Monday, September 29, 2014

Mormones Secos

September 29, 2014

FAM BAM!!!!!!  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!  To be called children of God is better than any title, nickname, or calling we could ever have.”  We are children of God.  How divine is our purpose?  I still can’t get over how PERFECT Heavenly Father’s plan truly is - it baffles me!  ¿El es pilas! [I’m not 100% sure how to translate this - it must be Ecuador slang for something like He is powerful!  Literally translated it means He is batteries!]

So like I told you all last week, I absolutely love this sector!  And for this week vamos a hablar de la comida! [we are going to talk about the food]  THE FOOD!!  I had Lobster for the first time in my life, oh RIQUISIMO! [Delicious]  Oh, and the shrimp here is amazing!  Many of the members who sign up to feed us lunch, their husbands are chefs so we eat VERY WELL here! You have no idea how excited I was to eat a SALAD!!  I have had a mountain of rice everyday for the past 6 months but never accompanied with a salad.  Here in this area, the people are trying to eat healthier so we almost always have a salad!  (But I live in Ecuador so the rice will never stop, jaja!)  

Speaking of being healthy, one thing I love about the Latino culture’s influence on the members of the church here is they take the Word of Wisdom to a whole new level!  As a member of the church my whole life I never really thought of the Word of Wisdom as watching what you eat, so I was a little shocked when my companion told me one day that she needed to work on the Word of Wisdom...wait what?!  I was thinking, I am with you all day long and you haven’t been drinking or smoking?  Yeah, so there is also the part in Word of Wisdom where it talks about how we should eat healthy!  Here, before eating a big slice of cake, everyone reminds themselves of the Word of Wisdom.  We even met a young married couple who have a personal trainer and they have invited us to join them from 6:30am to 7:00am every morning for a workout.  Yup, that’s right!  We have our own personal trainer who is determined to help us truly live the Word of Wisdom to its fullest.  So say goodbye to the rice belly!!!:) 

This week we have been finding many "Mormones secos" which literally translates to “dry Mormons”.  You may ask, what is a dry Mormon?  Well, basically this is a wonderful Child of God who attends church or ward activities, reads the Book of Mormon, prays, has faith in Christ, and even wears a white shirt and tie or dress to church.  The only thing missing is their baptism!!! And because you get wet after you are baptized, they are still dry...haha - the people here are clever huh?!;) 

One of the Mormones secos we had the privilege of meeting this week was Cesar, who is the son-in-law of the bishop.  Cesar always supports his faithful wife who is very active in the ward and serves as the 1st Counselor in the Young Women Presidency.  They have been married for 13 years, don’t have any kids, they are still madly in love and they even have family prayer together!  So obviously his family described him as a Mormon seco (which when I heard for the first time, I just died laughing.  This has now become my favorite saying).

Cesar´s dad passed away when he was a young boy entonces [so] he feels resentment toward God because he took away his dad when he was so young!  SO we felt very impressed to share  with him the Mormon Message video "Gracias a El"  (I think it was called “Because of Him” in English).  

It was such a powerful experience to see the click of the light bulb in his eyes to realize that he will see his father again.  He was so touched by the video we were convinced that he was almost going to cry!  But he was surrounded by only women so he wanted to be tough...but he almost did!!!  He told us he is excited to attend one session of General Conference this coming weekend so we are HOPING and PRAYING, along with his family, that he will come! 

Then we have Joao, who has listened to at least 10 sets of missionaries and never was baptized.  He was a man who did not believe in God and thought everything could be explained with Science.  He is a young father of 2 sons and truly wants to change his life.  He would continuously leave his wife to take care of the kids so that he could go party with his friends and drink.  We are so proud of the progress he has made and that he wants to become better for his wife, and most importantly for his Heavenly Father! Joao has committed to baptism on October 11th, and his excitement is continuously growing each day. 

Funny story: So at church on Sunday, Joao was sitting in the Sunday School class and was given a Gospel Principles Manual.  He opened up the book to a random page, and it just happened it was the chapter on Repentance.  He told us his reaction was like...Shoot!  I need to repent, and he quickly closed the book!  He later told us that he had drunk coffee in the morning and he knew he shouldn’t, but he did anyway.  But after the little book experience and an unintended lesson on repentance, he promised to never drink coffee again. :)
And now for La Familia Jara.  You guys, they are seriously the most perfect family in the whole world!!  Every night when we come to their house, they stop everything they are doing to come and listen to the missionaries.  AHH!  They all have their propio [own] Libro de Mormon and are all reading 3 Nefi Chapter 11 together.  Gregorio, Wendy, Maria Jose, Leslie, Gonzalo, y Gregory are all SO eager to learn more and to truly find happiness in their lives.  

La Familia Jara

Sorry the picture quality is awful, but the fuzzy thing that the Dad is holding
is his new favorite book - El Libro de Mormon!
He was so happy that he told me, "Take a picture of me with this book!"

Gregory is the youngest and is only 11 years old but he told me, "So if I go on a mission too, I could get called to Utah and visit you and your family!" AWWW.  Yes of course you can!  He reminds me so much of Brandon B, that I almost cried when he gave me a big hug after one of our visits.  Hna Perez and I are SO grateful that Heavenly Father’s plan es TAN perfecto [is SO perfect] that we are able to be instruments in the hands of the Lord and help them have their eternal family!  

There are many more families that we are teaching, but sadly, I don’t have much time left!  

I truly KNOW that Heavenly Father loves us. To echo what President Uchtdorf said, “Our heavenly parents LOVE us!”   I know that he loves me so much, I mean I am here in Ecuador making friendships for the eternities and met a family that my AUNT taught when she was here 25 years ago…how perfect!! 

Jessica with Jane Landeros and family
(Brent's sister Lorena taught Jane as a missionary in Ecuador in the late 1980's)
Let's just say that Jane Landeros is like my best friend here and her cute family!!!  Her youngest daughter knows English and told me, "I love you!" in her cute Spanish accent and my heart just melted!!  They invited us to eat at their house after General Conference this Sunday so we will be able to talk more!  

OH and to say that I am excited for the upcoming General Conference is an understatement!!!  Dad's letter this week had a great quote.  IT is perfect!

“If God loves us enough to send us prophets, then we need to love Him enough to follow them.”
I hope you all have a wonderful week, and a special shout out to my "little" sis HAILEY to have the happiest birthday of all as a 14 year old!  Mom and Dad, how do you feel now that your kids are so old?!  

I love being a missionary and seeing the hand of the Lord in our lives each day! HEAVENLY FATHERS PLAN IS PERFECT!!!!!!!!!!!


Hermana Bartholomew

Here are the long-awaited pictures from last week:

My companion - Hermana Perez
(She is from Miami.  Her father is from Cuba, mother from Columbia)

September 22 P-Day riding bikes on the beautiful Isla Santay

September 22 - Making Cookies with La Familia Jara
L to R: Hermana B, Maria Jose, Hermana Perez, Leslie

Monday, September 22, 2014


September 22, 2014

Hello my favorite people ever, next to the AMAZING people here in Ecuador.  

Can I just tell you all how much I LOVE my new sector (Babahoyo is truly missed each day because it was my first area of course) but I am telling you Primavera here in Duran is full of the most loving and selfless people I have ever met!!! 

To say that Heavenly Father has a PERFECT plan is an understatement.  The past few weeks we have been visiting from etapa to etapa meeting the members, less actives and future investigadores.  And although we can’t street contact anyone inside the gated communities our Heavenly Father always finds a way for us to contact them later on. 

For example, we saw a young Dad on a walk around the neighborhood with his baby boy, and it broke our hearts that we couldn’t tell him how he could have his son for eternity...so because of the rules we kept on walking.  But as we entered a house of a menos active [less active], Paola, and began to share a message with her, guess who walked in?.....JOAO the young father who we had seen just earlier. The Spirit had told us that he needed to know that his family could be eternal.  Needless to say, he has a baptismal date for this Octubor 11 (how in the world do you spell Oct.? Nothing I have tried looks right, jaja).
Heavenly Father has SO many people here prepared to hear our message...AHH we are so blessed!  This week we were in the house of a member named Adela when her son and his family walked in, and just sat down and wanted to listen....PERFECT!!  They are the Familia Jara, and have 6 members in their family.  ALL of them, and their cousin who is less active, attended church on Sunday in DRESSES (coming from Babahoyo where everyone is in jean menos nosotras [besides us] was a HUGE change).  And guess what...THEY WERE FASTING!!!!!!  They decided to fast to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for their answered prayers and for the opportunity that they can learn more of how their family can be eternal.  They truly are a family of GOLD!!!!  They took us to Isla Santay [Santay Island] today for our Pday, where we biked across a bridge and through the BEAUTIFUL Island, and we have a family night planned for them tonight as well and we are going to make chocolate chip cookies!!!  

