Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Maniac Dog

September 30, 2014 (week 5 in Argentina)

Dear world,


I am not dead.  There was a holiday yesterday; I don’t know what it is called, so we have our p- day today.

Ha ha…So this week has been a bit of a change as we are finding new people to teach who have special needs and difficulties to overcome before they can get baptized.  Mercedez is doing awesome.  She has read the first parts of the Book of Mormon and is really enjoying it. We bought her a Bible and Principles of the Gospel to help her studies.  She is getting close to her baptismal date and we don’t know if she will make it.  It depends on if she gets married to her boyfriend or not, so we will see what happens this week and the next.

We had a FHE (Family Home Evening) with the familia de monica (pictures) and we had soooo much pizza.  The cake I’m eating was so big!  With dulce de leche!  Me encanta dulce de leche!  It was so good! We taught about faith and how it takes not just faith in doing something but acting on that faith.  We did a trust fall experiment with Elder Correa (the dark skinned missionary) where we had Wille (small kid) pretend like he was going to catch Elder Correa. Elder Correa was blindfolded and couldn’t see that elder Enright was going to actually catch him.  He fell and was caught by elder Enright and it was so funny because elder Correa really thought Wille was going to catch him…ha ha.  When you have faith and show your willingness to act on it (read scriptures, pray, go to church) you find that the Lord will bless you.

We were contacting and about to go to this house when their maniac dog came out trying to kill us (don’t worry it’s only the tenth time now) and we were just like what is up with this dog?! And the lady came out, beat it with a broom and went back inside.  I still don’t know why the dog was freaking out, trying to bite us.  But, we found a new investigator just a block away from that house.  He’s awesome and we can’t wait to teach him again!

We are enjoying the fruits of not having everything we have in the States.   So, we borrowed some clippers from Hermana Junco and well the pictures hopefully explain the rest.  It’s good though because it is getting super-hot now.  It’s hard to go contacting during the middle of the siesta.  It’s so freaking hot.  We are just covered in sweat!  Also I forgot to tell you that we found peanut butter here at the Walmart.  We ate it in like 4 days because it’s so good!  It’s hard to believe I have been here for over a month now.
As always I love all of you!


Elder Burke

Me encanta dulce de leche!!

FHE with familia de Monica- Elder Burke, Allen, Correa and Enright

Lunch at Subway! Taste of home

Cooking up something good

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Relampago!!! (Lightning)

September 22, 2014 (week 4 in Argentina)

Bueno,

So this week was awesome and filled with different adventures of Elder Allen and me.

First off, we have had the worst beds in the world (according to Elder Allen).  He has been spending his whole 5 months here in Fontana (Chaco) trying to get money for new beds.  So, Monday we finally got them and they said that they were going to bring them that night. No show.  It wasn’t fun for us and we understood that they weren’t really good with service, especially when we called them that night.  Lol.  But, we got them the next day!  Whoohoo! 

We had a President of the Seventy (over all of south South America, Walter Gonzales).  This man taught us many things; things that are now going to change the mission.  First off he told us that we need to have the faith to double all our numbers for baptism, retaining, and maintaining. We have to take the number we are teaching and double it as our new goal!  So, having 21 new people last week, we are kind of like stretched - ha ha.  But not to worry!  He also talked about the importance of giving hope.  Without hope we can’t expect to help people or see people progress.  So I have worked hard on just being kinder, more helpful, and more loving in everything I do so that whenever someone talks about me, I would hope that they would say "he gave me hope."  I have felt that hope as the President of our Branch told us this: "Missionaries are angels.  They saved me from myself and made me happier, and I’ll be honest elders, I haven’t been doing my duty as a branch president very well, but since you have been trying your best and inviting the spirit, I am reminded of my duty.  I started readying my scriptures early in the morning at 4 and I have more energy in the day than before".   We were shocked and so happy that he is changing only for the better!

That’s what Christ does for people.  He gives them hope.  He gave me hope when I felt lost and I know that whoever needs it and searches for it will find it. 

