Friday, November 20, 2015

Week 18

Well, I guess first I'll start off by telling about my new companion! Her name is Hermana Browning, she's from Kennewick, WA. She just graduated last June and did a summer at BYU. She's really good at playing the piano (yay! Now the ward has two piano players!) and she also can play the organ so hopefully she will teach me! We have already become really good friends, so I'm excited to spend these next two transfers together!

It's so weird being the "older companion" because I really don't have that much experience. But that being said, I have been able to see how much I've learned since coming into the field 3 months ago! Man, especially in my Spanish. From day-to-day I really haven't noticed an improvement, but when I step back and think about it, I can speak Spanish! I'm not fluent by any means, or even close. That will take time. But I can speak Spanish well enough to communicate and teach the Gospel, which means I can speak it well enough to fulfill my purpose as a missionary.

This week was a really good one! We taught a total of 19 lessons, which is about average for here, but the crazy thing was that we never taught the same person twice! We taught 19 DIFFERENT people! So we have a lot of people to work with, we just need to focus on helping them progress and keep their commitments.

Rosa finally came to church! She started being taught way back in June, and had gone to a session of General Conference in beginning of October, but yesterday was the first time she actually came to church. We had a really great testimony meeting, and she said she liked hearing the testimonies of all the members. Now that she's come once, I think it will be easier for her to come again next week.

Halloween as a missionary really isn't that exciting.. We had the ward Halloween party Friday night and that was fun! It was set up in the gym because of bad weather, but we had a bouncy house and lots of games and candy and food and everyone was in their costumes and such. Hermana Browining and I dressed up as missionaries. Classic. On Halloween, Saturday, we were required to be in by 7:00 instead of 9:00, so no trick-or-treating for us. But we still had fun and had our own little Halloween party, just us two :)

I think that about covers the week! We are enjoying the nice fall weather (which is actually only nice some of the time...).  And we are so excited that it's officially the holiday season! We may or may not have started listening to Christmas music back in September. Haha.

Thank you Nana for the package, and thanks Dad and the kids for the letters! Made my day :)

Moroni 7:45

I love y'all so much. Have a happy week!

Hermana Baker

Say hello to Hermana Browning! So excited she's here!!

Week 17

Thank you thank you thank you for the package! I loved it soooo much!! I already hung up the halloween decorations and I'm excited to listen to the CDs you sent :) This week was 105841384 times more interesting than last week, that's for sure! Where do I even start?

Monday was Zone P-Day we went to Art Rascon's house and all hung out there. He is in the mission presidency, and also is the main news anchor for ABC News, so he's pretty much famous! And he has a super nice house and the most beautiful family. And at the same time, he is the most generous person I have ever met. His life = my life goal.

Tuesday I went to Dayton on exchanges with Sister Wilson. We had such a fun time! At the dinner appointment, we had finished up eating and I was about to throw away my cheap Styrofoam plate, when the Sister looks at me and says, "Oh, actually we wash those." And I kinda laughed, but then Sister Wilson was like, "No, she's serious." Oh shoot! Okay! They told me it was Sister Casas' turn to do the dishes, and since I was there instead, that it was my turn. So I start washing all these Styrofoam plates, and when I look over at the family and Sister Wilson they just start busting up laughing. They were all playing a prank on me. Man, it was a good prank too. I totally fell for it. So that was funny, and embarrassing!!

Friday we went to the temple to do baptisms with Geronimo and Luis!! Suuuuuper special and spiritual experience. It was really difficult to figure out a ride to the temple, but everything finally ended up working out. I was talking to Luis after and he said that when he was being confirmed he felt a firm and gentle power that started at his head and just flowed down through his whole body. How cool! They both did 12 names. Luis was even confirmed for someone named William Baker! Who knows, it could be one of my ancestors!! This is an experience that I know both of them will always remember, and I will always remember it, too. Next step: help them find their own names so they can do the work for their own family.

The whole week we had soooooo much foooooooood. Because it was Hermana Bonar's last week, everyone was all of a sudden willing to feed us. Even some of her recent converts from her other areas came up and took us to eat. Saturday was definitely the worst day though. We had a brunch, two lunches, and a dinner. We thought we were going to explode we were so full. But Heavenly Father definitely helped us out with that one, and we're still alive, so no worries there!

