Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mission Quotes

The beds here are great, the bed used to be totally bowed and bent down by obese missionaries, but we decided to flip it up and bolt it on so it was bow-up. So now it’s really high off the ground and I feel like I’m taking naps on a garbage can. It’s wonderful. I really love that it’s cooling down here, it’s totally livable now!

This week my companion and I were able to work together the whole week, something we usually don’t do for being on splits or having conferences or what not, and it turned out wonderfully, we were able to talk to a young man that read the first fifteen chapters of the book of Mormon and was super exited by all of them! He loved the Lehi's vision and knows the book of Mormon is true. Well we felt the spirit really strong and invited him to be baptized, he accepted and just as we were putting a baptismal date with him... He told us he is heading back to Durango next week... Well I guess the missionaries should get ready for a powerful convert. Meanwhile were loving teaching and helping him strengthen his testimony. We were able to work with a lot of members this week and I was able to give a talk in sacrament meeting about following the living prophet. It was nice because a lot of people told me that they were sleeping and my talk got them interested and made them awake! I guess that’s an alright compliment ha-ha. I either talk loudly or she really did enjoy it  :). I loved giving it and others said great work.

It’s really a great ward here and I’m super exited to keep working here and growing with the members. The experience of the week is that we saw an alcoholic fall straight on his face, which made me feel super bad and wanted to help, later, we were sitting outside talking with a less active family and this drunk guy passes buy and was totally locked out of his house... So he was trying to jump the fence with spikes and hit his stomach real hard and then just hung from the spikes in his jeans. It was real sad to watch him but I think he was safer hanging from the fence than falling on his face in the street. It was really hard to concentrate in the lesson cause for forty minutes we saw the best attempts to get himself unstuck... Poor guy tried to play it of normal when people passed by like an unable scarecrow just hanging there super chill... Life

I’m loving working with elder Robbins and we're lovin the progress in this area. I just wanted to leave with two quotes that I loved from this week

In High Priest meeting- "Thousands of insects just wake up every day dead"

And in a lesson with a young man- "The spirit is like a gigantic fan"

Ponder them... I’m just blown away by the deepness of these remarks ha-ha :) had to write them down.

Love ya Fam...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Testimony of the Fast


So the trip this week to Nuevo Laredo was fun, I saw Texas!!! I grabbed a rock there as a keepsake for the closest I’ve ever been to Texas, besides the airport... but in church a little kid took it away from me ha-ha.

It was a ball of adventures and it’s nice to be back in the city. Definitely a crazy difference between the two. So we met with one of our investigators and talked about tithing and fast offerings, and he shared on how he was not sure if he wanted to be baptized... So we started thinking that there is no better way to put into action the principal of fasting than fasting with him to know if this is what he should do...

It was cool because he was the kind of person that was always in the streets, without a job, really not doing much at all, a few of his family members recently were baptized and he approached us with the desire to learn. Well he now has a job, took out all his piercings, and progressed really fast. Anyway about the Fast, he totally got sick cause he had never gone so long without eating, but my companion and I were able to gain a better testimony of fast because He was able to be baptized this last Saturday... in his baptism I played the primary song "when I am baptized" on ukulele and we both sang... which wasn’t too shabby  I feel like it was a musical weekend cause for sacrament meeting yesterday my companion figured out that I know enough piano to read the songs with one hand, and he with practice can play the other hand, so we played the hymns in sacrament meeting yesterday.

It was an adventure.
Elder Rhodes

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walking with the Full Moon

I got the call that I will be headed up to a place called Kuopio. It is a city next to Joensuu (my previous city) and on the eastern side of Finland. I’ve visited there and it is a pretty place and will be fun. They have a car which will be interesting and a first for me as a missionary. Having a car makes getting places really easy, but its also harder to talk to people throughout the day. To be honest, I would rather be in a bike city.... even in the winter. I’m more of a biker than a sitter, but there are definite benefits to the car and we will find a way to still talk to people. The weird thing is that it could very well be my last city... Pretty crazy. My companion will be a native Finn named Vanhin Helistö. I have met him and he is a funny guy and I’m thinking we will get along fine. I leave on Wednesday and take a 5 hour train right to Kuopio. I am excited.

I have now been in Turku for 5 months. It is quite a long time, but still it will be hard to leave. There are some really cool sites and feel to the city, and the people are even better. I have a lot of fond memories and would like to come back to visit some day. Saying goodbye to the members is always sad but that is just how it is. We still have a few people that we are going to try and see before I leave.  One of our investigators gave us a good compliment when he said "You are both missionaries but when I see you, it is like seeing my friends again." I thought that was really nice. I have noticed that the people is always what makes a place the most memorable.

