Thursday, March 31, 2016


March 31, 2016

Hola Familia!!! 

Well today I am writing you all from Olavarría - a city about 6 hours (by bus) away from Bahía Blanca [200 miles to the northeast].  That's right... I've been transferred away from my beloved Bahia Blanca, Villa Floresta y la Hermana Baird.  BUT... I'm still as happy as ever!! 

This week has been a little bit nuts and I don't quite know where to start.  :) 

So last Thursday we had our p-day with all the missionaries in our zone.  We went to the park and had an Easter egg hunt which was super fun!  We also painted eggs, and as a result, ate egg salad sandwiches the next day. :)  It was fun to be with our zone one last time because we all knew transfers were coming and that President was planning to change a lot of people and their areas.  

P-Day with our Zone - Selfie on the Bridge
They call us the "Triplets"
With Hermana Darrington
Chao Bahia - Our Last Picture together with the Zone

So Saturday morning we went over to the church to help the young women in our ward make cookies for new beginnings on Sunday.  As we were baking, our cell phone rang and it was one of the assistants to the President.  Now mind you, we were waiting for transfer calls but we never know when they are going to actually call during the day, so it’s pretty much just torture staring at the phone until they do call. 

So when the phone actually rang, we panicked and went in to another room.  Elder Chikoma started talking to Hermana Baird and was congratulating her on her new assignment and thanking her for being such a great missionary, etc.  My jaw dropped, and I immediately knew in my mind what he was referring to.  But in reality, we really didn't know for sure what he was talking about, so Hna Baird says "ELDER! What new assignment?!  What are you talking about?!"   Elder Chikoma goes silent for a moment and then started backtracking, "President hasn't called you?”  Ummm, NO!  He then proceeded to tell her that she had been called to be a new Hermana Entrenadora (sister training leader)!!!  What?!?!  So crazy!!  Haha it’s super funny too because the same thing happened when Hermana Palma left me a couple months ago.  I guess all my companions get called to be stl's right after they are done being my comp.  Haha too funny!  But yeah, from that phone call we knew for sure that we were being separated and that she was heading to a new area, but we still had to wait to hear about me. 

Our reaction when they told us we were being separated...NOT cool

Anyway, back to Saturday, poor Hermana Baird was freaking out a little bit, and we had to head right over to Hna Ortiz's house to have a lesson with Soledad.  It went well - we talked about the restoration of the gospel, and she accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon, pray and come to church with us on Sunday.  :)  We didn't have the heart to tell Hna. Ortiz right then that we were being transferred, so we just headed home to eat lunch and work on the area book for the next missionaries. 

Long story short, they tortured us by making us wait until 5pm that day to tell us where we were headed.  When we finally got that call, they told us that Hna Baird was headed to "White" which is just on the other side of Bahía Blanca from Villa Floresta.  Then we found out that I was headed to Olavarría... (6 hours away from Bahía in bus) and that I would be replacing Hna. Palma in an area called Mariano Moreno and would be paired with la Hermana Cardenas.  WHAT?!  :) So crazy!!  To be honest, I was super excited and actually mentally prepared and ready for a change - so it was perfect!  AND I get to be with another Latina!! Wahoo!

Hermana Baird and I spent the rest of the day packing and eating grilled cheese sandwiches as comfort food, because as excited as we were, we weren't quite ready to be separated... :(  

Sunday was a crazy blur of goodbyes at church and even a couple tears when they had us both share our testimonies in Sacrament Meeting as a goodbye... gosh that was hard.  Villa Floresta will always have a special place in my heart and I'm going to miss my ward family there lots!   

Saying Goodbye to my family in Villa Floresta - La Familia Luna
Familia Andrada

We will miss our Villa Floresta Ward Mission Leader and his wife

With our favorite abuela - Hermana Ortiz
Getting crazy with Hna. Ortiz

After church, we went home to eat and pack some more and then headed out to visit a few investigators and members to say goodbye to them.  Our last stop was to visit cute Tila with Hna Ortiz, and to sing to her one last time.  We made the dumb decision to sing "Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos” (God Be with You ‘til we Meet Again), and poor Hna Baird couldn't make it through the song.  We really have loved our time together in Floresta.  Cute Hna Ortiz walked us back home and that is where we said goodbye to our cute abuelita [grandma]

We had to be in the terminal at 5:30am on Monday morning to meet my new companion and then catch our bust to Olavarría at 6am.  I got to see Hna Palma in the terminal and also got to say goodbye to both my mission "moms" as I headed off with Hna. Cardenas. 

