Monday, April 23, 2012

Hey errrbody.
I am apologizing in advance for how short this email is.  I am super tired!  We woke up at 5:55 am to do the Insanity! workout with our district. Haha wow...Baylon is out of shape.  Driving around in a car for a year will do that to you.  My comp and I are really going to try to workout more regularly so we aren't so sleepy during that dreaded 2pm slump where your eyelids feel like they weigh 100lbs.
We saw soooo many MIRACLES this week.  Big and small.  We found 3 really solid investigators that I'm really excited to work with.  One of them is this filipino guy named Rolando.  We met him tracting and he was outside working on his car when we walked by his street.  His wife and kids left him a few years ago and he feels really sad and lonely.  He is carrying around a lot of guilt or shame because he feels like maybe it was all his fault.  We taught him about healing and forgiveness through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and that relief can come almost immediately when we call upon His holy name.  We taught him about how to gain access to this power through baptism in His church and he is very interested and coming on a tour of the church.  He asked us why we are walking around just talking to people about helping them.  We told him we do it because we love the Lord and we know that what we teach is true and that it can help people in whatever situation they find themselves in.  He told us we must be angels sent to him to get out of this darkness he has been in. SO COOL.
We turned over our investigator, Teresa, to the spanish elders yesterday.  Couldn't have gone better.  They were so excited to get the referral and to be able to teach the first lesson to such a prepared person.  Even though my spanish is way rusty, I was surprised that I could understand the entire lesson.  There is a scripture in Alma 29:8 that talks about people being taught the gospel in their own language and lands.  It was so beautiful to watch her eyes light up and to see her grasp the simplicity of the gospel in her own tongue.  We are so glad we handed her over. 
Another miracle that we had was that we are finally starting to use some legitimate interpreters that speak ASL for little Pohai.  There is a couple that used to be in our ward that are both deaf.  But amazingly they can speak.  Not really sure how that works.  But the dad served an ASL speaking mission and they are both so excited to help us teach Pohai.  It's so frustrating not being able to communicate with her about anything let alone the gospel, so I can't imagine how it must feel for her to be the only one in her family that is deaf.
We had 12 investigators at church!!! wahoooo! That is a record for me.  In Manette we had 8 and 15 with the two companionships in the one area but never double digits just with us.  MIRACLE.
The work is plugging right along.  It's picking up and our teaching pool is growing daily.  I love my companion and the mission and life are just peachy. 
Love you guys,
Sister Baylon

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

because it is His work

Hi Guys!

Man. Steila-awesome. I love my new comp, Sister Chronister aka "Chronic."  So nice to actually laugh again!  She is from Tuscon, AZ and his been out for 4.5 months.  We were both Silverdale born and bred both spending our first 3 transfers in the mission in Silverdale.  I am her first companion and first new area since her trainer.  And they were best buds so tough shoes to fill.  But we get along great.  She loves Nacho and we have the same taste in music and humor so I'm set.  Plus, she is ready to work hard and willing to sacrifice.  Our 4.5 months that we each spent in Silverdale were really different.  We both worked really hard, were exactly obedient, sacrificed a lot yet saw very different outcomes in measurable success. We're talking baptisms.  She went 15 weeks before she saw a baptism and I had a baptism my very first weekend in the mission.  Such stark differences.  It's not at all a reflection of their lack of trying, if anything, I'm sure they worked even harder than we did.  She is so humble and teachable and willing which is why I am sure Heavenly Father blessed her with such a miracle baptism her last transfer in the area. She is very wise and a good listener.  I respect her a lot. Her companion is dying at the end of this transfer, so my last comp, Jensen will kill her off.

Little triumphs this week:
We went running and worked out with the workout group this morning.
I successfully sewed my first skirt!
It was sunny and beautiful.
I got slurpee with my cool comp and took a nap during lunch on the grass at the park
I made oreo truffles for the Stowers and they ate them like grapes
A lessactive man that we invited to church actually came! a suit on his power scooter!

This week was jampacked with miracles.  We had a baptism yesterday!  A 13 yr old boy named Perry entered the waters of baptism.  I was just thrilled.  I don't think I have mentioned him or his older brother Phillip, 17, too much.  These boys are ridiculously smart.  Like freak genius.  The very first time I met them was at their house for dinner and the topic of conversation (that they instigated) was metaphysics, protons, neutrons, and nuclear reactors.  Hmm. Ok. Not sure if I have ever facebook chatted about that with my friends at that age but they do.  At one point, they both were just looking beyond the mark when we were teaching them.  Their intellect was getting in the way of their willingness to recognize and accept the Spirit prompting them to accept our invitation to be baptized.  They felt like they needed to know more, know everything.  That they would have to be perfect after they were baptized and that they were going to be making a huge commitment and wanted to be more ready to be this entirely different person.  They said that their dad, who lives in another city, wasn't always on the baptism bandwagon so that was another hurdle that we had to clear.  But patience, help from on high, and a conference talk from Elder Russell M. Nelson helped us slam dunk a baptismal commitment from the younger brother, Perry and he was baptized yesterday afternoon.  Such an amazing change to watch his secular knowledge lead him to have a desire and increase in spiritual knowledge.  He realized that they both coincide and that they don't have to be conflicting but rather complimentary.  I didn't get a chance to talk to Phillip after the baptism was over but we are hoping that his heart was pricked by the Holy Ghost and that he will follow suit and be baptized.  Their dad even came to their baptism.  MIRACLE. That was really neat and amazing to see him come out and support his son.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families.

Tracting miracles.  This week has been really awesome weather wise.  Except today its raining.  Of course.  But just about every other day this week was really nice.  So for tracting we were so excited to just head out and walk the streets of Downtownn Old Steilacoom.  It was 6:55.  We were heading back towards our car and we shouted to a lady from across the street telling her who we were and what we do.  Her name is Teresa (not the gringo Ta-ree-sa but with a spanish pronunciation Teresa) and she is from El Salvador.  Probably in her 50's.  She is a nanny for a family that lives in a really nice part of town.  She normally doesn't get off work till later in the evening but that particular night she got off early.  I bet, just so that we could meet with her.  She spoke pretty good english but it was apparent she preferred to speak in Spanish when she realized that both Chronister and I could understand and communicate with her in her native tongue.  We talked with her about the Book of Mormon and she told us that she used to nanny in NY and that she had met with some missionaries there but it was a long time ago.  But she was interested and willing to meet with us so we set up an appointment to go back and teach her.  She actually gave us a working phone number and correct home address so we were thrilled to come back and give her un Libro de Mormon.  After teaching her in her apt, the spirit confirmed to us that even though we could understand her and speak with her, we needed to hand her off to the Lakewood spanish elders so that they could teach her more fluently and that she could become part of a spanish ward. 

Saturday evening we were out tracting and not finding much success.  People weren't that mean but they weren't that nice either.  Last door of the night we knock into a guy named Rudy.  Filipino.  Widower.  Depressed.  Lonely.  Hopeless.  And drunk as a sailor.  Well, he was pretty buzzed.  We didn't know that until we were in his house and he straight up told us.  When he opened the door he immediately asked us to come in.  I looked around to see if there was a lady in the house, as it is a mission rule for there always to be another person of the same gender if we are to enter a home.  I didn't see anyone but I felt like there was the presence of a woman so I boldly walked inside.  I could feel my companion hestiate behind me but followed me in.  Right away he wasted no time in telling us that his wife had passed away 2 years prior and that he lived alone and was very depressed.  Uh oh. My gut reaction was to leave as per the mission rule but for some reason the Spirit prompted me to stay and hear him out.  He offered us a seat and something to drink.  We sat down and he left the rooma and came back with the biggest bottle of whiskey I've ever seen.  He asked us to excuse him because he was going to pour himself another glass, as he had been drinking all day.  It was a miracle.  Everytime he would reach for the bottle, we would teach, testify, or ask him a question and he would forget all about the alcohol and be completely engrossed in what we were saying.  Whenever we would pause or there would be a break in the conversation he would go to reach for the drink and then one of us would say something that would bring him back. I honestly didn't realize this until my comp pointed it out after we had left.  Seeing how depressed he was I got kind of nervous that he might be a little crazy or be someone to do something crazy.  Like kill himself...or us.  I was scanning the room for a gun or something that would pose a threat to someone's life.  At one point I got really freaked out because he reached for something on his back hip like someone would a gun.  I had noticed it was a leather holster looking thing but it turned out it was just a carrier for his phone.  Phew...I should have laid off the cop shows before the mish.  As soon as we wrapped up our brief discussion with him a scheduled a return appointment and we realized that our time with him that night was over, the trance was broken so to speak and he poured himself the biggest glass and drank it down like it was apple juice.  Sad, sad, guy.

