Hello my family!
It's good to hear that all is well back home! I loved the pictures of the bkb games and the baby blessing. Also, seeing everyone bundled up and the mounds of snow piled around just about made me miss the cold. The other night we we walking along the sidewalk on the way back to our apartment and it was starting to rain. If you looked at the rain just right as it was illuminated by the streetlight, it almost looked like snow! Haha you get a pretty good imagination when you're surrounded by sand a palm trees.
So we've had a pretty good week in Gulfport! We had one of my favorite P-Days on Monday that I need to tell you about. There's an older snowbird couple from Michigan that we spent the day with. Bro. and Sis. Hui (hoy like soy ha) are both from Hong Kong, and they live in a condo on one of the islands right off of the St. Pete peninsula. There is a dock behind the condo that goes out into a little bay that we were able to fish off of. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the fish were biting like crazy. Or surprisingly for me they were haha. I think E. Ames caught like 3 fish, and I honestly caught over 20. I'm not quite sure how that worked out, but I'll just say it's thanks to Grandpa Bartschi. Ha originally we hadn't planned to stay for more then a couple hours, but it was a blast so we stayed the entire day. The water was blue, and at one point we even saw a dolphin surface. Ha I'll send you some pictures of it.
We had some pretty good teaching opportunities this week as well. On Wednesday we had an appointment with Amelia Barnes. She's 19 and was baptized in August, but ever since then she's been inactive. She kind of fell through the cracks because all of the members in the branch thought she was going to be attending the single adult branch. Anyways we've been reteaching her the lessons, and on Wednesday we had the Sister missionaries go over there with us (one of which is Sister Remington from Rexburg). Amelia has been thinking about serving a mission in the future and wanted to ask them some questions. The sisters were really powerful and were able to really bring the Spirit into the lesson. After they'd finished with the Q&A we began teaching her the Plan of Salvation. At this point Amelia's cousin showed up and her mom was in the other room. Neither of them are members of the church, but I could tell that as we were discussing it, it really caught their attention. After about 30 minutes of teaching, the cousin and brother were sitting on the couch behind us, completely focused on the lesson. Slowly Sedale (her cousin) began asking questions, and by the time we were finished he was sitting at the table with us and could explain the 3 kingdoms better then Amelia could haha. Amelia's mom was also participating by the end of the lesson, and when we talked about coming back tonight for another lesson Sedale told us that he'll definitely be there.
We had a good lesson with Michael this week as well. He's in his 50's, and was a guy that E. Ames and I had tracted into about 3-4 weeks ago. He's a bit random and out there, but he's a really nice guy. We discussed the restoration of the gospel with him, and he didn't have any issues with it. We had invited him to come to church with us on Sunday and he said he'd try to make it, but unfortunately he didn't show up. We'll be following up with him this week.
So on Saturday night we were coming back from tracting and decided to stop by Marquesha's. We hadn't been able to get into contact with her all week, so we weren't too hopeful that we'd be able to catch her home. Fortunately we were wrong. Ha she invited us in and we were able to talk with her about the church a little bit. She just got a job at the St. Pete newspaper, so that's what's been keeping her really busy. We had a great time talking to her, and then we brought up the possibility of going to church with us. She said that she'd need a ride and so we assured her we'd have one for her. It took her a little while to warm up to the idea, but eventually she agreed. So yesterday after our PEC meeting brother Hui took us to go pick her up. We knocked on her apartment door and she opened it standing in her pj's and rubbing her eyes....not a good sign. We asked her if she was still planning on coming to church with us and she mumbled something about needing to go get dressed. Ha so we stood there at her doorstep as she got ready, but it was worth it because we got her to church! Because the branch is tiny, everyone notices when someone new shows up. The members were really warm and welcoming towards her, and I know that she had a good time. She dozed a bit in a few of the meetings, which probably wasn't a bad thing. Ha some of the members are a little loopy, but she took it all in stride. During sacrament meeting she leaned over to E. Ames and said, "Well aren't you going to go up there and talk??" since it was testimony meeting. She was teasing, but he went up there and did a great job to finish off the meeting. A lot of the members asked her to come back next Sunday, and she really sounded like she'd do that.
Oh and I forgot to mention last week, but I spoke in church last Sunday! It was on "Obedience", and I based it off of this quote that a missionary had used in one of our meetings a couple months ago: "The price of discipleship is obedience". I think it went fairly well, and it's amazing to see how much easier it's gotten for me to talk in the time I've been out here. It's been a really big blessing.
I hope you all have a great week! I love you and pray that you continue to do well. When we obey we place our lives in the Lord's hands, and he can do a lot more with us then we can do on our own.
Elder Kade Bartschi
That's Lake Maggorie which we bike by all the time,
Some pictures of the view from the Hui's apartment
Our fishing adventuresAmes and I acting like we belong in gulfport, epic-ly looking off into the distance on a sketchy dock on Lake Maggorie, And some ALLIGATORS! Ha i finally found some that I could take a picture of. There's the one on the grass, and then if you look close there's another one with its head poking out of the water