Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 15, 2013 Letter - Pictures and Baptism!

April 15, 2013

Hello Family!! 

I have been so excited to email you all and let you know about everything that is going on here! Not hearing anything from anyone since Tuesday has been killing me! (Too bad you can't get Dear Elder letters in 1 day like you can in the MTC.)

Well, I made it to Houston safely! Our flight from Dallas to Houston was way short, like 40 minutes in the air. When we landed in Houston we got off the plane and we headed towards the baggage claim. President and Sister Ashton were there waiting for us. What incredible people! They are both so Christ-like. They have been here since July and run a pretty tight ship which is so great because there is SO much work to do. We took a group picture at the baggage claim, found our luggage and headed out to the cars. We loaded all of the luggage into the trailer and everyone piled into the cars. We went straight to one of the churches right around downtown Houston where we met some of the Elders and Sisters that are serving here.

After a quick devotional, they paired each of the new missionaries up with one of the Elders or Sisters and sent us out "running." Basically it means you have 30 minutes to get out and talk to whoever you can and OYM (open your mouth). It was crazy to jump into missionary work that quickly but I really enjoyed it! It was HOT though! I wore a cardigan which was a bad idea, I was dying.

After that we all got back into the cars and went to the mission home. We got to meet President and Sister Ashton's seven kids. There's 6 boys and 1 girl, ages 14 to 9 months. I can't imagine having to raise a family and be mission presidents at the same time. That takes a pretty amazing person. Anyway, while we were there I had to get into the trailer and pull out my suitcases and throw together a quick overnight bag. Everyone else had packed one because Pres. Ashton had emailed them and told them to, but since Sis. Adams and I found out so late that we were coming to Houston, we didn't get that memo. But I got the things I needed and it wasn't a big deal. We went over rules with the Assistants, wrote letters home, and had interviews with President and Sister Ashton. Then we all had dinner together and then had a testimony meeting. It was really neat to hear everyone's testimonies and how excited everyone is to get out and work. By the time that was over, it was time to head out and go to bed. The Sisters stayed at Sister Morten's home (she's like the mission secretary/financial/travel person). Holy cow, her home is BEAUTIFUL and my bed was SOOO comfortable!

Sis. Baker and Companions
Wednesday morning we got up early and headed to the church where the mission offices are and had breakfast and some more training/rules. After that we met our trainers. My trainer is from San Diego. We are in a trio. At first I was a little worried about it. I didn't feel like we were connecting very well and I was worried. But with a few days’ time it has gotten good. I love them both and we work really well together! About 1:00 pm we left the church and headed to our apartment to drop off my stuff. I am serving in the Memorial West Ward in the Richmond Zone. It's right in Houston. I am loving it here and the people here too! We have had some really cool teaching opportunities and I am learning so much! And the members are pretty good about making dinner for us too which is nice. We cover half of the ward and there are Elders who have the other half.

It rained most of Wednesday and Thursday and I wore my coat because it cooled off a lot but Friday-today have been warm again. Not too hot yet which is nice.

We are teaching a family (a couple and two children ages 9 and 6). We taught them the law of chastity on Thursday and they were really receptive to it. The only problem is that this couple has never been married because she is from Mexico and doesn't have her birth certificate or some paperwork. So we asked them to find time to go downtown and get the papers that they need. Unfortunately, on Friday, they got in a huge fight and he said it was over between them and that he was only staying around for the kids. The mother wants to leave him because he is abusive so now she will be meeting with the bishop and figuring things out. But she brought the kids with her and still really wants to be baptized so hopefully everything works out. 

On Saturday we had a baptism!! Devi got baptized. It was such a beautiful day! I got to teach her her final lesson on Thursday and then we had her baptismal interview on Saturday. She is someone who the Lord really prepared. She found the church, we didn't find her. She saw that the church said Jesus Christ so she decided to come. On her second week there she paid tithing which is how they found out that she isn't a member. So they referred her to the missionaries. She was absolutely glowing on Saturday and then yesterday when she was confirmed! It was cool to start my mission with a baptism. Now I know how awesome it feels and will be working that much harder to get people ready for baptism. 

The ward is definitely different than being in Utah but it's good. There are a lot of really awesome members. I am loving it here in Houston! Still praying for my visa to come but loving it here in the meantime. Also, I REALLY miss my MTC companion. I feel like half of me is missing. She was SUCH a blessing in the MTC.

I love you all and I really miss you! I know that this church is true. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and is VERY aware of us. He listens to and answers our prayers. I've seen that so many times in the last four days. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I am reading it differently than I ever have before and I am learning so much!

All my love,
Sister Baker

P.S. - My address is:

12951 Brairforest Drive Apt. 1203
Houston, Texas 77077

Pictures from the MTC!

