Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hundreds of waving candles

Hey everyone-

My transfer to Joensuu is great. I love it. It is different than Helsinki but it has a really nice little city feel. And the ward is small and friendly and really take a notice of the missionaries. Whereas in Helsinki we sort of got lost in the sea of people. It is also a really pretty place with a huge river in the middle of it. Unfortunately, it is winter and usually too dark to see anything... My companion is great. He has a really great heart and works unbelievably hard. Joensuu has 2 other missionary companionships in the district. It is a bike city and I was hooked up with a really good bike for free from a member in Haaga. Such a blessing. Not to much snow yet, mostly still just wet. It is a suprisingly warm winter here in Finland. Woo!

This week we went to Rovaniemi. The most north city for missionaries in Finland and had a Zone Conference. We had to take a 4 hour train down to Helsinki and then a night train up so that was sort of stinky but it was really cool to be way up there. We went to Santa’s workshop, which was cool and really fun.

The night before Christmas was really fun. In Finland, they open presents on the 24th and so we were invited to a members house for that. We had a great dinner (the dad used to be a chef) and then opened presents with their 2 daughters (21 and 18) and a recent convert from the ward who is really really great. They gave us 18€ to use at any restaurant in town. Super nice. It was great to watch everyone get so excited about their gifts. And then after one of the daughters brought out the guitar and played some christmas songs. Which reminded me of our family. I was so thankful for the family making us lonely missionaries feel at home for the holidays. When they finally took us home we stopped at a graveyard and lit a candle for deceased relatives. (It’s a christmas tradition in Finland) It was so pretty with it being dark and quiet with hundreds of waving candles while surrounded by forest. It really got me deep in thought and had a big effect on me. It was a great night.

The next day, we went to church for an hour. And then we went to a members and ate another christmas meal. We then sat and watched the Christmas church videos which were really peaceful. So peaceful that I actually dozed off, and when I woke up I noticed that the member AND my companion had both fallen asleep haha.

Then of course we went and skyped home. Calling home is always interesting. There are thousands of things to talk to and it never lasts long enough. And then after you are always remembering things you forgot to mention and trying to remember the things you actually did talk about. Its like having a one bite of pie and then having it instantly taken away from you and the rest of the day you just keep trying to convince yourself that the one bite was enough, even though it obviously wasnt...Haha. Oh the bittersweet taste of calling home.

I’m really thankful for you all, both family and friends. Just know that I thought a lot about everyone during this Christmas Season and that I missed being home. But, I had a really great Christmas. It was so sweet to be in another culture and see how they celebrate the birth of the Savior. My faith has really been growing lately and I have noticed a difference in how I feel. I just feel better. I am coming to understand things about life that would have taken me a long time to figure out had I not been on a mission. It is altering my whole life path, and I know that it is a change for the better. I’m so thankful to be here.

I love you all.

Vanhin Merkley

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Elder Merkley's apartment tour

I've been meaning to post this for awhile but we've had technical difficulties at the Merkley abode with uploading it. But I have persevered because I know how attached we are all to that face and personality of his, SO, with no further adieu, here's a clip from Elder Merkley in his first area.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas.​...its really hot

Hello to all!
What a week! Things are just "tranquilopa" here, we are working hard and starting to see the fruits of our work! Yesterday at church, we saw many miracles happen. We worked all week getting people excited for church and for preparation for baptism at the beginning of January. On Sunday morning, we went looking for people with a young man in our branch, and he was able to walk to church with 2 investigators, then we had 5 other new and less active members bring an additional 5 investigators to church! The branch is becoming super missionary oriented, and its been great to see the small tender mercies of the Lord here, such as help from members to bring people to church! We had 39 people there too, which was a little bit of an improvement, given that we have been flirting around 30 for the last few months. We always try our best to be diligent in our work, and it always feels great to see some fruits of our labors.
This last Thursday we had the "Mission Christmas Party" in a city, where many of the Elders from far away from Asunción went. We made this Christmas cards, went caroling in a nearby hospital, ate a big lunch, and then headed back to our areas. It was fun to be there and see a few missionary friends, and serve in this special time of the year.
So, that might have been the coolest thing I have ever heard! My trainer, Elder Olson was able to meet the family this week. You about made me cry when I saw that picture! What a cool moment for all of us, he has been a great example in my life.   
Tonight is changes, and so I will be hearing who my new comp is (my local comp. is going home for Christmas).  This afternoon, we went to have a huge fancy lunch with Elder Colligan and some other missionaries, its been a blessing to be so close to him for so much time of my mission.
 I am loving my daily study in the Book of Mormon. In Helaman 5, there is a story about a cloud of darkness that covers the people and they become scared and don't know what to do so that the cloud can be taken away. Today, we all pass through personal "clouds of darkness" spiritually, and we all have had that feeling of being "cast out forever", due to sin, trials, neglect, denial, depression, etc. So, the prophet Abinadab (that's his name in Spanish, I think its the same in English) tells them to repent and to pray with faith, so that the cloud departs. They were obedient, and eventually the cloud was taken away from them. In verse 46 and 47 it talks about a pleasing voice, or prompting, that came upon them, as a feeling of peace, because of their faith. We all have trials, but if we just repent, pray with faith, and endure till the end, the Lord has promised that those "clouds of darkness" will leave, and we will be restored to peace. I love the whole message of the Book of Mormon, it has strengthened my faith in the Lord, brought me to repentance, and helped me pass through all those trials and clouds that I have had in my life. Read it! It will change your life.
Have a Merry Christmas, pray for us, and don't let the real meaning of Christmas be forgotten in this special time of the year!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas in Haaga

It’s so wild it's December.

This week we put up Christmas decorations in our apartment. We didn’t have a tree so we tied one together with some string and hangers. Although your first thoughts were probably directed at thinking how ghetto that sounds, it actually looks pretty sweet. We added some lights and even threw a star at the top. My companion got some really great pictures. I, on the other hand, did not take any pictures thanks to the dirtbag who stole my camera... But good ole Elder Pearson said he would send some of them to you. We got some other sweet lights and an angel from the Finnish equivalent of Savers. They are called "Kirpis" here and I feel right at home in one of those babies. We also picked up a nice little classic Christmas cd from the store and have been playing that all throughout the week. It is, indeed, as quoted in the beloved song of old, "beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." (Wow. Best paragraph ending sentence ever.)

Other than that though, pretty basic week. We are working hard to get our teaching pool back up and we found some good investigators this week. The holidays are usually a bit slower with missionary work but this week was pretty efficient. It is a little weird because we both suspect that we will leave Haaga since change call is next week. But we are working at gaining the trust still even though we will probably have to give them to the sisters soon. That is just the life of a missionary. Gaining trust, and then moving away. But if we can get them to trust the gospel, then we really have something great.

Still no snow here. It is turning out to be a warm winter. Woo. But, it is very dark. Which, really has not been bad for me.

I’m doing well. Thanks for all the love and support. I love you all.

