Monday, December 30, 2013

Didn’t do too much with the holidays and being sick

Happy birthday, Dad! Now if anything gets him too frustrated on his birthday he can just riddle it with bullet-holes!~

It sounds like you all had a pretty enjoyable Christmas though, which is good to hear. Ben is going to have a car payment, he's in college.. That's the strangest part about being away is how everybody is getting older (Kayleigh's going to be to be sixteen by the time I'm back which is super weird to think about)!

Hope that everybody is feeling better now. Silas is right, I had a very similar experience some tacos and it was the worst night ever.. I still won't eat the beef at fast-food Mexican joints. I spent the two days after Christmas stuck in the apartment because of the flu/cold that I caught. I was feeling really bad, my throat hurt and I was running a pretty high fever. I hated it, you just feel unproductive and there's absolutely nothing to do. I think I watched just about every video produced by the church on the little portable DVD player we have in the apartment. Funny though- I found Harvey Dent from the Dark Knight trying to take some chick to the Provo Temple in a really old seminary video! (The hidden treasures you find sometimes.)

I eventually was feeling good enough to get out and work, so luckily the zone leaders came by to check up on us. They offered to let me go on an exchange with them for the day so I hung out with Elder Bennett and Schildknecht on Saturday.

Don’t get me sick

They could be brothers

They fed me cake!

How can you not be happy at the Walnut Market?

Other than that we didn't really do much this week with the holidays and us being sick, but hopefully we can find work this week! We're excited to get back to work, to say the least.

I hope that your week is good and car shopping goes well- I'll probably get thrown in jail before next Monday so sorry if my next email is late.


Elder Samuel A. Burge

Mission Christmas party pics:
We’re gonna be late

Who’s honking?

We made it just in time

Elders Richey & Varble

My son

 The only missionaries in my MTC group left in the mission

Elder Hendrickson

Elder Lasley

Nice guns?

Elder Wintana with red tie

My Christmas party bounty

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!

It's been a busy week for us, tons of meetings and some doctor's appointments- not to mention some big changes for us here in Portland, including the use of Facebook once again.

So on Wednesday we had a zone conference, and half of the day was spent with us just talking about us now using social media and other online tools for missionary work. Right now it's mostly just the use of blogs and Facebook, but eventually we'll be using things like video chat to teach lessons, etc. It's going to be interesting, but again they made a big emphasis on using it strictly for missionary purposes- so we can't use Facebook on preparation days to talk with our friends/family, etc. I'm not quite sure, but we might even have to take my blog off the internet- just with the pictures I send home and some of the things we talk about. I'll let you know if it becomes a problem or anything like that. Again though, you can still read my posts and things so that's kind of neat I guess.

We didn't have very many lessons this week- just with the holidays everybody doesn't want to meet. We did a lot of service this week, like helping out at the food pantry. I love helping out there, it's great and the people that we volunteer with are sweet! The food pantry gives away holiday packages and gives away toys so people can have a nice Christmas dinner with the works. It was awesome to see how many toys they got- we'd filled this whole back room with various trinkets and things for the kids to come through and pick out gifts. I felt like I was working in Santa's work-shop though, just unloading and setting out bags upon bags of board games, dolls, and all sorts of stuff.

We also helped some people build an extension to their chicken coop- that was really cool! They'd been meaning to build this fencing around the coop so the chickens could have more space and so cleaning up after them would be easier, so we put up these big walls made of 2x4 and we're going to finish covering it with chicken wire and putting a door on the enclosure. It's definitely not the most... quality construction job I've ever seen, but it's sturdy and will keep the chickens from being eaten by raccoon's or making a break for it. Either way, it was pretty sweet service experience.

We've also joined the ward choir as of a week or two ago! I'm singing as a tenor- even though I can't really read the music at all. I don't quite know the notes well, but I've managed to get through a performance without totally messing up! What's really awesome is that another person we're teaching happens to love singing, and since we'd just joined the choir we invited to come sing with us for Christmas- and she came this Sunday and joined our ward choir for the performance! I never thought using the choir would be a missionary tool, but apparently it worked very well. She's a great singer, and our choir director was stoked to have the addition (the choir isn't super big). Either way, it was really fun and a helpful tool for getting people to come to church.

