Sunday, April 29, 2012

Turku and longer hair than mine

Turku is a really great city. It is fun to be back to a fast city with a lot going on. It has a really good vibe here and it will be a cool spring and summer city. We use buses here and have been pretty busy this week. My companion is an awesome guy.  His name is Vanhin Hoggard. He is from Utah. He has been in Finland for about 6 months. He has traveled a lot and knows a lot about historical stuff. He is the first companion who actually had longer hair than I did. To describe it, he played Hook in a high school play and didn’t need a wig. He is extremely positive and uses really great describing words like extraordinary and scrumptious and splendid. He also has a good sense of humor and is really great at telling stories. He also has traveled a lot and wants to become a doctor and work in Africa. He is a great guy and we have really gotten a long well. 

We have been busy this week and I have just sort of followed because I still don’t know the bus system or anything. We don’t have any investigators with a baptismal date, but we have a few who believe in the Book of Mormon but just have a few minor issues that need some solving. I have only met a few members from the ward but they have all been really nice and excited about missionary work.

District Meeting was this week and it was here in Turku. The district is great and we have a lot of cool missionaries. We played sähly in the morning, which is like hockey with shoes on, and that’s always fun. Then District Meeting. And then after we made potatoes. It was, um, fun.

We also headed out to Tampere and had Stake Conference. It was fun to see a lot of the missionaries who I had not seen in a long time.

Love you all, be safe and have a good week.

Vanhin Merkley

Weekly Update

Wow. I don’t have too much time. I think I always say that. Ha-ha This week was fabulous. Three investigators came that have their baptismal date for the 13th of May… I’ll keep ya posted. My companion and I are just loving our time together and just havin’ a hoot. We have sixteen missionaries in our zone and usually it’s not such a big responsibility to have a lot of elders, but newly in our mission we have been reporting our data and experiences from every day with our leaders… so we really have no time in the night to have personal time. We train missionaries every Monday in our zone and go on exchanges like once or twice a week with the assistants or people in our zone. We are in charge of zone conferences and also teach, not sure if it’s going to be our turn this next zone conference but there is one fact... absolutely no time hehe... I think that’s just the way missionary work is. We had the opportunity to listen to and to shake hands with Elder Bednar and he helped us a lot in our understanding of how to teach. He did it teaching us using a “pattern” he didn’t just sit down and teach… but facilitated a way to learn by the spirit. It helped us to be our propio (own) agents and not just to be an object… taught. It was pretty awesome and I just don’t have time to tell you how much I learned.
I have no idea where to find the time. I’m excited for the call; I’ll let you know how it’s going to go down. I love you and hope the best for everything.

Elder Rhodes

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Goodness

I can’t say anything more than I am just loving missionary work. There is a lot to say and not too much time like it always goes... but I’ll tell you a little about my companion. His name is Bryan Fowler from the South Cottonwood stake. And lives right behind Cottonwood high school. He is really awesome and I just have to say that the missionary manual says that we need to be in our beds by 10:30. We are perfectly obedient, but getting to sleep is a little hard talking so much. He is really awesome and we connect like crazy. I made the joke that "President Walker must have looked on Monster to match our compatibility." He loves skiing, he got like 38 days the year I got 88 at snowbird and he road bikes as well. He loves rock climbing and he worked at the Mayan as a diver and I just can’t say enough good about him. I feel like he helps me to be better and I am also helping him to understand more about the gospel and trying to strengthen ourselves together. He went to BYU for like a year and has only one transfer more than I do. I’m crazy excited and happy.

I didn’t have the opportunity to say bye to Hna. Juana because she was in Mexico, but I’m going to see her before I leave here and she told me she was going to look me down. She also gives the “get used to the world classes” to the missionaries and I know I’m going to see her again. Anyway something really spiritual happened last week. Monday were the transfers, and in the night the complete family that we were teaching called us to just say hi. They were still in Puebla, but they loved the church so much that they went to church in Puebla, and took their whole family and now the missionaries are visiting their whole family. They thanked me for everything I had taught them and told me I would always be in their hearts. They will be baptized this Sunday with the elders that went to our area. I feel blessed to have been part of them, and who knows maybe their families conversion.

