Monday, November 11, 2013

Mixed Feelings

I am not sure exactly what to write home this last time. I have never been so torn up inside about such a change in my life. I am definitley excited to see the family again and I can't wait to apply all these things I have learned, but this is going to be a hard thing to leave behind. This last transfer has definitley been a learning experience. I had to really learn how to apply everything good I had learned from such great Raleigh leaders and then do my best to not step on Richmond toes and try to help them see some of the good from it and also remember to learn from them. It was quite the experience that I will forever be grateful for. I lucked out with a great last companion that was humble and willing to learn and improve. There seems to still be a lot of other issues out here, but I feel that I did what I was supposed to here and it is a satisfying feeling. I can't believe that tomorrow morning I am flying home to start a new life. To be honest I don't know what I'm going to do exactly, but I know I'll be in good hands. I have really grown to love the people of North Carolina and everyone else I came in contact with. My companions, church leaders, the food, the accent, the schedule, the work, the lack of sleep, the awkward moments with strangers, the revelation, the spirit, the crazy animals, the humidity, southern hospitality, and just every other adventure that comes along with this two years will be a part of the past that has molded me into who I am now and I am going to miss it sorely. I have worked hard and I am so grateful for what the Lord has done for me in the last two years. It defintely feels like it has only been a couple months at most, but what has been learned and what has been taken into my heart is numberless. It amazes me how this period of two years will be a huge part of me and the rest of the missionaries in the world forever, and yet only we as members of the church that have served will understand the depth of that effect. I can't show enough gratitude for this experience and yet the rest of the world looks and thinks I just went and did some good stuff and got to learn a new language. Oh if only they knew! Well I have served the Lord here in the South and saw lots of things and felt lots of things. I have worked hard and I guess as we all know there is a time and a season for everything. On to the next part I go. Hasta manana!!!!
 
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Last Days in Elizabeth City



 My companion and I with Pedro, a strong hispanic member in Elizabeth City



  one of my last meals which was chicken feet




  My last district meeting in E.C.




My last sunday in E.C. with all the Hispanic members in gospel principles.
  The Begazo family in my last area, E.C.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best week ever!



Well family of mine I don't actually know if I will have time to email next Monday. It looks like the schedule will be as follows: This week up until Monday will be work as hard as you can for everything you're worth. Then come Monday morning I must have everything prepared to be picked up and carried to the mission home for a final interview and a testimony meeting with the other dying missionaries. I think that won't be until around 3ish though so I may email one last time after this. Anyway, after the testimony meeting and a dinner provided by Pres. Baker we will be taken to a hotel to spend the night and then they ship me off to Norfolk the next morning to start my long journey back to California. This is going to be a crazy week. I pray I have the energy to get everything I want to get done in time.
This past week we had a great week full of feeling the spirit. Really that is what this is all about. Anyway we had decided to stretch out a bit and we went out to Nagshead in the outer banks because the sisters had been holding out on us and just now gave us an entire area book full of Hispanic potentials that are in their area. Well we decided that we were going to see what we could do about that. We took an entire day and thankfully it was saturday so we got to start our fast that day and skip dinner so we could talk to every single person and their dog. The best part was we were able to visit some inactive members their as well because they have been starved for so long from having Spanish speaking missionaries in the area that they never get visited, so when we showed up at the door and greeted them with an "Hola" they about cried and started to worship us. It felt so good to be loved by these people who just want to be able to worship in their native language. The ward they live in doesn't have any translation whatsoever so they just don't go because they feel guilty going and falling asleep or being sidetracked the whole time because they don't know what's going on. It was such a great feeling to see them get excited that Spanish speaking missionaries actually cared to visit them even though we live far away. This definitely added a lot to our work load and limited mileage, but we are excited to help serve these people the best we can. It was just a great week full of the Lord's work.
This Sunday was also very spiritually uplifting. We had a lot of new faces show up and we heard some great testimonies. One of the Hispanic men in the ward brought his kids for the first time and we hope to be teaching them soon. He went through a huge battle to get custody of them and bring them back here from Utah. But he felt prompted yesterday to get up and bear his testimony for his kids to know that he loves them and he loves the gospel. Of course it was all in Spanish and of course he asked me to translate for him up at the pulpit. Translating in front of a large group of people is always nerve racking, but it went really well and it was very powerful. This also gave me the opportunity to stay up at the pulpit and bear my last testimony in the ward. I wasn't necessarily expecting to because I'm always locked up behind another door translating everyone's testimonies into Spanish, but the Lord gave me this chance and I took. There is nothing more fulfilling than bearing down in pure testimony. I even got a little choked up. Well after the meeting this led to the members complementing my translating skills as well as asking about all that trunky stuff that is about to happen. We even had more families sign up on the meal calendar than normal. That was unexpected, but its about time we got new people on the calendar. :)
Anyway we have had quite the amazing week and I am excited for what comes this week, We saw a lot of miracles and I have faith that more are on the way. Stay strong my family. I love you all and yes I am excited to come home and see you all again.
I hope to be able to email one last time next week so if I do need anything specific or have more details to tell you hopefully I will know by then. For now I can't think of anything specific and I will be sending some more packages so they will go to McHenry. I love you all very much and keep me in your prayers to stay focused and have the best week ever here in Elizabeth City. Hast Luego!!!
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham
P.S. The picture is out the window of our car on the way to a missionary meeting we had. Fall is here and it is the best season out here in the south.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Time is a tickin'

So will yall still love me if I return home sick? My companion and one other elder here in the house got me sick and I am praying it lasts no longer than a couple of days. I have been pushing myself to get out and work harder, to exercise more, to be more bold, to do everything at a faster speed and with more power. I remember Wilson use to always tell me that when you get sick just sweat it out and that will make things better. Well Wilson I am taking your council to heart. I am pushing it to the limit. This week we had interviews with the President and it was actually quite an odd experience. I personally didn't come out of my interview feeling loved or uplifted or inspired at all. It was odd especially at this age in the mission. Anyway after reflecting over that 20 minute exchange we had for the rest of the day and week I finally figured it out thanks to the help of some divine guidance I believe. President Baker knew what he was going to do with me. He planned to kick my butt in there and make sure I didn't feel like I could just coast the rest of the few weeks I have because he praised me for doing a good job or anything. It was really rough at first, but whether I'm interpreting this right or not, that is how I'm going to take it. I'm grateful for the one piece of advice he said he could give me. He told me all the council he had for me that day was to stay humble. That is all he left me with on my last interview with the president. I guess all I can do is take it to heart and make things happen. This last transfer has been crazy because of a lack of desire I have seen in a lot of missionaries here in my zone. There seems to be a sense of complacency and unfortunately it has been huge in our zone leaders who need to lead us along. I have struggled long and hard since the mission split trying to help my companions continue to live a higher law and remember that change is always going to happen whether we like it or not, so let's like it and make it happen. Getting distracted isn't on the menu right now, because of all the work that still needs to be done.
Other than that big item we have had a good week. We have more and more potential every day. We are looking into new areas and doing new things to get the ball rolling. The Hispanic group in this ward need a lot of work. Oh I met a guy this last week while on an exchange that had the last name Burnham. Best part was that he was a big black guy! I knew we were related as soon as I met him. ;) Well I hope all is well over there in the west. Let Diane know she is in my prayers and I hope things go well for her. Time is a tickin'.
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham
Oh hey the pics are of last preparation day. We went to the Wright Brothers memorial and the sight of the first flight. To be honest it wasn't as spectacular as we all hoped. But at least I can say I have been there and how grateful I am for there desire to do such a big thing that has changed our world.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Great Birthday

It really was a great birthday my friends and family. Thank you so much for all the messages and love that were sent my way. I have truly been blessed with a great amount of people in my life that love me. My birthday consisted of a wonderful training that the missionaries headed in our ward council that morning, translating an intense talk about ordinances that we make, teaching the Spanish member's class, and eating some delicious cheesecake that a Sister in the ward made me. The day started out really well. It ended a little odd with seeing one of our investigators stumble around from being super drunk, but all in all we made it a great Sabbath day. To be honest this week was a growing week for the two of us. We were happy as we could be even through the all the hardships that came our way. Elder Merkley is such an optimistic upbeat missionary and we get along super well. We could both get hit by cars and be paralyzed for the rest of our lives and still have a good time being missionaries together. We just work well together.
Anyway I just wanted to let y'all know that I love you and I am extremely grateful for all the love that I have felt from friends and family back at home. I can honestly see the blessing of happiness that the gospel brings to a family even from this far away. It is awesome to know that I can strongly testify of the knowledge that this gives me as I talk with people everyday about the family.
So I have all these goodies to eat now and I have really been trying to work hard at staying skinny, but this is going to kill me. I am glad to have two other elders here living with us so I can share the fatness. We as missionaries certainly rejoice in the fatness.
Sara, I love you to death as well and I am super happy to hear your doing good and trying not to stress out. Your make me laugh every time I read your letters. Make sure to give Ben a great big hug for me and tell him I love him. He seems to have definitely grown a ton. I can't wait to talk with him again when I get back. We have a lot to discuss.
Jenni, I shared with my companion the part of your email where Landon had to dance every time a good song came on because that is exactly how my companion is. Landon gets more and more studly everyday I'm sure. I am excited to see those munchkins again. Thanks for the pretty calabasitas and the drawings y'all sent. I am looking forward to seeing the family again and having some good times.
Well this next week is going to be a better week than this last one because we have more work to get done. Quoting a wise younger brother, "not a second wasted". I love you all and hope the wedding and all the other Utah stuff that you will do is a blast. Tell Eric congrats for me.
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham