Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3 Amigos

July 21, 2014

¡Hola mi querida familia!  ¿Cómo están? ¿Cómo le fue en Hawaii?  Probablemente perfecto y bonito porque es Hawaii, verdad?  Soy muy feliz aquí en Ecuador, tengo una gran adoración por las personas aquí. 

[Hello my dear family!  How are you?  How did it go in Hawaii?  Probably perfect and beautiful because it is Hawaii, right?  I am very happy here in Ecuador, I have a great admiration (adoration) for the people here.]

Language switch...Hopefully you all got that! ;)   Can I just tell you how much I love the people here?!  Well I love and adore them.  They are the most loving and selfless people I know.  We received so much thoughtful service this week that we are overwhelmed!  The members love us so much and think we are too skinny (haha good one), so they are now finding members to feed us dinner in addition to our lunches every day.  Those who barely have enough food for their own families are so willing to give us everything.  One family in particular is a modern day example of the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.  This family feeds the missionaries, less actives members of the church, neighbors, and their own family of 10 twice a week and they always have enough food and more.  Ahh service is the greatest thing ever.
Well I have happy news!  Maria, my favorite little old lady on this planet, is preparing to be baptized this coming Saturday.  She struggles with remembering all of the lessons we have taught her, but she loves going to church and when we come to visit she feels something special.   I gave her a picture of Christ depicting Him with all the little children gathered around him as described in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nefi.  Whenever she sees this picture she is reminded of her upcoming baptism and that she will become as a little child again, which she loves because as she says, "I am the at least 100 years old!" 

Oh, the best was teaching her the Word of Wisdom. [The Word of Wisdom is the Church’s law of health that prohibits alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, etc.]   She thought the name of this commandment was hilarious and always asks us what our “words of wisdom” will be today.  She also is a little nervous about the baptismal font filled with water - if it will be clean and if anyone else will use it and if someone will be there to catch her. :)  After we resolved her concern and assured her that it would be clean water and just for her, and that a man with the power of God to baptize wouldn’t drop her, she wants to get baptized.  She is a hoot to teach, but we are so excited to help her receive these first ordinance of Baptism and Confirmation and help her enter into covenants with our Heavenly Father. 

The cute hand-stitched Ecuador dress that Maria made for me!

Oh, and the happiest news of all…MARCOS came to church and loved it!!!  [Marcos is investigator Jessica described in her letter from last week that was a referral from the bishop in their area.]  We had many powerful lessons with him this week, especially one in particular on the blessings of the temple.  The Spirit was so strong that none of us could stop the tears from coming.  We call him every night at 10 pm to remind him to read his assigned section of the Book of Mormon and many times he was already reading and sometimes he keeps reading until midnight!  Also, he took us to KFC for my companion’s birthday this week.  He treats us like we are his daughters.  We love Marcos - he is just like a big teddy bear. 

And as a result of teaching Marcos, we are now also teaching two additional investigators.  One is a man named Ricardo, who happens to work with Marcos and was a contact from the other Hermanas working here in Babahoyo.  Ricardo was an avid member of the same Evangelical church as Marcos, called Luz del Mundo [Light of the World].  Ricardo is a man of great faith and has read the Bible completely many many times.  HE loves church and always talks of the peace he feels while with the missionaries (aka “mis hermanas - La Chileana y La Norte Americana” [“my sisters – the Chilean and the North American”])  Marcos and Ricardo are both planning to be baptized with the priesthood authority of God a week from this Saturday on the 2 de Agosto [August 2]. 

And the good news doesn’t stop there.  On top of teaching and preparing Marcos and Ricardo for baptism, one day they introduced us to their friend, se llama Wilson [named Wilson]!  HE is a golden investigator.  Wilson is very special and hilarious.  He is one of those people who I know was prepared and ready to be reminded of this wonderful message about the Plan of Happiness. 

