Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Adieu to the Southern City of London

Hello everyone! I hope you have had a great week! I was pretty close
to not being able to email for this past week but thankfully was given
time now to let you all know that I'm still alive and doing well! Just
before I forget, for those who want to send letters, we have the new
Brighton address (Letters sent to this address will get to me much
faster than if you send it to the mission office)  :

43 Bourne Court
London Road
Brighton, WYK, BN1 8QQ

This past week carried many different adventures and experiences for
me. Sister Wang, Sister Fromgren, and I knew that our time as a tri
was coming close to an end so we did all that we could to organise
things, see the people that we needed to, ect. We were able to see
many miracles. At the beginning of this last week, Sister Fromgren and
I were able to do one last exchange with the sisters from Peckham. I
was able to go to Sister Stephenson (my MTC companion) and we were
able to reflect back on the experiences we have had in Wandsworth and
on our missions, see some miracles and we were able to visit Beognia
(investigator). Begonia is from Peru and we have been teaching her for
some time now. She is so close to baptism and very prepared. It was
sad though that she wanted to wait a little bit longer because it
meant I wouldn't be there for it. Sister Stephenson and I were able to
come by and I was able to say my goodbyes to her but as we got
talking, Begonia said something that made me smile. Begonia was just
about to leave to Spain and has been so busy trying to balance
preparing for that, starting a business of her own, and working at a
job so she wasn't quite sure when she wanted to get baptised. She
mentioned though that as soon as she got back from Spain which would
last for about 10 days, she would make her decision for the date of
baptism. It's hard to not be able to see those who you have taught
being baptized but it's a witness that seeds are planted and they will
grow. Another witness of this was when I got to the temple (for
training Preparation). An elder (who was departing to go home) from my
old area came up to me and said, "Did you hear about Robert!?" Robert,
from Cornwall, was someone that Sister Hamann and I went up to and
talked with about the gospel. He was walking down the hill towards a
shop while we were heading to teach an investigator. We were able to
teach Robert and he continuously came to church and was working to get
married to his girlfriend but we never got to see him baptized when I
was there. The elders continued to work with him and I was just told
that Robert got married and this upcoming weekend, not only him, but
his wife would be getting baptized as well! My joy was full and I was
so excited to receive the news! You truly never know the lives you can
impact by just opening your mouth and sharing the gospel with them. We
may never see the results but it was great to know that there are
seeds being planted! The last moments in my second area were bitter
sweet. Some of the members had us over for dinner and some visits and
you really do come to realise how much you grow and learn from the
members, the area, the people you teach, ect. as you are about to
leave the area you served in for 7 months. Clapham will always have a
special place in my heart and it's a place I will never forget. There
were many people to talk to in Clapham and while some days were tough
and it seemed like no one wanted to talk to us, I recognized that it
shaped me to have even more faith, to become even stronger, and to
turn to my Saviour more than I ever have before. My last moments with
Sister Fromgren were wonderful. She taught me so much and I'll never
forget the impact that she had on me. I love all my companions
including my current companion Sister Wang. We had a funny moment
where one time last week, Sister Wang felt a bit down and sad because
she missed her family, MTC, ect. so Sister Fromgren and I go to
comfort her and while sitting on the bed together and talking about
random things, Sister Wang suddenly jumps up and screams,
"SPIDER-MAN!" (She didn't know quite yet to call it a spider).
Confused at the time, Sister Fromgren and I looked around and saw that
she was pointing to a spider (which actually ended up being a
mosquito). Sister Fromgren and I laughed for a tiny bit and then
jumped up on the bed, pretending to be super heros, and saying, "Don't
worry, we'll save you!" It was quite the funny moment! Many more
moments of laughter took place all throughout this week. The time
finally came for us to go to the temple, have a temple session, and
then Sister Fromgren and I received our training to be trainers. What
was fun was that Sister Wang got to be with us throughout all of this.
We were also at the temple with the departing missionaries and that
felt strange. When I packed my bags and left Clapham and took my bags
to the temple to go to Brighton, I felt so strange and it felt almost
like I was going home. I'm grateful though I have another area to
serve in and to devote all my time and attention to the work of the
Lord. I'm truly grateful for this work. It wasn't easy to say goodbye
to Sister Fromgren or my previous area but I trust the Lord will guide
my footsteps. It's scary having Sister Wang and I going into another
area that we both have never worked in but all I can do is trust and
have faith. I know in time, I will come to a better understanding of
why I am called to Brighton. We have now gotten to our flat (which is
very nice and big because it was used by a senior couple before we
came in) and the elders here are very nice and helpful in telling us
who everyone is and where we can go to get to different places.
Brighton is beautiful! It is much greener than Clapham and I love
seeing the trees, nice country side view, flowers, and beach. :) I
look forward to this new adventure! Love you all, have a great week!
Sister Burtis