Vanhin Merkley

Baptism of Marilda

Hello to all-
Well I am once again short on time, but things here are great. On Saturday night, we had a baptismal service for Marilda, who is the sister of Miriam . It went perfectly. The Spirit was so strong there in the service. I played the piano and Elder Scovill sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives in Spanish, English, and Guarani (switching off versus). I am really proud of her and the support she has from her family. She received a warm welcome from the members, and a lot of support from members as well at the service. She wanted me to do the baptism, which is always cool to be apart of. She is doing great, along with her awesome family.
Speaking of their awesome family, Pablo and Miriam (recent convert couple) had their 2 daughters come in here to Saltos, so they are finally here! They are the sweetest little girls ever. We are going to start working with them towards baptism as well, they are such a special family. I was playing some prelude music for sacrament meeting on the piano, when they both came up to me with big smiles and handed me 2 big red suckers. I just about died, they are, in every sense of the word, sweet. I was laying in bed and I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being able to be a part of such a prepared family. They have become my second family here.
Speaking of another awesome family, I wanted to share my gratitude for my family at home as well. They have been so supportive, and I am thankful for my Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, everyone!
Sorry for the short awful letter, I promise next week will be better, I had everything out that I wanted to say, and then I left my agenda at the church. Thanks for the love and support, keep us here in your prayers!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

The Power of the Priesthood

Hello to all!
I am low on time (only get an hour to read all the letters, write my mission president, and email out to people), but I want all of you to know that life is great here as a missionary. We are working hard and seeing the fruits of our labors slowly but surely. We have a baptism this week for Marilda, who is the sister of Miriam who got baptized about 1 month ago. She is progressing well, and because of the support and example of her sister and brother in law, she has gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and wants to follow the answer she received. It has been a great example to me of the power of the Book of Mormon, the Spirit is felt so strong as it is read. Read in it daily! You'll see the difference in your life, like I have seen in my own one.
We had District Conference this last Sunday, and we worked really hard all week aiming everything towards getting people there. Sunday morning comes along, and we saw miracle after miracle. Alex, the recent convert, turned down and opportunity of a lifetime to go to another city and compete in a big dance competition to go, and while there was interviewed and found worthy to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood! He also received his mission papers, and is excited for all the big changes he is making in his life. A few months back, he was, for lack of better words, a lost teenager, engulfed in major problems and temptations. Now, he is taking big steps towards being a future endowed member and missionary for the true church of God! The gospel works miracles, never lose faith in the converting power of the gospel! Many members that I have never even seen showed up, and we had a big turn out of investigators. It was a great week/day.
Also there, President and Hermana Madariaga came, along with Elder and Hermana Giovanni (Area 70). They talked a lot about the power of the priesthood, and their gratefulness for it being restored in these last days.  I was able to give a priesthood blessing this week to a child of a sick member, and I felt the Spirit so strongly. I love this church, this gospel, and the opportunity to not only live in the world during a time when the priesthood is on earth, but to be a member that church and holder of that very priesthood. Just like the song says, "I stand all amazed". We are a blessed people, so lets use those blessings to serve others, and magnify our priesthood. Love you guys, keep us in your prayers!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ups and Downs

This Week was absolutely crazy with ups and downs.
I’ll start with the downs. I walk in to the house of some investigators and we were super exited to share a message we had prepared in the morning on Christmas. So we got in and shared two scriptures, and the scripture Juan 15 ye are my friends when you do what I say. And asked is it okay if we start with a Christmas hymn? And then my happy little face turned into a fake happy grin as the father said, “it’s just that I don’t know… Catholics spend this time of the year on Christmas, but we just really don’t know when the celebrate.” Then trying for a little redemption, I pulled the maybe it’s not in the dates, but in the feelings, and he got me with the “but think of all the people suffering and dying in this city alone…” I loved what they said in the Christmas devotional, Christmas isn’t passed, it’s remembered throughout the whole year.
We also had a great story with some menos activos. It’s one of those “it’s been two years since we went to church and just Saturday we were talking about returning and Sunday and Monday we had a big problem, and you showed up Tuesday. I felt a great spirit with them and feel like they are starting new… regaining the testimony they had lost. I’m loving the work and know that even though we might not feel it, we are guided by the Holy Ghost.I’m happy … Elder Rhodes

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Hi Mom and Dad, my keyboard is super stiff and doesn’t have any letters so well just hope my keyboarding class will come into effect, where you type with plastic covers on the keys.
Well I’m doing absolutely fantastic. Last week thanksgiving came around and I didn’t remember until that night we opened a bottle of Martinelli's that Hna Juana gave us. It was good. Transfers are the 5th of December and it’s a 99 % chance I stay here. The thing is when you are training, which is going along alright, you have a “contract” with the president for twelve weeks. And Elder Heredia and I are doing good together, so it’s almost guaranteed another exchange. So that means I'll be in this ward for our PHONE CALL. No Skype. And the limit is what I make it, I’m thinking about 45 minutes.
We haven’t been able to communicate with Rosy Carmona, but this week we did have the opportunity to have a baptism of Claudia Aguilar. She is great and super exited to get to work. But it was a Miracle everything went well… I think at times you are able to be guided by the sprit enough so it happens, but not without a challenge.
Friday night we felt like we needed to go early Saturday morning to fill up the font, even though our ward mission leader didn’t feel necessary, and wanted to go at 5 or 6, an hour or two before the baptism. Well we got to the church in the morning to find the font full… What a blessing right? It was full cause the pump wasn’t working to drain it from three weeks ago. It was green and smelled like dead fish. We thought “maybe she won’t notice” ha-ha no. So we gots to thinking, I know some people who called some people… some connections… but no one answered. So an hour passed and I thought of my old ward, where you had to pour water in the pump to prime (to make it suck) it and then turn it on. The knob wouldn’t open to pour water in, so I decided we would fill a bag up with water and shove it in the outlet… And it worked, after draining, came a deep cleaning with Clorox. The font was taking ages to fill, there wasn’t any gas to heat up the water (which was the least of the problems; it’ll help her remember it eh?) I swear it was slower than the kitchen sink, so we headed to lunch.
Something was up cause 5 buses passed by without picking us up… and we arrived an hour late for the food. Made the programs and got everything ready and headed to the chapel… to find the font half full and the water turned off… so we stayed the extra hour filling it the rest of the way. It was a pretty baptism and the spirit was felt. I know at times we are left to know what to do, but with sufficient problems. President of the temple came to our ward and taught us the plan of salvation… it was super awesome…
I’m exited as ever for Christmas, I’ve been listening to Christmas music since last Christmas. I hope the letters I send next week will get there before Christmas, if not it will be a happy birthday mom.
With love
Shaun Elder rhodes

