audio . speaking portuguese

Links in red (click for info)

We sent Megan a voice recorder (that she got last week) and asked to hear some Portuguese. We got this audio file today along with her regular letter. It is slightly surreal hearing her speak a different language (her limited high school Spanish skills don't really qualify as knowing a different language)

The good thing about sending us a Portuguese audio file is we can't tell if she's any good at the language or not so we're easily impressed haha. It does sound different than a lot of the Portuguese we've heard but it's our understanding that the accent where she is in the Northeast is pretty high and sing song-y.

One of Emily's roommates served in Brazil and was able to translate for us. Basically it's three minutes of Megan thinking she's hilarious as she pretends to talk about us haha but we love listening to it anyway.



week 34 . just one of six

Links in red (click for info)

Hey gang.

This week felt like freakishly long. But it was a really good week too. We had ZONE CONFERENCE. Which was a literal dream come true. I cried A LOT because the spirit was so strong. Sister Soares talked about Jesus Christ and who he really is and how we can relate to him more than we think. President Soares talked about using the spirit in our work. It was all genuinely so inspired and answered a lot of questions that I had asked Heavenly Father before the conference. We also had a devotional about missionary work so President Soares came back to Caicó and spoke again. Huge blessing for us here. His talk was awesome and I hope helps the members here understand what our goals are as missionaries. We all need to work together in this work! 

The Zone Conference was great too because I got to see some missionaries who I knew from other zones and what-not. Including my "mom" Sister Garcia!!! So fun to see her! She is sister training leader now, what a babe. And as awesome as ever. She's going home in three transfers and I can't believe how fast the time passes. And at the conference I found out that there are only SIX American sisters in our entire mission. What? So weird to think that I'm just one of six here. 

Sister Moraes, Sister Rios, Sister Hernandez and Sister Baker
Sister Pace, Sister Hernandez, Sister Baker, Sister Moraes
Sister Hernandez, Sister Baker, Sister Rios
Sister Baker and Sister Rios
Sister Baker and Sister Hernandez
Sister Baker Megan and her "mom" Sister Garcia

Elder Clark, Elder W. Silva, Sister Rios and Sister Baker 

We're doing T25 (almost) every morning. Focus! And it's kicking our butts but we're loving it and Sister Rios and I have a bunch of goals to be healthier and stuff like that. (But I'm still eating obscene quantities of açaí because I'm weak and I think it's good for me, especially the sweetened condensed milk lol)

Sunday was a bit rough because we didn't have anyone at church. Francisco who got baptized a few weeks ago has had stuff happen every single week and hasn't been confirmed yet. This has been really hard for me. Sometimes I don't know if the problem is someone's agency or because I'm not doing my part. But I'm praying a lot for revelation to know how to help him and his family and we're not giving up on him. I love this family. 

About the ATM withdrawal you asked about...I had to take out a bunch of money on Friday because the sisters in our house are in charge of the zone t-shirts so we had to pay for them and then everyone will pay us back. I was already planning on emailing you about it cuz I knew it would look sketchy. Thanks for putting money in, I'll get the money we spent on t-shirts back (hopefully everyone pays. fingers crossed), but until then I'm pretty broke. Thanks for paying attention to this stuff. 

Other housecleaning: 

+ If you haven't sent CDs yet, don't send them. the rules changed in the mission and we can only listen to motab [mom note: Mormon Tabernacle Choir] and classical (so you can send CDs of Schubert if you want to ;) ) [mom note: the Schubert comment is a nod to one of her favorite movies The Young Victoria.]

+ Do you have the setting apart notes from Leslie and Shelley? Last time you sent some but said there were more from those two

+ What was the name of the ancient city place we went to when we went to Mexico? Was it Tikal?? 

+ How much is a round trip ticket to Guatemala? Maybeee I'm planning a backpacking trip with Sister Rios haha

+ Can you post #becausehelives photos and stuff on my Facebook and Instagram? I love it! Because He Lives is perfect. I wanted to talk about it more in my email but I'm out of time. Sad.

Because He Lives - English

Because He Lives - Portuguese

I hope you guys all have a wonderful week. 

Love you!

Sister Baker

[mom note: looks like there may be lots of camera "stealing" going on]

Sister Rios exchanging shoes with an Elder

Soaked from all the rain
Sister Rios celebrating "9 months" on the mission with fake pregnancy pictures. This seems to be a tradition amongst sister missionaries serving in South America.

