Monday, December 30, 2013

The Last One from Waller

December 30, 2013

That's right – I am leaving Waller tomorrow morning. I can’t believe it. I am going to miss this place so much.  Waller is such a special place with so many people who I love so much. Ahhhh Waller! My beautiful two story apartment and my jeep!
On that note let me share one cool experience from this week. We went to a lesson with one of our investigators, N, who lives right next to another one of our investigators, A. We have been teaching N for a long time and she has some "hang up" questions that she has been having a hard time getting past. One of those questions is: "Why did Christ need to come to the Americas?" We have explained and explained for many, many lessons about why we have the Book of Mormon and why He came to the Americas. She just didn’t get it. We went to our lesson with her this week and she said: "I was talking to A this week and we were talking about you guys and what we have learned." (Granted, we have only taught A twice.) "She said,'If you had the best news in the world would you only tell one person? Or, would you want to tell everyone? THAT is why He came to America... He had to tell everyone!'" WHAT!  A is a rock star! I was so proud of her!
Thank you so much everyone for the Christmas gifts and letters! Aunt Becky, I loved the Bucees t-shirt; it made me laugh. Plus, there is no way I could leave Waller without a Bucees t-shirt! Calverts, I love the scarf and the CD! Thank you so much.
I love you all!

Friday, December 27, 2013

The One that Doesn't Even Count

December 23, 2013

[Editor's Note:  Life has been crazy in the Burnham household.  We had a wonderful phone call with Hermana Burnham on December 25th.  She is loving every minute of her mission, is working hard and is doing well.  She had no time to email this week, but we were grateful for this short note.  Thank you all for your continued to support and love.  We appreciate your kindnesses toward her and our family.]

* * * * * * * * * *
Solo shout outs --  (I have no time to email):
Thanks Aunt Becky and Uncle Jaunty!
Thanks Amber!
Thanks Parry Family!
Thanks Ray/Anita!
Thanks Calverts! 


What a blessing it is to have such a wonderful family and such wonderful friends.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stolen Picture

December 14, 2013
I stole this picture from the Texas Houston blog.  It was taken at a specialized training given to the missionaries. 
Hermana Burnham is in the mint colored jacket.


The One with the Ward Christmas Party

 December 16, 2013
Doesn't it seem like just yesterday was the ward Thanksgiving Party? Well, Merry Christmas everyone! Christmas is next week people!  WHAT?  What is happening with time!?
This week I hit my 9 month mark. That means I have completed half of my mission—which means I am halfway to dying.  That is what that means. Sighhhhh.
So our ward Christmas party was a lot of fun. There were less people there than we usually have at church (that is like 25 people on a good day).  But, hey, I loved it.  I seriously love this little branch so much, I can’t even tell you. We ate flautas and pozole aka my two favorite foods!  The party was on my nine month mark . . . once again the ward throws a party to celebrate ME! (Let a girl dream.)   We ended the night by breaking into an a cappella "Feliz Navidad." A whole bunch of Hispanic people singing “Feliz Navidad” at the top of their lungs? Could life get any better than that? The answer is no.
I do believe though my favorite part of the week came on Sunday as I sat at the piano in Primary.  I always find Primary a truly edifying experience. This week’s Sharing Time was about the Second Coming. The kids played a matching game and read scriptures about when the Savior comes again. After reading one particular scripture Hna Bayles showed a picture of Christ coming with the angels (you know the one I'm talking about), to which little Lucy exclaimed to Susy:   "He is coming again Susy! He is really coming! We are going to meet Him! I am so excited!"  The little girls hugged and expressed such pure joy at the thought of the returning Messiah. I couldn't help but hold back tears as I witnessed such a pure and childlike expression of trust and faith in the promises given to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 18:3)
I love you all. Have a great week!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The One with the Letter to Pa

December 9, 2013
Family Christmas, December 2012
William Joseph Souhrada, Sr. (with Kaylyn)
[Editor's Note:  My sweet father, William, passed away on December 7, 2013.  Hermana Burnham's Mission President, President Pingree, informed her of his passing.  I am so very grateful for Alivia's sweet companion, Hermana Durham, who I am sure was a great comfort to her.  

