Monday, April 27, 2015

Flying by in Happiness

April 27, 2015

Well this week just FLEW by.  And let’s be honest, the MISSION is just FLYING and FLYING and FLYING by too.  

Speaking of flying, this week we were in a member’s home.  You know, the classic home constructed from blocks of cement plastered together and a tin roof that exaggerates sound when it rains.  I don’t know if you have all had the opportunity to be in a cement home, but I have entered into MANY and they keep all the heat IN!  So many of the homes here have a fancy design with holes above the doors and windows, along with air space between the walls of the house and the roof in order to help the air circulate throughout the house. 

Well, so when we entered Hna Johanna´s home this week, she began to immediately complain about 4 pigeons that always enter through the holes of the house and poop on the beds.  How lovely.  She had put blankets, newspaper, t-shirts, basically whatever she could find to BLOCK the holes and prevent the birds from getting in.  BUT they still found their way into her house. 

During our lesson, we had a little commercial break to try and shew the pigeons out of the house.  As you all know, I am not tall and my companion is even shorter, so we used the brooms and some giant pvc pipes that Johanna had in her home to try and whack the pigeons out the door.  Problem was, we didn’t know that they were HER pigeons!  Turns out that these birds have a happy little home in the backyard, but when it is dark outside they like to come in because there is light.  My compi and I thought they were just some old wild pigeons flying around getting into people’s homes.  We truly were trying to WHACK them out of the house.  HAHA  

I guess that I accidently “guided” one of the birds pretty hard because afterwards it fell straight to the ground and behind the fridge.  I screamed, “NO! LO MATÉ!!!”  (Oh no! I KILLED IT!!!)  I really honestly thought I did.  But then Johanna ran to the fridge and was able to grab the pigeon and put it in a cage where it appeared to come back to life.  I am not sure how we got the others to finally fly out, but I am sure it was a sight to see 3 short little ladies running around the house in circles with brooms and pipes.  Johanna said that she will never forget the experience we had.  HAHAHA and neither will I!  I have no clue why, but I seem to always have animal stories.  Maybe one day I will be a farmer - with a BIG pig, chickens that cross the road, and I’ll be able to give pigeon herding lessons.  ;) 

Familia Romero were confirmed this Sunday during Sacrament Meeting and they were proudly wearing their Spanish CTR rings (thanks mom or dad, whoever’s idea it was!).  Their coming week is FULLY scheduled for FHE with the members of the ward.  Also, Andreina has an assignment now that every Sunday she will assign the opening prayer and music for the Relief Society class and write it up on the board.  She is thrilled.  Jairon has also been given an assignment to be in charge of counting the asistence [attendance] of the members of the Elderes Quorum and I believe that he will also lead the music before they separate into the different classes.  

We haven’t heard anything from Mabel in over a week, but we have hope that she will come back soon! 

This week, most of our efforts focused on strengthening the members here and asking for REFERENCES!!  This coming week, we have plans to contact the families who have been referred to us.  It will be a week FULL of FHE!!!  WOOT! WOOT!  I am even teaching a family how to make pancakes tomorrow. ;)  TOO bad it won’t be the same as the famous Bartholomew sourdough pancakes and waffles. 

GREAT NEWS!!! MI HIJITA [Hermana Vilchez] is here in Quevedo with me!!!  So of the Hermanas that I am in charge of, 2 of them had transfers last week and one went home for health reasons.  When I called on Tuesday to see who the new Hermanas were, I said..."Hola Hermana, I’m Hermana Bartholomew, who is this?..."  All I heard was a GASP and she said..."HI MOM!"  I freaked my freak and almost cried from happiness.  Even though we aren’t companions I still have the chance to see her every other week!  WAHOO! :)  We saw each other today at SHOPPING (that’s what they call the tiny little mall here) and we hugged and laughed and hugged some more.  She is just the greatest and I love her! 