So a quick funny story about Wilson.  The first day we taught him about faith and baptism.  We explained to him that first comes a baptism by immersion in water, and that this is followed by a confirmation and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, also known as a baptism by fire.  Wilson said, "No, no, no I want to be baptized by fire first..."  "Um...well we have this order in which the ordinances are performed to truly cleanse us of our sins..."  "No, Hermanas. I want to be baptized by fire first so when I get baptized by water I can be refreshed or cooled down.  We have to put the fire out somehow!"  Haha!  This guy always makes us laugh. 

Wilson is such a sweet man, always serving others and he loves listening to our message.  And get this - HE has called US everyday this week to make sure we are coming to Marcos’ place because he is going to be there at 5:30.  We had an incredible experience of teaching him about the restoration of Christ’s church to the earth through Joseph Smith.  After that lesson, Wilson offered the prayer and began crying and kept saying that he couldn’t describe this great feeling he had and wanted to know why he always feels like this with us.  We explained it was God confirming to him through the Holy Ghost that our message is true.  He also defended the Book of Mormon to a bystander who said it was a book from man and not from God.  We were shocked, he had only had the book for 1 day and he was already defending it! 

Anyway, Marcos, Ricardo and Wilson, the 3 amigos who were avid members of their church, Luz del Mundo, and are now loving being taught the fullness of the gospel, adding truth to what they already know, and being reminded of additional truths they had originally learned in the pre-existence about this divine plan of salvation.  It is amazing to think that in the coming month all 3 will be baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ, and all 3 become priesthood holders with the authority to act in God’s name.  They will be a powerful addition to the church here in Babahoyo.

All of this is happening because of the great faith and prayers given by our dear obispo [bishop] who had the courage to follow a prompting and talk to his friend Marcos.  I invite all of you to pray sincerely to our Heavenly Father and bring to him at least 3 names of family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues and listen for a prompting about who is prepared to be reminded of this wonderful gospel message.  God knows all his children perfectly and will prompt you about who is ready to listen and accept this great message.  Who knows, you might even find another group of 3 amigos. 

Finally, I’ve saved my best news of the week for last.  I need to tell you some awesome news about Carlos – the old man in the red chair.  First, a funny story.  So we were watching Mormon Messages with Carlos one night and the poor man was really tired.  During the last video we were watching he began falling asleep.  Hermana Toledo and I looked over to see if he was getting anything out of the video to find that his head was bobbing up and down.  Usually when someone is falling asleep, when their head bobs up and down they jolt awake...haha not Carlos.  His head was bouncing all over the place but he was not waking up - snoring and all!   Hna Toledo and I were trying so hard not to laugh but we couldn’t help it...neither of us had had the experience of an investigator or a member falling asleep in a lesson.  We didn’t quite know what to do.  Suddenly, a car honked its horn quite loud and it jolted Carlos awake just in time to see us dying from laughter.  In the closing prayer, I asked that Carlos would be able to “sleep well tonight”, and we all, including Carlos, couldn’t help but laugh when I said it.  I like to think that Heavenly Father has a sense of humor too. ;)

Anyways, the GREAT NEWS is that Carlos came to church again and excitedly reported to us that he is paying tithing again and is meeting with the bishop beginning to prepare to enter the temple and be sealed to his dear wife and their children in 2 WEEKS!!!!!!  Our AWESOME new mission president has given permission for Hermana Toledo and me to travel to be with Carlos and his family at the temple in Guayaquil!!!  AHH, we are beyond happy for Carlos!  He is so anxious and ready to have the sacred blessings of the temple and be sealed to his children and his wife, so they can live together for eternity.  All he needed was the invitation to come back to church, and our Heavenly Father knew he was ready.  How grateful I am that I listened to the prompting from the Holy Ghost to talk to the old man in the red chair, who is now reading the Book or Mormon AND a pamphlet on preparing to enter the temple. 

Needless to say we are loving life here in Babahoyo, Ecuador, and are so happy for the people that Heavenly Father has placed in our path. 

I love you family, have a wonderful week!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Bartholomew

P.S.  We found a baby lizard in the church today, don't know where the mommy is but we will keep looking! 

The "Baby" Lizard
Oh, and I got the package of the pictures from Luke, letter from Marlee, work-out book and t-shirt!  Thank you so much for all the thoughtful packages!  Love you :) 

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