Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bury your weapons and come closer to God

Elder Burk and his new companion Elder Matos 
Hey Family,

This week we have had a lot of very cool lessons. We went to the Leader’s Council.  Wow, everything is now totally different.  There are so many changes happening, so we’re going with it.  We have different ways of doing everything in the mission now—forms, exchanges, meetings, everything.  It feels a little weird, but we will follow it and it will all be fine.

This week we’ve been working really hard in our area with our own investigators.  Our new mission goal is to baptize every single week.  Our President taught us that we need to see the end from the beginning, like it says in Abraham 2:8.  He emphasized how this perspective was very important to seeing real success—knowing why we are teaching people and to what end, helping them come unto Christ and make positive changes in their life.

In our Leader’s Council, our new President was full of energy.  He would teach us something new, then repeat it several times so we got it. We all really knew exactly what he was teaching us. 

Elder Matos and I have been working really hard this week to find new people to teach.  We have been working with a less active named Leah and her husband Ricardo.  Ricardo has been coming to church for a couple of weeks now, and he really likes it there.  He has some doubts, but he asks us questions, and we work through it together. 

We also had a zone meeting this week and taught about helping your investigator progress by contacting them every single day.  Elder Reynolds visited our mission.  He visited all the parts of our mission near Barranquilla.  But because of distance he did not come out here to Valledupar.  So we watched it from the church via satellite.  We watched him shake everyone’s hand as he entered the room.  It was really awesome. He talked a lot about getting members ready for the temple, and all that would happen related to the temple. It was exciting.

We taught Erica Barrios this week.  She is a referral from a member in our area.  Before we arrived, she had read the entire pamphlet of what we were going to teach.  She had the whole thing entirely memorized!  It was so cool.  It was a very spiritual lesson.  We are so happy to be working with her and her entire family. 

We also taught Miguel Martinez this week.  He and his wife have been having a lot of martial problems.  He has a very large financial debt that weighs on him, it will take him over 3 years to get out of it. It causes him a lot of stress, and it has really hurt their marriage. They were getting ready to legally get married, but now they are doubting their decision.  He’s so mad all the time because of this debt, that his wife is tired of hearing about it.  While we were visiting we asked him some questions, and let him talk things out with us. Then we told him the story of the anti-lehi-nephites that they buried their weapons of war, and became closer to God.  So we took out some pieces of paper, and had Miguel and his wife write down all of the things that are their weapons right now—the bad things that are happening to them, the bad thoughts they have, anything that came to their minds.  Miguel filled the whole page.  He just kept writing. Then we read the Alma 24 with them, told them the story, then we went outside and had them burn their pieces of papers.  We told them this was just like the people who buried their weapons.  Now they are able to bury all the bad things that weigh them down.  Now he can stop thinking, saying the same things over and over, because they are burned and gone.  It’s time now to move forward and do what you can each day to improve and progress. It was a very powerful lesson, we all felt the spirit that it was the right thing to do. Then we talked about how the gospel can be applied to our everyday life and be applied personally to him and the situation he is in.  It was really awesome.

In church this Sunday, we talked about the sacrament. I gave this a lot of thought.  We are supposed to be worthy to take the sacrament.  But sometimes when we don’t feel worthy, we might not take it.  But it’s important to understand something, repentance is an organized process.  We need to follow it just as God has asked us to.  We do not have the authority to not take the sacrament. We can’t just tell ourselves that we’re not going to do it if we think we are unworthy.  Instead, confession is the first step.  If we think that we are unworthy for any reason, then the first step is to go talk to the Bishop.  Confess.  He is the only one that can tell us that we cannot take the sacrament.  We do not have the power to deny ourselves of the sacred covenant that we are supposed to make each week. 

If you wonder if you should take the sacrament, remember: Never take the sacrament unworthily and always take the sacrament.  These are the two things to always live by.

