Tuesday, September 24, 2013

first week in california!

Okay... so I have SOO much to say but I have to be speedier than ever because I still have to email President Weston but here goes!!

 I am in California baby!! 

And here's for all the details.......

1. You will NEVER believe who my trainer and new companion is..... HERMANA PIGGOTT!!!!!!!!!! Blayke Piggott!!! Hahaha you all probably forgot who she is but she is the ONE Spanish Hermana I knew of before heading here. She is best friends with Jacquelyn Covey, Michael's cousin and so when I got my call, Jacquelyn told her about me and we chatted on Facebook, where else haha. But so we already chatted a ton and I thought she was DARLING. And I kept joking to people that I hoped and hoped she would be my companion at some point. Haha ahhhh it kills me!!!! I even told Hermana Howe and other Hermanas in the CCM about her and would say how badly I wanted her to be my companion and trainer!! Well.... I don't have a clue how I got so lucky (I guess it helps that there are only 6 Spanish Hermanas in the whole mission haha) but still!! My wish came true!!!! And I couldn't be happier about it!! I still am shocked actually. We could NOT be more perfect for one another!!! So for those of you don't know anything about Hermana Piggott, she is from Provo, she's DARLING, she was a dancer, she has a missionary in Africa named Braden.. and if any of you have heard about the 14 year old boy who was attempting to do a double black flip on the tramp and landed on his head and is now paralyzed.... this just happened a few weeks ago but he's Braden's little brother. So so sad. And what's even crazier is Hermana Howe kept talking about this story in the MTC because it was her mom's friend's son and it's Hermana Piggott's future brother-in-law (they're for sure getting married her and Braden haha) but so anyways she has a darling boy and anyways... we're the same person. I'm not kidding. It freaks the both of us out how similar we are ha. All the time we both just start laughing and can't get over how similar we are and that we are COMPANIONS!!!!!! Because we both talked about it beforehand... oh it kills me!! But we are going to be perfect because as for the important stuff we are perfect as well. We both want to be 100% obedient, have the same goals and desires for the mission field, both want to work our very very hardest and just do all we can to bring the saints here unto Christ, etc. Ah we honestly couldn't be perfect!! I am sooo excited!! It's crazy too because we've only been together for a few days and I feel like we have been life long best friends. I love her so much!! Hahaha honestly, how did I get so lucky AGAIN!? I was obsessed with Hermana Howe and now I am obsessed with Hermana Piggott. Both girls would be my best friends outside of the field. And will be after our missions are complete!! Haha me and Hermana Piggott are already making a bucklet list for after the mission. It's a real thing. But we both know that Heavenly Father put us together for a reason and that we were supposed to be companions right now for a reason. So with that, we are working our hardest and have faith that we'll see many many miracles!! And we already have. Which leads me to more details.....

(trainer and companion, hermana piggott)

2. We are serving in an area called Gridley. Hahaha ohhhh Gridley. How to describe it.... Well, I don't feel like we're in America. Haha kills me. It's a small town and most houses aren't the nicest, there are many Latinos.. however, it is orchard county. Honestly, orchards EVERYWHERE!!!! Anywhere you look you'll see an orchard. We just drive past orchard after orchard and they are beautiful!! Just fruit perfect looking fruit orchards. It's amazing!! And yesterday we drove past a lavender field as well. So I'll give it that much for it's beauty. It's extremely green and beautiful because of all the orchard/lavender fields. But as for the houses and what not.... it's got the small town field. However, we live with members in such a nice house. The nicest house I've seen or been in by far. It's suuper nice and we feel so lucky. We have our bedroom and bathroom and can use the kitchen, family room, etc. It's soo nice!! And the bedroom is PERFECT. It's not the biggest but it's way nice and my bed is heaven. It is sooo comfy!! They provided way nice bedding for us too but with my bedding you sent me mom, including the pillowtop pad... I am seriously sleeping like an angel. Haha it's amazing. I feel soo pampered. And we also have a brand new 2013 charcoal colored Toyota Corolla. Hermana Piggott got our car brand new when she got here and yeah, so we are literally so spoiled. Haha brand new car, live in the nicest house, we have a brand new phone too (Sprint slider haha classic) and yeah... sooo being in the States is niiice. We are treated so well. Especially being Sisters. Ohh man. However, once we leave our home it's a WHOLE different story. We have been in some interesting homes to say in the least. Once I leave our home I feel like we're out of America and in some type of Mexico haha. Hard to explain.. you just have to see this place. But okay I am going to tell you about a few people we've been dealing with. 