With my two "moms" in the bus station terminal

So like I said earlier, Olavarría is about 6 hours away from Bahía Blanca...but our colectivo [bus] decided it was necessary to stop in every single little pueblito [town] along the it ended up taking us 9 hours.  Luckily, we were able to sleep for most of it and then got to talk and get to know each other for the rest.

Selfie on the 9 Hour Bus Ride to Olavarria
The beautiful campo of Argentina that we looked at for 9 hours :)

Hermana Cardenas is from Mexico City and is 4’10”.  She has been in the mission for about 7 months and is just the cutest thing ever!!  I seriously feel like a giant compared to her, but it’s all good.  We get along great and have had lots of fun these first few days in Olavarría together, getting to know the area and each other. :)  

I'M HUGE!!!  hahaha She's too cute!!
Introducing Hermana Cardenas to SMORES :)
Bad hair day - it was just a bit windy on the bridge!

Olavarría is a lot more laid back and más tranquila que Bahía [calmer than Bahia] and I love it!  The streets are all paved and are super wide.  The people all talk pretty slow and clear and I really feel like I can understand them all…and that makes me very happy :).  

Olavarria, Argentina
Olavarria, Argentina
Olavarria, Argentina

But yeah, that’s about it.  Sorry if I rambled a lot today, it’s just that life’s been a little nuts with this big change and my head is still spinning.

I'm so beyond excited (as I'm sure you all are too) for this weekend when we get to watch General Conference.  I hope you all pay close attention and really strive to listen to the Spirit and apply what we will learn from our church leaders in a couple days.  We really are so blessed to have a Living Prophet and the modern day revalacion and instruction from other men and women called of God to teach and help us all improve our lives and strive to be better disciples of Jesus Christ every day.  
Love you all and hope all is great on the home front. :) 

Hasta luego! 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Classic Argentina Picture of the Week:
Yup - you are seeing that right...this is definitely a statue of a mother breastfeeding.
Found in a little park in Villa Floresta 

And finally, the last episode of Missionary Master Chef with Hermana Baird...making SMORES!

Super yummy!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Week Full of Miracles - ALELUYA

March 24, 2016
Hola Hola HOLA!  Buenos días familia y amigos!!
¡FELIZ SEMANA SANTA!  [Happy Holy Week]
Me...just being my awkward self with a crazy orange sky!!

Can you believe that it’s almost Easter?! Because I can't! 
Perhaps in a way similar to what this week was like for the Savior thousands of years ago, our week was full of miracles ;)
It all started with the lesson we had with Margarita (one of the three ladies we found in the street Curumalal the other week, remember her? Okay good.)  So Margarita had met the missionaries 20 years ago and had received most of the lessons, but for some reason or another lost contact with them until a few years ago when the hermanas found her again.  But once again, the timing wasn't exactly right and they lost contact until Hermana Baird and I found her name in the area book.  Margarita has a super old Book of Mormon with pictures inside and the angel Moroni on the front- it’s awesome! :)  But that's not the point here, ha-ha sorry.  So yeah, we started talking to Margarita and getting to know her and she shared an experience she had when her two sisters-in-law passed away.  She started asking us the most inspired questions about what our view is about death and as we started talking about the plan of salvation, you could tell things just started clicking and making more sense in her head. She told us that what we were saying interested her a lot and she had us come back a few days later to explain even more.  It was amazing.
As we were leaving her house, we got a call from a member with a reference of a 13 year old girl that wanted to come to church and to our ward’s youth activity night.  They asked us to pass by her house in a couple hours... umm okay!! And you'll never guess what her name is... Milagros- which literally means miracles in Spanish...WHAT?!
Then, later that day, right as we were leaving our house to go find Milagros, our favorite abuela [grandma] in all of Argentina, cute Hna. Ortiz called us and says "Hermanitas, I have a friend here in my house right now that would like a Book of Mormon, do you think you could dedicate it to her and bring it by my house before 4:30?" 
Okay - let's just pause for a second.... it's 2:45 right now and we have to walk 30 blocks to Milagros' house, and then walk (aka run) another 30 blocks in the opposite direction to Hna. Ortiz's house to meet her friend and teach her a little bit, all before 4:30.... yeah sure, okay... we can do this right? :)

I don't think I've ever power-walked so fast in my entire life!!!  Ha-ha we were at such a loss for words about what had just happened in the last few hours.  Sadly Milagros wasn't home but we had an awesome lesson with Hna. Ortiz and her friend Vanesa.  We gave her a Book of Mormon and committed her to read it and pray.  Hna. Ortiz is literally the most amazing member ever - I wish that everyone just called the missionaries when they have friends who could be potential investigators in their houses. ;)
To top it all off, a bunch of the youth in our ward have been working together to invite one of their friends named Hanna to church, and she came last Sunday! Wahoo!  They all wrote their testimonies in a Book of Mormon and gave it to her.... so yeah, she's a new investigator too.

