Monday, September 24, 2012

Study and Keep the Faith

It was really good to hear some names and experiences from the mission, Mom. In fact there is a Villalobos family here in Mt. Olive that is inactive. I am pretty sure they are from Mexico though. Who knows they could be related. I'll have to ask if they have any family in Chile. For some reason when I picture you as a missionary having those experiences you were talking about I just see and remember the things that Brianne did. In fact I can see it right now, young Sister Brianne Burnham going with the young women to tract. I am very blessed to have so many missionaries in my family. I honestly can say that I wish you had shared more of those real action missionary experiences that you had. Sure it is always super amazing to hear what Dad did in Bolivia and how crazy it got, but now that I'm a southerner and I know how real missionary work is, it would have been good to hear those stories you have.
Also I don't know what got you on to the path of my future wife and stuff like that, but I still have time for that remember. Girls have cooties and I am to keep a good distance from those things. it is fun to hear your real thoughts on things though. It is also kind of strange to see how you talk about things to me as I get older. I have a feeling that near the end of my mission you are going to be super trunky. :) We'll see. I love you. 
Okay so this week has been the roughest week on my mission. Literally every single appointment we set up fell through. We had about 10 lessons lined up this week and sure some weren't as solid as others, but even the ones we were certain were progressing canceled. I can't tell you why. It has been the most frustrating week ever. We did gain quite a bit of member trust through dinner appointments because those were the only appointments that didn't fall through, but that was it. All I know is that my studies and work this next week is going to be doubled because I can't stand investigators that don't keep commitments. Also a happy missionary is a missionary that teaches, and because everything fell through I didn't get to teach, therefore I wasn't happy. I am slowly starting to build faith in the principle of dropping. It was hard at the start of my mission, but I have to realize that if I can have the faith to sacrifice something then the Lord will bless me. So in this case if I can have the faith to drop an investigator that doesn't want to progress than the Lord will guide me to someone who is being prepared. Also I had to learn that sometimes dropping an investigator can help them out for the future. I just have to have more faith I guess is the lesson I learned this week. This may be the last week for me in Mt. Olive, but I am going to go out with a bang if it is. 
Well I love you all very much and I wish I had more to tell you, but it was a rough week so not much happened. I was super thrilled when Aunt Laurie sent a package with goodies in it. That definitely made the week a little easier. Also I hear she has a man. What the...!? Things are changing and it is really fun to see. I love being a missionary. I don't know that I have her email address, but I know you send this to her so I hope she knows I love her and I'll do my best to snail mail her when I can.
Hey this Sunday I saw a baptist church sign with this on it, CH_ _ RH, what is missing? U R. Get it? :) These southerners sure are clever.
Well thanks for everything. Keep the love coming.
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Keep Your Head UP

Well miracles sure are happening, but the large ones don't happen enough it seems like. I have been kind of stumped this week. That miracle man from last week didn't come to church this week and in fact we still haven't had any contact with him since then. Also our investigators, Edgar and Bilma, have told us that they feel the spirit stronger in their own church and she doesn't want to get baptized into a church she might end up leaving. It was really stressful. I have really grown to love this couple and now they are saying that even though they believe what we have taught them is true, they still don't feel the spirit as strong. Now, I'm 100% positive it is a smokescreen and I'm also positive the issue is they are Spanish and they don't feel at all welcome in the ward. Fellowshipping is really a problem here. Yes, I can understand the language barrier excuse in other cases, but Edgar and Bilma speak perfect English. I just don't know what to do. Missionaries can only fellowship so far and we get moved around too much anyway. We haven't completely given them up yet, but their progression has begun to slow down so we will see how much longer we hold on to them. We definitely hope and pray that things will spark up again with them and they will realize that if without friends the truth is necessary. 
Well besides that bummer, we have done a lot more finding lately. We have seen a lot of small miracles in just knocking on doors and meeting interested people. Hopefully some of these potenciales (potentials) will turn into strong seekers of truth. The work is going on and fast. This transfer is starting to come closer to the end and there is a possibility I may get transferred out of this area, but I pray that doesn't happen. 
Well I am excited to see how the ward changes for the better. Change can definitely be exciting. It will be kind of weird coming home to a slightly different crowd, but its all good. So yall have normal missionaries again? I have already made a goal to be the best exchange the elders back at home will ever have. They will love taking me out with them. Hopefully they are Spanish too.
Being a missionary there really isn't TOO blunt. You can talk about anything. A mission opens you up to anything and everything. When people are confessing sins to you, or telling you about horrible relationships, or crazy events in other peoples lives, you kind of just get exposed to everything and there really isn't anything like awkward or scary or nerve-racking anymore. Anyway you did not tell me I looked good in that picture I sent, but thanks anyway. The elders names are Elder Prisbrey, who is the skinny one wearing glasses, Elder Shirrod, the shorter one next to me, Superman (AKA Me), and Elder Goodwin, who is my companion. Being in a 4-man is super fun, and I probably won't know what to do when I go back to only living with one other elder. Um, yes I did get Dad's package. Thank you very much. I am always searching for new talks/stories/inspiring experiences that I can use. I have quite the collection now. The mission president is doing well. Not much has been changed except we can't go fishing with members anymore. His name is President Bernhisel and I have had a couple interviews with him and we get along just fine. He is a lot more laid back then President Cotterell, but he is so much more personable and easier to talk to. The mission is doing really well and right now the big thing going around is lift where you stand. President and all the missionaries are doing their best to help members understand this concept and really apply it in their lives. We hope to have much more member work through this idea. We'll see how that goes. 
Well that's about all i have for now. I sure hope everything is going well. Hey I attached another picture for you to see. We went to the temple this week and had a wonderful experience. It's weird going to the temple after having not gone for six months. That is something I have to be good at when I am home. Temple attendance is very important.     
Well I love you all very much. Keep up the good work. Oh hey one more thing mom. I was thinking about this the other day, but I remember as a kid we always heard stories about Dad's mission, but I can't remember anything about yours. I was just wondering if you have any amazing spiritual experiences that you could share from your mission?
Well I am excited to hear from yall next week. Keep up the good work.
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quick and Humble

Well to be honest I don't really have a ton to tell you all this week. We worked hard and we saw some finding miracles in that we were able to run into some people that just allowed us to go in and teach them. In fact one evening we were out trying to find some former investigators and to see how they would feel about us coming back and the first door we knocked on no one was home, but we went across the street where a little Hispanic kid was peeking at us through the curtains and when we knocked on the door the kid opened it for us and told us to come in and talk with his dad. Well we started talking with the dad about our message and the restoration and at first he was very apprehensive about the whole thing, because he was just baptized in another church about three weeks ago. Well we continued and read some chapters out of the Book of Mormon with him about prophets and about how there will be a lot of false doctrine in the last days and all that jazz and as we got deeper into it and actually read with him his interest level completely changed. He began to explain to us how a prophet from his church came to his congregation one day and began to preach about how Christ never did miracles and that miracles don't happen anymore. Well he was confused because he was an avid reader of the Bible and he knew that wasn't right, but he told us that since the guy was a "prophet" there was no way he was going to argue with him in front of everyone. Soooo it hit him in the perfect spot that the Book of Mormon must have something true and that there really is a ton of false doctrine out there and I think he really wants to know whether or not this book has the truth. Well at first he wouldn't accept to take a book and read it because he wanted to search in the Bible first for things we were saying, but we were able to leave him a copy and commit him to read it and come to church. Well the next Sunday we were supposed to see Edgar and Bilma at church, but they weren't able to make it for some odd reason, but unexpectedly this man and his three little kids came about halfway through sacrament meeting. One of the best surprises for sure. They even stayed for all three hours and the kids went to primary. It was a miracle for sure.
Other than that not much has happened. The other English elder that is here that has been out 18 months gave me a timeline i will start to see. 1-8 months you have greeny fire, you don't know very much, you get a lot of mail and you learn a ton really fast. 9-14 months are the toughest months of the mission, you start to mature more and you become more of a leader and gain more responsibility without completely knowing everything and mail kind of goes into a slump. 15-18 months you know a lot more and you get the hang of things, you work hard, and people start remembering you are still on a mission and mail begins to pick up. 19-24 months the mail starts slowing down again because people figure you will be home soon anyway, you have become a good leader and helpful and slowly the trunkiness sets in. No matter who you are it happens. So it looks like I am going to be into the hardest part of the mission and yes, the mail has slowed down. :( But it doesn't bother me. The important people are pretty consistent writers I guess. That is: Wilson, Russell, old companions, and the monthly ward update. I stay focused and the work gets done. So there is the update on me. The companion and I are getting along well. He is very much country boy and loves old western songs, movies, guns, clothes, anything western. So we don't really relate when it comes to music or fashion, but we do great with everything else. It seems like so far all my companions have had rough family lives. Whether it be a divorce or a death in the family, or sinning siblings, they all have families that are struggling with something. I sure hope that the Lord isn't preparing me for something in the future, but allowing me to recognize the blessing I have of a wonderful family that does what it is supposed too. Obviously we aren't perfect and don't have our problems, but I have been incredibly blessed with the family I have been a part of. I don't know exactly why I have the companions I have, but it has been great and I am definitely learning things from each of them, even if it is only patience. ;) I sure hope the family is doing well and I'm glad to hear that Ryan is excited for school and working hard, hopefully. Sara is being a missionary, Primary is slowly growing, and Brianne is working hard and Jenni is rounding out. :) Love ya all.
Well that is all I have for now. I love you all very much. Thanks for the support.
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

4 missionaries

This was probably some of the best emails ever. I am so happy to see how everyone is doing and how great the family is. First off Sara I am super excited to see how spanish goes. You should probably check your spelling though. :) Whenever you need help let me know. Just send me things that I can help you with. Oh and I love poptarts too. Especially as a missionary!
Ryan that is soooo exciting that the school countdown is coming quickly. You will have to explain more about what some of those classes mean. Also I want to know what your major is exactly. Do you already have an idea of the direction you want to go? I was talking to some elders out here about their experiences at BYUI and they said that the intramurals are super fun. So if you can't do wrestling get into basketball or football. Apparently they have intramural football with pads, so you can go dominate and relive the highschool glory days. :) With the 4-man we have right now we have been able to play more sports on p-day so I am getting pretty good at baseball. We don't play basketball because I already dominate there. They don't like to play what they aren't good at. :) Man, I'm super excited to see how school goes for you. Please give it 100% and don't slack on your studies. Sure I know the late nights and the freedom will be fun, but don't let anything keep you from doing homework and studying. Promise me that every morning you will read a little out of the BOM. That is the biggest tool to keep you on the right track and I will promise you that it will only help more in your academic studies as well. Love ya Brotha!
Mom, I definitely teared up to hear that Wilson went to church and bore his testimony. I knew he always would have one. He knows where the truth is. I am truly grateful to have a friend like him. And if Ryan can let him know that it would be wonderful. I just wrote him back yesterday, but I don't how the mail works for him and since he is moving soon I sure hope he gets it. Let him know I sent it to his Coronado address and if he doesn't receive it I'll write him again.
Well it sounds like life is going super well for you now that some weight has been lifted. I bet it will be nice to have a larger group in church now. So what is the missionary service looking like now? Did you get two youngsters again or still the elderly? It really is amazing to see how life is changing back at home. I never thought that when I got home that things would be all that different, but it has already changed so much and I am not even a year out yet. It's all exciting stuff though.
This week for us has been alright. The four of us are still working hard to rebuild everything which is a little tough, but the new leadership here is on fire. Did I tell you that Elder Adams from my MTC district is now my District Leader here. We got to go on exchanges this last week and teach like the good old times. It was a fun day for sure. Our investigators are still progressing, but no major movement this week. Since there are only a few active hispanics the work is tough especially when it comes to member support and help, but we are doing our best. Most of our days are full of finding wherever and whoever we can that is prepared by God to accept this message. So about politics: first when do we vote? Are you going to send me my absentee ballot sometime soon or what is the time on that? Um, most people here aren't happy that the DNC is here, but it doesn't get to them too bad because most of them go to Florida for the Republican convention. It's ridiculous how many people are so ready to get Obama out and far away. I have never heard so many death threats on one man. The south is not happy about what has taken place. They call him an enemy to this country. I am almost glad I only absentee vote and don't have to deal with knowing what is being said daily on the news and stuff. This is going to be the biggest election for this country. If yall could I would love to have some of the programs on it recorded for when I get home so I can see what is going to be huge history for my kids.
Well I love you all to death and I am so thankful for all that you do.
The church is true, the book is blue, and I'll see you in two.
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham
Elder Prisbrey, Elder Shirrod, Elder Sean Burnham, Elder Goodwin (Sean's Companion)

