Monday, October 28, 2013

Where have the past 7 months gone? - 10/28/13

Melbourne Mission Moments
Holy moly.  Time just flies by here! 
This past week was a little different than most weeks. I feel like it was all just kind of a blur. On Monday we had our Halloween Party with all of the other sisters in the mission. It was a lot of fun and fun just to be with everyone! That night we went to Bishop's house for dinner and a lesson with an investigator. He has basically closed off his heart to any possibility of change so we are not going to be teaching him anymore. I have not wanted to drop him but he's not making any progress at all so we need to focus our efforts elsewhere. We'll still invite him to church and everything, just won't be scheduling lessons every week.
At the sisters Halloween Party
Monday and Tuesday nights Sister H and Sister V got to stay with us while they were up from Tassie. That was really fun. I have really missed Sister H. She is a HOOT! They said that Tassie is beautiful but cold. I hope that I get to serve there at some point while I am here!
Tassie sisters with us!
On Tuesday we had another lesson with a younger girl we have been teaching. We were excited to find out that she had read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon like we had asked her to. We had a good lesson with her this week. We're still working on helping her to know that Heavenly Father hears her prayers. We are also hoping to get her to come to the ward Halloween party this week so that she can meet some of the young women. 
For Halloween the ward is having a Trunk or Treat. Which is actually kind of funny because they don't call it a trunk here, they call it a boot. But anyway, it should be really good. It's our ward and another ward and there's 60 people signed up to bring their cars and they are expecting to have about 300 people there, including A LOT of non-members. You better believe we are going to be there to talk to every single one of them. 
We also had a lesson with a less-active sister and her son this week. Don't remember if I told you about them. This sister has been less active for about 10 years but Sister H and I were able to contact her and she's been coming back to church. Her son is 8 years old but hasn't been baptized. We had a really good lesson with them on Tuesday and the son has decided to be baptized on December 8th so that's exciting!
We were able to see a recent convert this week! Tuesday night was her birthday so we took her some flowers. She sold her house and is moving into a new house but the new house is in our ward boundaries. That is a huge tender mercy! I love her so much. Just being able to see her this week was a blessing.
On Wednesday we had our Sisters Conference. It was so good! We seriously have the BEST sisters in this mission. There are now 47 of us! We received some wonderful trainings and I learned a ton. For lunch they did a High Tea for all of us which was so cute. There were tons of little sandwiches, sweet rolls, etc. So cute. The best part was having President and Sister Maxwell there. They are so wonderful! Seriously, I could not ask for a better mission president. 
Reunited with my little Filipina!

All the sisters in front of the Melbourne temple

We did a lot of finding this week and have used the buses some more. We had a couple of adventures where we didn't know for sure where we were but it was fun!
On Friday morning we went to another investigator’s house. This mother and her two kids, are friends with another family in the ward and have been at their home several times when we were there and they came to their son’s baptism. This mother seems so much more open to the gospel right now. They have had some weird things happen in their home lately-- so the Elders came over with us and they were able to teach her about the priesthood and to bless her home. Then that night they were at the member family’s home for a lesson and we taught everyone about prayer and made prayer rocks with them. Her son said the closing prayer and it was so good. We are hoping to set a baptismal date with her and her kids this week! 
On Saturday night we got transfer calls and guess what! I'm staying here for another transfer with Sister S! Wahoo! I love this area and I'm so glad that I don't have to leave yet. I want to keep working with the people that we have right now. Only bad news is, the next transfer is a week before Christmas. I really don't want to be transferred right before Christmas. That would STINK!
We weren't able to see two of our other investigators this week. Dang. But we should be seeing them this week (fingers crossed).
Phillip- So good to hear about the baptism! I'm sure that was awesome for you to get to baptize him. Keep working hard. Missionary work is the best, isn't it?

I am just loving being a missionary and serving here with Sister S. Heavenly Father is so good to me! I have been so tremendously blessed. Before I left on the mission, I kind of viewed it as a way to pay Heavenly Father back a little bit for all of the blessings I've been given, but it turns out I'm not paying him back at all. He just keeps pouring out blessing after blessing. I love this gospel. I'm a missionary. I know it. I love it.