This upcoming week will probably be pretty slow, but we've got a lot of people in the ward to hang out with for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So I imagine we'll probably be calling home around 10:30 AM (my time) on Wednesday. It's a little early, so hopefully Silas and Ben will be awake (it is Christmas though, so hopefully not).

Yeah, I was really ticked that I have to send the guitalele home- I still don't understand why I can have something to learn to play hymns on, but I figure I should just be obedient and not worry about it (some mission rules are so frustrating and make no sense). Thanks for the gift though, I was really happy and excited about it for a whole three hours.

I hope that this holiday season is good for you back home- I love you and really miss you. I'm excited to talk with you all this Wednesday!

I love you.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Starting to feel a tiny bit cooped up

Are we screwing it down or just screwing it up?

This place is for the birds

Elder jammies

My new blanket

Hitler Snowman?!

Santa’s Helper

Look at all the toys!!!

Has anyone seen Elder Stovall?

Some funny looking elves

Cool Stained Glass

Hanging at Lake Oswego

Who wouldn’t want to invite guys like this into their home?!

The other side of the tracks

Monday, December 16, 2013

An amazing week for us – Elder Stovall is our lucky charm

Hello family-

Thanks for sending such a great birthday gift!~ I've been listening to those CD's non-stop since I got them, and that compact pool table is freakin' sweet! After we finish our planning at night we play some pick-up games of billiards!(seriously, that was a great idea- it's really fun.) The shoulder-bag is also really nice, it's been useful!

This week has been an amazing week for us, we had so much success it was ridiculous. We were able to set some dates with two people that we've been teaching. We were teaching this lady, Kathy, about the gospel of Jesus Christ and she said that if she was ready by the end of January that she'd be baptized! What's really cool though is that her friend had joined us for the first time, and when we asked her to be baptized she turned to him and said, "I don't know- Manwell, will you be baptized in January?" and to our astonishment he said that he would once he knew it was true! You know it's a good lesson when your investigators extend the baptismal invitations for you!

We've been able to get in with a lot of people to teach this week- been my best week yet here in the Willamette area. It was sweet! We also are helping a lady we're meeting with build an extension onto her chicken coop- which is really enjoyable. We also helped this other guy dig a small ditch in his front yard and then putting up some plasterboard above a door in his house. That was cool- I got stuck raking leaves out of a dried pond though for that one..

Being in a trio is pretty sweet- Elder Stovall is a good missionary and he's pretty chill when we get back to the apartment at night! He's been our lucky charm in bringing us more work in the area- which is awesome! Knocking doors is probably my least favorite part about it- it's kind of weird with three guys standing around your door.. President Morby promised the mission that if we sang Christmas carols while contacting that we'd be able to get into more doors so we decided to try it (me rather reluctantly) at like 1 o' clock in the afternoon- it was terrible.. Nobody let us even finish a song, it was really awkward, and honestly we were not singing well together..! But, lesson learned- we're going to go caroling with members in the evening so it's less strange (and also with people that can sing decently).

Sorry to hear that Kayleigh's lesson didn't go that well. It really is so much easier and enjoyable to teach when you have an audience that is actually willing to listen and participate. Tell her not to worry too much about it, I'm sure she did a great job teaching. It's good to hear that Ben passed his math finals! While putting together part of the wall for this chicken coop we're building I had to do some long division and it was difficult- I'm definitely going to need help with math when I'm in college because I can't remember, like, any of it at all..

It's weird to think that I've been out for a year- I'm halfway through already! This whole year has gone by so quickly- it's strange how true it is when people say that this time will fly by quickly, because it really does. I've definitely experienced a lot of changes this past year- I don't think I'm quite the same person I was before I left. Still me, but my perspective has changed- and my faith has grown in the savior Jesus Christ. I did not even have a testimony really before I left, but I do now and that's pretty sweet.

