Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spiders in the shower and ducks in the pool...

Querido familia,
We had a whole lot going on this week ranging from cooking empanadas to service to baptisms.
There´s a family in the ward that is inactive that we've been visiting and having short ten minute spiritual thoughts with them in the hope that they will start coming again. They have three little kids, a girl who can´t be more than nine and two twin boys who are about three or four. We don´t have problems with them as missionaries, but as branch counselors they put us in a tough spot because they ask for financial assistance from the church, but they don't come to church and they also buy a lot of nice things, mostly expensive clothes, and they just bought a moped. So it´s hard to give them the assistance they want, and need, when they don't follow the commandments and aren't budgeting wisely. But we always do what we can and don't want them, esp├Ęcially their kids, to go without. So, this last week they asked us if we could do some service for them and help them clean out their pool. So we said we'd be happy to help with what we could, but we only could devote so much time to the project because we have to be out teaching, So we showed up with our change of clothes (jeans, a t-shirt, and knee high rubber boots) and walked out back to see what we were getting into. Now the thing to remember here is that this isn't the United States, so of course the pool isn't lined with a soft rubber material and a filter system, but what we found was a more like a garbage masher from Star Wars than a pool. So we took a look at what were dealing with, talked about how we were going to get it all done and organize the mess, but most importantly: how to get rid of the duck. So, we put our gloves on, got in, and start tossing all the plastic bottles into a pile for recycling, setting the bricks (and some other interesting items) to the side and putting the rest of the trash into bags. Eventually we got the duck out, as well as three toads (we never could find the frog once he got away the first time) and had to start using buckets to get rid of the water. In the end, some of the interesting or strange things we found included: mate cups, tea pots, shoes, and a jawbone from a dog (which was obviously not too old because it wasn't just bone...). We got everything out and lowered the water level quite a bit, but there was still a ton of dirt in on the floor when we left, but they asked if we could leave our boots for them to use, so we're assuming they're going to wrap it up.

The house that Mirian and Diego currently live in isn't actually theirs, but his sister's house, so what they are going to do is build their own house on the same lot. So they asked us if we could lend a hand to get them started. What they needed done was to get the ground ready for building, which meant getting rid of weeds up to our knees, using shovels to tear the ground up, and hauling it away in a small trailer. It was a ton of work, but we got a lot done in the hour that we were working. Walter, their three year old, helped by watching us, giving us some encouraging words, and bringing us sweet bread and orange pop.




This last Saturday we had two baptisms: Augustina Pereyra and Ivana Guzman. Augustina isn't anyone we taught, but rather an eight year old girl ready to be baptized in a branch where there are no Priesthood holders. So we were happy to help her get baptized and get everything ready for her. We wanted to help one of the youth, Walter Silva, start becoming more active and use his Priesthood, so we asked him if he would baptize Augustina. He said yes, but he had a panic attack in the water and Elder Clark had to go in and do it. We felt really bad for Walter and had a prayer with him, but hopefully this won´t be a bad experience for him that will make him not want to participate in future events.


These are desserts we had after the baptism. Augustina's mom made the peach cake and we bought the pie cake for fifty pesos.


 After a few weeks of teaching, Ivana was finally ready for baptism. Elder Clark got in the water with her and I confirmed the next day on Sunday. I was nervous about giving the blessing in Spanish for the first time, but I was able to do it without any problems and did everything just fine. There was a dispute afterwards though because President Alegre blessed Augustina and he said, Recieve the Gift of the Holy Ghost" when the phrase is "Receive the Holy Ghost" so we're trying to figure out if we need to do the blessing again.

The district is having a temple trip for all the members so they can get their endowments, but the problem is that is is kind of expensive for a lot of the members. So to raise money, Sister Guzman (Ivana´s mom) made empanadas to sell at twenty three pesos a dozen (about fifty cents each). So we got to go help her make the empanadas the other day right after we did service with Diego and Mirian (that is why we are in our service clothes). to help out, we bought a dozen and then ate them while we prepared the chapel for the baptism later that day.
The view from our apartment when it rains. When it rains, it pours.
This is the street in front of our apartment that becomes a river every time it rains.

