Monday, December 2, 2013


Hola Mom and Pops,

Big news this week! I'm not sure how to start this so I will just jump

right into explaining: usually when people are transfered in this

mission, they get a phone call during the day before so they can have

time to pack, but not enough time to fill their whole day with saying

goodbye to everyone. This transfer there were a lot of emergency swaps

last minute, so a lot of people weren't fully informed. We got called

the night before transfer meeting, and were told that Hermana I.

would be leaving and that Hermana C. and I would stay. Of course

we were all sad, and spent the whole night helping her pack up and

write little notes to everyone, but by the time we got to transfer

meeting the next morning, we were all ready for whatever was coming.

Or so we thought. When Las Arboledas came up on the slideshow, it

showed Hermana C.'s picture, and her new trainer, and NOT MINE. I

was very confused--why wasn't I in the area that I was supposed to be?

It wasn't until a couple slides later that my picture showed up with

Hermana W. for the area of Monte Cristo (still in the stake

Ilopango!). Surprise! I was being transfered! It was pretty crazy--we

had to run home to my house and pack everything up (y'all should be

proud that I only took 45 minutes to pack) before we could start our

day. I loved it, I'm not gonna lie. It was an adventure, and I love


Now, I'm sure you all want to know a little bit about Monte Cristo.

I'll be sending some photos in another email today, but we've already

had a baptism since I got here! It was so exciting! The sister is a

member of a family of recent converts who have been getting baptized

one by one over the past few months (and will be getting baptized in

the coming months).

This family is incredible. We spend a lot of time at their house,

teaching members of their family and other investigators, so I have

already gotten to know them really well (and the 11 year old

stepdaughter calls me her "hermanita" so that is pretty hilarious).

They are so generous and loving. I stepped into their house the first

day I got to Monte Cristo and they were all hugging me pretty much the

instant I got there. I am going to have a great transfer here--the

other hermanas left our area in really good shape (a lot of really

positive investigators, involvement of members, and references), and

Hermana W. and I are planning to work really hard to keep it that


Speaking of Hermana W., she is great! The first things she said

to me when we started planning for our first day together is that she

is a stickler for obedience, punctuality, and listening--all of which

are things I felt like I was lacking (not much, just a little

bit...don't worry!) in my other companionship! I love that she is so

direct and so firm in her testimony. I have loved all my companions so

far, but what I love most of all is that they all have different

strengths that I can learn from and that I always have something I can

be applying a little more in my life.

My wisdom from this week is the importance of how you view things/what

your vision is. I was sitting in a Relief Society meeting on Sunday,

listening to the importance of Visiting Teaching, when all of a

sudden, it just clicked in my head how truly important Relief Society

can be, when done right. I never really took the idea of bringing

people food when they are sick or going through hard times seriously,

but in that moment, I could see how powerful the impact of a

fresh-cooked, hearty meal could be when someone really was struggling

to make it through the day. When it seems like the world is falling

apart, the little things really do make a difference. I know that this

church has the power to change lives, and that service has power more

than anything else to change people's hearts. Christ when he was on

the earth "went about doing good", and as members of his church we

should do the same.

Love you ALL,

Hermana Romero

PS. Please inform Christy Haynie that I have gotten her Christmas

letter and that, even though it is going to be a challenge, I will

wait until Christmas to open it.

Hey folks,

I don't know how this happened, but it's already the week of my first

cambio (change) here in El Salvador. We are all praying that the three

of us get to stay in Las Arboledas the next change (because that

includes Christmas, as well as the baptisms of some of our favorite

investigators), but I have been praying a lot for the strength to

accept the Lord's will, whatever that may be. Next week, you all get

to find out if anything is changing or if I get the privilege of

staying here for another 6 weeks. Seriously though, it's crazy how

fast time flies on the mission!

Let me first start with the miracle of the week. We had an

investigator who we taught first or second day I was here, and his

cousin was visiting for the day and sat in on the lesson. She (the

cousin) was so positive, and accepted everything so easily, but we

didn't get her exact address so this whole change we have been looking

for her! This past week, we finally found her house and she was home,

and we were able to teach her another lesson. We found out that she

has been reading the pamphlets we left with her and even sharing them

with a coworker who also felt like he was learning so much. I felt

incredible because I had, on the way out of the first lesson, left a

Book of Mormon with her, and she has been reading that too. She said

it answers so many of her questions. It was incredible to see that a

little seed I had sowed a few weeks ago has already had such

incredible fruits. Hopefully I will have more to tell you all about

Paola next week!

This week, I have been reading the Book of Mormon like a fiend. The

rule in this mission is that you can¨t read for your personal benefit

during personal study time, since this is time dedicated to studying

on behalf of investigators. So you have to sneak 5 minutes in during

lunch, or while your companions are getting ready, or while brushing

your teeth, etc. I have a goal to finish by the end of the year, which

is acheivable only if I can read 10 pages a day, which miraculously I

have been achieving! Plus it is helping me so much with learning my

Spanish. I am going to be fluent in no time! My favorite of the week

is Alma 17:2 which talks about how Alma sees that his friends are

still "his brethren in the Lord". This is really my greatest desire in

life--to see the people I love stay firm in the Gospel that I love.

To Mom and Dad, thank you for your emails!!! I am so glad I looked at

them before I sent this letter, because I get to send my love to dear

Abby White! That is, if she is still visiting. She is a sweetie, and

you all are so lucky to spend this time with her. I love hearing about

Joeys Park, and all that is going on.

Much Love,

Hermana Romero

Hey folks back home!

This week/this Pday is one of my best weeks in the mission to date. I

will start by sharing the funny story that prompted the subject of

this email...Hermana C., Hermana I. and I were sitting on

our beds, practicing/preparing for a lesson. All of a sudden, Hermana

C. said to us, "Tengo hambre!" (I'm hungry), and pulled a giant

pack of cookies from her skirt pocket. Hermana I. and I looked

at each other and started laughing.

In terms of the great news, I didn't want to jinx it, but we had our

first baptism this weekend! She is a sweet sweet girl, who has an

incredible desire to follow Christ and be an example to her (less

active) boyfriend, and to her family. The ward has been so supportive

of her, which I love!

I have also been growing so much personally. One of the things that

has been my goal my whole mission is learning to be more charitable.

