Monday, August 25, 2014

The Happiest Missionary in this World!

August 25, 2014

¡Oye, hola familia!  ¿Cómo están?  ¡Espero que sean feliz!  ¿Pueden creer que voy a cumplir 6 meses esta semana?

Say what?  After almost 6 months of being a missionary, here in Ecuador, where my love is truly growing more and more every day for these people, I am pleased to inform you that I am the happiest missionary in this world! 

Now onto a couple of stories about the greatest people on Earth…our investigators!!  Let’s start with Alberto.  He is gung-ho for his baptismal date this coming Saturday and has been counting down the days.  Yesterday he said, “Hermana, only 6 days left!” 

Teaching Alberto is just the greatest!  As you will recall, he is blind, so he is unable to see exactly how far away or close to him we are sitting; and he loves to converse with his hands.  With his arms fully extended, he recounts childhood stories or memories with his life-long friend, Obispo Valverde – and his hands are flying all over the place.  While in the meantime, we are dodging with our heads and body trying to not get hit!  Once I was a little too engaged in his story and leaned forward, when BOOM, I was hit in the face.  Yeah, we had a good laugh. :)

Since Alberto can’t see, we gave him The Book of Mormon on a CD so that he could listen to it, because we have no idea where we could get one in Spanish braille.  Any ideas?  Every day we come to visit, he is outside his house waiting for us and listening to The Book of Mormon.  “Hermanas did you know that Nephi had 2 wicked brothers named Laman and Lemuel?”  “Yes, Alberto, we did!”

As Alberto has stopped attending the Evangelica church near his home, many of the members of that congregation have persecuted him for listening to us.  They tell him that we worship Joseph Smith, etc.  But Alberto ALWAYS shares what he believes to be true about the Book of Mormon and the restoration of Christ’s church in our time through Joseph Smith and that God’s prophet today is Thomas S. Monson.  He is so anxious to be baptized…by his cousin Wilson!  Yup, that’s right – our recent convert Wilson has received the Aaronic Priesthood and is worthy and ready to baptize his cousin!  We are so grateful that our Heavenly Father placed Alberto in our path as someone truly prepared to make a covenant with Him.  Heavenly Father knows his children!

My companion and I have started to look for ways to serve others in every moment of the day.  While out working one day we met a lady named Fernanda, who is a single mother of 2 children (ages 10 y 12) and makes her own clothing.  We asked her if she knew where someone else lived, which she didn’t.  As we saw her there cutting fabric for her clothes, we decided to ask her if she needed help.  She gladly accepted.  While talking with her, we congratulated her on completing her calling as a mother and provider for her family as described in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  

In this inspired document from our living apostles and prophets, it says,
Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.

Fernanda is HILARIOUS and loves our message.  The only desafio con ella [challenge with her] is that she has never liked going to church.  Sadly, she was out of town this week and was unable to attend church with us.  But we will hope again for next week.

Now onto my weekly update on Marcos.  After traveling to the temple with us, Marcos said he is “more convinced” now than before about the truthfulness of our message and said that his baptism is “coming soon!”  Wahoo!! :)

We are also teaching about 10 other families right now, but sadly I don’t have the time to write about each of them.  Just know that their stories will be shared in the upcoming weeks!

This week the Bishop’s family was in a car accident and through a miracle their 2 young grandchildren escaped without a scratch.  But the Bishop’s wife Fanny, has a badly bruised and inflamed leg.  On Thursday we passed by their house many times and no one was home – which was very unusual for their family.  So, before heading home for the evening we felt that we should stop and see if everything was OK.  We found sweet Hna Fanny crying as she told us about the accident and how at the time of the accident she didn’t feel any pain in her leg.  She was only worried for her grandchildren. 

As Fanny sat on a chair with her purple/yellow/red (basically every color imaginable) leg propped up, we desperately wanted to help her.  But seemingly there was nothing to do other than give big hugs and share uplifting words.  Then the thought came to me that we should sing her a song.  As we sang the song “Oh, está todo bien!” (the Spanish version of “Come, Come ye Saints”), we were overwhelmed by the Spirit in the room.  Fanny had a confirmation that her Heavenly Father was aware of her and her family in this hour of difficulty and trial.  The three of us sang the chorus with tears in our eyes (actually 4 because the bishop was there and he was crying too) – “Oh, está todo bien!” [All is well, All is well]  I am so grateful for the spiritual experience we had with the bishop’s family and that we were able to serve Hna Fanny through singing.

