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