Monday, April 25, 2016

I Touched A Drug Plane

Hello Family!

This week I feel like I have gotten a lot better at sign language.  I'm starting to practice at church this week, I'm teaching or translating all the classes.  It's like having a Spanish branch in your ward, but we have a deaf branch. We have a couple of converts and a few investigators that are completely deaf. It's really neat to work with them.  When I was little I thought that all deaf people could read and write.  But now I'm realizing that they never would have learned how to sound out words.  I've been learning sign language.  There is English sign language, there is Spanish sign language, and then there's Colombian Spanish sign language. They are all really different. 

I translated the Priesthood class this week for our deaf brothers, which was really awesome. It's very cool to get to know them, and understand what they feel like.  They are very sensitive to people.  They have very few people who listen or understand them, so they have very little communication with anyone.  A few years ago some missionaries took time to learn how to sign, and were able to speak to them. They baptized some of them.  Then they taught more of their friends, and now there is a deaf branch.  

This week we have been teaching a sister named Geditsa, She was a referral from a returned missionary.  She's the state boxer here.  She has had a lot problems with bad spirits that she thinks touches her during the day.  So we taught her about prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost.  This week she decided she would pray when she felt scared.  So when bad spirits came near her, or touched her, she would turn on the lights, say a prayer, and she felt the spirit, and her whole night changed.   She's been sleeping better, and doing all the good things she is supposed to do.  We are so excited for her.  She now has a testimony of prayer. She has accepted a baptismal date.  She's been reading the Book of Mormon, and this Sunday she is coming with us to church. 

In bigger news--this week there was a drug plane--A big drug lord loaded it up with drugs.  To disguise it, they spray painted "US Army" on the side of it, then they tried to send it out.  But as soon as it was up in the air, it was shot down and landed here in our area.  So our whole zone went out to see it, and took pictures.  It was pretty awesome.  We touched all the drug planes. 

I received a very cool thought from my Grandpa this week.  He was visiting my Aunt in Georgia.  He was talking about how the driving is different because there are no mountains to help orient you to where you are, there are just a lot of trees that line the roads and block your view.  In Idaho and Utah, there are no trees, so you can always see where you are going.  And there are big mountains to reference, so you always know where you are and where you're going.  But in the rest of the world, it is no-reference driving.  It's the same here in Valledupar.  There are a lot of trees, and you can only see 2 blocks in front of you, and no where else.  

It's just like this when we teach people about the gospel.  Most people live their lives only seeing a few blocks in front of them.  Most do not know where they came from, where they are, or where they're going. The only thing they have to help them is a good map or a good compass.  As missionaries, we have the responsibility to give them a good map and a working compass, so they can find the mountains and know where they should be going. We help them find a connection with Heavenly Father through prayer and scriptures. 

We always need to have our reference.  Sometimes we need to rely on the little things we have in front of us.  We need to always read our scriptures and pray daily, do the important things that keep us on the right path.  We need to watch every single step we take, if we want to end at the right destination--the Celestial Kingdom.  I hope each of you will think of someone you can refer to the missionaries this week.  

No, I didnt feel anything from the earthquake in Ecuador. I'm glad to hear Christian is ok.  Yes, I like being a Zone Leader.  I really love being able to help other missionaries. However, the thing I don't like is being in a trio. It's terrible for teaching.  Both of my companions are really great guys but teaching in three is just hard.  I could teach any lesson with a new missionary or a new priest or an old timer or whatever you want because it's just 2 and the person you're teaching.  But teaching in three is pretty rough.  I realize the Godhead is three and the First Presidency is three, but marriage is two, so...there's something to that.  Companionships should just be 2.  It's ok, everything works out in the end. : )

We talked to a couple of missionaries from the states this week and Wow, they are spoiled!!!  Freaking iPads and cars and smart phones... A mission there and a mission here is sooooooo different! 

I'm loving Valledupar.  I'm really glad I'm here.  Hope you guys are great. I tried to write more. Send me questions.  

Love you!

Elder Burk
My zone

My zone in front of the "US Army" drug plane
Eating lunch with the zone at Monta Carga CaƱandonga

Monday, April 18, 2016

Our house flooded, so that was fun

This week was pretty good. Kinda busy. We are starting to get to know the leaders a little bit better. We had a meeting with the bishop to get to know him a little bit and to talk about his vision for the ward. 

Since we're in a trio it's pretty easy to do divisions.  We've been trying to work with the youth and go on splits a lot with them. on sunday 

Our house flooded, so that was fun.  It rained a lot and we live on the second floor. The back patio had a little drain that was clogged and everything here is tile, so there's no escape for the water. The patio turned into a pool and it came through the house.  It made a pretty awesome slip in slide all throughout the house!

 This week we found a couple of new people that have potential. One sister, named Janet, was a contact that we had who lived next to a less active member.  When we were looking for his house, we knocked on the wrong door, and met her instead.  She accepted us to listen. It was pretty cool.  She pays a lot of attention to what we teach and really wants to learn.  We shared about the restoracion and invited her to read the Book of Mormon.  When we asked her why she accepted to read it she said, "So I can learn about the gospel and tell all those bozos that have it all wrong!" Ha, it was funny in Spanish... We are praying that she will remember to read and pray before the next visit.

We printed out a huge map of our area and we're putting colored pins on the wall to mark all the people we are teaching.  Now Elder Selman and I can get to know the area faster.  

I feel like we do a lot of errands and fill out a ton of forms and stuff.  Sadly, that means we don't proselyte quite as much.  So when we actually get to work, we really focus and work hard.  

We do a lot of stuff to help the other missionaries here, but the majority of that stuff is just problems that they have and that's not really stuff you want to hear about...