Love you heaps!
Sister Baker

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Time is just whipping past lately - 10/21/13

Melbourne Mission Moments
So Beautiful Here!
What a Load a Rubbish!
We just have to laugh at the signs we see!
Beware Magpie Swooping!
Before I left people kept telling me about the birds that swoop at your heads. Yeah, it's a real thing!
Wow. I can't believe we are already nearly to the end of October. Time is just whipping past lately. This is the last week of the transfer which is crazy. It's a 5 week transfer because President and Sister Maxwell have to go to New Zealand for a Conference. So next transfer will be 7 weeks long. I'm hoping that I get to stay with my companion another transfer. I love her and we are really working well together. However, next transfer ends like two weeks before Christmas. I would hate to be transferred right before Christmas and be in a ward full of people that I don't know. Ideally, I would love to stay here until January but we'll see. I will go where the Lord needs me.

We had a great week this week. On Monday we were able to have another lesson with an investigator at Bishop's house. It was a wonderful lesson. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation which he loved. He lost his father recently so it really touched his heart. We invited him to be baptized but he is still a little hesitant right now. He is worried about not having the time to really be devoted to a church/religion. We are working through his concerns though. The other hard thing is getting him to church. He is worried about bringing his children to church because he thinks that they will be too loud and disruptive. We assured him that there are lots of kids at church and that it is a place for families but he is still hesitant. Every other weekend he has to work so that is also a challenge. But he is doing well and really gaining a testimony. As his testimony increases, he will be able to resolve a lot of his own concerns. 
On Wednesday we got to go and teach a younger girl. Her mom is actually a member who has been less active for a long time. Her mom wants her daughter to learn about the church so that she can make a decision for herself as to whether she wants to be a part of the church. We have had a couple of lessons with her now and they both have gone really well. Since she's young we are teaching really slowly and simply but she now prays and we're working on helping her know that Heavenly Father is there. She is such a cute girl.
Thursday was kind of a crazy day. We lost our phone. Don't ask me how. I'm convinced it did a Harry Potter and just apparated to somewhere. Anyway, so we had to spend quite a lot of time looking for the missing phone. We didn't find it anywhere so we ended up having to go to the office and get a new one. 
We finally got a hold of our Brazilian investigator on Saturday. He answered his phone and we got a return appointment with him for this coming week so hopefully that goes well! Also, we have been working with a couple since I got here and they got married on Saturday! They were married before but then got divorced and then got back together a few years ago. Well Saturday they finally got married so now they can live the law of chastity and work towards a temple sealing! It was a happy day!
We are running really low on Ks for the month so on Friday and Saturday my companion and I learned how to use the bus system. It ended up being great! There are people on the bus that you can talk to and we were able to meet a lot of people! And there is a bus line that is perfect! It goes through all the parts of our area where we have investigators so it's perfect!
Riding the Bus
This week I have been really studying a lot about faith. That is the Christ-like attribute that I am really focusing on. My companion has been such a good example to me. She is so full of faith. She is always optimistic. I'm trying to be more that way and exercise more faith. Instead of doubting that people will actually be home for our appointment, I'm trying to trust that they will be there and they will want to learn more about the gospel. Changing the way that you think is hard but it's slowly coming. It's just self-mastery like Elder Nelson talked about in General Conference.
Today we are having a Halloween Party for Sister's P-Day. And later in the week we have Sisters Conference so that means ALL of the Sisters will be here. Sister H and her companion fly up this morning from Tasmania and they get to stay with us for a couple of nights! I am SO excited!!!! :) :)