Spanish Letter

Ah mi familia, como estan. Les amo mucho. Estoy agradecido por todo que hacen. Es un poco diferente a ver esta cambia en el barrio, pero estoy animado para ver como esta con todo alla. Ojala la obra misional puede mejorar alla desde esta cambia.
Tambien estoy orando mucho por Papa para que el peuda tener exito con los nuevos miembros y trabaja tan duro para recibir el mismo amor de ellos como su otro obispo y lideres. Buena suerte Papa!
Pues esta semana pasada era interesante. Me gusta mucho tener cuatro en la casa porque yo puedo relajarme al fin del dia con los otros tres y todo de nosotros somos amigos ya. Mi companero nuevo se llama Elder Goodwin de Moreland Idaho y el solo tiene cinco meses aqui en la mision. Estoy "follow up training" a el. Significa que yo puedo destruir todo que su entrenador ha hecho o yo peudo fortalecerlo. El tiene 21 anos pero esta bien animado y tiene mucho fuego en su corazon. Ahora solamente estamos trabajando con los hispanos entonces hemos perdido mucho de nuestros investigadores pero yo pregunte al presidente para guardar Brenda como investigador y el me permito guardarla. Entonce estoy feliz que yo puedo continuar las lecciones con ella. Y ella esta progresando muy bien. Ojala ella va a bautizarse esta sabado. Vamos a confirmarlo hoy.
Pues, los otros elderes aqui con nosotros son Elder Shirrod de Mesa Arizon y el tiene 17 meses aqui en la mision y el esta el entrenador de Elder Prisbrey de Colorado. Elder Prisbrey es un poco differente pero el tiene muchas ganas por trabajar. La situacion en la casa es dificil ahora pero estamos trabjando con eso para limpiarlo. Yo no cocino mucho porque no me gusta una cocina sucia, y mi companero solamente cocina como hot dogs y otra comida sencilla. El companerizmo esta bien por ahora pero yo no creo que va a fallar. Trabajamos bien juntos y el esta bien humilde. Mas que yo. Vamos a aprender mucho de uno a otro. Yo voy a aprender paciencia y el va a aprender un poco mas espanol. Perdoneme por no poniendo accentos arriba de mis palabras pero no se como hacerlo. Es probable que esta carta va a ser un poco dificil a leer pero es un demostracion de lo que yo he aprendido y un examen por Papa.
No hemos tenido experiencias extraordinarias esta semana pasada pero hay diferencias y estoy animado para trabajar mas duro.
Entonces les quiero mucho. Siempre estoy orando por ustedes. Muchas gracias por todo.
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham
 Now here is his letter in English...
Ah my family, as they are. I love you very much. I am grateful for all they do. It's a little different to see this change in the neighborhood, but I am encouraged to see this with everything there. Hopefully missionary work can improve a lot from this change.
I am also praying much for Dad to succeed with new members and working so hard to get the same love for them as their bishop and other leaders. Good luck Dad!
Well this past week was interesting. I love to have four in the house because I can relax at the end of the day with the other three, and all of us are friends already. My new companion Elder Goodwin from Idaho Moreland and only five months here at the mission. I "follow up training" him. It means that I can destroy everything that his coach has done or I can strengthen it. He is 21 years old but is well animated and has a lot of fire in his heart. Now we are working only with Hispanics so we lost a lot of our investigators but I asked the President to save Brenda as a researcher and I would keep it. But I'm happy that I can continue with her lessons. And she is progressing very well. Hopefully she will be baptized this Saturday. We will confirm today.
Well, the other elders are here with us Shirrod Elder Board from Arizon is 17 months here on this mission and Prisbrey Elder Coach of Colorado. Elder Prisbrey is a bit different but is eager to work. The situation at home is difficult now but we work with it for cleaning. I do not cook much because I hate a dirty kitchen. My companion just has hot dogs and other simple meals. The companionship is fine for now. We work well together and he is very humble. More than me. We will learn a lot from each other. I'm going to learn patience and then will try to learn a little Spanish. Forgive me for not putting up accents my words but I don't know how. It is likely that this letter will be a little difficult to read but is a demonstration of what I've learned and examination by Heavenly Father.
We have had extraordinary experiences this past week but there are differences and I am encouraged to work harder.
Then I love you. I'm always praying for you. Thank you very much for everything.
With Love,
Elder Burnham