Monday, February 24, 2014

The One with the Cubanos!

February 24, 2014
Our investigators with their CTR rings!
(Notice in the background, Hna Hoj giving the investigator a Book of Mormon)

This was one of those weeks where nothing in particular stood out as, like, "THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED TO EMAIL HOME!"   It was a great week!  But, sorry if this email is a little lame.
1.  Puppies.   I spent a good deal of a few of my days with a specific few dogs, that I feel were a part of my missionary service.   Animals and children – I’m telling ya, those have been a theme of my mission. But anyway, we were tracting and we knocked on a door of this one trailer.  As we knock, we see a huge German Shepherd emerge from under a pile of garbage.  In my mind, I think: “Yupp, this is the end of my life...I am about to perish."   But, turns out it was the nicest dog known to man! We named him Lazos. He emerges and starts licking us and what not, when we hear these cries from another dog coming from the yard.  We look behind more piles of trash and find another German Shepherd chained up.  It was the skinniest dog I have EVER seen. You could see every single bone of the body of this dog.  She was just crying and crying.  I immediately start making my way through the piles of trash to this little thing (the people weren't home, btw).  Once I got close I went with caution because I didn't know if she was going to be mean or not. But finally, I get to her and she just comes and lays her head on my chest (yes, that is how big she was) and, tambien, is the nicest dog ever.  I pull out the baby food I have in my purse and start to squeeze it into my hand for her to eat. After she finishes her baby food she walks over to a little igloo kennel and starts to whimper.  I walk over . . . and discover 8 little babies. They had to have been only a few days old. It was so heart breaking. This dog was SO SKINNY, there was no way it had eaten in dayyyyys which means those babies hadn't eaten either. So to sum it up, I was heartbroken.  We went back a few days later and brought water and some homemade dog food for Mamita (that's what I named the girl GS).  We didn't touch the babies the first time b/c we were scared she might be angry, but we held them the second time around and they were so cute.  It was equally as heart breaking. We called the ASPCA to come and get them.
2.  Cubanos.  There was one day, Saturday (it is always Saturday), when all of our plans had fallen through and all of our back up plans and all of our back up back up plans, so we were standing in the road thinking, "Well, what are we going to do now?"  A few blocks away there is a little strip mall of sorts with a Panderia and a washeteria y algunas taquerias, so I was like "Let's just walk down to the Panderia and see if there is anyone we can talk to”.   We get down there and there is no one. Ha. Great.  But, there was a bench outside the washeteria  so I was like, "Let's go sit on the bench and we will figure it out from there."  We walk over and sit down and start to talk about where we could go or what we could do. It was getting dark and we were in a "part of town" (aka one block) that is a little "rougher" (Not even CLOSEEEE to Gulfbank) that we aren't supposed to be in once it gets dark, so we were trying so hard to think of places we could go. After a few minutes two men walk out of the washeteria and I thought, "That is an interesting accent.....Argentina?  No. Colombia? No.  Where are they from?"  There was even one point when I wasn't sure they were even speaking Spanish.  I leaned forward and said, "Habla Espanol?" They were like, "Duh" (that isn't actually what they said, haha).   I said:  "Where are you from?"  They replied with some city that I had never heard of.  I say:  "Okay, de cual PAIS?"  And they say, in unison, "CUBA! Somos Cubanos!"   Oh man! I was so excited! I have only known two Cubans my whole mission and they are my favorite because their Spanish is so different.. It is like trying to put a puzzle together. We start chatting and got through all the pleasantries, etc.,  etc.,  and finally got to the gospel.  A had met with missionaries, but stopped because of his wife. When I asked if they had ever heard of the Book of Mormon  A is like, "Yeah, I have one!"  Haha.  Then I started to talk to J and he goes off about polygamy and food storage.  He had a really deep positive understanding of both subjects. I offered him the Book of Mormon in my hands and he gladly accepted it and told me, without me even inviting him, that he was going to read it.  They were just up here from Miami, so I won’t be seeing them again . . . except for maybe in Heaven. :)
It was a small moment, but a testimony builder that as missionaries, sometimes our plans don't work out; but, as long as we are doing our best, Heavenly Father will place people in our path that we can share the gospel with.  It goes for members and missionaries alike--just open your mouth!
Plus, we ended the conversation with "Hey, cuando los misioneros pasan por su casa...abra la puerta, okay?"  To which they responded with:  "Claro hermanita" (World, feel free to correct that Spanish)
I love you! Bye!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The One Where J Got Baptized

