Monday, December 8, 2014

My last epistle home

Hello!

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..!

Love, 

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

Hey,

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

Hey,

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 (mormon.org). 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

A.K.A.

"Trunky Mess"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pictures

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

Hey,

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Parties

Hey,

Well, our week was good. No new people to teach, but the people we are meeting with are making great progress! We set a baptismal date with one woman for December 13th! I told Elder Wheeler we're at least getting one before I leave! So that was good.

It's been a weird week - we got caught up with a lot of different things. Going to Oregon Health & Science University to give priesthood blessings, helping some other elders out with some issues they've been having. It has been a rough week for quite a few people, so we've been doing a lot of administering to the missionaries. Good news though, all of their problems have been resolved, so now we can all get back to work!

We also helped with the Halloween parties for the wards that meet in our church building. We helped set up some props for the other ward's party (we set up "floating" candles in the gym with the Raleigh Hills elders and some members in their ward, etc.) Our ward party was good,I wore the pajama suit and people LOVED it! They just laughed and thought it was the best thing they'd ever seen. I told everybody that the white handbook CLEARLY states we should be in full proselyting
attire at all times, going to bed at night isn't an exception! They thought it was funny- and it was good. (You'll see more pictures on Facebook, I'm sure).


The Raleigh Hills ward had easily the best ward function I have ever seen-- a Harry Potter themed Halloween party. The lights were great, they put a ton of effort into decorating the church building and gym and it was sweet! They had themed food like butter beer, chocolate-covered frogs, etc. Everybody had really, really good costumes too! They are serious about their Halloween parties! Probably because their ward (like ours) is mostly young couples in dental/medical school with 0-1 kids..!

I will tell ya, it's going to be a long 7 weeks... This area has been challenging in a lot of respects. I love the people here, and being in SW Portland has been awesome! (Wish my camera wasn’t busted, or I would readily take more pictures. It's a shame, but I will get lots of good ones before I leave!) It’s just the work has been slow, a lot of other missionaries have struggled, and it's been hard being so close to the end. Being so close to the end, it is incredibly (and increasingly) more difficult to stay diligent and focused. Just knowing you have just weeks left, you struggle with the recurring thought, "What's the point, I'm not going to be here in six or seven weeks anyways!" Not that I've become incredibly lazy or disobedient, but I just don't feel as immersed in the work anymore. It's weird, but I feel like God is just saying to me, "Take what great things I've given you in Portland,go home, and move forward with your life".

Well, it's great to see Kayleigh lettering in tennis! That's awesome! Haha, let me know how Ben's long-distance romance goes! That is cool that you applied for a state position, mom! I don't necessarily know what that means, but it will be interesting to see what happens! Well, love you guys. Talk to you next week!

-- Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, October 20, 2014

First Portlandia car bomb experience!!!

It was a CRAZY week for me-lots of interesting things happening here in SW Portland.

Well, teaching has been better his week! We have taught the most lessons to investigators with members present since I've been here. It was only three lessons- but hey, improvement is good (even if sometimes it seems small). The lessons have been really good, and we are starting to see some people come to church. We even had one less-active guy, Doug, invite us over for Thanksgiving dinner (which is sweet, he's a great guy and I love meeting with him). The ward is still doing great as well, we gave talks (my first sacrament meeting talk in 22 months— I thought I was going to keep the streak going!) on missionary work. I had like 45 minutes of actual preparation for it because of how busy things got on Friday and Saturday, but I think it turned out alright. Either way, a great week in that respect.

The week though, was a very peculiar one to say the least. It started with Wednesday, while I was on an exchange with Elder Schildknecht. We were at the library across the street from our apartment on Capitol Hwy. when suddenly we heard this loud "BOOM" come from outside. So we logged off the computers and walked outside to see a ton of Muslim people standing around the apartments, one car and apartment in particular. So, in curiosity and with high-hopes of something adventurous we walked over and were two of the first people on the scene. From what we gathered, some enraged Muslim man had some sort of vendetta against somebody or something like that (it was hard not to let the stereotypical thoughts come flooding in). So he made some home-made car bomb and threw it under this guy's car in hopes to blow stuff up! Well, apparently his Google-inspired bomb recipe sucked because all it did was make a loud noise. I mean, we got there and there was no damage to the car or anything.. But, everybody was freaked out. The school next to us went into lockdown, the bomb squad was called, and the police were there for most of the day. It was pretty crazy stuff— so that gives you an idea of the neighborhood I live in! Haha (just kidding mom, it's actually not even close to Wednesday's shenanigans)

Aside from that, I got to attend my first wedding on Saturday! Elder Snow and I (my second companion in Aloha 2nd) went to a wedding for a returning member we became really close friends with! Sam and his dad Rick, did I mention them before? Well either way, it was a great wedding. The food was great, people were drinking excessively. It's just like television told me it would be! Haha- but it was actually a beautiful wedding and I was so excited for him. His (now) wife was really nice and he was great too. You meet so many awesome people on your mission, and Sam will definitely be one I'm staying in touch with. Plus, spending most of the day with Elder Snow was great. It was good to catch up, talk about our areas, the mission, life, etc. We talked about my departing this life soon, and about what makes a successful mission. Even though I didn't baptize the nations, I definitely feel like I tried my hardest to work hard, be obedient, and help other people. The lessons I've learned and the testimony I've gained have been far worth it. Looks like your $10,000 investment was worth it! Haha

Well, I love you guys. Thanks for the pictures, I love seeing you all. It's been kind of hard these past few weeks. Coming home sucks, for MANY reasons. A lot of conflicting emotions, especially thinking about post-missionary life. It will work out though, but the worries and uncertainties are still there. School, work, dating, housing, etc. All that is coming quickly. I am super excited for it, but also terrified of it (if that makes sense).

