Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pedro Pimienta

May 5, 2015 (week 36 in Argentina)

Baptism of Pedro Pimienta
(Elder Nava, Pedro, Ramon, Elder Burke)
Yes that is right another baptism!  Hermano Pedro was baptized by Hermano Ramon (on the right) just this past Saturday and was confirmed Sunday as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He was super happy when he was baptized and loved how basically half of the branch was there to watch his baptism. When we got there at first, the font was taking forever to fill up, so we ended up waiting for like two hours till we could start the baptism.  But it’s ok because we had to wait for the baptismal clothing and for other people to show up, so we just talked for a while, prepared everything, and then got going when the clock struck 1930! We watched a video about the testimonies of Christ from the first presidency and 12 apostles, it really struck deep as so many men testified that Jesus is the Christ and that He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. After the video and talk that was from President Zarur, Hermano Pedro was baptized!  It was awesome.  As we ended with a prayer it started to rain super hard!  We were like what is happening??  It was pouring rain again and Hermano Pedro needed to go home.  So we walked with him to the bus stop and helped him get on the bus.  He was super happy the next day in church and came in and gave us huge hugs, Elder Nava and I, saying that he was super happy that we walked with him to the bus stop and it meant a lot to him.  I never thought that such small gestures like that make people feel so uplifted and happy.  He was confirmed and he was just happy to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  I shared my testimony saying that how Juan was baptized two weeks ago and now Pedro and the next week Santiago (Area of the other Elders) and how it was basically the three original apostles; Peter,  James and John- They too were called by Christ to follow Him and that they were only fishermen, but Christ made them become more as fishers of men.  We all change through Christ and we all become better when we follow him in everything that we do.  I bore testimony that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power to change.  It was a good day. 

So we had translados (transfers) and sadly Elder Nava left for Formosa and I am here in Mendoza al sur still with elder Lourenco (Pronounced Lourenzo).  I’m gonna miss my little mexicano and all that he has done to help me become a better teacher and friend.  I’m gonna miss him.  But now I have Elder Lourenco!  His heritage is from Brazil, but he doesn’t have any knowledge of how to speak Portuguese.  He grew up in Rhode Island and is a wrestler.  He’s pretty awesome and we can’t wait to see the work that we are gonna do here in Mendoza Al Sur. He has been out for 8 months and now I am the senior companion.
Elder Lourenco and I

Also being the fifth of May, I couldn’t help but give a quick testimony to the parents I have and their anniversary.  Thank you Mom and Dad for being the best parents I could ever need to help me prepare to be a missionary and son of God.   Your examples have been a huge impact on my life and the choices I have made to be the man I am today!  I love you both and I am so happy that you have been together for 26 years and continue to be one-- as examples to me and everyone.   I thank you for both of your love and support and hope that today is very special.

I’ll get to see you, Mom, this weekend and I am pretty sure you are jumping up and down to have your first mother’s day with one of your children as a missionary.

Love all of you and keep strong in following Christ and see the changes, big or small, that He has made in your life.

Elder Burke

My nursing duties in action! Je je  (Elder Flick)
Our Zone:  Elders Atwood, Ortega, Lourenco, Fiabane, Stratford, Burke

Deep fried pigs in blankets
Elder Trumbo and I

"Selfies" in the bathroom with Elder Nava-
"I'm gonna miss my little mexicano"
Battle of Corrientes
(Elders Fiabane, Pace, Ortega, Nava, Burke, Ratliff, Huertas, Smith, Stout, Flick, Stratford, Trumbo)

