Monday, December 19, 2016

"A day without the spirit, is like a day without music."

November 7, 2016

We have been looking for new investigators.  We are trying to build up our teaching pool.  We have been teaching Mikel and her son, and we’ve been teaching other people in her house, including her cousin.  She’s been great.  She is reading the Book of Mormon, but can’t come to church today.  She has to work, but her cousin wants to come, and should bring Mikel’s son.  We’re going to help them get here. 

In this ward, church starts later, 12:00.  It’s strange for the coast, usually they start earlier.  It will make it hard for most people to come.  Coming to church should be all about your desire to attend, anything keeping you from church is really just an excuse, but we’ll help people.

We have been doing a lot of contacting this week.  It’s the first time on my mission that I have spent so much time just contacting random people.  Usually, in other areas, contacting was our back up plan if lessons fell through, but here, it’s all we’ve been doing.  It’s pretty much our plan A.  We did find 2 new families this week.  We hope they progress

We had another leader’s council this week.  It’s nice not to have to travel so far anymore, I don’t have to travel 6 hours every time now, it’s just 45 minutes.  We learned what President wants us to teach our zones.  So we’ll take his message to our next zone meeting and teach all of the missionaries the same lesson.  As zone leaders, instead of making up our own lessons, now we just need to teach them whatever President teaching us.   We had a lot of trainings.  We learned about prayer, and how to teach people how to pray.  It’s a great topic.  There is a lot of apostate ways people pray here.  Even some of the missionaries don’t always get it right  So we were taught how to kneel down, how to help them have a spiritual experience, and we did a lot of practicing. 

We also watched a video from  There’s a video called “Nearer My God to Thee” but in Spanish.  It’s just a cool version of the hymn with a bunch of pictures of the Savior in the background.  They played the video for us without the sound.  And they didn’t tell us anything about it. They just showed us the pictures.  We were in total silence for 3 minutes.  Then they talked to us about what we learned, what we liked, and what viewing the video did for us.  They asked us how we felt, etc.  Then they played the video a second time, only this time we could hear the sound, and the words to the hymn.  We were all surprised.  It felt so different.  So then we had a great discussion about teaching with the spirit, vs without it. 

There are days when you don’t listen to the spirit, and it’s strange.  Like a day without music.  We had a great zone meeting.  There are 28 missionaries, and they are all really great.  Elder Sanchez was there, Elder Luis from Valledupar.  And there are finally some new North American Elders. 

Hope you will all work to have the spirit with you every day.  You can choose to do activities that invite the spirit, or  you can choose to do activities that make it go away. If you really want to progress spiritually, always choose activities that will allow the spirit to be with you. Obviously we don’t read our scriptures every minute of the day, but we can choose to be in good places, doing good things.  When we choose to do that, over and over again, we can grow spiritually. 

We went to bocas de senizas

Miguel finally got baptized!!!!!
It took 7 months of working with him!!!!

Transfers! Meet Elder Munoz!

October 31, 2016

Well family, this week was Transfers!  I’m here with my new companion, Elder Munoz, he’s from Ecuador.  He’s really funny.  I was transferred to Zona Hipodromo.  It’s in the same zone as Soledad, where I started in the mission.  They have changed up the zone, so it’s different than when I was here.  There are now 28 missionaries in this zone, and I am still a zone leader.  Our area is new. 

This week we went to work and meet people.  We are starting from scratch.  This area is pretty much dead.  We have to find people to teach.  There are no past people to teach.  So we are opening up this area and we’re going to work really hard.

We started this week by going to talk to the Bishop.  He seems like a really cool guy, But he is still working on his own faith.  We asked him about the ward, and he said that the people study, but they don’t come to church, because they have work.  And so he thinks the ward is really hard.  We’re going to have to really teach this ward about faith, sacrifice and the principle of “Yes you can!”  So we’re going to work on that.  We followed the advice of our mission president to get to know our leaders first.  So we met our ward mission leader.  He is really great, younger, super excited.  His name is Kevin, he’s a convert of 5 years.  After meeting the Bishop and his whole family, we told him why we’re here, to help his ward grow, to find and baptize priesthood holders, and to find families that need the gospel.  We told him that the Mission President made a challenge for the whole mission that wards should have a baptism every week.  Then we let him  know that was actually his responsibility, and that we were here to help.  So we let him know we would do anything he needs for his investigators, and his less actives, recent converts, and shared with him all of our great ideas.  Then when we were through, we asked him to give us a blessing so we could work well in his area and baptize every single week.  It was a very spiritual evening in his home.  We both feel like we gained his confidence right from the start. 
His wife gave us a referral with a sister that lives close to our apartment.  She told us that she has been wanting to learn about the gospel for a long time,  but he missionaries that were here before us, never contacted her.  We went to see her the next day, and visited her, and she came to church the first week.  Her name is Mikel, and she has a 10 year old and son.  Now we have 2 investigators! 

