Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 33: ¡Feliz día de San Valentín!

This week was full of so many ups and downs. Daniel Tapia and his dad, Miguel, are still good to go for their baptism next Sunday, so we are excited for that! Hopefully everything will go as planned! The rest of the family needs a little more time before they're ready but we are definitely still working hard with them.

What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by having SEVEN investigators show up to church?!? About 5 minutes before the meeting started Hermana Bushman and I were all sad because no one was there yet. But then in walks Joel, a member had gone to pick him up! We waited out in the foyer for about 10 more minutes when Tony walks in! So we go in and sit down, and after the opening prayer Roberto comes in. After the sacrament, the Ruiz family shows up. And then after the intermediate hymn, part of the Tapia family finally gets there. (Hey, better late than never!) We were pretty excited. We've been trying to get all these people to church, and what a miracle that they all decide to come on the same day! And on Valentine's Day too!

Exchanges this week was with Sister Boyd. We had a super successful day! We went to knock in a trailer park. The vey first lady we met opened the door a crack, looked at us, and said really grouchy, "I don't have time for this" and slammed the door. We didn't think much about it, but an hour or so later when we were walking back towards our car she was sitting out on her porch and she called us back over. Then she apologized for being rude!  That never happens! We shared some of our favorite Book of Mormon scriptures with her and she said she would love it if we came back to teach her more about the Book of Mormon.

That same day I met the CRAZIEST lady I have ever met. She was a referral from a member, so at about 7:00 Sister Boyd and I go knock on her door. She yelled at us through the door to go away, but we were persistent and she finally opened up. We told her the names of the members who had sent us there because they thought she was ready to hear our message! That's when she changed and was like ohhhh I think I know why they sent you here, and she invited us in. So we went in and she told us all about how back in 1996 God gave her this prophecy that one day a man (specifically her daughter's ex-boyfriend named Phil) and his truck will go up to heaven in a tornado, just like Elijah went up in a chariot of fire. And how a whole bunch of people will disappear. And how she will marry Elijah, a black man. And how all of this will happen on a Sunday at 6:15 central time. She's called the FBI a whole bunch of times about it and everything. She literally is psycho. We taught her the restoration, but she's like nah that Joseph Smith stuff is crazy. I just wanted to shout at her YOU THINK THIS IS CRAZY WILL YOU JUST LISTEN TO YOURSELF. But don't worry, we kept our cool haha.

As missionaries we're always trying to help people understand that they need to be baptized by someone with the PROPER AUTHORITY. And this week we found a perfect example of that in the scriptures! Mosiah 21:33-35. It's golden.

That about sums it up! I love the Book of Mormon, I love the mission, I love the warm Texas weather, I love the package I got this week (thanks family!), and most of all I love my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Love always,
Hermana Baker

Me, Joel, Fernando, Hna Bushman, and Alejandro (a recent convert)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Week 32: Southern Food Gone Mexican

Like always we had such a good week! I don't have a lot of time today, so here's a few quick highlights:

-We taught an investigator named Tony how to pray. We told him that you start with Padre Celestial, say whatever you want to tell God in the middle, and end en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen. And here was his prayer. "Heavenly Father, I am thankful for this day of life. I am thankful for my family. Blah blah blah. And um in Jesus' name, Amen." He literally said blah blah blah IN HIS PRAYER! Haha Hermana Bushman and I just looked at each other and silently laughed. It was hilarious, and has become the new inside joke.

-Tuesday we had Missionary Leadership Council (MLC) and President Drake said that starting now we are supposed to invite people to be baptized, not just in the first lesson, but when we very first contact them! (WHAT?!) When he first said that you could feel the doubt of everyone in the room. But then we started role playing and we realized that it might take a little practice to get used to it, but that it's totally possible! This way people will know right off the bat what our purpose is, and we won't be wasting our time on people who aren't actually interested in being baptized.

