Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"i have never felt so much joy. wow."

Hey guys,
I guess I forgot to tell you that there is a change in the transfers procedure.  So new missionaries are now coming into the field on tuesdays instead of mondays.  President Weaver wants to spend more time with them before they go off with their companions/trainers in their new areas so he is keeping them a day.  SO...we won't have transfer meetings until Wednesday mornings at 9am.  So painful!!! I guess what was more painful was awaiting our transfer assignments.  I knew I would be leaving the area for 5 weeks now and we knew that Sister Welch and I would be getting doubled out for about 2 weeks.  So of course, when we didn't get our calls until 10:25pm we were dying!!!  Sister Welch got exactly what she wanted.  She is going to Port Angeles with the other polynesian sister that came in with sis Faoliu.  Elder Christensen was made a District Leader here in Manette and Elder Gowans became a Zone Leader and is going down to the furthest point in the mission, Chehalis.  I on the otherhand got exactly what I didn't want.  Steilacoom (Still-ah-come) with this girl named Sister Jensen.  Hearing about it for 3 months from Welch made it sound old news.  Plus it's a really "sister-y" area.  Sisters are treated like glorified visiting teachers. And not baptizing capable missionaries.  Partly from the ward treating them that way, but partly because of the incorrectness taught to them by their trainers not understanding their purpose. But!  It's a long story, things are getting shifted around with my transfer call because the Lakewood Stake president just changed all the ward boundaries in the Lakewood stake.  So my assignment is still up in the air.  I will still be going to Lakewood, just not sure where.  Hopefully, I can help start the "un-sisterizing" of the sister area.
LakeHOOD.  The zone has some pretty rough areas.  More southcentral LA then even Bremerton.  The sisters area of course, is the only nice area in the zone, with nice big houses.  But that might all be changing.  So who knows what'll happen.  I got too used to the ghetto.  Even the violence.  Alright so the murderer is still on the loose. But he has got some competition.  Within the last week a 3rd grade boy brought a gun to school and shot a girl in his class and the very next morning a WA state trooper was shot in the head and killed.  We were visiting a recent convert family in the ward and before we even stepped foot in the door, their 8yr old son burst out and shouted "A kid in my class shot the girl I sit next to today at my school!!!"  His mom woke up that morning with the feeling like she should keep her kids home from school that day.  Good thing she did!  Last we heard she is still in critical condition after being life-flighted to a hospital in Seattle.  Don't know much about the trooper other than he knocked on some druggie on parole's door and he was greeted with a bullet.
The sisters that are coming in to replace us are pretty awesome.  Sister Grenfell has been out 7.5 months and has spent her entire mission in Tacoma and Sister Villatoro has been out a couple transfers.  She speaks spanish which is a huge blessing because they probably won't be bringing Spanish elders back to Btown for a while.
Alright are you all ready for the MIRACLE of the century!???  We are baptizing Mark.  Wait, are we baptizing Mark?  YESSSSSS!!!!! Ok, I know you probably don't even know in the slightest how big of a deal this is...but this is HUGE.  Remember I had a hunch he was the reason we needed to stick around Bremerton for one more week?  Well I was right!!  We dropped him in January after he stopped returning our calls and never answered his door.  He told us the last time we saw him that he was hating his life so much that he was going to take his stuff and go live under the Manette bridge.  So this past week we scowered the city.  Literally looking for him under the bridges, on any street we have ever known him to frequent, and every little homeless gathering spot we knew of.  His phone was disconnected and we had no way of getting a hold of him or knowing where he might be.  We even started to assume the worse, that he was dead somewhere.  We asked our whole zone to pray for us that we would find him.  The very next morning he calls us!!!  I have never felt so much joy.  WOW.  He invited us to come over that night and we brought our DL Elder Gowans and reinvited him to be baptized.  He accepted the invitation and Elder Gowans interviewed him right then.  He looked so good!  He used to have kinda long hair.  When he greeted us out on the sidewalk as we were walking up to his house, I noticed right away that he got a haircut.  He said when he's ready to be baptized he would cut his hair.  He seemed happy.  He seemed healthier.  He seemed more alive.  He seemed HOPEFUL. He was none of those things when I first met him.  So he was my unicorn.  My never catchable, mythical, just within my grasp investigator.  Except now he is getting baptized.  I met him my last night of my first transfer in the area and he is getting baptized tomorrow, my last night of my last transfer in the area.  MIRACLE!!!!  Everyone pray for him that it all goes down.
