Bike-singing and Phantom Pizza!

Buenas!
Como le va, familia? Still chilling here in Killain and loving it. We’re back on bikes – party! Don’t worry, mom, I always wear a helmet and I haven’t crashed since the first time. And now we get to appreciate everyone’s Halloween decorations at a higher level (it takes a little longer to pass by the houses). Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to knock doors on Halloween past 5:00 P.M., so no candy for us! We also have to be in at seven that night, so who knows how we’ll spend the extra hours. Maybe we’ll make a Halloween scripture bingo or something. Or watch The Testaments. We clearly party pretty hard here in Miami.
Here are some happenings from the week:
1. Mary moment (our less active with dimensia that we visit weekly): After sharing a spiritual thought with her, I finish with, “The scriptures bring a lot of peace to your heart, right?”. She quickly responded, “Oh yeah! I love pizza! And hot dogs…” She’s perfect. We’ve also started teaching her great-grandchildren (the ones I sent pictures of – Andrew and Allison). Andrew likes to do our hair (he is a fabulous individual) and tells me that I look exactly like Princess Fiona from Shrek, pre-ogre, and that Sis. Heacock is Rapunzel. It’s a good little once-a-week confidence boost that we love.
2. As we were knocking doors this week in a neighborhood near our apartment that we just discovered, one door opened to reveal a 25-year-old woman wielding a 12-inch long knife who politely asked us to step away from the door. We didn’t need to be asked twice! She quickly softened up, however, after we told her that God sent us to say a prayer with her, and responded with, “Oh, awesome! I need a prayer so badly right now. But can I put my knife down first?” She ended up being super cool, but we had to pass her on to the YSA sisters. Hopefully she doesn’t pull blades on them too!
3. Another fun prayer experience this week came in the form of a man named Hersin (pronounced “just like a female’s sin”, he informed us). His dad immediately said no to our prayer offer, but before he could slam the door, Hersin slipped out and said, “I volunteer!”. When we asked him what we could include in it for him, he replied, “Well, definitely less pollution. And overall fewer people in the world. Especially fewer idiots.” I have never had to fight back laughter so valiantly as I did during the prayer that proceeded. After each sentence Sis. Heacock said, Hersin would chime in with a peanut gallery comment like, “Well, yeah, God, that would be pretty nice” or “Everywhere I go I am surrounded by imbeciles, so that’s pretty unlikely”, but at least he felt comfortable enough talking to God that he could tell Him how he really felt. He was awesome.
4. We’re still meeting with Cristina, but she unfortunately isn’t really progressing right now. She needs the Gospel so badly and tells us that every night she prays for a light at the end of the tunnel and for something to come that will help her family to be happier. What she doesn’t realize is that God has already sent us to her house as her answer, and will keep doing so twice a week until she finally gets the point. It’s super sad when people are blinded by the world. If everyone just lived the commandments, this would be a much happier world to live in.
5. This morning I finished reading Jacob 5, and I LOVED IT! Such an amazing chapter, even if it is seventy-seven verses long. I particularly loved verses 22-23, in which the Lord tells his servant to counsel him not on where he chose to plant a branch, for he knew that it was a poor spot of ground, and another in an even poorer spot still, and he simply says, “But, behold the tree”. Santa vaca, I love that! The Lord knew exactly what he was doing when he put that branch there, and, even though he knew it would be harder for that branch, through his nourishment and care, it grew. I hope that I am becoming a tree about which he will be able to say the same thing: behold. Maybe that only makes sense in my brain, but hopefully it gets through to you too. I also loved 39-41, which talk about the Master’s sadness after seeing that the wild fruit had taken over the good, natural fruit. His sadness is expressed in his tears accompanied by the simple question: “What more could I have done for my vineyard?”. There are some of us who have been given so much, such good ground to grow in and have been offered proper nourishment, but we allow the wild fruit to take over and corrupt us. We see that every day with less-actives that we work with and are going down as his servants to prune and dig around them, but this verse helped me understand how devastated our Father in Heaven must be when he sees His children who have everything, the fullness of the gospel, and then choose not to follow it. This definitely encourages me to work even harder this week to find more people! I also really like 61, 70-71, and 77, but that’s a lot more to type about.
6. Yesterday I wrote a pretty good parody to the primary song, A Child’s Prayer, while on my bike. It goes a little something like this:
“Heavenly Father, are you really there, and do you hear and answer every Sister’s prayer? Some say that our home is far away, and I would be one of those people today. Heavenly Father, I remember now, a mission rule I should have followed long ago: exercise daily at six-thirty. Father in prayer I’m repenting now to thee!”
I was a little proud of myself. And am now very sore (I promise that we actually do exercise in the mornings, it’s just the intensity that is questionable)
Both Sis. Heacock and I were a little disappointed in our Key Indicators (numbers that record our progress) last week. For some reason, we are having a pretty hard time finding people who actually want us to come back, but we have made some plans that will turn everything around. We have already begun putting them into practice and are excited to work super hard this week to improve our numbers! This week we saw some cool miracles with harvesting. We are on our bikes for the next few days and have had some great OYM experiences because of that. We prayed with an awesome family yesterday who definitely recognized the Spirit, but they were unfortunately in a huge hurry so we couldn’t get a return appointment set up. We’re planning on “being in the area” later this week and trying to follow up on them because we sneakily wrote down their address and are super excited for that.
Word. I love you people. Have an awesome Halloween! And family reunion in Disneyland this weekend without me! I still love you (but you owe me a Disney trip when I get home). Just kidding. Kind of. 🙂
Sister Burdett

