Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sorry for not writing last time.

June 6, 2016

So as you all may have noticed... I didn’t write last time.  I am terribly sorry for that and hope that I can at least give you all a good update as to what has happened.  So I’ll work from the most recent to the past week and try to do good on writing. 

This week we had four investigators in church!  Yup it was just awesome!  I had to go walking on a fast Sunday, sick with the flu or something, and then walk back from church.  I was so completely weak, but at the same time I knew that if I was just faithful to my fast and just kept putting one leg in front of the other, the Lord would help me get there and back again.  And it happened.  I had to cook some soup and sleep for studies to go back out to see people in the afternoon. Go Siesta! ja ja.

The four people who came were obviously Espifanio and Fransica.  We are just waiting for some papers to get them married, but they keep going to church like champions.  The second is Dora Gonzolaz who is a Jehovah’s Witness who is super awesome.  She literally says to us that all she wants to do it learn from God and be forever humble so that way she can enter his Kingdom!  So when she came to church the members already knew her and when we went to go look for her for in the Doctrine Principles class, the members told us that "Oh no elders, you can’t steal her from us, she’s staying in this class".  We were more than happy to let the members fulfill their responsibilities.  And then there was Lisandro who we walked with.  We had to wake him up and go a walking for a long time to the church but he seemed to like the church. 

Last week we were teaching Dora and she was enjoying the amount of scriptures that we have from the Book of Mormon that help make things so clear.

We read 2 Nephi 29:7-8
 7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

 8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

And we were only planning on reading about 7 but then she reads ahead and then tells us that that makes complete sense for her and she wants to keep reading the Book of Mormon.  It just makes you have a lot of hope.  So when we asked her about being baptized she told us that she had an experience when she was catholic that when she went to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and she felt like her entire life was a lie and she wasted so much time in a church just to find it wrong, and then she said that she is starting to find the same thing and feeling here listening to us.  She wants to wait until she has all the facts right.  The Holy Ghost helped us understand more as to how to explain to her that what she is doing will not make her feel like her life was a waste.  I explained it like this and I hope it makes sense in the time that I have to write:

Our lives are compared to that of a student who is learning the art of pottery.  All who join obviously wish to make a work of art.  Therefore we learn to whomever will have some experience, those who are a little ahead of us, or those who are seeming to have success and are close to ending their project.  We often forget that we have instructions and a teacher and we just solely rely on others or ourselves for help.  So we create different versions of the pot as it spins and tends to change its form until we have to make corrections from the advice given from those that are near.  Then suddenly as we look at the instructions and then follow them, the pile of clay then becomes more of a pot that is sculpted for perfection, and we continually confide in the teacher to help us make corrections.  We are constantly surrounded by thousands of opinions in the world from philosophies to religions, opinions to ideas, but we often forget that when we were sent here to this earth, we were given a plan to follow that will sculpt us into being the perfect person we were designed to be.  We must always confide in the scriptures and Heavenly Father first before anyone else in our lives, for people change but He will never.  If we have to change course it is better than staying in the wrong, because it’s not where we have been that counts, but where we are now that will affect our eternal salvation. So don’t be afraid to change for the better!

With Lorena we are still working with her to quit smoking so that way she can feel the spirit.  It’s a real big problem for her and all we can do is help her to go down in smoking until she doesn’t want one more cigarette. But she’s still progressing. 

It’s getting close to the end but the way I see it, even the last moments of your life really show what you are made of.  If you give up before it’s over than what was all that hard work before for?  It is looking like we won’t get that last baptism before I go, but I’m more focused on preparing those people to be baptized for the next missionaries that will teach them.  What we do in the last moments of a fight, of a game, of a struggle, or a goal really will show you who you are and what you stand for.  Always stay strong till the end and keep the faith! 

Love you all and wish the best for all! 

