Monday, April 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom!

To my ungrateful family who doesn't appreciate my sentiment (we gave him a hard time for thinking we’re sweet),

Happy birthday Mom! I'm glad I'm not they only person that doesn't enjoy everybody making a big deal about your birthday- I'm glad all we ever did for my birthday was go to the movies, get some dinner. That's an awesome way to celebrate instead of dealing with parties, etc. I love you so much, and I'm grateful every day that I have a mom that was as awesome and amazing as you were.

Oh, the brotherly love- can't say I miss that so much! I'm very excited to call for mother's day- it's crazy how quickly that is coming up. It's even stranger to think that after that phone call, the next time you'll talk to me will be in the Salt Lake City airport! I have a lot of my missionary buddies coming up on their departure dates, and it's incredibly weird to think that I only have like 8-9 months left on my mission. One side of me is very excited (not going to lie), but there's another part of me that isn't excited to leave some of this behind.

That is absolutely crazy- a stabbing at the elementary school. I can't believe it escalated to that, especially over some kids fighting in the middle of the night. Do you know how the family is doing? That's got to be the most harrowing thing to hear about your kids, is that they've killed somebody. The name sounds familiar, but I didn't know the guy that got killed at all. It's so saddening to hear and see people live their lives like that- I'm grateful I had the gospel in my life, even though I didn't always appreciate it like I should have. You see situations like that a lot on your mission, people just choose to make such poor decisions with their lives.

I'd have to agree with dad 100%, missionary work is not about overbearingly sharing the Restoration to every person you meet. Even missionaries get too overzealous, running across the street and interrupting people in the middle of a phone call to try and talk to them about Jesus.. Talking to everybody and opening your mouth is important, I don't discredit that, but use common sense and don't freak people out. We actually had dinner last night with a convert, and he told us about the reason he joined the church and began to investigate. He had a friend in high school, and he loved the family of this friend because of the love they showed for him. They never once tried to force him into reading or anything like that but always invited him to join them for family prayers, home evening, mutual, etc. if he was every around and eventually he felt something missing in his life and saw people that had it.

He said that if they would have tried to make him a "project" that he wouldn't have joined or even tried to really investigate. It's crazy how just living the gospel and not being ashamed is one of the best ways a person can share the gospel. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works", it's simple.

This week was incredibly good for us, we taught like 9-10 lessons and were just miraculously given a lot of the opportunities that we had! We taught a couple of younger guys about our age, this one guy who is super hilarious we met while he was waxing his car, and the lessons we had were super good and the spirit was strong in every single one. Some of the people we're meeting with are making awesome progress- trying to get them to church and lead them to wanting to be baptized.

I don't expect to see numbers that high very frequently, it was a lot of crazy circumstances this week that left us so blessed. I do expect to see some better weeks though, with more lessons than we'd been teaching before. It's been good, to say the least.

Yeah- I've been thinking a lot about school since I should probably start applying to colleges and getting a game-plan together for when I get back. I've been all over the place with thoughts and ideas about where to go, what to study/major in, etc. I think USU has become less likely- I don't think I'm going there really at all anymore. I don't know if it would be very convenient, but I'd love it if you could send me like some course catalogs to U of U, SLCC, and maybe like UVU and BYU as well. I'm going to be honest, the idea of film-making definitely has been on my mind a lot and I'm glad that dad sent me the information that he has! I won't go to USC or UCLA- I'd like to not live in a refrigerator box under an overpass somewhere in Los Angeles if at all possible.

The Sundance film festivals are definitely something I've thought about. It would be awesome to get some connections and get involved with films and other projects there- definitely one of the ways I think I'd end up getting my way into the film business. I actually talked for awhile with a member in a previous ward who was film grad from the University of Utah and was working as an editor from some news-station in Park City. He ended up getting a second job at a Nike outlet store and his career took him into that instead of film. He said he was tired of not being able to pay the bills very easily- so that was a bit discouraging, but he said that it's not impossible to make it doing film-making. He didn't make it sound super easy though.

Well, anyways I'm going to keep thinking about it. Feel free to send me more information you find, and I'd love to talk with that documentary film-maker that one of Dad's friends knows. It'd be cool to actually talk with somebody who is making it in film. I've thought about a lot of other things though, but not many have stuck out to me like film has..!

Well, I love you all. Have a good week.

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rayna-Maria got baptized!

Happy (late) Easter!~

It's exciting to see everybody on the college campus- it's weird to see how different everybody looks! I mean, everybody just looks older!

It's a little surreal sometimes.