-The Tapia's came to church again yesterday! They are going to be baptized on the 21st and we couldn't be more excited for them :) Last night we went over to their house for dinner and a lesson, and they fed us crawfish! Yummmmmm. It definitely had a little Mexican twist because it was so so so SOOOO SPICY! But so good. And we topped off the night by talking about eternal families. Doesn't get better that! We left their house gorditas y felices :)

-Also yesterday Hermana Bushman and I taught Relief Society about missionary work and it went awesome! There's a story in this month's Ensign called "She Read My Testimony" that we shared and then passed out Book of Mormons for the hermanas to write their testimonies in. This ward is just starting to really get involved in missionary work and it's super exciting!

-Hermana Bushman and I have become addicted to family search, and we have spent many lunch hours seeing how far back we can go in our family tree. (Turns out I'm related to Jesus!)

-Exchanges this week was with Sister Redford in La Porte! They live super close to the bay so we ran down to the water that morning to watch the sunrise. SO PRETTY.

I think that about sums it up! Thanks for all the support and love. Missions are the best thing in the entire world.

Love always,
Hermana Baker

The sign got cut out a little, "Welcome to the Church Without a Name"

Week 31: President Russell M. Nelson!

Man, what a good week! So many things have been happening since I got here to Pasadena, that I can't believe I have only been here two weeks!

To start off, Saturday we had a combined tri-mission conference with the three Houston missions to listen to President RUSSELL M. NELSON! It was such a cool experience to be in a room with 700 missionaries, 20 stake presidents and their wives, the temple president and matron, three mission presidents, Elder Corbridge who is an area 70, and then to top it off the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (He looks so much older in person!!) I wouldn't really say there was a specific theme, because he talked about the doctrine of Christ, our purpose as missionaries, temple work, working with the ward, really just everything! My favorite part was a story he told. You may remember in this last general conference he told a story about the time he operated on a little girl's heart but wasn't able to save her. Then he was asked to operate on her sister, and she also passed away. In this conference talk he mentioned how hard that was for him. Well, in this meeting on Saturday he starts a sentence by saying, "Well, I've never told this before, but...." And goes on to tell how those two girls came to him in a vision and begged him to help them be sealed to their father, who had become inactive and bitter against the church after their deaths. So President Nelson went to work! And after not too long, he was able to seal these children to their parents for time and all eternity. This meeting was so special, and something I will always remember!

I haven't yet mentioned the Tapia family. They are SO prepared to listen to and accept the gospel! They had been taught two or three times before I got here, but in these past few lessons they've started progressing really well. So there is Miguel and Adriana (the grandparents), Daniel and Joanna (the parents), and then Angel, Melissa, and Danny (the kids). They all live together, and are the cutest family EVER! We went over at 8:30 yesterday to help them get ready for church... and we still ended up being half an hour late to sacrament meeting... but THEY CAME!  Joanna had gone out night before to buy a dress to wear, all the boys had their collared shirts. But what's even better is THEY LIKED IT!! We went over last night to have a lesson and they kept saying how nice all the members are, how quickly it went by, how much they learned. The kids kept talking about how good the muffins were that they got in primary haha. Ahhh it was perfect. They have a baptismal date for February 14th, and I really do think they are going to be ready!

A random family appeared in our area book app on the iPad, so we went over to try them on Tuesday! Ashley, who's 16, answered the door and she let us in to teach her and her SIX SIBLINGS! So Hna Bushman and I got all excited and we taught them a fun restoration lesson with cool visuals and all that (the parents weren't home so we just taught the kids). And when we get to the Book of Mormon one of the kids was like "Hey! We have some of those!" Then they started telling us how they've met with missionaries before. So Hermana Bushman asked them if the missionaries had asked them to be baptized before! And everyone just looked at her and you could almost hear the crickets in the room until one finally said, "We are baptized!" Hah we had just taught them the whole first lesson like they were investigators! Whoops! The parents didn't get baptized, and there is an 8 year old who isn't baptized, so it actually ended up all working out. Since that first lesson we've gone over a few more times and had some really fun lessons. We acted out Nefi getting the brass plates, and we brought treats to quiz them about Joseph Smith. The 8-year-old loves it and already wants to get baptized! The parents aren't so sure about it yet, but we'll keep working with them.

Wednesday I went on exchanges with Sister Rachuna. She was feeling sick and we had to stay in the apartment half the day, so that was a bummer. But I did get to meet a few of their investigators which is helpful now that I can put a face with their name!

Ahhh I have so much more I could tell about this week, but I think I'll just wrap up by saying that I truly love being here with all my heart. I can honestly say I've never been so happy in my whole entire life! One thing that stuck out to me from President Nelson's talk was when he said "If we keep doing what we've always done, we'll never be better than we've ever been."

Love always,
Hermana Baker

Hermana Chavez taught us how to make the yummiest tacos in the whole world.

Week 30: Pasadena, TX

Alrighty! Coming to you live from PASADENA, TEXAS. My area is called Pasadena North, and we cover north Pasadena (obviously), Deer Park, and La Porte. My new companion is Hermana Bushman! She is from American Fork, and has been on her mission about 4 months. So she just got out of training and I'm her follow-up trainer. She is really hardworking and super funny so we're getting along great! This week was super hard, but super successful!

-The first day Hermana Bushman and I sat down and she told me about all the people we are teaching. Which didn't take long because there are only five (FIVE!) investigators, and none are progressing. Suuuuuper different than West Lake Houston, where we had five progressing investigators, and some 20 something others. So this week we really hit the pavement and did A LOT of finding. It was successful though, and we found and taught 10 new investigators, plus found a lot more to go back and teach this week.

-WORLDWIDE MISSIONARY CONFERENCE. Wednesday a missionary conference was held with all the missionaries in the world! We listened to Neil L. Andersen, David A. Bednar, Dallin H. Oaks, and some other general authorities. The main theme was teaching repentance and baptizing converts. It was really inspiring and motivating, and I learned a lot of things that I want to take and apply into my missionary work. But at the same time, everything they talked about is in Preach My Gospel! This book really is revelation and inspired from God.

-We set some really high goals for our zone, so we focused our zone meeting on Friday about HOW to reach these goals. Sister Burgoyne, the other STL, and I taught together about planting our roots in Preach My Gospel. The zone leaders taught about the importance of the Holy Ghost, and the district leaders taught about our attitude and faith. Basically just expanding on the things we learned a few days earlier in the conference. I think it went really well, and I'm excited to see the success in our zone that will come this transfer!

It was hard to be transferred, but after being here just one week I know that this is where the Lord needs me to be!

Have a super good week! I love you a lot!!

Love always,
Hermana Samantha Baker

The first night together, Hermana Bushman and I are getting ready for bed, when we realized we were wearing almost-matching nighties! (Mine has sheep, hers has dogs, other than that they are identical.) We were meant to be.

Week 29: Beautiful Downtown Channelview

Welp, my time has come to an end here in West Lake Houston South. I have honestly loved spending the past 6 months here and the ward, recent converts, and investigators have become my home and family. Like always, the Lord has given us a few extra blessings this week :)

First, we had four investigators at church yesterday! Darlin introduced us to her sister-in-law last week, and we've started teaching her about the church. Her name is Stephanie, and sh is just soaking up the gospel. She is married but her husband doesn't show any interest. She also has three kids, one who is 10, one who is turning 8 this week, and then one who is 6. We had invited her and her family to church and she said she would have to talk to her husband about it. The next day she texted us saying that he told her no. But us misioneras don't take no for an answer! We drove straight over to her house, and asked him ourselves. And then he said yes! The next morning Darlin and Oscar and their 4 kids, and then Stephanie and her 3 kids all piled into one car and were there 20 minutes early to church. I was sooooooo happy beyond words. Everything worked out just perfect! She's reluctant to accept a specific baptismal date, but we know that she will get there soon, especially with the support from Darlin. :)

At the beginning of this past week, we got a call from a member asking us to go visit her friend and convince her not to get an abortion. Talk about a life or death situation. We were so nervous and had no idea what we were going to say! We never ended up meeting her face to face, but we talked with her on the phone, and another member helped us to find some quotes and things to text her about how much God loves her. Honestly, I never found out what happened, which makes me think she went through with it, but I hope that one day when she does get the chance to actually listen to the gospel she'll remember this first experience with the church and want to continue to learn more. It really made me think about not only the importance of life, but the huge impact our decisions can have on the lives of others!

Hermana Villareal thrives off of helping us choose a street to knock for Hour of Power. When we first showed up for dinner, she was mentioning something about Pecan something, that for some reason the word Pecan was stuck in her head. So we look up all the Pecan streets in our area and turns out there are a ton! (Who would have guessed?) Pecan Grove Street, Rustic Pecan Lane, Twisted Pecan Court, the list goes on and on and on. Then, after dinner Hermana Villareal told us we should go look for the family Trevino because they used to be really active, but haven't been to church in a long time. We looked up where they lived and guess where. PECAN STREET! Needless to say, we went straight to Pecan Street to see what miracles the Lord had in store for us there, because it's obviously where we needed to be! The Trevinos told us to come back another time because they were busy right then, so we decided to knock the trailers across the street. And we came across a guy named Jorge who's actually a member! He's what we call like to call a lost sheep. He was baptized in Mexico a long time ago, but hasn't been in years. We were able to get all his information to move his records over to this ward, and maybe we can get in to start to teach his wife and kids who aren't members! What a miracle!

What a blessing it has been to serve these people. I will never forget the people I have met and the lessons I have learned. I won't find out where I will be serving until today at transfer meeting, but I know that wherever I go, it's where the Lord needs me! I am going to be the STL (sister training leader) of my new zone which was super surprising to me because I barely have six months in the mission! I feel super inadequate to help the other sisters when I hardly know how to be a missionary myself, but I'll just give it my best and go from there!

On a mission the bad times outnumber the good times, but the good times outweigh the bad times. And that makes it all worth it :)

Love always,
Hermana Baker
We literally were parked on their grass 2 inches and for 20 minutes. Some people.

We found this sweet mural! "Beautiful Downtown Channelview." Which is funny, cause Channelview really is not that beautiful, and there's no downtown....

The city, the Texans, the Rockets, NASA... I LOVE HOUSTON!!

The obispado of the West Lake Houston ward. Love these guys.

 The elders tried to convince us that it was a mission rule now to wear helmets in the car for extra safety. Don't worry, we're not that gullible, but we did get a good laugh when they pulled up to church Sunday wearing their helmets :)

Week 28: You Can Call Me Hermana Matchmaker

Hola hola!

I sat down to write this email, and realized this whole week has been a blur! We have kept busy and finally got in with many of our investigators who we hadn't seen over the holidays, so that's good! But other than that, nothing super out of the ordinary. So here's a couple updates on the work:

HUGO told us he wasn't ready to be baptized this week so we were like alright, let's choose another date and work towards that! We pulled out the calendar, and gave it to him. After a few minutes of him studying the calendar, he said "I know what day I'm going to be baptized. April 10th." Sister Casas (we were on exchanges) and I just looked at each other, and then looked at Hugo, then looked at each other again. April is in FOUR MONTHS! We were positive he would choose a date sometime in the next month, but no. He's a truck driver so goes out of town for long periods of time, but when he gets back we're going to do everything possible to move his date up a little sooner!

JULIAN, I don't know if I've talked about him! He is in his 50s, recently divorced, and compares himself to Job a lot because he feels like he's lost almost everything. He hasn't made it to church yet, but he has a baptismal date in February and knows the Book of Mormon is true! Hooray!! We have such high hopes for him, and we know that the gospel is coming at just the perfect moment in his life.

DARLIN and OSCAR are still working so they can get baptized. We are super looking forward to their baptism, and they are coming to church every week! Today is their son Oscarito's 7th birthday, so we're going over tonight to have a noche de hogar/fiesta de cumpleanos with them!

