Monday, August 10, 2009

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

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