Monday, February 22, 2010

Ok, I'm SUPER Happy Right Now

Hey,
So first of all, the reason I'm SO happy and excited right now because the church finally changed their old, ancient myldsmail.net email server to a new one that is powered by GMAIL! So it's WAY fast, super sleek, and it looks, acts, and has all the features of Gmail. So yes, if anyone knew me before my mission, I was so obsessed with using all the computer shortcuts and extra features to make using the computer faster and easier. Well, FINALLY my dream has come true. I've spend the last 15 minutes here customizing my email to have all the features that I was used to before my mission. Seriously, this is going to make emailing SO much more enjoyable for me. :)
I guess first thing's first, Happy Birthday, Marshall! Wow, I can't believe that you are 18-years-old already. How did that happen? But, I'm super excited for you. No, I don't have a present for you (YET! I'm working on it) and, yes, I know that I still owe you that scooter from a few birthday's ago (you always remind me), but I hope that it's a good one! And know that I love you and miss you a ton.
Anyways, this week was been really good. Raymondville is a sweet place. I mean, coming to Texas, I couldn't have imagined or wanted anything else. Oh house is coming along, but we've sort of gotten exhausted from cleaning and lost our gusto. The cockroach problem is slowing down and honestly, the cockroaches have never bothered me. Compared to some of the people's homes who we visits--who have cockroaches crawling ALL over the wall, floors, and counters, ours is not bad at all. And ever since I saw WALL-E, and saw Wall-e's little cockroach friend, they haven't really bugged me. Haha. But anyways, we haven't lost our gusto for missionary work. This week, we worked so much harder that the week prior and we witnessed a lot of miracles and had great success.
We had a baptism yesterday, a woman named Maria Saldana. She was already ready to be baptized before we got there, but we still helped her these past two weeks to prepare and get ready. It was really neat and the branch was excited to have another baptism (they've actually had a lot in the past few months). The Elder who was in my area before me for 8 months had 16 baptisms, which is pretty remarkable to me. Oh, I just remembered, the last week of January we had a baptism: a young guy named Jesus. He had been investigating the church for a while and finally when I got there, I was pretty bold and upfront with him and he finally decided that he did want to be baptized. So even though my stint in Brownsville was short, I feel that it was very successful.
Last week I hit my one-year mark. It's pretty crazy that I've been out a year. It's gone by so fast and I honestly, don't even have that much time left. It makes me want to focus that much more and work that much harder. I'm super excited and I hope that I stay here and finish my mission here. I actually hope that Sister Farr and I will be together 2-3 transfers. I think that that most likely will happen though because we're both new in this area and I don't think that President would take one of us out so fast, but then again, you never know.
Man, I feel like I should just stop writing to you about all of my investigators because every time that I write about someone who I think is super cool, they fall off the face of the earth. I haven't even been able to see Dolly or Carmelo since the last email. But we found some more new investigators, so we'll see what happens.
Here's a cool story. We were walking on this street trying to find a referral. The few days before, one of our zone leaders was talking about the reason why the Assistants baptize so much, even though they hardly even do much proselyting (only from 6-9 at night, rather than the entire day). He was talking about it and wrote really big on the board, "Because the TALK to EVERYONE they see." It really hit me and I decided that I would start talking to everyone I saw, whether they were in their car, on their phone, "busy", etc. Well, we were walking to this house and I saw this old woman and man coming out of their scary, apartments (I honestly thought they were abandoned). I walked up to them and said hi. I saw that the woman, Sylvia, was carrying this giant bag on her shoulder and her husband was walking behind with a cane. I asked if they needed any help. She looked at me and said, "YES! Can you give us a ride to the doctor?" Unfortunately, we can't give people rides in the church's cars, so I said, "Well, no, but we can walk with you and I'll carry your bag." She was VERY grateful for it and heaped her bag on me. It wasn't that heavy, but it was loaded to the brim with TONS of groceries. She understood the reason why we couldn't give her a ride and actually mentioned, "Oh it's a church car" before I even explained. It was rainy, wet, dark day and we were sort of in a more abandoned part of town. But Sister Farr and I started walking with them to the doctors. "It's just across the road." We started walking and walking and talking about the church. They were interested and had lots of questions. We past the main street and started walking on the south side of town. We kept walking and walking and by this point, the bag was starting to get a bit heavy. She kept saying, "Wow, you are SO strong!" Finally, after about 20 minutes and crossing a few major roads, we arrived at the doctor's office. She gave us a kiss on the cheek and was so grateful for us. She said she wouldn't have been able to make it with all the groceries by herself. I know that even though that's a part of town we don't normally go to, there was reason why we were there that day and that time. We set a return appointment with them and will visit them this week. I felt like the picture of the two sister missionaries in Preach My Gospel Chapter 9 who are holding the groceries of an elderly woman. Service is a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel and open people's hearts to Christ. As King Benjamin teaches us, "When you are in the service of your fellow beings, you are only in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17)." They can feel the Spirit when they serve you or when you serve them, which prepares them to hear the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It prepares them to put their burdens upon the Savior, whose "yolk is light."
Well, I love you all and appreciate everyone's prayers and support. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. I promise you that I will. I know that the best deterrent for discouragement is spiritual experiences. So if anyone is discouraged or down this week, do something so that you can have a spiritual experience. It will lift and bolster you and the Comforter will come in greater portions to tell you what you should do.
Love,
Sister Burt

