Friday, November 25, 2016

There is never really an end to Eternal Joy

I still remember the moment our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson under the direction of the Lord announced to the world that an age change for missionaries would take place. "Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21." I still remember to this day the excitement that I felt as a 16 year old, picking up my phone, calling my dad and mom and my friends to let them know that I wanted to serve and couldn't wait. Who knew that one small decision could change the entire way you look at life. I know that the lessons that I learned from my mission are lessons I could have never learned anywhere else. It's pretty hard to not just list out the many endless lessons and miracles that I experienced but as I reflected over the course of my mission, I realized there were some key principles that I needed to learn and that stood out to me.

I believe that the people we meet at the time that we meet them is no coincidence at all. God has a plan in store for all of us. Little did I know of this plan when I said goodbye to my dear family 18 months ago and awaited the plane ride that would take me to an unknown country. After four flights and little sleep, I wondered to myself, "What am I getting myself into?" I was blessed throughout the course of my mission to have been with 7 different companions. I was suprised to realize at the beginning of my last transfer that none of them were from Utah. It's quite rare to say that you didn't have a companion from Utah or even the states itself. Sister Schmidt (my trainer) from Germany. Sister Hamann from Australia. Sister Nguyen from Vietnam. Sister Fromgren from Norway. Sister Wang from China. Sister Chand from Fiji. And Sister Manage from Sri Lanka/Manchester. How blessed I was to be with each one of them. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for putting up with a crazy, silly companion like me. I can't count the many moments where we'd be treking through rain storms, crying because our friends no longer wanted to meet with us or were facing opposition, cooking and laughing about the silliest of things, and simply loving each other despite having been 24/7 with each other. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I must have had the first pick in Heaven to choose my companions. All of them each radiated the light of Christ and had a lesson for me to learn. Each area I was placed in- Redruth, Clapham, Brighton, and Staines carried different cultures, people, friends that we taught, wards, and lessons for us to learn. I loved each moment of each area. Though some days were harder than others, I know that the mapped out plan that God had for me of my mission was made perfectly and made right. 

As much as it was hard, I've learned that Agency plays a big role in the work whether it's with us or other people. It was so hard sometimes to not get frustrated at the moments when many people would say no to us or reject us. Many moments that I'm sure my companions can agree to, we found ourselves asking quite a few times, "Why must they have their agency?" I understand though that, without Agency, even we missionaries cannot progress. We cannot make our own choices and govern ourselves. The rewards and blessings for living the Gospel wouldn't be as sweet to us if we were given no choice. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf says it perfectly in Fourth Floor, Last Door (Oct. 2016, General Conference), "God will invite, persuade. God will reach out tirelessly with love and inspiration and encouragement. But God will never compel- that would undermine His great plan for our eternal growth." 

I learned not only the importance of Agency but I also came to understand the importance of obedience. Around the halfway mark of my mission, my mom emailed me a quote which makes a lot of sense. "Obedience brings blessings. Exact Obedience brings miracles." I testify that this quote is true. I was definitely not perfect on my mission but I strived to be. It wasn't easy but as my companions and I set goals to overcome our weaknesses, we felt the hand of the Lord helping us and more importantly, we witnessed so many miracles. I always thought of miracles to be consisting of someone who was in a major car accident and walked away with only a scratch or bruise. I thought a miracle consisted of someone battling cancer and overcoming it or perhaps someone willing to first pay tithing and sacrifice in that sense and then receive more funds back than they had planned. I never really thought that even the littlest of moments of someone answering their door to us, or saying yes to a return appointment, could be counted as a miracle. It was though. God promised our mission a season of miracles. A harvest. And oh what joy fills my heart to know that I got to be a part of it! I will never forget those moments when at the end of an evening, I got down on my knees, said a prayer, and felt the spirit confirm to me of the many miracles I got to witness. I know that my life will continue to bring so many miracles and I know that as we all reflect on what the Lord has done for us, we will be overcome with such gratitude and joy! "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." (Alma 26:16). 

I will never forget the things that this mission has done for me. Who knew the opportunities of walking, running, stressing, praying, weeping, laughing, teaching, declaring repentance, smiling, hoping, repenting, forgiving, and loving could bring you to being so much closer to God than you could have ever imagined. If anyone was to ask me if they should go on a mission whether when they are older or younger, I would have to simply say, "Yes. You definitely should. You wouldn't regret it either." I understand there are different circumstances in life that might make us question if we should go or not but if ever the Lord gives you an inkling to go on a mission, don't hesitate. I promise that the blessings of a mission are great! I love this work. I couldn't imagine my life without it. I know that this Church is the true church and I cannot deny that. As I drew closer to the Saviour throughout my mission, I realized that no man cannot be without him. He is our light, our friend, our brother, our Saviour. The atonement became so much greater to me than it ever has been before. I know that Christ is aware of every little pain, suffering, or trial that we go through. Though some may not recognize it, He will always be at our side, weeping with us, carrying us, and comforting us. I was grateful to be able to go on a mission because it helped me to realize the pathway that the Saviour walked. I cannot fully comprehend the suffering He had to go through but I know from the fraction of His pathway that I walked, I learned so much and rejoice in the knowledge of my Saviour. The Book of Mormon is a true testament of Him. It gave me a great lighter and conversion to find out that this Gospel is true. It's what got me started on this path of discipleship and I will do everything to continue to stay on this path. I love you all and thank you for the support and love that you showed to me throughout my mission! I could not have done it without you and your great love! 
Love,
Sister Anya Michelle Burtis 