3. So first off there is Laticia... Ohhhh Laticia. Where to begin with her. So she's not a member and apparently missionaries have been working with her for a little while but she's an interesting one... to say in the least. I feel way bad but here's an idea of our situation with her. So she lives with her husband and two kids. Her husband is not a good guy though and that creates many problems. He's always present when we're over there and he chants about how he wants to hear about God (In Spanish) but he's nuts. Haha he always says in English though, "I want to eat of God!" meaning he wants us to feed him more knowledge about God. But yeah so apparently he has abused her for years and they have the most unhealthy relationship you can think of so she's become kinda a nut because of it. She has been taught similar lessons over and over and can't remember anything. The other say she talked about God and Heavenly Father being two different people. Didn't know they were One. And this was my first time meeting with her so I didn't understand quite the extent of it all but the next day we visited them and it was scary. She said how she felt sick because her husband told her that we are all reptiles. All of us as humans. We are like reptiles and are going to eat each other. And she said how her husband married her so that she could be an object and so that he could eat from her ribs... and while we were sitting there listening with our eyes shot open, he was rambling (too fast of Spanish for me) about what he had told her and then she was like, "yeah you said you would eat me!" and he was like, "well you'd eat me too!" and I had to say, "nobody is going to be eating anyone here!!" hahahaha THIS IS A REAL THING!!!! She was scared to death thinking that she would be eaten by humans. And then her and her husband got in a fight, while us missionaries were nicely sitting there... so awkward, and she was saying how he only married her so she could be his slave, etc. etc. I am not going to give details. Too inappropriate. And then she started crying and it was so scary. However, I felt way bad for her. Because you can just tell he is crazy and treats her way bad. But she isn't quite there either so it's all a mess. And they have the most BEAUTIFUL little girl named Maria, I think she's about 3... sooo pretty and they were doing all of this in front of her. With Jesus (that's the boys name... pronounce it in Spanish) in the other room too. Ahhh it was so bad. So we invited her to come to this baptism that night that the Elder's were having and she admitted to come. Well then later that night we went to pick her up... we told Elder Herrera to send women because she's scared to death of men (from her experience with her Husband) and two MEN showed up!! Which isn't allowed anyways. But we all walked outside... me, Hermana Piggott, Laticia and Maria and she saw the two men and GRABBED Maria and ran inside... almost tripped she ran so fast, and said "NOOO!!! I will not go with men!! I said I wanted females!!!!" and then slammed the door. Sooo bad. We felt awful. But then we got a woman to come pick them up and Laticia was soo offended that she still wouldn't come. That was a whole other scene. But yeah it was the worst thing ever and I honestly was almost in tears because it was such a dramatic awful scene. She is scared to DEATH of men!!!! And we wanted her to feel peace at the baptism..... I want her to be happy and feel the goodness of the Gospel in her life, know that people love her and get away from her husband... but it's so hard because she's not all there. And she doesn't treat Maria good. Maria was crying the other day and wanting to be held and Laticia just chucked her off of her and said, "OWW!! She's being rude to me!!" ...... she's 3 years old and just wants to be loved. So anyways, it's the craziest household and situation but I think as of now we're going to drop her. Many missionaries have tried to deal with it and she's just simply not progressing. As much as we want to help her. Our ward mission leader yesterday said he wants us to though because he doesn't like that we've witnessed their inappropriate fighting and the dad is just not a good man, bad past. So anyways haha there's a taste of some of the feel for Gridley!! No no that's just them. But she did come to church yesterday with the woman who tries to bring her and so that was good. But apparently she has been to church many times before.... we'll see. Next person though and for something positive!! 

4. Well for some background, apparently Gridley is struggling right now. The missionaries here haven't been seeing tons of success and Hermana Piggott and her old companion were the first Spanish Hermanas to open the area so it's all kinda new. However, missionaries have been in here for years. Our Spanish branch is super new though so on Sundays there aren't too many members there. We're in a Spanish branch (not big enough to be considered a ward yet) but we're going to work our hardest to get it to grow!! They've been working on less-actives a ton too trying to build them up so yeah... we're got a LOT of work to do. But we're ready for the challenge and have already seen many miracles happen. Hermana Piggott is amazed at all the miracles we've been seeing already as companions. She is seeing more than she has in a while and we both know that there's a reason we're companions... there are people here who were waiting for just US. 

5. Okay so the other day we got a referral. Referrals are GOLD!!! And her name is Reina. She is cousins with Oscar & Idalia... less-actives who are now reactivated because of Hermana Piggott and her old companion, Hermana Butler. AMAZING. So Reina is about 36 and we met with her the other day. Most darling lady alive. She doesn't know a lick of English, oh I forgot to mention Laticia likes to randomly speak English ha... but Reina doesn't know any however I connected with her soo well. Hermana Piggott is doing awesome with the Spanish and I am way excited for her because her old companion was fluent so she said she didn't speak much... so now she has to because I am still a newbie haha however I am trying to talk the most I can. Hermana Piggott said I am already speaking way more than she did at first so I need to keep it up so I can keep improving. Well anyways, Reina is BEAUTIFUL, she's from El Salvador (Ralphyyyy woot woot haha) and when we met with her we just introduced her to the Book of Mormon and bore our testimonies on it, etc. She was just smiling away and ahhhh I LOVE HER SO MUCH!!! Well anyways, we chatted with her for so long and then she made us fresh homemade lemonade (amazing) and these homemae tortillas with cheese. Just whipped up homemade tortillas right then and there and it was awesome. However the cheese was interesting. Hahaha afterwards Hermana Piggott was like, "and I could taste the COW" haha the cheese smelled like a cow farm. Honestly haha so funny. And she stuffed us. I felt bad because she kept whipping them up and was so nice to do so in the first place... they have a very humble home. Oh yeah and the whole time I was in the home I definitely felt like I was not in America. It is sooo different. Felt like Mexico or Brazil in every way. But yeah and we got to talk to her son Johnathan who is 19 for a little while too... we're trying to work on him as well. And he knows a tiny bit of English. Many of the younger generation do. But yeah it was soo much fun and I love her so much. We're going to be teaching her again tonight and it will be on the Restoration. I can't wait!! Oh and she came to church yesterday with Idalia her cousin!! She seemed to feel comfortable and like it so we're soo excited to keep teaching her. We have to get her!!!! She's the best! And she always talks about my blue eyes and blonde hair haha and loves how I barely know Spanish. It's great. However I always just keep a big ol' smile on my face and she loves that. Ohhhh I love Reina!!!!!

6. Okay and then for other people, we have gotten tons of referrals this past week... which we're super excited about. We got a woman named Angelina who is Fernando's mother, Fernando is being taught by the Elder's... and apparently she wasn't interested but then we went to her house and she said she'd like to meet with us!! And she was BEAUTIFUL too oh my goodness. Latina woman are the prettiest. And then her husband wants to meet with us too. Our goal with the Elders is to get the entire family baptized!! I know I am getting a little ahead of myself but I am setting my goals high!!!!! I want to get this place going. I am not going to keep up with the slow progression it has been having. Nope, not happening with me. And then we're also going to be meeting with Raquel (Britt, made me think of you!!) ... she's an adult woman and I think they've just struggled getting her to keep commitments but we'll work with her. And then we have other referrals like Fridal, Sarah, Alicia... oh!! And AMBER!!!