The elders quorum in the ward got us a sweet miracle referral.  So they did a less-active blitz a couple weeks ago and went to follow up with this huge list of people or families in the ward that no one had either met or seen before in hopes of meeting them and inviting them back out to church.  Well one of the people that they tried to meet no longer lived at the apt that they had listed for him, but the family that had moved in invited the brothers in for a quick message.  It was a single mom and her two kids.  Apparently we had tracted into them about a week or two before the ward members did and just the kids answered the door.  They said their mom was looking for a church for them to go to and were currently settling with a baptist church.  Mmmm hmmm child.  Baptist churches in Lakewood are bad news bears.  Not exactly on team Mormon missionary.  Their mom wasn't home but they said to come back.  We kind of forgot about them.  Welll....the mom ended up finding a random Book of Mormon in their apt laundry room (probably one that we had planted with one of their neighbors and they dumped it in there) and she snatched it up real quick.  Started leafing through it and was waiting to find someone that would come talk to her about it.  So COOL, eh??? So we are going to go back and follow up with them.  So rad.  Blacktism.....

"When you work for the Lord- the obstacles before you are never as great as the power behind you."  So true.  I cannot believe that my year mark is coming up on June 1, 2012.  Including this transfer, I only have 5 transfers left in the mission.  Ah! What is that even about.  I can't really imagine life outside the mission.  I find joy in fulfilling my purpose as a missionary and serving.  Some of my good, good mission friends are going home this transfer.  Sad day.  All the more reason to squeeze every last drop of every day I have left on my mission.  I have a testimony of this work that I am a part of.  It's the best work that there is.  Because it is His work.

