Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving in Brazil

Hey family
   I almost forgot it was thanksgiving this week but remembered in time to try to eat as much as i could and send you this picture. i hope all of you had the best thanksgiving possible and don't miss me to much. 
   My good news for the week is that we were working really hard this last month and not getting anything but the last two Sundays we had awesome people just walk into Church. last Sunday was that couple and there kid and this week was a 24 year old girl. they both are looking for a church and already have been to others they didn't like. the lord really does bless us for good work. also the little things we tell people about church really make a difference. the couple and this girl both heard about the church from someone and decided to give it a try.
      I'm super happy about that box you mentioned! Elder Cleveland got two huge boxes this last week but there is for sure not as much love in the boxes so i feel bad for him.
     How is the snow situation back home? how is everyone doing? here in brasil we are just doin the work. things are getting better and I'm still with some great kids and one or two really difficult ones haha but its all good. I'm now getting a little scared for the next transfers on the 11th of December.

  Well i love you guys and all that jazz. rock on ---

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baptism, Farewell Tour

This week’s letter will be short, because this is the third time I have had to restart writing an email because dads laptop keeps doing weird things and deleting what I have written, the keyboard keeps on causing me to mess up, and I only have a few minutes.
Tuesday was my last normal day of the mission. We worked hard, talked to some new people, did a bunch of contacts, and then to end the night we had the baptismal service. She chose me to baptize her, so I had the privilege of performing it. She was so happy, and shared with me how clean she felt as she left the water. Many members attended, and have helped a ton in her conversion process. Her husband and convert of mine, was excited as well and told me that in 1 year, they will be sealed in the temple! I am so happy to see their deep conversion to the gospel.
Wednesday, I went to the mission office to have my final interview with Pte. Madariaga. We talked about what I had learned on the mission, and made goals and plans on what I will continue to do forever to stay strong. It was one of the highlights of my life. I also had the grand reunion with Dad, and to my great surprise, with Jake as well! I am sure you have all seen the video. It was so surprising! I could not believe it. It was really exciting. We went to the temple with all the “dying” missionaries, and had a fancy dinner.  A family who I had baptized early in my mission, attended the temple session with us, they are awesome.
Thursday up until today have been days dedicated to saying goodbye to converts, members and friends. I have gifted many things, and have been gifted even more things! It has been really exciting. We have all felt very very happy and positive in the farewells, which is what I was hoping for; I didn’t want it to be a “cry-fest”. I got permission from Pte. Madariaga to play a soccer game with the guys from Bella Vista. They are good and play rough, but my team won, and I scored a few sweet goals. Yesterday we attended church! Oh, what a special special day it turned out to be! Jake bore his testimony, which I translated for them into Spanish. Dad gave a small, powerful message. Alex, someone who I had baptized there, expressed his gratitude for me and the changes he has made due to finding the gospel. Then I closed the meeting with a simple message about happiness, missionary work, conversion, love and enduring to the end.  The Spirit was so strong in the tiny chapel there, with basically every seat occupied. I felt so much love for those sweet people, who I do consider some of my very dearest friends.
Today we got to see the Iguazu Falls, they are one of Gods many beautiful creations. We are heading into Asuncion tomorrow, then to Argentina until Sunday, when we arrive back home.
I feel like ending this letter with how the Book of Mormon ends. In Moroni 10:32 and 34, it says, “Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourself of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny
yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then his grace is sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace in God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. “And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth riumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.”
It’s message is simple: Do your best. Give it your all. Make and keep
covenants. Be perfected in Christ, and love Him and His Father with
all your heart. And if you do it, you will be perfected and cleansed
of your sins through the Atonement of the Only Begotten Son of the
Father. That is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is
what it is really all about. Do your best, and live to see the
miracles and tender mercies of the Lord.
I am so sad my mission has ended, but I am looking forward with faith to the future, and cannot wait to see, meet, talk with, and serve each and every one of you. I love you all so much. I love this gospel, this mission, and my Lord and Savior. Keep us in your prayers.
- Elder Babcock

Until We Meet

Greetings- looks like this will be my last official letter home as a
missionary in the field, so I will try to adequately share my thoughts,
experiences, and feelings from this last week.
First things first, we had a really hard working week. Elder Sorrell and I decided that for my last week we would try our best to achieve our daily goals for each daily key indicator, which in our mission is called 7/7.  After tons of miracles, smart planning, and hard work we were able to achieve it every day! It was one of those small miracles that made us feel really happy. It required a lot of diligence, including when I was pretty sick yesterday, and a lot of faith, but we did it!
On Saturday, a convert of Elder Colligan and I was married to his
girlfriend in the chapel! We ordered a special cake, and I lent him
my suit. They looked great. They were so happy. It was a special night. She has also come to know the truthfulness of the gospel, and will be baptized on Tuesday, my last night here! I feel so happy that I will be here to participate.
Yesterday was my last Sunday, and last minute I was asked to give a
talk/final testimony. As you all probably know, this has been another
very very special place for me. I felt so overwhelmed with feelings of
gratitude, happiness, and a little bit of sadness as well. I went up and
decided to share with them what has become my favorite missionary chapter from my favorite book, The Book of Mormon, in the 29th chapter of Alma.  Everyone near a Book of Mormon, pull it out and read it with me! Here, Alma  the Younger shares with us how he felt while serving the Lord, and repeatedly uses the work joy, which is one of the best descriptive words of the mission: joy!
For my last letter, I don't want to write some fancy big letter, nor something over the top. I just want to say that I feel exactly like Alma the Younger in saying that I feel so much joy..."*my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy." *(verse 16). Alma said it best. I really cannot describe how I feel...but I feel so happy. I am going to attach a letter that I wrote to give out to my Paraguayan brothers and sisters here. Thanks for all the support over these last 2 years. I am grateful for what the mission has been. I am nervous for the future, but I know that good things still lie ahead for me. I know that God lives, that Christ is our Savior, that the gospel is once again on earth.
Keep us in your prayers. Love you all!
Until we meet,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Last Zone Leader Conference

