Monday, December 28, 2009

This Email is a Roller Coaster Ride


First off, I'm typing this on kind of a funky keyboard, so excuse typos and errors. Secondly, from a lot of past missionary emails that I've read after Christmas, they usually say, "Wow, it was great talking to you guys last week and I really don't have anything else to say or add." Is that the case for me? Nope! I have TONS to write about, so "off we go!"

Well, like I mentioned on the phone, Christmas wasn't as fruitful as I had expected. No one was really interested in talking to us. We felt like Mary and Joseph looking for an inn, yet there was no room available anywhere. It was sad because we told everyone that we were sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a wonderful Christmas message, since he is the reason for the season. Yet, despite this, we still received chilly responses and door slams. It really made me ponder on how Mary and Joseph felt. Mary was the chosen vessel to provide the world with a Savior, the most important guest of all we would ever have here on earth. It must have been disheartening for her to be shut out, again and again, knowing that she held within her womb. I gained a greater appreciation this Christmas season for Mary and Joseph and how they endured trials and rejection.

We decided to go outside of Beeville this week and work some more rural areas of our area. Country roads are always a treat. You get the crazy farmers who moved to the country because they don't like people, so they don't really want to talk to you even though you just walked a half mile up their drive way to get to their house. Haha, but it's the life, we've have some marginal success on country roads in the past and it was long overdue for another visit. One one of the roads, we saw a pasture with horses and since people were rejecting us like crazy, we stopped for a second to pet the horses. I had to climb through this pokey bush to get close enough to the fence to pet it, but I managed. The horses weren't that exciting, so after 15 seconds, we went back to work. Well the next day, I had all these strange scratches on my hand, that are actually still there now. Turns out the bush must have been some sort of poisonous variety. That's what I get for wasting the Lord's time, I suppose.

On another country road, we started walking and about a quarter of a mile down, we met this little black, shaggy, dirty Shih-Tzu. He was so cute and it was quite strange to see a breed like this as a stray. The most popular dogs here in South Texas--without fail are--1) Chihuahua's 2) Boxers 3) Pitbulls 4) Dachshund's. Then of course, a mix containing any of those four are also common. I've never actually seen a Shih-Tzu on my mission, so it was weird. We kept walking and this little dog just followed us. He followed us and followed us. It was hilarious because this road had an influx of dogs not penned up and throughout the three hours that we were working that street, a total of 11 dogs and 1 cat were caravaning behind us at one point or another. I think the largest number of critters we had were 6 or 7. Well, Sprinkles--because that's the name I decided to call her--followed us the ENTIRE time. We must have walked 2-3 miles total and I felt so bad for her little paws. It reminded me of when we'd take Louie for a walk and he's so lazy, that even a walk around the block is a painful situation for him which requires a 2 week recovery. We would just refer to the dog as Sprinkles and eventually the dog recognized it's name. Haha, it was cute. Then random these other two white stray Shih-Tzus started following us. When we got back to our car, we felt so bad for the dog that we wanted to take her home, wash her and take her to a shelter. But we knew that we couldn't do that, so we just got in our car and drove home. That's when the saddest part of the tale happened, Sprinkles started chasing after our car wanting to come with us. I looked at Sister Call and we were both teary eyed. Seriously, it was semi ridiculous because we were both crying because we had gotten so attached to the little guy. I started crying even more because I was laughing at the fact that we were crying about the whole thing--laughing so hard that I was crying because I was laughing, but laughing because I was crying. We both started laughing, yet still we are sad. Oh well, I hope she had a home or found one.

Well, I sort of mentioned this to Steve, but we lost two of our investigators because of church! It was so sad because they were SO cool and loved what we were teaching them, but when they went to church, they both had a bad experience (because the Beeville Branch is a little crazy and does what they want, let's be honest), that they dropped us. In case you were wondering, Washington dropped us for that very reason too--well, there were tons of other reasons: depression, addicted to alcohol, doubts...but all in all, it was a good situation for him. But Sister Call and I were a little sad about everything because Church is supposed to be the thing that "gets them." The thing that they love, where they can feel the Spirit the strongest and gain a testimony about this church. But, we prayed that more investigators would come and have a good time.

Well, that leads me right into my next story about Charlie and Connie. This is an old--73 and 70-years-old, respectively--couple whom we met about a week ago. We set a return appointment with Charlie, who was fairly interested. We came back and his wife (Conception, or Connie for short) answered the door and said that they didn't have time, nor had Charlie read the pamphlet we gave him. We set another appointment for last Monday night. We drove there on Monday and sat in our car for a bit. "Do you want to go here?" I asked. "Not really," Sister Call said. I replied, "Yeah, I just feel like it will be a waste of time. They are old and I don't think they'll even be there, even remembered our appointment, or will even care." We were getting ready to go drive away and go somewhere else when I finally said, "No, I think we should go. Heavenly Father put this return appointment in our path, we need to just go no matter what will happen or if we get rejected. Jesus wouldn't miss his appointments." Haha, so with that, we got out and knocked on the door. To our surprise, they both answered the door and were waiting for us. We were actually a half our later and they said, "We thought you wouldn't come." We felt so surprised and shocked that they were waiting. We got to know them a bit: they are an old Catholic couple, but they don't go anymore. Charlie is hard of hearing because he had a stroke a few years ago, so he sits really close to us with his good ear facing us (and he has a constant buzz in the other one). They have 6 kids, all whom were born 5 years apart from each other. They have a family picture taken a few decades back with them and their last three children whom they refer to as "the second crop." They read part of the pamphlet and we talked about parts of it and also just about the Book of Mormon. That's all we taught, Book of Mormon: we explained it, read a scripture with them, and left them the introduction to read. Honestly, we didn't expect them to read very much--or where quite sure they understood completely about it or about our purpose--so the intro was a good place to start. After the lesson, we got back into our car and were so shocked at what had just taken place. They were so open, nice, and interested. Imagine what would have happened if we hadn't gone to our appointment? :(

Well, we came back two days later and Connie warmly greeted us. The book of Mormon was lying on the table, a sign of obviously having read it. She grabbed it and put it on her lap. We sang a Christmas song (where she joined us), said a prayer, then began discussing what she had learned from reading the intro. "Well, I didn't get to read much." We assumed that she just got the chance to read a few paragraphs. But then she started telling us blow by blow what she had read. It all added up until she started talking about Joseph Smith seeing angel Moroni and receiving the plates. Ok, clearly she read all of the intro and then proceeded into the testimonies of the 3 and 8 witness, and Jospeh Smith. Wow. But then she started talking about Nephi and his family. Her "I just read a little" wasn't referring to the introduction, but rather the entire book! She read into the first few chapters of 1st Nephi and LOVED it! Charlie can't read small letters very well, so he didn't get to read it, but they decided to go to the Optometrist to get him a new prescription so that he could read it. We were shocked. We then taught them about the Restoration, how God has always called prophets as part of his ancient order and how we need prophets today. We asked Connie, "Do you think it would be important to have a prophet today?" She said, "Oh yes! We need a prophet today. We are so wicked in this world. You know what I just watched on the Mexican news? In Mexico City, they just passed a law allowing gay marriage. You could see two men on the TV kissing and embracing each other. It was disgusting. It's Sodom and Gomorrah!" Ok, awesome. She definitely understood the need for a prophet today and accepted that God has called another one. After the lesson, we were so excited.

We taught them Saturday night and were planning on teaching them the Plan of Salvation. We brought Lorenzo Gonzales with us--the old man whom I love so much--and it turns out that he and Charlie are old friends! Lorenzo knows or is related to everyone in Beeville (having lived there his whole life), so he's a great fellowshipper. The entire time, he and Charlie were chatting up a storm and so it was hard for us to teach a lesson because apparently it had been a while since they saw each other last. But while they were talking, we talked to just Connie about 3 Nephi 11 which we left her. She LOVED it and, of course, read more than what was assigned. She told us that when she was in the Catholic church, she would read the things that they gave her and pray about it to know if it's true, but she wouldn't feel a thing. But she told us that when she reads the Book of Mormon, or prays about it, her hear starts racing and she KNOWS it's true. She calls it the "lost books" from other tribes; she explained to us that she recognizes this as a true record written by another people about Jesus Christ. They ate up all that we taught them and accepted a Baptismal date for January 30th! Lorenzo was awesome and invited them to come to church the next day. They were both impressed that Lorenzo was a member and was baptized a year ago. They agreed to go.

The next morning, we got to church and saw that their red Expedition was in the parking lot. "Oh no, they're already there. I hope they feel welcome inside." We got out of our car and then our pop Charlie and Connie from their car--Charlie in a nice green suit and Connie in a pretty black dress with a scarf. They went inside with us and were greeted by EVERYONE. After Sacrament meeting, they had to leave because Charlie's ear was buzzing, but they told us that they LOVED it and can't wait to come back and see us again.

Wow, that was a really long story. I have so much else that I want to write, but we JUST got word that President called our district leader and said that we need to make sure our area book is updated because he most likely is going to whitewash our area (most likely with Elders).....Oh my gosh, I want to cry. We are both depressed. The reason is because there's this weird member who's on probation who I guess was standing outside of our apartment door one night creepily staring at our window (we had no clue) and our District leader came home and saw him and yelled at him. He also has tried to visit us at our apartment before. So...just like in McAllen, another member has ruined the momentum. Wow, I'm so sad, I'm sick in my stomach. I was SOOOOOOOO excited for Connie and Charlie because they are so golden and excited to be baptized.

Wow. I'm sad. I hope I'm with Sister Call still, but that's very unlikely... But, I know the Church is true. The work will go forward.

Love you...I'll most likely see you in Loredo because I can't go back south that's the only other part of the mission where I could go.

Sister Burt

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