Monday, January 27, 2014

¡Ciao, Pescado!

Oh my goodness.  I cannot believe that this day is here.  This is my last email from the mission field.  Totally unbelievable.

I can't wrap my mind around the fact that in just two days I will be a "returned missionary."  Somehow I never imagined myself fitting into that category.  Well, not sure that I will "fit" into it now, but I'll pertain to it, anyway....

I just have one thing to say, really.  I love Chile.  It is as much a part of me now as movies and Harry Potter and tap dancing and trees and running and chocolate chip cookies ever were.  It's home.  I have it written in my heart and I will carry it with me always.  I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the opportunity to know this place and these people.  I know all returned missionaries think that ther mission is the best in the world, but I invite each and every one of you to give Chile a try.  You will all soon be in agreement with me that la misión Chile Concepción es ¡la MEJOR MISIÓN DEL MUNDO!

And now that I will soon be starting the "best phase" on my life (this is what everyone tells me when I blow a raspberry and give them a thumbs-down sign when they ask me how I feel about going home, but I am not convinced), I want to invite you all to stay with me in keeping up with our commitments to read and pray every day.  Last night a few families from the ward put together a little surprise gong-away noche de hogar, and they shared with me 2 Nephi 32:8-9 and D&C 14:7 and we talked about how it is essential that we endure to the end (return missionary or no), and that it starts with the simplest of things - scriptures, prayer, and church attendance.  So that is my invitation to you all for this week and for all the weeks to come.  Let's endure to the end together!

I love you all so much and I am so grateful for all the love and support you have given me for this past year-and-a-bit.  See you all soon!

Lovelovelovelovelovelovelove for the last time from Chile,

Hermana Burgess

Monday, January 20, 2014

Charity Never Faileth

A pretty normal week.  I am trying to think if anything really interesting happened....  Yes!  One day a drunk man started talking to us and he said something about how I was "rubia" (which means blonde, but here they use it to describe anyone whose hair isn't black), and I agreed with him.  And then he said, "Why do you have green eyes?"  I told him that I didn't have green eyes, that it was he who had green eyes (because he did).  And then I told him that my eyes are brown.  But I may or may not have used the wrong word for brown and accidentally said that my eyes were purple.  My companion is never going to let me live that one down.  But it isn't my fault that the words for brown and purple in Spanish are just not all that different - morado (purple) and márron (brown).  Well, so they are pretty different.  But they start with the same letter at least. Anyone could confuse them, right?

We also had interviews with President this week.  We got a nice surprise when the office gave each companionship a shiny new portable DVD player.  Normally these DVD players are only given to companionships that are doing the 12-week training program, since they have to watch a lot of Preach My Gospel videos, but for some reason now they have decided that each companionship will have one.  One of the assistants, when he gave my companion our DVD player, was explaining the features to her.  He said that it plays CDs as well as DVDs, and it has a USB port so you can also look at your pictures.  And there is a remote control, so if you happen to be a few steps away from it and you want to change the song, no worries!  Then later on when another companionship of sisters received their DVD player, one sister asked my companion, "Is this so we can watch Preach My Gospel?" and my companion said, "They didn't say anything to me about Preach My Gospel.  I heard 'movies, music, and photos.'  That's what this must be for - music, movies, and photos."  It was pretty funny.  Interviews went well though.  President and Hermana Arrington are really amazing.  They love us a lot and take really good care of us.  I am very grateful for them.

On Sunday the obra misional was in charge of sacrament meeting.  And since we are the newest in the ward, Elder Klepinger and I were asked to speak.  I didn't want to give one of the normal missionary-guilt-trips-the-ward-into-accompanying-them-to-lessons-and-giving-them-references talks.  So I decided to speak on charity and love and how we can develop more charity.  I figured that at the root of everything is missionary work is whether or not we love the Lord and whether we feel His love for us and share it with others.  Hermana Lovell taught me a lot about that.  She would always say that we should just let the love of God fill us up and then we should take that love and give it away to other people.  She was really good at it too.  I, however, still have a lot of work to do in that department.  But the talk went well, I think.  I talked about how we can develop charity first by asking for it in prayer (Moroni 7:48), then by serving others (both by the things we do for them and by refraining from judging or sharing negative thoughts or feelings that we may have towards others), and then by sharing the gospel with them.

So I invite you all to read Moroni 7:45-48 (Those of you who are reading the Book of Mormon with me will be reading that as part of your scheduled reading this week anyway!) and let's work on being more full of love and charity together.

Also, keep on reading that Book of Mormon every day!

Lovelovelove you all,


Monday, January 13, 2014

Déjà vu


Today we got to go to President's house in the morning and make Peruvian food (Hermana Gamboa cooked and it was great) and I made Snickerdoodles (since shortening and cream of tartar are only to be found in President's house).  It was the four of us from Tomé, Hermana Snyder and Hermana Ayuso, and Hermana Call and Hermana Oldroyd.  And President and Hermana Arrington, of course.  They are totally awesome.  I love to cook in their kitchen.

Also, this morning a cute little jovencita from our ward here in Tomé left for her mission in Recife, Brazil. So last week there was a lot of missionary-prep buzz in the ward, along with a lot of "saying goodbye" moments.  We had a ward activity on Friday and they like showed a little slideshow of her and everything as part of it.  She didn't speak in sacrament meeting the way we usually do, though she did bear a short testimony, but one thing they did do was they had planned a little setting-apart devotional for all her friends and family.  After the Stake President had gone to her house and set her apart, everyone gathered in the church on Sunday evening and they had short messages from her parents, her aunt and uncle, her sister, and a musical number from her other sister, and Loisse also shared her testimony.  It was nice.  You could feel the Spirit really strongly, it was special.  She is very special too, though barely 19, and I worry a little about her apple-cheeked innocence because the reality of missionary work is oh, so much harder than anyone could ever imagine.  Many of you know.  You have been there.  You just can't describe how hard it is.  I am very happy for her and I am sure she will do well.  I know that the experiences that she will have - as hard as they may be - are going to help her become who the Lord wants her to be.  Though I don't know her well I love her already and I am excited to hear about how things go for her in the mission field.

But all this leaving-on-a-mission stuff with Loisse was a little weird for me, because it made me remember so vividly how I felt in those weeks and days before it was time for me to go.  I was absolutely terrified.  For me, there is just something so horrifying about the unknown and the things that I can't control.  And there were many moments when I wasn't sure I could actually go through with it.  But I knew it was the right thing to do.  I knew that it is what the Lord wanted for me and I had to let that be enough.  Many times that is what has carried me through, when sometimes things don't look as bright as I'd like and I wonder what in the world ever made me think coming on a mission would be a good idea - I just try to remember that it is the Lord's will, and I try to let that be enough.

And when I really think about it, being here is more than "enough."  I have had so many wonderful experiences.  I have met the most wonderful people.  I have learned to love them and their culture and thier food and their public transportation and their sense of style and (though I am still working on it) their language.  I am so very blessed.  These are experiences that I would not trade for anything, andI know I would not have been able to have them any other way.  That is the Lord's plan.  If there was "another way," He would let us take it.  But there isn't.  There is one path.  One gospel.  One plan for each of us, and His plan is perfect.  I have probably shared this with you all before, but too bad because you have to hear it again anyway.  When we were getting ready to leave the MTC, Hermana Frandsen wrote me a note that said, "When things get tough, try to step back and see the big picture, because He has promised that the big picture is beautiful."  I know that she is right.  The Lord has painted a beatiful picture of each of our lives, but sometimes we can only see parts of it.  And sometimes those are the parts that are painted gray or black.  But not very many paintings would turn out beautiful if there wasn't any gray or black at all.  It is all part of a bigger picture - a beautiful, beautiful picture.

I invite you each to try to see the beautiful picture that God is painting of our lives this week.  I know that I definitely forget sometimes to do that, and I would like to try to be better too.

Also keep reading the Book of Mormon every day.



Meet My Great-Granddaughter

Last Monday it just so happened that Hermana Lyons and Hermana Johnston (her trainee) had to be in Conce for a doctor's appointment, and Hermana Morán had to be in Conce for consejo, so we decided to take advantage of the only chance we had to take a four-generation photo.  Hemana Lyons had the genius idea that we should act out which generation we were.  So that's what we did.  It was awesome.  I am the great-grandma, Hermana Morán the grandma (though she looks more like a teenager in the picture I have, but that's just Hermana Morán for you), Hermana Lyons is the mom, and Hermana Johnston the baby.

And since all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders were in Conce for consejo I also got to see Hermana Frandsen and Hermana Chavez for what might be one of the last times before we go home (since they are stinking far away in my beloved Chillán).  So we took pictures too.  I love them lots.

