Monday, July 27, 2009

Road Trips, Hermione Granger, and Raw Mushrooms

Ok this is mostly going to be an email to answer all of the questions that Mom asked me in her last email (All 30,000 of them).

First off, for the Spanish workbook thing: I'm not really quite sure what I need. Not a Spanish verb book, just a book with tons of exercises. If you can't find anything, don't fret. It's not a big deal.

Yes I got your package. Thank you SO much. We actually just barely got the chance pick it up from the post office about 10 minutes ago. We opened it up and it appears that everything is in there, so thank you so much! Sister Bustillos saw the earrings you sent (especially the Betsey Johnson ones) and just about died. So cute! Oh and yes I got Dad's letter. It was awesome. Thanks, dad!

I don't know how long I will be in Beeville. Most likely 2 or 3 transfers. You made it seem like I was exiled. That's not very fair because that's not true at all. There used to be Sister here, but they took them out for the summer because all of the dental hygiene girls went home for the summer. But they're all starting to come back, so since there are SO many that come back, it was time to bring Sister back. You said, "do you feel you're being punished for something you didn't even do?" Um, definitely not. Obviously this is the place where the Lord wants me. I'm happy I'm here. I love it here. It's a TOTAL small town, which let's be honest, never was my thing. But for missionary work, I go where the Lord calls me. He wants me here and I will serve here for as long as he wants and as hard as I possibly can. It's all English, but that's ok because the Lord called me to the Texas McAllen Mission which is a bilingual mission. All the missionaries in the north speak only English (for the most part). That's part of my call and I'm going to do my best to teach in English while I'm here. ALL the other Sisters and Elders who have been here were so jealous when they heard where I was going. Apparently, it's a pretty sweet place for those who have been here and I agree. We cover about 6-7 different cities which Beeville being the central city. We only have a car which is ABSOLUTELY necessary because it takes sometimes 20-30 minutes to just drive to appointments in the other cities.

We just had zone conference last week on Wednesday. The combined the Sinton and Corpus Christi zones (which they normally do since they are right next to each other and that way President doesn't have to do 40 different zone conference every transfer). We were the only sisters in the two zones combined. We're the only sisters in the north, which is pretty sweet if I do say so myself. Anyways, it was in Corpus and so we had to drive about an hour to get there. Also, we had first companionship training this past Friday: that's for the NEW missionaries. When they come in, after about 2 weeks of being in the field, they get another training by President and the Assistants. But that is always in the La Vista chapel in McAllen. SO...we had to drive 4 hours down to McAllen on Friday for the 3 hour training, have an hour lunch, then drive back up to Beeville. It was actually pretty fun driving because we got to really get to know each other even better. But we were so exhausted that night and carrying over into the day after. But zone conference and the training was amazing. I love any chance that I get to see and talk with President. At Zone Conference, we always play this scripture game. Where we have to memorize all the scriptures in all the lessons of Preach My Gospel (well, there are levels: Beginning (new missionaries; only covers a few basic scriptures you should now), Assistant's Challenge (where it covers about half of the scriptures), and the President's Challenge (where it has all 400-500 scriptures you need to know. We divide into our respective groups and then one of the assistants or someone will start reading from the scripture and we all have to find where it is. Pretty much, it's your classic seminary scripture chase. It's AWESOME. As you know, I'm super competitive and LOVE memorizing things. So of course, I do the President's challenge. I have the majority of the scriptures memorized (when I mean memorized, I don't mean word for word. But I do know the main idea of the scripture and then the reference). And at zone conference I totally felt like a little Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. The would start reading a random scripture and I'd know where it was and flip there as fast as I could,then point to it and stiffly throw my hand up in the air. If anyone has ever read or seen Harry Potter, than description would make sense. Lol, I love it. I'm a total Hermione.


