Monday, June 9, 2014

"...he just grabbed my gloved hand and just hugged it for like 30 seconds."

Highlights of last week:
We helped out the Howse family with a "Coffee Morning" for a charity that raises money for the parents of premature and stillborn babies.
They organized the whole thing, and they said we could come and help if we wanted to. We figured we'd be helping set up tables and chairs and cleaning up and stuff, but when we got there they needed someone to sell coffee, tea and scones.
It felt kind of ironic, but we did it anyway because they seemed really stressed out trying to get everything worked out.
Part of me felt like we shouldn't be doing it, but in the end it was for a good cause, we weren't drinking it, and we got to interact and talk to a lot of people and who knows what seeds were sown.
Also during the charity event, I got to wear a full Mickey Mouse costume! Only for a few minutes. It was really hot in there and hard to see.
A few kids got scared of course, but the cutest thing ever was when I went up to a little guy in a stroller to give him a high five, and he just grabbed my gloved hand and just hugged it for like 30 seconds. It was adorable.
We were out in Ballynahinch to do an AUF thingy.
We rarely find the person we're looking for, and if we do, they are never interested and sometimes have no clue why their name is on our records. But when we tracted the area surrounding it, we had some funny experiences.
We placed one Book of Mormon with a young Baptist guy. Then the next door neighbor was a very born-again Christian guy who had researched more deep doctrine of our church than most members.
He told us that some prophets and apostles in the past said that God LITERALLY made a baby with Mary, and that's where we believe Jesus came from.
I wondered for a bit, but then just let it slide. Not really important.
I think it was Bruce R. McConkie who said it. He says a lot of things.
The guy has a website called "Take Heed" that he invited us to check out, basically it just denounces our church. I didn't bother.
Sometimes I think that if my testimony is strong enough then I should be able to read other points of view even if they attack The Church, but then I remember that that's just the devil, and I already have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and that's all that matters in the end.
Then we asked a lady for directions to find another AUF's house, and she ended up telling us she was baptised in Glasgow about 18 years ago.
She still remembers the elders who taught her, and she says she has one of the missionary's scriptures he gave to her.
She hasn't been to church since living in N. Ireland, but she said we could come visit her. I think that's "lost sheep" #4 I've met in this area! Crazy. Tons of born-agains, and tons of lost sheep.
On Sunday we didn't have any of our investigators or less-actives come to church.
But we did have four visitors: a couple from Sydney Australia who knew the family of Elder Meyer and Elder Hobby (from the MTC, serving in England) so that was kind of cool.
The other couple was from Cache Valley! He is the head coach of Mountain Crest football, so we had a good conversation. He was telling me about kids who were freshmen or sophomores when I was a senior going off to play college football, and it made me feel old.
He served his mission in the Glasgow mission, which used to cover the west of Scotland and N. Ireland, but not the Republic of Ireland. Interesting how things change. And how small of a world it is.
Those were the highlights of the week. A bit more concise than my usual emails...I'm trying to work on that! My wrists are usually quite sore by the time I'm done but not today :)
Hope all is well in Zion. By the way, my 18 month mark is this Friday!
Much love,
Elder Spencer Ashcraft Burt