I am very against just baptizing kids.  As a zone leader, when the missionaries call me, asking for permission to baptize a primary aged child without their parents, I always tell them no.  I pull out Moroni 8 and read it with them over the phone, and remind them that children are not in need of baptism, we’re looking for whole families.   Then I tell them to stop visiting this little child, and go teach a whole family.  I’m pretty strict about that.  I think it’s so important.  We love children, but we know that the best way for them to be raised is in the church, together, with their parents and families, so that is our focus.

This area looks like it has been ignored for too long.  There have been some interesting missionaries in this area for a while, so we are going to do all we can to establish great relationships with the members.  I’m really happy to be working with Elder Munoz, he’s pretty awesome.

In fact, he probably wants to say hi.  Just a min, I’ll get him  (He’s giggling, this is a recording…)  “Hi familia Burk.  I am from Ecuador.  I play futol.” 

Oh, one more thing.  Today we went and did a big huge zone errand.  We had to go get a bunch of signatures from the missionaries.  We chose to do that today, on our pday, because we want to work tomorrow.  When we got done, we ended at Plaza del Sol.  It’s a big commercial place.  While we were walking out, I ran into JoAnna.  She was one of the first families that we baptized from my first area.  I was so happy to see her!!  We shook her hand, and she said that their whole family is still active and going strong in the church.  It made me SO happy!   I was so excited to see that.  I can say that all the people I have taught on my mission are still active.  It makes me super excited.  She was happy to see me too.  I was a little nervous she was going to try to give me a hug, but luckily, I stuck my hand out soon enough that we just shook hands.  Because a hug would have been really weird.  Thankfully we didn’t have that problem.

Love you all!
Elder Burk
Painting by Melvin Lance of Dairo and his family.

Elder Campos, Harold, and Elder Burk

Miguel finally got married!!!!!

Mom—to answer all of your questions:

My new companion is really sweet.  He was in the office for awhile, but when the new President came, and made a lot of changes, he is now here working with me. We have 28 Elders in our zone.  It’s not the exact same area that I have served in before, but it is the same Zone.  

I’m also attending a new building.  It’s actually a really old chapel.  In this zone, I know a few of the missionaries, but most of them are new.  I feel pretty good being their leader.  Maybe I should be nervous, because a lot of them know who I am, but I don’t know who they are.  So we’re working on that! 

I am now only 45 minutes from the Mission Office.  Maybe like Boise is to Meridian.   The Office is in Boise, and I’m in the Meridian/Kuna side of town. 

The ward is a lot smaller, less mature, not very powerful…yet!

My companion knew me, and knew that this area didn’t have anything good going, so before I arrived, he erased the whiteboard, threw away bad records, and pretty much cleaned everything out.  When I walked in, he handed me a marker, and is pretty much letting me lead out, starting from scratch.  We’ve made a lot of great changes, and we think it will all work out really well. 

Pdays—are going to be pretty disappointing here.  There are no cool monuments, statues, or cool places to go, it’s actually pretty ugly.  Just a bunch of houses close together.  We are going to play a lot of futbol, and get really creative on how to have fun.  I’ll need some new ideas. 

Change is hard.  Valledupar was really great, and I love so many of the people there, but 7 ½ months is a long time, and it was definitely time for a change.  So there is plenty of work for us here. 

Answers for Abi headed to Peru:  Mission tips
  • Sisters—shoes in hot climates, just wear what’s comfortable, and water proof.  Just get something normal.
  • Shoulder bags—sister use big ones.  Get one that fit your scriptures, something that buckles around your waist is very awesome, and helpful.  Bags get heavy when you walk everyday.
  • Get everything thin, small, compact, waterproof. 
  • Yes—bring laminated pictures.  You’ll just want to shove them in your scriptures.
  • Get Scripture covers.  You will get rained on.
  • Get the small new scriptures quad in Spanish 
  • Sometimes poor people are blind, so big print helps, but you have to carry it everyday.
  • Buy an mp3 player that can hold lots of music.
  • Get medicine for normal stuff.  You’ll be glad you have it. 
  • Ibuprofen, acem, allergy, diarreah.  I’m glad I brought all the medicine I brought.
  • Bed bugs—I use the mattress zip cover and I have not had any problems.  Definitely get one.  They’ll give you a mosquito net. 
  • Bring deodorant from home, something with anti-persperant. Just cheap stuff here.
  • Bring your favorite shampoo. 
  • You can get toothpaste here
  • Bring your favorite hair products.
  • I’m glad I brought a lot of razors, just simple bic razors here.
  • You don’t need a water bottle.  I just use disposable ones.
  • Your bag is really important. 
  • Read Preach My Gospel—bring a small one, and a small hymnbook, get a cover for them too.