A thanksgiving season filled with miracles

I love this time of the year where we can reflect on the things we are grateful for and to be able to realize the many blessings that we have received. As I reflected on this past week, it was one to remember for sure! Last week and this week has been great! We were able to work with a lot of the members and help them to see the importance of missionary work. What is great is that we have an upcoming Christmas party in the Staines Ward so Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I have worked to invite lots of people to that and invite the members to invite their friends. We have a feeling its going to be very successful! The past weekend, we got to see many miracles. Last week, while working in Stanwell, two of our appointments fell through that we had looked forward to teaching so we used the best of our time and went and contacted some potentials. We had knocked on a lady's door and she opened up. We asked her if she was Claire but she told us that Claire had moved. However, the best part of this amazing miracle was that she mentioned to us that she was Claire's mum. So with that, we got to see if she was interested and she was! Plus, she gave us Claire's new address so we were really excited. We will be able to teach her next week which I am looking forward to. This past weekend, we were suppose to have a dinner appointment with our Bishop and his family on Saturday but something came up for them so Sister Holt called us and asked if we would like to join them in the Thanksgiving meal that they would be having this past Sunday. Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I traveled our way over to their area and got to have an american thanksgiving meal! It was truly wonderful! It was fun to see the looks on Sister Manage's and Sister Chand's face as they saw all the different types of food that was there, seeing that this was their first thanksgiving meal. This past week, we got to see our friend Phil come to church and we were excited about that! He is usually caught up with work but he has a big desire to be baptized and made his way over to church this past week. We are working with Laura as well and she is doing amazing! We are planning to take her to the temple on Saturday which I am so excited for! She knows that this church is true and has a great desire to learn more. We are going to teach her about the restoration and watch the Joseph Smith movie with her so she can understand the life and calling of him. Apart from that, we got to go to President Gubler and Sister Gubler's home for my departure interview. It was really good and I loved the counsel of how my mission has prepared me for life and how the experiences that I've had are going to help me so much, which I don't doubt. It was funny though because we needed to take a train to get to President's home so we did but as we got out of the train station, it was pouring rain. Quickly pulling out our Ipads to locate the map, our map told us to take a footpath that led through a forest that would get to their house. I don't know what we were thinking but we went in and almost got lost. In this wooded forest, there were paths on the right and left sides of us and so we just prayed and continued to followed in front of us and eventually made it out. What was even funnier was that Sister Gubler had called us asking if we needed a lift from the train station but our phone was on silent so we never heard the call. We did eventually get there in the end which was good! :) On the way back from President's, we needed to go to Clapham Junction to switch trains. As we got there, Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I took one look at the Cornish Pasty Shop and knew we needed to go and nourish ourselves with the food from Heaven. As we bought some pasties (which brought be back to the days of Cornwall), a guy asked us what church we were from and told us that he was from Sri Lanka. Sister Manage mentioned back that she was from there too and they both started spouting out some magical language. All in all, we came to find out that this guy was part of a Pentecostal church but wasn't really practicing. What amazing was that he said he felt spiritually low and said a prayer that morning to God for help after seven full years of not praying. That same evening, we had met him and we were all amazed at how God works! Miracle! We talked to this guy and he said he wanted to learn more and was open-minded. Just as we were about to leave, he hurried and grabbed a cone of delicious looking fries and handed them to us, saying, "These are complimentary. A gift from God." What an amazing week! We had the opportunity to share the gospel and teach the plan of Salvation with another one of our new friends named Glen and he's now planning to come to church. I am just so grateful to be a part of this work! I can't imagine my life without it. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy eating lots of turkey, potatoes, and pie! Love you all! 
Love,
Sister Burtis 








Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Remembering the Fallen

What an incredible week! It seemed to be filled with so many miracles and we felt that our week was very productive! In the middle of last week, we had a wonderful miracle. Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I had correlation and afterwards we got talking to some members. While being at the chapel, we then saw a couple who had just walked in but we didnt recognize them. We immediately went over to them and introduced ourselves. They said they lived very close to the chapel and wanted to see what it was like inside. We showed them the chapel and shared our contact information because they said they would like to come on Sunday. They left but moments later, the wife then walked back into the chapel and wanted to make a donation. We kindly said that we could teach her more on the principle of tithing and offered to give her a chapel tour later in the week to which she gladly accepted! Amazing! Throughout the week, we were able to get several referrals from members. One of our returning friends who we've been teaching has a son who is 9 years old (not a member yet) and we asked the son if he wanted to be taught and he said yes! We also got to sit down with a family who just recently moved over from Utah not too long ago and set goals with them. It was incredible because the mom wanted to invite one of her friends to the ward Christmas social and the 11 year old daughter wanted to invite three of her friends to activity days this coming week. The following day, the mom reported to us that her daughter did indeed invite one of her friends to activity days! It's amazing how involved the Staines ward is with missionary work. A funny story that happened to us this past week happened as we headed to a dinner appointment. We took a train to an area called Virginia Water (a part of the area I had never been to yet) and traveled to get to the member's home. As we did so, it was really dark and we had no idea where we were going. Sister Manage was leading from the directions given from her IPad and somehow we found ourselves on a dark, thin footpath that lead through some trees. To me, I felt like we were walking through some haunted trail and had no idea if we were going to make it out alive. A shadow came from behind the trees and my heart jumped but it ended up only being a 14-15 year kid who was walking the opposite direction. We finally saw a street lamp and the main road and breathed a heavy sigh of relief. We thought our traveling was over but to our dismay, we came to the road that we were suppose to walk on and it was completely dark and pitch black. We decided we'd take the longer route and find the sidewalk to walk on beside the road but that didn't help to much either because there really wasn't a sidewalk and it was still dark nonetheless. On top of all that, our phone battery was close to dying. I felt like I was living in the thriller movies. Super scary! Not to worry, I'm writing this email out four or five days later so it means that I survived and haven't died. I just love the adventures that you can have on your missions. Looking back, it just seems so funny. We did finally end up making it to the member's home and we were able to get there at a reasonable time. This past Sunday was Remembrance Sunday and that was so fun to be a part of. The bishop of the ward here wanted for all of us to go and support the memorial that they do at Staines Town Hall so we all first met at the chapel and then walked over to where the Main Street was. People were gathered around everywhere and in the middle of the main street was soldiers dressed up in their uniforms, looking ready to march. At the beat of a drum, they marched forward and all the citizens of Staines trailing behind them.  We all then gathered around the Town Hall where they laid the wreaths of poppies, said some prayers, and made a speech about remembering the fallen. It was really neat to be a part of and to be able to see how they did this memorial service here in England. I thought of my Grandpa Miller who was in the war as well and how grateful I am for his great example of service and sacrifice. Thanks Grandpa!  Something that I came to learn this past week is that planning as a missionary is so important! I understand that it's not only going to help me for my mission but as well as the rest of my life.  The three of us-Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I planned and made solid back up plans with determination to find the prepared. We waited for our bus that would get us to a less-active's home so we could share a message with her. This less-active hasn't been to church due to health problems and she didn't know if she wanted to actually return to church or not. We got on the 203 bus to get to her house but ten minutes into the ride, we realized we were on the wrong bus. We got off, took out our Areabook/plans and felt prompted to stay in the area that we found ourselves now standing in. On our maps, we realised there were a couple of potentials to visit so we took that time to contact them. On our way to one of the former Investigator's homes, we made a man named Glen! Glen had just recently lost his dad and wanted to know more about our message. We got to set a return appointment for Saturday and parted ways. A minute later, we then stopped by the former's home and he was just about to go out somewhere. We introduced ourselves and he (David) mentioned to us that it had been four years since he had been taught but that him and his now 11 year old daughter would be willing to meet on Saturday as well! Miracle! To top that all off, the three of us then headed to the Relief Society Chili Cook Off night and to our surprise, the less-active sister who we had originally planned to stop by and visit that day, was there! Season of Miracles! It was great to learn that we should never doubt in the plans and backup plans that we made but to never be afraid to change them if we feel prompted! God knows how to direct His work so let us all carefully listen and willingly follow to His spirit. I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Love,
Sister Burtis 
Traveling to a members home in the dark woods.

