Monday, January 11, 2010

Am I a Parrot?

Hey Family!

I would say that it was good to hear from you this week, but I didn't, but I'll just assume that everyone is ok. Haha.

So, let's get right to it.

I forgot to tell you last week about the other two girls that we live with. One is Sister Farr, from Oregon: she's blond, super into hunting, drawing, etc. She's pretty new; this is her 3rd transfer. The other is Sister Amitoelau (pronounced Ah-mee-toy-lou (as in loud)). Actually, that's the way we say it, I think the Samoan way of saying it is Ah-Mee-to-eh-lou-oo. Anyways, she's super cool, from California/Utah, super tall, played basketball and all other sports. I really like these girls. It's fun living with other girls, yet at the same time, I miss the peace and quite of just one other person. Hey, I guess I'll have plenty of that whenever I get married. Right?

Sister Lopez and I are doing great. It's really fun having a Latina companion. It's nice because she's very educated (a school teacher and studied at a University), and her accent is very crisp and clean. She doesn't muddle words and such, which is typical of Mexican Spanish. Not that one's better than the other, but you know what I mean. So who knows, I may come back with a really pretty accent. Because one talent that I might have developed here on the mission is the ability to mimic. I think it started with my Disney quoting adventures in the MTC. I would always quote things with Sister Call, and actually I would mimic members and our investigators all the time. She loved it! Well, now that mimicking ability (I think I'm turning into a parrot, perhaps), might actually come in handy because I just mimic the way that Sister Lopez says everything: the way she initiates thing, the way she emphasizes certain words, her pronunciation, words and phrases she uses, everything. It's pretty cool to see how my Spanish has increased just in these past two weeks together. And of course, I help her with her English all the time. It's pretty much the best situation you can have because we both have a pretty ok grasp of the languages we are learning and so I can say to her, "How do you say this?" And she's tell me. And likewise.

The only rough thing is that she was with her other companion Sister Kellett for 5 months and is REALLY attached to her--and even more so...the MEMBERS. It's kind of rough because everyone makes these pouty faces when they find out that she's gone. Oh well, it's the life of the missionary, I've learned. At first, I thought I was the only one who felt this way, but I mentioned it to Sister Amitoelau and she said, "Oh my gosh, I feel the SAME way! Everyone's always talking about Sister Behrman!" So, she and I are in the same boat, but in time, they will change and learn to love us for who we are.

Although, Mom, I know you want to know how my Spanish is doing, so I'll tell you a few things that people have said to me. First off, when I came here Sister Lopez said that I have a huge vocabulary. Next, one investigator said that "Her Spanish is much CLEARER than the other." And then a member said, "Wow, you are the FIRST Americana or Gringa ever who can actually pronounce the 'erre' (the rolled r)." I roll my rr's like CRAZY and I don't really know where I picked it up or when I learned it. It just happened.

Things are going well here in Brownsville. Even though the people are a bit more inviting, still the majority don't want to listen. There was a “freeze” here this week. During the beginning part of the week, everyone was warning us about the big freeze (it was supposedly going to be in the 30s or below). To be honest, I didn’t really believe it: Pssh. Texans. They can’t handle cold. Well, come Friday morning, Sister Farr and I were running and being a bit haughty by saying, “THIS is the big freeze. Please.” Well, that didn’t last long. By afternoon, the weather had dipped into the 30s and was so cold. I wore 4 pairs of nylons/tights because that’s all I had—and of course my coat. Sister Lopez wore about 3 pairs of socks, but it wasn’t enough for her tiny little body. We were contacting all day and stood to talk to this man. She found out that he was from El Salvador (her county) and got all excited. We talked to him for about 20 minutes. By that point, we started walking and she couldn’t feel her toes. Then she couldn’t even walk because she couldn’t feel her feet. It was SO sad. I almost had to give her a piggy back ride to the car because she was cold. We got into the car and dethawed for 20 minutes, but still. Wow, it was rough. I’m glad I didn’t send home my winter coat prematurely, because I almost was going to at Christmas time.

Anyways, I’ve been pondering a lot about what we teach as missionaries, which is the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. Doctrine and Covenant 42:12 teaches us that we “shall teach the principles of my gospel, which as in the Bible and Book of Mormon, in which is the fullness of the gospel.” I’ve been thinking about the meaning of “The Gospel” because a friend of mine sent me some neat notes on the subject. But in the scriptures, when Christ says, “This is my doctrine (D&C 31:21)” or “This is my Gospel (3 Nephi 27:21),” he is referring to something very specific, the basics: the principles of faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. THAT is his gospel, everything else is just appendages to it. The Word of Wisdom, isn’t part of his gospel, neither is tithing. His Gospel is centered around his Atonement, the great sacrifice that he made for all men, the great act of love. 1 John 4: 19: We love his because he first loved us. We show our love by keeping his commandments (John 14:15). I love thinking about his Gospel and how we can apply it. When we teach and principle of the Gospel, we need to be able to tie it back into the GOSPEL and Christ’s atonement. If there is a part of the gospel that we can’t tie back, then apparently we don’t understand the principle enough. We don’t just live the word of wisdom so that we can say that we don’t drink coffee, tea, or alcohol. The reason is because, in doing so, we are able to feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost better and stronger. The Holy Ghost is one of the 5 principles of the Gospel. In our classes in church and in our teaching, we should always refocus the lesson on “How does this relate back to the Gospel?” I know that as I’ve focused on this, my lessons and studies have been more powerful. If we have a lesson on “The Saints Exodus from Nauvoo,” for example, it will be so much more powerful if we can tie it back to the Atonement of Christ. I extend an invitation to everyone to think about this. As I have, I’ve looked at different parts of the Gospel and thought, “Wow, why do I do this? Not just for obedience, but how does this related back to the Gospel?” It’s made a huge difference.

I also recommend Elder Utchdorf’s talks “The Way of the Disciple” from April General Conference and “The Love of God” from October’s General Conference. Read the April one first, ponder, and then read the October. The April is a bit more general and the April focuses and the one specific thing we can do as disciples of Christ. It’s interesting how incredibly connected his two General Conference talk are: as if the one in April was just chapter one, and October was chapter two of an incredible story.

I know that this is Christ’s true gospel. The only way back to our Heavenly Father is through Jesus Christ and his Atonement. Love needs to be “our walk and our talk.” I know that this earth was created for us, not simply as “our playground” as investigators have told me, but so that we can learn, grow, and love.

I love you all. Have a great week!

Con amor,
Hermana Burt

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