Elder Burke


May 23, 2016

A LONG TIME AGO (Oh my gosh it was just a week since you last wrote. dude stop being so trunky!) IN A CRAPY ARGENTINE CYBER FAR FAR AWAY (If you´re not in Argentina)....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ELDER BURKE AND HIS NEWLY TRAINED MISSIONARY ARE FOUND IN THE AREA OF LAS PALMAS WHERE IT SEEMS TO HAVE MANY OPORTUNITIES TO SHARE THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. THEY HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE SUCCESS IN BRINGING OTHERS UNTO CHRIST, WHICH NORMALLY MEANS HAVING THEM MAKE BAPTISIMAL COMMITMENTS.  SO FAR IT SEEMS FOR THE TWO MISSIONARIES THAT FINDING SOMEONE TO BAPTIZE HAS FAILED.  THE AMOUNT OF WAITING FOR ESPIFANIO AND FRANSICA IS WAINING ON THEIR PATIENCE AND MANY HAVE NOT BEEN DEDICATED TO KEEP THE SMALL COMMITMENTS; SUCH AS READING THE BOOK OF MORMON OR COMING TO CHURCH.  HOW FRUSTRATING RIGHT?? 

Yes it is true... I enjoy writing these letters more than my mom does to read them.  But as the super- duper awesome intro states…there is a huge opportunity to see a lot of progression in Lorena.  Hermana Sylvya is helping us with the relief society to help her feel more welcome at church and Lorena stayed for two hours instead of one this time!  Progress is small, but to me in seeing the big picture, this was big for her!  So we are helping her quit smoking.  It’s really awesome to have the spirit with you when people doubt about the things that seem impossible for them to do.  We comforted her with the assurance that if she does her part she will be able to quit smoking and feel the spirit even more. 

After this week we have been struggling to find people who are willing to commit, and what happens, just as we pray for more people who are prepared, we get them.  Heavenly Father is reliable and never fails us.  We are talking to some people who are pretty cool like Dora (Jehovah’s Witness who had a member of her church be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints before he died and she is dying to see what he saw), Narcisa (a woman who has talked to the missionaries in Buenos Aires before and wants to be baptized when she can be married to her boyfriend who lives with her, shes waiting for the divorce papers to go through) and more.  It’s a great time to be a teaching! 

Over all I feel like if there is anything that makes us progress it’s the opposition and adversity in our lives.  Think of it this way, the more resistance you have, the more you have to push.  God can’t tempt us outside of our capacity, nor try us beyond our limits.  As it says in:

Mosiah 4:27 "...for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. 

We should be diligent in all times. If we find ourselves in what seems like the impossible, God is waiting for us to realize that we can do all things by him.  If we find ourselves with a really hard trial that seems to go on forever we should rejoice because that means that our Father who is in heaven sees us ready to grow and learn.  The trees are made stronger when the wind constantly tries to blow them down, our muscles become stronger after stressing them to their limits, and the missionary always runs faster when he has a dog chasing him down!

Doctrine and Covenants 136:31
"My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom."

As I look at all the obstacles that our investigators have, I only see it as the things that will make them stronger.  And as a missionary, I am so happy to be there to tell them what they need to hear and more than anything, shine my light so that they may see that God is real and has all the power to save. 

 Keep going, keep pushing, don´t focus on impossible,
you´re qualified, you´re worthy, and above all capable
If you don’t believe in me and don’t think me true,
All I can say is confide in God and He will strengthen you.

Love you all and I share these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Redeemer and Savior, amen.

Elder Burke

Better Late than Never!

May 16, 2016
Well here we are in another Argentine Cyber writing on a frustrating keyboard that doesn’t press well.  And it’s pretty cold now as we are finally in winter. bleh.  But it’s better than sweating all the time so we are happy.  But sadly the shower broke so we only have cold water, looks like we will be repairing it today to survive.  But don’t worry, we still have been bathing ourselves by heating up a pot of water then mixing it with some cold water to get that nice warm 4 minute pour a cup of water over your body to wash off type of shower.  It’s great to be in that again.... well.... mas o menos.
Sorry for not writing last week, I was busy writing a lot of people and figured that I wouldn’t have a lot of time to write a big news update.  But I’ll fill you in on how Mother’s day went:
Crying, laughing, being in aweshock because the kitchen is so new and different, and it’s getting warm over there and it’s cold here.  It was a great day.
And now for the week updates.
We are finding new people who are progressing but none of them could come to church because it rained and when it rains, all the roads get messed up and then super muddy and if you don’t have a car, you just basically stay inside all day.  It’s the worst day ever for a missionary- when there are rain clouds on Sunday.  IT’S CALLED SUNDAY FOR A REASON, STORM CLOUDS! ¡¡¡QUE LOS NUBES SE VAYAN YA PUES!!! ja ja. Well we always have next Sunday.
We are teaching a smallish family with two daughters and its somewhat hard here to teach everyone at the same time because everyone is doing other things, or is gone.  So we mainly teach Daiana and Ayelen.  They’re really awesome and they like Jessica (young women’s counselor) a lot so we are having success in teaching them.  We are trying to get people to progress and it seems like they are progressing little by little.
We talked to Espifanio about faith.  We told him that if he chooses to obey God first, everything will go good in the end.  So when we invited him to exercise his faith by going to the registro civil and getting papers to be married in the next week he said “yes”.   Looks like he is gonna be married here in the next couple of  days! yay!  But we will be verifying with him here in the next couple of hours. So keep your fingers crossed and a prayer in your heart.  I have been studying a ton about faith, and confiding in the Lord’s promises.  It’s really hard to exercise faith when you are surrounded by doubt at every corner, and the doubts are usually somewhat convincing right?  So as I was reading for this transfer, we have talked about having faith in that the Lord will provide.  And when we asked Heavenly Father for help in our baptismal goal, we were shocked to find just those people that are progressing and have accepted dates to get baptized.  But when we were doing all in our power to get them to church, it seemed that after all of our efforts, it seems like the very jaws of hell are gaping open for us and our investigators with the amount of drama, obstacles, and rain that seemed to be against us, but the Lord has counseled us "that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." D&C122:7.  So we are still going and trying, I can feel it in my bones that we will succeed because we have the almighty God on our side, and nothing is impossible to Him.
I talked about faith last minute (yes they do tend to give missionaries last minute talks) this Sunday and I like what I even learned as the spirit illuminated my understanding of faith:  Faith increases our understanding of what type of person we want to be, not important to the outcome of our work.  There have been plenty of men and women unrecognized to the work yet did so many selfless acts to others.  I know too that when we do all that we can to invite people to know the gospel and be baptized, not all of them and perhaps none shall accept.  But the amount of baptisms you will have on a mission doesn’t show your faith, I believe that your faith is shown when you truly have no results of your labor to show, yet you did your hardest, and you keep going.  We often think that by obeying God we are "entitled" to receive some type of blessing, yes that is true, but we often look at it in a materialistic way, and when we don’t get what we want immediately, we tend to say to ourselves "it isn’t true. Why should I try to keep doing good if it seems that good never comes for me?"  But lo the most important part of faith is that it shows you who you really are, especially when you won’t receive perhaps any glory from the world.  But the type of glory we shall receive is exaltation and salvation with Him who created us.  Don’t give up the fight of your faith just because you are down a couple of points, there is still time left on the clock to have a miracle performed by Him who is mighty to save.  You shall win if you trust in the Savior. Y ou will look back and say just as Paul did of old before being beheaded "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith"  2 Timothy 4:7. SO DONT GIVE UP WHEN THINGS GET HARD!
I love all of you and hope you all know it.  I’m sure there will be a time where we can talk face to face and laugh and cry and enjoy the company of one another.  Write me if you want to talk, send me pictures of your life and fun things that are going on in it, you won’t regret it!

Elder Burke

May Your Burdens be Light

May 2, 2016

Well it’s that time again of the week, read Elder Burke’s letter and hear more about Argentina, maybe read some weird experience that needs more explaining, and some up-lifting words of encouragement.

This week in Argentina:

Elder Burke finds himself going into denial that it’s almost coming to an end here in the mission, but he recovers hope through his awesome newbie companion, who is also his step son!  There is a lot of dogs (again) that try to attack.  Elder Burke is closing in on ending all of Doctrine and Covenants. A new hope found in the talks of the Stake Conference of Resistencia.  There is so little time and so much to do, but how can he do it??  Coming to you this Monday 3:00pm Mountain Standard Time, brought to you by Cyber in Argentina.

