7.27.2015

week 51 . "therefore thou shalt eat ice cream"

Links in red (click for more info)

[mom note: Pictures that Megan sent after last Monday's post were added to last weeks letter]

This week passed by so fast I can't believe that it is already Monday again. It was crazy busy. We had to follow up and continue teaching and helping our recent-converts from last week. They've got a lot of energy haha. But we made little calenders for them to pray and read the scriptures every day and it's so sweet how before we even ask they tell us that they marked all the boxes the day before. I love them. 

The sad thing is that in the neighborhood where they and another of our recent-converts live there has been a lot of things said about the church and us. Things are 100% untrue and ridiculous. Some examples: we don't believe in God or Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith is our God, that we don't believe in the Bible, that the missionaries (us) are super kind and outgoing and nice so that we can trick people into being baptized, and my personal favorite: that we have a "mormon fire" where we kill people that we don't like or that are different from us. I wouldn't believe that people actually would say these kinds of things about another church if I wasn't seeing for myself how it's affecting our recent-converts. The parents of one of them were getting really worried and weren't going to let him go to church anymore, but we went over there and talked and explained what was the truth. And most importantly we invited them to pray and ask God. He will not lie to us like others will. I'm nervous for all the bad influences that are affecting our recent converts but we're working hard and praying for them. And I'm grateful for all that we heard this week because it strengthened my testimony that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I have absolutely no doubt about that. [mom note: Here's a quick rundown of our beliefs as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they're called the Articles of Faith (13 statements that summarize our fundamental beliefs) You will see that we do believe in God and the Bible. Unfortunately there is no statement addressing "mormon fire". I'm going to assume our friends and family, that are not of our faith, recognize that as an untruth and are not fearful for their life but will continue to be comfortable attending beach bonfires and backyard barbecues with us. We're a pretty safe bunch haha]

Last week I mention José Luiz's dad, Solon. . . GREAT NEWS! Solon and Dariana are going to get married! We went to the cartório (forgot the word in English) and marked their wedding for August 29! [mom note: I think she is talking about the registrars office] I'm so excited and happy for them! We're going to get planning so that they can have a beautiful ceremony in the church and we're hoping that Sister Trage stays one more transfer so that she can be here to see it. I'm so excited for them!

Yesterday we had 2 baptisms! It was an extremely stressful day but it all worked out in the end and I am so happy for them!


Natalia :: She's a recent-convert's friend and went to a church activity with her and then started going to church and we started teaching her! Her dad was taught by missionaries a while back (like a long while back) but still has his Book of Mormon! We're working to teach him and his wife too! But Natalia has such strong faith for a 12 year old girl. We left a chapter in the Book of Mormon for her to read and when we went back the next day she had written a synopsis of the chapter (what she understood, applying it). She's great!

Emily :: Another friend of a different recent-convert. I love referrals! She is an absolute sweetheart. Honestly she's an angel. She's so calm and quiet and sweet, and as she has gone to church and prayed she said that she has felt so happy. Her parents were hesitant to let her get baptized, but she told them how she felt, explained about the Book of Mormon to them, and explained why it was important to her and on Sunday morning they told us that they had decided to let her be baptized. She was so happy and even more so after her baptism.








#minhavida
We were in a lesson with a man who earlier in the week had told one of our investigators that we bury people alive in the church (points for creativity), but the next day he listened to a part of our lesson with this investigator and said he was sorry and that he had been wrong and he recognized that we were servants of God. But we went back to teach him and it was evening-time. Which is dinner-time for the mosquitoes. I have never felt so many bugs biting me at one time. I was trying to be subtle but I spent the entire lesson rubbing the side of my chaco up and down my leg or hitting myself with the lesson pamphlets haha. And then this man starts going on about how he reads the Bible and starts talking about what he read in Genesis but he was calling it "geneos." Sister Trage and I were dying. And he kept "quoting" the Bible, aka saying whatever he wanted in biblical language and calling it scripture. And the Bible says, "And thou shalt enter into thine neighbors house and he shall give thee 6 dollars. Therefore thou shalt eat ice cream." hahaha (but in spite of it all it was a good lesson! He went to church yesterday woo hoo!)

Well that's it. I'm going to take advantage of pday today and rest like I've never rested before. I'm exhausted but so happy. I love the mission. 