7. We have an investigator named Amber. Hermana Piggott picked her up right before the transfer and she is about 23, her dad is a recent covert and she committed to baptism!! However she missed church yesterday because she was sick and she has to attend a few times before she's baptized so we had to move her date back. But we're going to keep teaching her and let's cross our fingers the baptism works out!!!!! She's golden and just the cutest. Oh, and another miracle happened the other day. Well our first few miracles were that we've been praying for referrals and have gotten several!!!!!! Which supposedly doesn't happen that easily. And then our appointment with Amber fell through the other day because she was sick and Hermana Piggott said, there's a reason it fell through... (always so positive, love her) and we drove past this house and Hermana Piggott immediately turned around and got out of the car. It was a lady named Berta outside of her house and apparently Hermana Piggott has been trying to track her down for months. She's just a less-active but we need to reactivate her and so anyways, she agreed to an appointment!! So we've got that covered. 

Ohhh man, well I know I have other people to tell you about to but my mind is blank at the moment. And I have to finish up.... but yeah we're working our very hardest and I am exhausted every night because of it (fell asleep while on my knees praying two nights ago haha Hermana Piggott was like, wow she says really long prayers.... half an hour goes by... yup just fell asleep!! Haha) but that's how I want it to be. Referrals are GOLDEN and the best way to find people so we're trying our hardest to get them and we made a goal to visit a member a day so that they will trust us and give us new referrals... and yeah!! The church is true!! My Spanish is slowly but surely coming along and I just have faith that the Lord will help me out if I do my part!! Oh and I had an awesome experience last night. We went and visited with Idalia, to keep her strong and just shared with her a scripture. Well I felt inspired to share with her another scripture it made me think of on my own... after Hermana Piggott explained the other one and I had Idalia read it and afterwards we asked her what stood out to her from all that we read and one of the verses I shared with her was exactly what she needed to hear. It was amazing. She said it was so perfect and really touched her heart. I was open to feel the spirit and with that the spirit led me to that scripture and I was able to share with her exactly what she needed to hear. It was amazing. But anyways, I have to run!!! I will share more next week. Oh, and best thing ever!!! When I arrived to the mission office my first day I got the package Brad & Britt sent and got letters from Grandma Barth and Talmage!!! Made me soooo happy!!!!!!! So tell everyone THANK YOU!!!!!! Also, SEND ME LETTERS ASAP!!!! I will get them sent right to our casa so I can get them in just a couple of days.... my address is, 1610 Justin Court... Gridley, California...95948 -- SEND LETTERS PLEASE!!!! It would honestly make my life complete. And I still need things sent to me but I'll include those in another email... Abigail & Barb J. Haha one thing I can think of at the top of my head though is I need more CD's!! Me and Hermana Piggott listen to the two cd's we have over and over in our car and love them, so send more!! They just needed to be mission appropriate, you know what that means. Oh yeah and on Thursdays it's car fast day so we only can walk. My first official day here was just that and I loved it!! We passed out a couple of pass along cards and I felt like a true missionary on the streets haha. Oh and every Saturday morning at 6 we apparently play soccer with our District so we did that. It was soo fun. I was actually a little more competitive than I thought haha. Oh and mom, my District Leader's name is Elder Call. No relation but I thought you'd like that. Well, I have to run but I love you all soooo much and hope all is well!! I am praying for and thinking of you constantly!!!!! Oh yeah and we are only allowed to teach Spanish speakers here who will lead into our Spanish branch. And trust me, there are plenty of Hispanic people here hahaha ohhhh Gridley. This place kills me!!!! Oh, and last night we ate dinner at a member's home on a ranch... horses and everything, beautiful!! This place is gorgeous. The stars and sunsets are unreal too. Okay, have to go!! ADIOS!!!!!!! 

Con mucho amor, Hermana Barth 

Ps. I am going to meet Elder Barney later today Abigail hahaha I had to text him last night about us coming to their area and yeah, he's in our Zone so I'll see him every P-DAY. You'll have to tell his brother, anyways... love you all!!!!


1610 Justin Court

Gridley, California


finally in california!

I have arrived in CALIFORNIA!!! I only have about 15 minutes to write but I am already LOVING it here!! It has been a super long day haha but I couldn't be happier. I just met with President Weston too and he is AWESOME!! He is honestly the absolute nicest and his spirit is soo strong. Also, Sister Weston could not be more darling. She is seriously the absolute cutest and I already adore her so much. She was the one who picked me up from the airport and so we got to chat just us two all the way to the church building where we met up with the 16 other missionaries. All English but me. When I entered the room they all stood up and I said HOLA!!! Haha I am soo used to speaking Spanish especially with those basic words so I keep catching myself slipping Spanish words out. At the Airports here in America too haha. People give me weird looks.... But I don't want to lose the little Spanish I already have!! 

So I need to keep speaking it tons and tons. So apparently there are 60 Sister missionaries in my mission and only SIX Spanish speaking Hermanas!!!! Crazy huh!? We are a complete minority here. But President Weston told me I'll be in a Spanish ward, a Spanish branch and my area will be very large. He said he's super excited about where my area is too but I won't find out till tomorrow!! Tomorrow is when I will find out who my trainer is as well. But as of now my companion is Sister Hatchett. Haha I want to say Hermana..... but she's English. I don't really know how to go about this whole Spanish English deal yet. I feel strange haha. We had a little meeting with some Elders just barely and it was all in English and it was seriously weird for me!!!! I kept translating it all as much as I could in Spanish too because I want to keep it all fresh. But oh yeah, so I got zero sleep last night, slept a little on the plane from Mexico to Pheonix but us new arrival Hermanas.... haha I can't say Sisters, it's weird.... are sleeping in a hotel tonight!!! Woot woot!! The luxury of being in the States! Haha I am back in America everyone!! It's crazy! 
I had a nice American dinner and am feeling great!! 

Oh yeah, and I met Elder Mosely!!!! He just arrived today as well! He's English but he went to Oly, is friends with Connor Haller (hahaha of course) and is way good friends with Elder Brand and Elder Garcia so they kept telling me to look for him once I got here. So that's fun! And then the AP knows Nick Barth and Bud Todd way well!! Unfortunately I can't think of his name at the moment... but I am so happy to be here!! Everyone is soooo nice and this place is BEAUTIFUL!!! Not sure where I am exactly at the moment but it's super green and pretty. Okay, well I have to run but in my next email I have to tell you guys about the experience I had on my plane ride from Pheonix to here... I chatted with the man next to me about the church the ENTIRE plane ride, taught him the entire first lesson (The Apostasy, Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon) ... had him read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and he read Joseph's Smith's testimony, I shared with him some of my favorite scriptures, gave him a pass along card.... taught him about the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity... etc. I have soooo much to tell you about it. This man had sooo many questions and we had the craziest conversations. His questions were hard too. 

