Monday, September 24, 2012

Josh with Elder Bice at Nueces Bay in Portland, Texas

Josh with Elder Allen at Provo Temple

Josh with Elder Michael Casper at Provo Temple

Josh with Elder Kuettel at Provo Temple

Josh with Elder Daniel Wakeham at Provo Temple

More baptisms

Quierdo familia,
     This week we started working with a family who got baptized in April except for two of the kids, Cristina and Eddie. We started talking with them to understand why they weren't baptized and we found out that the missionaries before just didn't finish teaching them. Eddie, for the most part, just doesn't care because he is thirteen and he doesn't really see the importance of it. He understands he needs to be baptized, but probably won't until Cristina is. Cristina is fifteen and has a twin sister, Alijandra. Cristina never was baptized because she never received an answer to prayer, but was also expecting some grand thing to happen. Alijandra had a dream that Jesus told her to be baptized, so Cristina was expecting the same thing. 
     After we taught Cristina how to pray and receive answers, she told us the next day when we went to visit that the night before, after her nightly prayers, she felt a fire within her like a burning. So now she is getting baptized on September 29th.
     We had to drop Brenda as an investigator because she wouldn't quit smoking and wasn't making any efforts to quit. She took everything we said the wrong way and got offended and then told us that her heart is really in the Catholic church (even though she hasn't been in years). She didn't mean what she said and we really were sad to drop her, but we can't help anyone that isn't willing to help them self.
     We met someone named Angie who was almost expecting us. She told us how she was alone because she just dropped her only son off at college and her husband died two years ago. Her husband was reading the Book of Mormon right before he died and then he just visited her in a dream two days ago.

os amo,
Elder Burt

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chased off...

Quierdo Familia,                                                                  10 Sept 2012
     Today is a really busy day, so I sent most of the letter in my email this morning. This morning, our washer broke and isn't pumping the water out at the end of the cycle, so we had to go to the other Elder's apartment to use their machine. We also had to cut our P-day short today because we overbooked ourselves with lessons. So I'm just going to add to what I already sent in my email.
     There is a member in our ward, Brandi, who just got married to a non-member, Jacob. She invited us over to give a lesson to her and her husband, but we had a little trouble getting in the door. They live in the same apartment complex as the Jaen Family, but we didn't know where their door was. So as we were walking, we ran into Christina and Alejandra, who were on their way to play tennis, who told us that they would take us to their door. As we were walking there through the complex, there was a guy following us who, after a minute of following, told us to stop. He then started telling us how we had to leave and we weren't allowed to be there. He said that he is a manager that lives there and that someone called the owner and complained about us knocking, and the owner called him and told him to escort us out. We told him that we've never knocked a door there and that we were just on our way to an appointment, but he said that doesn't matter and that we have to get permission to be there because we're missionaries.
     So while we were talking to this guy, Alejandra knocked on Brandi and Jacob's door and then we told Brandi what happened. So she said she would call us and went back inside. As we started to leave, Jacob came outside and chewed the guy out and we were able to stay.
Os amo,
Elder Burt

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leaving Texas

I don't think I'll have time to write by hand today, so I'll try to get as much as I can into this email:
We've been teaching Eugene and Patricia more this week. Patricia is progressing really well in the lessons and she already knows that she needs to be baptized, so now it's just a matter  of teaching her everything she needs to know. The only problem we have right now is that she and Eugene are living together, so she can't get baptized until either they get married or she moves out. Euegene says that they'll get married, but not anytime soon. He really wants her to get baptized though and he is coming back to church. They both came to church yesterday though. When they showed up, Eugene comes up to us and gives us the the side-ways high five to a fist bump and says, "Hey, what's up gangsters?"
We had dinner at their apartment with them and Eugene's brother, Paul, and while we were waiting for dinner to come out, he looks over at us and goes, "So... you guys wanna play some video games?" He's a pretty fun guy; he also just slides little things in randomly.
We've started teaching these two older ladies from Columbia. Hermana Belez is the mother, and Amparra is the aunt of a member in the Spanish ward, Hermana Quinones. We started teaching them because Hermana Quinones invited us over to eat and after dinner we sat down to have a brief message. Well, Hermana Quinones invited her aunt and grandma to come sit down with us, so we ended up teaching about the Spirit and baptism. At the end of the lesson we invited the two sisters to be baptized and they accepted. So we've taught them twice and they're progressing pretty well. Amparra has been to church once already and Hermana Belez has been twice so far. We hit kind of a snag though. The husband of Hermana Quinones doesn't know that we've been teaching and she is scared that he won't like it, so she is trying to hide us from him... Just yesterday afternoon (about five days after our first visit and after two lessons) she told us that we're putting too much pressure on them to be baptized and that our job as missionaries is just to plant seeds. Really what it ended up coming down to is that she is just scared to tell her husband that her aunt and grandma want to be baptized. We tried explaining to her that the prophet has said that we are supposed to invite people to be baptized in the first lesson, but she just lacks faith. She wants us to just put the idea of baptism in their minds and then wait for them to ask us to be baptized. The other problem is that they're going back to Columbia in a month, so we don't want them to progress really far and then never end up getting baptized if they move. 
Church was a little different this week. We ended up going to our ward and then leaving right before Sacrament meeting ended so that we could go to the Spanish ward to be with Amparra, Sister Belez, and Patricia. Hermana Quinones actually is the one who teaches the Sunday School class, and ironically her lesson was on Samuel the Lamanite and following the prophet and not being the people that mock the prophet and don't believe.his words.
We got a call from someone we've never met the other day (turns out his parents are members, but he isn't) that said he had a friend who needs the missionaries to go visit her. We had a little hesitation about it because he said that she was having financial troubles and that she needed help, but we don't have any money to give people and we can't dump that responsibility on the bishop. But we went to meet her and she was obviously in distress. We sat down with her and told her very plainly that we can't provide financial aid, but we're called to teach the Gospel of Christ. So we started teaching her about faith, repentance, the Holy Ghost, baptism, and how being obedient to God's commandments will bring blessings. When we asked if she wanted to be baptized, she almost started to cry and just said, yes, and smiled. At the end of the lesson, we wanted her to pray, but she is Catholic and only knew how to do memorized prayers. We taught her how to really pray, but she wanted to tell us one of the prayers (not to say, just to tell us what it is), but she couldn't remember the words. After a minute she just said, "I guess we're not supposed to pray that way." So that was really cool that the Spirit wouldn't let her say an apostate prayer. So we taught her on Saturday and she came to church the next day. We introduced her to some people and she had a really good experience, even though she was a little nervous to be there.
We went to go check up on a family that lived in an apartment complex, but they weren't there. Normally we don't knock doors because that isn't an effective way to find people, but Elder Dustin wanted to try knocking in that complex. So we were walking around and while we were waiting this door, a car pulled up in behind us. He got out and started to walk to his apartment in the opposite direction. I told Elder Dustin and Anderson that we needed to go talk to that guy. So we knocked a few more doors and then ended up at that guy's door. We had a good conversation with him and he said something that we thought was pretty funny. He said, "Yeah, I've been Catholic my whole life, but then I read the Bible and found out for mysellf that the Catholic church isn't true."
os amo,
Elder Burt
P.S. I'm no leaving on the 17th of September, my address below will be good until then.

Elder Joshua Covington Burt
5757 S. Staples Street
Apartment #1507
Corpus Cristi, TX 78413
[Current Until September 16] 

Playin' around

September 5, 2012

We had a referral for a girl named Patricia, so we went to the apartment for the address we were given and when we knocked on the door of the apartment we were given, her boyfriend, Eugene, answered the door and said, "Sorry guys, my apartment is really dirty right now." And then closed the door. Three seconds later he opened it up and said, "I'm just playin', my apartment is messy but ya'll are welcome whenever". So it turns out that Eugene is actually a member, just inactive and his girlfriend, Patricia, is a non-member who just moved here from Mexico. Eugene was really funny though. We sat down with him and Patricia and had a lesson and he spoke English the whole time and Patricia spoke Spanish; so that was interesting teaching in two languages at the same time. We invited Patricia to be baptized on the 29th of September and she said she wanted to be, and then we invited Eugene to be worthy to use his Priesthood to baptize Patricia on the 29th of September. Eugene said he would really like to do that, but he needs to change a few things first. We're sure that he'll come through, though and be ready. 

Photos of Corpus Cristi, TX

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bible Bashing

I sent a letter out yesterday, but didn't have time to finish it.

