Sunday, September 11, 2016

my homecoming

The best part of my homecoming open house was painting these lovlies nails. 

Temple day with the fam. :) 

My Uncle Bill/Mommy.

Cousin lovin'.

Aunt Michelle told me that because of my mission and example these girls have all chosen to go on missions. I am so grateful and touched! Missions are a gift from God.

Cousin lovin'.

My Aunties Laura and Cathy. :)

Ryan with his new wife Laurie. Drove down and back up to Idaho all in one day just to see me speak. Meant the world to me. 

Aunt Tawni and her cute family all came down to support me.

Nana and Pops

My little twins Ruby and Sophie.

These two are my biggest cheerleaders. 


This is my MAMA she is so cute. 

My AK <3

Faffy and her family. 

Callie girl. Cousin lovin'. 

Taylor and Brianna <3

My lovely Sister Bairett. Still the blonde bombshells. 

Happy Sabbath Day! Going to speak! 

It was a great blessing to be with Austin as he went and received his endowments. 

My forever family. Austin is now endowed! 

homecoming talk

The Power of the Atonement

Hello my dear Brothers and Sisters,

A lot of missionaries when they go to a foreign country experience culture shock and I knew that would happen to me in Ukraine. To start off my talk today I thought I would share my experience of culture shock.
STORY about chicken with it's head cut off and first village I visited and worked in.
As I continued to serve my mission, I realized Ukraine didn’t change but I did.

I learned to love Ukraine in a very deep way as I began to truly understand just how Christ feels about those people. Through them and my experiences there I feel that I finally began to understand better who Jesus is.

I would ask you to pause and think in your minds about this question.
As members of the church we declare to not only know Christ’s doctrine, but the individual Himself. But do we really know Him?

This eternal all powerful all knowing older brother of ours wants a personal relationship with us, His brothers and sisters that He did EVERYTHING for.

I would submit that real understanding of who Christ is comes from personal, true experience with Him and with His atonement.

Alma 34:10 For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.

I love this because of the words infinite and eternal. His love, and His sacrifice is endless, limitless, unchanging, true, and everlasting. He gives us endless chances to make our mistakes right. His atonement is without beginning and without end. He will never change His promises to us. His help is limitless to us.

Alma 34:14 And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.

Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was not just an infinite sacrifice it is also an intimate sacrifice. Christ has a very personal ministry with each one of us.

 Alma 34:15 And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

What does it mean to have faith unto repentance?

Clearly, our faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ is what makes possible the forgiveness of our sins; it is the only way to become clean from our transgressions.
If we have the faith then we act and we will cry unto Jesus for His unlimited mercy and His forgiveness and love.

The atonement gives us the power to change, to permanently change.
I learned to really love repentance on my mission. What a blessing and gift it has become to me to know that I can be forgiven of the dumb mistakes I have made daily that brought me away from my Father. I want to live with Jesus again. I want to live with My Heavenly Father. Without my Saviors sacrifice I know that I could not do that. There is nothing better to me than the opportunity I have to daily kneel in humble prayer and talk to my kind Father. He always forgives me and He helps remind me to change! I am so grateful that I can be clean from the dirtiness I feel when I make mistakes.

Alma 34:32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

We must repent and we must do it now. This shows gratitude for the atonement of our Lord and Savior and then we will feel the true and infinite and intimate power of the atonement in our daily lives.

The Savior’s Atonement is eternal. His Atonement encompasses all. His Atonement is everything to me. I still do not understand how the atonement works, but I know that it does. The Atonement is a miracle. It just works, but only if we use it.

Early on in my mission I began to pray that I would be able to experience finding someone who could change through the atonement of Christ after already being set in their ways of life, and their own religion. I already knew it was possible, but I really wanted to be able to see this first hand.

The Lord blessed me and granted me my wish.

Dinara. About 10 months ago I met a girl of 25, pregnant and living with her boyfriend. We had a powerful first lesson with her and we were eager to continue to teach and help her. After that spirit filled first lesson we prayed and we prepared, but she no longer wanted to meet. We were sad of course but used to this kind of story so, we kept praying for her but stopped calling after about 3 months of nothing. She kept coming to church almost weekly but did not want to meet with the missionaries. Finally one day in March she called and invited us over again. When we went to her house she offered to say the prayer, and she prayed like a member. The first lesson she would not even pray she was so scared. She opened up her Book of Mormon and showed us some passages where heaven really taught her. We continued to teach her and we continued to see these kinds of results. She got married to her boyfriend, she gained a testimony of the principles we taught a testimony of the eternal family and she exercised her faith to live the commandments she was not immediately sure about. It all seemed so simple, so easy. We were so proud of her and all that she was doing. One day, she decided to share more of her story with us. She told us about the horrible life she had been living for years on end, her desire to find truth and to change but the seemily impossibility that it had been for her while she was so deeply entrenched in sin. One day she found herself in the hospital. She had a deeply personal and beautiful experience with the Lord. He invited her to stop what she was doing and to “Come, Follow Him.” She did not know how she was going to be able to do this, but she knew this was her chance to choose between the Lord and Satan. Only through the Savior and His mighty power to save did she gradually begin to put her life back into order. She cried as she testified of His love, of His infinite power to change her heart, her desires, her path. She never imagined her life could be as joyful as incredible, and as full of light as it is now in the gospel. She never knew she was worthy of an eternal family, or of love of God. She did not know of her divine identity as a special daughter of God. Because of Jesus Christ, my sister now knows. She still has not been baptized, she has to wait for the permission of her husband but she is diligently seeking her Savior day after day. Her life was completely changed through the atonement of jesus Christ. she let the Savior in and she let Him change her. Her path to conversion has not been a simple one. But she is strong because of her Lord and Redeemer. She is my example and my joy.

