Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hola from Babahoyo, Ecuador!

Monday April 14, 2014

¡Hola best family in the world!  Guess what...I am finally here in ECUADOR!!!  I love it here to say the least.  

I walked off the plane and Hermana Mckee and I just looked at each other and she said, "Oh great, here comes the sweat!"  Basically, I have just learned that for the next year and a half I will have sweat dripping down my face.  When we are meeting with investigators or passing people on the street and THEY are sweating and using fans, etc., haha there is just no hope for me!  Everyone asks me if I am hot, and I’m sure from just looking at my lovely appearance their question is answered.  I just laugh and say "YES!" 

So we arrived at the airport in Guayaquil and Presidente Amaya and his wife (along with the assistants to the president) welcomed us.  They took us and all of our luggage to the mission office.  By the time we go there it was lunchtime and they took us to a restaurant called the Grand Chef.  We had what I’m sure is the fanciest (is that a word? I don’t remember - this is the most English I have spoken all week J) meal that I will have my whole mission.  Then we went back to the mission office and were able to write our families a note.

(Again I am so so so so so sorry that I couldn’t call you from Mexico or Columbia.  I was anxious the whole flight that you would know I was OK!  I also thought that they would let me email you after I arrived, but nope, we have to be full focused on the mission here so we aren’t supposed to think about our families.  Not to complain, but that is hard because I love my family!)

Anyway, after writing our letters we waited to get assigned to our new companions!  My trainer is Hermana Toledo and she is just the cutest thing on this planet.  

My Trainer - Hermana Toledo

She talks SO SO fast.  She is from Concepcion, Chile.  Hermana Toledo was originally serving her mission in Venezuela, but because of the civil war in that country, all of the missionaries in her mission have been reassigned to other locations.  

I was hoping that she would know a little English, but she doesn’t.  I’ll be honest, my first night was REALLY hard as I was struggling to communicate with her.  But the great thing is that she is helping me learn Spanish and I am helping her with English (she wants to go to BYU or Utah State for college after her mission). 

I have been praying for my trainer since I got my call, and let me tell ya Heavenly Father answered my prayers.  She is very patient and tries her hardest to speak slowly for me (she has an accent and a lisp so sometimes it is hard to understand)  She told me last night that she thinks I will be fluent in 1 month - haha we will see how that goes! 

Her favorite thing to do is to sing English songs with me!  She also says, "Quiero Partee!"  which means, “I want to party” (but she pronounces it PARTEEE).  We did have a 5 minute dance party last night after Daily Planning, because today is P-DAY!  She always holds onto my arm as we are crossing the street to keep me safe.  She is very sweet and loving!  Also, I guess in the Latin culture people don’t really burp, because I burped the other night and said, "Excuse me" and my companion proceeded to fall on the ground, laughing uncontrollably.  Haha it was great!  And now she loves to say, "Excuse me!" HAHA  We are always laughing even though I don't speak Spanish very well! 

Now onto our area...we are in BABAHOYO!!

Babahoyo, Ecuador

Babahoyo, Ecuador
(~35 miles Northeast of Guayaquil)
Babahoyo is a mix of small city and a big area of la campo [the countryside] (with dirt streets and houses built on water and shacks made of bamboo).  Much different from our little hometown of Draper, Utah.  [The main industry of Babahoyo is agriculture - lots of bananas and rice.]  

There are so many dogs here it is CRAZY.  And I am pretty sure that all of them are diseased and need to be neutered!  Also, did I mention it is hot here?  Luckily we have a fan in our bedroom and it is a lifesaver.  I just take a cold shower before getting into bed, point the fan right on me, and I’m hot again in 10 minutes!! J 

Our Bedroom and the lifesaving fan!

The children here are just adorable, every child I see I just want to take home with me!  Everyone is outside of their house, children playing soccer in the streets and families just outside talking and laughing together.  Family is the most important thing to the people here.  

Cutest Little Girl EVER!!
Her parents asked us permission to have her picture taken with a "Gringa".  That's what everyone calls me! 

Since my comp and I are both new to the area, we only have a few investigators and mostly have been visiting less active members of the church.  The bishop gave us a list of 34 families who are no longer actively attending church, crazy.  

My first full day we visited Karina who was baptized a few months ago, but has already stopped coming to church.  We shared with her a message and later invited her 17 year old son, Aldo to join the lessons!  HE ACCEPTED A BAPTISMAL DATE, woot, woot!  He is going to be baptized on the 26th of April!  He was hesitant at first and afterwards my companion asked me to share my testimony on baptism.  When I began to explain my baptism, I told him that although I was young, and don’t remember much, I DO remember the warm feeling I had like I was having a big hug from Heavenly Father.  Then I explained that I am here in Ecuador because I know that this church is true with ALL my heart, and then the spirit was overwhelmingly strong...and yup the tears came.  His mother, Karina added her testimony and she thanked me for sharing my testimony and said she felt the Spirit!  YES!!!  Oh it was so great.

We have 3 other investigators with a baptismal date for the May 3 - Katy Zambrano, Oscar, and Narcisa.  Katy Zambrano has a sister who is a member of the church and she invited us into her home to learn more about our gospel.  She hasn’t been home for the past two days when we went to visit so hopefully all is well with her.  

Narcisa is a mother of 5 kids and she runs a family business selling raw chicken.  Each time we meet with her it is in her store (a little booth) and there are always many interruptions as costumers come in and out to pay for their chicken.  My compa├▒era said as we started and stopped our lesson 3 times, "Ayy S├átanas, NO!"  Satan is really working on Narcisa and trying to distract her from being able to pray about our message.  

Then finally Oscar.  He is coming along SO well.  We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Christ and he was really touched because he has a family of 6 and wants to be with them for eternity.  

In these past few days I have already seen the hand of the Lord in these people’s lives.  This work is HARD, but is so rewarding.  Some days I wish that I could just know Spanish already, but I sit back and realize how blessed I am to understand just enough of what the investigators are saying so that I can hopefully say something that they need to hear.  

Well I have to write my mission President now in Spanish – haha. Wish me luck!

Sorry that I don’t have more time and the letter was all over the place this week.  I love you with all my heart family!  Thanks for your love and prayers – they are definitely felt here. 

Ecuador is the greatest place on earth!  

Con amor,
Hermana Bartholomew 

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