Monday, February 24, 2014

Feb 24

Dear Mom,
"Sword of Laban"
I am just loving St. Marys!!  Sister Chapman and I are having so much success as we have been putting our trust and faith in our Father in Heaven.  The miracles we have seen would not have been able to happen on our own, that is for sure!  I know that if Sister Chapman and Sister Lemmon hadn't worked as hard as they did (even though they saw little success together) we wouldn't receive all of the blessings we are right now.  So this last week we have been finding like crazy!  We have so many people we are working with to help them come closer to our Savior.  Our Branch had around 45 people there this week.  It seems so small, but that is a huge jump from the last while. 

This week I attended my first Mass at the local Catholic Rosary here in St. Marys.  That was an interesting learning experience for us, but we really enjoyed it.  We went with one of our investigators named Annette.  She is really sweet.  We met her during our service we do at Agape, and she was just so impressed with us she had to have us for dinner (I have probably already mentioned her).  Anyway, after dinner she invited us to her church and we invited her to ours.  After Mass, she told us that she wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon, and really wants to attend our church.  How cool is that?!  I feel like we didn't have to do anything to find her except be a good example, and now look at where we are.   

So many other things have happened.  I don't know that I have time to talk about everyone, but we have a bunch of new investigators that we feel so great about.  One of them is Patty.  She is Southern Baptist, and has such a powerful testimony of having to work  to receive blessings.  We are also attending a Baptist service this upcoming weekend with our investigators Lucas and Lynne (a young couple, who love Glen Beck). 

One of our less-active members, Michelle is fun to work with.  We had such a great lesson with her on the Plan of Salvation, and she has never been so sure about attending church, until she suddenly was in the hospital.  This happens all the time.  Just as someone is almost there, something huge happens, and takes us back a few more steps.  That is okay though.  We still were able to go over, and she experienced the power of priesthood blessings. 

Christmas tree left on Grand lake St Mary's
As far as the Jim update goes, he is as golden as ever.  He really opened up a lot to us as we taught the importance of the sacrament during our church tour.  The spirit was so strong, and many of those there were emotional as Sister J testified that we all have times where we feel unworthy of our Father's love, but that is why we have been given the gift of repentance.  He is so awesome!  Keep him in your prayers that all will go well as he prepares for March 28th. 

I have learned many lesson recently, the least of which is the value of prayer.  During our Branch Conference, a sister spoke on her making prayer more meaningful and focusing on our Heavenly Father's will.  So I took her advice to heart and applied exactly what she told us to do.  I have taken my morning prayers and dedicated them to asking Heavenly Father what He wants me to do that day.  I take a long time to wait for promptings and thoughts to come to mind, and keep a paper and pen close.  At the end of the day, I thank Him for how He prepared me for the day.  For example, we had a lesson set up with an investigator one day that I was supposed to be preparing for.  I did not feel prompted to study for him, but instead to study something completely different.  We received a call later that day from him to cancel our appointment.  Not coincidence.  Furthermore, I was able to bear testimony of the things I had studied that morning in our contacting situations that I would not have been able to do under normal circumstances.  I know our Heavenly Father is just waiting to bless us and speak with us.  We just have to let him.  The things He wants to tell us will help us overcome obstacles and hard times as well as put into focus the things that are most important for us to worry about. 

I love being a missionary!  I never thought I would be here a year ago, but I am so grateful that I am.  No power is greater than the atonement.  Change through the atonement is not only possible, but essential.  I love you all, and am so grateful for your letters and support.


Sister Bakker

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Feb 18

Walking out on frozen Great Lake St Marys to see the light house

S Champan and Dani at the F's home


So we have had an amazing week!  Sister Chapman and I were able to go on exchanges on Thursday.  Guess who my Sister Training Leader is.... Sister Frampton!  She and I were companions again for 24 hours, and boy was it glorious!  We were in Bowling Green, OH-- closer to the Detroit mission boarder-- on bikes (I was NOT happy about the skirt/bike combo).  It was so cool that we had changed so much, but were able to teach with the same power that we had in Alliance.  It was really great to see her, and learn from her again.  It was just as great to get back to St. Marys, though.  I have clicked in with this area really fast, and Sister Chapman and I are a great team!  We have a new investigator, named Brittney, and have had some really good experiences with other potentials, who all seem very interested.  St. Marys is about to change!  Our investigator, Jim, also has a baptismal date on March 28th!  Keep him in your prayers.  We are so looking forward to that!  If you are ever worried we are being looked after, never fear!  We have Elder and Sister Jenson!  I love having them here, and they truly do take such good care of us.  We had a great time teaching with them at Jims this week.  They are great fellowship for him. Working with Senior Couples is the best!!!!!  I wish we would have had them in Youngstown.

One of the families that I have already fallen in love with is the F’s, they are both AMAZING cooks (they made us minced meet pie, pizza-- their crust is to die for, banana bread, cabbage soup, wings, homemade ice cream with kiefer milk, and they are going to make us some pigeon thing and maybe raccoon stew here soon).  I have to tell you, Ohio doesn't really feel like home does, but the F’s remind me of what it is like to be sitting back in our kitchen at the counter again.  I love being there.  Brother and Sister F already have a very special place in my heart. 

