Monday, December 28, 2009

Dec. 28 Merry Christmas!



Hey Mom and Dad-

It was so much fun getting to talk to you guys on Christmas. I was so happy all day. It was great getting to talk to the rest of the family as well. You will be happy to know that i did end up getting your package. It was in the front office and was probably there since wednesday. Thank you so much for everything. You got me way too much! I love you guys. It was nice getting a second Christmas to open presents. The sweater is perfect and all the snacks and gift cards you sent saved me this month because i have very little money left on my mission card. Thank you so much.

I ended up buying one pair of nicer slacks today for $50 and a good pair of shoes for a little over $60. I will now be able to last for the next four months, so thank you for that as well.

It is so wierd that my last I dont have any more phone calls! It feels life all of a sudden everything is going light speed now that the holiday season is pretty much over. Talking about school on the phone was just so wierd. Am i going to survive in the real world? Am i going to be a huge dork? Oh well if i am. I will just find a dorky girl in New York somewhere. I AM JUST KIDDING! But seriously, i am so excited to see you guys and spend some time at home. It is going to be hard to leave here though. I honestly dont care very much about the plane ride home. I would actually rather sit next to you guys. Seriously, i mean it.

Well, i dont have too much more to talk about, seeing that i already pretty much talked to you about everything just a few days ago. This week was a good week. We found a few new investigators, and one of them seems really solid. I gave a talk at church this last sunday as well. I hope you guys have a great week. I love you so much! Be safe and wear your seatbelts when your driving!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dec. 21

Hey guys!

You havent gotten my letter yet? I sent it off on Thursday so hopefully you will get it today. Sorry you had to call the mission to get my adress, i wrote it down on the letter i wrote and i was hoping it would get to you by Saturday.

Anyways, i wrote all the details of last week in the letter that you will most likely be getting today. The new area is great. It has alot of potential, i am just trying to endure until next tranfer................. I guess the leadership in the Mobile hasnt been very strong in the past few months and that has made an impact on the whole Zone. I am just trying my hardest to think of ways i can help some of these missionaries make changes. Its really hard for me after working so hard in Fort Walton and Troy, to see missionaries who just kind of do things their way. If i have learned anything from my mission, it is the fact that if you are shooting for anything less than exact obedience, you will not be guided by the Spirit; and if you are not guided by the Spirit, then you cannot have real success in the work. So anyways, thats why the adjustment was a little difficult here. But, things have gotten alot better. My companion is getting more and more motivated every day, and our Zone had one of the best weeks they have had in months this week. So things are picking up. I really enjoy getting to work with President Summerhays. He seems alot more open with the zone leaders. In my interview, he told me alot of things about the Zone, and gave me alot of encouragment to help make changes in some of the areas. I cant wait for you guys to meet President.

This week was so much better than last week. I talked to ...(the other elders)....told them what i wanted out of my mission and asked for theirhelp, and( they) have made alot of changes and are working alot harder. We have done alot of tracting, but still dont have anyone too solid that we are teaching. I have had some really great studies that have altered the way i look at things in my life. I finished marking my last Book of Mormon in August and started another one. I am marking the Blessings and Conditions again. That book has been such a source of strengh for me throughout my mission.

As far as my responsibilities go, all we really have to do is help the missionaries in the Zone to be motivated and be examples for them. We go on alot of trade-offs with younger missionaries and help them in their teaching and finding efforts. We conduct the meetings at Zone Conferences, but President does the main bulk of the Training. Also, every month we have Zone Leader Council in Crestview where we receive leadership training from President on how to encourage and help the missionaries in our Zones. There really isnt too much more than that. Its fun. I actually really like helping the othe Elders. I have served with or around a few of them in this Zone earlier on in the mission, so it is fun to work with them again.

So yeah, that is pretty much it. Ill be able to talk to you more about all the details on the phone in FOUR DAYS!!! I am so excited to talk to you guys. I wont be calling early to set up a time, I will just call you early in the morning like last time and set everything up. Ill probably call around 7 or 8 pm my time. I have so much to talk to guys about, i can hardly wait:) I will write things down this week. I have been religiously writing in my journal over the past 5 months as well so i will have that by me when i talk to guys. We are going to have district meeting on Christmas morning, then we are going to the Soup Kitchen to feed the homeless. I am looking forward to that. After that, we are going to The Shlamers for either lunch or dinner and they said we can just use their phones. We will find out exactly what time we are going over there and i will let you know Christmas morning. The rest of the day, when i am not talking to you guys, we will most likey be tracting. I hope you write stuff down too so that you dont forget anything!

I think the package you sent will be fine. We have a pretty secure mail box that you need a key to get into; and if it is too big for the drop off box, our apartment is on very botton floor of the building and is pretty much the only one down there. Its pretty secluded, so i think the package will be fine, even if they just drop it off.

I promise to be careful over the next ew months, but you guys have to promise to be careful when you go up Skiing. That is going to be so much fun. Did you get to Ski at all last year?

Well, i will stop now so that i will have something to talk to you about on Friday. I love you guys. Please be careful traveling this week. I love you so much. Tel everyone i said hi and i cant wait to talk to them!!!!!!!!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dec 14, 09

Hi mom and Dad:)

The computers have been the most frustrating thing ever today! I wrote you guys two emails and i am not sure if either of them ended up going through, so this is my last attempt. I actually need to go, but i am going to write you a letter when i get home and send it off in the mail tomorrow. I love you guys so much! I am so sorry!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dec 8, 2009

Dec 8, 2009

Hey Mom and Dad-

`This week as been a good week, we have been doing a lot of tracting lately. For a while there it seemed like we had a ton of really promising investigators but they all seemed to have fallen through the cracks lately, except Jenny of course. So we have been looking through our records and doing a lot of prayer and fasting so that we can find more people to teach. Its been kinda tough, but the Lord has definitely helped us out. We had about 3 days this week of non-stop tracting and did not find a single person. By the time Friday came around we were getting pretty discouraged. Then at Zone Conference on Friday we ended up getting a referral from President Summerhays and another referral from Head Quarters. Then on Saturday we got another referral from head quarters. So we are pretty excited to go see them this week.

Jenny is still set for this Saturday. She is so excited. I don’t think her parents are going to come, but she said she is fine with that. It really is one of the best Christmas gifts I could ask for. She is so solid in her testimony. She just had her baptismal interview last night and we have the whole thing all planned out and ready. Ill make sure and take some good pictures.

Thank you so much for the camera!! Oh my gosh, you really didn’t have to get me such a nice one! Seriously, thank you. I love you guys so much. I went ahead and bought another memory card for like $15 so I hope that’s ok. Both memory card were in the other case that got stolen. The cool thing about this camera is that I can put other memory cards into it and just copy their pictures to the internal hard drive of the camera and then just copy them from the internal hard drive back to my own memory card. I hope that makes sence. It makes things much easier. And the good thing about that is that a lot of the p-day district pictures that I lost, I now have them back because Elder Hill had a lot of them on his camera. So im way excited about that.

Im ok as far as presents go, really, I guess the only other thing I would want is pictures. Even just pictures of the house, and the back yard, and the animals, and that kind of stuff, and of course pictures of the family would be awesome too. And if there are any good talks that you like, you could always print of some of those.

I don’t really have too many fun stories from this week. Zone conference was probably the best thing. I love the spirit that is always there with all the missionaries and President Summerhays. I always look forward to the interviews that I have with him. Seriously, this man is inspired. Every time I talk to him it seems like he knows my exact thoughts, because he always says the exact things I need to hear. I cant wait for yall to meet him.

Oh yeah, I guess another thing I would like is some more Juice Plus pills. I finished them off a long time ago. Seriously, you guys would be so dicusted if you looked inside our fridge. Members just keep making us cakes and pies and cookies. And then after zone conference, we got stuck with all the left ove deserts. We have 3 huge cakes, 3 full pies, about 200 homemade cookies, a batch of brownies, and a tub of ice cream. And then of course our main course meal when we don’t go to a members home for dinner consists of Spagettios and either microwave corn dogs or taquitos. So yeah, those juice plus pills would be nice haha.

That’s fun that you went up to Boppa and Colleen’s. That dinner story made me laugh really hard haha. When is the last time yall went to the lake house? Your probably pretty busy lately with work and with getting ready for Christmas. I am getting so excited to call home. The pre-call to set it up will either be the Monday before Christmas (our p-day) or on Christmas eve. We still need to figure that out, I will let you know next Monday.

Anyways, I love you guys with all my heart. Is there any kind of trinkets that you or the kids would like for Christmas? Mom and Dad, I love you and miss you so much. I hope you know how happy I am out here. I love my mission. It means everything to me there is no where else in the world that I would rather be. I just wish you guys were here to share these experiences with me. I love you Mom! I love you Dad! Merry Christmas!!!!

Love,
Elder Joshua Burnham

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dec.7 I'm going to be a zone leader in Theodore



Hey Mom and Dad-

We just got tranfer information, and i am going to be a Zone Leader over in Theodore, Alabama. I am actually a little bit surprised right now. I thought i would be here for at least another transfer and i definately never thought i would be go zone leader on my mission. It will all be ok though. I am going to be serving with Elder Fox. I have heard a little bit about him and he seems like a really good missionary. One of the cool things about leadership is that i dont have to worry about serving with a missionary that doesnt want to work at all, so thats good. I am really going to miss Troy though. There has been so many good people out here. Ed is probably the one i will miss the most. He is one of the miracles that i have witnessed on my mission. His wife mary is slowly coming around. She is so sweet, and Ed has a very strong feeling that one day they will be sealed in the Temple. There are some other really great people too that are going to go really far, and i am a little sad that i dont get to teach them any more; but at the same time, i am pretty excited to go to Theodore. Theodore is in the Mobile Zone. It is probably going to be the most Southern place i have been in so far. From what i hear, there are alot of ghettos out in that area, but i will be careful , dont worry. I am guessing this will be the final area of my mission.

This week has been good. We did alot of service for this less-active family by putting up their Christmas lights. Tracting and Contacting didnt produce too much success this week, but we were still able to find a few people. We had a really great lesson with Dora and her family on Tuesday. We approached it a little bit differently this time. Instead up going in and just teaching a specific lesson, we started off by asking, " what questions do you have about God?" It went so well. Each question that was asked was so profound. The Spirit was working through everyone in the room, inspiring each member of the family with the questions they should ask. Then instead of us just answering there questions right away, we asked, "Well, what do you feel the answer is?" Because of how strong the Spirit was in the room, each person was giving true doctrinal answers to their own questions. Even the 11 year old boy that was their asked the question, "well if God created us, then who created Him?" It was a really great night. Later on in the week we had a really good lesson with Ed as well. He was telling us about his first revelatory experiences that he has had since he has been baptized. He recieved two very strong answers this week that the Church is the one true Church. The testimony that he bore of those experiences in that lesson was so powerful, and helped to root my own testimony even deeper of the truth of this work.

It sounds like you have a fun few days with Parker. I am so excited to see all the kids. I am also really excted to see the dogs, as lame as that sounds. I laughed when i read about sadie getting all freaked out from the heater and then climbing in bed with you. She is so funny.

I thought of a couple things i could use out here. I could use a black sweater. I know express has black sweaters that fit me pretty good. I could also use some gloves. Just some thin normal cotton or wool ones. It is getting really cold out here. Just yesterday it dropped to 24 degrees and was supposed to snow, but it never did. For now those are thonly things i can think of.

I am sorry there is not much more to write about. We had some other lessons throughout the week and some doors slammed in our faces, and some cookey people we talked to, but i always feel like i am boring you when i write the little details that dont really matter. I am a little nervous right now to leave Troy and go to Theodore. Leadership scares me because i still feel like i dont know anything about it. But it will be a good change. I know the Lord will fill in for my weaknesses and give me the strength i need. He has done it for the past 20 months, so why would he stop now?

I love you guys so much. Christmas is going to be great. I cant wait to talk to you. Tell everyone that i love them!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nov. 30, 2009 A good Thanksgiving

Mom and Dad-

Wow, it seems like there is alot going on back home right now, or at least there is a lot that is on your minds. That is so cool that you went out to the Ranch and fixed up the road ranger. It has been way to long since we have been up there. That is a really good idea that you guys had about keeping your RV there. How far away is Shawnas place from the ranch again?

It sounds like you had a good Thanksgiving. Thursdays are usually our weekly planning days, so our Thanksgiving started off with Planning until around 11:30. Then after that we went and had our first meal with An investigator named Dora and her family. There are about 10 of them that we are currently teaching and they are a very classic southern family, so yes the food was the greasiest of greasy. We had turkey, collard greens, brocolli casarolle, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, rolls, and all kinds of desert. I was extremely full. They are really great people and they made us feel right at home. So right after we left there, we had promised a less-active little old southern white lady named Big that we would go over and eat with her family. I was already about to throw up, but i had to lossen the belt, and go for another Thanksgiving meal. Big had cooked almost all of the same stuff as Dora, only everything seemed to be alot greasier. I had to be polite and fill my plate full of food, and of course Big forced us to eat tons of desert. All three of us left Bigs house about ready to die. We road bikes for the rest of the day though so that helped to keep us from falling asleep. The rest of our Thanksgiving day was good. We just knocked on doors for the rest of the day, but didnt really have too much success beacause it seemed like everyone was out of town for the holidays.

The rest of the week went really well. We got a refferal from a member in the Branch to go see this guy named Chris who is a student here at Troy University. It turns out this guy is very smart is really open to religion. The first lesson with him went so good, and he agreed with everything we talked about. We invited him to church, and he ended up driving out to Dothan which is an hour away and buying all new church cloths because he didnt have any. We are really excited about him. We have some other really solid people we are teaching right now as well.

I got your letters in the mail today. Thank you so much. I really appreciated that. I signed that paper and it is going in the mail today. I didnt really understand what it was though. Was it just qualifying me for Student aids or loans or something?

I cant really think of anything that i really want for Christmas. There are some little things that i have been wanting that i havent had the money for, but i can live them. I was looking for something to whiten my teeth before i go back home, dad, and i was wondering if you knew what worked best. I know that you can by different kinds of whitening strips from walmart, and my companions have said that they work pretty good. Do you know if those work? Anyways, i guess that is one idea for you of what i could use. As far as cloths go, i am tryind to wear everything out before the end of the mission. All my pants and Shirts are holding up pretty good, and i think i will be able to hold off until home. Shoes are the only things i am a little concerned about. The Bostonians that i got before i came out have almost had enough. They are starting to fall apart. I have been wearing another Elders shoes that went home a tranfer ago and those have been working out pretty good. So i think i will be fine for another 4 months, and i am not just saying that. I think i would rather by a new pair later than get a new pair now and wear them out before i get home. Dang, i am sorry that i am so lame. I really just need to think of stuff i need, i am sorry i am so difficult around Christmas time. Is there anything that you guys would like? Any souveniers or anything? I promise i will try and think of more things i need.

Well, im sorry that i have just written the most boring letter ever. I need to go email president now. I love you guys so much. Thank you for eerything!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nov 23, 2009 Teaching Dora and her family-Time is going at light speed

Mom and Dad-

Thank you for those adresses. I am pretty sure that i sent letters to both Chad and Shawna about a month ago that went to the wrong adresses. Oops. So you guys had a dull week huh? Im sorry to hear that. Why did you end up taking the house off the market? I really hope you didnt do it for me! That will be nice though, to come back to a place that i am actually familiar with. That will be fun to have Katey and Keegan home for Thanksgiving. Is the ward doing any kind of turkey bowl or anything? That really stinks that Katey has Mono. I hated that so bad! Yeah hopefully nobody else catches it.

We have a couple Dinners lined up for Thanksgiving, so that we be nice. At 12pm, we are going over to an investigators house to eat with this huge family of like 10 people that we found last week. Its a pretty cool story. We knocked into this lady named Dora, and we taught her for about 5 minutes. She told us that she wanted us to come back in a few days, but we werent really sure how sincere she was beacause she seemed like she was pretty set in her ways. We went back a few days later for our appointment, and when we pulled up, we saw that there were a ton of people at her house, and a bunch of them were dressed pretty nicely. There door was opened so we could see inside that there was alot of people there. We figured that they had forgotten about our appoinment and were haveing some kind of party or something, but as we walked up to the house, Dora came outside and said that She had been waiting for us. When we went inside, there were about 12 people sitting down on the couches and on the floor and they were all waiting for us to come teach them! I guess Dora has a bunch of extended family, and she called them all up and told them to come over to listen to us. So as we taught, every single person there was participating and asnwering questions. It was so awsome. The lesson was really good and the Spirit filled the room. After the lesson, they asked us if we went home on the holidays to be with our families; when we told them we didnt, they told us that we were going to go to their place for Thanksgiving. And they are white! whoo whoo! So that was a cool experience that we had this week.

