Monday, March 29, 2010

The King on His Throne

Dearest Mama Mia, Papa Mia & Marshallonie,
Hey! How's it going? And yes mom, I got the shoes. They are adorable, but a bit snug. I forgot that I wear 9's in tennis shoes, not 8.5's... :( But I think they'll do ok. I'll just use them (because in the end, we're going to spend more on shipping them back and forth that they shoes are worth!)
Things are going absolutely amazing here! Seriously, last week was an incredible week, we were just so ecstatic. The thing is, that for a missionary, Sunday makes or breaks you: either people come to church and your thrilled or they don't and you crash. It's like the beginning of a roller coaster: during the week, you climb, climb, climb up in that car all the way to the top, so that you can get enough altitude and velocity to make it an incredible ride. If the investigators come, you start heading down for the ride of your life. It's amazing and thrilling. It pumps you up for the rest of the week. If they chose not to come (which usually is the case), then it's like the roller coaster stops right at the apex of the ride. You're in the front car looking down, waiting, expecting to go down, but the ride has shut down and will be out of order for the next who knows how long. When that happens, you are sad and deflated. But luckily for us, five people came to church and so we're thrilled! ALL of them have baptismal dates too!
So let's just get to business and start talking about this week. So up first is the amazing Lucy. According to my quick google search within my email, I have not talked about her yet. Excellent. Well, we knocked in on Lucy 2 weeks ago on a Saturday. We were searching to find the home of some peramgatures of the Elders, not really wanting to continue teaching them, but just to know where they lived in case we needed to find them in the future. We knew the basic area--across from Taqueria Lopez--but we weren't quite sure what apartment. So we started knocking. Now let me remind you that this was in the middle of when ALL of our awesome investigators were dropping us. But it's interesting how yet in despite all the hardship, in the middle of it, we found LUCY, who has been a great investigator for us. She works at the local prison known as the MTC (it's funny to go up to people and say, "Oh yeah, I spent 9 weeks that the MTC. Haha), she has 2 girls (one 4 named Katrina and a baby), she lives alone and is struggling getting by. She has a car, a nice place, etc., but she's doing it all alone, which is really hard. Katrina's dad stops by every once and a while to help out with the girls, but he's very unreliable and she can't ever count on him; sometimes he comes, sometimes he doesn't--essentially, she's alone. We taught her and she didn't know much about God, never went to church, etc. She was planning on getting her girls baptized, but not anymore because we taught her the doctrine of baptism and that he girls are perfect and innocent and don't need to be baptized...yet (because Katrina is a little stinker and rascal!). She was excited to go to church, but she works from 12 pm to 9 am, and church starts at 9. So last week she didn't go. We continued teaching her this week, taught her about the Book of Mormon, the Gospel, the Restoration, Sacrament, and she accepted a Baptismal date. She came to church yesterday (even though she worked ALL night and got off at 9. She rushed over here to the church as soon as she could). She didn't know hardly anything about faith and God, but she has been so valiant in showing her faith. She was all dressed up with makeup on and her daughter had a new dress.
