Monday, August 26, 2013


Querido familia,                       26 de Agosto 2013

So here in Campo Largo there are quite a few members who give us lunch and we eat three or four times a week with members.

On Tuesday we ate with the Relief Society President Nelly Machada. She made us milanesa (meat that has been breaded and cooked in oil), salad, and birthday cake (it was Elder Sacalxot's birthday the week before I came).

On Thursday we ate with a member who was recently baptized named Selva Dominguez and her son Luis Perez. She made for us noodles and chicken cooked in the oven.

On Friday, Sister Mirtha Fernandez cooked goat (which is actually good) and noodles. It was kind of funny though. She had called us the morning of the day that we were going to eat with her and she asked, "Elders, do you eat goat?" I looked at my companion and he just shrugged his shoulders and said to me, "sure." So I told Sister Fernandez that we do eat goat and that it sounds good. And surprisingly enough it was good; it didn't really have a unique flavor or anything.

On Saturday we had empanadas with the first counselor in the young womens presidency Alejandra Duarte. It was anything new or something that we don't regularly eat, but it's good anyway.

But those were our meals this week.

We've been teaching a girl named Karen Gonzalez who is eight years old; her older sister, Dayana, is already a member, but her parents aren't. Due to her age, we've been making sure to teach in a very simple manner so that she understands the principles and concepts. So, this last Monday we taught her about tithing and fast offerings and we had bought a big bag of tootsie roll type candies to help us. What we did is we gave ten tootsies to each of the kids who were there (there were five) except for Karen. At the point that she didn't receive any candy I assured her that she would. So we explained that they had all just been "blessed" with ten tootsies and now they needed to pay their tithing. So they all gave one tootsie back to me. I then explained how tithing and fast offerings are used to help other people and then gave everyone's returned tootsies to Karen plus four more so that they all ended up with nine. I then explained that for being obedient they would blessed and gave them all more tootsies, so that they all ended with more than they started with.

Later on Wednesday we were going to practice the baptismal interview with Karen and decided that we were just going to review the concepts briefly and then draw something to represent the idea of the commandment. Now that I think about it I should have taken a picture with everyone and their drawings, but I didn't have my camera with me.

So when Friday came around it was time for Karen to have her baptismal interview. She did very well, but at the very end when she was asked if she was ready to be baptized she said, "no." It's alright though because she said that she'll be ready this Saturday. So now we're preparing her baptism for the thirty-first.

On Tuesday we had a meeting with all the other elders from the zone and as part of our training we were all asked to come to the front of the room and and explain a Gospel word in a way that a child could understand it. So one elder was asked to explain "exaltation" and couldn't think of how to say it. So the leaders asked if anyone could help him. I said, "being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" and it got some laughs even if it didn't really help us define exaltation more clearly.

When we had lunch with Luis and Selva, Luis started telling us all his stories about the times he has had debates with people from other religions, whether they were members of that church or missionaries. He said that one day the Jehova's Witnesses came to visit him and they asked if they could come back with some more members of their congregation and Luis told him that would be fine if he could invite two of his friends. They asked if his friends were the Elders and he said that they were and he says that now the Jehova's Witnesses haven't been to his house since.

He was also telling us about someone who made the comment that the missionaries are annoying become they always want to talk to you and visit you in your house. So Luis asked him, "who else in this world comes to your house every day to offer you salvation? To me that isn't annoying."

This week I had the opportunity to give service. There is a member who's husband is a member of the evangelist church, but sometimes comes to our meetings. He doesn't want to get baptized (trust me, I already invited him and got kind of mad), but he likes to visit. But his wife mentioned how he needed a haircut and how it's difficult for them to get to the barber shop (her husband, Francisco, needs a wheel chair), so I told her that I have a machine to cut hair. So we went back the next day and I gave him a hair cut.

Yesterday, I invited all the leaders from the organizations of church to come to have a branch council meeting and it went pretty well. I gave a training that took about thirty minutes (even after I had shortened it), but it went really well. I taught about how it is that we are going to do the missionary work and I based the training on the parallel chapters of Alma chapter twenty-six, verses twenty-three through thirty-one as well as Heleman fifteen verses four through eight. I also threw in Jacob chapter five verse seventy-two just because I like it. We had a really good meeting though. Our plan this Saturday is to have all the members that can make it come to the church at four in the afternoon, split into companionships and go and visit a many less active members as they can in an hour and a half, and then all come back to the chapel at six for the baptism of Karen Gonzalez. We decided to call it "Super Saturday of Visits," but Elder Sacalxot wants to call it "Member Hunting." 

os amo,
Elder Burt

Monday, August 19, 2013

Branch President again....

