Monday, February 28, 2011

Elder Arnold (of the Seventy) . . .

Monday, February 28, 2011

Well, another great and busy week in Paraguay!

Started things off great with a division with my good buddy Elder Colligan! A few months ago, great friends. Now in Paraguay as companions for a day. We had only been here a month, and had the whole day in my area to work and teach. It started off pretty loco when we visited a recent convert named Juan Bautista (yes John Baptist, great name). We shared our scripture and were leaving when the daughter came running for us and asked if we could give a blessing, because Juan´s wife was really sick. So Colligan did the oil, and I was able to give my first blessing here, all in Spanish. It was a pretty scary experience, given that I dont know the language perfectly yet, but it was really spiritual and I enjoyed it. After that we continued our crazy day by visiting a member that decided that the Book of Mormon isn't true, and tried to bible bash us about it...weren't expecting that one. Then we went to another member lady who had gotten in a fight with a neighbor and had all these bruises and cuts, and was missing a tooth. we had planned the day being a lot of quick spiritual thoughts and short lessons...that just shows that as a missionary, no matter how long you´ve been here or how much experience you have, things happen that you cant prepare for. That's when you just pray for the Spirit, and for help from up above. It was a great day though, one of the best here.
The weather in Paraguay is crazy. In a matter of days it went from 105 and humid in our area, to flooded, muddy, cold, wet streets. This country is so unpredictable every single day, and I´m loving the opportunity to grow and learn. Speaking of that, I got a haircut on Monday, and just asked for an average cut, nothing big. However, I walked out of that hair cut place with the shortest hair I´ve ever had in my life. You live and you grow, and i´m hoping my hair somewhat grows back soon.
So the big news here in Luque and in the mission this week is that the area president is here...President Arnold of the Seventy...He came here and interviewed all the Zone Leaders, including my comp. Basically he "dropped cane" on the mission, and everything will be different soon (in a good way). Supposedly our mission has the reputation of being a high baptizing successful mission, but at the same time a very disobedient mission. Its sad because its true, so many elders here waste their two years away, and I am glad he came and has put the mission back in order. Some bad news is that I might be leaving this area, because they are thinking about going back to 2 zone leaders everywhere, which leaves me to go somewhere else. I hope not, but I'll be happy wherever I am. Also, we had stake conference, where the president of the area (Arnold), mission (Madariaga), and temple (Yudall) all talked. There was 998 people there, the church is really strong in my area. I love the Luque area its awesome.
I wanted to thank my mom and my family for this book they sent me. It included each of their testimonies, and then songs, poems, scriptures all about our Savior. I had a really spiritual personal study this week where I had a bunch of questions, and so I prayed, and then read in that book. I usually am not a big cryer, but this one really got to me, and so I wanted to just say thank you to my family for everything, I love them more than words can express.
I read in DyC 31 3-5 (sorry this keyboard is limited) which talked about the mission call of Thomas Marsh, and it is a really cool section, especially for those serving right now or will serve in the near future. Verse 5 says "Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire, wherefore, your family shall live." There are limitless blessings to those who choose to serve the Lord. It is a privilege and an honor to be here in Paraguay. There isn´t anywhere Id rather be then here serving and helping others find Christ. I recently completed 3 months in the mission, which isn´t much, but I can honestly say I love the mission in every aspect.
Thanks for the letters and emails, keep in touch. miss you all and love you guys. pray for me and the people of Paraguay. Ciao.
Con Amor,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm pretty sure I've gained 11 pounds

Hey family and friends and whatnots.

How is normal life treating ya? All things are under control here. We taught in Finnish again this week and it was still really rocky but much better than last week. From day to day you do not see any progress but you can really see the difference from one week to another...Its kinda like when i was growing my hair out and it never seemed like it was growing but than i would look at a picture and notice the difference. That is how i am learning Finnish... one tenth of an inch at a time!

I saw brett grant in here this week. Haha it was great to see the guy and got me pumped for when tay mil will get here. me and tay will only have like a week lapse but i will work hard to see my brosky.

