Monday, January 30, 2017

Elder Stevenson

January 30, 2017

Hola Familia y Amigos! 

Well another week has come and gone but this week something super special happened... We had zone conference!!  Haha just kidding.  Well, we really did and it went well, but even more exciting was the big mission conference we had this weekend in Bahia Blanca with one of the 12 Apostles, ELDER STEVENSON!!! 

So Friday night my comp and I hopped on a bus with like 30 other missionaries here in Mar del Plata, and when we woke up, we were in Bahia.  

So tired...we left MDP at like 12:30 am and pulled into Bahia at around 8.  #roadtrip

We quickly got ready in the church bathroom and headed into the chapel full of all the 178 missionaries in the Argentina Bahia Blanca Mission.  Like I mentioned last week, I had been asked to play the piano, so my comp and I got ushered to the front row where we sat nervously waiting for like 2 hours for the apostle to come.  While we waited, we watched a recording of a missionary broadcast from Salt Lake that took place last week, and about an hour before Elder Stevenson arrived we got a bathroom break.  

During the break, you should have seen me running around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to find MY NIETA!!!!  It was so fun to see my first hija Hna Ahlmer again and meet my granddaughter - Hermana Watkins from Logan Utah.  She's blonde just like her mom - nothing like her abuela ;) and is just my pride and joy in the mission!  J The poor girl was probably so freaked out, thinking like who is this random missionary that's so obsessed with me?? ;) Let's just say that I officially completed my life goal and got my 3 generation mission picture. ;)  Also, I ran into my Peruvian hija Hermana Quenta!! Man I've missed her!

Me, my first hija Hna Ahlmer, and mi nieta Hna Watkins
I know what you are thinking...they look nothing like me ;)
The Argentine sun may have made my hair blonde...but I'm not that blonde ;)

ANYWAY, onto more important things than my mission posterity...we headed back into the chapel and I played prelude for a good 10-15 mins.  Then we all stood up and as Elder Stevenson and his wife walked into the chapel and up onto the stand.  He came right up to me to shake my hand and say good morning before sitting down.  I then played the piano as he took the time to have each missionary line up to shake his hand, and at the end, I hopped off the stage and got to be the last one to shake his hand again. :) Haha so blessed! ;) I seriously can't thank my parents enough for putting me through piano lessons all those years and for my great teacher, Carolyn Bristol, who had so much love and patience with me.  I feel like I've been preparing my whole life for this one day to play the piano! ;)  But I’m honestly really grateful for the chance I got to play. 

The meeting was so great!! I've grown up seeing the apostles and prophets on TV or from a distance in the conference center all my life, but I have never personally met one and been so close as they give a talk.  His cute wife talked first and mentioned how when Elder Stevenson was a mission president in Japan, she would sometimes have a hard day, and whenever that happened, all she needed was to be around the missionaries.  She said "Missionaries are like medicine," the spirit and love they carry is unique and that she loves being around them.  

Elder Stevenson then talked, and we were told that the meeting would end at 12 pm so he was only going to talk for about 30 mins but he ended up talking an extra hour with us!  He talked a lot about obedience and gave us this formula for life...OBEDIENCE = BLESSINGS = HAPPINESS.  He then pulled out a little white missionary handbook that contains all the rules that we as missionaries have and are expected to live.  He asked, "Do you know why missionaries have so many rules?  Because they need blessings.  Missionaries should be the happiest people on earth because they have the chance to obey so many rules that will bring them so many blessings that will make them happy."  Like I've told you all many times before, I truly am so happy being a missionary, and from what Elder Stevenson taught us, I finally understand why.  Even though I’m far from being perfect, I’m trying my best and the Lord has blessed me and those that I am teaching so much.  And as a result I’M HAPPY!  

I will never forget the spirit that I felt as Elder Stevenson talked to us on Saturday.  Especially as he shared his testimony of the Savior.  I know that he is a man called of God to be a special witness of Christ, and that he has His authority.  I am so grateful for the leaders of the church and for all that they do to help us as missionaries and members…how they inspire us to keep going and doing the best we can every day. 