Another highlight this past week - we also went to the temple in Guayaquil with our entire zone and our Mission President.  Spiritual high – right?!!  Oh, I just love the temple.  And it was all in Spanish and I understood (pretty much) everything! :)  Our Mission President is allowing us to go to the temple every 12 weeks now.  He feels that this will give us the ability to receive more revelation and have even more power in our teaching.

I love to see the temple!

After the temple, we had a training meeting where we talked about the principle of finding people to teach.  We were asked the question, “What is the doctrine that the principle of finding people to teach is based on?”  A doctrine is a truth that never changes, and the principle is the action.

I immediately had the thought, well it is based on the doctrine of building up the kingdom of God and because it is our calling as missionaries.  But I learned something I absolutely love – that the principle of finding is based on the doctrine of LOVE!  We are all sons and daughters of God, which means that everyone here on the earth are my brothers and sisters.  Our Mission President’s challenge is to work diligently to become better missionaries because we LOVE our brothers and sisters and want to help them return to Heavenly Father.  When we truly learn to love everyone – because they are our family, we will find those who are prepared to be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was in love with the Ecuadorian people since the day I received my mission call - but I am so grateful that I can learn to truly LOVE them.  My desire is deepening to bring the people here to our Savior’s feet, to help them repent, be baptized and make covenants with God in the Holy Temples.  I have come to LOVE my Savior even more through serving my brothers and sisters. 

Before I left on my mission, my dad gave me a quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie called My Missionary Commission:

“I am called of God.  My authority is above that of kings of the earth.  By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is my master and He has chosen me to represent Him--to stand in His place, to say and do what He Himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me.  My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my doctrine is His doctrine.  My Commission is to do what He wants done; to say what He wants said; to be a living modern witness in word and in deed of the divinity of His great and marvelous Latter-day work.  How great is my calling!”

How great is my calling?  Pretty dang great Elder McConkie!  I love being a missionary! 

Well family I encourage you all to truly love one another with ALL your heart.  As you do, I promise you will come to know our Savior even better. 

Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana B

Monday, August 18, 2014


August 18, 2014

Hello there dear family.  Another week here in Babahoyo that was full of new beginnings.  To start, I have a new love-hate relationship with the mission now as we had CAMBIOS [transfers]!!!!  Yup, my dear trainer and mission mom left me. ;8  Let’s just say I hate cambios. 

Saying goodbye to my dear friend and trainer - Hermana Toledo

Over the last 4 months, Hermana Toledo became my best friend and saying goodbye to her was beyond difficult.  I will forever be grateful to my Heavenly Father for answering my prayers and allowing Hermana Toledo to be my companion for the past few months.  Oh I just love her!  The final hug and wave goodbye was the hardest thing ever, both of us were just bawling. 

But on the other side of this love-hate relationship, I have a new companion, who I am already growing to love just as much! :)  Introducing....HERMANA LATORRE!!!  

My fun, spunky, loving new companion from Santiago, CHILE.  Haha. Yup, I am with another Chilena-which I am perfectly happy with.  I love CHILENAS!  (Dad let’s go visit your mission someday and while there, we can visit all my new friends too!)  Hermana Latorre is from the same group as Hermana Toledo – they were in the CCM in Chile together, they served in the same mission in Venezuela, and then they were both transferred here to Ecuador (because of the dangerous conditions in Venezuela). 

Hermana Latorre just finished training Hermana McKee.  Remember her?  We knew each other from the CCM in Mexico and arrived here in Ecuador together.  Yah, small world.  Hermana Latorre knows a LOT of English and is planning to go to BYU to study languages after her mission.  To practice she speaks to me in English and I respond in Spanish.  We teach very well together - it’s like we have been together for months, when it hasn’t even been a week.  We are always laughing and continually finding new people to teach!  I definitely miss Hermana Toledo but I LOVE my new companion.

Well onto this week...we went to the temple!!!!!!!!  

Guayaquil, Ecuador Temple

Oh how I love to see the temple and even more when I saw our 2 recent converts going there for the first time, getting baptized on behalf of their deceased family members.  

L to R: Carlos, Wilson, Bishop Olmedo, Hermana B, Hna Latorre

Wilson and Carlos both adored the temple experience and left with a new light about them, both incredibly happy.  

With Carlos on Guayaquil Temple grounds

I cannot wait for the sealing of Carlos to his dear wife and children.  I won’t be able to stop smiling when that day comes. (I will keep you updated on the details of when that happens!) 

Marcos also came with us to the temple, but sadly, he could not enter because he has not yet acted on his testimony and made the decision to be baptized.  Ironically, that gate of baptism is symbolically the key, not only to entering the kingdom of heaven, but also to open the door to be allowed in the temple.  So, we left him outside sitting on a simple white bench, reading the Book of Mormon and thinking about his new baptism fecha [date] 30 de Agosto [August 30]. Although he still hasn’t told us the words, “Hermanas, I am ready to be baptized,” I think that going to the temple and not having the opportunity to enter has helped him progress a little bit more.  WAHOO!  That’s all we can ask for right?!

Well, last week I told you about Nuri and her son Luis.  This week, I’m happy to tell you that Luis was baptized on Saturday and he is SO excited to receive the priesthood soon!  

Luis right before his baptism

L to R: Nuri, Luis, Leonella (Nuri's Sister)

Although his mom was not able to join him in the waters of baptism on this day, we are working with Nuri to hopefully see her baptized in September.

Now, an update on some of our other investigators.  Raul, the contact from last week that was secretly listening in on our lesson at the street vendor’s stand, has been working out of town all week and couldn’t go to church.  He was originally committed to a 30 de Agosto baptism date, but that will need to change so he can attend church first.  I will keep you all posted on his progress.

One of the greatest joys this week came as WE FOUND UNA FAMILIA [A FAMILY]!!!!!!!  While we were sitting on plastic chairs in the street sharing our message with a new investigator, (who I will get to in a moment) a young man passed us and said "Buenas dias" ["Good morning"] and kept walking.  After a few minutes he came back and asked us who we were and, "si este es la palabra de Dios." [“if this is the word of God”]  We answered, "Pues, Si!" [“Well, Yes!”]  We learned that his name is Alex, and we invited him to listen to our lesson.  

Alex continued to listen and we handed him a pamphlet about the Restoration of Christ’s church to the earth that he promised to read.  We later met his entire family, and they are ALL so eager to listen to our message.  Alex has two sisters, ages 17 and 23 who are both named Maria with a different middle name (but I don’t remember their different names at the moment, muy mal [very bad]), y sus padres [and his parents] Abraham y Tañia.  They are all Catholic - not active in their church, but like many people, just Catholic for the traditions.  They all have A MILLION questions about prophets and the priesthood and the restoration.  The neat thing is that our prayers were answered that day as we specifically prayed for the Lord to place a family in our path! 

Now onto the greatest investigator ever...ALBERTO.  Alberto was walking down the street Juan Marcos, with his cool Ray Ban sunglasses, his US army baseball cap, and a walking stick so that he would be able to find his home a little further down the street.  Alberto lost his sight as a young man, but remembers Babahoyo like the back of his hand.  He knows a little bit of English and something in German too, but I have no idea what it means. 

When Alberto met us, he asked us if we were cute or ugly and of course we told him that we are the cutest missionaries in all the world. ;)  Then he wanted to know how tall we were so he placed his hand on Hermana Latorre’s head and then tried to find mine, and was sadly hovering his hand WAY above my head. :)  When he finally found the top of my head he bluntly told me, “Wow! You’re short.” 

After we taught Alberto the first time, we gave him a Book of Mormon and challenged him to pray to God and ask if our message was true.  In our next lesson, he told us that when he prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet, that he had an incredibly warm feeling come over him and that he truly felt as though our Heavenly Father was in the room with him telling him that this was true.  He proudly proclaimed this to everyone at church on Sunday, and that he is going to get baptized on August 30th and he wants everyone to come. 

Alberto truly is an example that faith is not seeing, but believing.  As someone who is blind, and depends on sound and touch, Alberto experienced for himself the power of the Holy Ghost testifying of the truthfulness of this message. 

Well family, we have many, many, many other investigators that I could tell you about, but sadly I don’t have much time left.  Just know that the church is true and EVERYONE needs to work towards going to the temple.  I love being a missionary.  

I love you all and can’t wait to read your letters and write to you all next week!

Con Amor,

Hermana B

Monday, August 11, 2014

Obedience and Love

August 11, 2014

Well my dear family, ¡Hola otra vez! [Hello again!]  The weeks keep getting shorter and shorter.  Let’s see if I remember what we did this week! ;)

OH ya...well to start off, you will never guess what happened this week – 1) we didn’t need to use the fan to relieve us of the excessive heat in order to go to sleep, and 2) I woke up each morning absolutely freezing!!!  My one sheet I usually use is just not enough...I never thought I would say this but I am thinking of investing in a blanket!  Haha…it’s "winter" right now here and although during the day it is overcast and the clouds keep the heat and humidity in...(it’s just lovely)..at night, the temperature gets down below 70 and I just freeze.  I even dread taking the cold shower that used to be a highlight of my day.  I am in big trouble when I have to switch back over to Utah weather.
Any who, onto an update on Marcos.  We had a wonderful week full of powerful lessons with Marcos receiving even more confirmations that this gospel is true.  I want to share one of his stories with you all.  A few weeks before Marcos met the missionaries, he had a dream.  In his dream he saw a house with the usual 10 foot deep gutters running along the street (alright, so it’s really like 2 feet, but it’s like in the Disney movie UP when Russell jumps over the sidewalk crack and he says, "and he jumped over the grand canyon!”, but here in Ecuador we really are jumping over the grand canyon :)).  For some reason in his dream, Marcos could not jump this "grand canyon" to go to his church which was across the street.  He then sees 2 girls approaching him that offer him their hands to help him out of the deep gutter.  They end up helping him get out, but did not cross the street to his church (I am guessing the girls in the dream took him to the temple ;) )  

During this week we saw Marcos in the middle of town and so we crossed the street to say hello.  As we offered our hands for a handshake, he remembered his dream.  He told us he knows that we are here to help him find the right church.  AND with this wonderful dream he still will not act on his knowledge or prompting to get baptized.  AHHH! 

My companion and I are hoping like in the story in the Bible of the man who could not walk and when he was offered a helping hand and healed by the Savior he began skipping and running towards the temple, that something similar will happen with Marcos.  We have planned a trip this week for Saturday to go to the temple with Wilson (who received the Aaronic Priesthood this past Sunday), Carlos (the man in the red chair), and Jenny (who has recently become active in the church again).  All of them will be able to perform proxy baptisms for ancestors.  Oh boy am I excited to go to the temple! 

We are hoping and praying that maybe the only thing Marcos needs is to touch and see the temple and he too will be running and skipping towards the temple one day, but first he needs to get baptized.  We know that Marcos will be baptized one day, it is just really hard to see when someone hardens their heart when they KNOW that the church is true.  Phew, I had a few tears one day as we told him we couldn’t visit with him as often if he won’t commit to be baptized.  When he responded, he had tears in his eyes and said, “Bueno, others need your incredible testimonies who are prepared to be baptized.”  AHH, so hard to not visit him each day, but one day I will be jumping up and down for joy when he is baptized.

This week we also taught Nuri and her son Louis.  Nuri has an amazing testimony and was an investigator of the Hermanas that were in this area before us.  She is waiting for the divorce papers from her first husband before she can get baptized, which could take years because divorce papers here take FOREVER.  Her other option is to separate with her current partner/husband now.  Louis is ready and wants to be baptized, so sadly, Nuri will not be joining her son in being baptized this weekend, but we know he will set a good example for his mom and hopefully she will be soon to follow.  I love this cute little family and am anxious for the day that Nuri will be baptized as well. 

Ricardo, Belen and Adela y Adonis all are waiting for divorce papers, or need to get separated or married.  But they are all amazing and will one day be wonderful members of the church.

This week our Mission President gave us a new rule/assignment with a grand promise.  Our misión before focused mainly on references from members.  So if we didn’t have someone to teach we would just visit members until we found a reference from them.  Our new rule or goal is to contact 10 people or families every day, and Wednesday is now set aside for only contacting which is going to be super fun (we are planning to get really creative).  We were promised if we met this goal we will have at least 5 baptisms each month, and sometimes more. 

Ecuador is very prepared to hear our message and the people here are always welcoming us into their homes.  Our first day in following this new rule, we contacted a family who has a cooking stand in the street and sells rice (of course it’s Ecuador!) with chicken and maduras (which are grilled bananas – riquísimo [delicious]).  As we were sharing the message of the restoracion of Christ’s church to the earth, a man who had bought a little rice bowl was secretly listening to the lesson.  Then on Sunday, while walking in Salto, we saw him again and he stopped us and told us that his name was Raul and he liked our message and would love to hear more.  He also wants to have us teach his cousin and sister also.  Well, ya of course that’s fine with us!:)  Raul later accepted a baptismal date for the 30th of this month.  AND he just called us and asked us when we can meet again because he prayed last night and had a wonderful experience.  The blessings of obeying the council of our Mission President, right?!

