Monday, December 23, 2013

First Transfer in Australia - 12/23/13

Melbourne Mission Moments

Ah man. What a crazy week. I can't believe it's almost CHRISTMAS!! Honestly, I really can't believe it. Probably because it doesn't even feel like Christmas here.

So grateful to have been able
 to serve with Sister Stevenson!
So last Monday and Tuesday Sister Stevenson and I spent a lot of time saying goodbye to people. Not fun! I have grown to love the people there so much that it was really hard to say goodbye. We went to see some investigators we have worked a lot with as they have dealt with many challenges. They told me how much I have influenced them and the difference I have made over the last few months. It was really sweet how much they were truly grateful. They may not have joined the church yet, and might not anytime soon but I know that because of our love and service, they have become more prepared. Sister Stevenson is still there to take the reins now and I have complete confidence in her. She is such a good missionary.

American Peanut Butter!
The members in Churchill Park are so wonderful! They literally SHOWERED me with Christmas presents. So nice of them! I didn't even know where to put it all when I packed. One family in the ward who I love so much gave me a bag of presents. I decided yesterday morning to open one of them and it was a big jar of Skippy peanut butter! Oh what joy that brought me! Australian peanut butter is just not the same. It's actually a lot healthier. But I miss American peanut butter. So that was a happy surprise.

Our last goodbye on Tuesday night was REALLY hard. I was doing well and we were taking pictures and doing great but then it was time for us to leave. I started giving everyone hugs and I looked over at their 5-year-old. His eyes were all welled up with tears. That did me in. I was crying. It was terrible. I love that family so much! I want nothing more than to see them get sealed in the temple. They promised me that they would do what it takes to get there before I go home. That will be the happiest day of my entire mission. Ah, I love them so much. They are such a special family.
I love this family SO MUCH and the other families here!

So, my Golden was supposed to arrive on Wednesday but the ones flying out from SLC were delayed because of weather so while Sister Stevenson went to get her Golden, I spent the day with Sister F and Sister W. It was a good day and we were able to see a lot of miracles that day. I love those sisters.
I loved living with these Sisters!
Thursday morning I spent in the mission office doing work there until the new missionaries arrived around 2:00 pm. My companion is  from Wales but was born in England so she has an English accent. I love her! We are getting along really well and loving it here in Mooroolbark. On Thursday after some orientation we picked up our car and flat keys and headed out to our area. We have an almost brand new Toyota Corolla. It only has 2500 kilometers on it. It's probably the newest car I will ever drive in my entire life. We are living just outside of our area with another set of Sisters, Sister Z (from China) and Sister H (from Taiwan). They are funny and always speaking Chinese haha. Our flat is really nice. I will take pictures of it and send them to you. Ha funny story. Right when she got here I told my new companion that I am terrified of spiders and that she has to kill them for me, which she was fine with. So Thursday night we are unpacking and I am hanging up my clothes. I had my back turned away from the wardrobe and she looks at me and says, "Sister, don't move..." Naturally I freaked out. There was a big Huntsman spider crawling down the sleeve of my shirt! Ew! Haha I freaked out. It was bigger than a quarter and I did not like it.
With Sister Burton at the Melbourne Temple.
Our transportation for our new area!
Most of the day on Friday was our mission Christmas party. It was really good! Mostly I love being with other missionaries. It is so good to see people who you haven't seen in a while!  For the first bit they had a devotional with music and things. It was really good. Then they had a big lunch for all of us. Then we watched videos that each zone made and of miracle stories, took mission pictures in front of the temple, and had a talent show. At the end, they gave us our Christmas presents. Every single missionary got something which was awesome. We all have a red box from the mission. I don't know what it is but it is so nice of them! I'm trying really hard to wait until Christmas. I also got the package from you guys. Thank you so much for sending it! I can't wait to open it on Christmas! We were all at the mission office until about 6:00. After that we were able to go meet Bishop Beckwith. He and his family are so wonderful! They invited us to come over on Christmas so that will be fun!

