Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Evil Stepmother

December 31, 2015

Hola Familia y Amigos!!

As you have all figured out by now, my P-day has been changed to Thursdays - SURPRISE!!  I feel like I haven't written to you all in forever!  I hope everyone is doing well and had a very merry Christmas!

First of all some sad news, Juan Cruz wasn't baptized last weekend. :(  He wasn't able to attend church and has been at his grandma's house all week so we haven't actually been able to see him for a while.  Hopefully after all the holiday celebrations we can start teaching him again and set a new date for his baptism. :)

So last week on December 23rd, we had Navidad con toda la misión [Christmas with the entire mission]!  Oh my, it was so much fun!!  All 189 of us missionaries got together in the main plaza in the center of Bahia Blanca and just had a fantastic day!  

Christmas Party in the main plaza de Bahia Blanca
Now that's A LOT of missionaries...
We had a photo scavenger hunt, sang Christmas carols, ate lots of good food, watched The Emperor’s New Groove, decorated Christmas cookies, got a special video Christmas wish from our stake presidents (thanks Pres. Taylor!!:) ), ate more food, had a testimony meeting, and ate food one more time!

The best part though, was that I got to see my long lost amigos Elder Bakker and Elder Lee!!! 

Hey!  I know you...(Elder Lee)

Hey!  I know you too...(Elder Bakker)

When you run into two of your best friends in another country :)
Megan, Elder Lee, Elder Bakker

Oh my!  I can't tell you how great it was to see people from home.  We had a super fun reunion and were able to talk to each other lots - it really was the best!  Crazy to think just a couple months ago we were all back home in good old Draper, Utah and now we're in Argentina...No puedo creer lo.  [I can’t believe it.]

Feliz Navidad from all of your favorite Draper missionaries

Christmas Eve we spent visiting lots of members and finished off the day with a super yummy dinner at the bishop's house.  

Obisbo Correa's delicious chicken barbeque
Christmas Eve with the Bishop's Family

Christmas day...let’s just say it was by far the hottest day of my mission so far (over 100 degrees).  But it’s all good because we did get to visit with Santa...

SANTA!!! (aka our Zone Leader)

and I GOT TO SEE MY FAMILY!!!  Oh my heavens, best thing ever!! The time flew by and I really feel like we only talked for like 5 minutes; but it was the best 5 mins ever. ;)

The 2015 version of the Bartholomew Family Christmas picture :)

[To watch a short 2 minute video of our Skype with Megan on Christmas Day, click on the link below.  Warning - this segment is all in Spanish!]

So during our Skype call there was something I forgot to tell you all because I really wasn't worried about it then, but now it’s kind of a big deal.  The day after Christmas (Saturday) we had transfers! (First of all, can I get a “Whoot! Whoot!” for making it through my first transfer in the mission!!!)  But yeah, I wasn't worried at all because I didn't think anything was going to change for us.  Everyone stays with their trainer for at least their first 12 weeks to finish their training, right?  WRONG!  Yup, Hermana Palma got transferred to another area and was called to be a new sister training leader.  

Late night GOODBYE to my mom in the bus terminal :(
What?!  Yeah, so we found out this news on Saturday after I talked to you.  Sunday at 9pm we headed to the bus terminal to send her off and wait for my maldrasta (step mom) to arrive.  Haha in the mission your trainer is your mom and if you get a second trainer they are, in turn, your step mom.  :)  But don't worry, despite the title to this email, my new stepmom is not evil. 

Introducing.... HERMANA BAIRD!!  Another Yankee!!! Wahoo! :)  Hna Baird is from Rexburg, Idaho, has been in the mission for 1 year.  We are basically the same person :)  

Mi Maldrasta (Hermana Baird) :)

We've only been together for less than a week but I have already learned so much from her!  I was super worried at first when Hermana Palma left me because I felt like I didn't know the area well enough.  But Hermana Baird has helped me so much and we are really starting to get more organized and figure this whole Villa Floresta thing out together.  We get along great, love the same food, music, clothes…you name it - and to top it all off, we look pretty similar too. :) AND the best part - I CAN UNDERSTAND HER, and she can understand me!!!!

