Monday, May 30, 2016

"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"

Elder Mason Burk
May 30, 2016

Voice Recording #1:

Well, this week, I was thinking about something I wanted to share with you.  It was something I was studying.  I picked up the hymnbook and decided to study some hymns.  I was reading Hymn #29 in the English Hymnbook--The Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.  I picked it up at the beginning of my study, then ended up studying the hymn for an entire hour.  It really touched me.  I had to read it 3-4 times.

There are so many things that we do as missionaries.  Everyday we talk to a lot of people.  In this mission we don't have to work very hard to contact people.  We can get into anyone's house.  Everyone is very friendly, and they all talk to us. The hard part is getting them to commit to something.  Sometimes it's easy to lose faith in people because we seem to work through them so fast.  Or sometimes we may judge them too quickly, and choose to walk past them instead of stopping to talk to them.  But after studying this song, I have a new perspective on how the Savior sees people.

va. 1 "A Poor wayfaring man of grief hath often crossed me on my way." That part is really clear that there is always someone in our lives who is in need of help, or is suffering in some way. As the song goes on, it talks about this man he finds.  Every time he helps him, he gets helped.   When he got the man a drink of water, it says that he then "never thirsted more."

In vs 5, he healed the sick person, "I had myself a wound concealed, but from that hour I forgot the mark, and the peace bound up my broken heart." The majority of the time when you help somebody, it's really because you need something.  We're all sick in one way or another, and we all need some form of spiritual healing.  Whether it is to forgive someone, to forget the past, or forget some mistake we've made, or a relationship that is struggling.  We all have some mark that is hidden, and we all need that spiritual help that we receive when we help to heal somebody else.

In vs. 6 "He asked if I for him would die."  Are you really ready to die for him?? Maybe a lot of people would quickly say yes.  But when he comes to you on three street, or your back porch, or when your kid comes up to you... are you ready to do it--For anyone, if it means you are doing it for the Savior?  That really made me stop and think--for anyone??

In vs. 7 "The stranger started from disguise."  That part is really true.  "The tokens in his hands I knew; The Savior stood before mine eyes." He's in disguise everywhere you go--every person you talk to, the Savior is there.  The commandment is simply to come here to earth to learn, to remember Him.  Every person that makes you mad gives you the challenge to forgive.  The Savior is always on the other side.  The challenge is to forget the person in front of you, and see past their imperfections, and see the Savior standing there behind them--see the hope He has in that person, the light He has given to that person, feel the love He has for that person.  In the end, you are helping Him.   It is the same man, everywhere you go.  It's the same help He needs from you, that He is going to give to you.

When it says, "He spake and my poor name he named, 'Of me thou hast not been ashamed. These deeds shall thy memorial be; Fear not, thou didst them unto me.'" We really have to look, find, and see that the person next to you is the Savior.  If you see people that way, you will never go without what you need. If you wake up everyday and treat people like the Savior, you will heal your spiritual wounds.  Everyone needs healing.  But you'll never be healed focusing only on your own wounds. We have to find the Savior in everyone, and in doing it, we will be healed.

At the bottom, it states that this hymn was written for the prophet Joseph Smith.  They sang it while they were in the prison.  It was the last song he sung.  When I read that, it really touched me.  We can all look everyday for help from the Savior, but that help usually comes from the person right by us, the one that is probably the hardest to love.  You know who that person is.  As soon as you read this, a name popped into your head, it's there right now.  Think of that person.  Think that the Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief is right behind those eyes. God's invitation is that you look for that person.  If you can learn to love the Savior that is behind him, then you have done your work.

Serve every person you meet.  Love them like the Savior would. Don't just love your neighbor as yourself, love them like the Savior.  You should love them more than yourself.

Hope you guys can give it some thought.  He's always there, you just have to look.

Voice Recording #2To answer some questions

Hey Mom, I'm super excited to read about your service opportunities this week.  You've always been such a great example of service, my whole life.  Thank you.

I'm really excited about Brinley's awesome costume for career day--CIA Spy.  Ha!
Sometimes we joke and tell people here that we are from the CIA--because we look like it, two white American's in white shirts and ties. Sometimes we'll just say, "It's us."  But sometimes we like to tease them.