Anyway were working really hard to have people that will be able to progress in this area and I’m loving being able to help other missionaries grow in spirit and in strength. I feel the spirit so strongly when we are teaching. I really am loving the mission and can’t say enough about how happy and excited I am, to be a missionary and cause tomorrow morning we are going to listen to Elder Bednar. I can’t think of something better to be doing here. I love it. I’m just happy.

Elder Rhodes

Friday, April 20, 2012

Baptisms, thoughts on the Atonement

Hello to all!
Well, Happy Easter! (I know, a little late). I sure had a great weekend, and have learned many new things, one of which being more about the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I will talk about that later.
On Friday, we hosted a Stake Fireside, which included the visit of President and Hermana Madariaga (Mission President and wife). They talked about the family, and help us all understand the blessings that the gospel brings to the family. After the fireside, we held the baptismal service. It has been great to see their family come back to the church, and to see how happy their mom was. Yes, they are still pretty wild and are working on behaving themselves better, especially at church, but they have come a long way, and I am excited to see the Holy Ghost begin to work within them and in their lives.
So I came in contact with the missionaries out in my old area, and when I was there we were teaching an awesome guy. So turns out, HE GOT BAPTIZED! And not only baptized, but baptized by his best friend, who I baptized! I was so excited to hear that things are going well there, and that there is so much power in recent converts to the church. It makes me so happy to see a repentant soul enter into the baptismal covenant, and enter into the waters of baptism. It was something that I quite frankly did not understand before the mission (the importance of baptism), and it took a while into the mission to understand the sheer necessity of baptism, to enter into the kingdom of God, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, receive a remission of sins, receive a peace of conscious, renovate covenants through the sacrament, become a member of the true, restored church of Christ, be able to enter in the temple, etc. For all you that were baptized at 8, do not forget that promise you made, and all the blessings and privileges you have received for doing so, and that your parents helped you make that decision! Baptism is just great.
Things are going well. Good old Dave Matthews said, "We´ll make the best of what´s around¨", and even though our area isn´t on fire right now, I am trying to take that advice and really make the best of what I have.
I was chosen to speak in church yesterday, and my topic was the biggest topic/event in all the great Plan of Salvation: The Atonement. I came across a talk about it this last week that really opened my view on the Atonement. It is interesting that when Christ completed with the Atonement, taking upon Himself the pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, sins, and eventually death, He really did it all for the intention of saving all of our souls from that same torment. That's Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19. That's Alma 7:10-16. One of the most worldly and untrue doctrines that we run into here, and I'm sure in the whole world, is that Christ's suffering brought salvation unto ALL men, without ANY effort at all on man´s part. I was pondering much in Alma 34:9-16. In verse 15, it explains clearly that His Atonement brings salvation unto all those who believe in His name, and by believing, taking that belief and repenting of all their sins. Christ suffered so that we may be able to believe in Him and repent of our sins. In turn, we gain access to the divine mercy that He so willingly and completely offers us. He pleads with us to complete with the requirements. And if we do, we will not have to suffer as He already has. But if we so foolishly choose to not believe in Him, and not repent, then, using our free agency, we choose to suffer, even as He did, and let justice take its claim. I, in a moment of what could be called revelation, came to understand more fully the love that God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ really do have for us. Don't you ever think, nor say, nor imply, nor joke that They do not love you. Think for one moment about Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Think of God, the Father there, watching that terrible, terrible suffering all happen. Think of Christ on the cross. Think of how awful the whole scene truly was. It was terrible, it was unbearable, it caused the entire world to shake, storms formed, blackness covered the world, even in the Americas. Do you honestly thing that Christ would have done all of that, if He did not love us? No! He really does love you, and He really does love me. He understood the need of the Atonement. He also had the agency to not do it, but He did it! Because He wants us to be with Him and His Father again. I really do "stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me." I am thankful for the mission. For the life of the Savior. For the perfect Plan of Salvation. For God and his infinite love and knowledge. I am thankful that I can work hard everyday, and serve the Lord, and show my thankfulness for His sacrifice, that brought us all to be able to resurrect, and, if we repent and follow Him, to be able to be perfected through Him.
Love you all, pray for me and the people here!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Gray Hairs, and Temple Prep