Man i have been here five weeks. that is so weird to think. Theres a saying in the MTC that the days are like weeks and the weeks are like days. ha and it is really true. I am almost half way done here and it is finally dawning on me how much more things i need to learn and do. It seems like you have a ton of time, but you really dont and so when yall come, work like a mad doggg.

How are things going with Housten, is it a good fit and do you guys think you could keep it up for the next 2 years? lemme know. I sometimes feel like me and dad are sort of doing the same sort of thing. Something hard and lonely but nontheless important and necessary. Its helps me to know that i have parents with so much grit.

I am wearing my glasses in class now and would like it if someone could send me some chums (that thing that goes on old people glasses). any kind of chums would work.

Also, (im lookin at sisters/andy/friends here) if you ever see any cool or funny little stickers, you should send a few my way. I want to sort of pimp out my tag (on the backside of course). Ive seen some pretty interesting stickers here, and mine is pretty boring.

Also. Get ready for this one... I dont want that much junk food sent to me. There is so much here from everybodys packages and the english elders leave so often that we have a small mountain of junk food in our room right now. so im pretty set. Now dont get me wrong.... still send starbursts and/or skittles but i dont need so much of the other stuff. Maybe just something healthier i can snack on... I am saying this cuz i am pretty sure i have gained 11 pounds. Im not used to eating everything i want and gaining weight!! its madness. Its cuz we barely do anything physical here, whereas back home i was movin all day. So thank you, i do love getting packages.

This week i drew a picture of me and andrew going on the pirates of caribean ride. haha i miss my bro. i drew the part where the skull is saying dead man tell no tales and then you drop down the big hill... haha i look at it when i get homesick.

So ya i miss you guys and stuff. Thanks for the letters.

Love you all.

Vanhin Merkley

Monday, February 21, 2011


Wow... There is more snoop dog than Spanish, more dogs than Mexicans, and more culture shock than anything. That really sums it up, i really did fall asleep to someone blasting rap, and woke up... at six thirty to someone playing snoop... Nothing like a mission right? Anyway i got in on Monday at about three thirty, after waking up at two thirty in the morning, my mission president picked me up and we went to his house. Super nice house and everything and for our first dinner... Costco pizza and cheesecake. Nothin like reminding you of good ole home. My mission president is great, really just hung out with him for the night and then we met some other missionaries and headed to bed at the mission office. A good night of sleep and in the morning we went to get our visas and make sure everything was good with the government... it was... and i met my new companion, his name is Elder Islas, From Mexico, has been here for almost a year, really a pretty good first companion. We rode a bus for 5 hours to our area... its called matamoros, ward Buena Vista II, and its only about 5 minutes away from the border. I live in Ehido viente? something similar to that on calle 3. Anyway its a pretty good place to start my mission I've heard. I get to ride a bicycle, although i haven't bought one yet so I'm not riding yet. For being so close to America, i don't get mail that often, I hear about once a month, maybe two months. All mail goes through the mission home and then they have to pack it up here or just wait for a transfer if i go down there, so it will take a while. and my companion doesn't know if there is a mail place here to send stuff so well just see how it woks out... keep sending though, i need the love. First Sunday here, everyone just kind of laughs at you and kinda frustrated when you don't understand them, kind of frustrating but its something to motivate you. The ward is good, about forty people or maybe fifty but its all good. i love the food, I'm trying to get used to the climate... it feels like I'm drinking a glass of water at all times cause of the humidity. We have met a few great investigators hopefully they will get baptised soon, we have been knocking on fences like crazy and sweating it out, its really hard work. And I'm sure you read the news so i wont touch on anything like that. But hey there's nothing wrong with a little snoop dog! Our house is super small, when i got there i was like.. really? and we shower with a bucket... no roaches which is good, just bed bugs and ants. But then we went out knocking on doors, and i saw other people living conditions... we live pretty well where we are. Anyway its just super hard work... i hope all is going well with everyone at home... i miss you... i miss understanding things haha

Elder Rhodes

The Angel Kid and the 50 lb guayava bag . . .

