Monday, May 25, 2015

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

May 25, 2015

OK, so let’s just say I am SO excited for this week.  Why?  Well, one because it is the last week with my companion before she goes home (which isn’t a happy thing at all...I am actually pretty bummed about it), BUT we are going to make this the greatest week that she has ever had on the mission. ;)  We plan to invite everyone and their dog to church and there will be people accepting baptismal dates all over the place. ;)  We are pretty pumped.  And, two because this week Genesis and Milton will be MARRIED and BAPTIZED.

So I think I explained this, that Milton is a taxi driver in Quevedo and he only has 1 Sunday of the month where he doesn’t have to work? No?  Well if I didn’t tell you before, now you know!  So we wanted for Milton to have the chance to attend church AT LEAST for 1 hour of sacrament meeting this week before his baptism.  On Saturday night, we went to their house super excited to tell them of our idea...that he would help us bring all our investigators to church (and this way he would be in Buena Fe) and then we would pick up Genesis and their son and go to church as a one big happy family. 

As we shared our idea, Milton was still a little iffy about it, so we shared with him something taught by Jesus in the scriptures found in the New Testament in Matthew chapter 6, and also in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nefi chapter 13. 

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  BUT seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow.”

WELL our plan worked and Heavenly Father fulfilled his promises.  Milton put FIRST the kingdom of God and did not worry about the money he might lose and how that might affect tomorrow.  He went to church on Sunday for the first hour and then left to drive the streets of Buena Fe.  Later he later told us that before leaving the parking lot of the church he said, “well Heavenly Father let’s see how this goes.”  He received the same amount of money, if not more, compared to the other Sundays he had worked, AND he had received the blessings of attending church.  Next week he says that he will attend all 3 hours. WOOT! WOOT!  

ALSO, this past week we met with Familia Romero and shared with them how proud we are of them and especially how proud our Heavenly Father is - not only for what they have given but also for what they have given up to follow Him.  We then asked them the simple question of who they knew that needed to receive the same blessings.  Well, with the help of my handy dandy post-it-notes they wrote down 22 NAMES of “old drinking buddies” and “best friends” and they said that they even have MORE! WHAT?!?!  That has never ever happened in my mission.  They are so anxious to share this gospel.  This gives you a small glimpse into why I think they are the greatest! ;) 

Well I love you all so much and invite you all to "seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness” and I promise that ALL your needs will be given you.

Con mucho amor, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

(Sorry, no hay fotos este semana.  Se me olvidó mi cable.  Les prometo que tendrán muchos fotos en la próxima semana!)   

[Sorry, there aren’t any pictures this week.  I forgot my cable.  I promise you that there will be many pictures next week!]

Monday, May 18, 2015

Now there are 2!

May 18, 2015

WHERE in the world will she go?! DA DA DA DAAAA! ARGENTINA!!!  I so so SO grateful for the opportunity that I had to see Megs open her call and I couldn’t helped but squeal for excitement when I heard where she will be going.  She will be called HERMANA “B”, Hermana “BARTOLOMÊ”, Hermana BARTOLOMEO”, or whatever you want to call us...and now there are 2! ;)  I am especially excited that after the mission we will be able to talk in Spanish and Mom won’t understand what we are saying! Woot! Woot! (Just joking mom we will translate it for you afterwards) AND she will change so many hearts with her powerful testimony. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe my excitement...BUT truly I am absolutely positively beyond happy for my "little" sis! 

Two Hermana B's

The work of the Lord is continually growing here in Buena Fe.  President Riggins said last week that Buena Fe is about to EXPLODE!  And I have come to know that he is full of inspiration, so we trust that we will see the progress with the 15 families who are investigating and the 21 families we are reactivating in the coming weeks and months! 

Genesis y Milton estàn SUPER animados [Genesis and Milton are SUPER excited] for their baptism, and start the wedding bells once more...they will be married on May 26th!  Like I have said before, Genesis LOVES to learn.  At times, her husband is not present during the lessons because he is at work, but without fail, once he walks in the door she tells him to sit down and gives him a brief summary of everything she has learned.  And she always ends with..."so if we apply this (the principle she just finished explaining), in 1 year we can become an eternal family."  They are the greatest! 

GOOD news!  Do you remember Mabel?  The Mabel that was going to be baptized, but then her ex wanted her back, and she moved back with him to another city?!  Yeah, her.  Well she called and told us that one day she was sitting on the porch patiently waiting for her husband to come home, when she saw 2 men in white shirts and ties walking by.  They stopped and asked her neighbor, "What can we do for you?" The neighbor declined to listen to them, but Mabel shouted out "HEY! I am almost a Mormon!" Haha.  She then explained that she was listening to the "greatest sister missionaries on the planet" (her words not mine) ;) and that she wants to get baptized.  I can only imagine how shocked the missionaries were.  Probably something like I was in Babahoyo when the young girl shouted to Hermana Toledo and I that she wanted to get baptized.  I am so grateful that we planted the seed for Mabel here in Buena Fe and that soon she will be baptized. The church is true my friends! 

