Flagler West Side Story

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Editor’s note: Eliza is wearing her Family Reunion T-shirt in this photo, so I can photoshop her into some of the pictures (like her Uncle Andy in days gone by!).  She also told me to notice her made bed! 🙂  I love the inspiration wall!  Special thanks to all of you who have shown her love and support.  It means SO much to her and to me! You are true friends! Love my sweet missionary! Katie

Familia!
Oh, little Flagler. It is such a strange place. Last week, Christy’s mom (also an alcoholic) passed out while we were praying with her, just like King Lamoni (see Alma 18:41-43). We didn’t know what to do…..so we just started reading the scriptures. After a couple of minutes, Christy shouted out, “I CAN’T LEARN THE GOSPEL WHILE MY MOM IS DYING.” So we decided to stop. It was a long seven minutes to sit there while George and Christy slapped her until she awoke and ‘arose such a clatter’. Then she didn’t want us to stop talking! Or praying! Or leave! But we did. So that happened. I guess we’re pretty powerful pray-ers or something.
Also, we have a super cool new family that we’re teaching! We found the mom, Lily, while harvesting and had a really good experience with her. She later told us that she had posted on Facebook that God sent her two angels that day in the exact moment that she needed it! So even without iPads, we’re still Facebook missionaries! Word. Her husband, Fernando, is Christian. Very Christian. His first question for us was, “Does your church preach spiritual warfare?”, and then proceeded to launch into a huge lecture on how the majority of churches are just “Baby Christian” and how his pastor was a serious man of God sent to prepare them to embrace all of their gifts and powers they have as Christians. It was intense, and rather fascinating, and ultimately at the end of our discussion, he gave me permission to pray over his son, Fernando Jr. He is a 5-year-old with mild autism whom his father believes to have curses placed upon him that bind his tongue. He informed us that he had already broken several curses that his biological mother had placed upon him, but told us he could sense that we were “anointed” (whatever that means) and gave me permission to break any curse that I could sense that perhaps he hadn’t found. I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about, to be honest, but I just gave myself a little pep-talk in my brain and trusted a lot in the Spirit. No, I did not break any curses (that seemed a bit nonsensical to me, but who knows), nor did I cast out demons because I do not hold the priesthood, the power of God, yet we all were able to feel of the Holy Ghost as we prayed and I exercised my authority as a representative of Jesus Christ. So that was cool. BUT, all craziness aside, the coolest part about that family is their 14-year-old son, Christian (named such on purpose), whom we have taught the most. What an awesome kid. He is facing a lot of opposition right now, but he really is spiritually sensitive and has a lot of sincere desire to follow Christ and do the right thing. An unusual trait for a 14-year-old, in my opinion. We’re excited to see what happens with them in the future! Christian is preparing to get baptized too! He asked us on Saturday night, “How much do I need to pay you to get baptized?” It made me laugh out loud, but I quickly stopped when I realized he wasn’t kidding. People actually charge others to get baptized? I couldn’t believe it. We assured him that baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, and always will be, free.
Anyway, I’ve realized that by the time I come home I will be a certified Love Doctor. We’re currently juggling a couple of peculiar love triangles (one of members and the other of investigators/less-actives) and have had to deal with an investigator who fell in love with the sister that was here before me (20-year age gap. Weird). That’s something I certainly didn’t anticipate! Just on Tuesday, Jose, a recent convert, was asking us to help him find ways to not be so intense and desperate (his words) as he pursues another RC, Maria. He is a massage therapist and has been offering over and over to give her a massage, and he chases after her when she exits the church or an activity without saying goodbye. He’s pretty awkward, poor thing, but we’re doing our best to help him out. And he thought that he could just tell the bishop that he loved someone and that the bishop would talk to the woman and arrange the marriage. Yes, you can laugh. Who knew that I’d have to include teaching Dating 101 to a 36-year-old in our lessons?
Yesterday, watching the First Presidency Christmas Devotional was just lovely. And our stake put together several choirs that sang for an hour and a half in the chapel before it started. My favorite number was “Mary, did you know?”, sung by eight-year-olds to a romantic-sounding track. It got soulful. I really don’t have the words to describe it, but just think ‘karaoke bar for children’. While singing Silent Night at the end of the devo., Sis. Montoya leaned over and said “Radiant beams from thy holy face – beams like frijoles? Frijoles is the Spanish word for beans, so that created a pretty good mental picture. The giggles were hard to stifle.
I love reading the book of Alma! Seriously, between watching The Testaments and reading Alma, I have all of the action I need. Destruction, arm-chopping-off, wars and rumors of wars, it’s awesome. I recently read in Alma 14: 10-13, which is a good lesson on the soul question: “Why does God allow so much suffering?”. A little background, two missionaries, after telling the people the truth of the Gospel and calling them to repentance, the leaders and people of the land grow furious and decide to burn all of the women and children who are believers and make these two missionaries watch. Intense. Yet, in this instance, Alma teaches us that God allows this to happen because those people will stand as a witness in the last day of the wickedness of these people and make their judgments just. An interesting thought. Additionally, God will never, ever take away a person’s ability to choose, no matter how horrible the choice or how severely it will affect others. We work with so many people who are suffering so intensely. Just in the last week we have taught people with failing kidneys, miscarriages, deaths in the family, diseases without cure, homeless, no money, or no job. Yet something I am relearning each day is that God truly has a purpose in all things. We are here to learn and to experience, and one of the best ways to do this is through trials. Serving a mission is certainly the hardest thing I have ever done, but I have never learned so much in such a short amount of time, nor have I grown so much in my faith, testimony, and love for other people. God truly knows what we need to become better, even if sometimes we have to go through the refiner’s fire to purify ourselves.
I also read in Alma 17:19-39, an awesome story of the power of service and a pile of arms. You would like it.
We’re already heading in to the last week of the transfer (WHAT), so we’re excited to see some crazy miracles this week! I love you people! Go make some miracles happen in your own lives too!
Also, a huge shout-out to the Baynes, the Hixsons, and the Gubler-Coons for their beautiful Christmas cards and to my fantastic mama for an awesome package (and for introducing me to Pumpkin Spice Caramel Ghiradelli chocolates. Holy Bible, Batman)!
I love you!
Sister Burdett

Countdown to Christmas!

We are in the countdown to fill Eliza’s mailbox with Christmas love.  If you haven’t sent a card yet, please consider doing it right away!  Everything needs to be to her by December 11, 2014!

Email her at elizabeth.burdett@myldsmail.net

Send a letter or card to

Sister Elizabeth Burdett

Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission

7951 SW 6th Street Suite 110

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33324

Thanks for loving and supporting her on her mission to serve our Savior, Jesus Christ!  Love, Katie

The Humanitarian Houdini and other gossips‏

Hola Familia!
I hope that you all had a very American Thanksgiving! Congratulations on Whitney’s baptism too! Woo! Our Elders baptized yesterday too, so I just pretended for a second that I was there in Texas. 🙂 All Thanksgiving food we received was 100% gringo – what in the world! I mean, one woman gave us rice and another had rojo Nicaraguan cola, but otherwise it was all turkey and ‘taters. Someone even fed us brussel sprouts – yes! First time on the mission that I got to eat those bad boiz. A good time was had by all. We had one meal with our Elders and then a later meal with all eight of us (those serving in the Spanish and English ward here) and the next day we got leftovers! It was lovely. I even made corn pudding last P-day in honor of the holiday! To my surprise, however, when I pulled it out of the oven, Sister Monsuy said, “Oh, Sister! You made bumafon!” Turns out that it’s actually a native dish in Equatorial Guinea. What? Now it will forever be called bumafon in my heart – I hope that y’all ate some for Thanksgiving too! I’m learning a lot of cool things about Eq. Guinea. For example, they have a local dialect/language/tongue called Fang – Sis. Monsuy is teaching me: Muanbot awaun kuan [MWAN-bort ah-OO-wan gwan]! That’s something you say to someone who’s really vain and is always fixing their make-up and clothing. She taught me how to say ‘How are you?”, but I was doing the dishes when she taught me, so I can’t remember. Sorry ’bout it.
Anyway, Flagler is going well! We’re teaching Raul, a man Christy found on the pool deck of the Miltons (the ritziest joint in town – an “apartment complex” that’s basically it’s own tiny city). When we first met him, he told us that he’s Muslim, but we later learned that he is a Bible expert and believes Jesus is the Son of God and his Savior. So I’m not really sure what to call his religious-ness. Soon it’ll be Mormon – he’s really receptive and very sensitive to the Spirit already. We’re also teaching his friend, Joel, from the Dominican Republic! He’s super cool, but he’s having a ton of crazy problems right now, so he’s hard to see frequently. And he doesn’t speak much English, so we really should pass him to the Spanish ward missionaries, but we always teach them together so we probably won’t (don’t tell the Elders).
Christy is still crazy, surprise surprise. She was MIA for four days, and we were really worried that something bad happened to her. Usually we either see her or talk to her on the phone every day, so for her to completely drop off the map (as in her phone was dead and no one answered at her apartment) to not just us but her two friends also, was pretty spooky. Especially when Rene, a less active bud of hers, told us that she recently brought a homeless man to live in the electric room of her building and had been bringing him food there. I mean, it’s good to be charitable, but sometimes you have to help yourself first. And I guess he started to mess with their power whenever he was hungry. Spooky stuff. We still don’t know all of the details on him, but I’ll keep you posted. Turns out that Christy just went to West Palm Beach for the weekend and didn’t take her phone, but she sure caused us, Rene, George, and her mom an awful lot of worry!
