Monday, January 25, 2010

Emma's Getting Baptized!

Hey Family,

Another week in Bayamon has gone by and I can’t believe how fast it went. It’s been an amazing week. The best thing that happened is that Emma is getting baptized! We are so excited! We left her the pamphlet and 2 Nephi 31 to read and so she knew what we were going to talk about before we got there. I am pretty sure that she had already sort of made up her mind to say yes before we even taught the lesson. She’s getting baptized on the 13th and confirmed on the 14th which is the weekend before Hermana Venegas goes home. So we couldn’t be happier. She went to sacrament meeting and she was so happy she just loved it so much. She told us after, well basically the spanish equivalent of “they're going to have to drag me away from here”. She told me that she learned so much and she just loves coming to church and listening to our lessons because she is learning so many things she never knew before. She says. It’s just so amazing to see someone change their life completely and accept doctrines that are so different from what they know and see how much hope it brings to their life.

Another amazing thing that happened this week is that we got to listen to Elder and Sister Bednar and Elder and Sister Costa of the seventy and Elder and Sister Viñas, the caribean area president. We heard from their wifes who each bore their testimonies then Elder Vinas and Elder Costa talked for a bit and then there was a little less than 2 hours where Elder Bednar had a sort of question and answer session. He had given us talks beforehand which we studied personally, as companionships and then also at Zone Conference so that we could be prepared for him to come. The talks are amazing, they are called Seek Learning by Faith and Ask in Faith. After reading these he asked us to come prepared with questions to ask. He then did a question and answer session but the coolest thing was that he never really answered them with straight answers. He would tell people that they should read certain parts of the scriptures looking for certain things. He would encourage them to do more studying to find their answer for themselves instead of “borrowing his answer”. His whole point was teaching us how to seak our own answers through prayer and acting in faith. We talked a lot about how to teach our investigators to do the same, that we are really teaching them how to act, keep commitments, find their own answers through the scriptures and prayer etc. I wish I could tell you all the stuff that we talked about it was absolutely amazing. It is so cool to be sitting in a chapel just 4 rows back from an apostle. Such an amazing experience.

Other than that things in Bayamon have been sort of same old thing. Hasn’t been raining as much here which is great and we’ve had a really busy week with tons of lessons and a lot of really good investigators. And sadly we’ve had a hard time tracking others down. It’s pretty depressing when you have an investigator that was progressing and do so well that you can’t get a hold of. Things are good though. This week will be a little crazy because Hermana Venegas and another Sister in the mission that is also in her last transfer will be doing intercambios these next three weeks. That means that Hermana Venegas and this other sister will be going around the island and doing exchanges with sisters in order to help train them on certain things. That means that for about 3-4 days out of the week for the next three weeks I will be with other sisters. I am excited to get to know some of the other sisters in the mission but it also means a lot of driving back and forth and traveling around the island and I will have to show the other sisters around the area and get to the know the investigators and members. It will be a good learning experience. It’s going to be a super crazy last few weeks and then Hermana Venegas will be going home. So weird. I’ll let you know how these next few weeks go.

Sounds like things are going good at home from what I heard from Mom. That’s cool that you’ll be doing the knitting thing at the Wool Cabin. You should find some way to express mail some of those enchiladas my way. Last night we ate some interesting food, liver and gizards sound good? Aparantly it’s a traditional Puerto Rican food from the campo. Don’t worry normally we eat really good. Hope everything is going good at home. Love you all.

{Here is the picture of the pastel in last weeks letter...the picture didn't go through}

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Hey Family,

Sorry this is the second week in a row that emails have come on Tuesday. Last week was a Puerto Rican National holiday so the library was closed and this week was Martin Luther King Day. Just so you know anytime there is a holiday that will probably be the case so don’t get worried if my emails come late. It’s been really sad to hear about the earthquake in Haiti. We didn’t feel anything in Puerto Rico, which is really lucky. We don’t know much about what is going on over there except what we have heard from members or other people that we are teaching but it sounds horrible. Lots of people here are gathering clothes and food to send over there. It’s so sad though!

Well we were safe from earthquakes this week but not from the rain. I’m pretty sure it rained for about 6 days straight here this week. There would be a break in the rain and then it would pour again. We couldn’t even go out to one part of our area, Naranjito because the fog was so thick and the roads were so wet it wasn’t safe to drive. But it’s sunny now and we are extremely happy because we don’t get wet anymore. We had a few days where we were out knocking and it suddenly starting to pour. When it pours, it is nothing like pouring rain back home. Here they call it Aguacero which means down pour and we got soaked. I sent you pictures of what we looked like two different days after knocking. We couldn’t help but laugh because we were so soaked we had to run home and change before one of our teaching appointments because we felt like we couldn’t walk into someone’s house like that.

But actually this week has been amazing! We have some amazing investigators. We have a possibility of 10 people going to church this coming Sunday! Even though it was slow opening up this new area we are finally seeing a lot of potential. We are super excited. Some of the best things this week are 1) Emma went to stake conference! She was super nervous and she didn’t have anything to wear to go to church, which is why she didn’t go last week, but she drove all around town trying to find something that fit (she weighs about 90 pounds) and she looked so cute and even though it was super different and she had so many questions she really liked it. We are going to commit her to be baptized this week! We are super excited. We’ve had some extremely amazing lessons with her lately and even though she might be hesistant and nervous I do believe that she knows that she needs to be baptized and that this is the true church. Second amazing thing, was that we couldn’t get a hold of Naitza this week because her phone was disconnected and we couldn’t go to Naranjito because of the rain. We finally got out there on Saturday when the weather cleared up and she was so excited to see us. She has read half of the Book of Mormon! She has been talking to her daughter that lives in another city going to school but her daughter wanted a Book of Mormon as well. We have a lot of other really great investigators that we haven’t taught that much to but some of them are amazing.

I’m glad to hear that things are going well at home. It sounds like you have had some nice time to relax in Spring City and I’m sure everyone is enjoying mom’s new hobby of breadmaking. I’m jealous. We usually just make pretty simple meals for ourselves at home, we try not to eat at member’s houses too often because one, Hermana Venegas doesn’t want to get too sick, two because it tends to take a really long time, and three because members tend to feed you so much so we like to cook for ourselves. Mostly pretty basic stuff like what I ate back at home at BYU. I am sending you a picture of Pastel. Pastel is the tamale looking food that I told you about that is like a tamale but the maza is made up of mashed up green plantains. Probably the hardest thing for me to eat in Puerto Rico although I am getting more used to it. The rice and beans and turkey are very typical Puerto Rican food.

I am also sending a few pictures, sorry I can’t send more, it just takes so long to load each one, of last P-day when we went to Isla de Cabras. You can see El Moro which is in old San Juan, in the background.

Hermana Venegas goes home February 18 so we have a little less than a month still together. It’s so weird that she’s leaving but we are determined to make this her best transfer ever. After she leaves I don’t know if I’ll stay in Bayamon but it is most likely that I will just because they probably would want me to stay so at least one sister will know the area, the investigators and the members. But I guess we’ll see. Sounds like you are having a great time in Vermont, Erin. I’m glad you like it, even though you are super busy. It sounds like you are meeting a lot of really cool people. I hope you are loving London, Rach. I’m sure you are super busy so you don’t have to write a ton but I would love to here about your classes and what you do everyday there. Hope everything is going well with school, Ab. Let me know how senior year and the college decision making process is going. That’s super cool that you are doing the genealogy classes, Dad. I’m sure you will be pro at it by the time I get back. Hope you don’t have too crazy of a busy season this year at work, although I am sure it is completely inevitable. Well I wish I had more time to tell you all everything sorry I don’t have hours and hours to write but I love you all so much. Hope everything goes well this week with school and work!