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lies and Twisted Ankles

Well howdy to all!
I feel a little uncomfortable right now, because my nose is absolutely fried from the sun, man it is really really hot today. We just got done with a big conference of missionaries from the zone, and proceeded by playing soccer on a synthetic turf field at 12:30 to 1:30...maybe not the smartest idea, given that it is a Paraguayan summer day, but it was great.
I had another great week, the work is coming along great. We have 7 ward missionaries now, 2 of which are recent converts (Alex and Marcelo). We have been going out with members almost every day, and the branch is growing in weekly attendance to about 35. We have been working hard, despite many setbacks in health. I had a funny moment walking out of a visit. All of you know that I have some very week ankles, and about a month ago I had a big twist where I fell completely on the ground in front of many people and they laughed haha. Well, this time luckily it was nighttime, but I was carrying a cake pan because we made a cake for someone, and out of nowhere the ankle twists and I fell again really hard. This time the cake pan went flying as well, and it scared my companion really bad. But it all turned out well, luckily Paraguayan people are so nice and they made me sit down and do some ankle workouts by rolling an old glass beer bottle back and forth underneath my foot haha gotta love it!
I really love Pablo and Miriam, the recent convert couple. They are just the nicest people I have ever met. We visited with them, and I asked about their kids (who live a few hours away, but should come up soon), and she said, lets give them a call! So I got to talk to them on the phone and say hi. I had a moment of sheer joy hit me when I thought of Gods plan for us, and how we can been together forever, as eternal families. I am thankful for my great family, and for temple work and missionary work, because it is essentially the same great work.
A few weeks ago I was bit by a tick. It got in there real good, and I carefully pulled it out, making sure the head didn't get stuck in there. I looked at my leg this week, and realized I still have a big red mark, so I sent some pics of it to Asunción, and they think the head might be in there, therefore requiring some not so fun steps, but I think its all fine. I will keep you all updated.
This week was full of lies from everybody. On Wednesday alone, we heard a less active member yelling at her child as we were arriving at the house. Then when we clap, the kid comes out and says she isn't home...hmm... So we do some contacts around the house, and heard a few "otro dia", so I asked "when could we come by again, since today you are busy?" and the lady says, "I have my religion" so I said "that's great! we actually share a message about Christ. What is your religion?" and she responded with "I don't know, any other religion that's not yours (rough translation)"...nice!... So we proceeded to another house where an investigator lives, and a 20 yr. old kid is there. We get to know him for a little, he says he lives there, so we ask him to let the investigator (Liz) know that we were there. He says "Liz...there is no Liz that lives here..." Meanwhile I can see the daughter of Liz, and so I said "are you sure? Her daughter is right there". He follows by saying "oh...LIZ!..ya, she moved"... I say "without her daughter?" Then the little daughter says, "She didn't move, she's just hiding in the bathroom!" I just looked at the guy for about 10 seconds, trying my very best to be patient and loving haha so I said, "well, it looks like she didn't move" and laughed it off. I thought it was a pretty funny story...point of it is, just be honest in all your doings or you will turn out like that guy and look foolish.
Point of it all, is that even amidst all the lies and hatred, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will move on boldly to all those ready to accept it. I know that people are being prepared, and that its my job to talk to everyone and find them! We have a baptism planned for this week for Marilda, keep us here in your prayers! Thanks for the love and support.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Monday, November 28, 2011

They are starting to put up the Christmas decorations which is really exciting. We heard that the other day the "Officially started Christmas" which involved a santa clause (in Finnish its Joulu Pukki) to drive down a main road and throw candy and stuff. It’s sweet that it gets dark early because now we will have a chance to see Helsinki with the lights lit. It should be pretty cool. It gets dark now around 4:30 but the good thing is that the darkest day of the year is only a month away. Still no snow here....

We had a district meeting with the Mission President which was sweet because then we have interviews. I really love when our President Rawlings teaches us. He has a very mild and peaceful way of teaching. He explains things so well that at the end I always feel pumped up. My interview with him was also great. I always walk out of the President’s interviews with a lot more peace and comfort, a slight smile and a feeling that he is absolutely a man of God. I have an enormous amount of respect for him.

Then the next day was a Thanksgiving Zone Conference. We had all the missionaries gather together to share a some spiritual thoughts and have a big thanksgiving dinner. For the spiritual thought we had a short lesson about prayer and then a testimony meeting. I gave a little testimony about the previous day and how I know that President Rawlings is a man of God and that following him is the right thing to do. And then we all headed down for some food. The office staff did a great job preparing tons and tons of typical Thanksgiving food (which is really hard because a lot of the ingredients for the dishes are slightly different here, so they had to really search for some stuff) We ate, sang songs, played a thanksgiving game and had a real good time. It felt like home. Except.... no family haha.

At the end, they gave us tons of leftovers to take home. We had turkey, pie, and mashed potatoes. I noticed that the mashed potatoes were in a flimsy plastic container and I thought: " I hope that doesn’t break open in my bag, that would really blow. I know what will do the trick! Tape!" Tape did not do the trick. On the way home I smelled the slight scent of potatoes, and then realized that it was coming from my backpack. I looked in and the potatoes and spilled all over my bag and scripture case. It took forever to clean everything out but eventually I got most of it out.....Except the scent. But it is ok because I think it gives that backpack more character. That bag has been through high school, the MTC, its been stolen, its been found, and now has the faint smell of a Thanksgiving dinner. Pretty rich history for a backpack.

I love and miss you all. Have good weeks.

Heart, Vanhin Merk

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My work and My glory...

Hello to all!
This last week started off great with a trip to Asunción. We took the long bus ride in overnight, and got there Tuesday morning. We went in taxi straight to the temple with all the elders that are far away from the city. I was really excited, it had been a really long time since I had assisted the temple. As we entered in, I felt the Spirit testify of the sacredness of the work done there. Its cool to think that outside those walls, lies a busy, hectic, dirty city. But inside, sacred work of  the Lord and saving ordinances are done. I went in mentally prepared, and was able to learn more about my role as a child of God. Obedience is so important, given that its the first law of EVERYTHING, and EVERY blessing comes from obedience to some law. I love temples, and the calming Spirit found inside.
We then proceeded the temple with Zone Conference in the mission office. The main focus was different ways to find new investigators, and focusing on the goal: families sealed in the temple! We watched Jeffrey R. Hollands talk that he gave while I was in the MTC, and even though I have now heard and seen it a bunch, it still hits me hard every time. I cannot be a missionary without loving Christ and His Atonement. Pres. Madariaga testified strongly about his feelings on that talk, Christ, etc., and said that we need to be more grateful for Him. I left Asunción with a strong spiritual burst, which has still been guiding me.
I completed 1 year this week as a missionary....I read the letter that I addressed to myself while I was in the MTC, which made me laugh, smile, cry, everything. I committed myself to do what the letter said, make it the best year of my life! This last year has been my best, and I am excited to make this one even better.
I am still with my local Paraguayan comp. We got a call from Pres. Madariaga this week, announcing he will be going to Tijuana Mexico in March. He was so excited, it reminded me of how excited I was when I got my call, and even more excited when Elder Colligan opened his call to come here with me. Aren't mission calls the best!
Yesterday at church, the primary teacher didn't come, so I taught the primary class. Man, it was a blast, that is the dream calling haha. We sang I am a Child of God, and I went over all the lyrics and then we drew a picture of the "path to God." Halfway through the class, the teacher came and all the kids were sad when I left. About a minute later the branch president asked me to go back and teach the kids, because the primary teacher had to teach another class. I was welcomed back with cheers, smiles, even clapping. I felt like some sort of hero returning to the people he had saved, or something like that. I love primary!
As I was studying this week, I was thinking a lot about Gods "work and glory" in Moses 1:39. His goal is that all His children can return back to live with Him. It got me thinking on my work and my glory as one of His missionaries. A cool moment of revelation hit me when I came across Alma 29:9-10, which says "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, that I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.  And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my should filled with joy." I felt the Spirit testify that I have a big responsibility on my help God, the Supreme Being, in His work, by being an instrument in His hands. That is my work and my glory. And I can testify that during this last year, I have never felt more joy in my entire life. I have had SO many moments where I felt, "there is no way I will be happier than this very moment", and then it happens...I have even more joy. I love missionary work, because I love my Heavenly Father, and I want to find, teach, baptize, confirm, and retain people as members of the church so that I can help Him in his work and glory. I am excited to make this next year even better, help even more people, feel even more joy as I work in his vineyard.
Thanks for the support, keep us in your prayers!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Monday, November 21, 2011

