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

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