Yeah so this week was still super crazy... It was a wonderful experience to go to Monterrey and to my last Zone Leader Council, It didn’t hit me ‘til the end but we were singing the last song, our mission’s song ¨faith in every footstep¨ and I kind of broke down. I couldn’t really sing very well but I don’t think that was the problem. The problem was that after I had to say the prayer. It was probably one of my favorite prayers ever offered. It was interesting to be with some other friends that will be coming home with me and with Mom’s testimony it almost sounds like it’s my last week! No really thanks for your testimony Mom. 

Our work has been going wonderfully here in our area, we will be baptizing next week and I think my last week here as well, it crazy to think that there are only three more Sundays left in the mission. It’s weird. My comp and I are getting along pretty well, I gave him a new look and were doing a lot of exercise. I know that our prayers are answered and many nights I find myself just grateful to talk to God in prayer, what would life be like without it...

 Have fun this week and know that I Love yall.

Elder Rhodes

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Tongue of Angels

We had a great wedding this last Saturday. It was a smooth wedding, thank goodness! Many members of the branch attended, along with a few friends and investigators. They had an 11 kilo cake, fancy decorations, chicken and rice dinner, and even a little party afterwards. I lent him my black suit, along with a white shirt, sweet tie, belt and shoes. He looked great. Even though they were stressed beforehand, they were so happy during and afterwards. He is great friends with all the branch, especially the Branch President, so he baptized him. It was a very special Sunday.
Today we had our big Zone Training meeting here in SantanĂ­, all the elders came and we talked a lot about our attitude as missionaries. We had assigned them to read two of my personal favorite talks before coming, which were "The Tongue of Angels" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as well as "Lift Where You Stand" by President Dieder F. Uchtdorf, and to come prepared to discuss what they had learned and what they could apply. The meeting was guided by the Holy Ghost, and we were all edified. Some of the highlights were that the Gospel is optimistic, it uplifts and inspires, never weighs us down, has negative feelings, etc. It is to be talked of with a smile! Also, that it does not matter what calling, assignment, responsibility, duty that the Lord calls us to do, all we are asked to do is to do our part as best as we can, and the work of the Lord will go forth powerfully. I encourage all of you to read those to talks, meditating what you have learned, how they can apply to your lives, and what you will change. I was able to set some great goals today on things to improve on in my last week here officially in the field, and what I can take with me into the post mission life.
I wanted to end today with a story of a great experience we had today. Even though it is P-day, we had some appointments of people to teach, and we went to teach one of our investigators who has attended church these last two weeks. She is progressing towards baptism and is loving the message. We got there, and she said that she wanted us to teach her 20 year old daughter, who showed very little interest before. So we got to know her, and she shared a little bit about how she feels really angry, depressed, sad, lonely, and that she has no purpose in her life. She said that she always fights with her mom, does not get along with anyone, and wonders if there is any hope for her future. She even expressed that she has a problem with cursing, yelling, and using fowl, harmful, hurtful language. I felt so happy to know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly what would solve all her problems, resolve any conflicts, heal any wounds from the past, and would provide for her the "Tongue of Angles" of which Elder Holland had taught. We were able to build her trust and confidence, feel inspired to read in Mosiah 27 about Alma the Younger, and apply coincidentally what we had learned that morning in our conference, which is found in 2 Nephi 31:13, where as we are baptized and confirmed upon us the Gift of the Holy Ghost, the Lord blesses us with a new tongue, even the tongue of angels. We felt inspired to promise her that if she would learn more of the Savior, read and pray about our message, and prepare to be baptized, that in this whole process she would be blessed to overcome the obstacle of harmful language, as well as forgiveness of past sins and a renewed outlook on her wonderful future ahead of her. I felt so happy to be a missionary, and for the opportunity I had in that moment to see the Spirit working in her and in us, and seeing the change in her from the beginning of the visit to the end.
Well, this will be my last week as a missionary, and I plan on giving it all I have, working even harder and harder, and finding more investigators, so that it can continue like it is right now...exploding! I want you all to know how much this mission continues to mean to me. Pray for me and for the people here.
Love you all! Until next week,
Elder Babcock

New Area Casa Blanca

Best Taco's Ever!