Querido familia,                   19 de Agosto 2013

This week held a few surprises for us. While we were looking for a member that we've yet to find or get to know, we ran into a guy who  asked us if we spoke English. We told him that yes, we do speak English and he started to speak with us in English. After talking with him for a few minutes he told us about how he used to live in Kentucky for fifteen years raising horses for the Kentucky derby. It was really fun to talk to him about the United States and his experiences. When we started talking to him about the church he said that he has  lot of friends in the States that are members and that he really likes the temples that he has seen.

On Tuesday we had a meeting in Paso De Los Libres with all the elders in our zone because the next day was going to be transfers. So we all went there and had a meeting and did some trainings and then we all played ping pong while we waited for our bus to come. The Argentine elders tend to be really good at ping pong because all the chapels here have ping pong tables instead of basketball hoops.

So once we had gotten back to our apartment in Mercedes later that night, the zone leaders called everyone on a conference call to let everyone know what changes would be happening. Elder Reynolds was going to stay in Mercedes and I was reassigned to another area called Campo Largo (Long Field) in the province called Chaco. The branch is pretty good here, but there ins't really any Priesthood, so I am serving as the branch president.

My new companion is Elder Sacalxot from Guatemala. His Spanish is pretty good I'd say. We've been working really well together and we're actually planning a baptism for this Saturday.

I'm still trying to remember who is who in all the people that I've been meeting. 

There is one boy that we taught who is nine or ten I think that isn't a member, but his mom or sister is. His name is Damiro. I wanted to get him excited to come to church and to be more comfortable with us, so in our first lesson with him I taught him how to make the the Vulcan symbol with his hand from Star Trek and then we read in first Nephi three, seven. So we talked about how we need to have a good attitude about keeping the commandments, even when it seems hard. We then memorized the phrase, "I will go and I will do," with him. It is now his motto.

Saturday here was Children's Day and there was a big activity for it in the branch. The young women did the majority of the work getting this prepared and decorating the chapel; we just went around and invited everyone, did some cleaning, and purchased all the things that were needed. It all went really well though. There were about forty kids that came. They all played games and the primary president made hot chocolate for everyone.

On our way home that night however, a dog came up to us and it actually bit Elder Sacalxot. I was pretty surprised by that because I've never come close to being bit nor have I every seen anyone else get bit. It wasn't bad though; it mostly just left a bruise and put a hole in his pants. We just need to go back there in a week to see if the dog died from rabies; if not we received permission to take it out ourselves.

os amo,

Elder Burt

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Looking for lost sheep

Querido familia,                             12 de Agosto 2013

So maybe a month ago I was talking about a man whom we had begun teaching named Lisandro. He is the one who was a reformed convict that knew a ton of stuff about the scriptures. Well we weren't able to ever find him for the longest time until last Wednesday night.

We were walking down the street and we saw a guy across the street who turned toward us and got a big smile on his face. We walked up to him as we crossed the street and realized that it was Lisandro. He told us that his landlord didn't want us coming by anymore, so that's why we haven't been able to find him (his landlord is an evangelist that claims to be a prophet). He also told us that his name was actually Luciano and that he just never corrected us before. 

It was really funny though because no one can ever remember ELder Reynolds name (it's just too long and difficult to say) and everyone just remembers mine. So Luciano told us that he was thinking to himself, "When am I going to see them again? I remember that one of their names was "Burt," but how am I going to find them?" Well we kind of found each other. 

It's still a tough situation though, because he is still living where he used to and we can't teach him there because we aren't welcome there. 

Last Sunday I mentioned that we started teaching a girl named Soledad Pavón and her friend Noemi Acuña. Well the second time that we went to meet with them went really well. Soledad had lost the page that we had marked for her to read, so she just started reading the introduction She never said that she had read it, but we knew later on because Noemi asked the question, "Who is Mormon?" and Soledad, without even hesitating, said, "Oh, he's a prophet." So we're happy with the iniciative on her part to be proactive in reading.

The next time we went by to visit Soledad and Noemi, one of the sisters from the branch, Silvia Gonzalez, went with us to teach them. It worked out really well because Silvia was telling them the story of her conversion. She said tht when the Elders would teach her that she would always be told that she needs to read and pray, but would never do it for one reason or another. Then one day she finally did it and prayed about the Book of Mormon and recieved a testimony. So that was really cool to have her with us in that lesson; for her to say, "I was once in your position and I did what they're asking you to do. And it works; it's real."