We are surviving the cold and everything else out here.  We were locked in for a bit today, but I think we have been given the clear again.  I love you all and am so grateful for all you do!  Words cannot explain how much I love my mission.  I have learned so much, and I will be such a different member when I return home.   I wish I had more time to tell you all of the miracles this week, but know that the Lord is helping me every step of the way.  I know when we rely on him, and ask for help, all He wants to do is help us succeed.  That has been this whole week for me!  Rely on the Lord in all you do, being willing and humble enough to ask for help, no matter what it may be, and he will grant it unto you. 

Love you,

Sister Bakker

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feb 10

good by to Youngstown and S Olsen

Tom and Sandy from Lake Milton, OH

Welcome to the St Mary's branch!

New address:
1810 Winston Dr. 
St. Mary's, OH 45885

Dear Mom,
 So you are probably wondering where I have ended up.  Well I have gone from one boarder of the mission to the other.  It was about a 6 1/2 hour drive to get to where I am now from Youngstown.  I am really close to Indiana here in the St. Mary's Branch.  It is the largest area in the whole mission, and probably the smallest branch that we have.  The building is smaller than half of the Boulter St. building at home to give you an idea of how small.  This last Sunday we had less than 30 people show up.  In a Branch that size, they took pretty quick advantage of me being new, and had me speak. 
Out here in the flat farm country, it is very, very, very cold with all of that wind blowing.  You have to watch for the drifts.  The wind blows so hard, and combined with the snow it makes it dangerous to drive.  We saw a car completely flipped upside down on the side of the road from the snow drifts.  We have lower temperatures on average than we did in Youngstown, and way more snow.  I have never actually ever seen church be canceled before, but it has been canceled the last two weeks due to snow.  This week we had to delay it to wait for the plows to get out there. 
My new companion is Sister Chapman.  She is from Illinois, and has been out for a year.  She is a go getter, and not shy at all.  She and I are going to make a really great companionship, I can already feel it.  She and Sister Lemmon were the first sisters here in 20 years, and boy did they work hard here.  Only elders have been working this area. We are the furthest area from the mission office that you can get.  It reminds me a bit of when Andrew was in Marion, VA.  I have heard a lot about this area, and I am hoping to build it up as much as I can while I am here.  I know there have been a lot of struggles here in the past, but I have a feeling that Sister Chapman and I are going to make a pretty solid companionship. 
St. Mary's is so great!  I really love the small town feel out here.  We cover so much land, but have such little towns with a lot of farms in between.  There are a lot of factories here in this area.  It makes it easy to know when people are available because they either work first, second, or third shift.  Our Branch Mission Leader, Brother Y, used to work at a tank factory out here.  How cool is that?  We have some thicker accents from some folks out here, and have been offered a "coon dinner."  I will let you know how that goes.  St. Mary's is significantly safer than Youngstown.  I am pretty sure we can tract anywhere we want.  There are still the problems with drug abuse and things out here, but not even close to the extent of Youngstown.  Youngstown was not the safest.  We even have a cute little town out here named New Knoxville.  How convenient is that?  Maybe Andrew will be transferred to his area that covers Cleveland, TN.  That would be something else. 
We also have a really awesome investigator named Jim.  Brother Y bore his testimony once to Jim, and offered him to take the discussions.  Sister Chapman and I taught our first lesson together to him.  That was a really powerful restoration lesson, and after Jim told us that he believed it was all true!  Such a huge blessing for me to come into a great area with an investigator ready to go.  Another huge blessing is living so close to the church!  We are only a few minutes away. 
I love you all, and am so grateful for all of your support to me.  I love my mission, and being in a new area.  As much as I didn't want to leave, I know it is what was needed for the Alliance ward to grow.  Have a great week. 
Jesus Christ is our Savior.  The Book of Mormon is true.  Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration.  The church is true!
Sister Bakker

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Feb 4


Katy, Dani, Sara, Judy
So the sad news is that I am being transferred.  I was really hoping to stay just one more transfer here.  So many great and amazing things are happening, and no part of me wants to leave the people I have come to love.  I have complete confidence that I am supposed to be somewhere else, but it does not change how I feel about the Alliance ward.  I have seen miracle after miracle here, and they just haven't stopped! 

Goodby's to good friends
This last week we stopped by a lady named Esther.  A while ago, her friend in 
the Lisbon ward gave her a Book of Mormon through us, and she didn't seem too keen on us returning.  We did anyway, and had an awesome lesson.  She told us that she wanted her friend to come back, and for her to start learning from us!  She is really solid!  Sister Olson has so many people to start and keep on working with this next transfer with who ever will be coming. 
Sacrament was pretty tough, but amazing all the same.  Pretty much everyone assumed I would be leaving since I have been here so long.  So everyone was saying their goodbyes and giving me lots of hugs, and a few tears were shed.  I really didn't think that it would be so hard to say goodbye to everyone.  The nice thing about transfers is that right before you know who is going, you can be extra bold with your testimony, invitations, and lessons.   So this last week we have been having some pretty powerhouse lessons with Judy, Katie and Sara, members, Jon and Julie, and all new investigators.  
Neil, "I dare you to jump into our frozen pool"
I wish I had more time to tell you all that was going on, but I have to take a lot of time to pack this week, and make a couple more visits.  I love being a missionary here in the Ohio.  I will let you all know where I am going next week as soon as I can.  I love you!
Mission Prep class
Sister Bakker

Splits with S Ence