Friday, June 29, 2012

Josh goes to Texas

We heard from Josh, and he is on his way to McAllen, Texas on July 5th. He will be there until the visas are approved. His mother isn't super excited about it because she thinks it's too close to the Mexico border. Check out the map!

Google Maps

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Waiting for the visa

Quierdo Familia,
     Everyting that happened this week was on Monday. First, we met with the visa agents for Argentina who helped us get all the paperwork ready. So, now all that's left to do is wait until July 3rd when the Argentine Consul comes and he will determine if our visas get pushed forward. After we meet with the Consul, we'll probably be reassigned for six to twelve weeks.
     Also on Monday, we had field orientation to practice street contacting and working with members. The whole things was thirteen hour workshop.
     I'm back on top in soccer though; scoring goals and making game winning passes. Besides eighteen hours of study daily, that's all that's happened this week.
Con Amor,
Elder Burt

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Soccer ego, soccer injury....

Quierdo Familia,
     So I probably need to clear up some confusion. Last week, my teacher, Hermano Avila, said he was going to Blackfoot to visit a friend. So I asked him to drop off that container you sent cookies in. He came back on Monday with the container and said he has a crazy story about why he wasn't able to deliver it, but I haven't heard it yet because we stay so busy. Anyway, that's what I was talking about at the end of my last letter.
     We just found out that the consul responsible for all visas to Argentina won't be here until July 3rd, which means the earliest we'll leave the MTC would be July 9th. If there's a chance that we would have our visas approved in two to three weeks then we would probably stay here until July 16th, but if not we'll just be reassigned somewhere in the States for six weeks. Either way it doesn't matter; if we have an extended stay here that's just more time to practice and prepare.
     This morning we were on our way back from the temple going to get changed so we couldn't get haircuts when we were stopped by the Spanish speaking missionaries who wanted to practice their street contacts. Thing about these particular missionaries is they were from Mexico and barely spoke English, but the cool part is that I probably said more to him in Spanish than he said to me in Spanish.
     My Spanish has really improved quite a bit in the last week. I've been working on identifying conjugation patterns within and across tenses as well as individual verb trees. What helps me remember is I also teach the new missionaries and help them with their Spanish.
     I had two bad days of soccer in a row or what seemed to be no apparent reason, but later on the way back to the residence after that second bad game, Elder Kuettel and I came to the conclusion that I had just finished the pride cycle on the soccer field. When I first started playing it was just to have fun, but after a couple games I started getting good, and after that I was one of the better people playing. I was constantly stealing the ball, ruining the other team's plays, and making goals (or being part of the reason we made a goal). But that first bad game I wasn't getting anything done and it wasn't because of a lack of effort, just a bad game. But I didn't worry about it and that next game I walked onto the field with the same confidence I usually do. This game went the same as the one before; only two things happened that haven't before. The first was when the ball was really high in the air and me and Elder Schumacher (on different teams) were both running to get it once it came down. It hit the ground and went back into the air, about fifteen feet. We got to where it was about to come down the second time and we both ran and jumped in an effort to bump it back to earth in a direction that was more favorable. As we made our efforts, we both collided in air and the way that we hit each other caused me to turn in the air and I ended up landing on my back and hitting my head. That didn't stop me though; I got up immediately, felt dizzy for a few minutes, and kept playing. The second thing that happened was there were four of us all around the ball and someone toe'd the ball as hard as they could and it came straight up, I was probably two feet from the person who kicked it, and it hit me in the jaw. At first it felt numb and then a few minutes later I bit down and that's when it really started to hurt. Everything is fine now though.
     I just got Tarea and Grandma's packages yesterday and they're awesome and it sounds like everyone is doing well. I've only read the first two chapters of 'The Miracle of Forgiveness', but it's really good so far.
     I won't be able to send pictures though because they took the photo kiosks out for some reason.
Con amor,
Elder Burt

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Contraband in the MTC

Quierdo Familia,
We just had a district leave our zone, so now we're the oldest district in the zone. We were really good friends with that district, so they gave us a bunch of stuff the night before they left. Elder Taylor and Brimacombe gave us a glow in the dark Nerf basketball hoop, Elder Knudsen and Gonzalez gave us a small supersoaker and 200 water balloons. From Elder Magenesen, I received two small water guns. When he gave them to me he handed them to me very sneakily in the hallway and then did the fist (the sign from our "rebellion"). Elder Green gave us a bunch of lotions and I found it because we walked into our room and it was all on the bed with a note (I took a picture of it that I'll send.)
     Among those lotions was a bottle of sunless tanning lotion, so Elder Odum and I started using it on our feet to see what will happen. I've been taking pictures of it too, so I can see the change.
     I'll probably be in the MTC until July because there are only a few people who approve visas to Argentina and July is the next time they'll be in the area on their tour.
     Our district was assigned to host this week, so I was one of the people greeting the new missionaries as they got dropped off. So, it was my job to show them around, get them to their rooms, get their grammar books, and drop them off at their classroom. I only had time to guide three missionaries through though. The first person wasn't so much excited as he was just taking everything in and trying to learn everything. The second was a sister, so I dropped her off with other sisters because Elders aren't allowed in the sister's residence buildings. The third person was kind of somber, maybe almost sad. I almost wanted to stop and say, "Listen, we're not going anywhere until I see a smile on your face; I want you to be excited to be here."
     At this point, we've basically learned everything about Spanish and it's now a matter of memorizing and applying the grammar and learning new words.
     You're going to find out way before this letter gets to you, but I'm sending my teacher, Hermano Avila, with the cookie container to Blackfoot.

Con amor,
Elder Burt

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The game of Mafia

Quierdo familia,
     Everyday is so similar here that it seems like one of those movies where the main character is living the same day over and over again until they get the day perfect; and it's only the moments in between the events that change.
     We got a new district in our zone and I haven't had a chance to get to know all of them yet, but I like the ones I have met. Seth Hoyt is from northern California and he hangs out with me and Elder Odum and does all our stuff with us. Elder Maurer is pretty cool so far, but we haven't learned much about him. In this new district, one of them went home in the first week, but he said he'll be back. Sean Kennedy plays soccer with me and he is usually our keeper and he's really good at it, so we call him the 'Dragon in the Keep.' But he's really good at singing and got a full ride to Mississippi for it.
     I just got a yellow fever vaccine today and a yellow certificate to go in my passport because without it, they won't let me back into the States; or I would just be in quarantine for two weeks.
     It was weird being at the eye appointment today because it was in town, so I got dropped off, but you forget that there's anything outside the MTC. 
     I'm trying to start a game of mafia in our zone where four people have mini pocket sized water guns and they have to get other people to be alone with them so they can shoot them. Then all the people that would just get us in trouble would be the police so you have to avoid them. Most of us want to do it, it's just a matter of getting organized and starting before we get our idea shut down.
     No ciento esta carte es poco, pero esta semuna foe sin acontecimientos. My Spanish word of the day yesterday was Estrellamar, which means starfish. Now I can say 'no' when someone asks me, usted quiera comer una estrellamar?
Con amor,
Elder Burt

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Fist

Quirdo familia,
     Yesterday during class, our teacher asked me and Elder Odum to teach the third lesson, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to a new investigator in front of the rest of the class.  We had no idea we were going to be asked to teach and we only had one minute to prepare; luckily, we were both wearing the same tie. After our one minute of preparation, we sat down and slid our chairs forward until we were only one foot away from Max (the investigator). Needles to say, everyone started laughing, including our teacher who couldn't quite seem to contain himself. Our teaching style was to ask him about his life, work, and family and then teach him and how Gospel principles could be applied to his life and how he could be happier. Really what we were doing was having a normal conversation while teaching doctrine. At the start we said that he shouldn't be worried about remembering everything because it's not something he will learn overnight and Max was funny because he just said, "I can do that". The way he said it was what made it funny. As we talked, we learned he has five kids, only one of whom is a member, that he owns his own security company, and that he has his own ministry. After we finished teaching, our teacher said we gave the perfect lesson and with three more lessons like that he would definitely be baptized.
     On Sunday in the cafeteria during lunch, we started doing the four note whistle from Hunger Games (the one Rue and Katniss do during the Games). And there were a few people all over the cafeteria that would whistle it back. After that, we sat outside and did it and people outside would also whistle back. The funniest thing about it is that it became really popular and we started hearing it a ton. So by dinner, we were hearing it all over campus and we weren't the ones starting it. So three hours after starting it, there were three thousand other people doing it.
     Elder Odum and Allen were made the new zone leaders and I told Elder Odum we were going to have a revolution against his rule. So, I talked to the other district we hang out with and got them in on it. So our sign was a raised fist in the air and we were called 'the fist', and our slogan was, 'which side of the flood are you on?' We were never serious about it and it was just a joke and Elder Odum was on our side of the 'rebellion' against him and everyone thought it was funny. The only problem was Elder Schumacher, who is super strict to the rules, but only when it's convenient for him to follow them. He didn't think it was funny so he reported us and we all got lectured for seven minutes over nothing. And no one would even care, except if it weren't for Elder Schumacher being the biggest hypocrite in the district. He only follows the rules when it's convenient for him and then complains if someone calls him out on it. 
     On Sundays, there have been protesters out he sidewalk trying to talk to the missionaries as they go to and from the temple. I'ts kind of funny because they always contradict themselves and don't really know what they're talking about. Some days they'll say things , 'Jesus loves you and we do too,' and other days different people will say something like 'you will be held accountable for your false teachings.' 
     Everything is going well here and my Spanish is really coming along. Everyone loved the sugar cookies and the jersey is super cool.
Con amor,
Elder Josh Burt

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mother's Day Card

Photos of Josh and his district

These are the crazy men that make up Josh's District. These pictures are the first of many (hopefully) and were sent in my Mother's Day card. From left to right: Schyler Odum, Nathan Allen, Josh Burt, Daniel Wakeham, Blake Schumacher, Michael Casper, Justin Blaylock and Jordan Kuettel.  Yep, they look like they get along just fine!