Hello to all!
What a special weekend it always is to hear from Prophets, Seers, and Revelators of the Lord! It always hits me with a little "homesickness" when I remember all the great moments as a family watching General Conference (with Dad strategically placing the "Picture-In-Picture" in the corner with sporting events) ha ha love ya Dad! But when the homesickness comes, in comes Elder Holland to get me back and ready to work, what a talk! I loved them all, and when the Internet rule isn't 1 hour per week, I will expound more on my conference notes ha ha.
We had a special training meeting with the mission president this week. He came and talked about the big struggles we are having as a mission, and basically opened it up to all of us to express our ideas. I shared some thoughts, it was a productive meeting. He then shared a story of a man who was challenged to do a "40 day fast" in his mission of all the things that impeded him from having the Spirit with us. So as a mission, for the next 40 days, we made personal lists of those things holding us back from having the Spirit, and covenanted with the Lord to refrain from them. I know that I, and us as a mission, will see the many miracles from dedicating myself more to the work, and being a more spiritual disciple of the Lord.
Fun note, I plucked out a gray hair from my you could call me old now, eh?
I did a division this week with a great missionary named Elder Pearson. We went to my old area from about 9 months ago, and had an incredible day. The Spirit was so strongly with us all day, and we saw many miracles in our teaching and finding. We were out with a member doing visits, and we were going to take a shortcut to the next visit, but I just said "lets go the long way". We were walking, and the member said, "hey, my sister lives down here" so we changed plans and went to visit her and her husband. We got there, not knowing before hand what to do, but the husband was there so we went in and started sharing. They were a couple that was preparing to enter in the temple when I was there, and for unknown reasons, they had slowed their preparation and had fallen less-active. After singing and saying a prayer, I felt the distinct impression to share about the temple, specifically Temple Marriage. We read in Doctrine and Covenants 131, and it was very effective. After I concluded with the prayer, I looked up to see the husband with tears in his eyes. The Spirit came into the room almost tangibly. He, through tears and sobs, shared that this morning his alarm hadn't gone off for him to go to work, so he slept in and was too late to go, so he stayed home. He said that it was their anniversary, and had prayed that the Lord would send them some sort of "gift", something to help them out. And then, that afternoon, when we came, (and by the way, missionaries had not been there for at least 2 months) he knew that the Lord had sent us. They recommitted to prepare for the temple, and to talk to the Stake President at Stake Conference. We left that visit feeling better than ever. There really is a joy in missionary work that you only can feel by experimenting it!
This story doesn't end. Yesterday at conference, between sessions, I saw 2 smiling young faces as the couple walked in to have their interview with the Stake President. They thanked us for all we had done to help. I know that families can be together forever, and it is a privilege to help the Lord achieve His work and His glory :"To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man".
Its a great blessing to serve a mission. Keep me, and my companion, and the people here in your prayers, we could really use it!
Love you all!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Become like family to me


This Easter was fun. We went on splits in Oulu which is on the west side of Finland. And I went with my good mtc friend Vanhin Carr. I keep thinking back about how lucky I was in the MTC to have such a cool group. They really have become like family to me. We had a good splits. For one of the families we brought Easter eggs and had a Easter egg hunt. It was so funny because their family was super young but the exact same size as ours. They even had 4 girls and 2 boys. We were cracking up watching them all run around looking for the eggs. The younger ones kept tripping in the snow because they were so excited. And it was good to see the nice older siblings helping the younger ones so that everyone could find an egg.

We got back from the 6 train and then the next day went down to Helsinki for a meeting. It was really good and I saw a bunch of good mission buddies. As I am getting older in the mission I’m starting to get to more and more people and so the big meetings with everyone just keep getting more and more fun. There are so many great people I have met and that has been one of the greatest benefits of being on a mission. It gets sad when the older ones go home because it really starts to feel like one big family. It’s really sweet. The meeting was really good and we learned a lot about teaching which we are pumped to do this week.

Love you all. Stay cool and have fun and stuff.

Vanhin Merkley

Friday, April 13, 2012

Baptism Day

Hello Family,

Greetings from.... La Hacienda! We got changes yesterday and it turns out I will stay here this change. However, my companion Elder Stradling already left for gelagetza today at 12. So right now I am with the other companionship that lives in the house waiting until my companion Elder Caudillo arrives around 10 PM. I know nothing about him yet, but I am really excited to meet him. Judging by his name though he is either from Mexico or some other spanish speaking country down here.
The week was pretty normal. Although, we did kind of have one baptism. It was Rafael, I think I told you about him. We started teaching him, but he lives outside the area and so we passed him to other missionaries, and he got baptized in their ward but is now living in our ward because his family kicked him out. He is really awesome and I know will be strong in the gospel. We were able to go to his baptism and I was able to take part in his confirmation. And he gave me a sweet tie haha. We continue working with Alfredo. He is progressing slowly, but progressing. He wants his family to take part in the lessons too and so hopefully they will accept listening to us and have as much excitement as he has. The good thing about people here in Mexico is that almost all will listen. The hard part is finding people who will act.

