Monday, February 29, 2016

"I feel like Heaven just gave me a hug."

What an incredible week! I can't describe in all words the joy that I
feel but I hope this covers part of what I feel. We were able to have
MLC last week with Elder Johnson (of the seventy), and then
preparation day on Tuesday. That evening on Tuesday was a time that
Sister Nguyen and I anticipated throughout the day. It was Brenda's
baptism interview! Her baptism was scheduled for the 27th of February
and so an interview needed to take place to see if she would be able
to get baptised. Brenda and us met at the chapel and gave each other a
hug before she went in to get interviewed. Sister Nguyen and I were
nervous. I was a swimmer before my mission and I know that my parents
must have felt nervous and excited at the same time when they would
come to my swim meets and watch me race. I felt like this as we waited
for Brenda to come out. My heart was pounding, my mind racing, and I
wanted everything to be ok. Eventually, we were asked to come into the
room and there was Brenda, on her chair, smiling. Not sure of the
outcome but holding our breaths, we were told that Brenda would be
getting baptised! Sister Nguyen and I rejoiced and so did Brenda. We
all knelt down in prayer and I was asked to say it. I will never
forget this moment as I said the prayer out loud in behalf of all of
us in the room. The spirit confirmed to me that this was truly the
Lord's work. That Brenda was ready and that this was a great time to
be able to rejoice and be excited. The joy that is felt when a
missionary is told that their friends are going to be baptized is
undescribable. We were able to teach Brenda after the interview and
showed her the baptismal font as well. We asked her to imagine what
her baptism would be like and as she did this, I played the piano as
if it was her baptismal day and there were hymns being played. The
spirit was yet once again felt very strongly. The week continued to
move forward and all of us were excited for the baptism. We prepared
the program, called up people, and would stop by to teach and help
Brenda prepare. The week flew by and before we knew it, Saturday came.
Before the baptism, a Relief Society Birthday Party was taking place
which was lots of fun. It was to celebrate the anniversary of Relief
Society which was created on March 17, 1842. All of us relief society
sisters were able to have a lunch, do some get to know you games, and
also have a spiritual thought. One of our investigators, Sally, was
able to come and she is doing great. She has been to church three
weeks in a row now and has been soaking in the gospel. She loves
coming to church and we are excited to be able to continue to work
with her. Brenda was also able to come. It was a good turnout. After
the activity was the baptism! Many of the sisters stayed and some
other people came as well. It was very spiritual and to see Brenda all
dressed in white was just amazing. The baptism went so smoothly and
everything worked out great. Something I won't ever forget is Brenda
and her testimony that she shared after she was baptized. She simply
said, "I feel like Heaven just gave me a hug. My heart has longed for
this all of my life but now I feel like I'm one step closer to God. I
feel like I'm home." Brenda is truly incredible. Teaching her was such
a blessing and privilege because it really seemed like she was
teaching me through her amazing faith and her courage to take this
step and to draw nearer to her Heavenly Father and to the Saviour.
This past week has gone by within a blink of an eye but it's been very
wonderful. Some other key highlights from this week is that we met a
guy by the name of George by the bus stop. George was waiting for the
bus just like we were so we decided to talk to him. He was very
receptive and asked us regarding the Book of Mormon and how it
differentiated from the bible. Sister Nguyen and I answered his
question and were able to testify of its' divinity. There are truly
people prepared out there on the streets. Being in the South London
city, I've learned to throw away any pre-judgements, walk up to
people, and just start sharing about the gospel. It's incredible the
results that we can see if we just trust God and are willing to be an
instrument in His hands. Often times, people reject us but having many
people reject us to find the one prepared is so worth it! Something
else that was fun this past week was that Sister Nguyen and I went to
teach Christine (a lady from France) and her kids. Christine and her
two daughters got baptised just last year and they are so nice! They
always feed us amazing French dinner courses or just great meals in
general. Well this time, Christine and one of her daughters prepared
snails. They were seasoned with garlic and olive oil. So ya...I tried
snails for the first time. I was brave, ate them, and they ended up
tasting really good. My list for trying weird, exotic foods is growing
:) I love the experiences that I've had since I've been out on my
mission. I know that without them, I couldn't be the person I am
today. I truly have my Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, to
thank for that. I love being a missionary and I know these are moments
that I'll never forget. I love you all! Have a splendid week!
