Monday, June 25, 2012

Standing in Holy Places

First off Happy father’s day dad! I tried thinking of our father’s day tradition and thought of how dad would always by his father’s day present three week early and then on father’s day we just did normal stuff... maybe I’m completely wrong but I’m glad you had a stunner weekend. You deserve it. Yeah dad I get your letters. It’s great to read your writing. I swear like fifty times before I’ve written you saying that I receive them... but I’m sorry for not answering your questions. I guess I kind of forget them a lil. This time I got a really short letter just asking if I get your letters... if you wanted to know.

It’s very interesting that you ask standing in holy places (Rocky and I were preparing to speak in our Sacrament meeting and asked for Shaun’s thoughts). It’s pretty obvious as a missionary to see and feel the spirit present in many homes, and completely absent in others. I think besides the temple ANY place can be a holy place. I was commenting with Elder Fowler about how god cannot be in the presence of any unclean... imperfect... mortal... thing. Be it plant, animal, or man. Therefore as the fall of Adam brought the fall of all of these elements, the sacred grove, mount Sinai, and the appearance to Steven, not only had to have had change the bodies (transfiguration) but also of the plant and animal life. I just never really understood the sacredness of those sacred places.
Any place can be made sacred. With the correct thoughts, music, and actions, we can carry and form around us a small sacred grove to receive revelation and understand how our position can bless the lives of others when they enter into our presence. "Let your light so shine before men" "Proverbs 20.27 "Lampara de Jehovah es el espiritu del hombre." A lamp is what opens the path in front of us to not only us but those around us... and is literally the light of Jehovah. I think dad is right on buying a 5000 light powered spotlight he he :) and our light can grow... which is what is soo precious.
Those are just a few thoughts. I’m just going to share quickly what happened this morning. So we wake up and looked out to see our light bill on our gate... Went out and got it and saw that it was pretty expensive... like 45 dollars. Which is kind of a lot for missionaries. It’s usually around ten or twenty. So I was going to have to pay some from my own funds which I was fine with cause it went over the limit. Got home from paying the bill this morning and totally saw another light bill in our gate. I thought "what the?" I got it out and it was our address and it was only 3 dollars... I got kind of trippy pulled out the other light bill and saw it was for our neighbors he he. We had a very interesting and kind of weird conversation getting that all resolved.
This week Elder Tenorio came and we had a blast. He was telling a bunch of jokes and just had a wonderful growing opportunity. He taught us about having visions and having specific prayers. He related it to Marc 10:46 the blind beggar and showed that even blind men can have visions... just as this Jew, had listened to the Jewish prophet Isaiah prophecy that "the blinds eyes shall be open" and upon hearing that the savior was close cried out "Jesus! Son of David! Have Mercy on Me!" The others were probably like "shut up bartomeo, the savior is here" and throwing his cap aside (his past occupation of begging) was healed. He knew he would never have to go back to begging and his vision was fulfilled. I’m excited for the vision my mission and am glad for the visions that I have seen completed in my mission. There could be nothing better than having this knowledge and understanding of our savior. I love him.
The last thing that happened to us was that we were walking outside in the mid-day turning into roasted chickens when my companion ( I was actually on interchanges with Elder Holley (with whom I got here on the plane with)) said "let’s say a specific prayer" I just started saying, not even in prayer form "were going to stand on the corner and the next person that passes by is going to come with us to his house and let us teach him... when someone comes around the corner, we contact him and he lets us walk with him to his house to listen and talk openly. After my companion said "I know god has a sense of humor... he didn’t even let you finish your sentence" he he it’s just fun to be a missionary.
 Playing around with family history on our Preparation day! Were totally related by Elder Rhodes' 6th great grandfather William Fowler, and Elder Fowlers 8th Great Grandfather William Fowler... Pretty awesome eh? The spirit of Elias :) We love each other just that much more now... Enjoy   Elder Rhodes

The Work

I think this is one of the first times in my life where I’ve had a double blister. It reminded me of a video on YouTube where this crazy nature guy sees a double rainbow "all the way across the sky." It has been fun working in "the work" which is what they call the house constructing work. Cement, sand, gravel, shovel and chicken are all that’s needed for a good service project. We also took out a grill with a sledgehammer. It definitely feels great to leave a widows house heading home knowing that you’ve done some type of good. I love service. There really isn’t too much to say for what’s going on here. A lot of learning about how to deal with gossip and difficult ward situations... but I’m really enjoying learning a lot.  I learned maybe one of the craziest things I’d never thought I would have learned on the mission. It was with my companion that we figured out that evolution and Lucy´s skull and Neanderthals could not have existed on the earth before the fall of Adam. Because Adam brought death into the human... animal... and vegetate life. There could not have been death before. It still leaves some things unexplained but it definitely put stuff in another perspective for me. I would listen to the "seven deadly heresies" talk by Bruce r McConkie. It’s really great to learn and I’m excited for the future of learning. Love you lots

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baptism, Companions​hip Unity!