New Area Casa Blanca

Well it was a bit of a crazy week, we did work as normal, and Tuesday night I got an unexpected call around 11:30 that I was to leave Juchitan and head for the city at 11:05 the next morning, to the area called Casa Blanca (White House). And so, I immediately started packing and also was able to write some letters to the recent converts and some of the members. I was sad to leave them, but excited to see what was ahead of me in Oaxaca. After a 6 hour bus ride, I arrived to be greeted by some old mission friends. My companion (Elder Gonzalez) got there about 30 minutes later and we headed to our area. We traveled on a road that reminded me of Wasatch Drive and the view was awesome. We passed by the Guelagetza, that is where they have big cultural activities and concerts and such here. It is like a giant white tent on the side of the hill above the city. Really cool. I got to know the area a bit, and my second day here we did divisions with some other elders in the district. It was a good time and in a short lapse of time I have been able to see a large part of the city. Funny story for the week... We were in conference on Saturday and all the Americans were together listening to it in English (in a tiny room haha). After the conference we were all standing around talking and a brother (I feel weird saying brother in English) asked us to put away the TV. Immediately the thought ran through my mind "someone else will do it", because we were about 8 elders that heard him. So, we left, and came back at 7 for the priesthood session. The English room was no longer open, and I was informed that we were going to have it anymore because the brother who asked us to put the TV away was rightfully bothered that we didn't help him to put it away. I went with some other elders and asked forgiveness, and he willingly got it out for us, after calmly telling us that we shouldn't do it again. Well, Brother Pedro turns out to be in my ward, and it turned out that on Sunday we were going to eat with him. I was a little nervous, but we were able to laugh about it and it will be an interesting memory of how I met Brother Pedro. Love, Elder Millet

Loved Conference Talks

My area reminds me in many aspects of home. For one,the mountains are very close and surround us. The temperature is mild and cool at night. There are also lots of gigantic hills, also bringing my memory back to my time in Zicatela when I was by the beach in a hill-covered area. The area is good, my companion is great, and I am excited to be able to work here in Casa Blanca. It was great to meet the people here and feel the faithfulness of many. I loved the conference and just wanted to mention one thing... I think every missionary felt what I felt when I said to myself "Get ready boys" as Elder Russell M. Nelson mentioned to everyone in the world, that for any question about the church the answer is "ask the missionaries". The news about the change in age for serving missions was also surprising and I am anxious to see the next generation of missionaries, ready to answer any question the people bring them about our church. I really enjoyed the conference and am excited for the ensign to come to go back over those messages. I forget them so easily. I love you all. Thank you so much for all that you do. I thank you for your prayers and would ask that you continue to pray in the favor of the people here, the missionaries, President Leyva and his family, and my companion and I. I thank you so much for all that you do. I hope that this week we can all have specific goals to put in practice the words of the prophet. He really is an inspired man called of God. Take care. Cuidense.

Family Home Evening Making S'mores

Top of Casa Blanca

Mini Mountains in Oaxaca

We went into the centro (basically downtown) today and it was really chaotic. I felt grateful to have spent a good portion of the past 18 months in quiet cities with a slow paced life. It made it easier for me to recognize the difference between material things and spiritual things. While both are necessary, there is a much different feeling for those things which are spiritual. The week was tough. I have been in the area a short time and Elder Ticona just arrived in the mission last Monday. He is a hard worker and has a firm testimony. He makes me laugh and we get along really well. I am confident we will learn a lot in this short time together. So anyways, I don't know the area very well and so we got lost a lot. We were running around trying to be on time to the appointments, and it was quite the adventure. We went to about the tippy top of the hills (I would say mountains, but in Utah we have mountains. While steep, these are mini mountains. We are busy as ever getting to know the area and the members and finding people to teach. All is well. I'm glad to hear from you. Know that I love you all and pray for you. Take care of yourselves. Elder Millet

Grateful for referrals!

Hello, This week was really good. Recently we received a capacitation from Elder Alonso of the area presidency here, and he suggested to us to ask referrals from everyone that we talk with. This week we put it in practice. We have an investigator that is an elderly woman, around 70 years old. We met her because she was putting up a bamboo fence (Bamboo that she had cut and brought from the hills... the old people here are incredible) and we offered to help. We ran into her the other day and asked her if she knew of anyone that she would like for us to visit. She told us to visit her grand daughter, gave us her address, and went on her way. Now, you all must understand that a lot of people here tell us to visit friends, family, neighbors, but very few ever receive us. And so, we didn't think much of the referral. but, one day we decided to pass by and look for the house. We found it... Street Mixtecas Colony Monte Alban #215. But no one was home. We knocked on the neighbors door to ask if they knew the person who lived there, to know if it was the right house. It turns out that the person we were looking for answered the door. She said she was the one we were looking for, and more people started to show up at the door. They were reluctant at first to accept us, but finally let us in. It is a family of 18 people and 13 were present that day. They left what they were doing and listened to us with a lot of attention. We taught part of the Plan of Salvation and they liked it a lot, and invited us to come back another day. There are at least 8 people there who are above 8, and 5 kids. It was so great to see such a united family, and that they could accept us. It was something that usually doesn't happen, and we were really happy for getting to know such an awesome family. Our bishop was released this week, and a new one was called. We are excited to work alongside him. We really had a good bishop,butI'm sure that the new one (Bishop Celis) will be great. We are planning to do an activity this Friday, I will take photos and tell you how it goes next week.I love you all. I love this gospel and testify that it is true. It is a sure path. Although hard to follow at times, the highs always outweigh the lows. Tell everyone I say hi. I love you all! Hasta luego, Elder Millet

Such a Blessing

Shaun at the temple sealing of a convert

Now Can You Show Me a Happier Man than This

So yeah it’s been one of the craziest weeks of my mission life. On the bus ride to Matamoros I had a bunch of time to think, and asked myself the question ¨Will I just run into people I know now?¨ Well ten minutes later after the best bus rides here in Matamoros I ran into the father of one of the kids I baptized in Buena Vista 2. He immediately recognized me and is struggling a bit so he said he was going to bring his family to my ward on Sunday. It was awesome to see him.