As crazy and unexpected as this change has been, I'm happier than ever! We both have lots of drive and enthusiasm for the work right now, and I'm very grateful to have her here to finish my training.  As stressed as I was at the beginning, I have really been able to see the Lord help me with my confidence in the knowledge of the area, the gift of tongues to speak the language, and all around I just feel better. Life is all good folks, don't you worry!

With tomorrow being the start of a new year, and a time when we are all setting new goals for 2016 (seriously can't believe it) I want to share with you all a quick thought I had during my personal study this week. 

In Alma 5:14-16 we read:

14 And now behold, I ask of you…have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

I really love the question at the end of verse 16.  It's my personal goal at the end of this life to be able to hear those words from my Savior.  I want to do all that I can everyday to live worthy and to make him proud.  I want to encourage you all, as you reflect on this past year and set goals for the next, to keep the end goal of returning to the presence of God and living with Him forever in mind, and make sure that everything you do everyday will help you reach it. 

I love and miss you all lots and want to wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  Don't stay up too late tonight okay? ;)  


Hermana Bartholomew 

P.S.  Funny story of the week - So since Hermana Baird has arrived, we've been using the map of our area every second of everyday so we won't get lost, right?  Well, we were looking at it in the park one day when a huge gust of wind took our map away...shoot, NOOOO!!!  :)  We ran after it like our lives depended on it (because they kind of do, haha).  Let’s just say that we really are great entertainment for the people here. :)

P.P.S.  When I was at the bus terminal on Sunday night, waiting for my new companion to arrive, I met an Elder Roberts.  We discovered that we live like 5 minutes away from each other!  His family lives in the 6th ward, over by Boondocks.   

Another Draperite and fellow citizen of the Mountain Point Stake
Elder Roberts
He will be finishing his mission soon and I’m sure will meet you Dad when he reports to the Stake Presidency. :)  His little sister played on the CCHS Charger bball team with me too.  Super funny and super small world!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Ha Nacido Un Salvador [A Savior is Born]

December 21, 2015

Hola Familia y Amigos!

Let’s just say that this was probably the craziest week of my life.  I’m going to try my best to describe what happened, but sadly I'm gonna have to give you the shortened version haha ;)

Starting with last Monday- 

We had a P-day de zona [with the other missionaries in our zone] where we basically got together and had a picnic in the park followed by a water balloon fight.  

Picnic Time with Hermanas Palma & Ashby

Just chillin' at the park with all my dog friends

We had a real authentic Argentine asada [barbeque] and ate these huge sausages in a baguette....basically the Argentine version of a hot dog. :)  Super yummy! 

Argentine MEAT!

Ever since my first day in Villa Floresta we have been teaching an investigator named Juan Cruz.  He is 18 years old, and has a little brother Luis who is 11 and is already a member of the church (but less active).  Juan had a baptism date set back in May but he didn't show up to his baptism.  He works a lot, is sometimes hard to find at home, but he also loves to listen to the missionaries. 

So last Monday night, we had a lesson with Juan and talked about the importance of coming to church on Sunday.  (He has come to church a bunch in the past, but hasn't attended for the last couple of months.)  He told us that he would try harder to make it, but explained that it was just hard sometimes because his dad makes him stay home and help him with work around the house. 

At some point in our discussion, Hermana Palma finally musters up the courage to ask the question we've all been curious about- why he didn't go through with his baptism back in May?  Juan kind of smiled, and then said that he was embarrassed.  Juan is really shy and felt embarrassed to have a lot a people come to see him be baptized.  I asked him if he still wanted to be baptized and he answered with a big, “YES!”  After some discussion, we decided to set a new baptism date for this coming Saturday, December 26th - the day after Christmas. :) YAY YAY YAY!!!  As of right now, Juan is still excited and planning on going through with it. We have another lesson with him tonight so I'll let you all know how it goes next week and hopefully I'll have pictures of my version of a “white Christmas” :)

Super exciting right?!  Finally someone is progressing in my area, and things are looking up!!  But of course when things are going good in the mission, life always throws you a curveball right?? 

Well my curveball came on Tuesday when we had "super divisiones" with all the Hermanas in our zone.  Basically, this is where we all switch companions for a couple days.  I got sent to an area called Terrada with Hermana Ashby!! Wahoo!  She is the only other Yankee Hna missionary in the zone. :)  She's awesome and I was so excited!  

