Monday, August 17, 2015

These Things I Know

August 17, 2015

Hola Familia,

AHHH I can’t believe that this is the LAST time I will have to write you guys…and that soon I’m leaving to come home.  Voy a extrañar de ser misionera ;( [I’m going to miss being a missionary.]  Your letters this week made me bawl like a little baby.  The guys next to me here in the internet café thought my dog died or something.  

As I begin to write this I’m already tearing up so this might come out a bit sentimental.  ;)  As I think of ALL my letters that I have sent home in the past year and a half, the most repeated phrase found would probably be...“I just LOVE being a missionary!”  But really.  I LOVE it with ALL my heart.  I have REJOICED EVERMORE, prayed WITHOUT ceasing, and GIVEN thanks in ALL things! (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

I am and will be forever grateful to my Father in Heaven for calling me to be a representative of His Son, Jesus Christ.  I could sit here ALL day and tell you how much I love the mission, but I want to take this opportunity to tell you what I KNOW. 

First, that unspeakable gift, the companionship and power of the Holy Ghost allowed for my words to be CHRIST’s words.  This unspeakable gift of the peace of God, which passeth ALL understanding, works in PERFECT unity with our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and causes us to pause, kneel and heed its promptings.  Let’s just say my knees are a little calloused and bruised from kneeling on cement and sometimes dirt floors while receiving this divine guidance. 

Over the past 18 months my heart has changed and this has led to my conversion.  I HAVE used, and will forever use Christ’s infinite atonement to continually change me from something good to something much better.  Indeed, I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love.  So...in response to Alma’s question “can you feel so now?”  I answer with certainty - OF COURSE I CAN! 

The Holy Ghost testifies of the Father and the Son, as will I.  As stated in my patriarchal blessing and after the many miracles seen in my mission, I AM a WITNESS that Christ LIVED and ATONED for US.  I know that He LIVES once again, and because He lives, we shall live also.  His atonement is very DEAR to me, it always has been and always will be.  Just as an angel came to comfort the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane, I know with all my heart that Christ will do the same for US!  For He has succored and extended HIS love unto a ONE such as I during my mission.  It is truly wonderful to me. 

Christ gave us an impeccable example to follow which implores EACH of us to echo His own words in saying, “I came to do the will of my Father.”  As a missionary, I have seen those who have followed this example, and answered His invitation to Come Follow Me.  I TESTIFY that miracles have not ceased on the earth and that following our older Brother WILL bring us to REJOICE EVERMORE!

His Father, OUR Father is a God of love, justice, mercy, laws, miracles, perfection, power, discipline, truth, forgiveness, order and MUCH, MUCH more.  He is truly perfect and has a PERFECT plan for ALL of us.  Part of His perfect plan for me was coming here to Ecuador.  I thank him every day for the chance He gave me to LOVE His children here so deeply, just as He would if He or His Son were here on earth.  It was hard leaving my family to come to a foreign country, but I know I will see you all YA MISMO [SOON] ;) and I KNOW my family is eternal.  What makes ending my mission SO HARD is I am not sure when I will see my Ecuadorian family again.  Before I leave I will just have to hug each one of them until their EYES start bulging. ;)  I told them all this week that I will be saving a seat for every single one of them in the celestial kingdom of heaven, and if they are not there they will have to suffer the wrath of Hermana B.  ;) HAHA

I am going to struggle without a companion by my side every moment of the day.  President Riggins says the cure for that is getting married soon.  HAHA FUNNY PRESIDENTE!  I think my rice belly, mosquito bitten BODY (here they bite you everywhere, not just on your legs...it’s lovely) and once lice-infested hair will scare all men away. ;) 

But getting back to companions, during my mission Heavenly Father blessed me with the chance to meet 6 truly loved and now ETERNAL friends:

Hermana Toledo, AHH I just love her with all my heart.  She was my mom when I arrived here, caring and protecting me from harm.  She taught me how to BE a missionary and to LOVE every minute of it.  She also constantly showed me that PRAYER truly is a privilege to talk to OUR HEAVENLY KING.

Hermana Toledo

Hermana Latorre, haha she is crazy and yet the most OBEDIENT companion I had.  She taught me that working diligently and intelligently will give you much satisfaction and love for this work.

Hermana Latorre

Hermana Perez taught me how mission work is more than just teaching – it includes working with the ward council, and utilizing the ward directory or basically ANY list the church has, to find those who are lost yet prepared to come back and accept this gospel.  She also taught me the importance of FEARING GOD more than MAN. 

Hermana Perez

Hermana Vilchez, MI HIJITA, is the strongest person I know.  She taught me that God loves us even when we don’t necessarily want to love Him, and that because He loves us He gave us a Plan of Salvation. 

Hermana Vilchez

Hermana Blacutt taught me to not be offended by what others say in church or how they look at you.  Also, that we should go to church because it is there we strengthen our faith and find the saving ordinances that will get us back to God.  Her final lesson was that it sucks going home, which I am coming to understand now. ;( 

Hermana Blacutt

AND finally Hermana Rebolledo reminded me of how much I LOVE Chilenas.  Dad we have to go to Chile soon!  She is the greatest example to me of being teachable and truly living up to your full potential as a missionary.

Hermana Rebolledo

Family, I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and has brought me closer to HIM and our Father than any other book.  I have read boldly from it every day and I know that it has the power to soften our hearts.  I also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that through him, God restored the FULLNESS of the gospel of Jesus Christ here to the earth in these last days.  I have defended and PRAISED him that could easily be classified as the most attacked prophet who has ever lived.  He was not perfect and did not know everything, but was WILLING to learn everything and bring about God’s work here on the earth.  I also know that the temple is GOD’S UNIVERSITY.  I LOVE the temple and am SO grateful for the covenants I have made with my Heavenly Father there.

Now, to close my LAST letter, I would like to quote again from the late Elder Boyd K Packer’s poem called “These Things I Know”, as I feel that his words have become my words… 

I now can say with all certainty
That I KNOW and LOVE the Lord.
I can TESTIFY with them of old
As I preach His holy word (for one more week as a full-time missionary).

I know what He felt in Gethsemane
Is too much to comprehend.
I know He did it all for us;
We have no greater Friend.

I know that He will come anew
With power and in glory.
I know I will see Him once again
At the end of my life’s story.

I’ll kneel before His wounded feet;
I’ll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
“My Lord, my God, I know.”

And I DO KNOW!  Jesus Christ will come again in Glory and I hope to continue to know Him, so at that day He will recognize ME as one of his servants and greet me with a warm embrace and say, “Well done thou good and faithful one.” 

Conclusions from the mission?  JESUS LIVES, THIS CHURCH IS TRUE, so REJOICE EVERMORE!!!

Hermana Jessica Jo Bartholomew

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