Ahhh I have so much to tell you!! But I ended with inviting him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it to know if it were true. Ahhh I taught him sooo much. Just wait!!!! And mom and dad, afterwards he told me..... "Your parents should be so proud of you. You are a very special girl with a very special spirit." Haha oh and this man played baseball for the Oakland A's and other teams I can't think of at the moment. I'll give you the whole story later but I have to run!! My companion is waiting for me. Love you all so much and just want you to know I am safe and sooo very happy!! I was going to call back to say goodbye but my plane was boarding!!!!! I actually tried to but it wasn't working and then my plane was boarding. But I'll talk to you all in just a few months on CHRISTMAS!!!! Get excited. Haha but okay gotta run!! Adios!!
Con mucho amor, Hermana Barth
Ps. mom and dad... President Weston is good friends with Willy Gibbs!! We made that connection ha. Oh, and all the Elders that are here with us know about me from Elder Mansell, Megan Mansell's older brother. He apparently talked about how I was coming a lot and so they've all been waiting to see who I was!! 
Haha and he told President Weston and his wife lots about me too.... hope it was all good things haha okay LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!

p.s. last pictures from the mexico MTC!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

i'll go where you want me to go

"Quizas no tenga yo que cruzar montañas ni ancho mar; quizas no sea a lucha cruel... que Cristo me quiera enviar. Mas si El me llama a sendas que .. yo nunca camine .. confiando en El, le dire Señor, a donde me mandes, ire..... A donde me mandes ire, Señor, a montañas o islas del mar. Dire lo que quieras que diga, Señor.. y lo que Tu quieras, sere." - I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go in Español.... and in English it is...

"It may not be on the mountain height or over the stormy sea... It may not be at the battle's front .. My Lord will have need of me. But if, by a still, small voice he calls, to paths that I do not know... I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine: I'll go where you want me to go.... I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, over mountains or plains or sea... I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord.. I'll be what you want me to be. " 

This could not be more perfect fitting for me right now!!!! My Lord is in need of me and he has called me to do His work and I have answered and am ready to do His work with Him by my side. I am ready to go where the Lord wants me to go even if I don't know the path (California) ... I'm ready to say what he wants me to say, and I am ready with all of my heart to be who he wants me to be. This song touches my heart in many many ways but right now more so than ever before. It humbles me so much!! Also, we're singing this hymn as a District next Sunday, our last Sunday together... so sad, and so we've been practicing it. We're singing it in Español of course and it is even more beautiful than in English. Ohhh it warms my heart soo much and whenever we all practice singing it I am completely filled with the Spirit. It warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes right now even just thinking about it and writing out these beautful lyrics..... But on to my letter!!!!
¡Mi Familia! Estoy muy feliz ser escritiendo este a ustedes hoy. ¡¿Como le va!? Estoy muy muy feliz aqui en el CCM en Mexico y estoy muy agradecida por la oportunidad ser un misionera por la Iglesia verdadera. He aprendido muchos cosas aqui y amo la oportunidad tengo estudiar mas sobre el Evangelio de JesuCristo y aprender la Idioma de Español.
Okay so I would write more in Español but I have to hurry and I am much faster in English hahaha. Ahhhh can you believe I am already onto my LAST week here in the CCM!? I can't!! Honestly, my mind is blown that I am already onto week 6 and will be in the field in CALIFORNIA next Tuesday!!! I am so so so excited but I just can't believe the time is already here. This week has already started off bittersweet too. I just feel soo so close to my District and am going to be so sad saying goodbye to all of them. Last night I was talking to Elder Ballstaedt and Elder Faerbar about it and we were saying how it feels like we're having to say goodbye to our families again.. These missionaries have truly become my family and best best friends. We have been through soo much together and I love & care for them all so much. Ahh I can't even think about it!! It makes me so sad already!!!! District D in Branch 14..... BEST DISTRICT EVER!!!!! I love my Elders and Hermanas!! 

But okay... well first off, tell Haley CONGRATULATIONS on her call to the Phillipine's!! That is sooo so exciting and all week I have been waiting to find out where she's headed. Oh my goodness she will be the most darling missionary ever and I cannot wait for when she is out in the field with me. Oh, I love her so much!! Mom, I'm happy you got to be there at her call opening. Can you send me her email address please?? I want to send her a personal email.... and then let's see... I don't feel like I have much time but I want to start off telling you about the teaching experience me and Hermana Howe had yesterday. So yesterday was the last time we got to teach our investigator Gilberto. We had brought up baptism the lesson before but wanted him to committ yesterday.

So anyways, we went into the lesson with a plan to teach him about baptism, etc. However, we really wanted to let the spirit direct the rest of the lesson and focus as much as possible on his own personal needs in his life and overall just make it a very personal lesson. Well we usually teach outside but it was pouring so we taught in the hallway and this time we had two other Latino teachers watching... This made us a little more nervous at first haha but once we got going I forgot they were even watching. So we started talking to Gil and we asked him about his church atttendance, his feelings with everything, etc. (sorry I am not giving you much of a background on what we've taught him thus far haha) but he said he had been loving church, felt very happy learning more about our Gospel, etc. So anyways, we asked him what he felt he was doing in his life that wouldn't be in harmony with God... etc. because he said he still wanted to recieve that FINAL answer as to if the church is true or not.. so he then told us he drinks alcohol and so we quickly taught him the Word of Wisdom.. then he told us he also drinks coffee and tea. 

