Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Miracles in dreams

Querida familia,                    21 de Octubre 2013

I think this week we have seen Hugo, Belquis, Marta, and Omar on almost a daily basis for one reason or another. They've really been progressing; especially Marta and Omar.

Elder Marilaf, an Elder from Chile, came to spend a couple of days with me while my companion, Elder Miramontes, went to stay with Elder Marilaf's companion, Elder Beach. While Elder Marilaf was with me, he went and interviewed Hugo for baptism and cleared him to get in the water. So now, Hugo and Belquis are both ready to get baptized with just one slight obstacle: the marriage. We've been waiting for probably a month, if not a little more, for the papers we need to come through.

The wedding for Omar and Marta on the other hand is progressing quite a bit more rapidly. This morning we went with Omar to the courthouse to get his ID renewed; his ID was expired since he was eight years old and has never renewed it. So now that that's all done we just have to wait for his new card to arrive, which should only take a week or less, and then we'll be able to get everything else in order and should see a wedding within two weeks.

On Tuesday night, Elder Marilaf and I went to see Marta and Omar just because we needed to ask them a question, but we ended up having a much more important need for being there. When we got there we asked how things were and Omar said, "not so great." Well that was a strange response from him until he showed us his fingers; he had cut two of them with a machete while he was working. It was pretty bad looking and I almost asked him if I could take a picture, but I didn't He had a pretty deep cut on his middle finger that needed stitches and had cut off the corner of his index finger. So we explained what a Priesthood blessing was and then offered him one. He accepted.

The blessing he received was really cool. The greater part of it had nothing to do with the healing of his fingers, but rather to be a leader in his home and in his family. I'm pretty sure that Omar is going to become a leader in the Church. After the blessing he just sat there for five or seven minutes while we talked with Marta and Rosa; the blessing was probably the most powerful manifestation of the Spirit that he has ever felt and he was completely overcome by it.

But lately Omar has been reading and praying on a daily basis. Marta says that he always reads out loud and then asks Marta if she heard what he read. On Saturday, Omar was asking what it was that he needed to do before he could be baptized; what things he had left to do. He wanted to verify his baptismal date and Marta was kind of making fun of him and asked if he was in a big hurry to get baptized. Marta said that he just can't wait to be like us.

They did, however, have some interesting problems lately. They said that whenever they are in their home that Javier, their one year old son, starts to say, "no," over and over and doesn't want anyone to touch him, but that he doesn't act that way when we're there. So this morning after going with Omar to get his documents put in order, we went with him to his house and blessed the house. Javier seemed to be happy when we left, so I hope that that will be the end of their problems.

Something that doesn't usually happen to us too much is hear stories about incredible dreams, but we heard two this week. 

First there was a member visiting her sister from Buenos Aires who had told the story about how she had really, truly converted to the Lord and decided that she was always going to keep the commandments. It happened to her when one day she woke up and couldn't feel her legs. She could use them, but not effectively and as a result spent the whole day in bed. The experience really scared her and her family. So she started to pray and think about why this had happened to her. Then she remembered the things she had been doing lately and how she had been acting and what she had been doing on Sundays. She realized that she hadn't done anything to keep the Sabbath day holy and then had the following thought, "You were able to walk fifteen blocks to go and buy clothes on Sunday, but you weren't able to walk six blocks to go to my Church?" She then made the commitment to always go to church and offered a prayer to express her desires. In that moment she could feel a warm, calming sensation come over her and the feeling in her legs returned and she was again able to walk. 

The other experience was from a local member who had been experiencing hip pain. His experience was quite as transforming, but rather more interesting. He had prayed and fasted for relief from his pain when one night he had a dream that he was in a hospital. He said that someone dressed in white had come to him, but he couldn't see who it was, just that they seemed to radiate light. This person then gave him some kind of injection and when he woke up from his dream he didn't have any more pain and hasn't ever since.

Elder Burt

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book of Mormon beats the cockroach

Querida familia,                     14 de Octubre 2013

We actually started this week off by traveling because on Tuesday we had interviews, as well as meetings with other missionaries, with President Heyman in a city that is about an hour and a half away from us called Saenz Peña.  On Monday night, we took a bus that left at eight-thirty and we got to Saenz Peña around ten. It should have only taken us ten or fifteen mintues to get to the apartment of the other Elders, but we thought we knew where we were going, but we actually didn't. So we spent the first fifteen minutes walking in the wrong direction, but we got to where we needed to be once we asked for directions from the first person we saw in the street.

