Monday, January 26, 2015

Best Friends for the Eternities

January 26, 2015


Let’s just say we had a HAPPY ending to the story that began with Enrique Gonzales a few months ago....which actually started with Familia Jara.  Gregorio Jara met Enrique while serving time in jail for a crime committed by his renters, and he and Enrique became best friends.  After Enrique was released from jail (he was also serving time for a crime he didn’t commit),   Familia Jara basically adopted him as one of their family, even giving him a room in their home to live in. 

One of the first things that Gregorio desired for Enrique after his release, was for us to teach his best friend.  The spirit that filled the Jara home each time we taught Enrique was INCREDIBLE.  My favorite was when we would teach him, he quietly would repeat almost everything we were saying to internalize our message.  This was always followed by his head nodding in agreement to EVERYTHING!  He is the greatest. 

After we asked Enrique who he wanted to baptize him, and he asked if I could (haha nope, I don’t have the priesthood), we suggested that Gregorio could baptize him.  (Gregorio had received the priesthood a couple of weeks after his own baptism.)  Gregorio’s face, when we told him that he could baptize his best friend, was seriously THE happiest moment of his life, and mine. 

Truly, one of the greatest blessings for me as a missionary is to see the changes and the happiness that comes into the lives of others as they align their lives with the Savior’s gospel.  Then to see THEM desire to help everyone else feel that same joy that comes through Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement is beyond description.  Gregorio baptized his best friend, Enrique on Saturday, January 24th, and they will be that happy for the eternities.  #Rejoice Evermore!

THE two happiest guys in this world. 
To say that Gregorio was excited to baptize Enrique, is a COMPLETE understatement. 

Hna Vilchez, Enrique Gonzales, Gregorio Jara, and Hna B.

We are keeping busy as we now are in charge of the 2 sectors until March!!!  WAHOO! :)  

Sorry this is so short.  We are writing late again today and are now heading to a family home evening with some ward members.  I will update you all better on our new investigators next week! 

LOVE YOU all!  

Have a happy week!  

Hermana Bartholomew

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


January 19, 2015

CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! This is not the sound that follows our footsteps as my cute companion and I are walking (plus, I do not even have high heels here) ..... it is for innocently SQUASHING GRASSHOPPERS (grios). YES you heard me right. The streets, the houses, the church, they are all FULL of grasshoppers. And these are not the normal grasshoppers that you would find back home in good old UTAH. THEY FLY. But they are not the sharpest tools in the shed, because they fly for like two seconds and then run into something, which WAY too many times this week was into my NECK! AHH. One day mi hijita came down from the bathroom before personal study and had one just chillin 'on her shoulder. Pobresita [Poor thing]. And everyone tells us, oh this is just the beginning of winter.
SO basically, this week was RAIN all day long, SUN so hot you just keep praying to move forward, and of course because of Condensation, Precipitation, and Evaporation, it RAINS all day the next day. But we both LOVE rain, so we are ENDURING and REJOICING evermore.  

Familia Leon had their first Family Home Evening in their home as MEMBERS of the church, and I am not kidding, 50 or more people came !!!! People were sitting on the floor, scrunched on the couch, and standing in the corner. ..let's just say the house was full of people ... and the SPIRIT. Hermano Victor gave the lesson, ESO !! And I was in charge of the game .... so OF COURSE we played Charades, but BOOK of MORMON version, SO much fun.  

ENRIQUE CAME TO CHURCH !!!! He is OVERLY excited for his baptism this week, as are we, and YOU should be too;..) It is absolutely amazing how receptive Enrique is to the gospel and the Spirit Hermana Vilchez and I definitely came to Ecuador to find HIM. Stay tuned for the JOYFUL fotos next week. 

Kleber IS Another Investigator we Inherited from Hermana Velasquez y Alcazar, and truth IS, we walked to his House every Day hoping to teach him, but he WAS Never at home.   BUT we Have high hopes That we Will Find him this week and That he still wants to get baptized this Saturday as well.
Sorry this is so short and scrabbled, but we painted a house ALL DAY long for PDAY ... so now the time has come to go teach some families.  

I LOVE service.
I LOVE Gods perfect plan. 
AND I LOVE being a missionary. 

