week 1 . too many things...aaahhh!

10.29.2015

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YOO HOO FAMILY!!

Oh my goodness, I feel like just yesterday they told me I wouldn't be able to email for a whole week and now I am stressing about trying to write everything down haha. 

SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED!! They try to fit as much as possible in the twelve days that we have at the MTC so I am going to try and tell you about the highlights and you can read my journals 18 months from now for all the details haha. 

Also, MOM!! I know you asked me so many questions. I am going to try to respond to the important ones here so that you get them, but I might have to write you a letter to answer the others. 

Thank you so much for sending me Dear Elders every day. My district thinks that I am super popular! Too bad ten out of the thirteen letters I got were from my mom. Just kidding. Sort of haha. Jared Baker and Alex Pratt both sent me really sweet Dear Elders that were so great to read and Dad sent me an awesome one as well! I also got a letter from Jessica Eliason that made my day, so much laughing/smiling!! And all the packages have been amazing mom!!! My district [mom note: A group of missionaries assigned to work together] loves you and a bunch of random sisters in my residency love you because they got delicious cookies when I couldn't find anyone else to give them to and I didn't want to eat another after my fourth haha (just kidding! I only ate three ;))

Okay, I LOVE MY INVESTIGATORS! We teach one of our teachers (role-play) and that is super awesome because my teacher Sister Spence is amazing!! I want her to be with me on my whole mission! And then we teach two people who could be real investigators or members playing investigators. Either way, Sister Boekweg and I are teaching Erika and Miranda. They are both students living here in Provo and I love them! We only have one more lesson with them and I am so sad that we wont see them anymore after that!!! Sister Boekweg and I are going to use those cute Halloween treat bags mom sent to give treats to our investigators because our last lesson with them is on Halloween! I want to be best friends with them, they are sooooo sweet!

Coolest thing ever!! We only have one Tuesday devotional in the MTC and Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke to us this last Tuesday! It was broadcast to I think 8 other MTC's and his talk was absolutely AMAZING!!! He shared a Mormon Message video that was made from one of his talks in Priesthood Session of General Conference. I thought about Nate [mom note: Emily's brother] because it was a video about Sid Going. He was a really good rugby player who decided to serve a mission and it is a really cool story!! Even if you have seen it, you should all go watch it again. IT IS REALLY GOOD!!



The Organist at the meeting on Tuesday night was Professor Mendenhall. WOOT WOOT! OCMCO is the best!!! [mom note: A choral and orchestra organization that Emily, her dad, and brothers have all been a part of]  I wanted to go say hi but we were sitting on the other side of the room and had a meeting right after devotional. But it was really cool to think that he may be seeing the boys in a week of two at practice. WEIRD!!!

We watched a video on Sunday night which is movie night in the MTC!! It was called Characteristics of Christ and it is by Elder David A Bednar. You can only watch it in the MTC, but I think that you can read it somewhere. Try and find it if you guys can, it is an AMAZING TALK!!!

Random note: That scripture marking pencil Andrea gave me never leaves my side and all of the elders in my district went and bought one for themselves because they got sick of sharpening their scripture marking pencils haha. I really love it so much and may be needing refills sooner than I would have guessed :)

The MTC has truly been one of the most amazing experiences! I am doing great and loving every minute! It is hard work, but the Lord is helping me through every step of the way. I know that I will never regret the decision I have made. I will never forget everything that I have learned in my time here. 

I am sad to leave my district as they go off to serve in different parts of the world. They have built me up so much. They all have amazing testimonies! (random, but Elder Hopkins is in the Pratt's ward. [mom note: Family] He wants his mom to see the pictures that I am sending to you guys, so if you can find her somehow and give her the link to my blog I bet she would love to see pictures!) [mom note: The pictures she was trying to send never came through. Luckily a girlfriend of one of the elders texted me the pictures in this post.] I love my district though, like seriously these two weeks would be so hard on my own.