There was a huge storm!  We were teaching and we knew it was going to be a rainy day so I had my coat and boots and so did Elder Allen.  But when we were walking to a part member’s house, BOOM!  Lightning was no joke, 15 feet from my face!  Right there on the street lamp close to us! The thunder was ringing in my ears and there was a mom with her little girl in front of us.  She was really scared but, she wasn’t crying.  I told Elder Allen it was because she had two missionaries right behind her.  But then it was a fire hose of rain from there!  I won’t lie, I wasn’t the first to offer my coat, but Elder Allen said I should since mine was the water resistant one.  I did it without hesitation and was glad that Elder Allen reminded me that helping others sometimes requires sacrifice.  So I was soaked in the rain, as was Elder Allen, but we escorted this mom and her littler girl to her house.  So much rain, but after Elder Allen and I sang hymns and were just total goofs.  We were happy because we had a purpose, one of love and happiness. 
Elder Burke and Elder Smith at Zone Conference

I gave a talk yesterday (in church) and it was about how to help the missionaries. Basically, I spoke about how everyone needs to do their scripture study, their prayers, and their job to feel the spirit in their home.  Without building this basic principle, no one will want to help the missionaries. Because when you feel the spirit, you will have love, and when you have love, you will want to help others no matter the cost.  They loved it and said my Spanish has improved so much!  √©xito!  ha ha

When you look at how to be happier in this life, just do the simple things.  Pray every day.  Read the scriptures to your best ability.  Go to church and serve others and you’ll be happy!

I love all of you and love the pictures you send of your adventures!  Keep me updated! 

Love, 

Elder Burke

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Halfway Through First Transfer

Elder Allen and Elder Burke


Dinner- I killed a Duck and de-feathered it!!
September 15, 2014 (week 3 in Argentina)

So for all of you to understand what the condition of the church is like here right now and to understand my joy for this week, I have to do a little story telling.  So be prepared for a story.

So, there were over 200 members here in Resistencia, and there was almost a chapel built here for them, but for some reason it wasn’t built.  (Remember- the chapel is in a small building right now). And, there was some fighting beforehand with the members, which led to a fall out of the members, which is sad.  The first missionaries in our area, Fontana, didn’t really gain the total confidence of the members, but brought the number of 30 members to 40.  Elder Allen and his companion brought that number up to 70.  Elder Allen has been telling me that it has been hard for the members to change and do their home teaching.  But, Elder Allen and I now are visiting these members and inactive members and we have been focused on letting them feel that they are loved and that they have a purpose in helping us with the branch (congregation).  We have felt the spirit when we have taught these members, and they in turn have felt their duty once again to help others.  It’s truly amazing!  They are doing their home teaching and helping and visiting the less active members.  They are befriending the people we are asking them to befriend!  Success!  We have learned the importance of members.  They are there forever when we can’t be there.  Not to mention, they feed us like crazy!  Sweet! 

So, this week Elder Allen told me how hard Resistencia is.  And it is.  People don’t want to talk to you and it is hard to keep people committed to baptism because they can’t overcome obstacles and other problems.  He showed me the numbers of how many people he was able to teach in a week.  The highest was 8.... We taught 21 people this week and it was all the spirit!  We would be walking and talking and pass a house and for some reason I felt like clapping it, or Elder Allen felt it, or both!  We even met people that hated our guts and didn’t want to talk to us and we both felt like talking to that person.  The Holy Ghost helps us to find those who need it.  Elder Allen has been here (in Fontana), for 4 months and hasn’t had a baptism yet, but we have 5 that we believe will be baptized because they felt the spirit!  We have been teaching Mercedes and she has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying and says she hasn’t felt an answer- whether this is the true church.  We showed her Galatians where it says what the Spirit feels like.  I bore testimony that the Holy Ghost is real, that it testifies and confirms truth and helps us find our way through this life.  I said that I felt it and that I believe she is feeling it now as well.  She said that now that she knows what it feels like, she recognizes that she’s been feeling it this whole time!  Capo!

