Sister Baylon with her favorite Zone Leader, Elder Njord.
Some of Sister Baylon's favorite sister missionaries in the WA-TAC mission.
Greetings from LakeHOOD. Haha, Steliacoom is hardly the hood but it is not as nice as I was expecting it to be. It is a lot like my first area in Silverdale so I guess in comparison to Manette it is really nice. I was picturing every home to be gated estates. Nope, that is more of the Gig Harbor area. Anyway, just trying to get adjusted. As far as my new address just send things to the mission home. I have my address here but I don't know how much longer we'll be here. There might be a mid-transfer transfer to a new area that President is going to double us into. That might be in a week it could be a month, we're not sure. So to be on the safe side just send it to the address in University Place.
The baptism for Mark was amazing. Just night and day difference in his countenace. Look up Alma 5 and it talks about having a mighty change of heart and the face of the Lord being engraven in our countenances. Mark truly is a changed man. Such an honor and a privilige to have found, taught, and baptized him. The field is so white and ready to harvest. I'm in the business of happiness and eternal families.
The work here is very different then my other two areas. Soooo many baptisms come from finding part-member families (PMF's) and unbaptized childen (UBC's) from the ward list. We are teaching around 15 investigators and they are all mostly from either of those two categories. Which is really different for me. Usually all of my teaching pool and baptisms have come from full-time finding or tracting. Goes to show that there is so much work to be done that the members can help with!
Where to even begin. Alright, the area has so many families from HI its so great! Remember me talking about the Stowers family? Well, they are here! I LOVE them. Such a fun, spiritual, loving family. They're Samoan so of course they are gonna love you up with food. Last time we walked out of their house after just stopping by to say hi they gave us a bunch of Yoplait yogurt, strawberries, and bananas. We're gonna jam with them tonight for Family Home Evening. Brother Stowers plays the uke and all their kids sing. So fun.
There is a legendary Hawaiian family here in the ward named the Agors. A home of about 18-20 people which is about 4 different families living under the same roof. The head of that household is Papa Agor who is the funniest guy ever. Everyone in the family is a some combination or mix of japanese, hawaiian, filipino, chinese, all that good stuff. He looks like a skinny buddha. Nice shiny bald head that he invited me to rub for good luck the first time i met him. He calls me haole filipino because I'm pretty white these days and I don't eat most filipino food. Haha. Until just recently, most of the family were non-members with Papa Agor and his kids being the only members. So the kids' spouses and their kids were all unbaptized. They were all pretty less active with no interest in the gospel or coming back until a tragedy struck their family. Maude Agor, or Mama, died suddenly and this completely devastated the entire family. I could tell by the way that they revere her name and speak of her now that she really was the backbone to that family. Spiritually, emotionally, financially. She was everyone's rock. I guess when she was alive she would plead with Papa to help their kids and their grandkids to get back to the gospel. Papa talks of his regret that it took her passing away for their family to get their business in order.
I guess missionaries had tried for years to work with their family and had some success with a couple baptisms of the grandkids but most of the family was resistant. This past November was when Mama passed away and then came the rest of the family entering the waters of baptism. Celio, Ka'a'wi, Ka'e'o, Kalei, Wilma, Hoku, Devin, Daelyn, Keanu, and Joel all made the decision to follow the Savior. Sister Welch was one of the lucky sister missionaries that got to teach them when they all made that decision to finally accept the gospel. There are still a couple family members left that we are working with that have not yet been baptized. Ashley, 20, believes that the church is true, she just is hesistant jumping on the family baptism bandwagon. One of the grandkids and his gf and soon to be wife and investigating the church so we are teaching them as well. Marriage-tism! But the most special of them all is an 11yr old girl named Pohai. She is 95-98% deaf as a result of being born prematurely. By a miracle, my companion Sister Jensen studied ASL in college so she is able to teach her. But she is not fluent, especially with gospel terms so it has been quite the challenge to communicate with her. When I first met the family, I felt like I had so much to catch up on. One, learning all their names! But more importantly, gaining their trust and respect. The sisters that had worked with them through their baptisms had been with them for a long time and I felt like a newcomer trying to fill some pretty big shoes. The first couple times I saw Pohai she didn't really want to even try to communicate with me or even really look at me. I felt pretty frustrated not being able to talk to her because I can't sign. I had the idea yesterday to bring the last two hair clips that Grandpa bought me from HI and give them to Pohai. It worked like a charm. She played with me the whole night and really had fun laughing at my inability to sign.
I guess it is tradition that every Sunday night the missionaries go over to the Agor home and have scripture study and "talk story." So at their big long family table we all gathered round and read from the Book of Mormon and made insights and comments. Sister Jensen invited us each to take a turn and share a time when a prayer of mine was answered. I felt very strongly to share my experience of praying for comfort and relief when Grandma Margaret passed away earlier in my mission. I told them of the kind of woman that she was and the legacy that she left behind. She sounded a lot like their Mama Agor. The spirit was very present and I could feel Grandma around me as I know the Agors felt their Grandma, mom, and wife. Not a dry eye in the place. Afterwards we had siemen, spam musube, and a DQ ice cream cake. One of the best nights of my life. I guess it is a little ironic to hear in almost all my emails/letters from you guys this week all talked about Grandma Margaret and here I had such a powerful experience with her at the forefront of my mind. The Lord is so mindful of all of us and what we're going through.
I want to close with this quote by my favorite Presidnet Spencer W. Kimball:
"One time or another we all face adversity's chilling wind. One man flees from it, and like an unresisting kite falls to the ground. Another yields no retreating inch, and the wind that would destroy him lifts him as readily to the heights. We are not measured by the trials we meet, only by those we overcome."
I feel like I have been through a constant refiner's fire. That is what a mission does. It is what the gospel is. Being perfected through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am trying to find the silver lining in every situation that is placed before me as an opportunity to grow and become more like the Savior. I am trying to think more along the lines of that He trusts me enough to handle this trial and come out better from it. We are His hands.