Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Putt-in'!, Zone Conference, and Real Conference

Familia Burt,
Hey everyone! Hope things are going grand. Thanks for the email. I got moms, but not Dior's (supposedly, she was supposed to send me one, but I never got it). First off, I got my blood pressure taken when I got my teeth cleaned. They had this fancy automatic, new device that they put on your wrist and it takes it. I'm glad you are concerned about my b/p too, because no one else here seems to care or think it's a big deal. Haha.
Oh! So everyone needs to go and read the October Ensign. My Mission is is it! I actually don't have it, but the title is something about members sharing the Gospel here down south or in south Texas. But it's so sweet because the lady on the first page of the article, I MET here. She is an AMAZING member missionary and such a rockstar! I have a list of "idols" (but not like idol idols, but people (mostly women) I just look up to or have certain qualities that I admire). And my trainer--Sister Loftus--is in the picture with all the Sister missionaries--the blonde one. We actually haven't even been able to read it because we get the Liahona in Spanish and the Ensign in English. But we always get the English version about a month after the Spanish. That would be fine, but in the October Liahona, they cut that article out. Bummer!
Oh this is really random and old new, but Dad would be proud. A few weeks ago, we had zone training during interviews. We played a scripture chase game and the top 2 winners who found the reference (out of the 500 or so that are listed in the lessons for Preach My Gospel), got to go up and put this golf ball into a glass cup. There will three different point values: 1 (for the really easy one 3 feet away), 5 (about 10 feet away), and 10 (15 feet away). Well, I haven't played golf in a while (obviously), but I got a ton of the scriptures. If you were the first person to find it and put your hand up, you got an extra put. Well, I was first quite a few times and went to the 10 foot every time. And I made it nearly every time! I probably went up about 10 or more times. And made my "extra" shots, whenever I was first. At first my team was so ecstatic and shocked that I made the far putt (which, few others could make), but eventually they just stopped cheering and making a big deal out of it because I made it so many times in a row. Haha. I felt like I was playing the "Hole in One" game from Price is Right. Good Times. Anyways, Dad, I thank you for the putting skills!
Last week was Zone Conference. Elder Nielson and his wife, Marcia, came and spoke. He is a new 70 who was called this past April. Holy Moley it was a spiritual experience. It wasn't structured and formalized, like other zone conferences have been, but was led and directed by the Spirit. Sister Nielson was INCREDIBLE! Like I've said before, I've met or encountered so many amazing women here on my mission. Anyways, I don't have time to write all that I learned, but just know that I did. ;)
For the first time since we've been here in Beeville, we taught a full-fledged family: a mom, dad, and multiple kids! It was such an awesome experience because we've taught part families (mostly the mom and sometimes her kids), but this time was different. The dad was the one who was most interested. We haven't been able to see them since, but we have an appointment later this week and we are so excited for them. The Gospel really is all about families.
I'm really excited for Conference this week. I hope everyone else is too. We watched the Relief Society General Broadcast and it was so amazing. Honestly, I never watched that before my mission, but now any chance that I get, I eat it up. Those women are amazing. I especially love Sister Thomsen. She's definitely on my list. But I hope that everyone is preparing themselves for Conference. Last conference, I prayed and wrote down any questions that I had. I compiled a list of about 25 questions and I was so surprised when from the very first talk given, I received answers. By the end of conference, all of them were answered. Maybe the family should do this for FHE tonight. It really made my conference experience that much more worthwhile and significant. But yeah, I can't WAIT!
--Sister Burt
P.S.I thought I sent you an email with little things that I wanted, I included a list in my last package, but I forgot some. So, I'm adding these. If you've sent the package, great. Don't worry about it. If not, then if these could get added in...I'd love it! :)--Perfume: because it makes me feel clean and fresh. Even if you just pick up a ton of samples from the mall, I wouldn't care. But I love "Very Sexy" from Victoria Secret. Or Burberry Brit. Juicy. Ja'dore. Honestly, anything will do.--My Hair-dyer diffuser attachment: I've been using Sister Bustillos and love it. I NEVER used one before because I only thought it was for curly-haired girls, but it actually works wonders on my waves. It's under my bathroom sink and is this big black thing...it has pookey things coming out of it. Not quite sure how to explain it. But it's under there.--Proactiv Face Mask: It should be under my sink, in my cupboard, medicine cabinet. Actually, there should be a few of them scattered in my bathroom. Just send 2 or 3 or however many you can find. I love them (and so does my companion) and actually the Elders have been using up all mine. So luckily I have tons of extras. They're in a white package that's about 2-3 inches tall.--Biosilk Silk Serum: get it at Costco because it's SUPER cheap there (like 8-10 bucks). Oh also, I asked for that curl product from "Big Sexy", but don't worry about it.
Thanks! Love you all!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Keep Moving Forward!