Perhaps I am pretty good at being nice to others (or, for the least,

not being mean), but I feel like I lack the true charity, which is

having the pure love of God for all people always in your heart. This

week the method of how to do this (in my case, always be asking myself

if I am a blessing or a burden to my companions) became very clear to

me, and at the same time, I learned to forgive and love myself as I

am. Which is another flaw of mine, that I tend to be quite self


An object lesson from a FHE here in Las Arboledas: A brother from the

ward drew a black dot on a white piece of paper and asked us what we

saw. Answers varied from a hole, an oreo, a point, a dot, etc. After

everyone in the room had answered, he explained that, when looking at

others, so often we focus on the point, on their flaws (the black

point). We ignore everything else about them (the white paper) and

focus on these small flaws. I feel like the same applies to

ourselves--that we need to be forgiving and loving to ourselves. I am

not a perfect missionary. I often feel like Moses in Exodus 4:10, that

I am slow and stuttering of tongue in Spanish. But I am not called to

be perfect, only to give all I can.

As far as my food, I just want to reassure you that I am in great

hands! The wife of our bishop has basically adopted us, and she makes

us lunch (complete with vegetables and meat!) almost every day. In

this mission, we have funds provided for having a cook, so we pay her

for this incredible service (just so you don't worry about us imposing

on her). I think this is one of the changes that I have seen in this

ward since I got here--that they are really starting to love and

appreciate us missionaries, and that likewise, we are trying to serve

them in return. In Latin culture, food is a sign of love, so seeing

that people want to feed us really is progress!

Another cool thing about this week, is the multizone conference in

which we were spiritually fed. I learned a lot, and (as is custom of

the Glaziers), walked away with a new pithy question to ask myself: Is

this helping me baptize and retain? Everything in the mission

ultimately comes down to these two words: baptize and retain. As I

strive to emulate the example of Christ, I need to keep in mind his

purposes in life: help others live a more virtuous life that

ultimately leads to the presence of God. The way we can measure if we

are working towards this goals is thinking about these two things

(baptize new people, and help retain everyone that is already on the


I too, have been praying as you, Mom for Aunt Linda, and that the will

of the Lord may be accomplished in her situation. I admire your love

and your service so much.

Loving you all so much,

Hermana Romero
Hermana Romero

El Salvador San Salvador East Mission

Apartado Postal 3362

CP San Salvador, San Salvador

El Salvador

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Things you never thought to be grateful for

Hey Mom and Pops!

I just started my half hour, so and I'm already writing you guys so this is great! Also, it makes me happy to hear that you are sending me letters. I haven't received a single one since my first day in El Salvador, and I was worried you had stopped sending them. It is incredible to me how much love I can feel in every letter and email you send. Today I made it my goal, since it is P Day to write more letters so that other people can feel the same love I feel whenever I get a letter from someone I care about.

One thing I really love is reading Mom's summary of the talks in Sacrament that week. For instance, last week she talked about a recent convert giving a talk about the importance of inviting friends to church activities (including non-Sunday ones, which are often way less scary for the inviter and the invitee), and this week, it just happened to apply perfectly to the ward of Las Arboledas! This month, we have a theme in our mission (as in the whole world, since last General Conference) of working with the members, so this short email from Mom was exactly the answer to our prayers! We have been working on encouraging members to bring friends to activities, and inviting our own investigators, so we'll seen in a couple weeks the fruit of this

Okay, here is my funny thing of this week. In honor of Thanksgiving coming up, I have made a list of things you never thought to be grateful for:
-A sink and a toilet that work every day
-Not having a lock on every door of your house (including inside your house)
-doors you can knock on without something metal
-being able to wash your toothbrush with tap water
-being able to drink tap water
-showering from a shower, and not a bucket (although for the bucket, you have to give credit to the eco-friendly nature of such showers...much more efficient!)
-hot water!

This week, for various reasons, I have felt a little bit down, but today, I looked back at our three (almost four now!) weeks in Las Arboledas, and I realized we have achieved so much. Even though I am by no means a perfect missionary, I know that I am getting better every day, and that I am doing the best I can to help others enjoy the close relationship with our Heavenly Father and truly, the joy! that comes from living the principles of the Gospel and truly trying to follow Christ. Every time I open my mouth to testify, I can feel the Spirit confirming to me what I say. I can feel that this is an incredible work and that sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ really brings such happiness to me.

Love to you and the whole family and every friend that reads this blog! Enjoy this precious precious autumntime (seriously, that's one of the few things I miss)

Hermana Romero

PS. I am hoping that something really awesome happens this Saturday and that I can send you pictures, but until then, I am making no promises. Await my next email eagerly. :D

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

No lights, Animal droppings & a Disappoinment

Hola Ma and Pa,

Thanks as always for your love and prayers and letters! I just think of you all and your support when the going gets rough, and I know I can overcome any challenge!

This week has certainly been exciting! Tuesday to Wednesday, we had exchanges with the sister training leaders--Hermana C. and I went to Ciudad Delgado (also in Soyapongo) and Hermana I. stayed in Las Arboledas with two other hermanas. It was an incredible experience, and I learned so much about how to teach, how to contact, how to study, etc. more effectively.

When Hermana C. and I got back to Las Arboledas, that's when things started going wrong! First our light went out, and it turned out we had been paying the receipt of our neighbor and he hadn't paid ours. Now everything is straightened out, but for a day or two, we lived like the pioneers! Then I started finding small droppings all over the place, and this was a little bit terrifying for me. I do not like animals, and especially not in my house! After searching for the light box, we discovered that there was a bunny! It escaped from our neighbor's house, climbed onto our balcony (everything is right next to each other here, so it makes sense), and from there got into our house. We left it on the balcony for an hour or so. It wasn't there when we got back so I guess that turned out alright!

I think the most disappointing thing of this week is that this sweet hermana was going to be baptized on Friday, but her parents did not react very positively to this and decided to keep her in the house and not let her talk to anyone, including her (member) boyfriend! (She is in her late 20s, so it surprised me that she lets her parents have this much control over her life).

Another crazy thing happened this week--Dia de los Muertos! It is insane over here, everyone out in the streets with their family, everyone else selling plastic flowers to put on graves. It's festive and bright and I love it!

Ahh so our email time has been cut in half, and I really am struggling to type & send all the amazing experiences I have been having. One of my favorite spiritual experiences or insights of the week is this incredible realization I had about what grace and the Atonement can do for us in our daily lives. I have been thinking a lot lately about my tendency to get frustruated with people that I spend a lot of time with. I personally consider this a weakness, and one that can be remedied by learning to have true charity. As I flipped through the Bible Dictionary the other day, I read the following sentence:

"It is through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, recieve strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means."

I know that there is so much more that I would like to do than I can acheive on my own. As I have tried to come unto Christ and be the best missionary I can, I have become more aware of my own weaknesses and have been filled with a desire to overcome them. But I cannot acheive this on my own. Whenever I think that there is too much for me to do, I know I can rely on Christ. I do my part by trying as hard as I can to develop patience, love, charity, diligence....any good quality that I desire...but it is Christ that grants me the ability to do so.