Love you guys!
beijos

Sister Baker

7.20.2015

week 50 . a land of miracles

Links in red (click for more info)

[mom note: after posting last weeks letter Megan sent a ton of photos. You can find some of the pictures HERE as well as links to more new pictures]

So Mossoró is officially the land of miracles

This week we had . . . FIVE BAPTISMS.

Roberto, Joao, José Luiz, Paulo, Jailton, José
I don't believe it either. I am sort of still in shock. We are having so much success in this area, but I know it is not the natural charm of my companion and I bringing this success (although it probably helps ;) ), but it is truly the Lord's hand in our work here. Sister Trage and I are working hard to be 100% diligent and obedient and really follow the spirit, and even though we're not perfect, God has blessed our area so much.

A quick "getting to know you" about the people who were baptized:

José :: He's 21 years old and a reference from Jailton (my old ward mission leader in Urick Graff who lives in Abolição now) for some sisters that were here before me. José is literally a perfect investigator. Zero, zero problems with word of wisdom (not even coffee!) or any other commandments. Already has a bunch of friends who are members of the church. Already has a ride to church every Sunday. He's perfect. He was just really hesitant to get baptized. But last week Sister Savage (the American who lives with me) was sitting next to him at church and talked about baptism and he accepted for this week! And he was so excited on the day of the baptism. He said he woke up at 4 am and couldn't get back to sleep because he was so excited. He's awesome. And he loves Harry Potter, London, and the Hunger Games etc. so we're already besties.



José Luiz :: He's 11 going on 12 this month. He is an actual angel and I sort of want him to be my child. He is so well behaved and sweet and loves going to church. We watched a super cheesy church movie with his family and afterwards he told us how much he liked it, especially when it talked about God and showed the passing of the sacrament. He's a sweetheart. His dad, Solon, is dying to get baptized but he has to get married first but he goes to church every Sunday with José Luiz and they are like perfect members of the church (even though Solon isn't a member and José Luiz just got baptized yesterday). Also fun(ny) fact: José Luiz has two brothers: Luiz José and Luiz Antonio. I think their parents liked the name Luiz hahaha.



Paulo :: He's a recent-convert's older brother. He's 14 and a riot and a half. He really wants to be cool so he talks a big talk about all the stuff he's going to do "wrong" to get us worked up, but when it comes to going to church he's always up and ready at like 6 am and then goes and checks to see if everyone else is ready and waits for us in the street to tell us what the deal is with everyone else. He's secretly a total softie. Love him haha. 



João :: He's 12 and he always follows us around all over the place. He's friends with Paulo and Bia (the recent-convert) and that whole gang. He told us that he was going to be baptized haha. He's got a lot of energy, but he's a great kid. And he's already best buds with Jailton (young mens president) to the point of him and Paulo playing video games at his house the night before their baptism haha. 


Roberto :: Also 12 years old. Also friends with Paulo and João etc. He comes from a family situation that is more than a little bit difficult. His life hasn't been easy and he's a little rough around the edges because of that. This week he almost gave up on his baptism, on the church, everything. I talked to him for a long time and nothing. But after we said a prayer together I looked over at him and there were tears running down his face. He said that he had really wanted to get baptized. I asked what had changed. He said that there were people making fun of him for going to church. It broke my heart. But after talking a little bit more he decided to go through with his baptism, that God was more important than the others. I invited him to pray about the church and his baptism that night and the next day before his baptismal interview he told me that he had prayed and that he "felt something inside of him." and that he got goosebumps and felt light and happy. So sweet. On Sunday he almost gave up again because of a misunderstanding with a Sunday School teacher at church. When he walked away I started to cry so much. I just wanted him to be able to have a different life than what he has and I know the gospel will help him. I cried and cried and felt dumb because we had other baptisms and other people at church and I felt ungrateful, but then I realized what Christ was talking about in the parable of the lost sheep. Leave the 99 and go after the 1. It was the first time I had really understood what that feeling was like. But when we got to the baptism he was there waiting in front of the church, he had walked there all by himself. 

video


The baptisms were beautiful and spiritual and perfect. It was a long and hard and exhausting week but it was all so worth it in the end. I am feeling so incredibly blessed.



And now to close this email in typical Sister Baker fashion...

