Thursday, April 16, 2015

Feliz Cumpleaños a Mi!

April 13, 2015 (week 33 in Argentina)

Hola de Corrientes Argentina!

So first off, I’ll talk about one of our investigators who is really awesome, but we couldn’t do much for him because he had some reasons as to why he could not be baptized.  But now, as of yesterday, he told us that he can be baptized!!!  His name is Juan Romero and he is the coolest investigator!  He has been going to church since September and has even gone on splits with the missionaries and he isn’t a member!  He sadly lives alone but he finds so much to do in the church and that really helps him a lot!  So we are looking forward to the 25th of April for his baptism! Woohoo!

Happy 21st Birthday Elder Burke
So I just want to tell everyone… MUCHAS GRACIAS!!!! for the birthday wishes and cards!  I absolutely loved everything that I got and the cards made me laugh harder when I tried to explain the jokes to my non gringo companion. I wish that I could have all the time in the world to write all of you personally and give you all my thanks, but sadly there are some things we don’t get the luxury to do here in the mission.  Still though, everyone’s wishes for my happy birthday really made it pass by really fast and made it fun even though it basically was just another day.

During my Birthday a lot of things happened.  First off... because there are so many people here in the mission that are getting sick, president made the decision that all the missionaries have to stop eating with members.  Yeah it sucks.  But it’s for the best and since I have been receiving all the calls from the sick elders, I’ve been doing my best to help others follow this new rule.  It won’t be the best for me because I am not a big fan of cooking, but I guess it’s learn how to cook or starve- so wish me luck!  And as for the rule, there were three families who wanted to feed me pizza, asado (BBQ) and more pizza... I hated to break the news to all of them that we couldn’t eat anything from them that has meat or is in a place that is not well kept.  I really was sad for that, but the good exception was that if it is something sugary like a cake or something it would be fine... sooooo Happy birthday to me!  I ate that cake like nobodies business and also I shared it.  The cake was from a kind older lady named Hermana Ayala.  She made pizza too but we couldn’t eat it... Sometimes I hate following the rules, but I understand that it’s not worth the risk of dying to eat pizza here in Argentina.  But if it was Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust meat lovers... I’d eat it, so it’s good that they don’t make pizza as good as they do in the states.  Oh also I almost died on my birthday too.... we were crossing the street and this guy cuts the corner and is heading straight for us and hits the breaks and barely touches me.  I guess I’m in somebody’s prayers, but it isn’t the first time. But it was nice to see that I could possibly live to enjoy being 21.

We went and visited families with our president of the branch; he is really head-strong, loving, and awesome.  Did I also mention that he is blind?  Yes that’s right, he will leave with us and hold on to one of our shoulders and let us guide him to houses in Argentina.  He has helped us a lot with helping people be reactivated.  Also he is really funny.

Overall this week has passed by superfast and it really doesn’t feel any different from the others.  But I once again thank all of those who wished me a happy birthday and took their time to send me a card or just a small message; it really means a lot to me.  I love all of you guys.

hasta el proximo lunes! 
chow chow!

elder burke


April 6, 2015 (week 32 in Argentina)

As you can probably tell with the amount of people sharing the same joy of Easter and that Christ Lives, that many people are happy with such knowledge to know that a Savior was given to us that if we believe in Him, we might be saved.  I testify to everyone who reads this letter that I am not unwavering in my testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and that He has personally saved me, not just from the falling world that we live in today, but from natural self.

We had a lot of fun as Elder Nava and I are helping Pedro learn more about the gospel, but it becomes hard when he has a difficult time understanding the true doctrine of Christ.  But have faith and know that it isn't us that are teaching him, but the Spirit that is teaching all of us.  He probably will not be baptized this Saturday, but we hope to help him prepare for the next week if possible.

Elder Nava and I are learning so much from one another and our strength as a companionship gives us more joy in the small times we can find someone who is willing to learn about the gospel.  I've learned that there is nothing on this earth we can do to convince the children of men to accept the gospel, it must be all of their will to make the decisions and to have the thirst to search deeper in the meaning "he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35) Yet I am still happy beyond my capacity when we find just one person or just working.  Always look on the bright-side of life; it does one better to see the way things really are by looking in an illuminated room than a dark room.

We had a lot of fun during this week as everyone was enjoying our messages about the Pascua (Easter and Passover) and how Christ is Risen!  He lives. It was different because there are always a lot of people blasting their music throughout the day, and what was really neat was that during the three day worship that many Catholics do, was that for three days, most of the streets and such were quiet.  It was like a ghost town when we walked around Friday.  It was so peaceful and I really noticed how much of the day to day activity and commotion we make is a lot of noise.  But we loved the opportunity to have a lesson where we weren't next to someone’s house that was blasting music during our lesson (you get used to it and your ability to focus in on a conversation really improves).  Also I loved reading the scripture in Luke 24:5 "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" It makes me think of how people didn't even comprehend just exactly what Christ did for us. He did what no man could ever do: Live after Death.

Afterwards we had CONFERENCE!!!  It was like the super bowl for me because I was just enjoying every tiny detail and talk that I got to hear. And I wish to talk about the one talk that touched my heart with the greatest amount of love.  I never knew how deep and how profound it was.  Jeffery R Holland talked about such love and used such a beautiful story of two brothers and the love for one another as they were rock climbing without harnesses.  I can’t find the link on the church website, but I hope that in the blog there will be a link so that all can watch.

I learned many things as the two brothers were up high, nowhere to go.   First, that the older brother showed his love by pushing his little brother to safety while knowing exactly that he would probably not make it. I saw that as how those who take it in their life as their duty to protect and serve, especially our little brothers, we think that we do not need saving, that we will die a heroic death and that it’s not about us.  But that wasn't God’s Plan.  He wants ALL of his children to be back in his kingdom, so he sent a Savior that we may be saved.  When the older brother made the leap for the ledge and found that he had no hold and was doomed to fall, his younger brother was there waiting.  It touched my heart so deep to know that first I have such a Brother that would do that for me.  My brother Alex whom I love so much, came to my mind as I heard the story being cited that when the older brother, who thought that when he sent his younger brother away, that he may not have his brother see him fall, was there waiting, for he knew he would try a stupid move like that.  I would imagine that the little brother must have known that if he tried to save his brother, he too could be pulled down to the depths of the canyon ravine as well. Brothers are a deep kind of love that I hadn't really thought about; they don’t show it in kisses, hugs, or handshakes, but in their actions of pure unfeigned love of sacrifice.  I would most certainly die for my brother and he for me and to realize this new deeper meaning of love has brought me to write this day.  This story showed me the amount of love Christ has for every one of us.

Every one of us has that one person that we call brother or sister, they can be blood-related, non-related, old, young, strong, weak, across the world, or across the veil, they are that one person that we would do anything for, anything, even give our lives if necessary.  And sometimes they don’t even know that we love them so.  And when we learn that "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13) we don’t really think that one man has already done such for us.  I testify as those two brothers who sacrificed together and made it to the top of the canyon wall with their lives, is the exact same way we too can make it back to our Heavenly Father.  Our brother Jesus Christ is waiting for us to take the leap and at most times we don’t even know that he is there.  If you love that one person enough to die for them, imagine how much the Son of God loves you personally, he sacrificed himself that you may not fall.  I testify that He lives, loves, and is waiting for all of you. I love my Brother Alex more deeply as I have come to feel the Savior’s love and only wish that all of you know how loved you are.  And I say these things in the name of Him Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Burke
Many Thanks!!!
Thanks for all the letters and the peanut butter!  The kids here in Argentina love the candy that you sent and the rings! ha ha!  I died laughing at every one of the letters I got and I felt your guys love from the video that you sent.  I will be writing you guys letters here soon and you’ll probably get them all during June-ish, depending on the time! Love you all!

Soy de BOCA y mi Compañero es de RIVER

McDonalds- this was 100 pesos!  I miss the States but it tastes the same!
Tacos with the Elders

MMMMMM...Peanut Butter!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Because of Him

March 29, 2015 (week 31 in Argentina)

An immense amount of love is here upon the earth as we come nearer to Easter.  I cannot express in words, actions, nor thoughts how great my thanks is to my Savior Jesus Christ.  I wish that all who read this message come to know Him more this month of April and remember that He lives.

