Monday, July 6, 2015

Ode to America

- Buenos diasssss. So sad to hear about the death of President Packer. First Perry, then this rate there's not going to be any more apostles by the time I get back from my mission. I am so grateful for the service they have done and know they are just doing a whole lot more where they are now.

- So following up on the email from last week, I wish it was more uplifting and exciting but I don't make the stories.... Ruby didn't come to church again this sunday so unfortunately this probably isn't her time to progress right now. We taught Mariano and Marina the law of Chastity with Hermana Gazziro and it was a really powerful lesson. Mariano was all for it but the whole time you could tell that Marina was just like boiling inside. She has had a lot of bad experiences with marriage in the past and is having trouble forgiving. We invited them to pray about what they should do and the next day we got...the breakup text. Apparently there is some deeper stuff going on that just doesn't make living the law of chastity possible for them right now. We invited them to keep coming to church and learning despite not being able to be baptized right now but they aren't being too responsive. That was a big blow to the heart. I've learned a lot about agency and how it is by learning to use your agency the best you can and how to accept that of others is how we can find peace and happiness. If we try to influence or change the agency of others to try and persuade them to do what we think is right, its just going to make us go crazy. What we are called to do here as missionaries is to teach pure, simple gospel truths with the spirit, and invite people to follow christ by living them. We teach and invite. We don't demand and persuade. We can't control the decisions of others...despite how much I wish I could sometimes. And thats why Im not god haha. It must take a lot of love and patience to be Him. Charity really is the pure love of christ. If I could choose one christlike attribute to perfectly embody, it would be that. It is by having charity, and truly loving people that you come to know christ because you get to experience a little bit of how he feels for us. You can't help but love the people you serve as a missionary. You feel inexplicable happiness when someone does something so little as having started praying with their family, and feel so horribly sorrowful when despite everything you've done, someone decides to go the opposite direction. I was thinking a lot about this. About why I had to feel so sad for these people. Then the thought suddenly came to me " I am giving you the PRIVILEGE to experience just a small percent of what I feel for them." That stuck with me pretty deep.
-  So fourth of July was pretty great! We walked in a parade all around Sarasota the entire day. It was only a parade of two because Sarasota just loves us so much that they didn't want anybody else in the parade to distract from our stunning awesomeness. We literally did stay out and walked the entire day though, from when studies ended until when we got back around 9pm. A tender mercy that happened was we went to got eat lunch at subway and the lady in front of us just kept staring and staring at us. When we got to the register she turned around and said "I paid for your lunch, we are members from Jacksonville. Thank you so much for all that you do, we want you to know how much we appreciate this important work you are doing. Have a great 4th" then left before we could really say anything else. It was kind of ridiculous how much that simple act of kindness made an impact on us. Later on in the day we walked to this free BBQ that this christian church down the road was having hahah and it was hilarious all of our favorite hobos from all over sarasota that we have talked to a million times were there. So it was like having a big family reunion. Then later in the night we went to visit Luz, the 80 yr old cuban recent convert and walking home on the way back we got to see all the fireworks people were lighting off from their backyards. It was a pretty great fourth.

-Something that I have really come to cherish as being able to serve a spanish speaking mission in the united states is all of the amazing storeis and testimonies I get to hear from the members. They each have had to find a way to come from their respective countries into the united states, in one way or another. They come in the worst ways imaginable, with their kids, or broken families into a country where they don't know one word of the language and have to find jobs and ways to provide for their families. A lot of times, one member of the family comes over and then doesn't get to see their family in their country for years. I spent some time with two different members from Cuba this week and asked them about their immigration stories. As I've come to know the people from Cuba more, they absolutely amaze me. The things that they had to suffer to get here are horrible. One member told me about how when she was in elementary school, men with guns had come in and told them "start praying to God and ask him for candy. If there really is a God then He will give it to you." of course they didn't get it. Then they took candy out of thier pockets and gave it to them and said" there is no God. But there is Fidel Castro. Pray to Fidel Castro now." So she grew up being forced to believe that God didn't exist. The story about how she got out of the country is insane I don't have time to tell it but she got here with her husband eventually and then found the gospel. It was hard for her to accept at first, but eventually what she learned changed everything. This is just one of the many stories I've been able to hear. It makes me realize just how lucky we are to live here. It is amazing to me to look at the history of the world and see how God perfectly prepared everything- from the invention of the compass to the discovery of americas to the signing of the constitution to the establishment of freedom of religion- so that the gospel could be restored on the american continent. It had to be that way. A scripture that I love in 2 Nephi 1:6 says " I lehi prophesy according to the workings of the spriit that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord." I love being able to testify to all of these people that they have been brought to this land by the hand of the lord to learn this message of the restored gospel. Go 'merica. hope everyone had a good fourth
love hermana va