As missionaries, we don't get to watch the news and we hardly know what's going on with the weather. But we were given a whole bunch of flood/hurricane warnings this weekend because of HURRICANE PATRICIA. Apparently, it's one of the biggest hurricanes the world has ever seen... We got a lot of rain, but no flooding or anything so that's good. The rainiest day was Saturday, which also happened to be what's called Spoke N Pedal, where we can't use the car until 5:00 pm. Oh, the joy, of riding bikes in the pouring rain.

Yesterday I received some of the most scary/nervous/exciting/mostly-scary news I have every received in my whole life...... I'M GOING TO BE A TRAINER. Aaaaahhhhhhhhh. Don't try to think about it logically, because it doesn't make sense! There are only two new hermanas coming out, and plenty of other hermanas who have much more experience than I do. I mean, I literally just got done being trained myself yesterday. But that being said, I have a lot of trust in the mission president. So today at transfer meeting I will pick up my greenie and the adventure will begin! Neither of us will know what we're doing, neither of us really speak the language, but we're going to do all we know how and let the Lord do the rest.

Through pure inspiration, one of the APs, Elder Mitchell, called me last night just to check up on me and see how I was feeling. He shared something that has stuck with me that I would like to share with y'all. Ether 12:27 says the Lord has given us weakness. Not weaknesses (plural), but weakness. In other words, he has allowed us to be weak. How lucky are we to have the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ, so that this weakness in us will be made strong! And all we have to do is turn to Him. It really is that simple.

This next week is going to be a challenging one that's for sure. But I feel your prayers strengthening me every day, and I know everything is going to work out the way the Lord has planned.

Love you so much!
Hermana Baker

We love love love the Houston Temple.
The Pine Trails ZLs were so awesome and came and helped us do service for one of our investigators this week!

Zone P-day!
Saying goodbye to Hermana Bonar! I'm going to miss her SO MUCH!

A package was JUST WHAT I NEEDED after biking around all day in "Hurricane Patricia". Best family ever!!

Week 16


So, being honest, this week was not a super exciting one. All of our investigators that could be progressing didn't come to church and we have had appointments cancelled left and right.

But that being said, my own personal testimony has been strengthened a lot! On Thursday we had President Interviews/Training. President Drake is one smart man. He was able to answer all my questions that I had and gave some really good advice. This interview that I had with him confirmed my testimony that he is a man called of God and that he is presiding over this mission with authority and revelation. After the interviews, the Assistants had us pray for 10 minutes that we would have a open mind about what we were going to do next, and then we sat down and wrote ourselves a letter from Heavenly Father. It was such a cool experience! Part of prayer is listening to receive revelation, and when we actually took a minute to write down those revelations, I really noticed how much Heavenly Father has to say to us!

Well I wish I had more to say! This upcoming week is Hna Bonar's last, meaning transfers next Monday and a new companion! I have learned so much from Hna Bonar and its gonna be hard and weird to have her go.

I will make sure to have some super experience to share next time to make up for this week's letter :)

Love, Hermana Baker

We eat dinner with Hna Villareal every Thursday and every time we drive through the gate her 3 HUGE dogs come charging at us. The first time this happened I was terrified, but they're nice so it's all good :)

Week 15

At the beginning of this week Hugo calls us saying that he never wants to see us again, that he's done taking the lessons, that he doesn't want to go to church, that he's giving up. Hna Bonar and I were so confused! He bore his testimony in sacrament testimony meeting the week before conference and now he never wants to see us again?! So we were super worried, but then we go over to Luis's house a few days later and Hugo was there. And he's all happy to see us and said he just was tired and depressed that day, but that actually he's ready to be baptized. Haha okay.

President Drake has asked that the missionaries start doing 10 hours of service week. Hna Bonar and I had no idea how we were going to find 10 hours worth of service to do!! Saturday we were riding our bikes and passed a senior center and decided to stop in and ask if they took volunteers. And turns out we came just in time for.... BINGO!! Wooohoooo! They let Hna Bonar and I be in charge of bingo -- one of us would call out the numbers and hte other would translate for these two old Hispanic ladies who were sitting in the back. It got pretty intense in there, these people take their bingo very seriously. Hopefully this becomes a weekly thing because it was super fun! :)

Other than that this week was pretty normal. The familia Muniz, Carlos, and Rosa are all progressing towards baptism, slowly but surely. The members are always so kind in feeding us and coming with us to lessons. Luis got the priesthood yesterday. Good week!