We are also working with a less active woman named Fatima. She was baptized a few years ago but has not bee nable to go because of her job. But she recently started going more and has invited us over to paint her house, have dinner, and we recently had a family home evening. She is really awesome and her son and mom are not members, and so we are working a little with them. But really our main focus will be Alfredo and his family. And it will also depend on how my new companion likes to work. All missionaries have a little different way of working. I am really excited for him to get here though and start the change. There is lots of work to be done here, and we will also be focusing this change on strengthening and uniting the members.

Last night we were at a members house (the members house where Rafael is living right now) and it started pouring rain. And so, trapped in the house, they invited us to dinner, and we had some chicken tortas (tortas are basically like sandwches but a little better) with hot chocolate haha. THeir hot chocolate here is really good, in fact I will try to send you some. Im thinking about getting a package together this change to send home. Any requests?
I love you guys. Your prayers and support sustain me often. I know that Christ lives and has completed all that His Father wanted Him to complete. Im so grateful to have this church restored in our days. I learn so much from it and will be forever grateful for all who have sacrificed so that I could have it in my life. Every sunday (every day, but especially Sunday) I learn so much. I feel so much the desire to be better. I know that by little decisions and little changes for the better, our lives can be blessed eternally. I love you all. Thank you!!! Let me know if there is anything you need from me.

Love, Elder Millet

Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Oaxaca

Hola Familia,

Buenas tardes de Oaxaca. Thank you for your email and that is a great picture of Shteve and Emerson. This week was good. We are now passing through what they call here Semana Santa (Holy week). There are all kinds of traditions and events going on. One of the most common is that people put giant tents out in the street and have a little altar to Jesus. They gather there and chat and I imagine that the more devoted ones pray and go to learn. There must be all kinds of things going out in the Isthmo, but here in the city it is a little more low key. Its very interesting being a missionary here, because 99.9% of the people already believe in Christ and God. Although their perceptions of them may be unknown or uncomplete, they do have at least some faith. It is hard for me to recall, because I really never paid too much attention (belief wise) outside of memebers in the states... but are there many who are believers in utah outside of members? Yesterday we just had a normal day. In church every class was based around the Atonement which was really cool. Then we had a really good lunch and visited a few people.

The week was good, a bit slow because of Semana Santa. Almost everyone is off of work and schools are all out until the 16th, and so a large portion is out on vacations and those who arent are at home having their fiestas. Needless to say it has been a bit hard to find people, but this week will be better. We had some of the young men of the ward go with us this week and it was really great to see their willingness. I remember I almost never saw the missionaries at home. Its great to be able to have that support here.
Today we went to the Centro to buy some ties and a guitar for one of the other missionaries. They have really nice ties here for about 3 bucks, and I bought 2. I also bought a capo for my little guitar and some guitar picks. While we were down there we saw this pretty tall white girl and she was standing next to a Oaxacan woman. I wanted to get a picture so bad to show the contrast haha it was really funny. The white girl was towering over the Oaxacan. There are lots of good things going on here and I am enjoying my time. My companion is Elder Caudillo and he is from Chetumal Chitanarro (not exactly sure on spelling) It is the state where Cuncan is. He lives about 3 hours away from it. Right now I am district leader and we are a district of 6. Its great I really like it. The members are awesome. They help us in what they can and always support us. We plan on having an activity of a war between the lamanites and nephites this Saturday so that should be fun and help us to be more united as a ward (and hopefully investigators)
This week I have been thinking a little bit about conference and the things that were said there. I am anxious to be able to act on those things and hope that chaui chaui (little by little in zapoteco- a dialect here) I can make those changes that I know I need to make. I have realized that change is hard but I love the opportunity and process of it. I love this church. I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Prayer is real. I know that the Plan of Salvation is for every single one of us and that we are in such a crucial part of that Plan. How lucky we are to have what we have, and to really know the purpose of this life and especially the importance of families. I love you family, thank you for your example of faithfulness, love, and support. Hasta la otra semana.