We've tried to spend a lot of our time visiting members and getting to know them which has been great. Everyone has been really surprised that there are sisters in the ward and they are really receptive. We had a dinner invite for Saturday night and also for tonight. We've been invited to a Christmas breakfast, and to a Boxing Day lunch. It's been great to feel so loved here. I was able to find somewhere to Skype on Christmas morning. I can't wait! :)

Besides meeting with members, we were able to teach one lesson on Saturday. The Elders taught them the first lesson but since they are girls, they passed them over to us. They are 17 year old twins and their 14-year old sister. They are Burmese? And I don't really know where it is except that it is near India. They are really great! We reviewed the restoration with them and showed them the DVD which they love. We invited them to be baptized on January 25th so we are looking forward to that!

Yesterday morning I was able to finish the Book of Mormon. I am SO grateful for the Book of Mormon! It has blessed my life so much! I have such a strong testimony of its truth. I have become closer to the Savior as I have read it. I am so grateful for this Christmas time and the opportunity it gives us to celebrate Jesus Christ. And what a special opportunity I have to be able to share that with others. I love being a missionary. I love you all so much and hope your Christmas is the best! Can't wait to Skype!

Love y'all HEAPS!


Sister Baker xxx

I am going to be serving in a new area with a new missionary! - 12/16/13

Melbourne Mission Moments
Dear Family,
Merry Christmas from Australia!

This past week has been great, other than the fact that I have been sick all week. Sunday night I started feeling not the hottest and by Monday morning I had no voice, a fever, stuffy nose, etc. It lasted ALL week which was really a bummer. But with some extra rest, I was still able to go out and work for at least part of the day every day so that was good. Heavenly Father definitely made up the difference for my being sick and we were able to still see success.

Monday we had Zone P-day. We all went to the chapel and played ultimate frisbee. I wasn't feeling the hottest but I still played and it was fun! Since I was feeling sick, I asked the Elders to give me a blessing. I am so grateful for the Priesthood. I have no doubt that the words of my blessing came directly from Heavenly Father. Lately, I have been feeling a little discouraged and wondering if I was doing enough. We have a mission goal of every companionship having a baptism before the end of the year and that has not happened for Sister Stevenson and me so I was feeling like maybe I wasn't doing enough. Silly me, but sometimes I am too self-critical. I see other missionaries having tons of success and baptizing and I feel like there's something wrong with me and a reason I am failing in one way or another. Anyway, so in my blessing I was told, "Heavenly Father wants you to know that he is pleased with the way you have served Him." Man did the tears flow. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I am doing my best, working hard, and trying to be exactly obedient. And that's all that Heavenly Father asks.

On Wednesday we were able to have a lesson with an investigator. We were supposed to meet her at the chapel but we didn't have a chapel key so we asked if there was somewhere else we could meet. She said we could come to her house. That was huge because until now we haven’t been allowed to come to their house so that was good. We taught her the plan of salvation. She knows so much and she has a testimony. We're really praying to know what we can do to help her make the decision to be baptized. There's a missing link somewhere and we just need to figure out what it is.
Friday night we got to teach the woman from Peru again. We showed her the restoration video in Spanish and it was perfect! She felt the Spirit so strongly. After it was over she said that she knows Joseph Smith was a prophet. Ah, music to my ears. We invited her to be baptized on the 28th of December and she said that if God told her she needed to be baptized, that she would. Unfortunately, she messaged us on Saturday saying that she was really stressed out and wondered if we should just wait until the new year. Uh, NO! That's way too much time for Satan to work on her. So we're hoping to see her this week and help her to receive her answer. 
Saturday we got to do service for some members all day on their farm! It was awesome. There were 10 missionaries there and we worked literally ALL DAY! I love serving!
Sunday Sister Stevenson and I were asked to speak in Sacrament meeting. We really hadn't had time all week to prepare anything so we both only prepared a little Saturday night/Sunday morning. We were supposed to speak about Jesus Christ. I decided to focus my thoughts around The Living Christ. This was the first time I have given a talk without literally writing out the whole thing. And it actually went well! I am so grateful for the opportunities to teach that I have on the mission that have helped me to be more confident in my knowledge of the gospel and made me comfortable talking about it. I love the gospel and I love talking to others about it! 
We got to watch the Christmas Devotional last night which I loved! Made me miss watching it at home with everyone though! They did it quite differently this year than they have in other years but I liked it. I LOVED when Elder Nelson was surrounded by all those adorable little kids singing I'm Trying to be Like Jesus. So cute! Haha I cried all the way through it. Typical Sister Baker. As the Aussies say, I'm such a sook. 
After the Devotional we got home and we had a message from President Maxwell saying he would like to talk to both of us. Ah. Can you say churning stomach and rapid heart rate?! We had no idea why he was calling but as soon as we listened to the message, I knew what he was going to say. So we called him back. He started off by asking me how long I've been in Churchill Park (6 1/2 months). Then he told us that he hated to have to split up such a great companionship but that there are new missionaries coming this week and the Lord would like both of us to train new missionaries. I was SO sad but yet felt at peace at the same time. I am going to be so sad not to spend Christmas with these wonderful people who I love so much but I know that this is what Heavenly Father wants and I know that it will be a good thing. I am going to be serving in Mooroolbark with a new missionary. They have not had Sisters in this ward so I'm hoping that they are SO excited to have us there. It will be a good thing. So yeah. We go get our new missionaries on Wednesday so today and tomorrow are my last days in Churchill Park. 
Crazy huh? 
I am looking forward to this new opportunity. I know that Heavenly Father is very aware of his missionaries and that right now, He needs me to serve in Mooroolbark. I am so grateful for this Christmas season to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the way that it helps us to do things we would never be able to otherwise do. I love you all so much!

Sister Baker xxx

Monday, December 16, 2013

It brings me so much joy to see people get baptized! - 12/9/13

Melbourne Mission Moments

Monday again? So crazy! This past week has been good. Not one of the best numbers wise but that happens sometimes. I can't believe there's barely over two weeks until Christmas! This year has gone so fast!
Last Monday my companion and I caught the train in to the city to do some looking around and shopping for a few hours. It was really fun. The weather was BEAUTIFUL and we had a really good time! I love the city! I hope that I get to serve there some day. That night we were able to teach our Egyptian family again. They are slowly making progress. If only I spoke Arabic!
Tuesday morning we went and did service all morning and into the afternoon for a woman in our ward. It was really good. We had 4 missionaries there and we got a ton of work done. I'm so glad we've had some more service opportunities lately. When we can serve people, it's easy to show them that we truly care. Someone once told me that no one will care how much you know until they know how much you care. It's so true. That afternoon we were able to have another lesson with our young woman-age investigator. She is so sweet and she has changed so much in the past six weeks. Hopefully she will decide that she is ready to be baptized soon!

Thursday morning I left early with two other sisters to drive up to the mission home to say goodbye to a sister that was in the MTC with me and is so wonderful. She has been really struggling with her health over the past 5 months and it got to the point that she needed to go home. It was so sad to say goodbye to her. I truly love her and I'm going to miss her! But at the same time, I felt really at peace as we said goodbye. 

Thursday we had Zone Conference! It was so good! I love meetings and the feeling of uplifting and motivation that I have afterward. The leaders in this mission are so wonderful! One thing that was really stressed is using the Book of Mormon is every teaching situation. That is something that I really want to focus on. I love the Book of Mormon and have gained such a strong testimony of its truth, especially since being on a mission. It is our most powerful resource for teaching so I want to use it in every teaching opportunity! 
After our zone conference we went to teach a woman from PERU! How cool is it that I get to teach someone from Peru while I am clear over here in Australia! Phillip, do you have any tips on having success with Peruvians? The lesson with her went really well and she kept talking about that she felt peace! Hopefully she can be our miracle baptism before the end of the year!
On Saturday the ward had a Christmas BBQ at a park. So weird to have a BBQ for Christmas! But it was really good and we had a good turnout. Our young investigator came! She's making lots of friends in the ward which is awesome!

Saturday night we got transfer news... and I'M STAYING!! Sister Stevenson and I get to stay together for another transfer! I am so happy! I have been here a long time so I was afraid I'd get moved but I get to stay here for Christmas and my birthday! :) :)
The pure JOY that comes when you find out that you're not getting transferred!
(not planned to be wearing matching t-shirts and matching buns)

Yesterday Noah got baptized! The baptism went so perfectly and Noah looked so happy! So did his mom! I love them so much. It brings me so much joy to see people get baptized! 
Don't freeze at home. Sounds like it's pretty darn cold.
If there's one thing that I have learned here without a doubt it is that Heavenly Father knows and loves His children. I see His hand in my life every single day and I am so grateful for it. I am grateful for this time of year that we get to reflect on the birth of our Savior. I am so grateful for the gospel and the blessing it is in my life.
Love y'all heaps!!

Sister Baker

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving in Australia... 12/02/13

Melbourne Mission Moments
I can't believe that it's already December!! That is CRAZY! We had a wonderful week this week!
Monday night a couple in our ward took us out to dinner at a restaurant called Ambrosia. So yummy! But so expensive. After that we went to see an investigator. She opened the door and she looked so stinking happy. It just made my heart so happy. Monday night she wanted to show us her art work and oh my goodness. She is INCREDIBLE. Seriously, she paints with acrylics and it is beautiful! I think it made her feel really good that we just sat and oogled over her work.
Tuesday we had a lesson with our 12-year old investigator. We were able to teach her the Word of Wisdom. She had already learned about it the week before in Young Women's so she was happy to commit to living it which was awesome. At the end of the lesson her mum came in and told us that she and her step dad don't think that she is ready to get baptized anytime soon because she has not learned very much yet and they asked us to not bring up baptism anymore. So basically that stinks. We are still going to teach her, we just can't talk about baptism until she brings it up.
Wednesday we had exchanges and I was working with Sister F in our area. We had an awesome day! The morning and early afternoon we were able to do service for a less-active sister in our ward. Her yard is out of control so we were pulling weeds. We got one flower bed completely cleared. Let me tell you though, I was trying so hard not to FREAK OUT because there were so many bugs and spiders! Yuck. There is still a lot of work to be done for her so 8 missionaries are going to her house tomorrow to finish. I love doing service! After we left her home, we went to teach a family that Sister S and I met tracting. It is a mum and dad, their 17 year old daughter and their 7 month old son. They are Presbyterian and had a lot of interesting questions. The lesson went pretty well but they are not very open to finding out the truth. But, we'll see them again this week so hopefully it goes well! The weirdest thing though, we were just sitting there teaching when the baby just literally starts screaming super loud. The mom picked him up from the floor and said, "that means he needs to go toilet." They put their seven month old baby on the toilet! He is potty trained!!! So weird!! Haha I was about to crack up laughing. After that we had dinner with a family in our ward. They are so awesome. They are the ones that own the gym. They have a two week old baby and she is so adorable! Makes me hate the whole missionaries can't hold babies rule. Then we were able to go teach the Egyptian family. The lesson went well and we were able to teach half of the Restoration, more than we have ever been able to teach before! 
Thursday we had our Thanksgiving lunch with the sisters in our flat! It was a lot of fun! Turkey was too expensive so we had bacon instead. Then we had mashed potatoes and gravy, cooked carrots, rolls, and pie! It actually tasted really good! I love Thanksgiving and I'm glad that we were able to celebrate it here in Australia! Thursday we were able to teach another investigator again. She kind of was trying to drop us and saying that she didn't have a lot of time but we were able to sit down and read 2 Nephi 31 with her. She committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and we are going back this week.