So we spent the night on Monday with two of my previous companions, Elder Sacalxot and Elder Humphries. So we all had a good time sharing stories and talking about what has happened and what we had previously done together.

I had a good interview with President Heyman the next day on Tuesday. He told me that he had actually been putting me in hard areas and that he was proud of the work that I had done in them. Since then, those areas have seen quite a bit of growth and many more missionaries have been sent to my previous areas. In Reconquista, my first area in Argentina for example, there are now four companionship's and when I was there, there were only two. It was kind of funny because he had said, "I don't want to make it sound like you're at the end of your mission, but you've been a great missionary and have done great work." 

Later that day when we had gotten back to Campo Largo, we were walking along and there were four or five girls who were grouped up in front of a store whom were looking at us as we got closer to passing them when all of the sudden they started to say things to me like, "hey, my love," "my life." they must not have known that my mom said that I can't bring any Argentine girls home with me. The next day one of those girls was sitting on the back seat of a moped that passed us and she made a kissing sound and again called out, "my life!"

I feel like we got a lot of things done on Tuesday, because not only did we have trainings and interviews, but I also gave three people haircuts. My clippers are wireless, so I brought them with us to go meet with Hugo and Omar because I had offered them haircuts and they were more than ready to accept. They had their doubts, but I assured them by saying, "I cut mine own hair." Hugo wanted a guarantee that all the women would fall in love with him. I don't know how he knew that all the girls are crazy for me because we never said anything about the aforementioned incident to him.
what was interesting about the hair cuts was that for the first time we saw that Hugo had a cross tattooed onto his forehead. We still haven't decided how it got there or why he got it.
You can't really tell in the pictures, but I did a great job with all the hair cuts. Nahuel, who is only three years old, didn't even budge while I cut his hair. the haircut that I gave Nahuel was actually requested and is called "the dragon." It is done by cutting the sides and a part of the back short and the top and middle-back long.

As far as progress goes for baptisms, Omar and Marta came to church for the second time now and they are enjoying it. We're still waiting for the papers for Hugo and Belki's marriage license, but Belki already had her baptismal interview and all ready to go. We couldn't check on the progress of the papers because it's a holiday here and the government buildings are closed, but tomorrow Hugo is going to get his interview. We had planned to do it at the same time that Belki had her's, but on his way home from work, Hugo's moped broke down and he had to walk and didn't get home until midnight; and frankly, we just can't wait that long. 

So we've had three days of rain here this week, which means that the bugs are seeking refuge. In two days, we found three cockroaches in our apartment, but we've never had them before. So we supposed that they had to be coming in from somewhere else, because they havn't been a problem before. Well, that was exactly what the problem was; there is a drain in the foyer area and they had been coming in from there. So we read in Alma chapter thirty one, verse five that, 

"the word... had more powerful effect upon the... than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God."

 So that's what I did; I put a box full of the book of Mormon on top of the drain to block the whole and we haven't had a single cockroach since.

Inline image 1

os amo,
Elder Burt

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Destroying virus!

Figuring things out

Music in the one territory where no one can do us wrong
Out setup to be able to watch General Conference. It's not exactly like watching it at the Stake Center

Working hard and getting things done

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Thou hast the words of eternal life"

Querido familia,                           9 de Octubre 2013

So the cultures are all very different in all pars of the world, but you would think that some things stay they same no matter where you go. well, that just may not be the case. Belki had told us that in anticipation for their marriage, Hugo's mom, Rosa, had purchased a couple of wedding rings to give to them as a gift so that they had something to exchange during the ceremony. Well on Tuesday when we were talking with Hugo about how everything was going with him, I had asked him about the rings and he said that he had no idea what I was talking about. So it turns out that the rings were actually a surprise and that Hugo hadn't actually known about them. It was after our lesson with them that I learned that it's common for the wedding rings to be presented as a surprise gift for the bride and groom. So I had accidentally spoiled the surprise unknowingly, but how could I have known that the culture of Argentina is that the groom's mom buys the wedding rings for him and his future spouse?

Other than that, the wedding is moving along slowly. We still haven't received the response letter from the other city that we need in order to bring their wedding to pass. We're hoping that it will get here at least by this week because we had planned in having the baptism on the nineteenth and we don't want to keep pushing it back. 

