Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The One that Ended it All

July 28, 2014 
Hermana Burnham with her District at the Houston Texas Temple
(Their last time together prior to her return)

Elder Loulanting

Elder Loulanting

WELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL folks, this is the end. Of my life. I mean my mission. This is the last email you will be receiving from Hermana Alivia Burnham—full-time missionary in the Texas Houston Mission. 

I have thought of writing a really reflective email about what I’ve learned on my mission and how it has influenced me, but I decided that is what talking to people face-to-face is for! :) Come to my homecoming talk.  

See you Wednesday. BYE 

Sorry, this was the least exciting final email ever written....I feel so many feelings that they have all canceled each other out and now I just feel like a zombie. And zombies can’t write good final emails.

I love you.  

See you in 2.................days.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The One with the Whole Milk

 July 21, 2014


Hermana Burnham
"If it is going to pour down rain, then you might as well enjoy it!"

I probably gained 5 pounds this week in milk fat. A family in our ward moved and gave us a gallon of WHOLE milk. Hna Jensen is lactose intolerant, so it was just my milk. I don’t think I had ever had whole milk in my life. Now I have.  

I have been trying to find things to be happy about when it comes to leaving my mission (leaving is hard), and I have seen so many tender mercies this week! For example, this might seem so silly, but it meant a lot to me.  We were walking to try and visit a potencial investigator and as we walked up a little, yellow, spikey ice cream cone, dog chew toy was sitting on the ground in front of the house. It was the same one Max has! Like the only toy that Max has! (Or...had...when I was there). I was like, "How random and what a small thing! But, Heavenly Father is aware of me!" I miss ya Max!  

In addition to little things like that, I have also witnessed big tender mercies from the Lord. 

Yesterday we went to one of our investigators whom we have only met with a few times. We had taught her the Restoration twice (once to her and then once to her and her son) and a little bit of the Plan de Salvation. But, she always seemed very passive, but so nice, about our message. We went over last night and taught about our purpose here on earth and at the end of our lesson she wanted to make sure we gave her son (whose name is L, btw . . . poor kid) a reading assignment, haha. So, we gave him some "homework".  I then grabbed her Book of Mormon and said, "Okay, we need to give you something, too!" I began to flip through her book to assign her a chapter to read. She said, "Oh . . . where that tarjeta is, is where I am at right now." In COMPLETE shock I said, "This tarjeta?"  She said "Yes".  I said, in disbelief, "THIS tarjeta?" "YES!" she replied. "You read this chapter?" I said.   "No, . .  . since the beginning." "WHAT?",  I replied  "What?", she replied.   "Let me make sure I understand.  You have read from the beginning of the book to HERE? This much?" "Yeeeeeeesssss, Hermana!"  

I could not believe it. My shock was 100% real. She has read to the end of 3 Nefi—in two weeks. I have NEVER had an investigator read that much of the Book of Mormon in my whole mission. I got a little emotional and was like, "Hermana, I have never had anyone read this much before; thank you so much."  She said, "When do you go home?" I told her and she said, "I will be done with the Book by that day, I promise." One of my desires coming out on a mission was to have someone read the entire Book of Mormon. I have strived so diligently to exhort people to read the Book.  Many of them have, but they read a chapter here and a chapter there. Heavenly Father knew that was a desire of my heart; and so, a week before I returned home, He sent me L.  

The Lord is so good to me.  

I love you all.

Hna B

Monday, July 14, 2014

The One with the Restoration

July 14, 2014 

It has seemed to me that we have taught the Restoration more times this week than ever before –which is my favorite thing to do ever, so it was great!  

I wanted to share one story from a certain miracle lesson this week, about J and A: 

J was a referral we received several weeks ago, from MTC headquarters, saying he wanted a BoM. We had tried him several times, but had been unsuccessful. We decided to try him again and his wife let us in, but informed us he was asleep. We began to talk with her and she said: "You know, it is very strange. I was just thinking about you when you knocked on the door; I mean RIGHT as you knocked on the door.  I thought 'the muchachas haven’t come back . . . I wonder if they will ever come again', and then you knocked on the door." Right about then her husband came downstairs, having been woken up because he heard us talking. (THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES IN THIS WORLD MY FRIENDS.)   

We asked if they knew much about the Church and J said, "Mucho."  Usually when people say "mucho" it is because they heard some rumors or anti-Mormon info on the internet. But, he told us he had talked with missionaries briefly before and had been to the Temple Square tour and spent much time in Utah and even wanted to move there at one time. We asked how it was we received the referral for him and he told us that a boy had come by to sell alarm systems (classic Mormon boy job).  After he had done his alarm thing, it was brought up that he was from Utah.  As he was on his way out the door J said, "You must be Mormon then!" The boy replied: "Yes, and what do you know about them?"  He went and sat back down at the kitchen table and talked with J for several more hours.  

