Monday, April 29, 2013

Discussions, Silverton Falls, & a Lesson on Homeless Microwave Etiquette


Tell mom I said happy birthday, and that I did get her letter. I've just gotten backed up with a couple of letters so I haven't written her back. I figured since I write once weekly through email that she wouldn't be too upset if I didn't write her back right away. 

Things are going alright here. Transfers are coming up, so by the end of this week (Saturday, most likely) I'll know if I'm getting transferred or not. The usual time a person will spend in an area here is about six months, but with the mission being split and divided come July I'm sure either this transfer or next I'll be moved somewhere else. We'll see how it all works out though. 

This week was good, we've started teaching a guy named Andrew. His wife, Audrey, called us on Tuesday as we were preparing to knock on doors for at least a couple of hours and said he wanted to take the discussions. So we've taught him two lessons this week, and will keep teaching him this upcoming week. He's had the discussions before, and he has an interest in knowing about what we believe and figuring out for himself the truthfulness of it. He's quite skeptical though, but hopefully we can help him out. We've also started teaching this guy named John who I think I've talked about a little bit. He wants to come back to church, but he's been inactive for a long time and has a lot of vices that he feels are holding him back. It's been really interesting to teach him; but he seems to have a desire to come back which is good. 

This week we were at the library on Friday, and as we were leaving this homeless, Asian man came up to us with a few questions. His few questions were extremely basic, and then he really just talked at us about his life problems for a half-hour and it was hilarious. His name was Sammy, and he is from Cambodia originally but he emigrated over in like the 80's. He was talking about how America has all these problems, and how other countries don't have the issues that we do (like how we treat the homeless, and how the crime here is awful). What was really awesome is he started telling us about his run-ins with the other homeless guys in the area! At some grocery store in-town they have a microwave that a bunch of these homeless people can use and the past few weeks another homeless gentlemen has been trying to seduce him! He started telling us about how he has to watch his step and be civil with all of them so he doesn't get his car messed with and so they don't try to rape him because he's a smaller guy! All of this with a thick, Asian accent... Best story I had all week. 

Earlier today for preparation day, we went on a hike with the other elders and the sisters in our district to Silver Falls. It's near the southern border of our mission near Silverton, but I honestly don't know where it is on a map. It was really fun, it was an 8-9 mile hike around several really beautiful waterfalls! It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting out into the woods. We saw a lot of salamanders, which I thought was pretty cool, and this blue jay flew over to us while we were eating lunch and was looking to take some from us. I threw him some bread right by me and he flew down and started eating it; this little bird had no fear. Anyways, it was an enjoyable hike. 

Sounds like things at home are good. Hope things continue to go well; I love and miss you guys. 

-Elder Samuel Burge 

My Salt Lake Temple Tie Clip

The falls

Mr. Blue Jay, my lunch buddy

A member of the Salamander Society

Beautiful Oregon

The Bottom

Picture Perfect

Hanging by the falls

Our District

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ticked Off Neighbors & Sniper Steaks

Hey family,

I heard that Eric Keil had gotten his mission call- that's awesome that he's going to New Zealand. Nathan wrote me and was telling me about his mission call to Paraguay, which is also really exciting.

Yes, I heard about the bombing in Boston from several people throughout the week. You know, it didn't even come across my mind that Janica was in Boston either. I didn't know much of the details though. It's crazy, to think that people will go out and do things like that. The hatred and evil that's in the world- it's sad and discouraging. I can't even begin to imagine the suffering of all those people, especially those that weren't killed. To have your legs blown off, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. They'll be in my prayers, definitely.

Not too much went on this week- just been doing the usual. We were finally able to meet with a man who's been less active for a really long time. His name is John, he's an ex-Marine sniper and he's awesome! He fed us this gigantic steaks with this homemade steak sauce that he's got the recipe for. It was delicious, probably one of the best meals I've eaten since I've been out! We got to look at some of his guns too, his sniper rifle was sweet. He's been thinking about coming back to church, so we're going to teach him the discussions again.

On Sunday we got a call from President Morby, and he said that he wanted to stop by and see us while we were at church. It was extremely nerve-wracking, since President Morby only stops in to talk with missionaries when something is wrong or somebody's in trouble. Well, he finally gets here and pulls us aside in an empty room to tell us that Elder Thomas' grandfather passed away. Luckily, they knew he was dying and he thought he was going to die awhile ago so he'd been prepared.

We also got a new parking spot in our apartment complex this past week. So Elder Lloyd and Elder Udy came over to our apartment for an exchange and saw that our old spot was empty so they thought it would be funny to park in our spot. Well, turns out they just pissed off our neighbors. To the point that they left an angry note on their car! It was hilarious, so we put an apology note on their car the next day! (See the pictures for details).

Other then that, I can't think of a whole lot that's happened this week. Hope things at home are going well.

Love you guys,

Elder Samuel A. Burge

P.S. - My canteen tie is awesome.

Drinking from the canteen tie – as James Bond as a missionary can get!!!

