Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 41: Gotta Love Surprise Baptisms

Surprise! Adriana was baptized YESTERDAY!! We went over Wednesday to go over the baptismal interview questions and to set up a date for her baptism. She changed her job, so she is able to go to church Sunday mornings, but still works Sunday evenings. This was going to be a problem, because our stake asks us to hold baptisms on Sunday's . Anyway we arrived at her house, and as we're sitting down she told us that she has this Sunday completely off work and asked if she could be baptized then. Well of course she could!! We got everything put together super quick and the baptism was beautiful, like they always are. Her husband Miguel was able to baptize her, and she was just beaming the whole time.

Now rewind a little because miracle #2 was going on at the exact same time. Sunday after church we decided to go see an investigator named Inocencia. We have just seemed to have bad communication with her and she'd been hard to get a hold of, so we decided to stop by. Lucky for us she was there with her husband and her sister-in-law and we taught them the plan of salvation. We asked them what they usually do Sunday's, and they were like oh nothing really. Which is the perfect answer because that means they can come to church! Church was already over for the day, so we invited them for the next week. But wait hold up! We had a baptism in a couple hours!! We invited them to that, and they said they would come! Okay, so as missionaries people tell us they're going to do a lot of things that they don't actually do. So when we got a text at 6:00 from Inocencia telling us they were here we almost fell out of our chairs. The whole family came and sat on the front row so they had a perfect view of Adriana's baptism. Afterwards we were able to show them around the church building with the ward mission leader. They loved it, and said for sure they are coming to church next Sunday. We are on cloud nine.

Let's rewind a little bit more for miracle #3.... Oscar Reyes. Last week I mentioned how a member showed up to church and brought her non-member husband. Well we have gone to teach him twice this week and wow is he literally the most prepared person I have ever met. We had members with us both times, and they both said the same thing: that this man has truly been prepared by the Lord. He came to church with his wife who is a member. She came here from Mexico about a year ago, but we never had her records or anything and she had never been to church until general conference last week. They also came to the baptism, and Oscar told us that he felt "something really special" or in Mormon terms, the Spirit :) Turns out though that the wife, Shela, will probably have to be baptized again because her records are no where to be found! The ward clerk looked for hours and hours, and nada. Oscar admitted that he's secretly happy Shela's records are lost so that they can get baptized together haha. President Drake has made a specific promise to us missionaries here in the Houston East mission that if we study and apply Preach My Gospel every day that people will be coming to find US wanting to be baptized. Well, needless to say we've been studying like crazy for the past five months or so and the people are coming!! The Lord keeps every promise. Alma 37:17. D&C 82:10.

I could go on forever. This week was crazy. But here's just a few more tidbits from the week:

--A guy came up to us as we were knocking in an apartment complex telling us that we need to believe in Jesus Christ instead of Joseph Smith (he obviously didn't know what he was talking about). Then he got down on his knees right there and started bowing down to and kissing a cockroach that happened to be crawling past. What the weird.
--We are currently phone-less because Hna Sahagún dropped it in the toilet.
--Zone conference was all about how to be better weekly planners! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And the greatest success comes to the greatest planners.
--We spent two days volunteering with a Houston city project called Saving Smiles, where we got to teach 2nd graders about taking care of the teeth, and then some volunteer dentists gave them sealants. A fun surprise was to see our investigator Alex, the 8 year old we are working with!!
--Transfers are next week and my fingers are crossed that I get to stay!

Like I said, I could go forever. So I'll just sum up by saying a
mission is the best decision I've ever made :)

Love always,
Hermana Baker

Saving Smiles

Week 40: We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet

 WOW it is such a blessing to be able to hear the voices of the general authorities and the words and counsel of the Lord. Here's a quick rundown of the week (not too much actually happened).

--Yohanna has started coming out to lessons with us as a member present. And so has Daniel. Recent converts are some of the best members to take to investigators, because even though they don't know a lot about the gospel, they can relate so well with the investigator and have such a strong and simple testimony. Plus, the more they are able to share their testimony, the more it will be strengthened! So the investigator and the recent covert get their testimonies strengthened, and us missionaries get baptisms. Win-win-win :)

--We played the put-salt-in-the-Oreos trick on April fools and the whole district totally fell for it. Hah classic.

