Monday, October 6, 2014

His plan was for me to serve a mission... I have met some of the most amazing people in Australia! I feel so blessed... 10/6/14

Melbourne Mission Moments 10/06/14

I can't even begin to tell you how surreal it feels to be here at the end of my mission. It still hasn't hit me yet. I can't believe it has been 18 months. My last full week of missionary service couldn't have been better. It wasn't because we had huge success or had any huge miracles happen. But it was because I felt such a love for the work and the people. We didn't achieve a lot of our goals and we had more appointments fall through than I think we ever have. But, we kept working. I was so determined to not let Satan get to me and make me feel discouraged. I think that I appreciated every moment of this week more than ever. I felt the guidance of the spirit as we knew exactly where to go or what to do. It has been such a good week.

On Monday I found a quote by Spencer W. Kimball. It says, "To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this Earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling... She has been placed here to help enrich, to protect, and to guard the home--which is society's basic and most noble institution." As I read this, I thought about how grateful I am to know that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father. Also an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being a sister missionary. Sisters can work miracles. I don't say that to boast but because I know that it is true. We are able to get into hearts and homes that Elders never would be able to. I've seen people open up to us and completely change their lives.

Tuesday we were at MLC all day. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend MLC during my mission. I always feel so uplifted and feel such strength from being around so many incredible missionaries. As I looked around the room, I realized that it was a room full of people who are true friends. I am so grateful to have served with such amazing missionaries who I know will be friends forever--whether we stay in close contact or not. A few highlights from MLC:
  • You have to make deposits in another person's emotional bank account in order to have credibility with them.
  • We have to turn every conversation into a gospel conversation.
  • It is impossible to overstate the influence of the Book of Mormon in conversion.
  • The single most important thing a missionary can do is to let go of who he thinks he is and become who he really is.
  • If missionaries will become master planners, they will baptize twice as many people because Heavenly Father will trust them with people.
At the end of MLC, they had the four missionaries who are leaving this transfer bear their testimonies. Man, it's hard to talk about your mission and not get emotional. When we left MLC we had to drive to the airport to drop off the Tassie STLs. It's a good thing we left early to get them to the airport because our GPS went crazy and we were going who knows where! But we got them there in time!

Wednesday morning we were able to see J and N. That afternoon we had district finding. I was with Sister A knocking on some doors. In an hour and a half, we got invited inside three times! After that we had a lesson with K and B and taught them the Plan of Salvation. That evening before dinner, we stopped by a less-active's home. She was so happy to have us there. She wants her 3 sons to be baptized! We're not sure if the father will allow them to but we're going to start teaching the boys, nonetheless. We invited them to come to church on Sunday and they actually came! 

Thursday morning as I was reading 1 Nephi 4:6 about Nephi saying he was led by the spirit, not knowing before what he was supposed to do, I realized that has been a theme of my whole mission. We plan every night and I never feel an overwhelming sense of where to go or what to do, but thoughts and ideas come to mind and we write them down. Usually I can't distinguish whether it's my thoughts or the spirit. It's not until the next day that we go out and do that I can see that it was heavenly inspiration coming as we planned the night before.

After studies we had our zone meeting. I've been in such a great zone these last few transfers! I was able to give a "departing testimony" again and I just cried again. Then the closing song was "God be With You Till We Meet Again." Man did that get the waterworks going. Those are the moments that it has felt real that my mission is coming to an end. We had dinner with Aunty and Uncle K that night. I love them so much. I have met some of the most amazing people in Australia! I feel so blessed.

Last dinner with Aunty and Uncle K

Friday morning we got permission to go into the city and go to the Victoria Markets. We went with a couple of YSA in our stake, B and B. They just got engaged last week which is so cute! But it was so fun to go with them! And the markets were so fun! I got some really cool stuff that I'm excited to show you! After we got back, we picked up one of the Laurels and went to have a lesson with K and B. We taught the 10 commandments which was good. K is a bit hesitant about getting baptized. I think that she's mostly nervous, so we're slowly helping her along. That evening the L family took us to dinner. They are the most beautiful Samoan family that I love so much!

Saturday morning as I prayed to start my personal studies, I prayed to know what I could do to make the most of my last full day of missionary work. (I knew that Sunday would be crazy with church and meetings and things so Saturday would be our last full day.) I opened up the Ensign and read the perfect talk by President Utchdorf. A few things that stuck out to me:
  • "Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self."
  • "External circumstances don't really matter or determine our happiness. We do matter. We determine our happiness. You and I are in charge of our own happiness."
  • "It's not a race, it's a journey. Enjoy the moment."
  • "Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey."
  • "Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances."
It was exactly what I needed that morning. As I left the flat, I was determined to be happy and to really enjoy the day. And I did. It was such a good day! We were able to teach several lessons in the morning and in the afternoon we did a lot of finding. We met so many people who wanted to have us back. Each person we talked to just seemed so prepared. And I loved every moment of it. That evening we went to the chapel to watch the General Women's Broadcast which was a perfect way to end the day. I felt such a love for the temple throughout the meeting. I am so grateful to live in Utah where we have temples so accessible. I felt strongly that I need to make sure I go to the temple weekly when I am at home. Tomorrow morning I have the opportunity to attend the Melbourne Temple one last time which I am really looking forward to!