Monday, February, 21, 2011


Well, I had a pretty interesting week, a lot of ups and downs. Overall, it was a good opportunity to learn a lot about myself and about the mission. Saturday morning our ward had a missionary activity, where each elder in the ward went around with a bunch of youth in the ward and invited less/inactive people to come to stake conference next week in Luque. It was interesting going around with a bunch of crazy little kids, and I was pretty nervous because I didn´t have my companion right there in case I didn´t understand something. However, it went really well, and we committed a lot of them to come. The ward here is incredible, I have been ridiculously blessed to start the mission here, I hope to stay for a while.
On Monday night we did a Noche de Hogar with a family in the ward that is less active, which went well. But things weren´t as fun after it got over. We ended up having to carry this huge duffel bag full of guayavas (little apple fruit thing) at about 9 PM, walking with an old lady at her pace, about 4 miles from one house to another. When we were turning on to her street, after the long walk, the duffel bag ripped out because it was too heavy, and all the guayavas spilled and exploded on the ground, leaving them useless. Oh man, that wasn´t the best experience of the mission, but all we could do then was laugh, so we did. Gotta love service!
This week I had one of those cool missionary story experiences. We had planned to visit this family (Alberto y Antonia) later in the day, but for some reason we were on a street somewhat near their house. We heard some little kid yelling at us (in front of their house) and we just kept walking because kids yelling at us happens all the time. However, he kept yelling so we decided to go down and see what was up. As we got near, we noticed that Alberto y Antonia were home, which was a miracle because they are never home and are near impossible to find, but are super golden. So we asked them if they saw some little kid and they said that they had no idea what we were talking about...We looked all around but there was no kid in sight. So we told Alberto y Antonia if it would be alright to come by in 30 minutes because we had an apt. with a nearby investigator. When we returned and we were within eye view of their house, but still far, we saw that same kid again. And once again, when we got closer, he was no where to be found. The cool thing was that we were able to put a baptismal date with the family there, and if we would have gone by later they would not have been home, because they were about to leave. It was a great experience. Olson and I call that kid "The Angel Kid" because he was the little angel that led us back to our great family.
I have had many ups and downs this week with a lot of things, and have learned a lot about the mission, other missionaries, and myself. It bugs me when elders here are only focused on numbers and could care less about the people. I love studying in Preach My Gospel, especially about Teach People, Not Lessons. I have really focused myself this week in improving my ability to connect better with the people here, and serving them. I really do love the mission and have been so blessed to be in Paraguay. I know that there is a reason I was called here, and I hope that I can magnify my calling and be the best missionary I can. Serving a mission is a great experience, and I am excited to see what happens.
Thanks for everything, love you guys. I love hearing from you all through the emails, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to write me it means so much. Pray for me and the people here!
-Elder Babcock

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winning the lottery


Hello all. How are you. This week has been good. On thursday we talked finnish for two whole hours in class, and we all understood most of it. So ya its pretty cool, but then i heard two of the teachers speaking to each other and i understood 1 out of every 50 words so that kind of brought me back to earth. haha. We are going to teach our first lesson in Finnish this week. Its pretty scary but awesome at the same time.

I have been getting a lot into four square this week. It is soo fun, anyone who is reading this and is planning on going on a mish i say to you now: play four square. it is boring at first but after a few goes it gets way intense. There is a rivalry between the Finns and the Argentines. haha its pretty funny. They live in our same building so we are always talking trash when we see them, haha.

There was a talk this week about complete obedience and how we need it to reach our full potential. And i agree that obedience is good and all that but the way he was saying it kinda bothered me. But then our second counsy was talking about it after and he said make sure not to let the pendulum swing the other way, it is important to keep your personality and not completely deny yourself. And i thought he was spot on, we need to find the balance between not being selfish but still watching out for ourselves.

The days here are long and i am always tired. I sometimes get in moods where i just do not want to be here. but they do not occur very often anymore. I have already been here 4 weeks and so when i start getting annoyed i just keep telling myself: 8 more weeks til Finland. 8 more weeks til Finland... and it usually goes away. Finland will be hard, but the adventure of being there will make up for a lot of the hard stuff.