Sister Burtis

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Conferences with a General Authority

Hello! I hope all is going well for you! What a week! This past week seemed to be a bit longer than the others but once the weekend came around, it passed by so fast! Sister Nguyen and I were able to work with a lot of our investigators and helped them to build their faith. We are grateful to be able to be working with the people that we are working with and we hope that they will be able to progress in their journey of discovering the Gospel. Something that was really fun was that we are teaching a family from India, the Shamim Family. The dad, the mom, and their son. Every time that we would come over to share with them a message, they would want us to eat dinner with them but because we didn't know beforehand and because we hadn't put it in our plans, we weren't able to. Well this past week, we had planned to have a dinner with them and it finally happened. This family was so excited that they could feed us Indian food and they would explain what everything on the table was as they would dish it out on our plates. It was quite fun and really good food. Proper Indian food is really good. Sometimes spicy, but really good. The family explained to us that a lot of people from India like to eat with their hands. It was really neat to learn more about their culture. A miracle that we were able to see this past week is that Sister Nguyen and I were going to contact a referral that we had received from someone we met on the streets. On the way there, we saw a man cleaning his porch outside his home and so we stopped and talked to him. He expressed that he was interested and so we set a return appointment with him for the following day. The next day as we went to go and teach him, it ended up that he wasn't home. We were a bit sad but just then at that very moment, we got a text from an investigator that we had been working with. This investigator struggles to come out to church but in his text message, he told us that he wanted to attend institute that evening. We were really happy and that evening, we were able to attend Institute with him and answer some of questions. We were grateful for that miracle. Often times, there will be trials and challenges along the way but we know that God is looking out for us and helping us go through the Journey that we are making. We are truly not alone in this work. Despite outcomes, despite trials, God is always there and it's so important to trust Him. This last weekend, 1/3 of our mission came together for Zone Conference in Crawley and we were able to have the privilege of having Elder Paul V. Johnson (of the Seventy) come and speak to us. His wife and him were able to have a mission tour of the England London South Mission which was really neat. He discussed how we could better Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts and it was really spiritual. During Zone Conference, each of us were able to shake this general authority's hand and also his wife-Sister Johnson's and we were able to introduce ourselves to them. As I went to shake his hand, I told him I was from Hyrum, Utah. He smiled back and said he had grown up in Paradise, Utah. Later he told me that he was a seminary teacher for Mountain Crest as well. What a small world! He was a really nice person and I learned so much from that zone conference. Something that was really neat as well was that just yesterday (Monday), we were able to attend Specialized MLC (mission leadership training) and Elder Johnson and Sister Johnson came to that and we were able to observe how we as leaders counciled and how our mission in general was doing. There was actually a funny story about getting to MLC. Sister Nguyen and I along with the Zone Leaders-Elder Howe and Elder Bradford all agreed to meet at the train station around 7:15am to catch the 7:28am train. Sister Nguyen and I woke up early, got ready, and left to get to the train station. As we arrived to the train station, the zone leaders called us saying that they would be late and would probably miss the train. As we sat there talking to the zone leaders over the phone of whether or not, we (sisters) should buy their train tickets, we realized that we only had two or three minutes to catch the train. The Elders told us to catch the train so at least some of us would be there to represent the Wandsworth Zone. All four of us were clueless on when the next train to Staines would be so we ended the call with the Zone Leaders and rushed to buy our tickets. Imagine Sister Nguyen and I sprinting to buy tickets with worried looks on our faces because that is exactly what we did. We bought the tickets, ran to the platform, and there was no train. We looked up on the screen and discovered that we had missed the train but that there would be another one in ten minutes. We quickly called the elders and said, "Elders, Elders! There's another train in ten minutes. Do you want us to buy your tickets for you