Monday, November 30, 2009

4 Thanksgivings and a Funeral

Hey!

So Thanksgiving came and went...we were invited to FOUR Thanksgiving dinners and it was quite insane. By the end of the first dinner we were so incredibly stuffed and not wanting to eat anymore. But, you can't really say no to the invitations (especially when investigators invite you to their dinner!), so we went and sacrificed. So, I remembered to mark down everything that I ate that day and share with all of you:

Dinner #1: Elda and Robert -- our investigators. They were SO happy that we came and kept thanking us over and over again for coming. Their whole family was there and it was just sort of a come and go affair, but Elda was super sick that morning (she's old and immobile), but she waited to eat with us. She tried to eat a little bit of potatoes, but ended up getting sick from it and going to the bathroom to throw up... :( It was sad. But Elda and Robert and Mexican, so this meal was mostly traditional, with a few unique touches. I ate:

a crescent roll, turkey, potatoes, raisin stuffing (all of those things were topped off with ridiculous amounts of gravy), sweet potatoes, some WAY over-concentrated punch, a slab of pineapple upside down cake, and this not very tasty cinnamon Mexican cooke.

Yikes. And the worst part was that they served me my plate, so it was SO much food. But we faired off pretty well. Luckily we were riding our bicycles all day to work off the food.

Dinner #2: Beeville Branch President Ramirez and Clan. This one was "cafeteria style", serve yourself (which Sis. Ramirez ALWAYS does and I LOVE because she doesn't force anything on you). So I ate way less, but still a lot because President kept bugging me to get some pie with TONs of whipped cream... So, dinner #2: a small piece of turkey and gravy, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, potatoes and pumpkin pie. IT was a super small plate though.

Dinner #3: The Gonzlaes Family. We rode our "stallions" over there (as Brother Gonzales calls them). And they were already done eating, so Brother G asks if we were a "big hungry or medium hungry." We immediately shout, "Medium hungry!" glad that he was giving us an option. We should have said, Bite-size hungry because the plates he gave us were the biggest of the day! We ate: 4 huge pieces of turkey, stuffing, corn, potatoes, yams, and coke. Yikes. As I was eating the stuffing, he mentioned something about it that it had something special in it. I could already tell that it was made with something different so I just said, "Does it have kidney and liver in it?" He smiled and said, "Yep, and lungs, heart, and gizzard too. Yippee. Actually the stuffing wasn't that bad, but while I was trying to shovel down the potatoes, my body was just so full that it didn't want to eat anymore and I had to stop my gag reflex. Too much food and this was only dinner #3.

Dinner #4: Al and Nora Yziguirre. We went over there and at turkey, gravy, potatoes, biscuit, pumpkin pie, and yams. We got to pick what we wanted to eat, but I was just not feeling it at this point. SOOO full. Our investigator Tony was supposed to come with us to dinner, but when we went by his house to ride over with him, he wasn't' there. He called us at the beginning of dinner and said that he still wanted to come with Casey--his roommate who is a recent convert. Well, we gave them the address and told them to walk/ride down Hutchinson to the east side of town. We didn't' really think he was going to come, so didn't think much of it. We later stopped by and he said that he and Casey walked ALL over town on HUNTINGTON trying to find the address... :( Miscommunication. We both felt horrible.

But we survived and were really grateful for everyone and how much they wanted to serve us. It really was a Thanksgiving to remember.

I got rear-ended the other day by this lady in her truck. I was waiting at a stop sign to turn left and she just slammed into us. It wasn't that bad, the car's not in the best shape. My next and shoulder kind of hurts, but I don't know if it's from that or if it already was hurting. Hmm...

Well, let me just tell you about Tony real fast. So Tony just got out of prison in April. He was in there for assault or some kind. Well, he was roommates with Casey while he was investigating the church. He even was praying a few months ago that God would help him find the true church, then about two weeks later the Elders came by and he would RUN away from them. Every time the Elders came by, he'd bolt and avoid them. Then he and Casey moved into our area, and Casey said, "You know, the missionaries aren't going to go away. There are girl missionaries here." He was like, "Man, I can't get away from them." We stopped by to teach Casey one of his new-member lessons and saw Tony. We had heard from the Elders that he was super flakey and illusive, but we invited him to sit down and he totally did. That was the moment that completely changed him. Ever since, he has grown to love the Book of Mormon. He says that he reads it and the Lord helps him to clearly understand his word, clearer and easier than when he reads the Bible. He has a baptismal date for the 19th and is SO prepared. It's funny because he just wasn't ready when the Elders first stopped by a few months ago, but by the time we came around, the Lord had prepared him to accept the message of the restored Gospel. He was ready, he is excited to get baptized and knows that this Gospel is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It's exciting to see that there are prepared people everywhere, it's just up to us to show our faith and find him.

Well, I'm grateful for this Gospel. Nothing brings me more happiness than learning about it, studying, and applying it my life and seeing my investigators apply it in theirs. I know that it is true and is the only way to have lasting happiness in this life and eternal happiness with God and our families in the world to come. It's hard and frustrating sometimes when no one wants to listen, but as Holland said, "Salvation never was a cheap. It never was meant to be easy." It's true, but as long as we keep following the commandments, praying, reading our scriptures, and helping others, we will be blessed and realize that the Gospel really is easy compared to all the alternatives.

Well, my companion was sick yesterday and not feeling to well right now, so I gotta go! I love you all! Thanks to everyone for all the letters I got that the family wrote me at FHE a while ago. You are all the best and I love you all so much!

Have a great week everyone! Merry Christmas!
--Sister Burt

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bowels Filled with Mercy and Compassion

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Well, transfers came and went and I'm still here in Beeville! But I'm ok with that because we have some amazing investigators who are preparing for baptism in the next few weeks, so I'm happy to be able to stay with them and help them along the way.

But Sister Bustillos got transferred to San Benito, which--according to my new companion--is the most scary, dangerous, ghetto part of the missions. Apparently, drug deals on the street in the middle of the day, gangsters, and stalkers are a common item there. I'm nervous for her because I love her so much. Plus it's a 60/40 Spanish/English area, so she will finally get the chance to use Spanish--something she didn't get to do here. But it's actually really sad that she's gone. I know that in my last email I was a bit complaining about how the "little" things were bothering us about each other. I actually feel really bad about the email I wrote you last week and I have repented of that and hope that you forgive me. That wasn't very Christlike to do at all.

But we drove down to Corpus for Transfers. My new companion--Sister Carly Jo Call--was there and actually was Sister Bustillos MTC companion. So they chatted for about 15 minutes together, while I chatter with different Elders (mostly, to our Zone Leader, Elder Jolly about the sweet game of Bang! we played the other day and how much we loved it. Haha). Anyways, when it was time for Sister Bustillos to go in the transfer van, I was so excited for her. We gave each other one more hug and then at that moment we both started getting teary eyed and she said, "I gotta go or else I'm going to cry." So she hopped on the van and I stood there with my new companion in the parking lot as the different sets of missionaries started pulling away in their cars. At that moment, I had the most intense pang in my heart. I can honestly say that it was saddest feeling I've ever had on the mission. That pain lasted the rest of the day and till the next morning during studies when I just started crying about it. What's ironic is that Sister Bustillos was SUPER homesick her entire time out--she's been out 6 months and it never really went away. While me, on the other hand, have NEVER once had one homesick feeling. I did my best to try to console her and help her, but by the last week or so, she wouldn't really confide in me because she knew I couldn't relate. Well, what's ironic is that I finally had that homesick, sad, heartbroken feeling for the first time. It's a shame that it happened after she was gone because I was finally able to know how she felt and would have had more compassion and empathy for her. It honestly felt like a breakup with her. :( But we're still best friends and will have some good times after the mission. But I learned a lot about the Atonement from this experience. Immediately as those feelings came, I thought of Alma 7:11-13 where it talks about Christ suffered all sorts of pains and afflictions, so that his bowels could be filled with compassion for us. My bowels were finally filled with compassion for Sister Bustillos, but unfortunately, a bit too late. But for each of us, it's not too late to repent and turn to the Savior. The amount of compassion that I was able to gain for my dear companion, is trivial compared to the amount that Christ has for her and for each one of us. I realized that in all things, we need to turn to our Savior, he knows us personally and individually because he literally suffered our pains. He knows to the fullest what it's like for us. Oh, how I love my Savior and wish that I could better serve Him so that his sacrifice isn't in vain. President Miller actually said it quite well in Zone Conference, "Christ didn't pay the price so that you can get halfway there, but ALL the way there."

