Saturday, March 15, 2014

Help! / Wednesday Night Madness / Broke

Hey folks!

This is some classic Brazilian food. Goiabada (which is 
like jelly) and cheese. Weird, but good.
Another good week has come and gone, with everyone dying to hear all about another week in the exciting life of Elder Burt. Well, I'll give you a heads up right now and say that this might be a little shorter than normal. A member of the First Quorum of the Seventy is going to visit my house next week and let's just say I'm not super prepared right now. We have Mission Tour this week with Elder Gavarret. He's going to visit our house, and I'm going to sing a solo for him and nearly the whole mission during the conference. So that's fun.

But you'll hear about that in detail next week!

1) Help! (I Need Somebody)- So these last few weeks we've been occasionally visiting a less active named Maria--an older woman who lives alone with her very obnoxious dog. It really makes her day when we stop by, so we've made it a habit to make quick visits when we're in the neighborhood. This last week we stopped by and made a miraculous discovery--Maria's daughter had hired a girl to take care of her mother! Why is that so great, you ask, aside from the fact that Maria will no longer suffer from complete solitude? What was the first thought that ran through my head when we rang the intercom and someone else answered? Baptism!

Ok, so it's not as easy as that. Just almost. The maid's name is Fernanda, she's interested in the church and wants to find out more. She's excited to go on Sunday and is very open. It was all looking good. It still will work out, but we ran into a bump in the road.

6:20 in the morning--the phone rings. For those of you that don't know, missionaries wake up at 6:30. So this phone call was...less than welcome. But then Elder Juergens answered and Maria's voice was heard on the other end of the line. My first thought: Miracle of miracles. Fernanda has received an answer about the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized on Sunday! (I'm a positive thinker.) What it actually was: Maria won't let Fernanda go to church because she has to make lunch for her. And she had to call us at 6:20 in the morning to tell us that. Sigh.

2) Wednesday Night Madness- A night full of miracle lessons happened on Wednesday. The church has ward activities every Wednesday now from 7:30 to 8:30, which we occasionally attend if we're in the area and there are investigators there. This week we got in and were immediately approached by a member of the stake presidency, who introduced us to a man wanting to learn about genealogy. He had walked into the church alone asking where he could find the "3rd room." I guess that's where the Family History Center is. It wasn't open yet and we took advantage of the wait to teach him the first lesson. We were hoping to use his interest in family history to spark an interest in the church. When asked why he was researching his family, he explained. "I have an uncle who is really full of himself and thinks my grandfather is from some kind of pure line in Europe. I'm tired of it and want to prove him wrong by learning more about my grandpa." So I guess that's a reasonable motive for family history.

We showed him in and then went to help the members set up for the activity. Then we went out front to do contacts, since there wasn't much else to do. While talking to an awesome guy who spoke English, we were approached by a group of young adults. They asked us if they could enter the church and speak with the bishop. We said of course and showed them in. They turned out to be students researching the church, and bishop quickly turned them over to us to field their questions. We taught a very clear version of the lesson of the Restoration, and then had the chance to answer each of their many questions about the church's doctrinal and historical background. Our responses clearly left them impressed and a few were clearly interested in learning more. All are planning on coming to church services in a week.

3) Broke- So yesterday saw yet another Friday adventure that seem to have become typical of my last few weeks in the office. This time President threw me and Elder Juergens into a taxi at 2:00pm, with R$3600, to rent two new houses in different parts of the city. So off we went on this wild adventure. The first apartment I had already finished up the contract--we passed by the rental agency, got the keys, booked it to the apartment to let in the furniture, closed up, and kept in the same taxi going to another city. The taxi driver was really cool, but after a while turned on an anti-Mormon preaching by his Baptist pastor. So that was less cool. Also, the taxi cost me R$130, which was also not super cool.

We arrived at the second house where we met up with the landlady in order to discuss the contract. I was expecting (as usually happens) a quick signing and turning over of the keys. Unfortunately, this lady was nuts. She had me explain every single clause of the wordy, law-lingo Portuguese contract and then complained about a part that seemed to be missing. I wanted to say that if she wanted to complain about the contract, she should have come to my office to talk to me like I'd told her to. But I'm more polite than that. She continued to complain, had me write in a new clause on the back of the contract and sign it (I definitely don't have the right to do that) and then threw us in her car to take us to her mother-in-law's house to finish everything. There I needed to pay her R$3550. Do the math with the taxi. Yeah, I was nearly 100% sure I didn't have it. But someone must have paid my tithing for me this month, because somehow I pulled out every last bill I needed (by combining every last bit of money we had), with R$7 left over for the bus ride home. Mission accomplished.

The funny part was when we were on the bus coming back and President called. "Elder Juergens, where are you?" "On the bus coming back." "Why aren't you taking a taxi?" "We don't have any money." And that is why I am now broke. And have another two houses rented.

So that ended up being a bit longer than I expected. But hey, nothing wrong with that. I love you all. The mission is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I'm learning so much--and more than anything else I'm learning to rely on the Lord. How I love Him.

Stay strong, keep to the faith, be cool.

Much Love,

Elder Burt

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