We had a wonderful few days here and there are a lot of people that speak English... It’s been pretty interesting and pretty fun. It’s interesting to hear all the comments about the... and after every missionary leaves the people that don’t remember their names call them by their appearance. So all week I have been hearing the ¨white tall cute guy¨ I guess that sums up Elder Fowler... I mean Bryan.

We traveled to Monterrey on Friday night and got up early to go to the temple, to my surprise there were another two of my converts that were going to the temple as well, it was awesome to see them progressing. I hear that almost all the people I had the opportunity to be in their baptism are active and progressing very well. I am super grateful for the members that have taken their time and dedicated it to these people. I included the picture of Andres and Lizeth, Jaqueline, and Maura. It was real awesome because Andres chose me to be his host for the first time that he went through the temple, so I was able to talk to the temple president in a little instruction meeting before the session. Everything went perfectly and it was easily in the top experiences if not the top experience in my Mission. It’s something else to see someone that you taught, make covenants necessary for exaltation that I haven’t even made yet. Really something else.

We also have been working as much as we can here in Matamoros and are looking forward to a few baptisms in the next week. It’s amazing how the lord puts into your hands opportunities to help other make their first covenants. A thirteen year old kid walked up to us and hasn’t been able to get baptized yet, after talking with him I asked him if he had any doubts or questions... He just responded ¨I just want to know who is going to baptize me. ¨ Not too shabby.

Those Pictures sure do make me miss the snow. Go make a snow angel for me or jump from the hot tub to the snow and back in! 

I’m exited for the next few months here in Matamoros, I’ve seen a lot of people that again express their love for me and for the work I did while I was just starting the mission, but the biggest comment that they give me is ¨you’ve perfected your Spanish!¨ They always tell me I don’t have an accent... I think that if it wasn’t for their ridicule of my gringo accent and making me so depressed that I couldn’t communicate at the first of my mission, that I wouldn’t have learned and tried so hard... So I guess in a way I’m grateful.

Love you all and do something crazy this week

Elder Rhodes

Saturday, November 17, 2012

True Happiness

This week was, just like every week, fantastic! Maria was baptized on Saturday and then on Sunday confirmed the newest member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She chose me to baptize her, so I felt honored to perform the ordinance. The service went pretty well, I decided to take a risk by having everyone sing "Whenever I am baptized" from the Primary, but it backfired because nobody knew it, and I just played it on the that was a little awkward, but it all worked out. As I was changing into dry clothing after the baptism, I pondered about the true miracle that finding, teaching and baptizing someone is! Maria, in a little neighborhood in a tiny city was able to come in contact with true representatives of Jesus Christ, feel the Spirit testify to hear of the truthfulness of the gospel, be baptized, and become a member of the Lords church. I cannot describe in words really the profoundness of the thoughts I had, but they made me feel so happy to thing that the Lord knows all of us and guides us to the truth, we just need to open our hearts and trust in Him.
So I am 21 now, I feel...the same haha. A family gave us some chicken and rice for lunch, and a recent convert prepared me a HUGE bowl full of delicious fruit salad. The members here are so awesome and always look out for us. I am thankful for the great relationship I have with them, and for all they do for the missionaries!
Speaking of that, this last week, ALL of our new investigators this last week came from member referrals! And 3 of them came to church for the first time on Sunday and were accompanied by members! The work in this area has just beyond exploded with tons of people to teach. And the cool part is that many of them have expressed desires to be baptized, even before we invite them! I feel so blessed for being able to be the one to teach them and help them in their own spiritual journies.
Yesterday was a day of many mixed feelings. It was my last Zone Leader Council, and therefore all the Elders going home this change gave what is called their "Final Testimonies." I was there with Elder Colligan, Elder Miner, Elder Richins all from my MTC District. The growth in all of us has been incredible. As I heard Elder Colligan talk about his mission experience, it made me feel so thankful that we were blessed to be here together. He truly has become a powerful, strong, inspiring example of faith, testimony, and love. I love him for all he has done for me. After him I went up and bore my humble testimony. I am not someone with an eloquent, fancy testimony, I simply like to share what I know to be true. I am also not a crier. Therefore, as I started to talk about us and the growth we have seen in ourselves and the love I have for my mission experience, for the people I have been blessed to serve, the changes in the lives of others and my own, I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude that I could not hold it back. I want everyone at home to know that I know that God lives. Jesus Christ is the living Son of God, our Savior. Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God, President Thomas S. Monson holds the keys to guide us to heaven. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of the Lord on earth. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and has become the keystone of my testimony of all of these things. I feel so happy to know that as I have served others, I have also served the Lord. I have never, ever, ever felt more happy in all of my life. The soccer highlights, playing guitar, going to concerts, playing super smash brothers on nintendo 64, all of that is really nothing in comparison to the happiness I have felt here in in my mission. For all of you out there needing to hear this message, whether your testimony is fragile, or you have not decided to serve a mission, or just are confused about anything in life, trust in Moroni's Promise: "And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye shall know the truth of all things". Follow the Spirit you have felt and then go forward with faith.
I love you all, and wish you all a great week. I had many other noteworthy events this week, that I will tell you all at home someday. Keep us in your prayers.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Go and do, because you know!