Learning how to make fish

video

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Birthdays and Bicycles




Hello family and friends! I hope you are doing well. What seemed to be
a sunny week last week and nice temperatures, seemed to drop suddenly,
and become bitter cold all of the sudden. Sister Manage and I both
agreed that this weather was a lot colder this year than last year.
This past week has been filled with miracles! Last week, we were able
to attend correlation meeting and then our friend Hassan showed up to
English class which is usually taught by our ward mission leader. What
a miracle! Unfortunately he couldn't find the bus stop across the
chapel and someone eventually leaded him there but by the time he got
to the church, the class was over. The three of us sisters and a
member helped him though and did our best to teach him some English.
The following day, Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I got to travel to
Kingston for our district meeting which took us a while via trains and
buses but we made our way and found the chapel. It was a smaller
chapel and hidden behind some wooded forests so that was an adventure
to try and find! :) We had our district meeting with the district for
the first time for the transfer so I got to meet new missionaries.
It's crazy but as you get older and older in the mission, there are a
lot more missionaries that you don't know. After district meeting, we
went with the sister training leaders over to their area and had an
exchange. I was with Sister Walker and it was really fun! The most
different thing about this exchange was that Sister Walker and I rode
bikes all around Addleston. The three remaining sisters, Sister
Wiscombe, Sister Chand, and Sister Manage walked. I had not been on a
bike for all of my mission up until now so you can imagine how scary
it was for me and how out of shape I might have been. Ive got to
applaud all those missionaries who ride bikes throughout the course of
their mission because it's no easy thing. I was huffing and puffing
and my legs felt pretty sore by the end of it. Plus, the scariest part
of it all was trying to go around the roundabouts while at the same
time, looking out for cars to make sure they knew you were there. At
the end of the exchange, I realised why Heavenly Father might have
made sure I wasn't on bike....I don't think I would have survived ;)
The exchange was great overall and I learned so much! We also found a
lady who was interested and she seemed really enthusiastic about
hearing our message so I'm excited to hear from the sisters on how it
goes. The rest of the week consisted of us bundling up warm with our
boots, thick gloves, scarves, and coats. We did a lot of finding this
week and got to hand out lots of brochures and DVDs. The people here
in Staines, though they say no sometimes, are still very friendly and
willing to talk. Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I were able to knock
on doors and do some street contacting and find ourselves in the
finding stages at the moment. We're not losing hope though and we have
faith that we will find the prepared! We got to do some service this
past week and do the poppy appeal which was fun! It's run by the
British legion and the poppy appeal is selling paper poppies and pins
and gathering donations for soldiers and families of soldiers. It's
all for remembrance day which will be this Sunday and it's to remember
those who have died in the wars and for the gratitude of the soldiers
in the war now. It's quite cool to see everyone in the different
communities being unified as they wear their poppies on their coats.
The end of the week consisted of Laura, our friend, coming to church
and that was great! That evening, we found out it was her husband's
birthday so we knocked on his door and sang Happy Birthday to him
which he seemed to really like! We feel the Lord working in many
different ways to soften the hearts of his children and we know that
there are prepared people out there. To top of the week, we got to
teach an 8 year old boy named Andrew about the restoration. His mum is
less-active but knows the importance of baptism so she wants us to
teach him. It's amazing the meekness and humility this little boy has
and how willing he is to listen. He would continually say to us, "I
want to receive the Holy Ghost!" We reassured him that he could in
time. The work of the Lord is great! I'm so grateful to be out here on
my mission and I know that the Lord has individual miracles for all of
us to witness. :) I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Love,
Sister Burtis

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

  A week filled with treats not tricks.

I AM LOVING FALL!