We taught him why it is important for us to follow the Word of Wisdom, follow God's commandments, etc. and then we led into repentance and then baptism. And okay, so we talked to him about baptism and already the words were just perfectly flowing out of my mouth. I wasn't thinking about the Español and neither was Hermana Howe. We were switching off teaching very nicely, the best we ever have, and she was saying words I've never heard her say so boldy!!! We both were just speaking Spanish the best we ever have and were saying everything with such confidence. Well anyways, I know I am all over the place and not giving every detail of the lesson so you're probabaly super confused haha but after teaching and talking for a little about what was necessary for Gil to hear I all of the sudden had the most overwhelming feeling come over me and I began to bear my testimony. The first thing I said was, "Yo se que esta Iglesia es verdadera" ... I know this church is true. Most simple statement I could say but this time it was different. When I said those words I not only said them but declared them. I said them with such boldness and sincerity that I immediately was completely filled with the spirit and love of our Savior that I began to cry. It hit me right then and there, in the hallway of the Joseph Fielding Smith building in the CCM here in Mexico while it was pouring rain outside... more than it ever ever has that I KNOW THIS CHURCH IS TRUE. And I have the strongest testimony of it's truthfullness and overall goodness. It's amazing how sharing your testimony with others builds your own testimony so much.

I went on to bear my testimony and express my love for this Gospel, for my ever so loving Savior, Jesus Christ and Father in Heaven, my love for Gilberto and my sincere care for him, etc. I testified of the truthfullness of our message, the message of Jesus Christ... expressed to him how this Gospel WILL change his life and that I KNOW that if and felt the Spirit soo so strongly. Well so anyways, I immediately started crying when I was bearing my testimony and then Hermana Howe started crying and Gilberto as well. So all three of us were just sitting there with tears running down our faces while I bore my strong and sincere testimony. And to make the situation even better, while I was talking I also noticed that the two teachers had tears running down their faces and were wiping their eyes as well. It was amazing. The Spirit touched us all soo strongly and after I finished, Gilberto wiped his eyes and with his crying, stuttering voice, told me that he had recieved his final answer. I then invited him to be baptized and he said YESS!!!!!! Which made us all cry even more. And following that, Hermana Howe bore her testimony as well and it was just the sweetest message I've ever heard. 

Now I know that this wasn't necessarily a "real" investigator we were teaching... but it was still a lesson for all of us and I know that all of our testimonies were beyond strengthened. It was exactly what I needed. What we both needed. Oh my goodness I can't express how amazing it was and how powerful the Spirit was during that lesson. Me and Hermana Howe were just in complete awe and when we talked about it afterwards we both felt soo so beyond blessed. We immediately thanked our loving Heavenly Father and both just hugged like crazy with tears still running down our faces. I love this Gospel with all of my heart, might, mind and strength and know with a surety that IT IS TRUE. There is no doubt in my mind and I can't express it enough. I also love my teacher Hermano Arevalo "Gilberto" soooo so much and am so thankful for the influence he has already had in my life. He truly has the sweetest spirit and biggest heart I know. He also ALWAYS this big ol' grin on his face and whenever he walks into the classroom we are all uplifted immediately. I love him so much. Such a darling human being. And then as for Hermana Howe, I know I go on and on about her almost every email haha but I truly love this girl with all my heart. She is the sweetest, most darling, Christ-like Hermana and truly one of my best best friends. We both are soo sad we have to say goodbye next week but I just feel beyond blessed to have had her as my first companion. I know that we are companions for a reason and that our Heavenly Father put us together for a reason. I love her and I know we'll be friends forever.

Then as for other updates, I can't think of many specific things at the moment but overall it has been such a wonderful week. I have learned soo so much and have felt my testimony be strengthened ohh soo much every single day. I started reading Jesus the Christ this week too!!! It is AMAZING!!!! Right from the beginning I was glued. All that I have learned about my loving, selfless and overall perfect Savior has been amazing. I am learning soo much about Him and increasing my love and appreciation for him that much more. 

Oh, which reminds me... Mom, I apologize for not giving you the scripture for my missionary plaque yet. I have had the hardest time deciding which one I wanted because there are a million I could use and absolutely loove but I finally decided on one!!! The other day I was studying my scriptures and stumbled upon Moroni 10:32 .... 

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." 

Ohhh I absolutely LOVE that verse!!! It is sooo powerful and just absolutely perfect for me. And it even says "come unto Christ" which was the topic of my farewell talk so it's even more fitting haha. Oh man isn't it so powerful!? The scriptures and Book of Mormon contain SUCH powerful and profound messages. I love it!! Studying my scriptures has truly become one of my most favorite things because I learn soooo much from them every single time. This is the most I have ever deeply studying the scriptures too and found soo much meaning behind every single verse. Oh we are sooo so blessed to have all of this Doctrine and the true word of God!!!! This Gospel is true my dearest family and friends!! I know it for a fact and will never ever ever ever deny it's truthfullness. Ever. I will continue to strengthen my testimony which is soo precious to me and serve my Heavenly Father and ever so loving Savior, Redeemer, Lord, Brother, the Great I Am... every day for the rest of my life. I am the happiest I have ever been and am constantly overwhelmed with the gratitude and happiness I feel for deciding to serve a mission. There is NO greater work on this earth and I couldn't feel more privileged to be apart of it.
Well, I have to go!! We have lunch and then are heading to the Temple one last time!! I am sooo excited. But I'll write more next week and actually I will be writing again on Sunday so write me back like Saturday night... I'll give you my itinerary and I SHOULD be able to call you at the airport in Pheonix. Well I wish I could tell you more... but here are some quick random things... real quick.. it's still pouring rain every day, the other day the sidewalks were literally RIVERS and there were lakes in the middle of the lawns haha... funny quote I have to share for mainly Scotty who always jokes about my feet... the other day in class I took off my shoes for a minute and they were all wet from the rain and have left over scars from blisters, and Elder Ballstaedt said. "you look like you have the feet of a pioneer child!!" hahaha I was dying. Always get made fun of for my feet. But Elder Ballstaedt is my best friend of an Elder here haha so I was laughing so hard. Ohhh I am going to miss my District so so much!!! 

Oh yeah, and yesterday all us Hermanas wore black & white polka dot tops as a joke since it's our last week. We looked like fools hahaha but it was fun. Ohhh the things you do after being in the CCM for 5 weeks. I love it. We'll probabaly do more weird stuff later on this week. Oh yeah!! And mom!!!! I got your package with Michael's letter in it!! Hahaha the letter was soo destroyed but I am glad all of the pictures and letter were still in there. That's crazy it got that hashed coming from Brazil. Good thing I'll be in Cali so my mail should get to you very nicely haha. But thank you soo much for sending that to me!!!!!!! I still need to tell you what I want sent from home once I'm in Cali but I have no time for that right now. I have to run!! But anyways, wish I could tell you all more but I really have to go. Oh and cutest thing, Elder Garcia's compañero just took a trip to the store and I jokingly said to get me ice cream and he just came back with an ice cream sandwich for me!!! Hahaha the Elder's are the sweetest!! But okay, love you all more than every star in the sky. ¡TE AMO MUCHO!
Con mucho amor, Hermana Barth

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy in Mexico!

"Somos hoy llamados al servicio, a dar testimonio de Jesus. Vamos a un mundo en tinieblas para proclamar la luz. PRESTOS, todos prestos, cantaremos en union... LISTOS, siempre listos, entonemos la cancion... TODOS cantaremos nuestro alegre son triunfal.. Dios nos da poder, luchemos en la casa CELESTIAL!!!" - Called to Serve hymn in Español. Oh my goodness it is my absolute favorite hymn to sing here in the CCM. Singing with my District, or even better, all of the missionaries here.. there's nothing better. The spirit is always so strong and powerful. Just picture an auditorium full of missionaries singing Called to Serve in Español!! It is soo darling I can hardly stand it! We sing it altogether every SundayTuesday night at the devotionals and every single time, without fail, it gives me chills, puts a huge smile on my face overwhelms me with el Espiritu Santo.. the Holy Spirit. I feel so blessed and happy to be a missionary. I can't express it enough. This work makes me soo unbelievably happy. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!!

¡MI FAMILIA! ¿Como le va? How is everyone!? Ohh I miss you all soo much!! I can't believe I have been out an entire MONTH today!! Well according to the day of the week... but in just 3 days it will have truly been a month since I've seen you all. Can you even believe it!? I honestly feel like I was just hugging and waving goodbye to you all at the airport. Ohh my goodness it blows my mind. Starting today I only have 2 more weeks here en el CCM!!! So crazy. I have many mixed emotions about it too. I am, of course, soo so excited to get out into the real field and get to work teaching real investigators, those saints waiting for the Gospel and for me to teach them, or more so help them come to the knowledge of the truth, etc. but I am also going to be super sad to leave this place. I am honestly in heaven here. I absolutely love the CCM and everything about it. I love the beautiful Mexico campus, I am obsessed with my District, I couldn't love mi compañera or teachers more, I have become so close and such good friends with so many other Hermanas and Elders here... and most importantly, I love being able to study and learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ all day every day. There is nothing better!! Honestly. I love growing more and more and being able to study constantly sobre el Evangelio y la idioma de Español ... about the Gospel and Spanish language. It is the best thing I could possibly be doing right now and I can't picture myself doing anything else or focusing on anything else at this time in my life. It's perfect. But yeah so I will definitely miss this place however, I know the field has soo much more waiting for me. I am still so sheltered and haven't experienced the real deal yet!! Crazy!! Ahhhh I can't wait.

 But back to my District. I truly am going to miss them all so much. They're my little family and we've truly become so so close and the best of friends. We were talking about it last night but we really have such a special and unique relationship/friendship with one another. We've really become close on a more spiritual level and just in circumstances you don't get anywhere else. We get to see the most humbled and vulnerable sides of one another and really bond through our similar hardships, goals, etc. It's amazing if you think about it. We're all here to be representivos de nuestro Salvador, JesuCristo and to bring all those we can unto Christ. We all have the same purpose and we all love nuestro Padre Celestial, Salvador y este Evangelio sooo much that we're not only willing... but wanting to give up 18 months to 2 years to completely devote ourselves to serving Thee. Oh it is so humbling and sweet. I love it so much. But so we're all super close and I'll miss them like crazy. However, I'll definitely miss mi compañera the most. Ohh I cannot even think about it!! I am going to miss Hermana Howe more than words. She is the most darling girl ever and has made my CCM experience golden. Ella es mi favorita Hermana en el mundo y es ahora uno de me mejor amigas y el amor de mi vida. Haha she is my favorite Hermana in the world and is now one of my best friends and the love of my life... Hahaha ohhh she is seriously the best. I love her so much!! I can't believe we have to say goodbye in two weeks!!! We have been together, literally, constantly for a month now... hip to hip.. and I am so sad we're not going to the same mission. We both are. And we're pretty much going to different states because she's going to be in Southern Cali and I'm as Northern as you can get. I'll pretty much be serving in Oregon. But I know I'll for sure see her once we're both home. She's from Pleasant Grove and I'll be at BYU so I know we'll keep in touch. We've both already promised eachother invites to our weddings too so that's good. Haha but yeah no reason to think about that yet. Have to keep a half glass full perspective in mind. I still have two more weeks with her!!!! Makes me so happy. But we had to say goodbye to District C these past couple of days and that was hard!!! District C was in our Branch and their classroom was across the hall from us so we all got super close. I love those missionaries so much. Especially Hermana Winters and Hermana De La Vega... I know I've brought them up before but they were me and Hermana Howe's closest amigas and I love them both soo much. Hermana Winters is now in El Salvador and Hermana De La Vega in Kentucky. I'm going to miss them tons, already do, but I am so excited for them to start their missions!! They're the cutest. But okay then let's seee..... here are some quick random funny things I wrote down to tell you guys.....