A few other random thoughts Elder Stevenson shared with us were... "The Lord's work is WORK, but it is a sweet work."  "At the end of your missions you should be happy and tired."  I can really testify to I am coming up on the end of my 18 months as a missionary... I'm more tired than I’ve ever been before in my life...but I'm also happier than ever!!  

I hope you all have a great week and remember the formula for being happy!! 

Con amor y apĆ³stoles, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Draper kids in Bahia after the mission conference
It's been over a year since we were all together...time is flying!!

Last P-day we spent 3 hours putting together this BYU football puzzle :)

Best decision ever...hahaha


Monday, January 23, 2017

¿got fe?

January 23, 2017

Hola familia y amigos!!

Random picture...GIANT PEAR!

Hope you're enjoying a nice peaceful winter in Utah because I'm dying of heat and suffering from claustrophobia with how many people are here in Mar del Plata on vacation.... IT’S NUTS!  It will all be over in like 1-2 months though... I can make it right? J

Well, this week I have some really great news.... 

1 - Remember my investigators in Olavarria, Claudia and her kids Yael and Francisco??  Well, THEY GOT BAPTIZED THIS WEEK!!!!!!! I'm still waiting for someone to send me photos so hopefully I’ll send some next week, :) but I am just so so happy for them and the choice they have made to follow our Savior.  It wasn't easy, but these last few weeks as I've been able to communicate through email with them since I left Olavarria, I have been able to see how prepared they truly are in this moment and the happiness the gospel has brought to their lives.  Yael and her sister Ludmila are even going to EFY this next weekend with the youth so that's super exciting too!!! 

Yael sent me this picture last week of her and her family at the church

2 - So it just so happened that on Saturday evening, while Claudia and family were being baptized in Olavarria, Hermana Davidson and I had a lesson here in Puerto with our investigator Gloria.  When we got to her home, she had a surprise for us.... ICE CREAM šŸ¦!!  She knows us so well! ;)  It was like 100 degrees all day and she said she was thinking about how hot and tired we probably were from walking out in the street all day so she bought us ice cream.  What a sweetheart right?!?!  Best investigator EVER!  But let's stop talking about my favorite food group and actually get to the lesson. 

So we talked to her a little bit more about baptism to help her better understand the covenant that we make and help her feel ready for this step.  We read in the Book of Mormon with her from Mosiah 18:8-10, and focused on the part that talks about that if we have desires to follow Christ and serve him and others, what's stopping us from doing it and getting baptized? Gloria expressed to us how her family (minus her dad who is already a member) doesn't support her in the decision to be baptized. In that moment, I felt impressed to share the story of a really good friend of mine that went through a similar situation before her baptism a couple years ago.  As I testified to Gloria about the importance of the decision she is making and how her Heavenly Father is so happy and proud of her and will help her every step of the way, I just felt such a peace and happiness in knowing that God really prepares his missionaries to find and teach the people that he knows need them.  I know that our Heavenly Father loves each of us and is always looking out for us and puts the people that we need, and that need us, in our path.  

So long story short... we helped Gloria feel better and set up her baptism date.... FEBRUARY 18th!!!!! :) Hna D and I are so excited for her and are so so happy and grateful to be able to meet her, teach her, and help her make this important choice in her life.  

I hope you all have a fantastic week!! Don't be too jealous on Saturday when you think of me getting to listen to an apostle speak to my mission ;) 

Con amor y leche, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

ps I think our awesome week had lots to do with this milk that I bought...It had a boost of FE (faith) ;) 

pps.  I hate bagged milk.... 

I'm so sick of bagged milk...someone please give me a gallon...NOW!!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mi Primera Nieta

January 16, 2017

Hola familia y amigos!! 

Well, another week has come and gone and I have got some pretty exciting news... I’M GOING TO BE A GRANDMA!!!!!! That's right... my firstborn daughter, Hermana Ahlmer, is going to be a mom (aka train a new missionary)!!!  And she's still serving in my first area, Villa Floresta.  So my granddaughter is going to be born (start the mission) where I did!!!  What a crazy coincidence right??  Anyway, I’m just super happy and already thinking of little presents I can send her from Mar del Plata ;) 

This week we had our Capilla Abierta here in barrio Puerto and it was good!  Not that many people came because on a nice day in Mar del Plata during the summer... well.... EVERYBODY goes to the beach.   But we did have a couple new visitors and they liked it and hopefully we can start teaching them in these next few weeks!  

