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