Until next week, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Third Time's the Charm

January 12, 2015

MIRACLES DO HAPPEN!!!!  Not sure if you all knew this, but your life story is written in the Book of Mormon.  But don’t worry because mine is too!  Our life this week can be summed up in reviewing the story of Nephi and his brothers going back to Jerusalem to get the Brass Plates.  Just like the saying, “the third time’s the charm”, it was on the third try when Nephi fulfilled his mission in the scriptures, and that was also true in the life of Hermana Bartholomew and Hermana Vilchez this week.

In the scriptures:  1 Nefi 3:13 - “And behold it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence and he would not that he should have the records.  Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber and I will slay thee.”

In the Book of the Hermanas - Bartholomew & Vilchez:  And behold it came to pass that the lawyer was angry, and thrust the missionaries out from his presence and he would not that he should have the Leon family’s documents of divorce and identity.  Wherefore he said unto them, behold ye art representatives of Jesus Christ and strive to help others, but I will not give you the documents.  (Luckily, he didn’t tell us that he would slay us!  Thank heavens we live in a different time period, que peligro! [how dangerous]) 

Nefi´s response:  1 Nefi 3:15-21 “But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us…And behold it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers….And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God.

Hermana Vilchez y Bartholomew´s response: But behold we said unto them that as the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go downtown to write letters to our fathers in the cyber café next to the ice cream shop, until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us…that is to help Familia Leon get married. #keepingthelawofchastity  And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain the documents of their divorce that we may preserve them, and carry them unto the registro civil [civil register].  And it came to pass that after this manner of language did we persuade Familia Leon that they might be faithful in keeping the commandants of God, especially the law of chastity.  
Nefi´s second try: 1 Nefi 3:22-26  “And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things….and we went up again to the house of Laban.  And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property.  And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of the Laban and we were obliged to leave behind our property and it fell into the hands of Laban.

Las Misioneras´second try:  And it came to pass that when the lawyer saw how much it now costs to get married, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he sent us to find money, and his buddies at the registro civil did also, that they might obtain the amount of money needed to obtain the marriage certificate.   And it came to pass that we did flee before the members of the ward selling cupcakes and we were obliged to leave behind our earnings and it fell into the hands of the lawyer.

For Nephi – 1 Nefi 3:29 - After fleeing into the wilderness, dejected and ready to give up, an angel appears to Nephi and his brothers and says, “Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.” 

1 Nefi 4:1-7 Nephi then said “And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren saying, let us go up again unto Jerusalem and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord, for behold he is mightier than all the earth then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea or even then his tens of thousands?  Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses…now behold ye know that this is true, and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you, wherefore can ye doubt?  Let us go up, the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban.  And I was led by the Spirit not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.  Nevertheless I went forth.”
For the Hermanas – There was a long night with many tears and praying unto the Lord for Heavenly Aid....And it came to pass that we spoke unto Familia Leon, and we convinced the zone leaders to let us go up again unto the registro civil, and to let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord.  For behold, He IS mightier than all the laws in Guayaquil, then why not mightier than the lawyer and his fifty people that told us that Victor and Jessica can’t get married without this ONE document?  Yea even mightier than the tens of thousands of dollars that they asked for (OK, it really wasn’t that much, it just seemed that way to the poor missionaries :)). 

The Hermanas then said, “Therefore let us go up.  Let us be strong like unto Moses.  Now behold, we knew it was true, and we also know that the Lord has spoken unto us, wherefore could we doubt?  Let us go up, the Lord is able to deliver us, even as other missionaries, to destroy the plan of Satan against marriage.”  And the Hermanas were led by the spirit not knowing beforehand the things which they should do. Nevertheless they went forth.

For Nephi: 1 Nefi 4:7 “Behold the Lord delivered him (Laban) into my hands.  Yea, and therefore I did obey the voice of the spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.”  (And he got the Brass Plates.)

