Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31

Dear Mom,
We have had a weekend completely full of extremes.  There have been so many blessings, and some of the hardest things I have ever experienced in my life.  I want to start with the good.  

We had Jim's baptism this Saturday, and everything went amazing!  There are pictures of us with The Jenson's, Brother Y (Jim's friend that referred him), and President Vellinga!  President came all the way to St. Marys, the furthest area for him to travel to (it took him almost 4 hours to get to us) just for this baptism.  He knows how hard we have been working.  We were pretty excited to get that surprise call from him early Saturday morning.  Jim had asked Sister Chapman and I both to contribute to the program. So Sister Chapman did a musical number called "This is the Christ," and it was amazing!  I gave the talk on baptism.  It was kind of funny, I made a reference to Isaiah 1:18 "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow," and I had to tease Jim about how much he hated the snow, and how it was a way our Father in Heaven reminds us of our baptismal covenants.  The best part of it was we had a freak snow storm right as the baptism started, and it just kept coming down!  Everyone got a pretty good kick out of it.  Brother Yule baptized him. So many people from his family and the branch came to give him support.  We were happy to see Robyn and their soon to be baptized daughter, Heather.  They came to show Heather what a baptism looked like.  You could tell that they were really feeling the spirit during the whole event.  While Jim and Brother Y were changing, Sister Chapman and I did a lesson on the restoration with a tie in to testimonies of Jesus Christ.  It was so powerful!  After the service was over, President briefly came to our apartment.  He told us and the Jenson's his thoughts of the baptism.  He said, "Perfect spirit and level of reverence.  Perfect talks and presentations.  Perfect baptism."  I want you to know that President Vellinga doesn't throw the word perfect out there too often if ever.  That baptism was amazing. 
I have to tell you, though, the baptism was a blessing from our Father in Heaven.  There was only so much we could handle, and something going wrong at the baptism would have been too much for us.  On Thursday we visited Jill (52 years old).  I think I told you all that she went in for surgery on Monday for surgery.  She had just gotten home when we went over.  There we met her brother, who is very active in the church, and seemed very grateful to us for helping her make the steps to come back and be better.  We left pretty quick because Jill was really out of it.  Early Friday morning we got a call from Josh, her 21-year-old son.  Jill had passed away that morning.  He didn't know who to call, so he called us.  We were so close to Jill.  We worked a lot with her.  I have never seen someone make as much progress as her in coming back to church.  I love Jill so much.  That was the most heart wrenching news.  We didn't know where to go so we called the branch president.  That was a really tough day.  We did everything we could to push forward, go to all of our lessons and prepare for Jim's baptism. 
Needless to say, it was a tough weekend and a great weekend. We really love Jill a lot.  The best bit of comfort we have is that Jill was making more progress in the church than she ever had in her whole life.  She really wanted it.  She had been reading the Book of Mormon, and asking deep questions every week in Gospel Principles.  If she was on the right track here, she will continue on that same track.  I am so grateful for our knowledge of the gospel, and our ability to do temple work.  I know that Jill can still continue to progress.  She will be able to go all the way to the top! :)  This is why we are here.  This is why missionaries come out.  We are here to help people understand the plan of salvation, and give them every opportunity to live with our Father in Heaven again.  I know that this is true.  It is why I am here. 

I love you all.  I love my mission, no matter how hard it gets, I love it here. 

Sister Bakker

Maria Stein is a city, and there you find the Sisters of the Precious Blood (an old nun convent).  It is the second largest location for relics in the country.  Look up relics.  it is a bit strange...  A first class relic is apart of a saints body, and I am not sure if they worship it, or just pray to the saints. Then this is the St. Charles seminary.  It looks like a giant castle that you find in Europe, and it is surrounded by farms and fields of nothing.  Oh Ohio!  Inside the seminary... This is a huge mosaic that was shipped from Germany in pieces. It is two stories tall, and it has representation of not just Christ, but of the sacrifice of Isaac and of melchezidec .  I didn't know they really acknowledged him.   We ended up giving the Father (can't remember his last name) a pass-along card to watch general conference with us.  He sort of gave us a private tour, since the lights were turned off everywhere. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24

Beautiful Ohio countryside

S Bakker and Jill working on the Word of Wisdom

So this week we have been working hard preparing for a lot of things coming up.  First of all, I would like you all to know that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is coming to visit Kirtland on May 21st to hold a mission conference!  WE ARE SO EXCITED!  We have had all sorts of good news this last week.   
We have been doing a lot of service this week.  We went over to Jill’s to help her clean in preparation for her surgery this week.  She asked if we would hang up pictures in her apartment.  It has been a bit bare the whole time she has lived there, and that was fun for me.  She really needs to be living the word of wisdom for her surgery, and she just can't quit her smoking.  We have been doing a lot to try and help her, but if she doesn't want it herself we can't force her.  So in little baby steps we have been trying.  She sacrificed two of her remaining six cigarettes this weekend.  That was good. The word of wisdom is such a blessing to us.  I never realized how much until I saw just how horrible it is on people. 
Jim is doing great.  He is as golden as ever.  We are really looking forward to his baptism this Saturday.  He wanted to change the date because his family decided to drive in from down in Cincinatti.  Hopefully it will be a good experience.  I talked Sister Chapman into singing (she has a beautiful voice) so that will definitely enhance the spirit there.  We have been inviting everyone so we hope to have a really good turn out from everyone. 
It was a great Sunday with many people there (maybe 50, but a lot for our Branch).  Michelle was the first to come in.   She and her son, Joey (17), came to church this week also!  It has been years since she came to church.  When she walked in, she was shaking a bit, and she promised she would be back next week (depending on her husband...) .  The F’s also came to church yesterday!  Dane wasn't going to stay the whole time, but he ended up coming into Gospel Principles for our lesson on the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  I have never had such a good experience in that class before.  The spirit was strong, and it was evident that everyone was edified.  Our class was so big, they had to move us out of the little kitchen area and trade rooms with another class.  That was a good feeling.  Sometimes as a missionary you work so hard to help people come to church, and in the end many missionaries never see the results.  It felt rewarding for the Jensons as well as us to have so many people there.  We are building up St. Marys!!!!
That was just a little update for our week.  I hope you are all doing well.  The weather is trying to warm up.  We are predicted to have snow again this week (which I am okay with :) ).  We will see what it looks like this weekend.  Spring is trying to happen, but my guess is we still have a little while. 
 I love you all.  I am so excited for all of the awesome things happening in each of your lives.  I know that our Heavenly Father cares about us, and the things that are important to us.  He will help us achieve our greatest potential! 

