Monday, December 8, 2014

My last epistle home


This is strange to think this is my last email home. I still have a hard time believing that it's actually going to end - you just feel like it will be another transfer. Things will be different though, everybody will say goodbye to you and you'll find yourself driving into NE Portland towards the airport. 

It is such a bittersweet experience. I have wavering thoughts about the entire thing. One day you'll feel ready to move on and other days I find myself sitting on the couch in our apartment thinking about how much I don't want to leave. I feel like anything I'd be doing would have little significance compared to what I'd be doing here. I know it's just a part of life though, a transition to another chapter in my life. This last week will be good. 

Leslie, our investigator, is still going strong and is excited for her baptism this week! It's exciting to get one right before you leave, and she wants me to baptize her! I will actually get to step in the water with somebody, so that's really exciting! Getting one just before I leave is sweet. Well, it's been a good experience. I have cherished my mission, I have learned so much from it. I tried my best, and have put forth my best efforts to serve with all my "heart, might, mind, and strength". 

I love you guys, and I'll see you next week..!


Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, December 1, 2014

15 More Days!!!

Happy (late) Thanksgiving!

Glad to hear Thanksgiving treated you well. I miss Thanksgivings at home, I enjoyed them the best. I mean, they've been good on the mission but it just isn't quite the same. We spent Thanksgiving with the Riley's- They invited us to go with them to a relative's house in the Aloha area, and we just ate dinner and played board games with them. The Raleigh Hills elders got us into playing chess, so we've playing quite a bit. I was holding my own pretty well, but I am pretty sure Elder Wheeler was hustling me because the scoreboard is 15-5-2 (in his favor). He just suddenly got much better, but it's been frustrating. I think I've psyched myself out because of it, because I am doing terrible. I hope to even up the scoreboard before I leave..!

But, aside from the holiday there hasn't been much going on with us this week. With everybody being out of town our schedule was pretty open. We had dinner with one of our investigators and her boyfriend (a member of the church), and that was interesting. It was their Thanksgiving dinner, but they did it on Saturday. What made it so interesting was the assortment of people- it was two Mormon missionaries, a family of people who love to party (drinking, clubbing), and a Jewish family. Such a weird collection of people, but they were all friendly and we had a great time!

The highlight of my week though was on Tuesday-Wednesday. I went on an exchange with the Market Street elders, and got to spend 24 hours proselyting downtown.

There was a mistake somewhere in these two years, I should have served downtown..!

It was great! It is definitely a difficult area (can't do much more than street contacting, working with the saints in the branch, etc.) but I freaking loved it! We had such good experiences. We were walking towards 3rd Ave. when we saw a group of people gathered, a big group. Well, we get up close and Elder Dierks says to me, "Oh, this is a protest" and sure enough— a protest about the Ferguson incident! It was a fairly big protest, lots of picket signs demanding justice, etc. We took off fairly quickly, but the whole way to our dinner appointment we saw tons of bike cops and horse patrol everywhere! We laughed, the bike cops blocked off bridges and everything. We joked about how they could just crawl over the bike tires, we still didn't quite get how effective of a barricade that was. They protested around downtown the whole night, it was a fairly big protest.

We ate a few burger joints pretty popular downtown- Killer Burger and Brunch Box. The food is really good down there, and the menus are infamous for their cleverly-named items. It was pretty cool but there are so many different restaurants and food-carts you could eat at. We'll have to come back and try some of them, I think you all would like it!

But, we spent most of our day walking through the streets, talking with a variety of people. We had some cool miracles though just talking with people! So, a little bit of back story for the miracle, we had district meeting two weeks ago and went to a McDonalds downtown. Well, Elder Dierks talked to a man there who looked down on his luck briefly. Well, fast forward to Tuesday night and we were walking along the waterfront looking for people to talk with. Well, I have this prompting that we needed to go back and talk to this man just sitting there eating a cracker. We'd walked past when I turned to Elder Dierks and say to him we have go back. Well, we approach him and it turns out to be the same guy from McDonalds! We talked with him for like 15 minutes and set up an appointment to meet with him at the branch!

