Monday, March 30, 2015


March 30, 2015

Let’s just say I am still in love with BUENA FE!!!  

Can you all believe that I have been gone for 13 months now?!?!  WHAT?!  I sure can’t.  On the day of my 13 month anniversary we had a "ROMANTIC" daily planning session because ALL the lights went out in the city of BUENA FE.  The best part was that I was finally able to use the flashlight that was on the list of things to bring on the mish!  The room was also enlightened by a few candles that we found in the house.  HAHA it was great!  

So a quick recap on Mabel and Familia Romero before we get to all the spiritual stuff. ;)  Even with all of the miracles that happened last week, they do not cease.  Unfortunately, Mabel is now separated from what was going to be her “soon-to-be husband”.  Turns out that there were many problems in their relationship, including that he has always worked so far away, and he began drinking, and he is now involved in drugs, and he said MANY, MANY rude things to Mabel that made her realize that he wasn’t her happily ever after. 

The bright side is that now we don’t have to worry about Mabel getting married before her baptism on April 11th!  She is SO excited for her baptism and is always sad when the time comes for us to leave for another appointment, because she is SO anxious to learn.
Familia Romero on the other hand are happy as ever, and still need to get married.  So we went exploring on Friday and found a Notary Office and a Dr. Lara who happens to be an ex-mission president from the Quito Mission about 5 years ago.  Let’s just say he saved us SO much time and money.  When we arrived at the office, it was like in the movies when they show a newspaper or magazine office.  You know, when there are lots of people running around, papers are flying all over the place, and everyone wants to be attended to because they have people to see and places to be.  That is exactly what it was like. 

But since we are missionaries, and Dr Lara (aka Presidente Lara) has a soft spot for the missionaries, we were attended to right away (we were still there for three hours, but that is half the time that it would have taken).  Andreina and Jairo had to give a declaration that they both have children from another conpromiso.  AND it was half the cost!!!   Save money, live the law of chastity - this is not something you can buy at Walmart folks (hopefully you all got that - it is my updated missionary version to the catchy phrase “Save money, Live better, Walmart” haha :))  Andreina and Jairo are going to the Rejistro Civil [Civil Register] on Wednesday to pick their wedding day for next week!  Stay tuned for more details. :) 

I almost forgot, HAPPY (late) Palm Sunday everyone!!  I was super confused when we left church on Sunday and everyone in the streets had a bundle of flowers and palm leaves cradled in their arms.   Then it hit me…“And many spread their garments in the way, and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord:  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

I imagine that some of those who welcomed and received the Savior on that day long ago may not have had much money or worldly status but gave a sacrifice of what they did have.  Whether it was garments or tree branches, it all was for HIM.  Sacrificing everything for HIM and celebrating the LIFE of Jesus Christ was manifest in the perfect way this past Saturday as the members of the Quevedo North Stake all woke up at 2 in the morning to travel 4 hours by bus to Guayaquil to the beautiful temple to perform ordinances for the dead in the House of the Lord. 

As I was struggling to stay awake in the bus ride (because I was just a little tired) I thought...I have lived in Utah my entire life.  One of my great blessings back home is that there are SO many temples near my house.  In fact, my problem wasn’t getting to the temple, it was in choosing which of the many temples I would like to attend that day.  And back home, when I did enter, sadly sometimes I was one of the few who had come to feel of the Spirit and worship in the House of the Lord that day.
Santidad al Señor, La Casa del Señor

On Saturday morning I saw HUNDREDS of people, literally HUNDREDS of people, who were crowded inside the entrance of the temple waiting to show their temple recommends to enter into that holy House of the Lord, indeed into His presence.  Some came from Quito, others from Quevedo and others all the way from Peru.  (Even the Hermanas from my old sector in Primavera were there and the quiet reverence may have been broken a bit in the temple as they all came up to me and we exchanged big hugs.)

All of these people sacrificed in one way or another the time and money to COME to the temple.  Reflecting on this Easter season, because Jesus Christ lives, all of these wonderful people could help others who do not have a body receive saving ordinances.  They were literally giving their ancestors the opportunity to one day have the chance to enter into the presence of God and live with Him and their families forever.  As I participated in the temple work that day I truly felt that there was a celebration in the Heavens as many came into the fold. 

We left the temple at 3 pm and the buses arrived back at the stake center in Quevedo at 7 pm - just in time to watch the General Women’s Conference that was broadcast from Salt Lake City.  The meeting was the greatest, and I may or may not have cried during President Eyring’s talk.  I felt the infinite love and compassion of my Savior as I listened to his talk, and realized again the important role that I have been given in serving as a representative of Jesus Christ. 