I am most excited just to see you all and spend time with you again.

... and to watch all these awesome films that have come out..!

Love ya!

Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, October 13, 2014

The “family tree”, crazy pizza guy, & apartment cleaning for the institutionalized

This week was a good one- however, the bonsai is still growing. It came with several seeds, and a few of them should start to sprout so I can share the pleasure of bonsai with others. Namely by creating a "family tree". A bonsai plant handed down from generation to generation! It's going to be awesome!

We had some good successes this week! We received like four media referrals (people referring themselves or their friends online via Mormon.org) and we actually picked one up as a new investigator. Her son was recently baptized in Eugene, Oregon and she was asking him lots of questions. So he finally told her he was going to send the missionaries by to talk with her. She lives across the street from a strip club on Barbur Blvd. We were tempted to park in their parking lot because the complex had no parking, but decided we probably shouldn't and parked down the street instead. Two missionaries strolling through a strip club parking lot... Probably not the best situation to find yourself in!

We were able to talk with quite a few people this week as well, so we've been working hard to find more people to teach. But we had some good things happen this week— hopefully we will keep seeing weeks like this.

We had an encounter with a crazy pizza guy this week. We were doing service weeding a garden for some people and they bought us pizza. Well, the pizza guy was surprised to find four missionaries awaiting him as he walked up to the house. He has a brother who is a member of the church, and he thought it was crazy and took it as a sign. Well, that sounded great until he started talking further.. He told us about how the church could influence the entire world, and how easy it is for a single person to impact things... Like he did by influencing the feminists. Hen he told us about how he didn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that his being hanged in the Wild West was inevitable. He then proceeded to tell us that he had an angel appear to him as well, like twenty years ago. He was nice, but crazy. Crazy pizza guy.

Another crazy experience we had was on an exchange. I was with one of our ZL's, Elder Beus, when the elders in the Raleigh Hills ward called us about a service opportunity. Interesting side-note: I told him to bring service clothes for our exchange, but I didn't know why..! #prophecy

Anyways, we get the address to this apartment building. We show up to a dresser being shoved out of a three-story window and the other elders picking up the broken pieces and throwing them in this dumpster. So we had been enlisted to help these people clean out an apartment for a recently institutionalized woman.. It was a pretty gnarly scene. The house was filled with clutter, the kitchen was destroyed (food splatters on the wall, disgusting concoctions everywhere, garbage, etc.) there was a very neatly kept bag of recyclables in the corner though. Only in Portland..!

So they just needed the garbage cleared out, and the furniture was not worth keeping so they asked us to get rid of it too. We found a lot of interesting things, a couple of really dark things (magic books, tarot cards, bad magazines, etc.) so that was an experience! The people were grateful for our help though and we were glad to lend a hand. She was a relative of the lady that lived there and I felt so bad for her. It must be hard to have dealt with this kind of stuff as much as she did.

But yeah, went one quite a few exchanges this week. With Elders Jacobsen and Beus. We have a lot of great missionaries in our district/zone, it's pretty great.

I can't believe my wing-man is getting married! Brock emailed me during the week and I was totally shocked. I am excited for him though! He told me all about the experience, and it was pretty funny. It will probably be the same as before, I don't expect much by way of our friendship to change- and hopefully when they make the wedding invites I can be included (like a picture of me laying between them in a bed with a big grin on my face, just to name an example). Slowly my life is turning into a sit-com. They will be the married couple, and we'll always hang out at their apartment. It's going to be awesome! (Hopefully that's where it goes.)

Well, that's okay. Ben and I can find another roommate for our sweet apartment in Salt Lake City. When is Ben going to move out? Well, whenever it's happens we can both move in together. It will be awesome, I can find us a sweet place to live. He just might have to pay the rent for a few months after I get home..! Haha, it'll be great!

Sorry to hear Silas' failed movie project. That's a bummer- deadlines are terrible. I showed some people my videos on the internet and I was ashamed. They are just terrible. I could do a much better video.. #lowbudgetfilms

I wrote Josh, and he was funny. He got all bent outta' shape about us having iPads in my mission! Haha! He's going to be our third roommate- I am excited for him to get home, Ben will have one of his friends back!

Well, I love you guys. Don't don't go hanging out with any unbelieving Gentiles now! ;)

Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's been a pretty good week in Maplewood!

This week was filled with some good lessons, which is always nice. Got to meet with a lot of people and had some great experiences with several of them! We finally got this less-active member we've been meeting with every week to come with us and the bishop to the visitor center and had a "breakthrough" lesson. He's struggled with coming back to church because he felt like he'd missed too many "milestones" (serving a mission, getting married in the temple, serving in callings, etc.) so he missed his opportunity to repent and (eventually) reach the highest degree of God's kingdom. So what's the point in trying if you are damned from the start? Well, we had a great conversation with him and the bishop and it finally clicked that what he's thought about God's mercy wasn't right— that we can always repent, and God will always welcome us back. So, it was great! That and we taught another man and his wife (who isn't a member of the church) and he wants to eventually get back to where he can be with her in the temple. So, now we've picked them up and are teaching them as well! Productivity this week, it was great! Excited to get some good things going and to start seeing more people come to church and progress..! 