So on Saturday night, we were talking with a less-active family and they told us that there had been a crash not far from their house the night before between a traveling bus and a truck that was really bad. Then later that night I realized that we had plans to be in that area where the crash had happened, but for some reason we never made it over there and avoided the crash all together. So whether we were guided away from it or it was just a coincidence I don't know, but all the same I know that all things work together for our good.

os amo,

Elder Burt

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fixing the font

Querido familia,                           5 de Agosto 2013
My young friend Alex
So this Saturday we had the baptism of María Soto and we spent a lot of time this week getting everything ready for the baptism and it's a good thing that we did because we ran into a ton of problems along the way.
De-rusting the stairs
On Thursday, we went to the chapel to see what we needed to do about getting the font filled up, because we don't have a real font, but rather a metal frame that has a tarp inside of it. But that wasn't the problem, the portable font was just dirty and needed to be washed and disinfected. The real issue was the water pump in the chapel. Previously the basement had flooded, so President Baldovino had done some homemade repairs and re-wired a couple of things in order to get power around to where he wanted it and that may have caused some difficulties. 
Maria's daughter, Camila
So on Friday we went in with the intent to not leave until we had found a way to get water running in the chapel again or until we had an alternate solution to get the font filled (the back up/last resort plan was to buy a super long hose and ask the neighbors if we could use their water to fill up the font). But much to our surprise, we arrived at the chapel to find three other men already there working on things. We hadn't called anybody, but we certainly had prayed for a way to get the font filled so that the baptism could be a success; we would have attributed these three men to the three nephites if it wasn't for the fact that I already knew one of them (he used to be President Heyman's counselor before the mission divided).
Cleaning the font
So they did some work and we talked to them about the problems that we were having and eventually they got the water working. So then they left and we continued working and getting things set up. Then we had another issue because the water stopped working after an hour and then not long after the lights started to flicker before going out completely. Well, we didn't really have any more time to work on anything there, so we left with the hope that everything would somehow work out in less than twenty-four hours. 

I was able to talk to two of the three men that were working on the chapel on Saturday morning and they said that the problem was likely coming from the city; Elder Reynolds said that was typical response; it's always some other group's fault that something doesn't work or someone else's product failed. So we got the city over to look at things and sure enough it was a problem on their end and we got everything we needed and ready before the baptism.

So we didn't have a big turn out to the baptism, but it was really good. the water was kind of cold, but I wasn't the one in it either. María had a really good experience and it was cool because it was very lightly raining that day; it made me think of the song "I Like To Look For Rainbows."

We had another really cool experience on Thursday with Oscar Alvarez, the less active member that I was talking about last week. He asked us how long we had known about him before we decided to go visit him. We compared notes a came to our conclusion that we found him only one day after having looked for him. He then told us that the reason that he wanted to know was that because two days before we found him he had been confused and felt lost and wasn't sure what he needed to do. So, he had been praying for the guidance that he lacked and two days later we showed up at his door. 

On Wednesday we had interviews with President and Sister Heyman, so we went to Paso De Los LIbres to have lunch and meet with them. With them also came Brother Holm and his wife from the United States; their the Heyman's friends and neighbors and they came to visit them in Argentina for a time. Brother Holm is a lawyer, so I spent a lot of time talking to him about political processes and law and I shared with him a little bit about the "We The People" program that I took. It was really interesting and had me thinking about careers to do in political science; he said that studying Political Science and English as majors and minors would be the biggest advantage in a law school. 

Afterwards, Elder Reynolds and I went with Elder Otterstein and Elder Hasleton in their area because our bus didn't go back to Mercedes until eleven forty-five. So Elder Otterstein and I went out together and at the end of the night when we all got back we found out that Elder Hasleton had led himself and Elder Reynolds to a dangerous area where people usually get robbed. Of this Elder Hasleton said, "Well I felt the Spirit so I wasn't worried about it." So I told him, "well I'm sure that Abinidi felt the Spirit too right before he died."

On Sunday, President Baldovino, the branch president, and I went to go look for some people to invite to church when we went to a lady's house named Mercedes Itati. We clapped outside their gate and her youngest son Mauro, who is about five years old, came to the window and asked what we needed. We told him that we had come by to invite them to and offer them a ride to church. So he said that he'd be right back and then his older sister, Agustina, came who is probably thirteen years old. She then told us that they wouldn't be able to go to church because the baby was sick. Mauro then said, "The baby doesn't have a single problem," Agustina then insisted that the baby did indeed have a fever, "She's lying," interjected Mauro. Agustina gave her brother a look before he said, "She just hit me!" So we just said that we'd come by some other time. President Baldovino got a pretty good laugh out of that whole conversation.

os amo,
Elder Burt