For a while there, we were having a really hard time finding anyone to teach, but recently, all of the knocking on doors has paid off. We recently were able to find a guy who is about our age named jared. We ran into him a couple weeks ago and he told us to just give him a call because he would be really busy that week. We left him with a Chapter to read from the Book of Mormon, but we figured that would be the last we heard from him because that is what most people say when they just want to get rid of us. So we ended up calling him this last tuesday, and he had read the chapter we left him, and had prayed about it, and wants to continue taking the lessons. He is a really smart guy who is a business major here at Troy University. He came to church yesterday and really enjoyed it, so we are very excited about the things that have been going on lately. We really have been so blessed here in Troy.

Lately, i have been thinking alot about how scarey it is to be going home in less than 5 months. I feel like i still have so much more to learn, and not even close to enough time to learn it. I dont think i am going to be ready to go home in April! I have been studying alot lately out of the Christ like attributes chapter out of Preach my Gospel, and i have come to the conclusion that i dont have any of them! Who is going to want to marry me?! I have been in a week long study of Charity and have been trying to apply it everyday. I am going to do that with every attribute in Ch. 6 of Preach my Gospel and hopefully it will help. As you can tell, i am starting to get stressed out because it seems like time is all of a sudden going light speed and i dont have anough time to do anything. Do you guys have any advise for me?

I think i want to get started with School as soon as possible when i get back, but i also dont want to overload myself, because i want to have some time with the family over the summer as well. That is pretty crazy that Alison is getting married, and Kevin too! What the heck? What is the guys name that Megan Groch is dating again? You said he was an AP in this mission?

Sorry that this letter was so scattered. I have alot on my mind lately. It is going to be so refreshing to be able to talk to you guys next month about everything. I am having the time of my life right now. Sometimes it is hard for me to put in words the feelings i have about my mission, so it will be nice to talk to you on the phone about it all.

I cant really think of anything that i need for Christmas. I think i am just going to try to make everything last until the end. My pants, shirts, and shoes are all starting to fall apart, but i think they will make it. I am sorry again that my letters arent better, i can never express how i feel very well. JUst know that i love you guys so much. Thank you for everything!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov 16, 2009 Powerful impressions on the power of prayer

Hey guys!

Mom, i hope you know that i have remembered your Birthday all week and i wasnt able to get a letter out until Today. I almost got you a card last monday, but then i felt bad and i ended up not buying it because it wouldnt have been too appropiate. You would have laughed though. So i ended up just printing some pictures off and wrote a small letter. I hope that is ok. There really wasnt too much to get for you in Troy. But anyways, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Sorry i am a day late. Did you guys end up doing anything exciting?

I am glad to hear that everything worked out well with Boppas party. Sounds like Parker is trouble. I am so excited to get to know him better. I am also so excited that Mom was able to find that video of Switzerland. How long was that video? I am excited to see all of our relatives. Do you think you will ever go back?

Thank you so much for those pictures. Julie is so old! What the heck?! Ryan still looks pretty much the same, I love it!

That is cool that Ray and Brett are both doing up at school. Our new companion Elder Barney went to LDS Business college and says that he really liked it. I dont even want to think about it yet. The more i think about it, the more i just get scared. Life is so good right now because i only have to focus on one thing every single day. I feel like there is going to be so many things to worry about when i get home! It will be good though.

This week has been really good. We havent had very many really solid investigators lately, so we have been doing alot of knocking on doors and contacting people on the street. This week has been pretty succesful. A huge part of it has been prayer. A couple weeks ago, i realized my prayers were starting to get pretty repetitious. So the next morning i had some really powerful impressions about the importance of prayer. Ever since that experience, i have been keeping a Prayer and answer Journal that has helped me so much lately. I have never in my life felt the reality of personal revelation so strongly. A huge influence on me was the Talk that Elder Scott gave in the first session of this last conference. I went back and read it, and it really hit home for me the importance of recieveing personal revelation. In the past week, i have recieved personal instruction that has helped me so much in the work and with my companions. I found i really cool scripture yesterday that gave me alot of comfort about Boppa. When i was in sunday school, one of the Chinese recent converts asked a question that made me think about Nonna and Boppa. He said, "Will my family have the opportunity to recieve the fulness of the Gospel even if they encountered it but did not accept it in this life?" When he asked that, i started to flip through my scriptures and i came across a verse in Moroni 7 that stuck out to me. In V.47 it says," But Charity is the pure love of Chrsit, and it endureth forever; and WHOSO is found possesed with it at the last day, IT SHALL BE WELL WITH HIM. Boppa was one of the most kind, loving, and fun people to be around. He was charitable. And it says whoso has Charity at the last day, it shall be well with them.

Tracting has been interesting lately. We have found alot of really solid people, but also alot of crazies. The drunk people are always the best. We had a guy the other day invite us into his home who was out of his mind. He kept going back and forth into the other room and we thought he was going to come out with a gun or something. We finally got him to sit down and we talked with him for a little bit. He said he knew he had a problem and that he wanted to quit drinking. We told him that the only way he could overcome his addiction is if he acted right now and threw all his alchohol out. He told us he would quit after he finished it all; so we told him we couldnt help him then. After talking about it for a little bit, Elder Barney cracked his neck, and the man jumped up off his chair and yelled, " i can break your neck for you!" He grabbed elder Barneys face and from what it looked like was about to break his neck! Elder Barney is a pretty big guy so he smacked the guys arms out of the way and We pulled the guy away. We felt that that was probably our key to leave. We have some wierd experinces like that everyday. Troy is a very interesting place.

Anyways, i am probably getting boring, and i need to go email President. Is there anything i can do for you guys? Do you want any souveniers or anything from Alabama? I am so excited to talk to you guys on Christmas. I love you so much!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nov 9 2009 Powerful interview with the President

Hey Guys!

It sounds like things are going good back home. Julie is already 8 years old? That is crazy. I am so excited to see those kids. Was Julie excited for her baptism? I wish i could have been there for that.

We had another good week this week. We had Zone conference in Dothan on Friday and then Stake conference in Dothan on Saturday and Sunday. This Zone Conference was one of the best ones that i have had so far on my mission. I recieved alot of really cool personal insights, and answers to alot of questions that i have had. At every conference, we get an interview with President which is probably my favorite part of the whole conference. In this last interview, President told me some things that struck me pretty deeply. After a few minutes of us talking, i asked President, "How is it, that even though you have to interview over 150 missionaries a week, it always feels as though when we are talking, i am the the only missionary that matters to you most right at that moment. It always feel like everything you say is so personal and tailor fitted to only me." President then told me, "That is the miracle of it, I feel the same way. When i interview each missionary, it is as if they are the only missionary that exhists right at that moment." Your probably wondering why i am telling you this. I recieved an answer in that interview to a question that i have had for my entire life. I have always wondered how it was possible for Christ to really know each of our individual pains, when he had to suffer for billions of others. I always thought that it was just a blend of everybodies pains and sicknesses all at once. When President said that he was able to feel in each interview Gods individual love for that missionary, and that noone else right at that moment even mattered, i recieved a personal witness of how the Atonement of Jesus Christ works. When Christ was in Gethsemane, and he suffered the pains and afflictions of every single person who ever lived, i feel very strongly there was a time set apart where he was able to only experience my personal pains, weaknesses, and sins; and at that moment, it was as if noone or nothing else mattered than that personal experience between the Savior and I. That probably didnt make any sence in words, but that experience changed my outlook on th Atonement of Christ, and the Tailored, individual love that he has for each and every one of us.

Anyways, The rest of the week was pretty good. We have been finding alot of people, but none of them have been keeping their commitments. We dont have too many solid investigators right at this moment, so we are doing alot of tracting to try and build our teaching pool. Although we are kind of in a drought right now, i am still loving every moment, of every day. The closer i am getting to the end of my mission, the more i am loving every experience that i have. Elder Bond and Elder Barney are both great. This is the highlight of my life right now serving in Troy.

Has anything happened with the house yet? I still have no idea what i am going to do for school. In my next interview with President Summerhays, i am going to ask him if i can go online on P-day and see what is available in Utah. I know he usually tells the missionaries who are going home soon to do that anyways. Do you have anymore ideas?

I have still been eating pretty good and i am on a pretty good exercise routine each morning with my companions. We have been waking up at around 6:10am everymorning doing pushups, sit ups, and then running 1-2 miles. I am planning on looking like Brad Pitt when i get off the airplane, so dont be suprised when you see me.

I hope everything is going better back home. Mom i was really worried about you last. I hope everything is going ok. From this last email it seems like your alot happier. I love you guys so much. Thank you for everything. This next Spring is going to be so much fun. I just really hope i am not a wierdo when i go home! I LOVE YOU! Have a great Week, and i will talk to you guys next month!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

P.S.- There is a huge storm right on course with Fort Walton right now! Troy is still expected to get tons of rain. Im not sure if its a hurricane or a Tropical storm though.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nov.2, 2009 My Mission mean everything to me...


