Thursday, July 30, 2015

Week 5

This week has definitely been interesting.

SO many people here have gotten sick this week! A few weeks ago, Elder Ekberg ate a hot dog that the comedor served and got sick, so on Saturday night when the comedor served this pasta with hot dogs in it, he warned us not to eat it.

BUT Hermana Lucas did anyway, and the next day, Sunday morning, sure enough, she was sick. She came to the devotional anyway, and we were singing in the choir, when all of a sudden she turned to Hermana Bailey and said "I don't feel so good..." and then she passed out and after the song was over we carried her out of the auditorium. And she just went downhill from there. They took her to the enfermeria here and hooked her up to an IV, but eventually they had to take her to the Mexico City Hospital! When I went to go check on her and found that out, I was kind of scared because who knows how good the hospitals are here. Turns out she was severely dehydrated from being so sick, and maybe she got some sort of Typhoid? So we don't know exactly if it was because of the hot dogs, but I'm pretty convinced that was at least what started it. So a word of advice: do not eat the hot dogs. From Sunday to today, I would guess that at least a hundred missionaries have gotten sick. When we would go check on Hermana Lucas in the enfermeria, the waiting room would be packed with sick missionaries. Luckily, Hermana Kemple and I are fine! We've been doing a lot of splits so that Hermana Lucas's companion could attend class. 

Hermana Lucas is doing much better today though. And I don't think people are getting sick anymore, it's just a matter of getting everyone who is sick better. Pray for all the sick missionaries here, it's hard to miss so much class because we are learning so much every day!

On a happier note, HERMANA EYESTONE HAS ARRIVED. The whole week before she got here, I had been praying that I would get to see her a lot while we were both here. And my prayer was definitely answered. She is in the new district in our zone, which means that we have the same schedule, we classrooms are in the same hallway, we are in the same branch, it's so awesome. Just a little tender mercy from the Lord. Also last Wednesday, Bridger Allman (another Orem High friend) got here, and tonight Quinton Dickerson is coming! It's like a mini OHS reunion! So fun!

This week's TRC was my favorite experience so far here at the CCM. Why? Because we taught a REAL INVESTIGATOR. Usually you teach members, but this time Hermana Kemple and I got assigned to teach Juan Carlos, a volunteer who literally knows nothing about religion. Nothing about God, nothing about Jesus Christ, let alone anything about the LDS church and the Book of Mormon. We actually found out after that he's a legit gangster, so that's pretty cool. Anyway, Hermana Kemple and I taught him that God is our Heavenly Father, and then we taught about how we can pray to God, and how He will answer our prayers through the Holy Ghost. He has some problems with his back because he's been shot twice in the spine, so we taught him how Jesus Christ knows all of his pain and his problems. We invited him to pray and pay attention to his feelings during and after his prayer, and if he received good feelings and could feel God's love, we asked him to be baptized. And.... HE ACCEPTED!! Right before I asked him to be baptized, I got that pounding heart feeling that comes when you know you should bear your testimony (aka the prompting of the Holy Ghost). We may never see Juan Carlos again, because things are different here at the MTC than they are in the field, but I pray every day that he will want to learn more about the church, and that he'll eventually get baptized.

This experience made me so excited to get out into the field and teach real investigators with real lives and real families and real concerns and real desires to find the truth. The feeling I got while sharing my testimony with a non-member and inviting him to be baptized is one that I will never forget.

The next time you hear from me, I'll be in Texas! My flight leaves Monday morning (August 3rd) around 9 am, and I'll be flying with Elder Barrett and Hermana Kemple who are also going to the Texas Houston East Mission. It's crazy how fast time has gone by here, and to see how much I've learned.

I love you guys so much and I pray for you every night.

Les amo,

Hermana Baker
One night we pulled all our mattresses on the floor and had a big sleepover with all the American hermanas in our casa and called it "Pangea". I definitely recommend it.
(Hna Kemple, Hna Christiansen, me, Hna Areno, Hna Lucas, Hna Bailey)
Me and my cousin, Elder Smit. This is the last week here for both of us!

This is our classroom at the CCM. We are in here ALL DAY. And, as you can tell,  I am the most focused student...