--Literally all our plans fell through Saturday afternoon, including our plans to watch conference, and Hna Sahagún and I were walking down the street complaining at how terrible of a day it was. Our spirits were pretty low. When lo and behold we find three dollars on the sidewalk! First reaction was to look around to see if its owner happened to be close by. Second reaction was walk down the street to McDonald's and buy ourselves ice cream cones. McDonald's ice cream cones = spirit lifters. Tender mercies are real. We still didn't have any investigators to teach that night, but we did have more positive attitudes and a stronger testimony that the Lord's looking out for us.

--Not very many people go to the church to watch general conference because most just watch it at home. However, a member showed up who moved here about a year ago. She hasn't been to church this whole year, so our ward doesn't have her records or even know who she is, but she came to conference and brought her non-member husband!! We are going to go over this week to start teaching him the restored gospel, and couldn't be more excited!

Favorite conference quotes:

You can have what you want, or you can have something better. --Donald
L Hallstrom (quoting Elder Holland)

If we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice. --Thomas S. Amo son

To be worthy does not mean to be perfect. -- Gerrit W. Gong

So let's keep this conference spirit with us throughout the day, throughout the week, and throughout the year! I am so excited to be able to more deeply study these inspired words. The church is true!!

Love always,
Hermana Baker

Recent converts make good member-presents and good pack mules.


It has been 9 months since I got on the plane to the Mexico City CCM and wow has that been the single best decision of my life. The days feel like weeks, the weeks feel like days, and in the end it's all just turning into a blur! I have learned so many lessons, met so many people, had so many touching experiences. So I'm excited to see what the Lord has in store for these next nine months! 'Cause as we all know from watching sports, the second half is way more intense than the first :)

Some highlights of the week:

--Yohanna, Angel, and Melissa were confirmed yesterday! They are now the newest members of the Pasadena ward :)

--I have become an expert at showering cats and picking out all their fleas.

--Adriana, the only member in the Tapia family who isn't baptized now, just quit her job! She has the strongest testimony of them all, but hasn't been able to come to church because she worked every Sunday. She came with us Saturday to the General Women's Session of conference, and I don't know what it was (jk I do, it was the spirit) but yesterday was her last day of work at that taqueria. She told her boss she was quitting! So stay tuned these next upcoming weeks to hear about her baptism!!

--Yesterday we had such a tender experience. We are teaching a man who lives right across the street from the Tapia's, so last night we stopped by the Tapia's to see if anyone could come with us. Miguel was home and willing, and 10 year old Angel said he wanted to come to, so vamonos! The man we went to visit is named Manuel, and he has had such a hard time accepting the Book of Mormon. We seemed to be just going in circles because everything comes back to knowing if the Book of Mormon is true. He just didn't see the need for another book if we already have the Bible. We tried everything possible to help him understand, but we weren't getting anywhere, so we finally just had to tell him to start reading in the book, and then call us when he wants to learn more. By the end of the lesson me, Hna Sahagún, and Miguel were all disappointed and frustrated, but Angel asked if he can say something. He then shared with Manuel such a simple and beautiful testimony of how Joseph Smith went into the woods to pray, and how Jesus told him that none of the churches were true, but how the true church is now here and you can know through the Book of Mormon. His testimony brought the spirit so strong. It made me start to tear up to see a ten year old, who had just been confirmed a member that morning, share his testimony. Unfortunately, Manuel was "past feeling" as the Book of Mormon would describe it (1 Ne. 17:45). But it definitely strengthened my own personal testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the simpleness of the gospel.

--Tuesday was exchanges with Sister Smith.  She is a really good missionary! But not very helpful here in Spanish land because she's English... So basically the exchange was me teaching all the lessons, and then telling her at the end what happened. We had fun though :)

You would think that for Easter everyone would be willing to listen to a message about Jesus Christ, but that wasn't the case this week. One blessing of being in the Bible Belt is that everybody already knows about and loves Jesus. Unfortunately, this is also a downside, because everybody thinks they're "saved" or that they know enough about Jesus and therefore don't want to listen. That being said, I am really grateful to be on a mission during this Easter season, and to be able to teach people about its true meaning. About how we all too will one day be resurrected. About how we will see our loved ones again. And more than anything about the great and profound love that Jesus Christ has for each one us.

Love always,
Hermana Baker

Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Week 38: Celebration!!

This week has seemed like one big nonstop celebration!

Thursday was St Patrick's day AND Hna Sahagún's birthday!! Wooohooooo! She's feeling 22! We celebrated by weekly planning (yay) and then the Tapia's had gotten her a surprise birthday cake. So all in all it was a good good day :)

Then Sunday Yohanna, Angel, and Melissa were baptized! It was so stressful putting it all together and making sure everything went through as planned, but it ended up so beautiful. Daniel was able to baptize his wife and kids. He was so nervous about it!! But it was perfect. He didn't mess up the words and all three of them went all the way under on the first dunk. The ward has been so supportive, and the Tapia's are going to make such a great addition! Adriana, the grandma, is the last one we are working with. She still hasn't been to church because of her work schedule, but honestly she has the strongest testimony out of all of them so we're not too worried about her :)

One day we were knocking and a guy opened up and said, "Thanks for y'alls time but I already go to the church of the Holy Frisbee." Hna Sahagún and I just looked at each other and then back at him like ummm excuse me? What church? Then he said, "The church of the Holy Frisbee! We believe that when you die your soul goes on the roof and you can never get it back down." Ohhhhhhhh it was a joke. Haha we laughed for a good minute with him, shared a short message, and he sent us on our way. With how many churches there are here I wouldn't be surprised if the church of the Holy Frisbee really did exist though....

Right before her baptism Yohanna sent us this text: "I feel like crying cause I know I'm doing a good thing and trying to be a better person, a good wife, mom, and friend. Aaaaaahhhh I'm so happy jaja I hope y'all don't think I'm crazy!" THIS IS WHAT THE GOSPEL DOES TO PEOPLE!!! And wow does it make me happy just to be able to witness it all. I'm think I'm starting to understand how Ammon felt when he didn't have the words to describe how much joy sharing the gospel brought him. Alma 26:11-16.

Love always,
Hermana Baker

Happy birthday Hermana Sahagún!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week 37: Hallelujah

Busy, busy, busy. Welcome to the life of a missionary. This week we were running around crazy, between appointments and service and meals (the members feed us every single day here!) and meetings. But somehow we managed to fit it all in and had such a good and successful week!!

Saturday we went up to the doctor, and he took a look at Hna Sahagún's shoulder. She's going to have to stay in the sling for another 4 weeks!! He said there's nothing really he can do about it for now. Something about a grade 2 AC separation.. Whatever that means....

Meeting #1: President Interview Trainings, where we can talk with President Drake about anything and everything. He is such a spiritual giant and has the perfect answer for everything! The APs focused the meeting on the Book of Mormon and one thing they said really stood out to me. As missionaries, one of the key indicators is member presents, and it's something we're always trying to do is get members out with us, to share their testimonies and experiences! What would it be like to have God as our member present? Well, we can! Every time we use the scriptures in our lessons, it's like God is there testifying and promising blessings to our investigators. So even though it doesn't count as a "member-present lesson" we should always be striving to use God's words as much as possible to invite Him to the lesson. Pretty simple, but super powerful.

Meeting #2: Zone Meeting, where we get together to set a vision as a zone. There wasn't really anything new from last transfer, but it was a good reminder of the importance of Preach My Gospel, having powerful contacts, and working through the Spirit.

Investigator update: Yohana, Melissa, and Angel are getting ready for their baptism next week!! An investigator named Joel is now nicknamed el huevo (the egg) because we're trying to figure out how to crack him! He knows it's all true, he comes to church, but he doesn't feel ready to be baptized because he's worried he's going to go inactive. (I don't know how he found out about inactive members..) So we're just pushing along with him! Tony says he has the desire to stop smoking and drinking, but he's not really putting in any effort to try and actually stop. Alex's baptism is getting pushed back a few weeks to give him a couple more chances to go to church. We have a new investigator named Inocencia who has a lot of potential. As you can see, the work is moving forward!! There is so much to do to hasten the work of salvation, and it can be a little overwhelming at times trying to manage it all. But whom the Lord calls, He qualifies! It's so awesome to be a part of the Lord's work and see miracles happen on the daily!

The new Easter initiative is out! Go take a look :) #hallelujah

Love always,
Hermana Baker

It was Khiara's birthday! Maybe we got a little carried away with the frosting... :)

Week 36: Espera Milagros

First off, about the new comp! Her name is Hermana Sahagún, she was born in Mexico, is from Meridian, Idaho, speaks Spanish fluently (woohoooo!! I am learning so much from her!), she is a convert of 7 years, she had been out in the mission 6 months, and we are already the best of friends!! She has a torn ligament in her shoulder, so she's in a sling and we'll be going to the doctor this upcoming week to see how it's doing.

