Monday, December 16, 2013

"...it is a good thing to have a balance of those two things."

Crazy! Christmas is pretty much a week away!!! 
Skype: The members who invited us over said 5:00pm would be best for Skyping...but they could probably compromise for 7pm, since we have to be back at our flat by 9, and Skype sessions always go a bit over the expected time. (Which is good.) 
So I'll check with them and see. Hopefully they reply to my text within this email session. If not, I'll maybe jump on the computer during our lunch break to make sure we're all on the same page. Yeah, disobedient technically, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Anyway, this week has been pretty good. Elder Smiler is a really cool New Zealander/Polynesian. We get on pretty good so far. He keeps telling me he loves me because his last companion was super intense and angry sometimes. So it's nice to be appreciated for my relative laid back attitude.
Our host family just texted and said that 5 would be ideal for them because they go to visit their family after that...however maybe we can go to another family's house after their's and make it work? For now: let's plan on 5:00 Skype, but hopefully I'll get something worked out between now and then.
Elder Smiler likes to be stylish; clothing and also the way the flat is arranged. So the past few days he has repositioned furniture, reorganized stuff, etc. 
It looks nice. But I just can't be bothered either way. As long as it's warm inside, there's a bed, and enough food to survive, I'm good.
Well last week was a lot of me sitting around while Elder Pallin packed, which was fun! Not really, but kinda necessary. 
Monday night we went to Traci's for dinner. Every time we visit they tell us how thankful they are for what we have done, apparently we made a big change on the whole family! But it wasn't us, it was the spirit! 
I think I always feel like I don't teach the gospel very well, but then moments like that make me feel like others have much more confidence in me than I do. 
Like yesterday, the branch president came out teaching with us, and he told us we were fantastic teachers, whereas I always like when members contribute to the lesson because I feel like they put it in a more simple, understandable and relateable way than I can. But it's ok, because as we have seen thus far it's the holy ghost that converts the people, not our words.
A TON of travel this week! We went to Dunoon on Thursday, where our branch mission leader lives.
It was an interesting day; weekly planning, which takes about three hours. Then a lunch break. Then we had to get a bus from Greenock to Gourock, where the ferry port is. 
We missed the one we meant to get, because the driver didn't see us waiting for it and he just drove by. So we waited 30 minutes, in this time we had a nice chat with a friendly old lady going to the same place. 
The next bus never came, and the lady said she'd just get a taxi to the ferry terminal, and offered to let us go with her for free. 
So we got to the ferry on time, but only on time to get to the member's house for dinner. 
Then we had a brief coordination meeting, and by the time we got back it was like 8:30! So yeah, lots of travel, and waiting for buses and ferries. 
Then the next day we went to Millport, which was basically the same. 
Have to get a bus to Largs, then a ferry to the Isle of Cumbrae, where brother Gibson usually picks us up and takes us into the actual town of Millport. 
Dunoon, Cumbrae, and the ferry journeys are beautiful, but sometimes it's dark when we're traveling so we miss out on a bit. Apparently the summer there is AMAZING though; they say that Largs and Millport are the tourist hot spots in the summer for loads of Glaswegians. (People from Glasgow.)
ON FRIDAY I BURNED A SHIRT AND A TIE! Don't worry; they were ones that elders had left in the flat, the shirt doesn't fit me or Elder Smiler, and the tie was old and stained. So I didn't feel bad for wasting clothing. 
Man, it ignited so fast it was scary. Photos attached. Luckily it had rained earlier that morning so we didn't have to worry about setting a wildfire.
On Saturday we went and taught Kenny, Traci's husband. He's real solid. Wants to get baptised, just not sure when yet though. And have I told you that their wee boy Mark wants to go on a mission when he's 18? 
Such a solid family. Still amazes me that it all came from just knocking a certain door, right time right place.
Hmmm well I think that's it for this week. It was a nice week, as will this upcoming one. 
Still trying to find a balance between being a chill, laid-back missionary, and a super serious strict spiritual one. I hope to find that balance someday, whether here or after the mish, it is a good thing to have a balance of those two things.
Love you all! Thanks for everything. TTYL!
Love,
Elder Spencer Burt

Photos:
Beautiful sunset on the bus to Largs

Before

After (Again, don't worry, the grass was soaking wet. And we had a two litre jug of water just in case, because we are responsible!)

Monday, December 9, 2013

"By small and simple things, great things truly do come to pass!"

Hey the news is in and I will be staying another transfer, and Elder Pallin is moving to Dublin.
My new comp is Elder Smiler from New Zealand.
Crazy, I've had so many foreign companions! Let's review them all:
Elder Hunt (England)
Elder Holm (Nevada)
Elder Gomez-Castillo (Spain)
Elder Meyer (Australia)
Elder Winn (Utah)
Elder Pallin (Canada)
Elder Smiler (New Zealand)
So I've only served with one fellow Utahan, and only two Americans! Pretty crazy.
I'm excited. I've met Elder Smiler before, he seems really fun and has a goofy side I think. So we'll have some fun and also work hard and be spiritual.
So this week was real good. We have met quite a lot of new folks that are kind of interested in learning more through members.
Not the typical "referral" they encourage us to ask for, where they tell us who of their friends are interested and we go and seek them out.
No, these are people that have been inside members' houses when we go visit, and they end up sitting in on the lesson and we tailor it to them rather than the member we planned on teaching. This happened on three instances this week.
Each time they seemed really interested and they accepted the invitation for us to come around to their house or else meet up at the member's house again to teach them more. It is really cool, just investigators coming out of the woodwork so to speak.
Also, Traci's husband Kenny is solid! We visited them on Saturday night, answered any questions he had about the church or the baptism, and then taught him about the Restoration and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and he was real excited. Said he was open to the idea of baptism someday.
So yeah, their whole flippin' family will probably join the church and it will be such a great miracle! Just because we were tracting in the right place at the right time that day. By small and simple things, great things truly do come to pass!
Also, their son Mark who is seven years old apparently talks to Traci about how he wants to go on a mission to America when he is 18!
It just blows my mind how much of one missionary can affect countless lives. So rewarding!
One day last week we went to Dunoon. It's part of our branch, but we have to take a bus and then a ferry to get there. But it is beautiful! I'll try to attach a photo.
We went with the intention of trying to contact some less-active members and also some AUF's, and do some tracting in between.
But not much success. Except one older couple; we realized that the man's birthday was the very day we were going, and the Paisley stake has encouraged us to give out these birthday cards with Jesus on it, wishing them a happy birthday and encouraging them to come to church.
We heard through the grapevine that our surprise visit had a massive effect, and they are both planning to return to church!
We had a zone meeting this week. Good fun.
During it we practiced singing Christmas songs for an upcoming performance. Every year all the Paisley and Glasgow zone missionaries go to a mall in Glasgow and sing carols to raise money for some charity. And apparently we always make loads of money for them, so they like having us do it. It will be fun!
It's weird that Christmas is coming; there's no snow on the ground. Well it did snow a few days, but just flurries accompanied by freezing, strong winds, and none of it sticks to the ground so far. So not a "winter wonderland" just yet but maybe it will get snowy closer to the big day.
I went on an exchange with Elder Davis, we had a good time. Exchanges are always fun, even when you get along good enough with your companion it's nice to have a change. And also to learn from our leaders.
Well, that's it for this week.

HEY! IMPORTANT! When do you all want to Skype? There is a member family that wants us over for Christmas day and they said anytime that suits yous. So what time would be most convenient? Let me know ASAP so I can make sure it's fine with the family and then let you know in advance if it's ok. Deal? Deal. I'm very excited to talk to you all!
Love yous lots! Happy Holidays!
Spencer

Photos:
The Paisley Zone...missing a couple people because they were trying to work out the self-timers on THEIR cameras. But oh well.

Amazing sunrise in Paisley!

Monday, December 2, 2013

"We were just in the right place at the right time...and the spirit did all the convincing."

