Friday, September 19, 2014

"Courage, for the Lord is on our side!"

Hello lovelies!

This has been a crazy week!! I have a lot to say, as always, haha so
here goes!!! Andale andale!!

      1. So, first off. We were told the best thing the other day. We
were Skyping Yamara and got into the topic of missionary work and how
she can be a missionary now (she also wants to be a full-time
missionary in the future). We told her how it is important that she
continues to help her family and talk to them about the church, read
with them in the Book of Mormon, etc. She then told us how after she
went to the temple once with the youth she talked to her mom all about
what she did and what baptisms for the dead are. Lorenza then told
Yamara that she wants her to go and be baptized for her grandma &
uncle that just passed away. How amazing is that!? Lorenza isn't even
baptized and she wants her family to be baptized in the temple!!! We
were thrilled at this news. We then continued to ask Yamara how
Lorenza was feeling about the church and everything, knowing she has
been attending church every Sunday with Yamara. She then followed to
say that after she read in the Book of Mormon with her mom, the night
before (which we keep inviting her to do) she said Lorenza told her
she believes in everything and knows the church is true. Yamara then
asked her why she won't be baptized yet and she said she is waiting
for a strong spiritual impression to. I think she is waiting for an
experience to occur like Yamara had with President Weston. We will
definitely teach Lorenza more about how we receive answers from the
Holy Ghost. I know she has already received her answer & impression
many times, she just needs to know how to recognize them. But can you
believe it!?! I mean, I have known she knew it was true for a long
time now but finally she is admitting it!! Well anyways, Hermana
Piggott & I truly couldn't wipe the smile off of our faces and we knew
right then that we needed to take action with Lorenza & the entire
Elizondo family. So this then leads to my next big, crazy news.
      2. SO, while weekly planning on Friday, us Hermanas were
praying, pondering and discussing many things and we began to talk
about the littlest town of Gridley. We took into consideration all
that had been addressed to us - President Lopez & Brother Orme telling
us how the area/branch was really struggling, investigators &
less-actives were going under the radar or falling between the cracks
because of the sudden outtake of Sisters - and President Lopez had
said how nice it would be if us Sisters would at least be able to
spend a couple of days in Gridley to help get things going again. So
anyways, since Gridley means so much to Hermana Piggott & I ... we, of
course, wanted to do all we could to help out. So we made the decision
to ask President Marston if we could spend one day a week in Gridley,
it's only 1 hour away, to do all we could to help. So, we did just
that. I called President and as soon as he answered I started giving
him the background on everything and then suddenly he spoke out during
my blabbering and said, "Would you like to spend one day a week in
Gridley??" Haha he read my mind!!! I told him this as well and he
laughed saying he knew where I was heading with it so he just got to
the point. I love it. He then said he felt it would be a great idea.
SO, we got permission to go to Gridley once a week!!! Miracle right??
First off, the fact that Hermana Piggott & I are back together again
and then for us to have permission to spend time in Gridley together
again?? It is too good!!! I know there is no coincidence for this.
These kinds of things don't happen!!
      3. So, the very next day (we didn't waste time) we went to
Gridley!! We visited with Marcella which was amazing. We got to see
her new one month year old baby boy which was soo much fun!! He is
adorable and she seems really happy so it was a lot of fun for us. She
hasn't been to church in awhile because her work shift had her working
on Sundays and then she had the baby but she said she misses it a lot
and wants to get going again so we're trying to help her do that. She
truly has one of the strongest spirits & testimonies. I love her sooo
so much and being with her and Hermana Piggott again, it simply made
my heart far too happy. Estrella was so adorable too, she speaks
English now which is crazy & so cute, however her speaking Spanish is
the cutest thing in the world... and it was so precious because she
clung on to us the entire time we were there and wouldn't quit hugging
goodbye when we were leaving. It killed me!!!! She is soo cute and I
love & care for her so much! I love my Marcella & Estrellita. And now
little baby Deamus. They are so precious. We then got to visit with
Any & Maria, I love them more than words. We tried visiting a few
others. Jackie, our favorite woman in the world, took us out to dinner
... and then we went over to the Elizondo's for a visit & lesson with
the entire family. Our goal was to leave their house, having them all
on date for baptism ... hahaha and this is how the lesson went!!!
      4. So, we fortunately got to sit down and teach the entire
Elizondo family. Yamara, Esgar, Antonio and Lorenza. I actually don't
fully know where to begin talking about this lesson because it was one
of the most spiritual, emotional and special lessons I have had on my
mission thus far. Wow. It was spiritually & emotionally exhausting to
say in the very least. We sat down and visited with the family, our
little familia Mexicana, for a little while and then began our lesson.
We chose to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have been
taught it many times before but it was time for them to all hear it
together again. Ohh there is sooo much to say about this lesson. We
started with faith and talked tons & tons about what faith is, what it
means to have faith, how we can act on our faith, show our faith, help
our faith grow, etc. Everything being said and all of the comments
being made were incredible, especially from Antonio & Lorenza. We then
got to repentance. We also talked tons and tons about repentance and
all that goes along with it. This was an incredible discussion we had
and for the very first time, we were able to see each of them talk
about their own needed repentance instead of pointing fingers at one
another (which was, in the past, usually the case). I talked a lot
about how when we are truly repentant, and part of the repentance
process... is when we are able to sincerely humble ourselves and
recognize & fully focus on our own personal errors, mistakes,
weaknesses and great need for repentance, Jesus Christ, His Atonement
and His forgiveness. It is when we can realize the only way to change,
progress and become more like our Savior is focusing on how we,
personally, need the Savior. It doesn't come from looking for,
recognizing, focusing on or pointing out other peoples flaws. Other
peoples mistakes won't impede our spiritual progression... only our
own will. So that was exactly what they needed to hear and after I
made my little spill, no fingers were pointed and it was soo
refreshing and good. Antonio & Lorenza both talked a lot about how
they want to personally change and become better. Hermana Briggs then
read Alma 5:14, "Y ahora os pregunto, hermanos míos de la iglesia:
¿Habéis nacido espiritualmente de Dios? ¿Habéis recibido su imagen en
vuestros rostros? ¿Habéis experimentado este gran cambio en vuestros
corazones?" and we asked them these questions. We asked them a way
they felt they could receive His image in their countenances, be born