For the Hermanas: (FYI, no one was killed at the conclusion of our story :))  Behold the Lord hath delivered a nice clerk at the registro civil into our hands who had witnessed our 1st and 2nd  attempts.  Yea, and therefore we did obey the voice of the Spirit.  And it came to pass that angels were present that day.  The hand of the Lord was present and we were able to see the fruits of our labors.  The nice clerk told us, “I have seen you all here now 3 times.  You must really want to get married, huh?  You are missing a document, but I will allow for you to get married on the 8th  of January, as long as you bring me the last document that is missing on Friday.  Congratulations!” 

WAHOOO!!!!!!!!  We know that the Lord hears our prayers and that MIRACLES do happen.  

So family, the lesson here is that...THE THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM!  On January 8th at 4:30 pm, FINALLY, Victor and Jessica Leon were married for this life only, BUT they are anxiously excited to add “and for all eternity” to their marriage.  Those words will come in one short year when they are sealed in the temple.  Jessica even asked us to be her bridesmaids for her sealing! 

Victor & Jessica Leon on their wedding day - January 8, 2015

LtoR: Hna B, Jessica, Domenica, Victor, Hna Vilchez

Mi hijita and I were the only ones that followed through with the CRAZY PIC!! 
We were just so excited, weirdness came out! 

This HAPPIEST day of our lives was soon topped by their BAPTISM DAY on Saturday, January 10th!!!!!  Satan did all he could to stop it - RAIN storm, NOBODY had keys to the church, GRASSHOPPERS that filled the halls of the church, baptism clothes that DID NOT fit very well, and to top it all off, the E string on my VIOLIN broke while tuning....OH but we prevailed!  Victor, Jessica and their adorable 15 year old daughter Domenica all entered the waters of baptism.  Daniela Claro was also baptized on Saturday, with HER MOM watching, who afterward thanked us for the happiness that has filled their home with the spirit of LOVE and excitement for her baptism.  

5 People - Rejoicing Evermore!
LtoR: Hna Bartholomew, Domenica, Jessica, Victor, Hermana Vilchez
THE cutest 16 year old on this planet, who actually looks and acts older than I do, jaja.
Baptism Day for Daniela Claro - January 10, 2015

Our adorable converts with Bishop Ayala
Helping grow Barrio Primavera one baptism at a time! :) 

The other Hermanas also had a baptism of a girl named Prisila on Saturday, who was also truly prepared to hear this gospel.  Sadly, Hermana Valasquez and Hermana Alcazar BOTH had cambios [transfers] today so we are now in charge of our area AND theirs!  Bring on the stress. ;)   Like our lovely neighbor Monica said..."Families are eternal....companions aren’t."  :(  So we will be gaining even MORE investigators this week, and some are even ready to be baptized.  I will update you all on all the changes next week! 

One last update – the Jara’s friend Enrique couldn’t come to church on Sunday, so his baptismal date has been moved to the 25th, but he still carries his Book of Mormon, and ALL the pamphlets we have given him, everywhere he goes.  He won’t be a Mormon Seco for too much longer. :)  

Well to conclude our little Scripture-like story....

Hermana Bartholomew 

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's a Small, Small World

January 5, 2015

Hola Familia!

IT’S a SMALL world after all...it’s a SMALL world after all...IT’S a SMALL world after all...IT’S a small SMALL WORLD!!!!!  No wonder that this catchy song, that EVERYONE knows, is so loved and endured at the Disneyland ride, because it is SO true.  This world is SO small and I love it! 

This edition of The Small World story goes back to 25 years ago when Hermana Bartholomew (not me, but the famous Lorena Bartholomew, my dear aunt) was exiting a bus here in Duran, and for an unknown reason, the long skirt she was wearing, which was the missionary fashion back then, ripped. 

Hermana Lorena Bartholomew (right) and Hermana Storey in Ecuador - 1990

Now missionaries can’t preach with ripped skirts :), so she met Gladys Riofrio (yes her last name is “Cold River”) who loves to sew.  Because of the great missionary she was, Hna B made the most out of her ripped skirt situation and began to share the happy message of THE gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Later, Hermana B and her companion returned to Gladys’ home for another visit, this time with Another Testament of Jesus Christ (El Libro de Mormon).  Hermana B had even written a special message on the inside cover of the book, teaching Gladys how to pray and how to come to know if the BOOK was another testament from God that his Only Begotten Son truly did come to this earth. 