This week was a good one. We had splits with the Rauma elders. I went on splits with Vanhin Troff. He told me all about how his brother is almost a chess master. Haha apparently there is a lot more to chess than I thought and his brother is training with a renowned coach and learning different moves. It was really interesting to hear about. And then we started talking to a guy who looked like Aang from avatar. It turned out he was a Krishna Monk and was traveling around doing his Monky business. (Hehe... I meant to do that)  I asked how long he was doing it for and he said that it could last a couple lifetimes... haha it really put serving 2 years in perspective for me. I also asked if he was a vegetarian, which he was, and I proudly told him that I was too. It was a good day of contacting.

Conference was really great. I have learned to love conference more and more. It's true that it's a whole lot of sitting, and can be tiring, the speakers always seem like they are talking straight to you. There were a couple of times where I was almost shocked because of how directly related what they were saying had to do with where I am at and the questions I have. One of the great ones was Elder Hollands. At the end of it I wanted to stand on my chair and shout "Hallelujah" it was so good.

I’ll also quickly tell you of the sweet service we did. We had planned to do some service with a member, but it started quite late so we weren’t sure if we could make it. But we decided to go. On our way we got distracted and overshot his house and so we had to wander back and try and find the place and by that time it was already getting a bit dark. We were double guessing if it was worth because it was dark, and we were getting hungry and tired but then eventually found the place. He was really grateful for us coming out and we helped him shovel a part of his driveway. Afterwards, he gave us some apple pie to go. It was a good moment: Walking in the dark with the full moon shining down, eating some delicious apple pie, laughing with your companion and feeling that satisfied feeling of helping out a friend. The whole ordeal started off a little unsure, but it turned out being a lot of fun and a cool memory.

That's all from me. I hope your all doing well. Love you all,
Vanhin Merkley

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hello to all!
Lets just say, this week was pure chaos, but one of the best ones of my life. Most of this week was spent and dedicated to preparing what turned out to be the most stressful but beautiful wedding Paraguay has ever seen! We had to set up everything for decorations in the chapel, clean the chapel (more than once, since some branch members got it dirty in between cleaning sessions), buy and take the cake to the chapel, make sure the couple and 4 witnesses had identifications for the ceremony, help prepare the chicken and rice for the dinner, figure out the music situation, deal with complaints from practically everyone, and meanwhile, trying to find and teach people about the wonderful message that I was called to teach to everyone. It was, for lack of better words, an insane week, but once Saturday night hit, it was all worth it.