Whoops that was my comp

Well not anything too exciting happened this week. Besides another week of doing the best work ever I mean. I did hit my companion with the car as I was backing out but i wouldnt exactly call that a highlight. She's good though no worries, I was just being a good companion and giving her an opportunity to learn more about the atonement and forgiveness. In other news, I downloaded the family search app which can trace your family tree back as far as the work's been done. So I tried to find out who my oldest recorded ancestor was and so far the best I've gotten is a guy named Tergog from the year 700. Basically Im pumped to meet this guy in the next life. On more important news, I finished Jesus the Christ. I've always looked at that book in our library and wanted to read it but then took a look at it once and realized it was written in 1915 and had more pages than harry potter and thought ehhhh betta not. But I decided to start reading it a little bit ago and couldnt put it down in any spare moment that I had. Which is like a few minutes during breakfast and then right before bed. This book is so captivating and interesting I loved it so much. I learned so many things from it and gained such a better understanding of the divine role of our savior Jesus Christ. I think the biggest thing I took away from it is that I realized just how important it is to have an eternal perspective of Jesus Christ. What he did while he was on the earth here does not have near as much importance or significance if we don't have a correct understanding of the role he played in the premortal life, the fact that He lives and is still leading His church now, and the role he plays in the life to come. He is an eternal and celestial being who's sole purpose is to help us gain eternal life and immortality. He is the Lord of all, but yet He knows us so personally.

- So since nothing too big happened this week I will just give a lil update on some of the choice people we are teaching.
- So Ruby is the mom of that miracle family we found a while back with the three girls. Did I ever tell you how old she is? Yeah she's 21. And has 3 kids. So we couldn't see her for a few weeks because they had a really bad infection going on in their family so were on quarantine but a few days ago we were able to have contact again. And she had some news for us....SHES PREGNANT AGAIN. She's 21 and going to have 4 kids! Im 20 and can barely keep myself from having 4 bowls of cereal a day. She's kind of stressign about it though but trying to put a smile on and be happy. She says that we really help her see god's hand in her life and see hope. We were able to set another baptismal date with her and were really thinking she would come to church this week but then didnt:( So this week we are going to try and see where she's at to see if we should keep teaching her or not. We've got some members coming with us too so hopefully that will help her come to church even more.
- Axel, 17 from honduras, so we hadn't seen him in a few weeks which is why i haven't talked to him very much. We ran into him a few days ago though, read with him in the book of mormon and gave him the story of ammon to read and when we went back this week he had read all of it and reading that story got that spark going in him again so we might start teaching him again. A ver.

- We have this other investigator named Omar who is a referral from is girlfriend who is a member in mexico. He's so cool! He has never learned anything about god, seen a bible, or ever prayed. Teaching him about prayer and hearing him pray for the first time was a cool experience. He reads the BOM and prays every day, something he has never done before and he just keeps telling us that he knows this must be true because he knows he would have stopped wanting to meet with us and to read that book by now if it wasn't. He even has a baptismal date! I haven't talked about him much though because he has been trying to get work off for sundays but hasn't been able to yet. Pray for him that he will he's still trying!

- And then there's mariano and marina. They are so great. They are progressing really well too and read and pray every day together. They came to church this sunday and we were able to work really well with the members to make them feel welcome. I think they liked it a lot. It's pretty cool, all I have to do to help investigators make friends in the branch is just pull a member aside and be like hey! Shes from argentina, your from argentina, Hes from mexico , your from mexico- be friends! and it works like a charm. The branch here is great I love them so much. We are teaching mariano and marina the law of chastity today though, we are fasting right now that it goes well and that we have the spirit super strong with us because they arent married. But thats no biggy for God haha. We are excited for them. Welp thats basically whats happening here, hope all is well there.
Hermana Va


So I'm not really sure what I should share this will probably just end up being a mess of a bunch of different things. This week I think I really just gained a bigger testimony of how I really am representing Jesus Christ and how Heavenly Father uses us as missionaries to put us in the right place at the right time to be able to do what Jesus Christ would be doing if he were here.