What did I learn this week?  I learned that I love being happy.  Being sad sucks.   But “how can we know the way” to happiness?  Elder Jeffrey Holland spoke of the eternally applicable answer Jesus gave to this question when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do...if ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”  

What an absolutely breathtaking promise from almighty God!  He is saying live my way, live my truth, live my life.  Live in this manner that I am showing you and teaching you and whatsoever you ask will be given you.  Whatsoever you seek you will find…INCLUDING HAPPINESS.  The blessings of happiness “may come soon, or later and others may not come until heaven, BUT IT WILL COME.  We are all here on the QUEST to find happiness.”  Adam fell that men might be, and MEN ARE THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE JOY!  

We are here to have JOY!  It’s true, isn’t it?  Then what else really matters?  If we FOLLOW Christ, he PROMISES us that happiness!  “The only way to truly be happy is to LIVE the gospel of Jesus Christ!” - that was once said to me by my dear old dad! 

Be it. 
Look for it.

Have a HAPPY week!  
Con mucho AMOR, 
Hermana Bartholomew  

Monday, April 20, 2015

ASK and Ye SHALL Receive

April 20, 2015

HELLO one and ALL! 

Conclusions from this week...ASK and ye SHALL receive, and The Church is TRUE!  But we will get to that in just a moment.  After all, everyone needs a little suspense in their lives. ;) 

Why did the chicken cross the road? 

There are many answers to this question, and DAILY here in Buena Fe I see at least one chicken cross the road.  HAHA, but really.  So the other day as I observed one crossing the road, I asked my companion..."Why did the chicken cross the road?"  She DIED laughing...she thinks I’m funny.  Well, just then a good old car came rushing down the road, and EVERYONE on the street started yelling at the chicken to move out of the way or it would die.  I think there was a genuine concern for the chicken amongst the people.  Well, it turns out this chicken understood our concern and started flying, but in the same direction the car was going so it was just a race to see who was faster.  I am no physics major but I think the car would win.  In the end, the chicken´s tail was severed by the front of the car and it was ALMOST just sucked right into the grill.  But don’t worry, no chickens were actually harmed that day.  

MABEL came back home!!!  It was just for one day, but we were beyond excited to see her.  She and her boyfriend want to get married NOW, but his company laid him off for 2 weeks, so they are hoping to find a new job here in Buena Fe.  Mabel started reading the Book of Mormon with him and she has basically become his personal missionary.  She has taught him and also her “in-laws” all about the gospel and who the MORMONS truly are.  So we are hoping and praying that all will end well with his new job and that they will be married soon!! 

Speaking of marriage...Cha CHUN CHUN CHUN (imagine the sound of wedding bells playing the tune, “Here comes the Bride”) FAMILIA ROMERO were finally married last Friday (and they sealed it with a kiss)!!!  Friday morning my companion and I were the wedding crew.  We did everything from makeup, to hair (straightening hair does not seem like a difficult task, but with this humidity IT IS), drying tears, matching shoes, baking a cake...the whole shabang!  Of course we loved every second of it. :D   

The happy couple and their witnesses
Hna Bartholomew, Jairon, Andreina, Hna Blacutt

You may now kiss the bride!

Familia Romero - the most adorable family!
The wedding ceremony itself was perfectly short and sweet and they were SO happy.  Afterwards they were immediately buzzing about their upcoming baptism the next day!  

Saturday evening came and we were setting everything up with the Elders (they also had a couple getting baptized so we combined their baptismal service with ours).  While we were filling out the agenda, Andreina and Jairon walked in with their faces GLOWING, all dressed up – Jairon even had on a white dress shirt and tie!  Then, just as we handed them their white baptism clothing so they could go change...BOOM!!!!!! The lights went out.  Yes.  The power went out in ALL of Buena Fe. 

Jairon and Andreina looked so bummed, thinking that they would have to wait another week if the power didn’t come back on.  I immediately felt the impression that we needed to say a prayer.  The entire week we had sent text messages to the members (I actually felt like we were in Newsies sending news to all the world...BAPTISM! BAPTISM! Come and join us!), and they had come out in force to support Jairon and Andreina for their baptism.  Using just the light from the shining screen of our tiny cell phone, we gathered AT LEAST a hundred people into the parking lot so we could offer a prayer. 

Elder Fernandez, from Chile, was chosen to say the prayer and it went something like this (from what I can remember because while he was praying I was also saying my own personal prayer pleading with our Heavenly Father)...

Our Dear Heavenly Father,

We need thy help.

4 of thy children are here today, ready to enter into the waters of baptism.

They are worthy and prepared to do so. 

You know that we do not have any light, but we want them to enter into YOUR light.  

We plead with thee that with thy power, that the power will come back on. 

All these things we pray for, asking humbly if that it is thy will,

In the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN. 

The crowd repeated, “AMEN” and timidly opened their eyes to see if the prayer had truly worked.  Everyone could not help but open their mouths and GASP in unison because after we had all said “AMEN”, the power IMMEDIATLEY came back on.  However, we noticed something peculiar - the lights on the streets were not the first to flicker on, but rather the lights inside of the CHURCH were illuminated first. 

We all stood there in silence, not knowing what to say, when my favorite little primary-aged girl from the ward innocently said, “IT WORKED! IT WORKED! HE HEARD OUR PRAYER!”  

My favorite little friend stuck with me while we were without light
Yes, HE did hear our prayer!  My eyes filled with tears as I recognized that I had just witnessed a true miracle from our Heavenly Father.  Peace filled my heart, and I KNEW that God absolutely knows us, and answers our prayers.  I will never forget that moment, EVER EVER EVER!  

I wish to exclaim this to ALL the world, that God hears our prayers.  

Once Jairon and Andreina were baptized, they both couldn’t help but shed a few tears as they knew that GOD knows them.  He had stepped in with a miracle for them.  They expressed their joy that evening in knowing that they were now CLEAN.  They had entered the water of baptism - willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, and obey the commandments.  They knew that GOD had also completed his part – and that they were CLEAN.  

After the baptism - celebrating with some of their many new friends

As new converts they needed to wait until Sunday during Sacrament Meeting to be confirmed and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  But Jairon and Andreina came a little late yesterday to church because they had stopped on their way to share this happiness with one of their best friends.  And, as luck would have it, the talks went really long in Sacrament Meeting, so there wasn’t enough time for their confirmation.  They will have to wait until this coming Sunday, but they are SO excited!  They are also already counting down the days until they can be sealed in the temple!  HAHA they are the cutest! 

AHH, I can’t get over that miracle that I witnessed.  ASK and ye SHALL receive!! And then REJOICE EVERMORE. 


Hermana Bartholomew 

Just in case you have forgotten how much rice we eat! ;)

Monday, April 13, 2015


April 13, 2015

HOLA my dear FAMILY!!!!!  

I have some GREAT news for you all....as of right now I don’t have any parasites or squeamish stomach problems from the discolored water and rice that landed in my mouth last week.  It’s hard to keep my mouth shut though as we are walking down the street, when I need to open my mouth to share the gospel CON TODOS [with everyone]! 

OK, so ANOTHER funny story...the other day we were teaching a new family that we had met, Familia Mendoza.  Two of their daughters are members of the church and the other daughter says that she is "SUPER catholic" but never attends church, haha crazy girl.  So before the lesson started they complemented me on my Spanish and told me that I sound like I am from Ecuador.  Haha, it’s not true but it was a nice complement. 

THEN we started teaching them about the restoration and the Catholic daughter Eva asked us in what part of the Bible it talks about Joseph Smith...so we showed her.  But she wasn’t too impressed by the scripture we shared, so I decided to ask her “where in the bible does it talk about THE POPE?!”  PILAS.  Good question right?!  Because as far as I know, the bible doesn’t mention the word POPE. 

So in Spanish, the word for Pope is “El Papa” but if you put a “la” in front of “papa” or say “la papa,” it means “the potato” which happens to be something VERY different. :)  Well I guess I was just SO excited to use that question that I said "Where in the Bible does it talk about "LA PAPA"?  A few...well many...BAHAHA`s entered the room, until I finally realized, NO!!!  I meant EL PAPA!!  For a moment in my mind I said it correctly because it ends in A which usually means it is feminine and would be preceded by “la”...but nope, it’s a man so OBVIOUSLY it is EL PAPA.  JAJA it’s all good, just another reminder that I am not perfect! 