A lesson that I relearned this week was :don't worry about things you can't control.  So much time and energy is spent wasted on worrying.  Fretting.  Getting anxious. Doesn't do a whole lot of anything.
Updates on other former investigators, recent converts:
Tim: I wrote him a letter last week, hope he is doing well.
Taylor:  Sadly, he hasn't been going to church.  The sisters are having a hard time getting in to teach his parents
Brandon: Hasn't really been going either
Dani: after we passed her off to the ZL's she hasn't been progressing
Franz: (who I found out later from Sister Holman that his name is actually  like Phonz or something) has fallen off the face of the earth.
Well, I hope that all is well in Zion (Encinitas).  Sounds like everyone is doing well. The mission still continues to have its ups and downs, hopefully this next transfer will continue to swing upward.  I will hit my 9month mark this week on March 1st!!! I think if it went any slower I would die and if it went any faster I would have regrets.  So it is just at the right pace.  If any of you have any favorite talks by President Kimball would you print them and send them to me?  I love him.  Next time you hear from me, I'll be in an entirely new place.  This will be the first time I've left Kitsap County in my entire mission! Wish me luck!
Sister Baylon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

choose to be happy by choosing Him

Hey guys.  How was everyone's week.  Mine was sick.  Literally sick.  I came down with something Wednesday night leaving me with the chills, bodyaches, headaches, sore throat, stuffy nose, and cough.  When I woke up Thursday morning I felt really hot but Welch took my temperature and it said 97.4 so she figured I was good.  Is that normal to be below 98.6?  Anyway, all I felt like having was light blue gatorade and popsicles and saltines.  So that whole day I slept in 1.5 increments.  I would sleep.  Wake up.  Sip some gatorade, eat a popsicle, and then konk out again on the couch.  I felt sick from Wednesday night to Saturday night.  On Saturday I got a call from Sister Balmforth who is serving in my old Silverdale area.  She had called to ask me something and sounded terrible.  I asked her if she was sick and told her that I was sick, too.  We had been sick with the same symptoms and for the same days.  So we got the brilliant idea to go on a "sick shifty."  Welch and I got permission from President to drive to Silverdale where Balmforth and I would stay home sick together and Sister Welch and Balmforth's companion could go out and do some work.  We went over to Sister Grave's house and hung out there for a few hours.  I swear, just crossing into Silverdale city limits lifted my spirits and I even felt physically better.  So fun to see them.
We had to head back to Manette in time for our baptism!! It was a good thing I conserved all my strength that day so that I could attend the baptism of our golden investigator, Peggy.  Wow.  Talk about a lifetime convert.  We really tried to make her baptism a special and sacred experience and a little less "McDonaldized" that some of the other baptisms that usually happen in Bremerton.  I mean we talk and teach and promise about baptism with these investigators for so long and then we end up having these rushed and impersonal baptisms that aren't really that memorable.  So I wanted to get back to how I used to do them in Silverdale and really make them an event to remember for those getting baptized.  Peggy is such a special lady.  She signed my testimony journal and wrote that Sister Welch and I literally saved her life and that she is eternally grateful for the service we rendered to her.  Everything about Peggy from the time we found her to the lessons we had with her to her fellowship to her baptism to her conversion and testimony was just perfectly timed and orchestrated by the Lord.  We watched it all come together so seamlessly.  MIRACLE.