Anyways, I have some bad news. It's a bit of a bummer actually. Last Monday night at about 10:25 I was looking at some pictures on my camera and was super tired and I accidentally pushed a weird button on the menu and it TOTALLY deleted all of my pictures. Yeah. Sad. I know. 9 months worth of pictures from the MTC and the field, around 600-800 or so. Gone. In an instant. But you know what. I actually wasn't sad about it. The Spirit really is the comforter (John 14:26) and comforted me in that moment. I have not been sad about the loss at all and I know that everything will be alright. They're just pictures after all. Luckily, Sister Bustillos was our "historian" for the past 4 months and she'd just take the pictures on her camera and then transfer them to mine. So we did that and I got about 400 random ones from my time in Beeville. Also, I've email and sent some home, so I'll just be able to scan those in back home. Also, when all my companions from the MTC and feild come home from their missions, I can just yoink their pictures. So not a total loss. But I was almost done with that memory card and was ready to retire it and put the full on in my suitcase. Oh well...

So Beeville is good. Sister Wagner, a lady in the branch, actually said a good description about this area. She has lived ALL over the US and yesterday said, "You know, I've lived everywhere, and NEVER have I lived in a place where people are so devoted to their religions, where there are SO many churches, and also where there is so much focus and controversy about religion. Only here in Beeville." Yep, that pretty much explains my area right there.

Now onto the investigators: Leandra is doing well. She reset her Baptismal date and we have her on a no smoking plan. We actually stopped by and taught her a lesson this morning after we went shopping because she works crazy hours all week and it was really the only time we'd be able to see her and teach her a legitimate lesson without all her crazy little ones running around. Her children sang in the primary program a few weeks ago, her first Sunday coming and they sang. It was cute. She has a son named Christopher who is ADHD to the max! and he is always running around in circles when we visit them. We were teaching Belle, one of the daughters, and started by singing her favorite song, "I am a Child of God." At this point, Christopher was running around, screaming, being his crazy usual self. But once we started singing, the most curious thing happened. The instant her heard the words, he jumped on the couch, sat as straight as he could, and then started singing the song. It was like he was a little robot. But instantly after the song ended, he jumped up and started being a little hooligan again as if nothing happened. Leandra later told us how that really touched her. How since he'd been to church, the Spirit touched him and he was able to recognize it and sit down and sing the song. It shocked me as well, but really was a testimony builder for me that what we teach our children, even if it seems hopeless and like a waste of time, really does touch their hearts. They learn because the Spirit talks to them too.

Anyways, my time is up. I'll write more about Sister Call next week because seriously, she's a studette. I love her so much and we're already getting along SO great. Oh and pray for me. So far, we already have 3 dinner invites for Thanksgiving. I don't know how I'm going to do it. Last Thanksgiving I didn't have an appetite at all and it was the best. This time...it won't be the case.

Love you all!
Sister Burt

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You've never had over-easy eggs?!

Hey!

Today is one of the last days of this transfer! Sister Bustillos and I have been together 3 full transfers and are predicting that at least one of us is going to get transferred on Wednesday. We actually both hope that it happens because we both need a change. We are amazing friends and get along great, but we're getting REALLY irritating with each other right now. The little things are starting to get in the way. We're like best friends who spend 24/7 with each other and then just can't handle any more of each other (I can testify that that's true because that happened to me and Alex a few years back. After years and years of being constantly together, we just needed a BREAK!). Sister Bustillos and I are open and both recognize it. But, we;ll see what happens.

