Monday, June 2, 2014

Once Upon a Time

June 2, 2014

Ecuador is BEAUTIFUL - Babahoyo River

Well family, this week I have a wonderful story for you.  It is like a fairy tale for missionaries so of course you start with “Once upon a time”.

Once upon a time there was a young lady named Katerine Reyes.  She was 20 years old and was the single mother of two beloved boys, Christian, age 4, and Jampier, age 2.  She took care of her children all day until 5:30 pm when she left to attend night school.  She had listened to "the Mormons" in white shirts several times but never completely accepted their message or invitations to attend church or to be baptized, even though all of her siblings were members of the Church.

One day Katerine decided to attend an activity at the church with her sister Julissa, where she met the best missionaries in all the land, Hermana Toledo and Hermana Bartholomew (the narrator of this story may be a little biased :)).  The Hermanas invited her to attend the baptismal service of Aldo Martinez and afterward she was overcome with joy and accepted their invitation to be baptized. 

Katerine told the Hermanas that she had met with the missionaries before, but the Hermanas knew she was placed in their path by a loving Heavenly Father, for she is a daughter of God.  Like all children of God, she had made mistakes in her life and became intrigued with the principle of repentance and the ordinance of baptism.  The sadness of losing her first daughter only a few days after birth was calmed when she came to learn that her daughter is waiting for Katerine to come back home so she can be her mom for eternity.  She truly learned the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  She came to really know she was a daughter of God as declared in a song,

Walk tall, you’re a daughter, a child of God. 
Be strong - please remember who you are. 
Try to understand, You’re part of His great plan.
He is closer than you know - reach up He’ll take your hand.

One day Katerine’s faith was tested when her friend introduced her to a man.  This man was very flattering, had a large house, fancy clothes, and a temporal substance she and her two sons lacked...MONEY.  This man gave her a tour of the house and glorified his wealth.  The man promised her she could live in this grand house and she and her two sons would never lack the things of the world.  All could be hers.  However, there was one condition - she could not be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Later, when recounting this story to the Hermanas with her tear-stained face, Katerine said, "I need that money for my kids, we have little food and clothing."  Despite her temporal need for food and clothing, and her desire to have the best for her kids, she declined the offer from this man and with faith told him, "I would rather have my children grow up and know they are a child of God than have your wealth." 

Remembering the warning of the Hermanas that when she made her decision to be baptized, that Satan would try everything to stop her, Katerine recounted that the man was Satan - who promised her all the pleasures in the world if she would NOT follow the example of Christ and become a member of His Church.  Oh, Satan really does want everyone to be miserable like unto himself.  She was also being ridiculed by her friends for listening to the Hermanas and wanting to be baptized.  But, like many before her she did not care because she knew that she was a daughter of God and instead said, "THIS IS MY RELIGION!" 

On May 31, 2014, Katerine Rosío Reyes Sanchez was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  She has been beaming with the light of Christ ever since. 

Katerine with Hermanas B & Toledo

Left to Right: Julissa, Hma B, Christian, Katerine, Hma Toledo
The spiritual understanding of the Hermanas was opened during those short two weeks.  They received a personal witness and testimony of our Savior’s love for Katerine.  Hermanas Toledo and Bartholomew knew that their Heavenly father and Savior Jesus Christ trusted them to serve and teach someone in need, by placing Katerine in their path.  Katerine exemplified her faith in God and she will live happily ever after by enduring to the end.

Family, Hermana Toledo and I are so so so beyond grateful for the chance we had to be the Lord’s hand and serve the ONE.  Katerine is a special and choice daughter of God.  Satan tried all he could to prevent her from coming unto Christ.  We are a little upset with him at the moment. :)  When she told us the story about being approached by the unknown man, and her courage to stand up for "her religion" even though she wasn’t even a member yet?  WOW!!

We always left Katerine’s humble home after our meetings with her in awe at her incredible faith, and many times we were in tears because of the matchless love the Savior has for her.  My testimony of faith and love have grown so much in the past two weeks.  Like President Thomas S. Monson said, "In reality you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people."    

I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I know He lives.  I love my Heavenly Father and I know He hears my prayers.  Although at times this week it was hard to be a missionary, I know God hears my prayers.  My knees are a little bruised from the amount of time I spent on our tile floor talking with my Heavenly Father.  I know He heard my prayers and "loves me ‘til the end". 

This week I also had an intercambio [exchange] with the Hermana Training Leader in our area named Hermana Valesquez.  I was so nervous at first because I was in charge of where we would go and who we would teach the entire day (and she reports everything back to the President).  No pressure right?!  But all went well and she was impressed by how much I could talk during the day, haha:)  It was a great day but I missed my companion, Hermana Toledo.  I don’t know what I am going to do without her when my 12 week training is over. 

Speaking of training, my Spanish is coming along and I can pretty much get the idea of what others are talking about, just not quite to the point of knowing every word.  My companion and I’s favorite word is muchisimo (so much).  And we add the “-isimo” ending to any word we can.  For example, buenisimo (so good), cheverisimo (so cool), ricisimo [??], when we exaggerate the first letter "ísimo" It makes any word sound more happy! 

Our investigators are doing well but most were unable to attend church this week.  But we do have a baptism planned for this Saturday for Yuri!!!  She is 11 years old and comes from a part-member family.  She is so excited to be baptized!

Well family although many times it is hard to be a missionary, I LOVE MY MISSION!!!  Hermana Toledo and I remembered this week why we love our missions so much and it is because of Katy, Francisco and Aldo and most importantly serving shoulder to shoulder with the greatest missionary who ever lived, Jesus Christ.

Until next week,

Con "Muchisimo" amor,

Hermana Bartholomew

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