Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Apirl 29

Dear Mom,

First of all, we got transfer calls.  Sister Chapman will be leaving the Toledo Stake tomorrow.  I predict she will be somewhere up in the Cleveland Stake.  She was pretty sad, but ready to leave.  I will be staying here in St. Marys.  I hope I get to stay here quite a bit longer too.  There is no place like St. Marys in the whole mission. 
So this week was pretty exciting in a lot of ways.  We just keep having good things happen.  Last week, Sister Chapman and I spent some time during our companionship study and discussed all of the miracles that have happened these last two transfers.   The end result was a very long list and we were so full of gratitude for the privilege we have had serving here together.  We concluded that every single miracle we had seen was a direct result of the efforts of the members in the branch.  The success we had with Jim and other members who have been lost now returning has really sparked a flame in all of them.  I have never seen anything quite like it.  Each miracle came from a member’s involvement in teaching, inviting, visiting with, or praying for it to come to pass.  All we had to do was increase the faith of the members.  We did this by serving them and teaching them the Doctrine of Christ.  Preach My Gospel is inspired!!!
Update on all of the things that have been happening with investigators and returning members:
Tera went to Young Womens on Wednesday!!  The YW president went with us teaching and extended a personal invitation, and she loved it! 
New Investigator: Karen (girlfriend of less-active member Nathan, has 3 kids) has met with the Jensons a few times in the last two transfers.  The Jensons have had a goal to give us a successful referral the whole time they have been here, and boy did they work hard for it, and they deserve how prepared and excited Karen was.  We taught her the first discussion, and we all felt the spirit.  I have never seen an investigator identify the spirit so completely the during a first discussion like that.  She told us she "felt warm and kinda tingly inside and just really happy.  I really think this is what God wants for me."  She said that over and over.  She knows how happy this will make her family, and she accepted the invitation to be baptized.  Now she needs some more solid support from her boyfriend (hopefully soon fiancĂ©), so some prayers may help her there. 
Jim is finer than a frog's hair split two ways.  That is all there is to say.  Last night he and Brother Y took us out for dinner at Pullman Bay in Celina.   They have pretty good food, but awesome homemade pies.  It sits right outside of the Grand Lake St Marys, so we had a pretty view. 
Josh came to church!  There has been so much going on lately, and he really seems to have some desire to make changes.  We have just been reading scriptures with him for a few minutes in the park, and have seen some progress.  We talked to him after church, and he told us that he had started reading scriptures on his own (without us telling him to), and that he had read the story of Adam and Eve and about Christ coming to the Americas, and all of it was talked about in church. 
We got to go help the Fs out again this week.  We did a lot of stacking wood (found out what a "woody" or a wood roach is, not a pretty bug).  We also spent a lot of time chasing baby chickens, ducks and turkeys so we could clean out the garage and get them ready to move them out to the barn.  Those turkeys followed us around in a big group all night.  Robyn calls them her "latchkey kids." Oh, did I tell you they have a litter of kittens.  I still have a soft spot for 'em.  Heather and I named one Frankie.  Brother F made us fajitas.  MMMM!  We will be having Sister Chapman's "last supper" with them tonight.
New Investigator:  Amber.  Brother Y referred us to a family that is related to some less-actives in the Lima Ward.  Amber is in her 30's and is so sweet!  She lives up in Spencerville.  We forgot to write down her house number, so we called Brother Y to remind us where it was at.  He couldn't remember either.  So we told him not to worry, and we would see if we could figure it out.  We found her really quick, and had a short and sweet lesson with her.  As we walked out we saw Brother Y, with his hair all slicked back, pulling up on a big orange tractor to come rescue us!  HA!  No one will ever be able to top our awesome Branch Mission Leader.  He really must love us. 
We hope to have another family, Christy and her kids, at church next Sunday in addition to everyone else.  We went over to see her, and she simply recognized it was time to come back. 
I love serving here.  I love my mission!  I have come to realize this week that I needed to serve a mission.  I was right in my feeling when I said that I would be okay whether I served or didn't before I left, and that Heavenly Father would still be pleased with me, but this is what I was supposed to do.  The Lord is easy to please but hard to satisfy.  D&C 7....  SO GOOD!!!
I love you all very much!  I am excited to talk with you on Mother's Day. 


Sister Bakker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 21

Dear Mom,

Thanks a million for the easter package!  Thank you so much!  I felt so loved to not only receive a package from you, but from both Grandma Bakker and Grandma Peterson! 