Yes, the murderer is still loose somewhere on the west side of Bremerton.  At least everything that has happened has been on that side of town and on the other side of the bridge.  President Weaver though has finally now come to the point where he asked us if we feel like we should be taken out even sooner than transfers this next Wednesday.  At first we were immediately thinking yes.  Our work here was finished.  We did what we came here to do.  Let's leave.  He asked us to think about it on Sunday and pray about it.  Sunday night we went to the chapel and individually prayed about the decision.  After we both felt like we had come to a conclusion we shared with eachother what we thought we should do.  Welch said she would be ok with leaving.  So it was a surprise to me that the answer I received was that there was still work here that we needed to do.  It wasn't finished.  I sat in silence as a blankly stared ahead contemplating what that might be.  Or who it might be.  We baptized our teaching pool.  All of our other investigators had dropped us.  I guess we could just tract all day for the elders.  But then that trickled back to avoid being out on the streets as much as possible.  The thought came to my mind to look up the hymns that were posted up on the wall that the Bremerton ward had sung that day in Sacrament.  3 out of 4 songs were about the Prophet Joseph Smith.  I thought about the signifcance of his life and the work that he did.  The physical peril that he faced and endured.  I read the line in "Joseph Smith's First Prayer":
When the powers of sin asailing, filled his soul with deep despair,
Yet undaunted still he trusted in his Heav'nly Father's care
I felt that Heavenly Father was telling me that while evil and harm is swirling all around me that if I trusted in Him, He would protect us for another week.  Wow.  Not exactly the answer I was expecting.  But we went with it.  We called President Weaver and told him our decision to stay here one more week.  He seemed surprised but relieved that we were not afraid or too worried.  If anything I was just anxious and a little annoyed that we were staying because we have nothing to do.  Go out finding all day for a week, only to hand them all over to the elders.  But I know that if that's what he needs me to do, then we have to do it.  There is one investigator, Mark, that I would love to see baptized before we leave.  He was ondate to be baptized around Christmas time but relapsed with his alcohol addiction and felt unworthy and discouraged to keep coming back to church.  Well he showed up a couple Sundays ago which was a huge miracle.  I had dropped off a hobo bag at his door and wrote a note that said, "we haven't given up on you, so don't give up on yourself."  He has lost hope, which is the driving force behind any little drop of faith. HOPEfully we'll be able to see him this week.
I know I can relate to the feelings he is feeling.  I have felt so much heartache, sorrow, frustration, and hopelessness here in Bremerton.  It all started with becoming lax or complacent in my dilligence.  My dilligence in saying prayers everyday, in reading the scriptures, in being exactly obedient, in working hard everyday all day.  I think I reached this really high height on my mission.  I was seeing a lot of success.  I was becoming "learned and wise" in my knowledge of the gospel and the scriptures.  Skills needed to be a successful missionary were coming easy for me.  I began to become prideful.  I forgot the counsel of Ammon to boast not of myself but of my God.  I wouldn't publicly boast.  But I was proud in my heart.  I stopped studying really hard and started writing in my journal or doing other still good things.  I began to loathe companion study because I felt like it was an hour that I was just teaching my comp and I wasn't getting anything out of it.  I became more selfish.  I started gradually becoming less and less exactly obedient.  Going to bed at 10:45.  Writing letters not on Pdays.  Seemingly petty and inconsequential infractions to the rules.  It all snowballed and I soon had what the real root of pride is: enmity.  Enmity or hostility or hatred towards God or others.  What once was an equally yoked team then started to feel like I was the one carrying my companion.  My will and desires that were once completely flush with God's would become combative.  I never ever ever intended it to get that bad or go that far.  I don't think anyone really ever does with any sin.  Yes, pride is a sin.  Last time we emailed, I had a little time left over and so I went to LDS.org.  I felt like I should search "President Ezra Taft Benson" in the search bar.  I immediately clicked on his talk entitled, "Beware of Pride."  Read it.  It was the spark that would begin the change and repentance process in me to forsake my pride and return to being an obedient disciple.
There is this quote I also found that I love by Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
"Hope is a particularly needed in the hand-to-hand combat required to put off the natural man.  Giving up on God and on onself constitutes simultaneous surrender to the natural man."
Ouch.  If you are not familiar with the natural man.  King Benjamin in the book of Mosiah teaches us the "natural man is an enemy to God."  In the context of the scriptures natural refers to fallen.  Fallen in the sense that we are subject to sin and choosing to sin with our gift of agency.  I don't want to be an enemy to God.  I never did want to be one.  I never will want to be one.  The rest of the verse tells us that we can overcome the natural man within each of us through the atonement of Christ and become like a child; submissive, meek, full of love, longsuffering, willing to submit to whatever the Lord seeith fit to inflict, like a child doth submit to his father.  I raise a warning voice and one of invitation :  The only way to be happy is to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.  True, lasting, unmatched happiness and joy only comes through and in the Savior and being obedient to his commandments.  Period.  Anything else will just give you a fleeting, temporary, water-downed version of contentment.  Choose to be happy by choosing HIM.