of God and experience a big change in their hearts... and Lorenza then
said, "baptism." This then led to our next discussion. Baptism!! We
got to talk tons & tons about baptism. It was soo awesome too because
after Lorenza said baptism, Hermana Piggott said how we must be
baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to then receive the
fullness of Heavenly Father's blessings and have full access to the
Atonement of Jesus Christ & gift of repentance. Lorenza then asked
what made her baptism different and we told & testified to her of the
needed authority & power of God, the Priesthood for such a sacred
ordinance. And although our hearts sank a little when she asked that,
after we spoke of it and said how it was again, restored through
Joseph Smith, she asked again if we are the only church that has this
power and we said yes. As did Esgar, which was a surprise. And she
contently said, "okay" with a little grin on her face. We have
discussed this with her many times before so I think she was just
waiting for us to tell her what she already knows. I then asked her if
this was a desire she had in her heart, to truly change, follow Jesus
Christ and be baptized and she said, to our amazement .....
YESSS!!!!!! I have never thought that the word, "si" could sound more
beautiful in my entire life. Hermana Piggott then asked her why she
had this desire to be baptized as well and she said, "Because I want
that change, peace and happiness in myself & my life." It was music to
my ears!!!! Lorenza wants to be baptized!!!!!!! And not too long after
this we got to Antonio and he said he would be baptized after she is.
It is a miracle I tell you!!!! We then tried to get them on date but
nothing is solid yet. We still have some work to do. Nothing will be
happening immediately but I was completely shocked at the progress
they have made. Ohhh it was incredible!!! Also, Lorenza herself
offered to say the opening prayer for our lesson, it used to be like
pulling teeth to get her to pray and even so, it was only a few very
rare occasions when she did ... Miracle yet again!!! And then at the
end we said a kneeling prayer and Antonio said it!!!! Ahhhhhh miracle
after miracle after miracle!!! Also, I was crying during the closing
prayer because it had again, been the most spiritual, emotional,
happy, and overall craziest lesson we had ever had with them. I cannot
even describe it and there are sooo many details I wish I could share.
But some of the other reasons it got emotional too is because one, the
spirit was so so present in the room that it was impossible to ignore.
At one very spiritual moment Antonio paused and asked us, "How do you
two feel tonight? Do you feel something different? Do you know what
that is? It's the spirit. I feel it and I can see that you both feel
it too." Everyone else then nodded in agreement as well and the room
was completely silent minus his voice. This was the first time I have
seen Antonio be so touched by the spirit and actually, fully recognize
it. He even had tears in his eyes and said he couldn't fully express
how he felt. He could barely speak and get the words out. He then
continued to say that Hermana Piggott & I bring that spirit into their
home. He talked about how ever since the very first time we knocked on
his door he could feel something different and special from us and
that's why he let us in immediately and was so willing to listen to
what we had to say. He also continued to say the nicest and sweetest
things to the both of us. Far far too nice and complimentary actually.
He reminded us of when he was living in Washington and he prayed for
help and for someone to be sent to him. He moved back to California,
not fully understanding why, and then continued to tell us this was
why. Because his prayers were answered and we were sent to him. Not
one, but two of us. He then continued to say how we were angels and
he'd say stuff like, "These two were chosen. There's a difference from
when you choose to serve and when you are chosen. These two were
chosen and sent from Heaven." .... "We are all humans and these two
look like humans, but I often ask myself if they really are." He then
continued to talk about how we were angels to him and his family and
during all of this, I was all of the sudden hit with soooo much love
for the Elizondo family and everything he was saying meant sooo much
to me that I looked at Hermana Piggott with tears in my eyes and to my
surprise, she felt the exact same way. We both looked at each other
with eyes full of tears and it was truly a moment I will never ever
forget. I could not feel more love for the Elizondo family and I care
about them more than I can express. Lorenza also asked us, "Do you
feel something different here in our home with our family? Do you feel
different with us than any other family?" At first we didn't know what
she was getting at and then she said, "Cómo familia???" She hit right
on. We agreed, telling her we feel right at home in their home and she
got the biggest smile on her face and was happy we felt the same. The
Elizondo's truly do feel like our family and I feel sooo so close to
them. Ohh, they have such a big part of my heart. I honestly have
never wanted anything more badly then to see them happy and enter into
the path that leads to eternal life. There is nothing I want
more!!!!!! But so there was a ton that went on and was said during our
lesson but to end it, they completely believe everything and know that
the church is what they need and is what will bring them true
happiness and blessings ... but they just need to work out a few more
little kinks before baptism will be happening. I'll spare you the
details (I've already written a novel) but at the end, Hermana Piggott
said many powerful & profound words of testimony and then invited them
to help one another and unite as a family. She invited them to pray
every single night together. They each agreed and all that she said
really hit to the core. We both expressed our great & deep love & care
for each of them and told them we will do all we possibly can to help
them. It was so amazing and this was when I began to cry again. I
ended up crying throughout Antonio's prayer too and ahhh it was just
too much to take in!!!!! But in the best possible way!!! We have just
worked with this family for soo so long now, we fought & fought to get
Yamara baptized and then to help each of them progress, we've gained
the deepest love & care for them, been through the thick & thin and
still never lost hope or faith in each of them and we have truly
wanted so badly for them to succeed so it is all a very big deal. The
love & hope I feel for this family gives me a glimpse of how our
Heavenly Father must feel for each and every one of us. He loves us so
much and can see each of our divine potentials so even when we
continue to fail, He believes in us and wants to help us in every way
He possibly can to help us succeed. So anyways, I hope some of that
made sense but it was an incredible lesson and we are hoping to see
them again soon and then see them all dressed in white very soon as
well!!!! I will never give up in this family!!!!!!!!!!! Also, after
the lesson, Antonio & Lorenza made us their famous hot chocolate and
life was wonderful. I have never felt more blessed. Also, we all
agreed - the Elizondo family included - that there is no coincidence
Hermana Piggott & I were put back together and that we were given
permission to spend time in Gridley. It's incredible!! Heavenly Father
truly does work in mysterious ways... and I will continue to put my
trust in Him for all of my life.

