Saturday, February 15, 2014

It's a Boy / Odd / Nephi

Well, another transfer week has come and gone. Houses rented, missionaries in place, and lessons taught. And some other fun surprises.

Elder Burt, Elder Juergens, and Elder Dunford
1) It's A Boy- Yes, ladies and gents, the day has finally arrived. I am training a new financial secretary to take my place! By far the most exciting part about transfers was this change-up. I will train him for the next transfer and then finally hit the field again.

Elder Juergens is a great missionary and an amazing trainee--and I'm trying my best not to over-stress him as I show him the ropes. There's a lot to learn, but we've got a bit of time to learn it all. Something I'm realizing in all of this is just how much I've changed and grown, and how much stuff I really do as secretary. I was much like Elder Juergens just a few short months ago--wondering how on earth I was going to manage all of the temporal affairs of the mission practically alone. Feeling excited, but also pretty lost. I do a lot of problem-solving in my job, since every single day presents a new challenge that needs to be handled differently than any before. I don't know if I'll use the specific tools of house renting and ticket buying that I've learned here. But I'm sure the confidence under stress, the ability to find solutions alone in seemingly impossible situations, and management skills will all come in handy later in life. But now it's someone else's turn. At last.

2) Odd- So this last Sunday, after church, we had what I would consider an "odd" day. We spent the entire afternoon in a neighborhood doing contacts
, talking to upwards of seventy people in a couple hours and teaching lessons as well. But throughout the afternoon everything just seemed a little...odd. I don't know how to explain it, but let me share a few of the slightly abnormal happenings:
--Escorting a young woman away from a harassing homeless man.
--Knocking doors, teaching an 85-year-old communist and his wife, who also happened to be a good friend of an ancient member of the ward. His dream is to go to Cuba and, yes, he called us "companion."
--Leaving the building, and ringing the intercom of the next apartment in the complex. Getting buzzed back into the building without having to say anything, but the person didn't answer their door.
--Leaving, ringing the next intercom, and getting buzzed in again, and again no one showed up.
--Getting sworn at by a 30-year-old man for ringing his doorbell at 5:00pm on a Sunday, telling me I was ridiculous for bothering people at such an hour. All the while ringing other intercoms while he yelled at me. When he started to leave, I asked if we could visit him at a different time and he started yelling at me again.
--Having an evangelical pastor try to convince us to join his church, where they need "good youth who are head-over-heels for Christ." And basically saying we would make good money if we did it.

All in all, a bunch of experiences that happen all the time in the life of a missionary, but compressed into a relatively short afternoon.

3) Nephi- I had another good experience while reading in the Book of Mormon, relating my life to that of a scriptural hero. The story of Nephi is pretty easy to relate to missionary work. I mean, as missionaries we're pretty much just like Lehi's family: we left our home and possessions behind us to wander in the wilderness for years. This morning I was reading 1 Nephi 17, in which Nephi is commanded by the Lord to build a ship. This seemed to his brothers like an impossible task, and (verse 18) complained and refused to work because of the task's difficult nature. Nephi goes on to rebuke them and remind them of the scriptures, and the things the Lord did for those in the past. He finishes his lecture by saying: "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them...And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?" (1 Nephi 17: 50-51)

I would relate this story to missionary work. There seem to be an awful lot of people, members and missionaries, who complain that it's difficult. That the world has changed, people aren't open anymore, that the kind of miracles that happened in the past aren't possible now, etc etc. I would say the same thing as Nephi: the Lord has done such marvelous things in the past, why can't we have missionary success with his help in today's world?

Elders in the Mission Office.
Every single one of you knows people outside of the church, that are extremely righteous, amazing people. I know a bunch as well. They
are my friends, my family members, my spiritual siblings. So why would I think that they couldn't join the church? They're ready, but perhaps our lack of faith, the sheer difficulty of single-handedly "building a boat," leads us to excuse their continued absence.

Believe in miracles. Believe that God touches hearts, that He will help you. Go out and serve, give everything that you have, and your loved ones will come to the truth.  They need what we have. We need them. Let's get our act together.

I love you all. You are amazing, and have so much potential. This is God's work. I can see it in my life every day. Miracles happen. Keep to the faith.

Much Love,

Elder Burt

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