I love you guys,
Sister Baylon

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

''it's the only true church''

So I know I'm not really supposed to say "Dude" as a missionary but DUDDDDDDEEEE.  If this week had a face I would punch it.  I contemplated jumping off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  Maybe something would save me, because nothing could save our investigators this week.  Someone told me that if you eat a maple bar, slurpee, and some hot cheetos that 7 investigators will drop you in one week. Or was it the other way around?  Last time I checked there are only 7 days in a week so if I did the math correctly...that is ONE A DAY.  Let's just say, it was rough. The tears were falling as heavy as the rain.  Ok, enough with the emo rant.
Who wants to hear a dog story? Right on.  So it's been a while since I gave a good canine fireside chat.  So our golden of all golden investigator, Peggy, who I recently nicknamed Deviled Peggs because she ignored our phone calls, voicemails, texts, and doorbell rings for 4 days straight....was not baptized on Sunday.  She was so by the book golden it was too good to be true.  So when she cancels our appointment and then doesn't get back to us for nearly a week, we whipped out the black clothes, lit a candle and held a vigil to mourn the loss of our golden girl.  Jk.  But we really did get worried.  So it was the fourth night that we hadn't heard back from her and we figured we had nothing left to lose by going over to her house and banging down the door like it was on fire.  It was my turn to say a quick prayer in the car before we went in to her apt building.  I remember asking for some way that we could get through to Peggy and to help us recognize what that is.  I open the door and get out.  A car pulls up and parallel parks behind us.  A young mom with a toddler age son begins unloading bags and bags of groceries. Lightbulb goes off.  This must be Peggy's nextdoor neighbor she was telling us about.  If we help her bring in her groceries, maybe God will let us talk to Peggy. (I know what a Heathen thought) Anyway!  She actually agrees to let us help.  No one.  And I say NO ONE ever lets us help them bring in groceries even if it's obvious that they need help.  But we don't need to be told yes twice and we head with her upstairs.  She unlocks the door and invites us inside to drop off the bags on the kitchen table.  Sis Welch goes in and I wait by the door.  Just as the lady tells us that she is dogsitting her friend's palmeranian it goes running towards the door in a pink lampshade of a head cone.  For some reason I feel like I should move out of the way and let the dog run out the door.  Against all reason and logic, but I go with it.  So here goes the dog in a cone running outside in the dark down to the waterfront.  Greaattt.  So the lady, her 2 yr old son, and Sis Welch and I go taking off after this dumb dog named "Polka Puppy" and spend no joke like 30 min trying to catch it.  It was snarling and showing teeth so we were in no rush to grab at it bare handed.  I get the idea to tell the lady to take off her sweatshirt and throw it over the dog like a sheet.  It works and we catch the blasted thing.  Meanwhile the whole gallavant around the neighborhood trying to catch this cotton ball on wheels shreeking like we were trying to scalp it, was causing enough noise and ruckus that it woke Peggy up and when we walked back up to her apartment after catching the dog, she answered the door!! Wahoooooooooo.  MIR...AH...CULL.  Turns out she ate some tainted prawns at a chinese buffet and she had been sick for the past week in the bathroom or in bed.  And we thought that she hated us!  She came to church yesterday, we taught her at a member's home and she is back on date to be baptized this Saturday.  Polka Puppy strikes again.
The fitness plan is going pretty well.  I can't really tell if I have lost any weight yet but I feel a lot more energized.  Actually, surprisingly my waist is where I've slimmed down.  Mom, I'm taking after you running in the morning and eating oatmeal with fruit for breakfast.  We have been doing a lot of outside finding and street contacting.  Bremerton is extremely hilly so it takes about 2 hours to walk 3 miles.  Add a heavy wool coat and a backpack full of copies of the Book of Mormon and you got yourself a recipe for sweat-success. 
Nasty food story.  I ate roadkill for dinner yesterday.  Well, Brother Venison-lover, the one that has never fed me anything but game meat, didn't fail to impress yesterday when he unveiled a venison/elk meatloaf.  Ohhkkaaaayyyyy.  Yikes.  I took the tiniest piece possible.  Had to save room on my plate for green beans, baked beans, and olives.  Hm.
