Sunday, July 28, 2013

Painful Celebrations, Obliviously Lost, and the Business Life

Alex with a recent convert
Welcome, everyone, to another weekly post by your absolute favorite missionary, Elder Burt. I'm Elder Burt, and I'll be your host today as we learn just a little bit more what it's like to be:
1) A Brazilian missionary
2) CFO of a major organization
3) Super cool

OK, so technically I'm still being trained and won´t be CFO for another month or so. Also, I´m not exactly sure how people here would react if they knew I was calling myself "CFO". But it's going to look awfully awesome on resumes this way. :)

So let's get to business! This week was slightly less crazy than the last, but I
still had a whole ton of work to do.

1) Painful Celebrations - For those of you who aren't familiar with Brazil, you should know that people here are completely crazy-go-nuts about soccer. It's pretty much what they live and breathe. So when the favorite team of Minas Gerais, Atl├ętico Mineiro, wins the South American championship, stuff explodes. And the championship was held here in Belo Horizonte. The entire previous day people were honking their horns, randomly shouting "GALO!" (which means rooster, the team mascot), and generally being excited. To win, Atl├ętico needed to beat the other team by three points. I didn´t watch it, I was already sleeping by the time it started. But when it ended (as I found out later, with a Galo victory after a number of penalties) I did not sleep anymore. The entire city went berserk: car horns, fireworks, literal explosions, shouting, screaming...people were pretty happy. The next 24 hours were exactly the same. People were sitting on their car horns all day, large fireworks were set off next to my office building frequently (one was set off just now), and I had a splitting headache by the end of Thursday. I like to see everyone so excited and happy, I just wish it was little more quiet.

2) Obviously Lost - So last week I talked a bunch about Monica, the investigator we found in church. Well, last Sunday she came to church again and pretty much repeated the crying/joy cycle she had the first time. And tomorrow she's getting baptized! She was interviewed this morning and tomorrow is the baptism.

The week in teaching her went well. We taught the Plan of Salvation and the spirit was very strong. We clearly explained it, asked good questions, and by the end she was excited for baptism and very excited to endure to the end to get to the celestial kingdom. A bit later in the week we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a couple of the commandments. At the beginning of the lesson she shared the things she learned/applied from the story of her favorite scripture hero, Nephi. It was a drawing of a tree, where the roots were the worthiness of humanity, the trunk was the commandments tied to the important characteristics we need to have (including faith, love, repentance, and endurance), and the branches were all the different people, who gave fruits based on their obedience to the commandments. It was pretty deep and during parts of it I was definitely lost, but it was cool to see that she is applying the Book of Mormon. As we taught the commandments, we ended each one asking Monica if she would live that particular commandment. Every time a look of surprise came over her face and she quickly said "Well, obviously!"  That´s what we like to hear!

Another interesting part of the story was today for the interview. Monica showed up at the church 45 minutes late, completely hysterical. Somehow she had gotten lost on the way from her house, even though she lives in the same neighborhood and has walked to the church several times already. She was freaking out about it, talked about how Satan was fighting against her baptism and we had to calm her down before the interview.

3) Never Coming Back Until Next Week - Another investigator we've been teaching for a while looked pretty unexcited when we showed up to teach on Friday. She had come to church for the first time last Sunday, and we were excited to keep helping her. She let us know quickly that it was too hard for her to get to church so early on Sunday, that she´d just go to a different church closer to her, and that life was too hard to keep the commandments. I shared a scripture in Mosiah 24:13-14, about the burdens being lifted from the people who lived righteously and relied on God. That they still existed, but were bearable, versus the people of King Limhi who tried to fix things on their own.

Then we taught the Plan of Salvation, not super clearly, but in a way that helped her. At one point I was explaining judgement day, and she sat back and said, "I just wish I could be born again!" We stopped for a second, paused, and I said, "and how could that happen?" After a bit, she said "I have to be baptized." Holy moly that was an awesome moment. She knows what she has to do, now we just have to see if she has the strength to do it. She definitely sees that the gospel is blessing her family, and said she would try her hardest to come to church on Sunday.

A close second in terms of great moments during that lesson came when the investigator's mom, a less active member who is firmly returning to church, was just sitting in the background the whole time praising Jesus and agreeing with us (she´s more than 80 years old). Then, when my companion was explaining the Terrestial kingdom and how we wouldn't live with our families or God, she obliviously said "Oh, Jesus Christ have mercy on us and lift us up to that place!" I had to stifle a laugh.

4) Business Life - Meanwhile, during the vast majority of my time, I was sitting at my desk in the office, making payments, resolving like a million problems that popped up this week with houses and contracts, and dealing with half of the missionaries running out of money due to transfers. It was kind of a stressful week, but I learned a lot and am really enjoying myself.

So that's the word. I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my good friend Riley Norton, along with a happy birthday to myself! In three days I will no longer be a teenager...that's pretty weird.
I love you all, and hope you have an awesome week. I know I'm here doing the Lord´s work. This week I had the opportunity to teach a lot about Christ and his Atonement, and to think a lot about it. I know that He is my Savior and that I can always rely on Him to help in whatever difficulty I'm experiencing. That's a wonderful knowledge.

Keep on keeping on, make the most of every day, and don't stop smiling!

Much Love,

Elder Burt

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