This first week of leading out the area went great! We saw so many miracles and it's so amazing to be able to help people change their lives around to follow the example of Jesus Christ. Here are a few highlights:

-We had a special Sister's Conference, where Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson (general Young Women's President) and Sister Carole M. Stephens (general Relief Society first counselor) came to talk to all the sister missionaries in Houston! It was super awesome! There wasn't necessarily a theme, and honestly I don't think they had prepared anything, which meant that everything they said came straight from the heart. They talked about how special and specific our calling is as a missionary, how our mission will bless us in all aspects for the rest of our lives, and how involved the Lord is in this missionary work. I definitely learned a lot and felt the Spirit tan fuerte.

-Earlier in the week we had asked Yohana about smoking, and she was like "I bought a pack of cigarettes on Saturday, and then I have no idea where it went! It disappeared!!" And as she was saying that, Daniel, her husband who got baptized a few weeks ago, and who was sitting behind her, started pointing to the trash and mouthing the words "I threw them away!" And Yohana was just sitting there saying how it's a sign from God that her cigarettes all of a sudden disappeared, especially because she's trying to stop. It was such an eye opener to me for a couple of reasons. First, the importance of having a good support system! Since that day Yohana hasn't smoked a cigarette and her family has been so sooo supportive. And then second, how God uses other people to answer prayers, and to bring about miracles. It's not often that we get to see both sides of the miracle, so this was something that I'm never going to forget.

-Daniel and Miguel received the Aaronic priesthood! Daniel received it first, and then Obispo let him join the circle so that he could be a part of giving it to his dad. It was so cool, and I didn't know they were allowed to do that!

-We ate deer tacos! And they were delicious!!

I think that about sums it up. One of my new mottos is something Sister Oscarson said in the conference:

Expect miracles.

Love always,
Hermana Baker

It's not every day you take a selfie with Sister Oscarson and Sister Stephens!!! (And Sister Drake photobombing in the background haha)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Week 35: Get Your Conference Noodle Here!

Transfer day! I will be staying here in Pasadena, but will be getting a new companion. So it's going to be different not having Hermana Bushman here, but I'm excited for the new transfer! We have a lot of people lined up for baptism, and I get to lead out the area.

We finally got to go to the temple again! The Houston temple is so beautiful both inside and out. A member in our ward had family names that she wanted us to help her with, and I ended up with one named Pleasant Moorman. What a good name haha.

A member, Estrella, had her birthday this week! On Tuesday we get a text from her telling us that the address of the party was changed. We looked at the text, and then did a double take, because the address was the Tapia's address, the family that got baptized last week! I mean, we bring Estrella with us to almost every lesson with them, so we knew they were friends, but we didn't realize they were THAT good of friends! Anyway, we spent all Saturday helping Estrella put her party together. And it was super successful. Hispanics go all out for these fiestas. Basically, our whole ward showed up! So the Tapia's got to know some more members of the ward, we ate good food, laughed a lot, and had a really fun time :)

Yesterday Miguel and Daniel were confirmed and received the Holy Ghost, so that was awesome! Next week they will be able to receive the priesthood, and then hopefully in a couple more weeks the rest of the family will be ready for baptism, and they will be able to perform the ordinance! How special is that?! Last night was Hna Bushman's last night here, and the Tapia's got her a cake that said "We're gonna miss you, Hayley" (we made the mistake of telling them our first names, and now they won't stop calling us Hayley and Samantha...) But it was super cute. A lot of tears were shed, but she'll be back for the rest of the family's baptism in a few weeks!!

We have an investigator named Stephanie who we found knocking, but turns out she had been taught by missionaries before! She was so excited that we found her again, and we don't know what happened last time, but right now she is super prepared. We taught a whole lesson focusing on baptism, and she was all for it! So we told her to prepare for her baptism she has to start preparing right now by reading the Book of Mormon, praying about it, come to church, live the commandments, stuff like that. So then she asked exactly what the commandments are. She doesn't have a problem with the law of chastity because her and her husband are legally married. She said she drinks multiple cups of coffee a day though, so we asked her this week to just drink one cup a day. That's when she said, "Well I think I can go with just half a cup." Whoa! Even better!! The spirit is definitely working in her and we're excited to see her start to progress.

It's a wonderful thing to be able to be in the service of the Lord 24/7 and I'm learning so much every day.

Love always,
Hermana Baker

Regret: letting the elders make my planner. Now I'm stuck carrying around a planner that says "Get your conference noodle here!"