      Sorry again, I apologize if my emails are too long to keep you
interested. If you don't read all of them, I full understand. Again, I
selfishly write them detailed & long for my own personal future
history. I don't have much time each night to write out all that I
want to in my journal so this way I can make sure I remember and have
record of the highlights of each week.

      The church is true my dearest family. I know it. I know it with
all of my heart. I also know that God is indeed our loving Heavenly
Father. He loves us infinitely, perfect and unconditionally as does
our Savior & Redeemer, Jesus Christ. They both live. I know it. I have
received an answer directly from the Holy Ghost. Time and time again.
I can feel this truthfulness burn inside of me and send chills up from
my toes to my ears when I speak to my Father in Heaven or share my
testimony with others. There is no denying it. Time is going by
quickly and today is the day to repent, change and choose to follow
the Savior. We must follow Him "with full purpose of heart, acting no
hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting
of (our) sins, witnessing unto the Father that (we) are willing to
take upon you the name of Christ...." - 2 Nephi 31:13 ... and not
procrastinate any longer. There isn't time to waste. We already know
who is going to win this battle and we must choose right now to be on
the winning team. We must choose to be on the Lord's side. We must
fight for Him and with Him, the captain of our salvation, for our own
personal salvation & exaltation.

"If we do what’s right we have no need to fear, for the Lord, our
helper, will ever be near. In the days of trial his Saints he will
cheer, and prosper the cause of truth .... Fear not, though the enemy
deride; (we must) Courage, for the Lord is on our side. We will heed
not what the wicked may say, but the Lord alone we will obey."

I love you all from the bottom of my heart!!!!!!!!


Con amor,

Hermana Barth

Ps. Mom I got your package!! It made my day!!! Thank you thank you!
You are truly the best! I love you so much!

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