Another awesome story, I killed a duck and de-feathered it!  It made me appreciate the creation of the world and life.  Under the direction of the Father, Christ made the earth and every living thing there in.  I appreciate the need to respect life and to not just take everything for granted.  A lot of people here beat the dogs on the street.  They whip their horses without mercy, there is trash everywhere and no one cares.  Truly, I am saddened by how they don’t appreciate just how beautiful this world is.  Whenever I enter a member’s home or someone who understands this principle, they are living happier lives. 

The lessons I have learned are that members are just as important as investigators.  If you have a missionary visit you or are a missionary, understand this: missionaries should share something spiritual and come closer with the ward, more than just using them to befriend new investigators. Love them as much as you should love everyone else.  If you are just being asked for references by the elders, tell them that they should be sharing something spiritual with you before they are on their way.  If you are a missionary, help the members to feel the spirit and help them remember just how important they are to our Heavenly Father, like every person on the earth is.

I have learned to love first and ask questions later.  Don’t hate someone you don’t know and just always show love in everything you do.  Love works miracles. 

As always, I love all of you and enjoy reading about your lives. Make sure you’re praying, reading the scriptures, and going to church and eating your vegetables! 


Elder Burke
First Area- Fontana

I'm a little tall for the buses

My Apartment 

Fontana

Yum! Rice and Strawberries

Elder Allen, Elder Correa, Elder Burke, Sebastian and Alsitus


Monday, September 8, 2014

Soy Indiana Jones

September 8, 2014

Hola familiy y amigos!

It´s been a week!  We have been working hard on helping less actives and teaching them to come back to church. There apparently has been a lot of converts to the church, but they all went inactive, like 200 people are inactive members!  Loco!  So, we have been befriending and helping the members trying to help us and to be there for one another.  I am able to understand more and more each day and it is coming fast.  I still speak terrible Spanish, but they can feel the spirit every time I bear my testimony.  This Sunday was fast Sunday and I was asked to bear my testimony again.  Apparently everyone loves me because they have to focus more on my words when I am bearing my testimony.  I was just filled with love as I was bearing my testimony of the new people I have met and the spirit I could feel in everyone’s homes.  It’s amazing how when you shut out the necessity to understand the words and just feel, you can recognize in any language that what the missionaries are testifying is true.

So awesome stories!  So Butler family, I found Argentina Sayla!!!  It is literally Sayla, but on the opposite side of the color scale!  I can’t remember her name right now, but she is so freaking cute! She sings and dances everywhere she goes.  I showed her some funny magic tricks and she was laughing super hard.  Yeah, she’s Sayla and definitely has her energy!  Her family has three little girls and their mom.  We taught them Saturday and elder Allen gave some candy (Bon Bon) in a secret exchange to the one girl who was just sad the whole time.  She brightened up after that.

There are a ton of churches here, like literally I see one on every street.  Most of them just have them as places to drink in.  It’s really sad because a lot of people go to these places.  They have things called saints which are little shrines for idols.  It’s weird, but there are always good people that are willing to listen and get to know us.

I had my first rainy day this week.  That was so crazy!!!  I was wearing my coat because it was sprinkling and then it was like a front row seat at sea world’s Shamu... soaked!  It rained nonstop for two hours, and yes we went and clapped at houses that day... yay... ha ha it was good, but the missionaries in the states who get cars have it so easy.  lol.  So early in that same morning was a huge lighting storm! I watched the dark sky light up literally every 2 seconds.  It was lightning bolt after lightning bolt after lightning bolt!!! AWESOME!

Now for the reason for my subject header... monkey brains. Yup, just like the temple of doom they eat monkey brains for desert here!  We were eating with a member family and I tried blood sausage (not a fan) and then for dessert elder Allen looks at me and says "you´re gonna eat monkey brains today” and then the father of the house said “como Indiana Jones!”  Let me tell you... it was really good!  It was like eating yogurt... but monkey brains. They put dulce de leche in it as well and it tastes super good!  Just weird to think that it is monkey brains... but yup, I can now say, I am Indiana Jones! 

