Saturday, October 31, 2015

Make it to the Shack

October 31, 2015

This week was long. 

First of all, it was my turn to get the MTC plague this week so I've been a little enfermita [sick] all week, super fun stuff.  On the bright side I'm feeling lots better today and should be back to normal in no time!

However, the long week all started on Sunday when I was still healthy.  Each week our Branch Presidency asks every missionary to prepare a 3-5 minute talk on an assigned topic, IN SPANISH.  So sacrament meeting here consists of our zone (6 districts with 8-12 missionaries in each) and each week at the beginning of the meeting they announce the program calling 3 random missionaries to speak. 

Yep, you guessed it.  I got called on to speak.  Because the crowd isn't too big you think I wouldn't be that nervous right?  Wrong.  Speaking in Spanish is terrifying!  Haha :)   I talked about Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost but I was convinced that no one could understand me because I tend to talk really fast when I get nervous - don't know if you guys knew that about me or not. ;)  So after I raced through my talk I sat down and was like 'oh shoot did I even make any sense?'  But as sweet Brother Cannon got up to close the meeting he said how crazy it is that we've only been here a couple of weeks and we already sound that good.  All I have to say is the gift of tongues is real my friends... also credit is due to the first Hermana Bartolomeo (Jess) for teaching me how to not sound like a greenie, you rock sis!

After sacrament meeting, my comp and I got to teach in Relief Society... haha it was my lucky day!  We talked about how to recognize promptings of the Holy Ghost and how sometimes we don't realize WHY we feel like we need to do or say something until later. The perfect example of this happened that very same day when President Swenson counseled all the district leaders to not hand out mail until the end of the day (9:30pm).  Normally we get mail right after lunch and dinner so it’s a great pick-me-up during our long hours in class.  Obviously, we were kind of sad about this new rule.  However, we decided to be obedient and I'm so very grateful we did.

The following day, Monday, I received lots of letters from home and was super excited and tempted to open them but I stayed strong and left them in my bag until we got back to our room.  That night, my comp and I were both on our beds reading about home when I received the most heart-breaking news. Our dear family friend Heather Holt had passed away on Sunday.  Heather is the mom of one of my childhood best friends, Ashton and my immediate reaction was complete shock and disbelief.  I wanted nothing more than for it to all just be a bad dream.  The worst part about it was the fact that there was nothing I could do.  I was confused, helpless and depressed.  My heart was aching for the dear Holt family as I sat on my bed sobbing in the arms of my sweet roommates and companion, just seeking for an answer and comfort like everyone else back home.

Now I don't know why President Swenson decided to change that little rule about getting mail.  He may have had some reasoning behind it or maybe it was just a feeling that he went with.  Either way, I know it was inspired in some way by our Heavenly Father.  Had he not changed that simple rule, I would have read those letters right before class started, right before a lesson with our investigator and at a time where I wouldn't have had time or the capacity to really know how to react.  I know it sounds simple, but my Heavenly Father was looking out for me that day. 

The very next day, Tuesday, we had a special surprise here at the MTC.  We found out that the regular Tuesday night devotional would be a live broadcast to all the other MTCs around the world.  With such a special event, we obviously knew that one of the First Presidency or a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles would be coming to speak to us.  We all sat in anticipation as we waited for the door to open to see who it was.  As we sang prelude hymns, Elder Neil L. Anderson walked in and an immediate peace came into my heart.  After the choir sang More Holiness Give Me, we all listened intently to the words of a special witness of the Savior as he talked to us about sacrifice, opposition, the adversary and deliverance.  Once again, it was exactly what I needed.  For me, the most important message he shared was found in three scriptures; Doctrine & Covenants 3:8, John 14:18, and Matthew 11:28.  Our Savior wants nothing more than to help us... but we need to GO TO HIM. 

I want everyone who reads this to know, that I KNOW, that we will see our sweet Mama Holt again.  Through the Atonement of our loving older brother, we will all overcome physical death and will have the chance to see those we love again.  I don't understand God's plan perfectly - but I do know that it is a perfect plan and that right now, He needs Heather's help on the other side. 

This week more than ever, I could not be happier and more honored to have the chance to represent my Savior Jesus Christ and bring His other siblings to this great knowledge too.  I deeply miss my family and friends who have passed on to the other side but have a smile on my face because I'm lucky enough to have their help, love and support, as I know you all have as well. 

As hard as this week was, tomorrow is a new day.  And while the hurt and loss will still be there, so will my Savior; helping me, loving me, and holding me every step of the way. 

Don't forget we are never alone.