Hermana Ashby

Yankees for Life :)

So I hauled my little duffle bag to Terrada and went out contacting with Hna Ashby.  The next day she had a meeting at President’s house for all the missionaries that are about to finish their missions, so while she went to that meeting, I got to spend the day in an area called Hospital with Hna Recio y Hna Tovar.  (Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean I was actually in the hospital, it’s just the name of their sector.) 

Turns out that Wednesday was BY FAR the craziest day of my mission.  The night before Hna Tovar had tripped and sprained her ankle and her hand, so we were kind of stuck in the house brainstorming what to do for the rest of the day.  The other two Hermanas came up with the (not so) genius idea to call a member in their ward and ask to borrow his bike.  We helped Hna Tovar hobble through the streets to his house, talking to everyone in our path and singing Christmas carols all the way! ;)  The rest of the morning Hna Tovar sat on her throne of a bike seat while balancing on mine and Hna Recio’s shoulders as we pushed her through the streets.  Let’s just say we got a couple funny looks!  Oh and by the way it was raining too... 

Three crazy missionaries on a bike!

Now as for the rest of the day, it is pretty much impossible for me to explain what happened over email, mostly because I didn't understand half of it (#yankeeprobs), but let’s just say I understood that there was a possibility for a baptism service that night.  So we were running, no more like sprinting through the streets, from one place to the next, trying to get everything ready.  All our frantic efforts resulted in an overfilled baptismal font, three soaked missionaries, and an investigator that couldn't be baptized that day after all, because his family was out of town.  Yeah, I know, super confusing. Just know that I exercised lots that day, okay? :) 

Thursday I returned to Terrada with Hna Ashby and had a great time – mainly because I could actually understand everything she said.  And…we found some great new investigators that I believe were really put in our path for Hna Ashby and her companion to teach in the next few weeks.  

Friday I returned back to my beloved Villa Floresta where Hna. Palma got me caught up on what I missed while I was gone.  To sum it up, things are finally starting to progress with several people and I’m super excited for these next few weeks!  

Saturday we had a ward Christmas activity complete with a reenactment of the nativity put on by the youth in the ward.  I got to accompany the bishop’s wife on the keyboard while she played the flute to some Christmas hymns.

With Bishop Correa's wife at Ward Christmas Party

Sunday I somehow got roped into playing the piano for Sacrament Meeting, and as I told you last week, I got to play one of the songs for the primary program too.  It was beyond cute! 

Whew... sorry!  That was a lot of info and it probably made no sense. :)  But just know that they are definitely keeping me on my toes down here and that things are finally progressing in my area - yay! 

Well, I seriously can't believe it is CHRISTMAS this week!!!  Oh I'm so beyond excited to talk to you all!  I have one more quick experience to share with you and then I'll give your eyes a break from reading this long letter. 

I hope you have all had the opportunity to watch the church's new video for Christmas called Ha Nacido Un Salvador [A Savior Is Born].  If not, do it now…it’s so good! 

We were sharing this video with a family after they fed us lunch this week.  After sharing our thoughts on the importance of remembering Christ during Christmas, the cute mom of the family started crying.  She then expressed why she loves Christmas so much.  Her husband is Jewish and is very strict about not talking about religion, and especially about mentioning Christ.  He doesn't allow the family to have pictures of Christ in their house.  The only time he doesn't say anything is during Christmas time.  Think about that.  For this family, there is only one month where they can have a picture of the Savior in their home.  Wow!  How would that be?  I seriously loved this experience so much because it got me thinking deeply.

I hope you will all really take the time this holiday season to remember our Savior, and not take him for granted.  As you see his image in our home, let it be a constant reminder for you to really focus on loving Him, serving Him, and following Him every day of our lives. 

Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases all the way from Argentina!  I LOVE YOU ALL! 


Hermana Bartholomew 

Weekly Sunset

Monday, December 14, 2015

O Christmas Tree

December 14, 2015


My First Apartment - nice and GREEN!
Yes - the sign in the window says it is up for sale, but our contract doesn't end for a couple more months
so we aren't moving anytime soon.
So this week....I bought a tree haha!  I found the cheapest one I could, which was 25 pesos (about 2.50 dollars) plus I spent a little for the tiny bell decorations.  It’s super little, like barely a foot high... but I LOVE it.  I figured if I have to spend 2 Christmas' away from home, I deserve a tree!  I'll just have to store it in my suitcase over the next year haha.   Also, a shout out to Mom for sending me the best ornament in the world to remind me of home :)

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...How lovely are thy branches!
The BEST Ornament :)

Last Monday evening we had something called refuerzos in our area.  I have no idea what it’s called in English but it’s where all the missionaries in the zone (14 people, 7 companionships) all go to one area and for about 2 hours everyone goes on splits with another companion and goes out contacting people.  So Hna Palma and I had to prepare lists of people from the area book and the references we had received, and map out 7 different areas for the missionaries to go work in.  It went really well and at the end of the night we had 15 new contacts!  All of that is super great, the only problem is that because of the size of our area, and the fact that we had contacts from all parts, there isn’t enough time to go and visit everyone.  We are trying our best to go visit one or two of the new contacts per day, I just wish they lived a little closer to each other so we could visit more people.  

Well, so like I've said before, our area is huge!  It is filled with all different kinds of people, houses and streets.  We've got everything from asphalt roads, to cobble stone streets to just plain dirt paths.  As a result, it’s very important that you watch where you are walking AT ALL TIMES - si no [if not], you will most likely trip, get your feet caught in some garbage, sticks or wire, or the best of all... you'll step in a nice little present left by our rabies infested four legged friends.  Can you guess which one happened to me this week? Yes, ALL of them...haha, the worst though was that I seriously stepped in dog poo!  Ugh, I can't get over it, it was disgusting!  Hermana Palma was seriously laughing forever about it.  Lesson learned - watch where you are stepping…ALWAYS!!!!

Speaking of stepping, I've figured out which of my shoes is my favorite!  (aka the ones that don't hurt to walk in)  I know that you are all going to find this hard to believe, but I'm actually TAN here!  Holy cow - one month in Argentina and this is what happens to you!  This is not a joke people.

It's not DIRT!
Fridays rock in the mission because for 1 hour every week I get to go to the capilla [chapel] and practice playing the piano!  Oh it’s so great!!  The absolute best way to unwind, relax a little bit, and do something I enjoy so much.  Next Sunday is the Primary Program in our ward Sacrament Meeting and the Primary pianist has a hard time playing one of the songs so she asked me if I could play it for the program.  I'm so excited!  We had practice this Saturday and I can't wait to hear the cute niños sing “I'm trying to be like Jesus” in Spanish :)  

The truth is that I've been on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions this week. I've been super frustrated and down on myself at times because of the language and the fact that we aren't seeing any progress or results from our work.  Plus I feel like we don’t have enough time with the size of our area and the amount of people we need to visit.  BUT at the same time, I've been super grateful and happy because I love Argentina and our ward has been super awesome and willing to help us out lots this week. 

In 1 Nephi 11:17 we read, "I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things."  As hard as missionary work is, I'm not here to show off my knowledge of the gospel or the Spanish language (or lack thereof :)), I'm here to share my testimony of the love that God has for each of us and invite my brothers and sisters here in Bahia Blanca to come closer to Him. 

Yes this week was long and hard, but it’s not about me.  I'm going to keep working hard, continue to smile and just love the people, cause that's the way the Savior would do it. 

El Campo Blanco (a different one...there's literally millions here)
I LOVE you all and am so grateful for the prayers and support you all send my way every day.  

Wishing you all a fantastic week!  

Con mucho amor,  

Hermana Bartholomew 

P.S. I started a little notebook of random observations and thoughts about Argentina and I'm going to try to send you all one per week, because they are pretty funny and random. 

Paper is long here... like normal printer paper is a good 2 inches longer than in the states... it’s just a little strange.  Haha sorry that was super random and unimportant, but just thought you all should know. ;) 

Crazy Cloud...someone please explain this to me?
Weekly Sunset
I'm pretty sure Hna Palma is getting sick of how many pictures I take of sunsets...
whoops, sorry - they are just my favorite

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mother Knows Best

December 7, 2015

2 MONTHS!! Wahoo!! Can you believe I've been gone for 2 months already?! Because I can't! Time is flying by my friends! And the best news is that there are only 2 more P-Days until I get to see all your beautiful faces for NAVIDAD!!  Oh I'm so excited! 