so you can just arrive and run to the platform and meet us?" They told us yes so Sister Nguyen and I (once again) sprinted down the ramp and down the hall of the train station back to the Kiosk to buy the zone leaders' tickets. We did so but then realized we only had three minutes till this next train departed. We dashed off again back to the platform and the train was just barely pulling in. However...there were no zone leaders to be found. With their tickets in hand, we couldn't leave so we watched with shocked looked on our faces as the train pulled away. Thankfully the Lord has wisdom in all things and there was another train in 20 minutes. We were able to meet the zone leaders and hop on the train without being too late for breakfast/the meeting of MLC. It ended up being that there were about 6 trains within the hour that all go to Staines. Let's just say that some lessons are learned the hard way ;) What a stressful adventure but now that I look back at it... It was pretty funny to imagine Sister Nguyen and I sprinting back and forth like four times and trying to call the elders at the same time. Overall, the Mission Leadership Conference was really good. Elder Johnson was able to speak with us and we talked about how the Faith of all the missionaries has increased and how it is continuing to be. Elder Johnson mentioned to us that often times, we are seeking to be so exactly perfect that eventually we get discouraged and it can bring us down. A quote that was mentioned by a missionary says this: "Just like Joseph Smith, we need not live a perfect life to be a powerful instrument in the hands of God."  God has a plan for what He wants us to become. When we (as instruments) are in the hands of the Master, we can be made into something so beautiful. Even the most broken violin can create the purest note if fixed and repaired by it's master. Christ is our master. He mends and He helps us to overcome our weaknesses and find our strengths. I learned so many things from this week and I am excited to continue to learn much more throughout this next half of my mission. Thank you for all your support and examples! Love you! 
Sister Burtis 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A lesson learned of Christ-Like Love.

Happy Late Valentine's! I hope all of you felt loved and if you
didn't, just know that I love you and miss you. Transfers happened and
I'll be staying with Sister Nguyen another transfer as STLs in Clapham
which is wonderful and I'm excited to continue to work here. More than
likely, I'll be staying in Clapham till May or June but that's ok
because I really love this area. Some interesting news that I found
out is that they are taking sisters out of Redruth (my first area) and
putting in Elders. That'll be really interesting but good as well to
mix it up a bit. :) The week has been indeed a splendid one and there
are many stories and things to share. The beginning of last week, we
got to celebrate something called "Shrove Tuesday" or also known as
Pancake Day. It is a legitimate holiday celebrated here in England. On
this day, people eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if they
desire to. It was fun because I have never heard of this holiday but
we celebrated it during that day around breakfast time. Sister Meyer
and Sister Couper (the two other sisters in our flat) and Sister
Nguyen and I all together made pancakes and ate them. It was really
fun! Sister Nguyen have been able to do a lot of finding recently but
it's been good and we have been able to see many miracles. The weather
for us hasn't been too nice however. The weather here is England is
bitter cold. The air is just so chilly. The sun is out and there are
blue skies but I feel to call it the Satan Weather because it lies and
is deceptive. You wake up, look out the window, and say, "Yay! It's
look so warm outside!" You happily put on your light coat, thin scarf,
and outfit, ect., walk outside, look to your companion with squinted
eyes as the air nips at your nose and eyes, and then go back inside to
change into heavy winter gear. :) We are hoping it warms up soon. I
think March will bring some better weather. Despite weather and all,
we were able to meet some good people and have some good teaches as
well. Sister Nguyen and I were able to stop by our investigator
Lucia's home to teach her English and I love being able to go and help
her. Lucia is from Brazil and is just so sincere. As we got to her
home to teach her English, she looked a bit down than usual. Giselle,
her daughter, explained to us in English that her mom's sister had
cancer and didn't have too much time to live. We felt so sad for Lucia
and her family and wasn't quite sure what to do to help. As Lucia
tried to say out  loud the Alphabet in English, tears would run down
her cheeks because of this trial in her life at this time. We felt
impressed to take the time to explain to her the Plan of Salvation in
English and then Giselle would translate it in Portuguese for her mom.
It was an amazing time to be able to see how much hope this plan that
God has created for us has. Lucia was able to be OK after that and we
were able to help her learn so more English. At the end of the lesson,
we had Lucia pray which she did and she did it in Portuguese. Despite
the language barrier, we were able to feel the spirit and sincerity of
the prayer that Lucia said as she prayed to her Heavenly Father. It's
amazing how many different languages and how many different people are
out there in the world. No matter what though, Heavenly Father is
listening to all of his children. I loved being able to receive a
witness of this during this past week. Something that I've really
learned as well is to never judge. While going to a potential's house,
we said hello to a guy on his bike. This guy started talking to us and
stated, "Give me ten reasons to why I would need to Join your church."
As we went to state a reason, he would question everything about it.
He told us that he needed to go but that we should meet him the next
day around the same time for us to tell him the 9 remaining reasons.
We mentioned to him that we weren't there to convince him but rather
invite. His response to that was, "You guys stopped me and are using
my time. So I'll be waiting tomorrow to see what those 9 reasons are."
Then he rode off on his bike. Sister Nguyen and I looked to each other
and both felt a bit annoyed. We didn't want to merely meet him to just
tell him 9 reasons to why he would need to join the church if he
wasn't going to take the time to listen. I silently said a prayer in
my heart and remembered that this guy was still a child of God and
that I shouldn't be too quick to judge. The next day came and we met
with Ben. As we would go to share with Ben another reason to why our
church is true, he would give us a variety of reasons to why it might
be not right. Sitting at the park bench in the chilly weather stopped
us from teaching him too long and in the end, we had to stop at "God
works through this prophets to guide us." Ben mentioned to us that he
might come to church just to see what it was like and then said
goodbye. Sister Nguyen and I came to a conclusion that while this guy
was interested in our faith and religion, he wasn't interested in
changing. So we left it at that and continued our week. We were able
to work and got to meet many potentials which we are excited to follow
up with this new week. As this past Sunday approached, Sister Nguyen
and I were sitting in Gospel Principles and listening to the Ward
mission leader teach about the creation of the world. Some of the
other elders from the other ward in the same chapel as us suddenly
opened the door to the classroom and behind them was...Ben! The one we
met earlier this week. We were surprised but also very happy. Ben
ended up only staying for gospel principles but we got talking to him
afterwards and he said that he really enjoyed it. Miracle! It truly
taught me to never take the first contact you have with someone and
determine what their future will be. The Lord works in mysterious ways
and it is truly the season of miracles. Hearts are being soften,
people are starting to come to us to ask more about the church, and
there is a great and marvellous work happening here at this time. We
never know someone until we truly come to recognize who they are to
our Heavenly Father. I've definitely learned a better understanding of
Christ-Like Love and I'm grateful that I can continue to learn even
more as my mission continues :)
Sister Burtis

Friday, February 12, 2016

Till we "Meet" again

Hello everyone! I hope everything is going good. This week seemed to
be a busy one for Sister Nguyen and I. We were able to played football
(soccer) with our district last week which was really fun. Now that it
is getting warmer and warmer, we are starting to do a lot more things
outside. I think for this past month that I've been here in Clapham,
it's only rained once which has been really nice! The rest of the week
kept Sister Nguyen and I running around. We had MLC on Tuesday so we
made our travels out to Staines. It was really nice to be able to see
my old companion, Sister Hamann, and to hear how Redruth (my old area)
was doing. President gave us some good teachings and council and then
together as a leadership, we discussed ways we could improve in the
work and how we can become even better as missionaries. That evening
after MLC, Sister Nguyen and I were planning to go to a street and
contact some potentials but we suddenly felt impressed to go visit
some former investigators. They are a family of 3. When we had arrived
at their home, the mom welcomed us in with open arms. They are from
India and have been raised up in a different religion but did take the
time to listen to missionaries before. We were able to go through the
Book of Mormon with them and they seemed to really like that.
