}

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Happy, Happy One Month!!!!

March 27, 2014

¡Hola familia!  Hermana Bartholomew here, as an official full-time missionary for 1 MONTH!!  

One Month as a Missionary!!

Oh my heavens, this has been the fastest month ever.  I can´t believe I only have 17 months left in my mission.  Crazy.

Hermana Olsen's mom sent 1 month anniversary cupcakes
The white board behind us says, "Gracias from District 15c"
but our markers don't work too well, so you can't even tell!

Unfortunately this week I was blessed...with a sore throat and a bad cough. L  I woke up on Monday with my throat so sore I couldn´t even talk.   I was able to take a nap during additional study time and gym so that helped immensely and I also received a priesthood blessing from Elders Chidester and Ruiz which promised me that I would get better in the next few days, and I am here to tell you that priesthood blessings work!  I am feeling much better, the only thing is I sound like a man.  Occasionally I go to say something and nothing comes out.  Elder Allred, in my district, told me that when we sing in church on Sunday that I can sing the bass part!  

At least I was blessed to only have a cough.  The bug in the CCM is still going around, so it was a true tender mercy that I didn’t have any bowel problems or throwing up! J  Speaking of bowel problems, Hermana McKee found a scripture that describes the CCM missionaries’ bowel troubles, in Jeremiah 4:19-21, 24-25.  Go read it, it is hilarious.  

Lunch here is still always the best!!!!

With Hermana Shill (and Olsen) at lunchtime in CCM Cafeteria

My usual CCM Lunch - Yummy!!

I will probably come home from my mission a little plump.  In Proverbs 28:25 it explains the real reason why missionaries get fat!  [He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife; but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.]

Anyways, so this week we had the wonderful opportunity to practice teaching with district 11B.  As a companionship we taught one Elder from their district and had an Hermana from their district play the role of a church member.  After we taught our investigator for about 20 minutes, we switched and they taught us.  

Hermana Te´o and Hermana Smith taught Hermana Olsen and I as we assumed the roles of people we are close to that are either not members or are no longer active in the church.  I assumed the role of one of my cousins who is not too active in the church.  As they began teaching they asked questions to get to know me (my cousin) and I explained how her grandfather had died within the last year and how she was enrolled in college but not actively attending church anymore.  I also explained how she needed to feel comfort and love during this difficult time.  

Hermana Te’o and Hermana Smith began testifying that I (my cousin) would see my grandpa again and that I can receive comfort and guidance through reading the Book of Mormon and praying.  Then sweet Hermana Te’o began to cry as she was bearing testimony to me of eternal families and enduring to the end so that I could see my grandpa again.  Oh my heavens, the spirit was SO, SO strong in that little circle.  

Because we were short on time they weren’t able to teach me more about the Plan of Salvation or the path I need to follow to see my grandpa again.  Our teacher came and asked me how it felt to be the one being taught, and up until this point I was doing so well to stay strong and not cry.  But right then, the tears came freely and I was just overcome with the Spirit.  My poor teacher thought something was wrong and asked if I was having trouble with Spanish, haha. 

Although Spanish is hard, I explained that I was just overcome with the love my Heavenly Father has for my cousin.  I think I also had a glimpse into the importance of truly loving my investigators and teaching with the Spirit.  Hermanas Te’o and Smith truly wanted to know more about me (my cousin) and wanted so badly to help me.  Well, once I started crying all three of the Hermanas were crying as well.  (Oops!)  I truly felt the immense love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for my cousin.  

Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in a devotional we watched this week, talked about the power of a simple testimony when delivered by the Spirit.  He related the story of Alma the Younger found in the Book of Mormon.  Alma and his friends were rebelling against their parents and going around trying to destroy the Church.  Starting in Mosiah chapter 27, verse 11 we read, “…as they [Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah] were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them…and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood.  And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth…”

The angel tells Alma to stand up, and then proceeds to give him a stern lecture about persecuting the church of God, and about how it was the faith, prayers and love of his father that had caused the angel to appear to stop them.  The angel finishes by commanding Alma and his friends to stop trying to destroy the Church.  After the angel leaves, Alma and his friends “again fell to the earth, for so great was their astonishment, for with their own eyes they had beheld an angel of the Lord, and his voice was as thunder, which shook the earth…”

Elder Holland explained that the word “astonish” has the Latin root tondre which means thunder, or to speak with thunder.  In relating this to missionary work, Elder Holland said, "Go out there and astonish someone!  Now, this doesn’t mean that you are going to shout or scream or put on a circus.  You have your testimony, and if you speak from your heart and have the spirit with you, your testimony will astonish them.  You will shake the very foundation they are standing on."  

Hermana Teo´s testimony was simple, but I was astonished.  I was humbled Heavenly Father allowed me to feel of his love for my cousin and strengthen my testimony of eternal families.  This was by far, the coolest experience so far on my mission.

So, afterwards I went into the bathroom to try and collect myself and see how bad of a crier I am.  A couple of minutes later, our new Latina Hermana friends walked into the bathroom and asked why I was sad.  I explained to them in really simple Spanish that when I feel the Spirit I cry.  They said, "Oh, nosotros tambien!" Which means “us too!”  Then after class we were walking to our casas [dorms] and a Latina Hermana came up to me, with tears in her eyes, and said, "la iglesia es verdadera!" [the church is true]  How cute is that? ¡La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultímos Días es verdadera mis amigos! [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true my friends!]

During class this week we watched a short Mormon Message video clip called "Patterns of Light Part 1: The Light of Christ" narrated by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  [Click on the play button, or the website link below to watch the video

video



I loved, loved, loved the part where he talks about how we are ALL born with the light of Christ.  Some ultimately have their light diminish and some have their light grow, illuminating their lives.  An important part of being a missionary is illuminating or radiating the light of Christ again to our investigators.  I can´t wait to radiate the light of Christ to the people of Ecuador.  Bringing all this light to a place that already has TOO much sun is going to be a blinding experience, haha. J

So my final story for this week is about our experience in TRC!  If you remember from my letter last week, TRC is a chance for us to teach real people from the local area.  Our assignment this week was to practice teaching "How to receive revelation through the Book of Mormon" to church members in the Mexico City Area. 

As you know, my companion struggles a little with Spanish and pronouncing the words, so sometimes she is SO worried about the language that she can’t truly express the feelings of her heart.  As a result, in most lessons I talk a lot and she bears testimony to what I say.  Our teacher told me that I need to talk less and she needs to talk more, haha. (Oops!)  (I have always been a talkative person and apparently when I have the Spirit with me I talk just as much in Spanish, which hopefully will continue once I get to Ecuador J.)

So the first church member we taught in TRC is the only active member of the church in her whole family and has a hard time knowing how to make correct decisions.  We asked her if she is reading the scriptures daily and she explained that she just doesn’t have the time because of her work.  So Hermana Olsen just sat there and was trying to find a scripture to share.  I remained silent and said a quick prayer in my heart that she would be able to find the scripture and that her tongue would be loosed and she could express her sincere thoughts.  Literally, right after I ended my prayer, Hermana Olsen found the scripture she was looking for, and with almost PERFECT Spanish explained the importance of reading the scriptures daily and that she could receive revelation for herself.  Oh I was so proud of her!  How humbling to realize that through us, the Holy Ghost can convert and teach others!  

Then we taught another member, named Jesús.  He was recently involved in an accident and his right arm is lame, but he is the happiest person I have met!  We started by asking several questions to try and find out his concerns, and Hermana Olsen and I were at a loss as to what we could teach him.  When suddenly I realized, oh we didn’t start with a prayer!  So I asked if we could start with a prayer, even though we were 10 minutes into the lesson, haha.  Once we prayed we decided to teach him about enduring to the end, and then I shared one of my favorite scriptures with him.  All we have to do as missionaries is ask for Heavenly Father’s help and he will ALWAYS open the door for us, all we have to do is ask.  (Pretty sure I said that in the last email, but just in case you forgot! J

Well family and friends I want you all to know that this gospel means everything to me and I am so so SO happy to be here in Mexico, and in 2 weeks ECUADOR, serving our Heavenly Father and with our Savior Jesus Christ by my side. 

Love you lots, until next week! 

Con amor, 
Hermana Bartholomew

P.S.  I finally received the picture of me and Elder Hullinger.  Elder Hullinger is the son of one of my dad's high school and college friends, and we were best buddies when we were like 2 years old when my mom tended him during the day.  [You can read about Jessica's chance encounter meeting Elder Hullinger at the CCM in her letter/post from week #1.]

Hermana B & Elder Hullinger on his last Sunday at CCM

More pictures Jessica sent home this week:

With Hermana Olsen at entrance to beautiful grounds of the CCM

Gym Time with my Pals


The CCM Buses - transportation anytime we go off campus
We all ride in a YELLOW CCM Bus, a YELLOW CCM Bus, a YELLOW CCM Bus
(Sing to the tune of Yellow Submarine by The Beatles)

At Mexico City Temple on week 3 P-day
(20 March 2014)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Give the Lord Your Whole Heart

March 20, 2014

Wow, another week down!!  Crazy how time is flying by here.  All the new missionaries come in and ask me how long I have been here and every time I want to say week 2, but it´s now week 4!!!  I still feel like I just got here!  

One of my favorite things to see here is when I introduce myself to the Latinos and they just look at my name tag and try SO HARD to pronounce my name.  I even tried to teach them the song my Grandma sang to my dad and his siblings when they were little to teach them how to spell BARTHOLOMEW, but it just wasn’t working.  So the Elders in my district have given me a new name - Hermana “B”.  It is so much easier for these poor people to say J.  

