Monday, April 30, 2012

Week 23

So it was another good week in the (mostly) friendly town of Progreso. The big news from the past week was that we had another baptism! Alex, who I described earlier as a silver investigator, upgraded to gold this past Wednesday. We had asked him on Tuesday to pray to know whether he should be baptized. And in yet another miracle, he received his answer and wanted to get baptized. So we had the baptismal service Saturday afternoon, and other than some technical difficulties with a video, it went perfectly. I once again directed the music, which I'm scared is becoming my permanent job at baptismal services.

Also, I mentioned Ana last week, the lady that we found that had the dream about our chapel. She and her two kids are some of the most amazing people I've ever met. In fact, there needs to be another category above golden investigator to describe them... maybe platinum investigator? It's just incredible to see how ready they were to receive the gospel! She's already made friends with pretty much everyone at church, and the members are asking to go with us for our appointments with her. We might have to start making a waiting list because of how popular she is. If all goes as planned (which it should because she's pretty much perfect), we'll have their baptismal service on May 12th.

We also had another service project this past week, where we picked up trash on the main road in our area. Sadly, it was pretty much impossible because everyone litters and there was so much trash. It made me feel pretty guilty about the times where I've littered myself, so I'm trying to drop that bad habit (my mom is probably shaking her head in approval). But overall, it was a fun service project, and I'm glad we could help the community physically as well as spiritually :)

In the food news of the week, I'm slowly developing an addiction to the "banana licuado." It's really simple- just a banana and milk mixed in a blender and then frozen so it's like an Icee. Sister Nunez, my favorite member in the ward, makes them for us every time we have dinner because she knows how much I like them. Gotta love the simple pleasures in life :)

Ok that's it for this week. Hope everyone is doing well! Have fun and stay safe!

Elder Birt

Alex's Baptism Saturday April 28, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week 22

Hello again to all my faithful readers! Hope you had a great week! It was another successful week here in Honduras, and the work is really starting to pick up.

The big news is Odette´s baptism on Saturday. Everything went perfectly, and the baptismal service was quite emotional. There were some tears shed, and everyone enjoyed those happy feelings that only the gospel can bring. I stayed pretty busy during the baptismal service - I directed the music, sang in a quartet for the musical number, and then performed the baptism (Side note: I haven´t suddenly gained a lovely singing voice. I think the ward mission leader just made a mistake when he put me on the program for all the musical stuff). Nevertheless, I think everyone enjoyed the baptism. I know I sure did!

The other big news of the week is a pretty cool story. So my companion and I were going to our last appointment before the baptismal service, and were running a little low on time. On the way to the appointment though, I felt like we should stop by an inactive family´s house and invite them to the baptism. We got to their house (which is actually like 6 houses right next to each other), and the gate was locked. We were turning around to leave when I saw a kid across the street. So I asked him if the people were there, and he happened to have a key to let us in. After we talked with the inactive family, we were about to leave when my comp saw a lady in one of the other houses and decided to contact her. We were kind of in a hurry, but I grudgingly agreed. So we started talking with her, and she told us she had been waiting to talk with the Mormon missionaries. We talked a little more, and then invited her to church. To our surprise, she came to church the next day. And that´s when we fully found out why she had been waiting to talk with us. She told some of the members that she had been searching for a church for a while, and had recently prayed to know which church to attend. As an answer, she had a dream, where she saw our chapel. And then, we happened to pass by her house a few days later, which just made her even more sure that it was an answer to her prayer. It was amazing to see how God worked in this case. So many things had to happen at exactly the right time, and they did. Ana (that´s her name) and her two kids are three more golden investigators that were prepared specifically for us. We´ll start teaching them this week, and they should get baptized on May 12th. Gotta love missionary work...

In other investigator news, Alex came to church again this past Sunday for the third time. He might get baptized this upcoming Saturday, but he´s told us he´s still a little unsure and might need more time. Odette´s cousin, Estela, couldn´t come to church this Sunday because of a commitment in San Pedro. But she is really positive and will probably get baptized in the upcoming weeks.

In violence/crime news, we had another near miss this past week. We were teaching a lesson outside one night (because it´s a lot cooler) when the guys we were teaching told us to get inside the house. They had seen the beginnings of a robbery a couple houses down. Turns out that a car had driven by and robbed a guy walking in the street. I have no idea how the guys we were teaching saw it so fast, but they got us inside the house before it even started. Just another example that we´re being protected out here (mom, this was meant to reassure you, not to freak you out even more).