Wow, What a weekend!
Traci was baptised. And confirmed.
Her mum, dad, husband (he works in England during the week and comes back up on weekends), and two sons were there, and so was a good number of members from the ward. It was a great experience. Elder Pallin baptised her, and I confirmed her the next day.
Traci's husband said he wants to come to church again next week, and he said it's just a positive environment that is rare to find these days. So we're looking forward to getting to know him better; Friday evening was the first time we met him. Such a solid family! And her seven year old son wants to get baptised in May. Just so golden! And Traci bought us each a bag of sweets and included personal letters, very grateful and so nice and such.
It feels weird to me; we spend SO much time teaching someone, worrying about them, praying for them, studying for lessons we will teach them, and overall preparing them for this one big day...and it's super exciting, but all of a sudden it just happens, and it feels kinda weird!
I felt the same way with Jimmy. Very grateful to be part of their conversion and to witness their baptisms, but for some reason I just feel like, what? That's it? It's over? Of course, it's not over for them or for us. And of course I'm super excited at the baptism and extremely happy for each person. Overall it was a fantastic weekend!
Elder Dustin, who is a Paisley zone leader, interviewed Traci for baptism and he was just amazed at how prepared she was. As were we the whole time, I still can't believe it's only been less than a month and she is so dedicated and such a strong testimony.
And the great thing is, we didn't do anything special. We were just in the right place at the right time when we found her, had solid members with us when teaching her, and the spirit did all the convincing. In fact sometimes I felt like our lessons were rubbish quality, but she felt the spirit and understood what we tried to teach and knew it was true. So yeah, it's just magic isn't it!
Speaking of which, I shared what I thought was some really good insight/counsel at my district meeting this week.
There's a segment in The District DVD's where this young, inexperienced elder who doesn't seem too confident, makes a comment in a lesson...whenever we watch it it's just painful.
He basically says, "Yeah, a lot of people tell us, 'Well Jesus drank wine!' and we say, well, no...it was grape juice..." and then the investigator goes off on a tangent about how it really WAS wine because "grape juice wouldn't hold" and then after the segment the elder is telling how much of a disaster that one comment was, but then he says "As missionaries we make mistakes. But it's ok to make those mistakes sometimes because the spirit is there, and if the spirit is there then a good feeling is there."
And later in the video it shows the baptism of the whole family, and the spirit is always so strong when watching it.
So yeah at district meeting I showed those two segments and re-emphasized the message, that we are not perfect missionaries and we don't have to be; sometimes we will make mistakes but if we have the spirit with us then everything will be ok.
And most of the missionaries in our district then shared experiences when they had made silly mistakes in lessons and it worked out just fine in the end, because the Spirit does the actual converting, not us.
A lot of our time this week was spent teaching Traci and preparing HER, but also spent at the church preparing the other stuff.
Such as figuring out how the font filling system worked, making sure the hot water worked, cleaning the font because it hasn't been used in about a year, and cleaning a lot of the building because with such few members it's hard to clean that whole thing regularly.
In the end, it was a great experience for all who were present, and we managed to get a lot of missionary work done in the midst of it all.
Well other than that, there is not much else that happened this week. Usual, visiting less-active members, teaching other investigators who are much slower going than Traci, walking, riding buses, knocking on doors, talking to people on the street, etc.
Oh wait! A cool experience!
Whilst waiting for a bus one day, the bus stop was suddenly mobbed with little school kids and their parents taking them home.
One little four or five year old boy came up to me and just kinda started talking. Random stuff at first. Then he asked me "What's that book?" that I was holding in my hand.
I immediately turned to the pictures at the front of the book, the ones of Jesus, Joseph Smith, Nephi, Lehi, Samuel the Lamanite, etc. I showed him each one and he was amazed.
Especially when I showed him Samuel on the wall being shot at with arrows, and I told him the story about how they couldn't hit him because God was on his side. He wanted to read the story about that, so I put a bookmark in the chapter where that is, and asked him mom if it was ok to give him the book, since she was standing a few feet away talking to someone else.
Then we got on the same bus as them and he was looking at the pictures the whole time. So great!
That's my youngest Book of Mormon placement so far. Then it gets even better.
We were walking around looking for the house of a less-active member we wanted to visit. Suddenly Elder Pallin says, hey, we should knock on that door.
We did, and a friendly old man came to the door. He said he was fine with being Catholic, but we could come by another time to have a little chat.
When we left, Elder Pallin said that on the old man's wall was a photo of the little kid who I gave a Book of Mormon to! So now we have a connection on how to get in contact with the family, and we took it as a sign that they are perhaps ready to hear the gospel. It was awesome!
I feel like little kids are always happy to see us when walking around, tracting, or on the bus, but then their parents are like "No." All angry and stubborn and grumpy. Sort of rings true to that scripture where Jesus says we must be as little children, submissive, meek, humble, etc. I wish the parents were always as innocent and receptive as their kids!
Anyway, that was my week. Hope this one is full of magic and surprises for all of us, wherever we may be.
Love,
Elder Burt

Photos:
Traci's baptism


Monday, November 18, 2013

"I invited Traci to be baptised, she eagerly accepted!"

Dear family and friends, but mostly just family,
This week was quite interesting so it was! 
Fun fact: down here the Scottish people say "So it is" just like the N. Irish do, but in Dundee the only time I heard that phrase was when a Northern Irish guy was talking. So I guess the closer you get to Ireland the more you talk like them? Makes sense I guess.
Last Monday was super fun. We went to Paisley to have some fun n games with practically the whole zone. 
We planned on playing inside the church gym because it is usually rotten weather, but it wasn't too bad so we went to a nearby football pitch. 
However the field was still wet and muddy from the night before, so we played some mud-ultimate-frisbee! It was great. I think I hurt my tailbone from slipping and falling so much. Worth it though!
Then on Tuesday, we had a zone conference. Not sure if this was aimed at just our zone or if he did the same for all, but the first bit of instruction he gave was on p-day. He said that the P stands for Preparation, not Play. 
Yes, it's ok to have some fun when we have a bit of spare time that day, but the priority is to do those things we need to do so we can focus on the work the rest of the week, such as cleaning, shopping, relaxing, writing letters, etc. 
He said it was not good to ignore some of the more important tasks so we can have as much play time as possible. Also we need to stay in our area on p-day and not gather with big groups of missionaries. So basically, everything we did the day before, he said was inappropriate and shouldn't happen anymore. 
I think he said the same for the whole mission though because it's a widespread thing for missionaries to get together and do stuff. 
Elder Pallin was real bummed about it, because he was the one spearheading the whole thing on Monday, but I think it's nice that we will finally just relax on p-days, I think that will help us all de-stress more.
So remember the guy called Richard that we met last week? Well we taught him again on Monday, stopped by his house on Wednesday while we were in the area, and taught him again on Friday. 
The first two visits, we talked about baptism. The first time we brought it up he said "I'm an Aquarius, so I'm up for anything to do with water." Interesting guy. 
But the next visit he asked what he would have to do to be baptised, and he said he was seriously considering it. But then on Friday, he told us that his deep Catholic mother had threatened to disown him if he joined the church, even though he is 40 and lives on his own. 
He said he'd rather choose his mom over the church, which to me makes sense so I didn't argue with that. But we suggested that he took the next seven days for serious prayer and scripture study and hopefully God will help to soften his mom's heart. 
Also we told him that using tarot cards is a subtle way of inviting Satan into his life, so he agreed to stop using them and only communicate with God through prayer. So we'll see how that goes! We had/still have really high hopes for him.
Traci is doing Brilliant!!! 
On Wednesday we had two men from the ward volunteer to go out teaching with us, so myself and Prince Obike (from Nigeria) went to teach Traci and Elder Pallin and brother Gibson went and visited less actives/home teaching. 
I invited Traci to be baptised, she eagerly accepted! We told her that the soonest possible day would be the 30 of November, and she said she would love to be baptised that day! 
So it's less than two weeks away!!! Excited and nervous. But she is loving it. 
At church her mom was asking us if we thought it was too rushed, we said that it's up to Traci, and Traci said "it's just like...when you know it's true, you just KNOW." So that was good to hear! 
She always tells us that she feels like this has been what she's been searching for for a long time, and she hasn't felt like she belonged in a church until she met us. Awesome! 
She's a lot like Gertie, but a bit quieter, and her family is supportive so there shouldn't be any problem with that.
We did a bit of work in Largs again this week. Pretty cool town, I want to go there on a P-day sometime just to walk around and go in the shops and take pictures and what not.
We also went to Port Glasgow a couple times. We had an "AUF" (address unknown file, I think I've talked about these before) that we had to go try and contact. 
He lived on Robert Street, which was the dodgiest neighborhood I have ever been to! 
We knocked some doors near this man's house, and one guy who looked a bit scary himself told us to watch ourselves, "This is a bad area and there are a lot of alcoholics and heroin addicts here." 
We had the feeling too; there were broken windows everywhere and some doors were broken off the hinges and there was just junk inside the flats. Luckily it was daytime; if it was dark we would have just turned around and run, it was that dodgy.
We work with a lot of less-active people here, which I've mentioned before. Many of them have mental health problems of some sort, or addictions. So we have some interesting conversations. 
One man we were talking to was absolutely wasted, and he said "You know that big huge church in Utah City? Well I can go inside there because I'm baptized." It was pretty funny. 
Then another guy who is old and a bit slow, but SUPER nice and friendly...he has a huge flag collection! 
Mom, you would like it. There is literally no space on the wall; just flags. Many duplicate Scottish flags, the blue and white flag (I think it's called St. Andrew's Cross) and the yellow one with a red lion on it. In some places there are flags covering other flags because there just isn't enough room. 
While we tried to share a message with him, sometimes he'd randomly point to a flag and say "That one there is Jordan" and other ones that he was excited to tell us about. Next time we're there I'll try and get a picture or two!
Well that was a pretty long email and my hands are kinda sore from typing so fast. So I'll go now. Take care everybody! Have fun!
Oh, one more thing: President Brown has authorized an additional book for our study in addition to the scriptures, PMG, and other official church stuff..."The Power of everyday Missionaries" by Clayton Christensen. 
The zone leaders have it, and it is GENIUS! 
I urge you all to read it. Also, if possible, I would like one. The one chapter I read was just brilliant, with loads of helpful hints on how to invite our friends, and even non-friends, to hear the gospel in polite, effective, logical and practical ways.
Love yous all! Happy Thanksgiving! (Soon, right? We don't do that here...)
Love,
Elder Burt 
 
