Creepy Vans, Free Food, and a Mindful Father‏

Sent 2/17/15. Posted 3/3/15.

DSCN0927[1]Turns out that a ‘member needing help moving’ actually means ‘give the missionaries all of the things that you don’t need’! We certainly did not complain! A backseat- and a trunkload-full later, we were happy campers.
RSCN0933[1]Also, everyone should internalize this McDonald’s sign. And look at those clouds. Florida skyscapes. Can’t be beaten., querida familia!

Happy Valentine’s Week! Not that that really means much for a missionary, but what better demonstration of love to someone than to share with them the infinite and never-beaten love of our Savior, Jesus Christ? So by the world’s standards, perhaps our Valentine’s would have been deemed “pretty lame”, but by God’s standards hopefully it was seen as a little bit better than that. 🙂
Hope that you all had fun (without me, impossible) in the new house! Sounds like it was a good time for all, but I have to say, it was super weird to see both Em and Molls momming it up in the same picture. Good weird, but still weird.
This past week I’ve had a lot of experiences in which I’ve truly been able to recognize the Holy Ghost’s presence. That has been something that I’ve skruggled with a lot throughout my few months out here: really feeling like we are being led, guided, and worked though by the Holy Spirit. It can be difficult to recognize sometimes, even as a missionary, because one gets so accustomed to having it that it can be a bit easy to forget. Yet on a Fire Exchange (don’t know why we call it that, but it’s just a quick, hour-long exchange) with my good pal, Sister Mahterian, I was able to realize that God really is just as mindful of us and our individual needs as He is of the people with whom we are working. It is easy to see for others, especially when you can be a spiritual spoon-feeder for them, but she said an awful lot of words that I really needed to hear and was able to lift me up out of a whirlpool of “you’re-just-average-and-not-too-effective” feelings. We all get caught in those, I think. It was important for me to recognize the Spirit working through her as she spoke to me about seeing the Spirit work through me, and really changed my perspective. That all probably just sounds like a confusing, ambiguous circle of words, but all I’m really trying to say is that God loves you. So much. And is so very, very aware of what you need. And that He will send the people that you need and that need you.
Another cool HG experience occurred as we attempted to contact a Media Referral named Joly. I won’t give you the details because I don’t want to freak you out too much, but spiritual warnings of danger are real, and Heavenly Father will protect you and let you know when to get out of bad situations.
Hilda is still a miracle-woman! She has been off coffee and tea since Friday and is still staying strong so that she can be baptized this Saturday (Feb. 21st)! We couldn’t be more excited. It has been a really uniting thing for us and the Elders in our ward because they had been previously teaching her and have passed her on to us because the new ones don’t speak Spanish (it’s a long story), but as we have worked together to get her to this point, it has helped me remove some competitive feelings that sometimes arise from reporting numbers. Really, it’s all for Jesus, in the words of my mission-mom, Sister Calvo. And how great is our joy.
We had a pretty funny day at church this past Sunday, mostly because of our dear friend, Bart, who came to church for the fifth week running (minus Stake Conference). Our Gospel Principles lessons was all about our freedom to choose, and a word that frequently came up was “agency”. For those of you who don’t speak Mormon, all this means is the God-given ability to choose. But we hadn’t yet taught Bart this word, so we ran into some confusion and hilarity. He raised his hand in the middle of class and asked, “So riddle me this: agency is the same as agenda. What do you think?”. None of us really new what he was talking about, but it was a good opportunity to teach. As members of the church, we use a pretty unique vocabulary without recognizing it. Wards (not psych), stakes (not meat), the Atonement (not a disease), etc. We’re striving to never say any of these unfamiliar words in lessons, without clearly defining them, but clearly, we’re not perfect. No one likes to feel dumb, and, really, people will probably think we’re a little less weird if we used more normal words when inviting!
Sorry this e-mail is so weird.
Also at church, we met a recent convert named Aldo who had just moved in. His first question for us was, “So how can I become a missionary?”. As we quickly started to pump him up and encourage him, his next question was, “Awesome. So how can I become a bishop?”. We decided to just ship him off to Gospel Principles for that one. And Maria, another RC, started her new calling of Valiant 8 teacher (Sunday school class for 8 year old kiddos), but pleaded us to come support her and to fill the extra time. We have a super close relationship with her, and we’re striving hard to have a good hand-off from us to the ward, but we happily agreed to support her. She didn’t need us one bit! She was so bold with the kids and is really striving to make it a spiritual and meaningful experience for them – they are not going to forget her. She is amazing!
We helped a lady “in our ward” move out of her apartment this week and get on her way to Texas. A member of the bishopric (more Mormon vocab.) called and told us she needed help cleaning it out. After getting off the phone, we groaned a little bit based on past experiences of cleaning others’ houses (puedes decir, ‘tantas cucarachas’?), but when we arrived equipped with smiles, we were pleasantly surprised to find a shopping cart filled with food and other various sundries of which Sister Ramos said, “So this is either for you or the garbage can! Take your pick!”. Oddly enough, we had forgotten to buy a few necessities last P-day (namely toilet paper), but we were striving hard to ration so that we could be obedient and not go shopping on a not-P-day. Lo and behold, the Lord provided and more. So very, very mindful. 18 rolls of Charmin Ultra, new cereal bowls, and pounds of rice later, we drove away, happy people.
Now that I’ve conquered Alma in the Book of Mormon, I’m just crashing my way to the end and have almost blown through 3 Nephi. There are so many gems there, and I want to call attention to 3 Nephi 5:1-3, which begins, “And now behold, there was not a living soul among all the people of the Nephites who did doubt in the least the words of all the holy prophets who had spoken” wowowow! True conversion and trust completely in God and his patterns – He truly is the same, yesterday, today,and forever! That’s why it is so crucial to know that He has yet again called a prophet on the earth – just as he always has done. Throughout the history of all time, God has given us prophets to bless our families and to know His specific will for us in specifically these days because He loves us. It truly is that simple. While you’re in 3 Nephi, scootch on over to 6:14 and 9:13, which talks about deep and lasting conversion. If we truly are converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and really understand it, well, all of us would become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and would never fall away! Yes, it’s bold to say, but this really is God’s church on the earth. There’s just no other way to say it, and absolutely no way around it. It has been such a blessing to see this conversion deepen in myself and the people around me. The most important soul to bring to Christ on my mission will certainly be my own, but what an amazing process it has been to see.
I love you all! Have the best week of your life! Because TODAY IS THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE! So make it that way!
Besitos,
Sister Burdett

