Monday, August 29, 2016

Tiza tiza ;)

August 29, 2016
Hola Familia!!
Well, this is the last time I will ever write home as a 19 year old little girl...because it’s BIRTHDAY WEEK!!! :)  Hehe I’m sooooo excited!!!  And the best news of all is that my birthday packages got here just in time - THANK YOU!!!!!!  It’s been killing me to have them just sitting under my bed this last week...but it has taught me a lot of patience – so thanks!!!
Well this week, it got cold again, and then warm again.... I seriously never thought that there existed a place with weather more bi-polar than Utah, but it does – here in Argentina.  It’s all good though, because soon enough you'll be hearing all my complaints about how hot it is. ;)
On Friday, a cute young women in our ward named Mariel turned 15, which is a huge deal here in South America, so our wonderful ward congregation all pitched in and worked together to throw her a quinceñera (a big coming of age party).  We were able to help them decorate a little and then we passed by the church for like 15 minutes to give our birthday wishes to cute Mariel.  It was just about the most adorable thing I've ever seen!

Sweet Mariel

Celebrating 15 years!!!

This week, we decided to get a little creative (stealing an idea from my mission bestie, Hermana Darrington) and we went to the plaza in el centro [the center of town] with the 4 other elders that are serving here in Olavarrìa.  After talking to the police and almost getting arrested (haha jk that part's a lie J), they gave us permission to draw the Plan of Salvation with tiza [chalk] right in the middle of the plaza.  As Hermana Ahlmer and I drew, the Elders talked with (and chased down) people to teach them about the Plan de Salvaciòn.  I think it went well, and above all, it was really fun!  Definitely nice to change things up a little and not have to rely on knocking door-to-door to contact people.
Artistas de tiza

The finished product - El Plan de Salvacion

Selfie with the crew
The Crew and our creation on the plaza
Pre-Earth Life & The Fall of Adam

Our Life on Earth & Death

The Spirit World: Paradise and Spirit Prison

The Resurrection & Final Judgement

The 3 Degrees/Kingdoms of Glory

Our investigators are progressing slowly but surely.  Last week I told you about a new investigator named Maleria.  My bad – her name is actually Valeria, which makes a lot more sense, right? ;)  She has continued to show interest, and we will see what happens when we teach her this week.  Of course, Juan didn’t make it to church again…ugh!
We did have a super cool experience though this week.  So there's a lady here in our area named Hilda that is the spunkiest and cutest 80 year old grandma ever.  She is a less-active member of the church that we have been visiting quite often.  Hilda lives with her granddaughter, Laura (non-member) who's in her late 30's.  Hilda has raised Laura since she was just a little girl because her daughter (Laura’s mom) had some mental health problems and couldn't take care of her. 
Well, this last week we went to visit Hilda like always, and when we walked in, we were given the sad news that Laura's mom had passed away.  In that moment I had no idea what to say or do and was just completely heartbroken for them.  As we sat and listened, my mind was going through different scriptures or things we could possibly share with them to bring some peace, but absolutely nothing was coming to my head.  As I opened up my Bible and started flipping through the pages, I came across 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and a verse that I had marked about faith, and something told me to just go with it.  As I helped Hilda find it in her Bible, the impression came to start reading a couple verses before those that I had marked.  We started reading in verse 8 and read through 18:
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The peace and spirit were almost tangible in the room.  Laura has always listened to us when we share stuff with Hilda during our visits but has never listened to us as intently as she did that night.  We shared a few tears and Hilda mentioned that Laura told her that she wants to accompany her to church this week.  Even though losing family members is not easy, I feel like this might be the time for Laura to be open to receive the gospel.  We are so excited to help her find the happiness and peace that only exists by coming unto Jesus Christ and receiving the ordinances of salvation found in His church.   
Hope you all have a great week and eat lots of cake in my memory on Thursday! :)  I LOVE YOU ALLL!!!!
Con amor y tiza,

Hermana Bartholomew 

Missionary Master Chef creation of the week:
We made quiche! was delicious ;)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Keep on Keepin' on

