Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Much to Be Grateful For

Hello everyone!

Another week here in the CTM. And it was Thanksgiving! Which, let me tell you, is kind of underwhelming here. We had an actual Thanksgiving meal for lunch with potatoes and turkey and stuffing -- it was heavenly. But other than that, just a long day of classes and learning. I guess that about sums up everything, just learning and practicing teaching and reading and studying. And some occasional volleyball. But I digress! 

What I want to talk about this week, based on the holiday, is a few of the things I'm grateful for here on my mission:

1) The gospel and the Church. This really is all true, I know it now more than ever. It makes this whole thing a lot easier knowing what I'm doing it for...although it also puts a lot more pressure on me. This is eternal salvation we're talking about.

2) The Atonement. We watched a video this week and it was extremely touching. It was about the Atonement, with talks by President Eyring and Elder Holland in the background as scenes of Christ's life were shown. It was powerful, I felt the Spirit strongly, and felt increased love for my Savior. One quote by Elder Holland stuck out to me as he talked about missionary work. He said, in response to the questioning of missionaries why missions weren't easier, why people didn't accept the gospel, that "Salvation was never easy!" Christ's task was not easy, and neither is ours. We have to remember him.

3) Grasping the language. I know for a fact that the Spirit has to be helping me out with this. Though I'm still a long way from where I could be, I am learning at a ridiculously fast pace. I had a chance to practice teaching a pretend investigator this last Saturday, during which an instructor watches you via video camera and critiques you. Afterwards, he came in exclaiming that we were perfect, had no problems, and were ready to leave the CTM. He asked if I knew Spanish, and was surprised to hear that I'd only known English and some sad French until three weeks ago. He was probably exaggerating, but in any case I felt good and knew that it isn't me--it's a blessing from God.

4) An awesome companion and district. I got crazy lucky in that regard.

5) And I have to finish on this one and can't spend as much time as I would like. Impressions from the Spirit. They come to me frequently and keep me going through exhaustion. Answers to prayers, feelings of happiness and encouragement, and much more. I wish I had time to share a couple but my time is about up and I'd like to write to my family a bit more, haha.

With much love,
Elder Alex Burt

P.S. Write to me. Please and thank you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sao Paulo Temple

Elder Burt attended the Sao Paulo Temple this week.
Thanks to Sister Degn for sending us this great picture.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Learn, Learn, Learn!

Alex at Cheney's Cookie Shop on his P-Day
Oi, everyone, from your favorite missionary! This week I received somewhat fewer e-mails from my family, which means I have a bit more time to focus on talking to all of you. I'm sure the viewers number in the thousands. ;)

To begin with, let me talk about some of the fun things I've been up to. I wish I had more stories to share, but at this point everything is just learn-learn-learn, so I'm doing lots but haven't really done a lot of cool Brazilian stuff yet. P-Days (the day of the week when we get some time off, for those of you who don't know) are really great. We actually get to go around the local city and explore/buy things. It's really hard not to spend all of my money, there's so much cool, interesting stuff to get. The food is different, the language is different, but the people are just people... if a little bit nicer than the average American, haha. Oh, and also the Brazilian National Anthem is the coolest song ever. We sing it every Sunday, and I look forward to it each week.

As far as language study goes, I'm continuing to leap forward. I definitely have a semi-photographic memory or something, because I can memorize 35 vocab words with ease after reviewing them once. There's always a couple that throw me for a loop, but overall problems are minimal. I'm not saying it's me. I absolutely know it's Heavenly Father helping me out through the Spirit. Especially based on an experience I had over the weekend. I was getting frustrated with my companion a little bit for getting off task, and our relationship was clearly suffering. But even though I stayed on task diligently, I wasn't learning as well. On Sunday I realized that I was placing too little value in his extreme kindness, love, and humility. That day we started getting along better and now we're very much in sync. The next day in the morning I wrote down a few questions that I hoped to have answered throughout the day in study, relating to myself and the gospel. One of which was how to learn better or faster. That day I found that I was learning at an increased pace, and definitely received the answer that the secret, for me, to better learning is more love and humility ALONG with diligence. So yeah. Not only was my question answered, but I realized the importance of these qualities. And also learned a little bit about leadership in the Church from my companion.

More things to say in these last few minutes I have left...
1) Coolest thing I've learned in Portuguese: "Cool cool cool," for you Community fans, is "legal legal legal," pronounced like lay-gow. I say it all the time.
2) I heard that the Catholic church put out an official declaration recognizing us as Christian. I dunno if that's actually big news or not, but all news seems cool here!
3) Congratulations to Alivia Burnham on her mission call. I know she'll do a great job and I'm excited for her
4) And finally, WRITE TO ME!!! Talk to my family about the best ways to do it, but I love to hear from people. I really do. I like to hear what's going on, no matter how insignificant. Heck, just say you love me. I know you all do ;)
5) Ok, so not finally. Please forgive me for any horrible grammar mistakes I made, just know I'm on a tight schedule here. Forgive me.
Elder Burt

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More from Alex!

(Got this second email from Alex later in the day... here you go!)

Today we walked around Sao Paulo and it was really clear that we are, in fact, in Brazil. It's a really cool place, the drivers are all absolutely nuts, and everybody is friendly. I know where to buy everything. I went to Cheney's but didn't redeem my milkshake yet--I'm saving it for next week.