February 17, 2014 

Hermana McOmber, Hermana Hoj and Hermana Burnham
February 15, 2014

Hermanas Hoj y Burnham, "J", and the gentleman who baptized "J"
February 15, 2014

Hermana Burnham y "J"
He refused to smile for any pictures, haha.
 "I dont smile. I'ma g."  Those were his exact words.
February 15, 2014
 WHHHHHAttttt a week. I thought of a couple different names for this email, but the one that won OBVIOUSLY took precedence over the others.  

The other names I thought of were: 

The One When I Saw a Road Runner
The One with Training Round 2 

Let's explain them, why don’t we: 

1. The One When I Saw A Road Runner. You guys, real life, I saw a Road Runner.  I chased it. They are called Road Runners for a reason--those things are stinkin’ fast! I didn’t initially know it was a Road Runner.  I just thought it was a very colorful, fancy type of bird; and so, clearly, being the person I am, I needed to try and catch it.  So I did, but then, it ran away from me—and then I was a little frustrated because it wasn’t flying, but it was running and it was out running me! That little bird was out running me! But, I got some sweet pictures. Then a man in a car informed me it was a Road Runner. I am so thrilled that I saw one of those in real life. Wile E. Coyote where you at? 

2. The One with Training Round 2. Surprise! Hna Hoj and I are trio training! We got our baby on Thursday and she is great.  Her name is Hermana McOmber.  She is 5'10" and from Orem, UT. She is probably one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen in my life and people like to come up to my companions and ask if they are twins and then proceed to tell them they should be on Miss America. Then they turn to me and ask me what part of Mexico I'm from. Hey, maybe I’m not Miss America, but I will TOTALLY take people thinking I’m Hispanic. Anyway, yes, both my companions are beautiful. Hna McOmber was, like, a real life model. She is also a ballroom dancer. We love her! She is great. I am excited to be training again. Last time I trained I gained one of my best friends ever, Miss Lizzie Koch, so training is a good thing in my mind, haha.  

3. The One Where J got BAPTIZED. This happened people! My thug of thugs got baptized and it was so fabulous. Man, I love this kid so much. He will be a forever friend. One of my favorite experiences actually came BEFORE his baptism though, in our last lesson with him before he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was Friday night and we were in the home of Hna R. It was the first time Hna McOmber had met him, and so he was telling her and Hna R his story. Halfway through our discussion Hna R's tenant walks in and begins to move things from her car upstairs. We invited her to join us, but she kindly declined and just continued to pass through the lesson as we were talking. She would say little things every now and then, but for the most part kept to herself. After the lesson, Hna R invited us to stay and eat as long as we were willing to help her a little in the kitchen. We gladly accepted and she invited me to say the closing prayer. I did so. When we ended the closing prayer, her tenant, J [female J, different from J, the young man, who was baptized on 2/15/14], was standing in the kitchen crying. We all immediately run over and hug her. Through her tears she says that she has separated herself from God a lot lately because of some things that have happened in her life, but seeing us all gathered together talking about God and then hearing us pray in Spanish (we had been speaking Eng before that) just helped her to realize that she needed to go back to church (She is Catholic).  The best part of this whole night, though, came next. We started just talking like normal and started to prepare the food to eat.  Hna R, the other hermanas and I are cutting some food and J is finishing making her food on her other counter where J [him]  is standing.  I stopped listening to our conversation and made my ears pay attention to J [him] as he says to J [her]:  "Hey . .  . have you tried praying? That really helped me." I could’ve died.  I was SO proud of him! Oh man! I can’t adequately express the joy that filled my soul in that moment listening to Mr. J. R. be a little missionary! It might sound like a small thing, but it was a BIG thing. It was the coolest.   