The reason I didn't have time to finish it is because while we were at Wal-Mart doing our weekly shopping a guy in one of the store scooters came up to us and, after a few minutes of talking, asked us if we could give him a blessing. We told him that we'd be more than happy to give him one, but not in the store. We said we could either meet him at his house later in the day or at the church; whichever would work best for him. He decided on the church, but he wanted it done immediately. So we told him that we would take our groceries home and then meet him at the church in thirty minutes. He agreed to that and said he'd be there. So we went back to the apartment and then to the church as fast as we could and saw that we beat him there. So we unlocked the doors to the church and turned the a/c on and waited for a bit. He ended up coming about forty minutes later than he said he would. When he got there, he was really concerned about time and we said it will only take ten minutes. Well he ended up talking quite a bit about really the same three things over and over again and he said those same things for an hour and a half. Finally after almost two hours we gave him the blessing and then he said he wanted us to baptize him right there. We had to explain that, unless he was going to die within the next week, we couldn't baptize him without first teaching him the lessons and him coming to church. He wasn't too happy with that and again started to tell us those same three things again. So we set an appointment with him for Wednesday and we'll see how much he wants to commit to the gospel and baptism when we see him then. So in total, we probably spent about three hours with him during our preparation day.
In my letter, I mentioned two kids we are teaching: Cristina and Eddie. Well on Monday night, during our lesson with them, we found out that Cristina is actually in a band and has a song on iTunes. Their group even played live on the news here. Apparently she won a competition to be one of the singers. The group is called Pink Noise and the song is called 'The Kind of Girl I Am' (It might be different, but it's close to that).
At church, I met a member who recently moved into the ward from North Dakota. He is the Second Couselor's son-in-law and just moved here. He likes to do missionary work and help the Elders,and the way he does it is a little different than expected. He plays Pokemon on the DS and he runs a league every Saturday where tons of people show up to play. When he did it in North Dakota, he got fifteen new investigators for the Elders and one baptism so far. He is pretty funny, he wears a side bag to carry his scriptures and stuff, but on the strap he has two Pokeballs.
We went to met some former investigators to see if they'd be interested in taking lessons again or to at least find out why they stopped taking lessons and it turns out they're still not interested. But, we knocked on their neighbor's door and met Maria Salazar, a lady who is in her seventies. She invited us in and we taught her about prayer and baptism. At the end of the lesson, she started putting it all together and said, "So what you're telling me, is that my baptism didn't count?" And of course we don't want to offend anyone, so we just say, "You just need to be baptized the same way Jesus Christ was." But she said she'll think about it. The real issue is that she firmly believes that Saturday is the Sabbath and that it's wrong for it to be on Sunday (even though the scriptures show that the apostles changed it to Sunday after the resurrection of Christ). But our job isn't to prove people wrong, it's to help them make the changes they need to because they realize they need to follow the Savior. So we taught her, set a return appointment, called a lady in the ward to come with us to our next appointment, she came out, we walked up to the door, and then found a note. So we'll see if we can contact her again or if she is just going to try to avoid us.
So the member that came out with us, Sister Silliman, told us that since we have time we could go visit a member in the hospital. We went and visited with the member, Maria Cantu, and sang her a hymn (she already recieved a blessing, so we didn't need to do that). As we were walking out of the hospital, a guy in the lobby nodded at each of us as we walked by and addressed us as 'doctor'. 
We also had a lesson we were kind of concerned about going in to. Not because we were worried about ourselves or in any physical danger, but because the guy is kind of against the church and our concern was that he just wanted to argue doctrine with us. The only reason we agreed to meet with him s becaus his girlfriend is a member and she really wants him to convert so she can be married in the temple. So we sat down with him at the church and he comes in with a notebook and a Bible (his girlfriend wouldn't let him bring his laptop in). Clearly he was trying to steer the lesson into some bashing, but we did our best to keep it on track until finally he just started asking us point blank about things he didn't understand and saying things that weren't true.  Everytime he tried to say some false doctrine, we just answered his question using the Bible and the Book of Mormon to show that our church has nothing new in it, just everything. Clearly he was frustrated by the end of the lesson becaus ehe knew that he'd been beat. The thing that probably got him the most though was that we never was got frustrated or mad and keep calm and loving the whole time (some people's goal is just to upset the Elders).
os amo,
Elder Burt


Elder Joshua Covington Burt
5757 S. Staples Street
Apartment #1507
Corpus Cristi, TX 78413
[Current Until September 11] 

On to Corpus Cristi

Quierdo Familia,
     So on Tuesday I left Elder Bice and Portland to serve with Elders Anderson and Dustin in Corpus Cristi. We actually cover two areas, Oso Bay and University Heights, because one of the companionships here just got moved and they weren't replaced.
     Elder Anderson and his old companion, Elder Ginez, were teaching a woman named Brenda, but right now we're thinking of dropping her as an investigator. She is ready for baptism except she won't give up smoking. We committed her to go one day without smoking, which she did, but she was totally unwilling to go for two days without smoking. We promised her that she'll be able to quit if she reads the Book of Mormon everyday, but she won't even do that. We even went to the church's weekly addiction recovery meeting with her, but that didn't motivate her either.
     We went out one day knocking to see if we could find some of the less active members of the ward and two of them that we knocked into weren't too happy to see us.  The first guy was pretty calm and didn't ever get loud, but he was definitely frustrated. He said that whoever keeps sending missionaries to him needs to stop. To that Elder Dustin said, "God sent us here." The guy gave a half sigh and said, "I just want to be left alone."
     The next man opened his door and was immediately mad. He wasn't really yelling so much as just really projecting his voice, but his eyebrows kept going up and down with every word. He told us that, "he isn't subscribing to anything." Then at the end he said, "Leave now and never return!" (He totally stole that from Lion King, even the way he said it). He just put so much effort in to trying to sound intimidation that we couldn't take him seriously.
     A few weeks ago, I taught a family during exchanges with Elder Anderson and now I've taught them again. And they actually just got baptized this weekend. The dad, Abel, is a return missionary, but was inactive so his wife, Sabrina, didn't even know he was a Mormon or that he served a mission. But on Saturday, he was able to baptize his wife and two sons, Connor and Tristan.
Os amo,
Elder Burt