Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Feast upon the word and endure to the end...

Querida familia,                                           25 De Marzo 2014
So this week was the first week that I've ever gotten sick in the mission, but it really wasn't bad at all. I just had a cold and took some pills for it. But this is what happened:

On Tuesday, we started to a companion exchange that was to last for four days (so for the majority of the week I wasn't even in Quitilipi) and I went to Saenz Peña with an Elder that I met when I very first arrived in Argentina: Elder Mojica from El Salvador.

That first night together, we had to go to an appointment in the outskirts of the city and we had taken the scenic route in order to avoid all of the mud (because it has been raining quite a bit this last week). We were doing really well keeping our shoes mud-free until we got to a street that was flooded as far as the eye could see. So we decided that there was no way to get around and no time to come up with some other plan, so Elder Mojica asks me, "do we cross with or without shoes?" So it was decided, we were just going to wade the river in order to get to our appointment. So we stepped in and took pictures before continuing on our way. 
We go to the appointment, had our lesson, and by the time we had finished it was already time to get back to the apartment. So we crossed the river once again (because once you're wet, you're wet).
We both got up the next morning with some minor cold symptoms, but thought nothing of it; there were things that needed to be done. So we went out that Wednesday morning to go and teach some less active members before having lunch with a recently reactivated family.

With this family that was only recently reactivated, we talked to the kids (who are the ages of eight to fifteen) about obedience at the request of the mother. So we talked about the blessings that we get from being obedient and shared this scripture:

"For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey"
Alma 3:27
We asked some questions like: "What kind of blessings, or salary, do you get from obeying your mom?" or "What kind of blessings, or salary, do you get from obeying God?" After the lesson, I told all three of them that if they would be perfectly obedient for the next hour while we were gone (we were coming back to this family an hour later to eat lunch) then I would give each of them a CTR ring, but only if their mom said that they earned it.

When we got back, the mom approved the two younger boys for their CTR rings, but the fifteen year old girl hadn't quite won hers yet, so I gave it to Elder Mojica and said that he would give it to her at church on Sunday. She wasn't too happy about the idea and said to me, "I consider us to be friends, maybe you could just let me have the ring now." So I told her, "As your friend, I invite you come to church on Sunday." So then she said, "Well, I consider us to be companions (here they say "companion" as a more of slang way yo say friend)." I replied, "Well, as your companion I invite you to come to church." So she said, "Well your just an Elder then." Again I said, "As an Elder, I invite you to come to church." Finally she said, "Well your just a stranger then." I simply said, "I invite you to come to church."

I never actually heard if she went or not though.

Later that afternoon, we went to go get some things done in the city and I worked on my application a little bit, but as the afternoon grew on Elder Mojica started feeling worse. So we went back to the apartment and called Sister Heyman to get some advice. She told him what pills to take and also said that he needed to rest. So we stayed inside for the rest of the day.

The next morning, he still wasn't better, so I took the time to get some extra studies in and do some writing. Later that afternoon, I went with a different missionary named Elder Calderon because his companion, Elder Sacalxot (one of my previous companions) was also sick. So those two stayed in the apartment together while I went to work with Elder Calderon.

Once I got back to Quitilipi on Friday, I found that everyone else had also gotten sick (except for Elder Warth who got sick the next day anyway). But there was no time to stay in the apartment and rest.
We worked through Friday and Saturday and then the four of us stayed in to rest and get better on Sunday afternoon after having gone to church and studied.

But really we've been seeing lots of progress and growth here. What we do is rent a small bus that has twenty seats to take everyone to church on Sundays and we've filled it up the last two weeks. The picture I sent gives an idea of what it's like, but not everyone can be seen in the picture.
Also in that picture, there were only a couple of members on the bus and the rest of the people, about fifteen, are not members. So we've just seen some explosive growth here to lay the foundations for a branch to start here. The great thing about it is that the whole group gets along really great together and they are all already friends. This Friday we are actually planning to baptisms for two eighteen year old boys: Jonatan and Marcos.

Marcos makes me laugh at times; we were walking to catch a bus with Marcos and we go past a prom dress store and Marcos says to Elder Warth, "If you behave in church then I'll buy you a dress just like that one in the window."

We've had to stop teaching Isabel however. She wasn't really acting as much as she needed to and wasn't firm in her decisions. Really the experience with her gave me a new meaning for the phrase, "the Spirit will not always strive with man." If someone ignores the Spirit for to long, or doesn't act in faith, then the Spirit will just stop giving that burning feeling and motivation to continue and the desires of the individual will turn from "following Christ" to "doing whatever is easiest and most convenient." It was really quite a sad thing to see happen; her life had improved so much, but she didn't have enough faith to take the next step and get baptized.

I guess that the warning signs for this is when a person starts to ask questions like, "What happens if I can't afterwards?" or "What if it's not what I expected?" or "What if in a couple of years I just decide that I don't want to keep going?" These are all questions that she would ask and they all demonstrate a lack of faith and hope. Nephi has counseled us,

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
2 Nephi 31:20

os amo,
Elder Burt

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