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  

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