Well this week was hot and cold and rainy and cloudy and very very windy.  Glad that Argentina weather is just as bipolar as good old Utah.  Reminds me lots of home!  However, I am super tired of putting on sunscreen and then having it be super cloudy and cold, or wearing a sweater or jacket on a hot day and then having to lug it around. Haha - make up your mind Argentina!!

This is completely classic Argentina campo!  Lots of wheat fields.
(Con my filtered water bottle too haha)
Okay so funny story about that.  One night as we were leaving the house, Hna Palma told me to grab a jacket, but I was being all stubborn and didn't want to carry it around if I didn't need it.  So I didn't bring one - because I'm a tough missionary you know, I don't get cold right?  Wrong.   Haha it ended up being freezing cold that night and I regretted my decision lots.  I later admitted to my companion that she was right, and she started singing "Mother Knows Best" from the Disney movie Tangled.  Hahaha oh boy!  Too funny!  Glad I've got a mission mom to look out for me... next time I should probably listen to her though... ;) 

On Thursdays we have time for service, so we can go help out members, menos activos, or investigators for a couple hours.  This week we met up with the Hermanas in the bordering area- called Hospital.  We were painting a less active member's new apartment. We had a great time and the house looked great.  (Well, as great as it could look with 4 inexperienced missionaries painting it.)  Hna Palma and I needed to leave a bit earlier than the other Hermanas because we had an appointment to get to.  As we were saying goodbye, Hermana Recio was standing on a chair and had her paint brush and can in her can probably see where this is going.  When I gave her a hug, she slipped and paint went EVERYWHERE. RED PAINT.  Hahaha I was the lucky recipient of some of that paint on my shirt, shoes and arm and the rest went all over the ground.  It was hilarious!  Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me then but we took a picture when we got back to the house.  If you need a laugh today, just think of me riding on public transportation through Bahia Blanca with this lovely red spot on my shirt... :( But don't worry the paint came out! 

I HATE the color red...
My companion thought it was hilarious and couldn't stop laughing about the situation.  The best though was that night at our appointment, we were having a family home evening with a less active family and Hna Palma totally knocked over her cup of juice soda and that went everywhere too!  Haha we struggle a little bit to say the least!  Good thing I've got someone clumsy like me as my companion!

On Friday we had a Noche de Hogar (FHE) with our ward!  Honestly Barrio Villa Floresta is the BEST!  The members are awesome!  Granted, I still don't know what half of them are saying to me, but I love them none the less. For the entertainment, the youth and ward mission leader put together a little band (complete with a piano, two guitars, box for drumming, two singers, harmonica, and some weird accordion type thing).  The band sang a couple songs in Spanish and then the entire ward joined in on one.  No idea what they were singing about, but it was very entertaining! Then an announcement was made that everyone would sing a song in English as a welcome for me to their ward... AWWW :)  They gave the most heartfelt (and off-key) version of Coldplay's song "The Scientist".  It was awesome! I so wish I could send ya'll videos!!  Be excited to see them in 16 months!  It was great to hear music from the real world, let me tell you! It made me miss music from home a bit, but don't worry, I've got all the MOTAB and EFY music I could possibly want to keep me entertained ‘til I get home ;)

Well things are a little rough in the teaching department right now.  We don't really have many progressing investigators and due to the largeness of our area (is that even a word?) 

The poor feet of a missionary in Villa Floresta
It is really hard to plan when we will be able to visit people.  Luckily, we've got a great ward that is willing to help us and gives us lots of references!

This week I felt a lot more comfortable with the language in our lessons and they seemed to go much better - small victories my friends! A really great quote I heard in the MTC that has really helped me stay positive this week is, "God has a perfect plan for His imperfect children.  This is the good news you carry to the world."  We are not expected to be perfect, just to try our best and share this message of hope with everyone! 

I can't express enough my love and gratitude for you all!  Thanks for the uplifting emails and prayers every week.  They are really felt and needed.  Love and miss you all!  Enjoy all that Utah snow for me! 

Hasta luego y con mucho amor, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Sunset of the week