Juan Luis Romero

Elder Nava, Enrique, Juan, Elder Burke
April 27, 2015 (week 35 in Argentina)
Ladies and Gentlemen!  Boys and Girls of all ages... May I present Juan Luis Romero!  The newest addition to the family of God!  Yes that is right!  On Friday the 24th of April 2015, he was baptized and the 26th was confirmed as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  We are absolutely happy to have him finally as a member as he can now work on going to the temple in a year!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! And I can’t wait to tell you the story that we had that Friday Night! But, before I get to that story I’ll tell what else happened this week. 
 So I was basically, I was away from Elder Nava for three days as we did divisions.  I stayed here in Mendoza and he left with Elder Trumbo and Elder Stratford stayed with me.  We went about helping our in-actives, our investigators, and also trying to find news.  It was so much fun, Tuesday we had our Noche de Hogar with the ward and no members showed up, but Juan Luis showed up and so did twenty little kids asking to play futbol on the field outside the church. We said no, but invited them to stay for the noche de hogar.  They accepted and we taught them about perspectives and how every one of us should have a positive attitude with everything in life and it will change everything.  Afterwards, we used my socks (not the ones I was using at the time, eww) as a ball to play hot potato (se quema la papa) they had a lot of fun and now lots of little kids in the street say hello to me. ja ja.   Afterwards, we had the baptismal interview of Juan Luis so that he could prepare to be baptized on Friday.  Elder Stratford told me that he was more than ready and that he passed the interview! Que Capismo!!!

Elder Nava, me, Elder Stratford, Elder Trumbo
Afterwards, Elder Stratford and I tore up Mendoza with our President Leo Zarur, who if you haven’t been following past letters, he is blind.  He is the most loving and fun giving guy I have ever met and he doesn’t even know what I look like.  It is crazy to see how he sees the world and life.  He loves everyone that he comes in contact with and surely has a great sense of humor.  After the day had ended on Wednesday, Elder Fiabane (Zone Leader) came and switched places with him.  Elder Fiabane was an office elder and we both met when I could hardly speak English, but now we can talk just fine to one another.  It’s really something different to see here in the mission with your progression.  He helped me with new ways how to teach and we made awesome memories together as companions.  Gonna miss that guy when he goes home.
Then Friday came!  Elder Fiabane and I met up with the rest of the zone to go to Resistencia to listen to Elder Oaks of the Twelve Apostles talk!  It was absolutely amazing to listen to him talk.  He had such a normal way to talking to all of us.  He almost biffed it walking up the stairs and his wife had to steady him so that he didn’t fall.   Later he told us some good jokes in between his talk.  He really helped everyone relax and feel like they were at home.  He talked so powerfully as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and said everything that I needed to hear to become a better missionary, son, brother, and future family man.  He talked about the repetitive interruptions in life that ruin our spiritual progressions or distract us from peace, which for me reminded me how important it is to go to the temple.  In the temple there are no spiritual interruptions and we can find true peace in this world. Also he talked about revelation and how we can come to know the truth of all things in the many different ways that the spirit talks to us; dreams that are crystal clear in their message, promptings, feelings, thoughts, and even events that help us come to know the truth of all things. It’s something that I love about the gospel of Christ is that it helps us come to know truth, the way things really are, and why.  Pray to Heavenly Father with a sincere desire to receive an answer and just wait and see what happens.
Baptism of Juan Luis Romero
The talk from Elder Oaks was super fun because the entire mission was there and I got to see everyone before the meeting.   Everyone knows me, but I don’t know them.  Perks I guess from being the Nurse for the Mission, everyone just call me Doc.  I’m kind of going more for a better nickname like Hawkeye or Bones, ja ja.  But I got to see Elder Allen and Elder Swingle and they are doing alright, along with many other elders.  Elder Nava and I couldn’t stay for long because we needed to get going to the Baptism of Juan Luis!  So Elder Nava just so happened to get the number of one of his recent converts who is a remis (taxi) driver and he took us all the way from Resistencia to Corrientes!  It was such a tender mercy for Elder Nava to see one of his converts who is really awesome and loves His missionary.  It made me think of Natividad and Maria who are in Saenz Pena right now and it made me miss them both.  But I did hear good news from the Elders who are in my old Area.  We were running a little late for the baptism of Juan Luis but got there in time to take pictures, start the ceremony, and watch him get baptized.  It was a great night and there was a lot of support from the members. 
Saturday was awesome as we invited Pedro to be baptized on the 2nd of May and he said YES!!! Another Baptism!!!  We are so happy!!! ja ja!  Sunday he showed up and an investigator who we thought wouldn’t show up, she came as well!  It was a surprise to see her already talking with the members in the ward!  Crazy!!!  So that will hopefully be the next update for you guys for next week, the baptism of Pedro, now we just need a Santiago so that we can have the three main apostles in our branch! ja ja!
         Overall, this week was spiritually uplifting, and life changing for me.  I love the mission, and I love all of you.  Choose the right, and be true followers of Jesus Christ.
Con Amor,  Elder Burke

Though your sins be as scarlet

April 20, 2015  (week 34 in Argentina)

Hola de Argentina, el mejor de los todos países! Y si, estoy desarrollando lo mismo orgullo que toda de la gente de argentina tienen! Vos sos Elder? ja ja!

