Monday, December 8, 2014

"See you on Friday!"

My companion thinks I’m weird for wanting to actually email, he says I should just say "I'm alive, see you Friday."
But some decent things happened last week that I guess I’ll tell you about, because when we talk on Friday I don't think the most recent events and status of investigators will be the top of conversation!
No baptisms yesterday. 
On Saturday I had the awful responsibility of telling a nice young Chinese man that he couldn't get baptised the next day (yesterday, Sunday) because he drank coffee on Wednesday. 
Apparently the rule of abstaining 100% from the five prohibited things got lost in translation when he was taught. Kinda sad. But he's on for next week.
Shaz decided she wanted to get baptised on Sunday, and we were making the preparations and stuff. 
She and Nicky got married on Friday night and it was great! 
Saturday was supposed to be her interview...but a bunch of things happened that prevented her from making it to that. 
I was on temporary exchange with one of the zone leaders, cause he was gonna give the interview and his companion and mine went to an appointment they had to go to. 
When she texted that she couldn't make it, we knelt and prayed, and both felt it would be best to just call her and give her the options. 
I explained to her that to get baptised the next day (this was Saturday still) we'd have to squeeze in the interview AND one more lesson either before or after Church, and it may be a bit stressful. 
She was a bit unsure...then SHE said she would pray to ask what to do! 
By the end of the night, she still didn't know. 
I told her that my experience has told me that if I'm unsure after praying, then the answer is sometimes "wait." or "not now." 
I had the feeling that it would be better for her long-term to wait a week or two. 
In the morning she still was unsure, so she said she'd leave it for another week so it wouldn't be a stressful experience. I honestly think that's for the best. 
Sure, I didn't get to actually baptise her which was a bit of a bummer, but I will be so happy when she posts her baptism pictures on facebook after I get home! :)
The Mormon Missionary Christmas Choir Concert was on Friday. It was great. 
They did it last year too--basically the musically talented of the mission travel around all of Scotland and perform in the stake centers. Mostly singing, but a few instrumental things like piano and violin. There was a great Christmas spirit there.
We also went to Sam's church again, a born-again type, for a Christmas carol service. It was quite nice as well. 
Welllll that's all I can think of now. See you on Friday!
Elder Spencer Ashcraft Burt

Photo: The Richards family

Monday, December 1, 2014

" just to receive a do something that would naturally be illogical and uncomfortable."

dec 1
Hello family!
Well, with having only 1.5 week left till I go to Edinburgh and fly home, and after reading all your emails about what goes on at home, I can hardly think of what has happened in mission life this week. But I will try and recall.
Sad news is that the seven baptisms that were meant to happen next Sunday have been postponed for the most part.
One of them is for sure happening, the Chinese guy named Xu.
However, Nicky (our guy) hasn't been to church enough times to be baptised yet. Kayleigh is a bit unsure.
Shaz wants to for sure, but now she has to decide if she wants to get it done this week or wait and get baptised the same day as Nicky, her future husband (the marriage is still on though, and they are excited! That's good news.)
The rest of the Chinese missionaries' investigators have postponed for various reasons. So now there will only be one or two. Oh well, I am still confident that they will get dunked when the time is right.
The past week was filled with zone interviews and training almost all day on Friday, visiting our three people (Nicky Shaz Kayleigh) every other day or so, District Leader Council, weekly planning, exchange with Elder Housley, where we did some "City Centre finding" (street contacting) and some tracting.
Oh yeah, there was an interesting thing that happened!...
We were tracting near an "AUF" (basically a "lost sheep" that the church HQ found and told us to try and contact, and then knock doors on their street.)
Everyone seemed old and uninterested. One guy was really nice, and talked to us for a while, but was a content Catholic.
He told us that his wife died fairly recently. We left his doorstep after a while, and after we knocked the second door I sort of felt urged to go back...when he was talking about his wife dying I had a thought to tell him that he can be sealed to his wife for time and all eternity.
I was with Elder Housley, and I turned to him after the next door and said, "Hey, you know those Ensign-type stories where the missionaries go back and testify to someone after being turned down?" He was like, "Not really...but do you want to?" So I told him I felt the need to go back.
The guy answered, seemed happy to see us, and I said basically "Sorry for disturbing you again, but I felt the need to come back and tell you that you and your wife can be sealed for time and all eternity..."
His response was basically that he believes he can be with her forever through his church, so I left it at that.
He was happy and thankful that we came back though, he appreciated it.
I don't think I really expected to have a miraculous conversion after telling him this, but I just felt the need to do it.
So it was kind of cool just to receive a prompting, maybe from the Spirit, to do something that would naturally be illogical and uncomfortable.
We also had a Thanksgiving dinner at the church--Elder and Sister Browning organized it. It was great!
All the Glasgow missionaries were there, along with a few American members, mostly students, and even some non-American students who just wanted to come. It was nice.
There were two baptisms in our ward on Sunday--one Chinese girl and one 20 year old guy that the sister missionaries found and taught.
Pretty great experience in itself--but then I remembered that the day before was CeCe's baptism, and I am pretty sure Traci's baptism was exactly one year ago yesterday.
It was a good week. Glad I’m going home soon, but glad I’m still here.
Love you all, see you sooner than I can believe!
Elder Spencer Burt

Photo: This guy, Elder Gomez Castillo, has been following me around my whole mission, and every time I see him he makes me so happy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

"...I cannae wait to go to the temple again."

