Tuesday, May 20, 2014

There can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy

May 19, 2014

Family!!!!!! I am so happy. Oh so happy! I couldn’t even express my immense joy in Spanish to my companion (which sadly is not a new thing) so hopefully I can explain them in English!

Drum roll please...ALDO WAS BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously my cheeks hurt from smiling so much this weekend! Oh Saturday was the greatest day ever!

Aldo before his baptism
(We only had time for One Quick photo with Aldo Before the Baptism.   It looks Like I am Holding Hands with him but I Promise I Was not! Haha J )

Here is a little recap of our long journey with Aldo to enter the gate of baptism:

Every day seemed like it was something different. We would go from conversations like this - "Yes I want to be baptized!” “Are you excited?” “Of course!" to having Aldo say something like, "No, probably not this week, I don’t want to rush into anything." Calling it a rollercoaster of emotions would be an understatement.

Satan is real folks. He tried everything he could on Aldo – from problems with his family, to he can’t pay for schooling, to having to move out of their house and move to Milagro this week. BUT in the end, Aldo prevailed!

As we got closer to Aldo’s baptism date, my companion and I expressed our love for him, and told him how we truly wanted this happiness for him and that we were praying for him (side note: I also felt prompted to tell him that my family was praying for him too. When I told Aldo this, his face was so great...he was just shocked. He says thank you for all the prayers!). However, there was still something holding him back. As we tried to decide how persistent we could be without pushing him away, I felt a prompting and decided to talk to him about repentance. I explained that if he truly repents for his past mistakes he will have any guilt he feels lifted from him. With the help of our great district leader (who performed Aldo’s baptism interview), he was able to fully repent and be ready for his baptism.

On the night before Aldo’s baptism, when he told us he was finally ready, my companion and I literally leaped for joy. From that moment to now I am still smiling! Saturday when we entered the church I felt the presence of our Heavenly Father like never before when entering a church building. Ahh, there are no words to describe it!

While watching Aldo enter the font, I was humbled by the fact that my companion and I were instruments in the hands of the Lord in bringing the message of salvation to heart of Aldo, and the Spirit doing the rest. As he came out of the water he gasped and looked up at Hermana Toledo and I with the biggest smile on his face. He was just BEAMING!

After Aldo was dressed the Bishop gave him the opportunity to share his feelings, and he said something along the lines of, "I am a little nervous but right now I have so much peace. I know this isn’t the end of my journey and I will continue to have challenges in my life. Before, I didn’t want to read the Book of Mormon and wasn’t sure about getting baptized. But I now know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. I could never deny the church was true. I am grateful to my mom and the missionaries, Hermana Toledo and Hermana Bartolomeo (that’s us!) for helping me find this joy. I know that if I live a good life I can receive eternal life, through God and Jesus Christ. Amen."

Family that was a testimony of a person who was baptized just moments before. WOW! I felt like my heart was going to burst during his testimony. I have never ever ever felt the Spirit that strong. To borrow the words of Alma, "There can be nothing as exquisite and sweet as was my joy!" It was an indescribably perfect day! 

 Aldo and Hermano Wellington
(Hermano Wellington, who baptized Aldo is the Young Men President in our ward)

Missions are hard. All the frustrations with the language, people not wanting to listen to what we have to say, missing my dear family, walking in the blazing heat, getting eaten by mosquitos, etc. All of these trials seem so small and such small sacrifices to be able to experience the grand joy of seeing someone you have come to love and care for follow the example of the Savior and experience this immense joy themselves.

My heavens, everyone needs to go on a mission and experience this wonderful work! Nothing I could type in this internet cafe is adequate to express my love and joy for this wonderful week! I know that it is impossible for everyone to serve a mission, but have no fear, every member can

be a missionary! Open your mouths and talk to everyone and their dog about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the joy and peace it has brought you. I promise that when you do, you will, as the Apostle Paul says in the New Testament, "Rejoice evermore!"

Quick update on our other investigators -
Francisco had his interview this week and is all ready for his baptism. He is very intelligent and retains information like a sponge. He now has received all of the lessons and is so excited to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized this coming Sunday!

Ilda went through a phase of not wanting to listen to our message anymore, but as of yesterday she wants to listen again! Her friend who is a member of the church and is also 82 years old, talked with Ilda about the sacrifices required to be a member of God’s kingdom, but the grand blessings we will receive in return. That’s the power of a good friend right there! Ilda couldn’t attend church this week because of work but she said she will attend this next week so her baptism has been moved to 31 de mayo [May 31].

Familia Jaramilllo wasn’t ever home this week

NEW INVESTIGATOR!!! Wahoo Katherine BajaƱa is the sister of a menos active [less active member] named Yulixa. Yulixa is 20 years old and has two little boys, who are the cutest things ever but they don’t like to sit still for very long - especially during sacrament meeting and the benches became a playground...haha). Katherine went to a church youth activity with her sister on Saturday and we also invited her to the baptism of Aldo. She came, and she loved it!!!! Katherine wants to be baptized, and her date is also set for the 31 de mayo.

Funny story of the week – (more like a summary of the life of a "Gringa" here in Ecuador)
If someone here in Ecuador knows even a tiny bit of English, they ALWAYS use it when talking with me. One morning we were walking to lunch and a group of young men kept saying "HI, hi, hi, hey you, hi, hi, hi" repeatedly like the birds in Finding Nemo that annoyingly kept saying "mine, mine, mine, mine". But in this case it was “HI, HI, HI, HI!” They wouldn’t stop until I said Hi back.

Also, the father of Leonella, served in the air force and learned English so whenever we pass by their house, he pokes his head out the window and says "Sisters! How are you? Nice to see you! Nice to see you! Where do you come from? Visit people and read the book? Very very good. Very very good. Goodbye! God bless you and your family forever and President
Monson!" Haha he has become my break from Spanish during the day!

Anyway this week was amazing!!! I absolutely LOVE being a missionary in the best mission on earth – Ecuador Guayaquil North!!!

Thank you for the prayers - they are felt everyday! I love you all lots and lots! Until next week,

Con Amor,

Hermana Bartholomew

Aldo with some members of the ward before his baptism.  There were so many that came - our ward here is the BEST!!
From Left to Right in the Picture:
Hermano Wellington and his granddaughter (daughter of Hermano Wellington's son who baptized Aldo)
Eric Conforme (Young Men's Secretary in the ward)
Our Bishop
Hermano Wellington
Yulixa (the less-active member whose sister Katherine we started teaching this week)
Me and Hermana Toledo
Sergio (in Blue a recent convert we are working with to help)
Hermano Conforme (our Ward Mission Leader)

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