I have often found that when it comes to loving one another, it just takes a small step in charity. Literally go out and do one small thing for someone you don’t like or you disagree with and watch, you will be happier.  Being nice to everyone is definitely hard, especially when they hate you for no reason.  Just love them.  Jesus Christ was rejected and hated too, but he died for us, he suffered for us.  Never forget that he loves us.  Show charity this week and I promise you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that you will feel different and be happier.

I love and miss you all!

Elder Burke

Notes from Mom:  What an amazing day...I was able to email back and forth with Taylor while he was on the internet.  It was almost like talking on the phone- except for the delays of course.  He sounds great. He is serving in Fontana, which is right next to Resistencia.  He wants to send pictures, but the computer at the internet cafe isn't very good and so he can't get them to download...maybe next week?

Here's an excerpt from our conversations back and forth....

Tell the family that I love them and that I miss them terribly.  But, I know that everything I do now as a missionary will only bless you guys in the long run.  I love you mom.  I love you dad.  I love you Alex.  I love you Brianna.  Make sure to always remember that family is the most important thing and is always there when you literally have nothing.  Love all of you so freaking much!

I know this church is true.  That Joseph Smith was a prophet.  I know that God and his son Jesus Christ loves us and are real.  The Book of Mormon changes lives and this gospel strengthens families. I love you all.

Elder Burke

Love this boy!!!  I miss him terribly, but would not want him anywhere else or doing anything else than serving the Lord on his mission in Argentina.



Monday, September 1, 2014

Viviendo la suneo!

September 1, 2014 (week 1 in Argentina)

Hoooooooola!!!!!!

Everyone, please strap yourselves in for the stories of my first week!  Holy Moly, it is so different! 

So… first, days of travel (two whole days to get to Argentina Resistencia).  I got to meet some very awesome people on the plane!  I gave out two Book of Mormons on my flights and got to meet some new people.  We got to Argentina and it is so different here!  I don´t have any mountains around me anymore, so I obviously have no idea where I am at!  They dropped us off at 11 at night in a hotel because our flight was late. They showed us around the temple the next day and welcomed us! 

The whole first day of being in Resistencia, we went to the chapel and were assigned new companions! I am now with Elder Allen and he is so freaking awesome, you have no idea.  We ate empanadas which are to die for!  Oh my gosh… so freaking good!  Then we took a taxi back to the pension (house).  We went around at taught so many different families and as you can probably tell... I have no idea what anyone is saying! The Spanish is easy to figure out, the accent and language of “Vos” though... they don’t even say half the letters in a word and it’s so freaking hard to understand, but with time I’ll get it!  Sorry for the bad English and typos everywhere, the Argentine keyboards are really rusty and broken.

So elder Allen and I are teaching a lot of less active members who are in the area I’m assigned to (Fontanegro II) and these people are so kind and loving.  I have learned that you can show someone you care about them not just by saying something. The familia de Junco is one of my favorites!  They are a part member family that we are working on.  Every time I am over there they try to feed me their entire pantry and fridge.  They just give their food to us all the time.  Another family that we have been seeing is the Castillo family, they are farmers and not active in the church.  They left because the branch president said some rude things years ago.  We have been helping them on their farm with service and seeing how they are doing.  Their father is very sick, so yesterday we stopped by to give them a blessing.  I anointed the oil and elder Allen gave the blessing.  We talked to them about change and how no one is perfect, which is why it takes time to learn all things.  They realized that that´s why we have classes after church and that we try our best to endure to the end. There are two brothers that work with that family and they are Sebastian and Aleidas.  Both are extremely good fighters and no one messes with us in the mission area because we are good friends with them. 

I’m sorry mom, dad and Brianna and Alex that you won’t be down here to see Resistencia.  We sometimes don´t eat dinner because we have so many people to teach.  There is a lot of walking as well.  It´s very poor and there are a lot of misguided people, not to mention a ton of dogs.  It looks like a Sarah McLachlan commercial every day.  Some try to eat you though.  But many of the people are nice to you when you’re nice to them first.  We live on a second floor pension that has one bedroom and a bathroom.  It is very poor, but I knew that coming here.  There are a lot of people who literally have a brick wall house with a metal sheet over it.  There is trash in the street.  Many of the people are catholic, evangelic or just don´t care.  But, you can tell that whenever we enter a member’s home you can feel the spirit and that it is blessing their lives.  They all have enough for their needs, which is proof to me how Heavenly Father blesses those who are willing to do the things He asks.