Power...OU​T! Its all about charity

Hello to all-
The weather here is just crazy. Right now it is cold and rainy, however on Friday I think I had what I would like to call the Hottest Moment of my life. We had a lunch appointment with a member, and it was so humid outside, without a cloud it sight, one of the hottest days of my mission. We entered into this small, closed up room where it was, to my surprise, even hotter that outside. At this point, even before eating, I was sweating huge drops off my face. Then the sweet little old lady member brings out this piping hot oily soup, without anything to drink (because Paraguayans don't drink during meals, only after). I'm sure you can imagine my face at this point, almost shocked with how hot I felt, but its one of those moments where you put on a smile and laugh about it, which I did. The weather, that same day, turns crazy stormy and a hurricane like rainstorm hits us out of nowhere. On Saturday, the sky turned completely black while we were out working, and then the rain came, so we ran and found this inactive member and taught them underneath their patio. After teaching the lesson using just the cellphone light, we got up to leave when I realized that all of the power in the entire city was cut, and the sky was black. There wasn't any sign of light in any direction. It was kinda scary, but it turned out alright, I had my cell phone light. Since then, its been raining like crazy, if you step outside for 1 second its as if you just jumped in the pool haha but I'm loving it.
I have been greatly enjoying my 1 hour personal study in the morning. I was able to finish reading whats called The 4th Missionary, written by Elder Corbridge, and it talks a lot about serving with all your heart, mind, might, and strength. In 1 Corinthians 13.3, it says and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Its changed my whole thinking, even if I serve a 2 year mission and am not giving myself completely to the Lord, through my thoughts and my heartfelt desires, I am not profiting from the mission like I could be. I recommitted myself to become the 4th missionary and to be who the Lord expects from me, and be sincerely changed. Its all about charity, so I have been studying about that mostly in my studies, and trying to be more sincere in my teaching, as I show love and care for everyone.
I had a cool moment, where my comp and I were studying about the Book of Mormon and how to use it more as missionaries. Coincidentally that day practically every lesson, doubts came up about another Bible. I had a really spiritually powerful experience when I read in Moroni 10. 27-29,34 and put my name on the list of believers, just like Moroni, Nephi, Elder Holland, even Jesus Christ, in the Book of Mormon. I love teaching from it, about it, and applying its teachings in my life. I will continue my challenge to you all to read in it daily, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Thanks for the support and prayers, don't forget about us here in your prayers. Love you all!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No pictures this week


So, anyways.

Some dirtbag stole my camera this week.

We were doing service at the church and I set my backpack down on the grass where we were raking. We continue raking and for 90% of the time I am within sight of my bag. But then I go back and it was not there. We check everywhere and can’t find it. We finally decide to check the near bus stop where we found my backpack opened, map and pamphlets on the ground, and camera gone. I felt like karma was saying: Oh, thank you so much for doing service and helping other people, by the way..... some idiot jacked your camera. But I feel pretty lucky that I found my backpack and the map and I lost only about 2 months of pics instead of my whole missions worth. It is interesting because I had 2 Book of Mormons in my bag, but only found one. So he took the Book of Mormon. I told my companion that when I become an apostle I’m going to hopefully have a sweet conference story about the time someone stole my camera and Book of Mormon and then totally got converted by reading it. Ya never know...

I’m still struggling with the language day by day, but I am seeing some progress. I can understand almost everything in a regular conversation but it is still hard to speak. Finnish is mind blowing with all the possibilities you can throw on words and how it changes the whole sentence. I have really been humbled by it. And am also starting to see the beauty of the complexity. It all fits together like a crazy math problem.

We had a baptism this week. It was an African lady from Tanzania. She is very humble and willing to learn. The baptism went well. I gave a talk about the Holy Ghost. I used my mom as an example. I talked about how sometimes she shows up late for a movie and she don’t know where we were sitting. So we needed to whisper to her and she needed to listen for us over the loud movie. It is the same in life, there are so many loud sounds, but we need to listen to the quiet familiar voice that is telling us where to go. I’m pretty sure it made sense.

This week I got a sweet bike from the ward. We have been trying to find people and our teaching has slowed down a little bit. The bike has been really fun though. It’s also getting really dark really early (still quite warm though). We changed the clocks and ever since than the night just seems to be coming earlier and earlier. The only problem I have noticed is that it tricks me into thinking its about time to go to sleep so I am a little bit more tired. There is still no snow on the ground and people are saying they think it will be a warmer winter. Lets hope, I would love having a mild winter and then when I come back and people ask me about the winters I can say "Pssh... I coulda worn a short sleeve if I wanted" And then they will think I’m tough.

Thanks for everything. I miss and love you all.

Have good weeks.

Heart, Vanhin Merkley

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Finally a blog from Jared ...

Jared gave his farewell address the last week in September and many of you (who are still in town) were there. Thanks! He also appreciated those of you who came over to the house afterwards. The next weekend was General Conference and we thought it would be a great weekend as a family to just sit around with our arms around each other watching conference, celebrating Grandpa's birthday and being together before Jared took off on Oct. 5th. It didn't turn out exactly like that.

First, on Friday night Jared's sister-in-law Kimra (Jacob's wife) had a little boy which was cool because Jared had wanted to see him before he left for two years.

Then things started to go wrong Saturday when his sister, Jasmine, in Price also started to deliver her baby but this one was six weeks early. It turned into a life threatening situation- not so much for the baby but for Jasmine. She was life flighted from Price to the University hospital. I (his mother) knew I was in trouble when his father, the doctor, was in tears. It was pretty much a miracle that she recovered completely but the baby was left in Price and the whole weekend was fairly tramatic for all of us. Jared was set apart by his father (which was way cool) up at the University hospital in the 'Hope Chapel' and then he had to more or less pack his own bags without Mom (more 'trauma' and that is only a little bit sarcastic - mostly true) but he did get off to the Provo MTC Oct 5 as planned. I think he was kind of in a daze but maybe that would have been the case no matter how the week had gone.
Jared's little brother, Jefferson was (is) in mourning. As Jared's parents,we were relieved that he got to the MTC before he killed or seriously maimed himself checking off all the 'things I want to do with my friends before I leave'.