Elder Millet

Remembering a Year Ago....

Another flying week in the Land of Miracles. I have passed a year by, and can't believe it.

We have been working with lots of new people who seem to be interested this week. We did some street contacting and have found some really cool people. We helped a girl fill up her water tub for washing clothes with water out of a giant well, and contacted her. She is really awesome and her sister also lives with her. We taught them about the Restauration of the Gospel and they understood really well. We left them 3 Nephi 11 to read and went back a few days later. We asked them if they read and they said yes and continued to explain it in really deep detail. I think they understood it better than I have understood haha. It was really a great feeling to have someone with the desire to learn and actually completing with their commitments. The only bummer is that they are out of town for 3 weeks in vacations...

Also we have another investigator, Alfredo (the one I told you about with the really great mustache) who is progressing. He went to the priesthood session of conference with us and both on Sunday. He is really awesome and we hope that his whole family will feel the same desire to learn as he feels.

Haha yeah I remember the festival of colors. Within a year I will be covered in chalk once again...

Our chapel that we attend to is the stakecenter of the Mitla stake and so we were able to watch all sessions of conference in our own chapel. And the 3 sessions on Saturday we were able to watch in english. It was really really awesome. There were some great talks and a great spirit was felt. Now we must go back over our notes, re watch it, and study the Liahona when it comes out, all the while having a spirit of prayer to be enlightened. We should all put goals according to what we feel, and like was said in conference, Act Now.

I felt very grateful during conference for everything that I have been given, but more than anything, for friends and family that love and support me. I feel your love. I hope you all know how much I look up to you and love you. Thanks for everything you do.


Elder Millet

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dog Bite

Hello to all!
Things are just "tranquilo-pa" here. Its super rainy and my feet are freezing, but all is well. I had a pretty great morning today, I will end with that at the end of the letter.
I am enjoying getting to know this new area. I did a division in a neighboring area, and we worked so hard all day but got rejected and rejected and rejected. Our very last visit, we clapped at a house, and a great 18 year old kid let us in, and accepted an invitation to be baptized. It was great to see that the Lord tries our patience and diligence, we just have to be obedient and have a good attitude about it!  We have a good little teaching pool right now. We had 4 investigators in church that all attended for their last time to technically be eligible for baptism, 3 are sons of a lady who was less active for a long time, but has been reactivating and they are all looking good. We are teaching a lady who has been really depressed and is trying to overcome Word of Wisdom addictions. We went by to visit her, and her neighbors said that she had moved, so that discouraged us a little bit, but we got in touch and turns out she hadn't moved. She went to church yesterday, and is also preparing, so that seems like it will be a great day. She has a lot of faith, not the faith that is believed or said, but actually put in practice! I was really proud of her desires to change by making it to church!
We are working hard, I am enjoying my new area a lot. My companion is going home in a few weeks.  He has a lot of great qualities that I am trying to acquire. I am trying to follow his steps and be a good leader like he is. Our zone is kind of struggling right now with progressing investigators towards baptism, but I hope to be able to help so that those weaknesses become strengths.
Funny story of the week has to go with a contact I did yesterday. A guy was sitting outside of his house up to nothing, and a big focus of our mission is finding future priesthood holders, so I decided to talk to him. We got talking, the normal conversation starters, when he starts talking bad about our temple in Asuncion, and that "we put it up there to show how rich the United States is, and that he hates all Americans". He said a lot of really bold and offensive stuff not only about Americans, but about God, religion, etc. Things went downhill fast, but we testified and tried to help. Sadly, he rejected us pretty good. So on our way out I am turning to walk away when his little yappy dog (kind of like Mia) jumps up and bites my calf haha. I just had to laugh the whole situation off and know that things would get better. Even though its important to talk to everyone, that contact went down as probably the worst contact ever.
This morning, since we are right next door to my first area and there is a member there that makes famous Guampas and Bombillas (cup and straw to drink Terere and Mate), we got permission to go there because my companion was looking to buy some. We clapped, and they recognized me quickly and all looked so happy. It was awesome to catch up with them, I realized that it had been about 9 months since I had seen them! They were feeling generous, they gifted me a really fancy Bombilla. They live right by a couple, who I had baptized back in July. So we clapped at their house, and I got to say hi to her for just a second, because he wasn't home. She said that they are doing fine, He is the Elders Quorum President (exciting huh!), and that they are preparing well to go to the temple in July-ish with me! I felt so happy to see that they were doing great, and still preparing well for the temple. I really love them and cannot wait for July time.
I am loving the mission. It has been flying by, and I have been trying to just catch all the good moments. I wanted to quickly share from 2 Nephi 32, I was reading in it this morning. I really like verses 3 and 5 that talk about how the Spirit tells us ALL the things we need to do. What a great promise! The Lord, in all his wisdom, has left us with such a powerful gift that will guide us always, as long as we are worthy and obey its promptings. I am especially thankful for the Holy Ghost and that at the age of 8 my parents taught me the importance of baptism by "water" and by "fire".
Thanks for all the support, keep us here in your prayers. Love you all!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Goodbye, hello

