Hello my loveliest & most wonderful family!!
How are each of you this beautiful day?? Ohh so fun. We just got back from playing fútbol at a nearby park with our zone. It was soo much fun! I'll admit, it was extremely hot but I had lots & lots of fun. It was awesome playing with all the missionaries and then on top of that we had some members from our Spanish branch and an awesome Hispanic who is now in the Chico English ward (due to a stake calling). Hey, you can see who he is actually. Brother Lugo. He's in the Mormon Message but I can't remember the name of it right now. Anyways, good guy. Also, he has a brother who served in Brad's mission!! We made that fun connection. But anyways, the Hispanics, including some Hispanic Elders, made the game that much more exciting, they are all amazing!!! And Brother Lugo even brought cleats, jerseys & everything. It was awesome!!!! Also, last week on p-day I forgot to mention we went bowling!! Haha it was a ton of fun but some of the Elders were getting a little obnoxious trying to teach me how to bowl properly. I have never attempted to throw the ball in so many different ways and as a result, I still like my normal, goofy, wrong way of doing it. Haha oh well.
So as always, here are the exciting updates on the mission life of Hermanita Barth:
1. SAD news. Maria is not on date foranymore ... Ana, her mom is being stubborn again and doesn't want her to be baptized! We taught her the Restoration though and it went very well so we are still praying our little hearts out that things will turn around again. Maria really wants to be baptized and has no doubts with joining the church. She just wants her mother's permission and apparently her dad also said before he passed away that he didn't want any of his children to leave the Catholic religion so that they could see him again ... Anyways, she is so darling and we want to see her baptized so badly! So please please keep them in your prayers. Please pray for Ana to have a change of heart & pray for Maria simply to be able to be baptized!!
2. We had another exchange this past week and this time Hermana Briggs & I went to Yuba and spent a day there with my little baby Hermana Hughes!! I was so happy to be back in Yuba and to spend more time with Hermana Hughes. It was soo much fun!!! We had a wonderful time and I had a blast spending a day with two of my favorite Hermanas! Exchanges are the best!! Especially now that we strictly do them with the Spanish Hermanas.
3. We had an awesome chapel/church tour this last week with Amparo (mom - she's not the thug, it's Manuela - sorry, I mix up names sometimes!! Haha) and her kids & Cecilia. The Whitaker family came as well, this darling family in our branch - the wife is Mexican and her husband served his mission in Mexico & they have 3 adorable little children - and it was amazing!! We showed them every room of the building while giving quick lessons & descriptions of each room and then both Hermano y Hermana Whitaker bore their testimonies when we were in the chapel. It was super spiritual and I think it made them all feel a lot more comfortable coming to our church. Also, we made rolo cookies for them to eat afterwards and of course they loved that!! I love those families soo much. I have great faith that one day they'll all be baptized too. Right now I just have to exercise patience and know that all will happen in the Lord's timing.
4. President Marston truly is so amazing & such a loving, caring and thoughtful mission President. I was very excited because he came to our zone meeting this past week and so we got to spend a little bit of time with him and his sweet wife. I love them both so much. Also, he still responds to all of my emails!! Which makes me soo happy!!! In the response I just read from him he said,
"Dear Sister Barth,
Happy and excited as usual. I look forward to reading your letters. I actually sort them alphabeticallyin my mailbox so that I can pick yours out in a hurry to help my day get started right. And true "EVER UPWARDS."
Love and best regards,
I wrote "EVER UPWARDS!" in the past two emails I wrote to him haha so that's why he added that part but anyways, is he not the absolute sweetest!?! That little note honestly just made my day!! And makes my heart soo warm & happy. I appreciate his personal kindness so much and he really is such an incredible man. He sincerely feels like close family to me but then I also completely view, respect and admire him as my mission President. It's the best of both worlds. I am fully convinced I will have had the best mission presidents in the entire world!! I am so so so blessed. I still think about President Weston all the time too and stick to all of his personal, perhaps more strict, rules haha. I think all that he has taught me will forever be engraved in my mind. Both of my presidents, as Hermana Piggott said in her description to her family "are as different as night & day" but they both are so special and I love them soo much!!! Ps. I am so sad you weren't able to find President Weston at that farewell to meet him Abs!! I want you to meet him so much and I want him to meet you!