So remember the kinda bloody story I told last email about the dead lady the elders found?  Well...the coroner's autopsy ruled it a homicide.  Her throat was slit.  They are tying the murder to a string of murders and stabbings that have been happening all around Bremerton.  There have been 3 murders by most likely the same guy since I have been in the area.  The police finally just released a sketch of what the guy looks like and have them posted all around the city.  The craziest thing is is that I think we passed him walking on the street one day.  It was in the morning and we were walking on a main road trying to street contact people.  He didn't say hi back.  The guy is a psycho killer, even has killed people in the middle of the day.  Don't freak out or anything.  I think the whole town is doing enough of that.  They are saying that the sales of guns in Bremerton have doubled over the past couple weeks.  I guess people are not sparing any costs to feel safe.  I got a pepper spray keychain, my companion, and the Holy Ghost.  Better than any automatic weapon.
I experienced my first real Mormon-hate/prejudice/discrimination.  This irate black guy in a tank top and weight vest (that looked like a cross between a life jacket and something a fly fisherman would wear) came up to us while we were visiting his neighbor below him for a teaching appointment.  Her kids were sick so she didn't want us to come inside so we talked to her at the door.  He came down and started saying all these things to us which we ignored and went marching himself all the way to the manager's office.  Brings a maintenance guy back with him and has him ask us to leave.  The maintenance guy saw no problem with us being there and this about set the black guy on a rampage to start cracking skulls.  We leave the situation after he storms off.  About an hour later our investigator calls us back telling us that the manager called her in to basically interrogate her about what just happened.  The guy made up this outlandish and obscene story about us harassing everyone in the complex and all this junk he pulled out of nowhere.  The manager told our investigator that Mormons are no longer allowed on the premises.  Diane, the investigator, who doesn't really owe us anything, defended us and the church and asked to see a posted law that would prohibit us from coming to visit her.  The manager can totally get penalized by law for banning us, am I right?  Well it put Diane in tears, she got really upset and frazzled about being put in the crossfire and now she is too scared to call us back because she doesn't want to get her or her family kicked out of the place.  How wrong is that picture?  The ironic thing was that right before all this happened, Diane asked us, "Why is it that only your church seems to have such active opposition?"  I told her, "It's because it's the only true church.  Why would Satan waste his time trying to overthrow a church that was only part or half true?  He is not about to sit back and let more and more of God's children find the truth."  Bold but had to be done.
Bremerton has been quite the trip.  Transfers are coming up two weeks from today.  A little bird told me that the sisters are getting doubled out of Manette. Who knows where we'll go...
Sis Baylon

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

God is mindful of everyone

Hey guys!
Man. I am exhausted!!! We spent all day in Tacoma doing a bunch of stuff.  I had to go down to take a "driver's training course" for that ticket I got 3 transfers ago.  I told President Weaver that I get carsick really bad riding shotgun trying to make phone calls and look at our planners and navigate.  Apparently he is the same way, so he gave me my blue card back almost immediately after Elder Quigley (car manager) had taken it away.  Wahoo!!  But I had to go down and watch an hr and 15 min long driving video and answer all these questions on a worksheet and then take a test on what I watched.  Hmm.  Tiny, tiny TV and a video from 1978.  It was painful.  But worth it, because now I am totally rid of that awful ticket and everything that came with it!  We took advantage of being in Tacoma and went shopping down there.  They have an H&M and a 2-story Forever21 so I spent most of the Christmas cash that I had been saving for a rainy day.  Lucky for us, the past few days have been really sunny!  Like 50's-60's during the day.  So niiicceee.  We are pooped from all that shopping.  Funny how a couple hours of that will knock you out yet we can go all day doing missionary work.  Goes to show that God supports righteous causes.  I guess shopping for clothes and things at Target doesn't really qualify. But it sure did boost our spirits!
So I am going to get on the Encinitas ward for not making Mormon.org profiles!! What's up with that, guys?  We use Mormon.org with people we meet tracting and our investigators and they always like to see people from our hometown's profiles.  I totally thought there would be more from Encinitas.  You guys are all so awesome and unique, the world needs to know about it.  So shout out to Brother Townsend!! Haha his was one of this first ones to pop up. Kudos to him.