Week 4

Another week has come and gone! It's crazy to think that next p-day will be the last email I send from the CCM. It has been such an awesome experience and I learn so much every single day here.

Our zone consisted of two districts that arrived on June 24th, and also one district that arrived two weeks before. Which means they left this Monday to serve their missions in Florida! We would always call them "the perfect district" because they basically were. They were so good at Spanish and so good at singing and were so nice all the time and had a lot of district unity. I looked up to them a lot and I know they're going to be such great missionaries! We get a new district in our zone tonight, and it's going to be weird being "the old ones". Also, my friend from BYU, Hermana Laura Marshall, left on Monday. It was so fun seeing her around the CCM and sitting by her during choir. She's going to be so great too.

Other news.. We got a new comedor! Before we would eat in a typical school-gymnasium-turned-into-a-cafeteria. It was pretty ghetto. And NOW, we have a brand new building that is so fancy! (At least compared to the rest of the buildings here.) Ahh it's so nice. I don't think I would appreciate it nearly as much if I hadn't experienced 4 weeks at the other one, though. The not-so-nice things in life really help us to appreciate all of the blessings that we are given every single day.

On Sunday night, right before the Latinas left, Hermana Valasquez gave me a note. It was in Spanish, but from what we could translate she said that the first time she saw me she thought she recognized me from somewhere. And she has these memories of us singing together or something. (I don't exactly know.. that part of the note was confusing.) Anyway, she said she thought we must have been friends in heaven because of how strange (and impossible) these memories were. Hermama Valasquez is seriously the sweetest person ever. For the two weeks that she was here she was always asking us to help her learn English because she wants to be able to listen to the prophet. I like to think that she and I were friends before this life, and that someday we'll be able to see each other again and tell each other all about our missions!

Other than that, not much happened this week! Sometimes it can be stressful learning the language or planning lessons, but I really like this quote:

Our lives cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free.

Also, my motto for this week is to try to be a little more perfect than I was yesterday. We are commanded to be perfect (Matt. 5:48), and although it's not a commandment that we will be able to fulfil in this lifetime, we can try. I know that if we put forth our best effort, Christ will help us to become perfect.

I love you all and I pray for you every single day.

Love, Hermana Baker
Because when you all have matching CCM Mexico shirts, a mirror selfie is a must.

Adios Hermana Marshall!

Hermana Valasquez and me

Week 3


It's been another typical week here at the CCM! Each day we get up, eat breakfast, personal study, language lesson, learn how to teach better, eat lunch, language study, gym, companion study, more language study, eat dinner, companion study, teach an investigator, another language lesson, go to bed. Sometimes we have a devotional or something. If you can't tell we study A LOT. But it is so awesome. I have really come to LOVE my scriptures. It's amazing how I've had them for over 10 years, and every day I'm still finding new things to mark and new ways they can apply to my life and the lives of my investigators.

I had to talk in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday about the Book of Mormon, and I thought it went pretty well! Each week every member in our zone has to prepare a 5 minute talk about whatever topic the branch president chooses, in Spanish of course, and then on Sunday the branch president will just pick 5 or 6 people at random to come up and give their talk. So no one ever knows if they'll actually be speaking until they are standing up there speaking. But it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be!

Hermana Lucas (another sister in my district) and I go running every day during gym, and one day this week Presidente Call let us borrow his Garmin watch so we could figure out how far we run each day. And turns out our run is about 3 1/2 miles! Which is good because we eat so many tacos here. So many. BUT. The best part was that when we were going to return his watch, his wife came out with a plate of homemade cookies for us. Ahhh they were so delicious! I miss home-cooked meals so much!

