December 28, 2015 {Week 28}: Happy New Year!

I have no tiiiiime, this is stressfulllll!

It was great skyping with the blurry faces of family for an hourish even if I didn’t get to talk to Abby.
Christmas was a littttle sad(all the elders apparently were in a  grumpy and foul mood on Christmas Eve accoring to Elder Sanders and Batz haha), and I’ve offically decided that there’s NOTHING like an American Christmas. These people do not understand what Christmas is really, let me tell ya…

Okay Christmas miracle of this year!  So we were skyping, the 4 of us, when we realized that Elder Batz was like bawling and sobbing while skyping with his family, but we all just thought he was like super trunky because he goes home in 5 Pdays and hasn’t talked to his family for like 6 or 7 months.  However, heres what really happened: So Elder Batz is the only member of his family and a convert of a little over 2 years(note a mission is 2 years) and his family is SUPER catolico, catolico catolico, but Elder Batz has faithfully been teaching them little Gospel principles, being obedient, sending them encouragement and discursos from la Liahona every Monday.  He finally saw the fruit of his labors…  His sister died a couple years ago, about 3 or less I think, so on Christmas day his parents set down put a picture of her in between them, put there arms around each other and tell Elder Batz “We are going to be an eternal family.  And your little brother is preparing to serve a mission. We want to get baptized.”……..  When Elder Batz told us that ALL of us broke down into tears(we as sisters had makeup everywhere haha), I personally wanted to sob.  He and Elder Sanders hugged it out so he could catch his breath and tell us all what had happened.  They are waiting for him to get home in February so he can baptize them.  I am so happy, that is truly a miracle for Elder Batz.  I love the power of the Gospel and the love the Lord has for us and the knowledge that my family is eternal.  Someday I will get married  in the temple, the House of the Lord, for time and all eternity.

So our dinner on Christmas Eve was American boxed macaroni and cheese in plastic cups, a little sad but still tasted good.  We had 3 Christmas activities this week!  The 25th in the morning was the breakfast with Santa, the kids kind of destroyed all our decorations, but it went over pretty good in the end.  Later that day we went caroling after skyping with our familes.  It was way fun!  And we actually had about 8 members that went out visiting with us and I am now a pro moto rider!  Okay, that’s not completely true. I’m still scared, but I can now sit on it in a skirt which was a huge accomplishment!

[This is NOT Erin, although it could be. I had to look twice.]

I need to learn how to drive a motorcycle when I get back(that’s on the bucket list).

Then the 26th, the biggest activity ever(I am gonna be SO ready for the activities committee when i get home, let me tell ya).  It was supposed to start at 3 but of course no one showed up until like 5, but the kids decorated cardboard houses with candy(which was a GENIUS IDEA on my part because they were so quiet and good), there was Christmas music in the background the entire time, the Elders shared a BOMB lesson about the Atonement and we watched the 2 beautiful church Christmas videos (here and here), and then the churrasco(barbeque).  There was a LOAD of food, literally a VAT of arroz con queso which probably weighed more than I do!  Literally a child could’ve fit inside the thing.

Toby died on the 25th too.  He was la familia Fernandez´s dog.  He’s been sick like the entire time I’ve been here in Riberalta, but he started losing weight this week and was lethargic and sweating all over his cardboard bed and then breathing heavily and slowly.  He died all alone with his little tooth sticking out.  I found him dead after we made pizza(the Elders were speechless after my pizza– yessss), they buried him out by the street about an hour afterwards.  It was so sad.  Hermana Justo cried.  That’s the first time I’ve ever actually seen like a dead body of something I once knew living.  Poor Toby… he was old but they also never took him to the vet.  Pobrecito Tobito.

It was a stressful Christmas, but I count it as a miracle.  A time when the 4 of us could work together really, really hard to make something really really great for our little flock here in Riberalta.  Riberalta needs a lot of help all the time but we are all so happy and willing to do anything we can to help them. We are unified in our mission purpose of bringing souls unto Christ.  This is a time in the mission the 4 of us will never forget, Elder Batz considers us his siblings and his best friends.  And I have to agree, these 3 missionaires are my friends, my examples, my leaders, and really they are like my siblings.  The Riberalta branch has changed so much this cambio and I’m hoping it can continue that way.  We have 3 weeks left to give it our all and help the less actives and recent converts and go back to “normal” missioanry life and that’s the plan.  I will probably never work as closely or as hard with a group of missionaries for the rest of my mission as I have had these past couple of weeks.  It’ll be hard to say goodbye to Riberalta and especially to the mission here in a year.  But I plan to do my best with what I get and where I am asked to go.

I AM ALMOST DONE WITH THE BOOK OF MORMON OUT LOUD IN SPANISH.  All I have left is 3 chapters in Moroni and I’ll finish!  I am gonna start Isaiah and Doctrine & Covenants afterwards, but I’ll let you know how it goes next week!

For those considering going on a mission– GO, those who don’t will never such happiness know.  I have never been so happy in my entire life, just happy all the time, smiling all the time, full of gracias a Dios all the time.  The mission is changing my life and I am helping others change theirs by helping them make sacred covenants of salvation with the Lord.  I know the Church is true, I know that through Him is the only way on Earth that we can return to live with our Father in Heaven.  Please prayerful consider going on a mission, your answer will be yes.  Read the  Book of Mormon, your patriarchal blessing, and modern day revelation and you will find the answers you seek.  The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ– and of that I testify everyday here in the heat of Bolivia.  I love the Book of Mormon and I love my Heavenly Father because of it.

Ponderize: Ether 12:33

Hna E Butikofer



A couple of pictures from our Christmas activities

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