Hello to all!
It was quite the interesting week, full of joy, tears, love, goodbyes, hellos, and many many prayers. On Monday night we received the call from the Zone Leaders that I would be transferred to a new area, and that the other members of our district would be staying there.  They also advised me that I would be a Zone Leader. I had, and still continue to have, mixed feelings about it all, but I know the Lord plays a part in all of this, and that He knows what He wants here, I just need to be faithful and "go and do" like Nephi did.
So Tuesday was the long-awaited farewell day. We ran around trying to visit the many great people I had been around, literally running for the vast majority of it. I gave my last District Meeting, which was on The Doctrine of Christ, focusing on Charity. I really loved our district, and will miss being around them daily.
Things were going well, I was composed, until I had to say goodbye to ___. We had always had our struggles, but in the end, we really do love each other so much, and he said some of the greatest things anyone has ever said to me. I felt so much love for him, and we both ended up crying pretty bad. And even though I am not a "tough guy", more of a "skinny guy", I still don't usually cry, but I don't know what happened to me but I just purely lost it. He is a great guy, he even gifted me an Adidas Paraguay Jersey and its awesome.
Right after that, I went to the chapel and met up with ____.  I was crying as we were walking in. It was the hardest goodbye I have ever said to anyone here, and it really killed me. He also said some great things that really touched me, and he committed right there to prepare to serve a mission.
By the end of that one I was literally all cried out, I had no more tears with me. We proceeded to say goodbye to another family. They were really bummed, but I had prepared them a little better, so they were expecting a goodbye and were able to take it alright. We sang their favorite "God Be With You Till We Meet Again", which left on a great note. They committed as well to continue preparing for the temple, and I cant wait to see them there in November.
We visited another special family, who has changed so much since when I got there. I was expecting it to be a less formal goodbye, but they all started crying so bad, especially ___ who just got baptized, which made me cry. I love them so much, and am excited to hear from them about the changes they will continue to make.
___ and ___ picked us up to have a little dinner at their house. I gifted them sooo much, and they were so thankful. They gave me an awesome gift, that I will try to send in a picture ASAP, its a fish carved thing with their names on it, so pretty. I ended the night saying goodbye to another Family. I shared one last time a quick bit about Captain Moroni, and the dad lost it which also made me loose it. They were so grateful for everything, and I felt so grateful for being there to see so many great changes. I hurried to the terminal to catch my bus, and what do you know, all the gang of people that I had said goodbye to was there waiting for me.
I really love this area so much, and I know that because of the love that I put in, that same love times a million back at me. I put my heart in so much that I still haven't been able to get it all back, nor do I see it being replaced any time soon. It was a dream come true to be there, and I feel as if all of them are family members to me, and I truly do love them.
On Wednesday, I got to the office for changes to meet my new companion. One bad thing that happened was that my big luggage back got left in a taxi, and taken all over Paraguay, but eventually that night, after much stress, prayers, and coordination, we were able to retrieve my bag, with nothing stolen. I am in an area which is full of super fancy houses, cars, Spanish (not really any guarani, because everyone is super fancy), and members! We are planning a baptism for 2 weeks, hoping that some of our investigators will progress towards that day. Its been a big change, and to be honest, not one that I have been able to adjust quickly to, but I am trying my best to have the faith that the Lord is in charge, and knows more than me, and has placed me here to do His work, and not to long for the past, but to have faith. One of my favorite quotes is from a talk called "Remember Lots Wife" by Elder Holland, which says "faith always points to the future". I really am trying to show more faith, and know that even though I don't feel qualified to be a Zone Leader, "whom the Lord calls, he qualifies" (Pres.Monson), and that it will all work out. I am the youngest senior companion in all of my zone, yet am supposed to be the leader, which stresses me out, but I know I will be able to do it.
Amidst all the writing I have done in this email, the main point I would like all of you to take out of it is, that charity is the pure love of Christ. It is true love. It is pure, spotless, genuine, real love. It is learning to love someone like Jesus Christ loves them. It is doing what He would do in every situation. It is forgiving others and yourself. It is repentance. It is not being judgemental and harsh, but willing to learn more of them and serve them. It is true humility, submission to the Lords will. It is what He expects of all of us. It is what He expects of me and of you. For it is the pure love of Christ. I doubt that in my life, before being here, I had ever truly, purely, genuinely showed charity towards someone else. Sure, I have loved my family, friends, leaders, investigators, members, etc. But I really realized that I had never truly be able to express that charity before at any particular moment in my life. I feel like one of the biggest, if not the greatest thing I have learned on my mission is to be genuinely charitable. I am thankful for learning that lesson, and understand that the Lord has trusted much in me with that knowledge, and I hope to be able to continue to strive to show that charity towards all.
I love you all so much, thanks for the support, letters, prayers! Keep us here in them.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time to Face the Change

