Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lootings, pillage and plundering

Querida familia,                       16 de diciembre 2013

So I need to explain what has been happening in Resistencia in order for the following to make more sense. In Resistencia, the capital capital city of Chaco (the province where I'm located), the police have been on strike and as a result people have been looting stores and committing all manner of crimes. So, in order for our own protection, President Heyman has changed our schedule so that we our in our apartment well before it gets dark. As of yet, absolute nothing has happened here in Campo Largo where I am, but in the surrounding cities there have been lootings and even deaths (but only in Resistencia).

One of the sisters in the branch told us that this whole thing had been planned by the police so that the lootings would happen; they didn't just want a pay raise. Now the police that are in the streets are only working and protecting people who pay them a fee to protect their store. And it just so happens that I was reading about the secret combinations among the Jaredites the same day that we heard about this. 

So what happened is on Monday morning, our zone leaders called us to tell us what was happening and then said that we had to be back in the apartment before dark (which is about 7:30-8:00 at night).

We waited to see what was going to happen and we didn't hear anything that sounded like riots or chaos. I talked with Elder Humphries in a nearby city, Villa Angela, and he said that there were lootings happening and people were breaking and entering into stores there.

I guess that things had gotten worse the next morning because we were once again called by the zone leaders early in the morning, but this time we were told that we were not allowed to leave the apartment the whole day due to what was happening. I told our zone leader that I wasn't afraid, but he said that I still had to stay inside anyway. So we passed the day writing letters and cleaning the apartment.

The next day on Wednesday, the leaders once again called us to let us know that until Sunday we would be required to be in the apartment at seven. So we've been passing the days barely getting to meet with the people and having very few lessons this last week. However, we have done a great deal (Last night we were told that this schedule of returning to the apartment at seven every night would continue for the next week as well).

So in our search for the new branch president, we've had some ups and some downs. First of all, Luis, the twenty-three year old Elder, was offended in church last week because one of the sisters in the branch said that the Priesthood holders were cowards for not fulfilling with Priesthood duties, and as a result he didn't come to church yesterday. When we talked with him last Monday, he said that he "can't serve such false people." I understand; he doesn't want to submit himself to the service of people who don't support him. However, he, just as much as that sister, are in the wrong and both need to make changes. We told him that he needs to talk with her about why he is offended and resolve the issue, otherwise there will always be discontentment and anger in his heart. 

We did, however, have a good  visit with Epifanio Machado. He used to be the branch president years ago, but has since been less active in the church. We shared some scriptures with him about foreordaination and the Priesthood covenant and gave him the invitation to prepare himself. In response he said, "Maybe God is calling me once again... the last calling." Yes, God is calling. And rather loudly at the moment. Epifanio, unfortunately, didn't make it to church yesterday, but we don't know why. His work requires him to work through the night for some thirty-seven hours straight (he makes bricks), so we're guessing that that is what happened.

This week we also had a couple of activities with the branch. First, we invited everyone to come and listen to the Christmas Devotional from the first presidency and to wrap copies of the Book of Mormon as gifts while they watched and listened. The message was, "Salvation is the greatest of all God's gifts, so the greatest gift that we can give is the Gospel that makes Salvation possible." It was cool because there were three kids who came with their member friends that each took a Book of Mormon home to share with their families. 

The next morning on Saturday, we did some serious weeding in the back yard of the church. As you can see in the pictures, it hasn't been done in a while, so we got organized and got all those plants pulled and stacked. After we had finished, we bought chorizo and bread to make sandwiches and everyone got to eat some lunch.

We also have a new family that we're teaching. The mom's name is Sandra and the dad is Diego. They have two kids: a twelve year old daughter name Milagros (Miracles) and a ten year old son named José María (Joseph Mary).

So Sandra is the daughter of a member that we met the other week actually, but we had only one lesson with her. This last week, we've taught her a couple of times and her husband once (we haven't been able to talk to him more because he is only home at night and we've been shut in). But Sandra and Milagros both came to church yesterday and they (at least Sandra) liked it a lot. So now she is going to get her husband to come next week. 

The incredible thing that happened with her is the dream that she had. Her dream was divided into two parts: a sad and ugly part, and a happy and joyful part. In the good part of the dream, she saw her mom, family, and friends living in a nice community and everyone was happy and had everything that they needed. After walking around, she walked into a large house and entered into an empty room. From the other side of the room, she said, my companion and I walked in. she said that I then asked her, "Is this the life that you want, or do you want this? She then woke up (in her dream) in a hospital bed. She got up to walk around, but wasn't allowed to leave. Everywhere in the hospital she just saw all the people she cared about sick in bed and in worse condition than she was. Suddenly she was in that room again with us. I again asked her, "which life do you want?"

I can only imagine that the interpretation of the dream would have to do with her decision to accept the Gospel and live with her family and friends forever, or to reject it and live a life that isn't in the least bit desirable. So far, she is making good decisions to get the life from the good part of the dream. 

os amo,
Elder Burt

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