As for Argentina, so many awesome things are happening!  

Remember Pedro?  Well he is getting closer to being baptized on April 11 and came to church and had a wonderful time.  The trick now will be to get him to General Conference this next week since it’s a bus ride away for us.  But I have faith that he will come!  Also it’s conference so we are super excited for that!  Pedro is awesome and knows a whole lot about the doctrine of Christ.  It’s hard to teach him sometimes though because he loves to talk and we have to be patient and kind when we are trying to stop him and use the hour we have or the thirty minutes we have to share a gospel doctrine.  He also has a son named Antoni, he is a special needs man and is in a wheelchair and can’t talk a lot, but he gets super excited when we come to see Pedro and is so nice and funny.

Best Partners- Elder Nava and Elder Burke
This last Tuesday we were doing transmites or legal papers so that way I could be legal here in Argentina.  I just absolutely love the Argentine system of work, as in you wait… forever, and if you aren’t there you don’t get what you want.  It’s the same with everything; you really don’t know when someone is going to come because they aren’t very punctual in their line of work.  So we spent 7 hours waiting to sign a piece of paper, and we couldn’t leave the office.  I ended up talking to a lot of people, and even found a nice older lady who lives in my old area Fontana.  I asked her what she thought of the church and she told me that she used to go to church as an investigator in Paraguay but now she’s here.  I could tell her where the church was in my older area and she even knows a couple of members.  She seemed like she needed someone to be there for her.  She seemed really tired and weary, but we had fun talking and getting to know one another for a good while.  Sometimes what people need is not a fun lesson on a principles and doctrine of Christ, but to live it so that we may help people when they are feeling low.  Sometimes being a missionary isn't just baptizing and teaching lessons, but being there for people when they just need someone there to help them feel better.

Another cool story is that as of today I am finally mission nurse over the Resistencia mission! I was already doing side help with some of the missionaries but it’s been easy for now.  And all I have to do now is wait for calls and be ready for when the flu starts.  It already started with me but I got over it in two days but as for our companions in our pension, well Elder Nava got sick too.  I was basically babying him and giving him chicken noodle soup and everything… ja ja.  And then the same passed for Elder Flick and I was in the pension with him for a half a day and then I went to his area with his companion Elder Stout.  It was fun to see how much my Spanish and everything has improved.  9 months almost on my mission and everything is pretty easy now.  It’s cool to see how God helps us with the things that we think are impossible and with time, patience and perseverance, we overcome those challenges and they become mastered.  Just hold on, because it’s not just for spiritual things, but for temporal things as well.  Elder Stout and I were talking to his investigators and then we went to my area to teach Pedro.  Elder Stout just finished his training here in the mission a week ago so he doesn’t have as much time here in the mission as I do but he still has that same spirit that brings people happiness, regardless of your ability to speak the mission language.

Argentina is treating me well as we are now going into winter and that there isn’t as much sun and heat; the days go by a little bit faster!  It’s crazy!  I’m seeing a ton of photos from home and friends and I feel like I’ll be the guy that wakes up from a two year comma and someone will have to explain to me everything that happened!  ja ja!

But as for my personal address to all of you, I hope you know that you are loved not only by me, but by Jesus Christ.  Remember why we have Easter and Christmas.  Remember what He did for you and me and everyone.  Find Him, and you’ll realize that He has been there the whole time.

Love,  Elder Burke
la familia Lezcano
(a good member family who helps us find new people to teach)

Hermana Mara and her family!

Mendoza al Sur: Part II

March 25, 2015 (week 30 in Argentina)

Hola de Mendoza al Sur, Argentina!!!! Que tal mis amigos y familiares??? ja ja!
Elders Ortega, Stout, Fiabane, Burke, Nava, Flick
Top to Bottom

Well this week has no shortage of miracles and new experiences for all of us missionaries. I’ve learned a lot, taught a lot, and ate a lot! ja ja But there is no shortage of the love and joy that I feel every time I get to know the people of Argentina and the many miracles from our loving Heavenly Father.

