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! 

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