So after that we walked towards the branch because it was starting to get late, and we saw another guy who looked down on his luck sitting on bench. We started to talk with him, and he told us his name was January. It was a street name he'd picked up, he was an interesting and friendly person. Had a really good heart, they both did. Well, we ended up talking about the phrase "the biggest thing since slice bread" and I made a pun about it being "food for thought". Well, after we all had a good laugh about it, he told us that he was glad we talked with him. He was having a rougher day and appreciated friendly faces to stop and talk with him and brighten his day up a little. We ended up teaching him the following morning at the branch as well, we found two new investigators for the branch in one night. It was awesome!

I have gained a new appreciation for the need of welfare/charity. While there are still people who put themselves in those situations, these two men had just had wave after wave of bad luck and misfortune. One of them was just trying to skim by until he could get money to get an apartment or someplace to live again, then find a job to support himself. He'd lost his job and gone through a series of events that left him broke and struggling. He was a college graduate, and such a good person. People sometimes just need help, it is scary to realize how close we can all be to that same situation.

But being with Elder Dierks was great as well, we have similar perspectives and have a similar sense of humor. We had a great night just laughing and talking. Their apartment is this small studio, and what's crazy is the mission office pays $800/month for rent. City living, I love it but it is really expensive. I wish I could have served in the branch..! I love the city, it's so weird because I don't fully get why all the time.

I also was suddenly hurled into speaking at a funeral this week! That was weird too! We had a guy we taught that moved to Texas like four months ago (don't know if you remember me talking about him), that killed himself like a month and a half ago. Well, his family out here decided to have a funeral for him in our church building. Only one of his cousins is actually a member, and the rest of them have little to no knowledge about the church. Unfortunately, not many people knew him out here. So, they found the person who knew him best, which happened to be me! I knew him for like, three weeks- spending like an hour a week teaching him. So I spoke to a small congregation of his mourning family (including his wife and children) about who Tom was..! Everybody said I did really well, and since I basically was speaking for half of the funeral, that was a compliment. Somebody said to me, "You'll make a great bishop someday!" I think by great bishop he actually meant to say ward librarian.

Well, it has been an interesting week--full of weird experiences! I am excited to come home, but it will be tough to leave. I have loved my mission, I really have. I'm especially grateful I got to spend it in Portland. Great experiences that have brought me much closer to God.

Well, I love you all. See you soon!

Love you,

Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, November 24, 2014

A lot of drug-related experiences this week


Living large and in charge at eighteen! Shooting at the range looks really fun, I actually am considering getting a concealed weapons license, and then investing in a WWII German Luger. I love those guns, they're sweet! Silas and I will definitely go shoot AK-47's when I get back. Happy birthday, Silas!

This week was pretty good. We had some more success in finding another guy to teach, he's pretty funny. We have had a lot of drug-related experiences this week. This guy was smoking weed out of a pipe while he was playing online video games. Elder Wheeler and Elder Schildknecht were on an exchange and they talked with him the whole time. It was pretty funny, but for some weird reason they went to Taco Bell afterwards. Elder Jacobson and myself talked with a guy in the parking lot of this apartment after dinner at like, 7:30? Well, he was very impressed with the church, and didn't get why people gave us so much grief. Well, he then proceeded to explain to us how smoking weed and eating mushrooms was the best way to experience spiritual enlightenment and that I seriously needed to consider trying them. I told him I would prayerfully consider it if he we could come back and share a message with him. He accepted and even said he'd read a chapter from the Book of Mormon! We'll see how that goes! Haha!

Another funny experience we had was one Monday night - we went to visit a potential but he lived in like the middle of the woods in this really ritzy neighborhood. Well, we pull over on the side of this dirt road at like 8:00, almost wrecking our car in this ditch. We get out of the car and I open the trunk to get a Book of Mormon out and suddenly hear his middle-aged man say, "Why, hello there!" We turn around to find this guy (50's) dressed in a tweed trench coat with a leather shoulder bag. He was apparently going around in pitch-black woodlands looking for donations. He was an employee for OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting), and we asked how it was going. He said to us, "Not well! It's really dark outside!" in this really happy tone! It was so weird, but freaking hilarious! Later as we're driving back we saw him again, but this time chatting with a cop (lights flashing and everything)! Haha, too funny. Weird experience.