I love you all so much! I hope that you have had a happy Halloween, and I am praying for you all. Love,

Hermana Romero

PS One thing we have been doing as a companionship that I really love is, every night, before our prayer together, each listing a miracle we saw in our lives that day. There really are daily blessings and miracles when we are living righteously!
Here is my mailing address if you'd like:

El Salvador San Salvador East Mission

Apartado Postal 3362

CP San Salvador, San Salvador

El Salvador

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Ha phewww I feel so much better this week! It was just my stomach adjusting to the food here. But I got some Pepto halfway through last week and now I don't even have to take it anymore! And it feels like I have friends here finally. It was rough, the transition from feeling so loved and at home at the CCM to feeling like I had no one here.

Wow, so cool news is that we have 6 baptismal dates and there were zero when Hermana C. and I got here. One lesson, we were teaching a woman, and it was going really well. It seemed that we were all feeling the spirit. I made eye contact with Hermana I., and she gave me a mini nod, so I assumed that meant I was supposed to invite the investigator to baptism. Turns out, Hermana I. just thought I was trying to say something and was encouraging me to speak. But it all turned out for the best because she accepted!

I feel like my testimony has been growing so much out here on my mission. Every time I teach someone about the first vision, or the Atonement, I can feel the Holy Ghost testifying to me of the truth of what I am teaching. I know that the Holy Ghost is what changes people's lives, not our lessons. It is what motivates people to act, to pray, to repent, to draw nearer to God through the medium of the Gospel. We really just have the small role of allowing it to teach people through us!

As I wrote in my short email to Mom, my understanding of what faith is and how we, as ordinary faithful members of the church can use it, has grown SO much these past few weeks. (If you are interested in this topic, I recommend Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by Gene R. Cook. It is incredible). I had an incredible experience with this this morning. Lately I have had trouble with talking to people on the street (for obvious reasons--that I am not very good at Spanish still and worry about not being able to communicate anything meaningful).

However, this morning, in my prayer, I made a promise with Heavenly Father that I would not only say the easy "Good morning" or "We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, have you had the chance to meet with missionaries before?" What I wanted to do was have a meaningful conversation and leave the person I was talking to ready to learn more. We were waiting for a bus this morning to head into the city to deal with some immigration stuff for Hermana C. (a complicated process), and asked for the help of woman also waiting. She was so helpful, and I felt an overwelming feeling that we as a church need her! We sat together on the bus, and I found a way to share not just a pamphlet but almost all of the first lesson! It was incredible, and it felt like we were both feeling the Spirit.

Also, the best thing was, after we got off the bus, she had arranged for a driver from her work to drive the four of us (her, me, and my two companions) to the Immigration office. The looks on all the other missionaries' faces when we got dropped off in a car was soo worth it.

Alright, so the conclusion of my short story is this: that the Lord blesses us when we demonstrate our faith and are truly committed to acting. Like one of the elders in my MTC district said, Heavenly Father wants to bless us, he just asks that we obey his commandments first.

Love love love,

Hermana Romero


My first real email from El Salvador! Although we all got the chance to write a short email to our parents last week, I haven't had a full P day until today. I hope you aren't dying over there Mom! I know you love my emails, and I'm glad you like the pictures (still don't have a converter, so I will hopefully be forwarding you a few from Hermana I.).

(Good news dad, I think you will love this--Hermana G. LOVES Clay's new book, so I got it approved to read. And guess who else loves it now?!? My trainer, Hermana I.)

(You guys are teaching Primary?? Since when??!)

This week, I started forgetting English (Just kidding, that happened long before my mission). I turned to my companion, Hermana I., and asked her if "happy cookie" (galleta feliz, as the title suggest) was an expression in English. I think I was trying to think of "happy camper"...? Either way, we both thought it was pretty much hilarious!

Speaking of companions, let's talk about my new ones. Yes, that is plural...I am in a trio again! Again, it is perfect because I have Hermana I. as a buffer/translator between me and Hermana C. who speaks about 3 words of English (and all the English she knows we have taught her. But all the Latina missionaries here are supposed to learn English so we are helping her.) We are in a beautiful area called Las Arboledas in the zone Ilopango (I love the sound of the word "Ilopango". You should get Kevin to say it for you).

I guess as far as my spiritual thought this week, it is definitely different, a lot more real to be out here teaching real people. I am helping REAL people come unto Christ, and that is such a blessing. I can see the light of the Gospel coming into their eyes. It is truly like we are finding Christ's lost sheep, and bringing them back to the fold.

Also, I would like to invite every sibling/parent to send me (in the next month, and maybe one every month for the rest of my mission) a photo of themselves taken recently and a sentence or two about what they are up to in their photo. You all expect me to send photos, but never update me about your life!! :)


I am not sure how much time I get to be on here tonight, but I just wanted to let you know that I am safe and sound, staying at the mission presidents home tonight and tomorrow, going to the temple tomorrow! And leaving Wednesday...I am so excited to find out where my first area is and who my first companion is.

Fun facts: when we got here, it was completely dark!! At 6:45!! Sunset is about 5:30 ans sunrise is 5ish... And apparently they pull sisters in at 8:00 just to be safe and because people go to bed early here.

Also hahah this cracks me plane friend told me (after finding out that I would be spending 18 months in El Salvador) that he was going to pray for two things: my safety and for the Mexicans to win the preliminary game for the World Cup tomorrow!


1. Continuing in the grand Baratta tradition of injuring missionaries while playing a fun game of soccer, I mildly sprained my companion (Hermana G.'s) ankle while trying to steal the ball from her! Luckily she is a champ, and has been recovering really well. Although last night, we went to see the doctor, and it was the MEXICAN one so he couldn't really understand us and we couldn't fully understand him either, so he sat us down in a sort of sketchy looking back room, sprayed some icy spray on Hermana Graham's foot, and told us to wait there for half an hour. Then he gave Hermana Graham two pills, which she dutifully took, only to realize they were double doses of Ibuprophen and she had already taken two! She was a little loopy and incapable of speaking Spanish the rest of the night, but I guess that's what happens when you have 1200 mg of Ibuprophen in your system...always an adventure at the MTC haha!

