Monday, April 5, 2010

Speed Reading

Hey Family!
Happy Easter! I know it's late, but still. Happy it was! Thank you for the little Easter package that you sent me! I loved it and the chocolate did not melt. YAY! And mom, how did you know I needed a new toothbrush! That package came just in time! :) Love the stationary and everything else! :)
It was a great week in the beginning and definitely as the weekend approached it slowed down. We were grateful that we were blessed with so many lessons at the beginning of the week, and we were expecting to reach all of our goals for lessons by Saturday, but--like I said--the holiday threw it off, unfortunately. Just like Christmas, no one wanted to listen. Here we were, messengers from God preaching about the Easter, the Atonement and Resurrection and people refuse. I don't think people even really care or KNOW what is the real reason for Easter. It's funny that yesterday was the day of Christ's resurrection--the crowning moment of the Atonement; it is the day that through belief on him, everyone could be saved from sin and death as they repent and obey the commandments. Yet despite this, I noticed that the majority of the world was actually breaking the commandments and making Christ suffer even more. As if they were throwing his suffering back in his face and mocking him just as the Jews did as he was trekking up to Golgatha.
Conference was AMAZING, wasn't it?! Wow. As the last session was coming to a close, I wanted to cry. I couldn't believe that it was over. I felt the Spirit speak to me so many times, witnessing to me of the divinity of the work, of Christ, of the speakers and of the message they so valiantly proclaimed over the pulpit. I loved every minute of it--even the hours where I didn't get really to hear the morning Session on Sunday because so many children were noisy and yelling. I loved those moments too. I learned a lot.
Last week we were back at the trailers that we seem to always be at. It seems that we have taught EVERYONE who lives there. No it's not a trailer park, just a random lot that has about 3 trailer homes parked on it. We started off with a referral, ended up teaching his sister, then him, then he moved away, then she moved away, then he moved back, then we taught his buddies, then he disapeared, then they all moved out, and it goes on and on. As we were leaving the trailer after finding that everyone had moved, I said hi to a random guy who is always there, but never was interested. He was just sitting his chair and I felt prompted to say hello. We hadn't really greeted him for a while, as he wasn't investigating and wasn't interested in us. After saying hi and turning to walk away, he said, "Hey, next time you come, I'll listen to you guys. I'm always here." Wow. We came back the day of the appointment, but a in the daytime (the appointment was at night). We talked to a different person and then saw David, sitting outside. "You'll be here tonight?" "Yep," he said. We were in our car with the keys in the ignition when I said, "We need to teach him now." I felt the Spirit prompt me to teach him now, while he was there and we saw him. So we did. It was a nice, short lesson. Later, 30 minutes before our appointment, we were on the other side of town and saw him pass. We went to the appointment with the guys and of course, they weren't there, but neither was he. I was really grateful that I followed the Spirit to teach him earlier when he was there--Heavenly Father knew that he would't be there at night, even though he's "always there." We left and as we were leaving the property, two little boys in red tshirts ran up to us from David's trailer and said, "HEY! Do you have a Bible?" And interesting thing to hear, let alone from two young boys that wouldn't be able to go on any of the rides at an amusement park due to their height. "Yeah, why?" I said. The mom walked out and said, "Do you have a Bible? One of the blue ones?" "Yes, let me go get it." I always carry around copies of the Book of Mormon with me, and I'm pretty sure she was referring to the Book of Mormon, but just in case, I went to the trunk of the car and got the Bible. I presented both to her and said, "Which one?" "Um.. this one," she said pointing to the Bible. But as I started fanning through the pictures of the Book of Mormon, she said, "NO, that one!" I gave it to her and explained that it was different from he Bible, "I know, I like this one better. I can actually understand it. I read it to my children at night but left mine in Georgia." Well, turns out that she is David's aunt who just moved here from Georgia where she was ALMOST baptized. She moved away a few days before her baptism. After we taught David, she came into town and he told her about our lesson. Then she sought us out to have us teach her. I know that by following that initial prompting to teach David earlier in the day, provided us with the opportunity to no only teach him, but to find his aunt. I'm grateful for the Spirit and that I am able to recognize its promptings so clear now and follow them.
I did something very interesting last week. An Elder in the district was carrying around a 1st edition replica of the Book of Mormon. I was intrigued as I have seen the image of that first printing many times on the Restoration DVD. I asked him if I could look at it and as I did, I was shocked to see that it had no verses. But rather it was like a novel: divided into the books of the authors, with a few chapters scattered about. I was especially intrigued by the forward at the beginning, where at the end, it says, "The Author." But Joseph Smith didn't write the Book of Mormon, I thought. I pondered the wording a bit and saw that on a few instances it mentioned him as the author, something that is different that the current version which clearly puts him as the translator. I gave it back to him giving thanks for letting me look through it. "What does it mean 'The Author.'" I asked. "Well, here's the thing Sister Burt, I don't care whether he wrote it or whether he simply translated it. All I know is that it's true and that's all that matters." I pondered it a bit in silence and soon after our district meeting started.
After the meeting, he came up to me and said, "Well, do you want to read it?" "What?" I said. "You can take it and read it if you want." "No, I'm ok. It'll take way to long to read it on the mission and it's yours anyway. You just got it, I dont' want to take it from you." He eventually convinced me to take it for the week. As I held it in my hands, I committed myself to read the whole Book of Mormon in a week. A task that I previously thought to be insurmountantable. I don't know if it was the competitive side in my that came out as he said, "Yeah, you can" or what. But as I was driving back to Raymondville, I started reading it's pages. I did some quick math in my head and determined that I would have to read about 84 pages a day to read all 588 by next District Meeting. So, off I went and I started reading. I read during breaks, I read during my personal study, I read in the car (my companion was driving), I read while I was cooking breakfast, and I read before I went to bed. After the first day, I thought, "Wow, this is going to be a lot of work." I apologized to my companion in advance for the silence that would emanate from me during the upcoming week. But, I read, read and read. And you know what? I finished it. I'm so happy and proud of myself. I remember when I was at BYU that a professor challenged us to read the first half of the Book of Mormon in two weeks. I remember that it was 20 pages a day and I struggled through the reading each night. Then before my mission, I wanted to read the whole thing in a month, but ended up reading it so quickly (as I had no job or anything really to do) that I finished it in 2 weeks. So I cut my time in half. A few transfers ago, I wanted to read the entire Book of Mormon in a transfer (6 weeks), but realized too soon that "missionaries don't have time to do that. We're just too busy." So I read half in a transfer. Well, I already had set myself up by saying, "It's impossible, it can't be done...ESPECIALLY as a missionary." But, turns out that if you REALLY desire something. You will find a way to do it--no matter what. The desires of our hearts are not reflected only in just thinking about wanting it, but actually DOING something about it. That's what showing our faith is: action. Upon reflecting on this event, I keep thinking of the quote from Utchdorf in October Conference:
"The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you."
That is true. I set my heart on it and completed my goal. I'm grateful that I was able to show faith, every day and in doing so was able to succeed. If I gave up one day, I would have really been out of luck and know that I would not have completed my goal because I barely finished in time as it was. That's faith, that's enduring to the end. I gained an incredible testimony of the Book of Mormon through this experience. I was able to see how the people, places and stories connect in ways that I never realized before. I know that it's true, for I have read it and followed Moroni's promise at the end. The Book of Mormon was written by prophets of God. I do know that there is no way that Joseph Smith could have written it, but either way, it is true and came from God. This I know.
Love,
Sister Burt

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