Missionary Mall

This was taken at Missionary Mall while we were there trying on suits. Argentina is such a long ways away. Missionary Mall is so awesome! If you are going on a mission, you definitely have to buy your clothes from there. They have amazing prices, but the best part is their guarantee. If anything you buy from there gets worn out before your mission is over, you just need to email them a picture of the worn out piece, and they will send a new one to the family. Even if a stray dog chases you while you're out tracking, grabs a hold of your pant leg and rips a hole in it while you are violently shaking the dog off, they will replace the pants. Sweet deal!Needless to say, their clothing is very durable and tested by missionaries around the world, so they know what you need, what works and what doesn't work. 

May 10, 2012

Queirdo familia,
     For our Tuesday night devotional, D. Todd Christofferson came and spoke to us. It wasn't a traditional talk like I expected, but instead Elder Christofferson would read a verse or two and then ask the audience to expound on it. So, there were people that ran mics to anyone in the audience. The topic wasn't anything new, just the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
     We now teach two new Spanish speaking investigators, so we are starting fresh with lesson one again. We aren't teaching our first investigator, Sebastian, anymore. On our last lesson with him, he said he wanted to be baptized by his brother once he knew it was true.
     Our first new investigator is Luis, a single dad who has one son, is retired from the military, and finishing school. He is very contemplative and thinks for a moment after we tell him something. Our other new investigator is Gabriel, a seventeen year old who was raised Christian. So far we've taught them each once.
    My Spanish is coming a lot faster now, though it seems. It seems learning is not so much filling a bucket, but more like lighting a fire.
     Cole, in 64 B.C. there were many wars spread out across ancient America. There was one group of people that had given up war years before and refused to join the battles. But as their friends and allies started dying to defend them, they felt like they had to break their promise to never go to war again. But all the sons of the peaceful people said they would go to war so their parents wouldn't have to break their promise. All of these sons were young men, maybe 14-20 years old, and they were strong and courageous. They were men of truth and soberness, and they kept all the commandments. These boys called themselves the Nephites and they were lead by Helaman. Now, there was another army who was their ally and they were called Antipus. The army of Antipus was in trouble because tey were tired from so many battles and they were being chased by the Lamanite army. Soon, the Lamanites caught up to Antipus and began to destroy their army. But Helaman and his Nephite army came up behind the Lamanites and saved Antipus. The battle was so fierce, Helaman thought many of those young men had died in the battle. He counted and saw that not one of them had died. These very young men had never fought before, but they did not fear death. They knew they would be safe and protected. When asked why they were so valiant, they said "we do not doubt, for our mothers knew it."  They did these things because they were obedient to their moms.

Elder Burt

First Letter from Josh

Querido familia,
     The first day here is like drinking from a fire hydrant; you may get some water with some effert, but you're going to miss most of it. After being dropped off, my escort showed me to my room. I received a room key and an ID card that is an electronic key to all the buildings. Once my luggage was in my room I was sent to class immediately. There were only two people in the classroom: Elder Schumacher, who is my companion, and Hermana Schumacher, the maestro. (They aren't related) Slowly, all the elders arrived one by one and met their companions. That first lesson was given entirely in Spanish, as was the next one and the one after that. Hermana Schumacher's teaching style would be described as excited and compassionate. At the end of the second day, we found out that she was not our teacher, but only a substitute. The next day we were taught by Hermana Warburton. He taught by speaking first in Spanish, then in English. He also shared stories and told jokes. It was funny to hear him introduce himself because he would always say his name with an American accent, even though he was speaking Spanish. Hermano Warburton only taught us one day because he too was a substitute. Finally we met our maestro, Hermano Walker. He has an excited and joyous attitude and he is a great teacher. As part of our learning, we teach investigators who only speak Spanish and our first appointment was Friday, just two days into the MTC. Elder Schumacker and I walked into our first teaching appointment knowing it wasn't going to be the greatest lesson ever, but we did our best. The lesson consisted mostly of simple phrases like, "Dios es nuestros amarosa Padre Celestial." and lots of smiling, and just saying, "si" after everything our investigator, whose name is Sebastian, said. We closed our lesson with a prayer in Spanish as best we could and left with an appointment the next day. Unfortunately, the lesson with Sebastian that next day didn't go as well as the first. Sebastian asked a lot of questions we couldn't answer either because we couldn't understand him or because we didn't know the words we wanted to say in Spanish. We left that lesson feeling a little down trodden, but with a desire to be ready for the next lesson. As we prepared our lesson we memorized key phrases and prepared scriptures to share. We also wanted to try something we hadn't in the previous two lessons: to Testify of simple, yet powerful, truths. Elder Schumacher was a little nervous and desired that we should pray before knocking on Sebastian's door. At the conclusion of the prayer we both received the same impression: a feeling of being assured that seemed to say, "Do not worry, I am here with you." The lesson that followed was our best one. We understood his questions and were able to give him answers. And as we each shared testimony the Spirit filled the room and it was clear Sebastian felt it. We learned a very important lesson from that experience: the most powerful witness you can share is testimony. It invites the Spirit into the room and allows the investigator to be taught by the Spirit, who is the true teacher and converter anyway.
     Besides having twelve hours of Spanish class every day, the day also consists of about one to two hours of personal study time, thirty minutes to an hour of companionship study and lesson preparation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an hour of gym time.
     For every meal, there are about three to five different options. The dinner on Wednesdays are supposed to be the best meal of the week because that is when the new missionaries arrive.  The night I arrived we had chicken cordon Blue (not as good as mom's) and the second Wednesday we had steak and potatoes. There's always something good to eat and I have a salad with either lunch or dinner every day.
     For our gym time, we play foursquare of volleyball. If our gym time is in the morning, we play soccer at the field across the street. The cool thing about the field is that it is at the bottom of the hill from the Temple.
     Once a week, we go to the temple to do our endowment session at seven in the morning, so we have to be up at six. On Tuesday mornings, we do service at six forty-five in the morning. That service is usually just cleaning and maintaining the MTC. On Sunday, we have an hour to go to the Temple and walk around the grounds.
     In my district, there are eight people (a district is all the people in a classroom, usually eight to twelve) They are: Elders Blaylock, Kuetel, Schumacher, Allen, Odum, Casper, and Wakeham. There are four people in my room: Elder Schumacher, Blaylock and Kuetel. Elder Schumacher is our district leader, but I am the senior companion so we're both in charge of each other. 
     Elder Casper is quiet and doesn't say much, but when he does he definitely contributes to the conversation. He's really into basketball, so if we want him to jump into a conversation then we just say LeBron is a good basketball player and then Elder Casper will inform everyone why LeBron isn't a good player.
     Elder Wakeham is also quiet, but is coming out of his shell. He lived in Morgan and knows Brayden, so that was fun to talk to him about. He is a good guy and it's always enjoyable to talk to him. Everyone likes to give him hugs because he says he doesn't like them, but we all know he does.
     Elder Blaylock is interesting because he just converted to the Church for just over one and a half years and is twenty-one years old. He is excited to do the work and loves the Gospel. 
     Elder Kuettel is funny and I get along well with him. If he had an official catch phrase it would be, "just hug it out." He always has his own opinion, but he also respects everyone else's opinion. He is also humble and is a pleasure to be around.
     Elder Allen always has a unique way of looking at things. He is an animated talker, using his hands quite a bit to help express his ideas. He has a great love for everyone around him and watches out to make sure everyone is taken care of.
     Elder Odum and I fit together like two puzzle pieces. We do all kinds of things together, like sing "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera in the shower. Funny enough, he lived in Idaho Falls and went to Hillcrest, so it's fun to compare schools. He also used to live in Virginia; I don't remember where, but it was about three hours away from Richmond.
     Elder Schumacher, my companion, has a strong testimony and truly loves the church. He's a bit of a body builder, so during gym time he runs laps and lifts weights. He is a little more serious than the rest of us, but we love him none the less.
     Obviously I can't adequately describe them all, but they're all good men and needless to say, they all love me and think I'm the funniest person ever.
     My Spanish is coming along well enough. Day to day it seems like I don't learn much, but looking back to where I was on Wednesday it is a lot. I even thought of a clever play on words: Hay es un leccion en cada elleccion. Which means, there is a lesson in every choice. It's a play on words because the word 'lesson' is in the word 'choice'.

Elder Burt

On our MTC card, they give us $6 a week to get pens and notebooks as needed. That money is also used for the washer/dryer and laundry soap. There are some things I can't get though.
     I could use soccer shoes, but they can't have cleats. Possibly an Argentinian Soccer jersey, maybe on that says Burt on the back. 
Books we're allowed to have: Jesus the Christ, True to the Faith, Our Heritage, Our Search for Happiness, The miracle of Forgiveness. I don't have any of these