Buenos Ding Dong Diddly Dias, Neighborinos!
So this week has been a good one! To clarify, I was kind of sick two weeks ago, flu-like symptoms--such as diarrhea and body chills--but no fever. It was super lame! Everyone here in Beeville is sick. We were at the college dorms one day and walked into a room that was dark, damp, musty and there were about 5 kids passed out on the beds--supposedly they all had the flu and one of them just got back from the hospital because of it. We got out of there as soon as we could, but still...no bueno.
Oh and yesterday in church, a man named "Big Dave" sang an old gospel song in church. I was excited, but then he took out his CD player, pushed play, and this crazy country band started playing. I knew the song he was singing wasn't a "church" song, but I still thought that since it was about Jesus and such it would be good. Haha, it was good but I was a bit shocked. I've pretty sure that's the first time I've ever heard a steel guitar in church.
Anyways, I got your little package and with letters and LOVED it! I actually mailed off a package today that has a bunch of "P-day clothes" that I have yet to wear and will never wear. I wish someone would have told me that on p-day you never change out of your proselyting clothes at the store, library, etc. If I would have known, I wouldn't have brought so many t-shirts and other junk. Oh well. Live and learn. I had to mail that off before I got to write letters, so I'll probably send back some replies to the family's letters. So expect that soon!
Well, Sister Bustillos and I are doing great. We love each other so much. She very, very, very girlie and is having a hard time adjusting to "non-worldy" things such as shopping, spending 2 hours to get ready in the morning, working out at the gym, etc. Stuff which we all miss, but it's been a bit of a struggle for her. At the beginning, she was also really homesick--A LOT! It's so strange because I don't miss home at all--no offense fam, but I miss you, but I never think about you or home or anything because I know that you're still there, happy, enjoying life and that you'll STILL be there when I come back...haha wow how I've changed since my freshman year of college...). She's naturally very tender and emotional, so she cried a lot, which was hard for me to adjust to. But I've learned a lot more about compassion and service through it. But actually, it hasn't been a hard companionship at all! I've loved all my companions and I still get along with her SO great and love her and can't wait to hang out with her ALL the time after the mission. So yeah, Sister Bustillos is AWESOME because she has such a strong testimony and love for God, his commandments, and her covenants. I really do learn a lot from her every day. And we've been together almost 2 transfers!
Last weekend, I got my teeth cleaned at the Costal Bend College. There are tons of college girls in the ward who are in the dental hygiene program (apparently, even though it's in the middle of nowhere, the program is ranked 3rd or something in the country. Who'd thought?). But the girls are all super cool and the weirdest thing is that they almost ALL are from Alberta, Canada. SO weird. It's hilarious because they say "Eh?" all the time. I totally thought it was just a joke that people make, but while Denise was cleaning my teeth, she said it about 20 times. I love it. So yeah, I may come back from Texas not only saying Ya'll and using the word "fixing" for everything (I'm fixing to leave, I'm fixing to write a letter, I'm fixing...etc), but also I may say "Eh?" Haha, just kidding, I don't say any of those things, nor do I intend to...
Well, our investigators are progressing...slowly. One thing my mission president told me is that we need to learn to trust in the conversion process. Don't try to rush or force anything. Let the Spirit be the converter and help them come to know the divinity of the restored Gospel. We've been teaching a boy named Bobby who was awesome and came to church, but he's a bit slower. I think we had to teach the restoration about 4 times before we moved on. It really frustrated my companion because A LOT of the people we're been meeting or teaching "don't get it" because they're not the smartest bunch of coconuts. It kind of got me sad too for a sec because we teach and teach, yet they still don't get it. They don't understand the gravity of what we are saying. THAT JESUS CHRIST RESTORED HIS GOSPEL THROUGH A LIVING PROPHET AND NO OTHER CHURCH HAS THE AUTHORITY TO BAPTIZE FOR THE SALVATION OF SOULS! But immediately after, I realized that we weren't called to the dorms at Harvard where the supposed "intellectuals" of the world are fostered. We were called to Beeville, TX. We serve the people here in the Costal Bend College Dorms or the people in the little shacks in Beeville. It doesn't matter. The message is universal and for all. The people at Harvard wouldn't understand it any more than the people here; in any mission, people just don't get it. Only the prepared are ready to receive it; only the prepared are willing to allow the Spirit to bring the truth of it not only "unto", but "into" their hearts where it begins to grow and develop into a testimony. We preach to every to convert many.
This week hasn't been my best. We haven't been contacting everyone we see, but instead, we just let people walk by. Even though we don't want to admit it, we still have slight fear about going up to strangers and interrupting their daily lives. I know that this is the most important message they will ever hear--and therefore, I shouldn't care that I'm interrupting--but apparently, I don't truly understand that, otherwise I would be talking to more people. As a result, I've decided to study chapter 9 this week and really focus on contacting to find, finding to teach, and teaching to baptize. At the very end of the section in chapter 9 entitled, "No Effort Wasted", it says that we should continue diligently to move forward. Which reminded me of a great Disney movie--Meet the Robinsons--where the dad is an inventor and whenever the family fails at little things or messes up they all shout "Keep Moving Forward!", which is their family motto. Mr. Robinson says that if he would have given up after his first invention failed, he never would have become the amazing, great inventor that he is today and he wouldn't have his amazing family. I think I've already mentioned that motto before, but oh well, I can't remember or not, but I love it so I'll repeat it. Haha. I've realizing that failure is just a step forward to eventual, inevitable success. It's not a step back, but if we learn and don't get discouraged, it helps us reach our goal--only if we have the Lord's help and faith in what we are doing. If we really believed in the promises of the Lord, we would run out of our apartment every single day; be happy every moment, even in our tribulations and trails--like the people of Alma in Mosiah 24; and talk to every single person that will listen. The Lord will guide us to success, if we repent, humble ourselves, and grow in faith. It's funny how our progression in the Gospel, really always goes back to a deeper study, understanding, and appreciation for the "basics."
I've been humbled, I've learned my lesson, wallowing in my self-pity has gotten me no where and it does nothing for my investigators, the children of God whom I haven't met yet, and for myself and my progression as a missionary and daughter of God. I am a daughter of God and have so much potential--only through Him.
LOVE YOU ALL! XOXOXO--Sister Burt
P.S. Just so you know, my Spanish hasn't gotten that bad as the salutation of this letter may suggest. It's true that in Beeville you never--well, rarely--use your Spanish and it's SUPER hard to study every morning because you don't even use it...But oh well. But Haha...that's a Simpson's quote from Senor Flanders, Ned Flanders Mexican Uncle). Have a great week!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Campbell Family

Family,

So Beeville is good. The Beeville branch has gotten WAY more lively since all the college girls came back. It definitely was needed. Of course there are still random stories and adventures. My favorite are some of the talks that people give here. One guy's talk was on parables, so he opened up his Book of Mormon and started reading the parable of the Olive Tree from Jacob 5. Immediately once he started reading for verse 1, my head whips over to Elder Hartner and we give each other a look like, "Oh dear, is he really going to read this whole thing? All 70-something verses?!" Yep, he did--well almost. He read for about 25 minutes and then looked up at the clock and said, "Oh wow, my time's up. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." It was long, but hilarious. Haha.

We've been having a lot of Bible bashing lessons recently. Not because we want to or instigate it, but because the other people do. It's frustrating because that's now why we're here at all. For example, we taught a guy named James Jones--this black man who teaches about Jesus Christ at the prison. We set up a return appointment, brought a member couple and then...the bashing began. Sister Wagner and him went off for like an hour. I barely said a thing. My favorite part is that he works at a mechanic shop and he had his work clothes on, and his shirt was completely unbuttoned and all his chest hair and beer belly was sticking out. So he stands up and stands next to the one light in the room and starts preaching the GOSPEL at the top of his lungs to us. It was a bad, bad, lesson. I was so grateful to finally get control of the situation (an hour and a half later...it took THAT long for me to find a second for him to take a breath so I could squeeze that we had to go) and leave. Yikes...