The first miracle was the many revelations that we receive for the questions in our hearts.  Many a time I have had problems and fears of not being the best of what I could be, but with assurance, Heavenly Father hears my prayers. During our time here in Corrientes, Elder Nava and I have had hard problems trying to find new people, but we found one.  Elder Nava calls him our Amulek.  When Ammon was preaching the gospel to the Nephites and no one would listen nor wanted him around, but as sure enough the Lord blessed Ammon by finding one.  His name is Pedro, he is a humble man with a very keen intellect in the doctrine of Christ.  He asked us if we do anointing with oil and blessings like it says in the bible and we were shocked because it very rare to find someone who has actually read the bible here.  We were showing him the Book of Mormon and explaining to him it’s importance and he asked us about baptism.  We invited him to be baptized and he accepted!  April 11!!! Wooooohoooo!  We are super excited to help him along the way and that we could find someone who is willing to be baptized!
Elder Nava and Burke

We had Elder Luñez of the seventy come and talk to us today about baptisms and how can we come to be better in our purpose as missionaries.  It was nuts because I could see more of my friends from other missions and there are many new faces!  It’s crazy how much news we get every transfer.  It’s crazy to see all these people!  I got to see Elder Swingle and Elder Allred and they gave me cards from Hermana Maria and Natividad!!!  They’re alright and say hi to my family!  They miss me terribly but not to worry I sent back with elder Swingle a bunch of cards.

Mejores companeros en el mundo
(Best partners in the world)
We had district conference and one of the speakers helped us understand our importance as missionaries and also as members. The main speaker said "Satanas odio las misioneros, aquellos que están preparando a ser misioneros, que son misioneros, o ex misioneros." Satan hates missionaries; those who are preparing to be a missionary, that are a missionary, or are a returned missionary.  He hates them because of the endless studying and teaching and serving with the gospel.  This doesn't mean that those who don’t serve a full time mission aren't hated as well. "Every Member a missionary!"  Satan doesn't want any more of the spread of happiness and joy and will destroy the entire world if he can, to stop it.  We need to fortify those who are not spiritually strong and help them become self-reliant in their defense against the adversary.  It was something that I loved and it showed us the importance of institute and seminary.  Constantly work to have the spirit and fortify yourself with the word of God. It will help you always.

Another cool story is that when we were traveling in remis (taxi service) to the district meeting, I talked to the driver for a good 20 minutes about his kids, he showed me awesome photos of when he cut his achilles tendon (not sure if I spelled that right?) which was super gory and it reminded me of the hospital and how I am weird and love stuff like that!!!  But when we got to the end of our trip I invited him to come to church and shared my testimony.  He was super interested and was very nice.  Turns out he lives in Elder Flick and Elder Stout’s area so I gave them his address after he said yes that we could come visit his family.  Elder Flick and Elder Stout hugged me Sunday night telling me they went to the man’s house and they said that they've been looking for something better for their family and what do you know the next couple of days you get 4 elders crammed into a tiny remis.   I absolutely loved that the spirit was there and all I did was get to know him and show sincere love and concern for his family.  That is what this gospel is all about; everything good that comes from action, words, or thoughts is from Heavenly Father.  Don’t be afraid to share joy and happiness with someone else because remember Satan hates missionaries, and it’s our duty as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint to help those in need and be happy like we are.

I absolutely love this gospel and the comfort and peace it brings to those in need.  If you’re a member, help someone who isn't a member come to know more about the gospel.  If you’re not a member watch this and know that you are loved and not alone.  I testify as a personal representative of Jesus Christ that He lives and that we are not alone in our struggles here upon the earth.  Help those in need who do not know that He lives, believe that He can help.  I testify that you will feel more peace in your moments of despair.  I love you, Christ loves you, and most of all Heavenly Father loves you.  I share these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

With love, Elder Burke
Street painting here in Mendoza al sur- I had to take all of these
pictures during the siesta when all the chorros (thieves)
are sleeping- so my camera wouldn't get stolen!

Elders Ortega, Stout, Fiabane, Burke, Nava, Flick
(top to bottom)