Elder Lloyd trying to relax

Ticked off neighbor note

Our apology attempt

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bowling, Blackberries, Berating, & Blessings


No kidding about Ben crawling the walls, I've been curious to what he does all day now that he doesn't have a rigorously planned schedule everyday. Sounds exciting that he's starting to get all his classes and things figured out, and I'm hopeful that his new job will be good! Glad he got a taste of what kind of ladies he can encounter in entry-level college math classes! I always knew that my father was a wise man!

Glad that Nathan finally got his mission call- I was expecting him to go to some Latin-American country but Paraguay should be really cool. Thanks for giving my email to Luke, I'd love to hear from him. I got a letter from Hunter out in Taiwan a few days ago, and Ethan wrote me an email telling me about a letter he sent back to me in response to a letter I sent him like a month ago. It's weird to think about how many girls will be out serving, but I guess it makes a lot of sense. Easier for them to go out now that they don't have to become a nun for three years!

A few good stories this week to write home about. Last Monday we went to this local bowling alley with a guy from our ward, Jim. I don't know if you knew this but I was absolutely terrible at bowling my entire life. I mean, I was awful- so Jim gave us a bowling 101 crash-course and now I can bowl pretty freakin' well! It was actually enjoyable now that I didn't feel like I sucked beyond all comprehension.

We also did some service for a lady up in Lake Oswego a few days ago. We drove up and she had this plot of land covered with blackberry bushes, which are really common here in Oregon. Just a bit of background on blackberry bushes; they grow tenaciously and they're covered in thorns. These bushes must have been 8-10 feet tall, and she needed help clearing the front part of this land, which was like ten feet back and fifty feet wide! So we borrowed a ton of gardening equipment and drove down to help out. The cool part is that Elder Lloyd was able to get a machete, and so we both took turns using it to clear this thick berry brush, and it was awesome! It made the classic slicing sound as you'd cut through the thickets and both Elder Lloyd and myself felt like men.

My really interesting story this week was probably the most traumatizing. We'd been knocking on doors out in the country for the later half of the week, which is great. Blue skies, the occasional light rain, the fresh outdoor air... It's easily some of the best time I've spent in Wilsonville. It's like hiking, but missionary-work. Anyways, we'd walked maybe an hour down this long road to this small area of houses. We knocked on most of the houses, and finally we get to the very last house on this street. This house was enormous and blocked off by this gate, but unfortunately the gate was open so we thought we would try talking to whomever lived there: big mistake.

As we walk up this gravel driveway there's a man spraying along it with some chemicals to kill the weeds. So we get pretty close to him and just give a polite greeting and say hello. This guy was pissed! The second he looks up he points this nozzle in our faces and angrily yells, "Hey, you guys get the f@#?! out of here!". Luckily he didn't spray us or attack us (he was a big guy too), but something came loose mentally because this guy snapped! We said sorry and told him that we would leave and as we're walking away he's following behind us, screaming and yelling at us "What the f@#?! is wrong with you guys?!", and trying to get us to basically sprint off his property "Well? Get the f@&#!? outta' here! Get moving, now!". Elder Thomas and I thought he was either going to call the police or pull a gun out on us, but it was awful. Totally draining too, you feel like doing absolutely nothing after you've been verbally raped!

A silver lining to our week though, we were able to find a new person to teach and she's really awesome. This guy, Chipper, and his wife Carly moved into Wilsonville from California about a month ago and while having dinner with them we had some time before dinner was going to be ready so we taught her about the restoration. It went pretty good, and we have something set up for next week. Not to mention we actually got referrals from two people this week, which is rare! So hopefully we can have things to fill our time.

Well, that's my week in a nutshell. Hope things are going well at home, and hope this week is good for everyone.

Love you all,

Elder Samuel Burge

P.S. - Hopefully I can get some pictures of me slicing with that machete from Elder Lloyd, I know he took a few. 
Elder Thomas tracting country-style

The gravel driveway of berating – seemed innocent enough

Monday, April 8, 2013

First General Conference as a Missionary

Hey everybody,

It was a really easy weekend with general conference going on. It's weird watching all of the sessions, but I stayed awake through all of them (which is good, I was a little worried). We watched the morning sessions with our ward mission leaders, priesthood with Anthony (a recent convert), and the afternoon session on Sunday with Susan. It went well, she enjoyed listening to Falabella's talk a lot. I think the talk I got the most out of was Jeffrey R. Holland's.

Yeah, I heard about that special on Wilsonville from a member in the ward. I know most of those families, I'm not sure about the Walters (since his family didn't join with him) but I'll check it out. Funny, we actually took Donovan out with us to some lessons and I love Marcie Lake! President Lake (her husband) is on the stake presidency so we see him a lot, he's really nice too.

That's awesome that Ben got such an awesome job. $13.00/hour will be freakin' great. The hours are kind of rough, but luckily he'll get to see everyone when they get home from school/work. I hated the hours I worked after I graduated; I never got to see my family or my friends because I was off to work but 1:00 in the afternoon. It made me feel really lonely, and plus I knew I'd be going for awhile without seeing anyone so I felt like I was wasting the time I had left to be with everyone. That was the main reason I quit, it was getting me just really depressed. With his hours though- it's all good! Tell him not too blow it all too quickly.