Andrew and Madeleine need to write to me via Cheney's--Gracie is the only one who e-mailed me. Silly geese. And again, post on my blog for people to e-mail me via Cheney's. Have I mentioned that enough?

Elder Costa, the general authority who set apart President Dudley, is the Area Authority here and spoke today. It was amazingly spiritual, as everything is in the CTM. He talked about some missionary stories from Brazil, and let me tell you, the work is going quickly down here. Brazilians are extremely ready to accept the word. Crazy exciting. 

Know that I'm praying for you and I can feel the prayers for me. I love you all so much.

Elder Alex Burt

(FYI... the mail service - Cheney's - that Alex is talking about is actually MissionTies, and they operate out of 'Cheney's Cookie Shop' which is near him.  You can purchase an email package through the MissionTies site, and here are the package plans.  If you planned on mailing Alex a few times a month anyway, then the package plan isn't too bad.  I think the cheapest is 4 letters for $9.49.  They'll print out your email, stick it in an envelope and deliver it to the CTM in Alex's mailbox.  He'll get it pretty quickly.  I guess the advantages are 1) it's via email so no going to the post office to buy pricier stamps to Brazil, and 2) he'll be getting news that's just a couple days old rather than 10 or so days old through regular mail.  You just need to remember to update Alex's address once he leaves the CTM in about a month.  Alternatively, if  you just email me your letter, I'll forward it on through the package plan that we've purchased, and he'll get it within a couple days.)

First Letter

Oi meus amigos!

Well, it has been a week here at the CTM (that's what we call the Brazil MTC), and things are pretty crazy. A wise man once told me that the best keys to a good mission are to work hard, love the people, and forget yourself. So I'll try to let you in on how that's been going.

So working hard isn't really an option here at the CTM. My schedule is
6:30--wake up and shower
7:00--Personal and Companionship Study
12:00-1:00--Language Study

Then dinner, computer lab, more study, gym, and more study. In the past week I'm fairly certain I've learned as much as I did in my entire first year and a half of French. I can really feel the Spirit helping me learn. Every day I learn about 30-50 vocab words, 5 gospel phrases, and a bunch of grammar. I had to teach my first lesson the third day I was here, so that was crazy. Obviously I didn't know that much Portuguese. But I love being pushed, I learned how important that was in acting, and they apply it here. I know I can take it.

Now for loving the people. I already do. We're encouraged to spend time with the Brazilian elders, and our district has no problems with that. In fact, our district is the favorite of the Brazilians. We had some friends leave yesterday--they were pro beat-boxers and rappers and all-around hilarious. One would always say "What the hot dog!" so our district now uses that as our catch-phrase. We don't know much of each other's languages, but we share the gospel. The Spirit is incredibly powerful here. I love it. We also made some new friends who we sit with at every meal. One has the same music tastes as me--he likes The Killers, Muse, Coldplay, The was a great talking point. They are all so nice and friendly, I can't wait to go help some of them to follow Christ. It's why I'm here.

As far as forgetting myself, the really hard part has been forgetting all of you. I miss you and love you. Write to me to let me know how you're doing. Know that the Church is true, and the mission field is the right place for me. I'll try to write more next week, I'm on a kind of tight time crunch here. Again, I love you.

Elder Burt

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Written by John Burt: Just in case you have an urge to do something fun for Alex, you can go to this website called MissionTies and send him a treat.  Alex will be at the missionary training center for the next nine weeks and this sweet shop nearby caters to the missionaries - so he'll get it within a day.  Brownies, milk shakes, cinnamon rolls, and apple pie are each under $5, plus about $2.50 for handling. Use his address in the upper right hand corner.  Thanks for thinking of him; we all miss him lots already and it's only been a couple days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Safe Arrival

Written by John Burt: We received a letter from the Mission President letting us know that Alex (Elder Burt) had arrived safely.  Here he is (far left) with the other new missionaries:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Written by John Burt:  It's Tuesday, Election Day, and while most of the country is obsessing over the vote today, our thoughts are with our son, Alex, whom we just took to the airport for his two-year mission.  As he stood there waiting for his turn at check-in, he seemed very capable and mature.  It contrasted sharply with the family videos we watched last night of Alex at 7 and 8 yrs old.  That wasn't so long ago, really.  I imagine the day, two years from now, when he returns to us, brimming with experiences of focused service and compassion toward others.  God be with you, Alex, you are a wonderful son and a great young man -- you will be a fantastic missionary, I know.

Here we are at the airport, waiting for his departure time:

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Write to Me

Hey everyone! This is my last personal post before I head out tomorrow. Before I go, I want to make sure people are aware of the best ways to contact me.
For the first month or so, I will be at a training center in Sao Paulo. My address there is:

Elder Alexander James Burt
Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission
Brazil Missionary Training Center
Rua Padre Antonio D'Angelo, 121
Casa Verde
02516-040 Sao Paulo - SP

After that, I will have a new address. I'll have my family update my blog at that point so you know what's up, but it should be safe to send your letters/packages to the mission office:

Elder Alexander James Burt
Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission
R. Sao Paulo, 1781 10 Andar
Ed. 17 de Maio, Sala 1001, Lourdes
30170-132 Belo Horizonte - MG