It looks and sounds like everybody had a good Easter weekend. Weber State looks like it has a pretty interesting campus (I still won't go there though, sorry).

Earthquakes, isn't Utah supposed to be due for an incredibly massive earthquake? Like twenty years over-due? I remember some people saying things along those lines in high school but I never knew how much validity their comments had. We've had some small-scale quakes here the past little while (nothing above a 2.0 though). The Read's asked us if we moved anything around while they were out once, a lot of her pictures and plates were coming off the edge of her cabinet shelves, etc.

This week for us was... Slow, to say the very least. We had quite a few lessons planned and we managed to get members to almost every single one, but everyday we got cancelled on... It was pretty lame in that regard, but I did enjoy the week. I went on an exchange with one of my zone leaders, Elder Peterson. After I got transferred out of Wilsonville he was my replacement (he was trained by Elder Thomas), so we have lots to talk about with. He's just awesome- I love all the elders I'm serving around right now. Elder Peterson biking with me…

Elder Snow and I are doing really good. It's good to have a companion that you can get along with, I've always been pretty blessed in the respect. A companionship is what you make of it, I've learned that and so far it's served me well! An interesting door mat we came across tracting.

Snowbear and myself making phone calls, 8:30 at night in an alleyway! "I'm so hood!~" (Tell Silas I said that, he'll get it.)

Delicious tacos from the local food-trucks…

The sisters were in our half of the ward, so to keep them out of our turf we left them a little message...

Also, we went to the super Asian "Manila Market" on preparation day.

The highlight of my week though was I got to go back for a baptism on Saturday with Elder Schmidt to the Springville ward! Luckily I'm like ten minutes away so we were able to go see this girl we taught, Rayna-Maria get baptized! It was such a good baptism: a newly-ordained priest we visited baptized her and it was so cool to see him involved with the baptism and he did such a good job! It was a long-awaited baptism, we all knew it was going to happen but it just needed to be on her own time. It was a bit of throwback going back for the baptism.

A big thing we started with Rayna-Maria when we were teaching her was the "WOOT! WOOT!". We'd pump our hands in the air and say it whenever something was cool, they kept a commitment, or understood something really well.. It stuck, to say the least (all credit goes to Schmiddy [elder schmidt]) 

I was pretty irritated though about something. Elder Olsen, who was very close to the family, didn't even get wind that the baptism was happening. I was thinking about him the morning of the baptism and I decided to reach out and see if he could make it, but he couldn't. He was super depressed about it, and I kicked myself for not thinking to double-check and make sure he knew it was happening.

The spring season is here in Oregon and it's beautiful!

That was pretty much about my week though. So I have about college- when do I need to have applications finished for the spring semester of next year? I imagine it's probably coming up, but if you could get me some ideas for the deadlines (specifically for USU, U of U, and BYU). Also, is there any way I could possibly get like grants/scholarships this late in the game? Also, could you look into USC and UCLA for me..? It's kind of just daydreaming, but I have thought about those schools and I'm a bit curious.

Well, I love you all and hope that this week goes well for you!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

P.S., So we had two funny stories that I almost forgot to mention- glad I took stupid pictures to remember them!

So while walking down the road we saw a friendly guy doing some gardening in his yard. I said "Good morning!" and to which he replied "Are you drunk, it's four in the afternoon?" He said it jokingly and it started a conversation with this guy. His Indian name was Haruman, but his traditional name was Robert. He had studied as a monk in India for like 40 years, and was a VERY interesting character.

He started off the conversation by telling us, "No need to worry about things, you have so many lifetimes after this!"

From there it was just a flaming spiral into the epitome of the phrase "Portlandian".

He started to share his tomes of spiritual wisdom from his years studying under a wise guru. He talked about finding peace, and how the envy, lust, and negative things were like clouds blocking the warmth of the "sun". He then shared with us something very interesting. He told us to "go into the bathroom" whenever we were feeling not at peace. He told us that even the camels knew how to find true, inner peace and that he'd also found it.

SO he puts us both side-by-side and tells us that he is going to demonstrate how to find true inner peace and what it looks like. He takes a second, and breathes deeply for a second, and then opens his eyes and looks between us with just THE STUPIDEST, SPACED-OUT LOOK on his face! We still are joking about it and so we took some pictures to demonstrate us finding true inner peace (hence the picture of me "meditating" on my desk).

Story #2

This past Saturday we're walking down the road and we had a fun encounter with a drunk man. He was acting exactly like "drunk uncle" from the Daily Report on Saturday Night Live. He's ranting and raving to himself as he's walking down the street when suddenly he sees us and shouts out, "It's the Mormons!". He, in disgust, crosses the street out into traffic to get to the other side of the road all the while saying "I'd rather drown myself than join the Mormon religion! It's rough but it's true!" Then he tells us that "you're all so miserable and you only doing it to yourselves, so f*** yourselves and f*** the Mormons..!"

Then he mumbled to himself and kept on walking. It was pretty interesting.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Member Missionary Work Is Important!

Hello everybody,

My week has been, from the sounds of it, pretty similar to yours. It's good to have Elder Snow- he's an awesome companion and it's been sweet to have him in the area. We've had a bit of slower week, nothing really worked out, people were sick, etc. So that was kind of crummy, but we managed to find a few good potentials and set-up like three or four lessons! So it was good in that respect. Our ward however had a baptism this week, which was sweet!

The district is doing well- everybody in the district gets along well and the new companionships are doing awesome together! It's good because then I don't have as much crap to have to deal with! My district is good though, I love 'em!

I'm so glad that everybody actually watches General Conference! That's super funny- when I saw that picture I laughed pretty hard. It was something awesome to find when I got onto Facebook. We met a guy at a bus-stop at like 8:30 and I got him to add me on Facebook and we talked with him through the chat this week! It was pretty neat, we don't do too much with Facebook so it was exciting to actually do something on the computer!

Yeah member missionary work is so important... It's the struggle with every missionary is that ever-daunting question of "how can I get the ward involved with missionary work?". It's tough, but it's possible. We're hoping to get things moving forward here in Aloha, we have this invite Sunday where we're challenging the members to make Easter baskets to hand them out to their non-member friends/neighbors with Finding Faith in Christ DVD's, copies of the Book of Mormon, etc. It's in two weeks (week after Easter), so we'll see how it goes!

Well, not much else to talk about this week. I love you, have an awesome week!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New Companion – Elder Snow!!


Well, for us General Conference was pretty alright. I loved the various talks, but we ended up not being able to get anybody to watch it with us at the church.. That was too bad, but it happens. Apparently I spoke as well, so that was nerve-wracking! The quorum and I went for some grub at Apollo Burger afterwards, good times..! haha

Kayleigh’s attempt at conference humor. 

Well, Elder Freshour has been transferred- At least one person from every companionship got transferred yesterday, with the exception of one set of sister missionaries! It's quite a change-up, but I'm excited to meet the new missionaries. Elder Snow is my new companion, he was in my old district down in Lake Oswego so I already know him really well! He's a good guy, so I think it'll be a pretty good transfer! Elder Freshour went pretty far out, he's off near Damascus/Sandy (south-east of Portland). Lots of change-ups, got a new assistant to the pres. My favorite zone leader Elder Bennett is now going to get absolutely no sleep and deal with everybody's problems. Can't say I'm too jealous..!!

Our week was honestly quite slow.. We had quite a few lessons actually planned and one by one they fell through. Just another week in the life, not a big deal. We got some people (two less-actives) making stellar progress though! It's awesome, but we seriously need to find more people to teach... I'm tired of knocking doors! Elder Snow has brought some cool experiences in the like.... twelve hours? We had some lady stop and ask us for a copy of the Book of Mormon at a street corner, another lady with Mormon relatives stopped and talked with us after that for like ten minutes. Then later on at like 8:45 we come across is homeless guy from Texas walking this homemade cart (attachable to bike and car) needing help moving his homeless encampment behind this strip of businesses of T.V. Highway! He'd hit some hard times, so we helped him move his cart and some other things. His dog is vicious and terrifying, I thought it was going to rip somebody's leg apart if he got loose. Well, he told us his story and we talked for a bit about getting on a better path. Gave him a Book of Mormon and challenged him to seek out the missionaries when he got back to Texas (he was heading that direction to get back home). It was sweet! Definitely one for the journal, I hope he seeks them out (or at least reads and prays).

The weather is warming up here, and now that General Conference is over the jackets are off! (The elders are stoked about it, but for some weird reason the sisters don't even seem phased!)

We had a little breakfast get-together at the church building the morning of transfers and hung out, signed journals, took some pictures, etc. I really am going to miss some of the missionaries that are leaving, but I'm excited for new people! Some of the sisters make jokes about my unrighteousness dominion now, so I think I'm truly leaving my mark here!~

Well, sorry I haven't sent pictures in a few weeks.. I can't get to a computer nearly as easily these days, and the church building closest to us with computers is remodeling the family history center so that's been a problem. Got lots of pictures to send though, eventually!

Well, I love you and have an awesome week!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Sent from carrier-pigeons trained to do the district secretarial work from my iPad