Monday, May 5, 2014

Baptism / Your Country / Never Give Up

Elder Newman and Elder Burt
Yet another week of entertainment and miracles here in the grand city of Ipatinga. It's been crazy...transfers happened and, after a few short weeks with Elder Willden, I have a new companion: Elder Newman, from Ogden, Utah! He's a great guy and we're hard at work here. This last week has been amazing.

1) Help Thou My Unbelief- I wanted to start by finishing a story that I had begun last week, about a young man who struggled with doubt and yet decided to be baptized. On Tuesday I was on my way there by bus to interview him when I received a call from the missionaries in that area--the young man had asked that I be the one to baptize him. I was honored and happy to know that I'd made an impact on him. Of course, I also didn't have a change of clothes or a towel. It was looking to be a wet night.
Also on the way there we got called about transfers. That was a surprise too.

We arrived, and I interviewed him again. Of course the first question out of my mouth was "what changed since Saturday?" He was hesitant to reply, but explained that he was willing to act on the small amount of faith he had. That he wanted to believe, wanted to have more faith. He wasn't very forthcoming, but I could see the sincerity in him.

Then came the baptism, and nothing compares to getting in the water with someone who has come to mean so much to you. As we left the font, I could see the very real joy on his face. This is a very special family.

As I said, the rest of the night was cold and spent in wet underclothes. Of course this was the coldest night of the year to date as well. Makes everything more memorable.

2) Your Country- Funny experience of the week, in which I remembered why I don't miss the U.S too much, was a run-in with John, an American missionary from another denomination. We began talking to him in Portuguese, and I came to realize pretty fast he was a foreigner. 
So I asked in English "Where are you from?"
"Boston", he said. "You speak English very well,  can we talk in English and you'll understand?" 
Me: "Uh, sure." 
He began to go off on the horrible state of Brazil, how it was a country full of sinners and that Christians here didn't know anything of Christ's love, blah blah blah. "Here in your country," he began, when my comp cut him off. "Wait, you know we're Americans, right?" "Oh, that explains the English."

He continued ranting, now attacking us saying we weren't doing the Lord's work the right way, we needed to be in normal clothes in the bar, etc etc blah blah blah. So we just left. But it's official: I look Brazilian.

3) Never Give Up- We had a baptism this week in our area. It was awesome. And unexpected. An investigator we've been visiting forever named Juliano has been giving us some difficulties--not wanting to keep commitments, not accepting baptism, etc. We brought the branch president on Wednesday and had an amazing lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ended with each person present offering a prayer to strengthen Juliano. Afterwards I said once more to Juliano: "So Juliano, will you be baptized on Saturday?" Then came a very, very, long pause. Juliano is very quiet and doesn't like to talk much. Finally he said "what time is the baptism?" Joyful, I responded: "7:00". Then came another long, unexpected pause. Then, "Couldn't it be after noon? I work before that." Laughing, the branch president explained I meant 7:00 at night, and he accepted. The baptism went through, the confirmation on Sunday, and I learned more about perseverance. I was going to this house nearly daily for a transfer, and it finally paid off. Perseverance and always using new ideas.

Baptism, many investigators at church, potential, excitement. And thus it is. I read a verse in Mosiah 4:6-7 that really touched me. These last few months I have been focusing completely on learning more about the Atonement and the nature of God. This scripture confirmed that I am right to be doing this. It is the most important knowledge we can obtain, and I realize I'm still just scratching the surface. I'd encourage you all to give it a little more thought. Who is your Father in Heaven? The more I learn, the more I love Him and want to be like Him. (John 17:3)

I love you all. Keep up the good fight. I'm giving it my all down here in Brazil, but want to do more. I will do more. Count on it, and you can bet that the upcoming e-mails will be memorable.

Much Love,

Elder Burt

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