Monday, August 31, 2009

Me and Nathan--Victor's son--at Victor's baptism
Me knocking a random door in Beeville.
Us working one of the nicer streets in Beeville.
Us again! :)
Us again, but laughing this time because we're such dorks.
This house in a town (village?) called Berclaire had horses living in it.
Picture of all the missionaries, Mike McKibben (the ward Mission leader), and Victor Campos (he was baptized).
Picture of a recent convert's--Theresa Haws--house. Isn't it cute? It's very eccentric. VERY Theresa.
Another one of her house
Me getting my hair done. Sister Bustillos went to hair school. It's a pretty sweet deal.
My blonde hair! Yes, I know it's a bit goldeny...that's because we didn't have ANY time to do it and didn't leave it in long enough. So, we bought purple shampoo to fix the problem.
Us again.
Preaching to everyone--even the horses.
Role playing to Mrs. (soon to be Sister) Potato Head. She has a lot of doubts, but she's progressing. (And just an explanation for this picture. We role play things every morning and we have this random Mrs. Potato Head, so we role play to her). :)


Not Happy, Bob.

Hey,

My email account last week was reaching it's capacity, so last week I deleted a bunch of emails to clear it out. But the more I deleted, the fuller and fuller the mailbox became until it reached 100%. I thought it just needed time to clear out, but when I got on here this week, there were no new emails--neither from friends, family, etc nor from the mission. So yeah, I'm actually really bummed right now because I didn't get any emails and now I have no desires to even write an email since I've already wasted more than half of my email time trying to get the whole situation figured out. I may just have to get a new account.

So I guess I'll just send some pictures today.

Anyways, thanks Mom for the Spanish workbook you sent me. It's perfect! I feel like I'm in school doing homework assignments, which is what I love.

Ok, can I just say that I love investigators? (Even though they may not love us) Haha, for example. We have this investigator named David--he's an older (50s) man who doesn't have a job, he usually is just sitting in his big armchair outside. Well, he also likes to miss appointments and will not answer the door. So we drove by his house, but we made sure to creep up to it and hide the car behind the huge hedges that he has. As we were doing so, we could see him sitting in his chair, we were getting ready to get out and suddenly, his head pops up and he sees us through the hedge. Then he JUMPS up and runs to the door, but the door had this little gate on it and so it took him a second to open it before he could escape inside. It was hilarious, I've never seen someone move so fast. Well, the instant I saw him bolt up, I started honking the horn as if to say, "Yes! We see you! We know you are there!" When we walked up to his house and knocked on the door, no one answered (of course). Finally, we keep knocking and Sister Bustillos starts yelling, "DAVID! We know you're in there! It's the Sisters!" And finally, after a while, David comes out and says "Oh hey, sorry I didn't hear you, I was just sleeping." Riiiight.

I have a CRAZY story that I really want to tell, but it would take a long time to write. And I don't have time. I'll just write it next week I guess.

Hope everyone's doing well. I still am even though I'm a bit deflated right now.

Love,
Sister Burt

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The "Mission" at the Libary, Door Slam Gone Wrong, and Quotables

Hey Everyone!

Oh gotta love the Beeville public library: there are these two guys here at the library and they are playing World of Warcraft together. It's hilarious because they're talking to each other about their "mission" and stuff. One of them just yelled, "You gotta get out of there! Now, now, now! Seriously, dude, you'll compromise the mission." Haha, I'm SO glad that I was never into any of that stuff. Being on a mission really puts a LOT of things into perspective: time wasted on the Internet, playing video games [or I suppose in my case, strategy board games, but then again, I still don't consider those a waste of time and I think that Brother Garner will agree with me :)], sitting around doing nothing, sleeping in way late, etc.

This has been such a wonderful week! Transfers are this week, but Sister Bustillos and I are pretty certain that we are going to be staying together up here in Beeville, which is AWESOME. I seriously love the girl so much and I'm excited (knock on wood) to actually be with a companion longer than one transfer. We're really getting into the groove with teaching, contacting, reading each others thoughts, becoming amazing friends, having a great time--all things which I don't want to end so quickly. So here's hoping!

So here's a funny story. We were contacting in this neighborhood and we got to this old run down home (we were on the west side of town and literally, the West side is pretty run down and the East side is super nice. All separated by one small, little Main Street). Anyways, we knock on this door and the old Mexican lady immediately says, "No, sorry, I'm not busy right now. NOT interested." I tried to but in and ask her another question, but she SLAMMED the door. The door didn't slam the right way, but instead you just heard this loud, "Meeeoooow!" Hahaha, she totally slammed her cat in the door. It was the funniest thing ever and I looked at Sister Bustillos and we held in our laughs till we could get off her property and down the street until we could permit ourselves to roar with laughter.

