Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jan 27

Hey Family!
So put it on the calendar! Sarah is going to be baptized on Feb. 11th! She is so prepared and so ready! Very busy! Meetings meetings meetings! stake missionary correlation meeting, Mission leadership council, 2 district meetings, elder perry meting, and zone conference all in the next 8 days... My brain is melting to say the least. Also transfers is coming up! It is on the 12th and I will most likely be leaving unfortunately it appears as though my time has been spent in poplar creek west. The bright side about that is that Sarah will be baptized the evening before so it is likely that all the new greenies will get to come to the baptism on their first night in the field. Very exciting, ever since my first day (a couple months ago..) when I went to a baptism I have always wanted to be close enough and have a baptism on the day before transfers so all the new missionaries could get to come. So that will be pretty great. Sorry for the short email but everything is great we are just going 100 miles an hour with all the preparation and things and fitting in teaching Sarah and her family whenever they are available. We go to all 3 meetings on Sunday plus several meetings before, and sometimes after... Very busy day for us its when we get our best work and the most work done i would say. Thanks for the quote. The Gospel is the way home. Love Ya!
Love Elder R.A. Bakker

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jan 21

Hey Family! lots of cool things to report on! I'm a day late due to MLK Jr. day.  We are anxiously awaiting he arrival here of Elder L. Tom Perry of the quorum of the 12 to visit our mission on the 1st of February. He will be accompanied by a host of other general authorities which is very exciting! Elder Rasband the president of the presidency of the 70, elder Soares of the presidency of the 70, elders Kopishke, Zwick, Pino, and elders Heimis and Merideth local area 70's! Very exciting times indeed!
Monday- Brother R from Farragut took elder Williams and I to a place called Nama for sushi which was great.
Tuesday- We had 2 solid appointments. The first was lunch with Lee  (Sarah's dad who has been investigating the church) and his friend Brother S from a neighboring ward.  That went great! Sarah stopped in for a few minuets and let us know she got her answer last Sunday! She is great and so close to being baptized we are to meet with her this Thursday where we hope to solidify a date! We were also able to meet with Steve Tuesday, Thursday and yesterday (Monday) to teach him a little more. He is really starting to "understand" the Gospel. Its moving from his head to his heart and he is seeing the blessings in his life! he is progressing nicely and headed in the direction of baptism real soon I think!
Wednesday- Most of the day was spent in preparation for the upcoming Zone Training Meeting the next day. We went to lunch in the midst of the chaos and some random guy offered to buy our lunch! so that was great! We then come back to prepare for the meeting a bit more and to help a set of sisters with their training. They were training on companionship unity and everything was peachy when we assigned the training but the week leading up to the meeting their companionship just fell apart haha... So they were really not getting along and they were going to be training on companionship unity... They told us they weren't going to do it, which worried us, there was no one we could call the night before to train the next day so we were going to have to prepare another training to fill in for theirs... Long story short it all got worked out and they gave the training and all went well! Just a little headache and heart burn in the process.
Thursday- Zone meeting went well and we were glad about that. Elder Williams and I gave a training on Understanding to facilitate understanding in our investigators. We enjoy training and hearing all the other trainings for the missionaries, which all went splendidly.

 The rest of the week was good, no other notable experiences.  A lot of ups and downs in missionary work and we definitely had a good sampling of the whole wide spectrum this week. I continue to learn and grow especially in all the new problems to solve and experiences to be had. Joseph Smith taught there is no substitute for experience. Experience is one thing a mission really gives you to be prepared to face the challenges of everyday life to keep you strong in the gospel.
Love ya thanks for everything happy birthday tomorrow Grandma!
Love Elder R.A. Bakker