I'm not going to lie, I get really stressed out when investigators come to church. It's just hard for me because I want them to have a good experience, good time, feel the Spirit. And let's be honest, the Raymondville branch is a bit crazy. English, Spanish, Tex Mex...oh my! During sacrament, I was sitting in the far back with Lucy and Sister Serrato's kids kept coming up to me asking me for gum, paper to color, then complaining because one of the markers wasn't working, one of them even threw a tiny basketball at Lucy's head "Wow, that woke me up," she said. She had a good attitude about it. Sister Farr went to the classes with Lucy and I went to the classes with her daughter (because supposedly 2 of the teachers were going to be gone and so I President Ramos wanted me to help). So I went on "splits." Turns out they didn't need me but it was cool to see Primary again. Wow, I hope I get called to Primary one day because it was SO fun and so many of the things I've learned on my mission, would be fun to apply to a primary class. Anyways, Lucy enjoyed herself, had tons of questions and even got really excited when she past the baptismal font!
The other four investigators were a recent convert--Joe Quintero's--nieces. I didn't even know they were there until after church. We had randomly knocked their door one day (they live rather close to the church) and were surprised to find that it belonged to Joe's mom and nieces. They were excited to have us back on Saturday, but weren't there for the appointment. But they came Sunday, we taught them with Joe present, and they all accepted Baptismal dates. It was really neat because Joe has changed SOOOO much (he used to be a crazy mean thug) and now he's on track to being the next branch president. So spiritual and insightful. Anyways, I call investigators that you 1) find during that week, 2) accept a baptismal date and 3) come to church "Super-gators." Well, these girls did that all in ONE day; my name for them: "celestial-gators."
Last night at 7:15, we were in Lyford. We had an appointment at 8 with a recent convert. By this time, we had already completed ALL of our key indicator goals for the week. We really didn't have any plans and I wasn't really wanting to contact. But we were thinking about were we wanted to go and we remembered the place we pointed out on the map a few days ago when we prayed about where we should go. We pulled out the map and saw the 3 random streets int he outskirts of the town. We drove over there to see if they actually were habitated and they were jam packed with trailers and homes. We decided to contact and boy oh boy and I glad that we did. In just 45 minutes, we taught 3 lessons and found 3 more new investigators! What a blessing for just continuing to press forward with faith, even though we already had reached our goal for new investigators, lessons, etc for the week. I personally believe that 2 of these investigators are going to be superb because they were taught before by missionaries in Arlington and were going to be baptized, but then they moved and couldn't!
Also, right after we taught those lesson (at this point it was 2), it was 8 o'clock and we were walking back to the car to drive to Louie's. As we did, we past this fence that was open and saw this old Mexican man sitting on his porch. He was just sitting enjoying the breeze (we saw him pull into his home earlier, yet decided not to contact him then). We saw us and we waved as we walked by and then he said, "Pasenles!" which means, "Pass." So, even though we had an appointment, we were sure Louie wouldn't mind. We walked in and he invited us to sit down. Immediately his wife came out and introduced herself. She said she was making tortillas and couldn't be outside with us, but he asked "Quiseran tortillas?" Well, I felt bad saying no because the people here are so nice. So we sat down and immediately the granddaughter came out, gave us a plate of beans and then kept bringing out fresh, homemade tortillas and putting them in the tortilla warmer. Then they gave us salsa and soda and so we just talked to this man for a while. He wasn't interested, but it was funny. I felt like he was a king sitting on his throne, being served whatever his heart desired as he ate his tortillas and talked with his new acquaintances. I finished my plate and he said, "You want more?" And when I finally, hesitantly said yes, he threw his hand into the air and said, "MARIA! MAS!" It was funny.

