Monday, September 7, 2009

The Campbell 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 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." 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.

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!

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