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!

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