You know that you have had a great week when you have been in the same building as an Apostle of the Lord. This weekend was truly a special one. We traveled on Friday and stayed in a hotel Friday night to be well rested for our conference with Elder Bednar in Asuncion. The hotel experience was awesome, it was the best shower I have had in a very very long time, along with the rest in the hotel room. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights from the conference.
He started off telling us that the meeting would be different, that it would be purely guided by the Holy Ghost. He shared what in his opinion were a few "false traditions" we have in the church. One was that of taking notes. He said that we waste a lot of time writing and lose time feeling the Spirit, and that we usually never read them again or if we do, over time we lose them. However, Spiritual promptings are rarely forgotten and are more powerful. He also talked a lot about not being prideful as missionaries. He pretty much said, "you are all about 19, barely speak the language, honestly cannot teach that well, and you think that because of YOUR talents you are going to be able to convert people. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? GIVE ME A BREAK!" It just hit us all like a ton of bricks. He said, "help them learn from the Spirit, and not from you." I really liked that quote, sometimes i would get worried about ME too much, instead of just trying to be the instrument of the Spirit. We changed our mode of teaching to be more spiritual and are seeing great results.
Another quote I liked was that he said "Go and do, because you know" talking about spiritual promptings. He said not to worry so much, just be obedient, be a good boy, and to follow what the Spirit indicates, like Nephi. He also talked a lot about discerning, and that we are to observe, listen and discern, that is "the Lords pattern". "The Pride Pattern" is to talk, talk, talk and talk. So we are seeing a big difference in our teachings by just listening and trying to really ask inspired questions that are sparked by the Holy Ghost, and not talking and presenting information. I learned so much this weekend, it was incredible to feel the power that comes from an Apostle. I know that Elder Bednar is a prophet seer and revelator and that this church is really guided by authority of God.
We were able to bring a few investigators to church this weekend. The work is growing quickly here, I feel very humbled by all the blessings being poured upon this area. We are just trying to be "good boys" and be the worthy conduits of the Spirit, so that all those that are ready to find the truth can find it! I love this mission, and am sad it is coming to an end. I am just giving my all these last few weeks so that I can go home and know that I gave it my all.
Love you all! Pray for us here. Until next week,
Elder Babcock

When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God

Greetings! (hehe)
Yes, I am in an old area of mine today, doing a division with one of the Elders here. The bus ride was a long one, standing from 2:30AM to 4:30 but hey, whats new? It is great to be back, I have already ran into a few friends, and am excited to stay tomorrow as well.
There was a huge rainstorm this last week that we ended up having to walk through a few miles to our house. I think it would have to go down as the biggest one yet of the mission. Lets just say that my baptismal clothing was more dry in one day than my companions boots in 6 days. The weather has been all over the place, but generally hot.
I had one of the best experiences of following the Spirit last night. We were hurrying down to our last visit of the night at about 8:15PM when I noticed a couple on the side of the road next to their motorcycle. I felt a very strong impression to stop and offer help. Well, I was not sure if it was just me telling myself, or the Spirit, so I gave them a wave and continued on. We continued to walk, and were about 20 feet ahead of them when I felt an undeniable impression to turn around and offer help. So I turned and gave a weak "Do you need help?", to which they replied, "No, all is well!" After hearing that I then started to turn, but then again felt impressed to offer again to help! By this point, I felt like I might have been annoying them, which of course was what Satan wanted me to think, but I asked them again, "are you sure?", to which they replied, "Well, we are looking for something." So we went and started talking, and what do you know, they had been walking for more than 2 hours pushing their motorcycle, because the tire had gone flat, and no one offered help, nor could they find a pump. We started calling members who lead us to one place, and another, and another, and we could not find anyone who had a pump! In addition, it was Sunday, and nothing was open. We ended up carrying their helmets, bags and walked with them as we pushed the bike up the hill, where he got in touch with his brother-in-law, who knew what to do. We were able to talk and realize that they were very interested in our message about eternal happiness, and accepted to receive the missionaries in their house in Asuncion. They kept on saying how thankful they were for our help. I really cannot explain to you all how great I felt after. I had been a part of a first hand following-the-Spirit experience. I understood what King Benjamin said when he taught that when we are in the service of others, we are only in the service of our God. My companion and I got to talking about the effect that one little experience can have like that, especially in the life of someone in need. Who knows, maybe they will never talk to missionaries again. Maybe they will find the truth, be baptized, sealed in the temple, and endure to the end to obtain eternal life. Maybe they will greet Elder Sorrell and I on the other side of the veil and say, "Remember us? Remember, we were in need of help, and you helped us! You led us to happiness we had never known was available! Remember us? How glorious will the day be when it all comes together, and all of those small acts of kindness we do are all found out and added up, and we can all rejoice together. Like Elder Holland said, that surely the thing God loves most about being God is being merciful, especially to those who don't expect it, or may not be worthy of it. I feel so thankful for being here in the mission and for the experience I have had and continue to have daily.
Love you all!
Elder Babcock