Monday, July 18, 2016

Being an Instrument in His Hands

Hello everyone! I can't believe it's coming to be near the end of
July. The summer months are passing by quickly and threatening to take
away the hot weather that my companions and I have been enjoying this
past week. The life of a tri is a fun one! Sister Fromgren, Sister
Wang, and I are all enjoying it. It's funny to see members or
sometimes even people on the streets who know missionaries look at us
in confusion and then ask why there are three of us. I sometimes
respond, "In the mouth of two or THREE witnesses shall every word be
established." (2 Corinthians 13:1) This brings us a smile to their
faces and then we explain to them our situation of how Sister Wang and
I will be moving to Brighton soon so our tri is, unfortunately,
temporary. I love the life of a tri though. We all help each other,
lift each other up, feel more confident on the streets-knowing that we
have an even greater support when bearing testimony, ect. We were able
to be a part of many miracles this week and I'm grateful to be able to
receive more and more witnesses of how God is truly hastening his
work. Our first miracle, happened after Preparation Day. The three of
us were walking to go and contact a less-active at her home. We
knocked several times but no answer. After several attempts, Sister
Fromgren and Sister Wang turned around and were walking back towards
the street. For myself, I was following behind them. Sister Fromgren
got talking to a lady on the street and Sister Wang joined them and I
was about to do the same when the less-active lady suddenly opened her
door. So there we were, two of us talking to the lady on the street,
and the other talking to the less-active. The awkward moment happened
though when this lady I was talking to said we could come in and teach
her. I looked back to my friends and saw they were still talking to
the lady of the street. I excused myself for a moment and helped them
finish testifying and finding out if this lady was interested. She
wasn't too keen on giving out her number or address but she was
willing to look more into our website to see what we were about. After
that, I informed my two fellow companions that we had a lesson to
teach. As we approached Georgina (the less-active that I was talking
to), she let us in. We were able to testify to her about the
importance of prayer and reading the Book of Mormon and the spirit was
felt very strongly. Towards the end of the lesson, Georgina simply
said, "I know I need to start coming back to church. Just before you
knocked on my door, I was watching TV and something about the church
came up and the thought crossed my mind that I really needed to come
back, and then suddenly you knocked on my door." I know that's truly
not a coincidence given from our Heavenly Father. I love being able to
be an instrument in His hands and to go where He'd have me go to help
His children. The rest of the week consisted of an amazing zone
conference (the first one that Sister Wang went to). Sister Wang loved
it and as did I. We discussed the importance of being accountable to
the Lord each night as we reflected what we did to serve Him that day.
We were reminded the importance of setting goals and how when we set
those goals, we should covenant to the Lord that we will do them and
then account that evening with the Lord on how we did. I was able to
go on my second to last exchange with the Mitcham sisters and that
went great. I love being to help set goals with the different sisters
and them helping me to learn and grow. Sister Lulab, Sister Wang, and
I were on the exchange together and as we got knocking doors and
teaching, we were able to meet many people who seemed so close to
being interested but said no in the end. As we walked down a street
towards our bus, we saw a delivery guy standing by his bike. We
approached him and introduced ourselves. At first, he simply said that
he was completely atheist. Something that I learned though over the
course of my mission and from reading the Preach My Gospel manual is
that when we testify, the spirit can testify to them more that what we
say is true. We testified to how we came to know God for ourselves and
he continued to listen. In the end, he ended up wanting a Book of
Mormon and we were able to set a return appointment. What a miracle!
Another fun thing that the three of us got to do while being on the
exchange is going to do service for our recent convert, Sally. Sally
was holding some big party for her birthday but needed help to prepare
the food. She had us first cut potatoes and then she asked us to
cut....onions. Onions and I don't get along too well because you know
what happens when you cut too many onions. Something that was really
funny though was that Sally told us that she heard if we put spoons in
our mouth while chopping onions, we won't cry as much. We tried it and
I think it worked? It didn't mean though that I didn't cry. I still
had some tears running down my face after chopping two or three
onions. It was quite funny to see all three of us sisters chopping
onions with spoons in our mouth. I look forward to the many adventures
in the coming weeks. It won't be easy to leave Clapham and I will miss
many of the people that I've been able to meet while serving here but
I trust that God has a great plan in store. Have a wonderful week!
Love you all!
Sister Burtis

