so grateful for this opportunity! Thanks a ton for always supporting me! I couldn't do it without you guys! Being a missionary isn't easy, but it's the best decision that I have ever made!

Love you guys to the moon and back! 

Elder Baker

Halloween pretty much doesn't exist here. On Halloween everyone says, "Hoy es Halloween!" But that's it. They don't dress up, they don't have parties, there is no candy. It's pretty lame..... 

And, don't complain about the cold. I would easily pay 10 bucks to feel cold for 5 minutes.