Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dec 16

Hey all,

Well the work in Oak Ridge is pretty slow honestly. We are still struggling to find people to teach, and we have been working our tails off this last week or so trying to get all prepared for this huge zone meeting/conference hybrid. We are doing a couple trainings and a few other things. I have really been busy with a lot of administrative type tasks the last little while, but that's ok you gotta do what you gotta do! It will be an exciting meeting filled with the spirit and Christmas Cheer!
Speaking of Christmas cheer, we had the Oak Ridge parade this Saturday and it was AWESOME! We passed out roughly 1,000 pass along cards and I think really put out a "mormons aren't weird cultists" message for the community. I never realized how much I loved Christmas until I did these last two parades! We felt like the "Holiday Cheermister sitting in the chair of cheer!" from the Grinch. We were actually able to meet Sarah's parents at the parade (their family has llama's... like 40 of them... which I never knew till Saturday) anyways... We met her parents and were able to get them to agree to have a lesson with us so that's really exciting! I’ll include some pictures of the float and llamas and Christmas cheer.
 Christmas really is about the birth of the Savior. I love being able to read time and time again the story of from Luke 2 and knowing that He is the one who will help me to obtain what really is most important. Eternal life with my family. Love you all MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Love Elder R.A. Bakker

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dec 9

Hey hey,  
A few cool things happened this week, we found a family we are going to start teaching so that was pretty cool! they seem very prepared and open to the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ! 
In other news we had the Wartburg parade this Saturday.  It was a blast! We built a sweet float and it had a manger scene at the back on the stage with elves in the front with giant wrapped boxes of gifts we could give the Savior, things like virtue and charity etc. We missionaries and the youth walked along side the float and passed out mormon.org #webelieveinChrist rubber bracelets. The youth were cold and kind of not all that excited to be there at first so naturally we got everyone to start Christmas caroling while we were walking and it was a blast! huge success! plus everyone had fun! We are going to be in the much bigger and better attended Oak Ridge holiday parade this Saturday so I am sure you will get to see some pictures of that one! 
In other news we were able to get one of our less actives out to church this week, we are working on strengthening his testimony and getting him out on a mission, plus he brought Sarah his girlfriend that we have been teaching too so it was awesome to see both of them there. 
The Christmas devotional was really good last night as well and Elder Rasband even mentioned Hannah Last Corbany, who is brother Cornaby's (from Farragut) great great grandmother. She wrote hymn 260 in the hymnal "Who's on the Lord's Side?"  
Well Merry Christmas! don’t forget to remember the Lord this time of the year! What are you going to put under the tree for Him?
Love ya!
Elder R.A. Bakker

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dec 2

Hey y'all!
Great week and happy December!  Thanksgiving was awesome! We went to dinner with some members that we are really close to and also went to the church for a dinner that a few families put on for people in need and people who don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving. It was great! There was all kinds of food, we deep fried a turkey and one of the members brought one that was entirely wrapped in bacon! We also got to play in the annual turkey bowl this year which was great, we missionaries who don’t get to play sports like that too often were sore for days but it was totally worth it.
We have been teaching a members girlfriend named Sarah lately and she is awesome I may have told you about her last week... I don't remember. But she is great, we are hoping to commit her for baptism this week or next. It's been really difficult for us to find any new investigators lately but there is the parade coming up! Wartburg is in our area and we have like 2 active families up there so it is hard to find new people to teach understandably. The ward decided to enter a float in the Oak Ridge parade this year because of a little extra money in the budget, so we also decided to put in the Wartburg parade this weekend! We are going to be walking with it and handing out bracelets that link you to a twitter page the youth in the ward made #webelieveinChrist , and custom pass-along cards/fliers that have our phone number on it and other info! We are praying for some new investigators from this and we hope that a miracle will come out of it! well thanks for everything! hope all is well!
Love Elder R.A. Bakker