Sis. Baker and her MTC Companion
Sis. Tanner, Sis. Benjamin and Sis. Baker
(the three cousins going to Australia - at the MTC)

Sis. Baker's District at MTC on their arrival day

Sis Baker and her District at the MTC

Sis. Baker and her District with their MTC Teacher
Sis. Baker and Sis. Adams
 (both temporarily reassigned to Texas Houston South Mission)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sister Baker Arrives in Texas Houston South Mission

President & Sister Ashton and Family
with incoming missionaries 4/9/13
Houston Texas South Mission

April 9, 2013

Dear Family!

Well, I made it to Houston safely! We flew from SLC to Dallas, where I got to talk to mom and dad. Then we had a VERY short flight from Dallas to Houston. Seriously, as soon as we got up to cruising speeds then we were descending again.

We landed in Houston, got off the plane, and headed to the baggage claim where we met President and Sister Ashton. I absolutely love them already! We all got our luggage and loaded it into a trailer. They handed us sack lunches and we loaded into the car. We went to a church building in the mission and had a quick devotional then they sent us out “running” with some of the missionaries. Basically running is going out and doing OYM (Open Your Mouth). So we all just spread out from the church and contacted as many people as possible. It was awesome to have a real teaching experience so soon.

Then we went to the mission home. President and Sister Ashton have a BEAUTIFUL home! They are so sweet! They have seven kids that we will meet later.

It’s 5:00 pm and I’m already exhausted. It is HOT and HUMID here. Goodbye cardigans! I am so happy and I love it here. I’ll meet my trainer tomorrow! Hopefully she is GREAT! I love you all! I’ll try to send pictures on P-day on Monday! Write me emails!

All my love,
Sister Baker J

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sister Baker's Headed to Texas!

We got a short phone call last night from Lauren to tell us that she is being temporarily reassigned to the Texas Houston South mission until her visa for Australia comes.  She is being very positive about the reassignment and is anxious to do whatever she is asked to do. She will leave the MTC at 3 am on Tuesday morning. Her cousins have also been reassigned while awaiting their visas.  Sister Tanner is headed to Kennewick, Washington, and Sister Benjamin to Jackson, Mississippi. 

Second Letter from MTC

April 2, 2013

Dear Family,

I am realizing now why missionaries love mail so much. It is seriously the best part of the day.

So basically I LOVE the MTC. This past week has been amazing! I am surprised at how much I love it here! I'll try to give you as much detail as possible with the time that I have.

So Wednesday after you dropped me off at the curb they took me inside to get my name tags, books, etc. Then a host Sister took me to my room long enough to drop off my suitcases then she took me to my classroom. When I got here there were just my two teachers in there and one Elder but slowly everyone started showing up. We had some time to get to know each other which was fun. My companion is amazing. We get along so well and really work well together and I feel like we are best friends. Such a blessing to have her as a companion. My district is AMAZING! I love each and every one of them. There are 8 of us in our district. Three other sisters and I are all going to Melbourne. Then the four elders are all going to Fresno California. Their mission president is Larry Gelwix (the Highland Rugby coach). Oh and wanna know something crazy? One elder got his call 7 days before the MTC! Crazy huh? He only had a week to get everything done. Oh man, I can't even imagine how stressful that would be. He is our district leader and he is amazing. I consider him the gentle giant because he is tall and so kind and loving to everyone. And he is so helpful because he knows a lot because he already served a 3 month mini-mission in Las Vegas. Sweet huh?  Our district and the district in the classroom next to us are all really good friends. We do stuff together a lot and we always eat together so it's really fun. The other district is four sisters and one elder all going to Melbourne. Then there's an Elder going to Fresno with the Elders in our district and two Elders going to Adelaide Australia. Anyway, I love each and every one of them.

So yeah, on Wednesday after we all got to know each other, we went to a meeting to meet the MTC presidency. Then we had dinner and then we headed to our first teaching experience. On our way there, I saw Sister Tanner and Sister Benjamin! [Lauren’s cousins] It was so good to see them! That was actually the first time that I got emotional all day. I have been able to see them every day which is so fun! They are getting bored here and ready to leave but it sounds like they are going to get reassigned. It wasn't until after it was dark on Wednesday that we finally got back to our room and got unpacked.

The spirit is SO strong here at the MTC! It's incredible. My companion and I talked about that it's so strong we feel like we can reach out and touch it—seriously, so amazing. We spend a majority of our time each day in our classroom either doing personal study or being taught by our teachers. Our teachers are Brother Adams and Brother Rasmussen and they are INCREDIBLE! I learn SO much from them every single day. I'm particularly grateful for Brother Rasmussen. The way he teaches makes it so easy for me to connect with him and he teaches me so much. He also is really good at calming my fears and helping me overcome what I consider to be weaknesses. If it weren't for him, I'd be really struggling here.

So two really cool experiences I want to tell you about.

