Monday, February 23, 2015

Hermaniac Hermanas

Mission wide conference this week up in Tampa with Elder Swick from the seventy. He told a really cool story about how he served his mission in Argentina (Richard G Scott was his mission president) and when he got to the mission, Elder Scott called him in his office and told him that he had a special mission for him. He was to go to these cities in Bolivia that had never been visited before with his trainer and go build a church there. So they traveled for four days on train, bought some horse, the horses swam them across the river, or border into Bolivia because it was illegal to cross with the horses into these cities where he served there for 17 months with almost no contact with his mission president. He built the church all by himself, didnt baptize anyone for a year there because no one could live the word of wisdom because they had to drink alcohol to kill the amoebas that they had in their water, fixed the water problem then baptized like 500 people. Oh yeah and Gordon B Hinkley came to dedicate the church building. Not a bad mission experience... we were all sitting there thinking wow I complained yesterday for having to ride my bike in the wind in a skirt...

Another week has come and gone here in Sarasota! Climax of the week would have to be going to Maria's baptism in Bradenton. It was prime because our relief society president in Sarasota was able to take us and Celfia and her little girl ashley. I couldn't have asked for anything better. All the members were really surprised to see me back so soon hahah I told them I couldn't stay away. Everything went perfectly with the baptism and Maria was so happy, she couldn't stop tearing up the entire time and kept saying what am i feeling? What is this? Why am I crying I promise Im not sad! When I saw her when we got to the baptism it was like seeing a whole different person...the tattoos were covered up, piercings gone, hair all nicely done...the sisters said that she had been changing a little bit more every time they went over to teach her, just because she was spending more time in the scriptures, going to church, being with her member friends-- they said they hadn't even asked her to do any of those things. So that was really neat to hear. This night was probably one of the happiest nights of my mission because I just felt like I was with family there with Celfia, Maria, all my past companions, and all those members of the Cortez Branch and the Spirit was there so strong.

- Of course, a night this good has to be followed by a day not so good. We had parked our car in Celfia's neighborhood for a few hours that night and realized in the morning before church that our bumper had been hit and our gas siphoned. Thank you Satanas. But it was all good, we just went on bike all day. Satan wasn't quite through with us though and when it got dark, Hermana Mathis' tire popped big time and we had to walk to all of our appointments and back home after the last one haha. It was pretty great. So yesterday was pretty fun. We started teaching a 19 year old from Peru named Renzo and its when I teach people my same age that I realize just how weird of a life I'm living right now. He couldn't get over the fact that we don't watch movies, have boyfriends, listen to music, and just go around teaching people all day long. "Do you have any friends?" ...."umm..., looking at Hermana Mathis awkwardly... waiit do we? I don't think soo...I guess you're my friend but you kind of have to be... so I don't really know how to answer this question". That's how the conversation went haha. I'm forgetting that spending 24/7 doing missionary work as a 19 year old girl isn't exactly what you would consider normal. And from an outsider's view, it doesn't seem to make sense why we are so happy doing what we do. According to the world, I shouldn't be happy not listening to the latest music, or going to dances with my friends. I shouldn't be happy when Im teaching people about church instead of going out on dates. I shouldn't be happy spending all day going from person to person trying to invite them to come unto Christ when I could be going to movies, sleeping or hanging out with friends. But I am and I know why I am. And it's a happiness that no matter how many times I try to explain it to people, I can't quite do it because it's something you have to experience to understand. I hope everyone has a great week this week, pray that everything goes well with Celfia's baptism this Saturday!!

Love hermana Baugh

Just Another Day in Paradise: The Miracles of Fasting

Alright sooo we spent a long time waiting in line to eat at this amish restaurant today so I have like no time now! Its my newly acquired dream to start teaching an amish person so we were working on that today and lost track of time. I'll try to muster up an email worth reading though real quick so buckle up.

-Highlights of the week: I made my first tortilla. I was told that I don't sound like a gringa. My companion got sick this week and I had to go out on splits with a member all by myself in a new area and survived and it actually went really well. I met a man from Panama and a family from Belize so I think that means Ive met someone from pretty much every Central and South American country. I spoke in church on Sunday. I got roses on Valentines day ( from a girl, no worries). And last but not least : I HELD A TREE FROG.