Thank you for the thought about prayer. That's something that I have really worked on as a missionary – to make my prayers more heart-felt and sincere. I have noticed a huge difference. When it's more sincere I sometimes just find myself in tears at the bedside. Prayer is SUCH a blessing! 
Phillip- sounds like you've had a busy week trying to learn the other area as well. The more area you have means the more people there are which is ALWAYS a good thing. I loved in conference when Elder Ballard said to missionaries, "If you want to teach more, you have to talk to more people." I know that is true. I'm excited for your baptism! Hopefully all goes well!
I love you all so much! I am so grateful to be a missionary at this time. I'm so grateful to have the family that I do. I have the best family in the world! I know the Church is true and it brings me SO MUCH HAPPINESS when I get to share it with people every single day.
Love y'all heaps!
Sister Baker

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh my goodness, so many blessings. - 10/14/13

14 October 2013
Talofa Family!
Well, I had another great week. I feel like so much happened this week that I don't even know where to start. 
On Monday we went to Bishop's house for dinner and FHE with their family. We have a really great Bishop here who is so encouraging of the work and who is definitely on our side. After that we went to see a girl that we had met tracting. She was there and waiting for us. We were able to talk with her and found out that she has had some really big trials and challenges in the past two years. You could just see the hurt in her eyes. We were able to teach her about prayer and about the atonement and the healing and hope that it brings. It was such a good lesson and the spirit was so strong. We are hoping to see her again soon.
On Tuesday we had interviews with President Maxwell. I love him so much. Seriously, he is such an incredible man. He has this humble dignity that he carries everywhere and truly just emanates love. Any time we get to meet with him is a blessing. He gave me some wonderful counsel and encouragement. We also had a meeting with the APs so they could find out about how our area was doing. We’ve had some disappointments lately, but I'm just praying really really hard and Heavenly Father has really helped me. I've been able to turn them over to him and my heart doesn't feel heavy. I feel hopeful and trust that Heavenly Father has a plan for everything/everyone. So now I just have to be patient. 
Tuesday night we taught a man who is amazing! We taught him the restoration and he absolutely loved it. He said if he got an answer that it was true that he would get baptized. We are teaching him again tonight and will hopefully set a solid baptismal date with him. 
Wednesday we went to see a woman who is 75 and lives in a nursing home. She was so happy to see us and we just sat and talked with her for a while. She was so excited when we told her that we could have them bring the sacrament to her every week. Before we left she said the sweetest prayer in which she said, "Thank you for bringing my people back to me." 
On Thursday we had Golden Review at the mission office which is another meeting for the Goldens and the Trainers where President and the APs just go over some things and then there are trainings given. My companion and I got to give a training on Lesson Planning. It went really well. Lesson planning is something that is so important. Like it says in D&C 11:21, we have to prepare before we can teach. Sometimes the Spirit tells you to take a completely different route than what you planned but as we make plans and study, that is showing Heavenly Father that we are willing to do our part so that we are worthy of having the spirit. I know that this is true with any teaching. I loved Elder McConkie's talk from conference about teaching. It was so good. 
A funny thing happened on Thursday. After we left our last appointment and got in the car to head home, we found out that not one but BOTH of our headlights had burned out. Haha, it was crazy. We had to drive the whole way home with our high-beams on. I felt bad for all of the cars that we were passing. We were laughing about it though. Also guess what, on Monday night while we were driving home from our Bishops, a kangaroo hoped across the road right in front of our car. It was crazy! 
On Friday we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. We had a really good day. Sister W was so fun and such a good example and I learned a lot from her. The highlight of the day was that evening when we visited a family in their ward. We had planned to teach their sons that just got baptized but when we got there it was clear that this dear sister needed us. She has been having some real struggles and challenges lately. I had studied about hope that morning and I was really grateful for that because it was exactly the message that she needed to hear. As we left, I felt so grateful that Heavenly Father trusts us enough to use us to answer someone’s prayers.