The scripture I will be ponderizing this upcoming week is Matthew 7:21 about how we can't just say "Lord, Lord" and get into the kingdom. We have to DO the will of the Father. That's something a lot of people don't understand. Or they do understand it, but still don't do it! And as a missionary, my purpose is to help people understand the importance of following the example of Jesus Christ and doing the will of the Father.

That's all for this week! I hope y'all have a good one :) LOVE YOU!

Hermana Baker

On exchanges we saw this sign above the phone booth: CALL GOD. So of course we had to take a picture. Haha we're such missionaries. (Sister Boyd, me, Sister Thayne) 

After church yesterday, Hermano Fernando Torres held a spontaneous class we called "How to Tie a Tie 101". Carlos, Geronimo, Hna Bonar, and I all learned how to tie a tie, although we clearly need a little more practice haha.

Nothing beats a Texas sunrise.

Week 14

This past week, the ZL's challenged Hna Bonar and I to acheive 5-5-5 (5 progressing investigators, 5 lessons with a member present, and 5 new investiagators). Usually the mission goal is for each companionship to achieve 3-3-3, but we accepted the challenge and worked extra hard to try to reach these high goals. We didn't quite reach it (we were short one member present lesson. rats.) but we had one of the most successful weeks ever! We found 8 legit new investigators, something we really needed because our teaching pool was starting to run dry. One day, we taught 7 lessons where usually we get 2 or 3 lessons in a day. Now I don't want to say all this to brag, but instead to show that when we set high goals, and really work hard to achieve those goals, that God is going to work just as hard to help you! With His help we can do everything.

One family we're starting to teach a little bit more is la familia Muniz. Gaby is a member, she was baptized about 3 years ago and just returned this past week from her mission in Brazil! But no one else in her family is baptized. We tried teaching them while she was still on her mission, but they wanted to wait for Gaby to get back. It has been sooooo awesome to talk with Gaby these past couple days (even though she keeps getting her Portuguese and Spanish mixed up haha). Hopefully now with Gaby back the Muniz family can start to progress towards baptism! We had a great lesson about the plan of salvation with them this week. Erika, Gaby's sister, just had a baby last Saturday. So she's sitting there with her 5 day old baby in her hands, and we explain how just 5 days ago, her daughter was in the presence of God. The Spirit filled the room so strongly, and when Gaby started sharing her testimony, the rest of the family was in tears. I am so grateful the have this knowledge about the plan of salvation, and for this chance I have to share it with others!

I don't know why this came as such a shock, but this week it really just hit me that Luis is a Mormon! We went over one night to teach him and we could hear him blasting Savior, Redeemer of My Soul. He had made a channel of Mormon music on his Pandora account and said that's all he's been listening to ever since his baptism because it makes him feel peaceful. Then, we stopped by Saturday night to check up on him and he was watching the priesthood session of general conference. The gospel has truly worked miracles in his life. It makes me so sooo happy to see that Luis truly has developed a testimony of his own, that we as missionaries don't have to remind him to read, or pray, or come to church. He's doing it on his own because he wants to!

General Conference this weekend was the best! The YSA branch president invited all the missionaries over for conference on Saturday, and then we watched it at the church on Sunday. I loved the specific counsel given to us to 1) ask our Heavenly Father "what lack I yet?" and 2) choose a scripture each week to ponderize. I'm taking these challenges to heart, and I hope you will too! The part of conference that stood out to me the most was the story about the potter putting the clay exactly on the center of the wheel, and relating that to putting Christ exactly in the center of our lives. And in general, my favorite talk was President Uchtdorf's in the General Women's session. He gave that talk in the exact way that I picture Jesus Christ speaking to us, through a story that we can interpret into whatever we need to hear at that moment.

I am so grateful that we have living prophets and apostles on the earth today! I'm excited to hear more counsel from those three new apostles in the years to come, and I know that all the leaders of the church are called by Jesus Christ through inspiration.

Thanks for all your prayers and support. Love you.

Hermana Baker

100 DAYS OLDER AND WISER, TOO. Happy 100 days old to Elder Barrett y yo. We celebrated with cupcakes at district meeting :)

General Conference french toast breakfast with the Pine Trails elders, who live in the same apartment complex as us.