So good news, our friends are all on their way to baptism, December 7th. They have stopped smoking--they have only had two or three cigarettes each since last Monday.
Nicky and Shaz (that's what she goes by) are getting married on the 5th, just a quick official one and they will have a big celebration wedding later on when they have the money and get all prepared. Although the more they talk about it, they might have a little party anyway cause their family all seems really excited!
They are just so great, all three of them.
In addition to them, can you pray for all of the people that the missionaries in the ward and district are preparing for baptism:
November 30:
Lizzy (Chinatown 1)
Michael (Knightswood Sisters)
Nicky and Shaz/Sharon
Xu (pronounced "shu") aka "Will" (Chinatown 1)
Iris (Chinatown 1)
Amir and Sally (Chinatown 2)
Seven baptisms on the 7th! And our ward mission leader was baptised on 07/07/07 at he has a good feeling that they will all happen as planned!
Other than focusing on those three people, not much else has happened that seems significant.
I went on exchange in Chinatown, which is always fun. They do a lot of street contacting at the university which I enjoy.
We helped Nicky and Shaz get the papers filled out and turned in for their wedding.
They are getting married by the bishop at the church, but they needed to get a marriage license or something. But it's all done, we just have to wait till the 5th. And keep teaching them as well!
Nicky asked us if we had to wear special underwear, cause his mom told him that. So we showed him the new video on the Church website about Garments. It was perfect.
Led to us talking a bit about temples, and we showed them the pictures of the Preston and London temples. Cool.
BTW, I cannae wait to go to the temple again.
We visited a few members, helped some clean the church, played football, taught our group of Christians (Sam, Jennie, Ali) and tried to resolve some of Sam's concerns about the Book of why it is written in King James Language when that's not how they spoke in the 1800's...why some phrases are identical to the New Testament, even thought the New Testament hadn't been written yet...etc.
We just need to bring Jim, the ex-Catholic school teacher who has an awesome conversion story. But we just can't seem to align all three of our schedules yet! But we will.
As usual, the members, investigators, converts, missionaries, etc. are all pretty great here in the Glasgow Ward. I am enjoying my time with them. It feels good when they are sad that I am leaving.
Well I love you all...excited to see you...hopefully I don't miss being on a mission too much when I get home.
But it will be great to see you all and share stories and catch up on life and go places...and it will be great to just be alone sometimes! haha.
Elder Zander and I are getting along pretty well though, don't worry. Lots of laughs, but it can be exhausting.
Have a great week!
Elder Spencer Burt

Photos: Nicky, Shaz, and the nice cake they made us! :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

"I love the missionaries...the members...and even the often grumpy and uninterested Scots..."

Hey everybody!
So, this week has been flipping remember our investigators? Well they are set to be baptised on December 7th!
There are some hurdles to clear for them, such as word of wisdom and gaining a stronger testimony, but they really want to.
And in our lesson they invited their friend to join us, and she loved it. She committed to get baptised the same day!
And they all came to church on Sunday. It was the primary they just loved it of course!
And you know what's even crazier? The week before that (Nov. 30) there are two other baptisms from other missionaries in our from the Chinese elders, and one from the sisters. Then on Dec. 7th, there are FOUR other people! Three Chinese and one Iranian! Amazing.
We didn't plan it out that way, but it just so happened. If it all goes through, it will be great...SEVEN people being baptised on the same day!
Please, please, please pray for them, ESPECIALLY our people (Nicky and Sharon, and their friend Kayleigh)
I want to be confident and sure that they will get baptised on that day, but I worry a lot and I sometimes assume that something will go wrong.
But I so badly want it to all go right!!! It would be an amazing way to finish the mish.
In other news, I went on exchange with Elder Yip, the lovely wee elder from Hong Kong. He's so funny and nice and sincere.
Our Christian investigators are kinda dropping off...not really, but we feel we're a bit at the end of what we can do to help them.
We taught Sam and his wife and his friend about how the Book of Mormon and the Bible go hand in hand and support each other.
He was the end I testified: "I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I know that you can know it too."
His response, "Well, I don't want to sound contentious, but...I know it's not true, and I know that you can know it too."
Flip! Preach My Gospel tells us all the time to testify often...but it never told me that they would just testify right back! Oh well.
This week he said he'll share his concerns as to why he thinks it's not, cause we ran out of time last time. We'll bring a super solid convert who used to teach in a Catholic school when he joined the church 30 years ago, Jim Loftus. He's our only hope I feel.
Other than that, just good ol missionary work.
I love the missionaries in my district, the members in the ward, and even the often grumpy and uninterested Scots we see everyday.
Gonna be weird to leave it all. But I am eager to return. Glad I'm still here though.
Love you all!
Elder Spencer Burt

FOOTBALL (a few weeks old)

Monday, November 10, 2014

"We told him the address and time, and he came! He loved it and wants to come back every week."

Hello family and friends and associates,
Last week was kind of a bummer as far as missionary work for the most part. 
Appointments kept falling through, I had to take some time to look at USU classes, I had to meet with the zone leaders to discuss some challenges and issues in our district, and etc. Just a weird week. But a few cool things:
On Wednesday night, a new member (about six  months) named Pierre invited us all over for a surprise farewell party for one of the sister missionaries that is moving to a new area. 
She had been here since just after his baptism, and had helped him out a lot during his process so he threw her a little surprise party to thank her. It also happened to be Guy Fawkes Night (5th of November), and here there are lots of fireworks lit off to celebrate. 
His flat, in one of those high-rise towers that are so abundant here, overlooked a big firework display that the city put on. It was a fun night, with a few other members and a few other missionaries. 
Next--____ and ____! 
We have been teaching them about two weeks, and they want to be baptized! They accepted a date of December 7th--just before I go home. The only problem is that they need to get married and stop smoking by then. But perhaps they will! 
I am kinda on the fence but I may even tell them straight up that I want to be there when they are baptized, so they should TRY to get ready by then. If not, oh well. I think they'll still be baptised even if it's not in my time. 
They are great though, non-Christian background but they love everything we teach. Lots of deep questions, like where did God come from, and stuff like that. 
They are very solid. Almost came to church, but she always has to look after her ill grandma and she wasn't able to get someone to care for her while she went to church. 
But they really want to, and I think they'll be pleasantly surprised...when we told them that they'd meet the Bishop they were amazed! "You want us to meet the BISHOP? Oh I'm kind of nervous..." But then we explained that our bishops aren't typical bishops. 
They're gonna love the way our church services are, I just know it. 
I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday and for once felt good about it. I made some good jokes that worked well with the crowd, had some good stuff to talk about, and delivered it well. I was asked to talk on "Why I served a mission". It was fun, but it's weird that it's coming to an end soon.
Miracle story: 
We were tracting, and as we knocked this one door, the man who lived there walked up, asked who we were a bit suspiciously, but then when we told him he told us he was baptised in the Mormon church in Dundee about 15 years ago as a teenager. 
He let us in and we got to know him, gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon to start reading again, and he asked us where the church is in Glasgow. 
We told him the address and time, and he came! 
He loved it and wants to come back every week. 
Elder Zander was prompted to lead us to that area to tract. It was a cool experience and a miracle!
Another Chinese lady was baptized yesterday. It was a good experience. 
However, I would love to get a Scot baptised before I go--the ward here hasn't seen much success with native Glaswegians in the past few years. We'll see!
Until next week,
Elder Spencer Ashcraft Burt

Me wearing Pierre's Scotland onesie and Guy Fawkes mask.