I thought this was such an interesting concept.  There are times people think, well, I didn’t have a perfect week, so I’m not going to take the sacrament.  Then the next week they go ahead and take it.  But that is not how it works. If we feel uncertain about taking the sacrament, for whatever reason, then you need to go through the repentance process.  Speak to your priesthood leader, share with him your concerns, let him determine what steps are next.  Stop doing whatever it is that makes you feel unworthy.  Pray to God for forgiveness, then turn from that sin and move forward looking to God and doing right.  If you are worthy, your Bishop will tell you to take it every single week.  It’s there to help us.  It’s there to cleanse us.  It’s there to remind us of the covenants we made at baptism to follow the Savior.

If anyone feels unworthy to take the sacrament, please see your Bishop.  The Savior loves you.  He wants you to come unto him.  If you’re sick, the sacrament can be brought to you. 

I love you family!  I hope you have a great week.

Elder Burk
Elder Burk with fellow missionaries at the Leader's Conference


Monday, August 8, 2016

Transfers--It's a whole new Zone

Elder Selman with Elder Burk before he departs for home.
God Be With You Til We Meet Again Brother
This week was pretty interesting.  We had transfers, and we had to figure out how everything worked to get all the Elders to and from the right places.  Thankfully, we got everyone sent off on time, and in the right direction. Tuesday night we took Elder Selman, and most of the Elders from our zone, to the bus station.  We had to buy 11 bus tickets.  Everyone was either leaving to go home, or headed to pick up their new missionary to train.  It was pretty crazy.  Everyone left Tuesday night, well, really like 2:00 am.  I stayed here with two other missionaries that came over and stayed at our house.  We waited for everyone else to arrive on Wednesday.

Monday, the night before Elder Selman left we had a really cool Family Home Evening with Dido and Angela, our ward mission leader Pedro, and his family, Alexander, Harold and Elianis.  We talked about everything that has happened in our ward, and in our zone since we’ve been here.  It was a really special evening.  Everyone could feel the spirit, and the power of all the good that has been done in this area was such a testimony of how the Lord has guided us to help his people.  It was really an awesome night.

Wednesday, all the new missionaries arrived.  Wow, there was a lot to get done!  My new companion is Elder Matos.  He’s from Puerto Rico.  He’s been in the mission for 6 months.  This is only his second area, and now his first time as a Zone Leader, I’ll be training him.  
Welcome to Elder Matos from Puerto Rico! 
I’m trying to figure out how to do everything. The stuff required for us to do for migration has been challenging this week. We have 2 new District Leaders.  Everyone in the zone is training.  Pretty much, our whole zone is brand new.  So it’s pretty crazy!  I’m trying to figure everything out, and trying to teach it to Elder Matos at the same time. 

On a spiritual note, Sebastian, is a 10 yr old boy that was baptized this week.  He was the last one in his family to be baptized.  I’m not really a huge fan of teaching and baptizing children in the mission.  It’s not my favorite thing to do, but his whole family are all members, and wanted him to get baptized. So it made sense.  We taught him all the missionary lessons.  He was very timid, didn’t talk too much, and we initially felt kind of weird about his baptism.  But after his baptism, my opinion completely changed.  This week we went to go find him to teach him the new member lessons, but he wasn’t home.  We tried his grandmother’s house, but no luck.  So we went down the street to where his cousins live.  They’re not members of the church.  We walk into the house, and his uncle pulls up a chair and says, "Alright, I want to listen to you guys."  So we introduce ourselves, and start to teach him. When Sebastian arrives, he comes over by us and sits down, and is all of a sudden like the perfect little missionary.  He pulls out his Book of Mormon, and helped us teach his Uncle the lesson on the Restoration.  It was one of the coolest things ever!  He’s only 10 years old.  He had all the right answers. He even taught his Uncle how to pray. We were so happy!