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It Smells Like Boy in Here

Hey Family!


Howdy from Raymondville! Yep, I’ve been transferred and Sister Farr and I are whitewashing Raymondville. My last area and branch had a few problems due to a MAJOR lack of Priesthood (it caused a LOT of problems), so President switched Elders from Raymondville to Brownsville, and Sisters from Brownsville to Raymondville. It’s a coincidence that I happened to move from the area that was closing to the area that was opening. But we are really excited!

Sister Farr and I were roommates in Brownsville, she was in a different area in Brownsville that I was and was companions with Sister Amitoelau. We got to know each other pretty well, but not that well. She is from Salem, OR and loves hunting. Her favorite animal is an elk (go figure haha). She doesn’t like spiders though; to quote her, “I don’t get it, I can kill an elk, but I can’t kill a little spider.” At first we sort of butted heads because we are kind of both stubborn and want our way, but we really really really want this companionship to work out and we knew that the little differences we had aren’t even that big of a thing. So we’ve made it a goal to talk very openly about all things dealing with the companionship. The first week was a bit awkward because we were getting it all out there, but this week, all the “little” dumb things are in the past and we are SO ready to get out and work. It’s been really good because I tend to be a “ball hog” at times and just prefer to talk and teach the whole lesson by myself. I guess I’ve kind of sort of had to do it because I’ve had some companions who won’t talk or say anything during certain times. I kept cutting her off or talking forever during lessons and that really bothered her because she said that every single one of her companions (besides Sister Amitoelau) did that to her. At first, when hearing things like this, the “natural man” (or woman, in my case) starts shouting up from inside me, getting mad and trying to defend myself. But I’ve really worked on being humble, honest, accepting feedback genuinely, and changing without being stubborn or putting up a big fight. So it’s gone both ways, but just by talking about it openly (she isn’t very confrontational and so with other companions, she had just held it in and it never got better—an attitude which is the opposite of me). So I have told her to just be open and honest and talk about it when it happens, and so that’s been really good for her and the companionship. Now don’t get me wrong, it sounds like we don’t really get along that well, but we actually get along SO great. Just the first week, it’s just the awkwardness of getting used to each other and how the other person teaches. But we are so unified, happy, supportive, respectful and dedicated to each other. That’s the way it should be.

We have really been focusing on what our desires our—something that our last Zone Leader, Elder Reilly (random sidenote: he plays football for Colorado State), taught us. He focused a LOT last transfer about what our desires are: to find out what they are do, if that’s really what we want, we will accomplish them. The human mind is such a powerful thing and if we really want something bad enough, we will do everything in our power to make it happen. That is true for both Sister Farr and I: we have desires to baptize lots of people here in Raymondville, to work the hardest that we ever have before, to be more unified as companions that ever, to build that unity. We have talked a lot this past week about what our desires and goals are and have written them down (because there is so much power in just writing the goal down to help it become actualized). We are EXPECTING to see miracles this transfer because we have faith in our desires, faith in Jesus Christ, faith that they can be achieved and faith that as we go out and show our faith—through diligent, consistent effort—that we will see results.

