Saturday, November 30, 2013

Blood money

Querida familia,                  26 de Noviembre 2013

We had a pretty solid week of finding new people to teach as well as having some great progress with one of the people whom we´ve recently found.

It all  started on MOnday night when we had an appointment to visit with a member, Nelly Lezama, who was going to invite her non-member sister to come and visit with us. When we to to the appointment, however, the sister wasn't there and wasn't able to make it. There was present, however, a friend of Nelly's named Monica Garrido. Nelly invited her to come into the room and talk with us and as we got to know each other and answer her questions about the church we ended up having a great conversation. 

At first, she was kind of closed, so we asked her about her family, work, and day to day life as well as answer the questions she had about the church. With a little bit more time, she told us that she had actually been searching for the right church for years and has studied with many different religions. As she began to trust more in us, so began to tell us us more until we finally got to the thing that really bothered her: she felt like God just didn't answer her prayers. 

So we talked about prayer and how it is that our  Heavenly Father answers and listens to our prayers. We taught her how to recognize an answer from God how the Spirit talks to us. We shared some scriptures and some experiences and then towards the end of our conversation she said, "I feel like God spoke to me through that verse." 

We haven't been able to see her since last Monday because she lives so far away, but we're just waiting for the opportunity to visit with her again.

We had a district conference (like a stake conference) this weekend in a nearby city called Saenz Peña. In order to help the members attend the meetings, I sent a letter to the super intendent of the state asking him to provide us with a small bus in order to transport the members from Campo Largo to Saenz Peña. 

Now this wasn't some crazy idea that I had come up with, it was actually a very plausible and good idea. Here in Argentina, the politicians always do favors for the people so that the people will re-elect them the next election.

So I sent the letter in and then two days later I went in to his office to check for the answer that our letter received. We were then told that he would have been given the bus to us, but the problem was that it was broken down in another city that wasn't even close. The super intendent's secretary asked if we wanted it for the next week, but that didn't really help us as much.

So the majority of the members went to the conference in train and some took a travel bus- We had to be to the conference a day early because I had to be in the session for Priesthood leaders with the other branch presidents in the district. 

So we had that session for leaders in the Priesthood and then a session for adults later that night. The next morning on Sunday we had the general session. It was pretty crazy to see that many people gathered together in a church, but it was before the session while talking to some other American missionaries that we realized we have more people come to our regular Sunday meetings every week in every ward back in the States. We are all just so used to seeing only thirty people at  church every Sunday that when two-hundred showed up it was incredible.

The conference was really fun though because we got to stay with a bunch of other missionaries, including one of my previous companions Elder Humphries. On Saturday night, we had ten missionaries sleeping in one apartment and we had borrowed mattresses from nearby members so that everyone could sleep relatively comfortably.

I don't think that I mentioned last week, but we found a girl and her sisters who had previously been taught by the missionaries. Their names are: Deborah, Ivana, and Rocio. We only have taught all three of them once and that was the very first lesson, but since them we've taught Rocio a couple of times. 

Initially, they we are very hesitant to accept a baptismal date, but when we had our second lesson with Rocio some things had changed. I asked her if she had prayed about the things hat we shared with her since our first visit, in which we taught about faith, repentance and baptism, and she said that she had prayed the night before. She then described how she felt after praying and she had indeed felt the Spirit. When asked how she feels about baptism she said, I'm getting more desires to baptize me."

So we proceeded to teach her about the Church and the prophet Joseph. At the end of the lesson we invited her to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet and if he, in reality, restored the original Church of Jesus Christ. Two days later we went by to see how she was and to teach a little bit more. I asked about her prayer; if she had done it and how she felt. Of her experience she said, "it was as if God gave me a sign." She knows without a doubt that Joseph Smith is a  prophet and that he was the chosen servant to restore the Church.

Unbelievably, but somehow not surprisingly, we've hit even more obstacles in the marriage of Omar and Martha. 

On Monday, Martha went to the court house in the other city, Las Breñas, and was able to get all of the documents and updates that she need. So that was really great, but the next step proved to be a new challenge. They need to get a blood analysis before they can get married, but it would appear that the doctors and hospital are corrupt. A blood analysis is a free service provided by the government, but when Martha and Omar went to submit their papers, they were told that they needed to pay an additional hundred pesos or otherwise there could be "complications." 

So I talked to President Heyman about what had happened and he said that we shouldn't pay the money. So we'll just turn in the papers and see what happens. I can't imagine that the staff would just refuse to do their job since we didn't pay their blood money (that pun was intended).

os amo,
Elder Burt

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