But yeah, I don't really know what else to say this week, so I've decided to write down some of my favorite quotes that we've heard over the past few weeks from the mouth of the good old folks here in Beeville. Without further ado, here are the top pics (also, they may not be very funny to you guys, but to me their hilarious):

* "I'm already Baptized...got MY Holy Ghost." --Lorenzo, an old Mexican man who was baptized about a year ago. He's so awesome. He goes out with us to lessons ANY time we ask him and he's so funny because if someone's not home, he'll knock on their windows, go around the back and try. He LOVES the Gospel!

* "All I know where to go is HEB, Wal-Mart, and Curves."--Sister Wyble, a voluptuous member of the Beeville Branch who lives out in the country (the one who reminds me of Mrs. Hoggett from Babe). HEB is the ONLY grocery store they have here in Texas (no Albertsons, Smith's, Safeway, nada!) and Curves refers to "Curves for Women." Haha.

* "You all stay dehydrated now. It's hot out there."--Random Man

* "Well, there were some blonde people who lived in that yellow house over there. But they don't live there no more."--the response an old Catholic lady gave us when asked if she knew a Mark who was blonde.

* "If I were an actual person..." --Elder Carreon. So true, us missionaries are not actual people.

* "I'm going to buy him some of those little doggie treats at Wal-Mart. He likes them in his ice cream."--Danny, a Vietnam veteran who we were teaching who is OBSESSED with his dog Spike. So much that whenever we've seen him and his sister driving around here, Spike gets the front seat and his sister, Mary-Kay, sits in the back.

* "For all I know, you're angels and don't have birthdays."--Henry, a man we taught from Ireland. Apparently angels don't have birthdays. News to me.

* "I'd read it and freakin' put in on a chain like Flava Flave!"--the response Ben, this young black football player at the High School, gave when asked, "If you found a gold book in the ground that you couldn't read, what would you do with it?"


So there you have it.

Yesterday was really neat because in all of our lessons we taught about the Book of Mormon. I loved it! I love the Book of Mormon so much. It truly is the word of God. I loved being able to teach about it lesson after lesson. All of the investigators have different needs and we were able to tailor the way we presented the Book of Mormon to them accordingly. One man is very devout and religious; he listens to all these ministers on the radio and studies vigorously. He doesn't see the need for more scripture; "the Bible is enough." Another investigator has heard of it, but never had the chance to read it. She is searching for the right church, wants to feel comfortable in church for the first time in her life, she's willing to follow God's will even if it does "turn out to be Mormons who everyone gives such a bad rap and talks bad about." And finally there's the cute couple, who are searching for more direction and guidance in their lives. They've never heard of the Book of Mormon and are intrigued by the idea of modern prophets. We taught all these lessons differently, yet the Spirit was powerful in each one. I love the Book of Mormon. It is scripture saved for our day, which contains the fullness of the Gospel. We can liken it unto ourselves, as Nephi taught as he was counseling his brothers. We should cherish and love it every single day because it truly is a MIRACLE from God that we have it in our hands today.

But I love you all so much. Thanks for all the love and support. I feel the Lord's love and hand in my life every day. I'm learning how to recognize it more and rely on Him for my entire strength. I love who I am becoming on the mission. It's been 6 months and I can see the growth. I can see how I've grown and changed as a missionary, teacher, friend, daughter. This life is about progression because that's what our destiny is: eternal progression.

Love,
Sister Burt

P.S. I just heard one of the Warcraft guys--who has to be at least 25--say, "Oh crap dude, that's my mom calling to pick me up. I totally lost track of the time. I have to go right now, but I'm so sorry. Tell the team, I'm sorry." Oh dear. Moral of the story: go to college, stay out of Warcraft, read the Book of Mormon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"They may look like angels..."

Family!

Hey, how's it going? Things are great here in Beeville. Just working as hard as ever. Yes, I got the package (thanks!) and the Wal-Mart giftcard (even better!). I've decided that for my birthday, all I want is just a Wal-Mart giftcard for me and my companion to get pedicures at the Salon there. Never thought I'd say that I'd want to get a pedicure at Wal-Mart, but here I am.