Saturday morning Brother Rasmussen was having us role play and practice teaching about how the Gospel blesses families. He told us about an investigator, Amy, that we were to use for the role play. All he told us about Amy was that she was married, had a son, worked as an RN and that her dad had been a preacher but she didn't get along well with her family. So my companion and I were role playing- she was the missionary and I was Amy. She was testifying to me really beautifully about how the gospel blesses families and was about to ask "does that make sense?" but Bro. Rasmussen stopped her and told her not to ask that but to ask an inspired question. She paused for a minute or so and then asked Amy (me) "how have you seen the gospel bless your extended family?" I didn't know how to answer the question but I immediately felt the spirit so strong. Brother Rasmussen looked at us in shock and asked Sister Ricks how she knew to ask that. She said that she didn't know and Brother Rasmussen said, "you just received revelation." He then proceeded to tell us that Amy's husband was a member of the church but had been inactive for a long time but that his family was all really active and they would take Amy's son to church sometimes. Sister Ricks and I both burst into tears. I truly know that Heavenly Father will bless us with revelation that we need for our investigators.

The other cool experience happened yesterday. Yesterday was the hardest day that I've had at the MTC so far. We had two lessons with investigators that both didn't go the way that I wanted them to and I felt like I had failed. At one point I was in tears feeling so frustrated that I feel like I know so much and I want the investigators that we are teaching to be able to understand but I feel like my words get mixed up and I can't convey things the way that I want to. Brother Rasmussen really helped to calm those frustrations and I realized that I was being fearful. Fear is the opposite of faith. I realized that I needed to quit thinking about myself and that I needed to just have faith that Heavenly Father will bless me and put words into my mouth if I am willing to trust him. Even though yesterday was tough, I learned so much and I'm grateful for the hard day. It was really humbling and made me realize that I have to put my trust in Heavenly Father.

Easter here was amazing. Bishop Causse from the Presiding Bishopric came and spoke at our sacrament meeting. It was an awesome meeting. We also had a devotional Sunday night and Sheri Dew came and spoke. It was incredible. One thing that she said that I thought was really cool was "it takes the elect to gather the elect." I loved that. I really believe it's true. All of the missionaries here are so amazing and I learn so much from them.

This morning we got to go to the temple which was awesome. The Provo Temple is beautiful! 

Oh and as far as Visa information. It looks like they probably aren't coming on time and that we will be getting reassigned—same with Sister Benjamin and Sister Tanner too. We are supposed to find out where we are being reassigned to on Thursday so I'll let you know. If they by some miracle do end up coming, we are supposed to leave Monday at 8:30 pm from SLC and then leave LAX around 11:30 pm. I don't really have any idea what's going on for sure so I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything.

I love you all so much. I know that this church is true. I LOVE being a missionary. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior I have experienced the enabling power of the Atonement.  I can't wait for General Conference this weekend! Enjoy it. It's such an incredible opportunity to be able to hear from our prophet. Eat lots of noodles for me. Oh and since my P-day is Tuesday, I probably won't be emailing next week? So don't be alarmed if you don't hear from me.

All my love,
Sister Baker

First Letter from MTC!

Family picture at Provo Temple right before dropping Lauren off at the MTC.

Lauren at the MTC!
March 28, 2013

Dear Family,

Wow! I can’t believe how much I LOVE the MTC so far! I’ve been happy ever since I got here and the spirit is SO strong. Phillip may want to be able to split his time between the Provo and Peru MTCs so he can experience it here. [Phillip is Lauren’s brother and got his mission call just a few weeks ago to Peru Piura. He enters the Lima Peru MTC on July 17, 2013.] It’s absolutely incredible!

So after you dropped me off I went in to get my books and name tags. I didn’t get many books, just a few pamphlets and things, which is good so I don’t have to stress about weight at the airport! Then I went to meet my companion and district. My companion is such a blessing! I already love her and we just get along so well! There are four elders and four sisters in our district. The sisters are all going to Melbourne and the elders are going to Fresno, California. I love the people in my district and think we will be great together. After that we met the MTC presidency then went to dinner. After dinner as we were walking out of the building, I saw Sister Tanner and Sister Benjamin! [Lauren’s cousins] We ran towards each other and hugged and hugged! While we were hugging I heard Lexie [Sister Benjamin] getting kind of emotional so of course I did too! Seriously it was so good to see them!

After that we had our first teaching experience. It was HARD, but good. After that we met our zone leaders and coordinating sister and they went over rules. Then we went to our rooms to finish unpacking and get ready for bed. I have SO MUCH stuff compared to my companion. Oh well…! We share a room with four sisters who are going to St. Louis. They are quiet but seem really nice. This morning my companion and I got up at 6 am so we beat the rush to the showers. We left our room about 7:15 for the day. That’s an hour and 15 minutes to shower and everything. You should be proud of meJ!

Anyway, things are going great! I love you all so much! Pray to our Heavenly Father. He hears us and wants to know what is going on. The church is true! Write me!

Sister Baker

P.S. Rumor is that all the Melbourne sisters are being reassigned. Supposedly we’ll find out next Thursday. I’ll keep you updated.