Coconut Assassin and True Love

Received 12/14/15

Familia!

     On Wednesday we celebrated Witlene’s 21st birthday with couscous and cake (see photo)! I am convinced that Blondine Jean is a bonafide angel in the flesh: she signed up to feed us and then moved the party over to Witlene’s house when she found out it would be her birthday. She provided a fabulous meal, wonderful company, and a beautiful spirit. She inspires me to be my best now and every day in the future. We need more Blondines in the world.
      We have been working with a straight up miracle man named Guillermo, a 19 year old engineering student who is seeking peace and restitution. His desire to know the Savior is truly pure  and sincere, and he acts immediately on every message we share. He rode an hour and a half by bus to come to church on Sunday #dedication, and he absolutely loved it! His favorite parts were that we all sing together (which in a branch of about 20 young adults from all over the world can be a little musically interesting) and the Sacrament. Pray for him to continue to progress towards his baptism on the 26th!
     We’re taking the new JustServe initiative in the Church and doing our best to run with it – we spent two glorious hours peeling off 15 year old wallpaper with some members (mom, it took me back to that Christmas break in Rolla!). I am so grateful to spend my life in service, especially during the Christmas season. How fulfilling it is to manually serve more often in addition to our daily spiritually service!
      I had a wild exchange with Sis. Soza, a Chilean sister, during the which we experienced the following:
  1. Almost being hugged by a strange homeless man at Wendy’s the moment we stepped out of our car (pass along cards make not only good conversation starters but good conversation enders as well, thank goodness).
  2. Being just 6 inches away from being assassinated by a flying coconut while knocking doors – don’t walk under palm trees in December, kids! Or probably during any month…
  3. Meeting a baby with a softball-sized belly button that cried like a grumpy old man.
        We’ll just say that that night’s journal-writing took a little longer than normal.
     We had an awesome little lesson with our friend Jonathan who is working on coming back to church and is now preparing to be a missionary all about keeping the Sabbath day holy. We read Mosiah 13:16-19, when a prophet teaches this commandment to some wicked folk, and right as he read the last word, he exclaimed, “WOW! This is my new favorite scripture in this WHOLE BOOK! It’s so TRUE!”. I love growing right alongside my friends here. Nothing beats sharing the joy of a newfound or refound gem in the scriptures except for experiencing it with your friends. He and Dayamar are progressing well spiritually but are facing a few temporal problems that have left them without transportation. Include them in your prayers!
     When you’re needing a lift for your spirits, watch this beautiful video: https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2015-05-003-lift?lang=eng We watched it with RC Zach this week and it touched all of our hearts and took our thoughts to becoming more Christlike. My thoughts have been turning to Him left and right as I strive to follow His perfect example and to help others to do the same, during the Christmas season especially. I was touched by Sis. Stephens beautiful lesson of love and obedience this morning in her talk “If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments” from last Conference. Everything, everything I have learned on my mission has been rooted in love, and I cannot express how grateful I am to have such an increased capacity and ability to love anyone and everyone. My desire to show my love for the Savior through my obedience has increased in seemingly mathematically impossible ways, and I can simply say that I have come to know the words of John are true: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). Once we finally have the realization that little Chloe has in Sis. Stephens’s talk (“Grandma, you want me to wear my seat belt because you love me!”), we come to a knowledge that we are given commandments not to be restricted or kept from ‘real fun’, but to become so much better. He loves us enough to help us, and has shown us the only way.
    So do it! If you love Him, keep His commandments!
   I love YOU!
 Hermana Burdett

Wonderful Life

Received December 7, 2015

12.6.15 Witlenes baptism day

Witlene’s baptism day!

Familia!

   It was a busy week.
  Full of exchanges, trainings, a temple tour, a baptism, a Christmas devotional, knocking doors, watching Christmas videos, seeing people cry, knocking more doors, getting stuck in Miami traffic, the works.
     And it’s WONDERFUL!
  Since I didn’t really fill you in last week, here’s the story of Witlene Gerve: One day, Witlene decided she needed more spirituality in her life. It was a Saturday night. She woke up early the next morning, put on her church clothes, and asked Heavenly Father to guide her to a church. She decided to simply go outside and ask the first person she saw to take her to church with him. She did so and the man that God put in her path just happened to be on his way to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She hasn’t missed a Sunday since. And was just baptized on December 5th. She is a beautiful person (see attached photographic proof), inside and out, and the branch is embracing her with both arms!
   We took a tour of the Fort Lauderdale temple grounds with Witlene and two members of the branch, Jonathan and Juan. It has been way too long since I have set foot on the grounds of a temple, almost to the point where I wasn’t sure if I would really feel a spiritual difference there, just because I had forgotten. We walked all around the building as a few men were setting up a beautiful Nativity scene and the Spirit filled my heart. We had a lesson all about the blessing of having the Priesthood, the power of God, restored to the earth, and talked about eternal marriage and families. Throughout the whole lesson I felt a pure burning in my heart, confirming with every word that it really is true – families truly have the potential to be sealed together for the eternities, and as long as we don’t mess it up, nothing can sever that!
    RIght now we’re moving forward and working with Natalie, perhaps the most elect and prepared investigator I have ever had! She acts immediately, recognizes the Spirit so well, and is so grateful. The elders in the area were biking around and saw a couple of kids outside playing basketball. They pulled over on their bikes and decided to start playing with them. Then, Natalie came out of her house to talk to them (one of the boys was her bro) and asked when church was, though she has never been much of a church-goer. They invited her to our YSA without thinking too much of it and passed us her info. Now, every time she prays in a lesson, she thanks God that she had the courage to talk to the Elders. After our last lesson with her, she sent us a text just to say thanks again for giving her a Book of Mormon and a Bible. SHE’S DOPE!
     We had so many awesome experiences while knocking doors that I wish I had time to tell you about. So many people that were in a rut that I know God sent us straight to their doorstep. Some day in the future ask me about Maggie, Raj, Paulicia, and Mercedes.
     I got to go on an exchange to my old area and saw Hilda, my recent convert, and Rena and JT! They are progressing wonderfully.
     This morning Alma 5:7 touched my heart and reminded me of Elder Bednar’s talk from the Devotional last night: ” Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word”. God is love. God is light. I have seen lives truly change for the better because of this powerful light.
    I love you!
  Hermana Burdett

Oh, Miami, I missed you.

Received November 30, 2015

11.30.15 My Posterity

 

11.30.15 My trio for 5 days!I GET TO DIE IN MIAMI!

    For those of you unfamiliar with Miami jargon, I would like to inform you that I am not actually dying. One simply refers to the end of her mission as death. Morbid but symbolic. Or something.
    I am currently serving in the Miami YSA (Young Single Adult) branch with Sis. Almeida from Brasil – a HUGE change from the fields of Lehigh Acres and the ghetto of Fort Myers, but an exciting and wonderful one as well! One fun detail is that we cover Flagler, the area in which I spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas – I have already run into a few old familiar faces and it’s great to see them! Basically, we cover from North Miami down to about Sweetwater, so we work in all of Miami’s beautiful downtown near the beach: Liberty City, Little Haiti, Little Havana, etc. And I love it!
    Leaving Rio Vista was hard, but I have been so richly blessed since arriving here – it truly has been a miraculous transfer week!
    The adventure begins on Wednesday night: while knocking doors searching for YSA, a broken fence got the better of Sis. Almeida. She got caught on it and fell. She got back up quickly and we hurried on to our awesome lesson with Jose and LA member, Jonathan – Jose has been so prepared to receive the Gospel! By the end of our lesson, however, Sis. Almeida couldn’t move her arm at all. Fortunately the Urgent Cares in Miami are open until 8:30pm, and we were able to make it there just ten minutes before it closed! They took an x-ray and confirmed our worrries – radial fracture! The tricky thing was that she needed to see an orthopaedic surgeon…and the next day was Thanksgiving….. turns out that every single one was out of town until Monday. So the waiting began. I have so much respect for my companion! We did not rest and she worked through the pain all day Thursday and Friday.
    We had an awesome Thanksgiving dinner with the Perez family, and were able to have more great lessons with Witlene, our fabulous Bahamanian investigator who is now preparing for baptism this Saturday, and Jose and Jonathan again. Witlene is absolutely wonderful and knows this Gospel is true. She is like a Gospel dictionary: every question we ask her, she responds with an eloquent and spiritually uplifting answer! She is a joy to teach.
     And then we arrive to Friday. After working all day, we get to have a bit of a break at a meal appointment with a member from a our branch and her sweet Honduran family. A couple hours later though, while teaching a lesson, we realized that we had gotten a little bit more than a break and free food – we also got food poisoning!
     Yup, Satan was working hard this week, but he could not stop us! Jonathan invited his girlfriend, Dayamar, to a lesson! I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone more prepared to receive the Restored Gospel. We have been able to be in contact with her every day since we met her and she is progressing beautifully. On Saturday night she asked us for another great chapter to read in the Book of Mormon – we opened to 3 Nephi 11, her previous night’s homework, and saw that she had marked and highlighted her favorite verses. It was a beautiful sight to behold. What a wonderful thing it is to see others feel the spirit and truthfulness of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I know that it and the Bible are the word of God. I read them daily. I love them.
     Sis. Almeida and I spoke in our branch on Sunday – we are small in numbers but it was a very, very spiritual meeting. The members that come are strong and loving. I saw about four people that I had met while serving in Killian and Flagler and it was so good to see some familiar faces!
      I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s church here on the face of the earth again. I love my Savior. I love helping others change their lives for the better. I know that light has been, is, and always will be stronger than darkness, and I know that all light is divine and from our Father in Heaven. I love this work – nothing is more fulfilling than helping people that I once knew before this life relearn the reason why we are here and what we need to do to live together after this life.
     I got some good studying in on some talks from the most recent General Conference (thanks for the Ensign and goodies, Mama!) and was touched by Elder Anderson’s talk “Faith is Not by Chance, but by Choice” from the Priesthood session. I loved his words on faith: “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not something ethereal, floating loosely in the air. Faith does not fall upon us by chance or stay with us by birthright. It is, as the scriptures say, “substance … , the evidence of things not seen.” Faith emits a spiritual light, and that light is discernible. Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it. Your faith is either growing stronger or becoming weaker. Faith is a principle of power, important not only in this life but also in our progression beyond the veil. By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name. The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice”. Those words struck my heart powerfully. I have seen over and over again the product of losing faith and choosing to doubt rather than believe in people I have met. But, I have also seen the product of choosing to believe, to trust in God, and to wait on His arm in patience and faith and, brothers and sisters, that product is much, much brighter and better.
      As my good friends once said, “Don’t get swept away by the winds of Satan! Whoa!”. But in all seriousness, the power is in your hands. Choose to believe. Choose to follow the light. Live intentionally and miracles will follow.
    I love you!
   Hermana Burdett