About a month before my mission, I finally realized that I have the WORST sense of smell--that my nose i always clogged and I just plain don't smell that well. When I realized this, I attributed it to the fact that I was hit in the nose with a softball when I was in the 7th grade (and got a sweet black eye in the process). I guess that since that moment, my nose and sense of smell never was the same. And since that's been about 10 years, I've just gotten used to it. Well, it's actually been sort of a blessing because apparently Texas would not win "Better Homes and Gardens" award for "Best Smelling State." A lot of times my companion would say, "It smelled SO bad at that house. It smelt like urine" or "Oh my gosh, I had to hold my breath over there." And of course, I never had any idea. So I'm glad for that I guess, but definitely after my mission, I think I want to go to an ENT Doctor and maybe get it checked out. Until then, it's a blessing. Haha.

I love working with Sister Bustillos. My favorite is when we are speaking in Spanish (which is very rare, maybe once a week) and the people stop us and say, "I'm confused. How come you're white and speak Spanish and she's Mexican and doesn't speak any?" :)

But our convert Victor is doing awesome. He passed the sacrament this weekend went out with the Elders twice. The Elders said that when he came with them, his testimony was really powerful and he loved it. When asked, "How did you know that this church was the true church?" he responded, "Well, I know that if Jesus were here, this is the church he'd go to. And when you are in church or Priesthood meeting and you are surrounded by so many worthy Priesthood holders of God, you feel the Spirit so strong." Wow. Pretty impressive answer. Elder Kohler agrees and said, "Yeah, also considering our Priesthood meeting and lessons are the most BORING in the whole church because they just read straight from the manual." Well, at least Victor can feel the Spirit. That's all that matters.

Here's an interesting story that all started with a contact. We were driving to an appointment and Sister Bustillos saw this woman watering her flowers. She really wanted to contact her, so she hopped out and started talking. I thought it would be a quick contact, so I stayed in the car. Well, as she was talking, about 5 seconds later, I saw a group of young guys walking towards us. My car was parked in the middle of the street, but no one was around so I ran out and contacted them. They seemed like a bunch of no-good hooligans, but one of them actually accepted a return appointment. By the time I finished talking to them, so was Sister Bustillos and we both had gotten return appointments through our contacting efforts.

Well yesterday we went back to see Elijah, the young kid. We parked by his house, said a prayer, and right before we got out, Sister Bustillos asked what our backups were. I told her that I wasn't going to tell her what our backups were (because first, she had them written in her own planner and second, I had faith that Elijah would be there).

We knocked on the door and this big tall man, with a huge tumor on the side of his cheek opens the door. A bit intimidating, I suppose. The first thing he gruffly said was, "Who are you?" We tell him the name of the church. Then he says, "MORMONS! Nope, NOT interested." I quickly jumped in and said, "Well, we're actually here to see Elijah. Is he home." "Nope, sorry girls, Elijah is NOT interested either." Then he slams the door in our face. We sort of sat there for a second--a bit shocked--but then I knocked the door again. In my head I was thinking, "We had an appointment with Elijah, not this man." After knocking, I hear, "It's the MORMONS" being yelled from inside. Then out come Elijah and starts apologizing for his dad. He said that he still would want to listen. So we sat down and started talking about different things and about the church. We sang a song and he was in shock the whole time, "You have the most amazing voices," he said. It's funny...I don't think I can quantify HOW MANY times I've heard that on my mission. Me? A good voice? I really do have to stop myself from laughing every time I hear it.

Midway into the lesson, his dad storms out and then as he's walking past us says, "Don't you listen to them, Elijah! The worship Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. And they'll tell you that Jesus and the devil were brothers." First off, wrong. And second, I never really thought that the doctrine of the devil being a son of God too was that controversial. He tromped over to his truck and the whole time he's still yelling things at us like, "I'm from Arkansas. Do you girls even know about your religion? I live just 30 minutes from where you killed all those people in that massacre. That's sick; you call yourselves Christians." He finally drove away and we went right back to talking--first, clearing up some of the things that the father had said. Elijah didn't have a problem with it and kept apologizing for his dad and the things he said. We told him not even to worry about it; we get that every once in a while, but it won't shake the testimonies we already have about Jesus Christ's restored church.

We had finally taught the Book of Mormon and were about to leave when the dad rolls up in his truck. He slams the door and comes up to us pointing his finger at the Book of Mormon that Elijah now had in his hand. "Don't you bring that trash into my house! These girls may look like angels, but they teach the doctrine of devils." Whenever the dad would say things like that, I would just bare testimony of what I knew to be true. "Have you ever read the Book of Mormon?" "I'm Christian!" he yelled, "I don't need to read that Satan book!" He went inside and then Elijah decided to put the book and pamphlet in his car to keep his dad from finding it and burning it. We committed him to a return appointment, said a prayer, and then left.