On Saturday we had the opportunity to do what we call TRC (Teaching Recent Converts). But really you just teach whoever volunteers and shows up. So sometimes you'll be teaching life-long members, sometimes recent converts, sometimes little kids, sometimes non-members. You never know until you get there! Hermana Kemple and I taught 4 people, and my favorite person we taught was a 17-year-old named Gabriel. He was so awesome. He has grown up as a member of the church, but only half of his family is active. He started telling us how he really wants to go on a mission. And then after that I got completely lost because he speaks Spanish soooooo fast. So he talked for the next 10 minutes and I had no idea what he was saying! But by the end he started bearing his testimony to us, and he started crying, and we started crying, and the Spirit was definitely there in that moment. Just goes to show that the Spirit speaks all languages, and I hope that I can bring the Spirit to other people, even if they can't understand me, just like Gabriel brought the Spirit to us. (You're probably thinking: I thought you were supposed to be the one teaching Gabriel! Yeah, I thought so too. But the Lord definitely had something else planned for that lesson.)

Funny of the week: One day for dinner we had fish tacos for dinner. And Hermana Lucas sat down and said how much she loved "pecado tacos". What she MEANT to say was "pescado tacos" which means fish tacos. What she really said was she loved sin tacos. Yum. Why do the two words that mean fish have to be so close to gospel-related words!! Haha it makes for some funny stories.

Funny of the week #2: If you take the final "a" off of "Hermana" it becomes "Herman". So us sisters get a kick out of calling each other Herman. Okay, maybe it's not even funny but it cracks us up every single time without fail.

One scripture that I found this week that really inspired me was Mosiah 17:2 where it says "But there was one." This scripture has taken two meanings to me. One, that Abinadi only had ONE convert, who wasn't even baptized during his lifetime, and we still consider him a very successful missionary. Through Alma, and because of Abinadi, thousands of people were converted to the gospel. And two, that Alma was only one person but he made a huge difference. Every single person can make a difference, even if no one else seems to be doing what's right.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission, to learn another language, to have the gospel in my life, to be at the CCM, to strengthen my testimony, to learn, to grow, and to come to know Christ more than I ever have before.

Love, Herman(a) Baker
This is from when we went to the Mexico City Temple. Sooooo pretty.

Hermana Kemple and I got matching Mexican shirts!

We have the most beautiful sunrises every morning!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 2

¡Hola familia y amigos!

It sounds like you had a good 4th of July! I'm sad I wasn't in the States for it because it's one of my favorite holidays. The people here at the CCM did try to make it special for us though, so that was nice. For lunch, instead of having Mexican food like we normally do, we had a huge American barbecue!! Hamburgers, barbecue chicken, curly fries, corn on the cob, watermelon, apple pie, lemonade.. It was awesome! Don't get me wrong, the food here is awesome, but it was nice to have something not Mexican. Other than that, it ended up being a pretty normal day. We dressed up in red, white and blue, but there weren't any fireworks or celebrations or anything.

This week we had to say goodbye to all of our Latina friends. They got here the same week as us, but they only stay for two weeks because they don´t have to learn another language. Saying goodbye was SO HARD. It really is amazing at how good of friends we became over those two weeks, especially because we don't even speak the same language. But, more Latinas came in last night and some more moved into our casa! So excited!! We sat with them at breakfast and lunch and they are super nice, so I can´t wait to get to know them better.

All the Latinas here think I look like Taylor Swift. The Latinas that just left, the Latinas that just got here, even my Latina teachers. They literally call me Hermana Taylor Swift. A few even took pictures with me just to send to their friends and families saying they met ´Taylor Swift´at the CCM. Haha it´s the strangest thing! I have never been told that I look like Taylor Swift before. I guess we´re both white but that´s about it..

Hermana Kemple and I finished teaching Ricardo, and now we have two new investigators -- Ofelia and Mauricio. We have these investigators for a few weeks, which will be nice because we´ll have time to teach them a lot of the gospel, instead of just a simple overview. Our lessons are only 20 minutes long though, and the time flies when you´re teaching, so it can be hard to focus the lesson on exactly what they need and not going off on tangents. We´ve been learning about how to begin teaching, which I wish they would have taught us at the beginning (that would have made sense, right?) because it could have been so helpful when teaching Ricardo. But now, we can use it with our future investigators.

This week in a zone meeting, one of the elders said something that has really stuck with me and that I want to share. You wouldn´t go into a lesson with your own lesson plan and expect your companion to just show up and know what your plan is and then teach a perfect lesson together. That would never happen. Your companion has to be included in the studying and planning so you´re on the same page and so that you can work together to help your investigator. The same goes with the Holy Ghost. We can´t expect the Spirit to be able to help teach the lesson, if we don´t include Him in the studying and the planning.