This was waiting for me when I went in to turn on the hot water.

Computer problems- fixing a computer is a hassle enough in English but it's worse in Spanish.
os amo,
Elder Burt

P.S. I´ll have to send the pictures from the pool service next week because they´re on Elder Clark´s camera

Monday, October 22, 2012

Josh gets spaetzle


Querido Familia,

This last Friday, Elder Clark was sick again, but this time with food poisoning (I didn´t eat whatever he had because we had exchanges that day), so we stayed in our apartment all day. It was good in a way because I was able to get a lot of things done that needed to be, but even then it would have been better to be out doing the real work. During my time in the apartment, I was able to: update our records (we have three massive binders, two are for old records and one for current), which includes throwing out years of old records that shouldn´t have been there to begin with, and moving papers around to be where they actually should be. I also organized all the members (about four hundred and fifty) alphabetically and into groups based on where they live. I set up a map on the wall for us to use, did some cleaning and organizing around our apartment, and then just studied until the end of the night (which was only about an hour).

There is one thing that we did avoid by being home on Friday, which was eating at a member´s house. Normally, eating with members isn´t bad, but this is the member that made us the spinach and broccoli crepes a few weeks ago. So what happened when they found out we couldn´t come over for lunch was that they bagged it up and brought it to us. It was another spinach dish. Last Friday when we had lunch with them, they made us these bombas de papas (potato bombs) which are almost a kind of corn bread roll with hamburger meat on the inside. They weren´t bad, but it was the side dish that was tough to eat. We´re not entirely sure what it is, but it´s basically some kind of vegetable that has been breaded and deep fried. They wouldn´t even be so bad, but they taste like grease and they go down like grease.

Yesterday was Mother´s day here in Argentina and we didn´t have anyone to speak in Sacrament meeting on Sunday, so on Saturday night I was assigned to give the Mother´s day talk. I had about twenty minutes to prepare, but I think it went pretty well. I started off by reading in John 19: 25-27 when Jesus is on the cross and asks John to watch after his mother and then went on to more fully explain what was happening in the verses (the scriptures are written in a different form of Spanish that is never spoken among the people) and added some more depth and emotion to the brief story. Then I read a story from the Miracle of Forgiveness that President Kimball shares about mothers, so I was reading in English to myself, but speaking to everyone in Spanish. Then I finished up with the example of the Helaman´s army and how they were so successful in their endeavors because they listened to the teachings of their mothers. During the entire talk, all the women shed a tear at some point, so it went pretty well.

Mirian and Diego either didn´t go to, or missed, their appointment for their blood exam they need before they can be married, so now we´re going to have a bit of a delay on their marriage, which means we´ll probably be pushing Mirian´s baptism back to November.

Ivana is still looking good for her baptism. We went through the baptismal interview questions with her the other day and she was able to answer everything. The only problem is that she has a problem with praying in front of people, which she will be asked to do when she is interviewed for baptism for real.

The Guzman family (Ivana´s mom and her old sister) had us over for lunch this week. We sat down waiting to get everything started and in the center of the table was the meal. I could tell there was chicken in there, but there was something that I thought was diced up potato, but I wasn´t sure (it was all mixed together in on a big skillet). We started to eat and Maria, the older sister, started explaining what the little potato looking things were. I had already eaten some and though it tasted really familiar, but as she explained it turns out that it was spaetzla, just a different shape and a different sauce.

os amo,
Elder Burt
P.S. Elder Clark has requested Flake bars.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Teaching Walter about Jesus


Querido Familia,
It was raining really bad today and we had to walk through it to get our groceries this morning. I took a couple pictures, but I forgot to bring my SD card to the cebaro. It's was really bad during the storm, turning the streets into rivers in no time.

The cebaro is the place where we do our emails here. It's really just a large room with rows of computers that you can use for ten pesos an hour. All the computers have tons of games on them and headsets that you can use, so there are lots of kids that come through to play games here.

