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!  


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.  


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


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?)

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