He spent only three weeks in the Provo MTC before he got his Brazilian visa. He was one of only two Elders in his district to leave so he was very lucky. The Brazilian MTC has only 250 Elders (compared to Provo's 3000 or so) which I think the Lord knows is more Jared's style. Everything is in Portuguese so he thinks the language is coming a little better now. At first the heat got to him a lot but lately he seems more acclimatized to it and survives the night by having the top bunk right under the fan.(Do you 'fight' for such things or just how do things like that go down amongst Elders?) He says there is an added bonus to his bunk- the fan sweeps off the bugs as well. It's a small building so the Elders get to travel around the city on their P-day's and meet the Brazilians who, true to rumor, are very friendly and open even if you don't talk much. Hope to keep you updated with his letters as we receive them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baptism-We​dding of Pablo and Mirium, No longer a teen...

Hello to all!
What a week! I am going to do more picture sending that writing, I feel like pictures say more than words. Last Pday, we went walking around and went to the shore of Rio Paraná, which is the border between Paraguay and Brazil. The view is incredible, I will add some pics to show. We got changes this week and it was really sad because one of my biggest mentors (my Zone Leader) got changed, and I don't know why but it made me really sad. He is a great example for me, and I have learned a lot from him.  But on changes day, I was expecting to bring in a new companion here, really hoping to get another opportunity to train. But they said that I would be staying with Elder Garay for a little while longer. I know that the changes are direct revelation from the Lord, and so I know that its what the Lord wants, so I am excited about it. He has helped a lot, especially with Pablo (I'll talk more about him later) to translate what I teach to Guaraní. I´ll be sure to let you know what happens in the companionship.
My birthday was on Friday, and it was pretty great. I had cake 3 different times, once after lunch at this delicious cake shop, another with the other Saltos elders (they made one for me), and to end the night with one of my favorite families here, who coincidentally Elder Soto, my old comp, found when he was here. The branch here is really great to me and always express their appreciation for my hard work, which makes me feel great. A funny thing about Paraguay is when its your birthday, even if you have already shaken their hand 1 second before, once you say its your birthday, they say "FELICIDADES!!" and shake your hand again haha I don't know why but it makes me laugh every time. Its weird to think that I am no longer a teenager.
On Saturday night, I had one of the best experiences of the mission. After tons of chaotic preparation, including me having to make a bunch of big trips to find baptismal clothing, all turned out well in the baptism and wedding of Pablo and Mirium. They were so happy the whole time, you could see it in their eyes. The wedding went well, even though everyone was getting impatient (including myself, i will admit) when 2 of the witnesses didn't show up until a half hour late, and had their phones turned off. But they were married, and then we had the baptismal service. They wanted me to baptize them, so I did the baptismal ordinance for both of them. I will never forget how I felt when they entered into the water, and their lives changed. They were soooo happy. Everyone was so happy. We had a great musical number with all the full time and branch missionaries, I played the piano and we all sang Teach Me To Walk, the Spirit was really strong. There was a lot of branch support, tons of food, I even saved my birthday cake that the family sent me with frosting and sprinkles. On Sunday they were confirmed as members of the church, and Pablo along with Alex from a few weeks ago received the Aaronic Priesthood after the reunions. It was a really special weekend, to see the changes that people make in their lives, including my own.

I have been studying a lot in whats called The 4th Missionary by Elder Corbridge, and it talks a lot about how we are always changing, never standing still, and every choice we make effects our eternal progression. My life has changed a lot on the mission, I have been striving to apply and let Christlike attributes settle in and eventually let them become who I really am. Like Elder Corbridge says, in the long run its the easier and only way to progress and be happy internally. Let us serve God, no matter what our callings, responsibilities, occupations, locations, with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.
Keep me and the people here in your prayers.

Until next week,

Elder Babcock

Estas son las Mananitas (Spanish Birthday song)

Saddle Mountain, Monterrey, Mexico

"Wow, I feel tall!"

10/31 Hello family. Well quickly I just wanted to let you know about my companion. His name is Elder Heredia and he is from Peru. In the picture I look like a giant, cause he is super short. We went to the offices on Tuesday to pick them up and President Walker gave us a training meeting. He extended a few awesome promises, and said a few things that really made a difference for me. As you know I was nervous and exited last week, don't know how it would be to run the area… President Walker said that “it's not easy to find thirteen missionaries every transfer as prepared as all you."I have prayed and know that each one of you will be able to carry out the work in you respective areas.” It was really cool to be able to talk with the President and see his influence and desires. I know he has been called in his position to lead us as missionaries by revelation.

My companion has two brothers, one older that has returned from his mission, and his younger brother who is preparing to leave. He really came prepared, doctrinally, cause he was in Peru for one transfer waiting for his visa. It’s really funny how each companion you have, is for a reason. My first few to teach me patience and love… and this transfer I think it’s going to be maturity. Since Elder Heredia has gotten here, I’ve seen a difference in my personality. He’s great and loves to teach, but a lil immature, and still not converted to missionary work… but that comes with time and experiences. We are teaching and growing in unity and know we will be able to help this ward and area. I’m grateful for this gospel and the atoning sacrifice of our savior. I’m exited to e serving and thanks for your prayers…

11/7 I got your package last week and thank you sooooo much for everything you sent. Or maybe I could say thanks mom for putting everything together and thanks dad for writing a mom sized letter. We were looking for something crazy to do today, like bowling, or paintballing, or go carting… asking all the members and got the exact same response every time, “ there’s nothing fun to do here” ha-ha… I felt like responding “Try missionary work”. But we’re going to do the usual, which is really fun to me… soccer. But this morning we woke up, opened the package, hemmed up my pants cause they were huge ha-ha, and here we are. We had an amazing family this week that we found, had a great lesson, and the five of them, all came to church. The loved it and we are extremely exited for their progress and willingness to keep their commitments. Their son Victor is the best, as a joke we said whenever you want you can come visit families with us, hem at the end of the lesson said “you know what you said about visiting families? That really calls my attention… “He’s really helping his family progress, and has already tied his tie for next Sunday. Their dad is currently missing for the situation that is going on right now, and they have been prepared by other missionaries from more than a year ago. Pray for us and pray for the promises we extended them. It’s one of the best feelings of being a missionary.

When someone says their first sincere and humble prayer

When someone feels the spirit and testifies

Of course their baptism

My favorite and most rewarding is progression, and a sincere thanks…

I know this church is true, I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve… We should never think someone is not ready to hear the gospel “Compartelo” .Share It.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Herding the Goats

Happy Dia de los Muertos! Here in Mexico they do celebrate Halloween, but it is much different. It is also called dia de los muertos and is 3 days long. On each day they put offerings on the graves of deceased relatives and the traditional belief is that the spirits of the dead come and eat the food. So they put out all the things the person liked which for the most part is bread, tequila, and tomoles haha. I have been told that only the rich people here dress up, but most of the kids do go trick or treating.

