Monday, November 17, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

November 17, 2014

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!! EVVVERRYWHERE we go....except for the fact that it doesn’t FEEL like Christmas at all.  There is absolutely NO SNOW or COLDNESS whatsoever!!  All this week our investigators and neighbors have been decorating for Christmas.  Christmas trees, lights, ribbons and all. 

Here in Ecuador winter on the calendar means THE hottest time of the year. HOT, HUMID, RAIN and then HOT again.  But really, the Ecuadorians dread winter....so there is no hope for me ;) jajaja.  But I still love Ecuador with all my heart, so I think I will stay ;)  To show how much I love Ecuador, someone gave me leggings that have a billion little Ecuador flags on them, which of course I wore all night with my Ecuador flag t-shirt (thanks mom).  I will send you all a picture next week!  AMO ECUADOR [I LOVE ECUADOR]

Today for P-day we took a trip to an IGUANA PARK!!!  

With Hna Alcazar and all of our Iguana friends
There are literally HUNDREDS of iguanas just walking around on the sidewalk with you....it kills me that I can’t figure out how to send videos, but I have a video where an iguana WALKED OVER MY FOOT!!!  AHHH!  

Selfie with our Iguana buddy
We also saw a man who was trying to feed an iguana a banana and IT CRAWLED UP HIS LEG TO EAT IT!  I will send a picture. QUE ASCO!!!!!!!!! [How disgusting!]

Banana man being attacked by a hungry iguana

My Compi, Hermana Perez and I
Anyways, this week we celebrated my compi´s birthday.  We (Hermana Velasquez y Hermana Alcazar y los miembros [the members] and I) successfully planned 5 surprise parties that day.  Basically, this means there were 5 shouts of "SUPRESA!!!!!!" [“SURPRISE!”], 5 tortas [cakes] (we didn’t feel so great that night), 5 regalos [gifts], and a MILLION hugs.  Hermana Perez turned 23, vieja [old lady] ;) and I loved seeing her surprise face at each house.  She is an INCREDIBLE missionary so she deserved the best birthday ever, right?! 

So this last week, Lourdes Cueva sent a picture to Aunt Lorena.  The picture was from one of the surprise parties, and it also happened to be with one of our new investigators.  

Happy Birthday Hermana Perez (and AUNT LORENA)!!!

So, I actually didn’t know that it was Aunt Lorena’s birthday but....HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY LORENA!!!!!!!!  Everyone here talks about Hermana Bartolomeo, and it’s not me they are talking about - it’s my amazing AUNT LORENA.  Everyone says that we are both super happy and we talk the same, HAHA. 

Speaking of the new investigator, this week Lourdes and her two sons introduced us to a friend of theirs from high school, Daniela.  ES UN AMOR!!! [She is a sweetheart!]  She lives with her single Mom and LOVES the church.  She actually attended the baptism of Familia Jara and as it was for everyone else there, had an INCREDIBLE experience.  We were able to share with her that coming to know Christ means you are NEVER ALONE.  She loved the lesson after the surprise party AND she CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!  Daniela is only 16 so we are hoping to meet with and teach her mom as well so they can both be baptized together.  (Her mom works every day from 8am-9pm Sunday-Viernes [Friday], so she won’t ever be able to attend church.) :( But we are so excited to continue meeting with her this week!

Update on our other investigators - Liliam and Enrique CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!  They only stayed for the first hour and a half, but they CAME! :)  We had a wonderful lesson, full of tears and the spirit this week, and we truly saw the desire to have an eternal family from Liliam and her daughter Alejandra (who is menos active [less active]).  BUT Liliam told us that she still can’t accept a date to be baptized because she feels like she is missing something. 

My companion and I had a long week of praying and pondering about what we can share with Liliam that will ASTONISH her to the point where she will be running to the baptismal font. ;)  We both received a firm confirmation that we need to help her recognize the Holy Ghost, and then once she knows what she is feeling is the Holy Ghost, and not just a happy feeling, SHE WILL have un deseo a tomar (ahh sorry Spanish is just coming out today and I can’t help it, yeah, focus Hna B - ENGLISH) the desire to start her journey towards an eternal family.  Enrique keeps saying that he loves the church, and loves the fact that his family can be eternal, and loves reading the Bible (not so much the Book of Mormon yet), but he is CATHOLIC.  Enrique is an amazing guy and is another one of those Mormones secos ;)  Please keep them in your prayers!