While harvesting this week we found a cool lady named Elena, whom after the prayer told us she was 100% positive that God sent us and gave us really big hugs. Then she proceeded to tell us all about her life for the next thirty minutes right there on the sidewalk. She also told us that we were going to find marvelous husbands soon and that I would have two children (one boy and one girl) – apparently she could see their spirits standing next to me just waiting for me to get married! That was new. Yet after all of that she finished with, “Yes, I know that God sent you, but I’m not going to your church.” Okay, just tell God no like that.
This week in my personal study, I have learned how much of a boss Alma the Younger was. Holy Bible, Batman! He was so bold! After completely turning his life around, starting from vilest of sinner and ending up chief judge and prophet, he just preached like crazy! Correcting all of the Zarahemlites and throwing down on the Ammonihahites with Amulek! In Alma 4: 3-5, it states that the people he was teaching were awakened to a remembrance of their duty to God because of their afflictions- and then they killed it! They built up the church like wild and helped 3500 people get baptized, all because they heeded the prophetic call from God. It definitely gave me the reminder that we should be thankful for the trials and afflictions we have in our lives because they not only bring us closer to Him, but also allow us to learn, grow, and gain strength. Also, going on to Alma 4:15, 19, he relies totally on the Spirit because he knew it would not fail him and gives up his position as chief judge to go preach the gospel! He states that the only way he saw to help the wandering people was to bear down in pure testimony against them – definitely a strong witness of how powerful it is to share what you know to be true through the power of the Holy Ghost! And how effective! In Alma 5:14-19 he just throws down asking inspired question after inspired question. Have ye received His image in your countenance? Have you had a mighty change in heart? Do you look forward with an eye of faith? Can you look at God in the last day with clean hands and a pure heart, having his image engraven on your countenance? Super powerful missionary. It gives me hope that I will be able to continue increasing in strength while I am here.
A big shout out to Ella Stacey, Naomi Clutter, The Ownbys, and Sister Garrett for the wonderful mail! You people are wonderful and absolutely made my days! Also, I’m speaking in church on the 14th about service, so if any of you have any brilliant ideas, stories, or examples that you feel need to be heard by the Miamians, send them on over! Also, Sister Heacock, my last comp, baptized a guy last week with whom we had been working! So exciting!
Sister Monsuy quote of the week (that probably made me laugh much harder than you will):
Sis. Burdett: “Man, I miss the Elders. Maybe they don’t like us anymore.”
Sis. Monsuy: “It’s okay Sister. They just want to avoid temptation.”
I love you all! Remember that all of the things for which you were grateful last week came from Him. And that we really should continue being grateful every single day. After all, it’s a commandment – in all things give thanks. Also, especially give thanks that you don’t have to sleep in an electric room and depend on food from an Alcoholic Humanitarian Houdini.
Sister Burdett

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This first lovely foto is me in the ceiling of our church building! We use our family history center to e-mail here, but the bishop never gave us keys, so we act like secret agents and open the door with a cord after removing the ceiling tile.
Also, this is Sis. Monsuy and I right before Thanksgiving. Not an awesome picture, pero mejor de nada!