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Pumpkin Guts & Puzzles

Lots of pictures this week from our favorite Hermana!  Having fun and working hard!DSCN1323[1] DSCN1331[1]

Carving Pumpkins with the Districto!

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Elders Flores, Underwood, Nogueira, Dunn, Stewart, Carver, and Sister Heacock and I at the Zoologico!

Here’s an awesome llama-thing from the zoo to brighten your day. If you ever are having a bad day, just look at this picture and think, “Man, I am so grateful that I don’t have to be born in the body of that creature.”

Familia!
Big news! The Maelstrom (Norvay!) ride in Disneyworld is closing! To put in a Frozen ride. WHAT. We will never again get to visit our troll friends. How sad. In other news, Karl set himself up with a baptismal date – so rad! Trevor is going to baptize him on November 2nd! Woo! We just have to get him to understand that wine really is alcohol and to stop drinking it. Crazy Italians!
We’re also teaching a member’s grandchildren, Matthew (9) and Amanda (5). Her son (their father) is a member of the church, but has been inactive since he was seventeen, but their grandma, Hermana Ruiz, wants them to learn and for Matthew to be baptized by December. We’ve definitely had to change up our teaching style for them. Now we’re coloring pictures, making puzzles, and playing games to try to make it more interactive and to make it a bit more captivating to a six-inch attention span. It almost feels like I’m in the MTC again trying to think of ideas to make our lessons more “dynamic” so that Hermano Candia didn’t fall asleep. It’s been an awesome experience though that has helped me realize how simple the gospel really is.
This week I got to read my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon because I FINALLY finished second Nephi! Yeah! 2 Nephi 33:10-11. It basically states that these truly are the words of Christ, and if you don’t believe that, just believe in Christ. Because through that belief in Him you will come to know that the words in the Book of Mormon really are His – dope promise! The Book of Mormon really is pretty crazy because it promises over and over again that anyone can know if it really is the word of God if one reads it with the intent to know for himself if it is true and then ask God in the name of Jesus Christ. That’s it! Our work sure would be a lot easier if everyone was just willing to test that promise instead of trying to constantly prove us wrong.
We had a pretty stellar Book of Mormon moment with a less-active woman last week too. We’ve been visiting her for a while and it hadn’t been going too well (awkward moments when she told us that she didn’t believe going to church and taking the sacrament were commandments), but just the last time we went we read Moroni 10:32-33 with her. She read it and said, “Wow. That is beautiful”, and proceeded to burst into tears. Unsure if I should put my arm around her or not (I ended up just sitting there), she eventually told us that she knew she needed to go back to church because she can recognize a void, an emptiness in her life. She is just afraid that church won’t be enough to fill it. In my opinion, she’s absolutely correct. Just going to church every Sunday really isn’t enough. Living the gospel, keeping the commandments, striving to become like Christ really is an every day effort. Prayer, scripture study, service, all of those things are required, too, and really, our heart and mind as well. Yes, going to church won’t solve all of your problems all at once, but it sure is a great place to start.
Elder Nogueira made us flan! Probably the most delicious flan I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. He taught me how to make it too! Woo! I’ll keep you posted on how that one goes. I’m determined to acquire oodles of recipes while out in order to expand my horizons of Latin cooking, seeing as my horizon right now is about equivalent to that seen through those cheap binoculars at the park that you have to pay 50 cents to use (those ones that really aren’t worth it).
I looooooove you crazy people. THANK YOU SO MUCH MOM FOR YOUR PACKAGE. Also, shout out to Naomi for the Nebraska package – I adored it! Definitely brightened my day/week.
 Love, Eliza

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this is alison and andrew. kids from a less active family! 🙂 they are the best!