Speaking of Elders in my district...so after lunch one day the Hermanas and I were walking in a different direction than the elders, and I turned and looked over and said "Hola Elders!" and waved.  Well, where we were walking is super uneven because of recent earthquakes.  If you aren’t looking down you trip...SO you guessed it, I tripped while waving to the elders.  They will never let me live it down.  Anytime they see me, they wave and pretend very dramatically to trip.  Haha J

I absolutely love my district.  We all get along so well.  Each Tuesday night there is a CCM devotional meeting with all of the missionaries here.  Then, following the CCM devotional we have a District devotional immediately after.  This week we all shared our experiences on how we decided to go on a mission.  It was wonderful and amazing to see how the Lord’s hand was definitely in everyone’s decision to serve a mission.  Some of the experiences were very personal and I won’t share them here, but let’s just say that our collective stories were yet another testimony builder that God lives and that the church is true!

One new addition to our schedule this week was something called TRC.  TRC is every Wednesday and is where volunteers from around the area come to the CCM to receive lessons with the missionaries.  Some are active members of the church, others are less active (have not been attending church for many years), and most are not members of the church.  This week, Hermana Olsen and I taught Señora Lopez who is a cute little 50 year old lady with PURPLE hair and a purple umbrella to match.  She wanted to know how she could become a better person and wanted to learn more about Christ.  During TRC the people speak in their normal speed so it is much harder to understand.  During the lesson I just kept praying that I would understand what she was saying, and I DID!!!  Oh it was seriously amazing.  

This week’s devotionals on Sunday and Tuesday were so inspiring.  I just have to share with you all!  So on Sunday a member of the MTC presidency (I can’t remember his name for the life of me right now) spoke and he has set a new standard for my future husband.  When he and his wife were dating he wrote her a love letter that was 12 FEET LONG.  He was talking about the letter and pulled out this little scroll.  Then with the help of someone else, he began unrolling the letter (which was about 3 inches wide) and kept going and going and going.  12 FEET LONG, holy cow!  He had that much to tell her after only 1 month of dating!!!  He encouraged all the Elders, after they got home from their missions and were dating their future wife, to write a love letter to her.  His wife said for all the Hermanas to expect one from their future husbands. J 

Other than the letter, my favorite part of his talk was when he said, "Give the Lord your whole heart and render your whole self to Him...He honors you because you honor Him!"  As I have said in a previous letter home how lucky the other missionaries and I are to be serving alongside the best missionary who ever lived, our brother Jesus Christ.  I am here to give Him my whole heart and to honor Him.  

Then continuing with the amazing devotionals, Tuesday we had Elder Daniel L. Johnson from the Quorum of the 70 come and speak to us.  And guess what?  He was the first mission president in ECUADOR GUAYAQUIL NORTH, way back in 1991!! YAY, Ecuador represent.  (Aunt Lorena, was that your mission president?!)

Elder Johnson invited all of us to "add your voice to the angels" and told us how sometimes we don’t realize the uniqueness of our message.  We have a Heavenly Father who loves us.  He also invited us to contemplate what Joseph Smith’s view of God was before the First Vision.  There was a reason for the First Vision - it was necessary to teach Joseph the physical attributes of our Heavenly Father.  Most of the investigators we will teach have a different concept in their minds of the nature of Heavenly Father.  He told us we need to have our investigators describe what they think Heavenly Father is like, and then we can teach them what WE know.  Elder Johnson said that many people ask why Joseph Smith was so young and why God would chose him to restore the true church.  Joseph knew nothing, BUT he was willing to learn everything.  Wow!  

Elder Johnson also talked about the atonement of Jesus Christ.  He taught us that the nails driven into Christ’s hands and feet were the least of His pain.  His greatest suffering occurred before He ever went to the cross.  It was not the nails that held Him to the cross, but the LOVE He has for you and me.  He shared a favorite scripture from Isaiah 49:15-16.  “…yeah, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

Christ’s love for all of us is "graven upon his hands."  It is through the Atonement that we come to know His love.  Elder Johnson also talked about one of the most commonly quoted scriptures, "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you."  To experience the love of the Savior, all we have to do is ask.  It doesn’t say ask, and sometimes I will answer, knock, and I might open the door. NO! Ask and ye SHALL receive, knock and it WILL be opened until you.  All he asks is for US to ASK.  

I went up to Elder Johnson after and thanked him for his amazing talk and he told me all about Ecuador and that I am going to love it there!  AHH I can’t wait to go!! 

Today was TEMPLE DAY!!!!!  The Mexico City Temple is BEAUTIFUL!  



Although we couldn't go inside because the temple itself is closed while it is being renovated, just being able to walk
around the temple grounds was an amazing experience.  

With my district at Mexico City Temple

Hermana friends at Mexico City Temple


As we were driving in our bright yellow CCM bus and almost crashed 50 times (in Mexico there are no lanes and stop lights are just a suggestion most of the time), we noticed the scenery changed from cluttered colorful houses everywhere to the beautiful orderly site of the temple.  We all were so proud to be representatives of this church.  