2. We had a very crazy night of sleep this week! Apparently (and this is all relayed secondhand from Hermana G. because the only thing I could remember was a mosquito buzzing in my ear and me trying to kill it), Hermana D. was sleep talking IN SPANISH all night, about the bubulubus. Who knows why! And then a couple of our casa-mates had a 2 AM flight, so someone came and banged on our door/rang on the doorbell really loudly in the middle of the night. Hermana G. was so terrified that someone was coming to break into our house, that she came and got me up so we could check it out together. The weirdest part is: I have NO RECOLLECTION of getting up. Freaky! But hilarious. :)

3. Our teacher told us she had talked to President Pratt about having us sing at a devotional (since the entire district is insanely musically talented!) and later that evening, everyone in went to go talk to him about it, and see whether we could actually do it. He stared at them strangely, and said, "I don't even know what you're talking about." and then walked away. Because he is hilariously frank like that.

Okay, finally, the highlight (nonspiritually, at least) of my week: I have made friends with some of the hairdressers here, from socializing with them (in Spanish, no less!) at lunch, and one of them, when she heard that I was leaving this week, said that she would miss me! It was really sweet. Then I told her that I miss her (present tense), so I guess I still have a ways to go with my Spanish! At least people seem to understand me pretty well, even if I have trouble understanding them.


I am so excited to head out to El Salvador. Still don't know my flight plans, but I'll get 'em soon. Plus I get another email day before I leave, Monday or Tuesday!

Hermana Romero

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Update on Sending Packages and/or Letters

Hermana Romero/Baratta forwarded this on Thursday Oct 3:

from: Rosemary Baratta
to: Mom , Dad
date: Thu, Oct 3, 2013

Please inform people of the content of the email I just forwarded, and (THIS IS URGENT) please tell people to start sending  Dear Elders [plus any mailed letters - added by mom] to El Salvador because they take about 2 weeks to get here (I just got the September 21st ones yesterday) and I have less than two weeks left in Mexico! (crazy how time flies)

The address we were given for mailing letters to El Salvador is:
Sister Rosemary Julia Baratta
El Salvador San Salvador East Mission
Boulevard del Hipodromo No 537
Colonia San Benito
CP, San Salvador
El Salvador

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: El Salvador San Salvador East Mission
Date: Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 11:00 AM
Subject: El Salvador San Salvador East Mission

Welcome to the El Salvador San Salvador East Mission! Just a word of caution that we would like for you to send on to your parents and loved ones; the postal system here in El Salvador is very unreliable so please tell your parents and loved ones to NOT send packages by private mail systems like UPS, DHL express, Fedex, etc. If they do the packages will be stuck in airport customs and we will not be able to retrieve them. Please tell your loved ones to send packages by US mail as these will arrive directly to our office without any fees or problems. The address to send packages to is:
Elder/Sister (Your name)                     = Sister Rosemary Julia Baratta
Mision El Salvador San Salvador East
PO Box # 3362
San Salvador , El Salvador
Central America
Thank you and we are very excited to have you join us here in El Salvador very soon!
Elder Soza
Secretario de Migración y Viajes
Misión El Salvador San Salvador Este.

Since we haven't gotten any photos this week, here's another from earlier weeks.

Hahah - the Elders trying to sneak into our Hermana picture

This was the day she arrived at the MTC
& was greeted by the Christensens

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week 4: These are spicy pickles!


Dearest family! (and friends)

Do I have a good story for you all this week! (As always, the best stories about me and are about my relationship with food haha). Tuesday evening, I was putting dressing on my salad, and I saw a bucket of pickles. At least, they looked like pickles, and they smelled like pickles! I decided it had been a while since I had last eaten a pickle, so I grabbed one for my plate. Midway into the meal, I remembered the pickle and excitedly took a bite. An itty bitty bite. All of a sudden, my mouth felt like it was on fire! I spat it out, and, turning to my companion, said, "These are spicy pickles!" ...Turns out, they were jalapeños and not pickles!!

On another note, Mexico City has a TON of mosquitos (I guess because it is the rainy season here?). Sometimes, when there are a lot of them in our casa/bedroom, I go a little crazy, trying to kill them. Last night, Hermana G. and I spent about 15 minutes stalking around our room, hitting stuff (since they like to hide in the randomest of places) and chasing any that came free. Basically, the best way to describe my attitude towards these little fellers is: "Come closer to me so I can kill you." Luckily I only have about three bites, so apparently they aren't as fierce as the ones in Yosemite or Massachusetts.

So, spicy pickles and mosquitos aside (or included, since I still am getting a good laugh out of them!), the CCM is still great. We have been teaching a lot lately, especially since we added two more "investigators" to our teaching pool (two of the elders in our district). It is decently fun, but a little discouraging when I can tell that they are just listening out of politeness and not feeling the spirit. Since I just hit the one month mark of being out on my mission, I have been a little introspective, and wondering how I have grown/changed/developed over this past month. I think part of it is for sure the lifestyle that I have been living has changed...The things I do to fill my time here at the CCM are very different from the things I used to do when I was at home before my mission. However, I hope I have changed in more than just my habits...I hope it is my character that is changing too!

We had a phenomenal devotional on Sunday that has put into words and powerfully reminded me what I must do to be an effective missionary, not only here at the CCM or out in the mission field, but also for the rest of my life. The speaker, President (Brother?) C., spoke about Christ's statement, "Render unto Caesar's that which is Caesar's, and render unto God, that which is God's."* (M&D, if you can look up a reference for that, that would be great! I don't have it written down anywhere). Specifically the second half of it, because God has created us in his image, and this statement ought to remind us that we must render ourselves unto God. Rendering yourself unto God is a higher level of obedience than merely doing what you are supposed to according to a set of rules. It's higher, even, than D&C 58:26-27*, be anxiously engaged, rather than being slothful. It is consecrating or dedicating our time, our whole souls, everything to God.

I feel that this goes along with another idea I have been thinking about lately: admitting that we don't always know what the right thing to do is, trusting that God will guide us if we try to do the right, and trusting that His plan is better than ours, even when we have a hard time understanding how. I know that God will bring peace to our hearts if we try to follow his will. It may not always be answers to our questions, but if we are willing to follow him, we will be blessed with the ability to accept how things are. I have seen this time and time again in my life, and it is one of the greatest ways that I have felt God's love.

Also, Moses 1:39 "my [God's] work and my glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" and D&C 4:5 "And faith, hope, love, charity, and an eye single to the glory of God" are talking about the same thing. I wish I could say I came up with that myself, but it's from Brother C.s' talk. It reminds me of how someone (one of the elders in my district, perhaps?) was describing how the gospel is like a tapestry, and all of the threads are interwoven and connected. It's the same way with the scriptures...Themes pop up across the scriptures, verses that echo each me, it testifies that there is a Divine revelator, inspiring all these works, and that his hand is in all of these.