Ward Activity...Scripture Jeopardy, maybe?
"Primary" girls...Sister Baker and Sister Hernandez
Singing what I'm guessing is Book of Mormon Stories complete with hand movements...
"Are about the Lamanites in ancient history"



sent 12.30.2014 // received today

Back of the envelope contained a pictorial of her Christmas Conference "experience" You can read more about it HERE

Feliz Natal Família!

I'm actually writing this letter after Christmas so it's a little late, but we gave this picture to the members of the Urick Graff ward here. We took the picture at the infamous mission Christmas Conference (before all the stomach problems popped up) I love the sisters I'm living with and I love Mossoró and I feel so lucky to have spent my Christmas here with them and the members here. Christmas was very different without you guys, but despite missing my perfect family, I loved spending Christmas in the Natal (Christmas) Mission. I've never spent a Christmas before so dedicated to the true meaning of this season, Jesus Christ. My love for the Savior has never been stronger. I'm understanding just the tiniest bit of what His life was like teaching and serving the people everyday of his life. I am able to feel shadows of the feelings He felt:: the love he has for each person, His joy when they followed Him, His sorrow when they chose a different path. i know that Jesus Christ lives. That His birth in the pastoral town of Bethlehem was a humble beginning to the life of the most perfect man to walk the earth. That He lived and died for each of us. That because He suffered we don't have to. And that is why I'm here! To help other people know this. I'm grateful for parents and siblings who taught me more everyday about Jesus Christ through their words and actions as they follow Him. I love you all so very much. Eu amo voces. 

Con amor,

Sister M. Baker


week 33 . it's RAINING phlegm

Links in red (click for info)

[mom note: After last weeks letter was posted we got pictures from Megan. They have been added to last weeks letter here. She also sent pictures from Francisco's baptism (not to be confused with another Francisco she talks about in this letter) and those pictures were added here.]

I don't have a ton to write about this week because I spent like half of it dying in my hammock. I got some crazy virus/cold/infection from the telestial kingdom (Missionary joke. Sorry.) But really...I could only move to get up to go to the bathroom or move to another sister's hammock to mix things up. I had just about every symptom in the book. The other sisters got sick with other things so our house was just in a sad state this week. But the Elders and a member of the ward gave us priesthood blessings. I love the priesthood. It is so comforting knowing that there are men on earth with the power to act in the name of God for my benefit. And then later the Elders bought milkshakes for all us sisters and dropped them off at our house. They're great. And Sister Ríos was a great stand in "mom" and took great care of me. #blessed

I'm not going to lie, the first couple of hours of being sick was sort of nice. Like a forced break. I literally could not work. So I got to do extra personal study and sleep and other stuff that there's never time for as a missionary. BUT by the third hour of confinement I was going CRAZY. It's horrible not being able to work as a missionary. Our only purpose here for a year and a half is to talk to and help people. And when your sick you can't do that. When I finally got out of the house I felt like Rapunzel in Tangled when she leaves the tower for the first time. I was getting weirdly excited about dirty street animals and the strange smells of Caicó. But my companion loves me and put up with my antics haha. Good ol' Sister Ríos. Love her.

Miracle this week. It RAINED. Like really really rained in Caicó. That hasn't happened in 4 years! Which was such a huge blessing for the people here. But not quite as much of a blessing for the two sisters trekking through torrential downpour. We were literally soaked through. Not one inch of our clothing or hair or anything stayed dry. Books of Mormon (Book of Mormons?) = soaked. Agendas = soaked. Us = soaked. But we got to live out our 17 Miracles dreams and forge through knee-high rivers of water. Honestly it was really fun. (knock on wood don't want to do it again because it already happened twice this week) But we were just laughing so hard because we were literally shivering we were so cold. COLD. Cold in Caicó! This does not exist people. It's like London now but with more donkeys in the road. 

We weren't able to follow up with Francisco as much as we would have liked this week because of my evil sickness, but when we taught him he just showed us over and over how much of a dream investigator he is. The Elders went with us one time to teach him and they just loved him right away. He is so sweet and already so in tune with the spirit. When he prayed in the lesson the other day he started to cry. You can all imagine what I did. (hint: cry). But we were hugely disappointed because he was supposed to be baptized yesterday and when we went to walk with him to church only his sister was there. And she told us that at like 9 on Saturday night he left the house and hadn't come home yet. We haven't been able to get back there yet, but we're hoping he's okay and also that we can help him to make the sacred covenant of baptism. Keep him in your prayers please! 