Hey guys-

Im sorry that things are still pretty difficult. I really wish that there was something i could do. That will be nice going up and being with the whole family. I really wish that Uncle Ron and everyone could just understand what the truth really is. I cant even imagine not having the Gospel during trials like these. Mom that is really cool that you were able to bear your testimony to Ron.

This week was another good one. Elder Ringwood from the Seventy came down for a mission conference on Thursday and we had a very powerful meeting with him. He was the one who spoke in General conference about experiencing a change of heart. All of the meetings and Zone conferences that we have are pretty much just giant revelatory study sessions. President generally starts with a certain topic, reads a scripture about it, and then just asks us how we feel or what we are thinking. He doesnt ever just preach to us, he just lets the Spirit take the conferences where they are supposed to go. Elder Ringwood followed that same pattern and it was a great meeting.

Our new companion is a pretty cool Elder. His name is Elder Barney. He is a hard worker and is really easy to get along with, so thats good. This is my first 3-some of the mission so it will be interesting to see how it works out. We have had some good laughs so far. I feel like you guys probably think i dont even have a sence of humor anymore because all the things i ever write about are so serious. I promise i am still human.

We are teaching some really cool people right now. Ed is still on fire. He has been so much happier since his baptism. He is getting really excited about doing baptisms for the dead.

That is the coolest idea for Boppa. I cant wait to go to the Temple next year with all of the family. That will be such a great experience. I cant wait to go right when i get back as well. I feel like i have been deprived of the temple out here. Maybe we can right when i get home, before i get released.

What are you guys going to do for Thanksgiving? Does the Ward still do the turkey bowl or anything fun like that? Is Bishop Madsen still the Bishop? Is President Burnnette still the Stake President? I keep feeling like there are going to be all these huge changes when i get back, but then again, it has only been a little over a year and a half. This last tranfer was a bit wierd for me. My original MTC group that i came out with the first time went home this past Tranfer. And also, the sister missionaries that i came out with this time, just went home as well. I dont feel like i have been out here for as long as i have! I am down to the last 5 months of my mission, and i dont know where it all went. Mom and Dad, i want you to know, that my mission means absolutely everything to me. I really cant even put it into words. There is nothing that i could say, that would do Justice to how I feel. It just means everything to me. I have been able to see little glimpses of my future and blessings that are in store, and i am convinced that my mission has set me on a path of happiness that i would not have ever found if i had not served. Mom and Dad, Thank You. I could not repay you enough in a single lifetime for what you have done for me. I LOVE YOU. I hope Katey, Shawna, and Chad know that i feel the same way about them. They impacted my life more than they know. I LOVE our family.

Sorry i didnt have much to write this week. Tell me if there is anything i can do for you guys. I love you so much!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oct. 26, 2009 Boppa's Passing

When President called and told me what happened, he said that he had some Glorious, but a little bit sad news. Thats exactly what kind of news it was. Yeah, it is a little bit sad, but a whole lot more glorious. He is now on the path of progression with Nonna and does covered with the veil of unbelief anymore. President told me alot of really interesting things concerning the conversion process in the spirit world. He told me that Boppa is watching everything that i am doing out here and that that is softening his heart in preparation to recieve the Gospel. That gave me alot of comfort. How great is the Plan of Salvation! There is not a doubt in my mind that Chad is absolutely right, that Nonna was just waiting for him so that she could bear her testimony of the truths she had been taught. I think that She when she heard the Doctors say that he had another week or two, she was the impatient one and hit him over the head with the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful truth. We have nothing at all to fear or to be sad about. There are so many ancestors that were just waiting to surround with loving arms and with the truths of the Gospel. I think Eternity is summed up best in these words,
"There is no end to virtue,
There is no end to might,
There is no end to wisdom,
There is no end to light,
There is no end to union,
There is no end to youth,
There is no end to priesthood,
There is no end to truth

There is no end to glory,
There is no end to love,
There is no end to being,
There is no death above."

How great is the Plan of Salvation. Because of Christ, There is no end to happiness. Right at this moment, Boppa is learning eternal truths that will seal him to our family. God will be merciful to him. We all know Boppa's heart. I am just so grateful to KNOW where he is. I love you so much Mom. I hope you know that i was not depressed or sad about the news, i am just excited for him. I love you too Dad. Thank you for taking care of mom:)

We had a great week. Ed Stevens was Baptized on Friday. It was a very powerful experience. Elder Bond Baptized him and i confirmed. I cant wait until you meet him when we come back out here. Now we are going to try and help his wife Mary to find the truth as well. Ed is on a spiritual high right now. He is constantly on LDS.org and ordering ensigns and all sorts of stuff. He really wants a leather bound Quad so i think he is going to order one soon.

We have been doing alot of finding lately. We have found alot of new investigators but alot of them never show for their return appointments. Its been really fun though, just tracting and talking to people all over Pike County. We have gotten lost a few times this week on dirt roads out in the Country just looking for some of our less-active members. This area is very interesting, but i am loving it.

We just got tranfer information today. Elder Bond and I are both staying together and we are Training a new missionary. Its going to be interesting being in a three-some but i think it will be fun. I now officially have 4 tranfers left of my mission. Things are flying by way too fast now. It is almost November. When the Hollidays hit, everything is going to be crazy!

Im glad that you liked President Summerhays. How long did you talk to him for? I had a really good talk with him. He said he really loved talking to you guys. It made me happy that you were able to talk with him. He is the Best!

Well, i hope you know how much i love you guys. Thank you for filling me in on everything. I know Boppa is so Grateful right now for you examples. I love you Mom! I lovMom and Dad-



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Letter Oct. 19 Ed Stevens, I feel very peaceful about everything







Hey guys!

This has been such a good week. Thank you again for all your emails. They really help me so much. Every Monday i feel like i get a new boost from the emails i get from you. It sounds like you you guys had a good week at the lake with Uncle Ron. Thats so good that you were able to spend some time with him. I kepp forgetting that we actually have seadoos now. That is going to be so fun this spring. That is pretty sad that Julie got sick on her birthday. Hopefully she still had a good one. I need to write her and Shawna today and wish them happy Birhdays.

Like i said, we had such a good week. Since we met Ed about two weeks ago, we have met with him almost every day. The first lesson that we had with him, he said that his whole life, he has never been able to feel anything in religion. To him, God was something he could only think of intelectually but could never feel that it was true in his heart. So all of our lessons have been focused around the Book of Mormon and gaining the witness of its truth not just in his mind, but his heart as well. Ever since the first lesson we had with him, he has been progressing at such a rapid pace. In every lesson, there will be moments of silence where Ed will just close his eyes and say that this all feels right. On Wedanesday this week, We had the most powerful lesson that we had had with him up until that point. Long story short, Ed wants to be baptized this coming Friday! Its only been two weeks! We are so excited. I cant wait for you to meet him when we come back out here. He is such a solid guy. In that lesson that we had with him, he again closed his eyes after he decided to be baptized, and we just sat in silence for a couple minutes. When he opened his eyes again, they were tear filled and he said, "I know that this is true. I can finally Feel it." After almost 60 years of searching, Ed has finally found what he was looking for. I love every bit of my mission. There can be nothing more sweet and more rewarding than being an eye witness of the power of God working in someones life.

Then on Saturday night, another really powerful experience happened, only it was a little bit different. Our neighbor, who is an Atheist came over and asked if he could use our laundry. We let him throw his cloths in the wash, and then he left. He came back at around 9:45pm to put his stuff in the dryer and then started to question us. This guy has probably spent the last 5-10 years of his life studying Philosiphy and Physics and all this stuff that is way over my head. He told us that there was no logical need for a God and he used the most complex and fancy language to describe scientifically why there is no God. After about 15 minutes of him giving us this shpeal about how the Book of Mormon and the Bible contain no real evidence, he stopped and let us speak. At this point, Elder Bond and i both felt completely overwhelmed with the Spirit. We sat down, stacked our bibles and our Books of Mormon, and placed them behind us and said, let us tell you what we KNOW. We dont know this from these books, we know this from every bit of our souls. We then Bore testimony of what we KNEW to be true. Then we asked him what he KNOWS. As he began to speak, he started making reference to some other book or person, and we said, No, we just laid our Books aside and told you what we KNOW, we want you to tell us what you KNOW from your heart, not from what you studied. He struggled with this for a minute and there was silence. He realized at that moment that he didnt know what he knew. He then said im not saying that there is no God, i am just saying that i am 99 percent sure there is not God. Than one of us looked at him and said, "Do you even know who you are?" He stayed silent. Then one of us said again, I know exactly who you are." Again, he stayed silent. We could tell by his eyes and knew by the spirit that he started to be afraid. Then one of us said," You know that I know who you are." Elder Bond and i had never felt the spirit of dicernment so strongly than at that moment. Right after that was said, he was completely dumbfounded and he didnt have anything more to say. And right at that moment, the Buzzer for the Dryer went off. He got up, got his cloths out of the dryer, and left our apartment almost without a word. It was a very intersting night.

There were many cool experiences like that this week. I have felt very peaceful about everything and i am just happy. Im sorry that i cant explain things very well in words. That last story propably doesnt make any sence, but at the time it did. I wish i could explain it better.

Anyways, the weather is getting very cold. I pulled out my jackets this week. Is it really still in the 90's at the lake?

I love you guys so much. I dont really know what i need yet as far as Christmas goes. I will think of something. I wont need too much considering i will be home less than 4 months after Christmas. Mom- I love you. Dad- I love you. Thanks for everything:)

Love, Josh

LETTER OCT. 13

Mom and Dad-

That is crazy that someone else is coming in and buying echoe. I really hope they dont turn it into a huge fancy resort. I like it just the way it is. That is good news to hear that the Angels are making it pretty far again. Do you remember that really akward year where that reporter came over to watch the World Series game with us? That is really sad that the webbs are moving to

to san diego. Isnt that going to add another hour or two to get the lake? Are the still going to go very often? I am looking forward to the family trips out there again. This Spring is going to be so great. It is still really wierding me out that i have under 6 months left. This could be my last area, but i have a feeling that i will have one more before i am done. I am hoping that i get to spend Christmas here in Troy with Elder Bond.

Troy is a very interesting place. I am still getting used to it here. I just feel like i am out in the middle of nowhere. The Branch here also does does some wierd things that makes me wonder sometimes. It is so different serving in a branch. It seems like there are alot of the little doctrines and rules that just kind of get brushed aside. Its a little strange, but were working with them. As far as the rest of Troy goes, it is great. Like i said, most of the people here are african american and very friendly. Some of them are a little crazy, but that ok, we get a good laugh sometimes. The other day we were teaching this middle aged black man about prophets, and we were done he said, "Well, the Prophet Martin Luther King Jr. once said....," and then he went on to say some crazy things. So we went back and tried to further explain the exact definition of what a Prophet really is. Then he said, "ok i see, well, In the words of the Prophet Barrak (Obama).....," and after he said that Elder Bond and i had to bite our lips because we almost lost it. The people out here looooooove Barrak, its pretty crazy. Itll be interesting when i get home and i am actually going to have to start caring about what is going on out inthe world, because i dont have a clue about anything that is going on right now.

Our investigators are doing great. Ed, that one guy that i told you about that ran after us, is doing so good. We have met with him almost every day this past week. He is in his 40's and teaches Law over here at the University. He used to be a lawyer but he retired, so he is a very smart person. He is one of the most open minded, and humble people i have taught on my mission. I have never met anyone in the past 18 months as golden as Ed is. The lessons that we have with him are all so powerful and it seems like the spirit works through hime more than it does with us. He loves the Book of Mormon and just cant get enough of it. He has been reading it non stop. He can recognize the spirit in his life and he is just so excited. Alot of things that he has struggled with in the past, he has found answers to in his reading. I am so excited for him! We have some other investigators that are really solid as well, but for now, just pray for Ed, he is the best.

Thank you so much for that package that you sent me:) I really appreciated that. I have been eating the stupid cookies all week. Thank you for your emails as too. I love hearing about everything that is going on back home. I hope everyone is doing well, including the dogs. How is the home ward doing? Has there been any big changes? Any move ins or move outs? I love you guys so much and i miss you too! But we will talk on the phone in just a couple months so i am looking forward to that. I love you!!!

Love, Josh


Monday, October 5, 2009

Oct 5, 09 plus pictures! Meeting Ed





Hey Mom and Dad!

It sounds like you guys had another great week. That stinks that it was all windy at the lake. It sounds like Parker and Blake are so much fun to have around. I hear California is still all on fire. Is there any fires that are close to our house?

This week was great. I have actually been sick for most of the week, but it only slowed us down for a day or two. I have just been coughing like crazy. We drove up to Dothan Alabama and got some antibiotics and since then i have been feeling better. There were alot of cool little miracles that happened this week. We set some pretty hi goals at the begining of the week, so when i got sick, we were worried that we wouldnt be able to reach them because we also knew that Saturday and Sunday would be pretty busy with General Conference. So by the end of the week on Sunday, we only had 3 out of the 8 investigators that we had set goals to find. So on Saturday night, we prayed that miracles would happen and that we would find 5 new investigators on sunday to reach our goals. So after conference on Sunday evening at 5 pm, we went knocking on doors, and ended up finding 7 new people to teach. It was a really great experience, and just one more tetimony builder for me that the Lord answers prayers.

Another really cool thing happened this week. While we were knocking on doors on Tuesday, we ran into a guy who was a little short with us and said that he didnt want to talk about the Mormon Faith right then. So we went down the street and kept knocking on doors, and after the knocking on one of the doors, the guy that we had talked to previously that told us he wasnt interested came running up the street and apologized and asked us if we could come back and talk with him. The mans name is Ed and he is so golden! The lesson that we had with him was probably the most powerful lesson of my mission. After we sat down in his home, he just started asking us all of these deep heart felt questions like; "How does God look at suffereing? What is the difference between belief and faith? What is the purpose of being here? Do we need to do anything to be saved"? Ed is a very smart man, but he has been looking for answers to these questions through Philosophy and some other recources. He said that he was on the computer trying to find answers to these questions when we came to the door. At first he didnt think anything of it, but then after he told us to leave, he thought alot about how strange it was that we came right when he was searching for thes seemingly impossible to find answers. So that is when he ran and got us. I have never felt the spirit so strongly as we taught him. Thoughts and scriptures came to mind that i had never used in my teaching, and everything we said seemed to just blow his mind. We have taught Ed twice now and he is just eating the Book of Mormon up. He came to the 2nd session of conference on Sunday as well which was Amazing! Was Elder Hollands talk not the coolest talk ever? I thought he was going to give Ed a heart attack! Anyways, we are teaching some really great genuine people here in Troy and i love it.

I cant remember to much more of the week, those were the hilights. I hope you got the pictures i sent. Sorry i didnt label them like i usually do, i didnt have very much time and i wanted to get them sent off like i promised. There wasnt very many of Troy, so i am working on taking some more to send home. If you have any to put on the chip, i would love that:)

Oh yeah you asked about our district; It is only Me, Elder Bond, The Sisters who cover Troy University Campus, and an Older Couple who covers Euphala. I guess i didnt tell you about the other areas that we Elder Bond and i cover besides Troy. We cover a small town called Brundige, and another even smaller town called Goshen. We actually cover all of Pike County so if you Google map that you can so all of the back woods areas we cover as well. We actually spent alot of time this week in these little towns driving on these dirt roads in the middle of nowhere trying to find less-active members. It was way fun.

By the way, it is my 18 month mark this coming Friday! Pretty crazy huh? I could have sworn i just hit my year mark like yesterday. It scares me how fast time is flying by. Christmas is almost here! I feel like there is still so much that i havent learned out here.

K well i should probably get going so i can email President Summerhays. I love you guys so much. Thank you for everything!

Love, Josh

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

JOSH'S NEW ADDRESS

New Address in Troy:

Elder Joshua Joel Burnham
503 E. Elm St. Apt. #5
Troy, AL 36081

Josh's letter Sept 28 09-2nd week in Troy AL



Mom and Dad-

Hey guys! Troy is amazing. That is cool that you are able to google map the area. Like you said, it is a really small area. We actually cover all of Pike county which covers a smaller city called Brundage and all the rural areas round about. We have alot of investigators that live out in the sticks, so it is really interesting to get out and see the real backwood areas. Theres a good mix of white and black here. Most of the community is black, but not all. The cool thing is that there are a ton of Chinese foreign exchange students here, and we are teaching about 5 of them. One of them just got baptized recently, and he speaks a little more English than the rest, so he comes with us and translates. It is so different teaching these chinese students. I am used to teaching people that already have a good knowledge of who God is and what the bible is; but these students have not even heard of God, or the bible! It is so different! But at the same time, it is good because they are so innocent and their minds have not been corrupted with all of the apostate Christian doctrines that pollute the South.