Oooo about the title. Well, as you know, we teach a lot of these single, Hispanic men. And just so happens that there are quite a few single, Hispanic women in our ward! PERFECT!! Haha I am always trying to get them to come out to lessons with our investigators/recent converts. Flirt to convert, right? (JUST KIDDING THAT'S BAD!) We invite them with us because we need another woman to be able to teach the lesson inside their house instead of teaching it outside in the cold. Plus they are awesome at helping us fellowship and teach lessons! But. It's turned into this big broma that I'm the Hermana Matchmaker :)

The mission has been putting a big push on using Preach My Gospel. Now, with our iPads we have a limitless number of resources -- videos, manuals, general conferences, magazines, the list goes on and on. If we were to press print on the gospel library, how many pages do you think it would be? We'd be printing forever! What's so amazing is that the church has condensed all of the most important doctrine from these millions of articles, and put the most important points into a small book called Preach My Gospel. It was made specifically to help missionaries, so we better use it to it's full capacity! Everything in the Gospel Library is good, and even great, but we need the best. It's so easy to get distracted in all the "good" in the world that we don't make the time to do what is BEST! Hopefully that made sense.

The mission is the greatest. Happy birthday this week, Andrew!!

Love always,

Hermana Baker

Somehow we got stuck behind this same train TWICE in the same 20 minutes.

Julian accidentally locked his keys, Libro de Mormon, and glasses all in his room! We spent a good 10 minutes trying to open this door, but to no avail. We had a great lesson, nevertheless!

Week 27: Bienvenidos 2016!

I think it might be pretty safe to say that this week has been the longest week of my mission yet. We didn't get a lot of lessons in, with it being the holidays and all. Half of our investigators were in Mexico, and the other half had family visiting from Mexico, but nevertheless we saw miracles like always :)

On Saturday we were in a part of our area that we never really go to because of how far away it is. The referral we were trying to contact wasn't home, and her daughter said to come back in two hours. So we spent those two hours walking, contacting, knocking, and hunting down less actives and formers. After the two hours were up, we had just finished talking to some really rude, drunk guys and it had put me in mood where I just didn't want to talk to anyone anymore. As we were walking back to the car, we passed these guys who were sitting in their driveway. Usually, we would go up and talk to them, but we just didn't feel like it, plus it was time to go to the next appointment, so we waved but kept walking. That's when the one guy, his name is Marcus, yelled out at us, "Hey! How are y'all doin'?" And next thing I know we're walking up his driveway and talking with him about the gospel (by this time all his family had gone inside). Marcus is in his early 30's, tattoos all up his arms and neck, and has gone through some hard things in his life, but has so much faith in God. He told us how the night before he had written down his prayers, in the form of a letter, to God. So he went inside and brought back out these prayers and let us read them. They were all talking to God, asking God to guide him and bring him truth and a shoulder to lean on. And what are the chances that the very next day, we would be walking down his street?! We told him that God sent us to him, gave him a Book of Mormon, shared a couple scriptures from it, and got his information to give to the English elders in the area. This man is so prepared not only to hear the gospel message, but also to act on it, so we're excited to hear from the elders about his progress. And I can't believe I almost walked right past him! This was a really humbling experience and I learned a good lesson from it. God personally knows every single one of his children. And as a missionaries, we have the responsibility to share His love and gospel with everyone! Even if we're in a bad mood, even if we're late to an appointment, even if they don't look like the "Mormon-type". Everyone needs the gospel.

Other good news... Hugo can be baptized! Hermana Browning and I started screaming and jumping up and down when we got the call with the news. We saw Hugo that night, and he was excited, too! But yesterday when we talked to him on the phone, he started getting scared, and saying he's not ready, he's too busy, he still doesn't know, stuff like that. We did our best we could to explain to him that if he prays and sincerely asks, that God will tell him he needs to get baptized and that he's ready. If y'all would please keep Hugo in your prayers, we would greatly appreciate it! And maybe we'll see a baptism in the next week or two!

Hopefully the missionary work will start to pick back up this week, now that the holidays are over! Thank y'all for your support and your prayers. THE CHURCH IS TRUE!

Love always,
Hermana Baker
I accidentally got our car completely stuck in the mud.. Some Mexicans had to hook us up to their little pick-up and tow us out. So embarrassing.

If only all dogs were as cute as this one...