Capilla Open House Fun

With almost all the missionaries in our zone!

Gloria is doing well!  She came to church with us on Sunday, :) and she's progressing well. Right now we are trying to help her to form the habit in her life of praying everyday and reading the scriptures.  She says it’s hard to do, not because she doesn’t' want to, but because she often forgets.  We told her to keep trying her best and to pray and ask God's help to remember to pray and read always.  She really liked that idea and is trying her best :) 

Well that’s about all the time I have today. I miss you all and love you lots and hope you have a great week!! 

Con amor y nietas, 

Hermana Bartholomew 

P-day Pizza with my district in MDP


Monday, January 9, 2017


January 9, 2017

Hola Familia y Amigos!

This week was super humid and full of surprises.  To start, we had interviews with President Cifuentes.  As we were talking, he told me that he had a favor to ask and then asked if I could run and grab a piece of paper.  I was thinking that was an odd request, and all of the worst thing possible ran through my mind.  When I came back, he told me that he needs me to play the piano for a very special mission conference we are having at the end of the month with ELDER STEVENSON.  AHHH!!  I have to play the piano for an apostle....YES – I’M FREAKING OUT!!  President gave me the list of hymns for the meeting so that I can practice these next few weeks.  I’m super excited and honored....let's just hope I don’t screw things up. ;) 

During my interview President also surprised me by telling me that I had to attend a leadership meeting the next day in Bahia which I wasn’t planning that night at 10:30 we pulled out of Mar del Plata and got to the white bay at 6:30 am...a missionary's full night of sleep right? NO!  Haha I’m so sick of colectivos (buses).  

Preparing to spend all night on a bus ride to Bahia Blanca...

Before and after we got ready in the church bathroom ;)
This is Hermana Hurtado from Bolivia...she's the best!

But the meeting went super well and I really enjoyed the chicken enchiladas that Hna Cifuentes made us. :) 

The Sister Training Leaders from Mision Bahia Blanca
We LOVE Sister Training Leader life :)

My comp and I continue having water problems in our apartment...this time the laundry machine door opened in the middle of the cycle.  I literally left the room for 5 seconds...  

I'm cursed...we just have the worst luck with water ;)

We felt like we were in a movie seeing our kitchen floor covered in SUDS (and I’m not talking about church members... šŸ˜‰  Please tell me someone gets my joke??!!).

This week we had a great lesson with Gloria!!!  She has been reading in the Book of Mormon and is slowly but surely getting in the habit of praying more.  She totally remembers everything we teach her and as we talked to her this weekend about the 5 steps in the gospel of Jesus Christ, she felt the Spirit, understood, and told us she wants to follow Christ more in her life.  She accepted the invitation to be baptized!!!! YAY!!!!  She still wants to receive a confirmation, and really feel sure about it, so she didn’t want to put a date for her baptism yet.  But she knows that we are going to be there to help her get ready for that special day.  She's seriously such a miracle.  

As we were teaching Gloria about the baptism of Christ, we read the story in Matthew 3:13-17.  As we know, Christ was sinless and had no need to be cleansed of sin through baptism.  But like he said to John the Baptist, he needed to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.  In 2 Nefi 31:5-7, it explains to us what it means to fulfill all righteousness. 

And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!

And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?

Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

Jesus Christ is our greatest example because he showed us how to be humble and obey God's commandments.  Baptism truly is the door, the first step that is required of all of us - even Christ - to be able to enter into the kingdom of God.  And that's why I’m here.  To help my brothers and sisters find the door and teach what they have to do in order to open it and receive all the blessings that God has waiting for us on the other side.  QUE GRANDE ES MI LLAMAMIENTO!  [HOW GREAT IS MY CALLING!]

I hope you all have a great week and remember to be obediente ;) 

Con amor y mi quinceƱera (get it? because I turned 15 months old in the mission this week...), 

Hermana Bartholomew 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Feliz AƱo Nuevo!!