The members here are pretty cool. It is a pretty small branch so things are a little bit different. For instance: They dont allow women to say the opening prayer in sacrament. There are a few other little things that are a bit strange, but its all good. The Branch President seems pretty solid. Right now we are just trying to get the branch re-motivated to do missionary work. We get fed maybe a a few times a week, so its not too bad as far as dinners go. The cooking out here is amazing. We has pan fried stakes the other night that were fried in about 2lbs of butter and grease. My insides have been greased up all week from that one meal.

Elder Bond is really great. Me and him are already best friends. He has only been out for about 4 months, but his teaching skills are amazing and he is the hardest worker i have been with so far on my mission. I have not had any free time at all for the past week. We get in at 9pm, then we plan until about 945, then we have been flagging all of our less-active members in the branch on a giant wall map that we bought, and we do that until about 1015, and by that time we hardly have any time to write in our journals or study or anything. It feels really good to be working so hard. I could not be doing this by myself. The Lord has given me strength beyond my own, and i have felt his presence so strong the past couple weeks. The last couple days, i have actually been pretty sick with a cold, but Elder Bond gave me a blessing a couple days ago, and even though i havnt felt too great, i havent slowed down at all form the sickness.

Like i said, we are teaching some really great people. The Chinese students are all really solid, then we have a lady named Alexas who is progressing every day. Sam and Miriam are probably are most solid. They are a married couple from Kenya who have a little baby boy. Then we also have Jorge, who is a hispanic guy who has read like 20 chapters form the book of mormon in just about a week. The people here are great, we just need to motivate the members to help us by coming with us to appoinments and whatnot.

Thank you for looking up all that information for schools. That will be very helpful. I think President usually starts letting us look that stuff up on our P-days when we are down to around 4 months left. Can you believe that it is almost october? Christmas season is just 2 months away! I wonder if i will still be in Troy when i talk to yall on Christmas? Who knows, but i am excited to talk to you guys. I am also very excited for General conference. We have some investigators coming so that will be good.

The Pictures are being sent in the mail TODAY!!! I am sorry for the lag. I have been so busy, and last P-day went by way too fast. I promise, Today they will be sent. Oh and by the way, can you send me everybodies adresses again? I think i left my adress book in Fort Walton. Anyways, i dont know what else to say. The weather here is still hot and sticky. Today has cooled down a little bit, so hopefully this is the starting point for the faal weather. I love you guys so much! Thank you for everything! I miss you and love you and pray for you everyday.

Love, Josh


LETTER FROM SEPT. 21. First week in Troy, Alabama

Hi guys!!

So i think this is going to be one of the best tranfers of my mission. Elder Bond is a super hard worker and we get along so good. This area is on fire. This week has been so great! My second day here we had one whole entire day of teaching lessons all day long. That has never happened in any of my areas. Troy is alot smaller than any of the areas ive been in so far. I guess there is around 6500-11000 people here but most of them are college students so during the summer and holidays there arent very many people here at all. It is so much different up here in Alabama than anywhere else i have been. I cant really explain, its just different. This whole town just looks like a little piece of down town Baltimore or something. Everything here is really historical.

We are teaching alot of really solid people right now. A few of them are some guys from China that are here for school at Troy University. They dont speak that great of English, but its enough to where they can understand what we are saying. We have 3 investigators with baptismal dates so that will be good. You have no idea how happy i am to be here right now. I feel like all the things that i did in Fort Walton have prepared me for Troy. Elder Bond and i are working so hard together and it feel great. The Lord has been blessing us so much in the short amount of time that i have been here. If i had to compare him to any of my companions it would probably be Elder Taylor, which is wierd because this was where Elder Taylor served for 11 months after he served with me. I have never been happier. I feel like i have said that alot before.

I am ok as far as food goes. I have been eating alot healthier for the past 6 months. I feel alot better as a result so thats good. Sorry i never listened to you mom. Today i felt like a girl; I bought This organic oat cereal, soymilk, carrots, peppers, bannanas, apples, and wheat thins. That was my shopping for the whole week. Oh yeah, my adress is 503 E. Elm st apt. #5 Troy, AL 36081.

That is pretty crazy that are dogs almost got killed by a rattle snake. I would have been very sad, so i am glad they are ok. I just got emails from Brett and Ray. It sounds like they are having alot of fun up there at Snow. I still dont know what i want to do. I will probably go to Provo. That way i can still hang out with with them, i just wont necesarily be right there in Salt Lake city. How is the family doing? Any funny stories? I wrote everyone letters this week so hopefully they will forgive me for being a slacker.

Sorry about the pictures. I was going to send them off, but then i decided to wait until i got to Troy so that you could see the new companion and the new area and everything. You will get peictures this week. I love you so much. Im going to go email President now. Tell everyone i love them!

Love, Elder Burnham


Sept. 14, 2009 Waiting for the Transfer

Mom and Dad-

So we are here at the library but we have not yet received transfer information. So I will just keep writing until I get that email. I am actually pretty nervous, but also very excited. This could end up being my last area, but I doubt it. I will probably have one more after this next one. I definitely wrote Boppa a thank you letter by the way. It was probably 5 or 6 months late, but I definitely wrote one. Its ok though, I know I have been horrible at writing people back. I set a goal for myself a few days ago that I am going to take a couple hours out of every p-day and write everyone in the family, even if it is just a small note. A few nights ago I was laying in bed, and I was overwhelmed with the live that I felt for our family, and after that passed, I was also overwhelmed with guilt for not ever writing anybody in our family. So I am going to start today.

This week was a pretty good week. We spent a lot of time knocking on doors and trying to contact potential investigators that we had found a couple months ago. We didn’t have too much success this week in our finding efforts, but I still felt like we got a lot accomplished. We actually found a couple of people to teach that seem pretty solid. One guy was named Eugene, and he has a wife and a few young kids. He has been looking for a church to settle down in with his family and he said that ours was the only one that he felt peaceful about. So we are excited about him. We are teaching another couple right now who seemed pretty normal at first, but come to find out, they both claim to see spirits on a regular basis. And I guess one was petting my hair in sacrament meeting last week. Pretty weird haha.

We just received transfer information! I am going to Troy Alabama with Elder Bond. From what I here, Elder Bond is a very hard worker and is a pretty cool guy. He has been out for only a few months. Troy is a really small town with a lot of back wood country so I am really excited about that.. Elder Bond and I are going to be co-district leaders so that will be nice to have another person to give trainings with each week. I am so excited right now! I have loved Fort Walton so much, but it is mainly because I have had the most growth here. I have had some really trying experiences, but they have made me more focused and have helped me to rely more on the Lord.

So I am trying to finish the Book of Mormon again by September 30, and im only half way through it. It is so crazy that every time I read it, I get so much more out of it each time. Its interesting comparing to the other paper back copies that I have read and marked. Sorry that I write such boring emails by the way.

Everyone is ready to leave right now and I still haven’t written my email to President yet so I have to go. I love you guys. Pictures will be sent home today! I will talk to you next week all about the new area
Love, Josh

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

letter Sept. 8 Can you pray for a hurricane, Confirmation of Josh W.

Mom and Dad-

Thanks for those pictures. Yeah, they all came in pretty big, but I still enjoyed them. You will definitely have to send some more when you get the chance. I am going to be sending some pictures home this week, sorry that it has taken me so long. I was laughing out loud when Ray wrote about him trying to get in the boat and Brett stomping on his fingers and slashing him in the face. That was so much fun haha. I really miss those guys. I am glad you had a good time at the lake. I bet that was also very fun to go up and see Blake’s baby blessing. Is today Chads birthday? I should probably write him. And where did Brett meet this girl? Tell him to wait 7 months before he gets married or I will be exceedingly vexed.

I had a great week this week. I was able to confirm Josh W. this past Sunday which was a great experience. Earlier in the week, Eler Adam and I were a little bit stressed out because after the last few baptisms we have had, we all of a sudden didn’t have any investigators any more, so we had to start at ground zero and just start tracting all day every day again. But as the week went on, we got 5 investigators, 3 of which are now progressing. One of them, who's name is John Lee, just randomly showed up to church with a less-active member and he says he wants to take the lessons and be baptized. So this week ended up being very good. I am a little sad that all this great stuff is going on and that I am going to miss it all, but I am also excited because I would have felt bad leaving Elder Adam with absolutely no one to teach. This area has done so much for me, it is going to be really hard to leave the ward here and all of our recent converts. I don’t know why the Lord has been so good to me, I really don’t deserve any of these awesome things that have been happening.