Another such connection (2 Nephi 33:1*, Ether 12:25*), is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. When I was younger, I used to prefer writing to speaking, because it allowed me the time and ability to control my words, and communicate my ideas clearly. As I have grown in my understanding of the Gospel, I have started to understand what Nephi means when he says, "I am not as powerful to write as to speak" (Pardon my terrible translation from Spanish to English!). I am beginning to understand that, when speaking, face to face, with another person, not only can you understand better what they are saying with their body language and tone of voice, but you also can allow the Spirit to testify through your words. As you do this, the actual words you say become less important, and the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in the other person's heart (and what it testifies to them they must do) become more important. So cool.

Here is another cool (but slightly strange experience). We have all had to take on different characters (preferrably based on real people we know - I chose a non-Mormon friend of mine) and pretend to be investigators for the other missionaries of the district. I took this pretty seriously - when the missionaries challenged me (as the investigator) to read the Book of Mormon, that night, I went home and did that. As I read, I felt prompted to stop and pray, so I did. As I prayed a simple prayer ("Heavenly Father, if you are there, I just want to know"), and I felt an incredible feeling of love wash over me, and I KNEW that God loved the actual friend who I was praying on behalf of. Incredible.

Hermana Romero/Baratta in front of the CCM
[Missionary Training Center] in Mexico City
I am so delighted to hear from so many friends and family!! I get more dear elders than everyone else in the district (probably put together haha). I am only supposed to write back on P Day, so I do what I can, as promptly as I can. I am glad to hear that everyone is doing well, and especially that Dad is working on Joey's Park (as a director? I skimmed that email, sorry!) Love you all and best of luck!! If you want to hear about anything more specific, please send it to me in my email, and I will try to address it next week,
Hermana Romero

PS, Don't forget -- start sending letters to El Salvador this week, because they will NOT get to Mexico before I leave! Much much much love to you all!

Hermana Romano/Baratta with her district
in front of the Mexico City Temple

"We have a beautiful view of the mountains, 
and the brightly colored houses that are covering them. 
The houses are SO close together here!"

From the New Testament of the Bible: 
MATT. 22:21 ... Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. 
From an LDS book of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants:
D&C 58:26-27
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. 
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; 
The next two are from another LDS book of scripture called the Book of Mormon:
2 Nephi 33:1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
Ether 12:25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness , and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hola Familia Querida,

What an amazing week this has been! I thought it couldn´t get better after last week´s birthday celebration! (I hope M&D have been forwarding photos because these describe the festivities a little bit more) but it absolutely did! I think part of the key of what has been making me happy these past few days is making a concerted effort to do three things: 1. be on time to EVERYTHING (which, haha, if you know me at all, you know punctuality is not my strong suit...except in the morning because I am the lowest maintainence girl you will ever meet!) 2. to be more friendly with everyone--missionaries, staff, teachers, EVERYONE and 3. speak spanish ALWAYS because that is the only way I will learn it.

Of course, I haven’t been perfect in any of these things, but making and working on goals really is the key to happiness and satisfaction, at least in my life. Plus I have gotten to make friends with a lot of Mexicans here! They are so patient, even when I talk in my terribly slow, broken Spanish. Echoing the words of Hermana G., I love Mexicans! They are really amazing, and one of the women I ate lunch with one time, the hair dresser for the CCM, is named Rosie too! How cool!

We travel in style! our bus to the temple
was a Mercedes Benz!    Hahaha
As you may be able to tell from this week´s photos, I have a new name on my plaque! How did that come about? Well haha I was going to thank Presidente P. for a talk he gave, and he took one look at my last name, and said something like, Sister, do you know what your last name means in Spanish? And I said that I did, and he suggested that I might prefer a different name, since ´´Sister Cheap´´ sort of sends the wrong impression! So after some deliberation, I chose Hermana Romero (Romero = Rosemary), which STILL gets a lot of comments from the natives, because it sounds Mexican! Haha you just can´t win! Lately, I´ve started telling people my last name is Italian and that it sounds Spanish because it is just easier that way!!!

Another fun fact about my name change. When Hermana N. found out I could have changed it to anything, she said, ´´You should have changed it to N.! I´ve always wanted to teach an Hermana N.´´ Haha I love her. Both my teachers actually. They are great!

Haha so you are all probably wondering what on earth a bubulubu is! (Pronounced boobooloooboo, and if you were saying it any other way, you are wrong!) It is the strangest Mexican jelly candy I have ever encountered. Nobody likes the way they taste, but the name is SO fun to say, that in our district, it has become sort of a catch phrase to say that to each other.

In addition to being an amazingly hilarious and fun experience, the CCM is also really spiritually uplifting. I think it was Sister J. of the Boston mission who told me, ´´As a missionary, you only get one hour to study each day´´, and at first, I was confused why she would say ´´only´´, because, before my mission I would read scriptures for probably max of half an hour. In the past few weeks my scripture study has exploded. I have so many things I want to do, but not nearly enough time--I want to study how to be a better missionary in Preach My Gospel, keep reading the New Testament (to read of the example of Christ), look for scriptures our ´´investigators´´ need, read the Book of Mormon in Spanish, memorize scriptures, etc, etc and there just isn´t enough time! I am so grateful for the days when my district can actually be silent, because getting really good morning scripture study just makes my day go sooo much better.

This week, I have been thinking about my incredible spiritual inheritance. I have been blessed with talents and a testimony and I really feel a desire to share the Gospel with everyone. People out there in the world are so amazing, and I want to help them discover the great joy I have found in being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Good thing, huh? Because I have 18 months of that! :)

Love you all, and eagerly awaiting any letters and emails you send!
Hermana Baratta

P.S. I am 99% certain you can still address me in letters as Hermana Baratta, and 100% certain you can still think of me as Hermana Baratta

In Rosie's first blog post, she commented:
"Oh, and fun fact: it rains every day here! for only about an hour, but I am so grateful to have my umbrella."
This week she sent us two photos documenting a couple of her experiences with those daily rains.

We got back from exercise time to find that it has begun down-pouring
and ´´The calle {road} is a rio! {river}´´

On our way back to class that evening, we waded barefoot through the water.
I felt bad for the elders--they couldn´t avoid getting wet so easily!

Monday, September 23, 2013

¡Hoy es mi cumpleaños!

from: Rosemary Baratta 
date: Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM
subject: Week 2: ¡Hoy es mi cumpleaños!

Hola familia!

It´s been another wonderful week at the Mexico CCM. A little harder than last week, but nothing that´s worth writing home about. And I am continuing to love my companions, which is what I was, to be honest, most worried about.
So I found Mom´s wrapped birthday presents and 3 cards (I don´t know how that happened, since they are all from Mom and Dad, but I´m not complaining! I like cards :D), pretty much the first day, and I knew what they were, since she told me about them before hand. But I was getting a little impatient to open them, so one day, and I think this was last Thursday, I finally cracked and opened one of the cards. A compromise--not a full present, but then at least I wouldn´t have to wait a WHOLE WEEK MORE without anything! 

