Killing it in Killian West

Sent on 9/22/14  (Which was my birthday!)  So I got the best present from Eliza–an email!  Actually I got 2–one just to me and one for everyone.  Eliza sent 3 great pictures from the baptism and a p-day zoo trip but there was so trouble with the download, so we will try again to share those next week.  Enjoy Eliza’s latest letter! Love, Katie

Familia!

I just love you guys. A big shout out to the mama – FELIZ CUMPLEANOS!!!! I hope that you had an awesome pre-brithday fiesta week and that you continue to celebrate for the entire week after (because you deserve it)! Much love sent your way!
WE HAD OUR FIRST BAPTISM YESTERDAY! It was a really beautiful, though a bit bittersweet, experience. An amazing woman named Fina (a whopping 78 years old!) came one huge step closer to Christ this week, and it was amazing to be with her every step of the way. She feels like my grandma and she always tells me that I remind her a lot of herself when she was younger – hopefully she wasn’t a crazy wild lady! She is super strong and is already integrating herself into the ward nicely! I never realized how important it is to help new members or even people who simply visit feel the love from the Savior and feel welcomed. She was supposed to be baptized with her best friend, Sandra, too, but she backed out that morning because she has many anxiety problems and has had a lot of problems in the past with people taking advantage of her kindness and willingness. She is terrified of making a bad choice, and, even though we had some amazing and very powerful spiritual experiences with her last week, she is still really afraid to commit. We went on exchanges with our STLs on Saturday and I had to take control of the area (super crazy!) which was quite the experience! We had a super radical and powerful lesson with Sandra and Fina, and even though she hasn’t made that big step yet, we know that she is feeling the Spirit and is truly gaining a testimony. We know that she will get baptized, it’s just the when that we need to figure out together. Fina’s baptism truly was a miracle, and we are so excited to continue building the kingdom here in the Killian ward.
The ward here has been SO GOOD to us, and continues to do so! There are some amazing members who are willing to go out with us almost every week. They really change the tone of our lessons and bring some rocking personal stories that hit the spirit straight home. It’s especially vital to have them there because then a friendship can begin to develop and they don’t have to rely on the missionaries so heavily for friends at church.
I had an awesome moment in personal study this week! I have been really striving to gain a testimony of my calling as a missionary – does that make sense? I’m trying hard to become converted to being “Hermana Burdett”. Not just as the obedience factor, but also my potential as a servant of the Lord. It has been hard for me to believe that I have the ability to teach with power and authority because I so frequently feel like I lack the correct words to say something that matters – conquering fears with doctrine and love with confidence. My District Leader taught me a ton last week about the symbolism of our name tags: we can liken the black background to the apostasy and a confused world of darkness with the big white letters saying ‘something something JESUCRISTO something something’ signifying that His light has been restored to the earth and is the only way to find lasting happiness and light in this world; he then asked us to each share our testimony of the Restoration. After doing so, e said, “So it looks like we aren’t having problems with our testimony here (circling “La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias), but maybe we aren’t truly converted to “Hermana Burdett””. This may sound like a super basic ‘”Obviously!” moment’, but it was super powerful for me at the time because of feelings of inadequacy I’ve been having lately. I have really been striving to learn why I have been called here and that I truly can teach by the Spirit. It’s been something that has been changing my confidence level and truly my entire perspective. Pretty wild. Often I have felt inadequate in terms of teaching, speaking Spanish, and my ability to listen and be directed by the Spirit and on a morning of a big low, I found 2 Nephi 10:20-25. I wish that I had more time to go into the details of how strongly these verses impacted my attitude, but all I will say is that I am only concerned now with reconciling myself with the will of God because I am free to act for myself as are all other people with whom I come in contact! I have the power each day to choose to do all that I can to help others come unto Christ, and they have the power to accept it or slam the door in our faces! And that’s okay! I have been able to speak with people with much more confidence in both Spanish and English, and am feeling increasingly confident in my potential. I still have such a long way to go, and am so humbled by the example of other missionaries with whom I teach and interact each day, but I know that I am on the path I need to be to become the person I envision myself as. It’s amazing how much self-discovery happens when you lose yourself in the service of others and choose to lay aside personal worries to help others understand that they have such great potential.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! The mission is the best. Except for you guys.
besotes,
Sister Burdett

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El loco de la mata de coco.

Sent 9/15/14

0291 is us with Fina and Sandra - we're still working hard to help her get a testimony of the LDM

0291 is us with Fina and Sandra – we’re still working hard to help her get a testimony of the LDM

 0294 is us harvesting a house that I thought Mom might like to live in.


0294 is us harvesting a house that I thought Mom might like to live in.