I know that God loves every one of us. He loves us no matter what level we are on. He loves us if we are poor or if we are rich. He loves us if we love Him or if we don’t.

John 3:16-17
16 ¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He never gives up on us.

Galina. I saw this in my beloved friend Galina who joined the church some years ago but after trials and tribulation and heartache fell away. I watched the Lord work in mysterious ways to help this sweet woman, my hero to return to Him through the power of the atonement. God never forgets us. He helped us find this sweet woman and her 11 year old son. I watched this woman change day by day as she began to truly help her 11 year old son prepare for baptism. Dima was pure and has the gift of faith. As he grew in love for His savior and commited to Him he became a light and an example to His sweet hurting mom. He helped her to begin to pray again, to read, to remember that Jesus loved her. One day after many failed attempts of getting her to come to church she looked at us and said, “Sisters, its time I come back to church. It is already time. I am coming tomorrow!” I watched as she struggled to come back, but as she hung on tight to the Savior and she began to bear a fervent testimony of Him. She has not left since.

Dima. We all can learn a lot from this experience with 11 year old Dima and His mom. I learned that not only does the atonement work for people who are making mistakes, or have strayed from the path, but that it works with the little children. All of us would do well to really look at our children as the pure vessels that they are. Yes I understand they aren’t perfect either and that they can try our patience, but truly they are closer to Jesus than we are. They were much more recently with Him. They know Him and they love Him.  As they grow and progress we can truly see how the power of the atonement touches their lives. Their pure faith and love for their older brother can teach us much.

If you aren’t feeling the truly remarkable power of the atonement in your life I beg of you, please just go to Him. Repent of those things that need repenting of. More than anything on my mission I learned of the true love that our Father in Heaven and Christ have for their children.  I know God loves you all so much. He asks us to be obedient, to repent and to return to Him. I know that we can do this with a Savior who is with us every step of the way. I invite you to set some personal goals in your life as to how you can better utilize the gift of the atonement in your daily life. I know we can do more. I want you to know that I love you too.

I am grateful for the time God spent on me to help me to come unto the Savior. I never want to leave His side. I know He is the light and the way. Jesus has the power to heal, to save, to love, to renew, to make whole, to fix, to redeem, and to change. It was a pleasure to learn to love God’s children and to be able to see them through the eyes of God. They love my brothers in sisters in Ukraine so much. They have shared Their love for them with me. I love them with my whole heart. I love their unique culture, their thoughts, their way of life. I miss them. Ukraine has become my home. My heart is there. Ukraine has become sacred ground for me.

I am grateful to God for the opportunity He has given me to serve on a mission. It has been the greatest blessing I have ever received. There is nothing quite like it. It was not always easy, but I didn’t ask for that. The Savior sacrificed and suffered so much. It is a privilege to come to understand only the smallest inkling of what He went through to save mankind. He did it. He is miraculous. He is pure light and pure goodness. My heart has broken for Him on my mission.
            On my mission I have come to know Him. He was the one there every time my very soul broke and I knew I just couldn’t go on. He was beside me as I cried on my knees from pain, heartbreak, sorrow or fear. He held my hand in His as I attempted to teach His words in Russian. He sent His angels to wrap their arms around me as I stood in need of comfort.
            He pushed me forward cheering, “YOU CAN DO THIS!” I know we can do anything with Him.
            My Savior touched the lives of all that I met- all my brothers and sisters.
He helped me convert to Him.
He is all that I have.
I want to be like Him. I want to love like I know He loves me, and each one of us. I want to teach as He has taught me. I want weep as He weeped for me and for all mankind. I want to walk beside Him-my Lord, my Shepherd, my Brother-forever.
I can’t imagine a world without Him. He has shown me many great and marvelous things.
He trusted in me little weak Sister Karren to go beside Him and preach His gospel to His beloved people- my brothers and sisters.
He knew I needed Ukraine. He taught me love, care, and hard work. He instilled in me a love so deep I dare to say it cant be broken.
He taught me about sacrifice. I came to understand that sacrificing things is necessary to receive blessings. I know that my sacrifices were small but enough for the Lord. I came to the realization that though I “sacrificed” time, family, friends, etc. it wasn’t a sacrifice at all. It was the greatest blessing I have ever received.
Jesus’s sacrifice for us was also His greatest blessing. I know He feels it a privilege to know us all perfectly and to be the one to bring us unto the Father. Yes it was hard, impossibly hard. But it was worth it to Him because He loves us.
We can make it up to Him by just trying a little harder to be a little better and just knock off the bad behavior and our laziness and stupidity and just love Him by keeping His commandments and doing as He would do.
I want to follow in His footsteps ALWAYS. I do not want to do anything to jeopardize my relationship with Him. I don’t want Him to hurt more than He has to. So I will actively act to repent, to change so that I can be clean and worthy to be in His presence.
What a glorious day that will be to look in His face and know Him like He knows you. I cant wait to hug my Savior who did and does and will continue to do all He can so that we can come home. I know He waits with open arms.