So more about Raymondville: it’s a small town with about 9000 people. There is one set of Elders and one set of Sisters here; they have the East side (plus a few adjacent small towns) and we have the West side (plus one other small town called Lyford). Everyone in town knows the missionaries. The first day that we were here, we went to lunch with the other Elders and as we were walking to the restaurant, everyone was saying “Hey Elders,” or “How’s it going, Elders?” It was funny: they aren’t members, but it’s such a small town that it’s easy to get to know who they are. I think it will take them a lot longer to recognize us and who we are because we don’t stand out as much (we actually wear colors and different outfits, rather than the same shirt and tie all day, every day). The people are really nice, it’s probably half Spanish, half English. I’m not quite sure. Our Zone Leader used to serve here for a long time and said that he believes Raymondville is one of the best areas in the mission. The branch is growing a lot and he said that he believes (and President, as well) that this branch will grow to become the strongest ward in the stake. They have a lot of faith in this branch because the members and the recent converts are absolutely amazing. So, that got us excited to. It’s been 15 years since Sisters were here.

The branch is pretty small. I’m not quite sure if it’s a Spanish branch or an English branch. Haha, seriously, it’s the most hilarious thing. I think it’s the Raymondville Tex-Mex branch. Sunday was a hoot. The branch president was speaking the greatest mix of Tex Mex you ever did hear. Then for the hymns, the people just sang them in whatever language worked best for them: you speak English, sing it in English; you speak Spanish, hey, why not, sing your little hear out in Spanish. Then one talk was in pure English, another in Spanish, another in Tex Mex. Awesome. Gospel Principles was English, but Relief Society was pure Spanish. It’s definitely probably the most unique branch in the church—at least, that I’ve ever been to.

Ok, so let me tell you about our living situation. So we live in a house that the Elders used to live in: 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage—it’s super nice. Well, in theory, it should be super nice…IF the Elders knew how to clean. We got in and it was so dark, dingy and dirty. The first thing I was said was, “Ew, it smells like boy in here.” The floors had stains, mud, dirt, junk all over them. My sink had layers upon layers of grossness and whiskers were everywhere. I cleaned my sink from all the whiskers, but then 5 minutes later, they all appeared again. The kitchen and bathrooms had rust, grime and mold everywhere. And oh…the cockroach problem…special. We got in and there were cockroaches climbing around in the kitchen every so often. We tried to kill them, but of course they keep coming back (it’s definitely a lot more under control now because of the major deep cleaning that we have started). We looked in all the cupboards and there were literally HUNDREDS of dead roach carcasses in them. That grossed us out too much, so we took out all the plates, dishes, utensils, etc and cleaned everything by hand; we bleached the cupboards; bought caulk to fill in all the gaps that the roaches use to climb up into and in between the cupboards. Cleaning this apartment has been a huge chore. At first it really bothered us because we couldn’t really feel comfortable in this home or the Spirit. So during our lunch breaks we clean; for morning exercise, we clean; before we go to bed, we clean; all day pday, we cleaned. We still aren’t done. The best thing has been the floors (we’re ALMOST done), but they are white tile, but they were so dirty, they looked grayish brown. So we got on our hands and knees and cleaned and scrubbed the floors like there was no other. It looks great! We have been organizing and gutting the place of random junk. The best part: it doesn’t smell like boy anymore! Now it’s a mix between cleaning supplies and girl. Oh and by the way, the Elders laughed really hard when we told them it smelled like boy. Later they told us that a few weeks ago, they had a cologne war. Some member gave an Elder this atrocious cologne and then another Elder got a Axe body spray kit, so they went around the house spraying each other with it. By the end of their fun, the stench was so bad that they had to open up all the windows to air out the house. Apparently, it wasn’t enough because the stench still lingered. Oh well, we’re taking care of it now. But don’t get me wrong, I really am so excited for this house; we really are incredibly blessed to have a house. I know that there are missionaries (and people), in remote places like Mexico and Africa who have to wash their clothes using a washboard and don’t have running water. I have no room to complain. But, I still have this stewardship that I need to take care of. It looks like we have 10 talents here, while others have 1 or 5.

