Monday, July 22, 2013

A Baptism and Kangaroos! - Melbourne Missionary Moments - 7/21/13

What a great week it has been!! 
Kangaroos Anyone?

Monday afternoon Sister Gonzales, Sister Trego, Sister Roberts and I went to see KANGAROOS! It was so fun! We went to a place called Cardinia Reservoir Park. About 4:00 pm heaps of kangaroos started coming out of the bush. They are such cool animals. I was able to get within about 10 feet of them and we took lots of pictures. We even saw one with a joey in its pouch!
Look at the cute joey

On Wednesday night we had another lesson with an investigator. He is slowly learning more and progressing but at the same time it's really hard. He can't accept the fact that he might be wrong about something so it's hard to know how to help him. He's been meeting with missionaries for almost a year now. We are really praying for him to know what the next step with him is. Yesterday in Ward Council they decided we will all have a fast for him next week that he will have a change of heart and a miracle will happen. 

On Thursday we had interviews with President and Sister Maxwell as well as some training from the APs. President and Sister Maxwell are so amazing. They care so much about all of us as missionaries. It's like having a set of foster parents out here. The APs did some awesome training about working more with the members. We are doing a lot more to get the members involved in the work, especially after the leadership broadcast. Our mission goal for this quarter is 163 baptisms. Our motto is "Members are the Key 163." Unless the members help the missionaries, our success is limited. As missionaries and members work together as a team the success doubles. Our ward is really doing a lot to step up and assist us more in the work. We went to Ward Council on Sunday morning and everyone was so helpful and encouraging. It is so wonderful to have support and help from the ward members. In Texas we didn't really have that and it made things really hard (especially since we weren't allowed to tract there).
This weekend we had four laurels from another stake staying with us for their mini-missionary weekend. Sister G and I had two other sisters with us. They were awesome. They had a go get 'em attitude and worked really hard. We were able to go on splits on Saturday all day with them and we got so much work done. It was great!
Yesterday was the best day of my mission so far because NAOMI GOT BAPTIZED!! Her baptism was last night and it was beautiful. She looked so happy. We had a lot of support from the ward at the baptism too which was so awesome. She is a completely different person than when I met her 16 days ago. The first night when we were in her home I saw a sadness and emptiness in her eyes that broke my heart. But now if you look into her eyes there is such a peace, hope and happiness there. She was truly prepared by the Lord. I never thought someone could be ready for baptism so quickly but she truly was. Every lesson, every commitment we gave her, she just drank everything in. She is amazing. It was such a wonderful night. Her sons came to her baptism and I know that they felt the spirit. I am praying that they will have their hearts softened and have a desire to know more of the gospel and follow their mom's example.
One thing I have been really working on this week is having patience, especially with myself. There's a quote by Sis. Holland that I have been really focusing on in which she said, "Have the courage to be imperfect while striving for perfection." I'm not perfect and I have been beating myself up lately for little mistakes. I think I expect more out of myself than anyone else does sometimes. So I have been focusing on having patience with myself and letting my imperfections become a catalyst for growth and change instead of becoming a roadblock.
It sounds like it's been Hotter than Hot there. Everyone keeps telling me summer here will be really hot but we will see.

Phillip [Lauren’s brother who just left for the Lima, Peru MTC on Wednesday] - Remember that serving others will help you in all aspects of the work. I know that even if you don't know completely what to say, rely on what you do know and the Holy Ghost will be able to speak through you and touch the hearts of the people. I hope you are loving being a missionary.
Well, I think that's about it for this week. I love you all and pray for you every day.
Love y'all HEAPS!
Sister Baker

