Monday, June 27, 2016

Es un Mundo Pequeño (after all)

June 27, 2016


I hope you are all sitting down to read this because I’ve got a super crazy story coming your way...... LISTOS?!

Okay, so once upon a time, way back in December, I received an email from one of my friends telling me that Sam Ahlmer, another girl from our graduating class at Corner Canyon High School, had gotten her mission call to Bahía Blanca.  As you guys know, I've got a couple good friends from high school that are serving down here with me and we were all super excited to hear that another fellow Utahan (and CCHS Charger) was headed our way.  

Well, fast forward to Tuesday evening...I took a bus to Bahía and we stayed the night at the Hermanas apartment in the sector Hospital.  When we were there, they mentioned that they heard that Sam was coming in the group of newbies the next day.  I got super excited because I was going to be able to see her and surprise her too.  

So Wednesday morning, the Latino missionaries had already arrived and we started talking to them and getting to know them as we waited for President Cifuentes to arrive with the Yankees (because their plane got delayed).  I still had no clue who my hija [daughter/trainee] was going to be and was just super nervous and excited to find out.  Finally in walks President with the newbies from the States, and I immediately saw Sam and quickly went over to say hi give her a big hug!  As we were freaking out a bit, President just looks at us and goes, "Wait, you guys know each other?!"  Haha yep!!  We went to school together!

Next, we ate breakfast and then had some orientation meetings – the trainers were in one room and the newbies were in another room separate from us.  Finally, we went into the chapel and the assistants to the President put up a slideshow reveal of who would be training who.  I sat on the trainer’s bench just shaking to death with anticipation.  As you all have probably guessed by now, I was SHOCKED out of my mind when I found out that my hija is HERMANA AHLMER!!!!!  Like, what?!?! 

She looks nothing like her mother ;)
Are we really in Argentina right now??
Didn't we just graduate together?!?!  This is too weird, I still can't believe it!!

So after freaking out some more, President looks at us and says, "That was pure inspiration, I had no idea you guys knew each other."  

Last week when I found out I was going to be training, at first, I really wanted to have a Latina hija because I felt inadequate and scared to train a Yankee.  But, in that moment, I was able to really feel the Spirit and know that as crazy as this all is, that it’s part of God's plan for me and Hermana Ahlmer.  I know there's a reason we got put together to be companions and I'm super excited and honored for the chance to be her mom, teach her all I know (which isn't very much, but oh well), and also learn from her.  

I'll be honest with you all, I really feel like I have no clue what I'm doing, but we're just gonna keep on keepin’ on and pray lots these next few weeks and months. :) 

We're still getting settled in and introducing my new comp to all the investigators and members so it’s going to be a bit crazy these first couple weeks…especially because she can't understand much.  Haha poor thing.  Been there, done that.  I'm just glad I can help her feel good and happy - even if she has no clue what's going on. ;) 

Starting off on the right foot ;) hahaha

First rainy P-day for my hija
Welcome to Olavarria...and winter in Argentina

Well, I hope you all have a great week!! I love and miss you all; and thank you for all of your love and support!!! We've got an adventure ahead folks... 

Con amor y pan, 

Hermana Bartholomew

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What to expect when you're expecting...

June 21, 2016


So as you can tell, P-day got moved to Tuesday for this week due to transfers.... and as you have probably guessed by my email title.... I’M GOING TO BE A MOM!!!!!!! AHHHH!!!  Today, I head to Bahía Blanca to pick up MY HIJA!!!!!  Oh boy... let's be honest, I'm freaking out. :)  But at the same time I'm oh so excited!!  That being said, to any and every returned missionary out there that has had to train a newbie - any and every piece of advice you can give will be much appreciated!! THANKS. 

Getting the house all ready for my new companion.
[The sign says "Little daughter, welcome to the best mission in the world Bahia Blanca Argentina
with much love, your mom Hermana Bartholomew

On the down side of this change, my dear Hermanita Cardenas is leaving me a devastating 10 days before her birthday. :(  We were so excited to celebrate together, but I suppose the Lord has got bigger and better plans for us right now.  I'm so, so, grateful for the time I had with her though.  She really is the greatest and I'm super excited to go visit my little Mexicana someday. :) 

Packing up Hermana Cardenas

The last time playing with my comp's beautiful hair :)

At the bus terminal in Olavarria

Saying goodbye is never easy

We had super good luck this week because there was a leadership meeting in Bahia, so our zone leaders had to go into the mission office…and the package you sent with the doctor from New York was already there!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!  Literally the best surprise ever!!!  I love it all!!!!!!!!  You guys rock!!!!! 