Tuesday night was New Year's Eve, of course.  It was kind of a slow night for us since everyone was having family parties.  And then we went home and planned and took pictures in our New Year's garb that some members had gifted to Hermana Martinez and Hermana Gamboa and then we were in bed at 11:30.  I think I was still awake when the New Year came in, but I didn't hear too much noisy partying so I can't be sure.  Apparently in Chile you are supposed to go out in the street at midnight and hug everyone you see or something like that.  But we didn't do that either, of course.

Wednesday morning Hermana Gamboa and I went out to run in the morning and that was quite a humorous experience, because there were still lots of leftover beach party-ers (how do you spell that word?) straggling through the streets.  One group of young adults that we passed started whooping when they saw us and even followed us for a bit, while a drunk man leaning against the wall next to the church cat-called for about two minutes straight.  And there were still several people left on the beach (and lots of champagne corks) after the all-night revelry.  It was kind of humorous.  But I ask myself why it is so attractive to celebrate the coming of the New Year in that manner?  Maybe it's fun until midnight, but stumbling home hung-over and disheveled and covered in sand at 7:30 in the morning just doesn't seem like a very positive start to a new year to me....

One thing we did to start the new year out right was we rearranged the furniture in our apartment.  We had the two bunk beds in one bedroom, the Hermanas study room in the other, and our study space out in the living room, which just wasn't very functional.  So with the help of a set of little L-shaped Allen wrench things that we bought for a buck at a ferreteria, a pair of pliers borrowed from the neighbors across the hall, and a little brute force (we had to turn one bed upside down and jump on it to get it to disassemble) we were able to get the house rearranged.  Now all four beds are in the living room and the other bedroom is our study space.  It isn't as pretty, with a living room full of beds, but it's a lot more functional.  We also have a little closet room which had mostly been serving as a storage space for Hermana Martinez's dirty clothes, but we tidied that up too (we bought her a little collapsible cube with a cute cow on it for her to put her diry laundry in) and hung some laundry line in there so that we would have a place to dry any clothes we washed by hand.  In the bathroom it took days and this little room is real sunny, so we have been pleased with those results as well.  It was a great New Year's project.

This week I did a
mini cambio one day with Hermana Suarez.  I hadn't really worked much with her before, but she was also in Hualqui and she is going home just a little before me, so we have a lot of our mission in common.  We know all the same people (For example, there are very few hermanas left - four, if I am not mistaken - who ever knew my trainer.), even taught some of the same investigators, and are in the same phase of our mission, so it was interesting to spend a day with her.  She was one of the missionaries who found and baptized Aracely, that awesome recent convert from Hualqui who was always accompanying us.  Hermana Suarez is from Argentina and she was introduced to the Church through the people who owned the gym where she trained (she was like a professional weight-lifter or something like that), which is a neat story.

And this morning we had a zone activity.  We went on like a little hike (though it was pretty much flat and therefore nothing compared to the hills we climb up every day) to an old tunnel which was super dark and even though you could usually see light from one end or the other, you couldn't see right in front of you or where you were putting your feet or anything like that.  It was cool and pretty and then afterwards we ate Churrascos.  Much better zone activity than going to the church and playing soccer, if you ask me.  Thanks Elder Rhodes and Elder Klepinger!

Anyways, it's a little boring but that was my week.  Not too many crazy adventures and we haven't run out of matches so we aren't in any danger of burning the place down.  Though, on a lack of matches side note, Hermana Snyder told me that in their house they have to even light the calefont with matches in order to get hot water and that one very desperate Saturday night they resorted to putting metal in the microwave in order to generate a flame for lighting the calefont.  A little dangerous, but they took precautions (a bowl full of water standing nearby) and it was effective in the end.  So I guess being a missionary is never too boring.

And how are we all doing with our Book of Mormon reading?  I have read every day this year so far - except for today, the zone activity threw off my study schedule, but I promise to read when we get back to the house.  I invite you all to keep on reading EVERY DAY.

Also, another commitment:  write to a missionary!  It doesn't have to be me, I was just thinking about how awesome it is when we get mail and/or emails and I thought it would be a great thing for you all to do this week - brighten a missionary's day!

Well, love you all and hope you have a g-reat week!



Monday, December 30, 2013

The New Nephew

Hi... Danielle again,

For those of you who don't know, Jordanne's sister, Shannon, has a new baby boy.  He was born on October 31 (yes, he's our little spook!)  Jordanne has been referring to him as "Charlie" but his name is actually Jet Robert Shields.  He weighed 7 lbs 12 oz, was 20 1/2 inches long, and he's absolutely adorable!!

Who Needs Fosforos? (December 30, 2013)

Quick recap of this week:

Monday was P-day, obviously.  Not too much to say about it.

Tuesday, Christmas Eve, we were invited to have Christmas dinner with the Alarcón family in our ward.  So we went with the other two hermanas and had a good old time.  I taught the little girls the dance for Cotton Eye Joe and they totally loved it.  Here they eat late at night and then wait until midnight and open all the gifts then.  We had to be in the house at 11:00, so no Viejito Pascuelo (Santa Clause) sightings for us.  But it was still fun.

Wednesday we opened up our gifts in the morning (the girls in my house are thrilled about all the American chocolate I got) and then in the afternoon we went into Conce for the mission Christmas activity they were having.  There was so much good food and most of it was American - chips and guacamole (okay, so that is not really "American" but they don't eat it here) and pasta and frog-eye salads and ranch and ceaser salad dressings, and chocolate chip cookies! - and I got to see Hermana Call and Hermana Snyder and a lot of my other mission friends who are in the "in" zones right now.  I loved it.  And then after that, of course, we Skyped our families, which is always fun.  My family is crazy.  But I love them.  I got to meet my nephew Charlie.  He was asleep, but he seems pretty cool.  I think we'll get along if he likes sleeping too.

Thursday morning I found myself with a few minutes of extra time and so I took down the little Christmas tree that we had.  The other hermanas kept asking me if that was some kind of an American tradition - to take down the tree immediately after Christmas.  I told them no, that normally we leave it up until after the New Year but I knew if I didn't do it right then I would be too lazy to do it later.  Then that afternoon my companion was sick with the flu so I put her to bed despite her complaints and she felt better that night.

Friday was the first "regular" day we had last week, so the week felt pretty short.  But we did as much as we could Friday and Saturday and Sunday to move the work along.  Saturday we went to visit some of our investigators and the husband, José was getting ready to go play in some kind of a performance with his church "band."  He plays the violin, so when he heard that I could play he went and got it out and insisted that I play.  Well, I really can't remember all that much and that violin was SO out of tune and I couldn't really tune it because the pegs were like super-glued and I was pretty sure the strings would break if I tried too hard.  So I had to just place my fingers in different places on all the strings in order to get the music to sound right.  It was strange, but it kind of worked.  Hermano José has basically no training and his technique is quite different, but he played a nice little ditty.  And then he asked if I would teach him a couple of lessons.  I am quite skeptical about that, since I can't exactly speak music-Spanish.  Also because I don't think a violin lesson would count for one of our key indicators....  But it was fun to get to play again for a minute.  I guess there are a lot of violins in Tomé.

Once again I failed to get a picture of the beautiful views of the ocean that we have every time we climb up one of the enormous hills here in Tomé.  I remembered finally to bring my camera yesterday but then I didn't remember to use it.  Boo.  Someday, I promise, you can know what it is like here.  Hermana Gamboa and I went running on the beach on Saturday for our exercise.  It was awesome.  I had never done that before.  We had a great time!

So when I got to Tomé I was super excited because there is a real stove and an oven here.  That is not the case in every mission apartment, so I was pleased.  But everything is gas and you have to light the stove with a match.  Anyway, one night when we got home we were really hungry but we had basically no food in the house since nobody had shopped during cambios.  Well, we did have some corn flour and so I asked my Colombian companion to make some arepas, which are like little corn pancake things.  Super delicious!  Well, she said, "no tenemos fosforos," (fosforos are matches) and I didn't fully understand her or wasn't listening very well and I thought she was referring to the corn flour.  But I had some of that, so I told her not to worry, that I had some, so I went and got it out and she made some arepas.  Then when it came time to cook them, she asked me for matches and I was like, "I don't have any."  And she was like, "I told you we didn't have any and you said you had some - that's why I made these!"  Then I felt really silly and really sad because now we had arepas that we couldn't eat because we couldn't cook them.  So we fretted about it for a minute and I started looking everywhere for matches when Hermana Gamboa comes in and says, "Do you want fire?"  We were both like, "YES!" and I assumed that maybe SHE had matches, but then she points to the hot water heater thing and says, "Supposedly when someone takes a shower this lights a flame."  WHAT A GENIUS!  So we turned on the hot water and rolled up a piece of paper and stuck it up inside the calefont (that's the hot water heater) and lit it on fire and then we were able to light the stove and eat our arepas!  It was awesome.  And we lit the stove that way for over a week (since we forgot to buy matches last P-day) until I found the matches that Hermana Vieda had said she thought Hermana Rane had taken with her.  They were in Hermana Martinez's closet with her jewelry and whiteboard markers.  So now we have matches.  But if we ever run out, no worries, right?

Anyway, that's the report for this week.  Also, mission time warp side note - this week as the year 2013 closes, it will be a complete year that I have spent in Chile.  So after I get home if you ever refer to anything that happened in 2013, I probably won't know what you are talking about.  Isn't that strange?  But I hope you all have a very Happy New Year!  I think it's gonna be a good one.

New Year's Resolution for all of you - READ THE BOOK OF MORMON EVERY DAY!  We all have the opportunity to start out this new year right and we can have a perfect year where we don't miss a single day of reading - even if we only have a chance to read one verse, I know that we can do it!  It will be a challenge for all of us, but I also know that we will be greatly blessed for our efforts and our sacrifices.

Wellp, love you all.  Hope you have a great week and a lot of fun with your New Year's activities!  We'll probably be sleeping when the New Year comes in, so make sure y'all celebrate it nice a good in my honor.



I Shall Have the Beach for Christmas (December 16, 2013)

Hello All,

Today we had cambios.  President says I am to go to Tomé and be companions with Hermana Vieda.  Hermana Martinez (who I lived with in Chillán) is also in that house, and she will be finishing the training of Hermana Frandsen's companion from last cambio, Hermana Gamboa.  This will be the first time I live without gringas since Hermana Fajardo and I were alone together for those five weeks in San Javier.  However this time it is not 50/50, but three against one!  I am a little worried about that.  I can teach a lesson and communicate just fine and stuff, but I am just not very funny in Spanish.  But I hear that Tomé has hills (good for getting in shape after flat, flat, flat sectors my whole mission) and ocean!  I have yet to see the beach here in Chile except from afar during mini-cambios in Penco and Lirquen.  So that will be fun.

Hermana Frandsen and Hermana Chavez are going to be companions, as now all the Sister Training Leaders will be in companionships, just like Zone Leaders usually are.  I can't believe how good they have it.  They were my first and second choices for companions and instead of being with me they are going to be together.  So unfair!  We were surprised to learn that in Hualqui not only are they NOT sending elders this cambio, despite having made all the arrangements with lunches and the new house and everything, but they are also closing my sector and having just one trio of hermanas there.  Hermana Razeira will be joined by Hermanas Martos and Meyer, and Hermana Call is getting sent to Collao to open a new sector with her new Sister Training Leader companion, Hermana Oldroyd (they were companions in a trio in the MTC along with my "hija" Hermana Holland, so that's interesting).  Also of note is that this cambio I am becoming a GREAT-GRANDMOTHER in the mission.  Hermana Lyons ("daughter" of my "daughter," Hermana Morán) will be training!  AAAAAH!  I am SO OLD!!!  I will not be able to take any more pictures of myself during the mission because now my hair is all white and I am all wrinkly and gross.

Sorry about all that cambio talk.  I know it is probably super boring for all of you, but I find it absolutely fascinating, the way these things work.  I always want to know as much as possible about where everyone is every cambio.  Probably my propensity for gossip feeds that need.  But I think that being curious about cambios is one of the more acceptable way to appease my gossip monster, so it's a healthy outlet, at least.

Today was a really hard one because I had to send Hermana Haymond home.  She has been pretty sick over the past couple of weeks and after a lot of prayer and many blessings, she and her family and her stake president and President and Hermana Arrington decided it would be best for her to go home and get better rather than try to stick it out here.  They took us with them to the airport.  It was sad.  And super stinky.  But I am looking forward to hearing about how she progresses in the Harry Potter books once she gets home.  The "Very Important Vocabulary Words" that Hermana Call and I have been trying to teach her haven't been sticking in her brain very well yet.  So far the only one that has stuck with her is "muggle."  Probably because, unlike me, she is one.  It is because of that that wizard vocaublary is just harder for her to grasp, I think.

Anyway,  lots of other stuff happened this week, I am sure, but I can't think of anything else to write about.  Except that this ciber is playing really lame techno music.  I wish I could shut my ears off.

How did it go last week with the commitments?  We are going to finish Alma this week - hurrah!  Helaman kind of bums me out, but it is exciting to get there, right?  So KEEP ON READING!  And also, watch this awesome Christmas video:  The Nativity  I could watch those things all day long.

Wellp, gotta go now!  Hope all y'all have an awesome week!

Lovelovelove muchly,

Hermana B