Well, I love you all and hope that your week goes well. I love you and thanks again for everything.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge
Maybe they’ll see it’s my birthday and we’ll have better luck knocking doors today.

Need a minute? Grab a Snickers bar!  Elders, I think this one is going to take more than a minute.

Hey, what does it mean when you make a wish and your coin bounces back!?

I think I should have brought a thicker coat

If you see the iron rod in this fog, grab it and don’t let go!!!

Some real pool sharks!!!

Elder Stovall thinks that for every Book of Mormon read, we should offer them a free bag of this!!!

No officer this really is sugar for the food bank – honest!!!

It was a long hike in & after the Christmas carol “attempt” an even longer hike out.  You think President Morby was just messing with us?

Tracting in the “ghettos” of West Linn

Elder Stovall’s got bank!!! Should we tell him it’s like monopoly money here in Portlandia?

Some of Stovall’s extra cash

Elder Stovall’s new digs – he doesn’t seem to miss the mosquito net.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

20th Birthday!!!

Sam celebrated his 20th Birthday with the White family. They were kind enough to send us a couple of pictures. The members take such good care of the missionaries. We are so grateful.

Elders Stovall, Burge, & Pearson

The birthday MAN!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Three Amigos

It sounds like it's been an interesting week for everybody- that's sad to hear about the sheriff that committed suicide, but crazy that it was right there next to the elementary school. Heartbreaking to think about what that's done to his family.

I've had a really interesting week- which all started with a call from the mission president on Wednesday night. I had crashed on the couch after planning, and when we went to check the phone at like 10:29 there were four missed calls from President Morby along with a voicemail and text message saying to call him as soon as possible. Well, his phone died after sending those messages so I tried calling several times and then spent another three hours awake freaking out. Usually you only get calls directly from president when something has gone horribly wrong- I was freaking out that somebody in the family had gotten in a car-wreck or something awful like that.

Well, I finally got to sleep at around 1:00 A.M. and called him early that next morning. Luckily nothing bad had happened- but we did get some incredibly interesting news: we were going to take in a missionary reassigned from Ghana after having health problems.! President told me that he didn't have anywhere to put him so he'd decided to stick him with us in Willamette. Our new companion's name is Elder Stovall from down south in St. George, UT.

So we got into contact with the mission office elders to get furniture for our apartment (like a bed, desk, etc.) on Thursday and then on Friday we drove up to a church building near the mission office to pick him up after meeting President Morby and getting some logistical things sorted out.

It was interesting- he'd spent the first three months of his mission in Ghana, Africa. Very third-world country! He was washing himself with buckets of dirty water, slept with a mosquito net around his bed, and his clothes were pretty foul-smelling and dirty! I guess he'd been pretty sick with stomach issues, rapid weight loss, etc. for about six weeks until finally his mission president decided he needed to leave. The pollution and general lack of hygiene/cleanliness wasn't allowing him to get any better so the big man upstairs reassigned him to Portland, OR.

It's been freaking cold here- today outside it's like 20-degrees (which it shouldn't be like because this is supposed to be temperate freakin' Portland). So we spent a few hours on Saturday acquiring some warmer clothing for our new elder and shoes since all he had was short-sleeve white shirts, slacks, and sandals.

He seems to be doing alright- he's still sick, but it's gotten a little bit better and now he has running water, adequate amounts of toilet paper, and a car with air-conditioning/heating. That probably beats having to blow out your bowels in a dirt-hole in some tin shack. It's crazy though- he taught around 40 lessons a week the whole three months he was there! Elder Pearson and I were pissed when he told us that- I think he's taught more lessons that I have my entire mission and I've been out three times longer than he has at least!

Either way- it's been an interesting few days for us. Our week wasn't that great besides that, most of our lesson fell through. But we're excited for our new addition to the rag-tag duo here in Willamette. Knocking doors is kind of awkward with three people though...

