Monday, May 26, 2014

Defend HIS Gospel

¡Buenas días/tardes/noches [Good morning/afternoon/evening] (depending on when you read this)!  Happy, happy 3 months to me!  Wahoo, time is just flying by when you are having fun!

Well onto this week...Francisco was baptized!!!  WAHOO!!! Another baptism and the same indescribable joy.  Francisco was SO adorable after he was baptized.  He was trying to not smile too much but he couldn't help it!!  On the day of his baptism, he even woke up at 5:30 AM because he was so anxious to be baptized.  Cutest thing.

Hemana B, Francisco and Herman Toledo

Francisco with his parents

Francisco immediately after his baptism (trying not to smile)

And good news, Francisco has been reading the Book of Mormon with his mom this week and his mom is VERY interested in learning more about the church!  So we are going to go and teach them once a week, maybe twice, because they live in the campo [countryside] (which is about a 45 minute drive).  But I hear that where they live is beautiful and they are surrounded by millions of bannana trees. ¡Muy chevere! [Very cool!]

Well this week was full of firsts for me...some of which have to do with animals...

1.  One of the members of our ward took in 2 parrots that they found in the campo, and they have now become their pets.  My companion was too nervous to hold them because they bite, but I was all for it!

The Parrot

A Kiss from the Parrot - I hope it was a girl :)

2.  Now sad story...Aldo MOVED!! :(  Aldo and his mom went to live in Machala (which is a city south of Guayaquil and isn’t in our mission) with his aunt to find cheaper schooling and work. So sad, we went from seeing him every day for 2 months to nothing. :(  But good news, Aldo called and he found a church near his house and we are working on getting his church membership records sent there so they can take good care of him in his new area!  Ahh we are so proud of Aldo and his amazing testimony. 

So onto my animal story.  We went to Aldo’s house last Tuesday to hopefully catch them before they left, but sadly they had already gone.  We found his sister Viki and her husband Bryan were there finishing cleaning up.  When we arrived, they were just starting to move the chickens from Aldo’s house to their house.  So we decided to help. 

The process was quite entertaining.  We would all work together and chase after the chickens and hold them down while Bryan tied their legs together, so we could carry them to Viki’s house.  Well, the chickens weren’t too happy to have their legs tied together so they tried getting away by hopping around.  Basically it looked like someone on a pogo stick for the first time - a few jumps and then KERPLOP they would fall over.  Haha it was so great being surrounded by jumping chickens! 

When they were all tied up and ready we each took one and walked to Viki and Bryans house.  But of course we had to take a picture first, right?  

Transporting Chickens!

Hermana Toledo, Viki and Hermana B - transporting chickens!
I was laughing so hard, they were all shocked that I had never done this before in my life.  Well now I know how to tie a chicken down for relocation.  Don’t know if I will use this skill in the future but it is a good talent to have... :)

3.  This next one doesn’t have to do with animals, but equally a new experience for me.  Did I tell you all about the "Gringa" [gringo/gringa is slang for ‘American’] family?  Well I contacted a family from the states the first few weeks here in Ecuador and they called us this week wanting to meet up and talk more about our church!  I thought, well sweet, this is perfect, they don’t know much Spanish like me so I can teach them a little in English, and then they will get baptized.  We definitely had big dreams for them.

      Well, things didn’t go as well as we planned.  We meet them at the local KFC, and learned that they had been researching a great deal about our church.  They even found a translator for us so that my companion could understand as well.  Turns out they are missionaries for an Evangelica [Evangelist] branch here in Babahoyo, which means we have quite a few conflicting views on some basic things like who God is, etc.  Since meeting me a few months ago, they have researched for hours and hours each day and prepared an outline for me (typed and all) of all the things that are wrong with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
Growing up in Utah, where most of those I associated with were members of my church, I have never really been questioned or confronted on my beliefs.  Every scripture I gave to explain how Jesus Christ and God the Father are not the same person; how repentance is necessary; how Joseph Smith and the restoration of Christ’s church in the last days was prophesied of in the Bible; everything, as they said, was "taken out of context".  I was questioned about polygamy, and the last moments of Joseph Smith’s life, and told how the promise by Moroni given at the end of the Book of Mormon of how someone can know for themselves if the book is true, is really "a trick question".  Oh man, you could say I was a little flustered and overwhelmed by all the questions and attacks on my beliefs.
As Jeffery R Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, being a member of the church may not bring the most popular love - I can attest firsthand, I was not feeling the love from this family in that moment.  But praying in my heart about what I could say, I knew that I have been called to defend my faith and I have been promised that I will "feel the rocklike foundation of our savior Jesus Christ." 
So when they were trying to prove to me that there was no need for the Book of Mormon, the dad used an analogy and said it was like if my child had cancer and I went to 4 different doctors and 3 of them said the same thing about my child’s condition, but the last one said something completely different.  They asked me if I would go with the majority or go with the "crazy opinion".  I thought for a moment and realized, no the 4th doctor is not saying something completely different.  The last doctor, or the Book of Mormon, has MORE information about my child’s condition and has all the tools to fill in the gaps and in turn save my child’s life, or receive salvation. 
I shared with them that I do not have a perfect knowledge of the scriptures, or am I in no way a scriptorian, but I know perfectly, without a doubt through the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is another testimony of Jesus Christ, not to replace the Bible, but to testify alongside it. 
Every day as a missionary I invite everyone I meet to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its teachings, and I invited them to do the same.  Although sadly, they are not going to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its message, as Elder Holland said in his last General Conference talk, "be strong and defend HIS gospel."  And when in doubt, bear your testimony.  Simply put, I have learned for myself that many people aren’t going to care what I have to say, but if I can share my testimony of the things I know to be true by the power of the Holy Spirit, I have defended HIS gospel.
Brigham Young was not baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the first year of his learning about the restored gospel.  But of his conversion he said: “If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true.
A wonderful example of this is our investigator Katherine.  She mentioned to her friends that she was reading the Book of Mormon and has been attending church.  However, despues [after] she was scolded by her friends for investigating the church.  But she had the courage to share her sweet and simple testimony of the gospel and how she just knows it is true.  Wow, my companion and I were so impressed and had a proud missionary moment.  Katherine is just one of those “golden” investigators and is very excited for her baptism on the 31st of May.
Hermana Toledo, Hermana B with our investigator Katherine and her son Christian

Well, this week was full of new experiences and growth in my testimony.  The best way to strengthen your testimony is to share it!  Family, share your testimony and defend HIS gospel.  I love you and think the world of you!
Until next week, con amor,
Hermana Bartholomew
Funny Story / Favorite line of the week:

So my companions famous line to everyone is "¿Como esta su lectura del Libro de Mormon?” Which in English is basically, "How is your studies of the Book of Mormon?"  The recent convert family that we have been working with to be sealed in the temple later this year, is asked this question on a daily basis – every time we visit them.  So the other day we were visiting their home and we were discussing our days, just chatting away and as we were about to begin our lesson, Sergio (the member who we have been working with) asked my companion, “So Hermana Toledo, como esta SU lectura del Libro de Mormon?”  I could not stop laughing, it was SO great.  Hermana Toledo has never been asked this a missionary but proudly was able to report that she had just finished reading that morning and had a beautiful experience and confirmation otra ves [once again] that the Book of Mormon is true.  It’s kind of a “had to be there” moment - just know it was really funny! ;) 

Watching the last few minutes of Ecuador's World Cup Qualifying match while we were waiting for a member in Salto.
My companion thought it was hilarious because I was the only girl!

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