5th of November fireworks.

The group of us at Pierre's. Great people.

My strange companion.

A high-flat being demolished.

Monday, November 3, 2014

"I like finding lost sheep...Almost as good as finding someone that gets baptized."

Hey everybody.
Email time is a bit short cause the library computers have been freezing up on me and stuff. So here's a quick rundown of last week!
Monday we played BUBBLE FOOTBALL. It was the funnest thing in the world. Seriously. I'll attach some photos or videos if I can.
Basically you play soccer while inside these bubble things, and everyone just forgets about the ball and hits each other. And you can get rocked super hard and feel no pain! It's so cool.
The guys that run it said they have a facebook page, so google it or something and  maybe you'll see how it works. Awesome.
We started teaching a guy named Ben. He's the brother of Jennie, who is the wife of Sam, who is the friend of Ali, whom we originally started teaching a couple months ago. Cool how young people bring their friends along and you end up meeting lots.
We taught him in a member named Darren's house. They're both from N. Ireland, I think that's why Darren was excited and offered up his home for us to teach him.
It went ok, he's a bit skeptical on the Book of Mormon because he was raised with the Bible. But anyone can change!
Sam and Jennie actually came to church yesterday, and it was really good! Lots of good testimonies, a confirmation done in Chinese, and yeah I felt the spirit quite strong, which I don't always at sacrament meeting. So I hope they felt it too.
It was hard to tell if they are just curious as to how we worship, or sincerely wanting to find out if it's the path for them, or if they are just returning the favour of us going to their church a few weeks ago. We'll talk more with them at our lesson this week.
We helped a member's friend move, and the sisters were in the car with her (non-member) and they asked if she'd like missionaries to come over, and she said yes!
Once she is all moved in. Score! She lives in the other ward, so we won't teach her, but the other sisters in Glasgow's other ward (Springboig Ward) will teach her.
Thursday, in fact every Thursday recently if I haven't mentioned, is "Reach-out night" in the ward. A great idea the bishop had, where we and whatever members want to meet up at the church and go visit less-active or others who are struggling in some way or another.
It's a really good thing.
Sometimes the numbers are off and there are more missionary companionships that turn up than members, but it's a good program.
We found a less-active lady while tracting, which was fun. I love when that happens.
It goes like: "Hello, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ--" "Oh, I already know...I'm a Mormon." "Really? That's great!" "Yeah...I haven't been to church in a while. But I probably should."
And then she said we could come back later, and we agreed to have the sisters go by instead just cause she lives alone and that makes it easier.
I like finding lost sheep. It's especially cool when they actually come to church because of it. Almost as good as finding someone that gets baptized.
Friday we had to stay inside from 6 pm onwards.
But we saw some kids and adults going around in costumes throughout the day, and even on Saturday. They celebrate it here, but not as big as in America.
Saturday we played football with the stake.
Then after a quick lunch and shower we went to the City Centre and did a little family history activity, where we asked people to take a short survey on their opinions on family and religion.
It's something the family history missionary couple asked us to to; and apparently it's an actual survey that some BYU group is doing, so I guess we're helping with a research project with an ulterior motive to make the people we meet feel the spirit of Elijah and get baptized.
It didn't work...yet. Met some nice people though.
We might do Saturday City Centre finding regularly, with a table and literature and such. It's fun.
We received a referral from some missionaries in Massachusetts...they called us and apparently had been teaching a Pakistani in Glasgow over facebook. And he almost came to church, but something came up and he'll come next week. We've talked to him on the phone but haven't met him yet. Kind of a cool thing though.
Oh and also we visited a Freemason temple just for fun. We noticed it a couple weeks ago, and thought, "Hey why not!"
So we went in, asked the friendly guy who was there a few questions, and yeah. It was interesting.
Funnily enough, I didn't feel the spirit leave as soon as we entered, which I don't know why but I kind of expected it to from what I heard from that anti-Freemason guy named Colin.
However I do feel it leave when we walk past his door--in fact I felt that way when we first went there but I ignored it and knocked on his door anyway. Quite interesting. Still learning how to recognize and follow the promptings, even though it's been almost 14 years.
And last but not least Elder Zander and I are staying together for my last transfer. Enduring to the end at this point.
Love you all!

Mason temple

...don't ask.

Me and Elder Dewsbery at Saturday morning football.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"...we could dress up, as long as we were still tell me if this fits..."

So I was practically a "Chinatown" elder this week.
I went on two exchanges with the Mandarin speaking elders in the district this week. It was fun. They still do a lot of teaching and talking to people in English, but sometimes it's just pure Chinese.
One time we were teaching an investigator (well, I wasn't teaching, I was just observing because I don't speak Chinese.) at a member's house.
They both had their wives and kids there too, four kids under the age of five. And it was just crazy! Little kids running around, yelling in Chinese, while the other elder tried to teach the investigator in Chinese, and they fed us some...interesting food, and it was just fun.
It's like being in a totally different mission, except for one Scottish investigator that one companionship teaches.
I got to be there for a lesson with him, and it was great. The spirit was very strong. And I usually don't say that about lessons.
This lesson the spirit was very very strong, I could feel it almost the whole time we taught him. Probably because we really just asked him questions, and helped him to find an answer.
He's atheist, but sooo open to our teachings, and he loves the Church and said he would LOVE to get an answer telling him it's true!
And he prayed out loud and you would've thought he was an active member. So I think he'll come around. His name is Thomas btw.
There was a Halloween party on Saturday, combined with the other ward who meets in our building. It was a lot of fun.
At first we were told to not dress up, then the day of the party we were informed that we could dress up, as long as we were still dignified and recognized as missionaries. So you tell me if this fits (photos attached). I'm a monkey missionary.
Our Christian investigators Sam and Jennie came along, and they seemed to have a good time.
It was their first time in the church building...I wish we'd been able to show them around the church to see the paintings and chapel and classrooms and baptismal font and such...but it was a bit hectic and exciting. It was a good time.
On Halloween night we have to stay inside from 6-9pm, and do weekly planning. Fun!
Maybe we'll knock on doors on Thursday or maybe Friday during the day, and say "Trick or Treat!...just kidding." and then teach people and baptize them. Maybe call it "Trick or Tracting"
So that's all the exciting things that happened last week...doesn't seem all that eventful. But it was a fun week, nice to see a new area, new people, and have a change of companions.
I love you all and have a fantastic week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elder Burt