Hermana Brooke Barker

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More from Puerto Rico

Hey Family,

Sorry the email is a day late because yesterday was a holiday all the places to do email were closed so we got to do it today. Sounds like things are pretty good back at home and you are all so busy with all your different things. I'm sure Erin, that you are completely swamped back in Vermont but Mom said that you get to room with Hannah again so that will be really fun. Good luck starting this new semester hopefully it won't be so stressful for you. I want to hear about how it went back in Vermont when you have some time. Rach! You are in London how awesome is that? I'm sure it will be hard at first but I know that you are going to love it just try to go into the city as much as you can and make a list of all the things you want to see while you are there so you make sure you make time to see them. It was hard in Spain, because we had so much to do with classes but just remember that you are there to enjoy it and you'll find ways to multitask, I got pretty good about reading and doing homework on the bus and the train on the way to and from Madrid. You'll find a way to see everything that you want to see. Abby, I'm guessing you are going back to school right now hope everything goes well you'll have to keep me updated on how the last few months of Senior Year are. Thanks for the emails Mom and Dad sounds like things are good back home. Unfortunately we haven't been back to teach Victor and Enid one time we went and he wasn't there and we can't get a hold of them and they live about 45 minutes away so we'll try and stop by again.

We did have a pretty cool experience with a woman named Naitza, who lives on their same street, that we are teaching. We taught her the first lesson last week and we came back this week and she was ready waiting for us Book of Mormon in hand. She had to be somewhere so we didn't have a ton of time but we talked about 3 Nephi 11 with her. She told us a really neat experience how she had prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and she ended up having this amazing experience where she prayed for the longest time, to the point where she was in tears, asking him what she needed to do with her life and just praying and thanking him for everything. She said that she asked God to know that he was there with her and then she went to turn of the light and she couldn't turn it off for the longest time she tried and she ended up having to unplug it from the wall. She said that she knew that God was listening to her prayer. She knows that what she read was true. She not only read 3 Nephi 11 but also from the beginning up until 1 Nephi 13. She didn't tell us what it was exactly but she also told us that she had an even more spiritual experience that morning that she knew that she needed to change her life and that what we are teaching her is good. She is an amazing person and we are really excited to go back and teach her today. She told us that she is going to take her son to daycare or have someone watch him for her so that she can be completely focused on what we are going to teach her. We are going to watch the restoration dvd with her today so I know it will be great.

We were able to go yesterday on our P-Day to a place called Isla de Cabras which is in Cataño which is on the Northern Coast. There is a peninsula that sticks out and there is a national park on it and we went out there and hung out for a few hours. It is right across the water from Old San Juan and you can see El Moro just across the water. Old San Juan is in the other mission so we can't go but it was fun to go out there with other missionaries and take pictures and have a little time to relax. I'll send you some pictures next time I email. Other than that this week has been pretty regular we're still teaching the same people we have some great investigators but we are having a hard time getting them to come to church. Some of them also have some really hard things going on in their lives right now that are making it hard for them. But we are praying that Feni will be able to be married, that we will know how to help our other investigators get through their tough times and that we will somehow be able to help them all come to church this week. Each week is the hardest thing, waiting outside the church just praying that they'll show after they told you they would and then going inside at the last minute before it starts without anyone coming. Well, thanks for your emails, I love you all I'll send you all pictures when I get a chance.

Hermana Barker

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010!

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for all the emails. So great. I wish I had time to write all of you back individually but by the time I read all the emails, and read the email to the President then write the president I don't have time much time left. So sorry, I will try next time to write more individual ones. Thanks for the cookie recipe, if you want to send me one more that doesn't take chocolate chips that would be great. We don't have an oven just a stove top but maybe later in another apartment we will, but several members have been asking for cookie recipes. No one makes cookies, they are a novelty. Thanks for all the suggestions about food for Hermana Venegas. It’s too bad that letter took almost a month to get there. I think I didn't put enough stamps on it. Woops. But she is doing fine, we are still careful what we eat and we try not eating at member's houses too much and she hasn't had any problems. She told me to tell you all thank you so much for giving her all those suggestions and for the Christmas gifts. We loved them.