OH! Before I forget, it was brought to my attention by Brother Gonzales (who was informed by his sister) that the two dogs in "All Dogs Go to Heaven" are named Charlie and Itchy--not Charlie and Spike. Ooops. I still think it's funny. It's the thought that counts.

Anyways, I haven't done one of these in a while, but I have a few more "You Know You're a Missionary When..." moments. You know you're a missionary when...
--You start recognizing duplicate articles, pictures, and quotes from the Ensign.
--When you start thinking boys/men in the Ensign are attractive...

Anyways, Beeville is great! Crazy small town though. We were talking to a girl the other day about high school things and she says about 30 of the girls there are pregnant! Also, the JUNIOR HIGH just recently built a day care for all the kids that the junior highers have. SO sad! I couldn't believe it. I'm grateful for the law of chastity and members of the church that live it. It really does save us from a lot of trouble and pain. Poor Beeville girls! We actually were teaching a women whose 13 year old daughter was pregnant.


We had a baptism this week of Beyonce Gonzales! She was so excited and looked so cute in her little white baptismal gown. Sister Bustillos says that her mom was even crying when she was helping her get ready. It was really tender to be able to see the family, which a few months ago wanted nothing to do with the church, to work together to prepare Beyonce for her baptism. Then to see the whole family together at the church and so proud of her. The majority of the ward showed up and some investigators. The Elders even said that it was the best baptism that they had ever been to. The Spirit was really strong. After she was baptized, we watched the last 10 minutes of "The Testaments"--the part where Jesus comes and ministers to the people in the Americas. We had never shown that before at a baptism and it was the PERFECT choice! The Spirit was so strong and you could hear some people crying.

What was really cool was that this past week (before the baptism), Sister Bustillos and I gave the family this cool "The Living Christ" picture/picture frame that. The LOVED it and the next day, they had re-arranged all their furniture, put the picture on the wall, and also got out the Family Proclamation and other pictures of Christ that they had. They put ALL of them on the wall, along with pictures of the girls. It was really cool to see that at the center of this wall was Christ. Actually, whole wall was about Christ. It took our breath away when we walked in the next day and saw it. We love this family and I'm going to be so sad the day I leave them.

Update on Leandra: we went by and talked to her about her baptism. We asked her about it and she says that she just doesn't feel ready to be baptized. She doesn't want to get baptized and then go the next day and sin by smoking, lusting after another man, etc. She has a good point. Obviously if that happens, it's not true repentance. She's having marital problems with her husband right now and she loves him, but ...eh..I'm not quite sure what's going on with that whole situation. Every time we visit, he gets warmer and warmer to us, so I think one day he'll sit down and listen. Leandra has a good point because one of her adopted (but not really) sons, joined the church a few weeks ago and I guess he started smoking again, hasn't really changed his old ways. She says to us that HE should be the example to her, but knows that he is not. She doesn't want what happened to him, to happen to her. I asked her if she didn't know that the church was true and she responded, "Oh, I know it's true. I know 100% that it's true." But she just isn't quite ready to be baptized yet until she completely quits smoking. It's sad, but she loves us and still has us come over and teach her. I think that she will get baptized in December or early January. But Sister Bustillos is a SUPER picky eater and had never had over-easy eggs (don't ask me how we got on that subject with Leandra), so Leandra invited us over one morning at 11:00 for breakfast. We thought she was just going to make us the eggs. Not only did she have eggs, but she also had donuts, bacon, pancakes, and juice. It was crazy, but SO good. Now do you wonder why missionaries gain weight on their missions? Yeah. She knew that we ate dinner with the Gonzales family (who live just down the street) and asked us how much. We said three times a week because we were preparing Beyonce for her baptism. Leandra then says, "Oh, well, I would feed you more, but..." it was so funny. She felt like she had to one up them in some way. Now she wants to feed us all the time...yikes. Luckily, we just have breakfast/brunch once a week. Hopefully it stays that way.