Faaaaaaaaaaaamilia. Ciao!
Oddly enough, the Latin people say that all the time. Even though we aren’t speaking Italian. It’s fun.
Things are really moving along here in Killian West with Sister Calvo and I. We have really hit a stride and are teaching pretty well together! She really is becoming one of my best friends. The Lord really knew what he was doing when he put us together (even if at first I was a little apprehensive). I just love her so much! She is such a good example to me of exact obedience. She influences me so much each day and is really setting me up to have a successful rest of my mission by instilling within me good habits while still having a lot of fun with it. Spending all of your time in the work of the Lord really is the surest way to find pure, lasting happiness! It may be the hardest, most exhausting work I’ve ever done or possibly will do, but I adore it. Each day is a new lesson and progression.
I have been reading the first several chapters in second Nephi this week and have learned a lot about the Atonement. In chapter nine verses 6-7 it talks about the need for an ‘infinite atonement’. I have always heard this phrase and have thought, “That’s a nice image, but there really must be a limit to it because Christ suffered for everyone’s pains and sins.” It wasn’t until reading it this time that I understood how it was infinite (this may seem like an obvious thing, but it truly was a bit of a revelation for me): While Heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves, and may even know every single choice that we will make in this life, he cannot judge us without giving us the opportunity to choose for ourselves. He may know the result, but he has to let us choose incorrectly sometimes to allow us to learn and understand the path we want to be on. Sometimes we have to hurt before we truly have that desire for healing and joy. The Savior’s Atonement is infinite not because he knew exactly what choices we would make and predetermined our judgement, but because he felt every pain possible. That was indeed a powerful thing for me to realize. He felt any awful thing that could ever be felt on this earth in order to pay the price and it is because of that it is infinite. Because it will pay over and over again for our transgressions until we figure things out or we die. Wow. It really is a humbling thing to realize that the Lord suffered so much to provide us with happiness and a freedom from guilt and pain, yet so many people continue to suffer in this life because they don’t know where to find the truth.
Sister Calvo and I had and AMAZING lesson with Christina this week! After listening to all of her problems and her concerns, we simply taught doctrine rather than tried to teach to her individual concerns and focused ourselves on the commandments and blessings received from keeping them. This has been something we have really been trying to focus on lately because of a lesson we had with Sandra that could have been described as a fiasco. I have now learned the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘concerns’, and can simply define the latter as ‘fears’. In a comp. study with our DL, Elder Williamson (his favorite interjections include, “a-MAZING!” “BEAU-tiful!” and “NIIIIIce!” – he worked at Disneyland), he compared the teaching styles of two of his favorite villians: Captain Hook (in Spanish, el capitan Garfio – so much cooler) and Ursula. Ursula gives one option to Ariel to satisfy her desires – give up your voice. Ariel begins to express her concerns with “…but how will I…?”, which we could fill in with a variety of things: talk to my father, tell Eric that I love him, order pizza, etc. Instead of giving her individual solutions to solving every. little. problem., Ursula simply overrides her with doctrine, corrupt as it may be (you’ve got your pretty face and never underestimate the power of body language – haha, awk)! And guess what, it works! She gets her voice and therefore converts her! Yet with Capt. Garfio trying to convince the Lost Boys to become pirates, he simply sings a song about how awesome and fun the life of a pirate is! And finishes with an ultimatum of “You can either sign-up or walk the plank”. With one tiny protest from Wendy, all of them are back to wanting to be Lost Boys again. Teaching to individual concerns like, “But I don’t know anyone at that church” or “But I really love drinking coffee every morning” really doesn’t work, because there will always be one more thing that will come up. Yet if we stick to pure doctrine, people will be able to get a testimony for themselves and conquer their fears through the help of the Lord as well as become personally converted. I don’t know how Elder Williamson comes up with this stuff, especially because he hasn’t seen any Disney movies for almost a year and a half, but it really was an effective analogy. He has a little too much Disney knowledge if you ask me, but he really is an amazing and inspiring District Leader.
Anyway, with Cristina, as Sis. Calvo was testifying of this – blessings received from commandment-keeping – I felt the Spirit burning in my face (that’s where I feel it when I need to say something – weird, I know), and just invited her to keep the commandments of God by being baptized on the 28th of this month! And she said yes! She even asked us at what time so that she could right it down and stick to it! Exact obedience really does wrought miracles.
As I am losing myself in the service of the people here, I really am learning more about myself than I realized possible in such a short amount of time. I am so thankful for the opportunity and responsibility to say and do the very things that Christ would say and do if he himself were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me – how great is my calling!
The subject line literally translates to “the crazy man of the coconut tree” – we often call our lovely ZLs this (in a very loving manner, of course) because they call us all the time and leave us crazy Spanish rap voicemails. I invite you to include it in your everyday speech. I also learned that “platanaso” is not simply restricted to bananas! You can use just about any fruit you would like to hit someone with! In Cuba the most popular is “pinaso” – pineapple – but one could also use naranjaso (orange) or manzanaso (apple) too! Great fun.
SO MUCH LOVE YOUR WAY!
Hermana Burdett

Go away, platanaso!

Received on 9/9/14

Faaaaamilia!