Our apartment is really nice. We need to do some rearranging and other small projects, but as missionaries, we don't have time. We might start doing 10 minutes here and there to get it in order, because that's really all we have time for. We don't eat very much at member's houses yet. I never cook food. We only have an hour for break and I am not going to spend 30-45 minutes of it cooking something. Sister Osbourne got me on a kick of eating just raw mushrooms (haha). And I still do that here, but I eat them with Sriracha sauce which I found in the fridge here. It's this spicy hot sauce from Asia, but I like it because it reminds me of all the super pico Mexican food I ate down south. It's super spicy, but the food I ate in McAllen was spicier. But until then, it satisfies. Yeah, I make a lot of breakfast shakes, jello, mushrooms, steamed vegetable bags (you pop them in the microwave and in 4 minutes--viola! you got lunch). I don't know, my eating situation on the mission has been lame, but it's ok. I haven't gained any weight since I've been in the field. I'm kind of not eating much meat right now because I was eating SOOOOOO much in McAllen than I was getting sick a lot. Not sick sick, but sick as in, it would go through me pretty fast. Yuck. Now I know why in the Word of Wisdom is says to eat "little meat" because in that culture they do NOT live by that. But here, I eat whatever I want.

Hm...what else? I think Texas must be the home of Dairy Queen because there is one on every corner. Seriously. It's weird sometimes.

But the work is going good. I can definitely feel everyone's prayers. They help a lot. I should have been stressed last week, but I surprisingly wasn't. Thank you everyone! But I know this church is true. I know that people here do not want to listen to us, but all the slammed doors makes it worth it when we finally find that one who is ready and prepared. Like our two awesome investigators, Victor and Stephanie. They are both prepared and it's all worth it. I suffer hard things here for the Gospel's sake.

--Sister Burt

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bee-Where?

Hello family,

Hello, all the way up here from the grand ol' city of Beeville. I officially was transferred to the northernmost area in the ENTIRE mission: Beeville! There actually weren't any sisters here for a long time, but I'm reopening it. Beeville is a little town between Corpus and San Antonio (it takes about an hour to get to either of those cities). Even though we're in "Beeville," we also visit a few other neighboring cities like Skidmore, Norpana, um and others which I can't remember the names of. Beeville has a little junior college here that has a pretty prestigious Dental Hygiene program. This is actually the same school that Stacey Morrison Vanderpool went too. Actually, the Sisters who were in this area a few months before, said that they knew Stacey and that she was AWESOME and always helped with the missionary work. Stacey graduated, so she's not here anymore. Bummer. But yes, they have Sisters in this area because most of the students at the school are young single girls. So, Sisters obviously are the best choice.

But in case you couldn't tell, I'm whitewashing this area. And yikes, it's hard starting all the way from scratch. AND I'm training...AGAIN. My new companion's name is Sister Kashia Bustillos. Haha, which is SO weird because I actually already KNEW Sister Bustillos before my mission. We lived in the same ward in Provo for a year and then for about 2 months she was one of my roommates. Well, kind of. When she was my roommate, she was in a play and going to hair school, so she would wake up WAY earlier than any one else, then come home early and go straight to bed. So we didn't' get the chance to see very much or get to know her really well. Sad, but now I'll get to know her WAY more and better. She is SO cute, I love her so much. She is half Mexican and BEAUTIFUL. Long dark hair, pretty green eyes, super thin. She actually maybe wants to be Jasmine at Disneyland when she gets home and I definitely think she could do it because she sings and dances too and is WAY prettier than a lot of the Jasmine's I've seen there. Haha, and get this. She's a CRAZY Disney and Disneyland fan like me! Haha, she is from Orange County and so LOVES Disney and would go all the time. We don't really talk about our Disney obsessions very much but we are total fanatics together. Anyways, Sister Bustillos is amazing and love her so much. She's fresh and new and it's awesome. She has such a strong testimony and love for the Lord and has really jumped into the missionary work here.