Photos: 
Upside down printed Book of Mormon! What a find!

Elder Pallin

Monday, November 4, 2013

"...that rule has caused more inconvenience than anything for missionaries and members worldwide."

Well, week one in Greenock has been alright.
It rains every day. Literally. Except today; it's bright and sunny outside. But it will probably rain later on.
The branch here is very small. Smaller than Omagh. I think we had 19 members (not including us) at church yesterday.
But the funny thing is, they have a HUGE building to meet in! Apparently there used to be a big army base here, so lots of Americans were over and I guess enough to have  a huge ward. So now we have a tiny branch and tons of room.
It's a unique church; it has three stories. The main level has the chapel and the Sunday school/priesthood/relief society rooms. Upstairs they have offices, primary, library, and storage. And down in the basement there used to be a gun range or something? I haven't had the chance to see it yet but apparently it's there.
This week we've done a load of less-active work. Most are old sisters who live on their own, so we have to stand on their doorstep and chat and share a message with them.
And there's only a few adult males in the ward, and I think none of them actually live in Greenock, they are in surrounding towns and they all have jobs and stuff so it's kinda lame. I feel like that rule has caused more inconvenience than anything for missionaries and members worldwide.
Let's backtrack!
Last Monday and Tuesday we had fun visiting a few people. We also taught Stewart, and we had a member with us from a similar background but is now an active member with a wife and two kids in the church. So he was perfect as a friend for Stewart.
Also we visited Jack and June Topen, a sweet old couple, The Keoghs, the Williams, and a few others. We taught Mark, who seems to be slowly making his way toward baptism hopefully maybe.
Elder Pallin and I actually talk and have conversations in the flat. He loves singing...all the time. Which might eventually get on my nerves, but I'll try to not let it. Sometimes we have disagreements on how the work should be done, but overall it's a good companionship.
Here's a funny story; I was by myself on a train from Dundee to Edinburgh! Quite the adventure. Apparently they thought I could handle it and was responsible enough.
Turns out it was a bit weird in the end because at the train station I saw one of the YSA girls from our ward and she was going on the same train, so I ended up sitting by her and it was even weirder than being totally alone! Haha! But it was nice to have someone to talk to rather than being all alone with just my sadness of leaving Dundee.
Hey, so ya know how when I got to Dundee the wheel on my suitcase got shredded and I had to drag it and ended up buying a new one? Well...the same thing happened to the other suitcase that I came out with when I came to Greenock.
Probably because those suitcases are kind of old and cheap and have lasted a long time because they have only been in cars and airports and such. But the sidewalks here are super rough, so I guess the heavy suitcase combined with the bumpy sidewalks plus old wheels makes for broken wheels. So I might buy a new one, or I might just drag it to my next area when I move.
Thursday was Halloween. We had to stay inside the flat after 6:00 pm.
The rest of the week we did a lot of travelling to get to less-actives' and potential investigators' homes to see if they are in. Something might need to change here if we want to see miracles. Gotta do some finding.
Overall a good week.
Love you all!
Elder Burt

Photo: Jack and June

Blonde Jesus with a blue robe (in the Liff Road bishop's office)

Photos from the train from Dundee to Edinburgh. Amazing views!






Monday, October 28, 2013

"Every minute the reality of me leaving this great place increases. I am honestly quite bummed..."

Hey y'all!
So here's the news you're all waiting for...I'll be moving to Greenock, which is on the southwest of Scotland. My companion will be Elder Pallin, who just got done being trained. I'm excited, but more sad.
I hoped to stay for another transfer at least. The area sounds exciting, but I'm definitely gonna miss the people here so much. I want to see Stewart baptised! But oh well, that's missionary life for ya.
Speaking of Stewart, he's doing great. We taught him a few times last week, and he's still pretty receptive. He came to church in a black suit, dress shirt...and chains of course!
Participated well in the elders quorum lesson, and it was a really good one on obedience. Gospel Principles' lesson was on chastity...that one was awkward.
Our teacher started talking about what the law of chastity is, and Stewart raised his hand and openly admitted to breaking it with two women at the same time. It was hilariously awkward...everyone in the class was shocked, and I think the teacher and we elders were the most embarrassed. But it's ok, I'm sure the new elders will teach him that that's a really really bad thing to do.
Best part though: He came to a baptism of the Bingham sisters' investigator. He asked us who he needs to talk to for him to get baptised. We told him that we'd discuss it this week, so hopefully today we set a date with him and also help him understand the significance of the covenant and whatnot. Exciting though!
We taught Kossi a few times this week. Once just with us, and it was really difficult. But Saturday we had Scott with us and it was awesome as usual. We tried to teach simply in English, but it still wasn't clicking with him. So again we just let Scott take over in French and he did great.
Mark is still doing alright. Still nervous about church, but someday I'm quite sure he'll get baptised if the elders keep teaching him and maybe give him a wee push, and also if his member-friend Cheryl keeps inviting him to church.
Sorry it's a bit short this week...I feel like nothing else noteworthy happened.
Every minute the reality of me leaving this great place increases. I am honestly quite bummed to leave...but at least Elder Winn and I aren't together for three transfers like I was with my trainer.
Oh well. Hopefully next week will be full of stories about how great Greenock is!
Love you all. You're in my prayers!
Love, Spencer

Photos:
Charlotte Street (sorry, couldn't find the rest of your names...)

Dundee United stadium

Goofin around with Elder Gomez

Dennis and Avril Campbell, awesome and hilarious members

Monday, October 21, 2013

"I am still dreaming of bringing a family into the church..."

Hey guess what? I finally bought some cool Scotland stuff for yous last Monday. I'll grab a few things more today and hopefully send it in the next couple days.
I thoroughly enjoyed this week; particularly Tuesday and Friday. Because I was on exchanges with some elders in my district, and we worked, taught, etc. in real good unity. I look forward to exchanges; sometimes probably too much. Oh well.
Highlights of this week: Fiona and Stewart.
Fiona was a nice young mother we met in the street. We made an appointment with her, but she was busy and said to come back the next day. 
We did, with a member from the ward. He's a super good missionary; he talked more than us but I was totally ok with it. He related well to her, they had kids of similar ages, he is a convert to the church, he told his story, testified of the importance of families and how we can be together forever. It was really good. 
Then the same guy came with us to a few other appointments, most of which fell through but it was awesome having him with us.
We met Stewart on Friday. He lives on floor 15 of a high rise building (aka "high flats" or "multi's"). 
We were a bit early to our appointment with our good friend Paul, so we decided to just chap as many doors as possible in shortest time possible. So we started on the top, planning to work our way down. But the first door we chapped, we met Stewart and he let us in. 
He seems pretty solid for the most part. We shared a brief message with him, introduced the Book of Mormon, set a return appointment for the next day, and then had to dash to our next place. 
Went back the next day, he had already read up to 1 Nephi, chapter 11 or something. He understood it quite well too. 
He was a bit confused, because when we told him about Joseph Smith and the Gold Plates and stuff, he got a bit confused because he thought we were talking about Nephi and the Brass Plates. But we cleared it up. 
After the lesson he insisted on showing us a clip from a DVD containing DMX's conversion story to Christianity...it was really weird. 
He's really into the rap scene. He showed up to church on Sunday, wearing baggy khaki trousers and a matching jacket, with a big golden chain with a dollar sign medallion. Everyone complimented him on it. 
He participated a lot in priesthood and Sunday school which was good, although it was mostly him trying to make jokes, and he did the same in sacrament meeting...(when they brought the bread around, he said "no thanks, I had toast this morning") haha, but he really enjoyed church. 
He's been the first investigator to come to church in quite a while. It was good. Maybe we'll teach him about reverence or something this week.
Also we got a new bishop this week, Brother Keogh, the dad of the huge family that feeds us often, is the new bishop. Pretty exciting I guess. He'll be great, but we'll miss Bishop Murray a lot.
Cool update on our investigator Mark; turns out he is friends with a lady named Cheryl, and turns out she hasn't been to church in ages and wants to come back. She came to Mark's house with us, and she encouraged him to get baptised and said she'd love to be there if he does decide to. 
Also she tried to convince him to come to church. She was set on coming yesterday, but for some reason she didn't show up. We'll find out today or tomorrow hopefully. 
But I thought it was kind of a miracle; we met Mark while tracting, but then we later find out that his best friend and neighbour is a member, and the involvement of both of them in the lessons will increase the chances of her becoming active and also of him joining the church. No coincidence there that's for sure!
Overall the work is going great, I find joy even in the smallest of things like having a laugh with a random uninterested person on the street. 
Ooh, that reminds me, another story. There's this group of teenagers who just hang around the City Centre every night. They used to give us hassle, like yelling "Hey Jesus guys!" every time they saw us, or saying "Jesus is stupid!" just to get a reaction...but as we keep seeing them, they've started asking questions, like what we actually do, why we do it, if we get paid, etc... 
Then one night we saw one of the Bingham elders give a few of them Books of Mormons...my initial reaction was that they wold just throw them away or something...but we met the group last night and one of them said he's reading it and stuff, and we had a three minute conversation on life in general, and members of the church who he knows. 
So, slowly we're converting a whole group of "chavs" or "neds" (punk teenagers). That would be so cool if all of a sudden we baptise 20 neds and quadruple the young men population of the ward, and change lives and stuff. Might be a long shot, but it would be super cool. Also I am still dreaming of bringing a family into the church...I think that would be soooo cool and fulfilling and spiritual!
Anyway, hope yous all have a great week. I might very well move to a different area in a week and a half, so look forward to the big news next week!
Love,
Spencer

Monday, October 14, 2013

"...keep an eye out for a Scottish guy...he'll be easy to spot driving on the wrong side of the road and wearing a bright red kilt."

Hello wonderful familia!
This week was quite stupendous. It all started off with last Monday, when we went and played "chair football" at the church. (From here on out, "football" will mean "soccer" because that's what they call it here ya know.) 
That's where we each have a chair, and the goal is to hit other players' chairs with the ball. If your chair gets hit, you sit down. If the person who got you out gets out, you're back in. 
So it goes on for a while, until one person has gotten every other player out. It's way fun. We also just played a 3v3 match in the gym (us, the zone leaders, their trainee, and a member of our ward). Probably the best p-day so far.
Now before I move on to the missionary work part of this week...have you guys heard of the movie "Sunshine on Leith?" It's a Scottish movie, from what people say here it's set in Edinburgh and the plot revolves around songs by The Proclaimers, who are Scottish (kind of like Mamma Mia is based on Abba songs). 
I've heard it's really good. Not sure if it's made it to Utah yet, but you should all watch it somehow and tell me how it is. And tell everyone in the theatre that I'm basically one of them.
This week I went on two exchanges, both in trios. Conclusion: Trios are awkward when trying to talk to people on the street, but a lot more fun when hanging out together during down time.
Elder Winn's birthday was on Thursday (21). I tried to make a cake, but apparently I put the oven on the wrong setting so it burned the top and left the inside all runny. It was ok though because we just ended up eating the raw cake batter. 
The senior missionary couple Elder and Sister Bylund and also a family in the ward made it a successful birthday for him. So that was nice.
We've been doing a lot of street contacting. From my conclusion: It allows us to teach more "lessons" each week, but as far as finding people who are interested in investigating further it's not that effective. I think a mixture of tracting and street contacting is good.
In our attempts to contact inactive people on the ward list, we found quite a strange coincidence: We were looking for a lady called Carol, and at her house we met a guy named Paul who is a member, but Carol had long since moved out. And apparently he might be moving to Riverton soon...weird! 
So tell the Wests to keep an eye out for a Scottish guy in the next few months...he'll be easy to spot driving on the wrong side of the road and wearing a bright red kilt.
Yesterday was pretty cool; the sister missionaries in another ward in Dundee met a guy from Chad who speaks French but only a bit of English, and he lives in our ward boundaries, so we took an returned missionary who went to France with us, and he just taught the first lesson to this guy in French. 
We just sat back and listened, quite content that the member was re-living the glory days of his mission and the African guy was happy to communicate with someone who he can understand better. So we're excited to keep working with him. 
Next time we'll probably teach in English, and the member will be there to translate if necessary. Fun fun!
That's it for cool stories this week. Lots of street contacting in the City Centre, tracting, visiting less active members, etc. 
Oh wait, one more; in the City Centre we had split up so we could talk to as many people as possible (still within sight and sound) and I saw this guy sitting on a bench crying.
I went up and just asked what was up. At first it was awkward because he was embarrassed to be crying in public, but then we got talking and he just told me about how homesick he was and how it's even worse because his mom was in the hospital. 
Didn't really talk much about the gospel, but he was really happy by the time we were done talking. His girlfriend walked up to him kind of confused as to what was going on, but in the end they said they might both be interested at a later time. So it was kind of cool to see someone positively affected by just a short conversation.
Hope yous all have a fantastic week! May the road rise up to meet you.
Love,
Spencer

Photos: Trio exchanges!


Monday, October 7, 2013

"Well, Billy's up a gum tree so see ya."

