Monday, January 31, 2011

Dientes de Ajo?!?!?

Dear Family,

Let me preface this letter by reminding you of my extensive pre-mission Spanish vocabulary. It consisted of one phrase I could remember from High School Spanish, dientes de ajo. Directly translated, it means teeth of garlic, but a more accurate translation is a clove of garlic. I didn't think I would ever use this phrase on my mission. I found out about transfers. I will be going to Gilroy, California, Garlic capital of the world. I have driven through the city once and know very well that they grow garlic there. It reeks of garlic. I am very excited to be serving there. I will be serving in the Gavelin branch. They whole stake is very missionary motivated. The branch is really pushing to become a ward and has been growing like crazy. The stake has very ambitious goals, they want to almost double in size in the next year. They have been doing very well at achieving this goal. My companion will be Elder Cornaby from Utah. I don't know much about him other than the fact that he baptizes like crazy and is going home in six weeks. I will arrive Tuesday after transfer meeting.

Also, I have very good news. I found out about some baptisms that happened in Redwood City. Dina Pena's husband Santiago got baptized the same day as Valentin. They had 90 people at his baptism. That is twice as big as the Mocho branch. If you look at the picture from Dina's baptism you will see a cute little eight year old named Ashley. Let me tell you that she is very cute, but equally cunning. When teaching her the new member discussions I taught her about eternal families. I explained what was necessary to make an eternal family. She then asked me if that meant her Dad would need to get baptized. I told her yes. Right before she left I told her that her mission was to get her Dad baptized. At the time, he wasn't really interested in taking the lessons. His heart was softened as Dina battled Hodgkin's. He took Ashley to church every week during this time. Eventually he invited the missionaries over to teach him. As the sisters taught him the word of wisdom, Ashley was eager to help by throwing away his cigarettes and alcohol. On the day he got baptized, Ashley told the sister missionaries that her mission was complete. Good job Ashley. I even got permission to call Dina. She is doing very well. She feels 100 times better than she did before. She is back to work helping her husbands drywall business. Even better, her 24 year old son Anthony is taking the lessons from the sisters. Dina is excited to enter the temple in a year and get sealed to Ashley and Santiago. You know what that means... I have to book a flight back to San Jose in a year.

Also, Adonay Luna's wife is getting baptized next weekend. He didn't even introduce us to her. He said that his decision to join the church was a very personal thing and didn't really want to get any of his family members involved. With time, she wanted to know more and began asking questions. He gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and she began investigating the church. It is amazing to see the blessings enter the lives of the recent converts.

Finally, one more baptism. While waiting for an appointment in my first area,Elder Tidwell and I decided to knock doors in the mean time. The first door we knocked contained the Flores family. We began teaching them and referred them to the missionaries who covered that area. Naomi, the mother, has a baptismal date and is excited to make the covenant of baptism.

I am constantly amazed at the way the Lord continues to work in the lives of his children.


Elder Badger

Monday, January 24, 2011

Me bane en cueros

Dear Family,

This week was pretty darn good. We baptized!!!! That makes it really good. Valentin's baptisms went very well. It was simple. He looked very happy during the whole thing. He told me after I pulled him out of the water, "Bien Mojado, pero limpio" (very wet, but clean). I forgot how good it feels to baptize. It had been a while. Way too long.

The good news is that we have two other baptisms scheduled for February with a possible third if we can find Ernesto a job. It should be a god month for us. We really would like to see more of our brothers and sisters enter the water as we work on building the Mocho Branch.

Now, to explain the title of this email. So..when we were filling the baptismal font we realized that the drain plug o-ring wasn't quite in place. By the time we realized it, the font had about two and half feet of water and the baptisms was supposed to start in 45 minutes. As usual, I was the one who saved the day. Heroically, I locked the door and stripped down to.. well.. to the point that there was nothing left to strip off. I put the o-ring in place and the font resumed filling. My clothes were dry, the baptismal font was filled, and no one in the Mocho branch was any the wiser.

The branch already has plans to use Valentin as soon as possible. He has home teachers and will get a returned missionary to show him how to begin home teaching others. We are hoping for a calling very soon. We have been doing everything we can to make sure that he stays active in the church for a long time, no matter whether he ends up serving a mission our not.

Oh, just in case you're wondering. All of my oncology blood work came back normal. No worries.

I hope all is well with you. I pray for you daily.


Elder Badger

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's almost always sunny in Livermore

Dear Family,

I hear it has been freezing up in Washington. All Latinos think Washington is the North Pole for some reason. I tell them that we don't even get snow that often. As for here, it has been in the upper sixties and beautiful. It would be perfect for riding a bike.

This upcoming week is an exciting week for us. It is a baptism week. It feels like it has been a little while since I have had one of those. Our investigator Valentin is completely ready. He knows it too, which makes it even better. He can't wait to become a member and be able to pass the sacrament. He knows practically everyone in the branch. We have taught everything we know how to teach, right now we are just working on making daily contact with him as he prepares for baptism this Saturday. Keep him in your prayers. I hope to send you pictures from the baptism next week.

As I mentioned last week, we are in a tripanionship. It has been fun, but interesting. Our area doubled overnight. I was just getting used to being on bike. I forget how fast you can get from point A to point B. On bike we found that our work tended to concentrate itself to certain areas depending on how our finding had been going recently. We now cover the entire tri-valley (Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore).

I hope dinner with Sister Mills went well. She is lucky to have had rolls. I have eaten burritos three times this week. I am ready for a nice big salad with lots of vegetables. V8 is about the only vegetable I am getting on a regular basis. Luckily, fruit is very popular after meals.