Long conversations with Atheists and Huancaina‏

Received 10/14/14

Sister Heacock and I truly have had a wild week here in Killian! Things are progressing right along here, and we ended up having a few miracle investigators at Sacrament Meeting on Sunday (Barbie, Michelle, and Karl’s mom), even though we only had one softly committed on Saturday night (Karl)! It was so great! And Karl went to the YSA Sacrament Meeting to hear his son Trevor speak! More about them later. We are so happy and are striving to work hard to find new people. That has been our biggest struggle lately – getting solid new investigators with solid return appointments. We have made some goals to improve and are excited to see results from that this week, but our teaching pool is currently a little thin (it needs to eat some more Cuban food – it won’t stay thin for long with all of those crazy greasy locuras).
This week I learned from a pretty powerful couple of scriptures. The first one, courtesy of a good friend serving her mission in Birmingham, England (shout-out to my dearest Sister Elsie Powley), is in Alma 19:22-23. I love this scripture because it states that Mosiah had trusted his son to the Lord, and, as a result of that, the man who tried to slay Ammon simply dropped dead. Just like that! This scripture definitely helped me understand the power of personal covenants and commitments with God. He will always maintain His end if we maintain ours, and because of Mosiah’s pure faith and trust, Ammon was protected by God. Pretty stellar story. My second scripture is in 2 Nephi 30:5-6, which, after several verses/chapters of God being pretty sassy (A Bible! A Bible!), prophesies that “the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ… And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes” – what amazing imagery! Truly it feels like as we learn truth, a little bit more of our vision is obscured even less, like a scale of darkness falling from our eye. But it only happens one by one, poco a poco, until we eventually realize that we can see. We are no longer lost. And it will be because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I get to help people shed their scales! I get to be a part of that process, and for that privilege, I am so utterly and completely grateful. Every day I have new scales shed from my eyes as well and begin to understand the world and God and people a little bit better. Such a cool opportunity it is to be a missionary.
We had a pretty miraculous lesson this week with Cristina, a Brazilian woman we have been working with for what seems like a looong time. Going into it, our basic goal was to just invite her to church and to reteach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it had been a long time since she had actually let us teach her. However, when we got there, she was ecstatic to see us and it felt different. I couldn’t quite recognize it at first, but I later realized that I was going through a little pep talk or pump up speech from the Holy Ghost. I felt it. And I couldn’t deny it. And because of that, we ended up having the most powerful lesson of my entire mission. Never before have I ever known exactly what to say every time I needed to say something, but this time, it was easy. I was being guided and given the words, and they most certainly were not coming from me but from something much greater. She had a lot of concerns about being baptized for a third time, and, instead of getting too caught up in them, we were able to powerfully invite her to go straight to the source and to ask God if this was the right step for her! And she said that if God told her to do it, if she felt that it was right, she would do it! It was amazing! Unfortunately, she’s been avoiding us ever since then (in my mind that either means she chickened out/forgot to ask, or got an answer and is afraid to act upon it – we’ll keep trying), but it really was a miracle lesson.
We had a crazy experience on Saturday too! We met this woman, Yoanna, in the street who seemed crazy-excited about the Gospel and told us to come over to her house for a family party to share a message about Jesus Christ right away. We found out, unfortunately, that her excitement not was for the opportunity of eternal life we wanted to offer her, but for the chance of young, personable people to come join her business and sell her beauty products door-to-door. When we arrived at her house with a couple Elders in our zone (she lived in their area, but we wanted to do a pass-along lesson all together first), we found fourteen people waiting inside for us and got SO STOKED! But right after we did a Harvest Blessing on their house, they brought out the whiteboard and the videos and the products to convince us. That was probably one of the most awkward 1.5 hours of my life. But at least I learned some new Spanish vocabulary words and got to sample some spaghetti lasagna.
Trevor is a 23-year-old returned missionary and is the only member in his family, yet one day his father just walked up to him and said, “Trevor, I have seen such an amazing change in you because of this church. And I want to know why. So I want to get baptized!” – super huge miracle! We’re having a ton of fun teaching him (even though it’s crazy nerve-wracking because we don’t want to screw this up) and are looking forward to Trevor inviting him to be baptized this Sunday during our next lesson – woo!
My new district is AMAZING. Even if the majority of the Elders are pretty awkward. But it’s okay, because I’m really awkward too. So we all get along great! Our District Leader is crazy-spiritual and always gives us pretty fantastic help – so grateful!
Happy tidbits:
1. Mary, an 82-year-old less active woman with dimensia whom we visit weekly, when asked by me, “Do you like the bread?” (her daughter Deb had baked us delicioso banana bread), replied, “Do I wet the bed?” and proceeded to nod energetically to affirm that she, indeed, does wet the bed. Never has it been harder to not burst out laughing. So I did.
2. The song “New Words” by Brian Stokes Mitchell and the MoTAB is Sister Heacock and my JAM. That and “Los Pastores a Belen” by David Archuleta and the MoTab. Oh, David.
3. Gaining a new appreciation for Peru.
4. GENERAL CONFERENCE. I DIDN’T TALK ABOUT IT ENOUGH LAST WEEK, BUT, SANTA VACA, IT WAS GOOD! Also, Jorg Klebingat, who gave one of my FAVORITE talks ever, is my friend’s dad! Whoa! BYU connections! Also, David A. Bednar.
5. All of the missionaries I live with telling me that my father looks like Henry B. Eyring. Shout out to them and the real Henry B. (Mills). And Baby Brew, even if his name isn’t Henry.
6. Elders Flores (Mexico), Nogueira (Peru), and Stewart (Tonga?) constantly making explosion noises when they talk about spiritual experiences they have.
7. Cinnabon bites at Taco Hut/Pizza Bell (you know, when they combine the two restaurants into a glorious, greasy, brick-in-your-stomach-later-but-right-now-it’s-irresistible euphoria). They will change your life.
I love you wonderful people. Write me some letters.
Sister Burdett