Inside the card was the funniest thing ever, I had to read it to my companions--Mom had written a note explaining what the presents were for and something along the lines of: "Now that you´re not a teenager anymore, you have the patience to wait to open your presents, and obviously you wouldn´t open these cards early since they are clearly labeled."

 I love my district! Someone wrote this on the whiteboard
- so when I went to grab my stuff- I had to snap a photo!

Anyway, so September 15th is Mexico´s independence day, and since we are at a church place, we celebrated one night early, on Saturday instead of Sunday. We saw it on our schedule about a week before and were so intrigued what on earth "Mexico Night" was supposed to be! Eventually we pieced together that it had something to do with their independence day (fun fact, I think that´s why they served us cow tongue--because they were serving traditional Mexican food to help give us uneducated Americans some culture :D), but beyond that we had no idea. So, super excited, we showed up at the gym about a half hour early only to have to wait an hour in the rain because nothing here runs on time :) . Luckily we had our paraguas (umbrellas) and, in good spirits, spent most of that time singing hymns!
When we finally got in, Mexico night turned out to be a cultural event sort of. They showed us a video (with insanely epic music and almost cheesy slow motion people turning to face the camera), then there was some traditional Mexican dancing, including, of course, the BEAUTIFUL bright colored skirts, and a singer. 
Oh, also, we sang the Mexican national anthem, a confusing but exhilirating experience. (We´d spent 20 minutes "practicing" before a devotional that week, but in reality, all they did was have the auditorium, including about 20% native Mexicans, sing it over and over with really loud background music without slowing down to help the rest of us figure it out.) I definitely recommend looking it up!
Then, during the singers´s last song, actual fireworks went off. Inside the building! it was insane. But I loved it. Porque no? Estamos in Mexico! After a night of insane excitement, cultural enrichment, and good clean entertainment, they pulled it back into the spiritual by having the dancers (who we later found out were youth from the nearby stakes or something) sing the EFY medley in Spanish. I didn´t realize this before (or maybe we were just listening to a special version) but it starts off with a very military sounding drumming bit. Anyway, it was very powerful, and I loved that ending :)

Lest you think that Mexico night was over after we returned to our casas that night, let me assure you, it was NOT! Presidente Pratt (CCM president) adores Latin American culture, so he deemed it an appropriate Sabbath Day activity for us to participate in a traditional Mexican activity called the "grito" which, since I don´t have time to explain, involves a lot of yelling "VIVA!" in response to different statements. It was fun, but it started at 11 and we were all EXHAUSTED when we got back to our casas 2 hours later than usual that night.

Okay, one last detail about this, and I will move onto the spiritual aspect of this week (since, in addition to being super fun and my birthday week, it has been a time of incredible spiritual growth!). The last detail being this: Mexicans LOVE fireworks! They have been setting them off at all times of the day over the past few weeks, in honor of the holiday! The most, of course, being on Sunday night, but it has been pretty exciting to hear the pop-popping sound and know that it´s more likely to be fireworks than gunshots.

We got a new teacher this week, and, even though the Elders think she is too strict, I LOVE her. Just like Hermano M., Hermana N. does an incredible job of both teaching us Spanish and teaching us spiritual stuff. One of the things she said that I loved was, "Do you think you´d hear the Savior telling someone to shut up?" It made me stop and think--I am supposed to be a representative of Jesus Christ, and am I living up to this example? 

We are the one that limits our friendship with Jesus (I don´t know why I wrote that, but I love it)

I don´t know where Hermana N found this talk, but it is by President Eyring about the gift of charity (She actually showed it to our class because she and I had been discussing how I wanted to develop more charity, which I thought was pretty awesome), and I love the example he gives, of this guy who had messed up BIG TIME, and came to talk to him as a bishop, and President Eyring, who was starting to get angry (just like I get when people do stuff that I think is wrong), suddenly had this feeling sweep over him and heard the words, in his heart: "The person before you is my child. I love him." God sees people so much differently than we see them. Compassion, and true charity are gifts from him, and they are gifts that I really want to be able to be worthy of and earnestly seek on my mission.

Aight, that´s all for this week!

Love you all!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

¿Por què no? ¡Estamos en Mèxico!

from: Rosemary Baratta
date: Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 5:01 PM
subject: ¿Por què no? ¡Estamos en Mèxico! (Blog post 1)

Hola Everyone!

I have a lot to say this week! The MTC (CCM, as they call it in Spanish) is great! Hopefully I will get to attach a few pictures because it is GORGEOUS here! We have a beautiful view of the montains, and the brightly colored houses that are covering them. The houses are SO close together here! I heard Mexico city has 34 million people in it? Crazy... Oh, and fun fact: it rains every day here! for only about an hour, but I am so grateful to have my umbrella. Also, it is 7000 feet above sea level here...?

"¿Por què no? ¡Estamos en Mèxico!" is something my companions (I have two, isn't that awesome?) say to each other a LOT. Well, actually, we have a ton of inside jokes like that, all of which pretty much revolve around our inability to speak Spanish :D. This one means, "Why not? We're in Mexico!" and it can be used in a variety of situations--por ejemplo, when you are apprehensive about something but decide to go for it, or when you don't really care what you do in a situation and figure one of the options would be good.

Hm well, my companions are great, in case you couldn't already tell--I love them lots. They are named Hermana G. and Hermana D. Hermana D. is phenomenal at Spanish. So so so helpful to have her there when we are teaching our mock investigators because sometimes Hermana G. and I just can't understand what they are saying!! She is also very sincere and sweet. I love her lots. Hermana G. is hilarious. She laughs at everything, and that makes it so easy for us all to get along. The other thing that is so great is that we are all really focused and want to leave the CCM the best missionaries we can be! So I don't have to worry about us holding each other back. We are equally yoked (haha that is a scripture reference, but I can't remember what it is!)

Let's see... Okay here is something that you will probably love to hear! so I made a goal recently, called "Todo el plato" (my horrible translation of "the whole plate") because it is my goal to eat everything I put on my plate every meal. The other day, they were serving this funky looking steak, and I decided to go for it and eat it. It actually tasted pretty good! It wasn't until later that I found out I had eaten cow tongue!!! But I ate the whole thing. Seriously, the rest of the evening, I was so proud of myself. Haha other than that, the food here is pretty good. They definitely season things different than in Los Estados Unidos, but it's usually delicious. Also, at the recommendation of a Belmont friend, I found and discovered the cinnamon rolls, which are ABSOLUTELY the best thing they serve here. I'm obsessed!

I am having a great first P (preparation) day. We got to go the temple, and see the beautiful city on the hour long drive to and from the temple. But now we have almost no time to do emails, laundry, personal study, work out, ...and I was going to go to choir practice, but it doesn't look like I'll have time. Ah well, there's always next week!

So far, we have been spending a lot of time studying (both the Gospel and the Spanish language) and then teaching a mock lesson once a day. It's funny because our "investigators" are actually teachers pretending to be non-Mormons. We love her dearly but she is "moving" to Arizona today so we will be teaching our last lesson tonight.

My teacher is named Brother M. He is very laid back and laughs along with us (which is good, because our district--which in the CCM is our class--is goofy and pretty easilty distracted!) Last night, after everyone finished teaching, the elders started singing the Hebrew celebration song that goes "lai lai lai" (honestly, I can't describe it any better) and dancing around the chair and he said to us, in Spanish, "I don't know if I should cry or laugh." Or today on the bus, people were singing Sweet Caroline, and he said "What hymn number is that?" as a gentle way of saying that they should be singing hymns if anything.

I have seen another friend from Belmont Hermana C.(and a few other people I don't know as well) quite a few times! It was such a blessing to see her that first day right when I got off the bus. :)

3 Nephi 11:29* is so true. I was feeling the Spirit very strongly my first few days, but then I started getting annoyed at the elders in my district because they weren't good at focusing (contention) so that drove away all my good\Christlike feelings.
Also this is so true: Now is the time to be the person you want to be. You don't have to wait to get started. Just do it now!

Here is something crazy and awesome. We were practicing teaching "Diana" (aka my bottle of water) before our actual lesson, and we had asked her some open ended questions, such as "Do you have any questions from church yesterday?" Instead of answering with "Si, si" I tried to predict what she might actually say and respond to that, since it makes sense to actually respond to what people are saying. The crazy thing was that what I talked about was what she actually answered with in the lesson! We were on fire, spiritually, that night.

(Unlike last night's lesson, which was humbling and made us all take inventory of how we prepare to teach--we decided on learning the Preach My Gospel lessons inside and out in Spanish so we could just say what the Spirit prompts us to say).

Spiritual thought of the week: I have been studying the life of Christ in the New Testament, and trying to get to know his character. I have always wanted to be more Christlike, but until I know what that means, I won't do a very good job. Anyway, the pattern I have seen OVER and OVER again is that Jesus is on his way somewhere, and someone asks for help or wants to hear a message. Rather than just moving on, he stops and helps them. That's what I want to be like. Not so consumed in my daily plan and to do list that I miss the people in actual need of help.

Hermana Baratta

*3 Nephi 11:29 is a scripture, which we are encouraged to memorize, from the Book of Mormon. "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Safely arrived in the Mexico City Mission Training Center [MTC]

At the insanely early hour of 4 AM on Tuesday Sept 3 Rosie was up & dressed in her missionary clothes, and getting ready to head to Logan airport to fly off to Mexico City. She was clearly excited but still seemed somehow rather calm and collected.

She drove in with her parents, sailed through the TSA screening and then poof! - she was gone ... for eighteen months.

Later in the evening after she had arrived in Mexico, she had the chance to send her parents a quick email:

from: Rosemary Baratta
date: Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM
subject: Safely arrived in the Mexico MTC
Hola Mom and Dad!
I`m not sure how long I get on the computer (and a lot of the symbols are in weird places, which makes typing weird), but they give us some time to let you folks back at home know we are safe! When I got to Texas, I found a ton of missionaries, since apparently they routed most of us through there! It was fun to play ´´Spot the missionary´´ because nobody had tags on!
Also, tender mercy of the day: I thought I forgot my retainer at home, and was totally resigned to having to ask you to send it to me, but then I looked in my carry-on for a granola bar, and there it was! (Didn`t find the granola bar, but in the grand scheme of things, WAY less important).
I think that`s it for now? Not a ton has happened yet...more next week!
Mucho amor,
Hermana Baratta

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to: write me letters

My mailing address while I'm in the MTC:
Sister Rosemary Julia Baratta
El Salvador San Salvador East Mission
Mexico Missionary Training Center
Ave 510 #90
Colonia San Juan de Aragon
07950 Mexico City, Distrito Federal

After October 15th or so (I'll post this again), I fly out to El Salvador!
You can send mail to:
Sister Rosemary Julia Baratta
El Salvador San Salvador East Mission
Boulevard del Hipodromo No 537
Colonia San Benito
CP, San Salvador
El Salvador

In addition to sending me regular letters and packages, you can also send me a letter (free!) at any point in my mission via this website:
How? It's pretty easy.
1. Click "Write a missionary" at the top of the screen
2. Select mission. I will be in the Mexico MTC for six weeks (until ~October 15th), and from then on, in the El Salvador San Salvador East mission.
3. Input your address (in the top part) and my name (in the middle part).
4. Write your letter.
5. Click send letter!

Pretty simple, eh?

In return, if y'all write me letters, I will write some back to you (and bonus, then I'll actually have your address on hand!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Farewell Talk

Brief explanation: I'm not sure what bar/bat mitzvahs are like, but my friend once described a missionary farewell as a Mormon bar mitzvah - there is the element of coming of age as well as celebrating an individual's spiritual journey by having friends, family, and the individual give prepared addresses. I thoughtfully and prayerfully worked on this talk for about a week, and I am sharing it with you to give a glimpse of what I anticipate missionary service meaning to me.