Week 26: Feliz Navidad, Prospero Año y Felicidad

Christmas on the mission was definitely different and not what I'm used to, but it was such a good and memorable Christmas all the same. It was hard to teach people this week, even though they had work off, because so many of them went to Mexico or had family come to visit. So we ended up doing a lot of service this week instead! We helped Luis clean up his yard, we learned how to make tamales from Obispo, we went Christmas caroling, we played the piano at the nursing home, we took cookies to our investigators. I could definitely feel the spirit of Christmas as we spent so much time serving others. Also it was so good to skype home! I was so happy to see that not much has changed (except for Andrew's voice!) and it was so hard to hang up. Mother's Day is just 5 months away!

Darlin and Oscar made it to church again. Carlos was there as well, like always. When we taught him this week, he gave Hermana Browning and I matching sweaters for Christmas! It was such a sweet and thoughtful gesture. In that same lesson, he helped us convince our recent convert Geronimo that he needs to wear a white shirt and tie to church. Carlos is so ready to be baptized. People in the ward are surprised when they find out that he's not a member! After church, Carlos asked us if he could participate in passing or blessing the sacrament. We explained to him that you have to have the priesthood to do that, which will come after his baptism, and we could tell he was a little disappointed. We will be praying extra hard for him this week for some sort of miracle to happen so that he can be baptized soon.

We almost had some of our other investigators come to church, but they flaked out at the last minute. I've been thinking about that word a lot lately -- almost. If our investigators almost make it to church, they'll almost feel of the Spirit there. If we almost stop to talk to someone, they'll almost be introduced to the Mormon church. If we almost keep the commandments, we'll almost receive the blessings. Almost is never enough! And so, with that, I want to encourage all y'all to make goals for this next year, and then work hard to achieve them!

What a blessing it is to be out on a mission! Hard to believe I hit my 6 month mark this past week. There is no greater joy than sharing the good news :)

Love always,
Hermana Samantha Baker
Sister Melton came to West Lake Houston on exchanges! Geronimo bought us ice cream from this super sketchy ice cream van, so of course we had to take a picture.

Making tamales! This is definitely gonna become a tradition. 

Christmas morning, Patriarch Stuart and his wife invited all the missionaries in the area over for breakfast.

Carlos and our matching sweaters!

Week 25: 'Tis the Season of Tamales

Feliz Navidad! I am so so so soooooo excited to talk to y'all on Christmas! That's only 4 days away!! We had a super exciting week this week, so here I'll share the highlights.

-Wednesday was the mission's CHRISTMAS CONFERENCE. The whole mission gets together and we are fed both physically and spiritually :) A few members of the mission presidency spoke to us, and then a few members were invited to come and share their conversion story, including Obispo Morales. Obispo has only been a member ten years, and four of those years has been as bishop! So crazy!! We never know someone's full potential, or the impact the Gospel will have on their life. Then we all watched The Cokeville Miracle (and yes, I cried haha). If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it! A beautiful and inspiring story about the power of prayer.

-We had a MINI MISSIONARY. Here, priest/laurels have the opportunity to serve a "mini mission" where they go out with the missionaries for a 3 day mission. Our mini's name was Hermana Kelly Santos, from Kingwood. We had a special circumstance, though, because she just moved here to Texas from BRAZIL about 4 months ago. So hardly spoke any English. I actually was pretty impressed at how much English she had picked up these past few months though! And between Enlgish, Spanish, and Portuguese we were all able to communicate. During the lessons, she couldn't really participate because she doesn't speak Spanish, but she said she understood about 80% of what was being said! It was hard saying goodbye to her, because we became such good friends in these three short days. It was amazing to see how many miracles happened over the weekend she was here. God wants these youth to serve missions, so He's going to make sure they have a good and successful experience! And it worked! By the end, she said she's for sure going on a mission :)

-Saturday night was the WARD CHRISTMAS FIESTA. So many tamales. And a super yummy Mexican treat called bunuelo. Mmmmmmm. We even got a special visit from Santa!

-We volunteered at Legend Oaks Assisted Living and helped out with their Christmas party. What a special time to be able to sing and play the piano and pass out Christmas gifts and cookies to all the residents there.