My last Sunday was one of the best. When we arrived to the chapel, Brother and Sister B from Churchill Park were there. They had come to a baby blessing in the ward the meets before us. It was so good to see them! They ended up staying for our Sacrament meeting so they could hear my testimony which was so nice of them. Sister B has been my second mum in Australia. She has so much love to give and I so enjoyed being able to see them! The K family also surprised me and came to the ward. Oh how I love them. They are such a special family. I have no doubt that they are part of the reason I needed to come to Melbourne. D just cried and cried when she hugged me. They are doing so well. They are taking the temple prep class. I can't wait for the day that their family gets sealed in the temple. I want to be there. We also had 3 investigators come to church and several less-actives that we had invited! The testimony meeting was such a good one. It was such a wonderful day. After church we spent time visiting people who have meant so much to me in this ward. I am so grateful to have Tarneit as my last area. The people here are so loving. I have been so blessed.
The K family -- I love this family so much!

Me and my companion with Tarneit ward members!

I can't believe my mission is coming to an end. It has been the best 18 months of my life. I am so grateful for this exact day, 2 years ago when President Monson announced the age change for missionaries. I will never forget that day. It changed my life. The mission has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most rewarding. I have met so many incredible people and have had so many amazing experiences. I have changed. I have become so converted to this gospel. Of all the things that I have learned there are a few that particularly stand out:
  • Heavenly Father is really our Father. He knows us and He LOVES us. I have felt that love in such significant and powerful ways. I know that He hears and answers my prayers. I have come to understand His love just a little bit better as I have looked into the eyes of complete strangers and felt sincere love for them.
  • Change IS possible. And it is possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Before the mission I knew what the Atonement was but now I know what it feels like. Anyone can change. I have seen it in myself and in others.
  • My plans are always plan B. Heavenly Father's plans are so much greater than my own. His plan was for me to serve a mission. And I'm so grateful that I was able to realize that was his plan for me.
  • The Book of Mormon is true. I have read it more on my mission than I have in my entire life. I LOVE that book. I know that it is true because I have prayed and gained that knowledge for myself.
There are so many other things that I have learned but I would never have time to share all of them. I can't say enough how grateful I am for the mission. It's so bittersweet that it is coming to an end. But, I know that Heavenly Father still has plans for me. There are things for me to do and become that I can look forward to.

Thank you for all the love and support that you have given to me. I never could have done it without you. It means so much to know that I have a wonderful family at home that supports me and backs me up 100%. I can't wait to see you all in a few days. It doesn't feel real.

Love you all heaps and heaps and heaps!

Sister Baker xxx

Friday, October 3, 2014

I feel like I have been led to such a promised land here in Australia. I have come to LOVE it here. It will always be my second home. - 9/29/14

Melbourne Mission Moments 

Well, it's the beginning of the end. I can't believe that I'm starting my last week in the mission field. It all seems so surreal. Honestly, it hasn't really hit me yet that I am going to be coming home so soon. I'm a little bit afraid for when it does hit.

We had a bit of a crazy week this week between being out of our area helping our sisters and being a bit under-the-weather but overall it was a really good week! Last Monday after we emailed we ran into a member in the shopping center who treated us to lunch. We ate at a place called bing boy. It's apparently "urban Asian street food." It was so yummy! You'll have to look it up because I can't really describe what it is. When we finished, we went home and our plan was to just relax. Haha, but then we decided to go on a run instead. Haha are we crazy?! But it was good! After that I started cleaning a few things in the flat. Man, when I start cleaning, I don't want to stop. I love having a clean, organized house! Monday night we tried to see a few people on the ward list that we didn't know but we didn't catch very many people at home and the houses that they were home, they didn't really want us there. It's sad. I think sometimes people have the idea that if missionaries show up on their doorstep, we are there to force them back to church when that's not it at all. We are there to love them and help them find their testimonies again. It wouldn't do anyone any good for us to force them to church. They need to decide on their own that it is something that they want.