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Bart

P.S. The story behind my email title this week goes like this.  An Elder in my district is going to the Argentina, Comodoro Rivadavia mission.  We were exploring our missions on Google Earth the other day during our class break (don't worry, it’s allowed J) and he typed in the address of his mission home... it’s literally a shack.  So now everyday whenever our brains are fried from Spanish and we feel like we've been here forever, we just have to remind ourselves to "make it to the shack!"  I can't wait to get to my own shack in Bahia Blanca....even though my mission home looks pretty nice and is attached to a stake center... same idea right?! ;)

Pictures this week:

District 35 E at the Provo Temple
Happy Halloween from District 35E
(we are in our scariest gym clothes)
Post workout (playing 4 square)
We are a bit special

Saturday, October 24, 2015

May the Spirit be Ever in Your Favor

October 24, 2015


Okay first things first, the good news of this week - Hna. Brown's nose bleeds have stopped and we didn't end up having to go see a specialist so yay! AND even better news... she is officially going to RIVERSIDE. :)  There was a lot of confusion with doctors and parents and mission presidents about the health concerns in her mission right now but they gave her all their info and the final decision.  We went to the temple like we do every Saturday and we both could feel Heavenly Father answered her prayer.  It was awesome! SO SO HAPPY! Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers they really helped!!

The autumn trees outside our home :)  I LOVE FALL IN UTAH

Next... the best surprise of the week!  Yesterday (Friday) Hermana Brown and I were about to head to dinner and she had a letter that she wanted to drop off.  I also had one but had left it in the classroom so we were debating whether to take the time to go get it or just head to dinner or what.  Anyway, I said "It’s okay, let’s just go take your letter now and we can do mine tomorrow and we can head to dinner after."  

As we were walking to the mailbox, I'm off in my own little world kind of zoned out and talking with my compi when I saw Carolyn Bristol!!!  It was seriously so surreal - first of all to see someone from the outside world, and second to see such a great friend and neighbor from home! (For those of you who don't know, Sister Bristol lives up the street from my family and was my piano teacher for like 8 years.)  She was here with her dad who is a teacher at the MTC for senior couples.  It was definitely a tender mercy and little miracle that we ran into each other.  A perfect example of how Heavenly Father puts us in the right place at the right time - all because of a little letter we needed to take to the mailbox.  :) 

Overjoyed to see Carolyn Bristol!

In other news I'm finally starting to sleep better here!  I guess I'm so exhausted by the end of the day that I'm just out real quick.  It’s probably cause of all those games of Speed/Knockout I play with the Elders during gym... and to answer your question dad, yes I've won multiple games!  Don't worry I'm still humble, but I do love beating them and seeing their faces when an Hermana can play ball. ;) 

This last week on Tuesday Hna. Brown and I did a half-day “fast” from English.  We had two lessons with investigators that day we were concerned about, so we did our best to speak only Spanish beforehand to feel more comfortable with it during the lessons.  Let me just tell you, the gift of tongues is real, WHEN you put in the effort.  Yeah Spanish is hard, but it’s not when you have the Lord’s help.  We just gotta keep trying our best and He'll give us the courage and ability to say what we need. 

Last but not least, THANK YOU ALL.  I'm seriously the luckiest missionary in the world.  I have received so many packages, letters and kind emails and honestly it’s what keeps me going.  THANK YOU for your love, support and prayers and know I'm praying for you all everyday.  I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!

There is nothing else that makes me happier than the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want nothing more than to share it and bring others to this knowledge as well.  I still can't believe I'm actually on my mission and my life is now completely dedicated to serving my Savior and the gente de [people of] ARGENTINA.  Gosh I'm lucky.  

Espero que ustedes tienen una semana buenĂ­sima!  [I hope that you all have a wonderful week!]

Con mucho amor, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Funny stories of the week: 

1) One day this week I braided Hna. Cafe's hair like Katniss (from the Hunger Games) and announced her at dinner as "from District 35.... Hermana Everdeen!!  Then Hna. Waters (sister training leader) told everyone to pray extra for me…haha glad nothing has changed. :)  This story is the reason behind my email title - slightly sad I won't get to see the final Hunger Games movie but good thing it will still be around when I get back!! 

2) An elder in my zone told me that I look like Hermione (from Harry Potter) so he's taken the liberty to call me Hermana Granger...It’s pretty fun. 

3) Hna. Brown's mom sent us all YO-YOs to keep us sane during the day and they are honestly life savers.  Haha we look like such nerds, but hey we are somehow managing to learn how to teach the gospel at the same time, so esta bien! [its’ all good

Artsy pic with our yo-yos haha

More pictures from the week:

Hna. Pierce and I are always the first two ready in the morning so we take advantage of the extra 10 mins of sleep we can get while our comps beautify themselves.  Haha the perks of being super low maintenance. :)

Catching some extra sleep with Hna. Pierce

When you and Hna Ashby literally match every night!

