Very difficult work here . . . Ahh, Brasil!

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Moses 1:39, Pearl of Great Price

Well, this week was uneventful and full of stuff at the same time.

This week started with the end of P-day of last week. I made my Mom’s wonderful rustic bread, which was amazing, and everyone ate it in 15 minutes. I guess it must have been good.

David's "Bonsi" bread, named for his good football buddy who loved it so much

David’s “Bonsi” bread, lovingly named after his good friend who loved it so much

We were working in Damasceno a lot this week. (Damasceno is at the corner of our area.) It is the farthest away and takes 45 minutes to get there. This place is a heavy, heavy favela (A favela is a Brazilian slum—very poor and haphazardly built). I could not believe it. So we were working and working, and all of the sudden, we came to a viewpoint. We were near the top of Damasceno and we could see below us three gigantic swimming pools and a school. Behind the school stretched São Paulo before our eyes. It was very cool. I was surprised to see it because it was smack-dab in the middle of a favela. Turns out that the pools were part of the school. I cannot wait to go swimming again after my mission.

From Damasceno, a view of São Paulo

From Damasceno, a view of São Paulo

We had a lightning storm in the valley right below our house. I sat on the deck for about an hour just trying to capture a photo of one of the lighting bolts. The bolts are very elongated and slow. I caught one that stretched across the sky. It was cool just to sit there in the dark at night and watch the lighting. It was also cool when the thunder hit our house strong enough to rattle the windows.

Evening lightning bolt show

Evening lightning bolt show

There is a dog that is in the street of one of our investigators that always follows us around. It is hilarious because we are always watching for when he is going to come out of the woodwork. (That didn’t take long, finding himself a dog to love despite being a missionary.)

Of course Elder Burt, who cannot be without a beloved dog at any time, has found find himself a dog to love and follow him around--or did the dog find HIM?

Our new street friend . . . he follows us everywhere, Elder Borba and I

Just some random thing: I was visiting an investigator of the church (missionaries often refer to a person who is studying the gospel and evaluating the church as an “investigator”) with Elder Hunt and I saw something in his room. Turns out that this investigator is in love with Demi Lovato. Did you know that Demi speaks Portuguese? I did not. Evidently, she does. This kid has talked with her in person. He has plastered posters of her on his wall. Well then.

Elder Hunt and his friend who loves Demi Lovato

Elder Hunt and his friend who loves Demi Lovato

Later in the week, we tried to make cookies. Did not work. We ended up just throwing it all in a pan and making a cookie cake. It wasn’t bad except that it was burned on the bottom and the middle was only half cooked. Ahh, Brasil! 

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Is it cookies or is it cake?

We had a chance to have lunch with some other elders in the area next to ours: Parada Pinto. There is a mall there called Andorinha. This place made me miss home a little. It was the first thing that seemed slightly American. It was big, clean, and organized. Clean and organized is like the opposite of Brasil. This is why I was surprised when I walked in. Elder Hunt and I are taking a vow to eat healthier food, so we decided to have a meal with whatever we wanted before we started. We bought pizza, hamburgers, soda, and ice cream. We ate like kings in that mall. But let me say that the burgers here are nothing like home—very different. It’s like they put a steak in between two pieces of bread. It was food, so I enjoyed it.

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Elders Burt and Hunt prep for “healthier eating”

Today (Tuesday) we got to go to the temple. I was very thankful for this opportunity because I always feel more relaxed after going there. This past week was a little tough because our baptisms fell through and we did not have any this week. It is tough when you know an investigator is worthy to be baptized and is ready, but decides not to be baptized. Hopefully she will feel ready next week.

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Elders Hunt and Burt at the São Paulo LDS Temple

It is very difficult to find people to baptize here. There is so much wickedness and just bad things going on everywhere. It is hard for God to bless an area that is not worthy to receive blessings. I believe that this is why the missionaries in our area are struggling to get people baptized. It is hard to watch people make choices that make them unhappy when I know that what they need in their life is right in front of them. It is even harder to help someone create their own opportunity to be baptized, just to then watch them freak out at the last second and not follow through. I want to help these people, but I cannot if they are unwilling to accept help. So many people think missionaries just go and do. This is not the case. It is a mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional battle every minute of every day. I go to bed exhausted every night. It is very difficult work here that needs to be done, but when it is accomplished, the rewards are priceless.

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Elders Borba and Burt overlooking São Paulo

One investigator we were teaching would not follow through with anything. Her name is Lucia. Lucia was not reading the parts of the Book of Mormon that we gave her, and our appointments with her would often fall through because she was sleeping late into the morning. This was also why she was not going to church. One day Elder Borba lost a little bit of his patience with her because she was not progressing over a long period of time. He talked to her a bit about commitments and the importance of our work. He basically said that if she was not willing to do her part, she was not going to get anything out of our visits and we could not keep visiting her. She then promised to read and get up the next time for our appointment. When we returned she had changed. She was more willing to listen and had gotten up on time. She had progressed. Turns out that all she did was read. Finally.

The Book of Mormon really blesses people’s lives. They just need to take the time to read it.

I love all of you and miss you all. I hope you all have a wonderful week. Until next time,

Elder Burt

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