Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My new companion is Elder Thomas from Alaska!

Hey everyone,

I've been waiting for preparation day all week so I could read about how Ben was doing adjusting to the normality of everyday life! It's exactly what I thought it was going to be- he's afraid to listen to music, watch movies and television, etc. I'm glad to hear that he's getting back into computers so quickly, and that he's enjoying it. Glad he finally fixed the loose cord plug on the guitar, I was always meaning to fix that but I just never got around to it. I bet Silas and Ben enjoy playing around on the guitars with each other.

It's still really strange to see him back home. I mean, it's just been such a long time since I've seen him. To see him with everyone is taking me time to adjust to.

Things here have been quite a change-up; we had a five-week transfer so yesterday was when transfer meeting was being held. We got the call on Saturday afternoon that Elder Baxter was being transferred out of Wilsonville! It was actually really sad to see him go, I really bonded with him in the past few months. He was transferred to the Cedar Mills zone (which is somewhere in-between Beaverton and Portland) to be a zone leader. He's also been transferred within the new mission boundaries so he's super excited about staying in the Oregon Portland mission (hopefully). He was going to be furious if he didn't get his departing interview with President Morby!

My new companion is Elder Thomas from Alaska! He's pretty awesome so far, so I think this will be a good transfer. He's been out about 20 months, so he's hoping to end his mission in this area. He's really cool, worked as a fisherman for a few months outta' the year for about three years before his mission. He's got some pretty classic Alaskan qualities so it's pretty funny! He's really good at teaching and with talking to people so he'll do good work out here. It's made me a little bit nervous/anxious though, being the authority on what work going is happening in our area. We taught a lesson with a recent convert the night we got here, so we didn't have time to really prepare anything. We weren't really on the same wavelength when we were teaching, so I feel like I didn't do as well as I could have. He did a really good job though, his experience shows through in his teaching.

Susan is doing well, we've had a tougher time setting anything up with her. Her life's just got a lot going on right now so she's been very busy.

For transfers yesterday, we went into Portland with Elder Hendrix and his family to this hotdog stand downtown. Elder Hendrix trained Elder Baxter and, since this was his last transfer meeting, wanted to spend the day with him before he left back home. It was really good, and really fun. I got to see a lot of my friends from the MTC at the transfer; every sister from our MTC district is already training because of all the sisters coming into the area! It was really interesting to see, but they're all doing well.

Well, I hope everything is going good back home. I miss you all everyday and I love you all.

Hope you all have a great week.

-Elder Samuel Burge

There goes my dad out the front door!!!

Where is that hot dog stand?

My new companion Elder Thomas

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Busy Week and Mission Changes

That's so crazy that Ben’s home. I still can't believe that he's back in Utah, it's really strange when I think about it. I'm glad that his language issues are cracking you all up, what has he been doing since he got home? It's nice to see him with a nice golden-brown crisp going, hopefully I can get enough sun for at least the summer months to get a little darker. That's the biggest dilemma that all missionaries face when they arrive back home. I hope he can find things to keep him busy, get job or do something.

That is really sweet that they all came to see him, I didn't think Amy and Aaron would drive all the way out from California to welcome him back (not that it's a bad thing, just surprising). It will be really fun to be there when he's in college, meeting new people, dating, etc. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be there for it, it really sucks that I don't get to see him for another two years.. Is he still planning on going into computers?

Well, this week had some pretty good highlights. On Thursday, we went on another exchange with our zone leaders and I went with Elder Taylor again. I love Elder Taylor, he's so funny- plus I got to go to his area in Tualatin (I enjoy going to other areas). We went to all of the district and zone meetings for that day (there were quite a few) and then we went as district leaders to Buffalo Wild Wings! It was awesome though because Elder Hendrix (Elder Baxter's trainer) and Elder Sutton, from my MTC district, were in Tualatin getting car repairs done and they ate lunch with us. It was really good to see him again, first time since I've seen him since I got out to Oregon!

This Friday was really awesome because in the evening we got to drive out to Canby, just south of Wilsonville, and go to a Portland Ensign Choir & Orchestra concert with Susan! It was absolutely amazing, the performance was great! I really enjoyed the orchestra, but the choir did an amazing job too. It was nice to do something fun like that, and I got to see quite a few other missionaries there (which I also enjoy). I took a few pictures, and Mitchell (a return missionary in Wilsonville) drove us out to Canby to see it! I can definitely feel for missionaries that are home with nothing to do. He's going to BYU-I in the fall but for now he's at home, doing absolutely nothing. It must be tough.