This week in my personal study I learned there are 3 reasons why people are obedient.  The first reason for obedience is "fear of punishment" or simply "porque sí".  Many times as a child I was asked to do something by my parents and frequently responded, "But why?  Why do I have to do the dishes and not Megan?" (Shout out to Maggie Moo for being the dishes queen :))  This was usually followed by a "Because I asked you to" or “Because I said so."  Some commandments or rules we may ask, “But why?” or “Why me?”  And learning from my own past experiences if you don’t complete the chore or obey, there are consequences to come.  With this type of obedience we are obeying the commandment for fear of the punishment.
The second reason for obeying is to receive some kind of reward or blessings.  As a little girl I knew that if I completed my chores I could then go and play with my friends or go to the super fun party.  Our Heavenly Father loves us infinitely, so with every commandment we are promised to receive blessings.  In the scriptures we read, “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in Heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all laws are predicated.  And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.  (D y C 130:20-21)

I’m sure my parents hoped I would experience for myself the joy of completing the chore or obeying the rule and receiving the reward.  Our Heavenly Father knows that in this manner we are able to experience for ourselves the bendiciones [blessings] and frutos [fruits] of our actions so we will constantly strive to receive these blessings.  OF course at times we must have patience and faith that the blessings will come. 

The last type of obedience is the type we should all strive for always - that is obedience for "love".  One thing I wish I could have done differently in my youth (wow that makes me seem old or something) was to obey my parents, not in fear of punishment or because I wanted the associated reward, but simply because I wanted to see them smile and be happy, because I LOVE THEM (shout out to the greatest parents in the world, love you). 

I think we all begin with the first 2 types of obedience, which later allows us to obey and server [to serve] our earthly parents and our Heavenly Father with love.  Love.  Love to obey the commandments is fundamental.  Jesus said, "Do you love me?  Then keep my commandments."  Do you love our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?  Then obey the commandments. 

Relating this to missionary work, the love for this work and for my Heavenly Father can be demonstrated in our diligence to obey the rules of the misión and the commandments of the Lord.  It is my hope that we can all begin to obey our Heavenly Father simply because we love him.  Obedience is the basis of our purpose on Earth.  We will receive those promised blessings, but may we obey simply to show our love for our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ.  I love this work and my Heavenly Father.  I want to show Him my love through my obedience here in the mission and throughout the rest of my life. 

Well family that’s all for this week!  I love you all so much.  I also need to shout out to Hailey and Brandon because I love you too, and you didn’t get a shout our earlier in the letter;)! 

AHH! I am so excited to go to the temple with Wilson and Carlos and Jenny.  The church is true folks!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana B

Monday, August 4, 2014

Just Share It!

¡Hola familia! 

So almost every week I say, "Wow, it’s Monday again."  But this week I really could not believe it, "WOW it IS Monday again!"  (I think this in Spanish of course, because I am pretty sure I think more in Spanish now than English!)  The weeks are flying by and I am realizing how fast a mission really is.  But I am super happy because once a week I get to read your letters and write all of you lovely people! :)

WITH gran felicidad [great happiness] I am here to tell you that Wilson was baptized!!!  After attending over 20 different churches over the past few years, Wilson Nicolas Navarrete Garcìa was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, August 2.  Although in the photos he has the usual Ecuador “tough face” on, he was, no actually IS, beyond happy and explained that he felt like he was going to float up to heaven he felt so clean and just joyful.
Hermana B, Wilson, Bishop Olmedo, Hermana Toledo
After being immersed in the water and coming back up, Wilson stood there in the water overwhelmed with the Spirit and began to cry.  It was a special moment for us as we felt the Spirit and we recognized that he truly knew that he was a child of our Heavenly Father.  Wilson is one of the most humble and selfless men I have ever known.  He is so anxious to get a calling in the church and to serve others.  
We are planning a trip to the temple in Guayaquil in 2 weeks where he will have a chance to do proxy baptisms for some of his deceased relatives.  And guess what?  I will still be here on my mission in August 2015, right before it will be time for me to go home, when Wilson will be able to go to the temple and receive his endowment!  We are also setting Wilson up with a cute single lady in our ward who has never been married and is PERFET for him!  Haha we are playing matchmaker now, so who knows, maybe I will see him be sealed in the temple as well! ;) 

Now for an update on the other 2 amigos, Ricardo and Marcos.  They both attended Wilson’s baptism.

