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!