It's going to be interesting these next few transfers- we finally have somewhat of an idea as to the new mission boundaries! The Portland mission is going to very small and central- the coastal areas are going to the Salem, Oregon mission and even part of Portland is going to the Vancouver, Washington mission! It sucks, I was hoping to get to go more urban city area and to the coast at some points during my time here, but they've divided it all up. I don't know the exact mission boundaries, but based on which boundaries I'm in come July 1 is which mission I'll be in from that point on. I honest kind of want to go either Salem or Vancouver... I mean, I like the area I'm in right now, but I really want to go to the coast or to the city. I don't know, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Oh, another story I forgot to share about the week before last... On our preparation day, a lot of the elders from our zone got together in Tualatin to play ultimate frisbee at this park. So we're playing at this park (with my shoes off, it was great) and having a good time when these two cops come over to us. They tell us that we need to leave immediately, and wouldn't give us an explanation as to why were needed to "vacate the premises" and what-not. Well, we left and went to a different park and as we were leaving we see a ton of cop cars and a SWAT van sitting at this park and several officers suiting up for a serious gun-show. Well come to find out last week, this drug dealer who was on a most-wanted list for the FBI had made his way into a home and was fully prepared to go down with guns blazing! Crazy stuff- especially since Tualatin isn't even a rough area.

Well that's all I've got for now. I hope everyone at home is doing well. I miss you all, and hope that Ben can make a smooth transition back into the real world!~

Love always,

Elder Samuel Burge

Elder Baxter trying not to run a red light!

Concert in Canby

Oregon Scenery

A Ball Park

Monday, March 11, 2013

First Zone Conference


I'm glad that Sister Wilhelm’s phone call made mom's night! The Wilhelm family is pretty sweet, we had fun eating dinner with them. Funny story about that though, we actually misread our dinner calendar the day of zone conference and we thought they were supposed to be signed up that day but it was actually for Tuesday of this week! She was really confused when we called and told us that she swears she signed up for next Tuesday. She was totally right, but she fed us all the same and it was great! She asked for our phone number and then asked us what our mothers cooked for us that we enjoyed. There were a lot of choices, and my brain wasn't working from all the sudden pressure! (He chose corn casserole – Sister Wilhelm called and asked for the recipe)

Speaking of zone conference, I had my first one last Wednesday. It was really fun, I love getting together with all the missionaries for things like that. President Morby is so awesome, everybody loves him because he's great. He's got that perfect balance of laid-back, but still keeping on the ball (which I enjoy). We also had car inspections, so we had to frantically clean our car on Wednesday morning before we left for Oregon City (where our zone conference was)! It was so hilarious, one of my favorite elders, Elder Reidhead, got one of the members in Sherwood to print out a picture of our driving/transportation coordinator, Elder Heyen, and he put hearts all over the picture with "My Hero!" on the bottom. He then framed it and put it in his car for car inspections! It was really funny!~ One of the sisters from my district in the MTC, Sister Benson, and her companion, Sister Pauga (from Australia) did this musical number for zone conference. They are amazingly talents singers, and Sister Benson plays piano extremely well! It was really good, they usually do a musical number during meetings like that. Still haven't gotten any news on the mission boundary changes or anything yet. President Morby says as soon as he knows, he'll give us the details.

Other than that, my week has been the same old routine. We've had a ton of blue skies all this week (it hasn't rained like, at all since I've been here) so it's been really, really beautiful here. That and we have been invaded by freakin' ants! We've had a very mild ant problem since we've gotten into the apartment, but they came back with a vengeance on Monday! They were all over the place, so we sprayed all this ant-killer spray everywhere. It's ridiculous, they were even in Elder Baxter's cereal (he says they taste awful by the way).

I did go on exchanges to West Linn with Elder Udy, who is another one of my favorite missionaries! He's the nicest guy on planet Earth, and he's a boss! West Linn is awesome because it's up on the hill, so you can get a really great view of the surrounding area and the Willamette River. Plus it was a clear, sunny day so it was really awesome. I've been really bad at taking pictures as of late, so I don't have a whole lot this week. Sorry!

Yeah, Krista and I write weekly. Brock hadn't written me for a freaking month! I got a letter from him this week though, so it's all good. Haven't heard from Gage in awhile, and that's probably why (the college was threatening to take his scholarship for skipping too many classes). His last letter he even told me that he was getting extremely bad at going to class- wasn't too surprised though, he never went in high school! That sucks though, I hope it works out for him.

I loved all the pictures- I'm glad everyone of my friends has forgotten how to smile since they've been out on their missions. Not a single one, except Josh I think! It's awesome to see their areas though. Last Monday afternoon I got a letter from Tyson clear our in ol' Sweden! I'm the first person to have sent him a hand-written letter since he's been in Sweden, which I'm quite proud of. I've also written Ethan, but I've yet to hear back from him. Josh and I have also been writing- he's doing really well which is good to hear!