- So pretty recently Ive had a few miracle experiences with fasting. Yeah I know right who knew that not eating for two meals and praying even more than we usually pray could be so great? Well I'm here to tell you that it really is and that if you haven't tried it, its about time you do. So the Sunday before I left Bradenton, Hermana Gibson and I decided we were going to fast to have just one baptism the next transfer in the Cortez Spanish branch, it was like our final umpf as a companionship and after working so hard together the past transfer. That Sunday, an old investigator named Maria came to church randomly with her member friend. I was so happy to see her again! Me and Hermana Newbill had taught her for a while but had to stop teaching her about when Hermana Gibson came because she wasn't reading the Book of Mormon or coming to church. But we were able to set up an appointment with her and saw her on Wednesday, the day before I left Bradenton and it was the most amazing lesson ever. She basically ran up to us saying she had just felt the spirit so strong during the testimony meeting in the church and knew that she wanted to be baptized now. She was just like tell me! tell me what I have to do so I can get baptized!! We were able to set a baptismal date with her for the 21 of February and made plans to see her every day until then. It was such a huge miracle! Hermana Gibson and I were almost in tears as we were sitting in the car after thinking about what had just happened. And the great part about being in the same district as the Cortez sisters is I get to hear how all my old investigators are doing every week and Maria has been doing so great and is getting baptized next Saturday and I get to go!! I'm so excited!! We really can do all that we can as missionaries, but it is always God that does the preparing. He works on the hearts of His children, and us as missionaries are just there to do the final part and help them make that last step.

- other fasting experience... So when I got to Sarasota we had basically no investigators. But after a week of working non stop we have like 8 now! haha its pretty funny too because basically all of them are from Honduras! So I'm learning a lot about that country right now. But the other day we fasted together to be able to set a baptismal date with one of them and the lesson after we finished our fast, we had a really great lesson with an investigator named Celfia (Celfia...not Selfie I know, I made that mistake before) and she wants to get baptized the 28 of february. Celfia is an amazing women, I look up to her so much. She came to church for the first time the week that I got here and ever since I first talked to her that day in church Ive just had this instant love for her. She is a mother of three and came to america a few months ago from Honduras and recently suffered a hard divorce. She has to work a lot and is always so tired but always loves to see us and loves reading the Book of Mormon. I'm so excited to keep seeing the blessings this gospel is bringing to her in her life.

- Welp thats about all for this week folks!! Hope everyone had a great valentines day and will have a great week!! Love you!!!!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sarasota, Shareasoda

Happy 7 month mesaversary!! And to celebrate, I was transferred to the Beneva Branch in Sarasota, Florida last thursday. My hypothesis came true! Me and Hermana Paulsen (my mtc companion) just did a swap and I went to her area with her old companion and she is now in Bradenton with Hermana Gibson. Going from Bradenton to Sarasota is like going from Temecula to Murietta, its really cool because now me and Hermana Paulsen know all the members in the Cortez and Beneva Branch so we are all able to work together really well. So my companion now is Hermana Mathis. Shes from Utah and is a hair stylist and has only one transfer left of her mission!! Soooooo for me this means that I have to learn the members, investigators and area here really well and really fast because I will probably be taking it over in 6 weeks. And I will probably be training again too since there's nobody else who could replace her! Im not really looking forward to killing off another missionary but Im glad that I at least get 6 weeks with Hermana Mathis- we get along really well and have been having so much fun. I love Sarasota!! It is definitely a lot nicer than Bradenton.  There is still a lot of spanish in Sarasota but there's not nearly as many spanish neighborhoods around as there were in my last area. But there is a lot more diversity. In Bradenton, it is pretty much purely mexicans but in Sarasota almost everyone I meet is from somewhere different! I met Nicaraguans and Peruvians for the first time on my mission the other day! And there are a lot more people from Cuba here... they have the best spanish. Just kidding it is like 10 times harder to understand than any other spanish because they speak at 100 mph and leave off half of every word. Its great. I love the branch here, the members are seriously from all over - Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Mexico, El Salvador- you name it. I have to tell you, learning the area and the names of all the members here has been sooo much easier here than it was when I got to Bradenton because I actually know spanish! My spanish improved a lot last transfer- Ive gotten a lot of compliments on it from the members since being here. So thats been a big confidence booster. Its a lot better than when I got to Bradenton, just starting my mission and the members would just look at me as I tried to introduce myself and think "is it just me or is this strange creature trying to communicate with me? Ill just nod my head and smile and act like Im understanding.. yeah yeah Ill do that." So aside from there being a lot of hispanic diversity in Sarasota, there is also a big amish community that we live by. So its pretty funny when we go out riding our bikes in our dresses and skirts and wait at the stop lights with a bunch of other people riding bikes in dresses and skirts. Except they've got these pretty cool bonnets so we feel a little left out. We're not quite at that level yet but maybe one day we will be worthy enough to achieve the status of the bonnet wearers. So really if you don't ride a bike in ridiculous clothing in Sarasota- YOU are the weird one. Plot twist. So that's been a nice change.  So also the other thing about Sarasota is.... that we literally have one investigator haha. Who is on parole. They had 3 baptisms the week before I got here, which is great, but the only problem with that is that we have a nice fresh area book now haha which actually is probably a good thing because now I will know everyone we are teaching thats for sure! So we have been doing a lot of finding, which is new for me because we could just walk into a hispanic neighborhood in Bradenton and teach like 5 lessons! But anyways, so far I love it here in Sarasota and I'm really excited for the transfer that lies ahead here!! Hope everyone has a great week!!
Cool story really quick.  This is Eugene and he is 91 years old! This is the man that hermana Paulsen and I found on exchanges that one day last transfer, pushing himself in his wheelchair down the street. I pushed him back to his apartment and we taught him, and it turns out he already believed in the book of mormon and was an old member of the rLDS church. Well the sisters kept teaching him and I actually taught him again on the other exchange I went on to sarasota. He received and answer that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the only church with Gods authority on the earth today and at 91 years old, was baptized last saturday and was confirmed and received the priesthood on Sunday. He is so awesome. and now I get to keep teaching him! So that was definitely a miracle. If you ever think you are too old to do something or that its too late.... just think of Eugene.