Here in Colombia the youth get into a ton of trouble because they grow up without some basic morals that we have given to us on a plate.  They get a bad example from their parents and don't understand how a family should work or the importance of education.  I have met several girls that have had babies at 15 years old.  Lots of kids that do drugs from a really young age.  Many start living with the opposite sex when they get tired of their parents and then end up ditching their spouse after they get bored.  There are some really sad situations and some really simple solutions. 

Being from Idaho we have a lot of these answers given to us on a platter.  Having things like the teachings of For the Strength for Youth can pretty much prevent any bad decision we can make.  The Strength of Youth is scripture. It is modern day commandments, spelled out in black and white.  Sometimes we just don't get that.  We are so lucky to have it. 

You've gotta help me with some questions here.  I'm sorry, the letters are getting kinda hard to write.  I feel like the whole personal time thing sort of disappeared this transfer.  I hope you're doing good. 

Love you!

Elder Burk

Futbol this week
Me cutting Elder Selman's hair on the roof of our house. 

hey mason! now the man cave has just become the cave. because mom told me that it can be the "girl cave" so me mallory did the girl cave.  But then dad told us that it had to be just "the cave."  
Me and kyra made a play for activity days. We did the three little missionaries and the big bad person!  
Mom told me that you were a zone leader, what do you for that?????????????? I got to see a movie called the jungle book, it was awesome!!!!!  So, how are you??????? 

biny anne

Hey Brinley!  
That's awesome that you are using the cave!  It doesn't sound like Braden or Spencer are gonna use it.  What else do you do for activity days? Being a zone leader doesn't mean anything important.  It just means we do a couple of extra stuff during the week.  The Jungle Book movie sounds great!  This week it rained a lot and the back patio had a sock covering the drain so it got all filled up with water then filled our house with water so that was kinda different!  We had a pretty sweet slip-n-slide in the hallway when we got home! 
I hope you have a great week!  Thanks for writing to me. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wake up, Run and Sleep

Mason Burk and Brady Slack at Leaders Council
 This week was pretty crazy.  I feel like there’s just this constant cycle of wake up, run and sleep.  And as soon as you sleep, you wake up again.

Both of my companions are pretty awesome!  Sadly, we have to do a ton of administrative stuff--like making sure the new people are legal, changing the house certificates, doing inventories and checking to see if all of the missionaries are being obedient.  We also have to do 2 companionship exchanges every week.I feel like we barley proselyte.... blahhhh!

We went to Leader's Council this week and had a training about conversion.  It was all the way back in Barranquilla. We had to wake up at 1:00 in the morning to take a bus for 6 hours to get there. We did get to slept at the President’s house that night, which was great!  And we ate lasagna with him.  It was also the first time I’ve had a hot shower in 9 months!  

Life is just kinda busy.  I’m trying to write in my journal, but it’s just not working out that great.... I hope you are all doing great!

I love you!

Elder Burk
Elder Cardenas went home
Elder Cardenas is from Chile.  He was my first Zone Leader and then he was the Assistant to the President for pretty much the whole time I’ve been here.  *The week he got home, he got called as the Elders Quorum President--hahahahha!

Fredi Torres
Fred Torres--I found him in La Playa, taught him almost all the lessons, and then he got baptized two weeks after I left...


Hey Mom,  What was that quote that you always had about ‘Peace’ that was in the bathroom?  It said something like: Peace is not to be in loud places or with lots of noise, but to be in the middle of all these things and still have quiet in your haeart.  Something like that...will you please send it to me?

Monday, April 4, 2016


Familia Arrieta noche de hogar
Leaving La Playa this week was kinda bittersweet. I loved la playa!  I knew the whole area like the back of my hand. I had found every investigator we had and there were lots of people about to be baptized this next transfer. 

Buuuuut, on the other hand, I'm in Valledupar, in a trio with two white guys!!!!   Having a North American companion is super rare.  But to have two.... it's pretty awesome!  Elder Selman is from a hicktown outside of Logan, Utah and Elder Lund is from Provo, Utah.  Elder Selman is like Chase but a little more red on his neck. Ha.  Elder Lund is a little bit like Christian Larsen. It's fantastic!  They both work super hard and we laugh a lot.  In the apartment we try to talk in Spanish. But when somebody cracks a joke, it's almost always in English. 

We got here by bus and the trip took 6 hours. We left Tuesday morning and had to help a lot of missionarires get organized. Then Wednesday President flew in on a plane to have our monthly meeting with the zone leaders and stake president of Valledupar.  Elder Lund has been here for six weeks, so we tried to contribute but we hadn't even attended church yet.  It was pretty good.  Then president took us out to lunch and ice cream.  It was pretty awesome. 

General Conference--we always watch it in the stake center.  We went into the secretary's office to watch it in English on the computer while the rest of the stake was in the big room, Chapel.  It was pretty awesome.  I got a lot of answers to questions I had.  

We had 4 investigators attend but they were all deaf.  Apparently here in our ward it's like a deaf community.  All the deaf people who live in Valledupar assist our ward.  Like a Spanish ward but with sign language.  We have a couple of investigators who are deaf.  I'll write you more about this next week.  We teach the lessons in sign language.  It's pretty crazy.  Sign language is different in every country, so it's not even the sign language that they speak in the US.  I was surprised at how much I could communicate in the first lesson we taught.  I really felt the gift of tounges...(or maybe the gift of hands, haha).   

So Elder Selman and I are learning, and Elder Lund has kinda figured out enought to get us all around.  

Dad--I heard about Colombia's soccer team when we came here, but I didnt hear we lost.  That's kinda sad ; (  

I'm proud of Camille Satchwell going on a mission!!!  I also got a letter from Shaylee Nye.  She got her mission call this week to Philadelphia Pennsylvania!!!  That's pretty awesome!!

Love you hope you have a great week!

Elder Burk