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

Monday, October 7, 2013

Last General Conference on my Mission :(

This week was up and down all over the place. You can't get much better than conference weekend though as a missionary. We had a pretty good week full of teaching and finding and receiving revelation. We met a new neat little family that has the same story as almost every other Hispanic out here. They working all the time, have cute little kids, grew up catholic and aren't active, and love the Bible. But after all that they felt the spirit of the restoration and want to get baptized. They still have a lot to work on which may take them a while and I may not be here to see them through, but they are a good family. That always feels good to talk with families like that.
So conference brought a lot of revelation as well as a ton of soul-searching questions. I decided that instead of going into to detail with it all I would just list them off for you and let you consider the questions and inspiration and to have you figure out which question or goal goes with what talk. :) This is what I walked away with after this weekend:
  • We are here to learn and then go home to apply and obey. (Is that the same principle for the mission or even for this entire life?)
  • Meeknes/Humility and Gentle persuasion is how we overcome difficult people.
  •  Am I determined enough or have the courage to remain faithful through difficult circumstances?
  • Do I have faith in God's specific plan for me?
  • Do I have faith in the covenants I have made?
  • Never feel like I have done enough!
  • Am I living up to my potential as a missionary?
  • Is it a blessing to work with less?
  • Could the blessing be to go without?
  • I need to be more keen on finding the spiritual blessing of obedience rather than the temporal.
  • I love being a member of this church because the ability I have to act and to use my talents to help others. Are we not the happiest when we sincerely help someone else with a problem they couldn't fix themselves? 
  • GOAL: Never miss an opportunity to study scriptures with future family.
  • My future wife has to understand the importance of her role and heed the prophets counsel when geared towards women. :)
  • How can I share the burdens of women. 
  • How can Christ forgive others through us?
  • How does the Atonement's power of forgiveness really work?
  • Be quick, but don't hurry!
  • Do members fear the revelation they will receive by seeking inspiration to do missionary work?
  • GOAL: Conduct family missionary council with future family.
  • GOAL: Share, what I didn't in the past, with friends back from school.
  • What impact did my primary teachers have on me?
  • Have I internalized the testimony found in the 13 articles of faith?
  • Why do we have to make mistakes to become a champion?
  • I want to be the champion NOW, so how do I overcome the fear that that won't happen?
  • GOAL: 100% home teaching every month.
  • How can I become friends with those I home teach?
  • What choices have led me to love the Lord with all my heart?
  • For what purpose have I been sent to each person I meet in my life?
  • What is my ultimate priority?
  • I know challenges I have never experienced before are on their way, will I remain steadfast and of good cheer during those moments?
  • How can I really cast my burdens upon the yoke of Christ?
  • GOAL: Always go to every Sunday meeting.
  • How can I make the sacrament more serious in my life?
There is a lot here and I may already have the answers to most of these questions, but they were all self-reflecting points that came to my mind as I sat and listened. It sure was a great weekend. I am sad this was my last conference as a missionary, but it was perfect.
There is a lot more to be learned. Well family I thought I would just share those things with you to ponder. I love you all and I am grateful for the Happy Birthday wishes. Mom, I too will be needing all new "Holy Underwear" for when I get home. Missionaries kind of trash the ones we wear. I probably will get rid of most of the ones I have out here so I'll need some for when I am home. Also have y'all decided on what I should do with my bike? Time is winding down. We are on crunch time now. Let me know when you can. Oh also I would love to go with Aunt Laurie on that special trip. :)
I love you all!!! xoxoxoxo
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham

Monday, September 30, 2013

No Transfer...6 weeks to go!!!