I absolutely love to read the scriptures. One of my favorite things about studying the scriptures is I inevitably find ways to be a better person—a better friend, a better sister, a better daughter. Recently, I have been thinking about the idea of “stand[ing] as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places” as elaborated in Mosiah 18:9, and a phrase I heard, quite literally, hundreds of times in Young Women’s. Since deciding to go on a mission, the ideas of “standing as a witness” and volunteering to do so “in all places” has taken on a new meaning.
For instance, in May, when I put in my mission papers, or sent a request to be assigned a place to serve a mission, I had no idea where I would be going. Missionaries are sent to places as exotic as Mongolia, or as ordinary as Kansas, so it really could be anywhere in the world. 
Pondering where I thought I would be assigned to serve, I had the following realization: Sure, my mission call would be telling me WHERE I would be spending 18 months of my life, but it wouldn’t be telling me HOW I would be spending those 18 months. The only person who could decide that was me. Would my kindness and the way I treated others be a witness of Christ’s example? Or would I selfishly think of myself? Would I stand up for what I believed in at ALL times and NO MATTER where I was? Or would I step down when the going got tough? In short, would I be willing, truly, to stand as a witness of God, always, and no matter where I ended up?
These questions and the idea of standing as a witness, as I have realized, is what a mission is all about and what makes it worth it. It doesn’t take much work to choose to serve a mission – just a phone call to your bishop and you can begin filling out the papers. It takes a little bit more work to choose to go through the paperwork and interviews and doctor’s appointments necessary. But choosing to stand as a witness of your God and your religion? That takes the most work of all. It is a lifelong endeavor, and because it requires daily, incremental changes, it is the one that allows for the most transformation of your character. I have chosen to serve a mission, and more than that, I am choosing to be a disciple of Christ.
What exactly does discipleship entail? To me, being a disciple of Christ means that I am working on becoming more Christlike. Standing as a witness means standing as an example of Jesus Christ’s character and his love. So let’s break that down a little bit further: what are some of the key principles we need to learn and internalize in this path to being like Christ?
First and foremost, one of the primary principles of Christ’s teachings is faith. It is a topic that has especially stuck out to me as I have been preparing for and writing this talk. 
My understanding and perception of faith have shifted quite a bit over the years. When I was young, I thought faith was an impossible thing – not something I could achieve. I remember a primary teacher reading the scripture Matthew 17: 20 to our class, which promises that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed (which is, as I learned, is very small), it is enough to move mountains. I wanted to have the kind of faith that could do miracles like shut the mouths of lions or survive fire unscathed or raise someone from the dead, but try as I might, I just couldn’t do any of those things. 
Even the more ordinary type of faith that people demonstrate when they say they KNOW that the church is true (in a talk or a lesson) seemed like it was out of my reach. I felt that I could not honestly say that I knew. As I grew, I slowly transitioned from “I don’t know” to “I think so” to “I believe” to “I know”. It is only recently that I realized that faith—my desire to believe—was something I had had the whole time, and not merely at the end when I reached the point where I could say that I KNOW. Let me reiterate that. I showed faith in my desire to believe and my persistence in seeking confirmation of what I believed. 
In the book of Alma 32:21, the prophet Alma speaks about faith. He says, “faith is NOT a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen which are true” (Alma 32:21). As I see it, this is because faith is, in fact, what precedes knowledge rather than knowledge itself. When you have faith, you are acting on things you might not know, but that you believe, or HOPE, to be true. Even though it is great to desire to KNOW for yourself if things are true, I want to reassure you that it is alright sometimes to admit, much like the man who approached Jesus for a healing, saying,  “Lord, I believe: Help thou my unbelief” (CITE), that we don’t know everything.
Just as you don’t have to claim to know to have faith, neither do you have to wait until after living a long life of righteousness to say you have faith. Faith is what gets you to take the first step down the path. And the second. And in fact, it is what motivates you every step of the way. For me, faith is the thing that motivated me to go on a mission, and it is the thing that will motivate me to be hardworking throughout my mission.
One of my favorite hymns, Lead Kindly Light, describes a similar idea quite beautifully. I recommend you read or listen to all of it (BYU Vocal Point did a beautiful version), but I will just read a selection: “Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see / the distant scene, one step enough for me.” Just as the author of this beautiful hymn, I feel that faith is trusting that each step you are taking (whether that is attending a church meeting, or reading the scriptures, or praying, or helping uplift others around you, or any of the many good choices you can make) is ultimately a step in the right direction. 
This also reminds me of another favorite scripture of mine (you may be noticing a trend here – I have a lot of favorites when it comes to verses of scripture or songs!), Proverbs chapter 3 verses 5 to 6, which reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path.” I love this verse because it conveys the idea of trusting God, even when you don’t know the outcome, as well as promising that the blessing of such faith is having the direction of a divine, loving, Heavenly Father along our paths. Wow. What a beautiful promise!
Living a life where you follow the example of Jesus Christ, earnestly believe, and act in faith, also allows you to have mental peace in the midst of turmoil, changes, or hardships because you can return again and again to the reassurance that you are doing the right thing. Likewise, it gives you the same peace Jesus promised his disciples right as he was about to die, when he said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27) – namely the peace of the Holy Ghost.
Which brings me to my second point: to stand as a witness, you must also seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost, which conveys what Heavenly Father wants you to do, and follow these instructions. Generally, this is through thoughts (I’ve had whole phrases or sentences pop into my head) and feelings.
For instance, the other day, I was sitting on the couch after dinner, doing something on my computer while my mom did the dishes. As I sat, I kept having a nagging feeling that I should go help her in the kitchen. It took a long time – I hadn’t realized that she had gone to the grocery store that day and had a lot of food to sort out and put away in addition to nightly dishes. While I’m sure my mom was grateful for my help, I realized that I had benefited from listening to this urge to help her – I appreciated her more and loved her just a little bit more. 
Such stories seem trivial or even trite if you have been hearing them your whole life, but it is little decisions like these where your faith is really tested and it is the cumulation of such experiences that builds a testimony. 
So often, we confuse divine for grand – we assume that God can only be involved in the magnificent, the majestic, the powerful. While that is true, he is also involved in the mundane, the ordinary, and the trivial. 1 Kings 19:12 describes this paradox in an interesting way: “a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” 
We expect to see God in the miraculous or powerful, but sometimes, all we get is a “still small voice”. We may expect to be part of some grand, miraculous work, but perhaps all we get to do is be a small part, following a small piece of guidance. Each person, regardless of how large or small their role is, is important.
I would like to close by sharing a brief testimony. I know that Heavenly Father loves us. I know that he desperately wants to help us grow and learn and ultimately be able to return to him. He wants to speak to us, and through the Holy Ghost and personal prayer, we can both hear and speak to him. I know that through Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins, and we can change to become more like him. I know that there are prophets on this earth today, and that this church is the true path to Christ. I know because I have lived it, because I have prayed about it, and because I have received an answer so sure that I cannot claim otherwise.

I am so grateful that I was lucky enough to be raised a member of this church, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am so excited to share what I have learned and studied and what I know to the people of El Salvador. I testify of these things, in the name of our dear savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Nine days and counting!

According to my missionary portal (a website the LDS church put together to help missionaries get ready to go), my countdown is officially in single digits!
But wait.
That's actually not quite right.
I fly out Tuesday of next week, so that should read 8 days.
But Tuesday doesn't really count as me being here because I leave first thing in the morning (7:50 flight + reporting 3 hours before = better get to bed early!), so in reality, it's more like I have seven days left in the states! SEVEN DAYS! Holy cow.

Anyway, I don't have much more to say than this (just trying to set up the blog), so I better get back to the many many things on my final checklist of things to do!
Adios for now, and check out the farewell talk (also posted today) if you want to hear some more from me!