I love being a missionary! The longer I am here, the more I fall in love with it. It is such a privilege to help a new missionary along the way as they begin THEIR journey of falling head over heels in love with missionary work. I am so grateful that I was able to take part in the baptism of J.  If I spend the rest of my mission working as hard as I can and no more baptisms occur, I will leave my mission feeling like I have done the work that the Lord has given me to do, just because of him. I love him so much.  

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"  D&C 18:15 

I love you all, 

Hna B 

P.S.:  In addition to some birthday mail, I also got my mail from Waller this week (Christmas cards)!  The following people deserve a big shout out:

The Thompsons!
The Mosses!
The Young Women!! I LOVE YOU GUYS!
The Hammers!
The Browns! 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014


February 10, 2014
"J" who is set to be baptized on February 15th!

Hermana Burnham and Hermana Hoj
Red Robin birthday lunch

Birthday silly string attack

The One Where I Turned 20

February 10, 2014
Shout outs:
Miranda Wong:  Thank you for the talks! I LOVED them both.
Grandma: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOON, GMA! And, thanks for the b-day money. :)
Sister Tryon: You would be surprised the number of people your letters reach! I read mine out loud to my companions almost every week--they have all loved them! You are touching more people than you realize!
Wowza, yes world, I am 20 years of age!  20 going on 14, I always say—except for the fact that I am real life balding, so maybe 20 going on 95. I thought the women in my family started to lose their hair when they began having children, and that it grew back once they stopped.  But guess what, I am DEF not with child and am DEF losing my hair. COOL, welcome to the ancient life.  
This week was a glorious one! In fact, I think all weeks in the Woodlands have been glorious! I love this place!
This week I met the cutest little Southern woman I "ever did saw".  She is Catholic as Catholic can be, but she accepted us to come back to help her around the house. As we dusted her living room we talked to her about her life.  If I have ever heard a love story that needs to be made into a Hallmark movie, it is this one.  This is stuff you only hear about in the story books!  
Some new neighbors moved in and so she went to greet them.  On their mantle was a picture of "the most handsome boy I ever did see." He was off at war and dressed in "his uniform, real nice." Without her consent, though she admits she later did not mind, his mother sent him her address. They began to send letters back and forth. He came back from the war when she was about 17 years old. He came home to Texas where their life whisked them away into a summer romance. She registered for her senior year of high school and he went back to the military, being stationed in Alabama. "I just decided that I couldn’t live another day without him. So, his mother helped me.  I didn’t even tell my parents I was leavin. I packed my bags. I got on one of them Greyhound buses and I headed to Alabama. I had never been farther than Galveston in my whole life. I showed up at his door without him knowin I was comin and he didn’t know what to do with me! He got us a little house and we got married.’
I couldn’t make this stuff up, people. The cutest and funniest part of the whole story was that I asked "Did you graduate from high school then?" She said:   "Well, in those days, we didn’t use the term 'pregnant'.  Oh no, it was called 'being in the family way'.  When I registered for classes the principal told me that girls 'in the family way' couldn’t graduate.  That was fine because I wasn’t in 'the family way', but by the time it rolled around for me to graduate, I WAS 'in the family way.'"  Haha.  Oh man! It was sooooo cute!  I was just sitting there dusting her little animal figurines with tears in my eyes! 
But on a more spiritual note:
This week I was reflecting on D&C 6:18:   "Therefore be diligent; stand by my servant Joseph, faithfully, in whatsoever difficult circumstances he may be for the word’s sake."  My mind was often caught up to thinking about the Book of Mormon and the role it plays in our lives. We did a role play in Zone Meeting where we invited people to read the Book of Mormon.  As we were "being taught" I thought about how, so often as missionaries, we sit in people’s houses and invite them to read the Book of Mormon and promise it will bless their lives (going off of a letter I received this week from Luke), but never EVER explain how IMPORTANT it really is. The Book of Mormon is the GREATEST tool we have as missionaries, besides the Spirit Himself.  