Trunk or Treat

Hello dear family and friends! So much has happened and I am so
grateful for the hand of the Lord in this great work. Last week, we
were able to go to the Trunk N' Treat at the chapel for the Staines
ward. Guess what we dressed up as? MISSIONARIES :) I think we won the
best costume award or at least, we should have ;) When we got there,
one of the part member families that we were teaching was there and it
was great because the husband (who's not a member) really enjoyed it
and got talking to a lot of the members. I got to know a lot more of
the members as well as we walked around the different trunks and got
to see how everything was decorated!  It was a lot of fun. It's a
shame to say that although this is probably an American tradition, I
had never been to a Trunk N' Treat until just this past week. It was a
great turnout though and lots of the members showed up. I think a hard
part of it was hearing the Halloween music from some car speakers.
Myself and my companions wanted to rock out to "Thriller" by Michael
Jackson but we knew that we could handle it and it was all worth the
sacrifice. We were able to do a lot of finding and contacting this
week and we actually got to meet a guy named Hassan on the bus. When
we got talking to him, his English was pretty limited but he seemed to
understand our purpose. The best part of it all was that he said he's
planning to come to our English class that our ward mission leader
teaches! It was such a great miracle! Last weekend, we were able to
teach our friend, Sue, and Sue is doing so good! She's got a heart of
gold and is so humble and so willing to learn more about our message.
As we have followed up on her scripture reading, she's doing really
good and continues to say, "I think the Book of Mormon is true." We
got to teach her about the gospel of Jesus Christ and she got so
excited as we approached the topic of baptism and Holy Ghost. The best
part of it all was that she came to church and that she loved it. The
members were so good to her and reached out to her with love. We were
able to teach Sue again just recently and as we asked how she liked
church, she smiled, and said, "I loved the things I learned. I want to
come again!" What a miracle! Phil, her husband, is working a lot but
also wants to learn so we are hoping that we can see the both of them
baptised before the end of the month. They have such great potential!
Halloween was really good here. Not a lot of England people celebrate
it as crazy as the Americans do but we were still able to see a lot of
people with their kids, dressed up, and trick or treating. That
Halloween evening, we got to do a FHE activity with Laura, our friend,
and got to cook butternut squash soup and share a message with her. It
was a lot of fun and her husband even joined as well. The Lord is so
good to us and though there seems to be a lot of opposition of times,
I know that the Saviour is with us and is guiding us. Some funny
things that happened this week was that since I came into Staines, we
needed to get another bed frame for my mattress. For a period of time,
I was sleeping on the mattress on the floor but it didn't bother me
because the mattress was comfy. This past week, we finally got a bed
and Sister Manage and I put it together. It was quite funny because
the wooden panels on it were really bent and it was a bit cheap so as
I got on the bed, it held the mattress up just fine as I slept but
then the next morning, the wood panels came down. It was a pretty
cheap bed frame I think but it's all good now and holding up together!
:) We also got to clear up our flat and have our carpets cleaned.
Apparently, the carpet hadn't been cleaned for a while and the flat
has been used by many missionaries before me and my two companions. We
got to clear out tons of clothes and things left behind by other
missionaries and ended up throwing away tons of things. It's been such
an eventful week! I'm so grateful to be a part of this work and I know
that the Lord is truly aware of our needs. I know He loves all of us
and really wants the best for us! I love you all and hope you all have
a great week!
Love,
Sister Burtis

Friday, October 28, 2016

"...Eye hath not seen, nor Ear Heard."

Loving the autumn weather! Thankfully it hasn't rained too much this
week :)


Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I making curry for an investigator.
The rest of the pictures consist of lots of Birthday celebrations,
food, and cake for Sister Manage and her birthday :) Two members each
did a meal for us on her birthday and it was lots of fun. Her
chocolate rose cake was crazy cool!

Got asked to prepare food for 28 missionaries for specialised Zone
Training so we rallied up our team, got the ingredients, and we
(sisters) made Chicken Curry for the Zone Training. It turned out
really good!