La Lucha es Real

Received 11/24/14

Familia! Alo!
We had yet another surprising week here in the land of Flags that started not less than an hour after I e-mailed you last week! While shopping for cereals, Sis. Sanchez received a phone call from the Assistants: she was getting emergency transferred! And you’ll never guess who came to live with me and be Sis. Madsen’s companion: Sister Montoya! Woooooooooooooo. I’m so very, very happy! Now I get to see her die! Pretty wild stuff. She had to get surgery last week and is on bed rest for at least a week more, so we’ve been doing exchanges right and left to help Sis. Madsen work her area. It has been difficult because we’re sacrificing a lot of hours that we really need, so our numbers are lower at the moment. But it’s worth it to have her here with me! This will be my third transfer living with her, so we’ve gotten pretty close. It’s good to have her around. It has been so strange to go out with Sister Madsen though! We haven’t taught together since the MTC! She’s having a lot of self-confidence issues, unfortunately, but Sis. Montoya, Sis. Monsuy, and I are doing our best to encourage and help her in our own unique words and ways. Her trainer did a lot of things for her and hindered her progression a little bit, so she’s still kind of learning the ropes, but things are improving with her daily. She just needs a constant flow of positive feelings and the truth. We have to encourage her a lot to trust in herself and her calling. God truly has trusted us to be His hands here, and because of that we have to take action. He trusts us to make our own decisions and to represent His son, all he requires of us is our best effort. We fail all of the time, it’s just part of the mortal deal, and sometimes that really does make it hard. But as long as we do all that we can, He promises to take us the rest of the way, to guide us with the Spirit and to help others recognize the truth too. It’s truly remarkable when you start to recognize how many tiny details He influences to make His work come together and move forward – and that’s just here! It’s happening all day, every day, all over the world! Si, la lucha es real, pero totalmente vale la pena.
We had Specialized Training on Friday during which we met up with the four southern zones, so I got to see my old district again (at least, what’s left of it)! It was fun to have some friends this time. During my first ST, I hardly knew anyone at all, so it was a bit uncomfy at times, but fortunately I have had several companions, districts, and now areas, so it makes our big meetings much more exciting! Definitely something good to look forward to. And President Richardson had a big surprise for us: he finally let us watch Meet the Mormons! It was amazing! The chapel felt just like a movie theater – people were even texting and everything! No popcorn though. I found it very uplifting and encouraging, and I loved the variety of people they focused on! If you haven’t seen it yet, go and do!
Our crazy Christy is quite the interesting lady, and now she has been awarded the title of “Best Drunken Missionary in Miami” (still unofficial) because of her impressive efforts to share the gospel, even though she isn’t quite a member yet. The other day as we sat waiting on the pool deck of an apartment complex for her, we were surprised when she arrived with two new friends with whom she wanted to share “the word”. They ended up being really cool! One of them was Muslim and the other not very religious, but we ended up having a really positive conversation. The only problem was that Christy was so drunk that she wouldn’t really let anyone finish their thoughts and interrupted everyone. Thank goodness for the Word of Wisdom. She does an amazing job of sharing how the gospel is helping her, but we’re still trying to train her up on the finer details. It’s a work in progress. 🙂
Something that has relentlessly come up in the past little while has been the importance of specific prayers. I am just beginning to understand how powerful a prayer can be when you ask your Heavenly Father for exactly what you want. Don’t just pray to have success and happiness. Pray that during the next hour you will find a family of four while you are knocking doors that will get baptized by December 7th – because it works! As long as you ask in faith and you do all you can do to accomplish what you have asked for, it happens. Seriously. Try it. In Alma 2:28, it talks about how they prayed mightily to specifically overcome their enemies, even though they were numbered as the sands of the sea. And they did! And then they used their bodies as a bridge to cross the river (maybe the words aren’t exactly asi, but that’s how I like to picture it – the scriptures get really exciting when that’s basically your only reading material). We have a recent convert here named Maria who tells us that she always talks to God like he’s her “BFF”, and it really is true. Every time she prays with us, she’s honest and her words come from the heart. That’s really the point. Let Him know what you really want and need. And then act in faith afterward. I had so many more stories to tell you about this, but no time to do so!
But go say a specific prayer today! Make God your BFF! I know it sounds ridiculous! But don’t you think that your Father wants you to be honest and candid with Him? He has all the tools imaginable to help you. You just have to ask.
Besitos!
Sister Burdett

DSCN0460[1]awkward pre-email selfie because I always forget to take pictures during the week (I’ll repent, I promise). Sorry that I look like a noodle-head. 🙂 Also, I promise that I don’t wear the same outfit every day.