Well, I don't have too many other crazy updates to give .... everything is going wonderful here in Northern California and I still couldn't be happier. I have been taking dad's advice and trying to really take time each day to look around and soak in what I am doing. He said to, "Take time to breathe and look around. Memorize the streets and quaint little places that are unique. Take lots of pictures." I am definitely doing each of those things and enjoying my mission to the fullest and loving every single tiny second of it. Even the moments that may seem rough. Haha for an example: yesterday we went tracting after church in blazing, scorching hot weather and as we were going from door to door while sweating bullets, we kept running into English people who would LITERALLY slam their doors on our faces. Haha one lady was very rude & disrespectful as Hermana Briggs was simply offering service ... the lady shut the door right on her, mid-sentence! But as we were walking away I just gave my sweet Hermana Briggs a smile, chuckled out loud and said, "THIS IS THE LIFE OF A MISSIONARY!" And then I said how I am actually grateful for those moments of rejection because when they happen I feel like a true missionary haha. Also, I get a greater glimpse (still the tiniest, teeniest glimpse) of how the Savior felt when He was on the earth being rejected over and over and OVER again. The Savior, Lord and Redeemer of the world HIMSELF.
It reminds me of the scripture in the Bible that says, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." - John... Because the Lord Himself, while preaching His own gospel, was persecuted and rejected, of course, we as full-time missionaries, representatives and servants OF Him will be persecuted and rejected as well. We will be hated, looked down upon, mocked, etc. just as He was. It says in the precious verses, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." - John 25:18-19 ... It is only expected for us to be hated by the world and to be honest, I am proud of it. I am proud to be known as a representative of my Savior, to have His name on my chest and to preach that to all that I meet. I could not be happier to defend my Savior and to share His wonderful gospel. I love being set apart from the world and being as far away from it all as possible. Even if it may not seem to be the most "popular" or "convenient" thing to do. I know it is favorable in the eyes of God and and that's all that matters. I want HIS approval, not the worlds. Ohh I am so pleased to take upon myself the name of Jesus Christ and serve Him and do His work. Even if that means taking upon myself some of the rejection He took upon Himself for my personal sins & salvation. It's the very least I can do for Him.
To be completely honest, mission work is hard. It is. I know without a doubt it's the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. But like Elder Holland said in an MTC talk, "Why on earth would we expect missionary work to be easy for us, when it was NEVER easy for Him??" So yes, missionary work isn't easy, but it is by far the greatest thing in the entire world and more rewarding than I can possibly express. I am so unbelievably grateful for my mission experience and I truly cannot picture myself or my life without it. I wish so badly that every single person could come on my same mission and experience all that I have. My mission has sincerely changed me in more ways than I can express and I want every single person I know to serve one!!!! It is the best decision anyone could ever make because it is the best one I have ever ever made in all of my life. I can testify of that. My mission has changed who I am, who I want to become, my life, what kind of life I want to live, what kind of wife & mother I want to be one day, what kind of daughter of my Heavenly Father I want to be ... the list goes on. It has shaped me in so many ways and I am now beginning to know & see who I truly am inside. I am beginning to view my true identity. I am getting more of a glimpse of how my Father in Heaven sees me and of the potential I have as his Heavenly daughter. What a treasured gift that is. There is nothing greater or more valuable to me.
I have such a full heart and family, I know I say this all of the time but I truly love each & every one of you more than you can possibly imagine. I talk & talk & brag & brag a little more about each of you ALL the time and I have learned more than ever before that I have the most perfect family in the world. Yes, we're all not literally perfect and we each have our bumps & bruises but I could not feel more grateful for the family I have and I know that Heavenly Father put each of you individually in my life for an important & eternal reason. I am the luckiest & most blessed girl in the entire world. I love you all sooo much!!! I hope you know that and know how much I admire, look up to and completely adore you all. I could not feel more proud & honored to be a Barth.
I LOVE YOU ALL &
Con mucho amor y un gran abrazo (siempre),
Ps. I also forgot to mention I got 3 wedding invites in one week! Which leads to me addressing the fact that Jane & Ben will both be getting married this week!! Two of my very best friends. So so crazy!! And then Meg & Carter (that's so fun you saw Carter in the temple and then both of the outside, mom & dad!!), Zeke & Asia and Jaleigh, my roommate from BYU, were all married last week!! When is this wedding madness going to end??? Haha no, just kidding. I am very very happy & excited for each of them!! Send them all my love! And send me tons of pictures!!! I am positive they will both be gorgeous weddings and I want to see how the Gardiner's do this reception. Oh, please give them both big hugs from me!!! I love them so much. And mom, Marissa e-mailed me with a picture of you & her attached. I cannot believe Marissa is now home!!! We were emailing each other back and forth as missionaries just 2 weeks ago ... time is sure flying by. You both look so pretty though and the picture makes me very happy!
AND last but certainly not least, as was discovered by my packages never arriving ...
My address for packages is: