Monday, April 21, 2014

Another week in the best place on Earth!!

April 21, 2014

¡Hola my favorite people!

Another week in the best place on Earth.  Some highlights of Ecuador I want to share with you...

1.      In Babahoyo, at night and after it rains, there are many mosquitos...I use my handy dandy DEET lotion everyday but for some reason they love my left leg.  So my left leg looks like it was attacked by a wild animal, but my right leg looks perfectly normal.  Haha, so strange. [Note – Jessica is highly allergic to mosquito bites, and usually ends up with extreme swelling after being bit.]

2.      I swear the dogs multiply by the hundreds at night.  There are SO many dogs.  Also, I saw a dead dog on the side of the road, shoved inside a grocery sack and covered by a million bugs.  That was a lovely sight.

3.      The ants here have a sixth sense...whenever you set food down on a table or the counter, one minute later there are at least 50 roaming around on your food.

4.      Everyone has a motorcycle, and every family member will somehow fit on the motorcycle at the same time.  Yesterday, I saw a family of six, SIX! people on one motorcycle.  Yah, I have no clue how it works when they need to make a sharp turn.

5.      Every home has at least one hammock.  Which is the most wonderful and ingenious thing ever invented.  Everyone needs to invest in one.  Here they are only 20 dollars!!!!  So, Dad find a place to put a hammock for me when I get home!

I LOVE Hamacas!

6.      Finally, the predominant church here is Evangelist.  When anyone we contact says they are “Evangelica”, we are in for a fun ride.  Let’s just say when they feel the Spirit they go CRAZY and dance all over the place.  One of our investigators said she felt the Spirit after she prayed, so I was thinking, PERFECT this is so great, baptism here we come...but then she explained how she got her mom and they had a little dance party.  Shoot, so maybe not ready for baptism...but so close.  Haha.

7.      Oh, and one more thing, the people here are adorable.  I have seen about 5 kids with special needs, and oh my heavens did they just capture my heart.  This one little boy will be coming back to Utah with me!  Oh and you know how I think old people are the cutest, well we were walking to Salto yesterday there was an old couple holding hands and slowly but surely walking across a bridge.  When they saw me, they both lovingly said "buenas tardes, niña!" [“good afternoon little girl”].  AHH, that made my day!

Anyways, those are some fun facts about my new home - good old Babahoyo, Ecuador.
(Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!)

My Spanish is coming along very fast, thanks to my loving and patient trainer - Hermana Toledo.  

With my trainer - Hermana Toledo
Sharing a hamaca with Hermana Toledo

I just need to find better way to study and learn vocabulary words and I will be set!  Many words are similar to words in English, so if I just add a Spanish twist to some words they are usually right. However to be embarrassed is NOT embarrasado…which is to be pregnant!  I learned that one real quick.  But I have found that I do frequently experience the gift of tongues in that I understand just enough of what our investigators are saying.   And, always something they say allows me to open my mouth and share a simple but strong testimony about what Heavenly Father wants them to hear.

So now onto the important stuff – an update of the missionary work here.  Our investigators from last week - Oscar, Narcisa and Katy are not progressing.  None of them have attended church, or been reading the scriptures or praying.  Things may change with time and I will keep you updated.

But no worries because we gained 8 new investigators this week and set baptism dates with all of them!!!!!  WAHOO!

La familia Terran is a family of 5 and they are so great!  Their 10-year old son Edwardo always has the most innocent and correct answers to our questions, it is so cute!  Edwardo and his father attended church with us this last week, which happened to be Stake Conference [a combined meeting of several area congregations].  We had the opportunity to listen to Elder Jeffery R. Holland and Elder Richard G. Scott from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, and members of the Primary General Presidency through a satellite transmission from Salt Lake City.  What a great first Sunday to attend church, right? 

One quick cool fact is that Elder Holland served a mission in South America and so he knows Spanish.  (He even served part of his mission in Ecuador with Presidente Pratt – the President of the Mexico City CCM.)  Even though Elder Holland knows Spanish, he used a translator for most of his talk.  The translator even did a good job at conveying the strength and urgency in his talks.  Both Elder Holland and Elder Scott ended their talks by bearing testimony in Español.  When they did this, even though it wasn’t perfect Spanish, they astonished everyone with their simple and strong testimonies that the Savior was resurrected and HE LIVES today.  And Edwardo and his father were awake and attentive the WHOLE time and anxiously engaged in the meeting, YAY!