Yo sé que La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Días is la solomente iglesia verdadera. Yo sé que Jesucristo es el Salvador del mundo. Sé que Dios puede ayudar nos con todas cosas. Soy muy agradecida por esta evangelio en mi vida y por la oportunidad tengo servir una misión.

(Sorry, I´m still working on my Spanish, so the grammar and everything may not be perfect, but I hope the message comes across :)

I love you so much!

Love, Hermana Baker

It has rained every single day here! The mornings and afternoons are usually nice, but by dinner time it´s pouring.

We celebrated the Fourth of July with donuts for breakfast! I literally was a walking flag that day and it was awesome.

I love the Latinas!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One Week Down

¡Hola! It has been such an incredible, confusing, exhausting and spiritual week. I don´t know where to begin!

First off, the airplane to Mexico City was FULL of missionaries. We probably took up over half the plane! I had the awesome opportunity to share pass along cards with two people on the plane. Before I get too much credit, I better point out that the flight attendant helped me out a lot. He was a member so was familiar with missionaries, but because he was working he couldn´t say much to the people who were asking him questions about what all these dressed up young people were doing on an airplane to Mexico City. So, he gave me a card, and then I went and gave it to them and in my very VERY broken Spanish told them that the information on the card could help them find out more about our church. It was such a neat experience, and I can´t wait for the next 18 months!

So in this past week, my companion Hermana Kemple and I have been able to teach 3 lessons to our investigator, Ricardo. In Español, I might add. The first lesson was really hard because it was on the second day and neither one of us knew Spanish, but since then we have come a really long way. Ricardo has been reading in the Book of Mormon and praying about Joseph Smith, and he is thinking about baptism! It can be frustrating not being able to say exactly what I want to say because of the language barrier, but luckily for us the Spirit speaks all languages. So even when I don't have the words, I can always rely on the Spirit of God to testify 

Embarassing moment: I was trying to tell Ricardo that the Gospel brings me peace. But instead of saying ´paz´(peace) I said ´pez´ which means fish. The gospel brings me fish. Whoops.

Hermana Kemple has no Spanish background, but she has picked it up really fast!! It´s funny, she can now give a beautiful, simple prayer in Español, but she still has no idea how to say the simplest things, like 'I have a cat'. Here in the CCM they skip all those basics and go straight to why we´re here, which is to share the gospel.

One of my favorite things about the CCM so far is making friends with the Latinas. In my casa, there are 6 American hermanas, and then 6 Latina hermanas. They don´t speak much English, and we don´t speak much Spanish, but we get along so well! It has REALLY helped improve my Spanish. And my acting skills, because we end up doing that a lot so they´ll understand what we´re trying to say. One night we had a 20 minute conversation with the hermanas in the casa about how to say 'the struggle is real'. Imagine trying to act that out! The struggle really was real right then haha. In case you were wondering, it's 'la lucha es reál´.

This morning we had the opportunity to go to the Mexico City Temple! Unfortunately, the temple is closed for renovations so we could only walk around the grounds. The temple open house will start August 14th, so just a week or so after I leave the CCM. And it will be rededicated in September. It is a beautiful temple though, and they have a sweet visitors center!

One quick thought: Everything truly does come line upon line and precept upon precept, whether it´s learning a language, strengthening a testimony, or developing a relationship with your companion. Because of this, it can often be hard to see progress from day to day. But I have learned that as long as we continue to pray and have faith in the Lord, He will always be at our side helping us. Looking back to where I was one week ago, I know that it is only through the Lord's help that I've been able to learn get to where I am today.

Thank you for your prayers! This truly is the Lord's work and because I have been given much, I too must give. I know that it is only through this gospel that we can return to live with our Father in Heaven. The gospel is such a blessing in my life. It has given me purpose, comfort, joy, and peace. (Not fish.) I love you all.

Hermana Baker

First day at the CCM!

My district: Me, Hermana Kemple, Elder Ekberg, Elder Barrett, Hermana Lucas, Hermana Christiansen