...attitude is everything - Melbourne Missionary Moments - 7/15/13

I know I say this every week but I can't believe it's already been another week. And I can't believe that Phillip [Lauren’s brother going to Peru on his mission] is leaving this week! Holy moly does time fly!
This week was SO good. I told you about the sister we are teaching last week and let me tell you, she is GOLDEN! I honestly feel like I'm watching a movie as we teach her. Each time we're there I keep thinking, "I can't believe this is happening. This is like the stories in PMG. This doesn't happen to normal people." We had a lesson with her on Tuesday night and a sister from the ward came with us. Right before we went in to the lesson we said a prayer in the car and asked specifically in it that her sons would come in and join us for the lesson. As we went in and sat down the sons were no place to be found but after a few minutes they both came in and sat down with us. It was a wonderful lesson and the spirit was so strong. We committed the sons to baptism and they both said that they would pray about it. We taught her again on Thursday with the sister from the ward and it was another wonderful lesson. Her sons didn't join us which was a little disappointing but that's okay. I really feel like they will come around as they watch their mom get baptized. As we taught her the plan of salvation she kept talking about how her life has so much more purpose and meaning to it than before she met us. As I looked at her I could see such a light in her eyes that wasn't there when we first met her. Her entire outlook on life has done a 180 since we met her. It's truly amazing to see this change taking place in her.
We stopped by to see her again on Saturday and we were able to just encourage her. We told her about how opposition always seems to come when you are preparing for baptism and we encouraged her to stay strong and to pray harder than ever. She was so positive and listening to her brought tears to my eyes. She told us, "I don't care what challenges come my way because I'm stronger and happier than I have ever been. You've helped me have hope in my life and helped me to have a sense of purpose. I know that a lot of people probably slam the door in your faces or want nothing to do with you but I want you to know that what you're doing is worth it. You're changing my life and it means the world to me." And she's right, a mission is a lot of hard work and we get rejected A LOT. It would be really easy to just give up and throw the towel in but that isn't what I signed up for. And meeting someone like this sister has made it all completely worth it. 
We taught our family on Saturday night and they are doing awesome! We made all of the plans for their son’s baptism and they have invited all of their family and everything. They have changed so much in the time that I have known them and I love seeing it. The son is going to be baptized on the 27th of this month and I can't wait.
On Sunday another investigator came to church and also our sister and one of her sons. Sister Gonzales and I were asked to speak in sacrament meeting. They assigned her to speak about baptism and me to speak about the Holy Ghost and then our assistant ward mission leader spoke about the importance of church and the sacrament. It was a perfect thing for her to hear. She loved meeting everyone at church and her son really enjoyed church as well. Our other investigator disappeared right after church so we weren't able to talk to him much but he sent us an SMS message saying that he had a revelation at church and that he wants to talk to us about it next time we meet with him. We are praying that he is having a break through. We are still working with him and he is making progress but it is very slow progress. 
We haven't been able to see our other investigator at all this week. He has some concerns and differences that he doesn't want to change. He keeps telling us that he is busy but I think that he is trying to nicely drop us. We are praying that something will work out for him.
We finalized plans for our sister’s baptism yesterday. She will be getting baptized on Sunday at 6:00 (just 16 days from when we met her.) I have no doubt that this baptism is going to happen. She is so prepared and she knows that truth for herself. It's been such a blessing to meet her. 
Phillip- I'm not sure where to even start. I'm so excited for you. Being a missionary is the best thing in the world. I wouldn't trade the experiences that I'm having for anything. As a missionary you are blessed so much. Heavenly Father truly loves his missionaries. I'm not sure what advice to give you but here are a few things I've learned. First of all, attitude is everything. If you have a positive attitude you will be happier and be more successful. Don't get discouraged because discouragement drives away the spirit. When you feel weak or homesick or inadequate (and trust me those feelings will come) turn to your Heavenly Father in prayer and let him strengthen you. Love your companion. Even if you don't agree or you feel like you couldn't possibly be more different, just love your companion. If you feel like you are struggling to love them, again turn to Heavenly Father. I've learned on my mission that Heavenly Father really can turn our weaknesses into strengths like it says in Ether 12:27. Be exactly obedient with a willing heart. Obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings miracles. Don't waste a moment. The time on a mission goes by so quickly. Take pictures, they are some of the best ways to preserve memories. I'm so excited for you to be a missionary with me. I know you are going to be amazing. I better get a good email from you every week!

I'm so grateful to be a missionary. Heavenly Father blesses me SO much. Any sacrifice I make to be a missionary is far outweighed by the blessings that come. I feel like I can say the same things as Ammon:
35- Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
36-Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land. 
37-Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people; whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.
Alma 26:35-37
I love you all so much. Good luck at the airport on Wednesday. 
Love you HEAPS!
Sister Baker XoxO

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Being Sick on the Mission is the WORST... - Melbourne Missionary Moments - 7/8/13

Our Flat

Man. What a week. This week was not the typical week of the mission.
Last Monday after P-Day we had dinner at the Maugers. They are such amazing people. I'm tellin ya, I feel so at home and so loved by them. It was just Sis. Mauger and their daughter there because Bro. Mauger was flying home but it was great to be there with them. Sis. Mauger is a wonderful cook so we're always excited when they sign up to feed us! By the time we were getting ready for bed Monday night I was starting to not feel very well. 