I got the families package (and kates). Thanks it was awesome. Getting mail is like winning the lottery, but getting a package is like winning the lottery twice. Everyone here loves their posti. I also got dads usual valentine which is always sweet. Thanks.

All in all. Everything is good here. Companionship is getting along, were teaching well, were learning. I am reading the BOM like a mad man. we have a goal for 18 pgs a day which takes me forever but i am really liking it. The Finnish is slowly coming as well.

But thanks for the letters and dear elders, I love them (*refer back to the lottery comment)

Kittos. Love you all.

John Merkley

Monday, February 14, 2011


Hola como estan? Estoy aqui en Mexico! After a fairly long morning and a few plane rides I made it! It's pretty sweet here, had some snacks with the President, he's super great. But yeah I made it and it looks like I'll meet my trainer mañana and yeah so its all good! It's weird everyone speeks spanish here, kinda interesting... oh well haha love you so much and I'll write you on my pday which I dont know when is. love you soo much!

Phone calls & Flights

Shaun called home on Friday and gave us the message that he is actually leaving for Mexico on Monday. The phone call was short and sweet but stated he would be leaving SLC at 6:00 am on Monday. So today, (Monday) around 5:00 am, through the miracle of 3-way calling (twice), we were able to get all of Shaun's siblings & parents on the phone at one time and visit for a while. We spoke of excitement, nervousness, anticipation, sadness that he couldn't say a proper goodbye to John at the MTC, and exhiliration that he will actually be on Mexican soil later today.

Then around 10 Am today, surprise phone call came from Shaun while he was laid over in Dallas. The Lord works in mysterious ways and today was no different. Shaun's traveling companion's mother just happened to be in Dallas visiting her daughter when the 2 missionaries were scheduled to fly to Mexico. So mother & daughter came to the airport to see her son during the layover. She allowed Shaun to call home as well as send a parting photo of the 2 companions. Much gratitude for this mother to allow this to happen - there's no doubt in my mind that angels are among us. What a payday for a parent to see this...

Some pictures for you...

Hermana and President Madariaga, Me, and Elder Olson @ Zone Conference.

Eating Chupa Chupas (popsicle thing)

Cleaning the house in my new Henry France jersey that cost 10 US dollars, awesome jersey.

At the Bishop's Storehouse.

At the baptism of Romina- in front of the capilla.

Bugs, Blisters, and Baptisms...

Monday, February 14, 2011

¡Hola a todos!

This last week was great and very eventful. Saturday night we had a baptism of maybe the greatest person I have met in Paraguay so far. Her name is Romina. She is 9 years old, and comes from a very inactive family. Its been a great experience working with her and her family, and we have started to reactivate the family because of the faith and strength of their 9 year old daughter. She is hilarious. It was a really special night with the baptism. I was able to give the talk at the service about baptism, and my comp baptized her. Overall, it was a beautiful night, even though preparing everything for baptisms is surprisingly hectic.
In my spare time, which is practically the 20 minutes before I go to bed, I wrote a rendition of "Come, Come Ye Saints" on guitar. I love that song soo much (maybe my favorite hymn) and so that was one of the highlights of this week, my comp and i are planning on performing it sometime, because he is really good at singing.
We had zone conference in Asunción this was awesome. I got to see Colligan, Miner, and Richins who were in my district in the MTC. Also, we heard from President Madariaga, and learned about how we can be better missionaries through obedience. I know that obedience is vital in the success of a mission, so it was great to hear and learn about that. At the end of the conference they did a testimony meeting, where anyone of the 50ish missionaries could go up and talk. I felt like I should share something so I went up and bore my testimony in Spanish. it was a pretty neat experience, a very strong spirit was there in that meeting. After I talked to the President for a while and he gave me some great compliments on Spanish and everything, so that was a really great day, one of the best so far here. The language is really hard, but I love it and am working hard so I can improve and grow more. Spanish is cool, Guarani is really awesome too. I am pretty dedicated to learning both, so we will see what happens.
The bugs here are huge and crazy. I have pretty much been eaten alive this last week, tons of mosquitos here because it will rain super hard in the morning, then the sun comes so its a living sauna. My legs even get bit through my pants...Its frustrating too because I have the worst blister on my pinky toe...I named it "Two Face" because one side is perfectly fine and healthy, and the other looks like a wrinkly, pink, raw pinto bean. I´m sure you all didn´t want that image into your mind, but I thought I´d share my pain.
I can´t even express how much I am loving my area in Mora Cue (Bella Vista A). We have one of the highest assistencias (people going to church), if not the highest in all of paraguay. A few weeks ago we had 211 people at church...most others are lucky to get 50. The members are incredible too, I already have so many "moms" here, they call me their son and treat me like a son too. I love the support from the ward, they are great examples and are always willing to help us out in every way. I am so thankful I was able to start in this area, I couldn´t have asked for anything better.
I love Paraguay, the mission, the opportunity to serve the Lord, my family, friends, the people here, the gospel, everything. I can´t say enough about it here, besides that I love it and love being a representative of Christ. Sometimes its so hard and I am so tired, but I can honestly say I love it and wouldn´t trade this experience for anything.
Thanks for the support from home, from the friends. I love you and miss you all so much. Keep praying for me and the people. Keep in touch! Jayjotupata/Nos Vemos/See ya later!
Elder Babcock