It's weird thinking about how Ben will be home this week. Still hard to believe, but it will be great having him around again. I'm excited for him, and I'm jealous that y'all will get to see him and hang out with him. I'm curious to see where he goes, what he does, etc. Tell him I said hello when you see him on Friday!

Well, that's all I've got. I've sent a few pictures, but I'm going to make it a goal to take more pictures!

Love you all, and I hope you're doing well!

-Elder Samuel Burge

P.S. - I almost forgot to say, I can now officially email friends! So feel free to give our my email address to those who might want it. I'd love to hear from anyone who's willing to write me! 

Jogging on the dock by the Willamette River

Another shot of the river

The Bridge

Ant invasion!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

This week has been really good

Hello everybody,

I'm glad Mom liked my letter- I was thinking about her and I realized I hadn't sent her a letter or anything yet, so I decided to send her one. Yeah, cutting down that tree was really fun. I enjoy just getting outside in the fresh air any chance I can get. We went over on Saturday and watched him torch these burn-piles of all the branches and leaves that he couldn't use for firewood. It was sweet. He took this blow-torch attached to a propane tank and and just started incinerating it. We had to leave, but the flames on one of the piles got at least 20 feet high, he says.

Yeah, Silas wrote me a letter telling me about all the things that are going on in his life right now. I feel for him, that has gotta' be tough. I pray for him and his friends every night hoping that they can find relief from the rigors of their lives. I'm glad that Silas is kind of keeping his head above water, and that his driving went well.

Cross-country skiing, that's got to be really fun! I'm glad she had a good time with that; whenever we're driving and we can see Mount Hood (which is an absolutely beautiful sight on a clear, sunny day) I always think about how I want to go snowboarding/skiing when I get home. It's something I always wanted to pick up in high school, but I never got around to it. Plus, it's got quite a price tag on it. Tell Kayleigh I love her brown hair! She wrote me about it a few letters ago, but it looks really nice now that I'm seeing a picture of it.

Ben comes home in about a week... That is an absolutely weird thought. I mean, I've talked about it but it did not sink in until I read that. In a mere week he'll be back home hanging out with everyone and there's so many things I wanted to show him when he got home! It's okay though, I know Silas is going to enjoy showing him all the video games that came out while he was gone and show him just a ton of things. It will be especially weird that he'll speak fluent Spanish and have dark skin- that's the weirdest part! Also, who is Mark?

This week has been really good. We've been teaching a lot more, which is good (keeps us busy). We've been teaching mostly just less-active people, even some families that just were willing to take the discussions so we could practice a bit! We have a lady, Susan, that we're teaching though... She's been investigating the church for a few months, been in weekly attendance and that was definitely the highlight of my week. Our discussion with her this week went great, she asks tons of really good questions and she just understands things and grasps all the concepts so quickly. She's receptive to it all, and she was telling us about how she just feels good as she keeps learning and she wants to share what she's learning with people she knows. As she said, "I feel like I've been feeding my soul". She even said she would get baptized when she knows that it's true, so we took her to a baptism on Saturday and she really enjoyed it.

She came from basically being an atheist like 6 months ago, so it's really interesting to see her perspective on it all. She's also really awesome, I love teaching her! She's definitely been a pick-me-up for me.

As for any good stories I've gotten this week, I can't think of anything too crazy. We had dinner with the Young's and the Hofmann's this week (two of my favorite families in the area) which was great. The Young's took us out to this Italian restaurant and it was really good. I tried calamari (squid) and it was freaking delicious! We also had a 95-year-old man get up during testimony meeting and it was the funniest thing in the world! He does this every fast Sunday, he gets up and talks about how much he loves women and brags to be the oldest member of the ward several times while he's talking. So funny!

Ethan burned his eyebrows off! That's absolutely hilarious!! I'm glad that he's having a humbling experience being out in Mexico. I've written both him and Tyson hand-written letters, I know that getting actual mail isn't even a common thing for them, so when they get it they'll go nuts! I think that every missionary has quite the humbling experience in some way or another- I have them constantly.

Well, I've got to go now. I miss everyone and hope that they can find comfort in their trials. I love you all, and hope things will continue to get better.

Love always,

Elder Samuel Burge

P.S. - I found that scorpion sucker in my desk! We had Elder Udy eat it at our district meeting! I also burned the heck outta' my finger cooking the other day. It was a huge blister on the side of my finger, but it's all better now so no need to worry!

Scorpion sucker anyone?

I give this week a thumbs up!!!