But that leads me into my next thought: this week was absolutely amazing! Two weeks ago, the majority of our investigators dropped us. It was heartbreaking and disappointing; we felt like we were whitewashing again, except the only difference was that this time around, we knew the area. We decided to do our best and "keep moving forward" (a favorite Disney quote of mine from the Man himself). We proceeded forth to continue contacting 20 people a day, despite the hardships that we were having. It really is a promise from the Lord that if we contact 20 people a day, we will receive the fruits of our labors--in his due time. "Whether by mine own voice of the voice of my servants, it is the same." We had a 27 day contacting streak and last Monday we broke it. We were disappointed, yet SO proud that we consistently contacted 20-a-day for such a long period. That habit is now ingrained in us and we still continue to want to keep contacting that many each day.

I relate our experience over the past week to the people of Alma, who were under the burdens of Amulon. At first they experience incredible burdens and hardships, even though they were following the commandments of God and doing "everything right." "Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith" (Mosiah 23:21). That's what happened to us a few weeks ago when our investigators all dropped us. Yet, we "did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" and continued working hard and contacting 20-a-day. The Lord was always with us. Although the following week was not a huge success, our "burdens were made light" and we were able to continue working. Finally, after the trial of our faith, the Lord did deliver us out of bondage and we received a great harvest with many sheaves upon our backs this week. Five investigators came to church without any forcing, pulling or tugging; people are progressing; we are finding many, many new investigators, many of whom are prepared and eager to learn. I do love the Lord and the way that he works--however, mysterious they may be. I am a better, stronger, more devoted servant of the Lord now, because of the hardships I faced during the past few weeks. I will forever be grateful for that trail of my faith, because I grew in the opposition and came out better and stronger. In other words, I "endure[d] it well."
Well, I love you all. Thanks for all your support and love!
Love,
Sister Burt