August 22, 2016
Hola Familia y Amigos,
Well another week has come and gone and I'm sitting in this little cyber in Argentina not remembering a thing that we did this week that is worth telling you about.  :) Whoops! Sorry – those are the problems of a bad memory and normal missionary week. 
Oh yeah... I remember now why this week seemed kind of normal, it’s because I got sick... AGAIN.  Holy freak...I seriously have the worst luck ever.  This is the third time this winter.  Tuesday night I started feeling super weird and with like some sort of body fever thing. You know when you can’t decide if you’re too cold or too hot and you have the shivers?  Yeah, that.  Anyway it was pretty miserable.  I took some Ibuprofen but it wasn’t really working so I called Hna. Cifuentes and she told me to go buy some antibiotic at the pharmacy.  Little by little it made me feel lots better and it only ended up lasting like 3 days instead of all week long.  #countingmyblessings.
So yeah, that was fun.  Also, we found a new investigator!!  Her name is Maleria (weird I know...) and she's a young mom with two daughters.  She has a couple of cousins that are members of the Church, but she's never learned about what it is that they really believe.  After we met her she invited us right into her home and we were able to teach her about Jesus Christ and the restoration of the gospel and it went well.  We’ll see where things go these next couple weeks, but she seems to have lots of interest so we have very high hopes. :)
Also, Juan finally made it back to church!!! (After like 3 months without coming.)  Alejandra has been super sick for over a month and they've used that as their excuse when really Juan just didn't want to come alone.  We had a member call and invite him to come and this guy even went by and picked him up.  Juan seemed super happy to be able to make it back!  We had a great lesson with them this week teaching about the plan of salvation again.  The first and last time we had taught them was way back in April and they had forgotten lots of things.  It really gave them a better big picture of why all the things we are teaching them and inviting them to do are so importante (i.e. coming to church, reading the scriptures, keeping the commandments in general...).  They still have a long way to go, but we love them and want to do all we can to help get them there!!!
These last 5+ months here in Olavarrìa have been so great but a lot of work at the same time!  I’ve definitely had lots of ups and downs and have learned to have a “keep on keepin’ on” attitude through it all.  I read an article by one of the General Authorities, Elder David Evans in the Liahona magazine from June of this year about tenacity and discipleship.  He said, "la tenacidad en el Evangelio sea esta: pase lo que pase, continuar teniendo fe en Dios y en sus promesas, y hacer lo correcto en todo momento, sin importar quién lo sepa." (sorry I only have it in Spanish) [Translation – tenacity in the Gospel is this: no matter what happens, continue to have faith in God and His promises, and do what is right all the time, regardless of who knows.
We have transfers in a short 3 weeks and I have a feeling my time here is coming to an end... but until then, come what may, I'm going to love it and keep on keepin’ on right up until the end!!  I’m excited for another week of work! :)
Wishing you all the very best week,
Con amor y panqueques,
Hermana Bartholomew

Pictures from the week:

P-Day = Pancakes! :)
Missing Jack Johnson today....makin' banana pancakes.
Yankee pancakes for our favorite ward members - Joaquin y Lujan
With my Argentine Sister - Lujan
What are we doing??
Learning lots more in the mission than I ever thought I would about HAIR! :)
Hermana Ahlmer bleaching her locks...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Loving Being a Missionary

August 15, 2016

HOLA fam bam!!  Como están?!  

Well, the truth is that Hermana Ahlmer and I had a very good (and warm) week here in Olavarrìa and we are loving life!  We are super exhausted at the end of every week but take a nice siesta on P-day, so it’s all good. :) 

We LOOOOVE was about time to teach my child how to make them! :)
Empanada CRAZY!

Sadly, this week nothing super interesting happened.  We contacted lots of new people and visited a bunch of members to ask for references, but were only able to teach a few lessons to our investigators because they were either too busy or they canceled our appointments. :(  But it’s all good.  Every day we keep finding new people…some that are super nice, great to talk to, and seem promising, and others that aren't so much those things; but little by little we are doing our best to help people learn of Jesus Christ and progress in their spiritual journey.  Above all, we keep working hard and are trying to have fun along the way. 

