Saturday, November 9, 2013

Flying By

Elder Burt and companions
Hello, good morning, howdy all of my favorite people! Prepare yourselves for another spectacular and breath-taking letter from everyone's favorite Brazilian missionary. No, I'm not full of myself. It's just a lesson I've learned here on the mission: to be more honest.

 1) What'd I say?- Remember when I mentioned last letter that this week would be full of miracles and awesome stories? Yeah. Called it.

We started off with a solid weekly planning on Sunday, in preparation for what I was sure would be an awesome week. We had good plans for every day, and were ready to work hard to ensure they came through. For now I just want to talk about Wednesday, which was probably the best day of the week. We scheduled a lesson with the investigator we've been teaching for a while who technically lives in another city. It was starting to rain and, as she had to walk, we were a little worried she wouldn't make it. Wrong! She showed up at the church, and had brought a friend along to start hearing the lessons as well! We taught the message of the Restoration, and the Spirit was strong during the lesson. I bore my testimony of Joseph Smith being a prophet and restoring Christ's church, and taught about the Book of Mormon. I've been working really hard on asking more questions--of understanding, application, and of deeper analysis, which I did a little more in this lesson. And it paid off for me as I saw that they understood the importance of the Book of Mormon.
"If The Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was...what?"
Quick response from Jenny, "A prophet."
"And if Joseph Smith was a prophet, the church he restored is whose church?"
Even quicker. "Jesus Christ's." 

Simple as that. So now they have to pray to know the book is true. Our new investigator (the friend) accepted baptism as soon as she receives an answer. Jenny is so ready for baptism--we just need to resolve this technical problem of her moving around every weekend. She knows it's true and wants to be baptized.

But the night wasn't even over. We went to what we thought would be our last English class, as it wasn't getting us any references or leading to real growth in terms of helping people follow Christ. As we ended the night, the student/non-member we speak English with asked us to bring him a Book of Mormon in English to read with him, and to start teaching him about the church. We hastily agreed and he seemed excited for next week. I know we are.
Miracles happen.

2) Drenched- Tuesday was also pretty awesome. We went to visit a less active and found her at home with her son, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. We've visited them before, and they've been to church. Only the one is a member. We taught a lesson from the Book of Mormon and invited them to church. The son, who I've never met before, is under house arrest and recently left prison. He's nearly 60 and has likely been in prison for a long time, and has a sincere desire to turn his life around. Of course, he can't come to church for a while, but we'll continue to visit periodically to help him progress towards a more Christ-centered life.

As we taught we began to hear the rain outside. A lot of rain. A straight-up thunderstorm. Dumping buckets. Raining cats and dogs. And guess who didn't have their umbrellas!

But we had a meeting with our Ward Mission Leader to get to. So out we went into the storm with no protection, and walked a half hour to the meeting in the dark. Holy moly was I ever wet. 100% soaked. I didn't know if it was easier to see with or without my rain-covered glasses. Fortunately, the awesome new shoulder bag I got from my aunt and uncle turned out to be waterproof. I didn't even know that before.

3) Looking Back- So for those of you who don't know, this week marked a rather big milestone on my mission. I passed the one year mark on Thursday. As I stand in the middle of my mission, I've been thinking a bit about what I've learned thus far and what I still have to learn. Have I changed at all? What do I still need to do? I'm hesitant to call it a mid-mission crisis, but it certainly has me pondering.

I have met so many people in this last year who have made enormous impacts on my life. Companions, converts, church leaders, crazy drunks, beloved investigators...  I've had experiences I never could have dreamed of. I sometimes walk down the street and think: I never in a million years could have imagined myself doing this a year ago...and now it almost seems normal.

But now it's halfway done. So I have to ask, seeing all that has happened: is it enough? And while I have learned a lot, it's rather daunting at how much more I have to learn and do. It's been a good year. This next one is going to be even better.

A few shout-outs as I finish up. Happy birthday to Kayla Marcum, my first ever and absolutely never-forgotten baptism and friend from home! A very happy birthday to my beloved little sister, Madeleine, who is turning 19. And good luck to my good friend Tasha Szilagyi, who leaves for her mission next week.

Thank you all for what you do. You're amazing. And you're all children of God, no matter what you do or who you think you are. He loves us. I love Him. Let's make Him proud.

Much Love,

Elder Burt

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