The wedding went surprisingly smooth, our Branch President, along with other members, ended up helping quite a bit. We took many photos, everyone was really excited about the wedding, it ended up really uniting our branch quite a bit. One of the small miracles was that her parents are very inactive members. They hadn't been inside our church for over 20 years. She was worried that because we were doing the wedding in the chapel, that they wouldn't come. Well, they came, and loved it! The members welcomed them with smiles, hugs, kisses, and they seems very happy. As the missionaries, we decided to gift them a cake...and not just your average cake, but an 8 kilo, 2 story cake! We even bought a little couple thing to put on top of it. An of course, they were awestruck when they saw it. All the stress, preparations, headaches were all worth it when we saw the smiles on their faces, as they had one of the best nights of their lives.
Sunday morning came along, and before church, she was baptized by Elder Colligan. Many members came, in spite of the cold, overcast morning. We got there at 6:30 AM to boil water, because the hot water in the font doesn't work. The baptismal service was excellent, many great talks. As she got out of the water, you could see the joy in her eyes and in her countenance. She was a new lady, clean and pure. To conclude the service, she bore her testimony. She talked about the lesson we had with her about a month ago, when after reading in Mormon 9, we asked her if she believed in miracles, and she said that she did. We then asked her what a few miracles would be, and she said 3 things: that her husband would go to church tomorrow, that they would get married, and that she would get baptized. As we now know, all 3 of those miracles have been accomplished. She then said in her testimony, "God showed me that day that miracles exist. I am going to keep working until one day he can be baptized and we can be sealed in the temple". The Spirit was strongly present. It is moments like these that make it all worth it.
I love my mission so much. I love being here, I don't want it to ever end. It is such a great experience, being so involved in such a divine work. I love the people that I serve here. I know that the things that are taught in the church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are true, and I know that by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Love you all! Pray for us here. Until next week,
Elder Babcock
Hello to all!
Last Monday, as you know, I wrote you from good one of my old areas. At night time, Elder Colligan and I went out with the Elders there and do some visits. I was able to pass by some of my dearest friends. Each one of them was going through a hard time, and the timing of being able to visit them was, in my opinion, divine. It felt great, as if I was going back "home". Each one of the lessons was very spiritual, with big commitments such as missions and temple sealings.
The bus ride home was killer, we got on the bus at 11 PM after a hectic, sweaty day. Then when 1:30 AM hit, the worker in the bus wakes us up and tells us that more people were getting on, and that we would have to stand, so from that time until about 3:30 AM we were standing on a crowded, freezing cold bus. The only thing that kept me motivated was that when we got off, I would be able to get into my comfortable bed and sleep...When we got home, to our surprise, the Elders were there laying in our beds, because they had missed their bus. I cannot even describe how heart broken I was. Lets just say that I am still trying to recover from the loss of sleep. I was even sick all week, so it was tough but I survived.
Well, our eternigator "eternal investigator", after much fasting, prayer, and diligence over the last 15-ish years, is finally getting married this Saturday, and baptized on Sunday morning! She is awesome. Elder Colligan and I have been working really hard with her and her husband, and we are really excited for this weekend.
I got to talk to one of my converts from my first area, who is leaving on his mission to Chile this Thursday! He is really excited and ready. On Tuesday, we are going for a Zone Conference, and I am hoping to meet up with him at the Mission Office to bid him farewell, and give him some things. He is a great guy, and will be an excellent servant of the Lord.
We were walking around in a super poor, far away part of our area, and I felt the Spirit prompt me to talk to a man who was sitting in front of his house, looking unoccupied. We started talking, and he let us sit down. It didn't seem that he understood us very well, due to the fact that he speaks mainly guarani. We taught him about repentance and baptism, and he accepted it well! We went back on Saturday with a member to teach him again, and he committed to go to church. Sunday morning came, and we went by his house to walk with him and his 2 young daughters, and he was there waiting! They loved church, and after church we went by to ask him about it, and he said that he felt very different, and close to God. He said that he loved being able to participate in the classes, something very different about our church. He accepted to be baptized along with his daughter. Elder Colligan and I felt very humbled by how much the Lord is willing to guide us to those who are waiting for us, as long as we follow the promptings of His Holy Spirit. It has given me more desires to talk to EVERYONE, because you never know who is being prepared to receive the gospel.
Love you all! Keep us in your prayers.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock
Greetings! I am totally in my old area, and it is just fantastic. We came up here today to do a Zone Training Meeting, which is a new once-a-month meeting that we teach to the zone about specific needs we have, and how we can better resolve them. I feel like it was a complete success. We were able to focus on our zone and our needs, and based most of it on practices. It was a great learning environment, the Elders really participated well, and we left very excited to improve the work in our areas. Even though it took quite a bit of preparation and time, it was well worth it. And after, we played a huge "partidazo" soccer game, our team did great.
Elder Colligan and I are really trying to take advantage of this great opportunity to be companions, and we are trying to be more creative and think outside of the box. We had been working with our investigator for a while, and he has come down to the conclusion that either our church is true, or the catholic. With our Mission Presidents permission, we decided to teach one more time about he could recognize an answer from the Holy Ghost, and offered to even attend his catholic mass on Sunday Night after attending ours, to "weigh the differences". After attending our meetings in the morning, we went to catholic mass! I feel like it really helped him out to see the love we have for him, and after mass, we taught him a lesson, and I think he is coming to see the many similarities, as well as the differences in ordinances. It was a very interesting experience. I gained a new respect for the Catholic faith, in the sense that those who attend seem to really be trying to follow God, just like us. They were all behaved very reverently, and even though the ordinances that were performed were not performed by Priesthood authority, and were different, it was a great opportunity to see how it all works. It also helped me to realize how nervous one must be going to our church for the first time, because Elder Colligan and I were super nervous. As of right now, he is progressing towards baptism for the last week of the month.
We are seeing miracles with our investigator! Her husband decided to marry her, which was huge news, something that not too long ago seemed impossible. Now, the obstacle is finding the money for the wedding, due to debt issues. Elder Colligan, ________, and I were able to do a fast together, and she called us last night with news about a possible source of money that would allow them for marriage this weekend! I know that when Satan puts everything in the way of a baptism (and in this case, a marriage), the Lord is willing to help out as well according to our diligence and faith, and we are seeing that abundantly. If it all works out, they will be married, and she will be baptized this Saturday.
Great news from this week was that a couple that I had baptized in my first area, were endowed and sealed in the temple this last week for time and all eternity! The bad news was that because I am far away from the city, President Madariaga said that I couldn't attend. It really hit me hard, I was just about sure that I would have been able to attend, and the news hurt me pretty bad. I had to take the news humbly and know that even though I wanted to be there, the work here in was what the Lord wanted me to do. I was able to talk to them on the phone before and after, and they had a great experience. Even though I was not able to attend, I felt as if I was with them, and am so proud of them.
Things are going great. I am going to teach some people tonight and am really excited. It is great to be with Elder Colligan, he is a great example to me. We are working really hard and are seeing great results. Keep us and the people here in your prayers!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Forest Gump

Conference is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you’re going to get.