#minhavida ::
+ Sister Trage and I were in a lesson with a recent convert and his mom in front of their house. We were sitting on some wooden chairs, the kind that have a bunch of slats where you sit. And as I'm inviting the two of them to keep a commandment and make a change in their life to follow Christ and all that spiritual stuff, I feel something jab through the wooden slats and touch my butt. I gave a little jump and let out the weirdest squeal and Sister Trage looks at me like "what the heck are you doing?" and then I felt the jab again and I'm freaking out. And the mom walks over to my chair and grabs a cat from underneath. There was a cat under my chair attacking my butt. There's a first for everything. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week (free of sketchy cats under your chairs).
I love my mission so much. 

And I love all of you.

Sister M. Baker

7.13.2015

week 49 . smelly cat, smelly cat what are they feeding you?

UPDATE: Photos have been added to this post as well as the following posts found HERE, HERE and HERE.

Links in red (click for info)

This week EDIMILSON WAS BAPTIZED. He is an amazing example of true conversion. Last week he was a different person. But now he is visibly different and a true disciple of Christ. He is an older man who had some problems with the Word of Wisdom but really wanted to free himself from his addictions. And he did! With God's help, he did. And He was so so excited to be baptized. He passed the entire week telling all of his neighbors and friends that he was going to be baptized. And he bought a new towel just for the baptism. He lives in a humbler situation but when he went to the church for the baptismal interview he went in his best clothes, a button down cotton shirt and some church pants. And we had an old white men's shirt in our house that we gave to him and a friend of his who is a member of the church gave him a tie. So yesterday he showed up at church dressed to the nines with a giant smile on his face. And before his baptism he said his heart was pounding so fast, he wanted me to feel his chest to show me hahaha. And during the baptism he was so anxious to be baptized he was practically shaking. And afterwards he said how happy he was. It was a beautiful experience. I am so happy for him.








We didn't have water for these last couple of days in our house. I never realized how absolutely essential running water is. It's a big deal. We couldn't shower, we brushed our teeth with the small amount of water we had in a bottle for this type of situation, and we had a massive pile of dirty dishes in the sink, and the toilet. . . you don't even want to know. We showered at a sweet sweet member's house that gave us juice and sandwiches afterwards on top of letting us use her bathroom. And thankfully the water came back last night so today we did a deep clean in our house and all is well. And Sister Trage and I learned that we shouldn't murmur from our recent-convert, Leni. The day that the water disappeared we had been whining a little (or a lot) and we stopped by Leni's to talk to her and teach her and we read 1 Nephi 16 and she applied it (as if she'd been a member for years) saying how it's so easy to complain about things, but we should be like Nephi and be proactive to resolve the problem and then trust in God. Sister Trage and I repented. haha

The other day all of our commitments fell through. We were at a loss. We prayed to Heavenly Father that he could help us find new investigators where we were (close to the chapel). We were in a square/park and there was a man power walking the whole time we were there. Sister Trage really wanted to do a contact with him but when she said hi he didn't stop. Finally when he was a little more tired and power walking at a slower speed. . . she walked right alongside him. Him in workout clothes and her in a dress with a nametag. And me, basically running behind them to keep up (he was a fast power walker). She had a full on conversation about the church with him, all that's missing was a prayer. (meanwhile my hair got caught in a tree and I'm struggling to free myself. #strugs hahaha). I died laughing. But we're going to teach him today! My companion's a rockstar. 

A man stopped us on his motorcycle the other day and asked about the church (miracle) and we taught him on Saturday. He had all the perfect questions. . . why are there so many churches that teach different things? Does God speak with man in our days? Why are we here on earth? What happens after death? And I was pumped out of my mind because he was practically reciting an outline of the missionary discussions. BUT, he would not let us talk. He just kept yammering on and on and on. I wanted to put duct tape over his mouth haha.  And when we teach him again I might do just that. And on top of everything he kept insinuating that we probably didn't understand his questions or what he was saying about the Bible. But I'll pray for patience and hopefully we'll be able to actually get through a lesson with him. He'd be a perfect investigator if he would just listen haha.

#minhavida
+ When Siste Trage was hanging out her laundry to dry she discovered a dead cat behind our house. She thought he was sleeping and poked him with a stick...but he wasn't sleeping. She said she almost didn't tell me because she didn't want me to cry haha. But we all went back there and maneuvered him into a cardboard box and I said a prayer for the poor little guy and that no more cats would die in or near our house haha. Then we put the box out front with our trash, but the garbage truck passed and left the box there. And it was starting to smell so bad. There were about a million flies around the box. So Sister Trage and I put tshirts over our faces to mask the smell, grocery sacks on our hands and mentally prepared ourselves to throw him into a field (which is apparently how you deal with dead cats here according to the Bishop's wife). But when we went out there the box was gone. A homeless man passing by explained that he had taken it and thrown it in the field. Our angel. I was extremely relieved as I'm sure you can imagine.



Megan and Sister Trage
 [mom note: a little video to go with her email subject line/title of this post]


+ When we were leaving Leni's house the other day I tried to compliment her flowerpot. I was saying how pretty it and the plants were and I gestured at it with my foot to show what I was talking about. My foot barely touched the pot and the corner of it broke off. Sister Trage almost died she laughed so hard. She kept asking me why I felt the need to touch it to be able to compliment it haha. I'm asking myself the same question. 

Another great week in Mossoró! I'm so happy and grateful to be here. This week please pray for // José // José Luiz // Paulo who we are preparing for baptism. 

Also, I got the Star Wars package!!!! LOVED everything about it. The clothes are fantastic I want to use them on the daily. And Meet the Mormons woo! And mac and cheese! I love my life and I love you!


I got a few letters from the family from when you went to the Turner Exhibit. There was also another letter from Pie [mom note: Megan's sisters nickname] and one from Mom. Plus other letters from family and friends.  Thank you thank you!

I know, I promise I tried to send pictures this week but the wifi was super weak and they didn't go through. I'm on the job though I promise. Sorry about the pic drought, I'll really send some. What were the last pics you got from me so I know where to start? [mom note: her response when we I guilted her about not sending enough pictures]

I love you all!
xoxo

Sister Baker 

7.06.2015

week 48 . transfer week // zion or bust

Links in red (click for more info)

TRANSFER WEEK! I'm pretty sure you all know that I was transferred because of Facebook [mom note: a sweet church member posted a picture of Megan arriving to the new area]  but I'm going to pretend you don't know and have a party in this email because I was transferred to. . .  

(aka Zion)

When we were listening to the transfer call I couldn't handle how excited I was. I think I went into shock. I loved the last three transfers that I spent in Caicó.  I love the missionaries and members and converts and investigators there. But the work was hard. I was praying and praying for an area that we could help more people, where people would have open hearts to accept our message. And God sent me to Mossoró. My dream come true. 

I'm back in my "birthplace" haha. [mom note: The area where she started her mission] This time I'm in the Abolição Ward and I'm so excited. Sisters Porter, Francis, Dyer, and a few other friends already worked in this ward and I've only heard good things. It's easy to see why. The members here are fantastic. They are so proactive about integration of investigators with the members and it's obvious that they are truly interested in missionary work. Jailton, my old ward mission leader in Urick Graff moved and is the Young Men's president here! Good to see a familiar face (even if he does remember when I could barely say one sentence in Portuguese). And yesterday we had a meeting with our ward mission leader here, Felipe, and his wife made some killer hot chocolate. I'm on cloud nine here. 

Other transfer news  ::
+ Sister Morais stayed in Seridó. I miss her. It was a hard goodbye after spending so much time together and growing to know and love each other. But she is now the senior companion and I know she will take great care of things there with our investigators. I talked to her yesterday and it sounds like there are already great things happening with investigators that we had. 

+ Elder W. Silva was also transferred to . . . Mossoró hahaha. We're not in the same district anymore, but he will continue as my Zone Leader (with Elder Tavares). He's a great leader and friend and I'm excited to keep working with him. 

+ Sister Carvalho is my Sister Training Leader and she's working in Urick Graff 1 (my old area). Pumped on life. 

Sister Rios, Elder W Silva and Megan
Now onto my new life in Mossoró. My companion is. . . 

SISTER TRAGE (trah-jee)
about her  ::
+ She's gaucha. [from Rio Grande do Sul] (same state as Sister Carvalho). 

+ This is her third transfer on the mission. I'm her second companion. I was worried that she would not like me on sight for replacing her "mom," but no such thing happened, we get along great.

+ She studied and worked in the psychology field and I'm whipping out all of my senior year AP psych facts and we have some fun nerd conversations. 