Our Study Room in our Flat
When I woke up Tuesday morning I felt SO sick. I had the biggest headache and it was making me feel nauseous and everything and I felt like my head was as big as a hot air balloon. Let me tell ya, being sick on the mission is the WORST. Another sister here was also sick (sicker than me) so they asked if I would just stay with her all day. So I was in the flat all day on Tuesday. I slept a LOT, I think my body was just exhausted. But I felt terrible about not being out and doing work. I also spent several hours reading the Book of Mormon. I almost have read the whole thing now since I've been out and I absolutely love it. I am learning so much EVERY time that I read. Since being a missionary I've really come to appreciate the Book of Mormon more and I realize that I've really taken it for granted most of my life. It truly is such a huge blessing to have it to read and study and it truly does help us to grow closer to Jesus Christ and understand his role as our Savior more. So yeah, I felt bad not being able to be out doing missionary work but it was probably a good thing though to let my body kind of re-coup and have time to get better. Tuesday was the only day that I felt really sick but since then I've had a bit of a cold but finally today I feel back to 100 percent.
Sister Baker with President & Sister Maxwell
On Thursday morning we had a meeting with President and Sister Maxwell to get to know them better. Let me tell you, they are incredible! President Maxwell is a gentle giant. He has such a great knowledge of the scriptures and has such a light about him. Sister Maxwell just feels like having a mother out here. She is really sweet and when you talk to her you can tell that she just really loves each of the missionaries. I told her about our relation [she is my mom’s second cousin] and she was excited about that.  Before we left the meeting my companion got really dizzy and almost passed out and felt like she was going to throw up. Our Zone Leaders gave her a blessing and then we went straight home. She was in a ton of pain from cramping and stuff so she just tried to sleep. She ended up sleeping for 5 hours straight. She had a fever and was really sick. So yet again, I had to sit in the flat all day. That is the worst as a missionary. I just wanted to be out working and teaching.
Friday we did a lot of tracting and were really focusing on finding more investigators. Unfortunately we weren't finding a lot of success and it was a bit discouraging. But I've learned that you can't afford to let yourself get discouraged on the mission. You just have to work harder and pray harder. Friday evening our appointment with an investigator fell through because he was sick (seriously so many people were sick this past week—lots of missionaries and members and investigators. Gross, germs everywhere!) Since our appointment fell through we weren't sure what we were going to do. We decided that we would go to visit a couple of people that live on a street that we had tracted a couple of weeks ago. They expressed mild interest when we were tracting so we decided to go follow up with them. After we parked the car we said a prayer before getting out and I asked Heavenly Father to please bless us to be able to teach a lesson and extend a baptismal invitation that night. The first two houses that we went to follow up with no one was home. We went to the last house and there were no lights on and I was about to not even knock on the door but I felt like we needed to because we didn't have other options. We knocked on the door and a woman answered. We explained that we had met her son a few weeks ago and she invited us right in. Her son wasn't home but she said that she would like to know more. As we sat and talked to her we found out that she had been having a really hard night and had been crying right before we got there. Her husband walked out about a year ago so she is a single mom of 3 teenage boys.  As we started to teach her she started to cry and told us "I feel like this is filling a hole in my heart that I didn't know existed." That's like an exact experience that is talked about in PMG so I was shocked to hear her say that. As we finished teaching the lesson and we invited her to be baptized she immediately accepted and now she is preparing for baptism at the end of this month. She was our miracle for this week. It was amazing to see how Heavenly Father answered our prayer of being able to invite someone to be baptized. I have no doubt that we were led there right when she needed us. She is so prepared. She came to a baptism on Saturday and she loved being in the chapel. We had left a Book of Mormon with her on Friday night and by Saturday morning at the baptism she had read the introduction, the testimonies and half of 1 Nephi! She wasn't able to come to church on Sunday because of a family commitment that she had told us about previously but I know that she will be able to come next week. I'm so excited to teach her again tomorrow. She is so prepared. 
We were also able to teach a family on Saturday. They are doing so well! Their son is really smart and is so excited for his baptism. I've watched as their entire family has changed. It's amazing how much going to church and reading your scriptures and praying does. They are like different people now from when I first met them. The son will be baptized on the 27th of this month and then our next goal is to get them to the temple to be sealed as a family!
Sunday our miracle contact from last week didn't come to church but we were able to teach him after church. We asked him why he didn't come to church and he told us that it is because he thinks that the sabbath is on Saturday and not Sunday. He also expressed some other concerns. He was upset that you have to have an interview before baptism and he doesn't want to necessarily join the church, he said he just wants to be baptized. We were able to address a lot of his concerns and help him to understand better. Right now he says that he doesn't want to commit to baptism in our church. It's hard because he has been SO prepared. Part of me just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and give up. But that's silly. Just because you run into road bumps doesn't mean you can't get over them and work through them. People are not going to accept every commitment and not have any concerns or questions before baptism. This is all just part of the process. I know that as we do all we can to help them and as they pray and really seek to know and understand, everything will work out. Of course there will be road bumps and detours, that's just part of the journey.
There was another mission president fireside last night and he came which was good. It was all about Jesus Christ and how he is the Shepherd and we are the sheep of his flock. He was really touched and before we left he was asking about President Maxwell and saying how he thinks President Maxwell is such a great man. Then he asked if we thought that President Maxwell could baptize him. I was shocked to hear him say that because after our lesson earlier I thought that he wasn't really thinking about baptism right now. I was so happy to hear him ask that. I told him absolutely!
We are still working with another investigator right now. He is slowly making progress and right now we are not sure what is the best thing to do for him next but we are praying hard and I know that Heavenly Father will help us.
We watched the worldwide leadership broadcast and OH MY GOODNESS! Amazing! I basically sat and cried through the entire thing. It was incredible. I want every single member of the entire church to watch it.
I love you all! Thank you for your love and support and prayers!
Love you Heaps!! 
Sister Baker