We enjoyed conference - a lot of really insightful talks. Quite a few on goals/plans, which I found funny. Getting the message across that I gotta' set some goals for myself and make plans for my future. There were also many good talks, I enjoyed so many of them. The one seventy from a Germanic country that called the out of shape to repent! I really enjoyed his talk, and he definitely needed that disclaimer on the front of his talk that he was speaking with "boldness"! I also really enjoyed Neil A. Anderson's talk on Joseph Smith. The whole of the Saturday sessions were great. We enjoyed watching with a variety of people, including the Riley's (which by the way, she says you need to add her on Facebook mom!). Hence the breakfast pics!

Ready for Action! 

 
Makin Bacon! 

This week should be good, we have zone conference and Elder Wheeler is going on his first couple of exchanges— interesting to walk somebody through the basics again. Makes you reflect upon it a lot. I wrote Josh and he is training his last two transfers as well!

We went to the Japanese Tea Gardens here in Portland today with the district. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it. We got lost on the way there ( I have proudly gone my whole mission without investing in any sort of a GPS ). Haha, but we made it there successfully. Looked at the tea gardens as well, but I enjoyed the ponds and waterfalls of the tea garden. I also bought the seeds for a bonsai tree! I hope to walk off that plane with a beautiful little sprout in a ceramic pot! I am going to find the Japanese characters for faith and write it on the side!

Well, I hope things with work get better for both of you. And hopefully school gets easier for Ben. I am not excited to relearn half of algebra/trigonometry. I have had trouble doing basic arithmetic since I have been out.. But hey, we can all just mooch off of Kayleigh when she's making the big bucks at Wimbledon! Haha! Except for Silas- he'll be imitating the movie Rambo in like China or something.

Well, I love you all. Can't wait to hear from you next week!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, September 29, 2014

Elder Wheeler’s got the fire!!!

Hello,

Well, it's been a very interesting week. Elder Wheeler's first week out on the mission! It's interesting to be training again- it's a lot different than my first new missionary, Elder Olsen. Maybe it's
because of what phase of my mission I'm in, different people have different attitudes, behaviors, experiences, etc. But needless to say it seems to be a much different experience. Or maybe my memory is just bad. That happens a lot.

Well, his first week seemed good. We had a lot of little successes and miracles, which are always appreciated. His first official "contact" resulted in a nice conversation with an ex-professor, now landscaper. (Not sure how one makes a jump like that, but he seemed happy so good for him). We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, and afterwards had a few solid contacts. He was so excited after that! Haha! He wanted to keep tracting the whole street. Later in the week we did, and I will
tell you it was a completely different experience for him! People were slamming doors with exceeding rudeness. He was less enthusiastic after that! Haha Breaking him in nicely.  We had opportunities to teach throughout the week- mostly members, but it was good for us. Just working on improving our teaching abilities. I wonder how well I actually taught when I was first out. He's got
fire though, and that's good! I think I lacked a lot of that when I first got out. But it was a good week.

Elder Schildknecht is in my district, and it's great. His missionary is good too, Elder Jacobsen. They've had some good experiences too. Like giving a Book of Mormon out to a stripper, and a picture they took down he first night being put back up in one of their windows. Still don't know how it happened or who done it. Weird. But either way. It was a good week, full of learning/teaching
opportunities. We still have no investigators, really. That's kind of a bummer, but hopefully we will change that! We prayed for a Sunday miracle, and surely enough we had some people we meet with who aren't very active come to church! On their own - no invite or anything! Specific prayers get specific results, it was a great experience!

Wow, Kayleigh looks so mature- I remember when she was a sassy little girl in elementary/middle school. She's grown into a beautiful young lady, and now when I get home I'll have to get stacked so I can fearfully "influence" all the pompous young suitors that come to our house. Scary older brother thing, maybe I'll give myself a scar across my eye and learn to talk like Jason Statham. Yeah, that will work..! Well, I love you guys. Look forward to hearing from you next week.

Love ya,
Elder Samuel A. Burge

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trunky Training

Well, transfer brought an interesting turn of events... I'm training again.

I was really surprised, but I guess that's where the Lord wanted me. The AP's told me when I got the call that I was going to be a zone leader, but then President decided that he needed me to train. So, now I am officially ending my mission in the Maplewood Ward! (Which is good - I love the members here a lot).

So my new companion is Elder Wheeler, and he's from Bountiful, UT. He's pretty fresh outta' high school. As I'm sure you've already seen, Sis. Riley in the ward sent out some pictures of us! He seems nice, and he's ready to work. (which is good!) He seems to be handling the adjustment pretty well.

It's great because Elder Schildknecht, who came out with me, is also "trunky training". He's also in the Raleigh Hills ward right next to us, so it's been great! He's awesome, and his greenie seems pretty alright as well so that's good news!

They also changed up the transfer calls and districts. Usually we'd find out at the transfer meeting where we were going and who with, but now they give us transfer information on Saturday night. It was strange, but the President had been making some interesting changes. Like now there are more districts in the zones. Smaller districts, and more of them. I think there were like twenty new district leaders assigned? Elder Turnbow, Elder Meredith, and Elder Viecco are now all district leaders. It's been a very unique transfer to say the least! I am excited for them all though, it will be good for them to have the responsibilities being a DL has. Helps you grow, right?

So last week was slow because me and my companion were not feeling very well- especially Elder Viecco. He was out for two days with this cold. So we spent a pretty decent amount of time in the apartment, with the occasional split to make some visits we still had set up. I read like half the church history institute manual, haha! It was actually really enlightening and interesting.

Made me appreciate the prophet Joseph Smith more, just learning about his (and his family's life). Like his beginnings and how he grew into the person he was so he could do what he was asked. Lucy Mack Smith's father (Joseph's grandfather) lived a rough life! He spent his whole life trying to make money and it never worked out well. He, at one point, got crushed by a falling tree. Then four months after making a recovery from that fell into a water-wheel..! That's just bad luck. I think learning about some of the translating of the plates and other things was interesting too. To see how he was rebuked A LOT in the beginning for not being ready to receive the plates, losing the first 116 pages, etc. It was a good read though.

But other then that, I slept. Haha, so our week was a little lax because he and I were feeling sick. I definitely didn't get nearly as sick though which was nice.

So as far as school is concerned, I think I will apply for the spring semesters. I have been very undecided about whether I should dive straight into school, but I think I will just take the time off for a month or two to get back into normal life. I hope you haven't put forth too much effort that will be wasted by my indecisiveness..!

Well, I love you guys. Thanks for letting me know about my returning itinerary (A.K.A. my "trunky papers"). I still want to fly home though, I will have my SLC Airport homecoming that all the church videos says I should have!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Don’t worry elder.  You’ll enjoy being a district leader.

My second son – Elder Wheeler

It’s feed my SHEEP elder.

It’s like a mattress, but made out of bricks.

The best message you could receive in a grimy phone booth in downtown Portland.

 My $7 grilled cheese was definitely not worth $7

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cool little miracle-type things

Hello family!

Yeah, it would've been nice to have had Silas translate! I tried learning some conversational phrases in Cantonese this week- it was difficult. They didn't come to church this week, which was too bad. He had work things come up he had to take care. We did have a less-active we contacted during the week come to sacrament though! It was a miracle, I did not think she would come at all, but sure enough she walked into the church at 9:05. Crazy sweet.

We also had another experience that was kind of funny, and really sweet. We received this media referral a few weeks back, somebody referred him to us and wanted us to give him a Restoration DVD. We stopped by, gave him the DVD and he said he would watch it and if it interested him he'd contact us. Well, I had the thought to email him (we had his email) on Thursday so I wrote him one. Well, we were at the library and sure enough he was sitting across from me at another computer! It was a crazy, so we talked with him in quiet, awkward library talk and told him to check his email! It was pretty funny and a cool little miracle-type thing.

Our week was alright. Just working to try and find more people to teach. We've been working with the ward a lot, building everybody's faith that The Lord is preparing people for us (the missionaries and ward) to teach and baptize. They've been going well— the members in Maplewood are so awesome! Great people, and they have a great focus on the work. We did splits for home-teaching yesterday and found some less-actives that we might be able to get on with.

Other then that- things are doing alright. The district and the companion are doing pretty good. It's sad, because almost all of the missionaries I know are going home next week. This transfer we're losing a ton of good missionaries. It's a reminder that my days are numbered.

Yeah, I still am going to apply to BYU-I. I don't feel pressured into it, it's a great option but I struggle still with the idea of going to a church school. The thought of being in a small town smack in the midst of Idaho initially makes me weary, but it seems like a solid school and I know it would be alright. The lack of a super solid film program deters me some, but if I really wanted to pursue that I could just crank out excellent grades and transfer to BYU. So don't feel like I am feeling pressured of anything. I will take Kayleigh's advice and avoid Dixie! Haha!

Hey- I love awkwardly yelling at/disciplining people. It's great... (Not really.) haha, preparation for life I guess! I can't imagine Silas making people do push-ups— "Silence" rebuking people publicly seems so different!

Well, sorry Mom that school has been somewhat difficult. Hope that things get better for you soon at school.

Well, I love you guys, talk to you next week!

- Elder Samuel A. Burge
'

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Teaching through a Chinese Translator

Hello,

Sorry this came in so late...This week was pretty usual. I feel like a broken record sometimes talking about my weeks. We are still in a "finding phase". Which isn't that great, because I feel like that's been my whole mission. There's some good progress being made with some people we found and started teaching in a few of my other areas though, and hearing about those makes me feel pretty good! Hopefully I can find some good, solid investigators by the time I'm done here.

The head of the department of proselyting and another very distinguished person from Salt Lake City came and spoke to us as missionary leadership on Friday. They really put online proselyting into a better perspective for most of us, I think. Just how to use it more effectively. They also talked about finding and planning- made a big push for both of those. Some of things they talked about have been ideas we've had for the zone, so that felt good to know we were on the right track! Anyways, it was a long meeting, but it was insightful. A lot of information though, and I have to figure out how to share it with the district.

Oh, something absolutely crazy.. We found out somebody I'd taught that moved out of the state hung himself last week. Police found him and let his friends/family know. It's crazy, not more than two weeks ago we were talking to him on Facebook and now he's gone. It was crazy- life situations like that really puts God's plan into perspective though. I'm grateful we have the knowledge of it all knowing where we go after this life. Roadmaps are nice, especially with things like that..!

A few days before Sunday (on like Thursday I think) we got a call from some elders in the zone. They told us that a new investigator they had would be coming to our ward for church on Sunday because the member they've been taking with them lives in our ward. Well, this brother in the ward is one of the few people in the stake that can speak Cantonese (Chinese). This guy and his family are Chinese and speak very little English, but the husband has become very interested in learning about Jesus Christ. Well, he and his wife came to church but because of their language barrier we ended up teaching our own lesson for second and third hour with Bro. Fei translating most of it. I will tell you, it was very difficult to try explaining things simply— especially since this man's wife spoke absolutely no English! He was alright, but gospel conversations were hard for him to follow. But, they enjoyed church and felt very friendly and welcome and I think our lesson went fairly alright.

But, that's probably the highlights of our week.

Love you, talk to you soon.

Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, September 1, 2014

Our week was very routine

Hello! 

