Monday, April 12, 2010

Always an Adventure. Always.

Hey Family!
Well this was a great week this week. It's absolutely mind boggling to me how fast the weeks are going by now. Every week goes faster and fast. Yikes. Zone Conference was last week and it was amazing, as usual. It's always inspiring to hear from President Miller and receive personal revelation from the Spirit during those meetings. One thing that I'm grateful for is that on my mission, I have really learned how to recognize and follow the Spirit at all times. The more faithful, obedient, and diligent I am, the more I am able to feel it. Also, Sister Farr and I won the "cleanest car award." I was SO happy because I've never won it before (even though I thought my car was clean and we cleaned it every week). I always thought that the winners bribed the Car Elder or just did an incredible deep cleaning the day before (even though they probably hadn't cleaned or washed their car the whole transfer). But we kept our car clean, and detailed the inside and we won. I was so happy. Apparently the shape of the cars, as a whole, isn't that good because Sister Miller had to come up at Zone Conference and talk about how she is so displeased with the grungy interiors of the car (she did the car checks this time), and how if we don't shape up, the mission will lose a lot of the cars. Haha.
Quote of the week: "Do they have fresh coffee at church?" --The Dad of an Investigator. Um... no, no we don't.
We found of lot of new investigators this week and we even had one find us! We were going home at 8:55 at night and I really was craving a Dr. Pepper. So, since we needed to fill up on gas anyways, we dropped by the local Stripes to pick up a fountain drink. Now, Stripes is the local celebrity here in Texas. It's the local convenience store, there's really nothing special about it, except maybe that they all have "The Laredo Taco Company" inside them, which serves fresh tacos and Mexican food daily. It's kind of like the QT of Texas, but definitely not as nice and not as cool. Anyways, I was getting my drink when a lady came up to us. At first I thought she was this old investigator who kept avoiding us for weeks and moved away and didn't tell us where her new address was, so I was a bit confused why she was approaching us. This woman started talking and said, "You haven't come by for a long time. I haven't seen you." I realized (thanks to Sister Farr filling me in), that she wasn't Christina, but rather, PATTI, an investigator of the Elders from when we first got here. She wasn't progressing, or rather, doing much of ANYTHING. So we dropped her and told her that we couldn't come by anymore until she was ready. Well, she really wanted us to come back, so we set up an appointment for Saturday night.
We came by and she was excited to see us. We started asking her a lot of questions about why she wanted us back, what she wanted in her life, etc. We were committed at Zone Conference to share simple scriptures, to extend bold commitments and to ask more effective questions. The assistants talked about if we are teaching the same way, using the same scriptures, and asking the same questions that we did 2 months ago, then we need to repent. The Gospel is about constant growth and the minute we stop growing, we stop being effective. Those ideas really hit me and the thing that kept coming to my mind was, "We don't teach lessons, we teach people!" It's so true. How many times do I go into a lesson and think, "We're going to teach a first." Well first off, we don't teach a first, we teach about the Restoration, and secondly, what if that person doesn't need the Restoration right now? So we've been working on focusing on the PEOPLE and discovering their needs through effective question asking.
By doing this, Patti immediately opened up to us. She told us that she missed us coming over. That once we stopped coming over, the feeling we had with us stopped coming. She said she missed that and wanted it again. We told her that that feeling is the Spirit and that she could have it all the time with her if she was willing to do her part. We committed her to start repenting and making the changes in her life. She accepted to be baptized also. It was great. The next day we came back and watched, "Together Forever" and she was crying afterwards and said that she related to so many of the people in the video. I guess I really underestimate the effect the Spirit has on our investigators. We are just so used to having it with us all the time, that we don't even really realize it. It's just a part of life. But for the people we teach, it's new, exciting, and something they DESIRE.
