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

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