Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Parties


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 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