Scripture Power

11.24.15 Surprise trip to the hospitalSurprise trip to the hospital!

Received November 24, 2015

Familia!

    I love being a missionary.
   This week was wilder than the at Six Flags, but I’ll try to explain it to you briefly because I’m sitting on very few minutes to write this. #endingpdayearlyyeahwoo!
   I am sad to announce that I’ll be getting transferred tomorrow morning to my final area! We were white-washed! We are pretty bummed, particularly because of some awesome events that happened this past week, but are confident that it is the will of the Lord. He just has more people waiting for us in another part of Florida! I’ll send out my new address next week!
    Miracles happened last week.
   First off, we had a bit of a shock and two of our sisters in our sisterhood went to the hospital. One of them was quick – less than 24 hours – but the other was there for five days straight. That resulted in us being in a trio with Sis. Garlick for those 5 days! It was awesome! We had a lot of really great experiences all week long, one of the highlights being meeting Pinkie. We gave her door a knock, and she opened up totally shocked. She told us that two days before God had told her that He would send people to knock on her door to give her an important message about Jesus and that she should listen! The Lord really does send us where He needs us to be. The English elders are now teaching her and helping her learn about how the Church of Jesus Christ is back on the earth and she’s doing great!
     After many many weeks and worries with Marulani and Bricia, we were finally able to set a baptismal date with them to which they are 100% committed. I took a page out of my dad’s book and shared Mosiah 18:8-10 with them and asked them the same question Alma asks the people: “Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord…?” to which they both responded, “Nothing.” We were able to resolve their concerns and to invite them to a baptism in our ward on Sunday. They loved it and are now ready to make the covenant themselves, with their parents completely supporting! I am sad that I won’t be here to see it, but I trust the Lord has something even better in store. Time and time again, we find exactly what we need in the Book of Mormon to help people resolve concerns. Investigators, missionaries, ourselves, all of us will find direction and guidance as long as we read with real intent.
     Funny moment of the week: while we were in a trio, we learned that neither of my companions know how to swim! Hna Alcazar’s response to Sis. Garlick was, “It’s okay. I’ve been told that swimming isn’t essential for your eternal salvation.” And thank goodness it’s not! Missionary work would be a lot more difficult and dangerous.
     I wish I could tell you more of the great things that happened (one of them being Lourdes progressing significantly – she’ll be baptized Dec. 12th!), but time is escaping me!
    I loved reading in D&C 106:6-8 this morning, which reads, “And again, verily I say unto you, there was joy in heaven when my servant Warren bowed to my scepter, and separated himself from the crafts of men; Therefore, blessed is my servant Warren, for I will have mercy on him; and, notwithstanding the vanity of his heart, I will lift him up inasmuch as he will humble himself before me. And I will give him grace and assurance wherewith he may stand; and if he continue to be a faithful witness and a light unto the church I have prepared a crown for him in the mansions of my Father”. Yes, my name isn’t Warren. Your name probably isn’t Warren either. This section was very specific guidance to a very specific individual, yet I am confident that there is great joy in heaven when any one of God’s children chooses to humble ourselves before the Lord and decide to lay aside the things of this world for something better. All of us has divine potential, promises, and help offered to us, all we have to do is live worthy to receive them!
    I love you! Have a happy week!
  Hermana Burdett

