Well, I made it to Australia safely!! Sorry that you had to wait so long to hear from me. I would have contacted you earlier if I had been able to. But yeah, I'm here safely and everything is going well!
So Sunday was my last day in Houston and it was great. I was sad to say goodbye to some of the ward members there. Ronesia came to church which was so awesome! Sunday night we took her to an investigator devotional which was super good and exactly what she needed to hear! She started crying when I had to say goodbye to her which made me cry as well. I really had a special connection with her so it was sad to say goodbye. But she will be getting baptized soon and they promised to send me pictures so it's all good.
Monday morning was busy, busy, busy, as I was getting my laundry done and packing everything up. Since our car was still in the shop Sister Adams and her companions came to pick me up at 10:00 to head to the mission office. We got to the mission office about 10:30 where we met Sister Morton and picked up our passports, visas and travel plans. Then we loaded our stuff into the van and headed to the airport. We had a little bit of time in the airport so Sister Adams and I bought lunch, and bought t-shirts that say, "I'd rather be in Houston Texas."
|Sister Baker and sisters from MTC headed to Melbourne|
|Sister Baker & Companion|
from the MTC
We flew on United Airlines to San Francisco. When we got to San Francisco the first thing we did was check the flight boards to find out where our gate for the next flight was. We headed down to the gate to see if any of the other missionaries were there but they weren't so we went and found the arrivals boards to see about flights coming in from Eugene, Oregon. We saw that there was a flight that had landed about 10 minutes after ours so we headed down towards the arrivals gates. We came around a corner and saw sisters from my district at the MTC at the end of the hall. We all dropped everything and started running! It was SO good to see them again! My MTC companion and I both started crying. Haha, pure happiness. It felt kind of like coming home because I feel like we all became family in the MTC. After some pictures and chatter we went to get dinner and just talk and catch up on the past 6 weeks. Then we went back down towards the gate for our flight and we saw Elder Sargent and Sister Newitt! Another happy surprise! After some more catching up we all went to find payphones and call home. It was so good to talk to all of you! By the time we were finished calling home it was time to board our flight on Air New Zealand to Auckland. Wow, nice plane! Each row was a group of three seats, then an aisle, then a group of four seats, then another aisle, then another group of three seats. Sister Adams and I were on row 64 and everyone else was on row 65, the very back two rows of the air plane. Each seat has its own personal screen that you can watch movies and listen to music and everything. Too bad we're missionaries or that would have been really nice to use ;). About an hour into our flight they fed us dinner. Then we all chatted and tried to stay up for the first 4 hours because we had heard that's how you beat jet lag. Then we all tried to sleep. It is hard to sleep on an airplane but I was able to get several hours of good sleep and then a couple more hours of broken up sleep.
At some point we passed the international date line. I had no sense of time at all so I just started thinking Australia time. About 2 hours before we landed in Auckland they fed us breakfast. I was surprised to get two meals in one flight. Air New Zealand is awesome! They treated us like royalty! When we landed in Auckland we all went to find bathrooms and freshen up a little bit after our LONG flight. All of us sisters had our make up with us which was good. When we got down to our gate we saw a big group of missionaries that had just left the New Zealand MTC to go to Melbourne so that was fun to meet up with them. Our flight to Melbourne was good too. I spent most of the time writing in my journal.
|Sister Baker with President & Sister Lifferth|
When we landed in Melbourne we had to go through customs and everything but that went really smoothly and only took about 15 minutes. When we were all getting our luggage all of us American sisters each had our 3 suitcases. All the Australians and New Zealanders only had 1 each! I'm pretty sure they all thought that we were super high maintenance. Haha, oh well. We met President and Sister Lifferth at the baggage claim and they are amazing! So loving! We all piled on a bus and took about an hour ride to the mission office. The mission office shares a parking lot with the temple so we got to see the temple too! When we got there all of our trainers were there. Elder Cowser who went to Davis High School was there so it was good to see him! First we had lunch and then we went over rules and policies. Then they gave us our companionship assignments. My trainer is from the Philippines. She is pint size! Seriously I think she's under 5 feet tall. She is a really great missionary and really has a love for the work. We are VERY different people but I am loving her! She's hilarious. And she really has a desire to work hard.
After we met our trainers they went over more rules and then we had a testimony meeting. It was awesome. Missionaries are the greatest people to be around because the spirit it always so strong! After dinner they had us go home to unpack and get settled in and get some sleep! I picked up my bedding packet at the mission office. It is $275 so I had to go to an ATM and withdraw $300. Will you make sure that everything is going through okay at the bank? And let me know. The bedding is super nice. My duna [comforter] is huge and nice and fluffy!
|Sister Baker and companion|
My companion and I are serving in the Churchill Park South area. We cover half of the Churchill Park ward and a set of elders covers the other half. My trainer and I are both new in the area so we don't have a lot to go off of yet. We have the names of a couple people that the previous sisters were meeting with but neither of those people can meet until this weekend so we have spent a lot of our time stopping by the members’ homes so that we can meet them and doing a LOT of tracting. Compared to Texas, Australia is hard! In Texas everyone had some sort of religious belief so it was easy to get them to show some interest. Not so much in Australia. So many of the people that we meet are atheists. We get a lot of doors slammed in our faces and a lot of "I'm not interested, thanks." But it's okay. I know that as we keep working hard and doing all that we can to be exactly obedient and exercise faith Heavenly Father will place people in our paths that are prepared to hear the gospel.
We have a really big area so we have a car. My companion doesn't have a license so I am the driver. On Thursday (my second day here) we went back to the mission office and they had me take my driving test and then handed me the keys. It's definitely different to be driving on the wrong side of the road but I've adjusted pretty quickly and now it seems normal. But I did buy a GPS because my comp isn't very good with maps and it is super frustrating to not know where you are going. It cost $75 but it has been totally worth it.
The members here are AMAZING! So loving! Especially the Islanders! I am loving them! Church yesterday was great. They had me bear my testimony in church which was great.
We share a flat with another set of sisters. One sister is from Perth and the other is from Brisbane. I absolutely LOVE them and I love sharing the flat with them.
I haven't been able to buy a blow dryer or anything yet so I have using what the other sisters have. It's not very humid here so I have just been straightening my hair. I am going to buy a curling iron today though because none of the sisters have one and it's a lot faster to be able to just curl my hair.
The accent here is great! I am slowly learning Australian terms. In the car the Boot= trunk and the Bonnet= hood. Everyone always says "how are you going?" A jumper is a sweater. Everyone always says, sweet as, cold as, hot as, etc. You just add an “as” to everything. They also say heaps all the time. For example "I've got heaps of stuff to do." I love it. I seriously hope I sound like an Aussie when I get home.
I'm about out of time so I've got to go. The church is true. I know it, live it and love it.
Love you heaps!!