Monday, January 30, 2017


This week had some crazy changes to the worldwide missionary force. We received a transmission from the council of the mission board, including Elder Oaks, Elder Bednar, Elder Andersen, and others. Some changes include the schedule, in that we now have more liberty in choosing when we study and, according to where we're serving, when we get up and go to bed. For instance, in the jungle, where everyone's cooking lunch in the morning and stays up late in the heat, missionaries can wake up an hour later, study in the morning, and work until 10:00 PM. It sounds exciting. It involves a higher focus on proselyting, including less time for study. Another change announced is the amount of numbers we ask from missionaries. Whether it be on a worldwide level, mission level, zone level, or district level, we only ask for four numbers of the week, all focused on investigator progress. The idea is that missionaries don't need to feel pressure to up their lesson count or things like that just to have good reports. We do what is most appropriate to baptize more people. Incidentally, as a Zone Leader, it also means I don't have to continue asking for endless lines of numbers each week. 

I was particularly impressed in the transmission by Elder Bednar's remarks, including his observation of the linked nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (being faith, repentance, baptism, the receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.) He taught there is no way way to separate the principles- all of them are the same message, and we should clearly demonstrate that to our investigators. Each naturally flows into the he very adeptly showed in last April´s conference. I felt a good deal of the message centered on a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 18:14: ´Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.´ That ought to be the center of all our teachings -- a sincere change in the hearts and lives of people.

What we teach is difficult change. We ask for hard sacrifices. We were talking with one person who works at a funeral home. She tried to explain to us why it's not feasible to come to church on Sundays, in part because her mother needs her in the business. We calmly explained we would never, ever ask her to make such a sacrifice on our own volition, as we never had to do something apparently impossible to go to church. We explained that the difficult doctrine of Christ is to make high sacrifices to comply with His commandments. In the end, she came, and we had a very spiritual service. I know the Gospel is not easy, but rather that it demands change and sacrifice. Joseph Smith once said something along the lines of, -A religion that does not ask for sacrifice cannot create enough faith such as is necessary to return to God´.. I think that's true...only sacrifice can make our faith grow. 

One other change that occurred was emergency transfers, now I await my new companion in a couple hours. I'll miss my last companion, Elder Santos, a lot. He was a wonderful companion, and we worked very well together. Thanks to his work in the last transfer before I came, my next companion and I will have a very successful month. I love you all, and I hope you had a good week.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Back to Huancayo

I've returned to Huancayo! I'll certainly miss Huánuco and my old companion, Elder Moss. We had a ton of fun the month and a half we were together and saw some of the most memorable miracles in the work. He knew how to act according to the Spirit. Luckily, we're from the same group, so I´ll see him again. I left a lot of good friends back in Huánuco...I´ll send pictures.

The climate here changes so rapidly the best you can do is flip a coin in the morning to see if you should bundle up or wear a short sleeved shirt. The work appears good here. We're working with a Columbian family whose accent is almost as foreign as's like learning another language. In fact, when the little girl in the family first got here, she told her teacher she knew three languages: Columbian, Peruvian, and Spanish. We're also working with a young man who wants to get baptized after visiting the church once...we started teaching him after! His mother wants to return after being inactive for a long while.

I've pondered a lot this week on knowing Jesus Christ. Perfection is easy to dismiss as something lacking personality...we love the idea that our imperfections make us unique. Yet I doubt we could maintain that opinion were we one of the original apostles of Jesus. We would find, I believe, the very personality we've always longed to find- the combination of strength, sincerity, and love. Sometimes I catch a glimpse, and it transforms me. He is the example I would follow as far as it takes me. We hear the story of his suffering so much we build a barrier between it and our emotions, just as our favorite story loses some of its flavor after the hundredth time. I'm beating my fist on the barrier, on seeing the friend I've adored for so long beaten down in such knowing dignity, such endurance and determination. His apostles must have wanted to scream at the soldiers, tell them how quickly this man could destroy them all. It must have been too much for so many of them...I´m guessing the stress and worry took over Peter´s mind so much that he wasn't even thinking when he denied Him. The after-effect must have mentally crippled him, for he knew Jesus Christ, and he knew exactly how indescribable His personality was.