Russian testimony.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

homecoming video

back in the usa

I'M HOME. Surreal moment seeing my family after a year and a half absence. They all looked so good and this was such a happy moment! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

leaving my new home

Leaving this place is the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought coming on a mission was hard, leaving it is so much harder. The Lord has changed me through this journey. I feel that I know Him better now. He knows me. We trust each other and He was so kind to let me get to know these precious children of His. This was a glorious opportunity to see through His eyes. He showed me many great and marvelous things. He gave His Son for me, and for all of these people I so dearly love. 

For the past week I have cried myself to sleep everynight thinking about leaving this place. I feel badly because I know it's gotta be a little scary for Sister Baker but I just can't stop crying. Saturday night as I was bawling myself to sleep I realized something funny and I started to giggle. Before I was 16 years old I NEVER wanted to serve a mission. Now I am crying my heart out having to leave it. Ironic? God really is good. He KNOWS what is good for us. I never knew that I needed Ukraine, but Ukraine has saved me. I don't ever want to be the same again. I want to keep progressing, keep coming unto Christ. He is my life and my light. I love Him with all that I have and I can't wait to grow and learn and become more through His atonement. My mission is not the pinnacle of my spirituality, it is a glorious beginning.

Miroslava, Alyona and Sophia

A casual walk to Stan's.

Building a bridge with Stan to support his village.

Stan's famous THANKSGIVING dinner in thanks for me coming to serve.

Branch picnic we planned. Stan and Alyona.

 Andrei's mom and Olga.

A little bit of soccer anybody?

Ukrainian kids play barefoot.

Tovmash family lovin'.


My last moments with Dinara and Dima. They WILL get baptized. I sat with Dinara through sacrament and she held on to my hand. They both cried when I got up and bore my testimony.

Our favorite Babooshki!

Classic Marina Prishepchuk and Johnny!

I love you and all you did for us Bogdan!

The best district of my entire life.

Olga Rebekon.

The best bunch around.

Tanya will make the best missionary someday.

Ex Russian Mafia and wonderful Branch President Ghenadi Prishepchuk

The miracle of life. They are going to have the gospel! Tiny little Miroslava. This was the first time I met her.

My precious children. One of my reasons for coming to Ukraine was to teach the children.

Marina Grinjevskya

The cutest little old man who adopted Dima as his grandson.

The Tkachov's. I am confident that Snazhana and Alyona and Miroslava will all one day join the church. She told me today that I was her first missionary. It was music to my ears because that means she knows she is fully investigating the church now and there will be more missionaries to come.

The Prishepchuk family minus Dasha and Illya. 

Dima's sweet adopted grandma Prishepchuk.

I pray all the Sasha's I taught will one day choose to get baptized!

My Ukrainian American Marine John the Revelator Dad named Stan Barton. Made me cry to leave him. 

Ira Cemenyak. Relief Society President and wife of Sasha (another Sasha) who I pray will one day get baptized. So many amazing spirit filled lessons with this family. I do love them! 

Baba Ana and Alyona (Stan's mother in law and wife). Alyona told me I was the best missionary they have ever had. That I was the strongest. I said thank you, and she said she would not say it if she didnt mean it. I was the strongest and had the most light she has ever seen. How can I leave my family here in Ukraine?

Breaking my heart. </3

My elders. 

Meet Elder England and Elder Simmons.

If this doesn't explain how great they are, I don't know what would. #BESTelders

one more round of "holy water" and superpowers!

Now I have to say goodbye to my best friend and baby!

  Last night in the mission with President and his beautiful family and with some of my beautiful sisters <3

This temple is the staple of the gospel in Eastern Europe.

Brother and Sister Mitchell the new office couple I instantly loved in the mission office. They took such good care of me and she immediately took me under her wing. Wish I could stay and get to know them some more. 

My Heaven on Earth. 

Goodbye Ukraine. See you soon!