While serving these past 13 months as HIS representative, I have come to KNOW him.  I have come to LOVE everyone I meet here in Ecuador as HE would, to comfort them as HE would, and strengthen them as HE would.  Before I came here to Buena Fe, I promised Heavenly Father that I would LISTEN to those I was teaching during the lessons more than I would speak, that I may know how to truly help them.  The Comforter ALWAYS comes as I invite people to let not their hearts be troubled, neither be afraid.  Our message is essentially this… 

“If you reach out, call out, cry out – HE IS HERE.  Then, now, always – HE IS HERE.  During the good, the bad, and the in-between – HE IS HERE.  No matter who you are, or who you were, if you seek him, HE IS HERE.  No exceptions, no lost causes.  At all times and in all places – HE IS HERE.”  I know that He lives and that he came to the world to do the will of the Father.  I am here to become like HIM, so I too, came to do the will of MY Heavenly Father.  I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father so much.  

I love you all too, and hope that you have a Rejoicing Evermore week as you get ready to listen to the testimonies of HIS apostles and prophet this coming weekend in General Conference.


Hermana Bartholomew 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Lord will bring about His Miracles

March 23, 2015

“In his own time, and in his own way, the Lord will bring about his miracles.”

Another week has passed, WHAT?!?!

Well let’s just say that I am IN LOVE with Buena Fe and everyone in it!!!  I truly feel the love of our Savior for them and I just want to hug everyone once I meet them...well girls only of course!  Here they call it “the Hermana Bartolomé hug.”  When the time comes to leave this area it will be called “the hug that Hermana Bartolomè gave me, and she almost squeezed me to death!" ;) 

He was flirting up a storm with my comp.  Haha parrots!

BLAH-CUT and BartholoME-OW

Last week I introduced you to Andreina and Jairo.  Familia Romero are seriously THE greatest.  We assigned them to read in the Book of Mormon from 3 nefi 11, just until the end of the chapter, but they loved it so much that during the week they kept reading and have read all the way to Ether chapter 3.  They will probably finish reading the entire Book of Mormon before they even get baptized.  This week we made a Baptism Plan with them - a calendar that shows when we are going to teach them, activities in the ward, General Conference, etc.  (It is so weird to think that a year ago I was in the CCM in Mexico City watching General Conference the weekend before coming to Ecuador...sniffle sniffle.)  

We also planned on this Wednesday to go and talk to the notary `peeps to see how much money it is to get married and WHEN.  Pray for Team BLAH-CUT and Bartolomè that we can soften the hearts of lawyers and the people in the government marriage office. 

This past weekend we had stake conference and we had a special meeting with the Stake President and President Riggins with all those who were recently baptized or who are investigators, and they all LOVED it.  Afterwards the stake had stacks of Liahona magazines from the past year available for everyone that wanted them.  All of these recent converts and investigators definitely took one from each month.  They were all like kids on Christmas morning with the pile of Liahonas. 

OH and I forgot to tell you, Andreina and Jairo work at a banana plantation where they send bananas to ALL different parts of the world.  Jairo does all the heavy lifting of picking bananas off the trees and sending them on the cart, and then Andreina puts the little stickers on the bananas that say FROM ECUADOR.  They gave me SO many stickers, each one is different depending on where in the world the banana is being sent.  Next time you are eating a banana look at the little sticker and just know that our investigadores made it possible for that lovely fruit to be in your hands. ;)  . 

I don’t think I told you all about Mabel Bermeo?! No?!  Tranquilos, les explicarè. [Relax, I will explain it to you]  Mabel is the most eager investigator I have ever had, which I love.  She always has a question about what we are teaching, not in the matter of doubting but of wanting to know more.  She has 2 kids; Leonardo is 5 years old and Domenica is 1.  She really wants to get married and her fiancé does as well, but sadly he is hardly ever home because he is always working.

The first time we met Mabel she expressed concern for her daughter Domenica, who now has been sick for a month with a cough, sore throat, and fever.  Not wanting to eat is the daily routine for poor Domenica and the medicines that the doctor has prescribed are too expensive for their budget (she was also diagnosed with anemia).   Long story short, Mabel was never able to attend church because her daughter always woke up on Sunday mornings with a fever. :(  

One day we felt impressed to share the following scripture with her from the Book of Mormon...

For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith….Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after.” Ether 12:12,16

We promised Mabel exactly what it says in this verse.  Miracles exist today, IF we have faith.  We told her that IF she would come to church on Sunday, her daughter would get well.  After making her this promise, I could see that something was troubling her and she looked like she was on the verge of tears, so I asked if she felt alone.  She just looked at us and started to cry as she expressed how hard it was to practically be a single mom with her daughter SUPER sick, etc. 