While we were at the temple grounds today, we were able to go into the Visitors Center and spend some quiet time pondering at the feet of the Christus Statue.  

The Beautiful Visitor's Center Lobby
Salt Lake may need to step up their game :)

At Mexico Temple Visitor Center

Christus Statue at Visitor Center

We also watched a video on families.  ("It may as well have been called Bridge to Terabithia because it makes children cry" - a shout out to my best bud Madison with a New Girl quote!) 

One of the Hermanas in my district, Hermana Shill, found out that one of her best friends died last week.  Then President Pratt came this week and told her the news that her grandpa had passed away as well.  It broke my heart when she came to tell me.  I wrote her a note and bore me testimony of my knowledge that families are forever.  So the video on families at the Visitor’s Center made both her and I begin to cry and realize how grateful we are for the knowledge that we can be with our families for eternity.  I also thought of my sweet grandparents and the amazing example they have been to me throughout my life.  I love all 4 of you so so much!
You better still be here when I get home! J

My favorite funny story this week:

My companion and I have really bonded this week by playing pranks on each other. J  One night, Hermana Olsen was in the bathroom getting ready for bed and Hermana Mckee and I decided to scare her.  So Hermana Mckee got inside Hermana Olsen´s closet and waited for her to come and open the door.  We were laughing SO HARD just with anticipation.  When Hermana Olsen finally came out, Hermana Mckee jumped out of the closet with the widest eyes and scared my poor comp half to death.  Hermana Olsen then said that she will never trust us again while she is in the bathroom.  Well, she then goes back in the bathroom to brush her teeth, so we decided to scare her one more time! 

This time, I got in the closet and waited for her to come back out.  When she did, Hermana Mckee told her that I went into the kitchen and would be back soon for companionship prayer.  Hermana Olsen sees this as an opportunity and decided to scare me.  So she gets under MY bed and was waiting for me to "come back from the kitchen" so she could scare me.  We were both waiting forever for the other to come out. J  Finally, I gave up and came out and sat down at our desk and began to write in my journal.  Well, there are only a few feet from the desk to my bed. Hermana Olsen reached out from under the bed (keep in mind I still had no idea she was under there) and grabbed the leg of my chair and pulled me towards the bed.  Well I thought I was going to have a heart attack!   I screamed so loud and fell to the ground laughing.  Haha we have fun!  J

Companions

Well, my lovely family, I miss you lots and love you so much!  Have a wonderful week and I’ll talk to you soon! 

#laiglesiaesverdadera

Con amor, 
Hermana Bartholomew 


Friday, March 14, 2014

You Can Do This!

March 13, 2014

¡Hola my lovely family and friends! T.G.I.P.D. (thank goodness it’s preparation-day) J 

With Hermana Olsen on P-Day #2
SO last P-day (Thursday) was the final day of teaching Marcos, who is now our night teacher, Hermano Galacia.  Even though he himself is not Marcos, he assumed the role of Marcos.  Marcos is Hermano Galacia’s friend who joined the church recently and he had many of the same questions that were addressed to us.  

For our final lesson with Marcos we decided to just ask him what questions he had before being baptized.  He told us he knew that after baptism he will be clean of his sins, but he knows he will continue to make mistakes.  So we explained how God knew we would make mistakes and that we aren´t perfect.  Because of God’s love for us he provided a Savior for us and the opportunity to continually repent and become clean again. 

We also taught Marcos about recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost in his life.  We then asked him if he felt the Spirit during the time we have taught him, and he said, YES!!!  Even though he probably had no clue what we were trying to say at least he felt the Spirit.  I then asked if he was excited to be baptized and if he felt like he was ready and again he said YES!   I may or may not have squealed a little with excitement J.  He chuckled at my enthusiasm.  I can´t even imagine when I get to Ecuador and truly bring someone to Christ...my excitement will be through the roof!!  Reaching that high on the emotional scale, I will probably cry and have a 30 second dance party with myself.  

I love the CCM!  As Presidente Pratt says, "everyone should be praying for the opportunity to come here (to Mexico) for their missionary training experience.”  The spirit here is very strong, and I love the opportunity to be immersed in the Spanish language.  The new Latino missionaries we welcomed here on last Wednesday...did I tell you about them?  Hopefully.  But they are the CUTEST things on this planet.  They give us the biggest hugs and although we can´t communicate too well with them we are always laughing.  I have truly learned that laughing is a universal language.  

Greeting the new Latino missionaries that arrived on March 5th.
The Hermana next to me in the picture is my absolute favorite!

On the food front, I am still eating lots of Coco Puffs.  I have also learned that the best meal here is LUNCH!  The other day we had taquitos and… STRAWBERRIES!!  Oh, I was in heaven.  (Strawberries are Jessica's absolute favorite fruit and she worried that she wouldn't be able to eat them at all on her mission.)