This week was a little crazy. We have been visiting with a guy named Fransisco. His wife is a member who has been inactive but has recently reactivated. We are just waiting on them to get married and he will get baptized. We have a few other new investigators this week but it is still too early to tell what will happen with them. There is an elderly couple of missionaries (Los Velazquez) here in Zicatela who have been here for 7 months and Elder Velazquez has been President of the branch. Last week they took us to lunch at an awesome beach and we watched all the surfers and ate fish tacos. Then this week they took us to a place called the Cafecito and we had some hot chocolate and fresh bread and watched the surfers again. They end their mission this Thursday. Last Monday we were eating with them and I asked them about their plans after their mission. I was fully expecting vacations or relax or something like that but everything they told me had to do with their plans in the gospel. They told me of plans to serve in the temple and their plans for activating their kids in the gospel. It really strengthens my testimony a lot to see people so dedicated to the gospel that their mind is only set on what more they can do to help in the work.

This week was good. We had zone conference as I mentioned in a place called Huatulco which is about 3 hours away from Puerto. We went there Monday night and slept in one of the mission houses there with 8 of us in total. It was crammed but it was awesome. They made chocolate chip pancakes with a bag of 10 dollar chocolate chips haha. Then we went to the conference the next day and President Leyva spoke and also Elder Duncan who is a member of the seventies spoke. He talked about a lot of different facets of missionary work but his overall theme was love. He talked about the relationship we have with everyone who lives on the earth and the potential every one has. It was really good and I left feeling re-energized. I also really like riding in the buses here haha. We are working with the same investigators we have had for the whole change and as of right now we have about 8 people that we are teaching. Tonight we are going to have a family home evening with one of the coolest families in the ward and this morning we woke up at 6 to go make the cookies you sent me so that we can take them there. We had our first English class this week and had a grand total of 2 people attend- Elder Prince and me. I love the Mexican culture, but one thing that is irritating is that they always say they will do things but then they don't do them. I'm not sure if its because they are too nice to say no or what it is, but it happens a lot and that happened with English.

This week was good. We are still working with Humberto and his family, and they are doing well. We had the District Leader come this week from their area which is an hour away to go with them but when we got to their house they weren't home and so we waited about an hour and they still didn't arrive so we left and they had to drive back another hour. But this week we have a baptism of an 8 year old kid and we are going to take them to that so they can see what it is like. We have been working a lot with less active and inactive members and 2 of the families that we have been visiting have re activated. We are also teaching another guy named Francisco and are just waiting for his birth certificate to arrive from his pueblo so that he can get married and then baptized. I am feeling more comfortable with the mission and with my responsibilities and Elder Prince and I are becoming better and better friends. But we have changes next week so we will see what happens. I want to stay so that I can avoid having to pack haha but either way will be good. This coming week we have 4 family home evenings and are teaching English classes and Elder Prince is teaching piano. Its going to be a crazy week but I'm excited. I love you guys a lot, thanks for everything you do.

Hasta luego.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween in the mission field

It’s Halloween.

But it doesn’t feel like halloween because I’m stuck in the same costume that I have been in for the last 9 months. I did get a little festive and carved a pumpkin, made a sweet ghost and decorated my planner for halloween. I also got my hands on Edgar Allen Poe’s "Raven" poem. And for P-day we are going into the city for a lil sightseeing... This may turn out to be a pretty ballin halloween afterall. Halloween is one of the best holidays in my opinion. What other day can you cut holes in your old dance dance revolution pad and wear it (my costume last year) and still be considered kind of normal... Such a great holiday.

Speaking of Holidays. I’m starting to see Christmas stuff at the store. Because santa clause is from Finland, they do not mess around when it comes to Christmas. I’m really excited to be in a country that loves Joulu as much as I do!

This week we got the call that its going to be six more weeks in Haaga with Vanhin Pearson. He wanted to move areas because he does not like the big city. I told him I am going to try and force him to like it. We are really in a groove now and are not having a lot of fun together. We have a baptism set for this Saturday. It is a lady from Tanzania. She is really golden. We are teaching a lot of foreigners right now, and mostly it’s because we are close to the big city and there are a lot of them around us. Although, it does not really help my Finnish improve, I don’t really mind because I have developed a huge love for foreigners.

This week we really hit the pavement and did a lot of contacting. We do not have a ton of investigators right now so we are trying to find a few more. Contacting is really interesting. Some days you can’t do anything wrong and you’re finding all the time. But then other days, you don’t even have a single conversation with somebody. I have noticed that a huge part of it is staying positive and fresh. It is such an interesting part of the work. I’m glad I have the companion I do because although our styles are different, we both have a similar sense of humor so that keeps things easy.

Thank you all for the emails and letters. You guys are all cool.

Love you. Have good weeks.

Vanhin Merk

10/24 An Unexpected Change

Well well, some good news I’m thinking for me. They didn’t tell us last night of the transfers, which usually come on Sunday night… so we went to sleep not knowing. Woke up and imagined they would tell us the exchanges before study time… yeah no. We decided to play soccer in the park next to our house, cause we couldn’t go shopping, what if we leave, and we didn’t want to write home cause we didn’t know the transfers.

Well it turns out that the president was in his office with the assistants figuring everything thing out for the whole mission, and finally left in time to tell us our transfers before lunch. And…. My companion is going to Reynosa as Senior companion, and I’m…. Going to have a baby. I don’t know his name or where he’s from, cause we go to pick him up tomorrow. I’m super exited, and really nervous. I feel like this last transfer has prepared me to be a senior companion, but not a tutor… ha-ha I’m sure it’s just another one of those do the best you can and give it your all, I’ll let you know the deets next week. Pray a big prayer for the elder Rhodes.

This week was kind of hectic cause my companion has been sick with some sniffles and bloody noses, well after going to the city, outside of our mission, and seeing a specialist, he has a cancerous tumor in his nasal passages, with little veins that sometimes pop and he has bloody noses. But this also means he has to operate, cause it is growing slowly. He’ll get the info next week in his studies and see if he can wait the three months till he gets home off his mission, if not, it’s probable he will have to return to His house early. Feel bad for the kid.

We ate in the house of Hermana Juanna and she told the story, including the part that dad never included, that he spoke just a lick of Spanish and that’s the reason she let em in, to teach them Spanish… Ha-ha what a great time to talk with her and see how much she influences others.