Hello Dearest family!
This week was pretty grand. 
Starting off with last P-day, we played a bit of mini golf, and then played on some dangerous playground equipment. Picture attached. 
Then Tuesday we had a decent lesson with our investigator Mark...slow going but he'll get there someday somehow. 
Then that evening the young men's group invited us to their activity to taste the food they made...the challenge was to make the best/cheapest/healthiest missionary meal. 
Some were pretty mingin', but it inspired me to be more creative with food. One was chicken ramen noodles with cheese on top and cut up hot dog and beans. Couldn't decide if it was nasty or genius. But yeah, I'm gonna experiment and let you know how it goes. I bet you are so excited.
Wednesday I went on exchanges with an elder...it was super fun, he was just super goofy and it gave me an opportunity to release all my pent-up goofiness. 
But at the same time it was hard to focus on the work at times. If I had a super goofy companion 24/7 I'd have to try hard and find a balance. It was a super fun exchange though.
Thursday we went to a funeral! I was sitting by Elder Farnsworth (the one we met at the airport) and I whispered to him "I put the 'fun' in 'funeral'" and we had a wee silent chuckle to ourselves. 
Luckily we were in the back of the chapel; the lady's family was all really sad and they weren't Mormons. Mormons seem happy at funerals. 
In this country, everyone gets cremated because apparently the cemeteries are too crowded.
Friday we had a zone conference. The training was pretty good, I learned a lot...then we talked about family history. They are trying so hard for us to use it in our finding efforts, but so far I've seen 0 success when we've tried in the past. But we'll try again I guess.
Saturday I had a good Scottish food experience again. We went to a chippy, and I got a deep fried Mars bar. Soooo good. So unhealthy. 
Don't worry; I haven't put on weight while I've been out, as most elders do...but I haven't lost any either and that's my goal. But that's another story.
Conference was so good!!!!! 
Being on a mission I feel like I get super excited for it because: 
1) We get to rest from walking around and such for eight extra hours in one weekend.
2) We are always spiritual so having them speak to us is like an extra super spiritual high. 
3) They're like celebrities to us. 
I learned quite a lot, which I'm sure yous did too. My favourite line that I am going to use when talking to people: "We are all hypocrites...come and join us." 
Also I loved Edward Dube's talk, mostly because it's fun to listen to his voice. And that one guy who kept saying "exclamation point!" was super cheesy. 
But Elder Holland's talk was suuuper good! Especially for our area, where we teach a lot of people with mental problems of some sort.
I noticed during conference, and throughout my mission, that EVERYONE prays for the missionaries. ALWAYS! In the ward, in conference, everywhere. Not sure if that's changed recently, or if I'm just noticing it now because I am one. But it's nice that so many people are praying for us.
Funny story: We found a guy who was fairly receptive; we taught him about the Book of Mormon on his door step and gave him one, and he said he'd read it and we could come back two days later. We did so, and he answered the door, said to hold on a minute, and then another guy came to the door and said, "We don't really do that sort of stuff in this house." 
We told him that Billy said we should come back, and he said "Well, Billy's up a gum tree so see ya." And closed the door. No idea what it even meant but it was pretty funny.
Well, that's the week. I hope you enjoyed it. I sort of did, it was a bit drab in retrospect. Maybe hopefully this week is full of unexpected fun and hidden surprises!
Love you all!
--Spencer
 
Photo:
Playground thing, where we sit or stand on the ropes and one person pushes us around and around like a carousel....and then sometimes we fall off! It's fun!

Monday, September 30, 2013

"...families are central to God's plan, and to the gospel, but sometimes we get too caught up with the Restoration and the Book of Mormon..."

Let's start backwards this week!
Yesterday was really nice at church. I may have mentioned before, but our bishop is very very, very missionary-minded, and it's awesome. 
It was the 5th Sunday, so all the Priesthood and Relief Society met together in the chapel. Bishop requested that we teach the Restoration lesson to the whole crowd, to help them understand how a first visit with missionaries would generally go. Then he encouraged all of them to invite us over to share all the missionary lessons with their families, hoping that if they do this, they will feel more comfortable inviting their friends to listen to our message, and the spirit of the lessons will maybe prompt them to be more bold and inviting. 
I felt kinda awkward teaching a lesson in front of 100ish people, but a member of the ward approached me after church and said that his favourite part of church that day was when we shared the lesson. So I felt pretty good after that. Also a girl from the ward is leaving on her mission to Oregon next week, so she gave her farewell talk, and also her dad and uncle spoke about their missions. They were all really good talks. 
Recently the bishop has had returned missionaries talk about what they learned from their missions, and converts talk about their story, just to get the ward more pumped about doing missionary work. Some of them have just talked about the fun or crazy stories from their missions, but the returned missionary talks yesterday were really spiritual and inspirational. 
Here's a cool thing: When planning out last week's district meeting, I felt like we need to focus on FAMILIES more in our missionary efforts; myself and missionaries in general. 
I taught/we discussed about how families are central to God's plan, and to the gospel, but sometimes we get too caught up with the Restoration and the Book of Mormon when talking to strangers about the gospel. So we all committed to spend more effort talking about eternal families, how the gospel and the church can strengthen and unify families, and so forth. 
When preparing this lesson, I realized how much Preach My Gospel talks about families in the section about finding people to teach. So, this week as we have had families in mind, praying to find families to teach and testify, and asking people about their families, we've seen quite a bit of success. 
We have a few young mothers and fathers who want to learn more, and in a lesson with an investigator we decided to just sit down and ask him about his family, and he was really excited to talk about his kids and how he hopes to re-unite with them someday soon (divorced or something). 
The spirit is always there when talking to people about their families, according to Preach My Gospel and also my experience this week. You guys are probably bored by all this, but I found it amazing and miraculous how much we had been overlooking when it comes to families!
Other than that, this week hasn't been too eventful. We have spent quite a bit of time trying to contact inactive members on the ward list, and then knocking 10 doors on each side if the person isn't home or is not interested. Still amazes us how many people are technically members, and yet they have no recollection of the church. Some are a bit angry when we show up, others are really nice but not interested, and maybe one we met was super nice and maybe sort of interested--gave her a family proclamation and she said we could come back another day.
So yeah, the work is going pretty well. Small miracles here and there, tender mercies everywhere. Thanks for being such a great family! I canny wait to be with yous forever!
Love,
Spencer
 
Photo: Smiling Jesus! Personally signed by Del Parsons, to a lady in our ward! 
Some story behind it, apparently she always wondered why there are none/few pictures of Jesus smiling. A friend of hers knew the artist, and bought her a copy. It amazes me how you can tell it's the same artist as the classic portrait of Jesus in red.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"...she hadn't seen her mom smile so much in a long time. It felt great! That's what missionary work is all about."

Hiya what's the craic with yous? Hope the craic is good. (Only the Irish say that; it's pronounced like crack.)
This week was grand, so it was. 
Starting off with last Monday, we were going to get some kebabs, but unfortunately they don't sell the right ones during the day. But we went to a chippy (fish n chip shop) where I got a deep fried haggis with chips (fries). It was pure mingin'! 
Mingin' means disgusting, not sure where it comes from. I've also heard boggin' to mean the same thing. Pure mingin' just means "really gross". I powered through it, just to say that I ate a mingin' haggis from a chippy in bonnie Scotland.
That was my Scottish experience for the week. 
Monday was a really good day in a few other ways:
A few lessons fell through, so we decided to borrow some garden clippers from our landlady/neighbour, and did some community service by trimming a tree with branches hanging down over the sidewalk, that we and other people walking past have to either duck under or walk in the street to avoid. 
We got permission from the owner and did it, so it was great because it benefited other people AND us, because we walk past that tree all the time. And maybe some people driving by on the fairly busy road saw us in our white shirts doing service and thought, "Hey, they are good people. I want to join their church."
Best part of Monday: June and Melissa. I've mentioned Melissa before I think...she was the young lady who committed herself to baptism, but then we lost contact. We had a great lesson with her and her mom (June) on Monday. 
June suffered a stroke about a year ago, and she has a hard time expressing herself. But we could tell she was feeling the spirit as we taught, and afterward Melissa said that she hadn't seen her mom smile so much in a long time. It felt great! That's what missionary work is all about. 
They were both really excited to learn more and have a tour of the church the next day. But then when we showed up, Melissa wasn't home, and June didny ken where she was. And we haven't been able to contact them since. It's a bit slow going, but they are both really eager for the gospel so it will just take patience.
On Tuesday we taught Mark. He says he wants to come to church but he wants to save up and buy a suit first. We told him he can come in jeans and a polo shirt, but he said he wants to have a suit. Pretty sure he's mostly just nervous to meet new people, but again, it will just take patience. 
Tuesday Elder Mills (MY kebabtizer!), Elder Wilwand and I kebabtised Elder Winn. It was such a great experience. 
After that we were doing some tracting near the church after Melissa's church tour fell through, and this eight year old member gave us a few referrals, in a way. 
He was hanging out with his friend, and said, "Hey, we can go to his house and ask if his mum wants to join the church!" 
So we followed him, and the mum rejected us as soon as she opened the door. Then he asked another friend if he'd want to come to church and he said yes, so we went to his house to ask if he could come. The grandma was there, and said we'd have to ask his mum who wasn't home. 
So yeah, this kid is such a great member-missionary! He even told his friend that if you are a Mormon you come back to life. We cleared it up and told him that God loves all his children not just Mormons, and that everyone will come back to life, haha.
The 2nd set of Liff elders arrived Wednesday. 
On Thursday we went with them and tracted a bit near their flat to find them a teaching pool. Found a bit of success. We did splits for an hour or so, and I tracted with Elder Gomez. Then the bishop had us all over for dinner. Our bishop's way cool, just really laid back I've come to realize.
Funny moment from Friday: Fiona. So we had an appointment with a lady named Fiona, and a young dad in the ward named Jared came with us to teach. When he found out her name was Fiona, he put forth a challenge to see who could slip in a Shrek reference during the lesson. 
When we showed up, she answered and basically said she wasn't really interested, but she just couldn't say no because we looked really happy and friendly. Jared: "Well, we just smile a lot because it's no use going around like grumpy old ogres!" She just looked confused, and the three of us were fighting to hold in the laughter. Definitely the humour highlight of the week.
We finally had a lesson with Vikram, after weeks of him saying he'd call us when he's not busy. We just stopped by his house and he let us in. He definitely wants to be baptised someday, he said. Just trying to figure out when. But he said a really calm, spiritual prayer at the end of the lesson, it was amazing. I felt bad; I feel like my prayers are sometimes just praying to say that we prayed, but he was super sincere and calm and peaceful when he prayed. It was cool.
Later that day as we were walking down the road we met a lady who is truly searching for the gospel. Her husband died a while ago, and when we told her she could see him again, she was super excited. We have an appointment with her tonight, and we have it planned out really well to talk about eternal families. I felt like she was truly prepared.
Yesterday after church, we went and participated in this interfaith peace parade! 
The stake presidency encouraged as many members and missionaries to be there as possible. We basically just participated in carrying flags of EVERY country around the town square, and then each of us went up, said what country we were holding, and then the whole group (probably a few hundred) would say "May peace be in _____!" It was really cool. There were more flags there than people, so we all got to carry a few. Good mix of people there. Loads of Mormons!
Best end to the week: Kris and Chelsea are back on track! 
The Gilmours, a fantastic couple in the ward, went over to their house to find out if they were ok, because we hadn't been able to contact them for weeks. Apparently they felt a bit too pressured with everything, so they kinda took a break from going to church. So we had a laid-back lesson at the Gilmours' house last night, and we all really enjoyed it. 
So yeah, we'll try harder to not pressure them too much this time. 
Hard to discern, because lots of people need a good wee push, but others need their own time and their own pace.
So yeah, that's this week for ya. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Because I did enjoy it, quite a lot. Very eventful and stuff. High hopes for this week being EVEN BETTER!
Love you all!
Spencer