About 2 weeks ago we had a very interesting lesson. We were walking on this country road called Chapporral. The homes have lots of property and are spaced far apart. Sister Bustillos and I just had a lesson prior and I was doing most of the talking. As we were driving to this area, I asked her what was up during that lesson because she hardly talked. Well, she finally just told me that she wanted to, but whenever she would open her mouth and say a sentence, I would just jump in and cut her off. She said that I've never done that before, but during this past week, it's been happening a lot. At first I was kind of mad, not at her, but because I knew it was true. I didn't really notice that I was cutting her off in the lessons, all I knew was that she wasn't teaching and talking as much. I was still a little upset and as we were tracting, we didn't really talk to one another. We each had our note cards out and were memorizing different scripture references to ourselves as we walked the long walks from one house to another. I wasn't in a talking mood, and so we just walked in silence.

We knocked house after house with no success, and then we walked up this long circular driveway and knocked on the house. On the car window, we noticed that there were a lot of "Support our Troops" stickers and army paraphernalia. A boy with a short hair cut answers the door and we introduce ourselves. We discover that he was the one who was in the army and he just got back from Iraq. We asked if he had ever seen missionaries before and he said, "No." Cool. So we started talking more and asked if we could come in and share our unique message with him about Jesus Christ's gospel. "Sure!" he said with a smile. Before we walk in, we ask if there's another woman in the house and he says that his mom is home. So we tell him to come invite her to listen. He runs upstairs and we go into the family room. The house is gorgeous and there are pictures of all the kids, especially one of their daughters from their weddings. "Look, Sister," Sister Bustillos says, "All the wedding dresses are modest." And indeed, they were. "This must be a good, solid Christian family," I thought.

The mom walks in and we introduce ourselves. "Yeah, and what do you want? What's your point?" We explain that we preach the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. At this point we're all sitting down. Sister Bustillos and I are a bit apart on the couch, and the son is sitting in an armchair to our left and the mom was sitting all the way on the right in another chair. I ask if we could sing a song and say a prayer before we begin to invite the Spirit. " NO. I do not think that will be necessary. What's your point? Let's just get to it." Um, ok. Sister Bustillos and I were a bit taken a back, no one has ever said not to a song and prayer. We start talking about how the Lord has always called prophets to teach his Gospel and that he gave them Priesthood authority. "Woah, woah, woah," she says, "Where does it say that in the Bible?" Oh no, I knew where this is going... "Let me go get my Bible." I open up my Bible, but my mind was a bit frazzled because she was so rude and upfront. I knew where it was located in multiple places in the Bible (Matthew, Luke, etc), but the exact references escaped me in that moment. It's silent and we're both flipping through our scriptures trying to find it. I was using a new, smaller pair of scriptures (different than my study scriptures because these smaller ones are much lighter to carry around), so I didn't have them marked the way I was used to with my old ones. "Sorry," I said, "I know where it is, give me a second." "Oh! Take your time. Take all the time you need," she--Mrs. Campbell--says with a smirk. I finally find it and share it with her and then start talking more about Priesthood authority and how the Lord always called men to be prophets who had that authority. "Just one minute! I don't know where you're getting that! Where does it say it has to be men!? Doesn't Christ love us all? Didn't he leave all of us the Holy Spirit to work miracles in his name? To cast out devils? The Lord wouldn't discriminate like that!" Great.

So, you can imagine where this lesson went. She immediately starts throwing out scripture after scripture, doctrine after doctrine--of course, giving us no time to speak. But then she always turned the table on us and started asking US questions about what we thought the Gospel was or what we thought of this or that. Every time we would start explaining different things (such as the 5 principles of the Gospel, who Christ is to us, or about the Holy Ghost), she would immediately refute us by opening up her Bible or saying, "I don't know where you're getting that! Where does it say that?!" Of course, the whole time, her son is sitting in his chair smirking and not saying a word.