Aaaaaand here's a random selfie of me and Hna Bonar :)

Week 13

Well, not much to report this week other than the work is moving forward!

Yesterday was a really great day at church! We only had one investigator there, Hugo, but he got up and bore his testimony in sacrament meeting, so that was cool! Geronimo received the Aaronic priesthood. Luis was confirmed as a member of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Both baptisms and confirmations bring the presence of the Spirit so strong. What I love about confirmations are the wonderful blessings that are promised. In most cases, the person hasn't had a blessing before, and it's humbling to be present for it.

This week, exchanges was with Sister Thayne! She's new to the zone, and has been out the same amount of time as I have (but since she's English she's been in the field a transfer longer while I was still in the MTC). She doesn't have a driver's license either which means.... another day on the bikes! Woohoooo! I felt bad because all of our lessons fell through so we did a lot of riding and knocking, but we made the best of it and met a lot of interesting people.

You can definitely tell if someone is a state-side Spanish missionary by the way they talk. We're always switching between English and Spanish, and it can get confusing! So sometimes we accidentally call referrals "references" (referencias) or instead of saying end, "terminate" (terminar, that one can get pretty funny haha) or say that people "assisted" church (asistir). It's a struggle.

I am really looking forward to General Conference this weekend! What a blessing it is to be able to hear the words of the prophets no matter where we are, no matter what language we speak. And to have three new apostles called! Woah! We've been encouraging our investigators to write down specific questions they want answered, and I want to encourage y'all to do the same!

I also have a new favorite page of the Book of Mormon. Not a whole chapter, just a page. And it's page 155 (Mosiah 4:5-13). I read it this morning and literally marked the whole page. Read it if you get a chance!

Have a great week and pay close attention in conference! Love y'all!!

Hermana Baker

Snow cone break! Don't worry, we gave the snow cone man a pass along card :)

Exchanges with Sister Thayne

Special shoutout to Anna and Rachel who MADE THIS SKIRT!! I love it so much, you guys are the best!

Week 12

Well this week was a week of miracles, to say the least!

On Wednesday we went over to Luis' house to teach him a lesson (and he fed us dinner). He has been taught by missionaries for about 4 months now, and knows the lessons inside and out. My companion, Hna Bonar, made a comment about how awesome it would be if we could all go to the temple together before she leaves at the end of October. So we're looking at the calendar with Luis, trying to pick a day for his baptism, when all of a sudden he says "Quiero ser bautizado este Domingo, creo." (I think I want to be baptized this Sunday.) Our jaws were basically on the floor. We couldn't believe it! So between Wednesday and Sunday we whipped everything together. Since the other elders in the ward, Knudsen and Barrett, were already planning a baptism that day we joined with them and had a double baptismal service.

The spirit was definitely there at the Summerwood stake center on Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 6:30 pm. Everyone present could physically feel the amount of love God has for each of His children. Luis' daughter Carolina was just baptized 3 weeks ago, and if it wasn't for her I don't know how long it would have taken for Luis to get baptized. It is amazing to see how much impact the gospel has had in their lives over these past couple months and to see them grow closer together as a family. I'm looking forward for the day when we all go to the temple together!

The other highlight of the week was the stake fiesta! The Spanish wards in the stake threw a huge fiesta with comida from all the different Latin countries. Then there was lots of eating and talking and dancing and laughing. All in all a really good time. We had one investigator there, Carlos, and he gets along so great with all the members of the ward!

There is one thing that I wanted to share really quick that we talked about in zone meeting this week:

The way that we feel the love of God most is usually through other people. So what can we do better so that others can feel the love of God through us? Then we talked about "being someone else's angel." Moroni says, "For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing." Even the Savior at the garden of Gethsemane needed an angel to help him get through his pain and suffering. No one can do it alone. So this week I am going to work on being someone else's angel, and I want to invite y'all to do the same!

I love you guys so much!

Hermana Baker

¡Felicidades Luis!

Week 11

Well, it's been another great week in Houston, Texas! This week was the last week of the transfer, meaning I'm half-way done with my training! The time has flown by! (I feel like I say that every week.. But it's true.) This is my trainer's last transfer before she heads back home to Utah. Or, in mission lingo, she's "dying" after this transfer. Or, in other mission lingo, I'm "killing" her. It took a while to figure out all the weird terms missionaries use, haha!

We spent A LOT of time this week doing the Area Book. We are in the process of transferring all the records from the paper area book into the area book app on the iPads. It's taking It was supposed to all be transferred over by the end of the transfer, but we still have 70 or so records to enter. So we'll be doing it a lot this week, too. It will be so nice to have all those records in the iPads, though!

Other than that, we have been continually working with our investigators and helping them progress towards baptism. Luis and Carlos will most likely be baptized in the upcoming weeks, so we're excited for that! One day, we were at Luis' house teaching him and his friend, Hugo. Luis lives probably 15 minutes or so from our apartment, so at 9:05ish we were trying to wrap up our lesson so that we could get home on time at 9:30. But Hugo kept talking and talking and talking. We weren't able to leave until 9:22. So on the way home we're driving as fast as Tiwi (the black box that monitors our driving and yells at us when we speed) would let us, and somehow, SOMEHOW, we hit every green/yellow light and we were pulling into the parking lot of our apartment at exactly 9:30 pm. It was a miracle. Like Nephi says, God will always give us a way to keep the commandments!

Our recent convert, Geronimo, is doing great! He was at church yesterday without us having to remind him and without us having to remind the member to go pick him up. This week he actually came with us to help teach another investigator! It was really awesome!! He was able to share how he decided to be baptized and it helped the other investigators, Noe and Araceli, realize that maybe baptism is something that they'd be interested in!

That's all the time I have this week! The gospel is true!

Hermana Baker

Last P-day we went back to the Patriarch's house and he let us go fishing in the lake off of his deck! That's one way to make an Hermana happy!!

The Lake: don't look too closely at Hna Bonar's arms. She kept moving while I was taking the picture!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Week 10

We didn't actually realize it was Labor Day until we went to the apartment office to email and realized it was closed! So this email is coming to you live from Chick-Fil-A in Houston, Texas! (and I'm sending it from my iPad so it'll probably be shorter than usual... Sorry.)

Yesterday Geronimo was confirmed a member de La Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Últimos Días and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. The bishop gave him a wonderful blessing and we're excited to see him continue to grow and progress in the gospel! The members are going to be key in keeping him active, because he doesn't have a car of his own and we live about a 25 minute drive from the church. But so far they have been great and someone is always willing to give him a
ride to church every week! When I read Helaman 6:3 it reminded me of our role as members of the church: "Nevertheless, the people of the church did have great joy because of the conversion of the Lamanites, yea, because of the church of God, which had been established among them. And they did fellowship one with another, and did rejoice one with another, and did have great joy."

On Friday, Hna Bonar and I had the opportunity to eat dinner with Patriarch Stuart and his wife. ( I mean.. He took us to Golden Corral. We couldn't refuse.) He was baptized in his early 20s and then shared the gospel with his girlfriend (who is now his wife) and they have lived such incredible lives. During dinner he talked to us about the purpose of the church, which is to gather together the tribes of Israel. As we unite our purpose with this purpose, and with God's purpose to bring to pass the eternal life of man, everything in our lives will fall into place and we will be blessed beyond imagine. Words of wisdom from the patriarch.

Wednesday, Hna Bonar went on exchanges in Dayton, and Sister Wilson came here with me! She came out the same day as me, so the greenies took on a Spanish area solo. It's crazy how much God trusts us! And even more, how much help He gives us! There's no way we could have done it alone, that's for sure.

Our investigators are continuing to slowly progress in the gospel. They all have such a strong desire to learn, and it's awesome to be able to see all the pieces of the gospel start to click together in their minds.

I know without a doubt that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. My love for the Book of Mormon has grown so much. It truly does contain the fullness of the gospel, and can answer the questions of the soul.

Sorry for the short email this week! If there's anything I can do for y'all let me know. It would be my pleasure. (I swear just sitting here for these past 20 minutes I've heard "my pleasure" at least 100 times. That's Chick-Fil-A for ya. :)

Love, Hermana Baker

While Hna Bonar went to MLC I was on exchanges with Hna Hurst and Hna King in Galena Park/Broadway. We spent all morning doing service for a recent convert. This is actually the "after" picture. Trust me, it looked a lot worse before haha. Give it a month or so and the missionaries will have this yard looking in tip-top shape :)