Monday, July 29, 2013

Houston 5th Ward

July 29, 2013
I grabbed this photo off of the Texas Houston mission blog this afternoon.  The caption read:  "Houston 5th Ward sisters with some members."  Just thought I would share.

The One Where I Lost My Voice

 July 29, 2013

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.

Love, Hermana Burnham

FYI -- July 29, 2013

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."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The One Where I Trio Train – July 22, 2013

Hna Burnham, Hna Koch, Hna Parry


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 email, haaaa!)

Hna Alivia Burnham


The One with the Funeral Card

July 15, 2013

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 close....?)

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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gulfbank --July 8, 2013

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. 

 I do know that this is "Sesame Street"

The One With the Poison Ivy -- July 8, 2013

Hermana Parry y Hermana Burnham
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…"    
............................................yupp.......................................................thank 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 without her!?
I love you all! Have a great week!

Monday, July 1, 2013


 We received pictures this week!  Enjoy . . .

 F and M -- Oh, how I love these people.
 Angie and Hermana Burnham
Angie and Hermana Burnham after Angie's baptism
Hermana Parry, Angie and Hermana Burnham

The One with the Fruit

July 1, 2013
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 – “ 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 weave!!"