Speaking of having fun... are you ready to hear another classic "Megan moment"?  Soooo....we were out contacting one morning in a part of town I haven't been in much during my time in this area.  We were going from house to house, knocking on every door and we get to this house that's a little bigger and nicer than all the rest.  Right after I rang the doorbell, I hear my companion say, "ummm... Hermana...." with her finger pointing up.  I look up and see a sign that says "Bienvenida" [Welcome] and a huge stained glass window with a cross and realized that we had just rang the bell of the local Catholic Church.  :)  In that moment, I panicked a bit…not knowing what to do…so I did the only thing that came to mind - I quickly grabbed my companion’s arm and we tried our best not to look suspicious as we speedily walked away.  Can you believe it?  WE TOTALLY DOORBELL DITCHED A CATHOLIC CHURCH!! AHHHH!! :)  But don't worry, it was early in the morning and I don’t think there was even anyone inside.  Still, it was just such an adrenaline rush haha...whoops!!  Even though my comp died my hair a few weeks ago, I guess my blonde roots still show sometimes.  ;) 

This week during personal study, I was reading from Alma Chapter 26.  This might have to be my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon (but then again I say that for every chapter I really like).  This chapter is the words of Ammon (who was one of the greatest missionaries ever) basically giving a recap of his mission.  I like it so much because I find it to be a guide on how to have a successful and happy mission (and life too ;) ).  I especially love the verse that says, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things…”  He also goes on to say, “Behold, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”  Let's be honest, I'm pretty awful sometimes at expressing my feelings in general, let alone through email, but let’s just say that I love being a missionary and I am happy!  Yep, that’s all. :) 

Well, I hope you all have a great week!!  Never forget how much I love you and that your Heavenly Father loves you so much more!!!! 

Con amor y ladrillos,

Hermana Bartholomew 

With our favorite recent convert, Lujan
Lujan is basically my Argentine big sister! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Walking on Sunshine :)

August 8, 2016
Hola Familia y Amigos from a very sunny day here in Olavarrìa!!
Good morning from SUNNY Olavarria!
I'm going to be honest, the weather these past couple months has been so ugly, cold and sad that I never thought it would get better... but this week has been a dream!!!  It's been sunny, pretty warm and the days have started getting longer too! :)  I just wish it would stay like this forever instead of getting super duper hot again...
This week was great!!  Hermana Ahlmer and I have been working super hard while enjoying ourselves too.  One highlight was taking a tour of our favorite panadería (bakery), 
Now that's A LOT of flour!
Working the oven
The "pan" man 
This bread is called "pan de miga" and they use it to make special little tea sandwiches
and we also invented a new game called Rolling Pin Baseball. :)  
The things we do to have fun...
Playing baseball with a rolling pin is safe, right?! ;)

But the best part of the week was that we had much better luck and were able to find and teach quite a few new people! 
First there's Pablo.  Pablo and his family own a little store in front of their house and Hna Ahlmer and I started buying avena (oats) from them every week to make oatmeal for breakfast in the morning. (The super yummy and convenient Quaker oatmeal packets don't exist here…sad, I know.)   About a month ago, Pablo started talking to us and asking us questions like why we are here in Argentina, etc. and eventually about the gospel.  He knows the Bible VERY well and when we told him about how we had another book that is similar to the Bible, it sparked some interest.  So, one day we took Pablo a copy of the Book of Mormon and a couple weeks later were able to teach him about the Restoration of Christ’s Church to the earth.  At first he was super hesitant and wasn't really open to the story about Joseph Smith's first vision, and the translation of the Book of Mormon.  But with time, you could tell he started to feel the Spirit, and he is now excited to keep reading the Book of Mormon, “together with the Bible to see if he finds any errors," but he also said he would pray about it.  We'll see what happens!
Next, the other day we were out contacting people and we knocked on the door of a young mother named Tamara and her mom who was living with her named Marcela opened and let us right in. Tamara... MarcelA....coincidence?  I think NOT. :)  They are super great and interested in learning more too. 