Our Australian Thanksgiving

For half of Saturday we were at the chapel helping with a stake service project. The stake collected tons of food and clothing to send to a stake in the Philippines. We were super busy sorting clothes, packing it into boxes and loading them onto a truck. They had over 40 BIG boxes of stuff to send. It was so awesome to see. I love doing service. It makes me realize how blessed I am. And it was also a lot of fun! The huge white shirt that Brother F sent you a picture of? That is one of the shirts that was in a bag of stuff someone donated. It was a 6X! I didn't even know that they made clothes that big! Sister S and I both fit in it with room to spare! Hahaha I don't think anyone in the Philippines is even close to that size. Maybe a family can share it? Haha
A 6X shirt is pretty BIG!
During the service project an investigator called us to see if we could meet with her that afternoon because her schedule had freed up. She helped us with the service project and then we had a lesson with her after. We asked her when she would want to get baptized if the marriage thing was not an issue and she said, "Tomorrow." It was music to my ears. As we talked, she decided that it was about time to plan a wedding so that she can get baptized. So now we are not only missionaries but wedding planners also. We are planning the wedding for January 13th, her birthday! (Crazy that we share a birthday!) 
Yesterday church was absolutely wonderful! We had several less-active members come which was huge! We also had 4 investigators there! Our friend that had the brain tumor and her mom came, as well as our artist investigator and a South African woman who we have been teaching over the past 3 months. Unfortunately our Egyptian family didn't come. I think they don't feel comfortable coming because of the language barrier. At their church everyone speaks Arabic. So we will work on that. 
At the Investigator Fireside
Last night I opened the first envelope for my Countdown tree. Oh my goodness, instant tears. When I saw the note written by Julie on the ornament, my heart was so beyond full that I couldn't help but cry. Thank you thank you thank you for sending that! This is the best Christmas present that I could ever ask for. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family!
Phillip- sounds like you are loving the ocean and your area! Keep working hard! Love you! Have fun at Disneyland.... oh wait. Haha no worries, we'll go in 2015! :)
Love y'all HEAPS!
Sister Baker xxx

Heavenly Father is mindful of His missionaries... 11/25/13

Melbourne Mission Moments
I feel so grateful to be a missionary. I am constantly amazed at how much Heavenly Father blesses me. Every single day I am seeing miracles, large and small. All of these miracles increase my testimony that Heavenly Father is mindful of His missionaries.

Perhaps one of the biggest miracles is serving with Sister S. I absolutely adore her. Right from day one, things with her have gone so well. Our personalities complement each other so perfectly and we truly enjoy being companions. We are not just companions but we truly are sisters. Another thing that is such a blessing of our companionship is that we both want to work hard and be obedient. Being on the same page in that aspect is so nice. It's easier to stay positive and dig your heels in when your companion feels the same way. Working our hardest and trying to be exactly obedient has paid off so much. In the past 6 weeks our teaching pool has more than doubled. Heavenly Father has literally put people in our path who are prepared for this gospel.

On Monday we had dinner with a family here. They made the most delicious salad with steak pieces in it. I can't even really describe it but it was so good. Three types of lettuce, carrots, radishes, green onion, cilantro, the steak. Ah, it was so good! After that we got to go teach a guy we met at the train station and he actually started talking to us. When we got to his house, he had a lot of questions and had printed out tons of stuff from Wikipedia about Mormons. Luckily, he was willing to put that aside and listen to us and we had a wonderful lesson about the Restoration. He loves scripture and was really excited about the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately he actually lives in the other Sister's area so we have to pass him over to them.

