Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Birthday in da Branx.

Thanks to all who emailed me for my birthday! It was a good one. Nothing too special happened, just a regular day of missionary work. Then I treated myself to some Ben & Jerry's ice cream at the end of the day. The next day--Tuesday--I got the package from home and my companion and I sang "happy birthday to me" and enjoyed the mini cake! But the most important thing that happened on my birthday had to do with a different significant date--August 1st, which is now the day DJ is going to be baptized! We set that date with him when we visited him on my birthday.

There is a lot of work in this area keeping us running around all over the place! It's great! Sometimes exhausting, but great! We have so many people to work with it's become quite a task to keep track of them all.

On my birthday, as we were trying to find a nearby icecream place on my iPad, this guy walked up to us and, pointing at our name tags, said "Jesus Christ?" We explained that we're missionaries and such and he just kept staring at us and saying "Jesus Christ" on occasion. Every time we thought he was going to leave, he'd suddenly turn around and say "Do you have a dollar?" "No. We don't have any cash." A true statement. Then he'd say. "Oh... Jesus Christ." After a few minutes of this pattern, we just walked away. It was just... Weird. I don't really know what happened. Oh well.

On a different day we met a less active man who is schizophrenic. We tried to teach a lesson to him and his Mom, who seems mentally stable, but she kept having to leave the room to address various issues with someone who was moaning in bed. Whenever she left, her son would tell us all the things the voices in his head tell him. As soon as she returned she would tell him to save those things for his therapist and just talk about the Lord. So we intermittently learned that this man believes that he is Jesus Christ, that he controls the world, and that he can shoot water out of his feet, because the voices tell him so. He wants to come to church again, but his mom doesn't. We committed them to have family scripture study. We'll see how it goes when we stop by later tonight.

I met a woman named M* who the missionaries have been working with in the past. She wants to come to church and be baptized, but her husband is a Jehovah's Witness and he will not allow it. She said she would be at church last Sunday though, but she didn't come.

D* also said he'd be at church, but didn't show up either.

A*, another woman we've been visiting, has been trying to find an apartment to live in, but can't because every free moment is spent babysitting the kids of the friend she is currently living with along with her four kids. It's a LOT of kids all together. I don't even try to count. Luckily, her friend's landlord gave her permission to stay an extra month, even though it's  illegal to have that many people in a one bedroom apartment. She may have found a place she can afford being rented out by a guy down the street, but she wants to background  checks on this guy to make sure he's not trying to scam her.

We got a new Bishop this week: Bishop Cody Jessop. Bishop Filion is moving to Pennsylvania soon. Bishop Jessop is one of the three other people in the ward that even qualify to be called as bishop and he's got to be no more than 26 years old and is in medical school. Oh dear. This Ward needs some more solid priesthood holders.

Yesterday we had our last Zone Conference with President Morgan. It was such a fantastic meeting, but such a sad one too. You can just see in President Morgan's eyes how sad he is to be leaving. I promised him that in about thirteen-fourteenish months I'm going to show up on his doorstep in Sandy. He said he'll be expecting me. In the meeting, Sister Morgan told us a bit about the new mission president. Both he and his wife are originally from Utah and are Olympus High School graduates! Oh yeah! As much as I'm going to miss the Morgans though, I got the feeling as Sister Morgans was telling us about the Smiths, that I know them already and it's going to be equally fantastic serving under President Smiths direction.

A week or so ago, we warned R*, saying now that she's getting closer to her baptism, satan might try to throw up some roadblocks. She told us she was expecting them, but wasn't afraid! Yesterday it happened: the devil came knocking on her door. Only it wasn't the devil himself, of course. But R* recognized instantly where it was coming from. Just a week and a half before her baptism, her favorite pastor from the church she used to go to showed up with his right-hand man, and a lady who was R*'s best friend in that church. She hasn't been there in seven years, and in that time no one gave her so much as a phone call to make sure she was okay. Now, when she's so close to being baptized into the true church, they show up again! She said she immediately realized what the devil was trying to do. She invited them in, they sang a hymn, read some of her favorite psalms, and prayed with her, but she politely turned down their invitation to come back. She rebuked them a bit for their seven years of negligence. Then they left. Though she turned them down, she admitted the experience brought some doubt to her mind. So, like the faithful saint she is, she got down in her knees and prayed about it! That night she had a dream, in which she saw her favorite old bible, one that's all marked up and worn out. She said she picked it up and found it was just the cover. The pages, long since loosed from the binding by good use, had fallen out. She said she searched everywhere, but only found a few scattered pages. Then she said the spirit whispered to her and told her "this is a symbol of the teachings of your old church: a few scattered pages of truth, but some of the most key parts missing." But even after the dream the Lord wasn't done strengthening her testimony! The next morning, she was reading in the gospel principles book about the organization of the restored church, and she said she just wept as she read because she realized (in her own Jamaican words) "Dis is da Kingdom of God on da eart." She just blows me away every time!  She's solid as a rock in her conversion!

Wow so much has happened this week, but I better wrap this up and send it off. More to come next week. Love you all!

-Elder Samuel Burton

Pics: my birthday party, I {heart} the Bronx, and Seinfeld? (From our trip to Manhattan last week)

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