On Wednesday, we went looking for some less-active whom we still haven't meant to invite them back to church and to teach the members for their family who are still not members of the church. It was just such a sad activity to do. So many people have distanced themselves from the church and want to be separated. On the map of the city we have in the apartment, there are pins that mark where the members live and each color represents their current state; whether it be less-active, active, or part-member family. In our map, however, is a label that I had never seen in any other map in the mission: "apostate." So when we went to do these visits, we visited some of these members who had been labeled as "apostate" in the hopes that they couldn't truly be in rebellion against the Church, but we were wrong. Some people try to hide from us, others just don't answer the door, and there are some who even send their drunk friends to tell us that they moved (even when we had just seen them run inside the house).

There was another boy named Rodrigo who had been coming to church for a few weeks (almost as long as I have been here in Campo Largo) and last Sunday he asked me if he could be baptized. Well I told him that you only have to be baptized once for your whole life. that's when he told me that he never has been baptized. Well I wasn't too sure because I though that he was a member, so I looked in the records and sure enough he wasn't a member of the Church. So we went to his house to talk with him and his parents so that we could start teaching him. When we got there, his mom came out and talked to us and told us that Rodrigo's dad isn't going to be allowing him to go to church anymore because, "the family is catholic."

I had me thinking in all the times in the scriptures that the prophets have mourned the wickedness of the people. I especially thought in the instances in which more and more of the followers of Christ slowly abandoned Him as His teachings become more and more difficult to understand and live. In one instance, the Savior had taught about the participating in the sacrament, an ordinance that the people had not yet seen, and they said amongst themselves, "this word is difficult. Who can hear it?" Christ then taught them that all things are spiritual and that understand and testimony come through the Spirit. It was then in that moment that, as the scriptures say, there were many who no longer walked with Him. In this moment of great loss, the Savior turned to His chosen Twelve and asked them, "do you also want to go?" Responding to the Master's question, Peter said, "Lord, to whom will we go? Thou has the words of eternal life."

I know that it is by and through Christ that we can obtain eternal life and that it is only through His teachings that we can be happy in this life and I know that at one time these people also knew it, but they chose to walk in forbidden paths and were lost in the cloud of darkness. In the midst of all this I had to think what it was that we were doing here when the people are so wicked that they do not know Christ neither do they want to know Him. But I know that we do a great deal of good for those who faithful few who are participating in the Gospel.

It has been kind of funny though, because there is a neighbor of Hugo Belki, Marta, and Omar that is always trying to convince them that they should not join the church, that they shouldn't get married, and that they should stop listening to us. On one occasion, this man had found Marta alone and told her that we practice witchcraft. To him she said, "Oh really? That's even better!" I thought that it was a witty response and shows that she isn't going to be shaken by some neighbor trying to cause trouble.

On Thursday we had planned to practice the baptismal interview with Hugo and Belki, but Hugo hadn't returned from work yet, so we talked with Belki, Marta, and Rosa. It was really funny because Marta started to say things like, "yeah, Omar has been doing really great. He prays every night and has been reading the scriptures," and then Belki started to say, "Yeah, well Hugo has been praying a lot. He prays before going to work, when he wakes up, when we eat, and before he goes to bed." And they kept going like that for a few minutes in their competition of whose boyfriend does more. 

Now we're starting a program in the branch that will act like a family home evening for the entire branch. What I want to do is hold it in the houses of the members, especially those who are less-active so that they can have lots of contact with the active members who will come and from there they can feel the Spirit and have more desires to come back to church. So we had our first branch night this last Friday night in the house of Selva Dominguez, the sister who gives us lunch every Thursday. It went well enough; there were probably eight or nine members who came and they all brought plenty of food to share. We got kind of distracted though because one of the memebrs, Luis, showed up a little later on and started to almost chastize the memebers and praise them at the same time. But everyone still enjoyed their time and everyone is excited for the next one.

The general conference went well for us here, but it required a lot of work to get everything ready. I had to spend probably eight hours working on the computer to get everything working right, so that it would be fast enough to be able to stream the conference live. But I got everything working and the members were able to watch and enjoy the conference.

Even though it's Wednesday and we're writing late, I'm only going to write up until Sunday for now. Otherwise, I'll only have half a week to write about come Monday.

os amo,
Elder Burt