Monday, February 1, 2010

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!

Sister Burt

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