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Miracles in Churchill Park - 7/1/13

Wow. I can't believe it's already July!! It's crazy to me, especially because it's cold here. Sounds like you guys have had hot as weather. (everyone in Australia adds "as" to everything: hot as, cold as, skinny as, long as, etc.) 
This past week has been SO good. I've really been trying to increase my faith so that we can see miracles happen here in Churchill Park. This week we received a miracle named Ryan.
On Thursday afternoon we had some appointments with some people who we had met on Tuesday and Wednesday who seemed really awesome and we thought that there was real potential with them. But every single appointment fell through. So we had several hours with nothing to do so we prayed to be led to those who have been prepared. We decided to go do some more tracting in another area of the ward. As we were driving there, I had the thought, "we should go to the library." It was nothing big, just a thought. But I've learned that is how the spirit often works for me. I don't have these huge AH-HA moments but just small simple thoughts. So I drove to the library instead. I'm SO grateful that I listened to that prompting. As we were walking into the library we saw this guy standing outside. At first I walked past him but I remembered that we had set a goal that morning to talk to EVERYONE so I turned around and started talking to him. I found out that his name is Ryan (he's 24) and that he had seen us before at the train station. He was super interested in our message and we set an appointment to meet with him on Friday. Then we went inside the library and this girl stopped us and asked what ward we were in. We assumed that she was a member so we asked what ward she was in. She told us that she had been going to church and meeting with the missionaries and preparing for baptism in another area but that she had moved down here and didn't know where the church was and hadn't heard anything from missionaries. We got her information and found out that she lives in our zone leaders' area so we were able to get her information to them and now she's getting baptized on the 27th of this month! 
On Friday we had our appointment with Ryan. The lesson went so well! We were still introducing ourselves and using the how to begin teaching points when I told him, "As you come to know these things for yourself you will have a desire to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized." He cut me off and said, "Yeah I want to get baptized, how do I do that?" That NEVER happens. It was amazing. He is so prepared. He is getting baptized on July 13th! He came with us to a baptism on Saturday and we were able to give him a church tour and teach him again before it started and then went with the YSA to their activity that night. Then he came to church yesterday and came to the mission president fireside last night. Usually it is like pulling teeth to get people to actually come to those things but he was more than willing. While we were in the church he kept saying, "This feels like home." It was so wonderful! I know that Heavenly Father has been preparing Ryan for a few years now and I know that we were led to him. 
Saturday the baptism that we went to with Ryan was for two sisters. The Elders in our ward have been teaching them but we have been interacting with them a lot too. They are from Zimbabwe and are so beautiful! The Elders asked if I would take them before the baptism and help them get changed and everything. Right before we left the bathroom the one sister just started to cry. She expressed so many feelings to me and I was so glad to be able to be there to listen to her and to calm her fears. We were able to say a prayer and the spirit was so strong. It was such a wonderful time to spend with her right before her baptism.
Last night was the mission president's fireside. They do firesides once a month for the missionaries to bring their recent converts and investigators to. President and Sister Lifferth were there as well as President and Sister Maxwell. It was a fantastic meeting. Afterwards we said our final goodbyes to the Lifferths and briefly met the Maxwells. There were definitely some tears shed. I am sad to see the Lifferths go. They are such wonderful people. But I'm also really excited to work with the Maxwells. They seem really nice and I know that it will be great. Last night I prayed for confirmation to know that President Maxwell has been called by the Lord to be our mission president and I definitely got that confirmation. We have a meeting with them on Thursday this week to get to know them better.
One last thought. I was thinking this morning about how the mission is the only time you have that you truly get to give EVERYTHING that you have to the Lord… all of your time, efforts, EVERYTHING. I found this quote by Elder Neal A. Maxwell that I love. "Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!"

I love serving a mission. It is such a wonderful opportunity. 
Love y'all heaps!

Sister Baker