Monday, October 26, 2009

Daily Special: Rice and Beans

Hey Familia,

Things are going great here in Texas. It's raining like crazy though. Yikes. I'm not so much a fan. My companion loves tracting and working in the rain, but as for me...not so much. I try not to make a big deal about it. I'm a missionary in Texas a little rain (ok, actually it's been CRAZY these past few weeks) is nothing compared to a missionary serving in Forks, WA or Louisiana. So, I've learned to stop "murmuring" and just go out and work! But I'm not going to lie, my socks and skirt is SOAKED right now and I'm super excited to get back to the apartment and put on some sweats and warm, fuzzy socks!

We are teaching a part-member family named the Gonzales Family. It consists of the mom, dad, and 3 girls. All are baptized except for the youngest, Beyonce, who is 8. The family was baptized a few years ago, but then became inactive. Missionaries came once every few months over the past few years to try and reactivate them, but nothing ever happened. The mom had lost her testimony completely about the church, chooses to work on Sundays, and actually only quit smoking for about 1 month before her baptism. Jesse has been in and out of jail, all for unpaid child support for his daughters who he hasn't seen in years and has no idea where they are because the birth mother won't tell him. It's a sad situation. The 3 girls are all Geneva's girls and aren't adopted by Jesse, but in reality, he's their father. They can't be adopted by him because Geneva's ex-husband won't allow it, even though he hasn't been seen in forever either. Seeing situations like this make me so sad. We love this family so much, yet past mistakes has permitted Satan to ensnare them in his web of despair. We got here in July and went to visit them. They loved us and we talked for a long time. They started inviting us over for dinner once a week, even though they don't really have enough for themselves. Let me paint the picture of this family for you: They live in a tiny, little square of a home (built on cinder blocks, of course, all houses here in Texas as built on cinder blocks). There are spider webs and spiders ALL on their ceiling (Jesse likes them because he says they keep other bugs away, but for me, it's kinda creepy because they hang RIGHT over your head as you're teaching!), cockroaches, they own about 20 dogs and cats, 7 of which live in the house. Geneva works at Whattaburger on minimum wage, while Jesse stays at home and does the domestic things because if he works, then he has to pay all of it for child support which only leaves him with $20 per paycheck afterwards. Jesse cooks and is AMAZING--their rice, beans, and homemade tortillas are the BEST that I've had here on the mission (and I get it once a week!). The family doesn't really do much. They don't have a car, but they borrow seasons of TV shows from a friend at Geneva's work. When we first came over they were into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, but now they are on season 7 of Smallville (one of my faves!). It's funny actually because I never finished season 7 or 8 of the show because things got busy and I didn't care. But of course now that I'm on the mission, Satan is trying to tempt me by thinking, "You loved Smallville! Don't you miss it?" Haha. I just ignore it. If I really want to watch it or talk about it, it'll be there when I get back.

Well, we have come by every week for the past 4 months. At first, it seemed like our efforts were futile and useless. We gave them reading assignments, made an FHE chart, taught lessons, did this, did that, but they never did any of it and never came to church. Finally, one Sunday they came to church. Then that Sunday became two! They haven't been able to consistently come every week, but their progress has been SO much better. It's hard because Brother Gonzales thinks that everyone at church judges him because he's asked SO many people for money and owes practically everyone money from when he used to lie and say it was for his girls, but when in reality it was for beer. He doesn't drink anymore, but people are still a bit skeptical. It's hard as a missionary because we have seen the change from within, but no one else wants to accept that change. Of course the week after he started coming to church with the girls, this random bond came up that he had to pay or else he'd go to jail (thanks to Satan). And he needed money. So now everyone thinks that the only reason he comes to church is to get money, then he bails and never comes again. It's not true. It hurts his feelings and he was almost ready to give up on the church. We sat and talked with him and after only 10 minutes, he realized that he needed to humble himself and that it's not about the people, it's about the church. It's not about him, it's about the girls. Now Beyonce has a baptismal date and we eat with them 3 times a week (yikes...there's only so much beans and rice a body can take. :) But I love it, it's so worth it). They love when we come and are making the necessary changes to bring their life back together. It took a while, but through our persistent, constant effort, we were able to help them START on the path that leads back to church. Beyonce is supposed to be baptized on the 14th--they wanted it to be before transfers because they don't want one of us to be gone. :) How cute. I love them so much. I'll have to send pictures soon.

Yesterday was Stake Conference in the Corpus Christi Stake. So, we got to drive down and attend the Sunday session. It was seriously the best stake conference I've ever been too and I heard that the adult Saturday evening session was 10x BETTER than Sunday. But, I'm appreciative that we even got to go. I learned SO much. My take on the Sabbath day has completely changed since I've been serving. I used to always love Sundays, but now I LOVE Sundays. I love the boost that always comes from the Spirit during church. I love the insights and the testimonies. The strength and invigoration that we get whenever we attend, actively participate in the ordinance of the sacrament, and worship our Heavenly Father. The 2 hours of the conference flew by and I took so many notes.

The Stake Presidency was reorganized and so Elder Zwick from the 70 came, along with Elder Villareal--an area 70. My Mission President and his wife also spoke. Elder Zwick's talk was inspiriting and edifying. He spoke about a ton of things, but I'll just share one of the points he shared at the end. He read Helaman 5:12 which talks about that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, which is a sure foundation, upon which we are built. Then he asked the question, "How do we build a sure foundation?" He proposed 4 things that we should all do to accomplish this:

1) Seek the Companionship of the Holy Ghost
2) Nurture your faith by DAILY scripture study and daily prayer
3) Keep the commandments
--1 John 2:3
4) Follow the Prophet
--Go and listen to the talks again from Conference. By the Conference edition of the Ensign and read and study it. Use it in your daily personal study and in your family home evenings.

I know that if we all strive to do those 4 things, that we will continue to build ourselves on that sure foundation. None of us or families are perfect, but that's what so amazing about the Gospel is that it allows each of us to learn, change, grow, and become better. It's a continual process throughout our lives. Anyone says that he's "Become" and is "All good" has been deceived. So I hope that you all go and talk about those 4 things. Talk about how the family can have better family prayer and scripture study. It's hard, trust me. But it's so worth it. The Lord never punishes us for being obedient, yet rather he is BOUND to bless us. Any time we're obedient, we receive blessings. If we want more blessings, then we need to check our obedience to the commandments and adjust and improve. I love the upward spiral that is this Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm so happy right now. About a month ago, I was on such a roller coaster emotionally. One day I was up, the next I was WAY down. It was hard, but things have smoothed out as I've rededicated myself to obedience, diligence and focused effort. I'm happiest when I'm doing what I know I'm supposed to. I'm happiest because when I'm obeying the commandments, rules, and trying my hardest, I know that Heavenly Father is proud of me and showering blessings upon me. We are always happiest when we obey Heavenly Father. If you love me, keep my commandments. That's the key to happiness in success. Not just on the mission, but in life.

Peace. Love. Beans and Rice.
Sister Burt

P.S. I'll send pictures soon! Love you all! Thanks for all your support and love!

No comments: