Monday, October 28, 2013

Got so excited about missionary work that I locked the keys in the trunk.


It's been a pretty alright week here in West Linn. I'm just about situated into the apartment and the area. It's a bit overwhelming sometimes when you don't know much of anything about the area. The apartment was really messy and disorganized, but I've been trying to sort through all of it. I'm just about done getting all the unnecessary things out of the way.

There's been a few really solid investigators that we've got, but a lot of the people we try to teach aren't very solid at all. We've had quite a few cancelled lessons this week, which has been a shame. I'm excited though, the ward here has a good focus on missionary work. I've already met a ton of people that are really awesome here as well. Elder Pearson and I get along great- he reminds me a lot of Jordan Steele, actually.

Halloween we'll go about doing the normal routine until about 5 o' clock, then we're going to go out to dinner with our ward mission leader, Brother Bradford, and after that we're going to do our weekly planning the rest of the night. So, no crazy shenanigans on Halloween. I love that candy bowl that you sent me! It's so freakin' sneaky, you think it's batteries are dead it's been still for so long, then you go to grab a piece of candy he lunges out at you and scares the crap outta' you! We're going to take it to district meeting, because we figured out how to make it lunge out (it's light-sensitive) so we shoot its face with a laser-pointer and it goes off.

The ward had a chili cook-off/bake-off on Saturday, and that was really cool. I had some freakin' good chili- and we ended up orchestrating a lot of it (signing everybody in, setting up the tables, and even judging the chili's). I had this one chili with shredded beef instead of ground beef, which was awesome. I'm not a big chili kind of guy, but I really like white, chicken chili's. I'm glad that you guys went to the ward Halloween party- glad to hear that it was pretty alright. Thanks for hazing the missionaries too.

I've been incredibly tired this past week.. I really enjoyed riding a bike, because I got a lot of good exercise and it helps you to know the area better than cruising through it in a car. Now that I'm in a car, my blood isn't flowing and so I'm super tired all the time and I have no idea still where I"m going.

We had a stake breakfast this Saturday, and it was back in Wilsonville (which was really fun). It was really neat being back in my greenie area, and I got to talk all about the people we were teaching with the sisters in the Stafford ward and Elder Schmidt (one of my favorite companions) whose serving in the Wilsonville ward. The work has picked up in both the areas, which is really great. I should have knocked out the apartments in Wilsonville- Elder Schmidt says that they found a ton of people to teach there. Either way though, glad to hear it's picked up for him there.

Yesterday (Sunday), we had a bit of a rough morning. Since everything was in disarray in the apartment- we couldn't find any progress records (which eventually did find), and so as we were leaving the apartment I'd opened the trunk to put my backpack inside and I thought I saw a progress record. Well, it wasn't one and in my excitement I left the keys to the car and apartment in the trunk and closed it... It freaking sucked, I felt so stupid. We walked everywhere in that morning (which I actually really liked), but eventually we had to have somebody drive down from Beaverton to give us the spare key. It was pretty embarrassing.

That was my week. I'm hopeful we can get more work going in this area. It sounded like we'd have more things to do when I first got here, but after getting more familiar with everything it seems like this area needs a some T.L.C.

Well, it's good to hear from everybody. I hope things continue to go smoothly for you all. Let me know how the ward splits- I'm curious to see how that's going to work.

Love always,

Elder Samuel A. Burge 

The tracting workout

The neighborhood

The scary candy bowl

Elder Pearson & I in the living room

Elder Pearson welcomes you

Our Apartment

Our Kitchen

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Extra pictures

Elder Olsen’s Famous Jello

Downtown West Linn

The falls

Kayaker’s eye view of the falls

Transferred to West Linn with Elder Pearson

Seasons greetings from West Linn!

Well, seeing as it's Tuesday that does mean that I've officially been transferred! It was kind of sad to leave the area, and to see Elder Olsen head off on his own. He was extremely nervous about getting a new companion, but I think the new duo in Springville will work wonderful things.

As for me, I've been transferred to the Willamette ward in West Linn, OR. It's literally right next to my old area boundaries in Wilsonville so I'm back down that area! I was actually really hoping to go Moreland/Milwaukie/Portland as well, but I'm very happy and content with being in West Linn. It's really beautiful here- some really great views (especially of the Willamette river), really green with lots of trees, the town itself is really cool. I went on all of my exchanges while in Wilsonville here, so I know the area a little bit already. I honestly was not expecting to be transferred here, but it's usually where I least suspect that I get placed. Our apartment is in an older part of the area, so it has pretty fun feel to it.

My new companion is Elder Pearson from Clearfield, UT- and he's freaking great! I'm his follow-up trainer, so he just got done being trained and has been out 3 months. It's only been a day, but I'm already enjoying this area a lot. I ended up meeting most of the ward leaders last night, all really funny/great people and focused on doing missionary work. That's something I think I'm most excited for, is there's a good handful of people that we can teach here- easily the busiest area I've been my entire mission. That for me is going enjoyable, because I was worried I'd be put somewhere with less-than-favorable conditions.

Last Monday after we got our groceries and went to email Elder Olsen, the office elders (Elders Buess and Lasley), and myself took the MAX for the first time and spent the day in downtown Portland! It was incredibly fun, seeing as last time I went we didn't walk around all too much. It was really cool to take the MAX and to walk the bustling streets of Portland! It was fun to go to Voodoo doughnuts, be heckled by a horde of homeless people looking for money, etc. Didn't find too many good food carts, and the good ones we'd found were all closed at the moment.They didn't open up the Market Street branch to elders this transfer, but I suspect that in the future they will so hopefully before my mission is through I'll get to serve closer to the city. A sister missionary I'm friends with serves in an area right next to downtown so she actually gets to go proselyte in the city, which I was envious of. She says it's a lot of fun, but there's actually more opportunities to serve in the city than I thought (some YSA wards, which ZL's cover, go into various parts of the city that aren't in the mission).

Well, it sounds like everybody at home is doing good. I did get my package, and I've already eaten a box of cereal you guys sent me! I look forward to decorating my new apartment with Halloween stuff.

Love you guys, have a good week.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

The Albert’s “Doog”

Waiting for the Max with Elders Buess & Lasley

Riding the Max

Elder Lasley riding the train

Elders Buess, Larsen, & Lasley “street walking” in Portland

Donut Nirvana

It’s not always raining in Portland – just most of the time

The Alberts

My Halloween cereal feast has arrived

Bro. Beers

The McCartys

The Parkins

Elder Lasley may be in the church, but I don’t think that’s the Spirit he’s reacting to

Elder Winitana

Bro. Apple

The Call Family

Father & Son – He grew up so fast

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life Lessons & Sketchy Nights

Hey everybody-

Sounds like a pretty eventful week, definitely! I'm glad to hear that things are still going alright! I can't imagine anybody would be too peachy-keen if somebody started talking about possibilities for you having a serious disease. I'm glad that everything was able to work out alright though. I'll be sure to keep Dad in my prayers though (more so than I already do).

I'm glad to hear that Kayleigh's got a good moral compass! I can imagine the frustrations you have about Silas- I think I've learned a lot of valuable lessons my ten months here in Portland and I've learned very well the saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink". You can tell people to do something or develop a certain habit that will help and benefit them but until they have a determination for themselves to change, it won't happen. It's amazing how difficult it is for people (myself included) to do the little things that are asked of us daily. It's incredibly freaking irritating and frustrating when people don't listen, but I've come to realize the importance of showing your love for people even when they choose to be either disobedient and ignore whatever wisdom or counsel you offer them. If they understand, and I mean really understand, that you love them and what you're sharing with them is going to bless/help them then it will soften their hearts and humble them enough to listen and obey. Either that or they suffer the consequences of stupid decisions and, like touching a hot stove when you've been told it's hot, feel the burn and unfortunately learn from experience the blessings of obedience.

Our week was fairly interesting- but still a pretty slow week. We managed to find a really nice couple that we're going to start visiting, Derrick and Tina! They're already pretty devout Christians, but they're incredibly humble and sincere people. Not to mention they've been thoroughly impressed with our persistence in coming back to their house once a week for like two months..! Lesson #2 in my letter- persistence and diligence brings freakin' results! There's been at least three people that we've met with that have said something along the lines of, "You know, I'm incredibly impressed by how persistent you two guys are! I'll listen to what you've got to say!". It's pretty sweet, even if it is hard sometimes.

We've also had some pretty sketchy nights in these apartments on the west side of our area- super, duper sketchy! Earlier in the week, Elder Olsen bought an umbrella and whilst knocking on some doors in the apartments he'd left his umbrella tucked away under a stairwell. Well, it got stolen and it was not a cheap umbrella (he was pissed). Later in the week, we went to set up some appointments at like, 8:00-8:30, and so we parked our bikes outside the complex and walked up in. Well, there was something shady going on because there was three cop cars with their lights off and a couple of officers scoping out one of the buildings. We then walked over by this porch and one of our favorite locals to sit and talk with was having a smoke. So we sat and talked with her about a lot of things, and soon enough we had this other guy coming over asking for a smoke and sitting there talking with us. So we were having a conversation with them while they were all puffing cigarette smoke all over when the guy asking for a cigarette says, "Hold on, gotta' get something out of my car.." So I assume it's like some milk or groceries... Nope, it was his 3-month old son. It was a really weird half hour, but hopefully we'll get to do like a scripture study with the lady soon!

Well, it's the last week before transfers so I'll probably get the Halloween package on Monday if we go up to the transfer meeting. I'm really excited to get the heck outta' dodge (which sounds terrible), but I need a change of scenery. Plus, I'm excited to see Elder Olsen taking the reins of the area- he's a good missionary so he'll do good work in the area!

Tell Mom that I'm doing alright- staying safe on the bike. It's funny, a lady in our ward came up to us and talked about being careful/staying safe on the bikes because of how worried she thinks our mothers must be! Guess she was pretty inspired!

Well, I love you guys. Hope you all have a good week!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

(Sorry, I've been pretty bad at taking pictures as of late...)

Monday, October 7, 2013

First official bike wreck

Hello everybody,

This week has been another slow week- we had quite a few cancellations and couldn't get pretty much anyone join us for general conference. I really enjoyed listening to the prophet and apostles- especially both of Uchtdorf's talks, Elder Holland's talk on Saturday afternoon, and Eyring in the priesthood session. I'm always surprised when Boyd K. Packer shows up for conference because after the last two broadcasts I thought he'd finally give up the ghost for sure. Still kicking though, so kudos to him! We watched a few sessions at the church, and I honestly enjoyed it a lot more than being on a couch in somebody's house. I actually got quite a bit out of the Saturday sessions we watched there, because it was the only thing I could focus on and it's a lot harder to doze off!

Glad to hear that you didn't have to spend a ton of money replacing the heater- that would've been awful. Today we went to a Halloween store with the assistants (Elder Visser and Elder Egan) and there's a ton of freaky stuff there! It was straight-up creepy but I had a lot of fun with that. It's gotten a bit warmer here the past week, the rain has cleared up the past few days and it's been getting into the 70's-80's. It's awful, I was super excited for the rainfall to come and then it went away and now we have to always be wearing either a suit or a jacket (only when we're out biking). It's made getting around extremely uncomfortable because of how hot it's been getting. I'm really excited for winter in some respects. The wet, cold aspect can be challenging for some but I think it isn't too bad. We get to listen to X-mas music though, which is going to be fantastic. I wanted to ask y'all if you'd be willing to send me Justin Bieber's, Reliant K's, and some other good x-mas albums. Those would be great! Honestly, I don't get much mail (digital or hand-written) these days. It's slowed down quite a bit from pretty much everybody, but it's all good. I still write my friends occasional emails and receive them from time-to-time.

Speaking of biking- I had my first official bike wreck this week! We were pulling out onto this busy road and I realized that I wasn't supposed to go straight, but turn right to get to our next appointment and so as I turned I hit my front brake way too hard and flew over my handlebars and my bike came tumbling on top of me. Luckily, I wasn't in the middle of the busy road and the only injuries were a blood stain in my jacket sleeve, a scraped-up elbow, and shattered pride. Elder Olsen said it was pretty crazy how I flew over, he thought I was going to be pretty messed up. It was pretty nutty, but at least I'm positive my brakes work well!

Sorry to hear that Ben's had a rough week of college classes. Got a low grade on a history paper for talking too much about history, that's pretty funny. At least he's not failing any of his classes, and I'm sure he'll do better on some of his later exams/tests. I know for sure that I'm going to need a math tutor when I get home, because I can't remember anything about math and the last like two math classes I took in high school I didn't retain/learn all too much. (Partially because of my not paying attention and screwing around in class...) I'm so happy that you checked out Elder Udy's blog- he actually talked with me about helping me with math when we get back from Portland because he's going back to USU and that's possibly where I'm going to go! It's too bad his area has slowed down as much as it has.. You think that having companionship in each ward is rough, well think again: there's going to be twenty wards in our mission alone with two sets of missionaries! There's a couple being established this transfer and it freaks me out. What the heck am I supposed to do 24/7 in a ward with four missionaries in it? Not to mention I'm going to get transferred in two weeks (thankfully), so now it's going to feel like a game of Russian roulette..!

I'm really hopeful for this upcoming transfer- it will be good for everybody. I'll get a much needed change of scenery and (hopefully) pace and Elder Olsen will get a trial by fire! It will be good for him, it will stretch him and get the ball rolling for the rest of his two years. It's been quite a learning experience, these past twelve weeks. Adjusting to missionary life can be struggle, but I know he's going to be an great missionary (even though it can be difficult sometimes).

Well, that's all I've got for this week- I love you guys and hope you have a great week.

Elder Samuel A. Burge