I'm happy to be here on the mission and to be healthy again! (it's the best!) And Sister Ríos and I are going to work really hard this week and I'm pumped

Amo vocês todos. 

Sister Baker

[mom note: no pictures this week from Megan but I "borrowed" these from the blog of one of the sisters she lives with]

Sister Hernandez, Sister Rios, Sister Moraes, Sister Baker
Sister Baker, Sister Hernandez, Sister Rios, Sister Moraes


week 32 . both sides of the spectrum: hardships and blessings

Links in red (click for info)

This week in Caicó. . . 

We witnessed what I'm pretty sure were the plagues of Egypt. Last Monday it rained. A ton. We were literally wading through the streets with our groceries.

Sister Baker and Sister Hernandez 
Sister Rios
And then afterwards there were about 5 million mosquitoes in our house that ate us alive. Then to top it all off the next day there was a city-wide blackout for almost 24 hours.

We had to stop working early for safety and we were walking around our apartment with head lamps (and maybe making a lot of "its-the-end-of-the-world-and-we're-out-of-rations videos haha). It was frustrating on the work side of things because it was impossible to do anything, but at the same time the sisters and I had a lot of fun together. [mom note: heres a glimpse into what Megan's "its-the-end-of-the-world-and-we're-out-of-rations' videos look like. She seems to have embraced this genre haha. Can't wait to see the mission version. These clips are from a trip we took to Santa Barbara/Solvang right before she left on her mission]

Speaking of having fun with the Sisters, we did a FHE [mom note: Family Home Evening] with the four of us at home after we had all got home one day. We had snacks, and drank soda, and Sister Ríos gave the message (about eternal marriage hahaha trunky) [mom note: Trunky is a slang term used amongst Mormon missionaries, describing a missionary who is thinking about and/or excited to go home. Trunky as in he or she has already packed their trunk] then we played some games (that one where you have a name on your forehead and have to figure out who you are. I was Jesus Christ, and then Dilma the President of Brasil. Feeling distinguished over here haha). It was really fun to remember that missionary work doesn't have to be just stress, but that we can have a good time too. Love the sisters in my house. 

As for the work itself, even though the ward here is struggling, I am loving it here. It's hard. It's tiring. But I feel like there's a work here for me to do. And our Zone is AMAZING. Our Zone Leaders are fantastic, and they've really got the Zone excited. All the missionaries here seem really cool and like they're ready to hit the ground running here in Caicó. It's going to be a great transfer.

Caicó Zone
This week we witnessed both sides of the spectrum with hardships and blessings. . . 

the hardest part about being a missionary ::
We met a young man (18 yrs old) named Wesley this week. He had met the missionaries as a kid, but never was baptized. He had a lot of questions that he wanted answered, not just about the church, but about God, prayer, the Bible. Everything. We were teaching him, answering questions, and the spirit was so strong. I walked out of that lesson, so excited to continue teaching him. Already imagining him as a future leader in the church. But when we went back he was really different. He just kept shutting us out. There are a lot of people that reject us. A lot. But this time was different. I had felt that he was ready to recieve the Gospel and then he changed out of nowhere. I'm positive something happened to change his perspective. He flat out refused to read the Book of Mormon and ask about it. I was dying. I kept trying to ask questions, figure out the problem, but nothing. When I said the closing prayer I just started to cry and I couldn't stop. I hate the feeling of knowing that this person needs the Gospel and is unwilling to even read a verse or say a prayer asking God. It breaks my heart. 

the best part about being a missionary ::
Last week we met a man named Francisco (not the Francisco who was baptized, a different one. there's a lot of them here haha). When we met him he was really really drunk. With a beard and long hair and nothing he said was making sense. We were talking to his sister who has some kids who are inactive members of the church. But when we went back to talk to her again a couple days ago, only he was home. And he was really different. He had cut his hair, and shaved, and we taught him. Wow. The spirit was so strong and he has so much desire to change. He said that he had decided (by himself before we got there) that he wanted to stop drinking, smoking, and drinking coffee. Looks like he found the Word of Wisdom pamphlet somewhere on the ground haha. But we taught him and he is so excited to start a new life and accepted baptism. He went to church on Sunday and loved it, and the first thing he said afterward was, next week I'll be here again. So sweet. I'm so excited to teach him and help him make changes in his life. 

Also we had lunch at a members house this week and her mom has alzheimers. She barely remembers anything (who her daughter is, how old she is). BUT she remembers that she's "mormon" and how to pray. She said a prayer and all four of us sisters were just crying crying crying, it was so sweet. 

scripture study ::
Still reading the Old Testament (surprise surprise), but I was reading in Ezra (that I didn't know existed until now), and it's amazing! It's all about the people of God rebuilding the temple and the challenges that they had to face (stop construction because of people who didn't want them to build or things like that). But it shows these people's faith! And there was a part where all the elderly people who had seen the old temple before it was destroyed saw the foundation of the new temple and started to cry. And maybe I started to cry reading this part. But it made me so grateful for the temple (ah I miss it). 

+ We were with the sisters and elders and the elders walked away and Sister Hernandez had a cake that a member had made for them. And I was calling the cake beautiful and Sister Hernandez thought I was saying that I thought the elder was beautiful hahahahaha. awk.
+ During the blackout I was sitting in my hammock filming Sister Moraes and I and maybe I fell flat on my back. In the video. Classic. 

I love you guys so much and I'm "mandando um cheiro" (sending a smell, doesn't really make sense, but here in the northeast they give kisses on the cheek but also smell your neck. it's a thing.)

Have a great week!
tchau tchau!

Sister Baker
Megan doesn't send descriptions with her pictures but after some google searching I think this is Castle Engady. Leave it to the wanna-be Londoner to find a castle in Caicó, Brazil
Sister Rios and Sister Baker. Se Deus quiser = If God wants it

Treats from home
Sister Rios and Sister Baker 


week 31 . from natal to [CRY]có (jk i'm fine now)

Links in red (click for info)

[mom note: picture's of Daniel's baptism were added to last weeks email. To view click on link in red]

Well I've learned a lesson with the last two emails I've sent. EVERYTIME that I say that I'm super excited for something (the week with my companion in my area, or the transfer with my companion in my area) it never happens. First the division, and now transfers. Sister Carvalho and I were sitting together when the Elders called and we were all excited to hear about where everyone else was going because we were POSITIVE we would stay together, and then we heard. . . 

"Sister M. Baker was transferred to Seridó in CAICÓ"


"And Sister Carvalho is going to TRAIN a new sister." 

And we looked at each other and burst into tears. I was so mad. I finally got the hang of things in Natal and I was being transferred. And there won't be new sisters in the area where we were so Sister Carvalho and the greenie are going to continue covering the two areas! We both lost it. But we got açaí together for the last time, and talked and calmed ourselves down. Then I spent the whole night packing because everything I own was spread around that house (but not in a messy way mom just that nothing was in my suitcases).

Sister Baker and Sister Carvalho

Sister Gonzales and Sister Cieslak

The next morning we woke up bright and early and went to the mission office so that Sister Carvalho could meet her "daughter." It was nice because I got to see all the sisters who were going home. . . Gonzales, Dyer, and Marcelino! So so so good to see all of them especially Sister Marcelino. Love her to pieces. And I saw pictures of the wedding and baptism of a family we taught together in Mossoró. So perfect.

And I saw Sister Brown!! She looked a little nervous (how can you not be when everyone is yelling and hugging and crying in Portuguese) but she seems like she's already handling the transition well. And guess who is her "mom". . . SISTER CARVALHO. I don't know if i'm excited beyond belief for them or super jealous. Both. But they'll be awesome companions, so excited for both of them and the Natal ward.

Then after a very long bus ride. I made it to Caicó. It's in "interior" which I think is Portuguese for the country. [mom note: I think it just so happens that the interior of Brazil is where the more rural areas are] Same as Mossoró. And Caicó and Mossoró are about the same level of crazy sun burning you to death. But I was happy to go back to interior because I think the people are more open to hear about the gospel. I met my companion, Sister Ríos at the bus station. 

about Sister Ríos 
+ from Guatemala!
+ lived in the USA for 1 year and a half being a nanny and speaks fluent English!
+ is a crack-up and also understands when I crack stupid jokes, including puns hallelujah!
+ is a really hard worker and gets me so excited to do the work here, even when the sun has other ideas
+ is super service minded, always offering to make me tea or who knows what else. sweetest. 
+ we laugh a lot.
+ we also have a lot of spiritual discussions
+ i love her!