Visits with the Mission President

Greetings from Paraguay!
This week I officially started what will be my last transfer of my mission. It has brought up many mixed emotions, most of them being sadness and also excitement to endure to the end and work as hard as I can to end with a bang. We had an awesome week, the members are incredible, especially our Ward Mission Leader. He went out with us 2 different days to visit our progressing investigators, and it had a huge influence! Yesterday in Fast and Testimony Meeting, he bore his testimony of the joy that he feels working with us missionaries, and encouraged everyone there to find people for us to teach. I feel so thankful for members of the church like him who understand the doctrine of missionary work being a duty of everyone in the church. One of my favorite quotes has always been: "After all that's been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel" by the Prophet Joseph Smith. We had more lessons with member present this week than any other week I have had here, and we saw the success when Sunday came along and 6 of our investigators all showed up, all of which had been visited by us this last week with a member present.
We got a surprise call from President Madariaga telling us that he would be in town Sunday night to do visits with us! We went with him to visit a few investigators and less active members. We also had interviews with him, and mine was very spiritual.
My spiritual thought from this week comes from a lesson we had with a Family. 1 year ago, the mother of a Hermana passed away, and so the visit before we went with President, we left them with Alma 40:11-13 to read, which talks about the Spirit World. As we opened our scriptures to read it with them, I was anxious and ready to read the scripture, teach the doctrine, etc. But, wisely, President takes a second to ask, "Tell me Sister, what was your mother like?" Hermana sits there for a second, and responds by saying that when her mom was younger, she was really doubtful about God, religion, etc. Then, she was diagnosed with cancer, which proved fatal. But before she died, she started receiving the missionaries, felt in her heart that the church was true, and wanted to be baptized. Due to health problems, she was unable to be baptized, but had desired to be baptized up until she passed away. At that point, I felt so humbled and thankful for the wonderful example of President Madariaga. Because he followed the Spirit and asked an inspired question, we were able to understand exactly what portion of the gospel she needed to hear. He then explained that because of her change and faithfulness, and because of vicarious ordinances in the Holy Temple, she could receive baptism and other saving ordinances, and also receive a glorious resurrection with her whole family. Hermana felt peace in her heart as she heard the news. She committed to go to the temple in December with her mothers information, to be able to perform baptism for her deceased mother. I am thankful for temples, and give my testimony that the power does exist today to save those who have passed away. I am thankful for the example of my family members from home who write me and weekly tell me of experiences they have had while in the temple this last week. I know that families can be together forever, through the sealing power of the Priesthood.
I love you all. Keep us in your prayers! Elder Bednar is coming to visit us on the 27th of October, we are all excited!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sweat and Scars

Ok, before starting, I am letting you know that I had my whole letter written, then my computer broke down and it all erased...So this will be the summary.

The heat has officially arrived, and it is caused my companion and I to by sweet sombrero hats which we proselyte in. We look awesome. This week has been a very fatiguing one, given that we have had only 1 normal night of sleep due to traveling, exchanges, and daylight savings time. But I have come to realize that it is like that here, we have the biggest zone in our mission, the other areas are all between 2-5 hours away. But I love it, its great to be here. We are in the middle of nowhere, and it is a privilege to preach the gospel among my beloved Paraguayos.
Conference was great! It is like the Superbowl of the mission. We were able to bring a few investigators to see it. 2 of them are progressing really well towards baptism right now. They were a referral from our recent convert. They are getting mixed in with the members well, they were telling everyone about their baptism, so that was really cool. It is always a good sign that investigators like the church when that happens. Another investigator that attend is the 17 year old niece of an active member family who is now living with them. She has a very limited understanding of Christ, but feels good at church and also is progressing towards baptism. We continue to work with the boyfriend of a less active member. We went to teach him last week, and felt inspired to teach him about the Book of Mormon, something we had already taught him. As we finished reading the Introduction, we came to the last paragraph, which basically explains what the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon means: that Jesus Christ is the Savior, that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Kingdom of the Lord on earth. As we read it, I felt a strong impression to ask him if he had come to know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. He is a timid guy, so I did not expect anything big, which might have been a lack of faith on my part. He responded by explaining that when we watched the Joseph Smith movie, he felt a peace in his heart that he had never felt before. He bore testimony to me of the truthfulness of our church. Wow, what a powerful thing to hear! What would have happened if we would have never followed up on the video we saw? We followed that by reading Mosiah 18 about the baptismal covenant, and committed him to be baptized. It was a testimony builder to me that the Lord, by the Spirit, works miracles. Be it the miracle of being inspired to ask a question, or answering someone about the truthfulness of this work, it is by that same Spirit, and is the only way to learn spiritual truths.
Crazy story of the week goes to my companion, who while leaving a lesson, had his head down and ran into a wire fence, which gashed his eye very badly. We were far from the hospital and it was way hot, so we had to make a huge walk to the hospital to get it checked out. I felt so bad, because the sweat from his forehead would enter into his cut, and he would say how bad it hurt. It is healing slowly but surely. I consoled him by saying that it would be a cool scar (because I love scars), to which he responded, "Ya I'm not a fan of face scars" ha ha he has a great attitude. He always seems to be able to laugh off the tough things. I am learning a lot from him.
I did a division with Elder Miner, my MTC companion. It was great. Though Joseph would like to know, he says hi!
Today we had our Zone Training, Elder Sorrell and I taught our zone about teaching skills and diligence. I love Moroni 9:6, it has become one of my theme scriptures of my mission that keeps me going when I feel like I have nothing left. I invite you all to read it again and put goals to be more diligent and dedicated in whatever calling or responsibility you have as a member of the church.
I got transfers today, and I will be staying here with Elder Sorrell for my last transfer. Time is flying by. I am working hard and taking advantage of every opportunity I have to preach the gospel here in this short time as a full-time missionary. I loved Elder Hollands message from conference. The Lord needs us to serve him forever. He has asked us to "leave our nets" forever. I know that even though they say that the mission is 2 years, it is forever. I am excited to leave it all in the field and come home with nothing left. Because that is the only way to do it, any other way wouldn't be fair, would be right.
I love you all! Keep us in your prayers.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