On Saturday and Sunday we got to watch General Conference! Oh my goodness, so many blessings. We are so blessed to have a living prophet and apostles on the earth today! They show General Conference at the chapel at 10:00 and 2:00. There were not many people there on Saturday or Sunday afternoon but Sunday morning had a really good turnout. Hopefully the members have been watching or listening or reading the talks at home. This conference was one of the best that I can remember. Ah, I don't even know where to begin. Every talk was so good. I loved the talks about missionary work and how the members and the missionaries HAVE to work together. I also really loved Elder Nelson's talk from Sunday afternoon. I loved how he talked about Self-mastery. That is something I have really been trying to work on. I also really felt like they talked a lot about the important role of women as mothers and the inherent traits that we have especially as women. I felt overwhelmingly that being on a mission is preparing me for my future responsibilities as a wife and a mother. I wish I had time to tell you all the things that I loved and learned. Also, guess what? When Elder Vinson spoke I didn't even notice the accent! It was crazy. I can't believe that I have become that accustomed to it. He didn't sound any different than anyone else to me. I guess that I am accustomed to both the American and Australian accent. Funny, huh?
Also, we aren't able to go to the gym every morning now. Everyone is really tight on Ks and we only have 1600 for the month so we don't have enough to drive there in the mornings. Sad, but it will be okay. We have feet and footpaths around our flat so that will have to be good enough. 
Some Aussies celebrate Halloween but it's not very big here. Our ward is having a trunk-or-treat that night which should be fun. Haha but it's funny because here in Australia they don't even call it a trunk. They call it a boot.
Phillip- sounds like your area just got huge. But that's a blessing. The bigger it is the more people there are. And the more people there are the more people you get to talk to. The more people you get to talk to the more you get to teach. So really it's a blessing. :) I'm glad your Spanish is getting better every day. I pray for you daily. And you're right. I don't believe that you have gained weight. 
Well, I love you all. I am so grateful to be a missionary at this specific time. I know the church is true and that the Lord truly is hastening his work.

Love y'all heaps!
Alofa atu!
Sister Baker xxx

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." - 10/7/13

October 7, 2013
"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven."
This week has been so great! I have a wonderful companion! Seriously, she is so full of faith. We have really been working hard this week and praying for miracles to occur. We were talking the other morning about how badly we need the Lord to help us and we need miracles to occur. We decided that the only things that are holding us back from receiving those miracles is exact obedience. We are not disobedient missionaries but there are always little things that you can improve on. We had a list of all the things that we can sacrifice or do better and we are striving really hard to be EXACTLY obedient—little things like being ready for studies at 7:59 instead of 8:01 or other little things. We just want to do all that we can because we know that when we are obedient, the Lord has no choice other than to bless us. And it's paying off. It's amazing to see how Heavenly Father can bless you so quickly. We are also really focusing on getting the members to help us with the work. We have been praying almost constantly for the members of our ward and that they will be able to increase their faith and realize how important it is that they be involved in missionary work. It is direction we have received directly from the prophet which means it's extremely important. It sounds like from your letters that it was talked about a lot in General Conference which is great. I'm excited for the members here to hear it and hopefully have a greater desire to get involved in the work. The other night we were going in to visit a member and we prayed in the car before that they would be able to give us a referral and decided that we weren't going to leave without one. And guess what, they gave us 2 referrals! 
On Wednesday we got to go teach the Brazilian that I told you about. We taught him the restoration and it went so well. He just kept saying, "That's amazing" and "That's beautiful." And he said the most beautiful prayer at the end of the lesson. It was in Portuguese so I couldn't understand anything that he said but I know that he did say Joseph Smith and it was very heartfelt. We are going back this week to teach both him and his wife. And I can't wait! Any advice for teaching Brazilians? What does Grandpa think [Sis. Baker’s grandpa was a mission president in Brazil]?
Oh yeah, big blessing that happened this week. We went to visit some members in our ward on Tuesday night. They own a gym and they asked us if we wanted to use their gym to train. They gave us 24-Hours gym passes for absolutely no cost. Such a blessing! Since both Sister Stevenson and I like mornings, we've been getting up at 5:17 every day so that we can be to the gym by 5:30 and stay for an hour and 15 minutes. I love it! I have felt so much better all week getting a good work out every morning and we've also been eating pretty healthy too. It may seem a little silly but it was an answer to my prayers. On Monday during personal study I was setting some goals and I prayed that Heavenly Father would help me to have the dedication to be healthier this month, to more fully live the Word of Wisdom and take care of my body. So that was a blessing that they offered for us to use their gym at no cost. 
On Friday night we got to go to the RS broadcast. Can I just say, WOW! It was so good. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I loved how much they talked about covenant keeping. I have been so blessed to make covenants with my Heavenly Father and it was such a good reminder of the blessings that come as we keep our covenants. It also made me really think about recent converts and the baptismal covenant they have made. I am just praying really hard and trusting that Heavenly Father has a plan and He will help us to know how we can help some of them. Another thing that really stuck out to me in the RS broadcast was when President Monson said, "I never tire of reading the scriptures." That really struck me. I was thinking about how much my love for the scriptures has grown as a missionary. I feel like before the mission I read the scriptures because I knew that I was supposed to but I never really understood the power and spirit and learning that you can gain. Now I LOVE reading the scriptures, especially reading the Book of Mormon. My scriptures have become one of my most prized possessions. I have truly found answers to prayers as I read. Ah, I love it. I hope to someday have a testimony and love for the scriptures like President Monson. I also just can't wait for this weekend to be able to listen to General Conference! It is such a blessing to be able to listen to a living prophet. 
We have had some pretty crazy weather this past week. It has been super windy and rainy. The wind has blown over tons of trees. Some people have had their garages or cars smashed by trees. Two different mornings this week we went outside to find HUGE branches from the tree in front of our flat that had come down. Luckily they both missed the flat. 
Trees falling down everywhere

