Friday, January 22, 2010

Jan 22, 2010 Elder Tolley an amazing missionary, a second flood

Hey Mom and Dad!

This last week was so great. Elder Tolley is an amazing missionary. I think these next two tranfers will be alot like the ones i had with Elder Gooch. We already get along so good, and we were really hard together. For the past month or two there has been no signs of life here in Theodore, but just within the past week, things have really started to pick up.

We are now teaching a lady named Desiree who some members (the Schloemers) introduces us to. We have our lessons with her at the Schloemers house every week now. She is progressing pretty well. She is a in her 30's and is a single mom looking for a church to settle down in. We are excited about her. Aside from that, we are making alot of plans to work with the youth in our ward to help them invite their friends. We had a really good experience yesterday in Church. We were pulled into the young mens/young womens class to teach sunday school. We were caught by suprise so we had no idea what we were going to teach. At first everyone in the class was pretty roudy, but within a few minutes, everyone was participating. We just started to ask some simple questions like, "what kinds of questions are you asked about the church by your friends?" And, "What are the answers you give to them." We helped them to answer common gospel questions and helped them to see the importance of bearing testimony in those situations. There was one young women in the class who was about 15 years old and at first was very closed off. She had a tongue ring and dressed pretty crazy. She made alot of comments saying that she was only there because her grandmother forces her to go every sunday. I testified to her of the power that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has brought into my life. We testifies to her of the importance of learning truth and living it right now and not waiting until later on. I really felt a connection of what she is going through right now, and the Spirit was so strong as we bore our testimonies to her. The Spirit touched this young womens heart yesterday and it was amazing to see her countenence change by the end of class. It was just a neat experience for me.

I think that one day out here will be fine. There really isnt too much to see anyways. It will be a very full day, but that's ok. I cant swim or anything anyways so its not like we can spend time at any of the beach resorts or anything. I think the only place that i would want to visit would be Fort Walton, Troy, and probably here in Theodore. I think it will work out. Would we just fly out of Mobile?

I would love to spend some time out at the lake when i get back. I think that would be really nice to just have some quiet time out there before i get started with school and work and everything else. I am actually really looking forward to some time out there.

That is so awsome that President Dalton is going to be a Mission President. It would be amzing if he was sent to this mission. He would love it so much. The culture of this mission and the direction that it is heading is great. You will have to give me the Dalton's adress so i can write them. I love President Summerhays, because of his ability to get out of the way, and let the Spirit run things the way they are supposed to be run. His interviews dont consist of him counciling us, they consist of him asking us, "how are you?" "How are you feeling?" "What is on your mind?" He trusts that the Spirit will work through us to give him what he needs to work with. I really cant put into words all the different reasons i love President Summerhays. He is completely submissive to the Spirit, and does not do anything of his own will, but always seeks to do His will. I wish i could put it into better words. I guess you will just have to meet him for yourself:)

I think that will work out ok with fullerton starting a little later after i get home, because then i can work and get some money saved up. Thank you so much for looking into all that stuff for me. That would be pretty nice if some extra money came in to pay for a couple semsters from that accident. I cant believe that that is still going on.

I am so excited for the next 10 weeks! I have an awsome companion who loves to work, and i am in a great ward. I am so happy. I know with all my heart that this is HIS work. I love every single second of my mission. I cant wait for you to meet some of the people that have impacted my life so much. Thank you guys for the email. They always make my weeks so much better. I love you so much!

Love, Elder Burnham

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jan 15, 2010 Big changes coming

Hey Mom and Dad!

We just got tranfer information. I am staying here and Elder Fox is getting tranferred. My new companion is going to be Elder Tolley. I have served around him a couple times; once in Crestview and once in Fort Walton. He seems like an awesome missionary. Everyone i have talked to so far says that i am going to love him. I have actually known about this for the past few days now. I have been talking with President alot over the past week because he has been helping us with the whole carpet situation, and he let me know a few days ago that there would be some big changes here and that Elder Fox would be leaving. It has been really hard not to say anything to anyone the last couple days. So, i am very excited about the next couple transfers. Elder Tolley will most likely be my last companion. So weird!

Last week was one of the more challenging weeks for me. I was struggling to be patient all week. I wont go into details because it is pretty much the same type of stuff i talked to you guys on the phone about. I did however learn alot this week and was able to find alot of answers to my prayers. I have been trying to think of ways in my personal studies lately to set and record goals for attributes that i am trying to work on. I have never been a big goal setter, but after a really difficult day this week, i prayed, and recieved an answer that i need to start setting personal goals for myself and recording them. So i have been trying to think of a good system for that.

The hard week ended great though. We finally got new carpet and a new washer. Our apartment is finally back in order and spot clean. It was such a miracle that it everything got put back in order right before the new tranfer. So that made the whole difficult week worth it.

I really havent heard too much about flexibility with release dates. I know of missionaries that have gone home early for school, but i dont know of any other cases. I know it would probably be a little more difficult in my case because i am in a leadership possition and President would have to replace me with someone else just for the last few days. Also, you guys wouldnt be able to have that interview with President if i was released a few days earlier because he sets specific time aside to do that on transfer days. So thats why you guys would have to call and find out that information because i really do'nt know. It is getting exciting to talk about though:)

As far as school goes, i would prefer to go to Fullerton. I don't know what is available over there, but i did enjoy that institute alot. I mean, if you would like to register for me that would be great, i just feel bed making you do that, and maybe it would be good for me to do it. Whatever way will work.

I am so sorry about Tony. I know how much you love her. Everything will be ok. It will all work out exacly the way that it is supposed to. I love you Mom! Im sorry.

Well, i have to go write President now. I am sorry that i haven't taken any pictures since i have been here. I promise to do better this transfer. Dad, i love you! Mom, I love you! See you soon!

Love, Elder Burnham

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jan 10, 2010 Zone leader council was amazing

I had a really good week. We didnt think it would be a very productive week because we had zone leader council all day on Tuesday, then a tradeoff with some missionaries in Daphne on Wednesday, then zone conference all day on Friday. But, the Lord helped us and we were still able to have a successful week even though we weren't even in our area for three of the days. We are still having trouble finding anyone to teach, so we are just knocking on alot of doors every day, and doing alot of re-activation work.

Zone leader council was amazing. It almost like another zone conference, only all the other missionaries are all really strong leaders and are all hard working missionaries; so i feel like the Spirit is able to teach more through President Summerhays in those meetings than at a normal zone conference. It was really cool. It was all about what we need to do to stay in the right Spirit, and the patterns that we need to establish in our lives to keep that His Spirit with us throughout the rest of our lives.

Our apartment is still a wreck from the flood last week, but the maintenance guys said that they would be here today with the new carpet. It is been pretty rough having to deal with all this for the past week, but i have learned alot from it.

Things are going alot better with my companion. He is working alot harder and he seems to be alot happier. My prayers are definately being answered.

Tranfers are coming up in one week. This one has flown by so fast. I only have two more tranfers left, can you believe that? I still cant believe how fast it is going. If you guys are coming out, I still need to call some people from my other areas and see if they will be there around that time. So i guess just keep me posted with what you want to do. I'm really ok either way, and i just think it would be better for you guys to call the front office to ask.

As far as school goes, i think i am going to call President Summerhays this week and ask if i can start going online to check everything out. You said i can start applying in march right? I talked to Sister Summerhays about LDS business college, and she said she thought that was a great idea. I guess there has been a few missionaries from this mission that are going there now, and she said that they are really enjoying it. I dont really know if i want to go there, but i guess that was a plus coming from her.