So this week was so great!  We have had a lot of really great opportunities to serve and to teach.  We have taught more lessons this week than the whole time I have been here.  Sacrament attendance is soaring at a whopping 48, and good things are happening all over. 

We were able to see the F’s a few times this week.  H is doing great with her lessons.  She has such a strong desire to be baptized and learn.  She has picked up the Book of Mormon jargon we use in the church, and their family has been reading their scriptures every night to help her get ready.  Such a great experience!  I really loved this week especially because Sister Chapman and I felt like we were able to return the favor of feeding us so much and taking such good care of us.  They had us go out and help them in their grape vineyard and in the barn.  So fun!  Dane knew it was going to be muddy out there, so he bought us matching goofy boots to wear around.  That way we can wear them out to the barn when we go help with the goats and things.  We love them so much!  Dane has a pretty solid goal to help us increase sacrament attendance.  Part of his reasoning is so that we can finally add on to the building and get church pews put in.  He has been working on his immediate family first.  He was able to get his mom , Janice, to come to church yesterday.  You can tell how important his family is to them. 

Having Janice there was huge for the Branch.  They really are starting to catch the vision of the Hastening of the Work.  This morning, during our companion study, Sister Chapman and I made a list of all of the miracles we have seen here in St. Marys.  We just keep going and going, and all of the miracles we see don't just come from our faith as missionaries, but also from the faith of the members.  We noticed, for example, that the last few weeks the members have individually taken it upon themselves to focus on missionary work in lessons and discussions and testimonies during church.  Last week, Brother Y said a special prayer at the end of sacrament and asked that our branch would grow.  Just yesterday, Sister Chapman and I needed to be extra early to church, which we usually aren't that early, and we saw a car circling around the parking lot looking confused.  They stopped, and we heard "Oh!  It is the sister missionaries!!! Thank goodness!"  I love hearing that!  Her name is Grace, and she just moved outside of Buckland with her husband John.  Grace has been a member for 30+ years, and just married her husband John about 2 1/2 years ago.  He is Russian Orthodox.  She has enough enthusiasm to keep the branch rolling on this track with missionary work.  She is in her 60s, and John and she just bought a home that is about 150 years old or more, and could use a lot of work.  Talk about energy!  I will send you some pics of the home.  It is BEAUTIFUL!  I love the homes out here.  They are all so original and super old. 

Miracles are happening, and great things are around the corner, I just know it!  I love being a missionary!   I am so grateful for the experiences that we have been having and how much I am learning.  It is a long process to change the way Heavenly Father wants you to change, but I am grateful I understand that better now.  I love you all, and hope you have a good week!


Sister Bakker

So here you see a stone goose.  Don't know if I have ever mentioned this.  Everyone here has these stone geese things.  EVERYONE!  They were all over Youngstown, I have seen them in Cleveland and Kirtland, and they are all over here too.  I want one so bad!  Just maybe minus the weird clothes everyone puts on them... Also, no one knows why they are so popular, but they all have them.  

We had a big burn pile from all the garbage wood we gathered during the day.  Can't burn anything unless you have food around there, though, so we had smores with it.  Also, there is Grace and John's house.  So awesome! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 14 #becauseofhim

Dear Mom,

We have had a great week!  First of all, we have a new investigator officially, named Sachi.  She is 20, and is from Bahrain (over in the middle east somewhere).  Anyway, she just moved here a few months ago, and is on her own completely.  She has a house that her dad bought here in St. Marys, that she is kinda holding down the fort in until her family can all gather here in Ohio.  Two cool things about her house, 1) the bidet and 2) the cat with two extra thumbs!  Ha!  She is so sweet, and has a muslim, Buddhist, Christian background and just believes in being a good person at all times.  I love her a lot!  We got to talk about our faith, and help her see moments where she could see God's love for her in her life.  She really liked what we had to say.  She accepted the invitation to be baptized, and asked us after the lesson if she could see the church right away.  How cool is that?  So prepared!  She had to come all the way from Bahrain to hear about the gospel.

We had a great great great lesson with the F’s this week!  I love them so much!  We taught Heather the Plan of Salvation, and Dane and Robyn were able to share their favorite parts of the plan of salvation.  Dane and Robyn are going to the temple!  We talked about them coming out to visit Utah next year sometime, and Sister Chapman will come down from BYUI and we will all go together to do sessions.  How cool would that be???  Dane told us that he has this huge desire to go to Utah right now, and see more of the history.  I have never seen anyone progress on my mission as fully as they have.  They even brought their granddaughter, Emma to church with them (she is only 6 months younger than Heather), so they are both old enough to be baptized!!