Monday, March 22, 2010

Contacting Cowboys

Hey Everyone!
Glad to hear that the Spring Break was great! That Dad is doing well, etc. In comment to Marshall's Cancun trip, I would say to definitely go to Xel-Ha (the scuba diving refuge). That was definitely worth it and so fun. The ruins are a cultural site that makes the trip a lot more fulfilling. I heard that it's possible to get a LDS tour guide, which makes the tour WAY cooler, but I don't know if that's possible. And of course, jet-skiing is fun. Also, around that time, the turtles should be coming up and laying their eggs on the beach, so tell him to look out for that. But yeah, I'm excited that he gets to go.
Things in Raymondville are looking up. We were able to find a few new investigators that seem to have potential (but don't they ALL seem to have potential when you first find them? It's so interesting to me that sometimes during the first lessons, we meet people and they are so grateful that we are there. They tell us that we are "answers to their prayers" or "angels." Usually if they pray, they thank Heavenly Father that we were able to come and teach them. SO it's just interesting to me that people are like that initially, yet sometime down the road they loose their zeal, forget their focus or get attacked by Satan which makes them fall out of the funnel. It really is a straight and narrow path that leads back to God.
This week we were in Lyford walking on one of the outer streets. Outside of the main town, are just farms and country roads. We noticed a ranch with quite a bit of people and lots of horses. We decided to walk up the dusty road, until we reached the corral, so that we could talk to them. They were all cowboys--partially at least. I'm not quite sure how "legit" they actually were. The were on a 192 mile ride (on horseback, of course) from somewhere to Harlingen. They were stopping here for the night. It was funny because they were all crazy (at this point it was only 3 o'clock and, of course, they were all drunk. Everyone in Texas is always drunk). They had country music playing, but my favorite part was that the music kept switching back from classic twangy country, to classic twangy SPANISH country--something I'd never heard before. Oh course, they really weren't interested, but it's ok. We gave them all that chance. But it definitely was a contact to remember.
We found some neat investigators last week. We were contacting on a street Monday night and came to this house that was blasting obscene rap music--I mean BLASTING. We decide to knock it and this high school girl and her older Sister come to the door. We talk to them briefly and they were excited for us to come back to their home and talk to them and their mom (recently, there was a death in the family). We stopped by in their home in Lyford a few days later and Carolynn (the high school girl) was sitting there waiting for us with her little 11-year-old sister, Christine. The older sister, Criselda, was sleeping and wouldn't wake up and the mom was too busy getting ready for work. So we just taught the girls. It was a brief introductory lesson and we left them with a plan of salvation pamphlet. Right once we handed it to her, Carolynn grabbed a book from the counter called, "The Purpose of Life" and said the she just started reading it last night. She is really interested and searching and wants to know. She was brave enough to give the closing prayer and prayed right then and there to know if what we were sharing was true. She committed to read the pamphlet and continue praying.
We came back two days later to find both of the girls, ready and waiting, but also another surprise--their cousin Fernando. Carolynn told him about what we shared and he was so excited. He actually was at the house a few hours before we first visited and told us that he was so sad that she didn't tell him because he would have liked to have stayed. He's very cool, friendly and outgoing. He is a bit on the feminine side, has diabetes and so sometimes gets sad about his weight. But overall, he was very amiable and upbeat. We taught all of them the plan of Salvation, using Sister Farr's little visuals displayed on the floor. They loved it and at the end, asked us so many question--some relating to the plan and others not. Fern asked a particularly important question when he said, "My question is, why are their so many churches?" We told us that that is what we talked about and helped people come to know. We actually ended up leaving all of them a Book of Mormon. We have another appointment tonight and we're taking, Louie, a fellow classmate of theirs who recently was baptized.
Other than that, there's not much more news. This has been a huge recovery week for us, having to go back to ground zero to find new people. We contacted 211 people last week. Normally, you're doing great and reaching the Standard of Excellence when you contact 140. So yeah, we definitely had a lot of finding time last week.
But my time is up! It comes and goes so quickly. I love you all. I hope you have a great week!
Your Friendly Neighborhood Missionary,
Sister Burt

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pictures

Me & Sis Farr. I did her makeup all pretty for Zone Conference

When we got here, our house was infested with cocroaches. This is just one cupboard. Look at all the dead roaches & roach droppings...sick.

It's a Dog Eat Dog World Out There

Hey Everyone,
Oh dear! I 'm so sorry about Dad, first of all. Is he doing any better? Gosh, I hope so. I hope the Spring Break plans don't get cancelled.
Things here are going good in Raymondville. Well, honestly, what am I saying? Last week was a terrible disappointment. At the beginning of the week, we probably had about 20-25 investigators in our teaching pool last week and this week we are under 10. The week was pitiful. All of our VERY solid investigators dropped us. It was heart wrenching for most of them. Especially one man named Rigo, who was so excited for his baptismal date. He was ready to leave for church at 7:30 with a few of his kids when his wife came up to him and said that if he went to church, he'd be living in the street. "It's me or the church." It was really sad. He has a huge family and told us that obviously he can't abandon them. "I can just keep praying to God like I always have been, " he said. He and his wife were taught by the missionaries a few years ago, but she completely lost interest in the Bible and God and now wants nothing to do with it. It was hard because we never were able to actually meet her and invite her...I hope and pray that in a few months or years, her heart will be softened and the missionaries will find them again. That other family--Dora and Rigoberto--that we found, also called and semi-dropped us. We're not quite sure yet. We had an appointment on Wednesday, and they had to cancel because Dora had this test for work she had to study for; we rescheduled for Thursday at 8:30 pm and get there and she walks out and says, "Oh my goodness, I totally forget. I just got home and need to go pick up my kids from my moms. But I read the pamphlet, do you have any more literature to read? We were excited and gave her a Book of Mormon and told her that we were going to talk about it when we came again. Again, we rescheduled for Friday and then a few hours before, their daughter called us (10 years old) and said that they're family was leaving for the weekend. So...we'll see.
On a happy note, it appears one of my new talents is dog charmer. There are SO many dogs here in town and a few of the members/investigators have some pretty mean ones. Raul and Maria's home has a sign on the fence that says "Bewared very mean dog." (yes the "d" at the end of beware is not a typo) and also, "Bad Dog. Beware." Haha, well, this dog looks like Rex from Babe. He seems nice, but apparently he bites everyone and only like Maria and a few other people. I was determined to pet him, so after making friends with the pug (have you ever met a mean pug?) and the chow, I decided to slowly go towards "Gordo." After a few days of just walking by him on his chain, I finally went up to him and pet him. The same thing happened with Frances's Shar-Pei, whom she told everyone that he was REALLY mean and won't let you pet him. First off, Shar-Pei's are generally very mild tempered and I was confused. So after a while, I started going up to him and he'd bark and be mean. But eventually, he just needed some love and I got around to petting him. At her 16th birthday party yesterday, all the ward kids were over and the dog was playing with them all. The whole family was shocked because they thought he was mean. Not true. Haha.
Here are some quote from Raymondville (mostly from President Ramos):
  • "We have new Elders here in town." -Ramos
  • "Elders (referring to us), ladies first." -Ramos
  • In church: "Vamos a entonar el primer himno. En espanol, number one sixteen. And in English, sesenta uno." - Ramos.
Although the week was bad, as a whole, we had an amazing Saturday. We got up and were going to help an investigator move. Her name is Christina and she had to move out of her crazy drug house/trailer so that she could get her kids back. She needed to move into a "safer" environment--haha, yeah, I'm sure the druggies and the bar next door didn't help her situation. She broke her leg when he ex-husband came and pushed her down the stairs, so she needed some major help. We went over at 11 am, but she was no where to be found. We tried calling, but she never has been too good about answering our phone calls. So we just decided to go knocking for a few hours, until our next appointment. We did for a while, but weren't really feeling the street. We followed a prompting to go to another street where supposedly our investigators had moved. We went and ended up contacting a ton of people and taught a lesson and found a new investigator. Then, in the next few doors, we encountered Oscar and Patti--permagators from about October. They, of course, welcomed us in and had us sing for them (Patti thinks it's the greatest thing on the world when we sing, "OHHH! You sing so good! The boys never sang us songs." You meet a lot of interesting people on the mission and Patti and Oscar are definitely some of them. They met online and Saturday was their one-year-anniversary of their "finding each other." So romantic. We taught them a lesson, got a solid church commitment (like everyone in Raymondville. BTW, they didn't come to church) and then left. As we were leaving, we they invited us to their Carne Asada (Texas' version of a Barbecue) later that afternoon. As we were walking out, we saw that they had a mattress lying on the side of their home. Earlier that day, Christina's brother, Chano, called us asking if we had any sheets or an extra bed. He was rooming with Christina, but she was moving out and taking all the furniture (as it belonged to her), and now he and all the other guys were left alone in the trailer with absolutely nothing. Luckily, we had a lot of extra bedding and pillows from when we deep cleaned our house, and although we had thrown away most of the "junk," we decided to keep some just in case. We we got the sheets, pillow, and comforter all ready for him, but told him we didn't have a bed. Boy, were we in luck. This mattress was perfect! It wasn't a bed frame, but it would do. We called Chano, telling him we had the stuff, but we just needed to get ahold of someone to deliver the mattress.
We called us President Ramos, who said that he would be willing to help anytime. President Ramos is pretty much the world's biggest Cowboys fan. EVERYTHING in his home, yard, and on his trucks is Cowboys. I think the only time I've haven't seen him wearing Cowboys paraphernalia is on Sunday at church. He said he'd be wiling and for us to just give him a call.
We were about to go take a break, when we decided to take our break later in the day. We stopped by Christina's and she was finally home and packing up all sorts of things. She needed some boxes, so we left on a search to find some. We finally got ahold of about 8 banana boxes from HEB and came back. But by that time, she already was mostly packed up and didn't really need them. It was ok.
Then before our break, we decided to stop by a member, Sister Serrato, whose husband recently was put in jail because he didn't pay $1000 of child support. It's really sad, actually. She loves him so much and misses him a lot. She has 4 young kids, no driver's license, a car that is not legal to drive, so it's very stressful for her. She drives, but if she got caught, then the whole family would be out of luck. He recently was put in jail last week and so it's been pretty hard. We talked with her and shared the Gospel and it helped.
After eating chicken and veggies, and a quick 30 minute power nap, we got a call from Chano (actually, he woke me up from my nap, but it was all good because I would have slept over anyway). He told us that he missed our call. We told him about the stuff we got ahold of and he was SO grateful. "Dang! You got connections." We'd stop by later that day to deliver the stuff. We went to the Carne Asada, taught some more lessons, taught an awesome lesson with Rigo (now dropped... :( ) and the next thing we knew it, it was 8 pm. Presidnet Ramos was finally back from Harlingen and could deliver the mattress. We picked it up and dropped it off to Chano and he was super grateful. Turns out, that he and Ramos are old school buddies. It was a crazy long day, but it was really rewarding to be serving and teaching in so many ways.
I know that this week has really been a trial of my faith. Funny how I'm working on "faith" this transfer. The trial always comes and the witness always comes after the trial. I know that we experienced this week, so that we could appreciate the good. As Eve said in Moses 5:11, "AnWere it not for our transgression we never should have had seed and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient." It's very true. Without the fall of Adam and Ever, there would never be any joy or happiness because we wouldn't have known any better. I'm grateful for the hard times because they make me appreciate the good that much more. What a wonderful plan our Father in Heaven has created for us--it is perfect and really allows us to choose good or evil. We know the difference so that we can truly choose what we want.
Love you all! Have a great week!
Love,
Sister Burt

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oh, An Intellectual

Mom and Family,
Glad to hear that everything is going well. Ok, to first answer your question about the bale of ties from a few weeks back in Brownsville. I thought I explained this a few months ago, but I guess not. A "Bale of Ties" is literally what it sounds: a bale of ties. In Brownsville is the only place where you can buy them. They gather up about 200 pounds of ties and just bundle them together. The majority of the ties are duds, but in every bale there are quite a few amazing ones: nice patterns, silk, brands, etc. I guess they are just ties that the department stores or other stores couldn't sell, so eventually they trickle down the country until they make it to the very tip of Texas. They only cost $20 and the Elders go crazy over them. They all pitch in to by a buy and then just demolish through it to find the good ones. Elders in this mission are frequently wearing Burberry, Prada, Banana Republic, and many other brand names. Very vogue and posh. Haha, so yes. They Elders thought that we would want their left over bale (why, I'm not quite sure), and then gave it to us. We also have a rummaged through bale here in Raymondville that the Elders left in the garage when they moved. We've put them all in garbage bags and it takes about 6 big black garbage bags.
Anyways, things have been going really well here in Raymondville. This past week was amazing and we had so many wonderful, spiritual experiences together. Sister Farr and I get along quite great which is nice. Our home is finally clean and spirit-filled, which makes it relaxing on breaks or at night. I think that mosquito season is beginning because I'm getting bit like crazy. Luckily for me, I'm not a big itcher, so they bite me and it feels annoying, but I don't itch. Other missionaries, though, have crazy scars all over their legs, which is sad. Oh, if you kind of want to see what the town is that I'm serving in, go to Google Maps, and then click "Street view." It will give you an actual picture of every street and what the town looks like.
My camera finally bit the dust. It no longer takes pictures. I guess that's not quite bad considering it was a high school graduation gift--nearly 5 years ago. Don't bother getting me a new one. I just use my companions camera and then we exchange all of the pictures onto my memory card. I just want to save and get a super nice camera when I get home. :)
Raymondville really is such a small town. We'll be talking to members and asking them if they could come out to a lesson with us and they'll ask the person's name. We'll tell them and 9 times out of 10, they'll say, "Oh yeah, I know him." It's hilarious, but it makes it great for fellowshipping. We contacted this high school boy last week outside of his home and introduced ourselves as the missionaries. "Hey, we're the missionaries." "Yeah, I know. They talked about you at school." I was a bit taken back and asked what he meant by that, did they talk about or study Mormons in one of their classes? Or what? He said, "No, people have just been saying that there are new Mormon girls in town." So we definitely are noticed. I didn't think people would really recognize who we were because there haven't been Sister missionaries here for 20 years, but...apparently not.
We were working a street called La Jara in Lyford (the other small town that we also work), and I saw a boy all the way at the end of the street. We were walking to Sister Saldana's home to teach her, but I decided that I needed to contact him. He was walking down the street like Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" with his "nose stuck in a book." Hmmm...I thought to myself. An intellectual. I need to talk about the Book of Mormon. He'd love it. I ran up to him and had to tap him on the shoulder as he was turning into his driveway. Even though I was calling, "Hey!" from down the road, he couldn't hear me because he had his headphones in. As he turned around, I caught a glimpse of the title, "Making Out: A Tips and Tricks Guide." Oh brother. So much for my "he's an intellectual idea."
We met a really cool man the other day named Rigo. He lives in Lyford and has his own welding company. He is really neat and actually, looks exactly like the actor Liam Neeson--but with darker skin. It's crazy. But we met him and he was really excited for us to come back. Before our appointment, he called us asking if we "had one of those Mormon Bibles, but in English." Turns out that the missionaries taught him a few years ago, but gave him only a Spanish version. He came to church and some activities. So we taught him and he was thrilled to learn more. He accepted a Baptismal date on the first short visit and even before we left was asking us so many questions about baptism: what your wear, what you do, etc. It was great. We're visiting him tonight, and I'm really excited to see where it goes.
Last week, we were in Lyford and saw that the circus was in town. We were stoked to go on Pday because there hasn't been much to do here. Well, Wednesday night we had coordination with the ward and afterwards, the ward mission leader invited the missionaries to Dairy Queen (a weekly tradition). We had already accidentally scheduled an appointment at 8:00, right after and couldn't go. We started driving to the appointment in Lyford. This man was one of the new investigators that the old Elders found a week before we came. Since then, we hadn't been able to find him. It was 3 weeks and we were ready to drop him, but we finally found him and he was excited to see us. That's why we set the appointment for Wed. at 8 because he works a lot and that was the only time. We started driving there and noticed that the Circus was in full swing! We also heard news that the circus was only going to stay one day. Bummer! We were SO tempted to just stop by and look at the elephants and tigers--since we weren't going to get the chance later. But, we decided that that was NOT a good idea. We drove up to his house and it appeared no one was home. "We should just leave and go to Dairy Queen with the other missionaries. He's probably not even home." But I wouldn't allow that thought to last because that's what I thought about Charlie and Connie and they got baptized! We knocked and he was there. The whole family was there: mom, dad, and kids. All gathered around us in their kitchen chairs, eagerly listening. The wife--Dora--actually opened up to up and explained her frustrations about why there were so many churches. It was a great lesson. We left and went back to the car, so thrilled about our new family we found. We realized that Satan tried to put a lot of obstacles--one of them as big as a big top...literally!--to prevent us from teaching this family! I'm grateful that we were able to pass through the trial of our faith and diligence and reap the rewards.
Well, my time is up. I love you all. This has been such a great experience for me. I'm grateful for my Savior and that if we come unto him, he always has a better way prepared. 3 Nephi 9:13 says, "Repent that I may heal you." That is true is all senses.
Love you so much!
Sister Morgan Burt