We've been working a lot with Mirian and Diego this last week, almost every day, in order to get them married. Mirian does really well with all the reading assignments we give her to do between visits and she writes all the scriptures down that we read during lessons that she really likes.

At the end of last week, we got them all the papers they need in order to get married and set up their appointments to get everything taken care of.

One day while we were teaching them, this women walks into their house (who is the mom of one of their friends who was also present) and starts to throw things off track a bit. We gave their three year old son, Walter, a pass along card with a picture of the Savior on it and she came in and took it from him and then lectured us for five minutes for giving it to him, She said that little kids shouldn't have pictures of Jesus because they don't understand who He is and that little kids will just disrespect him by having it (She is Evangelist). Halfway through her speech, Elder Clark just said, "Well, we better teach Walter who Jesus is then." Then we sat there while she talked and then when she was done, we just continued the lesson like she didn't say anything. A few minutes later she apologized for what she said and then left.

Elder Clark was sick for a day, so I spent half of the day with Elder Garcia and the other half of the day with Elder Sparks and we rotated on who stayed home with Elder Clark. So Elder Garcia accompanied me to go teach Mirian and Diego and Elder Sparks went with me to teach Ivana Guzman.

The next time Elder Clark and I went to teach Diego and Mirian, Diego told us that he really likes Elder Garcia's Mexican accent and that he doesn't like the way Elder Clark and I sound when we talk.

The most recent visit we had with Mirian, she said that she felt like everything was getting rushed and wasn't sure if she was ready. Undoubtedly, the Evangelist lady has been talking to her about our church (The Evangelists preach anti-Mormon). So tonight we're going to teach her the Restoration of the Gospel again to make sure she understands that this is the only true church and that no other church will give her that eternal family that she wants. We're hoping that that Evangelist lady isn't there, but if she is we can easily show her (if she tries to argue or cause contention), using the Bible, that her church, and every other church, isn't true; ideally that won't be necessary.

So when Elder Clark got sick last week, he stood up from our table during our studies and just laid down on the floor and said that he didn't feel good at all. A few minutes later he decided that it was pretty serious pain, so Elder Sparks, the zone leader, took him to the hospital to get him checked out. They think it's something with his kidneys, but he goes in again tomorrow to get his analysis done. He's been doing well though since that day.

Ivana is kind of difficult to work with because of her childish attitude, bur her mom is great. She brings her to church every week and they went to conference together. Ivana also can't read, but that might be in our favor because her mom will always make sure that she does the assignments that we leave her because she reads them to her. Sister Guzman (Ivana's mom) runs a kiosco and usually sends us off with some candy and an alfajor or a drink. She has kind of a sarcastic and joking attitude, so we decided to get her a present to thank her for her kindness. We were going through the store tyring to find something we could give her when we found it. High School Musical place mats for her table featuring Troy. We havn't been back since we gave them to her, so we´re not sure if she is actually using them.

Everything is going well though. Right now we're looking to have about two or three baptisms this month on the twenty-seventh. There's also two more kids who can get baptized, but not until their mom gives them permission (they go to church with their grandma, but her mom isn't a member). So we could have four baptisms this month.

os amo,
Elder Burt

P.S.

We have an oven in our apartment with two burners, but the oven has a problem with the dial that makes it turn off unless you hold the dial in place, so we don't ever use it.
Also, candy corn pumpkins sound really good and they don't exist down here.

Whenever the next time you send something is, make sure to include a copy of my patiarchal blessing.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ostrich Burritos


Querida Familiar,

We´ve had a lot going on this week, especially in order to prepare the people we´re teaching and the branch for Conference. The first thing we had to do was make our own invitations and reminders for Conference because we weren´t able to print off any invitations because of something with the computer. But once we got those ready, we spent the rest of that day and the ext day visiting with members and non-members in order to remind and invite them to Conference. In those two days, we gave out about forty invitations; in other words, a solid two days labor.

