Thursday, April 18, 2013

The (Last) One with the Apostle -- April 17, 2013

Hola Familia y Amigos!

This is the last email you will receive from me as a missionary in the MTC. Whoa.  Can anyone even believe that I have been gone for more than five weeks and now they apparently trust me to teach real people, in Texas, in Spanish!?  AHHHHHHHHHHHH! I CAN’T WAIT!  I am also SOOOOO EXCITED.  I have loved all my time at the MTC, but I am very much looking forward to the world outside the gates.  I will probably regret saying that once I'm out there. However, making my own food/eating real food sounds so spot-on right now.  Don't get me wrong, the MTC food is not that bad, but they cycle through the same meals every two weeks; so, now that I have been here for nearly 6 weeks I have eaten everything a couple thousand times.  But, at least I get to eat right?  I'm grateful for that!

I am officially one of the oldest people here at the MTC.  There really is a hierarchy. I hate to admit it, but it is true.  I have finally made it to the top.  It is fun to see the kids who have been here for their first week get all excited when the brand new kids come on Wednesday.  These one-weekers are so excited and feeling all old. The rest of us are over here like: "Yeah, that will pass; wait ‘til you have been here for 6 weeks."  By the time you reach week 4 you stop being inviting and start enjoying just scaring the kids.  My first day in the MTC, I was walking to my classroom and this entire district ran out, surrounded me, talked to me in Spanish – all at the same time—while they all tried to shake my hand/stood there and shook my hands for 3 minutes. I was in the middle of the circle like:  "What is going on right now!?"  NOW I realize that they got a kick out of it because we totally do that stuff, haha. We have gotten into the habit of talking to the new kids only using the first vision and lines from songs, but pretending like we are asking questions. "Directamente arriba de su cabeza? Si?"  They are so confused; it is great. Also, some of the Elders have gotten into the habit of walking up to kids and saying, in whispered tones, either "Get out while you can" or “Welcome to Azkaban" (Harry Potter anyone?).   Those are kind of mean, but it is pretty funny to watch the poor new, 100% overwhelmed kids just get this look – “I’m going to die here..." – in their eyes. It's great.

But, like most of my emails, I will now talk about what the MTC is REALLY about aka the spiritual side of things. This week we had the COOLEST opportunity to have Elder Richard G. Scott speak to us! (MOM, YOUR FAVORITE.)   He was phenomenal!!   It was so cool to have an apostle of the Lord speaking directly to us.  He talked about having confidence in ourselves as well as the power of prayer.  Some things he said that I really loved were:  "The greater your faith, the stronger your character" and “He will fit your ability to the task ahead of you."  One thing that I took away from his talk, as a new goal, is: Never have a bad day on my mission. Look at each thing that happens positively.  I believe so strongly that a person’s attitude completely determines the outcome of everything they do.  If I can have a positive attitude, then I will have a fabulous mission. The mission is the best. There really isn’t a happier place I could be, right now, than right where I am.

Natasha: The kid who tried to escape and run away already had really severe anxiety. He was going to New Zealand and was supposed to leave the next day and just had a mental break down. Apparently, he had been reading the Old Testament recently and that is why he tore his clothes off.  It was crazy. As far as I have heard, he is good now, thankfully. :)

Jace:  I am glad to hear the surgery went well. I pray for you every day. I know that with God all things are possible. I know that He loves you and cares about your family.  AND I love you!

Luke:  I think of you every time I hear someone say – “We conduct ourselves with quiet dignity here at the MTC" – and then laugh to myself.

Dad, Sis. Johnson, Michelle: Thank you for your letters about conversion. I appreciated them each so much. Every single one of them was totally different!  Isn’t it amazing how personally the Lord works? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I love you all! Muuuah!


Hermana Burnham

P.S:  For anyone preparing for a mission. Go through a day and count how many times you say "guys." You aren’t allowed to say that here and I did not realize how much "guys" was part of my vocabulary. "Hey guys." "You guys stop it!" "Guys! We are over here!"  Phase out that word while you can!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The One with the Tackle -- April 11, 2013

Querido Familia y Amigos,

Hi everyone!
Another week down. I can’t believe it. I only have ONE more full week in el CCM. WHAT?  Where does the time go?  In addition to that, I have been in the MTC for a month! That means I only have 17 months left.  How did that even happen?  17 months isn't enough time. But, that's what the phrase "make the most of your time" is for, right?  There was so much that happened this week I don’t quite know where to start.