Sister Bustillos and I are slowly getting accommodated to Beeville. It's definitely a lot different than what I'm used to in the valley. It's very hard to get into doors and homes. Everyone is very religious here. People are mostly Methodist and Lutheran. And peoples don't just "say" their those things, they actually go to church every Sunday. And when I mean everyone, I mean nearly everyone. No doubt every door we knock, the person will tell us what church they go to and that they're not interested because "they're very set and comfortable in their church." I don't think I've ever been told to go and read my Bible more times in my life. Haha. In the valley, everyone was Catholic or Pentecostal, yet despite that, they let you into their homes. But there, people would let you in and wouldn't be serious about it; I'm learning here that if they let you in, then they really are serious and will listen.

We have some great new investigators though. A young, 19-year-old man named Victor. AND he came to church, all dressed up in a nice shirt and tie: the whole shabaang. He really is sincere and is progressing really quickly. His baptismal date is August 15th, so we'll really have to see him every other day and make sure that he has a firm testimony. He's going into the Army in October, so we don't want him to fall away just a few months after he's baptized. We found another family--the Head family--and they are great too. At first Damien was a bit unsure about Joseph Smith because he's never even heard his name before (and he still is, to be honest, because we've only visited them twice). But that's why we are here, to help him learn and grow in his testimony of the Restored Gospel.

Anyways, that's about it for us. Just trying to figure out what to do. Whitewashing is kind of stressful, I'm not going to lie. I have no clue what's going on or how to handle everything, but that's ok because the Lord choose me to come here and I know I can do it. It's a LOT different here (oh, in case I didn't mention, there is NO Spanish spoken up here :( ), but that's ok because I'm supposed to be here. We're doing the work here in the absolute best way that we can.

--Sister Burt

Monday, July 13, 2009

Did you get my Little Note?

Hello!

Ok, I am SOOOO flustered right now, you can't even imagine. Everything was great up until last night while we were planning. Ahem, this is kind of an important story, so I'll just start from the beginning.

Last night, we got home and were planning. Then in the middle of it, we get a call from Sergio. Sergio is a recent convert who was baptized about two months ago. We are now teaching his mom and sister because he really loves the Gospel and wants them to be baptized. So we've been teaching them for about a month. They are progressing slowly and we love both of them. Joanna--the sister--is 21 -years-old, is separated from her husband of 2 years, and has a 10-month-old baby boy; Rosa--the mom--is Catholic and totally was NOT interested at first, but she has been reading in the Book of Mormon a lot and is slowly progressing. Anyways, Sergio always is at the lessons. He's a bit shy, but he has a strong testimony. He is about 26, also separated from his wife of about 6 years and lives with Rosa and Joanna right now. Earlier that night, he invited us over to their house to have a Carne Asada (aka a ridiculous amount of meat, tortillas, and other stuff). So we thought this was a good idea, so we could teach them another lesson.

Anyways, back to the story: so we get a call from him and Sister Osborne always answers the phone (I'm in charge of the car). She starts talking and Sergio says, "Hey, could you do me a huge favor and can I talk to Sister Burt?" So I got on the phone and he says, "Hey Sister Burt. How are you doing? I was just calling...did you get my little note that I put in your bag?" What?...At this point, I looked down at my bag and see the "little note" tucked into one of the pockets. I tell him that I just noticed it and that I hadn't. He told me that he was just calling to make sure I got it and to let him know what I get the chance to read it. Ooookay. So I hang up the phone and Sister Osborne and I look at each other with big eyes and then immediately jump onto our knees to pray to finish up our planning session.

So I started reading the note out loud to Sister Osborne. At first we really couldn't make any sure guesses about what it was about. We thought it another situation with him: he told us a few weeks ago that his street is a HUGE drug dealing street and that one of our other investigators and the investigator's mom were HUGE drug dealers. So we thought it was more info about that. Boy were we wrong.

I don't have the note anymore, but I'll tell you what I remember. At the beginning it mentioned how he knows how it's hard being on a mission and being far away from home, but to "hang in there." Ok, nothing sketchy yet. Then he said that he was writing this not to tell me about the "emotions he's had for me" and essentially wanting to know if I felt the same where. He mentioned things about how when I talk to him with my "gorgeous, beautiful eyes" (which I don't' know where he's getting that, because let's be honest. I don't wear much eye makeup these days) and how that he feels he's known me forever. That the very first time he saw me at church and was introduced to me that he felt that "I had punched him in the heart." Yikes...Anyways, he mentioned that he loves my personality, the way I talk to him, the whole shabang. I think you get the picture. Numerous times in the letter (2 pages long, I might add), he mentioned and pleaded to know whether I felt the same way and to let him know. Not to "leave him hanging." He always mentioned that he didn't know if this was the appropriate way to tell me, but he couldn't figure out any other way. My favorite part of the letter was when he signed it, "Respectfully done by, Sergio."

....

You can imagine Sister Osborne's and my reaction. It's probably like yours right now times 100. I had no clue what inspired this attraction because I can ASSURE you (Sister Osborne is my witness) that I am NOT a flirt. I don't know how. ESPECIALLY in missionary work, I'm "all business" to the point where I think I'm a bit too serious. Anyways, I run down and show Sister Behrmann and she says, "Uh oh, looks like someone's going to get Emergency Transferred."

Anyways, I told Sergio I'd call him back, so I did right then and there. I told him straight up that I definitely do not feel the same way because I'm a missionary and I'm 100% focused on the work. That missionary's don't date. That I don't have feelings like while I'm on the mission: not for him, not for anyone. I'm all business, as I said earlier. I said a few other things, but then to finish it off I said that he is married still! And that this is definitely not a good thing Law of Chastity-wise (because let's me honest, since he's married, and acted on these thoughts by writing me a letter, he's committing a form of adultery). Anyways, I made it clear that I still am excited to teach his family, but that I don't feel that way for him.

After that lovely phone call, I decided not to do anything about it and give me to some to think about the whole situation before I rushed and called President. I didn't want to get transferred :( We have so many great, progressing (finally) investigators. PLUS, I LOVE Sister Osborne. She is SO amazing and we get along SOOOOOO well. I actually was really selfish and didn't want to get a new companion when I had such a great thing going with her. She is learning more and more every day, and I'm learning so much from her. We really are best friends.

I slept on it and everything was fine, but I still was a bit disturbed. Then this morning I was reading in Mosiah 20 and the first three verses were definitely pointed at me. It is the chapter where the Priests of Noah are wandering in the wilderness and they can't go back to their wives and children, but then they see the daughters of the Lamanites dancing and singing by the water, and then lust after them and kidnap them. Ok, yikes. Definitely after reading that, I knew it wasn't a coincidence and I called Sister Miller. I decided that this was serious and I couldn't be selfish. So I asked Sister Miller if President Miller was in the office and that I needed to talk to him. She said that he actually was at the mission home. So after our studies, we jumped in the car and went to the mission home to have a chat. I already told Sister Miller a little bit about the situation and so when we got there, President Miller already knew a little bit.

So I told him the whole situation, he read the letter and then the first thing he says is, "Well, you know you're getting transferred right?" Bummer, but let's be honest. I was expecting it. SO luckily, transfers are this week anyways. He said that "we're going to have to send you up North, to Corpus or Beeville." Haha, pretty much, I'm getting sent to the FARTHEST area possible from where I am now. And the North is ALL English. Kind of a bummer, but obviously this happened for a reason. I will go where the Lord wants me to go, and if he wants me to go up North and teach in English, then I will go and do. But President said that there is a 50% chance that most likely Sister Osborne will still be my companion. Yay! But who knows. Transfers are always crazy and no one really knows until you get the call.

So yes. That is my story. I am officially getting transferred. I have no clue where, but that's ok. Anyways, I'm all out of time, but I wanted to let you know about my situation. It's ACTUALLY pretty hilarious yet awesome. At least I can start packing my bags NOW, rather than at 10:30 at night when I'd normally get the transfer call.

See you all up North!

Respectfully done by,
Sister Morgan Burt ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just a couple pictures!

Morgan sent me two pictures today! Here they are- Commentary compliments of Morgan!

Sister Behrmann & I! For 2 weeks we had: 2 areas, 2 cars, 2 phones, 2 area books, twice the investigators, & half the time to do it all! It was the best!
I love Sister Behrmann! Best companion ever!