Monday, January 13, 2014


hey mom! 
Great week! Funny thing about being a missionary here (I don't know about everywhere else) is that is seems like you work your tail off for something to happen and finally you realize all that seemingly useless hard work ends up fitting perfectly into the grand plan and miracles happen. 
Well it all started a few stories ago back at the parade. We were able to meet Sarah’s parents and persuade them into meeting them with us (you will remember the llama pictures.) Anyways this week we were finally able to arrange that meeting at the C's home (her boyfriend Alex's family) Only her dad was able to come and meet with her and us and the C's but the lesson went well and we taught the "Most Important Thing" (see articles of faith 3 and 4) and we used a back drop of Lehi's vision of the tree on life and partaking of the fruit. During the lesson Sarah looks at her dad and asks him "nothing sounded weird to me, what about you?" and he said "no that all sounded right." Doesn't sound like much but the communication there was more than can be described in what was said, more of what was communicated was Sarah telling her dad it felt right to her and seeking his approval. Quite amazing, then she went to the ward that shares a building with us in oak ridge for church on Sunday with Alex to watch their friend Jacob give his missionary farewell talk, the spirit was felt and they were both in tears. They went to the C's after church and Alex took a nap for a few min. while Sarah and Sister C were talking and sarah was all torn up and in tears saying "I don't know what to do, I know my church isn't true and this feels so right!" She knows the church is true and just had a few concerns about priesthood, prophets, and the kingdoms of glory. Then later last night Elder Callister of the presidency of the 70 gave a fantastic devotional that we watched with Sarah on the apostasy and the "blueprints" (from the bible) of the true church, which kind of sealed the deal. Alex is thinking more and more about a mission and Sarah is ready to accept a date. Her parents and brother are on the hook for another lesson at their home with the C family. Things are going great! 
The Lord tries our faith but if we hold out faithful till the end he will provide a way. Pray for Sarah and the rest of the her family, they are going to need it. But for now all is well in zion. There isn't much better in life than seeing someone really understand! That's what Elder Williams and I are training on in zone meeting on Thursday is increasing our understanding so we can teach for understanding. In other words moving our surface level gospel information to true understanding in our heart. Preparations are going well and we are excited! 
Oh and yes the P’s are doing great! Jackson is still gung-ho on the whole mission thing. He has even picked new friends that are a better influence on him! I sure love the Powers they are amazing saints! 
Love ya! 
Elder R.A. Bakker

Monday, January 6, 2014

Jan 6

It's cold out here in Tennessee! We are having a cold front come through and everyone is losing their minds and cancelling school and everything and there's not even snow really. Oh life in Tennessee! It’s 13 degrees outside and you would swear there is a zombie apocalypse outside so everyone has decided to bunker down and load up on milk and bread!  Other than that there's not a whole lot new to report.
Elder Williams and I are really striving to find the ones the Lord has sent us here to find. We are trying to use our time as wisely as we can and be faithful that the Lord will provide us someone to teach. (that's really all we want) This is sure going to be a busy quick transfer though! We have a zone meeting, a bi-zone conference, 2 mission leadership coucils, 2 stake correlation meetings with the stake president and president Irion, as well as our meeting with Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Ulisses S. Soares on the 1st of Feb. Busy busy busy!
Our Focus for the zone is to become TRUE preach my gospel missionaries and be successful missionaries. In other words not just doing preach my gospel "missionary activities" but to have the gospel " awritten not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in btables of stone, but in cfleshy tables of the dheart." (thanks Paul [2 Cor. 3:3]) And to be able to go through your mission with a continuous focus on making sure you are always striving to be successful and not waiting for that scary moment to look back at the end of your mission to reflect when there is no time to change.
Once again with the beard from their Christmas parade float
As far as people we are working with we recently found a new investigator named Mike. We have another appointment with him later this week. And to answer your question Cody is doing great. He has been attending the Young Single Adult branch in Knoxville with his girlfriend Marissa. He has also said that if she goes on a mission he would go too. And she is really thinking about it! How cool would it be if he goes on a mission? Way cool! Speaking of converts going on a mission when I was in my first area we were teaching the P family, I’m sure you remember and all Jackson their 14 year old son would talk about is going on a mission. Well anyways we are going into Farragut for a meeting on Tuesday and Elder Williams and I are going out to lunch with the P’s before the meeting so that is exciting news!
Well all's well in Zion!
Love Elder R.A. Bakker