I´m sure everyone already heard, but President Monson gave a huge announcement on Saturday during the First Session in which he said that, All worthy young men can start their mission at the age of eighteen if they´ve already graduated high school and at age nineteen for young women. It´s interesting to think that Jaden could already have a year or so out in his mission by the time I finished mine.

I rained last week though, and when it rains it doesn´t stop here. It started in the night and then continued until the next evening. For the next two days everything was muddy and all the roads were destroyed, so talking to people in the streets was a little tricky during that time. Everything was back to normal on the third day after the rain though.

One of the people we´re teaching is Mirian. Her husband is a member, but has been inactive since he was sixteen, when he started drinking and smoking. So right now we´re helping both of them to quit drinking and smoking as well as teaching Mirian the Gospel. She is doing really well with everything and will be ready for baptism soon, but she has one problem: they´re not married and have two kids. So we need to get them married before the baptism, but that´s not too hard to do here, especially since neither of them have anything against becoming married. They have a three year old son named Walter who is just a funny kid. Mirian said that he walks around with the Book of Mormon and pretends to read it and says things like, ´´Mormon says that, God is great.´´ When asked what his favorite part in the Book of Mormon was, Walter opened up to the picture of Moroni burying the plates at the front of the Book. When asked why that was his favorite part he said, ´´Because he is about to go fishing.´´

Another person we´re working with towards baptism is Ivana. She´s twenty years old and lives with her mom, who is a member. She is a little different working with for a couple reasons; one being that she is kind of a flirt and the other being that she´s all about attention. Other than that, the only real problem she has is that she drinks coffee mixed with her mate, but we have a solution for that: Malta, which is more or less a hot cocoa powder that tastes like coffee.

The other day, Elder Sparks came back from splits with another Elder in our district, Elder Farnbach, with ostrich eggs. So on Sunday, he made breakfast burritos for everyone. Then everyone got sick except for me, so that was lucky cause they had some unfortunate symptoms.


os amo,
Elder Burt

p.s.

The address I had posted before should be correct, but I also got a letter from the Stake Presidency using this address, so anything should get here using this one for sure.

Elder Joshua Burt
Argentina Resistencia Mission
Entre Rios 435
HP3500AKE Resistencia
Resistencia
Chaco
Argentina
--
Elder Joshua Covington Burt
Mission Argentina Resistencia
Entre Rios 435
CP 3500
Resistencia, Chaco
Argentina
[Mission Office] 

Argentina Mission Presidents


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Arrival to Reconquista

1 de Octobre 2012


After two straight days of travel and another day of meetings, I met my companion, Elder Clark, and we started our journey to our area, Reconquista in the Santa Fe Provence. We, along with many of the other Elders, took a taxi ride to the bus station with the luggage so we could all go to our separate areas.

While at the bus station, I talked for most of the time with Elder Cardona, an Elder from Buenos Aries who was about to go home in a few days. He was pretty cool; he had a lot of companions from the States, so he was always working on his English. He said his dad taught him a bit too before he left for his mission, but the funny thing is that his dad learned English from reading textbooks and watching the Harry Potter movies.

Our bus ride to Reconquista was four hours long, but it was on a nice grey hound type bus and it wasn´t nearly as bad as the companionship that had an eleven hour bus ride. Once we got to Reconquista, we had another short taxi ride before we got to the apartment, which is conveniently located above a pharmacy.

One other companionship lives with us, Elder Sparks and Elder Garcia. Elder Sparks is from a town in Wyoming with only five-hundred people. Elder Garcia is from Monterrey, Mexico and is already a certified message therapist. So, that first night we get back to the apartment and we´re the first ones there and not too long after we got there, Elders Sparks and Garcia showed up with hamburgers for us.

A lot of the area we work in is all dirt roads, but the city is slowing building cement roads everywhere. There is at least three wild dogs on every road, but they don´t bother people. If a dog every does start barking it will never come closer that seven feet away and even then if you just bend over and act like you are going to pick up a rock they will run off. The only thing the dogs really bother is the bus. If a bus drives down the road, every dog will start barking at it and one or two will try to attack it.

Eating with the members isn´t bad, it´s mostly rice with chicken in it. The thing that is worrisome isn´t the food though, it´s where it´s prepared. Most of the houses are just cement floors and walls, maybe bricks. but they don´t look very clean. Needless to say, we always offer to bless the food before we eat, just to make sure that whoever says the prayer asks for the food to be blessed and make us healthy.

Twice this week though, we did have, what was basically, spinach tacos. The first time was kind of awful. They don´t have tortillas here, so the family made crepes and then filled them with spinach and brocolli. The second time we had it, it wasn´t nearly as bad. They were made with something a lot closer to a tortilla and just tasted much better. The only problem with that meal is I had to eat two, which was too filling, and then have cake. After cake, the dad said, "If you like it, grab another." So I was obligated to have a second slice of cake when I didn´t even have room for the first.

There isn't a ward here, but a branch, so we have about thirty active members that come every week. There used to be five full branches here, but there was a car accident in which three leaders of the church here didn't survive, and because of that a lot of families stopped coming. So now, Elder Clark and I are the consulars to the branch president and we sit on the stand with him every Sunday and take care of all the tithing as well.

The first Sunday, one of the speakers didn´t come, so the branch president just looks and me and says, "Looks like you´re up Elder." So I got to speak my first week in the Spanish branch. I ended up just reading the story of Peter walking on the water and then compared it to how everyone is like Peter, in that we´re all trying to walk on the water in life. Something that seems impossible, but can be done as long as we keep our focus on the Savior and not worry about the waves around us. But for those times we do sink, we can always call on the Lord and he will pull us up and back onto the water.

We hear a lot of English music here, just because they think it's cool. So far I've heard everything from Kelly Clarkson to Lady Gaga to Eminem as we walk down the streets and through the grocery store.

So the super market is really different here, in that almost everything you see on the shelves was just packaged that morning, besides things like cereal, but they don't have anything in cans or things that can sit for two years in storage. Milk comes in a plastic, one liter bag, or you can get it in a box, but that's more expensive. They have Frosted Flakes (Little Sugars in Spanish) and Froot Loops here, but they're twice as much as the other cereals. So for our shopping, we just buy some cereal and juice for the week and then we have to come back everyday to buy food to make for lunch.

I had splits for two days with Elder Garcia, and in his area we were teaching a family and needed to use the computer they have to show a movie. They have a three year old who was on the computer with his hands over his ears. We asked him what he was doing and he said that he was listening to his CD, so we told him we wanted to watch a movie and he then asked for the disc so he could set it up. The CD he had in was Michael Jackson.

We were visiting another family with a three year old, and while we were asking the mom some questions, the boy yells from the other room, "¡No piden ellos. Ellos no escuchan! (Don´t ask them, they don´t even listen!)"

There are these things they eat here called alfajors. It's not something you really make, but you just have to buy them. They're basically a cookie sandwich with various things in between and then dipped in chocolate.

We we eating lunch with a husband and his wife and I was sitting on side with Elder Garcia on my left, the husband across the table from us, and his wife to my left on the other end. So we were just talking and then Elder Garcia started talking and I looked over to listen to him and then in my view also was the wife just sitting there breast feeding her baby like it was not big deal. So, I just turned and faced forward the whole time Elder Garcia was talking.

There are theser two pretty cool members in the branch named David, seventeen, and Andreas, fifteen. Andreas is alsways asking us about music because he likes things like Guns N Roses. But all the media here is from America, just translated into Spanish, so Andreas, who is pretty good at Enlgish, will always ask me things like, "So Elder, do you know Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N Roses?" or something like, "Have you ever played Call of Duty?". But then he´ll also ask for help with English too. 

View from the bus ride to Reconquista

View from my apartment in Reconquista
People consider their yard as being inside their house, so everyone has a fence around their yard and you can´t walk up to their door because that would be the same as just walking into someone´s house. So what the people do here is clap outside the fence until someone comes outside. So for missionaries, we usually sit outside when we teach people and we never walk into someone´s house unless they invite us in, even after they´ve invited us into the yard.