Love you guys,
Sister Baylon

Scott- girls from the ward here are gonna scope your FB
Congrats to all the encinitas kids that are getting/just got married!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Is it Wednesday yet?  Nope, not counting down till transfers or anything.  Actually I am.  I am ready to close this chapter and start anew.  I am staying in Steilacoom! Wahoo!  I actually am excited about that.  President said I'll probably be here a while so probably 3-4 transfers.  I'm ok with that.  It's a great area.  The companion that I am getting is Sister Chronister who is coming from my mission birthplace up in Silverdale.  Her and sister Jensen are actually swapping places, so Jensen will take her spot up North and kill off a dying sister that goes home at the end of this next transfer. (such weird missionary jargon, i know).  So my comp will be a greenie.  Should be good.  Hopefully she works hard and we can make up for a lot of lost time here in Steilacoom.  This past transfer wasn't my best in terms of dilligence or success.  Which I can attribute to obedience.  Partially due to me, partially due to my companion.  Won't dive into details but I am going to be a lot better this time around.
We might as well start off with a good food story.  Well, "good" in terms of the story and not so much "good" in describing the food.  I think it's more than safe to say that I DO NOT LIKE SEAFOOD.  We were tired and hungry and not really wanting to talk to each other, so a dinner with the Barnes family was going to be my saving grace.  I thought in the back of my head just as long as we don't have something weird like oysters, I think I'll be able to call it a good.  So of course we would have oysters....Of course.  But, I have become a food dare devil and I tried everything they put in front of me.  Raw oysters...hmmm. Not so much.  I liked the cooked ones.  Bro. Barnes made them from a Camodian recipe he got from a friend and cooked them out in the grille.  Like chewing on well...something chewy.  Artichoke was next.  Nope, I think I'll stick to artichoke dip from Chili's and not the steamed kind that you eat plain.  Then we had lobster tail.  I am probably describing a delicious meal to many of you, but to me it was a waste of I'm sure a lot of money and some poor lobster's perfectly functioning tail.  Oh, I forgot, as an appetizer I munched down on a Habanero pepper.  I love hot stuff so I figured that I might as well try it.  Hot dannng it was hot.  And of course I didn't think to take the seeds out.  Within seconds the entire right side of my tongue was numb.  Made the rookie mistake of licking my lips and then set those babies on fire too.  Needless to say, it was hot.  But I liked it.  My comp wouldn't do it.
How was everyone's Easter??? Mine was fantastic.  It was so nice and sunny and warm 70degrees!  Can you believe it?  I almost didn't.  We had a great church meeting and dinner with the Tate family.  Home made chicken noodle soup.  Phew!  I was worried we were going to have ham.  Yuck.  But we didn't.  They were expecting it to be cold and raining so soup was what they thought would sound good to us.  We ended up getting 4 easter baskets!  Well, Jensen got 3 and I got one extra from the Graves family!  Wendi and the gang did a tour of the mission and hand-delivered Easter goods to all of their favorite sisters.  Like they literally spanned the mission.  They are the COOLEST.  The RS president made us a basket just stacked with treats.  Our WML's wife made us one and the family that we ate dinner with got us one too.  But of course, the real reason for the season or meaning of yesterday was to recognize and remember that Christ overcame the grave and that HE LIVES.  There is a really cool link to a video on about it.
So good right?  I love that video.  People tell us all the time, "Wow, you missionaries sacrifice so much.  I could never do that."  But really it is nothing compared the infinite and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  There is this poem that someone gave me about times when missionaries want to quit because it's hard and compared it to the Savior.
"Is it worth it?" I said as I reach our place,
to get that door slammed in our face/
"Is it worth it," I said, with a heavy sigh,
"to wear this stupid shirt and tie?"
"Is it worth it?" I said, when it's 40 below,
to walk for miles in a foot of snow.
I wonder what my friends would say,
If I were to go home today?
It's not the things your friends would say,
but what the Lord would do today.
What if the Savior would have said,
"I think I'll quit before I'm dead."
"Is it worth it, Father?  To do this thing?
for a bunch of people I've never seen,
to sweat my blood from every pore,
so that man can live forever more?"
It's funny that I'm not struck down,
for being such a selfish clown,
my trials aren't so bad after all,
compared to Christ's they're kind of small.
So if you're feeling kind of sore,
because somebody slammed their door,
try sweating blood from every pore,
for people you've never seen before.
I cannot really accurately express what I feel when I think of the Savior and His love for all mankind.  Even enough to suffer, bleed, and die.  The least I couldn do is knock some doors and cry some tears so that others could gain access to his infinite gift.  "Work cannot always be agreeable.  Since we shall have to learn it sooner or later, we might as well begin now to learn that we cannot always do just the things we like to do and work only when we feel like working."  Sometime I don't feel like working.  Sometimes I'd rather just go home.  Sometimes I want to walk away from my companion.  But sometimes I feel overwhelmed with love and joy.  Sometimes I feel a decimal of what the Savior feels for us when I see someone in need.  Sometimes I give really freely.  But I ALWAYS love my mission.  I can't think of any other way to be more like Christ.  I can't imagine He liked suffering or feeling angusih and grief for us.  But He did.  So why are we paying for it again by suffering in sin alone?  Just as He was raised on a cross, we too, can be lifted up.  From a sinking hole to a higher plane.  One that will one day elevate us to live with God again.
Love you guys,

Sister Baylon

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

obedience does not restrict. it frees


I am exhausted.  It was 65 degrees today!!! Our zone played outside at Fort Steilacoom park for a few hours.  Ultimate Frisbee, soccer, and football. Felt way good to run around and feel hot and sweaty.  Not too often that I get to do that.  Our zone always complains about being bored with nothing to do on PDAYS. Well...when no one takes initiative and steps up to make the plans then that tends to happen.  I usually am a pday coordinator but the last zone I was in one of the other sisters didn't like that I always "controlled" pdays.  Lame. So I have kind of backed off of taking charge of Pdays.  So anyways.