I guess I will start with a funny story.  Luke, you’ll appreciate this one. You are, after all, the one who told me to have fun in the MTC. So, my district's girls and I all kind of made a game out of racing back to the residency every night. One night things got a little out of hand, haha. Before I even start this story, I want everyone to know that we have stopped racing, haha. So, H. Howard and I were in a heated foot race, with H. Draper and H. Woodward, back to the residency.  They were just barely in front of us.  I was several paces in front of H. Howard when we got into the residency hall. Now, our room is in this little alcove-y area. So, there is a fire door and then our little alcove where our real door is. H. Woodard was the first to reach the real door and H. Draper was blocking the fire door so that I couldn’t get through -- so that H. Woodward could get in first and they could win. Well, I’m pushing against H. Draper, but not trying that hard because we are in church clothes and I don’t want to hurt anyone, of course, but then I hear this war cry coming from H. Howard.  Before I know it, I am flying through the air.  FLASHBACK:  H. Howard saw me not getting passed H. Draper and thought “Okay, good idea, I will just run and push against H. Burnham and that way we can both push H. Draper out of the way".  BUT, right as she starts running at me, H. Draper steps to the side. So, I’m pushing forward already and H. Howard just PLOWSSS into me. I go flying through the air and land like 5 feet away from where the door was, with H. Howard on the ground just behind me. I don’t know if I adequately described how funny of a moment this was, but I could not move for an entire 5 minutes because I was laughing so hard. I then crawled into my room and laughed for another solid 10 minutes. It was so funny. I had some pretty gnarly bruises, too. It was great.

On a more Spiritual note:

This week was General Conference and General Conference was so good.  Like, so good.  My favorite talks were Elders Scott, Perry, and Bednar. So much good stuff, like, I don’t even know where to start. Can I just say that Elder Falabella’s talk was the sweetest talk I have ever heard? (Except maybe Elder Scott's a few conferences ago -- the way he talked about his wife! *tear* So sweet.  So sweet.  In Mosiah 15:11 it says:  “Behold, I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord--I say unto you, that all those who hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem His people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are His seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God."  General Conference is the coolest experience because we are receiving scripture.  Imagine sitting at King Benjamin's address and carving notes into a stone or something; how cool would that have been? GUESS WHAT?  WE GET TO DO THAT EVERY SIX MONTHS -- minus the whole stone carving thing. We get to hear the voice of God's prophets and listen (and then hearken) to their words. What a blessing.

Speaking of blessings, this week Hermana Howard and I were selected to be the missionaries in the "How to Begin Teaching" Demonstration. Every Wednesday they have these demonstrations for nuevo misionarios that come in. There are a couple different rooms and each has an investigator and they watch the missionaries contact and teach the investigator.  There are nine companionships chosen in the whole MTC and we got chosen! WHAT A BLESSING.  It was such a fabulous learning experience. We were a little thrown off and it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. The first investigator we were assigned was named Daniel. We were talking to the tech guy after and he said that Daniel has been an investigator here for years. He was an investigator back in the day when the tech guy was on a mission and he made his companion cry. Yes, we got assigned the hardest investigator in the entire MTC. I didn’t even think he was going to let us in the door and then at one point I was like 95% sure he was going to kick us out. It was terrifying. The whole thing was in English, too! (It was a little hard because we have never taught in English before!)  MAN, it was crazy. And hard. But man, did we learn. WE can’t do anything by ourselves, even in English. I’ve realized the hardest part about being a missionary isn’t leaving your family, or teaching, or not having a phone, or not being able to speak the language, but it is the investigators. My heart and soul is invested in these people.  It is heartbreaking when you know how much they are struggling but they don’t want to go through the actions to help fix it or can’t see how much we care for them. It is the hardest.

This week as a district we were talking about the difference between conversion and a testimony.  I was hoping that whomever is reading this blog, if you would feel comfortable doing so, would mail me, or DearElder me (dearelder is a miracle people) me, his/her conversion story. Whether you converted or were born into the Church, each of us has a conversion story. Let me know what made the difference for you. I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts. If you don’t want it shared with anyone, let me know and I will keep them to myself. But, I would really love to hear; AND if you are reading this and aren’t up the missionaries.

I love you all! La iglesia es verdadera. Que simple.

Amor mucho mucho mucho,

Hermana Burnham

P.S.:   One last thing. Each P-DAY we attend the temple. Last week we (my companion and I) walked past this sweet, old woman who looks and us and says: "You just keep trying! Everything will be okay!" At the time it was kind of silly because we were both doing great and happy as can be.  I have thought about that sweet, old woman and her inspired words almost every day since, though.  "You just keep trying! Everything will be okay."  Those words can move mountains. It isn’t just for missionaries; it is for each of us. “YOU just keep trying. Everything will be okay." Remember that.

Pictures -- 04/11/13


Hermana Burnham and Hermana Howard, her companion.  The Burnham siblings will get a good chuckle out of this.  It is a family tradition to take "statue" photos!

The Sisters, and roommates, in Hermana Burnham's District!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The One with the Mouth - 04/04/13

Hola Familia y Amigos!

I just found out I actually have an hour on the computer, instead of a half hour! It is a miracle! Seriously. So excited about that extra 30 minutes.  Maybe my emails will actually be coherent now, but probably not, haha. 

This week I thought I would relate some funny things I have said/have been said by people in our distric – funny Spanish moments: 

1.  This week we were teaching Pamela the first lesson. The first lesson is the first vision, Book of Mormon, modern day revelation, and the power of prayer. Well, I was trying to teach her about prophets. In doing so I tried to communicate that prophets are the mouthpiece of the Lord. Instead of saying that, however, I said:  "The Prophet is a mouth" (except in Spanish), to which she replied "El profeta es una BOCA!????"  No.  Just to clarify, the prophet is not a giant mouth. My apologies Pamela.

