Monday, October 5, 2009

The Lord Blessed Us This Week!

Hello Everyone!

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I totally remembered last week after I wrote the email, but by that point, I couldn't get back online or go to the store to buy a card. But I'm glad to hear that it was a good one!

Wow, Conference was so amazing! I'm so glad to hear about the FHE you did in preparation for conference. Preparation is such a huge key to the Gospel--in all aspects. As we come prepared, having put what seems at time just a little bit of extra effort, we are able to reap great results. Conference was definitely this way for me. I prepared myself and really focused on the questions I wanted answered. And--as usual--they were all answered in one way or another. It was SO awesome because a few weeks ago we had Elder Brent Neilson and his wife tour the mission and we were so stoked when he got up and spoke. He's so dynamic and awesome in person. It's interesting because we had a lot of 70s speak at the MTC and the way they speak and teach there--versus at conference--is completely different. From the ones that I've met, they are all upbeat, dynamic men. Most of them are great orators and hilarious. Conference really forces them to turn off their "funny side" I guess, but yeah, I have a greater love, appreciation, and amazement for members of the 70 since I've been here on my mission.

Anyways, we've had an amazing week this week. Transfers are Wednesday, so I have no clue if I'm actually going to still be here in Beeville. I hope so because of the recent developments with investigators, but you never know...SO, if you send anything to me this week, send it to the MISSION OFFICE address, rather than the Beeville one.

We have an investigator named Ashley. She's 18 and has as 2 year-old son. He is such a cutie, but super shy. He always runs into the other room whenever we come and quietly plays in there by himself until we come leave. But she's Catholic and let us come in. It was the worst door contact I think I've ever done. I think it went something like this, "Hey, we're..missionaries..from. Um, we talk about Jesus Christ. And, have you ever talked to missionaries like us? Yeah, well, we...um, uh." Haha, seriously, I can't even do it justice about how bad it was. But she was super cool and let us in. We talked BRIEFLY for about 15 minutes, set a return appointment and then came back. On about our third visit, we asked her if she had prayed to know if what we were teaching her was true. She said that she didn't have to pray because after every single time we leave, she just is left with a feeling that she knows it's true. Sweet--although, we would like her to actually pray to confirm that feeling that she has. Then she says, "Yeah, I've actually learned so much more from just your little visits, than I have my entire life in the Catholic church." It was an awesome thing to hear. The Gospel really does have ALL the answers. People just assume that--Hey, my religion has most of the answers, but not all. Well...good enough. Not true. I love meeting with her. She always reads and love the Book of Mormon. It's neat to see how it changes people's lives so quickly.

In that same apartment complex, we were knocking doors and came across this old man. I started talking to him when Sister Bustillos whispered to me, "Sister...he's a member..." Oh...yes he is. So we start talking to him and then ask if there's anyone we could go visit. He says, "Yeah, my son, Sid." Then he point across the way to some other apartments and we all turn our heads to look and at those apartments, Sid and his friend were poking their head out of the door looking at us (apparently, they had seen through the window that someone was talking to his dad and then they looked outside the door to get a better look). We walked over to Sid's apartment and started talking. He said that he wanted a Book of Mormon. We pulled one out of our bag and gave it to him. He's actually a member: he was baptized when he was about 10, when his dad was, but soon went inactive. He says that since his dad has been coming back to church, he's really had the desire to start coming back as well. We started meeting with him once a week and he started coming back to church. He actually, even went out with the Elders 3 days in a row and LOVED IT. At our last visit with him, he went off about how much he loved doing missionary work. How he loved teaching and how he loves the Book of Mormon. At one of our very first visits, he said the prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for the Book of Mormon. "Just having it here in my hands again, I can feel the power and I know that it is true." Well, at this last visit, he told us that he is so grateful for us for bringing him back to church. He no longer feels like he is just waking up, living day to day. But instead he has a purpose and direction, he's happy, and less angry. He's more able to forgive his biological father (a different guy) for the numerous times that he has let him down. He also said that he has really really been thinking about a mission. He's been praying about. He said that he woke up in the middle of the night and knew what his answer was: he needs to go because God wants him too. He was really sentimental about it and is so excited. He wants to turn in his papers January 1. It's interesting. I never thought my mission would be focused on bringing people back into the church, but here in Beeville, that's been a lot of what we have been doing. At first it was disappointing because we weren't finding new people to teach and baptize. But in that very moment where Sid was bearing his testimony to us, it made it all worth it. Just in 3 weeks, I've seen the changes in him: changes in the way he prays, talks, his ear studs have come out, his appearance is neater and cleaner, his countenance is brighter. It's really exciting.

Ok, last story. This one is really cool. We were teaching a lady and her daughter in Normana--a little town (if you could call it that, I think it has 2 streets) just north of Beeville. We decided that since we were already outside of the city, we would just drive up to Pettus and tract there. We've been here nearly 3 months and have never been to Pettus. It's a little bigger than Normana (maybe 6 streets) and it has a Dairy Queen. Yeah...it's a big deal. So we only had about an hour before our next appointment, so we decided to tract off one of the main roads. It was the middle of the day and no one was home. Finally, we finished the street and were walking back to our car. We noticed a house across the street that we missed. I personally like "checking things off the list" and didn't feel that we could check that street off until we finished the last one. So we did. The woman instantly let us in. Her name is Diann and has 7 kids--6 that live with her--and recently had a death of a close fried. We gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and scheduled to come back Friday at 5.

We came back Friday and all 6 of her kids were home. We started talking a bit and assumed that the kids would keep playing and doing whatever they were doing. But instead, all of the kids sat around and wanted to listen. We asked if she read the pamphlet and she said that she read it as soon as we left. She also reread it when she was waiting to pick up her kids from school later that day. While rereading it, she got a call from her daughter who lives in Jackson, TX (west Texas). Her daughter told her that some missionaries had just stopped by her house a little while earlier and gave her a pamphlet. "Really?", Diann said, "Does it have a picture of Christ coming out of the tomb?" Her daughter confirmed that it did and they even started reading parts of it together. It was the SAME pamphlet! The missionaries also set up a return appointment, but the daughter's was for Friday at 6. Diann was so amazed at this (and so were we). God really really wanted her--and her ENTIRE family, including the daughter who doesn't even live with her--to find the Gospel. We taught an amazing lesson to the whole family (expect the dad, he was working) and the kids were so smart and involved. They LOVED it. We sang "I am a Child of God" at the end and everyone was so quiet and attentively listening. Her 10-year-old son Brandon was especially interested Right before we left, the mom said, "You know. We never shut our doors to any religions or missionaries. We've had missionaries from other religions come into the home and teach us the word of God. But Brandon never like any of them and never had a good feeling about them. So, I had to call them up and tell them that they couldn't come back. But Brandon loved it. He's my most skeptical and the fact that he wants you to come back means that you have something really special." Wow. We left that lesson in awe. A family that was prepared to receive the Gospel. We are going to teach them on Tuesday and we're really excited. The best part of the whole lesson was teaching it to the kids. Children really do love God and want to understand. The 15-year-old kept saying, "We lived with God before? I never know that. I like knowing that."

This Church is true. Conference was amazing! I'm so grateful for the opportunity to preach the Gospel and to tell everyone that I know about the Restoration. I hope that you continue to read and ponder the talks that were given; that prophetic counsel is what the Lord wants for us to focus on these next 6 months. I love you all so much and appreciative of all that you do for me. If I can ever do anything for any of you (even though I'm a missionary and super far away), let me know and I will do it!

Con muchisimo amor!
Hermana Burt

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