Also, this week, we went to do some service for Miguel and his wife Eliana, in their house.  When we arrived, they were fighting about something. They were in a big huge fight, and were super mad at each other.  So we decided to talk about Charity. : )  We asked Miguel how he would feel about reading a verse from Moroni 7.  And he said, “Honestly, I don’t feel like reading anything, I’m just mad.” So, ok, we didn’t teach for very long.  But we did finish our message, then we shared our testimony about Pride. Then we left them with Moroni 7:40 through the end of the chapter, with a commitment that they would finish reading it together, and have a prayer.  He told us that he couldn’t’ go to church the next day, because he had a big work project, but we said, “Ok, Well, why don’t you pray about it.  Ask God what you should do, whether or not you should go to church tomorrow.” And he said, “Fine. I’ll pray about it.”  As we left, my companion, Elder Matos, said “Whoa, he’s super grumpy.  Who is this guy?”  It was the first time he’s met him.  It’s hard to fill in a new companion of who someone really is.  We have loved teaching them, and there are just so many moments he's missed.  

Anyway, the next day was Sunday and guess who walks in to church?!  You guessed it, Miguel.  He just comes in and sits down like it's totally normal that he's there.   I looked over and got the biggest smile on my face!  It made me SO happy to see him there.  He’s one of those people I just love.  He’s just a regular guy, mad, determined he's always right.  Then we meet with him.  We challenge him, then after we leave, he goes in and prays by himself.  He tests what we’re teaching him to see if it’s any good, or if it’s right. And look what he does—he figures it out, he humbles himself, he overcomes his own pride, and he shows up at church the very next day.  It was awesome. We were super excited about that! 

Thank you Mom for the long list, and long letter. I’ll work on that in my journal.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the list.  It’s pretty unique to think about my future from the perspective I have here, as a missionary, working for the Lord.  Hopefully, when I get home, I will be able to have a plan for my future.  My biggest worry is the whole job thing.  It’s the one massive hang up that has me worried. It’s the only thing I have no idea on what I want to do.  I’m working on some future plans, but this time on the mission is the best time to think about what comes next.  I’d rather make future decisions here, while I have the spirit, and less distractions, then wait until I get home.  Thank you so much for your letters.  I hope you guys are doing great.

I love you,
Elder Burk


This week, I have a really funny story— (Mother note: *only boys think this stuff is funny, Moms think it’s horrifying, so sad, and absolutely humiliating.  But I’m putting it on his blog anyway, because he’ll want to remember it.)
Elder Matos and I went to a lesson.  We get there, we sit down, and we’re going to teach about the Sabbath Day.  Everything seems normal.  Well, at least Elder Matos acts totally fine all the way there, in the house, and right up until he sat down.  And then he started having stomach problems.  His tummy is rumbling, he’s looking weird, and as we’re teaching the lesson I can tell he’s not feeling so great.  It was obvious he needed to go to the bathroom. He didn’t really say anything, but we end the lesson, and he asks, “Sister do you have a bathroom?”  Unfortunately, we’re outside, and there’s no man in the house, so he can’t go in. So she stalled, and said, there’s no one inside.  We say goodbye, and start walking down the road. 

We get to the next house, and they’re not home.  We head to the last house, which is couple of blocks away, and we end up stopping to contact someone in the street.  I had no idea that this was an emergency type of situation.  So I talk to them, I get their name, their number, and Poor Elder Matos was sitting there stressing out, squeezing his Book of Mormon, he didn’t know what to do, and he didn’t say anything. So finally he says, “I really need to go.”  So we hurry down the road, we get to the last house, a Sister in the ward, and ask her if we can use her bathroom.  She says, “Sure, but it’s occupied right now, but should be free in a minute.” Relieved that we found an option, I step inside.  But as I’m standing on the doorstep, Elder Matos said, “Elder Burk…No...”  I walk in, turn around, and look at Elder Matos.  He won’t come in the house.  So I walk towards him.  I still hadn’t caught on to the full picture of what was going on, but I turn around and go outside to see what’s wrong, and I ask, “What are you trying to say?”  I walk out, take a deep breath, and whoa, I smelled it.  There was no longer a question in my mind of what had happened.  My new companion had the worst possible scenario…yep,  all down his leg, in his pants, and there you go.  Oh man.  It was so bad.  Let’s just say, He dirtied the covenant.  I just couldn’t contain myself.  I seriously started laughing outloud.  I was so glad it wasn’t me!  So…yeah… we waddled back to the house, let him get all cleaned up, and were able to make it to a different visit.  Wow.  That was memorable.  Pretty awesome.  Ha!  (SO…glad it wasn’t me, oh man. Poor Elder Matos. He’s never going to live this one down.  Never.)