My Companion is Chuck Norris and a Good Knock-knock Joke‏

Sent on 3/2/15. Posted 3/3/25

DSCN0944[1]My lovely apartment/MTC mates on the way home from DT.

DSCN0947[1]And I got too much birthday mail one day. The apartment was not pleased. (Thanks to all who remembered Eliza on her 20th birthday!!!)

DSCN0950[1]A wrong turn allowed us to catch a glimpse of Downtown Miami!

Mision diciembre 21^12^14 002a super beautiful shot of Miami.

Hola, chicos!
We had a pretty wild experience in the which we followed a prompting and helped our Heavenly Father take care of a missionary’s family while he was gone. She had, unbeknownst to all, been seriously struggling with her testimony and forgiving others, and God sent us to the right place at the right time, so that over the course of three hours, she could get everything out and that we could deliver words straight from her Father. It was a very powerful spiritual experience for me as well, and a reminder that He really will take care of the people that I love while I am gone, and that he’ll probably do a whole lot better job than I ever could.
On our way to contact a referral, we parked down the street and started walking to his house trying to take advantage of any opportunity given to open our mouths. Surprisingly enough, the second my foot hit the pavement, a man came ambling down the road in his bike and stopped to ask us if we were there to pick up the TV on the corner. After fumbling for an answer and coming up with, “No, we already have one” (that’s not really a lie, is it?), we started chatting with him a bit. Disappointed that we weren’t going to take this giant television off of his hands, he started to bike away, but we stopped him by saying, “This is for you. God loves you”, and handing him a picture of Jesus Christ. Yes, though it sounds extremely cheesy, it’s a new OYM approach I’ve been taking from the which I’ve had some pretty cool results. And this one was the coolest yet. As he took the card, he looked at it in silence for a few seconds and then looked up at us with his eyes full of tears and said, “I needed this.” We started to reply along the lines of. “Yes, everybody needs Christ”, but he interrupted and insisted, “No, I REALLY needed this”, and proceeded to tell us the story of his life including his mother’s death at age six, escaping from Cuba and winding up here, losing every job he’s had because of his drinking problem, and his sincere love for cats. He had been questioning that God even existed and began to ask us pretty earnestly about what we believed. It really was extremely touching, and we knew that God had sent us to him at that exact moment to remind this man that He loves him so very, very much. We gave him a card with our number on it, and parted ways, yet he had barely gotten thirty feet on his bike when he stopped and turned around, shouting down the street, “Will you pray for me? My name is Gregory Salgeiro!” It sounds so simple, but I will never forget that moment. Later that night we had a voicemail from his wife, thanking us and telling us that Greg said he had seen two angels that night. We’re excited to really start teaching them this week.
We visited our precious 90-years-old-and-still-working-full-time ward chorister this, Sister Jones, week. God bless that woman. I have never, in my life, enjoyed singing in church more than when she is leading the music. She dances and tries her best to get some emotion and smiles out of the congregation, and she succeeds every time as far as we go. Her husband has developed dementia and now refuses to come to church, even though he converted her. She told us that she feels God’s love for her every sunny day when she walks Phoebe, her boxer, and she can feel the sunshine soaking into her skin like a warm hug. On those days, her prayers always begin with “Thank you for this beautiful day”, but on rainy days she told us she just says “thank you for this day”, but not this beautiful day. She is the sweetest little woman to walk the face of the earth, right after Sister Chu.
On my full-exchange with the STLs last week I also learned that the sisters in my last area have baptized two people that I had been teaching, and one of the son of one of them too!! Hallelujah for persistence, patience, and faith. Woo! All for Jesus!