Josh seems to be doing really well.  We had a mini lesson with him at his mom's old place.  He just got a promotion, and will be staying a little longer here in St. Marys.  He opened up a lot to us outside about the church.  He told us that he still believed in the church, but just hasn't been.  He really enjoyed the Easter Brunch (which I will talk about), and said it felt good to go back.  We invited him to Easter church, and he wants to come.  He even said the closing prayer.  Hopefully this is all a good sign of future progress. 

The other great part of our week was the Easter Brunch this Saturday.  We had more people come to that than we have on a good day of church.  We convinced Josh to come out, even though it was early in the morning, and we had a lot of less-actives come.  One lady, Tammy, came to the church building for the first time in maybe 10 years with her nonmember husband and son, and after she told us "it feels like coming home."  The F’s made an appearance, and they seemed as though they hadn't even missed a beat when it comes to church functions.  Everyone had a great time!!  Sister Chapman and I prepared an Easter Message on the Easter Media Initiative the church is doing.  I don't know if this is nation wide or not, so I will talk a little bit about it.  We have been asked by the Missionary Department in SLC to invite anyone and everyone to check out  This website was made by the church, and went live last Sunday.  It has a video about our Savior, and that video will be the main banner on Youtube (the silent film that shows each day that you can click on) one day this week.  They are asking us to invite everyone to put this on their social media and share it with their friends.  They also have #becauseofhim for us to use to link all these posts on social media together.  So for example I could say, "I will live with my family again #becauseofhim."  How cool is that?  Anyway, it has been a huge success so far.  If you can, maybe post that on my blog so that people can see it and it will spread.  Also, have everyone in the family do it.   We are going to take over the internet and help people remember the true meaning of Easter, and our Savior's Atonement.  So awesome!  I even got to make up pass-along cards for this one.  We have been using them like candy out here, and people are loving them!  They want to hand them out to all of their friends.     

I am so grateful for my Savior, and his sacrifice for me.  For the gift of repentance and forgiveness.  I know that they are real, and that we can be cleansed.  Happy Easter!


Sister Bakker   

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7


Conference was the best!  We loved it out here that is for sure.  I think my favorite talk was Elder Scott's.  I have been trying to learn how I can be better about trusting and things here, and I took those questions with me to Conference.  Elder Scott really answered that when he talked about how children of our Father can do amazing things when you trust them.  He really talked about how we can help others come unto Christ wherever they may be in their conversion process through our example, the way Christ taught us.  I loved that!  Also, I didn't get to watch all of Priesthood session, but I did see Elder Oaks talk about women and the priesthood too, and that was awesome!  It helped me remember to when I was set apart as a missionary, I remember the stake president giving me authority, and it confused me a bit.  I now understand better how that works. 

Our week went really well with the lessons we have had and so forth.  Dane went on a business trip to Memphis last week, and to help him continue on the path he is on, we sent him and the rest of the family scriptures each day.  They sometimes would read them together as a family over the phone, which really got them on a role.  We sent Dane down with a ton of talks to listen to as he made the long drive, and he listened to all of them (which is just hours of church basically).  He came home super excited (and early so he would be home for priesthood session)!!  We saw him the next night, and he was on fire from everything.  He went down to the Memphis, TN temple, and was looking at quads for Heather to get them going as a family.  Friday night he decided himself to quit dippin' and has stuck with it.  The whole time, Heather kept whispering questions to her mom like, "how soon can I be baptized?"  This weekend really felt like a break through with them.  We went and made pizza with Robyn and Heather while Dane was at priesthood, Saturday.  She even let us help her out in the barn a bunch.  Her baby goats are super fun.

We ended up having to watch the first session of conference on Saturday later on as that was when Jill's funeral was.  Sister Chapman and I have taken a lot of time this week to talk through some of the things, and it has really helped to get a grasp on what our role is in helping the family, and give us some closure with her death.  Sister Chapman sang at the funeral, and did a really great job!  Jill I am sure was really happy that she did that for her. 

We have had a great week.  Conference was definitely the cherry on top of the cake.  I know that those men are prophets of God, and that the things they talked about are what we need to make a priority in our lives today.    I am grateful that we can receive answers to our questions by listening and studying the things that the prophets tell us.  Our Father in Heaven cares about us, and the things we are worried about.  He will help us receive answers.


Sister Bakker