Don't you love my super classy sister missionary tan line? :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Justice and Mercy

Family,

OK, first and foremost: I went to the judge to contest my ticket and he TOTALLY dismissed the whole thing! Woo-hoo! So it's not on my record, I don't have to pay $140. It's a wonderful thing. Most people who went before us were only in there for literally a minute, but when we went, we were in for about 5-10 minutes because he was more interested in us as missionaries, what we do, where we're from, etc. He was quite amiable. Thank you Judge Bobby Contreras! After he dismissed the ticket, I stood up and shook his hand and said, "Thank you for showing us mercy." As I was walking out, I thought to myself, "Geez Louise, Sister Burt, you have been studying too much about the Justice and Mercy of God..." :)

Oh and remember how I told you I talk in my sleep in Spanish? Apparently Sister Osborne said that I was quoting scriptures in my sleep...in Spanish. She said she woke up one night and I was saying, "De cierto, de cierto, os digo..." which is equivalent to "Verily, verily, I say unto you." Haha, I can't be held responsible for what comes out of my mouth in the middle of the night...

So there's a Gold's Gym by our house and they have this empty lot next to the gym by the parking lot where they just built this crazy, Army-style obstacle course: tires, wall climbs, balance beams, ropes you have to climb under...it's pretty intense. And so I've pretty much become the personal trainer for the 3 other sisters. I was doing the P90X workouts (I just have the workout sheet and my stretch cords) every once in a while, then Sister Behrmann wanted to join, then when Sis. Osborne came, we started getting up early and running like crazy. It's pretty much awesome. I call myself "Tonya Horton" which is a female version of Tony Horton--the host of P90X. We all get up at 6 a.m. every day and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday's we run about half a mile and then I have all these CRAZY hard cardio workouts that I've created that involves using the tire runs, wall climbs, suicides, squats, lunges, all sorts of things that I've picked up over the years. Sister Behrmann actually has trouble walking up stairs because our last workout was so intense. Then on the other days, we all do one of the P90X weight workouts. It's amazing and I love it. We all feel SO good.

Anyways, we've learned a good lesson these past two weeks about Boldness. We had an investigator--named Pete--who was coming to church with his wife and family, ward activities, etc. He still didn't really have a testimony and the only reason we were teaching him is because his wife is a less-active member from about 10 years ago and really wanted the church back in her life. So long story short, she got our number and we started teaching the husband. We got through the majority of the commandments and taught Word of Wisdom. We came back a few visits and he still wasn't living it. Sister Osborne then was really really bold with him (he speaks English) and told him that if he really wanted to live it, we could just take all his beer, coffee and alcohol to get rid of the temptation. He didn't like that idea, but she kept pushing and pushing and finally, I had to step in and just drop the whole subject. We set up a return appointment and left with a prayer that brought the Spirit back. We came back for our appointment and no one was there (a first because they always keep their appointments). We left a note and called, but to no avail. We kept stopping by a few times during the next week. One time we knocked and definitely heard the kids inside playing and saw a teenage boy (perhaps a relative) look at us through the glass an give us a glare. So...after trying and trying to get a hold of them, we had to drop them. I guess we were a bit too bold AND overbearing, to the point where we offended him and he wanted nothing more to do with us. It's interesting because when we were talking to him about the Word of Wisdom, he said, "Well, I like to do things my way. I moved out of my dad's house at 15 because I didn't want to live his rules." As he said that, I thought to myself, "If you can't keep your dad's rules (which were probably easy things like, "Your curfew is midnight), how can you expect to keep the rules or commandments of God?" But, he just wasn't really ready or into it. He wasn't really developing his faith through prayer and reading the scriptures.