It's a good day when you run into Elder Jeppson on your Sunday temple walk!
(Elder Jeppson is one of Megan's good friends from high school.)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

We Broke Out of Spirit Prison

October 17, 2015

Okay, so first off...I don't actually think this place is prison...BUT if you think about it, it kind of is...we are stuck in a brick-walled classroom for 9 hours each day and there’s no real way out.  EXCEPT when your companion needs to go to the doctor!  Don't worry…she’s totally fine!  She’s just had bad nose bleeds during gym so the doc wants her to see an ear nose and throat specialist.  This means will be officially leaving the MTC campus sometime next week for that.  But first he wants her to try this certain nose spray so we had to leave the MTC and walk to the BYU student health clinic down the road a couple blocks!  It was completely approved but still WE BROKE OUT!!! 

The Great Escape (You can barely see the brown brick MTC behind us)

The lovely classroom we spend 9 hours in every day!  3 hour segments, 3 times a day. 

Alright so to answer all your questions...Yes it absolutely IS killing me that I'm not at the BYU football games.  We can't hear the noise very often because we are in class listening to other noises that I don't understand at all (aka Spanish) haha jk it’s coming along.  Our trip to Ecuador definitely helped, so thanks padres y hermana!! 

My view from the Provo Temple...I miss LaVell's stadium

Dealing with BYU withdrawals with Hna Ashby
Nothing that a little Creamery Ice Cream can't fix

Our entire zone is required to do choir which is totally fine with me because it’s awesome!  The choir director is so funny and has the best stories to share.  This week we sang Joseph Smith's First Prayer at the devotional and it was incredible.  I have never felt the spirit more when learning a song.  I know now more than ever before how true that story of the first vision is.  Speaking of devotionals, they are the best!!  We had the administrative director of the MTC come on Sunday and Elder L. Whitney Clayton and his wife came on Tuesday, all great stuff!

Also, I haven't really been able to sleep super great since being here...which is frustrating.  It just takes me forever to fall asleep.  So cute Hna Brown has tried to "heal me" with her essential oils.  Sadly, it didn’t work!  Sometimes I just wish I was back home so I could play relaxing music on my phone when I can't sleep...but oh well, esta bien!  

Well that’s about all I have time for today.  I have to finish my laundry with my companion's "organic laundry detergent" who is she?!  Haha, it cracks me up! 

Dad to answer your question, no I haven't schooled the Elders in bball yet because I'm not allowed to play with them unless I have another Hermana to play with us too and no one else really wants to.  I'm planning to play them in speed later this week…so pray for me to uphold our good Bartholomew name and win! ;)

Thanks so much for the packages and letters!!  You guys rock!  Everyone is jealous about how much mail I get, but then I remind them that the only reason I’m getting so much now is because I can’t receive any packages in Argentina.  Argentina missionary probs ;) 

Gosh I can't believe I've already been here for almost 2 whole weeks!!  It’s said in the MTC that days are weeks and weeks are days.  That is the second most true thing I’ve ever heard (besides the gospel of course;) 

When you are the only Hermana in your room leaving the country...:)

Funny story of the week;
My cute companion was just walking the other day on our way back from gym and saw some women missionaries walking towards us and her first thought was, "Hey look…they have sister missionaries here!!"  HAHAHA oh gosh...she claims she’s a red-head but I'm pretty sure she’s blonde... :)

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!  Thanks for your love, support and prayers.  I'm truly the luckiest missionary in the world!! 


Hermana Bartholomew 

P.S. Please pray for my comp and her health - her doctors have been talking and they might not let her go to Riverside.  So she might be reassigned, but we don't know yet.  Pero, esta bien! The Church is true no matter where you go! 

All the Sister Missionaries in our Zone on a walk to the Provo Temple on Sunday

The Provo Temple

Roommates on the Provo Temple grounds

I got lazy this morning so Hermana Cafe blow dried my hair for me.. what a saint!!!

Hna Brown - she may be small, but she sure can eat!!! :)

When you and your companion accidentally every day :)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hola Familia

October 10, 2015

HOLA HOLA HOLA!!! As you probably have guessed by now, my P-Day is Saturday, YAY! 

Okay so even though I've only been here 4 days now, I already love it so much!! Lots of stuff has been happening everyday and I honestly don't remember half of what we have done (mostly because half of it has been in Spanish haha). But I'll try my best to start from the top and hopefully give you all a little insight into my crazy new life! 

Day 1 (Wednesday)- After all you lovely people kicked me to the curb here, I was immediately ushered into a million different rooms trying to collect all my stuff: room key, ID card, NAME TAGS :), and worst of all Spanish materials...literally weighs 25 lbs.

Next I got taken to my room where I quickly dropped off all my luggage and was taken to my classroom.  I met my teacher, Hermana Richards, who is awesome.  A bunch of Elders were in there but I didn't have time to talk to anyone before my teacher took me to a computer room to do some online registration-like stuff for the newbies.  Of course she was talking in Spanish only so I didn't completely understand what she was telling me to do and so I ended up doing this super long questionnaire and was in there for like an hour.  Everyone around me finished and left way quick and I was super confused how they finished that fast.  My teacher came back in to check on me because I was in there so long and realized I was doing the wrong thing and corrected me kindly.  I was so stressed and confused and just ready to cry.  

I quickly finished what I was actually supposed to be doing and then I headed back into class where I had missed all the introductions of the Elders in my class- aka my district.  We all noticed the empty seat next to me, all realizing that I still didn't have a companion.  We went through our first mini lesson in Spanish and then headed to the new missionary meeting with the MTC Presidency- still no companion for Hermana B.... :(  So I just sat with the Elders in my district and waited impatiently for my companion to walk through the door.  About halfway through the meeting, one of the senior sisters walked in with a cute little red head Hermana and I just knew she was mi compi! She sat on the row in front of us and didn't see me so I had to wait 'til after the meeting to finally meet her! Turns out she had a dental emergency an hour before she was supposed to come to the MTC so she was a couple hours late but esta bien (it’s all good) :) 

So my companion is Hermana Brown and she is incredible.  She is going to the Riverside, California mission. She's originally from West Jordan, Utah but has lived in North Carolina for the last few years.  She loves riding horses, is super creative and crafty and is also a health nut.  She is a firm believer in essential oils and eating healthy so we work well together- I eat all the junk food and she can heal me when I'm sick. ;)  But the coolest thing about Hermana Brown is that she is a cancer survivor.  She was diagnosed when she was 13 when they found a tumor on her leg.  She has undergone chemo and many surgeries so her right leg is almost entirely made of titanium... guys I'm literally companions with Iron Woman!! haha it’s okay to be jealous ;) But seriously, Hermana Brown's testimony is even stronger than her leg... which is saying a lot!  We get along great.  We try our best to help each other out with Spanish and English (haha English is already hard after only a couple days). But yeah, I definitely got blessed in the companion department.  

First pic with  Hermana Brown
Okay so back to day one... after I met my companion, we went to dinner.  We were each talking 1,000 words a minute just trying to get to know each other.  After eating we went to go grab Hna. Brown's luggage to take it to our room.  As we were walking down the hall of the main building, we saw two Elders walking towards us heading the opposite way (quite a normal sight at the MTC).  I wasn't really paying attention to them until I heard one of them gasp and say "no way..."  I looked up to see ELDER THAYER (Brady haha).  I was SO happy to see him. I immediately ran over to him and gave him a super great handshake... (gosh darn those missionary rules!)  As soon as I started talking to him the tears started flowing.  Up until that point I hadn't stopped shaking since being dropped off but once he started talking to me and helping me calm down I felt right at home.  (Side note- for those of you who don't know, Elder Thayer and I went to high school together and he's like my brother so seeing him was definitely a tender mercy- especially because he is going to Russia, so I didn’t think I'd run into him very often.) 

Other than that we have just been in the classrooms all day and teaching investigators (don't worry they aren't real, but still very scary and hard though). I really do love it here! We live in a room with a threesome of Hermanas in our zone and they are awesome too. I'll tell you more about them next week.  

I love and miss you all already!! But know I am happy here and I'm working hard. 

La Iglesia es verdadera!!

Con mucho amor, 

Hermana Bart :) 

P.S. Funny story of the week - our district leader, Elder Stockton, is from Arizona and so he thinks it is freezing here. The other day he left class and came back with a thick wool pullover cardigan - a normal thing to do when you are cold.  Then a couple seconds later I looked over at him and he was putting on huge winter gloves and a scarf!!! It was seriously hilarious. And the best part is he is going to Boise, Idaho on his mission! Poor, poor Elder.  As a result of this, our district has started calling him Elder Guantes or Elder Bufanda (Elder Gloves or Elder Scarf) :) 

P.P.S. I also saw Elder Jeppson. Yay! 

The best district in the whole MTC.... District E :)

The cute Hermanas we room with 
( Hermana Ashby, Hna. Pierce, Hna. Brown- two of them, confusing I know, Hna. Bart y Hna. Brown) 

One more pic con mi companera y the cute vacuums in our hallway by our room haha whoops!