Also note that Dad was a real teaser and never much of a drinker. He was always very respectful of my family's faith and beliefs, but was still a kidder at heart and knew how to yank her chain (as evidenced from the "swim" memory below). They were extremely close.  Below is her weekly email, addressed to her grandfather.]
Dear Pa,
Well, I didn’t appreciate the call I received Sunday morning regarding your passing.  I imagine you didn’t very much want anyone to receive it either.  You, my friend, made me cry--like real life cry--for the first time since I have been on my mission!  That is pretty impressive.  
I have been reflecting the past few days on my memories of you and the influence you have had on my life.  I thought of sitting at the Flea Market, playing cards, walking on the pier, you getting mad at me when I wouldn't drink the alcohol offered, and my angel teddy bear you gave me as a kid.  I also thought of going to the little beach right by your house that I was just SURE was one only we (our family) knew about.  I thought about once as a child calling you and begging you to come teach me how to swim because you were probably the best swimmer in Florida.  You gruffly responded, "NO!"  When my response was "Whyyyyyyy not, Grandpa!?" – you responded -- "Because I don’t like you very much!"  Ha. 

And that is how our relationship was--me not being afraid to push your buttons, and you not being afraid to say it like it was. But, deep within your heart and right behind your eyes, I always knew how deeply you loved me.  I hope you could see it too . . . right behind my eyes, and deep within my heart, the love I had for you--and still have for you.  I never grew tired about telling stories to my friends of my super cool Grandpa who was the toughest person alive.

Now, you have forced me to really think about what I believe when it comes to life after death and where my testimony really stands. As I have been thinking about it, I have come to several conclusions: 1. I’m sorry that they don’t have whiskey in Heaven; 2. I know you live on; 3. I know that our Heavenly Father has answered so many prayers offered by you, and the rest of us, to watch over your family still here on earth; 4. I know that you have been released from the illnesses that held you bound and that you are no longer in pain and no longer suffering; and,  5. I know that the Lord has sent a few of His choice servants to be with you just beyond the veil, while we wait here.  Give Dede a hug for me.  

And Grandpa, listen to those people who come to teach you and remember me down here.
I love you so much, Pa.  I will miss you every day until my time ends here on earth; but, what a glorious reunion it will be when we will meet again.   

"And I soon go to the place of my rest which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen." Enos 1:27
With All the Love I Can Muster and Until We Meet Again,

Your Baby Granddaughter

Monday, December 2, 2013

The One with the Fruits of My Labors

December 2, 2013

I have considered many titles for this email. Sometimes I struggle to find a new one and at other times there are so many names that it is hard to choose what to title it. So many things happened this week! I considered all of the following as titles:

"The One with/where....”

The Anthill Round 2

A Pug Sneezed on my Face


I Gained All My Mission Weight and Then Some

Mudpuddles (The Dessert, not the Water)

I Saw Snow in Texas

The Priesthood

I was Sick

The Longest Week of my Life

Some of those are pretty self-explanatory. Like, a pug sneezing on my face and Thanksgiving and the fact that it snowed in Waller. (It only snowed for like 2 seconds and it didn’t stick; but, IT SNOWED IN TEXAS.) The other ones requiere (hey, I wrote that in Spanish, but I decided to leave it because it was cool that I wrote in Spanish on accident, haha) more of an explanation.  