The 3 Amigos - Marcos, Wilson, and Ricardo

Ricardo is just waiting on official divorce papers from his first wife and the situation is a little complicated so it may be a few more weeks before he can be baptized.  He calls us his Chilena y Norte Americana.

And now for Marcos...OH Marcos!  Marcos knows that the church is true and he needs to be baptized with the proper authority of God.  Above all, he wants the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost and he loves learning about the priesthood, but he will not say "Yes, Hermana I will be baptized."  He always says, "Muy pronto, Hermanas!  Solo falta una cosa..."  [Very soon Hermanas!  I only lack one thing…]  But, he has yet to tell us what that is! 

We study for Marcos everyday, pray for Marcos fervently, talk about Marcos constantly, and even after many very spiritual lessons he keeps asking us for our patience and saying one day he will be baptized.  This last week, we even watched a short church video (Mormon Message) featuring the words of President Henry B Eyring of the First Presidency.  It’s called Some Day – or Algun Dia (ya I don’t remember what it is called but it is super great for this situation, watch it!)

[The name of the video is “Choose This Day” and is found on the Mormon Channel website.]

Click on the link below to watch the video:

Marcos just won’t commit to a date.  Phew!  I am learning patience like never before.  We are still working for his baptism to be this Saturday.  One big positive to come from this week is that we are incredibly happy because Marcos finally received his personal confirmation for himself that what we are teaching him is true.  This came through an experience where he was talking to his brother, sharing his belief in the Book of Mormon and how Christ came to the Americas after his resurrection.  Marcos told us that while he was testifying of these things to his brother, he felt the Spirit, and undeniably knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that this is the true church of Christ. 

Isn’t that interesting?  It wasn’t during one of our lessons when he truly received his confirmation from God that he could not deny it...it was when he shared what he had felt was true.  Sometimes the best way to gain or strengthen your testimony is to just share it!  Heavenly Father just asks us to open our mouths and our words will be confirmed to our hearts.  Many times on my mission, with Marcos or other investigators, I am personally strengthened by my own testimony - they are not my words but those of the Holy Ghost. 

Family and friends share your testimony, even if you don’t think you have one.  Many of the most spiritual moments before my mission were when I personally shared my beliefs with others and the Holy Ghost confirmed to me that what I was saying was true.  Sharing my testimony has strengthened my personal conversion that I know the Church is true and we have a Savior in Jesus Christ that loves us.  If you want to gain a testimony, just share it!

Speaking of testimonies, we have another investigator named Belèn, who has attended church with us the past 2 weeks.  She stood up on Sunday (yesterday) in Relief Society Meeting and shared her testimony with the other women of the ward of how the gospel has blessed her life the past 2 weeks and of her desire to be baptized.  Later, Belèn shared with us later how she had received her answer that this is the true church while sharing her testimony. 
Belèn and her adorable daughter Jeslie after church!

Belèn is also super excited to get baptized but her husband doesn’t want to get married. :( Welcome to our life here in Ecuador – everyone, it seems, is just “united" and not legally married.  Satan has worked really hard here in Ecuador telling the lie that marriage is just a paper and isn’t important if you act like you are married, and it’s into the hearts of the people here.  We are praying for a change of heart for her husband so Belèn can make covenants with our Heavenly Father and receive this important saving ordinance of baptism. 
This week we also began teaching the adopted daughter of our abuelita [little grandmother] Marìa.  Her name is Maritza and she is 15 years old and adorable!  We are excited to begin teaching her so we can have someone who will help Maria get to church each week. 
Well the funny story of the week, isn’t just from this week, it happens pretty much every day!  I feel like a celebrity here!!  Several times a week, there is a man riding his motorcycle down the street quite fast and catches a glimpse of a "gringa", and begins to slow down and gaze at the gringa on the side of the road!  With his eyes fixed on the foreigner, me ;), calling out "guapa" [beautiful] or "mi reina" [my queen] or in English "hey you!", they forget to watch where they are going. 

Sadly, this week there was this poor man who was one of these people.  As he was calling out to me, he forgot to watch where he was going, and hit into a parked bike taxi (a bike hooked up to a wagon type thing for people to sit in - it is a little slower than an actual taxi, but faster than walking, AND cheaper so we like to use them).  Anyway, no one was hurt, but it was a very funny experience and I can’t even begin to do it justice trying to describe it in words.  Just trust me it was hilarious.  I have never been told so many times that I am beautiful!  Oh, Ecuador.

Well family I love you all so much and hope you have another wonderful week in good ol’ Utah!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Bartholomew