Wizard duel with Sister Cannon last p-day, at Glasgow/Hogwarts University

Halloween. Me and Elder Zander

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Then we went to Sam's church!...It was fun, and kind of spiritual."

Dear Family,
It's been a good week.
Started off with watching General Conference for district meeting, since none of us saw the final session. It was good.
Then I exchanged with Elder Yip, from Hong Kong. We were in his area, Glasgow Chinatown.
It was a fun experience--we go to the City Centre or near the university and street contact only Asians!
We start in English, and if they seem confused or their English is broken, we ask where they're from and if they say China then Elder Yip will just start speaking Mandarin. It's great fun.
Sometimes we get people who look Chinese but they have a Scottish accent because they were born here.
It was a fun experience, pretty much walking down the street, getting an Asian family in our sights and making a beeline to them.
Later in the week we got thrown out of an investigator's house--the first time on my mission!
It was a bad one though--the lesson was with a homosexual lady to whom I had already explained the Church's stance on the matter...although she didn't like it the first time she accepted that that's the way it is and that we still loved everyone.
But we had a member with us, who started arguing back with her this time...telling her she was too stubborn to see the truth, and about 30 minutes later of this he started making personal attacks against her and gays in general.
So she said to him "I'm gonna have to ask you to leave." SO although she wasn't mad at us, we had to leave too because he was our joint teach.
We went back a couple days later and apologized, especially because she was moving the next day to England to live with her partner and we didn't want her leaving with a bad taste of the Church. She was kind about it, but she said straight out that she did not like the guy we brought with us.
She accepted that our beliefs are what they are, but we all agreed that our member didn't handle it in a very loving way.
We also had a three hour lesson with a guy who I mentioned last week. (He is CRAZY) part Jehovah's Witness, part Buddhist, part Hindu, or so it seems.
This was our second lesson with him...and it wasn't a lesson.
It was just him rambling (and sometimes yelling) about how Joseph Smith was a Freemason and we cannae trust him and how some church leaders are even questioning his integrity and how the Book of Mormon was changed and how the Joseph Smith story was changed in 1960 and how Masons worship Satan and how he used to be a Mason and he left it cause it was evil and his super rich and powerful family disowned him because he left it and our temples are just like Masonic temples and the Salt Lake temple is white just like all Freemason temples are white and how Jeffrey R Holland is a Freemason and he's met him and he's a Freemason and Freemasons use the King James Version of the bible and the Freemasons go two by two and can't be alone with another person just like our companionship and Joseph Smith is a liar and how I just convinced myself that I received a witness that it's all true and yeah it was just a CRAZY stressful 3 hours.
We couldn't escape.
The next day he called us to tell how he had no money or food or electricity and asked if we could help him.
So we told him to come to church and ask the bishop and he yelled at me saying, "Do you understand how humiliating that is?!" and when we told him that that's just the way it works he hung up on us, and then phoned back 10 minutes later and said to never come to his door again.
We tracted a bunch in some high-rise apartment buildings (high-flats) throughout our area...found some cool people.
We played football on Saturday and it was fun.
I finally scored after blowing like three chances by panicking and trying to one-time a shot on goal rather than control it first. Hoping to get into intramurals at USU.
After church on Sunday we stayed after to see the baptism of a super nice Thai couple. It was great. Then we went to Sam's church! He's the Christian that we teach, who is very active in his church and in a Christian student ministry group. It was fun, and kind of spiritual.
It was like being at a Christian Rock concert, which was awesome. The sermon was kinda boring though.
Lots of really nice people though--a few weird looks when we came in our suits and ties and everyone else just wore casual clothes. Not sure if they were thinking "What are the Mormon missionaries doing here?" or "Those guys must have thought this was a fancy dressed church or something"
I dunno but it was a good experience. Not really any false doctrine that was taught, just not the fulness. Oh well! Now Sam hopefully feels obligated to come to ours. :)
Well that's my week. It was a good one. Thank you all for everything. Love yous!
Elder Spencer Burt, District Leader.

Elder Gibson's kebabtism at the Chinatown four-man flat.

Mom, I have met Elder Penman a couple times and here's a photo of me and him at the bus station on moves day. He's being trained by zone leaders!

Monday, October 13, 2014

"...I interviewed a lovely couple from Thailand for baptism."

Dearest family,
Isn't it just cool that I'm in Scotland right now?
Sometimes I just get so used to it that I forget how cool it is. Listening to Scottish folk music helps me to appreciate it.
So last week was full and exciting.
Tuesday we had Zone Development--mentioned before, but basically a super-p-day with the entire zone. Sports, food, games, socializing, etc.
This time, they surprised us by telling us to meet at Glasgow Green, a big park here, and when we arrived we were surprised to see the Paisley Zone there too!
They organized a HUGE capture the flag game, zone vs. zone, and a yoga-football (playing soccer with a big exercise ball) game, and it was crazy fun.
Then we had food and a few other little games back at the church. It was fun to be with all the zone.
Then the next day was a zone CONFERENCE! It was very uplifting and gave me a good boost to work real hard these last couple months. The next day I went on exchange with the zone leaders. So much zone stuff this week!
The exchange helped me a lot with giving it my best...sometimes it's easy to think that just because we're out walking to a destination or whatever that we are being good hard workers...but I was reminded and learned by example that I need to talk to EVERYONE!
Sure, it makes it so the trip back home for lunch takes two hours instead of 30 minutes, but we had a lot of good conversations and planted some Books of Mormons and such. Nothing has come of it YET but it just felt good and satisfying by the end of the day.
Also we found a hive of American university students near the church.
There's a student accommodation place where tons of study abroad students live while going to Glasgow University.
We actually gave Books of Mormon to two of them, from New Jersey. It's weird to hear the american accent from a non-missionary.
I also exchanged with Elder Gibson, the new Chinese-speaking missionary in our district. He's real good--21 years old, decided to serve a mission right before he was about to apply to medical school! He sacrificed a lot, especially when he says his friends were mostly home when he left. It shows how dedicated he is, and you can see it too.
Saturday we went to football and had a good time. Sunday we went to church.
We found two new people to teach, one black guy from Guyana named Prince. He said he would never leave his church, but of course we wouldn't expect him to until he's had a taste of something different.
Also a guy named Colin. We knocked on his door, he asked who it was, we told him, he opened up and said "Come in!" He is very spiritual, he's seen a vision of a wolf talking to him when he was doing a 40 day fast with nothing but water, and the wolf talked to him.
He has tons of books in his flat--the Torah, different translations of the Bible, Hinduism and Buddhism books, "Sutras", magic books, and tons of others.
He'd heard a bit of the story of the Book of Mormon, and we cleared up a bit and he said he'd like to give reading it a shot. He understood the importance of praying to know if it's true as well, so he committed to do it. And he even asked us to pray for him to get an answer when we said the closing prayer.
He seems a bit skeptical on the Joseph Smith story though, so it may be a bit harder to get an answer contrary to what he already believes...but it's possible of course! It just requires "faith in Christ, with real intent."
Oh and yesterday I interviewed a lovely couple from Thailand for baptism. They are so great!
They love talking about how the church is like a big family, and in a prayer, the husband even thanked God for letting him be part of "the Mormon family, and learn the scripture." They are so humble and great.
Too bad many Scots are already hardened against all religion or else dead set in their own. Oh well, just gotta find the few who ARE ready for it!
Love you all and I shall talk to you next Monday.
Elder Burt

Today we visited the Glasgow City Chambers as a district. Pretty cool.

Monday, October 6, 2014

" many missionaries love the words "apostasy/apostate" and "rebuke." I don't really think it's that cool..."

So on a mission, General Conference is pretty much the highlight.
Practically the whole zone comes together, we listen to the spiritual giants that we all look up to, and it's just great.
Unfortunately none of our investigators or even less-active members came to the church, but some committed to watch it on their own online. It's a great opportunity for the brethren (and sisters too) to teach our investigators for us!
Honestly not much else eventful happened this week other than meeting Ben, the brother of Jennie, the wife of Sam, the friend of Ali.
He joined in on the last minute of our discussion in the university cafeteria, where we teach them. He actually said the closing prayer, and it was awesome!
The first 10-15 seconds he just talked to God about how great it was to be able to pray. He said "We are so thankful that we can communicate with you, and we should never cease to be amazed that that is an option." I felt the spirit pretty strongly.
They'd be great additions to the ward here. If they would just get a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith!!!!
After our lesson I had a vision, or probably just an imagination, of Ali, Sam, and Ben all sitting on the stand as a bishopric of the Glasgow Ward. How cool would that be?
Ok so since not much else happened let me talk about what I liked from conference!
I suppose it was good that David, a guy who recently returned to church activity, and who we've been visiting, came to two sessions and liked it a lot.
So the first session, the Saturday Morning or 5pm in Scotland, was very good.
All the missionaries seemed to love when one speaker said that trying to lower God's standards to fit the world's "is apostasy."
It's weird how so many missionaries love the words "apostasy/apostate" and "rebuke." I don't really think it's that cool but hey whatever.
We were really excited when Chi Hong Wong from Hong Kong spoke in Cantonese! Especially because Elder Yip, who is just two months out, is from there and speaks Cantonese.
It was disappointing when they just dubbed an English translation over his voice instead of doing subtitles! IT would have been cool to hear it all in his language.
And the Spanish guy too...You could say this was a momentous conference, the first time they address us in non-English!
In the priesthood session they had a missionary choir from the MTC.
I scanned for anyone I know, but no luck. Except for a guy from Airdrie (In the Glasgow stake!) who was the soloist for "Ye Elders of Israel!" I never met him, but he spoke at stake conference the week before he left for the MTC.
The missionaries and members from his ward were super excited to see him front and centre.
Apparently he's a big deal; he was a main character in the British Pageant last year, and he went to Nauvoo to perform in that pageant as well. He's probably the next famous Mormon or something.
I found it very interesting how Elder Anderson (I think) said to record ourselves reading the Testimony of Joseph Smith, and listen to it. If I remember, he said that it would help us to receive a witness of his calling, and of the Book of Mormon. I suppose it could help to strengthen it for those of us who already know, or to re-affirm for those who may doubt. I might give it a shot...why not?
There were a few talks on helping to poor and needy, but also it seemed to be a lot about self-responsibility and such.
Jeffrey R. Holland's was really good, talking about how we need to help the poor and such...but toward the end he said how he still believes in responsibility and such, and seemed like he said something negative about panhandling.
So now I'm not sure--do we give to beggars or not??? Either way, it was a very good talk about helping others. I just kind of got mixed messages from it.
Well that is it for this week. We have zone conference this week, but next week for district meeting we're gonna watch the last session of conference, the Sunday afternoon session or in Scotland, 9-11pm.
I think we can all get more out of listening to that and seeking revelation for our work, investigators and proselyting areas than we could from me conducting a district meeting. It will be great!
Well I love you all and I hope you all have a great week.
Love, Elder Burt

Monday, September 29, 2014

"I have never taught so simply in my life...I love the gospel basics."