This probably wasn´t even on the radar in the United States, but Real Madrid played Barcelona on Saturday afternoon. For those who don´t know, they are probably the best two soccer teams in the world. Plus they´re both in Spain, so it´s an intense rivalry. It basically shut down all of Honduras for two hours, making missionary work difficult. It´s pretty amazing how obsessed with soccer these people are. Sadly, Real Madrid won, which meant I got a lot of heckling from the Madrid fans that we visited that day haha

Ok, that´s it for this week. Hopefully, the report next week includes another baptism! Thanks for all your prayers and support!

Elder Birt

 Baptism of Odette April 21, 2012

 Baptism of Norma and Nora (mother and daughter, with member boyfriend in-between)

P-Day with Elder Hebert in orange

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 21

Today marks 5 months in the mission. In a way, it's felt like 5 years and in another way, it's felt like 5 days. Kinda weird... I think there's like a weird time warp on a mission. But anyway, here are the highlights from the week that was.

Odette, one of the baptisms for the 21st, is a sure thing. She's been such a golden investigator - we only started teaching her about 4 weeks ago. The other planned baptism, Alex, told us he might need more time. He also couldn't come to church yesterday because he had some business with his family. But we have a tentative date set for the 28th, and we're working to accomplish that. We started teaching him near the same time as Odette, so he's a pretty great investigator too (not quite golden; maybe silver or bronze instead). But it's been amazing to see that there are people here that have been prepared for the gospel message. Also, we're teaching Odette's cousin, Estela, and have a date set for May 5th. She came to church for the first time yesterday and said she enjoyed it. So we'll see how that goes... keep them in your prayers! :)

In a funny story of the week, we ran across a Jehova's witness lady that lives close to our church. The lesson started out fine, but quickly turned hostile when we started disagreeing about the role of prophets. She started telling us why we were wrong, using a bunch of scriptures from the Bible. So this was when my comp and I did something that, here in the mission, is called machete-ing. It's basically just being really bold and telling stuff to people like it is. My comp might have taken it a little too far, but I'd like to think that I machete-ed with the spirit. After all, I just used the scripture from Mormon 9:7-9, so really it was the prophet Moroni doing the machete-ing for me. She wasn't very happy about it, to say the least. But the funny part was at the end of the lesson, my comp asked her when we could come back for another lesson. Obviously, that didn't work out, and I'm pretty sure we won't be teaching her anytime soon.

Luckily, not all people we meet are like that. We were doing a little contacting Saturday morning, and I saw a house that caught my eye. We started our little intro about how we're the missionaries and we share the gospel of Jesus Christ. She cut us off about 15 seconds into it, and told us to come in and talk with her. Needless to say, this piqued our interest. We started talking with her, and she said in the 15 years she had lived here, the missionaries had never talked to her and her family and that she wanted to hear what we had to say. So we shared a 30 minute message with her, and were getting ready to leave when she asked if we wanted pancakes. My reaction: "YOU HAVE PANCAKES?! I haven't had pancakes my whole time here in Honduras!" Basically, she was one of the nicest ladies I've ever met. I'm not really sure how interested she is in our message, but I guess we'll find out this week...

In our P-day activities this week, we played soccer (which has deteriorated greatly with the influx of gringos haha), and then went to Wendy's, where I got two frosties. It was probably the most enjoyable ice cream I've ever had in my life. Also, we found out about changes, or, in my case, a lack of change. My comp and I are both staying in Progreso, so I guess there is more work for us to do here. To be continued...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Week 20

So this past week was Semana Santa, or "Holy Week." It's basically
like our celebration of Easter except it lasts for a whole week.
Hardly anyone has to work and most people go on vacations to
celebrate. Kinda different... but cool at the same time

The biggest news of the week was the two baptisms we had! Everything
went pretty smoothly, and we now have two new members of the Progreso
Ward :)

We also had interviews with our President this past Thursday, which
meant we went to the mission offices in San Pedro. It was the first
time I had ever been inside the offices, and to be honest, I'm quite
jealous. Mainly because they have air conditioning, which I now think
is one of the best inventions of all time (I guess you don't realize
how awesome it is unless you don't have it for a while haha). But we
also had some excellent brownies/cake from Sister Viers, the wife of
the mission president. And we got to chat with all the office people,
including the president. Good times...