Finally, we also had a cool experience on Sunday night while we were out contacting.  Sunday is the last day of our work week, and based on our monthly goals, we needed to have 13 contacts this week. (In our mission, we only count talking to someone as a contact if they give you an appointment to come back and teach them.  It doesn't matter how many doors you knock, we’ve got to find those that are interested in our message.) 
When half of the people here in Argentina talk to you through their door... have to get creative with blindfolds to practice contacting, right?!  hahaha - no joke :)

Well, come Sunday night, we needed 4 more contacts to reach our goal.  Possible, but a little hard in our area, especially when we were quickly loosing daylight.
But, we had the dedication and determination to meet our goal, and coupled that with faith that the Lord would help us and just started knocking on every door we could.  We had some success and had made 3 contacts when it was completely dark, and we needed to head to a street with more lights. As we left the 3rd house, I said a quick prayer to my Heavenly Father, asking for help and guidance to find the last house that we should knock. My comp and I walked a couple blocks and we both felt prompted to knock on the same door. 
An older couple named Susana and Miguel opened the door and after introductions, they let us right in.  They had lost their son a couple of years ago and we were able to leave them with a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation and the role of families in God’s plan.  We also made an appointment to pass by their home again later this week.  As we walked away, we were all smiles!  One, because we had reached our goal, but more importantly because by being persistent and showing faith, the Lord led us to find some of our lost brothers and sisters to help. 
In our Missionary guidebook, Preach My Gospel, we read, "Hay màs posibilidades de lograr la felicidad en la vida familiar cuando se basa en las enseñanzas de Jesucristo y cuando la familia ocupa el lugar màs alto prioridad para los padres." [Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ and when parents make their family their highest priority.]
I know that the reason I am halfway across the world writing this email to you all is thanks to my great parents that raised me in a home centered and based on Jesus Christ and gospel teachings.  I want nothing more than to help these people here in Olavarrìa come to the same knowledge and have that same happiness in their lives. 
I hope you all have a great week!!  I love and miss you lots!
Con amor y folletos,
Hermana Bartholomew

P.S. Can you believe I completed 10 MONTHS!!! Because I sure can't!!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Still Together in Sion

August 1, 2016

Hola Familia! 

Bueno, this week, nothing super crazy happened.  In fact, on the contrary, it was actually super tranquilo and nice.  Probably because our sink didn’t break and we were actually in our area for the entire week haha.  Being here also allowed for us to try to eat healthy to make up for all the alfajors y facturas that we eat all day, every day. :)

Going green...

 Well, another transfer has come and gone and my hija and I are still together in Sion :) (aka Olavarría) and very happy about that!  It’s still as cold as ever, but we are enjoying every minute because as miserable as this cold can be, it’s better than an Argentine summer haha.  

It has been REALLY cold.  Good thing I have snow boots :)

Sadly, Marcelo has lost interest in the gospel a bit and has decided that getting baptized isn't what he wants to do right now.  That was tough to hear, but we'll see what happens down the road.  Also, we had some great lessons with Juan y Alejandra these past couple weeks.  They have started reading more in the Book of Mormon and have been praying.  They also promised us that they would come to church this week...but, yep you guessed it, they didn’t make it again.  So that’s a bummer too.  

As you can see, we have slowly been losing some of our most promising investigators these past couple weeks and that hasn't been very fun or easy.  BUT, my companion and I have been doing our best to stay positive, be obedient, do all that we can and leave the rest to the Lord. 

In Alma 16:16-17 we read, “The Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming.  That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God.

As missionaries, we have our ups and downs - times when things are going great, and times when it seems like everything falls apart.  It’s especially in these tough times that we must put our faith in the Lord and trust Him.  We must believe that He truly is preparing people for us to find and help bring back to Him so that they too might "enter into His rest."  

So these next few week, Hermana Ahlmer and I are going to be knocking lots of doors looking for those that are ready and encouraging the members here to help find and prepare those they know too.  With faith, trust and hard work (aka pixie dust) we can do it!!! 

Getting the members involved in the work :)
With Alberto y Angelica

I know this gospel is true with my whole heart and I'm so grateful for the chance that I have to share it! 

Wishing you all a fantastic week! 

Con mucho amor y monos, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Super blurry picture with our District