So yeah I was just as dumbfounded and mind boggled from conference as I’m sure many of you were :)  It was just a wonderful experience. This time I watched all sessions in Spanish, one cause there wasn’t in English till Sunday afternoon and the other cause I just didn’t want to. :) I’m so stoked for all the new rug rat missionaries. I think it made a lot of people think "if it was like this for me what would I have done?" But the timetable of the Lord isn’t ours at time.

My companion and I were talking last night and he made the comment "Crap, now when we get home there won’t be any girls, they'll all be on missions!”.  I don’t think there could be a better place for them.

Some of my favorite talks were those of President Monson "make an inventory of your life" "see the potential of people" I loved the talks about Service and finding new ways to renew ourselves through service. I liked when they restated that we determine our felividad and that we shouldn’t just have an end goal but to enjoy the journey.  It was really just all great and helped me to recharge my batteries.
In Mexico it has always been that the missionaries can serve at 18 years old so there is not much change there and most of the families that I have talked to don’t want to send their daughters out on missions... But we'll just have to see what the futures got for us.

Hey we had a Zone leader council this week and its official; we will be coming home on Friday the 14th of December. I guess there was a mission rule that no elders can be traveling from the fifteenth to the thirty-first. So yeah...

Well I don’t have much time today cause we are going to be taking a bus to Nuevo Laredo which is on the border of the US and Mexico and were are going to be giving a training meeting to some elders and then were going to go on splits with them. So I really kind of got to go but I super stoked for the family and thanks for all the letters!

Dad by the way I was at Elder Holland’s talk in the MTC and it was way more powerful than it was in conference, I think it was because they had just put new seats in the conference center and he didn’t want everyone to soil them. Ha-ha I found out that Elder Holland is one of the only apostles that can make you pee your pants and feel the spirit so strongly. I really loved it

I hope that answers your questions that you’ve had but if I didn’t just send me a shout out. We are blessed

Dah dat dat da da I’m lovin it...

Elder Rhodes
I quickly emailed Shaun & asked how far away Nuevo Laredo’s bus ride would be… he replied…
Nuevo Laredo is three hours and ten Minutes! We’re leaving like at twelve or one... I’m going to read the book of Mormon to try catching up. Eighty days ends on the fifteenth of this month. But I’m only in Alma 55 so I think I’ve reestablished my goal to let me learn more and it’s going to be for before I get home! Love you Mom!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Down by the River

New News

So everything is working just fantastically in my new area... I’ll start off answering a few questions. My ward is a decent sized ward as far as compared to my last one. :) It has about 80 in assistance, and there are about 10 in Primary, 15 in young men and women’s, and like 10 in young adults. It’s a pretty fun ward with a lot of exited people, and a lot of work. There are a lot of less active families in our ward, starting with the bishop ha-ha... But with just one week here we have felt very accomplished. We have baptisms planned in two weeks, and we found someone this week that has been slowly prepared in his five years of being married with his less active wife. He accepted without doubt the baptismal invitation and went to church with his family. His name is Angel and he also has the goal to be baptized on the 20th of this month. There isn’t much coordination as far as the bishop and ward mission leader goes, but were going to see what we could do to further the work in this area. I feel like we are going to be helping a lot of people be baptized and continue on the straight and narrow. I’m really just excited to be here and to be working with the people in this ward.

Elder Robbins is from Logan Utah and is pretty crazy. I mean crazy like he’s fun to be around and has an interesting but a funny character. He’s has about 16 months on his mish and one month as zone leader so were still working things out on how to manage and help out our zone. We are going to have to be traveling to the border in the town of Valle Hermoso. We are over the missionaries that are there and it will be fun to travel again. It’s about three and a half hours away. He likes cars, mountain biking motorcycling, being at his cabin in Bear Lake, and riding snowmobiles. He’s the third child in his family of four boys. His other brothers have already served missions. We get along great, the only thing I see is that he’s not someone that motivates and lifts me to higher grounds, but were keeping it real and I’m learning how to continue to motivate myself and push forward even when there are things that he doesn’t like to do, like clean the house. Ha-ha :) I think I’ve come to a better appreciation of Mom. And a clean house. Never thought I would enjoy cleaning.
Anyway as for now that is all, were just loving the work and loving the time that God has given us to be missionaries. Do something crazy this week.

Briceidy (brees-say-dee) is the daughter of a family that washed and cleaned our clothes. They were very hospitable with me and we hung out a lot with them on preparation days making desserts and whatever. So the daughter went to Utah and is now studying English there and I told her that you guys would take her out and I gave her the number of Dad’s phone. So yeah. Just to clear stuff up.. It would just be a nice thing to do for a family that treated me very well in my last ward and always had their doors open to us. So she might call you and whatever.

Elder Rhodes