So that was Sister Osborne's experience about being too overbearing, but then the next week, I had mine. We were teaching this family (Reina & Modesto and their kids) and at the beginning, the father was DEFINITELY not interested in listening to a thing we said. I kept inviting him to listen and finally he did. Reina had a baptismal date and really enjoyed listening. But she never read and it turns out that Modesto was reading in the Book of Mormon. We came back for a stop-by visit one day and Reina wasn't come, so we just talked to him for a bit. He was saying things like "I want to search and find out what is the true church", but then at the same time repeating numerous times, "I'm Catholic." He speaks Spanish, but that didn't stop me from being really really bold with him about really searching for his answer and actually PRAYING to know (which he wasn't doing). We talked a little bit about authority and he said, "Well the priests have authority." I told him that a prophet is called of God and has that authority and read a few scriptures that talk about Christ's church being built on a foundation of prophets and apostles. I asked him, "Does your church have apostles?" And he said, "We have priests." And I told him that priests are NOT the same as prophets or apostles and that Christ's church ALWAYS had these and still does. We talked about a lot of other things and then left. We came back for our real appointment and Reina was all awkward and told us to come back. We came back another day and Modesto told us that he didn't want to hear a thing that we said and didn't want to learn more. We got Reina to come out (because Modesto was being all awkward and just ambling about outside avoiding us) and she was all teary-eyed and said that she was busy right now. Essentially, to make a long story short, what we got from her hints and sad faces she was making is that the husband said she wasn't allowed to listen to us anymore or have us teach her either. It was really sad. So, apparently my "Boldness" was also overbearing. So that's 2 strikes for Sister Osborne and I for investigators who had baptismal dates AND...as a result of our "Boldness"...are no longer our investigators or on speaking terms with us.

I was talking to an Elder about it and he said, "Don't be offended or feel that they are rejecting you, because in reality, they are rejecting Christ." That kind of made me feel a little better, because it's true--Pete didn't want to live the commandments and therefore was rejecting Christ and Modesto isn't open to change and there for is essentially condemning his family too. It's really hard, but it definitely is a lesson learned. I need to find the balance of just being a nice, friendly missionary who isn't pushy and a bold, confident one. I consider myself quite bold, so I prefer that approach, but apparently I've been doing it a bit TOO much.

So, it's a bit disappointing, but we "Keep Moving Forward." (If anyone has seen the awesome Disney movie "Meet the Robinson's" they'll understand where that quote comes from). But it's true. Don't let the past get you down. It's like with repentance: Heavenly Father doesn't care 1/1000th about what you've done in the past, as much as he cares what you are doing NOW and in the FUTURE. So yes, I may have been a bit too bold, I may not have been perfect, but He doesn't care as long as I've repented of that and am trying my best to be better now and in the future.

Anyways, I love you guys. You are all amazing. Glad to hear that everyone's 4th of July was fun. Ours wasn't very eventful: we had to be back in our apartment at 6 pm and then we ended up just studying for the next 4 hours until bed. Haha, we're missionaries, what can I say.

Have a great week!
Sister Burt

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pictures

I just got these pictures and thought that you all might like to see what Morgan has been up to! She looks great! The captions above each picture are courtesy of Morgan! Enjoy!

Riding Bikes!
Sister Loftus & I- First day out in the field!
We wanted to go out to as as a district after Sister Loftus's last district meeting, but there's a rule where you can't have even #'s of elders & sisters (because its too much like "pairing off.") So the assistants came with us. We got sushi. :)
Sister Loftus, Me, Elder Horton, Elder Larkin, Elder Baum, Elder Sheilds
April 22, 2009- Right before meeting our new companions (aka trainers)
Me, Sister Woods, & Sister Kellett
Random Picture with a few of the Sisters. Oh yeah, this was taken after new companionship training.
Sister Kolb, Sister Woods, Sister Kellett, Sister Pareja, Me, Sister Loftus
Transfers! Right before Sister Berhmann & I became companions.
An awesome family we were teaching.
Sister Behrmann & Me at Zone Conference
Sister Loftus & I at the ward Mother's Day Fiesta.
Sister Osborne & I!
Me, Sister Loftus, Elder Sheilds & Elder Horton- Our district! :)
The new missionaries (aka me) & our companions! (Except for the 2 girls who are matching... they aren't new)