So August is officially over and I still have not seen a hurricane. I still have till November, but still, im a little worried that I wont get to survive through a hurricane. We aren’t aloud to pray for them, but it doesn’t say anything in the rules about you guys praying for one, so feel free. Even if its just a category 1 or 2. How was the weather out at the lake this week? I don’t even remember what dry weather feels like.

I have no idea where I am going to go next. I am hoping I get sent to the Dothan area which is up in Alabama. I would like to go to Mobil, but from what I hear, it is not the best area for the Church. Elder Ballard came down for a stake conference a few years back and called Mobil the weakest link in Zion, which is kind of sad. An Elder that I served around a couple months back that is now serving in the Mobil Zone said that the whole stake has only 2% home teaching. So anyways, I wont be too sad if I don’t get sent there. I wouldn’t mind staying in this Zone, although it would be nice to have a change in scenery. The only area that I dread going to is FSU Campus over in Tallahassee. Talk about torturing a missionary. School is now in session and if I had to walk around a college campus every day and talk to girls my age, I might just shoot someone.

Thank you for the Post-card you sent me. Are we really going to have a Burnham – Lindsay Lake Powell reunion?I got so excited when you told me that. Anyways, for some reason everyone finished emailing before me so they are all waiting for me to finish and I haven’t emailed anyone else yet. I love you guys so much. Thanks for everything.

Love, Josh

Monday, September 7, 2009

letter Aug, 24 Teaching Josh, I could not be happier right now

Mom and Dad-

It sounds like you guys had a great week. Have you been able to talk to Ray yet? That is so crazy that you saw Elder Carroll. Yeah we talked a few different times on the phone because we served around all of the same people. He was a pretty crazy missionary from what I hear. Did you talk to him about his mission at all? Im so jealous that you guys all got to go to Lake Powell. I am glad that you had fun.

Our week was very good. We taught Josh Wojtovcz again on Wednesday, and the lesson went amazing. At the end of the lesson we asked him if he had any questions, and he said, “yeah, how do I go about getting baptized?” Elder Adam and I were not expecting that at all, so we are both very excited. He is getting baptized this upcoming Sunday. I could not be any happier than I am right now in my life. Josh, as I told you last week, just got married to an active member of the Church named Annie. They are both 21 years old and are such a cool couple. It has taken Josh 6 years to finally be converted to the gospel. He has been through the lessons before but he always felt like the missionaries were pushing things to hard on him. Anyways, I am pretty sure if you somehow found him on face book, you could just read his conversion story, because he wrote it on his page, and it is pretty cool. All I know is that there is a very real power that comes from reading the Book of Mormon. We asked Josh if he has been searching more in the last couple months than he was before, and maybe that was the reason that he found his answer; but he answered and said no, and said that he had actually been searching less, and that is what confused him. We sat and thought about it for a minute and came to the conclusion found in 2Nephi 32 which talks about planting the seed of faith. For years, Josh had been planting all sorts of seeds but he was disappointed in each of the experiments, so he cast those seeds out. Then he started to Read the Book of Mormon and Pray, which was so much less effort then what he was doing before, and he said some new power immediately entered into his life just from doing these small and simple things. He finally planted the right seed, and it began to grow. I wish I could write better so I could explain everything to you guys. I could not be happier right now.

I cant think of too many other things that happened this week besides a lot of biking and tracting. We had a dinner appointment last night with a family who's kids are home from BYU right now, so I got pretty trunky talking to them about Provo and all the fun things going on there. It actually just got me excited to go to Utah when I get home. I still don’t really know exactly where I want to go yet, but I have plenty of time to think about it. I think I told you last week that I am for sure getting tranfered in 3 weeks. I'm pretty excited to get out and see the rest of the mission. I am hoping I get sent out in the boonies somewhere.
K, well I have to go now. I love you guys. What more do you want me to write in my letters. Do you want more details about everyday activities? Just tell me what you want to hear and I will write more. Sorry if my letters get boring. I love you Mom and Dad! I love you family!

Love, Josh

letter Aug. 18 Westly and Torins baptisms

Mom and Dad-

Ok sorry if this letter is not very long today, we had to go to a different library beacause ours was closed and the one that we came to only allows us to have 30 minutes on the computers. So im going to try and write as much as I can in the limited time frame that we have.

This week was a very good week. Westley and Torins baptisms both went very well. I was able to confirm westley so that was a good experience. The other really great thing that happened this week is that Reid Stevens (our recent convert from a couple months ago) received the aaronic priesthood yeasterday. We werent able to find too many people this week though beacause there were a lot of storms that came through and kind of threw off our week. Transfers arent for another month, President has pretty much already told me that I am leaving. I don’t have a clue where I am going to get sent. I might find out a little bit more information tomorrow beacaue we havezone conference and president always seems to leak out some information in our interviews. We have a new investigator named Joshua Voytovach who is as golden as you can be. His wife is an active member and he has just started having all these spiritual experiences telling him that he needs to investigate the church. We had an amazing lesson with him last week and we are going back tonight to teach him. Alisha, who was one of our most solid investigators, fell off the face of the map. I think I might have told you already actually. She relapsed last week and has gone back into her old life style so we are pretty sad about that. Keep her in your prayers please. Everyone else is doing great though. It is definetely going to be sad to leave all of them.

Ok I only have 5 minutes left which is really annoying. Anyways, have you heard about any of the storms that are heading up here towards the gulf? We just got hit by a pretty good tropical storm last night and there should be another two decent sized storms coming up here pretty soon. Oh, never mind about the 5 minutes, it just gave me another 15 minute extension.

Yes I agree about going to UVU. I have always loved the feeling up in provo, so I think that is something that I will definetely have to do. I don’t know why I want to go to Utah so bad. I have always been against going there, but I just have a really strong urg to go now. I have also heard a lot of bad things about Salt Lake City actually. I don’t know if I would like it there as much as provo. But at the time, I do need to go to school somewhere else for a little bit before I can even go to UVU. I don’t know, I will give it some more thought in a few months when I really have to stert thinking about it. Can you believe Summer is already almost over? It flew by so fast! I cannot belive that my last summer in Florida is almost done. This on wasn’t even very hot either, which is a bit weird.

Anyways, now I really have to go. I am sorry about these lame computers. I will write a lot next week to make up for it. I love you Mom and Dad!!!

Love, Josh

Letter Aug. 3 This is the most success that I have seen on my mission

Mom and Dad-

It has been so long since we have been to Lake Powel, I’m way jealous. You will have to take some good pictures for me. I am sorry that I haven’t been too good lately at sending pictures, I will do better. Yeah, I didn’t see the videos on the camera, but I will go back through them and double check. That is really cool that Ray was able to see Brett and Erik. That would be so much fun if Brett got Ray to stay down in Utah. I would love to have both of them there went I go. What day does Ray get home again? I know that it is sometime this month.

Our investigators are doing really well. Westley Smith and Torrin Caldwell are both set to be baptized on August 15. Then we are teaching a 9 year old kid whos parents are active but they never baptized him when he was 8, so he will be baptized very soon. Then we are still working with Alisha Striblan. She is so awesome. She has such a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon and she knows the Church is true. She is down to just 2 cigarettes a day. She has come so far. We gave her a blessing the other day, and there was just so much peace that she would overcome the addiction very quickly. There is another family that we just met recently that seems pretty solid as well. We were tracting a few weeks ago, and we ran into a kid about my age named Ramsee. He is a spitting image of me about 4 years ago, only not as dumb. He seemed really interested in having us come back. So we went back a few days later and he wasn’t there but his girlfriend was, and she also said she was really interested and that she was looking for a church like ours to join. So she said we could come back in a week. So when we came back to talk to Ramsee and his girlfriend Jordan, they were not there, but Ramsees mom was, and she was so golden! She was talking to us all about how Satan was trying to do all he could to tear her family apart because Ramsee was getting in trouble with this girl, and she was just so stressed because she loves her family so much and wants more for Ramsee. So we told her all about Gods plan for our Families and about the Plan of Salvaton and modern day prophets, and she loved every bit of it. She was just so smart and understood everything. So we are excited to start teaching them. As far as the rest of the week went, we just did a lot of tracting, and a lot of less-active visits. I cant think of any specific fun stories right now sorry.

