Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 23

Hi Mom,

All is going well out here.  We are doing much better health wise.  No trips to the ER this week, which is great!  A lot has been going on with teaching, and finding new people to teach.  We have really been trying to increase the amount of people we are finding everyday.  One of the challenges of working in the second largest area in the mission is that we have no time to find between appointments because of the travel time we have to schedule in.  It is a good thing to be so busy constantly, but we can't do it just the two of us for much longer.  I hope they send in another set of missionaries soon to help ease the burden of the distance. 
Collin is doing okay.  We won't be able to see him this week, but hopefully next week there will be a good update on him and how he is progressing.
We did find a really awesome new investigator this last week.  He lives at the address of a member on our records (who no one knows who is) that apparently no longer lives there.  His name is J.  He is around yours and dad's age, and has two daughters around my age.  He has a Harley Davidson type life full of drugs, violence, motorcycles and jail.  He no longer associates with anyone in his family, and all of his friends still party.  He is currently trying to overcome some of the addictions that he has, and was really surprised to find us knocking on his motorhome.  He wants to change his life around, but doesn't know who to turn to.  He isn't even sure if he believes that Jesus Christ is his Savior.  We are really excited to teach him more in depth this upcoming week.  He seems to really have a true desire to find out the truth of why we are here and where we are going when we leave this life.  Definitely keep him in your prayers.
Brother F's mom, Janice, had us over for dinner this week.  It was so fancy!  She is a fantastic cook, and is obsessed with Hawaiian food.  I will send  you a picture of the dinner she fed us.  It was really good to get to talk with her a little it this week and figure out how she has been feeling since she started coming back to church with the F's.  She has a very interesting perspective.  Her husband, Jim, reminds me a TON of Grandpa Bakker.  Sister F and I had a mini conversation about how she went to a Johnny Cash concert back in the day.  I guess she had been in the hospital all day, and she told one of her nurses that she would be going regardless of what they said.  She is a hoot, and is very sweet. 
The Branch is doing great!  They are still working on their attendance, and have been inviting lots of people to the branch bbq coming up here in July.  We hope to have a turn out like what we had for the Easter Brunch. 
I love you all, and hope that you are all doing well this week.  I want you to know that I know this is our Heavenly Father's church here on the Earth.  I know that because it is His church, we can see miracles happen all around us as we strive to accomplish His will. 

Sister Bakker

Monday, June 16, 2014


Hi Mom!

We have had an interesting week.  Sister O'Banion felt a sharp pain on Wednesday morning, which she quickly identified as her 12th kidney stone.  Yup.  She was doing pretty good at managing the pain on Wed. and we took it easy by just staying in, and come Thursday morning I woke up to her being crippled over in a ton of pain.  She has had quite a few in the last two years, and I calmly asked her if we needed to go to the hospital.  She didn't answer for a minute and then squeaked out, "yeah we better..."  So I grabbed some essentials, got her into the car, and we headed off.  I want you to know that I have never even seen the ER out here, let alone been there, but somehow we made it.  The whole way there we were guided right to the doors.  I then proceeded to make all the necessary phone calls to insurance companies, Sister Vellinga, and to the Jensons (for a priesthood blessing).  Mom, I think that whole calm thing I get from you, because both Sister Vellinga and I were a bit surprised at how calm I was with everything. 

She didn't pass the stone until later on Saturday.  During that time Sister O'Banion was pretty well crippled over in pain.  They gave her some hydrocodone, which really did some funny things to her mind.  She was out of it for awhile.  We had some conversations about giant sandwiches, blue rainbows, and the rain storm (that really never happened, even though she claims it did).  She also slept a lot when she had enough pain medicine that she could sleep through the pain.  So for those four days I was pretty much left to my own devices.  I tried to stay busy with the scriptures, and missionary dvds.  After a certain point, though, you have to put it down.  I cleaned, and cooked, and cleaned some more.  Sometimes I would poke my head out the door and feel the breeze from outside.  That was nice.  I almost went crazy!  I would not be a good in a plastic bubble. That is all my side of the story.  Sister O'Bainon is doing much better now.  I hope never to have a kidney stone, that was brutal for her. 

I spoke in church yesterday, again.  That is what happens in a branch.  You get called on to speak a lot!  Things are going really well in the branch.  We have been seeing a lot of new people, and things are happening.  We received a media referral for a kid named Collin.  He is 23, and has a lot of things he is trying to work through, but he has been talking to the missionaries online and was really excited to meet with us.  Hopefully that goes well this next week. 

I love you all, and am so grateful that I have the ability to work now, and that things are going well.  Have a great week! 


Sister Bakker

June 9

Dear Mom,

Sorry transfers were this week, so that is why you are getting this on Tuesday.  I didn't get transferred!  I get to stay in St. Marys for at least 6 months, which I am more than excited about!  We have been having great success, and more people are coming out of the wood work.  I am sure other missionaries can also attest to this simple fact, but transfers brings out so many good changes.  We have started meeting with people that Sister Chapman and I could never come in contact with, and people are keeping their commitments, and making changes.  This Branch is so great! 