We went and sat in our cars for a bit and started making some notes in our planners before heading off to the next appointment. Then I pulled a U-turn in the middle of the road and started driving past Elijah's house. But even before we drove 5 feet, I saw a Book of Mormon lying face down in the middle of the road. We were really confused. How did that get there? Was that one that fell out of our bags before we got into the car? I got out, picked it up, and realized that it was the same Book of Mormon that we had given Elijah minutes before--it had our names written in it and the little green sticky that marked the chapter he was supposed to read. Sister Bustillos wanted me to go back and knock on the door and give it back to him, but I felt opposite. Instead, I just ran to Elijah's little blue car, opened the driver side door, and put it underneath the front passenger seat. Then I ran back to the car--because the car was still parked in the middle of the road--and we started driving away. As we drove away, we started discussing how that had gotten there. We were so preoccupied with writing in our planners that we didn't even see what happened. We decided to park a little bit farther away and see what would happen. And sure enough, as I was looking at his house through the rear view mirror, out storms Elijah's father with Elijah and two of Elijah's friends. The dad tears open the car and starts looking all around inside. We were too far away to find out what was being said, but apparently the dad was wondering where the book went. The Restoration pamphlet was still on the ground and he picked it up and stomped on it. After about 10 minutes of arguing and looking for the book, the dad goes inside.

This whole time, Sister Bustillos and I are completely shocked about what's happening. I'm watching it all from the mirrors and Sister Bustillos is turned around in her seat, holding onto the headrest trying to get a better look. We see Elijah walk away with his friends down the street. We turn around, find them (we made sure that the dad couldn't see us), and then ask them what on earth happened. Turns out the dad got mad and then threw the book at our car. Then when he looked for it again, it was gone. Elijah originally put the book in his glove box, while I thought he put it under the seat. The dad never looked under the seat, but Elijah saw it there and just said that we must have taken the book back when we found it in the middle of the road. We talked a little bit, reset the appointment to meet at a members home, and left.

But it so interesting to see how Satan works in stopping this work. How he screws peoples views and opinions of the church, eventually turning it into a bitter hatred. I felt sorry for his man, hoping and praying that one day his heart would be softened. But I'm grateful for Elijah, who stood up to his dad and continued to listen and talk with us. I know that all investigator's face opposition, but wow, that was INTENSE opposition right from the very start. He said, "See, that's what I don't like about my dad. He says he's Christian, but he doesn't follow it at all. But I see you and know that you do, say, and follow what you believe." By their fruits, ye shall know them.

--Sister Burt

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pictures

The captions above each picture are courtesy of Morgan!
Me & my new companion: Sister Bustillos!

The newer & newest (fresh off the plane) missionaries! Sister Osborne, Sister Bustillos, Sister Call, Sister Amitoelau

My Apartment! Sister Amitoelau, Sister Behrmann, Me, Sister Osborne

Our car! We named it Mrs. Bingham after this old lady Sister Bingham who we visited a lot.
Elder Horton. What a character.

All the missionaries who attended the phabr (spanish) & McAllen Wards...yeah it was a lot

Thi ac unit outside our apartment reminded us of the dharma initiative from "Lost". "The orchid"

Zone Leaders! Elder Webb & Elder Miller. Elder Webb actually wears glasses like that, Elder miller...No...No idea where he found those

With the zone leaders & our district: Sister Osborne, Me, Elder Webb, Elder Horton, Elder Miller, Elder Sheilds

Happy 4th!

Sister Osborne & I. Love that girl.

Who's going to win?!

The McAllen 1st ward had a watermelon eating contest on the 4th. This is me pretending because I'm not a huge fan of watermelon...

Sister Bustillos & I...The Best looking missionaries in Beeville!

Sister Bustillos & I at zone conference in Corpus

My district! This is our "British poses/faces..." "For British eyes only."

Yep, it finally happened!

Family!


Ok, I'm not going to save the best for last. This time, I'm putting the best FIRST!