This week: Strengthen those in need of your strength!

Hello to all!
This email is arriving a day late, given that yesterday we had our big Zone Leader Council meeting with an Area Seventy, Elder Di Giovanni, and because of travel problems we were not able to email yesterday. It was a very powerful conference, we felt a lot of "Godly sorrow" about things we need to work on in the mission as leaders. It is good sorrow, because it leads to change, or in other words, repentance. Elder Di Giovanni's wife used a great example to start it off. She put a piece of paper on the pulpit that said "PIANO" and asked Elder Andreasen (who was pianist) to go up and play a hymn on the pulpit. He looked at the pulpit confused and said that it did not work because it obviously was not a piano. She then said, "but it says piano...are you sure it does not work?" She compared it to us as leaders and as missionaries. Are we really missionaries (leaders, members, etc)? Do we play the role or simply carry the title? It really hit me hard, and helped me realize that I can have a great influence on others for good, as long as I magnify the responsibility I have been given.
This last week was full of miracles. Our recent convert, has become the hardest working member ever! He gave us some referrals last week that we have been working with, and because of his help, 5 of them attended church this last Sunday, and 4 of them currently are progressing towards baptism for the 20th of October! He has been going out with us every other day, and not only has his testimony been strengthened, but also those investigators. We are seeing miracle after miracle because of the dedication of these great recent converts. We have also put the goal to literally talk with everyone! I was studying this last week about the principle of finding when we teach, and teaching when we find, which basically means that as missionaries we are 24/7 for 2 years in the process of finding as many people as we can to bring unto the true fold of the Lord. After that study, last Wednesday, I rededicated myself to talk to everyone, and we are finding many more people to teach. And as I did so, I felt a lot more positive, happy, etc. When we share the gospel with others, our lives our blessed.
A funny story from this week would have to come from church on Sunday. While I was teaching the Gospel Principles class, we were talking about the problems of our days, and the many temptations around us. A pretty Evangelic guy decided to attend our church and he commented on that subject. He started to raise and raise his voice, until he was practically yelling, which of course made the Spirit go flying out of the room. Our investigator sitting right next to him politely told him to speak a little softer. His response was, "No, that's the Holy Ghost!" I find it interesting how mistaken people can be about how the Holy Ghost really feels. For those who read the Bible and understand it, it clearly states that they are feelings of peace, happiness, joy, love, long suffering, patience, gentleness, kindness, etc. For that reason it is also called the Comforter. And screaming, yelling, fighting, debating are all exactly what the Lord has said is NOT His doctrine (see 3 Nephi 11:29-30). The Spirit and its comforting feelings are what have guided me through my life and mission, to know what to do, what to say, where to go. They have never given me desires to do anything along the lines of raising my voice. I know that if the Spirit is with us, we will be able to feel comfort and peace in hard times.
My spiritual thought comes from a scripture I read the other day in Doctrine and Covenants 84:106. We learn here that those that are strong in the gospel have the responsibility to help those who are weak, and to lift them up so that they are also strong. We have been sharing that with our active members, and are inviting them to do the same. We leave them, and all of you out there, to think of someone who, for whatever reason, has fallen down, who needs your help. This week, find that person, and give them the support they need to be strong like you. I know that we all can make great differences in the lives of others, if we follow the example of the Savior, scripture heroes, and modern day examples and simply serve others. Love you all from home, keep us in your prayers.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Remember Remember the fifth of November the gunpowder treason and plot,
I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot   -Guy Fox

Just wanted to wish everyone a very merry fifth of November. My week was absolutely crazy, filled with some crazy adventures looking for some references with my companion, a really sweet baptism, and this week was changes.