J loved him--said they became great friends in those few hours they talked about religion. The boy told him he wanted to serve a mission, and that he couldn’t answer all his questions, but he knew some people who could and asked if the missionaries could come by (I don’t even know who this boy is, but I LOVE him).  He also asked if the next day he could bring him a Book of Mormon. J agreed to all of the above.  When the boy came by the next day J said he held the book out, but when J grabbed onto it, the boy wouldn’t let go.  J said the boy looked him in the eyes and said: "You don’t understand how much this means to us. I will only give it to you if you promise me you will read it." J was so impressed by his dedication, and J told us how much he admired him. (Is that not the best member missionary you have ever heard of? I am so proud of that boy!) The boy asked if he wanted missionaries who spoke Spanish or English.  J replied that it did not matter (even though he speaks much more Spanish than he does English).  J then looked at us, chuckled, and said: "Looks like he sent ones who speak both." :) 

We asked if we could teach them about where the Book of Mormon came from and they obliged. They listened intently as we explained the Restoration of the gospel. Tears formed in A's eyes at a couple of times. At the end of the lesson I said:  "Hermanos, we have a living prophet on the earth. We aren’t perfect. We are young. We are inexperienced. We can’t really speak Spanish. We are weak.  But, we have been called by a prophet of God to declare what we DO know; and, we know that our message is true (what missionary can name the page in PMG that that is found on?).   I have been a missionary for a year and a half and have dedicated my life to teaching this. I am returning home is two weeks, my mission here in Texas has come to an end, and in these last few weeks I feel more than ever to declare to EVERYONE that this is the truth! That it will change their lives (by this point I was very emotional, as were they)! Will you please read this book?"  

They both looked at me and affirmed that they would. J said: "I believe in the book.  I have seen so many young people like you, and I have always wanted to talk to them. If you dedicate yourself to this, how can it not be true?  If you are leaving in 2 weeks, does that mean we will never see you again?" I assured them I would be returning before those two weeks were up.  

We are going over tonight to teach them. The Church is true.  

I love you all, 

Hna B 



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The One with President Mortensen

July 7, 2014 

Hermana Burnham with President & Sister Pingree
They were released at the end of June, 2014.

"I wore this scarf in 10,000 degree weather
just to be patriotic!"
Hermana Burnham and Jensen
Last week we said goodbye and this week we said hello! We met the Mortensens this week and they are fabulous!  [Editor's note:  President Mortensen is the new Mission President in the Texas Houston Mission.] I mean, fabulous. He is very different than President Pingree, but wow, I can already see the amazing things that he is going to do for the Texas Houston Mission (remember how I live in Texas . . . that's weird.)   It is him, his wife and 5 of their 6 children. They are from the Huntington Beach, CA area.  They are ALL beautiful.  Their oldest daughter just left on a mission. their youngest child is 6, I believe.  They had each of the kids come up and introduce themselves.  It was so cute; I could’ve died. The 9 and 6 year old boys (their names are Anders and Dane and they wore matching top button anchor shirts, with light blue khaki shorts, and Sperry’s).  Seriously—the cutest thing of my life. They are an awesome family! I am excited for interviews this week!  

Remember how I told you that a few months ago someone asked if I was from Brazil (b/c of the way I speak, not look), and then the same thing, but from Russia, a few weeks ago?  Well,  THIS week a woman in our ward was like: "Hna, where did you learn Spanish?"  I replied that I have learned here in Texas on the mission and she was like: "Oh...you talk like you are from Spain." AT LEAST IT WAS A SPANISH SPEAKING COUNTRY THIS TIME! The greatest day of my life will be when someone tells me I speak Spanish like a Mexican.  Vive Mexico!  The three most common comments I get: "Your Spanish is different..." Thanks, so I have been told.  I can’t control how much I roll my r's.  If I could, I would!  "You look really tired."  Yes, I know; that's because I AM really tired.  "Have we met before, you look really familiar?"  Yes, in the pre-existance.  I would love to teach you more about that... 

We had a good week. Being a missionary is so exciting! We had the chance to talk with a suicidal man over the phone.  He found a pass-along card we had given him weeks ago (we literally talked to him for like 30 seconds and invited him to play volleyball with us) and decided to call us in his moment of need. It was a touching conversation I was able to have with him over the phone. It is a good reminder to know that it is those little acts of daily kindness that really make the biggest difference.  