Well, I am sorry to hear about your rough week mom! It's amazing the things people will say and do, I feel like so many people don't even think when they say things. It's sad- I wish that people would be more open to listening to both sides of a story, rather than seeing it from their narrow perspective. Well, I'm sure things will get better for you. You're a great teacher, and given a few weeks things will smooth themselves out. 
It's great to hear that Kayleigh is doing so great with tennis! Crush the cowboys!! It's great to hear about how good everyone is doing: Kayleigh with tennis, Silas with ROTC, Ben with his computer..ing? and his lady troubles! Haha, I laughed when I read about that- proud of you! 

Sorry to hear your excursion up to Idaho didn't work out! You'll have to let me know how everybody likes the university when you finally go. I really need to just sit down at a computer and look into some of the schools more. I got permission from the prez, but it's difficult to find a computer without making your companion just sit there and do nothing. 

I've almost completely decided to just be back at home for a few months once I get back. I mean, not that I have any issues with starting in the winter semester but it would be easier to just to go for spring so I don't have to get every single thing filled out and squared away while on the mission. Plus, just time to kind of hang out and see everyone again would be nice— I will especially enjoy the tides being turned on Silas. Finally, I will be the one propositioning him to buy ME pizza! (And the good ol' days of me doing that to Ben as well..!) 

Well, our week here in Maplewood was very... routine. Just some of the same, typical things. Knocking doors, (we taught a lot of less-actives, recent converts, and returning members though which was nice). This week there's a few big cheeses from Salt Lake to talk with the missionary leadership about online proselyting and some additional things— normally it's just the ZL's, STL's (sister training leaders), and President that get to do those types of meetings but the lowly, humble district leaders get to join them for MLC (missionary leadership council) this week! 

Well, I love ya! Have a great week! 

Elder Samuel A. Burge 

Beaverton North District

Monday, August 25, 2014

Layin’ down the law!!!!

Thanks for the college info. I think you're right though, USU is probably not going to happen. It's too expensive and, as much as I love the campus, probably not the best fit. I've been thinking for awhile, it's been kind do overwhelming. I really hope BYU accepts me, I feel like that would be probably the best option. I think UVU, SLCC, and BYU-I are some of my other options as well.

Our week was... Well, we made it through alright. There's been a lot of challenges. We got dropped by our most promising investigator, we had several lessons fall through, the doors we knocked this week were less-than-friendly, and as a district leader I've had to deal with a lot this week. Elder Viecco and myself are doing well though, not any complaints there. He's been feeling better this week (even though we've had a bit of a blow to the work in our area).

We had a district leader counsel this past Friday, where he calls all the missionary leadership and we discuss different things and receive instructions. Well, he is definitely an ambitious and motivated mission president! I love President Ballard, he's going to do great things here. But, we as leadership got 100%-REBUKED! He laid down the law, especially about the finding efforts of the mission! After showing us some staggering statistics and numbers, he is making finding a mission focus from here on out. It was very insightful, and I definitely think he's inspired. I got stoked to get out and knock doors, it was great. He's changing the mission and leaving his mark..!

So, that's honestly been our week. It's been interesting and very challenging. I am hanging in there though, just taking day by day! We're going to hopefully get things going here in Maplewood by the end of the transfer. Although it has been difficult, the challenges have absolutely been filled with spiritual outpouring, just learning so much as I've been going through some of these things.

Well, I am glad that Silas and Kayleigh are doing well— I am excited to hear that ROTC is going so well for him, and that Kayleigh is going to homecoming! I hope that the new school year is good! Tell dad to keep the info. on college coming, I am so grateful that he likes to research things as much as I do! The details are important to me, and it's nice to get them when I can't necessarily do it myself!

I love you, have a great week!

- Elder Samuel A. Burge

D&D Maplewood-style

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Transfers were crazy

Greetings,

Transfers were crazy- all sorts of changes! It's interesting to see the different perspective that President Ballard brings to the mission. A lot of really crazy switches: disobedient elders getting out of leadership positions, junior companions becoming zone leaders, white washes, etc. We did lose our set of sister missionaries, but they both went to my old areas! It was weird, but they'll do good in West Linn and Aloha. Elder Ah Kuoi and Elder Moore (the elders I served with in West Linn) took over the sister's apartment and are now solely in the Tongan Branch recently formed in the area! It's awesome, we go do laundry at their place just like good ol' times. It's really nice, but it’s Elder Moore's last six weeks, so it's awakens me to the idea that I'll be home soon (which is weird). I am also jealous because the Tongan Branch is the most coveted area in the mission- it's sweet! They're learning to speak Tongan, because all their meetings and church activities are in Tongan. The elders ate a whole roasted pig for dinner the other day. Just things like that, it's sweet.

Unfortunately, they aren't in my district, because of a Samoan elder that came into the mission this transfer. He speaks FOB English (meaning "Fresh Off the Boat"). He can barely get by, so they put the Tongan elders in their district, so Elder Ah Kuoi (who is also Samoan) can help him with the language issues. Too bad, but it’s still awesome, because they live down the street from us, so we're going to spend Mondays doing stuff.

I am not surprised when people come back early from their missions anymore. It seems pretty common. I can understand some of the frustration anxiety/depression can cause. I don't really feel like I've been a stranger to it. It can be hard, definitely.

With the sisters gone, it's been nice to have more people in the teaching pool. We've got a lot more less-active/returning members to meet with. We're also meeting with this woman who is like the epitome of Portland! The sister missionaries tracted into her, and our visit was so... well, weird. We weeded for 45 minutes, she brought us gifts from the beach (clam shells, crabs, and some sea barnacles organized to make a little garden inside the shell), and we made clam chowder while we talked about the gospel!

There's some good things, but the reality of it is we need to get out there and start finding more people. Tyson Haddon used an analogy early on in my mission that I liked (he shared it with me in an email) that missionary work is like finding aces in a deck of cards: you just have to keep flipping cards until you find the aces. So likewise, we just need to get more creative with our finding (using Facebook, working with members), but ultimately just hitting the pavement and talking with people. So that's what the area's challenges are right now: finding people to teach. Other wards in the area are doing great though! They are rocking it, and it's awesome! I have a few baptismal interviews to do in the coming weeks (one of which is tonight). We have a sister training in one of the wards, and Elder Meredith and his companion are a great duo and they've seen great success together this past week!

Besides that, getting college things figured out has been a majority of my day. I finished most of the BYU and USU applications. Now it's just getting transcripts, ACT scores, etc. Also an ecclesiastical endorsement from the mission president. It wouldn't let me apply for the Spring 2015 semester, and I couldn't figure out whether or not I have to wait to apply or what. USU let me apply for the Spring 2015 semester. Does SLCC have a similar application process? I imagine it's probably easier than the bigger universities. Either way, hopefully I can get this all out of the way quickly. I'd probably be able to deal with like financial aide and housing after I get accepted and get home, right?

What kind of a class is "discrete structures"..? Well, for the average person Ben’s classes sound a bit.. dry? Technical writing and trig will probably be the least exciting. I assume discrete structures is like a computer-based class (unless they offer really off-the-wall architectural classes and Ben decided to try it out for kicks and giggles).

Well, it's exciting to think that school is starting soon. Silas' last year of high school, that's what's crazy to me! I am excited to go camping again, I was thinking about that since the letter last week. I miss being outdoors, and not feeling the pressure of "How long will it take us to get back? When's our dinner appointment?" when I am out hiking, etc.

I'm sure things will work themselves out. Kayleigh will do great at whichever tennis event she does (singles or doubles) and Silas will figure out how to string his boots. I am excited to hear how everything goes!

Well, I love you guys. Hope all is well.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, August 11, 2014

I’m a grandpa now!

Hello!

Well, it's transfers this week and almost every companionship in the mission is getting changed up. We (Elder Viecco and I) are the only companionship in our zone not splitting- and it's supposedly going to be a large transfer meeting. We're going to go to the transfer meetings anyways, for a few reasons. A lot of my missionary buddies leave this transfer so I want to say goodbye, and also my greenie (Elder Olsen) is training this transfer! In mission terms, "I'm a grandpa now!" So that's super awesome, training is such a sweet experience! That's so funny that Bro. Pehrson is training Matt Baxter! He wrote me a week or two ago and told me he got the job there. What a small world, right?

I think they might shut down the second companionship in Maplewood. Both Sister McMahon and Sister Olsen (the sisters in our ward) are being transferred out. Either they'll white-wash the area (just replace them) or they will close the area down. I think they will just replace them, I really hope they don't take the sister missionaries out.. I think it would be much better to have them versus elders. Everyone being taught by both of us are women, and the ward has loved having sister missionaries much more than us.

One of my favorite elders, Elder Ah Kuoi, is getting transferred out after being here a mere seven weeks. I was ticked, but it's better that he got out of his area. He's had a hard area and deserves to be somewhere else. He's an amazing elder and has the most beautiful testimony I have ever heard! We went on an exchange this past week and during a lesson we had he was bearing his testimony and it was solid!

Funny though, on our exchange day (Wednesday), we went out of our apartment and found that somebody had left a light on in our car and completely killed the battery..! We tried the clich├ęd "pray and the car miraculously works again". Well, after praying and turning it over like eight times it didn't work. We have a parking stall, and with the other cars there we couldn't even get a car up to the front to jump it. Luckily though, it worked out really quickly. The lady next to us just decided to go out at that point to like get groceries or something and we had a member with cables just long enough come and jump our car. It didn't work out in a big, flashy way but our prayer was answered within 10 minutes. Made me reflect on how usually God doesn't work in our lives through the signs and wonders we so often seek, but it's almost always in very subtle and quiet ways. Usually he also works through us as well, and I thought those were some spiritual lessons learned this week.

Yep. We helped Bro. Baertlein do some maintenance on the house(s) he's managing. One happened to be an investigator'a house, and we helped replace door-knobs and locks on her exterior doors. Funny though, I remembered exactly how to do it from when Dad and I replaced the front door-knob to the house! I felt very useful, that was kind of cool.

Well, I am glad that Ben and Silas are out camping and being outdoors. I am excited to go adventuring with them in the mountains when I get home, and apparently to get schooled playing tennis with Kayleigh! Well Dad, I'd encourage you to stick with it. When I started my mission I felt like I was spiritually out-of-shape (because quite frankly I was totally unprepared). But patience and diligence with the spiritual workout my mission was, has totally refined and strengthened my spiritual side. It applies with the physical too, so just beast it as hard as you can and move from "grace to grace" until you get where you want to be!

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

-Elder Samuel Burge

P.S. - I will keep you posted with the college applications, thanks for sending me the details on it!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Email received 8/4/2014

 Woops!! We forgot to post this last week.

Hey,

Happy birthday Kayleigh!! I was sitting there eating lunch on like Wednesday when it struck me that it was Kayleigh's birthday on Monday and I was like, "oh, crap!" That's awesome that she's driving! I am an awful driver, it is definitely not one of my strengths. I have slowly been losing the ability to drive, and it's been frustrating. I can't back up anymore or park along curbs. It's been irritating.