Hello my dear family and friends! Staines brings so many adventures.
The autumn time seems to be getting closer and closer to an end but
the red, orange, and yellow leaves continue to remain so hopefully
it'll last just a while longer. Here in Staines, members are so
involved in the missionary work, there are lots of service
opportunities that arise, and lots of miracles are taking place!  I am
so grateful to be a part of this great work. Last week, after our
preparation day, Sister Manage, Sister Chand, and I walked over to the
chapel and had ward correlation with the zone leaders and our ward
mission leader. After that, we were able to meet some members who
showed up for English class and it was fun to get to know them. The
following day, we got to see a returning friend who had been
struggling with some health problems so we were able to go and visit
her. Something I love about being a missionary is being able to reach
out to those in need. There were countless opportunities that we were
able to serve some people this past week and it was amazing. We got to
help a member for a big party she was having and got to cut lots of
vegetables and fruits. Sister Manage then got asked to cook Chicken
Curry for 28 missionaries and we (Sister Chand and I) helped her
prepare it. It was a bit stressful at first having to chop a lot of
onions and garlic and try to blend all the ingredients together but
then we got it all mixed together and cooked. I love learning how to
use raw vegetables and different ingredients to make dishes I've never
made before. Not that I didn't know how to cook before ;) .....but I'm
excited to experiment with more ingredients and try out more dishes.
That same day that we made curry was actually Sister Manage's birthday
and she's not a big fan of birthday parties. Well....she got lots of
celebrations that day. Anyone that knows me knows that I love to throw
parties, celebrate, and have fun. That morning of her birthday, Sister
Chand and I got to scream with love, "Happy Birthday!". Then we did
our studies and got to go with the Zone Leaders-Elder Baum and Elder
Thomas- to pick up lots of ingredients at the store for the chicken
curry. Sister Manage got another "Happy Birthday" sung to by the
elders and then after dropping the ingredients at the chapel, the
three of us sisters headed to an investigator's home. Laura is a lady
we are teaching at the moment and she is amazing. Her and a
enthusiastic member named Dee put together a birthday party for Sister
Manage. That evening, Sister Chand, Sister Manage, and I cooked curry
at the chapel and then a family from the Philippines showed up with
take away and more birthday cake for Sister Manage. Despite all the
celebrations, I think she really enjoyed it. :) We got to teach a guy
named Brother Contrarez this past week. All of his family are members
except him and he seems to have a great desire to learn. He has some
concerns but when we taught him part of the restoration, we could feel
the spirit strongly and he did as well. He says he feels good when
having the missionaries over to teach him and we invited to keep
inviting the spirit into his home by reading the Book of Mormon and
praying to know if it's true. He's so close! He'd be a great member
and we have faith that the Lord will help us see great miracles! We
had Stake Conference this past weekend and it was so good! All talks,
given from various members of the Staines Stake, brought words that
were exactly what I needed. Much of it was talked about becoming
spiritually and temporally self-reliant but also the important of
sacrifice and overcoming trials and challenges. It's amazing how the
Lord seems to be speaking only directly to you at times but then you
realize your brothers and sisters are all around you as well receiving
the revelation that they need. Just recently too, we had specialised
Zone Training with President and Sister Gubler and the assistants. We
got the curry ready and the elders got the rice all ready for lunch
and it turned out really great! Gosh, I just feel so blessed to have
President Gubler as my mission president. I nearly cried when he was
bearing testimony of the divinity of Christ and his love for God's
plan. For many months, I have found myself just sitting and staring at
this great and powerful mission president bringing in the spirit so
strongly and speaking the words that we needed to hear and it made me
sad to know this would be some of my last moments of hearing him speak
to us. Something I loved that President Gubler mentioned was about our
divine potential. He had us turn to 1 Corinthians 2:9 which says: "But
as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for
them that love him." President Gubler then asked us to think of the
greatest things we had seen, greatest things we had heard in our
lives, and to think of the greatest moments of our lives. Some
missionaries said, "Seeing the ocean when I scuba dived. Seeing the
starry sky in a dark night. Hearing the sound of a baseball against
the bat. Hearing melodic music. Opening my mission call." He then had
us closed our eyes and then asked us to picture what the celestial
kingdom would be like. After a few moments, He asked us, "What did it
look like to you? What did it have there?" We all listed off some
things that came to our mind as we imagined the celestial kingdom and
then President Gubler said, "All the majestic sounds, scenes, and
moments you've had in your life can't even compare to what the
Celestial Kingdom will look like. EYE hath not seen, nor EAR
heard....Can you imagine what it would be like to live with no pain?
No Allergies, no hay fevers, no colds, nothing. Can you imagine what
it will be like to live with those who you love forever and ever? If
you die in faith, your test is done. As long as your willing to give
up everything here to have something even greater. THERE IS NOTHING
that can replace greater than the celestial kingdom. This is what we
can have and this is what God asks us to offer to people today-right
now!" It was all so mind blowing yet so true! President Gubler opened
all of our eyes to the wonderful potential we all have and how
important it was to share it with others! I love this work and I know
that we all have the greatest potential to reach our Heavenly Home.
Let us know give up at any moment despite trials, pains, challenges,
or opposition that we face because there is so much greater things
coming our way if we endure strong and remember that the Saviour is
always with us! I love you! Have a great week everyone!
Love,
Sister Burtis

Saturday, October 22, 2016

One more transfer, One more time to move

Gosh, I love this sister so much. Training her was such a precious
gift and I'll never forget the memories that we made together! She
means the world to me and I know that Sister Wang will be such a great
missionary! I miss her already but I know that the Lord has great
plans in store for her and Brighton!


One last district meeting/lunch in Brighton with amazing
missionaries!



Sister Lowry and I!


AddI'm not gonna lie and say that someone painted a picture of me and
Sister Wang but it sure does look like the two of us ;) It's a great
painting representing missionary work!

 

The two cute Scottish STLs and Sister Wang and I. So sad to
be leaving them.


