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