Here on the mission I am coming to know who God truly is.  He is the ONLY TRUE GOD, like it says in John 17 verse 3.  I gained a greater knowledge of who He is this week while I was studying the parable of the prodigal son junto [together] with a talk Elder Jeffrey Holland gave called “The Other Prodigal Son”

Our quest in life is to kill the natural man that is within us...we have all sinned and at some point maybe we have felt like the prodigal son did as recorded in Luke chapter 15 verses 20 and 21,

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”

Have you ever said this or something similar before?  Perhaps when your heart was broken and your sprit contrite in prayer with our Heavenly Father?  Have you ever felt unworthy to be called HIS son or daughter?  LISTEN to what the father’s response was...

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the BEST ROBE, and put it on him; and put a RING on his hand, and SHOES on his feet:

And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry...

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

Our Heavenly Father and HIS son saw you and will have compassion and RUN and embrace you.  In his talk, Elder Holland taught,

"Only the Father and His Only Begotten Son can do that. Salvation is in Them only. So we pray that They will help us, that They will “come out” to meet and embrace us and bring us into the feast They have prepared. They will do this!"

This morning I pondered about the items and accessories mentioned in the scripture...the BEST ROBE, a RING and SHOES. 

Our Heavenly Father, in those moments of "I am unworthy to be called thy son or daughter" will clothe us with the ROBES of HIS son.  The BEST ROBE he could ever offer us. 

Elder Holland said, "I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Then I thought of the RING.  In most cultures a ring is a symbol of love and commitment in marriage.  Many say that as missionaries we aren’t really single ladies because we are married to CHRIST.  The truth is, is that when we are baptized we are ALL married to, or better said, become part of the family of Christ.  After our baptism we express our love and commitment to Him by keeping the commandments and continuing the process of changing, repenting and constantly renewing of covenants with Him.   

The SHOES brings to my mind the thought that we may walk in the footsteps of HIS Son and follow His example continually.  And, I will add that they are the GREATEST brand of shoes ;) because they will ENDURE TO THE END.  

I know with ALL my heart that if we come unto our Father in HEAVEN and ask for forgiveness, like the prodigal son, HE will give us THE BEST ROBE, a RING of promise and SHOES.  I also know that HE will, like the scripture says in Spanish, throw a "fiesta" because HIS son or daughter has been found! 

I will forever be grateful for my Heavenly Father that He has given me these things and will continually bless me until the end!

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

Hermana Bartholomew 

Monday, May 11, 2015


May 11, 2015

Hi beautiful family, long time no see! ;)  I feel like I just saw you yesterday...oh wait, I DID!  Skyping was everything AND MORE!  

[Click on this link to watch a small portion of our Mother's Day Skype]

But I guess I will still write you all a little something, just because I love you all THAT much! 

As you all know we found another little family that are BEYOND excited for this month because they will be married and BAPTIZED!  Milton and Genesis and Matias are the greatest and LOVE to pray and sing hymns.  I’ll keep you updated. 

This week as I was traveling back from Guayaquil, we took a taxi from Quevedo to Buena Fe which is about 30 minutes of travel time.  We started to talk to the taxi driver and he expressed how he hasn’t enjoyed the last few years of living here in Quevedo.  We asked him why and he started to explain how work is the worst, and family life isn’t the greatest, and the many others worries of his life.  We asked him, “and through all this time, how have you felt about God?”  He paused and simply said, “I feel like He isn’t there.”

As we testified to this man of the struggles that GOD allows us to have, and why, and invited him to pray THAT night to feel that he TRULY IS THERE...I am pretty sure that Heavenly Father was guiding the car because there is NO way that he could of kept on driving on his own with all the tears in his eyes.  As he quietly let the tears stream down his face, he asked who we were.  We explained that we were sent from God to let him know that HE is aware of him and that his “afflictions will be but a small moment!”  We gave him almost every pamphlet that we had and a picture of Christ.  He thanked us with a warm handshake and called us ANGELS.  Usually the men here call me “angel” just because I am white! haha  BUT this one witnessed that we ARE sent from our Heavenly Father to testify of Him and His Son.  Oh how grateful I am that we were ANGELS for him that day. 

Well as you all know I just LOVE being a missionary!  I’ll see all your lovely faces again soon!  AND I am still freaking out for Megan and her CALL!!!  Where on earth will you GO?! 