The Terran family wants me to help them learn English and they in turn will help me with Spanish.  They are loving and welcoming and are reading the Book of Mormon, so they are doing great.  They are planning to be baptized on el 10 de Mayo [May 10].

Next, we have la familia Jaramillo which is a young couple.  Our first visit with them was wonderful!  As we got to know them and asked them what they wanted to learn from our message they shared a touching story about how their niece passed away but they didn't want that to be the end for her.  BOOM!  Plan of Salvation.  As we shared God’s Plan of Happiness and bore testimony they could see their niece again and live with their families for eternity, when we asked them if they would be baptized, without hesitating they both said YES! Yay, so they are scheduled for 10 de Mayo as well!

Then we have Ariana and her daughter.  They were a reference from a member here named Hermana Manzo (she is actually the Stake President's wife).  She accompanied us to our first visit and we shared a lesson about the restoration of Christ’s church to the earth.  As my companion and I shared our experiences with reading the Book of Mormon and bearing testimony of the role Joseph Smith played in restoring the church, the spirit was so strong and tears came to her eyes and of course I was crying as well (let’s just establish right now that I cry in almost every lesson, I have just accepted that it is going to happen every time).   Ariana didn't accept a specific date yet, but she said yes to baptism!  She is the sweetest person and is very patient in helping me with my Spanish. 

(Side note- As I mentioned, Hermana Manzo accompanied us for this lesson and decided to share the story of our visit and my testimony to Ariana with her husband.  Well, that night I received a phone call from the Stake President, and he asked to share my testimony in the Saturday evening adult session of Stake Conference.  Talk about NERVE RACKING!!!!  My first week in Ecuador and I’m speaking in Stake Conference.  But it actually went really well and afterward everyone said that my pronunciation was very good.  I’m not sure if they were just being nice, but it gave me hope!)

Finally, we taught Michelle who is actually embarrasado (pregnant) and a single mother of another little boy named Charlie, who showed me all his toys and kept saying, "¡MIRA! Mira!"  [look, look]   We shared with her a video about the restoration and focused mainly on teaching her the concept that we have a loving Heavenly Father and he is sending a new hijo [child] into her home because he trusts her to raise him.  Well, we said what she needed to hear, and she had many tears streaming down her face and gladly accepted a baptism date for the 10th of Mayo as well!  The May 10th is going to be a GREAT day!

Because this weekend was Stake Conference we sat through many meetings.  Many people don't know this but there is actually another Article of Faith that has been added to our church’s original 13.   Article of Faith #14 says "We believe in meetings.   Indeed we may say that we love to attend meetings.  We believe in meetings, we hope for meetings.  And our bottoms have endured MANY meetings.  If there is any gathering similar to a meeting, we seek after such meetings."  Haha! I thought that was too great, and had to share it!

My funny story from this week...
My companion wanted me to record an answering machine message and explained this to me in Spanish.  But since I have not gained that vocabulary yet, I had no clue what she said when she gave me the phone.  So, I thought I was actually talking to someone, and now our answering machine sounds like this...

"Hola, soy Hermana Bartolomeo!  Hola? Hola?  Oh, is this our answering machine!”…followed by much laughing.  The funniest part is we can’t figure out how to change it...so everyone who calls when we can’t answer and ends up in our voicemail will be very entertained by my message.

Well family, things are going well here as a missionary!  I am so humbled and grateful that I can feel a portion of the love our Heavenly Father has for my hermanas y hermanos [sisters and brothers].  As this past week was the anniversary of Christ’s death and resurrection I want all of you to know, that I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW that Christ lives.  I know that he thought of EACH of us when He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross.  I know that he is our Savior and Redeemer.  I know that because of Him we will all be resurrected also and have the chance to live together forever with our families if we follow Him!

The church has produced a wonderful Easter video message this year called Because of Him.  If you haven't seen it, please watch it.

To watch the video, click on this link - Because of Him or you can watch below:

This week think about all that is possible Because of Him.

Con Amor,
Hermana Bartholomew

Pictures from Babahoyo!
Houses in El Campo of Babahoyo

The beautiful countryside of Babahoyo, Ecuador

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