Photos:
Peace parade! Pretty cool.




Monday, September 16, 2013

"..."my mom's pretending she's not home!" It was hilarious."

Hello all! 
So first off, this is moves week...already! Elder Winn and I are staying, as expected. However, an extra set of elders is being assigned to Liff ward as well. A trio, including Elder Farnsworth (the elder who I left SLC with), and elder Gomez-Castillo! So they will be part of my district. And Perth is no longer under my stewardship, because there is another set of elders in Perth as well, and they will form their own district. 
So yeah, exciting things are happening. I'm not so sure about having two sets of missionaries in our ward. It means less dinner appointments and less investigator appointments for us, and almost every night we struggle to come up with meaningful activities to do during the next day, so now it will be even harder. But I guess it will be sort of fun. We'll see.
Last week we did a bit of tracting in this neighbourhood near our flat. Pretty classy neighbourhood, well at least compared to some of the places we go. 
At one house there was this super cute wee girl, she answered the door and said, "my mom's pretending she's not home!" It was hilarious. The mom came to the door after that of course, we found out her mom is a member of Bingham ward. Then the little girl followed us around on her bike for the next five houses or so. Real funny. Then we met this lady who I thought was totally prepared to hear the gospel. Non religious, but wonders if there is more. HOPES there is more, and was intrigued by the thought of eternal families. 
When we returned the next day, her husband answered and said that they are atheists. But I want to go by sometime when she is only home and find out if she is interested. We get a lot of that, "No, she's not interested." Agency, people!
On Tuesday we taught our friend Mark again. So hard to stay on-topic. But he's making progress. We started teaching a new guy called Brian. He's had a bit of a rough past, but seems to want to change. 
Cool story we heard from Lee Thomson (ward mission leader). Apparently these two Scottish rappers went down to London to try and make it, but were shut down. Then they decided to put on American accents, and come up with a whole back story as to where they are from, and they made it big! (In England) Just recently after several years of performing and recording, they announced that they're not American, but Scottish. Apparently there is going to be a movie made about it. Cool story, eh?
On Wednesday I experienced a good Ward Council argument! I was just a bystander, but it was still pretty awkward. Our bishop said this to us afterward, "I guess it's a good thing that people love the ward so much that they will get angry at someone else for it...that's the only good thing I could come up with about that." Haha, our bishop is pretty laid back, but still a great bishop.
As I am getting used to, we met a lot of people in the street or while tracting who had good potential, but then they were not there when we showed up for a return appointment. I am trying to master the art of "teach now, not later" where you just start teaching there and then so the person will feel the spirit and have a greater desire to meet with you in the future. It's a genius idea, but it's hard!
We decided to try talking to people on the Dundee University campus, since this was the first week of classes. People seemed a lot more open and friendly than the usual street contacting, but they were in a rush. I really want to try again, maybe at a time when the students are just walking around campus not going to class. It made me a bit trunky [thinking of home] though, I want to go back to that good ol college life! But this life is better.
Part of training a new missionary we're supposed to do an extra hour of companion study together, including watching The District clips, reading Preach My Gospel together, and doing role-plays. I haven't been putting a very high priority on it for most of the time, but lately I've felt like we need to do more so when we have something going on that causes us to miss the extra hour, we'll do it later in the day when we have nothing going on. Sometimes it's frustrating staying at home instead of going out and doing work, but Elder Tinsley our fearless zone leader told me that the training is THE MOST productive thing you can do, and it will affect the rest of a missionary's mission. 
So yeah, we've been doing a lot more. That's maybe why this week feels like it's been a bit slow and uneventful,. other than a few cool stories here and there. Well, that's about it for me. We are probably gonna go Kebabtize Elder Winn now!
Love,
Elder S. Burt
 
Photos: 
Logan Crescent! 

Our district! zig zag from top left: Elders Tinsley, Donaldson, Lesuma, Winn, Burt, Allison.

This painting is in a member's house...I asked to take a picture of it because I thought the signature said "Burty", but apparently it's Bunty. It looks like Burty though.

Monday, September 9, 2013

"I like doing this, hoping that they are "lost sheep" that we can bring back."