- Last week Hermana Phillips bike wheel broke for like the thousandth time so we took it into the bike shop and spent like all pday trying to fix it and couldn't. She has to wait to be able to take it to the shop she got it at in tampa to be able to fix it. So I was just like, alright we will just have to see if we can borrow one from somebody. I looked at our contacts and an hermana in the branch who I probably wouldn't have thought of first came to mind so I called her and she said she'd be more than happy to let us borrow hers. So we went over to pick up the bike and started talking and she told us all about how her husband and her had split up just a week ago and she was going through a really hard time. We were able to sit down with her and just listen and share a few comforting scriptures and I could tell she really appreciated it. We probably wouldn't have planned on visiting this specific hermana but God knew she needed someone to listen to her and show they cared. He had to break hna phillips bike to get us there haha but i mean He makes a way for his will.

- We were on exchanges this week and we started talking to this one guy sitting on a bus stop. He is one of the most interesting people I've ever met. Bus stops are like magnets for the crazies of sarasota. Sorry excuse me I mean the elect. We were able to share with this man a little bit about the restoration and then at the end of the converstation he asked me..."what day were you born?" "....April 19th,why do you ---" " -- you were born on a wednesday." literally like a split second after I said my birthday. He did the same thing with my sister training leader, said she was born on a friday. We were like okay...but we leave and look at our calendars and he was right for both of us. hahah im not sure if God really needed us to talk to him but i mean that was a pretty cool experience for me.
- We were walking down a street and a lady is gettting out of her car with her little weiner dog and he has a cone on his head so Im just like "aw did your dog just get home from the vet?"  she was like "yeah he almost got eaten alive by a rottweiler." I looked at the dog and dang he was like destroyed! I asked the lady if we could share a prayer with her and she was like yes pray for my dog. So I got to pray for a ladies rottweiler demolished weiner dog. That was a first.

- So I talked a little bit about a guy named Mario last week. Turns out his name is actually Mariano. His esposa's name is Marina. Esposa in spanish means wife but really it means girlfriend most of the time.  You learn things in the mission. So really quick background on them...they are the neighbors of some members in the english ward (for hermana mathis it's the guminskis next door neighbors...hahah yes those guminskis) and we got their information about a month ago. We have tried and tried to contact them and never had any luck or mariano would answer the phone, say he would talk to his wife (girlfriend) and get back to us and never did. So we were just about to give up on them when we were biking past their apartment complex 2 weeks ago and I got the thought to just try one more time. So we went and Marina was there and we were able to set up an appointment. The first lesson we had with them was amazing. The spirit was there so strong. That was the lesson I talked about where Mariano asked me why I was on a mission right when I was having a hard time. So we were able to visit them a few times last week and I have never, ever felt such an immediate connection with an investigator as I have with Mariano and Marina. I can't explain it. The love that hermana phillips and I have felt for them just right off the bat is something that neither of us have ever felt before. And I've been here for a while so I know there is something different about them than other people I have taught before. We took our branch president's wife (hna gazziro) to a lesson with them this week and when we walked out she had tears in her eyes and was just like I feel like i have met both of them before. We had a father's day activity on saturday and they both came to it and loved the branch. They were planning on coming to church the next day when we got a call that morning saying how their best friend had been killed in a car accident the day before and they wouldn't be able to come to church because they were too distraught and had to make a bunch of calls and arrangement because their friend didn't have any family here. They were heartbroken over the phone. We couldn't believe theyd even come to the activity the night before! They told us they wanted us to visit them that night though. So we went over with  presidente and hermana gazziro and were able to share with them the plan of salvation and president gave them blessings of comfort. They were so miserable when we got there, but after talking about the restored plan of happiness and feeling the power of the priesthood they had tears of gratitude in their eyes and couldn't stop saying how thankful they were to be learning what they are learning from the church. Bad and unfair things are always going to happen in life,things that we can't control. The death of thier friend was going to happen, it was part of God's plan for him. But God knew that this gospel would make mariano and marina stronger and be able to deal with this trial better so thats why he put us in their path a week and a half before that horrible accident. Before my mission I was really scared to be expected to try and comfort people in times of trial because I feel like I would never be able to relate to anyone or be good enough. I have now come to cherish these opportunities to offer comfort to those who need it, because I've learned that the best way to do it is to direct them to and testify of the Savior. He is the only one who will always know to comfort us, we will never be able to say you dont know how I feel because of what Jesus Christ did for us. That's why I love the scripture alma 7:11-12 so much. I'm so grateful for the time I have to share this message of hope.
love hermana Baugh