Afterwards, we were able to extend an invitation to them to attend
church which they accepted. The week continued and Sister Nguyen and I
attended DLC and had our meeting with the district leaders and zone
leaders this time about our zone which went really good. And to top
off the week of meetings, the very next day we had zone training with
our zone, our Mission President and his wife, along with the
assistants. It was really good. Something that stood out to me was
when President Gubler showed us a picture of the tree of life and we
talked about that as a zone. President talked about how Lehi prayed to
get out of the darkness and how he had to wander for some time but
then he saw the light of the tree of life. What was really neat as
well is when President Gubler asked us, "Who has the hold of the Iron
Rod?" He then had us turn to 2 Nephi 31:17 and simply said, "The
baptized members." At first I wasn't quite sure of what he was trying
to tell us but it made sense to me as we continued to discuss. As
missionaries, Everyone we see on the streets (who aren't members) are
in the dark. They have no path, no rod, no light to follow. These
precious children of God are wandering in the dark with no hope in
life. If we were them, we might act like them as well. It's important
to be able to show those who are in the dark the Iron Rod. This really
helped me to understand the significance of my calling. Overall, this
week has been filled with miracles! We were able to see at the end of
this past week something incredible happen. Not only did the family of
3 that we (Sister Nguyen and I) are teaching come to church, but so
did an older couple that the other sisters were teaching come to
church and as well as a former investigator that the elders had
taught. 6 people! It's incredible how the floodgate of miracles has
truly opened. I'm grateful to be a part of this work. And to top it
off, our district for preparation day got to go see Big Ben and the
London Eye. It was really fun to be able to walk across the bridge.
Because we are the London South Mission, our mission only covers
halfway to the bridge that is going towards Big Ben but we still were
able to see it from our boundary and get pictures so that was fun.
Plus, the London eye is on our side. It's been an incredible week and
the work is hard at times but also rewarding. I hope all of you have a
great week!
Sister Burtis

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Holiness to the Lord

Hello everyone! I hope you have had an incredible week! I sure have
and there are many adventures, miracles, and things to tell you.
Starting out with the week, Sister Nguyen and I were able to go out to
Putney which is about 45 minutes travel and towards the outskirts of
our area. We got to explore around the high street and then we got to
go to the bridge that led across the River Thames. It was really neat
and fun to see. It's not the bridge that has the London eye near it
and Big Ben across the bridge but it's one of the other bridges that
leads to central London. It was still really big and fun to see. We
saw lots of red London double deckers and it just made me feel like I
was in a movie or something. The rest of the week seemed to speed by
again and I'm wondering about the weeks to come. It seems like they
just get faster and faster. As the beginning of the week happened, one
of the days- we were basically street contacting all day. It was one
of those days that seemed gloomier than the rest. The grey clouds, the
people rushing to and fro, ect. Sister Nguyen and I spent the morning
street contacting but it just seemed that no one wanted to talk to us.
No matter how hard we tried, no one was interested. We continued to
press on though and helped each other to overcome any discouragement.
We continued to have faith though and do our very best. As we were
going to a member's home for a dinner appointment, we saw a younger
lady carrying her grocery bags and asked if we could help her. She
politely declined but continued to talk to us and we were able to
introduce ourselves to her. This lady's name was Janice and she said
that her friends were members of our church and that she wouldn't mind
knowing the message for herself. We were really happy to be able to
know that we have found one of those who are prepared. We hope to see
Janice this week sometime. It was a bit busy for her last week since
she had just moved into the area and was sorting some stuff out.