Our church is in a little building on the side of the street and I got to bear my testimony.  The Spirit was so strong and church helped me get over the fact that I am totally lost here.  Everyone loves this gospel and the Lord has people for us to help.  For example, just three days ago we went to go to a meeting and we were contacting (tracting) and I just looked at a house and just went straight to it.  It was my first contact and I said all I could in Spanish while elder Allen clarified our purpose.  We said we could stop by another time and she said yes. Last night we did that and her husband was there.  He was screaming at his wife to not let us in, but she ignored him and let us give them a book of Mormon for them to read and introduce ourselves.  She was very nice and her husband slowly was softened by the Spirit.  It was a miracle! My first contact is a real potential investigator!

I got to invite Mercedes to be baptized and she said yes!  Elder Allen taught her before and we got her to come to church a second time!  She’s going to get baptized Oct 4. 

As always I love all of you, and I may not have time to tell all of my adventures but I’ll tell them when I get back.


Elder Burke

(No pictures came this week with his email...I saw this picture and it reminded me of Taylor and how he is unable to speak the language very well right now...but he is able to show them he cares about them as he mentions in the comments above)

Taylor calls home on his way to Argentina

August 25, 2014  4:08 pm

It was so good to hear Elder Burke’s voice again.  I can’t believe he is on his way to Argentina.  He called from the Atlanta airport during his layover.  This mom was stressing because I thought for sure I would hear from him at the Salt Lake Airport. We called Matt at work and put him on the call and then Alex and Brianna came in the room and we all talked to him together on the call.   He said they left the MTC this morning at 6am and took the train (front-runner) to Salt Lake and then took Trax to the airport.  He said it took forever to get there and then to get everything checked in.  He said there were about 50 missionaries all traveling to Argentina today- wow!! There was also another 30 or so missionaries leaving today also.  Picture that group on the train and walking around the airport.  They are all flying into Buenos Aires and then will get to their final destinations somehow.  Taylor only has his flight plans to Buenos Aires and has no idea when or how he will get to Resistencia.  There are 6 elders in his district (of 12) that are all going to Resistencia.

He said the flight was good and said he met up and talked on the flight with an aircraft mechanic from the Air Force.  He was very interested in what missions are and Taylor said they had such a great discussion.  He talked about how this guy reminded him of “dad”- hmmm, military, aircraft mechanic… maybe a coincidence?? I don’t think so.  He ended up giving him a book of Mormon and the guy committed to read it.  Taylor was so excited and said the guy seemed genuinely interested and it was fun to talk with him. 
He was so excited.  Sunday nights they have a devotional and then they get to watch a movie (church one of course).  He and Michael (Elder Butler) sat by each other and said they talked during the whole movie…what a tender mercy to be together in the MTC and then to spend Taylor’s last night in the MTC hanging out together and talking.  Taylor was so excited to spend so much time with Michael.

He has absolutely loved the MTC, but is so excited to get to Argentina.  His favorite part of the MTC was teaching the “mock” investigators.  The food is good but “gives you way bad gas”.  He loved getting some chicken from the airport- said it was sooo yummy.  The thing that has been the hardest is the “sleep thing”- he misses being able to take a nap whenever he is super tired and needs a pick up (Taylor loved his naps at home).  He seems so excited and not nervous at all.  Funniest thing he said….”we need to go find a payphone and figure out how to use it so Elder Pace can call home”.  I told him to just use up all the minutes on the phone with all the other elders and make sure they all can call home.  With that many missionaries traveling and the few payphones that are around now….I am so glad I sent him a cell phone to use and throw away.

So…off he goes.  He sounds great, not homesick at all and ready to be in Argentina.  He’s ready for the culture shock also.


Love this Boy!!!

                                           Last night in MTC (Sept 24) with Elder Butler


                                            He makes it to Buenos Aires, Argentina

New Elders arrive in Resistencia