La Comador (Cafeteria), where I eat my Coco Puffs and the occasional really good lunch!!


Here at the CCM we spend lots of hours in the classroom every day.  During our morning classes our teacher, Hermano Flores, has found many creative ways to keep us sane while being stuck in a classroom.  His favorite game with us is hot potato.  We pass a ball around as quickly as we can, while he says "se que mas, se que mas, se que mas, se que mo." and whoever has the ball at the end when he says “se que mo” has to answer his question in Spanish.  

We also break things up by watching clips from a missionary training video that’s something like a reality show called the "District 2".  It shows real footage of missionaries meeting with real investigators in San Diego California.  We pretend they are our investigators as we practice the fundamentals for teaching an investigator.  And of course our District´s favorite is to take a 5 minute break outside once every hour.  That’s the best 5 minutes of the day sometimes. J  

My life scheduled out at the CCM for the next few weeks 

My pile of books, and this isn't even all of them!!

Every Friday we have the opportunity to preform service with the cleaning crew on campus.  Our first time, March 8th, we cleaned casa #7.  When I say cleaned, we cleaned EVERYTHING!!  We even hosed down and scrubbed the outside of the house with brooms, and washed every brick inside of the casa.  I was also given the job of wiping down the table and chairs in the kitchen area.  I have to say that I was a pro at this job because I have watched Brandon do this every week as his chore.  Way to be an example to your big sister, buddy!   The cleaning ladies were so grateful for our help they even took a picture with each of us on their phones.  

Every day at 4 o´clock we have a chance to go to the gym for exercise and we all usually play volleyball.  This last week, I am proud to say that I spiked the ball (completely by chance) over an Elder who is at least 6´4!  Boo-yah!  I pulled down the net with my left hand and hit the ball over with my right.  Whatever works right?!  Most of the time the ball doesn´t make it over, so this was a special occasion.  Hopefully that makes my best bud volleyball player in Hawaii, Katie Craig proud!  Also, an Hermana that plays with us wears a “Waffle Love” shirt and I immediately missed all my roommates and especially MO because she loves waffles.  Hope USU is treating you all well, GO AGGIES! 

Each Sunday we have the chance to prepare a 5 minute talk in Spanish for Sacrament Meeting.  Not everyone gets to give their prepared talk, but we all prepare.  The topic this week was Repentance.  In preparing my talk for this past Sunday, I read a talk given by Brad Wilcox at a BYU Devotional entitled, "His Grace is Sufficient."   In his talk, Brother Wilcox taught how through the atonement we are not only saved but we are also changed. 

He said, "A life impacted by the grace of Jesus Christ begins to look like Christ´s life.  Grace isn´t just about being saved but is about becoming like the Savior.  The scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God, but no unclean thing will want to."

Brother Wilcox used an analogy in his talk that I really loved.  He said, "In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus is standing there with a clipboard and Brad is standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.  Jesus checks his clipboard and says, “Oh, shoot Brad.  You missed it by two points.”  Brad begs Jesus, “Please check the essay question one more time!  There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.” 

Brother Wilcox then says, “That´s how I always saw it.  But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “let me stay.”  No, he will probably be saying, “get me out of here!”  Knowing Christ´s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please choose to stay. Please, use my atonement-not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.” The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that we can feel at home there."  

Reading this talk helped put repentance more clearly into perspective for me.  Heavenly Father love us so much that He gave His only begotten son Jesus Christ.  Jesus loves us so much that He gave His life for us.  We need to thank them by utilizing the atonement in our lives.  Isn’t that beautiful?  The grace of God really is sufficient.  

In the end, I was not I asked to speak on Sunday (I was part of the musical number and was asked to say the closing prayer).  But, I loved preparing this talk and am so glad I will have at least 5 talks prepared and under my belt before I get to Ecuador. 

Every Sunday evening we have a devotional meeting with all of the missionaries at the CCM.  For this past Sunday’s devotional we watched a recording of a devotional from 2011 given at the MTC in Prove by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of 12 Apostles.  In the concluding parts of the devotional his thoughts applied to all missionaries and everyone and anyone who is going through a rough trial.  He said, "You can do this!  Heavenly father wants YOU to know YOU can do this!  I promise you will have HIS help and in HIS strength you can do this!  My fellow friends YOU CAN DO THIS!"  

I know that through the love and blessings of my Heavenly Father I CAN DO THIS!  I can learn Spanish and I can have the spirit to be with me always.  I can experience the gift of tongues.  I can do this!  I know that anyone who is struggling with ANYTHING - YOU CAN DO THIS!!  You have a Heavenly Father and Savior who love you so much and are pulling WITH you. 

As great as this week has been, Sunday and Monday were also sad days because our favorite District and our Zone Leaders and Hermana Training Leaders left to go out into the field and serve our Heavenly Father all around the world.  Thankfully, we were able to take many photos with them and cherish the time we had left together.  