Friday, February 11, 2011

Normal Week in the MTC

NOT! this week has been the ultimate craziest week of the whole mtc. and that is the best part... its going to be my last week in the mtc! So where am i going? on Monday we were informed that all the people going to Mexico and Brazil (about 120 missionaries) were getting reassigned and the papers for reassignment were turned in on Sunday and we would know where we were going on Wednesday. So of course really antsy for the first few days of the week. So Wednesday came around, and i couldn't concentrate at all, its like getting a new mission call! super exiting, i figured i was going to be teaching real people wherever i go but in my heart hoped it was somewhere super danky. Anyway i was getting my hair cut on Wednesday expecting to leave late next week and something happened. The zone leaders from my district, and all of the others in my district came to the hair cutting place and said "Elder Rhodes! They just called you in our classroom and you need to report at the travel office tomorrow at one to go to Salt Lake Mexican consulate and sign for your visa! Wow that was crazy, and definitely unexpected! I had expected to be here a few extra weeks and have more time to study. First i felt really exited that i was going to go to Mexico, but then i remembered they speak Spanish in Mexico.... So i kinda feel like my Spanish could be a lil better, but that is what is going to make Mexico such an adventure! Then i felt sad, because i was the only one in our district to get my visa to Mexico and i wish they could all come with me. They didn't get their reassignments Wednesday which was a bummer. So on Thursday i went down to the consulate (it is great to see our mountains and everything that reminds me of home) with six other elders going to Mexico. Turns out out of one hundred and twenty missionaries going to Mexico/Brazil only six got their visas on time....? Anyway I'm super exited to be immersed in the language and culture. So i asked the girl when she thinks we will be leaving and she said she is going to find a flight for Monday... that is soooooo soon!!!!!!!! if not than Tuesday or Wednesday, i get my flight plans tonight so expect about a five minute phone call to tell you when I'm going. So about the rest of my district, plans came in Thursday midday and four left this morning (the day after they got their was super hectic for packing and everything) to Fresno California. Our district is already split up, i didn't think it was going to be so soon. we had our own hasta ver where everyone sings god be with you till we meet again in Spanish... i never though this was going to be soo soon. It was crazy good, they left this morning and two leave with me Monday one to Arizona and one to Californian long beach. one Wednesday to Los Angeles and one Thursday to Colorado springs. Anyway it has just been a crazy week and i have been packing and stuff like crazy hoping for my bags to make weight. Anyway I'm not sure how to do pouch mail or anything like that, and I'm not exactly sure what my address will be in Mexico. nor do i know how to send stuff from Mexico to the united states... this is going to be a crazy experience. I'm so exited to be able to go to Mexico and so exited that i will be surrounded by the Mexican culture and by the language. I'm soo nervous but at the same time i think if i just take everything with a smile and when they are making fun of me just say "Lo siento no hablo espanol bien, pero... yo se que estas cosas son verdaderas y estoy aqui para compartir una mensaje que me he bendicido mucho. Y espero que sienta mi amor por mi salvador y quiero que escuchan al mejor cosa en la tierra, el evangelio de jesucristo." Hopefully they can feel the love and the gratitude i have for the gospel in my life. i am so exited to serve and next e-mail ill let you know how Mexico is! with love, your friend

-Elder Rhodes

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Get a Gold Star

How are you all. I am doing well and I say that every week but I dont know what else to say... It is like back when i was in school and i would come home and mom would always say "how was your day'... I would think about my day and literally tell no difference from that day and all the other useless boring days at high school. Thats how it is here except not useless, and sometimes not boring. I have only been here 3 weeks and already my days are beginning to mesh into one long day with not a whole lot of difference between them. People ask me how long i have been there and I have to really think of the answer. You do the same schedule every day so when you think back on the days, you get everything mixed up.

But basically i am studying finnish a lot. It is a ridiculous language. every lesson we have blows my mind away, but i keep trying to understand and by the end i can usually barely grasp the concept. And then the next day the mind blowing process continues. It is really tiring, but i can really tell that it is stretching my mind and I am learning a lot.

Vanhin Jarvis was moved into our district this week. He is the one that was in Missy and Bens ward back in Finland, and he can speak it fluently. It is fun to have him around because he teaches us the words the teachers wont haha cool=siistii and he helps with pronunciation. It is kind of discouraging sometimes because it makes you realize how long we have to go until we can even kind of speak, but overall he is very helpful and a really nice guy.

I see shauny boy every once in a while. It is cool to talk to a familiar face... He is doing good and is getting stoked to leave. I would be too.

Oh and we are teaching a lot nowadays. It feels kinda weird teaching. I have learned a lot about my style of teaching. I think a good missionary needs to be balanced in knowing the scriptures well and the whole doctrinal side of things but also be able to relate and share the emotional and real side of things. Right now I do not really have the doctrinal side of things down as good as i should. I was never the kid in seminary who loved to memorize the scriptures they told us to so i could get a gold star. I was more of the kid who sat in the back and made fun of the kids who were crazy about the gold stars. but i wish i would have tried a little more. It would be really useful, cuz i hate having a perfect scripture in my head for that moment but not being able to find it. So all you seminary people out there, learn your stuff.

Ok thats about it. Keep the Letters coming. I really love them. I miss and love you all.

hei hei

vanhin Mergley

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another great week in Paraguay...

Monday, February 7, 2011

guepa! (guaraní for hola)

It has been a pretty great week here in Mora Cue, Paraguay. The weather has been really inconsistent, we´ve had some bad heat recently. Its not the temperature so much, but the humidity. Also, I experienced the heaviest rain in my whole entire life Friday night, it flooded the dirt roads really badly and made the trek home from the other side of the area crazy. The next day it rained until midday, and then the sun came out and made Paraguay an outdoor sauna. Crazy stuff.

The language is coming along better this week than before, I have noticed some progress. Sometimes I am having full conversations with people and feeling great, other times I feel like I forgot everything, it has its ups and downs, but thats part of the growing process and I am hoping to shorten it as best as I can. One of the members last night told me that I spoke great, and thought I´d been here a long time, so that was nice to hear. However, I´ve still got a long way to go.

What I´ve grown to love more than anything else here so far is the people. 95% of them let us in at any time of the day to talk. They are so open, but have a hard time with commitments. It can be frustrating, but the times when they follow through are awesome. We have a huge ward in Bella Vista, possibly the biggest in Paraguay. Last Sunday, we had 211 people at church...they are awesome and love giving us references and helping us out. I love the members and really enjoy working with them.

On the other side, I have not particularly enjoyed what the missionaries here call "Snakes", which are the Paraguayan young women that love american young men and will do or say anything for us to give them attention. They call them snakes for many reasons, one interesting one is because instead of whistling like they would do in the US, they make this hissing noise. Or they will say stuff like "Que Lindo" (how pretty) when we walk by...It´s ridiculous. Its funny because my comp. and I go out of our way to make sure they all know we are not at all interested and put our heads down and ignore them. One member young women told me "tienes la cada de un santo" (you have the face of a saint) which made me laugh because I actually understood it and my comp couldn´t stop laughing.

I´ve been able to kick the soccer ball around a little here which has been awesome. Some kids were playing in the park and kicked a ball over by us. Since I play soccer my comp told me to drop kick it really high back, because it would impress all of them. So, following the advice of my trainer, I kicked it as hard as I could, and absolutely shanked the ball way off and looked like a complete idiot. They all laughed and were calling me "Messi" making fun of me. Being my prideful self, I had to redeem myself and brake the typical American stereotype that we can´t play soccer. So, I asked if I could see the ball again, and they were still laughing and stuff. So I did all my best juggling tricks for was hilarious because they all got really embarrassed and wouldn´t do any tricks in front of me and would just pass it back to me when I´d ask them to try. I was glad I somewhat was able to redeem myself, and so I took that opportunity to contact all the teenagers there and invited them to church and to play soccer at the capilla every wed. and fri. I call that a double success.

It is very depressing to see how poor the people are here. On the other hand, it is rewarding when we are able to do service and help out. We went to the Almacen del Obispo (bishop´s storehouse) and spent our whole morning there helping with all the food and organization. That's one of the best parts of being a missionary, just being able to help. I have gained a new appreciation for service. You can always open a door through helping others, and so far it has been true. Just by offering help to random people here and there, we´ve found investigators in need. My challenge to those at home is to go out and help someone in need. It doesn´t have to be anything huge, just simple kind words and actions can make a big difference in someone´s life.

Thanks for everything from home, I love hearing emails about people from home. Pray for me and the people here. Stay in touch.

Con Amor,
Elder Babcock.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

This week was good. It went by really fast.


my week has been pretty normal. Everyday seems the same, we wake up, im tired, study, still tired, eat breakfast, still tired, class lunch class (tired throughout) then dinner, then spiritual devotional or something... I am always tired though... I dont know why. i think i will eventually get into more of a time routine that will make me not as tired. With that schedule you are probably thinking "wow that sucks, he probably is hating his life hardcore right now" but the truth is it is pretty fun here. My district is great and way fun. Me and elder pope invented this awesome game called planner shootout... two young men take three steps away from each other, someone says go and then you turn and have to pull your planner out of your little pocket and throw it at the other person... we are getting pretty good. We also all made these drinks at lunch and named them after jersey shore members....(for those of you who do not know what this is, it is a ridiculously mind numming tv show) but we made eight drink combos and then on tue had the "jersey shore challenge" which is you have to drink all eight and then hold it for two hours. The snooki was soo nasty. OJ and milk and a mix of everything else. But me and three others completed it and now we get to sign our name in this book... We invented this challeng and hope to inspire future finns down the road to strive for completion. We will pass the book down thru the ages.This all sounds really dumb, and it is. But the mtc is so much studying and work that you need something really stupid to even everything out...

The language is coming. The grammer is hard but finnish is really a smart language. Once you learn the rules it is like a math equation.

The church thing is coming too. I still have a lot of questions about stuff but feel overall pretty good most of the days. And finallly the moment youve all been waiting for............... my scripture (for the ward plaque!!) its in mathew, towards the beginning and says something along the lines of "for what does a man profiteth if he shall gain the whole world but lose his own soul" that one really speaks to me... I love it. pure poetry

Companionship is good too. I get a little annoyed every once and a while, but overall nothing to big.

The food is getting to me....

Thanks for all the letters and support. I miss everyone soo bad. I love to hear from all of you, even the short little paragraphs are great. To those who want to: i really miss normal funny stuff. Like a good simpsons quote or something... So feel free to add that if you want to

Much love yo

Vanhin Merkley