We had a baptism this past weekend! YAY!! I didn't want to write anything about it in the other emails because I didn't want to jinx it. Sister Bustillos and I are SO excited. His name is Victor Campos, he's 22, going to the Army in October and is SO amazing. The Elders actually found him in early June or something and taught him one or two lessons and then could never get a hold of him again. And I guess even during one of their lessons--according to the teaching record--they think he was high. Haha. But we got here about a month ago and decided to stop by and start teaching him. The Elders said that he was so interested in the Gospel ever since they first met him and very excited for baptism from the start. He just needed some time. So in rolls the Sisters and we start teaching him and things just fell into place: he always sitting outside waiting for us for our appointments; we couldn't teach him inside, so he always had a little table ready out back with a table cloth, bottles of water, and his Book of Mormon and Bible waiting for us; he never missed an appointment (ok, that's a lie, he missed one because his family randomly planned a family dinner); he always prayed and read and accepted every commitment we gave him; he came to church every week in a collared shirt and TIE and even went and bought his 5-year-old son adorable church clothes. He frequently told us that he knew that baptism really truly is a way that he can have a "new life" which is something he wants more than anything. He knows the church is true and has stood up for it to all his friends and family whom have been big opposition. His mother is very hard-core Catholic and he even told her that he knows this Church is true, that is is the "most pure out of all the Churches. How could it not be?"

Anyways, he is a very stoic fellow of few words, so sometimes we would ask him questions and his answers wouldn't be much. Sometimes we weren't sure if he really truly believed in the things we were teaching him. But the way that we could see and hear his testimony was when he prayed. His prayers were so sincere and heartfelt; every time he prayed, we could feel the Spirit, feel that he has been building his relationship with his Heavenly Father, feel that he knows what he is doing is right. Well, when he was baptized, it was amazing! Everything went perfectly well, without a hitch. I've heard that your first baptism is CRAZY out-of-control--things going wrong all over the place--but ours was awesome. I attribute it to the fact that we're girls and have to plan out every little detail, WAY in advance. So that when the big day came, we were all prepared. I love planning. I always thought I was a planner before my mission, but wow, the mission really changes the way you think and act.

ANYWAYS, the reason I told you that he was a very stoic fellow was because the thing he was most excited for was getting the Holy Ghost. Well, after he got confirmed on Sunday, he sat back down and since I was sitting up at the piano with Sister Bustillos (she played this week and I conducted for some random reason...oh the random jobs that we missionaries do), and I could see Victor's face perfectly: he was BEAMING, he was so excited and actually SMILING! We've never seen him actually smile before, so to see him after recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost was an experience I will never forget. This Gospel is true and I'm so grateful for this short time I have to dedicate myself fully to sharing it with others.

So I guess anything I write can't top that, but I'll just write about the random things that happened this week anyways. Ok, first off, I've decided that some church-produced videos are awesome and great (for example, Finding Faith in Christ or Special Witness of Christ) and some are NOT--ahem: let me introduce you to Our Heavenly Father's Plan. Any returned missionary who is reading this right now is probably cringing as they're reading this. Yeah, it's that bad. Produced in the 80s, horrible acting, and the hair, clothes, and makeup--oh my! I have seen most of the videos, but never that one. I really wanted to see it so we decided to "work it into" one of our lessons with our newer investigators--wow, I learned real fast that that was a bad idea. She was so weirded out the whole time and Sister Bustillos and I were so embarrassed that we were showing it. When we got done with the lesson, we just started laughing. Ah, you live and learn, right? Luckily, she didn't drop us and we've continued to teach her. But then again, the reason we wanted to watch that video with her is because we had given it to some other investigators to watch as "homework." Bad idea, they've suddenly disappeared and we haven't heard from them since. Oopsie-daisy. Now we know, right?

Also this week we were having dinner at member's house with their family and we were all sitting on the couch eating because they don't have a kitchen table. Sister Bustillos and I were wedged into this over sized armchair. It was the Gonzales family, whom we love so, and we were eating tostadas and rice. I've mentioned before my new obsession with hot sauce and they had a bottle and I told them how much I loved it. Then Brother Gonzales says, "Oh really? Well if you like hot, you should try some of my special sauce." Then the girls started giggling and freaking out--apparently, it's habenero sauce that you can only buy in San Antonio and is a pretty big deal. I told him I would love to try some and so then he says, "Ok, it's just in the couch to the left of where you are sitting." I look down and Sister Bustillos shoves her hand in between the cushions after a bit of digging, pulls out a small bottle of hot sauce. Apparently, it's so special that it must be kept in a secret, special place. Well, I grab it and start pouring a few drops on my tostada and suddenly, a huge wave of sauce fell out. Great. I like hot sauce, but I also like to be able to taste a bit of the original flavor of the food. I brushed it off like I did that all the time and always used tons. Brother Gonzales started laughing and said that I would pay for it. Well, I did. It was ridiculously hot and I couldn't even feel my mouth after. I think I went through about 2 glasses of water just on that one tostada alone. It wasn't BAD, but it was just too much. I think I actually would have liked it--just in lessons quantities.