My district leader scared me a lot last night ha-ha. He called us with our changes and started with my companion and said... Elder Munoz va a Reynosa... And I was thinking not again... I’m staying here another three months. But instead I asked hesitating "And Me?" Tambien se va (your also going) ha-ha I’m exited for a number of reasons. 1 in ten days elder Bednar is coming and were going to be able to have an awesome experience. 2 I love changes, something that refines you. You can filter and treat the water in the hot tub for as long as you want, but there is nothing like taking all the water out and changing it. And 3 I’m really excited to be able to learn more cause I’m going to be junior companion... as a zone leader. I’m looking forward to learn as much as I can from my new companion Elder Frowler... I’m excited to work hard and learn lots. I’m going to the area Libertad, and am excited for a fresh start. My companion and I were talking and we’ve both seen improvements in ourselves and were going to keep improving, I’m glad to have had Elder Muñoz with me, he has been a great light. He explained to me that getting here in Mexico really downed him, that in Idaho he learned and had some interesting experiences, but with our time we have had together he has gotten back his excitement to teach and preach and do as missionaries do du dum da dum da. It’s a primary song if you didn’t catch onto it :) That was really a nice thing to hear. I hope I will be able to be an instrument in helping other missionaries and my new companion in bringing others unto Christ and having the excitement to serve. Thanks for your suggestions and help. This week we had some crazy rejections and opposition for the work. I’m really hoping that mercy of the lord will help each one of them in this or the following life to understand the truth. I’m going to stop by Hna Juana’s house tonight to tell her bye... I’m gonna miss the ward... Pray for my new experiences and growth opportunities.
Elder Rhodes