Mom, a few emails back you told me that really cute story about the elders running back to their apt to get the "penguin" tupperware.  Hahah I LOVED that story because that same exact things happens to us here in Btown.  This 86 yr old widow, who's grandson is serving in the Carlsbad mission (he's currently in San Juan Capistrano.  Name is Elder Shirley.  Ask your elders if they know him), always makes us little treats and promises us that if we return the tupperware that she'll fill it up with something new to snack on.  She usually fills it with THE best chocolate minty fudgy brownies ever.  SO GOOD. 
So the other sister missionaries in our zone have a lady in their ward that made a bunch of "hobo" bags.  Giant ziplock bags filled with hats, scarves, gloves, toothbrushes, snacks, etc. that the sisters could keep in the trunk of their car to give out to homless people.  Well, their area is pretty nice so they gave the hobo bags to us.  Plenty of hobos all around Btown.  Or people that you might mistake as hobos.  So it has been really fun handing them out to people.  So far we have given away 5 bags.  None to random hobos but to less fortunate kids/families in the ward or investigators that we are teaching.  It's crazy how excited kids get over some gloves and a toothbrush.
We have been running!! Yeah we are taking our health seriously.  So despite the pitchblackness, freezing mornings, and earliness and pain of the alarm going off after it feels like you have been asleep for 10min we have made it out like 4 times this past week to hit the streets and run.  Sister Welch went from despising running to semi-hating to tolerating running.  She loves the way it makes her feel AFTERWARDS.  But during the run she doesn't enjoy herself too much.  Therefore, she appointed me to be the course designer.  Each time we go out running I map the course and she follows.  I usually start brainstorming the day before and recap the course the night before as we are getting into bed.  We have been progressively adding more and more distance on to the runs and more hills.  Saturday's run we ran almost 3 miles and the course was pretty hilly.  Sister Welch stops and walks for a while and I run ahead and then double back.  She says her knees cause her pain and sometimes she tastes blood when she's breathing hard.  Hmm. Not good.  But I am starting to love running.
Alright so my little calling that I have in the Bremerton Zone is "Madame Miracle."  Any time a miracle happens in any of the areas in the zone, the missionaries are supposed to call me and tell me about it and then I send out a mass miracle text to the rest of the zone to inspire, pump up, and entertain us all.  It's so fun.  Haha I love my calling.  I try to make it as funny as possible so that incase people are having a hard day, that the miracle text will make them laugh and not feel bad or upset that they haven't had a miracle. SO...the other day, one of my ZL's calls to tell me a bunch of miracles that happened to them.  Just amazing, amazing stuff.  So I am thinking about what I am going to say and what little funny quips I could make up.  Then he tells me that there was a really weird/scary thing that happened to them that night.  So they were out tracting and they were driving to another street than the one they were on.  They make a U-turn and in the glow of their headlights they see this lady laying face down in on the ground in front of her house.  Weird.  So after waiting a couple seconds they notice that she wasn't moving.  At all.  So they quickly pull over and see what's the matter.  A middle-aged lady was laying in the middle of her walkway face down with a pool of blood under her face.  Yikes.  There were bags of groceries all around her.  It looked as if she has just gotten home.  The elders noticed that there was a bloody handprint on the railing by the door and the lady still wasn't moving so they called 911.  The dispatcher told them they were going to need to turn her over and check her breathing.  So they did.  She wasn't.  A little while later the ambulance comes.  They pronouce her dead on the scene. AGHHHHH!!!  The police roll up and have to get a full report and witness from the elders about everything that happened.  So apparently she slipped and fell.  Hit her head.  Got up and felt that she had cut her head open reached for the railing and then collapsed on the ground.  Then she bled out.  So saddddd!!!  It was a miracle though that on this random quiet street the missionaries happen to be there and notice her so that she could be taken care of properly and not lay their the whole night.  Sorry that was such a gruesome story, but I thought it was yet another testament that God is mindful of everyone and that His missionaries are His hands in many instances.
There are a lot of different nationalities out here in Washington, particularly Bremerton because it is a navy town.  So you would think that people wouldn't be shocked to see me walking down the street.  We were at this older couple's house, both members of the church, and we were there for dinner.  The man was talking about some historical figure.  I have heard his name but couldn't tell you a thing about him.  His wife was like "Ralph, the girls wouldn't know that.  That's wayyy before their time."  He replies, "Sure they would have learned it in history class."  Then he points to Sis Welch "Well, she might've."  Then he points to me.  "Well, she probably wouldn't have down in South America..."  Wait, what??  I was like "Ummm....I'm from Southern CALIFORNIA.  Not South America!!"  Hahaha.  Man...people these days.  Apparently they thought I was from Ensenada and not Encinitas.  Which is also a faulty statement because Ensenada is in Mexico.  Ay yay yayyyy.......
We cleaned another squalored home this weekend.  We visited this new family that semi-recently moved into the ward.  Oh my goodness.  It was badddd..So I volunteered Sis Welch and I to come back this past Saturday for a couple hours to do some service and help them clean their house.  It's a mom and her 3 kids.  (11yr old boy with aspbergers, an 8 yr old boy, and a 15mo. old girl)  The first time we went over there the 8yr old started frantically picking up things off the floor, stacking dishes and tidying up for us.  It was the cutest and saddest thing ever at the same time.  So of couse he was  the biggest help when we came back and cleaned.  He and his brothers helped us clean while the mom tackled a giant heap of mail, bills, and papers on their desk.  No joke, their living room looked like you took a 50 lb.bag of bread crumbs, and cracker crumbs, and any other kind of crumb and sprinkled them all over the carpet like you would potting soil.  Out of control!  They don't have a working vaccuum so they have been using a broom.  Not sure that was working out so well.  So we gave them one of our vaccuums.  We had two.  It took me an hour to vaccuum a room that was probably about 12ftx12ft.  The Oreck vaccuum was the real hero of the day.  That thing picked up stuff I wouldn't dare touch.  And I picked up an old pizza crust that I found underneath the couch with my bare hands!  Sis Welch did the kitchen ( I didn't dare go in there).  It took her an hour just to clean the stove top.  After it was all said and done the place looked great, we felt great, the kids got to help, and everyone was happy all around.
I am continuing on in my reading of the Book of Mormon and am in Mosiah.  There is a really great part in I believe chapter 24 about "cheerfully submitting ourselves and bearing our trials with patience."  It might be worth checking out.
We are surviving the cold and the loving the scattered sunshine.  Thanks Grandpa Ted for thinking about me always.  You are such a good GranPaww.  Sis Welch and I cling to this HappiLight that a lady in our ward is letting us borrow.  And we're having a good time doing the work out here, despite a lot of hardship we've both faced lately.  So we're good.  Keep on keeping on.  Haha.
Love you guys,
Sister Baylon
ps. we didn't even know it was the superbowl until Saturday.  Shows how much we are in the world.  We didn't tract during the superbowl cause we had a lesson w/an investigator instead. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

a letter from sister baylon...

Hey everyone,
How's everyone doing?  Let's just all take a second and breathe.  A second is about how long we get to catch our breath out here.  Not a whole lot of time to ponder life or sit still.  It can be very taxing.  I thought last week was the hardest week of my mission.  No.  This past week was.  I won't even get into it.  Some things can only be understood by missionaries and those that have served missions.  Let's just say that missions are HARD.
Thank you to whoever sent me the DearElder package with all those treats!  There wasn't a note mentioning who it was from so I thought I would acknowledge the gesture!  I am trying to cut back the treats so I shared most of it with the elders.  But I have to admit that the night I opened the box I ate the skittles and hundred grand bar for dinner.  Also...sis Brazier! Thank you for writing me!  My zone leaders forgot to give me the letter that you sent when they picked up mail from the mission office.  It has been sitting in their apt since Christmas!  I was reading it and wondering why you were going to get a Christmas tree.  I will have to write you back as soon as I get a chance.  Go Bev, make those cute swimsuits!
