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!
Sister Burt

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