Nov 25

Hey Mom,
Little Dutch Boy Cookies in Tennessee
For thanksgiving we are going to the church for a group thanksgiving dinner kind of thing hopefully another members house or two as well. Oh and the turkey bowl in the frigid morning. Well it's a new transfer with new goals and plans and a reinforced vision to baptize! The new companion is elder Williams from Pocatello, Idaho. He is awesome, pretty quiet guy but quite funny and very motivated. We are really working with our zone on finding and then teaching our investigators the most important thing so they then have a real desire to be baptized. We are really trying hard to lead by example and find, teach, and baptize ourselves.
Andrew, E Scouten, Cody, E Russo
On that note Ill talk about Maria. She hasn’t been to church now two weeks in a row. We are working really hard to help apply the "balm of Gilead" in her life. In order for her to be ready for the sacred covenant of baptism we are going to postpone her date for the time being until we feel she is truly ready for that step. She is very sweet and really doing her best to prepare. We were able to teach her this week with Sister K a sister from the ward who is an LDS family and clinical psychologist. She was able to help us get a better idea on how to help her and where she is at emotionally. The World can really do some damage on people that can't or don't know how to utilize the atonement.
E Russo, E Williams, Andrew
There is an over arching theme among many southerners of "I have already been saved, and Jesus took my sins away." That's all good but it really shows how much they just don't understand. That faith is only a piece of the picture and with out the whole restored gospel of Jesus Christ it salvation will never come to fruition. Our purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end. With out that whole cycle, you are on the wrong road and can't partake of the fruit of the tree of life. We were able to teach this to a less active teenager who is thinking about a mission and his nonmember girlfriend yesterday and it was awesome. Alex and Sarah. They are great I really think we can help him get ready for a mission and help her enter in "by the gate." I feel if we all really understood the gospel of Jesus Christ, like really understood we would never sin. Proverbs 6:32 " But whoso comitteth [adultery with a woman] lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul." Or [sin]. I hope and pray that we can all be grateful for the supreme blessing of the gospel in our lives this holiday season. I love you all and hope all is well!  

Love Elder RA Bakker

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nov 18

Hey family!
Well, transfer call came Saturday and it looks like Elder Russo and I are staying here and Elder Schouten is off to be a zone leader in Maryville (pronounced murrvol). So we will be getting a new companion, a brand new zone leader President has asked me to train up.  New transfers are great because it gives us an opportunity to reevaluate our vision and goals so that we can grow and be more effective, even though we will miss Elder Schouten it'll be a real treat. Should be a good transfer.
Maria is doing well she has a baptismal date for December 7th (happy Pearl Harbor day...) She has had the hardest time understanding and really getting the gospel so we have taught her over and over as simply as we can and she really is finally starting to figure it all out. She came with us to the addiction recovery class this week and loved it. She told me the other day that if she wants to continue seeing these positive changes in her life she has to put forth the effort. So she has been reading the scriptures and working through the addiction recovery workbook on her own. She really is a sweet daughter of God. I have been able to see a bitter, scared and scarred woman turn into a happy and open individual through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The pain and grief of her past is being washed clean through the blood of the lamb. She really makes me happy. 
We have been blessed out here with people like Cody and Maria to teach. We have a really hard time finding people to teach because we live about 10 miles or so from our area and there are only like 5 active members in our whole area and its humungous with very few people... However like I said if we do our best the Lord continues to bless us.
All is well out here! Love you! sorry for the short time to email!
Love Elder R.A. Bakker 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nov 11

Hey Mom!
All is well out here! Transfers are coming up on the 20th so a week and a half and there's probably going to be a change of some kind. Elder Schouten goes home in 2 transfers so that is weird, who knows what will happen to us. There's a lot that has been learned here so by next week I'll know what's happening right now anything could happen.
little possum friend at zone conference  
As far as my week goes it was pretty good a little different. We had a zone conference training to prepare for Thursday, so we naturally were putting it off till Tuesday and Wednesday to flesh it all out and it was last Monday afternoon around 2:00, when we get a call from the assistants and they said "hey Elder Schouten and Elder Bakker is your training ready for zone conference?" we were all uh... no haha and they said "well can it be ready to present at mission leadership council tomorrow at 2:00?" .... haha we didnt have anything done for it except a few thoughts we had the week before. We accepted and that night spent hours creating this training and miracle after miracle helped us to pull it all together with a 24 hour notice to have it presented. We had an Idea for a piñata and thought hmm… piñatas are like $20... so we went to check it out to see if it was affordable to use for our training and Kmart is having a clearance and practically begged us to take these two big yellow truck piñatas for $2 a piece... Ha like that happens everyday. 

The training was great! We gave an wonderful training on goal setting and "the most important thing" or your purpose as a missionary and for our demonstration before we did the role play we had a piñata to demonstrate how if we don’t have a "vision" of want we are to achieve then we can't hit our target. It was fantastic! The lord helped us really prepare for the training and I have never had preparation or presentation of a training go so smoothly! Keep your eyes on the prize!
Love ya! Elder R.A. Bakker