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Smith taught Hermana Olsen and I as we assumed the roles of people we are close to that are either not members or are no longer active in the church.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

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)

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