Sister Bakker

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

march 18

Hi Mom!

So, obviously transfers were this week as I am writing you on Tuesday.  Sorry I forgot to give you a heads up this time around.  The good news is we are both staying!  Sister Chapman and I are having so much success here in St. Marys.  President Vellinga specifically mentioned the work we are doing here in St. Marys during the Toledo Stake Conference, and talked about our miracles.  I love it here!  I really wasn't sure if I was going to be able to love it as much as I loved the Youngstown/Alliance area, but it is evident that Sister Chapman and I were both needed here. 

We had a great week this!  Jim has been struggling for a few weeks with the idea of being perfect before baptism.  He comes to church and says he feels unworthy seeing the kinds of lives the members lead, and the courage of our youth.  He keeps wanting to push back his baptism.  He was thinking sometime in the summer or longer.  It has taken a great deal of powerful lessons building up to what happened yesterday.  Yesterday, we had a lesson with him in his home, and talked about the power of repentance, what it truly means, and how it is possible for all men everywhere to be forgiven.  We then each had a powerful testimony moment with him and discussed the blessings that come from Christ's church. The spirit was so strong.  I felt strongly to ask him the first baptismal interview questions.  He took a minute and then with the spirit bore a strong and simple testimony that he knows this church is the only true church on the earth.  We then invited him to show his faith and recommit to March 28th.  He paused, smiled, and then with tears he told us "Yes!"  It was a powerful experience.  He is so sweet, and such a powerful influence to me.  I am grateful that I was born into the church.  I am so grateful that I didn't have to wait so long to find the truth. 

We have a new investigator named Jenee.  She is a young mom, and has a strong faith in Christ.  She had investigated with the elders in the past, but didn't feel a strong connection.  We were able to sit down and talk about some of her concerns with the church, and the story of Joseph Smith.  She then proceeded to tell us how much she really respected the church, and did truly want to know if it was true.  Another strong spiritual experience.  We invited her to retake the lessons, and she accepted with high hopes of receiving an answer this time.  I love that the spirit gives people a desire to change, and the gospel of Christ shows them the path to take to accomplish all they hope to. 

I love being out here in Ohio.  This place is not only beautiful, but it was chosen by our Father in Heaven to grow again.  This gospel is growing quickly.  There is no better time than now to share the gospel.  I am so grateful for my mission. 

I love you all and pray for you constantly.  Have a great week!


S Bakker, Jim, S Chapman

Jim and the Jenson's
Sister Bakker

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10

Dear Mom,

We have had a ton of meetings, including stake conference, so we didn't get to teach as much as we would have liked.  Sister Chapman hasn't really been feeling good, which has put us at a bit of a slower pace also.  Hopefully I don't get what she has.  I don't ever want to stay in because of illness.  I can get sick next year.  Until then I will stay healthy. 

This week we had a really cool lesson with  our investigator, Doug.  He is in his 50s I think, and he is a former investigator from the Elders a few months ago.  His big concern was that us young people couldn't relate to the trials he has had to face.  So to counter that, we brought the Jensons.  Have I mentioned how great it is to have a senior couple?  Together we taught Doug the Plan of Salvation, and he loved it!  He had so many questions about eternal marriage for the Jensons, and we were able to talk about the Holy Ghost a bit at the end.  I never thought I would have to learn how to teach with three other people, but somehow we really make it work.  It is so cool to feel the spirit prompting each of us to speak, and when to be silent.  Doug really felt the spirit too, and has such a strong desire to know if the things we taught him were true.  I am really excited to go back and teach him some more. 

Jim is doing great!  He has been living the Word of Wisdom.  I don't think he has received a profound answer if it is true or not, but he is very wise to know that an answer will come eventually as he does what he is supposed to.  So he told us to keep on with the lessons.  So we taught him the all about the ten commandments, obedience, and then lead it into the law of tithing and fasting.  He loved it so much!  He wants to start paying his tithing as fast as possible so he can see the windows of heaven open.  He calculated what he made last year, took out the 10% and then divided it by 52 so he could pay every week.  He is so committed to living the gospel.  There is a difference between working with the prepared and those who aren't prepared.  Jim is incredible!  Keep him in your prayers.

We have had some really neat experiences here in St. Marys.  I know that I am supposed to be here at this time. Something that I have been trying to do is realize that nothing is coincidence.  I have been able to recognize Heavenly Father's hand in so many more ways.  If we just allow Him to show us the miracles, we will be amazed at the ways he blesses us everyday.  I love being a missionary.  I still know that Heavenly Father would have been proud of me if I had stayed home, but I know that my life will be completely different now that I have served.  I wish I could explain how much it has changed me.  I love my mission!

I love you all!  Have a great week!


Sister Bakker