We had an investigator, Israel, come to church. Israel is an old Mexican man who is 74-years-old. He is an old pal with President Ramirez, the branch president. PR has come with us to a few of his lessons which really helps. Anyways, we taught him a few weeks ago and then stopped by this week. We tried to re-energize him about studying with us and learning more about the true church. We were sitting on this old van seat teaching him, while he was lounging on the concrete in his garage. He's so old and animated. We love it. He ALWAYS comments about my eyes, which is weird because Sister Bustillos has these unique green/hazel colored eyes and EVEYRONE always comments about her eyes. But he always says stuff about mine. He has no guile, "You have very beautiful eyes, Sister Burt. Oh...and you too Sister Castillos (he can't remember her name). But they're not as pretty as hers." Haha. Also while we were talking to him that day, he randomly says, "You two make a perfect combination, you" (pointing to Sister Bustillos) "are black. And she is white." HAHAHAHA, we both started dying. Sister Bustillos is Mexican. Definitely not black. But she says she used to get that a LOT back home when because she LIVED at the beach, loved getting tan, has big lips, hips, and a booty. So yeah, it was funny though. Anyways, we hadn't seen him for a while and then Saturday night we decided to call him and he said, "I don't believe in this book. Where does it say apostles in the Bible! If I don't read it, I won't believe it." When I was talking to him, I was rolling my eyes. I told him that we'd be right over. So we called PR and he and his wife came over. We taught an awesome lesson (in mostly Spanish) and cleared up a lot of doubts and concerns. His main thing is that he used to follow this "apostle" in Mexico for 9 years and would cut their lawn for free, but then when he had a stroke and went blind (he's not blind anymore), the church wouldn't talk to him or help him out. So, he's a bit weary about prophets and apostles, but by the end, we settled his doubts and committed him to come to church (and his wife who usually NEVER listens to us). And then, come Sunday, he CAME! It was great! If we hadn't had made the decision to see him right then and there Saturday night, he never would have come. Now the main obstacle is that after church he said that "he didn't learn anything." Well, that's kind of expected when you walk in 5 minutes before Sacrament ends and are HARD of hearing. But we're working on that. :)

Anyways, things are going well. I don't have much to say this week. I'm excited for transfers but ready for a change. So we'll see if it comes. If not, then apparently I still have a LOT to learn.

I love you all!
Love,
Sister Burt

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

All Dog's Go to Heaven

Hey Everyone,

I got your package mom! Wow, that was really unexpected, yet I really appreciate it. Those were the things that I asked for a few months ago, but I just assumed you forgot. It wasn't a big deal, but lucky for me, I have the best mom in the world! (Poor Sister Bustillos has been asking her mom to send her some makeup and other essentially things since July and her mom still hasn't sent them :( ). Anyways, that's super exciting about Quinn and Claire. I never met her, but I remember you telling me that he was waiting for her and being super faithful by not dating any other girls because "that's not fair to Claire." SO cute. Tell them congratulations! It's funny because I told that story to Sister Bustillos (we know everything about each other's lives: all our friends, neighbors, hobbies, stories, etc. You get pretty close on the mission). When is the date for the wedding? I'm jealous. I want to go to Hong Kong! Lucky them!

This week has been really great! Beyonce Gonzales is getting baptized this week, so they're excited for that. We still eat dinner and teach at their house 3 times a week. It's been fun. This Saturday, they made chicken salads (which is as FIRST) for my companion because she is--according to Bro. Gonzales--a Veggie-saurus. We also got introduced to the rat that they have living in the walls of their house--his name is Ben and he's bigger than their cats. I didn't believe it at first, but it's true! The thing is huge and nasty. They also have these two dogs (of the many) named Charlie and Spike. Spike is a small little mutt with black and white spots and Charlie is a golden retriever. They are named after the main characters in the movie "All Dogs Go to Heaven." Haha, I loved that because I love Don Bluth movies and that one is a classic. But what's funny about Charlie and Spike is that they are outside dogs and like to follow us around. Sometimes we'll be tracting at night (it gets dark at 6:30 now...which is quite lame because no one lets us in now!), and Charlie and Spike will follow us and be our guard dogs. It's hilarious. They even followed us all the way to Tony's house a few blocks down and sat on the ground as we taught him a lesson on his patio. Good dogs.

We had to drop our blind investigator Pancho. All he did was drink, smoke, and complain and didn't have the faith to get up for church or do ANYTHING for that matter. He frequently told us that he's fed up with being blind and wants to just throw himself in the street and die. It's sad, but our time is precious as missionaries.

We have a different Mexican man named Moe Garcia who we are teaching. He works as a cleaner for this rich lady in this random street in north Beeville that has like the only 10 NICE homes in town. We contacted him as he was working on detailing his truck (the red leather on the inside was old and gross and he was putting new red leather polish on it). We shared the Joseph Smith story and he was in awe! "I've never heard that before." He thanked us for much for teaching him something new about God. We came back later and gave him a Book of Mormon and he loved it! When we call or stop by, he always tells us how he's been reading "that book that you gave me." One time when we called, he was so excited to tell us that he read the testimony of the 3 witnesses (he repeated it about three times) and also the testimony of Joseph Smith ("Joseph Smith. He was praying in his bed and an angel in a white robe appeared." He mentioned the white robe about three times as well, haha). Actually, we were tracting on that nice street a few weeks ago and started talking to this lady at her door. As we were talking to her (not interested), we saw this man walk by. He turned around and stared through the windows at us. We assumed it was her husband, but then we recognized it as Moe and he waved. Later he told us, "When I saw you at my boss's house, I jumped for joy to see my friends." He's so cute. He calls us his friends and always calls us at night saying, "I'm just so worried about you. You walk all day long and are tired. I'm just worried. Go home so you'll be ok." Anyways, he's cool, but hasn't been able to come to church yet. Next week will be the clutch moment for him because if he doesn't show his faith and come to church, there's really not much more we can do. Although, he does say that he knows our church is true because we have the Book of Mormon and that he actually learns things when we teach rather than when he goes to the Catholic Church. So, there's hope.

Ok, onto Leandra. I mentioned her last week and she's super awesome! We taught her the Word of Wisdom and we were nervous because she is a hard-core smoker. But she accepted it and wants to quit. The next day, she called us in the morning saying that she got the day off and wanted us to come over as soon as possible. So we went over and she was chewing gum and sunflower seeds and said that it's been hard, but she really wants to do it. She even passed up tea when he husband bought her some at the store and called him a heathen for buying that. We taught her one day about the Gospel and in the middle of it, she stopped us and asked what was going to happen to her mom, dad, and 3 nieces (who died in a car accident a few years ago). She then asked us what she had to do to go to the temple to be baptized for them. We taught an awesome lesson about temples and that just a few weeks after she is baptized, she will be able to go and do their work. She understood and accepted it. During that lesson, RIGHT as we were about to extend a baptismal invitation to her, her phone rang and it was her work calling her in. So she picked up and left. Another time, Sister Bustillos was in the middle of saying, "Would you be baptized?" when the TV in the other room, randomly turned on really loudly and drained the Spirit. It was sad. Another time we were teaching her kids and she asked us how many times she needed to come to church before she could be baptized? I was oblivious and told her the answer and then went back to teaching the kids! Haha, I was so out of it that I didn't even think to set a date with her right then. SO...FINALLY, after a few lessons of her saying, "So when I'm baptized, I'm going to..." we got the hint and set a formal date with her. Haha, Satan REALLY didn't want her to accept it because she's so awesome and also, we were a bit oblivious to the times when we should have asked her. We also set a date with her 9-year-old daughter. It should be November 28th, but since then she has expressed some doubts and concerns and isn't so sure she is going to be baptized. We haven't had the chance to sit down and talk to her about those (the way we found out was from the daughter who told us, "My mom isn't getting baptized anymore." WHAT?!). But she went to church this Sunday with all her kids and supposedly loved it. We should visit her tomorrow, so pray that all goes well because we love this family so much.