Quote of the week came from my dear, sweet companion: “Have I ever told you how grateful I am for you? Do you know how bored I would be with someone normal?” This was stated after I employed my lovely birthday gift from Sister Rowley: a whoopee cushion. Some of us just never really mature.
We had a pretty wild Zone Conference this week that may have changed my whole mission. It caused us to raise our faith and drop every person from our teaching pool who was not elect. And it was not an easy thing. But, we are trusting in our Heavenly Father that as we apply the things we studied and learned and as we bike our little-sister-hearts out. Somehow, whenever we’re on bikes, the ZLs happen to call us and are always absolutely shocked that we’re biking. All of the Sister areas have cars, so usually biking isn’t a thing for us ladies, but we make it a thing. It’s awsome! As long as you’re wearing the right skirt, anyways! We are being tried a bit, but know that God works miracles only through faith.
Heavenly Father played a joke on us this week. We had been praying all day to find a family of 5 (mother, father, and children) that speaks English and that would be willing and prepared to hear the message we brought. We thought that our prayer was specific enough and asked God to lead us directly to their house. We magically ended up in a neighborhood that we had found last week but couldn’t find again despite our sincerest efforts, and knew that we were there for a reason. After some crazy intense revelation-receiving experience, and telling God that we knew we would only have to knock one door to find them because we trusted He would lead us there, we walked up to the decided-upon house….just to find that we couldn’t knock the door. The courtyard gate was locked. We decided to ring the doorbell, but no answer. Yet we recognized that we had prayed to only knock one door, and were determined to ask again where the house was. We confidently walked up to our next house and…..unlocked gate! We knocked loudly and clearly! The door opened to reveal…. an old Cuban woman. Who spoke not a word of English. Curses. After praying with her and whatnot, we were walking back to the car a bit dejected, but I had the brilliant idea of ringing one more doorbell, because it wouldn’t be knocking again! After praying, yet AGAIN, to know, we walked up to a house to find another unknockable door – and rang! Yup, no one answered. Walking back to the car, I look up and realize… I know that house…. And then it dawns on me: We were right across from a member family home. That happens to be a family of 5. That only speaks English. That would have been more than happy to receive our message that night – because they were already members! I literally laughed out loud. Oh man, that was a good one!
Needless to say, we learned our lesson on specific prayer, and now always include “that are not already members” in our requirements for people. Haha!
3 Nephi 18 is probably the most amazing chapter in the Book of Mormon, inside which can be found the commandment to partake of the Sacrament each week and to pray always (v. 10-11 and v. 19-21), but I especially loved verse 24, in the which Christ says to “…hold up your light that it may shine unto the world”, a similar admonition to that of Matthew 5:16. It also reminded me of Paul’s words, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. Let the world know! Jesus Christ’s Atonement and sacrifice are the greatest gift that we have to receive in this world! So let us give it, freely and willingly. In the words of Nacho Libre, “It’s the beeeehhhhssstttt!”.
I love you! Write a missionary! Give someone a picture of Jesus! God just might have put you in their path just for that purpose.
Sister Burdett

Milagros para siempre. SIEMPRE.‏

Sent 2/23/15. Posted 3/3/15.

DSCN0938[1]Hilda’s baptism day! Us with her daughter, Norka, and her two grandkids. (Hilda was baptized on Eliza’s birthday!)

DSCN0940[1]She and Elder Bloomfield are the best of friends, even though they can’t communicate for beans. 🙂

DSCN0934[1]This is me picking bugs out of the baptismal font… we maybe forgot to sweep it before beginning to fill it…

Hello family!