1. I forgot to mention this last email but we've had THREE earthquakes here soo far... haha I love it and wish they were more intense but Hermana Wandell still freaks out when the alarm goes off. Last earthquake we could see some poles and what not shake too so that was kinda fun. Haha

2. We have continued to have THE craziest rainstorms every single night. Oh my goodness they're crazy!!! They usually start up around dinner or right afterwards during language study and then go all night long. I love it!!! I was already obsessed with the rain (Emilie Katharine Barth is... in love with the rain) hahaha familia or siblings, you better get that haha. But I love it even more here. It just completely down pours and makes me so happy. I love being in class learning about the Gospel, Español, studying my scriptures etc. and hearing the rain just come down outside. It makes me feel soo peaceful and cozy. Haha that's how Hermana Howe described it last night, "Ooh I just feel so cozy!!" haha but we embrace it so much. And yesterday we were having our language class outside with Hermano Arevalo when it started to sprinkle and then seconds later it started POURING!!! It comes soo fast. But now we are all so used to it we know when to expect it. Me and Hermana Howe still keep forgetting our umbrellas though so unless we borrow an Elder's, we pretty much get wet every night. 

But ohh best experience the other night. Better one when I slipped and biffed it, ripped my skirt and cut up my elbow though... haha. Actually they were both amazing rain stories haha. But so just a couple of days ago we were heading back to our classroom after dinner and it was pouring soo hard. So, of course, we all got soaked. And then when we got to our classroom since we were all already soaked, we decided to embrace the rain a little more. Our entire District went outside and played around in the rain for a minute. And me, Hermana Howe, Elder Delos Reyes and Elder Pace went puddle jumping!!!! So the drain system on this campus is horrible and the pavement isn't flat so when it rains there are rivers and puddles of water everywhere. Well there happened to be a big puddle near our classroom and so we all would run and jump in it and it was such a blast. Haha I was seriously so happy. We were all just soaking wet and jumping around.... pure joy. Haha best puddle jumping and playing in the rain I've ever experienced!!! But don't worry, we didn't play around for too long and then we went into class and got to work!!! All drenched and some people shivering. But it could not have been more worth it. And our schedule just changed so now we have gym in the morning (we used to have it at night right before bed... prime) and TALL (language computer program) at night before we head back to our casas so we pretty much run through the rain from our classroom to the TALL building and then to our casa every night. It's amazing. There haven't been anymore slipping accidents though, luckily. Haha but yeah that is a taste of the rainy weather for you!! Oh and throughout the day it's usually just the perfect temperature. Never gets real hot... much different than I expected but it's perfect.

3. The food has improved SO much since we first got here. It's pretty ridiculous actually. We're just part of the 5th generation of missionaries here en el CCM en Mexico and we've already seen so many changes!! They now have peanut butter, nutella, and loaves of wheat and white bread!! What!? I would have killed for that in the beginning. And they have HEALTHY cereals. These bran ones instead of just fruit loops, cocoa crispies, and frosted flakes.. however, they still have those of course haha. But yeah and they have gotten tons more fruit options instead of just melon, they have made the salads better, etc. It's crazy!!! And they even have organic rice milk now instead of just creamy whole milk. I know it sounds gross but it's a nice change since I drank skim milk at home. I've gotten used to the whole milk deal though surprisingly... and I really do enjoy the food here. I am so used to it that I like it lots!! Oh and they had popscicles the other day.... amazing!!!! Haha

4. Tons more missionaries are here as well. At first we only had about 130 Hermanas and now there are tons more. Which makes it way fun yet more hectic. For meals the lines are a ton longer but that's okay for us Hermanas because we get to butt all the Elders. I think I told you that last week?? They have to be obedient and let us go first in line so we never have to wait.... still makes me feel pretty dumb actually. But all of the Elders are the sweetest. Oh, and Hermana Hoj, Annie Hoj, is here!!! She is DARLING and I love seeing her around. And then I still get excited when I see Hermana Garbett. Andon Sunday night at the movie... (Best thing ever, every Sunday night we get to watch a movie and we all get soo excited. It's like we're all in a theater, with the lights on of course, haha and watching the premiere of a new movie.. we get that excited. And we all joke that it's a date night with our compañeros. And everyone will have tons of treats, etc. it's the BEST!! Last week we got to watch the Testaments too and you would have thought it was the premiere of a new Batman or something. Classic..) But anyways, this past Sunday before the movie started I chatted with Hermana Garbett a ton and she's just so cute. Love her so much. Oh, and back to there being a ton more missionaries... on Sunday Hermana Pratt told us in Relief Society that she believes we've almost hit 800 missionaries!! Crazy!!

5. Funny story about the Latino Elders here. Well first off, this past week I've been chatting tons more with the Latino Elders and Hermanas.. they're the cutest!! But okay back to my story, so I was at dinner and walked past a table full of Latino Elders. Well anyways, as I walked by I heard some of them whispering and saw them looking at me and then I heard an HERMANA BARTH!!! So I walked over to them and this Elder in Broken Spanish told me I looked like his ex-girlfriend Fernanda. Haha and then once I responded in Español we finished our convo in Spanish and some other Elders joined in and they kept saying how I looked like this girl. Soo funny. And then whenever I saw any of those Elders after that they would talk about it some more. Way funny how I've never been told I looked like anyone really and now here in Mexico I am told I look like a Latina honeyyy hahaha. Kills me!! But yeah those Elders just left on Sunday. Oh yeah and it was hilarious because they were all taking pictures in front of the sign after church and they all wanted pictures with me and Hermana Howe... "the blonde American girls" haha so great. I took a few pictures on my camera as well so I'll have to send them over. But anyways, that was way funny. Oh yeah and Elder Brand, Connor Haller's friend, told me the other night that I look like his girlfriend at home. So I have two look alikes now!!! Haha
5. Real quick funny random thing.... this out of control Hermana, who just left last week, came up to me one day and told me I could be an Avatar because I have alien eyes. Haha she is the most blunt, loud person ever and it made me laugh soo hard. I am going to miss hearing her loud voice across the cafeteria and hearing her yell, Hermana Barth!!! Haha but yeah I thought that was so funny because I've been called asian eyes, arabian eyes, almond eyes, and rabbit eyes... but never alien eyes!! It's a new one and I'll take it!!