Well that's good to hear everything is going well with school, and church. Listening to promptings is good, it helps your lessons not suck, etc. It's good that dad is getting out and exercising! Even if it's not Olympian-level athletics, it's still good! I think Tennis will be exciting too, I played Tennis last p-day while our zone went to the park. By zone, I mean only us, the ZL's, and one set of sisters showed. We threw a pie in my face! Somebody gave us a pie, but we didn't like it so somebody suggested we throw it in somebody's face. I figured why not, I was going to go back and shower anyways. I'll get the pictures together and send them soon!

That's cool that you were able to go to Alpine for a wedding! If it makes you feel better, I would appreciate your political jokes Dad! It must be neat to see friends from college. I always think about what it would be like to see you and mom back when you were in college!

Yeah, with the whole school: would it be better for me to apply on my own or would it be better to have you do turn the applications in? I would like to apply to BYU and USU. My mission president gave me the okay to do college applications online, so it's possible for me to get it done here. Not sure which would be easiest though.

Well, our week was... not that great. In fact, this has probably been the worst transfer of my entire mission. It's just been full of a lot of struggles and challenges, and it's left me just exhausted in every respect. This week we met with like one or two people, got dropped by half of our investigators, and all these very hopeful lessons we had planned all fell through. The sisters in the ward have been going through similar struggles, one of the people they were teaching who was going to baptized in like a week dropped them and now they have like nobody to teach either.

The ward is AMAZING though, everybody is so strong and awesome! They're all great and have a great desire to share the gospel, but agency and other factors have just slowed things down. So it's (hopefully) going to pick up soon— or else I will be knocking many, many doors. Whatever you have to do though, right?

Glad that Bishop asked about me. Yeah, I thought that the youth were the ones with issues but my mission has completely changed my perspective. I think as you get older, it only gets harder. I figured once I finished a mission, that all of the sudden life, from a spiritual perspective, would be smooth sailing but we just keep experiencing trials until finally we're through. I am hopeful I spend the rest of my life in the church as a ward librarian, or possibly working in the primary so I can just eat snacks, color, and just worry about the basics (having faith, making good choices, the simple stuff).

I don't any of the missionaries live here still, those were just their last areas before the went home. Like Elder Lasley is in Arizona still, last I heard. I am going to have a lot of friends from the mission, I have met a lot of great people from this experience.

Well, I love you and hope you all have a good week.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, July 28, 2014

Learned a valuable lesson on listening to promptings/impressions!

Hello,

No, all the info. you sent will be useful— I will definitely be doing the spring semester, wherever that might be. I hate to admit it, but I think I'm going to try and get into BYU.. It's just been the option that has looked the best. It's got a lot of the qualities I'm looking for (minus the beards, etc.) It's crazy, I never thought I would consider it but it's got a lot going for it..!

I've got a couple of friends in the mission that have been trying to persuade me to go with me to BYU for awhile now. Most of them are just looking for roommates they'd actually enjoy living with. That can always be a gamble, I'm sure. So I'll be sure to keep you posted on things you can do to help!

This week was actually really great — started off a bit rocky though. We taught a lesson on Monday to some referrals we received, and had decided during our studies to teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Well, we got there, sitting in the car, and literally had a "stupor of thought" about what we were supposed to teach and had the idea to teach the Restoration instead, Well, we promptly ignored the feeling and the lesson was terrible! Just awful, and I realized afterwards that we should've listened! We learned a valuable lesson on listening to promptings/impressions! Luckily though, they still are going to meet with us and accepted the challenge to read the Book of Mormon..!

Well, Tuesday comes around I decided to be ambitious in the kitchen with this box of Bisquick I found. So I breaded and (attempted to) shallow-fry chicken! Well in an attempt to record this momentous occasion I accidentally broke my camera and then I cooked it WAY too fast and set the smoke alarm off. Twice. I was just frustrated at that point because in the span of an hour I had completely ruined my day..! The chicken was actually really good though, and on Thursday I attempted it again with excellent success! The breading was a mix of Bisquick, salt, pepper, and lemon-pepper! It was actually pretty good so I was proud of myself for that! Haha!

By Friday, we ended having a pretty good week, lots of people (less-actives especially) let us in and had some good lessons! Hopefully help some of them get back to church! I also went on an exchange on Friday with good old Elder Meredith from the 'Bury! We had a pretty good exchange, stayed up until 1:00 reminiscing about home! That day we were in his area, so we spent like two hours roaming downtown Portland trying just to street contact! Needless to say, it's highly unsuccessful! But we walked Portland State University and that is a SWEET campus! It's awesome being right in the heart of the city! We also walked past Pioneer Square (the Max station meets up in downtown there) and came across a protest mob about violence in some Middle-eastern country! We thought it was going to get a little dicey pretty quick, but it ended up being more passive. They marched with signs and chanted down the streets! Crazy!

But yeah, other then that we ended up having a good week and hopefully this week will be even better! Love you, have a great week!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

P.S. - I fixed my camera.. It just doesn't have an automatic lens cover anymore..!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Proselyting in Downtown Portland!!

Hello,

It's been a very interesting week for us, full of some really great things! We've been continuing to work, visiting a lot of potentials (most of which moved out; I heard the phrase "they moved like a year ago" probably seven or eight times). It was awesome though because even though we haven't seen much success with that, we miraculously got three media referrals the same day. It's super uncommon to get one a week, yet alone three in a single day. So we set out to visit them and amazingly enough they all set up times this week so we can teach them! Unfortunately they all scheduled the lessons today... But, we all gotta' make sacrifices right? Sometimes we get rewarded for our labors in ways we do not expect!