Package from home
Missionary Master Chef!!!

So yeah, with transfers, this week has been a bit crazy.  But before I go I want to tell you about one of our investigators named Angelica.  

Angelica is the girlfriend of one of the recent converts here in our area named Alberto.  Alberto got baptized the weekend before I got transferred here to Olavarría, and ever since he's been very faithful in coming to church every week with his noviacita [girlfriend] Angelica.  She's Catholic, and at first was super closed off to us and the Church.  She only came just came to accompany Alberto.  However, over these past few months, she's started having more and more interest in the Church.  Little by little we have helped her learn how to pray; we gave her her own Book of Mormon (she always was very curious and wanting to read Alberto's but he didn't want her to lose his place haha); and now she's participating in the lessons and in Gospel Principles class at church every week.  On Sunday, she shared her feelings with the class about how good she feels every time she comes to our church and that she knows that this is the right path to take and that Alberto is going to baptize her! :)  The only problem is that they have been living together and need to get married first.  After we take care of that little detail, Alberto can receive the priesthood, and then he can baptize Angelica so she can become a member too! :)  

At church with Alberto y Angelica
It has been so amazing to see the change that the gospel has made slowly but surely in Angelica’s life.  I know this Church is true and that it brings a happiness and peace that cannot be found anywhere else.  

President Hinckley said, "It will be a great day when our people not only pray for the missionaries throughout the world, but ask the Lord to help them to assist the missionaries who are laboring in their own [area]."  

I am beyond grateful for all the prayers and support you all constantly are sending my way!  But this week, I want to challenge you all to not only pray for the safety and protection of the missionaries in the world, but also pray to be able to help the missionary work in your own city or town!!  I never understood the true importance of helping the missionaries before my mission but now I know that the work is 100 times easier and more efficient when the member and missionaries work together.  Please take the time to prayerfully consider all the people in your life and ask your Heavenly Father for help and guidance to know which of His children YOU can help bring back to him.  

Wishing you all a fantastic week!

Con mucho amor, 

(a very nervous and excited) 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Pictures from this week:

Fun winter time animal socks!

Olavarria at night from the balcony of Familia Garcia's Apartment

Olavarria, Argentina

I'm going to miss my little Mexicana

La Familia Garcia

Princess Sofia Garcia

Monday, June 13, 2016

I'm made for Utah weather

June 13, 2016


Guys.... IT’S FREEZING HERE!!!  Haha don't get me wrong, I prefer to be cold rather than sweating to death but this whole "humid cold" thing, I just can't get used to it.  Let’s just say I miss the dry heat and dry cold of good old Utah!!!!  Luckily, we've had lots of people to visit and teach this week so we haven't had to be stuck out in the cold walking around and contacting so much. 

The cold never bothered us anyway...;)

This week I completed 8 months in the mission and today my comp completes 10.... it’s a bit nuts!!!  We seriously have no clue where the time went!  Transfers are this coming Saturday and we are just hoping and praying that we can stay together one transfer more!! 

We've got our hands quite full with lots of different investigators including 5 couples that aren't married.... so that’s basically our challenge in the moment - trying to help these people learn and gain a testimony that this is the true church so that they will see the need and feel the desires to get married so that they can get baptized!  Don’t ask me why no one in freaking Argentina seems to be married, it just gives me a headache! J

One of the unmarried people that we are teaching is named Gonzalo.  He's 18 (but looks like he's 23) and he and his girlfriend just had their first baby like 1 week ago.  Cool story - the night that Elvira called us to cancel her baptism (we were obviously super bummed, and still too shocked to cry) we kept walking and had a little bit of time before we had to be back home so we pushed on and felt we should knock on his door.  That was a very hard night, but because we kept going, something good came out of it and we were blessed to be able to find Gonzalo.  Even though he's not married and still has a long way to go before he can get baptized or anything, the important thing is that we found him and at least can start to plant the seed of the gospel in his life.  

However, we do have a new investigator named Marcelo that is 34 and SINGLE! J So we're trying our best to work with him and help him progress.  We asked him if he had prayed about whether the Book of Mormon is the word of God and he said that he knows it is without any doubt.  He added, if not, we wouldn't be in his house teaching him again.  J  Now he's just got to come to know that our church is true so that he can join it and also stop doing his weird spiritual practices.  

Over the past few weeks we have been working a lot with some less active members.  Two of them came to church on Sunday!!!  One of them hadn't been to church in over 5 months, so it was a very good day! 