But other then that, our week was pretty alright. It's been pretty rough trying to keep productive and focused. It just really hit mid-week and it's been hard since. We will keep it up, but it is taking a lot of effort.

Well, I love you guys! Have a great Thanksgiving! I hope that the week treats you well and that work/life continues to work out well for you (especially Ben, struggling with that stuff sucks).

Love ya,

Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, November 17, 2014

28 Days


So my new address is: 6773 Garden Home Rd., Beaverton, OR 97223. We love our new apartment, having that washer/dryer is nice! So you can send packages, etc. there.

Our week was good! We have been working hard (and I have been trying to keep myself from getting lazy or anything like that). We had an investigator at church again this week, the lady who is going to be baptized in December (hopefully). We also found a new person to teach this week which is great! (she met a guy in our ward through an online video game, We've been picking things up in this area, it's good to finally reap the rewards of our hard work and effort after a few months! It is interesting to me that (and this is true for pretty much any blessing), we are rewarded for our faithfulness but it often isn't in ways we expect. Like our knocking doors, working with members, etc. hasn't given us much but as we get out and work suddenly we get referrals through the media ( It's sweet.

People just get put into our paths when we do what's right and put the effort in! We decided to pray more frequently when we online proselyte, and the day we decide to do it I get a random friend
request from a lady in Scotland! Turns out she was a less-active member and wanted to get back into church so I am now talking with her and referred the missionaries to her house! It was great!

We have had good things this week-- trying to keep it going. The time is just flying by, it's crazy!
Well, that's all I got for this week. Love ya!

- Elder Samuel A. Burge

P-day fun

Monday, November 10, 2014

We moved!!!

Hola, mi familia!

It was a great week for us— a lot of success, which was great! We had two people come to stake conference yesterday. Leslie, the lady with the baptismal date in December, came with us! She's been making a lot of progress, and says she's really we enjoyed meeting with us thus far. It's been only good experiences with her, which is great to see.

We also found another investigator this week and he came as well. This guy from New York that moved out here like three weeks ago to try and make a fresh start for himself! What better way to do that then meet with the missionaries, right? So we've started teaching him and so far it's been pretty good. We tried to take him to the employment center with a member, but it ended up being closed so we talked with him at this really good doughnut shop down the street (he wanted some coffee- and it was either that or Starbucks so we went there). Tried to teach him, but this old guy sitting at the table across from us kept interjecting with his comments about God. Then he asked if we could drop him off at the waterfront, so we did.. It was strange day. He came to church though, and we're going to help him stop smoking, etc.

It was interesting. We also are now having our district meetings downtown at the institute building since the elders there don't have a car. That's awesome, I love it there! The room we used had a view of these high-rise apartment buildings, and there was a homeless man sleeping by our car in the parking garage. It was great, I still love the city. It's been fun having Elder Dierks and Elder Bishop (the Market Street elders) in our district. Gives me a reason to go downtown more frequently!

So regarding my bike, I'm going to just try selling it before I leave. I will post something and try finding somebody who is needing a bike. It's a great bike, so I think it should sell quickly. If it doesn't sell, I am not sure what I will do with it. I might just leave it here (I have some friends holding it for me in their garage), and keep trying to sell the bike. I really don't want to ship it back to Utah, it's expensive..!

We did finally get the okay to move into this new apartment! It's nice, we'll be closer to the church and have a washer/dryer! We are now going to be a hub for the other missionaries! We have six elders in our apartment right now. It's okay, we have great elders in our area.

Yeah, having Facebook can be challenging at times. You see your friends back home finally doing things they used to. It's lucky I am going home in five weeks. Seeing that would be tough if I had a long time left. I can actually grow facial hair now, so don't be surprised by anything I try to sport when I get back! Going home is such a strange thing..!

Training is going well, it's been getting pretty good. At first I was struggling with it a little bit, but it's gotten a lot better. Becoming good friends with Elder Wheeler, and we've been doing some good work! It's good.