Well it took a while to calm the laughter so we could continue teaching, but Eva was able to see that it truly just makes sense that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that today there are prophets and apostles.  Let’s just say that she accepted our challenge to read the Book of Mormon and we left them laughing! ;)  

This past week was FULL of traveling for me.  Last Monday after writing you, we embarked on the 4 hour bus ride to Guayaquil at 5:30pm and I hadn’t eaten anything all day.  So for you mathematicians out there I was finally able to eat when we arrived in the terminal at 9:30pm and had a hamburger (of course without the bun #glutenprobs) and fries...very healthy huh!

The next day we got up at 4 AM so that we could be entering the temple at 6.  We had a special session with just the Zone Leaders and Lideresas of the mission!  There was a strong spirit in the temple that morning and afterward the Temple President told us that those people who had passed on, who we had done work for that day, were indeed PRESENT that day in the temple.  The temple is the best place on earth! 

Following the temple we had a spiritually filled Leaders Council with Presidente Riggins that lasted ALL DAY long until 5 PM.  The long meeting was worth it because they gave us ice cream sundaes at the end. ;)  Then we went to help the Hermanas in the sector next to the temple for that night (that is where Hermana Bowles is assigned - the new Sister that knows the White family), because at 8 the next morning I had to renew my VISA.  Then we embarked on the 4 hour journey back to BUENA FE once more, just in time for LUNCH!  We told the lady feeding us that we wanted less rice, so she gave us a smaller plate BUT with the same amount of rice, haha.  Then the next day I had an intercambio [exchange] with the Hermanas in Valencia on Thursday and Friday....needless to say it was a LONG week, but I LOVED it!  

Want to hear the greatest news?!  FAMILIA ROMERO ARE GETTING MARRIED!!  The wedding bells will ring THIS Friday at 11 AM!!  And the grand splash will sound twice as they are baptized the following day! They are BEYOND excited for this weekend, of course we are as well. 

The greatest lesson with Familia Romero this past week was when we shared with them again about the law of chastity and the word of wisdom.  After explaining these principles, Jairo thought that the law of chastity meant that they couldn’t have sexual relations until they were married in the TEMPLE (which can’t happen for them until 1 year after their baptism).  With a very concerned look on his face he said, “But Hermanas, that is a WHOLE YEAR!”  HAHAHA it was hilarious to see the look on his face, and then the relief when we explained that they only needed to wait until after they are married civilly. 

I have come to LOVE this family and can’t wait for this weekend! As President Packer said in this last General Conference (but I will add a little tweak), “Fulfilling the plan of happiness [as a missionary of the church] is to see that a man and a woman, with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity. 

Sadly we haven’t talked much with Mabel this week because she went on vacation with her future husband as he had work off for the week.  So hopefully she comes home soon! 

Maximo is still LO MAXIMO [the best]!  But wasn’t able to attend church this week. :(  

I learned so much this week that I don’t have time to write it all, but I will share one thing.  During my intercambio with Hermana Childs, as she expressed some of her concerns and struggles with missionary life, I was impressed give her a picture of our Savior and have “ONE DAY WITH THE SAVIOR” with her like I did in Babahoyo.  

During that day I was able to experience again, this time with her, that our Savior is ALWAYS THERE.  We saw HIM in every moment that day and everyone we talked with SAW HIM.  The truth is that He is always there, sometimes we just forget...but I KNOW that HE is with us and that I am here because I LOVE Him and my Heavenly Father.

[Click on this link to watch the original Al Fox video called ALWAYS THERE]

I invite you ALL to do the activity, and I promise it will be your best day YET! :) 

I love you ALL! 


Hermana Bartholomew 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Live Like HIS Son

April 6, 2015

Hello lovely family!! I hope you had a wonderful Easter week and that the Easter Bunny visited with a few little treats...but most importantly you had the chance to listen to CONFERENCE and remember the Atonement of our Savior.  It rained SO HARD here on Easter Sunday...the picture doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.

The Easter Sunday downpour in Buena Fe

Well, to start off this week, I have a funny story…Here in Buena Fe the plumbing system is a little different than what you all are incredibly blessed with!  In fact, you can’t even properly call it a plumbing system, it’s more of a PVC pipe system!  Haha.  In every home there are many pipes that run everywhere and carry things outside; for example - from the kitchen sink, drains into the middle of the floor, in the balcony, etc.  So whenever you put something down the drain here, whatever it is, follows down the pipe and outside of the house and drains out into the middle of the sidewalk or road.