Zone picture before our favorite District left for their assignments
(our Zone is made up of 3 Districts)

As we were taking our final pictures together, Hermana Martinez, who is also heading to Ecuador, and I were taking a picture together and the wonderful wind in Mexico lifted Hna. Martinez´s skirt, revealing more than is allowed as a missionary!  And whoever was taking the picture caught the moment and another Hermana coming in to help pull down her skirt.  Haha, it was so funny.  


Hermana Martinez and "The Wind" incident

Getting back to our classes.  So from now on we will have 2 mock investigators a day (our day and night teachers).  They are assuming the roles of Ignacio and Renaldo.  Ignacio wants to know his purpose on Earth and to know more about our church.  Renaldo is 54 and his wife died 6 months ago and is very sad and angry with God.  

Teaching Renaldo has been the hardest because losing someone you love is very difficult.  While we were teaching I immediately thought of my Aunt Christine and my Aunt Nancy (my mom’s sisters), who have lost children and most recently a husband (Aunt Christine).  I admire both of them for their strength and amazing testimonies that by coming unto Christ and using the atonement, they WILL see their children and husband again.  I know that Christ’s atonement makes it possible for families to be together forever and that we can receive comfort through our Savior.  Now if only I could explain that in Spanish!  

We are preparing to teach Renaldo about the Plan of Salvation and about temples and that he WILL see his wife again.  I also found a scripture in Psalms 91:11 that says, "For he shall give his angles charge over you, to keep you in all your ways..."  As my grandpa Bradshaw told me before I left, I know that while I am here on my mission I have family members who have passed on before that will be protecting me as guardian angels.  

My favorite funny story this week:

Hermana Sokolowski (who is also in our room) was taking a shower one morning and we heard a very loud scream which was followed by her running out of the bathroom in her towel and yelling, "There is a HUGE spider in the shower!!"  As my family knows, I have often been the one to end up killing spiders in our house – NO FEAR.  Now, I’m not going to lie – it was the BIGGEST spider I have ever had to kill.  I just wadded up some toilet paper, grabbed the spider, and then I squished it.  Thinking that I had squished it enough, I opened the toilet paper wad up to take a picture but to my surprise, it flipped over and started moving again.  By this time, almost all the Hermanas in our casa had heard the commotion, gathered in the room, and were screaming.  So, I quickly wadded the spider up in the toilet paper again and I flushed it down the toilet.  Needless to say, everyone was amazed that I had the courage to kill the spider, and lucky for all of you, I was able to get a picture of it!  

THE SPIDER!

No Fear!  My companion in the background is not amused :)

To conclude this week I want to share some things I have learned about being a great missionary (future missionaries take note):

1. First, become converted yourself so that you can teach what you learned to others

2. The secret ingredient to missionary work is LOVE.  Love, love, love. Love your companion, love your investigators and most importantly love Christ. "Those who LOVE HIM the Most will BE the Most LIKE HIM."

3. You have to go to the investigator before you can bring them to where you are.  

4. Sometimes we are hesitant to be persistent.  An Avon lady is often more persistent and she is only selling mascara.  We are "selling" the Great Plan of Happiness which is 1 million times better than mascara. 

5. If you ever feel like giving up or that you can´t do it, remember the story of Peter as the fisherman and Christ asking him, "Do you love me?" three times.  Ask yourself, "Do I truly love him?”  You will be leaving behind your "fishing nets" (jobs, school, friends, material possessions) and we are commanded to "feed his sheep!"  We are called to feed his sheep.  You can´t go back to fishing, you can´t.  We have left our nets and need to love our Heavenly Father.  Do you love him?!  Then feed his sheep.  

6. "YOU CAN DO THIS!"

Well family, I am loving the missionary life.  This is the happiest I have ever been. 

#laiglesiaesverdadera 

Con amor,

Hermana Bartholomew

Random picture with head statue

How I dry my clothes on P-day
(Hope you are proud Mom!!  Use what you have, right?)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

This is my life and my joy!

AHHHH!! ¡Hola familia y amigos!  Today is the equivalent to Christmas.  No joke.  My companion and I could hardly sleep last night, just too excited to hear from all of our loved ones.   This has been the longest week, I feel like I have been here for forever. Everyone said that we just needed to make it to Sunday and then time flies by.  

So, I traveled all alone from Atlanta to Mexico (Anndrea Glendhill and the group of missionaries leaving to Peru were on a separate flight) but I was just fine, my Dad taught me how to get around an airport. ;)  I arrived at the CCM at 9:45pm and the sweetest lady in the world, Hermana Jones, came and welcomed me IN ENGLISH and she gave me the biggest hug, which I needed.  Then my Hermana Training Leaders, Hermana Martinez y Hermana Pollson, helped me take my many bags and showed me to my casa (my home or dorm at the CCM).  