Round like a cookie!

Editor’s note: I’m not sure what the title has to do with this post.  Maybe an inside joke with Mitch?  Also–the peacock picture wouldn’t load, so we will try again next time.  Katie

Ciao Famiglia!
A little Italian in honor of my cool-cat cousin, Anziano Anderson.
It was a crazy-wild miracle transfer weekend!!
The greatest miracle of all would have been Sandra’s baptism, and unfortunately, due to some last minute trips to Colombia, we weren’t able to see that come to pass. But, many, many things have been changing for the better!
At transfer meeting I received a big surprise – my sister in the mission, Sister Heacock, was my new companion! WHAT! Sister Calvo just finished training her the transfer before she started training me! So we are two nueva gringas! It has been wild! And truly a test of my Spanish skills. I am pleased to report, however confused our family tree may be now, that I am learning how much Spanish I really do know and understand. It’s much more than I realized! I really did learn a lot from Sister Calvo! I am thankful for this opportunity that I have to learn and grow with Sister Heacock – she is fantastic! We already have developed a really good relationship and are able to teach with a lot of love and power. She’s from Seattle! It has been good to get a fresh missionary here to help refresh our teaching pool. We have seen some huge miracles the past few days together – hallelujah for miracle transfer weekend – and just yesterday, while we were harvesting, we left three blessings and got three return appointments! And two of them are with families who accepted baptism! Super radical. The last blessing was with a woman named Nicole who initially told us no at the doorway, but than had a quick change of heart at the slightest insistence and not only allowed us to pray with her, but let us inside and invited her three children and sister to join the majority of whom knelt with us in their living room! After the blessing she immediately asked where the Church was and if she could bring her children! And she accepted baptism! Way cool. We are excited to follow up with her soon.
This week was awesome – General Conference! The Sunday Afternoon session was AMAZING! Every talk was so good. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you take the time to do so. Elder Bednar basically did my job as a missionary for me! And I have conquered the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi! Victory! After he has finished quoting eighteen chapters or so, in chapter 25, Nephi talks about how it may be difficult for those who do not have the ‘spirit of prophesy’ to understand the words of Isaiah – he could not have been more correct! I am trying harder now than I ever have to learn, understand, and apply, but often I get a little bogged down in the symbolism and analogies of the Second Coming of Christ. I really have been able to understand more this go around, but I was relived to get to chapter 25. I am in complete concurrence with Nephi when he states, “For my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn”. Not only do I delight in his plainer words of clarification of this amazing biblical prophet, but I have found that our investigators truly delight in lessons that are exceedingly plain. Sometimes, especially when trying to further one’s own understanding of a deeper doctrine, it is easily forgotten that the gospel is simple. Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. That’s it. The gospel of Jesus Christ is just that. It was a good reminder of how easily the people we’re teaching can get lost in the details of the Plan of Salvation or the Restoration if we get too deep if I can get lost so easily in the words of the prophet. Sister Heacock and I have been striving to make our lessons straight-forward, simple, and short – and it has been making a difference! Hallelujah! And we are progressing right along with a woman named Sharon – she informed me that I should be the next female president with Sister Heacock by my side as VP. I have never laughed so hard in my life.
We have an awesome new District Leader, Elder Nogueira, from Peru (Clay!), and a new Zone Leader, Elder Flores, from Mexico, who I learned today both have some awesome soccer skills. We changed districts, so that’s an exciting thing!