So Sister Bustillos and I fasted this week to find a family who is searching for the Gospel. I'll be honest, for the majority of my life, I haven't been the best faster. I mean, of course I ALWAYS did it, but I honestly never fasted with a purpose. I would just do it, go without food, then eat dinner whenever the family would. What a waste I have been doing all these years! I've learned recently--a bit before my mission and now here on my mission--that there is so much power in fasting; it works. Sister Bustillos had to get some blood drawn today and had to fast, so we just decided to fast together as a companionship and actually make her fast serve a purpose. Through fasting yesterday and today, our fast served two purposes: to get proper results on her blood work and then so that we could get proper results here in out area. That's what fasting is: it serves as a catalyst to get results--whether those be physical, emotional, or spiritual. There are so many promises and blessings in the scriptures about fasting and prayer--the combination of the two--and if we really believed the Lord's promises in the scriptures, I believe that we would be more sincere and determined in our fasts. I know that fasting should not be taken lightly and also that power is manifest through doing it.

But so yesterday, we were fasting and all of our plans fell through. I started thinking, "Man, we just had this awesome baptism and now it looks like we're back to starting from scratch." We were at these apartments because our appointment with Rachel and Dario--the couple to whom we gave the "Our Heavenly Father's Plan video" fell though aka we knocked on their door, then we heard them stand up, deadbolt the door, and sit back down. Awesome. Our backups were to knock the rest of those apartments, but we just didn't feel right about it. So we decided to drive all the way to this street called Chapparel Trail, where we had worked about 2 weeks ago, but had no success.

We drove to Chapparel and I looked in my planner to see if there were any potentials we could visit. I say the name of Joanne and remembered her. When we knocked on her door 2 weeks ago, she answered and was excited to see us, but didn't have time at the moment. Right, they all say that. But I decided to go back to her because before she left she said, "But PLEASE don't forget about me!" "Ok, we'll pray for you, " I said and then she replied, "No, please don't forget about me. Come back another day because I'm really interested in learning and want you to come back next time you're in the area." O.k. Sounds good to me. So we did. Well we knock on the door and she immediately lets us in. We sit down and she says, "Ok, so what's your lesson you have for me today?" Huh? Sister Bustillos and I looked at each other, we were so confused. Did she think that we were Jehovah Witnesses? (Which, by the way, are totally common here). We clarified who we were and then started talking about the Spirit and how we normally like to sing a hymn and pray before we start talking about God because it brings in the Spirit. She wasn't quite sure what that was and so we explained it a bit more. Then we sang just two verses of "I Am a Child of God" and immediately after she says, "Wow! I've never felt this way before." We asked what she meant and she kept saying, "What is that? What did you girls do? I've never felt this way." Immediately, we jump into teaching her about the Spirit and how what it feels like. She was in such awe. She kept talking about it and talking about it and how different she felt. She said that when we sang and it came, she felt that something had literally pushed her back; that before we came, she had so many worries, stresses, cares, troubles, anxieties, but after we sang, ALL of them immediately went away. Like "she had tons of weights on her and they were all immediately removed." That all those things that were harrowing her soul were gone and she knew that everything was going to be all right. She said that she has only felt something close to that ONCE before and that it was from someone that helped her out and ended up doing great things in life. "I know that that will happen to you too because you have this same feeling, but greater." Um, I'm not sure how to explain that whole thing. Haha, but it was awesome. She kept talking about the Spirit and the feelings she had--and KEPT having throughout the lesson. It's funny because I didn't feel a deluge of the Spirit come in. But later, I was talking about it with Sister Bustillos and she said that we, as missionaries, are so used to having the Spirit with us. That when we were set apart, we now have even more of the Spirit. And for that reason, we sometimes get very accustomed to it and don't realize it. So when we go into homes and teach those who have never felt it, it is an amazing, strong feeling. I thought that it was so incredible HOW much the Spirit touched Joanne yesterday. The rest of the lesson went great and it turns out that she has been disappointed with all the churches--with all the hypocrisy, lies, conflicting doctrine--and that she is searching for a church that she will be comfortable in--yet hasn't found it. While I was teaching her, I was reminded of D&C 123:12 that says, "There are many...who are only kept from the truth because the know not where to find it." There are literally hundreds of people--just like Joanne--who are kept from the truth because they don't know where to look. The entire lesson was incredible and she is so excited to come to church and have us come back. Now, our job is to make sure that we do a great job daily contacting her because Satan will be daily contacting her too and he DOESN'T want her to find the truth.