+ I think she was born as a missionary because she's perfect. It's like Preach My Gospel [mom note: a missionary teaching and training guide] threw up on her. I'm learning more with her than she is with me. She's a wonderful and captivating teacher and she's organized and decisive and confident and I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful and prepared companion. 

+ She's sweet and she's funny and has a strong testimony of the gospel and I love her already. 

We live in a house (not an apartment for the first time) that's got a few ants, cockroaches, spiders, etc. (and cats in the ceiling haha). But other than the critters it's a great house. We live with Sister Lencini (also gaucha) and Sister Savage (greenie from Las Vegas. Mom, I think you've already talked to her haha) [mom note: Sister Savage reached out to me on Facebook with questions about the mission before she left] They're wonderful! They are motiviating me to be better about working out too, we go running every morning (Shan, I always think of you haha). Maybe in the future I'll be able to run more than two laps without wanting to die haha.

Sister Trage and Megan
Megan's new district - Sister Lencini, Megan, Sister Trage, Sister Savage and the elders
Now if my life wasn't good enough just because of the transfers and my comp and everything...we had seven people at church AND we had a BAPTISM this week. Her name is Leni. Sister Trage saw her get mugged when they were running one morning last week and after helping her and making sure she was alright got her info and went to teach her. We went and taught her the day after I got here and she's perfect. She's a teacher in an elementary school and she is so nice and friendly and so in tune with the spirit. She told us how she felt when she prayed about the church and said it was a wonderful, happy feeling that was hard to describe. As we explained that the Spirit was confirming the truth of these things she agreed and said she knew that this was right. She had been nervous about the idea of baptism but knew that God had answered her prayers and chose faith over fear. When we taught her about the Word of Wisdom she told us that she drinks coffee, but is more than willing to stop drinking it in order to keep a commandment of the Lord. I LOVE HER. Yesterday she went to church by herself (normally we pass by everyone's house to get them for church) and participated in the Sunday School classes. And last night she was baptized! The baptismal meeting was beautiful and spiritual. A young man/recent-convert from the ward baptized her and special testimonies were born and I was so happy and it was clear to see that she was as well. And she's already preparing herself to be able to go visit the temple in Recife next month!!! I know that Leni will be a powerful member of the church here and I consider myself honored to be able to teach her.

Megan, Leni and Sister Trage







+ Sister Trage and I made a cake (tried to at least) for Leni's baptism. The cake itself turned out fine, even if it wasn't as fluffy and light as it should have been. haha. But we tried to make a "frosting" type thing for the top of the cake with a recipe that was on the package. We were missing a few ingredients but we decided to wing it. Worst idea ever haha. We ended up with a mixture that tasted mostly like sugary butter and ended up (almost) working out as pancake batter. Hahaha but my companion and I had some good bonding time and a lot of laughs as we tried literally everything to make it taste better (blending, boiling, putting in a million different ingredients). We ended up just making chocolate sauce to pour over it so it all worked out haha. 

+ We are teaching a man who has a drinking problem. And when he's been drinking he's extremely emotional and cries a lot and stops people in the street to tell them that he's going to be a "believer" with us hahaha. And yesterday he patted my hair as if I were a cat and said "my American" and then started crying and asking for forgiveness for doing it. He's a character. But he really does want to change so we're going to help him!

Once again I LOVE MY LIFE. 

I know that God hears our prayers and wants our happiness. I am so very grateful for the chance I have to be here. I love Mossoró and all the people that I got to know here and I'm excited to get to know more. Here's to hoping I "die" (in mission terms, not in real life) here. Yes, I know it's a ways away but I'm down. 

Dad, have fun at Girl's Camp and sing "sippin' cider" for me, it's my fave ;) [mom note: I've included a creepy/strange/hilarious/weird video for those that have never heard this camp classic. Also for those wondering why in the world Derek would be going to a girls camp haha...his calling at church often gives him the opportunity to go to youth activities to spend time with the kids and to share his thoughts and testimony with them.]


Tell Andrea congrats from me and that I love her and and that I'm so excited!!! How long has she been dating him? What's his name? [mom note: Andrea is a family friend that has been like a sister to Megan and her siblings. She got engaged this past week]

Have a wonderful week!
I love you all!

Sister Baker