Humility vs Pride

October 24, 2016

Hermano Cespeds
Thursday, my companion and I had weekly planning.  That was awesome.  We practiced a lot of new things.  This whole transfer has been kind of a mess.  We have travelled so much, that this is actually the first time we have had a good weekly planning.  So that’s probably the saddest thing of my whole life. I really like weekly planning, that’s my favorite. 

Today, we had a lot of plans to visit all the people we are working with, everyone that is progressing.  But everything fell through—everything. All the people flaked on us.  We usually have 5-6 visits a day, but today no one was home.  We walked a lot.  We taught our one investigator, Luis.  He went to church this Sunday.  He’s 18, and is super cool.  He loves everything we teach him about the gospel. He’s so interested.  He’s reading all the homework we give him, which is awesome. 

After Luis, everything else fell through.  By 8:15 pm, we went out and looked in a small, closed neighborhood of nicer houses.  We went there to check on a family that is less active, but we ended up walking around and contacted a couple of people on the street.  Then we walked by a house that felt like we should approach.  A guy came out, wearing a green military uniform.  We were a little concerned that maybe he was going to give us some trouble.  He and his wife and his little daughter came out, they pulled up their chairs and we all talked.  We talked about eternal families, a little about our beliefs, and gave them a pamphlet that talks about the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ. It was so great, so teach them, compared to all the other people we had talked to today.  It was just this humble little family, willing to listen to two messengers from the Lord. As far as material items, they had what they needed, but their humility was something you could see in their eyes. 

I was talking to my companion about humility and pride today in our companionship study, and was trying to think how those two things really worked.  Before my mission I just thought that poor people in 3rd world countries had the most humility.  But my companion said that some of the most prideful people he’s met, live in the poorest areas that he has served in.  I have now seen that too.  It doesn’t really matter where you are, rich or poor neighborhood, there is pride and humility everywhere.  Pride has isn’t determined by where you come from, or how you’re raised.  It may magnify, or diminish your attitude, but it really is determined by your spiritual state. 

I know that when you are born on earth you come here with special characteristics, and both pride and humility come with you.  During this life you have the opportunity to tame it according to your life experiences and personal decisions.  You can become humble like a little child, when you finally turn to the Lord and desire to do his will.

We had a really bad day, and we were really about to give up and go back to the house to go eat, but we kept going, we found the last house, and the very last door, and it ended up being a super awesome family!  Plus… THEY’RE MARRIED.  They are LEGALLY married, which NEVER happens in the coast!  We always have to figure out how to marry every single family that wants to get baptized. Which is super complicated.  But this is so cool!  They have actually been married for 7 years!  So we were so happy, and look forward to teaching and baptizing them. 

This week was finally normal.  We found a new investigator named Luis, he’s pretty cool.  He’s 18, we’ve been working with him for a couple of weeks.  He came to church again this week. We went on an exchange with elders from a little town that is about a 3 hour drive away. It is pretty expensive to have exchanges with them, but we went and it was great.

Saturday, we had a BIG rain storm, it was like a flash flood that came out of no where, and rained and flooded super hard for probably 40 minutes, then all went away.  After 40 min, we were at a lesson, sitting on the front porch and it started raining.  We were under the porch, so we kept teaching, until I am sitting there, and a cat comes out and is chasing something that comes close to my leg.  I thought it was a mouse or something, so I kept teaching,  But then another little thing ran by, and it was a BIG HUGE COCKROACH.  So I looked down and there was another one, and another one, and more than I wanted to see in one place.  And I guess I was right next to a little hole that was infested with cockroaches.  It was gross.  There were like 100 cockroaches, running all over the porch, and up our legs. The kids we were teaching, jumped up, and started killing them all. Then I stood up, and looked all around in a circle, and the kept pouring out of this whole, it was so weird.  Then I looked behind me, and there was one on my shirt, some on my pants, the rain was pushing them out of their hiding spots.  It was pretty gross.  They were everywhere. 

Tomorrow is transfers.  I think I will probably be leaving. I’ve been in this area for 7 ½ months.  I would love o have another chance to serve with Elder Compos.  He’s pretty awesome.  I guess we’ll see what happens.  I’ll let you know.

Valledupar has lots of round abouts and they all have cool statues.

Elder Campos and I with Jader Serpa

Love you guys,

Elder Burk