We had had 4 people at church from 3 different homes. It was great. Church has always been the thing that I've struggled the most with, but during the past few weeks, the Lord has blessed us so much and people are coming. We had an investigator who came to Conference, but then he wasn't there for our appointment (he's a bit fickle), and so we didn't see him all week. We procured a ride for one of our other investigators who lives right by him, but David wasn't there. So we just told the member to go to church. But I remember that as I said it, I thought, "You should go visit Chano." I thought to myself, "Um...Chano's been MIA all week, I don't want to go pound on his door at 8:30 and wake him up if he doesn't want to go. He has his agency." Well, I should have followed that prompting, but I didn't... We talked to Chano no less than an hour after church and he said, "Where were you? This morning, I was all ready to go and even though I hadn't seen you all week, I still was waiting, hoping you'd come by." In that moment, I felt horrible for having ignored a prompting from the Spirit. I promised him that we'd come by every Sunday from now on, even if we see him or not.
So remember that woman, Mary, I told you about a few weeks ago? We had been visiting these trailers for a long time, until finally, she ran up to us wanting a "blue Bible?" Well, we started teaching her and set a baptismal date. We were excited, but then we came back to her trailer to find out that she had moved! She didn't have a phone so we couldn't find her. I remember her saying that she was moving somewhere on San Francisco street, into apartments that used to be an old store. Well, that wasn't too hard. We drove down the street and started checking off all the places she couldn't be living, "House...house...trailer...house." Finally, we came to a place that is a 24/7 garage sale, inside this large building. We parked and realized that this was the place. Apparently, they don't like strangers there, so everyone kept coming up to us saying, "Um, can I help you?" They didn't know Mary, so we went to the Land Lord's office/home.
I started laughing as I knocked the door. There was a sign posted that said, "Knock. If I don't answer BANG real loud because I might be upstairs in the bath." Haha, it was just the most random sign. We knocked and the people shouted from the other room, "Come in." We came in and saw this old woman at the head of the table (Olga); her grown, real-estate agent Nondenominational daughter (Yolanda) and this random, sign painter (Juan). We asked if they knew a Mary and immediately Yolanda spouts off the address where she moved. Thanks. We were about to leave when Olga asked us if we wanted some Avocado Salad. Wow, I was surprised. That was the first time that I haven't been offered something that's not fried, made in lard, or smoked outside on the BBQ. This time it was a salad? And a healthy one? So we sat down in the cluttered room at an even more cluttered table. There was an overflowing glass of orange soda that apparently someone had forgotten about. As Sister Farr sat down and was moving some things around so that she had room, Yolanda saw a cockroach and swiped it off the table in one clean motion (according to Sister Farr, the cockroach was in the process of having babies...haha). We ate our salad, and then of course we were offered more food. Orange soda that they kept refilling anytime we got halfway done. And then Yolanda said, "You like Tamales? Here we have some frozen ones, I'll go heat them up for you." I didn't even get to say "Yes" or "No" before she had rushed into the kitchen. Of course, we ate bread (you always eat random white bread with every meal if they don't have tortillas). We each had a half of an avocado as well to add into our salad. Crackers. Then after the tamales, she brought out "Pan Dulce" which is just like donuts and such. It was crazy, but pretty typical.
We started sharing about what we do as missionaries and Yolanda wasn't listening, but Olga was. Juan was an incredible interrupted who claims to be a prophet. Apparently, he prophesied--in jail--that something was going to come and destroy the prison because of the way the black guys in jail were treating him. He got out and a few months later, Katrina happened. We would get 3 words in and then he'd butt in and start talking about something else he foretold. He sang us this song that he wrote in prison and I wish I had my camera out, because it was classic. We wanted to sing a song, and then Yolanda left to "clean up." She claimed to be super religious and goes 4 times a week, but now was too busy for us. After the song, Olga said, "You know, Yolanda. This reminds me in the Bible when Martha and Maria were with Jesus. Mary listened, but Martha was too busy doing chores and cleaning just like you are." It was actually pretty insightful by Olga. "Oh mother. If I don't do it, it won't get done." Olga then said, "Do you see these two women" (by the way, the whole time this conversation was in Spanish) "Do you see the LIGHT that they have that you don't? You claim to follow Jesus, but you don't have that light. I see darkness." I was shocked about how bold Olga was with her daughter. Before we left, we said a prayer and walked out with 2 oranges each in our hands. It was definitely a night to remember. We were directed to Mary, the ORIGINAL person we were searching for, and she was grateful that we had found her and so am I--even if we had a little crazy adventure along the way.
Always an Adventure. Always.
Love,
Sister Burt

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