Anyway, as you can see, we've got our hands full with lots of people to teach here in Villa Floresta.  And we had absolutely nothing to do with any of it.  That's what I love (and also what is a bit frustrating and hard at times) about missionary work.  Everything is on the Lord's time table and really is HIS work.  He blessed us with a lot of miracles this week and I feel honored to be His servant and representative to help all these people come to the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is real and that He love us.
And because He loves us, He sent His Son to live, die and live again.  Like the new Easter video from the church this year, with much awe, I say HALELUJAH every day for the fact that my Savior lives, and that through him I can find a new life and help others do the same.
Click on the link below to watch video:
Well, that's about it for this week.  Hna. Baird and I have to go to the park and hide candy for our Zone Easter Egg Hunt today. :)
Scouting out the park for our Easter Egg Hunt

Wishing you all a Happy Easter with the invitation to think about the many reasons you have to say ALELUYA cada día [HALELUJAH every day],
Hermana Bartholomew
P.S. Transfers are on Saturday and literally anything could happen, so some extra prayers would be much appreciated, thanks!  :)  LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

We are basically's fine :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Close Your Eyes Then, So You Don’t See Us

March 17, 2016
Buenos Días Familia y Amigos!
Well another week has come and gone here in Floresta and Bahía decided to heat up again... Yay...
Hermana Baird says I can officially get married now because I can make bread...
Hahaha...NO THANKS!! :)
Blessed.  When you and your companion both receive packages on the same day.

This week we had a really great lesson with Jessica.  We have been inviting her to come to church since we first started teaching her a couple months ago but she's never really showed any interest in coming.  This time we had a member come with us and we got talking about how Easter Sunday is coming up soon and also General Conference (which by the way I'm SOOOO excited for) and how they are both perfect opportunities to come to church for the first time.  So yeah, we're really praying hard that she will have the desire to come and feel the Spirit and the need for the gospel in her life.  If you all could keep her in your prayers too, that would be much appreciated. :)
Speaking of Jessica, she has a grandma named Estela that has been a member of the Church for 11 years but has been less active until recently.  Estela is the only member in her family and has a friend in the ward that brings her to church every week because she can't come on her own.  Why you ask?  Well, it’s because...she's blind. :)   One day, when Estela was in her early twenties, she woke up one morning and just out of the blue couldn't see.  The doctors had no explanation for her.  So crazy right?!  But she's amazing and has come to many of our lessons with Jessica. Oh my goodness you guys, I really just wish you could meet her because she is the funniest old lady ever!
For example, Estela didn't come to church this last week because Saturday night they had a birthday for Jessica's little baby and it went super late.  She slept in until 11am and missed church. :)  Then in the lesson, when we were talking about el día de reposo (day of rest - aka the Sabbath day), Estela says, "Yo tuvo mi reposo Domingo"-  I had my rest on Sunday!   Hahaha… too good!

Another time, we were in the Gospel Principles Sunday School class with Estela, our ward mission leader, Hermano Masillailla and Hermana Ortiz who I’ve told you about before.   Well, Hermano Mansilla asked Estela to give the prayer at the end of the class, but she got all embarrassed and was trying to get out of it.  So Hna. Ortiz says, "Bueno, cierra tus ojos para que no nos veas" – Well, close your eyes then, so you don't see us....Hahahaha!  Those two together, they just crack me up!
Anyway, our weekly music class is still going strong. This week, the youth decided to teach us how to play guitar and harmonica a bit and it was super fun to switch roles of students and teachers.  But, for right now I think I'm going to stick with piano...the other two are HARD! :)
Now we are the students!