Hello to all!
This week had tons of notable moments, I am going to try to remember them all so that you can all hear about them. First and foremost, on Friday night we had a baptism, which was a pure miracle. The baptism went well, we had 4 investigators there, and they all left edified and are progressing towards baptism. I will return to that later.
We got to the chapel to start to bake our cake for the baptism. We turned on the oven, and went to mixing in the cake mix. Well when everything is all ready to go, we opened up the oven to see what was in there and we find a few stacks of napkins, a melted plastic bowl, and other random plastic things on fire. Luckily, my companion was quick on the job and stamped out the fire, while I was laughing. I could not help it, when things like that happen, my initial reaction is to laugh. All turned out well. The cake was delicious.
On Saturday afternoon we went by the house of a lady, who was a referral from a neighbor. When we were walking by, we saw that she was watering her plants. We clapped and without hesitation, she said, "pasen!" (aka come on in!) we sat out in front of her house, got to know her. She has been going through a really tough time...She has 2 older kids, her husband of 21 years ran away with a teenage girl about a year ago and left her with nothing, her business went bankrupt, etc. We read in 2 Nephi 9 about the Atonement, and then about what Christ expects of us. She accepted the invitation to be baptized. At the end of the lesson, she said that right before we had gotten there, she had been praying that God would send to her something to help her. And then, right after that prayer, we showed up! She, as well as us, recognized that the Lord heard her prayer, and answered it! She was not able to attend church, but we still have the faith that she will progress.
Last night, we went by the house of ____ to visit him, and to try to talk to his mom and other siblings about baptism. We talked about how families can be together forever. We then, coincidentally, read in 2 Nephi 9 and talked about repentance and baptism. His mom said that she, along with her other two children that are not members, want to be baptized...and not only baptized, but ASAP! It was pretty incredible. We are going to be working hard with them, and hopefully preparing a baptismal service for June.
It has been cool to see the Lord playing a hand in the work here. Our area is awesome! My companion, Elder Andreasen, is a great companion. We have been working really hard, sharing our thoughts, teaching with one voice, with the Spirit, and with power and authority. We also get along well and have a similar sense of humor. This morning I was reading in Alma 9 and 10, when Alma proclaims repentance to the people of Ammonihah. Then, Amulek goes in and testifies to what his companion had taught, and boldly expounds on repentance as well. The mission is so great when teaching is done in unity and with the Spirit, and I feel like even though we have not become as great as Alma and Amulek, we are trying our best. We are sure hoping to be together for a while, I really hope so. Thanks for everything from hope, feel free to throw me an email here and there, they are definitely appreciated. Keep us in your prayers.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Another nasty lunch, Miracle May