On the plus side (even though I wasn’t really talking about minuses), we learned how to play ‘We Thank Thee, O God, For A Prophet” using the buttons on our phone. Missionary swag.

Here’s a picture of a wild peacock chillin’ on a car. It then proceeded to jump on the roof of a nearby house. Those things are crazy.

Much love!
Sister Burdett

Pizza Biking!

Received 9/30/14

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The first is Sister Calvo and I COMPLETELY SOAKED from biking in the rain. The background is so white because it was raining to fast for the camera to capture! I’m not really sure if that’s the reason, but it sounds good.
And the other is the four southern zones of the mish!

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P-day at the zoo.  I fed this giraffe!                     My district—until transfers tomorrow!  CRAZY!

Familia!!!
Last night Sister Calvo and I received a shock – she is going to be transferred tomorrow. WHAT?! Super confusing and super wild – she’s supposed to be with me for my first twelve weeks because she’s my trainer, but for some reason God has a different plan for us. These six weeks really have gone by too fast. I am nervous about taking on the area without her. Heavenly Father truly is teaching me how to trust in Him. And it’s hard. Half of my district, including my District Leader and one Zone Leader, are all leaving too. So tomorrow I will have a new companion! Tantas locuras. I still feel very small and like I have so much to learn from her, but I am trying hard to trust in the Lord to understand His purpose. Fortunately, we have had countless fun experiences together, and really have developed an amazing friendship. I have been so lucky to know her and am crossing my fingers that He will let us serve together one more time.
We’ve been on bikes for the past week and it has been WILD! Wet & wild to be honest, with all of this crazy Florida rain! I am proud to say that I have know biked with a full garbage bag and with a pizza! Long distances. Not easy tasks. Yesterday while we were harvesting in the rain, we were trying to decide if we should continue or take refuge in a member’s home nearby. As we were praying to try to decide, right after I asked for help to know if we should press forward or leave, a huge clap of thunder interrupted and gave us our answer. Usually He talks to us in a still, small voice, but this time, he spoke in a big, booming voice. Cool experience.
This week I have been reading in 2 Nephi in the Isaiah chapters, which has been a new experience for me. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’ve ever read them all the way through before, so they are a bit difficult for me to understand. BUT, everyone always complains and talks about how Isaiah writes, so I am determined to love them and understand them! I did have to take a little break from them, however, and I was led to Alma 26, a beautiful, wonderful missionary account of his work with the Lamanites (now Anti-Nephi-Lehis). He opens the chapter with a question to his missionary bros, saying, “And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?”, which causes me to reflect on the great blessings I have been given here as my time with Sister Calvo comes to an end. I have been so blessed to have a companion who can help me improve my Spanish, English, testimony, teaching skills, attitude, perspective, obedience, bike speed, courage, and boldness. And an even longer list of things that I don’t fully understand or realize yet. I have been given so much! But of whom much is given much is required, and I guess now Heavenly Father is requiring me to learn from someone new! I pray that at the end of my mission I will be able to say all of the things Ammon says about rescuing people from the darkest abyss and helping them to better know their maker (though I have to say that I could do without the suffering “all manner of afflictions” or being bound and thrown into prison). My favorite are his closing verses: 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen. His words help me to realize that God truly knows each and every one of His children. I have no idea how He does it, but I know that this is truth because I see it every day in the people with whom we speak and to whom He sends us. Even though Miami may feel like a strange land sometimes, I am willing to go down and to work to bring about the salvation of men and to make their joy full.
Sister Calvo have seen miracles in a new and improved harvesting method. Our AMAZING (though now departing) District Leader, Elder Williamson, encouraged us to improve our blessings given to new investigator ratio by striving to only bless the elect. We truly have seen a difference in people and feel better as we truly strive to bring the Spirit to those who have been prepared and are ready to feel and receive it. It has changed our work – truly a miracle! We are praying hard for another miracle tonight – Sandra’s baptism. We are planning to teach her a lesson with our RC Fina in the church and inviting her to be baptised right then and there because she has been to church twice and has been taught everything. It is super risky, but we feel confident that this is how God wants it to be and that she will finally accept.
I love you! Sorry that this is short and without many details!
Sister Burdett