Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week of Madness

Holy moly, people. I would like to say that life in the office is not quite as chill as everyone makes it out to be. This week was absolutely bonkers, due to the placement of transfers, Mission Tour, and really important lessons all at once. But let me take this one step at a time.

1) The First Step - All right, so to begin with let me talk about last Sunday when the week started off right. We went to church a little early, hoping to meet our good friend Elton John. As he wasn't showing up, we went out front to wait and make some contacts, inviting people to enter the church. We weren't having a whole lot of success, until one point when we saw a middle-aged woman walking down the street slowly. She was crying. She stopped in front of the church, sat on the curb, and talked to someone on the phone while still crying.

She got up and started towards us again, and we quickly invited her into the church. She said that a friend of hers (a member of the ward) had invited her but that he wouldn't be here today. We said that wasn't a problem, we'd help her out, and invited her in. Her name is Monica. She was still crying and seemed a I don't know, not completely there, if you know what I mean. She drank a little water and sat down next to us in the chapel, still nearly sobbing. She was crying all the way through sacrament, but it was clear she was feeling the Spirit. During the talks she stopped and began to furiously take notes on a napkin she had in her purse. She would occasionally turn to us and ask questions, which we hastily answered and said we'd explain more afterwards. Her biggest question was about the nature of the Godhead. She turned to me and asked "Wait, I always thought that God the Creator came to Earth as Christ? Are they not the same?" And I said "There's God, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior and His son." I held up one finger on each hand. "The Father, and the Son." She seemed astonished and turned to my companion, repeated the question, and then held up her two fingers like I did and asked, "So there´s the Father and the Son?" He responded in the affirmative and she began to write more notes.

After sacrament meeting she heard about baptism, and absolutely begged us to baptize her. We said it would happen next week, after we taught her a few things and made sure she was ready. By the end of church she was crazy excited, hugging everyone (we had to let her know we couldn't give hugs as missionaries), and telling everyone about the baptism. It was amazing.

2) The Second Step - So the first time we got to actually teach Monica was on Monday. We went to her house after our day in the office, and taught the message of the Restoration, the Word of Wisdom, and the Law of Chastity. She heartily accepted everything, and just has problems with cigarettes and coffee. But when she heard that she couldn't use them if she wanted to be baptized, she agreed immediately to stop. At the end of the lesson, we had left her with the three pamphlets from the things we taught, along with a Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles book that she'd received in church. She seemed concerned, and asked us what she should read. I hastily said that the most important thing is the Book of Mormon. She looked very relieved and said that she was so happy I'd said that, because she had an extreme desire to read it and believed it was a great treasure when she looked at it, and she already believes it's true.

3) The Third Step - Break. Now let's move onto Tuesday and Wednesday, in which no teaching was done as transfers happened. And let me tell you, transfers in the office are absolutely crazy. First came the arrival of all the new missionaries on Tuesday. I tried my best to make them all feel welcome, I remember just how crazy it was for me just six short months ago when I was in their shoes. Especially the Americans. Today I also discovered that of my district from the CTM, five will be training this transfer, one went to the new mission and I believe is now senior, and I'm the new financial secretary. Also, with the amount of new missionaries arriving (it should be another 30 next transfer), everyone will train. It's a crazy time to be a missionary. Crazy and amazing.

So that night all of the missionaries stayed in our apartment. There were like fifteen elders there. And the next night, when there were people staying over for the Mission Tour with Elder Mazzagardi before going back to their far-away areas, there were twenty people in our house and us secretaries had to sleep in a hotel.  I think on both nights I wasn't in bed before 11:30pm, and I had to get up early too. Exhaustion.

4) The Fourth Step - Back to Monica for a bit. We finally got to meet with her again on Thursday, when we had a Family Home Evening with a member. Monica was crazy excited, couldn't stop talking about the gospel and the Book of Mormon (she'd read half of First Nephi already and had a clear understanding, and was even applying it to her life), has been sharing her excitement with everyone around her, and even had a dream about the cemetery where Joseph Smith is buried and how she wants to be buried there. Which was a little weird, but okay! She explained how she felt in a great way: that she is at the bottom of a great stairway, just getting ready to take the first step, and was amazingly excited to get started on this wonderful adventure. The only downer was the member telling her that she shouldn't be talking to other people so much because it will annoy them, and then telling us after Monica had gone that she couldn't wait for Monica to calm down. I really had to bite my tongue. It would not have gone well if I participated in that discussion.

Sadly, in any case, because of everything that happened this week and some commitments she had with family in the evenings, we didn't manage to teach Monica everything. Plus I don´t think she´s completely given up cigarettes yet. I was very excited to have a baptism on the same week as transfers, but she's still definitely getting baptized next week when things are a little calmer.

5) The Fifth Step - The week ended on a spiritual high, when I got to attend a mission conference, at which a member of the Second Quorom of the Seventy, Elder Mazzagardi, addressed us. It took up most of Friday with our half of the mission (the other half had their session on Thursday). The Spirit was amazingly strong and I learned a lot. Some of the most touching things to me were the thoughts he had on the Atonement, our ability to receive a spiritual experience like Nephi (1 Nephi 10:17-19, 11:1) if we pondered on what we learned, and a powerful discourse on the feelings of God. How he loves us and feels such sadness when His children make the wrong decision. I truly love my Heavenly Father.
Throughout the entire thing, he spoke entirely by the Spirit. He had a vague outline of what he wanted to say, but President (who was there both days) said that a lot of things were taught to us that were different then what had been taught to the others.

Afterwards, as a member of the staff, President Fortunato gave me and a few other missionaries the chance to be personally interviewed by Elder Mazzagardi. Mine was a last-second decision and it had to be quick because he needed to get to the airport. But in those few minutes of one-on-one time I felt the Spirit extremely strongly, and the general authority shared some words with me, without asking me anything, that were exactly what I needed to hear. He is definitely a servant of God and has the gift of discernment.

So that was my nutty week. I hope all of you are well and happy. I know I am! My testimony is burning bright and I'm so ready to keep working. I love you all, keep to the course, and remember who you are!

Much Love,

Elder Burt

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