I'm learning a lot about how the Lord prepares people. You can't force the Gospel on them. If they aren't ready, they aren't ready. They only can be when the Spirit has been able to enter unto their heart and they accept it. Sometimes contacts are frustrating because we try to force and convince people of the truthfulness of this Gospel. But like the apostle Paul, he didn't speak with eloquent words, but with the Holy Ghost--as should we. We haven't been able to get into doors this week (we only had one new investigator and normally we have anywhere from 8-10 per week), but I'm not complaining because the investigators that we do have are amazing and progressing. I'd rather have 5 progressing investigators than 100 duds who don't do anything. I love that when we talk to people, we are just giving them a choice to use their agency. It's hard when you see a cute family or a struggling one and know that the Gospel can and will help them, yet they shut the door, ignore you, or say that they "are good." It's sad, but it's all part of Heavenly Father's plan. We are free to choose. As members of the church and missionaries, we are also free to choose how much of the Spirit we get. The Spirit doesn't have agency, but rather lives by celestial laws. If we do things that make us more worthy of the Spirit, we are immediately blessed with more of it. WE DECIDE how much of it we want. I learned this concept a few months ago when Elder Neilsen came to Zone Conference and it has resided with me still. If I want more Spirit, then I need to step it up and do more of the things that I know invite it: more scripture study, more family prayer, better prayers, nicer thoughts, kinder actions, more charity. It is possible and I hope that everyone this week, strive to do more things to make the Spirit a stronger presence in their lives. I know this is true and I know that the more Spirit we have, the clearer our picture, focus, and destination becomes.

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love,
Sister Burt

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pictures Finally

Us at Zone Conference in Sept.
Us with the Gonzales girls
We painted this sign for service. So cute.
At Stake Conference in Corpus

Us after a rain storm.
We also painted this GIANT tree inside of the Kids Kottage. THey have a Tinkerbell Play room, so we made it more fun. Not bad considering we just used random paint they had lying around. I'll send you the finished project!
Missionary Gieshas for Halloween
Us on Halloween. Too bad we had to stay inside! Oh well.
Me. I made my costume using a Halloween cloak the Elders gave us, and random ties for the kimono belt.
Leandra's daughter stole our camera while we were teaching and took this picture of us.


After those Amish!

Buenos Familia,

Ok, thanks for the Halloween card you sent a while ago! You're the best. And thanks for the dresses. Unfortunately they are too short for missionary work. I wore the black one to Stake Conference and felt a bit self-conscience because it was too short for a Sister. Oh well, if I got a lacy petticoat thing to go underneath it to make it longer, it would work, but I don't have time for that. Oh and Sister Bustillos wants me to RE-ask Steve if he knows her friend Allison Thacker who served in Poland the same time as he.

Ok, to first answer Mom's question that I have answered a billion times since I've been up here. No, we don't speak nearly any Spanish at all up here in Beeville. Sorry, that's just the way it's going to be. Although, we do meet a random Spanish speaker here every once in a while, although it's nothing much. We have a return appointment with a man named Jesus tonight, but that's honestly the first Spanish person we will have taught in months.

But hey, I may not be speaking much Spanish, right now but I might have to start sprucing up my Chinese! We got a referral from Salt Lake the other day and it was in Cantonese. His name is Wilbert Wong. We dropped by his place and the first time he wasn't there. His 90 year-old-mom answered the door and started speaking in Chinese and we didn't understand. All we kept saying was, "Wilbert Wong? Wilbert Wong?" She shook her head and waggled her finger at us and just slammed the door. Ok. We'll try again. And try we did. We weren't back and Wilbert was weed whacking his yard. We tried to have a conversation but he speaks very little English--which is a bummer because from the referral, he spoke to some Sister at Temple Square and is really interested in prophets. Unfortunately, the language barrier is putting teaching him to a stop. We're getting a Cantonese Book of Mormon and will just have to drop it by his house. That's honestly the best we can do right now.

