Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17

This hawk sits about 20 feet outside their apartment window on a regular basis.

Hey Mom, 
How goes the battle? wow boy am I glad to be away from shoveling snow haha but sounds like all is well back in the land desolation. Here in the land of milk and honey life is swell. The work is progressing here in Farragut more than it has in over a year or two I love it! A member family we have become pretty close with ( originally from Riverton) said we're going to feel Spolled rotten with the winters here, I’m pumped for that! and that brings us right to our Tennesseeism: Spolled- the correct way of saying spoiled. "Y'all are gunna feel right spolled here this winter!"
Oh before I forget Dad, theres this motorcycle junkie in the ward with a 1963 triumph bonniville with a rebuilt engine in hes garage, all it needs is the beauty work done to it! how sick is that?! also there is a motorcycle clothing/ accessory store here in my area im hoping to get a chance to go to today, the have a matchless, a couple triumphs, old hondas, and BSA's and stuff they always have displayed in the windows! so stellar 
any how the work here is awesome we are working hard and having success. we have 4ish investigators that could potentially have a baptismal date in the next few weeks so fingers crossed. We have 9 potential investigators who are progressing ( some slower than others) but none the less we are teaching them and they are progressing so thats good. There is one story in particular from this week I'll never forget. We were out tracting one day. We met a lot of cool people and taught a few of them, but it was a long tracting day, we did 5 solid hours and biking on the hills in tennessee which are not for the weak of heart... haha anyways we did a hard day of tracting and at some point we were supposed to go contact this media referral from This lady requested a copy of Joy to the World- the video about Christ’s birth and we knew we weren't supposed to go over until we had our ward missionary ( josh) with us. we weren’t really sure why but we waited till we were with josh that night to go see her. We go and knock on her door and she says from behind the door "who is it?" it was the voice of a very frail older woman (turns out she’s 80.) we briefly explain we have the video she requested and we'd like to give it to her. she opens the door and we talk a bit and she says she is christian and doesn’t want to hear about mormonism and stuff like that but we ask if we can say a prayer with her before we leave and she invites us in to pray. we are standing in her small little entry way and I offer a simple sweet prayer and offer a blessing on her and her home, shortly after she says a prayer and is very emotional. after the prayer she looked up at us and looked at our name tags and she introduced herself as Katherine D, we then introduce ourselves and then she looks at josh and says," And you! you're here! whats your name? -joshua- Oh joshua! just like in the Bible!" she looked at josh as if she distinctly recognized him and knew he would be there... (so spiritual? haha i about died) anyways.. As it turns out in the last 8 months or so she has lost her husband and this is going to be her first christmas with out him. We told her that the savior loves her and is watching out for her and testified of the plan of salvation. she then asked 'Will I recognize him (referring to her husband) when I get to heaven" which shocked me to find out that these churches here teach the people that they wont be able to recognize each other in the next life. But none the less, we answered her and said essentially, yes of coarse you'll be able to recognize each other in heaven. josh offered her a copy of the book of mormon and we gave her a pamphlet on the plan of salvation and invited her to church. she is really excited about it! she wants to come to church next week and she is going to start reading the Book of Mormon! She expressed over and over again that we don't know how grateful she was that we came to see her. We are going to call and check in with her tomorrow and see if we can do anything for her and josh and his family are supposed to go caroling to her soon as well. she is really one of the sweetest ladies i've ever had the privilege of meeting. 
Its really been a humbling experience out here on my mission. I have had the opportunity to feel the savior work through me and touch his children. The amount of pure Christ-like love I feel for these people, because i get to stand in place and represent Jesus Christ himself is unparalleled. It's like nothing i've ever felt before. And by feeling the love for the people i serve I feel the saviors love and trust in me individually. I know the savior loves us deeper than we can ever imagine. He is there for us in our deepest darkest times of need and there to celebrate with us in our times of success. No one wants us to succeed in this life more than he. And Russell M. Nelson taught us while we are here - just as our family back home prays for us because they are our #1 fans Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ pray for us also because they love us more and want us to succeed more than anyone. 
the mission is great I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve, thanks for the love and support!
Love Elder Bakker

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10

The AP's, Elder Christensen, Elder Nelson, Pres and Sis Irion, Andrew

Andrew's in the yellow tie in the far right corner, this is at the dinner following Elder Nelson speaking to the mission.

