Hello from Springvale – Getting the baton

April 11, 2010

Hey everybody!

So, this has been quite an interesting week.  Transfers shuffled me to Springvale, which has a very large population of Asians.  Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese, and also folks from India, the middle east, Phillippines, etc.  Once again the diversity of Australia amazes me.  My companion is Elder Au-Yeung from the Chinese program.  He is from Hong Kong, and is only the second Chinese missionary in this mission for 10 years.  I’m really lucky to be with him, because he’s spot-on obedient and very hardworking.  He plans things efficiently so not a second is wasted.

He’s also going home next Monday.  Or, in missionary lingo, I’m killing him.

But it’s a real privilege.  We were both doubled into this area, so the only person who is familiar with the ward and area is Elder Peek.  Because of Conference, we haven’t yet had church so I still don’t even know the mission coordinator.  Elder Au-Yeung knows what he’s doing though, we’ve already sifted through the area book and have been trying to pick up some former investigators, as well as doing findings of our own.

I’m also living with Elder Peek and his companion Elder Vaiho from Tahiti, which is just awesome.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed Elder Peek.  I really hope at some point we get to be companions.  We work so well together.

Shoot, I would send pictures, but the structure of the computer here won’t let me.  I’ll be doing lots of shopping today, so I’ll try to get the necessary postage materials to send you my card that has all the images of my life in Australia.  I know you’re dying to see it.

In other news, I found out that in my last area, Berwick, one of the people Elder Aisa and I found has a baptismal date!  She’s a mother of 3, so that’s 4 dates!  Not sure what’s going on with the husband, but hey, it’s still great!  I was worried, because I spent all my time in Berwick doing only finding and not teaching any progressing investigators, so it’s nice to know that the tracting we did is beginning to yield some rewards.  As a result, I now actually do enjoy knocking on doors and talking to people, it’s cool.  But I lost most of my routines I picked up at the MTC for teaching, so I’ve had to practice that in my studies.  But one thing I learned this week that teaching skills really only contribute a fraction to somebody’s conversion and baptism.  You have to be effective by using the correct skills, but in the end, the results are only dependent on the heart of who you teach.  And this was illustrated by Anthony.

Elder Au-Yeung and I have spent most of our finding time doing what we call Golden Questioning, or GQ for short.  Basically, street contacting.  Now, if you want to get a taste of what this is like, go into Boston and start just talking to random strangers, ask them about their lives, where they’re headed, and if they are religious.  Easy, right?  If you have no fear, yes.  And the nametag helps too, because people know you represent something, and you speak for what you represent.  Otherwise you’re just a creeper.  It’s definitely scary because it goes against all natural instincts of basic human interaction (i.e. the lack thereof), but as a missionary you just gotta do it and have faith that the Lord will guide.  I’ve encountered people by being pretty pathetic sometimes, but they still listen and will accept a card and a brief message, hopefully a pamphlet, and in an ideal world, a return appointment at their address.  And we’ve had a few of those.

We met a bloke named Anthony, just headed home on his bike (he was walking it).  He’s just such a sweet guy, and he always has this cute smile.  He was happy to receive a return appointment.  We contacted him last Wednesday, saw him on Friday.  He lives alone, he’s in the middle of a divorce, and has a son in Blackburn.  When we arrived at his flat, I was just completely exhausted because we had been walking a long ways to just double-check the address.  Also, I hadn’t taught the Restoration for weeks, and I figured Elder Au-Yeung would take the reins with what to say.  But nope, he frequently passes the teaching baton to me to keep me sharp.  So we taught Anthony about the Restoration.  We kind of stumbled through it, rushed some explanations, missed some things, didn’t use many scriptures, and basically did not teach at our full strength.  But it didn’t matter, he accepted everything, no doubts, no questions.  After I explained the First Vision, I asked if he believed it, and he said absolutely.  “Sounds like the true church alright.”  I was so glad, because I could tell he was prepared for the message.  His main difficulties are just reading the scriptures because the print is too small, we have to order a larger one, and transportation.  He’s pretty tight financially, so he only has a bike.  But we were able to bring him to Conference on Saturday with the help of a member.  He loved it.

Then last night we taught the Plan of Salvation, this time much better prepared, and he committed to be baptized!  It’s my first official baptismal date.  We’ll continue working with him, but he’s golden.  It’s amazing that he’s understood everything and accepted it so quick, and this was all just from saying hi on the street.  I’m charting new territory here, so I’m glad Elder Au-Yeung is here a bit longer to walk me through what to do now.  There are more things to teach, commitments to keep, and arrangements to be made.  But he’s all set.

What did you think of Conference?  I just loved it.  It’s funny how Conference for us on a mission is a huge break, because we spend the whole day just soaking in buckets of wisdom rather than riding the people traffic for those seeking the truth.  My head hurt afterwards, it was just so much information, but I loved it.  It really was an amazing conference.  My favorite talk was from Donald L Halstrom about how small things can lead us to horrifying grudges if we push it too far.  It’s true.  Many people don’t understand how much power we have in choosing our happiness; we tend to just think what happens to us shapes us.  That’s why lots of people dispute the existence of God because of trials and deaths we see.  How can He tear us down like this?  That kind of thinking is selfish and backwards.  James B Martino talked about it too with, “Parents, would you ever cause your children pain that they didn’t deserve?  Of course you would.”  It made me laugh, because you think it would be no, but he explains immunizations and it makes sense.  Very valuable lessons.  Oh, and make sure you ladies listen to M. Russell Ballard’s talk.

So the work moves forward, and time really does travel fast.  On a mission, we are always forward-focusing and pressing on, which I think is why time moves quickly.  I’ve got a lot of time to learn, but only a short time to have this identity to work in this manner.  I’m determined to make it count.

So that’s my update for this week!  I’ll try to send those pictures later in the mail.  Keep up the great work, and keep sending me those updates.  It’s great to know you’re all doing well.

I love you all so much.

Elder Peek & Elder Baker at the Provo Temple - Now in Springvale together

-Elder Scott Baker

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