Dec 30

Hey family! 
Well Elder Russo sadly is leaving us. He is being transferred to another area nearby to continue the long awaited Visa! We are going to miss Russie and all the jokes, laughter, and cheer he brought to our companionship. Elder Williams and I are continuing the trek here in Poplar Creek West. Funny, after this next transfer I will have been here for 6 months! holy smokes! Time comes and Time goes but never as fast as it has this last transfer. I feel like the mission is really starting to speed up and I don't like it! haha There is work to be done and never enough time to get it all done. 
They were able to see Cody again
We were really able to learn a great lesson this week, It was especially a good life lesson for Elder Russo. We were talking about what it means to be a successful missionary and all the hard times and blah blah blah, when we realized something pretty simple and profound. We were talking about a man named Odie whom we have been teaching since we got to the area and has never been progressing because our ward mission leader never wanted to drop him, so really truth be told no harm no foul we continued to teach him. It was frustrating to teach him, but we did it anyways and didnt really see a point to it all. Well Elder Mills (an assistant that was also my second district leader) went on exchange here with Elder Russo and Elder Schouten and the were able to teach Odie and Elder Mills taught a principle found in Proverbs 6:32 " But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul." He replaced the word adultery with the word sin and taught that if we really understood we would never sin "because it's stupid!" So that lesson for Elder Russo was a lesson on how to teach and just interact with people helping them understand instead of automatically just getting frustrated with them, whether its here on the mission or with family or in business, it is a lesson neither Elder Russo or myself will ever forget. Seeing as the Lord is all knowing and " But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things." He decided to teach us a bigger lesson through teaching us that lesson (like inception but doctrinal haha) Well we were able to really gain a better understanding that whatever silly struggle or trial you are going through, like being forever teaching a guy that didnt really want anything but extra company, God knows and he is sending you through it for a reason. In other words "you got hard times? GOOD!" Stuck teaching someone who isn't progressing? GOOD! You got chewed out by your boss at work? GOOD! You're home sick? You're having a hard time at school? You forgot what scripture you were going to share? etc etc... GOOD! Learn your lessons and move on. 
Sorry that was a bit of a rant, but regrettably my journal writing is not very good so i have to record it somewhere. Also Elder Russo and Sister Hatch (a sister missionary in the ward) were asked to speak yesterday at church and there was one speaker left and way too much time so they called me up on the spot to come give a 15 min talk  so I did. You know that feeling when you get up to give a talk and realize that your talk is way shorter than you thought? well that happened to Elder Russo and Sister Hatch. However the opposite was true yesterday, I was able to give a great talk with no preparation for it. An interesting thought came to me yesterday as I was teaching about 1Nephi 8 Lehi's vision of the tree of life. So in the dream Lehi himself is found following a man dressed in a white robe through a vast waste land and a large and spacious field. And at the back of the field he is able to spot a tree, he goes to the tree and eats of the delicious pure, white, sweet fruit from the tree. The tree in this vision is representative of the savior and the fruit is the love of god or the blessings of the atonement of Jesus Christ. An analogy I was able to share on the spot that was taught me by the spirit was that this wasteland that Lehi wanders through is like the Christmas season. and the tree is what he was able to focus on. and when he got there he partook of the fruit that did what exactly? It made him happy. As I was able to keep my focus on the Savior this Christmas I was able to really be happy. If we decide to just hang out in the wasteland what is there for us? A few gifts, santa, and all the other good traditions that are fun but what is going to make us happy is our focus on the most important thing. Happy new year! 
Love ya! 
Elder R.A. Bakker

Dec 23

Morning Green Juice

So first off I know you know how talented i am at singing.. we were in the Christmas choir at church... ha i'll never make that mistake again! It was a lot of fun but I am not made to sing.... Christmas is around the corner... literally. It really snuck up on me this year! Our zone conference went stupendously! We delivered an excellent training and all were edified by the meeting. Also there were Christmas festivities after which were great too! Thanks to everyone for the packages and everything ! Sorry i dont have the time and means to thanks everyone individually! Well love you all talk to you on Christmas! 
Love Elder R.A.Bakker
and my christmas nativity "light stencil"