IT WAS A MIRACLE WEEK.
Really every day is full of miracles, it just takes the right eyes to see them, but this week they were gushing out from the windows of heaven and we’re extremely visible to the naked eye. So MANY!
Firstly, Hilda was baptized on Saturday, the 21st! Probably the greatest birthday weekend of my life! And definitely the most stressful and exhausting. We were really nervous to do a Saturday baptism because we were worried about attendance, but our ward miraculously pulled through and we had 22 people show up, not counting missionaries! AND Rene, our favorite less active/returning member came with his mom!! And we did a chapel tour with him this week! He hasn’t set foot inside a church in 21 years. TWENTY-ONE YEARS. It was a beautiful thing. We sat in the chapel with him and read from 3 Nephi 18, and he paused in the middle of a verse to say, “I don’t know why, but I just feel so much peace right now”. We couldn’t believe it. The family history center opened up right at the end of our tour and we discovered that he has a HUGE interest! He sat down with an amazing member of the Spanish ward for a good half hour setting up his account and learning about family history and temple work! It all came from a random invite to the English class we’re doing on Tuesday nights, even though he already speaks perfect English. Trying to get him to church has been like pulling toenails off (ew), but to our invitation he just said, “Ok. I’m on my way”. What! So, so good. He still hasn’t come to an actual Sunday service, but soon. He took three huge steps this week and we are so excited to see him keep progressing.
Anyway, the baptism came together amazingly, fit with cookies, programs, and the works. Her nonmember daughter and two grandsons came too, and we’re going to start teaching them this week! God is good.
We may have laid on the floor for fifteen minutes after everyone left and all was cleaned up.
And the following day the four of them marched on over to church together for her confirmation. It was a wonderful thing. After an exhausting hour of translating Sacrament meeting, a completely Spanglish Gospel Principles lesson, and some head-bobbing in Relief Society (don’t tell), we arrived home spiritually full and physically empty. It was the BEST!
I exchanged to YSA on Friday, too, which added to the fun and exhaustion. My entire mission, I have refused to accept the possibility of me ever serving in a YSA area. No thanks. We do a full exchange every transfer with our STLs (which have thusfar all been YSA areas), but I have stayed in my own area for four transfers straight. I was thinking that I was going to set some kind of record until I learned that in my fifth transfer my streak was to be broken. But what an amazing break it was! I got to spend the day with Sister Mahterian, just a transfer older than me, and it was basically a party! I got to see Elizabeth, the amazing RC who used to come out with us in Killian, who came out with us from about 2:30 to 9:00 – AWESOME. We saw so many miracles! After teaching a girl who was high but who loved the Plan of Salvation, we headed over to a “meal appointment” that was forgotten about by the member… awkward. But he quickly called his next-door neighbor and told him to come over for ten minutes to make up for it. Little did we know, we were about to meet the most elect individual of my life (except maybe Mayte). Enter Jonathan, the most spiritually hungry 20-something you could ever meet. There occurred the most spiritual Restoration lesson of my mission. We just had a great day, that’s all there is to it. I think I needed it for God to tell me, “Hey, YSA really isn’t as bad as you think”. I really don’t want to serve there still, but my heart is just a bit softer.
Yesterday we went to a less active’s house with a cool member, Bro. Santos. His NM mom let us inside and was so excited to see us. She called upstairs for him and we began to wait. And wait. Ten minutes passed by. And then we heard the shower turn on. This man was determined not to talk to us. So his mom suggested we call up the stairs to him. So began the yelling. It was one of the weirdest things ever, calling for a man who apparently hates the church in a house full of roaming cats with a member who had never gone out with us before. He never came down. Baby.
We also looked for another less active, just to find out that he died… fifteen years ago! It was really quite sad, because he only would’ve been 25 at his death, but were going back this weekend to teach his wife the Plan of Salvation.
Also, we forgot to sweep out the font before we started to fill it up, so guess who had to wade in the water picking out weird little dead flies (see picture attached).
And, mom, I finally followed through and bought Sister Chu a pie! We took it over last night and brought a little tear to her eye as we sliced up the lemon meringue and told her we loved her! That woman will be exalted on high.
I love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers and support to make all of these miracles come to pass! Sis. Mahterian stuck a post-it note in my planner and titled it “Milagros” (miracles). Now every time I see one, small or big, I write it back there. As you start to keep track, the more you notice, and the more you count the countless blessing you have. Try it.
Sister Burdett

Pretty Lady and Miss Juicy, Taking Miami by Storm‏

Sent on 2/9/15

DSCN0538[1]Con la pan pan pan!This is the pan that Ben Reaveley made for us! Still hasn’t come to church, but we’re making progress.

Familia!

