Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Joy that can never be taken away

Hello Everyone! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope you had
such a wonderful time with your family as you celebrated the birth of
Jesus Christ. What an amazing week it has been! Words can't even
describe the joy that I feel about being a missionary and having the
opportunity of celebrating Christmas here in England. Christmas is
England is absolutely brilliant. It just as America does it...they
have lights, trees, presents, etc. But there are quite a few
differences as well. They are big with advent calendars (pulling out
chocolate for each day as a countdown for Christmas), lights are
unique and different to each city and town, they have something called
mince pies and Christmas puddings that they like to eat around
Christmas time, and they do something called 12 days of Christmas.
Everyone will keep their lights up until the 6th of January and if
they don't put them down by midnight that day, it's considered bad
luck. The day after Christmas, English people also do a holiday called
Boxing Day. It's basically just a day off from work to spend time with
families, etc.  They also like to do something called Christmas
crackers during Christmas time (not food). I probably received a
cracker each time that I went to someone's house to celebrate
Christmas. They are fun. They are like paper tubes that you pull and
then inside, it has a little prize, paper crown hat, and a joke. Each
person in the family usually gets one. England is different in many
ways but Christmas here was great.  Sister Hamann and I opened up our
packages Christmas morning (thank you Mom & Dad and all those who sent
letters!) and then went finding. Afterwards, we went and had food at
members' homes. Lots of members had us over for a lunch or dinner
appointment during Christmas dinner and Boxing Day. Lets just say that
we were given quite a lot of food! Especially chocolate. I have never
seen so much chocolate in my life before until I got out here during
my mission. I think members thought that perhaps we didn't have any
packages or something and so they made it up with something that is
tasty but not too good for us. We now have a whole cupboard full of
chocolate. But no worries, we are giving a lot of it to elders! :)
Well, A few miracles that we were able to see is that on Christmas
Day, we were able to hand out 8 Book of Mormons that were individually
wrapped as a gift. We told those that we met that if the Saviour was
here on the earth, that this would be the gift that he would give. We
didn't leave the people in the dark though and told them what our gift
was and that we held this Book dearly to our hearts and what it has
done for us. It was great when peoples faces would light up as they
accepted our gift. Talking to the family was wonderful. I was a bit
nervous throughout the day and wondered what it would be like to talk
to them (because this would be my first time). I got on FaceTime and
when they appeared on the screen, I felt reassured and comforted
knowing that they were OK and I was happy to be able to share my
experiences with them. I will never forget my Christmas experience as
a missionary. I love being a missionary! Transfers are coming up next
week and I'm not sure where I'll end up or if I'll stay. Often times,
I find myself thinking about what lies ahead in the future but I have
recognised that as I take it day by day, I'm able to get much more
done. I love my area, my companion, and most of all I love the work.
I'm not sure what is to happen these next upcoming transfers, but
wherever I am, wherever I serve, I am happy because I am a disciple of
Christ and nothing can take that joy away from me. :) Love you all!
Have a wonderful week!
With love,
Sister Burtis
P.S. My ponderized scripture is Hebrews 5:9

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's a Cornish Christmas!

Hello everyone! First off, MERRY CHRISTMAS! Can you believe it's here already? I can't. The time seems to zoom on by and I'm trying to run after it, shouting, "Wait! Come back!" ;) It's incredible as we have approached this week of Christmas, how much I have learned about the Saviour and have much I have truly come to realize the true meaning of Christmas. I love being a missionary at this time and being able to help others to discover for themselves the spirit of Christ. 

This whole week has been filled with many events, finding, teaching, and sharing our Christmas message. At the start of our week, our district met together and we got to play Soccer (or Football as they call it in England). We were blessed with great weather that day and so we played for a good solid hour or so and played some other games as well. I loved being able to run around in the field behind our chapel and kick the ball around. It's been a while since we've done that. With our missionary work, this past week has just proven to be so amazing! I can't even begin to tell you how many miracles we've seen this past week. Something I've really learned to do is to really just reflect and take a moment to ponder each miracle that has happened throughout the day. When my companion and I started to do that, we could come up with a big list of the most tiniest but most incredible miracles we've seen. The scriptures are so true when it says, "By the small and simple things are great things brought to pass." My companion and I are at the moment where we seem to be teaching not a whole lot of people. It's hard but it's helped us to grow. Despite the constant rejections and "not interested" statements as we go and find, there is something that has helped me and my companion to keep going. It's funny because a month or two ago, I would have become a bit frustrated within myself at the times people would reject us. This time, I've felt a change as I have really relied on my Saviour and have trusted more in him. Rejections seem to bounce right off of my companion and I and we are becoming better and better at talking to literally everyone on the street and having faith in Jesus Christ rather than the outcomes. We continue to see many miracles and I'm so grateful to be a part of the work. 

One of the miracles that we were able to see is that we were heading to a potential's house (Linsey) because we had arranged to see her and share with her our christmas message. We knocked at her door and she never answered. Sister Hamann and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and figured we would just continue to knock around her neighborhood. We knocked at the neighbor's door next to Linsey's house and a lady answered. Her name was Kayley. Kayley took the time to listen and told us that after Christmas, it would be a good time to stop by. We said our goodbyes and continued to knock on the other side of Linsey's door. Another lady answered and she was interested. We ended up finding 3 or 4 more potentials that we could work with and we were really excited! Not only that but as we got done knocking the particular street, we were walking back to the bus stop and a lady with her two kids was walking towards us. Sure enough, it was Linsey! Mere coincidence? No, not with the Lord and his work. We knew that this was a tender mercy of the Lord. She apologized for not being able to do that day and seemed really sincere about it. We got to continue to talk to her and re-schedule to teach her this upcoming week. We have met many others as well and we are really excited.
As for Christmas, lots of things have taken place. Sister Hamann and I were going around to all the different members homes this past week and sharing with them the church christmas videos, "A world without a Savior" and "Discover Why". Both of the videos are wonderful and I invite all of you to watch them. Many ward activites have taken place. The Redruth ward Christmas party took place and that was really fun. We got to see the primary sing Christmas songs and do a nativity for us. After that, we got to have pasteys and sandwiches and lots of christmas foods. What better way to celebrate a Cornish Christmas than with a Cornish Pastey :) Then after that, Father Christmas came and give presents to the little children. Geoffrey (our recent convert) came to the party and he really enjoyed it. He fits in so well with the ward and it's been great to see that and him being a member now! :) A couple days after the christmas party, Sister Hamann and I got to sing, "Angels we have heard on high" in Sacrament and that went well. That evening of Sunday, we did a christmas carol service where there was another nativity put on by the children, songs sung together as a ward, and mince pies for afterwards. What a wonderful week it has been, filled with Christmas celebrations! :) 

I love this work! What great reason we have to rejoice in our Saviour and Redeemer! He takes me and my weaknesses and has changed me to become stronger and  more converted. I am so grateful to know that because the Saviour was born, I was given my best friend, my brother, my Redeemer, my King, and my Comforter. He has never failed me nor will he ever fail me or let me down. He has shown me in one way or another that he is always there. He is standing next to me at all times, leading me, and guiding me. I invite all of you to take the time to remember the Saviour and think about those reasons and those blessings you've received from knowing that Christ was born. I love you all and wish a very Merry Christmas! 

With Love,
Sister Burtis 
 I think he's trying to look for something.... So I simply tried to provide him the thing he was looking for.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A White Christmas

 I was brave and tried squid! It was interesting!
 Nativity Scene at the London Temple
Hello everyone! I hope everything is going great with the Christmas
decorating and preparations. December is passing by quickly and I
can't believe it's only two or so weeks away till Christmas. I have
had such an amazing week and I'm not sure where to begin so I'll just
start at the beginning at the week. We got to spend our preparation
day by traveling 5-6 hours to the London Temple. It was fun because we
got to talk, get to know each other, play games, etc. We arrived late
Monday evening and got to meet up with all the missionaries from the
western zone which was great. That was a 1/3 of the mission but we
still had a large group of us. The following day we got to explore
around the temple and go to the distribution center as well and that
was great. After doing that, we go to go inside the temple! Being
inside and even around the temple grounds just really made me realize
how much I just love the temple. I feel so happy and so joyful coming
to the house of the Lord. The London temple too is just absolutely
gorgeous and I can't wait to go again. The sad part of it was that it
just seemed to go by too fast. I'm counting my blessings though and
I'm grateful we were able to go during this Christmas season. There's
just something about going to the temple. There is always just that
feeling of peace and I love being able to do the work for those who
didn't have the opportunity of having the gospel in their lives. One
of the missionaries had actually brought some names for us to do and I
got to do someone from Scotland which was great. The temple trip ended
with us having a nice Christmas dinner and our mission president and
his wife spoke to us. It was wonderful and I was happy to be a part of
that experience. We soon took our travels back to our areas and then
days continued as we did missionary work. The week flew by so fast.
One crazy thing that I did was during last week. One of our members
had us over to have some dinner with her and her husband. Well, they
ended up making a full English breakfast and it was really good. The
member's husband liked to have black pudding with his breakfast meal
and offered us a piece of it. If anyone knows what black pudding is...
it's just definitely something that you'd hear about and say ewww to.
Well everyone from England and the northern area talks about black
pudding and I had never seen it nor tasted it. The same for my
companion so we both faced our fears, looked at this black pudding
sitting there on our plates, picked it up with our forks, and at the
same time, ate it just so we could say that we've tried it. It's quite
different and doesn't taste like what you would think it tastes like.
But for anyone who hasn't heard what that is or is curious to what I
actually could look it up online. I'm curious for my dad to
see if he ever had to try it on his mission in Scotland. Well for this
week, Sister Hamann and I have seen so many incredible miracles this
week. I'll start with some exciting news! Geoffrey, a friend, that
we've been working for quite some time got baptized! I remember
meeting Geoffrey (who had been already taught by missionaries for 1 &
1/2 year already) on day 2 or so of my mission and now he is a member!
It was incredible to be a part of his journey. There were many ups and
downs, challenges and trials, but I learned so much from teaching
Geoffrey. I learned that we need to trust in the Lord's timing. To
really be able to work as hard as we can and trust that everything
will work out according to our Heavenly Father's plan and not ours.
How grateful I am to be able to be a missionary! I have felt a greater
personal conversion on my mission than I have ever felt before. The
joy is immeasurable and I am so happy to be able to see someone
choosing to come unto Christ and taking that leap of faith. I wish
others could see the blessings that radiate from the gospel. It's why
we are continually searching for those who are prepared. We know that
God has prepared the hearts of people and now it's our calling to go
and find those lost sheep. As the work has progressed, we've had to
take a couple steps back. Sister Hamann and I were doing weekly
planning and had to trust everything would be ok so we started with a
clean slate. Many of our investigators that we had found were just not
progressing so we had to drop a lot of them and do a lot more finding
now. However, we have seen so many miracles resulting from this. We
were able to go and knock on several different streets. We'd pray and
ask if these places were where the Lord wanted us to be and if we felt
it to be right, we would started knocking. Often times, we'd have a
plan set in mind but as we'd go and pray about it, we felt an urge to
change our course and go a different route/road. Because we were able
to do that, we were able to see lots of tender mercies. On one
particular street, we were able to knock on all the houses and out of
the 13 or so doors, 11 of them opened up to us and we were able to
introduce to them who we were! We were also able to share with 3 of
them the Christmas video that the church put out this Christmas. It
was wonderful and we were able to receive many referrals, contact a
lot of people, and find many potentials. We are excited to continue to
find and although sometimes we're tired, we've learned that when we
keep pushing ourselves to be exactly obedient, we see far more greater
miracles. The lord's hand is truly in this work. I can testify of
that. I was so happy to be able to provide the Savior a white
Christmas with Geoffrey's baptism but I know that I can always be doing
even more for him. He's done so much for me and I know that all of us
can give him a gift this Christmas. That is truly what this season is
about....The Savior. I love you all! I hope your week is magical and
full of Christmas spirit!
With love,
Sister Burtis

Monday, December 7, 2015

Discover why the Savior is Born

Hello everyone! Can you believe it's already December? I sure can't.
The days are flying by so fast. Ok, so my explanation for why you
might have not heard from me last week. I had typed up a blog update
last week and saved it in my drafts but the it booted me out and my
draft got deleted. I think Heavenly Father is trying to tell me that I
should just go back to the letter writing days and forget about
technology ;) just kidding. The past two weeks have been very
eventful. Two weeks ago, Sister Hamann and I were able to visit lots
of our friends and less-active friends. They are all doing really
well. We can see the work progressing and that is good. It's not easy
at times and often times, there will be things that stops our friends
from progressing but we know that if we trust in God, rather than the
outcomes, it will all work out. I've learned a lot lately that it
really matters on how I feel I've done the work. If I'm doing all that
I can to be a consecrated missionary, than I know that despite seeing
the end results or not, the work will hasten on. At the end of
November, we were able to celebrate Sister Hamann's birthday. That was
a lot of fun. Because this would be her only birthday, I wanted it to
be great so as she was getting ready in the morning, I blew up big
balloons, put up a banner, and put out some candles for her. She
walked in and as she did so, I sang at the top of my lungs, "Happy
Birthday to you!" You could probably imagine what it must have sounded by myself singing a solo and just having woken up. I think
Sister Hamann got what I was trying to say though ;) The rest of the
day consisted of so many miracles and also lots of cake. We are
working with an investigator who is overcoming smoking and drinking
coffee and he told us that day that he had stopped doing both. It's
amazing to see people change their lives around as they learn more
about the gospel. We were able to put up some Christmas decorations up
as a service project for a member and then she fed us lunch and a
vanilla buttermilk cream cake. England knows how to do some really
great cakes. We then did some finding, teaching, and then went over to
another member's home for dinner and they also had birthday cake. So
at the end of the day, we got lots of cake. We were able to share that
with our friends because the two of us couldn't eat it alone. The day
after Sister Hamann's birthday was thanksgiving and our Bishop and his
family invited us over for dinner. Lori (Bishop's wife) was from Utah
and she knew that I would probably want to bring in some of my family
traditions and I mentioned to her that we usually had different pies.
Because she was so kind, that's what she provided for us along with
stuffing, Turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and lion house
pantry rolls. It was really good! So no worries there....I got to be a
part of the thanksgiving tradition :) :) This past week, we have been
able to see many miracles. Sister Hamann and I got to travel at the
beginning of last week to Plymouth and for pday, we explored around
the stores and got to see all the Christmas lights strung around the
big city. We then traveled to Redding and got to attend Mission
Leadership Conference. It was really good. We discussed ways we can
teach others on the streets and how we could best help them to
discover why a Savior was born. There is a great video that the church
put out on and I invite any of you to share that
with your friends. It's a great video of the children around the world
sharing of Christ's birth. I love it and could watch it lots of times!
After MLC, the rest of the week included us going finding, teaching,
and providing service. Just recently, we were able to weed for one of
our members and as we started weeding, it started raining. Well since
its wet and all, it was much easier to weed. However, as we got
weeding, little critters like worms and slugs (I don't think Utah even
has those?) decided to make a home in the dirt. So despite, the slimy
creatures all around, I pressed forward and accomplished the weeding
with my companion. The best news....I didn't die! :) Overall, I'm so
happy to be out here and to be on the Lord's errand. It's been great
to declare to others that a Savior is born and that we have a message
for them to discover why. Sister Hamann and I were knocking one day
last week and an older lady, named Margaret, opened the door. She
thought we were jehovah witnesses but after introducing ourselves, she
came to know who we were. She wasn't all too interested in the message
but you could tell that she loved talking to people. She loves Christ
and Christmas and was amazed that two young ladies were going around
sharing the good news. Margaret mentioned to us that she sees the
youth not even caring or having a purpose anymore. We just simply
explained to her that we know this message we share is true and that
is why we came out to share it with her. We asked her if we could sing
her a Christmas song and she grinned from ear to ear. We started to
sing "Away in a manger" and she started to sing with us. She mentioned
to us that this was one of the songs she'd sing to her kids when they
were little. We were all so touched and felt of the Christmas spirit.
What a great opportunity to declare of the Savior's birth. I'm
grateful to be able to experience a Christmas out here in England on
my mission. It's not easy having to find sometimes in the winds and
rains but it's so worth it. I love this season. Many more remember
Christ at this season even if they aren't a member or the church or
any church. Many more are happier. Families come together and
celebrate. I'm so grateful for this work. I hope as you prepare
yourselves for this upcoming holiday, that you remember the real
reason of Christmas. The word Christmas is nothing without Christ in
in. I love you. I hope all of you are doing well!
With love,
Sister Burtis
P.S. My ponderized scripture is Alma 5:60.
60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.