Mi Casa - #10
I went into my room and my companion was in the shower but once she was all dressed I just gave her the biggest hug.  My companion is Hermana Olsen.  She is from Gilbert, Arizona and is TALL, well taller than I am, but that isn´t really saying much haha.  She is wonderful and later on you will see why.

Me and Hermana Olsen


The next day was mostly meetings and learning the rules and meeting the CCM President, Presidente Pratt.  Sadly we can´t listen to music that we brought because we live in such close quarters.  Also we can only take pictures on P-day, so throughout the week we have been taking note on places we want to take pictures. 

The CCM is BEAUTIFUL!!!  CCM is Spanish for MTC or Missionary Training Center.  It is short for Centro de Capacitacion Misional Mexico. The location of the CCM is a 90-acre campus in Mexico City that used to be a private high school owned by the Church called Benemerito de las Americas.  The old Mexico CCM building was near the Mexico City temple and could only accommodate about 120 missionaries at a time.  This new location can handle over 1,000 and is second in size only to the Provo MTC. 

Monument at CCM Entrance

The gardens and grounds at the CCM are amazing.  There are these stunning purple blossom trees that line the streets and are breathtaking.  

Purple Blossom Trees on CCM Grounds


With Hermana Olsen in CCM's Sacred Grove
With Hermana Olsen on CCM grounds
The food is surprisingly good.  Most things may not look as appetizing but they are delicious.  For some meals I have had to just eat cereal because of my wheat allergy but COCO puffs are holding me over until the next meal (for some reason they only have COCO puffs).  There is a fruit called granadilla and you just eat the inside and it is DELICIOUS.  The consistency is comparative to snot mixed with sunflower seeds, but it tastes like fruity goodness.

Granadilla


There was a group of 30 missionaries that came in on February 26, and we went to a training meeting on how to begin a lesson and teach with the spirit.  Luckily this was in English so we were all super excited to teach someone.  

Albert was our first investigator and was referred to la CCM by his friend Mario.  Albert has observed the actions of Mario through their friendship and appreciates the example of his friend.  Albert recently had his father come back into his life, after leaving him and his mom many years ago, and has experienced much hatred and wants to know how he could forgive him.  He kept asking, "HOW can I forgive someone who has neglected me?”

My companion raised her hand and shared a personal story how her parents were recently divorced and her father was disrespectful to her mother, and she had the same feelings of neglect and didn´t want anything to do with her dad.  But she prayed and found the strength to reconnect with her father before coming on her mission.  A few other missionaries shared personal experiences which allowed Albert to trust and connect with the group.  We all taught him about the healing power of the Atonement and to end the lesson my companion offered an inspired prayer to help Albert forgive his father through the Atonement of Christ.  

The spirit was SO STRONG it was almost tangible.  We all talked about how we are now addicted to the feeling of experiencing the love that Heavenly Father has for Albert.  Although addicted usually has a negative connotation, in this case it is definitely positive.  We LOVE the extreme joy we feel to tell someone that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them.  

Friday we met our District, 15C, which is made up of Hermana Shill, Hermana Johnson, Elder Chidester, Elder Ruiz, Elder Allred, Elder Wilson and Elder Olsen (and of course me and Hermana Olsen).  

District 15C 
Front Row (l to r): Hermana Shill, Hermana Johnson, Hermana Bartholomew, Hermana Olsen, Elder Wilson  
Back Row: Elder Olsen, Elder Allred, Elder Ruiz, Elder Chidester


Las Hermanas de 15C
Olsen, Bartholomew, Shill, and Johnson



They are all super wonderful and we get along very well.  We went to the classroom and met our first investigator, Marcos. His parents are baptized members of our church and he is a Catholic.  He reached out to the missionaries because he saw a wonderful change in his family´s lives.  We then prepared to teach him that evening, ALL IN SPANISH.  So hard.  2nd day in the CCM and you still haven´t learned enough to teach someone a full 30 minute lesson.  So we planned to teach him that the change he saw in his family was because of the Atonement of Christ, and prayed and prayed and prayed to be able to express what we wanted to say.  

Prayer works my friends.  When we got into the lesson, we read the questions we prepared to get to know him better and that went into the lesson.  THEN, he brings up the Word of Wisdom and that he LOVES coffee.  Haha.  Hermana Olsen and I just look at each other because we prepared NOTHING about the Word of Wisdom.  So we just turned to the commandments section of Preach my Gospel and we think we taught him why it was important and challenged him to follow the Word of Wisdom.  AND THEN, he asked why Heavenly Father would have a 14 year old boy restore the church.  Well, we knew a perfect answer in English, but in my broken Spanish I tried to explain that through the power of God we can do anything.  No clue what I said, but he seemed to understand.  

Saturday we met our teacher, Hermano Flores, and he is just the coolest teacher there is.  He knows quite a bit of English, but most of the class is all in Spanish.  But I have be blessed with the gift of tongues, not in fully speaking yet, but understanding almost everything Marcos and our teacher is saying.  Which is a blessing.  

