Monday, June 27, 2011

first week in the field

Hi Family!!!

Oh man I miss you guys like crazy.  Try to email me by Sunday night so that I can have it received by the time we email on late Monday mornings/afternoons (Monday is our Pday)
Here is my apt address: 1201 NW Tahoe Apt #204 Silverdale, WA 98383.  If you sent anything to the mission home I won't get it until the zone conference at the end of the week.  They don't forward the mail from the mission home. It has to be picked up by a zone leader or someone that would have reason to go there.  It has been hard to not hear from anyone this past week.  I went from getting mail everyday in the MTC to nothing out here and the contrast is stark.  I think I am going to only open my mail on Pdays instead of during the week so that I won't get as distracted or homesick.  And believe me, this week was TOUGH.  I don't feel homesick persay but I think about you guys  I miss the support of my MTC district.  It's hard only being with your companion.  Seeing other people that are also on their missions or in the same phase of the mission as I am would make the days a lot easier, but unfortunately that is not really a common occurrence here.  I will get to see my old district at the new missionary meeting that isn't until next Tuesday.  Until then I will have to get to know and break into the tight-knit new district of mine.  We are all at the library right now emailing and just before this we played a couple games of ultimate frisbee.  Something I normally never would have done or played but figured I needed to show that I was making an effort to be apart of the group.  They play all the time and are pretty good so I was nervous I would look like an idiot.  Luckily, I wasn't too bad and even assisted on some touch downs/goals.
So I'm sure you are all dying to know about my first week.  So I will tell you!! I am serving in the Silverdale 5th ward (YSA ward) and the Silverdale 6th ward (family ward).  Silverdale is on the Kitsap peninsula right next to Bremerton.  So the area and towns here are very navy oriented.  A lot of navy/serviceman jargon and lingo has been tossed around this week so I feel like that is a big part of the local culture that I need to get to know.  Seems like everyone out here is currently active in the service or a veteran.  So with ties to the navy a lot of people have ties to San Diego as well since that is where a lot of them have been previously stationed.  Having things in common when you are meeting people for the first time or teaching someone is CRUCIAL.  They might not want to talk about the gospel but if you have a common interest they won't be unneccessarily mean or rude to you. 
It seems like I have had some kind of crazy tie, connection, or mutual friend with almost everyone I have met so far.  A lot of Filipinos out here so they all are very curious and more receptive to my companion and I when we are out tracting.  In fact, we have three potential investigators that even opened the door or gave us the time of day because of me being Filipina.  One lady named Susan was just about to shut the door to my companion, Sis Mills, but then right before she did she looked at me and asked me where I was from.  We got to talking to her more and she said she had a neice who was Mormon and that she would consider going on a church tour.  Out here we knock doors between 5-7pm and the goal or objective is not to get invited in to begin teaching but rather to invite them to take a tour of the church building in which shorter versions are given while walking through the buildings.  I can't remember if I mentioned this already but it is unique to this mission and has proven to be pretty successful.  We were taught in the MTC that if you have spiritual experiences with your investigators they will progress and commit to baptism that much easier and faster.  We met two other Filipino potentials that happen to live right across the street from eachother and are from the same part of the Philippines.  I think the name of the city is Iilolo.  I could have just slaughtered the name and the spelling.  Anyway, one guy is 30 and in the navy and his sister is actually a member and attends the Kingston ward with her family.  The other potential is named Freddy and he and I think one his kids and his grandkids all live together.  When we were tracting he was working in the yard.  So we told him we would come back in a couple days to check up on him and offered to help with the yardwork.  He was floored when we actually did come back a few days later and could not believe we were actually serious about coming to help him pull weeds or rake in the yard.  He literally was dumbfounded.  When he found some words to say, he simply just said, "You two are so sweet.  Thank you for your kindness.  But I cannot make you do that."  We told him that he would not be making us do anything and that we are offering to be of service to him.  He said he would call us whenever he needed help.  I really hope that he does.
Mom, I met someone that paddles!! We were going to visit a Less active member of the ward, Brother Elkington.  On paper he sounds like a middle-aged white guy with the first name of Steve or something like that.  At least that is what I imagined his name to be or what he looked like.  But I was suprised to find that he is from New Zealand and grew up in Laie, HI.  He made mention of paddling and he was even wearing a paddling shirt.  I told him that you paddle and he thought that was so cool!   He is in a club that mostly competes with teams from WA and Oregon.  He has never made it down to California for a race but he told me that his dream is to race in Hawaii.  I told him that was yours too.  He coaches a few teams in the club including a junior team.  He said all his kids paddle.  He even is a steersman.  He showed me his paddles, all wood from HI.  Super neat guy.  His wife is a nonmember and went to BYU Hawaii.  She went there on a volleyball scholarship, but the entire time she was there her family anti-ed her against the church.  She is a tall samoan lady that apparently does NOT care for missionaries.  I have yet to meet her but hopefully she will soften her heart in time.  Sister Mills thinks that I am the perfect missionary to reach out to that family, because I know what it is like to have a part member family household and we have other little interests and things in common.