Monday, July 11, 2016

Relieved to feel free from the darkness

I hope everyone has been able to have a great week! Summers always
seem to bring a sense of adventure and fun! For some who may not know,
within a matter of a phone call from my mission president, President
Gubler, Sister Fromgren and I were told at the beginning of last week
that I would be training and that this new missionary would be coming
in the next day to serve with us in a tri here in  Clapham for three
weeks and then this new missionary and I  would be traveling to
Brighton to serve there. It's quite some unexpected yet adventurous
and exciting news! That next day, Sister Fromgren and I went to (what
would be my last) Mission Leadership Council and we were able to
discuss the importance of the work, how we could use the mission
training plan better, and how we as a mission could do to accomplish
what the Lord wants done. Towards the end of the meeting, my heart
started beating a bit faster, I got a bit more nervous, and knew
within the next moments, I would be meeting my new companion. After
MLC  concluded, President Gubler had the two new missionaries come
into the room, an Elder from Thailand and our new sister from China,
and we were able to welcome them. As soon as I saw Sister Wang
(pronounced like Wong), I felt that this was right and that I would be
learning many great things from her. I was right about that. Sister
Wang, though not knowing all English words, knows a good amount and is
very smart and willing to learn. She is so humble and so sweet and
very caring. Being in a tri has been such an adventure. You would
think maybe it's hard because you now have three heads deciding
instead of two but rather we seemed more solidified in our decisions
and feel more confident on the streets. The day after Sister Wang came
into the area, we (Sister Fromgren and I) needed to go to DLC and
present what we learned at MLC to the district leaders. Sister Wang
was a bit confused at why there were so many meetings and I don't
blame her. We ended up having a lot of dinner appointments too her
first couple of days that she was here. It all went well though and as
the days proceeded, things got easier for Sister Wang and she is doing
great adjusting to the missionary life. Something that was fun too was
that one of the members took us out to a Korean restaurant and that is
something I haven't done actually since I've been on my mission. They
cook the food in front of you and it was really cool. Sister Wang was
able to show me the different types of food and how to eat the certain
meal that we ordered and that was fun. We were also able to do some
service for one of our sister missionaries who just recently got
injured and it was fun to be able to go and surprise her and see how
she was doing. I've recognised that we are the most happiest when
forget ourselves and serve others. It's something I want to continue
to apply all throughout my life. This week brought adventures and
learning opportunities but also a few oppositions for us as well but
we didn't let it bring us down. An investigator we had been teaching
suddenly stopped having contact with us and when we went to see them,
they opened their door and just simply said that they couldn't commit.
It's hard to hear those words and especially as we continue through
our missions, we really discover how Important and how crucial this
message that we share with them is. We continue to pray that this
person will soon return to learn more and all we can do is trust that
the Lord will provide and that He will help us find more of His
children that He had prepared. Well just this past Sunday, we saw
something funny and some miracles as well. On Sunday, Sister Fromgren,
Sister Wang, and I headed to the chapel about an hour before church
started for correlation meeting. We met the elders and the ward
mission leader and then discussed the progress of the work. Sally, a
recent convert and ward missionary, came in for the meeting and
mentioned to us that on the way to the upstairs classroom, she saw a
bird in the hallway near the staircase. We all looked at her with
surprise and she continued to explain how she just saw it sitting
there on the windowsill. After correlation meeting, all five of us
missionaries headed out into the corridor/hallway and sure enough, a
white and black bird was sitting there looking at all of us with its
small eyes perhaps wondering what we were doing. We discussed how we
could get it out and so with that, we went and found some large black
garbage bags, tore them into a blanket type thing and the elders,
Elder Saliva and Elder Hulleman, tried their very best to try and grab
it gently and take it outside. However this bird just kept flying back
and forth, back and forth, and the elders couldn't seem to get it.
Sister Fromgren and Sister Wang didn't take a liking to this bird and
were in the corner, screaming a little bit anytime that the bird would
fly past their heads in fear that it would leave them a present on
their hair ;) After a while, as I tried to wave my hands back and
forth so the bird wouldn't keep flying past us, it seemed like there
was no way for us to get this little creature outside to where it
belonged. We tried opening the doors on the bottom level of the chapel
but it wouldn't fly past that at all and had no idea where to go.
Eventually the bird got tired and seemed to be breathing heavily. One
of the Elders didn't seem to really want to catch it in fear that it
would kill us all so I asked for the garbage bag and set after this
bird who I noticed was getting pretty worn out by all the flying. One
of the elders came from one side and I came from the other and gently,
I was able to lay my garbage bag over it and scoop it up in my hands.
I could feel it's little body breathing and moving up and down and
with that, I made sure that it had breathing room and quickly ran down
the stairs of the hallway, through the outside doors, and released the
bird. It was a fun feeling to release it because you could almost feel
it being relieved to feel the fresh air. Just as I released it, many
of the members were coming in for school and they were curious to why
I just held a bird in my hands and then released it. We explained the
story and then headed back to the hallway to clean the little presents
on the banister and window sill that this little bird so graciously
left for us. It was a funny little adventure but it also got me
thinking about how scared that little bird might have felt not being
able to feel the fresh air, not being able to sense any hope in its
life, not being able to get out. In relation to the gospel, I just
think maybe perhaps that is how people on the streets feel. They feel
that there is no hope in life, no way to know how to be free from
spiritual darkness. It made me realise that perhaps they feel as this
bird did when it caught the first glimpse of the sun or felt the fresh
air on its little body knowing that all would be OK as they hear the
gospel. Sister Fromgren, Sister Wang, and I all have a great desire to
share the gospel and I'm grateful that I am able to be here to give
everyone that opportunity. This past Sunday evening, while riding on
the tube, we met a really nice lady named Grace. As we got talking to
her, she expressed interest and with that, we have a return
appointment with her. God is good and He will never give up on His
children. I love this work and I have loved being able to have the
wonderful companions, members, and those we meet, to help me to learn
and to grow. I l love you all and hope you have a great week!
Sister Burtis