I’m super exited and super nervous; I hope I can show the example of a missionary to my new companion as I have seen in other elders. I’ll be heading for the offices tomorrow, so I’m hoping the package is waiting for me, I won’t open it till MondayJ. Thanks for everything

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Comp, Gods preparing people to recieve the truth

Hello to all-
This week was a very successful one, and it was all because of the help of members in missionary work here. Our ward mission leader is all about missionary work, and has came up with many great ideas to achieve great things here. We are planning many great activities, setting up appointments to leave with us to visit investigators, recent converts, less-active members, even other active members so that our small branch here can retain more members, and reactivate the lost sheep. The power of working with members is real, so all you members out there, please, help your missionaries.
We invited our district president to visit a couple we are teaching, Pablo and Mirium. They are so prepared, and are progressing at an incredibly fast rate. They aren't married, and have understood the need for a wedding and for baptism, and are very repentant of their past. In our visit, they were able to gain a great friendship with president, and are looking great for baptism. Mirium always shares these incredible comments of faith and obedience. For example, in the word of wisdom, she said she likes coffee, but that if its a commandment of God, she gladly will give it up. She was reading the Book of Mormon and then before going to bed, she was meditating the message it contains, and then prayed for God to contest her. She shared her experience, and how she knows its a true book. She received her answer, just like the Introduction to the Book of Mormon says. She shares these cool dreams, one of which was literally Lehi's Dream and how there was a bunch of smoke, but her family was protected from the smoke. Another dream she had was her in the celestial kingdom with her family. She even said that when we explained baptism and shared how Christ was baptized by immersion, she said it just all makes sense. Sometimes I sit back and think about how incredible this family is we are teaching, and I wanted to share this to say that people are being prepared all over the world. It's our job, as members, to invite them to partake of the joy of the gospel.
We had interviews with the Mission President, he is an awesome example for me. He is a spiritual giant in every aspect. We had a good chat, and I learned so many new ways to improve myself as a missionary. We focused a lot on being bold in the message of the Restoration, and I put it into practice, and have felt the Spirit working through me as I share about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon even more. Every time I share the message of the Restoration, everything feels right, and I know thats' the Spirit. Its a great time to be a missionary and to be here in Paraguay.
Like I mentioned, we have a marriage and baptism here for Pablo and Mirium for this Saturday. There's still a lot to be done, I am praying hard that it all works out for this weekend.
My companion is a local 19 yr old Paraguayan. He is so dedicated, positive, up for working hard, and a great teacher. He is waiting for his mission call, and excited to serve. It has been a great blessing to be with him, we are learning a lot from each other, especially him teaching me Guarani and me teaching him English.
I love the mission....I literally can't describe it. I love being here, and for the leaders I have in the mission, church, and family. Keep me and the people here in your prayers. Love you guys.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Alex's baptism...

Hello to all!
On Monday night, after doing a night division with our Zone Leader, Elder Payne , Elder Arzate got a call and got special changed out of here, and so we were in a trio for a few days with his companion, Elder Ellis. We had a good division and worked hard, I am going to miss Elder Arzate he was a great friend. On our division, I was laying in bed about to fall asleep, when I hear the other 2 Elders laugh, and I feel a big cockroach climb up my arm. I was from asleep to on my feet on top of my bed in 2 seconds flat, and noticed the cockroach fall down my shirt. For a moment, I thought it might have dropped down the pants, and it really scared me, but I was relieved when I saw it running away on the floor. Man, I am getting sick of cockroaches.
We had a baptism for Alejandro. He had his interview with the District Leader, then we basically spent the day inviting and preparing the service. He needed a special interview with Pres. Madariaga via telephone, and, long story short, after TONS of prayers, running, calling, prayers (i think i mentioned that already but a lot of prayers were said), it all worked out and Alex was baptized. He chose me to do it, and it was incredible to see the leaps his taken in his life to change. He has had a mighty change of heart, you can see it in his eyes, his actions, and his attitude. It was a really special baptismal service for me, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be here and to be here on a mission. It hit me really hard to remember my divine purpose as a missionary- find, teach, baptize, confirm, retain....and LOVE! I love Alex, Elder Finch, President Madariaga, the tiny tiny branch here, and all the support from home. I am learning and growing daily, and am excited to see what the Lord has in store for my future. Keep me and the people here in your prayers.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Companion study is starting

This week has been good and went by really fast. We have a lot of people to teach right now and we are literally just sprinting back and forth all day trying to make our appointments on time. We are super busy which is really fun and also really tiring. Somedays we don’t even have time for a normal dinner or full study. (Every morning we wake up and study personally for an hour, together with comp for an hour and then language for an hour) It’s been crazy but really sweet. The area is really exploding now that we have two sets of missionaries.

Someone asked a very interesting question--about my emails changing from "Why am I here..." to "This rocks" and I don’t really know the answer. I think it is a lot of things. I am more used to the work and more familiar with what I need to do. I am more comfortable in my surroundings. But, I think the main thing is that I just grew up a little (now, I’m not saying I’m to the adult level of "mature adult" but I think I upped a few notches from "snot nosed teenager"...) I have so many blessings (churchy john word, but nonetheless true) and I really feel like if I am honest with myself I have absolutely nothing to complain about. The work is hard, but it is so rewarding. I’m away from my family and friends, but they are happy and safe. I have great people around me. Good food. Good apartment. And so I think I am just realizing more and more all the great things that I never realized I had before. A mission is really good at bumping you up notches on the maturity scale.

This week we had a baptism of a man from Tanzania. He is very humble and jolly and great to be around. I have gained such a love for Africans on my mission. They are all so humble and so nice. They will treat you like a brother right when they meet you. And this man was no different. He used to be a rapper and told us that he has completely turned his life around. He told us that he has a new rap song called "I’m clean". Haha he is such an awesome guy. Me and Pearson gave talks at the baptism. His brother baptized him, and he is a bigger guy so they had to redo it a couple times... but in the end all went well.

There was a slight mishap before the baptism though. In the mission world, there is something called a "pocket puke". A missionaries pocket is very important to them. In it they hold pass out cards, vocab word book, and occasionally their planner. A pocket puke is when they lean over to far and all the stuff in their pocket pukes out and falls to the ground. It happens more often than you would think. So, at the baptism, we were filling the font. And my companion and I were trying to pick out the leaves that had somehow gotten into the water. And thats when I puked. Right into the water. Everything I had was just floating around in the baptismal font, with the baptism starting in no less than 20 minutes. What I had to end up doing is running around, taking my pants off and wading through the water to pick up my soggy stuff (luckily though, not my planner) It was absolutely drenched. I was really nervous that someone would walk in to see the missionaries, one with his pants off, wading and fishing around in the water trying to collect all the cards. But luckily, nobody came. Oh, the random funny stuff that could only happen while serving a mission.

I also bought a little flute (2 euros at a hand me down store). It looks like I’m creating my own band. But I don’t know how to play the lil flute, so mostly it just sits in my desk. Although every once in a while I will bust it out and play a little 3 note "Companionship study is starting song", it sounds exactly how you would imagine it.

We also tried to get me a bike this week. Another missionary who is leaving said he would give me his for 20 euros. The only problem though is that its a total junker. The other problem is that it came in pieces so as to fit in the car. We have tried all week to get it back together but its been rough. I dont think I will buy it, but I feel a little bad haha. "Hey, elder, you know that bike that is now in pieces and not able to be put back together? Ya, I dont think I really want it anymore. But thanks for bringing it over!" Im a dirtbag...