Surprise!!! No transfer news here. I am staying to be killed off by Elder Merkley. I start probably the craziest 6 weeks of my life today. Last night we had a super awesome missionary fireside, where we watched bits and pieces of the Hastening the Work broadcast with members and discussed how to become better missionaries. It was a very spiritual evening and we heard some great comments and strong testimonies of recent converts that found the gospel through the help of friends. It all comes back to the members, never the missionaries. We are nothing. We simply guide your friends to receiving personal revelation about the most important message on this planet. That's it! The member does the real work. Out of pure love for their friends and family members and newly found strangers they extend inspired invitations and help these children of God enter into the one true fold. At least that's how it should work and that is why we had the fireside. It was a great way to kick off this last transfer of my mission.
This last week was full of miracles because we have a great member, Pedro, who has one mission in mind. He has the strongest desire to bring every Latino in this area into the church. He will probably buy a bus to get them to church once we have enough investigators to fill up his van. He invites everyone to church. And the best part is he isn't afraid of rejection. The worst they can do is say no and then he moves on and invites the next Spanish-speaking stranger he meets. The work is starting to pick up here.
I am super excited for General Conference next week. I have a feeling this will be a huge one for me when it comes to receiving personal revelation. As I have gotten older in the mission I keep getting more questions I need answered. I'm excited to see what the Prophets have to tell me specifically this time around.
Well family time is getting short. I love you all. Hey some more boxes may be coming your way soon. I am going to try to thin out as much as I can over this month so I am not bringing so much junk home with me when the time comes. I guess I'll see what my companions want first and then just decide what to leave behind and all that stuff. Hey should I get my bike shipped home or leave it in the mission? It is still in good shape and is a nice bike, but I don't know what it costs to ship that home. Let me know what you think.
Hasta luego,
Elder Burnham

Monday, September 16, 2013

Never give up, Never Surrender

Staying busy is the way to go. Sounds like this week has been full of lots of experiences all across the board. Ryan seems to be having fun battling his branch, which reminds me of my third area a lot actually. He will get through to them eventually. Never give up, Never surrender. I hope Brianne makes it into the concert so I can go up and see her in it. Also I hope Sara is doing well in school and staying away from those fungus-filled creatures. Life seems to be good over there.
To answer your questions quickly, I hadn't heard about speaking with Russell, but I know we had mentioned it before the mission as a "what if" so I would actually really enjoy that and I'm sure others may love it too. If it's possible that would be a request from my side as well. I know he doesn't get home until about two or three weeks after me, but it would be fun. I haven't heard from Brianne yet about BYU so I'll wait on that, and I also got the itinerary. This is crazy. I don't like that the tunnel is starting to have a very large visible light at the end now. In fact this week we had a zone conference and because I am departing before the next zone conference I was asked to bear my testimony at the end of it. Only one other Raleigh missionary bore his testimony with me. I remember looking up at the older missionaries when they were giving departing testimonies and wishing I could be like that one day. Now I'm here and I guess I have gotten to the point of conversion that they were at, but I don't want to be at this age. The conference was a rude awakening to how fast this has gone by. The "real world" is right around the corner.  I AM NOT TRUNKY THOUGH!!!
We are working hard here and learning a lot. Elder Merkley and I are having a lot of fun and because he is so young and really kind of needs to be retrained on a lot of things I am being kept on my toes. We have been finding getting ready to baptize people every day. My purpose is getting fulfilled every morning with my morning prayers, inviting myself to come closer to Christ and be better. I have a lot more to learn for sure, but as for my purpose I got that down. We did meet a lot more rude people this week and we dropped a lot of people, but the Lord blessed us with new people to teach. This area really isn't the most prime spot for Spanish work, but we are doing our best to work with the few we have. We are getting there though.
Mom we don't have a ton of youth in this ward actually and we also don't even spend a lot of time with the families, because we are the Spanish missionaries and we only have 1 Hispanic family in the ward. When we do eat with the English members we are always trying to find people for the other elders to teach as well, but in order for us to do what we have been assigned to do out here, it doesn't help too often to visit with the "English-speaking white folk". They are a blast to be around though. Well that is where we are at for now. I hope all is going well and if you have more questions let me know. :)
Con Amor,
Elder Burnham
P.S. The picture is from our last week's preparation day. We went and toured the lighthouse on Bodie Island. It was the closest to a beach I have been my whole mission. Talk about trunky... :)