I am sitting here writing you
without a voice, haha.My life in so
unfortunate (actually, my life is super fortunate; I just like being dramatic).
I got a cold that quickly turned into a
crazy cough, in true Alivia fashion, and now I don't have a voice! So, that makes missionary work nice and
difficult! :) haha!
My mom might have already written
something on the blog, but just so you know the address that has been on my
blog for the past 3 months of my mission has been incorrect. (So, I haven't been getting mail.Isn't that so sad?I’m telling you – UNFORTUNATE). So, if you
have written me in the last 3 months and you were wondering why I never
responded, it is because my kind, upstairs neighbor threw all my letters in the
garbage. Isn’t that the darnedest thing?
Haha!Hi, my name is Alivia and this
WOULD happen to me. It makes me laugh
every time I think about it. However,
the address has been corrected, so if you sent me a letter in the last 3 months
and I didn't respond, I encourage you to write me again. :)
This week was awesome. We had one
day in particular that was just miracle upon miracle upon miracle. I want to specifically talk about Alex. I have
talked a little bit about him in past emails. He is a kid we knocked into one
night and have been teaching for a few weeks now. He is the weirdest person I
have ever met. He is SO unique and just 100% himself. This week he told us that
when he cuts his hair, he spreads the cut hair around his yard for birds to use
to build nests. That gives you an idea of the kind of person Alex is. He is so quirky and I LOVEEEE it. Don't you just love people who aren't afraid
to be 1000% themselves? I hope to be as
confident as Alex one day.
Anyway, he has been prepared in
the strangest way to receive the gospel. We taught him the Plan of Salvation.He ATE IT UP and has been sharing it with all
his friends and family. But, the lesson
I wanted to tell ya’ll about is when we taught him the Restoration. It was the coolest experience of my life. We
started teaching and his eyes just lit up. It was so powerful and every single
time we asked him a question, he would respond with a question that was 100%
answered by the next section of the lesson we taught. Like, the 1st lesson has several sections: God is Our Loving Heavenly Father, God Blesses
Families, Prophets, Dispensations, Christ's Ministry, etc., etc. Every time we
would ask a question about one section, his question was completely answered by
the next section that was in the lesson. I don't know if that makes sense, but
let me give you an example. We get through the First Vision and it is really
quiet; the Spirit is there so strong; we are just sitting in silence soaking in
the Spirit and then we ask him how he is feeling.He says . . . wait for it . . . "I just
wish . . . there was like a book or something." ARE YOU JOKING? DID THAT JUST HAPPEN!? And
then we got to teach him about The Book of Mormon and it was AWESOME!
I love you all!
WOAH! I just remembered like the
biggest part of this week and needed to write you about it. Ahhh!
This week I had one of those, "You
will never forget this moment ever, ever never in your life", moments. My first transfer Hna Parry and I met Ezekial.
We talked to him in his yard one day and haven't seen him since. Last week, on Thursday, we were driving past
his house and decided to knock. We didn't know anything about Ezekial except he
had faith and his wife had cancer.
We knock on the door and his wife
is sitting in the dining room, a ways away from where her sister opened the
door for us, in a wheel chair. She tells us to come in. We went in and sat and
talked with her and her sister. She has
been battling cancer for 7 years, she told us. We told them about the Book of
Mormon and the comfort it can bring and invited them to read it until we could
come by again next week. Before we left Juana started to cry and told us she
wanted us to meet with her daughter because her daughter was having a really
hard time with her (Juana’s) cancer and was the same age as us. She gave us her phone number and then we left.
We called Cristina a few times but kept missing her whenever we tried to meet.
Then Thursday came and we went back to Juana's house for our lesson. When Cristina answered the door we were
pleasantly surprised to finally meet her. We then said we were looking for Juana to
which she replied, "Oh, that's actually why I haven't been calling you
back. I've been really busy with funeral arrangements.My mom died on Tuesday."
We were taken for a loop. We had
absolutely no idea. We asked if we could come in and talk to her. We asked her
about her faith and noticed the Book of Mormon we had given Juana was sitting
on their dining room table. We were like, "Can we read a verse out of –
well actually the Book sitting on your table right there?" She then goes, "Oh, did you give this to
her?" We told her that yes we had, to
which she said:"She brought it with her to the hospital.Right before she died, she handed it to me
and said, 'This is your Book now.'" I could not hold in my tears as I thought of
this lady who in 5 days had read the Book of Mormon and knew of it's worth
enough to give it to her daughter, on her death bed, as her final token.
I testify, as a representative of
Jesus Christ, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that this is the
Kingdom of God on earth. God be thanked for this knowledge that we have.
I received this short email from Hermana Burnham this week. My mother's heart feels so much better! (For those who do not know, Hermana Burnham had not received any mail to her physical address since arriving in Texas on April 24, 2013. Unfortunately for her, her mother transposed the apartment number. I spent several days last week trying to track down some of the mail.)
"YES, I GOT MAIL. I got like 5 letters one day – two from
you, one from Dad, two from Lindsey. And
then I got a letter from you the next day as well. Thank you! Mother, you know
that I am your daughter, so you should be well aware that of course I talked to
the lady upstairs the DAY I found out my mail was going to her. She has been
throwing it away. But, please don't feel bad about the mail. It happens, and I am not upset about it; I am
just glad that it was resolved. And
seriously, the thought that you have been writing me this whole time brings so
much comfort to my heart – that was all I needed."
This week Hna Parry and I found out we were trio training. It was very unexpected because we were both SO
SURE Hna Parry was going to leave. But, alas, Hna Parry is still here and we
have a new child. Her name is Hna Koch.
She is from Cali, about 30 minutes away from where Hna Parry lives. She is like a little ray of sunshine. She is so bubbly and cute. She adds a whole new dynamic to our
companionship. We both love her a lot
and are so excited about this upcoming transfer. I must say, though, it is weird having three
people. Sometimes things such as walking on sidewalks and knocking doors are a
little awkward because all three of you do not fit together. Also, things such
as running away from dogs – You guys know how I am. I have been a mother since I was like 6 years
old, and so I always become the sacrificial lamb and fight off the dogs while
the other two run or cower. Es la vida.
This week was a good one. We had some awesome, powerful
lessons with Erika, Marta, and a new investigator named Alex. Alex is this
super weird kid. He is one of a kind. WE
LOVE HIM. He has the most outrageous ideas and uses such advanced, unique
vocabulary.He is SO fun to teach. His Dad died about a week ago. Did I write
home last week about finding this family? I don't remember. Anyway, he is an awesome kid and has
definitely been prepared by the Lord to hear about His restored gospel.
Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto
Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus
Christ and His Atonement, repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of
the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end, right? We want all people that we teach to enter
the waters of baptism. We know how much this will change their lives. One
of the things I have had to remember though, one thing that Maria and Florencio
taught me, was that even if they exercise their agency contrary to the things
you have taught them, it doesn't mean you have failed as a missionary.In 1 Corinthians 1:17 Paul says: "For
Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." OF COURSE we want to bring people to the
waters of baptism; it is in our purpose! But, so is bringing them unto Christ. Sometimes missionaries look so much at the
baptism part, they forget the bringing them unto Christ part. We don't want
baptism; WE WANT CONVERSION.
I love you all. You are in my prayers. Moroni 8:3 (HA!When I initially wrote that scripture, I
wrote Mormon 8:3.If you want a good
laugh, go read that and imagine if that was the scripture I used to end this
This week flew by, as they all do. I’m sorry you didn't get
my email last week, mom. I got the "failed email” email today. Sorry! At
least it got to someone. I also got the package this week. :) Thank you! I love
the dress and skirt. Are they things I would normally pick out for myself? No. But will I GLADLY wear them as articles of
clothing that give variety to the monotony of outfits I wear every day? Yes.
I decided this week that I want two church callings the rest
of my life: Seminary teacher and Primary pianist....ehhh, maybe chorister; I’ll
take either. Here is why: So I want to work for CES right? That is my dream,
but I can’t do that because I want to have children and their rules...blah,
yeah. So, I will settle for just
teaching seminary. Same thing....except
I don't get paid. But I’m fine with that. I just love the scriptures and the youth, and I
want the youth to love the scriptures. I also want to be the Primary pianist
because in H5, the Ward I am serving in in Gulfbank, I play piano for Primary
every Sunday.It is the happiest hour of
every week. I just love it. Hearing children worship through song? I would love that.
Gulfbank is doing well. Blooming and blooming, poco por poco. We found
a couple of awesome people this week, whom we are really excited about. I’m sorry I don't spend my time always writing
about them, but it is because there are so many good things to say that I:1) can
never narrow it down; and, 2) feel bad talking about one person and not another
because I love them all so much.I want to talk about all of them, but there
just isn't time!
I guess I will end this letter with expressing my love for
Hna Parry. She is getting transferred this week (well we are 99.99% sure) and I
am just, ugh . . . so sad. I just love her. I am excited for the new change
that having a new companion will bring; but, man, I am really going to miss her. She is my
twin, kynziekyns. Que triste.
Expect an exciting email next week about my nueva compenera!
I love you all <3
Hna Burningham (At least the people here get kind of
PS: Editor's Note: The title has nothing to do with the post, I know. Alivia did not want to write about the "funeral card" experience (she told us privately), but maybe at some point she will share that experience.
Although I did not receive an email this week, I did receive an envelope with her camera disk containing 294 pictures! I will share some of them here. Today's post is a glimpse of Gulfbank, the area in which she serves.
So Hna Parry and I got poison ivy this week, haha. We had
had a pretty crazy day and we were at a loss of things to do when we saw a
family doing yard work. We thought "YES. Finally! A service
opportunity!" We got out of our car
and asked if we could help. They said
yes and then the husband was like ,"No no! Muy pica!" We thought like it had thorns or something,
but shoot, someone had finally accept our help we were not going to pass up
that service opportunity. So we were
like "No! No big deal!" So, we just start helping carry these piles
of bushes to a giant fire. As we were finishing, we learned that one of the
girls actually spoke English (thank you ma’am for not letting us know BEFORE)
and was like, "Come in and wash
your arms off so your rashes don’t get too bad." We are like, "Wait, what?" She says,
"Yeah, all of that was poison ivy…"
you kind strangers. However, a tender mercy from the Lord, neither of us had
rashes. I had one on my arm, but it was gone by morning. We were PLENTY itchy,
but no rashes. So that happened this week.
I think that is about all. Transfers are coming up and we think Hna Parry
is leaving, but I am praying she doesn’t. I love her too much – ahhh what will I do
This week has been full of fruit. A lot of fruit. We have
these two less actives men in our ward who just really love us a lot and we
love them a lot. The first one's name is Pedro. He is the cutest man. He has
that perfect Mexican mustache and looks like he should be on the front of every
salsa bottle or something. Plus, he rides his little bike around everywhere,
ughh, we just love him. We teach him about once a week, but we got a call from
him this week to meet him at Fiesta (this awesome Mexican grocery store in our
area. I don’t know how to live life after the mission without Fiesta). We get
there and he proceeds to take us through the produce section of the store and
basically buy us a fruit stand worth of fruit. Remember that there are only two
of us . . . he bought us: 1 watermelon, 1 cantaloupe, 2 grapefruits, 4 navel
oranges, 6 apples, 6 mangoes, 9 kiwis, grapes, strawberries and to top it off a
pineapple. WOAH -- that is a lot of fruit. We were both so touched by this kind
gesture neither of us really knew what to do or say. He was so willing and
asked us if we needed milk or bread or anything. Mind you, he lives in a little
run down apt and does NOT have the funds to be doing such things. But, he will
be blessed for his service to us, of that I am sure.
OH, the fruit didn’t stop there. Then we went to dinner with
F and M (and no one cried!). It was the cutest (AND HEALTHIEST, YESSS) dinner
of my life. We had fish that was stuffed with this salsa stuff and wrapped in
spinachy stuff with white rice and salad – mmmm—with watermelon for dessert. F
cooked the whole thing and he cleaned up!And they ate with us! Let me just tell you, I don’t think I’ve told you
that in this culture families don’t eat with the missionaries. Different,
right? They give you your food and then leave you alone to eat it. So having
someone eat with us was awesome! Also, in this culture men DEFINITELY do not
cook or do dishes. F did BOTH <3.Why
are they the cutest people in the world!? Goodness. But anyway, we left their
house with more oranges and fruit.
Did you think I was done? Nope. Then we went out to dinner
with F, the other menos activo we work a lot with. He is the best. He studied
medicine for 7 years in El Salvador . . . and played professional
basketball.Just saying.He has blue eyes. (Have ya’ll seen an El
Salvadorian with blue eyes? It is one of the most beautiful things in the
world.)I think I have talked about F before.He is just great; we love that man. But, we
left dinner with him with 25 mangoes. Yes, you did read that right—25 mangoes.
So, this week has been the one with the fruit because, well,
we got a LOT of fruit.
Other than that. ANGIE GOT BAPTIZED THIS WEEK! Ahhh. It was
such a happy day. We have this one CD and one of the songs has a line that says
"The greatest sound I’ve ever loved to hear is the sound of water running
in the Church."Man, how true that
is! She was so happy. SO MANY PEOPLE came to the baptism – maybe because Hna
Parry and I spoke in church that day and told the ward to step it up. They did!(Yeah, I gave a talk in Spanish. YEAH – it was the most terrifying
moment of my life.) So many people were
there; it was awesome! I am sending pictures :)
I love you all!
Alma 37: 46 – “ ...do not let us be slothful because of the
easiness of the way…"
P.S. – I wish I could adequately articulate my love for the
scriptures over an email. But hey, this week I told a guy I would die for the
Book of Mormon, so I think that got the point across! And scared him. Ehh,
whatever. The Church is true.
P.P.S. – Remember how I did "Things You Only Hear in the
MTC"?Well, let me create a
"Things You Only Hear in Gulfbank" – “Ewww, that is someone's