I finally figured out that here in the mission, I have lost all of my muscle strength.  I haven't gained weight, but I'm not very strong.  We walk all the time, but we sit and study, or sit and teach.

I'm happy to hear that you were able to help with the ward baptism.  I can't believe that the whole zone went to the baptism, and the mission president?!  That's crazy.  I told that to my companion, and we both laughed.  That would never happen here.  It's just so different.

We live in a house made of cement.  We have metal beds.  We make our own breakfast and our own lunch.  Then we eat at Sister Lurda's house.  She's a really old lady, almost like a pioneer here in Colombia.  She's been a member for 38 years.  That's a long time for our area and these people.  She's a real trooper.  I'll try to take some pictures of our house next week.

Traffic and houses are very different here than the states.  But life is pretty much the same, eat-sleep-walk-live. It's pretty good.

I hope you guys are doing good.  I hope you have a great week.  Maybe some of the people over there can make time to write me... At least I have Mom.

Love you Mom!  You're the best!

Elder Burk

We had Family Home Evening with the Gonzales Family
Elder Burk and Elder Selman in Valledupar, Colombia
We took a hike as a zone activity today up a hill.  
Our hike led to the top of the will where we found this black Jesus.
Our zone

May 23, 2016

May 23, 2016

Voice Recordings #1:

Hey Mom, It sounds pretty crazy that they changed the ward boundaries.  I was reading your letter.  It sounds like they divided the ward but there are still a lot of people. That's a pretty big ward.  Here in the coast, I don't think there is any ward with more than 220 going to church.  In fact, 220 is the max, probably the biggest ward. 520 sounds crazy!  How weird that all of the young men's leaders went to the other ward.  That's cool and sad all at the same time.  And, where's Mason creek? I've never heard of that before, is that a new neighborhood?  I know we have Nickel Creek and Bishop's street with a couple of creeks...I can't remember the name (Bittercreek, Daisy Creek), but I've never heard of Mason Creek.  That's kind of funny. Too bad I can't be in that ward. Ha!

This week was pretty good.  We've been working a lot with a great family.  The father is named Dairo Mendoza, and his wife Anyela.  He was a less active member on our ward list, and she is a new  investigator.  Their family has been progressing really well.  They've come to church the last two weeks.  Anyela has been reading the Book of Mormon a lot and asking about the BofM in her prayers.  Every lesson has been really awesome.  We have been working on getting them friends in the ward.  This week we had a FHE on Friday with another family that just got sealed in the ward. We talked about families, temples, eternal marriage, and they both got super excited.  We are going to try to get them to another FHE and do all we can to help her keep progressing.  We are working toward her baptismal date.  If they can get married in time, they can get baptized the 28th of next month.  They are our big goal this transfer.

We went with the Elder's Quorum President to their house this week, and he got really excited about Dairo.  We were on divisions, and when we walked out of their house, he said to me, "That looks like my next 1st counselor.  We've got to get him activated!"  He was super excited.

This week, while we were sitting in Sacrament Meeting, there was a talk that someone gave that had a really cool story.  I thought I would share it with you guys.  

It was about a man that lived in the time of the Savior. He heard that the Savior had come, and that he was living in Jerusalem.  The man decided that what he wanted to do was to go and see the Savior.  So he left his house and started down the road.  Along the way, he found out that one of his friends had been put in prison.  So he decided to take a little detour to a neighboring town, and stop to see his friend.  After visiting him, he headed on down the road, toward Jerusalem.  Soon he got word that his family was in trouble, they were out of food, and starving.  So he decided to go find his family and help them.  He found food, he found clothes for them, and he helped them get what they need.  

Along the road further, he found another friend in need, and decided to stop and help.  As he was nearing the end of his journey, he got word that the Savior had been crucified, and had died.  He was so close to seeing him, and now he was too late.  So he sat down on the road and began to cry.  It had been his goal, to get to Jerusalem to see the Savior, and now he was too late. It was his life goal to see the Savior and thank him for what he had done.  His dream was crushed.  

As he was crying on the side of the road,  he heard a voice say, "Thank you."  He looked up and saw no one.  But he heard the voice again say, "Thank you for coming to me when I was in prison.  Thank you for feeding me when I was hungry.  Thank you for clothing me when I was naked.  Thank you for helping me in my time of need."  He asked the voice who it was, and it responded as the Savior. 

It teaches us in Luke--"As much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Sometimes in this life we go looking for things that are grand or far away for service, because we feel like we have to do something big.  But the Lord has blessed everyone with his own house, his own family, his own church, and there are ways to serve right where you are--because that's where God needs you. God puts us in our families because we need one another.  And he puts us in the area we are in, because that is where we need to serve.  Every place has it's own needs, it's own problems.  We just need to look and see what's around us.  We don't have to go far to find ways to serve, and people who need us. We can start with our own house, our own ward, and find ways to help.  God even has work for us to do in our own tiny ward boundaries.  There are still people who need the gospel, who need our help.  If we decide to work where we are at, we can serve the Lord.  There's no greater work then service.  The grass is never greener on the other side of the fence. God has put you where you are for a reason.

Mom, you have always found ways to serve people that are around you.  You have always been a great example of service.  Thank you so much for that example.  I hope you guys will reach out and find those who still need to hear the gospel.  They are all around you.  God works in tiny ways, always pay attention.

Let me know about all the changes that take place with the new Mason Creek Ward.  That's still crazy.

I sure love you guys.  I hope you have a great week.

Elder Burk

Voice Recordings #2:

Hey, so here's another story from this week. We've been teaching a family we found from the ward list.  We've been working hard to comb through our big huge ward list.  We went to Loperana, where the sisters are serving.  They have been having a lot of trouble finding people to teach, so we took out their ward list and decided to help them.  We decided to do an "invasion."  All the missionaries that are serving in the whole stake came to their area with a bunch of youth, and a bunch of members from their ward, and the sisters divided up the ward list into sections with a bunch of addresses and directions.  For the whole day, we all went to look up a bunch of people.  We had a lot of success with that.  It was awesome!

We have been doing the same thing in our own ward, finding lost people from the ward list.  We found a family named, Ayala.  There is a boy named Harold-18, he's super awesome. The first time we went there, we stood in the doorway and both Harold and his sister saw us and smiled really big.  so we said, "Can we come in?" The missionaries had baptized their older sister years ago, so they recognized us, and knew we were from the church.

Since that first visit, Harold has been progressing a ton!  It's like he has a big sticker on his forehead that says, "Baptize me!"  He does whatever we tell him to do.  We say, read the Book of Mormon, and he does.  He has completed every single homework assignment we have given him. He was come to church twice now.  And this week we have gone over there with different members.  Harold is a really amazing artist.  There is another artist in the ward, the Young Men's President. His name is Melvin Lance.  He's actually a professional artist.  So we took him to meet Harold.  He invited him to lunch today to see his office.

We also invited Harold to the single's ward dance.  They did something really funny.  Everyone had to wear a certain color t-shirt to the dance.  Green if you're single, Yellow if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, and Red if you're engaged or married.  We invited him to go, and we tried really hard to get a friend to take him.  There's a returned missionary that is really cool.  She got back 5-6 years ago from her mission, and is engaged, but her boyfriend lives in Bogota.  He actually served his mission here.  Anyway, since she has time, she helps us visit people.  So she took Harold to the single's dance. Ha!  He also went to the last YMs activity, and church.  And we'll be doing a FHE activity with him tomorrow.  He's progressing a ton, and doing so well.  The Lord always works in tiny ways.  If we follow the little promptings, we always find the people who are ready and prepared.

Sure love you!  Hope you have a great week!


Monday, May 16, 2016

Effective teaching is when you live what you preach


This is a Guanavana, my favorite fruit!
This week we have been really encouraging all the Missionaries to print out their complete ward lists.  They are so big, they have to go get them printed.  It is the best way to find people.  Talking to people in the street is not very effective. You can do it, but only 3 out of 5 people let you into their house to teach them, and only 1 out of 10 people will accept your invitation to come to church.  It's not very effective.  So we found that by combing through the ward list, you will find people that are familiar or have heard of the church and will be interested in our message about Jesus Christ and the restoration of his church.

This week we had a really cool experience finding and teaching someone by using the ward list.  We chose a random name and address on the list and went to visit them.  The name on the list was no longer living at that address, but their extended family was there.  The sister to the member on the list is named Annie, and the brother is named Harold, and some of their kids were all there--very smiley, super awesome!  We went  up to the door and said, "Buenas!"  They invited us to come in and sit down.  Many of them knew all about the LDS missionaries, and some said they had gone to church as younger children with their sister before she moved out.

So we sit down, teach, we give them a Book of Mormon, then we ask them if they will come to church on Sunday.  They all say yes.  We ask them if they would like to get baptized, and they say yes.  Then we tell them we'll be back to visit.  So we pass by their house later that week to see if they had read the things we had assigned them, and they said yes!  So we said, will you be at church tomorrow, and they said, of course!  So we go to church, and there they are!  They really came to church.  It's every missionary's dream--like they have a sticker on their forehead that says, teach me!

Now we're planning to go over to their house tonight for Family Home Evening.  It was really awesome.  Using the ward lists is awesome.  We feel like using them was pretty much direct inspiration.  Now we have the whole zone working on their ward lists, and searching for all of the people that need to be found or taught.  Those are the blessings of doing the right thing.

I've noticed that all of the best training we do on the mission come from things we are doing in our own area.  I've learned that if you haven't tried doing something, you shouldn't teach it.  You can't go tell someone to clean their house, if your house is a pigsty.  It just doesn't work that way.  The most effective teaching is when you live what you preach.  We hope all the missionaries can have similar experiences.

This week I was trying to write in my journal a little bit more, well kind of...  Ha. But we're so busy!  This week we had transfers.  That means we had to wake up at 2:00 in the morning, go find everyone at the bus terminal, pick up all the missionaries and get them delivered to their new companions.  So we didn't sleep very much.

We had a great Zone Meeting this week.  President wants us to focus on the Book of Mormon.  We started the meeting with prayer, and all the usual business.  Then usually you end up teaching something, then demonstrating it, then everyone practices or role plays how to do it.

But this time we had everyone pull out their scriptures and start with practicing.  We assigned people to be missionaries, sand ome to be investigators. We wrote down some of the doubts that people have about the church when we are teaching them.  Then we just said, ready-set-go!
Everyone looked at us a little weird, like what is going on?  Aren't you going to show us what to do? Everyone tried to role play, the investigators were great, saying all the things they didn't understand about our religion.  The missionaries tried to answer the questions as best as they could, using scriptures, trying to prove a point.  But it became a battle of who's right and who's wrong.
At the end we asked everyone how they felt.  Most of them felt not so great.  No one likes to Bible bash.  And the truth is, it gets you know where.  In Colombia that the missionaries know more about the scriptures than the people do anyway, so that's not even a fun competition.  We always have answers.  But we didn't have the spirit.  So it felt yucky.

Then we turned to the Book of Mormon.  Elder Selman asked Elder Kletsey--he's the really tall missionary that plays basketball, "If someone offers you tea, why don't you drink it?"  He said, "Because it's a commandment and I feel bad when I break a commandment."  That was a really good answer!  He was exactly right.

A lot of times we teach things by saying the excuse first--like not drinking alcohol is good for your health.  It's not really about your health.  That's not the reason you refuse a drink. The real reason is because it's being obedient to what God has asked us to do.  It's about testimony. The truth is, if you have one beer, or one cup of coffee, you're not going to die.   We taught the missionaries that we need to start answering people with real answers, and stating what we believe--bearing our testimonies of truth.  We know the Word of Wisdom is a real commandment of God, because we know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.  And we know that he was a prophet because we have read the Book of Mormon and asked God if it was true.  That is where a testimony comes from.

We talked a lot about how our job as missionaries is to get people from their doubts, which is like the fruits at the top of the tree, and move them to the trunk which is like Joseph Smith, then move them to the roots which is the Book of Mormon.  By the end of the meeting all the missionaries were doing it right, being more bold, and answering questions with statements of truth.  They took the investigator from where their doubts were, to the roots where the Book of Mormon states truth. It was really great seeing it all come together.

An example of what we were teaching happened this week with Daria, the guy we found a few weeks ago from Inspired Hunger.  He said his wife had some doubts.  Her name is Anyela.  She didn't want to listen to us the first 2 times we were there.  By the third visit, she started asking us questions about strange things she found on the internet.  We just listened.  Then we asked her if we could say a prayer.  After the prayer,  instead of debating about all of the little details that were not true, we started reading the Book of Mormon with her, telling her about how the church started with Joseph Smith and the Restoration.  Soon she was feeling the spirit, and was really liking what she was learning.

...and that's where the recording cut off, so the rest will have to be left up to your imagination...

We played futbol on a full field!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 6 v 7 hahaha  
We ran so much and everyone was dead afterwards but it felt so good!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This week was pretty good

Elder Burk, Elder Lund, and Elder Selman with their Zone in Valledupar
This week was pretty good.  It was so good to talk to you guys on Mother's Day! I hope you guys will start inviting people over on Sundays and to church. Always be looking for people you can invite.

This week we had a mission Leadership Conference.  Usually only the Zone Leaders attend, but this time it was for both the District Leaders and Zone Leaders.  I saw past companions and friends--Elder
Chaves and Elder Mejia, he's from Guatemala.  Elder Chaves told me that he has been struggling with 2 people we had found and taught when we were together in La Playa.  I had taught them all of the missionary lessons, and they had read the Book of Momron all the way to 3rd Nephi before I was transferred.  They were so close to being ready for baptism. They're only hold up was getting married. While we were at conference, I asked him how they were doing, and he pulled out the birth certificate of the spouse, Joel.  He and Sara haven't gotten married because they didn't have the correct paperwork notarized and couldn't get to the correct town to register so they could officially marry.  So I took a picture of the birth certificate.  Then I asked President if we could have his permission to stop at the town on our way home where the notary was, Bosconia. He said yes.

So after the conference, we got on the charter bus, and headed home.  Pretty soon we saw the right town where their paperwork needed to be submitted.  Normally the charter busses will not stop, but we went ahead and asked the bus driver if he would stop for us, and surprisingly, he said yes! So we got off and went into Bosconia to find the notary.  We ended up having to go to two notaries.  It was a small town that has never had or seen LDS missionaries there before.  So everyone was looking at us, wondering who these two white guys were walking around in shirt and ties.  Everyone seemed very cold.  Usually, when we walk through the streets of town, everyone waves and talks, if we say hi, they say hi back to us. But here we were not familiar or liked.  Thankfully, we found  the notary, found their name, got the paperwork notarized, then put it in an envelope, stamped it and sent it back to them.  Hopefully, now they can get married and baptized.  Everything seemed to fall into place. We were pretty excited about that!

This week one of the people we are teaching is named, Daria.  He is the less active that we contacted by Inspired hunger.  We were on our way to a FHE, and we felt hungry, so we stopped at a bread shop.  Elder Lund and I told our companion that we were having inspired hunger.  Elder Selman said that there was no such thing.  But we went there and started eating bread. Then Daria walked up to us and said he was an inactive member, and asked us if we could come to his home to visit him and teach his family.  So we did!  We found their house, we started teaching them, and it has been awesome. This week we taught them about the Restoration of the gospel and the Book of Mormon.  His wife has her own church, and was pretty skeptical about what we were all about, so she had looked up a lot of things about the church, and had questions.  We decided the best place to start was to teach her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.  Now she is doing great, learning so much, and interested in what we are teaching.

This week, Daria told us that since we have been coming to visit him, for the past two weeks, he has been making a lot of positive changes in his life.  He has stopped drinking coffee, tea, & alcohol, things he has been trying to do for a long time but has struggled to do successfully on his own.  As soon as we started teaching him, he said he finally had the strength to do it.  He said his wife has been  mad at him a lot.  But now is finally able to walking away from things he knows are bad.   Sunday was Stake conference and he came.  His wife was not able to come, but hopefully will soon.

We got transfers today.  Elder Lund is going to Soledad to be a Zone Leader.  He has served there before for a half transfer, just three weeks.  He is excited to go back. Elder Selman and I will be staying here together in Valledupar.

Look for people to teach, look for people you can invite to hear the gospel.  I hope you have a great week.

Love you guys!
Elder Burk
Elder  , Elder Burk, Elder Crozoo, Elder Selman, Elder Muroz Elder Puchoc
Look who I found, Elder Clinger!  The long lost brother Carl!
Tell Sis Clinger that he's on a mission. She'll be so happy.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

We had Inspired Hunger

Monday, May 2, 2016

This week was pretty interesting.  We started off last Monday, after we wrote home, two returned missionaries came back from Utah and Colorado, Tim House and Tom Cook, to visit their mission.  They visited us and told us about the area, what they have done since the mission, and it was really interesting to talk to them.  It was great to hear how the mission helped them.

Thursday, we woke up and we didn't have any water in our house.  Nothing.  We had no way to shower.  So we decided we would just get dressed and head outside to work anyway.  We left the apartment at our usual time and started working.  At about 4:30 pm, God decided we did need a shower after all.  And the heavens opened, and there was a ton of rain.  He dumped crazy rain on us.  Everywhere we went the roads were filled with water, it was up to our shins.  It came down super hard and really fast. There was no water, then all of a sudden there was a ton, buckets of water everywhere.  Elder Lund decided to be really smart and asked a member for some shampoo.  He started rubbing it in his hair and washing his hair.  So yeah, we did take a shower in the street.  We still had muddy water in our shoes and pants and everywhere, which was not helpful, but it was awesome!

I got a letter from Freddy Torres in La Playa.  He just received the Priesthood and his whole family got baptized!  His wife started to understand the gospel and read the Book of Mormon.  We were so happy for him.

This week there was a big festival, a lot of partying going on, a big music festival, so sadly not very many people came to church.  One less active came.  We met him when we were walking by a bread store on our way to a Family Home Evening.  We had some inspired hunger, so we stopped to eat bread. Once brother named Dido, a less active member of church, was there. He talked to us and said he wanted to come back to church again.  So we went to his house to visit.  His family is are not members.  But he has been coming all by himself and is working to make some good changes to get back on his feet and start doing what he is supposed to do.

We helped some missionaries fix some water issues at their house.  We worked with the owner of the house and the neighbors.

Oh yeah, we did a free cool service project this week.  We were riding in a taxi and it died.  Totally stopped working. We had to push start it.  So we got out of the car and told him we would help him get it started again.  He have a us a weird look and said, "What? How will that work?" Then he said that was embarrassing.  So we got out and told him that if we pushed the car really fast, he could push it into gear and it would start.   So we push it a couple of times and he jams it into gear, and it doesn't work.  So he asks us, what do I do?  Finally Elder Selman goes over, leans in through the window and has to show him how to shift it into 2nd so it will start and keep going.  We're in the middle of a busy intersection, and all these people are watching us.  We were probably quite a spectacle--three white missionaries pushing a taxi.  We told him we would do it again, but when it started to just keep on driving and just leave us behind.  We knew if he stopped to wait for us, it would just die again.  He finally got it, and off he went.  Hopefully he got to wherever he needed to go.

Well, that's about it. Elder Selman says he loves you.  Elder Lund does too.
Hope you guys are great. See you next week.

Elder Burk
This is really gross fruit.  It smells like feet.
Elder Lund thinks it tastes good in juice.
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From: TORRES FREDY torrefredy@hotmail.com > 
Subject: HELLO, HI !!!!! ELDER BURK! 

Hello Burk Elder Brother.
My pleasure to tell you that today I received the Aaronic priesthood in the office of Priest and Sister Esperanza my family, my wife, and my son Alan Joseph baptized in the Church also on this date.
We are very happy and full of enjoy reminding course as always in the company of Elders, Missionaries Mejia Chaves and those charged with mission beach area, a place that you know inhabit.
We are grateful for your missionary participation in the results of my Baptism and my family because we could finally win the battle against the enemy!
Chaves Elder tells me not to write more, which incidentally is present here accompanied by Elder laughing Mejia has even more enormous laughter.
My family miss you and we renew our affection and gratitude.
Hug,
Your brother.
FREDDY TORRES MARTIN VERGARA
Mobile 313 595 5363
Fixed: 3599012
Calle 11 No. 24-05 UrbanizaciĆ³n La Playa
BARRANQUILLA SPECIAL INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT AND PORT
COLOMBIA - SOUTH AMERICA.
(PLANET EARTH - MILKY WAY.) 
Fredy and his family got baptized and he baptized them.
Melissa's husband, Mauricio, got baptize.