We're teaching this awesome lady, Leandra, and her children. We come over in the day when the kids are at school and teach Leandra and then come back later to just teach the kids. She loves it SO much and KNOWs that what we are teaching her is true. She asks us so many questions and the answers we give are the ones she wants because the Spirit is telling her that they are true. But we were teaching the Plan of Salvation to the kids the other day and just got done talking about the Spirit World--prison versus paradise. We said that good people go to paradise and immediately one of the little girls says, "So does that mean that Michael Jackson will be there?" Um...no honey. It was funny. I really don't get the OBSESSION everyone (even TONS of little kids, especially this family) has about Michael Jackson right now. I mean, I know he died and such, but I guess I'm just so out of the loop that it doesn't mean much to me. But Sister Bustillos and I laughed about that, because it isn't the first time Michael Jackson has been brought up in a lesson. Haha.
We're still teaching the Gonzales family and their progress has been amazing. Even this last week, Geneva (the mom who purposely works on Sunday and doesn't believe in the church anymore) came to church (grudgingly because he husband couldn't), but at the end, she LOVED it. She told us later that night that she felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She felt better and knew that it was right. She even told Jesse--her husband--that she was going to get Sundays off from now on. That was one of the original ideas that we had when we thought about setting a baptismal date with their youngest--that through Beyonce learning and progressing in the Gospel, that Geneva would regain her testimony. It's been a long process, but it's happening and we're SO excited for them.

Oh so funny story. Last week, Sister Bustillos and I were working a street. I was knocking a door and heard some little kids inside singing "Beat it!" at the top of their lungs--obviously Guitar Hero. They were so loud that they couldn't hear the door, but the next thing I know, Sister Bustillos is running away saying, "Sister! The Amish!" We've had a few Amish sightings here in Beeville, but they're never in town. So I turn around and BARELY see this woman and another child in long dresses turn the corner...3 blocks away! She we start booking it because we've always wanted to teach the Amish. Of course, Sister Bustillos and I were sharing a bag of peanut butter M&Ms at the time and so we just shoved them into our mouth and ran as fast as we could. Imagine the sight: mouths full of M&Ms, trying our best to run, but struggling because our side bags are swinging all over the place. Then, Sister Bustillos starts laughing as we're running because I had this nasty wad of chocolate in my mouth and just spit it out. So we run and run and pass this house and almost get the corner. As we pass the house we both look to our left and there we see them....10 Amish people standing in the middle of the yard. We do a double take then we stop abruptly and act as though we always run randomly in the middle of the road. Then we try to play it cool and walk up to the mom and start talking. It was this Amish mom and her 9 kids. The oldest was 14, but most of them were youngin's. They were all dressed up in homemade Amish attire and were all so cute as they were playing around and jumping all over. One of the little boys had the bluest eyes, blond hair and seriously looked like a little Joseph Smith (suspenders and all!). We start talking and turns out that they just moved to town. We didn't really understand much why they were Amish, but living in town, carrying a cell phone, driving a car, etc. We told them we'd come back when their white van was there because that would mean the father was home.

Well, we went back yesterday and were so pumped to teach them because we talked about eternal families and gave them a Restoration pamphlet. The husband answered the door and immediately invited us inside. Turns out that they aren't really Amish anymore, but they "read the Bible a bit too closely" and as a result were kicked out of the community. They now live in town and still sort of live and dress the Amish way, but not really. But he is such a hard core, staunch Bible reader, that if you don't follow everything in the Bible, then he won't listen. For example, in the Bible is says that women should not wear jewelry, women should have plaited hair, or women shouldn't teach in church. We told him that women do teach in church and explained about apostasy and the Joseph Smith translation, but whenever we would say that, he would say that we are then "adding" to the Bible. Oh well, we tried and testified all that we could, but in the end, his heart just wasn't completely open. We quickly move on and find other investigators.

Halloween was a bit lame, we went in at 6 pm. Dressed up like Japanese Geishas and played BANG! with the Elders in the stairwell of our apartment. But, it was the first time I've been able to have time to play BANG or ANY game on my mission, it was fun.

But last week we had an AMAZING week. I know it is because of our focus on being diligent in all aspects--THOUGHT and actions. The Lord blessed us so much and I know this church is God's true and living church.

Love you all!
Sister Burt