We have been teaching this way prepared lady named Peggy.  We found her tracting last Sunday night.  It was raining, no surprise there.  I had forgotten my umbrella. It was 6:50.  Not going to lie, I was very tempted to end our tracting and cut it short by ten minutes.  Sis Welch encouraged me onward.  It was a good thing that we did because within the next 5 minutes we knocked into Peggy.  Rather she stood at her door waiting for us.  We walked into these rickety old apartment buildings that missionaries and locals refer to as the "easter eggs."  Just the worst looking pastel colored apartments.  Back in the day they were housing for the officers in the Navy.  Now they are kinda cool/vintage apartments that Bremerton's finest are free to rent.  Anyway, we knock on a couple doors on the bottom of the first 4apt building.  The first one didn't answer and the next person only talked to us through the door and told us that they were not interested.  We proceed upstairs and are greeted by Peggy standing in her doorway with the door open. (Have I already told this story?)  She leaves her door ajar so that her cats can come in and out as they please throughout the day.  Just so happens that while the door was left cracked, she heard us talk to her downstairs neighbor about the church and that we were missionaries inviting people to come unto Christ.  This intrigued Peggy.  At 58 years old, Peggy is divorced and has no friends or family in the area.  No job.  Nothing to do. Flash forward to now, she has come to church had 3 lessons and tonight we are having a lesson with her in a member's home.  God has prepared her to receive us and it is obvious.  She is very inquisitive yet she doesn't fight us on the doctrine or what we teach.  She says that it just "makes sense."  She tried reading the BOM on her own and got very discouraged and frustrated.  When your investigator actually does their reading assignment, you definitely do not shrug it off and move on to the lesson and pat them on the back real quick.  You check for their understanding you ask them questions.  You act like it is a big deal.  Because IT IS.  So luckily, we didn't just move on to teach the lesson that we had prepared but we took the entire hour we had scheduled to read 1 Nephi 1 with her.  She LOVED it.  We were able to pause and break down each of the verses and teach her so many basic principles of the gospel with her.  So neat.  I feel way priviliged to teach her.
Second highlight of the week, so on Friday was this leadership training meeting that was held in the Tacoma stake center.  Brethren from Salt Lake were coming and it was not going to be open to the whole mission.  Brother Drubet, the Director of Media for the church was coming along with Brother Donaldsen who was the former president of the California San Diego mission.  Brother Drubet not only is in charge of the Mormon.org media campaigns, wrote Preach My Gospel with the help of the prophet and the apostles, but he produced the District training DVDs that the missionaries from the past 5 years or so have been using as key study and training guides in the mission.  Brother Donaldsen was the mission president of the 8 missionaries that are featured in the District 2 DVDs.  (Moms, ask your sons if they used them.  Then tell them that I met famous people. Haha) So anyway.  It was way cool that of all the sister missionaries, President Weaver invited only four sisters and Sister Welch and I were 2 of them.  The other two sisters weren't even from the same companionship, they came on splits.  So the fact that Welch and I both got to come was a pretty big deal.  All the ZL's were invited but then only a select few DL's were invited.  The meeting was all day from 9-4 and they went over some really cool trainings.  President Weaver announced some pretty radical changes that will shake up the mission for sure.  We'll see how receptive and obedient the missionaries will be towards them.
The health resolution is coming along.  It's way hard.  We eat waaaayy too much sugar.  Everyday.  That is by far the hardest hurdle.  We went running this morning.  Just a mile outside but with two pretty substantial hills.  Sister Welch was having some trouble breathing.  She hates running.  After studying we met the whole zone down in Port Orchard for some Frolf.  Aka Frisbee golf.  There are some people that have their own 18-hole course out in their giant acreage of land of a yard.  It was the first time I had ever played. WAY fun.  We had 3 groups of five players and we had fun navigating the course.  It was huge!  We were throwing discs through the forest.  Up hills, through dense trees, over ravines.  It was so cool.  Washington is the coolest place.  Yes, if you have some recipes for healthy, not too expensive, yummy meals, send them my way.  I told myself that I wasn't going to eat out today with the zone.  Sure enough they wanted to go to Wendy's after frisbee.  I compromised and went and got a small cup of chili and a plain baked potato.  Under 500 calories.  Oh the sacrifice of being healthy.
Mom, Longview is in southern Washington.  Closer to Portland.  It's in the Kennewick mission.  That stinks about members not helping out!  But you'll find that somewhere anywhere you go.  And yes, Sis Welch loves scarves, too.  I helped introduce her to the notion of looking like someone that lives in 2012.  She thought that Sister missionaries were just supposed to look ugly and frumpy.  Her style was way more Utah when I first met her and know it's calmed down quite a bit.
Quote of the week: "The chains of habit are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken."  If you have a bad habit, kick it.  And if you want to start a good habit, stick with it!
Sis Baylon