Do something nice for someone today. 

Oh, and call the families you visit and home teach, just to say hello.  

That's all. 

Love you!

See you in three,
Hna B

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The One with the Pingree Farwell

June 30, 2014 

.....The Pingrees leave tomorrow.  

I LOVE President and Sister Pingree. I love them with all the love that I have in my heart, and I am going to miss them so, SO much.  I know that the Mortensens will be absolutely wonderful and I am excited to meet them; But MAN, I am going to miss President Pingree.  

We had an amazing opportunity to attend a Temple Session with the Pingrees and Temple President Crane (and his wife.) It was a remarkable experience. After the session, we had a Q&A/teaching session in the Temple from President Crane and President Pingree. I will let you all use your imaginations about how amazing that was. Then we all lined up and hugged President and Sister Pingree goodbye. I was sobbing like a little child! I couldn't control myself. I just hugged President and just said thank you like 14 times as I stained his shirt with all of my tears! Man! I hope you all get to meet them someday.  

Other than that our week was great and hot! We couldn't use our car on Sunday (we had gone over miles), so we walked. It was HOT. I loved it. It makes you feel like a missionary! 

I have had 3 main names throughout my mission from people in my ward (and also many nicknames), but the three main names I have had are: Hermana Misionera, Hermana Pianista and Hermana B (that is the one everyone calls me; no one can say my last name). Wellllllll, this week I was playing the piano in Sacrament meeting, como siempre. I always stay on the stand until after the sacrament and go and sit down when they tell the YM to sit with their families. This week we finished the sacrament and Hno Montano always says thanks to the YM for reverently passing the sacrament and he always thanks "Hermana Misionera for playing the piano", right? Well, this week I walk down the stairs and I hear "No, no, no, Hermana Misionera, venga" (come). So I turned back around, walked back up the stairs and stood by him. He then announced to the ward that I was leaving shortly and asked me to say a few words. It was my first dying testimony (sorry, mission lingo; a farewell testimony) that I have been asked to give. It is also, surprisingly, the first time I have been asked to speak on the spot without any warning (on my mission). I appreciated the chance to bear my testimony to this wonderful ward that has had such an impact on me. I’m going to miss them very much.

Lots of missing going on here in the life of Hna Burnham, sounds like. I think I have used that word like 20 times in this email. Haha!  I love you all a whole bunch!

Hna B

P.S.:   I’m sorry my emails have gotten progressively less about people we teach. I’ve noticed how much my emails have changed from the beginning of my mission. We are still teaching people about the gospel. I swear, haha.

P.S.S.:   Sister Tryon, can I just say one more time how much I love your letters. Seriously. I love em! And you!

The One Where I Was From Russia

June 23, 2014 

This week a man told me I speak Spanish like a Russian. Yupp. Well, he also told me I speak English like a Russian. (He doesn't speak English, but heard me speaking to his kids.) I HIGHLY doubt he knows a Russian who has learned Spanish by the which to compare me to—but apparently, I speak Spanish with a Russian accent. Go figure. I have also been told I speak Spanish like a Brazilian. I guess we can just conclude that I don't speak Spanish like a Hispanic. BUT, we can also conclude I don't speak Spanish like a Gringo. :)  

This week was just full of miracles. Full of them. The one I want to share is that of D. We tracted into her several weeks ago, but had been unable to really get in to teach her since that initial meeting. This week we passed by and decided to try, once again, and she was home and let us in. I noticed she was limping and asked if she was okay. She began to tell us her story. 

She was in a terrible car accident in February, in the which her brother and the other driver of the crash were both killed. She miraculously survived, after breaking all the major bones in her body, but has been charged with two counts of intoxicated manslaughter. She is only about 25 years old and has two young children. She misses her brother very much, but worries more for her mother, whom she said has been an example of strength through this hard time. We taught the Plan of Salvation and invited her to pray with us. It was a beautiful and sincere prayer in the which she pleaded for help from her Heavenly Father. At the end of the prayer she said: "You know, a lot of people come and knock of my door, but when I saw you guys I just knew that I had to let you in.  I feel like all this happened because God is trying to tell me something, and I feel like you are the ones who are here to tell me." We love her. And, we are so excited to teach her more.  

Being a missionary is just the happiest of all works! 

I love you all immensely.

Hna B 

[Editor’s Note:  I did not correct Hna B’s “the which” because I suspect it is a Spanish to English translation quirk that she is unique to her experience.]