I'm sorry i dont have too much more to talk about. I love you guys. Thank you so much for everything. I am so excited to see you in 3 months:)

Love, Elder Burnham

Dec. 14

Ok so i just finished writing a huge email to you guys, and when i sent it, for some reason i got botted off the server and i dont really have anymore time left here at the library. SO what i am going to do, is write you a letter and mail it off tomorrow. I am so sorry. I am really bugged at this computer right now. Anyways, i am doing really good here in Theodore. Elder Fox is great, and leadership is treating me well. I will explain all the datails in my letter. I am so sorry . I love you guys so much!!! Thank you for your email:) I cant wait to talk to you in 11 days:)

Love Elder Josh Burnham

K, well dont worry, i am still planning on writing you a letter today, but i have just a few more minutes here at the library. Theodore is going good so far. Leadership isnt all too bad. I dont have to give speaches or anything, i just have to help with the obedience of the Zone and go on trade offs, and make alot more phone calls and whatnot. I will give you more details in the letter. Just know that i love you and that i am happy. I had a pretty tough week adjusting to the new companion, but its all good now and i am happy here in Theodore:) I love you guys!

Love, Elder josh Burnham

Nov. 30

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 caserole, 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 greesier. 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 referral 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

Nov 23

Mom and Dad-

Thank you for those addresses. 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 appointment and were having 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

Nov 16 letter

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 Christ, 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

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jan 3 2010

Mom and Dad-

It sounds like your week was pretty packed. Im glad you guys had a fun and safe time. Your probably pretty sick of driving now though huh?

This week was pretty hectic. My patience was definetely tried and tested, but it was good for me. The first few days of the week went pretty good. We found a couple people to teach and we were working hard. New Years eve was a bit frustrateing in the day time because noone was home, but we still had a productive day. At around 7pm we went to the Schlamers home and they fed all eight of us missionaries. We watched them light off some fire works as well, so that was fun. Heres the great part of the week. We went to sleep on New Years Eve, and one of the other missionaries had thrown a load of wash in right before he went to bed. Well, i woke up at around 12:30am to a strange bubbling noise. It sounded like it was coming from the window which is right nect to my bed. So i tried messing with it, but the bubbling noice was still there. I soon realized that the bubbling noice was coming from underneath my matress, which is on the ground. I reached down to the floor and my hand went under 2 inches of water. So i got out of bed, turned on the light, and saw that our entire apartment was filled with water. The hose on the back of our washing machine had come off and was running for over two hours, dumping water into our apartment. After i turned the water off, we took our matresses, which were filled with water and weighed about two hundred pounds, outside and just went to sleep on our couches in the front room. The next morning, we called maintenence and they came and tore out most of the carpet in the apartment. So everything is a mess right now in our place and we had to spend alot of our time just trying to figure out what to do until we get new carpet this week. Its been good though. I have had some time to talk to Elder Fox about pretty much everything that i talked to you guys about, and he has been really trying to do better. This week has been tough, but i feel like alot has been acomplished, so it has been good.

I was reading President Summerhays's email today, and i realized that i have been a huge dummy! I havent been saving any of his emails. I should just forward them to you guys every week so that i can have them for the future. I hope you dont mind if i start doing that.

I had a neat teaching experience last night. We were at a dinner appointment with an active family. They invited one of their friends who is a nonmember to come and join them for family home evening afterward. A discussion opened up about the word of wisdom, and the non member lady asked why we could drink soda, but not tea. Everyone was trying to give all of these scientific answers to her. They were all trying to give these logical explanations and health facts, but the lday wasnt buying it. She said, none of that feels right, and until i here something that makes sence, i cant believe what you believe. After not saying anything the whole time, something from preach my gospel came to mind, and i told her, "ma'am, i dont think that that is the real question you have. I think the real question is whether or not Joseph Smith is a true Prophet. Either he is, or he isnt. If he is not, then you can take the word of wisdom and everyone of his teachings and throw it out the window; But if he is, then that answers every single question that you have about all of this. All of your questions can be answered by praying to know if he is a true Prophet. There was a little pause, and she then said, "in my 14 years of asking that question to mormons, i have never had a responce like that. That is logical. That makes sence." The Spirit was really strong. It felt so good because we havent had very many teaching oportunities lately.

Anyways, i dont have much more to say about this week. The more i think about you guys coming up here to pick me up, the more and more i like the idea. I am happy that you kind of talked me into it.

I love you guys. Stay safe this week!

Love, Elder Josh Burnham