We have been teaching a couple se llaman B y R. They are fabulous, but they have a lot of marital problems. They have two young children who are off the walls crazy (but cute as can be) and an older, adult daughter who is a recent convert to one of the White wards (never met her). The lessons we have had in the past with them had been good, but the kids are so crazy that it has been hard to really invite the Spirit. Well, last night we go into this lesson with them and, let's just say, it was real awkward to start off with. The kids were carazy.  There was screaming, running in terror of getting hit with...objects.  There was a little marriage counseling at one point; there was a lot of yelling and all in all it was just loco. We both sat there, mostly in silence and just praying a lot about what we were supposed to do, how we could invite the Spirit and what we were supposed to say.
There were a lot of avenues that we could have taken with the situation that was taking place in front of our eyes. We had planned to read with them Helaman 3:24-30. We did that. It was good and calm for a few minutes, then one of the children spoke out of turn and there was some more yelling and castigation (Is that a word in Eng or did I just take a Spanish word and make it into an Eng one?). Ay. Just when we thought there was no hope, the couple began to argue, rather civilly, but argue none the less. Then it just got quiet. No one was talking, just little noises here and there from the kids whispering. It was all quiet.
In my mind I think:  "This is my chance!"  So, I began speaking. I began to talk about the scriptures we had just read and how we come unto Christ through the scriptures. Then I just stopped and I said: "You know what? Question: Why do you think this Book is important?" I continued (roughly, in my Spanish to English translation):  "It says in these scriptures we just read that those who study the scriptures will find a place at the side of God. Is that something you want? I know it is something I do. Hermanos, The Book of Mormon isn’t another Book. We aren’t here to read you some nice words and leave. We are not here for Bible study. We are here to invite you to participate in Salvation. If THIS Book is true, then Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. And if Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Kingdom of God on earth. We are not here to invite you to just another church, for surely it is not just another church. We know that there is one Lord, one faith and one baptism, Ephesians tells us that much. That means there is one way to heaven. One way to sit at the right hand of God.  One way to live with your family for eternity. THAT is why we are here. THAT is why you need to read. THAT is why you need to pray—because you are holding it all in your hands. If THIS BOOK is true, it is all true, and then you must act on the knowledge you have." Then we bore testimony and it was silent. I mean silent. You could have heard a pin drop in that place. B just goes:  "Okay...we will read." (Then they invited us to come eat Fajitas!) It was a teaching moment where the Spirit could truly testify to their hearts, because we were testifying of truth.  
The Book of Mormon is the COOLEST and GREATEST blessing I can even imagine receiving. I am grateful that Joseph had the strength to go into the Grove. I am grateful for that man, because now, we have the greatest Book the world has ever known. In the words of Parley P. Pratt: "That book of books."
I invite every single person reading this blog to read the Book of Mormon. If you don’t have one, go to and request one. If you do have one, open it up. I have often wished, as a missionary, that I could go back to the days I sat with my friends during lunch as they poked fun at Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and that I could’ve been a better defender of the truth. That I could’ve stood alongside B.H Roberts—“About the accomplishments of Joseph Smith, B.H Roberts said: 'Match it! Match it, I say, or with hand on lips remain silent when his name is spoken.' "
Much love to each of you and a happy Valentine's Day.
 Hermana Alivia Burnham


Monday, February 3, 2014

Sister Hosking

Catherine Burnham and Pam Hosking

This past weekend, Jeff and I traveled to Concord for the baptism of our grandson, Benjamin.  It was wonderful.  We attended church in Kirstin's ward.  After our meetings ended at 12 pm, I waited until the companion ward, that meets in that building, completed its Sacrament Meeting.  I then went in and found this lovely sister, Pam Hosking, mother of Hermana Hosking who was Alivia's first companion in Waller, TX.  Jeff and I also met Hermana Hosking's father, Bishop Hosking.  It was wonderful to spend a few moments speaking with them about our daughters (and Sister Hosking's other daughter -- currently serving a full-time mission in France)!  Tender mercies.

The One with Temple President Crane

February 3, 2014
I also thought about naming this email: "The One where I was at an investigator’s house and she asked me if I would be willing to marry a Mexican and then her son called and she made me talk to him on the phone and then he told me he wanted to know me and asked for my phone number and it was the most awkward conversation of my life"; but, I decided that would be just too long.  I also thought of naming it:  "The One Where B walked up during our lesson with M and said, 'Are ya’ll smoking?’ –to which I replied, 'Yes, B, we are Mormon missionaries and we are sitting with your friend smoking weed; NO we are not smoking!'—to which he replied, 'Why are you talking to the Mormons?', --to which M replied, 'Because I like to learn about God. I read the Bible, you know' –to which B replied ,'You do NOT read the Bible', and then B joined us for our lesson and loved the Plan of Salvation."  But, that too, was much too long.
SO I decided to title it about something of much more importance.
This week we got to go to the temple, aka, the greatest part of every transfer! I love the temple and fully intend on coming home from my mission and being a temple worker between my return from my mission and my return to school.  Both Hna Hoj and I had family names to bring to the temple, so we had permission to do all ordinances.  So, we got there several hours before our session started and we went up to the family ordinance desk to have our name cards printed out and the Temple President walks out and greets us. He asks us where we were from and what mission we were serving in. He then asked if we had brought family names, which we affirmed.  He then started to talk with us about the importance of Family History work.  It was awesome.
We went down to the baptistery and got changed.  We were informed that President Crane was again going to join us. He comes down and speaks to us about ordinances, and I will just leave it by saying he unfolded a few mysteries of the Kingdom of God—at least ones that were mysteries to me.  IT WAS FABULOUS.  We then received baptism and [other ordinances] for all of our ancestors. Once we had completed those ordinances, we still had a little time before our session began, so we were sitting on the couch talking quietly and reading the scriptures when, once again, President Crane joined us.  We talked about our experiences thus far that day and what we had learned. We also talked of missionary work.  At the end of the conversation, with tears in his eyes he says:  "I am so excited for the people you two teach; you are great." It was such an amazing experience to talk and learn from him and THEN have him compliment us. Man, blessings from the Lord left and right. How grateful I am.
This week was Fast Sunday and we were having a mission-wide fast. Hermana Hoj and I decided that we would send a text to all the members in our area inviting them, as well, to join with us and add the missionary work of our Ward to their fast. We got a reply from 1 sister. Her name is Hermana R. She is a recent convert  . . . and it was probably one of the first times she had ever fasted. She asked us what exactly it was she did and that was the end of it. That Sunday, at about 3:30, we got a text saying: "HERMANAS I AM SO HUNGRY!! What was the time that I was supposed to end my fast?" We were SO grateful for the fact that she had ACTUALLY fasted and assured her that the Lord would bless her for the faith she had already demonstrated and that she could break her fast. She replied:  "I thought I was supposed to wait until 5? I have already sacrificed this much, I would like to finish it right." I was so touched by that response. We replied and told her that we knew the Lord would bless HER as well as la obra misional in this area for her faith alone. Truly, when we are exactly obedient the Lord blesses us.
"Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" Ecc 12:13

P.S:  I also thought of naming this week’s email: "The One where it REAL LIFE snowed in Texas . . . Brr"; or perhaps, "The One where I realized I was an old missionary because someone told me that before she came on her mission she could do videos on Instagram and I was ASTONISHED."