So as I would like to start off, on the personal side of being a missionary for so many months now, you realize how small your part is in the progression of the people and how it is important that we must do our part.  God is incredibly talented with placing the right tools for the right job, or in other words, putting his missionaries in the right homes and helping them say what they need to say and do what they need to do.

We have a new guy that is progressing and his name is Walter.  Here in the Branch we had 4 baptisms and he went to watch.  The water was lukewarm, but it was still cold outside.  It was pretty awesome.  When we talked to him he tells us that the more he hears us, the better he feels. When we call him to confirm an appointment to go the next day, he tells me personally what he is going through.  He lost his Mother about 2 weeks ago and when we found him we really helped him feel better that he will see his mother again if he follows the teachings of Christ.  He tells me that when we come and when we call, he feels so happy and good, and he made his comments to one of the members that we brought to the lesson named Ariel Rivero.  He really helped Walter understand the point of view from a member of the church.  When people look at us they feel like we are monks or nuns and that to join the church they have to go and do what they do.  It’s funny to tell them our lives before the mission and how we are normal but just different as missionaries.

Commercial Break!

We are now having a better success with maintaining people to hear the word of God.  Normally it’s easy here to find people to teach, but it’s hard to find people who are willing to learn.  As a "yankee" we are commonly known as the people everyone wants to get to know, but they have zero interest in the gospel that we share, so we have had to basically tell people what we do and why it’s important.  We did divisions and I went to Resistencia and as we were contacting, I had some great practice to really put to test what I wrote two weeks ago- how to be a friend to complete strangers.  We talked to people who immediately opened up to us and told us their problems, and even though they didn’t want to hear more they still felt good after talking to us, and that’s the most important.  What would we say to someone who doesn’t know anything of the great blessing it is to have our Eternal Father send us blessings continually?  It’s just like the commercial break, it’s trying to convince people to put down their umbrella and feel the blessings of the gospel!

When we sit with the poor it’s even harder to teach because it’s basically the people who dropped out of school because they didn’t want to study.  I am very happy that my parents helped me understand the value of a good education and completing that education!  Without that I wouldn’t be able to function in my life.  So as we teach them it’s very, very hard to not lose patience because you are trying to guide them to think of the Savior and understand but they are so easily distracted.

We will return after these following messages!

Going on to the best part of helping people is getting to know them.  How many people have we judged wrongly because we didn’t know their whole story?  We went to a house that Elder Allen wanted to visit and we found a member who hadn’t gone to church for a long time, so we ended up talking to her and her daughter of the basics.  We often tend to judge people who have gone inactive and we sometimes treat them as traitors or something.  I told the Mother that we weren’t there to nag her to go back into the church, we were there to serve her in ways we can as   missionaries of the Lord.  So she confided in us as we taught the restoration and the story of Joseph Smith and how it all comes down to the Book of Mormon.  The spirit was so strong and the warmth of the spirit eliminated the cold.  She had excitement in her eyes and she was starting to think more of her daughter who wasn’t baptized and sadly doesn’t really know who God is.  We helped her with that.

When we sit there and think of home teaching as members we often think that there will be an end in trying to reactivating them.  Once they have accomplished the mission of having them return to the church then it’s over, but it’s not.  It’s until the End.  We mustn’t look at our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters as burdens but as a true devotion of love.  Jesus once said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30. When we reach out to people not thinking that our interaction with them will have an end, we become better people and truly understand that it’s a blessing to serve others, never a chore.
I love you all and hope that in your bright future you too can help those in need without thinking inwardly but outwardly as the savior would.