A funky week. A fast week. Can’t believe it’s already P-day.
We had quite a few interesting experiences, though that really shouldn’t come as a surprise because I’m serving in Flagler.
We came across a name in our ward directory that had, “Says he’s not a member, but is super friendly! Try again sometime.”, and decided to take the anonymous past missionary up on it – and had luck! The house had a huge gate all around it, and we started to lose hope, but, as we combed the perimeter looking for an entrance, we found a doorbell! A wonderful lady came out to talk to us, and after saying hardly anything more than, “We’re the missionaries from your church!”, the gate was slowly sliding open to admit us! And we got them to admit that they really are members of the church! After a fun conversation, we were able to boldly invite them to a church they haven’t been to in 20 years – and they said, “Well, I think that you being here is a sign from God that it’s time to come back!” We are anxiously expecting them this Sunday.
Stake Conference threw a bit of a wrench into our system this week, because the chapel is pretty far from us, but we were able to get an AWESOME less active and her adorable 2-year-old daughter to join us! Though I have to say, she was not so adorable when we first met her. It was kind of a funny story. Sis. Endemaño and I are trying absolutely EVERYTHING (within reason) to find new people because we are no longer required to knock doors for an hour each day – woo! Now that we don’t have to fulfill that requirement, we have more time to explore more finding activities and don’t rely solely on that. One of these “activities” was to call everyone in our phone listed as an investigator. Which was A LOT of people. These phones just stay in the area and get passed from missionary to missionary, so it hadn’t been cleaned out for a while. After a whole bunch of “We’re sorry, but the number you have dialed has been disconnected. Please hang up.”, and “Numero equivocado!”, we actually found some success and set up five return appointments for the week! And one of them wants to feed us! The coolest one, by far though, was Sara, who turned out to not be an investigator, but a less active who was baptized with her family when she was eight but hasn’t been to church since she was fifteen! Even though her little daughter Mila was NOT happy with us the first time we came over (it was time to watch Dora, not time to read the scriptures), we still had a really spiritual experience and she know it’s time to come back.
We’re still working with cool Danny! He’s having a hard time understanding the priesthood, but he believes the Book of Mormon is true with all of his heart! He loves the Lord so much, and recognizes that God sent us to him to “provide [him] with new knowledge to help [him] spiritually progress” (quoted from his closing prayer)! We took a super rad member with us, who is basically like a third companion for us when we teach. We love him, but just found out that he’s moving out of our area. 😦 He told us that we can still call him to come out with us though! Yeah! Too bad our rules don’t work that way.
We finally got to catch up with Crystal this week, an AMAZING, but hardcore Baptist that we found right before Christmas! And she is SO COOL! She and her daughter, Tyler, took us to Denny’s this week, and she then had us over again the next day for pasta salad, sandwiches, and further gospel discussion. She’s reading right along in the Book of Mormon and has a lot of real intent. She is a very, very religious woman married to an atheist (for some reason we see that a lot here), who avidly studies the Bible, but doesn’t go to church because she just has gotten a strong impression to get out at every one she has tried. She’ll be joining us at church this Sunday, hopefully with her whole family! She’s a huge miracle!
This week I was humbled a lot by Helaman 12: 7-22, which talks all about man being below the dust of the earth because whenever God commands the dust to move, it obey without fail. Yet we, as mortals, are constantly failing in doing the things that He asks of us. Though we often don’t intend to intentionally disobey, we do. All the time. But, we have hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice for us, we all can be made clean and try our hardest to be as obedient as the dust. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to change each and every day! I found great hope in the beginning of the chapter, in the very first verse, which states: yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him. How cool is that! All we have to do is trust. So get over your trust issues and do it. And then you will be blessed with greater happiness than you’ve ever known! That’s doctrine, chicos!
We, yet again, enjoyed a lovely and hilarious meal with Rena and JT, some recently(ish) converted people who live way down in Brownsville (real place). They like to nickname all of the missionaries and have been thinking long and hard about ours. Finally Rena came up with “Pretty Lady” for Sis. E and “Miss Juicy” for me. So that’s been fun. We’re still not really sure what Miss Juicy means, because Rena could only define it with seductive faces, but you know. I think this one’s open to interpretation. Anyway, the quote of the week goes to them:
Sis. Endemaño: “So JT, how long have you been growing your hair out?”
JT: “Oh, ever since I got out of prison… So like five years now!”
He also told us that he’s trying to find a job at a slaughterhouse, but I won’t tell you why!
Don’t worry mom, we’re safe. 🙂
I love you all! I hope that all of you are as aware of the tiny daily miracles in life as I am as a missionary! Go read your scriptures!
Besitos!
Sister Burdett

Aaaaaaannnndd the transfer call result is: stay! In Flagler!

Email & picture sent on 2/3/15. Posted 3/3/15.

DSCN0527[1]

We had a party at District Training. Even though Sis. Endemaño and I look a little dweeby, it’s still a keeper.

DSCN0544[1]

Also, here is a mounted policeman. Yes, you read that correctly. Ridin’ down the exercise trail by our house. IN THE MIDDLE OF MIAMI. Not the first time we saw him either! I don’t know who he thinks he’s going to wrangle, but it makes for a good picture.

Stay! In Flagler! WITH Sister Endemaño! To normal people, that really wouldn’t be much of a surprise because trainers and trainees casi always stay together for two transfers, but for a missionary who’s had a new companion every six weeks for just under seven months now, it’s a pleasant surprise! We are thrilled to work Flagler for yet another transfer, and are excited for what it holds in store for us. We’re losing three from our district, including our DL and my MTC companion and a chico, but it’ll be good to get some fresh blood in here!
Anyhow, hola familia! Hope things are going well! 🙂 What a wild week it was. Unfortunately, we hit a couple of snags with Mayte and 1. found out that she didn’t understand the difference between green tea and herbal tea, so her baptism was post-poned a week (don’t worry, she gave it up the minute we told her) and 2. learned from our president that we need to have her husband’s approval/support for her to get baptized. So that’s been interesting. But, on the plus side, He and their two teenage sons attended church with her this Sunday (VICTORY), which really was quite perfect, for many reasons, namely:
1. He believes we’re not Christians. So during Fast & Testimony meeting our dear, sweet Young Men’s president, Bro. Stubbs, gets right up to the pulpit and proudly states, “I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to be a Christian and to worship my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”, and proceeded to give one of the most eloquent and spiritual testimonies of the Savior that I’ve ever heard. I could have kissed that man. Except that would have been totally inappropriate on all levels, but the gratitude was almost literally gushing out of my heart.
2. He stayed for Gospel Principles which was taught by a recent convert of about three years now. The lesson just happened to be entitled “Jesus Christ, our Chosen Savior and Leader”. Funny how God works sometimes.
3. Bishop Fisher caught him in the hallway and handed off both a book called Are Mormons Christian? and the film The Work & the Glory, with a promise that he would read any material he found if Rick would read and watch these in return.
So, basically, it was a successful Sunday. Especially because we enjoyed not only Mayte’s family’s presence, but also that of Bart, Rochelle, Janel, Javier, and Myra (a recent convert’s mother) in Sacrament Meeting. Nine wonderful investigators of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints got to hear the powerful testimonies of our strongest members. It was a good day. 🙂
This week was also filled with many giggle-instigating moments:
1. Rochelle asking me, “Sister B., is that a smokey eye?” and Sister Endemaño quickly responding, “She doesn’t smoke!”
2. Me asking mi compañera in exasperation, “What am I, chopped liver?!”, and her golden response of, “You’re like lamb chops. A delicacy.”
3. After leaving a message with oodles of formers (we called every investigator stored in our phone, just to see if we’d have any who would bite – and we did! Four return appointments for this week!), Sister Endemaño informed me, “You sound so sweet when you leave messages. It seriously reminds me of a cinnamon roll.”
Needless to say, I’m glad to be staying with my companion.
Our ward is finally hearing the clarion call to the work (missionary kind, that is), and we have members lined up to go out with us yesterday, tonight, and tomorrow. Last night we called one of our reliables. It went something like this:
Yo: “Hey Bro. Brady! What’s up?”
Bro. B: “Hey Sisters! Do you need me to go out with you tomorrow?
Yo: “Actually, yes! How did you know?
Bro. B: “I’m in the middle of something right now, but I’m 95% sure I can make it work! Send me the details tomorrow! See you tomorrow!
All of this happened in under sixty seconds. While it may seem insignificant to you, this was a miracle indeed for Sister Burdett. Think about extracting a tooth, but also having to verbally persuade it to come out. That’s how it is with most people, but Brother Brady is always so willing!
On Friday night we received quite the surprise as we [lovingly(ish)] threw down on Ben Reaveley, our 31-year-old unmarried returned missionary buddy, for not coming to church or reading his scriptures. (see 2 Nephi 2:27), but before we left he said, “So Sisters, I’m not making any promises for church this Sunday, but I did make you bread.” Our hearts proceed to melt like an ice cream cone in Miami in July as he brought forward from the kitchen a loaf of hot buttermilk bread that he secretly pulled out right when we arrived. He didn’t come to church, but, man, did that bread make a good break-the-fast-PB&J. He drives us crazy.
After meeting with a recently-reactivated guy in our ward, before we left his home, we asked, “Anything else we can help you with this week?”, meaning to offer service, and to our surprise he replied, “Oh, yes! I was hoping you would ask!” He then proceeded to tell us about how he had fallen in love with one of the sisters in our ward and how he wanted to date her but needed us to “put in a good word” with her. So we, yet again, filled the role of Love Doctors. Fun times.
We also learned some cool Guatemalan phrases like “Mango!” (what you call a good-looking man) and “Papi chulo!” (not going to tell you what that one means) from some nice Guatemalans this week. They want us to come to their house for several hours and learn how to make food from them. We just might take them up on it next P-day (Que chilero!).
We knocked doors during the Super Bowl. Nearly everyone asked in exasperation, “Do you KNOW what DAY it is?!”. It was fun! We did not get invited to any of their parties this time.
I read Helaman 4:11,13 this morning. It was pretty awesome. Basically, after being extremely prosperous for years, the Nephites fall “would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them” and that “because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength” All of their strength came from the Lord, yet because of their failure to recognize that, he took his aid away. And they fell. Hard. Let us never boast in our own strength, but always in His. As my dear mother in the mission, Sister Calvo, says, “All for Jesus!”.
I love you! I miss you! Ire and Hare!
Sister Burdett

No Pudding for You!

Letter received on 1/26/15.  Posted on 3/3/15.

DSCN0545[1]

My lovely district. #Miamiforever

We will be sad to see Elders Dunford and Call and Sister Madsen go tomorrow.

Hey there familia!

Another awesome week! We are really seeing a change in our Key Indicators and in our feelings of satisfaction as we try to constantly seek the Lord’s vision for our area rather than our own – it has been truly wonderful! After a slow first few weeks of the transfer, we are so so excited to finally see some fruits! And aren’t they delicious!
Mayte is a miracle woman. I have never met someone so ready and prepared for this gospel. Everything we teach, she just says, “Okay, I can do that. I believe that. I feel that it’s true.” EVERYTHING! We are busy setting up her baptism for THIS SATURDAY at 11:00! We just reviewed all of the interview questions with her and she’s golden! I cannot tell you how strong her faith is. She is seeing so much opposition from her husband and other external factors, but she has told us that she is ready to quit her job if they don’t give her Sundays off and other really bold statements that just prove how real the Holy Ghost is. She knows that God has been preparing her for this time and tells us, “I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me by again.” SO HAPPY!
We are still teaching away Henry, our adorable little 8-year-old! He, too, is one of the most spiritually sensitive people I have met. In all of our lessons, he’s just so cute. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and afterward talked about baptism, telling it was something that would make both him and God really happy. His response was, “I know! That’s why I can’t stop smiling right now!”, and continues to accept everything as well as avidly read Book of Mormon Stories – our little member friend who is helping us teach him told us that whenever they have free-time at school, he pulls it out and reads it without any shame – such an example of the believers! We finally got to meet his mom yesterday (we had permission from the grandparents to teach him, and passed-on verbal permission from her, but now we’ve finally met face-to-face), and she’s super cool too. She’s not ready for him to get baptized yet, but we had an AMAZING member present lesson with her that really softened her heart. Woo! He has the most hilarious comments during our lessons though. He started telling us on a date his mom’s boyfriend took them on last week when they started “holding each other’s backs” (arms around each other’s shoulders, we think), and he said, “I was like, Oh my gosh, in front of Henry?!”. We also taught the Word of Wisdom to him and a few other 7-9-year-old squatters who, when we told them the prophet told us not to drink coffee, immediately commenced some scriptural wailing, exclaiming, “Oh, NO! MY MOM DRINKS COFFEE!”. It was precious.
We’re teaching a really cute couple, too, named Anthony and Heather who are super sincere about finding the “best” church to raise their new baby in. We were talking to A about the Book of Mormon reading he did, and he told us, “I don’t know. There are just some words in here that make me doubt that this is the word of God…”. We proceeded to ask him if there were any specifically, and he opens up to 1 Nephi 17 and tells us, “Okay, so all over this chapter it says, in the middle of the verses, “yea” (pronounced like “yeah”). Everywhere! I really don’t think that God says, “Yeah”. Thrilled that this was his biggest concern, we quickly informed him that it was written in older English, back when “yea” and “nay” were a thing, and brought the smile of understanding right back to his face. It’s amazing how quickly the right questions can clear up such tiny concerns that are often a big deal for people.
Bro. and Sis. Phillips are some good ‘ole, out-spoken, Jesus-lovin’, amen-ing in Sacrament meeting, people in our ward. I’ve probably mentioned them before, but they are the most golden-hearted people you’d ever meet. We had a bit of a cold front yesterday (62 degrees! fuzzy socks and warm jackets were worn – people even busted out their mittens and scarves!), and so the church was more ice-boxey than usual, and the Relief Society room even more so. A baby began to cry during the lesson, and Sis. Phillips shouts out, “No wonder that baby cryin’! He gon’ freeze!” A member of the bishopric had just walked in, heard that, and said, “Oh, would anyone like my jacket?” Her immediate response was, “Give it to that baby!” I don’t know if you think that’s as funny as I do, but it I laughed out loud. And still do when I think about it, come to think of it.
My lovely companion, Sister Endemaño said a wonderful thing this week during a lesson with Mayte: “There’s a difference when He knows that we know”. Chew on that for a bit.
Lovin’ on Alma 51:23,25-28 this week. Even though Moroni’s cities were so well-fortified, he got distracted by the contentions within his own people and allowed the city of Moroni to weaken. Amalickiah immediately took advantage of that weak link and occupied the city. He then proceeded forward strategically, taking six more cities. Only Teancum and his mightiest solders could stop him. Often after we work to get our defenses high, we get comfortable after a while and allow our guard to slip allowing the adversary to sneak in and, little by little, take control of small things. Often we don’t realize it until we are in too deep and almost feel it is impossible to be free. It takes our strongest efforts to combat him, to push him back out, and to throw a javelin into his heart (maybe not that extreme, but you get the visual). This was an awesome reminder to never allow myself to get comfortable! Especially when it comes to mission rules, my teaching abilities, and communicating in Spanish, for me. One of the greatest things about the Atonement is the constant change and improvement that comes when you really use it correctly. We should be bettering ourselves every day and never be satisfied until the perfect day!
We had dinner with the Hatfields this week, husband from South Africa and wife from Belize. Our Elders never showed up for the dinner, so we got to take their food with us (haha). She made us delicious butterscotch-ey pudding and told us to tell them, “No pudding for you, Elders!” The Gospel is ready, willing, and waiting for you to enjoy the delicious better-than-butterscotch flavor – all you have to do is show up to dinner or accept it to enjoy the most wonderful blessings that God has just cooked up for you! All you have to do is show up to dinner! Don’t be caught at the last day with him telling you “No pudding for you!”.
Sorry if that was sacrilegious.
So, an awesome week! I love you all! Keep strong! Tell someone that Jesus loves them today. And that you do too. 🙂
Sister Burdett

New Moves, Belly Shirts & Miracles

Letter received on 1/20/15. Posted on 3/3/15.

DSCN0502[1]So, a member has a pet pig. It lives in the house. Made me think back to my Rolla days!

DSCN0503[1]Yes, I held Lucy too! ( ***Editor’s (&mom’s) note: WE DO NOT NOW NOR WILL WE EVER HAVE A PET PIG!!!! Sorry Farmer ZsaZsa!)