Hiya fellow Americans,
This week was quite good. Best part was a fantastic zone meeting dedicated to companionship unity. We went away feeling real unified, and we enjoy our companionship quite a bit more now. So it's good, makes the work a lot more enjoyable.
The following are the events that transpired this week, in chronological order:
Monday we had a nice p-day, Elder Mills gave me a haircut, I look really good. We played a bit of tennis, but only a wee bit because the buses and the emails and the shopping and the haircut all took a while. 
Then we had dinner at the Hann's house. Did I tell you about them yet? 12 kids. Age 2-21. They had a BBC kids documentary about them. You could probably find it if you google "Hann family Mormon Scotland Dundee" or something like that. Their little kids are the funniest. Tons of funny stuff they say...can't remember any but I'll have to write them down in the future so I can swap Sunbeam stories with Mum. 
Then we did some service for a nice lady in the ward.
Tuesday: Zone meeting, exchange with Elder Donaldson in my area, four appointments fell through, but two unexpected people let us in to teach them. One was Paul, the one who flip flops all the time. He is back on track...at least he was that day. Haven't heard from him since Thursday.
Wednesday: Service at Baxter Park picking up litter. Service at a member's neighbour's house, gardening. Taught a less-active guy. Dinner at a nice family who is doing good member missionary work and is excited to start doing even more, agreed to invite her less-active sister and her non-member partner to the next time we come to dinner. Taught Mark a good, but off-topic, and LONG lesson, but good thing was we had a member called Julian come with us and they got along well.
Thursday: Weekly planning, watched "The Lamb of God" with Paul, he said it was an honor to watch it with us. Taught another less-active lady, tried to teach Kris and Chelsea...they have been missing appointments and not coming to church for the past three weeks. We are concerned.
Friday: Gave Mark a tour of the church to help him feel comfortable in the building before he comes to church. He enjoyed it, another member around his age drove us there, and bore a real good testimony to Mark in the chapel. Unfortunately Mark didn't come on Sunday, wasn't feeling well. 
Dinner at the Clancy's house, fun family similar in age to us Burts. Late-night (8pm) dinner at Mike Longmuir's house (another member), super spicy curry, fun visit and spiritual discussion.
Saturday: Street contacting in City Centre. Met a guy from Ghana called Eli, taught him a bit right there and then, taught a full sit down lesson at his flat on Sunday. 
Had a good lesson with Jimmy, cleared up some misunderstanding about the doctrine, hopefully helps him to continue in church activity.
Sunday: Church, Another good lesson with Jimmy following the service, knocked a few doors of people on the ward list who we've never met or heard of before. I like doing this, hoping that they are "lost sheep" that we can bring back. But often they aren't even aware they are members, and they are not interested. But I like it for some reason, trying to find out the story behind these names on the list. 
Taught Eli (previously mentioned). Tried to contact some former investigators, which I also find interesting, but often with similar results. 
Back to the flat, had dinner, did a bit of "training" where we read a bit of Preach my Gospel but mostly just watched The District videos. Good fun.
Monday: Woke up, did a few sit-ups, tried to do push-ups but couldn't be bothered, showered, ate cereal, studied, took a bus to the library, sat down, checked emails, wrote this email. 
After this we'll do some grocery shopping and then go play tennis. Again! which is good because we didn't get to play for long last week but I loved it so I am proper excited.
Sorry, this week's email wasn't as entertaining, I figured I'd try to be more organized and also I am behind on my journal entries which I usually use, and so I just have my planner for reference of last weeks' stuff. So yeah, next week will be better; stories not just events!
I like my mission a lot. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier and/or nicer to be just hanging out back home, but other times there's no other place in the world I'd rather be.
We found a few stores that sell loads of Scotland/Dundee souvenir stuff...what do yous want? Magnets? Pins? Pens? Stickers? Mini figurines of guys in kilts playing bagpipes? Flags? Calendars? Anything really. Think about it, pray about it, and let me know, or I might just buy a bunch of random stuff you may or may not like.
Have a great week erbody! Love yous
Spencer
 
PS: I had a letter all written and addressed last Monday, but had no stamps. So I will send it today. I PROMISE.

Photos: 
Me in the classy tie Char and Ryan sent me

My planners so far. (Six transfers! Nine month mark sometime this week! Crazy)


Monday, September 2, 2013

"When I read it I was literally speechless, just...whaaat?! Miracle."

Hey, I have a cold right now. I think I got it from Charlotte.
I'm gonna start with a brief recap of all the Scottish/Irish language I've learned so far.
They both say wee, yous, missionry/primry/testimny.
Scottish have a lot more it seems, although even people living in and raised in the same city have different styles. Those who grew up in a more rough area with a rough childhood seem to speak more "broad" whereas the more dignified people speak more "polite." 
Like saying "ken" instead of "know" like "Do you ken him?" "Nae paul I dunny ken him." (No pal, I don't know him.) 
I think Billy Connelly had the thickest "Dundonian" accent. When driving in the car with the window down, he'd say "y'alright with that windy doon?" Toon=town, doon=down, etc. Also they refer to kids as "wee'uns" but some Dundonians say "bee'un" and it kinda sounds like bean.
"I canny go 'e the toon today, my bee'un broke the windy ken" (I cannot go to the town today because my child broke the window, ya know?) I've never heard that sentence, but yeah that's most of the slang that comes to mind right now. 
N. Irish is mostly the same words, other than wee and aye and yous, but with just a sort of sing-song voice. I'll pay more attention and write down little things I hear each day and share more next week! Maybe I'll trick the Scots into saying something to my camera while I record them, so yous get the full effect ken?
So anyway this week was pretty ok. Had a few good dinners, we helped Billy and Jan Connelly pack up their moving van (they're away to England now...) Kris and Chelsea never answered their door for appointments, even on the rare occasion that they answered our calls and said to come at the specific time...Did some service for an older lady who lives next to a member, taught a good lesson to Cameron that got him excited and participating a lot more (but now we have big shoes to fill for the next lesson...) We met a few good people to teach, but overall the theme of last week was people cancelling on us or just not being there when we show up. This coming week we already have like a ton of appointments set up, so hopefully they all work out this time.
The ward took a huge step yesterday; the whole time while I've been here the ward mission leader has been talking about this grand idea of getting more people going out to teach with us. But the whole time we've basically just arranged stuff ourselves when we need someone to go with us. But yesterday Brother Thomson approached a bunch of elders/high priests in the ward and we have someone going out teaching with us five nights this week, whether we have a lesson or not. Awesome!
Good news and bad news about Melissa. We finally got in contact with her on Friday. She was just as excited to be taught, come to YSA, church, and get baptised. So we arranged an appointment for the next day, brought someone with us, and again she wasn't there. Weird. 
Also, we got a text from this guy we met a few weeks back who didn't seem that interested at first: "Hello it's Lawrence, I'm sorry for the late message but I find myself in need of guidance. if you would be so kind as to contact me I would welcome you and your conversation. If it helps I have good reason to have faith in our Lord, my mother has faith and I believe in her beyond all doubt. I have prayed to our Lord in my most pressing of times and I want to give thanks by accepting my brothers and the goodwill you bring. I am ready to accept Jesus into my life and I believe this is how I should start." 
When I read it I was literally speechless, just...whaaat?! Miracle. 
My enthusiasm was lessened a bit when we called and he hung up on us...but we are planning to stop by at his house today just to see if he is still as miraculously interested and prepared to receive the gospel. 
So yeah, we've seen a few wee/big miracles, but then when we get a bit disappointed when it doesn't work out as we hoped. We'll see...........
Everything is going pretty well. But dunny ken what President Brown and/or the Lord were thinking when they called me as district leader and trainer.
I'll end by explaining what Key Indicators are. Basically they are "the numbers" that we collect as district leader. How many lessons taught each week, how many new investigators, etc. They give an overall idea of how the work in the area is going, what needs to be emphasized more, etc. If you want to know more, ask Joey (or Ryan, if he was during the PMG days), or read Preach My Gospel chapter eight.
Love you all! I sent you a fun letter today, hopefully it gets there soonish.
Sincerely yours,
Elder Spencer Burt

Photos:
Me with Billy Connelly before he moved... :(

Drawing of me, done by Poppy (six years old)

Michelin Man! (I need to eat less sweets and go running more or I'll look like him...)

Wee plaque on a house that said "Omah"!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

"I suddenly felt a tiny stinging in my finger...it gave me a good fright."