More of the trees down in front of our flat
Remember the little girl that was in the hospital with a brain tumor? She got to come home from the hospital this week! And she is starting to talk again! Miracles are happening every day.
Thank you for sending me the Standard of Truth! My companion and I were actually talking about that this week and saying that we wanted to find it and memorize it and now we can!
Phillip- I'm sorry to hear that it is so hot in Peru. It is not hot here yet but everyone keeps warning me, "Wait until this summer. You're going to be dying." It will be interesting to see how hot it gets. Keep working hard. I pray for you every day and that your Spanish will improve.

We were also able to teach an investigator again this week. During the lesson we found out that he doesn't believe that God is his father. He asked us, "What does it matter if he is my father?" I have been thinking about that ever since. I am SO grateful to know that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and wants me to return to him. That knowledge affects every little thing that I do. I truly know that Heavenly Father loves me and is watching over me. I know that He wants so badly for all of His children to return to him. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a part of this work and to help Heavenly Father's work to go forward. I love you all so much!
Love y'all heaps!

Sister Baker
P.S. remember how I told you that while I was in Texas I picked up the y'all? Well my companion says it all the time and it's rubbing off on me again. Pretty funny. 

Can you believe that I've been out for 6 months now?? - 9/30/13

September 30, 2013
First of all, can you believe that I've been out for 6 months now?? It's CRAZY how fast time flies on the mission. Knowing that I only have a year left now makes me that much more motivated to work hard and see miracles happen here.
Last Monday my Sister H and I went to the city. It was really fun! We went to the Eureka Tower which was so fun! It was 88 floors up and it was beautiful! You could see all of the city of Melbourne. The edge box was really cool. I wasn't scared at all. It was just so cool to be hanging out over the city only on glass. Really fun day. 
On Tuesday morning we got up early to get ready to go to the temple. All of the departing missionaries go to the temple Tuesday morning before transfer meeting. Sister T asked President Maxwell if Sister H and I could come as well and he said yes so we got to be there. It was so wonderful to be in the temple again. Such a blessing from Heavenly Father! After the meeting they had transfer meeting which was great. At transfer meeting they have all of the departing missionaries bear their testimonies and then they have them all stand at the front while we sing the closing song, "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." I was crying like a baby. It was really sad to see Sister T leave. She made a huge impact in my life and I learned a lot from her. Sister Fs new companion is Sister W from my district at the MTC so it is fun to have her in our flat!!
A ward sister went to visit a recent convert in the ward that has been struggling with her testimony on Monday and had a really good talk with her and mentioned that Sister H was being transferred and would like to say goodbye. She said we could come over so we went there on Tuesday night. We were with her for awhile and had a really good talk. We were able to talk about testimonies and faith and how sometimes our faith is tried and we were able to help her realize that she does have a testimony. It went really well and I think that she felt a lot better. I'm just praying really hard that we will know how to help her. The ward members are helping us a lot and I really feel peace and hope. Mom, I loved your notes about hope. I got a really nice email from aunt Sherrie. She reminded me that one of Satan's biggest tools is discouragement and she is right. I know that as I stay faithful and hopeful, everything will work out. Heavenly Father knows his children. Thank you for fasting for me and my companion to be able to find people to teach and for fasting for the people here. I really appreciate it. 