Hello to all!
All is well here! We had a week full of surprises, such as food, talking to the family, and baptism miracles.
First things first, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM! It was awesome to talk to you on Saturday (as well as the rest of the family), and to hear  Jake and Emily play the guitar and sing! They are so talented, I am excited to be a part of the "Babcock Band" when I get back. But them seem to be sounding just fine without Elder Babcock there. Given that it was my last phone call home, (time is flying!) we talked about the future South American trip this November, which will be an exciting way to finish my mission. But for now, I am focusing on the work, and when that day comes, it will be all the more special after 2 years of dedication and hard work. It was sad to say goodbye to the family and to hit the red button on Skype, but it had to be done. I am so grateful for the best mother in the world! I was beyond blessed to be sent into such a great family, with the anchor of that great family being the woman who keeps us all together. She is special. Not only does she cook the best food in the world, send the best letters ever, overwhelm me with packages, but she is just like the Savior in that she really does love others. The Young Women back in the ward sure do have the best President around. I love you mom, and am eternally grateful for always worrying for me, looking out for me, praying for me, writing me, and loving me unconditionally.
On the way here to the Internet Cafe, we were walking and saw 5 people all on the same motorcycle. Let me repeat, 2 wheels, 5 passengers...The motorcycle of Paraguay is the Mini-van of Utah! Gotta love it!
Also, I had an interesting lunch this week...Caldo Avá, which is "Man soup" here in Paraguay. We got there, and our lovely lunch appointment quickly turned into Fear Factor: Paraguay Edition. We saw him pull out of the pot what looked to be all sorts of inside parts of the cow...And that is surely what it turned out to be! We ate Mondongo (stomach), Chinchulín (some sort of intestine, not sure what it is in English), Tripa gorda (Large intestine), and last but not least LIBRILLO (which later was described as the filter of the cow poop. It is named Librillo from the Spanish term Libro=book in English, because it looks like an open book, and to be eaten, it is cleaned sheet by sheet.) Not too bad, right? Well, it got worse. When we described our lunch to a member, she told us that the Librillo is fine, unless it is a dark green, because that would mean that it was not cleaned properly, and still had the poop particles on it. Well, as you guess, it was dark green, chewy, and awful. It was one of those horrible realizations that, after hearing it, you just have to laugh it off and be thankful that you have yet another great mission food story.
The very best part of our week came when we were walking down the street, and we saw 2 members drive by on a motorcycle. We kept walking towards an appointment, when we ran into the member, who had shortly dropped off the other at his house. We got talking, and I asked about the family of the one who was dropped off, and why he was the only member in his family. He said, more or less, "Funny you asked. He said that he was planning on baptising his little brother next weekend!" Well, that sure would be big news, so we hurried to his house and sat down. With a big smile on his face, he says, "Elders, we have some big news. He (the 15 year old) asked Mom for permission to get baptized, and she said ¨Well, if that is what you want to do, then I will support you and give you permission´". Our jaws about hit the ground. Little did they know, we had done a special fast as a mission as well as in our companionship to find someone to be baptized this month. Our area has been tough for the last little while, and we had just about lost the faith. The Lord showed them and even us the blessings that He had prepared for us. He had been trying to get baptized for the last 4 years! He had asked her millions of times. And, after all the prayers, fasting, hard work and sweat, we all have been able to see that miracle come true. It is such a blessing to be a missionary, to be able to help others come unto Christ through baptism and confirmation. I know that miracles have not ceased to happen. He is planning on baptism for this Friday, and we are all excited to be there to support him.
Thanks for the support, keep us in your prayers! Love you all!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, June 10, 2012

She adds love not nutmeg!


It has been really warm and pretty this week. Today is the first day in a long time where I have actually felt hot. Turku is bloomin and it is really pretty. I will try to take some good pictures.

Did you all hear how Finland beat US at hockey? I’m a hardcore America lover, but I was actually happy that Finland won. Hockey is there thing here and a lot more important to them than to most Americans. But it doesn’t matter to much because Finland lost to Russia in the next round anyway. Dang Russians...

We had Zone Conference this week. It was in Tampere, which is just a little North of Turku. There is actually supposed to be a big rivalry between the two cities, but I don’t really know what about. It was really fun to see everyone. We had every district bring a food dish so that we could judge who had the best salad, and main course and what not, and so me and Elder Hoggard made some way good enchiladas. And by me and Elder Hoggard I mean just elder Hoggard, but still, we ended up winning.  Another thing we did was we played Jeopardy. One of the questions was about our mission President and his wife. The question was what is something Sis Rawlings puts into every one of her recipes. Someone raised their hand and said "NUTMEG!" but it wasn’t right. So, mostly as a joke I shouted "LOVE!" haha and it turned out being the right answer. Everyone was complaining about how it was such a far out answer, but I was just secretly laughing at the fact that I stole the points from the shmuck who said nutmeg... hehe nutmeg, what a thing to say.

We also found 4 new investigators this week which is pretty huge for us. They are all students and also most of them are foreigners. It has been interesting to see the contrast of talking to younger people as compared to older people. The younger generation may have a lot of problems, but they have one thing going for them and that is that they are much more open to new things.

And finally, we had sweet lunch with and investigator from Turkey who is one of the coolest guys ever. He said that the food we ate was pretty authentic Turkish food and I don’t mean food from Turku....)  But it was really good food and fun to talk with him. He is one of the few foreigners who understands our American humor. He said he is coming to church which is another bonus.