Just an update.  I told you last week that I hadn't been feeling well.  Sister Vellinga recommended that I ask for a blessing.  I decided that I would ask Brother F, and waited until late Tuesday night.  He gave me the blessing, and I felt a surge of peace.  It was really incredible to have him be worthy to give me that blessing, and knowing how hard he has worked to be able to get to that point.  Since the blessing, I felt so much better!  I am so grateful for the priesthood. 

So funny story of the week....  Last Monday, Sister O'Banion and I had a picnic lesson with Lusbiminda (Isaac's daughter), and everything was going well.  She had opened up a lot, and was really starting to get more comfortable, and then all of the a sudden I felt something on my face...  I started feeling around and Biminda pointed and was trying to help me, when Sister O'Banion saw it...  All of the sudden, Sister O'Banion started waking me across the face and screeching at the top of her lungs.  I sat there quietly with my head down for a moment and said, "why would you do that?"  She really couldn't get out her words because she had jumped about four feet away and was still shivering from her attack.  A big, black spider had fallen from the tree I was sitting under, and was crawling around on my cheek.  Come to find out, Sister O'Banion wasn't kidding when she warned me on our first day together that she has a major fear of spiders...  I learned the hard way and had a lingering headache.  So funny! 

Karen is doing really awesome!  We taught the 10 commandments to her and Lexi this week with funny hand symbols for each one.  They really seemed to enjoy that, as well as coming to church.  Sister O'Banion and I thought it would be good to just go over for a few minutes and read with Karen and Lexi on Sunday, and had one of the best lessons with the two of them.  We read about Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life.  The story was good, and Lexi, who is 9, was really starting to pick up the Book of Mormon lingo, and understanding the concepts.  When we were asking her some questions, Karen just started crying.  She was so amazed that Lexi was changing and had a desire to follow Christ, and that she was able to set that example for her daughter.  The spirit was very strong.  They have some tough challenges ahead for sure, especially if they are going to be baptized on August 2, but we know that they will be able to make it. 
Last, but not least, Heather turned 9 this week, and invited us to her birthday.  We ended up serving the F’s by helping them set things up, and they fed us dinner.  While we were there, the little girls kept following us around (especially Sister O'Banion, they just loved her) and asking us questions about being a missionary.  Turns out that Heather has been telling her friends all about the missionaries at school.  By the end we had about 13 girls wanting to come to church with Heather and us.  So crazy!  It was so good that we were there, also because we were able to talk with the F's daughter, Britney.  She is around our age, and used to go to church when the Elders were here about a year ago, but told her mom that she wouldn't meet with us or go to church.  After getting to talk with her some more, she invited us over!  Miracles. 

All is well out here.  I really am so happy to be here on a mission and to be able to serve in this capacity.  As Elder Holland told us, "this is the closest to real life that you are ever going to get."  He is right.  We will never be able to be so selfless and not have to concern ourselves with the cares of the world in this way again.  I love you all!


Sister Bakker

P.S. check out these websites.  the father's day one hasn't been posted yet, but it should come up in a little bit.

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2

Dear Mom,
This week has been pretty stellar!!  We have a new investigating family, Matt and Jamie!  There are pretty young, and really humble and sweet.  They live out in Celina and have three really little boys.  Matt worked in Ogden selling magazines for a few weeks, and really liked all the members of the church he met out there.  That is why he let us come back.  They want to come to church and everything!  So that is going pretty well.
We just saw Dale  today (he fixed another pair of my shoes for me), and we will be seeing their family tomorrow.  His wife, Julie, makes and decorates cakes for parties, so we may be helping her with that sometime soon. 
So big news for the F's... Robin got new chickens.  She caved and got the Americanos for the Easter eggs.  Okay...  That is not the big news, though it is pretty sweet.  Heather was baptized by her dad on May 31!!!!!!!!!  How cool is that?!!?  The baptism went off without a hitch.  Dane has been practicing the baptism with Heather for weeks now, and everyone felt the spirit.  Sister O'Banion sang When I am Baptized and I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost.  You know, I always knew that the F's would be a big part in changing this branch.  I also knew that Dane would be the one to baptize Heather.  I just didn't think it would happen in the short time I would be here.  That family really has made such a major impact on not just my mission, but my life.  I love them so much! 
I feel like every week we continue to have miracles, that we get to see this branch change day by day.  I feel so fortunate to have been sent here.  Yesterday, Sister Jenson made a comment on how many people we had a church (about 75, I sat in the front so I couldn't be exactly accurate this time).  She said, "The numbers show the success we are having, but even more these members are growing closer to Christ.  You can see it in their participation in class, eagerness to help, and overall attitude."  Everyday I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose more and more.  The way you feel serving as a full-time missionary brings such joy that I don't feel like I can express adequately to anyone who has never had the opportunity. 
I love you all and pray for you every day individually.  Thank you for everything!
Sister Bakker