Hey Mom!
So good to hear from everyone. Life In Tennessee is so so so awesome! Yeah I've been wearing a short sleeved shirt all week the weather is so sweet. Ok so a couple way awesome things happened this week. To start we were visiting the b family, super cool less active family, but they started to come back to church. On a side note they totally have a pet squirrel and we played with their pet squirrel, he totally was eating pretzels on top of my head. Also we tract multi-million dollar lake houses (totally knocked on the door from the CEO of Mastercraft). 
Hmm what else cool happened? Oh yeah ELDER NELSON came and since we are in the mission home area we got to go over the night he got in and Elder Christensen, the AP's, the Irions, ELDER NELSON, and I all got to hang out, eat desert and have small talk for an hour or so. That man is a man of God there is no doubt about it. Then the next day he spoke to the mission. My brain felt like soup after he spoke, it was so crazy! He also left an apostolic blessing on us and there was really nothing like the spirit that was there in that room. 
Also we just got 2 new investigators that are both member referrals. One named Robert and he is really taking the lessons and exploring the church very seriously and he is reading and praying about the book of mormon, such a stud this guy is totally going to be baptized soon. while we were teaching him last night we got a phone call with our other referral and it was a part member family’s home teacher. He called us and said that the wife of the guy he home teaches decided she wants to start taking the lessons because she wants to be baptized! so exciting, can’t wait to teach her!  
Elder Christensen and I have been really striving for exact obedience and we have really been working hard so we are having success. (funny how that works right? -gotta love life lessons) The meal calendar doesn’t have a day on the calendar not filled and we constantly have people wanting us to fit them in somewhere! The work is awesome and I am having the time of my life. The gospel is true and I'm really loving the changes it makes in my life as well as watching the changes in the people around me. 
Tis the season to share of our abundance. not only do we have an abundance of worldly things but also we have an abundance of the gospel. So everyone do yourself a favor and receive the blessings that come from sharing the gospel with those that don’t have it!
I love you all oh and tennessee-ism of the week is -farsee ( a measure of distance: you go as far as you can see. 2 farsees is you go as far as you can see once then as far as you can see again) ha gotta love it. 
Love Elder Bakker

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3

Even missionaries need to sleep

A little bit of Little Dutch Boy right in Super Walmart in Tennessee

 Hey yall
K, so i decided I’ll start sending you Tennessee-isms you have already heard twiced,( they also like to say onced...) so for this week the tennessee-ism is short-britches! ha i heard that one from our good pal Johnny. We go over there eat venison and the best pickled beets I've ever tasted and throw horse shoes. ha what a classy guy. he has been taught by the missionaries before but I think i mentioned this already but we tracted into him and started teaching him again. We are going to invite him to be baptized this week i think. Oh and before I forget yes i have been getting the packages and letters thank you so much its nice to have the support and love!
ok on a more serious note I'll share a little story about following the promptings of the spirit. so in our last district meeting Elder Taylor our district leader (an ex-heavy metal guitarist haha)  challenged us to get 10 OYM contacts a day. an OYM means open your mouth. basically just talking to anyone you run into or meet. So Elder Christensen and I took it seriously and after dinner this last friday we had about an hour left and we had only done 3, so we got in the car and said a prayer. We both felt that we needed to go get gas and I said we shouldn’t go to the one by our apartment and Elder Christensen said we need to head over by the mission office, so we did. On the way over I knew that we had to talk to the cashier. so we get there and talk to everyone we run into, one guy was a local preacher, very nice guy he even gave us some of his own work, ha we each got a copy of his book... anyways then we went to pick up a gallon of milk so we can talk to the cashier. 
Her name is Jen and it turns out she just moved here from minnesota and she has been looking for a church, we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and exchanged contact info so we can meet with her later this week! So awesome anyways similar story about the next gas station we went to only the cashiers name was Denise and she wants to come to church and she even took a stack of pass along cards to give out to people as they check out! so rad! haha
another cool thing we have been doing is "Living Christmas Cards" its an awesome way to get referals. We tell the ward we are delivering living Christmas cards and they just line up to give us the names of their friends we can deliver them to. What we do is knock on the persons door and as soon as they answer we start singing a Christmas carol (our current go to carol is "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" -solid one) and then say " Is this the Smith residence? oh well your neighbors Mike and Sharon M across the street asked us to deliver this living Christmas card to you". -they almost always say oh thats so sweet of them- then we ask if it'd would be ok if we came in and read them the Luke 2 account of Christ's birth. we say a prayer with them and invite the spirit into their home and ask if they would be interested in hearing more about Jesus Christ some other time and hopefully get a return appointment. pretty simple and it is awesome. I will say though it takes guts. If i didn’t have the spirit with me I don’t think I’d be able to do it.
More about life in Tennessee- We have been lucky enough to have a car the last couple weeks but we have to give it back today, we always get the temporary car since we are so close to the mission office. Yeah we love using the Ensign the talks are always wonderful as well as the pictures, Im making a flip-chart about how the book of mormon came to be and the pictures will help, my doodles can only go so far haha. As far as things I need... Dad i need you to turn our chocolate chip recipe into one we can do with measuring cups as well as using a regular oven and send that to me along with a copy of the original. ( i can cut it in half if i need to). And just FYI ill be buying a fleece jacket or something as a mid layer so i can just use my rain jacket as my coat so don’t be startled if you see that charge.
The work is awesome. good to hear about everyone! love you all!
Love Elder Bakker