Donde pienso?.. mmmmm si! Entonces hoy Elder Nava y yo estábamos cerca de la costanera y... oh whoops, sorry!  Kind of forgot I have to speak English now! ja ja (Translation ha ha)

So things have been different because as of Wednesday, it’s just me and Elder Nava living in the pension now.  Elders Flick and Stout have moved out, we were pretty sad but also happy that we can now have more space.  And by more space I mean we have a ton of space!  It was amazing to see the difference between having four people in one house down to two.  I can only imagine what it must feel like for parents to see their children move out one by one.  It’s much more quiet and a different atmosphere.  I am not saying that I miss them, but I do miss them, if that makes sense at all.  But at least we can now have much more cleanliness amongst us now! ja ja.

Juan Romero is doing great!  He has been known in the ward for a long time and everyone is super excited to finally see his baptism this Friday!  We are too!  This Sunday we were teaching gospel principles to all of our investigators and new converts and we got to hear Juan’s testimony about how he knows that the church is true and has waited for over 8 months to finally be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!  He is going to change lives someday, I just know it.  I will hopefully have pictures of him and what he looks like for the next P-day so all of you can see him!  He’s been working hard trying to be patient for his baptism and now that he can finally be a member, well he’s really happy!

This week has flown by super-fast!  I know I only have 9 months in the mission but still it feels like it’s only been a couple of weeks here in Argentina!  But now I am seeing how hard it is to find time for everyone!  Our area is huge and it’s almost impossible to see all the people that we want to see, but the thing is that God knows who needs our help and on what day.  So we do our best to fulfill our callings as missionaries.  Elder Nava and I are always surprised when we get to the end of the week Sunday night.  We have been teaching a lot of people, new and old, and helping them with small acts of kindness.  We were walking to an appointment and I felt the need to visit a house that was on the way.  We had time and got there just in time to interrupt a really big fight between a mother and her son.  I feel like God just puts us in the right place, at the right time, to interrupt things from getting worse- by sending two of his missionaries to be in between.  It was pretty funny though because the son wanted to be all Chorro (Gangster, not to be confused with Churro, the common fried stick of break with cinnamon and sugar) and was leaving and his mom grabbed his earrings that he was wearing and tore them out.  It was a tad bit awkward at first and she said she needs help with her family.  So we’ve been trying to see them, but haven’t been able to contact them.  Hopefully we can see her again.

So of course I have heard the wonderful news of the decisions that many family members are making to serve a mission!  You go guys!  But remember that in these moments we need to ask ourselves if we are really clean. "...and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach."(Doctrine and Covenants 42:14).  I wish to testify of how true this scripture is.  I can personally testify that it is not easy to be spiritually clean, but it is well worth the long and painful fight.  You may be asking yourself if it is worth all the hassle to say you were wrong, to apologize, or admit to behavior that would embarrass you if your parents, friends, or the entire world knows about it.  I wish to tell everyone who reads this letter that you can be clean again.  It is worth going to your bishop or stake president and telling them what’s bothering you.   It’s worth it to cry all the day long in prayer to Heavenly Father asking for forgiveness.  Even "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;" (Isaiah 1:18)  Have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that he may heal you.  Preparing for a mission is harder than buying all the things necessary to leave, saying goodbyes, and giving up your social life.  It is a wonderful checkpoint to help us prepare to be clean.  So as a witness of what it is to enter the mission field unprepared spiritually, I can say this "Do not be afraid to tell the truth." The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to cry repentance to the world, and we cannot do that if we ourselves need to repent.  I hope that every one of my family members know I love them and will never think anything less of them if they have to wait to go on a mission or need to change things in their past life so that they can become a better person.  This is not just for those preparing to serve missions but for those who also wish to become better.  Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.  If you need to talk to your bishop, follow the prompting of the spirit and watch your life become uplifted.  I testify that Jesus is the Christ, and through Him we can become White as snow.  I love you all and hope that you may feel the spirit more in your lives.

Elder Burke