We just got transfer information today. Im going to be staying in Fort Walton for another one! I will have been in this area for 9 months at the end of this transfer. I am very excited to stay, because there are so many good things happening here right now. This is the most success that I have seen on my whole mission, so it would be pretty sad to leave. At the same time though, I would like to see some other parts of the mission. All four of my areas so far have generally been pretty close to each other, so I kind of want some new scenery.
Anyways, sorry I am boring this week, I will try to have some good stories for next week. Mom- I love you! Dad- I love you! I love you Family! Tell people to write me, checking the mail box is the most depressing part of every day haha.
Love, Josh

July 29 Alisha and Reid Stevens

Mom and Dad-

How are you guys? This week was really good. All the ward members were really great and a lot of them called me to wish me a happy birthday; and some even dropped off cake and presents. Its really nice to be in a ward that takes such good care of us. So that was my last birthday on my mission. That is really weird. It really has just flown by. I cant belive we are already almost in August. I remember last year around this same time saying, I cant believe I have already been out for 4 months! Things are just flying by way to fast.

Transfers are next week, and I still don’t have a clue what is going to happen. I am kind of getting anxious to get out of Fort Walton. I love the people here, but if I am here for another transfer I will have been here for 9 months. I really want to go up into Alabama and see what it is like out there.

So you celebrated the 24th with Chad and Emily? That sounds fun. Are the big fireworks legal in St. George? Chad and Em sent me some great pictures of The Kids in there package. I was also very happy with the ones that you sent on the chip. Thank you so much for that package. I loved everything you get me, especially all the snacks. I thought you were going to put some videos on the chip though, but the pics were still great. I hope you’re still ok with me buying some shoes. I bought a pair of $30 slacks on my last week, and I found a pair of Rock Port shoes for $60 that are really comfortable, but I don’t want to buy them until I get the ok from you, because I didn’t tell you I was going to get slacks.

So as far as the work goes, everything went really well this week. I think I told you last week that we have two baptismal dates set up right now, and we are going to set another one on Wednesday with Alisha who is probably our most solid investigator. When we first started teaching her about 2 months ago she was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and living in a half way house. Now she is living on her own and is down to 3 cigarettes a day with a sincere desire to quit for good. She has been coming to church every week and has just been eating up everything that we have been teaching her. She carries around a copy of the Book of Mormon in her purse wherever she goes. It is really amazing to see the change that has taken place in her life.

The other miracle the has been happening is with Reid Steven, the one who was just baptized a couple of weeks ago. We were a little worried about him at first and we weren’t sure how solid he would be. Every week he would come to Sacrament in a stained T-shirt and some Jeans and then he would leave right after sacrament, but as soon as he was baptized, everything changed. He has been showing up to church in slacks and a white shirt and tie and has been staying for all 3 hours of church. He never participated much with the youth before, but this last week he went on the youth temple trip and spent 2 days up at the Birmingham Alabama Temple with all the youth in the ward. He wast able to do baptisms, but the temple president let him watch all the baptisms and confirmations in the temple. Reid came back from the trip so fired up and cant wait to receive the aaronic priesthood so that he can go back on the next trip and do baptisms. This was all such a big surprise to me, but I am so excited for him. There has been such a new light about him ever since he received the gift of the Holy Ghost. His best friend Westly Smith is the other one that has a baptismal date right now, and he is also a pretty cool kid. He is going to be baptized on August 8th.

We taught some good lessons this week, and we did a ton of tracting. I really have enjoyed tracting lately, we have run into some really crazy people which makes for really good journal entries. We went tracting on a street called Love Joy on my birthday which I guess a couple years back someone told the missionaries that they weren’t aloud to go on the street anymore because of the gang activity, but I think it has cleaned up a little bit. Anyways, we knocked on some doors down in the projects, and met some really awesome people. One of them was a little old black lady named Virginia White who invited us in to show us her nice clean house. She told us that if we ever got it dirty that she would beat our butts with her cane that she was holding. She was the sweetest old lady. Whenever she would say a swear word she would shake her finger in the air and say, “Its in the bible! It is in the bible! So anyway, we are going back to teach her soon.

I think that is it for the week. Thank you again for the package you sent. I really enjoyed it. Thank you for everything. I love you guys some much. And if you see any of my friends, give them my address and tell them to write me! I love you Mom, I love you Dad! Ill talk to you next week

Love, Josh

Monday, August 31, 2009

letter Aug 31 It will be bitter sweet to leave Ft. Walton

Hey Mom and Dad!

That’s so awesome that Ray and Brett are rooming together. I am really jealous haha. That’s cool that they came over to the house and hung out for a little while. ....
This week was great. Josh W. Was baptized yesterday after only 2 weeks of teaching him. Almost the whole ward came to the baptism yesterday evening, so it was a really good experience. Josh has already set goals to receive the priesthood and to get sealed to his wife Annie in the temple a year from now. I am so excited for them.

As far as other investigators go, we are not teaching too many people right at this time. Everyone that we were teaching in the past few months has either gotten baptized or dropped us. So we are kind of starting at ground zero again trying to find people to teach. We have been knocking on doors for a few hours each day, and we have been finding people, but none of them are willing to keep commitments. It is going to be very bitter-sweet leaving Fort Walton Beach. Bitter, because I will be leaving all of the amazing people that I have been able to teach and the members that helped so much. Sweet, because I have biked down the same exact streets every day for 9 months, and it is going to be nice to have a change of scenery.

As far as weather goes, it doesn’t look lake anything big is going to happen any time soon. It looks like you guys are closer to a hurricane than I am. I hear there is one coming up around Baja California. It’s a bit strange that the pacific is getting more hurricanes than the Atlantic this year.

So, we are almost into September now. Very weird. In about a month I will be hitting 18 months in the mission field which blows my mind. I still feel like I am brand new. This past year and a half has been the best experience of my life. It has changed my life forever. Knowing for myself what truth really is, has made me actually care about what I want to do with my life. It almost makes me sick to my stomach to think what I would have done if I did not serve a mission. And although it will be sad when I eventually get released, I am so excited to have this new pattern of living to try out in my life back home.

Anyways, I gots to go, I still haven’t written anyone back yet so I need to go do that. I love you guys so much. Tell the Family how much I love them.
Love, Josh

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aug 24, 2009 Josh W. commits to baptism

Mom and Dad-

It sounds like you guys had a great week. Have you been able to talk to Ray yet? That is so crazy that you saw Elder Carroll. Yeah we talked a few different times on the phone because we served around all of the same people. He was a pretty crazy missionary from what I hear. Did you talk to him about his mission at all? Im so jealous that you guys all got to go to Lake Powell. I am glad that you had fun.

So Shawna emailed me and said that the house is officially on the market again. I can’t remember if you guys ever told me that. How much are you listing it for? When it sells, where are you going to move right away? Its going to be so weird for me to come back to a different house, but I think ill survive.

Our week was very good. We taught Josh Wojtovcz again on Wednesday, and the lesson went amazing. At the end of the lesson we asked him if he had any questions, and he said, “yeah, how do I go about getting baptized?” Elder Adam and I were not expecting that at all, so we are both very excited. He is getting baptized this upcoming Sunday. I could not be any happier than I am right now in my life. Josh, as I told you last week, just got married to an active member of the Church named Annie. They are both 21 years old and are such a cool couple. It has taken Josh 6 years to finally be converted to the gospel. He has been through the lessons before but he always felt like the missionaries were pushing things to hard on him. Anyways, I am pretty sure if you somehow found him on face book, you could just read his conversion story, because he wrote it on his page, and it is pretty cool. All I know is that there is a very real power that comes from reading the Book of Mormon. We asked Josh if he has been searching more in the last couple months than he was before, and maybe that was the reason that he found his answer; but he answered and said no, and said that he had actually been searching less, and that is what confused him. We sat and thought about it for a minute and came to the conclusion found in 2Nephi 32 which talks about planting the seed of faith. For years, Josh had been planting all sorts of seeds but he was disappointed in each of the experiments, so he cast those seeds out. Then he started to Read the Book of Mormon and Pray, which was so much less effort then what he was doing before, and he said some new power immediately entered into his life just from doing these small and simple things. He finally planted the right seed, and it began to grow. I wish I could write better so I could explain everything to you guys. I could not be happier right now.

I cant think of too many other things that happened this week besides a lot of biking and tracting. We had a dinner appointment last night with a family whos kids are home from BYU right now, so I got pretty trunky talking to them about Provo and all the fun things going on there. It actually just got me excited to go to Utah when I get home. I still don’t really know exactly where I want to go yet, but I have plenty of time to think about it. I think I told you last week that I am for sure getting tranfered in 3 weeks. Im pretty excited to get out and see the rest of the mission. I am hoping I get sent out in the boonies somewhere.
K, well I have to go now. I love you guys. What more do you want me to write in my letters. Do you want more details about everyday activities? Just tell me what you want to hear and I will write more. Sorry if my letters get boring. I love you Mom and Dad! I love you family!

Love, Josh