Monday, March 1, 2010

Family,
I'm stressed out right now because the computers here in Raymondville are lame and some of them don't have the right settings for the new MyLDSMail. Yeah, it's really getting me stressed out because we don't have hardly any time and pday and I already get stressed out enough as it is, but this is just throwing a wrench in my plans... ugh...
Anyways...things in Raymondville (have you noticed nealy all my areas have ended with "ville" haha) are doing the same. There's stilll about 5 million random stray dogs and cats all over, I nearly got bit by one, I contacted someone while he was giving another guy a tattoo. All in a day's work in Raymondville.
Ok, first things first. Remember that awesome old, golden couple--Connie and Charlie--that we found our last week in Beeville? Well, I was looking at "The Harvester"--the mission newsletter that we get each transfer at Zone Conference and it shows all the baptisms in the mission...and they got baptized in January! I was SO excited when I read it, I felt like crying. It's really cool to see and imagine them. I guess I wasn't the one who got the harvest, but Sister Call and I were the one who started cultivating the seed. I've heard news like this for other former investigators: Brenda and Maria (Margarita's daughters from McAllen, remember, the 10 year old who would read in the Book of Mormon all the time?), they got baptized! (Margarita, I guess is still waiting on getting divorced, but in the other Sisters visiting, the dad eventually started listening. Turns out, the reason he seemed uninterested before was because he's illiterate and doesn't know how to read.) So yes, the Lord's work continue's on, even though the missionaries leave.
So last Wednesday was Zone Conference. Sister Farr really has been wanting some highlights in her hair since she found out that Sister Bustillos (a professional hair stylist) gave me some in Beeville (which have long since grown out...yikes!). Well, she wanted to buy a box of hair dye and I was not cool of that because that's just not good for your hair. Then she wanted to go to a place to get them done, but when she found out that they would cost $45, she lost interest. Well, last Tuesday after District Meeting, we all went out to eat with a Sr. Couple--The Ott's--who were leaving for their home the next day. Right outside of Cici's Pizza Buffett was a Sally's. We ran in and bought a one time use supply of hair bleach. Then that night, she wanted me to give her blonde hightlights. Now, what is the problem with this situation? Oh yeah, right, I'm not a hair stylist, nor do I know how to give hightlights. I think I did ONCE, for Brittney, Alex's sister, where Alex and I (at the same time) gave her highlights. Haha, I had the left side and she had the right. I'm sure you can imagine how those turned out.... Anyways, I've had my hair done since I was 13 and so I have seen it done so many times before. I mean, in THEORY, I know how to give highlights. But then again, in theory communism works...in theory. But I just trusted myself: I was going to give her a partial and put extra blondness around the crown to brighten up her face. She already is pretty blonde naturally, so it wouldn't take that long to process. We bought 30 developer for the bleach. Alright, so I got our foils ready, got the little bowl of bleach all mixed up and started dividing her hair into three sections. Sides and then front. I started doing it and realized after the first one that this might be a little harder than I thought. I think I took about 10 minutes on the first weave. Yikes, at this rate, by the time I get to the other side, her hair on THIS side is going to be fried. But I hurried and finally got into a groove and got the hang of it. Now during this whole time, one of our investigators, (well, not officially) called us (it's around 9:45 pm) and started asking Sister Farr all sorts of questions. It was funny because he could hear the foil in the background and he asked, "What are you doing?" and she was embarrased to say that she was getting her hair done so said, "Making pasta." Haha, nice cover. Anyways, in the middle of this, I look into the kitchen and see this giant black thing skuttle over from under the stove to the fridge. I start freaking out saying, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh." Sister Farr immediately thinks that I had done something to her hair and says, "What did you do? What happened?" But I didn't have time to talk. I ran over and grabbed our "roach shoe."--an old shoe that the Elders left behind. Anyways, I thought it was a spider, but then again, it didn't move like a spider. I moved the fridge out--fearing that whatever it was was going to climb up my leg--and there I saw it: a GIANT 3 inch cockroach...probably the mother of them all. Well, I'm sure you know what happened next: I wacked that thing with the shoe and then hurried back to finish Sister Farr's hair that was still processing during this whole fiasco. Anyways, that's my story. And how did her hair turn out, you ask? Actually, she's OBSESSED with it and it looks SO good. Turns out knowing the theory DOES work in practice.
Yesterday Sister Farr and I were walking down a street that we had partially contacted. We finished it and started walking back. But I had something tell me that we needed to contact this one house. Usually, we contacts full streets and then move onto another street. If one house is on the street we are working on (perhaps a side door or something), but the front door or mailbox is on another street, we wait until later when we contact that other street. That's what happened with this little white house. It wasn't TECHNICALLY on the street we were one. But I said, "Let's go contact it." So we did and there was a couple with a baby inside. They invited us in and we taught them about the Restoration and gave them a Book of Mormon. It was just the last lesson we needed to complete our weekly goals. I was so excited and glad that I followed the Spirit's prompting to go knock it.
Earlier this week, we knocked on a door about 7:45 pm. I'm not a big fan of contacting people at night becuase to me--personally--it's a bit creepy to have two girls wearing coats standing outside in the dark on your porch (one member said that when he looked through the peephole, we looked like Jawa's from Star Wars). Anyways, we knocked on this woman, Maria, and she invited us in. There was something off about her house (and I'm not talking about the dog stench that she was apologizing about). We started talking a bit and asked if we could give a prayer. She said, "Yeah, I guess that's ok. I don't do it." Well, it became evident through asking her questions that she didn't believe in God. It was sad. We tried teaching her about how God exists and loves her. But when we asked her her feelings about it, she said, "Honestly, I'm frustrated that your trying to force your beliefs on me." We definitely weren't doing that. We left, leaving her a pamplet about the Plan of Salvation and an invitation to pray. Immediately after, we went and taught the Branch President and his wife and the difference in the home was SO different. It was evident what was missing in that other woman's home: the SPIRIT! She had completely distanced herself from God that she wasn't even able to have any sort of Spirit or Light of Christ in her home. It was sad and made me grateful for the knownledge that there IS a God. That he lives and loves each of us. As King Benjamin taught in Mosiah 4:9, "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
I know that God lives. He is our loving Father in Heaven. He has a remarkable and perfect plan for our happiness. The fruit of the Gospel is so good, if only we would reach out to grab it. I love you all.
Adios from Texas,
Sister Burt