Anyways, time's up and my fingers are a bit sore from typing so fast. Hope all is well on your end! LOVE YOU and God bless you...every one.

Love,
Sister Burt

Monday, August 3, 2009

Praises!

Hello.

Well another week has come and gone. I have been out nearly 6 months already and I can't believe it. And I come home next July, craziness. So this will be my first and last August in the mission, so I better do my absolute best to make it worth it!

But Beeville is awesome as usual. This place really is growing on me. Last week we had 18 new investigators which was incredible! That's the numbers we would have down in the valley on a REALLY really good week. So yeah, obviously, we had an amazing week last week. The Lord really blessed us in so many ways and allowed so many doors to open up for us.

But yeah, I forgot to tell you about the apartment situation. Or maybe I did, I don't' remember and am too lazy to go back and check. So we actually live RIGHT next to our Elders. President Miller told me that this is a really unique living situation because we aren't supposed to live next to Elders at all. We're not even supposed to have a wall that shares with their wall. But I guess a member in San Antonio owns the apartments and gives the church an amazing rent cost. So it's funny because we go up our stairs and then it forks and the right goes to our apartment and the left goes to the Elders. There is only two apartments on each floor. So yeah, it's funny living next to them. Instead of just calling for our weekly reports, they just stop by. We see them all the time--WAY more than you usually would see your Elders. They love to play pranks on us at nights. We get them back sometimes, but not always. We have a pretty sweet one planned (don't' worry, it's not bad in any way, it's just funny). But Elder Hartner and Elder Kohler are their names. I discovered REAL quick that Elder Hartner loves A Goofy Movie and so we quote it ALL the time. Haha. Sister Bustillos LOVES Disney movies too, so we quote those quite a bit, but I'm trying to be better about laying off the quoting.

So guess what? I FINALLY got to see an armadillo. I don't know if I told anyone this but one of my GOALs here in Texas was to see an armadillo because I think they're so awesome and cute and SO Texas. Well, I finally got my chance: we were driving to Skidmore one day and there is was. Dead as a doornail on the side of the road. Lying on its back with its short stubby little arms and legs pointed straight to the sky. Sister Bustillos and I freaked out. We almost considered going back to take a picture of it. But yes, I saw my armadillo. My new goal: see a live one.

Oh, and I also saw my first Amish couple.

A few weeks ago, we were tracking in Skidmore and we went up to this lady watering her plants in her garden. We asked if we could give her something and she RUDELY said no and told us that she wasn't interested and to get off her property. We were a bit taken aback, but it was ok. We moved on. We weren't even sure why we were on that street, but when your backups for your backups fall through, you find yourself doing things that you never planned on. Anyways, we tracked the street for a bit, but then had to start walking back to head to another appointment. It was on a country road, so the houses had lots of property. We start walking back and we pass her house again and this guy runs up to us. "Hey, what was that you were trying to give her?" We were a bit shocked. "I was standing right behind her, and I saw how rude she was to you. That wasn't very nice, that was actually very rude." We started talking a bit about our message as missionaries and gave him a pamphlet about the Restoration. He said he was interested and wanted us to come back. AND turns out name is Jason Burt! I don't' think I've met ANY other Burt's that I wasn't related too. So there was a sweet connection right there. But it was an awesome experience to show that people are always watching you. I didn't even know he was next to her, otherwise I would have asked him. But after we came back, he sought us out. He ran after us (usually, it's always the other way around). People are always watching us.

Last week, we were contacting around 8:45 at a park. It was time for us to leave, so we started heading back to our car. Right before our car, we saw a lady and started talking to her and invited her to church. She wasn't interested and said that she already had her religion. But she said that she was from the New Hope Christian Church and that this Saturday they were having a women's Christian fellowship and that we were invited. Women from all faiths in Beeville were invited and there would be singing, food, and sermons given. So we said thanks and went on our merry way.

Sister Bustillos really wanted to go, but I had my doubts. I didn't think it would be a good use of our time. Finally, we decided that we would go. We got there Saturday morning and as I started walking towards the door in this little hallway, I heard the beats of a tambourine. "Oh dear," I thought. I opened the door and there were all these women standing on their feet, some with tambourines and maracas in their hands, singing praises to the Lord. We were about 15 minutes late, but the usher was nice and gave us a little goody bag that had note taking supplies, mints, a classic Christian bookmark with a Psalm on it, and then took a seat on the side in the back. The song that we walked in on kept going and going, it never ended. I think about 10 minutes AFTER we walked in, they finished singing that song. It was crazy. Then they started singing more and more songs and praises. People were shouting "Praise the Lord" or "Hallelujah!" at random times during the songs or when people were talking. I didn't really feel the Spirit, except only during a few brief moments.