I spent the greater part of the morning with a lady in our ward at the fabric store in Tacoma because she is teaching me how to sew!  It has been the biggest dream of mine lately to take sewing lessons but never thought that I was able to achieve that goal on my mission.  This sister made tons of cute pillows and slip covers and table runners and curtains and stuff in her house and even has made a lot of the skirts that she wears to church.  So, Bro Stowers bought me some sewing lessons from her at the YW auction this past week!  Haha the YW put together a dinner/auction to raise money to go to girls camp.  We were invited to attend but I had no money so couldn't bid on anything.  I sat with the Stowers family and Bro Stowers asked what I would want to bid on if I had money and I said the sewing lessons.  So he bought me three 2hr private sewing lessons for $40.  Sweeeetness.  She offers free classes during the week on tuesdays but I can never go because we have to work.  But with the private classes I could choose my day so I picked today (pday).  She is teaching me how to make an A-line skirt and this really, really nice messenger bag.  Her stuff doesn't look home-sewn at all.  Really quality stuff.  I told her that she should start a business on etsy or something.  She has really good taste in textiles.  I'm so excited!!!

I got to help one of the Agor girls make a dessert for the auction for people to bid on.  Her mom took her to buy a ton of stuff to make cake pops.  Have you guys ever seen those before. Sooooo cute.  They bought this book with all different kinds you can make.  Owls, ice cream cones, pandas, all kinds of cute little things.  We made easter egg ones and arranged them in an easter egg basket.  It sold for $30!! So by the end of the night the ward raised enough money to send each YW to camp. So cool.

This email is going to contain lots of things about food that happened this week.  This week I had one of the best meals on my mission and I also added something really nasty to my "foods I've tried on my mission" resume.  So for about a month I have been craving just a delicious crisp yet soft Belgian waffle with fresh berries and cool whip.  I have had several members attempt to make it for me and all fail miserably.  They never learned the phrase "Never Eat Soggy Waffles" when they were growing up and learning how to tell where was north, east, south, and west.  So this lady in the ward that signed up to feed us took the challenge to make a non-soggy waffle. Oh mannnn, it was sooo good.  Like hotel quality.  She had it all set up in these nice dishes. Fresh strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. 

Nasty food eaten this week: kuikui (coo-ey coo-ey).  Samoan version of raw sea urchin in this like orange sauce atop a chunk of tarot root.  Ohhhhkkaaayyy.  I gulped it down like a champ.  It was almot worse than the eyeball. Sooooo salty.  I bet Grandpa Ted would have liked it.  I also ate this Samoan raw fish in this like white sauce.  Turkey tails.  Aka the butt of a turkey.  Cornbeef chunks. yikes.  And this curry soup that had all the bits of a chicken that you are supposed to throw away.  Um the like pimply skin that you see when its raw.  Or the vertebrae.  Yeah....I mean it's cool to say that I've eaten all that stuff but it was painful to choke down.  I made Bro Stowers finish mine.

Conference was AMAZING.  I forgot to bring my notebook with me to the library, I was going to email you guys a bunch of the notes that I had taken.  But I forgot it.  So inspiring.  The major lesson or feeling that I took away from conference is that I am so fortunate and blessed to have the knowledge and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ that I do. That I have everything before me to be happy and have joy in this life.  To have the tools and the resources to receive answers from on high.  To know that I have a divine heritage and a purpose and plan for my life.  To have a vision and a means to an end in which I am striving everyday to be just a little more qualified for.  To become more like the Savior that I am lucky enough to know lives and that He loves me.