I also have an AMAZING and LOVING companion who constantly helps me to become better and who loves me. I love her so much, and I am soooo happy we were companions!

The church is true!!! I am so excited to meet and love the people of Jamaica!!

Have a wonderful week!!

So much love,
Sister Baker (Pie)[mom note: Our family nickname for her]

PS :: Mom heres travel info...
We have to be at the travel office at 3:30 on Tuesday morning. Our first flight leaves Salt Lake at 7:05 AM. We fly to Arizona and then to Florida and then to Jamaica. We land in Jamaica at like 6:59 PM or something really close to that. We have a one hour layover in each place so I don't know when the best time to call you is. Salt Lake? If so, will you be up? Let me know!!! LOVE YOU!!! 

PPS :: I got my blood drawn to check if I have HIV haha That was horrible! They had to do it twice because the first vein (inside of my left arm) didn't give them enough blood and now it is all bruised and ugly. Then they did it in my right wrist. I got sore and a little ugh feeling, but I drank lots of water and Im doing great!

back row :: Elder Hopkins, Elder Moyle and Elder Fenton
front row :: Sister Boekweg, Emily, Sister Burt and Sister Ellis


Emily and her companion Sister Boekweg


Em's District :: Sister Boekweg, Emily, Elder Hopkins. Elder Fenton, Elder Moyle, Sister Burt and Sister Ellis

snail mail . first letter from the mtc

10.26.2015

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Written: Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Yoo Hoo Family!

Ahhhhhhhh! Day one of the MTC is finishing up. It went really slow and kinda fast, I'm not really sure haha. I really liked it. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but it wasn't what I was expecting. This is kind of random but dinner was sooooo early, we ate at like 4:30 PM. We had steak and mashed potatoes and the steak was so red and bloody but I ate it! Woot Woot! Check me out haha.

Okay, I LOVE my district! There was supposed to be 4 elders and 4 sisters but one of the elders hasn't showed up. We don't know why. I hope he is okay.

Here is the rest of my district:

Sister Boekweg: She's my companion! I love her to pieces!! I am so excited to work with her, she is absolutely amazing and has an awesome testimony!

Sister Burt: She's from Idaho and is going to be serving in West Virginia. She is going to be a great missionary. She answered so many questions today and has amazing insight.

Sister Ellis: I'm pretty sure she is from Utah (not positive) and she is serving in Knoxville Tennessee. She is so nice and I love being around her. She has the biggest smile.

Elder Hopkins: He is from FOUNTAIN VALLEY! He knows the Pratts [mom note: Derek's sister's family] Woot! Woot! He is also serving in Tennessee. He has an amazing testimony and I know he will be able to connect with the people he serves.

Elder Moyle: He is from Idaho and is going to be serving in West Virginia as well. He's super funny/sarcastic and has a good sense of humor. He will be a great missionary.

Elder Fenton: I think he is from Utah (again, I'm not positive) and he will be serving in West Virginia too. He seemed nervous in the beginning but as the day progressed he seemed to be doing much better. He seems like a really nice guy. His companion was the Elder that didn't show up today.

That's my district. I am excited to grow closer to them.

Sister Boekweg and I are in a room with 4 other sisters who are all in our zone but the other sisters from our district are in the dorm next to us. The sisters in our room have a week left and then we will have some new roomies.

I met the MTC president and his wife and told him Ole Smith was my uncle. They were so sweet and took a picture with me and Sister Boekweg to send to him. If Ole hasn't sent it to you yet ask him for it.

I want to write you forever but I can't think of what else to tell you. Plus it's bed time and I need sleep before tomorrow haha.

Love you. I seriously LOVE YOU all so much and I am so thankful for all your support.

Love
Pie-diddle
(Sister Baker)

PS My pday is Thursday. [mom note: Pday or preparation day is a day off of sorts for missionaries. They use the day to write letters, clean, do laundry, grocery shop, play sports and things like that] We don't get one tomorrow but next Thursday.