Dear Family,
So it's been an interesting week.
As usual moves week was a bit different; A fair bit of time spent with Elder Schmidt packing, a bit of saying goodbye to members, and ya know all sorts of new experiences.
Wednesday was fun; Elder Schmidt had to leave at 8:30 to head off to Ireland, and Elder Zander came from Ireland, so I was with a few other missionaries in the same situation for several hours, just kickin it around Glasgow! It was fun.
We visited the Glasgow Cathedral which was HUGE, we went to "the lighthouse" where there is a tower in the middle of the City Centre where we could see all around, and we walked around shops and such.
As far as our current investigators, or as some missionaries like to refer to them as "friends," we had a few good lessons with them but no huge changes.
We have a few new people we're teaching: two 30-something year old friends named Adel and Bobby, both from Africa. They have separate houses but they hang out together all the time.
Adel speaks VERY VERY limited English. I have never taught so simply in my life, and it actually felt really good. I love the gospel basics. Elder Zander didn't talk much during the lesson...he says he gets frustrated.
So I basically just taught Adel about who God is, who Jesus Christ is, what a prophet is, and that the Book of Mormon was translated by a prophet and how it helps us to understand and know Christ. It was fun.
Honestly that's the only memorable thing that happened. Can't really think of anything significant to tell you! It's been a stressful past few days. But I'm doing ok.
Welllll I love you all and I will write to you again next week!
Elder Burt

Big spiral stair case we had to climb to get to the top of the tower.

Me and Elder Dewsbery on top of the tower. Fun having him in the same zone!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

" would have been so cool to have been here when it happened; when Scotland became an independent country."

SEPTEMBER 22, 2014
Hi everybody!
So the news is in, and I am staying here and Elder Schmidt is moving to Dublin. My new companion will be Elder Zander, also from Germany! I have heard they are very different from each other. So it will be a good balance I think. I'm excited.
Oh and I'm district leader. Not too psyched about that, I was happy to stay as senior companion or even junior, but hey I guess I'm needed in that position!
Ok so we had an interesting and highly varied week.
The first interesting thing was we got a call from the mission office saying we had a referral, and we already had an appointment with him. Whatever elders met him scheduled an appointment with him for us, which was probably not very smart in case we had something else to do, but luckily we were free.
So we went. And he wasn't there. But we decided, maybe there's another reason why we received this referral. Like someone else who was ready for us.
So we knocked the rest of his street, and the street next to it. We were about finished for the night, and right before we went home Elder Schmidt reminded me that we needed to follow up at a house where a teenage girl said that her mom was on the phone but that we could try later. So we did, and the mom was very receptive!
We didn't go in, seeing that it was a bit late and there was no man. But we set up a return appointment for two days later, and she seemed excited to meet with us. But then she called us the morning of the appointment, and said she had read our pamphlet we left and she felt happy with  her own beliefs.
It was frustrating; I honestly felt like she was ready, and felt the spirit!
Yeah, I've had many many appointments fall through or cancel or completely dropped by investigators, but for some reason I was really gutted (disappointed) when she cancelled.
Maybe we'll follow up in a few weeks or somethin.
We taught Ali and Sam, the Christian young adult guys, and when we met up at the university to teach, Sam's newly wedded wife Jennie was there as well. She was going to go somewhere else so we could have our lesson, but we invited her to stay and listen, and she was very happy to!
We taught the Plan of Salvation, and I was honestly surprised at how legitimately interested they seem.
They asked questions about it that sound like they really do want to know, not questions that will catch us saying something wrong, as I often have had and expect to have when I teach some active born-again Christians.
Sam has read up to 1 Nephi 8 already, and says he wants to keep reading. If they simply receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, they would be SUCH great members.
We taught a lady who is a lesbian. It was a bit awkward at first, because she started asking about the church's stance on homosexuality right at the start.
We told her, in a very kind way I felt, and it was a bit uncomfortable. I think we all felt uncomfortable at least for a good portion of it, but by the end she was very happy and thankful that we came, and said she felt uplifted and looked forward to our next appointment.
She called the next day to say that she has never felt so drawn to a specific church like she does to ours; that she admires and loves the way we do everything, how we just tell people what we believe and don't ask anything of them, and just praised how great we and the Church were for about 30 minutes.
She was set to come to church, and then something happened and she didn't come. We've been in contact with her for quite a while now, and she's been sorta up and down like this before.
So yeah it was a good week with I suppose a lot of high expectations and excitement, but sometimes the enthusiasm crashed and burned a wee bit when it came down to the wire.
Oh well, next time. Things are still going very well and I'm excited to stay and to have a new companion to work with.
Oh and the referendum.
As you probably know, it was a "No" vote. (The ballot was simply: "Should Scotland be an independent country?")
It was exciting to be a part of it leading up to the vote, and everyone talked about it and there were big and small "Yes" and "No thanks" signs and stickers everywhere, but I was honestly quite sad when we found out that 55% voted to stay in the UK.
Yeah, it's probably safer this way, and there is less risk of people losing their money or the government or economy crashing on its own or things like that...but it would have been so cool to have been here when it happened; when Scotland became an independent country. But now it's just like, well, I was here when nothing changed. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Well, that's all folks. Looking forward to this week.
Thanks for all the support everybody. Only three more months, but I've been telling myself that I'm "always in the middle" (Uchtdorf) And I even wrote it on the front of my planner, where I usually write what number of transfer I'm on. And it's helped; I honestly don't feel too trunky most of the time! Till the work is done.
Love yous!
Elder Burt

Scottish sunset

George Square in Glasgow, on Thursday night as the votes were being counted. Tons of "Yes" supporters flying the Scotland flag and having a fun time.

A "Yes" sticker on a bus window. These were everywhere the past month or so.

Monday, September 22, 2014

"...whether or not Scotland will become independent! Exciting to be here at this exciting time."

