Monday, August 27, 2012

Week 40

Hey everyone happy August 27th! I can't believe another month is about to come and go! Crazy how time flies sometimes...

Well, the biggest news from this past week was obviously changes. From my perspective, the most important thing is my new comp, Elder Ampie (Am-pee-ay) from Nicaragua. He has the exact amount of time as me in the mission, but an extra six weeks in the field (Latins only stay 3 weeks in the MTC, and we stayed 9). It's always a bit of a challenge when a new comp comes to my area because I'm basically in charge of everything. I feel like it's been a pretty smooth transition though, and I haven't messed things up too bad haha. We've only been together 5 days, but he seems like a good guy and we get along pretty well. Just as importantly, he's a good missionary and we've mainly been on the same page in lessons. We'll learn and grow together during this change, and see what kind of success we can have :)

The other important news is that Jessica got baptized this past Saturday. Since my comp is new in the area, I had to be the jack-of-all-trades in the baptismal service. I led the music, performed the baptism, even bought the refreshments... and then was part of the confirmation the following day. Kinda crazy, but it all came together and went pretty smoothly. Ironically, we have another baptism this Saturday with another lady named Jessica haha. She's a young single mom that is living with her brother and his family, who are members. We had been teaching her for a while with limited success, but something changed about 10 days ago. I'm not even sure what happened, but we challenged her for baptism (for like the 5th time), she accepted, and since then, she's done everything necessary to be baptized this Saturday. The only real challenge we faced with her was tattoos- she really likes tattoos for some reason, but told us she is willing to give it up. Just more of life's little miracles, I suppose... Also, if any of you have any friends named Jessica, go talk to her about the church!

Ok, so I feel like these blog entries are pretty much the same every week, so I decided to spice it up with some tidbits about Honduran culture! I feel like you guys have no idea what it's like here, and that's my fault. So I'm gonna have a little section from now on about what it's really like here in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We'll start with every Latin's favorite subject- FOOD! And the staple of any Honduran's diet is the baleada- flour tortillas with some kind of combination of beans, cheese, eggs, mantequilla, avocado, chicken, or chorizo (the literal translation of mantequilla is butter, but it's really some strange kind of butter/sour cream mixture that tastes amazing!) The real difference is the tortillas though. The women here make tortillas basically every day, so they've gotten pretty good at. My comp and I tried to make tortillas last Monday with limited success haha. It'll take some more practice, but at least I have the recipe for when I get home! :)

Ok, now that I've made you all hungry, I guess it's time to go. See you next week (most likely with another baptism under my belt). Adios vosotros!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Week 39

Ok there's a TON of news this week, so I'll just get right to it. First off, my birthday was awesome! Not the same as a birthday back home with family and friends... but cool nonetheless with my Honduran family and friends. I can't believe I'm twenty though! That just seems so much older than nineteen for some reason. Maybe it's cuz those carefree teenage years are a thing of the past. Someone asked me on my birthday how old I was, and I automatically started to say nineteen before realizing my mistake. Guess I'll have to get used to that...
So it was pretty gnarly to celebrate my birthday with two baptisms! (Actually, there were three, but one was an 8-year old from a member family). It was a pretty neat birthday present to see Mirna and Benjamin enter the waters of baptism. I'm amazed sometimes that I get to be a part of these great experiences :) In other baptism news, we have one (and possibly two) this next week. Jessica, the 16-year old with the addiction problems, has just completely stopped with all of her addictions. It's been incredible to watch the change that she has made. When we met her, she was shy and didn't really want much to do with religion. Now, she loves it when we come over, she reads her scriptures, she feels comfortable praying, and most of all... this is important enough to her to stop the bad habits she was forming. Hope to tell you guys next week about her baptism and her friend as well (who has received an answer to her prayer, but refuses to believe us when we tell her that... it's frustrating.)
Also, I had my best day of the mission this past Tuesday! Why? Because Elder Hebert and I finally went on divisions together! The dream team was back in action, even though it was only for a short time. We had a great day... really successful as far as missionary work, and then we stayed up til about 3 in the morning drinking soda and talking about all the crazy things of the mission. Good times! :)
Quite possibly the biggest news of the week is that I will be getting a new companion this next Wednesday! Surprisingly, my two best friends in the mission (Elders Hebert and Hanson) are staying in my zone, so at least I have that to look forward to. I'm getting pretty nervous about it, but I'm excited too! We'll see what happens this Wednesday!
Shout-out to Michael, Tyler, and Kimber for your fantastic letters this past week! I love hearing from everyone about normal life haha. Thanks again to everyone that has sent me a letter in the last nine months!
Elder Birt

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 38

WOW... as in Word of Wisdom. I don't know what the heck happened this week, but it seemed like all of our investigators decided to have problems with the Word of Wisdom. Kind of frustrating... and it means there will not be four baptisms this next weekend either :(

The most frustrating case was when the 16-year old girl who was going to be baptized admitted everything to us. It wasn't frustrating because we lost a baptism, but because she already has so many addictions at age 16. Cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana- it was obviously devastating to hear, but I'm glad she admitted it to us so we can help her overcome these issues. I think before, she was planning on keeping everything hidden and getting baptized anyway, which obviously would have been a bad situation. We're working with her on everything, and I can see a real desire to drop the bad habits. I'm just hoping that will be enough. Other investigators mentioned WOW problems as well, either with cigarettes or alcohol. It's just so sad to see such great people throw everything away for nothing.