We are super late to end our Pday today.  I am going to ask the members to send you some pictures tonight via your e-mail so you can have some because my camera died, plus I forgot my cable thing again!  Sorry!

Well, we have to go and make cookies now with our wonderful family Jara, so sadly that is all for this week!  But I want you all to know that I love each and every one of you, and bear my testimony daily of how grateful I am for my family and that we can live together forever!!  

Con muchisimo amor y felicidad, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Monday, September 15, 2014

I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a missionary!

September 15, 2014

Hello my dear family,

First off, a couple of promised pictures from last week

TRANSFERS - Hna Latorre and her crazy personality will be missed
Hna Toledo y yo at Hermana Conference

Well this was one of the longest, most exhausting, and happiest weeks of my mission.  Hermana Perez and I are opening this new sector in Primavera, (which is in between Duran and Guayaquil) so if that doesn’t entitle stress, I don’t know what does.  

I think I told you last week that I am in a rich area….but friends, aqui es peluconisissssssimo! [here it is beyond rich]  Let’s just say all my shoes are evident that my last sector involved dirt.  I feel like I need to either wash them or buy new ones.  

We have about 7 gated communities in our area and some have “etapas” or branches of gated communities inside of them.  For example we live in the gated community of La Joya, etapa Murano.  Each etapa has 5 guards who ask for your identification, name, number, where you live, how many dogs you have, before you can pass through.  THEN, they call the house of the investigator you are trying to visit to see if they will allow us to pass through; and the gated communities have a rule that we cannot contact or knock on doors, or talk with the people in the cobble stone streets about the gospel without them initiating the conversation.  

What does that mean?  Referencias de Miembros! [References from Members!]  Oh, and our ward has like a million and 2 members compared to my ward in Babahoyo.  There are about 450 members that attend church each week.  They are actually splitting the ward next week during stake conference.  But I absolutely love our sector and especially the members here, even though it is a HUGE change from little Babahoyo.  We are making the most of it.
First off, I love my companion.  She is seriously the most perfect missionary.  I have learned SO much this week.  AHH she is so great!

Highlights for me this week were…

1.  Meeting Nicole Lopez, a 19 year old girl who is struggling to decide if she will serve a mission or not.  Sharing my testimony and experience of deciding to leave on a mission and what a blessing it is, reminded me once again how much I just love being a missionary.

2.  Conversing with Lourdes Cueva and finding out how she has experienced the power of the Atonement and ability to forgive through going through the divorce of her marriage.  She is incredible.  She is always serving the missionaries and is friends with basically all the missionaries who have ever passed through this area.  Which led to her saying, “I remember another Hermana Bartholomew who was an incredible missionary here about 25 years ago!”  

Hermana Bartholomew with Elizabeth Cueva - 1989

Hermana Bartholomew, Apartment owned by the Cueva Family in Duran Ecuador - 1989

Hermana Bartholomew (2nd from Right) with mom Cueva (middle) and other Hermanas - 1989

That’s when I squealed and exclaimed “THAT’S MY AUNT!”  I watched as she looked my Aunt Lorena up on Facebook and freaked my freak again when I saw that it really was my Aunt she was talking about. 

L to R: Elizabeth, mom, and Lourdes Cueva - 2014

Then Lourdes proceeded to tell me that one of the converts of my Aunt was a Jane Landeros, who is a member in the Primavera ward!  Let’s just say the original Hermana Bartholomew and her niece have been the talk of the town this week.  