I'm also living with Sister Moraes (from Mato Grosso in Brasil) and Sister Hernandez (from Provo Utah). I got to know the two of them a little bit during the exchange with Sister Gonzales because they were in Natal for a few days and I already liked them both so much. So excited to live with them! Sister Hernandez is a major kindred spirit, and I feel like I'm talking to myself in the beginning of the mission. She still is struggling with the language a bit, but she's learning so fast. I'm already loving living here and serving here. 

We don't eat lunch with the Sisters though which is weird, because they're in a different ward. We're in a ward with our Zone Leaders, Elder Clark and Elder W. Silva. Elder Clark is like a missionary version of Brian Regan and I get excited to go to lunch just to hear him tell stories. And Elder W. Silva has a ton of great ideas for the Zone and the ward. It's been great working with them this week.

Elder Clark and Elder W. Silva

The ward here is struggling a lot. It looks like a lot of the missionaries who passed by here baptized a lot of little kids or youth. Which isn't necessarily the problem, but there are almost no adults to be leaders in the ward. None of the organizations have all of the presidency and teachers. And Sunday during Sacrament Meeting Elder W. Silva and I had to give talks (which we found out the night before lol) and we were up there in the front watching everyone walking in and out of the meeting and it was all just kind of a mess. I got so sad seeing that, but I think it gave us and the Elders a huge push to truly help change things here in the Seridó Ward. The ward still meets in a little house, but with 15 more people every week (5 of them being priesthood holders) they can have a chapel! We want that chapel! So we're going to work like crazy to reach this goal, reactivating members and finding and teaching adults and families!

We're off to a good start because Sister Ríos and I had a baptism this week!!! His name is Francisco and he's great. He is a single dad with two kids (Kessia who is 12 and Kelison who is 10 or 11). Sister Ríos said that the sisters had already taught him for a while and had decided to not teach him anymore because he wasn't progressing, but we went there and I was talking to him and getting to know him and I asked him if he has prayed about baptism. And then he said that he had prayed. That one night he knelt down and prayed about what path he should take in his life. And that night he dreamt about his baptism. The spirit was so strong as he told us this. And we explained that this was an answer from God and he said "I know." So the next day we went back with the Elders so that he could be interviewed and when he came out Elder W. Silva said that Fransico would be baptized on Sunday! And Fransico said that he had prayed again after we left the night before and had another dream about his baptism. I am already seeing miracles here in Caicó.

Elder Clark, Elder W. Silva, Sister Baker, Francisco and Sister Rios

Sister Baker, Francisco, and Sister Rios


What would a week in a new area be without embarassing things happening to me. . . Well the four of us sisters were eating açaí to celebrate hitting the standard of excellence and Sister Ríos looks at a car pulling up and says "Hey look it's a missionary" joking around because there was someone with a white shirt and tie in the car. And then Sister Hernandez says "He looks american." And Sister Moraes says, "It's Elder Warth!" (an elder from our mission who just finished his mission). And he got out of the car with his parents! Haha so we're already laughing and then his parents come up and are talking to us in English. Sister Hernandez said I looked like I thought they were speaking some alien language. It was so weird. Sister Hernandez was so excited to hear someone speaking English I thought she was going to hug them. And Sister Ríos was calm and collected and chatted with them a little bit. And when they asked me where I'm from I almost couldn't say "I'm from California" in English. And then the mom said something about her son and said his first name and I gasped and was all weird because he was my zone leader in Mossoró and it was so weird that she didn't call him Elder. And then she apologized and I was like no don't worry it's all good. Ah so embarrassing. And then when they walked away I started laughing / crying because it was funny but also I don't speak English. 

Well that was my week. A little bit crazy, and a complete roller coaster. But after all the tears and everything I am happy to be here. I know this area won't be easy but I'm excited to make a difference here. I love being a missionary. 

Have a wonderful week everyone.
Love you all

Sister Baker

[mom note: I like learning about the areas Megan is serving in. I recognize this info will not interest most people but its fun for our family and perhaps other missionaries with calls to serve in the Brazil Natal Mission. Plus the info will all be here for Megan to enjoy when she gets home. Here's some things I found while researching her new area in Seridó, Caicó...

:: Radio Seridó (hear whats playing on the radio in Megan's area)
:: Blog Seridó

Also, we got a voice recording from Megan this week with her and the sisters she lives with singing a Brazilian version of happy birthday to Megan's dad. If anyone knows how I can get that on the blog please send me an email (check the sidebar) You will showered with praise and other goodies for your help.]