The assistant told me "so what do you think of the changes... what’s going to happen?" I told him "Uh I bet were staying together..." He said nope and asked who I thought was leaving... Well I definitely thought my companion seeing as he’s been here two transfers and I only have one, and he said nope once again and told me that I was leaving once again. I’m headed to fill in for Elder Fowler in my Homeland Matamoros! I’m super stoked but just blown out of my mind! I couldn’t believe something would happen like that with only six weeks left... But yeah I’m going to have to pack up and I’m real excited to find out how my converts in my first area are. I’m super stoked. Actually, I received a surprise this week when Andres Isaguirre, one of my converts in Matamoros... called me and let me know that this Saturday he will be getting married and sealed, and I have the opportunity to go with. I just can’t believe just the great and exiting things that are going on in my Mission right now

Jennifer, the person that was baptized this week has a great testimony and is now helping her mom and dad get to know the church. We had a wonderful lesson with her mom last night and I believe that if she continues to be as sincere as she is, she’s going to be able to receive a strong testimony... Gall I’m just so excited. This week we carved pumpkins and I carved a star with a mustache, while my comp carved the classic... It was fun

Mom. Let me just tell you what really interests me. I think it would be awesome to learn about business. It would be awesome to get into something like real estate or business or law. I think I would be really good at it. I am fascinated by nature and think it would be awesome to study something on that route... I don’t really want to major in Spanish, but I would love to minor in it. If there is some type of nature degree or a way to study real estate I would absolutely love it. Or maybe even international studies and world something. I really like adventures so if that’s what they are looking for, well then. You know I’m down for studying what I would love. Mechanical engineering would be alright but not something I’m passionate for I think.

Thanks for finding the apartment it looks super perfect, I’m so excited as far as bedrooms go I really am down for just whatever. I think I would rather take the loft room if it’s at all possible :) Thanks for your work I love you as parents. And for finding out about all the schooling and stuff. I’m stoked to have the house with tanner and all them. I talked with Elder Fowler this morning and told him that you would take him out to dinner. I also gave him the garage code if it’s still the same and he might stop by and use the piano and ukulele. He’s feeling kind of nervous and real excited as well

Here’s the photos of the baptism, the pumpkins and the one from two weeks ago when I had nowhere to pee.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Felt Like A Spy


This week was fun. We had Halloween and unfortunately didn’t really do too much for it, my comp is a Finn and so Halloween is not a big deal to him and my excuse is that I was lazy. But, we did, in a way celebrate Halloween. We had District Meeting the next day and people came in a "missionary appropriate" costume. It turned out that only me and another guy did anything, but still funny. He wore a superman shirt under his white shirt and said he was Clark Kent, I just stuck a piece of paper on my nametag so that it read: Vanhin Werewolf. Haha not the most elaborate but you do what you can. We also visited a cool museum they have here in Kuopio. They have this big Mammoth that the made. It made me wish that Mammoths still existed. Who needs a car when you have a sweet mammoth. Answer: Nobody.

We then went to Joensuu and interviewed these two young girls from China and Vietnam for baptism. It went really well and it was really cool to talk with them. They were both so excited to have the chance to be baptized. They were very humble and explained everything they had been learning so simply. It was fun to be with them.

After that we took off for Savonlinna and had splits. Savonlinna is a really small city. So small that they had to warn me of who they had talked to before, and there were many. Its a cool city, and although small, it has a cool feel to it.

We also went on all saints day to the cemetery with an investigator of ours. Like they do at Christmas, the Finns have a tradition of going to the graveyard and lighting a candle on the graves. It was a cloudy day and the graveyard looked solemn and cool. After that, we went to a Lutheran church service. We walked in late and a lot of people were staring at us because of our badges. I felt like a spy. It was interesting to see the differences in our meetings compared to theirs. They sing a lot of songs and there was some slightly awkward moments with the sitting and standing and chanting, but overall it was a good meeting. There was also a man there with only one ear, which I have never seen before. Interesting day.

Keep it up and have a good week.

Love you all,
Vanhin Merkley

Look! No Handle bars!


Things are going well here too. We found 8 new investigators this week and had 7 at church. The main reason being that we found a family. They are from Africa and have investigated before, so we just called them up and have taught them twice now. They speak decent Finnish and are really great. When we go over, the whole family gathers around. There is a lot of respect for the parents and the kids all do their fair share. It was really sweet at church because church was starting and we just assumed that they were not coming, but then about 10 minutes into the meeting we see the door open and the whole family walked in one after another. I have never had a whole family come to church. It was a really cool.

But anyways, this week we were gone a lot. We had splits up in Oulu which was really fun. I was with my old MTC buddy Vanhin Perry. He is a really funny guy and we were just laughing all day. At night, we were walking home on these really creepy trails in the forest and I started to tell him scary stories, what with it being so close to Halloween and all. It was a perfect setting and really funny.

We had another splits in Joensuu. This one I was with a new missionary. I was using his companions old bike and the stupid handlebars kept going sideways because they were way loose. At one point, we were crossing a street and the car slowed down to let us go by. I start getting ready to go but right when I do I yanked the handle bars right out of the bike. The old lady in the car was super confused at what this moron ("moron" not "Mormon") with the bike was doing. I didnt know what to do so I just waved the handle bars I was now holding and signaled her to continue on her journey. I felt pretty stupid but just laughed it off and pretended that I did it on purpose.

At one point, we were crossing the street to start heading home and an old drunk lady yells "Jehovah witnesses are better" haha we just laughed and said "Kiitos!" (Which means thanks)

Ok, love you all family and friends.

Vanhin Merkley