Srasota Zone or Soak Zona

So I know as missionaries we aren't supposed to be swimming but here in the sarasota zone, we still pretty much spend all of our days soaking wet. Granted it is either in our own sweat or because of a random thunderstorm but I mean it's as close as I'm going to be able to get to jumping into a pool on my mission. Florida has this amazing talent though of being able to drench you in sweat by just pure existing outside, or drench you in rainwater in under 30 seconds when a few minutes earlier the sky was clear. Go Florida.

-So I forgot to tell a funny tracting story last week. I call this my knock knock section. I'll tell two... so one day we we knocked this door and we can hear this old black lady behind it saying "hayyloooo??? haylooo??" then rattling on her side of the door as she tries to get it open. She's like "ahm so sorry ah cahnt get out ah lost my keys!!!" she then continues trying to open the door and then gives up. hahah it was so sad! We probably should have called someone...this poor old lady thinks she is locked inside her house!

-another day we we knocked on this door and there were a bunch of kids home. instead of opening the door they proceeded to knock on their side of the door. so what do i do? I knock back. then they knocked back. then we started getting a rhythm going and it was just me and these kids behind this door having a drum contest on this random street haha it was great.

-Anthony's confirmation this sunday went well! we asked him who he wanted to confirm him and he was like " thomas...el profeta. Thomas S Monson" in all seriousness. I had to break it to him and say alright, we'll try but in case he can't come you gotta have a back up. So he chose the stake patriarch as his second choice haha not bad not bad. He doesn't mess around. Speaking of the patriarch, so he is mexican and married to a columbian lady and are in our branch. they are so cool. they took phillips and I out to dinner to this columbian restaurant where during dinner he proceeded to basically tell us the entire story of the old testament, the 10 tribes, the book of mormon, doctrine and covenants with a little bit of pearl of great price and made their stories all fit together in a way so simple that a little kid could understand. I felt like I was watching all of those living scripture videos we used to watch evrery sunday in my head it was amazing.  

-So this week was pretty hard for me for some reason. I think it's because summer is starting and im smelling bbqs as im passing by, people jumping in our apartment pool as we go out to work, people loading cars up to go to the beach. Satan was working pretty hard on me. We knocked like 60 doors on friday night and I just kept having the thought...what are you doing here? why are you even doing this? Don't you know youre 20 years old and could be doing so many other things? The next day, saturday, we spent all day finding as well with only one of our appointments not falling through. It was at 8 at night with a couple who were some referrals who we were about to give up on because we hadn't been able to contact them but by miracle earlier in the week, we were finally able to meet the wife and set up an appointment with them. So we got there after a long day of being outside in the sun and we started talking to them and one of the first things this man, Mario, asked me was "Digame, porque esta aqui?" tell me, why are you here? I felt like it was heavenly father talking directly to me. I sat there and thought for a minute. In that minute I was reminded of the many answers to prayer I have gotten that I needed to go on a mission. Of how much knowledge and being a member of this church has blessed me and my family and I was able to answer him clearly and directly and bear my testimony of why I was here. God knew I needed that reminder that day. He works through other people to help us a lot, and also helps us to realize that a lot of times we have the answers to our own questions. I have learned a lot about how happiness is a choice. We can choose to have joy or we can choose to deny it. It's all about appreciating and cherishing those little things. Like singing hymns in spanish under someone's carport when you get stuck in the rain, kneeling in prayer in someone's home to ask if this message is true, hearing an investigator say that thier girlfriend has already seen a difference in him since they started praying together a week ago. Lil things like that that happened this week made me happy and reminded me why I'm out here gettin soaked all the time! love you all!!! have a great week!!
love hermana baugh