Well, I hope Ben's romantic escapades to South America go well for him! Haha, it will be interesting to see how that works out! Hopefully well! It will be weird seeing Silas in "commando mode". Has he gotten bulkier? I feel like he should be doing like 500 push-ups everyday. I am determined to get into really good shape when I get home. I am sure many elders have had this same ambition, but hopefully I can fulfill my desire.

Well, I love you guys. Talk to next week.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge


"Trunky Mess"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Elders Wheeler & Burge
 All smiles

More smiles

Somebody is missing a happy meal

Ambush Selfie

Ambush 2

Ambush 3

Chillin’ at the luau

Father/son moment

Are we getting photobombed?

Waiting for the wedding to start

PDX’s finest respond to the car bombing

Look at the duck waddling by the fire truck

The incident response crew in on the scene

Splitting on splits

You think the frats get their hair cut next door?
OHSU Hospital lobby

Tramming – you ride the tram down from the hospital and do contacting all the way by up.

Portlandian paint job

Spreading the word about the “Lord” Funk?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Found my bike


It's crazy, the last six weeks is finally here. That's funny, we were actually talking about my living situation at dinner last night and that reference came up! I was thinking about that the other day. Lots of these little things I don't have figured out. Surprisingly, I am not feeling really overwhelmed about it. At the end of the day, I'll have a place to sleep and something to eat. It will work itself out (eventually).

Our Halloween was pretty enjoyable. We couldn't go out after six, so we went to the church with the Raleigh Hills elders. Turns out, the stake does a fifth Friday "open mic night". There's a lot of really talented people here, all aspiring musicians (hopefully some day their bands will finally take off!)

The people we're teaching are progressing, some more quickly than others. Our friend, Leslie, has been doing really well. She had gotten a call from her sister, and she was telling her all this crazy stuff. She told her that the women from the church would come and white-glove check her apartment to see if it was clean enough, and if not, then she would be shunned and excommunicated! Haha, it was hilarious, but she was pretty upset about it. So we just decided to come by and drop off some things for her to watch/read right after the phone call. We sat down with her and talked her through it and helped her feel much better. She said it was perfect timing for us to come by. A great moment that shows God takes care of us and gives us what we need when we need it..!

Besides that, things have been pretty standard around here. Transfers have brought some interesting things - like a new set of elders to proselyte downtown. Before, elders from another area covered the Market Street Branch but now they have some elders living right in downtown. Because of it, the rest of our district meetings will be held downtown at the institute building! That's going to be pretty awesome. The Pacific Branch is losing it's set of missionaries and is being covered by our zone leaders again. Soon their apartment (which is right next to the church and has a washer/dryer) is, as far as we know, vacant. Needless to say, we're trying to move in! It would be a much better apartment.

So, my bike was a subject of much frustration over the past month or so.. When I got to this area, I asked the office elders to put the bike in the mission storage and not to borrow it out or anything (because elders treat those loaned out bikes like garbage). Well, they misplaced my bike and then loaned it out to somebody. But they didn't know who it was they gave it too... So, because of it I had been working with them to find it and they were little to no help. So, I started calling all sorts of elders and posting pictures, etc. on Facebook trying to find it. But, after a month, I have finally found it! Even better, was the pedals were replaced and the derailer had been fixed (wasn't broke when I had it, but it got fixed) by these random members in the Aloha area. The elder who had it called me and told me the bike was still in great condition and I was so grateful. A little miracle for me, because I was so frustrated with the whole situation. I hate when I lose things, especially expensive bikes.

Loved the Halloween pictures. That's great, Kayleigh is going to be a make-up artist someday! She should do that for movies! That would be sweet— especially if she did the make-up for like orcs/werewolves, etc. That would be great.

That's my pops! Getting fired from every calling he ever had, I bet he's going to get an even greater responsibility! Like an elder's quorum president or something! Singles ward bishop! Hahah! All I hope for is to be the ward librarian for the rest of my life. I would have the BEST library in the entire church!

Well, tell everybody I joined the French Foreign Legion, or that I am going to work on a oil rig in the Atlantic. Make up something cool.

Well, I love you guys. Talk to you next week!

- Elder Samuel A. Burge