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

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