Thanks for all your support and love. I really appreciate you all.
Love ya,
Vanhin Merkley

Trials & Blessings

The week started off way sucky... I mean way sucky. with so much work to have a baptism an old ignorant lady of our ward, who told us about how she was going to tell Consuelo... our convert... that she can’t wear pants (woman suit pants to church). We talked about how it is a tradition and that she will change with time but it’s not even like the biggest deal to go in a woman suit.
Anyway in tears she received us in her house telling us that she thanks us for our visit but she can’t go back to church cause she doesn’t have a skirt and that that old lady told her "don’t come back here until you have a skirt to put on" She went home crying that day because as a pretty much single mom she is saving to pay for her daughters schooling and their clothes and doesn’t have the means to buy a skirt now. We thought after about the story of Nephi and Laban "it is better that one ignorant lady perish than a whole ward... “You get the story hehe. Yeah it was way sucky but we were able to talk it out and she said everything was going to be ok. She didn’t go to church for the first time in a long time... and were doing all the work to get everything back to good. It’s just hard at times... when it’s not with the investigators it’s with the members. But everything’s going to be alright and we ended the week with a great spiritual experience. It was so spiritual and after the lesson we had with a once "completely against" daughter of my companions convert let us talk with her daughter who has 8 years... The daughter was way exited to have permission to be baptized. We said that to talk with her we need her mom Carolina to be there and she agreed. Secretly her mom is going to be baptized on the 23rd as well... we’ll see how it goes. It was so cute to see her daughter teach her how to pray. There has been a great change in her and we have the biggest of hopes.
An area seventy is coming to visit and that about wraps everything up. Love you all I’m loving that my companion and I are getting a lot more spiritual and still have a great relationship.     Elder Rhodes

Prior to his Mission, Shaun worked at Blendtec so when he went into this restaurant in Mexico, he just had to get his photo of it!  He might have made this very blender!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Struggles & Blisters

This week has been soooo full of opposition. But that’s sometimes the way it is. From out of hand Catholics laughing in our face about joseph smith to the all saved Baptists who only need to say a prayer and yep. Salvation. It doesn’t matter how many scriptures you use... the spirit is the most important key in conversion and understanding. And work doesn’t work without it.

Despite our opposition, it was and is a pleasure to see your converts and the newly baptized members come to church and bring such a new spirit to a downtrodden ward. A total of twenty eight people were attending the ward, but we were able to coordinate and carry out a service project this morning. Actually I have a blister and so I can’t type as fast. It was a lot of digging and moving earth from one spot to another so one of our good friends and someone we always talk to about the gospel that sells hot dogs and like bratworts can build himself a little cabin to have his business. I can just say I’m glade to have some types of plans to study... you just learn to appreciate it more ;)

On Sunday we were able to serve. We gave two English classes, taught a struggling daughter about least and greatest common factors and are hoping that we can have some progress with them. They are a pretty great family and were excited to have found them.  We hung up our newly bought hammocks to be able to withstand the hot nights and we are just loving and enjoying the tender mercies of the lord. I’m grateful to be here and am excited for what’s to come.
Elder Rhodes

My Brother gets Married Today!

I was totally eating on Saturday afternoon when the brother asked me how many brothers I have... And if they were older or younger and if they were married... So yeah I got thinkin like at 2 in the afternoon... "That’s Right! My Brother gets Married Today" what the heck! It snuck up on me way to sneakily. Not that I’m not thinking always of you Brandon... ;) But that was weird. It blew my mind to be the only single adult in my family... Besides the little single adult Lillyanna.  Anyway we had a pretty fantastic week. It’s been great to be with Elder Fowler for this exchange... time flies by so quickly, and changes were this week. Yesterday they called us and told us that... We’re going to be together another three months together! Yay. I’m exited. I loved the pics of my cardboard cutout... it was pretty great :) (Shaun's brother, Brandon was married in the Draper temple on May 19th.  We had a cardboard cutout of Shaun for our pictures at the festivities.  The one attached is Shaun with his brothers at the Wedding dinner.)  Hopefully you can get me some pics of Brandon on his special day... That would be sweet to see. The only one I saw of them was the tiny little one on the table in your brothers and sisters picture... where they are smooching. The weeks been pretty great, three people assisted church this week, a family that we weren’t really expecting. I’m glad that someone had the desire to share those few little hours of Sunday with our heavenly father. They are a great family, and I really hope that their kids can get interested in our message as well. The week has been full of sleeping under the stars, going on cockroach house hunts, and planning for our next "smoothie week" full of carrots, alfalfa, spinach, and a mountain of all sorts of fruits and veggies. I’m stoked and happy to be here on such an enjoyous time at the house. Love ya mom and Dad.  Got to go, say hi to all the family for me
Elder Rhodes