Monday, July 4, 2016

Let the Holy Spirit Guide

Happy 4th of July to my fellow friends and family back in America! Unfortunately England doesn't celebrate this holiday for reasons unknown to me yet ;) I'll see if I can't get them to change their minds and start having red, white, and blue colors all around the city on this particular day. I don't think it would be too bad because technically, they have the same colors as us! :) England is still so good to me though and I love being able to be here to serve around these people. This week has come and gone but yet so much takes place. This week consisted of Sister Fromgren and I doing a lot of planning for our zone training. The zone leaders and us would be preparing up until last Thursday and then as a leadership, give presentations, practice roleplays, and meet the needs of the missionaries here in Wandsworth. I love being able to help plan this training because I learned so much from it. It's just as if someone is asked to speak in sacrament or teach a lesson, usually you hear them say that they learned more from preparing it than from actually presenting it. Zone training came along and it went very well! The spirit was felt very strongly and many of the missionaries, including us, received answers to our prayers. Something that occurred to me was the importance of having the spirit. There were several occasions this week that I felt the spirit very strongly. One of those occasions was during zone training. Sister Fromgren and I were giving a presentation about studying our scriptures and the importance of how it builds our faith. As we gave this presentation, we felt the spirit testify to us that this message is so true. The Book of Mormon is crucial for our time and helps us to remember our purpose here on this earth. Our second occasion was with Begonia. Our investigator, Begonia, has been really searching diligently to find out if the Book of Mormon is true. She is so close to making her decision to be baptized and as we work with her, we ponder and pray about what we could share with her. We felt impressed to talk to her about baptism even if it has been talked about before. This time, we really worked on trying to focus on asking her inspired questions and taking moments to let silence fill the air and let the spirit guide. As Sister Fromgren and I did this, I felt the spirit more strongly than I had in some time. It was truly amazing how Begonia was opening up to us more and was willing to be baptized even though she's not sure of which date yet. We were able to invite her to pray about this decision and she said she would. Sister Fromgren and I have been really working on trying to be able to continually improve in our finding and teaching skills and we feel even more guidance from our Heavenly Father as we strive to be the best we can be. This week, we were able to go to a park in Vauxhall (near the border of our area) and try to talk to families. Because the weather was nice and it was a Saturday, many people were there. I won't lie though, it's pretty daunting to randomly go up to people in the park and start talking to them about the Gospel but once we started, it became less scary. We were walking down a pathway when we suddenly stopped a couple walking our way. We said hello, introduced ourselves, and got talking. The husband was from Ecuador and his wife was from a spanish country as well. They mentioned to us how they had missionaries teach them several years ago and how they couldn't seem to find the answer to whether the Book of Mormon was true. We felt impressed to write down a scripture on our pass-along card and gave it to them. We continued to discuss more and just as we were about to say good-bye to them, the Ecuadorian husband turned to us and asked us with sincerity if we would be willing to say a prayer with them. Normally we are the ones to ask people if we could say a prayer for their day but it was amazing to see the love that this couple had for their Saviour, Jesus Christ and their willingness to pray. We said the prayer and at the end of the prayer, the man said that he knew that this was no coincidence that we met. Unfortunately the couple doesn't live in our area but I hope that he will be able to be taught by the missionaries and find out the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon for himself. This week has been filled with lots of many learning opportunities, lots of finding, lots of joy, some opposition (but what's life without opposition right?) and many moments of gratitude for God's divine plan. I love this work. I often reflect and find myself asking, How is this Gospel NOT true? I love the knowledge of having a Heavenly Father who never leaves us alone and is with us 24/7. I hope you all, have a wonderful week, and a Happy 4th of July!
Sister Burtis