6. Okay and for my last random funny story... so sometimes late at night before we head to our casas, my District gets super hyper. And anyways, one night we all had had too much sugar (Hermana Howe got a package stuffed with candy.... enough to share with the whole CCM) haha so we all had so much energy. And we had been singing some hymns way boldly and loud when all of the sudden Elder Angell pulled his pants up way high, started dancing and walking all weird and started singing, "Girl.... you know you want me....." and we all BURST out laughing!!! Okay Elder Angell. I can't remember if I mentioned him yet in another email but he's this tall, lanky, red head with glasses, who is the best person you'll ever meet. He thinks he's socially awkward and Hermano Hopoate actually makes him meet 7 new people a week... but we're the best of buds and I love him to death. Haha he seriously is the best!!! And he's a walking Spanish dictionary. He got a 34 on the ACT and has a full ride to Georgia Tech so anyways... he's a genius. But when he started dancing and singing like a goooon we all totally lost it. Don't worry, we just play around when it's necessary. We were about to head home and were wrapping up the night. That's something I love about my District though is we definitely know when to get to work and take everything serious but we also know when to laugh and have fun. We keep everything light hearted and that makes this all so much better. Ahhh I love my District soo much!!!!

But yeah those are all the funny things from the week I can remember... but on a more spiritual note, I am truly soo happy to be a missionary and to be here. I couldn't feel more blessed and know that I am supposed to be doing this work, at this time in my life. I honestly cannot imagine myself doing anything else right now... I love it so much!! Oh and I had a very wonderful experience happen to me this past Sunday. So it was Fast Sunday. We started our fast on Saturday and skipped dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. Well anyways, before we started fasting we began with a District prayer and then said our own personal prayers. Well I prayed and fasted for many many things but one thing I particularly fasted for was for mi Español to improve and for me to feel like I could fully express myself and my heart in el idioma de Español. So on Sunday during Sacrament meeting we had a testimony meeting. It was soo so special and anyways, the second I sat down I knew I was going to have to bear mine. So, after hearing some missionaries bear theirs... I did just that. I bore my testimony to our branch and it was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. Before I went up there I was praying I'd be able to speak from my heart and be able to say all I wanted to in Español and well.... my prayers were answered and I know that because I was fasting for this, el Espiritu Santo the Holy Spirit was with me and helped me. I was able to say a very long testimony and not worry about the language one bit. As soon as I began I started sharing everything that came to my heart and the Holy Ghost took care of the rest. Las palabras de Español came to me soo nicely and I never once had to pause to think of what I wanted to say in Spanish. I honestly just expressed all that I wanted too and it was so amazing!!! It really hit me that we just need to have faith in el don de languas, the gift of tongues and the Spirit will help us!!! So anyways, I was completely overwhelmed with the spirit when I was bearing my testimony and it was such an amazing experience. And just looking out and seeing the faces of the missionaries I adore so much... I loved it so much.

So anyways, I am learning more and more each week and could not be happier. Our lessons have been so much better too!! Gilberto and Benjamin, our "investigators" are doing excellent and we're challenging them both to baptism tomorrow!! Woot woot!! Oh yeah which reminds me, so Gilberto is our teacher Hermano Arevelo and the other day during TRC me and Hermana Howe got to teach him but as himself. Wow, it was such a cool experience. He told us about his real life and about the real challenges he's facing. He told us how his mom died when he was only 16 years old, how he's had to work a ton to help his dad support their family and hasn't been able to do much schooling, how he is really trying to learn English because in order to keep his job here at the CCM he has to learn it and also he wants to take online classes from BYU Idaho and has to pass an English test in November to be able to do so... so anyways, he told us how he is struggling a lot and to be honest... he really doesn't know much English at all. But it was comforting to know that even our teacher is facing somewhat of the same desafeos, challenges, as us. It was so darling too because so we just chatted with him for awhile, shared some scriptures and then Hermana Howe bore her testimony. She was struggling finding the Spanish words to use though and then she just broke down into tears.... It was the most precious thing. And it was absolutely perfect for the lesson because it was clear evidence that we're all going through that same struggle of learning a whole new language and by the end, all of our eyes were filled with tears. Wow. It was such an awesome lesson and we all felt the spirit so strongly.

I know that our Savior, Jesus Christ knows of our struggles and he wants us to succeed so he will be with us every step of the way. We just have to seek him, have faith and humble ourselves. Those are things I am working on every single day. But yeah so that was an awesome experience we had. Hermana Howe has been talking soo much more in our lessons though and I couldn't be happier about it. We've both been setting major goals each week and accomplishing them. So we're seeing more progress and feeling tons more comfortable speaking Spanish. We speak a ton though so it's great. And in our leadership meeting on Sunday our Branch President told us we need to be good examples of only speaking Spanish so we're working on it. Also, our district made the goal of having Wednesdays be pure Spanish. Inside and outside of class. We call it, "No Ingles Miercoles" haha. It's soo helpful though and if we ever don't know a word we now just immediately look it up in our dictionaries. It's super helpful!! Oh yeah, and sad news... we just found out Hermana Doxey and Hermano Hopoate aren't going to be our teachers anymore so we're just having Hermano Arevalo and Hermano Muñoz. Our two native Spanish speaking teachers. I'm going to miss those other two a ton but it will be fun having these two and really not being able to speak ANY English in class. Especially with Hermano Arevalo.
But anyways, I have to run.. however, I love you all sooo so much and am thinking about you constantly!!!! And I am so sorry I didn't respond to everything last week. That's sooo awesome Janine is now on her mission and that you all got to see her for a little while she was in SLC!!!! Ohhh I love my German cousin so much. She's going to be such an awesome missionary and mom, I'll send her a little email asap!!! Oh, and barb j... that curling iron is miss Madison Doutre's. So make sure to give that back to her. I have the one you got me here!!! But anyways, my mind is all over the place but it's time for lunch so I have to go!!! I love you all sooo much and if you feel so inclined, mail me letters to my California address!!!! That would be so fun to get something when I arrive in just a couple of weeks. Also mama, I have a ton of random things I would love for you to send me.... including PICTURES, etc. So I'll possibly send you a list next week?? Haha okay well I have to go. But I love you all SOO much!!!! Have a wonderful week! ¡¡ADIOS!!
Con mucho mucho amor, Hermana Barth