When the prophet walked out into the conference center for the first session on Saturday morning it was an immediate feeling of the Spirit that washed over me in the form of peace and assurance that Thomas S. Monson really is a prophet of God.  That he really does communicate with Him for us.  And that how brilliant it is that I can trust and be led by God through whatever the prophet will advise, counsel, warn, or challenge me to do in my life.  The warmth and comfort from just seeing him enter the conference center in Salt Lake City on the projector screen in the church touched my heart a 1,000 miles away in Washington.  We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.  I saw President Waddell sitting with the Seventy before one of the sessions had started.  I also got to see Natalie, Shauna Sargent's younger sister sing in the MTC choir!  So neat!  She is going to south america on her mission. Cool cool.

We watched the Sunday morning session at the Agors.  We had the most delicious Sunday breakfast.  Island style.  The most buttery french toast you'd ever eaten.  Prabably because they slather them with butter.  Eggs. Portugeuse sausage.  Rice. Crumb donuts. Bacon. Sausage.  POG. Fruit.  We all watched conference together and just had the best time ever.  After the morning session on Saturday Elder Quigley, one of the car czars for the mission took the entire Lakewood and Tacoma zones out for lunch at Tacobell. So like almost 50 missionaries!  He bought almost 100 tacos for us.  So fun.

I have a testimony that the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ bless our lives and make us free on the condition that we are faithful and obedient in adhering to the laws of God.  We tracted into this 20 something yr old guy named Andy.  Andy said that he lived next door to some Mormons and started making fun of how many rules that they had to live by and how sheltered of a life that they lived.  He went on to say that he didn't need a church to know God and that he finds error in people.  We taught him that the commandments are not to restrict us and keep us bound making our area of living smaller. But rather quite the opposite.  It keeps the evil and harm and tragedy out of our lives that is within our control actually granting us a large area of living or freedom.  We told him that our purpose as missionaries is not to merely add numbers to the church or to convert people to the church.  The church is merely the scaffolding in which we build our lives in the gospel.  We are inviting people to receive the saving ordinances of the gospel and not just to attend a church.  The church helps us to gain knowledge and strengthen our faith in the gospel.  We invited him to come to church and watch a session of general conference. He laughed a smug laugh and pulled up the bottom of his jeans pant leg to reveal an ankle bracelet.  He had been caught driving drunk a few years back and hit someone while under the influence.  Point proven.  Obedience does not restrict.  It frees.  Now Andy literally is going to be imprisoned for his bad choices.  He is on house arrest until June until he goes to state prison.  Make the choice now to be free by adhering to God's laws.

Aunty Allison, do you know a half chinese lady on your street named Maelynn?  Her family is in the ward that I am serving!  There is a PMF in our ward.  The mom is a member and the Dad is Chinese but raised in Mongolia and not a member.  He is dying of cancer.  I'm not sure if she is active or not.  Her family here in WA is kind of less-active so when she said that she had a daughter that lived in Sandy, UT I got excited and asked what part and she said Gracey Lane.  Such a small world!  Another small world story is this senior missionary couple in the mission named the Foleys.  They are from Laie, HI and know so many people!  Do you know them?  They knew the Elkingtons.

Way cool story to close.  We went tracting yesterday and rang this doorbell.  Well I guess when I rang the doorbell it got stuck and it was ringing for like 2 minutes straight!  Awkward.  I didn't know what to do so I figured we should just bust out of there.  Sis Welch told me that happened to her when she was in Steilacoom and the guy that lived there got super mad at them so I figured it was the same house.  Nope different guy.  As we were walking down the driveway to leave this man opened the door and said that he was sleeping and the doorbell finally woke him up.  We got to talking and told him about who we were and what we do as missionaries.  He seemed really intrigued and said that he has really enjoyed the "I'm a Mormon" commercials on TV.  He wants to come check out the church!  MIRACLE.

Well, I love you guys. Hope everyone has a great week.  Just got the Rondo's package today. Thank youuuu!!! The kale was...interesting. I'm going to have to acquire a taste for it.  Mom, I just got your package today, too.  But I haven't opened it yet.  Thanks in advance.

Be happy,
Sis Baylon