With one of the less active members that came to church on Sunday :)

 Funny story, Hna Cardenas and I found this spice packet thing for Pollo picante (spicy chicken).  Now if any of you know me, you know that I'm kind of a wimp with spicy foods and am not one to eat very much.  And obviously my comp is Mexican, and LOVES picante and is always talking about how the picante here is nothing compared to Mexico and that she hasn't tried anything here in Argentina that was really spicy for her.  Anyway, long story short, we gave it a try and let’s just say that I drank a good 3 glasses of water and had to use the bathroom lots that day, while my companion just sat there smiling and laughing.  According to her, it wasn't spicy at all.  Oh boy.... wish me luck if I ever go to Mexico someday to visit her! 😂

Sorry I don't have much else to say, just a normal and very cold week here in Olavarría! J 

I love and miss you all, and hope you have a great week!!

Also, a Happy early Father's Day shout out to Papa Bart, I LOVE YOU!!! 

Hasta luego, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Another SELFIE that I took with Hermana Cardenas' camera...haha she loves me ;)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Opposition in All Things

June 6, 2016

Hola Familia y Amigos!!

So this week I found another hidden talent of mine when Hna. Cardenas asked me if I have ever dyed someone's hair before.  Haha…NOPE!  But she has an unhealthy level of trust in me and I just smiled and acted like I knew what I was doing. :)  Luckily, it didn't turn out too bad and she still loves me! :)  So yeah, that was fun!

Oh, the things you learn to do on a mission!

On the bright side of this week, we were able to find and teach many new investigators that have lots of potential.  We really have our hands quite full but we are enjoying being able to help all of these people - investigators and less active members alike.  

Now for some not so great news... 

On Friday, we went to visit Elvira and had planned to teach her a lesson and then plan out some of the details of her baptism that we had set for this coming week on June 11.  When we got to her home, she said, “I’m so sorry, but I invited a friend over to join us today, is that okay?”  We eagerly replied, “YES, of course!!”  Elvira explained that her friend, Alejandra, was struggling a bit in life and so she had told her that she knew two chicas [girls] that could help her.  :)  So we talked a bit with Alejandra and were able to teach her about God’s Plan of Happiness for our lives, and the restoration of Christ’s Church.  When we finished teaching, Elvira told Alejandra that she knew that everything we were teaching was true.  It was awesome!  Then, after Alejandra left we were able to talk to Elvira and work out the details for her baptism on the 11th.    We told her to invite her family and all of her friends and that we would see her in church on Sunday.  Todo bien, verdad? [Everything is good, right?]

Well, now fast forward to Saturday afternoon.  Hermana Cardenas and I were out knocking on doors and visiting people when we get a call from Elvira.  She started the call by saying that she wasn't going to come to church on Sunday.  Then she dropped the bomb that her husband doesn't want her to get baptized and also doesn't want us to come visit anymore.  She said, “Thanks for everything chicas, but we're just going to have to be friends and leave it at that.”  We asked if we could come by and visit her and talk about it more, but she basically asked us to kindly leave her alone.  

To say the least, we are heartbroken.  

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi talks about experiencing similar feelings of disappointment for those who rejected his teachings.  In 2 Nephi 33:2-4 we read,

“But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.

But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.

And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have [SPOKEN] in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good…and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.”

Saturday night, our pillows were wet as we thought about our dear friend Elvira and all the amazing times we had with her, helping her find the peace and happiness that can only come through having faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  Like Nephi, I know that the things Hermana Cardenas and I have SPOKEN in weakness to Elvira are of great worth – faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. 

Nephi’s father, Lehi taught that there must be opposition in all things.  Sometimes we need to remember that Satan is real and he will always work against us when we are doing something good.  Even with this knowledge, it’s still really hard to see Satan disrupt things when we have been working so hard to help our sister Elvira come to the truth.  I guess it is in these moments when we have to hold on to our testimonies, have faith in God, and work hard to fight back.  

Right now, my companion and I have to overcome the feelings of sadness, disappointment and even failure – because there are more souls to save.  We have to keep going, keep giving it our all until the very end.  That's what our Savior did for us, and is what our Heavenly Father has asked of us, and we aren't going to let Him down!

As hard as this week has been, I know that tomorrow is a new day and that my Heavenly Father is looking out for me.  Jesus es mi luz y no temerè!! [Jesus is my light and I will not fear!!]

Con todo mi amor, 

Hermana Bartholomew

Selfies to make up for not taking any pictures this week!

I LOVE this crazy Mexican companion of mine :)