#1—We were asked to babysit our neighbor's dog (the pug that sneezed on my face). Apparently, I am a cursed house-watcher because on day three of babysitting I found an ANTHILL IN HER HOUSE. *Flashback to the plants story*.  This is a sign that no one should ever leave me alone with their property because ants WILL attack their home!  
#2—I got the Flu Shot this week which made me sick for a day. It was a terrible day. I was sitting in Walgreens waiting for my companion to do something and there is a sign that says "Get Your Flu Shot Today".   I remembered the words of our mission doctor: "If you get the flu and call me, the first thing I am going to say is: 'Did you get your flu shot?' And if you say no, I am hanging up the phone."  Knowing myself and my body’s wonderful ability to pick up any and all sickness, I figured I might as well get my flu shot.  So I did. The next day was the worst day of my life! But hey, at least it was only one day and hopefully I am protected from all the rest of the ick in the future. If I still end up getting the flu, then I am going to be so mad.
#3—Mudpuddles are these delicious, little desserts our Branch President’s wife made that I could eat for my whole life. They were so good.
#4—I got a blessing from President Bayles (Branch President) this week and it was probably the most needed blessing I have received since I’ve been on my mission. It was beautiful. I was so grateful he was there to help.  
#5—The ACTUAL title of my email. We worked hard this week. And I prayed harder than I have ever prayed before. The Lord blessed me this week. I sat in church as I slowly watched 4 of our investigators enter the doors.  4.  That is unheard of, people.  FOUR.  In the Texas Houston Mission that DOES NOT HAPPEN.  Our zone goal is to have 10 people come to church in the month of December, per companionship, and we had 4 on DAY 1!!  It was the biggest tender mercy I have experienced/the most perfectly timed small miracle from the Lord.  It was like I could hear the Spirit whispering in my ear: "Mira a los frutos de tus labores."  Of course, they aren’t my efforts.  No one would care if it was just little ol’ Alivia preaching at their door, but I felt the comfort of the Lord as I watched these people sit themselves in the chapel.  President Bayles looked down and we smiled as we looked at the very people whom we had talked about getting to church, that morning in correlation, sitting in the pews.  
I am so glad to be a missionary. I can’t say it enough. I love this work.
I love you all!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The One With the Thanksgiving Party

November 25, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  
This was a LONG week. The first week after transfers is always the longest and the hardest, in my opinion.  Wheweee.  But, everyone survived!  My new companion's name is Hermana Durham. Yupp, you read that right Durham. Now we have Burnham and Durham. If we didn’t confuse everyone enough already . . . now there's two of us! "If I wasn't enough of a freak already, let's add a tiara!" (Name that movie.)  
She is awesome. She is from California. I have had 5 companions now and ALL have been from California. I think I'm sensing a pattern. Next transfers I will just look at the board and narrow it down from all Sisters in the mission that I haven’t been with that are from California.  That should give me a pretty good guess of who my next companion is going to be, haha. Hna Durham came out with me, so we have been out the same amount of time.  
It has been a good week. We found a couple of really great new people to teach. We taught some good lessons. We set a baptismal date . . . "I’mmm dreaming of a white Christmassss". Life is good.
We had our ward Thanksgiving party this week! It went super well, and we had a good turn out and LOTS of food. Hispanics don't really celebrate Thanksgiving, but the whole idea behind this was: "We live in America and need to learn about/teach our children the traditions here, too."  So, we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  I made the stuffing--from a box of course.  I made a whole bunch of those hand turkeys . . . you know the kind that you make as a Kindergartener?  Yeah, those ones.  It was a lot of fun.
Inspired by Brother Adams, we have a little jar on our study table that we are filling with little "thankfuls" that we will then read on Thanksgiving. I am probably going to gain 10 pounds in the next few months.  Really looking forward to that.  Oh wait, I'm NOT. But hey I love the holidays!
I wanted to write a few shout outs:
Sister Hammer:  I just got your Halloween card this week. Thank you so much!
Brother Bennett: What a delight it was to hear from you. I loved the scriptures you included. And believe me, my mom tells me all the updates of the little kids who are now not little kids and always writes: "Do you feel old yet?" I can’t believe it.
Sister Rutledge: Thank you so much for your note. :)  It put a smile on my face! Give that new, little baby of yours some kisses for me!   
Being a missionary is the BEST THING IN THE WORLD. Speaking Spanish is THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD.  Teaching people about the gospel in the BEST THING IN THE WORLD.  
I’m happy. Are you happy?  I love you all. You are in my prayers.

(Editor's note: from a second email): 

P.S.:  I am going to a member of the English ward for Thanksgiving. We actually visit with a lot of the English ward people because 1) everyone loves Sister Missionaries more; and, 2) the Elders don't make it to see a lot of them because they live too far away. So, the H's invited us over for dinner. I don't really know B, but I know our Elders do service for him. He walks up to me and church, and I go to shake his hand. He says:  "Now sister, we both know a handshake won't do" and pulls me into a big hug. It was very much needed. Then he walks away.  He walks back in a few minutes later and says, "Do you and your companion have plans for Thanksgiving?"  I said, "Not yet, sir." He said, "Well you do now. Be there at 1."  It was a little tender mercy from Heavenly Father. The English members down here are the best. The literal best. I am so grateful for them.