During the middle of the week we had exchanges with our zone leaders, and I finally got to fulfill my aspiration of proselyting in downtown Portland! (Even if it was only for a day..!) They serve in the Market Street Branch, so we spent half of the day walking the streets of Portland! It was awesome, we went to the library to use their wifi and that is a beautiful building! We sat on third floor by the stairwell and just sitting there we had all sorts of missionary opportunities! This crazy guy came up and talked with us for awhile, told us about his band and about how great of parties he throws. Then he wanted to show us how good of a crazy person he could impersonate so he had me pretend to be an employee at a store while he pretended to turn in an application... I had a crazy man pretend to impersonate a crazy man while I role played his crazy situation with him in the middle of the Portland library. #keepitweird

We invited him to church, and then this other guy (normal) came up and started to talk with us. He'd been meeting with missionaries in Vancouver, but stopped because he didn't feel ready to make the commitment of being baptized. Well, we ended up scheduling a lesson with him at the institute building later this week and they're going to start teaching him! It was awesome, and all we had to do was sit there while they came to us!

We got to visit some potentials in this high-rise apartment as well, and that was really sweet! It makes me want to get transferred there, it was so cool! But, odds are it probably won't happen though. That's okay though, there's a lot of perks to serving in Maplewood! It's got a nice mix of the two sides: city and suburb.

This district has been a lot more challenging though. Lots of different situations that are a bit stressful dealing with, others which are just sad to have to see people go through. I think there's been a lot of lessons learned: most of which is just gratitude for the good things I have in my life. I'm healthy, I'm grateful to be here on my mission, and I've got a desire to be faithful and obedient. I love the district, they are all great elders and sisters. I will tell you though, being a leader is stressful and tough. Well, for me it's been feeling that way lately.

Well, I have been thinking a lot about school (still). I don't really want to come home, I've decided. It's really crazy to think I've only got FIVE months left! Five! That's like no time at all, only three transfers left and then I'll be walking through the SLC airport..! It's a combination of things that makes me weary of coming home.. It's like, I'm feeling like I have being a missionary down and I finally get it, only to realize that it's over! Ben and pops, did you feel like that when your mission starting coming to a close? The zone leader I exchanged with, we talked about it like all night on our exchange.

For school, I am still clueless as to what seems best.. I definitely want to apply to USU and BYU, and I have definitely considered doing SLCC. It's kind of weird, I think BYU has definitely been more drawing to me lately.. (This mission is doing all sorts of crazy things to me!) I mean, with SLCC I am saving quite a bit of money.. But I really want to be on a campus, living like a college student..! I don't know about how to go about applying either. Would it be better to have you apply for me, or get permission from my mission president to do it myself online? I have a very general idea of tuition costs from the stuff Dad sent me, but what would my other expenses look like if I went to a school like BYU or USU?

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

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, July 14, 2014

Back in the Driver’s Seat…

Hey family,

Yes, we finally got the driver's license and it has been so nice! We were hoping to get into a car on Wednesday, but it didn't end up being until Thursday. We got a call from the vehicle coordinator and he said that he'd be by our apartment in 30 minutes to deliver my license and a car for us to drive. We got super lucky, we're now sporting a 2013 Ford Fusion— it's really nice and even has the built-in Bluetooth so I can answer the phone while I'm driving, ask it to turn on certain songs, the works! It's been so nice to have wheels again..! Not having to walk everywhere has saved us a lot of time and energy, and it's opened up a lot more possibilities for us (visiting different people, that kind of stuff). Not to mention we don't have to ask everybody for a ride anymore— I hate that a lot.

No, they've had two sets of missionaries in the area for awhile. I think it's been like 9 months since we (the elders) got here. There's just a lot of outdated information we've been sorting through. We are tearing through names in our books, either they've moved or aren't interested. It's been a very slow week, but not having to walk has helped us sift through a lot of it to find people open and interested. (Sifting the wheat from the tares, that sort of thing.)

So our investigator she goes by Lyra, but the Venaglia's (Ed and Lyra) recently joined the church like less than six months ago. They are awesome, we always enjoy eating with them and occasionally we help them with yard work, etc. Bro. Baertlein, we call him the B-Line though. He's great- we found a new person to teach through his invite, and she might possibly invite her daughter to join us for the lessons so there is some sweet potential there! We had a lesson after our zone meeting on Wednesday with them and it went really well! She was really open and super nice, plus she is very upfront and honest with what she thinks and feels so getting to the root of her concerns and questions is really easy. Other then that we have one family we are (somewhat) regularly meeting with. So that's pretty much our teaching pool right now, hence we are praying for more people to teach.

We've some interesting experiences this week though. Like in the middle of the week we had dinner with a member of the church who is gay. It's crazy, you hear about all this chatter on that subject but it was really interesting to hear it from his perspective. Especially since he's married to a practicing Jewish guy. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was definitely a Portland experience, but I really enjoyed it. The food and the conversation (their sesame chicken was delicious).

They both come to sacrament pretty frequently- I was amazed at how okay with everything they both were. The guy who was a member has been a member for a long time, served a mission, was even married with kids for quite a few years. We talked about his experience with it all, and it was crazy. Even though it's challenging in a lot of ways, he still holds to what he believes and I thought that was super cool. His partner was funny though, he knows more about the church than like 3/4 of the members and loves the church for what it does in people's lives. It's good to know that even being amidst the thick of it, these two can look past it and make it work somehow.

Sounds like some crazy things have been happening back home! I've been hearing all sorts of interesting stories lately. Facebook always brings me surprises- and Elder Meredith keeps me updated on people outta' my circle!

Well, I hope everybody has a good week. Love ya,

Elder Samuel A. Burge