Ok, something gross.  Everyone out here has dogs.  EVERY SINGLE HOME we have visited has dogs.  Not (a) dog but dog (s) plural.  Several.  And large, slobbering, shedding, jumping dogs.  It's awful.  They smell like wet dog all the time, because we are in washington and guess what? It rains. Meaning perma-wet  dog smell.  I have seen dogs that resemble small bears.  One family that we taught had a Blue Mastif.  Google it.  When I went to sit down on their couch I was appalled at the slobber and drool stains that had dried and crystalized over all the cushions.  I wanted to gag.  I also wanted to find a pillow or something to place between the couch and my skirt, but all of those had slobber too.  Every door we knock on when tracting has several yips, barks, and running of feet soon after we ring the bell.  Calling card of death.
Also, we are serving in a very woodsy area.  Many of the neighborhoods and places that we tract down have gravel roads and there is a lot of space and land between each home.  Rusted and broken down clunker cars sit on people's front yards like metal lawn gnomes.  We joke about that.  Either the houses are super recluse and kinda ghetto or they are totally nice.  And they can all be on the same street.  We have only gone to a few homes that are super nice.  Most are just run of the mill homes.  The weather has been pretty consistently gray.  Not super rainy but enough to be dreary.  I am cold all the time.  It doesn't really rain too hard here.  I guess because it rains so often the precipatation is lighter.
We had that baptism this past weekend on Saturday for Mac.  It went well.  He is a super stocky guy and not particularly guy so he had a hard time finding a baptism jumpsuit that fit him.  So he decided he was going to buy white clothes of his own.  I spoke on the Restoration while he was changing.  I was asked to speak for approx. 10 min so when that time elapsed and he still hadn't come out, they sent someone in to check on him.  I guess the dry shirt he brought to change in to was the wrong size.  One he no longer fit in.  So he couldn't even button it up and he ripped the sleeves when he tried putting it on.  So he had to come back out in his damp white baptism shirt.  You couldn't really tell though that it was still wet.  Super funny.  My talk went super well.  My companion said it was very powerful.
We ate at one member family's home the Beck's.  They have the cutest house in the middle of the woods.  With the largest Bernese Mtn. Dog I have ever seen.  they have 4 kids and they adopted two kids from china.  The boy they adopted is named Simon and his Chinese name is something long and hard to pronouce so they call him Shi-Shi.  I told sister Mills that shi-shi in Japanese is to urinate.  Or is that in Tagalog?  I don't remember.  All I know is that growing up, Shi-Shi was referring to pee so that sounded super weird to me to hear all these people call hime that.  He is seriously the CUTEST little kid though.  I'll have to send a picture.  Speaking of pictures.  I cannot figure out how to email pictures on these computers.  Maybe I'll just have to print some out today and mail them home.  Shauna, do you think that you could scan them onto the blog?  The dad is a marathon runner and he is trying to qualify for Boston, too, mom! He said he needs to shave 5 min off his time and I told him you were in the same boat.  We have been going running in the morning for our exercise.  I silently cry every time because it makes me miss you, Mom.  I would rather stay in the apt and do stretches so that I could have at least one day that didn't begin with tears.
This has probably been one of the hardest weeks of my life.  The hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour," pretty much summarizes my feelings.  I have never before in my life relied on the Lord to help me make it through each and every hour of the day.  I feel exhausted in every sense of the word.  Missionary work is tough.  It is awkward.  It's uncomfortable.  It's inconvenient.  It's long.  It's tiring.  The only way I can make it through the day until we come home at 9pm is constant secret prayer.  I have been getting pretty bad headaches throughout the day from all the suppressed tears.  But things are getting better.  I'm trying to be stronger.  People probably wouldn't guess that I am having a hard time because on the outside I appear fine.  I am pretty confident in my teaching and can carry on a conversation with people.  But inside I feel far from home and my heart is troubled.  My companion has been out for over a year and goes home in December.  The side by side comparison with me being only a week seems daunting.  The thought of not coming home till NEXT December seems to far away and so impossible.  The thought alone makes me tired.  But I have carried onward and forward each day that comes.  For now, I can only look at my mission minute by minute and hour by hour.  Because that is what it takes to get me through the day.
There was a video that we watched our last day in the MTC.  It was a talk by Elder Holland and he spoke about our roles as missionaries.  He said the most common question he is asked by missionaries is "Why are missions so hard?" His was response was "Because they have to be.  Salvation is not a cheap experience.  It was never meant to be easy.  It never was easy.  It is not supposed to be easy.  It was not cheap, easy, convenient or painless for the Son of God.  If I am going to be a missionary, a witness, a follower of Christ, how dare I not expect to feel even a fraction of what He whom I am representing did.  A gift was given in the Garden of Gethsemane.  A price was paid on the hill of Calvary.  To be a true disciple of Christ, I must be willing to take on even a tiny particle of what He went through.To stand faithfully and tall in suffering.  In crying.  In adversity.  I must suffer the will of the Father, even from the beginning."
And I really haven't even had it as bad as others.  People haven't been too rude.  No one has yelled at me yet.  People have been less than polite but nothing too obscene.  There were some elders that got a dog bowl of water thrown on them by a man at his door.  One sister was spit on in the face. But as sad as those things are, I am more sad when I think of the people that did that to the Savior.  And how He still loved them.  So must I.
Write me, family!!! Dad, I miss you so much.  You don't even know.  I think and pray about you all the time.  Pray for me.  I'm sure you have.  I miss you all so much and I am so grateful for eveything you have done for me and continue to do for me.  I have been given so much and I never want you to think that I don't appreciate you.  Scott and Jill I miss you and brag about you all the time to people I meet and teach.
All my love,
Sister Baylon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