Dad and Braden listening to Mason's voice recording from this week.  Oh man, we all have so much empathy for poor Elder Matos.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Ode to Elder Selman"

Monday, August 1, 2016

This week has been crazy.  Lots of things happening.  Elder Selman is going home.  

There are going to be a lot of missionaries leaving from our zone this transfer.  There are going to be two new district leaders, I’m going to be training a new companion to be a zone leader, and there will be a lot of new people transferred into our zone. It’s a bit crazy thinking about so much change. It is actually really sad.  I’m going to really miss Elder Selman. He’s really awesome. 

Our Zone
 These last four months have been a such a fun time.  We’ve had the chance to get to know each other really well, and have grown as a companionship, as we’ve gotten to know the Lord through study and prayer.  We've learned so much while teaching others.  It’s going to be very sad to see him go.  It feels a bit surreal.  I feel like I'm watching it all through a window, like it's not real.  

It’s strange to watch someone end their mission.  It’s crazy to think there is actually an end to this journey.  Up until now, there really hasn’t been an end, or a life after. My whole life has been preparing to serve a mission, and I’m finally here.  Anything after a mission has never really been on a to-do list.  Now, watching him get ready to go home has made me think that this time won’t last forever.  So I need to keep going, keep running, doing all I can before it's over.  I don’t want any down time to let Satan get in and mess things up.  

I’ve learned so much from Elder Selman.  I’m sitting here on my bed thinking about the time we’ve served together, and I’ve opened up the scriptures to Moroni 10:21 “Except ye have Charity, ye can in no wise be saved in the kingdom of God. Neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith. Neither can ye if ye have not hope.” I hope that’s right in English.  I think this is one of the biggest things I’ve learned from Elder Selman, his example of living a life of true Charity.  Loving people without a reason to love, seeing people for who they are, and loving men for what they can become.  Loving the progress of people and trying to help them grow.  He’s been such a great example. 

This week is really bitter sweet.  We’ve had a lot of good-byes and pictures.  We had two baptisms this week, Sister Angela and Sebastian, the last child in his family to get baptized.  We rescued his mother when she came back from Santa Marta.  She became active in the church again, and he is now getting baptized.  The baptismal service was so sweet!  There were over SEVENTY people in attendance.  For this mission, and this area, that is a lot of people at a baptism.  There are some wards that don’t even have 70 people in them.  The ward leaders took over and helped a lot with planning and running the whole thing.  It was so exciting! 
#Splashparty Angela's Baptism, Sebastian's Baptism
Elder Selman's last Baptismal Service on his mission.
aka. grand finale
Angela was baptized by her husband Dido.  Sebastian was baptized by his uncle. And there was an 8 year old member baptism from the ward and he was baptized by his father Jorge Dias, who is so funny.  He’s one of my favorites. He’s got this tiny white car that he drives around and tells funny jokes, we call him the 'bulldog' in ward council.  We finished the week really strong.  We worked our hardest to make it happen for Elder Selman to finish his mission at his very best.  We are really happy with how things went.

I love you guys.  Have a great week!

Elder Burk

 "super atractivo Elder Selman"  He'll be missed.

Ok, Mom, a little side note, between you and me...  
Braden and Madelyn at the Callister Family Reunion
I’m a little bit confused and a little bit hurt here, I don’t know what to do about Braden’s haircut??!
It’s kind of making me worried as his big brother.  It’s a little bit… how do I say this nicely, It’s really weird!  It’s kind of a little like Justin Beiber.  I’m really questioning what’s going on at home??!
I hope you guys are eating enough meat.  Are you letting him listen to country music??!  I hope everyone is watching out for Braden.  We really want him to go on a mission and get married…to a girl.  So if there is anything going on, or if I should write him a letter, I hope you’ll let me know.  Yeah…so, love you guys. 
Hope everyone else is doing great. 

Bye Mom.