Well New Year's Week was pretty good. We didn't have too many appointments and most of the members were really busy too. So we did a lot of knocking (we have started to call it "gritar puertas" instead of "tocar puertas" which literally means yelling doors) and spent a long time recontacting people we had appointments with before. We did get a lot of good first lessons, surprisingly a few people let us in to teach so we're excited to go back and teach them a second time. Something sort of cool that you can tell Rob and Cindy Norton if you see them, is that we found a man and his daughter that live in Naranjito that were taught by Elder Norton way back when. It sounds like they taught them quite a bit and they did service for them several times. They talked a lot about him and how great he was. Their names are Victor Nieves and the daughters name is Enid. We taught them the first lesson and it was super spiritual, we are excited to go back and teach them again and hopefully they'll want to learn more and can progress. We taught Emma again this week several times. She is so awesome! She loves the Book of Mormon, she told us she started reading it from the beginning and loved it so much but then she remembered that she had an assignment of something to read. She is reading everything we give her and has the best questions. We brought a member with us to visit her and she started telling her how we found her and how every time we would come by she was busy, things kept happening to distract her but finally we came back and were able to teach her and it’s been distraction free ever since. Then she looked down at her arms and rubbed them and said "I get goose bumps every time I talk about it". *in Spanish of course :) She is so great. We talked to her about attending church with us and I could tell she wants to but she is just really nervous to go. It is so different for her. But she said she would come if she could find something to wear. So we waited outside the chapel for her forever, just waiting looking for every time the light changed hoping her car would turn into the parking lot. She never came and we were so said. We had been fasted and praying so hard for her. But we are still hopeful.

Not too many other things to tell we are still just spending a lot of the time either walking around sweating a ton or being rained on. Thanks for the umbrella by the way my companion is borrowing it cause her's broke. I'm trying to think of other funny or crazy things that have happened this week. New Year's was pretty funny because everyone here is pretty crazy. We had to be home at 6:00 pm so we bought martinelli's apple cider and some popcorn and then did our weekly planning. Meanwhile you can hear fireworks and music blasting and everyone shoots up these things in the air that are full of dynamite so it was pretty insane. Surprisingly we slept pretty well, the next morning it was pretty much silent. More quiet than it has ever been since I got here. No noise anywhere except for the coquis. No one was even out in the streets til the afternoon. Things here are good though I am getting a lot better at understanding the Spanish here and being able to speak it. Oh guess what? I forgot to tell you that Elder Bednar is coming on the 23rd to our mission. We are super excited that we get to have a mission conference and hear him speak. Also transfers are this week and Hermana Venegas and I are staying in Bayamon. Which means I will be with her until she leaves to go home in 6 weeks. So we have decided that we are going to work extra hard so that she can finish out strong. Thanks so much for all your letters this week, wish I could write more. Rach you are going to London this week! That's crazy and so exciting. I want to hear all about it. Good luck, Erin, with going out to Vermont, I'm sure it'll be really good it sounds like you are going to have a great semester with a really good advisor. Hopefully it will be a little less stressful too. Don't worry about writing any super long letters cause I know that when you are there it is super crazy. Abby, sounds like school is going well. I'm excited to see dance pictures and I'm glad you had a good time on New Years. Thanks for all the long letters it was so good to hear from you all. Sorry mine are always so short. P-days have been crazy. This transfer has been nuts, every P-day has been crazy first we had to buy things for the new apartment, then we were in the hospital, one week we spent forever getting my license, one week we had to get the car service so we spent several hours in Pepboys, it’s crazy and there is barely enough time to do laundry, grocery shop clean and do everything else. Hopefully this next transfer things will calm down and I can write home a little more and hopefully relax. But that's probably not likely. Oh well. Love you all. Good luck this week with going back to school, work, etc.

Hermana Barker