 January 2, 2017

Hola Familia y amigos, 

Happy 2017!!!!! WOW, is it just me or did 2016 pass by WAYYYY too fast??  Was I really in Argentina all of last year??  Weird.  I'm really excited for this new year of life and the adventures that await, but at the same time I wasn't ready for it to come.  Do I really have to finish my mission in a short 3½ months??  :(   Not let’s just not talk about that. 

The last week of 2016 was great!  We had a yummy New Year’s eve dinner with our ward mission leader and his family and got to watch the fireworks out our window again but this time with visitors. :)  

Sorry for the really blurry picture...we ate way good though ;)
Sleepover watching New Year's Fireworks!
Hermana Estrada and Hna Croft - the Hermanas that have traveled around the mission for the capillas abierta [chapel open houses] were with us.  That`s right...I get to be a part of another chapel open house…but this time in Mar del Plata in Barrio Puerto!! Yay!! Haha those poor hermanas are probably so sick of me. ;)  This will be the 5th time that I’ve been a part of one.  The open houses really are so great, and I'm excited to do it again.  I really hope it can help our ward out here. 

Our investigators are doing great. They've been a bit busy during these holiday weeks but little by little we are seeing lots of progress.  Please keep Claudio y Flavia, Gloria, Irma and Sofi in your prayers.  Also, I received the happy news from Hermana Quenta in Olavarria that our golden investigator family – Claudia, Yael, and Francisco are getting baptized on January 21st!!!!!!!!!  YAY!  She promised to send me pictures, and I’ll keep you updated.

Guys, I just have to say that I love Mar del Plata!!  There is so much to do here and it’s so pretty!  Every P-day I totally feel like I’m a tourist on vacation - and even more now that seemingly everyone and their dog from everywhere here in Argentina has come these last few weeks for summer break.  MDP is heating up and everyone is on the beach.  Haha I’m a bit jealous but it’s all good, being a sister missionary with pants is much more fun! ;)   

Look how pretty Mar del Plata I on vacation??

My comp and I were able to explore Puerto (the port) a little this morning and it was so fun!  

El Puerto!
There's like this road that goes into out into the middle of the ocean with what must be the world's longest mural and some sea lions along the way that leads to a Jesus statue, plus lots of fish and boats.  It was really pretty and also fun to look like cheesy tourists in our new Mar del Plata matching t-shirts. :) 

The colors and mascot of the Puerto futbol team...
the entire city is painted green and yellow

Where in the world is Hermana Bartholomew?

My personal favorite part of the mural...HELADO!!
Haha - I promise I'm not obsessed!!

I LOVE MUSIC!  Biggest Piano I've ever played.  :)

Look FISH!  oh, and the painting is cool too ;)
Pescado - because we are in Puerto
These are my buddies the LOBOS MARINOS (sea lions)

I wanted so much to join him so bad!
We made it!
Super Cool...its a little like I'm in Rio, no?

I welcomed in the New Year by giving a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday.  Oh joy! :)  I haven’t been asked to speak in sacrament meeting since I was in Villa Floresta way back in February of last year. ;) I talked about the power of the Book of Mormon.  It just so happens that as an entire mission, we started reading it back at the beginning of October and had the goal to finish it before the end of the year.  You all know me though, I’m a bit of a procrastinator sometimes, so I finished reading the last 3 chapters that morning…only an hour or two before my talk.  I really want you all to know that I have a testimony of the power and divinity and truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  It is true and changes lives.  It has changed my life.  That's why I was able to spend the entire year last year walking all day, everyday through the heat, the rain and the cold Argentine tundra.  All because I know that everyone needs to read this book. 

In Alma chapter 26, the last two verses say something like, “for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation”…to let everyone know that God hasn't forgotten about the house of Israel...(haha something like that, sorry I didn’t write it down.)  I know that God never has, and never will forget about us.  He has given us this precious book as a companion to the Bible to help lead and guide us and tell us everything we need to know; and how to follow Him to be happy in this life and return to live in His presence in the life to come.  I want to invite you all to read it every day during this next year because I know that when you read it, you will feel of God’s love for you; and if you let it, it can change your life. 

I LOVE THE MISSION.  I’m kinda freaking out about how fast it’s going by...but I’m doing the best I can and enjoying every minute.  Until next week… 

Con amor y calor, 

Hermana Bartholomew