Message written by Aunt Lorena on inside cover of Gladys Riofrio's Book of Mormon

Now fast-forward to 2015, when another Hna Bartholomew was greeted by the one and only Gladys Riofrio, with a slightly worn down copy of the Book of Mormon.  Gladys gave this new Hna Bartholomew a BIG hug and opened her treasured book...she read the words, “Hna Lorena Bartholomew” followed by an address in Springville Utah where the other Hna B’s grandparents STILL live. ;)  

AHHH!!!! #rejoice evermore moment, take a picture, another hug, singing "It’s a small world" with the literal meaning of the song, and sharing HOW great is this plan of our Heavenly Father.  Gladys Riofrio and her son are SO grateful for the original Hermana Bartholomew and the happiness that she brought to their life.
Glaydis Riofrio and her treasured Testament of Christ, that is older than I am!  

Cutest thing ever right?!  I just love being a missionary, did you all know that?! ;) 

So good news, we went wedding dress shopping today downtown in Guayaquil with Jessica Leon, which means THEY ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!  January 8th - SAVE the date, in your hearts with a small prayer that everything will go smoothly.  We are beyond excited to finally have all the paperwork and money we needed.  The Heavenly blessings ARE coming. 

But I will add that Satan sure doesn’t want for them to get married, and we have seen plenty of opposition.  We spent our entire P-day today from 11 am to 7 pm trying to figure out all of the laws here and then driving around to every marriage center possible in Guayaquil trying to get a date for this Thursday.  While leaving this morning, the guard at our gated community lost Victor’s license card when it fell down a gutter (let’s just say we got creative with gum), and then the price for a marriage license was raised this year, and then I got yelled at a couple of times, and I could go on and on.  All of this adversity goes to show how truly GREAT this family is.  Satan is working hard, but we will work HARDER!   

Jessica also made me promise, because mi hijita [my companion] will still be on her mission in a year, that I will come back for the happiest day of their lives when they are SEALED for time and ALL eternity in the temple.  Jessica has ALWAYS passed by the HERMOSA Templo [BEAUTIFUL Temple] in Guayaquil with the longing to desire to enter in someday.  She and her husband and daughter are just a "little" excited for this week and the first saving ordinance of baptism; and then the coming weeks this year as they prepare to enter into that last saving ordinance of being sealed as a family in the temple.  So their baptism is planned for this Saturday at 7 pm along with DANIELA Claro.  Then Enrique Gonzales will be the following week!!

The challenges we have faced with Familia Leon have been hard.  The mission is hard.  BUT I know the promises that I have been made are real.  I know why I am here, and what I am a part of, and what we do DOES matter.  If I have learned one thing on the mission, it is that GOD IS REAL.  And I couldn’t say it any better than Al Fox:

“I know now that God is real.  I know that, because I asked Him and my life has been different ever since.  Things have not gone the way that I had in mind.  Because of Him, they have been profoundly better. 

I know now that, happiness is real, a lasting happiness.  I know that I'm being taken care of.  That I'll never be comfortless. That I'll always be guided and directed to greater things.  I know that I am never alone, not even a second. God is always there. Listening. Helping.  I know that.  I know.  I can see the difference.

I am happy. I am happy because of God! Because He is there. Because He is real.  And He loves me, exactly how I am.  I know that. I know that because I can feel it.  How grateful I am I asked.  I don't know what I'd do without knowing that. I don't know what I'd do without Him.  I can’t do this without Him, I don't want to! Because all things are greater with God.

Turn to Him. Ask for yourself. Know, know it for yourself, and receive the greater things God has for you."

I love you all dearly and hope you have a wonderful week!

Hermana Bartholomew

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Heavenly Promises are ALWAYS kept

January 1, 2015


Hello lovely family!!!!  First off, I haven’t had a chance to write since talking to you on Christmas.  As promised, I’m sending you a bunch of pictures from our trip to the temple, as well as our mission Christmas reunion with all 250 missionaries in the Guayaquil North Mission.  