The work here has been really great. The people are very open and accepting. We have focused on being BOLD, teaching with the Spirit and not wasting our time with the unprepared. Our time as missionaries is short and so we don’t have time to waste. We are here to find the prepared, not to find people to prepare. It’s been cool to sift threw investigators and potential investigators. We’ve taught lots of people already and in the past we would have counted them all as new investigators, and gone back to try to convince them. But we’ve really been focusing on seeing if they’re ready. Sure, people LOVE to invite the missionaries in and hear the word of God, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to believe it or do anything about the invitations we leave them. We still teach all that will accept us, but by the end of our short, powerful lessons, we are able to tell whether it’s worth our time to come back. We leave them with our number, the address of the church and a pamphlet, for that day in the future when perhaps they are ready to be “doers of the word, rather than just hearers.” (James 1:22).

We have some amazing investigators that we have found as a result. Two of them we found on our first day: Dolly and Carmelo who are brother and Sister. They are probably about in their 60s. It’s so funny to visit them because they live with their 96-year-old mother and all their other siblings. So there is this huge row of couches when your enter and she’s sitting there (completely out of it), and then all the other siblings (apparently, the older siblings, perhaps in their late 70s) are also sitting there out of it. Dolly and Carmelo are very coherent and actually interested. At first, we came and taught Dolly, and Carmelo was sitting in the corner, appearing as though he wasn’t listening. We came back and he was ready and said that he read “a little” of the pamphlet. Immediately he starts going into how he learned about Apostasy, had questions about where the plates were, Jospeh Smith, etc. His main obstacle is that he doesn’t believe that Christ’s atonement covers him. He is a Vietnam veteran and has so much guilt from all the killing he did that he doesn’t think he can be forgiven. It is going to be really cool to teach both of them.

Well, I’m overdue on time. I love you all and am excited to see miracles in this area. This church is true and missionary work is the greatest thing that someone could do with their time. As Hinckley says, “It’s the greatest investment you can ever make on your life.”…or something like that.
Love you so much! Till next week!

Love,
Sister Burt

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Dog Named Pulgas

Alright family!
Hey! Well things are going pretty well over here. We get transfer calls sometime today and the rumor is that President is taking Sisters out of our area and putting in Elders (because there is NO Priesthood in the branch). The Assistants called us a few days ago asking about the area and “if we were to split it,” where would it be best to be split?” So we may get split, or we may go. Who knows.

Well, I forgot to tell you a cool part about Barbie’s story. Ok, so in the beginning of the lesson with Sister Amitoelau, we were explaining the Book of Mormon. I walked over and handed her the copy of the Book of Mormon and right after she had it in her hands and put it on top of her Bible, the room got brighter. She was sitting underneath a ceiling light and it instantly got brighter. It was so cool. I took the moment to say, “Did you just see what happened to that light? I know that that is no coincidence that the light got brighter. That is exactly what the Book of Mormon does to our understanding about the Bible and Jesus Christ.” It was a really cool experience. They tried to say that “oh the light randomly does that,” but I made sure to help them see the connection. To me, it was not a coincidence, but rather, a manifestation from God.
So random stuff that happens here that I’ll share. We have an investigator who has a dog named Pulgas. “Pulgas” is Spanish means “fleas.” Haha, nice. We eat with a member couple every Wednesday called the “Castillos.” It’s kind of interesting because they live in Matamoros, Mexico but go to the Branch here in Texas. We go to a different restaurant (our choice!) each week. It’s pretty cool and they’re a really neat family. Also, people here eat Corn Tortillas with EVERYTHING and they eat them by the pound. At the beginning of my mission, I did not approve of corn tortillas, I thought they were too small and too bland. But now, holy cow, I can’t get enough, they aren’t bland, but rather “rica!” Seriously, I had a flour tortilla the other day and almost gagged, not delicious.

Anyways, Barbie is doing ok. We were only able to teach her once this week. She was able to get the better work schedule! Starting Thursday, she will be working in the mornings from 7-3 and not at night anymore! Yay, but then again, she said she might be working Sundays, so I hope not. I shared 1 Nephi 3:7 with her and explained that God wants her to come to church and that SHE wants to come to church, so that God will help her to obey this commandment. She was all excited to come to church, but said it depended on how she felt after work (she got out at 7 am), because she’s pregnant and really tired. She didn’t come on Sunday, but I still have high hopes for her (and Jessie, once he starts putting a little bit of faith into it). If the area gets split, she will go to the Elders, which is a bummer, but I’ve learned to not throw a fit about things because it’s all the Lord’s will. Just learn the lesson I need to learn and help the people I need to help, and all will work out.

