Monday, January 28, 2013

Sector Hospital

Hello again family and friends!

This week has definitely been one of the strangest yet in my mission experience!

Last week Hermana Lish (she and her companion live in our house and work in the other ward that meets in our building) found some bug bites all over her legs, which is pretty normal for Chile.  But one of them started to look like it was getting infected, and Hermana Lish thought it looked similar to a staff infection she had in her arm during high school.  So last Monday she and her companion were sent to Conce (that´s what the locals call Concepción) during P-day to visit the doctor.  Luckily, the area doctor and his wife were in town from Santiago because they were doing a training at the Zone conferences we had last week.  He thought it needed antibiotic and a culture, but can´t do those things here.  There is a mission doctor in Conce but for some reason she couldn´t get in to see her.  So they sent her to urgencia (urgent care).  They didn´t really do anything for her.  The doctor glanced at it, swabbed a culture without cleaning the area first, and sent her on her way with the wrong prescription.  Then the area doctor made her go back and insist that the doctor in urgencia give her a prescription for the anitbiotic that the mission doctor wanted her to use.

Well, from there it only got worse.  She came back to her sector and worked Tuesday but Tuesday night it looked really bad, and Wednesday we had conference so we were going to be seeing President and Sister Humphrey and the doctors again anyway.  We went to conference and she saw the doctor again after it was over and they were all talking about whether she would have to be sent home or to Santiago, whether she could even stay in this mission or whether she´d have to be reassigned, etc., etc.  Ultimately they decided to send her to the hospital in Conce, but since they didn´t want to leave her sector totally empty for however long she and her companion were going to be gone, they sent me with her instead and we left our companions behind in Chillan to run two sectors together.

The conference was held in Talca, about an hour-and-a-half north of Chillan.  President and Sister Humphrey wanted to expedite our traveling, so instead of having us take the bus back to Chillan with the rest of our zone, they sent us on a little road trip with the assistants.  We drove to Chillan, hastily gathered our study materials and a few days´ worth of clothes, and then went on to Conce with Elders Ames and Navarrete.  They are both really great missionaries and Elder Ames is a really fast driver....

By the time we got to Conce it was almost 11:00 PM.  The assistants left us then with the senior couple from the office, Elder and Hermana Kimball.  We checked in to urgencia again, this time Hermana Lish had been given instructions to ask for her wound to be drained and for her to remain in the hospital at least overnight on IV antibiotics.  Luckily, this time she had a really GREAT doctor.  He looked at her huge, swollen, red, infected leg and said, in Spanish, "You have an abscess.  We need to drain it."  She went on to explain in her best medical Spanish (which she did a really good job of doing, by the way, I was super impressed!) that she had seen an American doctor and that he recommended a hospital stay and an IV.  The doctor said, again in Spanish, "That sounds like the best plan to me."  We were so relieved!  Then as he went to leave the room, the doctor said something in English, and Hermana Lish said, "You speak English?" and he said, in English, "A little.  With two beers I am better."  A funny Chilean doctor who also speaks English - what more could we ask?

So Hermana Lish had her leg cleaned out (and the whole time the doctor was making jokes like, "Don´t worry, this isn´t going to hurt me." and "Wow!  There´s a hole in your leg.  I can see all the way to China!") and the Kimballs made arrangements for both of us to stay in the hospital overnight.

Our hospital room had like a really wide window seat with thick cushions on it, which is where I slept.  It was pretty awesome.

So Hermana Lish and I opened a new sector in our mission - sector "Hospital."  We set out pamphlets and pass-along cards and tried to give them out to everyone who came to visit us in our room.  And that hospital room is where we lived from Wednesday night until Saturday morning.  A couple of times the office elders came to visit, and one day they took me to the office for a few hours for a "break" and the Kimballs took me out for ice cream.