love Hermana Baugh

Monday, February 2, 2015

Metamorphosis of a Missionary

Alright family sorry I don't have much time today so this is going to be pretty short!

So Abdi is doing really great! We have been able to see him every day and he has been reading every day, his faith is growing a lot! He prayed and talked to his family about it and he decided that he wants to wait to get baptized when he gets back to mexico so that he can get to know the members of the YSA ward in his city and have friends there to support him. He is already having all sorts of questions on how he can serve a mission and what he needs to do to go on's so awesome!! It's been really cool teaching him...he is the first person I've met on my mission that is our age and actually speaks spanish haha which is kind of sad. He is our really good friend now! Hopefully we will be able to skype him or something when he gets baptized in Veracruz! Im just so grateful that I have had the opportunity to teach him here, if only for a little bit. I know this gospel is going to bless him for eternity though!

Alright so ready for the bad news? We had to drop basically all of our investigators this week. Yes...including Ricardo, Silvia and Leslie. Ricardo just doesnt have enough time to learn right now with his job.  He is trying to find a new one so hopefully in the future he will be able to keep learning. Silvia and Leslie just about broke my heart this week. We got a text from Silvia on monday saying that she was sorry and that she was going to stop learning about our church now because she is going to another church with her friends now. We tried to contact her a few times this week but weren't able to. If anything, my testimony of the importance of member missionary work and support has grown so much this transfer. We have prepared so many people for baptism this transfer, people who God has prepared, who have felt the spirit testify to them of the truthfulness of these things, and have seen great changes in their lives as a result of learning about the gospel. But a lot of the time, if these people don't feel welcome, or don't have friends in the church they are too afraid to make the change. I feel so blessed to have been able to take part in the lives of these people here though. Just because baptisms don't happen, doesnt mean success doesn't happen. We are successful when we can feel the spirit working through us, touching the hearts of those we teach. I love these people so much though and hope that one day the seed that was planted in their hearts this transfer will be able to start growing again!!

We started teaching english classes this week!! We have been advertising them for a while and finally were able to start them up. We had about 10 people come and it was so fun teaching I love it! muahaha I feel like I have so much power...I can get them to say anything I want. But anyways, we keep inviting them to church and we have members there during the classes so hopefully we will be able to get some new investigators out of that.

So real quick heres my little bit on the metamorphosis of a missionary. So as a missionary, you get to the mission field kind of in the form of just like this gooey blob mess. you have been in the MTC for 6 weeks, you think you know what missionary work is  but then you get here and you are like oh wait... what? At the end of the first transfer in the field, you have kind of formed yourself into a bit of a less gooey blob. So kind of just like a blob. At the end of training, you have a shape but youre still soft. Its the 3rd transfer in the field when you get your exoskeleton, you figure out what kind of missionary you are going to be. But, sometimes you need to get broken and rearranged in the later transfers as you learn new things and fix some of the things that went wrong or you didnt do quite right in the formative stages haha. Hermana Gibson is officially done with training and is ready to enter into the Exoskeleton stage! and me, im still breaking and reforming myself all the time haha. Im so grateful though that I have had the opportunity to train Hermana gibson though, even though I feel like I learned more from her than she did from me.

Oh yeah... Transfers. Should probably mention that. I am leaving Bradenton!!! Im not sure where I am going yet, we go up to transfer meeting on thursday in Tampa. Hermana Paulsen who is in Sarasota is getting transferred too so according to my calculations and algorithms, I'm guessing that she and I will just be switching areas and I will be going to Sarasota, which is kind of just like moving from Temecula to Murietta! Or I could be completely wrong and be going to an english ward hahaha sooooo watch that happen. But I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve here in Bradenton for 6 months. 6 months...I seriously can't believe it has been that long. I love this area, i love these people, I love these members and I am going to miss them so much but I am excited for this new change!! Stay tuned to find out where I'm going next week!!

love hermana baugh