Last, but not least, I want to tell you guys about Tila.  Another cute little old lady that is the mother of one of the members in our ward.  She had a stroke a while back and is now paralyzed on her right side.  As a result, she can't do much on her own and so she has people that come and look after her.  A while back, Tila was investigating the church, but now she can’t attend on Sunday because of her condition.  We have been passing by her house frequently to visit and see how she is.  A couple weeks ago we were visiting her and decided to sing her a hymn.  Ever since then, each time we go over she insists that we sing her at least 3 songs. :)  Oh, she's just too cute!
Singing to Tila
I really am so happy that I'm able to use my talents to help other people feel joy, and also that I can teach people to develop their own talents.  Even though I can't speak perfect Spanish, what I can do is share my other talents with everyone here.  In Matthew 25:14-30 we read about the parable of the talents that Jesus taught. 
Down here on my mission I have really become so much more grateful for the talents I have.  There are a lot of things I still lack and sometimes I let it get me down.  But when I look at all the talents and blessings my Heavenly Father has given me, and as I strive to further develop them and show him how much I appreciate them, He blesses me even more. 
I challenge you all to pay more attention to the talents the Lord has given you and strive to develop them and share them with others.
Love and miss you all lots! 
Espero que tengan una buena semana!!
Chao chao!

Hermana Bartholomew 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dodging Buses

March 12, 2016
Another week has come and gone super fast here in the flower village (Villa Floresta) and I really can't believe its p-day again!
This week I hit my 5 month mark - wahoo!!!  Gosh where has the time gone?! Super crazy!
This week I also had a near death experience... haha not really, well okay, kinda.  So Hermana Baird and I were walking the streets of our area casually on a Monday afternoon when all of a sudden one of the freaking colectivos (public buses) snuck up behind us to pull up to its stop, but instead of stopping before it hit us, it just kept going!  No worries, luckily we reacted in time and managed to awkwardly jump out of its way before getting hit for the viewing pleasure of all the passengers. :\  Oh gosh, thanks bus driver man!
Now as crazy as that experience sounds, something good actually came out of it.  The lady that got off at the bus stop started walking in the same direction as us, just a couple feet behind.  As we kept going, we were looking for a certain house, but of course, not all the streets have their names posted, so you kind of have to either have the order of the streets memorized or walk down it for a bit and check the house numbers. 
Anyway, let’s just say that after nearly 4 months of being in Villa Floresta, I've got the streets down right?  But right after this near death experience, I was still a little pumped up with adrenaline and confused about what had just happened and didn't know which street we were on.  So, I just decided to ask this woman that got off the bus if she knew where the street "Zapiola" was.  She told us it was still a couple blocks away.
We then just started talking to her about the bus incident and she just started laughing because she had seen it and thought the bus driver was crazy.  Anyway, long story short, her name is Juana and she is from the northern part of Argentina.  She is currently living here in Bahía Blanca with her uncle and working to provide for her family who are all still up north.  We were able to bond with her over being far away from family and also laugh about the whole bus thing.  It turned out to be a great contact.  We gave her a pamphlet about Christ and invited her to come to church this coming Sunday and she said she'll think about it. :)  All because we almost got hit by a bus... :)
We also had a lesson with Jessica this week.  She's still really awesome and there's no doubt in my mind that one day she'll make it to baptism.  But for right now, she just doesn't want to leave her comfort zone.  Ugh - a little frustrating, but we're going to keep working with her and I'm going to try to have more patience and trust in the Lord's timing.  :) 
This week for Missionary Master Chef, we made some super yummy chicken salad sandwiches and let’s just say the recipe was for like 6 people, not 2... so we may or may not have had to eat it like all week long. ;)  We also made some snickerdoodles for our neighbors and cute Hermana Ortiz... and we may have eaten a couple ourselves too. ;)  Haha you guys, my sweet tooth is getting the best of me...gotta do more ejercicios [exercises] in the mornings. ;)
Snickerdoodles for Servicio :)

Last but not least, we had zone conference this week.  Presidente Cifuentes talked a lot about obedience and agency.  He told us that the truth is, that as baptized members of the church who have CHOSEN to follow Jesus Christ and have made covenants with our Heavenly Father, we don't have agency.  Once we made that choice to follow Christ, all our other decisions are already made for us.  If we really desire to follow our Savior, we won't want to break the commandments or standards of God.  Now, that doesn't mean that we are forced to choose the right and that we aren't allowed to mess up... it’s going to happen.  But the important thing is that as covenant keepers, we are always striving to repent, improve, and follow Him.   If we don't, if we willingly submit to temptation and sin, we also lose our agency.  In many cases, things like addictions can take over, and Satan then has power over us and makes us think we have no hope or chance to change.

