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!

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