Monday, November 5, 2012

Math homework and a duende....

Querido familia,

This week has brought us new companions, Evangelist kids, new people progressing towards baptism, one more step forward in marriage, math homework and a duende.

Tuesday and Wednesday were really busy days in our apartment because Elder Sparks finished his mission and headed off to Resistencia to do all his exit interviews before heading off to Buenos Aires. Apparently at the end of the mission here, all the Elders get to go to the Buenos Aires temple for a day before they return to the States. So, Elder Sparks left in the morning, but his replacement wasn't going to arrive until later the next night and then one of  the two Elders, Elder Farnbach, from Vera (the other area in our zone) was transferred.

A couple weeks ago, we talked to some people sitting outside and didnt have a lesson with them, but rather just talked with them for a few minutes and asked if there would be a better time that we could sit down with them and talk about the Gospel. One of them said that he would listen to us, but the problem was that he lived in an area where there aren't any addresses, but he said to just ask for him and we'd find him eventually. So on Thursday we went into this place looking for him and we knocked on a house to get directions and it just so happened that it was his house.

The place where he lives has an interesting story to it. His house is more or less a shelter of tarps and blankets supported by boards and logs. It's basically a big, one room tent made of whatever he could find. Around his house he has a posts that stand three feet tall, linked together by barbed wire and string to create a make shift fence and gate. Now his isn't the only house like this, there are tons of them and they are all on this huge piece of land that is actually government property. What happens is people build these forts on the government land and then once they leave the government comes and takes them down, but after a while the government will get tired of trying to kick everybody off (there is about fifty of these dwellings) the government property and they will just release the land to the people. For that reason, everyone builds really cheap forts (so if they get taken down it's not too big a deal) and has a fence to act as a border of where they are going to build a real house once the government gives up the land. 

So David, this man we were looking for, just happened to be the very first house we knocked. We sat down with him and talked a little bit about the Atonement and showing forth our faith. After our discussion, we left him a copy of the Book of Mormon and an assignment to read 2 Nephi 31, which talks about the Savior's baptism. We then set a return appointment for Monday to come back and teach him.

A few days later,on Saturday, we were going to go and visit him just for a few minutes to invite him to come to church and see if he had any questions about what he read. On the way there, he rode up to us on his bicycle and starts telling us about what he read. First off, he read the whole chapter we left him and then had a dream later that night and he said that he saw himself standing in the water dressed in white and then asked us if that meant he needed to be baptized again. After that, he said he read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and Moroni's promise, neither of which we left for homework (so we know that he's been diligently reading on his own). Then he said, "I did what Moroni said to do and now I know that what you are saying is true."

So we're listening to him and thinking, "This is about as prepared as you can be to receive the Gospel; he had a vision and a spiritual confirmation", but he doesn't stop there. He went on to say that he wants cut his hair and that he wants to come to church and meet our leaders. 

He didn't come to church, but that's because he went to a funeral service for someone that drowned in the river recently.

We are now also teaching the daughter of an inactive member named Maria Ruiz-Diez. The first time we sat down with her, we went planning on her being there because we just went by to talk to her mom and younger sister (both of whom are members). But she sat down with them and listened to our spiritual message, so we invited her to be baptized and she said ´yes´. So we left her with her own copy of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Enos to read as an assignment (because she had questions about prayer).

Next time we went by to teach her, we asked her what caught her attention as she read or if she had a favorite part. She started showing us some verses in Enos, but then keep going into other books. It turns out that she had read all the books  between Jacob and Mosiah just because she wanted to. So she is starting off really well, but her biggest obstacle is going to be quiting smoking, but she has the desires to do it. So for our first lesson with her, we taught the Word of Wisdom and how we can accomplish all things through our faith and actions. It was kind of a struggle to teach her, not by any fault of her, but because her mom was always trying to talk about something else (just an attitude of "I'm a member, I already know this").

Maria also did not come to church because she was at the service for the person who drowned in the river, but we are going to teach her again on Tuesday.

Last night, we went to visit a part member family who is also inactive. The mom is going back to school to graduate from Secondary (their equivalent to high school), so when we asked if there was anything we could do to help out the family she asked if either of us knew math. Elder Clark just pointed at me and said, "He does." So she went and got her binder and showed me her math homework: geometry.  It was kind of a slow start trying to figure out how to solve the problems for two reasons: First, it was all in Spanish so all the math words are different. Second, I havn't had geometry in five years. But once I got going it all came back. Then explaining it was the hard part, mostly because her son kept trying to jump ahead in the explanation and he was explaining it wrong, but we got there in the end. The assignment was writing the equation of a line when you only have two points.

So there is this family that is inactive that we visit about once a week to try to get them excited about the church again, but they never come. Just recently; however, their son just got out of prison and his girlfriend wants to get baptized, so we figured we would go and try to find them and see how promising her desires really were. She, nor the son, were there so we just had a spiritual message with them as usual. Their other son who lives with them is twenty-one years old and he just has a huge collection of random stuff. So during our visit, he gave Elder Clark a golf ball and he gave me a Duende (A duende is one of their mythical creatures, but the story with them is that they are supposed to be charms that you carry with you). He said that if I carry it around that I will have luck and women. So I said, "Perfect, those are the two things I need the most as a missionary."

os amo,
Elder Burt

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