Love Elder Burke

True Intent

April 25, 2016
Good morning to all! I know that its almost 12 here and probably the afternoon in other places today, but I wanted to write everyone and tell them that the Church of Jesus Christ is the true church that comes from divine guidance and has the authority given to those who are called to be prophets and apostles to guide the decisions of the church.  Because it’s not their church, but Christ’s!  I know it to be true because the more I read the Book of Mormon, the more I follow the laws and ordinances that pertain thereof from the church, it shows me and helps me feel that this church is truly guided and governed by the will of God.  I invite all to obtain a stronger testimony or start building it today though a couple counsels that I will write.  If you follow them I give you my promise that you will receive a great amount of Joy in your life.
The purpose to our life:
We came here to have a body, to grow and learn to do good continually by our OWN freewill and choice.  God gives us the chance to obtain never ending happiness and it is through his son, Jesus Christ that we can obtain it.  Why?  Because he is our exemplar and will help us in our desires to do good.  He is our only way to return to our Heavenly Father.
During the week we have had the chance to talk to many people, new and old, and help them understand that if they truly want to know the truth, if these things are true or not, they are gonna have to dig deep and have a real intent to do these things.  It is like the purpose of having your very own family.  You have plans that it is successful and perfect, you don’t even think about the odds nor think it would be a waste of time, so you strive to do your part to provide for your children and teach them how to be disciplined and good people.  You want the best for them and you fill the majority of your time helping them more than yourself and find yourself in that process.  So as we explain to people that to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is really the true church or not, they will have to put in effort and see what will happen in their life and judge for themselves if they are  guided to live a better life centered in Christ or not.  But the trick to that sadly is doing it.

John 10:11 the Savior says:
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Alma 5:41
Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd.
As we teach many people we don’t ask them to do much, just to read the Book of Mormon normally, pray often, ask with a sincere heart if it’s true and obey the commandments.  To obey the commandments, we obey our Father in Heaven and we become strengthened by the wisdom of He who knows all things and sees all things. To do God’s will is good!

Moroni 7:13
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
So if we recognize that God wants us to do good then we will maybe have a desire to do good as well.  We all want to do good, but until which point do we draw the line and not want to do anymore good?  We have Espifanio here in our mission who has to wait a bit to get married, he’s not very educated but he wants to do good continually.  He is always saying hi to strangers and helping people laugh.  I think that  his sincere desire is to do God’s will or just do good, is what has helped him start coming to church and to obey the commandments and he has started praying even more.
Now for the educated it is a never ending process of debates, points of views, and THEIR own way to live life.  We need God’s help now more than ever with the amount of problems that are passing in the world.  So we should look for HIS help, HIS way.  We must ask with a sincere desire to do HIS will.  If we do HIS will, will not good come of it? 
We had a discussion with some of our investigators who kept telling us that they didn’t feel an answer or didn’t really receive a confirmation that what they are doing is true.  I would like to use a very well used scripture:
Moroni 10:4-5
 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;
and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

Too many times we ask God if what we should do is correct or if we should make a change, when he doesn’t seem to answer us it’s probably because we aren’t really ready to follow the answer.  It’s more of a vain type of question and we don’t receive because we really weren’t intending on obeying it anyway.

Moroni 7:6
6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

Therefore we must really understand what is "real intent".  It is simply this:  Aline your life to what God wants it to be.  He knows better than all the books and philosophies of man and knows how everything runs in this universe.  Why would we not want to know what he wants us to do.  Now I do not intend in anyway saying that subjecting yourself to God is in some way a type of slavery, brain wash, or ignorance. No.

John 8:32
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

As I accept more of what God wants me to be, I become more intelligent, more free from the world and more happy.  Truly happy.  I choose to obey Him and I know that makes Him happy because He doesn’t force me nor oblige me to do anything.  He only invites me to do good.  If you don’t believe me then try what I have said;  Ask God the Eternal Father if what I am saying is true or not.  But it is. I know it.  I invite all to increase their faith and knowledge in God and do HIS will, not yours, and see what really will happen with your lives.  The book of Mormon is the evidence of that restored truth that makes us free.  Read it and apply its principles into your life.  They come from God.  I promise that as you find out what Heavenly Father wants you to be, you will only thank Him for giving you all the tools and teaching necessary to make you a better person, an unbreakable person.  You have my word and my testimony which I seal in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all and hope that you may all know that it is a true love to bring you to the truth.

Elder Burke