I love being a representative of Jesus Christ.  In that moment I had the privilege of bearing testimony to Mabel that we should never feel alone.  God is always with us.  We then invited her to kneel in prayer with us.  With tears in her eyes, she said a beautiful prayer and pleaded with ALL her heart that her daughter would get better.  She added at the end, “if it be your will.”  An Apostle once said something to the effect that faith is real, and there is nothing more powerful than the prayer of a faithful mother, pleading for her children.  

Our ward mission leader, Brother Loor, who had accompanied us to our lesson, offered to give Domenica a priesthood blessing and also give Mabel a blessing of comfort.  Domenica started screaming and crying when Hermano Loor pulled out the consecrated oil to anoint her head.  She thought it was a needle, and from the sound of her screams she really doesn’t like needles.  But after she realized it was just a little oil on her head, she smiled and sat on her mom’s lap quietly during the blessing.  The spirit was SO strong, and we each received the confirmation that Domenica will be ok. 

Afterwards Mabel thanked us with empanadas and some herbal tea.  At that moment, the beginning of the miracle was manifest when Domenica smiled for the first time in weeks and ate a whole empanada and wanted another.  Mabel was SO grateful and overwhelmed that her daughter had been healed.  She had witnessed a miracle.

On Sunday, Hermana Blacutt and I also witnessed a miracle.  As we were on our way to the church, Mabel called us asking where we were, telling us we were going to be late to church.  She LOVED church, but was super bummed when she couldn’t take the sacrament because it was Stake Conference and not a normal sacrament meeting.  She also stocked up on Liahonas and is very anxious to attend church again next week! 

Family I know with all my heart that...“In HIS own time, and in HIS own way, the Lord will bring about his miracles.”  

Jesus was once approached by a man with a son who had been sick since childhood (with an evil spirit possessing him).  The man said to Jesus, “if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us and help us.”  Jesus said to the man, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” With tears, the man cried out in reply, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” 

There are BIG miracles and small miracles, but they all depend on our FAITH and they all come from HIM.  If you ever think your faith is too insignificant to receive a miracle in your life, start by letting the desire work in you, so you can ASK for Him to help you believe.  Miracles will never cease because the heavens are open to all those who believe. 

May we all recognize the miracles in our lives. 

I love you all SO much, have a miraculous week! 

Hermana Bartholomew

P.S. Yes, this week I made the best brownies that Ecuador has ever seen.  The brownie mix was gluten free, but the Elders thought they tasted even better than regular.  The Elders were seriously SO HAPPY to eat something from the States.  Thanks Mom! :)

Yes - the BEST brownies EVER
Brownies and Ice Cream!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Promised Land

March 16, 2015

Hello, hello FAMILIA!!!  

Can I just tell you all how much I LOVE Buena FE?!?!  Well I love it a lot.  The other missionaries would always tell me...just wait until you go to Quevedo or Buena Fe, it’s literally the PROMISED LAND!  It’s SO true.  Buena FE is the Promised Land...and the field here IS white, and all ready to harvest my friends! ;)

Hna Blacutt y Hna Bartholomè 
Went up the hill
 To teach the people the gospel... 
and THEY haven't "fell" down...yet! 

So going from Primavera in Duran to here is SOOO different…

1. It is COLDER here as we are closer to Quito and the mountains.  I was freezing in the church building on Sunday and they don’t even have air conditioning, just good old fashioned ceiling fans.  But I was still cold.  But don't worry, I still sweat every second of my life...it is just a little less sweat! [The temperature in Quevedo is about 5-10 degrees cooler than Guayaquil, so the low to mid- 80's instead of high 80's to 90.]
Heading off for lunch to eat RICE!  Lunch without rice just wouldn't be lunch here in Ecuador.
Using my jacket for the first time on my mission :)

2. In the gated communities of Primavera it was prohibited to talk with people randomly in the streets, but now it is ALL free game.  I have never talked so much in my mission (at least not since Babahoyo).  We had a goal as a zone for everyone to contact and schedule another visit with 10 people per day and....drum roll please we contacted SEVENTY- ONE people.  Overachievers, right?! ;)  Also, we now have 15 families that we are teaching and almost ALL of them need to get married first...la moda es "unidos no mas" aqui jaja.  After my experience with Familia Leon, I am pretty sure I can recite all the requirements for a couple getting married now!  Wedding bells are in the AIR! 

3. I went from a ward with anywhere from 300 to 400 members attending church to only 97!!!  HUGE difference, but from all the loving, strong hugs I received on Sunday, I am excited to work with the beautiful people here!

4. I went from training Hna Vilchez to being with my adorable companion Hermana Blacutt...it sounds a lot different in English but I like to call her "BLAH-CUT!"  She is from Bolivia…sorry last week I had no idea that La Paz was the capital of Bolivia (obviously I have been out of school for a while). ;)  Let me just say that Bolivianos are TINY TINY TINY people, and so are the people here in Buena Fe.  So I know it may sound strange, but Hna Bartholomew is TALL here.  Anyways my compi has 16 months in the mission and we are thinking that I will be her last companion.  

My adorable new companion, Hermana Blacutt

OK, I have SO many amazing stories this week but I will stick with just one for now...

There once was a girl named Andreina.  She lived in front of the Mormon Church for basically all of her life.  She loved listening to the missionaries and wanted to be baptized, but sadly her mother would not allow it.  Her mother didn’t even allow for Andreina to attend church.  But the intelligent little girl that she was, she KNEW that the church was true and so every Sunday at 9 am, she would sneak out of the house while her mom was making breakfast to stand in the doorway and at least listen to the talks being given.  But sadly she knew she could never be baptized and become a member of the church without her mother’s permission.  As she grew older she slowly found other things to do at 9 in the morning on Sunday.  But she always knew whenever she saw the missionaries that their church was true. 

And, once there was a boy named Jairo who was walking down the street one day and found a book on the sidewalk that just happened to be blue with an invitation inside that said, “Do you want to be a Mormon too?!”  Well, he stole the book (the missionaries hadn’t taught him yet about the commandment that says, “thou shalt not steal”), and he loved what it said about Christ, so he kept it for a really long time. 

Andreina was married and had 2 kids.  So too, Jairo was married and had 2 kids.  But neither one of them was meant to have their love last forever, so Andreina was divorced and so was Jairo.  One day Andreina and Jairo met and it was love at first sight…and now they are waiting to save enough money so they can be MARRIED!

The Sunday before Hna Bartholomew came to Buena Fe, Andreina and Jairo, along with Andreina’s sisters found the Mormon Church, and they remembered that they had felt it was true long ago.  So they entered the building.  After all 3 hours of meetings were over, they left having accepted a baptismal date for the 11th of April.  After Andreina and Jairo get married, go to church a few more times, and are baptized...they will endure to the end and live happily ever after! 

I absolutely LOVE this family.  They are FULL of the light of Christ and have always wanted to find HIS church.  

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.”

I love my Savior and I trust in HIM!  I am loving my experiences here in Ecuador that are shaping me to become more like Him.  I’ve got a long way to go...pero [but] HERE WE GO!!! 

I Love you all SO much! Have a happy week! 

Hermana Bartholomew 

P.S.  The world keeps getting smaller.  One of the new sister missionaries is from Springville (Hermana Bowles), and she is good friends with the White family!!!  She is best friends with Addie’s sister, and we are now planning to room together at Utah State when she gets back!  

Hermana Bowles from Springville

And finally...some pictures!

My two favorite ladies in the Leadership Council
L - Hermana McKee; R Hermana Te'o

P-day with my old Zone in Duran

Hermana Green (Verde)
Everyone says we look like twins.
Hoping to be companions one day!

Monday, March 9, 2015


March 9, 2015

What have I learned from being on the mish?!?!  That Familias are eternal but COMPANIONSHIPS are not. :(  TUVE CAMBIOS!!!!!!! [I was transferred]

I absolutely loved every second that I had in Duran, and my sector Primavera and will miss everyone DEARLY!  Sunday night we were visiting Familia Jara, and when it came my turn to share my testimony I just looked at all of them and the Spirit told me...Hey President just moved your picture to another sector...NOOO!!!  Let’s just say my companion was confused at why I was crying, and she told me repeatedly, right up until midnight that I wasn’t leaving.  That was until the zone leaders called me and said that it was true...CAMBIOS! 

And for some reason I just knew I was going to QUEVEDO!!!  PILAS!!  I was right!  With a long bus ride, I am now 3+ hours away from Guayaquil and in CHINA TOWN (apparently there are a lot of Chinese people here…haven’t seen one yet though.  I’ll keep you posted;))  So my new area is actually 30 minutes from the center of Quevedo in a little town called BUENA FE, which means GOOD FAITH (many of the names of the cities here in Ecuador are actually faith-based, and spiritually strengthening...if you are looking for a miracle go to MILAGRO! haha)

Quevedo, Ecuador

Buena Fe, Ecuador

Buena Fe, Ecuador

As sad as I am to leave all of my dear friends in Duran, I am beyond excited for this new sector.  Oh, and how could I forget about my new companion, Hermana Blacutt from La Paz (no clue where that is exactly).  She has only had 3 weeks here, so let’s just say we are both pretty new!  She is adorable and I am excited to have her as my companion.  (Dad don’t kill me, but we don’t have any pictures together that I can send you yet...but don’t worry they will come the next week!)