Esdrina. OH Esdrina!!!!!!  I adore this lady but she doesn’t want to force her husband (but they aren’t officially married) to marry her and she doesn’t want to leave him either. :(  She has been a little discouraged because she REALLY wants to get baptized.  We are hoping that at one point her future husband will have time to meet with us so we can teach him as well.  

Brayan - we haven’t seen at all this week.  He said he was going to come to church, but didn’t come.  :(  So I will update you on him next week! 

This week, while meeting with members and talking with them about their loved ones and their desires for them to experience the incredible happiness the gospel of Jesus Christ brings, I felt impressed that we should never lose hope, and never stop praying for our loved ones who are inactive, or not members of our church, or simply do not believe in God.  The atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for hearts to change, and to one day be together in a fullness of JOY.  We are waiting for the atonement of our Lord and Savior to work in algunos de nuestros investigadores [some of our investigators] right now, but right now is not the time.  We must continue with patience and diligence and one day we will see them change through the miracle of the atonement. 

I always say this in my letters and when I am sharing lessons, but I am going to say it again...WE ARE HERE TO REJOICE EVERMORE.  In the Emma Smith movie that was produced by the church, someone asked the Prophet Joseph, "Why another temple?”  He responded “Dios quiere que estemos llenos de gozo, y que solo lo podremos tener a través de las bendiciones del templo.  Aparece ser una doctrina muy atrevida.  Poder con el cual puedes mandar en la tierra y en los cielos.  Dios ha restaurado este poder de nuevo.  En un templo podemos recibir las ordenanzas de salvación no solo para nosotros mismos también por aquellos quienes han muerto sin esas ordenanzas.  Esta es una de las grandes bendiciones del Señor.  Las más hermosas en el plan de salvación que las relaciones que tenemos en esta vida perdurarán hasta despues de ella. Que un hombre y una esposa gozarán por medio del poder del sacerdocio y lo disfrutarán por toda la eternidad." (Sorry Dad - the movie was in Spanish, so I just took a few notes in Spanish and I’ll let you translate.) :)

[Here is Dad's best shot at the translation - “God wants us to be full of joy, and we will only be able to have it through the blessings of the temple.  It appears to be a very bold doctrine.  Power with which you can command [seal things] on earth and in heaven.  God has restored this power again.  In the temple, we can receive the ordinances of salvation, not only for ourselves, but also for those who have died without these ordinances.  This is one of the greatest blessings from the Lord.  The most beautiful thing in the plan of salvation is that relationships that we have in this life can survive in the hereafter, and that a man and a wife can have a fullness of joy through the power of the priesthood and enjoy it for all eternity.”]

For those who are praying for their family members to come back into the fold, President Uchtdorf said, “Never give up on anyone, and that includes not giving up on yourself.”  I also like the encouraging words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Don’t you quit. You keep walking.  You keep trying.  There is help and happiness ahead – a lot of it.”

My hope is that we will each strengthen our own testimonies and HELP all those we can.  I love helping all those I meet here in Ecuador at least FEEL of the happiness and love that we can have as we are converted unto the Lord.  

LES AMO TANTO TANTO TANTO!! Tengan una semana feliz y LEEN las escrituras, HAGAN sus oraciones y ASISTEN la iglesia. ;)  [I love you so so so much!!  Have a happy week and read the scriptures, say your prayers and attend church.]

Con muchisimo amor, 

Hermana B

Funny story of the week:

The other Hermanas that live with us have an investigator that came to church on Sunday.  He was SO pumped to partake of the sacrament because of the incredible lesson he had the day before, that when the water came around he whipped out his tablet and took a SELFIE.  #selfiewiththesacrament  "NO! You don’t take pictures with the sacrament!" "Oh sorry I didn’t know.  I was just so excited and wanted to let everyone know."

I died laughing.  Are we so excited to take the sacrament that WE want to take a selfie as well? HAHA, oh man good times.

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