Okay, love you so much mwah (that's a big kiss)




unexpected text

10.22.2015

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We got a sweet surprise as we drove the 10+ hours home from the MTC...our brother-in-law, Ole, knows the MTC president, President Burgess. Pres. Burgess sent the following text to Ole which he then forwarded on to us (complete with a photo)

"Ole, we found your niece, Sister Baker. She is happy and excited to be at the MTC on the first day of her mission. Dean"

President and Sister Burgess, Emily and her companion, Sister Boekweg

goodbyes

10.21.2015

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Emily entered the MTC today but not until she said all her goodbyes. We were able to meet up with family and friends at Sodalicious in Provo on Tuesday night which allowed Em the opportunity to say some of her goodbyes while drowning her sorrow in soda.




This morning found us getting ready for the day and bracing ourselves for the goodbyes. Sure gonna miss this kid but she's right where she wants to be and for that we are grateful.

getting ready at grandma and grandpa's house 


Emily and little brother Luke



with Grandma and Grandpa Wood















farewell

10.18.2015

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The long wait from opening the mission call to departure is quickly coming to an end. Emily's farewell was today. We enjoyed seeing family and friends and appreciate the support that was shown for Emily. We missed those of you that couldn't make it. A few of you that weren't able to come asked that we share Emily's talk. You can find it after the pictures.




Nathan, Dad, Mom, Luke and Emily
with Grammy Baker
Emily and Danielle
Where did we come from? Why are we here? And where are we going? These are three important questions that we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, have the answers to. We find these answers as we come to understand the Plan of Salvation, which our Heavenly Father has created for us so that we may find true happiness. Today I want to focus on four parts of the Plan of Happiness that I feel are important for each of us to understand: 1. The Purpose of the Plan, 2. Our Mortal existence, 3. The Atonement and 4. The Spirit world and the final judgment.

In his talk entitled The Plan of Happiness, President Boyd K. Packer shared a key principle of God’s plan for us. He said, “the end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity.” This is Gods purpose for us which we find in the scriptures in Moses 1:39 which reads, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

As I prepare to serve a mission I have had the most amazing opportunity to be and ordinance worker in the Newport Beach Temple. I have met one on one with each member of the temple presidency on separate occasions and in each meeting I have been asked what I believe my purpose is as a missionary. As I have met with them, it has become clear that my purpose is the same as God's purpose. It is to get people to the temple where they can be sealed to their families for time and for all eternity.  That is the end goal that we want every person on the earth to reach, but it is not that simple.

In transitioning from our pre-earth life to our life on the earth we passed through a veil of forgetfulness. We have been sent to earth to be tested and as we go through our mortal lives we are given trials and obstacles that test our spiritual strength. In the Book of Mormon, in Alma, chapter 12 we learn that this earth life is “a time to prepare to meet God.” Each person will experience his or her own unique set of trials and the Lord will never place a burden upon us that we are incapable of overcoming. He knows us and He gives us hardships that will help us to grow if we have the faith to work through them. When placed on the earth we were given agency, or the ability to choose. And when we encounter hardships we must use that agency to decide if we will let our trials take over or if we are going to turn to the Lord in our time of need so that we may understand the purpose of the trial we have been given.

While I was attending school at BYU-Idaho I was given an assignment in one of my classes to interview someone about trials that they had experienced and how they were able to overcome those trials. My thoughts immediately turned to a family that I knew had experienced many hardships and who I have always looked up to for their faith. I asked them questions and got some great answers back, but my favorite part was the testimony that they shared with me at the end. I am not going to attempt to paraphrase it, but instead would like to share this amazing testimony with you in their own words. It reads: “We grew SO MUCH through these hardships. My testimony was strong before but after our experiences, we have been so humbled and our testimonies are rock solid!  We see this world so much clearer. We know what's important in this life. It's not about social status. It's not about wearing the most expensive, trendy pair of jeans. It's not driving the nicest car, or living in a big beautiful home. NONE OF THOSE THINGS MATTER!!! It's about LOVE. It's about your family, your friends, your relationships. About how you can serve and help others grow and lighten their burdens. And those are the things that bring TRUE HAPPINESS. And those are things we can all do, anytime, all the time! I know that that is how we felt such joy and peace during our dark storm. I am extremely grateful for that huge lesson we have learned from our trials. It truly has been a GIFT!”

This family obviously turned to the Lord as they encountered trial after trial and because they were faithful they could see that there was a purpose for the obstacles that had been put in their path. I would like to point out that this did not make their hardships easy, but it did make them bearable. And now that they have passed what they referred to as their “dark storm” they can see what eternal happiness will come from the trials that they have faced.

That is the purpose of our life on earth. We will come face to face with so many different obstacles and struggles, some much bigger than others. But we cannot let those things tear us down, we need to remember that behind each trial or struggle is a lesson to be taught if we are willing to trust in the Lord and His will for us.

As much as I would love to believe that every time a decision is placed before me, I make the correct one, I know that is definitely not true. No one is perfect, each of us will make wrong decisions or maybe walk down the wrong path for a little while, but that does not mean that we cannot return to our Father in Heaven one day. Because of His perfect plan and because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, His son we are able to repent of our sins and be forgiven of our mistakes.

In our pre-mortal life, Jesus Christ volunteered to come down to the earth and atone for our sins so that we may all one day return to our Heavenly Fathers presence, “He was the only one capable of making a perfect Atonement for all mankind.” And because of His atonement we have been given the gift of repentance. President Packer said; “Nowhere is the generosity and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance.” This is so true! If there was no repentance, then we would all be expected to be perfect, to never make mistakes. And if we did make mistakes, we would not be able to enter our Heavenly Fathers presence. The atonement and repentance play such a vital role in the Plan of Salvation.

There is a story that I heard once during a lesson that I had about the atonement and I would like to share it with you today:

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked". I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed". The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read", "Lies I Have Told", "Comfort I Have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed At". Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have muttered Under My Breath at My Parents". I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I
hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 16 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts", I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self- pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With".

The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could
count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again.

He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.”

I love this story because it shows the love that Jesus Christ has for each and every one of us. No matter what mistakes we make, we can always find our way back to Him and he will welcome us with open arms. His love is unconditional and because of his atonement we are able to be forgiven for our mistakes and return to our Father in Heaven.

Once we have finished our time on the earth we enter the spirit world where we will “live either in a state of misery or a state of peace and rest, depending on how we lived in this life.” As we read in the Bible, in 1 Peter 4:6, those who are in a state of misery still have a chance to be taught the gospel in the SpiritWorld. God is a merciful being and He wants nothing more than for all of His children to be with Him forever. He has done everything in His power to create a plan that will allow His children to accept the gospel and its messages so that they may reach the Celestial Kingdom.

In order to reach the Celestial Kingdom, we must first be resurrected. Resurrection is when our spirits and our bodies will be reunited. Resurrection is a free gift made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After this, we face judgment. The definition of Judgment in Preach my Gospel states: “God, through Jesus Christ, will judge us individually to determine the eternal glory we will receive. This judgment will be based on our obedience to God’s commandments, including our acceptance of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We will receive our eternal reward based on whether our works and desires have been good or evil.” This judgement will determine where we spend the eternities.  I hope that each of us is doing all that we can to keep the commandments and to repent of our wrongs so that we can be found worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again.

The Lord is forgiving. He wants to be reunited with each of His children. He wants them to be faithful and true to His gospel. Because of this, He created a plan, a perfect plan, that we call the Plan of Salvation or Plan of Happiness. Through this plan, each of us were given the ability to choose, but we were also given the ability to repent after choosing poorly. The Lord made it possible for us to return to Him through the Plan of Happiness as long as we are willing to do our part. I am so grateful that He loved us enough to prepare a way for us to return to Him someday.

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