I also have my address below, It may not be in the correct order, but it should get here. Everything gets sent to the mission office and then we get it at our apartment within a week of it arriving to the office.

--
Elder Joshua Covington Burt
Mission Argentina Resistencia
Entre Rios 435
CP 3500
Resistencia, Chaco
Argentina
[Mission Office] 

Journey to South America

                                                                September 24, 2012
During my last week in Corpus Cristi, we set three new baptismal
dates with peoples.

The first one we set was with Michael Anthony. We´ve been trying to
meet with him for almost two weeks after we got a refferal for him
from some other Elders. He is really into history and ancient writings
and he believes that huis purpose in life is to help others, so when
we sat down with him we started talking about the history of the Book
of Mormon. After we went over that and the introduction, we turned to
3 Nephi 11 when the Savior appears to the Nephites. We went over the
verses about baptism and what it means and hy we do it. At the end of
our lesson, we asked him if he would be baptized and he said, ´´Yeah,
I think I should do that.´´

The second person we set a baptismal date with is Devin, who we met
because we helped him carry his groceries from his car to his
apartment. He had just moved to Texas and was getting everything
settled in when we first met him, so we just barely had a chance to
finally have a lesson with him. He is always trying to find something
better, whether it be a better job, a nicer car, or a house, he is
always trying to find more, but he is willing to work for it and
doesn´t just expect it. When we sat down with him, we talked about the
Gospel of Christ and how it is that thing that he has been searching
for that all his past ambitions weren´t able to fulfill for him. So
when we invited him to be baptiozed he said ´yes´ without hesitating.

The third person we set a baptismal date with was Johnathan Jackson.
He is maried and has two kids and works out in the oil rigs. He told
us how the most important thing to him is to be a good example for his
kids and to teach them what they need to do in life. We decided to
read 2 Nephi 31: 9-11 with him about Christ setting the example for al
mankind by being baptized. Before we asked him if he wanted to be
baptized, we asked him what kind of feelings he was having as we were
reading and talking and he said, ´´I just feel a hurt in my heart that
I´ve put off doing this for so long that the Lord had to send me three
guys to basically tell me to be baptized.´´ So we asked if he would
prepare himself to be baoptized and he said ´yes´.

So my journey from Corpus Cristi, Texas started at five in the morning
on Monday. We had to drive to the Stake Center where we were meeting
the other missionaries that were transfering that day. There were four
of us that needed to go farther south into Texas, so Elder Schumacher,
Sister Mitchell (who was in my Zone in Potland), Sister Oomrigar (who
was in my zone in Corpus), and I all drove down to McAllen with Sister
Oomrigar driving.

Once we got to McAllen, Elder Schumacher and I met Sister Warnick (she
was in our travel group from the MTC to Texas) at the Stake Center
with Elder and Sister Choules (one of the Senior Missionary Couples).
They took us and our luggage to the Mission Home where we met with the
Assistants to the President, who then took us to the airport.

From the McAllen Aiport, we flew north to the Dallas Fort Worth Aiport
where we had a bit of a layover. On our way to the gate, we met a
Senior Missionary couple on their way to Buenos Aires, so they were
able to help us get through customs once we landed. The whole fight
was ten and a half hours, plus about an hour to get everyone on board
and seated. After we landed, we met with a man who told us to give him
our visas and our envelopes and so we did and luckily he wasn´t some
guy who just stole missionaries passports.

From Buenos Aires, we rode a bus to a smaller airport and then flew to
Resistencia. Once we landed, we were picked up by the Mission
President, President Heymond. We loaded up our luggage into a bus and
then rode to the Mission Home in Resistencia.

We didn´t have a lot of time to write today because it is a holiday,
so they took an extra long siesta today and we didn´t have access to
internet, but I´ll write more later.

Our Mailing Address is:
Elder Josh Burt
Mission Argentina Resistencia
Entre Rios 435
Resistencia, Chaco
Argentina
CP 3500