Saturday morning Hermana Lish was released from the hospital with instructions to return daily to have her leg cleaned, so we couldn´t leave Conce just yet.  They sent us to stay with some sisters who work in the sector Chillancito, which is part of Conce.  So we went to church with them yesterday and by the end of church, the Relief Society president and the bishop had worked it out for us to have lunch with members every day this week, including that same afternoon, even though they had no idea how long we would be staying.  I was so touched by their care and concern for us.  What wonderful examples of what it means to be disciples of Christ!  And then we got to go on splits with Hermana Mena and Hermana Fajardo yesterday evening after Hermana Lish went back to the doctor for her daily "curacion."

Anyway, a lot of things are still up in the air for us, since President and Hermana Humphrey still have to talk with Salt Lake about whether or not Hermana Lish is able to stay in this mission or not.  They are sending us back to our sectors tonight, and tomorrow we might have a "normal" day, though it´s back to Conce for Hermana Lish Wednesday and Thursday, and I don´t know if I will accompany her or if her companion, Hermana González, will.  It´s been totally crazy, especially since this is my companion´s last week in the mission!  But I know that the Lord´s hand is in everything we do as missionaries, so no matter how weird or crazy this whole experience may seem, there is a reason for it.

Anyway, I have much more to say and no more time in which to say it. But I love you all!  Remind me to tell you about the other reason I almost had to go to Santiago this week in my next email!

Your commitment for this week:  I have been so moved by the examples of those around me who make it obvious by their words and deeds that they love the Savior and the live His gospel.  This week I want you all to commit to show your love for the Savior by living the gospel the very best way you know how!

Lovelovelove you all,


Tuesday, January 22, 2013



Small tidbit about Chile:  I noticed when I first got here that when I would say "hola" to people as we walked down the street, they would often respond by saying "hola" twice.  I eventually came to realize that they do it because there are always two of us, and I guess they don´t want anyone to be left out.  So now I often find myself saying "hola" twice.

Also, we found out something interesting this week from one of our investigators.  Chillan, the city where we are serving, is the EXACT CENTER (the "ombligo," or bellybutton) of Chile!  There is a statue in "centro" which has a man pointing his finger downward at the exact center of the country!  How cool is that?  We HAD to go there and take pictures first thing this P-Day!

And beyond just being an interesting fact, being in the exact center of the country is, they say, also why we have such extreme temperatures here.  They say the heat and the cold "converge" here or something like that.  I don´t know if that´s scientifically correct, but it´s what they tell us!  :)

This week Hermana Bowns and I have been learning about potential.  We had a meeting with our district leader and one of our zone leaders this week, where we set some goals for how to better live up to our potential.  Elder Bracken (zone leader) reminded us that we will probably never in our lifetimes fully live up to our potentials, because we can´t be perfect at everything all the time.  But we can try to be a little better.  And in our missions we have an opportunity to try to live more up to our potential than we ever have before in our lives.  That´s why missions are so hard.  

And you know something else?  As you strive to fulfill your potential, your potential GROWS.  That´s another reason why 100% of your potential is something nobody can achieve!  But why not try to come as close as we possibly can?

There are many reasons why we might be living beneath our potentials.  It could be because the things we know we can or should change seem too difficult.  It could be because we are afraid.  It could be because we have experienced disappointment in the past and we don´t want to experience the same pain again.  And sometimes, it´s because we don´t even realize how great our potential is!

President Uchtdorf gave a talk in the Priesthood session in October 2011 about living up to our potential, and they recently released a Mormon Message which depicts a story he shared in that talk.  It is a current favorite of Hermana Bowns and I.  You can watch it here:  

It´s really awesome and really horrible all at the same time, isn´t it?  The music totally gets me, it´s just so heart-wrenching!  But I love what President Uchtdorf says, that we will be able to do ALL THINGS through Christ, who STRENGTHENS us.  The Savior has given us access to ALL the blessings on earth and in heaven through His great atoning sacrifice.  They are there, just waiting for us to rise to our potential to receive them.

Hermana Bowns shared with me a BYU devotional by Brad Wilcox that teaches the Atonement using a really great analogy - piano lessons.  Mom wants her child to have the gift of music, so she pays for piano lessons.  And what does she ask in return?  That the child PRACTICE.  Does his practicing repay his mother for the cost of the lessons?  No!  Does his mother ask for repayment in full if he misses a day of practice?  No!  But if he doesn´t practice, he cannot receive the gift of being able to play the piano.  The Atonement is like that.  Christ ALREADY PAID the WHOLE price, and all He asks in return is that we FOLLOW HIM.  That we PRACTICE the gospel and try every day to live up to our potentials to receive all the blessings in store for us.  We needn´t try to repay Him - we can´t.  But if we want them, the blessings are there.  We just need to try to live up to our potentials!

So, your commitment this week is to choose ONE small goal that you can work on in order to more fully live up to your potential.  Hermana Bowns and I are doing the same!  President Uchtdorf gives some great ideas for that if you read his full discourse here:

Well, my time for this week is gone again.  Remember that I love you all and I am so grateful for all your support and love.


Hermana Burgess

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hermana Hamburguesa

Hello Again my Family and Friends,

Once again, I have very little time in which to write this letter!  I´m sorry!  I still love you all!

This week we had interviews with President Humphrey for the first time since I got to Chile.  I was really nervous and stressed out about it, but it wasn´t too scary in the end.  Though he did ask me how I would feel about having a Latin companion and to be prepared very soon to be the senior companion!  Aaaaaah! :S  I knew it was coming, because they have been telling us since we were in the MTC and the age limit was lowered that we´d probably start training someone else almost immediately after our own training and then we´d probably train for almost the rest of our mission.  It seems really impossible that I will likely have to be largely responsible for someone else, and even more responsible for my sector, in just a month or so, but the odds are really against me not at least being the senior comp (if not training) when the 19-year-olds start arriving in April.

Just so you can get a little bit of a better idea, right now we have 24 sisters in our mission.  Hermana Bowns and at least one or two other sisters are leaving at the end of this transfer, in the beginning of February.  So there will be approximately 20 sisters, and we are getting four or five new sisters (all Latins), who will be in training for 12 weeks.

So there will be about 24 sisters, with four in the first half of their training, and another three or four in the second half of their training (also all Latins).  Then there will be a three-week transfer, and a six-week transfer, and then three or four more sisters will be going home.

So after we send them home, we will have approximately 20 sisters in the mission, with four of them still in training for another week.  Then that same week, on April 9, we are receiving SIXTEEN new sisters in the mission.  So that means that out of the THIRTY-SIX sisters in the mission, 19 or 20 sisters will still be in training and another four will have only been out of training for three weeks.  It´s CRAZY!  The number of missionaries in each ward is doubling in many places in our mission, for elders as well as sisters.  The Lord is really furthering His work!

But after having President bring that up in interviews, I´m more than a little scared about what is just around the corner for me.  Hermana Bowns says that I´ll be fine, but somehow I´m not so sure that I believe her yet....

Anyway, I don´t have much else to report from this week.  Summer is in full swing, and there is no such thing as air conditioning here.  Most people sit in whatever shade they can find wearing as little clothing as possible, or they sleep.  Or they play in their inflatable pool.  I always feel like a melting popsicle, with sweat dripping down my back or my legs all day long.  We wear sunscreen but we still have the sister missionary tan lines - our feet are really, really brown and our legs are like dip-dyed because of the different lengths and the movement of our skirts.  I have a line where the strap from my bag sits on my left shoulder, and I keep switching my watch to try to avoid the nasty watch tan line!

Something I keep forgetting to tell you is that nobody (and I mean NOBODY) can pronounce my name here.  Something about the "r" and the "g" being placed together or something.  The only word in Spanish with those letters together is "hamburguesa," so many people call me Hermana Hamburguesa.  Some screw up their faces and try to say it, but they can´t, or they have me repeat it several times and then say, "¡que dificil!"  Others say things like, "que lindo su nombre" (what a nice name), which I know means that they just think it´s weird or they don´t want to try to repeat it!  And no one can spell it either.  I´ve started keeping a list of the different ways people have tried to spell my name.  It includes, Burggers, Bergess, Burguess, and Burgees.  One member calls me Puelches (which is the name of a street here) because to him it seems to rhyme with my name.  I have tried pronouncing it with more of a Spanish accent, but it´s still really difficult for them to say.  It´s really quite entertaining, though.

We always sing a hymn every morning before we start companionship study, which is awesome.  We are trying to sing all the hymns in the Spanish hymnbook.  But sometimes Hermana Bowns and I get distracted and look up the meters to hymns in the hymnbook and then sing the tune to one hymn with the words to one with a matching meter.  This week we discovered a new favorite hymn, "The Time is Far Spent."  You may have heard this hymn before, but it doesn´t get sung very often.  The tune is really quick and cheerful, and it distracts a little from the lyrics, which were written by Eliza R. Snow:

The time is far spent; there is little remaining
To publish glad tidings by sea and by land.
Then hasten, ye heralds; go forward proclaiming:
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven's at hand.

Shrink not from your duty, however unpleasant,
But follow the Savior, your pattern and friend.
Our little afflictions, tho painful at present,
Ere long, with the righteous, in glory will end.

What, tho, if the favor of Ahman possessing,
This world's bitter hate you are called to endure?
The angels are waiting to crown you with blessings!
Go forward, be faithful, the promise is sure.

Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you;
The weight of your calling he perfectly knows.
Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you;
His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.

The last verse rings particularly true to me:  "Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you; / The weight of your calling he perfectly knows."  Satan is out there trying to get ALL of us to stray from the path of Jesus Christ.  He knows how important it is that we stay on it, and he knows that those who have found it want to bring others with them, so he tries as hard as he can to stop that work from going foward.  We must keep pressing forward and moving toward our goal despite his attempts to get us to do the contrary!

"Your path may be thorny, but Jesus is nigh you; / His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose."  The Savior is ALWAYS there for us, and He can help us to overcome ALL THINGS.

I love this gospel!  I am so grateful for it and especially for the love and example of my Savior, who has made all things possible through His Atonement.

This week´s challenge:  How are you doing in your Book of Mormon reading?  Have you been reading every day?  If not, start!  If so, read a little more, or dig a little deeper.  Get to know that book like you know your very best friend!

I love you all and I´m so grateful for all your love and support.

 Hermana Hamburguesa

First Letter of 2013

Hello Everyone,

My time is SHORT today, so I apologize in advance for the brevity of this week´s report.

New Year´s is a HUGE holiday here.  Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has a barbecue (asada) with their family.  There was a visible haze in the air from all the barbecue smoke on Monday night, and our whole sector smelled like barbecue and beer.  They don´t start eating until like 9 or 10 at night and then they stay up until all hours.  We worked until 10 as usual, then planned as usual.  Then we ate peaches (duraznos) and queso fresco (which is a kind of fresh cheese that I had never seen before coming here, but which is really good), while we watched a couple of scenes from the Church film Togeher Forever (Juntos Para Siempre) while we waited for it to be midnight.  Then we went to give New Year´s hugs to Hermana Myriam, the member who we rent our house from (there are two houses on the same lot - she lives in front and we live in the small one in back).  She gave us Coke and Pan de Pascua (like fruitcake, only SO GOOD), because if they don´t give you food when you are in their house, they aren´t Chilean.  That was our awesome and very low-key New Year´s celebration.  The next day they had fireworks going off while we were planning and we could see them out our window, which was fun.

So it´s a new year!  Remember my letter from last week?  Well, I really needed to remember it because it turns out I have a really hard time being perfect as a missionary!  Can you believe that?  But even though every moment is hard and I always seem to be doing something wrong, we were truly blessed by our Heavenly Father this week.  We met some really incredible people whom I hope to be able to tell you a little bit more about sometime.

But - this is very exciting, so put on your seatbelts and prepare to be proud - for the FIRST TIME since I entered the mission field, we MET OUR GOAL for finding new investigators!  In fact, we even exceeded it by one!  It was a miracle from the Lord and we are so grateful.  We also had the most investigators in church we´ve ever had as well.  It was very exciting doing weekly planning last night and getting to write down our accomplished goals and just feel so blessed to have been able to do a little bit more this week than I´ve ever done before.  I know Heavenly Father is looking out for me and for these people whom He has sent me to teach.  When we don´t meet goals, it just means we haven´t been inviting people to come unto Christ, and so seeing a little improvement helps us to realize that we are doing a little bit better at fulfilling our purpose as missionaries!

Anyway, I REALLY have to go.  The time for me to be on the computer is "Far Spent," as the hymn says.  But don´t forget that I love you all!

Your commitment this week is to think about someone who blessed your life in the past year by their words, actions, or example and thank them for it!  You can write a note, give a gift, make a phone call, or even do an act of service for them.  But find some way to show your gratitude and love for them.

I love you all and I´m ever grateful for your love and support!


Hermana Burgess

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oooops... forgot that this one hadn't been posted yet.  Enjoy!

Hello again, my loved ones!

I am really excited today to be writing to you just in time for New Year´s (or Año Nuevo, as they say here).  We have been thinking a lot about the New Year in our companionship - and not just because EVERYONE in Chile leaves town for New Year´s, so we aren´t sure who we´ll find to teach!  We have been wanting to help our investigators and less-active members especially feel inspired by the Atonement and the opportunity to have a new beginning this year.  To make and keep commitments with the Savior which will enable them to have a better life today than they did yesterday.  And I have been reflecting a lot myself on how I can take the opportunity to live this new year to it´s fullest as well.

I have been thinking a lot lately about this Mormon Message, which I saw a few times in the MTC, and which is one of my favorites.

I love the scripture at the end, "look not behind thee."  What a powerful message!  Because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we need not dwell on the sins and sorrows of the past, but allow the Atonement to help us build a better future.

I think the mission has been helping me to learn this principle more quickly (and more completely) than I could have otherwise.  Every day (or several times a day) I do something wrong.  We have a bad lesson, we fail to extend a commitment, we forget to verify.  We don´t use our time as wisely as we could, or we let our fear and insecurities get the best of us and let opportunities to teach powerfully and with the Spirit pass us by.  But we CAN´T GO BACK.  That moment is over, and now we are on to the next one, and all we can do is make it better than the last.  In the MTC when a lesson went really poorly, I would always ask our teachers if we could just erase it from the memory of the "investigator" and try it again the next day, and they would never let me!  But it´s because they knew that even though we were just practicing there, that kind of thing was really going to happen (over, and over, and over) for real in the mission field.  And you can´t erase it.  All you can do is pray and repent and try to be better next time.

I pray every day to be a little bit better.  Just a little.  To speak one more word of Spanish.  To contact one more person on the street.  To love the people that we serve just a little bit more.  And I want to invite you all to do the same.  This year, don´t look back.  Keep looking forward, with your eyes on the goal of eternal life with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I heard on some point in my mission that sometimes it helps to remember your purpose to imagine your investigators in their baptismal whites.  But I prefer to imagine them in their celestial whites, standing alongside the Savior and with their family members for eternity because of the decision they made to be baptized and to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So here is your commitment for this week (and for the year):   LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE!  When you fail, when you aren´t perfect, when you fall down - imagine yourself in your celestial whites.  Think about where you are going, and it will help you focus on how you can get there!  Trust in the Savior and try again tomorrow to improve.  One of my favorite scriptures is found in 2 Nephi 31:20, and it illustrates this principle beautifully.  It says, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father:  Ye shall have eternal life."

I can´t say it better than that.

I love you all!  Have a safe and happy New Year!


Hermana Burgess