Hello! What an awesome and wild week we have had here in Miami. For the record, my P-day is indeed Monday, but because last Monday was Labor Day it was moved to Tuesday. We always work on holidays because of the increased likelihood for families to be together at home. Sorry to cause confusion and/or heart palpitations.
We have seen some amazing miracles in the past week as products of our determination to be exactly obedient. We have a really amazing woman named Sandra who is progressing so rapidly. She was a gift from Heavenly Father who came to church two weeks ago with a woman upon who’s door we had knocked a few days before (Amelia). Now the woman we knocked into no longer is interested, but her friend, Sandra, is astounding! She has committed to give up coffee and alcohol, even in the face of hard pressure from her friends and peers. When we first talked to her about the Word of Wisdom, she immediately said that she wouldn’t be able to do it, because coffee is so deeply rooted in Cuban culture, but after we had finished teaching that, she said, “Pues, si ustedes me prometen que es un mandamiento de Dios y voy a recibir muchas bendiciones si vivo la, voy a tratar.” (sorry world if that’s bad Spanish – estoy aprendiendo todavia – but you know what I mean). We happened to knock on Amelia’s door a day or two later on Saturday night to see if we could try to teach her or drop her, but were very shocked when the opening door revealed Sandra’s aunt, Fina, who has been listening and participating in lessons with Sandra (they live together)! We entered and were surprised to find Sandra lying in a hammock there in tears as Amelia was getting her fingernails painted by a friend. The Lord really does send us where we need to be! It was amazing timing. Satan had really been doing a number on Sandra, and she was having a lot of issues with a health problem as well as a lot of pressure from Amelia about the Word of Wisdom and changing her whole life.Thank goodness the Lord sent us there to increase her faith and to dispel her fears. We gave her a long pep-talk and encouraged her to keep going. She is golden; while we were there, and while Amelia hosing her down about the alcohol quitting, Sandra said, “What, so you aren’t going to go out with me or be my friend anymore just because I won’t drink with you? You’ll have your drink and I’ll have my water, and we’ll both still have fun! Who cares what I drink! Why does it matter to you!” She’s a fiery and inspiring lady. She and Fina were at church to take the Sacrament the next day and stayed for all three hours for church. She is truly an amazing woman who we are so excited to see her get baptized (she hasn’t committed to a date yet, but we know she will). Awesome miracle!
We have another blessing named Cristina, whose door we knocked on a whim last week. She tells us over and over that she knows God sent us to her, and tells us that we are better than any psychiatrist or therapist has ever been to her! It makes us happy. I don’t have time to tell her whole story, but in a sentence it is this: She is in the middle of a custody battle for her two sons (9 and 11) with her ex-husband (7 years divorced) who has a crazy father (he basically hates her because she’s not Cuban) that is trying to control his son and is obsessed with money (her ex is a millionaire). She really has a lot of trust in God, but this man has manipulated her pretty badly and she is pretty confused about what to do. She has amazing faith though – I think that I am learning as much from her as she is from us! We hope that she will have an increased desire to follow the Lord and that he will help things work out well for her so that she can be with her children. It’s amazing how willing people are to tell you all about their problems even when they have no idea who you are and you just give a little knock on their door.
My apartment is absolutely crazy fun all of the time. We live with Sister Bird and Sister Montoya, our STLs, and we are basically always laughing whenever we are home together. Sis. Montoya is from Costa Rica, and she is absolutely hilarious! The Spanish word of the week comes from her: She calls Satan “Platanaso” which basically translates to someone you want to hit with a banana (no, that is not a joke – it is a bonafide Costa Rican insult). Whenever she is having a hard time or is feeling Satan’s influence, just says, “Get away from me, platanaso!”. She also throws in a “What the heck, man!” in honor of a Jamaican YSA named Sanjay that is our buddy (I know this isn’t as funny to you as it is to me, but if you could hear her say it in her accent, you would understand). But this, of course, leads us to call each other platanasas all the time because we all think it’s hilarious (except Sister Bird – she doesn’t speak Spanish. sad day), but we really don’t have enough bananas to go around to hit each other with (missionary budgets are tight). I am so blessed to live in such a beautiful place with people who make me so happy. Don’t worry, mom, there are no cockroaches or bedbugs (like many other missionaries here have suffered with – bless them) and we eat a lot of salad.
This week I read 2 Nephi 4, which is truly a beautiful piece of scripture. Nephi completely commits himself to trust in the Lord, despite his weaknesses and short-comings. It is amazing that an example as inspiring as Nephi can utter the words, “Oh, wretched man that I am!” and describe desires to lay aside the sins that “so easily beset” him. How in the world could sins so easily beset Nephi when he was always obedient and an example to his family?! It was a good reminder that we are all mortal, even the prophets, and that no life is easy. It reaffirmed my resolve to be an exactly obedient missionary and child of God and to completely trust in the Lord.
Because of her example I have felt more and more comfortable testifying and teaching during our lessons. It is hard, but is truly an amazing thing to feel the Spirit burn in your heart as words come into your mind to back up that which your companion is saying and to fortify it with testimony and doctrine. This work is truly amazing!
Much love to all of you! Keep the faith.
Besitos,
Sister Burdett
Also, you all should go watch the Bible video Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind. It’s awesome.