Two of our other investigators who were going to be baptized on the 18th didn't come to church. One can still be baptized, but we haven't been able to talk with him because he left... and nobody knows exactly where. So that's a little disconcerting. The other didn't come to church, and has had problems making a commitment for baptism. It seems like her decision changes every time we visit her. Sometimes she says yes, others no, others that she needs more time...

Ok, now that you're all sad and disappointed, it's time for the happy news of the week! One baptism is still a sure thing! So we will definitely be baptizing Mirna on my birthday. She's the one that's known the church for FOREVER, but just recently settled some Law of Chastity problems. So she will finally get baptized, and is already planning to go to the temple :)

Also, thanks to Gram and Michael for the packages. I still have stuff from three packages, and I don't think I've eaten so well the entire mission. Thank you so much. Thanks for the letters too- Gram, Pop, Michael, and all of my many cousins. It was a very enjoyable day when I got those packages! :)

Again, if you want to check out some pictures of the Celestial Zone celebration, check out the pictures on It's good stuff! Thanks for everything! Have a good week, and do something cool on the 18th- from what I hear, it's a pretty awesome day ;)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 37

Hey everyone! Sorry there was no blog entry last week! We got back late from San Pedro, and I was scrambling to write a blog entry to let you guys know what was going on. And halfway through... the power went out :( It was REALLY bad timing, and I felt super bad about it. But I'll try to make this week's entry twice as entertaining to make up for it!

So... I didn't get to tell you guys about my AWESOME P-day last week. My comp got called to the mission office cuz he had to go to immigration. Obviously, I had to go with him, and I thought there would be nothing to do. But no! Elder Hebert's companion got called there too, so we were in the same boat! And there happens to be a mall a block away from the mission office! So Hebert and I went to the mall, and spoiled ourselves with a little bit of Little Caesar's, Wendy's, and Cinnabon's (we couldn't decide on just one haha). It was obviously really fun, and in a weird way, it felt like I was in America for a little bit because the mall was so modern... but then I heard everyone talking in Spanish and was like "Oh yeah, I'm still in Honduras" haha.

The P-days have been pretty wonderful as of late because today we went to San Pedro again, this time to eat at the President's house! Why? Because we were CELESTIAL ZONE! So today, our whole zone went and played soccer and then enjoyed the wonderful spaghetti and brownies of Sister Veirs. I'm still pretty full because I just couldn't stop eating such delicious food haha. Also, the zone sang Happy Birthday to me and Elder Hanson, who also has a birthday in August :) If you're interested in seeing pictures, there are some on the mission blog (my parents can post the address).

Ok, now that I've talked about all the fun stuff of the past week, I should probably talk about the actual work we're doing. We've been blessed with so many miracles as of late. Everything went smoothly for another baptism this past Saturday. Antonio Lopez is one of the newest members of the church family, and was/is really excited about his baptism. I think I've mentioned before that he has some memory issues. He's also one of the poorest people I've met in Honduras. But he has such a genuine desire to do what is right and help people in any way that he can. Last night, he even asked us if he can come visit other people that we're teaching. We were like "Heck yeah, just let us know when you wanna go!" So hopefully he'll stay excited about the church, and help others find the blessings of the gospel :)

Also, this past week, we set not one... not two... not three... but FOUR baptismal dates! And coincidentally, they would all be on my birthday haha. That would be one heck of a birthday present. We're fairly sure about all of them, but keep it in your prayers that they can stay firm in their commitment to be baptized. Here's a quick scouting report of each of them:
-We met Mirna Ortega last Sunday. Apparently, she had attended church regularly a year ago, but couldn't be baptized because of some issues. Basically, she was married with a guy, but living with a different guy. Now, she's still married, but not living with the other guy anymore. So she is willing to live the Law of Chastity, which had been the only obstacle keeping her from baptism. The rest was easy because she already knows basically everything about the church. When I talked to her the first time, she even started talking about the Book of Mormon, temples, baptisms for the dead... so she's definitely ready.
-We've been teaching Jessica and Helen for a while now. They're both teenagers- Jessica is 16, Helen is 13, and they've been going to youth activities for the past month. But for some reason, they would not come to church. This past Wednesday, we challenged them for baptism (for what had to be like the fourth time). Jessica accepted, and Helen said she had to think about it. But Helen apparently received her answer three days later when she attended the baptism we had. We talked with her after, and she told us "I want to get baptized too!" They came to church for the second time yesterday, and are excited for their own baptismal service in a couple weeks.
-Benjamin is another teenager, who just turned 15. We've been teaching his whole family for the past month, but he's been the only one who has shown any signs of progress. He's come to church and the youth activity for the last three weeks, and accepted a baptismal date yesterday. We asked his mom (who, sadly, is determined to stay Catholic) for permission, and she said yes. She even said she'll go to the baptism, so hopefully that changes her mind about things. After all, it would be a pretty powerful spiritual experience to watch four people get baptized, right?

Ok, that's enough miracles for one week, I suppose. Oh wait, no it's not. ELDER HEBERT AND I ARE GOING ON DIVISIONS TOMORROW! We finally convinced our district leader to do it, and the dream team will be back in action :) I can't wait! Thanks for all the prayers and support! And a special shout-out to Gram and Ashlee for your letters (extra bonus points to Ashlee for a hand-written letter. Yeah, it finally got here haha). Have a great week!

-Elder Birt