During one of our breaks, two Elders approached us and practiced giving a summary of the 1st lesson in 5 minutes, which they did very well and gave us hope that we can learn Spanish.  Wahoo!  After they finished, we asked where they were from and one Elder said he was from Springville, so I asked if he knew any Bartholomew´s and he said ya I think our parents know each other.  I looked at his name tag and realized it was ELDER HULLINGER!!  Elder Hullinger was my best friend when I was like 2 years old.  (My mom actually tended him and his sister during the day when I was little.)  Our dads went to high school and college together.  Crazy small world.  So we planned to take a picture together Sunday because we knew our mothers would be very upset if we didn’t have one.  I think we were even put into an arranged marriage at some point when we were little.  The picture was on his camera so he will email it to me for next week.
  
Sunday was the most amazing day.  It was Fast Sunday, and at the CCM in Mexico we have a full 24 hour fast, and so our last meal was Saturday lunch and we didn’t eat again until Sunday at lunch.  Since it was Fast Sunday we had a testimony meeting after the sacrament and because we have such a small branch, everyone has to bear their testimony to fill the time.  So I wrote and translated my testimony into Spanish the night before to be prepared.  When I got up I expressed how grateful I was to be in la CCM to learn Spanish because the knowledge I gained of Spanish from Dora the Explorer is not sufficient enough!  Haha, sometimes I can say funny things in Spanish. ;)  Then partly because of being nervous and having not eaten all day, but mostly because the spirit was so strong, as I was bearing my testimony I couldn´t help but cry.  Oh it was amazing.  

After Sacrament Meeting we meet with our Branch President so he could get to know us and he asked the infamous question of how my family was, and I began to cry.  I realized how much I missed you all.  He told me I was an angel, haha how sweet of him.  I am so grateful for you and all you have done for me.  Hearing about how much Brandon misses me, truly touched my heart.  He is my best little buddy.  And I am glad Hailey and Megan are enjoying my clothes. ;)  I love you both so much and miss my not so "little" sisters.  Dad you have been a wonderful example to me through your dedication in church callings and the love and patience you have.  Mom I love you with all my heart and MISS YOU!!  Ahh, you are all so wonderful. 

Monday, my companion got the bug that was going around la CCM and became very sick, poor thing.  So the CCM is surrounded by busy streets.  The natives here LOVE fireworks.  So multiple times a day we hear loud explosions about every 10 minutes.  They sound like the cannons that go off when someone dies in the Hunger Games.  Dead serious.  So an Elder in my district always says, "Another one dead." 

Tuesday we had a devotional and Elder Vieblos from the Quorum of the 70 and his wife came and my favorite part of his talk was, referring to at the end of our missions being able to say, "This is my life, this is my light, my joy and my salvation and redemption."

Wednesday we prepared to teach Marcos without a full lesson plan and fully rely on the spirit and our handy dandy read book.  The lesson went SO well.  Oh my heavens it was our best yet.  I felt that we conveyed our message more sincerely by using our broken Spanish to testify and share our own experiences.  We committed him to read the Book of Mormon but he said that he didn´t know what he was supposed to FEEL.  So we explained what the Holy Ghost felt like and that "all good things come from God."  And after that we committed him to be baptized on the 15th of March.  WOOT! WOOT!  Oh we were so beyond happy.  

We also found out that tonight will be the last night that we will teach Marcos and he ends up being our night teacher.  So although he has already been baptized, his story is true and I am amazed by the sprit we felt even though he wasn’t a "real investigator" and can’t imagine the love we will feel for the people we will teach in Ecuador.  

My favorite funny stories of the week:

One night after teaching Marcos, our District leader Elder Chidester, wanted us to have a team cheer. We all put our hands in and said VERY loudly, "la iglesia es verdadera" (the church is true) With a few “woo hoos” at the end.  As we were exiting our building we realized classes were still going on and there was a priesthood blessing being administered.  All the Hermanas were trying to quiet the Elders down and Elder Chidester said, "We just screamed to the whole world that the church was true and now you want me to WHISPER?!" Which caused a roar of laughter, needless to say you had to be there.  But it was very funny.  

As a district we have told Marcos while trying to speak Spanish that he needs to repent of his fishes instead of sins, and that God eats him instead of loves him.  There is never a dull moment in District 15C. ;)

I am so grateful to be serving shoulder to shoulder with the greatest missionary who ever lived, our Savior Jesus Christ.  I have come to love and appreciate this great work.  I love being a missionary and feel of all your love and support as I am learning Spanish.  I love you all lots and lots.  

La iglesia es verdadera!  


Con amor, 
Hermana Bartholomew 

P.S.  Behind the CCM there is a hill with a "B" for the name of the old school here, Benemerito.  It reminds me of my mom's hometown of Beaver, Utah, and the "B" on the mountain.  A shoutout to all my family in Beaver! :)

"B" on hill behind the CCM