Monday, June 30, 2014

Elder Viecco's tires make a loud "PSSSSHHH!!" noise


Sorry to hear about Silas' rough week. Sounds like things will get better for him soon though (which is good). Plus with Ben and Dad hitting the track— that's awesome! Exercise is good! I don't know how it is in other missions, but in Portland there's an infamous idea that gets into elder's heads six months before they head home. The idea is you have six months to get in-shape so when you get off the plane you'll be good looking enough to get rights Ito the dating scene. "Six months to sexy!"

Needless to say, I'm coming up with a good routine in the AM to get there! Haha, it's rarely (if ever) actually accomplished and usually consists of elders drinking chia seeds and whey protein, but I figure I better try to step it up before I get home! We'll see how it goes!

With all the biking we'll be doing for the next while, I might not even need to worry about it though.. This past week was really rough in many respects. It's mostly centered on our car wreck though, and me getting my license back ASAP. I have the forms from the DMV (finally) and I've been trying to get them filled out, but we've had a ton of issues with it. The big problem is I have to get them notarized, but I can't them notarized unless I have some sort of photo ID. Well, I can't do that because I don't have the license! It's really, really frustrating... I've spent most of the day making phone calls trying to find a member nearby who can just stamp the stupid papers for me, but I've had no success with it..

Ideally, I will get the documents notarized in the next few days and at which point I'll ship everything back home. I need two documents to prove my Utah residency (letters addressed to me, recent bank statements, etc.) and the signed/notarized forms taken to the DMV in Taylorsville so they can issue a replacement license. A temporary would be mailed out to me immediately, which I just found out today. That was such a relief, since it will get us back on the road all the sooner (which we desperately need).

Since we realized very early on it would take some time before I'd have a car again we decided to get our bikes and start using those. It would take like three hours to walk from one side of our area to the other so it was more necessity.. We've tried walking, but it takes such a long time to get anywhere. Not to mention it's incredibly hilly in this area.

Well, we got the bikes from the mission office on Wednesday/Thursday (can't remember). The tires were really flat when we got them, so we went to a nearby member's house and got me filled up and ready to go. We hit the road for like 30 minutes, and as we're looking for an address one of Elder Viecco's tires makes a loud "PSSSSHHH!!" noise. His tire got a hole in it. He was pretty frustrated at this point. It being like 8:20, we decide to just walk the bikes back to the apartment and call it a night. Then at 10:40 after we get done praying, we here another "PSSSHHH!!". The other tire (as we found out earlier today) ripped open because of some issue with his tire so now both were flat. We just looked at each other and he looked absolutely discouraged. So we just rolled into our beds and went to sleep.

Talk about a rough week! Not only that but we had half our lessons fall through, and one of our investigators is going through some rough situations and, after having a bit of a breakdown, took off and nobody's seen him in days. It's been just one thing after another this whole week and we're praying hard that our investigator is doing alright and that we can see more success this week.

It's been very trying and taxing. I was good for like the whole week, not letting it get to me or weigh me down but since yesterday it's just been hard. There's all sorts of other little things, from a seriously outdated area book, other issues with the district, and just all sorts of crud that has made this past week very, VERY taxing. I'm just ready to get this car business over with, get my license, and get the work going in this area.

The area though, I really love! It's really spacious so there's a lot of places to contact, knock doors, etc. It's got a lot of beautiful scenery too! Not to mention the ward and members are great! They've been so helpful and kind through this whole week— which I am super grateful for. We've met all sorts of great people feeding us, giving us a lift around, and helping with our bike issues. Plus, Elder Viecco is pretty good as a companion so that's made it easier to go through the week the way we have.

Elder Viecco is from Miami, and he likes to dance, color guard, etc. He's pretty funny (half Peruvian, half Columbian). He actually wants to do internal medicine (he says he wants to be one of the doctors from Scrubs, the T.V. show), but he really loves to dance! He took quite a few dance classes (like clogging, which was hilarious) at BYU-I .(And yes, we've talked about it— no, I don't want to go there for school.) He's an interesting character, fairly quiet actually, but we get along pretty well.

President Morby has officially gone home, and the reign of President Ballard has officially begun. We have a mission-wide gathering on Wednesday in Lake Oswego where he's going to introduce himself (and his family) to all the missionaries for 2-3 hours. Just address us, I'm not quite sure what it will encompass. The week following they're doing one-on-one interviews to meet us individually. So far (from his email to us) I like him already. It was a really enlightening email, so I feel we're in good hands.

School wise- I think I'm just going to do SLCC when I get back. I figure it's going to save me a lot of money, and it seems like an easier way to get transitioned back into everything. So would I need to get my generals done completely before I transferred or could I transfer after like a semester or two? Either way that's probably the route I would want to go. I might want to apply for BYU and the University of Utah though. When's the deadline again?

Well, that's a lot of writing. I looked back and I wrote quite a bit. Hopefully it will be a better week for us. Our bikes got fixed thanks to this awesome guy in our ward, Bro. Foutz (his family is awesome), and I will hopefully get this license issue resolved soon.

"Thy afflictions shall be for they gain." It's definitely been really, really hard this week but I'm grateful for the small, simple blessings we've seen. We're healthy, we've seen a ton of support from everybody in this area, and (besides this some-what demoralizing email) I've been in much better spirits than I thought I would be. I think praying has been a big help in that.

Love you,

Elder Samuel A. Burge

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The crash test dummies of Maplewood!!!

Greetings from Maplewood!~

Well, this past week was my last in the Aloha area. I got the call that I was to be transferred! Transfer meeting was interesting seeing as it was President Morby's last— there were many returned missionaries that showed up to the meeting, and of course many tears were shed as we saw President and Sister Morby in their final debut with all the missionaries. I am sad to see me both go, but I'm not too shaken up about the change. We've all grown to love them, and I will forever be thankful for them, but change is a part of life. I guess I just don't like goodbyes either, it's not like I'll never see them again so I don't feel that upset or sad. I felt like I should have been more sad at the transfer, but I wasn't crying or anything like that. (Who knows, maybe I'm just insensitive.)

I am glad I had the chance to serve in Aloha, I had a lot of good experiences there definitely. We, as a district/zone, met up at the church in the AM and made crepes/took pictures before we all took of our separate ways. I was blessed with a great district! I loved all the elders and sisters, and I definitely learned a lot from being a district leader. I will miss living with the Read's a lot too, it was great staying with them— great people and I will definitely come back to visit with them.

So the past day has been absolutely hectic and crazy! So I was transferred to the Maplewood ward over in South Portland, bordering the boundary between Beaverton and Portland. I love the new area, it's awesome! I'm the new district leader here, and downtown Portland is actually in my district and I am stoked about that! Our ZL's cover the actual branch downtown (Market Street) and also a newly opened Pacific Branch for islanders— there's a big LDS Tongan/Samoan population here in Portland. Another cool surprise is Elder Austin Meredith in the district! I didn't know him very well, but he's from the 'Bury! We have talked about everybody we know from school, all sorts of things about good old Tooele!

My area is a lot more inner-city and I am so excited about, not to mention all the members here that I've met so far are awesome! We ate with some Iranian converts last night, talked about converting from the Muslim faith and they were really friendly, great people! Then after that we taught a guy and ended up setting baptismal date with him at the end of the lesson! It was sweet, the area is pretty similar to my others as far as teaching goes, but I see so much promise here! I'm hopeful and faithful we can see some miracles here and get some good ol' missionary work done!

Speaking of miracles: we had a very crazy, surreal ending to our night last night. So since I don't have my license yet, I can't drive our car. My new companion, Elder Viecco, was driving us back to the apartment after our sweet lesson and didn't see a stop sign blocked by a large tree. Right as we were about to go through the intersection I saw the stop sign, but it was little too late and we flew right into traffic. He tried to hit the brakes, but unfortunately we got hit broadside on the driver's side by a car doing like 40 MPH. Now I we are 100% OKAY AND HEALTHY– nothing more than some soreness from the seatbelt and the airbag! The guy driving the other car was okay as well, and the damage to his car wasn't that bad at all, but ours... Pretty messed up.. So the driver's door is completely smashed in, not openable and everything, not to mention side (not the front) airbags being deployed. The car wouldn't start and it's going to need some serious body work! 

You think that will buff out?

Probably not
Back to the bicycles

Elder Viecco, my new companion

It was hectic, we ended up filling out a TON of paperwork, getting the into the tow-truck, talking with President and Sister Morby, and also the vehicle coordinator. We didn't get back to the apartment until like 11:00ish. Luckily our zone leaders were able to come and help us out, give us a ride back, the whole deal. Phew, it was crazy though! I mean, the impact was totally insane and it was so surreal! It was a miracle we came out of the whole thing unscathed, we truly were taken care of by a loving Heavenly Father. President said the lady at the body shop was completely blown away we didn't get sent straight to the ER for serious injury. The poor guy driving the car was so relieved to hear our voices on the inside of the car (he couldn't see inside because of the airbags).

Sorry to scare you with that, I know you're probably freaking out as you read this. We are 100% okay! A little shocked, and now back to a bike area, but other then that we are doing alright. Great start the next seven weeks!

Well, I love you all and am grateful that the people involved are alright, that I'm okay, and that things back home are alright. It reminds me of the Lord's promise to his servants in D&C 30.
We'll be hitting the streets come 6:00 tonight!


Elder Samuel A. Burge

Somebody ate all the whipped creme

District farewell

Good times in Aloha

Berry stained hands

Berry picking fingers

Berry hungry

Berry guilty

Underground MAX station

Beary tired

Bearly interested

He’s no Goldilocks

Feeding the Elders eagle style

Is it a federal offense to put Rogaine on a bald eagle?

I gave out 5 Book of Mormons!!

Sister Morby – the reluctant photobomber

Ushers of the PDX Dance Festival

Mood lighting

View from the cheap seats

PDX Dance Festival

Monday, June 16, 2014

PDX Dance Festival

Hey family!

It's been a busy week for us- we've had a zone conference, and we also had the youth's PDX dance festival this week! We spent two days helping out with that, and we actually participated in it with a short musical number from all the missionaries in the Portland mission.

It was a great festival, I'd never really known much about dance festivals so it was kind of a new experience for me. They had us come over to this enormous high school in Hillsboro where they were hosting the festival to help out with ushering, bouncing, and then with participating in the actual festival.

Since our zone is so close to Hillsboro, we got stuck with doing a majority of the ushering and bouncing. It was honestly pretty terrible, taking tons of ticket stubs at the door and we had to redirect people from the east entrance (where they couldn't enter) to the west entrance where they were accepting admissions/tickets. I was shocked about how upset and rude people were, it was like I was out knocking doors! We accidentally made some little girls cry as well, so that part wasn't too great.. The actual event was pretty sweet though! We came in and sang a rendition "We Will Bring The World His Truth (Army of Helaman)" after they showed a video of one of the youth talking about missionary work.

Some of the performances were great, like this Indian dance and this Irish specialty dance- both of those were some of my favorites. The coolest dance was one done by these four priest-age youth at the end of the festival. They let out fog onto the floor, and these guys danced in black morph-suits with these LED lights (red and blue) on! They did some seriously cool stuff, the lights were insane! It was all done to more techno/dub-step music, and they almost looked like they were straight out of Tron. It was super cool, you should see if you could find it on YouTube (PDX Dance Festival).

We also got to see all sorts of members from our old areas- it was great to see people again. We saw quite a few of the members from our old areas, and I really enjoyed that! It was just a neat experience to see and talk with people you interacted with and especially some of things people said about me, it made me definitely feel like I did some good while I've been out serving. I mean, I never necessarily doubted myself, but the reassurance that I got from members and missionaries I really enjoyed.

Plus, between some of the performances on Saturday (we spent the whole day up there at Liberty High School), to keep the missionaries from getting into too much trouble we got to watch a movie in the auditorium! We watched the Saratov Approach- and that is a great movie! Ahh, I miss movies so much, especially going to the theater, getting popcorn, a coca-cola, etc.. But trunk mess aside, the movie was actually really uplifting and made me want to get out and work (and pray, it talks about that a lot).

We went to the Oregon Zoo today, which is why this email is so late. It was pretty enjoyable, it's a lot smaller than the zoo in Utah. It rained for most of the day so some of the animals were inside and it was incredibly wet... But it was fun because we got to see some cool penguins, otters, and some big ol' polar bears. Polar bears are huge! Plus, we got to ride the MAX back home which was cool. I still like public transportation, still trying to figure out all the reasons why because it's kind of weird.

Well sorry to hear about your card being defrauded! What's funny is that since I've lost my wallet, both you and the Read's have had issues with fraud charges! I did get the card and the wallet that you sent me, and I appreciated the wallet a lot! I made a joke in zone conference about getting a chain so I wouldn't lose the stupid thing again and the next day that showed up in the mail! We think so much alike, but I appreciated the gangster chain!

I tried calling the DMV in Utah about getting my license and they were rude. The first lady hung up on me, and the second lady wasn't very friendly (but actually helped me out). Apparently I have to get some form sent out to me, then sign and notarize it, then send it back to you. Then you'll need to send two letters/documents that have proof of residency in Utah and mail/deliver it to their offices. Then I have to wait for them to mail the new duplicate license out.. She said it would be a 90-day process.. Just enough time to get on the plane! haha! So I probably won't be driving much the rest of my mission...

Well, sounds good that everybody is keeping busy and enjoying the summer. I've got a bit of tan going again (it's so weird that I can actually get darker here without burning). We're excited for these next few weeks, since transfers are next week and we're getting the new mission president the week after that! Lots of things are going to be changing, so it's going to be interesting to see how everything plays out. I'm sad to see President and Sister Morby go, but I'm grateful that I had such an awesome mission president and wife for 3/4 of my mission.

Well, I love you guys. Have a great week!

-Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, June 9, 2014

Our district handed out 106 BOMs & won the challenge!!!

It was a great week for us!

We only taught one lesson this week, but it was a great lesson! We have a family we found knocking some doors that is awesome! The husband is a less-active member and the wife isn't a member. Well, come to find out during our lesson that she wanted to be baptized at 16, but couldn't because of family reasons. She told us that she wants to work towards being baptized! It was awesome, we've been straight-up blessed with awesome people to teach (even though it's not very many).

So our zone accomplished something great this week- we (the DL's) had a meeting with the zone leaders to discuss our goals and districts for the month of June.. After having a great discussion, the zone leaders came up so the theme "What's Your Up?". Everything we do, we should doing it well and always going "up". So it starts with waking up, then we're studying up, knocking it up, keeping your chin up, looking up, etc. Additionally, we decided to do district versus district challenges! A lively challenge to push everybody to greater heights!

So this past week's challenge was from Wednesday to last night (Sunday). The challenge was to hand out as many copies of the Book of Mormon as we could! The east district versus the west district (my district)! The East District made a bold claim saying they could hand out 100 copies and so we decided to "One Up" them by handing out 101!

Near impossible, I honestly did not think we would make it but we saw MIRACLES this week! We handed out 106 COPIES OF THE BOOK OF THE MORMON!! the zone handed out over 200 total in a span of four days! It's absolutely INSANE! We were blown away, we had a couple of sisters in our district hand out 24 copies in a single day! It was the coolest thing ever, they all cranked it out this week and everybody was blessed with miracles!

Our coolest story this week was revolving around the challenge. We were walking down the street, when suddenly from the balcony on the fourth floor of this apartment two guys started yelling out, "hey Mormon missionaries!"

These two, slightly drunk guys were having a party. They started making some jokes, talking with us a bit. These two guys were straight-up gay and after getting closer we discovered one of them was wearing nothing but a scarf (luckily not around his neck!) they had all sorts of questions. After we exchanged some jokes about Beelzebub and the Bible, GQ's fashion magazine, and my apparently "out-of-style" red tie we told them we had a short visit to make. They wanted us to promise that we would come back so we did. Thus we decided we would and interrupt their party to give em' a copy of the Book of Mormon! We got back after our appointment didn't work out, and said a quick prayer in the elevator that things won't go horribly wrong and got out onto the fourth floor. We knocked on the door and a girl outside says, "Hey, you guys probably don't want to do that- there's a party going on inside." So we told her we talked with two of the people there on the balcony and she looks at us for a second and just tells us to go for it then, a bit surprised two missionaries were there.

So we knock, and the guy with the scarf (luckily now clothed) was very surprised we came back. We talked with this guy for a bit about how people have treated him since he's gay, especially some Mormons he knew. After our conversation, he said that we had helped him gain more respect for us again, and that he was definitely more open since we were kind, friendly, and bold enough to come back and talk with him. We eventually had like five guys from this party at the door, and talked with them a bit. They, being slightly drunk, didn't stay attentive for very long and we had all sorts of profane and pretty gnarly gay comments thrown around (obviously trying to unnerve us a bit). We gained their respect though, and even talked with one guy about his awesome experiences with youth at a youth conference in Washington when he was in high school! Eventually they all got sidetracked with their shenanigans, and somehow an AR-15 (luckily unloaded) was somehow acquired and they were all laughing. So we gave one of them a copy of the Book of Mormon and invited them to read it, then got in a picture with them all hanging out while we stood there holding up the Book of Mormon! Haha it's now on Twitter so see if you can find me hanging with some awesome gay broskies on Twitter!!~

It was a crazy weird, but good week! The Read's had Steven (their son about my age) there so we got to hang out with them all week. We love the Read's, such awesome people! She yells at me all the time because whenever she's around I so something stupid in her kitchen, make a huge mess, or something rebuke-worthy..!

I also had chicken and waffles for the first time at a diner today before writing this email! I will be sure to try and send y'all some pictures soon!

Well, I love you and am excited to hear about everything going on at home! Good luck with ROTC, Silas! Looking sharp in your military outfit! You need to learn how to shine shoes like they do in the army, you will never get a better shine for your shoes! Kayleigh, I hope you have fun with girl's camp!

Love you, talk to you next week!

Elder Samuel A. Burge

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's been a slow week- but we had some great successes!

It's been a slow week- but we had some great successes!

So the couple with the baptismal date had to postpone their date.. They're still awesome, and they want to be baptized- they just have had a rough couple of weeks with illness, surgeries, and one of heir grandfathers passed away. So we haven't been able to bring them to church quite yet, but I think early July is when it will happen! Patience is a virtue, I suppose!

We've been meeting with a less-active father and son for the past while, and they've been making amazing progress. We took them to the visitor's center up at the temple this past week and had a great lesson there about God's plan. Sam, the son, has been the one really getting active! He's such a great guy, and he's humble- he feels the Spirit because of it and he's been loving meeting with us, coming to church, etc. They're one of those families you get really close with, we love em'!
So other then that, it's been really slow. A lot of lessons falling through because people got sick, etc. We gotta' do some pretty awesome service though! I don't remember if I mentioned Willy, is guy we've been helping. He's fixing up a house he just bought. We got to try using an auger to drill holes for fence posts, and we shoveled a huge pile of leaves, pine needles, pine cones, sticks, and grass into the bed of a pick-up truck. So amidst that, I think it's where I lost my wallet... It must have fallen out of my pocket and gotten shoveled into the debris.. I've searched everywhere for it- I'm like 85% positive it was in the pile we shoveled in, and was taken to Vancouver to be burned. So on a positive note, I don't anyone will steal my identity, use my temple recommend, or take my money! I'll just be helping erode the O-zone layer and ruining the air. (Sorry Dad.)

Well it sounds nice to be on break for the summer— it's getting pretty hot here (well, it's "Oregon hot" which is like 85 degrees). Luckily we have a ton of fans for our attic room so the nights have been okay. The nights get so hot because nobody has air-conditioning in Oregon, and especially in the attic room it will get incredibly hot during July/August..!

Silas, my companion says that if you want to get a taste of military life then ROTC might not be a bad idea. We were talking about it while he taught me how to shine my shoes, military-grade! My wing-tips are super shiny, it's fantastic! So obviously it's a less-intensified version but it might give you a some-what better idea of what you would want to do.

I was thinking about having to get a job again when I'm home, and what kind of jobs I could look for. Still have no clue what I'm going to do when December comes around.. I had looked over like two of the colleges you sent me, but I've just been so busy between the work in our area, district leader activities (setting up district meetings, calling for stats, making bad jokes about unrighteous authority, etc.) hopefully Ben gets something more of a social life worked out, it's got to be hard between work, school, and trying to find a YSA to get involved with. Does he talk with many people from high school?

Well, I gotta' go. Love you guys, have an awesome week!

-Elder Samuel "Drowsy Bear of the Village", "The Admiral", "Napoleon Bonaparte", "Ruthless District Leader" Burge