Wednesday we picked up our new missionaries! My companion is  just came straight from the MTC! She is from Texas and just finished a year of school at BYU. I love her so much! She is so full of faith and has such a strong testimony. I know that this transfer is going to be wonderful and that we are going to see miracles occur in our area! Also, crazy but guess what! She has been reading my blog for the last 4 months. Apparently it's one of the first things that come up if you google "Australia Melbourne Mission." Small world!
Me & my new companion
We did a lot of finding the second half of this week and we were blessed to find some people who seem really keen. The one I'm most excited about is a man from Curitiba, Brazil. He has been in Australia for about 4 years and he is so humble and kind. I really have faith that he is going to get baptized!
While we find some people with some potential as we are tracting, the bottom line is that missionaries cannot have as much success without the members giving us referrals. My companion and I are really focusing on increasing our faith and really helping the members to increase their faith and invite their friends to meet with the missionaries. 
In the whole Melbourne mission they are doing something this next week which I am really excited about. They are calling it "Come and See." Everyone will be having a special fast next week on Fast Sunday that they will know who it is that they know that they can invite to learn more about the gospel. They are supposed to invite them to come to church on October 27th. On that day they are going to be having special sacrament meetings in each ward geared towards non-members. The goal is to have 125 people invited to every ward in hopes that 25 of those that are invited will actually come. I am really excited about this. I know that it is an opportunity for a miracle to occur here in the Australia Melbourne Mission.
I am emailing later than usual today because earlier we went with some members in our ward to Phillip Island to see Koalas! It was cool. We saw about 15 Koalas! It was a lot of fun.
At Phillip Island
(there's a koala in the tree behind us.
The koalas are so cute!
Give the missionaries your love and support. Ask them what you can to do to help/who you can fellowship/GIVE THEM REFERRALS. I know that there is someone that you could invite to meet with the missionaries. Our responsibility as members is to invite others to learn about the gospel. I know that if you really pray about it that a name will come to mind of someone who can benefit from meeting with the missionaries. Have the faith that you will be able to give them a referral. There are so many people who need to learn about the gospel and it is our responsibility to invite them so that the door to the celestial kingdom can be opened. Try to capture the attitude of the sons of Mosiah 28:3. 
Enjoy General Conference this weekend. It is such a wonderful opportunity to hear from our prophet and receive personal revelation. Take a question to conference and I know you will receive an answer. Because of the time difference, we get to watch general conference here on October 12 and 13, so a week later than you guys. Also, we get to watch the RS broadcast this Friday.

Thanks for your notes about hope. I loved that. Hope is such an important attribute to have. I love the pictures of the missionaries [Sister Baker and five cousins] from Grandma and Grandpa's house. :) I love that we are all having the wonderful opportunity of serving at the same time.
Phillip- they smash eggs on people heads for their birthdays? That's weird. I'm glad you are loving the work there. I pray for you every day and that you will be able to find success in the work and in the language. It sounds like the language is slowly getting better so that's good! Your kitchen is crazy! Hardly can call it a kitchen. Makes me feel really grateful for how much we have here and at home.
My favorite food here is Pumpkin Soup. It is so good!! :) I also really love a drink called Milo. It's kind of like hot chocolate but better! 
Well, I love you all! Hope you have a great week. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I know that this church is true and we are so blessed to know it.

See you in a YEAR! (crazy!!)
Love you HEAPS!

Sister Baker