sister baylon is in washington!

Hello family!
I am writing you from the Silverdale Public Library.  I get a whole hour this time to email instead of 30 min at the MTC.  It's still timed though.  So I am in the field!! I feel really overwhelmed.  Might as well come out and just say it.  Yesterday was hard and and the same time it wasn't too bad.  We woke up at 3:45 am to make it to the MTC travel office at 5am. ( I miss the MTC sooooooooo much. ) There were 19 of us on a charter bus that took us to the Salt Lake airport.  I slept most of the way there since I knew I didn't get much sleep the night before and that would be the last nap I would take in the next 18 months.  I didn't feel nervous at that point, because I didn't really know what to expect.
Once we all made it to the airport and went through security we found any available payphone we could find to call our families.  Airport patrons definitely took note of us. 19 young men and women strolling through the terminals in dark suits and skirts were a sight to be seen.  A lot of people waved and encouraged us on as we walked.  Most people just stared.  We all were looking for people to talk to and potential listeners to lessons we were hoping to teach them in the boarding area or on our flight. I sat near a lady that was by herself and we got to talking.  I couldn not tell if she was LDS or not and did not want to make any assumptions like she was.  So I just began by asking how she was doing and why she was flying into Seattle.  She said she lived in Everett, WA and she was out in UT visiting some family.  She asked where we were going and when we told her Tacoma, she asked if we were going on our missions.  So I was still under the impression that she was not a member.  I asked her where her seat was and that the odds of her sitting by one of us [ missionaries] on the flight was pretty high.  Her next few responses caught me off guard.  She said, "Yes, I might be seated next to one of you.  But there isn't anything you could teach me."  I thought for a quick second and felt impressed to ask her, "Oh, why is that?" I thought maybe she just wasn't interested in the Gospel.  She then said, "Because I have been a member my whole life so I don't think there is anything I haven't already learned."  I wanted to cry.  I couldn't believe she felt like she had learned everything she needed to know.  That she had reached her gospel learning limits and that her testimony couldn't be strengthend or that it wouldn't even be worth her time for us to try to share a simple spiritual message with her.
Members are a HUGE key to successful missionary work.  If missionaries are not working with the members they are not only working a lot HARDER than they have to be in regards to finding people to teach, but we are not working smarter.  Please, please, please, help the missionaries.  Even if it just means letting them speak with you for 5 minutes about a message that they are dying to share with the world.
We landed at around 9:30 am and it was semi-overcast.  A little on the cool side, but not rainy.  I was one of the first missionaires off the plane and was greeted by several pairs of stareing eyes.  Then the coolest thing happened.  A young guy in his mid 20's came up to us and said "Hi, Sister where are you headed on your mission?"   My nerves were immediately calmed when he said he was a member of a ward in Tacoma.  He congratulated us all when the rest of the group gathered outside of the jetway.  I could not help with silently proclaim, "Hoorah, for Israel!" in my head.
President Bowen and Sister Bowen along with his two AP's (assistant to the President) met us at baggage claim to help us get our luggage and take us all down to Tacoma for a mini orientation and Mission Transfer meeting.  The sisters rode with Sister Bowen. On the way she asked us why we wanted to serve a mission.  I told her my story, one story that I haven't told many, if not any, of you.  I told her that I had a dream.  This was a dream unlike any I had ever had nor ever had since then.  In my dream I was with my Mom and Dad and we were driving in the car.  We were all just talking and driving but I didn't know where we were going but I didn't ever bother to ask either.  After a while, Dad pulled the car up to a curb.  I looked out the window and I realized we were at the airport.  I thought it was a little strange but I just followed my parents inside.  Once inside, I was greeted by all of the friends and family members that I have ever known, loved, respected, and looked up to.   Coaches, teachers, neighbors, classmates, roommates, cousins.  After talking to many of them, there was a silence.  I looked around to find them all looking at me.  Something in their eyes told me that they were there not to greet me but to see me off.  But where?  I didn't know.  There was not a visible airline banner or marquee that mentioned where the flight was going to.  Suddenly I had two suitcases and the pilot was calling my name over the airport intercom.  "Sydney, we are waiting for you.  They need you now."  I looked back to my parents and they nodded as if to tell me, "Yes, go.  They need you."  I took the suitcases and began walking towards the jetway.  Still unsure of where I was heading but knowing that they were right.  I need to go.  After looking back at everyone as I pulled my luggage, I realized I needed to turn around and continue forward towards the plane.  I waved one last goodbye and then I disappeared from sight.  Then I woke up.