SEPTEMBER 15, 2014
Hi all!
So we had a good week.
We started teaching two new people: A nice lady who might have some sort of mental disability, but not severe. She wants to serve a mission, but mostly to go to an exciting place and meet new people.
When we told her that we don't choose where to go, and that we pay our own way, and that she'd have to be in the church for one year before going, she didn't seem as eager.
But she is nice, and could really use the help of the relief society because she lives a bit of a sad lonely life it seems.
Thinking it might be better to give her to the sisters, because when we showed up for our appointment with her, and we had a member with us, she didn't let us in and we just taught on the doorstep.
I think she was scared of inviting three grown men into her small flat with her all alone. She's promising though.
The other is an alcoholic. When we came over for our appointment at 10:30 am he was already drunk, had been drinking since 2:00 am. Troubled past. But maybe the gospel will offer a better future.
We still teach our other investigators but not much progress.
The two YSA age guys from last week...they seem set in their ways but they are open to keep meeting with us.
One of them read 1 Nephi, Chapter 1, but he said he didn't feel like praying specifically to know if it's true; but just prayed to be led to the truth.
I was just thinking..."Well, He led you to us, so there you go!" They're the type of guys who the only thing that will convert them is the spirit, and the testimonies of fellow converts.
We had a fantastic stake conference with Elder Jose Reina, from Spain. He is amazing! So happy, and funny, and when he talked into the microphone it was super loud because he's just so enthusiastic.
He gave us some great advice on sharing the gospel:
If you only have 30 seconds, the most important things to share are:
1) We are Christians; we believe in Christ, we love Christ.
2) His true church has been restored!
3) Being a member of the church makes us happy!
And the most important thing is to always smile, because life is great, and life with the gospel is even greater. He was just so happy the whole time he talked. A genuine, hilarious, and humble guy.
We had some weird experiences with weird guys.
One super drunk guy around 8:00 pm one night was peeing in the corner of the bus stop when we got there.
Then he came and talked to us, asked about three times where we were headed, and yelled about how great Celtic (football club) are.
The other guy was on the bus, and he was just talking to himself the whole time. He was hilarious.
At first I thought he was talking to me, because as soon as I took my seat in front of him he said "Have you been to Norway?"
I turned around and he was looking at me, so I said no. Then he carried on rambling on about various topics from penguins to Brazil to cricket to football and even ended up talking to himself about Jesus.
Fun times in Glasgow.
Well, that's the exciting events from last week.
The next time I email, we will know whether or not Scotland will become independent!
Exciting to be here at this exciting time. I don't know what would actually be best, but I'd like it to become independent so I can say I was there on Scotland's Independence Day! The vote is this Thursday!
Love yous and have a great week
Elder Spencer Burt

Photo: Disobedience
Elder Spencer Ashcraft Burt
Scotland/Ireland Mission
51 Spylaw Road
Edinburgh EH10 5BP

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Hanging out with Highland Cows"

Hi everybody!
This email might be a bit short.
We had a fun P-day at Pollok Country Park with our district today, and we left emailing till the last, and now the library is a bit crowded and they are limiting how long we can stay on the computers.
This week was pretty good. The highlight was Wednesday, where we began teaching three new investigators!
One is an old guy named Marcus, whom the sisters handed over to us. I'm not sure why, maybe they were just feeling nice so they gave us an investigator!
But he is a nice guy. He likes to talk a lot about his past, and tell stories. We met with him once in his home and we are teaching him again next week.
He lives near a recent convert who loves helping us out, so maybe we will see if he'd like to host a cottage evening-sort of thing at his apartment, where it's a bit more comfortable.
The others are two guys in their twenties.
They both have finished their degrees at University, and they either work or volunteer with a Christian fellowship group for university students.
Elder Schmidt and Elder Liu met one of them two weeks ago, and we scheduled a time to meet up with him on campus.
He brought his friend along, who is also fairly interested.
I feel one might be a bit more receptive, I kinda get the feeling that the other already knows a lot about the church and is biased against it. He asked questions such as "Is this the only English edition published?" (I've had several anti-Mormon people criticise the fact that the 1830 version is slightly different than the current one in some spelling and punctuation) and he said he has a lot of questions.
So we're bringing another member with us this week when we meet with him, who joined the church in his twenties. Even though he's a bit older now, he should be able to relate to them. We're excited to start working with these guys!
The two active Christians seem like the type where if they received a testimony, they would be AMAZING solid members of the church. And although they would face loads of persecution from their Christian friends and ministers etc., I'm sure they'd be steadfast through it all. That is if they sincerely give it a chance and they get their answer.
We're still working with our other investigators...Paul, Alistair, and Sabrina. They are all coming along pretty well.
We are working with a newly found less-active guy named Scott, whom we met at a bus stop.
He is a bus driver, so he usually works on Sundays.
He's great though, he ALMOST came this past Sunday but he didn't answer his phone. He doesn't finish his driving shifts till like 2 or 3 in the morning, so I don't blame him for not waking up on time.
Let's see...On Saturday we played football with the collection of members, nonmembers and missionaries from around the stake, and we helped another member move. So yeah it was a good week.
We also had a few funny encounters with drunk people. Always fun.
Sorry for being so short with this email, but yeah I hope you all had a great week as well.
Love yous!
Elder Burt

The former LDS meetinghouse in Drumchapel

Hanging out with Highland Cows (Scots: Highland Coo's)

Monday, September 1, 2014

"...but it feels good to help him out in the here and now."