Then the conversation goes off into a whole lecture about the Holy Ghost and how that's all that we need. The Lord left us the Holy Ghost to tell us what to do. True, but he also has called prophet. She starts asking us if we have ever felt the Holy Ghost (I'm pretty sure she doubted that we ever had), because then they start talking about how with it, you can speak in tongues and that's how the Holy Ghost is manifest to you. It's funny because at one point she said that when we came in, she felt a presence, but she saw it as "two other spirits, children of God are entering my home." Afterwards, Sister Bustillos and I talked about it and we're pretty sure she felt the Spirit as we came in, but didn't really recognize it. The son--Travis--starts going off how that he has been baptized by the Holy Ghost and how he can speak in tongues and how amazing it is. "I mean, you can't control it or make it happen. It just comes and happens. It's like it takes over your body and you have no control." Wow...personally, that doesn't not sound like something Heavenly Father would ever send: a Spirit that takes over your body, SEIZING your agency and self-control. I don't think so.

Well, we knew we had to get out of there and I did all that I could within the first 5 minutes to get out. But she wouldn't let us. She kept talking and preaching and talking. Finally, I ask if we could say a prayer and she replies, "Ha! I would never have your words defile my house." Ok...so we left. It was funny because the whole time she was saying, "I love you. We love you. You are children of God. I just hope and will pray for you that one day you will wake up and realize how to come to Jesus and be saved." Thanks for that, but being saved isn't that easy.

As we walked out the door, I--as much as I wanted to GET out of there as soon as I could--asked, "Well, do you know any friends or neighbors who would be interested in learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" I wasn't expecting her to actually give me a referral, but still, I tried because that's what I'm supposed to do. Her response: "Hahaha, oh NO honey, I would never SICK you on any of them." And she just kept laughing as she shut the door behind us.

As we left the house and started walking down the long driveway, Sister Bustillos and I hugged each other and linked arms. We were SO glad that we were together in that moment. That day I learned a lesson in humility. I was so sad that I was not talking to her before and apologized. She forgave me as if nothing had happened. It was amazing because even though, moments before we weren't really talking that much, immediately once we stepped into that house and started being attacked, we became one in purpose. We knew what we believed and we taught and testified together. We switched off and answered all the questions as the Spirit directed. I honestly can't say who talked or taught more in that lesson because it was both of us. I'm glad that she told me that I was talking over the lessons because I WAS! And I didn't even notice it. That's a big problem with me is that sometimes I do things and don't realize that I'm even doing it and hurting others. I need sometimes for someone to tell me to help me realize that I'm not perfect and that what I'm doing isn't the best.

"I feel like we just got stoned," Sister Bustillos said as we were walking to another door. And that is so true. We, as chosen disciples and missionaries, were stoned in that lesson; not physically, but spiritually. Every word we said was taken and stomped on, we were treated with disrespect. Every sentence that Mrs Campbell spoke was dripping with condescension and mockery. But, we came through. We preached the true Gospel to that family. They didn't want to listen, but we have been called to preach to everyone. Another interesting thing that Sister Bustillos mentioned is that she said as I was talking during that lesson, she turned and looked at me and could FEEL the Holy Ghost between us. The Holy Ghost was definitely the third member of our companionship in that moment--as it should be. We could feel the Spirit so strong as we were teaching, but it faded as soon as the contemptuousness remarks came our way.

As much as I DID not enjoy that lesson, I will appreciate it my whole mission. I became more united with my companion. I realized that the doctrine of the devil has corrupted so many churches. That the apostasy is real (as if I didn't already know that before) and it lives, breathes, works, and plays all around us. I know even more that this is the great and marvelous latter-day work of the Lord. There are souls who are starving for this Gospel and others who are vehemently against it because they are blinded by the craftiness of men. I still pray for that family because I know that they are children of God and that he loves them. I know that this work is true and I love it.

Love,
Sister Burt

P.S. I have a few shout outs for a few friends:

Bri--Congrats on being pregnant! I heard from my friend Alex, who reads your blog every once in a while. I'm so excited for you!
Gavin MacGregor-- I wrote you a letter, but it got returned. Apparently you moved. I need your new address!
Chelsea--Do you think it would be possible for me to get one of Helen's prints of Christ? More specifically, the one where he is holding all the kids hands in a chain? I don't know if it's possible, but it would be sweet!