At the time, I had no idea what the dream meant.  The next day was my college graduation.  The most pivotal moment in my life and student career.  I was dressed in my cap and gown along with the thousand other graduates and all of our families.  The general authority that spoke to us had just concluded his talk and asked us to close by singing the hymn, "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go."  It was as if someone had instantly cut the volume.  I momentarily felt like I had lost all ability to hear.  Then I heard a quiet but very clear voice tell me, "You know where I want you to go.  I want you to serve a mission."  Tears began rolling down my cheeks and the sound came back on as if somehit hit the unmute button on a remote control.  I was not prepared to hear this.  I wasn't even wondering about a mission.  But just like Joseph Smith had felt about the first vision, the same did I about what I just experienced: "I knew it. I knew that God knew that I knew it. And I could not deny it."  Fast forward a few months to our stake conference and a visit by none other then Elder L. Tom Perry.  He boldly declared that the church needs more missionaries and they are needed now.  I felt like he was speaking directly to me.  The rest is history.
As I type this email I am trying my best to hold back the tears.  I did not anticipate the feelings of being overwhelmed and frenzied.  I guess because I didnt cry at all when I was at the MTC in regards to it being hard, I didn't think I would cry or find it really hard to transition to the field. is.  It's way hard.  So much to learn.  I felt like everything I learned at the MTC was instantly erased the second I got my new companion.  Like someone hit a master delete button on a keyboard and I was starting over from  nothing.  Because I never planned on serving a mission or dreamed about going on one, I feel like my reason for being here is almostly entirely founded on faith.  Faith that what I heard was from God.  Faith that this is what He needs me to do.  Faith that Washington is where I am supposed to be.  I did not anticipate to feel as sad as I did yesterday when our district was abruptly disbanded as we each were assigned to our new companion/trainer.  We were all in a conference room and asked to us to stand one by one as they read our rames.  Beginning with the elders they read off a name and a trainer came running in and told them who they were and what area they were being assigned to.  It was lightning quick.  I felt like a mother hen watching people swoop into my coop and take my chicks.  Especially when they took Elder Homer.  He looked so afraid and so nervous.  He was the elder that I made sure to watch out for in the MTC.  I got a little emotional  and still feel a little that way.  I miss my district sooooooo much.  
So I have already experienced by first go at tracting or finding people to teach.  In our mission, the golden time to do this is from 5-7pm.  People are home from work and school and the entire family is usually together.  Talk about scary.  It was like "alright here is your first door, ready, go!"  In the MTC they did not teach us a door approach, let alone allow us time to really practice it and said that our trainers would show us how.  It went pretty well.  We only got to do it for 40 min because we had an appt for a church tour.  Our mission was the first to launch the church tours as part of missionary efforts.  So that is what we asked when we went tracting.  If they were interested in taking a tour of the church building.   One other really foreign/semi-awkward concept to me was car contacting.  Yep, literally contacting people while we are driving in the car.  We were on our way to a zone meeting this morning and all of a sudden my companion, sis Mills, pulls the car over, rolls down the window and asks an elderly (Filipino) couple if they attended a church, what church, and if they would be interested in coming to our church.  Wow, ok.  They said they were just visiting their daughter.  I got the next one, a lady in her 50's probably out walking by herself.  She declined politely and said she would pray for us. Hahah. Yeah this is tough stuff.  Pray for me.
So my companion is pretty cool.  From Georgia.  Nice.  She has been out for about 13 months.  She said she gained 20 pounds on her mission so far.  Yeah, not happening to me.  She has a really nice singing voice, as do most sisters out on missions.  We drive a 2010 Toyota corrola.  Our apt is pretty decent. Pretty good size.  We have a washer/dryer in the apt so that is super nice.  I actually miss Sister Eichenmiller.  
I hope all is well at home and where ever you all may be.  Missionary work is tough. It's easy to get discouraged but there is so much joy in the work if you remember who you are representing and what your purpose is.  We have a couple lessons today and tonight and even have two baptisms scheduled, one this weekend and one the next.  Crazzzzzyyy exciting!!! Unfortunately, these dates were already confirmed before I got here so I cannot take any credit for them.  I am going to have to speak at the baptism this weekend on the Restoration.  Bear testimony about it.  They guy that is getting baptized is name Mac.  Single guy, 44 years old.  Pray for him!  This week will probably be super tough for him as the adversary will try so hard to discourage him and thwart our missionary efforts.
I love you all so much and miss you tons. There is a letter coming your way that we sent from the mission home yesterday.  And happy belated father's day, DAD!!!! I love you so much and wish I could have spent it with you.
Sis Baylon 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the second and last email from the mtc


This is my last email here from the MTC because...I leave on Monday the 20th at 5am!!! There are 19 of us on a flight out of SLC to Sea-Tac airport and our flight leaves at 8am.  Our Branch president said that we can and should call home from the airport before we leave!  So, family, please be home around 5:30-6:30 am your time because I will be calling from an airport payphone around 6:30-7:30 utah time.

Thanks to everyone that has written me!!! SERIOUSLY IT MEANS A LOT.  To everyone that hasn't....let's just see if we are still facebook friends when I get home.  Haha. The last time you can DearElder me here at the MTC is Friday night.  After that it will need to be DearElder to the mission home or mail letters/packages to the mission home. The address is on the righthand side of my blog.

Ok everyone has asked me what my favorite part of the MTC is.  Hmm.  Hard to articulate.  I love that when I walk through the halls at night after planning the next day out with my companion I can see through the windows different districts dressed in their Sunday Best planning too.  Flags of every state and country hang on the walls.  It's like peering into the most spiritual and righteous "dollhouse."  I imagine that it must feel the same way to Heavenly Father.  Beaming with pride and happiness seeing his children hard at work studying and learning to bring the gospel to the world.  I love that when I take a shower I hear girls next to me humming "We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet."  I love that when I walk to get a drink there are elders kneeling in prayer outside their classroom as they are about to teach their progressing investigators.  I love that Districts travel together to dinner and offer silent prayers before they eat.  I love that everyone here loves the Savior and are all unified and working towards the same goal.  When I first arrived at the MTC I couldn't stop thinking, "Wow, the Spririt is so strong here."  I assumed that it was that way because we are all here at the MTC, a place designated as a training and preparation campus before we head out in to the mission field.  But I have come to realize that the Spririt is so strong because we are all obedient.  Where else are there thousands of young people all living the highest standards that they have ever and probably ever live 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The MTC is merely a bunch of buildings and walls that house us.  Us, as missionaries and our dilligence and faith as we arrise each day ready and willing to put on the armor of God is what brings the Spirit.  Living the Gospel this fully, has brought me the most joy I have EVER EXPERIENCED IN MY LIFE.

I want to testify of the power of righteous and uplifting music.  Guess what? I joined and sang in the MTC choir yesterday!!! It was the neatest thing ever.  I just want to make it clear that I cannot carry a single tune, but I felt like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be apart of such an amazing and uplifting choir.  It was truly an experience to remember.  Nearly 400 of us practiced and then sang "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth" at the Tuesday night devotional.  Talk about voices of angels that were praising and testifying of their love of the Savior.  I even made it on the big screen with the other sisters in my district. Haha! The elders came up and told us that later when we got back to the district room.  There is a scripture is D&C 25:12 that says something along the lines of "yea a song of the righteous, yea, a song of the heart, is a prayer unto me."  That is exactly what it felt like. So AMAZING.  Since we are leaving on Monday, our district was asked to sing a musical number on sunday.  We are singing "I Know that My Redeemer Lives," but to the music of "Poor, Wayfaring Man of Grief."  I don't know how someone figured out that it works, but it does. Perfectly.  Such a beautiful and incredible blend.  I can't wait to sing it!!

To all you thinking about serving or those that are preparing a mission I have some words of advice. KNOW YOUR SCRIPTURE MASTERY.  Oh my gosh.  If I knew and remembered all the scripture masterys from seminary I would be so much farther ahead of the game.  Study those dilligently, young seminary students.  You will definitely use them and they are very powerful!  Everyone that heard I was going on a mission told me that I better study Preach My Gospel a TON before I report to the MTC.  But my advice would be different.  Yes, I would still review PMG as much as I could but I wish that I read and studied my scriptures and said my daily prayers a lot more frequently and sincerely.  Learning how to teach will be taught to you at the MTC but there are so many things that come only from the scriptures and prayer.  You will come to know Christ in ways you would have never imagined.

At first I used to be so worried that I wouldn't know what to say or that I didn't know enough about the gospel or have enough of the scriptures memorized to the point that I could easily reference them when I was teaching.  I can testify that if we work hard and study dilligently, "feasting on the words of Christ" and "drawing out our hearts in prayer continually," that we will be able to teach.  Because these are not our lessons, they are God's lessons.  They are not our words.  They are His words.  We do not convert anyone.  The Spirit does.  If we have the Spirit with us and have tried our best to prepare, D&C 100:3 promises us that it will prompt or tell us "in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say."  If we are prepared, we shall not fear.

The key to missionary work is LOVE.  If we love God then we want to follow Him.  We want to do and act and live in such a way that makes him happy.  When we exercise faith it is easier to be obedient.  When we are obedient we receive blessings.  When we receive blessings we are given more responsibility.  Or a knowledge or understanding that we must show this same love to others.  That love being the gospel and our love of the Savior.  

I KNOW that Christ lives. That he is the literal son of God.  He died for me. For you.  For all of us.  If we love Him, Keep His commandments.  Obedience brings blessings.

Everyone keep writing me!! I love hearing from all of you.