Silas wants to be an artist? I can't say I really saw that one coming, but that's cool. He's a pretty creative guy so I think he'll do well, he just has to get his artistic vision flowing. You should tell him to break out my easel and one of books I have on oil painting and give it a shot! Tell him to wrap the palette (the flat wooden slab you mix the paint on) in wax paper so he won't have to clean it off, just throw away the wax paper. It's tough getting what you see and what you're thinking out onto paper, canvas, etc. the way you want. It's the hardest part of drawing/art, in my opinion. I'm sure he's probably searched the internet to learn how draw better, but if he has any questions he can write me and I'll see if I can't maybe help. Has he thought about taking any classes at school? Taking classes helps, I'd love to take some more painting/drawing classes when I get back. Does Silas ever plan on writing me back? If not, he can always email me if it'd be easier.

This week we had dinner with the Hofmann's (one of my favorite families in Wilsonville). He likes to entertain, so we always asks us what country we'd like to visit and he finds recipes from those countries and makes it for us. This week was Italian, so he got all fancy on us with napkins folded into flowers, etc. (That's what one of those pictures is.)

I also went on an exchange with one of our zone leaders, Elder Jensen (tall guy standing up in the office picture), and he's awesome! We went knocking on doors later in the afternoon and we were just talking and having a great time. This one guy opened his door and man, he was freakin' stoned. As we were walking away, we were joking about us getting the munchies all of the sudden. Later that night we ripped phone books back at our apartment because we had a dozen outdated ones; it was a great time. Elder Thomas and I get along really well, he scared the living daylights out of me last night though. I got up to get a glass of water and he crawled into my bed and scared me when I sat back down to go to sleep.

Well, not really a whole lot going on. How's Kayleigh doing? I haven't heard anything about her in awhile; has she just been up to the same old things? Has Silas been harassed into giving her rides yet?

Well, that's all I got. Hope things are going well, I love you all and I miss you everyday.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Rainy Oregon countryside

Fancy napkin at the Hoffmann’s

Elder Jensen (standing)

Apparently, I have attained sandwich nirvana

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Was Fun But We Laid An Egg Tracting

Hey everyone,

Easter out here was good. Church was good and, as I suspected, we saw quite a few people that wouldn't normally be there attend sacrament. This one guy, Frank, showed up and we've been trying to get him to come for weeks. So that was good- plus, we were fed really well. A ton of families from the Wilsonville ward get together and have a huge feast and they invited us to join them. I was under the assumption we would be on our own for dinner that night most of the week, so it was quite the pleasant surprise.

Glad to hear your Easter was fun and everyone had a good time. I did receive both the packages, so no worries there. Thanks for the excessive amounts of chocolate and sugar, I've been eating those chocolate eggs so they're almost gone already. I inherited a drawer in my desk full of candy when I first got here, and I'd finally put back almost all of it. Needless to say, my drawer has been fully restocked.

Sounds kind of rough for Ben to adjust back into the swing of everyday life. I wish I could have been there; whenever you go to drop off a resume or anything like that I've learned to always have the back-up shirt/tie combo in your car (just in case you need it). When I got that job working at Overstock and when I went in to apply for this other call center job in Sandy I wasn't sure so I just went dressed casually but brought back-up clothes just to be safe. I needed to use the formal attire both times! I'm glad that he's looking to get a job, and I'm glad to hear that he's applied /enrolled at SLCC. Ben is a smart guy, he'll just need to take some classes, maybe a bit of tutoring, before he gets back up to speed with mathematics.

Sounds like they're having a good time playing guitar with each other. Silas is pretty good at just doing his own little improvisation- kid's got a knack for music (and Ben wasn't too bad either). Yeah, I'm sure it's been hard trying for Brock to find anyone to hang out with. Everyone has gone off to serve, headed to college, etc. He told me about how Ben has become a Minecraft-junkie (which is hilarious)! Well, I hope both Ben and Brock get it all worked out pretty soon.

This past week has been interesting; it's hard to being the only one who knows anything about our area. I've been planning everything, setting up everything, and it's been really hard. There just isn't a whole lot going on right now in this area, and it's hard to make plans when there's nothing to be done. I've managed to get through the week and was even able to get a few ideas of people would could visit this week. We knocked doors quite a bit this past week, and we got worked over by a guy on Saturday. We knocked into him and he was really well-versed in scripture, and has done extensive studying on religion, etc. He wasn't Jewish, but he partook of the Passover, didn't eat pork, etc. but he still believed in Jesus Christ. He talked about how the Sabbath should be done on the seventh day, which to him was Saturday. Elder Thomas was getting a bit frustrated because this guy would just keep talking in circles- so it was difficult, to say the least.

Other then that, it's been pretty routine. It was kind of a rough week for me though, with all the change and just kind of everything. I'm hoping to have a better week this week.

Well, hope you all have a great week! Look forward to hearing from you again next Monday.

Love always,

Elder Samuel Burge