! Friends! Countrymen!
Lend me your ears.
BEST WEEK EVER. After a’tryin and a’tribulatin mucho, Sister Endemaño and I finally saw the fruits of our patience and faith! Hallelujah.
We had the biggest miracle in the form of a woman named Mayte this week. She is a former investigator that members of the ward kept telling us to look up, with whom, after weeks of trying, we finally got in contact! And she is amazing! She answered our phone call on Thursday night and started asking us about how fasting works because she wanted to try it, so we dropped everything and rushed on over to her house only to have the most spiritual lesson we’ve had all transfer, and possibly of my mission. She’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for and is the most elect individual I’ve met in my life. After our 24-hour fast that the three of us did together to soften her husband’s heart, she told us that she blindly opened up to a scripture: Psalms 71:3, which states “Be thou my strong habitation, where unto I may continually resort… for thou art my rock and my fortress.” After reading it to us she said, “Right when I read the word fortress, an image of the temple popped into my mind and I knew. I knew that I missed the temple open house for a reason. That I wasn’t supposed to go in as an outsider, but as a member.” She’s getting baptized on February 1st. She went through the refiner’s fire once last year when other sisters taught her and she fell, but she’s determined to not let it happen again. THE LORD PREPARES HEARTS. The Church is true.
More updates on Bart: after a couple of interesting lessons to which we took our bishop and a Cuban man who just talks and talks and talks, we have learned that before Bart is taught the lessons he really just needs to establish a relationship with God, above all. He has a hard time believing that God loves him as much as He loves everybody else and really feels like he’s never had an answer to prayers. Ever. He adores the Book of Mormon, and really is just eating it up (especially the parts about the end of the world, his favorite topic), but he just feels like God has too many things to handle to pay attention to Bart. We are struggling, testifying, and sharing scriptures to help him recognize it, but until he lets himself feel it, progress will continue slowly. It’s been really good for me, however, to really get down to the nitty gritty of what we teach. Our ultimate purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by firstly forming a relationship with Him and with God. Everything we teach comes down to that, basically, and remembering that with Bart has helped me to more fully apply this principle. We also had to get it out of his head that he wouldn’t be naked when he got baptized (for some reason he was pretty stuck on that idea and didn’t like the sound of it). That was fun too.
We are still teaching Henry (8), and this week were able to teach his sister, Natalie (12), too! It has been pretty fun to bring everything back to basics and to teach the lessons through objects, stories, games, and anything to hold their attention and to get them to participate. We’ve also had Megan (9), a member, teach and play with us every time, which has helped them out a lot! She is such a good friend to them at church and at school, but sometimes her comments in the lessons just crack us up. For example, we started talking about Adam and Eve one day and her response was, “Ohh, didn’t they get in trouble for eating peaches, or something?”. Needless to say, those lessons are a hoot, but teaching children is the best! Henry came to church again this week AND brought a friend that we are excited to begin teaching too!
Speaking of our good ole’ forefathers, we met Ricardo, who, after talking with him for a bit, informed me that he and I are “medio hermanos”. I was super lost and thought I just misheard him (he’s Puerto Rican and doesn’t look a thing like me), but proceeded to tell us that when Adam ate the fruit, God grabbed him by the chin and shook him around to chastise him. This grab left the marks that we today call “dimples”, so, if you have them, you’re a direct descendant from Adam. Ricardo had dimples, but told me that we’re just half-brothers because I only have one. I love people.
While dining with the sassiest and biggest personalitied Rena, a recent convert of the last year, Sister Endemaño asks her, “So, Rena, when are you going to teach us how to dance?” Some eyeball scarring occurred that day. Rena’s a 56-year-old big African-American lady. She called out her 7-year-old granddaughter, Tay-Tay, and they then proceeded to twerk together. So that was something.
As we were knocking doors this week, we started chatting with a couple of Cubans who were fixing up their boat
After a week of all diligence, we had the most beautiful sight yet: 6 investigators at Sacrament and two less active families with whom we have been working. I’ve never seen the chapel so full – our attendance was up to 110 instead of the usual 80 or so! The bishop cried. I almost joined him.
I loved Alma 48:15-16 this week, which describes how the Nephites had faith that as long as they kept the commandments of God and lived righteously, that he would warn them of any danger and would bless them to prosper. It made me think of how fully our confidence should be, not only in God, but in the Holy Ghost as well. We must have confidence that as we live righteously, he will guide us every step of the way and will warn us of any danger, spiritual or physical. We can trust Him completely, as long as we are in the right way. What a cool promise.
Also, I was lovin’ on Alma 49:13-14, which talks all about Moroni fortifying the cities. He didn’t fortify just one, but fortified every single one, especially focusing on the weak ones and making them the strongest. I thought of Satan (a lovely thing, I know). How whenever he tempts us and finds that we are too strong to fall in that area, he doesn’t just give up and stop tempting. He instead moves on to our next weakest point and keeps battering away. Good reminder to strengthen all the cities of my spiritual nation-self.
I love you! Spread some sunshine.
Sister Burdett

Highlight of the week: seeing a very skinny old man literally strutting down the street in a belly-shirt. In shades. And a head covering. With a great big bushy beard poking out.

Bart quote of the week: “I don’t know about baptism, man. My hormones really aren’t what they used to be anymore.”