Now that sounds pretty harsh, but it’s the truth.  Lucky for us we have a loving Heavenly Father who has given us all the tools and help we need for us to stay on the path and make the right choices.   I was reading in Moroni Chapter 7 this week and read verses 12-19.  These verses are a guide of sorts to help us use our agency. 

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

 13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

 14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

 15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

 16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

 18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

 19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

I really like how verse 19 urges us to "seek diligently for the light of Christ."  I know that with His light in our lives, our daily choices and use of agency become so much easier.

I hope you all have a great week! 

Con muchisimo amor,

Hermana Bartholomew 

Pictures from this week:

At Zone Conference with Hermana Cifuentes - our Mission Mom!
She didn't get the funny face memo!

With some of our favorite ward members!
Feliz Cumpleanos Valentina

Thursday, March 3, 2016

We are Going to Have 200 More Kids!

March 3, 2016
Hola Familia y Amigos!
I seriously can't believe its p-day again... these weeks are just flying by!  Want to hear something crazy?!  Next Tuesday I'm going to hit my 5 moth mark in the mission...what?!?!  I still feel like I just left yesterday.
We Love Panadarias

Well we had a great week!  The weather has finally started to cool down and we've even had to wear cardigans in the early morning and evening somedays. :)  So yeah that’s been nice!  
Pano Fun!

Also, this week we were looking through our carpeta de area (area book-where we keep the teaching records of all the past investigators in the area) and we found 3 or 4 names in this one little hidden street of about 8 houses.  One morning we went and met Margarita, Karina and Estela - 3 different women in 3 different houses and they all were very kind and receptive and we were able to set up appointments to return and visit them again!  Ummm.... What?!  This is not normal to find 3 people in one day let alone in the same street!  Que milagro no? [What a miracle, no?] :)
Also, this week Jessica came back from vacation and we were able to have another lesson with her.  She is seriously tan Bueno [so good]!  She is so ready and knows that what we have taught her is true... solo falta actuar [she only lacks acting]!!!  It’s hard because her husband (who is not very religious at all) is always working and his only day off is Sunday.  So her excuse is that Sunday is their only day to spend together.  We've encouraged her to talk to her husband and keep reading the Book of Mormon and praying to get an answer.  But, we’ve also told her to take a step out of her comfort zone and act on the things we have shared with her to be able to grow and progress. 
The past couple weeks Hermana Baird and I have been teaching Music classes to some of the youth in our ward for service.  We've basically been teaching them how to lead music and the very basics of reading sheet music and playing the piano.  It has been super fun, but now that summer break is over and school has started again we probably won't get to teach them as often.  The truth is that Hna Baird did most of the teaching, but it’s been super fun nonetheless. :)  I’m glad we can use our talents to help others develop their talents too. 
Music Class

One of my favorite things about the mission is working with the less active members in our ward.  It’s really easy to talk to them and teach them because they have already accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ as the truth and have testimonies.  They just need to be reminded of that sometimes.  With our lack of lots of investigators that come to church, I have really been able to find joy and feelings of success when the less active or new convert members that we work with come to church. 
One couple we've been working with, Sol y Martin, got baptized about 3 years ago and recently moved into our ward.  We've been visiting them and helping them and their 3 adorable kids get settled into our ward and remain active.  The other day when we stopped by to visit them, we got talking and Martin mentioned that one of his good childhood friends had recently committed suicide.  You could tell that it had really affected him. Both Sol y Martin started to ask us a few questions about the plan of salvation.  We were able to explain it to them in a simple way and you could tell that it made a lot more sense and they felt comforted and hopeful for the future. We then talked about the importance of going to the temple to be sealed and about their goal to go in the next year or two.  When we told them that if they get sealed in the temple their family can continue to grow after this life, Sol got the biggest smile on her face and said, "We can have more kids??"  She told us that right now she's not able to have any more kids and then looked at Martin and said "Vamos a tener 200 hijos más!”  [We are going to have 200 more kids!] :)
It really was one of my favorite experiences so far in the mission because it reminded me of my purpose out here.  The reason I'm on the flip side of the equator walking miles and miles every day is to help people come to their Savior and the knowledge that through Him we can have our own eternal families.  Elder David Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in his conference talk in October of 2014, "Our desire to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with you is a reflection of how important these truths are to us."  The knowledge that I have that I can be with my family forever is so important to me, and my desire to give that knowledge to others is what helps me keep going, even when the work is hard. 
I hope you all have a great week and know that I love and pray for you every day.  Thanks for all your love and support!
¡Les amo!  Hasta luego!

Hermana Bartholomew