Tuesday morning we had district meeting at the chapel. When we arrived at the chapel, all the youth in the stake were there in their pioneer clothes getting ready to leave on trek. I wanted to go with them! I was remembering my experience on trek and how much I loved it. I think trek had more impact on me than all the other activities or conferences that I did while in my youth. Our district meeting was really good. After district meeting, we all had lunch together. A member had dropped off chicken and rolls and drinks for all 18 of us that meet at the chapel. So nice of them! That afternoon, we had a lesson with a Filipino woman. She goes to a Pentecostal church and was pretty hesitant about accepting the Book of Mormon, however she did agree to read it and have us back again this week. After that we did some finding and stopped by to see a member who is about to have a baby to see if we could help her or serve her in any way. After our dinner appointment that evening, we left to drive to Deer Park to do exchanges with the Burnside Sisters, Sister R and Sister B. Sister B has only been out for 5 weeks but she is lucky to have Sister R as a trainer. Sister R in the best!

I got to spend all day on Wednesday with Sister R. In the morning, we had to drive the Burnside sisters to the other side of the city because a new sister arrived from Tonga and they are putting her in a trio with those Sisters. I don't know if it was school holidays or what but the traffic was pretty crazy so it took us nearly 3.5 hours. When we got back, we did a lot of finding in their area. We found one man named F! He was so amazing. When I met him, I felt an instant connection. It was one of those moments that you can really picture someone as what they can become. I saw him as a future Bishop and leader in the church. He is so cool. He was born in Kenya then lived in Delaware for 12 years where he got a Master’s degree. Then he moved to Australia. He asked us where we study and when I told him BYU he was so excited--he couldn't stop saying what a good school it was and how much good he had heard about it. And the best part is that he was so keen to have the Sisters come back and to learn about the gospel. It was really cool!

We stayed at their flat again Wednesday night. After we studied Thursday morning, we headed back to our area. We had DLC for our zone and it was a really good meeting. We all feel that there has been a bit of a lack of motivation and enthusiasm for the work in the zone lately. We decided that one thing that would really help was if everyone just had a more positive attitude. Ever since that meeting, every time missionaries see each other they say, "Be positive!" It's been fun! That afternoon we went finding together as a whole district. We worked together for a little over an hour and it was hugely successful!

Friday we unfortunately spent most of the day at the flat. I was feeling really not well and Sister V also was feeling pretty sick. We tried to make the most of it by doing some planning and making lots of phone calls and stuff. We did go out that night and met with the new RS president in the ward to figure out which sisters need our visits.

Saturday morning we had a lesson with an Indian-Fijian woman named Visha. She is Hindu but has such a desire to learn from us. And she is so humble. It was a beautiful lesson. After that we went to visit the H family. D served her mission in Fiji so we got some tips from her on teaching Indian-Fijians. After that we were able to have a lesson with F! We haven't been able to see him for a long time because of his work schedule. He is so awesome though! We taught him the plan of salvation and he absolutely loved it. He kept commenting about how everything was fitting together and making sense. It was really cool!  That night we had dinner with our ward mission leader's family. Then we were able to go see a recent convert named M. He was baptized in another ward last month but just moved into our ward. He is so awesome. He is from Iran and converted from being Muslim. My heart broke as he explained that he will never be able to go home or see his family again or else he will be killed. It honestly broke my heart. It is cool to see the sacrifices that he is willing to make for the gospel. Makes me realize how blessed I am to have a family who is in the gospel and embraces it as I do.

On another note-- Saturday was the AFL grand finale. The Hawthorn Hawks won for the second year in a row! It's pretty cool because that is the team I chose when I first got to Australia. Their colors are brown and gold :) (Go Darts!)

Sunday we expected to have several investigators at church. We thought that F would for sure be there because we had a member who was picking him up and everything but he didn't ever show up. We haven't been able to get a hold of him so we don't know what happened. We haven't been able to get a hold of K all week but last night she texted and asked if we were free. We were because an appointment fell through so we were able to go teach both K and her boyfriend. They both want to be baptized which is so awesome! We have another lesson with them on Wednesday this week!

Saturday was my 18 month mark and I finished reading the Book of Mormon for the fourth time on the mission that day. I love the book of Mormon so much. I learn so much from it and I genuinely look forward to reading it every day. A few things that stuck out to me this week:

·         Ether 6:8- sometimes I feel like the storms of life are relentless but I've come to realize that they are simply pushing me toward my "promised land." The storms are helping me to become what Heavenly Father wants/needs me to be.
·         1 Nephi 2:15- what it means to have humility and trust in the Lord. It talks of them [Lehi and his family] leaving all their riches, they were probably living a pretty comfortable life in Jerusalem but Lehi trusted the Lord and left it all and is now living in a tent.
·         1 Nephi 2:19-20- I feel like I have been led to such a promised land here in Australia. I have come to LOVE it here. It will always be my second home.

I can't begin to describe how much I love being a missionary. I am excited for this coming week, to work harder than ever and see the miracles. I may not be here to see people get baptized or come to church or those things but that's okay. I don't have to be the finisher. I can be a starter. I want to get a lot of great things started here in Tarneit this week. I know there are people who we can find who are prepared. We am going to find them this week, I know it.

Love you all heaps and heaps!
Sister Baker