Thanks for all the letters and love. I so thankful for all of you. Be safe and have good weeks.

Love you all,

Elder Merk

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mission Life is what it is...

This week was super normal. I feel like I start every email with that line. But this week it’s true again. Back to work with the comp, changes next week and we’ll see what goes down, and I haven’t spoke with Hermana Juana cause she’s going to ask permission from the Pres. to have an hour to talk.

This week we were super exited for some of our new investigators that we had found last week. We did the mission plan for investigators and how to have success. We find the person on Tuesday, on Wednesday pass for five minutes with members, Thursday we have a lesson in the house of the members, Friday the members pass and read the scriptures with them, and Saturday we have an appointment with them and with the members again on the importance of the Sabbath day. Well super stoked for everything, felt like they had a great hold on everything and testimonies and everything… we heard there is a seventy percent chance they will attend if we do the plan, well someone else I guess did the same plan and it worked cause the members passed by their home Sunday morning and Claudia and her sons had received company… :(

The work goes on and we’ll see what this week has to bring us. I’m stoked for your calling dad that should be sick to work with the young men and play with the nuggets to help 'em get on a mission. Its super great. You can do whatever you’d like with my experience, just don’t cry. Ha-ha Trek will be fun and a lot of work. And it’s funny you mention Brent Dial and all them cause I was talking with Elder Rodriguez, our house mate and district leader, who has a pretty similar personality, he’s awesome, about camping experiences and the, excuse my language, old folks that are sneakily super funny, with clean jokes… like Marcus Miller and Brent Dial, hope they don’t get offended that I call them old.

Mom you sent a “chor” ton of questions. I will take some time to answer a few. Thanks for sending the package, and pants, my black pants are burnt grey, and my gray pants white, no just kiddin. But really thanks, I’m exited. I was sick with like the flu. My whole body hurt, I had a monster of a headache, and I only threw up once. You know how you’ve taught me, take an ibuprofen and get to work. Well it turns out I worked myself a little too hard, and called our mom and she told me paracetamol (stop) and take a break. So I did and I’m doing completely fine. The time before when I talked to you on the phone I wasn’t that sick, just I couldn’t talk. I’m eating well, haven’t gained much weight, 154 ish, and doing well now. Zone conferences are in the stake center, and they last from 9 in the morning till 3 ish, and we have activities of obedience, the zone leaders talked and it was super boring, and I feel like I’m in Sunday school again. Sometimes I feel like I’m not learning anything, I’m genuinely putting attention, but when zone leaders say phrases like “if we don’t talk to people, were not going to find new investigators, seems a little obvious.” I wish there was a little more excitement in the mission field, I’ve always said it’s the plan of happiness. We have a short break with refreshment and listen to talks by President Walker and Hermana Walker. It was great to hear them speak and he talked about discouragement and how we can know if we’re doing our part. If we’re feeling the spirit. We have the goal of baptize every week, but without a baptism in such a long time, I’ve really gotten not down, but disappointed. It was great to hear the answer to my prayers. Mission life is what it is.

Friday, October 21, 2011

3 Kingdoms Activity!

Hello to all!
Another week has come and gone, does time just fly! We had a unique week, I really learned a lot and feel my testimony grow and grow daily. Last week I received a call out of nowhere, and Christian from Bella Vista called me! He was so excited to hear from me, and he shared with me all about his mission plans, how he weekly attends church, stake choir, mission prep, institute, leaves with the missionaries there, and even is doing his Duty To God with another recent convert planning to serve a mission. He has matured so much, and is so excited for a year to pass so that he can go to the temple and get out on the mission. It made me reflect back on the impact of one moment, one opportunity to enter into a house, one chance to open your mouth and preach the good news of the gospel. Every second matters, and I feel eternally grateful for being guided to his house and helping him start his spiritual journey towards eternal life. I love the mission!
The weather here has been really rainy. Wednesday and Thursday we made some pretty brave runs through rain storms that were so heavy that it was honestly as if I had been standing in the shower for 10 minutes. Its been fun battling the weather, I am holding strong on the standard missionary believe that every rain storm walked through makes my future wife even better looking, and if that's true, she had a great week this week haha.
We had an awesome activity in the branch this week that the missionaries planned out. We acted out a scene where we entered into a plane ride going towards the moon, when the plane crashes and we all die. After that, we passed into another room into the Telestial Kingdom, where there weren't any lights, only a really sour cup of lemon juice. Someone tried it and said it was nasty, and the whole room wasn't too comfortable. We shared a scripture about it, then they passed into another room, the Terrestrial Kingdom, where there was light, and a glass of good juice. We read another scripture, then after that, we all sat in one room where we said, Thanks for coming to the activity today, we would like to end with a prayer. We said the prayer, then after the prayer, we said, Oh wait, we forgot one more kingdom...the Celestial Kingdom, where we slid the curtain into a room all decorated in white, with white balloons, a white table with tons of delicious fruit, with calm music, and we read about the Celestial Kingdom. It was incredible, we had 3 investigators there, including a couple we are teaching, who absolutely loved it. It was cool to show the contrasts of the kingdoms, and helped me remember my eternal goal, which is eternal life.
We are teaching this great couple, Pablo and Midium, who have been to church two weeks in a row and are progressing towards baptism. We have a baptism planned this week for Alex, on Saturday. I am enjoying this area, companion, branch, district so much, I can feel the power of your prayers daily. Keep me and my companion in them. Love you guys!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crazy hot in Mexico!

I think I have been continually sweating for about 2 months now.This week was good. It was the first week with Elder Prince. We get along pretty well, no serious disagreements or anything like that. He has been in the mission 5 months and speaks spanish really well. We have been teaching the same investigators we had last change and havent seen much improvement lately so we may need to leave them for a while because there could be other people who are prepared. We have also been visiting with a lot of less active and non active members. There are tons and they are really awesome, I just dont understand a lot of the time their reasons for not going to church. But everyone is different and has their own challeneges, now our challenge as missionaries is to help these members get back. I dont know if you all noticed, but in conference the scripture 1 Timothy 4:12 was used 3 or 4 times. My companion realized that and we have been sharing that scripture with all the members that didnt go to conference. It talks about our responsibility as members to be examples to everyone in everything we do. The church really is much different from the world and as time goes on the seperation between the 2 becomes larger and larger. As long as we are living faithfully, people will notice, they will wonder, and many will want what we have.

If you dont already do it, I suggest sharing your testimonies to each other. Its something we do as companions a lot and it really helps.

The temple President from Oaxaca came to our ward this week and talked about the importance of temples. He was saying how blessed the people here are because they only have to take a 6 hour bus ride to the temple. How much more blessed are we in Utah to be able to drive 20 minutes to the temple? He was also saying how going to the temple is the best preparation we can possibly make for the second coming.

Love Elder Millet