When Sunday came around, I was going around meeting all of the millions of sisters, just waiting for some to say “Hi my name is Jane!”  Finally, the most adorable lady with her white and black polka dot shirt asked, “Hermana Bartholomew?!”  AHHH *insert Bear Hug here!* “Your aunt was MY misionera!”  I sadly wasn’t able to meet her family on Sunday, but we are going to visit them this week and take lots of pictures.  A shout out to Aunt Lorena and her amazing testimony that touched Jane and now her family!  

With my Aunt Lorena Moody the day of my farewell - February 2014

With Aunt Lorena Moody and her family - February 2014

It is truly amazing how our Heavenly Father has a perfectly flawless plan where he places us in places and situations where he constantly shows how much he loves us.  I will send more stories of how incredible a missionary my aunt was soon, along with the pictures of Jane and her family.

3.  Speaking of Heavenly Father’s flawless plan… We had the privilege of visiting with Familia Ramirez who had their son passed away about 15 days ago – so we decided to visit them and bring a little cheer in their home.  When we entered, the mom Maria greeted us with the most joyous smile ever, she couldn’t stop smiling.  When we asked, quite bluntly, why she wasn’t sad, she simply said, “Because I know I will see him again.”  A few days earlier when we had called her to verify if we could visit her during the week, my wonderful companion felt that she needed to share a scripture with her over the phone – and Maria began to cry and testified to us that our Heavenly Father answers our prayers.  

I am so humbled that Hermana Perez is my companion and she showed me to always strive to be an answer to someone’s prayer.  Maria and her husband are now working towards getting sealed in the temple.  Yay! Eternal families! J

So our investigator pool may not be described by quantity right now, but by Quality.  We have found golden families who are married (What?! Yah, I like this new part in town) and are earnest to learn how their family can be together forever.  This has allowed me to share how I have the greatest family in all the world.  Thank you, thank you, thank you sweet family for your examples and strong testimonies of the gospel.

I also met a family that had several pictures of an American family in their front room.  Considering that obviously they were not family members, I decided to ask who they were.  When they told me that the father of the family in the picture was the missionary that brought this wonderful message to their home, I melted.  AWWW, cutest thing ever right?!  I hope one day the people I have served will have a picture of me and my future family in their home. ;)  It’s a new dream I have as a missionary.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a missionary and I am truly humbled because I KNOW that my Heavenly Father is aware of me and I am here in Primavera, Duran Norte for a reason.

I want to end by sharing a thought that mom wrote me this week -  

“Wherever we find ourselves on the path of discipleship, whatever our worries and challenges may be, we are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  We can choose to reach for God’s hand in our need.  We can face our challenges with prayer and trust in the Lord.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a checklist of things to do; rather, it lives in our hearts.”

I love you all, until next week!

Hermana B

Monday, September 8, 2014

Goodbye Babahoyo. Hello DURAN!

September 8, 2014

Hola mi querida familia!!!!  I think I jinxed myself last week when I said it would be really hard to leave Babahoyo....well it came true!  I have been transferred from Babahoyo to Duran and it was SOOO HARD to leave Babahoyo.  There were many tears and final hugs...AHHH I highly dislike cambios [transfers].  

Marcos, Wilson, Leonela, Katy, la familia Conforme, and my Zone all came to the Bus Terminal to say goodbye.  For others, I was able to call and say goodbye and I wrote like 50 letters last night so Hermana Latorre can give them to all the dear members of Barrio Olmedo.  Marcos and Wilson were BAWLING!  It was one of the sweetest moments ever with them, as I really saw how happy they are from coming to know their Savior through me.  Freaking Marcos - just get baptized already!!!!  Hopefully Presidente Riggins will give me permission to go to his baptism here in the near future.  I am going to miss Babahoyo with ALL my heart.  

However, great news!  I AM SOOOOO excited to be in my new sector here in Duran.  

[Duran, Ecuador has a population of ~230,000 people and is a "dormitory" or bedroom community, with most of the residents working in Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador.  Duran is located at the convergence of the Babahoyo and Daule Rivers which becomes the Guayas River.  Duran appears to be a very diverse community with both very poor and very rich areas.

But, I can tell that it is going to be a big change.  I have only been here for like 2 hours but it is COMPLETELY different than Babahoyo and Salto.  The houses here are HUGE!!!!! :O  I’m not quite sure if they really are that big or if I just got used to the humble conditions of Salto and Babahoyo.  I can’t even imagine what it will be like when I get home. On the car ride to our house we were all silent just in awe at how nice this place is.  We live in a gated community, with guards and everything!  This is going to be a completely different experience. 