Oh, here’s a random story. So last Wednesday, before eating with the Castillos, we were contacting a street called Katy. We saw this women dressed in a nice business suit, sitting outside with 2 men. The men were signing something, but we asked if we could come in and give them something. We started talking to her and quickly the men shuffled into the corner with their papers. We just assumed they wanted a little privacy, no biggie. Very soon after talking to her, the men came and said in Spanish, “Well, obviously, you think they are more important than us. We don’t want to rent the house anymore, we want our deposit back.” They grabbed the money back from her hand, shoved the clipboard to her and walked away. I tried to talk to them before they left to see if we could share something with them, but they ignored me as if I didn’t exist. When we started talking to the women again, and said that we were SO sorry about that. That now because of us, she lost her contract with those me. She said, “Oh no, thank you!” She then begins to tell us that she didn’t think these men were being honest with her and that they were lying about certain information to get the house. She actually didn’t even want to rent to them and that morning she didn’t even want to show up, but her husband told her to go. Then when she go there, she said that she was praying the whole time that someone would come and interrupt them so that she could leave. And right as she said that prayer in her mind, we showed up. I know that Heavenly Father answers all of our prayers. She didn’t accept our invitation to share the Gospel, yet she still recognized us as an answer to her prayer.

Anyways, I don’t have much time left. Sorry this has been a short email. I’ve just spent the majority of the time emailing the pictures (I would have just saved the other Hermana’s pictures to my memory card, but the Library here blocks that ability…). But this has been a really good week, I think that Sister Lopez and I will still be together because Sister Amitoelau said, “God has you stay with your companions until you learn the lesson you need to learn from them.” I believe that’s true and I haven’t really learned the lesson I need to from her yet.

I know that Christ lives and this is his true Gospel. I’ve seen it change lives and being a missionary, it still continues to refine and change me. That’s what I love about the Gospel. We can always become better.

Love,
Sister Burt

Pictures

Pictures from Morgan! Here they are in no particular order! Enjoy

Oh, the infamous Elder Palikiko-Fletcher (from Hawaii), we're not sure how we feel about you wearing tight pants and cowboy boots on pday....seriously....







our mural of Jesus.
That picture before was from when me and Sister Farr were sick...no fun. This one is of me!

Gotta love the end of transfer District pictures.



This one is I think my favorite.





I'm not going to lie, I'm starting to get sick of GIANT platters of meat...
Look what the Elders brought over...half a bale of ties...
Where's Sister Burt?!
I have the POWER!
Fight of the transfer: Sister Burt vs. Sister Amitoelau

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pics!

I don't get this sign.

The Church we go to for Spanish branch. Yes, it's blue.
Elder Vera threw the keys on the roof before district meeting. He claims he was trying to avoid hitting sister Lopez. Seriously, this week and keys. No Good!

I accidentally left the keys in the house on exchange day with Sister Ami. This is her trying to use her ghetto skills to jummy the lock. Oh and FYI, later that week, I locked the keys in the car too. I blame the sickness.

This is the most random corner of our apartment. Our table: the hot sauce selection, the random Disney table cloth (plastic) that was sent to me, and our temple mural. Classy.

We're teaching a Barbie!

Alright Family!

Ok, so this transfer has been the fastest (surprisingly), but this week was the SLOWEST ever! Gosh. I was SICK all week, on and off, and it was so disappointing. Ok, so remember how I told you I was all excited to work out, play soccer with the Elders, etc. So…apparently, I over-exhausted myself. I wake up at 6:00 am and work out, then one Monday mornings, we clean the apartment from 6:30 to 7ish. Alright, cool, no biggie. Well then, it was SUPER HOT outside and we went to the big rec park and played “Ultimate Sports” with the Elders. No one wanted to play soccer and run that much, so we created this game that is kind of like Ultimate Frisbee, but the field is way shorter (where the team benches usually are on a soccer field). You can pretty much do whatever you want, but you can’t move with the ball unless it’s on the ground. You can kick it, throw it, headbutt it, whatever. It was actually SUPER fun and I played hardcore—running back and forth—for 2 hours. Not to mention that before that, I ran a mile around this big water thing while we were waiting for the Elders, then played Freeze tag on the jungle gym with the Sisters. Let’s just say, it’s been a long while since I’ve been able to enjoy myself physically speaking, so I’ve been loving it down here.

