Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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


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