To the best fam bam in all the land:
First off, happy birthday last Saturday to little buddy!! ...who's not so little anymore!! Holy cannoli guacamole you're 14!! Where has the time gone?! You were 12 when I left...that is so crazy to think about! Well, I hope you partied hard and ate some good food and cake! (also I hope you liked my card #whompthereitis)
So I have never been so exhausted. Especially after this week. I felt more drained this week than I had in a while...and it came mainly because of 12 hours of meetings this weekend. But before I get into that, let me tell you about a few neat lessons we had this week.
We had dinner with a family and for our message we read "The First Great Commandment". That talk and its message get more powerful every time I read it. We also sang "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" and I know without a doubt they felt the Spirit. I know I've said it a million times but I'll say it again: I LOVE music and I LOVE using it in missionary work!!
After that lesson, we met a recent convert at Starbucks to have a lesson. Another brother in the ward met us there for the lesson. Before we started the recent concert told us we needed to talk to this lady (he had been talking to her before we got there). We turned around to talk to the lady sitting at a table by us. We talked with her and told her who we were. She said, "I have a question for you. Do you believe in God?" I jumped right in and emphatically said, "Yes, absolutely!" I told her we believe in God and Jesus Christ and she told us she didn't know that, she had heard the opposite. Our conversation led to telling her about the Book of Mormon and invited her to come to church. She was so kind and appreciated it so much. We will definitely be in touch with her!
On Friday, we had zone conference. Let me tell yinz, it was the weirdest feeling knowing it was my last zone conference. I participated a lot--I sang in 4 different musical numbers ha ha. It was a great experience though and I loved being able to share my gifts with others and go out with a bang!
Towards the end of the meeting, I gave my departing testimony. It really was like giving my "final words". It was definitely hard to get through--I cried the whole way through it (nothing's changed there ). I shared a few things in it that I wanted to share with you, one of them being a scripture.
1 ...My [elders] and my [sisters], behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of [Utah] that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?
2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?
3 Behold, I answer for you; for our [brothers and sisters], the [people of Pennsylvania], were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work.
This goes hand-in-hand with my mission scripture:
9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
It has been the greatest blessing and has been the greatest joy to be an instrument in His hands these past 18 months. I have come to know the Savior in ways I didn't know Him before. As Jeffrey R. Holland said, "After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before." In a small way, my mission has been encounters with the Savior which have left me changed forever. I have never been so aware and have felt so much of the reality of His love and His mercy. Christ *is* mercy. My mission has been so incredibly hard, but He has carried me through these 18 months. And He has made me able to do what I could never do on my own. His Atonement has changed me into a new person--I'm not who I was when I stepped into the MTC on September 23, 2015. I have learned how to turn to the Lord in all things and how to place my trust and confidence in Him. And it has blessed my life tremendously. Something I am coming to learn in these last few weeks is this: my purpose will never end. My purpose to invite others to come unto Christ will never end. I will be a missionary forever, because His name is engraved on my heart forever. My love for my Heavenly Father and Savior has grown immensely, as well as my desire to serve them. I know without a doubt what the Savior needs is for us to be His disciples and for us to be His disciples forever. To stay on His side, to fight for and defend Him. This is what I will strive to do for the rest of my life. I just can't express my gratitude enough for this precious opportunity to be a missionary. This ground here in Pennsylvania is sacred to me, and it always will be. I thought serving a mission would be a small way I would show Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ my love and gratitude for Them, but in reality, They have given me more than I ever thought I would receive in return for serving a mission. I will forever be in debt to Them.
Saturday: We were invited to the second half of the priesthood session, in which they introduced a new approach to reactivating less-active returned missionaries/Elders/High Priests. It includes assigned visitors to go with the missionaries (aside from home teaching) to reach out to these people. It's hard to explain, but it is really awesome and I'm excited to see it applied and see what miracles happen because of it. That evening we attended the adult session which was really good. For the closing hymn, we sang "As Sisters in Zion/We'll Bring the World His Truth". That song gets me every single time. I felt the Spirit so strongly--singing that as a missionary is seriously the best thing in the whole wide world.
Sunday: Stake conference in the morning. Guess what?! George came with his kids!! And the amazing thing is that they almost made it the whole two hours. I am so proud of them! I spent a lot of time with his daughter drawing pictures to keep her occupied. Needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot out of the meeting (I guess you could say I got a glimpse of what it's like to sit through a church meeting as a parent haha!). She drew me a few notes that said "I love you so much!"--I'll have to send pictures next week or something. It was so sweet! We also had a lesson with them Saturday morning and taught them more about who Jesus Christ and God are. They were all over the place but I know they learned something! Ha ha
Well, family. It's surreal knowing my time as a missionary here in Pennsylvania is getting ever closer to the end. But I love this calling I have. To labor, and teach, and serve, and testify...there's nothing better. This will forever be the best 18 months *for* my life. Without a doubt. I love being a missionary. I love my Savior. I love this gospel. I love the Book of Mormon--studying it every day on my mission has saved me.
I hope you have a beautiful week, and I'll see you in a few!! LOVE YOU TO HEAVEN AND BACK!!!
"Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever." (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland)
Sending love and a huge hug from PA,
Sister Bartlett xoxo
811 Frederick Court
Canonsburg, PA 15317
Car selfie :)
I saw Sister Kelley at Zone Conference - Yay!
Lunch with this cool bunch!Sisters DeWidt and Belnap and Elders Chafin and Halls
Love Sister Kwasney!
Ice Cream at Sarris (again) with the Stephens' after Stake Conference!
Look who came to see me - Mike and Chris!!Happy Day :)
Mom - I hope you are proud!!
"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yeah, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."