Duran, Ecuador

[Jessica's aunt, Lorena Moody (Brent's sister), served part of her mission in the City of Duran about 25 years ago.  However, Lorena served in a much poorer part of the city than it looks like Jessica will be serving in.]

Aunt Lorena in Duran circa 1989
Aunt Lorena in Duran

I was truly able to see the humility of the people in my sector in Babahoyo.  In my new area we have mostly gated communities so we can’t do much contacting through door to door soliciting.  Also the missionaries that were here before us told us that everyone works during the day so we have a window of from 6pm-8pm to visit our investigators.  The ward here is HUGE with 300 plus members attending church each week!!!  WHAT?!  And everyone here dresses so nice and cute, that means I have to try now. :) HAHA shoot. 

Oh my heavens, I just realized I didn’t even announce my new companion.  Se llama [her name is] HERMANA PEREZ, she is from Florida and she will be finishing her mission soon.  She is also a Lideresa [Mission Leader for the Hermanas] so we will be having many intercambios [exchanges with other missionary companionships] throughout the week.  That means I will get to meet even more Hermanas. ¡Eso!  I actually stayed my first night in the mission with Hermana Perez, and she gave me INCREDIBLE advice for the mission, so I am super excited that she is my companion.  My companion is super sweet and VERY spiritual.  Also she loves to eat healthy so hopefully we will both lose weight here!

I will dearly miss Babahoyo but I know that Hermana Perez and I are going to knock the socks off the people here in Duran!  ¡Super animado! [I’m very excited!]

Well here is my final report on my beloved people in Babahoyo...

1.  Alberto.  OH Alberto is seriously the best convert EVER!  We went to the cemetery this week to find information like birth and death dates of his family who have passed away so he can complete his family tree, hasta la [up through the] 4 generation.  Sadly, the Guayaquil temple is closed until September 14th but he is SUPER excited to go.  Alberto also received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of Priest in church yesterday.  He has been memorizing the sacrament prayer so that he can bless the sacrament.  Although he will not be able to read the prayer he is memorizing it perfectly.  Many of our visits with him this week were repeating the sacrament prayers over and over again and he pretty much has it all down.  I took a video of him practicing the prayers, and I am going to try and see if the computers in Duran are more high tech and will let me send a video file, but Alberto uses his hands to help him memorize, so he slowly moves his hand further and further away from him as he follows along with the prayer.  Sometimes he is trying to reach so far that it looks like he is going to fall off the chair. :)  I can’t wait to go to the temple with him here in a few weeks. 

2.   Leonela.  She is the real mom of Luis who is the young 12 year old boy that got baptized on August 16th.  We began teaching her this week with her 7 children!!!  She is the most humble and HAPPY person I have ever met in my life.  With 7 kids, they are sometimes short on food and they don’t have much clothing.  It almost broke my heart the other day when her daughter HAILEY (shout out to my little sis Hailey- who probably isn’t so little anymore!) came running out of her house down the dirt road to meet us in clothing that was meet for a little boy.  Without thinking, I asked her where her shoes were and innocently looked up at me and said, "I don’t have any...."  We are....well now Hermana Latorre and her new companion are going to buy a big bag of a variety of children’s clothing that they sell for 2 dollars, and hopefully she can find shoes as well so we can help her cute little family.  Oh I really hope that Leonela and her 3 children will be baptized this week.

3.  Odette.  Yup, just like the princess - swan princess?   We contacted her and she is just the cutest girl EVER!  She is 18 and LOVES to read.  When we told her that we have a book she will love, her eyes just BEAMED!  She promised to read the chapter in the Book of Mormon that we left and we said sarcastically said that if she wanted to she could read the whole thing.  When we went back 2 days later she apologized that she hadn’t read all of it, and that she had only gotten to Alma.  WHAT?!  That is more than okay Odette!  She is also studying English and wanted my help but now Hermana Latorre will just have to help her.