Tuesday we had district meeting and then an investigator met us at the chapel and we were able to have a great lesson with her. She is so open with her thoughts and feelings. The Elders were able to give her a priesthood blessing which was perfect! After that we had a lesson with our 12-year old young woman. She wants to be baptized on January 4th! She is so great! I love that girl.

Wednesday we were able to do some service for a less active woman in our ward which was good. I love being able to serve people and show them that we truly love them! Our dinner appointment for Wednesday night canceled and we were STARVING but we didn't have enough Ks to drive back to the flat so we decided to splurge and buy dinner at a place called Nandos. Holy cow. Best chicken burger I've ever had in my entire life. So yummy. Haha but after that we went to see the Egyptian family.  Since they speak Arabic, there is a bit of a language barrier and we only get about one and a half principles taught each time. We are trying really hard to find a member who speaks Arabic but so far we haven't had much luck. However, even with the language barrier, they have such a love for us. We have really gained their trust and they love to have us in their home. After a short lesson, they told us they had dinner for us. They put two HUGE plates of food on the table. I was thinking that was the food for everyone to share. But no, it was just for us. One big plate for me and one for Sister Stevenson. It was fried fish. So we sat down and started to eat and you better believe Heavenly Father was helping me eat that fish. But it was SO MUCH FOOD and we had already eaten dinner. And the craziest part? I'm assuming it's part of their culture but they left us completely alone to eat and went in the other room. Occasionally she would come and say, "eat! eat!" Haha it was crazy. I was honestly trying so hard not to just bust up laughing because the whole situation was so crazy. Needless to say, we both finished the food and I've never been so full in my entire life. Hahaha gotta love being a missionary and EVERYONE wanting to feed you.

Thursday night was the ward Relief Society activity and our Egyptian mom came! It was so good to see her there and for her to make friends with more women in the ward! The activity was really great too! They did food demos on how to make sugared almonds, ranch dressing, chocolate sauce, and home-made ice cream. All of the recipes were really easy and everyone loved it!
Friday night we had dinner and a lesson with a Romanian couple that we are teaching. They are so funny! Seriously, they are always talking in Romanian or saying the most random things and I just laugh. They made us some Romanian thing but it was basically just scones but it was good! At one point they started talking about Mr. Bean's Holiday and he said, "you must be a genius to play such an idiot." I don't know why but I found that so funny! Haha
Saturday afternoon we were doing some finding before our dinner appointment and it started to rain. We only had about 10 minutes left so we easily could have just quit and gone to the car but we decided to keep going. As we got to the last house, it had literally started to pour. But in that house was a family! They agreed to have us come back this week! Such a blessing!
Church yesterday was great! Our young friend that had the brain tumor was able to come with her Auntie which was awesome and our 12-year investigator old came too! Unfortunately the Egyptian family didn't come because there was some event happening at their church that they were involved in and couldn't miss. Sacrament meeting was great. They had a lot of the seminary kids speak and the seminary teacher. It made me really grateful I was able to go to seminary as part of school instead of going at the crack of dawn every morning! The lesson in RS was really great! It was on Pres. Monson's talk from Priesthood session of General Conference about home teaching. Instead they focused more on visiting teaching. I determined to ALWAYS do my visiting teaching, no matter what.
Overall it was a great week! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week. I wish I could be there but at the same time, I would so much rather be here!We are going to make Thanksgiving lunch at our flat on Thursday! I am so grateful to be a missionary and to have the gospel in my life. I am grateful for such an amazing family that is so supportive and AWESOME! I am grateful for the atonement and the ability that it gives each of us to change and be better.
Love you all HEAPS!
Sister Baker
Phillip- Ocean! Lucky! I hope you love your new area! Are you having a hard time believing that it's almost December? I definitely am. I don't think being away for Christmas will be that hard because it doesn't feel real. It feels like people are pretending. Keep working hard! And don't swim in the ocean. (It's in the handbook.) :)