Well this week was fun, I got bit by a fish and got told to shove the Bible up my [bum]...sideways! We'll get to those later.
Tuesday I had my first district meeting. I didn't plan it that well, and there was not much participation, so it went by really fast. I decided to play some churchy games, because I feel like I'm sort of a robot district leader and our district doesn't talk much. So we played "PMG chase" where one person reads a random bit from Preach My Gospel and the first one to shout out what page number it's on got to go next. And also some Book of Mormon character hangman. It was fun. But tomorrow it's all business, no fun and games.
That day also I went on an exchange with Elder Lesuma, the zone leaders' trainee. He's really cool. From Utah but his mom is Fijian. Really nice and sincere and humble guy. While tracting we ran into two very very Christian old guys, who happened to live across the street from each other, who told us they disagree with us because of our view of the Godhead, and because we don't think that our Jesus can't save us. Interesting, because Elder Lesuma says he's gotten a ton of people saying stuff like that to him these first few weeks, but I've only had a few of those my whole mission. I guess the Lord is just trying him in different ways, preparing him for maybe some difficult things up ahead.
Overall things are good with Elder Winn and me. Still real quiet sometimes, but we have a good laugh occasionally and that makes the difference to me. I do want to get along with him well, so I can proudly say "I trained Dixon Winn" when he grows up to be a championship bull-rider. (Did I tell you he did that back home? Apparently he won a few thousand dollars in a competition just a few months ago.)
Awesome thing happened Tuesday, a girl we met self-committed herself to baptism, basically. I might have mentioned her last week, but this girl Melissa who lives across the street from the church seemed quite interested in the church and YSA, so we made an appointment to go teach her and invite her out to institute the next night. 
She forgot about it and so we had a brief chat on her porch, but it was awesome; she said she had put some serious thought into reading a bit of the Book of Mormon and some pamphlets we gave her, and she said she thinks she'll probably become a Mormon someday. We were amazed! She even said specifically, she thinks she'll come to church sometime and probably get baptised in the end. Pretty cool, especially since we hadn't even mentioned the word "baptism" to her before that. Unfortunately though she hasn't been home lately for us to actually follow up and teach her, but I'm sure we will. Lots of potential.
We started teaching another lady this week, named Julie. She fell off a ferris wheel when she was a kid, and she miraculously survived. Has to walk around with two canes now, but she seems really grateful to still be here. However she also didn't keep the second appointment we made with her...but then we chapped a few doors around hers and met a guy who let us in. So really, miracles are happening out here, we are finding a lot of people who are interested. Some trials of our faith keep happening of course though. We'll see how these people end up this week!
By the way, Jimmy got confirmed yesterday. Super spiritual being part of the circle. (Jon the Baptist confirmed him.)
So now the stories I mentioned at the beginning of the email. 
We were tracting a bit around our neighbourhood, and this guy told us to come in and check out his fish. He told us they were trained to take fish food out of your fingers gently. I felt like there was something "fishy" about it all, but I did it anyway to please him. Of course when I tried to feed them a bit of fish food, I suddenly felt a tiny stinging in my finger. Didn't actually hurt, but it gave me a good fright. I felt a bit stupid, but at the same time it gave him a good laugh so now we have basically a friendship, and he said we could come back another day and teach him. So it's for the best.
Then yesterday we stopped a guy on the street, he told us he knows a lot about our church...bad things. So I asked him what exactly he'd heard, and then he got a bit angry and asked why we stick our nose in other people's business so much...I told him I try not to but I'm sorry if someone of our church ever offended him. 
He got even angrier and told us we deserve every criticism in the world, and said, "Shove the bible up your [bum], SIDEWAYS!" So I said have a nice day and we walked away. He said the exact same thing again, followed by "[flip] off, leave me alone!" I had a good laugh once he was out of earshot. Stuff like that doesn't phase me, I just think it's funny. Makes for good stories to write home about.
Well anyway, that's our week. Scotland is great, ken?
Have a fantastic week of 26 August - 1 September, and hopefully your key indicators are continually improving.
Love,
Spencer Elder Burt

Photos: I took a few this week, but I left my camera cord at the flat. So here are these ones that President Brown emailed us. Enjoy.

7 August arrivals, formal 

7 August arrivals, goofy

Missionaries atop Pratt's Hill

All Scotland Conference with Elder Teixeira

Monday, August 19, 2013

"...I conducted my first baptismal interview..."

This week was pretty fun and adventurous.
Sorta. Coolest thing was I conducted my first baptismal interview, with one of the zone leaders' investigators. It was a good experience, we had a good discussion on the church overall and his testimony. He was baptised Sunday morning before church and confirmed in sacrament meeting.
Jimmy was supposed to get confirmed yesterday, but he and his girlfriend got head lice. Bishop told them they could still come just for the confirmation and then leave, but they wanted to stay home. 
This week was a bit frustrating with a lot of things falling through, like lessons and such. 
We met this fairly solid guy called Paul (he's now known as Paul #2). The Bingham sisters met him on the street and he lives in our ward. He is really open to learning what we teach, but we are not sure if he comprehends it all. A lot of just head nods and agreeing, and then when we ask a deeper question to check his retention he says he doesn't know. But he wanted to come to church....and then didn't show up. 
We did find a young lady with lots of potential. I might have mentioned before that our ward building is sort of the YSA (young single adult) headquarters for the stake. Each week an hour before institute we attend the YSA council meeting and talk about the missionary work in the stake, like which investigators are YSA and which YSA are coming out to teach with us. 
So on Wednesday, after the meeting and before institute started, we went across the street and invited this girl we met a few weeks ago to institute. She said she really wanted to, but couldn't that day, but she had read the material we gave her and parts of the Book of Mormon, and she felt really good about it. So we have an appointment tomorrow to go see her with a YSA returned missionary, and she says she'll go to institute the next day. We have high hopes.
That's probably the highlight as far as missionary work goes. Here's the update on being a leader. 
Another missionary in passing told me that a kid flipped him off, so he did it back...I was like, "Are you serious?" He said yeah, so I said don't do that. He said, "I dunno, it's whatever." I said "No, it's not whatever, don't do it ever again."
Overall I do love the work, hopefully this week is a bit better.
Thanks everybody, and I love yous bunches.
Elder Spencer Ashcraft Burt.
 
Sorry, I didn't take any photos this week...

Monday, August 12, 2013

"...when we work hard, people are put in our path."

Hello everybody!
So first off, this week was good because Jimmy got baptized! It was a great thing to witness. 
Jonathan, one of the YSA (young single adults) that Jimmy really looks up to, did the honors. I was one of the witnesses, gave a testimony and a prayer. 
I couldn't tell because I was sitting behind Jimmy, but all the speakers commented on how he was just smiling the whole time. It was a great experience, spirit was strong and stuff.
Training! It's a different experience than I expected. My trainee's name is Elder Dixon Winn, from Nephi Utah. Total cowboy. Went to college in Oklahoma on a rodeo scholarship. Worked on a ranch. Talks in a bit of an accent. He's almost 21, so sometimes he's a bit more mature than me. Already seems to know what he's doing, so a lot of the time I don't feel like I'm really training him. But more just acquainting him with the area. He'll probably be fit to train after I'm done training him. He's a lot more confident and stuff than I was my first few days.
So the beginning of this week was a lot of good-byes from Elder Meyer...he was really, really sad to leave the area. Everyone was sad to see him go. But they like Elder Winn a lot, a few of the YSA have been asking tons of questions about the cowboy lifestyle.
So we finally worked really hard these past few days. I've sort of missed tracting, which was something I avoided doing with Elder Meyer because he got really frustrated doing it. But we've found some good potential people to teach...nobody let us in but several of them made return appointments with us. 
I've found that when we work hard, people are put in our path. We either happen to talk to them, or they stop and talk to us, which has happened a few times this week and never the previous six weeks. 
We were having a real bummer day on Saturday for quite a while...we were tracting, trying to contact a bunch of former investigators, and nothing came of it. As we were walking away we stopped this guy to chat with him, turns out he was one of the guys we were looking for and he wants us to come by tomorrow. So little things like that made the work more rewarding.
It was fun going to Edinburgh and climbing up Arthur's Seat/Pratt's Hill again. Each time the new missionaries and trainers sing "High on the Mountain Top" while on the top of the hill. 
When I was there the first time there were few other people on top, and our group was in our casual clothes, and only 20 of us in total. But this time, we all wore our white shirts and ties, there were a ton of other people on the hill, and there were probably 50 missionaries! So when we sang, everyone was watching us, and they applauded when we were done. It was pretty cool. 
A few gung-ho elders went up to people up there and talked to them, not sure if anything  came from it but it would be cool if it did. 
I have been wanting to try "singing-finding" in the Dundee City Centre, with all the other missionaries together singing hymns, and see people's reactions, and if people come up and listen we can start a conversation with them. I think it would be really good, because music carries the spirit very strongly with it. It would be terrifying though, but still I think it would be a really cool experience. We'll see.
Not much else happened this week...the first few days of training I was a bit stressed out and the days dragged on and on...maybe it was because it brought me back to the days when I was being trained. Hopefully I get less stressed.
Oh one update; district leader-wise, the zone leaders are now a part of MY district, because they have a trainee so he needs to be part of a district. So now I am the zone leaders' district leader, and I will go on exchanges with them and gather their numbers at the end of the week and what not. It's kind of funny.
Welp, that's this week for yous, it was good hearing from all of you and I hope all is swell!
Love, Spencer

Photos: 
Me, Jimmy, Jonathan aka "Jon the Baptist" and Elder Winn

View of Dundee from the Tay Rail Bridge

Views of the River Tay from the bridge


Me and Elder Meyer

The McCormack family

Heather and Dode (super funny couple)