2.  Elder Mortensen told Carlos that Christ Atoned for our sins in the Garden of Eden, instead of the Garden of Gethsemane. False doctrine on every level; well-done Elder Mortensen.

3.  Hermana Howard thought the word "tired" was "comida." So for a solid 3 days she was telling everyone "I am food" instead of "I am tired." We got a kick out of that.

4.  My personal favorite that happened this week was with Jose. This week we worked on door approaches, so Jose was "in his house" and we were contacting at his door.  Like half way through our conversation he goes:  "Wait . . . do you guys even speak Spanish?" AWESOME. Thanks, Jose!

Mom/most people who have written me: you wanted to know a little bit more about the people in my district. I’ll tell you some more about everyone:

Elder Roundy:  Coolest kid I have ever met. He is so awkward and has the absolute biggest heart. He is from Orem and is 19 years old. What a character!

Elder Spinder:  Elder Spinder is also from Orem. Fun fact about Elder Spinder is that he doesn’t know ANYONE that isn’t LDS.  I’m not kidding; not a single soul. Crazy, right? We call him Elder Spiderman because in his first lesson with Carlos, Carlos goes "Ohhhh Elder Speeeender, like Speeeeder" – but say that all with a thick Spanish accent. Maybe it was funnier here. I am telling you, everything is funnier here. Also, Elder Spinder has all of the kids’ mannerisms put into one person. He does the eye-darty thing like Amelia. His complaining voice sounds just like Gus. His frowny face looks exactly like Emmeline. It’s weird.  He is my nieces and nephews.

Elder Mortensen:  Arguably the funniest person I have ever met in real life. He is absolutely hilarious and tells the most detailed incredible stories. "Apparently they thrive off citrus; they are very prone to scurvy!" Maybe I’ll explain that quote another time, hahahaha.

Elder White:  Elder White is our District Leader. He is so caring. He is from Preston, ID and played baseball for UT State. He is so dedicated and hard working.

Elder Peterson:  Elder Peterson holds a special place in my heart. His family comes from some tough situations. He has very little gospel knowledge and he teaches very simply. That simplicity makes his testimony a POWERHOUSE.  Every time he bears his testimony there isn’t a dry eye in the place.  He finished reading the Book of Mormon for the first time a few weeks ago and now every time he talks about the Book of Mormon he has a little "I read that!" smirk.  It’s great. He's a good kid.

Elder Cannon:  We have special moments called "Story Time with Elder Cannon" because he knows the most random things and LOVES to talk/tell you about them. HA. Oh, Elder Cannon. He is from the tri-cities! Fellow Washingtonian :)

Hermana Howard:  Hermana Howard is my comp and she is the bomb. She is very loud and outgoing. We have a lot of fun together.  Maybe too much fun, haha.

Hermana Draper:  We call Hermana Draper “Hermana Gato” because she is obsessed with cats. She is so great. She is probably one of the most diligent workers I have ever met.

Hermana Woodward:  Hermana Woodard is from Haiti. She was adopted from an orphanage down there when she was 10--so she speaks Creole! How cool is that?!  She is the HAPPIEST person I have EVER met. She literally smiles 100% of the day.

Hermana Steele: SO FUNNY. Such an individual. She is from Southern California and so she shortens all her words, haha. She’s great.

Hermana Beaty: We call her Hermana Bonita because one week an Elder was like "Your last name is literally Beauty." So, we have called her Hermana Bonita ever since. She got baptized when she was 16.  She is quiet and loves candy. She is like the tiniest person, but she eats more candy than anyone I’ve ever met haha. She's great, too.

All six of us girls are in a room together. It is a party. We made a pact – liked signed an actual document – that we would all invite each other to our weddings because, apparently, we are still in second grade.  :)

The weeks go by faster and faster.  I literally feel like last P-DAY was yesterday. I still love my time here.

I forgot my study journal with all my spiritual thoughts, so all of those that I wanted to write will either get written in letters or in next week’s journal. There were a lot of good things this week though, especially because of Easter.  Feliz Pascua!  We had Bishop Causse (of the presiding Bishopric) speak to us, as well as Sheri Dew. SHERI DEW!  MAN it was GREAT.  However, the absolute coolest part was that Bishop Causse came to OUR Sacrament meeting. OURS – our little zone of like 40 people.  It was Fast Sunday, so he got up and bore his testimony – IN SPANISH.   He is from France.  English is his second language, but he has been learning Spanish the past year.  It was such a tender mercy because his Spanish was so simple, so we could all understand him.  It was awesome.  Easter was fabulous.

Something Bishop Causse said that really stuck out to me is: "Make the veil so thin that there is no difference between your faith and your knowledge."

I love you guys!

Amor Siempre,
Hermana Alivia Burnham

P.S.:  I have gotten all your packages. Thank you! Dad, I have been playing basketball with the guys during gym time. I am the only girl who plays. We play bump/just shoot around. I don’t know what it is, but my three is magic. I can literally hit my three from anywhere, anytime. What? So great.