Monday, April 7, 2014

Reflections on General Conference and Adios CCM!

Well these past few days have just FLOWN by and now I'm down to the last few hours left here at the CCM.  My last day was greeted with a beautiful sunrise.  It was FREEZING this morning (about 70 degrees) - I guess I have definitely adapted to warm weather already!

My last beautiful CCM Sunrise

One of the best surprises of today was a special delivery from my family.  Thank You, Thank You for the FLOWERS!!! I love them :)  Oh, it seriously made my day when I got them!


My Spanish has continued to improve, pero [but] they just introduced subjunctive here right before we are leaving and I have NO CLUE when to use it.  If anyone would like to share their wisdom with me that would be great (especially past subjunctive).  Also, because we had General Conference the past two days, we went from teaching lessons twice a day to two full days of just sitting and listening to people speak English (when EVERYONE normally speaks to us in Spanish).  So, we got used to hearing English all day, and so today was a HUGE difference. 

But don’t worry, I still remember most of my Spanish!  Except for just barely one of our teachers gave us a gift from Guatemala (where he served his mission and just recently visited) and instead of saying "¡Muchas gracĂ­as!", I said "¡Mucho gusto!" which means, “Pleased to meet you!”  Haha he and I both had a good laugh!

Anyway, speaking of General Conference, was it not the BEST conference EVER?!  Granted this is the first time I have stayed awake through all of the sessions, but the General Authorities really had wonderful messages for us from our Heavenly Father.  When they mentioned "all those throughout the world" who are participating, I realized "That´s me!"  I was one of those throughout the world, not in good old Utah, to eagerly listen to the words of the prophets! 

Elder Allred and Elder Ruiz from our district with the matching ties that we got for all the boys!
(They were only $4 at the CCM tienda!)
We also wrote a message to each of them on the back of their ties with some of our favorite memories of each of them.
Here they are catching a few ZZZs between Conference Sessions

Hopefully you all watched ALL of CONFERENCE! ;)  Did you sense the URGENCY and the importance of DEFENDING our faith?  Like in Jeffery R. Holland´s talk, there will come a point where we will be called to defend our faith, just as Christ did.  Although Christ was spit upon and others smote him, he suffered through the Atonement with kindness and long-suffering.  “What would Jesus do?" may not bring a popular response but we need to exemplify Christ-like love in response.  "Pure Christ-like love followed by righteousness will change the world!"  I encourage you all to be strong and defend HIS gospel, and when you do "you will feel the rock-like foundation of our Savior Jesus Christ and you stand for the truth.”

When President Eyring talked about how some who are listening may have been invited to by missionaries, my companion and I were so proud because we invited all of our investigators to listen to the words of the latter-day prophets.  Hopefully they really did!  I loved how he also said, "You hold more happiness in your hand than a person can really hold!"  I LOVED that.  I am so humbled that I can bring this everlasting happiness to the people of Ecuador in less than 24 hours!!  AHH that made it seem so much more real that I really am leaving.  Phew!!!

Ok, President Uchtdorf´s talk was just amazing!  Please go and read or listen to it again!  I loved the quote, "Don´t look for the rainbow, without thanking God for the rain!" M. Russell Ballard´s talk on the importance of following up when he said in relation to missionaries, "no matter how good your message is you may not be able to share it if you are not persistent and follow up!"  As missionaries we need follow up, follow up, follow up!  He also said relating to a story (forgot it but it was a good story, haha) "[He] took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and he was walking and jumping and leaping towards the temple!"  I need to LIFT them UP! I need to help them replace fear and doubt with real faith and take them by the hand and lift them up!  So good right?  Then as he invited all of us to purchase a Preach My Gospel, I would invite you also to all obtain a PMG and read the wonderful things that we are teaching, for it is a guide book for missionary work, we ALL need to read it!  I would suggest studying it as a family and reading the scriptures that follow each section, I have become converted myself by reading its pages. 

And finally I loved, loved, loved Elder Bednar´s talk (again he reminds me so much of you, Dad!)  "Come unto me...for my yoke is easy and my burden is light!"  I never knew this but a yoke is a wooden beam that enables oxen to pull together, side by side, and carry the burden together!  Because of the Atonement, we pull together with HIM, pull YOUR load with Him.  We are not and never will be alone, although the burden is not perfectly taken away, it WILL be lightened because he will strengthen us.  We can all feel the empowerment of the Atonement. 

I want to add my testimony to Elder Bednar´s when I say that the Savior will NEVER forget us.  He perfectly knows and understands our struggles, our pains, our regrets, our fears, our sins because he bore them FIRST!  He has perfect empathy!  I know that he will cleanse, heal, guide and strengthen us! 

There were many more talks that were amazing, I have pages on pages of notes from Conference.  I hope you all listened to the incredible blessings that were promised to us with apostolic authority!  The church is true my friends!

Well, today was our last P-day and a chance to say goodbye to the many friends we have made over the past 6 weeks.  I've included pictures of some of my favorite people and new friends.

Hermana Aiono is going to Ecuador.  She tore her miniscus and she finds out on Thursday if she will have to go home and have surgery, or if it has healed enough for her to stay.  Please keep her in your prayers!  (She is the one in the very front of the picture)

Hermana Aiono

The Elder on the far left in the picture below attended Utah State and lived at Snow Hall [same freshman dorm building as Jessica], and we didn't even know each other until we met at the CCM!!  Crazy small world.  [Jessica didn't include the Elder's name.]

Hermana McKee is absolutely on of my favorite people and I really hope we become companions in Ecuador!  Oh, that would be so great!

Hermana McKee and I discussing how to pose for the picture.
She looks like she is teaching me!
On Hermana McKee's Birthday.  She shares a birthday with Jesus - how cool is that?!
Here is the B-day sign I made for her!  Also, you can see what my haircut looks like.
I decided to cut my hair before I left for Ecuador!!

They put on a program every Sunday for those who are leaving the CCM the next week, and they put a picture of us up on the big screen.

District 15C
Don't ask me why we took the picture so early in the morning.  It was SO bright - hence why we are all squinting!

Ecuador and Chile - Ready or not, here we come!!!

Well I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve Heavenly Father´s children in ECUADOR!  There are no words for the mixed emotions I have!  My mission is His and I know that if I will serve with diligence He will have no problem with recognizing who I am! 

Well family I love you lots, and I will talk to you later tonight!!  AHH, you better answer! J  I will call the home phone, esta bien?

Con amor,
Hermana Bartholomew

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