-Had to take a quick trip to the doctor because my dog bite got infected... :( But he prescribed me some medicine and it's looking a lot better! Don't worry mom!

-MIRACLE ALERT. Sunday we had spent all morning driving around to our investigators' houses to help them come to church, but had zero success. So we arrive at church a little disappointed, but we had tried as hard as we possible could! Then, after Sacrament meeting, a Hermano comes up to me, and says Darlin is here with her family! Darlin is a former who we have been trying to contact for a long long long long time, but could never get a hold of her. Her kids were all baptized about a year ago. Almost immediately after the kids' baptisms the whole family went inactive :( But here she was at church with her whole family! What a miracle! She told me she's ready to start coming back to church, so we have a Noche de Hogar planned with them tonight!

I wish you all a very merry Christmas. Thanks to everyone who has sent me cards this Christmas, I love hearing from you! I will talk to you sooooooon :)

Love always,
Hermana Samantha Baker
Christmas selfie with our three arbolitas (thanks Mom for the Christmas packages!)

Christmas party at Legend Oaks

Yay Santa!

Week 24: Dogs Smell Fear

First of all, we had a mini miracle happen Wednesday night. Hermana Browning was driving that day, meaning I was in charge of the phone. We pull into the parking lot that night and can't find the phone anywhere! We had the elders, who live a couple apartments down, call it while we looked all through the car, but it definitely wasn't there. So we said a prayer, and then started to retrace our steps. The first place we looked was at a random house we had stopped at, and the phone must have fell out of the car when I was getting out. We had parked on the side of the road, half-way in a ditch. The miracle was that within two minutes of looking we found the phone, it had fallen about half-way down the ditch, was covered by leaves and grass, and somehow we found it without even looking very hard. What a blessing.

Thursday. It was 8:45 and we were walking down this street trying to find a less-active's house before heading home for the night. So we were walking, walking, and up the street a ways a car was speeding toward us and we saw it hit a dog! We heard the yelp, saw the dog crumple in the street and everything, but the car just kept zooming past. We saw the dog get up and limp off to the side of the road. Okay. Walking, walking, and as we got close to where the dog was hit, we saw it with three other dogs on the side of the road. Then, all the dogs saw us and started barking and growling and at that moment both my flight and my fight reactions decided not to work and I just stood there and was terrified. So Hermana Browning grabbed my arm and dragged me back away from the dogs, but it was too late and the dogs charged toward us. The biggest one bit my leg. But at that moment, a man from across the street came out of his garage and scared off the dogs for us. He was so kind and brought out his wife and a bandage to help me clean up my leg. (Thank goodness we speak Spanish so we could talk to them!) And as they were helping me, we got a chance to share the gospel with them! The hermana had been to the Mormon church a few times when she was younger and living in California, but she told us that she didn't like that we worshiped Jose Smith instead of Jesus Christ. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. We pulled up Ha Nacido Un Salvador on our iPad and shared it with them, and helped clarify that of course we believe in Jesus Christ! It was getting late, and we had to go, but they told us we could come back after the holidays to teach them more :) So although I got attacked by a pit bull, I got a pretty legit battle wound and we got an opportunity to share the gospel that we otherwise would have missed. Hooray!

Stake Conference this weekend was super awesome! They talked about councils, and how all members of a council have to work together for it to be effective. I thought family council was just something weird that my family did, but nope! Turns out that every family is supposed to have a family council, so good job Mom and Dad!

Hermana Browning had to go through and drop a lot of our investigators this week, which was really hard. Most of them were people who liked us and didn't mind us coming over, but they weren't keeping commitments or doing their part. So although we were teaching a lot of lessons, we didn't feel that it was the best use of our time. It took a lot of faith to clear out our teaching pool, but we know there are people here who ARE ready to hear the gospel and make commitments! We just need to find them! These coming weeks are going to be full of lots of knocking and contacting and being guided by the Spirit so that we can build back up our teaching pool.

This week was one for the books. Now, onward and upward!

Hermana Baker

(Sorry, no pictures this week because ummm... We didn't take any. Whoops.)