"One of the coolest things...was attending a Free Presbyterian Church service..."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Hello family, so today's email may be a bit short, as I have spent a good portion of my email time today making sure all my photos from SD cards are backed up on my flash drive.
I am sorry it's taken me AGES to send another card...I have three to send you!!!! And I AM sending them TODAY. Promise.
I was putting it off until I got them backed up...and recently I was procrastinating actually sending them thinking it will be better to include them with a package of random Scottish/Irish stuff...but I'll just send the cards today and you should get them in about a week.
I think I was in Omagh the last time I sent you a card, so you'll see all the pictures I've taken in Dundee, Greenock, and here in Lisburn so far.
So last week was pretty enjoyable.
We're still teaching the Graham family (Nelson, Kathleen, Ashley, and now his wife Kirsty) usually Ashley's wife Kirsty isn't home when we visit, or if she is she's in the other room.
Last time we went by their house she was there and we talked to her just about life etc.
We had given her a Book of Mormon several weeks ago, and we asked if she'd read any of it. She hadn't, which was understandable because we'd never had the chance to teach her what it's all about.
Since the house is a bit hectic and hard to actually teach, we popped in the Book of Mormon DVD, which has three Mormon Messages all explaining what the Book of Mormon is. She seemed to enjoy it a lot.
The former president of the London Temple is in our ward, Raymond Lowry, and he is one of the coolest old guys ever. Just so humble and spiritual and positive and happy.
He told us we can stop by his house for a quick visit whenever we want, so we did.
He and his wife told us how they are close friends with several apostles, he was very close with President Hinckley, and above all they gave us a ton of praise for the work we do. It was a really good pick-me-up, because sometimes it feels like we're not accomplishing that much good.
Sometimes when we go out finding, we face so much rejection and even if they are polite about it it sometimes feels like there's no point. And when we do teach people, it's stressful to know what to teach, how to teach it, etc.
But something President Lowry said was that we truly do bring a special spirit into homes we visit; they said they could feel it in theirs, and they said surely those who aren't members can feel it even more.
So even if we don't have a proper lesson, or even if we feel  like people aren't making any progress, something might someday click in their head that will bring out true desire.
So with our current investigators, right now I feel like none of them will get baptized anytime in the near future, but his inspiring and uplifiting words gave me hope.
I never was a fan of "dropping" investigators who aren't progressing, as many missionaries are. And with this added motivation from this super spiritual member, I'm even more determined to teach people as much as possible, and if THEY decide they don't want any more of it, then that's fine. But as for me and my house, we'll keep at it.
Oh another cool thing, so the Grahams have a bunch of grown-up kids, and one of them named Trevor used to meet with missionaries in England many years ago.
He was at the house once toward the beginning of our teaching, and didn't really seem too interested anymore. But last time, he was there again just visiting his parents, and out of the blue he asked us for our number, and said he might call us sometime. So that was kind of cool.
We're also working with a guy named Mark who just came back into church activity. It's inspiring to see his desire and his determination to please God by changing his life for the better and start living the gospel.
He has quit smoking for almost two weeks now, has come to church three weeks in a row, wants to get married to his long-time girlfriend, and work his way toward the priesthood. He really is a great guy and we're happy to help him out.
One of the coolest things this week was attending a Free Presbyterian Church service on Sunday evening.
There's this guy named Simon, I called him a "potential investigator" to be positive, but really he's a bit of an anti-Mormon.
He asked if we'd come to his church a few months ago, and we said we're open to that. So he told us the time and all, and we finally went this past Sunday.
We went with Brother Reid, who was formerly a member of that church. We almost expected to meet opposition there because surely the minister knew who we were. But they were nothing but welcoming, and I found the service quite enlightening.
My favorite parts were:
The preacher told a story of a guy who had cancer, and when asked why he wasn't sad about it, he said "This cancer is my Rolls Royce back to God's presence!" I thought it was a cool way to look at it.
We read from 2 Samuel about King David's fall, and when his son Absalom dies, David says "Oh my son Absalom, If God willed I would have died for thee, my son!" (not exactly but you get it)
And he talked about how Jesus did for us what David couldn't do for his son.
And then he told the story of Abraham Lincoln, what he stood for, and how he was killed. And he told of a black mother who told her son, "That man died so we could be free. That man died for us!"
And related it to Christ. Pretty cool.
Oh and as you may have guessed, yesterday was zone development!
It wasn't as fun as last time. We played a bit of "yoga football" and then we did a relay race which I didn't like, a white elephant thing which was fun, and then a three hour long "Murder Mystery game".
I was assigned to be the Sheriff, and it was stressful!
I had to find out who killed the victim and bring them to justice...with alll the other characters asking me for help with other stuff and was just stressful!
Kind of fun, but I definitely preferred a day full of sports. Oh well, still fun.
Hope all is well with y'all, and I hope the SD cards arrive safely and soon!
Elder Spencer Burt

From the zone development Murder Mystery thing (old western theme)