Well, it was all too much of a good thing apparently. Later that pday, I started getting a cough. I thought it was just an “exercise cough,” the kind you get when you start exercising again because you’re lungs are used to all the exercise. Well, that quickly turned into—practically!—laryngitis and I could barely talk at all. I had this killer horse, dry cough that sounded like a dying old man. I couldn’t even sing because the notes were all too high for me. So lessons, I wasn’t too productive. I had a fever on and off, but not really. That first night, I couldn’t sleep till 1 am, so the rest of the week I took Nyquil to put me to bed because—let’s be honest—I need my sleep! I kept trying to truck though it, yet my voice wasn’t much better. It turned from no voice, to a “Patti and Selma”-type voice from the Simpsons (you know, Marge’s sisters who are hard core, chain smokers). Yeah, it was beautiful. By Friday, I was not feeling good at all and my lungs started hurting, I don’t know whether from all the coughing or what. So I stayed in that day. Sister Farr stayed with me while the other sisters worked in both of our areas. Honestly, I slept all day and then bought ice cream for my throat. So exciting. Then Saturday, I worked but any improvement that I made, left because it got really cold here—plus all the talking and singing was rough on my vocal chords. So Sunday, I still had the lung/chest pain (don’t worry, Friday, I got some antibiotics from the Doctor), so I just went to the Spanish ward, and then went on splits again and went to the Sister’s ward in the afternoon. Then I just stayed in because I didn’t want to risk it. It was a good thing. Sister Ami and I actually got a lot of projects finished and today, I feel nearly 100%. But geez, it started a week ago…Being sick is cool and fun off the mission, but on the mission, it is the biggest waste of time. I’m glad it’s over. So don’t worry, I won’t be playing sports today and I’ll be talking it easy on the exercise and such this week.

Well, I forgot to mention but Thursday we went on official exchanges with the Sisters. I wasn’t feeling that great on Thursday, but I was SO excited to work with Sister Amitoelau in my area, that I just plowed through. It was SOO fun and awesome. She’s been out one transfer less than me and is a great missionary. We had an instant bond and taught in such unity. It was like we had been companions forever! We taught one particular lesson which was so spiritual and powerful that it shocked us both. I really am grateful for that chance I had to learn and teach with her because it helped me a lot.

Alrighty, so I know that I promised the story about Barbie and Jessie, so here it goes. Usually, when I have a super awesome story, but put it off till the next week, the “super awesome” investigators, usually have dropped us, have major doubts, etc. and then the story isn’t as cool anymore. Well, not this time! It’s even better!

So we met Barbie one day while working in a little suburb called Olmito, just north of our Brownsville. We went looking for a referral, but the house number didn’t exist, so we just worked the street. It was all Spanish, but then we get to this one house and I notice a decal on the back of a red car that said, “Barbie.” I thought it was cute and moved on. Then her doormat said, “Go Away!” “Great…” I thought, “I wonder what type of person this is.” We knocked and Barbie answered, this cute 26-year-old girl who is pregnant. She invited us in and we talked for a bit. We found out that she and her husband just got married and they are Catholic. I kept feeling that we wouldn’t even be able to teach a lesson because she would say, “Yeah, we’re Catholic, no thanks.” But that didn’t happen (Oh me of little faith). Anyways, we started talking about Eternal Families and gave her a Family Proclamation. She then started saying that she and her husband got married about 6 months ago. But since she is a dispatch for 9-1-1 and works nights, they weren’t able to go to church for a really long time. So they just got married by the justice of the peace. They went back later to get married by the church, and the church said that they couldn’t get married by the church, neither could they take the sacraments because they were “living in sin” because they weren’t married by the church. They left feeling horrible; “I thought we were doing a good thing by getting married.” I immediately jumped on this opportunity to tell her about the sacredness of marriage. We started talking about Eternal Families and gave her a Family Proclamation. I told her that God is very proud that she is married to her husband because the purpose of marriage is to have children, but then I also told her that her marriage can last for time and all eternity. She was interested and had lots of questions. I made sure that she recognized the relief and absence of guilt after having heard this truth. I asked her how she felt about her church and it’s stance on her marriage and she said she wasn’t happy at all. They actually have been thinking about switching to a Christian church because they see how all their Christian friends are happier and more devoted to their religion—plus, she doesn’t like how strict her church is. So anyways, we left and made an appointment for the next day when her husband would be there.
The next day we arrived and they were both anxiously awaiting us. Jessie even made sure that he finished all of his errands to be back in time. We taught a first lesson, focusing on Authority—that God gives his priesthood authority to prophets by the laying on of hands. I use the “Gospel Art Book” in ALL of my lesson (seriously, it’s completely CHANGED my mission. People are such visual learners and it’s awesome to be teaching about prophets, Jesus, the First Vision, etc. and just whip out a picture of it right then and there for them to see). So I only showed pictures of prophets passing on the authority (Moses giving it to Aaron; Jesus to Peter; Peter, James, and John to Joseph Smith). They loved the lesson and had tons of questions and were definitely willing and open to learn and PRAY. They kept saying, “Wow, I never knew about Joseph Smith or all of this.” It was awesome. I left so ecstactic.