4.  Edwardo.  We were on our way to see one of our other investigators and we said hello to this cute old man sitting in his hammock watching soccer (typical man here in Ecuador).  We felt impressed to stop and ask if he needed any help.  He told us about his mother who is 98 years old and can’t walk and that he needed help carrying her into her bed.  With the help of the bishop’s son (who was accompanying us to our appointment) we were able to place her carefully into her bed.  Then we smelled an...awful smell.  The caretaker that usually comes wasn’t able to make it that day so no one had changed her diaper all day.  So with all the pure love of Chirst I could muster....I changed this little old lady’s diaper.  AHH it wasn’t that bad, so maybe I should look into working at a nursing home when I get back ;).  As a result of our visit, Edwardo is listening to our message and is planning to be baptized here in the next coming weeks.  

The other highlight of the week was a meeting we had with only the HERMANAS of the mission.  GIRL POWER!!!  (And YES, I was able to see Hermana Toledo again, possibly the last time before she heads home to Chile.)  The meeting was held at the Mission President’s home and was with the 60 or so misioneras [lady missionaries] of the greatest mission in all the world.  We had something like a little tea party with mini sandwiches and juice, all that was missing were the fancy hats. :)  

I absolutely adore our Mission President and his wife.  Hermana Riggins shared many experiences from her mission and how she has kept in contact with many of the families that she taught.  She told us that many of the children of those she taught are on missions now, and how she has seen first-hand that with one family saved we are actually really saving hundreds. 

One thing that I loved from the meeting was the emphasis on LOVE.  When we truly love the people we will see miracles.  I am so excited to love the people here in Duran and like my new companion said, we are going to see miracles here in this sector.  

Thank you for all the love and prayers, they are truly felt.  I love you all SO SO SO much!  Have a wonderful week. 

Con mucho amor, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

P.S.  Of course, I forgot my cord to send pictures!!! I AM SORRY!  They will come next week I promise!  Love you all!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Blind Man who SEES!

September 1, 2014

Buenas tardes mi querida familia!!!!!  [Good afternoon my dear family]

Well, to start off this week - going along with my letter last week (or the week before....haha one of my letters), I take back what I said about loving everyone with all your heart.  Advice for future missionaries....don’t love the people too much.  It is going to be SO HARD to leave them.  It is going to be a real struggle when I have to leave this area, let alone in a year from now when I leave my mission.  

I LOVE my area in Babahoyo.  I don’t want to leave ever (I’m saying that knowing that cambios [changes/transfers] are next week....so cross your fingers!)  I love the ward, the bishop, the members, my investigators, and even the groups of creepy men on the side of the road (which, by the way, I have told a few of them that I am a missionary and they can’t call me “their queen” or “princess” or “beautiful dream”, etc.  So now they call me "Amiga" [Friend].  They say, "Hola AMIGA!" and I reply with "Hola amigos!" Haha, it’s great!).  A member told me she is going to talk with the Mission President and have my mission be changed to "Misión Babahoyo."  Yup, I would be ok with that! 

Anyway onto this week....Alberto was BAPTIZED!!!  ¡Eso! [“Eso” literally means “that”, but I assume in Ecuador when used like this, and how Jess intends it here is to say, “That is what I’m talking about!”]  Leading up to Saturday, Alberto was SO anxious for his baptism, he had a countdown going of how many days until his baptism, "Hoy 4 dias Hermana Bartholomè!" [Today there are 4 days Sister B.]  The day of his baptism, if it was possible, Alberto was even MORE anxious to get baptized.  Before the baptism, as is customary, we were taking a bunch of pictures when he finally said, "Alright you’ve taken like 50 pictures, let’s go!”  For not being able to see, he was somehow in tune with how many cameras there were snapping pictures of him. 

Alberto before his baptism
Hermanas B and Latorre with Alberto

Alberto asked our dear Obispo [Bishop] to baptize him, and when it came time for the service he did SO well for being blind.  My companion and I had such a special experience with Alberto as we had to explain to him what the baptismal font looked like, how many people were there, etc.  In turn, we listened intently to his description of how he felt after his baptism.  

Alberto is blind, but oh can he SEE!  For Alberto he was not born blind, but traumatically he lost his sight and his world could be described as "dark".  But, as he explained after his baptism, he now has a new LIGHT with him.  Although he cannot see, Alberto knows that by following Jesus Christ and in the church there is always a GREATER LIGHT.  Following our Savior and His example will always bring a greater light into our lives. 