Interesting story of the week: I went on divisions with another Elder,
who is on his FIRST CHANGE OF THE MISSION! So basically, I was like a
trainer for the day. It freaked me out a little when I found out about
it. But with the help of a lot of prayers, the day went pretty
smoothly. We got a lot of help from the members that day, which I know
wasn't just a coincidence. But it also gave me some confidence that I
can handle some more responsibility on the mission :)

We also had some success yesterday, when we brought seven
investigators to church! And two of them have baptismal dates for the
21st! They were both references from members and are basically golden
investigators that have accepted everything we've taught. One is a
young single mom named Odette and the other is an 18-year old guy
named Alex. So we'll be working with them a lot the next couple weeks
to make sure the baptisms happen on the 21st! :)

Ok that's all for this week. Hope everyone had a great Easter
celebration and ate lots of chocolate for me! Que tengan una buena

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 20

So I'll get to Conference in a little bit, but first I have to share a little
story about our baptisms this next week (yes, that's plural, as in baptisms). We
were already planning on baptizing Nora on April 6th (I think I talked about
that last week), but there were still issues with her mom (Norma) accepting
Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, so it looked like they wouldn't get
baptized on the same day. Anyway, I had been reading last October's Conference
talks in preparation for this past week's conference and came across a talk
about the Book of Mormon. I immediately thought of Norma. It seemed like the
talk was written specifically for her. We decided to share it with her in a
lesson last week and encouraged her to come to Conference. My comp and I both
felt that this was the way for her to receive the answer she had been looking
for for the past 7 months. The few days before Conference, my comp and I
included her in every prayer, praying that she would receive her answer and more
importantly recognize it when she got it. And that's when a miracle happened.
Saturday night, after the priesthood session, Nora's boyfriend came to us and
said that Norma wanted to get baptized as well. We immediately set up an
appointment and went to her house the following day. At the appointment Sunday
night with Norma, Nora, and Nora's boyfriend, I asked Norma what had changed her
mind. Why did she suddenly have a testimony of the Book of Mormon when she had
been fighting against it for so long? Her answer was quite simple: "Everything
that the Book of Mormon teaches brings us closer to Christ." She also said that
the conference talk that I had given her had been a key part of her change, as
well as the conference talks she had heard the past few days. I probably looked
like an idiot for the rest of the night because I couldn't stop smiling. It's
amazing what changes the gospel can bring :)

Ok, this is a detailed, look at my day this past Friday, for those wondering what I do on a mission, what it's like in Honduras, or just those wanting a more detailed description of my
time here: As usual, I woke up to the annoying sound of my alarm, and immediately wondered how it was 6:30 already. I stumbled out of bed and turned it off, and waited another 5 seconds for my comp's alarm to go off as it did every morning. Apparently, he liked having that extra 15 seconds more than me haha. Immediately, I thought of breakfast. Sadly, my food supply had run out the previous day, but luckily our cook had come through with a delicious cake the
night before. Therefore, I enjoyed the healthy and nutritious breakfast of two
slices of cake with a glass of water (not very glamorous, but it got the job done). After some personal study (Spanish Book of Mormon, Spanish Preach My Gospel, Spanish Conference talks) and comp study (more Preach My Gospel, videos about certain missionary topics, role plays), it was time for weekly planning. After a necessary but excruciatingly boring session of weekly planning, it was time for lunch, which that day consisted of steak, rice, and potatoes :) Next
was language study for an hour (more Spanish) and then we finally hit the streets for some missionary work. We headed off to the church to meet Hermana Nunez, the member that would go with us to our first lesson (Side Note: In planning the night before, we realized that if everything went right, we could have 7 lessons with members in one day, shattering our old record of 4). However, these hopes took a hit when our first appointment fell through. We then
drove to our backup appointment with Hermana Nunez, and taught a quick lesson to
the lady we're trying to get married. Then we parted ways with Hermana Nunez and
went to our 3:00 appointment (who wasn't there), our 3:30 appointment (a member
who hadn't invited his friend for a lesson like he said he would), and finally our 4:00 appointment. There, we finally hit pay dirt and taught our 18-year-old investigator Abraham about the importance of the BOM. After knocking doors for a bit with limited success, we tried our 5:00 appointment (not there), our backup (not there), and our 5:30 (not there). However, her sister was there so we taught her about the Book of Mormon as well. We then ran into a guy from the States who was doing a mission for a different church (Yay English), talked to
him for a bit, and then went to our 6:00 appointment, who predictably wasn't
home. Next was more contacting, failing to get a member to attend our lesson
with Norma, the actual lesson with Norma, and then power walking to make it to
the Family Home Evening at the bishop's house, where he had invited investigators. After teaching that, we walked home, celebrating that conference would be the next day. However, the day was not over. We saw a pretty nasty-looking car accident, where a motorcycle ran into a car. I thought the damage would be pretty bad, but surprisingly the motorcycle guy was ok, making it
ok for me to make fun of how terrible people are at driving in Honduras. Then another glamorous meal of a PB&J, a shower, updating our teaching records in the Area Book, reading a bit more, and then going to sleep. For the record, we ended the day with 2 lessons with members :

(As you can see, we keep pretty busy. Also, there are quite a few disappointments, mixed with occasional spiritual highs. That's what mission life is, and I'm learning to love it! Hope
everyone has a great week and enjoy your Easter!