Another crazy adventure was that I got to be an espanol sister
(Hermana!). Sister Nguyen and I serve around the Kennington sisters
and the Kennington sisters get to find those who speak Spanish here in
South London and teach them. Well when it came time for Sister Nguyen
and I to pray about who should go where for the exchange, we felt that
I needed to go to Kennington and she needed to stay in Clapham. The
exchange was great. Sister Ramseyer and I got to go street contacting
and she taught me how to say, "Hola, ustead habla espanol?" (Hello, do
you speak Spanish?). I continued to practice that saying it out loud
and in my mind and eventually was able to say it fast enough that I
almost sounded like I actually knew Spanish. I'd go up to different
people who looked like they could speak Spanish and say that phrase
and then Sister Ramseyer (who actually knew Spanish) spoke the rest,
introduced ourselves, and stated our purpose. I also got to learn how
to say three more phrases, "Tenemos amigas que hablan espanol" (We
have friends who speak Spanish), "Aqui es una pagina web" (Here is a
website), and "La Iglesia de JesuCristo de los santos de los ultimos
dias" (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).  It was a
really fun experience! I wasn't able to really say anything during a
lesson with an investigator but if I did say something, I'd say it in
English and then Sister Ramseyer would translate it in Spanish. Well I
guess it's time to say that either the stress of the mission is
getting to me or I'm just getting older and blinder. I have been going
to a lot of meetings lately and haven't been able to see the board or
anything else. So I got an eye test and it turns out my prescription
has worsened a bit and that it was time for me to get glasses. They
are for far away things like boards, screens, meetings, ect. So if you
see me with glasses on, don't be too surprised. :) At the end of this
week, I had an incredible experience with my companion. Sister Nguyen
and I were able to go with some of the ward members in a mini bus to
the London Temple! We were given the opportunity to go because we
would be going with one of our investigators, Brenda. Brenda is from
Kenya and is just such an incredible lady. I love her so much! We got
ready to go, met at the chapel, said hello to everyone as we boarded
the bus. Brenda was beaming and radiated a smile that just showed her
excitement. This would be her first time going and we were really
happy for her. As we got to the temple, one of the visitor centre
sisters came with us and explained somethings about the temple grounds
as we went on a tour. Brenda loved it and it's amazing how strong her
testimony already is. She's been investigating for about more than a
month now but you would have thought she was a member.  One of my
favourite moments was when Sister Fleuren, the visitor centre sister,
had us stand in front of the temple. There were two sets up stairs
that led all the way to the doors where on it said, "Holiness to the
Lord." Sister Fleuren had Brenda grab one of the railing of the stairs
and had us two missionaries do the same thing on the side of Brenda.
Sister Fleuren had Brenda tell her what steps she has taken that had
gotten her closer to baptism and Brenda would tell her things like,
"Praying, reading scriptures, going to church, giving up tea, keeping
the commandments, ect." As she said each thing, she would get to take
a step up towards the temple doors. What was really neat was that we,
as her missionaries, got to do the same. We stayed by Brenda's side
every time she took a step. Then it came that we were on level ground
that led to the second set of stairs. Sister Fleuren explained that
this represented baptism. She turned to us and asked us to recall our
baptisms as we walked across the level platform to the second set of
stairs and for Brenda to imagine what her baptism would be like. We
did this as we had our faces towards the temple doors and as we
walked. As soon as we started, I was taken back to a green grassy yard
outside of my home in Utah, and recalled myself as a small 8 year old
girl, with bouncy blond curly hair. I could almost see myself excited
and running around as we were all getting pictures with my family. I
could see my brother Andrew in his white shirt and tie and his
excitement knowing that he would be the one to baptise me. It was so
clear and then my mind forwarded to a moment I had never seen before.
Sister Nguyen and I were standing by Brenda. She was dressed in white
and it was her baptism. She was glowing and her smile reflected the
same kind of excitement that I seemed to feel when I was about to get
baptized. I felt the spirit so strongly and as we approached the
temple stairs, Sister Fleuren asked Brenda, "How did you feel to see
yourself dressed in white?" Brenda replied saying she felt the spirit
and felt so much peace. Tears rolled down her cheeks as the sister
then explained to Brenda that this was God's plan for her. She pointed
to he temple and simply said that Heavenly Father wanted Brenda to
return home. I had never been able to go to the temple with an
investigator before but I can't describe the joy that I felt. It's one
of the moments where I seem to truly recognise the importance of my
calling and the love that God has for his children. I have felt that
love for Brenda and I know that her and her family will be together
forever. We are simply her guides and the Lord's disciples at this
time. I just know that anyone, not just full time missionaries, can
help others to make it to the temple doors. I love the work and I love
what I am able to continue to learn each week. I love you all!
Sister Burtis