Monday, April 24, 2017


Elder Burt and Elder Phillips
This one is going to be quick, folks. I hope things are going well back home. We quite miraculously found a wonderful woman while we were doing a contacting activity for Easter. She felt prompted to come over to us and invite us to her home. We just had an appointment with her a couple days ago and she explained how she was caring for her aged mother and epileptic brother and needed spiritual help. She already said she´d be willing to be baptized if she began to feel our message was true...and her brother said the same. Things are going wonderfully here. Also I ate a chicken heart this week! Cool cool cool. The church is true!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Transferred to Cerro de Pasco

This was my first week here in Cerro de Pasco with Elder Phillips. It was a good week. I'd like to mention some particular instances of note during the week. First, was our celebration of Holy Week here. Easter's not really a´s a celebration of the whole last week of Christ's life. Ben-Hur and the Ten Commandments are the crowd favorites playing on every screen in the market selling DVDs. We put up a tarp, put up seven giant posters of Jesus, one representing His actions every day of the week, and gave away free pictures of Christ to the crowds. We set it up in all the areas in the zone, but our area was the most successful. Crowds upon crowds gathered around to take one. Some were gracious and surprised that they were free, when most everything of this nature costs something here. Others felt entitled to take as many as they want and ignored our pleas of one for each person.

We had some other interesting experiences in the week. One came from a contact who seemed very knowledgable of the wikipedia page about the Mormon church, and had questions about all the topics missionaries need to be trained to handle. We assured him we´d come the next day and answer all his questions. We arrived the following afternoon, and he and his older brother, young men in their early twenties, came prepared with many printed, annotated pieces of paper of what the internet has to say about the Church. Surprisingly enough, I absolutely loved the experience. The older brother was especially sincere and respectful, but nevertheless wanting to know every topic under the sun that's controversial about the Church. We animatedly went in depth to answer their questions...I've loved studying this stuff, particularly from a scholarly point of view, and I knew that was what they wanted, with enough enthusiasm and love for the subject to bring the Spirit and testify it all depends on the truth of the Book of Mormon. We answered all the classic scriptures- no man shall add to the Bible, beware of angels bringing a new gospel, etc. In the end, the older brother was making his own connections to answer his own questions, profusely thanked us, and promised he'd read the Book of Mormon. It was wonderful.

On the other hand, our next visit was an interesting man and his family who, if I'm correct, is forming his own church group. This, of course, means he was far more interested in teaching us condescendingly about the Bible than listening to us. Nevertheless, when we could talk, we shared a lot of similar views on the teachings, with the addition of the magnificent claim that yes, not only COULD Christ establish his church once more, but he DID. On this second visit, it seemed more and more obvious he would keep interrupting our message to try and show his own knowledge with diagrams and everything.

I cut in and raised my voice and level of enthusiasm to ensure we could get to the end without interruption. Our message is, after all, remarkably simple- God's church is on the earth once more; we can know by asking God and depending on the Spirit; when one knows it is true, one should be baptized to receive all the blessings possible. On that line of logic, I bore my testimony of its certainty and challenged them to be baptized upon feeling the Spirit of its truthfulness. As they backpedaled into a theological debate on what was sin and when baptism would be appropriate, we thanked them and asked if we could close with a prayer. It was a memorable experience, more than anything because the Spirit was in the room and even if they didn't accept his witness, they felt him.

Well, the Church is true. We'll keep moving on up here. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Monday, April 10, 2017

All Things Point to Christ

Elder Burt, members of his zone, and friends
Hello, world! This week I received changes and will be going to Cerro de Pasco! That's the highest city in the world, which means I'll get lungs of steel. I hear you can drink blended frog there! This was a solid week where we got to do some divisions. I enjoyed feeling the excitement new missionaries have to work and the faith that it will have results. I love talking to people...really, the key of the mission is to speak with the world. That's what we're here to do, and it affects so many parts of your mind. For instance...

I've been sharing with my companion my theories of how Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings is about the Gospel. I've enjoyed it sufficiently that perhaps I can leave it as my spiritual thought this week. I'll warn you, it will all be **spoilers**.

Harry Potter is a series about death...his parents die, Cedric dies, Sirius dies, Dumbledore dies, and about ten other people in the last book. Harry has to grow more and more each time because he has to deal with such a heavy burden. As he reads on his parents' gravestone, 1 Corinthians 15 teaches us that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. So in the end...he has to conquer death. He himself dies to save his people. Being the master of the Deathly Hallows, he's permitted to rob Voldemort of his power over death and have power over it himself. He resurrects. By dying for his people, he creates what is called a love shield around all those he saved. Dark magic has no power over them. Do you see it? Jesus Christ had to die for us, thus creating a love shield to protect us from Satan's power. Though Death was Satan's tool, Jesus became the master by sacrificing himself and now uses it to complete with God's Plan of Salvation. All things point to Christ.

Lord of the Rings has some apparent faults that frustrates people. For instance, why couldn't they just take the eagles to Mt. Doom? Let's start there. The eagles represent a literary device called Deus Ex Machina....or, godlike intervention when the characters do not have the power to overcome a situation. It appears cheap, unless it's literally representing the concept of grace. We cannot overcome all of our problems, so we will inevitably have to rely on the grace of Jesus Christ. That's the concept Gandalf explained when Frodo said frustratedly at the beginning, "It's a pity Bilbo didn't stab Gollum when he had the chance."

"Pity! It was pity that stayed his hand. Pity and mercy...not to take a life without need." Gandalf explains they will have to rely on this mercy to save the day in the end. Throughout the series, Frodo appears stupid for trusting Gollum over and over when it's obvious he intends to kill them. Yet that mercy is exactly what very nearly changes Gollum as a person. Even though in the end his efforts fail, that mercy was what brought the mercy of God upon him. In the end, Frodo himself fails, which, again, can appear like a frustrating ending...why have our hero fail in the end? It can only be to demonstrate that we all fail. Yet by being merciful with Gollum, God intervened and ensured the day was saved anyway. Gollum falling into the lava with the ring wasn't an "accident" at all, but rather evidence that someone was watching over them. Lord of the Rings is a story about grace. All things point to Christ.

Well I hope you enjoyed my analysis. I love you all. The church is true.

Elder Burt with recent convert

Monday, April 3, 2017

Christ-Like Love

Buenas, mis queridos hermanos y hermanas. I hope you enjoyed conference as much as I did. This week had some setbacks, but the good news is it's a new month, which offers new opportunities. 

I felt an emphasis in Conference on Christlike Elder Renlund's remarks, President Nelson's, Elder Holland's, and President Monson's during Priesthood. As we develop as Christ's disciples, we become different people. My mission president has focused on the truth that the judgment day will manifest who we have become, not what we have done. Based on who we are, we'll know what state of life we will be comfortable living. As we develop charity, we become the kind of people who are capable of perfect happiness. 

I've been struck throughout my mission how much dislike is a lie...if we truly know a person, we'll inevitably love them. I think Ender Wiggin once said something like that... "I don't think you can ever understand someone...what they want, what they fear...without loving them the way they love themselves." 

It's not a truth we discover all at once, but I believe we should humbly try each day to be a little better. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.