Such an amazing lady! She's the one in the purple and her little boy
is on the sofa chair. She is someone Sister Wang and I got to teach my
last day in Brighton and she is amazing! I have good hopes for her and
her family :D Sister Wang will continue to teach her with her new
companion.
Hello my dear family and friends! Who knew so much can happen in a
week! It was quite eventful and quite fun-filled with miracles,
laughter, and tears as well. Sister Wang and I debated on what to do
for our preparation day last week but didn't really have any clue on
what we could do. We talked to our district to see if we could do a
district preparation day but since there was so much to do, we weren't
able to, so we all decided that we'd be doing it the following week
(little did I know that it would be my last one in Brighton). That
evening Sister Wang and I had two appointments and really looked
forward to meeting with them but as traveled the two homes, one of the
people ended up not being home and the other person gave us a fake
address. Not to worry though because we did the best the make the most
out of the time we had and went to a returning friend's home. This
returning friend expressed interest in being taught again and we were
able to speak to him and his daughter. As we sat there in his home,
they had a huge German shepherd puppy that came up to us and barked
very loudly. Sister Wang nearly jumped out of her seat. The puppy was
looking to play with us so we had to ignore it but wow, his barks were
boisterous. We survived that evening without the dog wanting to jump
all over us and managed to talk to our friend and share some of our
message. That following day, before our last district meeting, we were
preparing a presentation on "Developing the faith to find" when
suddenly the phone rang! President asked me some questions about the
upcoming transfers and sled if I would be willing to help out and move
into a trio in Staines. It took me some time for my head to wrap
around the idea that I could actually be moving for my last transfer.
I told him, I'd go anywhere the Lord needed me to go and that was it.
I broke the news to Sister Wang and she was very sad. Poor girl, she
didn't expect it to happen just like me. We traveled to Sutton to have
our exchange with the sister Training leader, Sister Couper, and her
companion and it was bitter sweet. I loved the many different things I
learned on that exchange but it was sad to know that this was probably
my last time I would be seeing these two Scottish lassies. While on
the exchange, Sister Cassidy and I got to go and do service for a
member. We were able to help with some of the house and the Zone
leaders and us were able to assist in helping with putting up shelves,
etc. We came to find out that one of the Zone leaders would be moving
to the Staines Zone as well in the same ward so it made me feel better
to know that I wasn't alone and that there were missionaries that we
knew. The Brighton ward and district for me has truly become my
family. Sister Wang and I and the elders that served in the Brighton
ward grew and learned so much from the challenges that came our way
and also rejoiced together in the miracles that we saw. Our past
weekend ended with us missionaries holding a football/sports night and
we were able to have some returning friends and former investigators
show up which was really good! As I came to the Brighton ward for the
last time, I truly came to realise just how much I love these people
and how wonderful it was to be in Brighton for some of my mission.
Sister Wang and I saw so many miracles my last couple of days. We were
heading to the chapel to finish up the progress record and when we got
to the chapel, we saw a note on the door that said on the front,
"Important." In it, a guy had written that he was from Spain and that
He wanted to be able to speak with missionaries who spoke Spanish. On
the letter, it included his number and his address from Brighton. What
a cool miracle! Thanks to my two years of Spanish from high school, I
was able to pick out some phrases and got the idea of the message so
we called the Spanish elders and gave them the referral. I've never
really seen that before and it just goes to show at God is really
preparing people. On my last day in Brighton, we got to be able to
teach Philomenia! I'd been waiting for this day for some time. We set
up a teaching time with her and on Sunday, we asked the relief society
if any of them could come with us. One of the YSA sisters who had just
recently returned from her mission, raised her hand, and said she
could go with us to go and teach Philomenia. The best part about it
all was that Philomenia was from Ghana and this other sister was from
Ghana! The member joined us the morning of the teaching and Philomenia
was in. As we shared the message with her, Philomenia would ask us
some questions and she seemed to find answers to what she had asked
about. She was very open-minded, accepted the invite of baptism, and
said too that her daughter was pleading to come to church the other
day! Once again, God is truly preparing the heart of His children. I
was sad that it would be my last time to teach her but I know that
Philomenia can make it and I know she will continue to be taught by
Sister Wang and her new companion. I packed my bags, got everything
ready, and said a painful goodbye to my dear sister, Sister Wang. She
is an angel and I'm grateful the Lord gave me the opportunity to serve
with her. I can imagine that Sister Wang and I were in the pre-earth
life and eagerly anticipated the time that we got to serve together.
Within a blink of an eye, it's now over and I'm sad but I'm so
grateful that we got to learn from each other and grow from the
experiences that we had. As I got to Staines, I met my two sweet
sisters, Sister Manage from Sri Lanka and Sister Chand from Fiji.
Wanna know what that means?! I've now officially not had one American
companion over the course of my entire mission. I guess it's not
something to brag about but I think it's just so cool that all of them
are not even from the same place. I had Sister Schmidt from Germany,
Sister Hamann from Australia, Sister Nguyen from Vietnam, Sister
Fromgren from Norway, Sister Wang from China, and now Sister Manage
from Sri Lanka and Sister Chand from Fiji. I told all of them to let
me come visit them and they agreed so I think I might just be
traveling the world in the near future :) As I arrived to Staines,
everything was very familiar to me. They are familiar to me because
Staines is the first chapel I came to when I first arrived in the
field and also, we've had several mission leadership conferences there
so it wasn't all too foreign for me. That evening, Sister Chand and
Sister Manage told me that we'd be having a Philippiano enrichment
Night with the relief society and it was so fun. A member actually
ended up bring her non-member friend which was really great and I hear
that the Staines ward is very good to do missionary work. We have
several member referrals that we are actually going to be teaching
this week and I'm looking forward to being able to serve around these
people! Overall, this week has been so eventful but also so wonderful!
I love you all so much! Have a wonderful week!
Love,
Sister Burtis
My new companions:
In the middle is Sister Manage-from Sri Lanka/(Also grew up in
Manchester)
On the right is Sister Chand-from Fiji!
So much fun :)

"Be not weary in well-doing..."

Hello everyone! Goodness, what a week it has been! I was just
discussing the events of the past week with Sister Wang and asking her
what happened last week and as I asked her about certain events, she'd
tell me...."No that was two weeks ago" but indeed, it was just a
couple of days ago. I guess that's always going to be the life of a
missionary. A day will feel like a week. A week will feel like a day.
We were able to stop by a few members last week and are really working
to build unity and increase the work here in Brighton. I loved the
emphasis of members and missionaries working together so we are
excited to continue to do that here in the ward. We got to work with
the young women and young women's president to help us reach out to a
13 year old that we are working with. Her name is Ajoa and she is
really nice! She has been coming to young women's for the past two
weeks now and we are working to teach her and her mom about this
wonderful gospel! :) For young women's, the group of the 6 girls,
us-sister missionaries, and the young women's president got to do
family history. It's been a while for me to do family history so when
we got on the website, I was the one asking the girls what the
different colours or squares meant on the family tree. I also needed
refreshing on all the rules of family history. It was quite fun! We
also got to play get-to-know-you games and it seemed to build a lot of
unity! The members are very good to reach out to the people we are
teaching and are good to friendship any who come to the ward
activities. For most of the week, we've been working to find through
activities. Activities such as young women's/young men's, YSA family
home evening, sports nights, etc. We seem to get a lot of success from
that. A lot of people we talk to hear about our chapel but have never
been to it before so they are quite surprised when they see the
church. Sister Wang and I traveled to a couple of areas this week that
we haven't worked too much in. There was an area called Portslade and
so we went Park finding and street contacting which proved to be quite
successful. There was a lady from Romania whose English was limited
but enough to let us know that she reads the bible and is Christian.
We pointed to our Book of Mormon and asked her if she'd like one in
Romanian. She smiled and said yes so we are excited to be able to stop
by her house this upcoming week and give it to her! We got to park
find and found some few people who were not all too interested but we
felt pretty successful in how many people we got to talk to that day.
As we walked by a tall fence, a soccer ball came flying toward us. We
jumped out of the way to avoid it and behind the fence, we saw two
young boys running up and shouting, "Excuse me! Can you get our ball?"
I picked up their soccer ball and smiling, we told them to be careful
because the next time that happened, there might not be someone to
pick it up for them. One of the boys shouted, "Throw it!" The other
boy yelled, "Kick it!" I thought about it and then decided to kick it
over the fence. I kicked it a bit too hard and it was much farther
past them and into the middle of the playing court. One of the kid's
eyes widened and he looked back where the ball had landed. He turned
back and as he looked to Sister Wang and I, he exclaimed..."That
was....AMAZING!" It sounded somewhat like the little kid on movie "The
Incredibles" when he sees something cool and says, "That was totally
wicked!" It made me and Sister Wang laugh and made our day. The week
continued to be great. We got to knock several streets and found great
success through that. At one particular house, a dad opened the door
and on his shirt, it said-"Proud dad." We smiled and knew how to start
a good conversation with that-- to which he opened up even more and
even got excited and showed us pictures of his daughters on the wall
next to the door. We asked him if we could come back and he said yes!
Miracle! As President Gubler and our mission has emphasised even more
on the season of miracles and a theme of #31, meaning a goal of 31
baptisms for the month of October which has 31 days, we suddenly felt
a greater opposition than we ever have before. We know that the
adversary is doing everything to prevent this work from happening but
we know now for sure that we are truly in the midst of the season of
miracles. This work is hastening! I can feel it! There were a couple
of days this past week where I seemed to have opposition as well.
There were trials and challenges that laid our way but with help from
leaders and people around us, we overcame them and still continued
this work. Following the days after the hard challenges and trials
that seemed like harder than ever before, Sister Wang and I felt
something. We felt the spirit guiding our paths, we felt a sure
knowledge that something great is going to happen! What a blessing it
is to be a part of this great work! Our mission president said it
perfectly, "When you're drowning in fear, doubt, or discouragement,
don't forget that your lifeguard walks on water. We should wake up
with an expectation that it will be a good day, because we have Jesus
Christ on our side!" The rest of the week proved to be wonderful!
Sister Wang got to give a talk on Pioneers this past week in sacrament
meeting and she did a great job. Being from China, she didn't know too
much about pioneers so the both of us got to work on her talk together
and it was a lot of fun. Not only did that happen in church but guess
who came to the Brighton ward!? Sally, the recent convert, from
Clapham! It was so wonderful to be able to embrace her in a big hug
and to see how everything was doing. The Lord does truly provide! He
loves all of us and He will never, ever give up on us! I testify that
this is His work! I love being a part of it and I want to be a part of
it for the rest of my life! Love you all!
Love,
Sister Burtis

Sharing the Love of the Saviour!

Hello family and friends! Did you rejoice like me as the countdown for General Conference happened? Each day as Conference drew nearer and nearer, I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas to happen! This past week was filled with many opportunities to be filled with a spiritual feast. It began with Eastern Zone Conference. Sister Wang and I traveled down early morning to Crawley. There was a meeting for trainers and new missionaries so we went to that which was really good and then the actual conference began. During the trainer's meeting, I was really excited to be able to see Sister Fromgren. As she walked into the room, we both looked at each other with excitement, screamed each other's name, and embraced in a big hug. Reuniting with your past companions is the best. You've been through everything with them and you just truly come to recognise the eternal friendship that you made with them when you see them again after not having seen them for several months. I loved being able to see my old Zone, the Wandsworth Zone, and all the missionaries there. It was great to know that everyone was doing good in that area. Something that Sister Fromgren told me got me really excited. Back in Clapham, Sister Fromgren and I had been knocking a set of doors on a particular street and faced a lot of opposition that day. After many rejections, we had knocked on a door and a lady named Michelle had opened the door and actually let us in. Well later, some anti-Mormon material crossed her paths so she asked us not to come around anymore which was really sad. Sister Fromgren told me that her and her companion decided to try again just recently and she said she wanted to be taught! Apparently one of her friends started investigating so she was curious to learn more. The Lord does truly prepare! We never know to which seeds we may plant! All we can do is open our mouths and share the joy of the gospel! That's something that was really emphasised in our Zone Conference! We got to role-play many different situations and learning how to ask inspired questions, learning to listen, and, how to testify at the right moments. I learned so much and I'm grateful that I got to be a part of that Conference. That evening after Zone Conference, Sister Wang and I got to go to Young Women's because Philimenia (the lady that came to the "Meet the Mormons" movie night) wanted her daughter Ajoa to come. Ajoa came and the young women were so good to friendship her! They got to design t-shirts and it was really fun to be able to answer questions and help them. That evening, Ajoa got a lift home from a member and Philimenia texted us saying, "Thank you so much for the evening! My daughter said that she loved it!" We were so excited by this point and Ajoa plans to come this Thursday which we are excited about. 😀 This past weekend was General Conference and oh how I loved it! I had written some questions down and got many more answers than I had expected. I loved what Neil L. Anderson said about missionary work---> “I suggest that you stop feeling guilty about any insufficiency you think you have in sharing the gospel. Rather, pray… for opportunities. …Please don’t see your efforts to share the love of the Savior with another as a pass/fail test with your grade determined by how your friends respond to your feelings or invitation... With our mortal eyes, we cannot judge the effect of our efforts, nor can we establish the timetable. When you share the love of the Savior with another, your grade is always an A+.” There are many moments where I or other missionaries may have felt we aren't good enough or we can't do this work because of our weaknesses but it's true what Elder Andersen said...our purpose is to share the love of the Saviour with others! It's all my heart yearns to do. I can't wait for these next weeks to be able to share with others the love for this Gospel and what it has done for me. This General Conference is a boost to hasten the work. Members and missionaries can work together to unite and bring our brothers and sisters back home! What are you doing today to help the missionaries in your area? Most importantly, what are you doing today to help the Lord in His great work?  :) I invite all of you to pray for opportunities to seek someone who may be searching for the truth but may not know where to find it. Imagine being in their shoes, without the gospel, a world with no light, no hope, only wondering what will happen after this life. I know this work is true! Something that is crazy is that yesterday, I got an email from the mission telling me I had only 8 weeks left. I consider it the "dreaded" 8 Weeks email and all the missionaries have talked about it in the past. It was weird to get but It gives me a great hope and motivation to work my very hardest and do my very best! In all reality, I feel my mission has only begun. I know that the Lord has many things for me to learn. I'm grateful to be out here serving here in Brighton! I know the people I've met are the people I need to meet and the experiences I've had are the things I needed to experience. I love you all! I hope you have a great week! 
Love,
Sister Burtis 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Meet the Mormons!"-A Success!!




Preparing treats for the activity.

Making dinner for my companion.

 
Hello my dear family and friends! What a crazy week it has been! Not
to worry though- I mean  crazy as in busy and also filled with some
stories to share :) The beginning of the past week was a lot of fun!
Our district went around to the University of Sussex and got to hand
out flyers for our "Meet the Mormons" movie night. Throughout this
past week, more and more students have been coming in for the school
year so it's been a great opportunity to share with them the Gospel.
Being at the university campus though takes me back to the memories of
myself being at Utah State campus. It's fun to be able to be on the
missionary perspective though and getting to worry about sharing the
Gospel than having to stress about a big scary exam or something. As
we got to the university, each companionship then split up from the
group and went to find. Sister Wang and I went to contact one of our
friends but she didn't end up being home so we went around and talked
to some people. One of the people we met was a guy named Will! Will
was actually working for his job and delivering pizza by the
university when we stopped and talked to him. As we shared with him
about the Book of Mormon, he pointed to it and said, "Can I have one?"
Sister Wang and I love that question! We were able to give him one and
set up a return appointment with him. The next day, we were able to do
some service and go to the Bishop's home. Sister Wang and I and Laura
(Bishop's wife) got to make popcorn balls with toffee sauce and also
melted marshmallows and it was very fun! We also texted everyone in
our phone to invite them to the movie night and got some replies back
for some who wanted to come! One of those miracles included a lady
named Philimenia. I need to share with you first how it was that we
met her and what the result of the movie night was :D  So our district
printed out many flyers and got the news spread out to all of Brighton
that we would be having a movie night. One day, we decided to go to
Churchill Square (the big shopping center) and hand out flyers the
week previous to the event. As we did so, we felt prompted to go and
talk to a lady named Philimenia. As we approached her, she smiled and
said, "I know you guys!" We recognised her as well and it turns out we
had talked to her a month or so ago and had given her a Book of
Mormon. We got to invite her and her three children to the "Meet the
Mormons" movie night and she was very excited! The evening of the
movie night approached and Philimenia called us asking us how to get
to the church. We were able to guide her there and her and her
children all got to see the movie! The amazing part of it too was that
her 20 month year old stayed pretty quiet the whole time so Philimenia
could enjoy the movie, her 6 year old wanted to know where the
children's class was, and her 13 year old daughter told us afterwards
that really enjoyed the film. After the movie ended, we turned to
Philimenia and asked, "How did you feel?" She replied, "I felt
something a lot and I want to know when your church service time is!"
What an incredible miracle! We know we are in the midst of the season
of miracles and that the Lord is truly preparing the hearts of His
children. The Lord is so good and He knew the efforts we made for this
movie night and we know that He truly provided. We were able to also
have some less-active friends show up and members there as well who
helped fellowship. The work is going great! We were able to see some
of our friends who have expressed their interest in coming out to
church. We needed to explain though that this week would be General
Conference and they sounded even more excited that they could be a
part of that. I'm excited to see what this next week has in store for
us. Sister Wang and I have felt ourselves getting better and better in
the different aspects of the work that we are trying to improve in. We
know that the season of miracles is here. Of course, there's lots of
opposition that we faced this past week but we saw that as we trusted
God, all the hard things become easier and we receive even an a
greater amount of blessings from Him. I love you all and hope you have
a great week! Thanks for all your support and love!!!!
Love,
Sister Burtis

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The tender mercies of the Lord!






Seven Sisters
 





Hello family and friends! I'm excited to continue to share with you
what has happened this past week. Our Brighton district and the
Eastbourne district got to go to seven sisters and it was a lot of
fun! I honestly felt as if I was walking in a painting. It all almost
seemed like a dream. It was made a reality though when all of us felt
the heat and humidity. It was very hot that day! It left us feeling
tired but we were able to get ourselves prepared to find the people
nonetheless. This week, Sister Wang and I have been pushing to find
new investigators and also invite everyone we meet to the "Meet the
Mormons" movie night. We are excited because it's going to take place
in a couple of days and many of the friends we have and potentials say
that they'll be coming and we have faith that they will! Sister Wang
and I were able to teach many people that we met about the restoration
and we got to set return appointments with them! One of my most
memorable lessons was with a lady named Annie! We got a member to come
with us to the teach and we were able to teach Annie and felt the
spirit strongly. Jamal, her little boy, was running around but he was
often keen and keeping silent for the important parts of the lesson.
What was cool too is that Jamal's dad was there and he took the time
to listen. We said hello to him and as we shook his hand, he told us
that he had met us just a week or two ago on on the Main Street next
to the shops. Our memory was brought back and Sister Wang and I
realized how small of a world it was and realized that we did talk to
him earlier! Super cool! It just goes to show that talking to everyone
is very important because you never know who you will run into again.
Annie has accepted to read the Book of Mormon and she is willing to
learn more! The Lord does truly provide. We were able to see a good
number of our friends this previous week and it's a week that I won't
forget. I've been able to see so many tender mercies from the Lord and
I know that He is truly watching over us. This week and past week has
been a series of a reflection over the course of my mission. It's
suddenly hit me that my mission is a lot farther than I want it to be
and I was sad. Being set apart from the world is great and I love it.
I hope to continue to give my all to the Lord in the time I have left
and I know I have much to learn throughout the course of these next
week! I love you all and remember that the time the Lord gives to us
throughout each stage of our lives is precious and we should always
treasure it!
Love,
Sister Burtis