I'm glad that Ben is having success with his programming- he was always really good with computers. I don't understand how he doesn't do well with math though- that makes no sense whatsoever seeing as computer programming is almost the same thing in a lot of ways. I can't wait until he works for Google making bodacious mounds of money so I can finally just mooch off of him once again. I think back to those days often.. Ahhh, those were good times!

My junior year was great- I didn't enjoy like, half of my classes though. My math class during junior year consisted of me skimming by with a B, then just messing around with my buddies and flirting with the girl that sat in front of me. It was so difficult to understand anything in that class, I seriously regret not doing more to improve my math knowledge in high school- I should have taken a different math class since I didn't get half of what was being taught in pre-calculus. As long as he has the math credits to graduate, I'd say go for an easier class. If Mr. Stemle still works at the high school- get a math class with him because he's an amazing math teacher (I learned more in his class than my class- and I talked with him about math like three times). I understand Silas' struggles to stay motivated- he's just got to remember that if he doesn't get good grades and pass his classes now, it's going to suck in the long run.. There's a guy we meet with that is like 20 and still working on getting his high school diploma because he shirked off for quite a bit of high school and family problems and it's super rough.

I'm excited for the packages! Sending them to the apartment is all good- it will most likely get there faster than sending it to the mission office.

Well I hope that you have an amazing week!~

Love always,

Elder Samuel A. Burge

P.S. - Being 20 is going to be freakin' weird...

 On splits with the Nutcracker for Christmas!!!

Welcome to your new home Elder Stovall!!!

Look, Elder RC Willey brought Elder Stovall’s furniture!!! It’s really Elder Lasley, but it was a RC Willey moment.

The three amigos – Elders Pearson, Stovall, and Burge

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our week was pretty alright- for the holiday season starting to hit. Our week still had some lessons (which worried me quite a bit). We did give him a blessing, but I don't think he was miraculously healed. We're trying to help him get back to church after a long stint of inactivity but it's hard for people. We've had some pretty good success this week- had some great lessons with two people that we're teaching! I've been thinking about our teaching pool and it's a wide variety of characters- a spiritualist pagan, a sweet firefighter with a bodacious/awesome mustache, some struggling housewives, and a few really cool families.

We actually found, taught, and set a baptismal date with somebody in less than three days- which is crazy! He's a younger guy we met walking down the street. He was outside his apartment having a cigarette and we started talking with him. He's got such a strong faith in Jesus Christ... His faith was, however, strengthened after having a small stint of schizophrenic visions/hallucinations. And this sounds crazy, but I don't think all of his visions were necessarily because of his illness- they made him a believer in Jesus Christ, taught him that sexual immorality, alcohol, and violence were displeasing to God, and that he needed to be baptized. It was crazy weird, but unfortunately we had to give him over to the zone leaders since they're in charge of the young singles ward.

Thanksgiving was great though- I had an awesome day. We woke up and ran a 5-k with the ward, and that was exhausting. Afterwards though we went and sang songs of thanksgiving at a local senior center (which was fun). We went over to the Staskiewicz family's house after that and played Risk with their two boys- and afterwards went over to the Walker's house for our Thanksgiving feast! It was great, we had a lot of fun with the Walkers and the thirty other people there! I didn't eat as much as I figured I would've (I did a lot more damage to the turkey at home- I only ate one plate food this year). Either way though, it was delicious! Sister Walker is known for her amazing cooking skills!~

I'm glad they were able to send you some pictures of us- and I'm glad that you didn't miss me too much during Thanksgiving. Glad that shooting my beautiful face with a 22-rifle was able to calm the sea of tears you were shedding over me being gone (We had a blown up picture of his face that we used for target practice). 

Our Sam target

Well, I love you all and hope that the Christmas season is good!

Love always,

Elder Samuel A. Burge

P.S. - You can send the CD's to our apartment, shouldn't be a problem at all.

Elder Pearson’s portraiture

The Willamette River

Junk mail weaving project during lunch