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

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