Monday, July 26, 2010

Wrapping Up the Loose Ends

Hello from Texas!
Wow, this has been an incredible week! Gosh, I love my companions Sister Farr and Sister Fifita. It has been a joy serving and learning from the both of them. Sister Fifita is just loud and proud and laughs like there's no tomorrow, so it really makes everything lighter. So fun. But she and I were talking and we both know that we have totally gained weight these past two weeks. It's hard to try get skinny around a Poly Girl. :) Also, last night, we all took a photo shoot that was hilarious, but I'll have to show those pictures later. Just wait though, they look good.
Oh and small world. The other day, Fifita was watching a video of she and her Poly friends singing with their ukuleles at the MTC and she suddenly said, "What the heck!? That's you, Burt!" And sure enough, there I was in my week 2 of the MTC, standing next to the Poly kids trying to covertly listen to their amazing songs. Haha, it was so funny. Actually, after a few days of knowing each other her, she said, "Holy cow. I know who you are!" Turns out, that we were introduced in the MTC by her companion who was actually a girl, Sister Hawks, who I swam with. Small world.
Well, this week just flew by. We worked and worked and worked some more. Our trio actually has been more like a quadruple because Sister Martinez is always with us to split the work. We call her our "4th companion." We have so many appointments that we just go on splits and two the "companions" will go to the lesson and the other two will go to the other lesson or go contact while they are teaching. It's really fun. I wish I would have done this a lot earlier int he mission. Oh well, you live and learn, right?
Another reason why the week just flew is because I haven't really been counting down the days. It's funny because before Chelsea went to the MTC, she would write countdowns in her letters saying, "Wow, 74 days till I go to the MTC!" Well, I had to tell her that I don't really understand the whole "days" thing as a missionary because just live day to day, doing the same thing. We are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So counting things by days is pretty pointless. If we do count, it's in weeks because we are stuck on the "eternal 6 week transfer cycle." Anyways, as the weeks starting coming down, I tried to ignore it. But people kept counting down the days for me (such as, "Wow, 9 days till you come home!"), so it sort of hit me. I still couldn't get myself to count down the days, so I think that I subconsciously tried to avoid the whole situation because in my planner all last week, I just wrote down the days of the week, but not the actual DATE. I guess I'm trying to avoid the inevitable.
It was strange because the branch threw a going away party for me. I was so awkward and embarrassed about it because I've never been one to throw parties for myself. I don't know, but it's never been my thing. I guess I've always just assumed that I'm not cool enough and no one will come. So that's why I just satisfy myself with going to other people's parties. Hey, it's less work (more like no work) and I still get the enjoyment from the party. Anyways, they threw this party and all the details were a huge surprise (even though I could kind of tell that something was going down when we'd get random phone calls from Sister Calvo and Sister Farr would sneak out of the room). Well, it was just so fun and amazing. They decorated the whole church with all these paper flowers in honor of me because I ALWAYS wear flowers in my hair. Apparently, it's my trademark. But it was so cute and then at the end, all the members came up and said all these amazing things about me and I was just shocked. I really didn't think that I had made that much of a difference in the lives of the members, but apparently I had and it was another answer to prayer that the Lord was proud of me and the work I have done here on the mission. It's funny, we really don't have any idea what affect we have as missionaries. Sister Farr even went up and starting crying and told me how much of a difference I have been to her. How much I loved her and how that she has grown more these past 6 months that she ever has in her whole entire life. It was sad to be leaving her, but we'll still be friends afterwards. Also, haha, funny story. After a bunch of people had gone up, President Ramos said some stuff and then no one else was going up and he said, "Well, how about your sidekick?" as he pointed to Elder Arens. Elder Arens and I were sitting at two separate tables, but our chairs' backs were facing each other. We both just turned and looked at each other with a "What the heck" face. Haha. Elder Arens and I are GREAT friends and just joke around and all, but seriously, that's IT. Nothing else. Just friends. Solamente amigos. Nada mas. Haha, we just have the same type of humor and it makes the funny things in life, funnier. So yeah, we got a kick out of that later.
We found a neat family this week of 7 people: mom, dad, and 5 kids who are all of baptizable age! Yeah, seriously! They seem to have a lot of potential and the Sisters will teach them tomorrow after I'm gone. I've actually never baptized a couple or a family on my mission. It's sad, but I have learned to accept the Lord's will in all things. I know that my mission, every person I met, every baptism was because they were the precious souls that Heavenly Father prepared for me. They were active in their church in Harlingen, but two years ago, just stopped going. Now they live in Lyford and within the past year, started praying as a family and reading the Bible and, as a result, have seen SO many blessings. We talked to them for a while and helped them see that they can have even more blessings and even answered Sally's question about "after this life, will we recognize each other?" Only the Restored Gospel can answer those deep questions of the soul.
Well, I guess I'll give one last update on all the investigators you've heard about over the past few months--since this is my last email. Well, Angel (the "good looking" guy) we dropped, but he just kept coming back to church week after week (even though he would sleep and be semi-annoying during the whole thing. One day, he forgot what time the church started and got there at 6:30 am!) Anyways, he's still investigating, but "kicking against the pricks." We're still working on figuring out what his need is because he doesn't believe he needs to be baptized again and doesn't believe the restoration, but he comes still. Teresa actually dropped us last week. She finished the whole Book of Mormon, but he husband came down and didn't want anything to do with it. It was sad because she was learning so much and you could tell she was sad about it, but didn't want to mess things up with she and her husband since they've been split for 18 months. I know that in the future, things will calm down and she'll remember all that she learned and how she felt as she read the Book of Mormon. The "girls" Martha and Jessica, just stopped coming to church and random show up for activities, nothing more. There mom, Belinda, still uses drugs and drinks 34/7. We've even heard that Jessica, who is 11, has started drinking as well.... :(.
Last but not least is JOHN! He's set to be baptized on the 8th of August. I'm sad I won't be there for it, but I am grateful to have helped in the way that I could. He even went up at the ward party and thanked me personally in front of everyone for what I have done and how I have changed his life. He gets really choked up about it and says that he cannot find words to express how grateful he is. Gosh, I could just go on and on about him and his conversion story. He is so different, repentant, understands the scriptures, loves them, and when he came to the church, he described it very interesting. So he used to fight professionally and made a lot of money. Well, he said that before you fight someone, you can sense their "energy and power." You can just feel it. He said that when he came into the church, he felt the energy there. It was just so strong and he felt comfortable there and liked it. Yay. I am grateful that he is going to be baptized. He stopped drinking thanks to the blessing, has lost a lot of friends, but is still going strong because finally he has been able to see the fruit of his faith. It is springing up to the tree of life, which fruit is more desirable that all other fruit. What a blessing. His mom was baptized when he was 7 and he was never able to. Missionaries have come by there home who knows how many times over the past 30 years, and finally, the Lord prepared him to be ready now, when I am here, for me. I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways.
Wow. Not sure what to say. I love the mission. I love my companions. I love this work. I love all the people I've served with. I love who I have become. I know that this is the true church of God. That Jesus is the Christ and that he really did appear--with his Father--to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. Through him, He restored his Gospel in its fullness. We now are partakers of that today.
See you on the other side!
Love,
Hermana Burt

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