Well, we decided that we wanted to go up and sing a song. I know we've all heard stories of missionaries doing this before--where the are in a church, come up, sing a song, leaves the multitude admonished, and sit back down. Classic missionary story. Well, we wanted our turn at that. We knew we wanted to sing, "I am a Child of God." But we didn't know how to get up and do it. The congregation and some of the songs were in Spanish, so I quickly wrote down the lyrics to the Spanish versus and we created a sweet duet arrangement in about 5 minutes. We asked the usher if we could sing a song and she said yes. So later when they asked all the representatives of other churches to stand up and introduce themselves, we had our chance. We were the last to stand, and most people just stood up and said, "I'm whoever and I'm from this church" and sat down. We stood up and then walked to the front and then starting introducing ourselves, the church, what we do as missionaries, etc. Then we said that we would like to sing a song. It was so awesome. Sister Bustillos sand the first verse in English, then I sang the 2nd in Spanish, then we sang the 3rd in English with a Spanish chorus and then slowly repeated the last line of the chorus in English. It was SO amazing. We both felt the Spirit SO strong there. The lady in the front row who was crazy and saying "Praise the Lord!" every two seconds before was quiet and crying. It was awesome because during the whole song, there was only one person who quietly yelled during our song. During the previous songs, people were shouting randomly like crazy. And then at the end of songs, people would clap. But the women just knew that they weren't supposed to clap, that they weren't supposed to shout. When we finished our song, it was dead quiet. Only one person tried to clap, but quickly stopped. The Spirit penetrated the room and everyone in attendance could feel it. We bore our testimonies--Sister Bustillos in English and me in Spanish--about the divinity of this great and marvelous latter-day work, how there is a prophet today, about the restoration. Then we sat down.

The rest of the conference consisted of a few more songs, then a sermon. It was good, but I am so grateful for the restoration of the Gospel. I'm grateful that God was shown us the proper way to worship Him; a way that allows us to feel His Spirit in abundance. I'm grateful for these women of faith: they have so much faith and belief in Jesus Christ, they love Him, they worship Him, they know that only through Him they can be saved. I'm grateful for the 11th article of faith which says that others have the same right and privilege to worship who, what, or how they may.

After we decided to stay for lunch and meet some of the women. It was nice to meet people and then talk about the Church. Most people aren't interested in the church, but are more intrigued by what we are doing as missionaries: who we are, where we're from, why we're doing this. I know some people do this to keep us from talking about the Gospel, but I see through it and quickly answer their questions, but always bring it back to testifying and teaching them about the restored truth. It was funny because the sermon/preacher lady said that they had invited all the churches in Beeville and they got about 7 rejection letters. Sad. But when we were there, she and a few others asked, "So, um, how did you here about this? Were you invited?" Haha, obviously, they had invited EVERYONE EXCEPT the Mormons. But, we got invited anyways, came, represented, talked with a few people (but not much because we were on their property and didn't want to intrude too much), and then left. I'm grateful for that opportunity. I know and hope that someone in that congregation felt the Spirit and will find us another day searching for more.

People in all parts of the world are searching for the truth. I've witnessed this so many times. That's why it's worth knocking doors. That's why we talk to everyone we can. That's why we go to the "Women of Hope--2nd Annual Community Women's Fellowship" even though it may be different than what we are used to. I have never been to another church service ever, but it strengthened my testimony about the truthfulness of this Gospel more than I could have initially imagined. I love this Gospel so much. I love what it does to our lives. I love how my investigators are growing in their knowledge of the Gospel. I love who I am becoming.

Love you all! See you next week!
Sister Burt

P.S. Chelsea--I wrote a letter to Bronson congratulating him on his choice to be baptized (don't ask me why, I just did because I felt prompted too). Anyways, I just sent it to your house, so I trust that you will get it into his hands. Oh and maybe you could get him to talk to Curtiss. I wrote Curtiss a letter a while ago, but Curtiss is Phillipino and 1/8 black (he always makes it a point to tell everyone). Bronson would be an awesome fellowshipper. Also, you and Brittany Blackburn because you are good friends. So yeah, don't forget to take care of Curtiss! Thanks, girlie!