The next lesson we had with them was Thursday and Sis. Amitoelau was my companion. We followed up with them and the first thing Barbie said was that she didn’t buy Joseph Smith. She didn’t quite believe it. We thanked her and him for being so honest and open with us. It’s great when investigators tell you straight up what their doubts are. It makes things a whole lot easier. So we taught the Book of Mormon--something that we slightly mentioned and introduced, but didn’t teach in the prior lesson. We went pretty in detail only because they had questions and wanted to know. Sis. Amitoelau shared a very personal experience about how she was wayward and homeless (and I’m assuming, slightly involved in gangs) because she left the church, but then she prayed and God helped her. Then she prayed to know if it was all true and got an incredible answer. It definitely handled their doubt to “but you’ve been in this church since you were born.” We ended by doing something we never have done in a lesson before: showing the last 10 minutes of the movie “Testaments” when Jesus Christ comes to the America’s. The Spirit during the WHOLE lesson was SO strong and after, they kept saying, “Wow, I never knew about any of this. I didn’t know about these stories. I WANT to read it to know if it’s true.” So, we left, again ecstatic about their progress.

Then Saturday we were in the area again and stopped by. Just Barbie was there and said, “Oh good, you’re here. I have some questions about church.” She wanted to know which dress was appropriate. She said that even though she gets off work at 7 am, she is going to come to church at 9 NEXT SUNDAY (meaning this upcoming week) and bring her niece. Jessie is a bit more skeptical than her, so he said for her to go first and check it out and then he’d come. It’s really cool to see how they are prepared and willing. She even wanted to get her niece baptized by the Catholic church, but since the niece’s parents aren’t going to church or married by the church, they’re living in sin and so the daughter can’t be baptized. It’s sad. I just keep thinking of Article of Faith 2: We believe that man must be punished for his own sins, and not for Adam’s (or his parents!) transgressions. The niece is 8 and I’m positive will become a new investigator soon. So yeah, Barbie totally has read the Book of Mormon, compared parts in the Bible with Jessie and defended it to him. He said, “Yeah, I don’t believe it.” She said, “Well, do you believe this? (pointing to the Bible)” “Yes, of course.” “Well,” she said, “who wrote this. MEN!” And who do you think wrote the Book of Mormon? Men! Joseph Smith found those tablets an wrote this.” (I’ll have to double clarify with her that he didn’t write it, but rather translated it, but either way, she’s defending it nonetheless!) So yeah, she’ll be coming to church this week and I’m so excited!

So my commitment for you all, please pray for Barbie and Jessie this week. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted someone to be baptized more than this couple. They’re so awesome, and yes still have doubts, but they are actually willing and open which is nice.

Anyways, my time is running out, I guess. I’m glad I got to share that story with you, I know that miracles and great things will happen in the future—ending with me going to their temple sealing in a year from now! ;) But I know this Gospel is true and that it changes lives. I know that God is in the details of our lives and even though I was sick this week, the Lord helped both us and the sisters and we had one of the most amazing weeks ever!

Love XOXOXO,
Sister Burt