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

6 Good Months

We had a great working week, the biggest news is that a recent convert gave us an awesome reverence to visit his friend, and was perfectly prepared to receive the gospel. We contacted the reference, and had an awesome Atonement/Baptism lesson in Alma 7. The change was big, you could see it in his presence. He accepted the invitation to be baptized. Then on Thursday, he went to Ward Night and loved being around all the young men, who all turned out being friends. We watched "The Testaments", which FYI is the best movie ever, so spiritual. He loved it. On Saturday we went there to see how Moroni 10 turned out (we had marked it for him), and he said that he read, prayed, and received an answer from God that this is the right path. Sunday came around and he went to church, loved it, and is preparing for baptism. It has been awesome to see the power of having a recent convert, who has changed his life so much, bearing testimony to his best friend of the happiness he has received through repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. The real way that the church grows is through long lasting activity after baptism, and one of the best ways for a recent convert to stay active is by participating themselves in the conversion of others, preferably friends.
I have this weird thing that keeps happening to me and its really embarrassing. Whenever I look over and wave at people to be nice and friendly, I always trip/slip/slide/fall and make a fool of myself. I went to wave at a family, which of course happened to have a few young women in the family, when we were walking to the church yesterday, and I did my usual trip-on-a-rock thing and barely caught myself before almost falling all the way down to the ground. I just shrugged it off, until the neighbor yells out to us something in guarani that I didn't understand, and it made him laugh. I asked him what the guy said, and he said "you almost fell because you were trying to impress the girls over there!" Man it was embarrassing, but "a lo hecho, hecho está" and you just got to laugh it off, which I did.
We were teaching a Family, which has been a very special family for me here. We taught the Law of Chastity, and at the end of the lesson, I went one by one committing them to"guardar la ley de castitad" which means to keep the law of chastity. Well their sweet little 6 year old son was holding the pamphlet, so when I committed him to keep the law of chastity, he nodded his head and ran inside with the pamphlet. I was kind of confused. He came back out and said that he had kept the law of chastity (pamphlet) there hidden in his closet so that no one could take it from him, which made us all laugh really hard. We came back a few days later, and his mom said that he still is "keeping" the law of chastity well, and wont let anyone else get the pamphlet from him haha what a great little guy.
The work is going well here, I have loved my time here. I have been here over 6 months, and we are getting changes tonight. I don't know if I will leave or not, but I have fallen in love with this area and the great changes that have happened. It has been a privilege to have served here. I love the people I have been able to meet, especially my companion. He is the best son I could have ever asked for. I am so thankful for being able to serve the Lord for these 2 years, and for the rest of my life. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Luke which says, "once thou art converted, strengthen thy bretheren" and I feel like I have come to the position of being completely converted to the gospel, and so my call from here on out is to do what Peter did, and to feed sheep forever. I am thankful for all your letters, comments, thoughts, and prayers, keep us here in your prayers!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A 19 year old moment


Things are cool here. And by cool, I literally mean cool and not cold. The weather has been pretty dang sweet here and I am close to shedding the big winter coat. That will officially mean, no more cold. This week my bike tire popped and it just so happened to be that tomorrow was Sunday and so we couldn’t get in fixed. So, we did the only reasonable thing and threw our shame in the trash and doubled up on one bike. It’s a bit tricky with all the ice and people to dodge, but it is faster than walking and we are hoping that the tire situation will be resolved by today. There are so many funny circumstances out on a mission.

We also had a sweet district meeting this week. Do you all remember the army guy from the mtc? He is an Army Ranger and 10x cooler than all the other missionaries? Well, he is my district leader. We had a sweet discussion about not being robots and getting into routines. He said that when he was in Iraq they were in a zone where there was a lot of fighting, but it had moved and they were then on the "rebuilding" stage. But a lot of the hardened soldiers still had "fight mode" in their heads. They citizens were all really scared of them. So a leader came around and told them to stop being robots and start being personable with the people. He said once they did that, the whole mood changed. The people saw them as protection and were actually helping the soldiers by telling them about where some of the remaining terrorists where and when a bomb was planned to go off and stuff like that. Just the small change of becoming more personable and not robotic. I was just sitting there like "Wow... your are so much cooler than I. While I was a snot nosed kid in high school you were in Iraq learning life lessons and doing hardcore stuff." He is a really good guy and I’m glad to have him as a district leader.

After, we had a thing called District Olympics where we did random stuff like hands up stands up and arm wrestling. I actually got first, which I was surprised at because I usually suck at that kind of stuff. I got a Finnish shirt and a sweet coin. Pretty great District Meeting if you ask me.

We had a "young and dumb 19 year old" moment this week. We were going to church and we notice an odd amount of cars in the parking lot. We were still early and usually there are only a few cars at that time. Hm, weird. We go inside and the whole coat rack is full of coats. How strange. The whole ward was already seated and in the chapel. That’s odd. I peek in the door and see the 1st counselor smiling, almost laughing at us. We go and sit down and a few of the members turn around and give us the same smile. At this point I was scratching my head trying to figure out what the heck was going on. We start singing the song and I notice that we aren’t singing the first song posted on the board, but the last. And then it all came flooding back to me.... Oh ya, when spring comes, we are supposed to change the clocks. Usually I just rely on my parents to tell me when to change them, but with no parents around, it’s my responsibility to remember.... Aw crap!! We forgot to change the clocks and ended up missing sacrament. After the meeting all the member came up to us chuckling and made some sort of comment about us sleeping in. That’s the missionaries for ya, we may not always be responsible, but at least we are good for a laugh. Just another good lesson learned on my mission.

Love you guys. Have a good week.

Vanhin Merkley