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 SeƱora 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


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


Con amor, 
Hermana Bartholomew 

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