Hello family and friends!
So we have had a pretty good week. We did a lot of service.
We helped a guy in the ward move a super heavy marble fireplace from his daughter's house into her garage. She and her husband are remodeling a house they just bought that is really big and nice but old.
When he told us he needed help moving the fireplace we thought it would be easy, but even with me, Elder Schmidt, and two of the Chinatown elders and the man, it was difficult.
We ended up using old torn out carpet to slide it along the floor, out the door, and across the garage floor to its resting place. Apparently the member is taking it to his house once he gets a van rented, so who knows maybe he will need help again when that day comes.
We also helped an investigator clean his apartment. We asked him beforehand if we could come and help him clean, and he said it was ok. So we went in our service clothes, bought some latex gloves, and went to work.
We just focused on his living room, where he usually is and where we teach him. It was practically nothing but old receipts, bus tickets, and newspapers. We threw away probably eight grocery bags full of newspapers.
Once the clutter was all off the ground, Elder Housley (exchanges that day) vacuumed the carpet. It looked AMAZING! I wish I could have taken before and after photos, but I felt like that would be a bit insulting. So you'll just have to imagine it and take my word for it.
We suggested that we come over two times a week; one to teach, and one to clean. Because his kitchen and his other rooms could use some cleaning.
Yeah, we know it may just end up in the same state after a month or two...but it feels good to help him out in the here and now.
I can't remember if I told you about Zone Development that we had last Monday...we played a lot of sports, such as "yoga football" (soccer with a yoga ball, and you can hit it with hands too) capture the flag, dodgeball, chair football, and had some dinner and a few silly games at the church. Fun time.
We had zone interviews & training last week as well. That's where President Brown comes and interviews us all to check up on us and give personal advice, while the zone leaders and the assistant to the presidents and Sister Brown give training. Good stuff.
Now the racism story. We were visiting an old and hilarious less-active lady. She lived in South Africa for a good few years, and that combined with the fact that she is old make her a bit racist, and we can't really do anything about it.
She usually says something negative about blacks or Arabs, etc. But last week she told us a story about how a black carer/nurse-type lady came up to her flat (she lives in an assisted living centre) to give her medication or something. Somehow they started arguing, and our lady told us that she told the black lady, "Well, I'm white, what colour are you?" It was terrible! But funny how senile she is. We like visiting her.
We had a stake activity on Saturday: Cultures and Cuisines of the World.
Every ward was assigned a country to do a 10 minute presentation and a small taste of the food. Our ward had China, because we have lots of Chinese members. It was fun.
There were also rooms for Scotland, Brasil, USA, India, Italy, Spain, and Ecuador.
The Chinese families in our ward out-did everybody else in food and decorations and even a traditional Chinese dance. It was awesome.
Well, these are the noteworthy experiences that occurred this week.
Of course we taught a few other investigators, tracted, street contacted, visited members and less-active members, all of which are important as well. But you know, nothing exciting to report back.
Hope you all have a super week!
(I know it's a bit late, but I want to try and share a scripture or a quote every week that is nice or inspirational or applies to missionary work of some sort. I shoulda started 1.5 years ago, but as Uchtdorf says, "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is NOW!")
Mosiah 26:20
"Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep."
Love you all!
Elder Spencer Burt

Chinese decorations at the stake activity

Feeding honeycomb to Jesus (yes, I still have some left! It's like eating pure honey haha)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"...ended on good terms, and he only accused us of false beliefs like twice."

A few of our investigators, and also a recently re-activated member here struggle with addictions, mostly with smoking, and also gambling. The member is the only one who openly admits it and wants to change, but he has a hard time.
We may try the 12-step stop smoking program, which I found a few copies of in our flat.
We also encouraged him to pay tithing before anything else as soon as he gets paid, and the Lord will help him manage the rest of his money. Perhaps that means his temptation to gamble will be less, perhaps one of those classic tithing miracle stories will happen. Who knows.
It's interesting, here in the UK, on practically every street corner, they have "Bookies" short for Bookmaker. Basically it's where people go to bet on horse races, football matches, etc. But they are also like a miniature casino, with slot machines and roulettes and such.
They are almost as common as convenience stores. And even in the convenience stores they have Lottery scratch-cards for sale. So there is a lot of opportunity for gambling, therefore if someone has a gambling addiction, they can hardly leave the house without a huge temptation to gamble. It's difficult.
We're trying to help these guys with their addictions, but it is hard to relate to them. Perhaps I will vow to give up chocolate if they give up one of their of the sister missionaries in the ward is doing that for her investigator and maybe I'll give it a shot. It would be good for me AND them!
A funny quote from a lady we stopped to talk to on the street: "I'm a lesbian beyond saving." Oh well, we tried.
Last week we helped a member move. She was just swapping houses with a guy who lived down the street, because hers was just a small one-bedroom apartment with no stairs, and the old guy she is swapping with was having trouble with the stairs in his house, and with maintaining the garden.
So we went to help her move her stuff from her house to the new one. And while we were there, we helped the old guy's family help move his stuff as well. And apparently they were quite surprised; they originally thought we were college students or something, but we told them we were on our missions and told them a bit about it, and they seemed a bit intrigued.
At church on Sunday, the member said that the old guy's daughters who were taking care of his move were so surprised and grateful that we helped them move as well, even though we just met them! So I guess that's a seed planted. Yes!!
On Saturday we played football with the big group of missionaries and members from the stake. It was fun.
Later that evening, we did splits with the elders from the Springboig Ward, basically who cover the other half of Glasgow. We met in City Centre and changed companions for an hour or so.
We met some interesting people; one homeless Albanian guy who had a big toy dinosaur on his shoulder. He let me pet it.
We gave away 3 Books of Mormons, one to an interested YSA-age girl, one to a Catholic, one to a Muslim from the Middle East.
Then we walked past a born-again Christian gathering, where one guy was giving a speech into a microphone and a few other volunteers were passing out small pamphlets. We stood and listened for a few minutes, and one guy approached us. He said, "Mormons? So you're actually NOT Christians."
So we quickly jumped to the defense, and I guess we did ok because he changed the subject to why we believe in Joseph Smith. We talked a bit about grace and works, the Godhead, and a few other things.
Toward the end, he seemed to be asking more questions of actual interest, rather than accusing and condemning questions. It almost sounded like he was beginning to question his belief of the 3-in-1 Trinity.
We ended on good terms, and he only accused us of false beliefs like twice. I guess you could say it was a friendly wee bash session. Fun times.
Then as we were about to head back home, we got mobbed by a bunch of retired couples, who were on a bus tour of Scotland. They were all LDS, and apparently the rest of the bus was as well because it was a Utah-based tour group. It was fun!
Church was good on Sunday as well. Paul came, and it was his first time! Although he was a bit confused by the order of the verses in the hymnbook, he got used to it and said he liked it a lot and he'll come next week to.
I like sitting by investigators on their first day at church. Just to kind of experience the new-ness and excitement with them.
Alright that's all folks, talk to yous next week!
Elder Burt

By the way, I'd suggest you ALL watch this Mormon Message. It's the best one I have ever seen. Everyone should watch it, member or non-member. It's amazing.

Photos all from the Kelvingrove Museum last week.