Thrash the Nations! Shake the Gates of Hell!

Received November 16, 2015

11.16.15 Hair Do Hall of FameHola familia!

   Shout out to my sister, Mollie, who is now a pretty cool 24 year-old (if my math is right) – it was her birthday!

    Last Wednesday, Hna. Alcazar and I were able to find tucked away, little apartment complex that we had never visited before. We entered the gates and soon found that we had been transported to Meximala or Guatexico, a funny hybrid between the two countries that has a few Honduraneans peppered in. The field is white in Guatexico. We found 12 potential investigators in approximately 90 minutes! Those potentials led to Javier and Ramero accepting to prepare to be baptized on December 5th, Jeremias excitedly asking if he could have his own copy of the Book of Mormon, and Nahun telling us that he used to go to church in Honduras and that his uncle is a branch president! It also led to a woman yelling at us and telling us not to come back when she’s home and to a confused man pushing a shopping cart with a small Latin child in it who asked me, “…is this your son?”, but we choose to focus on the bright side.
      We decided to visit a few people who had been taught by missionaries in the past, and on Thursday night met Evelyn who immediately let us into her home. It was wild – she has five kids! We asked her how long it had been since other missionaries had come – she replied, “Oh, they came by last night!”, and we learned that their family was currently being taught by the Elders in the English ward in Lehigh and ended up just saying a quick prayer with them and recommitting them to read the scriptures that the Elders had left with them. On our way out, however, she asked me, “Wait, you’re from La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias? My friend is trying to find your church!” She excitedly called her and wrote down her address and told us to head over right away. (Just like when mother calls us) quickly we obeyed! That led to us meeting Lourdes, who is now preparing to be baptized on November 29th! Her daughter, Valeria was baptized in Honduras just over a year ago. Lourdes received the missionary lessons for about a year, but never was willing to get married to Valeria’s father, whom she was living with, and therefore never was baptized. Now, however, it’s time! She had only been in the country 17 days when we found her – the Lord really does guide us to where we need to be!
     While on a full-exchange with Sis. Jones, we chose to knock in some awesome white apartments that we were sure were the homes of concourses of Latins. We soon learned, however, that that was not the case and that we were simply knocking the ghetto. We were able to meet Sharon, however, whom we invited to church at 9:00am. “Ooooooh”, she replied, to which I said, “I know, it is a little early, but..”. Her immediate response was, “Oh, honey, for Jesus I would wake up at SIX A.M.!”. We love it when we find people who are willing to sacrifice! 😉
     Another massive miracle we saw this week came through boldness! We finally were very straight-forward with Cristal, Marulani and Bricia‘s mom, and invited her daughters to be baptized on a specific date. Cristal told us she would need to speak to her husband, Melvin, and didn’t seem very committed to doing it or confident that he would say yes because he isn’t very religious. We encouraged her to do it, however, and she promised she would. We came back a few days later to learn………. THAT HE SAID YES! And shocked the world by saying that he might like to be baptized too! The whole family minus Melvin came to church on Sunday, the first time for Cristal in years. It was a beautiful thing to see after working with them for so long. The are still deciding between baptism on the 28th or the 5th of December, but they are committed!
      What a week it was – truly brimming with blessings from the Lord. And I didn’t even share with you the half of them (just the most exciting ones). We ponderized 1 Nephi 1:20 this week while knocking doors, which reads, “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance”. “And [we] had faith”, just as Enos did (Enos 1:16). Truly it is faith that moves mountains, changes hearts, and effectuates miracles. Thank you for your prayers on our behalf – they make all the difference for us! James taught me that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”(James 5:16).
     I love you! Read your scriptures!
    Hermana Burdett
1. Hna. Calderon told us if we put tomatoes and almond oil in our hair for 20 minutes it would make our hair grow faster – who knows if that’s actually happening, but it made our hair soft and our bathrooms a mess! 🙂