Elder Badger

Monday, January 10, 2011

Another busy week...

Dear Family,

First off, may I remind you all that I love you a monton. That's Spanish for heap.

This week has been very busy. It's been colder than all get out, but not too bad. Carmex keeps our lips from getting chapped, but and everybody says our hands are cold even though we wear gloves.

We continue to find new investigators which is awesome. I really want to get this are to the point where it is baptizing monthly. We are just about to that point. February should be a really good month for us if all goes well.

Now for the first bit of news. As I already told you, Sister Mills has been transferred to Lakewood. I told her she missed out on an awesome Christmas Eve. She has heard that it is one of the best areas in the Tacoma mission. Hopefully she finds out that all the talk is true.

Secondly, my companionship is getting changed around a little bit. Elder Russell and I are still together, but we will have a third missionary with us this afternoon. It should last until transfers. I will be honest and say that I don't exactly think tripanionships are the best for missionary work, but I will make the best of it. It is really hard to teach when there are so many missionaries. It gets even harder when we involve members in our lessons because it means that we have four people we are bringing into an investigators home.

On the bright side, it does get us out of the cold for the next three weeks and puts us into a car. That will be a little nice. Elder Russell made the comment yesterday that it took until priesthood for the circulation in his feet to finally kick in after riding our bikes to church that morning.

I am glad you are well. I have especially loved all of the Christmas cards I received lately. I ran into someone in the English ward that knows Grandpa and Brian Norton. I guess he was baptized into the singles branch in the early nineties. His name is Jerry Holst or Hurtz. I don't exactly remember. I gave him Grandpa's number and told him to call him.

Also, I was on exchange with the Zone Leaders this week and had the chance to teach a lesson on inviting friends to church to the Badger family. I really wish I knew my genealogy going back to the pioneers. This is the second area I have served in with a Badger family.

Valentin continues to progress. We finished teaching him all of the required lessons for baptism. He is still set for the 22nd of January. It looks like he should make it. It has been really cool to see the changes he has made since we knocked his door. He has overcome a drinking problem and has told us that he now believes in God. He even wants to serve a mission. He is 24, but should still be able to if he remains active over the next year.


Elder Badger

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What a year!!!!!

Dear Family,

I am now entering middle age as a missionary. If you think of each six months as the equivalent of twenty years, I just hit my fortieth birthday. That makes me ancient (sorry to those of you over forty). Luckily, I feel like I am just beggining to get wise. Our lessons continue to improve. We have a large teaching pool of 14 people. This is a welcome change from a teaching pool of two some six weeks ago. We are really working to get our investigators to church, but have had some trouble doing so.

Fortunately, our best investigator, Valentin, continues to progress well. He came to church for the fourth time and has been keeping the Word of Wisdom for over four weeks now. He is to the point that he can be baptized at any moment. He is scheduled for January 22, 2011, but we may talk to him about moving up his date one week. We don't want to really push because he has been doing so well. He is twenty-four and expressed a desire to serve a mission. When we heard this, we were ecstatic. How great would it be to have a recent convert serving a mission. It would really change his life. He comes from a background of "guerilleros" (guerilla fighters). He has always wanted to avoid this family business and asked us if a mission would help him change his life. Of course it will.

We found another family this week. Our teaching pool consists of three families and a few individuals; however, we have had some trouble coordinating lessons with our families. As you know families are very busy, which makes it very hard to get in appointments twice a week. Weekly appointments are just as difficult.

Things are even better. Some members have some referrals for us. A few of them even came to church. We have appointments this week. This is the type of help missionaries love. These will be the first real referrals I have seen since arriving in Livermore. I never thought it would take this long to build the area to this point, but things are going very well. Despite the brief slowdown for the holidays, our work is accelerating.


Elder Badger

A Very Merry Christmas, Indeed

Dear family,

It was so nice to see your bright shining faces through an online Skype session on Christmas Day. I am glad to see that little has changed. The dog is still alive (my greatest fear is that she dies on the mission and you wait to tell me when I go home) and you all look wonderful.

I won't bore you with too much, you got to talk to me two days ago, but the work continues to go well. This week has been weird because of the holiday. No one really wants to meet because they are either out of town or have family visiting. We have been using a lot of our downtime to visit and teach members. It looks like we are close to some pretty golden referrals, if we can continue to encourage the members to invite their friends. The peppermint bark we gave as Christmas gifts helped immensely. The way to any ones heart is through their stomach (don't believe what they tell you in BYU anatomy).

I am working on getting out thank you cards. They should be going in a few batches. The first three hit the mailbox today. I was very grateful to receive all of your letters, cards, and gifts. All chose wisely; I love subway, do my p-day shopping at target, and can always use more stamps. The mission waited to hand out gifts until Christmas Eve. I was surprised to receive 14 letters and two packages. It made for a very fun night. I enjoyed reading them by our enviro-log fire.

I was a little sad this morning when I realized that I can't listen to Christmas music until... at least August. As much as I like Christmas, it is kind of a weird time for a missionary. I had never spent a Christmas away from home and realized that everything Christmas made me think of our house with its Christmas tree and all the decorations. Christmas Eve was the most interesting, but we had a good time as we reenacted the Christmas Story with the Nelson family. I had never seen Mary, Joseph, and the angel ride the donkey to Bethlehem. The sheep wanted a ride to, but the shepherds (us) wouldn't let them.

Until Next Year.


Elder Christopher Badger