Going Away Party for our Zone Leader, Elder Cuberos from Columbia who finished his mission

Hemana Vilchez, Hna B, Elder Cuberos, Elder Sink

Saying goodbye to mi hijita - Hermana Vilchez

So I apologize for not writing much the last two weeks, but they were nuts!  Two weeks ago I was starting to write and then the Assistants to the President called and asked how I was, and how my p-day was going?  I just kept thinking how weird it was that they were calling us...so then I thought maybe they were calling to tell me I had cambios.  Then Elder Bench tells me that he has some good news...he said, “Presidente tiene mucho confianza en usted hermana y quiere llamarle como la nueva lideresa” [President has a lot of confidence in you Hermana and he wants to call you as the new lideresa]. 

My reaction was a little bit of a nervous squeal sound that meant I didn’t quite know what to say.  Elder Bench said, “Wow Hermana, que animo en so voz [what excitement in your voice].  I told him, “Sorry I just don’t know what to say.  He reassured me that I would do well.  I am super excited but yet nervous at the same time. 

Last week on Tuesday I attended my first Consejo de Líderes [Leaders Council] with President & Hermana Riggins and all of the zone leaders and Hermana training leaders in the mission.  All of the new leaders had to share their testimonies…it was nerve wracking!!!!  

Ecuador, Guayaquil Norte Leaders Council
March 3, 2015

We have a Consejo [Council] each month and it is basically ALL day long.  On that day my companion goes to another sector with the compañera of another lideresa…hope that made sense.  

I will have an intercambio [exchange] (which is for 24 hours so we have sleepovers now!) each week with the Hermanas and help them in their sector and see how they are working.  I also receive their numbers from the week and provide encouragement and support.  I have had lots of ideas that came to my mind this week to try and help the others in their sector as well.  

With my cambio today, my responsibility will now shift to the Hermanas here in the Quevedo area of the mission.  I know with all my heart that I will love this area. This is sad to say, and even more awful to think about, but this may be my last area on my mission if the 5-6 months-in-one-area streak I have going continues, haha. 

Well family, I know that this is our Heavenly Father’s work and He has a profound personal interest in it.  I have GOOD FAITH here in BUENA FE that our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ guide this work and qualify those who are called to serve. 

I love and adore you all!  You are all the greatest!

Hermana Bartholomew signing off…a little sad, but SUPER pumped to start working in this new area. :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Power to Trust

March 2, 2015

This is going to be so short but just know it is sent with MUCH love! 

Let’s just say I LOVE being a missionary!!  We found so many GOLDEN families this week, I know that the Lord is at the head of His work! 

Mi hijita [my companion] has grown up SO fast!!!  She is going to bless so many people with her sweet testimony...proud mommy moment. ;)  I love, love, love this sector and I REALLY hope that I don’t have cambios [transfers] this next week!  Let’s all pray that I won’t!  YA?!  Thanks :) 

Mom, congrats!  You made the weekly letter with the song lyrics you sent me! 

I am just one girl
Seeking for greater light,
But I feel so alone
In the darkened night,
The strong wind blows
I am tossed again.
So I search to understand,
These feelings deep within.

The people who surround me
Believe this book can tell me how,
So I open and read along
This causes me to bow.
I fall to my knees,
Plead to God above,
Peace fills my heart and in my mind
I hear His voice of love.

My daughter, I am here beside you
You are my crowning glory,
My love, my masterpiece.
I have seen your struggles and I know your heart.
Learn of me, lean on me,
Come to me through everything
I will support you always.
It’s up to you to choose my way.
That, my child, is the Power to Trust!

I walk a straighter path
I have the strength to go.
He is my life, my light, my way,
This forever I will know.
I’m a daughter of a king.
In His words I’ll rejoice
If I choose to turn to Him
I know I’ll hear His voice

I’m a daughter of a King,
In His words I’ll rejoice.
It’s up to me to choose His way. 
I know, that I have the Power to Trust

I have learned to TRUST in my Heavenly Father and his perfect plan for me!

Con mucho amor, 
Hermana Bartholomew