Monday, August 29, 2016


[Andrew sent a lot of pictures this week, sorry for the delay in getting them posted.  I was out of town all last week, and a little exhausted when I got home.]

Andrew describes the pictures: 
P-Day at the watefalls of the jungle (1-4)
Having fun with the youth before the baptism (5)
Baptism (6-7)

Of course, baptisms are central and the stuff of dreams to missionaries, so I will explain that awesome opportunity better the next week. Until then, I hope you enjoy some pictures of what my life´s been like these last weeks. Love you all! Later days!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Questions and Answers

People generally have very specific questions about foreign missions that missionaries hardly ever think to answer. Questions about strange food and animals leave single-minded missionaries confused and wondering whether they're talking about some gospel metaphor. Out of the good nature of my heart, I thought I might expound on some temporal matters that may be of some interest.

Q. What kind of strange wild animals do they eat?
A. Chicken and times rice and chicken. In my last area we drank hot jello every day before it could thicken. If that answer's not satisfactory, I've also eaten cuyi a few times, a giant hamster delicacy. Seviche is supposed to be the tastiest Peruvian food, but it's made out of raw fish and has been prohibited in the mission for a long time for all the sicknesses that occurred. Luckily, the ban has been lifted recently from one of our prohibited foods...tocush. Tocush is a potato they rot for a while underwater and then dry until it smells like poop (that's hardly a simile...they are uncannily similar.) You nearly vomit just walking past it in the streets. My last companion was legitimately angry with my little joke before I left when I told our Pensionista we were now allowed to eat it, and she could cook it for my companion whenever she liked. Ah, pobrecito... Meanwhile, I ate wild jungle deer this last week.

Q. What wild crazy animals do you see in the heart of the Peruvian jungle?
A. Dogs. Very rarely do you ever walk on a Peruvian street without seeing several stray dogs. That's just life. In super cool news, I did see a little monkey hanging around a fruit stand recently.

Q. Insects?
A. A couple flying cockroaches. Lots of sugar ants. Nothing surprising.

Q. What are other churches like here?
A. When Paul mentioned tinkling cymbals and sounding brass, he was talking about the churches here. They make lots of noise and shout and sing funny songs, and generally spawn confusion.

Q. What are schools like?
A. They sing and march around quite a bit. We have one on the other side of our street. I help a lot of kids out with their English homework, correct their books that have incorrectly written instructions in them, and recently wrote a severe letter to a university teacher for the quality of the course.

Well, I hope this answered some questions you might have had. I'll send a ton of pictures of the waterfalls we're visiting next week, once I get my darned technology to work. Till next week!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Strength of the Youth

I'm in Summerland, where the climate never changes and our duties revolve around the Youth. Some are preparing for baptism in two weeks, and each one is willing to believe in every doctrine and keep every commandment. They describe the Spirit working in them the best they can in their own words, yet it mirrors so many other experiences that true converts share. 

One particularly powerful lesson this week was with a man with a severe form of anxiety that leads to violent thoughts. The meekness and lowliness it takes to say to two youth, more or less, "I need help and I scare myself when I'm alone, but I think God can heal me," is too powerful to lead to nowhere. I shared Christ's words in 3 Nephi 9:13-14, "Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?...Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." My companion promised him if he began to turn regularly to the scriptures when he was alone, the harrowing thoughts would disappear.

The real problem in the jungle is the Law of Chastity. In my last area, this law was fairly easy to keep. It was so cold that everyone had ten coats on, and if anyone got any ideas, they changed their mind after taking off half their layers and put the others back on again to keep warm. Here, no one wears hardly any clothes at all, and one practically breaks the law of chastity by shaking someone's hand. Ah, well, the youth are well meaning and trying to change.

I hope all is well back on the homefront and I miss you all! The church is true! 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Into the Jungle

I´ll miss Junín. We had some  good friends up there, including my Pensionista and her daughter, and her brother who hopefully got baptized two days ago. The President's family were really important to me, and are some of the first people I'll look up when I revisit Peru years from now. I grew so much there...I'll look back on it in the manner that one might faintly remember that mortal thrill of challenge and change, long after taking their heavenly rest in the stately courts above.

Because, oh yes, I'm in Paradise.

The jungle isn't just perfect for its climate, or its strong wards, or the unbelievably successful work. It's everything- waking up in the morning to the sun on your pillow, the sweet air, the prospect of baptizing in pools beside waterfalls, the friendly members with references, all the small things. Yes, after one of my first days I got so violently ill I had to go to the hospital to get some fluids back, but heck, even that was fun. I'm going to be just like my father's father when I grow up...I joked with all the doctors, told complicated Spanish puns as they took my blood, and when I had to knock on a door, it was accompanied with, "It's the missionaries!"  My companion and the Zone Leaders said they never had so much fun in a hospital.

The real focus here is the young men. You know those Mormon Message videos where twenty people all suddenly decide to get baptized or come back to church just based on one invitation and the general ridiculous message seems to be, "This can be your ward too if you just have more faith and invite your friends"? Yeah, those probably started here. We had two young men attending a couple months ago, and by the time I got here, the Elders had brought ten or more back. Three more will be baptized this month, and all are genuine and trying so hard to change. It's magnificent. You hardly walk down the street without tripping on a golden investigator.

Ah, well. I'm exaggerating a bit. Life is wonderful, but it still calls for hard work, and changing the moral trajectory of anyone calls for focus. Nevertheless, I'm quite happy here in my new area. The field is white already to harvest.

Elder Burt, saying goodbye to Junín.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Miracle of the Week

Our Pensionista and her daughter are our best friends in the area. We've been teaching her daughter frequently, but she has never felt comfortable with baptism. Her uncle, however, was extremely close to baptism last month. Let's call him José. José went to to the States about ten years ago, got married, got a job, and learned English. He was a good man, but his wife ended up leaving him which tore him apart. He prayed she would nevertheless find a good way in life, and incidentally she ended up becoming a Mormon. They're on good terms now.

Well, one day when in Utah, José decided he could either go get dead drunk to get over his problems, or try and figure it out some other way. He wandered to the church behind his house, where two missionaries came out and began to talk to him and encourage him. When he returned to California, he sought the missionaries and began to attend church regularly. He was a week before baptism before he inexplicably bailed because he didn't feel like he had received a true confirmation yet. Then he came here to visit, and became the answer to our prayers to help out our situation with his niece. We talked to both of them about the 'coincidences' that led them both to the same church, and asked them if they could focus this month on the idea of baptism. We asked the uncle first if he was ready to make a goal for another baptismal date. He said clearly, in English, "I am ready now. I will get baptized as soon as I return to the States." We told him that was wonderful...but if he got baptized here, he would be an example to his family. He agreed, and intends to be baptized within the following weeks. So that was the miracle of the week. I know God had this family in mind in everything that happened to them. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.