Monday, April 21, 2014

The last email from Argentina....

Querida familia,                                                     21 De Abril 2014

This Sunday we took a great step in the progress of the group here in Quitilipi: Marcos and Jonathan both blessed the sacrament dressed in white shirts and ties.

It's a great accomplishment that we are very content with and are excited to see where the two of them end up in the next year. Elder Valverde was saying that he would actually be able to see them off to the mission, or at least hear about it, because he will still be here in the mission when Marcos and Jonathan are able to leave for their own.

Marcos already decided that he wants to go to Germany for his mission.

This morning, we went and bought a bunch of meat to cook a barbeque for this afternoon. Marcos and Jonathan are going to come too.

os amo,
Elder Burt

¡Nos vemos este sábado!
(English translation: See you on Saturday!)

Monday, April 14, 2014

PraIse the Lord with singing, music and dancing...

Querida familia,                                                       14 De Abril 2014
This week we were somewhat unsure of of whether or not we were going to have the baptism that we had planned, but everything went well for us.
On Tuesday evening, the assistant to the president came out to our area to work with us, so he and I went to visit Carina and since he was already there I asked if he could give her a baptismal interview. The only concern I had was that she hadn't been taught about tithing yet, so I let him know and he said that it would be fine. So they had the interview and Carina did well and already understood tithing as a principle, just not from the Gospel perspective. So her interview was done and she was ready to go once we taught her about tithing.
Once Carina was ready, we started to switch our focus to her younger sister, Eliana, who had said that she wanted to get baptized, but was now having some doubts. She's been saying that she doesn't want to give up the dances, but has already gone for two weeks without going to one. She perfectly understands the abyss example that we used last week and says that she won't be participating in any of the activities that the rest of the people usually do there. Mostly these doubts have been coming from her mom that is saying that she won't be able to resist temptation, but her mom is kind of right actually; President Kimball said that no matter who you are, eventually a person will break down if given enough time in the right environment.
We tried thinking of scriptures that we could use to teach her and overcome this whole dance issue and found this:
"If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving."
Doctrine And Covenants 136: 28
Then here comes the inspired question: "With the music dancing and singing that is going on in those clubs, who is the one who is really getting praised?"
She said that she will be baptized this coming weekend on the nineteenth. We're hoping that she'll follow through, but more than anything we're trying to build her confidence and faith to be able to follow through; making good decisions is only ten percent of the equation, following through is the other ninety percent.
So Eliana didn't get baptized, but Carina did. We had some problems with her because as we got closer to the date, she became more and more worried as she began to confront the wall of her faith. Obviously in the end she made the decision to get baptized, but we were a little bit worried for a time.
On Thursday when we talked to Carina, she had spoken with some preacher about getting baptized and he tried to fill her with doubt about the Book of Mormon. So when we talked to her she asked, "why don't you teach as much with the Bible as the Book of Mormon?" So we went over the importance that the Book of Mormon has in the restoration of the Gospel and how it is proof that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that God continues to guide and direct His people upon the earth. She was still a little bit wary from her conversation with the pastor, but we answered all her doubts and questions and then helped her to remember her own testimony. When it came down to it, her real doubt was this: if she would be able to continue faithful until the end after her baptism. Well that sounded really familiar; that was the same doubt that Isabell had just a few weeks earlier that caused her to stop progressing in the Gospel. So we knew what to do from such fresh experiences and were able to help Carina get to the waters of baptism.
We also had another great achievement this last weekend: Marcos and Jonathan both received the Aaronic Priesthood in church on Sunday.
When we were talking to Marcos during the week about how he would be sustained during sacrament meeting and then ordained afterwards. When we explained how everyone raises their hands to share their agreement he said, "well then no one is going to leave until they sustain me." He is kind of a character.
The baptism itself went well on Saturday. Carina was still nervous, but excited. She only had to be baptized once and everyone enjoyed the service.
os amo,
Elder Burt

Monday, April 7, 2014

163 baptisms! Ice cream for all!

Querida familia,                        7 De Abril 2014
Some of the sisters from Campo Largo
As a mission, we had one-hundred and sixty three baptisms last month in March, which was the goal of the mission, and the baptisms that we had this last week were the ones that got us to the mission goal. So, as a reward, our zone leader went with us to buy everyone ice cream, While we were there, there was a little boy who, I suppose, had some anti-American feelings because he asked another missionary from El Salvador why he liked Americans. This Elder replied, "because they stole Alaska from Canada just like we stole the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) from Great Britain." I thought that was really funny and the kid also decided that he now liked Americans.

In preparation for the general conference this past weekend, we spent a lot of timing teaching the people, both investigators and recent converts, about the Priesthood and those who hold it.

In all of this preparation, Jonathan has decided that he would like to be a missionary too. So we've been teaching him a little bit more about the Priesthood, how he can prepare himself and what are the requirements to serve.
I gave Jonathan a white shirt and tie to wear to church and to general conference
On Sunday, between conference sessions, Jonathan and Marcos were both interviewed to receive the Priesthood by the branch president. They both did well in their interview and will be ordained priests this coming Sunday. We're going to see if we can't get them to perform a baptism on my last Saturday here in Argentina; it would certainly be a rewarding experience to see two youth progress so quickly in the Church.

But we've been thinking that we are just finding everything and everyone that we need to be able to set up a full branch that will have the capacity to continue growing into a ward. We've taught a couple times a woman named Justina now. The last time that we talked with her she asked us if it would be alright to invite some of her friends over for the next lessons so that they could also learn from us. So now with Marcos and Jonathan we've already got our priests how are going to serve missions, and Justina and her friends will become the Relief Society presidency.

The general conference was really great though. we went to Saenz Peña to see it in the district center and rented a small travel bus to take everyone there on Sunday. 

We were the only ones from Quitilipi who went for the Saturday session, which made things a little bit easier for us. Here Priesthood session starts at nine and then finishes at eleven at night. So we stayed the night with some other missionaries in their apartment. 

The next morning we had to get up to go back to Quitilipi so that we could shower, change, eat lunch, and then get back to work so that we could gather up everyone who was going to go to the conference.
The bus ride back to Quitipili
Everyone enjoyed the trip and one girl, named Eliana, on the way back said that she was going to be baptized (before she had been undecided and wasn't sure what she wanted to do). She has been making some good changes though, including giving up social engagements to be more active in the Gospel. Here, especially in Quitilipi, all the of the youth go to the dance clubs and there just isn't anything good that happens there. So when she asked if she shouldn't go to the dances I asked her, "If you were walking next to an abyss, would you try to stay as far away as possible or walk as close to the edge as possible and try not to fall in?" She said that she would avoid the edge because it's too risky to walk the border of the abyss. So I asked her, "If everyone at the dance is drinking, smoking, doing drugs, and then going home to someone else's house and eight o'clock the next morning, how close are you to the edge of the abyss by going to the dance?" She got the message and hasn't been to the dances for two weeks now. 

I know this letter is short, it's just that we spent the whole week in meetings and getting ready for general conference. Next week I'll be sending some baptism pictures though.

os amo,
Elder Burt