I love you all lots and lots! :* 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Monday, May 4, 2015

To The Rescue

May 4, 2015

HAPPY HAPPY Mother’s Day week!  I CAN NOT believe that it is already mother’s day and I get to see your beautiful faces this week!!  Shout out to DAD, and your new calling WOOT! WOOT! ;)  ALSO MEGS!!  I am BEYOND excited for you this week (or maybe the next) and getting your CALLLLLL!!!  The mission is truly the greatest thing on this EARTH! Where on EARTH will you go?!  I have a feeling you’re going to Europe, but it’s just a hunch. ;)  I’ll pray about it this week.  Lots of big changes for the fam bam, but I know that we will be blessed for WALKING WITH HIM and one day we WILL BECOME LIKE HIM.  

One day this week while walking down the rocky road and looking at my surroundings I was prompted to look to my left.  I saw 2 girls sitting on a log and one of them was crying inconsolably.  My heart ached for her and I wanted to comfort her.  I felt what Jesus would have felt for HER.  We gave her a smile and encouraged her that everything would be OK.  That moment probably wasn’t a big impact on this little girl, but it made an impact on me.  There is nothing I love more than to be here on the mission and teaching my brothers and sisters in Ecuador of my Savior and FEELING what HE feels for them.  There is nothing greater! 

TO THE RESCUE was our theme this week as we met about 21 less-active families! Yes, you read that right - 21 families!  Sadly, not all of them attended church yesterday, but 5 of them DID!  AND 2 of them got up and shared their testimonies in Fast & Testimony Meeting.  You could say that our faces were BEAMING! 

Ramiro Alcivar was one of them.  Ramiro would be found in the dictionary under the word SWAG.  He just has SWAG as he walks down the streets and jumps on buses selling pan de yuca (yuca bread with CHEESE filling; it is delicious and gluten free! ;) )  Ramiro was baptized over 10 years ago, but was only active for 4 before he quit going to church.  One day he saw us on the bus and asked, "ELDERAS do you want some bread?!"  We asked him why he called us “Elderas” when really we are “Hermanas”.  He replied, “Because I’m a Mormon too!” 

We instantly became friends with Ramiro and the next day we were able to hear about his life experience, which is too long to write in this letter, but it is INCREDIBLE.  We gave him a picture of the Savior and testified with ALL of our hearts that it is HIS time to repent and come unto Jesus.  Ramiro had an interview with the Bishop on Saturday and let’s just say he OVER participated in the Sunday School class yesterday!  He lives with his sister and her family so we hope to share the gospel with them as well!  

Last week we were out with the Relief Society President helping her visit of few of the less-active sisters in the ward when she told us about a woman named Fanny who has a 19 year old son named Eduardo who had been baptized over 2 years ago, but had quit going to church.  He was now involved in drugs and was also involved in a fight with the police just over a month ago.  She told us that Fanny just needed some hope.  So OF COURSE we went to the house to see if we could offer any help and Fanny slowly came to the door.  Wiping tears from her eyes, she asked us what we wanted.  When she saw our smiles and name tag, she let us in! 

Fanny expressed her solemn desire that her son would go back to church and that the family could be happy again.  Well, we don’t have the priesthood to give her a blessing...so we decided to say a prayer with her.  Kneeling on the cement floor of their humble home, we plead with our Heavenly Father to help soften her son’s heart and give him a desire to come back to church. 

Well, Eduardo worked all week, so we decided to come back on Saturday hoping to find both him and his mom there.  Turns out that Fanny was not there but, Eduardo was.  Our prayer from earlier in the week was answered as he said, “Hermana Bartholomew and Hermana Blacutt, I want to change my life and I will be there in church on Sunday.”  His heart appeared to be softened, but it also seemed too good to be true!! 

On Sunday morning, we stopped by Fanny and Eduardo’s home, thinking that we would need to drag him out of bed, but to our great surprise, when we arrived he came out of his room dressed up in a clean white shirt, wearing a tie with his hair slicked back.  WHAT?!?!  Fanny thanked us with a warm hug and teared filled eyes as she witnessed that her prayers had also been answered.  We watched the Mormon Message called “Stay within the Lines” featuring a talk by Elder Holland with Eduardo and IMMEDIATELY afterwards he took off his piercings for the last time.  The TOUCH of the Master’s hand can change ANYONE! 

Well, with all of these experiences this week, I had an important truth reemphasized.  On the mission, I have learned the importance of doing the small things.  It does not matter WHO you are or what calling you have in the church, there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God.

“Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.” 

We are here to be sanctified, HOWEVER even when we are sanctified we MUST BE CAREFUL!  Does the prophet need to “take heed and pray always”?  YES!!! The stake president? YES!  DO I as a missionary?  OF COURSE.  If anyone of us stops doing those things we call the “primary answers” of reading the scriptures, praying, and going to church; and I’ll add if we quit doing them with a WILLING heart, we are in danger of falling into temptation.  All those who I have found here on my mission, that are labeled as “inactive” or “less active” in the church is because they stopped doing the small things.  Discover the scriptures, pray without ceasing, and attend church with a broken heart and contrite spirit.    

I LOVE you all and I can’t wait to see all your faces this week! 

Hermana Bartholomew