Like Elder Jeffrey Holland said when describing the events recorded in the Book of Mormon that occurred when Jesus appeared to the people in the Americas – ‘the Savior of the World had come, who turns the darkest night into the light of day.’  (I don’t remember the exact quote but you get the gist.)  

One thing that I adore about Alberto is his complete trust and faith in others to lead and guide him - to his house, down the street, to find the hands of those wanting to greet him.  But even more than that is Alberto’s complete trust and faith in the Lord.  Spiritually, he can see and is willing to be led by messengers that can help him back to his Heavenly Father.  Alberto knows that our Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers and that He guides and directs us.  Alberto also knows that we can and will find the happiness here that God desires for us.  

The moment Alberto learned of the saving ordinances in the temple, he started naming off the people that he wanted to perform proxy baptisms for, and he said let’s go as soon as possible after my baptism because this is something that the prophet told us we need to do!  We are so excited to help him prepare to go to the temple in a few weeks to perform the baptisms for his parents, aunts, uncles, abuelos [grandparents], TODOS [EVERYONE]!  And to top it off, Alberto continually listens to the Book of Mormon…in the morning, afternoon AND evening.  (At this point, I’m pretty sure he knows more of the Book of Mormon than I do!)  

Oh and good news Katy is preparing to go to the temple soon as well! YAY!!  

So sadly, Marcos was not baptized on Saturday, but he is getting closer.  His only challenge is leaving his other church (which he was a pastor in, and their church meetings are basically held in his house, so we are understanding that it is hard).  But like our Mission President told me, Marcos has the greatest message of happiness right in his hand that he cannot neglect.  Oh, and yes, Marcos tells me everyday about his Facebook conversations with you all.  BEAR YOUR TESTIMONY to him or send him a Mormon Message (in Spanish of course) he would love it!
We have found so many new families that we just don’t have enough time to visit them all, and as I keep saying, I just don’t have enough time to tell you about everyone.  But this is a quick recap of how our week went... Monday - walking under the blazing sun, walking to Salto, shoot they aren’t home, back to Babahoyo, well they aren’t home either, and back to Salto again, this time the furthest point of Salto and they were hiding from us.  Tuesday was the same as Monday but the sun was even stronger.  

On Wednesday - Carlos Pacheco (“the man in the red chair” who is now active and preparing to go to the temple to be sealed to his wife and children) introduced us to his daughter who has been a less-active member of the church for pretty much her whole life, or at least since the time when her father became inactive 20 years ago.  She has two beautiful little girls and her husband is named Wilson and is not a member of the church.  They are an incredible family and we are so grateful that we were able to meet them. 

And guess what?  They are MARRIED.  LEGALLY MARRIED.  Say what?!  That is a MIRACLE here in Ecuador :).  PERO [BUT], Wilson can’t attend church because he is a Professor and for some reason, the school he teaches at holds classes on Sundays.  He actually has Mondays off.  So we are praying that the Prophet will change the Sabbath Day to Monday, at least until Wilson can get baptized :).  We are praying for a miracle or he will have to wait until their summer break to finally go to church.

Friday, we had an activity with the Stake and they asked me to play the violin...so I had to try and remember a complete song and play in front of TONS of people, que verguenza [how embarrassing].  (I forgot what we did on Thursday - oh yeah, I met a guy named Bartolò, and that is pretty much our last name so we became immediate friends.  Saturday was ALBETOS BAPTISM and Sunday- we had many, many meetings.  We just LOVE our ward! 

TODAY we got permission from our awesome mission president to go to a tiny amusement park in the area with bumper cars and a carousel, so we are super excited.  

P-Day Carousel Ride - Hermanas B and Latorre

Well family, I love you all so much and I have one challenge for you all this week:  Put your trust in the Savior and he will help you SEE the pathway home to our loving Heavenly Father. 

Until next week con mucho amor,

Hermana B

P.S.  My cute companion is OBSESSED with ducks!!!  So when a menos activo [less active] had a bunch, of course we had to take a picture.  HAHA she looks like she is choking it to death, but she was just so excited.  

Hermana Latorre "holding" a duck