sis Baylon

Thursday, June 9, 2011

already loving the mtc

Hello family and friends!
Wow so good to finally be able to email you all.  Today, Wednesday, is my pday so I had to wait one whole entire week before I could write.  So much to tell you in only 30 minutes! There is a red clock counting down my time at the top of my computer screen so I'll try to pack in as much as I can
- The MTC is awesommeeee! Wow. Such a strong spirit here.  The feelings that are emanated throughout these halls are one of love and testimony.  Such an amazing and special place to be!  It has been pretty warm and sunny here everyday.  I would guess at least 75 or maybe hotter.
- First and foremost, EVERYONE PLEASE WRITE ME!!!! I totally need to promote the use of  It is a free mail service and they print your letters and give them to us the very next day at the MTC.  It will not be free when I am in the mission field so take advantage of it while you can!  I will be expected to leave the MTC on June 20th so super soon.  We can read mail everyday after 9pm when we are back in our dorm rooms.  But we can only email on Pdays. So use DearElder!!!!! I can think of things to tell you/answer your questions throughout the week and then write a great email on Wednesdays. I want to hear from everyone!!! It feels really good to get letters while you're here so please, please write me!
-One of the neatest experiences I have had so far was the on Sunday at the evening fireside.  All the missionaries in the MTC were packed into the gym to hear from the MTC presidency and their wives.  Upon their request, all the missionaries sang a very special version of "Called to Serve."  President Nally's wife played a very intricate version of the song the piano and it sounded exceptional.  Very vigorous and triumphant sounding.  She wanted us to sound like the 2,000 stripling warriors and that we were just on the other side of the hill, coming up closer and closer. She had us start singing very quietly almost a hushed singing.  Each verse we progressively got louder until we were just BOOMING.  The beginning part sounded AMAZING.  Cannot even express in words how strong the spirit was.  It really sounded like we were marching because the the hushed tone gave the words almost a bouncing rythmn.  By the time we reached the end she had us all stand with the line "called to serve our KING."  It was perfect.  There are just under 2,000 missionaries serving here at the MTC so we really were like the Army of Helaman.  I couldn't help but let a few tears fall down my cheek as I was fully engrossed by the power of our voices and the testifying spirit that told me that I was heading off to battle.  Not to destroy or conquer but to fight for a King of Kings, and to spread His gospel to those that were waiting.
- I LOVE MY DISTRICT!! Oh man. We have 12 of us in our district which is pretty large!  Most districts have maybe 6-8 missionaries and often they are not even all going to the same mission.  But we are all going to Tacoma!! How cool is that? 8 Elders and 4 sisters.  We also met another district of elders that are also going to Tacoma and some them are speaking spanish. So there are going to be about 20 of us heading out to the North West.  The MTC told us that are mission is the largest and fastest growing and baptizing mission in the states.  So RAD!!!  One elder, Elder Hale, seriously one of THE BEST elders ever, just told us last night that they were sending him home for medical reasons.  It was DEVASTATING. We were all crying.  He left this morning at 6:30 so we didn't get to see him off.  He was such a powerful missionary, so nice, so respectful, and so funny.  He always knew how to uplift the district.
- My companion is Sister Eichenmiller (ike-in-miller). She's from Pittsburgh and we get along great.  She's pretty chill and laidback so we mesh well.  The other sisters are more....UTAH-y.  Some of you will know what I mean. Hahah. But all the sisters are so awesome.  All the sisters in the MTC rather.  The Elders, well at least most of them, treat us all with so much respect.  Always saying hello, opening our doors, and sometimes even offering to take my tray when I'm done at the cafeteria.
-All the Tongan, Hawaiian, Samoan, basically island elders all ask me "Where you from, sistah?" hahah. I just pretend like I don't know what they are talking about and just reply, "San Diego."  Oh my gosh the cutest thing ever....the Korean and Japanese elders.  Ok, one day I was waiting in line at the salad bar and there was a table of all Korean/Japanese elders.  They were all completely engrossed in either their food or conversation.  A sister from their district that was Korean I think, approached the table with her tray.  Without hesistation ALL of the elders sprang up immediately with their hands behind their back and gave a slight bow as the sister made it to her place at the table.  They didnt even sit down until she did. SO CUTEEEEEEE.
-I have seen Cami Bingham a couple of times.  I always looked for her the first couple of days when we were in the halls or at the cafeteria but I never could find her.  Finally, on my third day I saw her studying outside.  We ran up and hugged eachother and felt sooooo good to see someone from home.  Felt like I was getting a hug from the entire Encinitas ward.  We took a picture together on Sunday when both our districts were taking our temple walks.
- The food. Not gonna lie.  It's just....ok.  It's good in theory.  It looks or sounds semi good but then I get kinda disappointed at the end.  Either I'm still hungry or I am full on a bunch of random stuff. They have everything you can think of.  Lots of junk food.  One elder has been here only 2 weeks and has gained 15 pounds.  If you want you can have soda or a donut at every meal.  Crazy.  I usually try to eat pretty healthy.  My favorite thing to get is probably a wrap.
- My time is running up so I thought I would share one last thing.  I got super sick on Saturday.  The health clinic was closed so they sent me to the ER!! I got to leave the MTC. It was weird. I got food poisoning and was throwing up and having to go to the bathroom alot.  I got a blessing and between that and the medicine I was fine.
- I have been learning and studying so much about the gospel.  Its amazing. I testify that Christ lives and that He loves you.  Joseph Smith was a prophet and restored God's church on the earth today.  The church is true!!
Write me!!!!!!
sis Baylon

Thursday, June 2, 2011

officially sister baylon

After being set apart Tuesday night, Sydney headed up north to the MTC on Wednesday.
Here are some cute pics of her and her parents at the airport early Wednesday morning...