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