Guayaquil Ecuador Temple - December 23, 2014

With my hijita, Hermana Vilchez at Guayaquil Temple 

The BEST Zone in Ecuador at Guayaquil Temple on December 23, 2014

At Mission Christmas Conference on 23 December with all my friends from first Zone in Babahoyo
Mission Christmas Conference - December 23, 2014
That one time when I played the violin in front of 250 MISSIONARIES.  I wasn't nervous at all. ;)

In the end, it really DID feel like Christmas...despite the heat...WHY?  Because I got to talk to all of YOU!!  I loved talking with you, and THANK YOU for your helping in renewing our drive to put our whole hearts into this work.  I love you all so much, but I still want to stay in Ecuador!!! 

Everyone has flooded my email with questions of how crazy it is here in Ecuador for the New Year celebrations....haha.  The truth is that the Ecuadorians know how to throw a New Year’s party.  The tradition here is making paper mache dolls of all shapes and sizes called año viejos [old years] (they look like a piñata, but are filled with firecrackers instead of candy).  At midnight on New Year’s Eve, everyone lights their año viejos on fire.  As you can imagine, this leads to quite the explosive party!

AÑO VIEJO - Hermana Bartholomew edition
FERB!!!  Familia Pincay, along with every other family in Ecuador, had their año viejo out displayed on their front porch for all the world to see.  
For us, things here in Primavera were quite different.  In our sector (the gated communities), it is prohibited to burn anything, including the año viejos.  So EVERYONE and their dog goes to the beach and parties all week instead!  For those families that didn’t go to the beach, they left the gated areas and go out to the main road, or downtown and burn their año viejos with everyone else.  So it was SUPER quiet in our sector and we had pretty calm surroundings last night.  We did make our own FUN with a good game of UNO and eating ice cream! 

But in the other areas of the mission like Babahoyo, or Quevedo, or in the city we could have just stuck our heads out the window and seen fireworks and burning año viejos for miles.  THEY ARE SO COOL!  These people are so creative.  Some of the Elders told us that in their areas, which are in the city, people were up until 6:30am (which is when we woke up this morning) blasting music and burning every firework known to man.  They said they even saw some people burning año viejos that were 10 feet high (or even bigger).  I encourage all of you to go and do a google search on "año viejos of ecuador".  I promise you will have to have someone close your mouth as it drops from the surprise in realizing the time it would take to make one of those things.  

Internet image of año viejo
Internet image of año viejo
Internet image of burning año viejos in Guayaquil

Quick update on everything....

Familia Leon – let’s just say are an INCREDIBLE family.  And with that comes much opposition. They were not able to get married this week, but we are hoping to set a date tomorrow, for Monday or Tuesday next week, so they can finally get baptized.  We asked Domenica if she was excited for her baptism and she bluntly said, “Well of course, I have been for about 3 weeks now!”  HAHA.  Satan just doesn’t want for them to get married.  But like Elder Jeffery R Holland said, “I testify that bad days come to an end, that faith always triumphs, and that heavenly promises are always kept.”  

As missionaries, along with the Leon Family, we have been through a trail of our faith, and our patience with this experience.  We know that getting married and baptized is what Heavenly Father wants for Familia Leon, and that this heavenly promise will be kept the next week! 

Daniela won’t be able to be baptized this week either because she is traveling to Quevedo, which is about 4 hours from where we live, to give gifts to children there in need.  ADORABLE right?!  We are a little bummed that she won’t be back in time for a baptism service this Saturday night.  But the bright side is that by waiting until next week, all the members will be back from the beach to support her, AND she will have served many children in need.  She is so excited to follow her Savior.

Enrique is helping with Familia Jara.  Wendy’s dad is in the hospital for a heart condition, and so we haven’t seen them all week.  Please keep them in your prayers as well. 

We have learned this week that along with much joy and happiness comes MUCH opposition.  We are beyond anxious, and some days striving SO hard to be patient for the promises to be fulfilled.  But, we have felt the LOVE of our Heavenly father this week like none other and we know with a surety that the BLESSINGS WILL COME.  There is One "who is smiling on high" and soon enough, HIS smile will become even bigger. 

I LOVE you all so much!  Thank you, thank you, thank you all for the love and the support. 

Until Monday ;) 

Hermana Bartholomew