Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"What are you doing with your testimony?"

Querido familia,                     3 de Septiembre 2013 
So we were going to write yesterday, but there is only one place to use computers in this city and it was closed all day and we didn't have time to go to it while it was open during the morning. The city is so small that there aren't any supermarkets, just mini mart type stores that sell basic things; there isn't any one stop shopping. 

So I had even more changes that I really wasn't expecting this week. Just last week the mission received almost forty new missionaries, mostly sisters, and as a result that are quite a few changes in the mission. So Elder Sacalxot was sent to open up a new area in a nearby city and I got a new companion fresh from Mexico. His name is Elder Miramontes (Looks At Mountains). 

So what happened is that we got called at nine-thirty at night and were informed about the changes. Elder Sacalxot started to pack and we left just a few hours later at three in the morning to be able to get everywhere on time. I went to Resistencia to pick up my new companion and there we had lunch and a presentation/welcome to the mission for the new missionaries. Even though Elder Miramontes is new to the mission, he already has five months as a missionary that he served in Mexico, so I wont actually be training him as a new missionary from the MTC. 

It is pretty funny and interesting the difference between his Spanish and mine because for the last eleven months I have been learning, listening to, and using the words that they use in Castellano and Elder Miramontes only speaks Spanish from Mexico. Needless to say, there are some differences. So what happens is that he doesn't understand me or the people sometimes because we use words that he has never heard or that have another meaning in his country. So he is always trying to learn the differences in words and culture. I think the funniest observation that he made was when he said, "I though that Argentina was better off than Mexico, but now I see that I was wrong; I never thought that Mexico would be so much better than Argentina."

This week we've been talking a lot with the land lady of our apartment. I'm not sure why we didn't before or what has changed, but we've just been conversing quite a bit lately. She is a really nice lady and is eighty years old. She always wants to chat because she says we make "healthy conversation" instead of just talking about the neighbors. She always calls us "the angels in white shirts and ties." On Saturday, we had a baptism and I invited her to come, but she already had something to do, so I gave her a copy of the Liahona magazine. Then yesterday morning when we talked to her, she said that she was thinking about suicide and saw the Liahona that I had given her, so she started to read and felt a peace and didn't have those thoughts anymore. She said that she has a lot of questions for us about what she read, so we invited her to church and she said that she would have to come one of these days.

I've always been working quite a bit with the branch in the capacity of branch president. It's a ton of work and I've been trying to find a way to balance my responsibilities as a missionary and as a branch president; with so many things to do it seems like there is never enough time for either one of them. Right now I'm planning an activity with the leaders of the youth groups from my branch and the branch of a nearby city in the same district for the youth to have. It's a huge effort and it's no wonder why all the leaders in the church have two counselors to help them. Right now I really want to get the church put in order because right now I fell like the organization was left in chaos and was not organized well and the church is supposed to be a perfect organization; a house of order. 

I've been doing a lot of interviews with the members as well lately; helping leaders by advising them and giving brief trainings to help them magnify their callings as well as extending callings to those who don't have them. I always like to start every interview by asking people about their testimony and sharing the scriptures in Matthew when Peter gives his testimony of Christ. Then the penetrating question is, "what are you doing with your testimony of the Savior?"
Karen's little brother, Estaban
So we had the baptism of Karen Gonzalez this last Saturday that went really well despite the challenges that we had in preparing things. It took us basically the entire day on Friday to clean out the font because we had to drain the whole thing using buckets; throwing water out the nearest window. But we got it done and got the font nice and clean before filling it with fresh water. 
The baptism itself was really nice because there was good member support and a lot of Karen's friends and other kids from the primary came to see it. Even her mom and grandma come to the baptism and they don't have any interest in the church; Karen's mom says that she is more than happy to provide support in the home with their scripture reading and prayers, but won't go to the church. So it was really nice to see them there. Afterwards we all had sweet bread and soda for refreshments.

We're planning to have another baptism on this Saturday for a boy who just turned eight and we're also going to be seeing if we can make it into a double baptism with Rafael, the twelve year old boy that we've been teaching. He's already been to church quite a bit and we were waiting to see if his brothers would progress so that they could get baptized together, but that hasn't been the case.

On Sunday, when we had our fast and testimony meeting, there was a man who is evangelist that comes with his wife who is a member. I'm pretty sure that I mentioned him last week; his name is Francisco and I gave him a haircut last week. Anyway, he went to the front of the congregation and shared his testimony for fifteen minutes and then sang an evangelist hymn at the end. It was actually better than I expected it to be; the only apostasy that he said was that Christ went to Hell during the three days between His death and resurrection. 

os amo,
Elder Burt

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