We ponder on the sadistic violence of that time and wonder on how they could do such a thing to Jesus. Yet that was their culture back then. Ours is one of sarcasm, mocking, and cynicism, and we seem to use it just as cruelly against Him. We curse in His name, parade comedies of Him on modern television, blaspheme and joke because those are our tools. We yet crucify Him. I think we send the spear in his side when we doubt His love or His wisdom in our suffering. As Elder Bednar taught in this last conference, "He may say to us, 'Ye never knew me in the last day', if we do not take steps to know Him in this life."  I want to recognize and appreciate every aspect of His perfection at the end. I want to know Jesus Christ. In the name of Him, my perfect friend and brother, amen.

Elder Moss and Elder Burt

Elder Burt with Carlos

Elder Burt with Melvin

Monday, January 9, 2017

Finding the Lost Sheep

This was a wonderful week. One of our investigators got baptized on Saturday, and we had various positive experiences throughout the week. Once we were walking with a member trying to chase down a young man in the ward to remind him of an activity and ask for a referral. My companion stopped at the door of an investigator we haven't seen for a while and knocked, letting the young man get out of our sights. However, the investigator opened the door and we had a wonderfully spiritual lesson for the first time in a while, to the point where he said he would be willing to be baptized as he came to know the things we taught were true. I believe it was a pivotal and necessary lesson in his spiritual growth, and I'm sure my companion was inspired to knock on the door. 

With the increase in contacts we're doing, I've tried to spend a little bit more time with our area map, praying over where we should go. I felt prompted to go to a certain alley near the limit of our area. We went, and a young man there opened the door and let us speak to him in the moment. Inside, he asked profound questions and accepted The Book of Mormon. I felt as though we could trust him to just genuinely explore it this time around before we gave him a specific reading. The next day we dropped by again, and he practically recited the testimony of Joseph Smith from memory, knowing all the details and having a great many more deep questions for us. Unfortunately, he'll be traveling to Lima for a few weeks. 

We also did divisions with a companionship that's struggling a bit in the zone. One is very new, and I went with him in our area. Not only did we have a miraculous day full of lessons and new investigators, but he also overcame his fear of talking with people on the street and started doing it for himself with enthusiasm by the end of the day. It was, all in all, a good week.

I was studying this week a little about repentance. I was thinking about the parable of the one lost sheep, and how the shepherd left the ninety-nine to find him. I thought perhaps the lost sheep had to travel in rain, across thorns and thistles in his path, through a river, and past rocky hills, before it finally collapsed in despair. It struck me that the shepherd as well would have to walk the same path in order to reach the rain, across thorns and thistles, through a river, and past rocky hills. Our Shepherd only had one way to reach and rescue us, and that was to walk the same roads we walked on...through the same pain. For such, He performed the Atonement, suffering for our sins and dying. I know He is very familiar with our own paths, and will help us come back to the fold.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Painted Rooms

This week we had several activities out of the ordinary, including interviews with President, painting our room, and New Year's. We also walked a lot in the rain contacting people. Though we did not have a great deal of success, we set up a baptism for the following week, which was a blessing.

I'd like to focus on one part especially of the week...painting our room. To be honest, it looks super awesome. It feels professional, and for the first time in more than a year, there's no greasy, moldy, or dirty stains on the walls. We're going to put some inspiring posters up and make it a legitimate nice place to be. It's going to be cool. Cool. Coolcoolcool.

Ahem. My point is, something as simple as a paint job completely changed the quality of the room and our satisfaction with it. In life, sometimes the paint color changes on a daily basis, and we somehow permit it to completely change our outlook on life. If we have a single bad day, our nerves can become completely frayed, we feel it necessary to lose our tempers, and after generally deciding life is a disappointing testing ground of trials and tears, we throw it at the feet of God at the end of the day and demand, "What was that all about?!" The next day, when the paint changes, we shout praises to the joy of life and determine we'll never forget the mercies of God again. All for something as simple and exterior as the paint that surrounds us. Now, I know it's sometimes an ugly paint job for a week, or a month, or even a year. Yet I sincerely think the principle stays the same. We would be so much more peaceful if we knew every trial is temporary, or less worried if God told us the exact day when a problem would end. Moroni is right that faith and hope are an "anchor" to our souls in that we stay grounded amidst all the changes in circumstance, mood, and success. May we continue to keep an eternal perspective and stay consistent in our efforts to improve.