Hopefully you can see the PVC pipes coming from the house?

A closer view...
Now because of this, one should ALWAYS be cautious while walking down the sidewalk in Buena Fe.  You don’t want someone’s leftovers that have been shoved down the kitchen sink to be splattered on your head as the new fashionable hat trend. 

Well, one day we were leaving the cyber (internet café) with our zone leaders from printing off invitations we were handing out to people inviting them to come to the church this weekend to view general conference.  About that same time, someone had just finished eating and didn’t finish all their rice (which is very rare :)), and of course flushed it, along with who-knows-what other liquids down the drain, JUST as I walked under it.

It started off as just a few little drops and I simply thought it was starting to rain.  So I looked up to see if my suspicion was true but....NOPE, I was wrong!  And to top it off, the washed-down-the-drain rice didn’t just become my new hat for the day, but I was also blessed to have it land in MY MOUTH! :(  Let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite thing I have eaten here on the mish.  But we all had a good laugh, and I rocked my rice-meshed hat until I got home to clean myself off.  On the way I bought some juice to help my snack go down.  HAHA!  I will now be more careful to stay away from the PVC pipes and will absolutely never look up for rain as I am walking down the sidewalks in town.  

A quick update on our current investigators.  Mabel Bermeo went on vacation all last week because her ex-boyfriend showed up to surprise her and see his daughter.  Like I said last week, we could have predicted it - we knew her ex would come back...they always do.  So now they are back together again and need to get married before she can be baptized.  The problem is that he works in Santo Domingo, which is about 2 hours from here and the soonest he can be here is not this weekend but the next!  So now our plan is that she can be married in 2 weeks and baptized on the 25th of April.  We are super excited for her, and she is BEYOND anxious to get baptized.  We are praying that things will go as planned.

Familia Romero are wonderful as usual, and will be married next week so hopefully they can be baptized on April 18th

In closing I want to tell you about a new investigator.  So we have a lady in the ward here that ALWAYS gives us food - she is like our grandma.  In fact, she feeds EVERYONE, even the stray dog on the street.  EVERYONE is loved by Maura.  Well Maura has a brother named Maximo, which translated into English means “the best!”  Maximo is one of those who eats lunch with Maura every day.  It turns out his name couldn’t have said it better but he really is THE BEST!! 

Seeing that Maura is the grandma of all the missionaries that pass through here, many missionaries have also tried to teach Maximo.  He listens, but has NEVER wanted to go to church.  One day this last week we gave him one of the invitations I told you about earlier for general conference that said, “Come and listen to the Prophet’s voice”, along with a card referencing the church’s Easter campaign on lds.org called #becauseHelives.  The thought of a modern day prophet intrigued Maximo, and the #becauseHelives video intrigued him even more. 

Fast forward to Saturday morning right before the first session of General Conference was beginning.  Maura called us and said that Maximo was waiting outside of the doors of the church, but didn’t know where to go...WHAT?!?!  We got up from where we were sitting and ran outside and were greeted by Maximo who was so excited that he forgot the rules that you can’t hug the missionaries.  HE LOVED CONFERENCE, and was so focused and intent on listening to every talk and even tried to sing the songs in English with the choir!  The time has finally come for Maximo to live up to his name and to make THE BEST decision of his life and come into the fold. 

Well, I need to keep this short as I have to go to Guayaquil now to attend a Liders Conference.  Looking forward to that 4 hour bus ride!! WAHOOO! ;)  

I absolutely LOVED general conference.  Just as the choir sang, “HE sent HIS Son.”  He is the gift #becauseofHim.  As Elder Jeffery Holland said, “He held me. He loved me. He did not let me fall.”  Jesus Christ did the will of His father. HE rose again.  HE LIVES!  After this conference we can ask ourselves, “How will I change?  "What does He ask?  LIVE LIKE HIS SON!" 

May we all become more like HIM!  


Hermana Bartholomew